Sunday, July 03, 2011

Problems in the parish

I don't have very high expectations when I attend mass. I accept that there will be some lefty politics and I accept that the dignity of the mass will be disturbed at times. But this morning I left early. It was Aboriginal week and the church was festooned with Aboriginal motifs. The mass opened with a statement of praise for Aboriginal culture and spirituality. That much was OK. But then we got to the "we are living on Aboriginal land" stuff and I'd had enough. It was one intrusive political moment too many. I left quietly. I'm not sure if I'll go back to my local parish.

The next closest parish is even worse. I had a look at their website and the front page featured a very biased SBS documentary on refugees. They have a social justice group which is connected to left-wing activist groups like GetUp and Avaaz. GetUp is currently campaigning for gay marriage, a climate tax, and against refugee detention centres; Avaaz is a bit less biased to the left, but it nonetheless campaigns on issues like drug decriminalisation.

I'm not going to give up. There are a few more parishes I can attend in my quest for a normal mass.

A few thoughts on this issue. First, my local parish is in the doldrums. Despite having a school attached to it, I am usually the youngest person in attendance. Nearly everyone attending is older than 60. It seems that the current strategy of the parish is to adopt left-wing politics as a way of attracting more parishioners. But that seems to me to be a mistake. You can get left-wing politics anywhere - you don't need to go to church for this. Furthermore, the majority of young lefty types are irreligious. Worse yet, left-wing politics is usually directed against white, middle-class heterosexuals - but our suburb is mostly composed of exactly this demographic. Does the church expect large numbers of people to voluntarily attend an institution which is set against them?

All of this makes me wonder if the Catholic Church is going to follow along the path of the Anglicans. The Anglicans set themselves up as a church of the left-liberal middle class, but in doing so they put themselves in a position in which the values of liberal modernity came increasingly to clash with Christian orthodoxy - leading to division within the church and the ever present threat of schism.

Things do not seem to be well at the parish level of the Catholic Church in Melbourne.

36 comments:

  1. Mr. Richardson, have you been to the EF community?

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  2. Excellent Post Mark.

    In Los Angeles, the catholic church is entirely Mexican. Cardinal Mahoney (Irish and therefore an Anglo Hater) was replaced by a Mexican.

    The white Christian churches in the US are obsessed with three things....
    - Adopting African children
    - Doing charity work in Africa and Latin America (charity vacations) It's sick really, they go on 'vacation' and just get worshipped by little brown children. Disgusting really.
    - Christian Zionists like Michelle Bachmann who say "Anyone who doesn't do exactly what Israel tells you to do is Cursed I say! Cursed!!!"

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  3. Papabear,

    There's a traditional Catholic parish in Melbourne but it's a long drive from where I live. However, my parents live close by. So part of my plan is to try to get there about once a month and to take my children to see their grandparents afterwards.

    But I haven't given up on finding a local parish. There are at least three more within a ten minute drive from me. I'm not looking for perfection - I've grown up having to deal with modernist intrusions - I just don't want it to be constantly pushed on me while I'm in church.

    Anon, I don't mind the church doing charity work in the third world. It's the mindset accompanying it that bothers me. Service to others shouldn't mean giving up on a healthy sense of self or self-existence. Nor should the church come across as a kind of merger between Catholicism and a left-liberal political club, with each balanced equally in influence.

    (Just to extend the argument about self: most religious traditions do seek to break down the "egoistic self". But the point of this is not to be self-abnegating or self-annihilating but to allow the better expression of a spiritual self. So I agree with anon that there is something sickly in identifying wholly with the other to the point that there is nothing left of oneself. That is not a spiritual condition at all - how can it be? - but the making of a void of oneself - an expression of inner emptiness.)

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  4. I attend an Ethnic Polish church. The last time I went the small children were singing songs about how the Poles defeated the Muslims in 1600s. It was lovely.

    But even in that church interracial marriage is far too accepted. Do they really believe that the culture will survive when the child is no longer Polish and white? It is laughable to think so.

    I once spent time looking up nuns to see what they worked on. And I discovered that almost all the Catholic Nuns help Third World Countries.

    I call it Mother Theresa Syndrome. Every Year she Prayed to the Black Virgin Mary. She never ever spoke to her mothers and sisters, family again after leaving her home town. She never did anything to help her own people, but only people far far away.

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  5. We need white nuns and white priests who are dedicated to helping White People.

    Here's some ideas...

    - In Britain there is a problem with girls becoming prostitutes
    - Mental Illness (drug companies are trying to keep people ill) For example, Schizophrenia is reaching epic porportions in Western Countries. Yet no one is there for them. Sure they get 'minimum care' provided by the government. But that's not a cure.
    - Health care in general
    - The elderly
    - Encouraging white people to have children
    - Stopping the white genocide

    White people have evolved to higher level problems, but the church did not follow. Maybe the separation between church and state caused the church to detach from the people?

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  6. Anon,

    Again, I don't think it's a problem if some nuns work to help the poor overseas, though I agree that if that is all that nuns are oriented to that it would indicate something wrong in the church.

    Nor do I think it likely that the church will take a leading role in defending the existence of European societies and peoples. Ideally the church ought to have protested more vigorously about open borders. But realistically the church is just not that kind of institution. I'd settle for the church being neutral and leaving the mass as a Catholic mass.

    But I suppose the lesson is that any institution that doesn't very firmly reject modernism in principle is going to be pulled into the modernist orbit.

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  7. . It was Aboriginal week and the church was festooned with Aboriginal motifs.


    that's not a "parish problem" that is idolatry

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  8. "I don't mind the church doing charity work in the third world."

    I do mind when they actively promote bringing the Third World to my country, though.

    So why didn't you confront the priest and tell him that "we are living on Aboriginal land" is offensive bullshit? Leaving quietly and never coming back is just abandoning the field to the Left. Sure, he's going to say what he wants to say, but he's certainly never going to change his approach if he doesn't know that anyone objects to it.

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  9. Anon, good question.

    I left quietly because the mass was in progress. If I were a more active participant in the parish then I would certainly communicate to the priest my concerns. But I haven't gotten involved apart from attending mass, partly from time constraints, partly because the parish is much older than I am, and partly because I've already felt alienated by the politics of the place.

    But you've made me resolve this much anyway. Whether I find a new parish or try to give my local one another chance, I'll try to get to know the parish priest and be a bit more outspoken both in my praise and criticism.

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  10. I think that a religious life is so important and I'm sorry that your churches have so far proven inadequate. I think one of the issues a church faces is who are they trying to appeal to, or who is their target audience? If they're focused on their parishioners and on spreading and teaching the word (for instance to the young who aren’t currently attending) then they won't be bothering with things like refugees. If on the other hand they're trying to show off at their conferences or secular gatherings then they'll continue into irrelevancy and be divorced from the public.

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  11. I think the priests actually believe in the left-liberalism; it's not instrumental. They probably know they'd get more congregants with a different ethos, but they think that would be immoral.

    My local Anglican church hasn't the faintest whiff of Political Correctness, it's great and I just wish we were religious (rather than Christianity-supporting atheists) and had the energy to go more than once or twice a year. They have a white vicar and a mix of white, black Caribbean, and Tamil congregants.

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  12. I am a Catholic from your area and I think I know which parish you are talking about.

    Bit out of your way but St Mary's Greensborough and St Damiens in Bundoora tend to be middle of the line with lefty crap to a minimum.

    The former because it has a much higher rate of young families than most of the Parishes in the area and the latter because of an aging but dedicated traditionalist working class Southern Euro diaspora and more recent Asian immigration.

    These factors stop the church going too nuts and keep it in touch with the community.

    A church usually goes over the edge into leftoidness when it has lost all it's flock bar the old Anglo-Celtic ladies with nothing else to do on a Sunday.

    I know the Catholic church has more or less given up on the west and sees the future of the Faith in Asia and Africa but this is silly.

    Taking a harder line now would alienate about 50% of Catholics. But those are the 50% who are so far to the left that they call themselves such to get a pulpit for their leftoid crazy.

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  13. Plus man you live in Eltham, home of Monsalvat and the Heidelberg school.

    What did you expect a traditionalist atmosphere?

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  14. James, good comments.

    You're right about the demographics. The people I mix with in Eltham (aged 30s-40s with children) are not particularly left-wing. But there's an older generation just now retiring who belong to that cohort which came of age in the late 60s and early 70s. And, yes, they are mostly committed to an older style left-liberalism.

    So I agree that I need to find a parish which isn't dominated by older Anglo left-liberals. I've got a few options. St Marys is definitely on the list.

    This is a good quote of yours:

    A church usually goes over the edge into leftoidness when it has lost all it's flock bar the old Anglo-Celtic ladies with nothing else to do on a Sunday.

    In my experience, that's spot on. Maybe the sense of continuity is lost when there are no longer young families attending the mass.

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  15. What did you expect a traditionalist atmosphere?

    When I think about it, I didn't expect a traditionalist atmosphere. I accepted that there would be the Wurundjeri plaques outside the church and the refugee group and so on. I just didn't think so many entire church services would be dedicated to left-wing themes and politics. It makes it difficult for me to get into the right frame of mind during the mass - it's intrusive and distracting.

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  16. Simon: "My local Anglican church hasn't the faintest whiff of Political Correctness, it's great and I just wish we were religious (rather than Christianity-supporting atheists) and had the energy to go more than once or twice a year."

    There is nothing stopping you, really, from becoming a Chistian -- from setting aside your God-denial (which is false, and can easily be seen to be false via reason alone) -- except yourself.

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  17. Christian Zionists like Michelle Bachmann who say "Anyone who doesn't do exactly what Israel tells you to do is Cursed I say! Cursed!!!

    Zionist? They seem more Libertarian or Corporate/Capitalist whores to me but kind of true that they love the Jews. By the way don't forget the health, wealth, prosperity "gospel" and other heresies.

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  18. Illion,

    I deleted because I thought your comment too strong a reaction. But if you thought anonymous's comment anti-Jewish then by all means criticise.

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  19. All of this makes me wonder if the Catholic Church is going to follow along the path of the Anglicans. The Anglicans set themselves up as a church of the left-liberal middle class, but in doing so they put themselves in a position in which the values of liberal modernity came increasingly to clash with Christian orthodoxy - leading to division within the church and the ever present threat of schism.

    Instead all of these religious people should be gearing towards attracting traditional conservative Christian youth. But no we can't have that can we? Instead we get liberals and libertarians infiltrating the Church, the Church dies and traditional conservatives and far-right wingers evacuate until they have a safe haven and create the Church again.

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  20. "I deleted because I thought your comment too strong a reaction. But if you thought anonymous's comment anti-Jewish then by all means criticise."

    And your reaction, Mr Richardson, shows you to have too strong a tolerance for racial hartred. Why not just be done with it and shave your head?

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  21. I sympathize with you on this, Mr. Richardson. I tend to have the same problem myself. I hear that there are good Catholic parishes out there, but they are always far from university towns, where I live. I'm glad to hear you have options, though. You have to protect your children from this stuff.

    My impression is that many of the priests are deeply embarrassed by the Church's stands on abortion and heterosexual marriage, and so they're desperate to find some Leftist cause to attach themselves to, thinking it will give them some sort of redemption or credibility among those whose opinions they value. Mass immigration may be stupid and unjust, but it's not obviously heretical, so they really jump on it.

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  22. Illion,

    The first part of your second comment is fine:

    "And your reaction, Mr Richardson, shows you to have too strong a tolerance for racial hartred."

    I occasionally get openly anti-Jewish comments here which I delete. But there are other comments which are more ambiguous. If someone criticises a Republican candidate for being a Christian Zionist is that beyond the pale? It's not a comment I would make myself (I support Israel) but it doesn't seem to me to be so offensive that it warrants censoring. If you think that's an error of judgement on my part, that's fine.

    But your second line is itself offensive:

    Why not just be done with it and shave your head?

    That's written from anger - it's not reasonable. I don't think you win arguments or influence people with offensive comments.

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  23. Hi Mark,


    I'm not Catholic, but am Christian. My problem I think stems from the same route cause that yours does:

    Biblical ignorance

    I am increasingly finding more and more ministers (especially guest speakers) that just make stuff up. Even when the bible talks about it and what they're saying is in opposition to the bible.

    I think it's the same problem you face. Rather then address the real issue of salvation people get sucked into the easy avenue of works. And what better works then those that get acknowledged and rewarded by the present day hedgemony. (Nevermind what the bible says about the reward you'll get for that).

    I live in rural Australia and unfortunately I have exhuasted all churches within 200km of me. At least you can get some excellent resources with internet shopping now.

    Ever considered a home church? Even if it's just one with your family.

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  24. people get sucked into the easy avenue of works. And what better works then those that get acknowledged and rewarded by the present day hegemony

    Tom, interesting point.

    Ever considered a home church? Even if it's just one with your family.

    Catholics for so long have been able to rely on the parish, the priest and the mass. But I do sometimes think that perhaps we should try to return to a culture in which the father does take some responsibility for worship and instruction within the home (e.g. prayers at the table, catechism, bible etc)

    I have read through a children's bible with my son and taken him to mass, but that's been it so far.

    OK, here's another resolution. I'm going to talk to my wife about reinstituting some family prayers at the table.

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  25. "That's written from anger - it's not reasonable."

    It's not written from anger, and it is reasonable. It is asking you whether there is any principled reason against taking your obvious comfort with expression of racial ratred to it logical conclusion.

    It is much the same as when St. Paul writes/asks of certain Corinthian women: "If you're going to present yourself *as though* you were a prostitute, why not just be one?"

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  26. But Illion it's not obvious to me that expressing opposition to Zionism constitutes racial hatred. As I wrote earlier, I support Israel, so I don't agree with anti-Zionism. I accept too that anti-Zionism is sometimes a coded way of expressing anti-Semitism. But it is not a direct expression of racial hatred.

    So therefore I face a judgement. Do I censor comments which might possibly be coded anti-Semitism, but which in themselves aren't expressions of racial hatred?

    If you think my judgement in this case is wrong, fine. I accept that it might be. But I find it difficult to be swayed by your judgement when you yourself go to such extremes.

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  27. Simon in London,

    I found Anthony Flew's "There is a God" an excellent read. I was very impressed with his resolution to follow the truth no matter where it led, even though his eventual statement of limited deism earned him nothing but scorn from the likes of Dawkins et al. May I recommend you take a look?

    Luzu

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  28. Humanly speaking, Australian Catholicism is doomed. Anyone who has actually had experience of Catholicism in other countries, notably France and the USA (where, whatever the prevailing faults, millions of Catholics mean business), will testify to this. Queensland's ecclesial buffoonery is jus tthe most extreme example.

    My personal dealings, over the last year, with Catholicism outside Victoria (as distinct from what I read and hear about such Catholicism) is limited. I've experienced only the Melbourne situation at first hand since 2010. There are, to my knowledge, two Latin Mass parishes in Melbourne. Both are, basically, dying.

    The diocesan one in Caulfield was talking a great game about how its pews would be packed after the 2007 papal freeing-up of the Latin Mass; in fact numbers have slightly but noticeably shrunk since then, no doubt due to the prominence of what might tactfully be called the limp-wristed element, which most Catholics with an IQ of more than about 30 have had a gutful of by now, after the Church's recent worldwide homo scandals.

    The non-diocesan one, in Hampton (run by the Society of St Pius X), is if anything even more of a goner. Just how bad its situation is can be determined from the fact that at a time when other SSPX seminaries around the world are struggling to cope with the influx of applicants, the SSPX's Australian seminary (in Goulburn, NSW) has so totally failed at attracting applicants that it has had to close down most of its courses.

    Moreover - and without wishing to defend Israel where it can't be defended - it must be said that the SSPX's Australian lay contingent contains certain out-and-out Jew-baiting psychotics (usually male and sometimes with a history of criminal violence) who do a wonderful job of deterring sane people from joining the parish.

    What I guess I'm saying is, don't imagine you'll encounter a culturally or intellectually significant local Church merely through joining one of Australia's very few Latin Mass parishes. These parishes might be free from the grosser PC elements of St Kumbaya's down the road, but that's about all that can be said for them, I fear.

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  29. Sorry, a grammatical error on my part slipped through at 4:04. "Dealings" should have been "dealing."

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  30. Christian Zionists like Michelle Bachmann who say "Anyone who doesn't do exactly what Israel tells you to do is Cursed I say! Cursed!!!

    I think a lot of times American conservative politicians who slobber all over Israel are just trying to establish their non-Nazi credentials. "I can't be a Nazi, see, because I loooove Israel so much!"

    They sure can't be chasing the Jewish votes (or if they are, they're stupid) since Jews vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

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  31. Anonymous wrote:

    "I think a lot of times American conservative politicians who slobber all over Israel are just trying to establish their non-Nazi credentials. 'I can't be a Nazi, see, because I loooove Israel so much!'"

    Never, never, underestimate the sheer moronism and moral bankruptcy of America's mainstream / GOP conservatives. They make Tony Abbott look like Joseph de Maistre, and if the thought of Abbott seeming comparatively intelligent and courageous isn't a terrifying prospect I don't know what is.

    As for (the Canadian-born) David Frum, probably the lowest form of pond life which even American pseudo-conservatism has ever nurtured, here he is trying to soften us up into accepting institutionalized sodomy, alias "same-sex marriage":

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/27/frum.gay.marriage/index.html

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  32. ""if the thought of Abbott seeming comparatively intelligent and courageous isn't a terrifying prospect I don't know what is.""

    Tony Abbot is a lying double dealing scumbag.

    That said I have read his stuff; he has a deeper understanding of the basic concepts behind right-lib politics than most Australian right of centre pollies.

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  33. Yeah, i got disillusioned by Catholicism years ago. Why not check out the Orthodox church?

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  34. Exactly what I was going to say. If you want to find the traditional Christianity of the Church of the first millenium, you need to look into and take seriously the claims of the Orthodox Church. Yes, there are problems there, but she is the Church which has preserved the Faith undefiled from the time of the Apostles. She resisted the Trinitarian and Christological heresies; she resisted Papism; Protestantism never flourished in her lands.

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  35. Elizabeth Smith: "Instead we get liberals and libertarians infiltrating the Church, the Church dies and traditional conservatives and far-right wingers evacuate until they have a safe haven and create the Church again."

    I don't get how that last part works. What safe haven? How is it supposed to create the Church again?

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