Friday, 29 February 2008

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Kidnapped in Iraq

The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Iraq. Mgr Paulos Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped while leaving a Church after he finished leading the Stations of the Cross. Three men who were with him in the car, including the driver, were killed.

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, urgently asks our prayers for the Archbishop's safety.

See CWN: Kidnappers take Iraqi archbishop, kill his three companions

The times they are a-changin

More evidence of the Pope John Paul generation and the Benedict effect in the Church. At the end of August, there is to be a week long summer camp with talks on the faith especially for those who feel that they have not received proper catechesis during their youth and want some catechesis "with a little more kick". The camp also includes Mass (including the TLM), divine office and exposition.

Now, you might think this is nothing unusual - these things happen all over the place nowadays. But this one is in Holland! I have been invited to go and give one of the talks and I am looking forward to being a part of this most heartening development.

See Puella Paschalis: Bootcamp

TLM training conference at Oxford

Following last year's success, the Latin Mass Society is putting on a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Traditional Latin Rite at Merton College, Oxford, Monday 28 July to Friday 1 August 2008. This year's conference has an extra day to allow more time for practical training.

Many priests I spoke to last year spoke of their appreciation for the opportunity to meet other priests from around the country and spend time together at a conference focussing on the Holy Mass which is at the heart of our priestly life.

The LMS offers this list of the main features of this year’s conference:
  • two training streams, one for complete beginners
  • small training groups of about 5 students to ensure one-to-one tuition
  • training in the Low Mass and the Missa Cantata
  • training in all the Traditional Sacraments from baptism to funerals, and including Vespers and Benediction
  • lectures in Traditional spirituality and the Usus Antiquior in a parish setting; Latin, and the Traditional Calendar
  • Daily Mass, Lauds and Vespers – all in the Traditional Rite
  • opportunity for all priests to offer their private Masses in the Traditional Rite with a priest ‘guide’
  • More accommodation for seminarians.
I will be part of the team for the conference - this year there will be about 25 staff for the training, the organisation of the liturgy, and the provision of music.

Priests wishing to attend will be charged £150 which is a generously subsidised fee, covering tuition, board and accommodation. The LMS will meet the remainder of the conference costs.

Julian Chadwick, LMS Chairman, said that the LMS was hoping to make this an annual event so that increasing numbers of priests trained to say the Traditional Rite will be able to take it back to their parishes. He also said:
“The LMS’s aim is to ensure that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is freely available in all the dioceses. To this end we will step up our training of priests, seminarians, choirs and servers. We will liaise closely with the bishops and seminary rectors to ensure that all who wish to learn and worship in the Traditional Rite are able to do so.”
For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or James Murphy, LMS Office Manager, on 020 7404 7284; or email


My brother-in-law, Orlando, husband of Jane, of the now famous "Jane's Notes" over at Catholic Mom of 10, is working on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He is one of 2000 physicists from all over the world who are working on this project. When it is built, they will send protons through the proton synchrotron booster, then into the proton synchrotron itself and finally into the super proton synchrotron before being whipped into the main accelerator for their sixteen and a half mile journey (which will take them about 90 microseconds.) At the end of this, they smash into each other with a great deal of force. The experiment is A Large Ion Collider Experiment or ALICE for short. There is some souvenir merchandise - I got the calendar last year and an engraved bookmark this year.

The hope is that when these particles collide, the result will give evidence of the Higgs boson, and possibly other novel particles such as strangelets, micro black holes, magnetic monopoles and supersymmetric particles.

If you are wondering what use all this is, do bear in mind that some years ago, the team needed a way of sending stuff around to different universities, regardless of what operating system people were using. So they just invented the world wide web over coffee one morning. That is a slight exaggeration but only slight. The World Wide Web is a spin-off from this work.

We do not know what practical benefits will flow from this research. Thank God pure research can still be done and especially thank God that it is not governed by the pragmatic concerns of the English. Actually, we don't always get the pragmatism right, either. As Charles Babbage, the far-sighted inventor of the Difference Engine, a 19th century forerunner of the computer once said:
Propose to an Englishman any principle, or any instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, a defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible: if you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless, because it will not slice a pineapple.
(Physicists of the world - apologies if I have got anything wrong in the above. It is a while since I did Physics A-level.)

PS - I did get some things wrong. See ALICE in jeopardy.

Overwhelming public support for BBFC accountability

This Press Release put out today by mediawatch-uk

British Public Demands Accountability for Film Censors

mediawatch-uk, the UK broadcasting watchdog, today publishes an important survey showing that 80% of the British public wants the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to be fully transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The results of the survey, carried out by ComRes, coincide with a Private Members Bill introduced by Julian Brazier MP (Canterbury), which is receiving a second reading in the House of Commons today. The Bill attracted publicity earlier this month when the Board classified a number of video works, banned by the Director of Public Prosecutions, such as ‘SS Experiment Camp’.

John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, comments: “The results confirm what we have always believed. The British public continues to retain a high degree of common sense and is not impressed by the self interested demands of the film industry. We again call upon the BBFC to review its guidelines on violence, call upon the games industry to act more responsibly on violence and call upon the Office of Communications to enforce the terms of the Broadcasting Code much more vigorously, particularly with regard television programmes that condone and glamorise seriously antisocial behaviour and violence.”

With 76% of respondents wanting the amount of violence permitted in films, games and on television to be more tightly regulated, and 68% believing there are links between violent crime and the level of violence in films and on television, there is great public concern that the BBFC’s classification decisions should reflect broad public opinion and suggests that the general public is dissatisfied with the current system.

Beyer continues: “We believe that the Prime Minister, who has expressed personal concern about all the violence and pornography that children can so easily see, was wrong to exclude film and television from the remit given to psychologist Dr Tanya Byron whose report is due next month. Film is a very powerful global influence and it is astonishing that the Board has escaped proper scrutiny for almost 100 years. It is right that Parliament should represent public concerns and we hope very much that Mr Brazier’s Bill will go through unopposed.”

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Photos of Solesmes

Fr John Boyle has returned from a few days away in Solesmes. On his post Snaps of Solesmes, he has some great photos of the Abbey. This photo shows the Rue Dom Prosper Guéranger:

AIDS, Africa and Abstinence

Yesterday, Zenit carried an interview with Matthew Hanley headed AIDS in Africa: abstinence works. Matthew Hanley is the technical advisor for Catholic Relief Services, the international relief and development agency of the Catholic Church in the US. He says:
When we conducted training recently with five dioceses in Ethiopia, one of the participants, a wife and a mother, spoke for the group by saying how much she appreciated the emphasis on fidelity and related human values such as respect and communication. She was puzzled as to why such basic themes are not more routinely promoted in the context of HIV prevention, adding: "Why hasn't anyone explained it like this before?"
He has some interesting figures:
[...] researchers have noted that in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV transmission rates have remained high despite a considerable increase in condom use. For example, condom sales in Botswana increased from 1 million in 1993 to 3 million in 2001, while HIV prevalence among pregnant urban women increased from 27% to 45%. In Cameroon, during the same period, condom sales rose from 6 million to 15 million, while HIV prevalence increased from 3% to 9%.
And just one more quotation:
Since the primary approach of condoms, voluntary counseling and testing and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, has not produced the intended results, in terms of achieving reductions in HIV prevalence, it would be difficult to avoid concluding that these interventions maintain their privileged position not because of empirically observed scientific excellence, but at least in part because of the desire of their proponents to cling to an underlying vision of the human person, freedom and sexuality.

Yet it is the Church that is routinely characterized as being opposed to science, or "dogmatic."
See also his article Battling the AIDS Pandemic.

Western media falls for commie propaganda

China's "Population Control Minister" (shouldn't that title itself put you on your guard just a little?) has been reported as indicating that China might scrap its one child policy. Since his actual comments said nothing of the sort, the spin doctors must have been working hard. See Anthony Ozimic's comments: One-child policy misinformation being planted in Western media. See also John Smeaton's post today on one-child policy propaganda.

As the late Dr John S. Aird, former senior China specialist at the U.S. Bureau for the Census (a world expert on China's one-child policy), said five years ago:
"The Chinese family planning authorities are continuing their old trick of talking tough to their own people while giving a gentle image to the gullible foreigners. It is a clumsy, transparently obvious trick, but it still works as it has in the past. That is why the Chinese authorities still use it! When will the foreigners wise up?"
For a reminder of the sensitive way that the Chinese communist authorities have promoted the one child policy, see my post from last year: Your home will be destroyed and your cows taken away if you don't abort. Other wall writing included "Better blood flowing like a river than one extra birth." and "One excess birth, whole village sterilized!"

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

International Liturgical Conference at Fota Island

I received details by email of an International Liturgical Conference with the title “Benedict XVI and The Sacred Liturgy” to be held on Saturday 12 July 2008 at Fota Island, about nine miles east of Cork City, Ireland. Speakers include Professor Manfred Hauke, Prof Vincent Twomey, Dr Alcuin Reid, and Dr Michael Lang.

There are some details at the NLM.

I have a wedding on that day. Let me choose my words carefully: this is most fortunate for the happy couple but unfortunate for me only in the particular respect of having to miss this excellent conference.

New house for Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration have flourished in recent years, particularly through the inspiration of Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN who was Abbess of the house in Birmingham, Alabama, from which a daughter house near Phoenix, Arizona, was founded.

Atonement online reports that permission has been granted for a new house in San Antonio, Texas. This will be associated with the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement, the largest Anglican-use parish in the US.

Jane's notes: James Caffery

Jackie, Catholic Mom of 10, has posted my sister Jane's notes on Mr James Caffery's talk to parents on The Impact of Sex Education in Catholic Education. A retired headmaster, Mr Caffery offers wise and practical advice for parents and teachers.

Requiem for Fra Andrew Bertie

Of your kindness, pray for the repose of the soul of Fra Bertie, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

I received the following news :
The Requiem Mass for HMEmH Fra Andrew Bertie has been put forward to 5.00 pm on 7 March, and will take place at the Church of San Alessio instead of the basilica of S. Paolo.

The "World's Women" are apparently descending upon Rome to stage demonstrations at each of the four great Roman Basilicas in favour of a woman's "right" to abort her unborn children. As this will cause chaos and the police cannot guarantee the safety of the Cardinals, Ambassadors, three Presidents (Italy, Austria and I think Slovenia), and royals attending it has been re-scheduled.

Traditional blessing of holy water

A couple of people asked where they could get Holy Water blessed as I described in the post "A surprise for Screwtape". It's very simple: get hold of a copy of the older ritual and ask your local priest. It will take him about five minutes. If that seems like a lot of trouble after Mass, you could perhaps invite the priest round to bless your house and ask him if he would bless some Holy Water in the old rite while he is there. Though it is normally blessed in the Church or in the Sacristy, it is quite valid to bless it in someone's home. While he is there, ask him to bless your children as well. There is a lovely blessing in the old ritual which I always use when blessing houses if children are present.

If you can't get hold of a copy of the ritual, you can download one from this page at Laudate Dominum. Go for the "Small Roman Ritual." It is a 659kb pdf file so the best thing is to right click and save it to your computer rather than try to open it in a browser window.

The Blessing of Holy Water is on pages 123-125 so you could just print those pages out. If the priest would like an English translation, you could cut and paste the text from Mulier Fortis: More about holy water. Blessing of infants is page 147-148 with English translation in parallel columns.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Half a million visitors

It is a while since I posted any "milestone" statistics. Today seems a worthwhile occasion. We reached half a million visitors at lunchtime. Here is the Site Meter log of visitor 500,000 who logged in from Strathclyde University.

Bloggers usually count visitors rather than "hits" since it is a more sensible statistic for a blog. For what it's worth, we will get to a million hits some time in March at the present rate.

Many thanks to all of you for your interest and encouragement. To think that I started this in a whimsical moment... :-0

HFE bill - keeping focussed

John Smeaton has a sensible post commenting on David Cameron's foray into pro-life politics, supporting the idea of a time-limit proposal. (see abortion amendments at best a distraction).

It is important for both MPs and the public to be aware first of all of the appaling proposals in the HFE bill itself.

A surprise for Screwtape

Last Sunday, the Mulier Fortis quite properly gave away the remains of our holy water to a lady who came with a large container. She then arranged things in the sacristy for the blessing of a new supply while the altar servers were all still there after the Latin Mass.

In this post Summorum Pontificum era, there is no longer any need for scruples about using the older form of the blessing. Mac has the translation at her post.

I wonder mischievously whether this holy water might cause a surprise to complacent demons. Having got reasonably used to the water blessed in the spirit of "let's remember salvation", it is amusing to think of the shock when a family take home and scatter around some exorcised salt 'n water mix over which has been invoked the name of "Him Who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire."

Run, Wormwood, RUN!

Islam and "creationism"

Damien Thompson has an interesting post on the lecture scheduled today as part of "Islamic Awareness Week" which supposedly recounts "The collapse of the evolutionary theory". The very muted reaction to this reflects a "kid gloves" approach to Islam that would certainly not be afforded a Christian group expressing the same views.

I agree with Damien's take on this and his impatience with pseudoscience. His website Counterknowledge is well worth a look.

As Catholics, we should remember that the natural sciences are a profoundly Catholic project, beginning in the High Middle Ages as a result of a Christian view of the world and prospering because of the Christian concern for truth, objectivity and the goodness of the natural world. As Fr Jaki and other explained, the natural sciences had a promising start in Islam but foundered because of a rejection of the importance of secondary causes.

Secularist relativism is also fatal for the natural sciences as we are beginning to see with the Government's interference in the science curriculum. See the excellent Civitas book "The Corruption of the Curriculum" for further information.

Prenatal Partners for Life

In the combox, Elizabeth told me of the excellent website Prenatal Partners for Life. this offers:
Support information & encouragement for carrying to term with an adverse prenatal diagnosis and support for raising your child with special needs after birth
There is a good video on the homepage "Down the Road of Bittersweet". I have emailed to ask if it is posted anywhere in a form that can be embedded here.

There is an special page for priests and pastors giving sound advice on what to say and what not to say. These lists are particularly valuable because they were compiled by parents who had been given a negative prenatal diagnosis. Interestingly, the "what not to say" list includes some classics of "non-directive counselling." The statements
  • Only you know what is best for you and your family.
  • This is between you and God.
  • What do you think is the right thing to do?
  • This is a complicated matter.
  • Follow your own conscience.
  • Listen to the doctors and do what you think your heart tells you to do.
  • If your choice is made with love, it can’t be wrong.
are listed among those "things that may cause confusion and lead a women to end her pregnancy".

Sex education review steering group

The Government is to undertake a review of sex and relationship education delivery. Here is the official announcement from the Department for Children, Schools and Families which also details the make-up of the "steering group."

The Brook and the FPA are represented, as is the Terence Higgins Trust, the Sex Education Forum, a school nurse manager, and the chair and three other members of the TPIAG. (TPIAG stands for Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group. The ten strong membership of this "independent" group which was "set up to advise the Government" includes the Chief Executive of Brook and the Chief Executive of the Family Planning Association.)

The cosmetic "balance" on the steering group is supplied by an Anglican minister and a Methodist minister, the Director of the Catholic Education Service, and an equalities advisor from Brighton who represents Muslim interests. Consultation with young people is an advertised feature of the review, to be achieved by including three members of the UK Youth Parliament.

There is, of course, no representation for any pro-life group, for Family and Youth Concern, or for any other pro-family group.

The Daily Mail has reported on this: Sex education could be made compulsory for five-year-olds. They at least had the sense to consult Norman Wells of Family and Youth Concern.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Pope Benedict to the Romans (on education)

A correspondent kindly reminded me of Pope Benedict's letter to Romans on education which is a good antidote to the nonsense of our Department for Citizenship Facilities, Parenting Units, and Nappies, or whatever the Ministry of Education is called this month.
In reality, what is in question is not only the personal responsibilities of adults or young people - which nevertheless exist and must not be hidden - but a growing atmosphere, a mentality and a form of culture that lead to doubting the value of the human person, the significance itself of truth and of the good, in the final analysis, the goodness of life. It becomes difficult, then, to hand on from one generation to the next, something valid and certain, rules of conduct, credible objectives around which to build one's life.

Disabled babies, unfounded predictions, and the protection of the weak

Over recent years, I have noticed several cases where people have agreed to, or co-operated with, abortion in response to dire warnings from doctors about a baby who will be born with significant disabilities. The doctors describe these disabilities in the most chilling terms, together with assurances that the baby will not live more than a few hours or days. This has a significant influence on people's attitudes ("What else could we do?") The psychological trauma of being faced with this decision, presented gravely by those who are seen as experts, causes people to repudiate their faith and consider the Church callous and heartless for her opposition to abortion.

Over the same period, I have also come across several cases where a mother (often accompanied by a decent and supportive husband or "partner") has stood firm, refused a "termination" and heroically opted to give birth - only to find subsequently that the predictions turned out to be exaggerated or even wholly false.

A story reported last month by Channel 4 (Joy for mother advised to abort) is typical. Doctors predict: baby will only survive for a few hours, will be "profoundly disabled"; condition deteriorating; advise "termination". Mother and father refuse; go through "absolute torture"; baby is born perfectly healthy; nothing wrong after all. The most inspiring line of the story is where mother Becky Weatherall told the Western Mail newspaper that "if he was going to die, she wanted it to be in the arms of his parents."

There are two questions to raise here. The first is to ask just how common this sort of thing is. I would be interested to know whether research has been done on how accurate are these predictions of disability and whether indeed some are made without sufficient evidence.

The second and deeper question is why the very weakest and most vulnerable children are deemed to be the most unworthy of life. Surely in a civilised society, the weakest should be those afforded the greatest protection by the strong? Remind me: why was it that my father's generation fought the second world war?

Fr Fessio: why Summorum Pontificum was necessary

Many thanks to Sober Inebriation for this superb interview with Fr Fessio. After his well considered comments on Summorum Pontificum and the reform of the reform, Fr Fessio also offers some wise considerations related to education. I very much agree with his analysis of why there is such resistance to the Motu Proprio:

But why is there such hostility toward Latin and the Mass celebrated facing East? I believe that there are people who thought the Council was a call to massive change from a sclerotic church, and they think that if you restore the old Mass, or say the new Mass facing east, you're repudiating the Council. But this is completely false. However, these people have spent the last 30-40 years of their lives committed to this vision of the Council which is not a vision of continuity but a vision of rupture. Their whole lives are being called into question. So, there's enormous resistance to this (the motu proprio). This is the reason why the pope had to do the motu proprio. It's quite possible to say the Novus Ordo in ways that are very traditional, but today, it's simply taboo.

So, the pope has said that people have a right to worship in this form (traditionally) and therefore we'll take this and make it more widespread and take it out of the hands of individual bishops. It's now in the hands of the faithful- if they want this, they are to be given it.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Photos of Station Masses

For keen seminarians and priests in Rome, Lent is a great opportunity to visit many Churches of the City for the daily Station Masses. In some cases, the Churches are not easy to visit on weekdays and they are shown off well at these major annual celebrations.

Fr Avram, a priest from the diocese of Sacramento, studying in Rome, writes a blog called Peregrinus and has been posting regularly with some great photos. Here is one of the interior of San Vitale, St John Fisher's titular Church:

Fr David Barrett at Hilariter has some photos of his own. He has one of the interior of SS Marcellinus and Peter which features the suitcase in which he brought the requisites for Mass. That he had to bring things tells you that this is one of those countless gems in Rome that is scarcely used. [Zadok corrected me here. The Church is well-used. Those organising the station Masses bring the requisites each day.] Since the photo was posted in high resolution, I hope he won't mind that I have chopped out most of the suitcase and enhanced the photo a little:

Kosovo "culture of death" constitution

Thanks to LifeSite for picking up the story about the draft constitution for Kosovo which opens the way for abortion and same sex unions by carefully engineering key phrases in the text.

See Radical Kosovo Constitution Removes all Protection for the Unborn and Traditional Family

Greg Gardner - Jane's notes

There used to be Brodie's notes for Shakespeare. Now we have Jane's notes for the excellent series of talks at the Birmingham Oratory promoting chastity. The latest is for "Hot Topics" by Dr Greg Gardner. Dr Gardner is a GP and writes widely in the local press in Birmingham about pro-life and pro-family topics.

One interesting topic from the discussion was that of values clarification, in which young people are encouraged to clarify their own values through peer group discussion. This replaces the teaching of objective virtue.

William Coulson, a pioneer with Carl Rogers of this approach in the 1960s, later repented and wrote powerfully about the harm that such groups can do by allowing the strongest voices to prevail against those who are weaker and more easily influenced. Young people who have been instructed in virtue at home can be confused and misled by these discussions.

It is worth noting that Dr Gardner is an evangelical Christian. In our common love for the family, "ecumenical" co-operation comes quite naturally.

Missa Cantata at Blackfen this Saturday

Every week at Blackfen, our Mass on Saturday morning at 10.30am is celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass). The Mass is normally a Low Mass but on the first Saturday of each month, a small Schola of men kindly comes to us so that the Mass can be sung with the chants from the Roman Gradual.

The next occasion will be this coming Saturday, 1 March.

All are welcome. Here is a link for Directions to the Church.

A spectacularly inappropriate question

The BBC has an article asking Has China's one-child policy worked?


It seems that the answer is "yes" if the purpose was to reduce the population. However, along with Western Europe, China is now facing its own demographic time bomb.

I am glad that the article does actually mention the practice of forced abortion which is an atrocity that has often been denied by politicians in the West; but even without this appalling abuse of human life and dignity, the use of government coercion to prevent parents from having children should be deplored by any civilised country.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Bandying the "F" word about

Last month, I reported on the Bishop of Lancaster's excellent "Fit for Mission - Schools" document which encourages Catholic schools to teach the Catholic faith. Nothing terribly controversial there, you might think, but the Independent reports today (MPs investigate Catholic influence on schools) that Barry "as long as people are not that serious about their faith" Sheerman, chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Committee thinks otherwise. The committee
... is to investigate evidence that the Roman Catholic Church is pursuing a more fundamentalist approach towards religion in its schools.
There's that "F" word beloved of the secularists everywhere, conjuring up images of suicide bombers, blown-up buses and women in burkhas. The Independent helpfully gives us an example of the heinous thought-crime from the Bishop of Lancaster himself:
"The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information."
The message is clear: if Catholic schools present abortion as anything other than "neutral", they are "Fundamentalist". Apparently, Sheerman also said that
there was evidence from other areas of the country of Catholic schools being told to adopt a more fundamentalist line.
Please do tell - it would give great solace to my readers.

He then bandies on with the usual propaganda about taxpayers' money:
"A lot of taxpayers' money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,"
Let's be clear about this. Catholics also pay tax. The money does not belong to the Government, it belongs to us and is given to the Government in trust for use for our benefit. If Catholic children are not educated in Catholic schools, they will be educated in community schools at the expense of the state anyway. By his emotive appeal, Sheerman is attacking the historic agreement of 1944 with little less subtlety than the "No Rome on the Rates" campaigns of a former era.

There is an interesting subtext to the article. Sheerman apparently observed that
"the official spokesmen for the Catholic Church often peddled a softer line."
"We seem to have a shift in emphasis on the ground despite what the reasonable voices of the leadership are saying."
This gives a clear and important message. It does not matter how reasonable the "leadership" presents itself. Let just one Bishop poke his head above the parapet and issue a gentle, mildly-worded document encouraging sound Catholic teaching in a moderate way: this will be enough to engender cries of "Fundamentalist!" from the secularist high-priesthood. These people will not be appeased.

Caring Britain?

A sad story in yesterday's Telegraph reported on the mother who was pregnant with twins and hanged herself after giving in to pressure from her boyfriend who "reacted badly" to her pregnancy. (Artist hanged herself after aborting her twins) The counselling she was offered amounted to the telephone number of a counselling service.

At the inquest, the doctor concerned said that this was "normal practice". The boss at her clinic said:
"The time that can be given to a woman by a counsellor is limited in a busy hospital. [...] I am satisfied everything was done to make sure Emma was consenting to surgery. I don't feel there was any gap in the counselling service."
Let me get this right: a woman with a history of anxiety and depression presents for an abortion. She is given a phone number to talk to someone. She has the abortion and then commits suicide. But there is no gap in the counselling service.

The icing on the cake:
Recording a verdict of suicide, Dr Carlyon said: "It is clear that a termination can have a profound effect on a woman's life.

"But I am reassured by the evidence of the doctors here."
So that's all right then.

Working to combat AIDS in Africa

The other day, courtesy of a kind reader, I received a copy of the book "Culture of Life - Culture of Death", edited by Luke Gormally and published by the Linacre Centre. The book is a collection of 22 articles on various aspects of the subject. In the page about the book from the Linacre Centre you can see a list of the articles and some quotations from reviews of the book.

My correspondent particularly wanted me to read Sr Miram Duggan's article "Combating the spread of AIDS". Sr Miriam is a gynaecologist and was (at least at the time of publication in 2002) Superior General of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa. She has worked as a missionary doctor in Africa for 30 years. She describes a practical and down-to-earth approach to behaviour change, working especially through the "Youth Alive" workshops which promote sound spiritual, moral and cultural values among the young and offer character-building to help them to live these values. She also offers evidence from Uganda, Kenya, and Zambia showing the success of this approach in significantly reducing the spread of the virus.

She is also very concerned to reduce the stigma so that a supportive response is given to those living with HIV/AIDS and encouragement given to them also to be part of the change of attitude that leads to effective reduction of infection.

In part of her conculding section, she says:
"If society addressed the root causes for the spread of the virus and returned to the values of no pre-marital sex and faithfulness in marriage AIDS could be drastically reduced. if the millions invested in Latex rubber as a prophylactic were instead invested in addressing the root causes I think the outcome would be much more beneficial to society."
Sewn paperback, 352 pages, £17.95 (excellent value for such a collection.) There are ordering details at the Linacre Centre website.

Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer

Many thanks to Vocation Station for this video from Gloria TV, introducing the Fraternité St Vincent Ferreir, at the Priory of St Thomas-Aquinas, Chémeré-le-Roi, in Mayenne, France. The community follows the traditional Dominican liturgy and their doctrinal formation is "resolutely Thomist" according to the Una Voce summary. Although separate and distinct from the Order of Preachers, although it has presented a request for affiliation with the Dominican family.

London Oratory: "Call to Youth" & extra TLM in Lent

A while back, Fr Julian Large sent publicity of the next meeting of "Call to Youth" (for 18-35 year olds) which is this Thursday 28 February at 8pm, in St Wilfrid's Hall, Refreshments to follow.

The speaker will be Michael Schutzer-Weissmann, who will be talking about Evelyn Waugh, convert & Catholic writer.

Sorry to be so late publicising it here.

(To find St Wilfrid's Hall, go into the courtyard to the left of the Oratory Church. Enter the doorway on the left. St Wilfrid's Hall is upstairs.)

During Lent (only), in addition to the public 8am Mass (Mon-Sat) in the Traditional Form, there is also a Mass at 5.15pm in the Traditional Form. Also on Fridays in Lent at 6.30pm the Oratory has Stations of the Cross (also done in the traditional way).

Friday, 22 February 2008

Weigel challenges the Jesuits

The Diogenes column at Catholic World news is always worth reading. Yesterday there was a piece called Weigel on the Jesuits about an article by George Weigel looking at the ("Questions for Father General")

Weigel quotes the new General, Fr Nicolas, as saying that the Jesuits "want to collaborate with the Holy See and to obey the Holy Father," and that "That has not changed and it will not change." He then raises the question of public dissent by Jesuits from papal teaching with a number of obvious examples.

Diogenes offers this comment:
We're told that today the Pope will receive the delegates to the Jesuit General Congregation in private audience. It's reasonable to expect that the Holy Father will communicate to the delegates his hopes for their work that remains. Being Benedict, he almost certainly will not dwell on the history of conflict but will emphasize the Jesuits' positive contributions to the post-conciliar Church, such as those in selenography. As for the questions posed by Weigel, we'll learn a lot about the answers Jesuit leaders would tender in reply by the picture of the audience they want the rest of the Church to have.

Lenten Vocations Day

Bevans family blog

The Bevans family have started a new blog - called BevansInc., it brings together a number of talented family members. Gary Bevans is the one who painted the reproduction of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Church of the English Martyrs in Goring-by-Sea

Love and Responsibility - talks at St Patrick's Soho

Love & Responsibility
Theological Lecture Series 2008
St Patrick's, Soho Square

Due to the success of "Catholicism for the Curious" and "Theology of the Body", the School of Evangelisation will be hosting a third series of lectures this year, commencing on Wednesday 27th February at supper & welcome at 6.15pm with talk starting at 7pm.

A series of high profile talks to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. These talks will present a life changing message for a lifestyle of chastity that brings freedom, respect, peace and romance without regret. The talks will seek to unpack and explain the Church’s teaching on the truth and meaning of human sexuality in a way that is challenging, entertaining, encouraging and healing. The speakers will cover an abundance of compelling and uplifting reasons for embracing the virtues of chastity.

The first talk will be on Wednesday 27th February and then most Wednesdays until June (see schedule below or download here). If you would like more information then please call 020 7437 2010 or email

Wednesday 27th February - Fr Anthony Doe
Call to Holiness & Communion with the Lord

Wednesday 12th March - Fr Stephen Langridge
Aids, Condoms and the Catholic Church

Wednesday 2nd April - Fr Tim Finigan
Humanae Vitae – A Challenge to the Culture

Wednesday 9th April - Fr Anthony Doe
The Gift of Life & Christian Discipleship

Wednesday 16th April - Edmund Adamus
The Genesis of Humanae Vitae – Memory & Healing

Wednesday 23rd April - Fr Richard Aladics
Building the Civilisation of Love in a Media-Driven World

Wednesday 30th April - Bishop Alan Hopes
Searching for Teaching Authority

Wednesday 14th May - Tommy Hughes
Theology of the Body in a Glasgow Secondary School

Wednesday 21st May - James Parker
Truths about Homosexuality & Contraception

Wednesday 28th May - Dr Jacqueline Laing
The Reproductive Revolution

Wednesday 4th June - Nicole Parker
A Practical Response: Natural Family Planning

Wednesday 11th June - Anne Hill
The Gift of Life as a Woman and a Mother

Wednesday 18th June - William Newton
Humanae Vitae & Contraception: Two Irreconcilable Concepts of the Human Person

Archbishop Ranjith on Holy Communion

The Italian news site Petrus carries interview with Archbishop Ranjith recently conducted by Bruno Volpe. Gregor Kollmorgen at NLM has a translation of the interview

Here are two key points that the Archbishop makes regarding the manner of receiving Holy Communion, first regarding Holy Communion on the hand:
We need to recover the sense of the sacred. I speak only for myself, but I am convinced of the urgency of reviewing the practice of Communion given in the hand, returning to giving the particle to the faithful directly in the mouth, without them touching it, reinforcing thereby that in the Eucharist there is really Jesus and that everyone must receive Him with devotion, love and respect.
and secondly regarding kneeling for Holy Communion.
Beyond the office I occupy in the Vatican, as a Catholic I ask myself and wonder: why be ashamed of God? Kneeling at Communion would be an act of humility and recognition of our nature as children of God.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Just sing a little "Amen"

Jeffrey Tucker has an excellent post entitled "Ditch the Great Amen". I must confess that this has been a subliminal annoyance to which I have not paid all that much attention. He quotes Gavin at Musica Sacra who says:
Nothing in the GIRM, rubrics, or tradition (that I know of) requires the congregation to sing "Amen" more than once at any point in the Mass. Yet today every Catholic pewsitter knows that the IMPORTANT part of the Mass ISN'T the words "This is My Body" but when you have four chords and sing "A-A-MEN, A-A-MEN, A-A-A-MENNNN" and then repeat it. I've even heard catechists say that THAT is the point where the bread becomes the Body. Oh, and the scores for these "Great Amens" always have FFF as the closing dynamic. This HORRIBLY imbalances the Mass!

So when your priest sings "Through him, with him, in him" to the simple tone, just respond on the same note he used as the reciting tone: "Amen." If he uses the solemn tone (with the slurs on some syllables), respond according to the pitch he ends on "A-me-" and then move up a whole tone "-en." It's all so simple, no one can object to it if it's done routinely, and it makes SUCH a difference in how the Mass is perceived by the congregation.
Sorry to be corny, but I just have to say "Amen" to that. It is true - the "Great Amen" is not de fide definita, it's prominence in many modern sung Masses is entirely due to the particular views of some liturgists. It is perfectly OK to ditch it and just sing a little "Amen".

Oxford bloggers' colloquium report

Many thanks to Matt Doyle of Lacrimarum Valle for his report on the "Blogging and the Church" Colloquium held last Friday in Oxford. I was very sorry to miss this but I had an important meeting to address in the parish where I was spoke to the parents of the first Communion class about the sacrament of Penance.

The picture above is from Matt's blog and there are more at the post Rubbing shoulders with the great.

Beleagured Christians in Gaza

Thanks to a Facebook friend for this link to an article by Fr Raymond De Souza, originally published in the Canada National Post Palestinian Christians live in constant fear.

He tells of a YMCA centre in Gaza which is open to Muslims and includes a school, sports club and community hall, and does not engage in Christian proselytism. It was blown up by militants last week, destroying a library of 8,000 books. Apparently this was in response to the reprinting of the Muhammed cartoons in Denmark last week.

As Fr De Souza points out, it is not only the fact of the attack that is significant but also its insignificance in the eyes of the world's media. There is no free press in Gaza, and Christians are so intimidated that they dare not tell independent reporters anything except that they have excellent relations with their Muslim neighbours. To be fair, the BBC does carry a report on the attack.

More googly things

The other day, I spent a very pleasant evening visiting old friends on the way back from Wonersh. The husband is a local authority IT advisor and so for a while, we got to discussing various nerdy matters. He is keen on the use of Google Docs as a means of distributing content within an organisation so that it does not matter what platform the user's computer is tied to. As long as you have an internet browser, you can see the documents from a Windows box, an Apple, or a Linux machine.

Just by way of experiment, I have published the notes from my talk a thte 2004 Faith Summer Session on Contraception, Abortion and IVF - the Destruction of Life and Love. In its present form, you should be able to see the document but not edit it. (If you find you can edit it, do please let me know!) The alternative is to publish a document that can be edited by others, offering a quick and easy route to co-operative projects.

Then there is Google pages - a quick and easy way to get several web pages going with a minimum of effort. I have always done my own html and am proud of the tightly-written, standards-compliant, fast-loading website for Our Lady of the Rosary. However this takes time and it will be interesting to see whether Google's new foray into content management will prove to be a "great leap forward" for web publishing. (Google pages is still in beta and you need to have a gmail address to get it.)

So far, I have put up a "finigan pages" homepage, a paste of my CV, and a "dump" of my bookmarks from Firefox. These were all done quite quickly and if I were to use this stuff more extensively, I would probably play around with the html rather more and make it as much like the style of the blog as possible.

The nagging doubt with all of this is the placing of all one's stuff into the hands of google. I'd be interested in comments on this, especially from anyone who has used these new things.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Petition for free vote on HFE bill

A petition was recently launched on the important question of allowing a free vote on the HFE Bill which is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation to come before Parliament in recent years.
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow free votes on the embryology and fathers components of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill when considered by the House of Commons.
Further information:
There is a tradition when dealing with matters of conscience that MPs are not whipped. This is particularly true when it comes to human embryos. When the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was considered by Parliament the (then) government allowed free votes on all matters up until the final vote.

The joint committee on the draft Human Tissues and Embryos bill recommended that this approach be adopted for questions over embryology and the role of fathers, but the Brown government has said that free votes will only be allowed on abortion.

This decision suggests that there is no room for conscience and conscientious objection in our politics. If the government is genuinely concerned about voter apathy and alienation it should demonstrate that British politics caters for conscience and conscientious objection through free votes.
Sign the Petition
(You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

Pluscarden retreat

Mark at Rise and Pray has an interesting post on a recent retreat at Pluscarden given by Fr John Emerson of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. He has some great photos - I won't pinch them: you can go over and have a look ;-)

Irish Dominicans

One of the participants at the Faith Theological Symposium gave me a leaflet about the Dominicans in Ireland. Their excellent website has a wealth of information about vocation, the Dominican life, prayer and study. It is good to see the Dominicans are obviously thriving in Ireland. Here is a photo from the Diaconate ordinations last month.

Visiting the Portsmouth LMS

Next month, I will be visiting the diocese of Portsmouth for two events organised by the Latin Mass Society.

On Friday 14 March, I will be saying Mass at 5pm, followed by Benediction, at the beautiful Church of St Mary's Ryde, pictured above. in the morning, I will cross the Solent on the catermeran with members of the Latin Mass Society which is thriving on the Island, to visit St John's Cathedral at Portsmouth to preach a Day of Recollection for the Society. Here is the programme, from the Portsmouth section of the LMS website:

Annual Lenten Day of Recollection 2008
Saturday 15th March 2008 with Father Tim Finigan on the theme: In union with Christ the Victim for our Salvation.


11.00am Welcome & first part of talk
12.15pm Latin Mass (Tridentine Rite)
1.00pm Break for lunch
1.45pm Second part of talk
2.30pm Stations of the Cross
3.15pm Exposition (with Confessions)
4.00pm Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

The day is expected to finish around 4.15pm. Please attend what you can manage if not the whole day. Some refreshments / sandwiches available, or bring your own lunch. There is no charge to attend - only a collection during the Mass itself.

Linacre Ethics Forum

I am very happy to publicise this excellent initiative for Catholic medics. Here are the details. There is a link to a poster which could go in Church porches.
A chance for junior healthcare professionals and students (medics, nurses, pharmacists etc. are welcome!) to explore and discuss Catholic healthcare ethics. Each month a senior practitioner or other expert will be invited to give a 30 minute presentation, followed by discussion. The aim will be to understand the Church’s teaching, and explore ways in which we can present it sympathetically to patients, colleagues and managers.

Meetings start at 6.30pm (for 7pm) and take place in Vaughan House, Francis Street, SW1P 1QN (behind Westminster Cathedral, near Victoria tube station). There is Mass at 5.30pm in the Cathedral.

Meetings are as follows:

27th February - Christian Ethics in Neonatal Care - Prof. John Wyatt

3rd April - Fertility Treatments - Mrs Nicole Parker

30th April - Ethical Issues in General Practice - Dr Mike Delany

13th May - Pregnancy Counselling - Sr Roseann Reddy (TBC)

To help publicise this event please feel free to use the poster here, or contact us below.

If you would like any further information about these fora, please contact Stephen Barrie at or telephone: (020) 7266 7410.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Explaining the Motu Proprio (1904)

Thanks to New Liturgical Movement for the link to this fascinating pamphlet from 1904: Our Position. A Word in Reference to the Plain Chant Question (pdf) by Dom Raphael Molitor OSB, of Beuron Abbey who explains:
In the following pages you will find, dear reader, a brief reply to the most important questions in regard to plain chant raised by the Motu proprio of our Holy Father, Pius X ... The booklet has been written for your enlightenment and to calm your mind.
Dom Raphael patiently demonstrated why a single edition of the proposed Vatican Edition of the Gradual was necessary, argued that the melodies were not too difficult for parish choirs, given the right motivation, and that the Holy Father was not insisting on any sudden change or that Gregorian chant should be used exclusively but was insisting that the ancient chant should be used and that is was proper to obey him.

100 years later ...

Talks by Janet Smith

Thanks to Redtabby in the combox for posting a link to audio files and CDs of talks by Janet Smith. You can buy them individually or pay $24.49 for the collection of 12 mp3s.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Demographic winter

Have a look at this interesting project in progress: Demographic Winter. The trailer is worth looking at but you may need to pause it and leave it to load while you read a few blogs. Unfortunately the snazzy effects don't allow for cut & paste so I can only suggest looking at the tab "The Film" which gives a synopsis.

Dermot O'Leary - some balance

One of my parishioners has commented on the post "Lent Fast Day". I am happy to post her comment in full:
Fr I believe you are treating Dermot O’Leary in a very harsh fashion, and have seriously misrepresented him.

Dermot is a person that does very good charitable work, he believes in helping others less fortunate than himself and using his talents to achieve this. Misrepresenting Dermot as a shallow TV presenter is unfair, he comes from a serious journalistic background his family were regional newspaper proprietors in Ireland and he has done extremely well in his career in the British media.

I respect Dermot’s involvement with Charity; he has tackled difficult health campaigns such as Male Testicular Cancer with charity Everyman. The picture of Davina McCall and Dermot, on your blog, is actually originally from a photo shoot taken as a promotion for Breast Cancer Awareness – another difficult health awareness promotion, asking women to undertake regular self-examinations.

Alongside national charities, Dermot has enthusiastically supported small community charities that have little PR value for himself, such as Southwark Irish Pensioners Forum and Irish in Greenwich.

Along with his family, Dermot has supported Catholic charities all his life. How many other people in the British Media support Catholic Charities – it is hardly a fashion statement. Dermot is exemplary in getting young people interested in Charities, Sports and good works.

Dermot’s comment about being “cleansed from sin” was obviously made tongue in cheek in an interview situation.

I have meet Dermot’s parents at a charity function and I know that they would be so upset to see their son misrepresented in this way. Dermot is a person who is genuinely interested in people’s welfare, young and old, and has shown great respect for people as individuals in his work. I think it is very important to present a balanced view of individual especially when we are broadcasting over the World Wide Web.

Just some of charities Dermot supports:

Southwark Irish Pensioners Forum – works with most disadvantaged and isolated people in London

Everyman: - UK Male Cancer Campaign -


Dermot has worked on London St Patrick Parade Organising Committee.
I'm happy to quote that in the interests of a balanced picture. I think it brings us to a deeper question regarding our culture. That picture with Davina McCall is not justified by the desired end of promoting breast cancer awareness. We once installed a disabled toilet in the parish Hall. The press photographer asked me if I would have a photograph sitting (clothed) on the toilet. I refused because it would inevitably have trivialised the issue of providing proper facilities for the disabled and would be used to denigrate the priesthood.

However, this is not as serious a question as that of presenting oneself as a Catholic in public life whilst repudiating Catholic morality. Let me stress here that I am only in a position to comment on what Dermot does in public - I am more than ready to admit that he may be sincerely following his (albeit misinformed) conscience. As well as cohabiting with his girlfriend and "cheerfully admitting to using contraceptives, he says:
"I do get it in the neck from some Catholics who say I am a 'buffet Catholic', picking and choosing the bits I like or don't like. But if I thought - and this is going to sound anti-Catholic - that there was this one true religion and that anyone who didn't follow it would be damned, firstly I'd be mad, and secondly I'd put myself in a position where I could be shot down.

"I'm not interested in preaching from the rooftops. All I do is show in public my own faith. I was brought up with it and I still practise, but I don't think that my God is any more worthy than that of a friend of mine who happens to follow Allah."
This kind of statement is irritating and misleading. Catholics do not believe that all non-Catholics are damned. Never mind Vatican II - there is a long tradition of theological study and magisterial teaching examining just how non-Catholics can be saved. The widely vilified document Dominus Iesus is perhaps the best recent examination of the whole matter. It explains not only why Catholics do accept that many non-Catholics may be saved, but also why this does not imply that there is no difference between Catholic teaching on God and the teaching of other faiths. Foundational to this is faith in Christ as truly God made man and therefore the acceptance of his teaching - part of which is that we should proclaim his teaching "from the rooftops".

The net result of playing down the more challenging aspects of Catholic teaching is that young people who follow such media role models are confirmed in their rejection of Catholic morality with the result that another generation is deprived of the Catholic vision of family life - one that is becoming increasingly crucial as secularism threatens the Church and society itself.

Of course it is laudable for any public figure to support charities and I willingly congratulate Dermot on this work. Nevertheless it is quite fallacious to assume that the rest of Catholic morality can be dispensed with. Such an approach opens the way to medical charities supporting embryo experimentation, disability charities supporting the abortion of the disabled, charities for the aged supporting euthanasia, children's charities undermining the family. I would urge Dermot, CAFOD and anyone else allured by the doctrine-charity dichotomy to take Pope Benedict seriously. If we lose our grip on the truth, charity and justice will be casualties.

Interview with monk of Pluscarden

Many thanks to Vocation Station for passing on this video clip of an interview with Fr Giles, a monk of Pluscarden Abbey.

(During the first 21 seconds, the picture is unclear.)

Vocation Station is a blog worth watching - they collect videos on the religious life and the site would e helpful for someone who is discerning a vocation to the consecrated life. I have just added it to the blogroll.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Half century celebrations in South Ashford

After Mass this evening, I was at a party to celebrate the 50th birthday of Fr John Boyle (South Ashford Priest). There were one or two other priests there and a few friends from various apostolates but the majority of those present were Fr John's parishioners from St Simon Stock, South Ashford. It was good to see the genuine warmth of feeling that there is between them and their parish priest. After a presentation to him from the parish, Fr John took the opportunity to say a few words about the parish being the family of the priest in addition to his natural family.

Among the guests was Fr Stephen Boyle, John's brother, who is parish priest at the Good Shepherd in New Addington. Fr Stephen does not have a blog but feels that his lack of labour in this regard is compensated for if he appears on other blogs. Unfortunately, I forgot about this and neglected to take a photo this evening. Nevertheless, there is always something in the archives and so you can see him to the left.

There were lots of children present and I guess that some of them thought that a birthday is not complete without a badge saying how old you are. Fr John gallantly wore them as you can see from this photo of him cutting the cake prepared for the occasion.

This all reminds me that I am 50 this year on 1 July - a day famous as the beginning of various battles: the Boyne, Gettysburg and the Somme, for example. I share my birthday with Indiana Jones, Pamela Anderson and Princess Diana. It was the day of the death of the wicked emperor Decius and the last of the martyrs of Tyburn, St Oliver Plunkett. In these parts, St Oliver Plunkett is an optional memorial but of course it is likely that I will celebrate Mass that day in the extraordinary form, observing the feast day on which I was born, that of the Precious Blood.

Janet Smith in Scotland

I just received information about these two occasions when Janet Smith (see Janet Smith - venues) will be speaking in Scotland:

Tuesday 26th February, 7pm to 9pm
Catholic Chaplaincy,
University of Glasgow,
13-15 Southpark Terrace
Tel: 0141 339 4315

Saturday 1st March, from 9.30am to 1.30pm
Fertility Care Conference
GTG Conference Centre
1330 South St
Tel: 0141 221 0858

Friday, 15 February 2008

"Lent Fast Day"

Some time ago, towards the end of the post Civil Partnerships and the Church. II Practice, I gave a brief summary of some of the problems that I have with CAFOD, the official overseas development and relief agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. These concerns are serious enough for me to refuse in conscience to support the agency until there is a clear change in policy. I arrange instead for money to be collected either for Aid to the Church in need or for the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

In Lent, we used to be asked to observe "Family Fast Day". Some time ago, it became "CAFOD Fast Day". Now it is called "Lent Fast Day". Dermot O'Leary has recently been engaged by CAFOD to promote the initiative which this year focusses on climate change and "going green". O'Leary is a television presenter who has apparently been involved in a number of variants on the "Big Brother" theme, the X-Factor and a breakfast TV programme called "Morning Glory."

In a Telegraph interview (Dermot O'Leary: The real Dermot stands up) he describes his work for CAFOD as his "John the Baptist moment." Leaning back in his chair, he says, "This is me washing away my iniquities and cleansing myself of my sins." (Actually, Dermot, we ask the Lord to do that for us - on his terms. Cf Psalm 50.)

In 2004, he presented a documentary entitled "Some of my best friends are Catholics". The article explains:
In the course of the programme, he made it clear, though, that his was not an unquestioning allegiance. He lives with his TV producer girlfriend, Dee Koppang, cheerfully admits to using contraceptives [...]
Last year, I posted an article about Channel 4 sex propaganda, which took the form of a programme called "Lets Talk Sex", presented by Davina McCall, promoting compulsory sex education. I summarised:
Davina will take you (and your children) on a visit to a Dutch sex education class where children as young as four are taught about homosexuality and shown cartoons of various sex acts. Also featured is that tried and trusted method of preventing teenage pregnancy: unrolling a condom over a prosthetic sex aid.
At the end of the post, I featured a picture of Davina McCall, saying that I hoped that it would help parents to decide whether this woman was a good person to trust to give advice to their teenage daughters.

Given this new context, it seems that opportune to post the photo again in the hope that readers will support Aid to the Church in Need, Cor Unum, the Medical Missionaries of Mary, the Missionaries of Charity, the St Francis Leprosy Guild, and the Little Way Association. As far as I know, none of these charities feel it helpful to use cohabiting celebrity breast-fondlers in their advertising.

(Feel free to list other good charities in the combox.)

UPDATE: In response to a comment, I have added a further post regarding Dermot O'Leary, in the spirit of "right to reply" together with some further comments.

Fr Rutler on Marini book

Diogenes reports on a review by Fr George Rutler of Archbishop Marini's "A Challenging Reform" (the liturgist's lament) Unfortunately, the First Things website seems not to be working.

Migne gradually coming online

The Wikipedia article on the Abbé Jacques Paul Migne says,
Migne had become convinced of the power of the press and the sheer value of raw information widely distributed.
One can imagine how much he would have contributed to the internet!

His most famous publications were the Patrologia Latina and the Patrolgia Graeca; enormous collections of patristic texts in whatever were the best editions available to him at the time, have not been surpassed in comprehensiveness although over the years, many of the works of the Fathers have been published in better critical editions.

Migne is still the standard for citation of the Fathers. I have spent many happy hours at Wonersh and in Rome, retrieving a volume from the shelves and finding the column number and checking up a reference or reading around to establish the context of a popular quotation. The articles at the beginning of many of the volumes are outstanding studies in their own right.

Private firms have for some time offered Migne for sale or subscription at rather high rates. I have often mused how wonderful it would be if all this information were available online: today I found that the process is well underway. First of all, I found the Apologetic Desktop has well organised links to quite a number of volumes of both the Latin and Greek Patrologiae on google books, as well as other resources that I had not seen online before such as both Lightfoot and Funk's editions of the Apostolic Fathers.

Then I found Documenta Catholica Omnia which links to clean pdfs of the volumes of both Patrolgiae as well as a good collection of other texts. For any theologian this is very exciting news indeed.

List of attacks on Church in Spain

Many thanks to Embajador en el Infierno for the link to this list of attacks on the Church by the Socialist party in Spain during the past four years. The list has been put together by the Carlist Traditionalist Communion.

Janet Smith - venues

I mentioned Janet Smith's talk yesterday. Together with a reminder that I think she is the best speaker I have heard on Humanae Vitae, here is a reminder of the details:

Contraception: Why not?
Professor Janet E Smith

Thursday 6 March 2008
Westminster Cathedral Hall

Professor Smith offers a stimulating opportunity to seriously reconsider the modern enthusiasm for contraception. her message has captivated audiences all around the world, particularly married couples, those considering marriage, catechists, counsellors, doctors, priests and seminarians.

Janet Smith teaches Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Seminary Detroit USA.

Places are limited. Entrance fee: £5.
Please register at
020 7931 6064

In addition, there are these additional venues for students and priests:

For students (only) she is speaking at the Catholic Chaplaincy in Gower Street on Wednesday 5 March at 7.30pm

For priests (only) she is speaking at St Mary Moorfields on Thursday 6 March at 2pm

International letter of support for Pope Benedict

I have just added my signature to the very sensible International Declaration in Support of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI published by the Remnant newspaper. The declaration expresses support for the Holy Father's revised version of the prayer for the Jews on Good Friday. Many traditionalist might have been expected oppose the revision of the prayer but different groups have united in expressing their filial obedience to the successor of St Peter. A quotation from the letter:
By reformulating the traditional prayer without compromising its doctrinal integrity, Your Holiness has reminded the world that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an infinite ocean of love, contains all peoples, especially that people from which Our Lord Himself is descended.

Journey back from Ampleforth

A young mother from Cambridge who was attending the Symposium asked me if I could give her and baby a lift to Ampleforth. Fortunately, the baby was young enough to have fairly simple requirements to meet the law - the carry cot has lugs which retain the rear seatbelt. I couldn't resist giving this photo a speech bubble:

Unfortunately, it is against the law (and not a good idea anyway at 70mph) to take the baby out of the cot while the car is moving. So for a while she told us loudly and in no uncertain terms "I . AM . NOT . HAPPY!!!" The baby's godfather was with us on the journey and gently encouraged her to be reasonable. Sadly this met with no notable success.

When we managed to stop at a service station, the complaint was expanded to "My nappy needs changing, I didn't get enough milk last time, I'm a bit tired, I'm fed up with sitting in this stupid contraption, and anyway, just AAAARGH!" Mum pointed out that this was the first time that she had changed a baby's nappy in a priest's car. It was in fact the first time that anyone has changed a baby's nappy in my car.

When we got to Cambridge, baby had calmed down a little, and I met her older brother whom I have not seen since just after he was born. He needed (but did not want) to go to bed and in the meantime, dad (who is on the last leg of his Cambridge doctorate) cooked up a delicious thai green curry and gave me some top grade advice on various combinations of mobile computing, open-source software and 3G internet access.

As I sometimes point out when speaking about celibacy, there are joys and trials in any vocation - it is good for me as a priest to spend even a little time with a young family managing the ordinary daily ups and downs of life with young children.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Bloggers' Colloquium

Just received this notice via Facebook. I am sorry that I cannot be there but I have a meeting with the first communion parents in my parish. I look forward to hearing how it went - it should be a good session.
To discuss the issue of blogs as a social force, the Newman Society is having a small colloquium on Friday, 15th February from 6-830pm in the Meeting Room of the Catholic Chaplaincy, Rose Place,St Aldates, Oxford (location) with a number of prominent bloggers.

This event will be quite informal and interactive and will discuss the nature of blogs--who read them and why; why are they written; do the bloggers have a social responsibility; and should we even care about them?

Speakers are:

Rev’d Fr John T Zuhlsdorf, author of ‘What does the Prayer Really Say?

Rev’d Fr John Hunwicke, author of ‘Fr Hunwicke’s Liturgical Notes

Br Lawrence Lew OP, ‘The New Liturgical Movement’ and ‘Godzdogz

Matthew Doyle, author of ‘Lacrimarum Valle

Faith Symposium III

Yesterday evening, Fr David Barrett spoke on the topic of how our humanity is related to the humanity of Christ. Fr Barrett is currently working on a doctoral thesis in Rome, on the theology of St Hilary of Poitiers. We share an interest in this great Church Father who was a bridge between East and West on account of his exile for the faith. Many years ago, I wrote my "tesina" (mini thesis) for the Theology Licence degree in Rome on St Hilary's exegesis of Psalm 2.

After supper, we spent some time together before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Crypt, finishing with Benediction. This is always a very welcome pause in the fairly full timetable of the Symposium.

This morning, Fr Hugh gave his paper on "A non idealistic defence of objective universality". This was a follow-up to his paper last year, incorporating clarifications and further material from various discussions on the topic. Fr Hugh is passionate about philosophy and is able to speak with great clarity about subjects that people often shy away from. I'll be reading his paper through again and will post on some of the content when I get a chance.

Zapatero attacks Spanish bishops

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero is to see the Papal Nuncio, Mgr Manuel Monteiro de Castro, to ask him to intervene to stop the Spanish Bishops "campaigning" as he sees it, in the forthcoming elections, according to an article in today's Times. (Vatican told to stop bishops ‘meddling’ in Spain’s election)

In a paper setting out "moral guidance", the Bishops have criticised various policies of the present Government, including the legalisation of gay marriage, the liberalisation of divorce and the introduction of citizenship classes in schools. The Times article summarises the Bishops' paper by saying that "they effectively directed Spaniards to vote against the Government and in favour of the conservative Popular Party."

You could just as well say that by introducing such policies, the Government has indicated that it does not wish to have the support of Catholics. By drawing the attention of their flock to the implications of these policies, the Bishops are doing their duty before God. They appear quite prepared to accept the consequences.

Air Maria and the Day with Mary

Air Maria is the official blog of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. The have a post on the Day with Mary at Blackfen which includes links to further information about the Day with Mary and the apostolate of the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Humanae Vitae prophetic

John Smeaton posts today on Why Humanae Vitae was right about contraception. He refers to the visit of Janet Smith who will be speaking at Westminster Hall on 6 March.

He also quotes from a presentation he gave in Warsaw last year, in the course of which he told how the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI were being fulfilled in Britain. He also mentioned the Mulier Fortis who spoke out about sex education in the Catholic school where she was teaching.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Faith Symposium II

Fr Stephen Dingley's lecture yesterday afternoon on the consciousness of Christ was, as expected, most engaging and followed by a lengthy discussion ranging over subjects such as the christological definitions and fundamental epistomology. This morning, Fr Luiz Ruscillo looked at the priesthood of Christ, especially in Hebrews 8-9.

I just have access to a live connection for a few minutes before lunch so I'll check the comments now and get back later.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alternative reaction to Rowan Williams

I was more than a little suspicious of the feeding frenzy in the media over the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent lecture: Civil and Religious Law in England: a religious perspective. I printed off his lecture and read it quickly. My first impression was that this was a serious attempt to address a genuine problem of post-enlightenment positivism in law, and that it could have important implications for Catholics as well as Muslims. There certainly seemed to be little justification for the tabloid headlines.

I am not a canon lawyer so I thought I would leave it alone until I had a chance to chat with Fr John Boyle about it. When he arrived at Ampleforth, he said that the train had wifi and so he was able to read the lecture and write about it on the journey up.

His post is a common sense appraisal of the issue and I agree with him. See Bishop Burkha or Williams the Wise?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...