Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bishop Kieran Conry and the Recovery of Tradition

I`m surprised no-one seems to have picked up on a story in the current issue of the Tablet entitled `Bring Back Friday Fasting, says Bishop Conry.`
Apparently the bishop of Arundel and Brighton is keen for Catholics to return to this ancient Catholic practice. I`m so glad to hear it. He is reported as saying that `the practice would strengthen Catholic identity`. I couldn`t agree more. Apparently he was going to bring it up for discussion at the recent meeting of the bishops.
The bishop is quoted as saying: " This was one of the most obvious signs of Catholic identity apart from going to Mass. It determined the diet in places like prison and hospital and was something Catholics were instinctively conscious of: we knew that we couldn`t have meat lie everybody else and it was a source of pride- it marked us out as different"
The Tablet comments that while it was discussed at the bishops` meeting no announcement was made but that an announcement on penance would be made at Lent.
Eamon Duffy was campaigning for this a few years ago. I see this as a very hopeful sign given the reasoning behind the proposal. A strong sense of Catholic identity is something that has been almost completely lost in the years since the Council. Let`s hope we hear more about this.

10 comments:

Left-Footer said...

Very welcome news, as is anything positive and sensible which would strengthen our Catholic identity.

Jews and Muslims have circumcision, Jews the yarmulka/e, and we have nothing that marks us out.

The more demanding the religion, the more devoted, and maybe devout, its believers seem. As the perceived doctrines of the Catholic Church have become more flipsy-flopsy, so have many Catholics fallen away.

Patricius said...

Surely he means "abstinence"

Fr Michael Brown said...

Patricius, I`m sure he does.

Em said...

This is all news to me. I wasn't aware that Friday abstinence had gone out of the window anyway. When did that happen? About the same time as people seemed to randomly stop fasting before receiving communion?

Fr Michael Brown said...

Em, you are right. Friday penance is still obligatory according to the 1983 code. It`s just been ignored.

Anagnostis said...

I agree that the recovery of a meaningful asceticism in the west is the sine qua non of recovery, but Bishop Conry's arguments for fasting are among the very worst you can possibly make. Tribal "Identity" and "pride" have nothing whatever to do with a genuinely Christian asceticism. Those are not the reasons why anyone should fast. Fasting for those reasons is absolutely valueless, and probably sinful.

Someone should buy him a copy of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, or at least refer him to Matthew 6.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anagnostis, I share your concern about the talk of pride and the context of Matthew 6 but I don`t think bishop Conry means it that way. I also agree that such practices should be followed primarily because they are good in themselves but a stronger sense of identity is surely a product of this. I am just amazed at an English bishop recommending any practice which has the result of saying taaht there is something special about being a Catholic since for all my adult life we have been encouraged to play down our differences and lose a strong sense of Catholic identity

Anagnostis said...

Thank you, Father - I know what you mean; it was the startling headline that drew me to the post!

Left Footer - it's said that by the time of Diocletian the persecutions were not well received among the Roman people, who had learned to love and respect their Christian neighbours; not because they wore funny clothes (they didn't) or because they fasted (and they did, with a severity that seems impossible to us nowadays); their badge of "otherness" was "circumcision of the heart" expressed in repentance before all and for all, and love of the enemy. These are the only "distinguishing marks" we can, or should, ever aspire to.

Et Expecto said...

I think that this suggestion from Bishop Conry is related to one expressed by Archbishop Nichols. He suggested recently that we should publicly show our Catholicism by, for example, making the sign of the cross when passing churches.

It occurred to me, and this applies especially to Bishop Conry, that a good first step woukld be for the clergy to wear clerical dress whenever they are seen in public.

Richard S Rainbow said...

My latest posting, destined for this thread, somehow found its way onto the Immaculate Conception posting which is probably why 1569 and others have not so far commented on the contents. My apologies for inadvertently denying them the opportunity!