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.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Follow the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage

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Blogging this week has been pushed aside by preparations for the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage.

Within the limits imposed by the limited mobile phone coverage in East Anglia, and limited time for fiddling about with phones, I will try to provide updates using Twitter: follow me on

@lmschairman

I will also provide updates, with a bit of luck, on Strava. This is an exercise app. which allows users to upload routes and times of walks (/runs etc.) recorded as they are done. I plan to upload each leg of each day's walk at the stops. We'll see how well this works!

Please say a prayer for the pilgrimage. We have about 65 pilgrims this year, slightly more than last year.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

There must be episcopal resignations

On CNA, JD Flynn writes:

A third thing that could derail serious ecclesial reform has to do with the call for episcopal resignations. Wuerl, in particular, has been the subject of ongoing calls for resignation, along with other bishops. While the Holy See might judge those moves to be justified, they could have the unintended effect of stalling more systematic and cultural change, if they are not managed carefully. If individual bishops resign, and are then cast as the cause of the problems, the pressure for broader reforms could deflate. The Vatican must ensure that if it accepts the resignation of some bishops, the remaining members of the episcopate remain under pressure to enact the reform efforts the USCCB has said it would like to facilitate.

Some strange things have been written on this crisis, but - in an otherwise helpful article - this deserves some kind of prize. I think it is useful, when addressing problems in the Church, to ask what we would be saying about a parallel problem in another institution, or a different problem in the same institution, and, if what we are saying about the the issue at hand is totally different, what justifies that difference. Flynn's bizarre reasoning illustrates such a contrast.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

'Look not upon me': thoughts on the abuse crisis

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Mass of reparation in Oxford: Votive Mass pro remissione peccatorum
'Look not upon me', says the Beloved, the Church. 'For the sun hath looked upon me.' Labouring in the vineyard has darkened her skin; she is conscious that her beauty is hidden. She says: 'I am black but beautiful'. (Song of Songs, 1:5, 4)

Christ also, the spotless Lamb, was disfigured, by his enemies. Isaiah says of Him in prophecy: 'there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him' (Is 53:2). But again, Christ's beauty is hidden, rather than lost.

What has happened to the Church in the last 50 years and more is a disfigurement, a disgrace. Like the Beloved of the Song of Songs, the Church has been cast out of doors without her veil:

'The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.' (Song 5:7)

The defilement of the Church is real in one sense, and only apparent in another. As a human institution she can be wounded and shamed. As a divine institution she cannot. She is both human and divine, a mirror of Christ, who in His humanity truly suffered and died. This suffering was not unreal or superficial: the betrayal, the stripping naked, the being spat upon, the being tortured and killed. It is profoundly real and of the greatest significance. And yet Christ in his Divine nature, and the Church as the Mystical Body and Bride of Christ, is not defiled: such a thing is impossible. She remains beautiful, though blackened.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Appeal to the Cardinals over the Death Penalty

Update: there is a fuller list of signatories on the LifeSite story here.

Press Release: see the appeal letter on First Things

An unprecedented appeal to the College of Cardinals

In an unprecedented move, 45 Catholic academics and clergy have signed an Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, urging the cardinals to tell Pope Francis that he must teach the authentic Catholic doctrine concerning capital punishment. The appeal follows an addition to the Church’s Catechism announced by Pope Francis on August 2nd. The new paragraph, which is confusingly worded, has been taken by many inside and outside the Church to say that capital punishment is intrinsically immoral, and must never be used. Such a teaching would run contrary to many passages in the Bible, and to the teaching of the Church down the centuries.

Catholics hold that while a pope has the right to clarify matters of faith and morals, he has no right to introduce new doctrines, or to contradict what the Church has always believed. They likewise hold that a pope must not seek to impose his private opinions on the faithful. The petition, which has been signed by professors of philosophy, theology, law, and history from Catholic institutions across the world, and by priests from several countries, calls on the cardinals to advise the pope that he must withdraw the offending paragraph, and that he must not ‘adulterate the word of God’. It also advises the cardinals that they have a serious obligation to warn the pope in this way, in order not to fail in their own duty toward God and the Church.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A note on babies in church, from 1921

Every now and then the issue of babies crying in Mass comes up, and I thought this note from the early 20th century is worth preserving on this blog. The book from which this anecdote comes was published in 1921 (it is available as a reprint interestingly).

Hat-tip to @AudreyFaithSeah on Twitter, who tells us

Timeless wisdom on preaching for hearing people (from a 1924 issue of “the Catholic Deaf-mute” newspaper).

I've written about children and babies in church here (on Geoffrey Hull claiming that babies should not be there at all), here (on 'crying rooms'), and here (FIUV Position Paper on children and the Traditional Mass).

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Come to Walsingham with Latin Mass Society!

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The LMS walking pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham is taking place this month: we gather on the evening of Thursday 23rd August, and get to Walsingham on Sunday 26th August.

Book here.

We need volunteers as usual. If you have catering experience and would like to be a cook,

or have a private car / MPV / Landrover or the like and would like to drive a support vehicle,

email info@lms.org.uk with 'Walsingham Volunteers' in the subject line. These are non-walking roles, and there is no pilgrim's registration fee if you take part in these ways.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Venerating a relic of the Cure of Ars


On his feast-day, Wedneday.

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Successful Latin Course from the LMS

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Last week the Latin Mass Society's residential Latin Course took place. We were close to capacity in the venue, the Carmelite Retreat Centre at Boars Hill near Oxford. With the help of Matthew Schellhorn and a number of singers who were present as students Sung Mass was celebrated each day and Compline twice. The two priests who attended as students took turns with Fr John Hunwicke, who was teaching, to celebrate the Sung Masses, as well as Low Masses before breakfast.

A few photos from the Roman Forum

Update: I see that the talks from the 2017 Roman Forum, including my own, are now available on the Keep the Faith website (they label it 'The Gardone Italian Symposium'). The whole set is here; mine is here. You can download the talks for $1.50, or the whole set of the Symposium for $18. Other speakers include Fr John Hunwicke, Prof Thomas Pink, Jamie Bogle, and Dr John Rao. I've mentioned on this blog the very interesting talks by Dr Clemens Cavellin, which touch on Yoga and the New Age.

Readers can get a 20% discount on downloading talks from the Keep the Faith website during August, using the code KTFSUMMER. There's masses of stuff there, including excellent talks from people now deceased, including Michael Davies, Hamish Fraser, Fr Paul Crane, and many others. They have the audio archive of Roman Forum symposiums going back years, and lots of other talks as well.

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I gave a paper to the Roman Forum Summer Symposium this year, as I did last. Here are a few photographs.

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The symposium takes place in the town of Gardone Riviera, on Lake Garda. We use the beautiful church of St Nicholas there. Singing at the litugies is led by David Hughes (with the stripey shirt, above), a council-member of the Church Music Association of America.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The death penalty for the prestige of the Papacy

I was asked for a quote by a journalist when the story broke; it was used by LifeSite here. I paste my full statement below.

'Catechisms are not usually regarded as magisterial documents in their own right, but as systematic summaries of magisterial documents. Their value lies in their accuracy as reflections of the Church’s perennial teaching. With this change by Pope Francis, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has become less accurate than it was before, since it is clear from both the teaching and the practice of the Church over two millennia, and the clear and consistent message of Scripture, that capital punishment is not incompatible with the dignity of the criminal, nor with his redemption.

‘The text recently published also appeals to contingent historical circumstances, such as the modern penal system. Such considerations, which apply in any case to some countries more than to others, are irrelevant to the question of whether capital punishment is always and everywhere wrong.

‘This development brings to a head the troubling question of whether the Holy Father’s theological advisers see themselves as bound by the definitive statements of past popes, including the well-known account of capital punishment given by Pope Pius XII. If they are not bound by past popes, there is no reason why future popes should be bound by this statement, and indeed the authority of Pope Francis over Catholics today is called into question.’


(See also my post about the death penalty here.)

Friday, August 03, 2018

Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 3

Reposted from September 2014
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In my last two posts I wrote about what our response can and should be to crimes, not personal crimes we have committed but those of the past (and for that matter of the present) which have, as it were, defiled the Church. Here I want to say a little more about the form reparation can take in practice.

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Clockwise from top left: St Cuthbert MayneBl John Nelson SJ, 
who forgave the Queen as he was disembowelled, Bl Everard Hanse
and Bl Thomas Sherwood, a layman. All executed under Elizabeth Tudor.
Here, again, is something relevant from Shakespeare. In his The Rape of Lucrece, Lucrece confesses her rape by Tarquin to her husband and father, and then commits suicide in front of them, plunging a knife into herself. Shakespeare describes what happens to her blood.
And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
Who, like a late-sack'd island, vastly stood
Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd,
And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin stain'd.
The idea here is that she did have some measure of guilt for what had occurred, and her death is a kind of expiation. It makes most sense, at least to a Christian reader, on Clare Asquith's reading: that Lucrece represents the English community, which in part remained faithful and in part apostatised under pressure from the Protestant Revolt. The shedding of the blood of the martyrs, which Shakespeare's description of Lucrece's suicide suggests, was a kind of expiation of the apostasy. The faithfulness of few, a faithfulness to death, in this way made up for the faithlessness of others. It makes the reconciliation of the whole country, the 'late-sacked island', more possible.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 2

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Good Friday Liturgy with the FSSP, Reading
Reposted from September 2014.
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In my last post, I suggested that what may be necessary in dealing with the crimes of our predecessors in the Church are two things: compensating the victims, and repudiating any ideological justification put forward for the crimes. My examples were anti-Semitism and paedophilia.

My discussion of past crimes has, deliberately, focused on issues where the crimes clearly really did take place, and clearly are crimes. I don't want to give the impression that I want to accept every accusation against Catholics as true: that will lead to injustice just as surely as treating every accusation as false. Nor am I, by any means, inclined to say that everything which has been done by Catholics down the centuries which does not meet the approval of modern liberals is a crime. Again, the hysteria surrounding the investigation of the recent past in Ireland shows that a lack of historical perspective, and extrapolation from insufficient information, can distort the picture to the extent that good people end up being depicted as monsters. Let us hope that the apology issued by the Associated Press news service over their own reporting of the Tuam excavations represents the high-water mark of this lunacy.

Plenty of crimes, however, are real enough; there is really no need to gild the lily. Looking at the child abuse scandal, for example, it is increasingly clear that it was a problem which affected a lot of institutions at a particular period of time, but that does absolutely nothing to excuse its presence in the Church. The seriousness with which this plague infected the Church is mind-boggling, and one may be excused for asking: what can possibly wash this from us?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 1

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Top left: St Edmund Campion, top right St Ralph Sherwin;
bottom left St John Payne; bottom right Bl John Ford
All priests, tortured for information and executed on trumped up charges of treason
under Elizabeth Tudor. Stained glass from St Edmund's College Ware.
This week I can't do much if any blogging, so I shall be reposing this series of posts from September 2014.

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Further to my posts about 16th and 17th century Anglicanism and the Islamic militants of today, a similar argument has now been made in a mainstream publication, The Week, by its Senior Correspondent, Michael Brendan Dougherty. Dougherty's focus is on the policies which led up to, and responded to, the Irish Potato Famine of 1847: much closer to home than the Tudor persecutions. He makes an interesting point about local dissidents being used as a proxy for foreign enemies, a point related to something I have been saying about the problem of the Church being aligned too closely with the decadent West.

In this post, however, I want to explore another aspect of the problem. If we are to talk about the past, and the bad things which happened there, which may or may nor have parallels with the present, the question arises of the what attitude the modern successors of the evil-doers should have to it.

This problem is more acute for the Catholic Church than for most religious groups, for two reasons. One is that it is the oldest institution on earth, of which one can say: this man here is the lineal successor of that one from the distant past, with a recognisable institution around him. The English monarchy is not as old as the Catholic Church by nearly five centuries, on the most generous analysis, and I can't think of any other institution around today as old as that. Almost any event you care to mention in European history since about the third Century has the Catholic Church as a protagonist, and often she is the only one still around to shoulder any blame which might be going.

The other reason is that the Catholic Church does not repudiate her past teaching. As I remarked in my posts on Anglicanism, Anglicanism today is completely different from the Anglicanism of the 16th century. Modern Anglicans can, if they like, simply say that Cranmer (for example) was wrong. Why not?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Youth Conference for Catholic Medics: 29th September, London

Another conference in the continuing series, following the one I took part in, and promises to be excellent.

The Third Annual CMA Youth Conference
Catholics in Healthcare: Building a Culture of Life
Saturday 29th September
St Aloysius' Catholic Church, Euston, London
1:30pm - 5:30pm


The Catholic Medical Association invites all young (18-35yrs) Catholics in healthcare (doctors, nurses, medical students, nursing students, pharmacists etc) to the Third Annual CMA Youth Conference. Speakers and a panel will explore the meaning of the culture of life in relation to healthcare and how to live by that culture in our professional and personal lives. 

There will be a small fayre to showcase the work of lay and religious organisations related to healthcare and tea and coffee will be provided during the break.

Entry is by donation (suggested donation: £5, payable at the door). Please be generous in order to enable the continued work of the Catholic Medical Association's Committee for the New Evangelisation (CMANE). The CMANE supports young Catholics in healthcare.

Register at: buildingacultureoflife.eventbrite.co.uk or facebook.com/CMAEnglandandWales

Further information about the talks:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Traditional spirituality is part of the solution to the abuse crisis, not part of the problem

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Fr Richard Bailey of the Manchester Oratory celebrates Mass for the St Catherine's Trust
Summer School in St Winifride's, Holywell, in Wales
As regular readers know, I have from time to time addressed the claim that 'traditional' spirituality and attitudes are part of the cause of clerical abuse. This idea, more often assumed than stated clearly, is part of the reason why the liberal mainstream media has been more comfortable reporting abuse, and failures to deal with abuse, by bishops and indeed Popes regarded as conservative. To make a fuss over Archbishop Rembert Weakland, whose homosexual affairs were as notorious as his dissent from the teaching of the Church and his wreckovation of his Cathedral, ran against the narrative. It seems to have left editors scratching their heads and wondering how to play the story. They are still doing so today with stories about Cardinal McCarrick.

The power of the 'media narrative' is extraordinary, and needs explaining. Here's an article which says the American media is so inward-looking they suffer from group-think. But the attitude which this narrative reflects is also found in the Church.

I want to say something about the association of ideas at work here, making use of things I have already written on this blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Are things simply going to get gradually better? Or should we hang some bishops?

I was a little startled to read over the last 24 hours two calls for bishops to be hanged. One was from Matthew Walther, writing for the non-Catholic, mainstream magazine The Week. Walther is no anti-clerical fanatic, but a faithful Catholic. He is writing with a touch of hyperbole, perhaps, but he is making a serious point.

McCarrick obviously should not have been elevated to the cardinalate in 2001. He should not have been made archbishop of Washington. He should not have been simply "removed from public ministry" a month ago, but defrocked. In the time of St. Pius V, a cleric found guilty by an ecclesiastical tribunal of McCarrick's crimes would have been publicly executed by the secular authorities.

That would have been fitting. Indeed, I cannot really aspire to some kind of quasi-journalistic neutrality here. I believe that anyone who abuses a child should be put to death, priest or layman, man or woman. I hate child abusers with a perfect hatred, one that rests uneasily in my heart with the imperative of forgiveness enjoined by Our Lord.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Bishop Schneider on the LMS's liturgical music

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Bishop Schneider in St Mary Moorfields, London

I'm a bit late with this, but Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made a very kind statement about the music arranged for his recent Mass in London, directed by Matthew Schellhorn.

I would like to say a few words about the music I encountered during my recent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in London.

The polyphony of this Mass, sensitively chosen for the celebration and exemplifying the great breadth of the English choral repertoire, was beautifully sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn: his generous artistic contributions in the field of Sacred Music are of true value in upholding the dignity of the Sacred Liturgy.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fr Mark Morris sacked as Chaplain of Glasgow Caledonian University over prayers of reparation for Pride event

Update: There is a peition asking Archbishop Tartaglia to support Fr Morris: https://chn.ge/2JIHh70

Bishop Toal of Motherwell has said this about Fr Morton's comments on Facebook:

“While Fr Morton feels justified in telling Fr Morris that he should have sought the permission and support of his Ordinary before having the Rosary in Reparation for the Gay Pride Gathering, I don't see him applying the same rule to himself in regard to seeking my permission, as his Ordinary, in writing his open letter to Fr Morris. Fr Morton chooses therefore to speak on this matter as an individual and he does not represent me nor the Diocese of Motherwell.

I take issue with Fr. Morton’s uncritical approval of the Gay Pride marches. Footage of any such marches often show people dressed as priests and nuns with the clear intention of belittling and making a fool of the Catholic Church. I understand why they engage in this tomfoolery but for me and other Catholics it creates a negative impression and probably a dislike of such events. I don't agree therefore with Fr Morton's uncritical approval of activities which mock the Church of which he is a public representative. We do need to support and minister to those in our Church who experience same-sex attraction but we can't deny the Church's teaching and throw in our lot with those who do so.”

+ Joseph Toal
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Fr Morris, centre, at the Latin Mass Society Priest Training Conference at Prior Park, in 2015.
From Church Militant:


On Monday night, Fr, Mark Morris, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church (IHOM) in Balornock, led a parish "Rosary of reparation for the gross offense to God which is Pride Glasgow."
Shortly after, the service was brought to the attention of officials at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), where Fr. Morris served as chaplain. He was promptly sacked.
Read the story there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

FIUV Magazine Gregorius Magnus: new edition

The fifth edition of the online magazine of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV: Una Voce International) is available for free download as a pdf here.

The FIUV is the federation of all the Una Voce / Latin Mass groups around the world. It has more than 40 affiliates from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceana. It was founded in 1965 and meets every two years in Rome.

See its website here.


Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

FSSP Fundraising for the Warrington apostolate

Two of the original parish buildings, directly behind the church
The Fraternity of St Peter were given the beautiful and impressive church of St Mary in Warrington by Ampleforth Abbey, with the agreement of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, in 2015. Sadly, however, the the church by then no longer had the buildings once associated with it, which once housed the priests serving the parish and provided facilities for parishioners.

These buildings, however, are now available for purchase. The Fraternity's work in the north of England would be transformed by re-uniting them to the church. Please help them raise the necessary funds.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Last call for the LMS Latin Course: 30th July to 3rd August

There are still some places left! 

For details and booking see the LMS website here.

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Latinists at the 2017 course, which took place at Pantasaph in North Wales
Dates: 30th July to 3rd August 2018

The Latin Mass Society’s Residential Latin Course for adults is an intensive course, taught by two experienced tutors, focusing on the Latin of the liturgy.

It is ideal for priests and seminarians wishing to improve their Latin, and all clerics and seminarians (and those about to enter seminary) enjoy a 50% discount on the course fees, which are extremely low anyway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SSPX Oxford Mass Centre to close

The Mass centre supplied by the Society of St Pius X in Oxford is to close. The last Mass will take place on Sunday 22nd July.

Priests of the Society have been travelling to Oxford from their base in Burghlere near Newbury.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Last call for the SCT Summer School 29th July to 4th August

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The St Catherine's Trust Summer School 2018 is taking place from Sunday 29th July to Saturday 4th August at the Divine Retreat Centre, St Augustine's Monastery, in Ramsgate, for children aged 11-18.

 You can book here. There is NO FEE.

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We been doing this since 2005. Our volunteer staff and chaplain, Fr Andrew Southwell, give the children an experience, not of 'organised fun', but of something more like a school. We teach them a range of subject - catechism, history, philosophy, Latin - and we have sung or High Mass, sung Compline, and the Rosary, every day. There are also various activities and outings, which vary year by year.

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We have a very loyal group of repeat customers and it is annoying to have had to move the venue from North Wales to the extreme South East: sadly last year's venue, Pantasaph Retreat Centre, has closed. I hope that at least for some the new place will be more convenient. And maybe there won't be as much rain!

It is a unique and unforgettable experience, endorsed by our most critical customers: the children themselves.

You can donate to support the St Catherine's Trust here.


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Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Some worries about Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: Part 3

See Part 1 and Part 2.

Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, in announcing perpetual exposition in St Patrick's Soho Square, reminds us of the tradition of Exposition in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre in Parish, established, with the church itself, as a national act of reparation. The Forty Hours devotion began as an act of reparation. What does this mean?

Benediction itself is not, primarily, an evangelising tool. It is an opportunity for us to give special honour to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We do this by the ceremonies, prayers, and chants, and the watching, in the 40 Hours, through the night. It creates an opportunity to do something a bit like a pilgrimage or a great act of charity, but directed towards the Blessed Sacrament specifically, in recognition of the insults against the holiness of God. It is not something we use for some other purpose. What we, like the builders of Sacré-Cœur, may hope, is that God, being appeased, will visit us and leave a blessing behind.

Let me make explicit the extension of this point to the liturgy in general. We should not use Mass to attract converts. We should celebrate Mass with all possible solemnity because it is an act of worship to God, and that should be done with all possible solemnity. We should, further, do whatever possible to excite the piety of the worshipers, to the same end. Worshipers, taking part in the liturgy, will be transformed by it; lukewarm Catholics will be made fervent; non-Catholics, even, may recognise in it the God who is makes Himself known through the liturgy. But that last effect is not what it is for. Unlike works of Catholic apologetics, unlike preaching, it is not an instrument we use to gain this goal. To make it an instrument in our plans is to undermine its very nature, something which is offered not to men but to God.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Some worries about Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: Part 2

Part 1 is here.

When we encourage young Catholics to touch the monstrance, when exposition becomes routine and people just wander in and out of church without thinking about Who is on the Altar, when we have preaching in front of the Blessed Sacrament as if it were a simple devotional image, we are failing to give God the honour due to Him. 

I know this will fail to motivate a lot of people reading this. They will say that Christ on earth did not demand special treatment, He did not demand 'worshp', He ate and drank with sinners and embraced children. They will be little impressed when I point out that Christ is continually worshipped in the Gospels: the Wise Men worship Him, St Peter falls on his face, there is frequent bowing (proskynesis), there is the use of the divine title 'Lord', there is His sitting on a cushion on the waters as on a throne during the storm on Lake Gallilee, there is the revelation of His glory in the Transfiguration: and the rest of the time His glory, his divinity, was deliberately hidden. They have their way of reading the Gospels and they will take no notice.

Listen, then, to the subjective aspect. Never mind what we are doing or failing to do to God, what are we doing to the young Catholics? We are taking away the seriousness of their encounter with God in the Blessed Sacrament. We are undermining their very sense that God is there, because if the experience is not serious, then, subjectively, it will not seem to be an experience of God. This won't happen straight away: the first time, it may seem an incalculable privilege to touch the monstrance, something forbidden to all but those in major orders within living memory. It may feel intimate and exciting to share a space with the Blessed Sacrament exposed while listening to a preacher. But with familiarity comes familiarity. What is no longer separated, what is no longer surrounded by special rules, ceremony, double-genuflections and incense, will no longer be perceived as holy.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Some worries about Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: Part 1

 I saw this image in Twitter (h-t @SteveSkojec ). I am also inspired to write by this article by Fr Alexander Sherbrooke on the forthcoming introduction of perpetual adoration in his church of St Patrick's, Soho Square: more of that in Part 2.

There are a number of possible reactions to this photo. As Steve Skojek himself said, one must admire the devotion, while worrying about what is happening here.
This is not an isolated case from a far-away country. Below are photos from Youth 2000, one from a celebration in Cardiff, the other from Scotland. Notice the gesticulating young layman in the first, with the Blessed Sacrament, exposed, between him and the standing people. In the second it is possible to see the strange pyramid of candles supporting the monstrance, while a friar preaches, and the people (as far as I can tell), sit.

There is a lot going on here which needs to be unpacked. One thing is that this kind of event is a reaction against something clearly bad: the banishing of the Blessed Sacrament to an undistinguished corner of the church, if He is there at all; the loss of moments of contemplation in Mass; and the disappearance of Benediction and Blessed Sacrament Processions. These young Catholics want to be able to pray before Him.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Another Pro-Life Mass in Oxford

Further to my proposal, following the abortion referendum in Ireland, for Masses of Reparation for abortion, we had one such Mass in Oxford recently; another is shortly to take place in London.

Wednesday 4th July, 7:30pm
7pm Wednesday 4th July, Sung Mass.
Our Lady of the Assumption, 10 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ

These are both Votive Masses pro remissione peccatorum: for the remission (forgiveness) of sin.

I had proposed the celebration not only that Votive Mass but also of Masses in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This title of the Blessed Virgin Mary refers to her appearance in 1531 in New Spain (now Mexico). Among other things she arranged a miraculous image of herself to be indelibly imprinted on the cactus-fibre cloak of the seer, a humble peasant; this image can still be seen. Its survival for nearly 500 years itself defies natural explanation; so does the means used to create the image. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII in 1946. She has been adopted as a patron of the Pro-Life movement because the image represents her during pregnancy: a state indicated (in accordance with the conventions of the time) by her black girdle.

Her feast-day, where it is celebrated, is on 12th December (the date in 1531 when the miraculous image was created). My intention is that we have a Votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe as close as possible to this date, and if possible before the end of the University term.

I can now announce that a Sung Votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated in Oxford for the intentions of the Pro-Life movement:

6pm Wednesday 28th November
SS Gregory and Augustine, 322 Woodstock Road, OX2 7NS

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cardinal Müller on the liberal agenda

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These astonishing but perceptive words of Gerhard, Cardinal Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from an interview with Catholic World Report, deserve as wide an audience as possible.

They consider the secularization and de-Christianization of Europe as an irreversible development. For this reason the New Evangelization—the program of John Paul II and Benedict XVI—is in their view a battle against the objective course of history, resembling Don Quixote’s battle against the windmills. They are seeking for the Church a niche where it can survive in peace. Therefore all the doctrines of the faith that are opposed to the “mainstream,” the societal consensus, must be reformed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My presentation to the Rome Study Day

I gave the short opening address at the Study Day on Modernism in Rome, organised by the Lepanto Foundation, which took place on Saturday. Here it is.

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Reverend Fathers, ladies and gentlemen.
The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, in his history of the lamentable 4th century AD, observed that, as it became overwhelmed by barbarian invaders, the Empire behaved like an inexperienced boxer, moving to protect that part which had just been struck, instead of countering the blow to come. Those charged with the defence of the Catholic Faith, whether as Pastors, theologians, or simple members of the laity with the graces and the obligations which the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation imply, have in recent years had a very similar experience. One day we find the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is under attack, an attack apparently supported by prominent Cardinals. A serious defence of this doctrine requires serious work. One looks up from one’s books six months or even six weeks later and the talk is no longer of the indissolubility of marriage: that topic has almost been forgotten. No, the internet is now alive with the question of whether homosexual unions can be a means of grace. However outrageous the proposal may seem, we may be sure that its proponents will be taking it for granted as a stepping-stone to something yet more shocking a year from now. What will that be? The mind boggles. How could one possibly prepare for the blow next to come?

It is tempting, in this situation, to respond to each issue in a superficial, polemical, way. And indeed many of the challenges thrown at the Faith in this age of social media deserve no more. However, the danger is that in the end the arguments in favour of our august Faith, revealed by God and entrusted to the safekeeping of the Apostles and their successors, begin to look as flippant and shallow as the arguments they oppose. It may appear to onlookers that they are observing merely two groups of people scoring debating-points off each other, a spectacle which is neither enlightening nor edifying.
There is, however, an alternative. There is a way of counting the blow just struck and the blow to come, because they both, in fact, derive ultimately from the same root. This entire debate, this entire dogmatic crisis, is driven by a set of closely related fundamental issues. Roughly speaking, these are the issues of the objectivity of the sacraments, the nature of sanctifying grace, the place of tradition and authority in theology, and the nature of truth itself, in faith and in morals. These issues have come to prominence in the historical context of the Modernist movement, of the Nouvelle Theologie, of Neo-Modernism, and of the liturgical reform.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Blog post reproduced on Conservative Woman

A post from this blog about Feminism, weeds and jerks has been re-published on Conservative Woman: go over there to read it.

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Masses of Reparation

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I've been getting behind with my photos, but I want to remind readers not only that the Mass of Reparation for the Abortion Referendum in Ireland took place in Oxford as planned, on Friday 15th, but that another will take place in London:

Wednesday 4th July, 7:30pm
7pm Wednesday 4th July, Sung Mass.
Our Lady of the Assumption, 10 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ


Friday, June 22, 2018

Conference on Modernism, Rome, Saturday: follow online, live

This promises to be an interesting conference, with a host of interesting speakers. I have a cameo appearance, giving the short opening address. You can watch the whole thing live on YouTube.

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You can't be in Rome on June 23rd?

Subscribe for € 10 and follow the live streaming of the study day on the theme:


Old and new modernism. The roots of the Church's crisis
To view the program click here.


The conference will be broadcast on the YouTube channel of the Italian press agency Corrispondenza romana. The speeches will be in the original language.

All subscribers will receive a private link that will be active from 9am on June 23rd. To register for the live conference click here.



Website: www.fondazionelepanto.org - E-mail: info@fondazionelepanto.org

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 1


The shocking news about Cardinal McCarrick prompts me to repost this, from September 2014. The subsequent posts on the series can be seen here and here.

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It is hard to think of a precedent in England and Wales for what has happened to Bishop Kieran Conry, though there are plenty from other countries. The downfall of Cardinal O'Brien over the border in Scotland is an obvious one, a closer parallel, however, is afforded by the career of late Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (in north west Scotland), 'Roddy' Wright. I discussed this on this blog because Mgr Basil Loftus had declared that Bishop Wright had merely wanted to get married to the woman he loved. How sweet. Loftus neglected to mention that the wretched Wright had been having affairs with two women, one of them married, simultaneously, and eloped (this was back in 1996) with the one by whom he had not had a child; other affairs had apparently preceded this.

I have no wish to engage in prurient judgmentalism about Bishop Conry, but precisely because this is a new thing for us in England and Wales it is important to consider what we should learn from it.

What Basil Loftus would like us to conclude - and Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, was quick to make this point on Twitter - is that it is further evidence that mandatory clerical celibacy should be ended. This reaction has become such an ingrained reflex among liberals that they haven't stopped to think about the circumstances of this case. What sort of 'marriage' would have suited Bishop Conry or Bishop Wright? Some sort of free-wheeling polyamorous ménage, one assumes, open to women who are inconveniently married to other men, men who aren't necessarily very happy about sharing the marital bed with their bishop.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Michael Davis attacks home-schoolers

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The quiz at the end of the St Catherine's Trust annual Summer School, attended
by about 50-50 home-educated and school-educated children. Details of this year's here.
Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

(Supporters of Home Education may like to support this petition on the latest UK government attack on it.)

A while ago the Catholic Herald journalist Michael Davis thought he'd do a good turn to the Traditional Catholic movement (with which he apparently identifies) by describing us as hateful bigots and antisemites. Now he's decided to do a similar favour to homeschoolers.

It works like this. First, Davis starts the article with a reference to the staggering success of homeschoolers: it seems that they are providing 10% of vocations to the priesthood in the USA, a proportion vastly in excess of their numbers.

Second, Davis lists all the tired old criticisms of homseschooling. Homeschooling is against the teaching of the Church; the children aren't 'socialised'; the parents are 'helicopter parents' who 'seal off their children in a bubble'; even the apparent good of the vocations is undermined by the snarky suggestion that the vocations aren't genuine and the priests won't be good pastors.

Step three is to hold up his hands and say: Oh well, maybe these problems can be avoided by some homseschoolers. Citing one particular group, he says vocations coming from it 'won’t be stereotypically paranoid, socially awkward homeschooled kids': unlike all the other homeschooled children, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Counting our blessings: 10 years of Summorum Pontificum in England and Wales

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Bishop Schneider in London
Last summer, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I was asked for illustratative statistics by Paix Liturgique. This is what I came up with, from the Latin Mass Society's records:

Locations with 'every Sunday' Masses (excluding Saturday evening Masses)
2007: 20
2012: 34
2017: 40

Christmas Masses (including Midnight, Dawn, and Day Masses)
2006: 10
2012: 44
2016: 71


I thought of these numbers when my attention was drawn to a post on a somewhat obscure blog which claims, without giving a great deal of even anecdotal evidence, that the Traditional Mass is 'stagnating' in England and Wales.

It strikes the author of that post as very significant that the numbers attending, for example, the 11 o'clock Novus Ordo 'bells and smells' Mass at the Oxford Oratory, have declined, in recent years, only a bit, whereas the numbers at the 8am Low EF in the same church have merely tripled, as have numbers at the equivalent, 9am Low EF in the London Oratory. I can't squeeze a great deal of pessimism for the Traditional Mass's cause out of that, but maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Young Catholic Adults: Douai Retreat 7-9th Sept

As always I'm delighted to advertise this long-running annual event.

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During the weekend of the 7-9 September 2018, Young Catholic Adults will be running a retreat at Douai Abbey, it will feature Fr. Lawrence Lew O.P., and Canon Poucin - the age range is 18-40.

The weekend will be full-board. YCA will be running the weekend with the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge who will be holding Gregorian Chant workshops.

There will also be a Marian Procession, Rosaries, Sung Masses, Confession and socials. All Masses will be celebrated in the Extraordinary form.

Please note to guarantee your place this year Douai Abbey have requested that everyone books in 3 weeks before the start of the weekend i.e.17th Aug 2018.

More information: http://youngcatholicadults-latestnews.blogspot.co.uk/

To book:-https://bookwhen.com/youngcatholicadults-douai2018

To donate towards the costs of running the weekend please click here.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Can the Church forget doctrine?

Drinking the mythical waters of forgetfulness in the underworld: Lethe.
Reposted from October 2015
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At certain periods of history, one doctrine has been pushed to the fore either because it was needed to combat an issue of the day, because of its connection with a popular devotion, or because it was denied by heretics. Others have been pushed into the background. Being human, we can't focus on everything at once.

But there is something else, which is a doctrine disappearing from view because, although attacked by heretics, too many otherwise orthodox people are reluctant to defend and expound it. When these doctrines, and opinions which don't perhaps pertain to the Deposit of Faith but which are very authoritative, are mentioned, it can be a bit of a shock.

In researching the Position Paper on the Vulgate, I found a reference in a somewhat obscure official document published in 1994 to the ancient Greek translation of the Bible, the Septuagint, being made 'under divine inspiration'. I nearly fell off my chair. This is not, strictly, a teaching of the Church, but it is a pious opinion with considerable authority, taught particularly by the Greek Fathers of the Church. If it is taken seriously, then the policy of the Church since the 1940s to replace the ancient Latin translation of the Psalms, based on the Greek version, with new Latin and vernacular translations taken from the Hebrew, is fundamentally misguided.

Come back, 'valley of tears', valle lacrimarum: all is forgiven! You won't find that phrase in the reformed Office, the Novus Ordo Missal, or even the Knox translation of the Bible, when you look at Psalm 83.7 [84.6]. It is there in the Vulgate, and in the Greek, and in the ancient Gregorian chants: and, the Church is telling us, God wanted it there.