UK Catholics: get your “faith card” now!

February 3, 2012 • 12:40 pm

This is true, because it’s straight from the horse’s mouth—the equid being Vatican Radio.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales is launching a new program that will offer a ‘Faith Card’ to the faithful, as a reminder that all the baptised are invited to know and share their faith. One million cards will be made available to all twenty-four Catholic dioceses in England and Wales, including the Bishopric of the Forces and the Ordinariate.

The credit-card-size resource features on one side, a space for the owner to sign, a clear statement that the carrier is a Catholic and a list of six things that Catholics are called to do. There is also a sentence that reads: “In the event of an emergency, please call a Catholic priest.” The other side of the card has a quote from the recently beatified Blessed John Henry Newman, focusing on the call to serve and affirming that everyone has a mission.

“It’s an idea that we had to remind people that they are Catholic,” said Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, the Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis that is spearheading the initiative. “We hope that people will have a better sense of their Catholic identity.”

Here it is!

To me this card bespeaks the desperation of the Catholic Church as they see their adherents slipping away.

I love the last line: “In the event of an emergency please contact a Catholic priest.”  As reader Sigmund wrote when sending me this link, “What sort of emergency would that be? Making a movie about an exorcism when on a short time constraint and your main actor fails to turn up?”

Why you do this to me, Dimmy?

121 thoughts on “UK Catholics: get your “faith card” now!

  1. As a former Catholic, I can’t help but notice that the items that Jesus claimed as most important and allegedly offered parables on are tuck at numbers 4, 5 and 6 in this list. Proselytising is apparently first, now — i.e., Talk first, act later. Awesome.

    1. It’s funny to me that the directives on the card boil down to:

      * Bring a friend to church
      * Think about church more often
      * Make sure you come to church
      * Be good to each other
      * Don’t be a waste of space
      * No, seriously, be good to each other (or maybe “don’t be a dick”)

      The ordering is quite important – the focus is on the church and the “be excellent to each other” parts are secondary.

      It almost smells like multi-level marketing, where the focus is first on finding other people to join the group, then on making sure you meet your quotas, and then, as an afterthought, a few blurbs about how great the product is.

      1. It’s a business and has been a very profitable one! Run by a bunch of cynical opportunists. I often wonder, if subjected to a battery of polygraph tests on their “faith” how many of that number would fail…?
        Love to know if other readers agree with me!

          1. Oh yes, except for the polygraph part. Polygraphs are the equivalent of Ouija boards. There is no evidence that they work, except in the case when the interrogator manages to extract a truthful confession with what amounts to a bluff.

    2. It thought that the first thing to do was to abandon your family and then give all you own to the poor. I guess catholics prefer do what the church says rather than what Jesus said.

    3. It may not be in the Beatitudes, but I seem to recall there being a Great Commission to the bring the Gospel to the Gentiles when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost and made them all speak in tongues.

      And Jesus did tell his disciples to pray – in private.

  2. Does it have a chip or magnetic strip that allows you to open the gate to heaven? I can imagine that St. Peter is getting a overworked.

    But besides heaven entering the computer age, Catholic ID’s exist in Italy. The one a saw was however not a smartcard.

        1. Interestingly enough, I used the Sandusky case recently to make a point in our favor on another blog. THe article was arguing, in part, that morality is an absolute and not subject to change.

          I pointed out that in the 1890s, the age of consent in most US states was 12 (it was 7 in Delaware as late as 1897). Therefore, if someone had been caught doing in 1890 what Sandusky was accused of doing, the focus of the outrage would not have been the ages of the boys but the fact that they were boys. Today, however, with the higher ages of consent in play, the moral outrage is fixed upon the ages of the victims, not the homosexuality.

          1. And if you cheer for the Nittany Lions.
            That is interesting, though – an excellent point, I might add.

            That’s really quite good. I’m involved with a Christian fundamentalist society, and I’m always arguing against their claim of a fundamental nature of decreed/created morality.

            They’re not to impressed with my *spirituality* anyways, I can only imagine the sour stares I will get if I use your example. I don’t know if I can ever repay you!

            1. If you want the figures, start by going to the Wikipedia article on age of consent”. If you want to repay me, just let me know what kind of reaction you get. I did a fair amount of research when some silly twit posted in a comment somewhere that Shakespeare’s Romeo was a pedophile because Juliet was only thirteen, and then this other posting came along. Oh, and since I was typing from memory, I was a little off on the dates but not enough to matter.

  3. Interesting. 4,5,and 6 were emphasized a lot in my Catholic upbringing, especially by the nuns who taught in my Catholic schools; 2 was just sort of a given — didn’t everybody chat with God? And 3 was what got you out of bed on Sundays (or occupied your Saturday evenings).

    But proselytizing was never encouraged. Mind you, this was all back in the ’60s and ’70s; perhaps the church has been taking lessons from the Evangelical Protestants.

    1. (1) Be good to each other
      (2) Don’t be a waste of space
      (3) Don’t be a dick
      (4) Think
      (5) Enjoy your Sunday – watch football in your underwear if you’d like.
      (6) Don’t be stupid, only believe stuff if there’s a good reason to.

  4. I have relatives who are Catholic, and in the last year or two there has been a noticeable uptick in special education classes in Catholic dogma, mid-week church meetings to re-assert Catholic doctrine, etc. Yeah, they’re scared.

  5. The Vatican needs a new marketing team. You’d think they’d at least print the Nicene Creed on the back. If they’re down to listing 6 generic things that apply to just about every Christian on Earth, then they’ve pretty much given up.

    Someone in the UK needs to take a picture of this card sitting in a wallet… next to a condom.

  6. Oh, this has train wreck (for the church) written all over it. What happens when a card-carrying gay catholic shows up at an ultraconservative service? They going to turn him away? But he’s a card-carrying catholic! And I don’t see anything on the card about denying anyone entry!

    Pretty soon the same church that issues it is going to have to come out with one of two statements: either “this card means nothing, and can be ignored by any priest,” or “not all catholics can have our card, only [our preferred group] gets the card.”

    1. That’s not the Catholic way of doing things. Ideally they would like to claim that everyone is a member of their church. Officially there are only two ways of leaving. One is to be excommunicated, a very rare event indeed. The other is to die and go to Hell.

        1. There was a case recently where a guy in his 70s took the Catholic Church to court for not letting him leave in defiance of French law, which stipulates that no civil organisation can prevent members from leaving. The court found in his favour but I think the Church is appealing; they have already started talking about “persecution”.

          1. ‘took them to court for not letting him leave’. Like, how would they do that? Chain him to the altar or what? Seems to me if he says “I’m not Catholic any more” and refuses to go to church again, he’s left, whatever they try to say about it?

            1. Have you got your ex-Mormonism written on to your genealogical records under Area 51 or whereever it is they keep them? If not, isn’t there a risk they’ll “forget” and re-Mormonize you?

        2. There’s a whole procedure to getting yourself removed from the roles. You need to contact the last church you attended and formally ask them to do this otherwise they still count you in their figures. It can be tricky but there are websites offering help.

          1. Go to mormon HQ in Salt Lake City and heckle the membership coordinator until he agrees to do the paperwork if you give him a signed statement.

  7. If you consencrate a woman priest then both you and the consecrated woman are automatically excommunicated!
    I’ve tried this already by declaring Denyse buy-my-book O’Leary to be a woman priest.

  8. lolz. In my local catholic church that my family attends, some parts of the mass have been changed. Now there is a part of the sermon when you have to hit your chest with your hands 3 times and proclaim that it is your fault.

    lolz. It’s pretty awesome!

    1. Actually, that’s a revival of an old practice from the Tridentine mass days. Ever heard of the phrase “mea culpa“? That’s where it’s from.

      1. In the Tridentine mass it’s not in the sermon but at the end of a prayer called the Confeteor in which you confess you have sinned in thought, word and deed. You “strike your breast three times” to the words:

        mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

        When the mass was in Latin this stuff was just a meaningless ritual, but when it is in English it it has a degree of hilarity about it.

        1. I’m not so sure about that. I was raised Catholic and am old enough to remember the Latin masses, but the meaning of those words were explained to all of us from a very, very early age. I don’t think there was anyone in the paris who didn’t know the meaning of “mea culpa” – not only that, but at one time the phrase had a certain currency even outside Catholic circles.

          1. The translation we were fed was, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. It’s never god’s fault.I guess that’s where George Lucas got General Grievous from.

  9. Poaching Anglican clergy, now this silly ploy? Pathetic! For better or for worse, they recognize their desperate state. Next up, secret decoder rings!

  10. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich must have told their Bishops that if ID cards are good enough for voting, they’re good enough for the church. Someone tell the millenial fundies that this is the first step towards branding everyone with the mark of the beast.

  11. So if I come across a CCC (card carrying catholic) having a heart attack should I call an an ambulance or a priest?

    What about one getting mugged? Cop or prelate?

    House on fire, firefighter or monsignor?

  12. The only ’emergency’ I can think of that would require a Catholic priest would be if you had too many choirboys to molest all by yourself…

    1. I grew up Catholic and was an altar boy for many years, but not a single priest laid a finger (or any other body part) on me. What’s the matter guys? Wasn’t I good enough for you?

        1. I see you are still coherent, good!

          Do sign on this dotted line so that the church can handle your remaining worldly goods, er umm, affairs for you.


          Yes, that’s got it then, you may now go to hell.

      1. As a very young teenager I joined a seminary to start my training for the catholic priesthood. I lived a cloistered life for years among numerous priests and lay brothers and not one of them ever touched me. At the time I was not surprised – it was the 1950’s and paedophilia was just another Latin word, the meaning of which I did not have a clue.

        When I left the seminary at about 16 and returned to normal life, one of the things I did was join a large amateur theatre group. I very quickly learned that I was indeed a pretty (and extremely naive) young man as I was pursued by the old and not so old queens who were so much part of the group.

        Many years later, having renounced my catholicism and embraced atheism and faced with the horrific activities of so many catholic priests and brothers, I would feel so glad and relieved that I had chosen to leave the seminary when I did. I could only imagine what it would be like to be a fair dinkum priest, who was not a child abuser and still una voidably be tarred with the paedophile brush.

        Of course, the other thing I wondered was whether my situation was unique, or was I simply an ugly child?


        1. “paedophilia was just another Latin word, the meaning of which I did not have a clue.” Clearly not, since it’s Greek. If it were Latin, could it mean daughter’s feet?

          1. Thank you for the correction. Although we did study ancient Greek, needless to say pedophilia was not in our vocabulary in either Greek or Latin – we were “protected” from such nasties to preserve our purity.

            1. OK, a totally irrelevant and personal rant here.

              I think it’s just plain wrong to co-opt a perfectly good word that translates into something perfectly normal and reasonable into something that is evil.

              Pedophilia = love of children.

              I love children. I don’t want to have sex with children. That’s not “love”.

              I don’t know what word would be appropriate for sexual attraction to children, but it would not include the “philos” root.

              /end rant

        2. I know of an ex-Catholic priest in his 70s who says that as far as he knows, in his 30 years as a priest, he only ever met one paedophile and even in this case he only found out some years afterwards. However it was the paedophilia scandal that lead him to leave the priesthood and, as he put it, “set him on the road to atheism.” The fact that some priests are paedophiles in such a large organisation is not surprising. But it is a scandal is that it was covered up, excused and even worse that child abusers were transferred to posts where they could abuse some more. What is even more scandalous is that the current head of the organisation was one of the chief architects in the policies that lead to this.

          1. It also gives the lie to any claim that religion makes people behave betterthan they otherwise would. As the bumpersticker says “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” But they ignore that as soon as you lower your guard.

  13. There seems to have been some progress over the past few decades. When I was being miseducated by Jesuit priests in a Catholic grammar school in the 1960s, there weren’t just six things that Catholics had to do, but hundreds of them.

    The most important of all of course, was “Do whatever Mother Church tells you. Obey the Vatican at all times, because we have the hot line to God”.

    The most remarkable thing about this card is that it says nothing about sex. I can well remember our Religious Education jesuit giving us a solemn list of “thou shalt nots” – sins that, if you committed them, earned you a ticket to ternal damnation.

    Sex before marriage? – mortal sin, go to hell. Sex with somebody else’s wife or husband? – mortal sin, go to hell. Masturbation? – mortal sin, go to hell. Homosexuality? – don’t even think about it!

    Other dreadful offences which would deliver you to the demons included failure to attend mass on Sunday, and failure to take the eucharist at least once a year.

    Has the Catholic Church really abandoned this punitive mould – or is the card just a desperate bit of public relations in an increasingly secular society where the vast majority of people can no longer be frightened by tales of hellfire?

    1. And don’t forget not eating meat on Fridays, although this was rescinded in the later 60’s. Before seeing the light, I used to wonder what happened to those Catholics who deliberately ate meat on a Friday before the rule change, since a mortal sin meant one was sent to hell “whence there is no redemption”.

      1. There was a classic New Yorker cartoon soon after the rule change;-
        Scene: Hell
        Demon (to the Devil): Hey Boss, what are we going to do with all the people who ate meat on Fridays?

        And don’t forget the abolition of Limbo. I guess there was a procession of angels carrying them up to Heaven – to do what?

    2. The only real changes in Catholic Doctrine in the 2Oth century seem to be the official adoption of the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin” in 1950 and the Vatican 2 declaration that non-believers don’t, after all, automatically go to Hell when they die. Everything else is just window dressing. The text on the identity card is just Orwellian doublethink.

        1. There are actually two limbos, both on the edge of Hell (“limbus” means “hem” in Classical Latin, but it is where the word “limb” comes from). There is limbus patrum, which is an official Church dogma, this is where good people who died before Christ were supposed to stay before He supposedly descended into Hell to free them. Apparently that involved quite a lot of work as He didn’t rise again ’till the third day.
          There is also limbus puerorum, where unbaptised children go, it is something that Catholics are “permitted to believe” but has never been an official Church dogma. What the pope said about it is not ex-cathedra so it is not an official dogma either, it’s just his opinion. There are still bishops around who pedal this doctrine, most in the third world.

          1. In my grade school catechism classes, there was no distinction made between one limbo and another, and I don’t think most Catholics who hadn’t been to a seminary knew there was more than one, either. There’s often a wide gap between theology for the learned and catechism for the masses no matter what religion or denomination you’re talking about.

    1. Many years ago in a debate between Russell and Coplestone, Coplestone likened the 10 commandments to a university entrance exam, to which Russell responded “In that case shouldn’t the preamble say ‘Only eight to be attempted’?”

  14. Vital legal query:
    if I find a person bleeding profusely on the side of the road who, in his/her last conscious act, hands me his/her faith card and I have only one call left on my mobile/cell phone and if I call a catholic priest rather than a doctor, can I be prosecuted for failing to assist a victim?

    If not, then tha faith card is not such a bad idea.

    1. That right, a faith card should be given to each priest who abuses a little child, but will they go to their so called heaven. When you die you die, thats it, Have Faith I am right.

  15. The joy of knowing Jesus????
    I guess muslims have the joy of loving Muhammed more that their parents???

    Stupid question here. You don’t know a person in the ordinary sense, you are aquainted or familiar with them.

    E.g. I met Jerry Coyne, and he was a cool dude, I know him. But I don’t because I can only go upon his external stuff and am not a mind reader….But I am aquainted or familiar with him. (Not a true story, Dr. Coyne has standards.)

    No one alive has met Jesus, thus no one is aquainted or familiar with him. Thus no one knows him, nor has joy relating to such ‘knowledge’. Thus is it’s all mental masturbation…

  16. Surely the catholic church is round the bend. If they have no reson or logic how can they tell me and others how to live our lives.
    Religion is big business, most are in it for the money and their pension not for what they truly believe. Their god lets 20,000children die a day from poverty, priests to abuse little children.
    How can the pope sleep at night.

  17. “In the event of an emergency, please call a Catholic priest.”

    forgive me if this has been covered, but:
    1. What if you are being raped by a priest? Should you call his superior or a priest in a different diocese?
    2. Shouldn’t one call the government authorities first?… unless one is being chased by the cops, then I guess a priest might be more useful.

  18. What’s with the strange layout and grammar?

    As a Catholic I,

    am called to:


    – and all right-aligned, as if it was translated from the Hebrew or Arabic.

    1. Actually, the grammar is fine.

      The commas are paired for the parenthetical insertion of your name; e.g.:

      “As a Catholic I, Ant, am called to:”

      (Since, apparently, I still am.)

      Eliding that:

      “As a Catholic I am called to:”

      I don’t see a problem with that… 

      But I’m with you on the right alignment. That’s just odd and ugly, especially as the line length varies so much.

      At least it’s not in Comic Sans… 😀


    1. I’m not sure all this applies to secularists — you can have theistic secularists too!

      I definitely wouldn’t use the humanist icon either. Maybe use the “Gnu A”.

      Should incompetence be denounced?


      1. Actually, yes, I think incompetence should be denounced. In the professions, incompetence is a matter for disciplinary action. Elsewhere it hasn’t as grievous a worst-case outcome, but it still erodes the overall performance of the community/society. Note, I take incompetence as something which the incompetent is aware of. That is, one knows if one is incompetent.

              1. Ah. Well, let’s say there could be some discussion of the limits by which a term in defined, and a range of possible actions that one could undertake, depending on circumstance. One size never fits all.

    2. I like it a lot! But agree that, as presented, it’s more of a humanist card than a secularist one. Which is a distinction we need to pay more attention to, IMO.

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