After Mass our parish priest usually, and very kindly, invites people into his kitchen for discussions about events of the day. This tends to be a smoky affair, which I don't like, as some people make roll-ups filled with stuff that belongs on a compost heap. Today's ended up talking about the teaching of sex in schools. My own experience is that teaching a subject at school is the way to kill all interest in it. One can envisage the children sitting in class reading illicit text books on Latin and Chemistry hidden inside the covers of the text books on sex. One also worries that they would end up knowing nothing at the end of the course.
The role of the "gay lobby" then came up - this is a strange phenomenon which has moved in a period of 40 years from a fight against intolerance to what is beginning to look like proselytisation. The Catholic church is unambiguous about this: everyone is welcome so long as they are chaste, and if they have sinned then they should refrain from communion until they have been to confession. This is the rule that applies to all, whatever their sexual orientation or state of life. So it is OK for a gay man to have a partner, only don't have sex with him, which is not so very difficult and still leaves plenty of scope for a loving relationship.
After the regular Extraordinary form Mass on Fridays, the conversation can take a different turn, especially if anyone who frequents the SSPX masses turns up. These cover a variety of positions, including the notion that the Pope is not the Pope, the Catholic church is not the proper church, and that the See of Peter is vacant, hence the term Sedevacantist.
I don't know the precise events which led to Archbishop Lefebre's group being excommunicated, but presumably it was the unauthorised consecration of bishops ie without the agreement of Rome, this amounting to voluntary excommunication on the part of the one excommunicated.
The Catholic church contains individuals with a broad range of views and nobody is actually excommunicated unless they do or preach something well outside what is regarded as the official teaching and practice of the church. Thus we have to put up with, amongst other things, near-Marxists, appalling liturgies, and indifferent bishops, all for the sake of unity. And that is the whole point of being Catholic - one cannot be more Catholic than the Pope. "Catholic Fundamentalist" is an oxymoron.
Which is why I find SSPX followers worrying. They present an extreme traditionalist view, which is fine, but they will not accept that there is room for any other, which is not fine. The Pope, as shepherd, has the onerous task of holding his wayward flock together. If one refuses to accept that role, one is not Catholic at all, but heretical, since it is to deny an article of dogma, making one a member of what amounts to a protestant sect.
Poverty and Politics
Poverty and politics are also natural subjects for discussion in the run-up to the election. All of the political parties are running policies which make people poor. But the focus tend to be pro-life, anti-abortion and at best, anti-poverty - meaning that we should do something for the poor. In the past, there have been candidates running on such a ticket.
It is not enough. Catholic Social Teaching has, in principle, the solutions to most of the problems of finance, the economy and "Broken Britain", but we keep silent. Most of us don't even know what is Catholic Social Teaching, let alone what sort of practical policies would follow from putting it into effect.
This is tragic because none of the other parties have policies that even begin to address the problems, leaving us in a position to achieve a radical breakthrough if we had the will. Yet there is a whole body of Catholic social teaching that needs to be translated into practical policies before anyone can claim to be a "Catholic" politician.
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