Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mission or Maintenance

I rather dread even mentioning the things name, simply because they are so hot on copyright, I think they may sue me. I am sure they have copyrighted the very name, hence the widespread use of "The Bitter Pill", or worst.

Despite having asked Sir Michael Quinlan, the chairman, to stop sending it to my parish, he did this week, so I have been looking at the letters about Blackfen. There is one from Maureen Hedderman who seems to have sent her letter here first, though The Tablet seems to have edited it a bit, I didn't, but published it as it was sent to me, see here in the comments. I think I could claim the copyright. (I seem to have made a mistake, for which I unreservedly apologise, the letter I received was from Claire Hedderman but the sentiments and expression were so similar to those of her mother's in the Tablet, you might understand it was an honest mistake - see the comments here, addressed rather curteously to "Fr Blog", for Claire's explanation - again my apologies to her and her mother)

An awful lot lies behind all of this, I shall put some of it under three headings:
First of I think it is interesting that The Bitter Pill should go after Fr Tim, a prominent priest, someone, who had they been asked, many would have tipped for a miter, a seminary professor, a writer of popular theology, a noted preacher and teacher, a leader of the Faith Movement, and someone who because of his blog is nationally know as a priest who unambiguously allies himself with "the Benedictine Project" and the "hermeneutic of continuity". The storm that has been raised in the blogosphere isn't just affection for the good priest Finigan, it is about fighting for the Pope. I wonder if the feeling against The Pill and Ms Curti would have been quite so great if the secular media were not in feeding frenzy around the barque of Peter. This is an example of The Tablet, again once more against the Pope and blogs for him.

Secondly, this is about a struggle between the old and the new on several levels. I think Fr Tim is so right when he says The Tablet really doesn't understand modern media, it boasts of its 27,000 print run but of course a good number of these, perhaps 7,000, remain unsold at the back of churches. Invariably three of the seven sent here were thrown away. In my parish of the four people who bought it regularly, when it was sold here, three are over seventy-five. Facing facts, in five years time one can expect the 27,000 print run to be reduced by at least 10,000 though the deaths of its readers. The Tablet has to learn the future is on the net and and free.
The other part of the struggle between old and new is that the Tablets type of liberalism is self destructive, the young are uninterested in its dull whining. Cardinal Pell complaining about an attack by it on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney said of it in a letter to it:

"...My problem with Catholic liberalism is that it is ineffective, unattractive to young Catholics, and often drains strength from the Church rather than building it up. It is increasingly irrelevant to the religious struggle, particularly in Britain....

I have long been disappointed by The Tablet's persistent subversions of some Catholic teaching and mystified by the inability of the English bishops to nudge it towards a more productive line of witness, ...."

What The Tablet doesn't realise is that it and the theology it pushes is in retreat, the fact is, though it has considerable influence, it is dead above the neck. Ms Hedderman's letter actually testifies to this, she portrays the events at Blackfen as being older, consevative, parishioners who turned to the Tablet, at odds with the young. I don't think it is unfair to portray her and her ilk, like The Tablet, confused and unable to understand the young Catholics who reject their liberalism.

Thirdly, the question that this issue raises is, what is the purpose of a parish? In the old Southwark diocese the pastoral strategy was "in the city a church every mile, in the country a Church every three miles", that was in the days before popular motoring. Nowadays parish boundaries in England are often pretty meaningless, people go to the parish where they feel comfortable, where they like the priest or the liturgy. This highlights the question often raised in the past by The Tablet: is the parish for Mission or Maintenance, for those in it or to draw in those outside of it? It strikes me that at Blackfen there is a small group of conservative parishioners who desperately want to maintain what has always been but what Fr Finigan is offering is something which draws in young people from the surrounding area. I noticed in Ms Curti's article that the husband of one of her pro-Fr Tim interviewees was being received into the Church soon. I presume that those being attracted to Blackfen are not tired cafeteria catholics but young families who are 100% committed to trying to live a Catholic life. The radical orthodoxy of the young is incredibly disconcerting to Tablet readers who see dissent as a good thing rather than a sin against faith. There is something of the "culture of death", or the "contraceptive mentality" in those who see the Church in myopic terms of "my Mass", "my community", "my Church" or "my parish", it is essentially congregationalist and not Catholic. There is a sense of complacency that finds it hard to come to terms with Mission and embracing the new.
The Tablet itself, once a leading voice of the radical has slipped into the myopia of maintenance, aversion to change and conservatism. If only the The Tablet could be awakened from its sleep and embrace the Church of today, rather than clinging to the past, what a great force for good it could be.

Number of priests on the rise

AP - The Vatican says the number of priests worldwide is slowly but steadily rising.
The Holy See presented its yearbook filled with statistics to Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday.
Since 2000, the number of priests has gone up by several hundred each year. The two decades before that had witnessed a marked decline.
The percentage of Catholics worldwide remains stable, at about 17.3%.
In 2007, the last year statistics were available, Catholics numbered some 1.147 billion around the globe

Cardinal Cormac's lecture

Here's the fulltext...

I bumped into the Cardinal briefly yesterday, I was eating a cheese sandwich at Gatwick, and he appeared.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Of your charity

Pray for the soul of my father, Frank Blake, whose funeral takes place today, a month after his death.
There is no need for comment only prayer.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cardinal; Anti-discrimination legislation limits freedom

Anti-discrimination legislation is being used to limit freedom of religion “in unacceptable ways”, says the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.
In a lecture at Westminster Cathedral on the Church's future, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said the state needed to acquire a better understanding of the contribution and place of faith in British society.
He said: “Legislation on discrimination, much of it good in itself, is now being used to limit freedom of religion in unacceptable ways. The sad and totally needless conflict over the Catholic adoption agencies is one example.
“But that is a symptom of a wider prejudice that sees religious faith as a problem to be contained rather than a social good to be cherished and respected, and which properly and necessarily has a public as well as a private dimension.”
The Cardinal called upon local authorities to give the voluntary sector a “greater and more autonomous” role in the delivery of public services and to see the Church as a “partner in the common good, not an adversary”.
He went on to warn that secularism was based on an “impoverished understanding of what it is to be human” and therefore could never fully satisfy human needs.
“Many of the arguments of secularism seek to offer a new and liberated self-sufficient humanism. Yet, I think, they can only end in the death of the human spirit because they are fundamentally reductionist,” he said.
The Church, meanwhile, “must always be an active agent in the creation and building up of a genuinely humane culture” and not given in to drawing pessimistic conclusions about its future.

Ruth Gledhill has a positively gushing piece about a valedictory lectue by the Cardinal, see next post, she also says that Ms Pepinster has a interview with the Prime Minster after his visit to Rome, I wonder who wants to raise the Pills liberal profile?

Ruth heads her article "Cardinal 'could become Peer", it would be a great honour for His Eminence, a I am sure the Prime Minister would want him in the House of Lords, like former Chief Rabbis, or Moderators of the Methodist General Assembly or even Archbishops of Canterbury. Apart from it being pretty disastrous for his successor, who would speak for the Church in England, the new Archbishop or Archbishop Emeritus? Who would the media interview? Who would the Tablet laud or attack. As we have seen British bishops can be pretty eccentric when they speak on issues not directly connected to the faith. We Catholics have always understood being a legislator was not the function of a priest but of a competent layperson.

Williamson's limp statement

The Bishop of the SSPX, Richard Williamson issued this statement today:

The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy.
Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.
On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (..."I believe"..."I believe"...) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available and rarely expressed in public since. However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said before God I apologise.
As the Holy Father has said, every act of unjust violence against one man hurts all mankind.
+Richard Williamson

This wretched man has issued a statement, it doesn't say much or repair any of the damage done by him to the memory of those Jews who died under the Nazis, to reputation of the Catholic Church or of the Holy Father or of anyone who is anxious for his Society's reconciliation.
Having seen this man wearing his rediculous baseball cap and dark glasses in the airport in Argentina. I hope the next time he is exposed to the world media he is barefoot in sackcloth and ashes, kneeling and begging for forgiveness.
Am I lacking in mercy? In this instance, firmly Yes!

Ash and sin

I was told a story about Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently, who when he was the reforming Rector of the North American College, said, "Good Morning" to a student and in return was greeted with a grunt. He retorted, "When I greet you, you return the greeting".
The seminarian replied, "Oh well, I'm just not a morning type of person, it's just me!"
The Rector answered, "If you want to stay in this seminary, you have got to become "a morning person"".

I like the story, when I was first ordained every nun I met seemed to introduce herself by: I am Sister ........., I am a "5", "rabbit", "neurotic extrovert" on the Myers Briggs, Enneagram or Beaufort Scale. The implication was, "I am what I am", "this is me", "take me or leave me", "I am the result of my experiences", "I am comfortable or come to terms with what I am". Basically what they were saying was, "This is what I am and I am not changing, live with it"!

It is the absolute opposite of Jesus' message of "Repent", of change.

The symbolism of being smeared with ash as a symbol of sin says much about the nature of sin. It clings to us, it obscures the fact we are made in the image and likeness of God.
For those who are baptised we can never actually be anything other than the Sons of God, "for what Christ is by nature we have become by adoption". Sin. for the baptised can never substantially change our nature, it can obscure our Sonship but never remove it.
Like ash, like leprosy sin is not of our nature, it can be pretty deeprooted, but it is removable, it is not part of us, we not are trapped it, we can actually live without it.
Catholicism tells to hate sin and any attachment to it, it is possible to do it without hating ourselves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Petition for Fr Tim and flowers for Elena

Do sign this online petition,

To: The Tablet
The purpose of this petition is to demand an apology from Catherine Pepinster (Editor) and Elena Curti (Deputy Editor) to Fr Timothy Finigan for the article entitled, 'That was not my Mass' in the 21st February 2009 edition of your journal. The reason for this demand is the unethical journalism used by Ms Curti to publish the article. The apology can come in either a private letter to Fr Finigan or printed in the next edition of The Tablet.
The Undersigned

Last night I was at reception for Mgr Wach to celebrate the official recognition of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest.
It was interesting to see at first hand the horror of so many traditional Catholics at the statements of Bishop Williamson. I was speaking to one man whose father had been one of the first British soldiers into Belsen, he told me how until his death he used to wake-up practically every night with nightmares of the horrors he had seen.
A women, a lady, "an avid Trad" as she described herself, who rather touched me. She had heard that Elena Curti had received hate mail because of her article, she said, "That is very unpleasant, I must try and get myself organised and remember to send her some flowers in recompense, it is not the Catholic way to return injury for injury".


The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: “ ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Mt 6,18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4,4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4,34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,” the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13,3; 14,22; 27,21; 2 Cor 6,5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High Church, Low Church

These used to be terms used by Anglicans, first of all as a theological designation Hgh Church meaning having a "catholic theology" Low Church was equated with Protestantism. With the rise of the Oxford Movement the High Church faction started to adopt "Romish" liturgical practices, vestments, iconography, incense, veneration of the BVM and the saints, Bnediction of the Blessed Sacrament etc.
The distinction was unknown in the Catholic Church until recently, but increasingly, and worryingly, it is creeping in.
At one time, there was one Catholic "product" bishops and priests professed one faith, so theological there was no High or Low, there was simply "Catholic", there were dissenters, there always have been, but in the passed we called them heretics.
As far as the liturgy was concerned there was either High Mass (in parishes with fewer clergy a Missa Cantata) or Low Mass, one or the other. Low Mass was a said, which was a simplification of sung High Mass. Again wherever one went in the world there was one standard Catholic "product". Different settings of music might be used but always the same words. Vestments and other externals might be more or less sumptuous in different places but it was the same Rite, the same liturgy and the same faith.
Things haven't actually changed that much or at least shouldn't have. There is still one faith expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Every Catholic should be able to assent to it and to sign it, in their blood if necessary. Catholic Theology is always "High" Church.

As far as the liturgy is concerned, even in the Ordinary Form there should be one Catholic "product". Liuturgy is the always something given by the Church, not invented by individuals. There are various legitimate options, for example saying Mass contra populum against the people or cum populum with or facing the same direction as the people.
There is also the possibility of the use of the vernacular but the norm, though admittedly a rarity nopwadays, is Latin. Gregorian Chant and Polyphony is supposed to be standard, the norm. The use of hymns at Mass is only if the norms of Chant or Polyphony can't be managed. Mass is supposed to begin not with some bit of randomly chosen religious poetry set to music but with the Introit, the same with Communion, where it shouldn't be a hymn but the Proper Antiphon, similarly the Offerory should have its Proper Antiphon (but here my arguement collapses slightly because no one has bothered to put it in the Missal). The Church's norm for the reception of Holy Communion is still kneeling, is still on the tongue, we still talk about receiving Holy Communion not taking it. Briefly the norm is "High Church" or as some of us would like call it "Catholic", not Low Church or Protestant.

All the talk about Reform of the Reform is essentially about ensuring the Mass is the Mass of the Church and not the invention of an individual priest, it goes deeper than outward signs, it is saying that our theology too is not a particular priests interpretation but the presentation of what the whole Church believes and that is Catholic, "High Church" if you want to use the Anglican term. "Low Church" thinking it strikes me is an aberration, a modernism that has crept in.

Again, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has a talk published in Adoremus that takes up some of these issues.

Ranjith: Reform of the Reform

CWNews - A key Vatican official has called for "bold and courageous" decisions to address liturgical abuses that have arisen since the reforms of Vatican II.

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, cites a flawed understanding of Vatican II teachings and the influence of secular ideologies are reasons to conclude that-- as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in 1985-- "the true time of Vatican II has not yet come." Particularly in the realm of the liturgy, Archbishop Ranjith says, "The reform has to go on."

Archbishop Ranjith, who was called to the Vatican personally by Pope Benedict to serve as a papal ally in the quest to restore a sense of reverence in the liturgy, makes his comments in the Foreword to a new book based on the diaries and notes of Cardinal Fernando Antonelli, who was a key figure in the liturgical-reform movement both before and after Vatican II.

The writings of Cardinal Antonelli, Archbishop Ranjith says, help the reader "to understand the complex inner workings of the liturgical reform prior to an immediately following the Council." The Vatican official concludes that implementation of the Council's suggested reforms often veered away from the actual intent of the Council fathers. As a result, Archbishop Ranjith concludes, the liturgy today is not a true realization of the vision put forward in the key liturgical document of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (doc).

Specifically, Archbishop Ranjith writes:

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation."

The Sri Lankan prelate argues that it in order to carry out a "reform of the reform," it is essential to recognize how the liturgical vision of Vatican lI became distorted. He praises the book on Cardinal Antonelli for allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of "which figures or attitudes caused the present situation." This, the archbishop says, is an inquiry "which, in the name of truth, we cannot abandon."

While acknowledging "the turbulent mood of the years that immediately followed the Council," Archbishop Ranjith reminds readers that in summoning the world's bishops to an ecumenical council, Blessed John XXIII intended "a fortification of the faith. " The Council, in the eyes of Pope John, was "certainly not a call to go along with the spirit of the times."

However, he continues, the Council took place at a time of great worldwide intellectual turmoil, and in its aftermath especially, many would-be interpreters saw the event as a break from the prior traditions of the Church. As Archbishop Ranjith puts it:

Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained.

Even in the work of the Consilium, the Vatican agency assigned to implement liturgical changes, these influences were clearly felt, the archbishop notes:

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools.

Today, Archbishop Ranjith writes, the Church can look back and recognize the influences that distorted the original intent of the Council. That recognition, he says, should "help us to be courageous in improving or changing that which was erroneously introduced and which appears to be incompatible with the true dignity of the Liturgy." A much-needed "reform of the reform," he argues, should be inspired by "not merely a desire to correct past mistakes but much more the need to be true to what the Liturgy in fact is and means to us and what the Council itself defined it to be."

Archbishop Ranjith's 10-page Foreword appears in the English-language edition of a book entitled True Development of the Liturgy is written by Msgr. Nicola Giampietro, who serves on the staff of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It will be available in September from Roman Catholic Books.

Life is different for us English

Not for us English the carefully chosen dotti concealing a guilty face engaging in vice on the Rialto.
Not for us English the casting off of dignity in a frenzy of Teutonic festival of folly.
Not for us English the secular exultation of the more vicious vices of Rio.


for us it is


The name demonstrates something of the difference Carnivale – Farewell to Meat, Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday, has very different implications to “Shrove Tuesday”.

I am sure the pre-Reformation Pancake was more like a Spanish omelette, full of good things, like fat, eggs and meat that wouldn’t be eaten at all in Lent, rather than a thin French crepe with a slice of lemon. Its present anorexia is indicative of the effect of Protestantism on a Catholic custom.
But Shrove Tuesday indicates that “shriving” confessing and receiving penance was more important for us English than the partying.

Papal visit?

Ruth Gledhill waxes enthusiastically about the possibility of the Pope accepting Gordon Brown's invitation for him to visit the UK. Bless her, she always has something interesting to say about Anglicanism but I am not sure she really has a feel for the Catholic Church.
She says:

The Pope wants to come. He would even like to speak at Oxford, having done so once previously at Cambridge. Health problems as yet unknown might still prevent it, as might the intrusion of other urgent diary commitments. But all these and other things being well, it might actually happen.
Imagine the symbolism of Pope Benedict delivering a speech in Westminster Hall, where Thomas More was indicted and tried for refusing to accept King Henry XVIII as head of the nascent Church of England, where the instigators of the gunpowder plot were also tried and condemned.
Oh how I pray it happens. What a story to cover!

I can see all types reasons why such a visit would a good thing for us in England, not least as a direct call to the rump of the C of E's catholic wing to come into communion with Catholic Church. My big worry is that the way the Church has been moving since the visit of John Paul II. I wonder whether the Bishops will be able to get ordinary Catholics out onto the streets to welcome the Pope with enthusiasm.

I know this might sound cynical but for years we have had not only the secular media but the Catholic press too knocking the Pope, both before and after his election. The "Benedictine project" has not been met with enthusiasm by any diocese or bishop in England and Wales. I really cannot see such a visit being organised by the heirarchy within the time scale Ruth imagines.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bitter Pill Muzzles Fr Finigan

I had lunch in town with Fr Tim and Jane, from the French Oasisis, I have just read on Fr Tim's blog that those appalling people at The Tablet, having trashed him, have now demanded he remove Ms Curti's article from his blog, thus curtailing his ability to respond.

How low can they get?

I took this photograph of Fr Tim in Westminster Cathedral reading a copy of The Tablet which is available for sale there.

As it is on sale in his Cathedral does it mean the Cardinal and the Administrator endorses its views?

Bitter Pill and Bitter Mickens

In my letter to Sir Michael Quinlan, Chairman of the Tablet Board of Trustees, telling him that after 100 years of selling it in the Church I could not in conscience continue to ally myself or my parishioner to its cause, I spoke of Ms Curti's scurrilous article about Blackfen but I also cited the continual criticism and sniping at the Holy Father by Robert Mickens, their Rome correspondent.

Fr Zuhlsdorf "fisks" an article by Mickens in this weeks Tablet in which he complains with his usual bitterness about the very productive attempts by the Holy Father at gathering in lost or nearly lost sons and daughters.

What amazes me is that people like Mickens would seem to have no problem in welcoming at the altar, those who are soft on the divinity of Christ or would openly question the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, have serious doubts about the miracles of Christ, soft pedal Sacramental Grace, have great difficulties with the Church's stance on artificial contraception, and yet object to those who hold dear the liturgy of our fathers. Amazing!

What is going on?

Recently a misunderstanding caused me to re-examine what was the purpose of this blog. Simply, it is my attempt to understand and follow the "Benedictine project" and to the best of my ability interpret it, primarily for my parishioners but also for anyone else who wants log in.

I must admit I am a little confused at the moment, things seem to moving so fast in the Church, there is a great deal of friction and a great deal of heat. In the urge to draw in and reconcile "Tradition" in the form of the dissident SSPX, it appears some episcopal conferences are distancing themselves from the Holy See.

In Australia the Kennedy affair seems to illustrate that there are some dioceses that have tolerated, for years, interpretations of Christianity that have more to do with the New Age Movement than the Councils of the Church. St Mary's under Kennedy has welcomed the poor and the marginalised but it has denied the divinity of Christ! The often deliberate ignoring of the Benedictine liturgical reforms. Even the spat at Blackfen, overblown in a most unethical way by the Tablet, the Bitter Pill, and even more fascinatingly the reaction of the blogosphere to Ms Curti's article, illustrates this friction. I think this is what underlies the hopes for the appointment of the new Archbishop of Westminster, those who comment most coherently on such a thing are asking for someone in the image of the Pope.

Newman thought the definition of Papal Infallibility was "inopportune"; the two Marian definitions which are regarded as Infallible declarations by the Pope, in fact were Infallible Declarations by the whole episcopate in union with the Pope, not quite fulfilling exactly Pater Aeternus' understanding - not like Peter saying on behalf of the Apostles "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Vatican I providentially defined as focus of unity of the Church, not Council's, or Spirits of Councils or local Churches or the Curia but the person of the Pope.

What is going on, I think, is a radical rethinking of what Christianity actually is. The "soft" notionalist Christianity of the post V2 period is really dissolving into the "niceness" of contemporary secularism. This is all too obvious in Anglicanism, for example, which to an outsider, and many insiders, seems to have lost not only its moral compass, but more importantly its theological compass.

The only reasonable way forward is for a clear definition of what Christianity is. This is what is happening. The successor of Peter, alone, in a world where there appear to be so many "truths" so many "moral possibilities", gives us this.

Austria/Germany I suspect is going to experience this change in the most painful way, as is becoming visible, partly because membership of the Church is determined not by faith, or even the reception of sacraments or attendance but by paying or not paying Church Tax, hence in Austria/Germany has seen the rise of "We are the Church", often nominal Catholics, who because they pay, want a say in the Church.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feast of the Chair of Peter

From our Rome correspondent.
Whether it is Sunday or not today is the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in Rome, Bernini's great Shrine of the Chair, which actually does contain a Roman cathedra long venerated as belonging to the first Bishop of Rome is decked with candles and the bronze statue of St Peter is vested in ring, triregno and cope.
These photographs are huge, so click to see them.

Accompany me with your prayers so I can do the job

(AsiaNews) – In the day in which the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), Benedict XVI spoke to the pilgrims who had gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, asking them to “accompany me with your prayers so that I may faithfully accomplish the high task Divine Providence has placed upon me as Successor to the Apostle Peter.”
“The Chair of Peter,” the Pontiff explained, “symbolises the authority of the Bishop of Rome, [who is] called to fulfil a special service for the People of God as a whole. Right after the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul the Church of Rome was acknowledged a primatial role in the whole Catholic community, a role attested as early as the 2nd century by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Ad. Rom, praef. Funk, I, 252) and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies III, 3, 2-3).”

This unique and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reiterated in the Second Vatican Council. “[W]ithin the Church,” says the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, “particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf S. Ignatius M., Ad Rom., Praef.: Ed. Funk, I, p. 252),) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it” (Lumen gentium, 13).

The Paralytic

The paralytic has to brought to Jesus.

It is companions who go to all the effort the man does nothing.

When he is let down through the roof and lands in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus merely says, "Your sins are forgiven, you".

Nothing visible at all happens the paralytic continues to lie on his stretcher. That is it!

God has forgiven this man's sins, and he is just lying there not even a smile on his face, he continues to be paralysed, he feels nothing different. Christ has come and saved the man and everybody can go home now.

Except, there is a second part, the muttering scribes bring this about, "Who can forgive sins but God", they say. Their statement is one of disbelief, if he is forgiven they want a sign, they are not concerned with the deep goings on in the depths of soul. Mark exploits this to show who Jesus is, for it is indeed God himself who has forgiven. God is there amongst mankind forgiving.

Jesus tells the man to get up and walk, and he does, he walks away, proving Jesus is God, proving Jesus has the power to forgive.

We can forget that what takes place in Confession is really about God's relationship with us in the depths of our soul. Feelings or other outward signs might be nice but they are not of the essence of the sacrament nor of essence of forgiveness.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Enough is Enough!

I know he is the chairman and not the delivery boy but I wrote to Sir Michael Quinlan at the Tablet telling him I could not in good conscience continue to be seen giving my support or that of my parishioners to the Tablet, therefore after selling it for a century at the back of the Church we would no longer do so. I asked to ensure it was no longer sent to us.

The reasons I cited were Robert Mickens' disrespectful treatment of the Holy Father, about which I have previously exchanged correspondence with the editor. I agreed then to give The Tablet a second chance, I must confess I enjoy their arts pages.

However with the shoddiness of Elena Curti's piece on Fr Tim and Blackfen, enough is enough.

I know of two other priests who have made the same decision today from my own diocese.
I think The Tablet might well begin to look at itself a little more critically after this weekend, especially if half the people who have commented on the blogosphere actually write to the Tablet.
We actually do need a good journal like The Tablet but it needs to be Catholic and have mainstreams orthodox Catholics on its editorial board and as contributors, the days of reactionary hippies are coming to their end and so must The Tablet in its present form. Its contributors are aging, as are its readers, if it is to survive it has to attract new readers, it will not without a clear Catholic identity.

Changing Words

How rapidly words change.

We were two priests, me post 50, another in his early 40s, a seminarian 30 this year.
Someone who I would have described as “a liberal”, the 40 year old described as “conservative”, whilst the semiarian described him as “a reactionary”, actually as “a reactionary old hippy”.

The Agony of Fr X

I have a friend who took over a many centred parish a few years ago, he is kind, he is gentle, he his mild. His liturgical and theological orientation is strictly "Benedictine", it is not because it is his personal taste but because he has read the documents and understands that that is the taste of the Church.

His parish had a succession of priests many of whom were nationally known for their avante guard opinions. Most of his parishioners, the vast majority welcomed him, a small handful were difficult at first but gradually, little by little, by returning kindness for rudeness he won them over.

Privately he would tell me about the pain he was going through, the sleepless nights, the feelings of nausea before parish meetings which were so often occasions for public acts of contempt, the venomous untruthful letters to the bishop, the snide suggestions, his visits to the doctor, the pills he was on etc. I suggested on several occasions he should simply say, "I am the parish priest, if you really don't like it, go elsewhere, I have had enough!"

He always replied, "But if they don't come here, they might not go anywhere and be lost".

Behind it all in his theology of priesthood, traditional Catholic theology; each and every "soul" is of supreme value, that souls could be saved or lost by a priest, the priest is there to gather in the lost sheep. Suffering is part of priesthood. The priest is the servant of Christ in the local Church, he is there to lead them to salvation rather than to an ideology of his personal choice.

When I was going through similar difficulties myself a more liberal priest than Fr X told me, "Tell them to ******* off, I would. When I came to St ___, a third of the congregation left, good riddance, I won't put up with trouble makers!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Revolting Attacks" against Christianity in Israel

( Leaders of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land are condemning the "revolting attacks" against Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 television.

A joint communiqué issued Wednesday explains, "In these days, during a night show on Channel 10, a series of horrible offenses were launched against our faith and consequently against us, Christians."

The communiqué was signed by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, among others.

"The show directed its attacks to the holiest figures of our Christian belief in an attempt, as the director of the show himself specifically declared, to destroy Christianism," the communiqué stated.

"Channel 10 was used to desecrate the holiest figures of Christianism offending hundreds of thousands of Christian Israeli citizens and of many millions of Christians all over the world as well," the Catholic leaders lamented.

Channel 10 began its activities in 2002.

The Catholic leaders contended that the program was "a symptom of greater problems disturbing the society, such as intolerance, refusal to accept and respect the other and inherent hatred."

And they said that the program comes in a series of attacks on Christians in Israel over the years. They cited an occurrence from a few months ago, when "copies of the New Testament were publicly burned in the yard of a synagogue in Or Yehuda."

The statement expressed appreciation for the many Christians, Muslims and Jews who "were themselves shocked and appalled, and expressed their dismay and protest at this fact."

The leaders contended that "such programs have nothing to do with freedom of expression, art and entertainment. They can only work against national integration and harmony in our society."

400,000 Mourners at Cardinal Stephen Kim's funeral

A century after his grandfather died in a Korean prison for the crime of being a Catholic, the prelate who led the church into the mainstream on the peninsula -- Seoul's Cardinal Stephen Kim -- was mourned by weeping thousands at a state funeral earlier today in the South's capital.The first Korean cardinal, Kim -- who led the Seoul church for three decades, watching it grow sixfold in the process -- died Monday at 86. Including the country's current and former presidents, some 400,000 mourners of all faiths were said to have filed past his coffin over its four-day lying in state in the city's Myeongdong Cathedral.Hailed as a "true guiding light" and the last "reliable leader in Korean society" despite the church's minority status -- around 15% of South Korea's 38 million citizens are Catholic -- the outpouring of reaction at the cardinal's death moved one newspaper to lead its coverage with a headline asking "Have We Mourned Like This Before?"

A Note on Charitable Trusts

I had a long chat with a Catholic lawyer the other day who specialises in Charity Law, with a strong interest in Libel Law too, which is where he makes his money. Interestingly, he told me there is a little group of Catholic barristers and solicitors who are interested in exploring whether certain Catholic charities are fulfilling the obligations of their status as a charitable trusts.

Not unconnected to this Ttony has this little post up:

I pointed out last November here that the Tablet is owned by a charitable trust, the aims of which are:

a) to advance the Christian religion
b) to promote, present, and disseminate the teachings of the Christian religion and to promote understanding of the Roman Catholic faith, value and principles
c) to advance the education of the public
d) to pursue such other charitable objectives as shall not be inconsistent with the objects hereunto before set out.

And two of the people who work for the Tablet, earn very large salaries (one over £80K, one over £90K), presumably because of their responsibility for delivering the aims of the Tablet Trust.

If you think that Ms Curti's article about Fr Tim does not meet the aims of the charitable trust, it might be worth writing to its Chairman, Sir Michael Quinlan, at its registered address:

1 King Street Cloisters
Clifton Walk
W6 0QZ

If you are going to write you might also mention Robert Mickens opposition and negative criticism of the Holy Father which does damage the advancement of the Christian religion, if one inderstands Catholicism as mainstream Christianity, which it is numerically and historically.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Feeling sorry for Dickey

There is a type of Cambridge academic, much emulated by English schoolmasters of my youth, whose powers of reasoning and logic, based of course on a rather exclusive selection of data, and a selective rejection of common sense leaves him locked in an Ivory Tower of his own making. I have always thought its connection with Cambridge had something to do with the Protestant miasma drifting in from those Low Countries: all that personalism and individual interpretation of scripture.
I think the description fits Bishop Williams very well. The tower grows in height and the door more firmly locked. I must say I am beginning to feel quite sorry for him.

It was announced today that he is being thrown out of Argentina, this follows his removal as seminary rector, his silencing on matters other than religion, there are rumours too that he might even be ejected from the SSPX. All this amid the clamour of the press. Bitter hubris!

We English have a feel for the underdog and the eccentric, Williamson is both, say a prayer for him, it must be very lonely for him as he is increasingly isolated in his pride.

The Tablet "disses" Fr Tim

It is very easy for a small group of parishioners to make life pretty unpleasant for a priest. The nicer a priest is the more it hurts. It hurts other parishioners as well. I remember once an old parish priest said to me, "10% love you, 10% hate you, and the other 80% don't care much, so long as you are there when they need you."

The Tablet has just done the dirt on my friend Fr Tim at Blackfen, who I think is one of the most hard working priests in the country. From the Tablet article there seem to be 12 people who object to him celebrating Mass in the Traditional Form. These have been engaging in that most traditional of Catholic sports: priest baiting. Now Fr Tim has not one, or two, or even three Sunday Masses but FOUR of which the late morning one is Traditional Form, a quarter of his people actually attend this Mass, and if it is like our Friday evening TLM it is full of convinced and devout young men and women and steadily growing.

Being the Tablet, the article is grudging and petty, this small group of parishioners complain about money spent on the Traditional Rite on vestments etc., well if it is like here those who come to the Traditional are actually very generous about things like that. The article just hints at financial impropriety, in its nasty Tabletist way, and fails to mention repairs redecoration, heating, installation of new equipment etc which Fr Tim has done recently. It complains about people being asked to keep a prayerful silence in the Church, the woman from the Tasblet says this stops people interacting, yet she fails to mention the large narthex, the hall and the parish "pub" where people can and are encouraged to chatter to their hearts content. Thank heavens Fr Tim has a good bishop: Pat Lynch, who supports his clergy.

Though I am sure that Tablet readers will hold their hands up in horror, intelligent readers will see this is a put up job.

There is a sad conservatism in many of the Tablet's writers that wants to keep the Church ossified in the 1980s, they have to remember that was almost thirty years ago!

Increasingly younger lay people and priests are not going to be satisfied with the models of parish life and liturgy of their parents generation, I think Fr Tim is bravely experimenting with something new, something Benedictine at Blackfen.

Brown visits Pope

Gordon Brown dropped into see the Holy Father today, inviting him again to visit Britain.
I haven't yet seen a Vatican press release.

He wrote an article L'Osservatore Romanum saying
"From Rio to Rome, and from London to Lagos, we are confronted by one of the greatest economic challenges of our generation."
The global crisis is having an impact on the poorest people in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, the prime minister writes.
"It means hunger for millions more people, less education, and fewer health services"
"I know that the Catholic Church and His Holiness share these worries," Mr Brown continues.

"It is our common duty to ensure that the needs of the poorest countries are not regarded as an after thought, added as a moral obligation or out of a sense of guilt."
Mr Brown praises the Pope for having been one of the first subscribers to his International Finance Facility Bonds - a fund set up three years ago to provide immunisation for millions of children in the developing world.
"This is tangible proof of the common commitment of the Holy See and the United Kingdom in favour of international development.
"Thanks to this bond more than $1.6bn (£1.1bn) has been subscribed, and 500 million children will have been vaccinated between 2006 and 2011," Mr Brown concluded.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pope on Frequent Confession

Pope lectures Pelosi

The pro-abortionist Nancy Pelosi met the Pope, not, I understand, in private audience but at the end of today's General Audience in St Peter's Square, but I can't find any photographs:

Vatican Press Office:
Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

and Mrs Pelosi's take

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today following a meeting at the Vatican with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI:
"It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today.
"In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.
"I was proud to show his Holiness a photograph of my family's Papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren."

Pelosi's ordinary, Archbishop Niederhauer of San Francisco, has repeated invited her discuss her views with him reatedly she has failed to avail herself of his invitation.

The Battle 2: Can God be trusted?

The battle, or maybe it is a war, is ultimately about whether we can know God and trust what he has revealed. Most of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council was issued in the form of a Decree, solemn teaching meant to inform the Church and individuals. Four documents were issued as were issued as "Dogmatic Constitutions", these were intended not just to teach but to form Catholic theology, to identify what was de fide, of the faith.

It is widely known that the young Father Joseph Ratzinger was one of the major authors behind the Dogmatic Constitution on the Word of God, Dei Verbum. In it modern biblical science is examined such as text and form criticism, the examination whether a document is meant to be a story, a myth or an historic truth, it examines the authorship of scripture by God and man, and the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. It sought to answer Modernism and Literalist Fundamentalism.

Modernism: basically said that scripture was a purely human invention, which means it is powerless, and God does not touch humanity.

Literalist Fundamentalist: would have scripture dictated by God directly into the ear of its human author, which is simply nonsensical, it denies a Catholic understanding of Grace and human co-operation with it.

Practically every word the Pope has uttered or written since his election as Pope has been on God's revelation to Man. His emphasis on the Hermeneutic of Continuity says that God has been present in his Church for two thousand years and can be indeed be trusted, we have not been left orphans. His book Jesus of Nazareth is continually stressing that the Gospels can be trusted, which is so important when most theologians and most scripture scholars follow the Protestant line of the unreliability of scripture. His Wednesday catechesis on the Fathers and St Paul stress the continuity of the Church from Christ to the present day, and God's continued guidance. The Synod on the Word of God, which was a bit lack-lustre, but more importantly the eventual release of his response to it, is crucial to this Papacy and I am sure will emphasise God speaking to his people.

I really do believe that we are entering a period in the history of the Church which touches on issues as important as the Christological controversies of the first millenium. It is about the very nature of God himself. The Pope alone, and those who gather with him, stands for the continuation of the Catholic faith: God speaking directly through Tradition and Scripture, God touching directly the lives of the faithful through the sacraments, Man being saved by coming into contact with God in his Church.

The Pope's almost manic ecumenical work with the Orthodox, his inter-religious dialogue, his reconciliation of Traditionalist groups, of talks with groups of "Catholic" Anglicans are all about strengthening the position of those who believe God is "knowable".

The battle, the war, is about whether we can know and trust God.

The Battle: 1

My kind friend Fr John Zuhlsdorf has the comment of a priest on his blog:

From a priest reader:
Everyone is insisting that the SSPX accept Vatican II.
Can we insist that everybody accept Trent?

He also has a fascinating article by Kevin Neylan which cuts to the quick of what is becoming pretty obviously, to me at least, a continuing controversy within the Church, a battle between the left and mainstream Catholicism, between rupture and continuity, between moral relativism and morality certainty.
Ultimately which Neylan doesn't actually mention, it is a battle between whether Revelation can be trusted or not!

Do read the whole article, but here is the conclusion:
As Pope Benedict stated in his brilliant, but widely misunderstood and controversial, Regensburg Address in 2006:

“Theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline… but precisely… as inquiry into the rationality of faith. Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid… A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”

Therefore, religious dialogue must not be pursued with some naïve belief that all religions are more or less equal in their reasonableness or their potential to stultify. Nothing could be more misguided, not to mention subversive of the fruits of real dialogue. However, our self-imposed divorce between faith and reason, and the blind embrace of pluralism, are two sides of the same coin. Both have the effect of sapping society of the very framework that allows virtue to flourish, that allows modernity’s material goods to be put to their best uses.
Insofar as the Second Vatican Council encourages the Church to engage other faiths in meaningful dialogue and to adapt to a world dominated by modern political institutions, it was right and proper to do so. However, Pope Benedict is equally correct to rein in the post-Conciliar excesses by trying to shore up a traditional moral and philosophical framework: in short, to preserve the marriage between Judaic religion, Greek thought, and European heritage, which allowed the Church and civilization to flourish for nearly two millennia. Few tasks can be considered more important, either for the future of the Roman Catholic Church or the future prosperity of modern civilization.

Fr Z suggests that we should start offering up our acts of mortification for the Pope's intentions, please do so.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What do you do with Pergolesi

What do you do with Pergolesi on Good Friday evening? Some singers have offered to come and sing his Stabat Mater together with a small group of strings. I don't want a concert in the Church, on that day of all days. One possibility is using it for the Stations of the Cross but then there will be an awful lot of standing about as the Church isn't very large, and I don't really want to interrupt the music.

There is rite of veneration of the Relic of the True Cross, which close resembles Benediction. I asked about it last year but all anyone could come up with was the simple Rite in the 1959(?) Pocket Ritual. The more Solemn Rite has the Relic brought in under a red canopy, incense is used and there are proper prayers. I am sure the monks of Heiligenkreuz had a video on YouTube of parts the Rite but I can't find it, I want the text.

I thought the Stabat Mater would be useful during a period of adoration.


Exhibit opens commemorating 80 years of Vatican City State

An extraordinary journey through time and history. In honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Pacts, a display has been set-up at the Braccio di Carlo Magno wing of Vatican City, entitled "1929-2009, Eighty years of the Vatican City State". Until May 10, visitors can enter free of charge and immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the times, full of changes for the small State. The itinerary develops in 5 sections: the first dedicated to the Vatican before 1929; the second to Pius XI, Achille Ratti, the craftsman of the settlement with Italy, great builder of the juridical structure and architect of the new State. Following that is a section on the Lateran Pacts, Treaty and Agreement

Austrian Bishops in open revolt

Rorate Caeli suggests the Austrian Bishops are in "open revolt", below is an extract from a letter issued under the signature of Cardinal von Shoenberg and Austria's senior bishop following an emergency meeting after Fr Wagner withdrew from his appointment as auxilliary bishop to the uber-liberal diocese of Linz. The implications of "factions" seem to indicate the Austrian Church is ungovernable.

"4. There were problems of communication in the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz. The bishops are aware that Fr Wagner asked the Pope to withdraw the appointment. The theme of Episcopal appointments is therefore important because since the mid-eighties in Austria it has been associated with a number of problems. For many, the controversy over episcopal appointments led to a painful conflict, and they have triggered splits in the church.
It is precisely in this area that sensitivity is most appropriate. There is no question that the Pope is free to appoint bishops. The bishops do not want to go back in time where - as in 1918 - the Emperor alone chose the bishops. Even a 'popular choice' of the bishops would divide the church into parties and conflicts would be inevitable.
We bishops are convinced that the procedure provided for in canon law for the selection and the examination of candidates has proved its worth, if this procedure is really followed. Therefore, before the Holy Father takes the final decision, reliable and thoroughly tested basic information must be provided on which he can rely.
In Austria in the next few years a number of bishops are to be appointed. The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible.
This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not 'against' but 'for' a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices."

"Trusting in God's help, we will overcome the crisis of recent weeks." [Adapted according to original text]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine: habeas corpus

Fr Mildew has an intesting post on the relics of St Valentine, there are three St Valentines in the British Isles:

Cardinal Newman who brought the body of St Valentine back from Rome where he found it in a catacombe but had difficulties with customs. At Verona they wanted to open the box containing the relics and at the Custom House it was recorded as a "mummy". It appears they wanted to charge duty on it. It is now found in a shrine at the Birmingham Oratory. At least it is genuine.There are it seems two other "bodies" claiming the name of Valentine enshrined. One is in the Carmelite Church in Dublin sent as a gift from Pope Gregory 16th in 1835 while a trip to Glasgow and a visit to the Church of Blessed Duns Scotus you will discover Valentine No 3 this time the gift of a French family in 1868.

Cardinal: Britain needs the recession

The Cardinal recently caused a stir when he spoke at a fundraising lunch for Britains wealthiest Catholics by talking about the "death of Capitalism". In an interview in Saturday's Times entitled "Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor: recession may be jolt that selfish Britain needs" he put a little more flesh on these words. Here are a couple of extracts but read the whole interview.

According to the Archbishop of Westminster, the economic downturn could be the very thing that brings us to our senses. “It's the end of a certain kind of selfish capitalism,” Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said. “This particular recession is a moment - a kairos - when we have to reflect as a country on what are the things that nourish the values, the virtues, we want to have ... Capitalism needs to be underpinned with regulation and a moral purpose.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Torture Victim

I am proud that I have in the basement of my house with an organisation works for illegal immigrants and torture victims. I have just received this e-mail from another organisation, see what you can do.

Dear Father Ray,

Is there any chance you could bring the case of Sayed Parnian to the attention of your readers? An appeal for him is being run by Brighton Unemployed Workers Centre, which has kickstarted it with a donation of £200. The details of the torture inflicted on him and his wife sound horrific; the experience drove him to make an attempt on his own life this summer.

Best wishes,


Seyed Parnian Torture Care Appeal
For Mr Seyed Parnian from Iran
To pay for care from the Medical Foundation
working with victims of torture
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am writing to you in the hope that you will respond to the situation of Mr Seyed Parnian, an Iranian who has been in the UK as an asylum seeker since 5th April 2006.
Up to 2006, Mr Parnian was working in the family business of importing and exporting heavy machinery. He was successful enough to travel freely all over Europe to do his job. In April 2006, he was in the process of leaving the UK from Gatwick airport when he received a call from his family telling him at all costs not to get on a flight back home, as his house had been searched by the Secret Service. Mr Seyed was charged in his absence with having ‘illegal’ books and his wife was arrested.
Mr Parnian had had a personal dispute nine years previously (1996) with man from one of the Iranian Secret Service organisations and whose family wielded huge power in Iran. In the process of the battle through the Iranian courts, Mr Parnian was imprisoned twice. He was badly tortured, being repeatedly hung upside down and beaten, his teeth smashed out and many more terrible experiences too degrading to put into words. From this period, he was continually harassed, prior to claiming asylum in the UK.
After the Home Office judges refused Mr Parnian asylum, further supporting evidence was gathered and his fresh claim submitted. However, in the time between his first UK trial and his fresh claim (new request for asylum), the very thing that Seyed feared happened. His wife was picked up for the fourth time by the Secret Services in Iran. She was imprisoned, where she was viciously attacked and traumatised, receiving amongst other injuries, a broken nose and bad bruising. She needed immediate hospital treatment upon her release in November 2009.
As a result of his wife’s trauma and his inability to protect his family, Mr Parnian became mentally unstable. He attempted suicide by taking an overdose on June 22nd 2008. He was resuscitated in hospital and a nurse aware of the Medical Foundation alerted a local member to his situation. Seyed’s constant source of fear is that he cannot protect his family and maybe will never see his wife and children again. He suffers from flash backs of the time when he was tortured by the authorities and is in continual physical pain - a symptom very typical of some torture victims.
Mr Parnian has support from individuals within Brighton and Hove and organisations in Sussex. If you are able to donate any amount towards his treatment and towards the production on a Medical Legal Assessment to legally substantiate the story of his torture, could you please forward any donations to the fund we have set up at the following address.
Any amount however small is gratefully received.
It costs £650 for a Medical Legal Assessment to be written, following interviews with specialist doctors
It costs approximately £2,000 for a course of treatment at the Medical Foundation.
Any funds in excess will be donated to the Medical Foundation for the care of victims of torture.
With thanks

Jo Smith (friend and supporter)
Please follow the link below to find out more about the Medical Foundation.

Cheques payable to … (Brighton Unemployed Workers Centre)
Please send to:
Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Appeal
4 Crestway Parade,
The Crestway

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy St Cyril & St Methodius Day

I love those sainted brothers dearly but wishing young lovers Happy St Cyril & St Methodius Day doesn't quite work.

Of course in the Extra-Ordinary Form St Valentine is still a commemoration but the "Holy Brothers" are a feast in the Ordinary Form. What a loss of a great pastoral opportunity to celebrate marriage and chaste love.
Anyone know if Professor Dawkin's sends a St Valentine Day card to anyone? Bet not, atheism is so boring isn't it?

A thought on Maciel

There is lots on the American blogs about the secret life of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado 1920-2008. I don't want to discuss the sordid details of this man, they can be found elsewhere.
What strikes me is that Pope John Paul thought of him as living saint; there were allegations about him, but he was protected by the Pope's regard for him. One of the first acts of Pope Benedict was to send him off into silence and seclusion after setting up an enquiry to investigate the allegations.
I do not think for one instance that the previous Pope acted with any bad intention, he just simply saw the fruit which was prolific: hundreds of vocations, splendid work by the order he founded, deeply committed families that came under his and his orders influence. What he failed to examine was the root, which the present revelations show as being grossly corrupt and depraved.
One of the mysteries of the Christian life is, "where sin is, there grace abounds," or "God writes straight with crooked lines". In the second half of the twentieth century there where extra-ordinary founders like Escriva, Theresa of Calcutta, and yes, Marciel Marcel, maybe even Lefebvre could be included. There were also movements like Charismatic Renewal, Liberation Theology, the Ecumenical Movement and more localised movements like Taize or Medjugorge, possibly even the personal devotion to JPII himself.
It was an age in which the person was pushed to the fore, and in which we looked for immediate fruit and bathed in the charisms of others and searched anxiously for own. We disregarded the "charism" of being a good husband or wife, mother or father, or even just a good person and promoted the extra-ordinary. In the secular world too it was the age of the celebrity and the sound-bite.
I hope we are moving away from all that with the aid of a bit of healthy Augustinian skeptical pessimism, a return to Tradition, to a close examination of texts, to the law and what it says.
The change from the age of John Paul "the Great" to that of Benedict, described by one French journalist as, "the Ordinary" in a way epitomises the transition of the 20th to the 21st century, it is movement to solid ground.


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...