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This “heresy” of omission has been a key factor to newchurch success over many years. Not least because it is also prevalent in many supposedly orthodox parishes where it dulls the Catholic mind and breeds a docile and malleable faith, tailor-made for the temptations of the comfortable new church.

As with catechetics, however, whenever Father ac­tually did venture into the field of Catholic theology he usually turned it upside down. Marj Ride recalled one such occasion on 7 January 1990, the Feast of the Epiphany, when Father stated during the course of his homily: “Of course Mary gave up her virginity to become the Mother of God.”

Yesterday’s Men

Homily-taping soon became the order of the day, as con­cerned counter-revolutionaries carried cassette-recorders into the parish hall to capture some of the more inane and outrageous preaching at Sunday Mass. It sometimes brought a rebuke from the priests followed by an attempted, garbled retraction/denial of something they had definitely said.

On one occasion, during a Homily on 27 January 1990, Father told the congregation that the Beatitudes had superseded the Ten Commandments. Within a few weeks he was trying to extricate himself, all the while ignoring the Com­mandments themselves, as if they were self-evident, and stressing “conscience” and “love” without regard to such factors as the Magisterium or the loving prohibitions encompassed within each “Thou shalt not”. By the time he had finished, the newchurch commandment that all sermons be comfortably fuzzy and “grey” had been fulfilled. The transcript tells the tale:

Statement Made During a Homily: 27/1/90:

We can sometimes think our Law is still the Ten Command­ments, but our Law is no longer the Ten Commandments. They were superseded by the Beatitudes and by the law of love Jesus gave us. The Ten Commandments are enshrined in the law of our land. The Beatitudes are enshrined in the hearts of the people who believe in Jesus Christ

Statement Made During Homily: 10/02/90:‑

One of the things that have been said about me over the last few weeks, is that I said somewhere or somehow — that the old law was no more. And somehow somebody said that it was true, that I said the Ten Commandments don’t matter anymore. That’s not quite true now.

What sums up the Ten Commandments is to fulfill and com­plete their purpose, is the law of love. “Love one another as I have loved you”. If you do that you will do the Ten Commandments and more.

The Ten Commandments have been enshrined in the law of our land, Judaeo-Christian law basically. So if you follow the Ten Commandments you won’t go to gail, you live as a good person, you might believe in God.

What is important ultimately [is that] we look at the two and compare the law of love which fulfills and completes the Ten Commandments enshrined in the law of our land. Then what we as Christian people, what we are interested in is the law which inspires us to place some one else before us, and ourselves second. It is ourselves in service for love of each other. Now the law of our land won’t tell you to do that, but the Christian law of love that Jesus gave us will tell you to do that.

…Reflect on the importance of the law. What is our motiva­tion for living out our Christian life? With the observance of the law here at the Consecration? Or is it our law of love, which is the concrete circumstances of our day [and] must reflect in the way we treat each other.

Let that be our drive, let that be the thing that informs our conscience.

Was Father downplaying the significance of the Consecration and Holy Mass, suggesting that it can tell us nothing of love but only of law? Did he mean that the “concrete circumstances of our day” should inform our consciences over and above the teachings of the Church? Was he intimating that “submission of intellect and will” as required under Canon 752 of Church law is superseded by the admission of experience and feelings?