Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, it has never been known that anyone fleeing for your protection, imploring your help, or seeking your intercession was left without help.
Most Catholics of a certain age will know the above by heart. There is something soothing in its rhythmic repetition, even for those of us who are no longer religious, a reaching for something otherworldly to soothe the uncertain subconscious.
Religion is meant to be a comfort, after all, although the Catholic Church has its fair share of contradictions.
With all the talk of Mary leaving no one without help, surely the Vatican chooses who is worthy of help and who has committed sin.
Over the years it whipped up liturgical lectures against premarital sex, masturbation, contraceptive use, divorce, and a whole host of other sins, deadlier and more venial, and allowed good Catholics to feel guilty every day when they simply trying to find their way in normal life.
Years ago I was involved in the church choir and Sunday readings. I was encouraged by Father Tom Tarmey, the closest thing to a living saint who came to Belfast after serving as a missionary in The Gambia.
Father Tarmey, then in his seventies, was a kind man and above all non-judgmental. As a result, he had a herd of rebellious teenagers who would come to the meetinghouse every Tuesday night in the 1990s to drink fanta, eat cookies, and learn the gospel—an accomplishment as we spent the rest of our week roaming the streets of hanging around west belfast .
Today I have a complicated relationship with religion. The reason? A growing distaste for a church led by men who have little understanding or practice when it comes to female procreation issues but have much to say about it.
Last week I was watching an online video from the Corpus Christi Church in Springhill, Ballymurphy. Rev. Paddy McCafferty, the parish priest, stood on the altar in the middle of the service and said: “We have a nationalist party to vote for and I make no apologies for saying that. I have a responsibility to preach the truth and the gospel.
“It should happen that these pro-abortion parties lose seats and influence. What are we doing? What responsibility do we take on?
“We have to … for the children, for the little unborn children. Do we want a society built on this evil? No, we know all sorts of things are going wrong, of course there is, but a protest vote… vote for life, that’s all I’m saying. And pray for Aontú.”
A highly charged, passionate political stance. Father Paddy is entitled to have any views on abortion or politics that he likes. Preaching them from the pulpit during an election campaign is another matter entirely.
The 1994 Vatican Register states that a priest “should refrain from taking an active part in politics … in order to be a focal point of spiritual brotherhood. All believers must therefore always be able to approach the priest without feeling inhibited for any reason.”
It is up to Fr. Paddy to explain how he envisions those working for free choice feeling comfortable with pastoral leadership, after he commented: “Pray for Gerard Herdman, who is our man here is for Aontú. I don’t apologize and they can go crazy, I don’t care, I don’t care what they will say about it.
“To hell with them, literally to hell with them. It’s too serious. There’s too much at stake. These are my colors nailed firmly to the mast. Amen.”
If that wasn’t enough, starting last week Facebook He wrote: “It is time for Catholic believers and their fellow Christians to join with the unborn in standing up against the evil of abortion. That means not voting for abortion politicians and their parties.
It also means not supporting the pro-abortion media whose columnists… spread the lies and propaganda of the global abortion machine that churns out the slaughter of the innocent. On May 5th, choose Aontú, DUP or TÜV.”
Bless me fathers for I have sinned. At this point it should be remembered that if the Church had not made contraception a sin, there would be fewer unwanted pregnancies.
There is a fine line between moral tutelage and hypocrisy. The former requires compassion, the latter simply to impose your superior morality on others. The Church may wish life was black and white, far from it.
For the raped woman, the child with child itself, the parents with an unviable pregnancy, such highly emotional language hits the core. Who do these people turn to for pastoral care when the pulpit is perceived as the place of judgment?
In contrast, during the Eighth Amendment referendum, the Association of Catholic Priests stated: “Human life is complex and presents situations that are gray rather than black and white and require of us a sensitive, non-judgmental, pastoral approach. As the leadership of an association made up of unmarried men with no children of our own, we are not in the best position to be in any way dogmatic on this issue.”
Last Wednesday, a statement from the Diocese of Down and Connor on the paper said: “The Catholic Church has consistently taught that every human life, from conception to natural death, deserves respect and care. The Catholic Church does not support any political party. The views and opinions expressed by Fr. Patrick McCafferty are given in a personal capacity.”
It’s hard to separate the personal when a priest expresses his opinions at the altar. The Church may wish to reflect on the fact that attendance is declining, a dilemma for a declining priesthood.
Assemblies are composed more of those who seek comfort in reverence for a higher being than of mortal men in robes.
Priests must be careful that the language they use is not unkind. The Catholic Church cannot afford to lose people by driving them away with diatribes.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/harsh-soundbites-from-the-pulpit-will-turn-people-away-from-the-church-41581089.html Harsh noises from the pulpit will turn people away from the church