Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Rid of Adultery

If we get rid of adultery as part of the redifinition of marriage then of course politicians like John Major, David Mellor, Nicholas Soames, Chris Huhne, Robin Cook, Tim Yeo, Geoffrey Archer would have had no reason to be embarassed.
Another effect is that when a Catholic headteacher runs of with the caretaker, leaving spouse and children, it is going to be difficult to demand their resignation or just to sack them. At the moment Catholic teachers and other employees have a morality clause in their contract ensuring that they are in fact Catholic.
Recently the CES and Bishop's Conference issued Christ at the Centre: Why the Church Provides Catholic Schools, a defense of Catholic schools and also a setting forth of guidelines, whether these will be enforceable if marriage is redefined will be another matter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Terra Incognita

“Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalising male breastfeeding.” said Archbishop Cordileone in the Catholic Herald. I have been trying to think of some image that illustrates the law being used to make the impossible possible. The best I could come up with is Cameron as Canute turning the sea back at his command. I am not the most imaginative of people, I simply can't imagine the impossible.
Some Italian medieval author has a special place in Hell for those who change the meaning of language, to the point where it becomes meaningless - he is actually writing about monks and musicians who obscure liturgical texts by embellishments - but the result is the same language is stripped of its meaning.

One of things that fascinates me about Cordileone and the radically orthodox bishops that are being appointed under Pope Benedict is that they are able to be imaginative, and radically counter-cultural - at least as far as contemporary culture is concerned. Another example would the new Bishop of Cloyne who took on the bankers in his first public address, Bishop Egan calling for a return to, and reappraisal of Humanae Vitae would be yet another example. Again and again Pope Benedict draws out from the Christian storehouse things both old and new his theology is exciting.

Jeremiah 6:16 says, "Thus says the LORD: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."" It is really what Christian orthodoxy is about but there is also sense in which there is "cultural orthodoxy" and a culture being at ease with itself. The bright new worlds that are presented by theological and social engineers are entirely new unmapped paths, the green grass invariably turns out to be poisoned. It is simply uncharted territory, it is a land with no compass either a moral compass or any other.

Hence Cordileone can end his interview by saying, “All our detractors can do is call us names,” he says.... “Big deal if they shout at us or throw insults!” They shout and insult because they have no deep contrary arguments, what they want to put forward is without logic or reason, it is purely about fluffy feelings, advertising slogans and policies made on the hoof.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shattering the Foundation Stones

Self-loathing is a worrying thing. When people suddenly find themselves beating their breast, not so much because a past wrong or present regret comes to mind but simply because they are hate themselves then there is problem.

When bishops or priests publicly profess their detestation of the immediate past it is obvious the Church has a problem. One of good things the Holy Father has tried to deal with with Summorum Pontificum was to reconcile today with yesterday so there might be a tomorrow. The words, "what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful". These words by themelves cut us from the Pol Pot "year zero" mentallity, that seemed to suggest the Church had recreated itself around AD 1970. One of the most damaging things to spirituality and theology of the Church was to cut itself off from its history. By doing so the Church opened itself to all kinds of madness, falsity and novelty for novelty's sake.

The commandment "honour your mother and father" is followed by the statement "and you shall live long in the land" means, presumably, something about fideity to that which has given birth to you so that you may have a secure future. We have experienced the disaster in the Church when that which sustained our parents and their parents has been treated with contempt.

Today in our society we are expereincing the same thing the Church went through in the latter half of the twentieth century, the gay "marriage" issue is just one example. There is an amnesia at best, perhaps something more sinister that seems to want to strip our culture of its Christian rootedness. England has probably not been Christian since the 16th century but it has used Christian metaphors and concepts to express its sense of being and to say something about what it considers "good". It gave a language that we could some how agree giving expression to common aspirations and virtues. We imade God in our own image and likeness and identified him as an Englishman so that we could express metaphysical realities in a narrative form, understandable by all in our society..

"Being a Christian", as one public school headmaster said, "was really being an English gentlemen" (forget . mystical union with Christ, or radical discipleship, we are speaking here of Englishness). With a more  or less commonly agreed  understanding of the Christian narrative the lessons of self-sacrifice, of the obligations of the wealthy to the poor, of marital fidelity, of obedience to authority could be easily be illustrated and communicated.

In much of media debate over the redifinition of marriage, the hatred of the Christian concepts seem almost palpable. The redefinition of marriage strikes at one of the foundation stones our of society and the rejection of the Christian narrative at another.

One definition of "religion" is "to bind together" both the Christian narrative and marriage are elements that have bound us together. In a time when economic and therefore politically instability seem be looming on the horizon, the rejection of both of these seems a very wreckles and dangerous thing. At such times in history societies go in search of strong leadership, on this Holocaust Memorial Day we need to remember how easy it is for apparently peaceful societies to become vicious and murderous, think of Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda. When government becomes the arbiter of what is right and wrong the positivist totalitarian regimes of the first half of the 20th century seem to be breathing on our necks again.

Interestingly when the Church realised the mess it had got itelf into it looked to the strong leadership of JPII and Benedict XVI, these are benign leaders, I do not think secular leaders are likely to be quite so benign.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Redemptorist General Urges Irish Province to be Catholic!

Fr. Tony Flannery
Not just Fr Flannery but the whole Irish Redemptorist Province were more than ambiguous in their support of the Magisterium, in fact their support of Flannery identified them as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
”It is of immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church, which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God’s people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
I have been wary of the English Redemptorists too ever since I purchased a publication for the parish which had an advertisement promoting the ordination of women, needless to say we trashed the lot and complained to the Superior General, I am not sure we got a very satisfactory result. However now the Superior General, the Canadian Fr Michael Brehl, has issued a statement outlining the history of the the difficulties with Flannery.
 “In January, 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith raised concerns about some of the writings of Fr. Flannery which were ambiguous regarding fundamental areas of Catholic doctrine, including the priesthood, the nature of the Church, and the Eucharist,” Brehl writes. The priest “was instructed to undertake a period of prayer and theological reflection to clarify his positions on these matters. During this sabbatical period, he was instructed not to grant interviews or make public statements, and to withdraw from active involvement in the leadership of the ACP, especially since the priesthood was one of the matters on which he was asked to clarify his position. He was also instructed to withdraw from active priestly ministry during this period of prayer and reflection.”
According to Gianni Valente in his statement, Fr. Brehl “earnestly” urged his confrere “to renew the efforts to find an agreed solution to the concerns raised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith.” Finally, he invited his “Redemptorist confreres of the Irish Province to join with [him] in praying and working together in the spirit of St Alphonsus to maintain and strengthen our communion with the Universal Church.”

As I keep saying, "It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate." Pope Benedict to the Bishops of England Wales. 10th Feb. 2010.

Fake Video

Well of course I recognised it as a fake, but I was amused that this went viral and quite a few quite respectable blogs carried this video of JPII pracicing his baseball skills before a Mass somewhere in a US baseball stadium, they have now mostly been taken down.
The clues are obvious, white shoes - not red, or the reddish brown worn by JPII, Signor Gamerrelli would never produce a cassock and fascia like that.
As for the habits of the assistants, what order are they?
The informality and lack of defference too seem quite out of place.
Who can spot any other signs?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Good News: Irish Domicans

 I have found out a little more about the background to the Fr Broder's sacking from the Limerick Biblical Institute. Apparently he had been doing his own thing for years, hinting and sowing doubt, chipping away at the faith of his students, the type of think that has been happening in Catholic institutions for years but it was only when he published his book that he clearly stated his disbelief in the divinity of Christ and the historicity of scripture.

It was the Irish Dominicans themselves who decided his views where unacceptable and he should not to continue teaching under their auspices  It was the kids who did it, the power base has shifted, the younger Dominicans are taking control and simply expecting orthodoxy and questioning its absence.

If you are looking for something good in Ireland then take a look at the Dominicanss There are 16 young men in the studenate and 6 very sound and orthodox young men in the novitiate. Orthtodoxy attracts orthodoxy, where there is real teaching there is groeth

Pray for Fr Broder to receive the gift of faith, pray for the Irish Dominicans.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another Irish heretic and a rant against heresy and heretics

And yet another Irish priest has been disciplined for heresy, this time he has been sacked from teaching at the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick but this time it appears to by the Dominicans themselves. Fr Thomas Father Brodie has questioned the existence of Jesus since the Seventies but has only made his views public in a recent book.

I have been wondering what was actually happening about the renewal of the Irish Church promised in the Pope 2010 letter, the process is much slower than might have been hoped. There doesn't appear to be any radical amalgamation of dioceses, just the appointment of a new Nuncio and a slow appointing of orthodox bishops. There is supposed be a "Mission" to the Irish clergy - the bishops, priests and religious. I am sure this will happen but there seems little point if there is an "anti-Church" within the Church arguing against Orthodoxy and undermining all that might be done. Before anything else there must be a purification, a clear proclamation of Catholic Truth.

Any Renewal, or even Evangelisation, is impossible if there is a lack of clarity about what the essential message of the Church of Christ is actually proclaiming. The ambiguity of post-Vatican II Catholicism's "religious freedom" has done incredible damage, to the point of treating heresy as partner in dialogue rather than a serious violence to the Faith of the Church, revealed down the Ages by the Holy Spirit. I quite understand why Abp Lefebvre was concened about religious liberty, though I wonder if his followers through opposition to Peter are falling into it. Their arguements for dissidence are beginning to sound like those of the Irish dissident ACP!

Heresy is an attack on Truth,

I am convinced that heresy is the sin against the Holy Spirit that cannot be forgiven. It is after all the Holy Spirit who leads us into Truth. It is Holy Spirit that co-authors scripture, that keeps the Chuch free from error and validates Her sacraments. He underwrites the Church's teaching authority. He both draws men to Christ and opens their hearts to him. Heresy is a denial of all the Holy Spirit does. Tolleration of heresy leaves us orphans who are incapable of crying out "Abba, Father". It strikes at the very heart of Christian unity. It undermines Faith obviously, but it also undermines Hope and Charity because it obscures the person of Christ.

No wonder the Holy Father said to our Bishops, "It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."
Heresy and heretics are the enemies of Christ and we really must pray for the Grace to recognise them for what they are and to learn to hate them for the terrible damage they do to the Church's ability to make Christ knowable. They are our enemy and the enemies of the Church. We can be tolerant of any sin because with the truth of Christ we can recognise it but heresy tends to make truth obscure to the point where good becomes evil and evil becomes good.

Mary scourge of heretics, pray for us.

Flannery: another Failure of the Irish Bishops

I have just been reading about the Irish Redemptorist Tony Flannery, who has been for sometime been denying the priesthood [and Episcopacy] was instituted by Christ. Fannery is one the founders of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests, which claims to represent a quarter of Irish clergy.
The New York Times reports:
...the Vatican objected in particular to an article published in 2010 in Reality, an Irish religious magazine. In the article, Father Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, wrote that he no longer believed that “the priesthood as we currently have it in the church originated with Jesus” or that he designated “a special group of his followers as priests.”
Instead, he wrote, “It is more likely that some time after Jesus, a select and privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves, interpreted the occasion of the Last Supper in a manner that suited their own agenda.”
Flannery has a history of this type of teaching, in fact it seems to be very much part of the founding theology of the ACP and does not seem entirely alien to some of the statements of certain Irish Bishops, who have only recently retired.
I really do believe "The Vatican"  should not be correcting heresies of priests like Flannery, who locally might be influential but on the international scene are really quite insignificant. The fact he and priests like him have had such an influence in Ireland is yet another sign of the failure of the Irish Epicopacy. A judgement by the CDF against a priest like Flannery is an indictment against the bishops who fail to "oversee". As the successors of the Apostles it is their role to "teach and refute error", before it developes into a gangrene that affects the whole body of the Church.
The simple fact that Flannery and his ilk are suddenly shocked by an intervention from the CDF demonstrates that the Irish bisops have fallen down on the responsibilities for years. Such obvious deviations from the Catholic faith should be dealt with at a local level, the failure to both identify and react to beliefs that are contrary to faith handed on by the Apostles is a very serious reflection on the health of a local Church.
Personally, I hope for the day when Bishops are appoint locally, which is one of ACP's demands, but that can never be unless the local Church holds the faith of the Catholic Church.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Manual on the Mass

It seems as if the principles expressed in Joseph Ratzinger's 'Sprit of the Liturgy' might actually achieve some concrete form. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares announced earlier this week that the CDW are preparing a manual to help priests celebrate Mass properly. It should be published in the summer.

He reiterated the importance Vatican II gave to the liturgy, "whose renewal must be understood in continuity with the Tradition of the Church and not as a break or discontinuity." "God wants to be adored in a concrete way and it's not up to us to change it."

Interestingly he said that the Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, that it stressed the importance of Christ on the altar, reflected in Benedict XVI's celebration of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing the altar. This does not exclude the priest facing the people, in particular during the reading of the word of God. He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost.

Since the earliest days of this Pontificate there have been rumour upon rumour coming from the CDW about a document that would bring in some conformity in the celebration of the Mass and "outlaw" the worst excesses, and introduce some sense of continuity with the Missal of the Blessed John XXIII, the Mass of the Council.

The problem is there has been so much dithering over the last forty years from the CDW it seems quite unlikely a single document will even be noticed, every priest has "his" own way of celebrating Mass, which presumably reflects "his" own theology, and we have accustomed our people to mawkish sentimentality in the liturgy, that a move away from it will be tough battle. The alternative is that the personal tastes of priest, and of "liturgical directors" alienate the faithful.

I was watching the video below, I am not sure that my own faith would be strong enough to cope with either the music or the "liturgical" action, in fact I think it would have me running from the Church. Bad liturgy costs souls!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Like the Monks of Egypt

The European Court has ruled against Christians practising their faith in public by doing anything more than wearing pieces of decorative jewelry. When the Deputy Prime Minster's speech writers brand those who oppose David Cameron's social engineering policies as "bigots", meaning basically Christians, and increasingly politicians and the media present Christianity as something alien, even harmful to human dignity, to the point where not only are Christians becoming increasingly unappointable to national and EU governments, probably they are becoming unelectable too because of secular opposition. When it seems that many professions, especially those controlled by the state such as social work, education, areas of medicine and care, are becoming no-go zones for Christians. When the faith  that formed the culture and values of Europe and Britain is rejected, we must ask: what place will be left for us?

Today (OF) is the memoria of St Anthony of Egypt, his life covered the transition from the age of martyrs to the Council of Nicea and beyond. It was the age when vast numbers of young Christians seem to have left the cities, especially Alexandria, and fled to find God in the desert. It seems that the peace brought about by Constantine's conversion and the toleration that it brought about broke down the walls of the Christian ghetto but Christians  chose rather than living alongside the rest of the Empires citizenry they would live apart.

It seems that in many parts of Europe, there is often visceral hatred and intolerance of Christianity, Nick Clegg is the tip of an iceberg, behind him lies the bitter little asides on the BBC, the anti-Christian distemper of Guardian journalists, the contempt of Dawkins, the keeping at arms length of religion by the younger Royals, the continuous pushing of Christianity to edge of our society. The French are setting up the frighteningly entitled ‘the National Observatory of Secularism’, to keep "religious pathology" under surveillance, this is a mark of our brave new world but is doubtless the beginning of other similar committees throughout the West.

The hatred for Christianity will grow as our societies become increasingly divided and polarised, what will happen as unemployment and poverty rise? There is growing evidence of attacks on religious monuments and symbols, not just through the courts but acts of destruction and vandalism, presumably the next stage are attacks on people and Christians banding together for defence both intellectual and moral but also physical, after that presumably Christians living apart, like the monks of Egypt.

In today's Gospel, Jesus touches the leper, and then seems to take the lepers place having to dwell in places where no-one lived, is that our fate?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Letter of the 1,000 Priests

This is the letter which appeared in today's Telegraph from a thousand English priests:
After centuries of persecution Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country. 
Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship. 
It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time. 
The natural complementarity between a man and a woman leads to marriage, seen as a lifelong partnership. This loving union – because of their physical complementarity - is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. This is what marriage is. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.  Marriage, and the home, children and family life it generates, is the foundation and basic building block of our society.
 We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.
The signatories are here 

A Quarter of England's Priests Write

A quarter of England and Wales' priests, that is just over a thousand, have written a letter about the Tory party's redefinition of marriage. The letter appears in today's Telegraph. I am proud I am part of that quarter!
As the signatures were collected over the Christmas period, I am sure that many of the other three quarters of us simply intended to sign but didn't get round to it.

Here is the Telegraph's backstory.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dome of Home Vision

Fr Z has a story lifted from the Catholic Herald about the revival of the "Dome of Home" by the Institute of Christ the King on the Wirral.
The story seems to be same with most of the Institute's churches, which are on the edge of a large conurbation,  huge, beautiful, in need of a great deal of work but often until they get involved, closed. Their secret fom this story seems to be getting people involved. The landmark nature of their churches presumably means they receive a degree of local publicity, and especially as they have the "unique selling point" of the traditional liturgy.

There seems to be more going on than this, it seems as if it is part the Shrewsbury initiatives -like getting the Cure D'Ars heart to visit the diocese or starting the new bishop's episcopate by a Year of Prayer and Marian  devotion. There seems to be a connection with this and ladies with "brasso" and mops, with raffles and secret donations, with repairing emboidered vestments and huge jewelled monstrances. I think it is something about capturing imagination and in a sense giving people ownership.

I have been reflecting on the dancing at Liverpool; that seems have been about limiting imagination and dumbing down as opposed to "raising the mind and heart" to a new vision.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Soho Masses end: Mayfair Masses begin

Under the Bishop engagements in the Catholic Press last month there was a brief announcement that Archbishop Nichols had a meeting in Rome. Previously Archbishop Mueller expressed concern about the Soho Masses. The meeting was apparently between Mueller, Bertone and Nichols.

Both the CDF and the Secretariat of State have been very concerned about the the "measured support" given by the English Bishops to the Ordinariate; remember the Pope had to dip has hand into his own pocket to help to stop them going bankrupt whilst still in the cradle, Archbishop Nichols has until yesterday resisted making a church available to them. From the beginning the English bishops were deliberately excluded from discussions with the then Anglican bishops and the CDF in the preparations to set up the Ordinariate, and when it was finally announced, it was done from Rome and Vin was left doing an embarrassing joint interview with Rowan Williams, in which it seemed Williams was slightly more clued up than Nichols. The problem seems to have been that neither Rome nor the then Anglican bishops trusted Nichols or the other English bishops to co-operate with the plan that came directly from the Pope.

So, yesterdays announcement was apparently a major step forward for the Ordinariate, having at last a London centre but not necessarily a victory for Rome. The intriguing thing is the future of the Soho Masses. The problem hasn't been that they cater for a particular sexual minority. I am told by people who are sensitive to this type of thing that even the Oratories 11.30am Mass has more gay people than Warwick Street, the problem is not sexuality but orthodoxy and the politicisation of the Mass. Many people have been to these Masses expecting help to deal with their sexuality and found a dating agency.

 The Archbishop has announced that the Masses will end and the "ministry", that supports the Masses, will move to the prestigious Jesuit Farm St Church in Mayfair, and they will be expected to integrate with the parish. Which actually seems to suggest that actually they will take over the Farm Street evening Mass.
The Jesuits are hardly known for their liturgical acumen or their orthodoxy, their provincial novitiate house in Birmingham recently hosted A Call to Action meeting, at the moment the Jesuits of Farm Street are quite involved in celebrating the Soho Masses. When the Soho Masses were set up by Archbishop Longley as Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's Auxilliary, with the blessing of Cardinal Levada the CDF Prefect, the intention was that various safeguards and monitoring would be in place, under Archbishop Nichols the Masses have taken place but with little or no oversight. Distancing the whole scenario by placing it under the Jesuits hardly bodes well for the supervision that is necessary for such a sensitive celebration of Mass. Can we expect a change? Well yes, a more prestigious London address for the Masses but hardly a change of style or tone especially as the Archbishop explicitly says there is no change in the personnel involved. Indeed Terence Weldon, one of the organisers welcomes the move in article which suggest the Soho Masses will live on.

There has been bungling and mishandling of the announcement, that we have come to expect; the Guardian, the Independent see it as yet another phlegm-flecked homophobic attack by the Catholic Church but as I say above this really should have been presented and dealt with as matter of Catholic "authenticity" and liturgical conformity. The Archbishop himself seems deliberately to be causing this distortion, he has promised to meet with "Soho Community", he has assured them of his support. I can't quite work out what is going on. Is His Grace really trying to ensure there is care for people with a same sex attraction or is he just cocking a snook at Rome and orthodox Catholic belief? Considering his rather feather duster approach, until last weekend, to Cameron's redefinition of marriage, one has to ask what is really going on.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Years Gift from Wantage

On the 1st of January, in the Year of Our Lord 2013 the 11 sisters, formerly members of the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin, Wantage, were reconciled to Our Holy Mother the Church.
What wonderful a New Year's gift for the sisters, for the Church and for the Holy Father, whose own particular project and gift to the English Church the Ordinariate is.
I offered Mass for their intentions yesterday. Now, all the sisters need is a permanent home, and a little cash, presumably, to set it up, so pray!
The Ordinariate in England is the real touchstone of whether we are with the Benedictine "programme" or not. It touches how we see Ecclesiology: the Church's relationship with other Christians bodies, the relationship of individual Christians with the Holy See. The setting up of the Ordinariates throughout the English speaking is just one of the ways in which we have moved to a more authentic interpretation of Vatican II, recognising what we have in common, but recognising what is defficient. Yesterday, for these sisters, who were living a Catholic life "in much fullness", received what was defficient, namely visible Communion with the See of Peter.

Pray for the Ordinariate, that this year the might be given a London home, a little money.

A Happy and Blessed New Year

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...