Friday 31 January 2014


Intriguing and bizarre. The Mirror has suggested that His Holiness Pope Francis is a dead ringer for hit British ITV darts-centred game show, Bullseye's host, Jim Bowen.

The game show host had a real knack for insulting the contestants but getting away with it because of his cheeky northern charm and affable manner.

May the Lord forgive me, but there have been times during Pope Francis's pontificate when I looked back to the conclave and thought of 'what we might have won'. At the time of the conclave I was running a subtle prayer campaign for a Great Excommunicator like Cardinal Burke. The whole Bullseye scenario did cross my mind. Basically, Bulleye was a little bit cruel because after a couple of contestants had gambled all the prizes they had won during the show on the 'Star Prize' (a holiday in Spain or a yacht or something equally glamourous) and lost, Jim would kindly then show them 'what you could have won'. Then they'd go home looking visibly narked off. would, wouldn't you?

Evangelii Gaudium

A Brighton based poor person has put in a request for a digibox and television. In the olden days paupers would request things like food and money. Now, they want all the mod cons. If you want to assist, or you have decided to throw away Satan's Lantern, or simply are fed up of paying the licence fee, let me know.

He also wants clean pants and some trousers (size 30" waist) and a mobile phone. Email me at if you want to help.

Inter-Religious Dialogue

Pope Francis on Doctrine as Gift to be Transmitted

The Catholic Herald reported some good news yesterday...

Pope Francis has said that fidelity to Church teaching is a fundamental part of belonging to the Church and that we cannot use Church doctrine “as we please.”

Speaking during his homily at daily Mass today at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis defined the three ‘pillars’ of belonging as ‘humility,’ ‘fidelity’ and ‘special service.’

Pope Francis said that fidelity was the ‘second pillar.’ He said: “Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received.”

He continued: “And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus’, and we must not – he would say – become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please”.

Quoting Pope Paul VI, Pope Francis said that it was an “absurd dichotomy” to love Christ without loving the Church. He said: “The Christian is not a baptised who receives baptism and then goes on his way. The first fruit of baptism is to make you belong to the Church, the People of God. You cannot understand a Christian without the Church. 

“This is why the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to be with Christ at the margins of the Church. It’s not possible. It is an absurd dichotomy. We receive the Gospel message in the Church and we carry out our holiness in the Church, our path in the Church. The other is a fantasy, or, as he said, an absurd dichotomy”.

More words like this, please, Your Holiness. It echoes much that Pope Benedict XVI said. We are all rooting for you, even if your 'right hand man' Cardinal Maradiaga seems, at times, to disagree with you.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Introducing Rome's Favourite Bird...

Not to be confused with...

Bad graffiti and I'm not sure His Holiness would approve. Looks a bit promethean...

Time Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine and now 'Super-Fran' graffiti in Rome, plus papal doves getting massacred by ravens and gulls in St Peter's. All very odd!

Job Interviews: The New Catholic Guide

Wondering why you never get that dream job? Think there's always times when you could have answered a question better? Prepare for your dream job interview with the new Catholic guide of suggested answers as you navigate those 'tricky questions'.

Question 1: Why do you want this job?

Answer: Well, I'm certainly not a careerist, so that's not a label that can be applied to me. In fact, I'm humble, so publicly I would maintain that I don't want this job. Catch my drift?

Question 2: How would you take this company forward? What could you bring to it?

Answer: I love what you currently do, but I think there's a lot of corruption in this company. A lot of leprous courtier-types. How can we meet the challenges that face us? You need to go out to the peripheries and draw people back in - go out, out to the peripheries. I'd rather work for a company that was bruised from the battle, than a company closed in on itself like some self-absorbed neo-promethean pelagian.

Question 3: What's your greatest strength? What assets can you bring to our company?

I have the humility and I have the ambition to do this job. Need I say more?

Question 4: What's your greatest weakness?

Answer: I can be somewhat 'autocratic' at times.

Question 5: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Answer: I'm not thinking about that. Look, if you have the humility and ambition to hire me, then the carnival is over, so I'm thinking about what your company will look like in five years time. Once I'm done, it will look radically different from what it was before. Don't be afraid of newness.

Question 6: We are large blue-chip company with customers across the World. How can we improve our relationship with our client base?

Answer: You need your employees to smell more like your customers.

Question 7: Our company recently suffered some serious injuries in the stock market when it was discovered that certain regulations were not being adhered to by some key staff. As a manager, how would you deal with the situation?

Answer: If the person is of good will and is seeking the company's good, then who am I to judge? The company cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of regulations to be imposed insistently upon its staff.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Monday 27 January 2014

The Lord of the Commission

"Come follow me and I will help you form an Angling Commission for Men."
If the Church was then, as it is now...

'The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah!" Simon exclaimed, "Great! Let's set up a Messiah Commission and really develop this theme!"


A leper came to Jesus and said, "Sir, if you want, you can make me clean." Jesus replied, "I want to. Peter, James, John! Over here, I want you to establish a Leprosy Commission!"


Some scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?' Jesus answered, "The Apostles and I are going to deal with this at a Synod on the Family next Spring" and, straight-away, a Diocesan Commission for Marriage and the Family was formed in Jerusalem.


And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, and establish a Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission.'


And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took the chalice, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Later on, the disciples realised that this was the beginning of a Diocesan Liturgy Commission.

But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "We'd better inform the Diocesan Liturgy Commission!"


Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd [...] “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip." At this point some Jews murmured, "This is a very interesting joint ecumenical commission."

One could go on...

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Missing Pope of Christian Unity

Evensong and Benediction at The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
Vatican Radio reports today on Pope Francis presided over evening Vespers at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls Basilica where he was joined by members of the many different Christian Churches present in Rome.

'Christ, dear friends, cannot be divided! This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.

The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills.

Your Holiness, Holy Father. There was another Pope, too, who you surprisingly neglected to mention on Saturday, who has received praise for his work for Christian Unity and the project of ecumenism, as those separated from Holy Mother Church seek to remove the barriers to full unity with the Bride of Christ. With some he succeeded and with others he made generous gestures to try and embrace them, even though they were perceived as being 'out of touch' with the modern Church. What was his name now? Nice man, grey hair, nice vestments, gentle manner with an obvious disposition of kindness. No? Oh what was his name, now? Lives a few doors away from Your Holiness, I believe.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Pope Francis and the Throwaway Culture

Bl. Pope John Paul II warned the West of the 'Culture of Death'
Posted on The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma 

Pope Benedict XVI often lamented, as did Blessed Pope John Paul II the Culture of Death, a culture endemic in the West that rejected in principle the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life.

Movement away from 'the Gospel of Life'?

Both Popes placed this culture in contrast to the Gospel of Life heralded by the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI was keen to continue this theme in the Church's mission of evangelisation. For both Popes this formed a distinct base for Catholic social teaching, recognising that without adherence to fundamental principles concerning the defence of human life, marriage and the family, Western society sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Likewise, Benedict XVI had a desire to place together, as his predecessor, the politically charged issues of abortion, human embryology, IVF, divorce, artificial contraception, assisted suicide and euthanasia, homosexual unions and the modern phenomenom of homosexual 'marriage', as well as other features of modern relationships. The Church's confrontation of this culture that fails to show respect for man, made 'in the image and likeness of God', has always brought it sharp and angry criticism from mass media, politicians and also civil society.

Pope Francis seems to have abandoned this confrontational analysis of society's ills, but is it really true that it has been totally 'dropped'? Perhaps this is not entirely the case for, instead, Pope Francis has opted to present some of the destructive evils that confront Western society (and the World as a whole) in a new light, describing the disposable nature of human life and human dignity in terms of a 'throwaway culture'. With the rhetorical teaching shift from attacking the 'culture of death' to the 'throwaway culture', it can certainly be argued that some hot political and social issues have yet to be included in the new Pontiff's analysis of what threatens modern man. It remains mysterious why this should be the case.

Are certain unpopular areas of concern being abandoned?

To date Pope Francis has not, for example, mentioned human embryology and IVF, despite the Catholic Church's traditional defence of human life 'from conception to natural death'. On a few occasions, including in his Apostolic Exhortation, the Successor of St Peter has, however, lamented abortion as an aspect of a 'throwaway culture'.

Within this context, he has also mentioned homelessness, poverty, the loneliness and isolation of the elderly, youth unemployment, the waste of food and the destruction of the environment and positioned the 'throwaway culture' as an unfortunate feature of modern capitalism. In actual fact, it would appear that endemic consumerism is the perhaps the real target of Francis's concern since it is consumerism that fosters our sorrowful tendency to put a price on human life and dignity.

For full article click here.

The Conversion of St Paul

Friday 24 January 2014

The Ballad of Summorum Pontificum II

The Ballad of Summorum Pontificum

It was the 7th of the seventh, 2007
"The most beautiful day
This side of Heaven"

The treasure was released
The Mass of all Ages
The Missal was closed
Then a Priest turned the pages

So we kneel down and pray the Confiteor
Are you ready for a 'Culture of Encounter'?
Ad Deum quit laetificat juvemtutem meum
He turns around and the people say give us some more!

For over 50 years
A Mass that lay hidden
Came out of the closet
No moth there had bitten

No dust was upon it
For this Mass was timeless
You could tell when you walked through the door!

You can hear the bells ring out once, twice, thrice at the Sanctus
Turns around and the Priest says "Oratre Fratres"
The Priest and people pray ‘Domine non sum dignus’
And the people say, "give us some more, more, more, more!"

Some more
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more of
The Church's law
Some more
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more, give us some more!

Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi
When will we hear those words ring out
Every Sunday?
The Latin Mass is back
Put your guitars on the floor
We have Communion kneeling and on the tongue

All ages they pass
All ages they vary
The Latin Mass belongs back
In our seminaries

Our Pope doesn't want it
Oh if only he could
Say "God bless the Pope Emeritus!"

Some more
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more
of the Church's law!
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more
Gimme some more!

The Mass that brings sinners
To the Fountain of grace
The Mass that made martyrs
Embrace their pains
The Mass that brought hope
To the poor and abandoned
Finding in Jesus (bow head)
The perfect Companion
But that Mass is back (back)
To liberal dismay, yeah
Yes, that Mass is back (back)
It could not decay
Yes, that Mass is back (back)
And it makes liberals quake
That Mass is back
Will you find one today?

Some more
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more
It's the Church's law
Summorum Pontificum!
Gimme some more, some more
Gimme some more
(Repeat x 2)

It was the 7th July 2007
"The most beautiful day
This side of Heaven"

 “Your ministry, dear judges and employees of the Roman Rota Tribunal … is a service peculiar to the God of Love, who is close to every person. While you perform your judicial duties, do not forget that you are pastors! Behind every plea, every position, every case, there are people who seek justice”. 

- Pope Francis, 24 January 2014

Yesterday a Catholic priest warned me of the danger of falling into schism. I thank Fr Mark for his admonishment and I certainly take heed of it. I acknowledge that at time I do not, as perhaps I did yesterday, read into the Pope's words a meaning that His Holiness perhaps did not intend. If anybody was scandalised by this then I apologise.

Yet, it is hard to mask a sense of betrayal that I feel as a Catholic whose faith was certainly deepened under Benedict XVI and I would not, could not yet go so far as one Catholic priest, Fr Paul Kramer, who has written that Benedict XVI was forced to resign by ecclesiastical freemasonry and that therefore this means that Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio, is not a canonically elected pontiff, but fulfills St Francis of Assisi's prophecy which claims him to be the destroyer. I think that is somewhat putting 'the cart before the horse' even if palpable discomfort among those loyal to Benedict XVI is still rife.

Aside from a vagueness and lack of clarity in teaching, the sense of betrayal for me really centres on the treatment of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the scandal of their having been censured over the issue, it appears, of their embracing of the traditional liturgy. I do not require a permit to attend a Latin Mass, or in order to re-record a song I wrote a few years back, but permits are now a huge feature of Franciscan life in the Order of the Immaculate. I ask, just who would join that poor Order now?  I feel increasingly sorry for those lay people who, thanks to Benedict XVI, were able to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form thanks to the Friars of the Immaculate, but who now cannot, since 30 of the 33 Traditional Latin Masses at Churches offered by the Immaculate, have been cancelled.

As men and women of far lower rank in the Church, I would suggest tentatively that we can raise concerns about the current state of the Papacy and implore His Holiness to take into account the deeply valuable theology and work of his predecessor, especially in giving the Catholic Church back the riches of Her Sacred Liturgy and beginning a restorative work to the manner and form in which we worship. Of course, as all can agree we must pray for the Supreme Pontiff and show him charity, loyalty and, unless it pertains to a matter that runs contrary to God's law, obedience.

Thursday 23 January 2014

'Culture of Encounter': An Opportunity to Deny Christ?

'Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.'
 ~ His Holiness Pope Francis, on the Feast of 
St Francis de Sales

Herein lies the Francis enigma, that the Successor of St Peter gives the impression that the Catholic Church does not necessarily contain the fullness of truth and inerrancy in Her teaching. Is this not precisely what the Devil, through his agents, and his whisperings, proposes to mankind in this century, as in previous centuries, that there can exist no absolute truths which can be trusted - not even those insisted upon by the Bride of Christ? Why is Pope Francis reticent to proclaim that the Church has the fullness of truth or that such a thing as 'Absolute Truth' exists? 

If I, as a Catholic, maintain that my own opinion holds that badgers are the sweetest of all the animals, then my opinion hold no weight. Yet, if I appeal to the Authority of the Catholic Church in recognising that a particular moral action or doctrine is right or wrong, then I am appealing to the Authority of Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. A 'Culture of Encounter' would appear to involve a measure of denial, obfuscation or apostasy in the public proclamation of Catholic doctrine in the public arena or in private discussions.

St Francis de Sales himself wrote, in his Catholic Controversy...

'If we are to run the risk of erring, who would not choose to run it rather by following his own fancy, than by slavishly following that of Calvin or Luther? Everybody shall give liberty to his wits to run promiscuously about amongst opinions the most diverse possible; and, indeed, he will perhaps light on truth as soon as another will. But it is impious to believe that Our Lord has not left us some supreme judge on earth to whom we can address ourselves in our difficulties, and who is so infallible in his judgments that we cannot err. I maintain that this judge is no other than the Church Catholic, which can in no way err in the interpretations and conclusions she makes with regard to the Holy Scripture, nor in the decisions she gives concerning the difficulties which are found therein. For who has ever heard this doubted of?'

In Rerum Omnium Perturbationem, Pope Pius XI maintained that...

'After this brief resume of the work and writings of St. Francis de Sales, Venerable Brothers, it only remains to exhort you to celebrate his Centenary as worthily as possible in your dioceses. We do not wish that this Centenary should become a mere commemoration of certain events of history which would turn out a purely sterile function, neither that it should be restricted to a few selected days. We do desire that, throughout the whole year and up to the twenty-eighth of December, the day when St. Francis passed from earth to heaven, you do everything possible to instruct the faithful in doctrines and virtues which characterized the holy Doctor.

First of all, you should make known and even explain with all diligence this encyclical both to your clergy and to the people committed to your care. Particularly We are most desirous that you do all in your power to call back the faithful to their duty of practicing the obligations and virtues proper to each one's state in life, since even in our own times the number is very large who never think of eternity and who neglect almost totally the salvation of their souls. 

Some are so immersed in business that they think of nothing but accumulating riches and, by consequences, the spiritual life ceases to exist for them. Others give themselves up entirely to the satisfaction of their passions and thus fall so low that they, with difficulty if at all, are able to appreciate anything which transcends the life of sense. Finally, there are many who give their every thought to politics, and this to such an extent, that while they are completely devoted to the welfare of the public, they forget altogether one thing, the welfare of their own souls. Because of these facts, Venerable Brothers, do you endeavor, following the example of St. Francis, to instruct thoroughly the faithful in the truth that holiness of life is not the privilege of a select few. All are called by God to a state of sanctity and all are obliged to try to attain it. Teach them, too, that the acquisition of virtue, although it cannot be done without much labor (such labor has its own compensations, the spiritual consolations and joys which always accompany it) it is possible for everyone with the aid of God's grace, which is never denied us.'

 'Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.' 

Said no Pope in history...ever! I mean, does this go for the abortion debate as well? Does this go for the nature of marriage? Does this go for the Sacraments of the Church? The mind Bergoggles! A peace and culture that is based upon falsehood, rather than on truth, is a false peace and a culture that denies Truth. Our ideas are flawed, but the Opinion of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, even if I, as a flawed human being, present them accurately, are True. These are not simply the ideas of a human institution but a Divine One, founded by the Son of God and guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. I will happily renounce 'my own' ideas and traditions and lose any claim that they alone and valid or absolute. I will never, Your Holiness, renounce the belief that the Church teaches the truth on matters of faith and morals and cannot err in Her teaching, whether the Successor of St Peter should respect these truths, or, indeed, deny them completely one day, or agree with them another, depending on what side of bed he has got out of on the day.

Those who took part in the March for Life in Washington, who received a Papal tweet of support, presumably believe that the sanctity of human life is a moral absolute and that the suggestion that abortion is in any situation a good action is simply not a valid position. Have I understood what Pope Francis said today? I do so hope to God that I have failed to do so.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

The Gap in the Market in the Catholic Press

The online age has certainly produced challenges for the Catholic Press. The emergence of blogs, the emergence of web-based forms of communication has made the mainstream Catholic press re-examine its position in the modern World and its dwindling readership. It has and still faces immense challenges.

The 'free press' in the Catholic World has arrived as Hilaire Belloc hoped, if with still a limited readership in an age that has rejected the Church's message in the West. What is the free press for the Catholic today? It is simply the thoughts expressed by the man and woman in the pew expressed mostly online.

The changes to the liturgy and what many now see as the damage done to the Catholic Faith throughout the 60s and 70s - the 'wreckovation' was overseen by mainstream Catholic media organs owned by a few groups or individuals. I'm not sure how much these publications protested against the destruction of Sanctuaries. I'm not sure how enthusiastically Humanae Vitae was greeted by The Tablet or The Catholic Times or The Universe or even The Catholic Herald. Those who objected to the assault on the Faith at the time (the 'little people') - their voices were left mostly unheard, were silenced by those in positions of power in whose authority and wisdom they had often absolute trust. Only the voices of the 'specialists' were accepted or heard. Even the voices of priests, at the time, were I think ignored.

The LMS Chairman today gives an exemplary example of just what a mess the Catholic press is in with Mgr Basil Loftus attacking Cardinal Raymond Burke in The Catholic Times. Why is this man being employed for his writing services to a Catholic newspaper? Has the editor of this publication not seen that the Church has moved on from the 1970s, even if members of the Hierarchy have ossified. Has he not noticed that the Church has 'moved on' and that not all have 'moved beyond Jesus'?

We live in uncertain times in the Church. I hope that there isn't a 'this time', but if the Catholic Church undergoes another perceived revolution in Her liturgy and belief, it is true to say that it will not be so easy 'this time' as voices will be heard, voices will be raised in objection. Where are these voices? They are evident already and if, in time, the 'worst case scenarios' take place, many will feel it a Christian duty to defend holy doctrine, Church law and belief from those who, deliberately for even good intentions, believe such should be dismantled. This duty I expect will be evident in the writings of mostly priests and laypeople on Catholic blogs, but what, if something goes drastically wrong, will be the response of the mainstream Catholic press 'this time'?

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
I can only guess. I have long held and sincerely believed that there is a 'niche' in the Catholic press for a magazine that is able to communicate effectively the Faith that truly is the Church's possession to which we as faithful Catholics give assent - our glorious Faith. Yet, where is it? The Tablet has long-since divorced itself from the Magisterium and disappeared into a void of unbelief and dissent. It is now only a vehicle for dissent against all that the Church has consistently believed. It is totally unable, with its current editorial team, to communicate the riches of Catholicism. It is a diseased media organ.

The Catholic Herald fulfills its mandate as a chiefly a reporter of weekly Catholic news and has gathered among its writers many who are committed to the Church's mission, but where is that one magazine that Catholics who are faithful to the Church pick up or subscribe to which increases their faith and love of the Most Holy Faith? It doesn't yet exist. It should!

I still maintain that there is a gap in the market for the Catholic press - a magazine to which Catholics can subscribe or buy to which they feel a sense of loyalty because the magazine is loyal to that which we have been privileged by the grace of God to receive and to accept and give full assent. I believe the Church needs a magazine that is loyal to the holy tradition of the Church, loyal to the Mass which we strive with God's grace not only to attend but to live, a magazine that is able to communicate the Faith to those Catholics who receive little nourishment and to newcomers - that will entertain and inform readers of the glory of the Catholic Faith with apologetics and with explanations for the 'hope that is within us'.

 So, I just ask the question and turn it over to readers of this blog, if somebody entrusted you with the mandate of creating a Catholic magazine that would keep you - and other Catholics you know - coming back for more, what would it look like? What would its focus be? What would its aims be? What imagery would it use? What would its mission be? What would you read about? What would the visuals be? Who would you want to see write for it? Who would you want to see interviewed? What would a Catholic magazine offer you that would attract you and others to become a loyal reader?

Have a think and put your suggestions in the comments box.

What Has Happened to Reports on Papal homilies?

The last couple of days I note with concern the lack of interest that Radio Vaticana are showing in papal homilies, with only the smallest snippets of the Pope's words presented on their website. Today's for example, is particularly 'threadbare'. The actual quotes are in bold.

'Pope Francis devoted the catechetical portion of his weekly General Audience on Wednesday to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year is dedicated to a question taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians: “Has Christ Been Divided?”. The English-language synthesis, read out after the main reflection delivered by Pope Francis in Italian, said, “We know that Christ has not been divided; yet we must sincerely recognize that our communities continue to experience divisions which are a source of scandal and weaken our witness to the Gospel.”

In reproaching the Corinthians for their divisions, Paul reminds them to rejoice in the great spiritual gifts which they have received. His words encourage us to rejoice in the gifts God has given to other Christians, gifts which we can receive from them for our enrichment. To be able to do this calls for humility, discernment and constant conversion.

Pope Francis asked all Christian faithful to pray that, as we reflect on Paul’s teaching during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we may be confirmed, together with all Christ’s followers, in our pursuit of holiness and fidelity to the Lord’s will.'

Papal homilies would appear to be undergoing severe redaction and editing. Aside from the desire to be fed by the Successor of St Peter, I'd like to know why his actual words are receiving such censure. Any ideas?

Modernism: A 'Taster'

A good article on Modernism can be found here. Here is a 'taster'...


[The following quotations from the Encyclical Letter Pascendi Dominici gregis of Pope Pius X are taken mainly from the translation that appeared originally in the London Tablet and is reproduced in Claudia Carlen, ed., The Papal Encyclicals, vol. 3. pp. 71-98.]

1. Introduction. On September 8, 1907, Pope Saint Pius X published the encyclical letter Pascendi Dominici gregis, in which he condemned the heresy of Modernism, a heresy which he defined as "the synthesis of all heresies" (Pascendi, no. 39). From then until the Second Vatican Council there was great effort on the part of the Hierarchy to oppose and wipe out this heresy. Among other things the Oath against Modernism of September 1, 1910, was required each time that a member of the Church received a sacred order or a pastoral ministry such as bishop of a diocese, pastor of a parish, seminary professor, preacher, religious superior, official of a diocese or of the Holy See, or to receive an ecclesiastical degree. But around the time of the Second Vatican Council, the requirement to take this oath was suppressed by the Holy See, and it has never been seen again. To the best of my knowledge, no published reason or rationale for the removal of this requirement was given, but the assumption is that there was no longer a sufficient reason to keep it in use. Yet, many of the same manifestations within and without the Catholic Church that motivated Pope Pius X to write the Encyclical seem to be in some ways still present today and in many ways even more present today than they were in the early twentieth century. Was the "Modernism" observed by Pius X in 1907 just an illusion? Did it address a situation that was not really existing? Or was there a real movement that ceased afterwards to have the same relevance that it had had before? These are questions that it might behoove us to consider. We could begin by taking some of the general characteristics and specific instances of Modernism described in the Encyclical and compare them with apparently similar instances that seem to have continued to exist in the Church up to the present day, in order that we might see if there is a real difference between them and in what this difference might consist.

2. Reformers of the Church. In opening the description of Modernism and Modernists in his encyclical Pascendi, Pope Pius X remarks that there are in the Church many lay persons and priests "who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church" (Pascendi no. 2). The Pope remarks that these Modernists "lay the axe, not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibres," and that "there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt." He goes on to say that the Modernists "double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error." They "possess, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality" and "relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy" (Pascendi no. 3).

3. Faith Is a Feeling. As philosophers, Modernists are agnostics inasmuch as they hold that to know the existence of God is not within the capability of human reason or "the direct object of science," and that God is not to be considered a subject of history (Pascendi no. 6). Hence, they say, faith is a feeling (sensus) that arises from a felt need of the divine whose roots lie hidden in the subconscious, where also the roots of divine revelation lie (Pascendi no. 7). They make religious consciousness the law to which all must submit, even the supreme authority of the Church (Pascendi no. 8). The religious unknowable presents itself in the form of some mysterious phenomenon or some man whose character, actions, and words cannot, apparently, be reconciled with the ordinary laws of history" (Pascendi no. 9).

4. The Evolution of Dogma. From this philosophy the Modernists derive three principles which "constitute the foundation of historical criticism." For example, in the case of the Person of Jesus: a) whatever in his history is suggestive of the divine must be rejected; b) every element that raises Him above historical conditions must be removed; c) every element is also to be removed that is not in keeping with the character, circumstances, and education of Jesus, and with the place and time in which He lived (Pascendi no. 9). Modernists say that "what we call dogmas are liable to change," since religious formulas "have no other purpose than to furnish the believer with a means of giving an account of his faith to himself" (Pascendi no. 12). And thus "the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma," since these formulas, "should be living, and should live the very life of the religious sense" (Pascendi no. 13).

Click here for more. It is important to know what 'modern' Catholics are up against. Modernists live in the 'real world' but do not give assent to the truths of Divine Revelation, preferring a mere human philosophy that is fundamentally disassociated from the fullness of the 'real' Faith as possessed by the Catholic Church, to which we, as members of the faithful are called to give assent for our Salvation.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

The 'Real World'

Protect the Pope today reports on a Reuters article which is a true jaw-dropper. It's open warfare in the Vatican as the 'old guard' in the CDF stand up to defend marriage and Christian teaching while the 'new vanguard' propose new ways of understanding that which the Church has taught since Her beginning. Not to put too fine a point on it, even the National 'Catholic' Reporter are presenting this story as 'Cardinal Vs Cardinal'. This is a noteworthy phrase to be applied by the media because various prophecies of recent centuries have forecast a Church future in which Bishop would be against Bishop and Cardinal against Cardinal.

According to Reuters...

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a "kitchen cabinet" the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller - who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce - was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms.

"The world isn't like that, my brother," Rodriguez said in a German newspaper interview, rhetorically addressing Mueller in a rare public criticism among senior Church figures.

"You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don't just listen and say, 'here is the wall'," Rodriguez said in an interview with the daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Rodriguez, archbishop of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, did not cite any possible reforms in particular but said the pope's critics, such as those upset by his attacks on capitalism, were "people who don't understand reality."

"The world isn't like that, my brother."  

Excuse me, but we're well aware of what the world is like because we live in it. I was under the impression that the Holy Father has, since his election, been condemning 'worldliness'. Isn't the whole point of his call to radical Christian love the central premise is that Christians should live differently and believe differently to 'the world'. Eh? No?

And so we have a Cardinal close to the Pope's ear now calling out those who stand up for the Christian vocation to marriage for being too 'black and white' concerning its place in the Church as a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

What else about the state of marriage in the 'real world' does Cardinal Maradiaga believe should be accommodated by the CDF? Artificial contraception? Adultery? Domestic violence? Drunken and abusive fathers? Child abuse? Go into the 'real world' and you'll find plenty of all of it, but the fact is that none of it is blessed by God and all of it is destructive to individuals, families and spouses. The 'real world', upon brief examination, makes plain that divorce and remarriage not only constitutes the tearing apart of the original marital bond and the breaking of a public vow to God, but leaves often in its trail broken families and heart-broken children.

"You should be a bit flexible when you hear other voices, so you don't just listen and say, 'here is the wall'.

Does Christ's voice, made clear in the Gospels and made evident throughout the teachings of countless Popes, Doctors of the Church and Saints have nothing to offer the Church in the 21st century. Is this Cardinal an atheist or something? Does Cardinal Maradiaga suggest that when children make demands of their parents that run contrary to the child's good, that the parents consider the child's plea? Does the Church have no Divine Truth to offer to its children other than 'flexibility in all things?' 

"People who don't understand reality."

Frightening. At the same time as the reality of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist is disbelieved by so many, at the same time as the reality of the effect of marital breakdown, divorce and remarriage becomes more evident in society, at the same time as the reality of the rejection of so much wisdom and truth offered to the World by the Catholic Church becomes more painfully clear, Cardinal Maradiaga accuses anyone who is not entirely convinced by the Pontiff's personal critique of capitalism of not 'understanding reality' while remaining subjective on other matters. People who live and work in capitalism might understand it better than people who decided to become priests instead, devoting their lives to God, to be funded entirely by the generosity of others.

This Cardinal in one breath invokes the god of relativism by suggesting that the Church does not possess Divine truth on a subject (like divorce, re-marriage and the Sacraments) and then insists that there exists an absolute position for the Church to be taken on capitalism based solely on the personal opinion of Pope Francis in an Apostolic Exhortation. The whole problem (and it is one that Benedict XVI touched on many times) it is only when Our Lord Jesus Christ is rejected as the Reality in which our lives make any sense whatsoever, that we fashion for ourselves a 'new reality' which is entirely subjective. Basically, Cardinal Mardiaga is talking like an atheist who knows nothing about the Church's teaching, criticising Church claims to absolute truths that should be believed by all the Faithful.

After five minutes of listening to Cardinal Maradiaga's Dallas speech, I couldn't help but think that the Cardinal needs to 'take a chill pill' and relax a little about the 'social Gospel' he keeps hammering home wherever he is. There are other things to consider in the Christian life, like saving our immortal souls, striving to live in a State of Grace, prayer and more.

The sad fact of the matter is that neither Cardinal-designate Muller or Cardinal Maradiaga or even Pope Francis himself live in the 'real world'.  They live in the Vatican, which is about as far removed from the 'real world' as possible. The difference is that Cardinal-designate Muller is prepared to fulfill his teaching role and his job specification at the CDF for standing up to defend Christian dogma and Catholic Truth, whereas Cardinal Mardiaga is prepared to sell-out the Catholic Faith because he  would seem not to believe in it, its teachings or the perhaps even the Divinity of its Founder and Head.

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

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