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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Fr Andrew Wadsworth to ICEL

Fr Andrew Wadsworth has been appointed by the Holy See as General Secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and Executive Director of the ICEL Secretariat in Washington DC, to take up post from September 2009. This is very good news. Fr Wadsworth has taken a leading role in England in promoting the worthy celebration of the liturgy in both the usus recentior and the usus antiquior. With regard to the latter, he played a leading role in the two highly successful training conferences for clergy at Merton College, Oxford.

Fr Wadsworth (47) is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, ordained in 1990. He has Masters degrees in Italian and Theology, and is an accomplished musician. He has taught Latin, Greek and Italian as well as fulfilling various pastoral responsibilities, including parish work and hospital chaplaincy. He has most recently been Catholic Chaplain at Harrow School as well as teaching Italian there. As well has having good Latin and Greek, Fr Wadsworth speaks Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and some German.

Now that the new translation of the Missale Romanum is almost complete, ICEL will be moving on to new translation projects (for example, the texts for the other sacraments) and will continue to work in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam. It is good to know that Fr Wadsworth will be involved with this work.

Pro Life vigils and the police

The Helpers of God's Precious Infants regularly hold prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Recently there have been some instances of disproportionate attention from the police. Fortunately at Twickenham, this matter now seems to have been resolved satisfactorily with the Metropolitan Police agreeing that the vigils can continue without police attendance. (See: Victory for Pro-Life Abortion Campaigners facing Police suspension)

I take part in these vigils from time to time. What happens is that a group stands well away from the entrance and says fifteen decades of the Rosary and other prayers and perhaps hymns. Nearer the entrance a counsellor, or a small group of counsellors offer leaflets to those entering or leaving, or to passers by and are available to talk to people. The whole thing is quite peaceful and causes less obstruction than, for example, the people who give out free newspapers outside tube stations. In my experience, I have seen many people stop to talk and it is always a joyful thing if someone changes their mind as a result.

What happens to cause the police attention is that someone from the clinic rings the police to complain about a disturbance, or obstruction or whatever. The police then turn up and feel they have to do something. At the recent case at Twickenham, a car and a van arrived with sirens going, and threatened to arrest anyone who did not stop the counselling.

The Twickenham case seems to have been resolved now. The advice I have been given for others is to inform the police in advance of a vigil, saying exactly what you will be doing. Then if they receive a call, they have some information to go on in making a decision whether or not to attend. Of course, the letter from the Met concerning the Twickenham vigils can now be quoted as an example.

LMS Birmingham & Black Country blog

Matt Doyle has been made the assistant representative for the Latin Mass Society in Birmingham. He has started a blog for the LMS in Birmingham and the Black Country. Matt also runs a mailing list for those who want to get news of events so email him if you want to be put on the list.

Obviously one of the principal locations is the Birmingham Oratory which has a Low Mass every Sunday at 9.30am as well as the solemn sung Latin Mass at 10.30am in the newer form. On transferred Holydays, the Oratory usually has a sung Mass at 8pm on the proper day in the older calendar.

Nutritional advice from Mulier Fortis

After an exhaustive review of the research literature, Mulier Fortis has something to ponder regarding nutrition and health. The conclusion:
Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sort out the reformation for me, would you, Sir Humphrey

Last Friday saw the debate in the House of Commons on the "Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill" which would modify the 1701 Act of Settlement by allowing royal claimants to marry a Catholic without forfeiting their claim to the throne.

In fact, as Joseph has pointed out on Catholic Commentary, there are far more pressing cases of indirect discrimination against Catholics in Britain today (see: Real sources of anti-Catholic discrimination) but it is always amusing to read MPs attempting to pronounce on religious matters (- arguably at least as funny as reading priests or Bishops trying to pronounce on political or economic matters.)

Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice seemed rather to be winging it as regards the contents of the Bill since Evan Harris had to point out to him that it concerned those who are allowed to marry into the line of succession, not those who might actually inherit the throne - who would still need to be members of the Church of England.

Nevertheless, the Chancellor was exercised over the matter of intercommunion, saying:
It is still the case, for instance, that those who are in the Catholic Church are told that they are not in communion with the Anglican Church—although I have seen that. The reverse is also the case: according to the Catholic Church, it is not possible for me as an Anglican to take holy communion in a Catholic church. That would also need to be sorted out.
(Source: Hansard)
I am currently reading Fr Thurston's book "Surprising Mystics" in which he examines some extraordinary cases of clairvoyance, bilocation, levitation, and preternatural powers. I rather think that the learned Jesuit would classify a report of "seeing" someone to be simultaneously in communion with both the Catholic Church and the Church of England as one of those "hysterical" phenomena to be rejected by sober historians.

Be that as it may, the great problem of the English reformation must be close to a solution if the Lord Chancellor has decided that it needs to be "sorted out." Perhaps ARCIC could be given a new lease of life by being made a Royal Commission?

H/T My Heart was Restless

Well that's a relief!

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Petition supporting rights of parents in education

I have received a number of requests to publicise the petition in support of the rights of parents that I posted some weeks ago. I am pleased to see that the petition now has 2735 signatures. If you did not get round to signing it, may I encourage you to do so now.

(Remember that this is about the rights of parents - you do not have to be a parent to see the benefit to society when such rights are upheld.)

Sign the petition here.

(Deadline 3 April 2009. You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

Sunday, 29 March 2009

"There is a reason why Cardinals sport the colour of red..."

"... and it is not on account of their own dignity." - from the editorial of the March-April issue of Faith Magazine, all the content of which is now available (free) online. For a paper copy, here is the subscription page (there is a special offer on for new subscribers from the USA.)

The quotation above is from the editorial article Assault Upon the Sexes: Fostering the Papal Defence which looks at the Holy Father's comments on the question of gender, the Church's teaching on marriage and the male priesthood. There is also a meditation on Mary, Creation and the Church, and an appreciation of Fr Richard John Neuhaus RIP, as well as other articles of interest.

Here is the context of the quotation from the editorial:
Indeed, there has been little attempt even in Catholic circles to give a public and sustained support of Pope Benedict throughout these difficulties. The fact that even Bishops and Cardinals have not just criticised the Pope but have also kept silence, giving him little support, speaks volumes about those august bodies. Many have sat back and watched; others have made statements reaffirming the Church's commitment to working with the other religions and with the Jews; but few have stood up and robustly supported the Pope at a time when he needed them. In Gethsemane too the Apostles ran away and hid, or at best looked on, when the Lord was taken prisoner. We are all weak - but it is a weakness and their silence has not been a virtue. There is a reason why Cardinals sport the colour of red and it is not on account of their own dignity.
Just one quibble: many Catholic blogs have given "public and sustained support" to Pope Benedict. As the Holy Father himself says, we should "pay greater attention to that source of news." ;-)

Saturday, 28 March 2009

"full of the interplay of danger and promise"

Fr Selvester has a post today, "To blog or not to blog" in which he refers to a quotation given by Paul Zalonski at Communio in his post Presence in the blogosphere.

The quotation was from the address of Pope John Paul II to the participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in March 2002.

A little further on in this address, Pope John Paul referred to the internet and the text has a link to his message for the 36th World Communications Day, issued in January of 2002. the theme of that was "Internet: A New Forum for proclaiming the Gospel." I remember reading this back in 2002 and it is fascinating to revisit it.
The Internet is certainly a new “forum” understood in the ancient Roman sense of that public space where politics and business were transacted, where religious duties were fulfilled where much of the social life of the city took place, and where the best and the worst of human nature was on display. It was a crowded and bustling urban space, which both reflected the surrounding culture and created a culture of its own. This is no less true of cyberspace, which is as it were a new frontier opening up at the beginning of this new millennium. Like the new frontiers of other times, this one too is full of the interplay of danger and promise, and not without the sense of adventure which marked other great periods of change. For the Church the new world of cyberspace is a summons to the great adventure of using its potential to proclaim the Gospel message. This challenge is at the heart of what it means at the beginning of the millennium to follow the Lord's command to "put out into the deep”: Duc in altum! (Lk 5:4). (n.2)
Pope John Paul went on to speak of how the internet can be used to provide information and stir interest in the faith, and then to offer the follow-up that evangelisation requires.

He also gave some cautionary advice, saying for example:
Furthermore, the Internet radically redefines a person's psychological relationship to time and space. Attention is rivetted on what is tangible, useful, instantly available; the stimulus for deeper thought and reflection may be lacking. Yet human beings have a vital need for time and inner quiet to ponder and examine life and its mysteries, and to grow gradually into a mature dominion of themselves and of the world around them.
It is certainly true that the use of the internet should be disciplined so that it does not take time away from reflection and prayer - and indeed human contact.

I am not sure that I agree that the internet "offers extensive knowledge, but it does not teach values", that it is a forum in which "practically nothing is lasting" or that it "favours a relativistic way of thinking." Since 2002 there have been major developments in evangelisation through the internet, and it is now used all the more to teach values. People realise that "an email lasts for ever" and that information posted on the internet may be far more lasting than hitherto realised, and it has become a forum where those who oppose relativism may make their voice heard more effectively than before.

These developments may well lead in due course to attempts to regulate the internet by thought crime legislation, precisely because it is a forum in which absolute moral values may be taught outside the state-regulated relativism of the education system and the health service.

Retreat for Priests at Le Barroux

There are some places left on a Spiritual and Liturgical Retreat for priests, organised by the Society of St Catherine of Siena, to be held at the Abbey of Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, from 25th to 29th May 2009. The theme of the retreat will be ‘The Monastic Heart in the Everyday Life of a Priest’.

The foundation and growth of this Benedictine monastery has been one of the remarkable stories of faith arising in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The courage of its founder, Dom Gérard Calvet who died only last year, has been richly rewarded in the establishment of what is now an active and thriving community of young monks. Full details can be found on the monastery website.

Retreatants will share the life of the community, joining them for the glories of the traditional monastic office and Conventual Mass and taking meals with the monks in the monastic refectory. There will be a series of spiritual conferences which will include the insights of members of the monastic community. Priest retreatants will be able to celebrate private Masses each day using either form of the Roman Missal.

The retreat will run from Monday afternoon until lunch on Friday. those coming will need to be there in good time to settle in and be ready to begin the spiritual exercises with Vespers at 5.30pm.

Travel - Avignon by plane or Eurostar/TGV, and then by car or taxi via Carpentras to the village of Le Barroux. For those applying, fuller details can be given and the cars needed for the last leg of the journey can be organised.

The cost of the retreat is £300. An application form may be obtained from Susan Parsons.

From the SSCS:
The Society of St Catherine of Siena seeks to foster knowledge and understanding of the intellectual and liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church, and sponsors this retreat as a service to all priests. It is intended to integrate the love of the Roman liturgy into our daily spiritual life and pastoral mission through immersion in and reflection upon the character of the monastic heart.

Green (Harvard): "as a liberal, I say the Pope is right"

Recently, I mentioned an article by Kathryn Jean Lopez, referring to Edward C. Green, the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, who said that the Pope was right and that the best evidence that we have supports his comments. (See: Support for the Holy Father from Harvard.)

The Italian journal Il Sussidiario has interviewed Edward Green. Green says that as a social liberal it is hard for him to admit it, but the Pope is right. At one point, he says:
People began noticing years ago that the countries in Africa with the highest condom availability and highest condom user rates, also had the highest HIV infection rates. This does not prove a causal relation, but it should have made us look critically at our condom programs years ago.
His comments on "risk compensation" are important in understanding why it is that condom programmes have not reduced HIV infection rates.

Friday, 27 March 2009

HIV/AIDS "The Change Is On"

Have a look at this inspiring production "The Change Is On", an educational video produced in Africa and posted in several parts on YouTube. The video is in support of the programme "Education for Life. A Behaviour Change Process." It documents the response to HIV/AIDS in the diocese of Tzaneen, which has implemented a multi faceted and authentically Catholic response, rooted in the Gospel of Life. Here is part 6 as a sample:



I will give a couple of quotations that particularly struck me, the first one from Joanna Thabathi. Here we have a Director of Social Services (Mopani District, Limpopo Province) who encourages parents to take responsibility for educating their own children in intimate matters rather than leaving the task to others:
"Let us talk to our children. Let us not be afraid of our own children. Let us give them the respect and the guidance that they want; because they need to be guided, they need to be shown the way. Let us not wait for our neighbours to tell our children what to do and what not to do."
and then this rather stark point made by David Kalema:
"My friends who used to laugh at me thinking that abstinence is abnormal, most of them are dead by now."
H/T Auntie Joanna

Bishop O'Donoghue on proposed abortion TV advertising

Bishop O'Donoghue has issued an excellent statement on the news that the Advertising Standards Authority is considering allowing the abortion industry to advertise through the broadcasting media. As he says,
This deeply damaging proposal originates from the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health & HIV and therefore comes from the heart of the abortion industry – threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this country.
Read the full statement here.

Nursing Times article questions teenage pregnancy strategy

At the Lancaster Diocesan website I found a link to an article by David Paton in the current issue of The Nursing Times: Teenage pregnancy and access to contraception: what does the evidence show?

Paton refers to the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (TPS), launched in 1999. this has involved millions of pounds being spent on access to "confidential sexual health services" for young people. As he says,
"many nurses are uncomfortable with providing such services to children under 16, especially without parental knowledge, but do so believing that they are helping to reduce the risks of early pregnancy."
He continues
"Unfortunately, the latest data shows that pregnancy and abortion rates for under-sixteens are higher now than when the Strategy started."
Professor Paton is an economist at at the Nottingham University Business School and has published widely on the economics of teenage pregnancy. As well as drawing attention to the empirical evidence, he suggests reasons for the observed results of the TPS:
When policy interventions have unexpected impacts which subvert the aim of the policy, economists often refer to the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’. In this case, by lowering the pregnancy risk, easier access to birth control may encourage more young people to engage in sexual activity. If so, numbers of pregnancies decrease amongst those who would have had sex anyway, but increase amongst those who have sex when they otherwise would not have done. Overall, we end up with a similar number of pregnancies but with more underage youngsters being sexually active. Even worse, many birth control methods offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Indeed, research in the Sex Education journal suggests that increased access to EBC may be associated with higher teenage STI rates.
He points out that although current guidelines permit nurses to provide teenagers with access to abortion and contraception without the knowledge of their parents they do not require nurses to do so. He concludes:
Further, all health professionals (and indeed taxpayers) should question the wisdom of PCTs spending scarce resources on measures such as school-based provision of EBC that, at best, are ineffective and, at worst, may actually be contributing to poor sexual health amongst teenagers.
It is very heartening to see such sound common sense offered in a leading journal for nurses.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Ireland win - Pope safe

Sir Dan of the Blogosphere often leaves messages on my answering machine with useful snippets that he has picked up on his patrols. Last week, he was trying to persuade me that I should post something about Ireland's first Grand Slam triumph since 1948. Frankly, I saw little relevance to the hermeneutic of continuity.

Today, however, Paulinus of In Hoc Signo Vinces has provided an angle that makes it highly relevant. He refers to a Christmas 2008 (externally peer-reviewed) article in the British Medical Journal co-authored by Gareth C Payne, specialist registrar in clinical neurophysiology, Rebecca E Payne, general practitioner, and Daniel M Farewell, MRC/WAG training fellow in health services research/health of the public, entitled Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried? Here is the abstract of the article:
Objective To explore the perceived wisdom that papal mortality is related to the success of the Welsh rugby union team.
Design Retrospective observational study of historical Vatican and sporting data.

Main outcome measure Papal deaths between 1883 and the present day.

Results There is no evidence of a link between papal deaths and any home nation grand slams (when one nation succeeds in beating all other competing teams in every match). There was, however, weak statistical evidence to support an association between Welsh performance and the number of papal deaths.

Conclusion Given the dominant Welsh performances of 2008, the Vatican medical team should take special care of the pontiff this Christmas.
Well God bless the Irish, then!

Of course, students among you will want to work in a reference to this in a term paper. Citation should be: BMJ 2008;337:a2768. (But check your own university's citation guidelines.)

People we couldn't do without

Yesterday, after the morning Mass, I had to see various people as usual about Baptisms, Mass cards, routine maintenance, lost property and so on. When this had finished, I went through the Hall and had a chat with the ladies who keep everything in the Church clean, starched, pressed, mended, polished and spotless. Hilda, the "capo d'ufficio" said to me with her no-nonsense Lancastrian bluntness, "This is something that should be on your blog."

She's right, you know! In anticipation of Passiontide, the veils for the statues were being ironed and adjusted as necessary in a veritable factory operation:

It has been quite a busy week or two. First St Patrick had to be taken down for veneration:

then St Joseph had to be given that little bit of extra attention:

and then Our Lady had to be then dressed for the Feast of the Annunciation. The above two photos were taken by Dick who recently checked all the kneelers in the Church and mended and re-covered those that needed attention. I don't have a photo of the statue of Our Lady from yesterday so here is one from a previous occasion:

All that and then tea after evening Mass! These are people you really couldn't do without.

Mass yesterday evening

At last night's Mass of the Annunciation, we welcomed the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate who sang the chants from the Gradual, the Missa cum Iubilo, and motets at the Offertory and Communion.

Mulier Fortis has posted some photos at her post Feast of the Annunciation. In this one, she has switched on the "starburst" option or something but the effect is quite good:

Then she has a photo of some of the "cold-hearted, spirit-quenching agents of global horror" gathered in the Hall afterwards. It is such a joy to have the sisters here to visit. Young people in England today rarely see religious women in habits, and the sisters are always delighted to talk to them about the faith.

Hilda and Mary had suggested putting on tea after the Mass and I readily agreed. As ever, the "tea" included various cakes, home made scones, and sweets for the children who came out late for a long Mass.

Video of Alasdair MacIntyre lecture

Thanks to Berenike of Laodicea for send a link to this page with a fascinating video of the lecture given by Alasdair MacIntyre at University College Dublin on the occasion of his being made an honorary Doctor of Letters by University College Dublin on 10 March.

The citation given by Professor Fran O'Rourke included reference to what has been called MacIntyre's philosophical nomadism:
"MacIntyre’s enquiry has led him to visit various schools of thought, framing different periods of his career: analytic, Marxist, Christian, atheist, Aristotelian, Augustinian Christian, and Thomist."
MacIntyre's most famous book "After Virtue" was written shortly after he was received into the Catholic Church. He has given a powerful and rational voice for virtue ethics and it is good both to see him honoured and to be able to hear his lecture.

More Cato

I was hesitant about posting this since it strays into political territory and I am conscious of the importance of being free of party political allegiance here. However, a video clip of Daniel Hannan, a Member of the European Parliament for South East England, giving a speech at the European Parliament, has been speeding round the internet (especially thanks to Gerald Warner's Telegraph blog "Is it just me?")

The clip in question is an attack on Gordon Brown so I won't embed it but if you want to see it, I will give the link since it is a fine example of modern British political oratory and worthy of consideration for that reason alone.

Browsing YouTube, I found another speech from Daniel Hannan regarding the Lisbon Treaty. Again, I cannot take a position on his political views but I was delighted to hear another speaker alluding to Cato (near the end of this speech.)



"We should have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; Pactio Olisipiensis censenda est."

Family Life International Conference 9 May

Family Life International are holding a conference at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Saturday 9 May with a good line-up of speakers including Bishop O'Donoghue and Raymond de Souza. Individual tickets £10; Family tickets £15.

A nice touch is that a play area will be available where parents can both supervise their children and hear the conference speakers. There will also be a large selection of relevant literature and other resources.

The FLI website has further information. Space is limited so pre-registration is recommended.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Exsultet masterclass

Jeffrey Tucker at NLM points out that at this time of year, everyone starts looking for an Exsultet download and so offers links to
If you are planning to sing it in Latin and would like a "masterclass" example, here is a video of Fr Guy Nicholls singing the Exsultet at the Birmingham Oratory last year:

Feast of the Annunciation



Prayers and good wishes to you all on the Feast of the Annunciation. On this feast day, I am always reminded of the parish Church I belonged to for the first 18 years of my life at Addiscombe. The new Church was built in 1964 and I have some childhood memories of the old Church and the High Mass which was the one my family used to go to. I was ordained at Addiscombe on 28 July 1984 and so this year is my silver jubilee. (Details of the celebration to follow soon.)

Today at Blackfen, we have our English Mass in the morning at 10am and a Missa Cantata in the evening at 7.30pm. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are coming to sing for us.

Talks by Lord Alton and Dawn Eden

Robert Colquhoun at Love Undefiled has recently posted two interesting talks, each about an hour long, so good for downloading to listen to on car journeys.

There is Lord Alton on Deus Caritas Est and Dawn Eden on Cutting to the Chaste.

Petition in support of Pope Benedict

From Human Life International
Dear Holy Father,

Please accept our heartfelt love and admiration for your prophetic and courageous proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in season and out of season. We are in deep solidarity with you against the terrible distortions and attacks by condom-promoters in the press and, even more shamefully, in governments.

The Vicar of Christ will always be a sign of contradiction to those blinded by ideology. Your words of compassion and common sense are to be praised highly. Thank you for your witness of hope and love to a world that is increasingly hostile to the truth, especially if it calls into question the foundations of the "Sexual Revolution."

With gratitude,
Sign the petition here.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Fr Mildew (and spirit-quenching global horror)

Fr Mildew was one of my teachers for a while at the John Fisher School in Purley and so I was interested in his reminiscences of his time there. Fr Clifton (to give him his real name) celebrates his golden jubilee this year and has been writing several posts on "My life from a religious perspective." The post on his time at Wonersh gives some details of life at the seminary in the 1950s.

He also has chunks from a letter published in this week's Tablet. Let me give you a flavour:
The ongoing revision of the ordinary rite, and the introduction of the extraordinary rite, together represent the same process of the surrender of the liturgy to the reactionary, spirit-quenching, traditionalist minority; and the surrender of the entire Church runs in parallel, making a mockery of the life of the Church before both God and the world.
It gets better:
There was a great move of the Spirit in the Church in Council in our time just over 40 years ago. I weep for its cold-hearted rejection now, and the horrific global consequences that will follow if they are allowed to continue.
(Come, come, Sir! Don't be so reticent; speak your mind!)

But don't allow letters like that to distract you from the conviction that it is the terrible Catholic blogs that are full of nasty vindictive comments, not the nice, urbane and courteous liberal catholic press.

At our next visit to the Robin Hood and Little John, I must remember to interrupt discussion of the latest results in the Minor Counties Cricket Association, and the merits of the Nethergate Brewery's "Old Growler" to propose a toast for all my fellow cold-hearted, spirit-quenching agents of global horror.

ceterum autem censeo
tabulam esse delendam

NCBC piece on the Pope and condoms

The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia has a good piece on The Pope and Condoms by Matthew Hanley.
An exhaustive review of the impact of condom promotion on actual HIV transmission in the developing world concluded that condoms have not been responsible for turning around any of the severe African epidemics. This rigorous study was originally commissioned by UNAIDS, and conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. Instead of welcoming the findings, and adapting HIV prevention strategies accordingly, UNAIDS first tried to alter the findings, and ultimately refused to publish them. The findings were so threatening to UNAIDS that the researchers were finally forced to publish them on their own in another, peer-reviewed journal.
The report referred to was published by Norman Hearst and Sanny Chen in "Studies in Family Planning" for March 2004. The website of the journal has an abstract of the article. For further discussion, see UNAids and myth of condoms efficacy against Aids in the East African. This refers to another article of interest: "AIDS and the irrational" by Helen Epstein in the BMJ for November 2008. The article by

The National Catholic Bioethics Center will be publishing Matthew Hanley’s book, with Jokin de Irala, M.D., “Avoiding AIDS, Affirming Love: What the West Can Learn from Africa,” this Summer. That should be well worth looking out for.

Fr Durham travelling

The website for the Finnish Apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter has announced that Father Benjamin Durham FSSP will visit Sweden, Finland, and Estonia during Passion Week leading to Palm Sunday. He is celebrating Mass, leading the Stations of the Cross and giving a one day retreat. Here is a link to the schedule.

The photo shows Fr Durham saying Mass in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of St Henry's Cathedral, Helsinki, on his last visit. I said Mass myself there a year ago and very much enjoyed meeting people and seeing Helsinki.

Linacre Ethics Forum - Prenatal Testing

Linacre Ethics Forum Presents a chance for junior healthcare professionals and students (medics, nurses, pharmacists and those interested inethics are welcome!) to explore and discuss Catholic healthcare ethics:

Prenatal Testing
Dr Helen Watt

Tuesday 31st March - 6.30pm for 7

The Forum is held at Vaughan House, SW1P 1QN (Just behind Westminster Cathedral) 

Kindly supported by the Department of Pastoral Affairs, Diocese of Westminster.

A demonstration of abstinence

catholic.pages is a good website that I have not visited in a while. Thanks to a reader for pointing me there today. in the "smile" section, I found this story: School Sex Ed which makes a serious point about abstinence in an amusing way.

Parents among you will especially enjoy this light hearted treatment of rules for toddlers: Old Testament Parenting by Ian Frazier. Here is a sample from the Laws Pertaining to Dessert:
But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert.

But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday was celebrated with solemnity in my parish today. At both usus recentior and usus antiquior Masses, we used the new set of rose vestments made by Luzar Vestments and paid for by donations from around the world thanks to blog appeals by Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) and Fr John Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say) together with donations from parishioners and friends locally.

At our usus antiquior Mass, Dr Laurence Hemming (author of "Worship as a Revelation") was deacon and Rev John Harrison subdeacon. We had enough altar servers to field six torchbearers and a full congregation gave a model example of "full, active, conscious participation" throughout.

As ever, the bulk of the congregation was composed of parishioners and their families. Today we also had a few extra visitors who travelled to Blackfen specially.

As I have mentioned before, at the celebration of High Mass, I am very conscious of the subordination of myself as priest to the mysteries that are celebrated. It is emphatically not about "me". The formal gestures of reverence and assistance given by the Deacon and Subdeacon are so obviously meant as reverence for Christ in his mysteries that it would be a ludicrous misunderstanding to see them as directed to the priest himself.

The quintessential form of the Classical Roman Rite is the Pontifical High Mass. The High Mass with the parish priest as celebrant is the nearest that we can normally approach this form. Fr Faber was right to describe it as "the most beautiful thing this side of heaven" .

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Family Day with Margaret Mizen

Mrs Margaret Mizen visited the parish of Blackfen today. Margaret's son, Jimmy, was killed last May. (See Jimmy Mizen RIP) Margaret and her husband Barry have given outstanding witness to their faith, choosing to use the interest of the media in the death of their son as an opportunity to speak about their faith and love of God. It is a particularly difficult time for them at the moment because the trial is in progress of the man accused of their son's murder. Please remember Margaret, Barry and their family especially during the coming week. I'll be singing the Mass at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane on Monday and will offer it for their intentions.

Margaret's talk left many of us in tears and was a magnificent start to our "Faith, Family and Future" day in the parish.

It was one of those gloriously relaxed and slightly chaotic days, blessed with great weather.

We managed to use all our available space today. Daphne McLeod spoke to the Grandparents in the sacristy; Greg Clovis of Family Life International spoke to the parents in the Large Hall, Bro Michael OFM Cap spoke to the children in the Small Hall, and I spoke to the teenagers in the Church. I talked about "Eternal Rome" with slides of St Peters, the Holy Father and various Churches, giving a little history and catechesis on the papacy. Afterwards, we went into the sunshine for some amateur film-making. (The YouTube video will be up shortly.)

In between times, there were things like beefburgers, tea, impromptu rugby, volleyball, toddling around trying to eat anything colourful, chatting about the state of the Church, taking it in turns to hold various babies, giggling, and painting the working sacristy - activities varying roughly according to age and ability.

At the end of the day, we said the Rosary, I preached a little ferverino, and then blessed the children using the blessing from the Pocket Ritual. The devil hates these days but Our Lady loves them and protects them. Try one in your parish!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Support for the Holy Father from Harvard

National Review Online carries and article by Kathryn Jean Lopez: From Saint Peter’s Square to Harvard Square which has the subtitle "Media coverage of papal comments on AIDS in Africa is March madness."

Lopez quotes Edward C. Green, the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Green said that the Pope was right and that the best evidence that we have supports his comments because condoms have not proved effective. Greater availability and use of condoms leads to higher, not lower HIV-infection rates. He explains:
This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”
Or, as we might put it simply, the promotion of condoms leads to promiscuity. Green also said,
I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates

Urgent: Suicide amendment Monday

Pasted from SPUC:
URGENT Suicide amendment Monday, contact your MP now

Please telephone and/or email your MP and urge him/her to oppose a pro-suicide amendment tabled yesterday by Patricia Hewitt (former health minister) to the Coroners & Justice Bill. 

The amendment (which is a new clause in the bill) will be debated on Monday afternoon (23 March) if selected by the Speaker. The amendment's effect would be to make it lawful to help anyone travel to a country where so-called assisted dying is legal so that they can commit suicide. Although this amendment is primarily aimed at those who are disabled or chronically ill, it applies to anyone who may be suicidal - old, young, depressed, in debt, disabled, etc. It will make all those who may be suicidal easy prey to unscrupulous people. Ask MPs to oppose and vote against the amendment.

MPs can be contacted by email via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps 
and/or by telephone through the House of Commons switchboard number 020 7219 3000.

Please tell your friends and pro-life contacts. Please ask clergy to encourage their congregations to telephone their MPs urgently.

For further information contact SPUC by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by telephone on 020 7820 3129.

"The panel jeered when I said euthanasia"

A correspondent has sent me a link to this excellent 1978 piece by Malcolm Muggeridge on Humanae Vitae. At that time, Mugg had not yet become a Catholic but he was a seasoned media operator and understood how the MSM (then the only medium) slanted coverage of Pope Paul's landmark encyclical.

The great Mugg's description of the panel is amusing:
The people who are assembled for these discussions or panels on the BBC fall, usually, into various categories which are invariable: you generally have a sociologist from Leeds; you also have a life-purist usually with a mustache; you also have a knockabout clergyman of no particular denomination and enormous muttonchop whiskers; and you have, I regret to say, also, usually, a rather dubious father
He describes how he mentioned that contraception would not stop with limiting families but would lead to abortion and euthanasia.
And I remember that the panel jeered when I said particularly the last, euthanasia. But it was quite obvious that this would be so.

Auntie Joanna ambushed - comes out fighting

It might seem that when ambushed, you should run for cover, conceal yourself, get out of danger. McAleese's "Fighting Manual" realistically points out that when the enemy has put out a deliberate ambush, he has chosen the ground and set up his weapons. You don't have the luxury of choosing cover. As he says, the only realistic response is to come out fighting with aggression and determination:
"It's got to be "enemy left!" and straight in - as quick as that. If you start thinking 'Well, they could have a machine gun here ... should I, shouldn't I, could I, couldn't I, you're dead."
Mutatis mutandis, this applies to an ambush by the presenter on live TV. Joanna Bogle was ambushed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 the other day and came out fighting. She didn't equivocate, apologise, wonder whether it might be right to use a condom to save a life, or try to hide under cover of "possible theological opinions."

From the luxury of watching a rerun of the clip, we could all give advice on a phrase here, or a gesture there. But this was a sophisticated attack on the Catholic Church using the now customary tactic of having a nominal opponent while the presenter is the (much more experienced) real opponent. By aggressively getting in some points of truth and common sense, Joanna may have helped some viewers to see that there is in fact another side to this argument and that it is not just "blind dogma" or prejudice but a question of facts - what works and what does not work in saving the lives of thousands of people. Had she done anything else, she would have been publicly kebabed or simply betrayed the truth.

Have a look at the clip. And before you jump in to give advice, ask yourself whether you would have actually responded better in the heat of the moment to the outrageous assertion that Pope Benedict has "condemned many Africans to death."



H/T Patrick Madrid

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Central London Catholic Chaplaincy

Last night I was at 111 Gower Street: Newman House which is the Central Catholic Chaplaincy Centre for London Universities. (Newman House also has its own blog.) The chaplaincy invited me to speak about the principles of Catholic Moral Theology as part of their Faith Formation course. Obviously a massive topic, I tried to bring it down to manageable size by following the outline of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fathers Peter Wilson and Brian Creak were most welcoming as was Chris Castell, the pastoral associate who contacted me to come. There was a very good discussion afterwards - courteous and intellectually challenging.

The group of students was cosmopolitan and many languages were bandied around the room in conversation beforehand. The chaplaincy is obviously thriving with an impressive programme of events. After the talk, Fr Wilson led Compline in the chapel. As well as arranging Mass once a year in the usus antiquior, he introduces the students to the use of Latin in the newer form of both the office and Mass so we ended Compline with the Ave Regina Caelorum.

Faith Priests' Day at Dorking

Fr Dominic Rolls, parish priest of St Joseph's Dorking, hosted a day for Faith Priests in his parish today, providing us with a good lunch and a most informative reflection on the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.

Corinth was put to "fire and the sword" in 146 BC by Lucius Mummius but then refounded in 44 BC by Julius Caesar who was conscious of the strategic importance of its location. Populated by freedmen of Rome, Corinth was very much a "new city", despised by the Patricians and noted for its wealth and immorality. St Paul stayed in the city for a year and a half, trying to persuade the Jews that Jesus was the Christ until, tired of the "gainsaying and blaspheming", he turned to the Gentiles. His first letter offers fatherly admonishment and correction with the desire of bringing unity to the Christian community there.

On a table in the presbytery, there is a fine statue of St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. It looks as though he is ready to preach on Laetare Sunday.

There was an unwelcome visitor dressed in clericals but betraying herself by wearing obviously false glasses and forgetting to leave her handbag and bright red bonnet at home. Fearing that she might be a spy, we persuaded her that it was a day of "centering prayer" and that she needed to stand in the natural wood shelter outside, contemplating man's wounding of the environment while we sneaked into the presbytery to discuss St Paul.

A Pope with nerves of steel

Yet again, the Holy Father has become the object of worldwide media outrage. Replying to questions from journalists during his flight to Cameroon, the Holy Father's answer was asked about the Catholic Church's approach to HIV/AIDS, "considered by some as unrealistic and ineffective." The Vatican Information Service gives his reply as follows:
"It is my belief believe that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is in fact the Catholic Church and her institutions. ... The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanisation of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with the suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to stand by those who suffer."
Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) and Thomas Peters (American Papist) have called attention to what might have been an attempt to soften the Holy Father's words in the "official" account. As they point out with justified exasperation, you just can't do that. For such a high profile press event, there will be shorthand transcripts and video files just waiting to be put out to prove just exactly what he did say.

Perhaps the most determinedly anti-papal newspaper on this issue has been the Times which ran four pieces yesterday attacking the Holy Father, saying, for example "The Pope's statement about condoms is a threat to public health"; "when the ultra-conservative head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was elected Pope all hopes of change vanished."; "The Vatican, in pursuit of its myopic obsession and desire to control sexuality", and headlining a "news" article "Pope’s attack on condoms sickens Aids campaigners." there is some good comment on this onslaught by Diogenes (Off the Record). Diogenes also has a satirical piece urging African wife-beaters to don leather bag-mitts as a risk-reduction measure.

I think the point is well made. Nobody believes that condoms are 100% safe. When the question is asked of an individual case "Would it be right to use a condom to prevent death?" One could reply that it would certainly be right, for example, to inflate a condom in an effort to save someone's life by helping them to stay afloat after being shipwrecked. But shipwreck is not normally a voluntary activity. If there is an outbreak of compulsive shipwrecking and someone said that the shipwreckers should be taught to stay away from ships, you would not accuse them of endangering lives because they did not consider it wise to encourage them to carry inflatables with them when puncturing the hull.

Sexual activity is something that we can choose to do or not. If engaging in sexual relations with one's wife, friend, partner or a casual stranger carries a significant risk of killing them, it is not an answer to say that we should reduce the risk of that happening by using a condom when the risk can be eliminated by not engaging in sexual relations.

The argument about HIV/AIDS and condoms is not about microscopic pores in the condom. The fact is that in countries that have relied on promoting abstinence and faithfulness, there has been a measurable decrease in the incidence of HIV/AIDS; in countries which have relied on promoting condom use there has been an increase. There are probably various factors involved but if anyone is threatening public health it is not the Pope.

One good piece in the press yesterday was Anthony McCarthy's article in the Telegraph:The Pope's critics are in the grip of dogma.
My own page on AIDS, Condoms and the Catholic Church has links to various articles as well as to my own paper on the subject. I am glad to report also that the Bishops Conference of England and Wales has a page on Pope Benedict in Cameroon and Angola with some useful links on the question.

Were he a politician, I am sure that the Holy Father would have been advised to keep quiet about AIDS and condoms, to evade the question or simply to emphasise the positive work that the Church does, such as that one of every four AIDS patients in the world is treated in a Catholic centre. In the spirit of martyrdom, the successor of St Peter chose not to take the easy path but to speak the truth boldly. At a time when he has been recently subjected to sustained assaults in the world's media, his courage and determination are an inspiring example of genuine love for the suffering.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

For God and St Patrick

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St Patrick with two Masses in the parish. My sacristan, Hilda, arranged a devotional display of our statue of St Patrick with some shamrock, candles and harps, together with a nice green cloth. After both Masses, we sang the hymn Hail Glorious St Patrick. Fr Guy Selvester posted the Wolfe Tones version which gives one interpretation. Another is that given by Frank Patterson which I have embedded below:



Neither version includes all the verses that we sang so here are the words. 43 years ago, Mrs Strawson taught us this hymn in infant school. She said that after each verse you had to reprise the last line, not "On Erin's green valleys" for each verse. So kudos to Frank Patterson for following this tradition.
Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, dear Saint of our isle!
On us thy poor children, bestow a sweet smile;
And now thou art high in the mansions above,
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.

Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, thy words were once strong
Against Satan's wiles and an infidel throng;
Not less in thy might now in heaven thou art
Oh, come to our aid, in our battle take part.

In the war against sin, in the fight for the faith,
Dear Saint, may thy children resist unto death;
May their strength be in meekness, in penance, and prayer,
Their banner the Cross, which they glory to bear.

Thy people, now exiles on many a shore,
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more:
And the fire thou hast kindled shall ever burn bright
Its warmth undiminished, undying its light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,
Where the shamrock still blooms as when thou went on earth,
And our hearts shall yet burn, wheresoever we roam,
For God and Saint Patrick and our native home.

More shouting in the piazza

I'm happy to post the good news that my good friend Fr Guy Selvester has decided to start blogging again after a few months of sabbatical from the blogosphere. His blog Shouts in the Piazza particularly focusses on ecclesiastical heraldry, on which he is an acknowledged expert.

This is a courageous choice of topic for a blog. If you want to swell your combox, try posting an opinion piece on some matter of ecclesiastical heraldry :-)

Fr Selvester is a parish priest and his blog will also carry items related to his pastoral ministry.

Great letter from Bishop Jarrett

I met Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett many years ago, before he was ordained co-adjutor Bishop of the diocese of Lismore, Australia in 2001 (he succeeded to the see later in the same year.) Bishop jarrett, who occasionally celebrates Mass according to the usus antiquior, has written an excellent letter to his clergy in response to the Holy Father's recent letter to the world's bishops concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I encourage you to read the whole letter but here is one quotation:
I believe that this moment has brought to the fore as no other in recent times a critical question: that of the understanding and interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Was it to be seen as a rupture with all that went before, so that nothing in the Church’s life and teaching was to be exempt from change, indeed a process of continual mutation to fit in with the perceived demands and approvals of contemporary thinking and behaviour? Or is the Council and the subsequent life of the Church to be understood in unbroken continuity with the Church of all ages, passing also through our particular ‘modern’ stage of her long journey through time towards her Lord, united as ever in one faith, one hope and one love, always one in her doctrine, her worship and her sacramental life? It is this question which the Holy Father, with all the affirmation of faith, seems to me to be helping us to understand.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Australian Bishops' sterling support for the Holy Father


A correspondent from Australia has sent me the excellent statement from Archbishop Wilson, the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, asking for prayers during Lent for the Holy Father. (See: Papal Letter prompts call for Lenten prayers for Church unity)

Archbishop Wilson said:
During this Lenten season of purification of heart and of turning back to God, I ask all Catholics to offer special prayers for the Holy Father, so that in this way we can support him in his enormously challenging ministry.
His statement shows a real desire for reconciliation in union with the intentions of the Holy Father:
I ask also for prayers for Church unity, that we too, can offer the hand of reconciliation to all our brothers and sisters, who might for one reason or another find themselves outside the Church’s loving embrace, but who have a genuine longing for Christ in their lives. It is in this way that hearts and minds can be changed.
See also comment in this post from Australia Incognita

Update on a recent photo

The other day, I posted a photo of Pontifical Mass. Christoper, the photographer has been in touch with a link. The photo was taken at the Solemn Rededication of Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City MO. Christopher's Lost Lambs blog has more photos from the consecration.

Monday, 16 March 2009

On blogs and blogmen

Recently, I have noticed an increase in sweeping and generalised criticism of Catholic blogs. Words such as "savage", "spiteful", and "vindictive" are used, sometimes by those who do not read blogs themselves, rather akin to the attitude related a couple of years ago by one of my girl altar servers who said "My mum's a bit frightened of the internet."

I suppose that we should get accustomed to being lumped together in the same way as the traditional media and blamed collectively for various ills. Nevertheless, the internet does provide us with the opportunity to overcome some of the constraints of the traditional media.

Hilliare Belloc's fascinating essay "The Free Press", written in 1918 complains of the "capitalist press" and its shortcomings and looks at the disadvantages face by the free press - particularly their suffering from a lack of information, and the economic pressure if they did not manage to generate enough advertising revenue.

The blogosphere largely overcomes these two inhibiting factors to the free press. Information is available as never before, and since most bloggers do not give up the day job, there is little financial constraint. As a result, some very fine writers can publish to a large audience, offering excellent content and opinion pieces free of charge, for the love of God. To take one justly celebrated example, look at the wealth of information, free music, intelligent discussion and responsible reporting that is provided at the New Liturgical Movement blog, gathering as it does a first-rate team of writers who take a responsible and mature attitude to internet publishing.

We should not be over-sensitive. If you write stuff on the internet, you will get nasty, vindictive etc. etc. comments from time to time. Most Catholic blogs are careful to screen these out as far as possible. Nor should we take ourselves too seriously - the cultural differences that exist mean that sometimes our humorous comments are misunderstood, but bloggers are generally speaking able to take a joke.

Nevertheless, I think it is worth making the point that there are many good Catholics out there blogging away in their pyjamas because they love the Church, they love the Holy Father and they want to help bring the message of Christ to others. If Catholic blogs are going to be discussed seriously, it is reasonable to note the generosity and service that is given by many writers who have no other motivation than to help bring in the Kingdom.

NLM on "hermeneutic of continuity"

After the Holy Father's comments today on avoiding "discontinuity", it is a good moment to draw your attention to this post on the NLM: Exploding a Myth: An Assertion About the "Hermeneutic of Continuity"

Holy Father proclaims "Year for Priests"

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, the Holy Father announced this morning that from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, there will be a special "Year of the Priesthood" with the theme "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of the priest".

On 19 June, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Pope Benedict will preside at Vespers in the presence of the relics of St John Vianney, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Belley-Ars and there will be a Worldwide Meeting of Priests in St Peter's Square.

During the year, the Holy Father will proclaim St John Vianney "Patron of all the priests of the world." There is also going to be a new "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors."

Speaking to members of the Congregation for the Clergy this morning, Pope Benedict said that awareness of the radical social changes of recent decades made it necessary for the "best ecclesial energies to be applied to the formation of candidates for the ministry.
"Mission has its roots in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance."
Italian text of the Holy Father's address.
English summary from Vatican Information Service.

Pontifical Mass photo

No particular reason for posting this other than that I thought it was a particularly fine photo of Pontifical Mass. It was taken at the Solemn Rededication of Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City MO. Christopher at Lost Lambs blog has more photos from the consecration.

H/T Ad Sanitatem Gentium

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Celtic Craic

This evening was one of those "busy parish priest" evenings. After the evening Mass, I met with a mother to arrange the baptism of her children, a couple who wanted to get married, and an elderly lady who needed a visit. Back then to the ranch, I called into the parish Social Club which had an anticipated celebration for the feast of St Patrick. (We'll also be celebrating on Tuesday with Mass and the hymn "Hail glorious St Patrick" - the Club will be open afterwards.)

We have an Irish Dancing Class in the parish and this evening they showed off their various dancing steps to great appreciation. The band was called "Celtic Craic" and they kept everyone entertained until late in the evening.

I took St Patrick as my Confirmation patron after reading a good CTS pamphlet on his life. The celebation of his feast day is always a source of joy for me.

Blessing of vestments

The servers who come on Saturday morning for Mass and Benediction had some fun today opening up the new rose vestments and putting them so that I could show you a photo. Above is the shot where the servers didn't quite manage to be solemn.

Mass was offered this morning for all the benefactors who have paid for these vestments in response to kind appeals by Damian Thompson on Holy Smoke and Fr Zuhlsdorf on What Does The Prayer Really Say. I will write to everyone who has contacted me but it will take me a little time. Thank you all very much indeed. Next Sunday's Mass will be a High Mass so I'll make sure there are some photos of the vestments in use. This morning, I blessed them.

ICEL and 'liturgical anger'

In South Africa, from the end of November last year, Mass was celebrated using the new ICEL translations despite the fact that they had not been authorised for use. The CDW has now ordered the Bishops' Conference to end the practice until the translations are fully approved for use.

The Southern Cross, a national Catholic weekly, has run many letters, blog posts and articles critical of the new translations. The popular line seems to be that they are a betrayal of Vatican II. Bishop Dowling agrees with the 'liturgical anger' and the view that there should not in any case be a standard text.
To me there is no cogent reason why the language which the People of God in any place use to express their faith and spirituality, and to celebrate the Eucharist, the sacraments and so on has to conform to a Latin text. People ask why — and rightly so. I am concerned that this latest decision from the Vatican may be interpreted as another example of what is perceived to be a systematic and well-managed dismantling of the vision, theology and ecclesiology of Vatican II during the past years.
I suppose we can expect similar reaction here and in the USA when the translations are brought into use. If a closer fidelity to the actual texts of the Missal brings about protest and anger, it shows that something has gone deeply and badly wrong with the celebration of Mass in the ordinary form.

Equally worrying is the widespread and continuing misinterpretation of Vatican II whereby even the attempt to have an accurate translation of the Roman Missal is seen as a dismantling of its "vision".

It seems that Pope Benedict has been exactly right both to insist on applying a hermeneutic of continuity to that Council, and to pursue a gradual but determined path of liturgical reform.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Mass for benefactors tomorrow

Many thanks to all of you who have sent in contributions for vestments for the Sacred Liturgy via Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog, and Fr Zuhlsdorf's "pound Fr Finigan" campaign on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?. Tomorrow morning's Mass (EF) will be offered for your intentions.

Unfortunately, the current centralised banking system in my diocese does not allow for internet access to the current transactions so I will have to ask for a printed statement to ascertain the total of donations received. There are also pledges of further donations so we will easily reach the total required to pay for a fine set of rose vestments to be used for Mass on Laetare Sunday.

I have now managed to secure sacred ministers for the EF Mass that Sunday, so we will be able to celebrate High Mass in the fullest expression of the Roman Liturgy in a normal parish setting.

Thank you all for your generosity and God bless you. We will be blessing the vestments tomorrow and the servers are looking forward to setting them out for Mass - in both forms of the Roman Rite.

The dangers of keeping up with the times



Romish Internet Graffiti has a good post warning of the dangers of chasing after ephemeral relevance: I owned a Pet Rock in the 70’s. He refers to my cautiously positive post about Knine and points out quite reasonably that the only difference between that and the video above is... the time period.

Yep. Let's stick with Gregorian chant and polyphony

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Bishop Fellay continues path of reconciliation

On the same day as the release of Pope Benedict's letter of clarification (see: Our humble, peaceful Holy Father), Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, has issued a communiqué which responds generously to the spirit of the Holy Father's letter, saying, for example:
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of January 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).
The ever-helpful Rorate Caeli blog carries the full text of the communiqué.
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