Heresy in Ireland

A priest belonging to the Anglican Church in Ireland has been accused of heresy, an expression much used by the Inquisition during the Middle Ages. These days, this brings up the issue of freedom of expression.

St. Thomas of Aquino refers to heresy as “a type of infidelity in men who having professed their faith in Christ, corrupt the dogmas. True Christian faith is about following the teachings of Christ voluntarily”. He describes two types of heresy: “One, where people refuse to believe in Christ, such as is the case with the infidel, the pagans and the Jews. The other is restricting the belief in certain doctrines of Christ, selecting them and modifying them at will”.

The priest in question, father Furlong of the parish of Clonmacnoise, does not deny that he believes in Christ, but states openly that Jesus is not a mediator between Heaven and Earth and that he did not die to save humanity. He made these statements in an article on a website last year and his parishioners immediately complained.

Father Furlong claims that he has done nothing wrong, since what he claims is naturally the truth. However, his claims put in question a basic dogma of the Christian faith, namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and his wording leaves no doubt.

Beginning with the inflammatory title of the article, “A Belief with Fundamental Flaws”, father Furlong goes on to claim that the death of Jesus had nothing divine “death is a natural process and not a punishment against sin” and that “an innocent person should no receive the punishment of blame” and describes Jesus Christ as “equivocal, deceived”, who was “neither super-human nor divine”.

As the case is presented before the General Synod of the Anglican Church, father Furlong’s supporters claim that the beliefs are not original, since these issues have been raised before and that his attack is against the historical image of Jesus Christ, not the faith in Christ.

Both Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have expressed their shock at this unorthodox scientific examination of religion professed by a priest, both groups believing that any deviation from religious dogma is the tip of the iceberg.

On the other hand, there are those who defend that the real issues today are not details of doctrine but wider issues, such as the sexual abuse of minors by priests in cases covered up by the church hierarchy.


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