|Fr Ray Blake unveils the Papal Flag at St Mary Magdalen's|
I asked her how many she needed. She said, "Seven." I replied, "I think we've got tickets left for you!" She was absolutely thrilled and effusive about attending the event!
"We have to get out and support the Holy Father!" she said, and wondered how on earth there could be tickets left. I told her that some had dropped out because of the strenuous nature of the pilgrimmage, the mile walk to the gates of the park, the long and agonising day promised by the organisers and that more senior parishioners perhaps could not face it, perhaps with gammy legs and all that.
"What!?" she replied, "I'm 63 and I've got gammy everything! I'm going and I don't care what it takes to get there!"
Marvellous! She waited while I sorted it out and gave her letters of when to meet at Brighton Station. She told me I was a Saint, asked if I'd ever considered the Priesthood and then told me that I was going straight to Heaven. Gosh! All for being a rather sinful secretary in the right place at the right time! Anyone would have thought I was bi-locating or something! Providence, eh!? The Lord is good and answers the prayers of His Faithful who revere Him and who esteem His Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI!
She told me she was off to London tonight to attend an event. "Oh," I asked, "What's going on there?" She explained, as the apparently well-dodgy Ekklesia organisation advertise on their website...
'A major debate about the Catholic Church and enforced priestly celibacy will take place in Central London tonight (14 September), ahead of the Pope's visit to the UK. Clerics, academics, a stand-up comedian and well-known public figures are among those taking part.'
According to the website...
'Film-writer and director John Deery is staging a discussion on the contentious and topical issue, following a screening of his feature film, Conspiracy of Silence, inspired by true stories from Catholic priests in the UK, Ireland and Italy.'
Apparently, 'the motion for the debate is that “Celibacy should no longer be a compulsory requirement for the Roman Catholic priesthood.”'
'Deery has strong views of his own on the issue: “In the past, if a priest broke his vow of celibacy by abusing a child all attempts were made to cover it up and he was allowed to stay. However, if he marries – even now – he has to leave the priesthood. The twisted logic of such decisions leaves many Catholics thinking what sort of church do we belong to?”'
Er...Thanks to Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Church has set in place many safeguards against the abuse of children, making the Church now the safest place for a child to be, besides which, canonically speaking or even just generally speaking, these are two very different clerical crimes! I don't get the linking of celibacy and child abuse idea, as if somehow, just because a man isn't getting laid, he pursues a career of having sex with children! Priests aren't forced into celibacy, they do, you know, make that decision by their own free choice at Ordination...
Anyway, guess who's turning up to defend Holy Mother Church...Well, perhaps not 'defend' exactly...
Another speaker for the motion, Professor Tina Beattie, a leading Catholic theologian (That's one way of describing her!), writer and broadcaster from Roehampton University. comments: “When celibacy is imposed rather than freely chosen, the struggle to conform to what may seem like an almost impossible demand creates a clerical culture which is obsessed with sex.
The Catholic Church is dysfunctional in terms of its understanding of human sexuality. It speaks out far too often on questions of sexuality and not nearly often enough on other questions of social justice,” says Professor Beattie. Fr John McGowan, a Carmelite priest (What's the CDF's emergency number, again?),and human rights lawyer and Helena Kennedy QC are also backing change.'
However, thanks be to God, true defenders of the Catholic Church come in the form of some well known comedians and the genuinely impressive Fr Stephen Wang...
'Opposing reform are Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, stand-up comedian and broadcaster Frank Skinner, Jack Valero, Communications Director of Opus Dei UK and Coordinator of Catholic Voices, and Fr Stephen Wang, Dean of Studies at Allen Hall Seminary. Chaired by Ernie Rea, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief programme, the debate will take place at the Odeon West End Cinema, 40 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LP.'
I wonder how this 'internal Church debate' will go? What isn't so marvellous is the take-up of tickets for the Papal events and especially the open-air 'gigs' at Bellahouston and Cofton Park. As someone has just commented on my blog...How much the Holy Father needs people like the lady who came to St Mary Magdalen's today! Perhaps the Bishops could now think of reducing the price for the Beatification Mass and sell the tickets off cheaper, though, admittedly, it is a bit late in the day! Perhaps the organisers will just end up just flogging them to the National Secular Society to recoup money squandered.