Friday, August 31, 2007

Catholics and Nazism

The dark area onthe first map show the 1933 Nazi vote in Germany, the sencond show the distribution of Catholics in the 1932 census, it clearly shows Catholics didn't vote for Hitler.

( Catholics resisted Nazism during the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler in Germany, and if they didn't do it in a more decisive way, it was because of "a certain inferiority complex."

This is the thesis put forth by Austrian historian Martin Kugler during a conference titled "Sophie Scholl: Catholic Resistance to Nazism." The talk formed part of the 3rd International Film and Family Show, held in Tuesday in Barcelona and organized by CinemaNet.

The event focused on the 2005 German film "Sophie Scholl: The Last Days," which recounts the true story of Scholl, a 21-year-old member of the anti-Nazi, non-violent student group the White Rose.

Kugler is the founder of, a multi-confessional and socio-political movement to fight moral relativism.

The Austrian historian explained that this "Catholic inferiority complex" and "fear" are analogous to the situation of Catholics today.

On the other hand, Kugler explained that Pius XII "loved the German people" and never approved of the Nazi regime.

The historian pointed out that "in 40 out of 44 speeches of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli -- the future Pius XII -- as nuncio in Germany, there were criticisms of totalitarianism and racism."

"And if it was not more decisive when he was Pope it was because of his concern to not cause a greater persecution of Catholics, given the fact that there had been experiences of this kind," affirmed Kugler.

In light of this, "to say that he was anti-Semitic and in favor of Hitler is ridiculous," he affirmed, saying that the Holy See's diplomacy saved at least 700,000 Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War.

That Damned Fool Sutch

Posh friends of mine suggest Dom Anthony as a replacement for the Archbishop of Westminster, I suspect they really mean as a replacement for Cardinal Hume. I always cringe at the thought without actually knowing why. I think it is that he strikes me as being too self-conscious, too good a dinner companion, too worldly wise and he says too many damned foolish things, the following, is an extract from the Times it does nothing to change my opinion. It is a flagrant affront to the dignity of the Sacrament of Penance, it strikes me that this even worse than the story of the Edinburgh priests hearing confessions as part of the festival.
Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer?
The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in “green confessions” to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.
Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county’s Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.
Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done.

The Parish Priest's Patron

St. Raymond Nonnatus (from Latin non natus - not born) became Master General of the Mercedarians who raised money to ransom slaves from the Muslims, took up the sword to fight for them, or offered their own persons in their stead. St. Raymond, when he exchanged himself for a captive in North Africa was tortured. They spiked his lips and sealed his mouth with a padlock to keep him from preaching or speaking of Christ. He was eventually ransomed. He was named cardinal by Pope Gregory IX but died on his way to Rome at the age of 36.

He was canonized in 1657. He is the patron saint of expectant mothers and midwives because of the nature of his own birth. Although his mother died in labor, Raymond miraculously survived the ordeal. His feast day is August 31.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

For the Love of God: 50,000,000 quid

A diamond-encrusted human skull created by artist Damien Hirst has sold to an investment group for £50m ($100m).
The 18th Century skull, which is entirely covered in 8,601 jewels, is thought to be the world's most expensive piece of contemporary art.
The skull, from a 35-year-old 18th century European man, caused a sensation when it first went on display in central London on 3 June - not least because of its price tag.
Some critics dismissed it as tasteless while others saw it as a reflection of celebrity-obsessed culture.
Hirst said the piece, called For the Love of God, was "uplifting" and "takes your breath away".
The centrepiece of the 41-year-old's creation is a pear-shaped pink diamond, set in the forehead.

Apparently Hirsts mother gave the piece its title when first she saw it, and cried out, "For the Love of God!" My mother would have said the same, then added "let the poor thing rest in peace".

Now how better could 50 million be used? I find something deeply disturbing about this piece, what does it say about consumerism and morallity?

On Hell

"Hell: I don't believe in it, Father. If there is a loving God there can't be hell, Father. God would send anyone to Hell, Father".

Not uncommon, my argument is that if there is a loving God there must be a hell. God does not force us to do anything. The Catholic doctrine of Grace is centred on our ability to accept or reject God's gifts, hence for us the importance of Our Lady, and her response to the Archangel at the Annunciation. For Protestants and those who believe God's grace is overpowering or irresistible she is of little importance. For us she is vital. For us, God loves us so much that we are free to choose either to accept or reject him, accept or reject his grace, that as far as our ultimate Salvation we are absolutely free.

Demons with red hot pokers are not quite helpful and perhaps those who reject the doctrine tend to see Hell in these terms.

It really does amaze me that so many Catholics, even clergy, seem to reject a doctrine that is so obviously taught by Jesus himself. We might find it difficult, but then it could be that that points to a problem with us and our openness to the Gospel and not with the doctrine.
Jesus comes to change us, indeed to move us from absorption in our self, towards being centred on God and our neighbour, to choose to reject God or to move towards him, is to be left in the prison of our own selves.
My image of Hell is total self absorption, it could be that many have already placed themselves there. Christ alone can liberate us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Inquisition Lives On

One can only really understand the Spanish Inquisition as a continuation of Spain's Islamic heritage, I know that it was a branch of the State and that criminals in the civil prisons did their best to get into the Inquisitions prisons, I know that torture was rarely used and a lot in the popular mind stems from the propaganda of Foxe's Book of Martyrs but it was still pretty horrible but it lives on, not in the Christian west but wherever the crescent moon rises. Liberal writers seem happy to regret past injustices of the west, without understanding where they had come from, and without trying to see where they still exist.
Asia News has an interesting article on the consequences of conversion, in Islamic states, it is reminiscent of post Re-Conquest Spain.
The use of identity cards of course is an issue that Moslems together with Catholics have been struggling against in Orthodox Greece recently.
I hadn't realised that "...[a]t least 7 Islamic countries apply the death penalty to those who convert from Islam: Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania. But in other states, like Egypt, converts are condemned to prison, not as apostates but for contempt of Islam, ...]

Beheading of John the Baptist: worlds apart

I was struck by the contrast between Herod and John the Baptist, this morning. John the Herald of Christ in the desert, living simply according to God's will and the decadence of the court of Herod with all its excess.
Herod's court seems to be a symbol of the world without God. Herod has an attraction to John, he wants to hear him speak, even to hear himself condemned for his incestuous relationship with Herodias, his brothers wife.
The picture of the court is one of decadence, there is the implication of a paederastic attraction of Herod to Salome, he is besotted, he is "in love" and drunk hence the outrageous offer of half his kingdom, his sensuality leads him to be willing to dispose of half a kingdom or anything else, he is not in control of himself. Having set out on this course, he is unable to go back on it not because he has given his word but because of inner fear, he has made the promise in front of the court. The destructive malevolence of Salome's mother again reinforces this sense of decadence and moral turpitude. Here is a court based not order, and certainly not on the Law of God but on depravity, on arbitrary and personal whim, on sexual licence.
One is reminded of Loyola's meditation on the two cities, there is a choice placed before the hearers of this passage, the way of St John the Baptist or the way of Herod. One is the hard narrow way of self denial that leads Heaven and the other, the broad way of self indulgence that leads from personal immorality, sexual licence, self indulgence, fear of popular opinion, to the death of the innocent, and ultimately to personal destruction.
Herod's world will always seek to destroy the world of John, it will always reject those who follow the Law of God, even though it finds John's message beguilling, it is unable to break free to follow it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

City of God

I lent a parishioner St Augustine's City of God today, she had it on her knee on the bus. A woman leant over and said, "I've read that, it is a very violent book."

Full Text of th Archbishop of Birmingham

I know a couple of young priests from our diocese who are at Merton College for the Latin Mass course on the "older usage". English Bishops are normally ignore any document from Rome, so the sermon of Archbishop Vincent Nichols is perhaps significant, I would hope of all the bishops.

From Holy Smoke



For a few moments, now, I would like to reflect with you on the Mystery of Salvation we celebrate in this Mass. I am here as the bishop of the diocese, hence a teacher of the faith and a focus of unity. In offering this reflection I express my thanks to the leadership of this Conference for their cooperation with me in putting this event onto a good footing. This Mass is an expression of our unity in the Church, precisely where some wish to see or even provoke division.

We are together at a particular time in the life of the Church, the publication of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificium’. As you well know, in that publication - or rather in the letter attached to it – the Pope asks for a welcome to the steps he has taken in clarifying the position of the Missal of Pope John XXIII. He said: ‘Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.’ So that is what we do.

In his letter, addressed to bishops but available to all, he puts forward clearly the first basis for this appeal. He states, strongly, that there is one rite of the Mass in the Latin Church. He explains that this one rite has two forms: the ordinary form, which we are celebrating now, and the extraordinary form which you are to study and use during this Conference. This perspective is crucial to us all.

So the first invitation of the Holy Father is for us to avoid speaking or writing or thinking in terms of two rites: the ‘Tridentine Rite’ and the ‘modern’ or ‘post Vatican II Rite’. We should respond attentively and consistently to this invitation.

Why does the Pope insist that there is one rite of the Mass? Because, whichever form is being used, the same mystery is being celebrated, the same rite is followed. There is one mystery and there is one movement, or structure, through which that mystery is enacted.

The mystery we celebrate is the mystery of our salvation. And this is not something hidden or to be shrouded, but declared and made manifest.

The emphasis in our celebration is not so much on the transcendent mystery of God himself, not so much a glimpsing of the mystery of God as was given to Abraham, Moses, Isaiah or the three disciples at the Transfiguration. Rather it is action of our Redemption, the mystery ‘he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight, the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ…to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’ (Eph 1.10). This mystery is disclosed in the Incarnation, in earthly realities, which all the disciples, like St John, are invited to see, to touch and to receive in their liturgical and sacramental presence. The words and actions of Christ, summed up in his sacrifice and in his Body and Blood given for our nourishment, are the heart of every celebration of the Mass.

I’m sure many of you recall, as I do, the lovely image of the priest at Mass raising the consecrated host and seeing, just above it, the figure of the crucified Lord. This picture hung on my bedroom wall. It helped to form my faith. It is, I believe, always helpful for the eye to move easily from the elevated host or chalice to an image of the crucifix. That juxtaposition teaches us, through eye and imagination, the reality of what is taking place.

If this is the central mystery of the Mass, the structure of the rite in which we celebrate it – the one rite – is also important, for it gives shape to the spiritual journey to be made by all who take part in the Mass.

The rite leads all who take part in it first to approach the Mystery in humility and with penitence. Then we are directed to address all our thoughts, aspirations and thanks to the Father. Next all attend to the Word of God, proclaimed with the grace and power particular to the liturgy of the Church. The faith is then expounded to us according to the mind of the Church. In response, we declare our faith and offer our lives to the Lord. We do so in the most sublime way possible: by uniting ourselves with the sacrifice of Christ. Then, within the community of prayer and praise which is the Church, we receive the spiritual food of our salvation and are thereby formed again into the Body of Christ. Finally all receive the mandate and are sent out to be his ambassadors.

No matter the language of the celebration, no matter the form, these phases of the rite, this journey of the liturgy, must be set forth clearly. The celebrant, acting in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church, needs to ensure that his actions enable the souls in his care to participate in this saving mystery, to take part in each of its steps. This participation has to be profound, spiritual, informed by understanding – an active participation and not passive, not ‘leaving it to the priest to celebrate the Mass for us.’ Such is the shape and expectation of the one rite of the Mass, whether in its ordinary or extraordinary form, and it is given for the nourishment and salvation of the people.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church turns to St Augustine, whose feast we keep, to make clear the mystery in which we are to participate. It states:

St Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that moves us to an ever more complete participation in our Redeemer’s sacrifice which we celebrate in the Eucharist:

‘This wholly redeemed city, the assembly and society of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice by the high priest who in the form of a slave went so far as to offer himself for us in his Passion, to make us the Body of so great a head…Such is the sacrifice of Christians: “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” The Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar, so well known to believers, wherein it is evident to them that in what she offers, she herself is offered.’ (CCC 1372).

I hope that your study of the Missal of Pope John XXIII will help you to appreciate the history and richness of that form of the Mass. And I trust that you will bring all that you learn to every celebration of the Mass you lead in the future. I have no doubt that each of us must strive for improvements in the way the ordinary form of the Mass is celebrated so that its inner mystery and spiritual movement is more clearly set forth. As Pope Benedict says, we must do all we can to bring out the spiritual richness and theological depth of the Missal of Paul VI, ‘for that will guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI will unite parish communities and be loved by them.’

Please remember that what you study here is not a relic, not a reverting to the past, but part of the living tradition of the Church. It is, therefore, to be understood and entered into in the light of that living tradition today.

The Missal of Pope John XXIII will remain the extraordinary form of the celebration of the Mass, for, as Pope Benedict says, its use ‘presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.’ And the decision of the Church was that, for general use, it needed to be revised. But there are truths of which it can still remind us and it has treasures and consolation to offer.

May the Lord bless your efforts in these next few days and draw you closer to the heart of the one saving mystery, that mystery which we now celebrate together.

Seperated by an Ocean

An American priest glorying in his new rifle!
On the Side of Angels takes on the normally sane, intelligent and astute Fr Jim Tucker over his support of firearms and his ridiculing of our own British anxieties.
When I read some American blogs I am amazed at their eloquence about Life, or at least Anti-Abortion issues and revolted by their support for the "gun lobby" and the death penalty, a strange juxtaposition. Americans don't seem to understand that althgough guns don't kill people but people with guns, actually, do.

Pray for those killed in the Youth Shootings which have become so much part of 2007
London: Six deaths
James Andre Smarrt-Ford, 16
Michael Dosunmu, 15
Billy Cox, 15,
Annaka Keniesha Pinto, 17
Abukar Mahamed, 16
Nathan Foster, 18
Manchester: One death
Kamilah Peniston, 12
Liverpool: One death
Rhys Jones, 11

An Orthodox Complaint

I visited a parishioner, married to a Russian Orthodox today, it was their silver wedding, one of the other guests was a young Russian Priest , glad I wore a cassock, he had just finished studying in Paris. We chatted, he had just read the Holy Father's Jesus of Nazareth, and was very impressed, or at least said, with a smile, "It was very good for a Western Bishop!"

He was glad about the Motu Proprio, "at leat we can identify a common origin", complained about an ecumenical service he had been to in a Catholic Church, last time he was in England, in which he had to sit next to a woman vicar, "a priestess!, who read the Holy Gospel! while we sat!"

We then got back to speaking about the Pope, and he seemed to share my view that he wanted to take the Catholic Church "back to the first milenium, when we were one". Then he asked me, "But why has he abandoned his Crown? Our bishops all wear them! Is he making a veiled criticism?"
Then he went into went into a description of various Episcopal Crowns he had known, his father was a priest but his great grandfather had been a jeweller in St Petersburg in the Faberge workshops.

St Augustine

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me,but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Italians Killing Black Cats

By Carmiola Ionescu, Sunday Telegraph
Superstition blamed for killing thousands of black cats in Italy
A leading animal rights group has estimated that 60,000 black cats are killed every year by Italians who believe that they bring bad luck.
The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment claims that some are also killed as part of black magic rituals.

While black cats are seen as being lucky in the UK, many people in Italy believe that if a black cat crosses their path it indicates the devil is present. The association calculated its figure from observations of the stray cat population and from monitoring of animal ownership registers. The group said it had evidence that thousands of black cats vanished or were found dead each year.
Across large parts of Europe, black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages and were said to be the favourite companions for witches.
Lorenzo Croce, the association's president, blamed the Church for spreading myths about the animals.

THE REASON - Catholics of course
"The Catholic Church has perpetuated this idea for centuries and it is now deeply implanted in people's minds," he said.
"For centuries black cats were massacred at the order of priests."

All the Italian priests I know seem to be struggling against superstition, in Italy as in the UK it is secualristas who are into crystals, charms alternative therapies.
Mr Croce said Italians were very superstitious and more needed to be done to educate people.
"It is mostly uneducated people who would harm a black cat just because of its colour or would abandon a cat like this in the street to fall victim to other superstitious people," he said.
Mr Croce added that many of the cats disappeared around Hallowe'en. He blamed "strange rituals for worshipping evil", and said the perpetrators "need to sacrifice black cats while performing their rituals".

There is a story, that I don't believe, that one of my predecessors who was very large, killed a black cat by slumping into an old ladies chair, and crushing her cat
The association wants to hold a Black Cat Day every year on November 17, because the number 17 also holds negative connotations for Italians, who consider it to be as unlucky as the number 13.
It has been suggested that the superstition is related to the Roman numerals for the number 17, XVII, and an anagram of them, VIXI, which in Latin is the past tense of the verb to live.
Mr Croce said: "Our appeal for help to organise Black Cat Day has received a tremendously enthusiastic response from people who love the black cats just as much as all the others.
"We are planning to organise conferences and exhibitions in all major Italian cities, including Rome and Milan.
"The peak of it will be a big public concert in Rome that will celebrate these great, but tragically victimised, felines."
I wonder if that Roman cat lover, you know the one who used to feed stray cats before he became Pope will want to be involved.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ma's Quizz

Beijing observatory, designed and built by Fr. Ferdinand Verbiest.

I found this on Ma Beck's site

A.) What was the profession of the man science calls the "father of Egyptology?"
B.) What did the "father of geology" do for a living?
C.) What about the "father of modern atomic theory?"
D.) What about the first person to measure the rate of a freely-falling body?
E.) Who gave rise to the science of seismology, the study of earthquakes?
F.) What occupation did the "father of international law" have?
G.) What was the first modern legal system in Europe?
H.) Where does the idea of "human rights" come from?

The answers:

A.) Roman Catholic Priest. B.) Roman Catholic Priest. C.) Roman Catholic Priest. D.) Roman Catholic Priest. E.) A group of Roman Catholic priests (the Jesuits). F.) Roman Catholic Priest.
G.) Canon Law. H.) Canon Law.

Is the Abstract Heresy?

Gerald Augustus has a post about a new window at Cologne Cathedral and Carpe Diem about a new Church in Basingstoke.

No, it is not out of focus, this is it.

Now what concerns me is abstract art in keeping with Christianity?

I mean under the Old Covenant, God was always Abstraction, even the name God gives himself in the burning bush, when he speaks to Moses is essentially empty of definition, "I am who I am", is no name at all. The first commandment, the prohibition on graven images, the emptiness of the Holy of Holies all serve to underline the fact that God is other, entirely unknown, beyond our understanding, except if He Himself chooses to reveal Himself. He is Eternal Abstraction!

But with the Incarnation, the Eternal Abstract becomes "flesh and dwells amongst us". The Unknown become knowable, the Unnamed become nameable, his name is Jesus, the Christ.

I have a dreadful feeling that Churches that use the abstract are uncomfortable with the idea of God who becomes Flesh, a God who enters the Virgins womb, God who promises to be with His Church until the end of time, a God who is really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. The God of the New Testament, the New Covenant is a concrete reality, for the last two thousand years the Church has being continually battling those who deny God has a face, or that God has become incarnate, we see that in the heresies of the early centuries, later in Arianism, in Iconoclasm, in the second Millennium in Protestantism and now in Modernism. All these heresies deny the reality of the absolute proximity of God, which is the essence of the New Testament. More or less all dogmatic staements of the past eighteen hundred years have been staetements about the reality of the Incarnation.

People find it easy to believe in a God who remains outside of humanity, a God who is "Spirit" or "Godhead" but this is not the God of Christians, He is not unknowable and He is not faceless. The Word may be illustrated by light, clouds, geometry, patterns, colour, the "Word that became flesh" is man like us in all things but sin, he shares our image and likeness.
Pope Benedict has been speaking a lot about "seeking the face of God", because it seekable and seeable.

I contend that the lack of iconography is illustrative of a profound difficulty we have today in the central doctrine of Christianity, the Incarnation.

Castel Sant'Angelo: Dank dungeon for common criminals

By Carol Glatz - Catholic News Service
For the first time in a decade, summer tourists could make their way down steep stone steps deep into the dark, dank interior of a papal fortress and crawl into prison cells that housed countless common criminals as well as Rome's errant elite.

The 1,900-year-old Castel Sant'Angelo, which stands near the Tiber River, was built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, then was converted into a fortress by medieval popes.

At times, the turreted castle served as a refuge for beleaguered and besieged pontiffs and as a high-security prison.

While not wanting to justify the church's past practice of imprisonment, torture and sometimes executions, one Vatican expert said it was important to remember that at the time "the papal state was a territorial state, so you had to take care of thieves and murderers who are put into prisons like in every state."

The Vatican Museums' Arnold Nesselrath, director of the Byzantine, medieval and modern collections, told Catholic News Service that, while the church's large temporal jurisdiction "was probably wrong at every time of history, (its penal practice) was consistent with what was going on in other countries."

Starting in the eighth century, the church wielded temporal power over shifting territories known as the Papal States across parts of modern-day Italy.

"Being a territorial state there were political problems, also. There were people who plotted against the pope," Nesselrath said, and that "puts into difficulty a territorial sovereign."

The pontiffs not only had foreign powers bent on invasion and rival Roman emperors to contend with, but infighting among powerful Roman families vying for control of the papacy was such a threat that the Roman Curia moved for safety to Avignon, France, in the early 1300s.

When the papacy moved back to Rome in the late 14th century, the pope still "had to re-establish his role, which was of course against the barons who did what they liked," Nesselrath said. Internal divisions within the church worsened during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, thus broadening the list of enemies of the church who risked imprisonment.

Prisons were scattered throughout the papal territories, but the one in Castel Sant'Angelo was unique.

Sometimes prisoners and the pope were holed up in the same fortress, especially during the mercenary army invasion of King Charles V in 1527 that led to the sack of Rome.

Several times during a period of "sede vacante" -- when one pope had died and another had not yet been elected -- large numbers of inmates were transferred from other prisons to Castel Sant'Angelo.

Miria Nardi, head of Castel Sant'Angelo's library and archives, told CNS that the possibility for prison breaks was much greater during a "sede vacante," when the power vacuum could lead to chaos or confusion. Therefore, exceptionally dangerous inmates were moved quickly to the castle because it was more secure.

Only five rooms were originally built to serve as prison cells in the early 1500s.

As the need for more cells arose, other rooms and spaces in the vast complex were converted into detention centers. Even tall grain silos inside the fortress were converted into jail cells.

The number of political prisoners in papal jails swelled during Italy's Risorgimento in the 19th century when revolutionaries fought for the unification of Italy. Nardi said the number of prisoners varied constantly but that one document recorded 681 detainees in 1828.

Little is known about the conditions prisoners faced in this fortress prison. However, Nesselrath said since it was not built to be a prison but a tomb it was "probably the worst dungeon you can imagine."

A former Castel Sant'Angelo inmate, the famed 16th-century Florentine artist, Benvenuto Cellini, wrote an autobiography describing the conditions he faced while in solitary confinement there.

Jailed on charges of murder, Cellini called his cell "a gloomy dungeon below the level of a garden, which swam with water and was full of big spiders and many venomous worms."

He slept on "a wretched mattress of course hemp" which after three days "soaked up water like a sponge," he wrote.

Cellini was incarcerated with a broken leg -- an injury he sustained in a previous escape after climbing and jumping off the castle's ramparts, using torn bed sheets sewn into long ropes.

Cellini's fate was fortunate: His leg healed despite the neglect, and after a year of prison the pope exiled him to France.

Others, like members of Rome's important Cenci family, died at the hands of papal executioners in the square in front of Castel Sant'Angelo.

Declared guilty of murdering Francesco Cenci, the dead nobleman's daughter and second wife were decapitated in 1599 before a large crowd while one son was drawn and quartered.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI formally banned the use of the death penalty in Vatican City State, although no one had been executed under the authority of the Vatican's temporal governance since 1870, when the Papal States dissolved after Rome and the surrounding territories were annexed to a unified Italy.

Nesselrath said more scholarly sleuthing needs to be done on papal prisons and punishment -- which would certainly reveal there were "abuses and ways we don't consider the right ones anymore today."

But more research could be done by Vatican or church experts that puts the past "into a historical context," he said, since a lot of the historical studies that exist take a "sort of traditional, very anti-Catholic approach."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Predecessors Rite

I love old photographs of liturgical events NLM had these three of Solemn Mass in the Premonstratensian rite from the Norbertine Abbey of Frigolet near Avignon. The photographs date to around the mid 1950's.

Now my immediate predecessors were Premonstatensian Canons, their liturgy here wasn't anything out of the ordinary, and certainly didn't reflect the past glory of their own Rite. One of the ancient features that would have filled any "liturgist" of the present day with horror was celebrating solemn Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. On the Feast of Corpus Christi for example Benediction took place three times; before the collect, at the offertory and before the post communion.
Their Rite apparently closely resembled that of Cluny, and was perhaps one of the most exotic of Western Liturgical Rites.

I would like to claim that my people were so attached to this particular Rite, and to deprive them would be a grave pastoral disservice, therefore I should be given permission to celebrate it but I can't see anyone wearing that, but their Rite is illustrative of the rich diversity of the liturgies of the past.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pain of Blessed Theresa's Prayer

Time Magazine has an interesting review of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator for her cause for canonisation. the review focuses on the spiritual emptiness of the Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, it is entitled "Mother Theresa's Crisis of Faith". Having had a quick scan it actually seems to be a rather sensible article on the pain that is often part of prayer by DAVID VAN BIEMA .
Here are some extracts from it:

"It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'" she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had "[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one." Jesus' hunger, she said, is what "you and I must find" and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world "that radiating joy is real" because Christ is everywhere — "Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive."
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have free hand."
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

I can't express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness — for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus' darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a 'spiritual side of your work' as you wrote — Today really I felt a deep joy — that Jesus can't go anymore through the agony — but that He wants to go through it in me.

Chinese bishop arrested: to silence Pope's message?

( - A prominent bishop of the underground Catholic Church in China was arrested on August 23, apparently to prevent him from distributing the Pope's message to the Church in China.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo of the Zheng Ding diocese was taken into custody on Thursday morning, the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reports.
The bishop's arrest came after several days of tight surveillance in his residence. The Cardinal Kung Foundation reports that visitors to the bishop's home were held and interrogated by police before being released.
The AsiaNews service reports that Bishop Jia was preparing his own pastoral letter to accompany the release of the Pope's message to the Chinese Church. The bishop had been repeatedly warned by Chinese officials that he should not distribute the Pope's message. That papal message rejected the authority of the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association.
Bishop Jia is the most prominent leader of the underground Catholic Church in the Hebei province, where Catholics loyal to the Holy See have regularly experienced harassment by government officials and representatives of the Patriotic Association. After his arrest, a placard advertising the Patriotic Association was placed on the side of the bishop's residence.
The 73-year-old Bishop Jia has spent more than 15 years in prison. In the past 3 years he has been arrested at least 11 times, usually to be interrogated, subjected to pressure to join the Patriotic Association, and eventually released. His last previous arrest was on June 5 of this year; he was released on June 22.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Supermarkets for worshipping in

Damian Thompson has a post on his blog about the re-ordering of a Church near the Catholic Herald office, there are dozens of comments.

The Cafeteria is Closed has a whole series of photographs of new Churches in an American diocese. they aren't much different from the the rather dull examples of modern ecclesiastical architecture one sees in England.
For me they all seem to speak of the mundane, of the dull, of boring. A Church used to be a proclamation of faith, a theological statement in brick or stone. They were built to last because there was a sense that the "spiritual temple, not built of stones" would endure. What these buildings speak of to me is impermanence. The can serve as Churches today, but tomorrow will be Tescoes or a carpet warehouse, or a garage.
Their architects, and those who commissioned them, seem to want them to disappear into the landscape. They apologise for their existence. they crave anonymity, they refuse any distinct Catholic identity. They could be a Church of any denomination, or a mosque, or a temple or indeed a supermarket. If they have a theology to express it is one out of harmony with what they Church has had to proclaim since the time it emerged from the catacombs.
From their exteriors at least there is no raising of mind and heart to God, one presumes the interiors are much the same and so too what goes on inside.

Ostracism or Demonmisation

Alexamenos worships his god "Christian or Anti-Christian graffitoRome, c. 200

We do seem to be pushed further and further to the edge of society, many people, including practising catholics seem to see the Church as unjust, cruel or even patently evil. One wonders if Bishop Budd's introduction to the book of Essays, published under the auspices of the Bishop's Conference reflects this view.

In a "sound bite" culture it is very easy top ridicule the position of the Church, especially when it stands against a the consumerist culture of disposability that was so much of the 20th Century. In Brighton especially it seems that the Church either conforms or is going to suffer ostracism or demonisation.

Francis, I haven't a surname, summed up my thoughts fairly well in the Comments Box on the piece about Amnesty International and abortion.

Francis said...
Fr. Ray,

The fact that Amnesty International has defined abortion in certain circumstances as a “human right” is another example of how the Catholic Church is being pushed into a position which exposes it to legal persecution on the trumped-up charge of “denying basic human rights.”

The corner that we are being painted into looks like this: We oppose abortion, therefore we “deny basic human rights”; we oppose gay sex and gay-couple adoption, therefore we “deny basic human rights”; we oppose artificial forms of birth control, therefore we “deny basic human rights”; we no not ordain women, therefore we “deny basic human rights”; we have single-sex religious orders, therefore we “deny basic human rights”; we have faith schools reserved for Catholics, therefore we “deny basic human rights”…

There is now a clear trend towards ostracizing – and indeed demonizing – Catholicism for its moral teachings as a prelude to a legal clampdown on the Church.

I would not be surprised if the end-game, at least in Europe, is the legal definition of the “right to protection from religious indoctrination” – which would not only put Catholic schools off-limits but also make it illegal to teach the faith to one’s children. The traditional right to freedom of religion will be restricted to adults who opt in, but exclude children who are co-opted in by their parents. (Islam, as an “expression of multi-culturalism,” will be granted an exemption).

We have 15 years at most before this becomes reality.

My question, what do we do?

Russian Martyrs from the Communist Era

I was very struck by the profound beauty of the chant in the first part of this video, does anyone of enough Old Slavonic to translate?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

160 Healthy Babies Lost for Every 50 Down’s Cases Detected with Amniocentesis

By Hilary White
( – The risks of amniocentesis to the unborn child have long been known but now a new analysis by a British doctor has shown that using the tests in seek-and-destroy missions for Downs syndrome and other genetic abnormalities results in the deaths of hundreds of healthy babies every year in Britain.

Dr. Hylton Meire, the retired physician and author of texts on ultrasound, calculates that for every 50 children with Down's Syndrome successfully identified and killed by abortion, 160 non-affected babies are lost by miscarriage after the test. His paper, published in the Journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society, mainly emphasizes that the non-invasive test, called the foetal 'nuchal thickness' measurement, is not as useful as is widely thought because of the high incidents of false positives it gives.

In obstetrics, it is now standard practice to offer pregnant women the non-invasive test that measures the fluid at the back of the child's neck. Combined with the age of the mother the test results in a number taken to indicate the possibility that the child has Down's. If the number is high enough, the mother is offered an amniocentesis, a test in which a needle is inserted into the abdomen and a sample of amniotic fluid is drawn off and analyzed.

With about one in every 1000 children conceived having Down’s syndrome, and with amniocentesis carrying a one in 200 risk of miscarriage, Dr. Meire, wrote in the journal Ultrasound that if all pregnant women took the amniocentesis test as many as 3,200 healthy babies could die by miscarriage every year.

Caption Competition

Alright, I can't think of anything else to put up, so it is time for a caption competition, I think I might have found this of on Hallowed Ground (see sidebar, I always have difficulty opening it).
The prize is either in the Ordinary or Extra-ordinary form, and is one Pater, Ave and Gloria Patri.
How about:-
'Allo, 'Allo who do you think you are: Sterling Moss?"
"Constable, do you know where the rest of the procession has gone?"

Sunday's Traditional Mass

I was rather pleased to see the numbers for our monthly Traditional Mass had increased to about thirty five this weekend, up from about twenty, many of the congregation were from outside the parish including a more recently ordained priest from the diocese and a seminarian. I find it interesting to see that many of the older people have stopped coming whilst the number of younger people is increasingly slowly, younger people seem to be more willing to bring their friends. The ones who come find the silence a bit of a shock which they either hate or love.

When I first discussed having the Mass here with our Bishop, Kieran Conry, he said, "Do whatever you want, providing it doesn't interfere with the normal Mass times." This seems to be exactly what the Motu Proprio eventually said; it is an additional option, no-one is forced to go to it. When rumours of the Pope's document were rumbling in the rumour mills and I asked if we could have it weekly he suggested we wait and see. Again this seemed rather sensible.

One of the problems with not saying the Mass myself, yet, is simply that it is a monthly event, people forget which Sunday. The month before last Fr Durham the FSSP priest just couldn't get into Brighton, he was stuck in a traffic jam for two and a half hours because of the London to Brighton cycle ride, Mass was supposed to start at 6pm, and he didn't here until 7.45! After waiting for half an hour I said a Novus Ordo Mass for them.

I am not quite sure what we should do in the future, our Ordinary Rite Mass is at 5pm and in term time it is full of students and young people, I really don't want to celebrate one Mass immediately after the other. I can imagine that afer the deristriction in September members of the FSSP will be in greater demand, we'll have to see and make a decision for Advent, by which I should have acquired a certain "competence" in saying it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When I was a Trotskyist...

I suppose this really has a bearing on the last post, but when I was a young Trotskyist, a phase that lsted for exactly the length of time I was madly, deeply in love with Sue BM, she was a Trotskyist, I was seventeen. What we used to do, there were less than twenty of us, but we would join a protest, such as 250 midwives respectfull requesting slightly higer wages, with as many plackards as possible to hand out, each with our logo on it, but bearing slogans like "More Pay", everyone wanted one. It gave the impression everyone was millitantly left wing, especially if there were red flags to wave, the absolutely best thing was to get to a microphone, especially if one's fellow Trots, understood their job was to cheer loud and hard.
I developed a cunning plan to take over the local Literary Society, which in Guildford had rather nice premises, by getting my friends to join and vote out the existing members.
I can't help thinking these techniques are widely used nowadays in politics, it is much easier with focus groups. I remember discussing this with someone who had done a study on the decline of female religous orders, she saw the same techniques coming into play in the 70s/80s, it was so easy with women who were accustomed to obedience to follow a more radical extremist. I am sure we see it in the catechetical movement of the same period.
In secular groups such as those who form public opinion it is easy for a particular group to take over and give new direction first of all with that group and then to use the the group itself to alter the opinion and outlook of society: the BBC for example?

Christians take stand against university

By Jonathan Petre, Daily Telegraph
A Christian student society is going to the High Court to overturn a ruling requiring it to admit non-Christians.
The Christian Union at Exeter said the ruling by an independent adjudicator would mean Muslims or atheists could become its leaders.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is backing the organisation.His successor, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the "suppression" of Christian groups on campuses.
The 350-strong Union was told by the Students' Guild, which regulates student bodies, last year that it may lose its status unless it drops its requirement for members to declare their faith in Jesus because it meant the society was closed to many students.
The University appointed Mark Shaw QC to produce an independent adjudication.
In his ruling earlier this month, he criticised the union for restricting its membership to Christians, even though its meetings are open to all.
Lord Carey said: "This ruling opens the way for a Muslim to head up an Anglican Society or a member of the BNP to chair the Labour club.
Ben Martin, a member of the union, said the union had to challenge the "unbalanced and selective" ruling.
He said the union would instruct Paul Diamond, the lawyer who represented Nadia Eweida in her dispute with British Airways over her right to wear a cross.
Dr Peter May, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship and a member of the General Synod, said in an appeal to Church leaders: "Christian students are having their right to free speech, freedom of association and freedom to practice their religion eroded away by discriminatory equal opportunities policies."
The National Union of Students said: "Students' unions have a duty to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all communities.
"As a result, they continually take steps to ensure that their own equal opportunities policies are adhered to."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Le Barroux Ordinations

The New Liturgical Movement has some more beautiful pictures of the ordinations at Le Barroux .
I hope to go on retreat there later this year.

Fatima learnt Arabic

I found this on Overheard in the Sacristy, it reminded me when I first came to the parish and a rather charming Muslim couple brought some baklava over to welcome me. I used to drop into see them. The parents, especially the mother had been very involved in Natural Family Planning with Catholics, in their homeland of Indonesia. Their daughter Fatima was almost four at the time and they were beginning to teach her to read the Koran, she wanted to show me how clever she was, and was shocked I couldn't read Arabic, unlike her!
For so many children learning a "sacred" language, Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Church Slavonic or Greek is a normal part of their religious education, in fact it seems to be abnormal not to. I knew a six year old who insisted on saying the Rosary with his parents everynight in Latin, because, "I like it, it lets me think about the pictures in my mind and it sounds nicer".

Kidman: film not anti-Catholic. She's kidding

I heard a play by Philip Pullman on the radio sometime ago, I was really shocked by the anti-Catholic bigotry. Pullman is one of the leading children's authors. The fantasy worlds he creates are full of talking animals, magic and the triumph of good over evil, and the evil is always something which has strong Catholic elements. Pullman is not just an atheist, but agressive and cmbative in his atheism.

Catholic News
Nicole Kidman has denied that a new film she's making is anti-Catholic. The movie features an organisation known as "The Magisterium", which kidnaps children to remove their souls.

The Brisbane Times reports that Kidman told a US magazine that her Catholic faith affected her consideration of the script for the film, which is titled The Golden Compass.

The fantasy film is based on a novel by Philip Pullman called Northern Lights. It is already attracting attention in the US for avoiding much of the book's perceived anti-Catholic rhetoric.

Kidman said some of the religious elements were removed from the movie script.

Kidman told the magazine: "I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence."

"I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic."

The Golden Compass is due for release in the US on 7 December.

See American Papist

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pope: solidarity for the quake-stricken population of Peru

In reflections before the Angelus, Benedict XVI affirms that Christ’s “peace” is “the battle between good and evil”. Christian faith is not “inconsistent and apparent”, but a commitment to truth, even if it involves incomprehension and persecution.

(AsiaNews) – A thought for “the people of Peru, stricken by a devastating earthquake” was at the centre of Benedict XVI’s Angelus address today, in the courtyard of the pontifical residence of Castel Gandolfo. “For the numerous dead – said the pontiff – I invoke Our Lord’s peace, for the injured a speedy recovery and for the thousands left destitute and in misery I promise you this: the Church is with you, with spiritual and material solidarity”. As a sign of his closeness, the pope announced that he would be sending Secretary of State Card. Tarcisio Bertone, “who has long expressed his desire to visit Peru, in the next few days he will travel there to personally witness my solidarity with the nation and the concrete aid of the Holy See”.
The pope’s reflection was inspired by a passage from this Sunday’s Gospel: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12, 51). “Whoever has a minimal understanding of the Gospel – explained the pontiff – knows that this is the greatest of all messages for peace; Christ himself, as Saint Paul writes, “is our peace” (Eph. 2,14), who died and rose again to break down our enemies walls and build the kingdom of God which is love, joy, and peace. How then do we explain these, his words?”.
The answer is that his peace “is not synonymous with a simple absence of conflict. On the contrary, Christ’s peace is the result of a constant battle against evil. The battle that Jesus has decided to undertake is not against man or human powers, but against man’s enemy, God’s enemy; Satan”.
“Those who chose to resist this enemy and remain faithful to God and to all that is good – continue the pontiff – must realise that they will have to face incomprehension and even at times persecution. Thus all those who choose to follow Christ and commit themselves uncompromisingly to the truth must know that they will meet opposition and will become, despite their best efforts, a symbol of division among people, even within their own families”.
In the footsteps of Jesus, Christians must become “instruments of peace”: “not an inconsistent and apparent peace – clarified Benedict XVI – but a real peace, pursued with courage and determination in the every day battle so good may prevail over evil ( Rm 12, 21) and paying the personal price that this demands”.
The Virgin Mary –concluded the Pope – “shared her Son’s battle against evil, right up to the Martyrdom of her soul, and she continues to share it until the end of time. We invoke her maternal intercession, so that she may help us to always be witnesses of Christ’s peace, and never bow to comprises with evil”.
At the end of the Marian prayer, the pope greeted among others, participants in the Rimini Meeting pf friendship among peoples, which opened today; the weeklong cultural event, organised by Communion and Liberation this year has as its theme: “Truth, the destiny for which we have all been made”. The pope augured that the meeting become an occasion for fruitful reflection and discussion to realise man’s most important vocation: “the search for truth that is the search for God”. ( Enc. Fides et ratio)

Against torture and the death penalty, except for those in the Womb

I have always rather admired Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, especially his committment to Human Rights. He has always believed the most fundamental right that all human beings have is the right to life. When I was a Deacon in Woking 24 years ago he helped a small group of us set a branch of Amnesty International, he has been a member of Amnesty for over 30 years. I remember as young seminarian standing outside the Soviet Embassy protesting about the imprisonment of dissidents with him.

This morning I heard him on the radio saying that he had resigned from Amnesty, "Amnesty always opposed torture and the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstance", he said and then continued to say now it has made a distinction, being against torture and the death penalty for everyone, except those in the womb.

I felt very sorry for him, especially as this has always been such a passion in his priesthood.

Amnesty was founded by a Catholic, so many Catholics have been involved with it, the candle in a bit of twisted wire was almost irritatingsly ubiquitous in Catholic Churches until recently. Amnesty has taken on Abortion as a right for the victims of rape, so what organisation do we join now, if we are passionately attached to the right to Life, for all people, for those both outside and inside the womb?

I have a friend who was attacked and raped in her her early teens, her non-Catholic parents had the child that she conceived aborted. As she grew older she felt the action taken by her parents, they thought they were doing the best, as an action even worst than the rape.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Don't you just wanted to pull a beard

Afew years ago I was with a young Eastern European girl and her husband, she is a Catholic and he is a Muslim. Actully he was intending to be kind and gracious, but I wanted to pull his beard, like the legend of St Nicholas at Nicea.

He kept telling me that Muslims had a great love for Ysa and Miarrim, Jesus and Mary, what a great prophet he was, I just felt he was insulting the Lord, and I am afraid I ended up after twenty minutes of this by saying, "Look he is not a prophet! He is Allah. Allah loves us so much that He took on flesh, and a human nature, in the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and became Man for us and our Salvation. He showed even greater love by taking on even suffering and death for love of us. He loved us so much that He transcended even his divinity. Allah is not merely merciful he is loving".

My Muslim host decided to go and do something in the attic, I chatted a bit with his wife, gave their sleeping son, who I had baptised, a blessing, and left.

Not my best pastoral moment, and maybe I wont end up on the Brighton and Hove Interfaith Forum.

thanks to Lawrence

A thought on Summorum Pontificum

The role of the priest has changed greatly over the last few years.
A great deal of my time is taken up with silly things, drains, bills and things. I was discussing the Divine Office with a friend who is very much into the old and other western rites. He told me that before the liturgical reforms of Pius X a priest would say more or less a quarter of the Psalter on a Sunday morning before he could celebrate Mass, then of course the whole of the Psalter was said in a week. In 19th Century novels the priest was forever saying his Breviary. Nowadays in the modern Office, the Psalter is said over four weeks and a priest will say fifteen psalms and canticles, a few chunks of scripture during the day, I must admit some of us find even that quite onerous.
In the great monasteries of the middle ages, choir monks spent most of the day in the choir stalls. At Cluny manual work for choir monks was reduced to polishing their own shoes, so great was the time spent in prayer. To ensure that monks got some time for sleep and spiritual reading there seemed to be a sort of shift system.
On top of the Divine Office for secular priests were other prayer obligations as well as meditation and the Rosary.
Against this background of prayer was the constant discipline of fasting, from midnight until the last Mass of the day, and other corporal penances.

I am told the Emperor Joseph, the one who insisted on reusable coffins, and durable leather vestments, stopped parish priests in Austria publically, celebrating Vespers and devotions because they stopped priests “getting on with something useful”. Normally when priests weren’t praying they were teaching or celebrating the other sacraments.
The norm seems to have been that priests were essentially men of prayer. I think I would still want to be thought of as that but the truth is that I am an administrator, a manager. One of the things that the Holy Father’s recent document allows is for a priest or presumable others who have an obligation to celebrate the Divine Office to be able to use the earlier form of the Office which whilst not quite as demanding as the Office even of Pius X still makes greater demands on the priests time.

I suspect that one of the purposes of Summorum Pontificum is to get us re-examining where the Church has ended up forty-five years after the Vatican Council. A none UK bishop who left a long comment on the blog and asked me not publish it suggested that Summorum Pontificum was like a crosiers shoved into the machinery of the Spirit of (some might say poltergeist of) Vatican II. Benedict above is calling us to develop a friendship with Christ. Prayer and time spent in prayer is essential for that.
The big question is we know that the prayer regimes of the past produced saints ( and I admit some religious neurotics), will the new order do the same?

We are terribly, terribly sorry!

What with cannibals appologising for eating Methodist missionaries early this week well, HERE'S another one.

The Danish Minister of Culture has apologized for Viking raids conducted centuries before his birth, or that of any other living Dane.The explosion of collective guilt is a bad sign. Everyone's supposed to feel horribly ashamed of things that happened centuries ago, but complain about "guilt trips" if someone points out their own failings.

saturno tip New Roving Medievalist

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ethnic cleansing first against Yazidis, soon against Christians

The death toll from anti-Yazidi attacks in northern Iraq is rising and might reach 500. Sources warn AsiaNews that Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain are at risk. The area is currently controlled by Wahhabi extremists since there is no presence of US or Iraqi troops. In a climate of growing insecurity 40 children in Kirkuk receive their first communion on the day of the Assumption of Our Lady.
Mosul (AsiaNews) – The death toll from Tuesday’s bomb attacks against Yazidi villages near Mosul might reach as high as 500. Provincial authorities in Nineveh province fear that in addition to those already accounted for, another 200 people might still be buried in the rubbles left by deadly truck bombings. Sources in Iraq warn AsiaNews that the multiple attacks are part of a wider plan that is likely to target Christian villages in the Nineveh plain very soon.
The bombings in Qataniya, Adnaniya, al-Jazeera and Tal Uzair are the deadliest since the war began in 2003. The coordinated operation involved five trucks filled with explosives that killed more than 250 people and hurt another 350, this according to official preliminary figures.
US army sources said that it is too soon to know who was behind the blasts but the scope and apparent coordination involved point the finger at Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda.
“This is an act of ‘ethnic cleansing’,” said Major-General Benjamin Mixon, the commander of US forces in northern Iraq.
Iraqi political leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia, and President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd, condemned the “heinous” attacks and ordered an investigation.
The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned "the cowardly and barbaric attack against innocent civilians of this tolerant religious minority".
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also slammed the bombings in Iraq.
Now the attention is turning to the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain.
Sources in Mosul that requested anonymity for security reasons told AsiaNews that the bombings against the Yazidis are “part of a broad plan elaborated by Wahhabi extremists who now control the area to eliminate all those elements that might be in their way as they pursue their goals, namely an Islamic state and the caliphate.
“They began with Shias and Christians in Mosul,” the source said.” Now it is the turn of the Yazidis who mostly live in these villages west of the city.”
There are fears though that “tomorrow it will happen to the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain, where there is no US or Iraqi army presence to speak of.”
The area is already in the hands of extremists who have infiltrated the police and the national army. “Everything has been studied and prepared with the backing of foreign countries,” the sources said.
The villages at risk are located between Qaraqosh and al-Qosh. Some 6,110 Christian families have arrived from Baghdad and Mosul and now live in the ten or so villages. However, it is estimated that about 70 per cent of the population in the diocese have abandoned their homes with most churches now lying empty.
As a result of the weakness of the al-Maliki government, now involved in trying to survive its latest cabinet crisis, Baghdad authorities are virtually absent from the area.
“Even a revived UN mission will not bring peace,” the sources told AsiaNews. “Only true reconciliation between Iraqis can help the country.”
In the mist of the growing insecurity and uncertainty the decimated Christian community continues to pray for “peace”.
Chaldean Christians yesterday prayed in a church in Kirkuk where Archbishop Louis Sako celebrated mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady.
On this occasion, very important for the Chaldean Church, 40 children received their first communion.

If you are British and haven't signed the petition to support Christians in Iraq click the flag.

The Devil never smokes

Paul Johnson, writing in the Spectator (11 August) said…..” Ronnie Knox, on coming into a strange room would sniff and say ‘ This room smells suspiciously of never having been smoked in.’ He thought a smokeless room might carry a curse. ‘the Devil lives in Hell but he never smokes.’ “ Writing in the same piece about his schooldays Paul Johnson says, " a priest told me ‘Tobacco is essential to a celibate priesthood."

Knox used to be a regular preacher here, now what would he make of the smoking regulations?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I do not wish to be unkind to ladies but...

saturno tip to Mulier Fortis who twitches her mantilla to favourite Neanderthal. She takes a rather harsh attitude to the Reverend Gentleman, I ..... well I..., I think before I type but then I am a man!

We English don’t go in for this sort of thing

I was walking past a newsagents yesterday and a young man ran up to me greeted me and kissed my hands. Very occasionally elderly Ukrainian Catholics do this, I remember on one occasion protesting when an old man did it, his reply was, “Father I don’t know you personally, if I did, it might be that I disliked you personally but you have touched the Body of Christ, it is for love of Him, that I kiss your hands”.
This particular young man told me he was a Coptic Orthodox deacon, he had fled from persecution in Sudan, like so many of his compatriots in Brighton. He had come here because there is a Coptic Church here.

I remember years ago talking to the late Fr Michael Hollings, a gloriously liberal, in the proper sense, and holy priest. We were talking about how appalling seminaries were, he said he would abolish them and replace them by re-instituting the old minor orders of porter, reader, exorcist and acolyte, as well as tonsure and sub-deacon and put young men through these, with the proper training before teaching them theology and philosophy properly and ordaining them to the diaconate and priesthood, so the approach to the priesthood would be a gradual process. This seems, I think to be what happens in the Coptic Church, most older boys and young men are ordained to something without necessarily ever ending up as priests or even deacons, like this young man. This means that they go through a period of spiritual direction, discernment and formation even in their teens. Which means that rather than going through programmes, as we have in the west, they have a process of formation.

For us in the west this would cause problems, as like all Apostolic Churches these orders are not open to women, for the Coptic girls and women seem to join the choir. In the Coptic church, here in Brighton, there are two choirs, a liturgical one, of boys and men who sing the Liturgy proper, with drums and rattles, and a devotional one with an electric keyboard who sing devotional songs during the Liturgy. In some Eastern Churches I understand that girls or women too go through a process of formation linked to temporary consecration of their virginity, which is ended with marriage, and may be restarted on widowhood.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...