Friday, April 30, 2010

Pastoral or State Visit?

Nothing has thrilled secularists more than the call by some Catholics for the Papal visit sto be downgraded from a state visit to a pastoral one.
That seems to misunderstand the importance of the Holy See on the world stage. Ms Pepinster gives some background to the FCC memorandum, usefully she recaps the cosying up to the Holy See by our government over the last eighteen years. Whilst secularists might be unable to see the increasing importance of faith on the world stage, that is not the position of most governments. The Holy See because of its non-partisan neutrality has become a useful channel for dialogue with those governments which we don't officially speak to. For example the Iranian embassy to the Holy See is its biggest, staff-wise, in the world. Diplomatic relations with the Vatican offer a back door to Europe without the political posturing that takes place ast the UN.
The discretion of the Holy See makes it such a useful meeting point for public enemies to privately communicate, even if it is through a third party.

Peter, Archbishop of Southwark

The Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff has been appointed to Southwark, Fr John Boyle has his CV etc.

The Archbishop, many would consider the voice of wisdom and experience in the hierarchy, will along with Vincent Nichols, will make for a strong episcopal presence in the UK's capital. To move an Archbishop is perhaps not normal but presumably shows the regard Rome has for London's second See. Also I think ++Vin and ++Pete will make a dream team complementing one another, certainly as far as the media are concerned. It also gives room for the appointment of a Welshman to Cardiff.
His appointment is interesting following the Ad Limina visit when Rome and the Holy Father were able to see and meet the whole hierarchy. It is perhaps significant that those much tipped for the appointment were not appointed, though that is often Rome's way.
I am sure that his appointment will be very welcome in Southwark.

Kerr on Newman

The English attitude to John Henry Cardinal Newman is a little different from that of our American cousins. The American Newman Society is staunchly Orthodox, its English version, does it still exist? was about dissent.
The Newman scholar Dr Ian Kerr in the Catholic Herald rebuts an article by John Cornwell which appeared in the New Statesman at Easter which presented Newman the Father of Liberalism.
Here is an extract on conscience so often misquoted and misunderstood:
Then there's the hoary old chestnut beloved of liberals that Newman "insisted... that a person's individual conscience was more crucial than Church authority" - whereas the reactionary Ratzinger insists that for Newman "Conscience meant an 'informed' conscience... instructed by, and obedient to, papal authority". Well, all Catholics have to believe in the primacy of conscience in the sense that, as St Thomas Aquinas pointed out, our membership of the Church rests on the conscientious conviction that the claims of the Church are true. If we cease to believe they are, then we have a duty in conscience to leave the Church. That is what Newman means when he says that "conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ".

But if we believe in the claims of the Church, then our conscience should tell us to listen to the teachings of the Church - "he who hears you hears me". After all, as Newman points out, our "sense of right and wrong... is so delicate, so fitful, so easily puzzled, obscured, perverted... so biassed by pride and passion" that "the Church, the Pope, the Hierarchy are, in the Divine purpose, the supply of an urgent demand". The liberal assumption that, when Newman famously said that he would toast the pope but he would toast conscience first, he was allowing for so-called "conscientious dissent" from Church teachings, is totally unfounded. All that Newman allows for is the possibility of disobeying a papal order ("a Pope is not infallible... in his commands") - and then only after "serious thought [and] prayer".

Thursday, April 29, 2010

CIEL Conference: Sounds good

James Macmillan will be speaking on Liturgical Music pre- and post-Vatican II at the annual CIEL One-day Conference on Saturday, 29 May at 2.30pm in St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory. Cost is £5.

There isan EF High Mass in the morning at 11 am celebrated by the Actor [Postulastor] for the cause of John Henry Newman, Fr Richard Duffield Cong. Orat., who will also speak at the Conference. The music promises to be superb.

This an event I would like to attend but Saturday is difficult and our wedding season begins on the 29th, James MacMillan always has something worthwhile to say.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beauty of the Liturgy at Ushaw

Here are some very beautiful photographs by Joseph Shaw of the recent LMS Conference at Ushaw. 
There is a press release below.

Between Monday 12 and Friday 16 April the Latin Mass Society (LMS) hosted its fifth national residential conference in four years to train priests in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The conference was held in Ushaw College, Durham, and twenty priests were trained.

This year, for the first time, the conference included separate tuition for laymen to become proficient MCs for the ceremonies of the Extraordinary Form. Ten laymen attended the course.

Among the clergy present were two young priests from the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, who had been sent by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, ex-Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. Archbishop Ranjith is actively reintroducing the Extraordinary Form into his diocese.

Apart from the expert small group tuition given by experienced priests, there were Latin classes and lectures, daily Lauds, Compline, Vespers, Rosary and Benediction. Each morning the college’s numerous side chapels were used by the priests to say their private Masses.

Traditional Rite liturgies were offered each day in the seminary’s magnificent St Cuthbert’s chapel and there were impressive opening and closing High Masses at which the Church’s treasury of plainchant and polyphony was heard.

At the conference dinner on the Thursday evening, a letter of support from Archbishop Ranjith was read out. The archbishop encouraged the LMS in its work of implementing the Motu Proprio and helping priests learn the Extraordinary Form of Mass and he congratulated the Society ‘in this beautiful undertaking in the name of the Church’s Tradition and orthodoxy which is our need and the need of the time’.

The LMS has already announced its next residential training conference to be held at Downside Abbey from Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 August. Full details are available from the LMS.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Former Head of the Papal Visit Team

Anjoum Noorani, 31, was the leader of the Papal Visit Team which drew up a document suggesting the Pope should launch his own range of “Benedict” condoms, open an abortion clinic and stay in a council flat in Bradford.

Mr Noorani, whose identity has until now remained secret, was moved to “other duties” after he gave authorisation for the memo to be sent to Downing Street and three Whitehall departments.
But Ma Pepinster who extolls her connections here claims there are "around six middle ranking officials were involved".
Until his reassignment  he was 'Head of Papal Visit Team' but apparently none of the other members of the team were Catholic. According to the Daily Mail Mr Noorani is "understood to be British Pakistani - but colleagues say he is not a Muslim".

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Break Down in Charity

There is a curious thing going on over a Mulier Fortis' Blog.
James Preece visited Blackfen with his wife and children, originally he had been invited to attend a training session for Catholic Voices in London, he then emailed Austen Ivereigh a few days before asking for details only then did he get a message from Mr Ivereigh saying that he was no longer required.
Mulier Fortis posted this two line email on her blog, then Mr Ivereigh posted this comment

I'm astonished that you should publish private correspondence between myself and James Preece; and that you should do so partially and incompletely. The fact that his email ends up on your site is precisely why he wasn't invited.
That would have been fair enough, one might be a little amazed at Mr Ivereigh's inability to comprehend why James might be upset and share the email with someone, one might fault his logic and wonder why James' sharing of this email meant he was dropped, has James a history of lacking confidentiality, if so why did Mr Ivereigh not explain that to James in his email? But Mr Ivereigh's comment continues in a very personal attack on Mac
Among your private vows, where there any that included respect, confidentiality, privacy or charity?
It really does concern me that any body in the Church should treat people with such contempt, such a lack of charity. I don't know if James received a fuller explanation of why he was picked up and then dropped by Catholic Voices, I would hope he was, but the way in which Mac is addressed is shocking and high handed, unfortunately it is all too often part of church culture, more often nowadays amongst lay apparatchiki than clerics.

At the heart of the present crisis in the Church is a break down of basic Christianity; this is what the world finds so distasteful in us, our failure in charity. Those who ignore complaints about child abuse share the same mentality as those who close parishes by DVD, those who are responsible for cover up and despise transparency demand respect, confidentiality and privacy under the guise of charity and lack charity themselves. This is vision of the Church which everyone should seek to consign to the past, it is the cause of problems, it can never be a resolution of them.
What was it St Paul said about gongs booming and a cymbals crashing?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vocations Sunday

I just received a link to this by email, the Monteverdi accompaniment makes this about the classiest vocations ad on the circuit. SORRY I can't get this link to work.

My email friend Fr Sean Coyle sent me a fascinating link to a story of a priest, Fr Kevin Mullins who is parish priest of Jurez, see this video: Juarez Drug Wars, he is evidently another of those good shepherds who despite threats and violence is faithful.
I connect these videos because they show the breadth and beauty of the priesthood.
The fresh faced seminarians of the Institute of Christ the King and the zealous pastor of Jurez, to be are both sources of inspiration.

May the Lord send us holy priest, and even holier bishops.

Silly Boy in the Foreign Office, what does it say about government competence?

I am sure you have seen the Foreign Office document, let's not get it out of proportion. It is amazing that it should have been passed to senior members of the committee, nevertheless it was written by a silly boy who has now been moved. That could be the end of the story but it is not, it should raise lots more questions.

The problem is not so much the insult to Catholics and the Pope, that is easily forgiven but that it does indicate a certain lack of seriousness in the Foreign Office, a certain lack of professionalism, an ignorance of the subject, that is what worries me. I can cope with puerlity but I don't think we should put up with ignorance when dealing with foreign powers, even if that foreign power is a pussey cat like the Holy See. Is such ignorance and unprofessionalism present when dealing with other powers? The silly boy in the Foreign Office seems ignorant of the what the Pope is actually doing, unaware of the Church's help to AIDS victims for example. Innocent on SMSB expands the list and takes similar stand.

At this election time we should be asking: does David Miliband the Foreign Secretary have a grip on his department? Is it fit for purpose?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jack Valero in The Times

Jack Valero has an interesting piece in todays Times, Abuse isn't just a Catholic Problem, the follow is an extract, so read the whole thing.

But I have another feeling, which is almost as strong; namely, that sexual abuse of minors is not a “Catholic” problem, and that the blowtorch directed at the Church on this issue reveals something unhealthy about society around us. What had begun to be talked of in the 60’s has become a problem so endemic that it seems at times too big to be tackled; and rather than tackling it, we have created a surrogate – the Catholic Church – to take the flack which belongs more widely.

The statistics are scattered about, but not hard to find. Professor Charol Shakeshaft of Virginia University studied 290,000 cases of alleged abuse in the ten years between 1991 and 2000. Out of a sample of 225 teachers who admitted to sexually abusing a pupil, not a single case was reported to the authorities.
Yet the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study of 2004 – independent auditors commissioned by the US bishops -- found 10,667 people who made allegations about sexual abuse by priests and religious in the 52 years between 1950 and 2002 (roughly 200 a year compared to the 29,000 a year in public schools). The allegations were made against 4,392 priests, of whom 56 per cent were accused of only a single incident, some of which were never proved.
As a result of the Dallas norms introduced by the US Catholic Church in 2002, last year the entire Catholic Church in the US – which has 65m members – received six contemporary allegations of clerical abuse. In the UK, where the Nolan Report of 2001 led to strict guidelines, the Catholic Church is unique among institutions for making public each year the number of allegations of sexual abuse by priests. For 2007 the number of such contemporary allegations was precisely four for the whole of the UK – in a Church of about 5m.

Greg The Anti-Pope

I had not intended to comment on the appointment of Greg Pope as deputy head of the CES but I have had a number of emails about it, so it is easier to reply here than to the individuals who have written to me.

It strikes me as if we are back to Kung and his challenge to the authority of Vicar of Christ. His understanding of "Catholic" is that it is "universal" in the sense of "all embracing". Therefore it is non-credal, without a specific moral stance, ultimately it becomes an empty humanism. With the appointment of Mr Pope it seems that this is precisely the understanding of "Catholic" that the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales is presenting. I would love to be proved wrong, because it affects the very notion of "communio".

If the CES feels able to appoint Mr Pope, then apart from being formally in communion with the Catholic Church and the successor of St Peter what other signs of communion are there?

I am just asking, but the problem is that his appointment increasingly forces the question of what is meant when those who sanctioned his appointment define themselves as "Catholic". Ultimately, as with sexual predation on children, the issue revolves around the central issue of who can ordinary Catholics trust, which is at the heart of what we understand by communion.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Party Leaders welcome Papal visit

Video of a bit of last night's tri-party debate.

The Amorality of the Church

Greg Pope! I am not even going to go there. God preserve us!
One of the big problems with Catholicism in England and Wales both in the popular mind but in the mind of many Catholics is that it is amoral.

The old canard of the Catholic committing adultery or getting drunk on Friday, confesssing on Saturday, communicating on Sunday seems still to exist, except no-one bothers with the confessing anymore.
Far from being life changing, faith for most Catholics touches only the edges of their lives. Despite the bishops issuing statements about the election most Catholics will not vote according to their faith but along very secular lines.

The Church's teaching on reproduction, on sexuality and sexual activity, on bio ethics drfts over most people. Abortion, at least in its later stages, certainly not the morning after pill, might cause a little hesitation but not much more than that for most Catholics. If you polled most Catholics they would see no problems with any of the equalities legislation which the Pope criticised at the ad limina visit of our bishops, as being contrary to the Natural Law. Indeed most would see a lot to criticise in what they understand to be the Church's teaching.

Those who teach what the Church teaches are classed as fundamentalist, reactionary, traditionalist, extreme.
The whole sad, sorry saga of child abuse underlines the assumption that we Catholics are essentially hypocritical, that we and certainly our bishops condone if not the abuse itself at least its cover-up. We are not to be trusted and seem to be seen not as a force for good in society but for evil.  Indeed the very wickedness of the Catholic Church is part of the vocabulary of secularists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Fry.

Those touched by Kungian global ethics embrace the agenda of fairtrade, of a secularist approach to human rights and of green politics. It seems to owe more to bourgeois leftism than anything Catholic.

Those who vist the Catholic blogosphere con themselves that Catholic ethics are taken seriously by anyone beyond it but look at the evidence: where are the non-contracepting Catholic families? The CES hardly seems committed to Catholic ethical teaching. Only Archbishop Smith seems to speak to the media on ethical issues. The Tablet with its screwed up dissenting ethical teaching is sold at the back of most cathedrals and churches.

It is not just issues of bio/sexual ethics that Catholics appear light on but simple issues of honesty, like belonging to a Church which teaches one thing but its members and even some of its leaders appear simply do not hold some of its basic tenets, the reception of Tony Blair into the church for example. The ethical teaching of the Gospel - Jesus' words on remarriage, on the commandments, on our responsibility to the poor and stranger, even on personal integrity, and repentance - are not uppermost in our minds. Indeed much of what has passed for moral theology over the last 40 years has tended to obscure the face of Christ.

Saint George Pray for Us

Properly speaking Saint George is "the Protector of the Realm of England". Let us pray that he protects Holy Church and our society from the many dragons that assail us!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on Child Abuse

Our Bishops summon us the public penance and prayer, in the following statement issued today.
Child abuse in the Catholic Church has been such a focus of public attention recently, that we, the Bishops of England and Wales, wish to address this issue directly and unambiguously.

Catholics are members of a single universal body. These terrible crimes, and the inadequate response by some church leaders, grieve us all.

Our first thoughts are for all who have suffered from the horror of these crimes, which inflict such severe and lasting wounds. They are uppermost in our prayer. The distress we feel at what has happened is nothing in comparison with the suffering of those who have been abused.

The criminal offences committed by some priests and religious are a profound scandal. They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God. Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins. They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.

We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed. We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses.

Furthermore, we recognise the failings of some Bishops and Religious leaders in handling these matters. These, too, are aspects of this tragedy which we deeply regret and for which we apologise. The procedures now in place in our countries highlight what should have been done straightaway in the past. Full co-operation with statutory bodies is essential.

Now, we believe, is a time for deep prayer of reparation and atonement. We invite Catholics in England and Wales to make the four Fridays in May 2010 special days of prayer. Even when we are lost for words, we can place ourselves in silent prayer. We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication. We pray for all who have suffered abuse; for those who mishandled these matters and added to the suffering of those affected. From this prayer we do not exclude those who have committed these sins of abuse. They have a journey of repentance and atonement to make.

We pray also for Pope Benedict, whose wise and courageous leadership is so important for the Church at this time.

In our dioceses we will continue to make every effort, working with our safeguarding commissions, to identify any further steps we can take, especially concerning the care of those who have suffered abuse, including anyone yet to come forward with their account of their painful and wounded past. We are committed to continuing the work of safeguarding, and are determined to maintain openness and transparency, in close co-operation with the statutory authorities in our countries. We thank the thousands who give generously of their time and effort to the Church’s safeguarding work in our parishes and dioceses.

We commit ourselves afresh to the service of children, young people and the vulnerable in our communities. We have faith and hope in the future. The Catholic Church abounds in people, both laity, religious and clergy, of great dedication, energy and generosity who serve in parishes, schools, youth ventures and the care of elderly people. We also thank them. The Holy Spirit guides us to sorrow and repentance, to a firm determination to better ways, and to a renewal of love and generosity towards all in need.

An Open Letter to Hans Kung

George Wiegel writes an open letter the Professor Hans Kung in response to Kung's letter to the bishops of the world to reject the authority of Pope Benedict.
What is so apparent in Kung's writings is that he is not a very nice man, one cannot help compare his self serving publicity seeking to the self effacing "worker in the Lod's vineyard".
Who would you prefer to have tea with, Ratzinger or Kung?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pope Benedict's Lackey

Sorry, I've not had time to post much. I blame old Hannibal Bugnini. It is trying to keep the 50 days of feasting he ordered to mark Easter, I can tell you, I'm flagging! It is so much easier in the Usus Antiquior, a week of champagne and truffles and then everything was "post" Easter until Ascension and then the glorious Octave of Pentecost. It was more human, more manageable. We can lenthy periods of penance but not feasting.
Even so, I had the pleasure of having dinner  tonight with a priest -and some of our younger adults who happened to be in the Presbytery tonight- who is struggling to bring back into the mainstream Church an uber-liberal community, who seem to canonise their own saints and devise their own liturgies. I was amused to hear one member of this community wrote to one of the clergy team who look after their parish when he corrected a liturgical abuse and called him "Pope Benedict's lackey"! It would be a good name for a blog, wouldn't it? I really do admire priests who put up with that type of nonsense week after week after week.

On my day off, on Monday, I was out again eating with another priest of our diocese who has just discovered the Old Rite, the Mass and the Office, it was just so good hearing how both enrich his priesthood.
It is good being a priest you know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vote Clegg get Evan Harris

I am anxious about the ideology of Nick Cleggs' atheism, we know about his opposition to "faith" schools, though I am told his children attend them, his Spanish wife is at least a social Catholic. The problem is if vote Clegg you get Harris.
Dr Evan Harris, nicknamed Dr Death, will be well worth having a look at if you are a mainstream Catholic tempted to even think about voting Liberal Democrat. How well does a party that can accomodate Harris and his ilk sit with the Catholic vote?

Appreciations of the Pope

Fr Sean highlights a significant short article by Adrian Pabst, lecturer in politics at the University of Kent, in the Guardian on the thought and effect of Benedict XVI.
Pabst contrasts the superficial liberalism of Kung with he terms the romanticism of the Pope.
Asia News has an interesting appreciation of the Pope's first five years by Bernardo Ceverellera as well. It is interesting to compare the too articles, both for example, the Regensberg addrerss is presented as one of the Pope's success stories.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Still struggling with Castrillon Hoyos' letter and the response

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos' letter and Fr Lombardi's response is still troubling me.
 Obviously, we all want to root out the "filth that has infiltrated the Church", the Pope has made war on the sexual abuse of children by clergy and its cover-up. He has stressed that in this matter the members of the Church, including bishops, are not above the law and should co-operate with the civil authorities. Because of the horrific nature of such abuse and the long term affects of it on the victim, few could argue against such a stance with this particular crime.

My problem is my problem is the precedent it sets in the relationship of the priest and the Church with the law of the state, how far should our co-operation extend?

In the previous post most people have said that a priest should reveal those things told to him outside the confessional, as good Catholics they accept the inviolability of the "seal of Confession" but in today's secular society the Confessional is hardly likely to constitute an acceptable legal defense in a civil court.

In my experience spiritual direction is often linked to Confession, an hour long conversation may well lead into Confession. If someone has committed a serious sin as a priest my intention is to bring him to repentance. In some cases that might be my intention but necessarily the intention of person who has come to talk to me, in some cases this might be the object of a series of conversations lasting over a number of weeks and Confession my take place in the place where we are talking.

Therefore the problem for a priest is: what constitutes both confession and the confessional?

What does a priest do when, for example, an airline pilot wants to talk about his relationship problems and in the conversation he then reveals he has drink problem, or a doctor reveals his drug problem, both of which place others at serious risk? What does he do when the daughter of an elderly confused father tells him she gets so frustrated she hits him regularly or locks the door of the house and leaves him sitting in his own filth for hours on end? On a more prosaic level what does he do when someone tells him about benefit or tax fraud.

The implication of what the Pope has been saying is that the priest should report these occurrences, "The Church is not above the law". In the past a priest would want to lead the sinner to repentance and to get them to resolve the situation themselves.

Looking at the worst case situations: in Uganda the law says homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by imprisonment, what does a priest in Uganda do when someone tells him he is engaged in homosexual sex? In China where underground Christianity itself is illegal, what is bishop or priest to do?

In England, a Catholic teachers might in the future tell a priest that they have denied a child her right to access contraceptive or abortion services, would he be expected to report the teacher?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos' Letter

I have been struggling with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos' letter to the French Bishop Pierre Pican that said,
"You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."
Bishop Pican received a 3 month prison sentence rather than denounce one of his priests for molesting a child. This took place in 2001. Father Lombardi has distanced the Holy See from the Cardinals remarks, saying this why it was necessary that that year, 2001, such cases were removed from the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Clergy, of which the Cardinal was head, to the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger.

For many bishops and priests prior to 2001 the Cardinal's words would have been seen as quite normal, a decade on things have changed dramatically. The change has brought about a drastic alteration in the relationship between bishops and priests, and consequently between priest and his people. In the past the relationship was indeed that of "father and son", in the last 10 years it has moved in many instances to employer and employee. Consequently there is a distancing between priests and their bishop, to some extant a breakdown in trust.. In the past bishops saw themselves as having a profound spiritual relationship with their priests, conversations were in the best situations the same as those with one's spititual director, which had at its root the confidentiality of the confessional.
The bishop, and priests too, were the keepers of secrets. The bishop would see his role to advise, even to command in the name of obedience but what he would not do was to break confidences or act any way that might detract from someone's character.

Nowadays a priest who is told by about child abuse, at least outside of confession, would be expected to report the offence himself, which means few people would consider admitting the offence. In the past both in the confessional, and outside of it, he, ideally, would have advised the victim to report the offence and the perpetrator to seek help, even to turn himself in but rarely would he have seen himself as taking any positive action that might betray confidentiality. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Million Prayers for the Pope

On the 83rd birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, April 16, 2010, The American  Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) announced that the Easter Prayer Campaign for the Pope reached the goal of one million prayers.
This campaign was started in response Archbishop Dolan's request for prayers on Palm Sunday.
 The campaign continues until Pentecost so ....

CLICK HERE and let's start praying this side of the pond too.

Happy Birthday Holy Father

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pope: Penance is Grace

Radio Vatican has this account of the Popes sermon to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission:
Speaking without a prepared text, the Holy Father said that in modern times we have seen theorized an idea of man according to which human being would be, “free, autonomous, and nothing else.”

This supposed freedom from everything, including freedom from the duty of obedience to God, “Is a lie,” said Pope Benedict, a falsehood regarding the basic structure of human being – about the way women and men are made to be, “because,” he continued, “human being does not exist on its own, nor does it exist for itself.”

The Pope said it is a political and practical falsehood, as well, because cooperation and sharing of freedoms is a necessary part of social life – and if God does not exist – if He is not a point of reference really accessible to human being, then only prevailing opinion remains and it becomes the final arbiter of all things.

Citing the Nazi and Communist regimes of the 20th century as examples, Pope Benedict said such dictatorships can never accept the notion of a God who is above ideological power – and he also stressed that in the present, there are subtle forms of dictatorship like that of a radical conformism, which can lead to subtle and not-so subtle aggression toward the Church.

The Holy Father also stressed that for Christians, true obedience to God depends on our truly knowing Him, and he warned against the danger of using “obedience to God” as a pretext for following our own desires.
“We have,” he said, “a certain fear of speaking about eternal life.”

“We talk of things that are useful to the world,” continued Pope Benedict, “we show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, but we do not dare say that the end of the world and the goal of Christianity is eternal life – and that the criteria of life in this world come from the goal – this we dare not say.”

We must rather have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life, that eternal life is real life and that from this real life comes the light that illuminates this world as well.

The Pope noted that, when we look at things this way, penitence is a grace – even though of late we have sought to avoid this word, too.

Now, under the attacks of the world, which speak to us of our sins, we see that to be able to do penance is a grace – and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed.

The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation – this pain is grace, because it is renewal – it is the work of the Divine Mercy.

Pope Benedict concluded his homily with a prayer that our lives might become true life, eternal life, love and truth.

Archbishop considering suing The Times: let's support him

The Catholic Herald says the Archbishop Vincent Nicholls is considering taking legal action against Murdoch's Times.
The paper alleged that the Archbishop "protected" a priest who abused children at a Benedictine school in west London - even though, as then Archbishop of Birmingham, he had no involvement in the case.
I for one will send the Archbishop, as generous a cheque as I can afford towards his legal costs if it comes to court. In this media frenzy it is about time someone called to account irresponsible journalists.
Why not pledge to support him yourself in the comments box? Don't send anything, just make a pledge as an act of support.

Hitler Downfall - Dawkins Edition

Just in case you haven't seen it click here

Two visions of atheism

What has happened to atheism? It used to present the human person as a colossus straddling the universe. It saw man as having surpassed or outgrown God. Man was capable of making a veritable paradise on earth. The Man of the past was good, altruistic, self denying, he was heroic. The atheist vision of Man used to be that he was Divine!
Then came Dawkins.
Now, the atheist sees him as self seeking, needing to be restrained from his innate selfishness by legislation and external coercion. Now he cowers in dark shadow.

The first is vision enthused by Christianity, it presents Man as redeemed, the second is post-Christian, it seems a vision of Man stuck in Original Sin.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A reason for not voting Lib Dem

The candidate for this constituency is Berni (Bernardette) Mullam.

Page 37 of the Lib Dem manifesto– a section entitled ‘Freeing schools for excellence’ illustrates why Catholics should not vote for her, apart those important anti-Life Lib Dem policies.

“We will ensure that all faith schools develop an inclusive admissions policy and end unfair discrimination on grounds of faith …”
Thus we will be robbed of our schools which Catholics founded and paid for over generations. Catholic parents are robbed of the right to educate their children in an environment they choose.

Talk about illiberal Liberals! Its worst than Labour's education policies for us!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Priestly Celibacy: The Tradition

As the superficial and liberal seem to want to blame celibacy for not merely a shortage of vocations but now for child abuse, it is important that we remember what the Fathers of the Church understood the Apostolic Tradition to have been.
It is not the mere invention of the Middle Ages. I suspect the problem is we have failed to glory in it and have felt a little embarassed by it, its those Liberals again!

Pontifical Dalmatic: It is about service

I am a great believer in getting bishops to wear as much as possible, especially the pontifical dalmatic, which should be worn under the chasuble. It reminds bishops they are also deacons, servants of the Church. It certainly should be worn for the ordinations of deacons.
I suspect originally the Dalmatic was an episcopal vestment, and was "given" to deacons as a sign of their sharing in the bishop's role as servant. In the East the sakkos, a dalmatic, is the main vestment of the Bishop.
Bishops wear it in greater solemnities, under the chasuble, or even as a principle vestment in consecrating an altar or the washing of feet. In this last case, as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum 301 indicates, the bishop takes off the mitre and chasuble but not the dalmatic. It is desired to place emphasis not so much on the fullness of the priesthood as the character of service of the episcopal ministry. In the case of cardinal deacons vesting with the dalmatic, it serves to underline their character as servants, strict collaborators of the Roman Pontiff even in the liturgy. The dalmatic is a sign of service, dedication to the Bishop and others. But even when the bishop wears the dalmatic it is to serve: whether in the washing of feet, or in special liturgical service performed by bishops--cardinal deacons--in the presence of the Roman Pontiff.
So, encourage your bishop to truly be a servant, get him a pontifical dalmatic to remind him he is not just hierarch!

Monday, April 12, 2010

We know the power of Evil: We know the power of the Resurrection

I was hearten to find this letter from the Bishops of the Holy Land.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!

We, the Heads of the Churches in the Land of the Holy One, share with you the Good News of the life of our local Christian Church as one Body in Christ who live the resurrection faith every day. Our message to you, whether near or far, is one of hope, encouragement and perseverance. We know the struggles so many Christians face, both here in this land and elsewhere in the world.

We know the power of despair. We know the power of evil. We know the power of the “principalities and powers” of this world which promote agendas of division and oppression to bring harm to God’s people throughout God’s creation. We, with you, know the power of sin and death.

We also know the power of the Resurrection. We know the power of God to bring hope out of despair. We know the power of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, to use forgiveness and love to conquer evil. We know the power of God in Christ to confront those same “principalities and powers” to promote faith, mutual respect, compassion and courage to speak the truth to benefit all of God’s people. We know the power of the forgiveness of sins to redeem relationships in families and among the family of nations. We know the power of the gift of eternal life for all who believe.

Christians, in all generations, face many challenges. Our current generation is no different than those who have gone before us. We, with you, have great responsibilities and many obstacles. The Christian Church faces struggles here in this land and yet we continue to be full of hope that we are at one and the same time the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection. Our faith is not in the power of death, but in the power of the sacrificial life of Christ.

We encourage your prayers for us and all your Christian brothers and sisters, the “living stones” of all the Christian traditions, here in the Land of the Holy One. We ask you to pray for us in our struggle for justice, peace and reconciliation; so that when Jesus returns he will not again weep for Jerusalem but share in our joy of unity, respect and love for all people in the Holy Land. Be assured, at the same time, of our prayers for you.

May the one and living God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless, preserve and keep you, now and always. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!

+ Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch
+ Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch
+ Patriarch Torkom I Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+ Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch
+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch
+ Archbishop Bishop Jules Zerey, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch
+ Archbishop Abouna Matthias,Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch
+ Archbishop Paul Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarch
+ Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
+ Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
+ Fr. Rafael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch


Today the Vaican Information Service issued  the current guidelines

VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) - Today the Vatican website, under the section called "Focus", published a guide to understanding the procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sexual abuse allegations towards minors.

Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations

The applicable law is the Motu Proprio "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela" (MP SST) of 30 April 2001 together with the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This is an introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists.

A: Preliminary Procedures

The local diocese investigates every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.

If the allegation has a semblance of truth the case is referred to the CDF. The local bishop transmits all the necessary information to the CDF and expresses his opinion on the procedures to be followed and the measures to be adopted in the short and long term.

Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.

During the preliminary stage and until the case is concluded, the bishop may impose precautionary measures to safeguard the community, including the victims. Indeed, the local bishop always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese. This is part of his ordinary authority, which he is encouraged to exercise to whatever extent is necessary to assure that children do not come to harm, and this power can be exercised at the bishop's discretion before, during and after any canonical proceeding.

B: Procedures authorized by the CDF
The CDF studies the case presented by the local bishop and also asks for supplementary information where necessary.

The CDF has a number of options:
B1 Penal Processes
The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct a judicial penal trial before a local Church tribunal. Any appeal in such cases would eventually be lodged to a tribunal of the CDF.
The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct an administrative penal process before a delegate of the local bishop assisted by two assessors. The accused priest is called to respond to the accusations and to review the evidence. The accused has a right to present recourse to the CDF against a decree condemning him to a canonical penalty. The decision of the Cardinals members of the CDF is final.
Should the cleric be judged guilty, both judicial and administrative penal processes can condemn a cleric to a number of canonical penalties, the most serious of which is dismissal from the clerical state. The question of damages can also be treated directly during these procedures.

B2 Cases referred directly to the Holy Father
In very grave cases where a civil criminal trial has found the cleric guilty of sexual abuse of minors or where the evidence is overwhelming, the CDF may choose to take the case directly to the Holy Father with the request that the Pope issue a decree of "ex officio" dismissal from the clerical state. There is no canonical remedy against such a papal decree.
The CDF also brings to the Holy Father requests by accused priests who, cognizant of their crimes, ask to be dispensed from the obligation of the priesthood and want to return to the lay state. The Holy Father grants these requests for the good of the Church ("pro bono Ecclesiae").

B3 Disciplinary Measures
In cases where the accused priest has admitted to his crimes and has accepted to live a life of prayer and penance, the CDF authorizes the local bishop to issue a decree prohibiting or restricting the public ministry of such a priest. Such decrees are imposed through a penal precept which would entail a canonical penalty for a violation of the conditions of the decree, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state. Administrative recourse to the CDF is possible against such decrees. The decision of the CDF is final.

C. Revision of MP SST
For some time the CDF has undertaken a revision of some of the articles of "Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela", in order to update the said Motu Proprio of 2001 in the light of special faculties granted to the CDF by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The proposed modifications under discussion will not change the above-mentioned procedures (A, B1-B3).

New Rules

New laws governing sex abuse within the Church could be issued soon according to this video.
The problem with any Church Law is will priests and bishops obey it? The answer can be gauged by their obedience Liturgical Law. Fr Hunwicke has an interesting comparison here.

I think on the whole, as unpleasant as all this crisis is, it will underline the need for Law within the Church and proper procedures. Bishops or even Bishop's Conferences cannot make up the rules on their own without regard for Peter.

"The Good of the Universal Church"

Another letter dredged up to damage the Pope from 1985 is being presented as him trying to cover-up a paedophile priest.
After having his ministery restricted; forbidden to wear clerical dress, to say Mass publically, to preach, to hear Confessions, to present himself as a priest, by his bishop, Fr Stephen Kiesle asked to be released from his obligation of celibacy, his obligation to say the Divine Office and his obligation of obedience to the his Bishop and his subjection to those parts od Canon Law relating to clerics, the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote urging caution for, “the good of the universal Church”.
Priests can be "laicised" or "defrocked" for two reasons:
  1. As a punishment for grave crimes, in which case it is a degradation. In which case the Bishop applies for the individuals dismissal.
  2. As a privelege, for those who wish wish to remain in good standing with the Church, eg those who wish to marry. In which case the individual applies through his Bishop.
Once a priest is reduced to the lay state a bishop has no more authority over him than he does over any other lay person. He cannot restrict his movement, to another part of the country where he would be unknown, or restrict his involvement with secular organisations, such as youth groups or schools, neither can a bishop order to him to undergo therapy, or to co-operate with an ecclesiastical trial. In the Kiesle case granting his petition for laicisation would have placed him not only outside of the bishop's jurisdiction but also given him the opportunity of moving out of the jurisdiction of the civil authorities who were aware of his crimes, which were in the Oakland area in the public domain.

Thus the phrase for "the good of the universal Church" far from being a dereliction of duty and cover-up on the part of the future Pope, as so many secular commentators have suggested, is the complete opposite. As others have pointed out this letter appears to be a "form" letter but I would suggest it shows the wisdom of the Church's caution in washing its hand of sinful priests. The "good of the Universal Church", is not always the safest or easiest option for the Church.

If you haven't done so read Phil Lawlor on this case.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Under the Roman Sky

A new film about Pius XII:
LuxVide examined Pius II’s beatification documents and his relationship with Nazism, taking part in the heated debates that shed new light on Pope Pacelli’s pontificate, gathering evidence on the plan to kidnap the Pope during the German occupation of Rome. Everything comes together with great intensity in this dramatic story that retraces history with passages of untold truths. Even among the Nazi officers, there were those who opposed such savagery and, thus, under the Roman sky, both the saved and the lost, the victims and the executioners, shout the Pope’s cry with their lives: Nothing is lost with peace. Everything may be lost by war.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Христос Воскрес

At an Easter football match in Moscow fans chant, "Христос Воскрес" Christ is Risen!
Creative Minority

Friday, April 09, 2010

153 Fish!

Today's Gospel in the Ordinary Form is the post-resurrection miraculous draft of fishes. Peter hauls ashore One hundred and fifty three of them. Canterbury Tales indulges in a bit of patristic numerology to answer the question, "Why did St. John record the exact number?"

St. Augustine rightly observed its significance. 153 is the triangular of 17. That means that if you add all the numbers decreasing from 17, you get 153. That is to say, 17 + 16 + 15 + 14 +13 + 12 + 10 + ... + 1 = 153.

What is the significance of the number 17? The number was a sign. St. John has a special love for the number 17. The 12 extra baskets of bread from the five barley loaves adds up to 17. (St. Augustine said that it represented the gifts of the Old and New Covenant - the Ten Commandments and the Sevenfold Spirit.)

Seventeen is also the age at which Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery (Gen 37:2) and the Patriarch lived in Egypt for seventeen years (Gen 47:28). The Book of Acts lists seventeen nations present for Pentecost (Acts 2:7-11). Seventeen seems to be number of the nations, just as seventy also serves as the number of the nations (cf. Gen 10).

10 x 7 = 70
10 + 7 = 17
Peter's catch of 153 seems to indicate the superabundance of the ingathering of the nations. A sort of "wink wink" for the reader who is in the know.

153 also is a "magic number." Not only is it the triangular of 17, the Pythagoreans believed the number to be unique. 153 is the sum of the cubes of its own digits (1x1x1 + 5x5x5 + 3x3x3 = 153).

Lombardi: For the sake of the Truth

Amidst the rather silly defensive statements made by Roman clergy, Fr Lombardi has issued a statement that seems to reflect the compassion which is expressed in the Pope's letter to Irish Catholics and the other statements the Holy Father has issued on clergy abuse of children.
Read it here on Chiesa


After the French Bishops had set an example and written a public letter of support to the Holy Father in an "Appel a la Verite" French intellectuals have made a public declation of support of him too.
So what about our intellectuals, something for the Catholic Union to organise? Now is the time to stick a few heads above the parapet.
I mean if the French can do it ....
See Andrew Cusack

Thursday, April 08, 2010

New Church for L'Aquila

Fr Z has this picture of a planned church for L’Aquila, the city hit by an earthquake last year. Everyone on his blog is being unkind about it but I rather like it, admittedly not as a church, but as a piece of architecture it is incredibly exciting, it makes our modern English churches that are designed for eay conversion into local supermarkets look excruciatingly dull.s
For the architect it will be a signature piece, and people will flock to the city to admire this stunning work.
The problem is that choosing an eccentric architectural style the bishop makes concrete the "hermeneutic of rupture". It very deliberately turns its back on two thousand years of tradition and contradicts what ordinary Catholics recognise as ecclesiastical architecture.
A Church building itself is supposed to signify Christ, therefore the architect has to restrain his cleverness, in the sense of  "I must decrease He must increase". The problem with modern church architecture is the same as the problem with modern liturgy and modern theology, it is intensely personalistic

He Appeared to Simon

In today's Gospel the disciples return from Emmaus to Jerusalem to tell of their encounter with the risen Lord, they are told he has appeared to Simon, and he appears again.
Part of the Easterday Papal Liturgy is the opening of the icon of the Saviour before the Pope. The role of the Pope is the witness to the Risen Christ, pray for him that he might strengthen the brethren.

Another of Petar Zrinjski's videos.  

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


The report of the paedophile scandals are certainly being heavily massaged by the media but they are real scandals, they point to the filth that is in the Church. One of the biggest pieces of filth are sins of Marcial Maciel Degollado. Jason Berry piece on how far this corruption reached truly is shocking.
I suspect that neither the New York nor London Times will push Berry's arguement because Pope Benedict is obviously the broom that has swept this piece of filth out of the Church.
Father Tim has a very good post on this story, in which he reminds us that the corruption of the Borgias is still present in the God's Church.

The Church is in constant need of reform, Pope Benedict is the great reformer. As a priest it strikes me that reforming the clergy is crucial. Priests and Bishops must become Christ's men, the reform of the liturgy is central to the reform of the clergy. I don't think we priests are bad, most are pretty saintly, but I think as we have seen in the Irish scandals Bishops (and priests) seem more concerned about protecting the institution they have created rather than the proclaiming Christ. The great problem with Liberalism is that it is so Churchy, it sees the Church in sociological terms, at best; at worst, as in the case of Maciel, it becomes a power base, in both cases it is Christless Church, where the priest really preaches himself. Ultimately it is a dethroning of God, violation of the First Commandment: "Nuestro Padre", the Legionaries called Maciel and he encouraged it, is the worst example but it is pretty bad when Father invents his own doctrines and liturgies.

Christ has to be everything to a priest, serving Christ has to be central, bringing men and women to Christ has to be our very life, our nourishment, our oxygen. The Year for Priests has focussed on deepening priestly spirituality but it is the Liturgy that is crucial in the Benedictine reform. From a correct understanding of the Liturgy springs orthodoxy and asceticism.

I think we are beginning to see a secular led Reform in the Church. I am quite sure some of the attacks are almost Satanic but through it God is calling for exactly what the Pope is working for: a reform of the Liturgy and of the priesthood and of the whole Church. God hates hypocrisy as much as the NYT and the secular media feign to do so, but it is the Pope's reforms that will eventually bring about the change.

God Bless Our Pope!

Freedom has replaced slavery

The unimaginable has happened, that which is only perceivable by Faith: Life has Triumphed over Death, Weakness has conquered Strength, Love is victor over Hatred.
The Resurrection has changed everything, the whole world is different, mankind is changed, the material world has changed. Nothing is the same or ever can be the same!
Obedience to God has supplanted disobedience, self-sacrifice crushes self-centredness. The old man is replaced by the new.
Grace has crushed selfishness. The prison of original sin has been destroyed Man is free of his selfish gene, able to live for others. Freedom has replaced slavery.

p.s. I hope you are still partying out there!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PSHE Clause Scrapped!

In the first bit of horse trading in the lead up to the Gemeral Election, the Government have agreed to delete their clauses on Personal, Social Health and Economic education (PSHE) contained in their Children, Schools and Families Bill.

see John Smeaton
I can't help thinking that whilst we on the blogosphere expressed anxiety about this, it was an issue that our bishops were remarkably cool about. One can only surmise that they knew this would happen, which most probably says a lot for their political acumen, yet unfortunately it will leave the Church open to charges by her critics that strings have been pulled behind the scenes.

Baroque Easter Joy!



Monday, April 05, 2010

Rocco Buttiglione on the Today Programme

Professor Rocco Buttiglione, president of the Italian Christian Democratic Party did his best to speak on the Today Programme, it was met in typical BBC style, listen here.
Signor Buttiglione may well have read this article by Massimo Introvigne.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Christus Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia


Rain forced us to have the pascal fire on the church steps, at the second Lumen Christi the candle went out so we had to go back to the fire to relight it.

I know it is not strictly rubrical but here we keep the electric lights off until the offertory, call me an old reactionary, but I don't consider "the electricity"liturgical. So the Exultet, the readings are done in the light that has come from the Paschal Candle. At the Gloria the Big Six are lit and the candles are lit on the altars.
I didn't quitye know what to do now we have moved the font back to the rear of the church. We processed down to baptistry, I invited the faithful to follow on so they where gathered around, the font was blessed and we renewed our baptismal promises there and I threw vast quantities of baptismal everywhere and processed around the church sprinkling everyone more or less individually during the Vidi Aquam.

The choir was on good form, we decided to sing the graduals in place of the responsorial psalms, which worked well. They are getting really quite good at chant.

Despite it being a wet and foul night, again the numbers were noticeably up on previous years. I'll be interested hear about the rest of the world, I had a few emails from different parts of Ireland, who said the church's were unusually full this year

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...