188 responses

  1. Thank you very much to Paul Mansbacher, the Protestant Fundamentalist who agreed to discuss the theology of salvation with us, in terms of Catholic and Protestant beliefs, and to Peter Mackin our regular columnist and blogger for his magnificent contribution.

  2. Salvation for Christians comes from following God’s will. He took human form to show how it is possible to aspire to be “Perfect” like God. Jesus put a radical interpretation to the law that had been used to justify people before God. Salvation is a grace, received, not merited. But, as St James said our acceptance of the will of God must be visible in our works, as Jesus taught us.

    • Roy

      I disagree with you that salvation is a grace received rather than a reward based on merit. If that were true then Our Lord would not have declared that many are called but few are chosen, or spoken of the wide road of the many that leads to perdition and a narrow road of the few that leads to eternal life, etc.

      I’m not quite sure if you mean by your statement that God selectively gives His saving grace to some but not to others, which would make God unjust, which is unthinkable, or if you’re a believer in universal salvation, in which case Jesus must have been mistaken when He spoke the words above and when He declared (and I paraphrase from memory) “not all those who say Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven…”

      The Apostles frequently spoke of heaven having to be earned by grace-meriting good works rather than being given gratis. St. Paul, for example, spoke of running the race to win the incorruptible crown, of working out his salvation “in fear and trembling” and of refraining himself from many things, chastising his own body “lest perhaps having preached to others I myself become a castaway”. We also read elsewhere in the writings of the Apostles how no fornicator, drunkard, backbiter, etc., has any place in the kingdom of heaven.

      Just looking at the lives of the Apostles, the saints and martyrs, we see lives of prayer and penance, of heroic mortification in a spirit of holy poverty and detachment. Indeed the good thief who was saved on Calvary first acknowledged the Crucified Saviour’s innocence to his fellow (blaspheming) convict before accusing himself of deserving the punishment he personally was receiving. Hence, he confessed his own sinful living, accepted his own cruel death in a spirit of penance for it and then turned to Jesus and asked for mercy, which he promptly received. So you see that even the good thief had to merit heaven by sorrow for sin, confession and penance? The same option was there for the other thief but he chose not to avail himself of God’s mercy and perished.

      So yes, heaven is available to all by grace but the grace must be corresponded to and built upon with the merits of good works, like the wise virgins who trimmed their lamps, the men who multiplied their talents by good investment, the labourors who were hired to work all day in the heat of the fields. No one gets rewarded in this life or the next unless he earns his reward, God has written that condition into both His divine law and the natural law, Luther’s rejection of it notwithstanding.

    • Roy,

      The Council of Trent teaches that, yes, the process of salvation begins with the grace of God which touches a sinner’s heart. I copied the relevant piece from the Catholic Encyclopaedia and hope it helps:

      “The Council of Trent describes the process of salvation from sin in the case of an adult with great minuteness (Sess. VI, v-vi).

      It begins with the grace of God which touches a sinner’s heart, and calls him to repentance. This grace cannot be merited; it proceeds solely from the love and mercy of God. Man may receive or reject this inspiration of God, he may turn to God or remain in sin. Grace does not constrain man’s free will.”
      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13407a.htm

      The Catholic Encyclopaedia goes on to say that this grace “disposes” the person for salvation – it’s a very useful read.

  3. Roy Fanthome,

    What you say about salvation comes from following God’s will goes right to the heart of the discussion, which I found extremely interesting in the video. It’s how do we know God’s will that stumps so many people. Why is it that the very well meaning Protestants (like the lovely man in the film) go straight to the Bible, and believe they can know God’s will just by interpreting it for themselves, while us Catholics believe we need the Church, the Tradition that came before Scripture and in fact gave us Scripture, in order to know God’s will. That is the nub of the issue, really.

    It seems to me that I would be floundering if I was to rely on myself interpreting the Bible. I could so easily make a mistake or many. Holy Mother Church is the safest place, the “ark of salvation”, to be sure of saving our souls.

  4. I got to about 2’30”, after Petrus’ point about faith and works, and I noticed that Mr. Mansbacher, in allegedly disagreeing, actually confirmed the Catholic teaching, though he attempts to distort Catholic teaching by saying that “it’s not not by works that salvation occurs.”

    Well, the Church does not teach “works alone,” though he attempts to interpret it as such. The correct teaching is faith + works (works being the application of the virtue of charity), not works alone. Furthermore, without faith, i.e. not being in a state of grace, works are indeed useless for salvation, since they only occur at the natural level.

    I’d like to add that this discussion is refreshingly civil and thoughtful – light years away from the mutual sound-byte screaming one usually encounters in public forums – so what a great reference this is! Thank you, Editor and Petrus.

    • RCA Victor,

      Your final paragraph highlights a major aim of this video – to show that the kind of ecumenical – “avoid disagreeing with anyone about anything… avoid dogma” activities that are conducted in the name of an ever-elusive Christian Unity, are a manifest waste of time. It’s perfectly possible to discuss and explore issues of controversy without ending up in a police cell facing a charge of breach of the peace 😀

      • Editor,

        I was at first surprised that Mr. Mansbacher was labeled a “Protestant fundamentalist,” as such a label would be considered off-putting, or maybe even offensive, here across the pond. However, he seems to be content with said label.

        Is the Church of Scotland considered “fundamentalist”? Over here, that label would apply not to Presbyterians, but to Evangelicals, Southern Baptists, Church of God, Pentecostals, etc.

        On the liberal side of the Protestant spectrum, on the other hand, would be Methodists, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, Unitarians, some Presbyterians, and Episcopalians.

        • RCA Victor

          Ultimately, they are all fundamentalist in their unified rejection of the Catholic Church and an insistence on interpreting Scripture in accordance with their own lights. They don’t necessarilly have to be Christian to be fundamentalist Protestant, as we know from the general acceptance of “gay” and women clergy, divorce, etc.

        • RCA Victor,

          If you think about it, WE are regarded as “fundamentalist” even by other Catholics. There doesn’t seem to be any rule about the word, as long as it’s used as a stick with which to beat those of us who adhere to Catholic Tradition or, in the case of Protestants, those who tend to interpret Scriptures literally.

          I should have asked Paul why he chose that label for himself but I’m guessing that it is because the Protestant denominations have gone along with the permissive morality of our times, and he feels THEY have departed from the truth found in Scriptures.

          As he came across in the video, I’ve found Paul (on the two occasions I’ve met with him) to be considered and thoughtful in discussion – not at all like the common perception of a “fundamentalist”.

  5. Editor,

    I think the video worked out really well. Paul is a very nice man and is very strong on moral issues. It was a pleasure to spend time with him afterwards and learn of his courageous fight against the moral evils of the world.

    I would just like to comment on Paul’s comments on the Bible saying bishops must have one wife. He used this to try to show how Catholics have deviated from Scripture. I only wish I’d said that Presbyterians rejected bishops outright, whether they be married or not!

    • Petrus,

      The video worked out really well – for Paul and your good self… as usual I spoke ten to the dozen and tripped myself up a dozen times, sounding like a train between Edinburgh and Glasgow! Never mind, Paul’s considered comments and your nuggets carried the day. Yes, that would have been a good point to make about the Protestant rejecting bishops altogether, despite Scripture obviously supporting the episcopal office. Hold that thought – there will be other opportunities, no doubt.

    • Petrus,

      Don’t beat yourself up over that – it’s not possible to think of everything in a single conversation as I’m sure we all know on a daily basis. There was loads covered on that video which I think will help lots of people – it certainly helped me. So, you’ve done a power of good and just how much good, you won’t really know until the General Judgment.

  6. I think the bottom line with fundamentalist Protestants like Paul is that pride sits at the root of their position, even if they are unaware of the fact. In fact Protestantism in general is the fruit of pride, by which I mean people who are unwilling to submit in obedience to the teaching of the Church as expounded by those chosen by God to expound it. Hence we have all the Protestants all reading and interpreting Sacred Scripture according to their own bent of mind and all reaching different conclusions. That’s what happens when one appoints oneself his/her own authority in divine matters. I am reminded here of the Gospel story of the followers of Jesus who turned away from Him when He announced the teaching on His body and blood. These were the first Protestants, the first to reject Christ’s teaching on Transubstantiation. “How can this man give us his body to eat and his blood to drink”, they reasoned, and they abandoned Him. To His remaining disciples Our Lord asked “will you also leave me?”, to which Peter responded “to whom shall we go Lord, for thou hast the words of eternal life. This is the difference between divine faith and human faith. Divine faith is a supernatural gift by which we believe and obey all that God has revealed through His Church, no matter how mysterious and unfathonable those revelations are to human reason. Human faith, on the other hand, is a faith that rejects all that reason cannot explain and is therefore worthless. Yes, Protestants are rationalists and that’s why they insist on Sola Scriptura in order to choose what reason permits and reject that which requires divine faith and real effort. It would be great if we could all cherry pick the Scriptures in this way to make our lives as easy as possible, but that is not how God deigned it to be. Humility is at the heart of true faith, which is to believe everything God has revealed through His Church, whether we can rationalise the mysteries or not. If we move from that to self interpretation and self indoctrination then we have effectively made ourselves our own God and declared to the Church, our Mother, as did Lucifer to God, Non Serviam, I will not serve!

    • Athanasius,

      You wrote:

      I think the bottom line with fundamentalist Protestants like Paul is that pride sits at the root of their position, even if they are unaware of the fact. In fact Protestantism in general is the fruit of pride, by which I mean people who are unwilling to submit in obedience to the teaching of the Church as expounded by those chosen by God to expound it”

      You appear to be perilously close to making definitive judgements on the souls of others which, as you know perfectly well, is prohibited. If “Protestantism is the fruit of pride” as you say, then it must be the pride of the Catholic priests, such as Martin Luther and John Knox who sparked and led the Protestant movement, it was they who led the people who trusted them (unduly, as people often trust priests) out of the Catholic religion.

      Your rather simplistic lumping together of all contemporary Protestants, presuming them to be in bad faith, which is the manifest import of your words, is scandalous. Truly scandalous – i.e. an obstacle to others who may otherwise be drawn to the Church.

      The Gospel conversation which you quote, sees Our Lord turning to the remaining disciples and asking if they, too, would go away. He did not insult those “first Protestants” – nor did he try to force them to accept His teaching. There is never any hint of forcing – or of bitterness – when Our Lord laments loss of Faith – never. Quite the reverse. Just as He told the repentant thief on the cross that, this very day he would be with Christ in Paradise, so he did not castigate the other thief for his lack of Faith and repentance. There is no “YOU, on the other hand, are going to Hell…” recorded in that Gospel account. We may perhaps reflect that, while the Good Thief made a very public act of repentance and conversion, the other thief, outwardly belligerent and faithless, nevertheless, in the depths of his soul, may have behaved differently.

      Indeed, there are many stories of conversions after many years of thought, discussion (no doubt, too, prayer) and reflection; John Henry Cardinal Newman, springs to mind. By your way of thinking, he should never have become a vicar in the Church of England in the first place, he should have “humbly” accepted the claims of the Church many years previously, instead of spending years studying the matter; as an Anglican, remember, Newman believed that the Catholic Church had three Branches: Anglicanism, the Eastern Orthodox and “Roman Catholicism”. Does the fact that he did not work out the truth more timeously, demonstrate that he was a prideful man? That, of course, is patently ridiculous but that is what you are, in effect, saying. All Protestants should know, on the button, that they are wrong and the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ. And if they don’t know.. well, that’s down to their pride, not, in the words of Pope Saint Pius X “the easy going weakness of Catholics”. Words, incidentally, uttered at the beatification ceremony for (laywoman) St. Joan of Arc: ” In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked, lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics.”

      I’d ease off on judging the pride of others; we really need to concentrate on our own (lack of) virtue – in my own case, that keeps me very busy indeed.

  7. What an excellent video! It is a great example of how Protestants and Catholics can discuss the “bones of contention” as Petrus called them, without any anger or bitterness. I think that’s a great example of working as Soldiers of Christ to try to bridge the gap of understanding with those who are not members of the Church.

    I wonder if Paul knows that there are Protestant ministers who acknowledge that the Protestant Bible, the King James version, has thousands of errors in it?

    Also, we should remember that, even today, with our formal education system and laws requiring us to be educated or attend school, there are thousands of people who still cannot read? So, I don’t think Christianity can have been meant to be a “religion of the book” as it’s often called.

    I enjoyed watching the video – though it’s a bit long, I usually don’t even start to watch videos that are an hour long – and I learned a lot from it.

  8. Bravo! Great video. It was all so natural – just a group of friends having a chat about Christian teaching on salvation. I thought it was great.

    I was interested to read here that there are thousands of errors in the KJ Bible so I Googled just now and found a number of interesting links. I am posting just this one because it gives some examples
    https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/how-to-understand-the-bible/are-there-mistakes-in-the-king-james-version-of-the-bible

    One of the differences between this chat and the ecumenical meetings is the invitation to Paul at the end to come into the Church – I loved that! I hope he does, in the end. He seems like the quintessential gentleman, and very zealous. We need him, no offence Petrus, LOL!

    • Josephine,

      Thank you for that information about the KJ Bible. I’ve even heard Catholics praising it, so that is a very interesting link, indeed.

  9. I must confess to groaning when I saw the length of the video! However, I persevered and was richly rewarded. Brilliant, helpful, informative and oh so civilised. Well done folk!

    • Helen,

      Thank you – and thanks to everyone else who has offered kind encouragement.

      The length of the video was my fault. I had the idea of a free-ranging conversation, as we do over a cup of tea (we had that before we began filming!) but it’s now clear to me that we (that is, I) need to be more organised and stick to the point, not come and go as we tended to do. Video-master told me to learn from Petrus who, in his unsolicited opinion, was the only one of us properly organised. Put Paul and moi in a room alone to chat and we’d soon be reported missing, was his overall message, cheeky devil. Still, I know he’s right, so future conversation videos will be limited to around 20 minutes or so. I hadn’t realised that the length of the video is the same length of time it takes to put it on YouTube so I really have learned a lesson or two from that video!

  10. I found the video conversation really educational – Muchas gracias!

    As we approach the Orange marching season in Scotland, it was refreshing to witness such a friendly exchange on – of all subjects – salvation! That would normally be a recipe for fisticuffs, LOL!

    Great stuff!

  11. Editor and Petrus

    Great video, and very well done in explaining the teachings of the Church. Paul is a very nice man, but I was rather irritated when he mentioned the state of the monasteries/convents at the time of the Reformation. I am sick of hearing how appalling the monks and nuns were; there were definitely scandals involving some institutions, but the numbers were magnified a hundred-fold by the reformation propagandists. William Cobbett, God bless him, a protestant, defended the institutions of the Catholic Church in his History of the Protestant Reformation, a book which should be mandatory reading for every Catholic, in my humble opinion!

    • Therese,

      Thank you for your kind words about the video..

      I didn’t quite catch what Paul was saying about the monasteries (although I guessed!) but in any event, it’s really impossible to correct everything in one conversation.

      There are, as you say, some Protestant writers who are honest about the pre-Reformation Church; I remember once, having been asked to help out teaching History, that I had to say to the Acting Head of History that I just could not use the text books because they were full of anti-Catholic propaganda and that was one of the examples I gave. She agreed that if I could find other materials that would be fine to use. A History teacher acquaintance in another part of the UK, sent me some excellent materials which BEGAN with very positive examples of good monastic life, including a timetable of the rigorous lifestyle of the monks. Only then, after the positive had been embedded, did the author of that programme touch on the less than admirable side of things.

      So, good point, well made.

  12. I have to say that given the nature of the topic, it would have been difficult to make it much shorter. Perhaps we could have got it down to 45 minutes, but it’s impossible to do this type of video in a shorter time.

    • Petrus,

      I’m sure that if we timed your excellent contribution it would be less than 15 minutes. It was only my stuttering and ramblings that made it so lengthy! She said, the humility oozing, as ever… Or, maybe not…

  13. Listening again to the video I noted that Paul referenced 1 Timothy 3 quoting that a bishop should not have more than one wife, by which reference he was clearly inferring that bishops in the early Church were allowed to marry. However, the Douay Rheims text explains as follows: “”Of one wife”: The meaning is not that every bishop should have a wife (for St. Paul himself had none), but that no one should be admitted to the holy orders of bishop, priest, or deacon, who had been married more than once.”

    We know from recorded history that St. Peter was married when first called by Our Lord, yet after his ordination he ceased to live with his wife in the carnal sense. This is what I meant earlier when I wrote of the folly of Protestants interpreting the Sacred Scriptures by their own lights, being led inevitably into erroneous and contradictory beliefs. The only safe way to understand the written word of God is by embracing the divinely-inspired interpretation of the Church which gave the world the Bible.

    • Athanasius,

      I thought the points you make were well covered in the video and your quote from the DR Bible confirms what Petrus (or was it Editor?) said. I also liked it being made clear that priests are celibate because Jesus was celibate – that fact is always lost in these discussions, modernists make out that celibacy was introduced for financial reasons, so the video was extremely helpful about that.

      • Laura

        The Catholic points in the video, though made forcefully by Editor and Petrus, can never be too often re-stated, as I’m sure you will agree.

        Personally speaking, I am truly not convinced that such public discussions with Protestants are either productive or prudent. I know that may sound a little harsh and uncharitable but I have had many such exchanges with Protestant preachers throughout my life, either in the street or at my front door, and never yet found one of them to be genuinely seeking after truth. They are usually experts in Scripture, which kills any hope of invincible ignorance for them, with the sole purpose of converting others to their belief.

        In Paul’s case, here is a man who has reached a certain age and depth of knowledge in religious matters over many decades, yet is still entrenched and confident in his Protestant position. I did not detect even the remotest indication that Paul feels he has anything to learn from Catholics, quite the contrary. The danger here is that his Scriptural knowledge allows him to throw Biblical quotations around all over the place with Protestant interpretations that could very easily convince the less knowledgeable listener that he offers a valid argument when in fact the opposite is true.

        Agnostics are far more likely to convert by discussion than fundamentalist Protestants, although the latter occasionally do receive the grace of the true faith from God if well enough disposed. In general though, I tend to dismiss the Fundamentalist Protestant with his Biblical knowledge at the ready and his quotes to hand because he should already know better.

        The Catholic Church is clearly the only Church founded by Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls. She is endowed with a 2000 year divine pedigree which includes an unbroken succession of Popes from Peter. Additionally, there’s the evidence of the early Church Fathers, the saints and martyrs, many incredible miracles (still visible today) including Eucharistic miracles, Marian miracles, incorruptible saints, astounding bodily cures, etc., etc., not to mention her history of having civilised and educated the world. The Church gave the world its schools and universities, its hospitals and many of its major scientific breakthroughs, not to mention a missionary activity to the world’s poor and suffering unparalleled in human history.

        Against all of this, and I am only scratching the surface, the fundamentalist Protestant still argues with his Bible in hand that he, not the Church, is the more blessed and clear sighted when it comes to the salvation of souls, which is why I referred in an earlier post to pride. Our Lord makes it very easy for humble souls to see the truth of His Church, no Scriptural expertise required just simplicity of heart and will.

        I’m sure Paul, as observed by a few, is a gentleman to debate with and a man of upright morals. Notwithstanding these human attributes, however, it is certain that he will perish for all eternity if he does not embrace the Catholic religion whole and entire before death. That eminent truth to one already knowledgeable in religion requires no Scriptural debate, bearing in mind that such convoluted dialogue can often be used by the devil to have the opposite effect on listeners to what was intended.

        • Athanasius,

          Having lived in the USA “Bible Belt” for 9 years, I can confirm that the expression “invincible ignorance” is quite apt. The more fundamentalist, in fact, the more invincibly ignorant…and the more quick to point out the faults of others…as well as the corruption in the Church…

          I notice Paul has not come on here to engage in further debate. Did any of the bloggers notice any indication that a dent was made in his Protestant beliefs during the video?

          I wonder what Paul would have to say about Chapter 5 of Fr. Michael Muller’s, CSSR, “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” Ch. 5 is the documented story of the public exorcism, by the Bishop of Laon, France, in 1566, of one Nicola Aubrey, via the Blessed Sacrament.

          Here is an excerpt:

          ” As the strange circumstances of Nicola’s possession became known everywhere, several Calvinist preachers came with their followers, to ‘expose this popish cheat,’ as they said. On their entrance, the devil saluted them mockingly, called them by name and told them they had come in obedience to him. One of the preachers took his Protestant prayerbook and began to read it with a very solemn face. The devil laughed at him, and putting on a most comical face he said: ‘Ho! ho! my good friend; do you intend to expel me with your prayers and hymns? Do you think they will cause me any pain? Don’t you know that they are mine? I helped to compose them!'” [emphases by Father]

          The whole chapter, not to mention the whole book, is riveting reading, and an irrefutable testimony to the Real Presence. This chapter 5 is itself entitled “A Wonderful Manifestation of the Real Presence.”

          • RCA Victor

            I think you probably meant to say “the more fundamentalist, in fact, the more ignorant”, since “invincible” ignorance removes culpability.

            You’re right about fundamentalist Protestants pointing out the faults of the Church, a strange thing for them to do considering that they profess salvation for all who believe in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice regardless of how they live their lives. Such accusations against the Church, and there are many, always remind me of the Pharisee who said to Our Lord “do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil”. I don’t know why I make the parallel but it instantly comes to mind every time I hear someone accuse the Church.

            I really fancy a read at that book you cite and quote from. Must get me a copy of that asap. Maybe Paul could be talked into buying a copy as well, it may speak more eloquently to his soul than any number of human discourses could, by the grace of God of course.

        • Athanasius,

          Thank you for the excellent points you have made in this thread. I agree with you that the truths of the Faith can never be repeated often enough.

          However, I am astonished that you don’t appear to realise one crucial fact when engaging in these types of discussions with non-Catholics. It is God who converts, not us. We may never know the fruits of our labour. You really have no way of knowing, in this world at least, the good you have done engaging in discussions with Street Preachers. A seed may have planted that will only come to fruition years later.

          As for public discussions with heretics, some of the saints did this very thing. St Dominic engaged the Albigensian heretics in public debate, as did St Patrick with the pagans in Ireland. What we need to remember is that while Paul may not ever convert to Catholicism, others who watch the video will be touched by the discussion, just as those who watched the public debates of St Patrick and St Dominic will have been.

          God’s ways are not our ways and I truly believe we have a duty to use modern media to engage as many people as we can. To say otherwise is tantamount to throwing in the towel and simply preaching to the converted.

          • Petrus,

            I couldn’t agree more. Your post helped me a great deal to understand how important it is to have these kind of conversations.

            Great video, loved every minute of it. Thank you for your clear explanations.

            • JeanMarie

              Haven’t seen you on the blog before, glad you joined the discussion. Perhaps you would like to expand a little on why you think such public discussions with fundamentalist Protestants are important. I would also value your opinion of my observation that such debates also carry a risk element that can very easily make them counter productive.

              • Athanasius,

                I don’t have much access to a computer, so I can’t blog a lot. I do read some blogs, including Catholic Truth, when possible. I hope it’s OK to just come on sometimes – if not I apologise for giving my opinion. I am not a regular although I would like to be. I probably won’t be back on today or any time soon (due to travelling and work commitments this next week or so) so I’ll do my best to answer your questions right now.

                I think we should take every possible chance to give the faith to people outside the Church, including fundamentalist Protestants. Isn’t that what we were confirmed for?

                No, to be honest I don’t see any risk element. In a video you can stop the tape, make notes, check things out – it’s very flexible. It’s a great way to reach various people all over the world. I thought the two Catholic speakers in the video were able to answer Paul clearly and simply.

                I’m actually quite surprised that anyone would disapprove of people taking Catholic Action. I thought that was our duty.

                I’m not a Medjugorje believer but I will finish by thanking you for responding to my comment, LOL!

                • Jean Marie

                  I understand your situation re blogging, I have exactly the same constraints right now. I think Editor and everyone else would agree that all are welcome to comment here regardless of how often or not they can manage to contribute.

                  As regards Catholic Action, I’m quite prepared to be corrected on this but I don’t think there’s a precedent before Vatican II for public lay Catholic Vs. Protestant debates. If memory serves the Church forbade such initiatives for two reasons. 1. the Catholics debating could fall into error or accidentally teach error. 2. Those listening to the debate might become convinced by the Protestant arguement and fall into heresy. In the video in question that is highly unlikely, given the clear explanations of Editor and Petrus. Still, the danger exists and we should therefore refrain from such public exchanges except if/when put on the spot and forced to defend the truth.

                  Concerning our Catholic duty, we are of course obliged to defend the Faith whenever it comes under attack, that’s why we are confirmed soldiers of Christ. Otherwise we must seek to convert by good example, do what we can in corporal works and naturally inform any non-Catholic who inquires privately about the Catholic religion. We are not, however, given leave to enter into public discourses with Protestants who remain entrenched in their heretical views and merely wish to use the occasion to convince their opponents that they too should be Protestants, that would be to put ourselves in a very dangerous occasion of sin. Anyway, generally speaking lay preachers have always been unique to Protestantism, they are foreign to Catholicism. The Church is visible to all who seek religious truth, her teachings being very easy to understand and her divine nature evident, which is why by the 1950s she was bursting with converts.

                  The Catholic Truth newsletter and blog are choc full of great resources for those who seek the truth, that’s where Protestants and others with good will should be looking for answers. If they want something more, like a public debate, then it is very likely that they have ulterior motives and should be declined.

                • Jean Marie,

                  Apologies – I almost missed this.

                  You are, of course, welcome to participate in any of our discussions whenever you are free to do so.

                  When we first opened the blog, I made a point of welcoming every new blogger personally, but it soon became clear that all too often these were one-off visits or commentators, and so I gave up!

                  I now engage with whoever comes on to participate, when they choose and – to be honest – forget about them the rest of the time! Well, the space in my memory box is diminishing so I now tend to restrict my brain activities in that department to whoever is in front of me at the time!

                  Your concluding sentence made me smile. There’s going to be a Medjugorje article – something of a marathon effort – in the July newsletter, so watch out for that!

          • Petrus

            You’re absolutely right to state that we may never know what good we may have done by our conversations with fundamentalist Protestants. Conversely, I would suggest that neither do we know what harm we may have done by them since we are not St. Dominic, St. Patrick or any of the other gifted saints God put in the way of heretics as a grace for their conversion. I suppose it’s the public aspect of the debate that frightens me really as it holds the potential to lead others into error as well as out of error. Still, God, I’m sure, sees the good intention.

            I can only recount from my many debates with Bible carrying fundamentalist Protestants that not a single one of them had any intention of listening to a word I said about the Church, for they had already examined the Catholic religion and rejected it. As you rightly say, though, and I just assumed everyone knows this, God converts souls, not us. We are mere instruments that God may use from time to time to convince others to accept His promptings, but in my experience these are people usually less firmly rooted in Protestant doctrine and more open to truth.

            I’m not so sure modern media methods have increased conversions to the true religion, though I am fully aware that many have lost faith as a result of them. The Catholic Truth experiment is very rare in this age of communications where we have ecumenism being peddled on the one hand and bitter zeal on the other. I would like to think Paul was impressed with the particulars you and Editor put to him but I didn’t see any sign of it and I personally doubt it. Still, who knows, time will tell.

            • Athanasius,

              I am the first person to agree that I am no St Dominic or St Patrick. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek to emulate the great saints.

              I also agree that modern media can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t use them. The same could be said for books – there are many bad books around, but this doesn’t mean we should shun books, does it? Same goes for television. There’s danger in all these forms of media, but we should use them for good. Goodness, if we took your argument to its logical conclusion, the editor should close down the blog quick smart! Much good has come from the blog and I believe good will come from the videos we make too.

              • Petrus

                I absolutely agree that we should always seek to emulate the saints, but in their prayers and penances rather than their unique missionary lives.

                I also agree that modern media can be used for good, though it rarely is. This blog is one of only a very safe places for Catholics online, the majority being either heretical or Modernist. It’s not the same as choosing books, since the only religious books you would buy, presumably, are ones that carry the imprimatur. That’s not the same as going online and wandering around all kinds of apparently Catholic sites where all manner of opinions and ideas are floating around at the touch of a button. I’m sure you can see the difference.

                I would very much argue that this blog should not close down, quick smart or otherwise, for it is, as you and I both know, one of the few places of true Catholic teaching online these days. And I am not criticising the apostolate of making videos in which healthy debates on matters of faith take place, I think that’s a generally good thing. What I would suggest though is that we perhaps stick to educating our fellow Catholics during this crisis by addressing the errors of Modernism. To that end it may be worth looking at the possibility of inviting a modern bishop of priest to discuss the various doctrinal issues around the documents of Vatican II, or discussing Communion in the hand, etc. In other words, lets first serve the members of the household of the faith during a very confusing time of crisis. There’s greater merit and less danger in that approach, I believe.

                • Athanasius,

                  In fact, the video in question was not a debate. It was a conversation to show that it is completely possible for Catholics to engage in polite conversation with non-Catholics without compromising on the faith. Indeed, the video is a rebuke to the modern Ecumenical approach.

                  • Petrus

                    Friendly conversation would take in various subjects from the weather to football or a thousand other subjects. I converse in this friendly manner with Protestants, atheists, Muslims and others every day. When an exchange between Catholics and Protestants is focussed entirely on religion, batting back and forth with Scriptural quotations and various other apologetics designed to win the opposition over, then that is a debate, not a conversation. It’s an honest debate, unlike ecumenical equivalents, I’ll grant you that, but it is a debate.

                    • Athanasius,

                      Each and every one of your comments on this thread has astonished me. Beyond words.

                      I was blessed to grow up in a parish with three priests who preached brilliantly on the lay vocation. Something, incidentally, that I’ve not heard in the 12 or so years I’ve been attending a “traditional” church. Not once.

                      During my years of growing up prior to and on the cusp of Vatican II, I was encouraged to join the Legion of Mary, so even as a 13 year old junior Legionary I was aware of our Confirmation duty to approach – repeat, “approach” – both lapsed and non-Catholics with a view to allowing God to use us as His instruments to bring them to the Church.

                      Now, even then, there were Catholics – I had a relative-by-marriage in my own family – who thought that this was NOT for lay people to do, we should pray and read holy books, maybe help around the church with the flowers and cleaning – but I knew instinctively that this could not be right. Long before I’d heard of great lay saints like St Catherine of Siena, I knew that this could not be right. Nor could it be right, as some have argued, to only exercise our duty to defend and spread the Faith when asked by someone, in response to a question or statement of error. If the Gospel imperative is to go out and bring souls in from the highways and byways, then, even our little junior Legionary group knew we had to find ways to do that.

                      And so, as I grew up, I was quite used to being allocated, as my work task, a street in the parish to visit, with another Legionary, going door to door, introducing ourselves as members of a Catholic group from the nearby parish, and could we have a few minutes to explain our purpose? There were amazing encounters, and again, amazing encounters when we took a pamphlet stall onto the streets of Glasgow (I have a photo of myself at around 17 or so years old helping at that stall, right outside Stirling Library in Queen Street), when people of all religions and none would stop to look at the pamphlets and chat with us. Nobody EVER said “Oh, at last! I see the light! I must become a Catholic! Help me!” Doesn’t usually work that way. We were calmly aware and confident, however, that God would touch these souls in some way, or, perhaps other souls, as a result of our efforts, because, as we had learned from the Legion Handbook, in the “economy of grace” we might never see any results from our efforts in this world. However, one way or another God would use them. We didn’t think of ourselves as doing anything unusual, by the way. We were taught, in sermons and in our weekly Legion meetings, that this sort of Catholic Action was the norm. We spent a lot of time trying to recruit fellow parishioners to join us – with extremely little success. Life is much easier when one sticks to being a Sunday Catholic, I’d imagine. In summary, it is our elementary missionary duty to do whatever we can, in whatever way is open to us, to spread and defend the Faith. Being belligerent and telling non-Catholics that they are damned if they don’t listen to us and become Catholics, isn’t going to cut it. Mind you, I never tried it. I do always, however, – as the video testifies – make clear Catholic teaching on the necessity of the Church for salvation, and then leave to God the workings of grace in the soul of the person(s) encountered.

                      As for your suggestion about us inviting modernist priests and bishops to engage in one of our debates – that did, really, raise a smile. It’s been almost impossible to get any of them to answer the most polite letter(s) of concern or enquiry for the past (lost count of) years, never mind engage in discussion with us, because they consider Catholic Truth to be next door to schismatic, if not the real thing, so that really did raise a smile. However, I have tried. Let me remind you…

                      Not so long ago, I engaged in quite extensive correspondence with the Bishop of Motherwell (Bishop Toal) expressing concerns about the homosexual activist priest in Cambuslang, Fr Paul Morton. Since my requests for this priest to be disciplined in some way had fallen on deaf ears, I decided to invite Fr Morton to a public debate. He used the delaying tactic of saying he needed to ask his Bishop’s permission. Sure, I’ll wait. In due course, the reply came back, Bishop refused permission. End of that bright idea.

                      Then, again, some time ago now, I enjoyed some very friendly correspondence with one of the UK’s more traditionally minded Bishops, shall we say – I put it no stronger than that. He was very kind in his responses and even expressed his support for Catholic Truth, and gave us unexpected and very warm encouragement. I had to double check the addressee, thinking he may have mixed me up with the Editor of The Tablet. But no, he pronounced himself on our side. That gave ME the courage to invite HIM to address one of our Conferences. “Well… er… um…difficult…Not now… maybe in the future…”

                      You get my drift? If you – Athanasius – can find any priest or bishop (“liberal” or “traditional”) willing to have a public conversation with us whether by video or any other means, let me know.

                      In the above video, I was able to post – via the good offices of our video-master – a couple of clarifications (where, although Protestant commentators do think Gen 3:21 is an example of God making sacrifice, I can’t see that interpretation, never heard that before, I was able, before publishing the video, to point viewers to the Catholic Bible, chapter and verse for them to check this for themselves) and, at another point, where I had misquoted the priest giving absolution, video-master posted a correction right above my pretty little head even as I was doing the misquoting… so there is a very limited “risk element” of error being spread, as you appear to fear.

                      Frankly, anyway, we’d never do anything if we were allowing the “risk element” to dictate. We cannot become paralysed with that sort of fear but must learn to exercise missionary zeal for the Faith, always of course, taking care to speak with accuracy and true charity, both to those of the household of the Faith (however tenuous their grip on that Faith!) and those without.

                      I realise that I was very blessed to have grown up in a parish where the priests DID understand the nature and purpose of the lay vocation. They, in turn, were blessed to have missed the large dose of clericalism that did prevail before Vatican II and now, ironically infects the so-called traditional movement, where too many priests see the lay vocation as being to pay, pray and obey -despite the signs of the times clearly crying out for imaginative Catholic Action.

                      I suspect we will – yet again – have to agree to disagree on this, so you won’t be surprised to learn that our videos will continue, as and when we can manage to organise them, and according to what we consider to be important issues where we may offer the Catholic perspective.

                      My invitation to the LGBT+ Scotland group, for example (posted on another thread), has gone unanswered, but I plan to forward that to Stonewall, to ask if they would like to supply a representative. We can’t just sit back and allow homosexual activists like Fr James Martin SJ (USA) and Fr Paul Morton (Cambuslang) to mislead all and sundry into thinking that Catholics may ignore the natural moral law on the say-so of the LGBT+ lobby.

                      So, watch this space!

            • Athanasius,

              Nice to see you back in harness again – seems ages since you were on the blog. Welcome back!

              I must admit I am surprised at your comments on this thread and I have a question for you.

              If the two Catholics speaking with Paul on the video had been priests, would you still have been of the same opinions as you’ve expressed here? I know lots of Catholics think that that sort of discussion should be left to priests and nuns, so I’m wondering if that is your position as well?

              • Margaret Mary

                Thank you for your kind welcome back, even though, as you say, I am back in harness. I always said I was an old work horse!!

                I think it’s important here to point out that my comments are not in any way intended to be an attack of any kind on Editor or Petrus, who did a grand job answering Paul’s various queries. I am simply trying to point out that I do not believe that debates with fundamentalist Protestants is conducive to good. What I think would be better is if the energy and knowledge was put into debates with Modernists, challenging them with the Church’s age old doctrines and practices against their innovations. That, I believe, is where Catholic Truth’s strength and duty lies, not in wasting time and risking confusion with Protestants who seek to convert Catholics rather than be converted to the true religion.

                It may be a position others don’t share, but it is my opinion and I feel it is only right that it should be stated without prejudice.

    • Athanasius,

      You may have missed it, but the points you make on this matter (1 Tmothy 3) were covered by us in the video. Indeed, we went further to show that the root of the celibacy rule lies in the fact the Christ was celibate and that priests are meant to be “other Christs” in the world.

  14. Athanasius,

    I would question your claim that we are only called to emulate the great saints in their prayer and penance. This is completely foreign to my vocation as a Dominican. We have a clear duty to preach the gospel in whichever way we can, using the Dominican saints as our model.

    I would particularly like to highlight the example of St Catherine of Siena, a lay woman, who not only committed herself to prayer and penance, but Catholic Action too.

    I know you are expressing a private opinion and that’s fine – we do not have to agree on everything and over the years there’s been lots of examples of this sort of thing. What I will say, is that it is not helpful to write things like “Catholics were forbidden from” without providing a cast iron source. If we are indeed forbidden from engaging in the kind of video produced above, please provide source.

  15. Petrus

    It may come as something of a surprise to you to learn that before Vatican II the Church defined ecumenism as dialogue between Catholics and Protestants with a view to winning the latter back to the true religion. In other words, ecumenism before the Council was defined precisely as you define the video exchange with Paul, that is, debating with a Protestant in a friendly, yet honest, manner in the hope of winning him back to the true religion. Not to be confused with modernist ecumenism, which is actually pantheism in disguise, this pre-Vatican II defined ecumenism was also forbidden to Catholics, which is why Catholics were never at liberty to participate in the great ecumenical conferences to which they were often invited. The Church, clearly wise in such matters, foresaw exactly where such an enterprise would lead, and so it proved post-Council. The result has been a winning over of Catholics to Protestant heresies rather than Protestants returning to the true religion. As an aside, it was a Domincan priest, Yves Congar, who championed the ecumenical movement after Vatican II.

    Now, I think you confuse living the Gospel with preaching the Gospel. It is for those ordained by God for that purpose to preach the Gospel, the bishops, priests, etc. Our part is to live what they preach in whatever way providence directs us according to grace. That always begins with prayer and penance, without which we would be charlatans, followed by good works. We know the works of the lay Catholic in general are works of spiritual and corporal mercy, as well as defending, if and when required, the truths of our faith, giving reasons for our hope when questioned. So yes, we have a Confirmation duty to Catholic Action but that does not include lay preaching, which is unique to Protestantism.

    As I said before, I am open to correction on this but I cannot find a single source of lay Catholic Vs. Protestant debate prior to Vatican II anywhere in the world. I am fairly certain that there are Papal Encyclicals that forbid Catholics from such gatherings, though I cannot presently bring them to mind. But that doesn’t really matter because the very fact that Catholics never indulged in such debates before Vatican II is proof enough that it was not encouraged by the Church. Good and upright intentions are not sufficient to justify the danger inherrent in such enterprises.

    Here’s a quote to emphasise how strict the Church was on heretics pre-Council St. Anthony the Abbot would not speak to a heretic, except to exhort him to the true faith; and he drove all heretics from his mountain, calling them venomous serpents.” (St. Athanasius on the life of St. Anthony the Hermit).

    If we think this a harsh approach then we fail to understand supernaturally, as the Church understands, the subtle and destructive poison of heresy.

    • Athanasius,

      No, I’m not confusing living the gospel with preaching the gospel. We are called to preach, not in the same way as the priests and religious, but in a way suitable to our station in life.

      For your interest, here’s the relevant extract from our Rule, which has papal approval:

      “Following in the footsteps of the Apostolic Patriarch Dominic and of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena, all Tertiaries should devote their lives to the glory of God and the salvation of their neighbors in an ardent and generous spirit.

      Mindful of the traditions of our ancestors, Tertiaries should labor in behalf of the truth of the Catholic Faith and for the Church and the Pope, in word and deed, showing themselves to be ardent defenders of their rights in all things and at all times. They should also help in apostolic works, particularly those of the Order.”

      With respect, once again you make statements about the Church forbidding this type of enterprise without offering any authoritative source. The only quote you give isn’t exactly convincing. The ecumenical assemblies you refer to cannot be compared to our humble discussion with Paul.

      Now, do you recall many years ago we hosted a “Catholic Truth Debate”, during which you debated with atheists? I don’t remember any scruples on your behalf back then when you were invited by the editor to take a lead role in such a debate.

      • Well Editor, it appears we will have to agree to disagree once again. I acknowledge your zeal for the faith and your good intentions but I cannot acknowledge your claim to public debates with Protestants as representative of the Traditional Catholic lay apostolate, primarilly because I am aware of no precedents before Vatican II, your own Legion of Mary experiences notwithstanding.

        What I do agree with you on is that my rather fanciful notion of debating instead with Modernist bishops and priests was pie in the sky, they’re never going to put themselves in the spotlight to be shown up for what they are, so that was a daft suggestion.

        I also agree with you in the matter of a complete absence of inspirational preaching from Traditional priests these past 12 or so years. I remember the early days of the Traditional Catholic movement and it was far more lively and zealous in this country. Thankfully, other countries such as the U.S. still have zealous and pious priests to inspire them, though that doesn’t help us much. Perhaps if the Traditional priests showed a little more of a lead in Catholic Action we wouldn’t feel so much the need to improvise the best we can. Confusing times indeed.

      • Petrus

        Yes, I remember well the debate with atheists some years ago, a debate I participated in that resulted in one weak Catholic observer losing the Faith. It was that particular experience that prompted me to write as I did with regard to this latest public initiative and the danger inherrent in it.

        Having now made the point I will not labour it further. Suffice it to say I stick by my comment that such lay public debates with Protestants, and I emphasise “public”, have no precedent in Catholic Action prior to Vatican II.

        • Athanasius,

          You have been very explicit in your claim that the Church has forbidden lay Catholics from engaging in this type of discussion with non-Catholics, but you haven’t substantiated this with one single source. Therefore, I can only conclude that this is your own opinion.

          You claim that we should only emulate the saints in their penance and prayer, yet the Rule of Third Order of St Dominic, which received papal approval in 1923, explicitly says that Tertiaries, lay men and women, should engage in apostolic action. The editor has given an explicit example of apostolic action by the lay faithful before Vatican II, which included approaching non-Catholics and engaging them in discussions about the faith. Again, you have provided not one source to support your claims.

          As I said earlier, you are absolutely entitled to your opinion on this. What is very dangerous is to present an opinion under the guise of official Church teaching. I would urge you not to do this because it can be misleading.

        • Athanasius,

          That debate did not result in one blogger losing the faith. The blogger you mentioned lost the faith around a year before that debate took place. I know this because he was a friend of mine.

          He merely sided with the atheists who took part in the debate. Prior to this, he hadn’t blogged for months but had been exchanging email with me privately and was quite staunch in his embracement of atheism. The debate was his “coming out party”, not the cause of him losing the faith. It is quite wrong to suggest otherwise.

          • Petrus

            It’s not wrong to suggest otherwise if that’s what I believed had happened, which I did. It comes as something of a relief that the debate wasn’t to blame after all, though it doesn’t change my mind about the danger of debating with these unbelievers who really just want a platform from which to preach their atheism, heresy or whatever.

            As I said earlier, though, there is no precedent for lay Catholic debates with Protestants at any time prior to Vatican II. That kind of thing all started with the Council’s ecumenism. The true religion is clearly visible to all who seek it with good will and are prepared to subject themselves to the authority of the Petrine See, no Scriptural debates necessary. When you have to debate with those who have studied religion over many years, it is fairly certain beforehand that you are not going convince them to abandon their false ideas for a return to their Father’s House.

            Anyway, we’ll have to agree to disagree because I now have to set off for Dumfries (the day job). I don’t see the point in extending this particular debate, so we’ll charitably leave it there.

            • Athanasius,

              I apologise if I’m going to sound harsh, but I have found your comments to be very bigoted, the way you speak about “unbelievers” and Protestants who hold their own beliefs in good faith. I have relatives who are Protestants and they have been taught very negative things about the Catholic Church, distorted history etc. and to dismiss them by saying it’s all there if they just go and look, is hardly Christian, IMHO, especially since you contradict Christ’s command to go out and seek the lost sheep.

              Your dismissal of those outside the Church, on the grounds that “the true religion is clearly visible to all who seek it with good will” etc shows that you forget two things. Firstly that the Devil is playing his part in keeping people from the truth, and secondly that God uses us all to seek the lost sheep. Jesus didn’t castigate the lost sheep by saying they should know the true religion themselves, instead he told US to go out and seek them.

              Your approach is very new to me, brought up in the pre-Vatican II Church where we were pestered by people like Editor describes in the Legion of Mary and there was also the St Vincent de Paul Society (sorry, Editor!) to join up and play our part in the lay apostolate. Most of us either didn’t bother or did join up for a while but I can’t remember anyone saying they were doing anything wrong. The Legion was around way before Vatican II, so it’s clear that the Church endorsed such debates with others outside the Church. You are just wrong on this.

              • Fidelis

                I’m sorry you feel that way, maybe you haven’t had the same number of Bible bashers at your door as I’ve had at mine. Please, these fundamentalist Protestantas are well schooled in Scripture, in Greek and other languages, they’ve been studying religion for years, if not decades, and still they reject the known truth, which is so clearly visible to all, even to the least educated. So we’re not talking here about the odd chance conversation with a Protestant who doesn’t know much about religion and could (and should) be helped. No, we’re talking about people looking for a platform to spread their heretical views, people who have no intention of recanting their errors. I wouldn’t give people like that a second glance, no matter how nice and morally upright they appear. Once I realise that they’re entrenched in their Protestantism I shut the door in their face, which is what every Catholic who fully understands the evil of heresy should do.

                Remember, despite all their years of studying religion these people resolutely reject the true faith, refusing obedience to God and the Church he established for the salvation of souls. They approach Catholics clutching their King James Bibles quoting Timothy, Ecclesiasticus, Paul to the Romans and God alone knows what other Scriptural passages with the sole intention of justifying their heresy and luring you away from the true faith. The way to spot them is if they’ve been at it a long time then you know they’re at it!

                Harsh it may appear that’s my philosophy now, zero tolerance for entrenched Protestants. I no longer indulge these deep seated Protestants spouting their Biblical verses in denial of true Church, I give them short shrift, as did the saints when they realised that their admonitions were being ignored. There’s a place for friendliness and pleasant conversation but it’s not with entrenched Protestants seeking to lead others into error. Souls are at stake!

                Here are a few quotes relating to such entrenched heretics to be going on with.

                “St. Anthony the Abbot would not speak to a heretic, except to exhort him to the true faith; and he drove all heretics from his mountain, calling them venomous serpents.” (St. Athanasius on the life of St. Anthony the Hermit).

                “These men are Protestants; they are heretics. Have nothing to do with them! (St. Anthony Mary Claret – The Modern Apostles).

                “We decree that those who give credence to the teachings of heretics, as well as those who receive, defend, or patronize them, are excommunicated… If anyone refuses to avoid such accomplices after they have been ostracized by the Church, let them also be excommunicated” (IV Lateran Council).

                “Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems in his Gospel to have revealed the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and who never ceased to impress upon his disciples the new commandment to love one another, nevertheless strictly forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ’s teaching: “If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, nor say to him God speed you” (Mortalium Animos, Pius XI).

                • Athanasius,

                  You give quotes with no sources, so we can’t tell the full context of what those saints were saying. Anyway, saints’ writings are obviously taking account of the times in which they were living and their own circumstances. If you were to read any of the books written for contemplative monks, you could hardly quote that advice to apply to modern lay people! Also, saints were not infallible in their lifetimes – some of the things Padre Pio said about dancing and women, for example, cannot be considered as “Catholic teaching”, although some people will find them helpful.

                  In the case of the example of Mortalium Animos, however, you are quoting #9 without acknowledging that in #10 the Pope says as follows:

                  “10. So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.”

                  Obviously, the Pope is condemning the ecumenical mentality, not discussing with Protestants per se. That would make a total nonsense of Catholicism. The fact that he says “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of those who are separated from it…” clearly implies that to “promote” the Church we need to enter into conversations with “those who are separated from it.” The Pope was obviously warning against the danger of watering down the faith through ecumenical “dialogue”. That’s never going to be found on the Catholic Truth blog, LOL!

                  • Fidelis

                    “Anyway, saints’ writings are obviously taking account of the times in which they were living and their own circumstances…”

                    I would be careful with statements like that, it’s too reminiscent of Modernist rhetoric.

                    • Athanasius,

                      This isnt strictly correct. The Modernists say that about Church teaching. The writings of the saints can and do reflect the times in which they lived.

                • Athanasius,

                  Of all the comments you’ve made on this thread, the following shocked me to the core:

                  “Once I realise that they’re entrenched in their Protestantism I shut the door in their face, which is what every Catholic who fully understands the evil of heresy should do.”

                  I was almost at a loss for words when I read this, until I remembered the words of Hilaire Belloc that “the grace of God is found in courtesy”. There is never any excuse for rudeness. Sorry. It’s just very rude and might actually keep someone OUT of the Church, which means you have been a cause for scandal – if someone causes scandal it means they have placed an obstacle in the way of someone who is in error, who is in somehow living in a way that is NOT in accordance with God’s will.

                  It is one thing not to have the time or inclination to correct the errors of those who come to our door (I had a couple of elderly men come to my door last week, and I was already late for an appointment, so couldn’t even spare the couple of minutes I usually devote to simply explaining that I am a Catholic, Church founded by Christ, no others, and outside of which there is no salvation, so I urge you to read up – sometimes give them this blog address) – all I could say to those pleasant men was that I was really running late, wouldn’t take their pamphlet because I’m a Catholic, but thank you…) I just can’t imagine shutting the door on anyone in that way. It just beggars belief. Yes we must hate heresy, but never the heretic. To carry your thinking on this to its logical conclusion, I would have to slam the door shut on close relatives and friends who have lapsed and, through at least one mixed marriage, are now Protestants.

                  You keep using the term “entrenched in their Protestantism” and similar – without realising that some of the greatest converts were “entrenched” in their false beliefs, including the great converts from Anglicanism, John Henry Newman (now en route to canonisation) and G.K. Chesterton among others.

                  Our Lord Himself was criticised by the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dine at his home, when He showed kindness to the woman known to be a public sinner. Explaining Himself, Christ pointed out that, since she had anointed him with oil, and shed tears of contrition, …her many sins, are forgiven her because for she has loved much.”

                  If we take nothing more from the above Gospel report, we can surely learn the importance of not judging by appearances alone and, most importantly, the need to imitate Our Lord’s exquisite courtesy when interacting with those who do not adhere to our beliefs and/or who are living in apparent contradiction to God’s moral law.

                  • Editor

                    I took one look at that long list of contributions you’ve made and was put off. We really will just have to agree to disagree. I haven’t the time or the desire to go through it all again one day after the conversation more or less petered out.

                    • Athanasius,

                      I’m sorry you did not stick to that determination, but be aware that I will always respond to every comment on this.

                    • Editor

                      No, I did not stick to that determination because, on hindsight, I thought your efforts worthy of some kind of acknowledgement.

                      I’m glad you have the will to respond to every comment, it’s why the blog exists. If I hadn’t interjected with my objection to the theme, I fear this thread would have received the usual handful of congratulations to those involved in the video and then dried up. At least these exchanges have made people think about the actual subject and its consequences. It’s been lively.

                    • Athanasius,

                      Yes, I’m more than delighted that the issues have been explored – we don’t DO the videos for the purpose of being congratulated and I’ve long since given up all hope of being “discovered” by Hollywood, so thank you for contributing to that liveliness – big time 😀

                      Not sure, though, if our discussion has been quite as lively as this one…

                  • Editor

                    You wrote:

                    “Of all the comments you’ve made on this thread, the following shocked me to the core:

                    “Once I realise that they’re entrenched in their Protestantism I shut the door in their face, which is what every Catholic who fully understands the evil of heresy should do.”

                    You obviously didn’t pay attention to the introductory words “once I realise…” Of course I always treat people with courtesy and, hopefully, with patience, but I am not one who believes that charity means I have to make myself a doormat for heretics to wipe their feet on.

                    Once I become aware that they’re not remotely interested in what I have to say, just continuing to push their entrneched heresy, then yes, I bid them a fond farewell and close the door in their face. Experience has taught me that door-stepping Bible bashers are the most insincere of all who call themselves Christian. I act on our Lord’s own instruction to His disciples on how they should treat those who refused the truth, I shake the dust from my feet and close the door on their feet.

                    • Now, don’t start making up bible quotes and putting words into the mouth of Our Lord – I have no recollection of him instructing us to close the door on anyone’s feet.

                      It’s perfectly possible to end the sort of conversation you describe politely. Your original comment on this point was scandalous. It is indefensible to be rude to anyone, however misguided they may be. I know of one situation for sure where – many years before Vatican II – an entire family was lost to the Faith because a very rude priest lacked the skill to deal tactfully with the Catholic girl who brought her (non-practising) Protestant boyfriend to meet him with a view to arranging their wedding.

                      The priest was so rude that the wedding ended up taking place in the registry office and the children born to the couple were brought up outside the Church – not going to any church but married, when their time came, in the local Presbyterian church. That Catholic woman – I found out later in conversation with her – was heartbroken at the situation. Her husband, naturally insulted at the priest’s bad manners and insensitivity, simply refused to marry in the Catholic church, where previously he had been perfectly willing and was fine at the prospect of his children being raised in the Faith. There’s a priest with something to answer for at his judgement.

                      There will be people – perhaps you are one – who will admire that priest and think he was right to chase that “heretic”, but weaker souls, like my unworthy self, would have preferred him to make some effort at keeping the girl within the Church and, who knows what graces would have been bestowed in due course on that family.

                      I repeat Hilaire Belloc’s reminder of what we ought to know instinctively, that “the grace of God is found in courtesy.”

                    • Editor

                      I think I had made clear that I closed the door on these clued-up Bible bashers having already extended them the initial courtesy of explaining the truths of the Catholic religion to them, truths they continued manifestly to ignore. That was the context of the Gospel quote of Our Lord admonishing that with such people we should shake the dust from our feet, so nothing remotely scandalous in my actions, just good old fashioned Catholic refusal to listen to belligerent heretics spouting their poison at my front door.

                      I suspect Archbishop Conti and his like might be as scandalised as you by that course of action, but not a Traditional Catholic who knows when he’s faced with intransigent heretics. We need more of that kind of Catholicism, not less.

                      As regards your story about the rude priest and the consequences of his rudeness, I cannot comment on him because I don’t know his side of the story. What I will say is that the girl involved does not get off so lightly just by blaming a rude priest. Sorry but that flimsy excuse for leaving the Church just doesn’t carry weight, nor will it with Our Lord unless she puts her wrong doing right. Not one of us will get away with “he caused me to abandon you” at our judgment. They say that in Hell the damned tear at each other constantly, blaming each other for the loss of their souls, but ultimately we make our own choices by free will and we are judged accordingly.

                    • Athanasius,

                      You wrote:

                      “… just good old fashioned Catholic refusal to listen to belligerent heretics spouting their poison at my front door.”

                      I’ve never met that kind of person on my doorstep. I’ve always been touched by the mild manner – apologetic for interrupting me – of those evangelicals who knocked on my door, and they were never/never are pushy. In each and every case I can remember, it was I who did most, if not all, of the talking and they who politely listened. Even when I refused their literature, they were courteous and bid me a pleasant farewell. I can’t see anything “Catholic” in speaking about Protestants as you do.

                      As for the girl – nobody said she “got off lightly”; by the time I was discussing the matter with her, she was seeking to go to Confession, husband now deceased, and I went along with her to a city centre parish where she went to Confession.

                      She could, of course, have been a heroine and broken off her engagement. That’s true. It’s just a pity about our weak human nature. It takes a little bit of understanding, doesn’t it, to appreciate that for a young girl who had been working on her (much loved) husband-to-be and got him to agree to marry in the Church and allow any children to be raised as Catholics, then to find all that work undone by a rude priest. No matter about her “flimsy excuse”, that priest behaved outrageously. There is some excuse that we can make for a young girl in that situation, albeit that she was not the classic heroine, giving up all for her Faith, but for that priest, absolutely no excuse.

                    • Editor

                      As I said earlier, I know nothing of the priest or how he conducted himself so I will refrain from judging him as the vallain of the piece. She could always have gone to another priest if that was the only problem but I suspect there was more to it. Anyway, glad she has now decided to put matters right with Our Lord, that’s always a cause for celebration.

                    • Athanasius,

                      There was nothing more to it. Priests can be very rude, would you believe.

                      Here – briefly because I won’t be blogging today – is another case known to me at the time and since.

                      Friend of mine went to her PP without her husband-to-be to explain that he was a Protestant (again, non practising, perfectly fine with getting married in Catholic church and raising the children Catholics.) Priest’s response?

                      “Get rid of him”.

                      My friend was stunned and asked if the priest was saying she couldn’t get married in the church. She could get married, he said, but no Mass (at that time, the TLM) she would have a short ceremony only.

                      My friend named another girl in the parish who was getting married to a Protestant and having a nuptial Mass. How can that be, she asked?

                      Priest’s reply: Because if I refused her a nuptial Mass, she’d leave the Church. I know you won’t.

                      Justice, eh?

                      So my friend got married in the Church without a nuptial Mass.

                      Four children later, her husband, who had become a fervent Fatima believer, asked their local priest if he could receive instructions. He’s now a Catholic – attending the novus ordo parish and very happy with it.

                      Please don’t say that this outcome excuses the PP because it doesn’t. This mindset of always defending bad or rude priests is really irritating. St Paul exhorts us not to treat every soul the same – some must be fed on milk, until they are ready for the “meat”.

                      The type of priest who drives people away through their rudeness, think everyone is ready for the “meat”. They’re not.

                      Now, I cannot blog today so I would urge you not to leave me a string of comments to answer because I WILL answer them in due course.

                      I especially look forward to answering your response to my question – now put to you in two separate comments – about pulling modernist priests physically out of their pulpits, for preaching heresy. Should we do that?

                    • Editor,

                      I agree – there were lots of cases of priests mistreating people like that instead of working with them. That man might have converted to the faith years ago, perhaps even before the wedding, if the priest had been more compassionate and more zealous and tried to educate him in the faith. I’ve known similar cases, and it was always a heartbreak for the Catholic who wasn’t expecting such a brutal reaction. They are then in a quandary. These priests need to know that they can’t go beyond what the Church allows. As long as the non-Catholic party is prepared to allow the children to be brought up as Catholics, that was always the line in the sand.

                      It’s evidence, IMHO, that these priests don’t really love the faith or they would have welcomed these opportunities to teach the non-Catholic parties about the Church. “Get rid of him” is hardly Christ-like.

                    • Editor

                      First, the answer to your question is no, we should not be dragging priests out of the pulpit, that’s what the Protestant reformers did. Anyway, that kind of behaviour would be called common assault.

                      As to the more general issue of Catholics marrying non-converting Protestants, the Church has always discouraged that for obvious reasons. It was permitted if the Protestant partner promised not to interfere with the Catholic practice of his intended or the Catholic upbringing of children, but it was not celebrated with nuptual Mass, flowers, organ playing, etc., these were forbidden. The marriage usually took place quietly in the sacristy. That was the tradition until the Modernists took control and religious affiliation was deemed no obstacle to salvation.

                      I suppose some of the old Irish priests might have been a bit forthright in their views before the changes, maybe even to the point of rudeness, we’ve all encountered one or two of them. Fallen human nature does tend to affect even priests at times. The remedy in such a case was simply to go to another priest, not abandon the faith, which was a bit rude to Our Lord.

                      Another point worthy of note is that a good many Protestants back in the day converted to the Faith before marrying their Catholic spouses, since most of them hadn’t really practiced Protestantism for most of their lives anyway and were not, therefore, hostile to the Catholic religion. Their Catholic intended usually managed to convince them to convert. My father became a convert before he married my mother and his brother converted before marrying my mother’s sister. I also have umpteen uncles who converted before marriage, so it was something a lot of men did, if only at first to please their future spouse, though I suppose there were some men who were more atheist than Protestant, which is actually more dangerous, there being no Christian restraint at all in an atheist.

                      It’s a complicated issue with each case having to be judged individually on its merits and/or demerits. Unless the Catholic spouse is extremely fervent in a mixed marriage then there’s a very great risk that it will end badly, I have known so many to end this way. Maybe the rude priest understood this but couldn’t express it in a civilised manner, who knows, but if the choice was a rude priest who is fiercely Catholic or a lovely Fr. Pete, Fr. Frank, etc., who is indifferent to the salvation of souls, then its a no brainer for me, though a saintly staunch Catholic priest is always preferable.

                    • Fidelis

                      We have absolutely no idea what this priest said that was deemed to be rude. It may be that he merely denied the couple a nuptual Mass in the chapel, insisting firmly that they marry quietly in the sacristy, the rule for mixed marriages at that time, we don’t know. Without context, then, we should not be accusing a priest of having driven souls away from the Church, that’s unjust and sinful.

                    • Athanasius,

                      I am answering this at the first available reply button so hope it lands in the right place, to answer your comment to me.

                      I’ve no idea what age you are, but I’m of an age to remember a time when it was not unusual for priests to make it difficult to marry a Protestant. I understand, of course, the concerns about the Faith and children etc. but their rudeness, in too many cases, didn’t help.

                      The rule at that time was that the Protestant partner had to sign a piece of paper to agree that the children would be brought up as Catholics. That was all. They were then allowed a nuptial Mass – or if not, there were a lot of disobedient priests around at that time, LOL!

                      The sacristy weddings you are thinking of were when a couple had been cohabiting and wanted to regularise their marriage. Then they could go and the priest would marry them in the sacristy. That was because there was a lot of shame in cohabiting in those days and the couple didn’t want to advertise the fact that they were not married.

                      Quite often the Protestant would convert but this was too often under pressure from the Catholic family and wasn’t right. I’ve known of quite a few like that where the “convert” later lapsed. The mixed marriages I’ve know to work out well were when the Protestant allowed the children to be brought up as Catholics and the Catholic partner was practising and strong in the faith. A friend of mine in England had the joy of seeing her Protestant husband convert on his deathbed, saying her example had been enough for him. They had a large family (seven, I think) all practising Catholics. I much prefer that to “converts” for the sake of appearances.

                    • Fidelis

                      It was not, as you say, only for cohabiting couples that the Church insisted on sacristy marriages, it was for all marriages involving a Protestant spouse. That was the Church’s way of trying to discourage Catholics marrying non-converting Protestants. I am not aware that any Catholic to Protestant wedding was permitted in front of the altar, much less with a nuptual Mass. But even if some priests disobeyed the Church’s norm, then existing, to marry such a couple before the altar, it would have been a very serious breach of obedience to provide nuptual Mass, flowers or music. It just wasn’t the allowed and for obvious reasons, the Church was not celebrating one of its own marrying someone who was not of the household of the faith, even if that person had agreed to allow the children to be raised Catholic. It was a marriage already at a very grave disadvantage in supernatural terms.

                    • Athanasius,

                      Yes, I got a bit mixed up – the law was eased by the time my friends were getting married and they were allowed a Mass, so you are right that there was a time when mixed marriages were not allowed in church. The Protestant partner had to sign to say the children would be raised as Catholics, but that is now, also, very correctly IMHO, the duty of the Catholic, not the Protestant.

                      There is still no excuse for any priest to be rude to anyone. That’s not how to draw souls, and I meant to correct your comment about Irish priests – in actual fact the situations in my experience were Scots priests, not that it really matters. Nobody should be rude, whatever their nationality.

                    • Fidelis

                      Just coming back to the question of priests being rude, it seems to me to be somewhat judgmental on our part to speak of rude priests on very little evidence or context. I’m not saying that some priests weren’t rude at times, they are after all frail human beings like us, just that I am not aware that it was a widespread problem. I often think how soft our society is today, always so easily offended by the slightest remark. It’s a sign of a society that has not known real hardship or suffering, a pampered society too easily scandalised by the least thing.

                      This often hits home when I see images, for example, of little children in Africa or wherever starving to death, their little bellies swollen with starvation. I look at those heart rending images and compare them with people here banging on about poverty in the UK or demanding an apology for some perceived slight, etc., and I think how really ungrateful and soft many of us have become in our comfortable lives. Do you see what I mean? I just think that leaving the Church because the priest was rude is, well, a fairly limp excuse with all the terrible things that so many other human beings have to put up with.

                    • Athanasius,

                      You wrote:

                      “…the answer to your question is no, we should not be dragging priests out of the pulpit, that’s what the Protestant reformers did. Anyway, that kind of behaviour would be called common assault.”

                      Well now, the reason I kept meaning to ask you that question, relates to your insistence on precedent. It wasn’t the Protestant Reformers who were in my mind when I asked the question, it was the outraged Catholic laity who “rioted in favour of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and pulled those who preached against it from their pulpits in the 17th century..” (see Romano Amerio: Iota Unum, A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the XXth Century, p.520 )

                      Amerio was an episcopal consultant to the Central Preparatory Commission of Vatican II and his book is considered “the best book on the pre-Council, the Council, and post-Council”
                      You can read it online thanks to Angelus Press
                      https://mundabor.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/iota-unum-is-online/

                      The above is one of many examples Amerio details to show that both Cardinal Suenens and Pope Paul VI were wrong to suggest that, prior to Vatican II, the laity were passive. The above is but one very entertaining (in my humble view!) example of just how active the laity actually were, back in the history of the Church.

                      It’s really a mistake anyway to think that there has to be a “precedent” for everything. I remember, some years ago, a man at the church were I attend Mass complaining about a parent who brought her baby’s pushchair or stroller into the church, because that way the baby would sleep through Mass. His complaint was that this had never happened “in Tradition”. Well, hardly – the baby stroller wasn’t invented until the end of the 19th century. Sometimes, we have to MAKE the precedent!

                      I won’t answer the rest of your post on rude priests because I can see Fidelis and your good self have more or less exhausted the subject.

                    • Editor

                      I’m not sure that sinful behaviour by some lay Catholics has to do with the average duty of the laity. I knew you kept asking the question with something in mind, anticipating my answer, but really, your response is very unworthy of you.

                      As regards precedent, I have been arguing on various sociall media sites for some time that “gay marriage” is unprecedented in human history, nowhere to be found in any culture. So far it has killed every opposition argument because people understand the importance of precedent. The Modernists at Vatican II ignored precedent when they introduced novelties unknown to the faithful. There’s another word for ignoring precedent, namely, “relativism”. I would be careful about too quickly dismissing precedent.

                    • Athanasius,

                      I’m never comfortable with the suggestion that this or that statement is “unworthy” of someone. That is to make a judgement on motivation. I can say “Lord, I am not worthy…” of myself, but I can’t say it of you or anyone else, simply because – again – I cannot read your soul and I have no idea of your motivation for anything – good or bad. Thus, to accuse someone of saying something “unworthy of them” is to make a personal remark and that is prohibited in our House Rules.

                      I asked the question (should we pull modernist priests from their pulpits) because I didn’t know whether or not you would remember the incident when the 17th century Catholics pulled priests from their pulpits in response to their heretical preaching – I say “remembered” because I have quoted this “pulpit-pulling” incident in the newsletter in the past, although not recently. You’ve obviously not remembered it.

                      It struck me as a good example of the laity reacting to something unusual, if not necessarily unprecedented in the Church, where their priests were publicly preaching heresy – and therefore, required a public response.

                      I’m sure there were more such instances, of various kinds, but not all recorded – goodness, St John tells us at the end of his Gospel, that not even everything our Lord said and did is recorded in Scripture; if it were, he says, the world itself would not be big enough to contain all the books that would have to be written. So, we can’t be too surprised if not everything that happened in the Church down the centuries is recorded.

                      Turning now to the incident quoted in Amerio’s excellent book, Iota Unum…

                      Again, you assume that what those 17th century Catholics did in response to hearing priests preach heresy, was “sinful”, and in secular law, a “common assault”. I doubt very much if anyone involved was “sinning” by seeking to protect the Faith, but, again, I can’t judge them definitively – even a couple of centuries later! And are they not to be congratulated for risking prison – if their action would, indeed, have been classed as “common assault”, punishable in law at that time?

                      But, if you can justify slamming the door in the faces of Protestant evangelisers, based on your belief that it’s easy for them to know and understand the truths of the Catholic Faith (a convert told me only this morning that “it’s really NOT so easy!”but let that slide…) then, surely, Catholics listening to a priest preaching heresy in the pulpit would be entitled to remove him from his pulpit, motivated by a desire to correct his error. Pope Leo XIII “The worst kind of heretic is the one who, while teaching mostly true Catholic doctrine, add a word of heresy like a drop of poison in a cup of water.”

                      Anyway, I got to thinking what might have inspired those 17th century Catholics to take that action, since there was, no doubt, an “Athanasius” among them demanding precedent: “has this ever happened before in history?” I can just hear him, can you?

                      Some bright blogger spark might have responded by pointing out that surely the example of Christ taking a corded whip to the money changers in the temple, driving them out and telling them that they must not desecrate His Father’s House might just serve as “precedent”?

                      We must, as Confirmed Soldiers of Christ, read the signs of the times. If popes, bishops, priests and modernist laity, are misleading the world in the name of ecumenism, then we must counter that heresy, publicly where possible.

                      Now, as you have said yourself way back when, we are NOT going to agree on this. That’s a pity, but there’s no point in going round and round in circles.

                      I will soon be closing this thread (and a few others, long overdue for closure) so if you know what’s good for you, you always will let a woman have the last word…

                    • Editor

                      I had all the right answers popping into my head as I read through your response only to find my opportunity ruined by the apocalyptic warning at the end. I therefore commit myself to some tongue biting lest worse things come upon me. I concede to your demand to let you have the last word. I hope that’s another 100 years off my purgatory!

                    • Athanasius,

                      Phew! Apart from anything else, it’s getting harder and harder and taking longer and longer to find that reply button!

                      You are definitely the fourth wise man, by any standards….

            • Athanasius,

              My apologies – what I meant to write was “incorrect” rather than “wrong”.

              Yes, I think we should leave it there as you have ignored the precedents we have presented from before Vatican II, namely the public actions of the Legion of Mary and the requirements set out in the 1923 Third Order Rule.

              What I will say is that next time a non-Catholic appears on the blog, it might be best for you not to engage with them since you believe there’s no precedent for this kind of public debate.

              • Petrus

                You have provided no “precedents” from before the Council. All I’ve heard are anecdotal stories about the Legion of Mary from a local parish and a Dominican rule that says nothing about debating in public with heretics. The challenge remains for you to demonstrate to me a single recorded example from anywhere in the world pre-Council of lay Catholic Vs. Protestant public debate. If you can do that then I will concede that it was something the Church permitted. Otherwise I maintain what I have said.

                As regards your final paragraph, I’m surprised your Domincan spirit did not forewarn you that what you were about to write was provocative. I’ll let that one slide.

                • Athanasius,

                  I am the same as Fidelis – surprised at your attitude. You keep asking for “precedents” from before V2 for public debates with Protestants, but I dare say people thought nothing of it and didn’t keep detailed records, LOL! We had debates at school, but I doubt if there’s a list anywhere!

                  You reject the examples given of the Legion of Mary and the Dominican Rule (which I think is typical of Tertiary rules) and we are all supposed to be apostolic in our practise of the faith.

                  So, just how do you think we can do that, if we are (living in a Protestant country) to avoid speaking to Protestants about the faith at all costs? I wouldn’t know where to begin.

                  BTW, the Legion of Mary should not be written off as a “anecdotal stories from a parish” – the Legion is a world wide organisation with Church approval since it began in 1921 – I was a member for quite a few years myself, so I know that Legionaries were sent out, like the original disciples and apostles, to speak to those outside the Church. To this day they do this, and there are still Peregrinatio Pro Christo groups, where Legion members from different parts of the world go to a particular parish to do home to home visitation and help the priest in building up the parish in the traditional way, not by giving our Communion etc.

                  I don’t think anyone will convince you anyway, as I’m afraid I’ve seen you in this mode before where you just won’t concede that (in this case) it’s obvious that we are meant to take the teachings of the Church to those outside the faith, as did the very first Christians.

                  • Josephine

                    You’ll understand, I’m sure, that I can’t keep writing out the same answers to a litany of bloggers coming on one after the other expressing the same opinion. I therefore refer you to the response I made to Fidelis. If that doesn’t answer your query then I don’t see the point in endlessly debating it.

                    I think I have made my poisiton perfectly clear and, as far as I’m concerned, in accordance with the spirit of the Church pre-Vatican II. The challenge is there for anyone who disagrees with my poition to simply provide a single precedent from anywhere in the world pre-Council of lay Catholics debating publicly with entrenched Protestants. I wish everyone good luck finding such a precedent.

                • Athanasius,

                  My final paragraph wasn’t at all provocative. I’m sorry you have chosen to interpret it in that way.

                  I stand by every single word that I wrote. Your latest list of quotes is interesting. You are actually doing what Protestants do with Sacred Scripture: cherry picking and quoting without giving the context.

                  Do you know the very revealing word from your latest post is “lay”. You clearly wouldn’t have an issue is two priests had engaged in this conversation with a Protestant. You have claimed that our approach in the video has been condemned by the Church through her condemnation of heresy, so why did you feel the need to write “lay Catholic”? If the Church really DID condemn this type of public debate then surely ALL Catholics would be forbidden, including the great saints?

                  No, I’m afraid I can see the dreaded error of clericalism in your post. Your thinking, with respect, is completely unclear on this issue.

                  • Petrus,

                    I didn’t even notice that but you are right – in Mortalium Animos the Pope doesn’t make any distinction between lay and ordained so it is clear that he is just warning against the ecumenical movement, not conversations aimed at bringing Protestants to the faith.

    • Athanasius,

      I’ve just posted a lengthy reply to you which I think has clashed (in more than one sense!) with your latest comment here.

      The fact that the Church forbade ecumenical gatherings of the type now commonplace, as you rightly say the Church did, doesn’t mean that Catholics were ever forbidden from talking about the Faith to Protestants. That would be preposterous.

      The Legion of Mary was launched in 1921 and gained ecclesiastical approval world wide – well before Vatican II when the work involved precisely such conversations with Protestants. Oh and street workers. I did that too, the “women of the night” – amazing stories of grace there too…

      The sort of missionary work which the Legion used to carry out (not sure now…) is nothing like the ecumenical gatherings forbidden by the Church.

      It may have escaped your notice but Petrus made the point at our video’s conclusion that we had just proved that it was perfectly possible to have the kind of (traditional, as it happens) conversation/discussion with a Protestant without either becoming belligerent and bad tempered or watering down the Faith, as is the custom in the ecumenical movement.

      It’s always a mistake to try to compare apples with oranges.

      • Editor

        If you read my comments throughout they have merely questioned the prudence of public debate with Protestants, not private attempts to win them back to truth. The difference and dangers between the two enterprises should be obvious, especially when the Protestant opponent in the former case is Scripturally trained and not remotely inclined to Catholicism. You may see it as an opportunity to win a convert back to the Faith but he doubtless sees it as a platform to expound his errors to lesser instructed listeners through your blog. Do you see where I’m coming from?

        • Athanasius,

          No need to worry about lack of prudence. As I believe our conversation proved, no Protestant – however well trained in quoting Scripture – can withstand Catholic scrutiny. With all due respect to Paul, for whom I have a high regard, he was unable to answer any of Petrus’ questions about the verses he quoted; despite being asked several times for a source in Scripture to prove the Protestant belief that the Bible Alone suffices for salvation, Paul was unable to do so.

          I once – many years ago – asked a student minister for the Free Church of Scotland, how he could actually BE a Protestant when the Scriptures clearly point to passages and verses which uphold Catholic doctrine, yet which they reject. Shrug of the shoulders was his reply.

          Your concerns, I’m sorry to stay, therefore, like Protestant theology do not hold up to examination, but are very typical of a certain “traditionalist” mindset which sees the laity as intruding into the work of priests (instead of being, as the Legion of Mary founder Frank Duff insisted, “an extension of the priest” – i.e. helping the priest) and despite the fact that the modernist clergy prefer to attend meaningless ecumenical tea parties than actually enter into discussion on the key issues with a Protestant. I dare say you will be in contact with “traditional” priests who encourage you in your flawed, with respect, thinking on this subject, but no priest is infallible, while most are infected with clericalism at one level or another. You mention the traditional priests in the USA but I recall a conversation with an elderly fellow Mass attendee who told me about a meeting HE had attended with an American priest serving here some years ago, and the same clericalism was evident, as he was not keen on the laity doing whatever (mild action!) was being proposed at that time, back in the day. It’s a ridiculous attitude, and always makes me think of Newman’s sarcy comment in response to a fellow priest’s negativity towards the laity that “The Church would look foolish without them.”

          You are free to hold your own opinion, but your opinion is not in line with the history of the Church and her constant teaching about our Baptismal and Confirmation duty to spread the Faith in every possible way. You will search the encyclicals until next week and you won’t find any condemnation of what you term “public debates with Protestants” in the context of Catholic Action. That would go against our very reason, given Our Lord’s final command to go out into the whole world and spread the Faith. He didn’t give us any particular method, and our reason leads us to conclude, therefore, that we ought to read the signs of the times and use all available means to obey Christ’s command.

          I’ll be away from my computer for much of today and tomorrow so do NOT read my silence as approval! I’ll catch up asap. Having said that, I prefer that we leave the matter as it is now – we are not going to agree on this, as we didn’t agree on various other subjects, about which the least said soonest mended!

          Thank you, though, for pushing us to think about all of the issues with some care. That’s much appreciated. Now, away and buy some chocolate! (for those not in the know, Athanasius is a choc-a-holic!)

          • Editor

            I’m more into polishing off a big box of Frosties every day with perhaps just a tad of chocolate in addition to keep me sweet, I find that high sugar, low caffeine, diet makes me less inclined to want to sleep upside down in the wardrobe at night.

            Anyway, back to the matter in hand. It is possible, you know, to abuse the “Catholic and Confirmation duty” line to excuse innovations, the Modernists have been using that one for decades to justify their own brand of interactions with Protestants. The challenge, and I state it again, is to find a single precedent pre-Council of lay Catholics taking on Protestants in public debate. You won’t find a precedent because it wasn’t done. What took place in private at someone’s front door when a member of the Legion is not a precedent for public Catholic/Protestant debate. And the reason no precedent is set is because the Church discouraged such enterprises, which are imprudent by the fact that they give Protestants a platform to spread their errors publicly, no matter how good the responses from Catholic may be.

            I grant that you and Petrus answered Paul’s heresies perfectly well as Catholics, but the truth is he shouldn’t have been given a platform to spout his heresies in the first place. The kindest act of charity to someone as entrenched as him is to simply exhort him to return to Hhis Father’s house or perish. He’ll understand perfectly what your saying and it may impress him more than any number of hours of listening to his perverse understanding of Scripture, which gives the appearance of lending credence to his views.

            Right, the sugar beckons.

            • Athanasius,

              I have to admit to being amazed at your stance on this subject as if it could possibly be a sin to have a public conversation or debate with anyone who is outside the Church, with a view to bringing the to confront their errors and hopefully return to the true Church. I think the video is great, and I didn’t see a Protestant who was out to get us all, but he showed thought and was listening closely to what Editor and Petrus said, so I really think you are overegging the pudding. It really is only if such an action would be displeasing to God that a “ban” on such meetings could be justified. I can’t see God being displeased – I really can’t, quite the opposite, in fact.

              I hope you don’t mind me saying, and I’m honestly not trying to antagonise you but just dip into your self-awareness, but your comments here have reminded me about your attitude at the time of the canonisations of the Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. I don’t think I was signed up to comment at the time (can’t remember, TBH) but I remember being amazed reading your comments insisting that because canonisation is an infallible act, God would intervene in some way and prevent these happening. It didn’t matter how often it was pointed out to you that they were only considered infallible acts because of the strict process, but with the removal of the office of the Devil’s Advocate, that guarantee of confidence in the infallibility of canonisations ended, and so mistakes could be made, you just hammered on with your personal view that God would intervene to stop the canonisations. He didn’t, and the rest, as they say, is history. There are people calling these popes Saint JP II etc. all over the world, and statues etc.

              I do think it’s a mistake to be dogmatic about something that isn’t binding or is open to interpretation, if you don’t mind me saying so. If I’ve caused you any offence by this post, I apologise unreservedly. I’m thinking it’s in the “tough love” category!

            • Athanasius,

              You wrote:

              “It is possible, you know, to abuse the “Catholic and Confirmation duty” line to excuse innovations, the Modernists have been using that one for decades to justify their own brand of interactions with Protestants.”

              As someone who was Confirmed BEFORE Vatican II, and taught clearly about my duty to be a soldier of Christ, that statement underlined for me that, as it clear from this thread, your understanding of what it means to be a Catholic layperson is very flawed, to put it as charitably as possible.

              Here’s what I was taught using the Scottish Catechism of Christian Doctrine, “approved by the Archbishops and Bishops of Scotland, and directed to be used in their dioceses” (Imprimatur, Donald A. Campbell, Archbishop of Glasgow, 1954.) For the record, my grandfather, RIP, was taught the very same thing…

              Q What is Confirmation?

              A Confirmation is the Sacrament by which we receive the Holy Ghost and His Gifts in order to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

              Q What is your duty as a soldier of Jesus Christ?

              A My duty as a soldier of Jesus Christ is to know the Faith thoroughly so that I may defend it and take active part in the Lay Apostolate.

              Note that last part, which, frankly, I do not believe you were taught. I know, from lots of conversations, that you rely on others, from the older generation, for their version of what was taught and practised in pre-Vatican II days, and I suspect the clericalism that you are exhibiting here is a result of listening to those who were influenced by priests imbued with that same error of clericalism, the entirely UN-Christian belief that lay people should be seen (at Mass) but not heard (anywhere!)

              That this mentality is NOT Catholic, is evident from the entire history of the Church, including the Catechism in use in Scottish schools well before Vatican II. If, that is, Our Lord’s own example and exhortations in the Gospel are not clear enough for them.

              The Catechism – after defining Confirmation and spelling out our duty as Confirmed Catholics – then goes on to teach, through the same Q & A format, that in order to play our part in the world as soldiers of Christ the Holy Ghost dwells in our souls and gives us the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

              The Catechism then explains the meaning of each of these God-given gifts and so no-one, properly taught about the Sacrament of Confirmation, can be in any doubt about our duty to actively promote the Catholic religion.

              Teaching our Confirmation duty to spread the Faith is inherent in Catholicism. It is not an extra or something invented at Vatican II. In fact, I have never heard any Catholic, priest or layperson, from any diocesan parish in recent history refer to our Confirmation duty to be soldiers of Christ. NEVER. However, and this is something I try to emphasise when I meet Catholics who are, as yourself in this discussion, vehemently opposed to lay Catholic action of the kind which involves speaking to either lapsed or non-Catholics… our duty to be active in the lay apostolate doesn’t mean that everyone has to be in the Legion of Mary or make videos or engage in any specific apostolate. The person who is interacting with the public every day (as in your own type of employment, for example) and who has various family commitments, is not expected, and certainly not required, to do anything like joining organisations etc. As long as they do not try to scupper the efforts of others who ARE active in the lay apostolate, and, where, in whatever limited way possible, they support those efforts, that is perfectly acceptable.

              Finally, I would exhort you to let this matter drop – I plan to answer as many of your comments as possible, in order to minimise the spread of confusion, but I have to say that the point made by Michaela is worth pondering. It is a huge mistake to take up a dogmatic position on something that is not dogma.. At best we are disagreeing about methodology. It is a matter of opinion whether using the video conversation to discuss opposing beliefs is a good thing or not – that’s fine.

              Just as it’s a matter of opinion whether it would be a good thing for us to go into modernist pulpits and physically pull the priest out, as did the MP who physically removed the climate change protester from an event in London yesterday.

              What do you think – the next Catholic Truth enterprise, removing heretical/modernist priests from their churches in full view of their congregations – a highly public piece of lay Catholic Action? I’m game. Are you?

    • Athanasius,

      Catholics were never at liberty to participate in the great ecumenical conferences to which they were often invited.

      This goes to the heart of the problem. You are confusing Catholics accepting invitations to ecumenical conferences, the purpose of which is manifestly to “find areas of agreement” blah blah and which does, (and has) ultimately lead to watering down the Faith and a loss of Catholic Faith. Indeed, I know Protestants who say the same – the whole thing has been an exercise in indifferentism.

      But, she said wearily, we made it very clear to Paul that our invitation was not an ecumenical event, that, in fact, we meant it to be an antidote to the ecumenical approach; we wanted to demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to sit down in a Catholic/Protestant context, and highlight – not the areas of “agreement” but the opposite – the areas of DIS-agreement. The opening question asked Paul for HIS beliefs about salvation and the conversation led directly to our assertion of Catholic teaching on the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation.

      Paul’s reply, the standard Protestant belief about salvation, will not be news to anyone who is reading our blog, viewing our video(s). You really are worrying yourself to death about having left your umbrella at home, during a heatwave.

      I truly fail to see any cause for concern.

      • Editor

        No, early ecumenical conferences, the ones before Vatican II, were essentially debating venues where serious doctrinal differences between “creeds” were debated. Events after Vatican II were completely different, e.g., they were designed to promote what unified the various creeds.

        At any rate, this is the mind of the Church in the matter: “We decree that those who give credence to the teachings of heretics, as well as those who receive, defend, or patronize them, are excommunicated… If anyone refuses to avoid such accomplices after they have been ostracized by the Church, let them also be excommunicated” (IV Lateran Council).

        We lend credence to the teachings of heretics when we give them a public platform, even if our intention is to refute them, for we cannot ever be certain that our action may have lead to someone losing the faith. That’s why I called this public debate imprudent.

        • Athanasius,

          Wasn’t the Fourth Lateran Council the Council which decreed that Jews and Muslims had to wear a distinctive dress so that Christians would not marry them, unaware of their religion(s)? Still, I’d have liked to look at the rest of the document from which you quote, just to contextualise the quote fully.

          No “public platform” has been given to anyone to spread heresy. In fact, earlier this evening a reader wrote to say that his wife, a convert, watched the video and thought it was “excellent” – she said “it would have been very useful if she had seen it when she was still Protestant.”

          There is a key point which I’ve meant to make throughout this discussion but it keeps going out of my head. Now’s the time…

          You persistently quote (without links to sources, so separated from context) condemnations of “heretics” and those who associate with them. We are to totally shun everyone outside the Church – which makes fulfilling the Great Commission a tad difficult, but leave that aside for the moment.

          Over and over again you have insisted that there is no “precedent” in the Church’s Tradition for any public debate such as that undertaken by us in our video.

          Well, Breaking News… there is no precedent for LOTS of things going on right now and that is because (drum roll), we are living – and seeking to apply the Gospel imperatives – at a time of unprecedented crisis in Christendom: something which, I believe, you have yourself acknowledged on more than one occasion.

          Just think of the Catholics to come in the centuries ahead; they will go to the National Library of Scotland to read up on the scandal of the ecumenical activities condoned and even organised by our Scottish Bishops. They will be horrified. Then they will come across the file where the Catholic Truth newsletters are stored and they will see that, voila! There WERE Catholics at that time of great scandal in the Church who were defending and promoting the authentic Catholic Faith to those outside the Church, as an antidote to the Modernists. It didn’t happen in earlier times, perhaps, certainly not on this scale, because the same means of communication were not available and/or these kinds of discussions took place locally and were not necessarily recorded. Whatever. The main thing is, they are being recorded, literally, now. Not “live” discussions note; as I pointed out earlier, we are able to clarify anything, correct mistakes etc. before airing the video. I’m not just a pretty face…

          The fear of being adversely affected by such debates is understandable. As they say these days, “I get that”. But, again, living, as we do, at a time of unprecedented crisis in the Church, it is necessary for some of us, at least, to do our best (as that old Scottish Catechism taught) “to know the Faith thoroughly, so that I may defend it and take active part in the Lay Apostolate.”

          No Catholic is obliged to public discussion with anyone. It is a matter of prudential judgment. If we were wrong in our judgement, well, no priest has come onto this blog or written to me privately to say so; nobody has warned me that the quotes provided by you threatening excommunication still stand, that Peter and I are now excommunicated by virtue of having entered into a public discussion with a Protestant. Not one priest.

          Incidentally, you haven’t answered the question I asked you in one of my earlier posts, so I’ll ask again: would we be wrong, living in this time of unprecedented crisis, to go into diocesan parishes and physically pull priests from their pulpits given that they are so often preaching heresy?

  16. For the record, I have just received an email from a reader who has been following this thread. He writes this:

    Re Athanasius & Public Debate…

    “It surprises me that you have not raised the very public, three-day, debate between John Knox and the Abbot of Costello on the Mass held in Maybole. The end result was inconclusive, due to the specific subject of the debate, which was specifically chosen by the Abbot.”

    I found the following link which gives the history of this debate, in short. Very interesting.
    http://www.maybole.org/history/books/carricks%20capital/abbotofcrossraguel.htm

    This is not to rekindle that particular aspect of our video-event; I think we are right to leave it there, but the above information does confirm that WAY before Vatican II, at the time of the Reformation, no less, public debate with a Protestant on doctrine, did take place. Frankly, it seems such an obvious necessity, that I struggle to believe that anyone – let alone Athanasius – would question it.

    And it is worth reflecting on the fact that not everything that happens is recorded in the history books. There can be little doubt that similar public conversations will have been taking place up and down the land at the time of the Reformation. They had no TV soaps to distract them, remember!

    • Editor,

      I wish I’d read your post about that public debate before V2 before I answered Athanasius above, LOL!

      That’s very interesting.

    • Editor

      It seems your email correspondent hasn’t been paying attention. My objection is to lay Catholics debating publicly with Protestants, not clergy who are far better equipped in learning, and also, we would expect, grace.

      • Athanasius,

        Then that is clericalism. There’s nowhere in any encyclical that I have read which forbids lay Catholics from such debating, including Mortalium Animos which is speaking to ALL Catholics, not just the laity.

        I remember Daphne McLeod who is the retired Chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice – I’ve attended some of her conferences in London – telling us about how she used to get onto her soap box at Hyde Park Corner and speak about Catholicism to the passers by in the street. She told us that she found out that one of the bishops at the time used to pop along to listen to her, she said, no doubt to make sure she was speaking orthodoxy. Obviously, if he thought this was not the place of the laity, he would have told her so – instead he thanked her! I think it was when he thanked her that she found out he was in the habit of popping along to listen to her. That was in the 50’s I think, anyway, well before Vatican II.

      • Athanasius,

        Where is your source to show that lay Catholics are forbidden from engaging in this type of endeavour?

      • Athanasius,

        It is crystal clear to me, if not to you, that clergy today are certainly not particularly knowledgeable or educated in matters religious. I’ll pass no comment on the “grace” part of your comment since I cannot read souls.

        A few weeks ago I received an email from a very well known priest, not particularly traditional although very outspoken about Pope Francis. He (the priest, not the Pope!) sent me a copy of one of his recent homilies on Our Lady which he thought I might want to post as a blog thread. You kidding?

        I stopped reading after the first paragraph and replied to say that I couldn’t possibly publish this since he had repeated the false notion that Our Lady was an unmarried mother. I went into detailed explanation as to how Mary and Joseph were technically married etc and finished by asking if he would do all in his power to correct this error since all who heard that homily had been led astray. Reply? … Will do!

    • Editor,

      I think you made a typo with:

      ” debate between John Knox and the Abbot of Costello

      I think its mean to be the ‘Abbot of Crossraguel’, as per your link, but it seems that famous double act ‘Abbot and Costello’ must have been lurking in your subconsciousness!

      I thought I was going to die laughing when I read that, haha! 🙂

      • Gabriel Syme,

        Not guilty! If you check again, you’ll see that I had merely copied and pasted the email from the reader who told us about that debate… Still…

      • Gabriel Syme,

        The reader who sent me the email and made the typo about the “Abbot of Costello” has just emailed again and made me laugh heartily – here is his explanation…

        Sorry about the “Costello” blooper. That probably came about because I was still thinking about an email I got from an ex-Roman Catholic (sic) who suggested that the conversation was like an Abbot and Costello conversation of the 1940s.

        So, you’re not alone in laughing – the “distraction” explanation is priceless.

  17. I’ve been perusing the exchanges between Athanasius, Editor, and several bloggers, all of which has led me to wonder: is there any follow-up planned with Paul the Protestant fundamentalist? A more narrowly focused discussion, perhaps, on those points which he failed to answer?

    In other words, seems to me that this debate/discussion requires s follow-up, if Paul is willing. Or is he satisfied that he’s made his case? Survey says….

    And pardon me for being a naive optimist, but it would be great if a second discussion included an SSPX priest….

    • RCA Victor,

      I don’t think there’s any need for a follow up right now. I’m also scratching my head trying to work out why it would be great to have a priest of the SSPX involved …..

    • RCA Victor,

      “It would be great if a second discussion involved an SSPX priest”… Correction: it would be a miracle.

      On two separate occasions, a couple of years apart, I invited two leading SSPX clergy to address one of our conferences – i.e. two separate churchmen, two separate conferences. When I issue such invites I ALWAYS explain that we are an unpopular group, both with the modernists and with the (alleged) traditionalists. The former don’t like our defence of the traditional Faith and liturgy, the latter don’t like lay people running anything, except a bath.

      Churchman # 1 took his time replying, and eventually declined on the grounds that it would annoy the then local superior who REALLY didn’t like us (although, irony of ironies, HE had accepted an invitation to address one of our smaller meetings on the subject of the traditional Latin Mass some years previously… and increased the SSPX congregation at that time, as it happens.)

      Churchman # 2 declined, initially making a thin excuse but later admitted the real reason in conversation with myself and A.N. Other, which was (although I paraphrase) that he couldn’t risk sharing a platform with some undesirable. If, then, the logic seems to be, I had been able to guarantee that all the speakers and audience would be thoroughly traditional Catholics (so we wouldn’t really need him, although that, obviously, didn’t dawn on him) he would have accepted our invitation. If Scotland was full of thoroughly “traditional”/orthodox Catholics, our apostolate wouldn’t be necessary. DUH…

      So, the old-fashioned (traditional) motivation of being a leaven in the community, influencing others, including any “undesirables” whom we may come across, is no longer in vogue, even in allegedly traditional circles.

      As I say, it would be a miracle if we could find any SSPX priest willing to participate in any of our videos. If YOU can find one, let me know. But before you begin your search, remember like it or not, (and none of us likes it) the fact is that it is priests, not laity, who are causing the crisis in the Church. At Catholic Truth, we are now extremely careful about who we invite to participate in our work. We’ve had a couple of excellent priest-speakers at our Conferences, but our future plans include a conference/meeting with a difference, to be held next Spring. Any priests who wish to attend will be welcome, but we’re not issuing any invitations. We’ll advertise in plenty of time, so make sure you have your 2020 diary on your desk, asap 😀

  18. Editor and Petrus,

    Regarding my remark about including an SSPX priest in a follow-up discussion, that was my indirect attempt to suggest that SSPX clergy should get involved in the real world of converting souls…

  19. Athanasius,

    I felt we were going around in circles yesterday which is never helpful. So, I’ve spent the last 12 hours or so reading your posts and reflecting on the points you made. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what your main position is, as you’ve expressed a lot of concern regarding the video. This surprised me, as you commented several times on the thread without expressing any concern at all.

    Anyway, I’ve picked out the concerns you have stated in the hope of highlighting apparent contradictions and gaining some clarity on what you actually object to. You are a well established blogger whose opinion I value, so I would appreciate clarity. We don’t have to agree on everything , as we’ve started before, and these “disagreements” help to clarify matters.

    1. You first stated it wasn’t profitable to engage in these discussions as, in your opinion, they very rarely bear fruit.

    2. You then said that what we attempted in the video was actually the type of ecumenism condemned by the Church prior to Vatican II.

    3. After this you claimed that this type of endeavour is wrong only when undertaken by lay Catholics.

    Do you see the trouble I’m having with this? My view is if it is condemned it is condemned, whether the participants be lay faithful or ordained. I can’t see anything in any of the limited quotes you have provided that suggests otherwise.

    If I am misrepresenting your position, I am open to correction.

    • Petrus

      I think it a little disingenuous of you to suggest that the position set forth in my various posts was unclear. It is perfectly clear, but I will clarify further for you.

      1. There is no precedent before Vatican II for public debates between Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. This fact is absolute in terms of lay Catholics and almost absolute, with the exception of the Abbot of Crossraguel, for clergy.

      2. Whether you like the term or not, this kind of exercise properly fits the title “ecumenical dialogue” since the Church before the Council describes it as such while forbidding Catholics to take part in such “assemblies”. The Modernist idea of ecumenism may have skewed its meaning somewhat but the essence is the same and it is dangerous.

      3. My focus on lay Catholics is primarily due to the fact that Vatican II seems to have empowered lay Catholics to claim an exagerrated freedom by Confirmation duty to indulge in all manner of things that were previously beyond the remit of the laity. Think of it as the opposite end of the spectrum to clericalism.

      Hence this latest endeavour in which lay Catholics not properly schooled in Sacred Scripture, patristics and the classical languages presume upon themselves to engage with a fundamentalist Protestant who is well schooled over many decades in misquoting and/or misapplying Scriptural passages, teachings of the Fathers and translations to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of lesser informed and weaker Catholics. Good will and intention does not excuse presumption and imprudence in such a matter of grave importance since it was obvious from the start that Paul was not engaging with an objective mind. You do not give a platform to entrenched heretics who are clearly not going to use it to further the cause of truth and the will of God, you give them short shrift.

      4. Finally, let me say that this blog has for many years helped the Catholic faithful to navigate through the present crisis of faith in the Church. It has been a God sent help to those who are of the household of the Faith and are our priority right now. That’s our remit as lay Catholics, to help as best we can by God’s grace to transmit the solid teaching of the Church to our confused fellow Catholics. None of us is a St. Dominic, a Catherine of Sienna or a St. Patrick, saints who were way above us in grace and fidelity to God and where set apart for particular vocations.

      Certainly if Protestants ask questions of us in an honest and objective way about our faith then we are obliged to answer as per our Catholic duty, perhaps even directing those of good will to a priest for further explanation. What we are not obliged (nor permitted) to do is to set up debates with entrenched Protestants, dialoguing with the devil, so to speak, with presumptive confidence that we are sufficiently knowledgeable, graced and astute to guarantee that no Catholic soul will be led astray by the elequent sophistry of entrenched Protestants like Paul.

      The debate with the atheists some years ago was a classic example of what can happen when we overstep ourselves, the blog ended up being flooded by godless people eager to spread their hatred of truth via this platform. We all learned a harsh lesson with that episode so let’s not repeat the mistake by searching out entrenched fundamentalist Protestants for public debate when our first duty is to our own confused Catholics within the Church.

      I’ll say no more that.

      • Athanasius,

        Once again you make sweeping statements without offering a single source. There’s nothing in any document that says Catholics cannot engage in public debate. Nothing. Several bloggers have asked you repeatedly to provide sources backing up your specific claims, but you have yet to do so. When pressed for sources, you simply tried to close the debate by claiming we were going round in circles.

        I’d also like to ask how you know there’s no precedent prior to Vatican II. By my reckoning you would never have known what the Church was like, given your young age. Clearly you are relying on what individuals have told you. You ignore those bloggers who were around before Vatican II who insist that these types of discussions did happen.

        It is also inaccurate to say that the Protestant was well schooled in Scripture but the Catholics weren’t. The editor has a Masters Degree in Theology and my degree specialism was Christology. Having said that, these qualifications aren’t really necessary to engage in debate with Protestants, as the video shows.

        I’m actually very disappointed you have taken such a negative stance. I honestly didn’t have you down as a clericalist, hence the reason why I have tried and tried to give you the opportunity to clarify your position. However, we won’t fall out over it and if it will take a box of Frosties on Sunday morning to gain a smile and wave then just say the word. 🙂

        • I meant to say, what if St Dominic had said, “Oh I’m no St Augustine – I shouldn’t seek to create an Order” or if St Catherine had said something like, “I’m no St Monica – I shouldn’t give my all to the lay apostolate”? Should we all be aiming to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, or seeking the higher gifts, as St Paul said, despite our weakness and unworthiness? I don’t see any logic in the point you make here.

          • Petrus

            Maybe the best course of action is to humbly acknowledge that without exception none of us is a St. Dominic, St. Catherine or St. Monica. These were exceptional souls who were graced exceptionally to live exceptional religious lives that only a few will ever be called to replicate. Who knows, if we start from that point of humility we may one day come to reflect at least a shadow of these great and generous souls.

            If we do what God calls us to do in our everyday humdrum lives, bearing all the trials and tribulations sent to us for Gods’ sake, then we are doing very well. It is a dangerous business to seek higher gifts from God because such a pursuit usually emanates from pride. Remember Our Lord’s words “to whom more is given, more is expected”. Would we be faithful to higher gifts, especially given the trials God sends to those He entrusts with such gifts?

            Speaking for myself I would say no, I can barely struggle through with the trials I have in my lowly state as it is so I have no desire for higher gifts, just the grace to be faithful to the lowly ones I have been accorded in accordance with my state in life, quite sufficient responsibility for me to carry to my judgment. Higher gifts are for nobler and more generous souls.

            • Athanasius,

              I have a lot of sympathy with the sentiments expressed in your last post. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I see myself as some sort of Saint, or on the same level as the great saints? I’d be horrified at that.

              However, I do believe that we should do whatever we can. St Paul should we should seek the higher gifts, not for our own reputation, but only for God’s glory.

              • Petrus

                I have never for a moment imagined that you see yourself as a St. Dominic or any other great saint, though I would like to think that one day we might all share the same abode with them. No, what I think instead is that you misunderstand what St. Paul meant, which is entirely possible depending on which translation of the Bible you read the text in.

                Here’s the Douay Rheims translation: “…And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors: after that miracles: then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But be zealous for the better gifts…”

                Note that St. Paul speaks of “the better gifts”, not “higher gifts”. That changes the entire context for us since the better gifts are largely understood to be those that sanctify the ordinary soul and are less likely to manifest before men in great works. St. Joseph is a classic example of the better gifts. Can you see what I mean?

                • I should have said, I only own one translation of Scripture – the Douay Rheims. I can only imagine my quoting of “higher gifts” comes from my days of hearing it at the New Mass.

                  • Petrus,

                    I fail to see why you are apologising.

                    The passage quoted by Athanasius, 1 Cor 12:28-31 is immediately followed by his call to charity – “a more excellent way” in 1 Cor 13..

                    I may be missing something… Tread carefully…

                    • Editor

                      Yes, you’re missing something – context! There now, that’s as bold as I dare to tread.

                    • Well, you need to spell it out – I can’t see it at first glance and I’ve just been to Specsavers (metaphorically speaking!)

                    • Editor

                      Ok, I’ll do my best. What has St. Paul’s “call to charity” have to do with lay public discourses with entrenched heretics? The best way to show charity to these types is by admonition to repent of their schism and heresy or perish for eternity. No need for a debate, just a quick reminder that they cannot continue to reject the known truth, which is very easy for all of good will to see.

                    • Athanasius,

                      It’s your insistence that it is so easy for all to see, that makes me keep thinking of the giant minds like Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman who could NOT see, for quite some time, that, despite being a vicar, he had to convert from his Anglican faith to the Catholic Church. Was the Cardinal an obstinate heretic? Stupid? Or was God working, over time, in his soul?

                      You seem to be unaware that we just cannot make such judgments in the spiritual life. God works in souls in different ways. You can’t just say “go and read up on Catholicism, then I’ll tell you the best priest to approach for instructions.” Would be great but mystifying reading all those conversion stories of the great saints.

                    • Editor

                      Cardinal Newman was never an entrenched heretic, he was a man of good will open to truth. The Catholic religion is very easy to recognise, the Popes tell us so and history certainly makes it clear. If it were not very easy to comprehend that the Catholic religion is the true religion then God would be doing a great injustice to those of lesser intellect.

                      Interestingly, if memory serves it was simple Catholic family piety observed by the Cardinal in a chapel, not intellectual debate, that opened his eyes. Once again an example of how Our Lord always makes use of the simple and the humble to bring about great things. Rarely have entrenched heretics entered the Church by intellectual debate.

                    • Athanasius,

                      No, there was a time when the Cardinal was very entrenched in his belief that we overdid devotion to Our Lady.

                      In due course, he came to admit that the true Church had to have four marks, that is must be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

                      He could see that the Catholic Church was one, was universal (catholic), was apostolic but he couldn’t see “holy” until he met Dominic Barberi and watched his humble acceptance of the abuse meted out to him on the streets of Reading. Of course, he would later have understood that “holy” in this context was not restricted to the Church on earth, the Church Militant, but to the entire Church, from its beginnings until now, and including the Church Triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.

                      As for your remarks about those of “lesser intellect” (by which I take it you mean “academic intellect/ability”) – while I agree totally with your comments on this, it appears contradictory to your persistent claims that we – as laity – are not equipped to discuss the Faith with those outside the Church.

                      Not to worry… typical male, I say…

            • Athanasius,

              I can see clearly that you confuse the lay apostolate with some kind of “higher calling” – I’ve explained elsewhere that, while we all have a duty to be active lay Catholics, that doesn’t mean always being involved in organisations; nobody in your situation, with a very demanding job, lots of travelling and home commitments, or anyone else in their various circumstances, is obliged to join the various organisations (Legion of Mary, SVDP etc) which were traditionally the means of conducting apostolic work. You have already said elsewhere that when the opportunity arises, you have had conversations with Protestants and even Muslims were included in your list – that is all that you can do and that’s excellent.

              Your final paragraph is compounding this error – there’s nothing noble about doing elementary duty. I do not consider running this blog, e.g. newsletter etc to be “noble” – in my position, I am free to do this without neglecting other duties of my state in life. Were I neglecting my other duties to administer the blog etc. then, far from being “noble” I would be guilty of serious sin.

              • Editor

                You’re quite wrong to suggest that there is nothing noble in carrying out lowlier tasks with fidelity. You give the example of the blog claiming that you have time to do it and therefore it is not a noble task.

                Let me suggest to you that it has nothing to do with whether or not you have the time, rather that you choose to use your spare time to do something for the Church and for souls. That is a noble undertaking. Just doing one’s duty faithfully every day, however mundane, is a noble thing. In fact anything that increases our chances of getting to heaven is by definition noble, as are our efforts for others. There’s no such thing as a non-noble task when it is done for God, though the most noble of all are the lowly, unseen tasks.

                • Athanasius,

                  I have never suggested that “lowly unseen tasks” are not noble. Far from it. My favourite saint is the Little Flower, whose name, Therese, I took at my Confirmation. Few, if any saints, taught more clearly and explicitly on this subject.

                  What I meant was that it is quite wrong to consider ourselves as being in some kind of superior position because we are doing nothing more than our elementary duty. It may, indeed, be “noble” before God, but if we get big ideas about our superiority as a result, then we are not understanding the nature of the spiritual life.

                  Can you see what I mean?

                  • Editor

                    Yes, I can see what you mean and I agree, that’s why I emphasised humility as the foundation of all our deeds.

                    • Athanasius,

                      I prefer to emphasise duty. That way we are less likely to think of ourselves as “humble” – a sure sign that we are no such thing!

                    • Editor

                      Humility, though, determines which duties we think ourselves called to and worthy to perform. Martin Luther, I’m sure, felt he was doing his duty while in fact he had stepped well beyond his remit and lost his faith as a result.

                      Now before you start, I am not equating you with Martin Luther, so put that rolling pin down. I am merely painting the ultimate picture of what can happen when we become the arbiters of duty rather than God. Yes, humility, consenting to the lowly, is the safest way.

      • Athanasius,

        You wrote (to my amazement)…

        “None of us is a St. Dominic, a Catherine of Sienna or a St. Patrick, saints who were way above us in grace and fidelity to God and where set apart for particular vocations.”

        What a very strange thing for any Catholic to think, let alone say.

        The Church GIVES us saints precisely so that we may have role models; that is, so that we, too, may do what they did, in whatever way and to whatever extent we can. In other words, we are ALL “set apart” – it’s all because of that pesky Sacrament of Confirmation again!

        Here’s a sobering thought from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman which should remove all doubt about our duty as Catholics, lay and/or ordained

        “How can we answer to ourselves for the souls who have in our times lived and died in sin; the souls that have been lost and are now waiting for the judgment, seeing that for what we know, we were ordained to influence or reverse their present destiny and have not done it?” Blessed Cardinal John Newman (1801-1890).

        • Editor

          I noticed the word “ordained” in that quote of Blessed Cardinal Newman. He speaks of the ordained, not the laity.

          As for the saints mentioned, yes, we are called to emulate them, not that very many are likely ever to make much progress, knowing human nature. My suggestion in that regard was that we start with their humility and prudence in the matter of debating the faith with entrenched Protestants in public. They didn’t debate with determined heretics, they admonished them to convert or be lost for eternity.

          • Athanasius,

            Cardinal Newman is famous for his writings on the lay vocation and his insistence that we are all called to holiness – his use of “ordained” in the quote above was not meant to refer to [only] the ordained clergy! Here are the other meanings of “ordained”, as given in the Oxford English Dictionary:

            … [to] order (something) officially.
            “equal punishment was ordained for the two crimes” ·

            synonyms:
            decree · rule · order · command · enjoin · lay down · set down · establish

            … (of God or fate) decide (something) in advance.
            “the path ordained by God”

            Hope that clarifies the issue – by our Baptism we are ALL ordained (commanded) to do certain things…

            • It was not the lay sense of “ordained” I got from the quote, it was the clerical sense. I would have to read the full text, however, to be certain. At any rate, the clerical ordained are certainly better trained and qualified than the laity to address clever Protestant Biblical scholars, yet even they did not, as a rule, engage publicly with such prior to Vatican II.

              All the rhetoric aside, the challenge remains to produce a single example from anywhere in the world of Catholic laity in public debate with Protestants. That’s the Traditional evidence I base my objection on, regardless of all the side arguments.

              • Athanasius,

                Trust me, Cardinal Newman was referring to us all, not just to the ordained.

                Your remarks about the “ordained being better trained and qualified etc” is very revealing. If, in fact, the Christian/Confirmation vocation required academic expertise, that would have meant that the very first Christians were ruled out. Instead of travelling around preaching and teaching the Faith, St Paul et al would have been travelling around trying to enrol in the best universities. No, the key point of being a Catholic is that – with or without an academic education – we are called to spread the Faith.

                As for your final paragraph – again repeating “precedence” – I have just answered that in another post.

  20. Notice.

    Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi and there is Mass at St. Andrew’s SSPX chapel in Glasgow at 6.30pm.

    However, contrary to the announcement of our priest last Sunday, Corpus Christi is NOT a holy day of obligation. It is Traditionally a hoy day of obligation and therefore an opportunity for all of us to honour the Blessed Sacrament, but there is no obligation upon those who, for whatever reason, are unable to make the early Mass time that coincides with rush hour traffic. I wrote to the SSPX prior to ask clarification as to why today was mistakenly announced as a holy day of obligation, but thus far have received no response.

    • Thanks for that, Athanasius. There’s quite often confusion about this. When the Immaculate Conception was announced correctly as not an official Holiday of Obligation, a few members of the congregation muttered behind me constantly, “Yes it is! Yes it is!”

      • Petrus

        The reason I am so determined on this point of holy days of obligation being accurately announced is that the enemies of the SSPX would use any misunderstanding to accuse it of being of schismatic mindset. We may not agree with the transfer of so many traditional holy days of obligation to Sundays by our bishops, but we do have to acknowledge that they have the authority to make such decisions and we must abide by them in obedience since the faith is not thereby threatened.

        I try very hard to emphasise this to our SSPX superiors whenever mistakes are made, but I really shouldn’t have to do that since they have a duty to get it right. It takes minutes to clarify which days are Church holy days and which are not, so there’s no excuse.

        • It strikes me maybe I’m the only one who can see that people attend the traditional mass for the purpose of maintaining the mass as it was handed down by Our Lord and so the two feasts mentioned above were clearly traditionally holy says off obligation.I don’t see anything wrong with people especially the older ones keeping to that tradition which they grew up with.

          • Also I meant to add surely if your traditional it’s tradition in eveything.You make it sound as though it would be an act of disobedience.I’m sure these people well understand the changes by the bishops to the holy days off obligation however sticking with what they were taught doesn’t make them wrong .If they wish to go to mass on the two feasts named above whats wrong with that.

            • I think you’ve completely missed the point , Hope. Of course there’s nothing wrong in attending the Mass on these days. There’s also nothing wrong in saying they were traditionally Holy Days of Obligation. However, this is a case of what is binding under the pain of mortal sin. If the Bishops of Scotland decree that they are not official Holy Days then that is what we go with, because it is what is in the bishops’ powers to decree.

              • No your wrong i dont miss the point.I stated quite clearly that the people understood quite clearly that the bishops have made changes there was no challenge to that.What i was pointing out as Vianney seems to explain in his post is people particularly the elderly still hold with what they were taught indeed as someone has said the Archbishop himself .

          • Hope

            Maybe you should read my comment again, slowly. I advise all Traditional Catholics to attend Mass on the former holy days of obligation, but point out that they are no longer obligatory. To say that they are obligatory when they are not is to challenge the legitimate authority of the bishops in a matter that does not touch on Faith. Do you see the importance of this perspective?

            • I didnt challenge anything .Maybe you might want to read more slowly.I most certainly never used the word obligatory when simply stating particularly the elderly will continue with what they have been taught.Often times there is too much jumping in and reading to much into what people have said and then making statements of challenging bishops authority when its simply not the case.

  21. There has always been a bit of confusion regarding Holy Days of Obligation and I once came across an online discussion about the subject. Someone posted a copy of a parish newsletter from a church that had both forms of the Mass. I can’t remember what the Feast was but it had “Day of Devotion (Ordinary Rite), Holy Day of Obligation (Extraordinary Rite).” The person who posted it said that when he asked the priest why this was, he was told that in the rules regarding the “Extraordinary Rite” (I hate that term!) it says that congregations and communities who use that rite must follow the traditional Holy Days. Someone else said that Archbishop Lefebvre always followed the rule that if a Holy Day was abolished before the council it stayed abolished, but if it was abolished after the council he continued to observe it. The NO is observing Corpus Christi this Sunday while the Tridentine Rite will be celebrating the second Sunday after Pentecost, and this is one of the problems with following the local Bishop. If we follow him on Holy Days of Obligation do we follow him on all feasts? After all, the NO use a new calendar where feasts are often totally different from those used in the Tridentine Rite.

    • Vianney,

      I don’t think it’s a case of following the bishop in terms of the calender, it’s more in terms of the obligation.

    • Vianney

      My understanding is completely the opposite, which is to say we are instructed by Rome that those using the so-called “Extraordinary Rite” (I, too, hate that term and refuse to use it) must abide by the same rules regarding holy days of obligation. I can’t see Rome allowing Traditional Catholics to undermine Bishop’s Conferences by ignoring their calander changes.

      Archbishop Lefebvre was very, very careful to obey all directives from post-Vatican II Rome and national bishop’s conferences that did not endanger faith. Hence, he accepted the 1962 Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII and adopted it as the standard for his seminaries. He would never have declared Holy Days of obligation to be still valid when Rome and the bishops had declared otherwise, for that would have been a schismatic act that his enemies would have been very quick to highlight. I don’t know who told you that story but it is utterly false.

  22. Scottish History is not, it seems, a strength of this Scottish blog. But it was indeed Abbot Kennedy of Crosraguel , not “Costello”. who challenged Mr Knox to a disputation. At the time Knox, who had a high if not always justified view of his own gifts, was very much on the losing end of his disputation with Ninian Winzet (later Abbot of Ratisbon), a far racier and more humorous writer. Quintin Kennedy tempted him into another, this time academic, contest where Knox would, yet again, be out of his depth: an intemperate lower-class man, who never completed his doctorate in Divinity up against a cool-headed, aristocratic graduate of both St Andrews and Paris.
    All this is common historical knowledge but the local source the blog recommends, a local historian (James T. Gray, “Maybole, Carrick’s Capital, Facts, Fiction & Folks”, Alloway Publishing, Ayr), is uncomprehending of the academic form of a “disputation” and grossly inaccurate – conflating details of Kennedy’s disputation with another Protestant controversialist, quite apart from Knox. The text of the Kennedy-Knox disputation is actually – in Knox’s version – in the collected edition of his “Works”: the Auchinleck references are to something completely different.
    The key to any disputation was that it is always narrow.We should not believe, as Knox (falsely) claimed, it was about “the Mass” – way too big an issue to be determined in a single academic queston in a single disputation, “defending” a very particular thesis. The issue, which Mr Gray simply could not see, was that the whole three-day event was centred on the technical question of whether, in the Book of Genesis, Melchizedek “offered” bread and wine as a “sacrifice” to God, or simply for Abraham’s men to “feed on”. Knox was reduced to bluster to get out of the question, but his pamphlet (published a year after the event) went unchallenged with Quintin Kennedy’s illness and premature death. That does not make Knox’s report true and Mr Gray thinking Melchizedek was “irrelevant” to the discussion rather than absolutely central is Maybole fiction rather than fact. Knox was, in his own account, clearly on the back foot with Kennedy’s aristocratic hit that “I ought not to mock that which the world so long hath holden, and great princes yet hold, in so great veneration”. Blustering on about popish idolatory cut no ice in an academic disputation, whatever its appeal to the proletarian rabble, for which no town surpassed auld Ayr.
    The lessons of history are that, for a disputation to work, the question disputed needs to be small enough actually to be “determined” (so, e.g., paragraph 32 from the ARCIC II text on Salvation, rather than the entire hoary old Reformation/Counter-Reformation stuff on faith and works). That way neither side needs to worry too much about losing: Melchizedek is not an absolutely central issue and the commentary on a difficult biblical text is extensive but diverse – Kennedy used a “cartload” of books as his authorities. Another lesson from history is that the disputation parties need to be of equal standing: poor old Knox was hopelessly outclassed by an altogether brighter, even sparkling, pair in Winzet and Kennedy. But they were, all three of them, ordained clergy, not laymen floundering about in Divinity without a Divinity degree.
    I don’t know how extensive your readership is but the obvious local expert to comment (but who may be too modest to comment under his own name) is the present Archbishop of Glasgow, who happens to have a doctorate in sixteenth-century theology. And I don’t know if people find history relevant but at least, if it is used, it is a well to get the story straight. You can always read up on The Reasoning that was betwix the Abbot of Crosraguel and John Knox over the Corpus Christi weekend (“days off” obligations, I suppose). For all of you fans of sixteenth-century reasoning who have the collected Works of John Knox on your shelves,the disputation is in volume 6, pages 185-217.

    • An Istorian

      Thank you for posting that intellectually enlightening and, dare I say, occasionally amusing, comment. Much obliged.

      My one bone of contention with your contribution is the suggestion that the present Archbishop of Glasgow could possibly do better in debate with fundamentalist Protestants than the average layman “floundering about in Divinity without a Divinity degree”. I think being a committed lay Catholic with a even a basic knowledge of the faith would be preferable in such a scenario to a Doctor of Divinity who is indifferent in matters of faith. Still, I agree in general with your observation.

      • Thank you for the response – newcomers to established blogs are not always welcome.
        Your comments about the archbishop of Glasgow are a bit over my head although I can imagine Edinburgh-Glasgow rivalry is at stake.
        I may be missing the archiepiscopal in-joke but it is difficult to imagine the average layman (or, let us not be sexist, laywoman) doing better than a trained professional, complete with a doctorate in “an historical/dogmatic” approach to sixteenth-century disputations, in any “reasoning betwixt” a parson and a bible-bashing evangelical fundamentalist. And the clergyman has the edge where people respect his cloth.
        The Quintin Kennedy technique was to keep to one single point, so challenging the presbyterians’ favoured “wee cuppies”, with their individual shots of grape-juice, as being unscriptural teetotalism might work. They are wrong-footed on the issue, the Kennedy gambit, since tradition was clearly a communal cup of fermented wine. The gambit will indeed leave the average bible-basher struggling but, if the disputant has wider knowledge, those higher up the candle may themselves struggle to repulse the likely counter-attack on denial of the cup to the laity as being just as unscriptural (different parishes are different on this but some would struggle). Chances are Doctor Tartaglia could get out of that one a whole lot better than Joe (or Jane) Public, if only with an historical argument known only to bygone generations.
        If this is so, do you seriously think the average lay person could out-argue a biblically-based presbyterian on scripture? But back in the real world, disputation is best left to the doctors who know what they are about. And some ancient Roman (whose name escapes now escapes me) advised “ne sutor supra crepidam iudicaret”, let not the cobbler judge above his last.
        So it’s cobblers to Dr Tartaglia.

        • An Istorian,

          The mistake YOU are making is to think that the answer to the question of Catholicism and salvation is to be found solely in Scripture. It’s not.

          I’m up to my eyes right now so I can’t really read, digest and answer your comment in any detail – I’m already doing two things at once and behind with getting our newsletter to the printers – but I just want to point out that the HUGE mistake “biblically-based Presbyterians” make is to think that Scripture alone will save them. OR that quoting/citing Scripture is the most important thing in any debate on Christianity. It’s not. Even the Devil can quote Scripture.

          That’s all I have time for now but maybe later or tomorrow, I’ll return to this.

          • Editor,

            I am not sure that it is correct to make any comment here on any unique advantages of heterosexual relationships but it sometimes occurs to me that men are given their awful wedded wives to help them understand the opposite species. Not only The Wife herself but that added blessing, Her Mother. Your response inclines me to generalise a proposition that it is a particularly female gift to be able to pick men up before they actually fall. I can also hear an echo of one unregenerate old chauvinist who once taught me, who used to explain that the reason women got fewer first-class degrees was because they often started writing their answers too soon, without taking the time to think the question through.

            It took you barely ten minutes to decide that
            “The mistake YOU are making is to think that the answer to the question of Catholicism and salvation is to be found solely in Scripture. It’s not.”

            It always means trouble when the female of the species starts talking in capital letters. But you try to pick me (or is it ME?) up too soon. I know from experience that it can be difficult for ladies to absorb words before replying to them but if one takes the time to read what was actually written, I said no such thing. And I did in fact mention how the evidence of tradition could be used to discomfit presbyterians’ own little unacknowledged but unscriptural quirks.

            The point is not especially subtle. The context was a discussion with Athanasius about Quintin Kennedy’s sixteenth-century disputation with John Knox on the question of whether, in the Book of Genesis, Melchizedek “offered” bread and wine as a “sacrifice”, or simply for the army “feed upon”. All I suggested was that I imagined a bishop who had a doctorate in sixteenth-century Eucharistic theology would have a better chance in a modern disputation on a specifically biblical point with one of our Presbyterian brethren than would a lay person.

            The general issue is apologetics: the starting point, as Quintin Kennedy very well understood, for nudging a disputant forward has to be something the other side will accept and the discourse has to begin with the methodology the other side uses. If they reject all that is not scriptural, fine, accepting for the sake of argument that that is so, where then is the scriptural warrant for wee individual cuppies let alone for grape juice? Quintin Kennedy would have skewered them on following a Gospel According to the Band of Hope. I think this sort of thing is a field for the experts, such as the Abbot of Crosraguel, who have the training and experience to handle it – there really is no point challenging a Presbyterian if the upshot is to turn them atheist and it really is best to leave the enterprise to the judgement of those who have the pastoral experience, and the actual commission, to tackle it. What I might think on tradition is completely irrelevant: the issue is for some competent apologist to confront the sola scriptura brigade with scripture. The rest of us do best to simply watch Mr Knox, opinionated but never quite the sharpest tool in the box, losing yet another disputation.

            That, Dear Editor, and taking the time to read before responding.

            Dangerous thing the “send” button.

            • An Istorian,

              Please don’t think I’m avoiding answering your comments – I’m not. But just as I clicked the button to send our July newsletter to the printers very late this morning, I received a succession of texts with which I had to deal and then I remembered it’s bin day and well – the time races by, life is short, and I will need to organise some lunch and who knows what next. However, I’ve time for a quick few words with thee, not least because…

              I’m almost certain that you have been here before… with your “Mrs” and your wee dog… ? An avid Anglican/Episcopalian (“Pixie”?) Or am I confusing you with someone else? I doubt it, since your modus operandi rings a bell… loud and clear! If I AM wrong, however, I know you’ll be on here in jig time to correct me. So, allow me to apologise right now, just in case.

              Which brings me to your latest “correction” of my far too quick keyboard fingers…

              My humdrum humble apologies for defaming you at any level (ARE there levels of defamation, one wonders…)

              Sorry, too, about the occasional use of capital letters to emphasise a word but I don’t have time to forever go through the WordPress motions to create bold or italics. I do prefer that myself and so I do use the system as much as possible.

              Finally, for now, just a quick word about the interesting notion that being in possession of a Degree or a Doctorate in any particular subject makes one the best person to debate on that topic.

              Well, Archbishop Tartaglia’s Doctorate on the Council of Trent’s teaching on the Eucharist, hasn’t prevented him permitting the scandalous abuse of Communion in the hand across the archdiocese. Nor did it give him pause for thought when, as Bishop of Paisley, he permitted his priests to allow Eucharistic Services in place of Mass – and who knows how far widespread this abuse is here in Glasgow today, under his alleged stewardship.

              Having degrees and doctorates is all very well but is no guarantee of either orthodoxy or a Catholic sense. I have a couple of degrees myself but my knowledge of my Catholic religion isn’t helped by either of them. They just help fool some of the people a lot of the time. I remember a school chaplain shaking his head in amazement during a conversation in the staff room on some issue of Catholic orthodoxy, saying that he really didn’t think – having a Degree in Theology – that I would “think like that”. If he only knew how the pupils thought: “How come Father Ray can afford such expensive trainers, Miss?” Apologies for meandering but I’m putting off the moment when I need to tackle some housework. As I say, life is short…

              Finally (again 😀 ) the first apostles and the first Christians – indeed, Christians right up to and beyond the time when printing presses made it possible (if not necessarily affordable for all) to own a bible, never mind obtain a Degree in Divinity or Sacred Scripture – were able to discuss with non-believers and encourage converts. Just ask St Paul how he managed to “debate” with those Gentiles. I believe his phone number is 0000000000 (same – as it happens – as the pay of the regular bloggers here…)

              If I’ve left unanswered, any important point(s) raised by you, please remind me. Catholic Truth at your service!

              • No apology needed – some people type first, “send” next and think later.

                Your little riddles are beyond discovery but, in any case, the usual custom in blogging is not to try to work out who a blogger is in real life or on sites. If my e-mail address is visible to you, then you will know my university but it is a fairly big one and you may well have other members on the same server. An interest in liturgical history is not that uncommon and the Henry Bradshaw harbours a multitude of like-minded sinners, so the field of possible entities is wide. But as to identities, do remember prospective bloggers coming from mainstream institutions, or whose employers monitor social media use, would worry about the extremist company they might be seen keeping on a marginal blog. A recent gratuitous and wrong-headed rant against the harmless Quintin Kennedy is a doubtless sincere but disturbingly vehement indication of the rash company about in these parts. No one expects the Scottish Inquisition!

                As to your point, an academic theologian, all that Tartaglia (the modern one, not his slightly more famous namesake) could learn from history is that, as at Trent, views are divided. What then was an out-voted minority position has since become a majority. The Kennedy-Knox debate also got into “scandalous” abuse – mice getting into the tabernacle or pyx – but in that case, as ever, allegations of abuse can be a handy cover to mask what is substantially a policy disagreement. If you and the archbishop disagree on policy, for the time being he gets to decide, so perhaps you need to get the movement for the ordination of women fired up for you to be allowed your turn to decide (could be fun). In the meantime, he has to make the best of whatever manpower (or personpower) he can muster: he has ordained at least one married priest but the option is very limited. But all the academic stuff can contribute is that there have, for a very long time, been different points of view and very different modes of administration. As it happens another PhD, an Episcopalian priest in Edinburgh, has studied all the available evidence for older Scottish liturgical tradition, and it is pretty well the same story, considerable diversity of custom. I don’t really see that you can object to doctoral qualifications: they teach people to use evidence, formulate arguments and give them a deeper perspective on an issue. It is not without its irony that you are repeating an argument Mr Knox deployed against Dr Kennedy, albeit to a different purpose.

                Since you offer, does the blog do translations? “In jig time”?

                • An Istorian,

                  “Riddles”? Sorry, but if anyone writes in riddles it’s your good self.

                  I’m not interested in your real identity except insofar as when you appeared here before, writing in similar vague style, wild assertions, no documentary evidence to support any of them, I remember having to put you in moderation because none of us could keep up with the volume of your contributions. Consider this as “history” repeating itself because I’ve now got a day ahead of me with lots of complications in a couple of areas, including “car trouble”.

                  The fact that you clearly do not understand the nature of Catholicism, OR the Council of Trent, and that you think eucharistic discipline is a mere matter of “policy” divorced from theology, means that, really, you would be better finding an Anglican blog where your unsubstantiated claims against Catholicism would be welcome. Or stick to attending meetings of the Henry Bradshaw Society – should be fun.

                  No, we don’t do “translations”, in jig or any other time. It takes us all of our time to translate YOUR meanderings and, speaking for myself, I’m not even going to try. You see, if you are aiming to convince us all of your highbrow academic ability, you are not succeeding. That you manifestly do not understand the nature of the Catholic Church and all that goes with it, means that we cannot really have a genuine conversation with you. Your rude (in every sense of the word) response to our comments means that you are flouting our House Rules, and that thus you are adding to my moderation workload, so you are never going to win the Catholic Truth Blogger of the Year award.

                  PS as you may have gathered, your “university credentials” don’t impress me. One bit. Racing out now, so apologies if I’ve left anything unanswered in your lengthy comments. It’s what they call these days “too bad.”

        • An Istorian

          I will assume by the construction of the two comments you have made thus far that you are something of an intellectual yourself. If so then I can understand perfectly the logic of your argument. It is surely much safer for a trained Catholic Biblical scholar, Patristics expert, theologian, etc. to debate with a Protestant of similar years of study and experience under his belt. That would normally mean an Archbishop Tartaglia or similarly trained cleric, though the history of the Church does not generally reveal such public debates involving even Catholic clergy Vs. Protestant fundamentalists, so the question really is academic.

          What I would say to you, however, is that there is an equally, if not more, important qualification required by those who would debate with Protestants, which is that they must hold the Catholic Faith whole and entire. In this respect, sad to say, the Traditional Catholic laity are eminently more qualified than Archbishop Tartaglia or any of his post-Vatican II clerical confreres, who conceded the victory to Protestantism when they adopted the Conciliar Reform.

          The new vernacular Mass of 1969, for example,is largely based on Luther’s reformed meal service. Additionally, Communion in the hand to standing communicants can be traced back in its present form to Reformation Protestantism, as can Communion under both kinds. There are many other examples but I’m sure you catch my drift.

          Ecumenism, previously condemned by the Catholic Church as a heresy, is the new doctrine promoted by Catholic prelates and clerics in our time, suppressing, as it does, the age-old infallible dogma ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ (outside the Church no salvation). Hence, Archbishop Tartaglia and his like could never convince any Protestant of his/her errors because by his own ecumenical mindset he no longer believes in that fundamental truth of the faith which declares that those who die separated from the Church, unless by invincible ignorance, will be lost. In other words, one cannot enter into debate with a fundamentalist Protestant if one already sympathises with his/her erroneous belief that Protestants do not necessarily have to convert to the Catholic religion to be saved. So yes, qualifications are very necessary in such a debate, but very much like a gun without bullets if the supernatural Catholic Faith is compromised or absent in the Catholic protagonist. In fine, if the Catholic protagonist is a Modernist then the game,as they say, is a bogey before it even begins!

          I hope you’ll stick around and comment on other threads.

          • Athanasius,

            I will be frank and say I have a problem with people being rude about vicars. The Vicar of Dibley may be an utter twit but it is not my place to say so to the world and his wife and it is sadly disrespectful of properly constituted authority.

            To quote a text familiar to Abbot Kennedy and Mary, Queen of Scots: my deutie is … to submitte myselfe to all my gouernours, teachers, spirituall pastours and maisters … to ordre myselfe lowlye and reuerentelye to al my betters ….

            It really is a tad disrespectful to assert that the “Traditional Catholic laity” are eminently more qualified (in respect of disputations with Protestants) than Archbishop Tartaglia or any of his “post-Vatican II clerical confreres”. The exaggerated notion may be sincerely held, and the Vicar of Dibley may ideed be an idiot but it really is not the sort of thing to broadcast about the local spiritual pastors – a newcomer might be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled, elsewhere on this blog, into some meeting of the Loyal Orange Grand Lodge, abusing popish prelates up hill and down dale, with a big thump of a big drum, curse-the-pope! A bit of reverence for their right and most reverendships?

            You raise a host of other issues but it would be sensible to explore only one of them by way of reply – Abbot Kennedy’s lesson is to have a focus and let the Presbyterians over-reach themselves. But it is getting late …

            • An Istorian

              First off, your use of the word “vicars” confirms that you are not a Catholic. We Catholics do not refer to our priests as vicars, that’s an Anglican term. Catholic priests are ordained clergy, Anglican vicars are not (see Leo XIII).

              Now, the very simple and obvious response to your Abbot Kennedy quote is this: Offending men (even lofty clerics) is preferable to offending God when it comes to upholding divinely revealed truths.

              Abbot Kennedy, as you doubtless know already, was an apostate Catholic, a religious who abandoned the true religion and then broke his vow of chastity to God by getting married. Hardly a man of integrity and virtue, then, which raises the question: Why would you quote such a man as though he were a Christian sage? It says more about you, I’m afraid, than about anyone here. That’s the danger of the intellectual who does not hold the supernatural Catholic Faith. You have just proved my point.

              • An Istorian

                Please ignore completely the final paragraph of my latest response as I confess to having confused Abbot Kennedy with someone else. Abbot Kennedy was NOT an apostate, as I stated, nor did he break his vow of chastity. Must be much more careful in future and not rely on memory!!!

                The first part of my response to you remains unchanged.

              • Dear, dear, dear. Not just rude to vicars but deciding who is, and who is not, a Catholic.

                It takes no special grasp of genuine Scottish tradition to know that, whatever you say ought to be the terminology, 89 per of Scottish parishes actually had “vicars” in 1560, a number of them under Quintin Kennedy. The mere fact that the Church of England still retains traditional terminology does not make words un-Catholic – even Alice could work that one out. But, whatever you think of the status of her orders, the Vicar of Dibley is not a real person: Geraldine often explained such things for Alice.

                The gratuitous diatribe against poor old Abbot Quintin, which I read before I saw your second thoughts, was a poor display (but reveals much). In any case the merits of an argument can surely be judged indecently of the disputant’s morals and an ad hominem dig at anyone citing a writer is best avoided. The blog might provide a “retract” button for vehement messages from people too quick on the “send”.

                Another small, Geraldine to Alice, point (obvious to those who know the tradition if not “Traditionalists”) is that Kennedy’s actual “vows” were not celibacy, or chastity as you somewhat quaintly put it, but “de stabilitate sua et conversatione morum suorum et obedientia”. Knowing basic Benedictine forms really should not be beyond self-proclaimed “Traditionalists”.
                Finally, for the sake of completeness, the quotation was not Kennedy but something he, probably, and Queen Mary, certainly, knew. Kennedy himself spoke Scots, which annoyed Knox (who had, notoriously, eradicated his mother-tongue) and the text quoted is (obviously) English, not Scots, so not Kennedy.
                It must be some sort of record to manage quite so many errors in a short text but I do struggle to understand how a “Traditionalist” can be so careless of actual tradition.

                I will try to get back to on a point you raised but the world of “Traditionalist” theory is proving murkier than I imagined – and the blog seems to make messages disappear before they eventually emerge from the ether.

                • An Istorian

                  When you first commented on the blog I thought your post was quite reasonable, something that could be discussed seriously. Since then, however, your contributions have become more and more eccentric and troll-like. So if it’s all the same to you I will refrain from further exchanges, if only to preserve charity.

  23. If Vianneys post is correct was the Archbishop wrong/challenging/and open to accusations of a schismatic mindset for continuing to observe the traditional days of obligation somehow i dont think so.

    • Hope

      Please understand clearly that there is a difference between continuing to observe traditional feasts (a very good practice indeed) and insisting that they are still obligatory even after the bishops have transferred them to the nearest Sunday. We are speaking here only of the obligation, which the bishops have the authority to change.

    • Hope

      Yes, I do know for sure. You may rest assured that the Archbishop would not countenance anyhting which would convey even the slightest hint of schism. He was the most obedient of the Church’s sons, refusing obedience only in matters that were clearly and demonstrably dangerous to the Faith. Holy Days of obligation being transferred to Sundays does not fit into that category.

      • It was you who went on about saying you can’t say it’s a holy day off obligation when it’s not.Nowhere in my post did I make mention of anything like that.I simply said people especially the elderly will continue with what they were taught.But thanks for reinforcing my point above about jumping in and reading into things that are not there.

        • Hope

          I don’t think you can be that stupid so I’ll assume you’re looking for trouble. Enough has been said about this and even Petrus has clarified for you, so just leave it at that and move on.

          • Your reply is offensive and incredibly rude if not personal.It is not i who is stupid and looking for trouble it is your verbal aggression that needs looked at.Must be only you who has the right to blog and are never wrong.Please consider your own advice and leave well alone as I think it was very clear from my last post that I had concluded my replies to you until that is your rudeness.No need to reply.

      • Athanasius,

        I’ve been away in Aberdeen and living in garages awaiting verdicts on my broken down car these past two days, so forgive me for taking so long to respond to your many comments. Better late than never as the saying goes.

        And, just to make you smile…

        • Editor

          If I were to follow any recipe the finished product would look like something out of science fiction, so I don’t go there. No, I let others do the recipes and I polish off the goodies.

  24. Editor

    Just reviewing the number of exchanges on this subject, I think we have gone well beyond what is edifying for the readership. My suggestion, then, is that we drop the subject and let those who have followed the comments reach their own conclusions. I note that most of the usual contributors dropped out some time ago, a clear sign that they are not interested in lengthy debates of this nature. So we move on, yes?

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