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Friday, 30 May 2008

A little bit of Ireland in Lourdes

After lunch today, Fr Briggs and I paid a visit to the parish Church to say the prescribed prayers at the font where St Bernadette was baptised. Next to the Church is a statue of my hero, Mgr Peyramale so I took the opportunity of getting a photo of Fr Briggs standing next to the great man.

Near to the Domaine, there are wheelchair lanes painted in the roads. These have been extended this year and there is a new one painted just outside our hotel.

The wheelchair lanes are used by conventional wheelchairs but also by the odd bath chairs that are a feature of Lourdes. Here you can see something of Lourdes outside the Domaine with its shops and restaurants catering for the 6-8 million people who visit each year between April and October:

This afternoon, we did the Stations of the Cross. I went with the children and the confidently mobile up the Espelugues Hill while Fr Briggs led the stations in the new Way of the Cross in the prairie opposite the grotto.

On the way down from the high Stations, there is a celtic cross erected by Irish pilgrims. It seemed like a good place to have a photograph:

Thursday, 29 May 2008

A blessing at the grotto

The weather has been much better today, apart from a shower during the Blessed Sacrament Procession. This morning, we had Mass in the Crypt, joined by one or two people from Florida, USA. After Mass, I saw the Birmingham Pilgrimage photo being taken and later on met Archbishop Nicholls - he told me that there are over 2000 pilgrims here from the Archdiocese. Middlesborough and Plymouth are also here and so I have met several priest friends from those parts of the world. Here is the Birmingham line-up:

In the afternoon, we gathered at the Grotto to say the Rosary and then took the children in for a special blessing.

We touched the walls of the grotto and the water that was running down.

After that, just time for a coffee and then the Blessed Sacrament Procession which ends with Benediction in the underground Basilica.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A quiet Mass and the "Way of the Jubilee"

Well there is my 2008 photo of the Basilica's from St Michael's gate. At 2pm, Fr Charles was due to say a quiet private Mass but as it turned out, most of the children did not go to the whole of the International Mass which was probably just as well since the whole underground basilica was completely filled with people standing up the entrance ramps. However, this presented me with a problem since it was not possible for the 20 people who wanted to come to Mass, to fit into the small chapels for private Masses. Fortunately, the sacristan was very accommodating and said that we could use the St Gabriel chapel provided that we were clear by 3pm. I assured him that this would be no problem.

So I did what I had heard about as an old practice - I led the children in some prayers and hymns during Mass. To be honest, I was a little nervous at this since it might have seemed strange to some people. Thank God, everything worked very well. We said some devotional prayers: acts of contrition during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, a little catechesis during the readings, acts of offering during the Offertory, adoration during the Canon, and prayers in preparation and thanksgiving for Holy Communion. I felt that the children "participated" rather more than they often do in the Novus Ordo.

The "Way of the Jubilee" was rather difficult. There were large crowds at every station and we abandoned the circuit in order to avoid the children being squashed. We can visit the remaining stations later. On the way back down to the Grotto, we were drenched in a downpour but some of us persevered to the Grotto for a visit.

Here is a photo of most of the group in front of the crowned statue of the Blessed Virgin:

First evening in Lourdes

Here are some of the children on our pilgrimage to Lourdes. There was a bit of traffic on the way out of Toulouse but we had time to watch Jean Luc Delannoy's film (first part) about St Bernadette and we arrived only a little late for supper. After that, a few joined the torchlight procession but it would probably have been a bit much for the children the first night so I took them on a tour of the main parts of the domaine.

This morning was the International Mass at which there were an estimated 40,000 people present. I offered Mass for you all this morning and Fr Charles is saying Mass later today so there is an opportunity for others to sleep in if necessary. (Not that it is difficult to get to Mass at Lourdes!)

This afternoon, I will be leading a walk round the principal stations of the "Way of the Jubilee." There is a special indulgence for this pilgrimage so we shall be visiting the Parish Church and the baptistery where St Bernadette was baptised, the Cachot where the family lived in poverty, the Grotto where Our Lady appeared, and the chapel of the old hospice where St Bernadette made her first Holy Communion.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A smooth check in

The Mulier Fortis arranged things well today with British Airways giving us a dedicated check-in desk and everyone whooshing through smoothly and early with seats already allocated.

We have 33 people on the Pilgrimage, including 11 children. One of them is a regular server for the TLM in Blackfen. People were impressed with his facility with the Latin responses at Mass earlier and I think we are going to be having some classes with some of the other boys on the pilgrimage.

Fr Charles Briggs sends his regards to you all. We have time to go off to lunch now before getting on the plane. Father and I are enjoying a large glass of orange juice which has a strange but pleasing taste. The brand name is "Abbot."

Frantic preparations

Tomorrow morning later this morning, I will be trundling down to Gatwick airport in one of Cedar Coaches' finest vehicles to fly to Toulouse and thence by French coach to Lourdes with a group of parishioners. This year, we have a larger than usual number of children so I hope to persuade the brancardiers to let me do the afternoon blessing of children one day.

Fr Charles Briggs is also coming and so we have planned to offer both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite each day. We'll draw straws for who has to say the English Mass ;-)

As ever, leaving the parish, even for a few days, means completing a pile of work before departure: newsletter, a mailing for a forthcoming conference, paying various overdue bills... I'll sleep well on the journey.

I'll remember all the readers of the blog at Mass in Lourdes. If anyone is there, put a comment in the combox and we can meet up. We will be staying at the Hotel D'Angleterre where you will be welcome for a coffee or a beer at your choice. We arrive Tuesday evening and depart at an unmentionably early hour next Sunday morning.

I'll have my usb modem with me - if that doesn't work, there are plenty of wifi hotspots in Lourdes so I hope to be in touch while we are there.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Dispositions for Holy Communion

In my sermon in the parish today for Corpus Christi (NO) or second Sunday of Pentecost with the commemoration of the Octave (TLM - my attempt to capture the "spirit" of the recent clarification regarding Holydays) I spoke particularly about the required dispositions for receiving Holy Communion. Here is the text I put in the newsletter and on my parish website:
At this time of the feast of Corpus Christi, we should remember that to receive Holy Communion, the following are required by the Church:
  1. To be a Catholic in communion with the Church and to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
  2. To be living in accord with the teaching of the Church and, if married, to be married according to the law of the Church.
  3. To be in a state of grace, free from any deliberate grave sin that has not been forgiven through the sacrament of Confession.
  4. To have fasted for at least one hour before Communion.
  5. To have prepared prayerfully to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
Nowadays, some Catholics only come to Mass every few weeks. In such a case, it would be necessary to go to confession and form a firm resolution to attend Mass every week before receiving Holy Communion again.
I also noted that a person who is unable to receive Holy Communion may still receive many graces by participating devoutly at Mass and making a “spiritual communion” at the time that others go up to receive Holy Communion. The following is one prayer that you could use when making a spiritual communion. Here is the text of a prayer that can be used:

Spiritual Communion
My Jesus,
I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Peter Lombard project


I have just found this site devoted to Peter Lombard which will be very useful to students. It has links to biographies, articles and texts of commentaries on the Sentences. There is also a project in progress to provide and online translation of the Sentences into English with the Latin text in parallel.

In the picture above, the seven Liberal Arts move a Sacred Theology chariot along at the urging of Peter Lombard, the Magister Sentenciarum.

Pope Benedict discourages communion in the hand

I recently came across this very good Italian blog Rinascimento Sacro "Blog del Movimento Liturgico Benedettiano per la promozione della Liturgia Romana nella forma straordinaria" ("Blog of the Benedictine Liturgical Movement for the promotion of the Roman Liturgy in the extraordinary form")

They have this most interesting piece from AGI reporting on Holy Communion as received at the Papal Mass for Corpus Christi on Thursday. (A teaser for the article comes up in the AGI search results but I have not been able to get a link to the original article.) Here is my translation:
(AGI) – Vatican City, 22 May – Benedict XVI gave communion this evening to the faithful who knelt in front of him, following the tradition, that is, not giving the consecrated particles into the hands but putting them directly into the mouth. Both ways are allowed in the present liturgical norms but this way underlines more greatly the meaning of the Eucharist as the renewed sacrifice of Jesus, while the other is more in line with the protestant conception which emphasises more the dimension of the meal.

The Church of Papa Ratzinger is worried about the lack of respect for the Eucharist, evident from the ever increasing number of liturgical abuses which are committed in the course of celebrations. Recently, L’Osservatore Romano dedicated a whole page to this problem, giving space to a study of the theologian Inos Biffi, who denounced a crisis of faith in the mystery of “transubstantiation” that is, of the real presence of Christ in the consecrated host, as the cause of this phenomenon.

In an interview with “papanews.it”, Mgr Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, condemned the “inexplicable extravagances” committed by some priests in the liturgy, emphasising that it is “not their property but that of the Church”. “The Mass”, he affirmed, “is not a spectacle, but sacrifice, gift and mystery.” Regarding communion in the hand: “ I just believe” affirmed the Archbishop, “that it is necessary to review this practice: I speak personally, but I am convinced of the urgency of returning to giving the particle to the faithful directly into the mouth, without them touching it, emphasising in this way that in the Eucharist there is really Jesus and that all should welcome him with devotion, love, and respect.”

For Mgr Ranjith, further, “It would be a case also of returning to kneeling at the moment in which one communicates” as “an act of respect towards the gift and the mystery of the Eucharist.” “Beyond the role which I have in the Vatican, as a catholic” he concluded, “I ask and question: why be embarrassed by God? Kneeling at the moment of communion would be an act of humility and of recognition of our nature as sons of God.”
Look at this video (courtesy of Gloria TV) and notice how the ciborium lid (which is used as a communion plate) is placed unambiguously under the chin of each communicant. It doesn't look as thought there is a choice offered here.



Fr Z has commented on this ( Corpus Christi Mass: Benedict XVI gives Communion only on the tongue to people kneeling) and Fr Ray Blake has heard from someone that there was serious discussion in Rome about not renewing the indult for communion in the hand. (cf. LOOK, no standing, no hands) I heard something similar on my last visit from an American priest who was visiting various dicasteries. Speriamo!

Trying the patience of Canon Byrne

"Sidcup John" wrote the following in the comment box on Hymn to St John Fisher. This fascinating reminiscence from over 50 years ago might be worth some space in the next school magazine:
I have just discovered these interesting comments about the School Hymn to Saint John Fisher.

I attended 1950 - 1960. In the early 50's (Soon after the date of the Coronation, but unconnected with that event) Mr McHugo (music teacher) selected a number of 'golden- voiced' boys (including me), who were then marched to the common room to be met by the Canon, Father Waugh (Deputy Head), Mr Agnew (Secretary) and Malachy 2 (Red Setter).

We were asked to sing the Hymn.

I think that it was by way of a venture to test our suitability for later recording by a professional sound man, who was a friend of the School. Although, it may have also been connected with a proposed performance to be given in front of Bishop Cowderoy (as he was then) and also a Sidcup man. I understand that Saint John Fisher, at one time, had a property near to the site of the present day Saint George's Cathedral so, it would have been fitting for the Hymn to be sung there.

The Canon struggled to record our not-so-golden tones over a period of weeks. At the end it was just the Canon and we boys. Even Malachy had been escorted out, for wailing. I wonder if the School has any surviving remnant of the recording?

I do not know when the Canon wrote the original Hymn but, he adjusted it several times whilst we mangled it. The music had been written by another, possibly Sayers, but this was also modified a little in an attempt to accommodate our range. We all struggled to fit the meter to the tune. But, as I remember, the music did not appear at all difficult; although it did seem a bit slow to me.

I kept my copy of the Hymn with the Canon's markings and alterations for several years but, I no longer have it.

There were additional lines in my copy. I assume that, if it was revamped at a later date, these were considered unsuitable. They appeared to worry the Canon. He was not sure they would be appreciated or understood by school boys.

At the time, the exercise did not fill us with joy (I think we would have even preferred a run to the 'Iron Gate').

The Canon was not filled with joy at our performance either.

His normally endless patience was sorely tested. He was a great man and it is a shame that we boys were too young to appreciate his fine writing.

Making a canopy for the Blessed Sacrament

Fr Sean Finnegan has some instructions on making a canopy for outdoor processions of the Blessed Sacrament. (Cf. Valle Adurni: On Canopies.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Honouring Our Blessed Lady

May is the month of Mary and today at Our Lady of the Rosary School, the children took part in a devotional service in honour of Our Blessed Mother. One common problem with school devotions is that they are often forced into the rite of Mass. A couple of years ago, we took the decision to have a devotional service for this occasion in May, rather than attempt to fit everything into Mass. I think this has been a success. (We do have regular school Masses as well.)

First, you can see some of the children laying flowers symbolically at the feet of the patroness of the school and the parish:


The statue is crowned with a garland of flowers to show the love and veneration that we offer to the Mother of God:

And here is a picture of the statue crowned and adorned with flowers:


Children of all ages had prepared work for this devotional service. From the Reception Class (age 4-5) to Year 6 (age 10-11) there were various prayers, thoughtful poems and compositions, and dramatic presentations based on the texts of Holy Scripture to remind us of the place of Our Blessed Lady in God's plan of salvation.

Corpus Christi at Blackfen (and elsewhere)

Last evening at Blackfen, we celebrated High Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi. Many thanks to Deacon John Harrison (Deacon) and Fr Charles Briggs (Subdeacon) of St Mary's Chislehurst for assisting, as well as the Latin Mass Society regulars for providing the chant. Thanks also to Mulier Fortis for the photos above and below.

After Mass, we had a procession of the Blessed Sacrament within the Church grounds, singing the Pange Lingua and Sacris Solemniis etc.

Now, you might quite rightly say "But Father! Why did you have an Ombrellino for the outside procession instead of a canopy?" The answer is that we do not have a canopy - any more. There was one in the parish at one time as the following picture testifies; it shows a Blessed Sacrament Procession from, I think, the late 1950s, leaving the Church entrance and proceeding down the street:

So if anyone has a spare canopy, I'd be grateful to give it a good home. Otherwise, we're just going to have to get one made.

This photo from about the same time in Rome is perhaps what we should be aiming for:

Meanwhile, have a look also at Jackie's pictures of The Oratory, Birmingham. Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Rite for Corpus Christi

Click on the photos - you get them in absolutely massive resolution ;-)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

When I was hungry you gave me a condom

The United Nations is to send nearly a quarter of a million condoms into Burma "to help needy survivors with no access to contraceptives." UNFPA aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont said "We don't want regular use of contraception disrupted." See South Africa news 24: 220 000 condoms off to Myanmar

(Not a spoof.)

H/T Catholic Caveman

Trad Mass in the Philippines

There are lots of great photos from the Philippines over at the Pro Deo et Patria blog. The above shows the bishop-emeritus of Catarman, His Excellency Bishop Angel Hobayan, celebrating a Pontifical Mass in the old rite earlier this year at the Diocesan Shrine of St Therese of the Child Jesus of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Villamor, Pasay City. Fr Elijah Pantorilla OFM Conv assisted as chaplain.

Here is the arrangement for the altar at the parish of the Lord of the Divine Mercy when the ordinary form is celebrated versus populum.

No mistaking who is at the centre of attention there!

(Incidentally, I quite like the look of BubbleShare which Gerald uses a lot on his blog. Bubbleshare claims to be more straightforward than other popular photo sharing services. The "marquee" type scrolling collections look very useful. Does anyone else use this service?)

British horrors

An article by Hilary White yesterday on Lifesite looks at an interview given by Cherie Blair on Good Morning television in which the wife of the former Prime Minister was questioned by viewers about her recently published book. (See: No Comment from Bishops as Cherie, wife of Former PM Blair, Touts Catholicism While Extolling Contraception)

Cherie Blair confirmed her rejection of the teaching of the Catholic Church on the wrongfulness of any use of artificial contraception:
"People seem to be quite shocked that perhaps a Catholic girl even uses contraception but it is really an important thing for women because one of the things about the book is about how women's lives have changed,"
Thomas Peters has also commented on this story on his blog American Papist (see: American Papist)

Meanwhile in other news about Britain, Bishop Elio Sgreccia has, quite rightly, commented on the "horror" approved by our Parliament, namely the creation of hybrid embryos. The Zenit article Bishop: British Parliament Approves "Horror" gives due space also to the opposition of non-Catholic Christians and Muslims to the HFE bill.

The connection between these two stories is that once you artificially and deliberately break the link between the marriage act and procreation, the way is open for the manipulation of human life without any objective moral considerations. In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI foresaw only some of the consequences of artificial methods of birth control. Had you said in 1968 that 40 years on, we would be creating embryos for research and allowing human-animal hybrid embryos, you would have been dismissed as a hysterical scaremonger.

Someone also needs to explain to Cherie Blair that those who counsel women in crisis pregnancies know only too well that the idea that contraception gives women "control over their fertility" is proved wrong by the large proportion of women presenting for abortion who are using one or more forms of contraception.

Fit for Mission at New Malden

As I arrived at the seminar at Wonersh on Monday night, ready to mark exams the following day, I met two students who were returning from New Malden, clutching copies of Fit for Mission Schools.

A correspondent who was at the meeting sent me this account:
Fr Luiz gave a brilliant exposition of Bishop O’Donaghue’s document ‘Fit for Mission? – Schools’. Admitting that he himself had felt quite ‘challenged’ by the bishop’s call to all involved in Catholic education to go back and ask themselves ‘What are Catholic schools for?’, Father Luiz went on to outline the role of the Catholic school as it has presented by the Church’s teaching authority ever since Vatican Two.

Using both Vatican documents and those of our own Bishops’ Conference, he outlined the vision of Christ as Head of the whole Church, and of Catholic schools as particular communities within that Church. He explained that the model for a Catholic school should be the early Christian community as it is presented in Acts 2:42 - ‘United by the teaching of the Apostles, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers’. This short passage gives us the four ‘pillars’ of Catholic life in general and of the Catholic school in particular – the teaching of the Church, the moral life, sacraments and prayer.

As Fr Luiz pointed out, Bishop O’Donaghue has been quite specific in some of his guidelines – for example, requiring that a crucifix be on the wall of every class, that school Masses follow the pattern of the liturgical year and, of course, that sex education be taught entirely according to the doctrine of the Church, and respecting the role of parents as primary educators of their children. Precisely by being so specific, however, the bishop had done a great service to priests, teachers and governors, providing them all with a common framework within which to work.

The talk was very well received by the audience (which included, interestingly, many younger teachers – and several seminarians) who felt inspired to ‘rise to the challenge’ this new document has set before us.

High Mass at Winchester Cathedral

There will be a High Mass in the older form of the Roman Rite at Winchester Cathedral on Saturday 21 June, at 11am.

Some of the Anglican members of the Choir at Winchester Cathedral are particularly interested in the liturgy and they wanted to have a Mass in thanksgiving for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. One is an acquaintance of the people who organise Masses for the Latin Mass Society in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Dean and Chapter were all in favour and agreed. So the Cathedral Choir will be singing a Polyphonic Mass with Gregorian Chant. (The approval of Bishop Hollis was sought and granted for Mass to be celebrated in this Anglican cathedral.)

Andrew Leigh, one of the Catholic masters at Winchester College - founded by former Bishop of Winchester, William of Wykeham, and opened in 1394 - will give a tour of the College in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

An afternoon at Parkminster

Once a fortnight, I drive over to St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster, to lecture to the novices and simply professed. We are currently on the De Deo Uno part of the tract De Deo Uno et Trino. Having considered the various ways in which the human person can be said to know God, it was time to consider how this operates in practice. With the help of Garrigou Lagrange, Tanquerey and St Thomas, we looked at the nature of contemplation and its precursors. I referred to Tanquerey as the manual everyone loves to hate which raised a smile. People sometimes say that it is too systematic but I think that it is a wonderful book and must be taken for what it is: an attempt to pass on the wisdom of the saints.

Sadly, I heard today of the death of dear Fr Aloysius whom I had the privilege of chatting to last St Stephen's day. He died on Trinity Sunday and was buried yesterday after lying in the Charterhouse chapel on Monday. Fr Aloysius joined the Carthusians during the war - originally at Switzerland. He was moved to Parkminster in 1962 and has been there since. He was a great man, a poet, a good friend to his brothers, and a much-loved member of the community. Do pray for the repose of his soul. I know that we suspect that he may not need many prayers but you can always ask Our Lady to apply any surplus to whichever soul she knows most needs help.

Before Vespers, I took a photograph of Fr Aloysius' grave in the simple Churchyard:

Reading at lunch at Wickenden

Last Wednesday, I was at Wickenden Manor for a day of recollection provided by Opus Dei for secular priests. As ever, it was a most enjoyable and helpful day. Added to the spiritual talks, God provided us with one of those beautiful and not too hot early summer days.

The timetable allows for a little time to walk in the grounds between the talks and after lunch.

There is always good company at these days and on this occasion, there were also a number of priests staying on retreat. We therefore had lunch in silence with reading. The book was "Milestones" by Cardinal Ratzinger. The custom is for the book to be passed round during lunch so that people read from it in turn without anyone having to read all the way through the meal.

Fr Stephen Langridge and I were on the same table. He was reading the passage where the Cardinal spoke about his Schott (a German hand-missal):
"The unquestionably positive gain of the liturgical movement was the way in which this missal made the liturgy accessible and encouraged its celebration in a manner befitting its nature."
Fr Langridge is given to occasional asides and, to the words "in a manner befitting its nature", he added "in the vernacular." This was not meant seriously, just a friendly piece of banter directed at me.

I gestured to him to pass me the book as I had now finished my potatoes. The assembled brethren were amused that the first sentence I had to read was:
"But I was bothered by the narrow-mindedness of many of the movement's followers, who wanted to recognise only one form of the liturgy as valid."
Touché!

Fr Langridge, incidentally, is the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Southwark (see the Southwark Vocations blog). He does a great job in encouraging vocations to the priesthood and supporting boys and young men who show an interest in the priesthood, with retreats, days of recollection and personal advice. One of the fruits of his work is that Southwark has a very healthy number of students starting their priestly formation this year. (Fr Langridge is on the right in the photo below.)

How Adolf met Eva?

Fr Z has posted a funny video of Adolf Hitler singing the theme from the Jeffersons. Since this theme tune will not be familiar to English readers, I thought you might like a similar video of the Führer singing the Beatles classic "I saw her standing there"

Potato Head redux and the smoke of Satan

James Mary Evans at Orate Fratres has posted this clip of the Palm Sunday Mass at St Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (For more information on the parish, see Lifesite and Stella Borealis.)



James asks:
1. Is the final dark robed figure seen at the end of this clip a visible representation of an unseen reality, as Cardinal Noè
2. Are recent comments from the Vatican concerning UFO’s preparing us for a visitation by frightening creatures who resemble the Jesus found within this video?
The reference to Cardinal Noè is in connection with his recent interview with Petrus which I have not posted about yet. Fr Z has a translation. This is the key passage:
Papa Montini, for Satan, meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.

Cabrini Children's Society

Philip at Carpe Canem has reported on the change of name for the Catholic Children's Society which operates in the south of England:

In response to the Sexual Orientation Regulations, and hoping to continue to benefit from the generosity of the Catholic faithful, the Society is now to change its name to the "Cabrini Children's Society" (same initials, geddit!) As Philip comments:
The Catholic Faithful need to know that they’ve just lost £10 million (the society's assets), and been sold down the river of political expediency as it is now technically outside Church jurisdiction.
Is there not something in canon law about alienating property?


Maggie Clitherow has some good comment on this issue from her own experience (Don't Know What I'm Doing: So-Called Catholic Adoption Agencies

I am very pleased to hear that one of the Auxiliary Bishops in Southwark, Bishop John Hine has resigned from the board of the society. This action is very much to be commended.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Archbishop Nichols on the BBC

Yesterday, John Smeaton, the Director of SPUC asked Archbishop Nichols to correct and clarify his statement on the value of embryonic human life. The problematic words were:
"What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings. Now clearly it's not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me."
I agree with John that this needs to be corrected and clarified since we do not give a higher value or a lower value to human life on the basis of age, whether before or after birth. John has quite rightly quoted the relevant passages from Donum Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.

It is fair to say that Archbishop Nichols was put under pressure during the programme on BBc 4's World at One yesterday. Most of the time was given to a "catholic" doctor who made a passionate case for a saviour sibling for his own child. After an extensive and entirely unopposed presentation, the Archbishop was immediately dumped right into the mire;
"Very moving to hear that testimony. Does it make you want to think again, make you rethink the argument?"
This is the ultimate "dirty trick" of the media, so refined in Britain. Tearful "testimony" then zip straight in with "Right, you swine with your dogmatic, abstract principles, what do you make of that, eh"!?

Archbishop Nichols was keen to emphasise our compassion for hard cases and to avoid any appearance of a lack of charity. I can understand that. He was confronted by the interviewer with the utterly partisan dilemma between "abstract moral and religious arguments" as opposed to the child who "faces death by a thousand knives." He was hectored and interrupted repeatedly, (unlike the doctor advocating "saviour siblings.") He was confronted by the question "...aren't you putting obstacles in the way of families like that?"

As I said, I do agree with John Smeaton that the Archbishop's distinction between the value of human life at different stages needs to be repudiated - and, I hope, formally corrected. At the same time, we should see this outrageously partisan BBC coverage for what it is: an attempt to influence the debate in Parliament rather than simply report it. This was not a question of different people making different things of the same coverage as Mark Thompson claimed in Westminster Cathedral last month (Apologia pro BBC sua). This was the liberal consensus in the BBC doing its best to support their secularist friends in Parliament at the very moment of a crucial debate.

More on TLM row at Cardiff

Holy Smoke: Latin Mass cancelled after row over woman server (70 comments)

Holy Smoke: More on Cardiff's cancelled Latin Mass (78 comments)

Fr Z: TLM dust up with the LMS and Cathedral Chapter of Cardiff (178 comments)

Also piked up by St Louis Catholic, Political blogs aggregator, Catholic Action UK, Orwell's picnic, Summorum Pontificum, and others.

Corpus Christi TLM in Glasgow

A correspondent has written to me with the following information for all of you in Glasgow:
There will be a Corpus Christi Mass in Glasgow in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite this coming Thursday. It will be at St Mungo's Church, Townhead, Glasgow at 7pm and will be sung
with Gregorian chant and pipe organ. The celebrant will be Msgr Boyle.

It would be great if we could attract a fair number of people who have never assisted at a traditional Mass before. We've done a bit of advertising so hopefully there will be some interest!

How the West was lost

A new British blog: How the West was lost.

Pope's prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan

The Vatican Information Service last week published the text of a prayer that Pope Benedict has composed to Our Lady of Sheshan to mark the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which is due to be celebrated on 24 May.

"Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title 'Help of Christians', the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said 'yes' in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!"

Monday, 19 May 2008

Shurely shome mishtake?

Mulier Fortis has commented on the campaign by Passion for Life, noting that they have done good work but taking issue with the focus on reducing the number of abortions. She criticises, justifiably in my view, a postcard with the main title "Abortion should be rare". Since she has been challenged on this in the combox by a reader suggesting that the postcard does not exist, I can confirm that it does - it was included in a collection that I was sent last week. Here 'tis:

Is it OK if they are disabled?

A harrowing article by Fraser Nelson in the Spectator (What all MPs should read before voting on the abortion time limit) gives the text of a Sun column featuring a letter from a nurse who was involved in abortion. The letter describes a 24 week abortion in which the nurse cut the umbilical cord and then watched the baby gasping for breath for 10 minutes on the side of a sink before he died. The reason for the abortion was that the mother's boyfriend had a son who might be jealous of a new baby.

The article says that "Her misgivings are reserved solely for those who use termination as a form of contraception." So is it OK to allow "severely disabled" babies to die gasping for breath on the side of a sink?

I hope the article does indeed make some MPs think about what is going on in our supposedly civilised society but I pray that the presumption "It's OK if they are disabled" can be seen for what it is.

John Smeaton has warned of the most important danger in the parliamentary debate on abortion: MPs’ amendments will increase access to abortion throughout pregnancy

Sunday, 18 May 2008

An avoidable incident

The following announcement has appeared on the website of the Latin Mass Society:
URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite due to be offered in Cardiff Cathedral on Sunday 18 May at 11.00 am has been cancelled at the last moment. The LMS withdrew its involvement with this Mass after the Cathedral Dean insisted that a lady server be present in the Sanctuary during Mass. The LMS apologises to members and supporters for the disappointment and inconvenience caused. For those who might wish to register a polite protest the telephone number for the Cathedral Dean is 029 2023 1407. Email: cardiff.met.cath@btinternet.com
This all seems a pity. I should have thought it was fairly obvious that the Latin Mass Society would not be willing to accept the participation of women altar servers in the sanctuary. That could have been diplomatically explained to any women who usually serve at the Cathedral. After all, nobody is obliged to attend the extraordinary form and I am sure there were other Masses that people could have participated in today at the Cathedral.

Perhaps it was meant to be a "test case"; if so, I suppose it is one of those things that needs to be clarified by the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

A conference for families

Some of my parishioners are setting up a conference 'The Faith, The Family...The Future' to be held near St Alban's on 25th and 26th October 2008. The adult residential rate for the weekend will be up to £100. To enable the initial deposit to be paid and to set up a subsidised rate for families and children to attend, any donations you can spare would be very gratefully received.

The speakers include Fr Roger Nesbitt on 'Reaffirming the Family', Fr Aidan Nichols on 'Rediscovering Catholic Culture', Antonia Tully on 'Helping Parents in the formation of their children', Fr Stephen Langridge on Vocations: 'Responding to the Call in 2008', Fr Luis Ruscillo,' Passing on the Faith', a talk on Fatherhood by Johannes Waldstein, and 'The Heart of the Church's Teaching on Marriage' by a panel of speakers. Fr Agnellus FI will preach at Mass on Our Lady's Apparitions and their Messages of Hope for our Time.

There will be talks and activities for young adults and children including presentation of the work of the Church in our inner cities by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and 'Go Teach All Nations', a presentation by Aid to The Church in Need.

Please send any donations to 'The Faith and Family Conference', c/o 195 Halfway Street, Sidcup, DA15 8DE. Any email enquiries to faithandfamily2008@yahoo.co.uk

A sad story

Brian Rutledge, who has been removed from the clerical state, has been convicted of offences against a boy of 17 and sentenced to 4 years and 10 months in prison. (See Southern Daily Echo: Ex priest jailed for sex abuse

The judge commented:
"I am sad to say I saw absolutely no indication of regret or remorse, let alone repentance, from you at your trial. [...] I have seldom seen someone so self-centred and less concerned for the wellbeing of others."
The boy who was abused is now a mature adult and I have known him for many years. Fortunately, he has had some good friends (including some priests) who have tried to do what they can to offer informal support during the harrowing time of the investigation and the trial at which he gave evidence. It was the quality of his evidence that went a long way to securing the conviction of this man.

His statement has not been given much publicity and so I am glad to give it some prominence here. He wants to say:
"I am relieved that the criminal proceedings have ended. I can now look to the future content in the knowledge that the individual concerned is less likely to commit any further offences of this nature."
Please remember my friend and his family in your prayers.

Incidentally, there are the usual misguided comments over at the Daily Echo. If you can spare a few minutes, go over and say something sensible.

Petition to recategorise lap dancing clubs

A petition has recently been started by Sandrine Leveque of Object. It reads:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to re-categorise lap dancing clubs as Sex Encounter Establishments.
Further information:
Under current legislation lap dancing clubs are licensed in the same way as cafes or karaoke and require only a Premises Licence. The Licensing Act 2003 restricted the power of both local authorities and residents to have a say in the licensing of lap dancing clubs. This is wholly inadequate.

Research confirms that lap dancing clubs are part of the commercial sex industry. The buying and selling of sexual services occurs in some clubs and women performers face poor working conditions and high levels of harassment. Lap dancing clubs have a negative impact on the safety and well being of women living and working near them. They normalise the sexual objectification of women. It is clear that lap dancing clubs have a deeper social impact than cafes or karaoke. Licensing must recognise this.

We call on the Government to rethink licensing and re-categorise lap dancing clubs as Sex Encounter Establishments. This would give local authorities the same licensing powers as apply to sex shops, ensure better regulation and give local people a far greater say in licensing.
Sign the Petition
(You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

Thank you for your prayers

Karen at Gem of the Ocean has invited people to join her in saying the Rosary on Sunday evenings in May for all the priests in her blogroll. (See: Rosary for Priests this Month) Philip at Carpe Canem has posted the text of a prayer for priests that was written by the late Cardinal John O'Connor (When did you last pray for your father?)

I am very grateful for these prayers. Thank you Karen, Philip and anyone who is joining them. One thing I have noticed about the Catholic blogosphere is the great support offered to priests, especially through prayer. It is a great consolation.

Priests at the Bailey

Diogenes has been looking through the records he has found on the internet from the Old Bailey (1674- 1913). Of particular interest is the account of the condemnation of Catholic priest William Burnett.

See the whole post: with a modest generosity.

Friday, 16 May 2008

It's the family, stupid!

I am increasingly convinced that the battle for civilisation is centred on the family. As the fundamental unit of society, it is increasingly under threat from moral, social, and economic pressures. The family should be our principle focus of pastoral support and encouragement. Today, the Holy Father spoke to the Forum of Family Associations and the European federation of Catholic Family Associations. He said:
We are well aware of the many challenges facing families today, and we know how difficult it is, in current social conditions, to achieve the ideal of fidelity and solidarity in conjugal love, to bring up children, and to preserve the harmony of the family unit. While on the one hand – thanks be to God – there are shining examples of good families, open to the culture of life and love, on the other hand, sadly, an increasing number of marriages and families are in crisis. From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamours for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies. Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view, as well as the juridical and spiritual. In this context, I am pleased to recommend and encourage certain initiatives and proposals that have emerged in the course of your Conference. I am thinking, for example, of the laudable commitment to mobilize citizens in support of the initiative for "Family-friendly fiscal policy", urging Governments to promote family-related policies that give parents a real possibility of having children and bringing them up in the family.
Have a look at the VIS report which also refers to Pope John Paul's affirmation that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family."

Good pamphlet on exorcism

The Catholic Truth Society kindly sent me a copy of a pamphlet on exorcism by Fr Jeremy Davies which was published last month. You can order it online: "Exorcism. Understanding exorcism in scripture and practice." (A6. 56 pages £1.95)

I was interested in this because my course in Sacramental Theology includes an excursus on indulgences and sacramentals. I include exorcism under the latter heading although after reading Manfred Hauke's article in the periodical Antiphon (Vol 10. 2006), I think I should clarify that exorcism should be regarded as something other than a sacramental instituted by the Church. Hauke's article is not available online but a companion article is: Daniel G. Van Slyke, "The Ancestry and Theology of the Rite of Major Exorcism (1999/2004)"

Fr Davies' pamphlet is offers a sensible and pastoral introduction to the subject with some practical advice. He looks a the different kinds of demonic influence in the world, its causes and degrees, ways of discernment and diagnosis and how to seek help. He emphasises the importance of conversion and spiritual renewal: the sincere desire to live a good spiritual life which is the thing most hated by the devil.

One question which has bothered me is that of the precise difference between a major and a minor exorcism. Fr Davies locates the distinction in the kind of demonic activity. A major exorcism is carried out in the case of genuine possession where a person's will lacks control over some part of himself (the will is never entirely blotted out); and, to the extent that the person's will is in control, he has good will the person has good will; i.e. he seeks to follow Christ. (Fr Davies points out that Jesus did not exorcise Judas nor Peter Ananias, nor Paul Elymas.)

Regarding simple (minor) exorcisms, there is an interesting quotation from Noldin which I followed up the other day. The renowned moralist said:
"It is much to be desired that ministers of the Church should perform simple exorcisms more frequently, remembering the words of the Lord, 'In my name they shall cast out demons' ... They should use this,m or a similar formula: 'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you, unclean spirit, to leave this creature of God.'"
Priests should also follow the advice of Tanquerey not to tell the penitent about this if there is any fear of undue excitement or worry but simply say that he is going to recite a prayer approved by the Church. (He could say it in Latin or quietly.)

From the point of view of apologetics, I was glad to find the point made that Christ clearly distinguished between possession and illness.
"And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons" (Mark 1.34)
Similarly Mk 16.17-18, and Matt 10.1 & 8. Also in Mark's gospel, one deaf and dumb man is healed (Mk 7.33-35) while another is exorcised (Mk 9.25-27)

I recommend this pamphlet as a good introduction to a subject that we should be aware of but not obsessed by. There is always a danger that we talk too much about these things. The most effective weapons against the devil are prayer, the sacraments, and the virtue of charity. He hates all that.

Putting links in the combox - reminder

At the bottom of the sidebar I have put a link to my post "Putting links in the combox." This saves a little time if you want me to go to a link that you have posted in the combox; and time is soooo precious ;-) If you have not got round to learning how to do this, you know that the link is always there tucked away when for you have a moment. It's not that difficult and will make you look a net-savvy commenter :-)

New website for Rome FSSP

There is a new website for the FSSP in Rome giving various details of the new parish of SS Trinità dei Pellegrini with a gallery of images of the Church.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Pope St Pius X radical moderniser?

Sandro Magister has a most interesting article about a two volume work by Carlo Fantappiè entitled "Chiesa romana e modernità giuridica (The Roman Church and juridical modernity)" which looks at the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Saint Pius X. (See: Saint Pius X, a Backward Pope? No, an Unprecedented Cyclone of Reform) He appends a review of the book by Gianpaolo Romanato.

The thesis is that far from being a static, reactionary pontificate, the reign of Pope St Pius X was a cyclone of modernisation in response to the changed conditions in society that had developed during the 19th century. The code of canon law made possible a disciplinary and administrative uniformity that enabled the Church to deal with the modern nation state.

The effect of this centralisation and the increased emphasis given to papal authority within the Church certainly brought about many positive developments. Regarding the Liturgy, however, as Alcuin Reid pointed out in his work "The Organic Development of the Liturgy, there were some elements that could be judged in a less favourable light: for example the wholesale revision of the psalter of the Roman Breviary which resulted in the transformation of the Divine Office so that it lost its continuity with the ancient Roman office. Similarly, the introduction of the idea of "partecipazione attiva" (the original expression was in Italian) has left us with problems that the Church still continues to wrestle with.

Pope Benedict's concept of the "hermeneutic of continuity" can be seen, 100 years later, as an important corrective to this conception of papal authority. With no little humility, our present Holy Father has highlighted the responsibility of the papacy to respect the liturgical tradition of the Church.

Ottawa Archbishop on obedience to Humanae Vitae

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa last week spoke at the convocation of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barrys Bay Ontario on Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter Humanae Vitae saying that "Time has shown it to be a gift from Christ to men and women everywhere". Catholics leaving the event said that they had been waiting 25 years to hear such teaching from an Archbishop. In the course of his address, he said,
"The encyclical gives the Church a deeper understanding into the beauty of married love and responsible parenthood. It offers a clearer understanding of the harm of contraception and the great value of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Further, it challenges married couples, healthcare professionals and clergy to live and teach these profound truths about human sexuality and dignity."
He also reminded clergy of their duty of obedience of mind and will to the teaching.

Today, I think that one important point to get across to the young is that they have been lied to regarding the effectiveness of contraception. It is presented for practical purposes as though it were 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs. In fact, most of the women presenting with "crisis pregnancies" and wanting an abortion are already using one or more methods of contraception. In maternity wards there is also a significant percentage of women who have been using contraception of one form or another.

Even if there were a form of artificial contraception that was 100% effective, it would be wrong to use it in order to make the marriage act a sterile, purely recreational activity; but the fact is that there is no such 100% effective contraception and so there is always the possibility that this natural and God-given act will result in the end for which it was created.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Frankincense for Corpus Christi

Delia, a reader of this blog, very kindly sent me some frankincense which comes all the way from the Yemen. This was a special gift for the feast of Corpus Christi and I look forward to using it then.

On the feast day, Thursday 22 May, at 8pm, there will be a solemn High Mass at Blackfen, followed by a short Corpus Christi Procession. Everyone is, of course most welcome. See this post for details of Getting to Blackfen

Mass at Good Counsel

Yesterday lunchtime I was over at the Good Counsel Network's London centre to say Mass. the Good Counsel Network offers counselling, practical help and moral support to women seeking abortion. They also offer practical help and moral support to women to help them to keep their child.

They reject all contraception as intrinsically evil and damaging to those who use it. The majority of the women that they meet who are in crisis pregnancies are in fact using one or more forms of contraception. Contraception is part of the problem, not the solution. As one of the counsellors put it to me very simply yesterday: how many of these girls would be sleeping with their boyfriends if they understood that there was a real chance that they might become pregnant?

The Network needs lay people to come for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Monday or Tuesday. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed after 12.30pm Mass and Benediction is at 5pm. You could come for a part of that time. There is also an all night vigil of adoration on the first Friday of the month.

They also need priests for Mass each day so do get in touch if you can help occasionally - perhaps this would be a good thing to do on a "day off".

(You are welcome to say the Mass in the older form and if you are learning to do so, the small and sympathetic congregation would provide you with a good opportunity if you are still a little nervous about it.)

Priests or laity interested in participating in the above should phone 020 7723 1740. (The Centre is in central London.)

They recently had a visit from the Westminster planning authority and they have the wrong shutters. These have to be removed. Not enough to change them into the ones that are approved, or put them up permanently and hide them etc. Cost will be £3,000. Non-compliance would cost £20,000. So if you can spare some cash, please make the cheque payable to "The Guild of Our Lady of Good Counsel", and send it to The Good Counsel Network, PO BOX 46679, London, NW9 8ZT.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Catholic Mom of 10 blows up blogger and shrinks herself

Jackie Parkes, the Catholic Mom of 10 has moved her blog to a new home: Catholic Mom of 10 revisited. This is mainly because she overstepped the limit of the picasa account that comes free with blogger by posting dozens of large res photos every day.

Please don't post any sensible advice about using Flickr, Facebook, reducing the file size of the photos, etc. Jackie has had plenty of that and blithely ignored it. I suppose if you are a mother of 10, you just learn to get any job done the quickest way. Just starting up a new blog is certainly hassle free and rather makes a mockery of the picasa limit :-)

Jackie is now advocating "shrinking by cycling" and was trying to persuade me to take up the activity following the example of my good friend Fr Guy Nicholls. Her daughters are joking that it may soon be Catholic Mom of 11 because she was sick the other morning (More amusements at the Parkes household!) It's probably just all that talk of sizing and re-sizing blogs, photos, and people, and cycling - it's making me dizzy.

Massive majority for monster creation bill

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons last night. MPs voted by 340 votes to 78 to support in principle the creation of hybrids, cybrids, and the creation of embryos for the purposes of experimetation.

The debate was opened at 3.36pm by Alan Johnson and finished with the division at 9.59pm. This link takes you to the beginning of the report in Hansard. If you have five and a hours to spare you can watch the Parliament TV recording. I have read the debate and simply offer here a few notes and observations.

Alan Johnson referred to the bill as a "flagship Government bill" and it was clear throughout that although much rhetoric was used about the importance of scientific progress, this is fundamentally a debate about the validity of secular humanist philosophy.

So, for example, John Bercow said (Col 1100):
I take an empiricist, pragmatic, instrumental view, rather than the view that some abstract principle should inveigh against the possibility that such research should be allowed or extended.
There was plenty of criticism of the speeches of Catholic bishops opposing the bill, accusing them of misrepresentation. (Would it have helped if they had made it clear that we are talking about very small monsters?) Dr Brian Iddon (col 1104) valiantly managed to introduce the Galileo case. At the same time, Johnson and others made it quite clear that the removal of the "need for a father" clause was motivated by the concern for lesbian couples. The bill envisages the non-birth-giving woman in a lesbian partnership being identified on the artificially conceived baby's birth certificate as "parent".

Sadly, Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health did not provide much hope for the future. He did use the slightly pro-life-sounding soundbite about there being "too many abortions" (how many abortions is just about right?) but then showed that there is scarcely room for a rizla paper between Labour and Conservative policy:
We have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in western Europe […] We must look at the effectiveness of sex education and of contraceptive services. Personally, I also believe that many more young women—women of any age, for that matter—should be made aware of, and offered, long-acting reversible contraception through the national health service.
Pro-abortionist Labour MP Chris McCafferty repeated the mantra:
As I have said many times in the House, the best way of reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions is to improve women’s access to contraception as well as educating women and men about sexual health. It is not rocket science.
Well it is the sort of rocket science where you put the rocket on the launch pad upside down and when it drives into the ground and blows up, you put more rocket fuel in and try again, and again without ever asking yourself what is going wrong.

Mrs Iris Robinson of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (led by Ian Paisley) gave a cracking speech which began:
I make no apology for speaking as a born-again Christian. I represent the voice of those who look to a higher authority—one to whom we will all one day answer for the decisions that we make in the House. Each one of us is an individual of amazing worth. I approach the Bill through the central fact that we are all created in the image of God. Much science will be discussed and debated, but I want to remind us all that we need to consider the case fully—both biologically, through the logical argument of our God-given minds, and with respect to the mind of God.
she eloquently appealed to the duties of those in public life:
Too often the House and this country have suffered from woolly liberal thinking. Unless we stand firm on certain matters, the United Kingdom will become utterly morally bankrupt. As Members of the House, we should not be engaged in bringing society to its lowest common denominator. Instead, we should seek to raise standards across society.
Strangely, nobody interrupted during her speech or made any reference to it subsequently.

Labour MP Desmond Turner made a point that will be of interest to those of you in the USA:
We have experienced a reverse brain drain in stem cell research. Top American scientists have come to work in the UK because they can work with surety, knowing that they will not be subject to legal challenge for their activities, whereas in many states in America they are actively discouraged and prevented from carrying out that research. A President who shall be nameless stops any federal funding going into embryonic stem cell research.
He also threw in a point about the Catholic Church and a reference to some mysterious discussions at the Vatican only to be interrupted by Mrs Robinson:
I remind the hon. Gentleman that not only the Catholic Church but evangelicals across the whole spectrum of Christianity oppose the Bill.
There was considerable opposition voiced to any change in the current 24 week time limit for abortion. Of course, we should remember that as a result of the last change in the law on abortion, there is no time limit for disabled children - who are referred to less politely when it comes to abortion. A chill went down my spine when I read the words of Dr Desmond Turner:
Cutting the time limit would mean more births of deformed children. Do we want that? I think not.
Evan Harris of the National Secular Society was, of course, on hand with many interventions in support of the bill. There was one amusing exchange when Alistair Burt was defending the right of Christians to speak as such in the public square. He quoted the remark of Evan Harris warning politicians against making "references to deity" in public life. Harris interrupted to say that the quotation (on the BBC website) was only partial and offered clarification, concluding "otherwise, I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that people should have a right to give their view, from whatever perspective, in the public sphere." Burt rejoindered:
I am grateful for the clarification. The hon. Gentleman will not be the first colleague not to have been entirely accurately represented by the BBC. I am also delighted that the honorary president of the National Secular Society now welcomes the opportunity for politicians in the public square to put forward a defence of their views based on faith.
There will be further debates next Monday and Tuesday when key clauses will be debated by the whole house at the committee stage.

See also the posts on John Smeaton's blog: HFE Bill: the next steps and Urge MPs to vote against pro-abortion amendments.

Archbishop tells leading pro-abortion politician not to receive Holy Communion

The Archbishop of Kansas City, Joseph Naumann has told Governor Kathleen Sebelius that she should not present herself for Holy Communion until she has publicly repudiated her support for abortion rights. Archbishop Naumann announced this publicly in his diocesan newspaper The Leaven (Governor’s Veto Prompts Pastoral Action)

This is not a rushed action on the part of the Archbishop. He has met with Governor Sebelius several times and written privately to her. As he says:
My concern has been, as a pastor, both for the spiritual well-being of the governor but also for those who have been misled (scandalized) by her very public support for legalized abortion.
He concludes his message:
The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: “The church’s teaching on abortion is optional!”

I reissue my request of the faithful of the archdiocese to pray for Governor Sebelius. I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions. At the same time, I pray this pastoral action on my part will help alert other Catholics to the moral gravity of participating in and/or cooperating with the performance of abortions.
May God bless Archbishop Naumann richly for this outstanding example of prudent and kindly pastoral leadership.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Continuity: hermeneutic meets architecture

Norumbega is "an online feuilleton and news portal collected from a traditionalist perspective" (see here for an explanation of "Norumbega" and "Feuilleton"). Edited by Andrew Cusack, the heart of the publication is a series of readable, thought-provoking articles which will sometimes be controversial - but because they are original and intelligent, not simply because they set out to "shock".

Andrew Cusack sent me notice of a recent article: An Architecture of Continuity which looks at the Universidad Laboral, constructed from 1946 in Franco's Spain to provide a second level institution to teach vocational and technical skills, supported by communities of the Jesuits and the Poor Clares. of the architecture, Cusack comments:
The Universidad Laboral presents us with an architecture that is a continuation of history, rather than a rejection of history. Its components exhibit a classical symmetry but, like the human body itself, are arranged in a somewhat asymmetrical but nonetheless orderly form. It is the largest building in Spain but is broken up into smaller portions to prevent it from overburdening the inhabitants. It exhibits a natural hierarchy of forms, with the Church at its very heart. The Laboral is proof that there is another way of doing things: that one can be at once modern and traditional. That is a lesson that certainly needs to be understood by architects, but surely also by the rest of society as well.

Association of Catholics in Education

The Association of Catholics in Education (ACE) was recently founded to support Catholic teachers and governors, and all Catholics working in education, whether in Catholic or non-Catholic, state or private schools and colleges.

The aims and objectives of the Association include:
  • promoting the spiritual well-being of members
  • inspiring the whole practice of the profession with Catholic principles
  • providing Catholic ethical/moral guidance to members in an increasingly secular environment
  • drawing members together for mutual support, occasional lectures, networking, days of recollection etc.
The second lecture arranged by the Association will be given by Fr Luiz Ruscillo, co-author with the Bishop of Lancaster or the excellent "Catholic Schools - Fit for Mission?"

The lecture will be on Monday 19 May at 7.30pm in the new Pastoral Centre at St Joseph's, 1 Montem Road, New Malden, Surrey. KT3 3QW. The Church is a short walk from New Malden Station (frequent trains from Waterloo, journey time 24 mins). Here is a google map:


View Larger Map

Pentecost Missa Cantata at Lourdes

Fr George is working hard at Lourdes to make the TLM available for pilgrims. He is having to "make do" to a certain extent. At the moment he can't get hold of a maniple - but is having new vestments made; and various other requisites are still needed. Here's an idea. If you are in Lourdes, why not ask Fr George if there is anything he needs and get it shipped over to him?

Yesterday, he celebrated a Missa Cantata in the Immaculate Conception Basilica and has posted some photos taken by a young father who was present with his wife and children.
See several posts at TLM Lourdes for 11 May. Father makes the pertinent comment:
If I remember correctly, we had pilgrims from England, Ireland, Germany and USA. The language for the Mass was no problem, since everyone wants Latin! Isn’t that innovative in a place where, including all the pilgrims, there may be well over one hundred languages present?
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