Saturday, November 28, 2009

Abuse: a Post Concilliar Problem?

One of the things that has always shocked me about the whole sexual abuse by priests issue, is how could a priest saying Mass daily, going to Confession weekly or at least fortnightly, having been brought up with the clear cut moral theology of the pre-Concilliar era, knowing that any mortal sin would place his soul in jeopardy of Divine judgement, well, how could he do it?

One of my correspondants highlighted, Bryan, cited one telling instance:
In another case in a Deaf School for Girls, pupils complained that the priest was kissings them after hearing their confessions. The Sister-Headmistress asked him not to do that and the priest agreed if it was troubling the girls. The Sister explained she had thought this was part of the new way of hearing confessions after VII.
 He asks whether it was stupidity, well actually I think it was naivety, remember the first serious academic study on paedorasty was only published in the late 70s. Anecdotally the pre-Concilliar era was one of sexual repression, of "bath-smocks" and talc on the water, just to avoid seeing yourself, let alone anyone else.

Gerald Warner suggests convincingly, that sexual abuse, was a post-Concilliar problem, something from "the let it all hang out era", when everything was up for grabs including celibacy and moral theology, when asceticism and penance had beome dirty words and old certainties had given way to uncertainties.

Uganda: Death Penalty for Gays

St Charles Lwanga along with his companions suffered martyrdom for resisting the homosexual advances of the king, in the same persecution, stemming from the same reasons the Anglican Bishop Hannington, from a Brighton family, was killed along with a large number of Anglican converts,

John Allen reports:
In October, a Ugandan parliamentarian named David Bahati, a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement and an Evangelical Christian, introduced the “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.” In a nutshell, the measure would establish life in prison as the penalty for even a single instance of homosexual behavior (which the bill defines in graphic detail). It also creates a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” subject to the death penalty. Examples include:

•Homosexual relations with a minor or a disabled person;
•Cases where the “offender” (the person initiating the homosexual encounter) has HIV, uses drugs or intoxicants to procure sex, or wields authority over the “victim”;
•Repeated homosexual acts.
Anyone who fails to report homosexuals to the police would face a prison term of three years. The bill also bars the “promotion” of homosexuality, in language that would essentially outlaw pro-gay support or advocacy groups.
 Allen says homosexuality is seen as a western white vice, so the proposed bill is seen as anti-colonialist but also as in most former British colonies Anglicanism is the major Christian body, the acceptance of homosexuality generally within international Anglicanism has been used as a weapon by Moslems to attack Christianity generally. As a reaction against this, other Protestant groups have become more intense in the anti-gay activity, this part of that reaction.
Allen points out the Catholic Church is keeping a low profile, caught in a cleft stick, having more problems with the death penalty, imprisonment for failing to report homosexuals, which presumably would have implications for the confessional.
For us it raises interesting issues about what we expect the state should do about issue we consider to be seriously sinful, like adultery, homosexual acts, abortion, euthanasia, shuld there be a judicial penalty?

Healed Deacon Snubs Cherie

The American deacon Jack Sullivan who was healed at the intercession of Cardinal Newman, has repudiated a visit he made to Mrs Blair:

As soon as he was made aware of Mrs Blair’s record of public dissent from the Church’s teaching, Jack requested that all reference to meeting her be removed from the published recollections of his visit. The article on Times Online was duly amended yesterday (November 26th), but unfortunately Jack’s request came too late to remove the reference to Mrs Blair from the print version of the Herald.

The conjunction of Mrs Blair’s ‘conscientious’ dissent from the teaching of the Church with Jack Sullivan’s apparent endorsement of her could do harm to Newman’s reputation, and that is our reason for posting this clarification. Newman is indeed the great teacher of the rights and duties of conscience. It is of the greatest importance that his teaching is not used to make him the patron of Catholics, like Cherie Blair and others, who in the name of conscience practice dissent from the Church’s teaching.
The decision to arrange Jack’s visit to Mrs Blair, and then to publicise it under Jack’s name, has not contributed to upholding a true interpretation either of Newman, or of Cherie Blair. We hope that making public Jack’s desire, as far as possible, to reverse that decision, however, will do something to draw attention to the truth that is in danger of being obscured.
Read the original

The Apostleship of the Sea used Mrs Blair to front its appeal  this year, a few weeks ago they rang around chasing up the money, that has not happened before. When I told them I would not be sending any because of Ms Blair's involvement and I had refused to display the poster displaying lest it scandalise the faithful, I got a silly snotty letter from the Development Manager Sheila Bailey, saying they didn't make judgements.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dublin Scandal

As an Englishman I write this with trepidation.

When I was first ordained all Irish people in England seemed to practice.
Nowadays, I presume that most aren’t. At one time for the most part the priest was welcomed into Irish homes, nowadays there is a tension.

On several occasions over the last few years before a death or following a funeral of a respected member of the community, a son or daughter has turned up, unknown to anyone else, who had been up for adoption years ago. They had been “forgotten”, their appearance unwelcome by their parent, their presence glossed over by friends and other relatives. There are things which are secret and things which are not spoken about, there is always insistence on a eulogy that reflects what appeared to be rather than what actually was.
It was against these experiences I read the reports of the sexual predation and abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese, the revelations are actually truly shameful. The big scandal was secrecy and cover-up, keeping up appearances, hypocrisy, it was these things that damned the Church and damned the State too in slightly more muted terms. It strikes me that this report and the Ryan report too only scrape the surface, the Irish media knocks the Church off its privileged pedestal, it reacts against Catholic Ireland; government ministers posture, suggesting Ireland has moved on, inferring they are as distant from it as they are from absentee landlords, the famine, the emigrations, the civil war. What will never be addressed is the level of cover-up in other areas of Irish society, nor the levels of sexual abuse or violence against the vulnerable outside of the Church and institutions related to it.
There is something Joycian in all of this. It is convenient in post-Catholic Ireland to use the Church as a scapegoat, loading the sins of the nation onto it and driving it into the wilderness, perhaps that is where it belongs, if it is indeed the unworthy bearer of Christ’s message rather than being a metaphor for Irish society, in which case it merely becomes another form of cover-up .

Valueless Children

The message on the British Humanist Association poster

Oh the hypocrisy! What is missing here is of course is the label "valueless child".

The biggest threat to children in today’s society is the absence of values, or in Gordon Brown’s words, the absence of a “moral compass”.
The British Humanist Association wants parents to be absent from children’s moral growth. This poster identifies the core values of BHA as a direct attack on the family, the distancing of children from parents. Study after study relates children’s unhappiness, failure in education, high pregnancy and sexual decease rates, failure in forming relationships, crime, alcohol, drug use, psychological problems, etc, etc to a failure in parents to pass on values.
h/t In Hoc

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Swine 'flu no bar to Communion on the Tongue

Writing to a British Catholic the CDW said a bishop cannot restrict peoples right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue despite the risk of an N1H1 epidemic.
According to Rorate Caeli.

Sanctuary Changes

The big problem we have had with the "mock-up" of the sanctuary is: where to put the chair.
I don't like being on show, sitting facing the people, nor do I think the celebrant should look as if he has "nipped off".

I have always had the chair between the pillars at the side, the new steps have meant there is no room for a server to pass between the priest and a pillar. The first arrangement with truncated steps seem the only possible arrangement short of having the chair on the topmost step but that would have meant the priest did not "go up" to the altar of God for the Eucharist, which in the West at least has always been important.

After a bit of work yesterday and today Peter and Rado gave us steps all the way along.
Our solution was simple, though not before we thought of it, which was to raise the chair on a block level with the first step, so the step can be used as a footpace.

We'll see how it works, before it is set in stone, or hardwood laminate. Whatever we choose I want some way of making the platform look as though it belongs to the chair rather than the architecture of the sanctuary.

If you have donated via Paypal I shall remember tomorrow at a Mass for our "e-benefactors", many of you have been very generous - thank you, may God bless you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

The "Manhattan Declaration", is according to Sandro Magister, "The Manifesto That's Shaking America",

It's been endorsed by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox leaders, united in defending life, the family and the place of Christianity in society. Obviously aimed at the Whitehouse:
"We will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves."
it is presented as a new civil rights movement:
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
  • the sanctity of human life
  • the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  • the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The Manhattan Declaration
 sign it yourself here

The Sign of the Cross

Paul VI full of emotion fell postrate at the feet of Athanagorius, Patriarch of Constantinople at their first meeting. When he met Archbishop Michael Ramsay he pulled off his ring and thrust it on the finger of the old Archbishop. Dr Williams wore the same ring, however unlike his predecessor, Benedict did not kiss it. On Saturday Pope Benedict handed Dr Williams a pectoral  cross, emblazoned with an amethyst - a little sign of being amongst the successors of the Apostles - the not drunk. When he received it Dr Williams rather frightened me, Gollum like, he said something about being, "very preshhhious". Later he said it showed the Pope acknowledge his "episcopacy", which is true, it acknowledge his "oversight" of millions of Anglicans. The gilt was slightly rubbed off the gingerbread of course by the Apostolic Constitution granting episcopal ornaments to those who were Anglican bishops.
The ecumenical situation has changed drastically, this wasn't the main Papal event of Saturday, the 20 minute audience freshortened by the photocall, was overshadowed by the meeting with artists.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Longley, McMahon and Hopes for Anglicanorum Coetibus

The appointment of Bishops Longley, McMahon and Hopes to oversee the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus will be good news for many. They are perhaps the three most pastoral bishops in England and Wales, and those most sensitive to the situation of those Anglicans seeking communion.
Presumably Bishop Longley after his elevation will be the chairman. Bishop McMahon is genial  and a theologian with insight, being a Dominican, he will be sensitive to the situation of Anglican religious. Bishop Hopes, a former Anglican himself, demonstrates his concern and  genuine love for the clergy of Westminster again and again.
The bishops warmly received the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and its generosity towards those seeking full visible communion with the Holy See. They established a Commission to consider in detail the next steps in this process in England and Wales. They strongly reaffirmed their continuing commitment to ecumenical relations, working for the unity of his disciples for which Christ prayed (John 17:20-21). In particular, they looked forward to the next regular meeting with the Bishops of the Church of England ever seeking to deepen the shared mission to proclaim the Good News to the society in which we live.
Anglicanorum Coetibus Commission
Responding readily to the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the Bishops’ Conference establishes a commission of Bishops and advisers to consider the next steps which may arise in this process.
‘The Commission is therefore available for consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Anglicanorum coetibus 1§1) and to offer advice and guidance to Diocesan Bishops. Given the faculty for members of an Ordinariate “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”(Anglicanorum coetibus III), the Commission is to advise the Bishops’ Conference on transitional arrangements for the reception of groups of Anglicans, should such requests arise. The Commission is also to consider those articles of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus and the Complementary Norms that refer to the responsibilities of the Bishops’ Conference and to present suggestions for their fulfilment. The Episcopal members of the Commission are to be Archbishop-Elect Bernard Longley, Bishop Malcolm McMahon and Bishop Alan Hopes.’

The scaffold

The west window has been steadily crumbling away, its that ****** grey paint again, the bath stone absorbs moisture which should then evaporate but the fruit of the 70s, the impermeable paint contains and it ends up dissolving the stone, worst things have happening on the outside.
Because we had a legacy of £10,000, the largest we have ever had whilst I have been here one we were able to afford to have it repaired, the biggest cost is scaffolding, even the smallest job on the outside of the church cost a minimum of £1,000 for scaffolding. Say a prayer for Margaret Wilson who kindly remembered us in her will.

Eventually we need to scaffold the whole of the south side of the Church to repair the windows and replace mortar with which the church was repaired in in the 1970s, they used the wrong kind, now it is crumbling. Between us and the English Channel there is nothing so the Church and the house get the full brunt of the weather. Don't even ask me about the cost, I haven't even dared to ask. If God wants it done, he will raise the money!

Monday, November 23, 2009

An EF Baptism Training Video?

This is not quite what happened on Saturday but it underlines how important it is to encourage both parents and Godparents to go to confession before a baptism.
Thanks to Leon M.

St Francis Xavier's Catechesis

I have long been fascinated by the catechetical methods of past ages. Rorate Caeli features the famous letter of St Francis Xavier in which he talks about his catechesis of the people of Malabar.
He used children to learn the catechism, and to teach it to others. The catechism and the commandments were the basis, a clear, simple, definitive and accessible message. I think our failure to convert, catechise and retain our faithful stems from the vagueness of message.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Extraordinary Form Baptism

A first for me yesterday, a baptism in the Extraordinary Form.

It was all very odd for me, a son of The Council; no Liturgy of the Word, no bidding prayers, it was a completely different structure, I felt quite shocked by what seemed to me an abrupt ending, a quick chrismation, white garment, candle, then “Go”.

What was very apparent was the movement from one world, or state to another, from Satan to Christ, from sin to the Life of Grace, the movement of the child from its natural parents to God-parents.

For me as a priest it was a very different experience. Maybe it is that I am not that used to saying, “Exorcizo te”, so often. It was rather frightening, and yet very powerful, awesome even.

The Ordinary Form of Baptism, in comparison seems wordy, too wordy perhaps, and maybe its me, but I think it needs explanation, it seems to be a bit blunt, maybe because it is trying to say too many things. The EF seems much sharper, the role of the priest too seems more precise, he gives Life. Although there is no Liturgy of the Word, the older form seems richer in scriptural allusions.

My congratulations to Maria Theresa and her mother and father, Anna and Sergey, and her God-parents Judy and John and my thanks to Andrew, our EF MC.

Servant of the King

Catholics see the Church as the servant of Christ the King and of His Kingdom. We only have what He has given us, nothing more. His Kingdom is not of this world, therefore the Church cannot take the values of the world and dilute the precious Truth He has left with us. The Church cannot change Christ's message but only re-present it to subsequent generations. We have nothing of ourselves to offer mankind, all that we have is his.
He has promised not to leave us orphans but to send us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth.
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth. Everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to my voice."
Christ's Kingship is intimately bound up with the Truth. His followers are charged with teaching and passing on this Truth.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
Doctrine, teaching, is part of Christ's commission to the disciples. It is not any doctrine, it is the authentic doctrine of Christ.
He said,  "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
It is not an arbitary power that Peter is given but one founded directly on Peter's declaration that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" which "was revealed not by flesh and blood but by the Power of the Most High".
The nature of the Catholic faith is always about looking back, looking back to Christ, like a good servant it has its eyes constantly on him, its ears constantly straining to hear His voice. Novelty is not the nature of Catholicism - or Orthodoxy for that matter - yes, we believe in the development of doctrine, but that is like leaven in the lump, or the seed growing in the ground, it is the action of the Holy Spirit, working silently, gently, it is never a violent revolution.

+    +    +
The ordination of women by the Anglican Communion is something new, not found either in scripture nor in that which has been handed onto us. The Apostolic Churches cannot ordain women, despite all the dignity the New Covenant gives to them, simply because we are servants and Jesus, the King has given us no authority, and we dare not presume to take that authority to ourselves. Anglicans and Protestantism, generally, claims that authority, because it understands authority as consensus of opininion, rather than being of God. We dare not make that presumption, lest we prove to be unfaithful servants, doing our own will rather than continually praying that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What do Anglicans belief?

I am rather annoyed with Dr Rowan Williams after his "challenging" speech in Rome. "Petulant" is the first word that comes to mind, closely followed by "vacuous", "arrogant" is also hanging around somewhere.
I am left wondering quite what is his particular creed, and moreover what exactly does the Anglican Communion believe.  An Italian friend of mine who was at the lecture said, what was so apparent is that Williams believes nothing we Catholics recognise as belief.
The Thirty-nine articles, the Homilies have long been a dead letter, in the C of E. The Creeds might well be believed by some individuals but when one remembers Don Cuppit and, who is that Scottish bishop, who spends his retirement suggesting we created God in our image, whose name I can't remember? even belief in God and the Creeds are obviously not binding.
The only binding doctrine, now seems to be, "We believe in the ordination of women". Has this now become the substantive defining doctrine of the Anglican Communion?

My Italian friend was left wondering, after Williams, whether Anglicans were actually capable of using words that contained meaning, rather than a means of social interaction. In the light, or perhaps fog, of Williams' speech, what was ARCIC actually about, he asked.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Church is Guilty

Tracey Emin's bed - neurotic self obsession

People who look through telescopes at infinity tend to believe, people who look through microscopes at miccobial life tend to be atheists.
Its a simplification but miopia tends to lead to disbelief both in science and in the arts. The trend to look inwards, to constantly examine and display one's own life tends to destroy wonder, and consequently faith. The arts in the last century have become neurotically self obsessed. There is liitle concern with beauty, or wonder in our art galleries, or even churches. There is a new iconaclasm abroad, which Christians have experience in the destruction or ignoring of beauty. Ancient churches full of objects designed for the celebration of the liturgy, now have a litugy that literally turns its back on these objects. The most precious and priceless are more likely to be seen in a museum than be used in the context for which they were made. Music especially has been silenced and replaced by the taudrey.

We live in age in which the Church more than any other instituition is guilty of not just wholesale destruction of things of beauty but contributing on a massive scale especially in the West of debasing its Christian cultural roots.

On the eve of the Pope's meeting with artists in Rome Chiesa presents this:
It has become routine to think about Benedict XVI as the pope of the "Logos." His critics accuse him of rationalism. But in reality, he is convinced that Christianity's "proof of truth" does not come solely by rational means. For him, "art and the saints are the greatest apologia of our faith."
This, in fact, is what he said in this regard on that August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, to the priests of Bressanone:
"The arguments presented by reason are absolutely important and indispensable, but there always remains some disagreement somewhere. If, instead, we look at the saints, this great luminous arc that God has set across history, we see that here there is truly a power of goodness that lasts over the millennia, here there is truly light from light.
It will be interesting to hear how the Pope tries to inspire his audience. Personally, I see this meeting as being one the more important of this Pontificate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Williams argues like a Protestant

Archbishop of Canterbury's address at a Willebrands Symposium in Rome is on-line, in it he asks this question:
Therefore the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same weight – issues about authority in the Church, about primacy (especially the unique position of the pope), and the relations between the local churches and the universal church in making decisions (about matters like the ordination of women, for instance). Are they theological questions in the same sense as the bigger issues on which there is already clear agreement? And if they are, how exactly is it that they make a difference to our basic understanding of salvation and communion? But if they are not, why do they still stand in the way of fuller visible unity? Can there, for example, be a model of unity as a communion of churches which have different attitudes to how the papal primacy is expressed?
This might sound terribly triumphalistic but Williams argues like a Protestant! We Catholics certainly believe in a "heirarchy" of doctrines: the Trinity is probably more significant than distinctions between the particular and general judgement, for example. We accept that we are human and not God, therefore though we are capable of penetrating the Mystery of God by reason and Revelation, we can never know Him fully, presumably not even by Grace.
Catholics believe God has revealed Himself, Revelation is of His nature. For us this Revelation is not merely Propositions drawn from scripture, which seems to be how the Protestant mind works, it is rather the acceptance of something much more pneumatological, an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that leads us into all Truth. Catholics, and those of the ancient Apostolic Churches believe "faith" and the aceceptance of Revelation is a gift which comes from baptism. The ancient pre-baptismal question illustrates this: the Priest asks, "What do you desire?" The catechumen -or God-parents- answers, "Faith". It is Faith in what the Church, the Christian community, through the power of the Holy Spirit has to pass on. In a sense it is aquiesance to the Church's teaching, in fact to communion with God in the Holy Spirit hook, line and sinker.
This is going to be the great problem with our future relations with Anglicanism, we can't any longer pretend we are speaking about unity, or wholeness only acout individual propositions.

UK Tries to Stop Publication of Eugenic Abortion Stats

( The British government has gone to court to prevent the publication of statistics on abortions of children with mild disabilities like cleft palates and club foot. The Department of Health has asked the High Court to overturn a Freedom of Information Act ruling that gave the Information Tribunal permission to publish the information.

The Information Tribunal is a government body that hears appeals under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It ruled last month that the Pro-Life Alliance could review the abortion statistics.

The Department of Health refused to release the information claiming that it could lead to women who have late abortions being identified. Department lawyers argued that the information was "sensitive, personal and private."

Under Ground E of the Abortion Act, babies who are suspected of having a "serious handicap" can be aborted legally in Britain up to the point of full gestation. The Act does not provide specific criteria for physicians to decide what kind of disability is severe enough to warrant killing an unborn child.

Julia Millington of the Pro-Life Alliance told the Daily Telegraph, "It is a reprehensible waste of public money and court time to continue a fruitless battle to hide this information.

"A country, committed to transparency and openness, accepts and expects that the same principles apply to abortion as to other areas of healthcare practice. These statistics should be made public."

The Department of Health admits that at least 1900 babies were aborted last year under Ground E, but no longer gives a breakdown specifying the type of disability. This information has been withheld since 2005. When statistics were being released, it was revealed that between 2000 and 2001, nine unborn babies were aborted because of cleft lip and palate.

The killing of children with trivial deformities has come under scrutiny in Britain since it was highlighted by a female Church of England minister, Joanna Jepson, who instigated a legal challenge to the abortion of a 28-week-old child with a cleft palate in 2001.

Jepson wrote in an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph in 2003 that "more than 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, was a baby unshielded and unwanted, deemed too 'defective' to live a meaningful life. It had no voice, and yet its death cries out to us all to reconsider the value and worth we grant to those who are weakest and most easily dismissed."

Equality Bill attack on Christmas

Harriet Harman as "Equalities Minister" is incredibly powerful, in the twilight world of the Brown government there are no big policies, only aspirations for equality for women and those who identify themselves as "gay", which itself has become a significant and powerful political sub-culture.

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, wrote to MPs saying that Ms Harman's new Equality Bill will have a "chilling effect" on local councils, town halls and other organizations clamping down on Christmas festivities for fear of offending people of other religions.
Under existing legislation," Summersgill wrote, "we have seen the development of a risk-averse culture with outcomes as ridiculous as reports of a local authority instructing tenants to take down Christmas lights in case they might offend Muslim neighbours, or of authorities removing the word Christmas out of cultural sensitivity to everyone except Christians.

"If this bill is serious about equality, everything possible must be done to avoid it having a chilling effect on religious expression and practice."
Again and again Christians, Jews and Muslims are forced out of public life, it is not just doctors and nurses or teachers.
The Christian Institute said:
At the moment, if there is any conflict between atheism and Christianity,
atheism seems to win out. Similarly, there is a tendency for gay rights to trump religious rights.
The religious exceptions do not apply to commercial organisations either. There are therefore many areas of business in which existing discrimination law provides inadequate freedom of conscience:
o a Sikh architect could be required to design a mosque
o a Muslim web designer could be forced to do work for a gay rights organisation
o a Christian conference centre run on a commercial basis could be forced to host a Satanist convention
o a Jewish printing firm could be forced to print an Islamic tract denouncing other religions, including Judaism

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kaspar on the Ordinariates

Sandro Magister presents an interview with Cardinal Kaspar on the Anglican Ordinariates, revealing among other things Dr Williams telephoning him in the middle of the night. This was published in L'Osservatore a few days ago.

On Thursday Dr Williams flies to Rome for a longstanding meeting and will meet the Holy Father.

New Chant Resources

I receive the press release from Nick Gale the inspired, young Musical Director of St George's Southwark Cathedral, he asked me for what I might suggest as a useful further project, but my mind is blank at the moment, so ...any ideas?

This week sees the release of the first of three discs of Gregorian Chant produced to assist musical directors, cantors, choirs and congregations learn a Chant repertoire for use in the Liturgy. The discs were recorded by Signum Records, London, and the Chant is sung by three members of the Choir of St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, London, UK and recorded in the Cathedral’s beautiful Lady Chapel under the direction of the Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, Nick Gale.

The first disc, Chants of the Ordinary, contains a selection of Mass ordinaries (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite and Benedicamus Domino) – including complete recordings of Masses I, VIII, IX, X, XI, XV, XVII & XVIII, the Ambrosian Gloria, Credos I, III & VII and a selection of Alleluias. The second and third discs will be released next month and will contain chants for the entire Liturgical Year – all four Marian Antiphons in simple and solemn tones, the Te Deum, chant hymns, antiphons and responses for Advent, Christmas, Candlemas, Lent, Holy Week, the Easter season, Pentecost, Trinity and Christ the King – as well as some more general material and a selection of manageable Communion Antiphons from the Graduale Simplex for general use.

The Discs are priced at GBP £!0 plus £2 P&P (£3 for orders outside the UK). To place an order or to ask for a full track list or any other details email Courses in Gregorian Chant in the UK and abroad are also available through

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eugenics and Darwinism

I don't object Darwinism and its fellow traveller so much on religious grounds; it is its social implications that terrify me. Secular Humanists, who should be clearly distinguished from Christian Humanists, are by nature destructive of human life.
Read this from The Bones
'When Eric Harris arrived at Columbine High School on the morning of April 20, 1999, he was wearing a “Natural Selection” T-shirt. Before Finnish student Pekka-Eric Auvinen murdered eight people at his high school in November 2007, he wrote that “­stupid, weak-minded people are reproducing…faster than the ­intelligent, strong-minded” ones. “Death and killing is not a ­tragedy,” he went on, “it happens in nature all the time.”

Auvinen’s YouTube handle was “NaturalSelector89” and both boys, says Dennis Sewell, were “amateur social Darwinists”: they used evolutionary theory to justify their atrocities. In this polemical mini-history of the political abuses of Darwinism, Sewell shows how they were part of a miserably long tradition, taking in everything from forced sterilisation to mass murder. It is a disturbing and provocative book.
Sewell admits that Darwin himself was a man inclined to gentleness and modesty, but early enthusiasts for his theory could be a little redder in claw. In Britain, Darwin’s friend Herbert Spencer — who coined the term “survival of the fittest” — argued vociferously against state aid for the indigent. If people “are sufficiently complete to live, they do live”, he wrote; if not, “they die, and it is best they should die”. Or, as Darwin himself observed, “excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed”.
Fabians, socialists and all kinds of nefarious interventionists eagerly signed up to the cause. HG Wells complained that “we cannot make the social life and the world peace we are determined to make, with the ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens”. In America, campaigners paid homeless men to walk around wearing sandwich boards with the legend “I am a ­burden to myself and the state. Should I be allowed to propagate?”'

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Reminder

Anonymous comments are never published on this blog.
If you have something to say put your name to it.

Newman's Cause criticises The Tablet's ignorance

picture: Cardinal Levada and Fr Paul Chavasse, Actor for the Newman's cause
This is a must read:
 The Cause for the Canonisation of  John Henry Cardinal Newman

There is very good analasys of what it means to be Catholic in an Anglican context, as Newman was, and very good reasons why Ms P's petulant little liberal fanzine is just wrong and out of touch with reality.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What I don't want for Christmas

I know I am not the only priest who chucked the poster advertising this in the bin as soon as it arrived. Damian Thompson whose writings on music I always enjoy doesn't restrain himself too much in what he has to say about it.

As if the Church in Ireland were not in a bad enough state

As if the Church in Ireland were not in a bad enough state after the revelations of sexual abuse one would think its bishops might quietly try to build up the faith. Well no, Willy Walshe of Killaloe has other ideas.
Bishop Walsh called for the debate on women priests in an interview with RTÉ News following an address to the Association of European Journalists in Dublin.
He said he would love to see another Pope John XXIII opening up discussion, particularly of exclusion.
The Bishop expressed sadness about his Church excluding homosexuals and refusing the Eucharist to couples in second unions.
Bishop Walsh recalled that Christ deliberately included people shut out by the religious authorities of His time.
He also urged discussion of mandatory priestly celibacy.
Earlier, Bishop Walsh challenged a lesser Vatican rule that almost completely excludes Protestants from its Eucharist.
He said he had never suggested to Church of Ireland members that they were not welcome to receive the sacrament in his churches.
What do you do when your bishop rather than being the "faithful bearer of Tradition", seems to regard it with contempt?
I wonder if there might be a clue here to the Irish sexual abuse scandals: if this particular bishop is decidedly wobbly on areas of sexual morallity, one can only believe other bishops and clergy share his views, and in private are more extreme. If there is no clear teaching, then probably there is no clear living out of the Church's teaching, no committment to what is being taught.
It would seem in Killaloe all is relative, each is entitled to his or her truth, what previous generations held sacred, is now tossed aside by this paricular shepherd.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tablet on the Anglicanoram Coetibus

At the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith various Monsignori, I am sure are pouring over the dear old Tablet and what it says about the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. Online there are three different articles knocking it. I wonder if the Tablet's naive Pope bashing will be discussed at the ad Limina?
An editorial: Which says that Anglo-Catholics ought to go through a process of RCIA, which would be life changing for them. Now that just illustrates Ms P's journals ignorance. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, is precisely that a process of different Rites for the initiation into the Catholic Church of Adults, last time I looked practicing Anglicans had already been initiated, even allowing for defective or invalid sacraments, Anglicans have renounced the devil and accepted the Holy Trinity, they are already Christians Ms P!
Then there is piece by Nicholas Lash: Dear old Nick is complaining that the bishops, I think he means of E&W, and the Archbishop of Canterbury have not been consulted. I think what he was expecting was a Council or at least a Synod on this, something that would take five or ten years to organise, so long, that those pleading from adnission into the full communion would have died off by the time it met. I would hate to suggest old Nick is fixed in an Anglo-centric mindset but he doesn't seem to realise that of those wanting full-communion, most who will become Catholics are from the "Southern Cone", Australasia and the Americas. AC is primarily aimed at whole Churches coming into communion, an Episcopate, Presbyterate and Laity. Yes, it accepts that one or two C of E bishops and clergy, and even congregations might but it is not primarilly about the C of E.
I am not quite sure how Lash expected Dr Williams to have been consulted, I would have thought Rome would have thought him part of the problem, not the solution. Indeed what has brought this matter to a head is a lack of confidence in Williams' leadership.
Bobby Mickens also puts his oar in: he laments the lack of involvement of Anglican lay people in the government of the Ordinariates, here is a quote: This is a clericalised version of Anglicanism,” said the Revd Dr William Franklin, Academic Fellow at the Anglican Centre in Rome. He rejected the Vatican’s claim that this “opens new avenues” for ecumenism. “The offer seems to be a return to the philosophy of the 1928 encyclical Mortalium Animos [which] argued that the only road to Christian unity is for all to admit their errors and return to Rome,” he said
What the  Tablet does not seem to get is that this whole matter rests on a fracture at the centre of world wide Anglicanism, non English Anglicans had hoped that the centre of Anglicanism would somehow be neutral, above the ordination of female or openly homosexual bishops. The English Provinces' capitulation on these issues has undermined any claim that at its centre, despite other appearances, the Anglican Communion can claim to be both "Catholic and Reformed". This is an immediate crisis that needs an immediate answer.
For Anglicans "Catholic" has meant holding on, at least in broad brush terms, to "Tradition", that which has been handed on, those stable unchanging elements of Christianity. "Reformed" has meant being able to embrace and adapt to new things, in practice what the king or government or more recently what "society" might impose, it has actually changed from Protestantism to Liberalism.
What has now happened is the floating iceberg of Reform has drifted too far from the unmoving mountain of rock of Tradition. The changes in the CofE has meant it is impossible to have a foot on both stable rock and floating ice. What the Pope is doing is offering a lifeline to those who find themselves on the mountain threatened by an oncoming tsuanami. Those who once thought of themselves belonging in the Catholic Church but have found themselves tipped into the icey drink.

Friday, November 13, 2009

For Pastoral Reasons

Some people can be so cruel.
I was sent these photographs by Clare B*w*k*l*, she is responsible for the graffiti. They are from our Solemn Requiem on All Souls Day. Small children and nervous pets would have no problem with the first image but the second is terrifying. Isn't the face on that, a good arguement for Mass celebrated ad Orientem. With this paricular priest there are obviously pastoral reasons why it is a must. The Holy See really should intervene, there should be petitions of the faithful that this particular marionette should either be kept in his box or forbidden ever to turn to the faithful.
Yet is he alone? Are there not dozens of priests with two sides of which the obverse, or even backside, is far, far preferrable to the front? Think of those with a nervous disposition, beg the Holy Father today!

Holy See produces DVD on the Mass

Rortate Caeli reports the Holy See, PC Ecclesia Dei, has published a couple of DVDs demonstrating how to say low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. They can be seen on You Tube here. By now, by regular practice and watching others celebrate, I have become reasonably competant it doing that myself.

What I am not quite certain about and what other priests and bishops seem equally confused about is how to celebrate Mass according to the Ordinary Form.

No-one seems to know what should normative there, nor how to choose from the vast number of options. Someone said recently; from Brompton Oratory to the diocese of Linz we experience the variety of interpretations of the Roman Missal. Are all correct?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Wedge of Cheese and Duncton

My life is consumed at the moment by thoughts of by thoughts of "floor". Dierdre Waddington, our architect and I are trying get the arrangement of the sanctuary right. We are trying to fit a modern sanctuary into the space of a rather compact Tridentine sanctuary, it is "quarts into pint pots". Whatever we do we can't quite find the right place for the Presidential Chair. In the old days the sedillia was place in the Lady Chapel, which even then didn't quite work.
All Soul's Day Mass said the sanctuary looks as though it is a "wedge of cheese", at the moment it is floored with ply-wood, just so we can make alterations to it.
Dierdre recently visited Duncton which is the other church in our diocese designed by Gilbert Blount. it is far less exhuberant than St Mary Magdalen, and has been treated even more brutally than SMM. What Duncton lacks in fine carvings, it makes up in flooring. Where Blount gave us floorboards, which even in the earliest photographs were covered by a fitted carpet, then by lino stuck down by bitchumen, then latterly by asbestos vinyl tiles but Duncton has the most amazing encaustic tiles, which I want though I suspect we won't be able to afford them, modern ones tend to be much less subtle in their colouring, salvaged one's are like gold dust. What might possible is a combination of ceramic and stone tiles to created a similar though simpler effect. The Indian/Chinese ceramic and stone cutting industry means that at the moment such a floor will be about as expensive as hard wood, the difference is that it will last for centuries, and what Blount has left us with is stable base of piers, perlins, joists and beams.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stehen Fry: The Catholic Church is NOT a force for good in the world

Aired 11-7-09 on BBC World

Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?
"It stands up for the oppressed and offers spiritual succour to billions say the Church's supporters. But what about the Church's teachings on condoms, gays and women priests, ask the detractors."
Speaking for the motion, Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdencombe MP. Speaking against the motion, Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry.

What concerns me is that Mr Fry believing what he does about our Church is fronting The Passage Appeal, see the poster here. Will those attending, including Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the Patron, be subject to a Fry rant, about the evils of the Pope both this one and "the Pole", will he hurl condoms at the Casholics in the audience. I have asked the Passage for an explanation, apart from having had a meeting to discuss whether this event should continue, I have heard nothing further.
Thanks to Michael for the link to this video

Invalid Baptisms

Fr Edward McNamara has been asked about the validity of a baptism conferred by a deacon, who for the sake of "everyone being involved", normally got someone else to pour the water, rightly Father says it is likely to be invalid.
It makes no sense whatsoever to say, "I baptize you" if in fact someone else is doing the baptism. ("Baptism" means to bathe or dip.)

It is not a practice I have heard of in the UK but it is as Father says:
Sadly, this is not the first time that the above erroneous practice has occurred. In another country the Holy See ordered that several years of baptisms be repeated, or, rather, carried out for the first time.
It is what happens when we invent liturgy. Salvation is doubtful.
Just to throw a small cat amongst a flock of pigeons, isn't what is described what happens at a British "royal" baptisms in the C of E. By perrogative one bishop holds the child, another pours the water, a third pronounces the formula.
Is it a practice that exists elsewhere in the Anglican Communion where there are several clergy in attendance?

In dialogue

A small group of my parishioners went off to encounter the local Secular Society, to join in a debate over Darwinism. What struck my people was how fundamentalist were Brighton's secularists, they characterised all believers as fundamentalist Creationists but most had no way of reasoning beyond the "big bang", they couldn't deal with a first cause, or an efficient cause. Even on Darwin himself most were a bit shakey, few had read his Descent of Man, some were a little uncomfortable with Marx's criticism of him. I am told that on the whole our peoples contribution to the debate was actually welcomed, so much so they were invited to the next meeting.

I was told that during Fresher's Week at Sussex University 220 first years signed up to the University Secular Society, I haven't heard how many signed up for the various religious societies. I am struck by how young people want to discuss religion, wherever I go religion seems to be a subject for discussion. What most religious people are badly prepared to discuss are those things the non-religious want to discuss, those fundamental questions that science just can't answer or where science merges into religion.

There are pretty basic things we need to define, such as what we mean by the term "God", the origin of matter and the laws of nature. What goodness is, what is a good life, the nature of morality, for us Catholics unless we are willing to dialogue with people at these crucial points, we might as well be talking about angels dancing on pinheads. It is these fundamental questions that bothered classical and  medieval mind that still perplexes people in the workplace, in the pub or on the train.

Eccleston Square and the Guardian

I tend not to read the vast comments on Damian's blog, and I would hope I would be kinder than he about our bishops but I was a little surprised by this job advert. Not that the Bishops are advertising for a fundraiser, nor the salary that is being offered, often we pay peanuts, and get get monkeys.

What surprises me is that I haven't seen the advert in other newspapers. The Guardian is the newspaper where some of the most vociferous anti-Catholic journalist rant against everything the Church stands for, so a simple question: what type of person does whoever placed this advert in the Guardian hope to attract?
Does anyone know if Ecclesdon Square places all its adverts in the Guardian? If so does this mean that predominantly Guardian readers are employed by the Bishop's Conference. If this is so, is there problem, are habitual Guardian readers likely to be ardent supports of mainstream Catholicism?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Widow's Mites

A priest friend of mine pointed out that the poor widow gave away her last two mites to the Temple treasury, not to the poor; to support the worship of God not to alleviate someone else's need.
So if you are looking for a similar charitable cause, give generously to our restoration fund.

Let us pray


Let us pray, commending those considering union with the Catholic Church to the powerful intercession of the Most Blessed Mother of God, Mary Most Holy.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

All Souls Day Mass

This little video is of our last All Souls Day Mass, it was filmed and edited by Clare, who directs our music. The accompanying music is sung by our parish choir, with just a little help from friends. The mezzo-soprano is Sigridur Kristjansdottir a young Icelandic opera singer who practices occassionally in the church.

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...