Friday, October 31, 2008

A Bit of Chesterton

He used to come to Mass here.

Stephen Hawkins and the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI greets British professor Stephen Hawking during a meeting of scientists, theologians and philosophers at the Vatican today to discuss the origins of the cosmos.

Between the Anvil and the Hammer

I remember an old parish priest doing the normal parish priestly thing and moaning about his bishop, or more accurately moaning about all those high blown adjectives that trip off the toungue like a litany to define his function as Liturgist, Catechists, Administrator, Legislator, Judge. "In my day," he said, "the bishop was between the anvil of his diocese and the hammer of Rome". Vatican II has emphasised the role of the role of the bishop, whereas Vatican I emphaised the role of the Pope, the problem is that it is easy for a Bishop to see himself as a being above the Presbyterate and over the Church. Vatican III will deal with the role of the priest of course, and Vatican IV ....
One of things I like about the older rites is the dependance of clergy on their assistant ministers, the vestments of the Pope for example the long faldo and and papal cope meant he couldn't even move without assistance, the same with a cardinal or bishop wearing a cappa. At High Mass Pope, Bishop or Priest were all dragged about the altar by their vestments, without assistants they could do nothing. I am sure it was all meant to underline the importance of the particular cleric but it underlined too that he did nothing on his own, his very movement was dependant on others, it was always collegiate.

Our present liturgical practice is much more individualistic. This morning I celebrated Mass without a server, forty years ago, though it happened, it would have been rare and considered an abuse. Nowadays it would possible to celebrate for what passes as "High Mass" with just a priest and a congregation, and most probably a reader. In the past High Mass would have entailed priest deacon, subdeacon, MC, two Acolytes, thurifer and crucifer, and of course a choir. What I am saying is that as important as the celebrant was the older liturgy emphasised his function within the the Church, his dependance on others. Post-concilliar liturgy is in comparison much more individualistic.

Is Halloween Christian?

I have noticed in passing that a number of American bloggers claim Halloween is Catholic, and urge it should be defended from Puritans. I presume the "Puritans" are those who try to keep it as a vigil of All Saints, those who say First Vespers of All Saints early and get the local children round to celebrate by dressing up as saints.

When I was a boy, in the Home Counties, Halloween was kept with "apple bobbing" and a couple of ghost stories, now pumpkin lanterns, ghoulish costumes and "trick or treating" has crept in. I know in other parts of the UK the occasional manglewurzel was carved with a leering face but most of the newer customs here seem to be imported from the US.

I am not sure why we bobbed for apples, neither am I sure why dressing up as the Beast from the Black Lagoon should be considered Catholic. I am sure that we need a degree of misrule in our lives from time to time, hence April Fool's Day and ancient customs of fool kings and boy bishops associated with a season of "Misrule" at Christmas or Epiphany, when masters became servants and servants masters. The Church's role here was merely to stop excess. But I can see nothing that is "Catholic" here.

All Saints is obviously about remembering Heaven, All Souls, naturally follows on as we remember those destined for a place amongst the Blessed, but are actually in Purgatory, both have their rites. Halloween, however seems to be an entirely pagan affair, a remembrance of those in Hell, beyond the power of prayer and the Church. The only Christian idea seems to be to remind us of the damned and damnable, those outside of the Life of Grace, like gargoyles on the outside of a Church.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plea for Human Rights

This seems a good way of continuing the fight against HFE Bill, it is also a way of furthering an understanding of basic human rights: see what you can do to further it. You could get your MP to sign it.

My thanks to Ponte Sisto.

We, the citizens of UN member states, in this year of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948,

Recalling that:
The Universal Declaration is a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all Nations,

Bearing in mind that:
Human rights, dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity and justice constitute the spiritual and moral patrimony on which the union of Nations is based,

Stress that:
Proper consideration must be given to
The right to life of every human being, from conception to natural death, each child having the right to be conceived, born and educated within the family, based on marriage between a woman and a man, the family being the natural and fundamental group unit of society,

The right of every child to be educated by his or her parents, who have a prior and fundamental right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Therefore, we call upon:

All governments to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights properly such that:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3)
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family (Article 16).
The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State (Article 16).
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance (Article 25).
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Article 26).

If you agree with this, please sign up here.

If you agree with this, please sign up here.

Huh? SSPX Bishops in Lourdes

I just find this amazing, the four "schismatic", "excommunicated", illegally ordained bishops were leading a pilgrimage in Lourdes and celebrating Mass in the Basilica of St Pius X.

See Rorate Caeli

One can only assume that permission for this celebration was given Vatican approval, it follows on from a recent Anglican celebration at the grotto. However I think that this is a momentous movement forward for the negotiations between the Holy See and the fraternity.

Missionary Changes

I used to get a little concerned about modern "missionaries", I think that came from the encounters I had in the 1980s, when the Gospels were used as a proof text to support a social Gospel that was based more on Marx than Christ. Those were the "high days" of liberation theology, Jesuits especially who I met thought activating the masses was more important than celebrating the Mass. The argument put to me often was, "grace builds on nature, if people are allowed to be treated in a way that is less than human they will never achieve the liberation from the effects of sin Christ intends".

This really meant that sin was really about oppression, the poor were the victims of other people's sin, the Capitalist system, oppressive and unjust regimes, imposed poverty. The response was overthrow Capitalism, remove oppression and injustice, remove poverty, the effect in theory was to restore humanity to an original innocence, only then was it possible to preach Christ. The example was in the Gospel, Christ first healed before he preached!

In South America especially this lead to the Church so often marching with with Revolutionaries, I knew a Spanish priest who was a friend of Che Guevara, and used to celebrate Mass for his men.

Things have changed, partly because social revolution did nothing but create war and class hatred, partly because Catholics began to realise if they did not offer the poor Christ then North American Protestant Evangelicals would.

On my last visit to Rome, I met a Chilean priest, who told me how his Bishop would go around telling his priests to have constantly before their minds that they have "no gold and silver only Jesus Christ" and that whatever they might do for their people nothing was to be preferred to giving them Christ.

This little video I suspect 20 years ago would have been quite different.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scranton Life Video

Concerned that certain groups are misusing the term "Catholic" in the US election, the diocese of Scranton underlines Catholic teaching on Life an the absolute evil of abortion.

"I Hate Those Cartesians"

I it is always rather pleasing to be quoted, apparently I said this in a sermon.

Descartes's "Cogito Ergo Sum", I think therefore I am, is highly problematic.

If I am not very good at thinking, am I less?

If I don't think at all do, I cease to be?

If someone else doesn't think like me, are they less than me?

If I don't think of you, do you cease to be?

If I am unaware of your existence, and therefore don't think of you, do you not exist?

Do you only come into existence when I think of you?

What about God,

If I don't think of Him, does he cease to exist?

If I am only conscious of some of His attributes, does He only exist in those aspects I am conscious of?

The tendency in thinking since Descartes is to place "I" at the centre of everything, it is ultimately solipsistic. Catholicism sees mankind in a totally different way "God is therefore I am", from this we understand that man is not the centre of the universe but contingent on God who is.

I think these two understandings of what a human being is, are at the heart so many of our modern problems. Within the Church it is at the heart of what might appear to be squabbles over liturgy, it is what lies behind Fr Z's phrase Save the Liturgy, Save the World. I see it behind the US election debate, Obama is a Cartesian. It is certainly there behind the abortion debate, a child exists, simply because the state acknowledges its existence. It is behind the religion versus secularist debate, and behind the increased conflict between the Islam and West.

Jesuiits killed in Moscow

Two Jesuit priests were found murdered in their flat in central Moscow on Tuesday evening, a Russian Catholic Church official said on Wednesday.

Otto Messmer, who heads the Russian Independent Region of the Society of Jesus, and Colombian priest Victor Betancourt, were found dead in their apartment on Petrovka Street, with severe bodily injuries.

"They did not answer telephone calls, so their brothers in the order went to their apartment, where they found them already dead," Igor Kovalevsky, the general secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, told reporters.

The motive for the killing is not known, he said.

Earlier reports said the priests were injured in a fight near their house involving two other individuals. A local police source said the clerics died from injuries sustained in the fighting.

Eyewitness said a man of Hispanic appearance, aged around 40, killed the priests.

The Russian Independent Region of the Society of Jesus, which was officially registered in June 1992, carries out educational and missionary work throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

(RIA Novosti)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cardinal O'Brien Compares Govenment to Nazis


28 October 2008

Dear Gordon

I write this open letter to you on a matter of immediate urgency, namely tomorrow’s debate in the Lords on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Although I was relieved that last week’s debate in the Commons on the Bill did not address the issue of abortion, I remain convinced that the Bill is misguided and certain sections are potentially most harmful.

Among these is Schedule 3 which has never been properly discussed in Parliament. It provides for taking tissue from incapacitated adults and children without their consent for the express purpose of creating embryos for research. It will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow (Wednesday 29 October) with Government support.

The Bill could allow for the derivation and use of human eggs from the ovarian tissue of aborted baby girls, a proposal which was first aired by the HFEA in 1994. The HFEA public consultation at that time showed that 83.2% of the 9,000 respondents opposed the practice, and even the few in favour underlined the necessity of consent.

Should this Bill become law, removing tissue from incapacitated adults or children, without their specific consent in order to create animal-human hybrid or other embryos would be permissible, as would creating artificial sperm or artificial eggs from bone marrow or even cord blood.
The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying. The proposals in this Bill represent a breach of 50 years of ethical medical research. They by-pass the Declaration of Helsinki, the Human Tissue Act, the Mental Capacity Act and the Human Rights Act. Removing parts of people’s bodies without their consent, utterly flies in the face of all BMA and GMC guidance on consent to research.

Such behaviour was last seen under the Nazis. Following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, the full horrors of the Nazi’s atrocities were revealed to a shocked world. The hideous savagery of their experiments convinced the civilized world that such practices must be outlawed forever. I am appalled that you are promoting a Bill which seeks, by stealth, to create a regime where extracting tissue and cells from human beings no longer requires their consent or involvement.

I am staggered that you would endorse legislation, which describes the creation of embryos from a person without their consent as 'non-invasive' and which enshrines the concept of ‘presumed consent’ in UK law. This legislation would set a nightmarish precedent, by allowing scientists to experiment on those lacking capacity - in the absence of explicit consent - largely as they see fit.

I urge you to amend Schedule 3 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as a matter of great urgency and human decency.

Yours sincerely in Christ

+ Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

If you've not already done so, visit SPUC's latest lobbying alert on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, take the action recommended and lend support to Cardinal O'Brien's splendid open letter

source John Smeaton

Mosul Refugee Stories

If you haven't done so please sign the petition on the Downing Street website requesting support for the Christians of Mosul and please support the Charity Iraqi Christians in Need

Hussein Mohsen Ismael, 66, a truck driver in Bartella, said:It was October last year and my family and I were living in east Mosul.
My brother Mohamed Saleh was sitting by the gate of his house. A group of masked gunmen pulled up and took him away in their car. The next day they killed him and dumped his body. Subsequently, we received a number of threats. We do not know who they were from. The following month, the situation became unbearable so we packed our belongings and fled our house along with two other Shabak families.
I was devastated at the death of my brother, I believe at the time if I had owned a weapon I would have killed myself. People have since broken into my house and written on the walls that it cannot be sold or rented, it belongs to the Islamic State of Iraq.

Deborah Haynes is the Baghdad Correspondent for The Times she has some short stories of Mosul refugees.

Opening the Lectorate to Women

I was a little disappointed by the Synod on the Word of God, apart from one or two interventions, especially those of the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Patriarch there was little that excited me.

The one proposition that has hit the blogosphere reads:

"The synod fathers recognize and encourage the service of laypeople in the transmission of the faith. Women, in particular, have in this regard an indispensable role, above all in the family and in catechesis. In fact, women know how to stir up the listening to the Word and the personal relationship with God, and to communicate the meaning of forgiveness and the Gospel capacity to share.
It is suggested that the ministry of lector be opened also to women, so that in the Christian communities, their role as announcers of the Word is recognized."

This proposition passed with 191 votes in favor, 45 opposed and three abstentions–the highest “no” tally by far, at the synod.

Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law states that only qualified men may be "installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte." The canon adds that "laypersons can fulfill the function of lector during liturgical actions by temporary deputation," which is why women currently read at Masses all over the world.

In practice this has meant that this ministry is given only to seminarians and has been made a substitute for the Minor Orders which were abolished by the personal decision of Paul VI. Though even at Papal liturgies commissioned Lectors seem rarely used, and women fulfill the functions of both Lectors and Deacons. Deacons are supposed to read the Intercessions, though they rarely do.

It will be interesting to see how Pope Benedict will deal with this.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults seems to give a vision in which virtually everyone in a local church has a "ministry" in some form, ranging from intercessor to catechist, sponsor or God-parent to evangelists, amongst these ministries would be included those who assist at the Liturgy, including altar servers and choir members, and flower arrangers.

Some bishops have developed their own rites and training schemes for these "ministries". In most parts of the world people fulfill these ministries on an ad hoc basis, simply by being included on a list, sometimes doing a short training course or in the case of Catholic school teachers, by being given the job.

For the most part there is no rite.

I am unashamably against any liturgical innovation, it is always devisive and damages the passing on of Tradition. I cannot help but think there is some Roman mischief or episcopal ignorance behind this proposition, the problem is that it ultimately ends up in opening up the question of female ordination.

It obviously will give bishops the opportunity to ensure that Lectors/Readers are properly trained but the effect of this will be to reduce the numbers of those who actually read in a parishes, and "clericalise" more laypeople. If this ministry is taken out of the seminaries and given to laypeople then we also need to recognise more formally other ministries, especially those which are directly connected to the Gospel, those who visit the sick and imprisoned, or work for the socially deprived, or care for children, not to mention those who scrub the church floor or clean the lavatories.




Final Lords consideration of Commons embryology amendments, action needed
Dear supporter,
Renewed thanks to all our supporters, especially those who have taken action to oppose the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, passed the House of Commons last Wednesday. We are deeply aware of the hard work thousands of people have put in over recent months to defend with love newly-conceived embryonic children.
Although the bill is now on track to become law, the final stage in the bill's parliamentary progress remains - consideration by the House of Lords of changes made to the bill by the House of Commons. It was confirmed over the weekend that this final stage will take place this Wednesday, 29 October. The Lords passed the substance of the bill earlier this year, and parliamentary procedure means that the House of Lords will consider only those parts of the bill changed by the Commons. We therefore suggest that a targeted protest against the government will be of most value at this stage. It was the intense pressure placed upon the government by pro-lifers such as yourselves which may well have forced the government to block any amendments which would have worsened the law on abortion.
Therefore, please email:
Lord Darzi, the health minister in charge of the bill, via
Baroness Royall, former health minister and now Leader of the House of Lords, via
telling them that:
the HFE bill is fundamentally unethical, violating the right to life and dignity of newly-conceived embryonic children;
the government is showing contempt for parliament and the House of Lords in particular by scheduling this final consideration by the House of Lords without the usual minimum interval after its completion by the House of Commons.
Please copy to your messages to Lord Darzi and Baroness Royall to your own MP. (You can find out who your MP is via )
Please remember to copy any replies you receive to Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, either by email via or by post to SPUC, 3 Whitacre Mews, Stannary Street, London, SE11 4AB.
Yours sincerely in defence of life,
Anthony Ozimic
Political Secretary

Monday, October 27, 2008

St Peter's Bones

I found this interesting little Gloria TV video about thee excavation under St Peter's on Da Mihi Animas.

Say a prayer

I had a visit yesterday from Fr Gerrard Bradley, who teaches at St John's seminary and one of our diocesan seminarians. They told me Stephen, a student for the Diocese of Salford had died of a heart attack, he was in his twenties, pray for his soul, pray for his family.

Martin Luther - my prejudice is right

I have always blamed the "Reformation" on Luther's bowels, in my prejudiced Catholic way.

And although the Guardian is generally unprincipled and biased in its commentary on religion, in the case of Luther it is absolutely accurate. see here


He was a rich kid - no wonder he wanted peasants killed
He became a monk to escape an arranged marriage
He wrote his theses on the lavatory
He threw dead cats in his rubbish tip -bet he killed them
Loved eating robins - he did kill them
Weighed 23 stone! - lots of robins
He was so rich he was careless about money - a collection of 250 silver coins were found in his house
His wife, not surprisingly, was careless about the marriage - archaeologists found his wife's golden wedding ring

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cardinal O'Brien on HFE vote

Cardinal O’Brien spoke at a Glasgow SPUC conference yesterday following Tuesday’s vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. which legalised scientists to carry out research on human-animal hybrids.

He said: "The harsh reality is that the noble words of so many high blown declarations have been matched with a barbaric indifference to the rights of the unborn.”

"SPUC has worked tirelessly in Scotland and the UK to fight the evil of abortion for almost 40 years but we must recognise that what really can be described as the forces of darkness have distorted the laws and consciences in our nation and that our situation is now worse than ever."

Cardinal O`Brien told his audience in Glasgow: "I called on our Members of Parliament to search their hearts and their consciences over the summer months to decide whether or not the value of human life really matters or is it simply one more commodity to be cast aside in our throw-away society.”

"We now know that final votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill taken last Wednesday, while the question of abortion was not debated or voted on - which in itself may be considered a small mercy - the reality remains that the vote was a tragedy for our country.”

"As a direct consequence of this legislation the value of human life will be eroded even further in the United Kingdom."

Bloody Mosul

After the murder of their Archbishop, numerous other killings, abductions, bombings, rapes , forced conversions, threats, acts of extortion, Assyrian Catholics are flooding out of Mosul.

I received this email from Tim Shamoon

The silence that has greeted the ethnic cleansing of the Christians inhabitants of Mosul has been nothing short of disgraceful and scandalous as far as the main stream media is concerned it has past them by for more pressing matters like Madonna’s second or is it third divorce? Thousands of children and the elderly face bleak winter sleeping in tents, refugees in their own country.

The spokesman for Iraq’s government recently described the Christians of Iraq who are currently living in Iraq as “Expatriates” it was not a slip of the tongue or a mistake. It was deliberate and calculated it also had the full blessing of the Office of the Prime minister of Iraq and it was above all said to see what reaction it would draw. NOTHING was the answer, the Americans who run the Green Zone stood and watched from the side lines. Let me make it clear that the USA has taken in more than 13,000 Iraqi refugees from all sections of Iraqi society this year alone so I am not saying that the USA has not tried to help refugees from Iraq, but what we want is protection in our own land and not to be driven out of it.
We are desperate for help so if possible please lobby your members of Parliament also if you can please sign a petition on the Downing Street website
and please support the Charity Iraqi Christians in Need

by donating what ever amount you can which will go directly to help the people most affected. If any reader of this message does not live in the UK and want to help then please if you can make a do nation to the above mentioned charity.

Please do not take this as an attack on other faiths or other ethnic groups within Iraq or anywhere else for that matter it is merely a plea for help for a group of people who feel abandoned and forgotten. By the way Mosul has had people of different faiths living within it for over one thousand years in complete peace and harmony and I sincerely hope that those days will return one day soon.

Thanks for your time
Tim Shamoon

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Catholics Can Sing

click on picture to enlarge
Jeremy Satge is doing a workshop for us on Saturday 22nd November.
If you want to come contact
There is a singing technique workshop, they are going to look at Plainsong Mass Settings, Polyphony and Hymn Singing
The cost is £10

My Russian is rubbish

could someone give ne a translation of the inscription under the arms of the crucifix.
Click to enlarge.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Indian Bishops

I have a few contacts with India and from what I hear the Church there seems to have more than a few problems. One hears of seminarians unable to explain the the Holy Trinity in terms beyond 1+1+1=1. Indian priests I have heard preach, certainly seem ungrounded in theology and scripture. An orthodox Indian theologian I know often complains those who he teaches, and who are ordained, seem to be more Hindu than Christian. His diaconate year students he says would be unable to explain theologically why they were Catholics.

One Indian bishop I met complained to his host an English parish priest, "your congregation don't respond very well." He replied, "My Lord, they do if you use the texts in the Missal". The Bishop then suggested that as a Bishop he was empowered to change anything in the Missal he chose. Later at a reception in his honour he seemed to indulge in rather suggestive flirting with some young married women. Apparently many of his priests complained about his tyrannical rule of his diocese.
Another bishop I met here in England was part of a ecumenical group following a deluded Orthodox prophetess. The parish priest had to threaten him with deletion to Rome in order to prevent him giving communion to Calvinists, Baptists, Anglicans and others.

I am afraid from my experience the following is of no surprise.

Following an investigation conducted by the papal nuncio and the metropolitan bishop, Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday suspended Bishop John Thattumkal of Kochi, a Latin-rite prelate in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Last month Bishop Thattumkal had adopted a 26-year-old woman to whose visions he has attributed the discovery of financial irregularities in his diocese. source

Face of Imperialism

Northern Irish voters have never wanted abortion but yesterday when Labour bosses decided to drop forcing abortion on Ulster through the HFE bill Diane Abbot introduced an amendment to force abortion on them.
An Northern Irish friend said, "She is denying us the right to determine our own future, we are being treated like a colony".
South of the border this is producing anxiety, if it is forced on the North, then this assault on human rights will have a knock on effect in the Republic.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What is lacking?

The FSSP have been holding their 2oth Anniversary celebrations in Rome, John Sonnem has been putting up some rather spectacular photographs. The Fraternity have started to put up pictures on the Italian version of their site. There is one picture of Vespers there, I can't download it, it is a picture of three young men kneeling in prayer, rapt in devotion.

Lately I have become preoccupied with how to communicate the hope that should be at the heart of being a Christian. The great throng of young men in the processions is a sign of the way in which the Extraordinary Form and the spirituality that accompanies it calls the young especially not only to embrace the Gospel but also the priesthood.

Is there something lacking in what we do with young people?
Compare and contrast these pictures with this.

Flew on Dawkins

Pauline sent a link to this short article about Anthony Flew's views on Dawkins, it was in response to yesterday's post on the British Humanist Society's poster campaign. Professor Flew was perhaps one of the best English speaking exponents of aetheism, recently he changed his opinion, saying now he believes in “Divine Intelligence”. This is an extract, read the whole think.

Whilst Flew acknowledges the remarkable achievement of The God Delusion in selling over a million copies, he declares: “what is much more remarkable is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot.”
He goes on: “The fault of Dawkins as an academic was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form. Thus we find in his index five references to Einstein. They are to the mask of Einstein; Einstein on morality; on a personal God; on the purpose of life, and finally on Einstein’s religious views. But he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.
“An academic attacking some ideological position which s/he believes to be mistaken must of course attack that position in its strongest form. This Dawkins does not do in the case of Einstein and his failure is the crucial index of his insincerity of academic purpose and therefore warrants me in charging him with having become, what he has probably believed to be an impossibility, a secularist bigot.”

Orissa Government Refuses Church Compensation

The government of violence-hit Orissa has refused to compensate for destroyed churches, saying such a move would violate the country's secular policies.

The Orissa state government advanced this argument in an Oct. 20 affidavit to the Supreme Court, which is hearing a plea seeking compensation for about 100 churches and prayer halls destroyed in Hindu radical violence against Christians.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar filed the plea to seek 30 million rupees (US$612,445) in compensation to help rebuild churches and places of worship destroyed during rioting that began on Aug. 24.

Seven weeks of sustained violence claimed at least 58 lives and rendered about 50,000 people homeless. Hindu extremists also burned down 4,500 houses, convents, presbyteries and other Church institutions.

The Orissa government's refusal came two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised financial help to rebuild the churches when he met with Reverend Samuel Kobia, who had called on him. The general secretary of the World Council of Churches revealed the promise at a press conference in New Delhi after the Oct. 18 meeting.

The Orissa affidavit by Tarun Kanti Mishra, the state government's principal secretary, said: "It is against the secular policy of the State to pay any compensation to religious institutions."

It also said Archbishop Cheenath's demand was "not acceptable" to the state, and that the violence, concentrated in Kandhamal district, reflected ethnic discord rather than religion.

The affidavit maintained the "unfortunate killing" of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati sparked violence between Kandha tribal people and Christians of the socially poor Pana caste.

A Maoist group claimed responsibility for the killings of the Hindu leader, who opposed conversions to Christianity, and his four associates. However, Hindu radical groups blamed the murder on Christians.
read more here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well done Dicky Dawkins and Poll Toynbee

The British Humanist Society have just started their "Atheist Bus Campaign". Well done atheists, brilliant stuff. Dicky Dawkins and Poll Toynbee should be congratulated, at least by a Catholic Priest like me. I am going to get all my converts to read The God Delusion, partly because it is so second rate and badly argued it seems to provoke people into believing rather than disbelieving. I almost believe Dawkins to be a Christian, even Catholic, fifth columnist because as I have said before I don't believe in the God Dawkins doesn't believe in.

This type of initiative is worth supporting, it gets people talking about God and what atheism has to offer. I suppose I should suggest that for atheist to say, "There probably is no God" seems more like agnosticism than the full red blooded atheism of my youth. I hope they are not becoming flabby, maybe they are just a bit worried God may sue them so they are hedging their bets.
With so many passionate artists in the atheist camp you would think they could get something more visually exciting than this, come on Gilbert and George give them a hand.
The suggestion "Now stop worrying and enjoy your life", seems a bit empty, it just makes one want to ask: Why? especially if you have your money in Iceland. There must be an atheist who could come up with something better than this. The advert seems to indicate that atheism and perhaps atheists are, err...., just the tiniest bit dull. So do encourage them, Donate online now!

From BHS website
The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21. With your support, we hope to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, is officially supporting the Atheist Bus Campaign, and has generously agreed to match all donations up to a maximum of £5,500, giving us a total of £11,000 if we reach the full amount – enough for a much bigger campaign. The British Humanist Association have kindly agreed to administer all donations.
With your help, we can brighten people’s days on the way to work, help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves.
As Richard Dawkins says: “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion.”

New Church Members

I managed to acquire a new set of crib figures recently, the Church had only ever had the three primary figures, now everyone and his sheep are here.
We had a collection for a new monstrance, a few people were generous, and then our sisters mother house found they had a spare one which they gave us, so there was spare money.
This set are plaster, and handpainted, the figures -or at least the moulds they came from date from c1920 judging from the features, they are in perfect condition - every finger is present.
Now all I need is a Neopolitan or a Pole to start making the crib. Neopolitans do wonderful rocky landscapes whilst Poles make cribs with towers and pinnacles, either would be splendid. And now is the time to start planning.

The Brothers, Peter & Andrew

Sandro Magister has the full text of the Patriarch of Constantinople's address to the Synod, he entitles it "The day will come when our two Churches will fully converge", it is well worth reading. The Second Vatican Council committed the Church to ecumenical dialogue, and at the heart of the "Benedictine Project" is the rediscovery of our common heritage. As the Pope said to the Patriarch, "Your Fathers are our Father, how can we not be brothers?"

Spanish Feminists Call for Church Burnings!

Source During protests by both supporters and opponents of the abortion ship operated by the Dutch group “Women on Waves,” which docked last week in Valencia, Spain, feminist organizations openly called for church burnings and handed out matches to their followers.
The presence of the “ship of death” in Valencia last week led to one of the largest pro-life protests in the city’s history, with large numbers of people voicing opposition each day to the ship’s services, which include bringing women into international waters to undergo abortions according to Holland’s liberal abortion laws.

On October 18, a group of 40 feminists gathered to counter the pro-life protests, which brought out four times as many people. They passed out boxes of matches with the picture of a burning church and the caption, “The only church that brings light is the one that burns. Join us!”

On October 19, the feminists met again to distribute matches but decided to disband after they were overwhelmed by the large number of pro-life protestors who gathered at the port where the abortion ship was docked.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Liturgical Conference in Colombo and Abp Ranjith

One interesting feature about the celebration of the liturgy in Asia is the whole idea of inculturation, the use of local signs and symbols in the liturgy. People like English Benedictine Bede Griffiths went to an extreme, giving the Mass the appearance of a Hindu ceremony. Indians themselves often found this shocking and confusing. On the other hand imports from the more progressive western theological/liturgical institute have often imposed a rather perfunctory protestant charismatic liturgical style on a culture where reverence in word and gesture, sign a symbol are so very important.

I have heard Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith talk about the importance of inculturation, saying things like, "in Sri Lanka we are more likely to prostrate three or four times rather than just bow or genuflect". This document has just been published, look at the "Practical Suggestions" para 11 following. It could have been written by the Archbishop, both he and Cardinal Arinze are the signatories.

Being fascinated by the gentler forms of Roman intrigue I was fascinated that during the recent bout of speculation about the future head of the Congregation for Divine Worship even the Archbishops friends were pushing the rumour of his move to Colombo, which seems to have strengthened his hand enormously at this conference. The conclusion I think seems to be a peculiar strengthening of the Congregations involvement in a local Church, is it model for elsewhere?

Celibacy is the answer and the remedy

Brighton always strikes me as being like first century Corinth, pretty superficial for the most part. Corinth was a seaside holiday resort where practically everything went. The converts Paul addresses are from a highly charged sexual community. There also seems to be a strong element of what we would call "new age" spirituality amongst its inhabitants. Corinth like Brighton seems to be a complex of small communities with their own agendas, it is mirrored in the factionalism of the Church, which Paul addresses.
Paul when he deals with these problems of this community, focuses on the centrality of Christ, he demands cohesion but what I suspect what would have left his readers rather ashen faced would have been his demand for celibacy, and for those who are going to "burn" with passion, the only alternative, which is less perfect than celibacy, is marriage.
Most commentators nowadays suggest Paul's challenging teaching is simply because he understood Christ's return to be imminent, I am sure that is true but that tends to be a bit simplistic and to gloss over both the remedial aspect of his teaching and the challenge it demands.
I can't help but think celibacy is the real answer today for our city's problems.
Nowadays it is quite normal for bishops and priests to not make it seem to be something radical, though they are committed to celibacy personally. If we just appear as pious bachelors or spinsters then we do celibacy a serious disservice. Today, in Brighton, and the rest of the world too, celibacy has to be presented with a new vigour, because as in Pauls day, for a Christian celibacy or marriage are the only possibilities. All this is just an introduction to this rather interesting article.

(CNA).- Manfred Lutz, a psychiatrist with the Congregation for the Clergy, has responded in an extensive article to those who consider celibacy not to be "natural" and explained that the discipline is not only necessary for priests and religious to fully live out their vocations, but that it is also a "provocation" to a superficial world that does not believe in life after death.

In the article published by the L'Osservatore Romano, Lutz commented that celibacy represents "a permanent protest against collective superficiality." It proclaims that "the earthly world, with its joys and sufferings, is not all there is."

One who cannot renounce the exercise of sexuality is not capable "of joining in a marital union" either, Lutz continued. Looking upon women as "the object of satisfaction of a personal impulse plays a key role in the criticism of celibacy," he stated. Lutz also noted that there are even times when spouses cannot "fully exercise their sexuality, as in the case for example of a temporary illness or a permanent handicap. In these cases, a spousal relationship that is truly profound is not destroyed but rather enriched.”

“In the same way,” Lutz continued, “the issue of celibacy should not be made into an issue merely of genital sexuality, but rather should be seen as a determined form of relationship that allows for a profound relationship with God and fruitful relationship with the persons confided to the pastoral care of the priest."

Celibacy, Lutz argued, enables a priest to engage more intensely in spiritual direction. "It is not true that spiritual guidance for couples would be better if it were given by spouses. Such a guide always runs the risk of unconsciously reliving the experiences of his or her own marriage and of transforming his or her own emotions into actions through a psychological mechanism without reflection."

"For this reason," he continued, "such a guide needs solid monitoring to prevent this from happening. On the other hand, a good spiritual guide has considerable existential experiences with many married couples, and therefore can reach out to the most difficult cases. This explains, for example, the surprising fruitfulness of the writings on marriage of that great shepherd of souls, the Servant of God John Paul II."

Noting that celibacy is not for narcissists who are always looking to be the center of attention, Lutz recalled that the priest "should always be interested in other human beings and their misery, he should forget about himself and should make visible through his words the splendor of God before his own sufferings."

Even so, I left with the problem, like most celibates, priests or lay people, of how to live out one's celibacy. I am sure somehow it has to be done in the context of close friendships and a loving community but if we turn again to St Paul, it is done in the context of the vision he is always presenting of what we have become in Christ.

Thoughts on a Power Cut


In darkness let me dwell, the ground shall sorrow be,
The roof despair to bar all cheerful light from me,
The walls of marble black that moisten'd still shall weep,
My music hellish jarring sounds, to banish friendly sleep.
Thus wedded to my woes, and bedded to my tomb,
O, let me, living, living, die, till death do come.
In darkness let me dwell.

Ellen Hargis, soprano; Jacob Heringman, lute; Mary Springfels, viol; from CD "A Candle in the Dark"
Don't you love the dissonance?

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to complain

Following on from the last post while I am still feeling particularly grouchy....

This doesn't work with clergy or bishops who don't answer letters, but when complaining to company, never write to the "complaints department", unless it is easily dealt with.

The best thing is aways to write to the chairman, ask him to ring you, or better ask him to let you come and see him, obviously a bit difficult if he is France! so you discuss your problem directly.

If that doesn't work get his home address from "Company's House" and suggest the next time you are in the area you could drop round and see him at home. It normally works.

Remember the Chairman's time is often worth 100 times that of the poor soul in the complaints department, even if he doesn't read the letter no-one in his office wants him bothered at home. If you can't find his home address you can normally find a club or an interest you share. It can be terribly annoying to turn up at Covent Garden to meet disgruntled of Dunsfold. If that happens he is going to be phone in the interval to his PA in the interval just to get you off his back.

Is Britain Going Down the Pan?

Yes it is!!!

I am feeling particularly grumpy today.

Last week the phone wasn't working fom Tuesday to late Thursday evening. Curses on BT, do you know that in order to report a fault on-line you need to give them a mobile phone number in order for them to accept the complaint! What happens if you don't have one?

Inefficient blackguards!

Today we had no electricity for eight hours! So again no phone, but also no internet, lighting, radio, heating or anything.

Southern Water were doing some work and cut a cable. It took seven hours, seven hours, to fix it! Obviously they had to get somone over from Paris to do it as our electricity is suppled Électricité de France, they call themselves EDF here, obviously ashamed of their origins! Apparently it wouldn't have take quite so long if it wasn't for recent 'elf and safety legislation. Fie on L'elves!
Do click on the link to abuse them!
An occassional rage against a multi-national is good for one!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Prisons Dark

The young are so idealistic, I got a nineteen year old to write the "Bidding Prayers" yesterday, the first left me feeling a little queezey ...
Let us pray that like St Philip, Bishop Kieran and the priests of our
diocese will prefer death that denying Christ or his Church.
... all that disembowelling at Tyburn, being "chained in prisons dark". A quick assassins bullet, but mention electricity, or searing flesh, mutilation, cold even ..., difficult.

I remember an Italian priest preaching that if the Church is not being persecuted, we should question whether she is really being the Church. If a bishop or a priest is not suffering for the faith it could be he is not preaching it, certainly he is not living the life of self-offering that is meant by the phrase "priest of Jesus Christ".
He said, one of the charisms of the Church is martyrdom, one of the gifts of Christ to his Church is the Cross, and we should pray for it.
Pray for priests, pray for me, pray even harder for bishops!

St Philip Howard

Today in our diocese is the Solemnity of St Philip Howard, the Co-Patron of the diocese.

St. Philip, born 28th June, 1557, was thirteenth Earl of Arundel. His father Thomas, IV Duke of Norfolk, was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth in 1572 for involvement in the affair of Mary, Queen of Scots. Philip Howard, baptised by the Archbishop of York in the Chapel of Whitehall Palace, had Philip of Spain as one of his godfathers.

Philip married Anne, daughter of Lord Dacre of Gilsland, when he was fourteen. He graduated at St. John's College, Cambridge in 1574 and was about eighteen when he attended Queen Elizabeth's court. Handsome, high-born, quick-witted and articulate, he neglected his wife and God but the turning point came in 1581 when he was present at a disputation in the Tower of London between a group of Catholic prisoners, Fr. Edmund Campion, Jesuit, Fr. Ralph Sherwin, Priests and others. These humble suffering Confessors awakened Philip's soul and he returned to Arundel to think about reconciliation with the Catholic Church, which he knew meant death.

He was reconciled in London by Fr. Weston, a missionary Priest, and shortly after sought religious liberty abroad. He was betrayed by a servant and apprehended at sea. On 15th April, 1585, he was lodged in the Tower and after countless interrogations, a year later was examined before the Star Chamber, found guilty of treason, fined £10,000 and committed to prison at the Queen's pleasure.

With the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 anti-Catholicism swept the country. Philip was tried again before the King's Bench and falsely charged with praying for a Spanish victory and again found guilty. His sentence: to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Thereon began his long term of imprisonment, never knowing from day to day which would be his last. Each day he spent several hours in prayer and meditation; he was noted for his patience in suffering and courtesy to unkind keepers. Weakened by malnutrition and not without a suspicion of having been poisoned, he died on 19th October, 1595. He was 39 years old and had spent the last eleven years of his life in the Tower of London.

Written on the step before the Shrine is this inscription: "The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next." This is a translation of the original Latin cut by St. Philip over the fireplace in the Beauchamp Tower, which visitors to the Tower of London can still see:

Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. Arundell - June 22, 1587.

In 1971 his remains were brought from the Fitzalan Chapel in Arundel and enshrined in The Cathedral,

He was one of 40 Welsh and English Martyrs who died between 1535 and 1679. Probably best known among them are the Jesuit Edmund Campion (executed Tyburn 1581), Ambrose Barlow (Benedictine, executed Lancaster 1641), Cuthbert Mayne (diocesan priest executed in Launceston in 1577), Margaret Clitherow (executed in York in 1586) and Welsh priest John Kemble (executed in 1679 at the age of 80). The process of their canonisation was first begun as early as 1874. 136 martyrs were beatified in 1929 and Pope Paul VI announced in May 1970 that 40 of them would be canonised later that year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Patriarch of Constantinople Addresses Synod with the Pope

(AP)In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, patriarch Bartholomew, at far right seated, prays with Pope Benedict XVI, at far left, in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, Saturday Oct. 18, 2008. During the historic first, Bartholomew urged Catholics and Orthodox to work together to combat fundamentalism and promote religious tolerance. Benedict praised his guest on the occasion of an Orthodox leader's first time at a service in the chapel, frescoed by Michelangelo, where pontiffs are elected. Bartholomew's participation in the Vespers service and speech is a 'joyous experience of unity, perhaps not perfect, but true and deep,' Pope Benedict said.
(Asia News) Benedict XVI said, "Your fathers are also our fathers, and ours are yours: if we have the same fathers, how can we not be brothers?" Behind the two of them, who were seated on chairs of equal size, the depiction of the last judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
It was in the most famous of the chapels in the apostolic palace, in fact, that this afternoon the first vespers for the 29th Sunday of ordinary time were celebrated, "on the occasion of the participation of ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I in the work of the 12th assembly of the synod of bishops." "At this moment, we have truly experienced the synod," the pope commented, speaking spontaneously at the end of the extensive address by the patriarch. "Hearing the word of God," he added, "also opens one's eyes to the realities of today," and the "fathers" of the synod "will continue their work illuminated by the words" of Bartholomew.
The patriarch of Constantinople, after speaking of the "historic event" because of his very presence at the synod, expressed his hope of arriving one day at "full unity" between Orthodox and Catholics, overcoming the current differences and agreeing "fully over the role of primacy and collegiality in the life of the Church." Bartholomew also indicated some concrete objectives: "as disciples of God," he added, "it is more imperative than ever to present a single perspective, beyond social, political, and economic views, on the need to uproot poverty, promote equilibrium in the globalized world, combat fundamentalism and racism, and develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict."

Thousands of Christians flee Iraqi city amid ‘campaign of liquidation’

Catholic Herald
Around 4,000 Christians have escaped Mosul in northern Iraq to neighbouring villages, creating a potential humanitarian nightmare as winter approaches. Many left without any possessions after receiving written threats, and militants blew up at least three Christian homes after chasing out the owners. The Iraqi government has sent 2,500 additional police to the city to protect churches.

The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a “desperate” situation.

Some 25 families fled in one day last week followed by another 50 the next day. It turned into an exodus after 13 Christians were murdered, including a father and son and a disabled man in his twenties. Most victims owned or worked in shops, suggesting a campaign to break the economic strength of the Assyrian Christian community.

The exiles have moved north and east to the villages of the Nineveh Plains, the last stronghold of Iraq’s Christian minority. In one Christian village, Qaraqosh, more than 1,000 refugees are now staying in schools and churches.

However, Qaraqosh and the others villages in the area are already overwhelmed with Christian refugees from the fighting elsewhere in the country, and Christian charities are preparing emergency food, medicine and shelter.

In Commemoration of Pope John Paul II

zenit - To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican Television Center has released a five-DVD series that compiles extensive coverage of his life and pontificate.

"The Pope Who Made History," which is being distributed exclusively by HDH Communications, chronologically follows the life of Karol Wojtyla. The first DVD spans his childhood to his election as Pope on Oct. 16, 1978.

The second and third DVDs cover the years 1988-1995, with extensive attention to the fall of the Berlin Wall and John Paul II's role as a witness to peace.

The fourth DVD covers the years leading up to 2000, and the last DVD covers the last years of the Pontiff's life, including coverage of his final farewell to the faithful in Rome.

The DVD set is being offered through Nov. 16 (in English I think that might mean until Nov 16th, does it?) at a 30% discount for purchases made through the Internet.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Byzantium 330 - 1453

Check out the site of the Royal Academy's next spectacular exhibition: Byzantium 330 -1453.
Byzantium 330–1453 will include great works from the San Marco Treasury in Venice and rare items from collections across Europe, the USA, Russia, Ukraine and Egypt. The exhibition begins with the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and concludes with the capture of the city by the Ottoman forces of Mehmed II in 1453. This will be the first major exhibition on Byzantine Art in the United Kingdom for 50 years.

Humanae Vitae: 40th anniversary celebration...

from Orbis Catholicus
Those Mysterious Priests, c. 1974
By Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

"The press and sometimes theologians said that the Holy Father should never have issued the letter because it divided the Church. Of course it divided the Church as Elijah divided those who had to choose either Baal or God; it divided the Church as the Lord divided it: 'He that gathers not with Me, scatters.' Certainly, it thinned the ranks of the Church just as God's order to Gideon, trimmed his army from 30,000 to 10,000 and from 10,000 to 300 to do battle with an army of about fifty thousand. Humanae Vitae, quite apart from its teaching, is perhaps the most important Church document in modern times. It enabled the Church to know how many would follow the flesh instead of the spirit."

St Ignatius of Antioch

The second bishop of Antioch after St Peter, sentenced to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena, sent to Rome suffered death their under Trajan in 107.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
Pray to St Ignatius that priests and bishops will prefer death than denying their Lord in deed or word or thought, or by one act of mortal sin.

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...