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Editorial message for February 20

Jesus says

"I have come that you may have life, life in all its fullness." John 10:10


The Curate's Diary is dedicated to leading people into that life, The Spirit Powered Life

The Curates Diary

Shillelagh, Arklow



Please understand that it is not possible for me to take phone calls. Enquiries to Martina at 053 942 9926 between 9.25 and 2.00 on Weekdays





Faithful Friend,

Thank you from the depths of my heart for your continued loyalty to the Curate's Diary in these difficult times.

I especially thank those who have continued to promote the Curate's Diary despite many people objecting to its contents, and sometimes despite being insulted for promoting it.

Our circulation has indeed suffered greatly as a result of my coverage of recent events in the Church. Indeed since I began the series on Pope Francis and the problems in the heart of our Church, our circulation has dropped by 850 and is still dropping. About half of that is as a result of these articles. There has also been a knock-on effect on other aspects of my ministry also, including the loss of speaking engagements.

Why then do I not turn a blind eye to what I perceive as problems in the Church?

It certainly would be far safer to do so. But every time I even think of that option, I find myself automatically thinking of families in which problems were covered up, or even hushed up.

I have either heard or read the testimonies of abuse victims where other family members almost certainly knew that there was a problem, but chose to turn a blind eye.  I have even come across instances where victims were ostracised by family members when they reported the abuse.  They were accused of damaging the family.

This is the image that comes into my mind automatically, if even for a second I ask myself would it not be better to ignore what I perceive to be problems in the Church. Indeed when problems first began to arise in relation to Pope Francis, I too didn't want to know.  I even tried to block some things out of my consciousness.  One such incidence happened while Cardinal Muller was still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine and Faith.

One morning when Cardinal Muller was celebrating Mass, his secretary got a phone call from Pope  Francis who insisted on speaking to Cardinal Muller immediately. His secretary explained that Cardinal Muller was celebrating Mass. Pope Francis still insisted that he wanted to speak to him. Immediately! To interrupt the Mass!

Naturally Cardinal Muller wasn't happy, but his secretary explained that he had already told Pope Francis that he was celebrating Mass, but yet Pope Francis wanted to speak to him. Now!

Had it been me, I would not have left the altar regardless of who was on the phone.

Every morning, if it is possible, I spend 30 minutes before Mass seeking to prepare my mind and heart for the celebration of Mass.

I cannot comprehend any cleric or indeed any person interrupting Mass or any ceremony for a phonecall.

How can one possibly put one's mind and heart into celebrating the Mass if one is interrupted in the middle of it to answer the phone?

To me to interrupt Mass in this way is grave matter:- grave matter in lack of reverence and respect for the Mass, and also grave matter in this case because it involved the abuse of power.

When I heard what had happened, I was shocked, but I pushed this incident and other troubling incidents out of my mind, and got on with life, supporting Pope Francis and challenging his critics. However eventually things happened which I could not push out of my mind any longer.

I am a firm believer in the teaching of Jesus as we find it in the New Testament. 

As years have gone by, my eyes have been opened more and more to the wisdom, truth and beauty of every word that the New Testament records Jesus as having said.

It is for me a real proof that Jesus was truly God.  How otherwise could he have come up with such amazing and revolutionary teaching?

Jesus is, as He said, the Way, the Truth and the Life. And as He also said, ³Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.²  There is a sense in which a person hasn't totally met Jesus if he or she isn't guided by His teaching.

Regardless of the cost, I will stand for the teaching of Jesus.  Publicly!Given my own love for Jesus, given my belief that his teaching is the true word of God, staying silent when a leading Church figure speaks or acts in a way that is contrary to the teaching of Jesus, is not an option.

Naturally it saddens me when we lose readers. But I am only losing readers - not my life.

Spiritually it is not a bad thing to suffer some small loss for the sake o Jesus.
It means that one is putting Jesus before self.

There is, however, a sad side to it as well.  My life is totally dedicated to leading people to a living relationship with Jesus, and the fewer readers we have, the fewer people I can help in their spiritual journey.  I can only

trust that one day, Jesus will in some way use my witness for the good His kingdom.

Ironically, but thankfully, one reason so many people have a difficult with the Pope being criticised is that we have had outstanding popes for so long.

If people had a better knowledge of Church history, they would not have near as many scruples about a Pope being challenged

Indeed if they knew the New Testament, they would know that if any cleric is not "walking in the truth of the Gospel", he SHOULD be challenged.

"When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood to be condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself, for fear of those in the circumcision group. The other Jews joined in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all ....... " Gal 2:11-14

Note two things about this passage
1. Paul opposed Peter when he saw that he was "not walking in line with the truth of the gospel."

2 "The other Jews joined in his  (Peter's) hypocrisy, so that by their
hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."

If a spiritual leader, and above all a Pope, in this case St. Peter, (or in our case Pope Francis), is not "walking in line with the truth of the gospel", he is in a position to lead many astray if he is not challenged.

Even potential saints, like St. Barnabas are liable to be "led astray", ifthose who see the wrongdoing remain silent.

When a Pope or spiritual leader is "not walking in the truth of the Gospel", then one has a moral obligation to do what is in one's power to counteract it.

There have been several Popes who were far from "walking in the truth of the Gospel" and who sadly were responsible for leading many astray.

Take the case of Pope Stephen VI who had the body of Pope Formosus exhumed, then dressed up in papal clothes and then excommunicated.

Before becoming Pope, Bishop Formosus had a zeal for the faith, and may have been responsible for the conversion of Bulgaria.  But the then Pope, John VIII, rightly or wrongly, accused him of being power hungry and summarily excommunicated him.
Shortly afterwards Pope John VII was killed by his own relatives.  The next Pope reinstated Formosus as a bishop. He was later elected Pope in 891.
In February 896, he had the Roman Emperor, Guy III, overthrown and replaced by Arnulf of Carinthia.  But he himself died just two months later in April 896.  His successor died just 15 days after becoming Pope.
The next Pope was Stephen VI ‹ a long time enemy of Pope Formosus and supporter of the overthrown Roman Emperor, Guy III.

He called a Synod, (the synodal approach!) ordered the body of Pope Formosus to be exhumed, had his decaying corpse dressed up in papal vestments, and then put Pope Formosus, or at least his rotten corpse, on trial for perjury, for breaking canon law, for coveting the papacy and for illegally serving as bishop.

Pope Stephen then interrogated the rotten corpse of Pope Formosus!

Since the corpse could not speak, a deacon had been appointed to be Pope Formosus' mouthpiece. He was half-hidden behind the throne on which Pope Formosus' dressed-up corpse had been placed, and his duty was to answer on behalf of Pope Formosus.
Naturally he knew what to say!  He had Pope Formosus plead guilty to every charge put by Pope Stephen. When Pope Stephen demanded why he did all these bad things, the reply came back: "It was the evil in my heart."s
Pope Formosus was then declared guilty on all counts by Pope Stephen. He was deemed unworthy to have been pope and his corpse was stripped of the papal vestments, his consecration fingers were chopped off and his body was thrown into the Tiber. 

Thankfully, even by the standards of the time, people realised that Pope Stephen had gone too far. They were so incensed that they locked him up. Sadly he was later strangled in his cell.

Within two years, with a new Pope and a new Holy Roman Emperor, Pope Formosus' excommunication was lifted.  His body, which had been taken from the Tiber by his supporters and secretly buried, was exhumed again an re-interred with the bodies of the popes in St. Peter's.

He has the distinction of being the one Pope who was excommunicated before he became Pope and again excommunicated after his death.

Meanwhile Pope Stephen VI's actions should cleanse all rational people of exaggerated understandings of papal infallibility.

There is papal infallibility, but there are also exaggerated understandings of papal infallibility.

Pope Stephen VI  life is also a reminder to us that any pope is only pope for the time being. Popes come and popes go, but Christ's Church goes on forever.

Sadly, however, history also shows, that if a Pope is "not walking in line with the truth of the gospel", and appoints cardinals of a similar nature, the problem may last for several papacies.

Meanwhile our faith should be in Jesus Christ, and our  allegiance to the Church which Jesus founded.

These are the two great pillars that we have a duty to uphold and defend.

If any cleric, even a Pope, is "not walking in line with the truth of the gospel" it is our duty to do what is in our power to help correct the situation.

Doing so is an act of faith, hope and love; of faith, because it springs from our belief in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life; of hope, because we know that one day Jesus will triumph; and of love, because we love our Church too much to stay silent.

A situation in which the Pope and those around him are seen as being above challenge is not healthy for the life of the Church.

With hindsight, I realise that it would have been better had there been a greater spirit of debate and consultation at the heart of our Church during the papacies of Pope St. John Paul and Pope Benedict.  With a proper spirit of consultation and debate, the abuse crisis could have been handled better; the New Catechism could have been better worded in places; while the texts of the Mass leave much to be desired.

Meanwhile we are called to do what is in our power for God's kingdom.

Many are trying to give the world a God it wants, a God that it will be comfortable with.
Our challenge is to do all in our power to give the world the Lord and Saviour that it needs, Jesus Christ.

As we approach the New Year, may God's blessings go out to you.

May you come to know how much He loves you.

I appreciate all you have done to support my ministry.  Some of you have been exposed to abuse for doing so.   I can only pray that the Lord will bless you a thousand fold.

Each day, in daily Mass I explicitly ask God's blessing for our promoters,

Yours, in Christ

Thaddeus Doyle (Rev)


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