Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fatherhood

Kieran left it two whole days after Benedict XVI's resignation to tell him 
how wrong he was. Thank you, Kieran, for showing us how right he was.
I fear that the Kieran Conry saga will rumble on for a while but I must say that as far as timing goes, while it is true to say that their arguments for the liberalisation of clerical celibacy do not add up, the Conry scandal could not come at a worse time for the Church at a time of doubt.

The Synod on the Family is now fast approaching and it is likely that the scandal will overshadow parts of it. The Tablet are already spuriously claiming that Kieran (as we can now call him and as he always wanted to be called) was tripped up by tradition rather than his trousers. Presumably, if Kieran Conry was a Catholic husband unable to remain faithful to one spouse in a lifelong marriage, exclusive of all others, by not maintaining his marital vows and by getting unwisely involved, in some way, with someone else's wife, he would then too be a victim of 'oppressive tradition'. God forbid that morality should impede us from having our fun or creating havoc in the lives of others!

A prelate who has now become notorious within the breast of the Church which has looked after him very kindly throughout his ecclesiastical career, even if the said prelate decided that genuine repentance was not for him and whose dismal view of the Sacrament of Confession gives a pretty sad insight into his own 'struggle' with celibacy, says now that no Bishop in the English Conference 'knew' of his behaviour, because we are assured that if they had known, they would have 'said something' to him or to others. Yet it has to be said that this man's double life and long-term 'living a lie' lifestyle might very well cast doubt on the veracity of his recent statement that 'nobody knew'. As one of his former children, though I'm not really convinced Kieran thought of himself as a Father in any spiritual sense of the word, I no longer trust what he says.

Thorn in the side of the Bishops: Why do they always shoot 
the messengers instead of accepting the message? 
Browsing the Protect the Pope blog from a while back, in terms of Kieran's career, it became clear that Kieran thought it would really be best if Rome was less powerful and the local Church in terms of Dioceses were given more independence to do as they see fit. This would make life for priests and bishops 'easier' in his understanding. Yet, it appears that persons in great authority in Rome left Bishop Kieran to do much as he pleased, apart from some interference when, for example, he made scandalous suggestions regarding the Sacrament of Penance ('its pointless going back with the same list' - read: if you don't take a list) and evangelisation ('you cannot talk to young people about salvation').

One cannot help wondering whether he could not talk to young people about salvation because he didn't really believe in it, but then that became clearer and clearer over the course of the years regardless of what was going on in his personal life. One assumes the best of Churchmen - indeed of everyone - so when a Bishop doesn't genuflect towards the Tabernacle, or derides Marian devotion, or fails to teach the Magisterium, one doesn't automatically assume he's having it away with someone else's wife or something. It is only in the light of this nuclear explosion and its fallout that more of his antipathy towards the Catholic Faith - what we really believe - makes a great deal more sense.

Dr Joseph Shaw and others have highlighted the problem when Bishops do not teach on matters sexual, that it begins to cast questions over whether their position and faith is compromised by their personal life and lack of discipline in this area. Unfortunately, when Dr Joseph's logic is followed to its logical conclusion, question marks would then arise over most Bishops, as well as priests, in England and Wales, for whom the Church's teaching in this area is presumably some kind of public embarrassment. Even His Holiness himself has very little, if anything at all, to say about the Church's teaching on sexual morality.

That doesn't mean the Pope has a mistress but it would suggest that, for some reason which is never made explicitly clear, so many Bishops seem to have a problem in this area, not necessarily in their personal life, but in terms of what they actually believe and we simply have to trust that what they believe and teach has not been compromised by what they do. Oh, how much we trust them. Forgive me, then, if I am becoming more cynical with each blow to the Faithful.

We see in the case of Kieran Conry that this whole idea that sex and sexuality is not very important and that justice and peace is much more important is a total fiction. There is neither justice, nor peace, for a husband whose family is broken up because of what he alleges is adultery, nor for his children. If sex and sexuality are not important areas of Church teaching, why does one family lay in ruins and why is the faith of a whole Diocese and that of others made more fragile and more shaky because of a Bishop's actions? A Diocese has just been truly decapitated and the body runs around aimlessly wondering what is going on but still, apparently, 'justice and peace' is what's really important!

I am getting pretty annoyed by the whole notion that, for priests, celibacy should be dropped because it is impossible to demand from them celibacy - that marriage would lift the 'burden' from them of loving the Lord alone - of, you know, offering themselves to God - that marriage is in some way 'easier' and more 'humane' than the vocation to celibacy in the priesthood. Statistics, both within and without the Church, would suggest that a great many marriages fail. One in three? One in two? What is the rate of breakdown in the Church? This is the very reason why the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops is, we are told, meeting. So many Catholic marriages, it seems, fail. Each break-up is a tragedy that God never wills for His children!

We need a Eucharistic safeguarding team 
While this Bishop was embracing the world, the whole Church has been doing so as well, very well indeed, with Catholic families breaking up, infidelity and divorce a common feature of the Church's laity, with adultery, we are assured one, of the chief reasons for family break-up, divorce and even remarriage, contrary to Christ's commandments. Artificial contraception doubtless feeds into this whole dynamic as well, so let's not pretend that is another area of teaching that is simply to be discarded as 'unimportant'. Whatever you are doing in the Church, priest or layman it is not easy, it always involves the Cross and if it does not involve the Cross in some sense then you are probably living for yourself, not Christ. That's a hard truth but its the truth. How much easier it is to suggest that Christianity is 'all about the community'. Much easier to say that, than it is to contemplate my relationship with God and wonder whether I serve Him, or the Devil. Of course, it is unlikely our bishops actually believe in the Devil either, the Father of lies and deceit.

What possible reason do liberals have for thinking that a prelate or a priest who is unable to fulfill his vows before God in celibacy will be able to fulfill vows in marriage, which calls for lifelong monogamy, huge self-sacrifice and self-denial, total commitment to one's spouse, prayer, devotion, charity and not a small dose of heroism. I know because I, and presumably priests, see this heroism with their own eyes in their own parishes! It is not uncommon at all. So, too, do I see the heroism and witness of single persons who, I am inclined to believe, are not jumping in to bed with every Tom, Dick and Henrietta they meet, even if there are some who do.

It takes love, self-sacrifice and labour to make a happy and loving family.
I expect that most Bishops, who act and live as playboys, could not do it.
What possible reason do liberals have for thinking that an unfaithful bishop would have made a faithful husband? There are plenty of self-serving, selfish, unfaithful, adulterous, awful husbands in the world and in the Church. Both the experience of the Church and the world tells us plainly that marriage is no easy option, unless, of course, we liberalise our view of marriage to deny the traditional concepts of what it is: an exclusive, lifelong union between one man and one woman.

The worst insult this whole idea that tradition caused this bishop to stumble sends to the Catholic laity and to the world is that the real sacrifices made by ordinary women and men for Jesus Christ, in the single life, in family life, those who simply follow Christ and try to obey his teachings, who love Jesus Christ, are impossible and unnatural and should be abandoned. What an insult that is to ordinary men and women in the Church who do not have the authority and power bishops have to use, or abuse, but who as 'little ones' of Jesus Christ and of Mary, ever Virgin, do something that liberals say is 'beyond' bishops and priests - remain faithful to Jesus Christ! That which is exemplified in the lives of many of the laity is not beyond a Bishop, unless, of course, he does not believe, does not pray and does not avail himself of the grace Jesus Christ wants to lavish upon his children, especially through the Sacraments and the maternal intercession of His Most Blessed Mother.

Arundel Cathedral
Pray for a Father in God and a Shepherd for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and please understand, dear readers, that I am not desirous to rake over this man's personal life and castigate him for his weakness, God knows how weak and sinful I am, but see, in this particular instance, a microcosm of the crisis in Faith and especially of Bishops afflicting the Catholic Church in England and beyond.

What idiot told Kieran Conry, a man who the laity can no longer trust, to tell us that the other bishops 'never knew' what was going on? Surely it should be left to another bishop, perhaps the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster or the Emeritus of the See, whose reputations and credibility for truth telling are not yet publicly in tatters, to tell us that! Why can he and especially the still deeply influential retired prelate who got Kieran appointed in the first place, not say it for themselves?

Thank you, Kieran, for assuring us that nobody else among the Bishops Conference knew. Now, please can we hear that from the other Bishops themselves, and from Rome who, with all its 'centralised power' and lack of regard for the 'local autonomy of the dioceses around the world' was, apparently, completely 'in the dark' because I'm growing more and more cynical about the Hierarchy, both locally and in Rome, by the day and hour. For that, you can thank, dear Kieran, yourself and your brother Bishops who have consistently, wantonly, willfully neglected to teach that which was entrusted you to teach: the Catholic Faith!

What an age we live in, when ordinary lay folk who will never confect the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, held daily by the hands of ordained ministers, have to tell Church 'personnel' in the highest places in the Catholic Church, that they do not live up their 'job specification', because presumably they never read the 'job specification' in the first place. Of course children need and deserve protection, rightly so, but if only - if only - the Most Holy Eucharist and indeed faith of the Mystical Body of Christ that is the baptised faithful had a Diocesan department for safeguarding and protection!  I don't expect this to be an idea that emerges from the Synod though. Let the Hierarchy in Rome and in England know and understand, many laity and many clergy are not going to be duped. A Bishop in England has opened our eyes to the truth that a priest or a bishop who lives and acts as a playboy will sadly not make a good husband and father. Thanks to him, that's one popular liberal notion we can now comprehensively dismiss!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Just one question...

'Live and let live...': What measures would Pope Francis apply to a Bishop
who brought scandal upon the English Catholic Church?
'Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation. And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him. We found none of that. That is the answer. But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published. These things are not crimes. 

The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime. But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh? This is a danger. This is what is important: a theology of sin. So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ. And with this sin they made him Pope. We must think about fact [sic] often.

The ferula used by Pope Francis at the 200th anniversary of 
Pope Pius VII's re-establishment of the Jesuit Order.
But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing. That is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay. They say there are some gay people here. I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person? 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and “they must be integrated into society.”

The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter. There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!'

~ Pope Francis, 29 July 2013

I am just wondering whether if this same process is applied to our English bishop, does not the bishop concerned either a) keep his 'job' in Arundel and Brighton or b) remain a priest, or bishop in another role in another See in obscurity or remain as a priest in the same See? Option c) is laicisation, but this did not happen to Mgr Ricca and for some reason I cannot get his case off my mind.

Why have we not yet heard of Pope Francis's acceptance of this resignation? I really don't think His Holiness was the last to know of this matter. What's with the delay? According to the former bishop Kieran Conry, his actions were not 'corrupt' and did not contribute to him being a 'bad bishop' because his own situation meant that he did not preach about sexual matters to his flock. Had he been a traditional Catholic, then, in that case, he would have been a hypocrite. Therefore, there is no hypocrisy to be seen here. Will he find a similar point of view in Rome? Fasten your seat belts now and pray especially to St Michael the Archangel. This Pope is unpredictable and few can preempt his decisions. Something smells fishy and I'm not talking about Friday's mackerel. I trust we are not being kept 'on hold' until after the Synod.



Sunday, 28 September 2014

Pray for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton

Remembering the good times...
Like many Catholics in this Diocese I am still perplexed and experiencing a wide range of emotions, felt by, I am sure, laity and priests alike. Poor priests, who had to read that statement this weekend.

Let's pray for Kieran Conry, for the family and lives affected, for a holy and faithful Bishop for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and for the flock he leaves behind. My own sins and crimes trail before me, as well readers know, so who am I, indeed, to judge?

One cannot help wondering, though: Are there any other bishops of England and Wales who may possibly be unfaithful to their vows while failing to shepherd and feed their flock? Will they do the decent thing and resign? Natural justice would seem to demand it, since it would be rather hypocritical if they permitted the fall of their brother but did not consider their own positions as well. Or are they, also, waiting for someone else to spill the beans in the Daily Mail? Perhaps those who knew of the bishop's activities waited instead for this very public explosion should also consider their positions as Shepherds of the Faithful.

Do pray for Kieran Conry. I wish I could write something as kind and noble as what Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith has written but in truth I met the then Bishop Kieran only a handful of times during which I spoke with him only very briefly indeed. I learned most about him from the interviews he did and the pastoral letters I heard. I am told by others of his fine human qualities and I sincerely hope that he finds peace, forgiveness and happiness in the Lord in this life and in the one to come. Whenever I met him he was kind, warm, interested in us and courteous, though I was a bit taken aback when he asked if we "really believed all that stuff" about Marian apparitions and sites of Marian pilgrimage. I got the impression he did not understand people's devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, nor those who genuflected towards the Tabernacle and knelt for Holy Communion. 

If anyone could do with an embrace (preferably away from the camera) from the Vicar of Christ right now, its probably him. I really do feel for him. That said, I'm pretty crestfallen, so I could do with one myself. I doubt the Holy Father would come near a traddie leper like me though. We're not the flavour of the month in Rome, are we? It really is astonishing just how much damage one Cardinal, now retired, can do in the Catholic Church, isn't it?

For the time being Arundel and Brighton is sede-vacante. This is perhaps one day on which the Holy Father might forgive a few long faces or Catholics who have been to Mass and look like they have been to a funeral. We are told that it is a holy thing to forgive, to resist anger and bitterness and to weep over the sins we hear of others, rather than condemn or judge. The laity and the clergy however cannot be blamed for the cascade of different emotions being felt at this time. Pray for all of us in this Diocese, including the former Bishop himself and especially for priests and a new Shepherd for the Lord's flock here.

Damian Thompson's latest piece on the 'unfolding drama' now rocking the Catholic Church in England and Wales is not very encouraging as far as the renewal of the Church in England and Wales is concerned. It all sounds like a bit of an 'old boys club' to me and as we know, 'boys will be boys'. God help us all and send us true Shepherds, not these ridiculous hirelings who actually consider that by deliberately not talking about sexual morality to your flock while living without sexual morality as a Bishop, you have not been a bad bishop.

Faith in our Families has a run down of the then +Conry's ecclesiastical career here. I'd also be interested to know: What did The Tablet and its powerful friends in high places know of this saga? After all, Kieran Conry was the wine correspondent and was well placed within the beating heart of the Catholic Establishment. All round, there is a sense of a possible cover-up that leaves a rather nasty smell not entirely different to the stink of the 'filth' lamented by Benedict XVI, who interestingly found so few episcopal friends in England and Wales.

"It's good to be here!"
Last but by no means least, here in Brighton, Kieran is the talk of the town because for the first time ever, the former Bishop has made front page news. I'm of the mind that we shouldn't judge Kieran Conry, because Our Lord tells us not to, lest we be judged.

I don't think I can judge Kieran's career as a Catholic Bishop either, because I'm not really convinced that he was or is a Catholic in the traditional sense of the word, but then, so many Bishops and priests these days nowadays aren't, are they? It goes without saying that scandal involving a Successor to the Apostles doesn't just damage the credibility of the Bishop individually, along with that of the particular See, but the credibility of the Church, Her Faith and especially the credibility of Her message that the Gospel can indeed be lived. Christ and His Church asks the impossible from no man, for what is impossible to men, is possible to men who live for Christ and all priests receive in Holy Orders the strength and grace to do so. This is grace and strength those called to this Sacrament can accept, co-operate with, or wilfully reject.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fidelity Always, a now frequent commenter here, left a comment in support of Cardinal Richard Marx's 'moral position' on sexual matters, in complete contradiction to the Magisterium, so I decided that it was time for this commenter to find somewhere else to speak his mind.

This comment was in addition to a veritable raft of comments he had already left. He emailed me under a created anonymous email account so I still could not identify his name, but despite his blatant cowardice still decided it was I who was not a 'true gentleman'. Bizarrely, this individual went on to actually apologise for 'taking over' my blog comments section while still sending in two to three comments every few hours. Clearly, the commenter doesn't understand that a real apology means changing the behaviour that led to your apology.

He must be either obsessed or addicted to this blog. He clearly has something against the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, so I know its nothing personal. However, when I decided to inform him that his comments were no longer welcome on my blog he decided to get personal on my personal life. Thanks for your concern Fidelity Always and, by the way, I know the Deposit of Faith was not entrusted to me but to the Pope and Bishops. Of course, if the Pope and Bishops should ever stop teaching it and teach something else instead, which seems to be the case, the laity and the clergy are free to shout from the rooftops that they should be teaching that entrusted to them, and not something else entirely.

Let's face it, according to the now (place face in palm now) "liberated" Kieran Conry, doing as such never did him or the flock entrusted to him, any harm whatsoever. Perhaps you should start your own blog, Fidelity Always. It's good to be 'Mr Editor'. It means that as 'Mr Editor' you are able to decide who comments, who doesn't and have the last word on a discussion after having blocked their persistent emails which border on sustained harassment. I don't know who you are, but I hope that one day, should I and you make it there, we shall merrily meet in Heaven, where I'll be more patient and charitable and you'll be less annoying. He emails under the name 'Inspired to Comment'.

Henceforth, his comments (and emails) are deleted immediately upon my receipt of them, without my reading them.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Pray



May God come to the help the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, its bishop, its priests,
the faith of its laity.

Pray.

Quick Poll: Quote of the Week


The following quote is attributed to which Catholic thinker:

“Only a rapid, captivating, human-centered reform can contribute to fill the abyss that separates the traditional doctrine of the Church from the reality of faithful Catholics regarding sexual morality.”

A. St Thomas Aquinas

B. Cardinal Richard Marx

C. St Anselm

D. Tina Beattie

E. That guy who runs that blog about queering the Church and making theology so horizontal that it is only exercised upon a mattress.

F: Former Prime Minister, peace activist and gay icon, Tony Blair.

G: Pope Saint Pius X

H: Basically, all the enemies of the Church in Her History, but most recently Cardinal Richard Marx as a matter of fact.

I: Martin Luther.

J: King Henry VIII

K: Hans Kung

L: The lapsed Catholic family member you are praying will come back to the Faith.

M: St Athanasius

It's a tricky one isn't it?

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Ideological War in the Church as expressed through Sacred Vestments

Vanity! Vanity! All is vanity!
I must confess that I am fascinated by Pope Francis's recent attack on the 'peacocks' and the 'soap bubbles' of the Church.

Are we to assume that His Holiness muses on these themes of the 'true Christian' and the 'false Christian' on a daily or weekly basis and brings the fruits of his meditation to his homilies or that His Holiness has been keeping these similes in store during his ecclesiastical career in order to bring them out like a bunch of fragrant roses now that he is Supreme Pontiff?

It would appear that in his insults, Pope Francis is happy to bring out from his treasure house those insults that are 'new' and those that are 'old'.

I do hope that this does not sound disrespectful of the Bishop of Rome but oh how depressing is the liturgy of the reigning Supreme Pontiff whose Sacred Vestments are clearly designed to tell us that Heaven does not exist?! The concept of the ecclesiastical 'peacock', however, is old, not new. Indeed, this article from 'Our Daily Thread' quickly informs us that references to 'peacocks' were in the Bergoglian insult file before the Cardinal's ascension to the Throne of Peter. Dr Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo's March 2013 overview of Pope Francis is illustrative in this sense...

In February of 2012, a full year before Benedict XVI announced his abdication, Cardinal Bergoglio was interviewed by Vatican Insider offering a preview of his views on reform. Citing fellow Jesuit, Henri De Lubac the Argentine prelate criticized “spiritual worldliness,” a vice which might be defined as “a phony effort to appear holy.” He stated: “Careerism and the search for a promotion [to the hierarchy] come under the category of spiritual worldliness.” 
Behold, the awesome humility! If only all Churchmen were so humble!
Then he offered an earthy example of this ecclesiastical vanity: “Look at the peacock; it's beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth ... Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.” These words have special meaning now that Cardinal Bergoglio is Pope Francis I.
The targets of the pontiff before his election are not abstract: we all see the growing distance between the faithful and bishops. Whatever our judgment of the papacies of John Paul and Benedict, their personalities clearly lent a style to the hierarchy of cardinals, since all the cardinal electors had been named by these two pontiffs. The “peacocks” in the hierarchy were put there by John Paul and Benedict. Pope Francis, on the other hand, is not a peacock lover.

When he spoke to his own clergy, Cardinal Bergoglio was critical of the clericalization of the Church. The “few-but-good” vision of the JP II church is rejected as the desire of “hypocrites,” who “drive God’s people away from salvation.” Jesus, on the other hand avoided the Pharisees and preferred “appearing among the people, the publicans and the sinners.”

Despite this, however, the compassion that His Holiness Pope Francis has for these wretched 'peacocks' is admirable. "Poor things!" the sweet Vicar of Christ on Earth said of them during his papal homily on Thursday. Perhaps, in this statement, we can see an inkling of the ocean of bottomless mercy that the Holy Father has for those experiencing repressive measures under his personal supervision, such as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Yes, His Holiness feels their pain.

The florid papal liturgies of yesteryear are gone, but today's papal liturgies make one thing perfectly and abundantly clear. The choice of sacred vestments that ministers of the Church choose to wear is still about the message that they give, no less, perhaps even more than they were in the 'dark old days' of the Catholic Church, when gilded, sumptuous, glorious vestments were worn with zero controversy within the Church whatsoever, when this, like the 'Form of the Mass', and the liturgy all round, was something of a 'given', something received from those who came before us. The regal nature of sacred vestments is, apparently, very traditional, going back further than the birth of the Church itself, just like Gregorian Chant does, to the worship in the Temple of the Jews.

And so when a Pope is elected who reportedly wishes the Master of Ceremonies to put away the mozetta because, 'the carnival is over', be sure that it is not because 'the' carnival is over but because 'his' carnival has 'only just begun'.  I don't say this in order to criticise His Holiness's choice on the day, but to make the observation that it is impossible to discard that which you have inherited in terms of papal accessories without making a statement about the choice not to do so itself. Do you recall just how many headlines His Holiness received out of his 'simplicity' and 'humility' in contrast to his apparently vulgar, vain predecessor?

The same goes for the vestments you are going to wear in place of those you will refuse to wear. The same rule applies for the red shoes and the black shoes. The idea that a Churchman can only be a 'peacock' by donning spectacular attire is ridiculous.

Anything that is contrived enough to want to send out a particular message which attracts headlines and attention due to the 'difference in style' of the Successor could, though must not necessarily be, the kind of attention-seeking derived from 'spiritual worldliness' that is the constant preference of the 'ecclesiastical peacock'. The deliberate choice to refuse to wear those vestments worn by your predecessors also makes a deliberate break with those who came before you, ensuring that not just the last occupant of the Chair you now inhabit, but the vast majority of them, simply were not up to speed with how things should really be, because, you know, that's what a 'humble' occupant of the Chair of Peter does to the memory of those who came before him.

And in the midst of this, little thought, or so it would appear, is given to those who may fill the shoes of Peter after Pope Francis has 'gone to the Father's house'. Just how will a Successor of St Peter cope with wearing the mozetta, the red shoes and a jaw-droppingly beautiful set of papal vestments at St Peter's once the current occupant of the Chair of Peter has met his Maker? Perhaps, just to ensure there is no confusion as to his role in the Church after Pope Francis's work building up the Church and the Kingdom, the next Pope, were he to be of traditional 'orientation' should just think, 'Well, I'm going to make some people unhappy anyway, so I might as well wear the tiara and have done with it.'


In order to truly assert that 'clothes maketh the man' - and the old adage tells us that in no way is this true - one has to assert that all Popes, Bishops, Cardinals and Priests before the 1970s in perhaps the greatest period of rupture and division in the Church in recent history were spiritually worldly ecclesiastical peacocks who wore what they wore to make a grand statement about themselves.

If one does not have to assert this, one at least has to suggest that they laboured for Christ in the mistaken belief that what they wore at the Most Holy Sacrifice, was wholly unnecessary or even 'vain'. The truth is that the Church has always sought fine materials for the vestments worn by the sacred ministers because She never tires of wishing to express the holiness and majesty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Whose Sacrifice at Calvary is being offered on the Altar to the Eternal Father at every Mass, in an unbloody manner.

I do hope that people, Catholics included, are not fools who so easily are deceived into thinking that a priest who wears 1970s or even 2010s polyester vestments is automatically humble, modest and a priest after the very heart of Christ Himself, but a priest who wears vestments that speak of Christ's majesty, the dignity of the priesthood, but have nothing to do with his own interior personality whatsoever, is automatically a proud, conceited and vain individual only out for his own glory. For if that were truly the case, we should all be members of a Catholic Church which had not only lost sight of its tradition, its heritage, its roots and its customs, but more than that, a Catholic Church which had lost the use of reason entirely or had decided to think not as it once did, but instead as Protestants do.

The vestments of the pre-concilliar Church speak very well of the beauty of God, the majesty of Christ, the glorious dignity of the sacred Priesthood, the truth that going to Church and especially to Mass is not an 'ordinary' thing to do at all, but something truly holy. As Catholics, we need to see these beautiful and ornate vestments more than God, Who has everything, needs or wants to see them.

They, like Icons, give us a little window into Heaven and remind us that the Priest is truly Alter Christus, while reminding us Who Christ Is! Many priests, Bishops and Cardinals are today wearing those vestments worn by their predecessors because they believe these vestments are - unlike the individual wearing them - worthy attire in which to offer the Most sublime Sacrifice.

They shouldn't be punished or insulted for doing what so many who have come before them have done, nor denigrated for wishing to wear those vestments which bring honour to Christ and which reverence the fragrant offering of that Sacrifice which brings us healing, forgiveness and peace.

If only we could discern the 'good' from the 'wicked' merely by the clothes they wear. If only life were so very simple, then those who abused and hid child abusers, or who 'moved them out of harm's way' like a certain prelate from Belgium, who is still invited to the Synod in October, would be far more easily admonished, or censured, or even 'sacked' by the Pope.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Soap Bubble Christians

It's been really quite a long time since I scourd a papal homily for my 'Pope Francis Little Book of Insults', but today's homily from His Holiness is a good resource on how we should not live.

So, let us not be 'peacock Christians, 'soap bubbles Christians' or any kind of Christians who do things to be seen, who live for vanity. It is heartening to hear those words from Pope Francis, at this time when 'truth' seems up for debate at the upcoming Synod. I hope all the Cardinals and Bishops take this as the Synod motto:

“Only the truth gives us peace.”

It would be uncharitable to look for hidden liturgical preference sub-texts in the Holy Father's homily today, concerning those who 'dress like princes', in 'luxurious outfits', who 'strut around like peacocks'. Who is he talking about? I enjoyed Fr Hunwicke's piece today on Cardinal Burke. I also enjoyed this really rather beautiful report on him. I hope it is true. 

God bless the good, obedient, prudent and inspiring Prince of the Church and the Friars of the Immaculate under his wing, while under such punative measures in this current pontificate, we are informed, directly by this current Supreme Pontiff. The Facebook group Populus Summorum Pontificum has some very beautiful pictures, I recommend joining it.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Question: Why is the Past a Threat to the Present?



The sudden, powerful, self-propelling movement within the Church to limit, to disparage, to counteract, curtail or even stamp out, in places, or in parts of the Church, the Traditional Latin Mass is laced with fear not that the past is a threat to the present, but that it is what informs the future. The present can be so easily altered, the past can be so easily brushed aside, or erased, by those who wish to erase it, but when the memory and tradition of the past enters afresh once more into the present - and is suppressed, or feared, we can be sure that what is at stake is the future.

"You have come from all that way just to come to one of 
my Masses? Look, if you're not local, it's really not on!
A contributor to the New Liturgical Movement website recently opined on the justifications used for restricting or denying anyone who asks for it, the Mass of Ages which, like a body, was 'knit together' in our Mother's womb, our Mother, of course, being the Church Herself. Like a body, like a soul, like life itself, it is Sacred. We are told indeed that there is nothing more sacred on Earth than the Mass because there is nothing so sacred as God and the worship of God.

It would appear that for some, even for many, the Traditional Latin Mass upsets the entire order of the Church, perhaps an entire belief system. Objectively, as Peter Kwasniewski writes, there is no justifiable reason as to why the Extraordinary Form should not be celebrated as regularly as the Ordinary Form of the Mass, side by side, in peaceful co-existence.

As we are frequently told by a visitor to this blog called Fidelity Always, these are two forms of the same rite. But if this is so, there is no justifiable reason why it should not be celebrated by every Bishop in the World. Church law itself, in the light of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae gives no grounds to those who would wish, or who do, deny it to the Faithful, be they a stable 'community' in the immediate location of the parish, or those who come to visit frequently, or devotedly. From this ancient form of the Mass springs the Novus Ordo. Put quite simply, we would not have a 'superior' or 'improved' Novus Ordo Mass to speak of, which we are reassured by those who do not wish the Extraordinary Form to be the right of all the Faithful, without the 'Mother Mass'.

Traditionalists might object that the Novus Ordo is the 'child' of the Mass of Ages because it seems so very different - or even in comparison, deficient. Yet, we would not have the new, without the old. Why then, is the aged, the ancient, the Mother, old, yet ever new Mass of Ages resented or even feared? What is it about this expression of the Mass that provokes such animosity and fear, loathing and even contempt for those who attend it, or who celebrate it?

It seems to me that what the Mass of Ages undermines is 'the project'. I do not mean this in terms of conspiracy theory, but the 'project' that the Church has committed itself to since the Second Vatican Council, in which everything is the same, and yet the emphasis is seemingly entirely different, made in man's image. We have heard from those who defend it and who promote it that the EF Mass has a Christo-centric emphasis - and emphasis on the Sacred that cannot be removed without removing the entire Mass itself. It cannot be easily added to, nor anything easily taken away. It requires nothing of the Priest but obedience to the text and the learning of some rubrics. The focus is entirely on Jesus Christ and, in particular, on the Divinity of Christ expressed in many different ways, through genuflections, through a dignity and reverence which is not translated in the Novus Ordo in quite the same way. The Latin Mass points to the things that are not of this world but the next or the Other. It treats the things of God with huge importance and respect.

We need only to look at the general emphasis of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, in the US and Europe, even in Rome itself, to see that over the past 40 or 50 years, the whole emphasis has, with the attending 'new rite' changed within the Church into something new, but with an emphasis clearly 'of this world'. Somehow the Ordinary Form does not communicate, in such a clear manner, things that the Extraordinary Form does communicate. The Extraordinary Form either communicates something in addition to the Ordinary Form, or something else entirely. If this were not the case, then the past, the old, would not be deemed such a threat to the present order of things, for let's face it, no Catholic Bishop who celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass would wish to stamp out the Novus Ordo - not one. And yet resistance the other way round is palpable as to be keeping those priests who celebrate the EF Mass awake at night. 'When will the Commissars be visiting my parish?', they must think!

Uniformity is being demanded in some areas of the Church, under the auspices of the Novus Ordo, but as to why the diversity of expression of the Mass envisaged by Summorum Pontificum is not welcomed, nobody ever receives a clear answer, but for some general and vague sense that modernity has surpassed what came before and those who came before us and that those who cling to tradition are in some way un-Christian, or Christians ill-fitted to the modern Church.

Yet that very Novus Ordo that is held to express the modern Christian's worship appears, so it seems, to fail in communicating God Himself and what is taking place during the Mass - even though it is in the vernacular! The Latin Mass definitively shows forth Christ, definitively, expressly leaves the Saviour of the World exposed for the worship and adoration of the Faithful. He is at the start of it, He is at the centre of it, He is its very End and this is what we crave for ourselves. We want Jesus Christ and we want Him for our beginning and our end. The Church may change, the liturgy may change, but He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Why is this EF Mass such a threat? So many Churchmen are committed to the 'project' of what was envisaged by the Second Vatican Council but is truly yet to be seen - a new 'springtime' in the Church - that they are no longer interested in examining what the 'project' really is and whether it is even satisfying to the Christian. Put quite simply, the entire Faith of the Catholic Church rests on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is the ultimate Gift that Jesus Christ gave to the Church - the perpetual memorial and re-presentation of His saving work on the Cross in His Church until the End of Time. The Latin Mass says quite simply that there is one reason and one reason for going to Church and that is to worship God. The average Novus Ordo says many things, but doesn't say the 'main thing' loud enough.

Ironically, it is the Mass of Ages that also leaves you free not to worship God since the participation that you take within the Mass is left entirely to you. Do you want to engage with this, or not? Not so in the Novus Ordo, in which the visitor, be he faithful, lapsed or entirely alien to the Church, is instructed to repeat, 'in a parrot fashion', and in the vernacular, that which he may or may not believe. In fact, I know and have met Catholics who do not believe in the Faith of the Church despite repeating its Creed every Sunday. So how does the vernacular stimulate or transmit Faith? Let's be realistic, the vernacular has not helped the Faith of Cardinal Kasper since he seems to disagree with large parts of it.

In the Novus Ordo, one size fits all. You are either 'in with God' or 'out without God'. This can be visibly seen in the queue for Holy Communion in which it seems everyone is in a State of Grace, but at the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, it is not unusual to see reluctance from those attending to approach the Holy of Holies, God the Son, under the guise of bread. We can say, with those who defend the Mass of Ages that attending the Mass in the Extraordinary Form deepens prayerful participation at the Ordinary Form as the two 'rites' accomplish 'mutual enrichment' - which Pope Benedict XVI clearly envisaged as one day becoming 'one flesh'.

Yet, it is still hard to see in what manner the Novus Ordo enriches the Latin Mass, unless we talk of the Gospel and Epistle being read in the vernacular, but then, of course, it is not the child who necessarily nurtures the Mother, but the Mother who nourishes the child. The Mother of All Masses is back and the new vanguard, in a quick and an inexplicable knee-jerk reaction are seemingly desperate to put Mother in a nursing home to rot away without any sense of duty, or respect, or love. I ask those who desire to see the Latin Mass banished to the cupboard from which the Missal emerged at the express approval of Pope Benedict XVI: You wish to see this Mass abrogated, locally, once more. Exactly what are you afraid of? The past, the present or the future? Answer carefully, because all ages belong to Christ our Lord and we are only passing through. All time, all seasons, all glory, honour and power, belong to Him. On this side of the veil or the other, we will all find that out in due time. What you say is the honour due to the community you serve is nothing in comparison to the honour that is due to Almighty God. Honour God, seek first Christ and His Kingdom and everything else, the community included, shall be added unto you, so much so, that they will even travel across a Diocese, just so that you will be their pastor!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Annulments 'Self-Checkouts' in Supermarkets Idea Floated by Kasper, Claims Criticism is an "Attack on Pope Francis"

"Press 4 for our Marriage Annulments Service..."
"Now that you have paid for all your goods, we would like to offer you a range of other products available at our store.

Press 1 for Banking Loans
Press 2 for Holiday Insurance
Press 3 for Loyalty Clubcard
Press 4 for Marriage Annulments.

You have chosen 4, marriage annulments.

Is this your first marriage?
Press 1 if this is your first marriage..."

That a female voice from a computerised self-checkout could one day utter these words may sound unrealistic or even absurd, but Cardinal Kasper, the high ranking Churchman with the ear of the Pope has been floating the idea of 'Annulment Self-Checkouts' in Rome in the days running up to the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. And if things go the way of the controversial Cardinal with the 'Kasper Doctrine' - often confused with that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Founder of the Catholic Church, your local supermarket and weekly shop will become a great deal more interesting - especially if you are married.

Cardinal Muller is said to be 'disappointed' by the Kasper proposal 
While only a few Cardinals are prepared to discuss Kasper's proposal to make marriage annulments as easy as obtaining a Clubcard from Tesco's, the Cardinal is reportedly claiming the backing of Pope Francis, who, it has today been announced, has established a new Commission charged with the duty to examine ways in which annulments can be simplified.

Several in the inside circle of the Pope's other important advisers and a host of internationally recognised supermarket chains, including Sainsbury's, Tesco's, Wal-Mart and Iceland claim interest already in the proposal. Other leading global brands are said to be interested in the proposal which could even receive sponsorship from other global companies not usually associated with the Catholic Church, such as Planned Parenthood, Stonewall and Durex. It is thought by these companies that reconciliation with the Catholic Church in a new era of pragmatism, openness to new ideas and accommodation to evil could be underway.

"Under my proposal," said the Cardinal in the media limelight, "marriages that suffer the pain of breakdown and separation, that lead to divorce, and in many cases, remarriage, can find healing by the process of annulments in the Catholic Church. At the moment there is a rigorous procedure in place but this takes often a long time."

"This is a healthy and merciful way of re-examining whether a true marriage existed in the first place. It is becoming more clear that anything between 51% and 99.2% of all Catholic marriages are not valid, due to a number of circumstances, too detailed to go into in one hardback book alone. So you'll have to wait for my next one. Remarriage prevents many couples from putting their hands out for communion. They want communion and we want to give them communion. The only problem is the words of Our Lord Jes-, sorry, the Catholic Church's dogmatic and harsh doctrinal position.

"The solution therefore", continued the Cardinal, "is to find a quick and easy way for those who require the merciful hand of the Church to intervene and rescue them from the problems associated with marriage and its breakdown to dissolve what did not exist. I was at a self-checkout in Rome at an unnamed supermarket when I suddenly realised - this is the breakthrough we have been looking for! I looked up and said to the great Architect of the Uni - sorry, the Lord God, thank you, you really are a luminous one!"

Cardinal Burke has made no formal statement yet
Traditional Catholic bloggers have been wounded anew since the news that Cardinal Raymond Burke, a defender of Catholic Truth and morals, is said to be moved from the Apostolic Signatura to preside as patron over a Maltese Falconry Centre Network.

Others have suggested that this need not be seen as a 'demotion' or in any way an insult to the talents of the Cardinal, but could be exactly what the Falconry Centre Network needs - the sturdy arm of a man of the Church to steer it into a more radical Catholic flight. While it is viewed by some that Francis has 'frozen out' the Cardinal, possibly from the Synod, privately Pope Francis is said to admire Burke's intelligence and knowledge of Church law and discipline, which are useful skills in heading a network of falconry centres throughout the world.

The news of the 'annulment self-checkout' model, however, has some Catholic commentator suggesting that it is possible that Cardinal Burke may be moved precisely so that no legal framework of the Church could be applied by his Court to the potential unrolling of the software to self-checkouts in supermarkets across the world.

Following criticism from Cardinal Ludwig Muller, who said in a Vatican magazine that the idea was "ill-thought through", "irreconcilable to the tradition and teaching of the Church" and "unacceptable", Cardinal Kasper replied in a German newspaper article that Muller should, "Shut it, Ludwig, because if you criticise me, you criticise the Pope, because me and him are like that, buddy. Like that, hear me! Do you want to be known as a Pope-hater? No, I didn't think so, so keep it to yourself! You're not in the 'in-crowd' now, buster! Times have changed!"

It is reported that Kasper crossed his index and middle fingers at this point in the interview to stress his point.

Concern has been raised that the investigation by Church authorities into the validity or invalidity of a marriage may not be in depth enough and that questions could easily be answered incorrectly after shopping in a rush to get to the car, and that the scanning device for relevant documents could fail to work. It is thought by many that the self-checkout annulments could be 'open to abuse', sometimes unworkable without a supermarket supervisor and that 'annulment receipts' could easily be lost or discarded accidentally as normal receipts, but this hasn't stopped news of the idea spreading around Rome and the boardrooms of all the supermarket chains across the world, who sense a long-awaited financial deal with the Vatican that will draw customers into the supermarket on their way home from Church.

More news on this story when we have it, once the work of the new Commission established by Pope Francis to find a simplified solution to marriage annulments has come back and announced its conclusions in a dossier to be released at some point during October.

The Commissioners


Looking at this educational display outside Holy Cross Anglican Church in Pershore, which like so many old English churches has a rich and glorious Catholic heritage - until 1534 - I couldn't help but notice picture number 9, in which is described the end of the monastery because of the madness of a tyrannical monarch. It reads thus...

31 January 1540. The Commissioners arrived at Pershore, after nearly 900 years the days of the monastery were over.

Thanks to The Eponymous Flower for alerting us to the closure of another Franciscan Friary belonging to the Order of the Immaculate. I hear it is the 500 years anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Strange and mysterious it is, that the new wave of persecution should be launched at the personal request or oversight of the Pope. Nice church though...You can read about its rich Catholic heritage here.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Rumours Circulate of Invalid Election of Cardinal Bergoglio


It wasn't white smoke at all.

It was the escape valve for the Vatican crack pipe.

I guess that's what happens when you invite Latin Americans to a conclave.

All joking aside, I agree with Rorate that, going by Cardinal Kasper's own words, the Vatican may as well cancel the Synod because it is starting to look rather like its going to be a rather well-rehearsed, pre-meditated stitch-up.

The next time you see smoke coming out of the Vatican, that'll probably be from the glowing embers of the new book by senior Hierarchy figures opposing any change to the Teaching on Marriage and Holy Communion.

Let's hope they stick to books, not the 'dissidents' themselves.

I guess by that time, though, there won't be any of them in Rome.

It is starting to look like St John Paul II wasn't the only Pope with a career in acting
behind him after all!

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