BY MICHAEL MULLINS
Father Z, the English-speaking world’s most quoted blogger, writes that giving children and non-communicants a blessing “is so wide-spread now that a priest who doesn’t give blessings at Communion could be thought to be ‘mean’.”
He was commenting on a post of fellow blogger Father Cory Sticha – titled “Why I refuse to bless children at Communion” – which “went viral”. Sticha wrote:
This is a position taken not out of spite, but out of a respect for the liturgy and for the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In paragraph 22, Sacrosanctum Concilium states, ‘Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.’ A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for anyone, because a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy.
David Timbs at v2catholic uses Vatican II to arrive at the opposite conclusion, though he’s not specifically referring to refusing blessings at Communion in his reference to
a household of Christ-like welcome and hospitality, with its door ever open to the outsiders. Vatican II was insistent that these marks were the authentic characteristics of the ecclesial Community ... Disconcerting and deeply troubling for a very large number of Catholics throughout the world is the clear drift of the Church into a dangerous kind of ecclesiastical autism.
Bosco Peters at liturgy.co.nz does refer to the refusing blessings issue.
Many Christian communities do not have children and young people and non-communicants present. Those of you who do have these – don’t stuff it up: don’t let the experience be one of unnecessarily excluding them.
Despite being so pugnacious, last Monday’s ABC TV Q&A Dawkins-Pell religious belief debate seems to have been quite a healing event. Country Priest normally finds himself at loggerheads with views expressed on the Catholica website.
I made a rare visit to the Catholica forum board on Tuesday, to gauge the reaction of Catholics who don’t think like me. I didn’t perservere with the whole thread, but the first few posts credited Pell for not embarrassing the cause. In Catholica land, that’s high praise indeed.
Country Priest accepted the debate on its own terms, which was that it was a fight, as the ABC had billed it.
Dawkins landed very few blows; he really was outclassed. Pell landed several, though it must be admitted he also clobbered himself a few times, without any help from Dawkins. Still, I’d argue that Pell won emphatically.
However Father Chris Ryan at Seeing Swans at Night suggests that while it was a great spectacle, it had very little to do with most people’s religious experience. He referred to a column by Nicki Gemmell in The Weekend Australian Magazine (sub required) in which
she begins by describing herself in her 20s as ‘one of those pitbull atheists, a sneerer a la Dawkins’, but she nonetheless would occasionally slip into a church service, a practice which slowly developed into a semi-regular habit in her early thirties. Gemmell no longer goes to church, and now identifies more with the atheism of Alain de Botton ... “I’ll never be with Dawkins, thumping that believers are deluded, stupid; I’ve too much respect for the mysterious in life” ...
“She has clearly experienced the power of some of the practices of religious faith ... And yet her article concludes with her ‘head’, her reason telling her that the atheists are right ... [However] the Christian tradition has maintained, over and against this modern epistemology, that God is known and encountered by the heart ... I would contend that Dawkins doesn’t get this ... But Gemmell does get it.”
Media Watch Dog Gerard Henderson has several takes on the debate including two Sydney Morning Herald columnists getting it wrong when they gave the debate to Dawkins partly on the basis of mis-reading the page 92 of Charles Darwin’s autobiography that was quoted by Pell.
Henderson also rejects Paul Collins’ conclusion on his Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report that the debate was balanced.
It turned out that Collins’ concept of “balance” was to bag both participants ... According to Paul Collins, Richard Dawkins and George Pell made a contribution to the debate on atheism that resembled “the level of 16 year olds”. This from Paul Collins.
Sentire Cum Ecclesia thought that the Q&A debate was outclassed by Thursday’s night’s encounter between Fr Brendan Purcell and Prof Peter Singer in St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.
[It] has restored my faith in the possibility of rational debate between atheists and theists. The audience was also intelligent and respectful. No cheap shots, good questions, well thought out and argued answers. Thought provoking all round. They should have played this debate on QandA last Monday.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.