Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Catholic culture? We need a culture

Me on LifeSite News. A key passage.

Up to the first half of the 20th century, western societies taught their children stories which illustrated and reinforced a particular conception of marriage and family; the same conception was supported by the civil law, by social expectations and social sanctions; and the same model was experienced by the vast majority of people. The same is true of the conception of the role of the state, the place of religion in society, gender roles, and a thousand other things. These shared understandings, which took on distinct flavors in different countries and in different cultural and ethnic groups, were the basis of a sense of solidarity.
One does not have to imagine that the culture of any particular time and place was perfect in every way, in order to realize that a society which lacks a culture in this sense is in serious trouble. But that is our situation today. The old models of how to live have not entirely gone away, but they are no longer supported by a social consensus. Our children are continually exposed to mixed messages, and civil law and social norms not only fail to support the old model, but in many ways work to undermine it. On the other hand, that model has not been replaced by a consistently applied, widely understood, and coherent, alternative.
Read it all there.

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Should Catholics be free-speech absolutists?

Me on LifeSite News: a key section.

Since people on the “progressive” side of the debate generally need not fear exclusion from social media and public spaces, they usually do not need to make such appeals, so this appeal to free speech is becoming increasingly associated only with the defense of conservative voices. We now hear from liberals that the principle of free speech is being “weaponized,” a rhetorical preparation for saying that the principle should be rejected, as the latest Google memo comes close to doing.

This is quite a turn-around from the depiction of the Catholic Church as the opponent of liberty, and the historic attempts to undermine the Church’s institutions and influence by scurrilous pamphleteering: characteristic tactics of the Church’s opponents since the time of Luther. In response to this kind of activity, Popes down the ages remind us that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. Typical was Pope Pius IX, who had the Papal States to administer as well as the Universal Church, and who wrote in 1864 (Quanta cura) of “that erroneous opinion”

that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.
Read it all there.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Honouring our war dead

Me on LifeSite News. A key paragraph:

There are inevitably those who are uncomfortable with the commemoration of the war dead, the commonest complaint being that it ‘glorifies war’. This seems a curious reaction to the ritualized expression of public grief, but it contains this grain of truth: the laying of wreaths and the parading of soldiers does not merely remember the dead: it honors them. If one takes the view that all war is evil, then this is no more appropriate than publicly honoring a roll-call of mass-murderers.

Read it all there.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Catholics funerals must beseech God's mercy

Me on LifeSite News: a sample paragraph.

But the meaning of the words is only one aspect of the listener’s experience of these chants. Gregorian Chant is remarkable for expressing emotion without manipulating the hearer: it doesn’t twang on the heartstrings with euphoric or lacrimose cords, but expresses joy and sorrow in a way at once authentic, dignified, and restrained. Equally striking, with the chants for the dead, is their powerfully insistent tone, especially evident in the Dies irae. There is no need to speak at length about despair, but there is need to spend time begging God’s mercy, because God is pleased to grant it at our insistence, if we insist with a confidence that does not tip over into presumption.

Read it all there.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

LMS Bedford Pilgrimage: photos

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The church of St Joseph, Bedford, has one of the limited number of specially produced replica images of the famous tilma in Mexico, which have been touched to the original. You can see it above and below in the sanctuary of the church. The image regularly tours the country, but this is its home.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Newman Colloquium: with Fr Jeremy Davies, Exorcist

As last time, 3:45pm in the parish hall at SS Gregory & Augustine's in Oxford.

The booking page is here.



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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Witchcraft and the Occult

My latest at LifeSite News begins as follow:


Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court judge, an occult book shop in New York hosted his mass-“hexing”: people identifying as witches gathered to curse him. They had earlier done the same thing to President Trump. Reading such stories in reputable news sources like the BBC brings to mind G.K. Chesterton’s remark:

When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.

As LifeSiteNews has reported, however, self-described witchcraft has grown to the level which is no longer simply a joke. It is important to keep three points in mind about it. First, the claims of today’s occultists and witches to some historical continuity with European paganism are completely deluded. Secondly, it is nevertheless spiritually dangerous. Thirdly, Catholicism is the form of religion it most detests, and also the form which can most help its adherents.

Read more there.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Masses for Remembrance Sunday in the UK

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Mass for Remembrance Sunday at Holy Trinity Hethe inn 2015
This Sunday is Remebrance Sunday in the UK, and wherever the Traditional Mass is celebrated here it will be a Mass of Requiem. Readers should seek out a Sung Mass if possible to experience this to best effect, and unite themselves to the prayers of the Church for those who have died in war.

A few to mention - there are many more:

St Bede's, Clapham Park: as always there will be a Sung Mass at 11am

Address: 8 Thornton Rd, London SW12 0LF (click for a map)
Holy Trinity Hethe will have a Sung Mass at 12 noon this Sunday. Holy Trinity is distinguished, among other ways, by having war graves in its cemetery.

Address: Hardwick Rd, Hethe, Bicester OX27 8AW (click for a map)
St Walburge's, Preston, which is served by the Institute of Christ the King, will see a High Mass at the  special war memorial altar, at 10:30am.

Address: Weston St, Preston PR2 2QE (click for a map)

St William of York, Reading, served by the Fraternity of St Peter: Sung Mass at 11am

Address: 46 Upper Redlands Rd, Reading RG1 5JP (click for a map)

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Pilgrimage to Stirling, Scotland, 30th November

Another great initiative from Scotland's traditional Catholics!

St Mary's Church, 15 Upper Bridge St, Stirling FK8 1ES (click for a map)
6:30pm Procession
7:30 High Mass



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Good Counsel Network Ball, 10th Nov

See the Facebook event page.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Mass of Reparation in Bedford: this Saturday, 12 noon

A High Mass will take place in Bedford's Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe this Saturday at 12 noon: St Joseph's Church, MK40 1HU

This is the first LMS Pilgrimage to this shrine, which houses one of the official copies of the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.



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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Annual Requiem in Westminster Cathedral

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Last Saturday the Latin Mass Society's Annual Requiem took place in Westminster Cathedral. As more than ten years not it is always, thanks to the generosity of the Archdiocese of Westminster, a Pontifical Mass. This year it was celebrated by the recently retired Bishop Patrick Campbell of Lancaster.

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A special feature of interest this year was the vestments. We have in the past used the Cathedral's, but this year they were the property of the Latin Mass Society. We have received a large bequest from a late member, John Arnell, and wished to perpetuate his memory with the purchase of a really good black High Mass set. Each item in the set is now marked with the Latin Mass Society's name, and the note 'Please pray from John Edward Arnell.'

Monday, November 05, 2018

Requiem in Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy

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With the kind permission of Fr Matthew Power SJ, a traditional Requiem Mass was celebrated on Saturday 3rd November in the St Thomas More Chapel of the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy. The celebrant was Fr Daniel Seward of the Oxford Oratory.

Friday, November 02, 2018

How Agatha Christie saved the Latin Mass

This weekend I have an article in the Catholic Herald's print edition. It begins:

On November 26, 1971, the front page of the Universe informed its readers as follows:

As from this Sunday, the first in Advent, it is forbidden to offer Mass in the Tridentine rite anywhere in the world. In very special circumstances old or retired priests may apply to their own bishop for permission to use the rite, but for private use only.

Only a few days later, however, on December 2, the Times carried a rather different story, under the headline “Pope sanctions traditional Latin Mass in Britain”. The Tridentine Mass was, in fact, celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on June 17 the following year, the first of a series of two annual Masses at the High Altar using the older Missal. Monthly traditional Masses in the Cathedral’s crypt were also initiated. Both series of Masses continue to this day, although the crypt Masses have now moved to the Lady Chapel.

In the nick of time, it would seem, the public celebration of the Vetus Ordo, now also called the Extraordinary Form, was preserved, at least in England and Wales. How had this come about?

Continue reading.

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Marriage lite comes to England

I have a new post on LifeSiteNews. It begins:

Following a ruling of Britain’s Supreme Court over the summer, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the Government will make the necessary changes to allow heterosexual, and not just homosexual, couples to contract ‘Civil Partnerships’, as opposed to marriages, in England and Wales. (Scotland will probably follow.)

Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, urged couples not to use this option:


God blesses the marriage bond only when the couple freely and without conditions exchange their consent. We hope that today’s ruling does not deter people from that sacred and life-long commitment.

Back in 2004, when Civil Partnerships were introduced for same-sex couples in the UK, the Bishops of England and Wales did not oppose the legislation, on the basis of government assurances that they would be clearly distinct from marriage. The idea seemed to be that Civil Partnerships addressed the legitimate grievances of same-sex couples, notably over hospital visiting rights and exemption from Inheritance Tax when leaving each other money, and that it would obviate the need for same-sex ‘marriage’.

Things did not turn out that way. Having established the principle that the state has an interest in regulating same-sex relationships in a way clearly paralleling the regulation of marriage, the scene was set for same-sex ‘marriage’ itself in 2014.

Read it all there.
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Newman Colloquium series continues

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There was a good turn out for the first Newman Colloquium on Saturday 27 Oct 2018. Michael Wee of the Anscombe Centre and I discussed 'Humanae Vitae at 50'.

Hot drinks and plenty of biscuits were very welcome afterwards as it was rather drizzly and cold in Oxford.

The next Newman Colloquium takes place on Saturday 24th November, when I talk to Fr Jeremy Davies, a experienced missionary, doctor, and exorcist.

Visit Newmancolloquium.eventbrite.com to sign up.


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Sunday, October 28, 2018

London Vespers and Book-launch for Peter Kwasniewsky, 30th October

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Peter Kwasniewski directing the chant at Mass in Oxford
Tuesday, October 30th – Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London: Vespers with Palestrina at 6pm, followed by talk and book-signing by Peter Kwasniewski.

More on Peter's latest book here.

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A High Mass of Requiem in Warwick Street last year
6:00 pm – Vespers with Palestrina’s Magnificat quinti toni
(Sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
6:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Liturgical Reform, Ars Celebrandi, and the Crisis on Marriage and Family”
7:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)


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Friday, October 26, 2018

LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, Saturday 27th October

Our annual pilgrimage to The Friars, the home of the Carmelites.

The original friary was established in 1242, and was (probably) the site of St Simon Stock’s mystical vision of the scapular. Bought back by the Order from its secular owners in the 20th century, today the complex houses the Shrine which contains the Relics of St Simon Stock. Saturday, 27th October 2018.

There will be a Sung Mass at 1.30pm in the Relic Chapel and the day concludes with Vespers and Benediction at 4pm.

Included in the music for the Mass (supplied by Cantus Magnus, dir. Matthew Shellhorn) will be the UK premier and world prenier of pieces by Peter Kwasniewski:
Missa a cuatro voces (K, G, S, A) de Rivera
Benedicta et venerabilis Kwasniewski UK PREMIERE
Ego mater Kwasniewski WORLD PREMIERE

Mass is at 1:30pm, at
Aylesford Priorym Aylesford, ME20 7BX
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Peter Kwasniewski's book launch in Oxford: Friday, after 6pm High Mass in SS Gregory & Augustine

All the details are below. We'll have copies of Peter's most recent three books.

On Saturday he will be at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford. See here for more details.

More on Peter's latest book here.


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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Pope and the Papacy

My latest on LifeSiteNews begins thus:

 The canonization of Pope Paul VI raises the question of how the Papacy is viewed. The elevation to the Altars of the Church of Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II, seems a surprising legacy of the Second Vatican Council. The Pope’s triple crown has been locked up in a museum; his Noble Guard has been disbanded; the harmless fun of ostrich-feather fans at Papal Masses has ceased; and the Gestatoria has been retired. But something has come in instead: a process of canonization which increasingly seems to be the norm and not the exception for a deceased Pontiff. 
Many theological conservatives hoped that the canonization of Pope John Paul II would canonize, so to speak, his writings as Pope. It would surely be harder, they said, to ignore his fearless condemnation of abortion, contraception, and divorce, once his heroic sanctity was officially recognized. However, this has not come to pass. Pope Francis, who canonized him, seems to have made the keynote of his pontificate the minimization of John Paul II’s teaching in Familaris Consortio(1981) 84 that divorced Catholics in illicit second unions must not receive Holy Communion. It would be foolish to expect the canonization of Pope Paul VI to offer any extra protection or prestige for his condemnation of contraception in Humanae Vitae (1968), or indeed to the doctrinal orthodoxy defended with such vehemence in his Credo of the People of God (1968) and Mysterium Fidei (1965). The teaching of the Church, which Pope Paul reasserted in Evangelium Nuntiandi(1974) 5, that the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers is of vital importance for their salvation, has long been unsayable. 


Read it all there.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

On relics and their uses

My latest on LifeSiteNews starts thus:

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, Gregory DiPippo passes on for English-speakers Italian-language reports of a scientific analysis of the relics (a full skeleton) of St Ambrose of Milan.
St Ambrose (337-397) was one of the great figures of his day, who baptized St Augustine of Hippo, and with St Augustine is one of the four Latin Doctors often depicted in art (the others being St Jerome and St Gregory the Great).
Not only are the bones the right age for St Ambrose, but they display the poorly-healed broken collarbone which, as his letters attest, troubled St Ambrose for many years. They are, so far as science can speak on the subject, authentic. 
Contrary to the wise-acres who for centuries have been casting doubt on the genuineness of the relics venerated by Catholics, this kind of scientific vindication keeps happening. The Holy Chalice of Valencia, according to tradition used at the Last Supper, was created (from agate) using techniques unique to the time of Our Lord’s life and earlier. The Holy Thorn of Andria, said to be from the Crown of Thorns and to bleed when Good Friday falls on 25th March, did so again under the cold gaze of scientific instruments in 2016. If these are the products of medieval forgers, those chaps certainly knew a thing or two.

Read it all there.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Making Oxford's Streets sacred again

The Latin Mass Society held its annual Pilgrimage to Oxford last Saturday.

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In the 19th century a surprisingly broad cross-section of Anglicans incorporated into their thinking the notion of sacred space, leading to a new conception of what churches should be like: a conception which harked back to many old churches' Catholic past. This conception of sacred space had a natural parallel in the idea of processions. This was also the historical moment when Catholic church-building and processions began to be largely untrammelled by legal restrictions, so Catholics, less surprisingly, were doing the same things at the same time. For about a century England saw an amazing number of these, and then they suddenly almost died out in the 1970s.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Oxford Pilgrimage 20th October 2018

This is tomorrow!

Join us for the Latin Mass Society's annual pilgrimage in honour of Oxford's Catholic martyrs, particularly those of 1589 whose site of martyrdom, where 100 Holywell Street now stands, we will be visiting.


Schedule
11am Dominican Rite High Mass
Followed by refreshments in the Aula in Blackfriars
2pm Procession from Carfax to Holywell Street, and back to Blackfriars
4pm Benediction

Music
With the Newman Consort directed by Alex Lloyd
Missa Quem dicunt homines Antonius Divitis 1475-1530
Laetamini in Domino Jacob Regnart 1540-1599

Dominican Chant with the Schola Abelis of Oxford directed by Dominic Bevan

Monday, October 15, 2018

Newman Colloquium: a new project in Oxford

Once a month the Newman Colloquium will be presenting a 'conversation' before an audience on a matter of Catholic interest. I am delighted to be part of this project and will be the interlocutor for some of our guest speakers. The first is the excellent Michael Wee of the Anscombe Centre, and we will be talking about 'Humanae Vitae at 50'.

It will take place in the newly refurbished parish hall at SS Gregory & Augustine's, on Saturday 27th October, from 3:45pm.




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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bishop Genn's fear of Traditionalists

Published on LifeSiteNews. The article begins:

Despite the fact that his diocese is desperately short of vocations, Bishop Genn of Münster recently declared: “I can decidedly say I don’t care for pre-conciliar types of clerics, and also I will not consecrate them.”

This is not an uncommon attitude, and it is not limited to Germany. I have heard stories from the English seminary, St. Cuthbert’s College at Ushaw, now closed for lack of custom, that superiors were so concerned to root out conservatively-minded candidates for the priesthood that they would watch how they held their hands during Mass. If they folded them prayerfully, this went on the record as a mark against them. Seminarians would meet to say the Rosary in each others’ rooms, in secret, for fear this subversive activity would get them into trouble, and hide theology books by Joseph Ratzinger.

This attitude seems to go beyond a simple matter of theological disagreement. Signs of conservatism are regarded as akin to signs of leprosy, and indeed, it is not uncommon to hear theological conservatism or traditionalism compared to mental illness. It should be said that this attitude is much less bad, at least in the English-speaking world, than it was a generation ago, but it has not gone away, and it is striking that a German bishop should embrace it so openly.

While I lack any special information about Bishop Genn, I think I can shed light on the phenomenon as a whole. The language commonly used about young conservatives and traditionalists – “rigid,” “conformists,” “authoritarian,” “clericalist” – are related to trends in psychiatry which were influential in the decades after the Second World War. Here is a typical description of the “authoritarian personality” published in 1970 (Peter Kelvin, The Bases of Social Behaviour):

Read it all there.


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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Welcome Princess Alexandra of Hanover to the Roman Catholic Church

Published on LifeSiteNews: the article begins:

Every now and then a closer or more distant blood relation of Britain’s Queen becomes a Catholic, and in doing so is removed from the "line of succession." This is one of the last legal remnants of a system of anti-Catholic discrimination which once saw Catholics banned from living in London and becoming army officers, long after the bloody persecution ended. It means that however unlikely it might have been in any case, swimming the Tiber washes off the theoretical possibility that you could become King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Recently, it was the turn of Princess Alexandra of Hanover, who at 19 has adopted the Catholic religion of her mother.

Princess Alexandra is rather more closely related to the houses of Hanover and of Monaco than to Britain’s House of Windsor, and she probably gave this aspect of her conversion little thought. Somewhat closer to the British throne was Lord Nicholas Windsor, who was received into the Church in 2001; he gave an interview to LifeSiteNews in 2011.

Catholics are excluded from the line of succession by the Act of Settlement of 1701; Britain’s monarch is, after all, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Catholics are the Act’s targets, because it was passed in the aftermath of the English Revolution of 1688 (called by its supporters the “Glorious” Revolution), which saw the overthrow of the Catholic King James II. The greater friendliness of his brother and predecessor King Charles II to Catholicism and to the leading Catholic power of the time, France, led to the anti-Catholic moral panic of the fraudulent Titus Oates plot. When the Catholic James II had a son, and so looked set to establish a Catholic monarchy for the foreseeable future, a group of powerful Protestant nobles staged a coup.
Read it all on LifeSiteNews

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Friday, October 12, 2018

The cultural front-line in Oxford

I have a piece on the Catholic Herald website. It begins:

Recently I spent many hours on the front line of the new evangelisation. In a formerly Christian country, Britain, where the cultural achievements of the Church are still remembered and appreciated, at least by some, I was working on the via pulchritudinis: the “way of beauty”.

As Pope St John Paul II expressed it in 2003 (Ecclesia in Europa 60):

“Nor should we overlook the positive contribution made by the wise use of the cultural treasures of the Church. … artistic beauty, … a sort of echo of the Spirit of God, is a symbol pointing to the mystery, an invitation to seek out the face of God made visible in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Where was I? At Oxford University’s Freshers’ Fair, as I am every year, recruiting singers for a Gregorian Chant schola named after an Oxford student who died for the Faith, Blessed Thomas Abel.
Read the whole thing there.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ouellet replies to Viganó

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Those observing the developing controversy which has followed Archbishop Viganó’s extraordinary denunciation of Pope Francis had their patience rewarded by an official response from a leading Cardinal, the Canadian Marc Ouellet. As Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops since 2010, he is uniquely qualified to confirm or deny what is perhaps the central factual claim of Viganó’s testimony. This is that in 2009 or 2010 (I quote from Viganó’s testimony):
Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.
(McCarrick had retired at the usual age from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. in 2007. On June 20, 2018, he was stripped of the title of Cardinal in light of allegations that he had sexually abused a minor. He retains the rank of Archbishop.)
This claim is explosive because following the election of Pope Francis, McCarrick was, as one journalist approvingly expressed, “back in the mix and busier than ever,” having been “more or less put out to pasture” by Pope Benedict.
Archbishop Viganó made a special point in his testimony of pointing to Cardinal Ouellet, among others, as able to corroborate his claims. In a second public letter, he addressed Cardinal Ouellet directly:
Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.
Read more on LifeSiteNews

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Peter Kwasniewski: Visit to England 26th to 30th October

Prof. Peter Kwasniewski, a prolific blogger, author, and writer for LifeSiteNews, is visiting England later this month, with a brand new book:
Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile.
Professor Kwasniewski will be at the following events:

26th Oct, Friday, Oxford: High Mass 6pm followed by book launch, SS Gregory & Augustine's, Woodstock Road, Oxford
27th Oct, Saturday, Aylesford: LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, Mass at 1:30pm followed by talk from Prof. Kwasniewski. Mass will include the premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, Ramsgate: Sung Mass 12 noon, St Augustine's Shrine, Ramsgate, followed by talk and book signing. Mass will include a premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, South Woodford: High Mass 6pm, Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London, followed by talk and book signing.
30th Oct, Tuesday, London: 6pm Sung Vespers, Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, followed by book launch.

This book isn't even available yet, but it will be on sale at the various events organised for him by the Latin Mass Society, at Oxford, Aylesford Priory, Ramsgate, South Woodford and Warwick Street in London. 
As part of the tour, two new choral compositions will receive their world premieres by the ensemble Cantus Magnus, under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn: a motet “Ego Mater Pulchrae Dilectionis” (SATB) on October 27th at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, and the Missa Rex in Æternum (ATB) on October 28th in Ramsgate; these will be joined by three UK premieres of other motets.

SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford
Full details below

Friday, October 05, 2018

The lay vocation and subordination to the clergy

LifeSiteNews has a piece by me on the lay vocation. It begins:

Recent and very public failures of bishops raise the question of what role the laity should have in the Catholic Church. Lay people can feel like dumb spectators watching a tragedy in which bishops and other clergy have all the leading roles. This is clearly not a healthy situation, but what, in fact, is the lay vocation? In what way are lay people called, as members of Christ’s mystical body, to advance the kingdom of God? Certainly, the laity are crew, not just passengers, in the barque of St. Peter, and not even subordinate crew. As the 1983 Code of Canon Law tells us (Canon 208):

From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.

What, then, is the function related to the lay condition? The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem (4) tells us:

The laity must take up the restoration of the temporal order (ordo temporalis) as their own special task. Led by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere.

As the Decree goes on to detail, this can be done in the context of family, professional, and political life.

What this suggests, along with the traditional teaching of the Church on the “two swords,” the division of labor in the Christian society between Pope and Emperor, is that bishops and clergy as such should not seek to direct in detail the work of Catholic statesmen, academics and teachers, and parents. It is given to the clergy, and above all to bishops, to judge according to the moral law, but judgment on matters of prudence — scientific judgment, educational judgment, political judgement, and so on — is the special gift and duty of the lay state.

Read the whole thing here.

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

More about the Prayer to St Michael

LifeSiteNews has published a short piece of mine on the Prayer to St Michael, reflecting on the renewed used of the Prayer to St Michael by in six dioceses of the United States of America, in the context of the abuse crisis.

I write:

The [Second Vatican] Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes 37 remind us:

A monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.

This is exactly what the Prayer to St. Michael reflects. Why did it ever disappear from use?

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The death penalty in the Catholic Herald

Last weekend the Catholic Herald published a letter of mine on the Death Penalty.

Greg Whelan (Letters, 14th Sept) claims to be ‘mystified’ by the widespread concern of Pope Francis’ reversal of the teaching of the Church on the subject of the Death Penalty.

He reminds us that the Church has ‘changed its mind’ about the best punishment for various offences. However this is hardly the matter at issue. The crimes he mentions, such as fornication, are still condemned by the Church as grave sins. What Pope Francis appears to be claiming is the discovery of a new grave sin, that of using the death penalty, even when it might be considered most appropriate.

The penal code found in the Old Testament was in force only for a specific group of people for a specific period of time. Other times and circumstances require other legal solutions. It is preserved for us in Scripture, however, because it teaches us about the seriousness of the crimes it condemns and the importance of the search for justice. Among other things, as St Paul reiterates (Rom13:4), it makes clear that the Death Penalty can rightly be used.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Fr Francis Doyle and St Mary Magdelen

Last weekend I had the following letter to the Catholic Universe printed (last weekend's edition). They cut out the last line, which I've put in bold below, but then you can't have everything.

Fr Doyle often has edifying things to say, but on the occasion his column of 14th September he seemed to slip into the role of the de-bunking liberal know-it-all: generations of Catholic artists, scholars and ordinary folk are wrong, we know better, and it's not even a matter of legitimate debate: they were just stupid, they got into a muddle. This tone really gets my goat. It is almost always based on shallow scholarship and shallower theology. No one can prove the the Woman Caught in Adultery, the Sinner with the Nard, Mary Magdalen exorcised of seven devils, and Mary of Bethany, were not the same person. But if you sit patiently at the feet of the Fathers of the Church you might learn something.

Sir,

I must take issue with Fr Francis Doyle (Questions and Answers, 14th Sept), who dismisses the traditional identification of the 'sinner' who anointed Jesus' feet with nard with Mary of Bethany and with Mary Magdalen, as a mere 'confusion'. No doubt he would be equally dismissive of the further identification of Mary Magdelen with the 'woman taken in adultery'.

The Latin Fathers of the Church held that these people are the same, and this view has become embedded not only in art, but in the liturgy. In the pre-1969 calendar the feast of St Martha (29th July) is the octave of the feast of her sister St Mary Magdalen (22nd), and in the Dies irae, sung at Masses for the dead, the penitent sinner forgiven by our Lord is called 'Mary'.

Should the views of the Fathers and the testimony of the ancient liturgical tradition, be dismissed out of hand? The Second Vatican Council certainly thought not, directing that future translations of the Psalms conform to 'the entire tradition of the Latin Church' (Sacrosanctum Concilium 91). The 2001 Instruction Liturgicam authenticam notes similarly that translations should reflect the 'understanding of biblical passages which has been handed down by liturgical use and by the tradition of the Fathers of the Church .'

Fr Doyle owes this view of St Mary Magdalen a little more respect.
Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw, Chairman, Latin Mass Society
I've written on this specific issue in more detail here.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Long Prayer to St Michael

Happy Michaelmas to my readers!

On this day dedicated to the honour of the glorious leader of the heavenly armies, St Michael the Archangel, I thought it would be useful to reproduce the 'long' Prayer to Michael, published in 1890, a few years after the familiar short one used at the end of the Traditional Mass, by the same author, Pope Leo XIII. He composed it for use in exorcisms: the prayer of exorcism itself comes next.

I take this from Kevin Symonds, The Prayer to St Michael. This book gives a thorough account of the historical and supernatural background to both prayers to St Michael. As Symonds notes, exorcisms are not to be used by the laity; I reproduce it here because of its historical interest; its own seems to have a wider application, in any case.

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O most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in our battle and struggle ‘against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places’ (Eph.6:12). Come to the aid of men whom God has created incorruptible and has made to the image of His likeness (Wis. 2:23) and has bought at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (1Cor.6:20). O fight today with the army of blessed angels in the battle of the Lord, as formerly you fought against the leader of pride, Lucifer, and his rebellious angels - ‘and they did not prevail, neither was their place found anymore in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, who leads astray the whole world; and he was cast down to the earth, and with him his angels were cast down’ (Apoc.12:8-9). Behold the ancient enemy and murderer has risen up terribly! Transformed as an angel of light he goes about at large with a whole troop of wicked spirits and attacks the earth, there to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, and to steal souls destined for a crown of eternal glory, that he might afflict and destroy them in everlasting death. On men depraved in mind and corrupt in heart the wicked dragon pours out the poison of his iniquity as a most foul river; a spirit of lying, of ungodliness and of blasphemy and the deadly breath of lust, of all iniquity and vices. The most cunning enemies have filled the Church, pride of the Immaculate Lamb, with bitterness; they have drenched Her with gall, they have laid their impious hands on all things desired of Holy Church. There the See of Blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth has been established as the light of the nations, there have they placed the throne of the abomination of their impiety, so that having struck the Pastor they may also prevail to scatter the flock. O leader most invincible, be present with God's people against invading evil spirits, and bring us victory. Holy Church venerates thee as her guardian and protector; She takes pride in thee as her defender against the wicked powers of earth and hell; to thee the Lord has entrusted the souls of the redeemed, to be placed in heavenly bliss. Beseech the God of peace to crush Satan under our feet, that he may no longer be able to hold men captive and harm the Church. Bear our prayers into the sight of the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may come to our aid without delay, and that you may seize the dragon, the ancient serpent which is the devil and Satan, and cast him into the bottomless pit, ‘so that he may no more seduce the nations’ (Apoc. 20:23).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The episcopal crisis comes to England

We all knew about Fr Hill, the priest-abuser of Gatwick Airport, long ago; we learnt about Bishop Kieran Conry more recently. One of the links between the cases is the involvement of the late Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who moved Fr Hill to fresh pastures after earlier victims came forward, and promoted Bishop Conry's career. In both cases he was only doing what most bishops seemed to be doing: giving abusers new opportunities for abuse and seeing priests clouded by questions about their chastity as ideal candidates for promotion: that was just what happened in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, isn't it? Remember that Bishop Kieran was chosen by the Bishops' Conference to be head of their catechetical initiatives and 'Bishop for Youth'. (The official website summary of his career somehow neglects to mention his extra-curricular activities.) He must have had the support of a lot of other bishops as well.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Institute of Christ the King established in Shrewsbury

Bishop Mark Davies celebrating the Traditional Mass
in the seminary of the Institute in Italy.
Well done to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest! My last report of their progress is here.

The ICKSP Facebook page announces the following:

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest receives a new mission in the UK!

The Right Rev. Mark Davies announced last week that he appoints Canon Smith, icrss, to celebrate week day Mass, hear confession and celebrate Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament at Shrewsbury Cathedral.


Canon Smith will be in charge of the celebration of Mass and Office at St Winefrides Shrewsbury, where we will reside with a Seminarian of the ICKSP.

Thank you, your Lordship!

We entrust this new foundation of the ICKSP to our Lady of Walsingham


Friday, September 21, 2018

Clericalism and Clericalisation

Re-posted from May 2016

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Not a specifically clerical role.
Some time ago I criticised the views of Russell Shaw (no relation) on the subject of clericalism and caesaropapism. He appeared to think, in his book To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain, that cases of caesaropapism, such as the Emperor Constantine regarding himself as holding ultimate authority over doctrinal matters, are actully cases of its opposite, clericalism: clericalism being the arrogation of lay authority by the clergy.

I have been thinking since then about the notion of 'clericalisation of the laity'. This term was popularised by Pope St John Paul II; it is used in Christifideles laici (1988: 23), but the most explicit discussion I have found is, for some reason, an address to the Bishops of the Antilles in 2002. As he explained, it


becomes a form of clericalism when the sacramental or liturgical roles that belong to the priest are assumed by the lay faithful, or when the latter set out to accomplish tasks of pastoral governing that properly belong to the priest.

Again:

The commitment of lay persons is politicised when the laity is absorbed by the exercise of ‘power’ within the Church.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Reform, restoration, and Pope Francis

I'm re-posting this from August 2015. It is a reminder of how hard I and many others tried to understand the strange things Pope Francis has been saying over the years, and also, I think, that these attempts were not entirely without value.

The putative opposition between 'reform' and 'restoration' has a renewed importance in the context of the debate about clerical abuse. I shall be reposting some old writings of mine about clericalism in the same spirit.
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Cardinal Burke in Oxford: a reformer or a restorationist?
Today I am publishing a Position Paper from the International Federation Una Voce on the concepts of tradition, restoration, and reform. Go over there to read it.

Some readers will know about all this already, but the paper establishes with a degree of care and thoroughness the fallacy of claiming that there is some kind of opposition between reform and restoration. The talk of reform 'going forward' and restoration 'going back', and all this sort of irritating guff, seems to emerge from nothing more than a metaphor gone berserk - the metaphor of spatial movement for political change. Anyone would think, from the language of 'change change change' in current politics, that change is a good thing in itself, as long as the situation it produces has not been tried before. (See Peter Kwasniewski on this over on the NLM.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Walsall NHS Trust on parenthood

The National Health Service trust (a local grouping of health service institutions under the National Health Service) in Walsall produced an offensive poster, reported for example here. It has proved to be offensive to a lot of different people for different reasons.

It has stimulated me to produce some memes of my own, which I include here; the original version was contrasting the shoe-n-lipstick combination with a baby's dummy.


It is offensive to feminists, because it makes use of a stereotype of women: it suggests that they are motivated by what is represented by the shoe and lipstick. They stand for 'fun', presumably: the fun a woman can have most easily when unencumbered by pregnancy or a dependent child.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

FSSP in Reading given a 'personal parish'

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Easter Sunday with the FSSP in 2014, in St William of York, Reading
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has given the apostolate of the Fratenity of St Peter in Reading an elevated legal status, making them a 'personal parish'.
This is a very unusual legal status, but one well suited to the reality of the traditional priestly institutes.

It won't make any immediate practical difference to the work of the Fraternity, but it is a very pleasing vote of confidence by the bishop, and an example for others to follow if they wish.

Bishop Crispian Hollis gave their residence in Reading canonical status in 2010, not long before his retirement.

Full story in the Catholic Herald.


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Monday, September 10, 2018

The Viganò crisis: 'The conservatives are winning'


This must count as one of the most absurd comments on the clerical abuse crisis centred, for now, in the United States. The attempt to carry on as if nothing at all was happening, always the first recourse of the bureaucrat to a crisis, has at this moment not only failed, even according to a supporter, but become utterly ludicrous. Of course people are more interested in Archbishop Viganò's statement than in the latest missive from the Bishops' Conference about the dignity of work. Are we supposed to think that this interest is misplaced?

By that time 'team Francis' had already moved on to a kind of damage-limitation which, instead of trying to distract attention from Archbishop Viganò, focused it on what they hoped would prove to be his weaknesses. This, too, has proved a failure, however. Few people had heard of Viganò before his statement, and no-one has anything invested in his personal reputation or political associations. They just want to know if what he says is true.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The abuse crisis: too little authority, not too much

Abraham, our Patriarch
A letter to The Tablet, which they have apparently chosen not to print.

Sir

As a former Ampleforth pupil (1985-90), I share the disgust of your leader, feature article, and letters page (18 August). I think the various references to the ‘patriarchal’ Benedictine leadership model are in danger of confusing the issue, however.

If one wishes to discover the traditional, patriarchal attitude to criminal behaviour, consider the early Roman hero Brutus when, on the eve of battle, his sons were accused of treason. He executed them.

The Christian model of leadership does not endorse Brutus’ savagery, but it does stress a leader’s role in governing for the good of the community. This is the kind of government of a patriarchal family we find described in Proverbs, and modelled by saintly reforming Abbots, Bishops, and Kings in the Christian centuries. They would all have been appalled at the idea that their role had anything to do with giving criminals further opportunities to commit their crimes.

What we find described in the IICSA report into Downside and Ampleforth is not the rule of a ‘father in God’ inspired by a traditional conception of God himself. Rather, we see the influence of a modern conception of a ‘God without wrath’, a senile and indulgent grandfather. The problem is not the Benedictine model of leadership: the problem is the corruption of that model.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw


Saturday, September 01, 2018

Attacking the whistleblower: the abuse-enabling culture is alive and well

In the current phase of the Church's crisis, we are focusing as much or more on the enablers of abuse, than on the abusers themselves. It is time we thought about them, because it removes the comforting impression that a 'few bad apples' could be ejected from the priesthood and all would be well. As is sometimes pointed out, perhaps 4% of priests were sex abusers. The problem is the general ethos and culture which enabled them to carry on their abuse, and the superiors systematically protected the abusers. Never mind the 4% of priests: it is the 60% or 80% or more of bishops and religious superiors who harboured sexual predators and provided them with fresh opportunities for abuse. It may be that most of the priest-abusers have died or been laicised by now, but their hierarchical enablers, few of whom had to face up to their crimes when the clerical abuse became a big story in 2002, have continued to flourish. This is an indication that, even if stricter reporting procedures have had a restraining effect on sexual predation by priests since 2002, the ethos and culture which made the abuse possible is still largely intact.

What is this culture? I have on this blog tried to go beyond a superficial understanding of it with the help of two perspectives: first, the classic account of how conformism can distort an individual's behaviour, and how it can take over an organisation; and second, the way that the rejection of the Church's teaching on sexuality has destroyed the hierarchy's ability to respond appropriately to cases of abuse. In this post I want to consider things from a third perspective, which is connected with conformism: the pattern of abuse-enabling.

Eleven months ago I was defending the 'Filial Correction', and wrote this about some of its critics:

Something profoundly worrying about criticisms of the signatories of the Correction specifically for speaking out about problems which every informed Catholic already knows about, is the mindset it reveals, one focused not on the truth, but on appearances. It is strongly reminiscent of the mindset at work in abusive families, where children are taught to pretend things are all right, when they are not: certain topics are not to be broached, certain facts are not to be referred to. This attitude can be enforced not by the abusive parent directly, but by other family members who are trying to keep up appearances and hold the family together. It is nevertheless profoundly unhealthy, and indeed is linked to psychological disorders in the children.

We should fear any such attitude, however well-intentioned, invading the Church. If there are problems, we should talk about them, and not pretend they do not exist.


It is natural to ask whether, since Cardinal McCarrick was himself a sexual predator, those who defend him, and often had such long associations with him, are or have been sexual predators as well. It is after all very possible. But even if some are, I expect most are not. They stand in relation to McCarrick as many family members stand in relation to an abusive parent. They desperately try to protect him, not because they approve of what he does, but because they are terrified of the consequences of it all coming out. They are frightened that the exposure of the abuser will destroy the family.

That specific fear is not, of course, entirely irrational, but the behaviour of these family members is not to be understood in simple, rational terms. They are, after all, victims of the abuse, whether sexual or psychological, and this has shaped their behaviour in non-rational ways. To put it in crude terms, they have for years and perhaps decades been bullied and brainwashed by the abuser, and the complex and self-contradictory message the abuser has sought to impress upon them includes the following: the abuser does no wrong; they are at fault for bad things which are happening; they are guilty and should fear the attention of outsiders; the abuser loves them and protects them; and terrible things would happen if he were removed from the scene.

Those who have internalised this message can go to astonishing lengths to protect the person who is making their lives hell, and to maintain the situation in which his behaviour can continue.

An added factor, particularly when we move from families to larger institutions, is when the abuser is able to promote favoured victims to the status of co-abuser, or give them other privileges which depend upon the continuing existence of the abusive system.

It is worth emphasising that I am talking about abuse, not what the secular press likes to call 'consensual relationships with adults'. Abuse does not stop being abuse when the victim turns 18, but the pattern of behaviour I am describing has little in common with, say, a seminarian having an affair with a fellow seminarian, or a woman outside the seminary, serious as that would be. Nor am I principally concerned with sexual orientation: the pattern of behaviour can equally be displayed when the underlying abuse is not sexual at all, but psychological. My interest here is the relationship between what we might call the core abuse and the penumbra of unhealthy attitudes and patterns of behaviour which come to be displayed by those around the abuser, even by people who don't take part in the core abuse.

For these attitudes and patterns of behaviour in the circle around the abuser are themselves abusive.

Imagine a family or institution at whose apex there is a classic abuser. He has surrounded himself with people who permit, facilitate, and cover up the abuse, and placed them in positions of privilege. Beyond this inner circle there will be people who have not been completely conditioned by the abuse, for example because they are newer on the scene, or younger. Most of them will have much more contact with the inner circle than with the abuser himself. It is the inner circle who will do much, or perhaps even all, of the direct work of bullying and brainwashing these outer-circle people, who will be looking to them for guidance. Consistently turning a blind eye to abuse, refusing to talk about it, becoming angry when certain topics are broached: these are powerful tools, if applied consistently to a captive audience over a long period of time. They train the junior members of the institution or family in the behaviour which is expected of them. This is a training in patterns of thought and behaviour which are unhealthy: which are harmful to mental health. They are gaslighting them.

This will work most profoundly in a closed institution like a cult, but it can work in families, seminaries, dioceses, the whole Church, and indeed in a whole society. The more open the institution the harder it will be for a culture of abuse to distort members' sense of justice and of what is normal, but it can still work to a large extent. This is how totalitarian states can continue to exist.

The most important thing for abuse-facilitators to do is to keep a lid on the exchange of information and dissent. This is a very pronounced principle in many cults, and of course in repressive states. In institutions and families which have limited coercive measures to employ against members, social pressure is the key to this. People who speak out internally or seek to attract the attention of outsiders are subjected to vilification and ostracism. Abusive institutions are generally also on the look-out for scapegoats to blame for their poor functioning, so hysterical attacks on whistleblowers can serve a double purpose.

The people attacking the whistleblowers are, to repeat, not necessarily the top-level abusers in the institution. They are people who are both abused and abuser: who are inflicting on others what they fear will happen to themselves. At the limit, we might want to absolve them from blame altogether: they may be too terrified and pyschologically damaged to think straight. But my concern is not with Maoist China; I'm talking about something at the milder end of the range. The Church is a dysfunctional family, not a death-cult. The unbalanced attacks on Archbishop Viganò, the desperate attempts to change the subject, are not being carried out by brain-washed zombies. They are being carried out by people who have got into a habit of protecting the institution regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

Talking of tiers of abuse may seem a rather extreme approach to analysing a simple problem of over-zealous loyalty to the Church, but remember, we now know that we are dealing with the institutional manifestation of widespread sexual abuse. The question I am probing is: given that we have had an endemic abusive system at the heart of the institution for fifty or more years, at the level of the episcopacy, the seminaries, and even the Roman curia, what effect on the overall culture of the Church has it had?

The answer is that it will have done its best to draw into its distorted mind-set as many people involved with the Church as possible. It will have done its best to inculcate in them the abusive assumptions that the system is not, really, bad; the victims are guilty; and it would be terrible if the system is exposed: whistleblowers are traitors. We know how ruthlessly men too strong, too healthy, to bow to this set of attitudes have too often been treated. We know the kind of weak and weaselly individual who too often has found preferment in this system. Thank heaven, there are exceptions. I am not making a generalisation about bishops or priests, so much as an observation of the direction in which things have been pushed, a direction we would not have gone in at all had it not been for the poison of abuse eating away at the good sense of good people in the Church over many decades.

This problem will not quickly be cured. Removing the chief abusers and their chief enablers is obviously urgently necessary. Making it clear to the next rank down, to people who have consciously or half-consciously been aiding abuse and its cover-up, that this is unjust and continues and spreads deeply damaging attitudes and behaviours - that it is itself abusive - is the next step.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Holy Trinity Hethe: Flower festival and devotions 8-9th Sept


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Photos from the Walsingham Pilgrimage

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Early on Friday morning last week, about 60 pilgrims set out from Ely to walk about 60 miles to Walsingham. Our intention was the conversion of England, and the means we were employing to bring this about were principally prayer and penance. We didn't go by bus. We walked, because it is more difficult to walk. We wanted to do it the hard way.

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We had the Votive Mass for Pilgrims before we left Ely, in St Ethelreda's Church. It was a Sung Mass with chant: we had with us an excellent chant schola, led by Gwilym Evans, a seminarian of the FSSP.

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The Pilgrims' Blessing (from the Roman Ritual) was given by one of our chaplains, Fr Michael Rowe from Perth, Australia. Our other chaplain was Fr James Mawdsley FSSP.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Viganò and the pyramid of lies

The Viganò story broke on the morning of the third day of the Latin Mass Society's Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham. I started seeing it on social media at a rest-stop about 5 miles from the shrine, as I was tweeting our progress. So I come a little late to the party, and would much rather be writing about other, and more edifying, matters. But here are some thoughts, now I have got home.

Catholics, indeed everyone interested in the Church, stand in dazed awe at an audacious pyramid of lies. Broader, comprehensive lies support detailed, lesser lies, in a intricate pattern, soaring to vast heights and covering an extensive territory, something like the fortress of Sauron, in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant.

A small but indefatigible cadre of Catholic commentators (Austen Ivereigh, Massimo Faggioli et al.) are suggesting to us that this fortress of falsehood is to be found in Viganò's own 'testimony'. They see a pattern of deceit, motivated by frustrated ambition, and no doubt other unworthy things, being supported by a 'team' including various persons they do not like. If this were the case, the situation would be extremely worrying. This interpretation recruits as Viganò's co-conspirators prelates of far greater dignity and popularity than Archbishop Viganò himself. It is impossible to think of a public challenge to a Pope's authority as elaborately planned or supported by such senior churchmen in modern times, and coming on top of the McCarrick case and the Grand Jury report, the implications are dizzying. One could only say that, on this view, one statement at least of Viganò's memorandum is true: that the cracks perceived by Pope Paul VI as letting the smoke of Satan into the Church have become chasms.