Educated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church, claims bishop
The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said.
While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a "dark side, due to original sin".
Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.
Bishop O'Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society".
"What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives," he said.
"However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.
"Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.
"It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior."
The bishop said that influential Catholics had set a bad example and corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university.
"This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even-greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor," he said. "For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church."
Although the influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Eastern Europe has buoyed Mass attendance in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of indigenous, working-class Catholics.
The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue knows that his faith and his church are becoming more and more irrelevant, with it's inability to meaningfully address the problems of modern society.
Educated people have questions, questions that the dogma and doctrine of the church cannot sufficiently answer. They question why the eating of an apple, 6000 years ago should condemn them to a life of guilt and self-flagellation. Why shouldn't they take advantage of the education they've been given and procure for themselves a better life? If this is hedonism, selfishness and egocentricity, then I'm all for it.
What the The Rt Rev O'Donoghue is really complaining about is that people no longer feel the need to get their enrichment from the church, and because of this, don't feel the need to support an organisation that in effect gives them nothing but a sense of shame and worthlessness for something they didn't do and had no hand in (i.e. original sin and the crucifixion).
Human endeavour has a dark side because we are human, with human desires, needs and ambitions, not because of some twisted idea that we are all guilty before we are even born, and scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism are good things if they allow people to think rationally about the world around them.