Monday, 30 March 2009
Damian Thompson's blog continues to speculate about the name of the new Archbishop of Westminster, the new spiritual leader of the Catholics of England and Wales. The latest rumour is that Bishop Arthur Roche of the Diocese of Leeds is leading the pack.
I shall be careful with what I say here. As far as I can see, the most important quality for the new Archbishop will be loyalty to the Holy Father and unequivocal adherence to the Magisterium of the Church and a desire to proclaim it fearlessly in season and out of season. If it is Bishop Roche who is chosen, I really hope and pray he has those qualities.
The next few years are going to become increasingly more heated in this country. Fr Blake already today highlighted how difficult it is becoming for faithful Catholics to gain and maintain employment in health and education, if they do not compromise their Catholic Faith with their career. The Government's pro-abortion and pro-contraception stance will make it increasingly difficult for Catholics in both health and education.
The most public difficulties, perhaps have been seen in the Houses of Parliament itself, where Catholics in Government were pressured to vote for the Government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which the Church condemned outright. Ruth Kelly soon left the Cabinet after that vote, though she didn't publicly use that as the reason. Whatever her reasons, as a member of the conservative Opus Dei, she can't have been having fun in the Government when it was so intent on attacking the sanctity of human life.
If faithful Catholics, loyal to their conscience cannot be in public life, in Government, in various departments of the civil service or local councils, without going against their faith then that will amount to a direct persecution on the Church, the Body of Christ.
There are so many issues that Catholic Priests and lay faithful care passionately about when it comes to the next Archbishop of England and Wales, from the re-introduction of the Latin Mass to an improvement of the liturgy all round, to a more determined and focussed attitude on vocations. The most important issue is that to the Faithful and to the World, the Gospel of Salvation be preached and the words echo from the Pulpit and beyond, to the ears of Government and citizens, that the next Archbishop is fearless in proclaiming it and does not fear persecution for sake of the Gospel. The Holy Father is faithful in his duties to proclaim Christ Crucified to the World. The Catholic Church of England and Wales, when the Holy Father has done this, has too often remained quiet and acquiescent to the whims of a secular Government. This cannot, we pray cannot, be allowed to continue. The next Archbishop must speak out and proclaim the Gospel from the rooftops. If he doesn't, the Faith in this country and much more is at stake.
Friday, 27 March 2009
Benedict XVI was deluged (Remember St Peter didn't drown either!) with criticism after stating that condoms "aggravate" the spread of the disease. The Lancet, Britain's leading medical journal, used an editorial to accuse Benedict of having distorted scientific evidence in order to promote the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican maintains that the use of condoms promotes promiscuity (Yep!) and that fidelity to one partner or total abstinence from sex are the best ways of combating the disease. (Yep!)
The Pope made the remarks last week to journalists on board his official plane as he flew to Cameroon on the first leg of a week-long Africa trip – the first of his papacy – which also took him to Angola.
He was accused of sending a dangerous message which would worsen the Aids pandemic, particularly in Africa, where the virus has taken its heaviest toll. (What is the message of the Aids groups again? Oh, yes, keep having sex even if you're HIV positive!).
Senior Catholics rallied to the Pope's defence this week, with the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, saying the depth of opprobrium directed towards the pontiff had "been prolonged beyond good reason." (Not half!)
Catholics: "Outrageous! How dare you destroy this country and attack the Faith that once made it great!"
Brown: "Ah, but wait...one of you could one day marry a Royal. Aren't I nice?"
Catholics: "Oh. That's alright then...That Gordon Brown, he's nice. He likes Catholics and respects us and everything we profess to believe."
Yeah right! Gordon, mate, take your act of succession idea and shove it where the sun don't shine. None of us wants to marry into the Royal Family and a favour from you is like an invitation from a paedophile to a class of schoolchildren to view his puppies. The only act of succession Catholics give a toss about is the act of voting your anti-Christian arse out of office next election, and praying your successor respects human life and liberty.
Zenit today highlights a quite long, but very interesting article by Elizabeth Lev.
It begins, 'A long time ago, during the reign of Commodus, six Christian men and women in North Africa refused to acknowledge the law declaring the divinization of the Emperor. It was little matter, some incense on the fire, and a public vow. First they were shunned and insulted, then they lost their jobs and homes and ultimately they were brought to trial before the Roman Proconsul Saturnius. The acts of the trial, lovingly preserved over 1,800 years, tell us what transpired...'
Elizabeth then goes on to say later in the piece, '...One of the first priorities of the administration of President Barack Obama razed the path to unrestricted abortions. The greatest impediment to this plan is a formed human conscience that recoils at the idea of murdering an unborn baby while lies in its mother's womb. Six weeks into President Obama's term of office, he has begun to uproot this obstacle by repealing a regulation granting broad protections to health workers who refuse to take part in abortions or provide other health care that goes against their consciences.'
You can see already where this post is going. The thrust of her article is that the general persecution that befell the Church during the time of the pre-St Constantinian Roman Empire could be on its way back.
The aggressive abortion legislation coming from the heart of Washington and spreading out to US states is frighteningly rapidly gathering pace and heading straight to the hearts of medical professionals across the US. The UK too, clearly, is heading in the same direction. Healthcare workers, doctors and nurses, if secular legislators get their way, will no longer be in a position to act in accordance with their consciences in the public sphere and in their daily working lives.
Cutting to the chase, the heart of the matter is that when a Catholic doctor, or any doctor who feels deeply uncomfortable with the idea of killing an unborn child at a mother's request, is asked to 'terminate' a pregnancy, he or she will no longer have the right to politely refuse and act in accordance with his or her conscience. Legislation like this strikes at the heart of individual freedom of conscience, religion and of course, the freedom of unborn babies not to be killed.
The situation is serious, scandalous and highly, highly disturbing. The situation is this...
Patient: "Doctor/Nurse, I wish to have an abortion at this hospital and I wish you to do it."
An hour later...
Manager: "Doctor/Nurse, please can I have a word with you for 5 minutes."
Yes, indeed, the days of the Emperor are on the way back.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Coming to a TV screen near you soon...
Narrator: "You've heard the story about Jack and Jill. Well, here's a new one. Look, here is Jack and Jill now. What have you children been up to? Fetching a pail of water again?"
Jack and Jill: "No, we've been having sex."
Narrator: "Having sex? Oh how wonderful. Sex is fun isn't it?"
Jack and Jill: "Yes, its awfully fun!"
Narrator: "But with it comes responsibilities. Look, children, when you have sex use one of these."
(Narrator showers children with condoms)
Jack and Jill: "Oh what are these?"
Narrator: "These are condoms, children. Use them when you have sex so you don't get any diseases and don't fall pregnant, because, really, you are too young to fall pregnant. You're just children and children having children is just silly isn't it?"
Jack: "Yes! These condoms are wonderful. Look, Jill they come in different colours and flavours. Which one shall we use this time?"
Jill: "Oh let's use the toffee one."
Jack and Jill: "Thanks Mister! We'll always use condoms when we have sex now."
Narrator: "Good children, now run along and start having sex."
Jack and Jill: "Yippee!"
Imagine you've just done a hard day's work, come back from the office, put the kettle on and turned on the TV. Then you hear this...
"Have you fallen pregnant?"
"Worried your career or personal enjoyment might be endangered by having a baby?"
"If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we could help you. Infanticide UK, is the country's leading providers of abortions. At a price that's right we can help you kill your child and leave those baby blues behind. Life is cheap and death is easy, so when you want to destroy innocent human life, come to us and we'll kill your baby."
Well, that day is just around the corner. Yes, that's right, the Government, seemingly unembarrassed by the nation's spiralling rates of abortion are set to give the all clear, no pun intended, to abortion clinics to advertise, at any time of day, on the nations TV channels. What will the effect of this policy shift be? Well, given that advertising works and is highly effective all round, one would imagine the effect will be more abortions, more destruction of human life and more depression in women who suffer the psychological after-effects. It will also encourage abortion as a contraceptive step, rather than the option of last resort.
Talking with a friend of mine this morning, Henry, he came up with an idea that would counter the culture of death that seems to have the nation in its hideous grip. E-baby, would be a new company which would provide childless couples who wished to adopt the chance of raising children unwanted by their natural parents. That way, people wouldn't have to shell out so much for IVF treatment, mothers who didn't want babies could be free of the awesome responsibility of which they are afraid and couples unable to have children but who wanted a baby would be able to have one. Also, babies would be allowed to live, rather than be torn limb from limb in an abortion clinic. Henry's written a piece on it too. Click here for his view of the debacle.
Clearly, the Government's chief fear is of rising teen pregnancies, rather than rising teen abortions and so wishes to counter one with the promotion of another. Abortion, remember, like Euthanasia in Switzerland is big business. There is a lot of money to be made out of people's capacity to snuff out human life. Pro-Life organisations, on the other hand, who don't have the kind of money that the abortion lobby do, are not in the financial position to counter the tide of death emanating from the TV screens when the abortion clinics are able to advertise.
Unfortunately, public opinion will only get half the story of what services are on offer if you have an unwanted pregnancy. Life UK provide pre and post abortion counselling, supportive accommodation and practical help to women and couples who are going through the moral dilemnas of the issues of pregnancy and abortion. Unfortunately, they will be unable to counter the demeaning and inhumane advertising of the abortion companies who have profited from the loss of human life and the vulnerability of women who have fallen pregnant at a difficult time in their lives, and that, is a very depressing thing indeed.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
From THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT
It has begun! The U.S. House of Representatives just passed HR 1388 "The GIVE Act" which authorizes the creation of a "voluntary" youth corp, promoted in the public schools across America, in which children will receive official government uniforms and be sent to "camps" where they will learn the basics of social service to the state. The legislation was passed by the House on March 18, 2009. This is Phase 1 of the plan. The legislation will now be passed on to the Senate, where it is expected to receive wide support before it is signed into law by President Obama.
The bill also authorizes an investigation as to how the program might be made MANDATORY for ALL YOUTHS IN AMERICA at some future date. That will be Phase 2. No word yet on when that will come about. Finally, the bill addresses the further study of an axillary program for adults, which will also be mandatory for a certain number of weeks out of the year. This will be phase 3.
Democrats in Congress applaud the legislation as a measure mapping out a national mandate for all citizens to participate in the fine American tradition of volunteerism. Few seem to be concerned that mandatory "volunteer" labor was actually called by another name during the early to middle 1800s, and supposedly prohibited by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. No word yet on how Congress plans to get around that little problem, but we can rest assured their constitutional lawyers are hard at work trying to make it happen.
The problem with this legislation is threefold. First and foremost, it threatens to kill the very thing it claims to promote. Volunteerism is only volunteerism when people participate voluntarily. The moment you make participation mandatory, it is no longer volunteerism. It's sort of like reinstating a military draft and calling it a "volunteer army." It's also a lot like our supposedly "voluntary" income tax system in the United States. The IRS likes to boast about how so many Americans voluntarily submit their tax returns and pay their income taxes every year, but then we all know what happens to those who don't. Yes, volunteerism is a fine American tradition, but Congress by proposing to make it mandatory, threatens to end it all with the stroke of a pen. If Phase 2 and 3 are ever implemented, it will actually spell the end of American volunteerism.
The second problem with this legislation is the nature of the program itself. We must ask ourselves what business the state has in recruiting children for social service work. The comparison is sometimes made to "Hitler's Youth," which was formed in 1920s Germany and remained active until the end of World War II. On the one hand, the comparison is unfair, because as far as we know, the youth corp this legislation creates does not have a racist component. As far as we know, it does not have a military component either, even though one could be added very easily. On the other hand, the comparison is perfectly legitimate because the basic underlying concept is similar. Children are being recruited to serve the state. They will be wearing state uniforms, and going to state run training camps, where they will undoubtedly learn state sponsored indoctrination. That indoctrination may not include the racial darwinism that was characteristic to Hitler's Youth, but it is state sponsored indoctrination nonetheless. That means whatever form this indoctrination takes, it's going to be very pro-government, and may quite possibly be designed to cast suspicion upon anybody who doesn't share the same pro-government views. Jews and Gypsies probably won't be the targets of such suspicion, but social and fiscal conservatives probably will be. That would especially include practicing Catholics and Evangelicals (of course devout and practicing Jews might fall into this category as well). It is likely that indoctrination will be done quietly and subtly at first, so as not to alarm the general public. As time passes however, the indoctrination will slowly become more bold and abrasive. We can rest assured this will happen because of the very nature of government itself. Remember, government programs have a tendency for self-preservation, and those who are involved in them often take a very pro-government political position. So it's only reasonable to assume the youth corp will follow the same pattern.
The third and final problem with this legislation is that Barack Obama himself is the inspiration for it, and based on the campaign speech he gave in July of 2008 (featured above), he made it very clear that a military component is eventually planned for this mandatory "volunteer" security force. How will this manifest? We don't know exactly, but if the American Youth Corp follows the Hitler model; children will be made physically fit, and competitively train in exercises similar to army boot camp, minus combat and weapons training. That is reserved for the adult version of the program.
The only way it could be stopped is if the Senate votes it down. That is not likely to happen. So the time has now come for parents to do some serious reflection. This youth corp is just weeks away from being created. By early to middle 2010, parents may start to see some of their children's school friends going to meet the school bus fully uniformed. Chances are these kids will be indoctrinated with a very pro-government point of view, and might start to hold a suspicion of anyone who thinks contrary, particularly religious conservatives. It is very probable, parents will also begin to notice their own children being pressured to join this program, especially if they attend public school. That alone will be disturbing enough, even if phases 2 and 3 are never implemented.
The UK Government want to monitor our Facebook, Myspace and Bebo profiles to protect us from terrorism.
I always suspected Facebook was a cloaked surveillance operation by the Government to keep tabs on UK citizens. I mean, why bother with round the clock undercover operations when people are telling everyone what they're doing and where they're going anyway under the banner of 'social networking'.
So, in light of this news, it is clear that the Government are fully intent on curbing civil liberties until there is nothing left to curb, under the pretext that it is all for our 'protection' from nasty terrorists. New policies to look out for might include...
Domestic bodyguards: Your very own housemate, employed by the Government, wearing bulletproof vest, with a full range of police accessories such as tazers, teargas and truncheons. You don't have a choice whether he lives with you, but that's okay because he is there to protect you from the nasty terrorists.
Shopper check-in: You need a packet of fags and a pint of milk. You go to the local shop but wait, you need to have your iris scanned and your fingerprint taken in order to purchase them, the information of your visit to the local shop going direct to Whitehall, who are happy to hear you have bought milk and fags without getting blown up by terrorists.
Street Terror Enforcers: A new sub-division of the Community Police Support Officers, will be employed to go around telling people to be hyper-aware of the terror threat, to be very worried and not to enjoy a second of their lives in case they get blown up. They can also fine you on the spot if you drop your cigarette on the pavement.
Terror Level Traffic Lights: Traffic lights take on a whole new meaning. Red no longer means stop, it means, the terror threat is very high, amber means the threat is medium but to be very alert and green means everything is okay at the moment.
Microchipped Arses: Totally and utterly self-explanatory.
Any more ideas? Post them here or send your security measures to the Prime Minister who doubtless will listen to your great ideas to protect us from terror.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
The Government are wondering whether the urban and rural havoc caused by post office closures around the country could be solved by the Church of England, which, unable to preach the Gospel of Christ, due to its irrational inability to adhere to any doctrine that might cause upset or offense to the sensibilities of the Government or anyone in particular, says, 'Splendid idea!'
According to the Telegraph, 'The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, insisted that churches that take on new roles for the wider community will remain primarily places of worship.
He went on: "This is an example of a growing trend to return church buildings to their original function as places of worship and also places of assembly and celebration for the whole of the local community.
"This ancient tradition has in more recent times been overlaid by a distaste for mixing the sacred and the secular but this dichotomy is increasingly being challenged."'
Indeed, Rt Rev Richard Chartres is correct, this dichotomy is increasingly being challenged. The problem is as soon as the CofE is challenged by an aggressively atheistic Government that clearly seeks in its policy to undermine faith in the UK, it rolls over like a cat, and purrs with enthusiasm while the Government strokes and massages it near to death.
If, if, the Government come with this policy proposal to the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Church should politely send the idea back to the Government as unsolicited mail and write 'return to sender' on the back, preferably with a drawing of a middle finger extended towards the original sender. But then, it might depend which Bishop gets the request...
Rt Rev Richard Chartres. The reason that the sacred and the secular dichotomy should continue to exist is that the Church should be a place where people worship God, not a place where you go to pick up a parcel that was too big for the letterbox. What would Christ, who overturned the tables of the market traders in the Synagogue say...perhaps, "My Father's House is a House of Prayer! You've gone and turned it into a post office!"
Monday, 23 March 2009
Find Peter Cushing as Dracula scary? That's nothing! This Government wants buckets of baby blood!
....then get ready for 'Dracula' Science. Human embryos, according to the Independent will be used to make an unlimited supply for infection-free transfusions. I'm speechless and the whole idea actually makes me want to puke all over my flatmate's laptop. This, by the way, is the only computer I can use at home now since my own computer was smote by God with a virus, a lenten Divine punishment for yours truly, who had been looking at things that he truly should not.
'Scientists in Britain plan to become the first in the world to produce unlimited amounts of synthetic human blood from embryonic stem cells for emergency infection-free transfusions.
A major research project is to be announced this week that will culminate in three years with the first transfusions into human volunteers of "synthetic" blood made from the stem cells of spare IVF embryos. It could help to save the lives of anyone from victims of traffic accidents to soldiers on a battlefield by revolutionising the vital blood transfusion services, which have to rely on a network of human donors to provide a constant supply of fresh blood.
The multimillion-pound deal involving NHS Blood and Transplant, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Wellcome Trust, the world's biggest medical research charity, means Britain will take centre stage in the global race to develop blood made from embryonic stem cells. The researchers will test human embryos left over from IVF treatment to find those that are genetically programmed to develop into the "O-negative" blood group, which is the universal donor group whose blood can be transfused into anyone without fear of tissue rejection.
This blood group is relatively rare, applicable to about 7 per cent of the population, but it could be produced in unlimited quantities from embryonic stem cells because of their ability to multiply indefinitely in the laboratory.
The aim is to stimulate embryonic stem cells to develop into mature, oxygen-carrying red blood cells for emergency transfusions. Such blood would have the benefit of not being at risk of being infected with viruses such as HIV and hepatitis, or the human form of "mad cow" disease. The military in particular needs a constant supply of fresh, universal donor blood for battlefield situations when normal supplies from donors can quickly run out.
But developing blood made from the cells of spare IVF embryos will raise difficult ethical issues for people not happy with the idea of destroying embryos to create stem cells. It also raises the intriguing philosophical question of whether the synthetic blood will have come from someone who never existed. In theory, just one embryo could meet the nation's needs.
The Wellcome Trust is believed to have promised £3m towards the cost of the project, with further funding coming from the blood transfusion services of Scotland, and England and Wales. The Irish government is also understood to be involved. A spokesman for the Wellcome Trust said complicated legal issues were still being ironed out between all the parties involved but that an announcement is likely to be made in the coming week.
The project will be led by Professor Marc Turner, of Edinburgh University, the director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. Professor Turner has been involved in studies investigating how to ensure donated blood is free of the infectious agent behind variant CJD, the human form of "mad cow" disease. Several vCJD patients are thought to have contracted the disease by blood transfusions.
Professor Turner was unavailable for comment but a spokeswoman for the National Blood Service for England and North Wales confirmed that negotiations on the joint research project were at an advanced stage and that legal, rather than scientific, issues were holding up the announcement.
The multi-centre collaboration is also understood to involve scientists at the Medical Research Council's Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and Roslin Cells, a spin-off company that has emerged out of the Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996.
Scientists in other countries, notably Sweden, France and Australia, are also known to be working on the development of synthetic blood from embryonic stem cells. And last year, a team from a US biotechnology company, Advanced Cell Technology, announced that it has been able to produce billions of functioning red blood cells from embryonic stem cells. But the US work had been held up because of funding problems dating back to the ban on embryonic stem cell work under the Bush administration. President Barack Obama has since reversed that policy.
In Britain, the project was held up because of the difficulty of finding funding for "translational" research that attempts to take scientific studies in the laboratory into the earliest stages of commercial development. This problem has now been overcome.'
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Today I was able to see my brother and his wife and their new baby, with my parents in London. The baby was premature and is vulnerable at the moment so please say a prayer for her and the family. On the way back my mother told me about Sacramento where formerly middle income earners are now living in tents in Sacramento, USA. When I was at ATD Fourth World in London, it was well known that Fr Joseph Wresinzki was sent to a camp outside of Paris called Noisy-Le-Grand, a camp of dispossessed and poor families born and bred in poverty. This was post war, France and it looked a bit like the picture above. These pictures below are pictures of Recession USA...
Friday, 20 March 2009
While various 'quality' newspapers continue to pour over the words of the Holy Father, who has been heroically preaching the Good News to Cameroonians, and while they continue to lambast him for re-iterating Church teaching and for expanding upon man's spiritual hunger, issuing a challenging call for the humanization of sexuality, rather than its increasing commodification, HIV rates, ironically, continue to rise here in Brighton.
What? HIV rates and sexually transmitted diseases are soaring here? In the UK? In Brighton, the 'Gay Capital of the UK'? Here in the UK? The enlightened nation, in which getting a condom is easier than getting a cup of tea? How can this be?
The press are hammering the Holy Father for suggesting that condoms are not the solution to halting the alarming rates of HIV infection in the World. Has anyone ever considered that the evidence that condoms can halt the alarming rates of HIV infection in Brighton is not that impressive? Heck, maybe the Holy Father has had a look at parts of the West and seen that if the invention and the promotion of the sheath hasn't put an end to staggering rates of infection here, putting aside for a moment the profound theological reasons why contraception is immoral, why on earth would they put an end to staggering rates of infection in Africa?
Gay bars, gay clubs and the whole of gay culture promotes 'safe sex' and raises the rubber johnny to the high altar of HIV salvation, yet the rates of HIV infection are very, very high in Brighton. So, let's look at the possible reasons for how this could be...
a) Gay men in Brighton are not using condoms.
b) Gay men in Brighton are using condoms but they are not a guaranteed safeguard against HIV infection.
Is it possible that the truth of the matter is that some gay men are not using condoms, but some are and they have proven ineffective in stopping the transmition of HIV because they have split during intercourse or have allowed the disease to pass through some other way, because they are not 100% effective, every time? When I was at university a woman I knew got pregnant because during intercourse the condom split. Courageously, because she was Catholic, she had the child. Therefore the Church and in particular, the Holy Father, is absolutely correct when he says that condoms are not the 100% safeguard against HIV infection that many people, and of course, the contraception industry, claim. Furthermore, gay Brighton provides us with ample evidence that the condom most certainly does promote and encourage promiscuity, multiple partners and the risk of exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The simple truth of the matter is that the more people you sleep with, the higher the risk grows of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Keep your todger in your trousers and you won't get HIV or any other STI. This may sound rich coming from a Catholic with a bizarre sexual history but it is true. Every time a man, gay or straight, who is HIV positive has sex with someone, condom or not, he is putting that person at risk of contracting the disease because there is always a risk the barrier could fail.
So then, what is the solution to the high rates of HIV infection in Brighton, especially among the gay community which has put so much trust in the power of the condom to protect individuals against the threat of HIV? Well, perhaps the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is onto something...
"I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant'Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS ... and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.
I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money - which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, money doesn't help. One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem."The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.
Therefore I would say this is our double strength - to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."
The UK Government, not content with banning smoking in public places or anywhere someone might want to smoke, public consumption of a can of beer and taking more than 100ml of toothpaste on holiday, have now taken the drastic step of banning God.
A spokesman for the Government said, "In the end, we had to ban Him. He was a threat to our nation's security and the very idea of God filled us with terror. At this time, in a continued War on Terror, it only seemed appropriate that we should ban a source of great terror to us, namely the Triune God.
Also, He wasn't keen on our multi-faith, diversity agenda which basically says that anything goes and as long as it weakens the standing of Christianity's eternal values of Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Justice and Love, then it should be promoted. Through His Church He spouted outrageous propaganda about gay marriage, abortion, contraception and divorce being immoral and destructive both to individuals and to society as a whole and then He had the temerity to stand up for the poor, lame, unborn, weak and marginalised. For these reasons, He just had to go."
God, when asked about the ban said, "How dare they? The great injustice here is that three persons have been banned here. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all banned from the UK. I may just be One True God, but three persons were banned here, I tell you. Three. All I was doing was blessing people, making them holy, sanctifying them, healing, loving, cleansing and forgiving their sins and then the Government come along and ban Me. Honestly, if I were a UK citizen I'd be worried because if they can do it to Me, they can do it to you."
The Father said, "I tell you, this country is going to pay for this outrage. Oh yes, bigtime!"
The Son said, "Father, forgive the British Government for they know not what they do. I mean, just look at the economy. It's a total shambles."
The Holy Spirit said, "I still hope to touch the hearts of this Government and bring them to repentance, aiding them to restore Our Lady's Dowry to a bedrock of faith and devotion to God."
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
The Holy Father has come in for criticism for suggesting that condoms are not the solution to fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa, implying that they may in fact 'aggravate' the problem. How shocking! Pope disagrees with the use of condoms! What do people expect the Holy Father to say? "A condom a day keeps the doctor away?"
Dishing out condoms to people either in Africa or the West is like giving plasters to haemophiliacs. It isn't a cure, or a solution, and doesn't get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that people are addicted to sex. Lust is like a fire that rages and dishing out condoms to people is like pouring petrol onto the blaze.
It doesn't matter if we're discussing the spiralling numbers of teen pregnancies or the spread of HIV or promiscuity in general. Distributing condoms to people carries the message, "Sexual promiscuity is just fine. Carry on what you are doing, just be careful." If you give a condom to a 13 year old, you are telling him or her that they are ready to have a sexual encounter. If you give a condom to a man in Africa or the West, he will most likely use it as soon as he possibly can.
So, a little personal honesty.
Have I had sex outside of marriage? Yes.
Have I used condoms? Yes.
Would I have reconsidered committing mortal sin if condoms were unavailable? Yes.
Did easy accessibility to condoms encourage me to have promiscuous sex? Yes.
If I had fully exposed myself to the possibility of contracting AIDS/HIV or impregnating someone I really didn't know that well and to whom I was not ready to commit the rest of my life to, would I have continued? Unlikely. I understand we all get caught in the heat of the moment, but I certainly would have thought twice.
Sexual liberation is not liberating but enslaving. Addiction to sex is not helped or solved by the promotion of more value free sex. The Government still think giving condoms to teenagers is a fantastic idea and the only way in which to combat teen prenancies, high abortion rates and the like. What a surprise! It isn't working!
Some people think the invention of contraception was actually liberating for women. What a joke! Contraception actually means that men can put it about more and get their end away without having to worry about actually lovingly devoting themselves to the person they are 'making love to'. The idea that contraception has benefitted women is a total con! It demeans the sexual act and commodifies sex and, in fact, individuals. This is the only age in which nearly everyone pays for sex. It used to be free you know. It is no wonder we in the West are so crap at relationships, when value free sex is abundant, the Sanctity of Marriage, which offers stability and security to human relationships, is thrown out of the window, and large swathes of society are frightened of commitment having had their hearts broken repeatedly by undevoted, selfish lovers who were really only interested in one thing.
Yes, sexual lust is like a fire that doesn't go out. The World cannot stand hearing that the only waters that quench the flames are the waters of Baptism, repentance, prayer and the Holy Teaching and Sacraments of the Church. I'm afraid that the distribution of condoms is merely pouring petrol onto the flames.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government's chief killjoy (he was the one who proposed the smoking ban, to help close pubs and make smokers go out in the pissing rain after we'd just paid £3.20 for a pint) wants to increase alcohol price according to units contained in the bottle/can.
While it is laudable that the Government wants to see less violent drunkenness on the streets of Britain, you do kind of get the feeling that what is at the root of this is the near Talibanisation of the UK. Gordon Brown says this idea of Sir Liam Donaldson's is a bit too much, but adds that the reason he doesn't want to see alcohol increase in price (at this time when Depression is causing depression), is because he doesn't want the 'reasonable, sensible drinking community to be punished for the sins of the irresponsible drinking community.'
So, hands up who is in the 'responsible, sensible drinking community'? I'm certainly not, nor it seems, are any of my friends, who on a Saturday night get royally pissed and end up consoling ourselves with a kebab, only to wake up to it in the morning on our chests. Well, maybe that's just me. You get my point.
So, what is this Sir Liam Donaldson's idea, and Brown's division of the sheep and goats of alcohol consumption really about? It's about snobbery, hypocrisy and blindness to the reality that Brits have always had a bit of an uneasy relationship with alcohol, that we're pent up, frustrated English whose only release from the drudgery of workaholism is alcoholism and that we'll never be so accepting of ourselves as the Spanish, French or Italians. As far as I can see, the grand majority of British people aged between 18-40 at least are pissheads and are by no means 'sensible or responsible drinkers'.
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Barack Obama in his younger days explaining things...
–verb (used with object), -nat⋅ed, -nat⋅ing.
1. to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view
2. to teach or inculcate
3. to imbue with learning
So, it has been a relatively quiet day for me today. I've had a bit of a faffing day, really, sorting out my room when I should be sorting out my head. You know what they say, tidy room, perverted mind.
Anyway, watched a programme tonight about Communism, which I thought was apt given I had been in a discussion with a friend with whom I discussed Our Lady of Fatima's warnings on Communism and the fact that it is plausible it could be on the way back. The programme was very good, and highlighted the real lives of people who lived under it in East Germany. It highlighted the propaganda, the lies, the building of the Berlin Wall.
I wonder if BBC are trying to get us used to it, because as many commentators have suggested, all the signs are that it is on its way back in a slightly more glossy and glamourous fashion. This fear is highlighted in the media with various articles on the blatant curtailing of freedoms in the UK and the US, such as the laws on photography of the police, the smoking ban, the banning of public drinking, CCTV, ID cards and the new policy proposal to monitor the travel arrangements of every single UK citizen.
The most fascinating and the most frightening aspect of Communism was the power of the State to indoctrinate people into believing that the ideology and the functions of the ideology were helping to create that 'Heaven on Earth' utopian society that chaps such as Marx and Engels had envisaged and of which they saw themselves as 'prophets'.
However, I am growing a little tired of banging on about the rise of the State in the UK and the US and the obvious implications that it could have for liberty, be it religious, civil, political or social. If the country has been hijacked by totalitarian monsters then there is probably not that much we can do about it anyway.
What was interesting about the programme was the process of indoctrination that the State in East Germany used upon its citizens. Of course, this accusation too could be levelled at the US and the UK about the 'commies' and fear of all things leftish. However, religious freedom and liberty existed throughout the Cold War in the West, unless you fell under McCarthy's Law. It did not in East Germany really very much at all. Anyway, I'm getting lost digressing again.
The main point is, when I am on Telegraph blogs and the such and an issue of religion comes up, I hear so much the desire to see its influence from public life, school life, any aspect of life banned. Religion, the anti-religionists say, is a purely private matter which should be kept to yourself, because if you teach it to others it isn't fair: 'It's indoctrination!'
Aha! But this precludes the fact that indoctrination is already taking place and if religion were not taught in schools, that in itself would be indoctrination. Which brings me back to the programme tonight. The indoctrination forced upon the children of East Germany was that there was no God, that the State alone was worthy of our adulation and, in the early days of East Germany that Stalin was the figure to look up to. Oh yes, the State of East Germany had them singing songs to Stalin and the Glorious State, built a gigantic wall which was made to look as if the corrupt West was being kept out, rather than they were being hemmed in and that Communism, or at least advanced Socialism was bearing fruit in abundance.
Many people think it very unfair that the Catholic Church should be perceived to indoctrinate children. Yet, the Church is not afraid to declare that the Faith is based on sound, religious doctrines which have been handed down to us by the Apostles from Christ, who is God. Yet, the same people who decry religious doctrine and bewail its presence in any form are the same people who would like to see the indoctrination of the young, the old and anybody else, that there is no God, that all religious belief is superstition and that only a society based upon atheistic materialism or a new social construct will possibly be true and rational.
Every time that religion is banned from the public sphere the proverbial hits the fan. China now is reeling from its 'one child policy'. China is fearful of any religious influence upon the citizens because it is deemed to threaten the hegemony of the State. Soviet Russia and the Eastern Bloc crushed the Church because it was anathaema to their new religion and their new dogma and their indoctrination of the masses that Utopia was on the way. Chairman Mao had little children reading his little red book from as soon as they were able to read until they had joined his militia.
The simple fact of the matter is that society, religious or not, cannot help but indoctrinate the young, middle aged, or old, because the zeitgeist holds sway, especially reinforced through the mass media. No matter what you teach children, they will be indoctrinated. If you teach children that God does not exist, then that is indoctrination. If you teach children not to steal then that is indoctrination. If you teach children not to lie, then that is indoctrination. If you teach children to be kind, then that is indoctrination. The word only means that you are educating children or anyone in particular with a set of values by which you feel they should live for the good of themselves and society at large.
The Church proclaims that Her doctrines are perfect. They teach the fullness of the Moral Law and they teach the fullness of Truth. The Truths of the Faith, the truth as witnessed by Our Blessed Saviour alone are worthy of the title of sound doctrine. Every other doctrine teaches half-truths at best and at worst, lies that will lead the young and old to ruin. Therefore the day that religious doctrine is banned from the public sphere is the day to be very concerned indeed, because it doesn't just mean that religion is absent. It means that another doctrine from man has come in its place. In the case of Communism, then history has borne witness to the fact that things not only get messy, but they also get violent and end up strangulating the very people that the ideology in itself sought to liberate.
This is Marco Antonio Barrera a hardnut, devout Catholic from Colombia. I wouldn't like to be put in the ring with this man. Look at that physique and look at those Rosaries!
This is Amir Khan, British devout Muslim. Has knocked seven bells of the proverbial out of many people. Will he be able to beat the Colombian, or is Barrera, assisted by Our Lady's prayers too powerful?
Ding-ding! Round 1!
...because "Only stone and steel accept his love..."
A return to form for the Mozmeister. I wonder if when he performs this in Wales he will sing, "I'm throwing my arms around Powis."
If you are one of the Clergy you can change the words to reflect your vocation..."I'm throwing my arms around, around my parish because, only God's people, accept Christ's love."
The Cross of San Damiano, through which Our Blessed Lord spoke to St Francis of Assisi, in a way, has much to say about the Church at different points in history. I truly admire the Holy Father, Pope Benedict who is trying valiantly to respond to the echo of the Voice that spoke to St Francis, asking him to, "Repair My Church" or "Rebuild My Church".
I very much think of the work of parish priests, my parish priest being an inspiring example, as being a great witness, a loving and enthusiastic response to those words of Christ, as much as those who feel called to religious life and monasticism. In a way, we are all called to think about those words that Our Blessed Saviour said to St Francis.
This is because God calls us to a radical conversion of life and to live out the true values of the Gospel which, like at most times in history, are counter-cultural and stand up against the values of the World. Our lives, even if we do struggle with our sins, temptations and vices, should be as signs of contradiction to the values of the World, its passing glories and vanities, and most of all, its false and illusory happiness. We know that only Christ can make us truly happy.
So often in history, God has asked people to come forward and boldy witness to those words and do something for Him that rebuilds or repairs the Church. St Francis was a key model and witness of this. St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila also were shining examples of reform of monastic life. This divinely-inspired process is continuing - a great work of the Holy Spirit. While numbers to the Priesthood are not growing as much as many would like, many religious communities are thriving, especially those which offer the most strict and orthodox life, such as the Carthusians and the Franciscans.
Now, after years of liturgical stagnation, Pope Benedict XVI, with all of his strength, wisdom and prudence, is trying to guide the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, towards litugical renewal which will not only strive to see God revered in His Church by His faithful once more, but will also guide the Faithful towards contemplation and the love of God. My feeling is that many vocations will spring from the work of Pope Benedict if it is allowed to flourish and those under his influence respond graciously. We must pray for him and for all the Bishops and Clergy that they will be graced with unity and the desire to see God truly revered and an increase of sound Catholic devotion to fill all of our parishes. And for ourselves too that we may seek God in contemplation and prayer.
Friday, 13 March 2009
Damian Thompson has always had an axe to grind with the Bishops of England and Wales and when I first joined his blog I was utterly mystified as to why he would always draw attention to news stories which implied that those selected by Christ to be Shepherds of the Faithful in England and Wales were not being totallly faithful to either the Magisterium or the Holy Father in his role as Prince of the Apostles. "Damian!" I would say, "Surely there are more important things than this to be discussed?! What about the riches of the Catholic Faith!" Over time, it has become more and more clear that there is a very, very good reason why he comes back to the same theme time and time again.
The riches of the Catholic Faith should be openly shouted from the rooftops every day, of course. But what Damian highlights is incredibly important! Day after day, he rightly draws attention to the plain and simple fact that there seems to be not one Bishop in England and Wales who is willing to stand up and be numbered among those who are loyal to the Holy Father, nor his incredibly wise and judicious reforms of the Church. What is more, it seems it does not matter whether it is Pope Benedict's desire to see an element of reform of the liturgy of the Church, at a time when it is often being liberalised to a point of no return, or whether he wishes to see the SSPX return to the True Fold in the Church, rescinding the sanction to the SSPX that basically amounted to their being cast into outer darkness and regarded as anathaema eternally.
The great and very tragic situation appears to be that the Bishops of England and Wales are not in communion with the Holy Father. Yet, it is not the Holy Father's job to be in communion with either the Bishops, Priests or Laity. The Holy Father has declared that it is time to reform the liturgy of the Church to reflect the Mystery of God, the Glory of Heaven, the Communion of the Saints and most of all, the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. So, releasing Summorum Pontificum, the Pope joyfully declared that this is an exciting time of renewal within the Church for restoring reverence for the great Mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass. 'Oh how exciting', many thought, 'this Pope is very radical!' But, his joyful declaration fell upon deaf ears among certain quarters of the Church who to this day still don't quite 'get it'.
Myself and many, many other Laity actually understand what the Holy Father is trying to do because we've seen so much liturgical abuse around the land. So, if the Laity, who are untrained in the formal workings of Holy Mother Church can understand that - why don't the Bishops of England and Wales? They either do understand why the Holy Father is trying to move liturgy beyond the shallow and secular forms which people experience and put up with on Sundays, and are deliberately blocking reform because they fear both Sacred Tradition and Papal Authority, or they do not understand it at all, wish to be loyal to the Holy Father, but the reasons for the Benedictine reform have to be explained again.
The very fact that the Holy Father had to write a long and beautifully written letter to all the Bishops of the World about the lifting of the excommunication of SSPX is, in itself, scandalous. The fact that the letter (while acknowledging a lack of media savviness on the part of the Vatican and regret over timing of the lifting in the light of a Williamson 'Holocaust-denial' interview available on the web) openly rebukes the Bishops who rose up against the Holy Father is deeply troubling. The Holy Father shouldn't have to so publicly but charitably admonish disloyal Bishops, yet he has to at the same time, for if he doesn't, misunderstanding, division and suspicion will fester. He has realised that there is animosity towards him and is once again reaching out to mollify the wounds and heal the rifts.
Now, as Damian so rightly points out, the Bishops of England and Wales have issued a 'summary' of the Papal letter on their website, a letter instructing them on why he has taken the decision of lifting the excommunication on the SSPX. Unfortunately, their summary disregards the admonition to them and ignores the charitable and pastoral reasons for the lifting of the excommunication, dwelling instead on the healing of Jewish/Christian relations in the light of the row. The healing of this rift is of course something to be glad about. But what about the rest of the letter in which he explained his actions and pleaded for the Bishop's support?
Pope Benedict XVI has to explain his decision to them, yet a great many Laity and Priests understand why he took the decision in the first place - Church unity and the healing of wounds within the Church. You don't have to be a 'scholar' or have access to the Holy Father's mind to understand that.
The very fact that they have issued a 'summary' on the Catholic Communications Network, a summary which conveniently leaves out the all important plea to the Bishops to act in accordance with their vow of obedience to Papal Authority, and encourages them to appreciate the great advantages of lifting the excommunication in terms of a much-needed influx of clergy with a huge desire to serve Christ, is an act of disobedience and a scandal in itself.
It is also a cover up of their own errors of judgment. It is a scandal and demonstrates that the virtues and heavenly attributes of humility, courage and wisdom in Pope Benedict XVI's possession are not in theirs at all. It speaks of a crisis at the heart of the Catholic Church, which, if it continues, threatens the authority of the Church, the stability of the Church and the ability of the Church to witness to Christ: Truth and Love Incarnate!
When Christ returns at His Glorious Second Coming those who now threaten to wound the Church, those who rise up against the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and those who deliberately block his message of reform and his desire to repair the wounds which separate the Mystical Body of Christ, will realise that Heaven never was, is not now, nor ever will be, a democracy. Christ rules supreme, the Head of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop of Rome, maybe describes himself as such, but also he is the Vicar of Jesus Christ and has made his intentions clear. What then, is the problem afflicting the Bishops?
For a link to the Letter from Pope Benedict XVI to Bishops on the lifting of the excommunication on the SSPX Bishops, click here.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
I noticed in a Catholic school newsletter recently that the Bishops' inspiring message of the Gospel of Salvation, sorry, I mean the Gospel of the Environment and Fairtrade is seeping into Catholic education as I read with hearty laughter a Fairtrade Prayer:
"Lord. We pray that we will learn to shop responsibly. Open us to the full impact of our purchases, to the people behind the products. Make us better stewards of creation and more loyal servants of your Kingdom, where the weak are made strong, just; and the just, compassionate. Amen."
Hmm...here's a prayer I composed more apt for Catholic schools:
"Almighty and Merciful God. We pray that Catholic schools may never tire of teaching the Holy Gospel of Salvation to young minds. Inspire within teachers and pupils zeal for Your Holy Gospel and inspire within all school teenagers a love of prayer, the gift of chastity, fidelity to the Church, understanding of the Faith, regular frequency of Confession and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, because when it comes to teenagers, Fairtrade and the Environment is the least of Your concerns."
Harriet Harman MP, bless her, keen to make the atmosphere at the first reading of the Equality Bill has been reported as saying that she would like there to be some disabled people in the Commons gallery when she introduces her the next month.
"And it would help if some of them were black," she is said to have told her officials.
Oh, boy! That is priceless!
Let's give this Bill the name it deserves, the Equalie Bill. The problem with the bill is that it is equality for some but not for others. You can bet that it will be used to curtail religious freedom and expression of religious opinion in the UK in the not too distant future. More generally, however, the great problem with legislation like this is that it creates more of this 'forced' equality, instead of true equality which really comes from within and because of God's love.
Every person is made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, don't kill them, hurt them, injure them or deprive them of wages, no matter if you think they're sleeping with men, women, vegetables, animals or minerals. Why can't they come up with a law like that? There are times however, when people do need to discriminate...
(Knock, knock, knock, Priest opens door)
"Hello and what can I do for you?"
"Well, I would like to use your community centre for a special workshop on Tuesday nights."
"I see, what will it be for."
"Satanism. It's a special workshop called, 'Making the best of satanic worship'"
"Hmm...that is slightly at odd with Church teaching, I'm going to have to refuse."
"You can't refuse, it's discrimination. Look, it's here in chapter 6.66 of the Equality Act."
"Good Lord, you're right. Well, I suppose you'd better come in then and we'll book you in for next tuesday."
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
I usually try to give up tomato ketchup at Lent because it makes average meals tastier and frankly I've always been addicted. A few times I've buckled this Lent, tried to have a meal without it and raced over to the fridge and squirted it all over the meal like a drug frenzied mad man! Lord have mercy!
Conneticut legislates to change the structure of the Catholic Church in that state. This is unprecedented in the US and is certainly a direct attack on the Church.
The Bridgeport Diocese is led by Bishop William E. Lori who is the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. He is a good Bishop and known for his devout faith. He is also the Captain of a ship which has just received a “shot across the bow” meant for the whole Catholic Church in America.
"Raised Bill 1098" is entitled 'An Act Modifying Corporate Law Relating to Certain Religious Corporations'. It essentially removes oversight of parishes from Bishops. It requires the erection of a board of directors which is to consist of 7 to 13 lay members who would be elected. The Bishop or his designee would be an ex-officio non-voting member. In essence, this is a government effort to restructure the Catholic Church! The Press Release from the Diocese explains the facts:
“This past Thursday, March 5, the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, which is chaired by Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven, introduced a bill that directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.
This bill violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It forces a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of our parishes. This is contrary to the Apostolic nature of the Catholic Church because it disconnects parishes from their Pastors and their Bishop. Parishes would be run by boards from which Pastors and the Bishop would be effectively excluded.
This bill, moreover, is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.
The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.
The Pastors of our Diocese are doing an exemplary job of sound stewardship and financial accountability, in full cooperation with their parishioners.
For the State Legislature — which has not reversed a $1 billion deficit in this fiscal year — to try to manage the Catholic Church makes no sense. The Catholic Church not only lives within her means but stretches her resources to provide more social, charitable, and educational services than any other private institution in the State. This bill threatens those services at a time when the State is cutting services. The Catholic Church is needed now more than ever.
We reject this irrational, unlawful, and bigoted bill that jeopardizes the religious liberty of our Church. We urge you to call and e-mail Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor:
Senator Andrew McDonald:
Capitol phone: (800) 842-1420; Home phone: (203) 348-7439
Representative Michael Lawlor:
Capitol phone: (800) 842-8267; Home phone: (203) 469-9725
Related to yesterday's post, a friend of mine, a Catholic, told me yesterday that even though he has been Catholic 7 years, he has been going to a Mormon/Church of Latter Day Saints church for 5 years. Say a prayer for him. The Mormons were set up in the 1800s by a chap called 'Prophet' Joseph Smith who 'realised' that the original Priesthood conferred on the Apostles by Christ had died out after they had died and been lost(????). The true Priesthood of Christ died with the Apostles.
It was re-discovered, (after 1800 years!) in himself and the establishment of a new church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when an 'angel' appeared to him and got him to write a 'guide book,' written on 'golden plates' (???), to accompany the Bible, called the Book of Mormon, which appears to be a bizarre re-writing of the New Testament, with loads chucked out and weirdness chucked in. It's very much a 'born-again' religion and the service seems to involve using bread and water symbolically instead of bread and wine to be consecrated. This is because there are strict dietary laws which forbid tea, coffee, alcohol etc. Say a prayer for him. When I was asking him questions about it the article on the Inquisition was going through my mind. So obviously, I had him handed over to the civil authorities who...
The friend is very vulnerable, impressionable and suffers mental illness. Seriously though, he really now believes that 'prophet' Joseph was the real deal and when I asked him whether he wanted the Book of Mormon, or whether he wanted me to take it away, he said, "No, because I believe what Prophet Joseph says!" Prophet Joseph, I can assure you made a lot of money in Salt Lake City out of his new religion. Say a prayer for my friend. The point is that heretical sects do have a habit of attracting impressionable Catholics, the poor, the depressed, those seeking hope, and heresy destroys true Faith in the individual concerned. The clue is in the book title...The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Err...what was wrong with the Four Gospels? What was wrong with the Holy Church's position as Arbiter and Interpreter of Sacred Scripture? Nothing at all. Problem is, and the US, as we know, had a lot of these chaps, every now and then some fruitcake pops up and says, "No! I got it! Everything the other churches have been saying for years was not the truth. Now I got it! Oh yes! The Angel appeared to me and...so on and so forth."
Christ warned us about false prophets leading the lambs and sheep of the Church into destructive or inhumane heresies or ideologies at odds with Holy Church teaching. While the Inquisitions had their bad points, ultimately it was trying to combat heresy and maintain True Faith from the false prophets of the ages, because as I said in the last post, it can be very damaging to souls indeed.
Monday, 9 March 2009
I understand that more than just books were burned, but bear with me on this one!
A friend of mine just came back from a foreign trip and was questioned quite vigorously on his trip abroad and his reason for a visit. He wasn't sure whether the Customs people were talking about his trip abroad or his reasons for coming to the UK, chief of which, was that he is British. He made it sound something like the British Inquisition. Today, I committed the cardinal offence of Catholic apologeticism and found myself defending the Holy Inquisition on the same Telegraph blogsite I was laying into assisted-suicide yesterday. If you can't see the link between the two issues, read below for, indeed, there is one. I must confess I didn't write the following, but nicked it off someone else's website.
After the Papal Bull 'Ad Abolendam', issued at the end of the 12th century by Pope Lucius III to combat Albigensianism, 'the Inquisition was established in southern France in response to the Albigensian heresy, which found particular strength in the cities of Lombardy and Languedoc. It is important to point out the social dangers presented to all society by this group, which was not just a prototype of modern Protestant fundamentalism, the popular view of our day. The term Albigensian derives from the town of Albi in southern France, a center of Cathar activity.
The Cathars (the name refers to the designation of its adherents as cathaaroi, Greek for the "pure ones") held that two deities, one material and evil, the other immaterial and good, struggled for the souls of man. All material creation was evil and it was man's duty to escape from it and reject those who recognized it as good. The God of the Old Testament, who created the world, which is 'evil', was repudiated. It was the New Testament, as interpreted by the Cathars, that acted as guide for man to free his spiritual soul from evil matter, the body. (So far, so heretical...)
The Cathars thus held that the Mass was idolatry, the Eucharist was a fraud, marriage evil, and the Redemption ridiculous. Before death, adherents received the consolamentum, the only sacrament permitted and this permitted the soul to be free from matter and return to God. For this reason, suicide by strangulation or starvation was not only permitted, but could even be laudable. (Seen the link yet?!)
To preach that marriage was evil, that all oaths were forbidden, that religious suicide was good, that man had no free will and therefore could not be held responsible for his actions, that civil authority had no right to punish criminals or defend the country by arms, struck at the very root of medieval society.
For example, the simple refusal to take oaths would have undermined the whole fabric of feudal legal structures, in which the spoken word carried equal or greater weight than the written. The cause of orthodoxy was the cause of progress and civilization. Had Catharism become dominant, or even had it been allowed to exist on equal terms, its influence could not have failed to become disastrous.'
Now, the first great problem with heresy, that is, the open espousal and preaching of a proselytising theology that undermines the Holy Church and One True Faith, was and remains to this day, that the proponents of these heresies drag souls away from the arms of Holy Mother Church, and therefore God Himself and into the arms of false prophets, led by the Devil, who will only lead them into headlong into destruction, both spiritual and physical.
The second great problem with heresy is that if it becomes the established order or religion of the day, the result can be total chaos, human destruction, mayhem and horror which makes the Inquisition's interrogation of mad religious leaders and their subsequent deaths at the hands of the civil authorities appear like a walk in the park. Heresy, you see, at this time in history was winning converts and especially Albigensianism, which, as you can see by the grotesque theology espoused, was inhumane, devoid of God's unconditional love for humanity, devoid of any humanity, deforming to the human person and actually suicidal. Remember Waco? Well these guys were not that far off.
At the time of this Holy Inquisition (coming to the Spanish one in a mo'), it really was a case of "Houston, we have a problem!" Much as the Holy Crusades are derided as being terribly cruel and nasty, just like the Inquisition's interrogation and trial under menace of bizarre heretics, the issue of Islamic troops murdering Christians on their way to the Holy Land needed addressing. The Popes of the times had to address these issues.
Pope's advisors: "Your Holiness! The Islamic forces are killing Christians on their way to the Holy Land to revere the footsteps of Our Blessed Saviour and the Mysteries of the Incarnation. Holy Father, what are we going to do!?"
Pope: "Ah, just leave them be. Honestly, they're nice! They've just got funny ways, you know. It's their culture. Let's ignore the problem and hope it goes away."
Pope's advisors: "Your Holiness! The Albigentians are winning converts in France by the tens and hundreds, possibly thousands. They're mental! They say marriage is wrong, the whole World is evil and endorse suicidal fasting as a sure-fire way to Heaven! If we don't do something about this, Holy Mother Church will be destroyed in France soon, the souls of many will be in the hands of ravening wolves and eventually, if we don't act, it will become the State religion and they'll all be barking mad Cathars and it's unlikely anyone will ever breed! What's more, Holy Mother Church will most likely be made illegal if they become more entrenched!"
Pope: "Oh, it'll be alright, don't worry. I know they're a bit kooky, but hey! Lighten up! What time's the football on Brother Benedict?"
No, in both cases the Popes said, "Outrageous! They can't do that! We must fight!"
If only His Holinesses of the time could have turned the other cheek, one could argue. Hmm...yes, but how long before militant Sharia Islam, which was rapidly spreading, covered the whole of Europe? By the time of the last Crusade, it was the Polish forces that defeated the Turkish forces at the gates of Vienna. If they hadn't, the freedoms you and I take for granted now would have long ago disappeared, I wouldn't be able to go to Mass, there'd be no Church, you wouldn't be able to do yoga, or have a pint down the local and our main enjoyment out of life would be watching adulterers getting stoned to death on a Saturday afternoon for sport.
Similarly, if the Holy Inquisition had not been launched in defence of true Chrisitanity in the 12th century the flock of Christ in France would have fallen into the hands of lunatics, hell-bent not only on destroying the Church, but dragging the beloved souls of Christ into self-destructive cults. The Pope, remember, the Successor to St Peter, has ringing in his ears the words of Christ who said to St Peter, "Peter, do you love me? Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." If ravening wolves are breaking into the Church and gobbling up Christian lambs and sheep, the Holy Father can't just stand by and watch them get drawn into suicidal sects. Christ has charged him with being the Guardian of Souls entrusted to him.
Historians note four periods of Inquisitions (at least, the one on Wikipedia does).
1. the Medieval Inquisition (1184- 1230s)
2. the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)
3. the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821)
4. the Roman Inquisition (1542- ~1860)
So let's skip a couple of hundred years and get onto the Spanish Inquisition, the nasty Cathars having presumably had a good hiding and fading into obscurity. Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile established it the Spanish Inquisition - not the Pope. The lesson is - never trust the Laity to organise anything! In Christendom, which all of Europe by this age was, heresy was punishable by the State. It was up to the Church to give trial to decide who was or who was not heretical.
The Spanish Inquisition was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the medieval inquisition which was under Papal control. So this time the Pope acquiesced but did not instigate it. The new body was under the direct control of the Spanish monarchy and was designed to defend orthodoxy among new converts from the Muslim and Jewish communities. Here, I must admit, things become darker on the part of the Church. Even St Teresa of Avila, the Spanish mystic nun was interrogated. There is no avoiding the admission that things got well and truly out of hand. Remember, St Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake at the behest of her local Bishop, whose bones were dug up and thrown into the river, once the city discovered it, and even St Pio of Pietrelecina more recently was banned from celebrating Mass because of his fame and Miracles.
Similarly, the Portugese Inquisition started in 1536 at the request of the King of Portugal, João III. Manuel I had asked Pope Leo X for the installation of the Inquisition in 1515, but only after his death (1521) did Pope Paul III acquiesce. This too was pretty dark and gruesome.
So how does the Catholic apologetic try and explain all this? Well, the idea was and for Catholics true to the Magisterium still is, that the Deposit of Faith, the Faith handed down by Our Lord, God Incarnate, to the Apostles themselves was Pure, Holy and unalterable. In the Early Church, heresies were abounding then too. In fact, the Church has always been battling with heresy and schisms since the time of the Apostles. St Paul himself identifies some in his letters. It was only when the Church had grown in power and influence by the 12th to 16th century and was established throughout Christendom and became friends with the State that things got messy and violence was meted out when heretics were handed over to civil authorities following trial.
The idea was that the defence of the Deposit of Faith, the Magisterium, was so very vitally important to the Salvation of sinners and the protection of Holy Mother Church, that it must be defended - that is God and His Church - must be defended at any cost. Why? Because heresy was seen as not just bad for the Church, bad for Catholic communicants and bad for society, but a destructive evil of itself which, if fully unleashed would cause unprecedented mayhem, anarchy and diabolical horror upon all.
Of course, in due course, the power and influence of the Church declined, then also, quite quickly the power of monarchies declined, we had the Reformation, the Counter Reformation and the French Revolution and the Church and State separated, never to be joined again, and, soon enough, heresy against Holy Mother Church was never to be a matter for the civil authorities to deal with again.
"Hurrah!" I hear you cry! "Thank God! The Church was finally put in its place and heresy trials are a thing of the distant past! Oh Lord, what a relief!"
While the Church may have been humbled and weakened (especially following the French Revolution, when the Jacobins, spearheaded by Robespierre and his 'Reign of Terror' had many, many Catholic priests, nuns, laity and bishops and aristos sent to death), but 'Enlightenment' thought emerged victorious from the popular ideological battle and 'democracy' was born in Parliaments around Europe. Enlightenment thought threw off the shackles of the 'old order', the dark Church of the previous age, establishing a 'new order' of enlightened progressive thinking, liberalism and a 'brotherhood of man' without God.
Not that long after the Church and State separated entirely all across Europe, the State reigned supreme and began to flex its muscles without recourse to the Church. It didn't take too long before this happened. Not sure these figures are right, but here goes:
World War I - 15 million dead
Russian Civil War - 9 million dead
World War II - 55 million dead
The Holocaust - 6 million dead
Vietnam War - 1.7 million dead
Abortion deaths, Worldwide - Unquantifiable, because the numbers go up and up every day.
These figures don't take account of a lot more horror, mayhem and destruction caused by the great heresies of the 'Enlightenment' - That man reigns and God is dead - The State reigns supreme and the Church can do nothing. "Hah!" they thought. The Enlightenment thinkers loved that, I'm sure.
People always say the Church didn't do enough for the Jews in the Second World War. Well, listen up. By the time Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Stalin, that mini-quartet of Euro-psychos had their cults of personalities respectively endorsed by the millions of their populations and reigned supreme with the full power of the State and the influence of the Holy Mother Church with the State all but vanished, what did people expect from the Church - the same Church that had warned us through history of the dangers of heresy?! She tried her best, she sheltered many Jews, but the great link between Church and State had been destroyed by the profoundly phyrric and hollow victory of heresy.
The 20th century was an age of unprecedented mayhem, destruction, unfathomable human cruelty, war, strife, disaster and bore witness to mankind's ability to forget God, His laws and Holy Mother Church's warnings on murderous ideologies entirely. Once the Church loosened from influence with the State the State became all powerful. Who was and is now in charge of the State? Heretics. Who will lead Europe, the US and possibly the whole world headlong into destruction once the economic disaster brings up the next Cult of Personality/Earthly Saviour figure? I'll tell you who: Heretics.
The very people the Church tried to quash are now in charge and running the show and people still persist in thinking that the Church was the bad guy and the heretics were poor little fluffy meek creatures into arts and crafts. No, they're not now and they never were. They're out for themselves, they are out to destroy the Church, to drag as many souls as possible away from her and to unleash the full diabolical fury of their heresy upon us all.
Because they deny the Divinity of Christ, strip man of his dignity and humanity, believe people are only have purpose if they are economically viable, because they think marriage (at least traditional marriage) unnecessary, think procreation is wrong and espouse assisted suicide, abortion, eugenics and a whole Culture of Death that surrounds them, all the Church can do now is continue to fight them in Her Holy teaching and hope people listen. So, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say, the worst excesses of the Inquisitions were appalling, but looking back, the Church's policy was one of containment and isolation of the wickedness of heretical ideologies. What we have seen in the last century, what we have now from the State and what is to come...Well, God alone knows...
Anyway, say what you like about the Inquisition. All I know is: they would have put a stop to this being used in Sacred Liturgy at Holy Mass, which unfortunately, I experienced last weekend (not at St Mary Magdalen's)...
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