Friday, 31 January 2014

Hold that Tigar!

Fr Clement Tigar SJ was a great and holy man belonging to an order that, pre you-know-what, still had depth and integrity.

In the 1960s I lived just around the corner from Campion House in Osterley, a seminary for late vocations, where Fr Tigar ruled the roost.

He was an austere man (as, I believe, so many saints were) and, despite the fact that I doffed my school cap to him as we passed, he barely acknowledged me; maybe his mind was on higher things (undoubtedly).

He wrote many books, including my favourite, 'Papist Pie', a series of brief questions (supposedly framed by a non Catholic) matched with concise answers framed by the great man himself.

If you read the contents, one thing above all others stands out - the fact that Church teaching is black and white.
 Theology, within the framework of HMC is ultra precise, there's no room for ifs and buts.

And that is how it should be. Christ did not come to found imprecision and committee type debate, He came to found His own Church, infallible in every way in her teachings.

Here are a couple of extracts from 'Papist Pie' -


"Why are Catholics so intolerant? Why can't they join with their fellow Christians in acts of worship?"

Fr Tigar's response:

"Because it's against orders. Catholics belong to a Church which believes in discipline, and one of her rules is "no worship with Non-Catholics."
But, why does she give this order?
Because she is firmly convinced that she has a sacred trust from God to hand on to her children the truth revealed by Christ, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A service necessarily involves some expression of belief in the truths about God and about Jesus Christ.
She would be false to her trust if she allowed her children to join in services not authorized by herself, because she could not be sure that in such services the whole truth and nothing but the truth was being imparted.

She casts no aspersions on Non-Catholics who worship God in their own way; on the contrary she has the deepest regard for their evident sincerity and goodness, but since she knows that she alone possesses the full truth of God's revelation, she cannot allow her children to worship at Non-Catholic services".


"Is it not best to keep an open mind on religious questions, instead of subscribing to this or that sect?"

Fr Tigar's response:

"No. An open mind is often a vacant mind. A mathematician who had an open mind on the possibility that twice two might or might not make four would have a vacant mind.

Religious questions are questions of truth and error, and there is an obligation on every man to find the truth".


  1. Brrrrravissimo! The problem now is that Catholic clergy and educators are often as heretical as the worst of the protestants.

  2. Fr Tigar was right.

    The Truth has to be clearly stated, both to Catholics in catechesis and to non-Catholics in any discussion. Of course, after clearly stating the Truth, we can then by all means have a friendly and lively discussion explaining just where they are wrong. But to avoid clearly expressing Truth, is being complicit in a lie.

    That was always understood by lay Apologists such as Belloc, Chesterton, and Waugh and so on, as well as by priests who all spoke out clearly. As for the current equivalent of such splendid Catholics, Voris clearly stands out and there are others.

    But sadly, they get little support from priests these days, presumably because the bishops have told them not to upset any heterodox Catholics with little matters such as Catholic doctrine, and certainly not, any of our separated brethren.

  3. I guess F. Tigar SJ couldn´t have imagined back then to which extent his SJ confrères would keep their mind open.

  4. But Fr. Tigar must have been mistaken, at least in his answer to the question of worship with non-Catholics. Pope John Paul II frequently worshipped with non-Catholics and even kissed the Koran once and he is to be declared a saint by Christ's Vicar in April. Likewise Pope Benedict prayed with Jews, prayed in a Mosque and prayed alongside an Anglican hierarch at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor and gave a joint blessing with the same. Can the Pope be wrong?

    1. Anon, no, Fr Tiga was not mistaken; that was the rule pre Vatican II. If you were attending a Protestant wedding you asked permission first from your parish priest. Post Vatican II it all changed. Of course, a Pope can be wrong....a Pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.

  5. 'An open mind is often a vacant mind'; like the clean house ready for even more demons.

    'Religious questions are questions of truth and error.'

    I just watched a documentary about Archbishop Lefebvre (Pope Benedict XVI called him a great man of the faith); one of the clergy commented that putting truth and error on the same footing is like putting wellness and illness on equal footing; no one therefore needs a physician.