Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day with some families

I've had a lovely day today an extra day off, lunch with a priest friend and two Catholic families who had between them nine children under eight. In Brighton families are a bit of rarity, most people live in flats in converted houses, with no lift or gardens, which mean they tend to move out when a second child comes along. Of all things, I miss Catholic families.
It was so refreshing to spend time with Magnus and Caroline, Dominic and Francesca they so obviously delighted in their own families and their faith, and seemed to welcome people into their families, they were so obviously open to life and radiated a sense of happiness.

It is often said that Humanae Vitae shouldn't be used as a yardstick to measure someone's Catholicism but actually that is a load of nonsense, being anti-Humanae Vitae was so often used by old liberals as a yardstick to mark a level of dissent, of being "thinking", as opposed to being faithful, Catholics. In so many ways it is a mark of being "new Church. Being open to Life in all its fullness marks out a Catholic from someone who merely gives the faith lip service. All the evils prophesied by Paul VI in Humanae Vitae have come true and humanity and individuals are seriously wounded by a contraceptive culture, at the very least people see themselves as having value as economic units, consumers not as human beings in relationships, as the Church sees them. There is a huge gulf in anthropology.

Scripture gives us a clear division between the Saved and everyone else, as there is between Light and darkness. So much so that early Christians divided the mankind into those who are "Alive" themselves, and the dead. Increasingly it strikes me that there is a clear divide between those are open to Life and the culture of Life and those who are not, and dwell in the culture of Death. It is not a matter just for families but for individuals and the Church herself.

Maybe more importantly for the Church; a contracepting Church is closed to the Life of Grace and simply doesn't understand evangelising and is ultimately childless. In so many ways the contraceptive culture has invaded the Church.

I can understand the fear of having children that so many Catholics nowadays seem to have, the best way of combating it is through contact with families like the ones I spent today with.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Mass that Hurts

Here is picture from Arundel and Brighton Latin Mass Society after last Saturday's High Mass at West Grinstead, seven of us went over to serve and sing taking with us a extra few friends.
Today I made a rather lame excuse to Sean from Juventutem not to assist as deacon at their forthcoming High Mass in London, my thighs ache, it is all that genuflecting, today and Sunday I found it really painful to genuflect. I know, the only cure is to go into strict training; jogging round the streets of Brighton, cantering over the Downs, gym membership (maybe not), all for the Sacred Liturgy.
The deacon at High Mass genuflects almost twice as much as the celebrant, and you have to be quick otherwise you genuflect in vain. I wonder if this is why older priests seem to dislike the Usus Antiquior.

Discussion point: were priests before the Novus Ordo fitter, does the newer form contribute to clerical obesity etc.?

Caritas International

I was so pleased to read about the Holy See's attempt to bring Caritas International into the Church, "not as a partner" but actually in the Church.

One of the problems is that Caritas is a federation of Catholic organisations, such as our own Cafod, that elects its General Secretary and even its Cardinal President. The Holy See can veto their nomination, as it did with Lesley-Ann Knight, but it cannot  appoint them, such vetoes tend to show the distance between the Holy See and Caritas' member organisations and so are only used in extremis.

The very nature of such elections indicates a problem. Christ did not set up a democracy when he founded the Church, demorcracy tends to consensus, and the lowest common denominator, hence the Holy See, and the Holy Father, can only only implore, counsel and admonish.

Any real reform has to come from local Churches and local bishops, simply because they control the purse strings, Caritas International is dependant on what comes in through contributions in the collection plate. Whether bishops are up for such a reform only time will tell.

The problem remains that Caritas is stuck in the Nu-Church thinking of the 1970's, Julian Filochowski's influence in England and Wales lives on, as do vestiges of Marxist Liberation theology both in those who organise aid and in those who ask for it.

Without Cafod bashing, it strikes me that if "the Church is missionary by its very nature" the local Church's Caritas groups are in the Church but not of the Church, there is no strong Catholic identity. They often partner secular groups, especially in combatting emergencies, that are strongly ambivalent to Catholic doctrine and therefore to the Church, . Although as Cardinal Murphy O'Connor assured us that the Pontifical Coincil for Health Care was "comfortable" with Cafod's ABC policy, such a policy is always ambiguous, lacks clarity and is open to misinterpretation.

In the 70s such ambiguity was very much part of Church life, the future, it seemed, was politically left leaning: tending towards the local Church, with its own brand of local Catholicism, at least as understood by the professional Catholics who are employed on rather large salaries to run such local organisations, these organisations have their own culture and tend to form their own "magic circles".

The publlic face of Caritas International meeting was dominated by the Holy Sees intervention but I suspect behind the scenes in Rome's trattorias there were serious concerns. Father Timothy Radcliffe might not have been the keynote speaker but he was dropped by the Vatican not by Caritas International.

It is not just the the political and theology left wing thinking of Caritas' leadership that needs addressing but also their involvement with Government. House sharing and long friendships with government ministers tends to lead one to suspect there is a closer alliance with political power than with the Gospel and the Magisterium.

In the age of new martyrs and anti-Christian persecution in the developing world and antipathy in the West Caritas International has a choice of either walking in step with the Church of today or walking away from it. Let us pray that the bishops of the world support the Holy See in drawing Caritas deeper into the mainstream Catholicism.

As others have pointed out the problems with Caritas can be seen in other Catholic organisation such as those dealing with Catholic education!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Institute Agrees to Take Over Landmark Wirral Church

Well done Bishop Davies!
press release

The Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury and Monsignor Gilles Wach, General Prior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, have agreed to work towards establishing a foundation of the Institute at the Church of Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton, Wirral, during the course of this year. The principal aim of the new foundation will be to provide a centre in the Diocese of Shrewsbury for the celebration of Holy Mass and the other Sacraments in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The presence of the Institute – a society of Apostolic life of Pontifical right – will also enable the church to become a centre for Eucharistic devotion and adoration, allowing the faithful to come to pray for an increase in faith and love for the Most Holy Eucharist.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “The members of the Institute will work in close collaboration with Father Philip Moor, the parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Apostles and Martyrs, since it is the wish of Bishop Davies that this shrine church will express the harmony between the two usages of the one Roman Rite.
“As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, reminded us in his 2007 Moto Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, ‘there is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal’, it is the sincere hope of the bishop that this establishment will foster reconciliation at the heart of the Church: one of the express aims of the 2007 papal document.
“Finally, the foundation will ensure that the patrimony of the church building so dear to Catholics and other members of the local community is secured and continues to bear witness to the faith and mission of the Church.”

Since Bishop Davies was first approached by the Institute last year, he has been consulting with the Holy See, his brother northern Catholic bishops, the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and English Heritage about the future of the Church of Ss Peter and Paul.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Odds and ends

Sorry. just busy lately!

Say a prayer for an Iranian woman who came to see me recently. She became a Christian just before her child was born, she was four before she had courage to take her to be baptised. Her Muslim husband beat her, her family rejected her, says she is afraid for life. She is alone frightened of every other Iranian.

Congratulations to James and Ella on the birth of their son.

Congratulations to Fr Tim on 3 million hits.

Congratulation to Fr Z on his anniversary

Congratulations Fr Sean Finneagan on the completion of his book.

And happy St Philips day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Won't wear, won't care"

The Holy Father was presented with a tiara today at the Papal Audience by a group of Catholics and Orthodox.
Will he wear it? His normal reaction when presented with a cap or some other headgear is to pop it on, but not today, I suppose cause too much fuss.
I had a friend who taught Pastoral Theology in a seminary, he quoined the phrase about seminarians, "Won't wear, won't care", obviously there is always an exception.

PS, Just below the Pope, a friend of mine, Fr Richard Biggerstaff of Lewes, has his back on NLM - just underneath the Pope. Interesting, so many of the younger priests in my diocese are experimenting with ad orientem.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two States - Two Vehicles

"The Beast" it has eight-inch-thick doors, oxygen tanks, hidden submachine guns, tear-gas cannons, Kevlar-reinforced run-flat tyres and glass that can withstand armour-piercing bullets.

"The State Landau" apparent it now has an electric heater, not just blankets to cover the knees. Oh the top goes up for added security (from the rain).

Apparently "the Beast" grounded on a ramp in Ireland and had to be abandoned. Compare - contrast!

Is it Prayer? #1

I am rather intrigued by Cardinal Koche reported words in L'Osservatore Romano on Ecclesiae Universae and the reform of the reform. Interesting that he is President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The future of Christian unity is about recovering a common Tradition with members of the ancient Churches rather than looking to a future with the 16th century Protestant ecclesial communities. One of the obstacles to this on our part is the hermeneutic of rupture, the disharmony with our common history, symbolised by liturgical rupture.

An Orthodox bishop once said to be after attending an Usus Antiquior Sung Mass, "I can recognise that as Christian prayer", with the implication he found other forms of non-Orthodox worship more difficult to recognise as Christian prayer.

One of the difficuties of the style of worship used at Mass over the last forty years is that it was difficult for many to recognise what happened in Church with what they do at home when they prayed. This dychotomy alone I suspect caused many to lapse. In most parishes Low Mass, with its profound silence, was all that was on offer, in larger parishes High or Sung Mass was usually left to the curates, with the Parish Priest hardly ever saying it. It was Low Mass that formed the spirituality of both priests and people. I don't believe the VII Fathers intended what we ended up with what we have. They certainly intend some vernacular and I suspect their real intention was some blurring of the distinction of Low and High Mass. Their intention was to open up the treasures of the liturgy and form a liturgical people who participated fully in the liturgical life of the Church, hence the abreviation of the Divine Office.

It is prayerfullness within the the liturgy, not alonside the liturgy seems to be the aim of the Reform of Reform. It was prayerfullnes that marked the Holy Father's liturgical celebration to Britain, and that prayerfulness was plainly recognisable both by Catholic and non-Catholic commentators in a way that the dancing, hand waving, wordy style of liturgy is not.

Cardinal Koche has spoken about mutual enrichment and yet Universal Ecclesiae clearly forbids modern innovations, such as Communion in the hand, female servers. Yes, there will be a new missal, including new Prefaces and commemorations of new saints etc. but the Usus Antiquior seems not to to be reformed in a radical way. So in what way will mutual enrichment take place and how will we move towards a single Roman usage which Koche speaks of? I don't think details are that important but finding someway of combining the best of the two usages is important.

As far as the Usus Antiquior is concerned, it is important to remember High Mass is normative; Low Mass though most usual, should be seen as an exception, the reforms from Pius X through to Pius XII seem to encourage the non-passive involvement of the faithful. The expectation is that the people are at least singing the Ordinary and dialogues, understanding the texts that are used, so these, not a parallel or personal devotion are  the underpinning of the Church's life. At its best this happens in the Novus Ordo. The problem is it rarely happens. Antiphons are replaced by hymns, what should be sung prayerfully is said in a rather perfunctory way, with little personal prayerful engagement. What should be a prayerful encounter with God is not, and easily slips into a celebration of the community, or worse, the celebrant.

Pope Benedict speaks often about the ars celebrandi, essentially that seems to be about celebrating Mass prayerfully, which at the very least means the priest and other minister being recollected, recognisably prayerful. It is this recollectedness that is so characteristic of the older form of Mass. What I suggest the older form can learn from the newer form is the interaction between sanctuary and nave, which now seems so much part the experience of those who attend both forms, however the older form is always recollected, the newer form is not.
to be continued

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Next Week

Next week there is the annual LMS pilgrimage to Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead. There is a High Mass at 12noon, with Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith as celebrant, I'm preaching.
Mass is followed by a picnic, if you bring one, then there is Rosary along the Rosary Way and finally Benediction.
I am taking over servers and a few singers - why not come? It is in very beautiful setting.
P.S. You don't have to belong to the LMS to come, everyone is welcome.

Toowoomba: a failure of the Episcopal Conference

I am rather uneasy about the dismissal of the Bishop of Toowoomba. As more information emerges it seems quite right that he should have been removed. Six times the Holy See asked for his resignation, five times he refused, ultimately the Pope himself had to intervene, it is the Pope's involvement I am uneasy about.

The Church is not a democracy but neither is it a multinational corporation with Pope as President, bishops are not his executives and certainly not his employees. Yes, the Pope has Universal and Ordinary Jurisdiction but its use in the dismissal of a bishop should be rare, in fact it should only happen when all else has failed. It seems in Australia the proper structures have indeed failed yet again, as it did in Brisbane where for decades Fr Peter Kennedy celebrated thousands of invalid baptisms, at least latterly with the full knowledge of the Archbishop. It took the Holy See intervention to stop it.

The first level of correction for an errant bishop should be his own presbyterate, expressing their concern and the concern of their people, first of all privately and informally, then more formally within the Council of Priests and maybe even publicly. This obviously did not happen in Toowoomba, one presumes that the majority of the Church in that diocese was compliant with Bishop Morris's views and teaching or at least intimidated by him.

The next level should be, at least from an historical perspective, some form of fraternal correction from the archbishop and other bishops of the Province. This seems to have disappeared from Catholic organisation to be replaced by the more cumbersome structure of the National Epicopal Conference. Again, in Australia this did not happen, either Bishop Morris ignored his brother bishops or they simply did not bother.

In the first millenium a bishop teaching or acting out of communion with his brother bishops would first of all be admonished by his brother bishops, if that didn't bring him to return to the Catholic Faith, he and his diocese would ultimately be excommunicated. It was only then that the Bishop of Rome might become involved.

The sad episode of the former Bishop of Toowoomba demonstrates a weakness in today's Church. In the writings of Joseph Ratzinger there is an appreciation of the importance of the local Church what Lumen Gentium calls "subsidiarity". That rests on the presumption is that the Church is essentially Catholic; that people, priests and bishops regard the Apostolic Tradition, the Catholic Faith as being important, it is only when this has broken down that the Bishop of Rome needs to intervene. The problem rests firmly and squarely on the failure of the Episcopal Conference to intervene at an earlier stage, maybe it rests on the fact that the Episcopal Conference fails to see its first function is to maintain communion with Christ and the faith of the Apostles.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tea with Muslims

I have some Muslim friends, they are Lebanese. They used to run a Kebab shop. They used to feed the hungry free, because that is what the Koran told them to do. They used to allow the homeless to sleep in the back of the restaurant until one of them trashed it because that is what the Koran says they should do.
When I go to see them Mrs H who always wears a headscarf sits down at table with us us pours the tea and bosses her husband and children about. She believe in education, she seems mildly disappointed that her youngest daughter is a speech therapist rather than a doctor or a lawyer. They love England, have a picture of the Queen on the living room wall. They are pro-Palestinian. When there is some Islamic bombing Mr H will describe them as "ignorant idiots". They are not fundamentalists, they believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah but would say that it therefore needs to be interpreted, "we cannot look at Allah directly", they might in Muslim terms be heretics but Mr H is a leading member of the local mosque which has a weekly congregation of several hundred. "First, we know God is merciful and compassionate", he will say when interpreting a particularly bloody verse of the Koran. Mr H is gently kind and compassionate.
Mr H grew up playing with Christians and is fascinated by Christianity but he is a convinced Muslim, his interpretation of Islam is very much one of Allah the merciful, Allah the bringer of peace.
When I speak of Islam and the sword, he recognises the difficulties of forced conversions, of killings and the sackings of cities but he will always stress that he interprets this as a misapplication of a spiritual struggle, a difference between words and actions, the same with the more extravagant acts of the prophet. In Catholic terms he would be a demythologising liberal, but he would say, "We just have to wonder at Allah, we cannot understanding everything, Allah is merciful but he is Allah and we are not", he would site Abraham and his inability to comprehend the ways of God.
If I talk about the Pope, who he much admires, he will smile and say, "Pope Benedict is such a good Muslim, he is a good man, obedient to God" but for Mr H I am a good Muslim because I am obedient to God, certainly much better than bin Laden who for him and his family he is a very bad Muslim. Being a good Muslim is about being good, goodness brings salvation
I have gently suggested that in Christian terms he is a Pelagian, that Christians, Catholics at least, would say Jesus Christ alone is the Way to salvation, he would smile and say, "What, we will not have tea, baklava and a cigarette in Paradise?"

I do believe that the Koran is anti-Christ, I do believe that the forced conversion of so many Christian down the centuries is diabolic but the faith of Mr and Mrs H is actually refreshing, it is gentle and has made them gentle, the preaching at their mosque seems to be about gentleness, respect for authority and avoiding television.

The Koran is unreasonable and yet thirteen centuries of human reason have been a work on it, in the case of the Hs the power of God has purified it. In Catholic terms they are invincibly ignorant and although we are willing to tease one another heavy preaching would be counter productive. The idea of "good faith" is much over used but in the case of the Hs they are in "good faith", I pray for their conversion as the pray for mine, I am right and they are wrong, of course but they are people of goodwill.
Would we pray together? No. He and she pray before they eat and so do I.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Model for "New Evangelism"?

I tried lifting this video from Fr Henry's blog, for some reason he could but I can't, it is about St John Cantius' parish in Chicago, it shows the revival of an inner city parish, it grew from 200 parishioners to 3,000. I suppose it demonstrates something of "the New Evangelisation"; the return to a strong Catholic identity, beautiful liturgy. In England it seems to have a parallel in the Oxford Oratory but I can't think of anywhere else
The PP speaks of building problems, he then introduced Mass (Novus Ordo) in Latin! people started to come, he restored the music of the Church, implementing the directives of Vatican II. He speaks of the "Liturgical Apostolate" of men founding a new community, he says, "Any parish can do what we are doing".

I'd love to discuss this with some of my parishioners, why is St John Cantius so successful, is it simply what is shown in the video, does it have something with a religious community, a large church, skilled pastors or what?

Abp Nichols on Universae Ecclesiae

The Catholic Herald reports Archbishop Nichols reaction to Universae Ecclesiae in rather dissappointing and negative terms, it seems as if we are are still in the days of Cardinal Humes, "this document does not apply to England and Wales".
I think we have a right to expect a little more enthusiasm from the country's senior Archbishop to a document from the Holy Father. It might be, I hope, bad reporting from the Herald or perhaps His Grace had not had time to think through his response but what is presented below hardly demonstrates a communion of heart and mind with the Pope.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols addressed Universae ecclesiae in the press conference covering the biannual Bishops’ Conference meeting, drawing attention to paragraphs 13, 15 and 19 of the document: which respectively assert the bishop’s authority, define that enigmatic “stable group” and spell out that the Mass in the Extraordinary Form cannot be requested by people who are against validity or legitimacy of the ordinary form or who suggest the Pope is not the Church’s supreme pastor.
When asked whether seminaries in England and Wales would teach the Extraordinary form as is recommended by the Vatican document, Archbishop Nichols answered that this depended on the phrase “where pastoral need suggests it” and said the requirement was “provisional” not “absolute”. He added that the document was the product of a “process of consultation conducted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in which every bishop around the world was asked, how this was going, and was asked to assess to the needs”. The diocese of Westminster, he continued, asked if any priests were willing to learn—and there were “plenty”—and therefore the needs were met.
He said: “Personally I don’t think it needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme because it’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life.”

Bihop's Hinsley Hall Meeting

This weeks meeting of our Bishops at Hinsley Hall, Leeds seems to be a little more significant than most, there are rumours that a quite radical reform of the Conference structure might have been instigated, ordering it more to underlining a Catholic identity and evangelisation. I understand many of the Bishops themselves are tired of the so called "Magic Circle".

One thing, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have re-established the Friday Penance of abstaining from meat on a Friday.

The law will come into force on Friday 16 September 2011, the First Anniversary of the State Visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom in 2010.

Keep the Bishops in your prayers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Virgin of Guadalupe arrives in Brighton

An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe together with rose petals from her altar arrived, in Brighton thanks to the kindness of Pablo, an American reader.
I am very grateful.

"Blogger" has been off line for almost a whole day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ethiopian Icons

I have just acquired a small collection of Ethopian icons. They are all painted in the 20th century on goat skin in the most wonderful colours, the draughtsmanship is amazining. The above, presumably the Eternal Word seems to be a photographic reproduction, though it is on goat skin, the rest are obviously painted.
Click to enlarge
The Trinity

This is St Michael "in Power". Anyone know what the inscription says?

The Eternal Word or God the Father?

I have no idea what this is, there are slight traces of gold (leaf?) on the animal being offered to the serpent.

An anonymous saint, can anyone give a name?

St George

Archangel Gabriel

Mother of God Archangels

Mother of God Archangels

St Michael with angels
I have no idea what this represents, it is the crudest, it has gold and silver paint on it, is it perhaps a between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba? The figure with the pet lion (of Judah?) is beardless, there is an inscription.

Anyone read Ge'Ez or know about Ethiopian iconography?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Pope didn't use glass

He did ride in a gondola, he did draw 300,000 to a mega Mass but on his weekend visit to Venice the Pope didn't use a glass chalice.
Venetian glass makers presented the Pope with a set of glass models of liturgical vessel, and there was speculation that these might be used in a liturgical celebration in contravention of Sacramentum Redemptionis which forbids vessel which are made of a fragile material.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Turning the other cheek

I think the world is better off with the terrorist Osama bin Laden dead. However I was a little shocked by the reaction to the Archbishop of Canterbury's words about feeling uneasy about the "taking out" of bin Laden.

Christians have a duty of bringing the voice of Christ into the world which normally doesn't want to hear it. It simply doesn't understand the Christian way of meeting injustice with mercy, violence with turning the other cheek. Some Christians themselves ignore Christ's words about his Kingdom not being of this world. Evil is never overcome by evil, even a little evil.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Case of Toowoomba

Bishop in the red tie
I am intrigued by the case Bishop William M. Morris of Toowoomba (Australia), especially now Archbishop Bathersby has backed him. He is "open" to the ordination of women, wants the Church to recognise Protestant orders, and that seems to be it.

He is hardly an intellectual heavyweight, and although he is certainly unorthodox I am not sure his position is much different from some Austrian or German Bishops and perhaps even at least half the French bishops. I am sure few of our English bishops would have followed the same line except possibly as theological speculation, maybe a few diocesan employees in the past might have regarded themselves as "thinking Catholics" and bored everyone with this stuff.

People like Bishop Morris are, I hope, a phenomena of the past. In many countries it was only men like these who were put forward after the Council. Some people tend the blame the Blessed John Paul. I suspect it was more the policy of Secretariate of State under Cardinal Casaroli, of ostpolitik fame, never to appoint anyone who might think in terms of a hermeneutic of continuity and to promote those who might favour the propositions of the Bologna School, which has lingered.

It is interesting that there should be tolerance of theological ambiguity in Europe but not in Toowoomba, possibly someome in Australia might be able to explain. In Archbishop Bathersby's own dioces there was the curious case of Fr Peter Kennedy of the St Mary's Community who's parish drifted so far away from Catholic thought and practice that he was eventually excommunicated.

As someone who knows little about the Australian Church, it so often appears to be divided sharply between orthodox and heterodox parishes and diocese in a way that is absent in Europe.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Happy St George's Day

From the Eastern Liturgy:
Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Cultivated by God, you became manifest as an honorable tiller gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtue. For you sowed with tears but reaped with gladness; in the contest you competed with your blood and came away with Christ. By your intercessions, O Holy One, all are granted forgiveness of sins.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Two images of the Blessed John Paul

This for me is one of the images of John Paul II that marked a change in the life of the Church the end of much muddle and confusion.

The other image is this one:

The beatification of Pope John Paul II reminds me of what it is to be Catholic, it is to think with the Church. For many John Paul is undoubtably "the Great", for others there might be nuanced thoughts but for all Catholics, today he is "Blessed John Paul".
Now, we are called to accept without question his Blessedness. God worked in an outstanding way through him. I could have put up other images, the vast crowds that flocked to be in his presence, the fall of oppressive regimes at his words, the inspiration he gave the young, his oustanding defence of Life, his heroic struggle with his own sickness.
As with St Peter himself there is ambiguity, but that only serves to make us thank God for his Grace which works on flawed human nature. God loves human beings not plaster statues.

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...