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

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.