Whoever has that job, of shredding the cart-loads of letters critical of the great Mgr and fishing out the occasional one in his favour, isn't paid enough.
As always Loftus' article is accompanied by a large photograph relevant to it with an appropriate caption. This of course is another subtle indication of the prestige the Catholic Times accords him. It rather backfires this time, however. Loftus writes, of the Holy Father's non-attendance at a concert (a non-story if ever there was one: is it really impossible to accept the explanation that he was busy? Is there any other plausible explanation anyway?):
...he would rightly have been appalled when he saw the huge white throne, surrounded by slightly lesser scarlet ones for cardinals, with second and third-class seating-arrangments provided for those who wore only purple or black. Then, of course, the laity were 'in the gods'. Certainly they were nearer to God than some of the vain-arrogant people in the 'stalls'.
The bitterness is incredible. What does Loftus know of the inner dispositions of the clerics at the concert? Anyway, it is all a fantasy. The photograph above these words, which is identical to the photo I have uploaded, clearly shows that, apart from the Pope's chair (only a 'throne' by association with its intended occupant: I've seen grander chairs at the dentist's), all the other seats were alike, and the laity were occupying the very next row behind it. They could have touched the Holy Father by standing up and taking one step forward. Had he been there, that is.
|Low Mass (Missa sine pompa, we might call it): Fr Philip Harris at the Evangelium Conference last year, St Joseph's Chapel, the Oratory School|
He doesn't seem to make any distinctions when he writes, of groups of any kind, that 'together, dressed up in church, they are an obstacle on the pilgrim-path to the one Kingdom to which we all aspire, where there will be no titles, no diviseness [rules you out, then, eh Basil?], definitely no fancy dress, and where only the angels will have plumes to preen.
|Another unclamorous Low Mass: the Dominican Rite in St Dominic's, Haverstock Hill. One server, no pack-drill.|
This is baffling on so many levels. The question of legitimacy seems to have been left behind - he just hates any association of the Faithful, or for that matter of clerics. What about Benedictines, one may ask? Are they ok? Why? They dress up! ('Because they are clerics' is the wrong answer: monks are not clerics, unless they happen to be ordained. But why would clerics be exempt anyway?)
Along the way he is betrayed into the absurd claim that everyone will be equal in heaven. Do you mean that, Mgr? Our Lady equal to those saved 'as a brand from the fire' (Zachariah 3.2)? We have St Paul's teaching on this: 'star differs from star in brightness' (1 Corinthians 15:41).
|Mass as simple as they come: Low Mass at St Dominic's Nymphsfield, celebrated by Fr Alexander Redman.|
|Low Mass in a modernised church: St George's, Warminster, with Fr Bede Rowe|
If Loftus was not such a pathetic has-been, that last sentence would sound menacing. As it is, it reminds me of a story, from the Life of St Basil in the Golden Legend.
Another hermit saw St Basil, how he went in the habit of a bishop and deemed evilly in his thought, how he delighted in this estate in vain glory, and anon there came a voice that said to him: Thou delightest thee more in playing with and handling thy cat, than Basil doth in all his array and adornments.
St Basil wore the splendid vestments of a bishop, and the hermit thought himself terribly superior: clearly this was a man of vain glory! Not like him - oh no. But actually the hermit was a more sensuous man than St Basil, even if he sensuality was expressed only in the delight he took in stroking his cat.