Thursday 30 September 2010

Catholic Voices Blog Attacks John Smeaton

Below is the appalling new post by the author of the Catholic Voices blog. Who could have penned such nonsensical nastiness? My emphases, bold, purple.

'According to John Smeaton of the lobby SPUC, Catholic Voices seeks "to redefine the common perception of what constitutes mainstream Catholicism in England" (This criticism, he actually levelled at Dr Ivereigh himself). Behind this conspiracy, he asserts, lies The Tablet. And his reason for believing that CV coordinators Ivereigh and Valero share this aim? Why, "Dr Ivereigh's loyalty to The Tablet" -- on the basis that he refused to accept a blogger's invitation to describe the weekly as a "vehicle for dissent".

Indeed, Smeaton's attempt at an auto-da-fe on this question (Isn't that the phrase Austen used repetitively on my blog's comments box?) -- because Ivereigh reads The Tablet (as he does other Catholic papers), "he should not be appointed to any representative position in any official or unofficial Catholic or pro-life/pro-family organisation" -- is typical of the mentality of many in the blogosphere who call for the banning of people they regard as "heretical", even when there has been no such call or declaration by those whom the Church's own law entrusts with the authority to do so (Yes. If only the Bishops would act upon the advice of Pope Benedict XVI and 'recognise dissent for what it is'). Catholic Voices considers this attitude unacceptable in a Catholic organisation, which is why it excluded those who shared it from being part of the project.

Last June the bishop who chairs the US bishops' conference's communications committee gave a talk on what it means to be a faithful Catholic media organisation. During his talk Bishop Gabino Zavala noted:

As I talked with brother bishops in preparation for this presentation, there was consistent agreement that one aspect that is most alarming to us about media is when it becomes unchristian and hurtful to individuals. For example, we are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.

Smeaton has long considered himself a guardian of the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, scouring the statements of bishops in search of "heterodoxy", frequently misquoting them or distorting their words in ways that undermine the authority of the Church's pastors. He has consistently criticised the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, in ways that in the view of Catholic Voices is quite inconsistent with the Catholic commitment to communion. 

John Smeanton does not have to scour too hard in order to find a degree of heterodoxy in some of the words of some of our Bishops. The 'I don't knows' and 'I couldn't possibly comments' in response to questions concerning Church Teaching from women's ordination to gay marriage from certain high profile members of the Hierarchy could be nervous ticks, I suppose. We would all feel nervous in the spotlight, of course, but the Holy Father has asked, and we in obedience to him and the Magisterium he guards, ask, our Bishops to be bold and forthright in proclaiming the Gospel. It really is not too much to ask. If I, as a mere layman, 'um-ed' and 'ah-ed' on this blog, half as much as some ordained members of the Hierarchy in response to such questions, I would expect to be roundly condemned and rightly so.

Far from considering himself a 'guardian of the limits of Catholic orthodoxy' John Smeaton has upheld the Magisterium and defended it publicly on his blog, while notable writers in The Tablet and notable figures in influence in the Hierarchy have felt unable to do so, either lacking in essential formation in the Catholic Faith or displaying a degree of dissent from that Faith that they have the duty to uphold and defend. In particular, we can see this in the way in which Smeaton condemns the flagrant selling out of Catholic education via the CES to the previous Government's anti-life agenda with regard to the promotion of homosexuality, abortion, contraception and all those thorny issues that crowned Our Blessed Lord and caused His Head to issue Blood. He battles day after day for the Church, for the unborn and for the Pope and the Magisterium, just as the Bishops should do. When the possibility of teenage girls in Catholic schools being provided with contraceptives and abortions through Connexions turns from possibility to actuality, are Catholics to remain silent while The Tablet has a debate about the differing rights of a mother and baby?

'We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church'

Yes, I am sure that both in the US and in the UK, that is very true, but, Catholic Tradition suggests that it is not Catholic bloggers defending the Magisterium who will shatter the communion of the Church. As Fr Ray Blake says in his blog, 'In 1535, all the English Bishops, except St John Fisher, who might well have been described as a "Taliban" Catholic by Ivereigh, sold out the Church'. In the Great Apostasy, prophesised by Pope St Gregory the Great I, the Pope said that on the appearance of the Antichrist, 'not just hoards of laity but a veritable army of Bishops and Priests' will go over to him.

There, Dr Ivereigh, we have two very good warnings, one from the past and one regarding the future, to commend and congratulate Bishops when they uphold the Teaching of the Church and to be doggedly critical of them when they do the exact opposite because while Pope Benedict XVI's trip was a joyous success in which he routed his enemies, we are without doubt living in dangerous times for both the Church and the World. 'Taliban Catholics' are not critical of either The Tablet, the purveyors of moral relativism outlined in the post below, or prominent Bishops, because we are 'nasty' people. If 'Taliban Catholics' are critical, it is because we desire the salvation of souls and the liberty and exaltation of the Church, as every Catholic should, from Pope down to Laity up.

Clifford Longley Funds New Bus Campaign to Roll Out in Autumn

Yesterday, I managed to obtain a 'complimentary special supplement' of the Papal Visit to the UK produced by The Tablet, written prior to His Holiness's arrival.

Catherine Pepinster gives her 'message from the editor' at the beginning, telling us that the articles in the 'complimentary special' (that's 'free'), give you a 'flavour' of the magazine itself. 'If you like what you read', she begs, 'you may want to consider taking out a subscription. A form can be found on page 31.'

Oh dear! Sales still going through the floor then after all these years! Looks like they can't give it away! Inside is a collection of writing, nova et vetera, by such Catholic heavyweights as Edward Stourton of the BBC, John L. 'Flippin' Taliban Catholics!' Allen Jr, Mgr Roderick Strange, Michael Glover and John Cornwell. Gosh, what a dazzling array of talent!

Anyway, J.L Allen Jr's article, from September 2004, on Benedict XVI, is, for a publication designed to 'celebrate the historic visit to Britain of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI', rather less than celebratory, giving us an analysis of Cardinal Ratzinger's career and laying it out as something akin to a list of crimes, ending the piece by suggesting that, '...The idea that there exists a single entity out there called "the Vatican", with one mind and one will and hence only one view on any issue, has always been essentially a myth.'

What he didn't write, of course, is 'Oh, but if only they did! How long, O Lord?! How long?!' The insinuation is that as a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger never put up or shut up on moral issues of the day and never stayed away from 'controversy', making various public pronouncements defending the Magisterium, while these 'views' were not shared by vast swathes of the rest of the Vatican. This may be so because it is likely that even now the Pope is encircled by liberal scallywag Cardinals, possibly with funny handshakes, but then that is why The Tablet's editoral team suffered multiple heart attacks when the leader of the Catholic Mujahadeen and staunch defender of Doctrine, Jospeh Ratzinger, stepped out as Pope Benedict XVI on that glorious sunny day of 19th April 2005.

So far, so 'celebratory', but here comes the amusing piece which was published in 2006 by Clifford Longley on Mozart, presumbaly because, er, he was a German too. It was while reading this that it struck me that Clifford seems to be unable to write even a paragraph without dissenting from the Magisterium, which goes to show that heresy really is a condition or perhaps disease, rather than an unfortunate error or series of errors that we, as sinners, are prone to make. This paragraph sums up all you really need to know about The Tablet, its editorial staff, loyal if long in the tooth supporters and subscribers...

'But there is another dimension of Mozart's music that appeals to the Catholic soul: its freedom and simplicity inside a framework of order. That is what Catholicism is. It is an ideal antidote to the common Catholic anxiety about doctrinal deviance. What modern Catholics most lack is the permission to think outside the box. We are too afraid of getting it wrong, which leads to a whole host of other mistakes that one might term neurotic super-orthodoxy. One consequence is that those who have thoughts outside the box think that they are stepping outside the Church by having them. Thus has institutional religion corrupted the "freedom of the sons of God".'

The man who wouldn't recognise dissent for what it is if it walked into a bar, introduced itself as Mr Dissent and asked if he'd like a pint of dissent, continues...

"This anxiety is largely self-imposed and internalised. One of the causes, however, is external: the belief that all Catholic minds must think alike and that there is one true answer to every question and all the others are false, wrong, heretical and dangerous. That is, in a nutshell, unMozartian."

Since when was Mozart the defender of the Infallible Teaching of the Church? Last I heard, he was a very talented composer who liked a good party and dived into freemasonry only to find himself out of his depth. Clifford ends his column by telling the Pope to make the bonkers genius a Saint.

"And if we need to hear this message - rather more than we need to hear the message of some elevated to the altar by John Paul II (What? You didn't like St Josemaria Escriva?) - what stands in the way of Mozart's canonization? He was a moral man in his private life, recklessly generous, humble, loving and he died poor. Do we need more evidence of a popular "cult", in the canonisation sense of the word, than we already overwhelmingly have? Or of daily miracles? And who better to preside at such an event than the Mozart man in the Vatican?"

Uh-huh. There. What a compliment! Pope Benedict XVI -  The 'Mozart man in the Vatican'. Only The Tablet could offer a free, complimentary magazine supplement to 'celebrate' the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in the UK, put His Holiness on the front cover and pretend that they are loyal and obedient servants, only to reproduce a load of columns which paint him in a broadly negative light and attack the very Body of Church Teaching that he guards daily as being 'inflexible'. Whatever anyone tells you...Don't buy, subscribe to, touch and certainly don't take The Tablet! It is impossible to subscribe to The Tablet and the Teachings of the Church simultaenously for you will either hate the one and love the other, or sustain the one and despise the other.

As readers of this blog will know one such subscriber to the magazine is Austen Ivereigh, who is clearly so rattled by the criticism of certain Catholic bloggers that he's now launched a propaganda offensive on the Catholic Voices blog against the Director of 'the hardline lobby', SPUC, John Smeaton. What an insult to unborn children! I suppose that the SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) is a 'hardline lobby' to Austen, what with the organisation suffering absolutely no confusion whatsoever with regard to the issue of abortion and all...How long, O Lord...How Long? I've read the Catholic Voices blogpost and it looks very much like Austen has either taken to dictating his 'media rebuttal' to Jack Valero, or he has begun describing himself in the third person while updating his blog...

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Survey Suggests Catechesis Not Going So Well

According to The Telegraph

'Almost half of Catholics surveyed did not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion actually become the body and blood of Christ.' 

This was a US study into the knowledge of religion comparing that of atheists, agnostics and religious believers. No 'only in America' comments, please, because, let's face it, it is highly likely that there is a similar ignorance of Church Teaching in the UK as well.

The Holy Father very much desires an 'educated laity'. This study gives us more evidence as to why.

Monday 27 September 2010

"Is He a Fanta Drinker?"

I think its a nice, subtle way of asking whether Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, Religious Communities and Catholics in public life are loyal to the Pope and faithful to the Magisterium.

Just ask, "And what about ____________? Is/Are he/she/they (a) Fanta drinker(s)?"

Of course, the term, "Catholic" should really suffice, but nowadays there are so many Catholics in positions of influence whose words and beliefs do not reflect the Church's Teaching that it is really worth creating a euphemism.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Nice Work if You Can Get it...

Pictured left is The Garrick Club. My friend George used to work there as a barman when he lived in London.

Apparently, it is the place for authors, politicians, musicians, celebrities, actors, high profile journalists, CEOs and the rest to meet, drink and, one imagines, formulate Government policy.  It operates something of a discriminatory policy...

"It would be better that 10 unobjectionable men should be excluded," decided the committee of the 178-year-old Garrick Club when it drew up its original criteria for membership, "than one terrible bore should be admitted..."

...a policy still in operation, as the Channel 4 head found to his disappointment. It's a policy which, I guess, circumvents Government legislation on grounds of discrimination quite nicely, somehow. According to The Independent (and George who used to serve politicians until 4 in the morning)...

"Ladies" are only permitted to accompany members to lunch or dinner as their guests and are excluded from the cocktail bar.
So, basically, I would not get in. George might not get in. Lazarus definitely wouldn't get in. Dives most certainly would. You might not get in. However, I bet this guy does...

According to The Telegraph...

'After leaving his Brussels job in Oct 2008, the Labour peer is still receiving a "transitional allowance" of £103,465 a year, which is funded by the taxpayer. The payment of £8,622 (€10,139) a month is set at 50 per cent of his former salary as European trade commissioner, a stipend paid at low rates of "community tax".

Despite being only 56 and highly employable, Lord Mandelson is entitled to claim the allowance until Oct 2011.

According to the House of Lords register of interests, dated Sept 20, the allowance and royalties from his new Labour memoir, The Third Man, are sole sources of income. Serialisation rights for the book are said to have been £400,000 alone. He is also entitled to claim a £86.50 daily subsistence when he attends the Lords.

"The aim of this system is to ease their return to the labour market, to maintain their independence after their time as commissioner," said a Brussels spokesman. "We want to help them so they don't have to jump on every job offer on the way."

The allowance is only stopped if Lord Mandelson gets a new job at a salary grade above his former Brussels rate of over £205,000 a year.'

£86.50 subsistence a day and the guy is minted! Paid by the taxpayer! The average 'jobseeker' gets about £65.45 a week, to live on, pay bills, heating, electricity, water and food and the Government is looking to cut benefits to the poor! Start with Pete and work your way down boys and girls! That would be justice!

George told me he was willing to bet his right arm that the smoking ban in operation throughout the UK is not in operation at The Garrick Club. I can't say it is or it isn't, obviously, what with not being able to see, but, it wouldn't surprise me if it was one rule for 'them' and another for 'us'. £30 cigars were most popular when George was working there, apparently. I can't, somehow, see the membership giving them up overnight. Everytime I read about Mandelson, or Blair for that matter, I suddenly sympathise with Robespierre and experience a great yearning for the return of 'la guillotine'. It's a shame a certain Cardinal didn't execute more prudence when he gave Blair a fast-track conversion course into the Church without checking whether he had renounced his anti-Catholicism.

As a rule, I don't have a great problem with exclusive clubs, I just don't like the criteria. Perhaps we could start one in Brighton...

"Are you skint? No? Sorry, mate, you can't come in. Oh, but I see you've come with someone who is...Welcome, sir, please, choose a tie! Everybody! Calm down! The next round is on this guy!"

The Most Fascinating Statistic Yet Revealed...

Read the full story in, cough, sorry, The Daily Mail, though The Independent have covered this too...
UK's homosexual population size revealed: Just 1.5% of Britons say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
I had thought it was 1 in 10...Oh well, perhaps that was just propaganda after all. 1.5 % of the UK...According to the Mail, that's about 1 in 100 people identify as L, G, or B .

According to the Census of 2001, out of a total population of about 60 million, about 1 in 12 people in the United Kingdom is Catholic. So why is this not reflected in Government policy, Government think-tanks or in just who the Government listens to? Perhaps it is a case of whoever shouts the loudest is heard...

How can it be that just 1.5 % of the population are running the BBC and other mainstream media outlets? Credit where its due! You can say what you like, but that's an incredible work rate and tireless effort on behalf of the cause! If only we Catholics were so devoted!

According to The Independent...

'The most commonly used previous estimate was 6 per cent which was cited by ministers when civil partnership legislation was introduced in 2005.' 

It's really very, very clever. If only Catholics were so organised and media friendly. We need to get the Holy Father here every year to convince society that we're everywhere! Oh...we are, just we're so passive!

We need to be a relatively small but vociferous minority in society, but still be larger than the gay population...which, er, we are.

The Marx Brothers

There were two in contention but while this guy may have just got elected as Labour leader, I don't think he's got what it takes to get Labour elected again. Good job too.

Well done Labour Party, you've elected an unelectable Marxist ideologue as your new leader...Good work! Anyway, just to see his voting record, here it is below, for more click here...

Voted moderately for replacing Trident.
Voted moderately against greater autonomy for schools.
Voted very strongly for more EU integration.
Voted for removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords.
Voted very strongly for a wholly elected House of Lords.
Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
Voted a mixture of for and against a transparent Parliament (That's an 'opaque' Parliament, then?)
Voted very strongly for introducing a smoking ban (Nazi!).
Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war (Oh dear, that'll be popular!).
Voted very strongly for allowing ministers to intervene in inquests (Nothing to hide, then?).
Voted very strongly for a stricter asylum system.
Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards (He's in the global new world order fruit 'loop').
Voted a mixture of for and against laws to stop climate change.
Voted very strongly for equal gay rights.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Hardcore Letter to the Bishops of England and Wales...

All the Little Epsilons has written a letter to the Bishops of England and Wales. It is ripe for signing...

'Dear Bishops of England and Wales,

Many of us so-called Taliban Catholics have been severely disappointed in your over-willingness to negotiate with the state about how our Catholic adoption agencies should be allowed to operate, and how our schools should explain the facts of life to our children.

Like many millions of people in this country and around the world we are very proud and happy at how the British people have taken The Pilgrim from Rome to their hearts.

We are prepared to, metaphorically-speaking, bury the hatchet and truly welcome the words of Archbishop Vincent Nichols this weekend following our Holy Father's visit.

Furthermore, we would like to offer our services to you, bishops, to assist you in a renewed effort to bring the message of Christ to all. Many of us are people who lost our way in the past, lured by the "freedom" of the 60s and the decadence of the decades which followed. A few of our number have knelt patiently in the pews during the last five decades saying Rosary after Rosary, never giving up hope that England would be saved.

In practical ways we would like to help you.

Please let us know how you would like us to organise: open prayer days in our local churches, where we pray the Rosary, have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, facilitate our priests to be openly available to hear confessions, sing prayerful hymns, and attend Holy Mass devoutly.

We could easily have reruns of the TV clips of the UK Papal Visit in our parish halls, engage discussion groups on what the Pope has said to all his audiences: the children, the teenagers, the politicians, other faith groups, the teachers, the population at large, the Faithful, the priests, the bishops.

All this, along with inviting all (Catholic and non-Catholic) to join a choir learning Gregorian Chant. Even if we don't know it - we can learn. We can set up home groups for learning how to say The Rosary, and Gregorian Chant with all the facilities that are available on the internet.

Benedict has beautifully called us to be happy and praise God. He has shown us that hatred can be turned into respect in the space of four days!

Most especially we speak to the Anglican bishops who are leading their people back to Rome, we welcome you with open arms and look forward to receiving the wealth and beauty of your spiritual traditions into our Church.

Let us sing together and be happy despite our different poverties! And may God Bless us all!

Neither let us forget the great work being done right now and endeavour to swell the number of those praying at a vigil in London for the 40 days for Life and/or adding our name online for praying at home if we are unable to get to London.'

We remain your humble and obedient servants. Great letter. I'm signing!

Making the Catholic Faith More Visible...

According to ITN News

'Catholics are to be encouraged to make their faith more visible by saying "God bless you" and making the Sign of the Cross more often.

The advice, in a letter from the Archbishop of Westminster, comes a week after the Pope's state visit to Britain. The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the historic four-day trip by Benedict XVI brought "such joy" and gave "a great boost to so many", providing believers with "new heart" for their mission.

He called on Catholics to respond to the Pope's hope that they will become "ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people. With the blessings of this visit we can be more confident in our faith and more ready to speak about it and let it be seen each day," the Archbishop wrote. "A small step we can all take is to be quicker to say to others that we will pray for them, especially to those in distress."

The pastoral letter will be read out in Westminster Cathedral and in 213 other parishes in the diocese of Westminster this weekend.'

So, the next time you go to work, go over to a colleague, perhaps at tea break, tap them on the shoulder, make the Sign of the Cross while saying, "God bless you!" and tell them quickly, "I'm going to pray for you!" Continue doing this with different colleagues on a daily basis and you'll have made the Faith more visible. It might be that your colleagues think you're a freak, but you'll have made the Faith more visible. Of course, it you're a Taliban Catholic and you're feeling brave you could always start a blog and give the link to friends and colleagues, but whatever you do, don't be critical of hierarchy who are compromising with modernity or who don't see the Catholic truth as you see it. Your colleagues will still think you're a freak, mind, but some might just understand where you're coming from...

Processions and Devotion

I'm sorry for being cynical but Catholics need to be even bolder and 'reclaim the streets' in order to resurrect the traditional practise of pilgrimmage and processions. Gay Pride has hundreds and thousands of people come to Brighton and by the end its a mess with people falling over and sicking up, smashed bottles and cans everywhere. At least when Catholics process we take a statue of Our Lady around the streets and clean up after ourselves and we're actually truly joyful because of the power of the Blessed Virgin's intercession.

We are Catholics. We are hardcore. We are the Church Militant. Our weapons are love, prayer and vast a vast ammunition belt of Rosaries. Peter has come, we have been strengthened and now its time to reload. We're not just meant to be 'nice'.

Jeffery Steel has drawn up a delightful petition to thank the Holy Father for visiting us. You can show your gratitude to His Holiness by commenting in his blogpost.

If You Want to Know Why 'Teen Pregnancy Strategy' is Failing, then Read This...

An anonymous comment from ages ago that I just discovered. Nothing speaks like real life stories...

'I had to abortions first the condom broke and we werent in a proper relationship i already had a 2 years old son whos dad abandom him i coultn affort to have another one and also was an accident, i was goin to have another abortin a week ago but i end up having a misscarriage , my boyfriend back then isnt emotionally stable to rase a baby and my son who is 4 needs me, we thout was goin to be a good idea till i realise my ex only wanted to be on his own and thinks of himself, so people like me can have babies i think is for the best, i dont thin 15 years old girls should get pregnant and live on benefit, since my son is been born im not free to do what ever i want im more responsable and also i m working wich at times is dificult, im on my own, thats why i think many woman choose abortions, itsnt right to do but is the best option for unwanted babies, my son was a wanted baby and i love him to bits men run away as soon women get pregnant so babies should be born in a loving and stable grown up family.thats my opinion, im not psycologic damage for the abortion, im damage because my sons dad left us but life goes on.'
Time for the Government to re-think? Condoms don't need 'tiny holes' in them to fail. If a ship has just one crack the whole thing can sink and cause casualties, but then no Government policy, nor the Church, nor even God Himself can make boys into men and men into men who truly love women enough to be devoted husbands and fathers. Such things can be promoted, but it is a daily choice that is presented to us and we can choose Life...or Death.

Friday 24 September 2010

Equal Employment Rights for People Who Dress Terribly!

I sympathise, love, I sympathise. The same thing happened to me today.

The Difference Between Poland and England... that the Poles recognise abortion for what it is.

As 40 Days for Life begins in earnest, it is worth highlighting the extent to which the UK has fallen for the lies that emanate from the heart of the abortion industry.

If only people could see the money that is made from the industry and those who profit from the human catastrophe of abortion and if only people could know how terrible the reality of abortion is.

The Brits, however, unlike the Polish, have for over 40 years now enjoyed something of a torturous, entangled, passionate and lengthy affair with 'termination', so when someone comes along and shows the gruesome graphic reality, as a Polish pro-life group did in Poland last year without reproach in the image above, feathers are most certainly ruffled. The Abort67 group of protestors have managed to get themselves in the newspapers. The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Argus, no less, have all covered the arrest and removal of banners depicting the truth about abortion by Sussex Police and, apparently, the co-ordinators of the campaign have received quite a deal of positive feedback through the publicity on their website, which I won't link to, because, lets face it, do you really want to go to a website's home page only to see a snuff video on arrival?

Anyway, just to prove to you how easy it is to be Bono, I've videoed me doing one of my songs, entitled 'De Profundis'. What you do is, you take your depression, angst, repressed sexuality and other things teenagers go through but 32-year-old men should have come to terms with, you write a song about it, string some chords together (with a capo, because you can't play in another key without one), add some vague yearning for God and spirituality, only to later realise that Oscar Wilde wrote something with the same title and then say, "This one's about abortion" and stick it at the end of your blog post. Then you say, "Everytime I click my fingers another another baby is killed through abortion", wear some wrap around glasses, say "End Abortion Now!" and hey presto, you've turned into a self-righteous tosser and a wanna-be rockstar, even though you're still unemployed and just picking up the odd bit of gardening where you can. Then you can start embezzling the funds...Enjoy!

Tablet in Volte Face...

...or just two-faced Tablet? Let's hope they keep it up. Check out Fr Ray Blake's piece on this week's edition. The magazine has so much potential! More of this and I might even consider buying it myself one day...The magazine, that is...not the Trust.

Never Trust a Man in Wrap Around Glasses

The Daily Mail have picked up on a story in the New York Post which raises concerns over Bono's 'ONE' foundation, which revealed in its tax return that it gives just 1 % of its profits to the needy! Oh boy! According to the Mail...

'The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6million in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).

The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1million went towards paying salaries.'

Bono has raised both his huge international profile and his own incredible wealth through his anti-poverty campaigning. A few years back he launched a campaign saying, "Every time I click my fingers another child dies of hunger."

"Well, stop clicking your fingers then and take out your wallet then, mate!" was surely the only response. U2, when they were good, before the wrap around glasses. Perhaps, Bono still hasn't found what he's looking for...I didn't get the driving posters/walking job, but I may have a bit of pizza/pasta delivery work coming...

"Brothers! Onward to Bognor Regis!"

This was the resounding cry of St Augustine of Canterbury to his Benedictine monks, having received yet another letter, egging him on, from Pope St Gregory I the Great to evangelise the English. "There's a lovely little town on the coast called Bognor Regis, not to be confused with Lyme Regis or Cyril Regis," wrote St Gregory I the Great, "go there and preach the Gospel, but, avoid Butlins at all costs for this is arid ground!"

It is only fit, then, that Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church Parish Centre will be hosting a Gregorian Chant Workshop on October 23rd 2010, between 11am - 4.30pm.

The workshop will be followed by Mass in the Ordinary Latin Rite. The Workshop will be led by Nick Gale, Director of Music at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. The cost is £10 a head and those interested are asked to bring a packed lunch, though drinks will be provided (Lambrini, anyone?).

The address is Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Centre, Hislop Walk, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 1LP. Please contact Liz Lucas on 01243 863833 or email her at

Forging a Catholic Identity

The Holy Father seemed to spend a great deal of time trying to forge a Catholic identity while he was here in the United Kingdom. The Catholic identity is really grounded in Holy Tradition and the 'Faith of our Fathers'. Also, when those not of the Faith think of Catholicism, they think of veiled women kneeling for Communion and hardened Mafia gangsters going to Confession just before leaving a horses head in an enemies bed. We have to return to this and lose the tambourines!

The recent, incredible scenes in London, Birmingham and Scotland showed just what an impact Catholics can make by proclaiming our Faith in numbers, so what better way to forge a Catholic identity in this country than to participate in the 26th Annual National Rosary Crusade of Reparation, which will take place on Saturday 16th October.

It takes place during the 40 Days for Life which began a couple of days ago, to bear witness to the Gospel of Life and to pray for an end to abortion. The Rosary Crusade of Reparation will assemble outside Westminster Cathedral at 1.45pm (Ambroseden Avenue). Nearest tube station is London Victoria. The Procession will go to Brompton Oratory, Brompton Road, London SW7. The nearest tube to there is South Kensington.

The Procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be led by Rt Rev Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Abbot of St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, to Brompton Oratory, praying the Rosary en-route. There will be a Consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and interestingly, the Patron is His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, so let's hope he attends. There will also be Solemn Pontifical Benediction, presumably at the Oratory. Sounds splendid, doesn't it?

The day will end at about 5pm and Mass is the anticipated Mass of Sunday will start at 6pm. For more information contact Francis Carey on 01494 729 223 or Mathias Menezes on 020 8764 0262 or on his mobile on 07950 384515. You can contact him by post at 27 First Avenue, Amersham, Bucks HP7 9BL.

Thursday 23 September 2010

She's Back!

Thanks be to God! Two very wonderful Catholics (Thanks Austen! Thanks Jack!...Not really...) came to my aid and my car has been released from the City Car Pound.

Suffice to say, I shall never do it again. My offense is ever before me. I shall say no more other than to declare that my war with the Parking Division of Brighton and Hove City Council is now, officially, over...

I may have a job delivering posters (yes, a career in walking! Who'd have thought it? Me - a Promotional Street Pedestrianiser!) around town centres in the South East, which could yet get my sorry behind out of the terrifying pit of debt. Still, I wouldn't mind a job at NatWest, then they could pay for their overdraft charges! Usurers! You give to the poor and then demand it back at interest and then grind them down into the dust! Ah well, it is only my just desserts. I used to work in the New Business Credit Card Department of Lloyds TSB.

Thank you for your prayers and especially to Fr Stephen Brown who said he'd offer Mass for me. It just goes to show that suicide is tragic. Never give into despair, because you never know what's around the corner, especially with a Good Lord who rescues the poor.

Lost Causes

Stephen Hough has written a piece on 'Gay teen suicides: Is there anything Pope Benedict could do?'

He writes...

'It’s only been a few days since Pope Benedict left our shores after what seems to have been a genuinely successful visit.  Of course, many Catholics were ecstatic about every second in which the red shoes were planted on British soil; that’s not so surprising: there were enough extraordinary, historic moments in his trip to encourage such a response. But what was more unexpected for me was a couple of my sober and cynical non-Catholic friends admitting to being surprised at how much they just … liked the Pope.  If he is a rottweiler, then he’s one who seems to encourage a tickle on the tummy rather than a bite-proof arm glove.

But then I read today, via Andrew Sullivan’s blog, about a case in Indiana of yet another gay teen who has committed suicide after the bullying in school just got too much for him.  Homosexual teenagers are four times more likely to take their own lives than heterosexual ones, and this website from The Trevor Project offers information and direct help for those who see suicide as the only way out. Now I’m not laying the blame for gay teen suicides at the (red-shod) feet of Pope Benedict, in fact this post is not meant as a personal criticism of him at all; but it came unavoidably to my mind, as I felt intensely sad at the waste of a young life, that the teaching he is bound to uphold has no real solution to this problem.'
Good Lord...We may have a wonderful Holy Father but he isn't Superman, for Heaven's sake, flying around towns and cities untying nooses! I have responded on his blog as I saw appropriate as follows...

'The letter by the then Cardinal Ratzinger is absolutely, 100% correct on homosexuality. Let's analyse it:

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

This is correct and is reaffirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church upholds the innate God-given dignity of the homosexual person, as well as all persons.

“The proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered.”

Again, he is 100% correct. Pastorally speaking, it is not prudent or loving to tell someone that the homosexual condition is 'normal', lest you lead a parishioner to think that to act upon it is a moral good. What is required, as well as doctrinal firmness, is compassion, love, mercy and forgiveness.

It may be common, but the condition is a still a moral disorder. I should know. I have it and believe me, I have at various times felt suicidal because of it. I have good friends, kind parents and know a couple of Catholics who counselled me throughout my coming to terms with it.

Because, however, it is a moral disorder, this does not alter the person's value as an adopted son or daughter of God, just as an alcoholic is still loved by God, though he suffers a moral disorder, or someone who has a propensity to masturbation is still loved by God, though he suffers a moral disorder. We are all sinners who God loves and if there is one thing God needs to make Saints, it is sinners.

In as much as the condition exists of itself, morally speaking, although it is a disorder, if not acted upon, it is morally neutral. It is not a matter of sin either venial or mortal if unacted upon. When a man is in a State of Grace a man is in a State of Grace.

Yet, Priests are dealing with a fallen World in which many carry various Crosses which 'constitute a trial'. The homosexual condition is one of these Crosses that men and women find themselves carrying and it is a heavy one. This leads nicely into the theme of your article in which you ask whether there is anything the Holy Father can do?

Well, he constantly reaffirms the love that Jesus has for everyone and that it is only in loving Him and living for Him that we can become happy. He cannot, or would not, or should not, as Pastor and Shepherd to the World's Faithful, have to make a special message to homosexuals, since the Church knows full well that all men are sinners in need of God's Divine Help.

What is required by Catholic Priests, Bishops, Parents and even Popes is a degree of understanding of the homosexual condition, so that, pastorally speaking, they can offer spiritual help and guidance to those who have it. And so, Cardinal Ratzinger then says:

“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”

Priests are called to lead men and women to God, to save souls and to lead them towards Heaven. The Church can never make a moral wrong, namely Sodomy, a moral 'right'. This would be a diabolical lie that would lead souls into Hell.

The homosexual's sexual orientation makes no difference to the State of Grace conferred upon him by God, through Baptism. Mortal sin, and the act of homosexuality is one of them, deprives the sinner of the State of Grace and merits Eternal Punishment. In order for the sinner to be reconciled to God, he should go to Confession, so that he may receive the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Eucharist, worthily.

What does the then Cardinal mean by 'pastoral attention'?

Well, it means that Priests should show these souls the great mercy of Christ in the Confessional. Through the Sacrament of Confession, sins, mortal and venial are forgiven and healed.

The homosexual finds himself in a supreme opportunity to embrace Jesus Christ wholly for He is the Man in whom true Happiness is found. The Priest should encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Blessed Lady and the unfailing help of the Saints.

Satan loves to see a soul in despair, since it is then that the soul loses Hope. That is why it is important that Priests and parents show great compassion to those who have this condition.

The Lord, much to the great misunderstanding of such conditions even at times within the Church, does not so much take the condition away from the soul (even with the tears, anguish and pleading many offer up in their shame), but instead embraces the soul to Himself. We are all walking through the valley of death, but Jesus is the Good Shepherd who guides us gently, safely home.

Even practically speaking, how can the Church possibly encourage anything but chastity for the homosexual when rates of HIV/AIDs within the community are so high? It would be reckless and lamentable. What the Church condemns is homosexual acts, not the orientation itself.

The Holy Father stressed time and time again while he was here that we should desire to seek the Truth in Charity as Cardinal Newman did. He offered him to us as an example of Christian heroism. Not only does he offer us a model of concern for the poor, pastoral love and devotion to God, but also a model of chaste, holy friendship and love.

Just for the record, right now I feel suicidal. I'm 32, unemployed, my car's just been impounded, I can't afford to get it back and I'm bankrupt. If ever there was a time for St Jude, Patron Saint of Lost is now.

Surely, this is the kind of response the Bishops of England and Wales would have given, apart from the end bit about going bankrupt and losing your car...right...Austen?

I had a job interview this morning as a bar assistant. I was asked, "What do you think is involved in making the perfect gin and tonic?"

I said, "You get a glass, then you take a shot of gin. Then, you go over to the fridge and get some tonic. You open the tonic with a bottle opener and pour the tonic in. Then you ask if the customer would like ice and lemon..."

Was that the wrong answer?

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Catholic Taliban Militia of Ages Past

St Francis of Assisi: Bi-polar, poverty-embracing, self-immolating, death-fixated, full-on Catholic nutjob.

St Dominic: Austere, autistic, pyromaniac. Bookish, scholarly radical. Unyielding on doctrinal issues.

St Thomas More: Dangerous maverick and stubbornly loyal Papist. Why is it always the quiet ones? Known to rant about Conscience. Obsessive. Suffers cold sweats when asked to sign oaths to the Crown.

St Joan of Arc: Schizophrenic militant Catholic vixen with sword. Trained by Catholics in a stronghold in France. Known to criticise notable figures in the hierarchy. Flammable, potentially incendiary insurgent.

Blessed John Henry Newman: Extreme, controversial, polemical firebrand. Convert. Beware, for converts are nearly always Taliban Catholics who take aim at their former religion, very often denouncing it.

The Sensible Bond has an interesting piece on Mr Ivereigh's quote which makes for interesting reading.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

"Behead Ivereigh!!!"

Catholic bloggers chat before going back to their keyboards...

Joking aside, I know I've kind of already given it away but, who, do you think, said this?

"We didn’t get an application from a Lefebvrite. We did get a few from what you would call the Taliban Catholics, who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it. We also had applications from people in favor of the ordination of women, and who in general believe that the reforms of Vatican II have been insufficiently implemented, and who are angry at the bishops for the opposite reasons."

Right, that's it...It's war! Death to liberalism! The problem with Austen's argument is that a great many Catholic bloggers, while using markedly different language to His Holiness, actually promote Catholic truth as he sees it, whereas Austen has a public record of promoting so called 'Catholic truth' as he most certainly does not see it!

Are we now being divided into Catholic moderates, Catholic extremists, dangerous militant Catholic extremists? I can tell you now that if just one of our Bishops was singing from the same hymn sheet as His Holiness, we'd be kissing the ground he walked on!

"It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."

~ Pope Benedict XVI in his Ad Limina address to the Bishops of England and Wales

John Smeaton, not just a blogger, but Head of the SPUC has openly criticised some Bishops for not defending the Catholic Faith with regard to Catholic schools over issues of abortion, contraception and the promotion of homosexual activity. Is he wrong? Is he an extremist too? Depressing!

What's your annual salary for your public, media-based defense of the Faith, Austen? Uh-huh, don't want to say, right? Well, we do this for free! Where was your letter in The Guardian defending the Holy Father against the new celebrity atheists?! I'm flat broke and mostly unemployed! Do the sums, mate, do the sums and you'll soon see that Catholic bloggers are a thousand times more sincere than you are!

H/T to another Catholic blogger.

'Catholic Voices': An Opportunity Missed?

I just worked out how to edit videos.

The one thing that struck me about 'Catholic Voices', though I guess it continues now that the Holy Father has returned to the Vatican, was the extent to which candidates selected by Austen 'Ivory' and Jack 'Veneero' were all from a similar social background/social class, whatever you wish to call it.

Without wishing to diss those candidates who were selected to speak up for the Catholic Faith, it wasn't in the slightest bit representative of the Church. I was struck after having recorded this video interview with George and Michael, how passionately they felt about the treatment of the Holy Father and the prejudice that exists in this country towards the Faith of Christ and how able they were to communicate Catholicism because the Faith is a matter of the heart. Watch it, it is quite interesting. Catholics now, like the Apostles were, are real people, not PR men. I would add that the random people interviewed by the media in the crowds were an excellent witness to our Faith. I can only assume the candidates selected for Catholic Voices were good, because I didn't actually hear or see much from them myself.

Part II...

'Bene's From Heaven'

Pope Bendict XVI.

£12m...and worth every penny.

Quite possibly the bargain of the century.

Meanwhile, thanks to Fr Ray Blake for drawing our attention to the news that it looks like Blessed John Henry Newman has been 'at it again'...

Does this mean the Holy Father could come back again?

The BBC Want to Protect Children, Right? this and make up your own mind.

We've received so much impartial criticism from the BBC over child protection over the years.

The BBC's magazine 'debate' is:

'Is it time to bring back child labour?'


Monday 20 September 2010

The Pope's Radical Message to the Bishops: 'Support Your Poor'

Has the Church's mission to the Poor been reduced to 'campaigning'?

I find one of the passages in the speech delivered by Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of England and Wales absolutely fascinating.

'Since your visit to Rome, political changes in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the consequences of the financial crisis, which has caused so much hardship to countless individuals and families. The spectre of unemployment is casting its shadow over many people’s lives, and the long-term cost of the ill-advised investment practices of recent times is becoming all too evident. In these circumstances, there will be additional calls on the characteristic generosity of British Catholics, and I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life.'

There was a moment at Hyde Park, when the video montage of a part of the documentary entitled 'The Heart that Seeks Justice' really rankled with me. It portrayed the 'justice n' peace' element of the Gospel in a quite embarrassing light. Yes, there was some good aspects to it, such as the focus on the work of Catholics who work in the services providing care to the elderly, who work as nurses and the like, but, perhaps not surprisingly, given that this piece of video footage was sponsored by CAFOD, it appeared that the overwhelming majority of 'justice and peace' work was all about campaigning for fairer trade.

This continual emphasis on 'Fairtrade' at a Diocesesan level and the bucket-grabbing, nausea-inducing banality of reading through the seemingly endless campaign literature on climate change is so thoroughly depressing that it makes me want to weep, presenting, as it regularly does, the poverty and misery of the Crucified as something 'out there' in the developing World or so called 'Third World countries'. The Holy Father goes on to say...

'Today’s circumstances provide a good opportunity to reinforce that message, and indeed to encourage people to aspire to higher moral values in every area of their lives, against a background of growing cynicism regarding even the possibility of virtuous living.'

I know that the St Vincent de Paul Trust does excellent work with those in poverty and distress and that in Westminster, Cardinal Hume's Passage Day Centre does some great work in helping men and women to find their feet in life, but, in general, I still find that at a Diocesan level (though I suspect this trend is nationwide), poverty and the radical call of Christ to preach the Good News to the Poor, to 'feed the hungry, clothe the naked' has been lost on the Bishops of England and Wales. Perhaps they are too sheltered from the very visible poverty of many in the United Kingdom and just imagine that somehow, addressing issues of fairer trade and campaigning for it (and blasted climate change) will make the Gospel known to the World and bring about a 'just and fair society'. It is, without doubt, the biggest load of garbage I have ever heard.

The kind of 'justice n' peace' work promoted by the Bishops of England and Wales is one that doesn't really promote the idea of the rich actually ever coming into contact with the poor, so that the chasm of understanding between Lazarus and Dives is perpetuated until the End of Time. There is a collection for CAFOD, the once Catholic charity who now, apparently, promote contraception and abortive procedures in total and utter contradiction to Church Teaching, but it is almost as if the Bishops really believe that the Gospel is somehow about Fairtrade, rather than emphasising the Works of Mercy, which not only help to act as reparation for our own sins, but touch the lives and hearts of others in a profoundly human way. Somehow, I do not think that when Our Lord preached that at the Last Judgment, He would gather into His Kingdom those who fed the hungry, gave shelter to the homeless and visited the sick and imprisoned, that He imagined the souls of a large gathering of Benetton-clad youngsters holding hands and being photographed by the Diocesan rag to raise awareness about 'climate change' ascending up to God.

To imagine that raising awareness about Fairtrade (TM) and climate change can somehow act as some kind of a replacement for the Corporal Works of Mercy is a total cop-out and a disgusting insult to Christ's Poor, in every town and city in the United Kingdom. This would be totally out of character for our Bishops, obviously, because if there is one thing that they never shirk from doing, it is proclaiming the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ 'in season and out of season', never seeking a comfortable life for themselves or us, but it needs to be seriously drawn to their attention because, the last time I looked, the Bishops of England and Wales have it very nice thank you very much. They live in fantastic houses, live very happily and from all appearances, live a very comfortable life indeed. On this issue, as well as those well-beloved doctrinal issues which they defend resolutely week in, week out, they need to be told and I am thoroughly over the moon that the Holy Father brought their attention to the plight of the Church's Poor.

I know and understand that the Poor we 'have with us always', but it needs to be said, and firmly so, that it is through loving and ministering to the Poor that the rich learn to love Jesus, in them. The giving of alms, the holy tradition of showing compassion, mercy and generosity to those neglected by society has been a hallmark of the Cloud of Witnesses whom God has given to the Faithful as models of virtue, from the foundation of the Church built on the Apostles to St Francis of Assisi to Blessed John Henry Newman to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. All of them preached through their words and their deeds that the defense of the Poor, the 'orphan and the widow', and the Gospel's message of love for the Poor is an essential part of our salvation.

Let Bono and Geldof and other millionaires throw a load of the public's money up against the wall and give it to developing nations who regularly use it for tanks, while they themselves sit in massive mansions and feel satisfied with themselves. We are not them! We are Catholics, we are not the UN! We are not called by God to help campaign for 'trade deals', placing our trust in corrupt Governments and global institutions with seriously dodgy agendas such as the UN 'Population Fund', while the very same 'human rights' institution is calling for the policing of nations worldwide to 'address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions'!

We are here to serve God, to serve Him in our neighbour and to serve the Poor first. Yes, there are a lot of poor people in the developing nations, but they are also on our doorsteps, at the end of our very own gates and in the Lord's Churches, and it is quite obvious that, as far as they are concerned, the latest Fairtrade coffee morning and eco-bulb stampingly awful climate change publicity stunt will make absolutely no difference to their lives, bringing them neither assistance nor the love of Christ! Meanwhile, I look forward to the Bishops of England and Wales taking heed of what Pope Benedict XVI has asked and joining him in 'calling for solidarity with those in need'.

This is Jason Evans discussing homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and life on an ASBO.

He currently resides in prison for breach of his ASBO. How can the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and the Catholic community in general show the love of God to him because it is clear that Brighton and Hove City Council, Social Services, the Police and Probation Services do not? Apologies in advance for the swearing...

Pope Benedict XVI's Beautiful Synthesis of 'Being' and 'Doing'

There is so much we can say when reflecting on the wonderful success of the Papal Visit to the UK and I would struggle to put it all into words, but the aspect of the visit that struck me the most was the wonderful personality of Pope Benedict XVI.

Arriving in a country in which anti-Catholicism and resentment towards the Church is rife, his manner, his graciousness and humility was strikingly disarming.

He fulfils his Office with a profound simplicity of heart and purity of spirit. What became obvious was that, far from being a Pontiff who is uneasy in his role, or feels any need to cover his personality, holiness emanates from him. His spirit seems to be liberated, grounded in God, firmly rooted in prayer. Despite the public's negative perception of him, he seemed very relaxed and accepting of all things, managing to convince even some sceptics of his honesty. He is genuine and that will have broken down some high barriers.

Speeches which could have been problematic, such as the one he gave to the Archbishop of Canterbury or to our 'eminent' politicians, resonated both truth and love, respect and fraternal charity. Every speech he gave appeared to be delivered so gently, yet with an important message of truth and he was so obviously, so utterly sincere. In an age in which we are used to seeing politicians try and win us over with excruciatingly off-putting charm offensives, so often promising us the World and then giving us so little or worse, it was clear that this man's deepest inner convictions, driven by his mission to preach the Gospel and to be Shepherd to the Faithful were genuine and that was why he was so refreshing, offering something that the World simply cannot give.

The man who was reportedly unwanted in this country because he is coming in his capacity as a Head of State, arriving to notable public expense at a time of recession, seemed to win over even parts of the deeply sceptical and hostile national press in his capacity as the Vicar of Christ. The Holy Father is aged and not a little frail, deeply unpopular with sections of the British population, surrounded by wolves who wanted to tear him down, yet everything he did and said seemed so graceful, eloquent, intelligent, unstinting, resolute and still immensely loving.

We naturally hope or even expect our Popes to be holy, to exude charity, humility and the love of Christ, but Popes don't have to do that, they don't have to be deep and intimate friends of Jesus Christ, they don't have to be men rooted and grounded in prayer and spirituality and indeed not all in history have been. What we have in Pope Benedict XVI is a remarkable and supreme fusion of 'being' and 'doing', the fruit of a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, to Whom he points as the Way, the Truth and the Life constantly. His itinerary was packed, he travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, attending function after function as well as presiding over a series of Masses, yet it all seemed breathtakingly effortless.

Thank you, God for our beloved Pontiff. May his reign be long and continue to be glorious!

Shall We Watch it Again?

Sunday 19 September 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Addresses the Bishops of England and Wales




Chapel of the Francis Martin House, Oscott College - Birmingham, Sunday, 19 September 2010

'My dear Brother Bishops,

This has been a day of great joy for the Catholic community in these islands. Blessed John Henry Newman, as we may now call him, has been raised to the altars as an example of heroic faithfulness to the Gospel and an intercessor for the Church in this land that he loved and served so well. Here in this very chapel in 1852, he gave voice to the new confidence and vitality of the Catholic community in England and Wales after the restoration of the hierarchy, and his words could be applied equally to Scotland a quarter of a century later. His beatification today is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s continuing action in calling forth gifts of holiness from among the people of Great Britain, so that from east to west and from north to south, a perfect offering of praise and thanksgiving may be made to the glory of God’s name.

I thank Cardinal O’Brien and Archbishop Nichols for their words, and in so doing, I am reminded how recently I was able to welcome all of you to Rome for the Ad Limina visits of your respective Episcopal Conferences. We spoke then about some of the challenges you face as you lead your people in faith, particularly regarding the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularized environment. In the course of my visit it has become clear to me how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the Good News of Jesus Christ. You have been chosen by God to offer them the living water of the Gospel, encouraging them to place their hopes, not in the vain enticements of this world, but in the firm assurances of the next. As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected, be sure to present in its fulness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today’s culture. As you know, a Pontifical Council has recently been established for the New Evangelization of countries of long-standing Christian tradition, and I would encourage you to avail yourselves of its services in addressing the task before you. Moreover, many of the new ecclesial movements have a particular charism for evangelization, and I know that you will continue to explore appropriate and effective ways of involving them in the mission of the Church.

Since your visit to Rome, political changes in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the consequences of the financial crisis, which has caused so much hardship to countless individuals and families. The spectre of unemployment is casting its shadow over many people’s lives, and the long-term cost of the ill-advised investment practices of recent times is becoming all too evident. In these circumstances, there will be additional calls on the characteristic generosity of British Catholics, and I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life. Today’s circumstances provide a good opportunity to reinforce that message, and indeed to encourage people to aspire to higher moral values in every area of their lives, against a background of growing cynicism regarding even the possibility of virtuous living.

Another matter which has received much attention in recent months, and which seriously undermines the moral credibility of Church leaders, is the shameful abuse of children and young people by priests and religious. I have spoken on many occasions of the deep wounds that such behaviour causes, in the victims first and foremost, but also in the relationships of trust that should exist between priests and people, between priests and their bishops, and between the Church authorities and the public. I know that you have taken serious steps to remedy this situation, to ensure that children are effectively protected from harm and to deal properly and transparently with allegations as they arise. You have publicly acknowledged your deep regret over what has happened, and the often inadequate ways it was addressed in the past. Your growing awareness of the extent of child abuse in society, its devastating effects, and the need to provide proper victim support should serve as an incentive to share the lessons you have learned with the wider community. Indeed, what better way could there be of making reparation for these sins than by reaching out, in a humble spirit of compassion, towards children who continue to suffer abuse elsewhere? Our duty of care towards the young demands nothing less.

As we reflect on the human frailty that these tragic events so starkly reveal, we are reminded that, if we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness. As Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote, “O that God would grant the clergy to feel their weakness as sinful men, and the people to sympathize with them and love them and pray for their increase in all good gifts of grace” (Sermon, 22 March 1829). I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocation they have received, and a new appreciation on the part of the people for the great gift of the ordained ministry. Prayer for vocations will then arise spontaneously, and we may be confident that the Lord will respond by sending labourers to bring in the plentiful harvest that he has prepared throughout the United Kingdom (cf. Mt 9:37-38). In this regard, I am glad that I will shortly have the opportunity to meet the seminarians of England, Scotland and Wales, and to assure them of my prayers as they prepare to play their part in bringing in that harvest.

Finally, I should like to speak to you about two specific matters that affect your episcopal ministry at this time. One is the imminent publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the contribution you have made, with such painstaking care, to the collegial exercise of reviewing and approving the texts. This has provided an immense service to Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration. “The more lively the eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6). The other matter I touched upon in February with the Bishops of England and Wales, when I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished.

With these sentiments, I thank you warmly for your hospitality over the past four days. Commending all of you and the people you serve to the intercession of Saint Andrew, Saint David and Saint George, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of England, Scotland and Wales.'

The Pope is Not Dawkins Greatest Enemy...It is Us!

The Holy Father has beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman to the immense joy of the Faithful in the United Kingdom. Pope Benedict XVI has graced us with his presence to the boundless joy of the Faithful in the United Kingdom. Dawkins and his followers, who are beginning to sound more and more shrill, bitter and rabid, are incensed by the fact that the Government invited him and they howl with derision at him and his message. Yet, it is our joy, the visible joy of believers that he will have despised the most, our devotion, that will have appalled him, our delight, which will have caused him great dismay!

What the scenes in London, of huge support for the Pope, in Birmingham this morning at the Beatification of Newman, the wonderful show of emotion and support in Scotland, tell us, and tell Dawkins, is that it is us, not the Pope that should give the firebrand atheists the greatest concern. We are told that around 10,000 people turned out in support of the atheist cause for protesting the presence of the Holy Father, told of all the ethical and sexual hang-ups, suspicions and prejudices they have against the Pope and the Catholic Church - but how many have turned up to bear witness to their love for the Pope, their love of the Church, their love for the Lord Jesus!

The figures simply cannot compare and over the course of the weekend, the idea that the Catholic Church commands only a modicum of support and devotion should finally be laid to rest. We are here and we are not going to go away! That, surely, will be the aspect of the overwhelmingly successful Papal Visit that will sadden militant atheists the most. They had thought that their creed was in the ascendancy and that we were dying, if not dead, but it simply isn't true and TV footage of the outpouring of love for the Successor of St Peter is there for them, the UK and the whole World to see! Deo gratias!

Even Shine Jesus Shine could not dampen our enthusiasm for the day...

What it tells us is that we need to step out of the ghetto and to wear our Catholic faith on our sleeves. It is a rallying call. Peter has come to 'strengthen the brethren' and we, in the Laity indeed are strengthened by him whose sacred duty is to confirm Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity in the Faith! We have to stop hiding our light under a bushell. We, the Laity, have to play our part in order to build that city upon the hill that burns brightly with the light of Christ, so that all men may see it, because without the Laity, the Church simply would cease to exist.

It is easy for the secularists and the militant atheists to attack the Pope, Priests and Bishops because they have years, centuries even, of anti-Catholic sentiment to draw upon, but it is the Laity who give the Church the greatest credibility and we are harder to attack. If we had not turned out to see the Holy Father then the atheists would have declared the Faith dead, but, to their embarrassment and disappointment, we did turn out and in quite vast numbers. Ultimately, the huge crowds showing our support for the Holy Father lend the Pope, the Church and Her mission a measure of public credibility that alone, by itself the Papacy and the Hierarchy of the Church cannot give Her.

While refraining from crying out, "We are the Church", there is a sense in which the huge crowds testify to our important role in bearing witness to Christ and His Church. Militant atheists and their footmen despise the Pope and can claim many things about him and throw calumny against him without too much reproach, for he is a soft target, but Dawkins cannot attack us so easily, for fear of appearing bigoted to those who also share his views, but are not yet, how shall we say, 'radicalised'.

The coverage of the Pope meeting the Queen and many others will have irritated these atheists, but seeing images of us praying, faithfully, before the Blessed Sacrament will have really and truly have got under the skin of those who promote atheism and attack the Faith of Christ. It is our Faith that needs to be relit and placed upon the hill for the World to see. It is to us, also, that the Holy Father entrusts the visible proclamation of the Gospel in our everyday lives, in our work, our words, our speech, our actions and our interaction with others, because the Priesthood and the Hierarchy carry different associations in terms of the perception of those who do not believe. It is we, the Laity, who are the greatest threat to the vicious rise of atheism in this country!

By the way...Cardinal Kasper was right.

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...