Thursday, January 29, 2015

Loftus attacks Bishop Doyle over funerals

Requiem for Michael Davies, St Mary Moorfields, last October.
In the unlikely case that Bishop Doyle of Northampton thought that the female pastoral administrator in Milton Keynes would make liberals pleased with him, he would have been disapointed by the insatiable bitterness of Mgr Basil Loftus. He spreads his bile far beyond the people we might think of as standard-bearers of conservatism.

Mgr Loftus, 23rd Jan 2015
Why in England is there in one diocese a re-iteration of Holy See instructions whereby a grieving mother is forbidden from placing her infant child's teddy-bear on the coffin?

To hold back the tide of liturgical anarchy which could end up turning the Rite of Christian burial into a neo-pagan ceremony, Mgr? Or something more sinister?

The Vine, January 2015, on new guidelines for funerals issued by Northampton diocese.
Christian symbols alone are allowed on the coffin. Other items, such as personal mementos and Mass cards should be places on a table nearby.

You can read The Vine's report in full here. It is very common of Loftus to adopt the passive-aggressive method of not naming his victims, which no doubt he would defend as less likely to cause personal upset and scandal, but which actually has the opposite effect. Those who don't know who he means have no way of placing the alleged offence into any kind of context; those who have anything to do with the victim, on the other hand, know exactly who the target is. If the victim wants to defend himself he is in the invidious position of having to stand up to claim ownership of whatever vindictively distorted allegations Loftus has made against him. In the present case, the guidelines, looked at in context, are perfectly balanced and sensible, call for the priest to be sensitive to the needs of the family and for them to plan things together, while setting limits to the practices which threaten the Christian nature of the event. The report, for some reason illustrated with a photograph of a horse-drawn hearse caparisoned in pink, concludes:

The guidlines emphasise flexibility in the context of continuity. 'We must take into account where those involved are on their faith journey. People will come with different levels of understanding and knowledge of Catholic faith and practice, some with none. The diverse nature of our communities means that there will be a wide range of cultural and personal backgrounds, which will shape people's attitudes and requests. Mindful of all these factors we must also be faithful to our own tradition of proclaiming God's mercy and forgiveness and the hope of the resurrection to eternal life.'

It is a pity Mgr Loftus can only read this through a red mist. In the same column he attacks our seminary rectors for maintaining their historic buildings and horror! - in one case having a croquet lawn. I'm sure most Catholics will understand exactly the problem the funeral guidlines are addressing, and see Bishop Doyle's guidelines as the necessary and moderate rules that they are. If people want a humanist service to mark the passing of their loved ones, with secular songs, readings from children's books, and teddy bears on the coffin, there are plenty of people who will make it happen for them. The Church has something special to offer.

Having said that, the chance of these rules being followed by most parishes is approximately zero.

Those who want to ensure they have a funeral or requiem in the Extraordinary Form, and those who need to arrange one for a loved one who has died, should have a look at the Latin Mass Society's information about it here.

As a service to the public, I have put together quotations on a range of themes from Loftus' published writings, mostly his Catholic Times columns, in a dossier here, and made one of his most theologically egregious articles, on the Resurrection of Our Lord, available here.

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