Saturday, 10 November 2012

Where do you stand?

I mean, do you regard visits to Hindu temples, Muslim mosques and so on, an acceptable part of Catholic school life or, even, of Catholic parish life?

Would you, if drawn into such a group, allow your forehead to be daubed with a red spot or adopt the kneeling position as used by the particular faith you are visiting or participate in any other way?

Do you believe that Catholic convents and other Catholic groups should participate in retreat or training programmes that involve elements of Buddhism, Taoism or any other pagan belief?

This is a yes or no moment - there is no "but only if" category; I'm just interested in obtaining the views of other Catholics rather than plodding on in my own little orthodox Catholic bubble.

Please look at the options in my sidebar and vote accordingly - xie xie!


  1. Rchard, If the Bishop, or even the Pope, directed Catholics to participate in what was, or even appeared to be, syncretic, I would refuse, noisily.

    1. we shouldnt go anywhere near heretical ,or pagan,institutions.the holy roman catholic church is the one true church outside of which there is no salvation.philip johnson.

  2. I can remember the days when you were expected to get permission from your pp to attend a non-Catholic wedding. You were certainly forbidden to utter any of the prayers.
    I'd not like to go back to that, but being open to the beliefs of others is rather different from acceptance.
    I think one of the problems is that the intake of many Catholic schools is now so diverse that teachers believe they have to be fair and non-judgemental.
    Unfortunately, it's the slippery slope to lapsation.

  3. Long, long ago I took a free introductory lesson in karate. The requirement that I bow to a building ended it for me. No false religions, no quasi-religions.

    - Mack in Texas

  4. And yet, and yet ...

    In Lower Sixth we were taken by the (De La Salle) brother who was our RE teacher to a synagogue where we had a tour and a look at the scrolls and a lecture on the structure of (orthodox) Jewish worship. This came towards the end of a series of classes on what the Judaism that Christ came to fulfil was, and was followed by a final couple of classes during which we could link together the theoretical understanding of what Jews believed with the third dimension of how they worshipped. That wasn't syncretism. Judaism isn't a special case - I'm no dispensationalist and believe that Jews need to be saved through the Incarnation as much as the rest of Humanity - but this trip helped me grow in my faith.


  5. Yes, Ttony, if it does not sound overly pompous, I would go along with a well focused visit that links in to a Catholic RE programme. Judaism is, of course, of particular relevance.
    What concerns me are primary school trips to temples and mosques and parish visits that have little or no focus and result in delegates participating in pagan or non Christian rituals.

  6. Ttony's remarks above reminded me of the holy father's visit to the synagogue in New York during his trip to the USA. With evident excitement in his voice he said, "This is what Jesus would have known!" Strangely enough I was struck by the layout which reminded me of the Catholic sanctuary before the reordering mania took hold.When all is said and done it seems to me that the Jews ARE a special case. While they have yet to accept Our blessed Lord they don't believe the kind of bunkum one encounters in Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam.

  7. Of course I'm not trying to defend getting children to make Diwali lamps etc, but here's another case.

    Some years ago I went to Istanbul and for a variety of reasons had an hour or so in Ayyia Sofia as part of a group of about 25 people. The building had been cleared for us and we were able to go anywhere we wanted without guides. I decided to try to see what was left which could be identified as Christian. Although I was being hosted in what is described as a museum by representatives of the secular Turkish state, I was careful to respect their sensitivities and when I went into an enclosure which had replaced the altar and seemed to be particularly holy, I slipped my shoes off. I didn't have to but my hosts were pleased that I did.

    None of this is to argue with your basic premise with regard to Catholic school life, but both my examples are about adults being able to do things which are more nuanced than either acting like a member of a different faith on the one hand or refusing to acknowledge other people's beliefs on the other.

    Patricius: the Jews are a special case in that they are our older brethren, the people with whom God made his covenant, the people chosen to host the Incarnation, etc etc etc, but they are (metaphorically) exactly as far from Christianity as Muslims.


  8. Patricius, yes, the Jews are a special case. We inherited their music and much of their furnishings (as well as prayers) and, of course, stating the obvious, Our Lord was a Jew. Ttony, also totally agree with your point but, personally, I would not particularly wish to visit a mosque (unless it was the Hagia Sophia, which I have done). Not sure if that makes sense but it's how I muddle through on such topics.


  9. LF - agree totally, especially about the noise.

  10. Richard, while I agree that it's important not to confuse children into thinking that all religions are the same, or anything like that, I also think that it is important to know what others believe, if for no other reason than to know why you do not agree. I don't think that keeping children from any knowledge of what Jews or Muslims or Hindus believe will keep them Catholic, and I don't think ignorance is a good thing to encourage. I don't really see the problem with a Catholic school visiting a Synagogue and looking at the Jewish roots of Catholicism, as Ttony describes, or even just to see how others worship, so long as the teachers are clear in saying that as Catholics, we don't believe these things. In my experience working in a Catholic school, one of the biggest problems is not that the children are drawn towards another faith (whether through school trips or not) but that they aren't remotely aware of what the Church teaches and come from families who could care less. I would estimate, being generous, that less than 5% of my students attend Mass more than once per month, and even less of the staff. I have seriously been asked what Catholicism is and regularly shock (absolutely shock) the children by telling them that we as Catholics believe that the Eucharist is literally the body and blood of Christ. They have never heard it. We did an RE trip to an Anglican cathedral and an Orthodox synagogue last year, and there was nothing about it that made me, as a practicing Catholic, uncomfortable. It was like touring a country whose customs I would never keep. To be honest, I doubt the children took in very much at all from it. I'm much more concerned about the horrendous RE they're subjected to weekly and the semi-heretical Masses we're forced to undergo termly. I can't remember the last school Mass in which we actually said the Creed. Or followed the rubrics.


  11. Louise, yes, I agree totally re Judaism.
    Also, for secondary school pupils such visits if properly managed may be useful. But, if we cannot even provide a school Mass properly, it does not say much for our schools ability to properly focus visits such as these.