Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why I will not sign this petition

Mrs Amanda Lewin has organized an online petition to the bishops in the following terms:

To: Bishops of England and Wales
We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature - and provision - of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.
I make no judgement about other priests doing so but I cannot sign it, you may by going here, at least the bishops may become aware of the feelings of ordinary Catholics.

As a priest I cannot sign, because it implies criticism of the Bishops who reign by the God's Grace, who stand in the place of Christ as Apostles. It is by them the sheep and lambs are fed, it is through them that the Catholic faith is passed on. I cannot believe they will give stones instead of bread, scorpions instead of an eggs, a serpents instead of a fish.

Certainly I am distressed and perplexed by their silence but I am willing to believe that it is for some good purpose. I sure that they are working behind the scenes, possibly for a defeat in the Lords.

I am willing to believe the CES has failed, not just the Church but society, catastrophically. It is not just Catholic children but all children who are going to suffer through the arrogation to the state of the rights of parents, given by them natural law, but I believe the CES's error will be corrected in time by the Bishops.

But as for the Bishops failing in the guardianship of the Catholic faith or suggesting that they would be compliant in anything contrary to the faith, that is a criticism I could never make and could never be true.
Yes, they can be misled, or misunderstand or make mistakes or act foolishly or even be coerced into acting badly, which is why they need our continual prayers and fasting, and our encouragement to be brave too.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

+ Rawsthorne +Roche +Drainey Stand up for Common Sense

Some bishops are standing up to the Government
A Joint Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of Hallam, Leeds & Middlesbrough, God bless them!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
You will realize that during the course of the last few years Catholic Care has been making strenuous efforts to secure its rights as an adoption agency in order to continue to supply a beneficial service to the three Dioceses of Hallam, Leeds and Middlesbrough. Since 1963, this agency has assisted placing of some of the most vulnerable children to the care of loving families in our region.

However, in 2006 the passing of the Equality Act affected this good work. This new law asks us to operate our adoption agency with disregard to the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life. It has been designed to widen the pool of people who are able to legally adopt which includes same-sex couples. Despite the fact that Catholic Care has been able to find caring families for a vast number of needy children we are being invited either to stop our adoption work or stop being a Catholic charity altogether. This has had the effect that most Catholic adoption agencies, depending on their circumstances, have either closed or transferred their adoption activity to other charities. Neither of these options is acceptable to us or to the Trustees of Catholic Care. Indeed, our position has been widely supported not only within the Catholic Church but also from very many others outside.

Since 2007 Catholic Care has been involved in a legal battle to stay open as a Catholic adoption agency and to operate according to our beliefs in marriage and family life. Precisely because we wish to do everything possible to remain open the next stage in this legal process will take place in the High Court this week. Our position is that it is in the interests of children to continue our work. We are not judging other agencies that accept same sex couples for adoption, but feel strongly that we should not be forced to do so, nor is there a necessity for this to happen. We believe that this is a legally justifiable position to take and that it is a reasonable response to a legitimate end.

Our adoption service has been at the heart of the local community for over 100 years. It has been praised and widely appreciated by local authorities and social services, as well as the children who have benefited from this work and the couples who have sought to adopt them. Children have a right to a family life. There are too many children awaiting adoption and Catholic Care has a vital and a special role in helping very vulnerable children by finding loving families for them. If Catholic Care is forced to close its adoption service it is children who will lose an effective and well respected resource in the Yorkshire region.

As we write to you today, we wish to thank you for your generous support of Catholic Care and for your shared concern with us over this state of affairs. Above all, we seek your prayers especially as the High Court case begins on Wednesday. May Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, patroness of our three dioceses, intercede for us to the Lord that the good work Catholic Care has undertaken for so long may continue.


+ Rawsthorne +Roche +Drainey

Congregation for the Clergy film on the Priesthood

Thank you Sr Anna for sending me this link to this film "Alter Christus" on the Priesthood by the Congregation for the Clergy, which is on your website: Home of the Mother. It is beautiful!

This is a rather interesting film, especially as it is from a Roman Congregation: in a sense it is the "official" year for priests video. I need to spend time on the text but there are some rather beautiful things especially on the 2nd part, unfortunately it is not complete, on celibacy for example, even on clerical dress or "garb" as it quaintly puts it.
The presentation of the liturgical celebrations are interesting too, for the most part very "Benedictine", several ad orientem celebrations, at least two images from the extraordinary form.

Election Candidates and the Poor

Laurence one of our parishioners has invited Brighton's Green MEP Caroline Lucas round for a chat. She is going to stand in the General Election for this constituency, Brighton Pavilion, which could swing on the Catholic vote. He had wanted her to meet a couple of homeless people, a disabled woman and a man who cares for her, recently they have been given a small room to share, which as their relationship is one of care not of sexual intimacy causes them serious problems. Ms Lucas apparently doesn't want to meet them.

On two ocassions I have invited Nancy Platts the Labour candidate to visit Brighton Voices in Exile, the organisation which works out of my house for asylum seekers, torture victims, exiles, the last time she was standing within 20 yards of their of their office, she couldn't be bothered despite her promises.

Obviously there no votes in the homeless or in asylum seekers and torture victims any more than there are in the innocent victims of abortion. Our bishops are going to issue a pre-election document next week, I am sure it is going to tell us that the election is not about a single issue, but actually it should be. The single issue is actually about "Life". Now, it seems that with the CESs collusion, every school in the country is to become a portal for abortion access, there is little difference between any of the political parties, all are fundamentally  anti-Life. That being so we need to look at the next level up and ask the question: how do those aspire to power treat the poor, the marginalised, the victims. Somewhere the great Athanasius said, "You can tell a heretic [actually, an Arian] by the way in which he treats the poor". So far both Platts and Lucas seem to treat them with contempt.
You won't find many poor people begging outside of the offices of the National Secular Society, unlike Westminster Cathedral, simply because secularists don't care - actually you don't find the poor outside Westminster Abbey, what does that say? In Brighton most of the care for those at the very bottom of society is supplied by the Churches, for the main part, I think, Catholics. Never has any local politician shown any interest in the work we do.
It is really quite outrageous how ignorant most politicians are about our faith despite, its contribution to western artistic culture and thinking,
It is very tempting in Brighton for political candidates to pander to the more vociferous elements of the hedonistic "Gay Lobby" and ignore the "Faith" communities and their concerns, if that happens in the next election that would be more than foolish. Those who can get themselves out to Church on a Sunday can normally get themselves along to vote. Those who reflect on the works of God also soberly reflect on the works of Gordon Brown, David Cameron et al.

I would like to get a small group of Catholics familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to sit down with the mainstream candidates to decide for whom a Catholic can vote.
Here is my simplistic analysis:

Labour: look at the record, they are pro-abortion, anti-family, coercive towards the Church, restrictive of religious freedoms, robbed us of our adoption agencies, are robbing us of our schools; under their watch the gap between rich and poor has grown, our children have become increasingly sexualised, the freedom of parents has been curtailed. Goodish on overseas aid but they start wars! Only seem to have one policy: Sexual Equalities, which for many of us will lead to sexualisation, inequality and oppression.
Consevatives: no radical change from Labour, they seem to be distancing themselves from their pro-family policies and "traditional" morality, at least they are, in theory, for smaller government, therefore they might respect personal rights. Not nice to the poor, tend to favour the middle-classes.
Liberal Democrat: extreme anti-Lifers and secularists, introduced abortion, radical but without real policies.
Green Party: I am not sure they have many policies, except to save the planet and regard mankind as a virus that is attacking it; their policies seem to take away human freedom.
My parents were rabid Tories, like most Catholic priests I always used to vote Labour, I think that is impossible now, so contrary have they become not only to Catholic teaching but to the very spirit of the Christian faith.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Being an Englishman

Innocent Smith is coming to see me today.
Have a look at this provocative little piece of his, and reflect on what has been happening in our country over the last few decades.
In it I think is a definition of true "Liberalism" within in the Catholic Church. I would like to describe myself as an "liberal English Catholic". True liberalism isn't opposed to orthodoxy, orthodoxy is the framework for liberalism to thrive.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I had a conversation with a bright young Irishman today. He is an occassional reader of this blog. Reflecting somthing I wrote a few days ago he said that he thought the Irish bishops and clergy had lost the respect of Irish people because of a lack tramsparency.
Our business as clergy is about confidentiality and secrecy, it is integral to confessional and death bed.  It is not that Father knows best, so often it is really that Father knows more but cannot say.
But, to paraphrase my young friend, "Lace curtains and frosted glass may have been fine a decade ago but today transparency and trust  run hand in hand. The office is open plan, the old smoke filled rooms have dissappeared. Information is freely available. Respect is earnt not an automactically given. Private deals with state officials  are recognised as only adding fuel to a sense of suspicion. Today people want to to see the workings not just the final product. Honesty and openess are seen as been utmost. Being accountable, especially to those who pay the bills is crucial."
He said that that is recognised everywhere, except in the Catholic Church.

Obviously, he just meant Ireland!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Defeat of Conscience

St John Fisher pray for us and our Bishops, may we be faithful to conscience.

Last night's vote to pass the Children, Schools and Families Bill, was a tragedy for Britain, not just for our children and our schools but there is something more fundamental that was attacked and defeated, it was rights of conscience itself.
No longer can an Englishman say: I can go so far but no further. Now the totalitarianism of the state trumps everything; innocence, family, parents rights, children's rights, religion, conscience, freedom.

The CES has had its say, will our Shepherds speak or remain silent? This issue is much deeper, than simply whether Catholic schools may teach in accord with Church teaching or indeed whether we can run our own schools, it hits at heart of human freedom, at the exercise.

At a time when we have both a government, whose lies led to war and opposition bereft of ideas both of whose policies are more dependant on ideology than rationality, let us pray that one of our bishops will be willing to stand up in the public forum and defend conscience and rationality, isn't that what Manning and Newman did when baying hounds howled at the Church's door.

 Let us drink to our country, but to conscience first.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let's just say, "No"

The Children, Schools and Families Bill will most probably be passed today. "Faith" schools will have to re-enforce the heavily sexualized message of the government that is already pushed in the faces of our children at every level.

My real concern is about the teaching of sex education in Primary Schools, and the inevitable sexualisation of pre-pubescent children. As for older children, 15 year olds having to have compulsory sex education, my concern is that the rights of parents are being stolen by the state. Our children live in a heavily sexualised society, what would have been considered pornographic fifteen years ago is an everyday encounter today. The pornography that which would not have even been on the top shelf of the seediest newsagents is readily available in most teenagers’ bedrooms via the net. Even Radio 4's "The Archers" has a nice gay couple, has done a story on the choice -that is choosing an abortion- of a promiscuous young woman- and when I couldn’t avoid it last - was moving into a story about another single woman who was deliberately choosing artificial insemination by donor.

Every child regularly encounters our highly sexualised society, my objection is not to sex education per se, I regard it as a necessity in 21st century Britain. My first concern is that our factory education system, with its factory schools, which are barely able to produce numerate and literate adults who are able to hold down a job, is unable to deal with sex education sensitively and effectively. My second concern is that the state is robbing parents of a right and duty which springs from the natural law: their right and duty to educate their children about key areas of what it means to be human. This bill is another example of the one size fits all policy of yet another increasingly totalitarian western government: it is about training not education.

There has been serious criticism of the Catholic Education Service, at least on the blogosphere and amongst "thinking" Catholics. Really the criticism should be aimed at Bishop McMahon, and his predecessor Archbishop Nichols, who is responsible for the CES. To be charitable, I am sure they got the best deal for the Church they could but the problem is this is yet another assault not just on religious autonomy but on the rights of parents and children.

Too much that our bishops do lacks transparency, that is at the heart of the Irish Church crisis; the appearance is that they are at odds with the "official" teaching of the Church. I suspect they consider they are involved in real politique, quiet Westminster lobbying rather than public statements and denunciations is their preferred style.

The problem is to, the man on the Clapham omnibus, whether he is going to Mass or a meeting of the Secular Society, they give the appearance that although the Church is uncomfortable with government policy, compromise is possible, and the Church will always seems to compromise. The result is confusion, even amongst Eccleston Square apparatjiks! Compromise leads to compromise and compromise and compromise until what the Catholic Church offers is no different from what the state offers. The consequence is Christianity leaves morality to secularism and the state, and the Church retreats in shame to an obscure closet to die quietly.

Increasingly our schools have become larger and larger, parents dismayed with what the state offers want a “Catholic education”. The problem is the absence of practicing Catholic staff and governors. It is not just head teachers and governors we can't recruit but subject teachers, even crucially in the field of ethics: Catholic school nurses. I am sure this is why Bishop McMahon said we should not look too closely at the personal morality of Catholic teachers.

One in three schools is a "faith school", of which the majority are Catholic. We have muscle, we are not powerless. I just wonder what would happen if the Catholic Church just said, "No" to Mr. Balls and to any compromise. What if we offered to sell our vast number of schools to the state and used the substantial amount of money this would make for proper catechesis, a truly Catholic education without schools? We are loosing them anyhow, what if our bishop said with complete transparency, "so far and no further, our conscience will not allow us to proceed along the lines you want"? What if we worked with the other "faith" communities, with Evangelical Christian's, Orthodox Jews and Moslems, who actually believe in objective morality? What if we stood against the world, against a heavy handed government and followed what we know is right rather than constantly give the impression of compromise. What if we actually stood up for human rights the rights of parents and children, and the natural law?

What if we stood with Christ rather than Mr. Balls?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Children, Schools and Families Bill

Children, Schools and Families Bill will be debated on Tuesday, It seeks to remove the rights of parents to educate and control the education of their children on matters of sex education and place those rights in the hands of the state. It is important we YOU contact you MP to express concern!
As there seems to be some confusion over the attitude of the heirarchy to this issue it might useful to contact Bishop McMahon, or at least his secretary, to ask, respectfully, why the Catholic Education Service spokesperson Oona Stannard gives the impression they support this legislation.

What does the bill propose?

• the Bill would make sex and relationships education (within Personal, Social, Health and Economic education [PSHE]) a statutory part of the national curriculum. This would mean that parents and governing bodies of local schools would lose discretion over how the subject is taught in schools and, for the first time, primary schools would be legally obliged to provide sex and relationships education from the age of five.

• the Bill would remove from parents the right to withdraw their children from sex and relationship lessons once their children reach the age of 15. Parents are currently able to withdraw their children from sex education classes throughout the years of their compulsory education.

• Implementation of the Bill’s requirements and supplementary legislation on PSHE (including sex and relationships education) would be the responsibility of the head teacher and governing body

• Further guidance on PSHE to which head teachers and the governing body must have regard may be added by the Secretary of State and those nominated by him. [seems to be a virtual carte blanche]
What might the supplementary guidance comprise?

On Monday 25 January 2010 the Department for Children, Schools and Families issued its draft Sex and Relationships Education Guidance

The draft Sex and Relationships Education Guidance (SRE) states:

• SRE should promote awareness, respect [emphasis mine] and understanding for the wide range of practices and beliefs relating to sex and relationships within our society.

• at key stage 2 (ages 8 to 11)  Pupils should be taught to ask themselves:

"What is ... homophobic bullying and what skills do I need to do something about it?"

Pupils should also be able to answer the question:

"How does the sperm and egg meet during sexual intercourse and can conception be prevented?"

• at key stage 3 (ages 11 to 14) pupils should be taught via "the clarification of personal values". [relativism] Pupils will be taught to answer:

"What are sexually transmitted infections, how are they transmitted, treated, tested and prevented (including condoms)?"

"What choices does a woman have if she gets pregnant, including keeping the baby, abortion and adoption?"

"What are the different types of contraception including emergency contraception and how are these used?"

"What can I expect from contraception and sexual health services and where and when are these services available?"

• at key stage 4 (ages 15 and 16),  pupils will be taught how to answer:

"What are the features of different methods of contraception and what protection do they offer in terms of STIs and pregnancy?"

"Is responsibility for contraception and protection shared in relationships and how can responsibility be negotiated?"

"How can I contribute to challenging ...homophobia ...?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stand up iv VII

Mac is having a go at the Stand up 4 Vat 2 crowd, they want every bishop in the country to "celebrate", the Second Oecumenical Council of the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October, 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 21 November, 1965, for those of you too young to have been alive during it. As you can see from Mac's post this sad little group seems to have a strange notion of what the Council actually taught.
I am a great believer in getting back to the texts, so getting bishops to face up to what the documents actually said would be a good thing, reading VII in the light of VI, of Trent etc would be nothing but a boon. I presume these people want something to happen two months after the Papal visit; after a good dose Benedict's teaching on the hermeneutic of continuity, on dissent, on Newman and the evils of liberalism. Such a 45th anniversary celebration would be an interesting test for any bishop on how well he had picked up Papal teaching. By that time there should some hint from the talks between Rome and the SSPX on the "correct" interpretation of some of the trickier bits of VII.
I am taken by this idea, I will celebrate a 45th Anniversary Mass, in the Rite of the Council, Missal of Blessed John XXIII, I'll have to think about who will preach. Who wants to be deacon and subdeacon?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mary's Dowry Catholic Productions

Mary's Dowry Catholic Productions, based in my diocese, are currently making a film about Nicholas Owen, have a look at their site.

Remember you are dust!!!

Most days I don't get hungry, I have to remember to eat: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are exceptions. Those of you who were generous in your Lenten intentions might already be trying to think about how to mitigate the rigour you have chosen or be apprehensive about the next six weeks.

Well good!
Lent is not an orgy of Pelagian self improvement, that turns it into something vain and worldly. Lent is about probing are weakness and offering that to God
"Remember you are dust and to dust we shall return", are words that should dominate our Lent. God takes dust, breathes his life into us and we become human beings, without him we return to dust. Our existence depends on Him, by ourselves we are nothing, blown away like dust in the breeze.
Lent is the time when we are supposed to realise without God we are nothing, and God is everything. That for us Catholics it is the sacraments; Baptism, the Eucharist, Penance, those direct contacts with God himself that give us Life.
Realising we are weak and God is strong, that we cannot depend on ourselves but only on Him, if we are confronted with that, then Lent will have some value for us. If we learn to weep over our sins and to run to him in the sacraments not just for his forgiveness but for his strength then Lent will not be wasted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Little Lotti

We had this this evening, which was a nice surprise. Thanks choir.

Signs of Penance

Yesterday the Palms from last year were burnt, today I marked the foreheads of my parishioners with ash from side to side, top to bottom. The pious will wear the cross all day rejoicing in the humiliation of of it.
Yes, the gospel tells us to pray in private, to fast with a smile, to give alms in secret: to avoid the yeast of the Pharisees.
There is very human need to do penance, and a need to see others do penance. Justice seems to demand public sins need public atonement, faults need to be admitted, restitution needs to be made: justice need to be done and seen to be done.
Reading the Irish papers there seems to be a great deal of dissappointment, even anger over the Pope's meeting with their bishops. The people wanted blood, heads, resignations, condemnations, humilliations and got nothing. Words like "charade", "hypocrisy", "loss of credibility" feature in reports.
Let me be brave, it being Ash Wednesday, it would appear that the sexual abuse by Irish clergy was and is actually much lower than in the rest of Irish society. The name of the Irish abuse organisation, "One in Four", says it all, a quarter of Irish people according to them are the victims of abuse, the Catholic Church and clergy in Ireland despite its great faults are not responsible for that, sexual and physical abuse are part of Irish culture, if "One in Four" is correct in its claims. I suspect rather than drawing open the lace curtains on Irish society it is easier to cast the Church out into the wilderness. Holy Church becomes an icon of rejected Irish belief, this is why the Pope can speak of the problem being about a loss of faith. The Irish bishops have indeed become the scapegoat bearing the sins of the nation, indeed that is not an idea that is estranged from the priesthood. The priest not only stands in the place of Christ but also of the people.
Fr Sean has an interesting post, he suggests the Irish love heroes, he is right but Irish heroes are those like Parnell, raised to the heights and then thrown to the mob, I think it is a Celtic thing, maybe it is why the Cross rather than the Resurrection has been so much part of Irish spirituality. Whatever it is, Fr Sean is quite right, sorrow, appology, repentance is not enough, there is a need for public penance, the Irish public want their heirarchs "to cry out between the vestibule and the altar", not only for their own sins but for the sins of the nation. Whether it is fasting and sleepless nights in Lough Derg, or penitential processions of scourged barefoot bishops in O'Connell Street, the Irish want and need something more than they have been given so far.
Embarrassment, shame and confusion are very human emotions and were it just politicians who are objects of such public contempt and ire these might be enough but it is bishops, the Church, more is needed, the recognition not only that a "crime" has taken place but also "sins" have been committed which cry out before the throne of God.
What signs are the bishops giving that they are making atonement before God, that there is even an understanding that God is offended?
Are they faithless? From the signs so far: yes!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven

Lenten week-end of recollection: 5-7 March 2010
on ‘The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven’.

*Address: All Saints Conference Centre, Shenley Lane, London Colney, Herts, AL2 1AF.

*Starts on Friday 5th March 2010 at 5pm (later arrival possible) – ends on Sunday 7th March 2010 at 4pm.
*Holy Mass in the EF on Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.
*Confession / spiritual direction on request.

* Retreat Master: Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP
*Price: £126 everything included (for: £116 as Centre’s fees + £10 as FSSP fees).
*Please bring your traditional hand missal + your own towel and soap.

*Booking: please send to us a £15 deposit cheque made payable to FSSP ENGLAND. Please kindly book now.

LMS Training Conference: Ushaw

Slowly, slowly I hear of more and more priests learning the "other part" of the Roman Rite, the Extraordinary Form. It strikes me as being quite odd that almost three years on from the Motu Proprio some clergy are actually unfamiliar with this particular liturgical option, not only that but some churches still don't have unequipped for its celebration. Some Prelates, in three years, haven't even attended Mass in this form.
Alright, a bit tongue in cheek but not entirely.

The Latin Mass Society has announced that, although a good number of bookings have been received for the Priests’ Training Conference to be held at Ushaw College in Co Durham during Low Week, about 12 places are still available; and it is expected that these will be taken in the next few weeks.

The conference will provide tuition for priests wishing to learn to celebrate Mass in the usus antiquior, or traditional form, with classes for beginners and more advanced students, as well as those wishing to learn to sing at a Missa Cantata or to celebrate a Solumn Mass. The conference will also include a range of liturgies which will be examples of best practice in the traditional rites. There will also be a spiritual lecture.

Ushaw College is an ideal location for this conference because of the range of facilities it offers, including numerous chapels and side altars for practice Masses. A schola and polyphonic choir will be in attendance to provide the music at all services which will take place in the magnificent St Cuthbert’s Chapel.

As an innovation this year, a simultaneous course will be run for servers wishing to learn how to be an MC at a Missa Cantata or Solumn Mass. Applications are invited from men or boys who already have a basic knowledge of how to serve at Low Mass.

The conference fee is £115 inclusive of full board and lodging. Further information and application forms can be obtained from:
The Latin Mass Society
11 -13 Macklin Street
London WC2B 5NH
020 7404 7284

Fewer Dioceses?

The Irish summit in Rome has ended today.
There is a press release here.
I think it is interesting that the Pope points to a more general crisis.
...of faith affecting the Church and he linked that to the lack of respect for the human person and how the weakening of faith has been a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors. He stressed the need for a deeper theological reflection on the whole issue, and called for an improved human, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation both of candidates for the priesthood and religious life and of those already ordained and professed.

I think what is happening in Ireland is significant for the whole Church, it is not just about Ireland, it is not just about child abuse. It is the gross failure of episcopal leadership. Ireland with the sharp decline in both  practice and vocations is litmus of problem's elsewhere.

One serious suggestion is that the Irish hierarchy is simply too big.
Ireland, with four million Catholics, has 26 dioceses – just one less than Germany, which has a church that is 35 million-strong. More bishops means that the average calibre of each tends to be lower, and co-ordination between them is proportionately more difficult. It has been suggested that the number of dioceses should be cut back to eight – a proposal the Irish bishops have been resisting with a unanimity that was noticeably lacking in their response to the scandal that brought them to Rome.

What goes for Ireland's 26 dioceses also goes for England's 22: we need to watch this space.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Irish Problem

Today the Holy Father accompanied by the heads of at least eight dicasteries meets with the Irish heirarchs to discuss the fall out from the Irish abuse reveleations in a 12 hour meeting.
This meeting is, I hope, of significance for the whole Church. The Irish heirarchy spectacularly show up the faults of the way in which the Church is governed, or misgoverned. As horrific as the abuse cases were the damage done was not only of their own making but also of the Church's law. It was the result of the worst aspects of the lack of accountability, lack of fraternal correction, of hiding behind the collective responsibility of the episcopal conference, of deafness to the pastoral needs of their people. It demonstrates what can happen when Bishops are encouraged to see themselves primarily as Church managers rather than Pastors.

The great problem seems to be the feudal structure, that makes a Bishop Lord of all who surveys linked to an unaccountable oligarchy of the Episcopal Conference. In the past when the Episcopal Conference structure was weaker, the Bishop was directly accountable to the anvil of the senior clergy of his diocese on the one hand and the hammer of the Roman Curia on the other.

I am not sure feudalism is the primary problem, unless the Bishop surrounds himself by cronies and disregards the law. In the Church it works if there is a careful balance of rights and obligations, properly excercised within the bounds of Canon Law. The Church isn't a democracy. The problem is the Episcopal Conference, I wrote a few weeks ago about how our own Episcopal Conference avoids accountability from Rome, Ireland seems much the same, Bishop Willy Walshe infamously claimed he threw anything from Rome in the wastepaper basket.

Apart from a better quality of Bishop, somehow I think Summorum Pontificum actually might hint at an answer to some of Ireland's problems, I don't mean the Traditional Latin Mass itself but the legislation surrounding it. Summorum Pontificum is significance is often overlooked, it is unique, giving lay people the right to ask for something, parish priests and bishops the duty to answer their requestss, and Rome the duty of ensuring these rights are respected.

Pray for Ireland and its problems!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Griffin Harman Interview

The barrister Neil Addison imagines the scenario of the odious Nick Griffin applying for a job with the Labour Party and being interviewed by Harriett Harman:
“Well Nick you certainly have all the qualifications and experience that we require to work as a Media advisor to the Labour Party. However because of the nature of the job and the fact that you will be working closely with Labour MP's I would like to ask you some questions. Are you a member of the Labour Party ?”

“Frankly Harriet I don't see how that question is relevant to my ability and qualifications to do the job.”

“Well you see Nick because of the type of organisation we are we need to know that all our staff comply with our values and principles so I must ask you once again are you a member of the Labour Party ?”

“Since you ask I am a member of the BNP but that won't affect my ability to do this job. My membership of the BNP is a purely personal matter”

“I'm sorry Nick but if you are a practicing member of the BNP then you simply cannot be employed by the Labour Party"

"That Harriet is nothing more than prejudice and Discrimination. I will sue you in an employment Tribunal"
Can Griffin win?
Well no, because the Labour Party, unlike religious groups would have been exempt under the Harman legislation. See Neil's blog for an explanation. Harman's legislation wouldn't have allowed us to refuse him employment!
I have added Neil's Religion Law blog to the side bar.

Fury and Rage at Pope!

I was sent this by Robert Kovaks, I've jusy noticed it on Fr Tim's blog, Robert found it on Fr Dwight's blog, surprised I didn't see there, the subtitles are hilarious - do watch it!

Kudos to Mark Shea, who I hope will produce more material like this, humour should be a crucial part in the comimg battle against secularism.


I have been pondering the words of the Holy Father to the Bishops of England and Wales, in part because they sum up a vision for our Church, as well as criticism of it. In a way it is a examination of conscience.

What I am having difficulty with is what he has to say aboout "functionalism".

"Help them [the laity] to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted."

Are we clergy in E&W, especially, seen as "functionaries", compared to clergy elsewhere? I think that one of the frustrations often voiced by priests is that they tend feel diocesan offices lay on them a great deal of "bean counting", in truth a lot of it is the result of government "elfin safety" legislation.

I am not sure that we are especially concerned with "doing" rather than "being".

Earlier he had said:

I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example.

Again, I am not sure that we priests are especially lacking in these areas. Perhaps priests and bishops could be accused of not have a great "passion for preaching the Gospel", especially as the Pope's remarks are set in the context of proclaiming the Gospel in a secular age and society.
Is the Pope possibly suggesting we concentrate too much on maintanence or management rather mission? The shortage of priests perhaps results in a mentality that wants to "manage decline", rather than get on with Christ's commission to preach to the nations. In his address to the Scottish Bishops he speaks of the distinction that should be made between lay apostolate and ministry.

Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest’s role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity. Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking concept of their ecclesial role. Yet the Second Vatican Council’s vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation – in the family, at home, at work – they are actively participating in the Church’s mission to sanctify the world.

A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give strong impetus to the task of evangelizing society.

Is the Pope perhaps suggesting there is a tendency in E&W that we are confusing the roles of priests and laity and neglecting the Apostolate that springs from our baptismal vocation, "in the family, at home and at work"? According to Lumen Gentium the role of the clergy, principly the Bishop, is to teach, sanctify and govern, recent statements from Catholic Education Service might suggest a certain lightness of touch in the teaching and governing realm, allowing Ms Stannard to usurp the role of the individual Bishops and committing them and their diocesan Churches to policies some Bishops would find inimical to the faith.

In the parish it is possibly easier to gauge commitment not by the depth of holiness in family life but by the number of names on the ministry rotas.

It seems the Pope is saying to the Scottish bishops that they have clericised the laity, is he saying to English bishop that they have in some way laicized the clergy?

Abp Nichols on the NHS

The text of Abp Nichol's sermon on the NHS can be found here

Friday, February 12, 2010

Catholic Voices

The Catholic Union - I am not quite sure what is - is setting up a group of 20-25 Catholics, called Catholic Voices, "drawn from a broad spectrum of the Church who will prepare for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit later this year, and make themselves available to the media before and during that time". David Barrett in the Catholic Herald gives a little more information.

I think it is a brilliant idea!

I would hope though that it would become the core of a larger group, not only of Catholic writers and thinkers, but also doctors, scientists, artists, musicians, media personalities, even sportsman and ad. execs. Looking at the Catholic Unions website it would be good to involve Catholics involved in what the Pope calls "electronic technology" too.
I think in someways it is regrettable that this initiative is merely "approved" by the Bishops rather than actually being under their auspices, I think every diocese should have such an organisation, providing those responsible are able to "recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate".
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have The Tablet onside -the Catholic side- for this project

Lenten Reading Plan

Looking for something to do for Lent? - check out this site.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mysogynistic, Homophobic, Fascist, Racist and Xenophobic

I find it quite frightening on how badly prepared the Church in England and Wales is to combat secularism and opposition to the Church's teaching. We give the impression that we don't really care.

This weekend there will be a demonstration against the Papal visit outside Westminster Cathedral followed by a rally outside the Italian embassy, presumably in the hope of attracting the attention of the Italian media, amongst the speakers will be Peter Tatchell, it advertises itself as:
We support:
· Women's equality and reproductive rights
· Equal rights for LGBT people
· A secular Europe - immune to the Vatican's agenda
· One law for all, no religious exemptions from the law
· State neutrality in matters of religion and belief
We oppose:
· European Union collusion with religion (Lisbon Treaty Article 16c)
· The special status of the Vatican in the United Nations
· State-funded faith schools
· The economic privilege and political influence of the Vatican in Italy
· Taxpayers funding the Pope's State Visit to the UK this September
· Misogyny, homophobia, fascism, racism and xenophobia
The problem is, I suspect most people in our congregation might actually agree or be unable to argue coherently against these assertions. Those Catholics not attending Sunday Mass, especiallly the young, are easy prey for the presentation of the Church as mysogynistic, homophobic, fascist, racist and xenophobic.

The very fact that our schools, our Catholic charities, our bishops, our clergy, our leading thinkers, our journalists, etc do not oppose this kind of appalling presentation of our faith might suggest that most of them believe that it is true.

Every agency of the Church needs to direct its efforts to communicating our Catholic vision of humanity. Too often we merely preach to the converted, rather than preaching to convert.

Let's stop being so Churchy and look out, start training applogists, public speakers, people who can write about the faith.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Real Problem: Modernism

We can be easily conned into a myopic view of what is happening in the Church and other ecclesial communities.
In the Catholic Church is the fight really between conservatives/traditionalists/orthodox -whatever you want to call them- and liberals?
In Anglicanism are the divisions actually between pro and anti women bishops and gay clergy?

The problem, Cardinal Kaspar has frequently identified, is one of Authority, the authority of scripture and tradition versus the authority of personal insight or intuition.
Fr Dwight sums it up nicely:
The question should not be, "Do you think women should be bishops?" or "Do you think two people of the same sex can marry one another?" The question is, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of a Virgin Mother, died on the cross for the salvation of a sinful humanity, rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the father?" The real question is, "Do you believe that the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, established the Church as the sacrament of salvation and that the Christian's sole purpose on earth is to love God, serve him, make his way to heaven and take as many others with him as possible."

Christians of all denominations and traditions who fudge on these basic questions of belief will inevitably take either a radical or at least a soft line on the contemporary 'issues'. That is because, whether they are conscious of it or not, they essentially believe that the Christian faith is not a revealed religion, but a relative religion. That the Church is not founded by God through his Son Jesus Christ, but it is a human and historical construct, and as such it needs to adapt to the changing needs of society.
Ultimately the issue is one of continuing Modernism: subjective versus objective revelation - has God revealed himself or not? Which ultimately comes down to the question: did God create us or did we create him?
It lies behind the words of Pope Benedict to Bishops of England and Wales:
It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More Persecution in China

Tim Collard blogs about more persecution in China:
A Mr Tan Zuoren has just been sentenced by the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court to five years imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power” in relation to those events. This, Amnesty International says, relates to critical articles and diaries published online and on overseas websites during the 1989 events. The trial took place on 12 August, with Mr Tan’s lawyers prevented from calling witnesses or showing video evidence. But the sentence has only just popped up. They have long memories, don’t they, the Chinese Gestapo?

That all sounds bad enough. But by all reliable accounts this wasn’t the real reason. It was clearly something they had excavated from their capacious files. What Mr Tan has been doing much more recently is making trouble over the causes of the massive death toll in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. A total of 80,000 died, many of them children, many of the latter in schools which appear to have been built out of tofu. (Yes, that is the simile the critical Chinese use.)
I thought I would put this up just to balance the previous post. Whenever I put something critical about China up, I normally get a wave of previously unknown readers telling me how mistaken I am.

Top 10 people: Chinese Catholic

( A 71-year old Catholic farmer, who has spent 23 taking care of the elderly, sick, abandoned and handicapped, has been named one of the "Top 10 People of 2009" in China.
The list is compiled based on votes cast by major Chinese national media and by the general population through online voting, reports the Fides news agency. The award ceremony will take place on Chinese New Year, which falls this year on Feb. 14.
The story of Wang Ping An, who has accompanied 63 dying people during their last days, has caught the attention of the nation. He also took out a loan in 2000 to build a 50-room shelter for the homeless.
The poor farmer is known for often ssying: "Jesus taught us 'Whenever you did to this to the least of these my brethren, you did unto me.'" 

Wang Ping (which means peace) said that the highlight of his life was when he visited Rome in 2007 and attended a general audience with Benedict XVI.
Fides news agency called the award an "eloquent testimony of how Chinese Catholics today are valued and recognized by society and by the Chinese media in general."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sistine Choir looking for new members

They're getting better, the stories about how bad they were are notorious but compared to this, I think it is Vin 10 - Vat 3. 

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Gosh, I'm becoming an international figure!
Quoted in USA Today!
Thanks for pointing it out Matt

Death: How to Do It

The debate about assisted suicide, the whole issue of communicating with people who are "shut in" reminds us that though most people have little fear of death, we all have a fear of the process of dying.
For a celibate priest there is little chance of me dying in my own bed, it is either a quick heart attack or following my mother, a rather hideous long drawn out death of alzheimers and hospital infections in a broken leg which remained unhealed for three years, or like my father, whose first anniversary is at this time , who died in hospice.
It is the lack of control, the dependency that rather frightens me, more than pain. I would certainly want to be spared from officiously being kept alive, a doctor's skill is perhaps more of a threat than a blessing today. I can sympathise with those who think of suicide, I can understand the fear of a loss of dignity, of being confronted by a process that has become increasingly institutionalised. It is rational to want control of one's death, it is after all MY death not someone elses.
Our faith should have something to say not just about legislation concerning dying but the process of dying itself. This week we have celebrated Saints Blaise, Agatha and today Paul Miki and his companions. Martyrdom and martyrs teach us something supremely important about heroic death, not just for those who die in the hatred of the Faith but simply for those of us who one day must die.
Not only do the Martyrs commend themselves into the hands of God but also the hands of their tormentors. They are models for us, whether they die in their own filth alone, forgotten, in a prison cell or naked, humiliated in the gaze of others, their deaths are models of our death, they remind us of the lack of control we have over our own end and of the necessity of accepting what Providence may send, of the importance of dying heroically, with inner dignity and in the Lord, whatever may come.
For centuries Christians prepared themselves for the agony of death by meditating on those who willingly accepted death for Christ, their example gave the courage to pray to be delivered "from a sudden and unprovided death", what many now call a "good death". That is quite the opposite of what Christian's understand by a "good and holy death", how dreadful for us to die without Confession, unconcious of the sacraments, without the prayer of Holy Church.
We need to teach people not only how to live but how to die, to die in the Lord.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pope to Scottish Bishops

Today the Pope met the Scottish bishops on their Ad Limina visit. Here is is exhortation.
It is worth comparing to that givern to the English and Welsh bishops. He speaks of dangers of euthanasia, the risks of confusing lay ministry and the lay apostolate, he seems to actually praise Scottish Catholic schools.
The Scots escaped any rebuke, just gentle encouragement, in the video the Scots look a little more relaxed than their southern brothers.

Gregorian Chant Network

Gregorian Chant Network: This seem like it is going to become a very useful resource masterminded by Dr Joseph Shaw supremo of the Latin Mass Society. Last Saturday they had a chant day at the Oratory, our Directrix of Music went along, I think there was only other woman, but...

I think many of us were wondering where the Latin Mass Society might fit into the post Summorum Pontificum Church, were both Uses are supposed to be made readily available in parishes. This seems like an interesting beginning.
Although there was a bit of criticism of the old regime over it, the most useful thing the LMS did for me was giving me a Missal that could be used on the altar and a set of altar cards, which once the Latin was corrected have been invaluable.
I notice also they are looking for a full-time General Manager.

Ordinariates: In Communion but not Absorbed

Rorate Caeli has this fascinating excerpt from a speech by Bishop Peter Elliot, who is in charge of setting up the Anglican Ordinariate in Australia, he is a former Anglican and a former Vatican "insider".

The Pastor of the nations is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed – that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.

Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces). In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical “use” as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region.

Support the Pope: Pray and Pay

The Catholic Herald runs a report about "officials" being worried about the cost of the Papal visit. I am told the National Secular Society have a petition on-line which says "Make the Pope Pay". As the Herald says this is a State visit, at the invitation of the Prime Minister, hence security and some travel costs will be paid for by taxpayers. The cost to the Church is estimated to be between £3m - £6m.
Pope Benedict's visits seem to be more modest affairs than those of his predecessor, he has a preference for Liturgical events in sacred buildings rather than fields for example, though there is normally one mega-event somewhere. The rumour is ours will be the Mass for the Beatification of Newman, which according to the rumours will take place at Coventry Airport. I must say I hate the thought of it, I suspect the Pope does too, preferring reverence to display but there is a need for some sort of huge public demonstration of faith.
The best way of showing solidarity and support for the Pope, is to pray and pay. I suggested to a member of the Birmingham Oratory, I would be willing to pay for a trumpeter, if they had the Nelson Mass (Haydn, not Mandela).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Paulinus' Cunning Plan

A pretty cunning plan from Paulinus: take over the National Secular Society.
As Paulinus says the NSS, never reveals its membership and probably punches well above its weight, he suggests it wouldn't be too difficult to get a few hundred Catholics to join it and take over - have they got nice offices and plenty of dosh in the bank?
It is a good Trotskyist ploy, when I was a student Trots would join a peaceful demonstration hand out plenty of banners with their logo on it and claim it as their own. They almost pulled it off with Old Labour, . Stonewall followed the same tactics infiltrating the media and the law in the 80s and 90s. In a way I suspect this is what lay behind Harriett Harman's Equallity Bill; weakening the churches by making them employ non-believers- not with ministers of religion in mind, she had given her word after all, and we all know how much we can trust our politicians, don't we?
As other people have suggested The Labour Party would not welcome BNP members, I suspect it wouldn't welcome Catholics any longer, though we were the mainstay of it for years before the pro-abortionist forced us out. Frankly nowadays it wouldn't be too difficult for a group of Catholics to take over a local branch of the Labour, or a trade union or Catholics 4 a Changing Church. It isn't just active involvement in Churches that is falling, it is active involvement in any organised group, many such groups run with an active involvement of a dozen or so. How wonderful to have a local Labour Party that was Pro-Life and Pro-Catholic.
All one would need to do is organise, and as the Pope said to the bishops, we might well find we are "giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?"

Recognise Dissent for What It Is

Some time ago someone from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told me that an English Archbishop had told the then Prefect that The Tablet was neither supported by or promoted by any bishop in the heirarchy of England and Wales. Now that same Prefect is Pope.
I am sure that The Tablet did not figure high in the discussions during the Ad Limina visit but I would love to know if it was mentioned.
I am not sure what that Archbishop meant by "support or promotion", presumably it didn't include selling it at the back of his Cathedral, or bishops, including the Nuncio, giving it exclusive interviews. If the bishops are going to give a sign that they take the Pope seriously then we should expect a certain pruning in the newspapers and periodicals at the back of our churches, we should also expect complaints about dissent to be taken seriously and investigated.
If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal.
If The Tablet or any other newspaper or magazine doesn't do this, then it should not be made available for sale at the back of our churches, nor be given priveleged interviews and information and certainly not be the medium through which bishops or even the Nuncio expresses his views.
In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Do we believe in miracles? Yes

Revd Jack Sullivan, healed through Newman's intercession, meets parishoners at the Oxford Oratory, November 2009

One of the problems forty years of rampant liberalism has done is remove any sense of the miraculous, obviously we have to be skeptical about miraculous claims, but reasonable skepticism can end up as mere cynicism. Once we dismiss the miraculous it is very easy to dismiss the involvement of God in the lives of men or in the life of the Church, thus prayer becomes indistinguishable from Buddhist navel gazing or therapy, the Church becomes a social club, the sacrament mere rituals and we live in an Arian fog forever distant from God.

A few weeks ago Ms Pepinster's Liberal Fanzine carried an article by dear old Clifford Longley, who I must confess, I have long suspected suffered from basic Christological heresy, suggesting miracles should no longer be required for beatifications or canonizations. In fact he is quite rude about the whole subject and asks: Is that really the kind of God we believe in? The answer is of course, if you are Catholic, yes! It is important that we are skeptical, but the miraculous is at the very heat of faith and our understanding of God.
Anyhow, there is rather good response to Mr Longley, firmly rooted in Newman's arguements, here.

Martin Salter MP's hatred for Catholicism

If you want to see an example of a member of the Labour Party's rabid prejudice against the Catholic Church, then look at this little piece of effluent that has has just floated down the Thames from the pen of Martin Salter, Member of Parliament for Reading West.
Well done Mr Salter it is worthy of Der Stürmer, it betrays all the prejudice that many Labour voting Catholics believe is the preserve of the BNP. Thank you for revealing it is firmly ensconced in New Labour.

Can this man ever really represent Catholics?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

UK Laws Violate of the Natural Law

The Telegraph and most other news sources report have put this spin on the Pope's words:
[The Pope's] strongly-worded intervention in British politics comes after leaders of both the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England clashed with Labour over its flagship Equality Bill, which they fear will make them admit homosexuals to the priesthood or face prosecution for discriminating against them.

Well, he didn't mention anything so churchy, this not about who we can or can't employ, that is just self interest neither did he even speak of homosexuals, let alone condemn them, on the contrary he praised our "firm committment to equality of opportunity for all members of society."
...the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.
The newsagencies seem to have ignored, the idea of "natural law", perhaps because it is not a phrase upper most in the Ecclesdon Square vocabulary. Yet for anyone concerned with "justice and peace" issues, it obviously should be.

In what sense does Ms Harman's "Equalities Legislation", which incidently is Labour's only "big idea", violate the natural law?

It bases human rights on sexual orientation, the tendency is therefore to reduce human beings to being a set of genitals attached to a person, rather than seeing first and foremost a human being a mind, a soul who has a certain sexual orientation.

Here in Brighton there is a rertirement home for retired protestant missionaries, they lost funding from the local authority, because they refused to ask their residents every three months to state their sexual orientation.
If one bases legislation and "services" on sexual orientation then one needs to gather data on sexual orientation, in this case data needed to be gathered from the elderly. Presumably if one is providing services to a school, it will be necessary to gather evidence of a childs sexual orientation. How far are we from asking 11 year olds their sexual orientation as they enter secondary school?
Another area were there is a violation of human rights is the whole are of adoption and fostering. We have already lost that battle, but what has happened? Adoption is seen as a "service"in the same sense as a  not to the child, or the child's parents but to those who adopt. The current legislation has removed the rights of a parent to decide on the environment in which he or she will be brought up. It has removed the possibility of a Christian, or for that matter a British muslim parent to ask that their child be brought up in an environment conducive to their faith.
Equalities legislation violates the natural law by removing a parent's right to educate their children. Ed Ball's legislation, supported by Oona Stannard, spokesman for the Bishop's Conference, which will be introduced next year takes away the rights of parents to remove their child from sex education lessons.
The tendency of our government is to erode a parent's rights to educate their children as the wish, replacing parents rights with those of the state to impose its madeup and untested morality.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ad Limina: the video

Text of the Pope's address to the Bishops of England and Wales

Dear Brother Bishops,
I welcome all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome, where you have come to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Vincent Nichols has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you my warmest good wishes and prayers for yourselves and all the faithful of England and Wales entrusted to your pastoral care. Your visit to Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in your country and the Apostolic See, a communion that sustained your people’s faith for centuries, and today provides fresh energies for renewal and evangelization. Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales. I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it. During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal.

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that "kindly light" wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.

Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis [Year for Priests], I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, "Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue assume great importance in England and Wales, given the varied demographic profile of the population. As well as encouraging you in your important work in these areas, I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic ministry to the intercession of Saint David, Saint George and all the saints and martyrs of England and Wales. May Our Lady of Walsingham guide and protect you always. To all of you, and to the priests, religious and lay faithful of your country, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Chris

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...