Friday, 30 April 2010

Press release from ICEL

This just sent to me from ICEL:
30 April 2010


The Bishops of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL] join me in welcoming the announcement of the approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the definitive English text of the Third Edition of The Roman Missal. This news ushers in the final phase of preparation for the publication and implementation of the Missal in our eleven member Bishops’ Conferences and the many other territories where the sacred liturgy is habitually celebrated in English.

It also brings to a conclusion the long and complex process by which the translation has been prepared, a process in which the Bishops of the Commission and the Bishops of the English-speaking world, together with the members of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee, the ICEL Secretariat and the translators and consultants who are our closest collaborators have worked together with national conferences and the various organs of the Holy See to ensure that we have a text of the highest quality that can truly be called a work of the Church.

Upon receipt of the definitive text and in accordance with established procedures, the ICEL Secretariat will prepare the electronic files of the Missal, which will assist Conferences in the task of communicating the text to their publishers. ICEL has also produced an interactive DVD 'Become One Body, One Spirit, in Christ' [], which will be of great assistance in the catechetical process that will accompany the reception of the new text. The date for the publication of The Roman Missal and its implementation in our territories is a matter to be determined by Bishops’ Conferences in conjunction with the Holy See.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have put their gifts at the service of the Church in the great endeavour of producing the new translation, men and women whose faith is matched by the refinement of their scholarship.

+Arthur Roche
Bishop of Leeds


For further information, please contact the ICEL Secretariat
Congratulations to all at ICEL for their sterling work and determination in producing a fine translation of the Missale Romanum which will be a great consolation and joy for priests and people who wish to pray at Mass using a faithful translation of the texts.

BTW The press release came to me from iCel via an iPhone - or is that an iCelPhone ;-)

Vox Clara press release

Thanks to Rocco Palmo, we have the text of a press release issued yesterday by Vox Clara. The important thing is that there is a Protocol number for the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship confirming the final text. As the Press Release does not seem to be elsewhere on the internet, I give it here for your convenience:
April 28-29, 2010

The Vox Clara Committee met at the Pontifical North American College in Rome from April 28-29, 2010. This was the nineteenth meeting of this Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world. The Vox Clara Committee was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell, Sydney (Australia). The participants in the meeting were Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, Emeritus Mobile (USA), who serves as First Vice-Chairman; Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Emeritus Westminster (England), who serves as Secretary, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Chicago (USA), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bombay (India), who serves as Second Vice-Chairman; Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Emeritus New Orleans (USA); Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Ottawa (Canada); Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Emeritus Kumasi (Ghana); Archbishop Kelvin Felix, Emeritus Castries (Saint Lucia), and Bishop Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Raphoe (Ireland). Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia (USA), who serves as Treasurer, is also a member of the Committee, but was not present for the meeting.

The members were assisted in their work by the following advisors: Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. (USA), Reverend Dennis McManus (USA), Monsignor Gerard McKay, Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (England), and Monsignor James P. Moroney (USA), Executive Secretary. The customary assistance of officials of the Congregation, led by Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary, was also appreciated.

The meeting opened with the happy announcement that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had completed its work of reviewing the English language edition of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia. Following careful consideration of the advice provided over the past eight years by the members of the Vox Clara Committee, a final text was arrived at by the Congregation, confirmed by a decree dated 25 March, 2010 (Prot. 269/10/L) and signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect, and Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary to the Congregation.

The Committee celebrated the occasion by hosting a luncheon with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, on the first day of the meeting. On this happy occasion, the Holy Father addressed the group:

[... the text of the Holy Father's address]

The second day of the meeting was spent in a study of issues which had emerged in the course of the development of the confirmed text of the Roman Missal, including a review of efforts to assure internal consistency in the translation of deprecatory language and other specialized terms, the poetic and musical dimensions of the text, and its suitability for proclamation. An extended review of various programs developed throughout the English speaking world for the effective implementation of the new translation was also undertaken.

At its closing session, commemorative medals were presented by the Cardinal Prefect on behalf of the Holy See to each of the members and advisors of the Committee. He expressed the thanks of the Congregation for the work of the members and advisors over the past nine years.

Cardinal Cañizares also announced the intention of the Congregation to continue the work of the Vox Clara Committee in advising the Holy See on matters pertaining to the English language translation of liturgical books. The Prefect also expressed his gratitude to Cardinal George Pell, chairman of the Committee, for his willingness to continue as Chairman of the Committee.

On behalf of the members and advisors, Cardinal Pell expressed his appreciation for the Prefect’s words and reiterated the gratitude of the Committee to the Cardinal Prefect and his predecessors for their continuing encouragement of the project. He also thanked the Executive Secretary, Monsignor James Moroney, for his outstanding contribution over the many years since the Committee began its work. The Chairman also expressed his gratitude for the participation of other officials and Superiors of the Congregation throughout the years, most especially Father Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary to the Congregation, who has played an indispensable role in facilitating the work of the Vox Clara Committee.

The meeting closed with the Collect “For the Church” from the new Roman Missal:

O God, who in your wonderful providence
decreed that Christ’s Kingdom
should be extended throughout the earth
and that all should become partakers
of his saving redemption;
grant, we pray, that your Church
may be the universal sacrament of salvation,
and that Christ may be revealed to all
as the hope of the nations and their Savior.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

CIEL UK Annual High Mass and Conference

The Annual High Mass and One-day Conference of CIEL UK will be on Saturday 29 May at the London Oratory. There will be solemn High Mass at 11am. (The photo above is from last year's Mass, taken by Brother Edward of the London Oratory.) In a departure from previous annual Masses, the Mass setting will be Gregorian chant rather than polyphony. It is also hoped to include a motet composed by James MacMillan. The choir will be directed by Patrick Patrick Russill, the highly distinguished Director of Music at the London Oratory.

The Conference will then take place at 2.30pm in St Wilfrid’s Hall at the Oratory, chaired by Lord Gill. (Entry £5.) The speakers are Dr James MacMillan CBE, and the Very Rev Richard Duffield.

I wrote recently about an excellent address given by James MacMillan to the Thomas More Institute. His lecture at the CIEL Conference is sure to be of great interest as he is speaking about Liturgical Music pre- and post-Vatican II.

Fr Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor (postulator) of the Cause of John Henry Cardinal Newman, will give a short address on the status of Cardinal Newman’s cause. That is, of course, a topical subject given the forthcoming beatification of Newman.

The afternoon will conclude with Solemn Benediction in the Little Oratory, followed by a reception. Nicole Hall’s “Granny” books will be offered for sale by Peter Hall at this time.

Archbishop Peter Smith appointed to Southwark

Archbishop Peter Smith has been appointed as Archbishop of Southwark.

You can see some basic information at his entry on Catholic Hierarchy website. Archbishop Smith was ordained a priest for the Southwark Archdiocese in 1972 and served as Rector of St John's Seminary, Wonersh. He was appointed as Bishop of East Anglia in 1995 and Archbishop of Cardiff in 2001.

I prepared this post last night after receiving the Ad Clerum by email. Fr Philip Glandfield, the Archbishop's Secretary for Archbishop McDonald, introduced this on an "opt in" basis and I must say that I found it a very welcome development. The news was embargoed until 11am today so the post was scheduled to go up then.

Now the announcement has appeared on the Vatican Bollettino. Here is my translation of the notes given there:
His Grace Mgr Peter Smith was born in London, in the Archdiocese of Southwark on 20 October 1943. He studied at the secondary school of Clapham College or the Xaverian Brothers. Having obtained a degree in civil law he entered the interdiocesan seminary of Wonersh where he followed courses in philosophy and theology. Following this, he was sent to Rome and obtained a doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas.

He was ordained on 15 July 1972 for the Archdiocese of Southwark.

Returning to his own country he was Professor of Canon Law at the major seminary of Wonersh, working at the same time as Officialis of the matrimonial tribunal of the Archdiocese of Southwark. In 1984 he became Parish Priest of St Andrew's in Thornton Heath, London. In 1985, he was appointed Rector of the interdiocesan seminary of Wonersh.

Elected Bishop of East Anglia on 21 March 1985, he was consecrated on 27 March.

On 26 October 2001 he was promoted as Metropolitan Archbishop of Cardiff.

Currently he is Vice President of the Episcopal conference of England and Wales and President of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship within the same Conference.
(I found it amusing that the Italian text has "Thornton Heat". That is in fact how Italians pronounce the name of that corner of my childhood home of Croydon. We of course used to call it "Forton Eef".)

There is an announcement at the Southwark website. Archbishop Smith speaks with warmth of his time in Wales and adds:
However, my sadness at leaving is tempered by the prospect of returning to my roots in South London and going home to the Archdiocese in which I was born and for which I was ordained a priest in 1972. I am very much looking forward to that and to serving the people, religious, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark as their Bishop. It is good to be returning home, although I feel there is part of me which will always have a “second home” in Wales.
There is also an announcement at the website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

Archbishop Smith will be installed as Archbishop on Thursday 10 June.

Linacre Centre Conference

The Linacre Centre sends news of its forthcoming conference in Maynooth. The line-up of speakers is very impressive but I hope the others won't mind if I single out the presence of Fr Paul Mankowski SJ. It is a rare opportunity to hear this learned, powerful, and witty speaker on this side of the Atlantic.

Here is the press release:
Sexual and reproductive issues are very much in the news, and high on the political agenda. The Linacre Centre in Oxford ( is bringing a diverse panel of expert speakers to Maynooth this summer from 16-18 June for a conference on Fertility, Infertility and Gender.

The interdisciplinary conference will explore a range of topics including marriage and celibacy, homosexuality, contraception and STD prevention, IVF and alternative forms of assisted conception. The conference will be opened by the Australian bishop/bioethicist Bishop Anthony Fisher OP; other international speakers include Fr Paul Mankowski SJ, Elizabeth Marquardt, Prof. Luke Gormally, Prof. David Paton and Prof. Alexander Pruss. Dr Kevin O'Reilly will look at Humanae Vitae and chastity, while Dr Phil Boyle will explain NaproTechnology, an ethical alternative to IVF.

It promises to be a very lively occasion, and a timely chance to reflect on a truly Catholic approach to sexual/reproductive ethics. Queries to Gwen McCourt at, or on 00 44 1865 610212.
At the Linacre Centre website, there is further information, including the proceedings of the 2007 conference, and a flyer and booking form for the Conference.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Abuse victims won't play along with the "Catholics only" line

An article in the New York Times today reports a proposal in New York to raise the statute of limitations for crimes of child abuse so that there is a 40 year limit starting from the age of 18. The NYTasks:
Should it be possible to sue the city of New York for sexual abuse by public school teachers that happened decades ago? How about doctors or hospital attendants? Police officers? Welfare workers? Playground attendants?
Well yes. That's how it works. Have a chat with your local Bishop for the details.

The proposal was originally an effort to expand accountability for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy but has quite rightly extended to cover abuse by people in other walks of life. In this context, the NYT story is no longer one of cover-up and denial of responsibility but of "a collision of powerful civic values".

The excuses are all now tumbling out. The New York City Mayor is concerned about the potential impact for taxpayers. Welcome to the real world, Mayor. Catholics in the pews have seen billions of dollars, donated by them over decades, paid out in compensation to victims of clerical abuse and episcopal failure. It is tough but we have to recognise responsibility.

The State Association of Counties has issued a memo of opposition citing the problem of "significantly aged and clouded” evidence. Well, as we have learnt in the Church, extending the statute of limitations is necessary because the nature of the crime means that it may take a long time before a person is ready to confront the abuse that they have suffered in the past.

The New York State School Boards Association has said that the revelation of past misdeeds would provide no extra protection for children. They should talk to Safeguarding Officials and good lay Catholics who know that the revelation of past crimes is a very strong motivation to provide robust safeguarding procedures.

Although the bill revising the statute of limitations was not voted on last year, it has gained a new lease of life from the continuing coverage in the New York Times and elsewhere, of problems within the Catholic Church, particularly regarding the covering up of abuse.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, in Finland, the Lutheran Church Council is receiving dozens of contacts from people who were victims of sexual abuse within the Church or related revival movements. (These allegations do not relate to ministers within the Church but to other workers or volunteers.) The report in the international edition of Helsingen Sanomat says that the Lutheran Bishop Häkkinen believes that
the victims have felt encouraged to speak out now about their experiences in the wake of the extensive coverage in the press of pedophilia scandals in the Roman Catholic Church
(Press reports of another scandal within Finland have also raised consciousness of the problem.)

The furore directed against the Church in recent months is having unintended but positive consequences. It is right that victims of abuse from people not connected with the Catholic Church should call for the same accountability in other walks of life. The abuse of minors within the Church is a shame and a disgrace for us. But those who have been abused in schools, care homes and other secular institutions have no reason to swallow the propaganda that this is an exclusively Catholic problem.

The standards by which the Church has been held to account are now well known and publicised. The standard excuses have been thoroughly trashed. We know what needs to be done and have set about the task. It is now time to apply these same principles more generally instead of fostering the myth that this filth is confined to the Catholic Church. The victims certainly won't buy it.

Family and Youth Concern Spring 2010 Bulletin

The Family Education Trust (Family and Youth Concern) has just published its Spring 2010 Bulletin online. You can also receive a printed copy by joining Family and Youth Concern; standard annual membership is £10. I warmly encourage you to support this excellent organisation. You can find out more at the FYC website.

Chant Workshop in Middlesbrough

There will be a chant Workshop at St Alphonsus' Church in Middlesbrough on Saturday 8 May from 9.30am to 5pm. I mentioned St Alphonsus before in connection with their outstanding liturgical programme for Christmas.

Here is some information from the organisers about the day:
In this full-day workshop we will learn and sing some of the most beautiful chants in the repertory of Gregorian Chant, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and based around the context of a Sung Mass. We will immerse ourselves in the sound, technique and language of this ancient musical style, working toward an authentic and beautiful performance at the end of the day. We will also discover the links between Chant and Polyphony.

The music we will study in the workshop will include:
  • Mass IX (Cum Iubilo)
  • The Propers of the BVM
  • Marian Processionals
  • Gregorian Hymnody
  • Marian Polyphonic Motets
All materials (an introduction to Gregorian Chant, scores, helpful resources and Tea and Coffee) are included in the cost of the day. Beginners and more advanced singers are welcome. Registration Fee: £5.00 – No Fee for Students. Please bring a packed lunch.

To register please contact us at or telephone (01642) 245043.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Talk for parents on teaching chastity

Robert Colquhoun and Greg Clovis will be speaking on Tuesday 11 May at Farm Street. The evening is being arranged to help parents talk to their own children about the gift of sexuality and the virtue of chastity. 6.45pm for 7pm start. There are full details at Robert's blog "Love Undefiled" at the post Parents' Talk.

You can view the powerpoint presentation from one of Robert's previous talks: Finding Love in a Superficial Age; he has two further relevant articles:
Parents as primary educators of their children
Teaching parents about chastity

Holy Father's address to Vox Clara

At the end of the lunch with officials of the Vox Clara Committee, the Holy Father gave a short address in which he praised their work, and welcomed the news that the new translations would soon be ready for publication.

Pope Benedict also spoke of the need for the changes to be introduced sensitively and of the "opportunity for catechesis". There is an important nuance in this. People who are well catechised already will not need to have catechesis to be able to accept the texts. But for the very many in the anglophone world who have been poorly catechised, the new translations will present an excellent opportunity for catechesis, especially on the Mass as sacrifice; something that the new translations present much more faithfully, in accord with the original texts.

Here is a link to the Holy Father's address.

Holy Father & Vox Clara celebratory lunch

Following Cardinal Pell's announcement to the National Catholic Register that the new ICEL translations would receive formal approval today, this notice has appeared on the Vatican Bollettino today:
Alle ore 13.15 di oggi, nella Casina Pio IV, il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI pranza con i Membri del Comitato "Vox Clara", Comitato di consulenza su questioni circa la celebrazione del Rito Romano in lingua inglese, annesso alla Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti.

At 13.15 today, in the "Casino Pio IV", the Holy Father Benedict XVI will lunch with the members of the Vox Clara Committee, the Committee of consultation on questions regarding the celebration of the Roman Rite in the English language, annexed to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. (my translation)
I think that this is Pope Benedict's gentle way of saying "HUZZAH!" By the way, "casino" here means "little house". They won't be playing blackjack.

New ICEL translation to be approved today

Edward Pentin, who reports for the National Catholic Register and for the Catholic Herald, reports this morning  that the Congregation for Divine Worship will approve the new ICEL translation of the Missal later today.

Must check the Bollettino before going out for lunch today...

The texts of the Ordinary of the Mass have already received recognitio so this decision would relate to the proper texts of the Missal. Cardinal Pell told the Register yesterday that although formal approval would be given today, the newly translated Missal would not be available until 2011.

Now I am old enough to remember the last time we had a new translation. For several years, priests were using bits of paper with new texts until finally the printed Missals were published. Nowadays it would be easy enough to produce good quality, dignified pdfs which could be discreetly inserted into the altar Missal. Would it be too much to allow priests to use the texts of the Eucharistic Prayers and other prayers said by the priest alone? For one thing, it would help people to become gradually used to the new translation. For another, it would be a great relief to be able to pray the actual texts in a reasonably accurate translation rather than the defective and erroneous versions we have had to use for far too long.

Flickr set for Parkminster

129 photos from St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster, taken in August 2006, now in a new Flickr set. Enjoy!

Pontifical Mass - child's eye view

Carolina Cannonball, The Crescat writes of the Pontifical High Mass at Washington from the perspective of a mum who noticed particularly the reactions of the children who were there:
If we can think of it in terms of our children, our future, then we owe it to our faith to keep our churches beautiful and our masses solemn. The look of wide eyed wonder on their faces said it all.
I have certainly noticed myself that babies and young children at a sung Mass in the usus antiquior seem to be much more contented that when I am earnestly reading texts in English through a microphone.

She goes on to describe the Great DC Blognic to which she took her young son because she wanted him to meet good, normal priests and seminarians. In a succinct and direct way, she explains how families can promote vocations:
I have one rule for my family... they must never bash The Church or say anything negative about a priest or other member of a religious community in front of my son. So far they have respected my wishes. Whether my son becomes a priest or religious is between him and Christ, but I will do my damndest in the meantime to not persuade his opinion in a negative direction.
Oh, and don't miss the annual Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards contest.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

BBC coverage of Anjoum Noorani

Above you can see the full coverage of Anjoum Noorani at the BBC website as of 3pm 10.45pm today. (click to enlarge)

Today's FCO Papal Visit news

On Sunday, the Telegraph broke the news of the FCO's "error of judgement" memo insulting the Pope. Yesterday, it was revealed that the junior official who circulated the document was Stephen Mulvain and we got to see the "Stakeholder Positioning Chart". Today's news is that the more senior official who authorised the sending of the memo was Anjoum Noorani (right).

I wonder what tomorrow will bring? It is comforting in a way, to see that the FCO is challenging the Vatican Press Office in incompetence at news management. To be fair, it should be said that the Sala Stampa is improving rapidly: this would probably be called a "learning curve" over at King Charles Street.

For details on today's development, see the following articles:

Daily Telegraph: Diplomat disciplined over Pope memo is named
Daily Mail: Revealed, the papal visit chief who wrote memo mocking Pope

Noorani's role is "Head of the Papal Visit Team" which puts the FCO in a quandry. They said that a junior worker was responsible for the offensive memo. Have they put a junior worker in charge of the Papal Visit Team? Is Mr Noorani just a step up from Mr Mulvain in the chain of scapegoating?

The Telegraph says:
The Foreign Office declined to comment on the religious beliefs of the members of the Papal Visit Team.
According to the Mail,
Mr Noorani is understood to be British Pakistani - but colleagues say he is not a Muslim.
Both, of course, could be entirely true; the FCO staidly refusing to comment while colleagues, trying to be helpful, desperately deny something that would blow the story up further.

According to these reports, there were four people in the team. It would be interesting to know who the other two were. The Mail reports that
None of the Foreign Office's Pope memo team is understood to be Catholic, according to senior sources within the Church. (my emphasis)
There seems to be an ambiguity here as well, since the Telegraph version says:
Senior members of the church have described Mr Noorani and his team as having “not the slightest understanding of Catholicism”. None of the four-strong group is thought to be a practising Catholic. (my emphasis)
So there is plenty more to come out and I think we can probably expect further news over the next few days.

Apparently a "senior source" in the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said that this whole affair shows that the government is not taking the visit seriously. I'm not sure about that. The FCO website has a chain of pages as follows: Home › About us › What we do › Working in partnership › Working with stakeholder groups › Working with faith groups (>>> predictably, the chain continues with Working with Muslim communities.) On the Working with faith groups page, we read:
UK faith groups and religious leaders have a strong interest in international affairs and can play an important part in delivering our objectives of preventing and resolving conflict, respect for human rights and promotion of a low carbon high growth global economy. They have particular expertise and networks, which can supplement and complement our own information and contacts base.
So I think it is probably right to say that this team are clueless about Catholicism and insensitive to our religious beliefs. Nevertheless, they probably see the Papal visit as an opportunity for the Catholic Church to "play an important part" in delivering their objectives.

Oxford Oratory plans

The Oxford Oratory has a website devoted to its campaign to raise funds for an ambitious programme of works which include providing more rooms to respond to the growing number of men who wish to join them, a new library to house our collections, a new Oratory Chapel with a baptistery and cloister. This is all in addition to the restoration of the beautiful Church of St Aloysius. I have fond memories of St Aloysius from my time as an undergraduate and it is wonderful to hear that it is thriving so under the care of the Oratorians.

Do have a browse round Oxford Oratory: Reaffirmation and Renewal for pictures of work in progress and work being planned.

If you have some money to give for such a worthy project, there are buttons for UK and US donors.

Bishop Slattery's magnificent homily

In August 2007, Bishop Edward James Slattery visited Merton College Oxford, to attend the training conference and to celebrate Pontifical High Mass at the close of the proceedings, having humbly accepted some tuition himself. I had the privilege of meeting him at the conference. Last year, he announced that he had returned to the practice of celebrating Mass in his Cathedral in Tulsa, Oklahoma, facing towards the East.

In 2004, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic gave a summary of all that Bishop Slattery had done to combat and prevent the scourge of child abuse, leading to praise from the Child Abuse Network in particular for his co-operation with the civil authorities. In addition to these various actions, Bishop Slattery ordered a Holy Hour of Reparation to be held at the same time in all the Churches of his diocese.

He was therefore an ideal choice for celebrant of the Solemn High Mass at the National Shrine at Washington DC last Saturday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict. He stepped in at short notice in place of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who has recently been mired in controversy over his letter to Bishop Pican.

It turns out that he was not only an ideal choice because of his commitment to the Sacred Liturgy and his excellent record of action in relation to safeguarding children: his magnificent sermon has received praise from coast to coast. It deserves to be widely circulated on this side of the Atlantic too.

You can read the text of the sermon at the website of the Diocese of Tulsa. Fr Z has a podcast of the sermon if you would like to listen to it.

Monday, 26 April 2010

FCO Stakeholder Positioning Chart for Papal Visit

In a follow-up article on the recent "error of judgement" at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Daily Mail has revealed the identity of the junior official who emailed the offensive document. The authors comment:
It is believed that Mr Mulvain, who lives in East London, escaped punishment because he was given authorisation to send the memo by a more senior civil servant, who has since been 'transferred to other duties'.
It might also be believed that Mr Mulvain is something of a scapegoat, perhaps. The identity of the "more senior civil servant" will presumably leak out at some stage; which will be more interesting.

The graphic above, published by the Mail, (click to enlarge) gives the "Positioning Chart" for stakeholders in the Papal Visit. It offers a fascinating guide to the thinking of the FCO.

CBC (Catholic Bishops' Conference) is put as much less positive but far more influential than the Archbishop of Westminster; but still slightly less influential than the Vatican. Right up at the top of both influential and positive are Number 10, the British Embassy to the Holy See and Tony Blair. Is this wishful thinking? Strange that Jim Murphy, the guy who is supposed to be running the whole show is negative and slightly non-influential. I wouldn't agree that Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society are non-influential, let alone on the far end of that scale.

The FCO staff, who discreetly positioned themselves as quite positive but non at all influential, have, since the release of the memo, taken an embarrassingly lengthy jump diagonally downwards and to the left of the chart.

Reading such trendy civil service style charts is a bit like reading tea leaves but it may show something of the priorities of HMG in relation to the visit of the Holy Father. Families, the sick, the disabled, and pro-life groups do not seem to feature (pro-choice groups are mentioned).

Other acronyms:
DECC - Department for Energy and Climate Change
DFID - Department for International Development.
DCMS - Department for Culture, Media and Sport
DCSF - Department for Children Schools and Families
TFL - Transport for London

(No idea what VAMP is - Video and Music Performers? Vesicle-Associated Membrane Proteins?)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

An "error of judgement"

In today's Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Wynne-Jones had a scoop with the story of the memo drawn up by Foreign Office officials after a "brainstorming session." (See: Ministers apologise for insult to Pope) Above is the scan that he posted containing the most offensive part of the memo.

Damian Thompson has pointed out that for all the frantic apologising that has gone on today, the document reflects an attitude that is widespread in our politically correct government.

The official concerned has been told that the memo was "a serious error of judgement". He has apparently "accepted this view". In the light of the obvious sincerity of this Damascene conversion, he has been "moved to other duties".

Foreign Secretary David Milliband goes further to say that the failure of judgement was "colossal". Failure of judgement? In what precisely? To put forward those ideas in the first place, to put them down on a memo, to circulate the memo, or to allow it to leak to a journalist?

Weigel replies to Hans Küng

In the journal First Things, George Weigel has written a powerful rebuttal of Hans Küng's recent letter to the Bishops attacking Pope Benedict, which was published in the Irish Times. See: An Open Letter to Hans Küng

Weigel says that Küng's letter:
[...] set new standards for that distinctive form of hatred known as odium theologicum and for mean-spirited condemnation of an old friend who had, on his rise to the papacy, been generous to you while encouraging aspects of your current work.
He also rebuts Küng's charges competently one by one and calls upon him to apologise.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

New deputy director for CES

The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales has appointed Greg Pope as Deputy Director. Greg Pope is a former Labour MP for Hyndburn (he took the seat from the strongly pro-life Ken Hargreaves.) He has voted against amendments to lower the time limit for abortion to 16 weeks. He also signed a parliamentary motion praising a condom manufacturer for helping schools host “National Condom Week”, signed motions promoting the IPPF, and contraceptive awareness week, voted against amendments restricting adoption to heterosexual couples, and has voted in favour of compulsory sex education. For the whole sorry list with links, see John Smeaton: Catholic Education Service appoints anti-life and anti-family ex-MP as deputy director.

Greg says:
The CESEW is widely respected for the work that it is doing under Oona Stannard’s leadership and I am very proud to be joining this successful team.”
For some indications of the wide respect that there is for the CES among the Catholic laity, here are some links:

Damian Thompson: 'Catholic' Education Service's new Deputy Director: retiring Labour MP who voted for abortion

Mulier Fortis: "Catholic-In-Name-Only" Education Service?

David Lindsay: The Wrong Pope

Countercultural Father: Shoot yourself in the foot (why don't you?)

That the bones you have crushed may thrill: Pope, Bishops, Priests, and the CES

Photos from Maiden Lane

On Monday the regular sung Mass at Maiden Lane was a solemn High Mass to mark the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict. (I posted my sermon.) Thanks to the Mulier Fortis for the above photo. There are several more at her blog.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Documentary on the Vatican

A correspondent sent me a link to this video on Gloria TV which looks at the life of Pope Benedict and gives an inside look at the Vatican. I haven't time to watch the whole 40 minutes but as it is produced by EWTN, I'm happy to recommend it to you if you would like something good to watch in place of the offerings of the MSM.

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New setting of Missa de Angelis

Roxanna Panufnik has composed a new setting based on the Missa de Angelis, with her own distinctive harmonisation. The work will be premiered by the Schola of the London Oratory School with Lee Ward as Director and David Terry playing the organ. The setting is accompanied by a brass octet which includes a piccolo trumpet doubled by the principal player.

Here is an extract from the press information giving some details of the musical characteristics of the setting:
As with many of Roxanna Panufnik’s works she brings the text to life vividly in her own harmonic voice. Abounding are echo effects, vocal and instrumental portamenti, uneven groupings of notes, juxtapositioning of major and minor triads and regularly shifting metre. All combine to give the piece an ethereal quality with translucent, shimmering effects at times (the piccolo trumpet in the final Kyrie, for example extends the full unison choral texture with heavy lower brass to create an unusual warmth and celestial feel, echoing perhaps the glorious flight of the angels). There are moments of great excitement, particularly in the Gloria, where the brass’s continuous staccato quavers accompany a legato and bluesy choir, culminating in cross beat rhythmical ‘bell-like’ effects as it reaches a huge climax. The blues effect also comes into play in the Sanctus and Agnus dei, which are perhaps the most approachable movements technically.
There is also a simplified version of the setting for use in parishes.

The premiere will be held at St James's Spanish Place on Friday 7 May at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from See Tickets. I'm rather disappointed that I can't go to this because I have duties in the parish that evening. I look forward to hearing this Mass setting at Mass one day.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Archbishop Longley at the Oxford Oratory

On Sunday, Archbishop Bernard Longley celebrated Mass at the Oxford Oratory, in the Church of St Aloysius which is dear to me since I attended daily Mass there when I was an undergraduate. You can see the "Benedictine" altar arrangement for the Mass in the Novus Ordo, facing the people. There are more photos at James Bradley's Flickr set.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sermon for the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict's election

This evening at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane we had High Mass on the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. I was celebrant, Fr Patrick Hayward was Deacon, and Fr Charles Briggs was Subdeacon. Usually there is no sermon at the Monday evening sung Mass but today I was asked to preach. After Mass we sang the Te Deum, the Regina Caeli and God bless our Pope. Here is the text of the sermon:

Grant him, we pray, that by word and example he may assist those over whom he stands, that together with the flock entrusted to him, he may attain to everlasting life.” (Collect)

At the weekly sung Mass here at Maiden Lane, we have an obvious reason for which to thank God for raising up Pope Benedict to care for us as Supreme Pontiff. The Mass which began as part of an indult, tolerated thanks to the work of the Latin Mass Society, is now, thanks to Pope Benedict, no longer considered to be abolished, abrogated or generally forbidden, but to have been in principle always permitted, never abrogated, and to have rightful "citizenship" within the Church.

Those who think of such a concern as the province of a few enthusiasts fail to understand the Holy Father’s intention expressed in Summorum Pontificum, that the celebration of the classical form of the Roman Rite should enrich the life of the Church, help to establish a greater sense of the sacred in every celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, and foster unity within the Church.

Most of you will remember that afternoon, on 19 April 2005, watching on the television screen or hearing from friends, the news that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected Pope and the great joy that this had happened. The exuberant faces of young seminarians and women religious remain a happy memory of that great day.

Shortly afterwards, the Holy Father gave a magnificent inaugural sermon which I never tire of quoting and will quote to you now:
If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. [...]

Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.
His pontificate, if you accept the propaganda of the mainstream media, or the liberal Catholic press, has been “dogged by controversy.” We could put it another way – his work for the Lord has been subject to furious opposition from the world because he stands for Christ and is unafraid to say what needs to be said.

We may recall his intellectual challenge to the Muslims in his address at Regensburg, his real steps towards the reconciliation of the SSPX, his trumping of every ecumenical initiative by actually providing a mechanism for Church unity in Anglicanorum Coetibus: on these occasions, he has stepped out onto the lake like St Peter. Has he faltered? Has he been assailed by doubts and fears? That is between him and God – what we do know is that Christ has constantly sustained him.

Most recently our beloved Holy Father has been the target of furious attacks attempting to smear him with what he himself called the “filth” that has infected the Church. He remains innocens manibus et mundo corde (innocent of hands and of a clean heart) most especially in the scandalous tale of bribery and corruption that enabled Fr Marcel Maciel to be shielded for so long – until Cardinal Ratzinger stepped in against his senior colleagues in the Curia. As Pope, within his first year, he had the man dismissed and sent for perpetual penance. (And we should pray that God may have mercy on his soul.)

The hallmark of the papacy of Pope Benedict has been his idea of the “hermeneutic of continuity”, an idea which is, as you know, close to my own heart. Joseph Ratzinger is a great theologian in his own right. My own theory is that Pope John Paul II appointed him as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith precisely because he could meet the likes of Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, and Edward Schillebeeckx on equal terms.

The affirmation that Vatican II should be understood in continuity with the tradition of the Church goes clean contrary to most of the theological prejudice which was current during my own days as a student. The usual theme was that in the old days we used to thing one thing but now we think differently. Before the Council, we used to pray in one way but now we pray differently. Most important of all, it was asserted that our manner of worshipping God in the Sacred Liturgy was radically changed by a complete break with the past. Pope Benedict’s idea of the hermeneutic of reform and continuity within the one subject Church allows us once again to take up without scruple the whole of the tradition of the Church in all of these areas.

This seminal idea also offers a real possibility for union with the SSPX. If we can read the second Vatican Council as not contradicting the previous papal encyclicals, if we can say that the tradition of the Church is maintained, then there is a new hope that a million souls and their pastors may be part of a united effort to evangelise the world and to resist the onslaught of secularism.

St Vincent Ferrer said that when we pray for the Pope, it is not the same as praying for anyone else. If a priest does wrong, we may appeal to his bishop. If the bishop does wrong, we may appeal to the Pope. If the Pope does wrong, he has no superior on earth but is subject immediately to God since he is the Vicar of Christ.

Thanks be to God we have a great and good Pope. When we pray for him, we are praying to his immediate superior to support and encourage him in his ministry. Let us pray to God for him now asking for many years and for strength and determination to do what is necessary for the reform of the Church.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Unusually clear blue sky

After Mass and Benediction this morning, I went over to Chislehurst to visit Fr Charles Briggs who can be seen in the above photo. For those who live in the Greater London Conurbation, the picture shows an oddly vacant sky. Later in the afternoon, I asked my servers to see whether they could observe anything unusual in the sky. I told them that this was a trick question since what was unusual was that there were none of the vapour trails that we usually see from aeroplanes. It is strange to see such a clear blue sky in the London area.

Some of my parishioners are stuck in places such as Alicante, Lanzarote, and Tenerife to which they have flown for an Easter holiday. I wish them every blessing for their extended holiday. For those who are desperate to get back, I pray that they will soon be able to travel. Some rain might help.

Children's greetings to Pope Benedict

My sister Jane in Birmingham writes to tell me of a homeschool group meeting that took place the other day. The children talked about the life of Pope Benedict, his childhood with his family and his teenage years spent growing up in Nazi Germany, his days at seminary, and his work for the Church, culminating in becoming Pope in 2005.

The children all then set to work drawing and designing over thirty cards to send to Pope Benedict, offering him spiritual bouquets of prayers to help him in his work. Jane writes:
The amount of genuine affection and enthusiasm from the children for their beloved Pope was very moving. After tea we went into the church and Deacon Stephen led us in prayers for the Pope in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We are all greatly looking forward to his visit later this year.
Here are some of the cards to be sent to the Holy Father:

International Summer School for Young Catholics

I'm very happy to pass on this information regarding an excellent annual event for young Catholics (this year's Summer School runs from 24 – 31 July 2010 at the Oratory School in Reading):
The International Summer School for Young Catholics was started in 1982 by the late David Foster. His intention was to present all subjects in the light of right reason and the Faith. The course aims to teach as wide a range of subjects as possible in a week within a Catholic framework as well provide classes in religious doctrine and the spiritual life. The authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ over all human activities is the central principle of the summer school, as reflected in our new name.

The Summer School is open to students aged 13 to 19 years old.

For further information please see the website or email Dominic Sullivan.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The altar in Malta don't face like what it oughta

What do you mean he wants the altar the other way round?

H/T Thomas Peters (who has another caption)

Anna Arco's in Malta

The Holy Father is off to Malta tomorrow afternoon for a short visit which will include a pilgrimage to the catacombs of St Paul at Rabat. The Vatican website has a page with official details of the visit.

Thousands of Maltese have been unable to get there for the visit and many dignitaries intending to go have been stranded at Brussels. However, the intrepid Chief Feature Writer of the Catholic Herald, Anna Arco is out there already, posting background on her blog and sending updates via Twitter (@AnnaArco). The Catholic Herald also has a dedicated page for the Apostolic visit to Malta.

Just by the way; I have been reading various online articles in The Times of Malta and have found it most edifying to see how polite, intelligent and reasonable most of the comments are. This does not surprise me, having made two very enjoyable visits there.

FLI Conference

This year's Family Life International Conference will take place at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Saturday 8 May. At the FLI website there is more information. The line-up of talks is:
  • Why Catholics Don't Contracept : Steven W. Mosher (USA)
  • Changing Hearts and Minds Through Education : Jo Tolck (USA)
  • The Church and social action (Same sex attraction) : James Parker (UK)
  • Sexuality and Equality: Catholicism; its Alternative Vision : Simon Dames (UK)
  • The Demographic Impacts of Abortion : Brian Clowes (USA)
  • The Dash to Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia : James Bogle (UK)
The page linked above does not give times but there is also a brochure which gives the full programme. (9am-6.30pm)

Cardinal Hummes supports priests

Cardinal Hummes, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Clergy, has written a letter to priests in anticipation of the closing of the Year for Priests in June. In writing to priests at this time, he quite rightly addresses the scandals that have been the focus of the world's media. His concise summary is a model of how to address the matter in a balanced and just way:
It is true that, albeit proportionately small in number, some priests have committed horrible and most serious crimes of sexual abuse upon minors, deeds that we must condemn and rebuke in an absolute and uncompromising manner. Those individuals must answer for their actions before God and before tribunals, including the civil courts. Nevertheless, we also pray that they might achieve spiritual conversion and receive pardon from God. The Church, for her part, is determined neither to hide nor to minimize such crimes. Above all we are on the side of the victims and want to support their recovery and their offended rights.

On the other hand, it is absolutely unacceptable to use the crimes of the few in order to sully the entire ecclesial body of priests. Those who do so commit a profound injustice. In the course the Year for Priests, the Church seeks to say this to human society. Anyone possessed of common sense and good will knows it to be the truth.
Having said this, he addresses the priests of the world with warmth and affection. He is particularly enthusiastic in his invitation to priests to travel to Rome for the gathering of priests from 9-11 June. He says that the Holy Father wishes to confirm the priests in their vocation and that it will be an opportunity for the priests to support the Holy Father:
There is yet another particular motivation for the presence in Rome of numerous priests for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, which is found at the heart of the Church today. One speaks of offering to our beloved Pope Benedict XVI our solidarity, our support, our confidence, and our unconditional communion, in the face of the frequent attacks direct towards Him, at this moment of time, in the field of his decisions with regard to clerics involved in crimes of the sexual abuse of minors. The accusations directed towards Him are obviously unjust, and it has been shown that no one has done as much as Benedict XVI to condemn and to combat properly such crimes. Therefore, the large presence of priests in the Square with Him will be a determined rejection of the unjust attacks of which he is a victim. So then, come as well to publicly support the Holy Father.
He also gently appeals to the conscience of those of us in the countries nearest Rome. I'll only just be back from the parish pilgrimage to Lourdes and would have to cancel several things but the good Cardinal has certainly got me thinking.

Vatican website: documents related to abuse

The website of the Holy See now has a page of links to pontifical and other documents related to the abuse of minors. An interesting inclusion is a pdf of a lengthy article by Mgr Beal in Studia Canonica of 2007 concerning the document Crimen Sollicitationis.

H/T Luke Coppen

Not persecution... yet

Fr Z comments on the "unhinged hate speech" found in an article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website. A tale of two battles is filled with the now customary collection of splenetic and spurious allegations against the Holy Father. However, Bob Ellis goes further than most.

He thinks that the Catholic Church should be outlawed, that the Pope is a "criminal mastermind", that the same tactics as have been applied in Afghanistan should be applied to the Catholic Church, and that we should "bomb the Vatican, and (going well beyond any current rules of engagement in Afghanistan) riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames."

I agree with those commentators who say "Hold on!" when there is talk of persecution. Having nasty articles written in the papers in not pleasant but it is not quite the same as having your limbs torn apart on the rack, being roasted on a gridiron, being eaten by lions, hanged drawn and quartered etc.

What is becoming clearer though, and quite plainly in this article, is that the media's feeding frenzy is encouraging those who would actively seek to reinstate the persecution of Catholics. Historically, persecution has always been preceded by a campaign to vilify the Church in the eyes of the public. When the assaults, torture and executions have happened, most ordinary people have been happy enough because they are convinced that the Catholics have brought bad luck by refusing to worship the Roman gods, have caused the Tiber to overflow, have been eating babies, have endangered the state, or have obstructed the advance of the master race.

In more recent persecutions, there have usually been some genuine nefarious deeds to appeal to, and these have often involved renegade priests who act as icons for the hysteria of persecution. Such was the case in France, Mexico, Spain, and Nazi Germany. In England, the authorities (and subsequent historians sympathetic to the myth generated by it) were desperate to implicate priests in the Gunpowder Plot. In any case, the fanaticism remained rooted enough in the collective memory to allow the madman Titus Oates to bring about a wave of executions later in the century.

It is an indication of the level of anti-Catholic hatred brewing up that a major media company should see fit to publish an article so transparently filled with hate as that of Bob Ellis.

And, by the way, riddling an unarmed and wounded civilian with bullets would be a war crime, I think.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Defending the Holy Father

Jack Valero has got into the Guardian's "Comment is free" section with an article: The mob should lay off. The pope is completely innocent. It is interesting that two representatives of the Protest the Pope Coalition told him that he had no right to defend Benedict XVI. I agree with him that this is rather menacing.

He makes a good point in saying that
[...] shouting down the truth doesn't make it go away. I don't defend the pope because I think it is the duty of a good Catholic; I defend him because he is completely innocent of the charges made against him, and because the media has merged with the mob and misreported the facts.
He goes on to answer the principal spurious allegations made against Pope Benedict.

Leaders' Debate

My polling cards arrived the other day with instructions to go down to the local primary school between the hours of 7am and 10pm on 6 May. I usually go early, hoping that it might be an indication of a Christian sense of co-responsibility for the common good. (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2240)

Apparently there is a debate on the television tonight featuring the leaders of the three main parties. Will Heaven at the Telegraph blogs is doing a live blog of the debate if you are interested. I'm off to the Church for Rosary and Benediction...

Chant Training and Family Retreat

Last weekend saw the St Catherine's Trust Annual Family Retreat at the Oratory School near Reading (the school founded by John Henry Newman.) This year 150 people attended the retreat which was led by Fr Andrew Southwell. I from the photos see that Fr Crean OP was also there.

At the Retreat, the St Catherine's Trust also hosted the first Chant Training Weekend organised by the Gregorian Chant Network. This was led by Nick Gale, Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral and his colleague Mark Johnson, and had 30 participants. The GCN was founded in January 2010 with the support of the Latin Mass Society which financially supported the Training Weekend, the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, Una Voce Scotland, and the Association for Latin Liturgy. The GCN exists to organise and promote training in Gregorian Chant in the context of the Catholic liturgy.

The singers participated in the daily Traditional Sung Mass, Vespers and Compline, and a Marian procession through the grounds of the Oratory School.

There are more photos at Joseph Shaw's Flickr set of the event.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Polls to vote in

A couple of polls to cast a vote in. It only takes a moment...

Should the Pope be charged with ‘crimes against humanity’, over the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church? ABC News Radio (Australia)

Do you think the Pope should face legal action over the Catholic child abuse cover-ups? New Humanist

Sensible response to nutty plans to arrest the Pope

The story of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins planning to arrest the Pope, though at the really nutty end of the spectrum of current anti-Catholic and anti-papal propaganda, still seems to be taken seriously by some journalists. A barrister has even allowed his name to be associated with this stunt.

Although I continue to think that "Matron take them away" is an appropriate response, it is nevertheless helpful and worthwhile for someone to answer the points that have been raised. The Catholic Union of Great Britain and the Thomas More Legal Centre have jointly issued a good, sensible press release responding to this ludicrous suggestion. Many thanks indeed to Jamie Bogle and Neil Addison for their work in dealing with the legal matters and for pointing out that such a publicity stunt could have serious consequences for public order and make the sensitive task of policing the Papal visit that much more difficult.

Gendercide in China

Peter Hitchens has written a powerful article for the Daily Mail on the results of China's one child policy which in effect was a "one boy" policy. Classrooms now show an alarming surplus of boys, there is a thriving trade in stolen children, prostitution has increased, and a local abortionist gasped at the idea of aborting a boy, saying:
'Nobody aborts boys unless they are deformed. Girls are what we abort.'
The social effects of such a gender imbalance are difficult to assess adequately. As Hitchens explains, the "gendercide" has roots in attitudes that predate communism; nevertheless the availability of abortion has made it possible for the problem to spiral out of control. The Chinese government is using its propaganda machine to attempt to reverse the disaster.

Someone should explain that one of the most effective ways for it to solve the problem would be to release its hold on the "Patriotic Church", cease the persecution of the underground Church and allow the Catholic faith to be preached freely, particularly its doctrine of marriage, the equality of the sexes, and the immorality of abortion.

ICEL chants online

ICEL has posted texts and music for the ordinary of the new translation of the Roman Missal. These include "Credo 1" and "Credo 3" settings, the tones for the readings and so on. It would be a good development if the introduction of the new translations was accompanied by a move to sing the Mass rather than sing at the Mass, and for the scriptural texts of the various antiphons to begin to take the place of the random hymns that have replaced them.

"desperate and discombobulated secularism"

Brendan O'Neill, the atheistic libertarian, attacks the ludicrous campaign to have the Pope arrested in his article "The Secular Inquisition" in Spiked, of which he is the editor. It is a fun piece in which he talks a lot of sense.
[...] despite the lack of any obvious, sensible reason why they break out in boils at the mention of the words ‘Benedict’, ‘priest’ or ‘Catholic’, the pope-hunters’ campaign has acquired a powerfully pathological, obsessive and deafeningly shrill character.

Catholic voices steps up

H/T to Joanna Bogle for this video of Jack Valero on the BBC defending the record of Pope Benedict. This is what Catholic Voices was set up for and it is good to see Jack going in to battle.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

ICKSP Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict

The Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, have proposed a Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict XVI. You can participate by filling in a simple form and promising various prayers.

If you wish to have a Mass said, may I recommend sending a Mass offering to Aid to the Church in Need thereby linking this act of solidarity with the Holy Father to the care of the poor.

Losing my religion marbles

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are planning to arrest the Pope when he comes to the UK in September.

All together now:
No, you've HAD your dinner...

You've already got your trousers ON...

MATRON, take them away!

Adolf Hitler on the appointment of Archbishop Gomez

Yes, I know it has been done before but it is still quite funny.

(Embedding disabled by request? What the flip?)

Here is the link.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

"... and that will be progress."

A particularly good edition of "The Vortex" from Real Catholic TV with Michael Voris today. I like the closing punchline.

Evening of recollection for young people

One of my young parishioners who is on vacation from medical school emailed me a week ago to ask if we could put on an evening of recollection for young people. So the answer to that is "Yes." It was a very simple formula. I gave a short spiritual talk, we had Rosary and Benediction, then showed "Fishers of Men" in the hall, followed by an open session when the young people could ask any questions they wanted. I find that the question and answer session is always successful. Young people really want to be given answers about their faith and it is a great opportunity for catechesis. I have never found such a session dry up - I always have to bring it to an end by inviting one or two "last ones".

The mums provided the other ingredient for a successful evening: lots of pizza.

Papal bus near Blackfen

Adam, who was MC at Mass this morning, sent me this photo of the bus which perhaps Pope Benedict might like to travel on if he is in the area during his visit to the UK.

Aine Cooper RIP

Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of Aine Cooper who died on Wednesday evening, fortified by the sacraments and the prayers of the Church.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum requescant in pace.

Aine was the dear wife of Dan Cooper ("Sir Dan of the blogosphere"). The photo above was taken at Dan and Aine's wedding many years ago. Aine was a good and devout lady who worked for many years as a nurse, always defending the pro-life cause. She could be hilarious in the way that she kept Dan in check during his outbursts of enthusiasm (always, of course, prompted by the Holy Spirit.) Having received the sacraments and the plenary indulgence at the end of a devout life, Aine may not need our prayers herself, but do still pray for her because if she doesn't, some poor blighter in purgatory will bless her for ever for them.

The Requiem Mass will be celebrated by Fr Roger Nesbitt at the chapel of the John Fisher School in Purley (CR8 3YP) on Thursday 15th April at 12.15pm. Aine's mortal remains will be brought into the Chapel on Wednesday evening at 7pm. Priests who wish to concelebrate at the Requiem Mass are asked to bring purple vestments.

Donations in memoriam may be sent to the Sisters of the Gospel of Life. They have a paypal donation facility.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Innocens manibus et mundo corde

"Innocent in hands and clean of heart" (Ps 23.4) A short essay, but a little longer than my usual posts, in which I reflect on the story broken yesterday by Jason Berry in the National Catholic Reporter.

A “story of Vatican skulduggery to make you gasp” (to use the expression of Damian Thompson) was published in the National Catholic Reporter yesterday. Fr Marcel Maciel, founder and head of the Legionaries of Christ, whose crimes and sins against the sixth commandment are now well known, accumulated a vast fortune for the Legionaries which he felt able to disburse as and when it suited him. He particularly saw fit to give large cash sums to various senior figures in the Vatican, for which he was protected from investigation, allowed to get impose a ridiculous vow of silence on his subordinates, and given access to the “private” papal Masses of Pope John Paul II.

I remember those private Masses. The day after the Diaconate Ordinations at Pallazzola, (the Summer House of the English College at Rome) the newly-ordained Deacons went to Castelgandolfo with their parents to assist at the Pope’s Mass early in the morning. After the Mass, we got to meet the Holy Father and say a few words to him. It was one of the happiest moments in my parents’s lives (God rest them). These Masses were fairly frequent and I did have an inkling as a young student in Rome that if you knew the right people to talk to, you could wangle tickets for the Mass. In my naivety, I would not have imagined that you could pass over a bung of $50,000 to get yourself or your benefactors admitted. I am relieved that my dear parents never got to hear about this sort of thing and I feel saddened for good and devout Catholics who have to hear it now.

Essentially, the age of the Borgias never really passed. The Council of Trent did much to reform the Church internally in response to the reformation which was partly fuelled by similar scandals. St John Fisher and St Thomas More stand as shining examples of clear-sighted understanding, going to their deaths in defence of the authority of the Pope despite the scandalous example of some popes during their lifetime. St Ignatius, St Robert Bellarmine, St Charles Borromeo and other great witnesses of true Catholic faith did their best to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent despite fierce opposition. When the religious of Milan realised that St Charles was actually going to do what Trent said, one of them attempted to assassinate him. There remained many obstinately comfortable senior figures in the Church who treated their office as a personal money bag and, in some cases, indulged their other vices with impunity.

Still today, as ever, and probably until the end of time, the Church is in need of reform. We should not make the mistake of thinking that it is only the reform of other people that is necessary. Any crisis in the Church is a call for all of us to return to the standards given us by Christ. I have just picked up once again the classic Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales with the resolution of trying to live a little more closely according to its teaching. I recommend it to you, though you may prefer Granada’s A Sinner’s Guide or Scupoli’s Spiritual Combat. I cannot stress strongly enough that the personalist psychology of Carl Rogers and his friends is spiritual poison and to be avoided like the plague. If you want to read a short account of why, see the interview with William Coulson: We overcame their traditions, we overcame their faith.

Nevertheless, we do all long now for reform at the highest level. The NCR story shows beyond reasonable doubt that Pope Benedict is the man to begin it. They highlight the most significant incident where he was offered the brown envelope “for your charitable use.” Cardinal Ratzinger refused, even though he had just given a lecture to the Legionnaries and an honorarium might be thought innocent enough. I know it sounds a bit nerdy but I do in fact have a copy of the Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana, the "General Regulations for the Roman Curia", which I picked up out of interest from the Vatican bookshop a couple of years ago. In it, there is the text of the oath of fidelity taken by all Vatican officials. Part of it reads:
Simulque promitto munera mihi in remunarationen, etiam sub specie doni oblata, nec quaesiturum, nec recepturum.
At the same time, I promise that I will neither seek nor accept gifts given to me in remuneration, even if they are given under the appearance of the offering of a gift.
Cardinal Ratzinger took this seriously.

It also struck me that from the start of his pontificate, Pope Benedict dropped the system of admitting people to his private Masses. They are only attended by a few religious who are part of the Pontifical Household. You can’t get to see Pope Benedict by “knowing the right people.” It is perhaps a disadvantage that genuine attendees such as the parents of newly-ordained deacons cannot any longer have the joy of meeting the Pope in such a setting, but I feel quite sure that my parents would understand the Holy Father’s desire to stamp out corruption.

Cardinal Ratzinger moved against Maciel and, by opening investigations about his activities, effectively forced him to step down as head of the order. At around that time, he made his comment about removing “filth” from the Church: a reference that could hardly escape being applied to Maciel. He did all this despite determined opposition from those in the Vatican who had benefited from Maciel’s largesse with the funds he had amassed from pious donors. As Pope, he finished the job, dismissing him from public ministry to retire to a life of prayer and penance.

In this whole sordid story or bribery, corruption, and abuse, Pope Benedict stands out as the man who is innocens manibus et mundo corde (Ps 23.4): his hands are innocent of bribes and his heart is pure. The reform of the Church in response to the scandals of the day include reform at every level. The Sacred Liturgy is far from irrelevant. If you sacrilegiously mess up what is most sacred, why should anything else remain untouched? If the doctrine of the faith can be cast into doubt, why should anyone respect the moral teaching? The world is essentially saying to us that we should live according to the moral teaching that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict, throughout his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now as the Supreme Pontiff, has pursued reform in all of these areas and, as the NCR story shows clearly, he has exercised determination to rid the Church of the filth which shames us. He deserves our wholehearted support, our fervent prayers, our penances offered in solidarity, and our loyal acceptance of any necessary reforms in liturgy, doctrine, morals, and asceticism that he judges fit to impose.
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