Thursday, 30 September 2010

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...


catholics against uber-traditionalists said...

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.

pattif said...

Even John Allen had the grace to reissue his 2005 biography of Cardinal Ratzinger and acknowledge that he had misjudged him. It seems a trifle disingenuous to trot out a critical quote from 2004in a "Welcome to Britain, Pope Benedict" piece in 2010.

catholics against ubertraditionalists -

Last February the bishop who chairs the universal Church gave a talk to the bishops of England and Wales at the conclusion of their ad limina visit. During his talk the Bishop of Rome noted:

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, 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.

To mix gaming metaphors, I think my bishop trumps your bishop.

catholic reporter said...

Maybe Benedict had in mind people like Smeaton in his reference to dissent? After all Smeaton is deliberately and systematically 'bashing the bishops' who are in communion with Peter.

The Bones said...

He bashes them precisely for making statements which reveal that they are very often not.

So no, somehow I don't think the HF had Smeaton in mind.

Catholic theologian said...

If Benedict or the CDF weren't happy with our bishop's position on sex education etc other issues which Smeaton campaigns on then I think we would have heard about it. Since we haven't, we can confidently assume that our bishops and Rome share a state of harmonious communion.

The Bones said...


pattif said...

catholic reporter - you might have a point if you could cite any example of John Smeaton dissenting from Catholic teaching on any issue of faith or morals.

Catholic theologian - The Second Vatican Council, in Gravissimum Educationis taught that parents were the "primary educators" of their children and that the role of the Church and Catholic education was to support them in that task. Documents issued since the Council by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education ( Educational Guidance in Human Love , 1983) and the Pontifical Council for the Family (Truth and Meaning in Human Sexuality 1995)insist on the necessity of teaching sex education in an age-appropriate manner and asserting parental primacy in determining this. Moreover, the latter document, referring to the period of a child's life before puberty, declares, "This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex."

I am unaware of any teaching from either the Holy Father or the CDF that supercedes any of these teachings. It therefore seems clear that, in the CES's negotiations with the last government, which accepted compulsory sex education from the age of five, and negotiated away parental right of withdrawal of children from the age of 16, the CES acted above its pay grade by a considerable margin. I do not this one is necessarily setting oneself up as an alternative Magisterium if one notes the bishops' apparent failure to distance themselves from the action of their own agency.

In his address to our bishops at Oscott, the Holy Father said, "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" (emphasis added). Since the sexualisation of children and the promotion of contraception and abortion feature prominently in the "widespread assumptions of today's culture", I think it is reasonable to assume that the Holy Father is calling for unambiguous witness to the Church's alternative view of these questions, amongst others.

While it is true that we are all called to make our views known to our bishops in charity, it is also nevertheless true that we all have a canonical right, indeed a duty, to make our views known in cases where the faith appears not to be being proclaimed fully.

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