Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Father on the Sacred Triduum

The Holy Father speaking today at the General Audience on the Sacred Tridduum:
Tomorrow, during the Chrism Mass the priests will gather with their bishops for the rite in which the oil for the sick, the catechumens and the chrism is blessed. On the same occasion, the priests renew the promises made on the day of ordination. "This gesture this year, takes on a very special significance, because it takes place within the Year for Priests, held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé of Ars”. To all the priests, the Pope reiterated the wish expressed for this year: "Follow the example of the Curé of Ars, and you let yourself be conquered by Christ. You too must be messengers of hope, reconciliation, peace in today's world.

Tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass of the Lord's Last Supper, we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. In Jesus' words over the bread and wine "This is my body" and "This cup is the new covenant in my blood," said Benedict XVI “Christ’s intent is clearly manifest: in the species of bread and wine, He is present in a real way with his body and his blood shed as a sacrifice for the New Covenant. At the same time, He entrusts the apostles and their successors to be ministers of this sacrament, which he gives to His Church as the supreme proof of His love. "

During the same the act of Jesus washing the apostles' feet ritual is evoked, an act which "represents the entire life of Jesus and reveals his love to the end, an infinite love, that enables man to communion with God set him free. "

After the Holy Thursday liturgy, the Church places the Blessed Sacrament in a specially prepared place, "which is to represent the loneliness of Gethsemane, the mortal anguish of Jesus. In front of the Eucharist, the faithful contemplate Jesus in his solitude and pray for an end to all loneliness in the world. This liturgical path also invites us to seek intimate encounter with the Lord in prayer, to recognize Jesus among those who are lonely, to hold vigil with him and to know how he proclaims the light of his life".

Friday is dedicated to the memory of the passion and death of Jesus "There is - said the Pope - an inseparable connection between the Last Supper and the death of Jesus. In the first Christ gives his body and his blood, that is his earthly life, himself, anticipating his death and transforming it into an act of love. So he transforms death, which by its nature, is the end, the destruction of all relations, into an act of communication itself, an instrument of salvation and the proclamation of the victory of love. Thus, Jesus becomes the key to understanding the Last Supper, which is an anticipation of that transformation of violent death into voluntary sacrifice, into an act of love that redeems and saves the world. "

Holy Saturday is the day of "great silence. The churches are bare and there are no special liturgies. In this time of expectation and hope, believers are called to prayer, reflection, conversion, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in order to participate, inwardly renewed, in the celebration of Easter. " On the night of Holy Saturday the "mother of all vigils" takes place, when the silence is "broken by the song of the announcing the resurrection of Christ and the proclamation of the victory of light over darkness, life over death."

Levada speaks on abuse

Cardinal Levada, head of CDF speaks on sexual abuse.
See Rocco Palmo here

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Memoria di Me

BBC 4 showed In Memoria di Me, with English subtitles, on Sunday, warch it here. It is about a young man who joins a novitiate, in search for "meaning", it is rather austere. It is set in San Giorgio Maggiore, in Venice, but only the vague images of Venice are glimpsed through a window.
It is a film the seach for the interior life, it is very sparse, you won't enjoy it but you might find useful.
I suspect most novitiates and seminaries are a little more fun than this. It is a challenging film for Holy Week, worth a couple of hours.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Old fashioned atheist: Brendan O'Neill

Have a look at this: Why humanists shouldn’t join in this Catholic-bashing. It is Brendan O'Neill, he is an old fashioned liberal atheist. He is interesting on the Irish aspect of the present situation, and a little frightening on the future.

Numbers & collection up for Palm Sunday

The Physiocrat has some phoptographs of our Palm Sunday Mass. I was very pleased to see numbers were up this year by about 25%, same too with the collection, up by 30%. It is a bit unusual, especially as the clocks went forward, that is normally a time when numbers are down. I can only think that people wanted to show support of the Church and the Holy Father.
You can see the work of stripping the walls of the grey paint in the top picture at the clerestory level. Before the end of the year I hope we will put in a new lighting system and pave the sanctuary, then we will replace the boards in the central aisle with hardwood panels.

Compare and Contrast Misanthropes

So what is the difference?
"Not one crime is lacking from perjury through incest to sexual murder ... Behind the walls of monasteries and in the ranks of the Roman brotherhood what else may have been enacted that is not publically known and has not been expiated through this world's courts? What may not the church have succeeded in hushing up? All this is the expression and consequence of a system that has elevated unto a principle that which is against nature and of an organisation that has withdrawn itself from public control."
Heinrich Himmler

"No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears."
Richard Dawkins

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Campness and hillarity in Los Angeles

I am sure you have all seen this video of the Los Angeles annual  shindig, Fr  Z says it is  the umpteenth reason for Summorum Pontificum. I agree, it is ghastly, a travesty of Liturgy, a mess of abuses.
I know it is Mass but it is hillarious. Everyone is so bored and self conscious, and not quite sure of what to do. If you have seen previous videos of the same event, it is more or less a repeat performance, same silly bent candlesticks, the "altar" is a bit chipped now, everyone is a bit greyer.
I love the Opus Dei homeschooling mums, they most probably aren't but they are wearing the uniform, with their smoking pots, is it pot?. It is so nice of them to drag in that man with the moustache, obviously a token male, maybe token a "gay" too, who looks so bored and uncertain of what to do. And then there is the dancing deacon, so hip, clapping away, and all those deacon's wives, not to mention the podgey bishop. It looses something without the gravitas android presence of Cardinal Mahoney.
Interesting all the servers are gals, it is not very inclusive but..., well it is Los Angeles. And what were they singing at the beginning, it wasn't vernacular, was it Latin? No, it was from Africa.
What is so funny is they take it so very seriously.
It is..., I think the word is "camp"!
This can't be taken seriously, come, let us mock! Let us cheer ourselves up with humour, enough of outrage! Prizes for the funniest comments. Nothing rude!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My People are Suffering!

My people are suffering, people at work are criticising the Church and they don’t know how to defend her and if they do no one listens.
It is the same with the Pope or the Holy See, whatever is said, no one will listen. One clear answer is dismissed, followed by yet another stream of questions; the questions are always accusatory rarely in search of an answer. Whatever the reply, the questioners only see more guilt or cover-up.

A friend walking to a church in Rome to offer Mass had, “Paederasta!” shouted at him. One of my parishioners has started wearing her crucifix on a longer chain so it is less visible, after one of her customers asked if she was a Catholic, then gave her a long diatribe on the evils of the Catholic Church.

The problem is there is going to be no end to this, it is going to get worst, journalists smell blood, there are going to be more revelations. In England the sophisticated now come out with the same rants against the Church, as the Orange Order or the Protestant Truth Society might have done 50 years ago. It is open season on the “whore of Rome”. In other parts of Europe the old anti-clericalism will arise again.

In Germany and Austria marginal members of the Church are leaving in their thousands, by declaring they will no longer pay “Church Tax”. In Ireland there is a campaign to remove names from baptismal certificates by signing a formal declaration of “opting out”. The faithful are shaken, they will gather in the shadow of the Cross or leave.

During his time as Prefect of the CDF the Pope often spoke of the Church of the future being smaller but more faithful. It looks very much as if that is happening at the moment, the faithful remain, the weak in faith and the unfaithful will depart.

Already that has happened in part, most priests and religious see themselves as the last in the line, when they die no-one will replace them. Every Lent I am shocked by the decrease in the number of Confessions. So many have rejected the Church’s ancient teaching on contraception. Hardly anyone who marries in England is not already living and having sexual intercourse with their partner. Children leave our Catholic schools already indoctrinated with atheism or at best see the sacraments as irrelevant. Even the elderly who have lived a pious life care little about receiving the sacraments before death.

There is no quick or easy solution to this new passion of the Church, catechesis is obviously the answer but where does one begin, who does the catechesis, who will accept it?

Like everything else in Christianity, the answer is the Cross. Who will accept it?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Arrest Weakland!

This Vatican secrecy stuff is ridiculous, archbishops, bishops and priests too, are subject to the civil law, if they break it by concealing evidence of a crime then they should be brought to trial and suffer the consequences of their crime, so enough of this media ranting, lets have some prosecutions.

In the case of Lawrence Murphy in Milwalkee, Murphy was investigated by the police, who declined to propsecute. Did Archbishop Rembert Weakland have additional information of Murphy's guilt which he concealed from the civil authorities, which if he had revealed would have brought about his conviction?  If so prosecute Weakland, let him answer for it before the civil authorities. Catholics have to obey, just civil laws, the Church is not above the law.

Canon Law is about the internal governance of the Church. It has the same presumption of innocence as any other court and requires the same burden of proof. It relies on the investigations of the local bishop, in the case of the Milwalkee allegations, presumably it would have followed the same course of evidence gathering as the civil authorities. The civil authorities didn't find enough evidence so why should Rome?

Normally a canonical trial will follow a civil trial, for the most part civil offences are the same as ecclessiastical ones, the Church has additional offences such as violation of the sacraments, offences against the unity of the Church, such as heresy or disobedience but for any prosecution proof is required. The outcome of a successful prosecution can result in laicisation, restrictions on the individual's ministry, or censure. It is the canonical process which is secret. The secrecy is there to protect the reputation of the accused and the accuser and to stop any undue influence on witnesses.

The ecclesiastical process is not a substitute for the civil process, it is addition.

I find it almost incredible that the parents of a child who had been raped or otherwise abused by a priest would not go to the civil auithorities and seek justice for their child. I find it difficult to believe an adult who has discovered the courage to report an act of  abuse in their childhood should choose to report the matter to a bishop rather than the police, except perhaps if there is little evidence, but when there is scant evidence how can the Church proceed against someone justly?

added at midday: Yes, those of you who have commented so far and disagree with this last paragraph, you are right. Reporting the abuse to civil authorities can often be an abusive experience in itself, and yes, for many victims reporting the matter to the Church is often more about wanting an acknowledgement of hurt, an appology or even an admission that they have raised the matter and are taken seriously and are heard at last.
And yes, the Church can act without a judicial process, it can't laicise him but it can restrict his faculties in cases where there is reasonable, but unprovable, guilt or suspicion og guilt. In the Murphy case the CDF required of him an admission or acceptance of what he had done.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Archbishop Nichols Speaks Up for the Pope

I have just seen on Idle Speculation a link in today's Times under the heading of  The Church is not trying to cover anything up.
Addressing "secrecy" he says:

The relationship between the administration of church law and the criminal law in any particular state is a point of real difficulty and misunderstanding. Nothing in the requirement of canon law prohibits or impedes the reporting of criminal offences to the police. Since 2001 the Holy See, working through the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, has encouraged that course of action on dioceses who have received evidence about child abuse and which the diocesan authorities are responsible for pursuing. The canonical procedure is best put on hold until the criminal investigation is complete, whatever its outcome. This is what is needed. That it has not happened consistently is deeply regrettable.

What of the role of Pope Benedict? When he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he led important changes made in church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statue of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders. He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words.
I hope the Archbishop will appear on the BBC tomorrow, today it has been absolutely vicious reporting the Milwalkee cases.

Is God Mad?

It is all the fault of of the Annunciation!
Such a bizzare notion of the Most High God to step into time from timelessness, into experience fom impassionate observation, into limited human knowledge from omniscience. To take on the body of a fetus in a womb, when the universe itself cannot contain Him was a folly as great as God Himself. To entrust His plan of Salvation to a woman who might have said, "No" as much as "Yes". To make Himself the subject of nurture within a family; we know what can happen in families, even the best. What did Larkin say about mum and dad?
The absolute absurdity of God throwing himself on the mercy of human nature which by its nature naturally rejects God.
How mad of God to entrust his mission to a Church which contains murderers, the power drunk, half crazed mad men, thieves and liars, gossips, traitors, adulterers and yes, even paedophiles. To place himself in the hands of priests where even the best in an instant can fall from being seeming shining angels of light to corrupt depravity.
Is He mad, or do I have to learn something of how much He risks for love me?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Deeply Veiling

Lent at St Mary Magdalen's, half way through getting ready for Exposition and Benediction, I must straighten those candles! The reredos should be veiled too, may be next year.
Oh, we had permission to pave the sanctuary, to cover the plywood in limestone tiles. If God sends us the money it together with the lighting will be done this summer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why are they silent?

Rorate Caeli prints an extract of a letter from Cardinal Pell to The Australian in which he stands up for the Pope. On the New Liturgical Movement there is a summary of a statement made by Van Thuân Observatory which affirms support for Benedict XVI. The Van Thuan Observatory monitors the persecution of Christians. The actual text of their statement says:
To the persecutions against many Christians, crucified in the literal sense in many parts of the world, to the many attempts to uproot Christianity in previously Christian societies with a devastating violence on the legislative and educational plane, and to customs that cannot be explained by good common sense, has been added for some time a fury against this Pope, whose providential greatness is before everyone's eyes.
These attacks are echoed sadly by those who do not listen to the Pope, also among ecclesiastics, professors of theology in seminaries, priests and laymen. ...
The lack of pro-active support for the Pope shown by so many ecclesiastics, professors of theology, priests and laymen is truly frightening.
With the Pope's visit coming up, why are so many silent?

Gerald Warner is wrong, but...

 Yesterday, Gerald Warner created a bit of a stir by provacatively claiming that sexual abuse was a post Vatican II problem.

How could clergy transgress so gravely against the doctrines of the Church? What doctrines? These offences took place in the wake of Vatican II, when doctrines were being thrown out like so much lumber. These offenders were the children of Paul VI and “aggiornamento”. Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily.
The “neglected” sacraments and devotional practices that the Pope says could have prevented this did not just wither on the vine: they were actively discouraged by bishops and priests. In the period when this abuse was rampant, there was just one mortal sin in the Catholic Church: daring to celebrate or attend the Latin Tridentine Mass. A priest raping altar boys would be moved to another parish; as for a priest who had the temerity to celebrate the Old Mass – his feet would not touch the ground.

In order for him to uphold his thesis he would have to prove that sexual abuse either didn't happen before the VII or was much, much rarer. I don't think that is possible to prove. Indeed many of the cases now coming to light in Germany and Austria are cases where the alleged clerical perpetrator is now dead, some of them happened in the 1950s, before the Council and many of the abusers were trained and ordained before Council.

The Pope has linked this "filth" to a loss of faith, secular commentators have linked it to celibacy, Warner links it to "trendy bishops". All three are right.

The Pope of course is the most right. I watched a video recently in which an Irish priest famed for his work amongst street children said of conversion, "we've moved beyond all that". I suspect he meant: we are concerned with making a better world but without personal Salvation.

It is not VII, it is the loss of the centrality of Christ in the Church that is the heart of the problem. I think that it would be provable that the crisis is the fruit of Modernism, a direct result of the dethroning of God, a violation of the first commandment. Modernism saps belief in the power of Grace. It destroys any understanding of the Church's mission. It transforms holy dynamic celibacy into self-serving bachelorhood. It robs the priesthood and religious life of any transcendent meaning and can so often reduce it to empty loneliness.

The great exeunt from the Church after the Humanae Vitae was a crisis greater than this present one, seems not to have been a crisis over the restatement of the traditional doctrines of the Christian faith but a dam break of pre-Concilliar liberal Modernist thought.

Warner is wrong to lay this crisis at the door of VII but I suspect he is not wrong to lay it the door of "the spirit of VII". Certainly the "rupture" with the past brought about an undermining of the spirituality of the Church, cutting many off from the roots that not only gave nourishment but also support.

Warner blames post-Concilliar liturgy as being an important constituent part of the crisis, which is worth considering. One of the things that has been going through my mind recently, is the Pope's expression, "the closed circle" describing "ad populum" celebration of the Mass. If that is the constant presentation of the image of the Church in its public worship, it is easy to juxtapose this image with cover-up. The "closed circle" tends to be self serving and self interested, it tends to look to itself and be self-preserving and self congratulatory. If the priest, when he prays is constantly looking to the congregation, is he not likely to be concerned with the congregation's validation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Benedict's Bootcamp

Ten years ago the great discussion was should the emphasis in the Church be on the local Church pushed by Kaspar or on the Universal Church pushed by Ratzinger.

It strikes me that so much of the Irish problem stems from its emphasis on the local Church. Willie Walsh, possibly the most pastoral bishop in Ireland, infamously said he threw everything from Rome into the wastebin. One of the criticism of the bishops in the Pope’s letter is that they didn’t follow canonical procedures, the accusations against the young Cardinal Brady imposing oaths of silence on children seems to suggest law being made up on the hoof by local bishops.

In order to solve the problems of the local Church there is the necessary intervention of the Bishop of Rome, Patriarch of the Universal Church.

Having re-read the Pope’s Letter, what he is actually saying is: without this National Mission, I don’t have confidence in you, not only do I think you are incompetent, unlearned, the fruit of a hermeneutic of rupture, separated from the mainstream Church but also, faithless. He is sending them to boot camp!

I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.
In the light of this, the Apostolic Administration seems not just about correcting error but presumably about finding replacements outside of the Irish "magic circle".
The trouble is I don’t think the Irish “magic circle” is the only one.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pope's Solution for Ireland: Christ

The Holy Father has written his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, do read the text yourself, I found it incredibly moving, many of the victims of abuse will find it irritating cant, I suspect they are too hurt for any words from him. One od(d) commentator on Radio 4 this morning said she wanted to see the Pope prostrate in the dust, begging for forgiveness, he doesn't do that but he does speak with great compassion.
More importantly he suggests a way forward, he recognises that the abuse of these children and the cover-up has wounded everyone in the Church and beyond. It is not a good time to be a Catholic in Europe, in Ireland it must be horrendous.

  • Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country.
  • I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention.
  • I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.
  • I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.
  • Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.
The Pope also states there will be an Apostolic Visitation of certain diocese, seminaries and religious orders and most significantly:
I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.
 It is almost as if he is attempting to rekindle the ancient fires that burned on the western mountains of Europe. It seems exciting!
The Pope intends this letter and the Irish Church as a model for elsewhere. It is nothing new, it is Benedict's repeated call "turn to the Lord", rediscover "the authentic Tradition". It is part of his battle against notional faith and relativism.
Ireland is not the only place where bishops and clergy would seem to happier in the offices of Enron serving and bolstering an instituition rather than being totally committed the proclamation of the faith in its fullness.
Even in England bishops and priests must examine their consciences. What are we doing to defend the Natural Law against the relentless onslaught of an aggressive secular goverrnment, to make our schools real Catholic centres of Evangelisation.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I just wanted to say well done Damian!

Read Damian Thompson in today's Telegraph. I suspect DT is not one of Austen Ivereigh's Catholic Voices, of course he ought to be.
Now is the time for us to gather to the  voice of the shepherd. This week every Catholic priest I speak to seems a little depressed, its a number of things: certainly the accusations of abuse in Germany and Austria, the attacks on the Pope but also the CES's support of Ed Balls Sex Ed Bill, the silence of the Church here doesn't help.
Maybe when the frenzy has died down, we Catholics might learn to be a little more open. Silence doesn't preach the Gospel but it does signify cover-up.

Liturgical Innovations at St Mary Magdalen's

Call me a wet liberal if you must but I have been innovating.
Our nave aisle is terribly narrow, people can only come up to Holy Communion in single file, it takes an awful long time to distribute Holy Communion to a couple of hundred people.
People felt rushed, elderly parishioners wobble when they get to the end of the queue. A few weeks ago a woman walking up didn't quite judge when to stop and almost fell on me and would of knocked the ciborium out of my hand if it wasn't against my chest.
I also had a conversation with a young couple who asked if ther was a way they and their child could receive Holy Communion together occassionally, the only thing I could suggest was going to the TLM, they did, then they asked why they couldn't do so at the Ordinary Form.

So the innovation: instead of forming a queue I have suggested people form a line across the sanctuary at the step. It seems to work, people have a little time to arrange and recollect themselves before and after receiving. Some of the younger members of the congregation have started to kneel for Holy Communion and families can receive together. Distribution in this manner also gives a slightly deeper sense that Holy Communion is an "ecclessial act" involving the Church as community.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Was Cover-Up Freud's Legacy?

Just a passing thought, prompted by Shane's comment, remembering those Hampstead fondue dinner parties of my youth. We were all Freudians then, chatting endlessly about the "ids" and "egos". The wealthier and more arty spent hundreds of pounds going to their weekly therapy session.We saw everything in sexual terms then, most people and most psychologists then were rabid Freudians, a few were Jungian but most were Freudians. Children were viewed as sexual creatures from birth, sruggling with their complexes, hysterias and fantasies. The culture of the eighties saw children as protagonists in sexual activity, sometimes its provocateur but often just a fantascists. Popular Freudianism, the type embraced by social workers, teachers, journalists and leftist priests said children were not to believed and then if you added the Kinsey Report ...! Discuss.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Bishops Spoken Words and What the Journalist Wrote

The Times carries a not very satisfying interview with my bishop. Ms Gledhill seems to emphasise division and negativity in her write up. In fact in this clip he is actually saying something quite different, characteristically he is being honest and realistic.
It is worth comparing and contrasting reality the of the video with  what Ms Gledhill , this Times journalist, has chosen to write, it is illustrative of the journalist's "art". So many of the wiser points Bishop Conry makes are ignored by her.
Ms Gledhill should be thoroughly ashamed of the last part of this little piece which appeared today The Times.

thanks to James for finding the video

LMS Holy Week Guide

John Medlin from the LMS sent me page after page of details where Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum are being celebrated this year. Check it out here:
Yes, it is PDF but it is the content that is important.


I must say one of the down sides of Holy Week, for me, is not getting my weekly fix of the TLM, I am becoming quite addicted to it. I actually need it.
I know so many priests who haven't, think those of us who have "discovered" the old Mass are a little over the top about it, when my priests friends hear me going on about it, they chalk it up as yet another of my eccentricities.

I was trying to explain to a group of parishioners why it is important to me. It's the silence.

So much of our Catholic faith is not about words, it is the silent action of God. The silence of the Cross, the silence of the Incarnation, of the Resurrection, the silence of Christ which is so tender, so inviting - eternal.
It is the silence of Aaron entering the Tent of Meeting, of Zachariah ascending to the Holy of Holies. It is something so fundamental to being a priest, it is about standing before God himself holding the Blood of the Lamb, of interceding for the Church and the world of standing alone before God on behalf of the World.

There are lots of things that are beautiful in the Novus Ordo but the silences there are periods of waiting rather than the soul piercing silence of the TLM.
Fathers, remember the LMS course at Ushaw in April.

A Liberal Motion from 1980

Apparently Patricia Hewitt was the General Secretary and Harriet Harman was the Legal Officer of an organisation who had this as a motion at its 1980 AGM!

Motion 31: This AGM notes with disapproval the continued harassment of the organisations Paedophiles Information Exchange and Paedophiles Action for Liberation, who are working for the rights of adults who are sexually interested in children. We affirm that the existance of these and any other lawful pressure groups should be threatened by neither press nor police.

According to The Dolphinarium it was Liberty, then the National Council for Civil Liberties. It is sickening, but as Red Maria says it is illustrative of what "liberal" society was willing to tolerate or even embrace 30 years ago. The NCCL was provacative but not cutting edge.
Is it also illustrative of the "clear sky" thinking that lies behind the equalities legislation and even Mr Balls' bill?

Monday, March 15, 2010

CSF Bill: Bishop McMahon says, "Don't worry!"

The Bones... has an email from Bishop Malcolm McMahon's secretary:
Dear Mr England

Thank you for your email of 23 February 2010.

The Catholic Education Service which I chair has been working very hard to secure the rights of parents and school governors as the Children, Schools and Families Bill passes through Parliament.

There is no question of the CES colluding with the Government. Negotiation is not collusion. I also believe that confrontation with the Government over this Bill would not achieve anything.

There has been much wrong information put about by campaigning groups and indeed the Government itself. The CES has had some of this corrected. As the Bill stands at the present time, it will not be made statutory for Catholic Schools to promote abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Yours sincerely

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon OP
Bishop of Nottingham

Catherine Campbell
Bishop's Secretary
Rather than clarifying anything this only adds confusion, the bill itself gives the Secretary of State the right to determine at will what will or will not be taught in schools. It seems very strange that the Government is accused of giving misinformation about its own bill whilst the CES has been correcting this.

Yet under the CES Connexions has been given ready access to Catholic Schools.

"Negotiation is not collusion." says the Bishop. Yet hasn't this bill already passed through the House of Commons? It might be arrogant to ask his Lordship ...but should he trust our Government, is he aware that the majority of people in this country, for good reason, don't trust the Government?

There is a great risk today in Bishops not being clear and unequivocal in the their words, it is that failure which leads to suspicion and mistrust. We must learn at least that from thesituation Irish bishops.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck..."

I always read Chiesa, this week there is a very interesting interview with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna the "promoter of justice" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he overseas priest abuse cases.

By the Church's law if the "bishop has the obligation to investigate both the soundness and the subject of the accusation. If the outcome of this initial investigation is consistent, he no longer has any power to act in the matter and must refer the case to our Congregation where it is dealt with by the disciplinary office."

A few days ago I was asking for statistics of priest abuse minors, some of you supplied interesting information in the comments. Mgr Scicluna presents these statistics in the interview:
Overall in the last nine years (2001-2010) we have considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years.
60% of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex,
30% involved heterosexual relations
the remaining 10% cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children.
The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years.

In 2003-2004, the US represented around 80% of total cases.
In 2009 the US "share" had dropped to around 25% of the 223 cases reported from all over the world. 2007-2009 the annual average of cases reported to the Congregation from around the world has been two hundred and fifty.
Many countries report only one or two cases.
It must, in fact, be borne in mind that the overall number of diocesan and religious priests in the world is 400,000.
But of course read the original text!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Porn for Schools? No a Learning Resource!

I think this is pornographic, it is taken from the Channel 4 series, 'Living And Growing'. It is a learning resource for Primary schools. Playing "Mummies and Daddies" is going to take on a whole new dimension under Mr Balls' bill.

All three units and the INSET programme for the Living and Growing series are now available on a single DVD. This includes gently introducing sex education to younger children, through puberty and birth, to media images, same-sex relationships and teenage pregnancy.
•Challenges beliefs
•Positive attitudes, values and behaviour
•Skills for effective communication, loving, caring and happy relationships
Well, of course we know every teacher is competant, caring, sensitive and relates to children on level appropriate to their emotional development, just like this Scottish teacher in holocaust role play game. Apply the same insight into sex education and everyone will be a happy bunny!

So sign the petition and get your friends to do so.

The Times' allegations

You can understand the Argus here in Brighton not checking facts, being sensationalist etc etc, their staff are paid peanuts and are generally at the beginning -or end- of their of their career, there aren't very many of them, it is a local paper and, well, I feel for them.

The Times on the other hand, one might expect to be a little better, last week I am told they reported on a Brighton Catholic priest, urging people on his blog to be compassionate, despite downloading their copy from the net or a news agency, they still got his name wrong. Have you heard of a Fr Michael Blake?

In a story by Gregory Owen headlined "Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry", The Times suggests the Pope was complicit in the cover-up of an abusing priest, whilst Archbishop of Munich.

This story just doesn't ring true, Joseph Ratzinger's greatest fault is that he appoints people to a position and lets them get on with things and focuses his energies on precise projects. His time as Archbishop of Munich was not the most glorious part of his career, he is a man of ideas and concepts, not a micro-managing administer. Certainly he was a loving pastor but in a diocese with over a thousand clergy plus a vast lay staff, it seems absurd to expect him to have even known of this abusive priest. In fact that was a criticism of his time in Munich that his relations with clergy were cerebral and rather formal, and their pastoral supervision was left to vicars general, but that happens in a large diocese.

The past, even the recent past, is a different country, Owen's allegation stem from 1986. The priest in question was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence and fined DM 4,000 (£1,800 today); apparently there have been no formal charges against him since. The lightness of the sentence and fine are indicative of the different attitudes that were prevalent at the time, not just in the Church but in society generally. It is worth reminding ourselves that the first English language academic study of the phenomena of sexual abuse of children was published less than a decade before. I can't imagine a German study pre-existing it.

Those were the days in which parents thought it best not to talk about such problems, that children forgot unpleasant things that happened to them, that carrying on and keeping up appearances was everything. Rape of women, abuse of children always carried with a suspicion that the victim was somehow not so innocent, and the victim bore some responsibility. Respectable women didn't report rape in those days, parents tended to be satisfied that abusers were moved on and would happily collaborate in official silence to protect their child from public exposure as a victim. It is difficult for us to understand such taboos today. I do not think it is surprising the Pope’s brother arrived at the Regensburg Choir after an abusive headmaster had been ousted and knew nothing.

Child abuse by priests until the last ten years victims seems to have been dealt with more in terms of a sin against celibacy, a problem centred on the priest's soul rather than on its effects on the child. It wasn't seen as a specific problem, it essentially revealed a weakness of character, a lack of formation or commitment to his vocation. That might necessitate his removal as far as possible from the occasion of sin but little else. So the normal way of dealing with it in the past was a spell in a monastery, or with an order that dealt with priests with problems, some real sign of repentance, possibly followed by being sent off to do a specialist chaplaincy, looking after nuns, or prison work or a spell as a Naval Chaplain seemed to be popular, or just being sent abroad. In our naivety we thought it could be dealt with by prayer and spiritual direction.

The Church as well as society tended not to talk, or maybe even think, about these things, not only because it was shameful but because there was a sense of protecting both the perpetrator’s and individual's character from detraction.

The Church especially felt these things were best dealt with in the confessional, even if they were semi-public, there was still a sense that sin, especially sexual sin, really belonged in the internal forum. When most Catholics went to Confession more frequently I suspect hearing about sexual abuse in the Confessional was not quite as rare as it is today.

In England when allegations of child abuse first came to the fore in the Church in the late 1990s, we simply didn't know what to do, we just didn’t understand the gravity of them, as we do now. In larger diocese where the bishop did directly appoint or concern himself much with his clergy, especially the junior clergy, the problems were for the most part dealt with by an appointee rather than the bishop himself. If there was cover up it was part of the mores of the time.

Judging the present by the past is rather easy but being wise after the event, shows a lack of understanding.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Have a look here: Argus Posters

Have a look at the Bones' photo shopping.
I have been thinking about things The Argus, our local American owned paper might want to quote me on:

Priest believes we were made a little less than the Angels
Priest believes God became Man so Man might become God
Priest believes in the power of prayer
Priest believes when Mary prays, Jesus saves
Priest believes The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us
Priest believes Every sexual act should be open to life
Priest believes Life Begins at Conception
Priest believes we must take up our Cross
Priest believes Catholic Bishops are Successors of the Apostles
Priest believes Jesus Christ is Truly God and Truly Man, without co-mixture
Priest believes Sacrament of Penance Forgives Sins
Priest believes Bread becomes God
Priest believes Everyone should be a Catholic
Priest believes in Heaven and Hell
Priest believes Parents have rights
Priest believes human being have dignity
Priest believes hedonism is evil
Priest believes in 10 Commandments
Priest believes the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven
Priest believes Bread becomes Flesh
Priest believes You should be at Mass
Priest believes You should Fast and do Penance
Priest believes You should Celebrate on Feast Days
Priest believes God Loves You and You should Love God
Priest believes Children deserve a Mother and Father
Priest believes Marriage lasts until Death
Priest believes if we want God's Forgiveness we must Forgive
Priest believes Life begins at Conception
Priest believes Church versus World

Priest believes Argus Journalists should spend at least 5 minutes checking their stories for accuracy!

Argus Journalists believe San Diego is in Brighton!

CSF: Opposition Builds

Zenit's Edward Pentin has a very good appraisal of the crisis in the English and Welsh Church over the Children, Schools and Families Bill. He entitles it "Opposition Builds".

He quotes Lord Alton's speech in the Lords and then goes on to say:
Yet so far the bishops of England and Wales have been silent on the bill or actively supported it. The chairman of the Catholic Education Service, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, wrote a long article in the London Times last week without indicating any objection to the legislation. (Some Catholics are reportedly already discouraged after he said recently that people in same-sex civil partnerships should be able to be head teachers of Catholic schools.)
The CES's director, Oona Stannard, insists the bill is a "positive step forward" and that Catholic schools would not be compelled "to promote abortion" under the legislation (despite Ed Balls, Britain's education minister, saying recently that Catholic schools "must explain how to access abortion"). But even if Catholic school children are exempt, campaigners say other children will still be vulnerable to the promotion of lifestyles that are against the natural law.
The absence of opposition from the bishops, which some charitably think may be tactical, has led to prominent Catholics such as Lord Alton and respected priest bloggers to formally protest on behalf of the Church. It's also been noted how laudably a Protestant campaign group, Christian Concern for Our Nation, has responded to the dangers of the legislation and its problems with regards to Home Schooling.
Some Catholics have taken the matter into their own hands and set up an online petition asking the bishops to speak out. So far it has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.
He ends by mentioning the National Day of Prayer and Fasting (organized by the pro-life movement) on Monday March 14.
If you haven't signed the petition do so today!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sexual Abuse: Let there be Light

It seems as if the dark clouds of clerical sexual abuse are now gathering over Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. It is pretty horrendous for innocent clergy, there is a sense of betrayal by the perpetrators and suspicion of the brothers, there is a mistrust too of bishops by the clergy; of both bishops and clergy by the laity.

Outside the Church everyone inside it seems to be either an abuser or somehow implicated in abuse; goodwill turns to coldness or to loathing or downright hatred. For secularists or professional atheists it becomes another stick with which to beat the Church.

Those who know about such things keep saying clergy are less likely to abuse than other members of society, less than social workers, less than teachers and certainly less than other family members, especially step parents.

In New York recently there were claims of a big abuse scandal hovering just under the surface in the Jewish community. There are other claims that there is a serious problem in the Islamic community. Some Anglican dioceses in the States and places like Australia have declared bankruptcy because of abuse claims. Before the revelations from Nova Scotia in 1985 revelations of Catholic clerical sexual abuse of minors appeared very occasionally but didn’t seem to be a Catholic problem. Now it seems to be a specifically Catholic problem.

In this country abuse by people other than Catholic clergy is rarely reported unless it is particular horrendous. It could be that abuse by priests is seen to be particularly offensive because of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, or it could be that clergy abuse is far more common than other group in society. Possibly it is that abuse by others isn’t reported but that there is particular reason to concentrate on the Catholic Church’s failings.

There are those who claim celibacy either becomes a useful mask for abusers or even causes it, others claim that the discipline of celibacy makes celibates less likely to abuse. In the States there are claims that there is a direct correlation between at least the abuse of older boys and homosexual clergy. Again there is a claim that this is primarily a post-Concilliar.

At the moment some German bishops are claiming that it is a societal rather than an ecclesiastical problem. As Catholic clergy tend not to move around that often, they are always in the diocesan directory, it is perhaps easier to track of them down; abusive social workers or scout masters can just move on to another job or even out of the profession altogether and be lost in society.

In Ireland especially almost every childcare facility was run by the Church, so whilst everywhere else abuse might be spread amongst lay teachers, social workers, carers in orphanages, reformatory instructors, youth workers, scout leaders, clergy, all the dirt was laid a the Church’s door.

If the German bishops are right, presumably then their assertion is provable. Is it not time some honest Catholic statistician produced some figures? Child protection or “Safeguarding” is obviously important here and now but what damages the Church now and in the future is the appearance that it is full of abusers. Shouldn’t every Episcopal Conference be commissioning a study into the figures that are available. If the popular conception is right, that Catholic priests are more prone to sexual abuse than others, then this needs to be addressed urgently. If it is incorrect then we need evidence to contradict our detractors. What is needed is clear light not claim and counter claim.

I have signed the petition!

I have signed the petition against Government Led Sex Education, by doing so I fully acknowledge I am criticising the bishops of England and Wales. I also urge everyone who reads this blog to sign too.
I added the comment: The Apostles were sent to teach the nations, when they are silent they deny their mission.
Yesterday I had gave an interview to someone from the Tablet, I know....! They wanted to ask me about what I said about Venables, presumably to get on the band wagon, I refused to discuss that except to say I thought that speaking of compassion was a priest's job. I had just written the last post in which I end up by speaking about the "Silent Church", so I spoke about the need  for the bishops to communicate, to teach, not just to give their opinions. Joe Bloggs or Austen Ivereigh can do that, but they are the successors of the Apostles, which if they faithful bearers of The Tradition, gives them the authority of Christ himself.
God has given us his bishops my criticism of them is simply that they do not teach, they don't proclaim the Gospel from the rooftops, "in season and out of season".
Silence is the greatest vice in the Episcopacy today. We have seen how silence and cover-up is actively destructive of the Church in Ireland recently. I think the years of skirting around the edges of the faith and morals over the past decades have been equally destructive of the Church in England and Wales.
The silence over this education bill might be politically useful in negotiating with the government but Christ didn't commission the Apostles to negotiate but to preach and proclaim.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Noise and Silence

Just for your interest have a look at this stuff:

As Gem's, "let them rot" diatribe formed a major part of the story and she was assumed to be one of my parishioners - poor journalism not checking her link- I hope she will feel honour bound to go around the regional newspapers of the UK and point out San Diego is not geographically part of Brighton! My parishioners, who are gentle compassionate people, for the most part do not share her "hang 'em high" Republican views.

Yesterday was very noisy, almost every phone call was from a media outlet of one sort or another: newsagencies, papers, television stations, someone even turned up with a tv camera. Fortunately I was busy and didn't have time for much of it but I do feel a little resentful that my comments are used to stoke up fires on this issue, which should be left to die down quietly. My comments are meant for the small community of 2-3,000 of readers of this blog, who care to read the ramblings of this opinionated priest. They are meant to provoke a discussion, thought and maybe prayer; an attempt to introduce some sort of democracy into the Church.

The other thing which I find continues to irritate is that there is no "official" agency that is willing to offer a commentary on issues that seem to concern the popular media. It is not so much this issue but a whole raft of others that directly concern the Church: the Ed Balls Bill is one issue where there is, apart from the CES's ridiculous comment, silence. There is silence too on vicious attacks on the Church, silence on the abuse allegations against the Church which are growing like a dark cloud over Europe, silence on the attacks on the Pope. There is silence too on so much of the Church's teaching: on compassion, mercy, sex and sexuallity, on politics, on human rights, on the persecution of the Church, on international issues, etc etc.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales far from following its Lord's commission to preach the Gospel to the nations is the Church of Silence! The preachers should be the bishops, why are they dumb in the public forum?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Reverence and Respect for Human Life

I had an email from one of the organisers of the petition Against Government-Led Sex Education in Catholic Schools.
Being a convert to Catholicism from Judaism has been a very difficult, painful but also joyous experience. I think it will always remain painful because of my family's reaction. I literally had to leave everything and begin again. It was the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life from birth to death which compelled me so greatly and this was through hearing a SPUC talk at school and watching the infamous 'Silent Scream'. (My parents, in their blissful ignorance sent me to the Domician Nuns, little did they know I would become a catholic years later!).
Hearing the Church's teaching on marriage and family, and the sheer respect and reverence in which they hold human life just blew me away. I vowed I would spend my life fighting for the unborn which I have tried to do. The point I am (clumsily) trying to make is that I truly believe all children deserve to learn the true Church teaching and by allowing sex education into schools, let alone our Catholic schools, will destroy their innocence but also be entirely contrary to catholic teaching.

I know this situation in the schools is an ongoing problem and I think one needs to face that sex education is answerable for so many of our problems today. It seems clear to me that if schools instruct children in sex education, they will become promiscuous, they will lose their modesty, a virtue which protects chastity. People are trying to proclaim this is medicine when it is really poison.

The petition was a cry for help, and indeed many people have signed and some with strong comments. Our hope is to present it to Archbishop Nicholls and hopefully attain a meeting with him.

We are keeping the petition running until 15th March. I am praying fervently you will decide to sign it and I will be very grateful if you would be willing to advertise this on your blog.
May God Bless you always!
Again and again I hear of converts who actually became Catholics because of  what the Church teaches about human sexuality and the sacredness of the human person, one of the obvious converts is Scott Hahn's wife. A friend of mine, a former Anglican now a Catholic priest, his wife discovered the faith through Natural Family Planning.
For me, when I was nineteen tear old Anglican, some Catholic friends at Christmas wanted to go around the pubs in Guildford carol singing, a sort of Catholic pub crawl, having decided we should raise money, there was discussion on what to do with it, a nun suggested it should be for campaigning against abortion. I hadn't thought of it as being an issue until that time. I was shocked, and suddenly realised that the Catholic attitude to human life and human dignity, to reproduction, to sexuality, to what it is to be a human being was dramatically different from anything else I had ever heard.

There is indeed a vast gulf between that which the Church teaches and which Mr Balls would have us teach, the two things are incompatable. We teach something which is hard but sublime, Mr Balls wants us to teach something easy and ultimately bestial.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Irish Poll on Abortion

The Marie Stopes have got this poll up on abortion in Ireland. At the moment it is 28% for legal abortions: 72% against.

Ed West has a piece about the wicked racist eugeniscist and the continuing impact on the black communities in the UK and USA.

Ireland's Glory: "On God's Mission"

It is easy to forget the great glories of the Church. In Ireland especially it is easy to see merely "the scandals", emptying Churches, shambling bishops, decadence and corruption.
It is refreshing therefore that RTE is running a series called on "On God's Mission" which remembers the ten's of thousands of Irish priests and nuns who left their homeland, willing to sacrifice their lives to proclaim Christ throughout the world. It is easy and fashionable to forget the Church's and the world's debt to the heroism of those brave men and women of the recent past, and the poor at home who supported their work.

The first and second episode can be seen here.
I wonder if remembering these men and women and the fervour of the spirituality of self sacrifice that inspired them might actually be a source of healing for Ireland and the Irish Church. The second part perhaps gives us insight into the loss confidence of the Irish Church: the embarassment of proclaiming the person of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Feeling Sorry for Jon Venables

Tomorrow's readings remind us that we are all sinners, towers falling on us, being slaughtered by Pilate in the Temple are the normal course of human existence, it is payment for sin. Ttony has a thoughtful piece on the return to prison of Jon Venables. Just to excite the wrath of our local paper, I feel immensely sorry for Venables - as well as Jamie Bulger and his poor mother. We are what we are, it must be horrendous for Venables to wake up every morning and see facing him in the mirror a hated child killer, carrying all the baggage of a corrupted childhood which lead up to murder, and the baggage which followed his conviction.

A wife murderer once gave me the most convincing arguement I've heard for capital punishment, "It would be merciful. Father, you wouldn't have live with the memories and the guilt day in day out".

We are what we are, what our parents, our childhood, our experiences have made us, they are inescapable, we can run away from them into drink, drugs or hedonism of one sought or another. We can pretend to ourselves we are something other than we are, that we are better than other sinners, that our sins are not that important. The whole message of Christianity is that all sin needs the sacrifice of Christ's blood. That alone we can do little about changing ourselves, we are weak and ineffective, it is only when we recognise that, that we can begin to grasp that God alone can set us free.

Say a prayer for all involved in Jamie Bulger's murder - may God heal them.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I thought they had broken their silence

I have a friends in the Middlesbrough diocese, they say Bp Drainey is good thing; likes his clergy and is plain speaking, so over a James's blog I was very pleased to read:
The Bishop of Middlesbrough has no intention of allowing schools in the Diocese of Middlesbrough to teach ‘how to use contraception’ or ‘explain how to access an abortion’.
but reading on it was the same old story, everything is subservient to the CES. It looks as if our heirarchy allowing women bishops in by the back door. Ms Stannard seems to have even more authority than any diocesan bishop or even the Archbishop of Westminster.

I am beginning to think I might have been foolish in not signing that petition.

Anyone want to run a sweepstake on when a Bishop will teach on this important issue? Maybe after the election?

Anger in the Lobby

I had an angry man on the phone this morning complaining about what I had recently written. He objected strongly to my use of the term "elements of the vociferous hedonistic gay lobby". He assured me several times he wasn't a member of the Labour Party.

By using the term I was trying to suggest there were plenty of "gay" people who are neither vociferous or hedonistic, nor are in the lobby. That there are actually people who had a same sex attraction who might say they were homosexual or had a homosexual attraction or curiosity but would refuse to use the identity of being "gay", in part because it suggests a certain lifestyle and in part has certain political connotations.

My parish has many single people. Some try to cope others are content with living lives on their own. Many have close friends, some share flats or houses with a particular friend, occasionally some define their friend as a "partner". It could be a business partner or any other form of partnership; I can't see the problem. Some might say they are "gay", I ask them if they believe what the Catholic Church teaches, they say "yes", they come to Mass, they go to confession, they pray, sometimes together; I can't see a problem. They support the Church they tell me about their brothers and sister, their nephews, their nieces, they regret they have never had children themselves; I feel sympathy. In the confessional they might tell me of the battle they have with their sexuality, sometimes of their defeats in this battle; I give absolution and a light penance, assure them of God's strength and often admire their extraordinary heroism and their great love of God and appreciation of his Grace. Are these "elements of the vociferous hedonistic gay lobby"? No, they are Catholics looking for salvation along with everyone else, bearing a very heavy cross. Often these men, occasionally women, have been distanced from the Church and have returned. Often they have misunderstood what the Church is saying and why, sometimes they have met deliberate cruelty and misunderstanding from priests, and are still faithful; that is heroism!

My caller this morning said I didn't know much about the Brighton "Gay" community, that could be true. I have never visited a "Gay" club, I try to avoid walking through the pinker area of Brighton, I am a little shocked when I see men or women kissing or fondling one another on the street, whatever their sexual orientation and I try not to be on the streets during "Pride" weekend. My caller just saw it all as being friendly and supportive and fun.

As a Catholic priest one tends to pick up the debris of peoples' lives and hear almost too much of their pain and suffering. I am not sure that my caller has done many funerals for young gay men who have died of a drugs overdoses or suicide. I haven't kept a tally and I suspect many don't have a priest at their funeral but there have been a number over the last 10 years, outside of the gay community I can remember only one funeral for a man under 35 years old. There is a larger number of parents who ask for Masses to be said for dead gay children, their lives are torn apart when their offspring have died through suicide or drugs or AIDS. Then of course there are curious young men, exploring their sexual orientation, who have gone into bars and clubs and have got or been gotten high on drugs or drink and found themselves in someone's bed and things have gone much, much further than they had intended. I knew of one young man who had claimed he became HIV positive after one single encounter, I heard he killed himself. One hears of men too, who try to sleep with a different partner each night, of teenagers passed around from one older "lover" to another. I could go on and on, but I suspect you get the taste. This is what I meant by hedonistic gay lobby and I haven't even touched on the various fetish sub-groups. Why is it a lobby? Because it makes money for Brighton: money speaks.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Petition Against Ed Balls' Sex Ed

The petition: Against Government-Led Sex Education in Catholic Schools has a thousand signatures, a large number I recognise as priests and prominent lay people.  In my post about it there are over 100 comments, they are still coming in, there would be more but some were direct criticisms of individual bishops or schools, so I dreleted them. I think this has become a useful forum that complements the petition, and many have gone from this blog directly to the petition itself, maybe to sign, maybe to look at who else has signed.

I am glad that my friend Fr John Boyle was willing to take my decision not to sign to task and to state why he felt under an obligation to do so, important, here at least, to have both sides of the arguement.  I disagree with him only on the wording of the wording of this petition, not on manifesting our concerns to the bishops. I am in total sympathy with the sentiments of the petition, but not with the words used. I have been avidly watching the numbers rise, because at least it demonstrates the sense of outrage of many, a thousand is a significant number of signatures.

Bishops are  the shepherds of the flock of Christ not hirelings. It is very sad that amongst those commenting here there are so many expressions of frustration, not only at the repeated failure of bishops to respond to letters expressing serious concerns but also the concerns themselves, the fact is that abortion "access" and contraception are available in our schools already. "Access" is one word however collusion to procure an abortion might actually be more accurate. If bishops allow it passively they are not simply obeying the law, they are colluding in sin, and allowing others to be led into sin. Millstones spring to mind.

I urge giving our bishops time for a response, because Mr Balls' bill would turn passive collusion in procuring an abortion into active support in procuring one, which is a very grave sin iundeed. It is something no bishop, no priest, no Catholic lay-person, parent or teacher could be party to in anyway. Even signing a form for a child to be given a place in such an educational system will challenge the consciences of at many priests. Increasingly the only option for many will be home-schooling.

There are a few comments from Catholic teachers who obviously recognise this fact, the most committed of our teachers will have to consider their futures very seriously. I am sure that the Bishops are organising delaying tactics in the House of Lords, with a likely May election they only need to hold out until the Easter recess for the bill to be lost. Our bishops are teachers, governors and sanctifiers of the Church before they are negotiators with the government. Most are rightly much loved, unfortunately so far they have failed to teach on these very important moral issues. The problem is our Bishops Conference structure; having a single spokes-Archbishop on Life issues and a spokes-bishop on schools allows others to negate their responisibilities. In each diocese, every bishop is Apostle and High Priest, he can't delegate it to other bishops, either collectively or individually.

What concerns me about many of the comments on this subject is their insular concern with the Church; abortion and the other issues are not just an evil for Catholics, they evil for everyone. The usurpation by the government of parental rights is a serious affront to justice  and human rights within our society, not just the Catholic environment, the same goes for the exultation of other relationships at the expense of marriage. An appeal to reason, a rejection of an untried "morality" makes Mr Balls' bill easily redraftable, under another government, in terms that would respect conscience and be acceptable to Catholics.

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...