Friday, May 17, 2013
I encourage people to come to daily Mass, I celebrate Mass daily, I think going to Holy Communion daily is a good thing but it was not always thus.
St Pius X, that arch-innovator, not only changed the order of the sacraments placing First Confession and First Holy Communion before Confirmation but also made the daily celebration of Mass - and consequently the daily reception of Holy Communion - for priests a norm. Until then daily attendance at Mass was usual but the reception of Holy was not. There are older priests in my diocese who remember ancient priests in my diocese in the 1950s who only celebrated Mass on a Sunday, or when they were bound to do so by the Code of Canon Law because of piety not impiety, trusting in the judgement of the Church rather than their own feelings of worthiness or otherwise.
St Theresa of Lisieux was one of the few nuns in her convent who was given permission by her confessor to receive daily. Before the Reformation it was not unusual for a gap of several months to elapse between a priest's ordination and his first Mass, When some of early followers of Ignatius of the Loyola introduced the novelty in Rome of daily reception St Philip Neri introduced the (novelty) of daily Confession.
The Venetian Ambassador to Henry VIII's court remarked on the piety of the English, their attendance daily at Mass and Vespers but even so they seemed to receive Holy Communion only once a year. The Lateran Council of course had introduced the Paschal Precept of annual reception of Confession and Holy Communion but the emphasis was the reception of Holy Communion, Confession was always the preparation for Holy Communion.
I don't know how common Martin Luther's practise in his early days was (if it is correctly reported) that he would interrupt his Mass when he celebrated and go to Confession immediately before the Consecration, even if this a myth, the story illustrates that the expectation was that priest should be in a perfect state of Grace, with no attachment to sin, in order to celebrate, similarly there was the expectation that those who communicated were in a similar state.
Though the Lateran talks about an annual reception of Holy Communion: the ancient Tradition of the Church was that a once in a lifetime reception of Holy Communion was all that was necessary for salvation. In Spain until almost modern times and in the Orthodox world still, even in the Romanised Rites, Holy Communion is always giving as part of the Baptism, after Confirmation, in the case of infants. The pastoral presumption in many places is that although the child may attend the Liturgy all their life they will rarely, if ever Communicate.
Holy Communion does not "indelibly" mark the soul but initiation does, as does a single encounter with Christ in the scriptures, it is life changing.
As good and pious the practise of daily Communion is, it tends to set up a tendency where it almost becomes a necessity to have a daily "fix" to maintain a spiritual life, rather than understanding a single Communion is a life changing event. Pius X would have understood Holy Communion as signifying a state that already existed, of perfect Communion with Christ, we seem to have moved quite some distance from that and seem to be moving further away from it.
Expecting people to receive or to be able to receive daily and at every Mass has made the Church either a place for Saints - and consequently not for sinners or a place were Holy Communion is about ordinariness, and reception without thought or understanding, preparation or thanksgiving, and where attendance at Mass is meaningless without Holy Communion.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
This afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following press release:
“His Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, archbishop emeritus of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, for the same reasons he decided not to participate in the last Conclave, and in agreement with the Holy Father, will be leaving Scotland for several months for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer, and penance. Any decision regarding future arrangements for His Eminence shall be agreed with the Holy See.”It would be wonderful to think that this is last we will hear of this particular scandal and His Eminence. The problem is that Bishops' Conferences present their like for nomination as bishops. The Nuncios before Archbishop Mennini seemed to have rubber stamped the names handed to them. The sad fact is that there must be questions over those Bishops who are in place and whose nominations were endorsed by Cardinal O'Brien as well as priests and others who were promoted by him.
When one thinks about the murky character that has emerged of Drygrange when O'Brien was on the staff, the logical outcome is that one must ask questions about every bishop and priest who was associated with it.
Before the O'Brien case there was Roddy Wright the now ex-bishop of Argyle and the Isles who "eloped" with one of his mistresses.
The rather terrifying thought is that possibly Scotland is not alone in its moral turpitude, does it touch the other Episcopal Conferences in these islands and further afield?
Pope Francis has been speaking a lot about "careerism" in the Church, the O'Brien case is certainly the most blatant example but should one wonder if it is his code for a certain lifestyle? It seems significant that the involvement of His Holiness is specifically mentioned in the press release and it seems impossible to believe that the misdoings of this Cardinal were not a significant blight on, but more especially within the Conclave.
Spreading rumour and gossip is not useful but it does seem that perhaps the past routes to the Episcopacy are pretty shaky and seem to aid and abet a certain type of Bishop from a certain coterie of clergy.
In Scotland it might be sometime before new Bishops are appointed and presumably they will come from somewhere far removed from the O'Brien stable, and only after a long process of vetting, will the same process go on elsewhere?
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I had a discussion with a group of priests recently, we were talking about ageing clergy, clergy in ill health, tired clergy and ultimately parish closures. We spoke about the need for evangelisation and then realised that most parishes and diocese have no plan to evangelise, only to manage decline. Yes, we will carry on our parish catechetical programmes, doing what we have always done, the problem is that what we have always done doesn't really work. If it is done well it leads to gradual decline, if it is done badly the decline is faster.
Michael Voris in the video below talks about the lack of "supernatural faith", I am always uncomfortable with Michael's analysis, it seems so American, so easy. I don't think we need much of a plan, just a vision of Jesus, perhaps the first thing we do is admit that we really do not have any answers of ourselves, except for Jesus, that we aren't even really sure of the question either.
Pope Benedict's "plan" was "reveal the beauty of the face of Jesus", Pope Francis' "reveal the mercy of Jesus". A Greek bishop friend wanted to found a convent of nuns "to reveal Christ's love in community", many Catholic priests and bishops see the way forward as "Eucharist Adoration" (others will speak of "Eucharistic Exposition" which tends place the emphasis on him rather than on our adoring), then others will suggest Marian devotion as the path to renewal, or Lectio Divina, others will suggest the return to the Mass of Ages. Vorris himself seems to indicate the answer is a return to good old fashion catechesis and "ass kicking".
What is the heart of these ideas, and all of them seem to work (for some people), is that they turn our eyes from our own efforts to what God does, in that sense it is "supernatural faith", rather the natural faith of Baldrick's "a cunning plan".
"Cunning plans" always come to nothing, and so does mere human endeavour, what we need to realise is that God's answer to all mans ills and the Church's too, is Jesus. When we place our hope in aything else it is a 'house built on sand', it won't endure. The problem is that we need the vision of Jesus to see Jesus solving our difficulties and triumphing over them. Unless we are rooted in in him we lack supernatural faith, hope and charity too.
The Church today, especially bishops and priests need a good dose of the supernatural, our cunning plans over the last half century seem to underplay that. The vision of John XXIII for Vatican II was that it would be a supernatural experience for the bishops taking part and for the whole Church.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Is that a mantelletta?
... and look at the silver ware!
A three-year-old Colombian boy has garnered attention across the internet for a video in which he dons priestly garments and “celebrates” Mass, reciting the liturgy from memory.
Samuel Jaramillo, who is an orphan, lives with his grandmother and an aunt in the city of Medellin. When family members posted a video of the boy pretending to celebrate Mass on YouTube, it gained rapid popularity, attracting nearly 300,000 views in just over a week.
His relatives told reporters that last Christmas, Jaramillo did not ask for toys like most kids his age. Instead, he wanted “priest’s clothes” and the objects necessary to “celebrate” Mass.
He has learned to recite the Mass from memory with the corresponding pauses, intonations and gestures of an experienced priest.
It is interesting, in so far as it raises issues of how even three year olds perceive the sacred liturgy.
Deacon Nick's point is: if Mgr Stock can attend an ACTA meeting why could he not attend a PEP meeting? I am not sure what the protocol of arranging such visits is, whether ACTA invited Mgr Stock and PEP did not but as a consequence of Mgr Stock's visit ACTA now expect to meet the entire Bishops Conference, according to Deacon Nick.
Now, in the interest of balance in would seem that Mgr Stock should be available for various groups. Unlike individual Bishops who might attend specific meetings of groups like Latin Mass Society or Faith or Evangelium or even the CTS or Confraternity of Catholic Clergy or a myriad other groups, having the Secretary Secretary of the Bishop's Conference attending "in a listening capacity", not for himself but for their Lordships and apparently promising to report the proceedings to the Bishop's Conference seems to be on quite a different scale of things. Deacon Nick does not indicate who authorised such a visit but presumably in such matters, and with such a group, the General Secretary does not act on his own initiative. This was an official visit not a private or personal visit, as far as the information available, mainly from the Tablet, is concerned.
Now, it could be that ACTA, which in this country originated with a letter to the Tablet and seems have not a few Tablet connexions, has been rather clever in manipulating the media. Let us hope they have not been manipulating Mgr Stock and through him the Bishops Conference. It would be very unfortunate if the Bishop's Conference becomes seen as unbalanced and actually creating dissent. I find it quite concerning if their Lordships are more open to groups on the extreme left than the centre or right of centre groups. Members of ACTA seem to have connexions with far left groups within the Church that seem to be intent on undermining the Magisterium.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Patriarch of Moscow has just made an official visit to Beijing and was received by President, Xi Jinping.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, recently paid an important visit to China, where he met the illegitimate Catholic bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin.
So, what is gioing on?
A Roman friend says the only westerner who might be able answer this question is the Nuncio to Great Britain, the former Nuncio to Russia.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
He came down to earth without leaving the Father's presence, he ascended into Heaven without leaving us orphans.
Their Lordships movement of this Great Feast of the Ascension from the 40th to the 43rd day after Easter, has helped to focus our attention on this day itself.
Today is Thursday, the 5th day; Holy Thursday is the day of the Lord's institution of the Holy Eucharist. For us Catholics the Eucharist is His abiding Presence: This is My Body, This is My Blood. It is not absence but Presence.
That round of meals he had with his disciple and friends is replaced for the discples by this new anamensis of His death and resurrection. His Body and Blood will remain in His church until He comes again.
Today, Thursday, we remember His Ascension, the discples witness, "His being taken up", "his going from them", and yet they return to Jerusalem not sad but "rejoicing".
Why do they rejoice? Because his going is not about his departure but his being with them, "remember. I am with you always, yes, even to the consumation of the ages". Now, wherever they are, he is with them. They become His Body in the world, the Ascension is about Presence not absence.
Today Thursday, is the day of two "Presences". His Eucharist Presence, as the Body of Christ within the Community of Faith for the Church and His Ecclessial Presence as the (Mystical) Body of Christ within the world.
Is it coincidental or are we supposed to connect these two Thursdays, the Eucharist and Ascension?
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The Pro-abortion Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny is to awarded an honarary doctorate by Boston College, Ben Travolta suggests we should write, here is his excellent letter.
Dear Fr Leahy,A commenter on his blog suggests that the Nuncio to the US Archbishop Vigano should be asked if this invitation is compliant with the provisions of Ex Corde Ecclesiae ( the Apostolic Constitution governing the Catholicity of Catholic institutions of higher education and asserting the authority of the diocesan bishop in such matters).
I am a Catholic.
You can imagine my distress and confusion, therefore, to read that Boston College is honouring the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, by awarding him an honorary degree and inviting him to deliver the Commencement Address this year.
Or perhaps you cannot.
Maybe you are unaware that on April 30th, Kenny's coalition government introduced legislation with the title "The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013," which seeks to legalise abortion in Ireland on the grounds of preventing the suicide of pregnant women (despite the fact that no medical text suggests abortion as a treatment for suicidal ideation).
Maybe you are unaware that there is no gestational age limit to the measure, so that it will in practice mean abortion on demand, under threat of suicide, through all nine months of pregnancy.
Maybe you are unaware that Catholic hospitals will be forced to comply with the proposed law.
Maybe you are unaware that the bill has no conscience clause protections for physicians, nurses, and other health care workers.
Maybe you are unaware that Kenny has threatened to expel pro-life Catholic TDs from the Fine Gael parliamentary party if they refuse to vote for measure,
However, now that I have brought all this to your attention, my question is this:
Do you still think that it is consistent with the Catholic ethos of your University to honour this man, in this way, at this time?
If so, I would be keen to understand why.
If not, I would be keen to know what you are going to do about it.
I suggest others do the same. His email address is William.Leahy.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nunciature's email address is
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
The Eucharist is at the heart of the Christian polis.
Receiving the holy Eucharist signifies the recipient is in Communion with the Church and also that the Church is in Communion with recipient.
The Bishops are custodians of the Eucharist, they "bind and loose", they are the gate keepers.
In the 1970/80s many writers were saying things like "the Eucharist is not a reward for good behaviour", many Bishop spoke of the dangers of "politicising" the Eucharist, "politicising" in the sense of linking it directly to "party politics". Perhaps Bishops and the Church in general became anxious about blanket decrees of excommunication, such as post-war Italian bishops excommunicating anyone, and on the face of it everyone, who voted Communist. Many Bishops too who witnessed the great exeunt of fellow clergy and religious after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae are still wounded by the experience and fearful of repeating it..
At the same period a new sense of morality inside the Church led by moral theologians like Charles Curran and outside the Church by Existentialists and Deconstructionists made many of us rather fearful of any objective statement of morality to the point where many bishops and priests were happy to speak about secular morality and to adopt secular causes "banning the bomb", "social justice", immigration, religious freedom and plurality. These tend to be socially acceptable, they tend to be about the reform or changing of structures but to neglect anything that involves personal conversion. Essentially they are middle ground Liberal politics and concerned about "them" rather than "us".
What seems to mark this type of moral outlook is that it is "safe", non-judgemental about individuals, it is "tolerant", though mildly critical about social structures, insofar.as it takes the line of least resistance. In England it seems to characterised by Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's reception of Tony Blair into the Church without any expectation of a renunciation of views that seem out of kilter with mainstream or "institutional Catholicism", as if his personal beliefs expressed in his voting record, his views on Life issues and sexuality are of absolutely no importance. The same could be said of successor, in his failure to speak strongly and consistently about practically every issue that faces the Church in this country today.
In a similar way Cardinal Brady when asked this week about the exclusion of pro-abortion "End-a life", Prime-Minister, Kenny from Holy Communion says that the Irish bishops had not even considered the matter and that he did not want to "politicise the Eucharist", instead he wishes to strip the Eucharist of any meaning of Communion, or Morality and render it a meaningless "symbol".
What Brady seems to be suggesting is that there should be no connection with morality and belief. Pope Benedict stressed the connection between belief and worship, his attempt at liturgical reform, not so much the outward signs, the ornaments, of the liturgy but rather his insistence that the translations of the liturgy really reflected the belief of the Church. What on the face of it he only glancingly touched on was the relationship of morality to faith. This seems to be something Pope Francis seems to be addressing on a very simple level. "Stop grumbling", "care for the poor", "welcome the disabled ", "do a good turn everyday", "be kind", "be joyful", "smile" are the rather prosaic messages of Francis' daily Mass sermons but they seem to indicate an attempt to suggest that faith and morality are intimately connected.
When the Church and its clergy are identified as being far from moral, hypocrite, and as actually being evil, pedrastic, self-serving there is a serious problem. Today Christianity is no longer identified as being about goodness, or being moral. It is no longer, salt that gives savour, or leaven in the lump or light in the world. It no longer seems to have a message that changes lives or societies.
No longer does the Church teach humanity how to live. In fact, today most people do not think the Church has anything to say that is not better said by a whole variety of secular groups ranging from Environmentalist to the Gay or Feminist movements. In fact they say it a whole lot better, without the hypocrisy and kant of many ecclesiastics, take Cardinal O'Brien as an example. The reason seems to be because we have lost the connection between faith and personal morality.
In brief: What I hope this Papacy will address is the gulf between faith and goodness.
Saturday, May 04, 2013
I heard a priest in Verona asking in a sermon, "If we are not being martyred, are we being the Church?"
A weaker, poorer Church is a Church of Martyrs. No-one attacks the strong, and the wealthy can always buy off their persecutors. When we have nothing of value but Christ then we will be willing to lay down everything including our lives for him.
More than anything else martyrdom will shape the Pontificate of Pope Francis and his successors, early on in his Pontificate he will canonise the 800 Martyrs of Otranto, killed by Muslim soldiers in the 16th century.
For those outside the Church, martyrdom is a futile gesture, it is about engaging in battles and wars that we cannot win, except in the eyes of God.
In Europe and North America today it isn't rack and rope but legislation that strips us of the position in society that we once had.
It is our Bishops that will have the duty of gathering the scattered flock, and of preaching the Truth.
Today we celebrate the Martyrs of England and Wales under Henry VIII all except St John Fisher succumbed, under Elizabeth all the bishops appointed under Mary were imprisoned or exiled, the list of post-reformation martyrs has many priests and laymen, even lay women but only one Bishop
Pray for our Bishops
Friday, May 03, 2013
Simon Peter has a special role amongst the Apostles, he is charged with strengthening the brethren, with feeding the lambs and sheep. In the first ever infallible statement he speaks on behalf of the other Apostles, when they express confusion, he, speaking for them, says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". The immediate response of Jesus is "You are the Rock, on which I will build my Church".
Even so Paul is willing to challenge Peter, when he seems to fail to understand the fullness of his statement, "You are the Christ", for example when Peter seems to side with "the men from Jerusalem", the Cutters, the Judaisers, Paul corrects him, even to the point of rebuking him publicly, yet it seems that Paul always wanted to act in communion with Peter.
Historians, suggest the monarchical Epoiscopate, at a local level, seems to take some 50 years to emerge to as the norm, although the Pastoral Epistles seem suggest Timothy and, perhaps, Titus as the overseer of local Churches. The functions of those termed Bishop, Presbyter and even Deacon are unclear in the New Testament, even though as Catholics we are bound to believe they originate with the Lord.
Although I tend to argue against a "Spirit of Vatican One" understanding of the Papacy, the Synoptic Gospels, and in different way the Gospel of John, seem to have a common Petrine thread running through them, they can be described as Petrine. Apostolic Christianity in both East and West is Petrine.
The Church has the Apostles as its foundation, it is through our communion with them, or rather their successors today's Bishops, that we are united to Christ the "Cornerstone". The Dominical model of Church, is actually top down, it starts with the Peter and then the Apostles, the Pope and the Bishops, they are the ones who bring the faith, they are the ones who admit to the sacraments, we have access to Christ through them. We recognise them as authentic Apostles by their communion with the successor of Peter.
The first step towards Curial reform, which seems to be on everyone's lips, surely cannot begin without first of all recognising that the purpose of the Curia which is essentially about Communion with Peter. Its purpose is to assist Peter in being in Communion with the local Churches, in order to fulfill the role given him by Christ to "feed", to "strengthen" and to be "the centre of unity".
Communion however is a two-way street, there has to be a desire at the local level to be "in communion". Pope Francis and his various associates seem to be scattering ideas around like pixie-dust, presumably to stimulate debate and prayer but at some point the Church has to decide what it actually means to be "in communion with Peter".
The Romanitas of the Church is marked specifically by the Cardinals, whose theoretical role "Roman clergy" should be a guarantee of Communion with Peter, in practice this just doesn't happen and has to be backed up by the system on Nuncios. Perhaps rather than naming as Cardinal the Archbishop of principle city a Cardinal ought to be the bishop most skilled in holding his fellows in Communion with Peter and themselves.
The experience of the Church in may parts of the world is that the Cardinals are often set on dis-Communion with Rome, certainly that was the experience in England and Wales with Cardinal Hume.
The rather long and tedious negotiations between Benedict's Curia and groups like the SSPX, which have proved ultimately stillborn as far as unity is concerned have been very fruitful in causing us to question what exactly "Communion" is, in the same way, at the other end of the spectrum the negotiations with the "beyond Jesus" American nuns. Eventually the very simple issue of what is meant "Communion" must be answered. Reference to "aerosol" or "rosewater" Christianity might be an indication that we have to move beyond something so ill defined as self defined Catholicism.
The implied criticism by Cardinal Ouillet, who seems to be one Pope Francis' most frequent visitors, of our own Bishops recently on their Roman retreat might suggest "Communion" is more, even than a congruence of faith.
‘My brother bishops, you face many challenges in your apostolic ministry in England and Wales. Perhaps you can identify with Peter and John as they are dragged before the Sanhedrin to be pressured, threatened and even beaten to stop proclaiming the saving Truth of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you can sense viscerally the pressure to obey men rather than God, to see yourself-as a mere manager or functionary rather than a disciple and an apostle.’As Catholics we believe in salvation through faith which is "fruitful in good works", this seems to be a major theme in the Pope's teaching.
Cleaning up the Curia, isn't just about competence it must be about appointing men who are "fully converted", who are willing to be real evangelists, who are not slaves to the Law but actually have a real spirit of discipleship with fire in their bellies.
Cardinal Ouillet went on to say:
‘Pope Francis, also makes us feel uncomfortable. One thing I have noticed, even in my personal meetings with him, is that Pope Francis’ sole criterion is Jesus Christ. The Holy Father does not get distracted by peripheral considerations. He goes to the heart of things with simplicity and boldness. You recall that just two days after his election he said to the Cardinal Electors gathered in Rome: “If we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord …. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness” (Homily from Missa pro Ecclesia with the Cardinal Electors, March 14,2013).
‘Yet the verbal surgery of the Incarnate and Risen Word and of His Vicar has a point: having cut away what is not of Jesus Christ, we can encounter Him and be united with Him in love and intimate friendship. Exposing the weakness and failure is the condition of possibility for creating communion with the Risen Christ and sharing in His Easter joy.Before anything else, especially in the light of the O'Brien scandal, reform must start with the College of Cardinals.
Were those "wolves" which Pope Benedict feared most feared members of the College who should have been his closest collaborators?
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Speaking on the tragedy in Bangladesh Pope Francis said,
“That [38 Euros] is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour,” he said. “Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!I haven't found that any official site, yet.
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!
“There are many people who want to work but cannot. When a society is organised in a way that not everyone is given the chance to work, that society is not just.”
Primark, and apparently Tescos, sell clothing made in this factory, now I don't know if any of our Bishops have written to either of these companies to tell them what the Holy Father has said or to say their own bit about the scandal of British companies not caring for their producers overseas. I hope after their next plenary meeting they will decide whose responsibility it is and sit down with the relevant commision and write.
The problem is it will be October before something appears on the Bishop's website. The letter I published earlier today from Bishop Egan will get to the public either through the dioocesan site or via blogs like mine, not through the Eccleston Square site of the Bishop's of England and Wales. It is a very good letter, it should be reported, it is unlikely to be picked up nationally because journalists don't trawl through diocesan websites. There is need for the Bishop's of E&W press office to report what is being said by our Bishops, which sometimes can be quite exciting and relevant, rather than the created news of the various commissions.
Good for Bishop Philip Egan.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have issued a document: Religion or belief and the workplace and Bishop Egan takes his scalpel an in less than a page cuts it ribbons
Rt. Hon. Baroness Onora O’Neill
Equality and Human Rights Commission
3 More London Riverside
London SE1 2RG
Dear Baroness O’Neill,
From Rt. Rev. Philip A. Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth
I write to you with the best wishes of the clergy and people of the Catholic
Diocese of Portsmouth, and the promise of our prayers, as you chair the
Equality and Human Rights Commission. The EHRC has a very difficult task with
its statutory remit to promote a ‘modern Britain where everyone is treated with
dignity and respect’. This task is certainly one that Catholics support. However, I
also want to express to you some concerns I have as a bishop and pastor about
the recent document issued by the Commission, Religion or Belief in the
Workplace. Unfortunately, I believe some aspects of this document are
problematic not only for us Catholics, but for all Christians in our country and
indeed, for the Christian patrimony of our British culture.
First, it seems to me that the document has a philosophical flaw in that it fails to
differentiate adequately or robustly between what constitutes a religion and
what constitutes a life-style or moral conviction. The result of this is that, for
instance, vegetarianism, environmentalism and even having a beard (p. 3),
becomes equated with the ‘great’ religions of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam,
Christianity and so on. Although unintended, this is surely offensive?
Secondly, the document is based on the thesis that every religion or belief must
be treated as absolutely equal and identical, rather than respected as essentially
different and complimentary. In other words, a totalitarian or absolutist concept
of ‘equality’ is at work. A consequence of this is that minority religions such as
Druidism will be treated disproportionately and this will tend to obscure or
dilute the religion of the majority, Christianity, in any policy-making. In the long
run, this will subvert the core and essence of our national culture.
Thirdly, as the Queen traditionally acknowledges in her Message each
Christmas, Britain is a Christian country. This is not only because of the number
of those who practice of profess in some manner the Christian faith, but moreimportantly because of the self-evident Christian patrimony of our laws,
institutions, social mores and traditions. Indeed, even the secular values
espoused by the EHRC itself (e.g. tolerance, respect, dignity, freedom of belief)
are arguably derived from underlying Christian values. They have vibrancy, not
simply because of the law, but because of the implicit adherence of the
populace to its Christian heritage and ethos.
Finally, Catholics fear the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ that arises when
governments and legislators impose ethical guidelines and patterns of
behaviour upon their citizens that are not demonstrably derived from the
natural law and right reason. Without its basis in right reason and the natural
law – which Catholics believe was confirmed in the divine revelation of Jesus
Christ – British law and social policy will be dominated increasingly by pressure
groups. This will lead to social disintegration. Instead, we believe that
governments and policy makers ought to foster the traditional religious identity
of our culture, that is, our Christian patrimony. This will truly assist greater social
cohesion, and the very respect and equality that the EHRC espouses.
I recognise the complexity of all these issues but I raise them out of duty and
concern. Please be assured of my prayers for all the members of the EHRC and
for God’s blessing on your important work. Indeed, I pray, through the
intercession of St George, for the peoples of our land that the Holy Spirit will
bring about a greater social cohesion, with real respect and love for one’s
With my best wishes to you and your Commission members,
Bishop of Portsmouth
cc Priests and People of Diocese of Portsmouth
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Exchanging emails recently with a young man about a vocation to the priesthood, I asked why he felt someone should be drawn to the priesthood, his reply was, "to forgive sins". Personally I thought that was pretty good, but maybe not what most bishops would regard as the normal answer, some might even find it an unacceptable answer.
Co-incidently, I then read Fr Z on Pope Francis' little homily from yesterday morning. It really is brilliant, I think I am going to put it on the back of next Sunday's newsletter. Fr Z is the expert "fisker" so read it there, rather than the Vatican Radio form below.
Interesting, JPII generation of priests wanted to teach or preach the faith, Benedict XVI generation of priests wanted to celebrate the liturgy reverently. I wonder will the Pope Francis generation want to be priests because they want to forgive sins. How exciting if they do".
In many ways what Francis says explains his motto: Miserando atque Eligendo my loose translation "I was given mercy and as a consequence I chose". A priest must be someone who is aware of God's mercy and his need for it. He should be ashamed of falling short of God's love, and be uncomfortable with it and want to seek God's mercy through the Sacrament of Mercy, often.
Pope Francis doesn't seem to be against daily confession, "And if tomorrow I do the same? Go again, and go and go and go .... He always waits for us". Obviously there are dangers of a priest pandering to a neurosis or a penitent failing to make a firm enough purpose of amendmentment but with a wise confessor can deal with that but God's mercy helps us to stop sinning. A priest never wastes time hearing Confessions or going to Confession himself. Amongst clergy we need to create culture of frequent Confession. Perhaps Pope Francis will do that, that will certainly be a huge step to "humbler, poorer Church", a Church that identifies with sinners.
I have met plenty of "good" priests and bishops, the less impressive ar those who are naturally good, the more impressive are those in whom one can actually see the workings of Grace. Not necessarilly the most good but certainly the most Holy, was a Bishop who lived with two elderly priests, who used to speak about them as "my confessors". I think he used to go to confession daily, either to one of these priest, or to a priest who he was visting, or to a priest who confessed to him.
"Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back. Therefore, John continues, because this way of thinking made him reflect: 'If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us'. Look to your sins, to our sins, we are all sinners, all of us ... This is the starting point. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful, He is so just He forgives us our sins, cleansing us from all unrighteousness…The Lord who is so good, so faithful, so just that He forgives. "
"When the Lord forgives us, He does justice" - continued the Pope - first to himself, "because He came to save and forgive", welcoming us with the tenderness of a Father for his children: "The Lord is tender towards those who fear, to those who come to Him "and with tenderness," He always understand us”. He wants to gift us the peace that only He gives. " "This is what happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" even though "many times we think that going to confession is like going to the dry cleaner" to clean the dirt from our clothes:
"But Jesus in the confessional is not a dry cleaner: it is an encounter with Jesus, but with this Jesus who waits for us, who waits for us just as we are. “But, Lord, look ... this is how I am”, we are often ashamed to tell the truth: 'I did this, I thought this'. But shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human ... the ability to be ashamed: I do not know if there is a similar saying in Italian, but in our country to those who are never ashamed are called “sin vergüenza’: this means ‘the unashamed ', because they are people who do not have the ability to be ashamed and to be ashamed is a virtue of the humble, of the man and the woman who are humble. "
Pope Francis continued: “ we must have trust, because when we sin we have an advocate with the Father, "Jesus Christ the righteous." And He "supports us before the Father" and defends us in front of our weaknesses. But you need to stand in front of the Lord "with our truth of sinners", "with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading... We must never masquerade before God." And shame is a virtue: "blessed shame." "This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness".
"Humility and meekness are like the frame of a Christian life. A Christian must always be so, humble and meek. And Jesus waits for us to forgive us. We can ask Him a question: Is going to confession like to a torture session? No! It is going to praise God, because I, a sinner , have been saved by Him. And is He waiting for me to beat me? No, with tenderness to forgive me. And if tomorrow I do the same? Go again, and go and go and go .... He always waits for us. This tenderness of the Lord, this humility, this meekness .... "
This confidence, concluded Pope Francis "gives us room to breathe." "The Lord give us this grace, the courage to always go to Him with the truth, because the truth is light and not the darkness of half-truths or lies before God. It give us this grace! So be it. "