Saturday, 12 February 2011

With hindsight


In the last post I mentioned a Catechetical College which had formerly existed in London called Corpus Christi College. This was the national catechetical centre set up by Cardinal Heenan in the late sixties and which he closed in 1975. The college was in the former Convent of the nuns of Our Lady of Sion (pictured above), on the corner of Chepstow Villas and Denbigh Road in Notting Hill near Paddington Station. The building is now divided into residential flats.
The first director of the college, Fr Hubert Richards, together with Fr Peter de Rosa and others set about producing a new catechesis and training others in its vision and method. Indeed, at the time, representatives from every Catholic school in the land were obliged to attend courses here. By 1971 it became clear that the college was a centre of heresy and a new director was appointed to re-align the college, Fr Michael Keegan, who also oversaw the closure of the college in 1975. But the damage had already been done. The original directorate and staff of the college had successfully purveyed within the Catholic Church in the UK their own new religion. With hindsight we can see that this new religion is actually a form of Pelagianism - the doctrine that human beings do not need grace in order to be saved, they can achieve salvation on their own. The new religion of Richards, de Rosa and others was spread, not so much through lay teachers but through religious and priests who thronged to Corpus Christi College to imbibe its noxious teachings. Most priests and religious who attended courses at the college returned to their posts with totally wacky ideas and many abandoned their vocations. I remember the lay RE teacher who took the class that I was in at St Michael's College in Leeds, teaching us in 1973 (I was 12/13 years old at the time) that Jesus was not God but was given a mission from God at his baptism in the Jordan. He also taught us, that same year, about all the different methods of contraception and how to put on a condom. This man, who went on to become the Head of RE at another High School in the Leeds Diocese, was for many decades paid an excellent salary in order to teach the Catholic Faith. I remember thinking, as he was speaking to us in the class, that this man was "off his rocker". We have been duped!
In the mid-nineties, Claire Richards, ex-nun and wife of the ex-priest Hubert Richards, published the heretical school RE curriculum "Roman Catholic Christianity". This book, although officially discredited, may still be in use in some Catholic schools.
There are many agents of Corpus Christi College still around in the UK today, and you will find signs of of its influence in these ways (amongst others):
1. Any explicit or implicit diminishing of the nature or mission of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind.
2. Any explicit or implicit diminishing of or undermining of the nature and mission of the Church, the Pope or the Priesthood.
3. Refering to the Teaching of the Church as "Church or Vatican policy", disassociating it from the Gospel and from truth.
4. Speaking of the Christian Life in terms of those things that Catholics "do", disassociating Catholicism from the Mystery of Christ.
5. Moralising instead of showing how the Moral Life of Catholics flows from the Mystery of Christ.
6. Placing the emphasis on social issues and campaigns.
How did the phenomenon of Corpus Christi College come about? I'm not going to go into the history of how the College came about; others have written about that. But is does seem to me, looking back, that after the Second Vatican Council was over, those who did have a vision were precisely those who were wanting to change the Catholic Faith into something else. And that they were lacking who had real vision for planting and nurturing the Catholic Faith in the changing world of the 60s and 70s. But what is absolutely clear is that both our present Holy Father and his predecessor are men of great vision, and that we need many others, at every level in the Church today, to have a genuine vision for living and handing on the Faith.

2 comments:

Dorothy said...

Many thanks, Father, for this excellent post.

Norah said...

I have said for a long time that we must root out the lecturers who are filling the heads of would-be teachers with exactly what you have outlined. These would-be teachers go on to fill the heads of their students with the heterodoxy they were taught and on it goes. Why don't the bishops exercise more due dilligence and perhaps save something from the wreckage that is Catholic religious education in Australia?