Friday, May 30, 2008

Godhead here in hiding

I took this this afternoon from the back of the church, hence the gloom, so as not to disturb the congregation .

We are going to have Benediction in the Extraordinary Form, hence the additional candles.

Mass will be offered ad orientem later.

Here you can see what the barbarians did in the 70s, the altar was put where the altar rails were and an extra bit added to the sanctuary, hence no room for my feet at the kneeler, no room for a coffin or a bride and groom.Ready for Mass

Day of Prayer for Priests

The Feast of the Sacred Heart has been designated as a Day of Prayer for Priests.

if you are in Brighton today
we have

3pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
beginning with
Divine Mercy Chaplet

Silent Exposition
Rosary at 6pm
Benediction at 6.45pm
Mass 7pm

Abandoned IVF twins

HOSPITAL workers were left stunned after a couple reportedly abandoned IVF twin girls immediately after giving birth because they weren't boys.
The couple of Indian heritage but who are British citizens living in Birmingham told medical staff directly after the Caesarean section delivery they weren't going to accept the girls as they were the "wrong sex".
The Sun reported.
The husband even reportedly asked staff at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton how soon his wife would be fit enough to fly to India to have renewed fertility treatment in an attempt to have boys to carry on the family name.
The couple had undergone IVF treatment in India because with the mother aged 59 and the father a 72-year-old they were deemed too old to undergo the procedure in Britain.
The Sun quotes a source at the hospital as saying: “Everyone is utterly appalled. How could any parent do this?
“This is Britain in the 21st century.
“But they just weren’t prepared to raise these two beautiful girls.”
Female babies are often abandoned and sometimes left for dead or killed in India by traditional families who only value male offspring.
Following the discharge of the mother, who ignored medical advice that she should rest in hospital, the babies have been transferred to another hospital in Birmingham where they have received no visitors.
British authorities have told The Sun they are investigating the matter

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Modern Church

Have a look at this video it is from NLM: after the intro it is about a Church being built by Duncan Stroik at Thomas Aquinas University.I think five years ago, it would be impossible to build a Church like this in England and Wales, now, despite the fact monstrosities are being built, there is a serious ground swell to something more traditional. It is both the Benedict effect but also the fact that buildings like this are actually being built across the pond.
Thanks, our American cousins.

New Social Encyclical in the Autumn

Cardinal Bertone has been speaking about the Pope's next encyclical.

What he said:
A new social encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI will probably be entitled Caritas in Veritate, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has revealed.
In an interview with the APCOM news agency, the Vatican Secretary of State disclosed that the Pope's next encyclical will not be ready for publication before the fall. "The encyclical is still being written," he said.
Cardinal Bertone said that Pope Benedict is also working on the second part of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The Pope typically devotes a substantial portion of his summer vacation to writing projects.
In his encyclical, the cardinal said, Pope Benedict "does not want to repeat obvious truths of Catholic social teaching," but will apply Church teachings to contemporary problems. "I am thinking of globalization and other problems, like the food crisis and climate change," Cardinal Bertone said.

Petition to HM Queen Elizabeth II on the Embryology Bill

Now I am sure Her Majesty is hardly likely to prtovoke a constitutional crisis by refusing Royal Assent to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill but this petitionis a good opportunity to demonstrate our own lack of assent, it is a further protest so sign it!
The petition was started by Burma campaigner James Mawdsley. The text of his petition follows below. To add your signature scroll down to the link at the end.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
21st May 2008
Your Majesty,
For the defence of your most vulnerable subjects, for the future of the Realm, can I beg Your Majesty not to give Royal Assent to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
By legalising animal-human hybrids, the Bill disregards the distinction between man and other animals. In this it denies our immortal soul.
By legalising the creation of saviour siblings, the Bill proclaims that man and science can deliver us from suffering even by violating fundamental ethical norms such as no person is to be used (or created) as a means to somebody else's end.
By allowing the creation of fatherless children the Bill enshrines an extreme rejection of the Father. Fatherhood is intrinsic to life, encoded in the deepest reality not only of creation but first of the uncreated Trinity.
By resisting all attempts to lower the upper limit for abortions from 24 weeks the Bill proves itself to be against God's own gift to us: life itself.
Your Majesty is the only person in the world with the temporal power to prevent this Bill from becoming an Act. Please help us.
Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, wrote of your Coronation: "Taking the orb, surmounted by the cross, [the Queen] was reminded that "the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our Redeemer;The sceptre, the supreme symbol of royal power, the ensign of kingly power and justice, was handed over simultaneously with the dove-headed rod, as a sign that justice and mercy are never to be put asunder.""
In this Fr Nichols gives your subjects tremendous hope that whenever Parliament fails grievously, our monarch may protect us from evil. Please defend us.
Yours most sincerely,
James Mawdsley and The Undersigned

Ignore the PayPal stuff, when I signed there were less than 200 signatures, glad to see one of my parishioners was first!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


So many people see conscience as a small still voice inside them of them, a little like Jiminy Cricket.
Many would assume that conscience was about doing what feels right, or what is going produce the greatest good.
The HFE debate seem to highlight a serious problem in the formation of "an informed conscience". Every human being has a duty to inform their conscience, for a Christian that is impossible apart from the Church.
In education today there is so much emphasis on developing self esteem, that self restraint is often neglected. In order to develope conscience we have to become masters of self restraint and denial.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sense of Sacred

Fr Dwight has put into words a few thoughts that have been hovering around the edge of my mind.

If we lack a sense of the sacred, we have lost something fundamental to being human and humane.

The sense of the sacred gives us a sense of where we stand in the cosmos, without it, we become less than God intended, less than human, sub-human and bestial.

Fr. Z says, "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." An overstatement by a zealous liturgy lover? Perhaps, but on the other hand, ask yourself why there is so little sense of the sacred in our lives.

Why do young people not respect their elders? Why the disintegrating social manners? Why the foul language, the commonplace crudeness? Why the lack of courtesy? Why do we not take time for nice family meals? Why the crassness and vulgarity of modern society when we have enough money to make things nice? Why the lack of self respect? Why the casual, cheap and horrible clothing we wear? Why the sloppy attitudes, sloppy language, sloppy everything?

I reckon it comes down to a lack of the sacred. If you do not believe anything is sacred, then nothing is sacred. If you do not believe there is anything to bow down to, then you never bow down. If there is nothing to worship, then there is nothing much at all. When nothing is sacred all things are equal in value. The lack of the sacred is a great and monstrous leveler.

One of the things we notice at St Mary's Greenville, (where we have made the attempt to bring back the sacred) is that the people dress up more to come to church. They also behave better in church. I reckon it filters down to the rest of life as well. Perhaps by re-sacralizing the sacred we also re-sacralize the rest of life.

Maybe, just maybe, when we bring back the sacred to our worship, all things sacred become more sacred. If we truly worship in church, should we not then value our family meals more? If we take the trouble and care over the liturgy should we not take more trouble and care over our manners, our dress, our relationships and our language?

Worship should transform our perspective on life, so all things beautiful, precious and eternal are valued in a way that is beautiful, precious and eternal.

Bring on the incense. Bring on the beautiful vestments, Sing choirs of angels, roll in the trumpets and drums. Train the noble young men to serve at the altar as if they were servants in the halls of the Great King. Help the noble young women to sing the praises of the king with fine music. Preach the word with passion and beauty. Value the liturgy and take time to worship and see if your world is not renewed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Faith and Reason

found on Creative Minority Report

Fr Robert Barron on the Pope's understanding of teaching on reason. Fr Barron addresses directly the North American experience but in can be easily extrapulated to our own.

More of Fr Barron's videos can be found in the Menu.

PO'D on Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue issued the following statement last night on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Listening to the second reading and debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons, I was saddened beyond measure. It has been said that the House of Commons is at its best when debating issues of conscience, but do I detect here a growing intolerance to listening to religious or ethical considerations? Again and again the justification given to experimenting on embryonic human beings or killing the unborn was an appeal to 'science' or 'scientific research' as if it were the only source of objective, rational knowledge. It seems that millennia of ethical and religious thought are lightly dismissed as subjective and discredited.
In contrast to the language of utilitarianism in the parliamentary debate that sought to justify the exploitation of the unborn for our economic and medical gain there arises in my heart the words of Scripture that speak prophetically of the dignity of the unborn child:

'You created my inmost self,
Knit me together in my mother's womb.
For so many marvels I thank you;
A wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.
...Your eyes could see my embryo.' (Psalm 139:13-14, 16).

Every embryonic human person is a wonder of creation, who possesses the inherent right to realise his or her potential for creativity, love, self-sacrifice, and joy. However, our society has so cheapened and violated human life that it does not hear or understand the language of wonder about the unborn.

A dangerous myth appears to be growing that the only knowledge that can inform policy- making is scientific research. Discourse and reason are impoverished when science is used to exclude other branches of knowledge, such as reasoning based on natural law.

Not only this, but we witnessed a flawed, selective approach to science, with the House choosing to ignore the hard scientific evidence provided by adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, that proves that unethical research on embryonic human persons is unnecessary.

What we saw last week in the House of Commons was the misuse of science to justify the continued exploitation and disposal of society's most vulnerable members ­ embryonic and foetal human persons.

As I understand it, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support those who promote the benefits of creating human-animal hybrids. What we witnessed in the vote allowing the creation of human-animal hybrids was a partisan act of faith that experimentation on embryos will at some distant time result in cures for Alzheimer's, MS and other diseases.

We all hope and pray that medical science will find cures for these diseases that cause such dreadful suffering, but not at the cost of de-personalising the unborn and treating them as things to be manipulated and dissected. Compassion cannot result in the exploitation and destruction of unborn human persons. It is also a misuse of science to employ medical judgements concerning the 'viability' of the unborn child's development as the only consideration that grants the most fundamental of human rights ­ the right to life.

It's farcical to think that the definition of a human person depends on being able to exist on one's own. Human life is a series of inter-related dependencies at all stages of our existence. The State has no moral right to exclude the most vulnerable stage of dependency from the legal protection granted to human life. Any State that accepts the arbitrary use of power over others is immoral. As I see it, last week's vote in the House of Commons perpetuated the immoral use of power over the unborn.

How can it be reasonable that a 12 week old foetus is treated as an unborn child or disposed of as a thing depending on the choice of the mother? Being a person is not something granted by the choice of another, but is an inherent right dependent on the fact of existence. From the moment of conception, the unborn human being is genetically unique from his or her mother and father. The unborn child is a completely new and different living being.

The Catholic Church truly cares for the well-being of women, particularly those agonising over the decision whether to continue with a pregnancy or to have an abortion. I can only imagine that the trauma of rape or the anxiety of a mother unable to cope can feel unbearable. However, I have been told that the grief and distress that many women suffer following an abortion is also unbearable. Confronted with this suffering, we must all do more to support the work of Pro-Life groups that offer counselling and practical support to women who are considering abortion or are struggling to cope after an abortion.

In its strong stand against abortion or experimentation on embryonic human persons, the Church is not saying all who have an abortion or all those who voted for this legislation are evil. But it is the Church's duty to constantly remind society that the act of intentionally killing the unborn embryo or child is always of itself evil.

I would like to personally thank all those Members of Parliament who tabled amendments and voted in defence of unborn human life. I call on all people of faith ­ Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Christian ­ who believe in the sanctity of unborn human life to join with the Catholic Church in redoubling their efforts in the continuing campaign for a change in these laws.

During the 19th century, slavers said black people weren't human. They were wrong. During the 20th century, the Nazis said Jews weren't human. They were wrong. Since 1967, the House of Commons has said the unborn are not human. They, too, are wrong.

+Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster Sunday, 25 May, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Bit Busy

But what about thinking about this?

An Oxbridge chaplain’s classic answer to such, repeated recently on the Ship and worth repeating here
Tell us about this god you don’t believe in, because it is likely that we don’t believe in that one either. But we DO believe in something that may make sense to you too.

from CBP

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Westminster Mosaics

According to the Catholic Herald Westminster Cathedral have published a scheme for mosaics for the rest of the Cathedral. Just click here for the plan. Among the scholars involved were , Fr Aidan Nichols, the Dominican, Dr Eamon Duffy, a historian at Cambridge and author of "Stripping of the Altars", and Andrew Wilton, a distinguished art historian and research fellow at Tate Britain.

I was pleased that Dr Duffey said,

"... modern mosaic schemes are often frightful, like something out of Walt Disney."
I suspect he was referring to the latest image of the Holy Family, which seems to be attempt at a sentimentalised family portrait rather than a theological statement.

Pelerin, who drew my attention to this piece, was concerned by the inclusion of pagans. I am not sure I agree with her, I want the Dies Irae at my funeral, precisely because of the refernces to pagans, who prophecy the coming of Christ, or point to the Natural Law, references sadly lacking in post-concilliar liturgy.

Its vast eschatological sweep is emphasised by a pattern of colour that proceeds from green and blue through to red and finally, at the consummation of the world, to gold. Alongside pagans such as Plato, Lucretius and Zoroaster, the design also includes a representation of Buddha.

I think it seems a good scheme, and a tribute to Mgr Mark Langham who recently annonced his retirement as Administrator.

Friday, May 23, 2008

L’Osservatore Romano on HFE Bill

(CNA).- The L’Osservatore Romano published an article this week slamming an anti-life package passed this week by Britain’s House of Commons that includes measures allowing the creation of human-animal embryos, in vitro fertilization, and artificial insemination for lesbians who want to have a child.
LOR reporter Assuntina Morresi explained in her article that the most controversial measure in the package is the approval of human-animal hybrids. “There is no demand for these embryos in the scientific community, despite reports in the media. So far only tow British groups have requested permission to create the hybrids, using egg cells from cows and adult human cells,” Morressi said.
She called the proposed research “outdated and useless,” noting that last December Ian Wilmut, the creator of the sheep Dolly, publicly announced his refusal to continue harvesting embryonic stem cells from therapeutic cloning, saying “the technique is inefficient and has never worked in humans and has done nothing but harm to animals.”
Morressi also pointed out that human-animal hybrids could not be used to treat humans because of the possibility of contamination from animal biological material. “Neither could they be used as models to study certain diseases,” she added.
In her piece, Morressi also explained that the creation of “savior babies” through in vitro fertilization would mean producing a large number of human embryos in order to pick the ones with the best genetic characteristics. The “acceptable” embryos would then be allowed to develop so that after birth their tissues could be used to help sick family members. The other embryos would be destroyed.
Labor representative Des Turner noted, “If therapeutic measures exist, it’s a moral imperative to use therapies to save lives.” But, Morressi said, “Who knows what effect being considered a ‘therapeutic measure’ would have on someone, knowing that one was born because his genetic profile was exactly what the family needed,” Morressi asked.
Orphans before they were conceived
Referring to the third measure of the controversial bill on the right of a people to have a father and a mother, Morressi said the new law doesn’t respect this right but rather only requires that it be shown someone exists that will take care of the future child. Sponsors of the measure said, “It’s the quality of being parents that matters, not gender as such,” and further claimed that current British law constitutes “discrimination against lesbian couples and single women.”
“Orphans before they were conceived, in summary: impossible for mother nature but not for the law in Great Britain,” Morressi said. “Since there needs to be sperm in the test tube, there must be a biological father, at least in theory, even if he is nothing more than a sperm producer: a number in a sperm bank catalogue, or perhaps in today’s world, a simple bar code,” she stated. Morressi ended her article with two questions: “Why persist in research that is so ethically controversial given all of the doubts from a scientific point of view? Perhaps to show that we can do research with whatever we want?”

Cardinal: make abortions rarer

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor looked at the bright side, after noting the disappointment brought by parliamentarians who voted to leave the upper time limit for Britain's abortion law at 24 weeks of gestation.

The vote rejected a proposal to lower the time limit to 12, 16, 20 or even 22 weeks, based on research showing that babies are more and more able to survive outside the womb at earlier points of gestation.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said in a Wednesday statement: "Many people [...] will have been very disappointed by the result of last night's votes on the abortion time limit. But this issue will not go away.

"While the law affects attitudes, it does not in itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law there is much we can all do to change the situation.

"There are many people on all sides of this debate who agree that 200,000 abortions a year is far too many, and abortion on this scale can only be a source of profound sadness and distress to us all."

The cardinal affirmed that abortion is not just a "personal choice. It is also about the choices our society makes to support women, their partners and families who face difficult decisions."

"For the sake of our common humanity, and the lives at stake, we must work to foster a new understanding and approach to relationships, responsibility and mutual support," he urged. "Even without a change in the law we can and should work together at least to make abortion much rarer."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

LOOK, no standing, no hands

I heard a rumour, which I dismmissed, that there was serious discussion in Rome about no renewing the indult to distribute Holy Communion in the hand, but look here, and the remember the coverage given by L'Osservatore Romano to the book by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan


Farewell Mega Mass

As someone who wonders what I am doing when sitting in the transcept of the cathedral putting my hand out when everyone else does and muttering the words of consecration, having to take on faith that there is something there. I have been hoping that the Pope was going to say something.
You see Jesus said, "This is my Body", not "That is ..,.".
Well, Father Z has this:

from the Italian Panorama.
Farewell to big time Masses – The Pope to place limit celebrationsNo more big "show" Masses: The Pope want to put the brakes on huge concelebrations with hundreds of priests, often far from the altar, as we are now used to in the World Youth Days and papal journeys. Benedict XVI has entrusted to the Congregation for Divine Worship the task of preparing, if necessary, an "instruction".Concelebrations will be limited to precise circumstances with a reduced number of priests around the altar. The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium fixed the cases in which it was permitted to concelebrate. "It is necessary to return to the original meaning of concelebration, which is the sign of unity of priests", explained Msgr. Nichola Bux, a professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia.

Ahh! Charismatics!

Say a prayer for a South American young woman who became involved with Charismatic group, she was sent to London, only to discover it was a front for people trafficking, and prostitution. She escaped but she told of me of others, including a thirteen year old girl still kept in the house she was in.

I am not giving any more details, but pray!
I really am beginning to think that the Charismatic movement is of not of God, but of the Devil.

Archlutes and sackbutts on Sundays: impossible!

The Pope will celebrate Corpus Christi, today, thus linking this Thursday to Holy Thursday.

"They just want to dumb down the liturgy. If you can get them, archlutenists and sackbutt players, to say nothing of soloists, are on double pay, it is impossible on a Sunday."

So said a priest of a certain London parish to me recently. He was moaning about, yes, I am sorry to go on about it again, the movement of Holy Days to Sundays.

We could never afford to put on a Baroque Mass, with original instruments but moving Corpus Christi to Sundays mean that it becomes impossible to have continuous Exposition, which was something I had been building up over the years, having a procession on after our main Sunday Mass is impossible unless we cancel the Polish Mass, and they wouldn't like that.

The problem in practice is that moving these great feasts to Sunday, is far from, "giving them a greater prominence" is that they just get lost, different vestments, different hymns, maybe. Partying is a bit difficult too.

At our cathedral in Arundel, the Apostolic Nuncio and our bishop will celebrate a votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist followed by a procession. The pictures are of last years.

Pope on Romanus the Melodist

( - The artistic heritage of the Church is a resource for Christians of all eras, Pope Benedict XVI said at his weekly public audience on May 21.

"If faith is alive, Christian culture does not become a thing of the past," the Holy Father told his Wednesday audience. "Cathedrals are not medieval monuments, but places where we can meet God and one another. Great music-- Gregorian chants, Bach, Mozart-- are not things of the past." The Holy Father based his address on the life and work on Romanus the Melodist, a Syrian "theologian, poet, composer, and permanent deacon" of the 6th century. He said that Romanus belonged to "that sizeable group of theologians who transformed theology into poetry," along with St. Ambrose, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. John of the Cross among others."

Romanus the Melodist taught the people through his music, the Pope continued; his hymns provided "a lively and original way of presenting the catechesis." Today those hymns provide insights into both the music and the theology of his generation. "This great poet and composer reminds us of all the wealth of Christian culture which was born of faith, born of hearts that encountered Christ," the Pope said.

Among the important messages in the hymns of Romanus, the Pontiff mentioned the continuity between Christ and his apostles, ensured by the Holy Spirit, and the critical importance for each Christian to prepare for the Final Judgment.
Text of the Holy Father's speech.

The May 21 papal audience was held in the Paul VI auditorium. Before meeting the crowd there, Pope Benedict met briefly with another group in the Vatican basilica, to greet those who were not able to attend the general audience because of the limited seating in the auditorium.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I can't find words

I cannot find words to express my disappointment at the passing of the HFE bill, I think Fr Richard is in the same position, he chooses "The Second Coming" by Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Iraqi bishops oppose execution of prelate's convicted killer

( - Catholic bishops in Iraq have announced their opposition to the execution of a man convicted of killing Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho, the AsiaNews service reports.
After a court sentenced Ahmad Ali Ahmad to death for his part in the kidnapping and death of Archbishop Rahos, two other prelates of the Chaldean Catholic Church said that the deceased archbishop himself would have opposed the use of the death sentence.
"We are in favor of justice, but not of capital punishment," said Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk. Bishop Shlemon Warduni, an auxiliary in Baghdad, agreed, saying that Archbishop Raho was totally dedicated to reconciliation and peace rather than further bloodshed.
Catholic leaders in Iraq pointed out that authorities had not yet answered any important questions about the kidnapping of Archbishop Raho from his home in Mosul. Among those questions, they pointed out, were the motives of the kidnappers and the Ahmad, the man convicted of the killing, and other members of the terrorist group connected with Al Qaida in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Crescat has some wonderful photographs, the alabaster is presumable one of those from Ipswich that were mass produced before the protestant reformation, there is a wonderful collect in theV&A, most have lost their colour.

I wish I knew where her pictures of Orthodoxy came from.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Archbishop off message

I thought I misheard, but the Archbishop of Birmingham actually did say,

“…What we’ve been trying to say all along is ‘What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings?’ Now clearly it’s not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me…”

I thought senility had crept in on me or it was those wicked BBC people, but no, see John Smeaton, he heard it too.
Not quite that helpful at the moment, Your Grace.

Thousands of women have four abortions

Figures uncovered by the Telegraph show that almost 4,000 women have had at least four abortions. In a "grotesquely bleak" picture of British society, scores of women have had at least eight terminations.
The figures emerged as the row over controversial changes to fertility law erupted into a bitter war of words, with a minister accusing "anti-abortion" MPs of trying to "hijack" legislation.
On the eve of a crucial Commons vote, Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, accused Tory backbenchers of an underhand attempt to remove the right to abortion by tabling amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

In an interview with the Telegraph, she also accused MPs who oppose the creation of hybrid embryos of putting forward "extreme and untrue arguments".
Nadine Dorries, the MP leading the campaign to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks, hit back at the criticism, while revealing that she has received hate mail over her stance. Miss Primarolo made her comments as the Government braced itself for a difficult two days of debate on the Bill, which has been denounced by Christian MPs and clerics.

HFEB: Hamster Test

a letter from Pauline Gately

During the Second Reading debate five MPs, including Alan Johnson, implied that the so-called “hamster test” was a sufficient precedent for permitting the creation of “true” hybrid embryos (using animal egg and human sperm or vice versa) under this Bill. (There has been a deafening silence in the media on the true hybrid issue with the focus of debate being on so-called “cybrids” formed by adding a human nucleus to an animal egg from which the nucleus has been removed – such entity is then claimed to be 99.9% human).

This needs to be challenged if the legalisation of true hybrids is to be prevented on Monday. David Jones, Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University College, has hastily written a paper on this

The hamster test was sanctioned under the first HFE Act 1990 and is used to test human sperm. Human sperm is introduced to a hamster egg and the fertilisation process is observed but not allowed to be completed (or so Parliament was assured at the time) so that an embryo is not actually created (even were that scientifically possible with two such fundamentally different species). But the Bill’s apologists are now using this spurious precedent to defend, for example, permission under the Bill for the fertilisation of human egg with chimpanzee sperm. Scientifically, this is much more likely to result in an embryo and may be kept for up to 14 days. This is the essence of David’s paper with full referencing.

It would be good to flag up this with your MP and spread the word.

Please also take a look at this superb article in The Tablet. Professor Scolding is Burden Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Bristol University. Worth lobbing in whole or part at any MPs that are still open to reason.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I get jealous when I see scaffolding around other people's Churches. Over the last eight years I have paid off our debts and we actually have £30,000 in the bank. The most that there has been ever. When I go into the Church to pray I am distracted by the lino that needs tacking down to stop accidents and wonder how much longer it is going to have to last. The altar needs raising, no one sees it if there are four fat ladies in the front pew. The lighting that was put in 20 years ago, as a temporary measure, its predecessor having been condemned, needs replacing. The paint work is peeling off the walls, everything including carved stone, was painted in 1970 in grey paint, the sort of acrylic stuff you find in public lavatories. The sanctuary carpet has holes in it, the radiators are rusting, the stained glass needs restoration, the mullions of the west window need serious work.
Fr Sean posted this video, now, I am not sure if I am jealous, or if this conspicuous and vulgar overspending.
If anyone has an odd £125,000 or $250,000, or more, cheques can be made out to "St Mary Magdalen (restoration fund)".

Saturday, May 17, 2008

But is it Catholic?

Philip has a piece on the Catholic Children's Society.

Does anyone know quite what the situation?

That is me!

Jeannette (many thanks) russled me up a cake for the anniversary of my ordination.
It is the first time I have been sculpted.
It is very realistic, and flattering, everyone says so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Extending Abortion to Northern Ireland

I was asked to publicise this:

Next Tuesday (20 May) some MPs plan to table amendments to the HFE Bill aimed at introducing abortion on demand and extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
It is vital that these amendments are defeated. The evidence suggests that the easier it is to obtain an abortion, the more abortions there are. Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the BPAS (the largest provider of abortions in the UK) admits this, calling UK abortion law “one of the most liberal in the way it is interpreted”, adding “although the Act does not formally permit abortion ‘on request’ that is what it has allowed in practice.”
England and Wales have some of the highest abortion rates in the EU and there is widespread agreement that these figures are too high. Survey after survey shows that most British people believe that there are too many abortions and that abortions are too easy to obtain.

1. There is strong opposition to abortion in Northern Ireland. Pro-choice activists know their only hope is for MPs in Westminster to impose legal abortion in Northern Ireland against the wishes of the electorate. The people of Northern Ireland should determine their own laws on abortion. It would be undemocratic for Westminster to impose its model of permissive abortion on the Province.
2. Currently an abortion requires the approval of two doctors. This imposes at least a minimum of time for reflection before the decision to abort. Next week’s amendment will take away even that. The requirement should be for even more time for reflection not less.
Please email your MPs asking them to resist both of these amendments. If you do not know who your local MP is or how to contact him/her, feel follow the link below which will allow you to email them directly:
Remember to include your name, address and postcode.

You may want to include the following points:
Between 1996 and 2006 (the last year for which figures are available), there was an increase in the total number of abortions of around 20% from 167,916 to 193,737
In England and Wales the abortion rate stands at 17.5 per thousand women. In Northern Ireland where abortion is legally restricted it is 3.75 per thousand, or about one fifth that of England and Wales.
The government’s strategy to reduce abortions is focused on making contraception more readily available but this is failing. In 2006 there was 4% rise in abortions and for the first time 19 year olds became the single largest group having abortions.
The only way to reduce abortions is by making abortions harder not more easy. Please do not forget to contact your MPs, as this will be the most important act of legislation since 1990. If you don’t make your voice count now, you won’t have a second chance.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: letter

This might be avery useful resource for sending to you MP, remember the vote next week:

Sir, We are convinced that stem-cell research is a highly promising area of science offering potential for new methods of treating many serious diseases. We welcome legal acceptance, public and private funding, and international co-operation for a range of stem-cell research.
But we also wish to caution against false optimism and unrealistic claims for as yet unproven avenues of research. It is irresponsible, unjustified and, especially, unfair to patients for researchers to claim without evidence that a refusal to fund, to license or to approve a particular research approach will “delay treatments for incurable illnesses”.

In particular, given the current state of more conventional embryonic stem-cell research, of adult stem-cell research, and of induced pluripotent stem-cell research, there is no demonstrable scientific or medical case for insisting on creating, without any clear scientific precedent, a wide spectrum of human-non-human hybrid entities or “human admixed embryos”.

We therefore question the scientific validity of proposals to create such embryonic combinations currently before the UK Parliament. We note with concern that, though not widely reported, the Bill does not just propose licensing so-called cybrids (99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent other species). It also proposes that embryos “created by using human gametes and animal gametes” (50 per cent human, 50 per cent other species) or human embryos “altered by the introduction of one or more animal cells” (ie, any percentage of human material) could be created under licence (UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2007-08, Section 4A(5) and Schedule 2. 3(3)).

All such proposals are highly speculative in comparison to established sources of human stem cells, and we remain unaware of any cogent evidence suggesting any might yield significant therapeutic dividend.

As scientists and clinicians actively involved in stem-cell research and regenerative medicine, we do not hold a single common view about the relative merits, ethics and potential of adult v (conventional) embryonic stem cells. But we all believe that extravagant claims regarding the purported merits of human-non-human interspecies embryos are mistaken and misleading, and that such research would damage public confidence and support, to the detriment both of the cause of stem-cell science and, ultimately, of patients.

Prof Neil Scolding, Bristol
Prof Michael Chopp, Detroit
Prof Dr Wolfgang M. Franz, Munich
Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, Queensland
Professor T. John Martin, Melbourne
Dr Rodney L. Rietze, Queensland
Prof Dennis McGonagle, Leeds
Prof Dr Bodo-Eckehard Strauer, Düsseldorf
Professor Gianni Angelini, Bristol
Dr Roger Barker, Cambridge
Dr Maureen L. Condic, Utah
Prof Dr Ursula Just, Kiel
Prof Dimitris Karussis, Jerusalem
Dr Letizia Mazzini, Piedmont
Dr Jean Peduzzi-Nelson, Detroit
Dr Carlos Lima, Lisbon

There is another letter in The Telegraph, with another long list of acaedemic names

Bonjour Monique

The blond girl in the blue shirt, in corner of the photograph is Monique du Pont, she used to pester me to join the annual Paris to Chartres Pilgrimage. I have always wanted to, well not the walk, sleeping in the field, singing in French Ging gang goolie bit but just being their. This is one of the most exuberant youth events in France. See the pictures here courtesy of Monique



Gosh, L'Animateur, even in the traddie world you can't get away from them!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How much longer?

Every blog seems to have had a go at Mrs "B's" "contraceptive eqipment", the mind boggles. Paulinus also notes this:

When the Blairs moved into Downing Street, a feng shui expert rearranged the furniture at Number 10. Cherie wears a 'magic pendant' known as the BioElectric Shield, which is filled with 'a matrix of specially cut quartz crystals' that surround the wearer with 'a cocoon of energy' and ward off evil forces. (It was given to her by Hillary Clinton, another political spouse who combines the characteristic Third Way vices of sharp practice and bone-headedness). Then there have been inflatable Flowtron trousers, auricular therapy and acupuncture pins in the ear.

There was of course that Aztec rebirthing ritual t took part on a holiday in Mexico, "New Tony" after Tone had previously given birth to "New Labour". Let us say nothing of condom promotion at the Labour Party Conference.
In our multi-ethnic and diverse community it all makes it rather difficult when I try to discourage people from wearing talismans to keep off the evil eye when they come up for Holy Communion. There is something in the First Commandment about this, isn't there?
How much longer can we tolerate "leading" Catholics being lauded by eminent clergy, when their beliefs and practice give public scandal to the ordinary man and women in the pew? The silence itself is scandalous.
The Catholic Faith is not value free!

I will not retract. I am a Catholic.

Fritz Michael Gerlich, a German convert to Catholicism, systematically denounced the Nazi barbarism and Hitler for over 13 years. After his arrest, he was sent to the concentration camp of Dachau where he was killed.

(CNA).- In the latest edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Gaetano Vallini chronicles Gerlich’s story, explaining that in 1923 while working for the newspaper "Münchener Neueste Nachrichten", Gerlich denounced “one of the most serious betrayals in German history,” referring to Hitler’s failed attempt to take power on November 8 of that year.
Gerlich said Hitler was an “idiot,” but a dangerous one, because he knew how to manipulate others into doing what he wanted them to do. In 1927, Gerlich’s life took an unexpected turn. Used to living as an agnostic, he met Therese Neumann—who died in 1962 and whose cause for beatification is in process. She was known for bearing the stigmata and for having survived for 35 years without food or water, living only on the Eucharist. Through his encounter with her, Gerlich embraced the faith and was baptized on September 29, 1931, taking the name of Michael.
Gerlich was not allowed to express his opinions in his articles and so he decided to found a new publication entitled "Illustrierter Sonntag", in which he continued to criticize Hitler. After this publication was closed down, he founded “Der gerade Weg” in 1932, in which he warned of the coming barbarism of Hitler.
In one of his more outspoken editorials he described Hitler as full of hatred and surrounded by a group of people “who all share one common objective: the desire to destroy.”
He also warned of the Nazi’s anti-Semitic plans to proclaim “a new religion on the basis of the myth of race.” As the elections were held which put Hitler in power, Gerlich wrote: “Those who don’t vote today assume a grave responsibility before God, their children and their children. And moreover we say: it is the duty of every Catholic to vote for the parties that defend the eternal principles of the Church.”
On March 9, 1933, he was arrested, despite his plan to flee to Switzerland. “I am ready to respond with my life for what I have written. I will not retract. I am a Catholic,” he proclaimed.
Fritz Michael Gerlich was killed at the Dachau concentration camp on June 30, 1934.

The Alien is my Brother

A Superior of a certain London community, who is also a "trekkie",will be delighted.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."

In the interview by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Funes said that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures. Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom, he said.

The interview, headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother," covered a variety of topics including the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and science, and the theological implications of the existence of alien life.

Funes said science, especially astronomy, does not contradict religion, touching on a theme of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy.

The Bible "is not a science book," Funes said, adding that he believes the Big Bang theory is the most "reasonable" explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory says the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter.

But he said he continues to believe that "God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the result of chance."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green the Time of the Holy Spirit

Everyone knows the story of Pope Paul VI going into the sacristy on the Monday after Pentecost and seeing green vestments laid out for him, "Where is the red for the Octave of Pentecost? he asked. "But Holy Father you abolished it." Apparently the burst into tears.

I personally would like the restoration of the Octave.

In the Orthodox world green is the colour of Pentecost, though they are less regularity about liurgical colours, churches are filled with foliage, and occassionally green hangings.

Green signifies fecundity. Thus green time, now known as Ordinary Time, used to be known as the Time after Pentecost. It was the time when the Holy Spirit was gently at work sanctifying, healing,slowly building up the Church. This is really the season of Pentecost, we look for the fantastic or miraculous but actually the Holy Spirit in most people's lives is the silent power of sanctification, causing the branches of the Holy Vine to grow, flower and fruit.

Dr Mary Berry RIP

Mary Berry, Sr Thomas More, the musicologist brought a schola along to sing at a Requiem here a couple of years ago here own Requiem took place at Dorchester Abbey yesterday, NLM has a brief account.
The photographs are from here, by Brother Laurence Lew OP, where there are more. It looks like a funeral to die for, one can only imagine the music!

Irena Sendler:Righteous Amongst the Nations

NY Times
Irena Sendler, a Roman Catholic who created a network of rescuers in Poland who smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto in World War II, some of them in coffins, died Monday in Warsaw. She was 98.
The death was confirmed by Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that supports rescuers of Holocaust victims.
Mrs. Sendler was head of the children’s bureau of Zegota, an underground organization set up to save Jews after the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Soon after the invasion, approximately 450,000 Jews, about 30 percent of Warsaw’s population, were crammed into a tiny section of the city and barricaded behind seven-foot-high walls.
On April 19, 1943, the Nazis began what they expected would be a rapid liquidation of the ghetto. It took them more than a month to quell the Warsaw ghetto uprising. By then, only about 55,000 Jews were still alive; most of them were sent to death camps.
Also by then, however, Mrs. Sendler’s group of about 30 volunteers, mostly women, had managed to slip hundreds of infants, young children and teenagers to safety.
“She was the inspiration and the prime mover for the whole network that saved those 2,500 Jewish children,” Debórah Dwork, the Rose professor of Holocaust history at Clark University in Massachusetts, said Monday. Professor Dwork, the author of “Children With a Star” (Yale University Press, 1991), said about 400 children had been directly smuggled out by Mrs. Sendler.
Elzbieta Ficowska, a baby in 1942, was one of them. “Mrs. Sendler saved not only us, but also our children and grandchildren and the generations to come,” Ms. Ficowska told The Associated Press last year.
There were several ruses by which the children were saved. Mrs. Sendler was a social worker for the city, with a pass that allowed her to enter the ghetto. “The Jews were all disease carriers, as far as the Nazis were concerned,” Professor Dwork said. “They put up quarantine signs throughout the ghetto.” Forgeries of the government pass allowed other members of Zegota to enter the ghetto as well. They went in day after day to persuade Jewish parents to let them rescue children.
The most common escape route, Professor Dwork said, was through the Warsaw Municipal Law Courts, which abutted the ghetto.
“There were underground corridors that had entrances on the ghetto side,” she said. “The Polish police were bribed to allow the traffic. Parents were told to dress the children as well as possible, certainly without wearing a star.”
For a time, the ghetto’s boundaries extended to the Jewish cemetery. “Some children were placed in coffins, their mouths taped, or they were sedated so they wouldn’t cry,” said Ms. Stahl, of the Jewish foundation. “Other children were smuggled out in potato sacks.”
Sometimes an ambulance wagon, with a driver accompanied by a dog, took children through the gates. “Children were under the floorboard,” Ms. Stahl said. “The barking dog would drown out a child’s cries.”
A church straddled the ghetto border. “Children would be taken into the church, go into the confessional, and come out with papers as a little Catholic,” Ms. Stahl said. They would be taken to a Christian home, a convent or an orphanage.
In a letter last year to the Polish Senate after her country finally honored her efforts, Mrs. Sendler wrote, “Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.”
In 1965, Mrs. Sendler became one of the first of the so-called righteous gentiles honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Poland’s Communist leaders did not allow her to travel to Israel; she was presented the award in 1983.
Irena Krzyzanowska was born in Otwock, in what is now Poland, on Feb. 15, 1910. Her father was a physician. Her marriage to Mieczyslaw Sendler ended in divorce after World War II. Her second husband, Stefan Zgrzembski, died before her. She is survived by her daughter, Janka, and a granddaughter.
Mrs. Sendler once told Ms. Stahl that she wanted to write a book about the bravery of Jewish mothers.
“She said,” Ms. Stahl recalled, “ ‘Here I am, a stranger, asking them to place their child in my care. They ask if I can guarantee their safety. I have to answer no. Sometimes they would give me their child. Other times they would say come back. I would come back a few days later and the family had already been deported.’ ”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wear a Maniple, save the Priesthood

Fr Z, twice and Fr Tim both talk about maniples. Sets of vestments I have bought recently, even startling modern ones all have maniples. Nowadays they are not in the list vestments for the ordinary form, neither have they been abrogated. In the last few months if they are there I occasionally tend to wear them. They are irritating, dangling on your left arm, flapping away throughout mass.
When I wore one on Holy Thursday a server asked me what it was, I told him, he misheard and said, "Oh a manacle". In a way Joe was right.

The origin of the vestment seems to be related to the ancient magistrates nappa, a sign of office, but still a towel or napkin, stylised yes. It seems to be more ancient than the stole. Sub-deacons were vested with it at their ordination, the prayer that accompanies vesting with it speaks of labour, drudgery even:

Grant, O Lord, that I may bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow, so that I may receive the reward for my labours with rejoicing

Its connection with the subdiaconate (abolished by the Council) would suggest it was a vestment denoting servitude. The modern secular equivalent would be the waiters cloth. In France, at one time in the best restaurants every junior waiter wore a white one over his left arm. It should be seen as the foot washing slave's towel. In terms of John's Gospel therefore it is, as I have said before on this blog, it is the sign of "the one who came to serve, not to be served".
It is an interest comment on the priesthood that the irritating stylised towel suggestive of servility is only worn by eccentrics, whereas the sign of priestly power, the stole, is often the only vestment worn by many.
Let's rediscover the servant and wear a maniple! I am being a little frivolous but we priests do need to identify with being servant, slaves even of Christ and his Church, wearing his "manacle".
So to parody Fr Zuhlsdorf "Wear a Maniple, save the Priesthood".


I have been thinking what Pope Benedict said about the UN's duty to intervene to protect human rights. James Mawdsley on his thought provoking blog Ecce Mater Tua explores this a little, James knows Burma well, in fact he was imprisoned and sentenced to 17 years in jail there for distributing pro-democracy leaflets in 1999.
Scroll down there are quite a few good thing on his blog.

Fr John Loughlin And Fr Bill Miller IC

Congratulations to both these priest who were ordained 24 years today. Fr John in Middlesbrough and Fr Bill, in the US of A, in Peoria I think. They both studied with me at Wonersh, Ialways regret I wasn't at their ordination, but I was doing something slightly better, getting ordained myself.

3,000 Assyrians Received into the Catholic Church

The Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter and Paul has formally received into its fold, those members of the Assyrian Catholic Apostolic Diocese who, under the leadership of Mar Bawai Soro (pictured above), had asked to be reconciled with the Catholic Church last January 17, 2008.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Old Bailey records

Diogenies has been lookng at the trials surrounding the Titus Oates plot on the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, here is an extract:

Daniel Macarty an Irish man being Indicted upon the Statute of 27 Eliz. for having taken Order from the See of Rome, and coming over into England being Impeached by one Alice Turner who had formerly been his proselyte. And upon Information one Mr. Stiff a Constable in St. Giles's taking with him some other Neighbours, went to Apprehend him, and having entred the House where he was said to lodg, They found him Confessing a Sick Woman, who no sooner seeing them begin roughly to handle her Priest but cryed out, O what will you rob me of my Salvation.
That unnamed woman deserves admiration, even four centuries after the fact.

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...