Monday, 6 September 2010

It is a puzzlement!

Religion overthrowing Heresy -
a painting by Pierre Le Grosse the Younger.

I watched Archbishop Vincent Nichols being interviewed by Andrew Marr on TV on Sunday morning. As the King of Siam might say - "It is a puzzlement!"

I suppose it is considered a success when there are no headlines the next day, which is a recipe for making sure you say nothing at all!

Anyway, my puzzlement centred around his comment on the word heretical -

"That's a word from the history books rather than from a modern lexicon," says the Archbishop.

I don't know how much time has to pass before we consign a word to the history books but the Cathechism of the Catholic Church from 1994 lists the word "heresy" in its index and the reference describes what it is with a direct quote from Canon Law (1985).

I don't know which lexicon His Grace uses but the Church still seems to be using the word and the concept. It is a puzzlement!

Of course the reluctance to use the word (even when it is the accurate one) is not new. In Robert Bolt’s play A Man For All Seasons we find the following exchange between Thomas More and his future son-in-law and biographer William Roper. Roper has asked to marry More’s daughter:

Thomas More: Roper, the answer is no....and will be no as long as you're a heretic.

Roper: Now, that's a word I don't like, Sir Thomas!

Thomas More: It's not a likeable word or thing.

St Norbert quashing the heretic Tanchelm.

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