Monday, June 7, 2010

New Vatican campaign to clamp down on 'liberal opinion'
New Vatican campaign to clamp down on 'liberal opinion'
By John Cooney
Monday June 07 2010

VATICAN investigators to Ireland appointed by Pope Benedict XVI are to clamp down on liberal secular opinion in an intensive drive to re-impose traditional respect for clergy, according to informed sources in the Catholic Church.

The nine-member team led by two cardinals will be instructed by the Vatican to restore a traditional sense of reverence among ordinary Catholics for their priests, the Irish Independent has learned.

Priests will be told not to question in public official church teaching on controversial issues such as the papal ban on birth control or the admission of divorced Catholics living with new partners to the sacraments -- especially Holy Communion.

Theologians will be expected to teach traditional doctrine by constantly preaching to lay Catholics of attendance at Mass and to return to the practice of regular confession, which has been largely abandoned by adults since the 1960s.

An emphasis will be placed on an evangelisation campaign to overcome the alienation of young people scandalised by the spate of sexual abuse of children and by later cover-ups of paedophile clerics by leaders of the institutional church.

A major thrust of the Vatican investigation will be to counteract materialistic and secularist attitudes, which Pope Benedict believes have led many Irish Catholics to ignore church disciplines and become lax in following devotional practices such as going on pilgrimages and doing penance.

Bishops and priests will be instructed to preach to their congregations the unchanging central message of Jesus Christ about love, healing and repentance.

While the restoration of church discipline and pious practices such as praying to Our Lady and the saints will be welcomed by regular church-goers, the Vatican investigation is likely to face a backlash from liberal Catholics who want more accountability and democracy in church decision-making.


Vatican officials are finalising the precise terms of the instructions for the investigators named last week by Pope Benedict, who initiated an 'Apostolic Visitation' last March in his pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

The investigators are clearing their diaries to visit Ireland's four principal archdioceses, the national seminaries and study centres run by religious orders in the autumn.

In the wake of the shocking Murphy report into clerical child abuse, the conservative Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, will examine the study courses conducted for trainee priests at the national seminaries in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.

At a meeting held in Maynooth last month, Archbishop Dolan told a gathering of priests "to return to basics" and to ground their ministry in "prayer, humility and a rediscovery of identity".

Archbishop Dolan's address, titled "God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest", was the high point of the Irish church's celebration of The Year of the Priest, a campaign to encourage vocations to the priesthood.

The hardline address was enthusiastically endorsed by Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh.

This week, as part of the Vatican's rigorous restoration policy, a widely promoted rally will be staged in Rome to cap what Pope Benedict has called "The Year of the Priest".

Thousands of priests from across the world, including from Ireland, are expected to attend the showcase event which is planned as a major spectacle trumpeting the special status of the priesthood.

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