Friday 31 December 2010

Bishop Thomas Burns

Bishop Thomas Burns is causing much comment because of his re-published sermon in this year's Menevia Diocese Yearbook. You can read about it here:

and here:

and here:

One of the things he criticises in his priests is the following:
"Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments
and rubrical gestures abound."

Here is HIS LORDSHIP himself in completely non-flamboyant and understated mode, posing for a photograph with a dressed goat and a soldier in 19th century costume.

And here is My Lord Bishop in a gold off-the shoulder number,wearing his pectoral Cross over his cope instead of underneath as laid down in the Ceremonial of Bishops.

And again is His Excellency wearing a purple hat and silk belly-band in an aircraft hangar.

Once more, the Right Reverend Bishop in a very inconspicuous hat and understated collar,
bravely flouting the much-loathed rubrics by omitting to wear an amice (contrary to GIRM No. 336) and again wearing his pectoral Cross over his chasuble instead of underneath as laid down in the Ceremonial of Bishops. ("The pectoral cross is to be worn under the chasuble, dalmatic, or cope, but over the mozzetta." (CB 61))

And, of course, no man of the people following in the humble footsteps of the Lord is complete without his own coat of arms.


Richard Collins said...

Points well made Father.

RJ said...

I suppose there is some plausbility in the idea that the prestige of the priesthood made it unimaginable that individual priests could be guilty of abuse or made it unacceptable for such things to be brought out into the open.

Possibly, some people have a non-culpably acquired tendency towards such deviancy - some kind of developmental disorder. That is then an issue when it comes to selecting candidates for the priesthood.

However, there is another side to it: that of personal responsibility and the cultivation of virtue. Has there been a tendency to dismiss as scrupulosity the idea that wilful consent to disordered thoughts and feelings is sinful? Has there been a downplaying of the role of cultivating virtue (asceticism)? Neglecting either of these would make a person vulnerable to enslavement in vice. (This might answer the Bishop's question: 'How could anyone in the priesthood ever have abused that anointing deliberately and-repeatedly, not just in a single, one-off moment of immaturity or indiscretion immediately regretted, but by knowing and planning habitually, without remorse or regret, what they were doing?')

A slightly different angle? Is the solution to clericalise the laity? (I think not)

RJ said...

The Linacre Institute published an intersting study called "After Asceticism"
Quote: "The truth is that the deficiencies that caused the scandal were not merely rooted in a few disturbed individuals, but rather, were common deficiencies and aberrations in the religious purpose and intellectual formation of priests dating back to at least the 1950s."

Some interesting ideas:
"The following ideas outline the common notions in the psychology of asceticism:

•Habits of prayer for the priest are crucially important to his chastity and effectiveness in the parish.
•Serious commitment to ascetical practices of bodily self-denial, such as extended fasting and abstinence, and control of sexual fantasy, are necessary for overcoming the temptation to sexual behavior.
•Frequent confession and penance (including the “mortification of the flesh”) have an integral role in prayer life and in the performance of priestly or episcopal duties.
•The sexual fantasies and desires of the priest shape his moral and spiritual character as “father ” toward those in his care even if there is never any overt sexual behavior. Sexual orientation weighs heavily in this regard.
•Sexual behavior of the priest—even that which is far short of illegal—has a corrosive influence on prayer life and a profoundly debilitating effect on pastoral effectiveness."