The headline of this thread is part of the front page headline of our March 2007 newsletter, Issue No. 44. The complete headline reads: Dunkeld Priest: “Scottish Catholicism is quite Presbyterian” – No surprise then that he disposes of the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
The headline introduced a report on a Dunkeld priest – Fr Tom Shields – who completely betrayed the Faith in an interview which was published in the Church of Scotland periodical Life & Work…
The Life & Work interviewer remarks that “Catholics have varying interpretations, even mongst themselves, about what exactly Transubstantiation means” (and it is not clear if this observation comes from the interviewer, or the priest) but Fr Tom Shields comments: “If you understand ‘substance’ in a commonplace way as ‘depth’ (as in ‘that person has depth’) most Catholics would agree that, yes, in the substance of the bread and wine something special happens here.”
Now, as I pointed out in my commentary at the time, “something special” is the description you would apply if you witnessed a daylight robbery at your local bank and managed to find a policeman within an hour… And, again, as I pointed out in my commentary at the time, I know of at least one RE teacher on record as saying that if she ever has the power to remove one single word from the dictionary, it will be the over-used to the point of being meaningless term “special”.
So, why am I resurrecting such an old newsletter report? Has Fr Tom Shields repented of his theological and ecclesiastical gaffes? Not quite. Unfortunately, like most of the priests who have featured in our newsletter over the years, Fr Shields is now featuring in the secular press for less than edifying reasons. Click here to read report.
But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I’m keen to discuss this sad news of another priest suspended pending police enquiries into historical abuse claims, not so. I was about to close down and look for another topic, when I noticed this little nugget: Last year, Bishop of Dunkeld, Stephen Robson appointed Shields to head up the church’s youth formation programme and to help with religious education in schools.
A priest who can’t explain the doctrine of Transubstantiation to an adult Protestant, isn’t going to be a raving success in the world of the Terrible Teens, now, is he?