Saturday, October 13, 2007

I do not normally attack brother priests, but...

That anti-Catholic film, Elizabeth: the Golden Age is apparently out in the US, according to the National Catholic Register it is worst than I had first thought, this is the second of a series, the first was apparently pretty bad, this exceeds it.

What I find amazing is the Mgr Mark Langham, the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral exalted with joy when it was filmed in the Cathedral, see his blog, since then there has been no apology, no sign of regret, not even a suggestion of "I might have made a mistake". I know you will remember that Mgr Langham was also responsible for the use of the Cathedral for the 99 Names of Allah concert, and also for the launch of Archer's book the Gospel of Judas, these two certainly did little good to the Church in this country, the film however damages the Church thoughout the world. It also does a disservice to truth, which should be improtant to us Catholics.

The use of the English Mother Church, would suggest that the Cardinal and hierarchy were actually supportive of the film's message, I really can't believe that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor would have been in agreement with the filming of such an anti-Catholic piece of propaganda in his own Cathedral but I can accept that he was not properly briefed: who should have briefed him, surely Mgr Langham.

I can accept that Mgr Langham made a mistake, I find it quite unacceptable that he refuses to acknowledge it. This type of arrogance does the Church in this country no good whatsoever.
When the news broke about this film in the English Catholic blogosphere, so many people said they had sent a comment to Mgr's blog, I did, but only two appeared, one condemnatory and the other was this:

peter sheppard & neil said...
I think Msgr Lanfham has pretty well getting this film, he deserves our support and should be congratulated
I think Peter Sheppard, or Shepard, is the deputy chair of the Friends of the Cathedral! I guess it must have been the only positive comment he received.

The stir this film will make worldwide might have some inpact on the choice of the Cardinal's successor, it certainly does the present incumbent no positive service, except to indicate a problem at the very heart of his diocese and under his very nose, one his successor, I hope, will speedily resolve.


gemoftheocean said...

Ah. "That man" is at it again. Seems to me there was someone else about 65 years ago give or take that was also referred to as "That man." He was a mouth piece for the other side too. William Joyce. I believe you English knew him as Lord Haw-Haw.

A while back over the 99 names controversy a number of us in the blogosphere posted a few commentaries on his blog that kept getting deleted. He or a minion or two was kept busy deleting them - even the mildest of rebukes, put in the gentlest form of admonitions.

I don't have the energy to look it up, but somewhere in Proverbs it says: "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly."

I think now we say: "A leopard doesn't change his spots." Personally, I'm going with Proverbs. Proverbs also says: "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass and a rod for the back of fools." But I think you've done away with corporal punishment! The occasional verbal lashing would do a few people some good.

Anonymous said...

Is the cathedral so desperate for money? I am reminded of the only time the scriptures record Jesus as being angry; it was when His Father's house was not treated with respect. Money was involved there too.


Anonymous said...

Was Mr Shepard responsible for the filming in the Cathedral? I understand he and his partner are very much into that kind of arts scene.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, again, for raising another very important matter.

I know it cannot be easy for a fellow priest to exercise fraternal correction, but it seems to me that it is a charitable act to have done so. I support all of your comments.

Anonymous said...

The high handed approach of the Monsignor reminds me of the same attitude taken by the heriarchy when they covered up child abuse. No appology, no suggestion that their critics might have a point, no suggestion that they might be wrong.

leutgeb said...

How grim.

It will be seen by some that the Catholic Church in England is agreeing with however we have been misrepresented in the film.

Will they give everyone a free copy of 'The Stripping of the Altars,' as they leave?

Some people don't seem to get that you cannot square Catholicism with the British Establishment and the Zeitgeist. It all went wrong in 1535.

Anonymous said...

Why do those in positions of seniority in the Catholic Church of this country think that sucking up to the Protestant Establishment is the way to advance the Catholic faith in England and Wales? The Scots don't seem to make the same mistake.

JARay said...

I know that agreeing with you here, Father, will have no bearing on the matter but I am (and was) disgusted by the responses posted by the said Monsignor.
I wrote a letter to the Pope. I have done so before. I have no means of knowing if my letter even got to him but I could not sit by and let this kind of thing pass without some protest.


JARay said...

My letter to the Pope listed the making of this film, the 99 names and the publication called "The Gift of Scripture" which imputes that all of Scripture is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. This being condemned by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1904.


Anonymous said...

'The Stripping of the Altars' has already happened at the Cathedral under the good Father!!

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

I have a strong feeling that blogs like yours, Fr. Tim Finigan’s and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s (and Damian Thompson’s for that matter) have a wide readership in the Vatican. Nothing that gets reported in these blogs and none of the comments go unnoticed. In fact, the blogosphere may be a much better way of getting through to the very highest levels in the Church than sending letters to the Holy Father or to the Congregation of Bishops or Divine Worship, which I think is a bit like children writing to Father Christmas—someone will eventually send you a polite boilerplate response if you are prepared to wait, but how much is actually taken in?

Blogs are a fantastic way for senior Vatican officials to find out exactly what is going on at the battlefront because blogs don’t allow intermediaries (bishops, nuncios, diocesan bureaucrats) to interpose themselves and their agendas and filter the news accordingly.

Long live this new form of "authentic participation" in the life of the Church and the fruitful empowerment of the laity that it facilitates.

Anonymous said...

Good comment Francis - I agree with all you say. The blogosphere is the battlefield, it is the front line. The troopers who are fighting and taking casualties are reporting and commenting on what they see, hear and experience first hand. Thank God the blogosphere is NOT blighted by what the 'generals' censor and want reported in the catholic media. This is why Msgr Langham has lost credibility despite what he writes on Solomon blah blah blah...

Sorry mate, it just doesn't wash!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I rejected your comment,
I am sure you are right but there are libel laws!

Phil said...

My comment was the second critical one and did live for a few hours before being 'snuffed'. My link to the post also went the same way.

There is always much talk about the need for funds, ergo, the cathedral being used for this sort of thing; but then, in the same breath, there is talk about glorifying the domes, etc.

Let's glorify (and defend) the Faith, before worrying about mosaics. It is firstly a cathedral, not a museum or art gallery.

Anonymous said...

Could we please lay off the ad hominem against Mgr. Langham? I think it is unreasonable to pretend that his position as Cathedral Administrator means he is not severely constrained by the milieu in which he has to operate.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that it is not Monsignor Langham who is responsible for this film, the 99 Nmaes, the Judas Gospel. You speak of the milieu of the cathedral, are you actually suggesting that it is the Cardinal himself that should be the object of my scorn, those who posted comments and Fr Blake, do you have inside information?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am intrigued by what you say about "his position as Cathedral Administrator means he is not severely constrained by the milieu in which he has to operate." I am also intigued by your identity.
It does indeed suggest you are suggesting Mgr Langham is not in control, and either His Emminence is responsible, or something more sinister is happening at the Cathedral.
Whatever it does not alter the fact this fim is highly damaging to the Church, to our history and to the truth, it is a disgrace that permission was given for it to take place.
If you are suggesting there is something rotten at the very core, that it is not simply one man, give more information and I will be more than happy to write to Mgr Langham and apologise and post an apology here.

On the side of the angels said...

I did the same as Philip a few months ago, Msgr Langham [bless his blacker than black fuligen priestly socks] - doesn't appreciate criticism and is reticent to publish anything he doesn't like - he was less than polite when I criticised the expenditure [i.e.alleged running costs] of the cathedral.
He's an affable sort; but I think he takes his purported 'role' a little too seriously ;and compromises who he really is 'in public' in the process.

Anonymous said...

You enter delicate ground by identifying Peter Sheppard as a supporter of Mgr Langham. He and Damian Thompson are close friends and regular associates. The murk at the cathedral has many odd pools.

Anonymous said...

Father -

I'm not sure what my identity has to do with it; I don't write from the position of a knowledgeable insider, although I have known Mgr. Langham for some years and have a great deal of respect for him. It has saddened me that Catholics have been so quick to hurl personal abuse at him over the 99 Names, the Jusas Gospel and now this film; I don't remember anyone rushing to support his when he wrote to the Tablet in protest against the loss of the Holy Days of Obligation.

It seems basic common sense to me that he is severely constrained by the milieu in which he has to operate; I doubt whether a Cathedral Administrator has even the same freedom of decision making as a parish priest. For a start, there is the Chapter of Canons, who presumably have not inconsiderable input, there is the Man in Red who lives next door (I am not trying to put all of the blame onto the Cardinal, but I find it hard to imagine any of the aforementioned events taking place if His Eminence had objected to them) and, perhaps above all, there is the very real necessity of finding eyewatering amounts of money just to open the doors every day and switch the lights on.

Yes, of course, principles should matter more than money, but one of Monsignor Langham's guiding principles has been to avoid going down the road of charging for entry like Westminster Abbey.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with the decisions to allow those events to take place in the Cathedral or its Hall, but I do think the level of personal attack on Mgr. Langham (not only here, but elsewhere in the blogosphere) has been unwarranted.

Fr Ray Blake said...

You might well be right on the Cathedral Administrator; but on his blog Mgsr Langham never distances himself from these events.

I am afraid if I was asked to make my Church available for Elizabeth: the Golden Age, or something similar, I would have resigned and certainly not greeted it with glee on my blog. If he were not in favour of this film then he should have done the same, if voice is not heard at the Cathedral, then he should ask for another appointment, until that time he is the public face ot the Cathedral and has to accept responsibility for what goes on there.

The Cardinal is not unreasonable, he used to be my bishop, he expects to be brief, he doesn't always listen, sometimes you need to shout at him, at least metaphorically, something which Mgr Langham, I am sure, is quite capable of doing.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry - I didn't intend for my last to be anonymous; I just forgot to fill in "Name" before hitting "Publish".

I am not saying that Mgr. Langham is nothing to do with these decisions, because I have no idea. All I am saying is that common sense suggests that he is unlikely to have been in a position to have made these decisions alone. And if these decisions were made in consultation with others, it is hardly an example of collective responsibility to rush to one's blog and say, "It wasn't me, folks, the decision was forced on me." I guess one of the perks of the post of administrator is to carry the can.

That said, I still think it is sad that Catholics cannot find a way to disagree with other Catholics without indulging in personal attacks. The Holy Father asked that the provisions of his Motu Proprio be carried out "in peace and serenity". I think a bit of "peace and serenity" wouldn't go amiss here either.

Fr Ray Blake said...

As I said, if I had been responsible for the Church in which this film had been made I would have resigned.
This film is essentially anti-Catholic, and does the Church no service, it was pretty obvious it would follow on from its "pre-quel", which was bad enough, though not as bad as this, the Golden Age.
Collective responsibility is fine, it means responsibility with others, it does mean hiding from one's own responsibility.
If the responsibility is the Chapter's, you are the first person to suggest this, then Administrator and they have a public duty towards some form of transparency. Surely we have learnt that from the shame brought us by the sex-abuse cases and the dangers of the lack of transparency from which they stemmed.
People really do have a right to know, the clergy are their servants not their masters!

Anonymous said...

I see you are quoted in the Telegraph 2nd Nov. your fame is spreading

Anonymous said...

I have today received this email from a friend. The day is question was 9th November, the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran basilica. The Pope's own Church.

"I went to Westminster Cathedral this evening for the 5.30pm Mass. The side door was locked and the front door had a security guard barring my entry. “There’s a concert on”, he said. “Mass is in the Cathedral Hall”. A shabby, hastily-prepared, altar on the stage had been set up.

The Cathedral music diary for Friday 9th Nov. said there are “No Sung Liturgies in the Cathedral Today”.

Today’s Gospel was that of Christ driving the money lenders out of the temple – a subject on which the priest gave a rousing sermon, apparently unaware of the irony. The Gospel acclamation for the day was: “I have chosen and consecrated this house, says the Lord, for my name to be there forever.”

By the way, tickets for the Bach Choir concert ranged from £35 to £6 (with restricted view)."

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