Saturday, January 27, 2018

Fr. James Mawdsley

Thanks to Fr Z for posting this video of an interview with Fr. James Mawdsley of the Society of St Peter. As a young man he was imprisoned in Burma for 14 months (1999-2000) for his work for human rights. Whilst at universitry he seems to have been fascinated by 'truth' and tried to understand human suffering. In prison he met Christ and after his release the Traditional Mass, he was ordained two years ago and works in Warrington. He speaks so eloquently of The Mass and how it inspires the celebrant to humility and to awe in the presence of God.

This is very beautiful interview, in part because he portrays a priest who lives in the mystery of  God and glimpses it but doesn't understand. Father says at one point that he is glad of obedience because left to himself he mucks things up.

As a young man I was impressed in the interviews he gave after his release by his desire for truth, almost two decades on it has brought him daily to bow down before the altar of the Living God.

If you are priest, especially, watch the video, it is refreshing in its humility and the things he is trying to say. Maybe one of tyhe differences between those who say the ancient Mass is that it demands humility.

Pray for Fr James that the good work God began in him may be brought to completion

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Peronism and Corruption

I had a lesson in Peronism from an Argentinian waiter recently, in Argentina he was a PPE graduate.
Peronism, he said, was the most corrupt form of politics, because you could be a Communist, or a Facist, or a Capitalist, the only thing that mattered was support for Peron, post Peron any other head of State. It is a remnant of 1920/30s Facism, where the will of the Fuhrer or Il Duce was all that mattered. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, Custom or Tradition, Law or Morality or anything else pale into insignificance and have no validity compared to the Will of the Leader.

Therefore the ideal is to be as close as possible to the Leader, failing direct proximity the next best thing is to be close either to those who are close to the Leader or those know, or claim to know, the mind of the Leader. Under such a system moral automony is reduced to slavery because is no mral compass, such abstracts as Right and Wrong are of no importance. All that does matter is Dux Vult. If the leader is somewhat erratic that doesn't really matter, it just means his followers have to be closer and listen even more intently and it could be that what was the Leader's will last year or even this morning, might not be so now, or his will expressed to A might be the complete opposite of what was expressed to B.

To the Peronist the old elite, who based their authority on intellectual expertise or their understanding, or knowledge, even their fidelity to the law must be supplanted, nothing other than the leaders will matters. They represent an alternative authority, and therefore a possible alternative source of power, and certainly a source of evaluation and criticism. Peronism hates intellectuals, they are always totally arbitary and concerned with what is expedient, what adds to or deepens the leaders power.

Nowaday's everyone identifies the rule of Francis as in some sense Peronist, it is popular conclusion, I identified it at the beginning of his reign, if somewhat positively, as appealing to the ordinary man and trying to make the Papacy 'popular', that was a bit naive of me, it is actually Peron's Peronism, essentially about making the leader powerful.

The trouble with Peronism as my waiter friend explained is that far from being a cure for corruption it becomes a source of it  The corruption  in the Vatican is based on nepotism and patronage, it is the old Italian thing as dominant in Rome as it is in Palermo; X has done me a favour, therefore I will do a favour for Y who, will do you a favour, in return for you helping Z, who will then be indedted to me. Peronism thrives on this because relations with the leader, rather than integrity, honour or honesty, are all that matters. It does indeed reduce everyone to slavery because personal integrity is always subject to whatever the leader wants. North Korea is perhaps the Peronist ideal or at least the reductio ad absurdum.

What is hated are upright men of integrity, those who are approved of are the servile and weak and those who are either stupid, indebted in some sense or lack integrity, who are therefore always and corruptable, one could list a huge number of Papal courtiers who fit into this category

In his recent comment in Chile on Bishop Barros and his denouncing Barros' accusers of being callumnious liars, the Pope quite rightly says bring me evidence and I will act; proof is just and innocence should be presumed. The problem is of course that in other situations he has removed bishops on mere rumour or gossip, as in the case of the Bishop of Ciudad del Este.

In the English speaking world the norm is if a priest or bishop is accused of sexual abuse he is suspended until he is exonerated, the burden of prove is on him, not his accuser. In Italy Francis has a reputation of extending "mercy" to the friends of friends of sexual abusers such as Fr Mauro Inzoli, suspended by Benedict, then rehabilitated by Francis, then suspended again when he was convicted and imprisoned. His own record on sexual abusers in Buenos Aires is reportedly not quite a shining example, it compares very poorly to Cardinal Pell's, even in the 1980s. It is a very Peronist way of acting, where due process or good practice is over-ridden according to the leader's will or friendships.

The same could be said of the 'wedding on the plane', due process, ritual, law seemingly ignored for the sake of what many might see as a stunt.

The Papal award to Liliane Ploumen or the praise of Emma Benino can be seen in Peronist terms; what matters is not Catholic belief but what is political expedient. It is good thing in the eyes of the world, or just his friends to praise or honour famous women, after all they might be pro-abortion but they are anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women.

The latest action of asking Chinese 'underground' Catholic Bishops to stepdown in favour of State appointees is indeed a Peronist act. The orthodoxy, the past suffering and loyalty of such bishops and their people counts for little compared with rapprochement with the Chinese Government. The message sent to the world is that in its relationship with the world everything the Catholic Church once believed is up for grabs, almost as if what is most desired is a Papal visit to China and the status in might bring the Holy See and the Pope personally.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Imagine: Pastoral Opportunities

no title"If he were a priest in my diocese I would ensure he was suspended, and at his age retired from a public liturgical or pastoral function", was the reaction of a certain Vicar General to the Pope's 'marriage' of the Chilean couple after I placed on social media, "Next Thursday 3-4pm, in Waitrose gin aisle, I shall marry anyone who turns up, everyone welcome".

I wasn't serious but the Vicar General was, he more or less followed Ed Peter's line that the marriage was very likely invalid, pastorally he believed it very dangerous. In his diocese he said, that there were at least a few priests and deacons who were likely to follow the Pope's lead and marry couples who turned up at their front door, without paperwork, such as proof of freedom to marry, or even of baptism, and without much, if any preparation.

But it would be easy to look at this negatively, to speculate that someone was starved of attention when he was a child, the example of our Holy Father offers endless possibilities. Imagine!

Every diocese should have an Office of Liturgical/Pastoral/Canonical Imagination

Imagine if you lived in theatreland in London or New York and had priests competing with jugglers and street magicians, offering free marriages whilst people waited for tickets.
Imagine the Marriage of Figaro with real Marriages!
Imagine, Romeo and Juliet actually getting married!
Imagine, a two for one offer at your local supermarket! Two couples at one go.
Imagine the possibilities for an airport chaplain, you could marry people as they waited to check-in, or as they wait for luggage at the carousel.
Imagine the mass weddings that could take place at the next Glastonbury Rock Festival

Glastonbury festival: The full lineup as a spreadsheet ...

Imagine, in my diocese, a traffic jam on the M25 near Gatwick, a priest wandering up and down in cope and a high viz jacket offering weddings to all and sundry.

the newly ordained 
Everywhere should be seen as a pastoral opportunity, every situation is rich in them.

But why stop at Marriage? I could offer no-fuss baptisms on Brighton beach in the summer. The vocations crisis could be ended by a bishop inviting anyone to come forward who wants to be ordained, think Glastonbury, and just do them then and there, priests will be coming out of that bishops ears.

Maybe the reason there are so few young people at this Chilean Mass with Pope is that they had all been married before he arrived and had gone off to the pub for the wedding breakfast!

courtesy of Gloria TV

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Beyond Amoris Laetitia

There are some diocese in the UK where even a liberal reading of  the Pope's letter to the Argentinian bishops on Amoris Laetitia's opening up of the reception of Holy Communion would be regarded as oppressively conservative.
In one UK diocese if an annulment procedure fails the couple or the Catholic party are sent to see a priest who has been given the 'faculty' not only to 'accompany' them but with a meeting or two, then to admit them to the reception of Holy Communion. This has been going on in  one instance I know of for thirty years. 

Does this happen elsewhere?