Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Virgin Catherine, and Peacockery!


St Catherine of Sienna was a splendid women, daring to demand the Pope return from Avignon, rebuking princes, reconciling sinners, writing to practically everyone of significance in her age and being a stigmatic, but (in order to avoid peacockery?) it being invisible.

None of this seems to touch the Office for her feast. What the Church wants us to concentrate on is her virginity. It is virginity that is seen as her glory, and it supposed to be the glory of the Church too. She is no fainting virgin but a true soul united to Christ.

I know that we consecrate virginity, still. and indeed after VII it was extended to women living in the world, but I get the impression we are rather embarrassed not so much by the idea of 'consecration' but by 'virginity'. It is a sign of the time. No wonder with eleven year olds reportedly addicted to to pornography. And no wonder with a reported significant 'gay lobby' within a celibate priesthood, at least in some parts of the world.

Virginity is about bodily integrity, it is also about spiritual integrity, purposely consecrating one's mind and every thought to Jesus Christ, striving day by day for ever closer union with him. There is a heroic degree of self denial that is involved, something which demands constant serious mortification of the mind. It is certainly made much easier by strong habits of prayer, and if one is of that kind disposition, not everyone is so graced, by deep a personal affection for the person of Jesus. Everything that Catherine writes and does comes from her union with Christ, her betrothal to him, this is why the Church honours her.


Today there seems to be a tendency within the Church, even at the highest levels to question the value of virginity and celibacy, in do reality I suspect we are questioning whether it is possible to live united to Christ.

Much today that is discussed in the Church seems to be about concentrating on human weakness, rather than what Grace can achieve. I am sure one of Catherine's contemporariness illustrated a sermon by comparing the plumage of the peahen  with our natural fallen state whilst the peacock shows the nature of a peahen graced by Christ. Catherine because of her union with Christ shone with Grace

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vocations


Apparently there are only four students for the priesthood for our diocese, whilst our parish has two students in the seminary, who used to come here to Mass. In fact both of these young men were instrumental in setting up the Old Rite in our parish, and there is apparently a third who lives a little further away but comes here most weeks to the Sunday Old Mass and often on Fridays too, he has applied to a certain religious order.

Say a prayer for our three young men.
I admit my parish is a bit strange, but before my time and during my time here it has produced priests. It might be that they might have found their way to their vocation without us but it is good we helped them on their way.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A BBC Must See

Image result for "kill the Christians" bbc
I've been away for a few days, and trying to catch up. Some of my parishioners who still own a television told me about a BBC documentary on persecuted Christians, 'Kill the Christians', I have seen a few minutes of it, it seems pretty good, you can see it too on-line.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Between Communion and Schism


Quite a few silly articles, even from normally sensible journalists are appearing speaking about schism at the the Synod, I am glad Fr Z bashes them.
I agree with Fr Z, the should always bashed and bashed hard, Schism is the ultimate extreme, the breakdown of Catholicism and the destruction of Communion. Bishop Campbell in his wise discourse against ACTA calls them to the radical alternative, which is communion, a communion of mind and heart with him as the Bishop, and therefore successor of the apostles in the local Church.

The Bishop should be the voice of Christ in his Church. He is the centre of Communion.
Vatican II, often called the 'Council of the Bishops', reiterates all the ancient titles of a Bishop, and even adds a few. He is the High Priest, the first evangelist, catechist and teacher, the supreme and ultimate judge, the centre of unity, the Father of his clergy. The description of a bishop is terrifying, because what is really being described is 'the alter Christus". A bishop is supposed to Christ.

The Council, in its stilted legalistic language really gives a description of a bishop who is actually a perfect bishop, a saint. It presumes he is perfect in his fulfilment of his role in his diocese but also in his relationship to to the Universal Church. It is after all by communion with him, that we are in communion with the Pope, and consequently with all the bishops of the Catholic Church throughout the world. If we have a 'high' (Catholic) theology of the episcopacy then on our communion with him depends our communion the Church, and consequently with Christ, in that sense salvation comes through the Bishop!
Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna
So much is demanded of Bishops, some of the Fathers doubted any bishop could get to heaven, and urged any man chosen for the Episcopate to flee and hide in the cleft of the rocks.

The great problem today of course is that many of us are only in partial communion with our bishops and our bishops only in partial communion with the Church, far from 'smelling of the sheep', to use our beloved Pope's words, many of our bishops smell of everything but, of money, of heresy, of scandal. I am sure there is a Father who speaks of the 'smell of the sheep' as: the sweet smell of incense, the evening sacrifice offered to the Father. Bishops are above all men of the peripheries, going to the edges to find lost or wandering sheep to bring them home, home is the centre. Like St Paul's description of a good father they are not supposed to provoke their children to resentment (Col 3:21). Communion is a mutual thing depending on the bishop's ability to gather and the people's desire to be gathered.

flagsBishop Campbell is so right to issue his call to Communion, it is a bishops first task, it is the opposite of schism. The glorious image of Vatican II is one of an effective Church in which we all are united heart and soul for the effective proclamation of the Gospel. Rightly does the Council condemn division which 'openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature'. A Church divided cannot effectively preach Christ. Lobby groups of any kind stress division.

Damage to Communion rarely comes from below it is more likely the fruit of ineffective leadership; a failure to gather, either through leadership which favours one group or another, or fails to give clear direction because it itself is confused, or merely self referential. The images of the Church from the New Testament have hard edges like Temple of the Spirit or the Body of Christ, one knows who is inside and who is outside or else they are by way of a contrast: light and dark, the leaven in the lump, lost and found. The Church is supposed to built on rock, or firmly united to vine or planted in good soil, instability is not good for either its growth or its stability. I can't help noticing a change in Bishops appointed in the last decade, some might be time servers but most are pretty solid, there might be exceptions but the age of the Worlock and Hume men in Britain seems to be coming to an end, in the same way the Bernardin, Mahoney and |Weakland disciples are disappearing from the US. It is as if Rome is no longer choosing factionalists but Christians as bishops, or maybe those who are indeed members of factions are trying to express themselves in terms that build up the body of Christ rather than damage it. Perhaps Bishops realise they are servants of Communion rather than masters of it, that they simply cannot rely on blind obedience of either clergy or the laity.

In the spectrum between what the Church has always understood by Communion and Schism, there are a numerous degrees, unlike pregnancy we can be in degrees of Communion or Schism. Bishops have a duty of making Communion with them easy, to the point of it being desired, I think this is what Pope Francis means by 'attraction', when he speaks of evangelism. A bad bishop causes the faithful all sorts of problems of conscience and obedience, a good bishop, transparently showing Christ has an attraction which rarely needs demonstrations of power.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Christ has Won the Victory

 
I have had a long acquaintance with the devil, I have known him all my life, in a way longer than I have known Jesus Christ, He is frightening and he loves to frighten, he gives the impression of invincible power, to the point where even the strong are often overcome by him.

Those who know him well, know that much of his power is illusion. He works on our imagination, reminding us of the past, of sins we have long been forgiven for, he loves to remind us of his past victories and of our past failures. He delights in destroying hope and imprisoning us in the past, reminding us of the impossibility of escape from the circle of weakness, he likes to tell us we are what we are, and can never escape being his.

Christ the mighty One has set forth with the triumphal banner of the Cross, through humanity, through death he has descended, he has broken down the gates of hell, trampled underfoot the manacles and chains of Satan. He has lead our first parents out of their dark prison into the wonderful light of his victory. Satan is bound, hell is overcome, Satan's illusionary pomp is destroyed by the reality of Christ's victory.

Until the end of time Satan is bound and imprisoned, he dwells in our imagination, creating his palaces and castles out of smoke, out of our fear. Rightly is he called the Father of Lies, his power is in everything that this false and untruthful, as with Eve and Adam he uses our imagination against us. But truth has overcome falsehood, Life has destroyed Death, Light has swallowed up darkness, Hope has replaced despair.

Christ is the future, Satan is the past. The battleground is the present, for those with faith they already see the victory is won and live in hope and triumph in charity.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Who killed Jesus?


Who killed Jesus? They did!
So, being more nuanced Politicians did it.

The Gospels are careful to note the interplay of power and fear, of popularity and rabble raising, threats and the machinations of disciple, principally Judas but also Peter, the 'Jews' and Romans,
The two crowds; the Galileans who wave palm branches in victory and greet Jesus with cries of 'Hosanna' in expectation of the Kingdom are not the same as the metropolitan elite who cry 'Crucify him'. The former support Christ the latter the anti-Chist, supporters Bar-Abbas, the other 'Son of the Father'. To prevent a clash between these two parties is why Pilate and his force is in Jerusalem, they are on high alert and expect trouble.

The Jerusalem clergy are politicised, intent on holding onto power, trying to score points off the local Roman governor, Pilate, Josephus tells of their complaints to Rome, so their words about Pilate not being a friend of Caesar's are full of menace. The High Priest's words, "It is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed" are rich in theology but Caiaphas is more concerned for himself and his priestly or courtly faction than for the salvation of the nation.

St. Augustine Quote The Truth Is like A Lion you don't have to defend it let it loose it will defend itselfIt is on this altar that the Jesus the Lamb is sacrificed. St John whose major theme in his Gospel is 'Truth' has Pilate ask Jesus, Truth himself, 'What is truth?', and then almost immediately wash his hands of truth, preferring expediency and realpolitik to truth. Yet Pilate really seems to be a victim along with Jesus, though he is willing to sacrifice his integrity, he like Herod, who killed the Baptist, has a fascination with the truth, he seeks the truth in the abstract, though he, ultimately like Herod, destroys what fascinates him.

The real villains of the Crucifixion are the clergy, who manipulate the Sanhedrin and the politicians, they have  lost sight of their true vocation, they cling to power and influence and are concerned about their own faction's advancement, God simply does not figure in their thinking, except as another weapon in their armoury.


I spoke recently to a priest who was ordained a decade or so ago. He discerned his vocation in the full maelstrom of the abuse crisis, many of his family and friends thought him either mad or a pederast, they couldn't understand why a decent lad like him would feel a vocation to an organisation which was being daily exposed as a source of corruption and depravity, with leaders who were themselves either corrupt or facilitated and covered-up the wickedness of others. 'In those days being a young practicing Catholic was bad enough', he said, 'wanting to be a priest was for many of friends incomprehensible'.

Older clergy and even younger clergy from the non-English speaking world perhaps do not realise how much the Church has moved on from the post Concillior period. One serious danger is that senior bishops still think of themselves in terms of guarding the polis of the Church by trying to 'tame' the truth or manipulate it rather than letting it loose and allowing it to defend itself. We saw this in the child abuse crisis, we see it repeated again in the antics of those involved in the Synod.

I know the Holy Father says about prayer being preferable to gossip about the Synod. I presume he is not suggesting that there should be no  talk about Cardinals intercepting books sent to Synod delegates or Archbishops 'pre-writing' the Relatio or trying to rig the voting or manipulate discussion, to me some 'gossip', if it is that, seems very healthy: 'sunlight being the best disinfectant', comes to mind. The Truth is like a Lion,.. let it loose and it will defend itself.

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Arians

When there is a problem in the Church I always blame the Arians, I think they were at the root of  of the sixteenth century schism, other people might well blame others; lizards or Masons, for my part I blame those Arians.

Maybe they are not formal Arians but there is always a tendency to strip Christ of some of his divinity, to make him a little less than God, to further empty him of his divinity, to take away from his dignity, to wash our hands of him.

It is man's nature to destroy God, that is what is is played out in Holy Week. It is as if we cannot bear to have him live amongst us. It is our fallen nature, we prefer darkness to light, being lost to being found, perdition to salvation. God for His part shows himself willing to put himself into our hands and endure the dreadful consequences.

Orthodox Catholicism is essentially about a correct Trinitarian belief. I have a suspicion that deep down the real problem with the Synod is one of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and His place within the Church, and how seriously we take him.
If Jesus is not truly God then he's guarantees about being with his Church until the end of time need not be taken too seriously. The idea of the Church being the very Body of Christ raised to life by the Father by being imbued with the Spirit gives way to a body that in some way adheres to him. Similarly if he is not 'God amongst us' then the power of the Holy Spirit has not been poured out on those who receive the sacraments, we are un-graced, and only have ourselves to rely on. Pelagianism is the next step on from Arianism.

Arianism was not just an academic heresy, in fact it was much more a pastoral one. Arians tend to see what is there and what is human rather than what is divine and can be accomplished by grace.
I have never found it in his writings but I remember told Athanasius said, 'You can tell an Arian by the way he treats the poor'. If we looking for signs of this heresy we should look for its simple 'cash value', how it causes us to treat the poor. The last great Arian Crisis, the Reformation, resulted very quickly in Germany, in the war against the peasants and in this country the poor being whipped from parish to parish.

Orthodoxy speaks of intimacy, Arianism of distance and the first to be distanced are always 'the little ones', on the poor, the unborn, the poor at the bottom of society, on children and those dependant on stable homes and marriages.

The effect on the liturgy of Arianism is that it makes the presence of Christ more distant. Abbot Paul Delatte in his commentary on the Rule of St Benedict says that the saint introduced the Gloria Patri in order to stop his monks praying with Arians. Today words tend to be ignored, so actions often tend to speak louder, there is a liturgical style that seems to indicate that the Mass far from being the Saving Sacrifice is merely a community gathering or a praise service and the Eucharist itself though not quite ordinary bread is far from the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Some might indeed argue that the stripping of the liturgy of many of its physical actions tends to Arianism.

In marriage itself the sacramental action of the Church creates the marriage, orthodox Christianity has the expectation that God en-graces the couple to be faithful and fruitful in grace, an Arian tendency would see little difference in sacramental act and non-sacramental co-habitation, that although God might indeed bless the marriage, he is not incarnate within it, he might be a benign watcher but he is not incarnate with in it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

To what degree should a priest speak out?

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols receives congratulations from cardinals as he attends the Consistory at St Peter's Basilica
To what degree should a priest speak out? That is the question raised by HE Vincent Cardinal Nichols in the latest of his interventions in the media on the issues to be covered by the Synod, this time concerning, what has become known as, 'the Letter of the 500 Priests'

The Rite of Ordination nowadays tells us the that a priest exists to 'preach the Gospel'. The author of the Epistle to Timothy say "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." 

I have tried to be faithful to solemn promise I made at my ordination to the priesthood to 'uphold everything that the Catholic Church teaches' consequently I felt obliged to be a signatory of that letter in the Catholic Herald asking for clarity over marriage and affirming the Church's teaching on marriage.

For none of the signatories I know who signed it was it in any sense a 'political' act but rather a credal statement of our belief in the sanctity of marriage as the Church has always taught it. For my part doing everything I can to promote the Church's teaching, including signing this letter is part of my priestly office. I know that one day I stand before God and be judged on how I exercised or failed to exercise my sacred  ministry.

Our beloved Holy Father has continuously emphasised the need for frankness and openness parrhesia in conversation over this matter, it is part of the lio or mess that he invited the youth to make in Rio, when they returned to their dioceses

As far as the Synod is concerned bishops do not go as individuals but as heads of local churches, in that sense they are answerable to their clergy and people, they also have to reflect, not the opinions but the faith of their local Church. The Cardinal suggests that clergy should restrict their comments to the 'discussion process in their dioceses'. Well in my diocese our bishop who resigned after fifteen years said, "I have been careful not to make sexual morality a priority", the problem is that 'care' shows and I am afraid I fear those 15 years will be reflected in the consultation process. The process in my diocese is a one day discussion on a document which begins by suggesting those who do uphold the Church's teaching are comparable to Donatists. The rumours are that the document which merely identifies itself as being from the Bishop's Conference and bears no author's name was actually written by the Cardinal himself who has made his position clear on numerous occasions.
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The Westminster priests I know are sceptical of the consultation process in their diocese, it is sad that their Archbishop has now added intimidation to that scepticism, which in a diocese which has always had a reputation for being 'fatherless' only adds to its deep wounds.

His Eminence is not a Primate and therefore his remarks should be seen as being addressed solely to his own clergy, which would seem to suggest that they should not even mention marriage, lest their discussions become public. He puts priest in a very difficult position. We are supposed preach and teach and uphold the Catholic faith but not, according to him, in the media, presumably he means the public forum. and yet Cardinals, including himself, do so. What is 'in the media' in this sense? I have always regarded this blog as being an extension of my pulpit, friends regard pamphlet writing or articles in the same sense. Unless the doors are sealed and one's people sworn to silence the pulpit is a public forum. Does His Eminence really expect clergy to remain silent about the very thing many Catholics are deeply concerned about? If talk of marriage is ruled out what else does he wish to censor?

I think it is worth noting that Westminster Diocese seems happy to welcome all kinds of eccentric speakers who deviate from the faith but His Eminence puts the boot into orthodox clergy expressing orthodox beliefs in the discreet forum of the Catholic Herald.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Rite of Prémontré


The Rite of Prémontré which was celebrated by Fr Stephen Morrison O. Praem. during our parish retreat. It raised lots of interest amongst our younger parishioners and was beautifully and very correctly celebrated, unlike my own rather workman-like celebration of the Roman Rite.


For a short time four years this was a dependant priory of the Premonstratensian Priory at Storrington, I don't think their own Rite figured very highly.You can also see the veiling (£1.25 a meter), this year the MC also decided we would veil the altars, I think to match the chasuble..


















You can also see the veiling (£1.25 a meter), this year the MC also decided we would veil the altars, I think to match the chasuble.



The photographs were taken by one of my parishioners - such an important parish ministry in the internet age.

















Hope

Fr Stephen blessing with the relic of the True Cross
Yesterday during our sung Mass I was struck by the thought that I really am fortunate, we were coming to the end of our short parish retreat given by Fr Stephen Morrison, who was ordained four months ago and Brother Gregory Davies, they are part of the vibrant youthful Norbertine community in Chelmsford, both of them were born after I was ordained. Any other Parish Priest looking for some sound young Religious, with zeal and enthusiasm, I can't recommend them highly enough and my parishioners were impressed too.

 Exposition during our Passion-tide Retreat


The retreat was rigorous, in the sense of lots of things happening, challenging but also tiring. I mean plenty of time for prayer, intelligent but accessible conferences by Fr Stephen, beautiful and very carefully crafted devotional exercises by Br Gregory and a good turn out by our parishioners. The red light outside of the confessional was on practically all of the time.
Br Gregory leading the Stations of the Cross
The church was veiled for Passiontide, which always shocks me, that familiar sight of the church is no longer quite so familiar, reminding us of the immanence of Holy Week. We left the ivory Lenten altar crucifix uncovered until Passion Sunday
Fr Stephen preaching
The music, our choir just seems to get better and better, they sang the Palestrina Missa Brevis, it was breathtaking, and the chant, everyone sang together and the polyphonic bits were very competently sang, I really do value what they do. They are certainly better than some cathedral choirs.

And on top of all that we have a new bishop, who at the very least has a fear of God and believes that prayer is important.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pray for Richard, our Bishop


I am very pleased that we have a new Bishop of our diocese, and even more pleased that it is  Mgr Richard Moth, the Bishop of the Forces.
"So let bells be wrung and a solemn Te Deum sung'

Pray for Richard, our Bishop, there is a great deal of work to be done

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Believing is Doing


The Holy Eucharist: this is what I firmly and truly believe!
It is the opening of 40 Hours at the London Oratory, the majesty, the drama, the beauty says eloquent not just what I can express with words but what gets my heart racing, what opens up my heart to God. Words fail but the Liturgy expresses something deeper than words. Words define and confine but liturgical actions enable Cor ad Cor Loquitur, heart speaking to heart, or 'actual participation'. Words are cheap and easy but what we do shows what is our heart, what makes it pulse.
This is 'living Tradition', this where we find the Church's faith presented, it goes deeper than some theology manual or even some service book, it is the doing, and this case the lavish doing.

What we do demonstrates what we believe.
I was told of 40 Hours being conducted in a parish where Sister went to the tabernacle took out the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and placed it on the altar between two oil lamps, 'because they don't make a mess like candles', not genuflecting because it wasn't the custom, somehow I don't believe that, it affronts and diminishes my faith.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Diversity

Roberto de Mattei has been suggesting that a schism may occur if things continue as they are, I am told that it is buzzword going around some Italian journalists. Poles mindful of the alienation of JPII's magisterium at the last session, I am told are also using the 's' word.

For me, I am not sure what 'schism' means today, in fact is it a term that can be used any longer? The much Patristic principle of 'unity in diversity' or Vatican II's 'subsidiarity' and 'localisation' or 'enculturation' would suggest that they obvious shift in the Church was from the centre to the peripheries. Good theology would agree with Cardinal Marx when he said the German Bishops are not a subsidiary of Rome. The problem is that so often bishops have been seen as 'delegates' of the Bishop of Rome, appointed or dismissed at will. It is worth comparing the laborious process of the CDF's discussions with Bishop Morris of Toowoomba under Pope Benedict compared wit the overnight 'resignations' of the various 'trad' bishops under Francis. Toowoomba was much more in line with VII than Francis' no nonsense approach, which probably might appeal to conservatives. I would be very interesting to see what would happen if those bishops sacked by Francis simply said, 'No'.

What would a more diverse Church, a less Rome centred Church, look like? Why should Rome appoint Bishops, should they not be chosen locally by diocesan presbyterates, with the other local bishops join in their ordination, if they recognised and approved of their election? And if bishops are appointed locally, why should doctrine not be defined locally, whilst holding on to principles praxis can vary to accommodate local situations. The German bishops hold to the dogmatic principles 'life is sacred' and 'life begins at conception', but the seem to have their own particular pastoral praxis to safeguard these principles. It is interesting that not paying Church Tax in Germany cuts one off from Communion but holding onto heresy or living in lifestyle contrary to the Gospel doesn't.

Under such circumstances we could all hold the same doctrines but legitimately have totally different pastoral approaches.

One can see this diversity already exists in the liturgy, compare  these photgraphs
Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI in Los Angeles with Cdl Mahoney

Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI at Brompton Oratory and elsewhere

In all the pictures the celebrant would regard themselves as being 'faithful' to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal: same Mass but a different praxis.

The problem is that the Catholics attending these Masses and the priests too, already have difficulty in recognising, not the 'validity' of the sacrament confected, they just don't have much in common in their understanding of priesthood, of Church, even possibly of Revelation and of the Incarnation. Praxis forms theology, we might indeed be able to agree a common set of words on the Holy Eucharist, for example, but is the actual belief the same?

What is there in common? Presumably all can recite the Creed, all look to the Pope as the touchstone of Communion. but what does that mean? Converts are required to say "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God." Again what does that mean in a diverse Church? I remember the notorious occasion when one of our Bishops was required to write a pastoral letter correcting his error on Confession in a previous pastoral letter and then had to write another letter correcting the errors in the correction, in a more diverse Church  if his own presbyterate failed to do so, no-one would be there to correct him.

I remember Bishop Fellay suggesting that his priests accepted 95+% of all that VII put forward but then their communion is 'impaired', whilst many who would score much, much lower are in full communion, like the bishop who couldn't get his head round round Sacramental Confession.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Obedience and Parrhesia


The Crown was made by B Pius IX himself

I remember being told of one of the Welsh bishops being with the rest of the Bishop's Conference at the English College, they all went out to dinner in small groups but left him in the College alone, they were side-lining him. One of my friends, then a student, now long since ordained, felt so sorry for him, he gathered a small group of his fellows and took him out for a drink. Clergy, even Bishops can be unpleasant, just like little children in their excluding of someone with whom they disagree, especially if they are being called to obedience in Christ and to a more rigorous path.

Cardinal Burke since his sacking from the Signatura has apparently lost his smallish salary but more significantly his office and secretarial help but I suspect the thing that really hurts isn't that, or the public humiliation in front of the whole Church but it is the realisation that former friends and colleagues are no longer that friendly, and others just ignore you. Being 'excluded' is my idea of hell.

'Exclusion' is the Church's way of disciplining people, properly after just trial, if the situation merits it. I know of a Greek bishop whose brother is a little more than slightly mad but also a bishop, every so often they fall out and strike one another from the diptychs. The Patriarch of Constantinople was 'struck' a few years ago from the diptychs of the Metropolitan of Athens over some dispute. How that effected the reception of Communion by the average Greek Orthodox I don't know but formally it meant that if you were in Communion with a bishop who was not mentioned in the reading of the diptychs before Mass, you were not welcomed to communion. Such 'strikings', as in the Athenian case and the case of the two brothers seem easily repaired, often they are a bargaining tool in an ongoing internecine spat.

It would be wonderful if Christians always got on together but we care deeply about things and most especially we care about the truth, like many a married couple we will always bicker, Like some married couples we might even throw the crockery about, we have to speak with parrhesia, openly, frankly, as His Holiness reminds us.

Thinking about the email from Fr Anonymous, published by the Remnant, I continue to find it deeply disturbing, more so today than when I first read it. Priests and bishops are married to the Church, we cannot simply, 'leave the ministry' give up. We can do that no more than a married couple can give up. That is disturbing but it is also the anonymity of the priest that is worrying. Conscience should compel this priest not to be anonymous, the Holy Spirit demands we risk all for Christ's sake, even being excluded, the Gospel demands it. I have had that icon of the new Coptic martyrs on my desk, priest's should have the same courage to speak out, we are supposed to prophetically denounce sin and evil, especially if the cost is often simply human respect if do, but we are continually told it could cost heaven if we don't.


Being a bishop should be like herding cats. Love unites us in obedience to our Bishop and to the Pope but first we are servants of Christ and his Gospel, if we don't defend him and his teaching we are no more than hirelings. As the Holy Father reminds us we should speak frankly with our Father's in God, we are supposed to be son not cowering surfs, that might be a positive quality of an employee of a multi-national corporation but not in a member of the Church, for a Christian it is a sin. In the same way religious obedience, the promise we priest's take demands that we do not allow our superiors to risk their souls and the souls they are entrusted with by Christ, they are supposed to lead their flock to Heaven not to Hell. What son would watch his father fall into sin and do nothing, what priest would do it? The terrifying answer is, many would.

Cardinal Burke last Tuesday called us priests to use every means we can to safeguard the teaching of the Church, I urge any reader to do the same, even if it risks getting our heads cut off or being crowned with thorns.