21 December 2015

The BBC, Edward Stourton, and an ex-Jesuit mock and misdescribe Indulgences

In the December 20 'Sunday' programme, the presenter, 'Ed' Stourton, a Catholic who 'remarried' after divorce, invited 'Michael Walsh, a papal historian', to explain Indulgences.

He did not mention that Walsh is an ex-Jesuit with a history of attacking the Vatican and the previous pontificate; a Tablet contributor. 'A papal historian' sounds so much grander than 'a failed Jesuit who has attacked the Vatican in the Tablet.'

By the way ... I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this ... Stourton, inevitably, is a Trustee of the Tablet.

The first conspicuous feature of the episode was the laughter. The pair kept giggling together: I counted six pieces of mirth.

I wonder if either of this spiteful and malevolent pair would ever dare to deal with any other religion ... Islam, say ... by continually laughing as they talked about it. Or, if they did, how fast the Beeb would sack them.

And there were two major pieces of misrepresentation. (1) The 'papal historian' appeared unaware that, as long ago as 1967, the practice of attaching periods of time to partial indulgences was abolished. He described this practice using the present tense.

And, (2), either out of ignorance or mendacity, 'papal historian' Walsh went on to claim that Pope Francis "has never mentioned [indulgences]"; and "that's not where we are at the moment". The implication of the interview appeared to be that Indulgences are a load of old rubbish which Sensible Pope Francis is burying by very studiously not mentioning. So what is the truth of the matter?

"This practice [gaining indulgences] will acquire an even more important meaning [magnum pondus] in the Holy Year of Mercy." This is from a paragraph in the Bull of Indiction, in which the Roman Pontiff goes on to commend the practice. Furthermore, in a Letter dated 1 September 2015, our Holy Father set out at length the methods of securing Indulgences during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And, in his Bull, he carefully explained their purpose: that Absolution remits sin, but "the sin leaves a negative effect [contradictionem]". An indulgence "frees us from even the residue [vestigia] left by the consequences of sin".

I fail to see why this weekly BBC programme, its 'flagship' religious slot, should be left in the hands of Stourton, a lapsed Catholic who, like so many of his type, seems to me to be very far from being neutral with regard to the religion which he once professed. And why, if it must give space to someone like Walsh, the Beeb doesn't balance him with somebody who will defend the Church, even if only by giving accurate information about her.

I thought 'balance' was supposed to be one of the BBC rules.


Parochus said...

This is not the first time Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of and granted indulgences. He did so for those participating in World Youth Day in Brazil. Perhaps our two commentators do not share the Holy Father's belief in God's mercy.

Andreas Meszaros said...

When there is no balance; no “aequitas”, we wind up with “iniquitas”. Sad!

philipjohnson said...

Fr.The BBC is venomous with regards to Catholicism-especially the Traditional True types.They only deal with lapsed or heretical ones like Stourton!God Bless.

Philippe Martin said...

By 'abolished' do you mean that all the previous periods of time linked to prayers and other deeds and acts have been abrogated and that they are not applicable anymore? Sounds very radical, doesn't it?

Liam Ronan said...

I shall be careful here, Father, as I have read ('read', mind you) that Pope Francis subscribes to an opinion that souls of the wicked are not damned, but annihilated. I think a fair reading of his many other statements would lead one to intuit he does not subscribe to any punishment for other souls, i.e. Purgatory, for which an indulgence for the remission of unexpiated sins might be needed.

He has his own idiosyncratic ideas about what constitutes 'sin'. Addressing indulgences full-on might be something which undercuts certain elements of Pope Francis' personal beliefs.

This is merely my opinion but how much poorer are the Poor Souls now, and we ourselves who hope for remission of the temporal punishment our own sins deserve, if the most desperate and helpless of our fellows must languish in torment were the theology of indulgences misrepresented to the Faithful?

By the way, and entirely as an aside, I see that the 1989 Walt Disney film "All Dogs Go to Heaven" is now available on DVD. Heart-warming thought and film.

UnanimousConsent said...

Meanwhile... Sandro Magister's most of the event article reinforces what these two are saying.... Albeit from a differing perspective.

Matthew Roth said...

My understanding is that the time periods were to show the time period necessary, in the eyes of the church, to merit the same remission of sin and its effects. At any rate, the time periods have no effect on God, who applies the merits to the deceased since the church, having power of the keys only over the living, reaches into the treasury of merit and asks God to apply it as he sees fit for souls in purgatory.

Sixupman said...

Stourton:- Benedictine educated I think!

Highland Cathedral said...

Expecting the BBC to be reasonable and balanced when matters relating to the Catholic Church are discussed is totally unrealistic. The final response I got (after many attempts to get a reasonable response from them) when I objected to John Humphrys (Today programme) saying that the terms ‘priest’ and ‘paedophile’ were almost synonymous was that it was perfectly acceptable for Humphrys to make that comment as listeners would not be misled by it. Imagine a BBC presenter saying that the terms ‘Moslem’ and ‘terrorist’ were almost synonymous and their response to him doing so. ‘Quite acceptable, blah, blah, blah..’ I don’t think so.
Here in Scotland we have the BBC deciding to devote its huge resources to a ‘major’ investigation of alleged abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey in the 1990s. Never mind that there were other stories such as
Scotland to ban smoking in cars with children
Scottish budget 2016/17: John Swinney defends council budget cuts
Contaminated blood: Victims 'should have compensation doubled'
Martin Carroll murdered Stephen Gannon after dog row
on the same day but the BBC decided that the most important story that day was the decision of the authorities in Australia to extradite a former monk to the UK in connection with the Fort Augustus allegations.

Michael Leahy said...

Mr Ronan, if I may? Was that "annihilation" comment not a hearsay one courtesy of some atheist? If so, hardly a cast-iron source?

GOR said...

It is a constant source of regret and pain to me that we have so short-changed the Holy Souls in Purgatory since Vatican II. In my youth we were taught to avail of every
opportunity to pray and gain indulgences for them. It was an act of charity, certainly. But, conscious of our own future needs, it had the aura of “do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you” and “laying up treasure in Heaven”.

We understood the Communion of Saints and the Mystical Body of Christ and what our
part and obligations were in that respect. Funerals were to pray for the repose of souls, not to ‘celebrate the [evanescent] life’ of the departed.

Prayers don’t end at the graveside, but continue as long as we live – mindful that what we are now they once were, and what they are now, we most likely will be one day….

Liam Ronan said...

@ Michael Leahy,

Yes, and I thought I had drawn the distinction in respect of the evidentiary weight of the source, i.e. I noted I 'read' it somewhere. Notwithstanding, in reaching my own personal conclusion, I also weighed its overall probative value in light of the totality of other facts and known utterances of Pope Francis which are of public record.

I did take into account that La Repubblica's Eugenio Scalfari is a journalist not-infrequently availed of by Pope Francis and a man both notoriously and repeatedly inclined to publish and attribute the content of his private conversations, conversations whose published content is rarely if ever refuted by Pope Francis himself.

Pope Francis would not and has not demeaned this atheistic friend's integrity with innuendos about his journalistic credibility. As I understand, La Repubblica is Pope Francis' newspaper of choice.

Let us not cast aspersions on Mr. Scalfari, Mr. Leahy. If a Samaritan woman who had had five husbands and was openly living with another man (hardly a cast iron source) could give truthful witness, i.e.

"Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done..." John 4:29

then why not an atheist?


JARay said...

I am an Australian and I live in Australia. I know nothing about our authorities agreeing to extradite a former monk to the UK on sexual charges. Maybe only the BBc is privy to this matter. However, I can state, with some authority (read The Australian newspaper online) that there are very many Australians who object to the lack of balance in the reports from "our" ABC. We have just had the report that a new Head of the ABC has been appointed and she is working at present in Singapore for Google. Many of the same objectors at the ABC's lack of balance in its programming and reporting, are not convinced that this new appointment will make any difference to the entrenched anti-Catholic ethos in the ABC.

Patrick said...

I'm afraid the Sunday programme has form with its incestuous relationship with that dreadful magazine. I was among a number of people who complained about this two or three years ago and the BBC did seem to take it seriously at the time; I was contacted by a BBC producer. But it seems they have gone back to their old ways.

The BBC has virtually abandoned serious religious broadcasting. One of the few supposedly religious programmes left, the Sunday programme is basically an anti-religious programme, focusing largely on the "problems" of religion. It is hostile to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, while notoriously soft on Islam. In the case of Catholic issues, it fields people from the theological far "left" to "defend" the Faith. Balance, or even basic fairness when dealing with religious issues, is something the BBC abandoned long ago.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Since the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass we have not said the final prayers at the end of Mass which had 10 years indulgence attached to them by Pope Leo XIII. Just work that one out over some 50 years! Not only may we be going to suffer longer in Purgatory but the omission of those prayers and the last Gospel (surely the most beautiful text ever written) have increased the evil and the suffering in this world. Thanks to whoever.

B flat said...

Dear Father,
Your stamina is amazing!
I had to give up listening to the Sunday programme several years ago because, it was increasingly frequently, and finally always, upsetting my peace of mind just as I was preparing physically to go to Divine Service. I find continuous silent prayer much better while dressing in the early morning.

Regarding fairness, and lack of bias in the BBC, my own experience together with this example you give, show quite incontrovertibly that the BBC Governors and executive authorities, don't give a fig for any offense, hurt or distress they may cause Christians. They may be like the High Court judge, Sir John Leonard, sentencing in the notorious Ealing Vicarage rape case in 1986. Knowing that Christians are commanded to love and forgive their enemies, perhaps the BBC has decided along with him that 'Because I have been told the trauma suffered by the victim was not so great I shall take a lenient course with you.'

How I wish I really understood how one is to embody the Sermon on the Mount in Christian public life! In one's private life, yes; in the Family, yes. But ecumenism, and multiculuralism militate against Christ and His teaching, just as foreign relations always did for Christendom. War is inevitable when the aggressor is emboldened by our meekness, unless we abandon any defence of our corporate existence. I wonder if this is a paradox that Chesterton resolved? I would be so glad to know the answer even before I die.

Anonymous said...

@B Flat: you said "How I wish I really understood how one is to embody the Sermon on the Mount in Christian public life!...But ecumenism, and multiculuralism militate against Christ and His teaching, just as foreign relations always did for Christendom. War is inevitable when the aggressor is emboldened by our meekness, unless we abandon any defence of our corporate existence."

I have much the same question... especially about ecumenism and multiculturalism. Regarding the latter, I think we need to have a good definition of multiculturalism...after all, in a way the Catholic Church is multicultural when talking about the different cultures ...Indian, African, Oriental, European... yet they are "unicultural" as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Which is why I am so against a "synodal" church, which will reflect with greater emphasis the various cultures, rather than the 'uniculture' of the Magisterium of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.(If I may be excused/forgiven for saying Catholicism is a culture')

Regarding the embodiment of the Sermon of the Mount, in a situation where the aggressor is emboldened by meekness, is it not possible to be a "meek soldier" - where one can be personally meek, but not "abandon any the defence of our corporate existence". 'Suicide' after all is contrary to Church teaching, which is what abandoning our defence would be.

Catherine said...

I fear that, to the BBC mindset, the “balance” rule does not apply when you are discussing anything so obviously absurd as Catholic teaching. It won’t change because all BBC journalists (roughly speaking) think in the same way. They believe that to think in any other way is not open and fair-minded.

annmarie said...

Quite recently, they referred to Hans Kung as a Catholic theologian. They are a bit behind the times. His licence to teach was revoked in 1979! (Yes, that far back!)

Highland Cathedral said...

I have no wish to give any credence to the idea that the BBC is in any way impartial but Mr Stourton seems to have slipped up on one occasion: