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...