Friday, February 19, 2016


Alright, so the Pope entered the American political arena and condemned Donald Trump as being un-Christian. I am not sure anyone was under any allusion that Trump was ever a Christian. He is an opportunist, an out and out Capitalist extremist, with certain sexual history. Condemning him however seems to be a condemnation of many frightened, and perhaps uncatechised, Americans who in one way or another agree with him, from a Pope on other moral issues famously said, "who am I to judge", this was a judgement, which the counter-cultural Trump will find a way to use to his advantage.
However I can't but be amused by the pictures of walls, Vatican walls, that have appeared on the net.

A few weeks ago when the Pope was going off somewhere on a plane surrounded by the Vatican thugii and Obama flying off somewhere on Air Force One with a huge retinue, our Queen caught the 9,17 train, with HRH, to go to Sandringham. She doesn't need that ego boosting panoply.

Many people  get worried by the Pope on a plane, especially when he is 'tired and emotional'.  Why doesn't he just get rid of the plane catch an ordinary scheduled aircraft and especially get rid of the Vatican Press pack too, it is a wall, it is a barrier. He could learn alot from Her Majesty. No-one would begrudge the Successor of the Fisherman an upgrade to business class, even if he took a secretary with him, but having a whole aircraft just seems excessive - and it is not entirely congruent with Laudato Si.

On the whole the past week or so has not been kind to our beloved Holy Father, in many ways it is because of the walls that surround him. The dialogue with Cyril in which the Papal walls kept out Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk have led the Ukranians to see the agreement as an act of betrayal by the Holy See. Peter Saunders and Marie Collins have decried the problems of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, it seems very much as if it is one of Sir Humphrey's Royal Commissions, making a fuss over an issue in order to cover one's back and do nothing, in effect putting a wall around it. Saunders and Collins are angry that Pope seems to have distanced himself from the Commission. Then there was the incident were the Pope was leaning over a boy in a wheel chair, ignoring him and was pulled, lost his balance and almost fell on the boy and lost his temper. It tends to give credence to other instances of anger coming from Sta Marta, people seem afraid of offending him, it is another wall but then rumours multiply behind walls in secret cities. No-one wants to be cast outside the walls into outer darkness like Cardinal Burke, or even the poor Franciscans of the Immaculate. With Pope Francis there are certainly those within the wall, safely protected like Mgr Ricci or the German Bishops - at least those of a liberal outlook.

 Increasing on this last visit the Pope seems have stumbled, during that strange 'private' visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe, where the image was turned away from the people and the Pope sat in the corner of her window he again fell into a chair to the gasps of the assembled faithful in the packed Church who had come to watch the brief 'private' visit. There is increased rumours in the rumour mills of the Vatican about his health and increasingly idiosyncratic behaviour.

What I am trying to say is that there are walls as robust as those which have both protected Popes and imprisoned them for ages. I agree with Holy Father, they need to come down both the real walls, which as far as Vatican reports say, there are only two or free refugee families hosted by the Vatican outside its walls and also the psychological and moral walls, many of which have been erected over the past couple of years.


JARay said...

What a good idea! The Pope should just get on an ordinary plane with a Business class ticket and take a Secretary with him. Once again Fr. Lombardi has had to "explain" what the Pope meant! I only wish that he could keep his mouth shut! I shudder to think what his next comment will be!

Joao said...

Could a mad Pope be deposed ?

Probably not, especially if his madness benefited one of the Vatican's factions.

John Fisher said...

The Pope is all over the place. Did he say "Prawn" or "pawn in the interview? Every country has the right to defends it borders and the inability to defend borders is what destroyed the Roman Empire and many other empires and will be the undoing of Christian Europe. The Followers of Mohammed model their life in his. That is why they are dangerous to themselves and others and must be excluded.

Paul Hellyer said...

Is the Pope mad? Is he a good shepherd or giving a bad example with non Catholic remarks and actions? Need I list them?

Fr Ray Blake said...

...And yet as Christian we live according to the Gospels not according to what is politically expedient. In fact we are called to welcome the stranger.

Jacobi said...

I have supported Trump. His religion and that of circa 25 pals I mix with on Tue/Wed hobby groups when at lunch we discuss our hobby and so other many things in passing. I don't hide my Catholicism but would never raise it other than incidently. I am regarded with tolerant amusement as such.

Trump is a politician doing his job, raising frustrations felt by so many people. I do not criticise Francis directly, but he does not look well, tired, unsteady, something, as a non-medic, I know a bit about!

I'm sorry for the feelings of 3 million Ukrainian Catholics, but Ecumenism with the Orthodox Churches goes beyond that.

Walls have their places, sometimes appropriate, sometimes not. I think that is up to the locals to decide.

JARay said...

We are certainly called to welcome the stranger but consider the words of Jesus when he says "no one who asks his father for bread would expect to receive a stone". In a similar way if the stranger who comes to my door is a snake, should I welcome it in?

Pelerin said...

Exactly Father (at 7.51) I get the impression that the Americans have forgotten that they are all descended from immigrants - apart from those whose land they swapped for beads and trinkets all those years ago.

Nicolas Bellord said...

The view from Guatemala: The beastly Mexicans have erected a border fence to prevent Guatemalans from getting into Mexico. On average they deport 60,000 every year back into Guatemala.

Yes one has to welcome strangers but when the numbers become excessive one is entitled to ask whether there is not another and better solution to the problem.

John Fisher said...

Trump the "non-Christian" unlike the Pope said he would stop Christianity being attacked. We tend to feel wee have to justify the Pope but on a human level I cannot stand his character and lack of profound thinking.
Trump is a baptised Christian. He is a Presbyterian and might not be a good one... "but who am I to judge."
Trump said "He'll be glad I'm President when ISIS attacks the Vatican"... Rome and the Vatican have been attacked by Moslems troops in the past... walls are very helpful.
"Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come and how they come in, as a nation-state, or a city-state. And as a result, the United States has a right to do that as well."
The Pope told Mexicans to stay in Mexico and build a just and prosperous society so they don't leave.

Pelerin said...

I can't help noticing in the photo of the queen getting on a train, that there is absolutely nobody around her and I expect her carriage was private and separated from the rest of the train. She did not have to fight to get on a crowded train like so many commuters do daily so I would not regard her journey as actually being on a scheduled train! Of course she needs protection though I am surprised there was nobody to help her on. If she is able to get on and off those trains without help then they are obviously better designed than some of those down here!

I don't begrudge Pope Francis comfort in travelling either although I smiled at the comment I saw on a blog that suggested someone should slip a sleeping pill into his pre flight drink!!

Liam Ronan said...

Francis' behaviours, if they are to be attributed to a physical/mental malady, seem at times to me to coincide with the symptoms of dementia. If such be the case, it may serve the purpose of others (gays, Masons, the financially corrupt, etc.)to prop-up this pope as long as possible in order to precipitate whatever changes they themselves seek to make within the Church.

Whatever the cause of Francis' bizarre behaviour, we must pray much for him.

Virginie said...

Father, the walls in the Vatican should stay. They will undoubtedly be needed in the near future for the same reason they were historically built.
As far as the Pope judging goes, he would have been qualified to judge homosexual behavior and to a certain extent homosexuals themselves. But he has no competency to judge, without hearing his confession, Mr. Trump. So far as many Catholics can tell, he is not any kind of Christian, certainly not a Catholic Christian, which has always been the only true Christianity in existence.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Somebody has said that the walls around the Vatican date to the ninth century. This may be right but I suspect the current walls are much more recent as they appear to owe something to the ideas of Vauban as the design is clearly an attempt to deal with the advent of cannon fire so as to deflect it. I would date them to the 18th century. Perhaps somebody more knowledgeable can tell us more.

William Tighe said...

See this:

"Later, more extensive circumvallation was effected under Pope Pius IV (reigned 1559 — 1565), when Leo's walling was broken in places. Three further gates had been opened in the walls."

John Fisher said...

Fort Vol. 2 1976
Planning versus fortification: Sangallo's project for the defence of Rome
Simon Pepper
Since 1527, when Rome had been captured and sacked by the mutinous soldiers of Charles V, it had been clear that the defences of the Papal capital were hopelessly outdated. The walls of the Borgo (the Vatican precinct) were constructed during the pontificate of Leo IV (847-855): those of Trastevere and the left bank, enclosing by far the largest part of the city, dated from the reign of the Emperor Aurelian (AD270-75) [1]. Impressive both for their length and antiquity, these walls were poorly maintained and fundamentally unsuitable for defence against gunpowder
artillery. In 1534 the Romans were once again forcefully reminded of their vulnerability when a large Turkish fleet moored off the Tiber estuary. Fortunately the hostile intentions of the Turks were directed elsewhere: after taking on fresh water they sailed north to raid the Tuscan coastline.
But in the immediate aftermath of the Turkish scare the newly elected Paul III committed himself to an ambitious scheme of re-fortification. Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, advised by many of the leading architects and soldiers employed by the Pope, was commissioned to submit design proposals [2].Father Alberto Guglielmotti, the nineteenth-century historian of the Papal armed forces, tells us that Sangallo and his consultants decided to replace the Aurelian wall with a new line of works
defending the developed areas on both banks of the river. The 18000 metre Aurelian circumference was to be reduced by half, a decision which is not difficult to understand when one glances at a contemporary map of the city. Mediaeval Rome was crowded into the Campo Marzio district — the ancient Field of Mars in the bend of the river — with village scale outposts in the Borgo, Trastevere and around the Lateran Palace. The fifteenth and sixteenth century additions extended
north towards the Piazza del Popolo and east to the hi I Is—collectively known as the monti - where many Popes, among them Sixtus V, attempted to promote urban development. However, mediaeval and renaissance Rome together occupied only a small proportion of the fortified area. Other European cities contained sizeable areas of open land within their walls; but none rivalled Rome's 'urban countryside' dotted with ruins, farms, vineyards, villas and the strongholds of the nobility. Obviously this underdevelopment supported the case for drastic reduction of the circumference.
Sangallo's team proposed a new circuit fortified by 18 immensely powerful double-flanked bastions, spaced at intervals of about 600 metres, supported by intermediate gun platforms (a type of blunt headed bastion). Guglielmotti's description is based in part upon accounts published by contemporary theorists, the best being that of Francesco de Marchi [3], and, in part, upon a Sangallo sketch showing an idealised version of the arrangement. Very little of this scheme was actually built. After 1542 it was decided to concentrate resources on the fortifications of the Borgo — the Papal enclave on the right bank.

RichardT said...

Pelerin said "I can't help noticing in the photo of the queen getting on a train, that there is absolutely nobody around her and I expect her carriage was private and separated from the rest of the train."

She was travelling First Class on a train leaving London mid-morning - it's not going to be busy.

RichardT said...

To be fair to the Vatican, I've been told that these special planes actually make money, because they charge the journalists to be on them.

So perhaps the Pope's controversial remarks are just a way of selling more tickets?

But yes, Father's point is right - whilst claiming to be open, Francis is actually building up human walls around himself so that only the chosen ones get through.

John Kearney said...

Until recently I would kneel for Holy Communion. There was no bench to knell on just the floor. Recently however I found it difficult to get to my feet then a few Sundays ago when I rose I did a little jig to keep on my feet. Realising kneeling was now beyond me I now stand and take on the tongue. I am about the same age as Francis so I think it is about time Francis listened to me. He cannot behave like a young er man and if he finds himself in situations where his knees or his body cannot cope he should have the sense to avoid those situations. He is also at an age where worry can lead too easily to depression and a shorter span of life so when he finds himself on a plain talking off the cuff and reflecting afterwards and indeed worrying afterwards that what he said was not quite what others expected he should refrain from talking on planes. There is not mental aberration in Francis, just old age and he has to realise that.

Jacobi said...

@ JK.

I would not disagree with what you say.

A Scottish Cat said...

Did you mean to say 'tired and emotional', Father? Is that not a euphemism for drunk?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I meant tired as in 'tired'and emotional as in'emotional' in the sense of having received the adulation of the masses, I suppose for a lesser man it could be intoxicating.

Liam Ronan said...

Forgive me if this question (and the following personal sentiment) is born out of total ignorance but, does the Pope actually pray the Angelus aloud during his appearances before the assembled crowd on St. Peter's Square?

I should love one day to see the Bishop of Rome appear for an assemblage of the Faithful in St. Peter's Square and, in full view of the media cameras, boldly and unabashedly lead the crowd in the recitation of the Nicene Creed.

Fr Ray Blake said...

He says it at the end of a short alocution.

gemoftheocean said...

I wish he'd just stay behind his own wall!

David O'Neill said...

Mea maxima culpa! But I have sai "Every time the Pope opens his mouth 'off the cuff' some fool speaks" Doesn't he realise that nowadays the press record every word he utters & then use (or abuse) it to their own ends?

John Fisher said...

It turns out the Popes mentioning of the myth of the sisters in the Congo and contraception later retold as Bosnia is perfect example of his fallibility when he sprukes his own opinions. Are well all so silly we can't see that this Vatican II age is bit like North Korea? Our fearless leader comes out with silly things and we all feel obliged to dance and find deep wisdom where none exits. Can't we see this pope embodies a deep disconnect caused I think by his being a product of the 1960's.
The liturgical, historical, theological and moral disconnect because we are told and forced to never look further back than 1960. How I wish we could see the way of thinking we have is the problem. We as well as the Pope are all complicit in this great mediocrity that is our era. War is coming and Islam will add its violence to our eras wish to cut itself from all that is good even the notion of what good is.

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