What’s a Protestant?
My understanding of the term is that it applies to Christians who don’t accept in their entirety the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. The entirety is important. All the Christian denominations agree on the vast bulk of their beliefs but none, apart from the Roman church insists on absolute obedience.
It follows, therefore, that any Christian who refuses to accept dogma laid down by the Pope is not a Catholic.
Now, why is this important? Well, in reality, it isn’t, since we’re talking about a religious delusion. They all think that a man rose from the dead, and most of them think that a virgin got pregnant by magic. What’s more, they all believe that even after you die, you can exist as a happy ghost. But nevertheless, a recent survey produced some very interesting results.
Despite what I might wish, we can’t ignore the Roman Catholic church with all its insanities, because it controls the bulk of our primary schools and still has a firm grip on many of our politicians. We must examine it, even if we recoil from the nonsense it teaches, and this brings us to a very interesting phenomenon in Ireland — the Association of Catholic Priests. You might recall that one of its prominent members, Tony Flannery, was in the news recently after being told to stop thinking what he thinks and think something else instead. This is a very RC concept, recalling precisely what happened to Galileo when he proved that the Earth orbits the sun. I never understood how it could be possible to believe something just by choosing to do so, but that’s religion for you.
Hey you! Don’t believe that. Believe this.
The Inquisition stuck Galileo into house arrest and forced him to take back what he knew to be the truth, but here’s a question. What organisation silenced Father Tony Flannery? It’s called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger before his elevation to the CEO job.
And what was the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called before it received its current title?
Why, it was called the Holy Inquisition, the same crowd who arrested Galileo, perhaps using the same offices, the same desks and maybe even the very same quills, but rebranded with a new logo and perhaps a new mission statement. One thing is certain, the Inquisition never moved out of the house on the corner from where they operated for five hundred years despite name changes and new looks. A sort of ecclesiastical Lubyanka.
Whatever the extent of the rebranding, the change was enough to fool Tony Flannery into believing he could write whatever he wanted in the ACP’s magazine. He never saw the backlash coming, and that’s because Nobody expects the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith!
Guess what, though? The Association of Catholic Priests didn’t just lie down and die. Flannery’s immediate superior spoke out in his defence as did many other Catholic priests.
And what are the issues?
More religious insanity. After all these years, the dysfunctional old men in the Vatican are still talking about contraception, which they made a doctrinal issue. They’re worried about married priests, which is not a doctrinal matter since many Catholic priests are happily married with families with the full approval of the Vatican. I refer to those Anglican priests who moved over in protest at women priests in the Church of England and the Church of Ireland.
The issue of women priests is most certainly a doctrinal issue. The Roman Catholic church considers women unworthy to be ministers of its faith, purely because of their gender, and let’s be clear about this. Any Christian who refuses to accept this view is, by definition, a Protestant. They might not like to hear this, but it’s a fact.
Ask most Irish Catholics what the Eucharist is, and they’ll tell you it symbolises the body of Jesus. Wrong. The teaching is simple: the consecrated host IS the body of Jesus. You’re a Christian and don’t believe this? You’re a Protestant. The end. Of course, atheists believe none of this tosh, but that’s a different matter.
What about this survey?
Of 1,000 Catholics surveyed, 87% said priests should be allowed to marry. 77% said women should be priests. 60% disagreed with the Catholic church’s views on homosexuality. Three-quarters believe that the church’s teachings on sexuality have no relevance to their family. 55% think a bishop should be like a mayor, serving a fixed term, which of course raises all manner of bizarre scenarios including the danger that all Irish bishops will turn into Willie O’Dea.
On the basis of these figures, since three quarters of Irish Catholics disagree with the fundamental teaching of the Vatican that women may not be priests, it seems that three quarters of Irish Catholics are actually Protestants.
My own view is that most Irish Catholics have not the slightest understanding of what their faith entails and therefore there are very few Catholics of any sort in the country. That’s not such a big deal for me, but maybe it would be good for those who call themselves Catholic to reflect on it, especially since their church continues to seek influence over things that affect the likes of me, such as schools and health care.
I might not have much time for the beliefs of the Association of Catholic Priests, beliefs I consider to be fantasy wrapped up in the spurious discipline of theology, which I defined elsewhere as the study of shit we made up. Nevertheless, I admire their courage in the face of intimidation from Rome. It took guts to publish this survey after what happened to Tony Flannery, and I wish them well in the struggle to retain their personal integrity. The chances are slim enough, though, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see the whole lot of them proclaiming the exact opposite of what they’re saying today. After all, if they can swallow the doctrines of Catholicism without blinking, they’d hardly strain at swallowing their own words.
But if they’re serious in their desire to move forward, they could make a significant beginning by doing one simple thing. Stop calling themselves Father.
The nervous boy in clerical garb I met recently was not my father, nor would I honour him with the term. Stop it, lads. Drop this Father nonsense and be Mister again, as you were before Paul Cullen invented your silly title. You’re not anybody’s father, or at least, you shouldn’t be.