Tuesday, March 31, 2009

World Day of Prayer for Vocations Message

Pope Benedict has addressed to the faithful in the message, made public today, for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated next May 3. The theme is "Faith in the divine initiative - the human response."

The priesthood and consecrated life are an "intertwining of love" between divine initiative and free human response, and even if in some parts of the world there is a "worrisome shortage" of people who accept the "call" of God, believers should not lose confidence that He who guides the Church will provide for its needs.

This means keeping alive "in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer."

Since the vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life constitutes "a special gift of God," it is "he, the Lord, who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow him according to the mysterious plans of his merciful love."

The "free human response" requires, on the part of those called, "careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan."

It is, the pope says, "acceptance of and identification with the plan that God has for everyone; a response which welcomes the Lord’s loving initiative and becomes, for the one who is called, a binding moral imperative, an offering of thanksgiving to God and a total cooperation with the plan which God carries out in history."

Put in this perspective, "the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, 'You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide' (Jn 15:16).

"This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life."

"Attracted by him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness. Today too, many undertake this same demanding journey of evangelical perfection and realise their vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels. The witness of these our brothers and sisters, in contemplative monasteries, religious institutes and congregations of apostolic life, reminds the people of God of 'that mystery of the Kingdom of God is already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven' (Apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, 1)."

The awareness that "the call" is "the initiative of God" provides, in Benedict XVI's message, the answer to the question about "who can consider himself worthy to approach the priestly ministry."

The answer "is never patterned after the timid self-interest of the worthless servant who, out of fear, hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30), but rather expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord’s invitation."

"Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'coresponsibility', responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of his Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5)."

According to the example of Mary's complete trust in the divine initiative, the pope concludes, "do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with him."

A dilemma

It is my silver jubilee in May, in our diocesan calendar it is the feast of St John Houghton, the martyred Prior of the London Charterhouse, I have always kept his feast. In our diocese we have the only Carthusian Monastery in England, I was thinking of asking the Prior if could celebrate a private votive Mass in his honour in the monastery.

I hate "me me" things. Unfortunately the diocese publishes details of jubilees and one or two people found out about it and I have been giving or told about two presents individuals want to give me. The first is no problem, it is another set of vestments, but made by Michael Sternbeck, who runs St Bede's Studio, he made a set of vestments for the Pope when he visited Sydney.

The second is, equally welcome, but a bit more problematic, it is an offer to pay for music for a Mass, I think it is going to be one of the Tomas de Victoria Masses. Music, for me, especially of that period, is so important, it is about the argument from desire, or the "argument from beauty", which is why I believe.

My problem is, which "form" of the Roman Rite to use, Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.

If it is Ordinary Form it means that at every stage the Mass stops and we have a little break of four or five minutes, a concert. It never works, it neither serves the liturgy or the music well and because we will have to stop and start so often it will go on for ages. Being cynical I think Mgr Buginni deliberately designed the post-concilliar liturgy so the great western music written for the Mass would be incompatable with his creation.

If it is the Extraordinary Form then music and liturgy will be an integrated whole, the music will serve the liturgy it was written for but, and this is a big but some of my parishioners will decide not to come, the local clergy will regard it is a singular act of eccentricity , I've lived with that but frankly our sanctuary really doesn't have room for a High Mass, a Missa Cantata, yes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form Will be Celebrated at 8 Locations

Photo Mulier Fortis
I had a press release sent to me from the LMS

The Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form Will be Celebrated at 8 Locations for 2009

In a sign that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) has returned to the heart of the Church, the Latin Mass Society has announced that the Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated at 8 locations within England and Wales.

In recent years the LMS has organised 2-3 celebrations of the Sacred Triduum each year so 2009 is proving a bumper year – clearly Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’ is having a powerful effect. The full Holy Week ceremonies will be celebrated at Lanherne (Cornwall), Reading, South London, Central London, NW London, Brentwood, Leeds, Shrewsbury. A partial Triduum will be celebrated at Ham, Surrey. A full list is available on the LMS website (http://www.latin-mass-society.org/) or from the LMS office.

For many years, the LMS has celebrated the Sacred Triduum at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, London WC2. Because the Triduum was also celebrated there in the Ordinary Form, the LMS had to arrange its celebrations at unusual times. However, this year, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, has graciously arranged that the Ordinary Form congregation of Corpus Christi Church will join the congregation at nearby St Anselm & St Cecilia’s Church in Kingsway for their Ordinary Form Triduum so allowing the Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated at Corpus Christi Church at the usual times (e.g. 3.00 pm on Good Friday).

In a further gesture of reconciliation, Cardinal Cormac has asked one of his priests, Fr Andrew Wadsworth, to celebrate the Corpus Christi Triduum – in previous years the LMS had to make its own arrangements.

John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS said, “We are very grateful to the congregation of Corpus Christi and the parish priest, Fr Chris Vipers, for giving free use of Corpus Christi Church for the Triduum in the Extraordinary Form. We are particularly grateful to Cardinal Cormac for proposing this arrangement and to Fr Wadsworth for coming to join us. Fr Wadsworth knows the Extraordinary Form well and we are looking forward to a wonderful celebration of these Mysteries of our salvation.”

Fr Barron "the Arguement from desire"

Thanks to Da Mihi Animas. Check out Fr Barron on Word on Fire!

Yesterday's Angelus

If you look at the video of yesterday's Angelus, what is most striking is the number of people present, the square seems almost half full. Again and again the Pope attracts huge crowds.

In his Sunday Angelus Pope Benedict XVI spoke of his deeply moving journey to Angola and Cameroon, saying it allowed him to see and under stand the reality of the Church in Africa, the variety of its experiences and the many challenges that it faces. Promising to speak at greater length of his trip in his Wednesday audience, the Pope went on to underline two aspects which he said struck him most. First the peoples visible joy, their joy of being a part of Gods family; and secondly, the strong sense of the sacred which permeated the liturgical celebrations.

Voice of Africa Supports Pope

Faithful from various African countries hold up a sign with writing reading 'Condom is not the solution, Abstinence, Fidelity' during Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday March 29, 2009.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Real discrimination against Catholics

I know of couple of young doctors who have decided psychiatry was most probably the best career for a faithful Catholic. Catholic Commentary poses a few questions that have been going through my mind.

1. Can a Catholic, faithful to the teaching of the Church, get a job as a year head in a state school, where they will be expected to manage a sex education programme that promotes contraception and, at best, remains indifferent to abortion, where they will be complicit in the referral of girls from the school for abortion?

2. Can Catholics, faithful to the teaching of the Church, progress in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology in the NHS?

3. How do Catholic GPs, nurses and midwives fare when, after child birth, it is expected that they will offer advice to their patients on methods of contraception?

4. How do Catholic nurses and doctors fare with regard to the care of patients living out the last days of their lives under regimes such as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which do not make adequate provision for nutrition and hydration?

These are real discriminations that affect ordinary Catholics in their every day lives. I wonder what Dr Evan Harris wants to do about these?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


This is the fourth part of an Italian documentary on Lourdes, it shows some interesting early footage of pilgrimages and devotions.

Pope still enjoys the trust of the masses

A journalist friend of mine always says, "Ignore the front page, that's a distraction, look for what is really going on". I think there is something in this when it coms to reporting on the Holy Father, attacking him is an easy distraction, especially by politicians. I suspect as the economic crisis worstens there will be more attacks.
Sandro Magister points out despite being rocked by criticism, this pope continues to enjoy the trust of the masses. His trip to Africa and a survey in Italy prove this. The reason is that he speaks of God to a humanity in search of direction

"The Church and the pope speak out on sensitive topics of public and private ethics in an open and direct way. They offer answers that are debatable, and are often debated, contested by the left or by the right. Nonetheless, they offer certainty to an unsure society, in search of points of reference and values. For this reason, 8 out of 10 Italians, among the non-practicers, consider it important to give their children a Catholic education, and enroll them in the hour of religious instruction. For this reason, a very large majority of families, close to 90 percent, choose to direct 0.8 percent of their income taxes to the Catholic Church."

And it is for this same reason – one might add – that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has not joined in the recent chorus of criticisms against the pope from representatives of France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, etc. On the contrary, he has taken the opposite approach.

On March 21, he said that the Church must be respected, and that its freedom of speech and action must be defended "even when one finds it proclaiming principles and concepts that are difficult and unpopular, far from the fashionable opinions." With this, Berlusconi simply expressed the view shared by many Italians.
Parallel to this read James Kalb on The Tyranny of Liberalism.

Friday, March 27, 2009

End of anti-Catholic discrimination?

Gordon Brown and Buckingham Palace have been in talks about ending the 300-year discrimination against Roman Catholics in Britain which still prevents an heir to throne from marrying a Catholic. The BBC reports it here.

Is it about justice for Catholics? Most probably not.


Is it a move to disestablish the Church of England? Certainly.

Is that a bad thing? Most probably, as poor as many of the Anglican bishops are at representing mainstream Christianity, their presence in the establishment is at least a reminder that Britain once had a Christian heritage. It is the attack on our Christian heritage that seems to be a key priority of our government.
Overturning this obvious piece of discrimination could be Pyrrhic victory.

Lancaster Appalled

26 March 2009
Statement from Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster

“It has been widely reported in the media that the Advertising Standards Authority is
considering allowing the abortion industry to advertise through the broadcasting
media. This deeply damaging proposal originates from the Independent Advisory
Group on Sexual Health & HIV and therefore comes from the heart of the abortion
industry – threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this
I am appalled that this proposal will result in the deaths of many more preborn
children and cause untold harm to women. As a society, we need to wake up and
stop treating abortion as a quick-fix solution to pregnancy and offer compassionate
and practical support to women facing crisis pregnancies. The Cardinal Winning
Pro-Life Initiative in Scotland is a shining example of the Church and others
reaching out to pregnant women who find themselves isolated and frightened,
offering emotional support and practical help such as liaising with families and
providing financial assistance to women in need.
The killing of the innocent can never be a genuine solution to a problem. I urge all
those who care about the sanctity of human life to voice their opposition to this
proposal with one voice. At the same time, please consider lending your support to
our pro-life organizations that care about mothers and their preborn children. “

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Proposition 23

The implications of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist are still being worked out, apparently the Congregation for Divine Worship are still debating proposition 23, of which many, many bishops were in favour.
Proposition 23

The Sign of Peace

The greeting of peace in the Holy Mass is an expressive sign of great value and depth (cf. John 14:27). However, in certain cases, it assumes a dimension that could be problematic, when it is too prolonged or even when it causes confusion, just before receiving Communion.

Perhaps it would be useful to assess if the sign of peace should take place at another moment of the celebration, taking into account ancient and venerable customs.
The is if the Sign of Peace were moved what would be the form of the Communion Rite? Some people claim the Our Father always ended with Sign of Peace saying the two things entered the Roman Rite at the same time - though not the Ambrosian Rite where it precedes the Offertory.

Presumably the Our Father will stay but what about the "Deliver us, Lord" with its reference to "give us peace in our day"?

It would be strange to have the prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your Apostle my peace I give you, my peace I leave you ...". What about the Agnus Dei, with it reference to "... grant us peace"?

So what might we be left with? Presumably

the Our Father,

maybe the "Deliver us Lord",

some prayer at the co-mixture,

maybe the Agnus Dei,

the "This is Lamb of God..."

the priest's preparatory prayer(s) before Holy Communion

the "Lord I am not worthy..."

followed by Holy Communion

It is quite similar to the Usus Antiquor Low Mass, isn't it?

Cardinal George: America is risking despotism

The Catholic Herald runs the back story to this little video by the Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, apparently it follows a meeting with President Obama.

"Why shouldn't our government and our legal system permit conscientious objection to a morally bad action, the killing of babies in their mother's womb? People understand what really happens in an abortion and in related procedures - a living member of the human family is killed - and no one should be forced by the government to act as though he or she were blind to this reality."

Missali Manuscripta Bruges 1475-1476 Crucifixion

I thought you might enjoy the music and the illustrations.

Fit and Healthy

Pregnancy "advice" services, both those in favour of abortion and those against, will be permitted to advertise, under a review by the Advertising Standards Authority, and here is the absolutely best news, condoms are going to be advertised around the clock.
Can't you just imagine how much more sexually healthy we are all going to be?
It is so obvious that these measures will encourage sexual athleticism, which again must be good news.
We have seen how successful condoms have been in controlling HIV in Africa, everyone knows it is much more efficient to give a boxful of condoms rather than educating people about abstinence and fidelity in marriage.
I can just imagine mums sending their children to school checking to make sure they have their gym kit, their homework and at least a couple of condoms in their pockets. We all know that that is going to result much less absenteeism at school it is going to stop so many mums ringing up to say their little one won't be coming to school this morning as they are going to be visiting the STD clinic. Yes, of course sexually transmitted diseases are going to be a thing of the past, isn't this great news? And for those boys who want to have sex with that timid girl who is always making excuses for not having sex, he can assure her by saying, "Look, I've a choice of condoms, choose, there is no problem".
As for "pregnancy advice services" being able to advertise that is really brilliant, it is going to mean every child that is born can be certain it is a wanted child. You can imagine slogans like "a child is not just for Christmas". Perhaps the abortion industry could save our economy ...................grr!
For the lady from Arkansas, I am being ironic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some thoughts on Mariology

That eminent member of the Anglican Communion, Fr Hunwicke has a series of three posts on Our Lady of Victories, his thesis is that modern Catholic devotion to the Mother of God is a bit wishy washy compared to that of a previous age, and compared to that of the Orthodoxy, the following brought a smile to my face.

... if the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, they would probably have a translation of it beginning Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the homophorion of Mary, going on before.
It seems strange that the Vatican II placed its teaching on the Blessed Virgin firmly in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic document on the Church, the problem is that this chapter, the last in the document, is very beautiful but it is almost "bolted on" to the main document which can be read quite happily without the Marian chapter. There is no strong Marian theme running through the documents of the Council. The same can be said for the post-concilliar liturgy: the confiteor with its reference to Mary is optional, mention of her name has been expunged from the offertory and the Libera nos. The replacement of the genuflexion at the Incarnatus est, within the creed by a bow in so many places means these important words go by unmarked, as is the rubrical instruction to bow the head at Mary's name.

The problem is not just an absence of real Marian devotion in the lives of many Catholics but a loss of understanding of that strong incarnational theology of the Father's that gave rise to it. The Sceptre of o/Orthodoxy, "as fiercesome as army in array", no longer guards the deposit of faith with same vigour she once did. A weak Mariology brings with it an assault on the Incarnation, on Grace, on the concept of Divinisation, on the theology of the Church, on Man himself. Contemporary Mariology in the West seems saccharine compared to what happens in the East.

She who once dominated the apses of our churches is now relegated to a side chapel. So many clergy have real difficulty in admitting a Marian hymn or anthem to the liturgy.

The Imitation of Christ: on the Monastic Life

There is a monk, a nun, a solitary at the heart of all Christians. All are called to flee the world, to dwell in the silence of desert, to dwell with God alone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Annunciation: lux est orta

How fitting that the icon of the annunciation should form the Royal Doors of the Iconastasis in a Byzantine Church, these doors are from St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai. The sanctuary, the Holy of Holies of the Church symbolises the womb of the Blessed Virgin, here by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son is conceived brought forth into the world.

Gabriel, meaning -the icon of God speaks and the Word becomes flesh and dwells amonst us. Both Mary and Gabriel are types of the Church. Through the voice of the Angel and compliance of the Virgin mankind encounters God himself.

The second Icon shows more clearly Mary sitting on a throne, she herself becomes the throne of Heaven, behind already the veil is already being drawn aside. It is the throne of David but it also a gate, the entrance to the Temple and the Church, and the Gate of Heaven.
Mary is clothed in the earth coloured garments of humility in this particular for here the Eternal Word empties himself his Divinity taking on the form of a servant.
She is holding in her hand a skein of scarlet wool "the good spouse is forever spinning" but it is also to remind us also of the red lambs wool Moses used to sprinkle the people with. Temple and sacrifice are here, and yet the throne also has appearance of a ciborium or baldochino over an altar.
As Gabriel speaks, the Holy Spirit descends, the veil above Mary is pushed back, heaven joins itself directly to her. Gabriel stand on a swirling pavement that speaks of heaven, yet Mary is raised above him. The horizantal line behind him direct us towards Mary who is surronded with verticles.
Salve Porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta

US and UK what's the difference

As you know President Obama, of the USA has been invited to speak at Notre Dame University, the local ordinary, Bishop D'Arcy is not going to be there. Fr Z carries the following which is on Diocese of Fort-Wayne-South Bend website.

Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame
graduation, receiving honorary law degree

March 24, 2009

On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.

President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.

This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.

My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.

I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.

I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.

Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.

Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.

What I do not understand is the difference between bishops in the US and the UK and between Blair and Obamah.

Massimo Miracle

A young member of the Massimo family died without the sacraments, St Philip Neri went to the youth brought him back to life heard his confession and allowed him to die in a state of grace.

On the anniversary of miracle Masses are celebrated through out the day, the photograph courtesy of John Sonnem is of Abp Burke being assisted downstair by a family retainer.
Orwell's Picnic has other pictures of the palace.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Orthodox Prepare for a Pan-Orthodox Synod

I think this might be of some significance, we'll see. There are significant problems in Orthodoxy at the moment between Constantinople, Moscow and Athens.

The spokesman of the Patriarchate made this announcement on Monday in Istanbul. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople wishes to resolve the tensions within the Orthodox churches with a substantial church meeting. Accordingly this year, two preparatory meetings are planned. The aim is to provide the theological foundations for a "Pan-Orthodox Synod" .

The first conference is scheduled for June in Cyprus, the second in December at a location still to be announced.

The initiative is comparable in value to a council. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I received support in October 2008 from all the Orthodox patriarchs and archbishops of independent national churches for this summit, including the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate.

Spero News says the agenda will concern the following ten points:

1. The Orthodox diaspora, where the jurisdiction over the Orthodox flock beyond national borders will be defined. According to the canons now in effect, before the growth in the phenomenon of emigration the faithful outside of their home country belong to the ecumenical patriarchate.
2. The manner of recognizing the status of autocephalous Church. 3. The manner of recognizing the status of Church autonomy.
4. Dypticha, meaning the rules of mutual canonical recognition among the Orthodox Churches.
5. Establishing a common calendar for feasts. For example, some Churches celebrate the Nativity on December 25, others 10 days later.
6. Impediments and canonicity of the sacrament of matrimony.
7. The question of fasting in the contemporary world.
8. Relationships with the other Christian confessions.
9. The ecumenical movement.
10. The contribution of the Orthodox in affirming the Christian ideals of peace, fraternity, and freedom.

Presumably one issue that will also be discussed is future of Constantinople Patriarchate itself.

Want a job with PO'D?

The Dioceses of Lancaster are looking for a Director of Youth Services, they are offering £26k plus accomodation. I received the following from the Bishop O'Donoghue's secretary.

Following an extensive Review of Youth Service provision
in the Diocese of Lancaster, we are now looking to expand
our work among young people.
Therefore the Trustees of the Diocese are looking to
appoint an enthusiastic and energetic
Director of Catholic Youth Services
for the Diocese of Lancaster
who will take up the renewed Diocesan vision and develop
a service for young people of the diocese which is holistic,
integrated and dynamic!

This post will be subject to an enhanced CRB check.
Salary range from £26k per annum + benefits.
Accommodation is provided with this position.
This exciting new Service - which will include Outreach and
Residential provision - is to be based at a refurbished Castlerigg
Manor, set in a stunning location in the heart of the English Lake

For an application pack, please contact:
The Bishop’s Secretary
Bishop’s Office
The Pastoral Centre
Balmoral Road

Closing Date for Applications: 8 April 2009
Date for interviews: 21 April 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pope: only the light of God can overcome the great "darkness" cast by war and greed

Only the light of God can overcome the great "darkness" present in "many parts of our world," the evil represented by wars and tribal violence, but also by the egoism of men who exploit other men, leading to that hedonism which is at the source of escape into drugs, "sexual irresponsibility," destruction of families and innocent human lives through abortion. Benedict XVI today addressed an invitation to reconciliation and hope to all of Africa, from the esplanade of Cimangola, in Luanda, Angola, where a million people gathered to participate in the great celebration that in a certain way concludes the first trip of Benedict XVI to Africa, from where he will depart again tomorrow.

"Our prayer," he said at the Angelus, "rises today from Angola, from Africa, and embraces the whole world. May the men and women from throughout the world who join us in our prayer, turn their eyes to Africa, to this great Continent so filled with hope, yet so thirsty for justice, for peace, for a sound and integral development that can ensure a future of progress and peace for its people."

Peace, reconciliation, and justice, which will be the theme of the Synod for Africa next October, take on special resonance in this country where 27 years of civil war have left more than one antipersonnel mine for each of the 13 million inhabitants, and where the enormous natural resources - from oil to diamonds - are giving rise to economic development dominated by China - which does not "interfere" in questions like respect for human rights - with extremely deep social inequalities.

The pope also made reference to war. Taking as his point of departure the readings at Mass, he said that "its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can 'destroy everything of value' (cf. 2 Chr 36:19): families, whole communities, the fruit of men’s labour, the hopes which guide and sustain their lives and work! This experience is all too familiar to Africa as a whole: the destructive power of civil strife, the descent into a maelstrom of hatred and revenge, the squandering of the efforts of generations of good people. When God’s word – a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family – is neglected, and when God’s law is 'ridiculed, despised, laughed at' (ibid., v. 16), the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son."

"How much darkness," he added, "there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men’s hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society – a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values. And what of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?"

To this country and to Africa as a whole, represented here by bishops and faithful who came from all the nearby countries, the pope's message was that of becoming "new" thanks to the faith. God, he said, has given us "his commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us!" The "gift" of the Gospel, he added, "affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young."

To the young people who are the majority of the population on this continent, and whom, yesterday, he had urged to have the courage to make definitive decisions, to take on a lifelong commitments, today he said they should "grow in your friendship with Jesus." "Seek his will for you by listening to his word daily, and by allowing his law to shape your lives and your relationships. In this way you will become wise and generous prophets of God’s saving love. Become evangelizers of your own peers, leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and the hope of a future shaped by the values of God’s Kingdom. The Church needs your witness! Do not be afraid to respond generously to God’s call, whether it be to serve him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you."

The pope had already spoken about young people at the beginning of the Mass, when he expressed his sadness over the death of two young women yesterday at the stadium of Luanda and sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to the 40 young people injured in the stampede at the entrance to the stadium. "I wish to include in this Eucharist," he said, "a special prayer for the two young women who yesterday lost their lives at the stadium Dos Coqueiros. Let us entrust them," he continued, "to Jesus, that he may welcome them into his kingdom. To their relatives and friends I express my solidarity and my most profound condolences, in part because they were coming to see me. At the same time, I pray for those injured, and wish them a speedy recovery. Let us entrust ourselves," he concluded, "to the unfathomable designs of God."
Asia News

Pope urges African leaders to eradicate corruption, violence

"With the weapons of integrity, magnanimity, and compassion, you can transform the continent and free your people from the scourge of cupidity, violence and turmoil, and lead them on the path paved with principles indispensable to any modern and democracy....
.....the respect and promotion of human rights, fair governance, independent judiciary, a free press, civil democracy, a network of effective schools and hospitals, and most importantly, a resolve coming from converted hearts to wipe out corruption, once and for all".
Pope Benedict in Angola today

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why not leave them in peace?

Radio Vatican features the homily at the Mass with the Religious of Angola.

Someone may object: “Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves.” But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.

Interview with Archbishop Smith

Radio 4 carried an interview with John Allen in Angola and Archbishop Peter Smith on the the Pope, condoms and communications, the Archbishop at his media savvie best, worth listening to.

Transitus of Saint Benedict

Friday, March 20, 2009

Benedict in Cameroon a tale of two trips

John Allen is in press corps following the Pope read his take on the visit.

I have a vague feeling some Baka tribesmen have been taking me too seriously, they gave the Pope a turtle, here being cared for by Fr Lombardi, but it is good to have you reading the blog, guys.

Why was Joanna doing this?

I didn't see this interview when it was broadcast, some of my parishioners said they thought Joanna Bogle was indeed fierce, angry etc., etc. I am afraid that if I were her and not being listened to I would have just got up and walked out.

My question is why wasn't there a bishop speaking up to defend the Holy Father? Who is the bishop who is concerned with "Life" or "Third World" issues? Failing a bishop, why was there not some highly trained spokesman from the Catholic Media Office, or the Bishop's Conference, from Eccleston Square, or the Diocese of Westminster, or, or, or....?
Why is it that Auntie Joanna, pedals on her bike to the BBC, having got her notes together on her kitchen table, is the only person whoever defends the Pope and the Catholic Church. Is it that all the official organs we have actually are unwilling to do it? or do not hold Catholic doctrine? or they just incompetent?
I thank God for Joanna Bogle, I think I might start wearing a badge, "Joanna Bogle for Westminster", but she shouldn't have to do everything, unresourced by the Church.
A great deal of criticism has been poured out on Fr Lombardi and the Vatican Press Office, a great deal more should be directed at our own Media Office and the way in which our Bishops proclaim the Catholic Faith.
Surely we cannot depend on Joanna and the Pope to be the only communicators or defenders of Catholicism?
Isn't the prime function of the Church to communicate salvation? The lamentable way it has been doing it recently says something significant about where we see our priorities.
How sad we can't find someone to be to be interviewed by Jon Snow!

thanks to Patrick Madrid for the video

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Videos from the Cameroon

What the Pope should have said

We had a little party tonight after Stations of the Cross with the Stabat Mater in Latin and Benediction, we also sang the Litany of St Joseph. Afterward we had a bit of a party.

Everybody was horrified by the Pope's treatment in the press. Why should the Catholic Churches teaching on condoms be so shocking? Maybe because, we priests and bishops don't speak about it often enough.

Someone suggested that if the Holy Father had suggested that condoms were bad not because of the damage they do human sexual ecology but because as they are not biodegradable, if they disposed of at sea they lodge in the guts of baby turtles, dolphins and whales, who eat them think they are fish and if they are disposed in city rubbish tips lion and leopard cub might eat them with the same consequences.

Happy St Joseph's Day

I had a lovely young couple with me last night, like most couples I marry or prepare for marriage they were living with one another. I have started asking them nowadays how they are going to arrange things so that on their wedding day they are going to "burn" with desire for one another with the same passion as those who live chastely should. I leave them to discuss it between themselves.
I also remind them that marriage is a relationship that is exclusive, that chastity is as much part of marriage as sexual intercourse and at times they will have to, for love of one another, take up the cross and remain chaste, maybe for years.
In the love of St Joseph for the Blessed Virgin, there is already the cross present, there is self denial, there is a manly self abnegation.
Interesting, his feast occurrs during Lent.

Without misgiving or restraint

A group of journalists, politicians and dissident Catholics, clerical and lay, attack the Pope.

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Priest: First and foremost, a man of prayer

The Holy Father met with the Bishops of Cameroon today, in the light of the planned Year of Priests, I thought this was apposite.
His full speach is hear.

Dear Brothers, the Bishop and his priests are called to maintain relations of close communion, founded on the one priesthood of Christ in which they share, albeit in different degrees. The quality of the bond uniting you with the priests, your principal and irreplaceable co-workers, is of the greatest importance. If they see in their Bishop a father and a brother who loves them, listens to them and offers them comfort in their trials, who devotes particular attention to their human and material needs, they are encouraged to carry out their ministry whole-heartedly, worthily and fruitfully. The words and example of their Bishop have a key role in inspiring them to give their spiritual and sacramental life a central place in their ministry, spurring them on to discover and to live ever more deeply the particular role of the shepherd as, . The spiritual and sacramental life is an extraordinary treasure, given to us for ourselves and for the good of the people entrusted to us. I urge you, then, to be especially vigilant regarding the faithfulness of priests and consecrated persons to the commitments made at their ordination or entry into religious life, so that they persevere in their vocation, for the greater holiness of the Church and the glory of God. The authenticity of their witness requires that there be no dichotomy between what they teach and the way they live each day.

Pope on Condoms

Lest it be taken out of context, here is the exchange that took place on the pope's plane. The question's premise was "The Catholic Church's position on the way to fight against AIDS is often considered unrealistic and ineffective," and the pope responded:

"I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant'Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS ... and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.

"I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money -- which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn't help.

"One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

"The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

"Therefore I would say this is our double strength -- to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."

The pope's words reflected a statement he made to South African bishops in 2005, when he noted that the church is in the forefront in the treatment of AIDS and said the "only fail-safe way" to prevent its spread is found in the church's traditional teaching on sexual responsibility.

In saying that condom-promotion programs only increase the problem, the pope appeared to agree with those who have put forward several arguments: that condoms have a failure rate and so are never completely safe; that encouragement of condom use may promote promiscuity, a factor in the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; and that reliance on condom campaigns has overshadowed more effective means of prevention, namely fidelity and chastity.

There is another factor in the pope's thinking, according to an Italian theologian, Franciscan Father Maurizio Faggioni, who has advised the Vatican on sexual morality issues. The pope sees condom campaigns as a question of cultural violence, especially in Africa, where there has never been a "contraceptive mentality," Father Faggioni said.

The question of whether condom use in some circumstances may be morally acceptable is a separate and more difficult question, Father Faggioni told Catholic News Service.
Catholic News Service.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I just like Chantal's amazing hat!

Pope Benedict XVI speaks to Cameroon's President Paul Biya, as Biya's wife Chantal applauds, at the international airport in Yaounde.
I know, it is bad form to comment on peoples clothes.

First words in Africa

Addressed to the President

I come among you as a pastor, I come to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith. This was the role that Christ entrusted to Peter at the Last Supper, and it is the role of Peter’s successors. When Peter preached to the multitudes in Jerusalem at Pentecost, there were visitors from Africa present among them. And the witness of many great saints from this continent during the first centuries of Christianity – Saint Cyprian, Saint Monica, Saint Augustine, Saint Athanasius, to name but a few – guarantees a distinguished place for Africa in the annals of Church history. Right up to the present day, waves of missionaries and martyrs have continued to bear witness to Christ throughout Africa, and today the Church is blessed with almost a hundred and fifty million members. How fitting then, that Peter’s successor should come to Africa, to celebrate with you the life-giving faith in Christ that sustains and nourishes so many of the sons and daughters of this great continent!


Even amid the greatest suffering, the Christian message always brings hope. The life of Saint Josephine Bakhita offers a shining example of the transformation that an encounter with the living God can bring to a situation of great hardship and injustice. In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent. The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear, so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people’s lives. Here in Africa, as in so many parts of the world, countless men and women long to hear a word of hope and comfort. Regional conflicts leave thousands homeless or destitute, orphaned or widowed. In a continent which, in times past, saw so many of its people cruelly uprooted and traded overseas to work as slaves, today human trafficking, especially of defenseless women and children, has become a new form of slavery. At a time of global food shortages, financial turmoil, and disturbing patterns of climate change, Africa suffers disproportionately: more and more of her people are falling prey to hunger, poverty, and disease. They cry out for reconciliation, justice and peace, and that is what the Church offers them. Not new forms of economic or political oppression, but the glorious freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21). Not the imposition of cultural models that ignore the rights of the unborn, but the pure healing water of the Gospel of life. Not bitter interethnic or interreligious rivalry, but the righteousness, peace and joy of God’s kingdom, so aptly described by Pope Paul VI as the civilization of love (cf. Regina Coeli Message, Pentecost Sunday, 1970).

Here in Cameroon, where over a quarter of the population is Catholic, the Church is well placed to carry forward her mission of healing and reconciliation. At the Cardinal Léger Centre, I shall observe for myself the pastoral solicitude of this local Church for the sick and the suffering; and it is particularly commendable that Aids sufferers are able to receive treatment free of charge in this country. Education is another key element of the Church’s ministry, and now we see the efforts of generations of missionary teachers bearing fruit in the work of the Catholic University for Central Africa, a sign of great hope for the future of the region.

Cameroon is truly a land of hope for many in Central Africa. Thousands of refugees from war-torn countries in the region have received a welcome here. It is a land of life, with a Government that speaks out in defense of the rights of the unborn. It is a land of peace: by resolving through dialogue the dispute over the Bakassi peninsula, Cameroon and Nigeria have shown the world that patient diplomacy can indeed bear fruit. It is a land of youth, blessed with a young population full of vitality and eager to build a more just and peaceful world. Rightly is it described as “Africa in miniature”, home to over two hundred different ethnic groups living in harmony with one another. These are all reasons for giving praise and thanks to God.

As I come among you today, I pray that the Church here and throughout Africa will continue to grow in holiness, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. I pray that the work of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will fan into a flame the gifts that the Spirit has poured out upon the Church in Africa. I pray for each of you, for your families and loved ones, and I ask you to join me in praying for all the people of this vast continent. God bless Cameroon! And God bless Africa!

(Via Vatican Radio)
Via Vatican Radio

Off to Africa

Meanwhile a Cameroonian sits in the rubble of his market stall, destroyed by the government ahead of the Pope's visit.

Happy St Patrick's Day

St Patrick Apostle to the Irish people, pray for the Church you founded.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rogue Priests and Bishops and Schism

One of the things that must have been at the back of the Holy Father's, which is only hinted at, in his letter about the lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX, is the problem of rogue priests and worst, rogue bishops.
A real a genuine fear of the Holy Father is sacraments celebrated outside of communion with the Church. In the case of the SSPX, as neither their bishops or priests have jurisdiction, both marriages and the sacrament of penance celebrated by them are as invalid as the baptisms celebrated at St Mary's in South Brisbane, in which the priest used the formula, "In the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier". Here is the latest on that story. I hope SSPX priests warn their followers of this before they give these sacraments.

The fact that the Catholic Church considers these sacraments as invalid is an assertion that their followers are still within the bosom of Mother Church and subject to her discipline. We don't, after all, consider Anglican marriages invalid, unless a Catholic is attempting marriage in an Anglican Church.

The situation is pretty horrendous when one considers the effects of a rogue priest, but they pale into insignificance with a rogue bishop, because a bishop can create other bishops. What Fr Kennedy has done in Brisbane will end when his ministry ends but with a rogue bishop the damage can go on forever, they can create priests, but more significantly they can create other bishops with valid orders, thus creating a parallel Church, a schism, the obvious example is the Old Catholic schism from the 19th century, a modern one is that created by Archbishop Malingo.

Schism has always been feared in the Church more than heresy, which is why Popes are always loathe to depose or excommunicate errant, even heretical bishops, better for them to be dealt with gently in the Church, or even quietly grow old and die in communion with it, than be cast into outer darkness where they can do untold damage.

One of the positive acts of all four of the SSPX bishops is that they have not ordained other bishops, apart from Bishop Rangel in Campos, whose diocese was eventually reconciled but have actually sought to have their own excommunications lifted and to be reconciled to Peter, this is truly filial and deserves to be recognised as such. For the Pope, the great fear is that as the bishops grow older, and face death, and no solution is found there is always the prospect that one of them might ordain another bishop and what was schismatic act might indeed become an actual schism.

Pope announces Year for Priests

(VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".

"The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".

Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

"The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.

"The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.

"The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".

Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".

"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".


I often get asked to write references for people, it is priestly thing, very occassionally I get asked to write one for someone aspiring to the religious life, I have written a few of these, mainly for rather strict, traditional, continental monasteries or convents.

Today I sent off a reference for someone applying for the secular priesthood, unfortunately not for my own diocese. Say a prayer for him, I think he will make an excellent priest.

And so to Africa

A picture of the Holy Father in Cameroon's national colours, outside the Mary Queen of Apostles Basilica in Yaounde March 15, 2009, where Pope Benedict will celebrate vespers on March 18. Pope Benedict this week makes his first trip to Africa, starting in Cameroon, where he will urge developed nations grappling with the economic crisis not to forget the continent where survival is a daily struggle for millions. In the 20th century Africa's Catholic population shot up from about 2 million in 1900 to about 140 million in 2000, making the continent ever more important to the Vatican as the number of practicing Catholics in the developed world declines.
The Pope Leaves for Africa tomorrow, presumably he is packing today.

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...