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Saturday, 31 January 2009

SSPX - trying to keep up

This is a collection of various stories that have been running over the past two days. Hat tips especially to Rorate Caeli, Cathcon and Fr Z.

In an interview given to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Castrillon played down the remaining difficulties over Vatican II. (pdf of the newspaper page.) Kreuz.net has reported some alleged remarks of Cardinal Re on a bus, blaming Cardinal Castrillon for everything and calling him names.

Bishop Fellay, in an interview given to Monde et Vie, played down the possible divisions within the SSPX, saying that they would be minimal.

Bishop Williamson written a letter of apology for "imprudent remarks of mine" and his sincere regrets for causing so many problems. He has also sent out a message denying rumours of his ill health.

In England, the Times has had a rant, concluding of the lifting of the excommunications:
It is a gesture that should be retracted immediately unless, and until, Bishop Williamson renounces his obscenities.
I don't expect Bishop Williamson's apology will be enough though. (And to be fair, "imprudent" doesn't quite cut it.) In the House of Commons, we hear, MPs condemn lifting of excommunication on Holocaust denier. This is sanctimonious hypocrisy for a Parliament that has legalised the killing of over 5 million babies in the womb and has passed legislation to make Britain lead the world in experimenting on human embryos.

Moving on to some more worthwhile coverage: Brian Mershon has been talking to Mgr Barreiro and writes in the Remnant, Vatican Insider Projects Speedy SSPX Resolution. Mershon quotes some interesting comments from a 1988 address to the Bishops of Chile given by Cardinal Ratzinger. Here is a sample from the address:
The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.
John Allen offers a fair and reasonable critique of the effect of the Vatican's failure to develop any effective communications strategy. See: The Lefebvrite case: What was the Vatican thinking?

Fr Nicola Bux and Salvatore Vitiello at the Agenzia Fides, the news service of Propaganda Fide, have written Revocation of excommunication: an act of real ecumenism highlighting the. intention of the Holy Father to foster reconciliation in charity.

Fr Z language poll

Fr Z seems to have got into polls of late. They are fun - I must do one or two. He has recently asked readers about cheeseburger/hamburger and about which refreshing beverage they prefer. Today he has asked which language you prefer for Holy Mass. There are two options: Latin or "My mother tongue or daily language". (Go over and vote at: Really... admit it...)

The combox is quite fun. the first comment by "Jon" earns its own comments in red:
this is a really dumb idea. we all know how the readers of NLM are going to answer? [Not as dumb as you not knowing that this isn’t NLM! o{]:¬) ]
"Paul the Other" starts off
Cerevisia bibo. Oops! Wrong poll.
Slightly more attentive, Daniel Muller says
Latin.

So much easier than the pickle question.
One good question was raised by a psychiatrist locally in a discussion of this issue: "In what language does God speak to you?"

Obama messiah quotes

In the combox of the post Save us Obama, de Brantigny gave the link to his post Obama The New Messiah. He has put together a good collection of quotes from true disciples of The One. Halle Berry will pick up paper cups from the ground to clear his path; Chris Matthews considers that this is the New Testament; Oprah feels that we are evolving to a higher plane... choose your favourite.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A disaster waiting to happen

This poster was published in the USA during the second world war. I was reminded of it when I received this message in response to my post Dictatorship of relativism in action. It is from a mother who knows the adoption system in the UK very well:
This was a disaster waiting to happen and will be replicated. Any grandparents with a delinquent, difficult or mentally unbalanced son or daughter (or a son who chooses to become a parent with similarly affected girlfriend without benefit of marriage) are in very real danger of experiencing the loss of their grandchildren to homosexual adopters, who are now becoming a very aggressive lobby, demanding access to the youngest and healthiest children and considering it "discrimination" to be offered older or handicapped children. (This I know from secular support organisations for adopters.)

Grandparents in this position should stress ETHNIC ties which are far more respected than religion in terms of cultural roots: many Catholics can do this. I suspect these grandparents asked for help from the state in bringing up their grandchildren. While understandable, I am increasingly convinced this is DANGEROUS. If you need help, respite etc. access it informally from within your own extended family, Catholic parish community, friends, reliable Catholic organisations, etc. Present a very strong front and never allude to any supposed difficulties.

There needs to be a fighting fund for legal help for Catholics and other Christians in these circumstances. I wonder whether the grandparents applied quickly for a Residence Order or Special Guardianship, for example?

Let us invoke the loving protection of Our Lady and guardianship of Saint Michael the Archangel for all children placed for adoption with homosexuals.

Save us Obama!

"In fact, scientists calculate that Obama has four years in which to save the world."
From a short piece in which Newsnight's Science Editor Susan Watts talks about "the environmental challenges President Barack Obama faces." (The Watts What blog has much of the piece transcribed with other comments.)

This piece is a true classic from the BBC. Obama is going to save the world from destruction unlike that nasty President Bush who ignored scientists and listened to religion instead, leading him to oppose stem-cell research and thereby encouraging people not to accept science but to believe in the bible instead of evolution. But the scientists are now free again. Huzzah!

Some helpful points:
  • President Bush did not have a distaste for stem-cell research. He opposed embryonic stem-cell research which involves the destruction of human embryos.
  • You do not have to be a religious person to oppose embryonic stem-cell research, simply a person who does not agree with the destruction of human life.
  • Opposing embryonic stem-cell research does not imply opposition to science, only opposition to the immoral use of science. (We all know of immoral uses of science in the first half of the twentieth century in certain parts of Europe.) In fact, most opponents of embryonic stem-cell research are keen to promote adult stem-cell research.
  • You can believe in the bible without rejecting the idea of evolution. Many Christians and indeed many scientists do. Among the Christians, we might mention Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Many thanks to a BBC insider for alerting me to this piece. And H/T to Is Barack Obama the Messiah? for the picture by Alex Grey.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Dictatorship of relativism in action

A five year old boy and his four year old sister have been taken from their mother because she is a recovering heroin addict and not considered capable of caring for her children. For over two years they have been cared for by their (46 year old) grandmother and (59 year old) grandfather in Edinburgh. Social services consider that the grandparents are too old to provide appropriate care and so have pushed for the children to be adopted. The grandparents have contested this decision in the courts but gave in because they could not afford the legal bills.

Social services have decided to place the children with a male same-sex couple. There were plenty of heterosexual couples who wanted to adopt the children but social services decided that the gay couple could best meet their needs. This despite the fact that as part of the court records, the grandparents hold a social work report which says that the little girl is not happy around men.

The grandparents have expressed their view that the children should be looked after by a mother and a father and are not happy that the children have been placed with a gay couple. (The mother is not happy either.)

Obviously the grandparents would like to keep in regular contact with their grandchildren. Social services have told them that they would 'certainly look' at allowing them access to the children 'when you are able to come back with an open mind on the issues.' Having an "open mind" of course means not expressing any politically incorrect views about gay adoption.

See:
Telegraph: Mother's anger over gay couple's adoption of her children

Daily Mail: 'They say we're too old to care for our grandchildren': Social workers hand brother and sister to gay men for adoption

"Fertility and Faith" - student conference in Oxford

The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics is arranging a conference at Oxford on "Fertility and Faith" on Saturday 21st February, starting at 10 am. The event is being held in association with the OU Newman Society, the Catholic Society and the Oxford Pro-Life Society. The venue is the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy (OX1 1RD).

I'll be speaking at this event in the morning to give a general introduction and overview, looking especially at fertility, the basis for the Church's teaching on artificial birth control and the virtue of chastity.

Anthony McCarthy will be speaking on "Marriage and Meaning", and Ira Winter will speak about practical approaches to natural fertility. There will be a panel discussion and Q&A session after lunch (see attached poster). If you are interested in finding out about the Church's teaching on fertility, infertility, marriage and love, please do come along. Email Stephen Barrie to book your free place.

At the Linacre website there are further details of the conference and you can download a poster if you are able to advertise the event.

Linacre Ethics Forum

I am happy to pass on this notice of the Linacre Ethics Forum meeting next week. Fr Doe is an excellent speaker and I encourage you to go if you can.

Linacre Ethics Forum

On Tuesday 3rd February, Fr Anthony Doe will be speaking on "Therapy and Spiritual Direction in Healthcare: a resource" at 6.30pm (for 7) in the usual place: Vaughan House (behind Westminster Cathedral). Please come along and spread the word! This promises to be a good one!

If you are able to advertise the series of talks, you can download a poster.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Metropolitan Kirill

Metropolitan Kirill (62) of Smolensk and Kaliningrad has been elected Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. He will be enthroned this Sunday 1 February.

Although he has expressed himself as firmly against compromise, he is generally seen as an enthusiast for ecumenism and as someone who is willing to engage with the Holy See. He has considerable diplomatic experience, having been head of the foreign relations office of the Russian Orthodox Church since 1989.

Interestingly, he has gone on record to oppose reforms of the Liturgy such as the replacement of Old Church Slavonic with modern Russian.

To get an idea of the kind of man who has been elected, have a look at this interview given last October for Spiegel Online: 'The Bible Calls it a Sin'. His interviewers are articulately and strongly hostile on moral and political questions but the Metropolitan holds his own very well indeed.

SSPX story develops

There have been a number of important developments in the story of the reconciliation of the SSPX over the last day or so.

First, and most importantly, Pope Benedict used today's General Audience to make three special announcements. He welcomed the election of Patriarch Kyrill as the new Patriarch of Moscow. More about that later. He then spoke of the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops. Rorate Caeli has an English translation of the original Italian text in which he spoke of the importance of his duty to call to unity and said that he decided to remit the excommunications "precisely in the accomplishment of this service of unity, which qualifies, in a specific way, my ministry as Successor of Peter." the Holy Father went on to express his hope for their solicitous effort to accomplish the remaining steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church.

In his third announcement, the Holy Father recalled the images imprinted on his memory from his several visits to Auschwitz
"one of the camps in which the brutal killing was carried out, of millions of Jews, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hatred."
The Holy Father went on to say:
"I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all."
Also today, the District Superior of the SSPX has issued a strong statement dissociating himself from the behaviour of Bishop Williamson and apologising for it. See the translation at Rorate Caeli: Note of the District Superior for Germany of the SSPX.

And in a surprising development, La Ciguena de la Torre has claimed another scoop via his Vatican mole "Cardinal Re" who has alleged that Bishop Williamson has written to the Vatican to apologise of the damage caused by his reckless statements. (Cathcon has a translation of the post.)

Via Cathcon, I found the link to an interesting article by Christopher Ferrara in the Remnant: Triumph and Tribulation. On the question of the present canonical status of the four bishops, Ferrara argues that it was only ever Archbishop Lefevbre who was suspended a divinis and that the only penalty imposed on the four bishops was excommunication. Since that has been lifted, he says, they are no longer under any canonical penalty. However the article in Inside the Vatican with which he takes issue, alleges that all the priests of the Society were suspended. My own guess, for what it is worth, is that Cardinal Castrillon would be keen to dispel any such doubts in fairly short order and affirm the good standing of the Bishops and priests of the Society. I found it amusing that Ferrara referred to the SSPX as an "ecclesial movement" - it would certainly be an advantage if they were to bring to new movments generally a sense of what is "sacred and great" in the Church's Liturgy.

Ferrara also scorns the "usual conspiracy-mongers" who would see the Holy Father's gesture as "part of a sinister neo-Modernist plot to capture and neutralize the Society." He also has some very sensible comments to make on Holocaust Revisionism, together with some of the obvious evidence for the Holocaust, especially from Nazi sources themselves.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

CBCEW spokesperson on SSPX

Here it is:
27/01/2009
Press release
Issued by the Catholic Communications Network

Catholic Bishops’ Conference statement on lifting of excommunications of SSPX Bishops

A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales said:

“The Bishops of England & Wales acknowledge the lifting of the excommunication of four SSPX bishops.

“The Bishops draw attention to the fact that this is the first step in enabling the fraternity of SSPX to move towards full communion and doctrinal unity within the Catholic Church.

“In harmony with Pope Benedict XVI, the Bishops of England & Wales hope that this act will consolidate reciprocal relations of trust and to intensify and stabilise the relations of the Fraternity of SSPX and the Holy See.”

Ends
Some background information follows.

New statement from Bishop Fellay

The Vatican has today released a statement from Bishop Fellay asking the forgiveness of Pope Benedict and of all people of good will for Bishop Williamson's holocuast denial on Swedish TV. Bishop Fellay also made known his decision to prohibit Bishop Williamson from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.

Here is a link to the NCR translation of Bishop Fellay's statement.

In the meantime, Bishop Williamson has deigned to write about the affair in his weekly column. There is not a trace of remorse for the damage that he has done to his Fraternity or to the Church. He says:
And let us thank and pray for Benedict XVI and all his collaborators who helped to push through this Decree, despite, for instance, a media uproar orchestrated and timed to prevent it.
I wonder if it ever does occur to His Excellency in the wee small hours that he might be just an incy-wincy little bit to blame for the "media uproar"?

This has been a painful time for the SSPX and for all those who wish them well. Bishop Fellay has acted decisively, and in exactly the way that we have all been hoping for. May God speed all that remains to be done on the journey to full regularisation of the Fraternity.

Mass at Belsen

A moving story for Holocuast Day is to be found at the blog of Fr Sean, Bangor to Bobbio. He refers to an article in the Telegraph by Lord Molyneaux, former head of the Ulster Unionist Party: I witnessed the dead of Belsen: we must always confront tyranny.

The liberation of Belsen was ingrained on British memories because it was the British who were given the task of going into the camp. Lord Molyneaux says:
On arrival at Tactical Headquarters, we had been briefed on the discovery of the Belsen prison camp nearby. In company with our RAF medical unit and the two 2nd Army Field hospitals, we wasted no time. Briefed though we were, the shock excelled all the horrors of the battles of the 12 months since Normandy.
I remember my father telling me about the horrors of the battles in Normandy, and although he had been through may ghastly experiences as part of a tank crew, he would certainly have agreed with Lord Molyneaux's assessment. Indeed every decent British soldier realised that whatever doubts they may have entertained about the War, the footage from Belsen confirmed that their cause had been a necessary and just one.

One story from the article is particularly poignant in view of the furore of recent days:
The most moving experience came on the second morning as I was walking from what had been the luxury SS barracks which our troops had transformed into a hospital. My attention was drawn to two packing cases covered by a worn red curtain. A young Polish priest was clinging to this makeshift altar with one hand, while celebrating Mass. Between his feet lay the body of another priest who probably died during the night. No one had had the energy to move the body.

I had no difficulty in following the old Latin Mass, having been educated at St James's Roman Catholic School in County Antrim, and, although an Anglican, I had gained a working knowledge of all the rituals. Still supporting himself against the altar, the young priest did his best to distribute the consecrated elements. Some recipients were able to stumble over the rough, scrubby heathland. Others crawled forward to receive the tokens and then crawled back to share them with others unable to move. Some almost certainly passed on to another - probably better - world before sunset. Whatever one's race or religion one can only be uplifted and impressed by that truly remarkable proof of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

New Gregorian Chant Schola in Edinburgh

This news just in from bonnie Scotland:

Plans have been made for a schola to sing and promote Gregorian chant within the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. This will be a male choir which will meet on a Thursday evening in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, for sung Latin Vespers and rehearsal with half a dozen chanted Masses spread among the deaneries each year.

Anyone who is interested in joining the schola or supporting this increasingly popular music of the Church should visit edinburghschola.blogspot.com for more details.

Monday, 26 January 2009

"A resource of the utmost importance"

From the Angelus yesterday:
"Today I also wish to mention this years Message for World Communications Day which was released on the eve of the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalists. The Message concerns the new technologies which have made the internet a resource of utmost importance, especially for the so-called digital generation. Undoubtedly, wise use of communications technology enables communities to be formed in ways that promote the search for the true, the good and the beautiful, transcending geographical boundaries and ethnic divisions. To this end, the Vatican has launched a new initiative which will make information and news from the Holy See more readily accessible on the world wide web. It is my hope that this initiative will enrich a wide range of people including those who have yet to find a response to their spiritual yearning through the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ whose message of Good News the Church bears to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:20)!"
Link to the video

"Unacceptable and stupid"

Jane at Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism has translated an article that appeared in La Croix this morning. See: Cardinal Kasper: Rome, Agence France Presse: Pope/Israel: 'Trip conditional on Gaza, not on a holocaust-denying bishop.'

The source for the La Croix article is an interview given by Cardinal Kasper to La Repubblica and the story has been put on the news services AKI and Agence France Presse, and probably others so it has gone around quite widely - here it is in the Hindustan Times. Here is the AKI story: Vatican: Cardinal slams bishop for Holocaust denial.

During the interview, Cardinal Kasper said of Williamson's holocaust denial:
"They are unacceptable words, stupid words. To deny the Holocaust is stupid and it is a position that has nothing to do with the Catholic Church."
Meanwhile, Cardinal Bagnasco, the President of the Italian Bishops' Conference has also denounced Williamson's views whilst affirming that the decision to lift the excommunications was merciful.

And today's Italian daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano has put an article on the front page which discusses the lifting of the excommunications and whether it was imprudent for Pope Benedict to have taken this action which might be seen as accepting holocaust denial. At the end of the article, quoting Nostra Aetate, it affirms that anti-semitism is unacceptable, that holocaust denial contradicts this teaching and is therefore very grave and regrettable and remains (despite the lifting of the excommunications) unacceptable.

A moving pro-life testimony

Fr John Boyle at St Simon's Parish blog has posted a letter that he received after the SPUC White Flower appeal.

Sometimes priests are worried about preaching on a pro-life theme because "there might be women in the congregation who have had an abortion". The truth is, there very likely will be women in the congregation who have had an abortion and that is one important reason why we need to preach the Gospel of Life. Women who regret this decision need to hear a compassionate voice on the subject. Otherwise all that will be heard is the media-driven prejudice that the Church's pro-life teaching is about condemning women.

We also need to reach the men too. By encouragement, by silence, or by using the get-out clause "I'll support you whatever you do", many men have co-operated in abortion and need to understand that this also needs repentance and forgiveness.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Are you with Pope Benedict?

My quotations from reactions from the French and German Bishops to the news of the lifting of the excommunications of the four Bishops of the SSPX has received wide attention. I quoted selectively not to downplay the obvious reluctance expressed in these statements but to highlight the extraordinary expressions of "hope" or "welcome" that would have been unthinkable before the Holy Father's instruction to the Congregation for Bishops. Here is another quote, this time from Archbishop Kurt Koch, President of the Swiss Bishops' Conference (Econe is in Switzerland) says: "I hope and pray that this reconciliation will happen." (Cf. Swiss Bishops' Conference statement - H/T Cathcon)

Meanwhile, the secular media has put out exactly the headlines that we all knew would issue forth. E.g.:
BBC: Pope move ignites Holocaust row
Reuters: Pope rehabilitates Holocaust denier
Independent: Pope readmits Holocaust-denying priest to the church

These headlines are very much to be expected after the disgraceful remarks of Bishop Williamson to Swedish TV denying the holocaust. I must own up here to an inaccuracy on my part. On Friday I contradicted Ruth Gledhill's assertion that the interview was given "this week" and said "It has been splashed all over the internet this week." In fact, the interview was also only broadcast on Swedish TV last week.

There is an interesting nugget in the posts of La Cigüeña de la Torre who said on Friday (the day before the publication of the news of the lifting of the excommunications) that
The bomb has exploded. Once again, Cardinal Re has used this humble blog to publicize news of great importance. I can only reiterate my warm gratitude.
I wrote earlier that I did not understand why Cardinal Re would use a blog to spread news. It appears I failed to understand a long-running joke that La Cigüeña has, using "Cardinal Re" as the spoof ID for his source.

It is interesting, though, that someone did leak this information in advance. I was going to quote from a story from one of the major news agencies that mentioned a not insignificant Vatican dicastery expressing concerns that they had not been consulted. Looking up the web pages this evening, I find that the reference has been edited out. Hmmmm.

Clearly not everyone at the Vatican is happy. No surprise there, then. Pope Benedict has certainly made a risky move. He knew about Bishop Williamson's utterly reprehensible views (which the official Vatican press spokesman has unambiguously repudiated) but presumably also knew that there was no prospect of eradicating such tendencies within the SSPX before the move to effect reconciliation. He has perhaps judged it better to get the Fraternity on board and take the media flak, hoping that the extremist elements will fall away, not wishing to be associated with a Pope and a "Conciliar Rome" that they have railed against. Meanwhile, the more sensible elements of the SSPX will see that regular jurisdiction is a pressing and urgent need.

Joseph Ratzinger has long experience of the Vatican at the highest level. For my part, I trust him to act with prudence, making the best possible moves at the highest level to promote the good of the Church. Let us pray that all those who are working for him in the papal court will also trust both his judgement and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Excommunications lifted

This morning, the Holy See has communicated the Decree of the Congregation for Bishops which remits, for the four Bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefevbre, the censure of excommunication declared against them on 1 July 1988.

Links
Official announcement at the Vatican website (Italian)
English translation provided by Rorate Caeli
Press release issued by the SSPX superior general, Bishop Fellay
Bishop Fellay's Letter to the Faithful

Some reactions are beginning to come in. Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, in an interview this morning with Radio Notre Dame expressed some cautionary remarks but said:
I am delighted. This is an opportunity, a door open to allow Christians to find the fullness of communion with the Church. As long as they want or they accept it. It is a gesture of mercy and a gesture of openness to strengthen the unity of the Church.
The Chairman of the German Conference of Bishops has issued a statement in which he says that the Pope has offered his outstretched hand and that he hopes that they take it.

Not everyone is happy, of course: I am not thinking of the sandalistas or the secularists but of many good and sound Catholics who are concerned at the tendencies shown by some within the SSPX and given voice especially by Bishop Williamson. Damian Thompson has written a good piece this morning which summarises those concerns. (See: Pope Benedict is taking a huge risk in lifting the SSPX excommunications). I agree that he is taking a huge risk and that "Joseph Ratzinger has already factored the hostile reaction into the equation."

As I indicated yesterday, I am delighted by this news. I have met some very good people from the SSPX and it is a great joy to know that the principal obstruction to their full jurisdictional normality in the Church has now been removed. It is a typically "Benedictine" move to have the announcement made during the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity and I trust Pope Benedict's judgement that this will "promote unity in the charity of the universal Church." Nevertheless, Damian is right to say that "This is the biggest risk that Pope Benedict has taken in his pontificate so far."

In his letter to the faithful, Bishop Fellay attributed today's good news to the one million, seven hundred and three thousand rosaries that have been said to obtain the intercession of Our Lady. We must pray for the Holy Father - offer up rosaries, Masses, penances, and almsgiving that his courageous "gift of peace" will bear abundant fruit.

Friday, 23 January 2009

SSPX - the agony and the ecstasy

Rorate Caeli has been posting updates of the rumour made public on the Spanish blog La Cigüeña de la Torre, namely that the excommunication of the SSPX bishops will be lifted within the next few days. The rumour has been hotting up with Andrea Tornielli reporting that Bishop Fellay has recently been to meet Cardinal Antonio Cañizares at the Congregation for Divine Worship. We can probably bet safely that this was not to arrange training for the SSPX priests to say the new Mass.

Not surprisingly, the rumour has been accompanied by widespread attention to the public statements of Bishop Williamson in which he has repeatedly denied the holocaust. Ruth Gledhill of the Times has an article on this with a video clip of an interview given by Bishop Williamson to Swedish TV. (See: Traditionalist bishop: 'There were no gas chambers' and the article Church of England clergy host Holocaust denial Bishop)

Gledhill also has another post Church of England clergy host Holocaust denial Bishop and an article in the paper Pope could welcome Holocaust denier back into the fold which apply the full spin to the news. In the enthusiasm to wreck the good news of the possible reconciliation of the SSPX, there is a little error of fact. Gledhill says that the Bishop "gave an interview to Swedish TV this week". No - it was given on 1 November last year. It has been splashed all over the internet this week.

First off, let's deal with Bishop Williamson's assertions. In the interview he relies on the report by Fred Leuchter who supposedly provided "scientific" evidence that there were no gas chambers.

Leuchter came to fame at the trial of Ernst Zundel in 1988. Zundel was a German-Canadian neo-Nazi accused under a Canadian law of publishing hate propaganda. He had Leuchter testify that there were no gas chambers at the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau, or Majdanek. His evidence was dismissed because he did not have the credentials to prove any relevant expertise. In fact, although Leuchter presented himself as an engineer, he did not have any qualifications in the field but had graduated with a BA in history. He later blamed the opprobrium which surrounded him on an international Jewish conspiracy. For information on the chemistry involved in gas chambers which refutes the claims of Leuchter and other peddlers of counterknowledge, see Richard Green's article on The Chemistry of Auschwitz.

At the end of the interview, which took place in Bavaria, Bishop Williamson acknowledges that what he has said is illegal in Germany and concludes:
"You could have me thrown into prison before I leave Germany. I hope that's not your intention."
A report in the German section of Vatican Radio confirms that in fact the Regensburg prosecutor may indeed be intending to throw him in jail. (Original text - English translation by Cathcon.) Incidentally, Cathcon has a post with a roundup of links on the affair as well as a translation of the article in Der Spiegel attacking the SSPX on the basis of Bishop Williamson's remarks.

The Remnant has published a copy of the letter that Bishop Fellay has written to the Swedish TV station. Damian Thompson has a robust article in which he points up the inadequacy of Bishop Fellay's letter. (See: Head of SSPX 'refuses to condemn Bishop Williamson for Holocaust denial') Although Damian charitably raises the possibility that the letter is not genuine, I doubt whether the Remnant would publish it unless they were quite sure of its provenance.

Rather better is the response of Fr Schmidberger reported in the Remnant. He said:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ is in His human nature a Jew, His Holy Mother is a Jewess and all the Apostles are Jews. Therefore, no true Christian can be an Anti-semite."
and further:
"We do not know the interview done by Bishop Williamson with Swedish television. As soon as we get it, we will submit it to scrutiny and get the advice of lawyers. It is clear that the only one responsible for the statements made by the Bishop, is the Bishop himself as well as that the statements do not reflect the views held by the Society of St. Pius X. In addition, Pope Pius XI in his encyclical ”Mit Brennender Sorge” warned about the godless Nazi regime and its crimes."
Still this is not enough. Even if the Swedish TV station did raise the question in order to rubbish the SSPX, and even if Der Spiegel wanted to stir up trouble, surely the point is that the SSPX should by now have faced up to the question of Bishop Williamson's execrable public statements denying the holocaust and the immense damage that they have done. If it is true that the excommunications are to be lifted in the next few days, Pope Benedict will have brought off another master-stroke of understated genius by associating it with the Octave of prayer for Christian Unity. It is infuriating that the press have been given such a golden opportunity to call the whole thing into question.

Personally, I hope with all my heart that the rumour of the lifting of the excommunications is true. I would love to see all these people in full, regular, non "state of necessity" jurisdictional regularity. I was reflecting today that the Battle for Helm's Deep could be a metaphor for the spiritual battle that we are facing in the West with the real possibility that the USA could be falling to secularism. The arrival of the SSPX in the ranks would be like the elves arriving to boost the defences, recalling the days of long ago when elves and men fought side by side.

For a better perspective on the SSPX than the Williamson interview, see this story of a good and kindly 83 year old priest killed in South Africa by a young man whom he had helped: Priest’s ‘killer’ knew him. for more about Fr Leslie, see: Father Leslie ‘was dedicated to the old ways’.

Obama celebrates Roe v Wade

President Obama has moved swiftly to assert his pro-abortion policy. Yesterday, he celebrated the anniversary of Roe v Wade, asserting that the principle was that the Government should not intrude on family matters, and offering some high-flown rhetoric about women's rights - that our daughters should have "no limits on their dreams" - provided they have managed to be born, of course. As with all pro-abortion politicians, he asserts that he is keen to reduce the need for abortion - and says that this will be accomplished by providing more contraception. (See: Obama restates his commitment to abortion rights

The White House website has now been updated, including a section on "Reproductive Choice"
Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: President Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.
In case you haven't already seen it, here is a clever and rather pointed video from Catholic Vote:

Vatican YouTube channel

Yay! Here is the link to the new Vatican's YouTube channel.

Have a look at the excellent introductory video that has been put at the centre of the channel page.

(Just one thing - the videos have "embedding disabled by request". I hope this is just a temporary glitch. I understand them no wanting to bother with comments but it would be good if bloggers could put up the videos.)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

There never was when he was not

Just briefly touching down after lecturing at Parkminster today and before going on to an appointment in London with an old friend.

Today we reached Arius in the course on the Trinity. It is quite fascinating to see the various attempts made by fathers, ecclesiastical writers and heretics, to address the problem of how there can be only one God and yet there can also be Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Tertullian came up with the term "Trinitas" and there were various more or less successful attempts to say how the Son or the Word could be distinct from the Father and yet be God.

Some thought that the Son was an emanation from the Father, perhaps a secondary God, or that he was God and therefore the same as the Father, so that the Father also suffered on the Cross. Others said that he was like a ray from the light source, that he was God in a sense but not the true God. Arius said that he was created, not eternally begotten, and that he was of a different kind of thing from the Father, not of the same substance.

In the next session, we will take a look at the response of the Fathers of Nicea and the Creed which we say or sing at Mass. Knowing something of the struggle to express the faith in words, it is thrilling to affirm in the words of those Fathers in 325:
And [we believe] in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Frothy Scotsman swears

Today is one of those days when I offer heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving that I do not have a television in my house. Even so, the news of Obama's inauguration is seeping through the cracks in my firewall. The Guardian's PDA digital content blog has perhaps the most superfluous sounding article of the day entitled "Obama inauguration: where to find coverage online". I am even getting one or two emails from Government offices over here with the latest silly items that are circulating (see below). So I thought I should join in the hysterical euphoria balanced appraisal.

The BBC's coverage is obviously going to be modelled on its coverage of World Youth Day - though in this case they will show pictures of cheering crowds of young people, drop the snide slant, and focus on the positive. In fact, they look as though they will cover all bases, including the news that Obama is in fact Scottish.

To follow the action more closely, you could always try Al Jazeera's Obama Twitter channel (not actually a joke). However, I think that we should become the BBC for a day. Let's pretend that Barack Obama is indeed the Pope and that we want to give a serious and objective account of this world-changing event.

To set the viewer at ease, we could begin with a "Well fancy that!" clip so that nobody takes it too seriously. Here's a good one from the Krispy Kreme doughnut chain:



Putting on a more sombre tone, we can hint that some trouble is expected from the crowds, necessitating a paramilitary FBI squad to be stationed at the base of the Washington Monument

and for volunteers to boost security:

We should at this point drop one or two comments suggesting that the crowds are not building up in the predicted volume and that the security response seemed to be overkill:

Another picture to give emphasis to the slant:

That's enough flickr pictures and silly BBC-bias imitation [Ed]

Meantime, this chap, photographer Ilham Anas, has become quite a celebrity in Indonesia:

Monday, 19 January 2009

Proposed Vatican YouTube channel

Reuters have reported that the Vatican has been in negotiation with google to arrange for the Vatican Television Centre and YouTube to co-operate in running a Vatican channel on YouTube. (See: Vatican to get own YouTube channel) H/T Fr Ray Blake

The report mentions that the Vatican website was set up in 1995. I remember it well - at that time I was writing a column for Faith Magazine called Faith Online and was glad to share the news in the column - it helped to convince some skeptical colleagues that there might be something to this World Wide Web malarkey.

Expect some silly headlines (eg. CBS: "will the Pope's partnership with Google be a match made in heaven?"; Scotsman: "Did you Holy See that?"; etc. ad nauseam)

There is actually no reason to be surprised that the Church should adopt new media to spread the gospel. Long before the web was invented, it was Christians who pioneered the adoption of the codex in place of the scroll, and we were in there with movable type fairly early on ;-)

The official Vatican press conference has been announced for Friday 23 January with the following participants:
  • Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
  • Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the same Pontifical Council
  • Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.I., Director of Vatican Radio, of the Vatican Television Centre and of the Holy See Press Office
  • Henrique de Castro, Managing Director of Media Solutions for Google.
The conference will present the Holy Father's message for the 43rd World Communications Day: "New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."

National Sanctity of Human Life Day

"The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent."
Outgoing US President George Bush recently issued a strong pro-life statement from the White House proclaiming 18 January 2009 as "National Sanctity of Human Life Day."

Usus Antiquior - resources for laity

Following the post on the FSSP instructional DVD for priests, a couple of people asked whether there was a DVD that would help lay people. Here are some suggestions:

Southwell Books distribute "The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven" which is intended for clergy wishing to learn to celebrate the Mass but also for lay people wishing to understand it better.

A classic is the 1941 film of Easter Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago with commentary by Fulton Sheen. Here is the YouTube version in low resolution:



The DVD is available - not sure which would be the most convenient for an English purchaser so perhaps someone might be able to help in the combox.

I must also mention "Know Your Mass" which is a comic format book. One of my servers, quite intelligent enough to understand it, but accustomed to rather less challenging educational resources, said to me the other day "Father, that's not really a children's book!" It is available from the SSPX publishers, Angelus Press: Know Your Mass. From the same supplier, For the Visitor at Mass also provides a good introduction.

Call to Youth talk on Stem Cell Research

The London's Oratory "Call to Youth" have invited Professor Neil Scolding of the
Institute of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Bristol, to speak on the subject of "Stem Cell Research".

The talk will be on Thursday 29 January at 8pm at St Wilfrid's Hall. Refreshments are provided afterwards. Young adults are warmly invited.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Presentation of EF Mass tutorial DVD

Fr Armand de malleray writes to say that on Thursday 5 February, there will be a presentation of the EWTN-FSSP DVD tutorial on the Extraordinary Mass, by the priests of the FSSP in England.

This will be at 7pm at the London Oratory (St Wilfrid’s Hall). Fr de Malleray FSSP will give the presentation which will be followed by the projection of extracts of the DVD (the interview by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, and the spiritual explanation by Fr Calvin Goodwin, FSSP). There will be refreshment afterwards.

Copies of the DVD will be available for purchase at the special launch price of £12. Entrance to the event is free and all are welcome. There will be a Low Mass beforehand at 6pm in the Little Oratory, celebrated by Fr Armand de Malleray.

The FSSP kindly sent me a copy of the two DVD set and I must say that it is an excellent resource for priests or seminarians wishing to learn how to celebrate mass according to the usus antiquior. You can choose from four different camera angles and the accompanying explanation is simple and straightforward. I would suggest that a priest wishing to learn to say the traditional Mass would do well to work through the DVD and then contact a priest experienced in celebrating the older form of the Mass to arrange a "dry Mass".

On a technical note, the DVD is in NTSC format which will play on any computer but might not work in some european DVD players.

The DVD can be ordered from the FSSP website.

Friday, 16 January 2009

"Window of Life"

Just after Christmas, the Archbishop of Czestochowa, Most Rev Stanislaw Nowak, inaugurated the third "Window of Life" for unwanted babies. the service is provided by the Sisters of the Congregation of Servants of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. (The two other similar initiatives are at Krakow and Warsaw - the photo is of the one in Krakow, I think.)

The window opens from the outside onto a heated cubicle. The sisters are alerted and the baby can be taken into the adjacent room for immediate professional medical care.

The head of Caritas at Czestochowa said that he hoped that the window would be used rarely because the best place for a child is within the care of its mother and father. However, he was glad that the opportunity was available for mothers who were desperate - and would be glad to know that their baby would be provided with immediate care.

H/T Lifesite News: Third “Window of Life” for Unwanted Babies Inaugurated in Poland

If you read Polish or, like me, enjoy reading google translations, here is an Article in Gazeta Czestochowska.

The Window of Life was dedicated in honour of Bl. Edmund Bojanowski. Born in 1814, Bl Edmund worked in rural areas to promote literature and culture among the people. The cholera epidemic of 1849 changed his life as he worked tirelessly among the sick. He spent the rest of his life in charitable work, especially through the orphanage he founded. Unusually for a layman, he effectively founded a religious order of sisters to assist with this work.

An English woman, Frances Taylor (later Mother Magdalen Taylor) helped Florence Nightingale in the Crimea and became a Catholic after seeing the faith and hope of the dying Irish Catholic soldiers whom she was nursing. After returning home, she continued to work among the poor and felt called to the religious life. She considered that the community founded by Bl. Edmund Bojanowski was closest to her ideal and in 1869 she founded the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, broadly based on his work.

Milton Jones

Found this video on Sensible Bond. It is a while since I have laughed out loud at a stand-up comic. I was impressed that he did not need to resort to smut or swearing - and found that the YouTube blurb says the same. One good line among many: "Militant Feminists! I take my hat off to them: they don't like that." Lots of very good one-liners here...

A brand new blog

From Kate, a Catholic mother of eight who is blogging under the title At home in my Father's House. Bloggers will all recognise the sentiment of her first post the other day:
Actually, writing a blog does seem a little like putting out into the deep, as I have no idea if anyone will read it
I felt exactly the same back in April 2006 - all I can say is "Write from the heart, and keep on writing." We can all benefit from the insights of a Mother of eight. If Christian civilisation is going to survive the secularist onslaught it will be thanks to good families.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

One million visitors

At 4.37pm today, the Hermeneutic of Continuity received its one millionth visit. Here is a screenshot from Site Meter:

Thank you all very much for reading what I write. I started this blog on something of a whim and thought that the title "The Hermeneutic of Continuity" would be an amusingly arcane indication of the line I wanted to take. The blog rapidly became an apostolate and, as I commented once, something on which I have to examine my conscience.

The stats depend on certain assumptions made by the hit counter that is used. I'm happy to use Site Meter because it is quite commonly used in the blogosphere. Bloggers tend to value the "Visit" count because most people only go to one page - the "hit count" for the blog (page views) is now 1,854,440. The average per day is currently 1812 visits or 3259 page views.

On Saturday 7 February, there will be a Missa Cantata at Blackfen (or Solemn High Mass if there are a couple of other clerics available) at 10.30am. Afterwards there will be a little party in the Hall to celebrate the million visits. All of you are most welcome. If you are coming, it would be helpful if you could send an email to rosary@freeuk.com with "Million party" in the subject line; but if you forget or are free at the last minute, come anyway.

(Here are the instructions for Getting to Blackfen)

New old Missal


"Preserving Christian Publications" have announced the reprint of the Benzinger Brothers' 1962 Altar Missal. This looks to be a very fine quality Missal with gold embossing, reinforced spine, leather tabs, ribbons with mini-braid leads, leather tabs etc. The price is $460 which works out at £316 using today's exchange rate. to buy the Missal outside the USA, you have to contact them to check the cost of shipping.

The media page has some photographs of the various stages of production. Many years ago, I used to be one of the few students at St John's Seminary, Wonersh who got the printing press in the basement going and actually printed off a few things like letterheads and business cards. There was some binding equipment down there and some old supplies - I managed to bind my "Daily Prayer" (the day hours of the English breviary) in half leather with red cloth and marbled endpapers. It wasn't the neatest job but the book is still usable after over 30 years. I don't use it much nowadays, having gone over to the old breviary, but it is a fine book to use when I am around to join in the Office at the Seminary.

Since then, I have always had an amateur interest in the quality of books and it is good to see PCP keeping up the tradition of proper binding. It needs to be said that in Britain at any rate, the quality of Missals for the Novus Ordo is utterly dire and the antithesis of everything that PCP have done - weak synthetic binding that falls apart quickly, poor quality "show through" paper that curls and crumples with use, poorly attached synthetic tabs that fall out easily, badly made ribbons with no leads, bland typesetting and layout: a combination that basically says "we don't care much about this."

One area of "mutual enrichment" between the two forms of the Roman Rite must surely be the production of Altar Missals that look as though they are meant to be important and sacred books. It used to be that you could only find such books gathering dust at the back of sacristy cupboards. Now that new old Missals of fine quality are coming off the press (this one is not the first nor will it be the last), there is no excuse for not producing Altar Missals of similar quality for the newer form of the Roman Rite. Unless nobody thinks it is really worth doing.

Fullness of Faith - and Islam

David Palmer,a convert from Anglicanism, has revived his blog Fullness of Faith and intends to give it a more apologetic emphasis, particularly challenging Islam.

europe4christ

There is a Facebook group: Europe4Christ which has an associated website, europe4christ (which is also linked to Facebook but can presumably be accessed generally.) Here is the summary:
"Europe for Christ!" is an international and ecumenical Christian initiative to create a network of:
  • PRAYER for a Europe built upon Christian values
  • EDUCATION on vital issues of concern for European Christians
  • ACTION and SUPPORT when needed
For an example of what is going on in the European Parliament, see John Smeaton's post "Churches and pro-lifers must act following pro-abortion European Parliament vote."

Another good source of news concerning Europe is the blog of Pat Buckley MEP: European Life Network

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Replies to Kmiec's attack on Catholic bloggers

Douglas Kmiec is a Catholic academic lawyer in the States, and a high-profile supporter of Barack Obama (he recently wrote "Can A Catholic Support Him?: Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama"). In the current issue of the US Catholic journal Commonweal, Kmiec attacked "right wing" Catholic bloggers. See A Tangled Web. The Election & the Blogosphere.

Thomas Peters of American Papist has written a sensible and measured response: An open letter to Doug Kmiec (on behalf of the “right-wing Catholic blogosphere”)

CNA has an article Catholic bloggers respond to Kmiec criticism which refers to the piece by Thomas Peters. It also quotes Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It!:
“I'm not interested in hearing Kmiec moan about how mean people from the bottom of the barrel were to him,” Shea told CNA. “I’m interested in hearing his responses to the very intelligent critiques of his position that were offered by a number of very respectable and honorable Catholics.”

Gregorian Chant tuition

Nick Gale, Director of Music at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, and Head of Academic Music at the London Oratory School, has set up the website gregorianchant.org.uk to advertise his the provision of instruction and tutoring in Gregorian Chant for groups with different levels of familiarity with chant, and for clergy who would like to learn to sing the Mass in either the ordinary or the extraordinary form.

Inside Catholic

I am very impressed by the Inside Catholic website which carries a wealth of good articles - our own Auntie Joanna is featured there among the many US writers with an article reflecting on Britain and the 1950s.

Another excellent article is Contraception and Conversion by David Mills. He begins by observing that progressive Catholics sometimes ask him why he converted - after all, the Episcopalian Church had everything: "married priests, women priests, homosexual priests, no doctrinal restrictions, evolving moral standards, and an official reason to be rude to the pope. What more could one want?" I found this section amusing:
I will often say, in as cheery, boosterish, and cheerleading a voice as I can manage, "My wife and I discovered the truth of the Church's teaching on contraception, and after a while we just had to join the one body in the world that was telling the truth about it."

That usually shuts down the conversation.

Eucharistic Adoration - Reverse Momentum

Here's a good video which I found via Anna Arco who found it on Always Distinguish(ed)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Visions vademecum?

Petrus has reported that a directory will soon be issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith setting out procedures for the investigation of alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The story has been picked up by the Telegraph and the Indie but the best source to read is the article from Petrus or the English translation which can be found at this link: Benedict XVI to crack down on Alleged Apparitions.

The rumour has an important bearing on the question of Medjugorje and particularly on the relationship of the shrine to the local Ordinary who "some time ago requested the alleged visionaries to live a hidden life and not disclose any message attributed to the Madonna."

AIDS and public policy

Many thanks to a correspondent for links to these two godo articles on AIDS and public policy from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

AIDS and “Technical Solutions.” First Change Sexual Behavior by Matthew Hanley

AIDS and the Ideological Barrier. The Threat to “Sexual Liberation” by Douglas A. Sylva, Ph.D.

A quote from the article by Sylva:
AIDS is unique because, as a deadly pandemic spread mainly through promiscuous sexual activity, it threatens some of the most cherished modern norms concerning sexual liberation. So to promote the most obvious response to such a pandemic—do not engage in promiscuous sexual activity—would in essence be a capitulation, an admission that the dream of consequence-free sexual activity was not only impossible, but perhaps at least partly responsible for the scourge.
Hanley points out that the secondary risk-reduction strategies: use of condoms, voluntary counseling and testing, and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, have had far less impact than strategies that promote abstinence and fidelity. As he says:
It is thus difficult to avoid concluding that these interventions maintain their privileged status not because of empirically observed scientific excellence, but at least in part because of the desire of their proponents to advance their particular vision of the human person, freedom, and sexuality. To the extent that this has been the case, one might with reason suspect that much of the international response to AIDS has amounted to a fairly wholesale abdication of sound public health principles in favor of ideologically based advocacy.

Questioning 1962

Those who are familiar with the traditional liturgy will know, to a greater or lesser degree, that there were many changes introduced to the Liturgy before 1962 and particularly during the course of the twentieth century. Particularly during the 1950s and in 1961, major excisions were made in the breviary, Holy Week was radically revised and the calendar saw many changes.

The flagship of the Saint Lawrence Press is the Ordo Recitandi, following the calendar and the Roman Missal of the late 1930s. There is now also a St Lawrence Press blog which is a goldmine for details of pre-conciliar revisions to the calendar.

Second Spring Community - and forum

Second Spring, a journal of faith and culture, edited by Stratford Caldecott, aims to return to the sources of our faith and to promote the evangelisation of our culture.

Recently, the Second Spring Community section of the website has been updated and there is a new interactive forum, especially for young people, called "Questioning Faith". Why not sign up over there and join in?

Monday, 12 January 2009

"Be proud of your faith" - Family and Youth Day at Blackfen

There will be a Family and Youth Day at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Blackfen, on Saturday 21st March.

In the morning, we have our usual programme: Low Mass, (usus antiquior) at 10.30am, followed by Confession, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at midday.

After Benediction, there will be an address by Margaret Mizen, mother of Jimmy Mizen who was killed in May 2008. Barry and Margaret, Jimmy's parents, showed a tremendous example of faith and peace-filled courage when speaking to the media after the tragic death of their son and it is a great privilege to have Margaret come to speak to us.

(See this video on Hopeinfo.co.uk - "At the funeral I urged all the young people 'Be proud of your faith'"; "The only thing that's going to come out of this is a peaceful response.")

A light lunch will be provided in the Hall and in the afternoon, there will be various talks and activities for children and young people as well as a talk on parenting by Greg Clovis. We will finish with prayers at 3.30pm followed by tea, juice and biscuits.

Our usual Saturday schedule continues with confessions at 5pm and a Mass in English at 6pm.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

New Bishop for Hexham and Newcastle

Canon Seamus Cunningham (66), currently Administrator of the Diocese of of Hexham and Newcastle was yesterday Bishop. His consecration will be on Friday 20th March 2009 at 12noon, the feast of St Cuthbert, patron of the Diocese.

Here is the announcement at the Bishops' Conference website.

And here is an account of the press conference held yesterday.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Stirring stories for a packed Church

John Pridmore came to Blackfen this evening and spoke powerfully about his conversion from a life in which he had everything in worldly terms but was empty spiritually, to a life in which he found the love and forgiveness of our Blessed Lord.

Here is a short video of John giving an outline of his story:



We heard a fuller version of this journey of faith this evening, as well as a number of other inspiring stories illustrating aspects of the Catholic faith and life with a strong emphasis on the importance of a living and personal relationship with our Lord. We heard about Bl Mother Theresa, about the importance of the Blessed Sacrament, the power of the Sacrament of Confession, the importance of the teaching of the Church, the emptiness of the glamour promised by sin, to give just a few examples.

After John, eighteen year old Will spoke about his own life and conversion, the emptiness that he had known through crime and drug-taking, and the happiness that he found in knowing Christ and being baptised into the Catholic Church.

John now belongs to the St Patrick's Community in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Leitrim, Ireland. The Community gives parish missions, and school and confirmation retreats. John has his own blog: From Gangland to Promised Land

I was delighted that the Church was full, with many young people coming along for an inspiring evening. John spent a long time afterwards talking to youngsters and encouraging them in the faith. People were able to buy copies of his great books "From Gangland to Promised Land" and "A Gangster's Guide to God".

Fr Richard John Neuhaus RIP

Fr Richard John Neuhaus, a faithful priest and hugely influential writer founded the journal First Things. His monthly essay "The Public Square" was always highly regarded and widely read. (He also featured in the "Notes from across the Atlantic" section for Faith Magazine.) He was a great apostle in the pro-life cause and an enthusiastic supporter of the papacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr Neuhaus (72) died yesterday, 8 January 2009, from the side effects of the cancer he was suffering. He received the last rites of the Church from his long time friend Fr George Rutler. Shortly after he died, First Things re-posted Fr Neuhaus' February 2000 article Born Toward Dying.

Tributes to him listed at First Things include those received from the White House, and major US dailies as well as Catholic sources. John Allen has a good piece in the National Catholic Reporter as does Michael Novak (A second brother dies).

Here is the notice from First Things concerning the Funeral arrangements:
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated for Father Richard John Neuhaus at the Church of the Immaculate Conception—414 E. 14th Street, New York City—on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 10 a.m.

Bishops and priests who wish to attend are asked please to inform Nathaniel Peters (by e-mail or phone 212-627-2288) by Sunday afternoon, January 11, at the latest.

A Christian wake service in the form of a Vigil for the Deceased will be celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Monday evening, January 12, at 7:30 p.m. Clergy who plan to attend are asked to sit with the congregation.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for Fr. Neuhaus’ work, the Institute on Religion and Public Life, online at this page or by mail to:

Institute on Religion and Public Life
156 Fifth Avenue
Suite 400
New York, NY 10010
Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Signs of the times (cont.)

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is a traditional monastic community of women. Founded first of all under the wing of the FSSP in Scranton Pennsylvania, they are now located in the diocese of Kansas City.

The Most Rev Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City invited the sisters to come to his diocese and has offered firm support and protection of their charism and their use of the traditional liturgy. He erected the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus as an official novitiate in accord with Canon Law and ratified the superior, Mother Therese's profession of monastic vows on 18 May last year so that she could receive the vows of eleven other sisters the following day. At the moment, the community is in a temporary home and they are hoping to build a permanent monastery.

Last Tuesday, one of the novices made her first profession of vows and four postulants were clothed as novices. The photograph above is from the Kansas Catholic blog which has two posts on the ceremony: Benedictines of Mary Queen, of Apostles (Part I) which has a one more photo, and Benedictines of Mary Queen, of Apostles (Part II) which has a lot more.

Here, the young sisters are cutting the cake prepared to celebrate this wonderful occasion:

H/T Fr Z.
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