Thursday, September 30, 2010


I had lunch today with a foreign priest who had been working in England for a few years. He has worked in various European countries. He said he had been looking forward to catechising young people here because he had heard about our Catholic school system. Today he said, "What is the point? After ten years they can't even recite the Ten Commandments".
This post isn't about bashing our education system; Shane, in response to a comment by someone else sent this link to The Maynooth Catechism for primary school children, it is from 1951, he found it on Lux Occulta. What I find amazing is that we had a whole culture in which children actually could recite the bare bones of the faith. What an extra-ordinary tool for binding a culture together.
I suppose they most probably couldn't tell you Bible stories but...

20 Questions for Marie Stopes

Mac posts a fantastic letter she found on Maria Stops Abortion, it is from a Baptist minister, Mike Gilbart Smith who asks the Maries Stopes 20 very incisive questions. Go over to Mike's site and read it for yourself.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angels: a few thoughts

There was a survey recently that said that less than 10% of Catholics accepted what the Church taught about contraception, abortion, homosexuality etc. It might be that it is a bit like the recent in which only 25% of Catholics were actually aware of what the Church taught about the Real Presence.

I suspect if a survey was conducted about belief in Angels, most Catholics would have difficulty in distinguishing between Angels an fairies.

Scripture however does believe in Angels, there is a bit of wiggle room, angels could be messengers, either human or thoughts used by God. St John the Baptist, "the Voice", who heralds "the Word" is often portrayed in icons as the winged angel of the desert. There has always been speculation as to whether the Blessed Virgin encountered Gabriel in her heart or in her chamber.

We can understand the great battle in the Apocalypse as a struggle between St Michael and the devil as really being about the struggle between Truth and Falsehood, the Church and the World in that strange cryptic language Apocalyptic language : Michael being the ev - angel, the good messenger, which could be the Church itself,  with sword of the Gospel, sustained by the prayers of the Saints who destroys disbelief, who will eventually triumph. in the Heavenly Liturgy of the worship of the Lamb.

Wiggle as much as we might, Revelation is clear: Angels exist! However their role is to be in the presence of God, their very being is to worship, to cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy! Maybe our modern difficulty with Angels comes from an essential difficulty with worship, with prayer, and ultimately with the notion of beings whose total fulfillment is worship.

Cardinal Pell on the "Bitter Pill"

Cardinal Pell wrote an interesting article in the Australian saying that far from bringing equality, contraception has redistributed power away from women.. In it he quotes extensively from Timothy Reicherts First Things article Bitter Pill.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank you Petar

I just bumped into myself on You Tube. It is one Petar Zrinjski's beautiful videos, a montage of pictures from our parish website which were taken a few years ago, before we restored the sanctuary steps. Petar has added Byrd's 5 part. By the way it is Damian Asby serving. I am very flattered by Petar's gesture.

It might be interesting to compare the pictures Petar used with the video which was made last All Souls day, the music there is the parish choir -  with friends.
The restoration work is going slowly, slowly, sowly we are strippin away gray paint, it is painstaking expensive process. We are going to be able to update the lighting system this year but then our money runs out. So it is over to Divine Providence!

Reminds me, I must order some more unbleached candles.
P.S. Do gently remind your parish priest that black is an option for Requiems in the new rite and All Souls Day is good time to wear it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Leo XIII - Pope of Christian Unity

All that stuff about Leo XIII's stole, Idle Speculations deepens the "plot" further. I didn't know that about Leo.

Lost Liberal Souls

An grating gaffe was made by Abp Peter Smith during the visit. Speaking of the role of women in the Church, he said somthing like: they are very important in the Church, they did a splendid job doing the catering this morning, we would have been lost without them. I am not sure how familiar he is with Hildegard of Bingen or Catherine of Sienna or Theresa of Avila or Edith Stein or .... Somehow too he seemed blind to the fact that even in his own diocese women out number men in a ratio of 4:1 as catechist, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion etc. It could have been he was just trying to annoy the likes of Tina Beattie, Ma P, Oona Stannard and all those other powerful women in the Church.

A stunt organised by an Irish octogenarian, Jennifer Sleeman, yesterday was supposed to be  "Sunday Without Women?", a boycott of going to Mass by women who are outraged for various reasons by the role of women in the Church. Apparently, despite the hyping of this by the Irish press, in Ireland, straw polls suggested numbers at Mass were slightly up, so people boycotted the boycott rather than Mass.

Missing Mass is a serious sin, encouraging others to do it is a wicked and divisive thing. It is a demonstration that for people like Sleeman there is little about the duty of being present at Calvary or taking part in the Liturgy of Heaven. The Mass and the Church too is seen just as meeting, an assembly, a rally, a family meal, at which the disgruntled like petulant adolescents can absent themselves.

Nevertheless Sleeman's action is deeply worrying and is perhaps significant of what is happening to many Liberals today who are boycotting themselves out of the Church. For them the Catholic Church is becoming an alien place, no wonder during the visit some of them were happier to be amongst the angry grey faces of the Protest the Popers rather than amongst the happy, joyful crowds that welcomed him.

In some ways it is tempting to say good riddance to those who seem to have little in common with orthodox Catholicism, who are selective in their beliefs, dismissive of any Magisterium, who are happier with circle dancing than monthly confession, preferring the eneagram to Benediction, who squirm at the mention of an Indulgence but ultimately here we are talking about souls and their loss here. We cannot be happy or complacent at their loss or their absence.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Papal Visit Souvenir

One of my parishioners showed me his unique souvenir of the papal visit: a 3 inch tiara and cross keys with "Benedict XVI" in a scroll underneath it on his upper arm.
I asked him why he had done it. His reply was, "I was going to get one done, I just didn't know I wanted, the Pope's visit reminded I was a Catholic, sometimes I am not that good at standing up for my faith. Now I can't really deny it, can I?"

Is this what Abp Nichols had in mind?

Anyone got a more radical way of saying, "I am a Catholic and I love the Pope".

For my part I did ask for a Fanta in the pub after this mornings Mass, they didn't have one, I settled for a gin and tonic. Does having a tattoo hurt that much?

Gordon Bennett Cup

Just a thought... balloons filled with gas and left to float in the breeze high in the sky, which eventually come drifting down to earth and are not seen again... there must be an ecclesiastical equivalent to the Gordon Bennett Cup.

I am just thinking of all of those boundary pushing theologians who sailed so high in the thirty or so years after the Council whose writings now sit in a deflated pile, unread on an obscure library shelf somewhere.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pope of Sign and Symbol

Some bloggers have expressed surprise at the Pope wearing Leo XIII's stole, either whincing or squealing with delight. Well lets not be so crass as to assume Benedict chose it only for one reason. Yes Leo did issue Apostolicae Curae but he also make Newman a Cardinal, I wonder if the stole might also have had a Newman connection.

The gift to the Queen I suspect was multilayered too: the giving of an ancient Book of the Gospels to a Protestant Queen, with all the significance that the Bible-giving has in the post-reformation Coronation Rite; a rich vein for anyone who wants to delve into it. Benedict is a man not only a man of words but of signs.

More interesting, I think, than haberdashery and velum is as Rocco Palmo points out is the extra-ordinary simularity between Benedict's speech at Holyrood and Newman's Biglietto speech. Benedict's words and actions are always multi-facetted, he is above all a man formed by the liturgy of sign, symbol and word, all of which are worth mulling over.
In the same post Palmo also presents L'Osservatore's assessment of the visit.

Now, anyone understand the symbolism of him asking for a Fanta when the Queen offered him coffee?

Lord Sacks to the Pope

If you haven't read this, read the whole thing, its from the speech of the Chief Rabbi to the Pope.
Britain has been so enriched by its minorities, by every group represented here today and the intricate harmonies of our several voices. And one of our commonalities is that we surely all believe that faith has a major role in strengthening civil society.

In the face of a deeply individualistic culture, we offer community. Against consumerism, we talk about the things that have value but not a price. Against cynicism we dare to admire and respect. In the face of fragmenting families, we believe in consecrating relationships. We believe in marriage as a commitment, parenthood as a responsibility, and the poetry of everyday life when it is etched, in homes and schools, with the charisma of holiness and grace.

In our communities we value people not for what they earn or what they buy or how they vote but for what they are, every one of them a fragment of the Divine presence. We hold life holy. And each of us is lifted by the knowledge that we are part of something greater than all of us, that created us in forgiveness and love, and asks us to create in forgiveness and love. Each of us in our own way is a guardian of values that are in danger of being lost, in our short-attention-span, hyperactive, information-saturated, wisdom-starved age. And though our faiths are profoundly different, yet we recognize in one another the presence of faith itself, that habit of the heart that listens to the music beneath the noise, and knows that God is the point at which soul touches soul and is enlarged by the presence of otherness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pope to School Children

(VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received a group of pupils, parents and teachers from the local Paul VI Pontifical School, which is run by the "Maestre Pie Filippini".

"Dear children", said the Pope in his remarks, "you go to school and you learn naturally, and I am recalling that seventy-seven years have now passed since I began school. I lived in a small village of three hundred inhabitants, ... yet we learned the essential things. Most importantly, we learned to read and write. I think it is a great thing to be able to read and write, because in this way we can know other people's ideas, read newspapers and books. We can also know what was written two thousand or more years ago; we can know the spiritual continents of the world and communicate with one another. Above all there is one extraordinary thing: God wrote a book, He spoke to us human beings, finding people to write the book containing the Word of God. Reading that book, we can read what God says to us".

The Holy Father went on: "At school you learn everything you need for life. You also learn to know God, to know Jesus and thus you learn how to live well. At school you make a lot of friends and this is a beautiful thing because in this way you form one big family, but among our best friends, the first we meet and know should be Jesus Who is a friend to everyone and truly shows us the path of life".

The Papal Vist must have been a success...

...Even TheTablet praises the Pope, at least in the editorial and even in the piece by Bobby Mickens. I am actually a little shocked, if Ms Pepinster continues in this way I might just permit it to be sold at the back of the Church. Well, maybe ...
Bobby Mickens lets us know about the party on the Papal plane and rather interestingly makes this point about about the homily in Westminster Cathedral.
His comments on sex abuse certainly over-shadowed the main point of his homily at Westminster Cathedral. The mainstream media ignored his pre-Vatican II emphasis on the Mass as sacrifice (no mention of meal) and on the Crucifixion (just a passing mention of the Resurrection) as the core of Christian faith.

I know you will call me a wet libera and I find this difficult to say, maybe I won't say it again, but err..., read the Tablet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Petition to Thank the Holy Father for His Visit to Britain

Go over to Jeffrey Steel's blog and sign


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a letter written by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. The letter concerns recent events involving the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) and appeared in today's edition of the British newspaper, Financial Times.
"Yesterday the IOR (Institute of Religious Works) returned to international media attention in the wake of a surprise investigation by the Procurator's Office in Rome.

"Given that the activities of the IOR take place at an international level, and that its President is a well respected figure, well-known in the world of international finance, it is appropriate that I, as the head of the Holy See's Press Office, should seek to clarify matters in order to avoid the spread of inaccurate information and to ensure that no damage is caused to the activities of the Institute or the good name of its managers.

"The IOR is not a bank in the normal definition of the term. It is an Institute that administers the assets of Catholic institutions; institutions whose goal is to further a religious and charitable apostolate at an international level. The IOR is located within the territory of Vatican City State; in other words, beyond the jurisdiction and surveillance of the various national banks.

"Its particular status means that its position in the system and the regulations of international finance requires a series of agreements in order to establish the procedures necessary for the Holy See to be included in the White List - this is especially true in light of the new norms laid down by the European Union to combat terrorism and money laundering.

"From the day of his appointment, and in accordance with the specific mandate he received from the highest Vatican authorities and from the IOR Inspection Committee, President Gotti Tedeschi has been working with great commitment to ensure the absolute transparency of the IOR's activities, and their compliance for the norms and procedures which will allow the Holy See to be included in the White List. To this end, intense and fruitful contacts are ongoing with the Bank of Italy, the European Union and with the competent international bodies: OECD and GAFI.

"It is for this reason that the Vatican Secretariat of State, in the official communiqué it released on Tuesday, expressed its perplexity and amazement at this investigation by the Procurator's Office in Rome, which has come at a time in which this commitment is being clearly shown and these contacts are being made in order to reach lasting solutions as soon as possible.

"The nature and aims of the transactions under investigation could have been clarified with great simplicity, being cash transactions the beneficiary of which is the Institute itself, on accounts it holds at other credit institutions. The current problem was caused by a misunderstanding (now being examined) between the IOR and the bank which received the transfer order.

"Thus the Holy See reiterates its complete confidence in the managers of the IOR, and its desire for complete transparency in the financial operations the Institute undertakes, in accordance with the procedures and norms required today to ensure the security and transparency of transactions in the field of international finance".
VIS 20100923 (550)

Am I a "Taliban Catholic"?

I think Catholic Voices is a good thing, I think every parish in the country ought to have three or four people who can speak or write articulately on the Catholic faith; people who can and are willing to write to newspapers, put over the Catholic position on local radio, even take part in internet fora.

The Catholic Church in this country has suffered in the past by not having such a group, we desperately need such a group of intelligent, well informed, loyal lay men and women if we are to engage with secularism in the way in which the Holy Father spelt out during his visit.

Now, if I were running the not normally very articulate Catholic Media Office my first priority would be to get together lists of prominent Catholic lawyers, scientists, doctors, politicians, artists etc who would be willing to write or speak in defence of the Magisterium. My next priority would be to train diocesan, deanery and parish groups to do the same.

But who would one ask to speak for the Catholic Church?

John Allen interviews Austen Ivereigh, one paragraph has caused a rumble in some parts of the English Catholic blogosphere, which deals precisely with this, "Who?", in this case, who was suitable for Catholic Voices.

We didn’t get an application from a Lefebvrite. We did get a few from what you would call the “Taliban Catholics,” who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it. We also had applications from people in favor of the ordination of women, and who in general believe that the reforms of Vatican II have been insufficiently implemented, and who are angry at the bishops for the opposite reasons.

We had one application from a woman called Pat Brown, who made it to an interview because we didn’t quite understand where she was coming from. In the interview she said, I believe in the ordination of women and I want to use this, when the pope is here, as a vehicle for talking about that. We said that’s not really right for us, and we explained. She got very upset, which led to the formation of what’s called “Catholic Voices for Reform.” It’s slightly annoying they took our name!
Ivereigh is perhaps a little less urbane than Uncle Jack Valero and his use of what The Sensible Bond describes as the "boo word" / phrase: "Taliban Catholic" does make one ask quite who is acceptable. It makes me ask if Mr Ivereigh had me in mind as a Taliban Catholic, or pne or two other priest bloggers, or John Smeaton or other passionate Catholics.
Ches highlights this passage:
They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it.
 I would describe Damian Thompson as a "Taliban Catholic", and I thank God for him, for highlighting some of the silliness in our Church, he is highly critical of the bishops - and some clergy. I believe having a loyal but critical laity is of great importance, if for no other reason than saving the Church from itself. Few could have stopped the Irish clerical abuse horrors but maybe a loyal critical laity holding the heirarchy to account could have stopped some of the wickedness which has multiplied the Church's woes which has come as result of the cover-up of these "unspeakable crimes" by the Irish bishops. A large part of the Irish problem was having a laity who refused to question and co-operated with the Bishop's sin, even their crimes in the cover-up.

In 1535, all the English Bishops, except St John Fisher, who might well have been described as a "Taliban" Catholic by Ivereigh, sold out the Church. The message of 1535 reminds us ordinary priests and laity of the importance of loyal criticism, of holding our bishops to account.

At the last Ad Limina visit the Pope said to our bishops:
So what when they refuse to recognise dissent for what it is?
It is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

What do we do when it appears that the CES allows Connexions to teach those things which are contrary to the faith in our schools, or appoints the former MP Greg Pope, with his appalling anti-life voting record to the same Education Service?
What do we do when after 13 years of Catholic education or young men and women seem to know little and believe even less of our faith?
What does a loyal Catholic do when a bishop himself publicly dissents from the faith and seems to fan the embers of dissent into a flame?
What should we have done when Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor  receive Tony Blair into the Church without any statement that might have suggested he was also a convert and actually agreed with the Church he was received into?
What does one do when the bishops seem to advocate, or rarely contradict, the views of Pepinster, Mickens and Beattie when they seem to depart from the Magisterium? It saddens me that their rather insular, elitist, middle-class, view of the faith has become "establishmemt Catholicism" and their failure to copntradict them seems to be tacit agreement.

The Holy Father called on our bishops not only to teach the faith but to teach it in its fullness. Surely we have a right to ask for this fullness and more than just a dergree of congruence with the Magisterium and Engish Catholics have both a right and duty to ask why a particular

The Holy Father has given us a broad understanding of what being Catholic is, one of his first acts was to invite Hans Kung for dinner, on the other hand of course as the "Pope of Christian unity", he has been desperately trying to fully regularise the SSPX and has been promoting a reading of theology that favours the hermeneutic of continuity rather than rupture.

Ivereigh is right however to want "mainstream" Catholics as his Voices. His use of the phrase "Taliban Catholics" is crass, so too is his apparent promotion of whatever the local equivalent of Ultramontanism. For this Pope obedience to the Tradition is important, not slavery to his own particular teaching, he sees the Roman Pontiff as the servant of the Church not its master, that is the same role we should expect from our bishops and also from a well informed laity, including Catholic Voices.
Do read Ches' sensible post

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pope Speaks on Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom

from today's audience

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know, I have just returned from my first Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom, and I wish to send my affectionate greetings to all those I met and those who contributed to the visit through the media during four days, which have begun a new and important phase in the long-standing relations between the Holy See and Great Britain.

Last Thursday, I was honoured by the warm welcome of Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in Scotland’s historic capital Edinburgh. Later that day, I celebrated Mass in Glasgow in the presence of many bishops, priests, religious and a great concourse of the faithful against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset at Bellahouston Park, within sight of the place where my beloved predecessor celebrated Mass with the Scots twenty-eight years ago.

Upon arriving in London, I met thousands of Catholic students and schoolchildren at a very joyful celebration, reminding all of us of the excellent and essential work being done by Catholic schools and teachers throughout the land. I then had the pleasure of meeting the clerical and lay representatives of different religions and of discussing the search for the sacred common to all men.

Later, I had the honour of calling upon His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury who has come on several occasions to meet me in Rome. Our meeting at Lambeth Palace, in the presence of the Bishops of the Church of the England, was very cordial and fraternal. I then crossed the river to Westminster where I was given the unprecedented opportunity to address both Houses of Parliament gathered in Westminster Hall on the importance of a fruitful dialogue between religion and reason, a theme as relevant in the time of Saint Thomas More as it is in our own day. Finally that day, I had the privilege of kneeling in prayer with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Tomb of Saint Edward in Westminster Abbey, and of giving thanks to God with the Archbishop, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and other British Christian leaders, for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our efforts to re-knit the fabric of our Christian fellowship.

The next morning, I had the pleasure of greeting Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Ms Harriet Harman, leader of the Opposition, before celebrating Mass in Westminster Cathedral, with a liturgy evocative of the best of the English musical tradition in the celebration of the Roman rite. That afternoon, I was welcomed very cordially by the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly people they look after. There I also had the chance to thank and encourage those charged with the safeguarding of children in Britain. That evening I participated at a beautiful vigil of deep prayerfulness and stillness at Hyde Park with tens of thousands of the faithful.

On Sunday morning, I travelled to Birmingham where I had the joy of celebrating the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Later that day, after a warm and fraternal meeting with all the Bishops of Britain, I was bidden farewell by Prime Minister Cameron during a very cordial speech at Birmingham International Airport on the Government’s wish to build a partnership for development with the Catholic Church and others.

Sunday, then, was a moment of deep personal satisfaction, as the Church celebrated the blessedness of a great Englishman, whose life and writings I have admired for many years and who has come to be appreciated by countless people far beyond the shores of his native land. Blessed John Henry Newman’s clear-minded search to know and express the truth in charity, at whatever cost to his own personal comfort, status and even friendships, is a wonderful testimony of a pure desire to know and love God in the communion of the Church. His is surely an example that can inspire us all.


Just a reminder that this blog's spam box consumes all ANONYMOUS comments, they never get published, which is a shame as there have been one or two good ones supplying useful information but they end up with the Russian and Chinese pornography.

Newman Weeping

Fr Sean talks about the unhappiness of some Anglican clergy who become Catholics.

There is the story of someone who saw an old man, who he took to be Cardinal Newman weeping over a country churchyard lychgate, he interpreted it as the Blessed John Henry weeping for regret at what he had lost on leave the Cof E.
Anglican's had always rather enjoyed disseminating these stories from his conversion onwards, Cardinal Bourne's father was concerned about the gossip and wrote to Newman asking if it were true.

In reply Newman wrote the following:

Dear Sir,

I return an immediate, though necessarily hasty, answer to your inquiry, which made me more than smile.

It is wonderful that people can satisfy themselves with rumours which the slightest examination, or even attention, would disprove; but I have had experience of it long before I was a Catholic. At present the very persons, who saw through and reprobated the Evangelical misrepresentations concerning me, when I was in the Church of England, believe of me things quite as extravagant and as unfounded. their experience of past years has taught them nothing.

I can only say, if it is necessary to say it, that from the moment I became a Catholic, I never have had, through God's grace, a single doubt or misgiving on my mind that I did wrong in becoming one. I have not had any feeling whatever but one of joy and gratitude that God called me out of an insecure state into one which is sure and safe, out of the war of tongues into a realm of peace and assurance. I shrink to contemplate the guilt I should have incurred, and the account which at the last day would have laid against me, had I not become a Catholic, and it grieves me to the heart to think that so many excellent persons should still be kept in bondage in the Church of England, and should, among the many good points they have, want the great grace of faith, to trust God and follow his leadings.

This is my state of mind, and I would it could be brought home to all and every one, who, in default of real arguments for remaining Anglicans, amuse themselves with dreams and fancies.

I am, Dear Sir,

Truly Yours,

John H. Newman Maryvale, Perry Bar, June 13, 1848.

If it were Newman, and if he were weeping, could the tears have been shed for those who had not followed him and remained in the CofE?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seminarians and the Pope

Fr John Boyle has found a rather moving radio interview with a couple of seminarians, of whom is my friend Matt Gorman who is studying in Rome.

Students in Rome and I think at other seminaries wear cassocks when assisting at liturgical functions, in my final year at Wonersh the Rector decided it wasn't part of his vision of nu-Church and banned it. Twenty eight years on his ban still continues, so our lads from Wonersh were apparently pushed away from the Holy Father in the photo session. Sad!

Spying on the Pope

One of parishioners who was in the choir took this video of the Holy Father, she said she stopped halway through him getting vested as she felt she was spying on him.
I am just fascinated by the view the Holy Father and the choir had of the vast congregation.

English Bishops at Usus Antiquior Vespers

I am surprised so little has been made of the fact that most of the Bishops of England and Wales chose to attend Second Vespers of the Blessed John Henry Newman in the Usus Antiquior at Birmingham Oratory, other Bishops of course were saying farewell to the Holy Father.

Interestingly, with so many bishops present, it wasn't pontifical (presided over by a bishop) but an inhouse Oratorian affair, the bishops were in the congregation wearing habito piano and came forward with the laity to venerate the new Beatus' relics.
pictures by James Bradley, James also has pictures of the new Newman chapel at the Oratory in this set.

Pope on Solidarity with those in need

Pope said to British Bishops
'Since your visit to Rome, political changes in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the consequences of the financial crisis, which has caused so much hardship to countless individuals and families. The spectre of unemployment is casting its shadow over many people’s lives, and the long-term cost of the ill-advised investment practices of recent times is becoming all too evident. In these circumstances, there will be additional calls on the characteristic generosity of British Catholics, and I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life.'
Bones rather intemporately rants:
The kind of 'justice n' peace' work promoted by the Bishops of England and Wales is one that doesn't really promote the idea of the rich actually ever coming into contact with the poor, so that the chasm of understanding between Lazarus and Dives is perpetuated until the End of Time. There is a collection for CAFOD, the once Catholic charity who now, apparently, promote contraception and abortive procedures in total and utter contradiction to Church Teaching, but it is almost as if the Bishops really believe that the Gospel is somehow about fairtrade, rather than emphasising the Works of Mercy, which not only help to act as reparation for our own sins, but touch the lives and hearts of others in a profoundly human way. Somehow, I do not think that when Our Lord preached that at the Last Judgment, He would gather into His Kingdom those who fed the hungry, gave shelter to the homeless and visited the sick and imprisoned, that He imagined the souls of a large gathering of Benetton-clad youngsters holding hands and being photographed by the Diocesan rag to raise awareness about 'climate change' ascending up to God.
The Gospel calls us to hands on practical charity but is it "either or" or should it be "both and"?

Bones is quite right to ask,  "Has the Church's mission to the Poor been reduced to 'campaigning'?"

Newman: 2nd Miracle

The postulator of the cause for the canonization of John Henry Newman has said that he is already studying the second miracle, which is necessary if the Pope is to declare the cardinal a saint.
The potential miracle took place in Mexico City some months ago. Having discovered the fetus she was carrying was suffering from a severe malformation, a mother prayed to Cardinal Newman for her child to be born without problems. The infant came into the world in perfect health and doctors were unable to explain how this had happened.
As it took place after the official announcement of Cardinal Newman's beatification, the miracle, if confirmed, would be valid for his future canonization.

Monday, September 20, 2010

James MacMillan's Tu Es Petrus

I have been looking for James MacMillan's Tu Es Petrus, I missed it on Saturday, I had Mass myself. People in the Cathedral; said it was spine-tingling. Listening to it here, even on my tinney speakers, it is really magnificent. In Westminster Cathedral it must have been amazing. James' charicteristically wonderful use of brass and prercussion, supplimentented by the great cathedral organ just makes me want to hear it live.
I didn't dislike his responsorial Mass, it just seemed strange the Pope using the the Church's liturgical language and the people replying in the vernacular but how magnificent, what a treasure it would have been had James written a full orchestral Latin Mass.
How blessed we are to have such brilliant Catholic man pouring out his faith in such glorious music in Britain in our life time.

Gerard's other big day

I posted about Gerard's Big Day a few month ago, he had another recently.
Here he is with both his Lord and his Pontiff - Congratulations Gerard!

Westminster Cathedral 1982 and 2010

Damian Thompson draws attention to Westminster Cathedral during the visit of Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict, interesting, eh?
Apart from restoring the High Altar to use, the obvious thing is the "off centering" of Benedict, for him it is Jesus Christ and the Holy Sacrifice which is important, he sees himself not as world striding Colossus but as a "poor servant" I don't make the point as a criticism of JPII but rather a statement about our developing understanding not just of the liturgy but also of the role of the Pope in the last twenty eight years.
The simple truth is that we have been taught and begun to realise under this Papacy that Jesus Christ is actually the centre of the Church, His Grace, not our efforts, is crucial. Even to preach Benedict sat at the side on the existing throne.

Just a couple of points, it has been said that ecumenically a gear has shifted, how interesting that apart from the Catholic bishops on the sanctuary, except for Dr Williams, all were Oriental or Orthodox, bishops the Catholic Church would accept as having valid orders and those with whom a real search for unity is possible. Very interesting the word "unity" was not mentioned at either Lambeth Palace or Westminster Abbey.

The other point: the liturgy was really superb! My thanks, for what they are worth, to Archbishop Nichols, Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the Administrator and Martin Baker, the Master of Music.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

After the Beatification

This is the schedule for the rest of the visit following Newman's Beatification:
1.10pm Private visit to the Oratory of St Philip Neri, Edgbaston, Birmingham
1.45pm Lunch with the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales and the papal entourage, Oscott College, Sutton Coldfield
4.45pm Meeting with the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales, seminary chapel, Oscott College, Sutton Coldfield
6.15pm Departure ceremony, Birmingham International airport
6.45pm Departure by air from Birmingham International airport
10.30pm Arrival at Ciampino airport, near Rome
What seems to be different from visits elsewhere is the amount of time the Pope will spend with our Bishops, I don't know how much will be broadcast or even made public.
I am sure for the bishops this visit which in so many ways has been a triumph will bolster their faith and courage to "Speak the Truth in Love". Like priests bishops today are so often surrounded by failure and discouragement, in fact maybe even more so, it is with them after all that the buck stops. They are the one's who have say to parishes, "I haven't a priest to send you", and to deal with priests aagainst whom there are allegations. It is good for bishops to receive cheers.
It is also good for them to see Mass and other liturgies celebrated well, even using a little Latin but more importantly where the liturgy itself is allowed to speak to hearts.
What the Pope will say to our bishops will probably echo what he said at the Ad Limina visit but with a little more force.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

10,000 Protesting

I know there were 10,000 or so protesters against the Papal visit in London today, actually I am surprised the number was so small. I mean considering the supporters of the Protest the Pope group, this is their list.
•Atheism UK
•British Humanist Association
•Central London Humanist Group
•Council of ex-Muslims of Britain
•Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association
•Humanist Association of Northern Ireland
•Humanist Society of Scotland
•International Humanist and Ethical Union
•Liverpool Humanist Group
•The Marches Secularists
•National Secular Society
•North London Humanists
•One Law for All
•Plymouth Humanist Group
•The Richmond upon Thames LGBT Forum
•Southall Black Sisters
•South West London Humanists
•Women Against Fundamentalism
•Young Freethought
I think some of these groups count their members by handfuls, I mean how many Plymouth Humanists are there?

The media, have built up a good head of steam for protest, Channel 4 gave Peter Tatchell a free advertising slot, the BBC put the "Pope on trial", various Guardian and Independent journalists have been drumming up support for the campaign for weeks. Secularist philosopher have been dragged into newsrooms, actors like Fry have been twittering, even dear old Liberal Catholics have been paying out good money for ads on buses.

All that being said, I think their is anger abroad, first those who genuinely feel that taxes paid by Catholics should not be used for a visit of our Pope. Who mentions the cost of a State or any other visit for any other Head of State, or the security for anyone else for that matter? n austere times there is a natural concern over unnecessary government expenditure, especially coming on the back of MP's expenses.

The other important group are those genuinely angry with the Catholic Church. Not just those who see us as a monolithic agency for child abuse and cover-up. There are plenty of others who are just angry with the Church partly because they actually hate our moral stance on a number of issues; there are the divorced, women who have had abortions and yes other libertarians who see us as a bastion of the old morality which they really see needs to be overthrown; a whole strata from young Trots to at least parts of the gay "community" - lots of course were sitting at home watching the Pope on telly thinking it was all wonderful.

Another group of course are those Englishmen who just hate Catholicism, today they have have lost the veneer of fundamentalist Protestantism and draped themselves in the new flag of aggresive atheism.

Then of course there are those on the left who just love a good demonstration.

All that being said I think it is also a demonstration of how little the Church is seen as doing any good  in society, we tone down our Christianity, organisation, even schools adopt neutral names. Our local secondary school for example is simply known as "Newman". Stephen Fry last year fronted something called a "Night Under the Stars" a fundraiser for "The Passage", I am told that although he knew it was a charity for the homeless, he didn't quite understand it upheld the same abominable views of the ghastly Pope and was actually a very Catholic charity. The same could be said for CAFOD, which is just known by its initials, those who deal with it I suspect, maybe even those who work for it aren't quite sure what the "C" stands for.
It is a bit like nuns and veils or priests and collars, get rid of them and everyone just assumes we are part of the greyness of secular society.
What was it the Pope said about schools, and perhaps other instituitions, being "demonstrably" Catholic?
I think there is also something about the divisions in our society but also the difficulties of the heirarchy in explaining and teaching Catholic belief and to equip the laity to do  that effectively and fully.
The Pope has an hour and half tomorrow in a close of visit forum the explain the importance of that.

"Unspeakable Crimes"

Today the Holy Father spoke at Westminster Cathedral about the crime of child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.
Later privately he met a small number of clerical abuse survivors. I was pleased that he also met diocesan officials who are responsible for safeguarding children other vulnerable people, as I think this was a first I think it is worth highlighting this meeting. This is what he said:
Dear Friends,

I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you, who represent the many professionals and volunteers responsible for child protection in church environments. The Church has a long tradition of caring for children from their earliest years through to adulthood, following the affectionate example of Christ, who blessed the children brought to him, and who taught his disciples that to such as these the Kingdom of Heaven belongs (cf. Mk 10:13-16).

Your work, carried out within the framework of the recommendations made in the first instance by the Nolan Report and subsequently by the Cumberlege Commission, has made a vital contribution to the promotion of safe environments for young people. It helps to ensure that the preventative measures put in place are effective, that they are maintained with vigilance, and that any allegations of abuse are dealt with swiftly and justly. On behalf of the many children you serve and their parents, let me thank you for the good work that you have done and continue to do in this field.

It is deplorable that, in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious. We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem. While there are never grounds for complacency, credit should be given where it is due: the efforts of the Church in this country and elsewhere, especially in the last ten years, to guarantee the safety of children and young people and to show them every respect as they grow to maturity, should be acknowledged. I pray that your generous service will help to reinforce an atmosphere of trust and renewed commitment to the welfare of children, who are such a precious gift from God.

May God prosper your work, and may he pour out his blessings upon all of you.
Yesterday I spoke briefly to a woman who claimed she too was a survivor, justifiable she said, "It is fine to apologise again and again, it is fine to set in place measures to reduce the risks", she thought that we concerned more by risks to the Church, she then said, "but what about those who have been hurt, those whose lives have been torn apart by all this?"
I know that the Church pays for councelling for survivors of clerical abuse, but I just can't help thinking that the Church has a further responsibility, not just to the victims of the clergy or Catholic teachers but to all who are abused, somehow we need to use our resources for all those suffering because of those "unspeakable crimes". As One in Four says, one in four people in the UK is likely to be a victim of abuse!

News from the Capital

I am catching up on yesterday's papal events,
I only managed to catch bits of this mornings Mass which seemed to have been splendid.
A couple of people phoned me say that they have been looking for protesters in London and only saw a handful.
Apparently there is a bit of concern in the choir, today for the Vigil, apparently the music is being led by evangelical non-Catholic and there is a big evangelical choir which is being given prominence, ruffling a few feathers.
Others have sent me messages saying how tremendous the atmosphere is. Apparently "The Priests" have been going around photographing everything, they like everyone are excited.

London Gallery

We, Bones, do read his post, and me, arrived in London Victoria  about 2.30 and decided to go the Abbey, first we went to Westminister Cathedral, which was closed for Saturday's Mass. There was a big screen outside, which was turned on while we were there.

In Victoria Street the only sign of decoration for the visit were the banners outside the Albert Pub.

We met these lovely old lady's waiting for their bus.
There were already people waiting to get into Westminster Abbey and the crowd was gathering opposite.

There were lots aned lots of young people there, some draped in the flag.
In front of the media balcony a number of Protestant Truth Society members had set up shop, I made up a point of praising the ones with scriptural placards, told them the Pope would be delighted to see them carrying placards with scripture quotes on them. Strangely it didn't seem to please them to much, especially coming from a Catholic priest.

These ladies had arrived quite early

There were lots of men from the media

I was amused by the banner draping Methodist Central Hall

This nice old gent was handing out "No Popery" leaflets. He had been an Anglican but left after the ordination of women. We had a pleasant discussion on the evils of Liberalism.

I met Chris Serpel who I hadn't seen for three or four years, he's a Catholic Voice

and the Prioress of Minster, I last met her when she was a novice.

I like these sweat shirts
 worn by young men from Netherhall

As I said earlier we were near some militant Protestants, here Chris Serpel, the Voice, gets out his own bible to discuss scripture with one of them, all quite good natured.
What surprised me was how little scripture they actually knew, they would quote an odd verse but not know its context. A young women I was talking to about confession didn't actually know The Lord had said to the Apostles, "Those whose sin you foregive are forgiven, those whose sin you retain ..."
Here is man ranting scripture at us, I thought he was going to have fit, shouting out that text about the whore of Babylon.
This actually is the only picture I got of the Popes arrival, by the hand with the pole is the Popemobile and I think the Pope is in the doorway of the abbey. Bones who was standing next to me has a video up.
Some young Catholics had this huge banner and kept moving it in front of the "No Popery" banner.

Here are some Sister of St John, amongst them is Sr Mary, the sister of one of our younger diocesan priests, I met her later.
Here the Pope leaves in a closed car
This was one of my successes, I persuaded a women to abandon her "Women priests" placard.
I had a wonderful day, the crowd was electric and I really enjoyed the debate with the Protestants, at least they weren't Liberals!

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...