Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Another Voice In The Wilderness

I see the Cause of Fr Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boy's Town, is advancing. The Archdiocesan phase in Omaha has been completed and the Postulator has taken possession of the documents to deliver them to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome. Just recently the diocesan phase of the Cause of Fr Patrick Peyton, the Rosary Priest, also ended and his documents are now deposited in Rome. So two ex-pat Irish priests are on their way to beatification.

You all know the story of Fr Flanagan, so I need not go into it. He was a 20th century Don Bosco who deserves to be honoured at the altars of God for his love and dedication to the most vulnerable of our young people. His life and holiness contrasts sharply with what went on here in Ireland as he was setting up Boy's Town. It seems he was not happy with the system of industrial schools in Ireland and apparently on a visit to Cork he read the riot act and told the Irish that the system the government and Church were putting in place was bad. See an interesting article on this here.

As we have come to expect, the Irish were having none of it and condemned Fr Flanagan for his remarks. The then Minister for Justice, Gerard Boland, using Dail privilege, said he was "not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them". Fr Flanagan was castigated by those who thought they knew better, an attitude of the Irish that transcends all ideologies, and all religious beliefs and none. Fr Flanagan responded by saying, quite correctly, that we needed to be shaken out of our smugness and satisfaction. Well, we have indeed been shaken. The dismal state of the Church in Ireland today is of our own making, the fruit of our refusing to heed the warnings God gave us through his faithful servants because we thought we knew better. And you know, I don't think we have learned anything because listening to some in the Church recently they are going along as if it is business as usual.

Of course it would be simplistic to blame the Church alone for all this - this attitude Fr Flanagan was speaking about is an Irish one, not a Catholic one - indeed a good dose of Christian humility will shake it out of us. This is interesting as we hear reports from the HIA enquiry in Northern Ireland which is currently looking at the Brendan Smyth case. It seems, according to what was revealed (and not widely reported down here in the South), that the Gardai were aware of accusations of child abuse made against Brendan Smyth in 1973, long before the Church was, but seemingly did nothing about it. Why didn't they? We shall see where that will go.

Why don't people listen to the modern John the Baptists God sends us? 


  1. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer


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