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By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 25, 2003

The Archbishop of St. Andrews-Edinburgh, M. Rev. Keith O'Brien, writes to his clergy, seconding the opinion that "we seem to having now a second opportunity for putting into effect the teachings of the Second Vatican Council" but mentioning "two problems about which I am intensely concerned."

The first is a certain cynicism on the part of both some lay people and priests. There are some who want to go back to the old ways; who might say we have tried it all before; who want to contract out; people who ask for Mass when it always was and where it always was; and priests who are not willing to encourage their people to grow into this new way of being Church.

A curious appraisal. I can think of several explanations for the reluctance of Catholics to grow into a "new way of being Church," but cynicism is not among them.

I would add that perhaps the worst enemy in our Church at this present time is those who engage in "friendly fire."

Do you think Archbishop O'Brien is alluding to feminists or gay-rights activists or partisans of contraception agitating within Catholic ecclesial structures? Neither do I.

As the late Cardinal Basil Hume once wrote: "I believe that as a bishop, I have to try to lead people from where they are to where they never dreamed they might go."

What nonsense is this? Show us any text -- biblical or magisterial -- that teaches that a bishop has the ability, much less the duty, to discern the future commitments of the faithful. It would less alarming if, in the manner of Newman, the Archbishop were pointing to organic and minutely-studied developments necessary to preserve the Curch's deposit of faith and tradition of prayer. But no, the laity are to be led "where they never dreamed they might go."

The letter also says, "during the year there were no ordinations to the priesthood for our Archdiocese."

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