Sunday, 29 June 2008

Helsinki bishop to move to Lublin

One of the benefits of modern technology is that when you are out for lunch with a fellow priest, it is possible to have a quick look at the days "Bolletino" from the Vatican. Very often there is not much to write home about but on Saturday, I was surprised to see the announcement that Bishop Josef Wróbel of Helsinki was appointed as one of the assistant Bishops of the Diocese of Lublin.

The Finnish news service YLE news describes it as an "abrupt departure" and a "surprise move". This could just be journalese - most episcopal appointments are a bit of a surprise and happen abruptly. Nevertheless, I did find it intriguing that an Ordinary should be taking up post as an auxiliary Bishop - perhaps there is some special need in Lublin or perhaps Bishop Wrobel wishes to return to his alma mater.

My friends in Helsinki will no doubt be wondering who their new Bishop is going to be.

Eye lampoons "Me" morality

I did enjoy this one from this week's Private Eye:

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Classical Rite parish for Liverpool

Mark Greaves at the Catholic Herald has given a good write-up for the story on the first parish in Britain to be given over to celebrations of the Classical Roman Rite. (Cf Diocese to create first parish for traditional Mass)

Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool has appointed Fr Simon Henry to the Church of St Vincent in Liverpool's Toxteth. St Vincent's is an 1856 Pugin Church that has not been wreckovated. It has only 25-30 people attending Mass there each week. There is a Sunday afternoon Mass in Liverpool served by a rota of priests and attended by 40-50 people in a less accessible location. I wish Fr Henry every success in this new initiative which will put the traditional liturgy into the mainstream of the life of the diocese: a "treasure for the whole Church" as Cardinal Hoyos has said.

Heinz creates thunderous blowback

Not having a television, I get my news about the great service that our broadcasters are offering us from pro-life websites. Thus I find that Heinz has dropped a TV advert for its mayo because 200 people have complained about a gay kiss in the advert. (Cf. LifeSite news article)

The Pink Paper has picked up the story (Warning: this is a site that has stories such as '"Eco-dildo" a useful bulwark against oil price instability.') It refers to the key article by Ben Summerskill of Stonewall in the Guardian: Beanz meanz bigotz calling for a boycott of all Heinz products.

I thought that this story might be a gift for headline writers. Such is the nervousness over the whole issue, however, that the headlines are all very prim and proper. Lifesite's "Heinz in Pickle" and the Grauniad's "Heinz mayo ad too saucy" are about as far as people are prepared to go. Let's see if the bloggers can do better!

It seems to me that Ben Summerskill has missed the obvious irony of this whole affair. If I were writing for a gay paper, I would point out how ludicrous it is that one the one hand the Catholic adoption agencies are being compelled to choose between closure and the denial of their principles over the question of giving children to gay couples; and on the other hand, an advert featuring a gay kiss is withdrawn because children might be offended by it.

However, I'm not writing for a gay paper so can I point out how ludicrous... (etc. as above)

The gay boycott of Heinz products is an interesting challenge to the world of retailing. Having been caught in a cleft stick by putting on the silly advert, Heinz executives must be really shouting at some poor "creative" type who got them in this mess. They will know that there are far more family-friendly consumers to offend but will not want to lose custom from a vociferous minority. My guess is that retailers might want to steer clear of pitching explicitly for the pink pound - it is not worth the hassle.

Working against the tide

Can't work against the tide? You can if, like the Transalpine Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay, you take a JCB, a tractor with concrete mixer and do the job properly. More pictures at Filling a hole.

Friday, 27 June 2008

The wrong furniture

Gromit! I said get the 'oly Father a sofa from DFS, not fetch one of 'is own chairs from out t' cupboard.

H/T Fr Steven Fisher

America's loss is the Vatican's gain

Archbishop Raymond Burke has been appointed as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. His departure will be a great loss for the Diocese of St Louis but a great gain for the Vatican.

Archbishop Burke, who is 60 on Monday, was Bishop of La Crosse from 1995 until he was named as Archbishop of St Louis in 2003 to replace Archbishop Rigali. He has established oratories for those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass and has invited the Institute of Christ the King into his diocese. Last year, he ordained two of their priests in the traditional rite in the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis.

During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, he publicly stated that pro-abortion politicians should not receive Holy Communion (obviously intending to include John Kerry).

When questioned during another controversy about his firm and uncompromising defence the sanctity of life, he said:
"Is there something unusual about a bishop saying that it’s wrong to be in favor of procured abortion? I’m a Roman Catholic priest and bishop. What else would you expect me to say?"
The Vatican appointment was made with immediate affect at 12noon today and the Diocesan website for St Louis has been most efficiently updated.

It noteworthy that the front page of the website carries a news item and links concerning the "Decree of Extra-Judicial Adjudication in the Matter of Sr. Louise Lears, S.C." Upshot: Sr Louise assisted in attempted female ordinations, won't repent, so has been placed under interdict.

Archbishop Burke will very likely be created a Cardinal and will therefore participate in future conclaves. However, his being a Cardinal will mean more than that: he will be a major contributor to the formation of policy in various fields. I bet there are some very happy people in Rome today.

St Louis Catholic has a good report on today's appointment and understandably has mixed feelings. I have no doubt that he is right that there will be unrestrained glee among the sandalistas, "catholic" pro-aborts and womynpriests. Spare a prayer for the Diocese of St Louis to be granted another courageous and orthodox pastoral leader.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

"Reclaiming our Priestly Character"

I have just received a review copy of "Reclaiming our Priestly Character" by Fr David Toups. The book includes a historico-theological examination of the doctrine of Priestly Character, an analysis of post-conciliar confusion over the priesthood, and a positive presentation of six key principles in the foundation of priestly life

Fr Toups is a priest of the diocese of St Petersburg, Florida, ordained in 1997 and currently working with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops as the Associate Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

"Reclaiming Priestly Character" is based on his Doctoral thesis, completed in 2004 at the Angelicum in Rome. The footnotes are wisely left in the text, thus offering a source of further reading and, as Fr Toups says, "as a reminder that this work is not simply my own opinion or perspective."

This is an excellent book which I would recommend especially to priests and seminarians but also to laity who would be heartened by such a solid, balanced and doctrinally solid presentation of the priestly ministry and life with a frank assessment of some of the problems that have beset the priesthood in recent decades.

The book can be ordered directly from the Institute for Priestly Formation at $17.95 for the paperback and $25.95 for the hardback.

Communion at Papal Masses

Mgr Marini, the Master of Pontifical Ceremonies has given an interview to L'Osservatore Romano in which he has said that it will be a habitual practice at papal Masses for Holy Communion to be given on the tongue to the faithful kneeling down.

Fr Z has translated part of an interview and added his own comments. (Msgr. Guido Marini: Communion kneeling and on the tongue will be the standard for papal Masses)

In the same post, Fr Z has included the podcast of the sermon he preached here at Blackfen on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at a High Mass on the occasion of the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Classic Arinze

I just found this classic clip of Cardinal Arinze speaking about kneeling for communion (and after communion) on John Kearney's Catholic Rights blog.

"And those who want to receive on the tongue. You leave them in peace - and not in pieces."

Sacred music in its proper setting

The Lancaster Cathedral blog reports on the music at their monthly EF Mass celebrated last Saturday:
Il Suono, the a cappella group who sang a concert in the Cathedral last night, also sang at today's Mass. They sang the Mass of Pange Lingua by Josquin Desprez (1450-1521) and motets by Byrd. It is wonderful to hear this sacred music being performed in the context for which it was written.

SSPX update

Rorate Caeli has published the document asking five things of the SSPX: Decision 2008: The Conditions. Update: The actual Document

My own take on this is that it looks vague enough for the SSPX to continue its constructive critique of much that has gone wrong since Vatican II whilst being in a regular canonical situation.

I heartily second Fr Z's urgent request for prayers.

"Little Ratzinger" to head CDW?

There is a rumour about that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain is to succeed Cardinal Arinze as Prefect of the the Congregation for Divine Worship. (Cf. NLM: "The Little Ratzinger" to head CDW?)

For pictures of the Cardinal such as that above, you could look at the ICKSP site where there are photos of an ordination that he carried out.

The rumour was floated by the blog la cigüeña de la torre in its post Osoro y otros.

Inspiring talk to priests

Claire and Stuart McCullogh today gave an inspiring talk to clergy gathered for the conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life. Taking it in turns, they spoke about the origin of their work, their way of counselling women who have decided that they must have an abortion, about the reasons women want to have an abortion, and about what priests ought to be doing.

It was very helpful to hear from two people who are on the "front line" of pro-life work about what is actually going on when women seek abortion. They report that nearly all of their clients know that they are carrying a human life and that abortion will kill that life. They believe that abortion is wrong. Then there is the big "BUT". For various reasons, women feel that they simply cannot continue with this pregnancy now and that they must therefore, regrettably, go through with the abortion. The mission of the Good Counsel is to "mediate the mission of motherhood", to revive in the women that they see, that sense that they are called to be a mother. They have a quite remarkable success rate in their work.

One of the implications of their experience is that "proving" that the fetus is human is not the most important thing. Women know this but feel that in their case they have to make this choice. It is much more important to prevent the cause of abortion at its root, namely sex with no intention of having children.

The "reason" for abortion in most cases is "contraceptive failure". The majority of the women they see are using contraception, have assumed that it works, and that they will never have a child. It doesn't always work and the failure rate is cumulative so a great many partners who are contracepting will sooner or later be faced with an "unplanned pregnancy".

They also see a worrying and growing minority of younger women who are not using contraception but just have never linked having sex with having children. Most of their friends are having sex; they are not pregnant; therefore sex has nothing to do with children. This is a result of the "sex education" of our society, to confuse young women with the anti-life, contraceptive mentality message to the extent that they are not entirely clear about the facts of life. They do not realise that if you have sex, a likely result in a fertile young couple is that you will conceive a baby.

Therefore they encouraged the priests not to limit themselves to speaking about the evils of abortion, but to tackle the root cause which is sex before marriage and the use of contraception. Without tackling these issues, preaching about abortion will be limited in its effects.

In addressing post-abortion trauma, they pointed out that the very frequent assertion of the father of the child "I will support you whatever you decide" is in fact a form of subtle pressure to have an abortion. It equates to saying that it is the woman's decision, she will be responsible for it, and by implication, he will not be responsible for the consequences of her decision. This is a major contributing factor to women feeling that they have no effective choice but to end the life of their child.

A contributing factor to post-abortion trauma is silence from the Church. The common reluctance to preach on the matter because there are some women in the Church who have had abortions and it will hurt them is misguided and harmful. There is a crying need to acknowledge the grief of abortion - silence pushes this grief underground and prevents forgiveness and reconciliation.

Since, sadly, the rate of abortion among Catholic women is about the same as the rate in the general population, there is no question that there will be many women in our parishes who have had abortions. They need the grace of the sacrament of penance, the understanding of the Church and the clear and unambiguous commitment of their priests to preaching compassionately against this evil - and indeed the reaffirmation of the virtue of chastity for their own children.

One poignant story illustrated this well. A mother and a daughter had both had abortions. Their relationship suffered greatly as a result of their grief and trauma. They participated in a post-abortion retreat and became ardent advocates of the pro-life cause. Their relationship, though still difficult, improved. They asked their priest to post some pro-life information on the noticeboard. He talked to them kindly but folded up the poster and said "I can't put that up: there are some women in the parish who have had abortions."

I have only captured a few points of this excellent session. I hope to post some more of the very good advice we received today.

UPDATE: Fr John Boyle has posted a report as well and picked up on some other excellent points that were made.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Catholic Children's Society official statement

The Catholic Children's Society has published a statement indicating its intention to comply with the Equality Act 2006 and the Sexual Orientation Regulations. This involves accepting the requirement not to "discriminate" against same-sex couples when considering couples as adoptive parents.

The statement avoids the canonical implications of this decision. As an organisation it can no longer be considered Catholic. As I reported before, (Cabrini Children's Society and More on the "Cabrini Children's Society") the proposal is to change the name, removing the word "Catholic" and replacing it with "Cabrini".

But then there is the question of the money that the society holds which has been donated by the Catholic faithful in good faith, believing that they were donating money to a charity that would act in accordance with the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Should this money be transferred to the new non-Catholic charity? The Society states:
Non compliance with the law could also lead to withdrawal of funding by local authorities as we would not be adhering to their mandatory equality and diversity policies.
Compliance with the law will ensure that this large stream of revenue continues. So could the Catholic money be applied to Catholic purposes? As I have suggested before, the Good Counsel Network would be a worthy beneficiary applying the money for the purposes for which it was given.

For further comment, see Fr Steven Fisher: Cowardice in my own diocese and Fr John Boyle: Betrayal by the "Catholic" Childrens Society of Southwark and Mulier Fortis: Stand Up For The Truths Of Our Faith? Don't Be Silly...


OK, first of all the acronyms. CMF - the Christian Medical Fellowship which is doing sterling work in supporting the family and promoting the sanctity of human life. BMA - the British Medical Association, the UK based professional association for doctors. ARM - the Annual Representative Meeting of the BMA, its key policy-making meeting. This year's meeting will be from 7-10 July.

The CMF has a good page a motion from Evan Harris MP of the Oxford division, analysing the motion and Harris's overall strategy. (Cf. How MPs plan to liberalise the Abortion Law) The motion is number 528 (page 80) in the full agenda for the meeting (pdf 904kb).

This motion, to be considered on the Thursday morning (10 July), proposes a serious restriction upon pro-life doctors who conscientiously object to abortion. Harris wishes them to be forbidden to claim that they give "balanced advice" and to be forced to refer patients to doctors who will carry out abortions.

This is an example of the "dictatorship of relativism" at work. Doctors who are willing to kill unborn babies give balanced advice. Doctors who disagree with killing unborn babies give unbalanced advice.

Abortion on demand proposed

Dr Evan Harris and Chris McCafferty have given notice of two amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, proposing the Amendment of the 1967 Abortion Act.

The first clause of the Abortion Act begins:
1. — (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if [...]
This recognises that abortion is still an offence in the UK and can only be carried out legally if certain conditions are met. These are described in the current Abortion Act continues as follows:
[...] two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith—

(a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

(b) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or

(c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or

(d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
(Note that the 24 week limit does not apply in the case of (b), (c) or (d) so a child who might be "seriously handicapped" can be killed at any time up to birth.)

The proposed amendment would omit the text quoted above and insert:
a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith—

(a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the termination would be carried out in accordance with the conditions and principles of good medical practice, or

(b) that one or more of the following grounds applies—
[... (i) (ii) and (iii) as in (b), (c) and (d) of the existing text as above.]
You can basically forget about part (b) because doctors who carry out abortions will not need to use those criteria any more. All that will be necessary is for one doctor to agree that the abortion would be carried out according to established procedures (i.e. "conditions and principles of good medical practice").

This would effectively establish abortion on demand. There would be no requirement for any health or social reason, only the normal requirement of "informed consent" as there would be for any other procedure such as, say, having a facelift.

Another worrying consequence of this amendment would be the risk to pro-life doctors. If a doctor refused to carry out an abortion and did not refer the patient to a doctor who would do the abortion, there could be an action against him in the courts for damages. If these were assessed as including the cost of bringing up a child, the cost could be considerable.

(The second proposed amendment would have the effect of allowing nurses and midwives to carry out abortions. It is quite likely that this would be opposed strongly by the BMA in any case so it is the first of the amendments that is probably the most dangerous.)

It would be a good idea to write to your MP urging them to oppose any amendments to the HFE Bill that would have the effect of liberalising abortion. It is possible that if MPs receive a number of communications on this matter that even those who are not particularly pro-life would wish to avoid another debate on abortion. Politically speaking, it would be good if these amendments were not allowed any time since the pro-abortion majority in Parliament presents a real risk that they might be passed if they are given time in Parliament.

An easy way to contact your MP is by means of Write To Them.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Mass for deceased children

In the meantime, in my parish I celebrated Mass this evening for the children and young people of our parish who have died. We have had a number of tragic deaths and the parents never cease to amaze me with their fortitude and charity. Here is my sermon for this evening's Mass in which I tried to say something of use, God help me! I post it here in case it may be of help to any of you.
Lawrence Binyon’s poem for the fallen expressed the sorrow of a whole generation of mothers and fathers who sons died in the fields of Flanders, the Somme and other battlefields of the first World War. It struck me that his words probably reflect our feelings too as we remember the children and young people of our parish who have died. Of them too, it is true that:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

At this Mass as we remember those young people again. The rawness of our grief is sometimes blunted by the passage of time but never gone, like a cold lump we have perhaps learned to manage most of the time but always has the potential to rupture in sobs when our guard is down.

This year again, our parish was stunned by the loss of Amy Curran and we grimly again went up to the altar of God, offered the Holy Sacrifice, and gave to her mortal remains all the reverence and respect we could muster with our inadequate efforts, remembering her friends Georgina and Joe.

More recently, we have prayed for Jimmy and once again been lost in admiration for the heroic faith of his parents who used the occasion of his death as a magnificent witness of the Christian virtues.

Not the least of the legacies of these children we have said goodbye to over the years is the love that they have left behind in their families which they have in turn shared with other families in what genuinely deserves that often blandly used word “community”.

The last stanza of Lawrence Binyon’s poem is less well-known but expresses something of our Christian hope in the midst of sadness:

As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

One of the great consolations of our Catholic faith is that our prayers on occasions like this are not simply an effort to remember or to celebrate the life of our youngsters. Through the communion of the Church, our prayers assist them and bring them joy and we are closer to them here at the Mass than at any other time, especially at the sacred moment of the consecration when the whole court of heaven, all the holy souls and the whole Church on earth are united in adoration of our Lord and Saviour.

We come before him with reverence and awe but we also remember, especially in the month of June, the loving closeness of his Sacred Heart, together with the Immaculate Heart of his mother Mary. Of all the saints in heaven, she understands most completely the grief of a parent who has lost a child tragically.

As we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are present at the foot of the Cross on Calvary with that Blessed Mother of Sorrows, weeping with her, before the Cross whose utter injustice sums up all that we feel and cry. At the same time that Cross pours out, in the precious blood of Our Saviour, the triumph of goodness that she has prophesied.

To Mary then, the patroness of our parish, we make again and again that prayer which hails her, our Queen, our life, our sweetness and our hope. We cry to her from this valley of tears and ask her to turn again to us and be our Advocate, our helper here on earth and, one day, to show us, our children and all our loved ones, the blessed fruit of her womb, her own child who was crucified and is now the eager hope of all the Holy Souls and the blessed possession of all the saints in heaven.
Please pray for my parish and for our dear parents. We have had more than our fair share of tragedies over the last ten years.

Roman rumour on SSPX

Fr Z has picked up a most interesting snippet from Andrea Tornielli: L’ultimatum del Vaticano ai ribelli di Lefebvre: pace se accettate il Concilio and has done us the service of translating it with his own trademark emphases and comments. (Cf. Countdown: accord between Holy See and SSPX)

The upshot is that the SSPX have been asked to send a response to Pope Benedict's proposals before 28 June - that is, the Vatican's close of business for the summer.

Rorate Caeli has further news that the existence of this offer has been confirmed by the SSPX.

I pray that this will indeed be a concrete step to the solution of any remaining canonical difficulties and that we may soon see the SSPX clergy at our deanery meetings ;-)

Odd counsel for Westminster priests

Westminster Diocese is awash with rumblings about a talk given last Wednesday at the All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney to over 200 priests by Fr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (the Cardinal's cousin) on "Paul the Pastor". It does not sound good.

The talk was not given from a prepared script nor was it recorded and therefore I can only go by what I am told by those who were there. Here are some key points that I have summarised from the accounts of many priests. If anyone wishes to offer corrections of serious errors of fact, I will be happy to amend the post.


St Paul didn't believe in the divinity of Christ - he didn't deny it but his thought hadn't taken him that far. For Paul, Jesus was the model man - he showed us what we are capable of, by the example of his life. [Cp. the Office of Readings for today in the Liturgia Horarum: St Gregory of Nyssa "On Christian Perfection", beginning "More than anyone, St Paul understood who Christ is..."]

There is no evidence at all that the papal primacy existed for the first 120 years of the Church's history. The monarchical Church was a later invention.

Paul would not have fallen into the Anglican error of ordaining women priests because he was a pragmatist. St Paul was concerned not to scandalise others and therefore it was wrong for the Anglican Church to alienate the Global South by ordaining women to the priesthood - although that would be "a good thing in itself."


There was quite a bit more but I think that gives you the flavour of the day. It is a great pity that over 200 priests were gathered together and this is what they were given. The Church is alive and the Church is young. There are so many inspiring topics that priests would love to hear about. For example:
  • Marriage - why young Catholics are rediscovering the teaching of Humanae Vitae now that the contraceptive mentality has been thoroughly discredited, and the priest's task to preach the Gospel of Life.
  • Liturgy - Pope Benedict's drive to enrich the Liturgy by recovering tradition and the call to recover the sacred in our worship.
  • Prayer - the example of the ecclesial movements in asceticism and prayer, and the challenge to priests to offer sound guidance and good example.
(I am sure that readers could suggest many other suitable topics.)

The Westminster Cathedral newsletter for 14/15 June announced that the same "accomplished and engaging speaker" would also be speaking to the laity at Westminster Cathedral with official endorsement.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Westminster Diocese piece on Pontifical Mass

Thanks to Monica in the combox for a link to the Westminster Diocesan website's piece on last Saturday's Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. (Cf. Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite at Westminster Cathedral).

Friday, 20 June 2008

Priests' Pro-Life Conference Wednesday

APGL Conference
Wednesday 25 June 2008
St Wilfrid’s Hall, The London Oratory, Brompton Road, SW7 2RP

The Conference organised by the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life (APGL) is open to all priests. Deacons and seminarians are also welcome.

Registration at 11.15am
Keynote Speakers: Clare and Stuart McCullough (from the Good Counsel Network) will speak about their work: to ‘mediate the mission of motherhood’ and to save as many babies as possible from abortion

A buffet lunch will be provided. Pro-life literature will be available.

The afternoon session will include Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (with Confessions), Rosary and Benediction. Tea will be served after Benediction and the Conference will conclude by 4pm

To help us with catering, please leave a message in the combox or email me on if you are coming to the conference. (If you are too busy or forget, still come anyway!) There is no charge but donations will be welcome.

The Oratory is next to the Victoria and Albert Museum. (Nearest tube station South Kensington.) Enter the courtyard in front of the Oratory House. St Wilfrid’s Hall is upstairs in the building on the left.

Fr Lang on new sacred art programme

Zenit has news of a new master's program in architecture, sacred arts and liturgy at the European University of Rome of which Fr Uwe Michael Lang is one of the directors. (Cf. Master's Program Aims to Halt Art Crisis). Fr Lang commented on the crisis in sacred art:
... a crisis of the deepest roots, a crisis that has swept away, even before art, beauty itself, of which it should be the bearer. The very concept of 'fine arts,' of which the conciliar Constitution on Sacred Liturgy speaks, is debated.
Following Hans Urs von Balthasar, he also stressed that
Together with the loss of the beautiful, the good and the true have also been lost.

Fr Z on the Tablet, & George Weigel

Fr Zuhlsdorf has two good posts with his trademark "emphases and comments".

1. Elena Curti in the Tablet: Ringing in the old

2. George Weigel in Newsweek: Latin Days Are Here Again?

Universal law of continence

Adoro te Devote commented on the post Married priests petition and celibacy counter-text, raising the point about the prohibition of clerics marrying - even where there are clerics who are already married.

This prohibition seems to make little sense. If marriage is good and can be a legitimate part of the clerical state, as it is in the East for priests and deacons, and in the West for permanent deacons, why should there be a law forbidding marriage after ordination?

The answer most coherent with the fact of this universal law is that there was an apostolic discipline of clerical continence (i.e. abstinence from sexual union) even for those who were married, and that the existing law, which applies even where clerical marriage and the use of marriage is retained, is a vestige of the ancient discipline.

This accords with the words of Our Lord:
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mk 10.29-30)
Of the apostles, we know that St Peter was married because of the mention of his "mother-in-law" (Lk 4.37-39) and yet we hear nothing about his wife at all.

St Paul says that the bishop must be the husband of "only one wife" (1 Tim 3.2). He is surely not intending here to express a prohibition of polygamy which would have been obviously abhorrent to Christians. Much more likely, he is saying that the Bishop should be a man who, if his wife has died, does not marry again. Why? Because a Bishop is someone who has left "wife and children" for the sake of the kingdom.

The discipline whereby only unmarried men were ordained is an obvious development from this, not an innovation of the middle ages.

For further information, see the article by Ignace de la Potterie at the Vatican website: The biblical foundation of priestly celibacy.

Divorce Online

Advertisers seeking to grab customers at every possible opportunity now advertise in lavatories with A4 sized framed posters. One I have seen recently which made my heart sink was for Divorce Online
... a free, content rich resource for people in a divorce or separation situation. It allows them to access a wealth of information and services regarding family law matters. We believe in providing as much free information as we can to help our users make informed choices.
There is a Gold Service DIY divorce for the knockdown price of £65. Surely the cheapest way to smash up children's lives and undermine the fabric of society! I do recognise the duty of solicitors to represent their clients and gain the best settlement for them, but this does seem somewhat too slick. The whole website is an eloquent testimony to the truth of Pope Paul VI's warning in Humanae Vitae; and I quote:
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Die! You CO2 emitting scum!

Thanks to The Register for this story: Oz TV advises CO2-emitting children to die early.

Apparently, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Planet Slayer" site invites young children to take a "greenhouse gas quiz", asking them "how big a pig are you?". At the end of the quiz, the pig explodes, and ABC tells children at "what age you should die at so you don’t use more than your fair share of Earth’s resources!" Charming!

In response, ABC managing director Mark Scott insisted that,
... the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues.
My question is how this squares with the Child Protection policy of ABC. Could we have access to a copy of this policy?

Wartime Pius XII archives closed to scholars

In journalistic parlance, this is a "Man Bites Dog" story from Agence France Presse: Vatican demands opening of Israeli archives. Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences said,
I do not understand some critics as most of the Vatican documentation is accessible... while others do not make their documents available
Apparently fifteen Israeli archive collections keep documents to which scholars are not allowed access. The Commission investigating the life of Pope Pius XII would like to study these documents.

H/T Fr Ray Blake

James Bond priest

A friend put me onto Donjojohannes's channel on YouTube. Here are a few of his very polished video clips which give Catholic parodies of popular cultural icons.

James Bond intro:

Praystation (includes Praystation portable):

Sprite or Spirit:

Che Geuvara vs Christ:

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Is it just me?

Thanks to Andrew Cusack for linking on Norumbega to the Daily Telegraph blog of Gerald Warner: Is it just me? I particularly liked Only lemon properly complements a gin and tonic and I quote:
How many times, in pubs, do I have to lecture captive audiences who convincingly feign ennui as a defensive reaction to their embarrassment at the solecism they are committing, that lemon is the only legitimate accompaniment to a gin and tonic? Tradition is, of course, an adequate reason in itself. But the fact is that, while a slice of lemon complements the gin, the overpowering flavour of lime drowns it completely.
As with most of society's evils, he traces the root cause to New Labour although he opines that barmen who rub the lime around the rim of the glass were trained by the Borgias.

This prompts me to observe the remarkable similarity between Tony Blair and Cesare Borgia. I wonder if they are by any chance related?

In their public policy they were entirely different, of course. Cesare Borgia had scant regard for the sanctity of human life and was praised by Machiavelli for his use of deception in order to promote politically advantageous warfare. Not that we should in any way pass judgement on Borgia's personal conscience or the sincerity of his profession of the Catholic faith.

Cardinal Castrillon's address to the LMS

I posted earlier today a quotation from the address of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to the Latin Mass Society. The full text of the address has now been posted at NLM. I particularly appreciated his comment:
I also say, “Take heart!” for it is obvious from the many young people in England and Wales who love the Church’s ancient liturgy that you have done very well in preserving and handing on a love for this liturgy to your children.
It is good to hear the Cardinal encouraging families in the context of a speech about the traditional liturgy. I have to say that I also have experience of children growing to love the traditional liturgy and passing on that love to their parents who have been overjoyed that their children have found something that will nourish their faith and keep it strong.

His Eminence also made special mention of the Merton conference to train priests to celebrate the usus antiquior and gave his blessing to this year's conference. As one of the tutors for the conference, I greatly value this blessing.

NLM rightly highlighted this section:
Let me say this plainly: the Holy Father wants the ancient use of the Mass to become a normal occurrence in the liturgical life of the Church so that all of Christ’s faithful – young and old – can become familiar with the older rites and draw from their tangible beauty and transcendence. The Holy Father wants this for pastoral reasons as well as for theological ones
. The Cardinal went on to quote one of the key points of Summorum Pontificum:
In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.
NLM links to a pdf of the Cardinal's Homily at the Pontifical Mass. It is posted in html by the Times Online.

Ecuadorian medics against abortion

LifeSite News yesterday reported a cracking statement by the Ecuadorian Federation of Societies of Gynecology and Obstetrics. You can read the LifeSite article and the full text in English translation. Point 4 of the declaration states:
From the moment that the ovum is fertilized, a new life is begun that is not part of the father, nor of the mother, but rather a new human being that develops autonomously. Further, something so important is at stake that, from the point of view of moral obligation, the mere probability of the existence of a person is sufficient to justify the absolute prohibition of any intervention made for the purpose of eliminating a human embryo. Human beings must be respected and treated as a person from the instant of their conception and, for that reason, from that same moment the rights of the person must be respected, principally the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being. Human life must be respected from its conception, without exceptions.
They effectively deal with the argument that is often summarised in the slogan "keep your rosaries off our ovaries": first the "your rosaries" bit -
Science teaches that human life begins at conception. If it is also true that it is affirmed by religion, it does not for that reason cease to be a strictly scientific truth, to be transformed into a religious opinion. He who denies that human life begins with conception does not need to contend with religion, but science. To deny this certainty of biology is not to express a lack of faith, but a lack of basic knowledge of human genetics, something that is even known by the general public.
and then the "our ovaries" bit:
To affirm that the woman can do with her body whatever she wishes, besides being a conceited claim, has absolutely no basis in science: the embryo is not part of the body of the mother, nor is the fetus an internal organ of her body: the DNA of the embryo is distinct from that of its parents.
The statement also considers the rare cases of pregnancy resulting from rape:
Regarding abortion in cases of rape, the rapist should be punished, not the innocent child, fruit of the criminal act. If the woman who is raped obtains an abortion, in the first place, she causes irreparable damage to herself, because she is deprived of the best "psychological treatment" available to her, which is to live out her maternal instinct, caring for her child with love. It may be said that the psychological well-being of a woman who has been raped is being carried in her own womb. In the second place, if she has an abortion, not only will she not be freed from the trauma caused by the rape (it is one thing to eliminate the fruit of the rape and another to eliminate the trauma of the rape) but instead a new and more devastating trauma is created, that of having killed her own child. Adoption by a third party is a humanitarian strategy of unquestionable value.
The whole statement is well worth reading as an excellent summary and an outstanding and courageous example for pro-lifers everywhere.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Countering subversion, saving babies and restoring the liturgy

A busy day today up in London. My good friend Lt Col James Sterling Corum is in England to give a lecture to the Defence Academy. We were at Oxford together many years ago and it is always great to catch up with news of his family and his academic work. Jim is an acknowledged expert in military history and especially airpower, and counter-subversion. He has recently written a new book: "Wolfram von Richthofen. Master of the German Air War", published by the University Press of Kansas. Wolfram von Richthofen is usually overshadowed by his cousin the "Red Baron". Before the second world war, he played a central role in building and developing the Luftwaffe. Jim has another book out in the summer analysing examples of failed decision-making processes by democracies in wartime. Talking to him about the book over lunch, it struck me that the principal lessons could be applied almost exactly to failed decision-making in the Church. I'll certainly be buying a copy when it is published.

After our lunch, I had an hour or so to do some writing (I took the laptop up with me) before going to the Good Counsel Network to give Benediction. Eucharistic Adoration is an important part of the Good Counsel Network's apostolate of helping mothers who are set on abortion. They have saved very many children over the years by their frontline spiritual work of mercy and their practical charity. I am always grateful for the opportunity to visit and help out with Mass or Benediction. Please say a prayer for their work - they are quite certain from experience that prayer saves babies.

I did not have time to stop for tea as usual because I had to go straight over to a meeting of the St Nicholas Study group of the Society of St Catherine of Siena. This was an opportunity for me to present a draft of my paper for the forthcoming Merton Conference organised by the Latin Mass Society to train priests to offer the Holy Mass in the usus antiquior. I will be speaking about implementing Summorum Pontificum in the parish context. It was very valuable to have the chance to discuss the paper with the scholarly participants in the group. Every meeting of the society includes some celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Today we recited Vespers before and Compline after the meeting. (You don't need to ask which form.)

"The rite that long in darkness pined ..."

Benedict Ambrose, at Tremendous Trifles, has posted a hymn composed by "that most satirical of Scottish orders, the Ninja Carthusians of Achiltibuie." It is sung to the tune "Dundee". I won't post the text here - that would rob Benedict Ambrose of lots of hits. Go over and have a look at the post Cardinal Rules (OK). You'll not be sorry. ;-)

Cardinal Castrillon clarifies Holyday question

I have just received this quotation from the address of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to the Latin Mass Society:
I am aware that the response of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” with regard to the observance of Holy Days of obligation has caused a certain amount of disturbance in some circles. It should be noted that the dates of these Holy Days remain the same in both the Missal of 1962 and the Missal of 1970. When the Holy See has given the Episcopal Conference of a given country permission to move certain Holy Days to the following Sunday, this should be observed by all Catholics in that country. Nothing prevents the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension, for example, on the prior Thursday, but it should be clear that this is not a Mass of obligation and that the Mass of the Ascension should also be celebrated on the following Sunday. This is a sacrifice which I ask you to make with joy as a sign of your unity with the Catholic Church in your country.
That's fine. I certainly made sure to tell the people that our Ascension Thursday Mass was not of obligation. We did indeed celebrate the Ascension on the following Sunday in our three Masses in the Ordinary Form. The Cardinal's mention of "sacrifice" seems to indicate that he is saying that the one Mass celebrated in the extraordinary form should also be the Mass of the Ascension. That's certainly a sacrifice we can make. The integrity of the Liturgy, rather than a desire to avoid sacrifice, prompts me to suggest that the re-introduction of the Octaves for the relevant feasts would be an opportune solution.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Press conference on Saturday

Outside Westminster Cathedral after the Pontifical High Mass on Saturday, I was delighted to meet Damien Thompson, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald and writer of the famed Telegraph blog Holy Smoke.

Damien told me about the press conference earlier in the day and this has now been reported independently on the Reuters Faith World blog by Sebastian Tong (Cf. Latin Mass “power of silence” raises UK Catholic decibels). After the Cardinal had spoke about the power of silence in the usus antiquior and its element of contemplation, Elena Curti, deputy editor of the The Tablet, said that:
[...] many Catholics like herself were confused at the new emphasis on the old rite. It seemed to diminish the role of the laity, she said, and she asked the cardinal if this was a regression from the reforms of the Second Vatican Council
Cardinal Castrillon sensibly responded:
The Holy Father is not returning to the past but taking from the past a treasure to make it present today along side the richness of the new rite.
However, matters were not left there. In a sign that Catholics are no longer content to rest in the platitudes of the 1970s, Damien voiced the reaction that many young Catholics would agree with:
I’d like to very strongly distance myself from what Elena has said and to say that there is tremendous enthusiasm among younger Catholics for the motu proprio, that many Catholics are deeply grateful to the Holy Father for making the change and many younger Catholics regard this as an extremely exciting development
Damien has a more detailed account of the press conference today on his blog (Cf. Traditional Mass for 'all the parishes') This is particularly useful since I would reckon that the various comments were taken down shorthand at the time. The comments of Cardinal Castrillon are well worth reading and savouring. For example:
This celebration, the Gregorian one, was the celebration of the Church during more than a thousand years … Others say one cannot celebrate with the back to the people. This is ridiculous. The Son of God has sacrificed himself to the Father, with his face to the Father. It is not against the people. It is for the people …
and, asked by Anna Arco whether he would like to see the seminaries in England and Wales teach seminarians how to celebrate the "extraordinary form":
I would like it, and it will be necessary. We are writing to the seminaries, we are in accord that we have to make deep preparation not only for the Rite, but for [teaching] the theology, the philosophy, the Latin language
As Tong says, we will have to wait until Friday to see what the Tablet says. I'm sure many Catholics will be ready to pounce.

In the meantime, you can read two articles by Damien:
Latin Mass to return to England and Wales, and,
Victory against the sandalistas of the Catholic church

A day in France

Blériot plage
Photo CalaisCalais par AVERTIE89 sur

Up early today to get to the Eurotunnel with a priest friend for a day trip to Sangatte, near Calais. We stopped in at the Cité Europe shopping mall to buy some good tea, olive oil, a couple of electronic items and a few bottles of nice wine before having a very reasonably-priced lunch at a fish restaurant.

We had enough time for a visit to Bleriot Plage (I did not have my camera but the photo above captures the scene) and saw some windsurfers skating and jumping over the waves of the Channel. This was the site from which Louis Bleriot made the first cross-channel flight in 1909, winning the £1000 prize offered by the Daily Mail.

Back in time for a quiet Low Mass in my Church.

Mass Information blog

The video clip I posted yesterday was originally from Mass Information, a blog in which:
Anglican seminarians discuss the Catholic Church's current liturgical dialogue and what it means for them.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Behind the scenes at the Pontifical Mass

The video clip above shows a part of the recessional at the end of yesterday's Pontifical Mass and it prompts me to post a few personal comments from the experience of assisting at the Mass.

You can see that I was walking slightly behind His Eminence who held the crozier in a not entirely vertical position. For anyone who is second assistant Deacon on such an occasion, I can warn you that you are liable to be stabbed in the foot by the crozier - as I was twice! I learned to keep out of the way.

The vestments we wore were heavily embroidered with gold thread but practical in that their Roman form allowed for all the necessary movement during the ceremonies. I now feel much more confident about taking a mitre off - something I have not had much experience of in the past since Bishops nowadays tend to do this themselves.

Fr Conlon, the Assistant Priest, had the job of moving the Missal stand and Missal - made of solid brass, it weighted about twenty pounds. Fr Southwell and I knelt on the marble altar step as required during Holy Communion. Since this lasted approximately fifteen minutes, I found it rather difficult to get up and move again. I felt a little chastened since one or two of the torchbearers, also kneeling on bare marble, could give me at least ten years.

I very much agree with Fr Symondson's observation that the sanctuary of Westminster Cathedral was shown at its best, being used for the purpose for which Bentley designed it. The marble decorations in the floor are a help too. Fr Southwell and I were able to stand symmetrically by placing ourselves in opposite marble "diamonds" and it was always easy to find the centre of the floor where one needs to genuflect.

One of the men who came to the Mass with Mark of Rise and Pray told us in the pub afterwards that he was using his hearing aid in order to benefit from the loop system. Since the microphone was left on, he got much more than the sermon, being able to hear those directions that are drowned out by the choir: "Get the mitre, GET THE MITRE!" etc.

Often at traditional Masses, there is a chance to catch up with old friends. Yesterday was an embarasse de richesse. There were many good friends at the Mass whom I did not the the chance to see and greet. As ever, I met many new friends too: people who come up and say "I don't know you, Father, but I read your blog." I am always very grateful to meet such people - you convince me that this blog is worth writing and that it is a genuine apostolate. Thank you for saying "Hello."

More coverage of Pontifical Mass

Fr Zuhlsdorf has added his emphases and comments to the article by Damien Thompson which I linked to yesterday. He comments particularly on the important statement by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos that the Holy Father is offering this form of the Mass for all and that therefore it is something for all parishes, not just "many parishes". As Fr Z says,
This was stated by someone who knows what he is talking about. He wouldn’t have said it if it was according to the Holy Father’s will. how can we know this? He made a similar statement before. Review this. If the Secretariat of State or the Holy Father had a problem with what Card. Castrillon said back then, he wouldn’t be saying it in public now.
(Cf. UK: Card. Castrillon Hoyos - TLM in “Not many parishes – all parishes”!)

The New Liturgical Movement has accounts of the Mass from Fr Anthony Symondson and "Justin" that are well worth reading for the way that they capture the mood of the day. (Cf. Two accounts of Today's Pontifical Mass in London)

Fr Ray Blake has two posts, My new hero and The Mass.

In the Buckingham Arms after Mass, I met Mark of Rise and Pray. He has written about his impressions in Truly a feast of Feasts.... Mac was also there and has several posts at Mulier Fortis, including this photo of her parish priest in biretta reading The Remnant in an English pub. This is now my Facebook profile picture:

Brian Sudlow has posted his own description and reflections on the Mass: Another Westminster

Oliver Hayes (The Expectation of Our Lady) has some more photos.

Leutgeb in a World Blogging exclusive notes the use of English composers (Ecce Sacerdos Magnus by Elgar and Byrd's Ave Verum) as well as Palestrina's Missa Sacerdos et Pontifex.

The Dúnadan (Cally's Kitchen) has a personal account of the Mass: Westminster and Other Places (And yes, I was the priest with the cassock and the backpack.)

Fr Hunwicke has a charming observational post focussing especially on the gathering in the piazza after Mass. (Cf. Spanish Cardinals). I heartily concur with him on the joyful, exuberant and genuinely multi-cultural (can we simply say "Catholic") character of the gathering in the Square after Mass.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Today's Pontifical Mass

Following on from Justin's report, here are some photos from today's Pontifical High Mass at Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. Above you can see His Eminence solemnly entering the Cathedral, giving his blessing as he passed along.

The push-chairs illustrate the youth of the congregation: there were many young families with babies. Their occasional wailing did not matter a bit.

Above you can see Fr Hudson, the Subdeacon (centre), myself as the second Assistant Deacon (left) and Fr Wadsworth as Deacon for the Mass (right)

The Cathedral was completely packed for the Mass. These photos were taken from about two-thirds the way down the nave. People were standing at the back and all the way down the side aisles.

Today was a magnificent, joyful and hope-filled celebration of the Roman Rite in its finest form with the Cathedral Choir singing and over two thousand people participating actively by uniting themselves spiritually with what was happening at the altar.

After Mass, the piazza outside Westminster Cathedral was in truly festive mood. I met many good friends there from pro-life and pro-family groups, from apostolic movements for young people, from university chaplaincies, and from religious orders that are flourishing. I was also glad to meet people who know me only through this blog, and priests from all over the country.

Cardinal Hoyos hoped that today's Mass would be a sign for people throughout the world that the Classical Roman Rite was part of their heritage. Some people in England have said that there is no demand for the Traditional Roman Rite. It would be hard to sustain this position after witnessing the exuberant demonstration of faith at Westminster Cathedral this afternoon.

More coverage: Damien Thompson in the Daily Telegraph: Latin Mass to return to England and Wales; BBC: Church 'comeback' for Latin mass

Report from the pews

Here is a report from "Justin" in the comments box fof Fr Zuhlsdorf's blog "What Does the Prayer Really Say". It is such a good summary of today's Mass that I felt it would be best to post it in full:
I have just returned from the Pontifical High Mass at the Throne for the Feast of S. Basil the Great celebrated by Dario Card. Castrillion Hoyos, President of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. You will be happy to know that the Cathedral was overflowing – all seats were filled 30 mins prior to Mass, the side chapels were packed, and the side aisles and crossings were standing room only. Many of the congregants of the overflowing cathedral were youth, or families with children. I am 24 myself, and I would estimate that at least half the congregants (surely numbering more than 1500) were in my age group or younger.

The famed Cathedral Choir (the actual Cathedral Choir) sung their pieces with the professionalism and technical wizardry superior to any Oxbridge college choir but with a passion, verve, and gusto that only the Westminster Cathedral Choir can muster and for which it is justly famous for worldwide. Saturday afternoon is the one free afternoon where the boys of the choir can spend time with their families, so the top line of the choir was necessarily reduced from a normal figure of about 20 boys to slightly more than half that due to unavailability of those with family commitments. This did not affect their singing one bit.

The sanctuary was at it’s most beautiful – with the focus of Bentley’s magnificently designed high altar with baldaccino uninterrupted. The vestments were the finest in the Cathedral, with coped ministers. The Cardinal in full cappa magna was met at the West Door by the robed clergy in attendance – there were diocesan deacons, priests and monsignori, religious, priests of traditional orders, the Provost of the Westminster Chapter, and the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral – all in full regalia. Various Knights of Malta were also on hand to greet the Cardinal. Diocesan priests, religious sisters, and seminarians were also among the congregation. All genuflected as the Cardinal processed up to the Blessed Sacrament chapel accompanied to the Elgar’s glorious Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.

Palestrina’s Missa Sacerdos et Pontifex was the Mass Setting, and the Propers were all sung according to Gregorian chant fromn the Liber, in the rather bouncy “house” style of which Westminster Cathedral is known for – rather different from the more sombre monastic style of the great Abbeys of England. A message from Card. Murphy-O’Connor was read after the Gospel welcoming Card. Castrillion Hoyos to the Cathedral. In his Homily the Cardinal spoke of how the participatio actuoso in the Mass was primarily one of internal conversion, of turning towards the Cross. He used the Gospel of the Day to highlight that whoever wants to be a disciple of Christ must take up his cross and follow him. He encouraged the congregation in our devotion to the extraordinary form and stated that his presence in the Cathedral is his personal support for the classical Roman rite. He quoted from the letter to the Bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum stating that both forms of the Roman rite enjoyed equal legitimacy and are to be mutually enriching. He made known that the Holy See is well aware of the devotion of large numbers of the faithful to the TLM.

The Roman Canon was said in silence with the choir singing the Sanctus and Benedictus from Palestrina. Ave Verum Corpus by Byrd was sung after the Communion Antiphon, and the congregation joined in singing the hymn Adoro Te Devote. The distribution of communion took at least 15 minutes with kneelers set up at the front and the middle of the Cathedral. The choir, clergy, Cardinal and his attendants processed out to the grand Nave Organ booming Widor’s Marche Pontificale.

I said a little prayer of thanks for our Holy Father and kissed the foot of the statue of St Peter, as did many others in the Cathedral.

The Mass was recorded for the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales to be broadcast on EWTN at a later date.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Cardinal Hoyos in London

This evening, I had the privilege of attending dinner at the Travellers Club in London with HE Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and the Committee of the Latin Mass Society, together with the other sacred ministers for tomorrow's Mass, Frs Wadsworth and Conlon of the diocese of Westminster, and Fr Hudson of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, together with Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory. Fr Christopher Tuckwell, the new administrator of Westminster Cathedral was also there: we are all very grateful to him for his hospitality and for making available some of the Cathedral's finest vestments and plate for tomorrow's Pontifical Mass.

After dinner, Julian Chadwick, the LMS Chairman gave a rousing speech in which he noted that the visit of Cardinal Hoyos does much to fulfil the legitimate aspirations for which the society has worked over several decades.

Cardinal Hoyos replied in a moving and heartfelt address in which he expressed the hope that tomorrow's Mass would be a sign to the Church throughout the world of the personal desire of the Holy Father that the richness of the traditional liturgy of the Church would benefit all. He was glad that the Mass is to be televised by EWTN so that it can be seen by people across the globe. He said that we should not refer to the "old Mass" since we go up to the altar of "God who gives joy to my youth" - he referred to it as the "Gregorian Mass" in order to emphasise its enduring youthfulness. It was evident that the Cardinal's love for the traditional liturgy was personal and sincere. We toasted him with the "Ad multos annos."

(In the photo above, you can see Cardinal Hoyos in conversation with Fr Andrew Wadsworth, and, to the right, Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, the Honorary President of the Latin Mass Society.)

Married priests petition and celibacy counter-text

Priests in England and Wales recently received a copy of "An appeal to the Bishops of England and Wales to ordain priests for our parishes." Married priests, that is. The petition from "" reads:
We, the undersigned Catholics, wish to express our support for our bishops who are preparing the Catholic Church in England and Wales for new forms of ministry and leadership. We request the Catholic Bishops Conference to place the following items on the agenda for their next plenary meeting.

We ask that the bishops:

1. Acknowledge that there is a major crisis in ministry within the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
2. Acknowledge that there is no doctrinal or theological barrier to the ordination of married men. Our church has already ordained married former Anglican priests.
3. Take practical steps toward ordaining suitably qualified married men.
4. Encourage a wide-ranging discussion of the role of women in ministry and in the authority structures of the Church, including the question of women's ordination.
5. Establish appropriate scriptural, theological and pastoral training programmes (campus, distance and online) to prepare suitable women and men for ministry. These candidates should have the recommendation of their parishes and communities, and should participate in mentored pastoral work.
6. Invite priests who have left the ministry to return to active priesthood, subject to negotiation with the local bishop.
In the combox, Fr David Barrett has sent a copy of the "fully corrected and clarified text" that he sent to
Dear petitioners

As a Catholic priest ordained 15 years ago and now doing further studies in Rome I would like to:

1. Affirm my wholehearted support for the ancient practice of celibacy for the presbyterate in the life of the Church

2. Affirm my wholehearted support for the maintenance of clerical celibacy as a necessary sign to the world of the priority of the Kingdom of God and the call of Jesus, of love for Him and for His Church over other earthly ties

3. Affirm my support for celibacy not just as a discipline but as a practice grounded in the example of the Lord Himself, as a way of life that expresses the heart of the priesthood as a complete self-giving for the Church, as Christ gave Himself totally for His one bride - and so affirm that there are good doctrinal and theological reasons for this practice

4. Affirm my wholehearted assent for the Church's definitive teaching concerning the reservation of the sacrament of Holy Orders to men alone

5. Affirm my wholehearted assent to all of the Church's teachings, not as "Vatican policies", but as the teachings of Jesus Christ who gave His teaching authority to the Church's Magisterium

6. Affirm my prayers for those who have left the priesthood to get married, but my disagreement that they should be allowed back to active priestly ministry still married - such a move would be discouraging to those who have tried to maintain the promises they made at ordination and is a sign of a lack of respect to them

7. Deprecate this petition as an attempt to further the culture of dissent in the Church, a dissent whose real nature is a refusal to believe and so is opposed to the full act of faith, and so will do no good but will serve to encourage division in the Body of Christ

8. Acknowledge that there is indeed a crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, but this has been caused by dissent from the teachings of the Church, a lack of thorough Catholic catechesis, a lack of holiness and prayer in the life of the Church, an unwillingness to evangelise culture with the fullness of the Catholic Faith and a growing antagonistic secularism in the world which dissent actually promotes.

Yours in the Faith

Fr David B Barrett

Casa Santa Maria
Via dell'Umilta 30
00187 Rome
I certainly second that!

Clergy HV pledge now online

Many thanks to John Mallon for advising that there is now an online facility to sign the Clergy pledge of assent to Humanae Vitae which I wrote about yesterday. Here are the important links:

Human Life International homepage with an article "The Generation of Assent" which introduces the pledge.

Sign the pledge online.

Download a copy of the pledge (pdf 105kb)

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Mass and book launch

Damien Thompson has a thoughtful and moving post on last night's Mass at the Little Oratory (Cf. Latin Mass marries beauty and truth.)

The occasion was the launch of the new book by Alessandra Borghese "In the Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger" which I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is a charming and very readable account of a journey through Bavaria by two noble ladies who have retained and exemplify that genuine nobility which finds its source and fulfilment in the faith which built Europe.

Update on the Tyburn memorial

Fr Andrew Pinsent has kindly passed on this reply that he received from one of the Councillors in Westminster:
Fr. Andrew Pinsent
"Thank you for your communication.

As you so rightly comment this memorial has been removed due to the recent refurbishment works. However, it is due to be replaced shortly."

Kind regards
Councillor Jean Paul Floru
Member for Hyde Park Ward

Clergy pledge of assent to Humanae Vitae

Human Life International has drawn up a Clergy Pledge of Assent to Humanae Vitae. As they explain:
In the face of a whole generation of silence and dissent to this most critical of all papal encyclicals, HLI is endeavoring to form a new generation of assent, both from the ranks of the existing clergy and among those who are studying for Holy Orders.
You can read more about the pledge at the HLI homepage and you can download a copy of the pledge (pdf 105kb) which bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians are all invited to sign.

(I wonder if it would be possible for HLI to arrange for this to be signed by email or on the web?)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Fr Durham in Helsinki

Fr Benjamin Durham FSSP has been visiting Finland. Above is a photo of the Missa Cantata at St Henry's Cathedral last Sunday. The Summorum blog has details (with some text in English) and photos of his visits to Holy Cross at Tampere, the Missionaries of Charity, Maala in the Finnish countryside (with a game of "mölkky"), and today to the Carmelite sisters in Esopo. I was very glad to hear that he also had the opportunity to meet the Bishop of Helsinki.

Coming back into the fold

Mary Rose has a blog about her journey back to the Catholic Church: True Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter At the first post, you can read the story of her return to the faith.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

More on the "Cabrini Children's Society"

Philip at Carpe Canem has an excellent post concerning the recent decision of the Catholic Children's Society (dioceses of Southwark, Arundel and Brighton, and Portsmouth) to give in to the government's demands that they place children with same sex couples, and to change the name of the society to the "Cabrini Children's Society." (Cf. Mother Cabrini must be turning in her grave!)

As Philip rightly says:
This is nothing less than the misappropriation of the good name of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, and the linking of her name to something with which she would profoundly disagree – a complete perversion of her principles! Mother Cabrini spent her life caring for children, rather than seeing them abandoned or given up into dangerous or sinful situations, founding orphanages to protect and care for the vulnerable.
The Catholic Children's Society currently receives income from the following:
  • An annual collection at Sunday Mass
  • Offerings at the Christmas Crib
  • Lenten alms
  • Collections made in Catholic schools
  • Rescript Mass stipends
I cannot see that any of these sources of funding could legitimately continue if the charity is now no longer a Catholic charity and is prepared to act contrary to the teaching of the Church.

A good alternative beneficiary for all of the above would be the Good Counsel Network which helps mothers who are considering abortion and provides counselling, support and material help. They also seem to me rather more in the spirit of the work of St Francesca Cabrini who wrote in one of her Instructions to her sisters:
“My Daughters, in your hands are the new generations. As educators you are obliged to form not only Christians for the glory of Christ and the perpetuation of Holy Church, but also solid patriotic citizens for the prosperity of the nation and the felicity of the family. Thus it is yours to mould the decorum of spirit, state, family and society.”
She also told them:
"The world today is going back to paganism. In spite of its gigantic progress, in science and commerce, it has forgotten prayer, and hardly recognizes it any more. And that has come about because with pagan materialistic sentiments, man makes a god of himself and creatures, and loses the idea of the relations that exist between himself and God!”

Radiant Light lesson plan

Radiant Light, the website for the devotional and instructional paintings by Elizabeth Wang, has produced a Lesson Plan for Teachers. This can be used in various areas of the curriculum and, of course, would be a valuable resource for homeschoolers. The lesson plan includes questions and activities. It is great to hear that the website will soon include a larger collection of about 600 free high quality pictures that can be downloaded freely for non-commercial use.

Where has the Tyburn memorial gone?

In the middle of Edgeware Road, just north of the junction with Bayswater Road, there is a traffic island. This was the site of the Tyburn Tree, the place of execution of many of our English Catholic martyrs. The site used to be marked by the small memorial pictured above. Unfortunately, the traffic island has recently been refashioned and the memorial is no longer there. This is a pity because I know that many Catholics used to like to venerate the cross, even from the opposite pavement (it is a busy road and the island is fenced off.)

My guess is that this is merely an oversight and that the planners did not realise the significance of the cross. It would not cost much to place a small memorial on the site of the Tyburn Tree similar to the one that has been lost.

The traffic island is on the boundary of two wards of Westminster Council, Bryanston and Dorset Square and Hyde Park. The links take you to the pages for those wards with information about the ward councillors and email links. A few polite emails to the relevant councillors might be a start to arranging for a simple memorial being restored to this site which is of such significant historical and devotional interest.

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