Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Papal Visit: a wasted opportunity?

At Pentecost we took a collection for the Papal Visit and received well over our levy of a few hundred pounds, anfd handed out the flyers or were they flimsy prayer cards? We put up the poster asking for people to give generously at Pentecost. Apart from the request for money that is all we have heard from Eccleston Square.
The exam season is underway, so there will be little possibility of much preparation or catechesis in our schools. The holiday season is beginning, so people are already starting to go away on holiday, parishes are winding down.

The high point of the visit  is the beatification of Newman, so far nothing has been issued to encourage an English cultus or even knowledge of the great theologian.

It has been announced the events of the visit will be all ticket affairs, there is this website: and that is it!
At least as far as I can see.

The rest has been left to Tatchell, Dawkins and Hitchens, along with those silly boys in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who have now been replaced. The impression given is Eccleston Square has little enthusiasm for the visit or for the Pope. I am sure this is merely impression and applies to "The Square", what they don't seem to get is that what they do or don't do reflects on our bishops.

Events that could grip the country, like the visit of St Theresa's relics, are left to simply happen or to go off at half cock. Speaking to Czech parishioner, he said that before their Papal visit, prayer cards, free booklets on the Pope, his catechesis, the purpose of his visit were made available, prayer vigils were organised. The Czech Republic was billed in the UK as "the most secular country in Europe", but their bishops used the Papal visit as an opportunity to present the Catholic Church to a skeptical public and as time of renewal. That isn't happening here!
Let us pray it won't be another wasted opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Good points Father.
My PP and his friend a priest from a neighbouring parish are doing their best to advertise the Pope's visit but they don't have much to work with.
Actually you've given me an idea. I might put some learning resources together myself. If I manage to do it can I come back here and say where people can download them?

Aloysius said...

Yes, from what I hear certain priests in my own diocese (H&N) are doing their best "stir up apathy", by presenting the collection for the visit in the worst possible light by whingeing about the costs "at a time like this" and the bureaucracy involved in actually getting to the mass - approved coach companies etc. As usual, one must ask "where are the bishops"?

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Well it has become rather problematic hasn't it Fr Ray?

Sussex Catholic said...

You hit the nail on the head when you said that the events are "all ticket affairs". I am afraid to say it but the Catholic Church in England & Wales became an all ticket affair some time ago. There is no interest among the hierarchy in mission, evangelization or even in maintenance, only in the management of decline. There are powerful forces at work here which are allied to some very powerful ones in Rome and the USA which are deeply opposed to the 'Benedictine project' of renewal and re-evangelization and see their role as maintaining the status quo until this papacy is replaced by something more digestible to the secularist mindset. Thus this Papal visit is to be 'managed' with the minimum of fuss and the appeasment of as many hostile pressure groups as possible. I cannot see how sensible Catholics with an eye to international affairs could draw any other conclusion.

Fr PF said...

The Scottish Bishops have started putting up some pastoral resources for the visit at www.beingcatholic.org

leutgeb said...

Yet 350 000 people went to visit the relics of Ste T of L, despite not much publicity. How many more would have gone had it been talked up or even talked of is a moot point.

I know someone who has already got her flag ready. (Not me btw.)

I think we just have to do it ourselves. I'm just going to head into London on the Saturday -toute seule if necessary. Maybe we can all meet up somewhere and if we don't get tickets, be the cheering crowd. I'm happy to join in with something that's organised, but I have no expectation that anyone is going to do it all for me.

A visible presence of happy Catholics is necessary. We didn't cause a problem in Rome, Cologne, etc for WYD, so why not London? It will be good practice for the Olympics after all.

Independent said...

Is is possible to buy on Amazon some good lives of Newman, including Meriol Trevor,Dr Sheridan Gilley, and Fr Ian Ker. There is no shortage of material on this remarkable man who anticipated so many of the problems which face us all today. Trevor has done a fairly brief popular life. I have given a copy to my Catholic son and his five children.

I find that many people have never heard of Newman so there is lots of ignorance to dispel.

georgem said...

In the meantime, the current issue of Time magazine is trying its best to do a hatchet job on the Pope - an 8-page rehash of the previously published abuse stories, and innuendo about his time in Munich.

Anonymous said...

In my parish the apathy is deafening.
Mary Hoka
Somewhere in deepest Somerset

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,
I posted that short comment to see if it worked. I have to be "anonymous", because I've tried every way to get accepted by Google. Well, we had the small leaflets - not really cardboardy enough to be prayer cards, so I'm going to have a few laminated. I know that a poster exists, but it's not in MY church porch. The amount collected was not put in this week's bulletin. I've asked in our main deanery church about what events we can go to and been told that we've been "sent to Coventry" and that it will be pointless going to London under one's own steam. So far two of us definitely want to go to Coventry, but nothing has been said about a coach.
I've been to Rome ten times to see Benedict XVI - yes, ten times! - and find that's a much easier way to see him and hear his catechesis, because flying from Bristol I can get there in two hours twenty minutes - on my own.
But he's coming to my own country and few people seem to care. It's a disgrace.
Mary, Somerset
Diocese of Clifton - almost in Plymouth Diocese, not that it makes much difference!

nickbris said...

Secularists & all the other "funny farm"candidates would obviously like to see the Papal Visit fail,they know deep down that their wishes are doomed to failure.

Every venue will be packed to over capacity as is always the case and Catholics will be out in their Millions.

Mr Tatchell ought to be locked up for his own protection,he has already done enough damage to our recently formed Coalition Government.

Patrick said...

IOs it not that most of our priests are barely in communion with Pope, such is the state of the Church in England!

Maurice said...

Negative comments don't help the situation ... Why not do something about it instead of moaning? I have prepared for our diocese a couple of leaflets on the process of beatification and on who Newman was. They will be available very soon. I've also worked on three powerpoint presentations for use across the age-groups in schools. These will be sent out to schools very soon. I got these jobs because I challenged the diocese (rather than just moaning on blogs in a cowardly way) about the lack of information. So they gave me the task of changing the situation! At least I've attempted to redress the balance, instead of going on to blogs and whining.

Lucy said...

We feel rather detached from it all - we LOVE the Holy Father and are very devoted to him, but the actual visit? It is all happening miles away from us and all has been so quiet about it, and as it is a state visit not a pastoral one it seems almost as if he is not visiting us but just the VIPs. My children were excited but now we know we will not even get a chance to see the Pope or be near him, it seems so unimportant somehow. I feel terrible for even writing that but it is how we feel.

epsilon said...

I literally went through hell and high water to get from Southampton to Westminster Cathedral in order to attend the premier of Alma Mater in December - I didn't go into all that on my blogposting of 3rd December but suffice to say I was soaking even before getting on the National Express Coach, 6 inches deep in water, seconds before the coach left for London. Slipping and sliding in my immitation-uggboots I nearly broke my neck in London trying to get a pair of wellington boots, missed my son who was going to meet me there but got lost... Upon eventually arriving at Westminster Cathedral, was handed a designer invitation in a designer envelope prearranged by email, without which entry would have been barred. I SAW SEVERAL PEOPLE BEING TURNED AWAY FROM WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL, WHO CAME HOPING TO ATTEND THE RECITAL, WHILE THE CATHEDRAL WAS MORE THAN HALF EMPTY.

My latest posting relates to the Pope’s visit in September where I make the observation that the organisation of this looks like a carbon copy of the Alma Mater event.

It’s up to the likes of you, Father, to make sure the secular careerists in the Church don’t get their way once again when it comes to the Papal visit!! You’ve achieved unimaginable things so far via your blog – you can do it √

Sue Sims said...

A search on the site for 'tickets' produces nothing. My parish priest says he hasn't heard anything from the diocese (Portsmouth). However, I've had a mailing from a US company which is arranging a trip to the UK - for Americans, naturally! - which includes tickets for the beatification. What is happening here?

P Standforth said...

There does appear to be an effort being made to promote the visit in the Catholic schools - the CES seems to have put together a presentation sent to all schools; I found a copy here:

epsilon said...

It's interesting after what Aloysius said...

Yes, from what I hear certain priests in my own diocese (H&N) are doing their best "stir up apathy", by presenting the collection for the visit in the worst possible light by whingeing about the costs "at a time like this" and the bureaucracy involved in actually getting to the mass - approved coach companies etc. As usual, one must ask "where are the bishops"?

1/6/10 3:13 PM

and later
P Standforth said...

There does appear to be an effort being made to promote the visit in the Catholic schools - the CES seems to have put together a presentation sent to all schools; I found a copy here:

1/6/10 9:20 PM

When you go there it turns out to be the very same H&N diocese!!

I've looked at the PowerPoints and
on both under a slide entitled "what will the Pope be doing?" there's an image of the Pope MARCHING WITH SOME DECORATED SOLDIERS!!!

BTW my links above only work if you delete this beginning part of the URL link: https://www.blogger.com/

i.e. only link to


for recent post and


for December post

epsilon said...

If we really want to engage with teenagers about the Pope's visit we would bypass the H&N Powerpoints and go straight for the jugular with lyrics like Fr St Fortuna's - see


and BTW ** just so you know ** young people who "digg" Rap also "digg" Gregorian Chant

school of the Eucharist
©2003 fr. stan fortuna, cfr

at this school when i sit
even just a little bit
i get hit with the power
that made the veil in the temple split
when i submit
fall on the floor and adore
can’t get enough
got to come back for sa-more
every prostitute and sinner
every fool and hypocrite
can benefit in this school
repent and commit
as the incense rises up
in adoration of the throne
somethin happens
to my wounded heart
from all the love revealed and shown
bright light Shekina
comes to my aid to assist
to change and sustain
the way i think and exist
to feel the bliss because my name
is in the book of life’s list
that’s what happens when you sit
in the school of the Eucharist

verse 1
be fertile and multiply
progenerate procreate
yet we frustrate the divine plan
it will only illustrate the disaster
of bein consumed
by consumer culture
recover sanctity
when spouses copulate
this is somethin that the culture can facilitate
instead they want to make big money so they desecrate
they press audiovisual triple x
vulgarity and violence
they dominate
that’s what they celebrate
thug wannabe’s or actuals
that’s what they emulate
and they mutilate each other
bad feelins like nas missin his mother
dre’s brother biggie and 2 pac
bonds stocks and glocks
need new buildin blocks
penitentiary and terror cells
the whole wide world
is under those locks
incarcerate and conversate
with a cultural inmate
the new prison no vision
don’t got the inner strength to tolerate
the pains we feelin
unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood you got no life within you
that means you dead
don’t matter the size of your venue
or how many records you sell
gehenna forces burnin
in this cultural hell
bond with your homies
with a mad rodman-iverson-type of tattoo
this battle still commin straight at you
don’t matter the size of your iq
ain’t no human mind that can
mastermind the breakthrough
give-me give-me takin greedy takin
not receivin deadly fruit of not believin
it’s a hard teachin John 6:66
some were badly shaken
it’s time to stop fakin before we be rudely awakened

verse 2

deadly cultural wound
who can stop the bleedin
with every beat of its heart
the culture is fallin apart
cultural remedy must pass through Gethsemane
all intellectual tryin
without dyin to self
perpetuates the attitude
“i’ll do it myself”
militant fanatics
with bodacious martyrdom
suicide bombers
we can’t stop ‘em we part of ‘em
it’s all over broadcast on tv
cnn radio am and fm
what a way to start
the new millennium
homeland security?
not without a renewed sense of purity
we got a big multicultural
international problem
everybody claims
a piece of father Abraham
deadly disputes
over the Promised Land
o little town of Bethlehem
it’s perpetual - need more adoration 24/7
destination heaven…

rest of the lyrics:

pelerin said...

Sue Simms mentions the email from the USA. I too received that and was amazed when it said that it included tickets for the Beatification ceremony in Coventry.

However on reading further I saw that it contained details of an inclusive holiday from America (I think the cost was some $3,000). It would appear that the Cardinal Newman Society in America has tickets for this event already whilst people in Britain have no knowledge of how to apply for tickets for any of the events.

I should be happy to join Leutgeb in London on the Saturday if there are no organised visits. I am hoping they will have a giant screen outside the Cathedral as they did for the arrival and departure of the relics of Ste Therese. And in Hyde Park too.

gemoftheocean said...

Don't wait for the weenie bishops permission---just take to lining the streets yourselves and congregating outside where the pope is to be. Stick it to Eccles. Square - those guys ARE square!!!

cb said...

but Father the website has many invaluable suggestions for a 'do-it-yourself' Pope event. I particularly loved the PDF instructing parishes how to have a social event ("drinks and nibbles.") Contained within said document are many insightful ideas, eg how to make the social event successful (dim the lights and put some disco on or something like that) . It even has suggestions for conversation topics - spend the rest of the night deciding when to have the next one . I think we should organise one right away keeping strictly to the guidelines as laid down in the document. I'll bring some cheese and pineapple on sticks. You can bring your lute.

georgem said...

Here's a third person who received the US email. There appears to be a tie-in with the Birmingham Oratory. So someone has advance planning skills.
At this stage it looks as though we might have to rely on info from the schools invited to the youth event.
However, there are still about 15 weeks to go and time for concerned Catholics to deluge their bishops asking when, where and what time? Two lines at most. I think it's one of those occasions where the swell has to come from the people in the pew.
I'm a Friend of WC outside London and so far there's been silence regarding the visit, as there was silence about Alma Mater which I would certainly have attended had I known about it.
I think it is up to us to let the hierarchy know that they must make room for us as they surely will for all the usual Establishment suspects, some of whom will not be Catholic.
Frankly, if I happen to see a high-ranking political couple in the front row I shall spit.

SemperFidelis said...

Hello Father,
I like your post, but must say that this is not just an English problem. I'm from Ireland, we are due to host the Eucharistic Congress 2012, and apart from a collection last year and another one this Sunday, very little else has happened. I know that the focus in Ireland has become the visitation and renewal, and rightly so, but what better way to renew our Church than an event like the Congress, or in the English case the Papal Visit?

Matthew said...

Forgive my cynicism, but I wonder if it is the case that in reality the bishops don't want the visit; they don't want thousands of loyal Catholics turning out to greet the successor of St Peter; they don't want the humiliation of a Catholic spectacle which might be at odds with their sycophantic connivance with the liberal, secular Establishment. So to achieve what they don't want, their ambitious minions 'organising' the event will do everything possible to ensure it's embarrassing failure, invoking so-called health and safety as the reason for limiting the numbers. Moreover, they have the audacity to expect us to pay up at the Church but watch the event on the internet etc, etc. The whole thing is shameful and makes one ashamed to be a Catholic in this country in these days.

And if that wasn't enough, we've had the ridiculous arguments over the music for the Beatification. While the latest suggestions are a vast improvement over the 70s-style cast-offs originally pushed by the Midlands Musicians, it still offers a mish-mash for what should be a major liturgical event in the life of our Church.

I'm afraid the whole thing looks an organisational mess. But there is still time to salvage something, but it requires stepping outside the Eccleston Sq box to do so.

epsilon said...

I too received the email invite from America to the canonisation via Birmingham a few weeks ago:) I could stay in university halls or a hotel and get a coach to the event... all for a handsome sum!

gemoftheocean said...

Aren't there ANY bishops in the UK who aren't "embarrassed" by the pope's visit?

Why in the world are they, in effect, actively trying to keept the British public from seeing the Holy Father? Like they couldn't have organized a few large stadium events?

Seems to me if Yankee Stadium could be organized for the pope while on his US visit, the Catholics in the UK could have done something similar -- it's scandalous to me that the Eccles. folks are essentially sitting there with there fingers in their ears, eyes shut singing "la-la-la we can't hear you..no one's interested in the pope...we are determined to dance to the tune of Dawkins and a hostile press by acting as we agree with them (and truth be told some of us do and the rest of us are cowed) -- go away no popery here."

Ignore these jerks and get out in the streets with your own banners and signs to show the Holy Father he is loved and appreciated, and the Eccles. Sq. people can have egg on THEIR faces.

They need to go.

There is a saying: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." THEY are in the way. And there is nothing worse than a leader who will not lead. Don't sit passively by and let these people screw you over.

As for organizing parties in the parishes...good idea to an extent...HOWEVER I can see that if you do only that, then it would be like having the world cup on your doorstep with few UK citizens being allowed to go. Don't accept the status quo as though you are "children" who need to be told what time to go to bed and to "Eat your red beets or no storytime."

johnf said...

By making it an all ticket event I wonder whether the Bishops will ensure a minimal attendance and thus play into the hands of the secularists.

I therefore share Matthew's cynicism.

According to Damian Thomson, the organisation of the event has already got Blairite overtones. Remember Blair tried to upstage the Queen at her Mother's funeral in 2001. and was told in no uncertain terms to back off by the Palace.

epsilon said...

I first began to realised there was something seriously wrong with the Catholic Church in the UK on the eve of the Iraq war in 2003. The Pope was speaking out strongly against war but the bishops in the UK were silent (except for Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue). My local priest (we've had a few since then) was anti-JPII and even more anti-Cardinal Ratzinger. From what I gather, he's now involved with the LBGT Soho "fringes of society" (his words) Masses. He waxed lyrical about Tony Bliar on the other hand:(

I was a volunteer at the church youth club and you'd think I was a subversive force, daring to encourage the kids to pray we would not go to war.

On the day when over 1 million people congregated in London to say NO to war, I was there with my two children. I was shocked and horrified at the distinct lack of a visible presence of The Church at these anti-war events then and ever since.

Gradually the importance of these words of Pope Benedict xvi became clear to me (though I’ve only just read them today!):

“It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."

Benedict xvi

I also gradually realised Mother Teresa was right when she said:

"If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. "

These words of the Orthodox priest, Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, gave me a lot of comfort when the silence from the catholic hierarchy in this country was deafening:

“Our task is simply to be attentive to the presence of God... holiness and revolution fit together... holiness is the revolution, it is the only revolution, holiness is God... and so [for us humans] ultimate social responsibility is struggling to be holy, it is holiness that will change everything, anything other than holiness can change nothing... for only God can conquer evil...our source is holiness, the purpose for our existence is holiness...”


So I intend to make a holy pilgrimage to the beatification of John Henry Newman on 19th September 2010. Whether the Catholic Church in England stands in my way is not what is important –

What is important is that I go there with peace in my heart towards all whom I encounter even if they stand in the way of me seeing the Vicar of Christ on Earth who is coming with the message “heart speaks to heart” (“Cor ad cor loquitur”) which Cardinal Newman took for his coat of arms

See www.newmanfriendsinternational.org/newman/?p=123

The International Centre of Newman Friends

Pax travel seem to be providing travel arrangements for foreign visitors – maybe we lay people should ask them to provide coaches from all parts of the UK too directly


For general information, questions about tours or just to request a brochure or group pack, please get in contact with us:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7485 3003
Fax: +44 (0)20 7485 3006
Email: info@paxtravel.co.uk
Mail: 152-156 Kentish Town Road,
Web page www.paxtravel.co.uk/contact-us

Physiocrat said...

If it looks like going pear-shaped the Holy Father could always stay at St Mary Magdalens and celebrate Mass here. You can't say you haven't got the space to accommodate him.

epsilon said...

I phoned Pax Travel this morning and they will take people by coach from Birmingham for £15 (I presume return) for the beatification.

They are also happy to arrange coaches from other parts of the country with a 2 night stay in Birmingham

0207 485 3003

Et Expecto said...

In my parish, the priest announced that a coach might be booked tio go to Coventry; but then went on to emphasise that it would be a very early start and a n extremely long day. He said it could be very expensive because he doubted whether the coach would be full.

All in all he painted a very discouraging picture. I remember that when Pope John Paul II came, there were 6 coaches from my parish and that was not enough. Many travelled by car or train.

It seems that this event is being talked down before it even gets rolling.

Newminster said...

I'm not sure why you would be surprised by this, Father. They don't like the man; he believes in all the "wrong" things; he doesn't seem to understand that the Church needs to "move away from all this adoration nonsense". And as for this "beatification" rubbish! What's that all about? Aren't we all saints?

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