Wednesday, 29 December 2010

My mum forced me to clean my teeth

I am heartily sick of the protest "I don't go to Mass because my parents forced me to go when I was young." OK Son, what else did your parents force you to do?

Your parents forced you to wash before you went out in the morning. Those cruel tyrants made sure that you cleaned your teeth before you went to bed. They dragged you kicking and screaming to school so that you could learn to read - and the teachers collaborated by forcing you to learn the alphabet and put the words together.

To top it all, after looking after your physical needs, they had the temerity to exercise their authority by looking after your spiritual needs and taking you to Mass on Sunday.

If they had neglected to see that you were clean, had suitable clothes, ate some sort of nourishing food, got some education and crossed the road safely, they would have been visited by social services and given a care plan so that you could be healthy and safe.

And you are complaining because they took responsibility for your eternal life?

In this context, it is relevant to quote again the classic:
Ten reasons why I never wash
  1. I was forced to as a child.
  2. People who wash are hypocrites - they think they are cleaner than everybody else.
  3. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can't decide which one is best.
  4. I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.
  5. I wash only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.
  6. None of my friends wash.
  7. I'll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
  8. I can't spare the time.
  9. The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
  10. People who make soap are only after your money.

Marini wars

This video came my way by a correspondent. I know that some of you will roll about laughing while others will feel it is a little disrespectful. I think it is meant in fun so I thought it would be a good thing to post in the Christmas season.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas

I wish you all a very happy Christmas. May God bless you, your families and loved ones on this holy feast.

I am writing this after having prepared things for the Midnight Mass which is always such a lovely celebration in the parish. A lot of people have helped to get things ready so please say a prayer for them in thanksgiving for their generosity. I'll time this post to go up just after midnight and tomorrow after the parish Masses, I will be with my sister and her family.

Friday, 24 December 2010

"Of Gods and Men" - worth seeing

Yesterday I went to see "Of God's and Men" which was screened at the Greenwich Picturehouse. The film tells of a Trappist monastery in Algeria in the time before seven of the community were beheaded in 1996 by Muslim extremists.

The performance of Michael Lonsdale as "Father Luc" was outstanding. He was the doctor who looked after local people with patience and kindness, and attended to the bullet wound of one of the terrorists, remarking to the Prior that he had also treated Nazis in his time.

The heroism of the monks is shown against the backdrop of uncertainty in the community. The decision to remain despite the growing menace is only reached gradually but once they are agreed, there is a wonderful scene in which Father Luc brings a couple of bottles of wine to supper the night before they are all taken. He puts on a tape of the dying swan from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and the characters of the individual monks are shown in their faces.

The 15 certificate is probably given because of a scene that is (unnecessarily) graphic early on when the terrorists cut some people's throats. Apart from that, there is nothing unpleasant, and I would recommend this film to you as a sympathetic portrayal of genuine nobility, courage, and Christian charity.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pope on "Thought for the Day"

The Holy Father is doing the BBC's "Thought for the day" tomorrow at 7.30am (it will be on the website for a few days afterwards.) Damian Thompson has a fun post on the secularists' reactions: Christmas hilarity as National Secular Society goes nuts over Pope's Thought for the Day

UPDATE: Here is the link to the message.


Blog dog

Having been traumatised by dogs biting me in my early childhood I have never been at ease with them. However there are a few exceptions and Oscar is one of them. A better-natured dog you could not find. Here he is in Greenwich Park submitting with holy resignation not only to the snow but to a Father Christmas costume. Happy Christmas old chap.

UPDATE: thanks for information that this is in fact not Greenwich Park but St Paul's, Deptford.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Backbone award: Bishop Olmsted

Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona has revoked consent for St John's Hospital and medical center in Phoenix to use the name "Catholic" or to be identified as Catholic. The reason for this decision is set out in a separate notice, mentioning particularly the hospital's being responsible for contraception, sterilisation and abortion.

At the Diocese of Phoenix website, there is the video featured above in which Bishop Olmsted makes a statement and answers questions. Several people have pointed to the answer he gives at about 23'30" on the reactions to him in the Catholic blogosphere. His answer drew applause:
I really don't read the blogospheres. I try to pray each day to find my identity in Jesus Christ. I start my day every day with an hour of adoration. I celebrate the Eucharist. I pray morning prayer, midday prayer, evening prayer and night prayer. My identity comes from Christ. Christ is present in his living body, the Church: that's my identity, it comes from that. If I'm unfaithful to that, then whether I'm looked at one way or another, if I'm given praise or whether I'm given ridicule, it doesn't matter. What I'm called to be is faithful to Jesus Christ and his Church.
I think you will agree that it is a shoo-in for Bishop Olmsted to receive the "backbone award."

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A better digital nativity

There has been a clever digital nativity doing the rounds. I didn't post it because some of it was not respectful. The great guys at Igniter Media have done a much better one (see above). I don't go along with every detail (as Protestants, they naturally go along slightly with the hermeneutic of suspicion re. St Joseph) but it is basically a good presentation of the nativity and so I am happy to post it here.

CDF clarifies the Pope's comments

The CDF has issued a note On the trivilization of sexuality; Regarding certain interpretations of "Light of the World"Eschewing the proposition that condoms may be considered as a lesser evil, the CDF states:
The response of the entire Christian tradition – and indeed not only of the Christian tradition – to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: "Flee from fornication" (1 Cor 6:18).
Indeedy doody. I also agree with Fr Z:
I think the main point of this CDF Note should have been published before the book was released. But… spilled milk and all.

IDS holds up St Joseph as a role model

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has written an article about St Joseph for the Daily Mail today. See: History's greatest male role model and a humbling lesson for feckless fathers today Let me first say that this is a most encouraging article and it is great that IDS has chosen to write on this theme. I agree with much of what he says and my pedantic quibbles should not overshadow the service that he has done.

So let us get the quibbles out of the way. IDS says "I am not a churchman and I am not given to commenting on Christian theology" Since I am and I am, I suppose it is not too surprising that I would take issue with one or two of the comments in the article. I don't hold to the hermeneutic of suspicion in the story of Joseph - the idea that he suspected Our Lady of adultery and that he put her away quietly to save her being stoned to death. As an upright and just man in the culture of his time, he would have been more likely to allow the Jewish law to take its course if he was suspicious in that way. The hermeneutic of reverence is more likely - that he realised that something mighty sacred was going on and felt unworthy to be part of it. However, I can't really criticise IDS for this since some of the Fathers of the Church followed the line he takes. He is also wrong about the betrothal. Mary would not have been an "unmarried mother" since betrothal in the Jewish law was more than our "engagement"; it was a contract of marriage that had not yet been consummated.

Quibus dictis, IDS is absolutely right about St Joseph as a role model for men today:
In parts of our society, too many young men and women grow up without the experience of a loving father. And we seem to have forgotten what an important role a father plays. It’s about far more than earning enough money to provide shelter and place food on the table; it’s about nurturing, support and loyalty, it’s about providing the best male role model that a man can.
There is a further niggle in that IDS makes much of "the Christian Church" underplaying the role of St Joseph. This is possibly fair comment since non-Catholic Christians in many cases underplay the role of St Joseph and, let's be honest, the Virgin Mary as well.

In the Catholic Church we have underplayed the role of the Saints in the time between the second Vatican Council and the rise of the blogosphere. However the place of St Joseph in our devotion was greatly increased in the 19th and 20th centuries, leading to the enthusiastic (if liturgically questionable) decision of Blessed Pope John XXIII to insert his name into the Roman Canon.

If IDS and the readers of the Daily Mail were to read the Catholic press and the Catholic blogs, they would find much enthusiasm for the figure of St Joseph. I have only recently submitted an article for the Christmas edition of the Catholic Herald in which I focus on the person of St Joseph.

So yes, the right Honourable Minister is right to highlight the role of St Joseph. I would encourage him to see where support for this view lies. He will find many allies in his sincere and helpful reflection.

H/T for the link to @catholicherald on Twitter

Good sense on marriage

Robert George is one of the three authors of a paper titled "What is Marriage?" for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. I haven't time to read it at the moment but looking at the abstract, I though it would be worth passing on to you:
In the article, we argue that as a moral reality, marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together, and renewed by acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction. We further argue that there are decisive principled as well as prudential reasons for the state to enshrine this understanding of marriage in its positive law, and to resist the call to recognize as marriages the sexual unions of same-sex partners.

Besides making this positive argument for our position and raising several objections to the view that same-sex unions should be recognized, we address what we consider the strongest philosophical objections to our view of the nature of marriage, as well as more pragmatic concerns about the point or consequences of implementing it as a policy.
I thought this would be a good post to feature the photo of a billboard that I downloaded a while back. It was put up in Harney County, Oregon.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Holy Father's address to the Roman Curia

The scourge of child abuse, the Synod for the Middle East and the Apostolic visit to the UK were the principal themes of the Holy Father's annual Christmas address to the Roman Curia earlier today.

Pope Benedict quoted the vision of St Hildegard of Bingen in relation to the sins of priests. It is a hard-hitting message:
The stigmata of my spouse remain fresh and open, until the wounds of the sins of men are opened. What keeps open the wounds of Christ is precisely the fault of priests. They tear my clothes because they are transgressors of the law, of the gospel and of their priestly duties. They take away the splendour of my mantle because they completely obscure the precepts imposed upon them. They soil my shoes because they do not walk on straight paths; that is, the hard and sever paths of justice, and they also do not give a good example to those subject to them. Nevertheless, I find in some the splendour of truth.
The Holy Father goes on to speak of the culture of the 1970s in which paedophilia was approved by many as something acceptable. He also points to that consequentialism in morality which made such an awful position possible.

The Pope spoke at some length about his visit to the UK and the beatification of John Henry Newman. He quoted from the Blessed Cardinal's diary of 1863:
[...] as a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but as a Catholic, my life dreary, but not my religion
He then went on to speak about Newman's famous toast quote:
In order to assert the identity between the concept which Newman had of conscience and the modern subjective understanding of conscience, people like to refer to his words according to which - in the case when one has to make a toast - that he would have drunk first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this affermation, "conscience" does not mean the ultimate obligation of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility of the binding force of the truth: its primacy is founded in this. The second toast may be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience in the face of the truth.
For the moment, the Holy Father's address is only available in Italian (the above quotations are my own translation) but I expect an English version will be online soon. (UPDATE: it is there now.)

£7 million Christmas tree

The Emirates Palace hotel has installed a Christmas tree decorated with diamonds and other precious stones with a value of £7 million. The tree is meant to represent the United Arab Emirates' values of openness and tolerance. It has become a bit of an embarrassment for the hotel which has realised that the opulence of the tree may not be considered by people in other parts of the world to be in the best possible taste.

I felt a bit sorry for them. It is easy for people to witter on about "openness and tolerance" but the hotel has at least managed to avoid anyone challenging them in the British popular phrase: "put your money where your mouth is."

Usus antiquior: "Do not be afraid!"

Photo credit: Mulier Fortis

Rorate Caeli reports on a conference held in France on the "Extraordinary Form" with the theme "N'ayez pas peur" (Do not be afraid). There are some sensible suggestions from Daniel Hamiche and some reports of experiences in France.

Mgr Nicola Bux was one of the speakers. He remarked that the French Bishops, who are keen on dialogue with non-christians, ought also to dialogue with members of their own flock, and that the celebration of the older form of the Roman Mass should serve to educate people in the celebration of the newer form. He also pointed out that the refusal to allow the Extraordinary Form was a rupture of communion with the Pope. This is a fair comment since the Holy Father has, Motu Proprio, clarified that the older form of the Mass is not abrogated or forbidden.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

New site planned for L'Osservatore - "Era ora"

L'Osservatore Romano has announced that it is to renew its website during the next year (the 150th anniversary of the newspaper.) It is mainly about an agreement with the Spanish newspaper La Razón but includes hints of other possible improvements.

I enjoyed the comment from Paolo Rodari which reminded me of an excellent Italian idiom Era ora. In English this would be something like "about time" but the pithy Italian which would literally be "it was (already) the hour" expresses it in a way that we can't manage so well in English.

Snowfalls in UK "just a thing of the past" (Independent 2000)

London Snow
Taken in London yesterday. Photo credit: Mike Fleming

Over the past few years, snowfall in winter in the UK has generated a number of clichés referring to how useless we are at dealing with it compared with, say Finland, Canada or anywhere that snow falls ten times as heavily. There is also the one about how silly it sounds to talk about global warming.

Both of these now wearisome saws are met by rebuttals such as saying that we don't have the money or the depth of snow to keep the equipment, or that it is a question of "climate change" not global warming.

Those arguments can run and run, so it is fun to see that A Tangled Blog has dug up a really embarrassing article from the Independent from ten years ago in which climate change experts themselves explicitly went for the short-term hypothesis, blaming the lack of snow for a few years on global warming: Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past. The article begins:
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
The article tells us about a relentless rise in temperatures that can lead to hot summers, but goes on:
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.
(NB - University of East Anglia - see for example.) Read the whole article; it is hilarious.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Four new Deacons at Wonersh

incense rc

Congratulations to four new Deacons who were ordained at St John's Seminary, Wonersh this morning by Bishop Kieran Conry. Revv John Chandler (Portsmouth), Daniel Kelly (Brentwood), David King (Arundel and Brighton) and Jonathon Routh (Southwark) are all now in major orders and hope to be ordained to the priesthood during 2011.

Last night there was a holy hour, followed by Compline and Benediction, as an immediate spiritual preparation for the ceremony (the ordinands had just come back from their retreat.) This morning, the seminary celebrated Lauds at 7.30am before a quick breakfast and a lot of jobs to be done by the sacristans, servers, and singers.

Above you can see the altar of Our Lady Queen of the Clergy with the image being incensed for the singing of the Marian anthem. (I expect there will be some photos of the ordination online soon.) Here is a close-up of the image of the Regina Cleri:

Regina Cleri

Please offer a prayer to her for the new Deacons. I have known them since they began at the Seminary and they have all patiently endured my course in Sacramental Theology so it was a great joy for me to be able to be present at their ordinations today.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Update on "practical charity"

On Sunday, in my post Practical charity needed now, I asked for your generosity to help a young girl whose baby was due. I have heard that thanks to donations received from you and from Fr Z's blog, the young lady now has everything that she needs. the pregnancy crisis team who contacted me said
Can't tell you how moved I am with the generosity of your bloggers.

Your bloggers have made this babies first christmas an incredible one.
Thank you all very much for your response.

Christmas is a good time for making some charitable donations as well as buying nice things for our friends and families. If you want to support this kind of work, two highly recommended groups are:

Sisters of the Gospel of Life
Good Counsel Network

You'll find "Donate" links at both.

Our Lady of Guadalupe at Westminster Cathedral

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been on a nationwide tour, being venerated in 16 of our 22 Dioceses. The close of the nine week "Novena" was led by Archbishop Nichols at Westminster Cathedral. His Grace prayed the prayer of Pope John Paul II to the Virgin of Guadalupe which he offered at her basilica in Mexico on his first foreign trip as Pope:
O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.
In our own culture, the request that Our Lady should protect our families and bless the upbringing of our children is particularly important.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

New Nuncio appointed: Archbishop Antonio Mennini

I had prepared a post to put up when the Vatican Bollettino announced that the new Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain is Archbishop Antonio Mennini. However,  the Tablet has now announced it online so perhaps that is the new channel for announcements of this kind.

Archbishop Mennini, 63, has been Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation since 2002 and was additionally appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Uzbekistan in 2008. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rome in 1974 and consecrated Bishop in 2000. He has also served as Nuncio in Bulgaria. He is pictured presenting his credentials to President Vladimir Putin in the Alexander Hall of the Kremlin Palace.

As a young priest, Fr Mennini was a go-between, enabling communication between the family of Aldo Moro, the Christian Democrat former Prime Minister of Italy, and the Red Brigades who had kidnapped Moro in 1978 and eventually killed him after 55 days in captivity.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Janet Smith responds to Fr Ronheimer

Recently, Fr Ronheimer had an article in Our Sunday Visitor regarding the Holy Father's remarks on condoms. Fr Ronheimer has written before on the prophylactic use of condoms.

Ethicist Janet Smith has offered a substantial reply to the arguments of Fr Romheimer. I think that she is quite right in arguing that whatever a person might advise in an individual case out of desperation when someone is determined to act in an immoral way, the translation of that advice into public (or ecclesiastical) policy will be harmful because it will inevitably be taken as an excuse or an encouragement for acting immorally. I agree with her also that the use of condoms by a couple (married or not) is always contraceptive by virtue of the nature of the act, whatever the intention might be.

Several times, Janet Smith argues that these subjects should be debated in professional journals rather than in popular media, so that moral theologians can thrash the matter out. I have some sympathy with this position although I suppose it is inevitable that these matters will be discussed everywhere nowadays. I don't suggest that it was her intention to do so, but her remarks would apply to the question of whether a Pope should be opening up related questions in a popular interview with a journalist before having the matter hammered out in the numerous departments that are at his disposal at the Holy See.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Practical charity needed now

I have received a message from a group who help mothers who are tempted to have an abortion. Here is the information:
This young girl's baby is due in 3 days time and she has not yet got any of the essentials she needs for when he arrives. This girl previously had booked an appointment for abortion but changed her mind and has faced a really difficult pregnancy and has shown incredible courage to keep her baby despite immense pressure to have an abortion. Right now she needs really practical help and money. We are trying to raise at least £1000 for her to get some basic essential and support her and the baby is due in 3 days! Please give generously via Paypal to
Owing to the circumstances of the young lady, the details must be kept confidential but I am happy to vouch that this is a bone fide appeal. If you are able to help, please do. It would be a good Christmas gift to the Lord.

Friday, 10 December 2010


I have just added The to the blogroll. The blog has two updates on normal days and one on Sundays and feast days, giving about a dozen links to stories of interest. I find these sort of blogs helpful to have on the news reader. Congratulations on the clever URL, too!

I thought that an illustration or two might be in order. The above pulpit is from the Church of Our Lady in Bruges. The two below are from Churches in Krakow. Pulpits - good thing!



Bad vestment of the month

From Bad Vestments blog.

Hint to priest/minister in the picture: they are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Immaculate Conception with the sisters dedicated to the Immaculate

Last night the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate came to my parish to sing for the Mass of the Immaculate Conception. It was a privilege to be able to pray and sing with them on their feast day. Thanks to Mulier Fortis for the photo.

In my sermon I quoted from the Meditations and Devotions of the Blessed John Henry Newman in which he reflects on some of the titles of Our Lady which are included in the Litany of Loreto. On the title Virgo praedicanda – which means “Virgin who ought to be preached” - he points out that “We are accustomed to preach abroad that which is wonderful, strange, rare, novel, important”, and that the rarest prerogative of Mary is that she is without sin. He explains:
[...] she is deserving to be preached abroad because she never committed any sin, even the least; because sin had no part in her; because, through the fulness of God's grace, she never thought a thought, or spoke a word, or did an action, which was displeasing, which was not most pleasing, to Almighty God; because in her was displayed the greatest triumph over the enemy of souls. Wherefore, when all seemed lost, in order to show what He could do for us all by dying for us; in order to show what human nature, His work, was capable of becoming; to show how utterly He could bring to naught the utmost efforts, the most concentrated malice of the foe, and reverse all the consequences of the Fall, our Lord began, even before His coming, to do His most wonderful act of redemption, in the person of her who was to be His Mother. By the merit of that Blood which was to be shed, He interposed to hinder her incurring the sin of Adam, before He had made on the Cross atonement for it. And therefore it is that we preach her who is the subject of this wonderful grace.

From the top again: 7th alto a little quieter please

Josquin's Qui habitat (Psalm 90) for 24 voices, performed by the Huelgas Ensemble directed by Paul Van Nevel.

H/T Jeffrey Tucker at the Chant Café: Multi-Part Music that Reaches to the Heavens where there is also Ockehem's Deo gratis - for 36 voices! I'm not sure whether it is the Deo Gratias for the end of Mass. If so, the celebrant will have plenty of time to say the Placeat tibi meditatively before giving the blessing.

This music is beautiful to listen to but I did wonder mischievously whether it would give choir directors material for some stressful nightmares as in the post title :-)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

All for the Lord

I was glad to be able to join some of my brother priests today at the Day of Recollection organised by Opus Dei at Wickenden Manor in Sussex and that the weather was such that I was able to drive there and back. (The photo is a view from the house.) I'll not attempt to summarise the conferences of the kindly Father Frank but will pass on to you just one of the insights that stayed with me.

Whatever we do as priests (and, of course, as lay people too) we should try to do with purity of intention. As a priest I may need to do some paperwork, arrange to fix the roof, catechise some children, or take Holy Communion to someone who is sick. In any of these tasks, I should try to work either in mundane or sacred things so as to please the Lord. God gives us the tasks that we need to do. We should do them for Him and not for ourselves.

After arriving home, I prepared for our evening Mass for the Immaculate Conception. More about that soon.

Solemn Alma

Something glorious for you on the morning of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

H/T The Chant Café

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Background to worries about the new ICEL text

There have been some worrying reports about changes being made at the CDW to the final text of the new (corrected) English translation of the Roman Missal. Although the Ordinary presented by ICEL and approved by the Bishops' Conferences is nearly all unaltered, there have apparently been a large number of changes been made to the propers. On Wikispooks there is a leaked document examining Areas of Difficulty in the Received Text of the Missal. There is also a collection of pdfs giving the entire "Received Text which is the bone of contention.

Jeffrey Tucker has a comprehensive account of the process, the worries - and indeed suggestions for a remedy. See: The Mystery of the Leaked Missal. He also links to a further article of interest: A funny thing happened on the way to the 2010 Received Text.

(Incidentally, I just sent off today my weekly "Catholic Dilemmas" column in which I discuss (very briefly) the question of wikileaks and the right to the truth as set out in the Catechism 2488-2492. In the case of the above leak on wikispooks, I am of the view that there is a grave and proportionate reason for publishing the information and that it is a case of genuine public benefit.)

Paparatzi blog to #4

Il blog degli amici di Papa Ratzinger has run out of space again on account of their having put up 11,000 posts since they started blog number 3 on 11 December last. See today's last post before "arms and baggage" were moved, which includes this sentence:
E ora procediamo con lo "switch-off" nella speranza che non si verifichino problemi tecnici che i Lombardi ben conoscono in questi giorni :-)

And now we proceed with the "switch off" in the hope that there will not occur those technical problems which the Lombardis know well in these times :-)
Old Romans will enjoy the expression "lo switch-off".

Raffaella and friends are now blogging at Il blog degli amici di Papa Ratzinger [4]. Auguri!

Germain Grisez textbook online

Germain Grisez was Professor of Christian Ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland for 30 years from 1979 to 2009. A high respected moral theologian, his major work is now available online: The Way of the Lord Jesus. There are some clear rules of use in the sidebar but you can print off any of the material for personal use if you wish.

The Way of the Lord Jesus is in three volumes but a fourth is projected, dealing with Clerical and Consecrated Service and Life.

Relics of Newman to visit Ealing

The relics of Blessed John Henry Newman will be visiting St Benedict's Parish Ealing Abbey on the evening of Tuesday 18 January. here is the programme for the evening:

5.15pm: Solemn Vespers
6.00pm :Holy Mass
6.45pm: Veneration of the Relics
followed by food and refreshments served in the Parish Hall
8.00pm :Talk on Blessed John Henry Newman
given by Fr Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Dictatorship of Relativism in action

Threats of violence from aggressive secularists have forced Cardinal Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, to cancel an address at the Autonomous University of Madrid. His Eminence was going to speak about "The God who is unknown to 21st century Spaniards." Fr Z, who reports on this, rightly draws a parallel with the cancellation of the Holy Father's proposed visit to La Sapienza University in Rome.

I found it sinister that the Spanish government said that it could not guarantee the cardinal’s security. It may well be a prudent decision, as in the case of the Holy Father, to cancel an event which is likely to be accompanied by TV footage of riot police restraining violent demonstrators. Nevertheless it is one of the most basic functions of a democracy to ensure the safety of people who are going about their lawful business. To say that "we cannot guarantee your personal safety" has long been a tactic of totalitarian governments in the suppression of free speech. This is the "Dictatorship of Relativism" in action.

Original report at EWTN

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bleg - Christmas preface in tono solemniori

My MC has pinned me down and got me to agree to singing the preface at Christmas Midnight Mass in the more solemn tone. Actually it didn't take much persuading really; it does seem the right thing to do. The problem is that I have never sung the more solemn tone and need to learn it properly. I have the score and I will be having a run-through with a good singer tomorrow. It would be useful to have a video or an mp3 file to practise with but I couldn't find one just now.

If you know of somewhere on the internet where there is such a video or sound file, please drop the link into the combox or send me an email ( If you send me a file by email, please let me know whether it can be reposted here for public use.

If you are looking for the same thing yourself, I will update this post as and when something turns up.

UPDATE: Fr Z has now posted the needed mp3 file. Many thanks indeed Father.

Dominican snowball fight

It is good to see that the Irish Dominican brothers have a chance to let off some steam innocently with a snowball fight. I did like the way that the older Father used the cloak as a sort of force shield. He held up well against the younger brothers.

The Irish Dominicans give excellent catechesis on Advent and on various other topics (see the YouTube channel irishdominicans). However I suppose this will be the video that goes viral!

Holy igloo at Blackfen

We have had a little snow in this part of the world. Not much by the standards of many of my readers in the US, Helsinki and suchlike, but we have schools closed, railway stations deserted, businesses closed and the usual British "terribly surprised" attitude to snow in winter.

One of my families in the parish like to build igloos at this time of year. As you can see above, it is a distinctively Catholic igloo.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Outside the Magic Circle

Dominic Scarborough has written an article for Catholic World Report Outside the Magic Circle which is subtitled "Tension builds between the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and orthodox Catholics." He looks at the way in which the BCEW presents a common front on every issue, the ostracism of Bishop O'Donoghue, the Soho Masses, the designation of "Taliban Catholics", and the response to Summorum Pontificum. It is an interesting article in that we all know this stuff but having it set out clearly in Catholic World Report is a step forward.

Irish Dominicans: Reason for the Season

The Irish Province of the Dominicans has put up a new section on their website: "Reason for the Season". This has been set up by the student brothers to give some background for the seasons of the Liturgical year so as to help people participate in the mysteries of Christ's life. There will be more in the period leading up to Christmas.

The Dominicans are formally called the Order of Preachers. It is encouraging to see the great preachers using new media in the service of the Gospel.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Anthony McCarthy on the condom debate

Anthony McCarthy has written an important article regarding the Holy Father's recent comments on condoms. He has had some trouble getting it published elsewhere so I am happy to post it here as a Scribd file which you can view, download, or print as convenient.

I think that this is an important and helpful contribution to the debate that the Holy Father has instigated and I agree with Anthony.

Pope Condoms (McCarthy)

33 Martyrs of Yang Kia Ping

Theresa Marie Moreau at Veritas Est Libertas writes of the story of the 33 martyrs of the Trappist Monastery of Yang Kia Ping.

The photo to the right is of Father Chrysostomus. Theresa tells of his fortitude at the final ludicrously unjust people's trial before he was shot with several of his brothers. Here is just a small section:
Father Chrysostomus Chang plumbed the depths of his human will for a supernatural strength. With only a few minutes remaining of his life in the material world, he lifted his thoughts to the spiritual. Through screams from the mob, he addressed his confreres at his side one last time, to prepare them not for death, but for life, everlasting life.

“We’re going to die for God. Let us lift our hearts one more time, in offering our total beings,” he said.
After being shot, the bodies of the holy monks were thrown into a sewage ditch where wild dogs came to lick their blood.

The whole account tells of unspeakable active cruelty combined with the deliberate neglect of basic human needs. To make people walk around in soiled clothes because they have not been allowed to relieve themselves seems to me a particularly diabolical aspect of persecution from the French revolution onwards. It is designed to degrade the humanity of a person and break their spirit. It did not succeed with these holy monks.

On the other hand, Theresa tells a tale of heroism, and the spiritual life lived with perfect fidelity even under the pressure of cruel physical and mental torture.

Do read the whole story. These men should be canonised.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Changing vocabulary instead of saving lives

In the USA, the term "mental retardation" has now been replaced by "intellectual disability". Good: but it would be more convincing if children with trisomy were actually allowed to live.

Leticia Velasquez is a co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome, has written for MercatorNet, pointing out that drawing a new word from the thesaurus, while welcome in itself, is a hollow gesture if we continue to abort most children with trisomy. She says:
My point is this; if an entire class of people, those with three sets of the 21st chromosome, are routinely targeted for destruction -- at a scandalous rate of 90 per cent -- can merely changing the term we use to describe those 10 per cent who escape the net increase respect for their human dignity and intrinsic value to society in a meaningful way? Isn’t a more fundamental change required before having a child with Down syndrome goes from being the greatest fear of pregnant women to being widely accepted by society?
She also reports the puzzlement of a psychiatrist who travelled to Ireland and noticed far more people with Downs syndrome than he was used to. Eventually he realised that this was because abortion is not allowed in Ireland and so children with trisomy are by and large casually accepted in everyday life.

See: No more “mental retardation”. So?

Winter stable at Papa Stronsay

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are watching over the cattle, sheep and donkeys at Papa Stronsay. The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemeer, also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists, have posted photos of preparing the winter stables and getting the animals in safely, with the bull segregated into the Nazareth stable away from the cows. See: The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib....

The Holy Island of Papa Stronsay calendar is still available to purchase on ebay.

Papal ninjas build snowman

You never know when the Papal ninjas will strike. A correspondent had just gone round the corner for some shopping. By the time he returned, the ninjas had stolen into his back garden, scaled the wall of his house to retrieve the St Ninian tartan scarf and made a pastoral staff with other handy objects lying around.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rare footage of St Pio

This charming video of St Pio of Pietrelcina shows some rare footage of the saintly Franciscan with his brothers. At times there is an atmosphere of playfulness redolent of the Fioretti of St Francis. At the end, they are obviously teasing him about the camera and he hits the cameraman with his cincture. We see him in the refectory and in the Church, and there are scenes of his brothers dealing with the massive postbag which he generated. Starting at 4'23" there is some footage of Padre Pio as celebrant at High Mass.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Danger of censorship under the guise of crime prevention

Are we seeing the beginning of attempts to control the internet if material embarrasses the government? Guido Fawkes' runs a massively influential English political blog. Today he has posted an article regarding an agreement by Nominet ("which controls the .uk part of the internet") to allow the police to take down any website without recourse to the courts.

Guido refers to Richard Baron's article Internet censorship on his blog Analysis and Synthesis. The post includes a well-argued letter that he has written in response to Nominet's request for feedback.

Of course we all want sites that run scams, show child porn, or facilitate terrorism to be taken down. The question at issue is whether this is simply a decision to be made by the police or whether some kind of due process (such as obtaining a court order) should be observed in order to ensure that such censorship is not inflicted arbitrarily. I agree with Richard Baron that sites should not be closed down simply because they express "extreme" views.

The danger for Catholic blogs is that "equality" legislation is increasingly opposed to the free expression of Catholic doctrine. Pope Benedict reflected on this in some of the less controversial parts of his recent interview "Light of the World" and in his excellent book "Truth and Tolerance". If law enforcement agencies are allowed to decide motu proprio that a site must be closed down, we have then moved another step nearer to a police state.

Guido has some good advice in his post about spreading one's internet footprint around in various legal jurisdictions.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Praying for the dead

Many thanks to the Mulier Fortis for composing this slideshow of photos from our Mass for All Souls and the blessing of graves the Sunday after. In the last few days of November, don't forget to pray for your deceased relatives and friends and for all the forgotten souls in purgatory - and indeed nowadays, those who have never been prayed for.

Talking about the English Martyrs

At the John Fisher School in Purley today, I gave the boys at the Faith Group a talk about the English Martyrs. I made a rather dismissive comment about the teaching of history nowadays and then proceeded to be thoroughly corrected by their impressive knowledge of the monarchs of the period between 1535 and 1681 (and the "Commonwealth") and many details of the history of the period.

That was actually a great help since I could leave aside all that and speak about some of the martyrs, their sufferings, their character, and the dirty tricks that were played on them in an attempt to discredit them. The questions were intelligent and it was my initiative to call things to a close after about an hour, rather than having to throw in the towel (as sometimes happens with talks to youngsters) when restlessness sets in. It was relatively easy because there are so many stirring stories associated with our glorious martyrs.

After the talk, there is tea and buttered toast - a long-standing tradition of the Faith Group at the Fisher School - along with pool playing and, for me, a chance to have a chat with the Headmaster who kindly found the time to call in. Afterwards I went with Sir Dan of the blogosphere (right) to a restaurant at Tattenham Corner, overlooking the Epsom Downs racecourse, for a session of plotting and scheming the reform of the Church, opposing all bogginess.

I took the above picture four years ago in the Chapter House at Parkminster where the monks are reminded of the sufferings of their heavenly companions. Since that time, the paintings have been cleaned. I would love to take some new photos some time. You can read a little about the Carthusian Martyrs at my post Pictures of the Carthusian Martyrs in the Chapter House.

bonum ex integra causa malum ex quocumque defectu

There are two helpful and thoughtful articles today on the Great Condom Debate. At Joseph Shaw's Casuistry blog, there is a discussion very much in the style of articles that I read as an undergraduate (Joseph is Fellow and Tutor in philosophy at St Benet's Hall). It is rigorously and methodically argued: The Pope on condoms: some conclusions

Then K Gurries at Opuscula has a look at the question using the traditional Catholic analysis of the moral act in terms of object, intention and circumstances: The sources of morality.

I found the latter article very helpful because I spent some time the other day reading Noldin (a standard Latin manual of moral theology) on this very subject, as well as H J Davis - a similar book but written in English. I was reminded of a Latin tag:
bonum ex integra causa malum ex quocumque defectu
Literally this means "good (thing) from an integral cause, bad (thing) from any defect whatever" which isn't terribly helpful. A more Ronald Knox-friendly translation into good English (used in the article Good in the Catholic Encyclopaedia) would be "An action is good when good in every respect; it is wrong when wrong in any respect."

Neither of the articles will solve the problem of the Pope's comments for you but both of them will help you with some moral theology. I certainly found them good because I am not a moral theologian; I'm a dogmatist. But you knew that already ;-)

Meanwhile, John Smeaton has been looking at the claim that "the Church has never spoken out against the use of condoms outside of marriage" and has a very useful series of quotations.

Superb issue of Catholic Herald

The Catholic Herald is the best Catholic paper in Britain but this week I felt that it had excelled itself. The banner headline "Benedict XVI: the inside story" was exactly right with an excellent summary article by Anna Arco who confessed on Facebook on Tuesday "Grrrrrr. Press day = stress day" I imagine it must have been particularly stressful this week since as well as the front page article, she has several others on pages 2-3 on which she and and colleagues provide good, accurate and concise summary and comments on Light of the World. Following the Herald on Twitter, I learned that Anna had also got hold of a copy of the German edition. This illustrates the kind of attention to accuracy and detail which puts the Herald out in front.

Ronald Knox once quipped that a typical headline in the Catholic papers was "Nun stung by bee on way to Benediction". I remember once at Oxford when this quote was doing the rounds, that a Catholic paper had the headline "Vicar sends Pope a pair of socks." Therefore it is perhaps in the genre for the front page to include "Pope give £85,000 truffle to homeless" (to avoid any silly outrage on this matter, let me hasten to add that the truffle in question had been donated to the Pope by an Italian businessman who paid 100,000 euro for it at a charity auction.)

Of course there is "other news" this week and the paper covers the Bishops' Conference, focussing particularly on the setting up of the Ordinariate, it has two good articles on the consistory, and covers the illicit episcopal ordination of Fr Joseph Guo Jincai in China.

The feature articles complement this week's issue with a piece on Dorothy Day and a fascinating article by Sister Janet Fearns with testimonies from the five seminarians at the Phnom Penh seminary in Cambodia. Verbum Domini has not been forgotten: Fr Adrian Graffy has a piece in the prime slot on the Comment page. Opposite that, the letters page this week is particularly good: opening slot is given to the great Fr Hunwicke who gives a fascinating account of the background to Graham Leonard's conditional ordination and the Anglo-Catholic reaction to Apostolicae Curae.

The Catholic Life section is sometimes referred to whimsically as the herald's "Hello" page but I think it has served a good purpose in highlighting local events without becoming ludicrously parochial. For example this week as well as the Passage "Night Under the Stars" concert with various celebrities pictured, there is a photo of the Pilgrimage from Ryde to Quarr and a spendid photo of pupils from the Oratory School on the occasion of their annual Requiem.

The Reviews in the Herald are always of good quality. Although some of them on music and theatre go above my head, when I do know a little about the subject, I normally find them well informed. For instance this week there is an intelligent review by John Jolliffe of Laszlo Dobszay's The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite. That is a fascinating book, by the way: a real contribution to the debate on the Liturgy.

When reading the Herald, I always look forward to some light-hearted banter from Stuart Reid on the back page. If someone else is doing the column I am a little disappointed. However Robin Baird-Smith's piece this week, "Running from silence" is very good indeed, combining personal experience and humour while making a serious point about the abhorrence of silence in today's society.

Quite a bit of the paper's content can be read at the Catholic Herald website and you can get some good snippets as things are being prepared on the @catholicherald Twitter feed, but editor, Luke Coppen, reminds us regularly on Twitter that you need to get the paper to read it all. My own business model would be to put the whole lot on the internet and take a bit more advertising online to boost both revenue and circulation; but then I am a priest and not a businessman.

Someone may of course say "You reptile - you are puffing the Catholic Herald because you write for it and you have a financial interest!" Well it is true that I write a small column (350 words) called "Catholic Dilemmas" but, frankly, it is not a massively significant part of the paper and whether it is accepted or not, my motive in writing in this way on the blog is simply to give credit where credit is due. Bloggers (myself included) are quick to lay into the "dead tree media" so I think that something as good as this week's Herald deserves recognition. We often feel compelled to say negative things on blogs and it is nice to be able to write something positive.

(By the way, the image above is not this week but an old image. I found it on google and thought it was fun.)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Celebrating San Clemente (and St Catherine)

A firework waterfall, relic of St Clement, and a procession through the street with people milling around randomly. All very Roman and it does look fun. (H/T Orbis Catholicus for the video)

When people from the parish tell me that they are going to Rome and ask what to visit, I always recommend that they visit the Basilica of San Clemente. It is near the Colosseum which they want to see anyway, and it gives a good introduction to Rome. The basilica is 12th century and has a cosmatesque paving, choir, and basilica altar. As so often in such Churches in Rome, the beautiful Paschal candlestick and Ambo were not, in my time in Rome, actually used for the Liturgy, as was the case at the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura when I visited a couple of years ago. (See: Bl Pio Nono and the new liturgy)

Underneath the 12th century basilica, there are the remains of a fourth century which has several frescoes such as this 8th century Madonna and child. Below that, there are remains of a first century Roman street complete with a Mithraic temple.

The website for the Basilica of San Clemente has lots of pictures, including those 360 degree ones that make you feel you are on a fairground ride. Important to remember today, on her feast day, is the chapel of St Catherine with its 15th century frescoes depicting the famous wheel which was chopped by an angel when she touched it, and the scene of St Catherine converting the philosophers of Alexandria. On google, I found a post by Samantha Simpson at Monkey Fur which has some great photos.

BBC to show Nativity series

This is just a heads-up for the series to be broadcast by the BBC in December dramatising the story of the Nativity. My first reaction was to groan and wonder what on earth they were going to come up with this year. Looking at one or two notices for it, I have now suspended judgement.

The Churches Together in England carries and enthusiastic endorsement from Peter Greystone of the Church Army, an evangelistic organisation which operates within the Church of England. The BBC have issed a . Press Release where you can find which TV programmes the various actors have been in: I have absolutely no clue about any of them except "Eastenders" whose script writer has written the series. it will be shown as four 30 minute episodes in December though unfortunately the press release doesn't say when these will be.

I very much hope that this will be as good as Peter Greystone says:
Basically the serial tells the stories as they have been handed down to us with straightforward acceptance of them as true. It fills out the back-story with motivations and emotions in order to make it entirely credible. Admittedly, it does incorporate two thousand years of tradition that has gathered around the story (for example, there is a donkey, Mary ends up in blue, all the characters end up squashed in a stable, and so on). But the fact that it declares that this baby is going to save humankind from its sins is so overpowering that all the embellishments become part of the credibility, not distracting.
If you know any more about this series, please put in a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warmest good wishes to all readers from the USA for Thanksgiving Day. God bless your families and God bless America! (And enjoy the turkey!)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Molotov cocktail of planetary magnitude

A Vaticanista looks at the background to the publication of extracts from Light of the World by L'Osservatore Romano.

On his blog Sacro e Profano, Andrés Beltramo has a fascinating article Benedicto XVI no es un ingenuo ("Benedict XVI is not naive"). He says that a few hours before the worldwide launch of the Light of the World, Fr Federico Lombardi expressed his fears to Pope Benedict about the impact of his having agreed to do a book length interview with Peter Seewald:
"Holiness, in the current media environment, would you not think a book like this is a huge risk?"
Perhaps a "dynamic equivalence" translation would be Sergeant Wilson's "Do you think that's wise, Sir?"

Apparently, Lombardi's concern was met with the "knowing smile of a Pope who knew what he was doing"; he knew that his words could be misinterpreted and that he was going to talk about condoms anyway. Beltramo feels that the great value of the Light of the World is its humanity and candour, and that nobody needs to worry about danger to the papal magisterium because Pope Benedict has given the Church a particular gift, that of affirming that Popes have an opinion outside of the magisterial office and that in such matters they can be wrong.

Later in the article, Beltramo comments on the publication of extracts from the interview on Saturday by L'Osservatore Romano. Apparently there is no editorial work on L'Osservatore done on Sunday and the editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, did not want to be lagging behind the Italian papers who would be publishing stories on the Monday. In addition, supposedly, the Liberia Editrice Vaticana did not have a co-ordinated publishing strategy, and excerpts from the book had been given out all over the place. Beltramo describes what happened next in media terms as,
"a molotov cocktail of planetary magnitude, the worst Vatican communications gaffe for a long time."
Beltramo is convinced that there was no conspiracy in the Vatican related to the leaked extracts, just the desire of Vian to get the story out before the Italian papers. Perhaps that is so - but remember that part of the Vatican culture is that whether it is a molotov cocktail of planetary magnitude or just a little embarrassing mistake in the office, the tendency is to look quickly for someone else (more junior) to blame.

In fact, comment on media gaffes is not absent from the Pope's answers in the interview itself. Speaking of the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, the Holy Father says that people did not understand the canonical issues involved and that "in this matter our public relations work was a failure." (p.22) In chapter 12, the question of Bishop Williamson is raised by Peter Seewald. There, Pope Benedict continues the theme:
Unfortunately, the public relations work was not done well from our side, so that the real, canonical substance and the limits of this process were never made clear. Then, to top it all off, there was the total meltdown with Williamson, which we had unfortunately not foreseen, and that is a particularly distressing circumstance. (p.121)
Peter Seewald then asked the Holy Father whether he would have signed the decree lifting the excommunications if he had known that among the four bishops there was a person who denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. The Pope replied:
No. If I had known, the first step would have been to separate the Williamson case from the others. Unfortunately, though, none of us went on the Internet to find out what sort of person we were dealing with. (p.121)
Regarding the Regensburg address, the Holy Father's comment on the media reaction is also of interest.
I had conceived and delivered the lecture as a strictly academic address, without realizing that people don’t read papal lectures as academic presentations, but as political statements. The political reading ignored the fine web of the argument, ripping the passage out of its context and turning it into a political statement, which it wasn’t.
Quite a few Catholics fail to understand the distinction between the private opinions of a Pope (with which we may disagree), his authentic, non-infallible magisterium (to which we should give the religious submission of mind and will), and his extraordinary infallible magisterium in which he enjoys that infallibility which Christ willed His Church to enjoy in defining matters of faith and morals. It is true that people do not read papal lectures as academic presentations. Unfortunately, it is also true that people do not read unprepared remarks to a journalist as informal comments.

"Light of the World" published in UK by CTS

With all the furore over "Light of the World", I forgot to give details of the publisher. The book is published in the UK by the Catholic Truth Society by agreement with Ignatius Press who are the publishers for the USA.

The book is beautifully produced and typset. There is a foreword from George Weigel and and introduction by Peter Seewald. I am glad that CTS got the rights to publish such a prestigious title and I hope that the sales of this book will assist their many other good works.

Currently Light of the World is available from the CTS at the special offer price of £11.21. (240 pages. Hardback)

Bicycle handlebar Rosary attachment

There are many apps for saying the Rosary on your smartphone. Michael Guglielmo, a Catholic and a keen cyclist wrote with an idea that he has come up with for a bicycle handlebar Rosary attachment. Unlike smartphone apps, this is one you make and install manually. Here are the instructions:
There's not much to making it. Two decorative pipe cleaners, two light brackets, two longer screws to replace the short ones that came with the brackets and one or two old rosaries which I hope would carry their former blessings with them. You can also use craft store beads and with the intent of bring the completed project to church for a blessing. The beauty of this is that the pipe cleaners hold the beads in place so they stay in place when moved. In addition, if it breaks, the beads don't scatter and its an easy fix.
Michael does add the caveat that it should only be used in safe areas. Probably not wise to use it when weaving through traffic in central London.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pope praises "Heralds of the Gospel"

CTS sent me a copy of Light of the World this morning. Let me begin by congratulating the "Heralds of the Gospel" who are singled out for praise by the Holy Father in the chapter on the Dictatorship of Relativism. Asked by Peter Seewald whether Christianity has played itself out as other civilisations have in the past, Pope Benedict replies that his meetings with Bishops around the world help him to look beyond the Western world. He adds:
In Brazil, for example, there is, on the one hand, strong growth among the sects, which are often very dubious because, for the most part, they promise only prosperity, external success. There are also, however, new Catholic awakenings, a dynamic of new movements, for instance, the “Heralds of the Gospel”, young people who are seized by the enthusiasm of having acknowledged Christ as the Son of God and of bringing him into the world. As the Archbishop of São Paolo tells me, new movements are being formed there constantly. And so there is a force of new life and awakening there. (p.58)
Having read the pdf of the book under embargo, I have a few other good passages to highlight, but I thought it would be good first of all to give a heads-up to this endorsement of a fine group of people. The video above shows some of the women members in the favelas of São Paulo.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pope/condoms IV - "Do you think that's wise, Sir?"

Having given some background in the previous posts, I must offer a reaction of my own to the Holy Father's comments on AIDS and condoms. It would be along the lines of Sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army: "Do you think that's wise, Sir?"

On the one hand, we know that the widespread distribution of condoms to tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS has not worked in practice: the Holy Father affirms that and it has been the subject of much comment around the internet over the years. On the other hand, secularists and militant gays use the condom issue to attack the Church as heartless and out of touch since in some individual sexual acts, a condom will reduce the risk of infection. (There are, of course, acts in which condoms do not apply, so to speak.)

The Holy Father uses the example of a male prostitute (Prostituierter in the original German), saying that the use of a condom can be:
"a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants."
I think that this is an unfortunate example. Many male prostitutes are not doing whatever they want to do, on account of being controlled by a pimp and compelled to meet the standard requests of their "client". If he is required to be the passive partner in a sexual encounter, wearing a condom will not do him much good - he would need the "client" to wear one. If he is required to be active, he might want to wear a condom out of an instinct for self-preservation but probably would not see it as a step in the direction of moralization. Surely the only proper response of a good Catholic wishing to help someone caught up in male prostitution is "Is there anything we can do to help you get the hell out of this?"

In Africa, the more common situation is that of men who go away to work, consorting with female prostitutes, and then, on returning home, infecting their wives or girlfriends. Again, the poor prostitute may well have little choice in the matter of whether a condom is used or not. In an individual encounter, if the man agrees to wear one, a condom will reduce the risk of infection but in the process of "risk compensation" may encourage him that his dangerous and immoral behaviour can be undertaken with an acceptable rate of risk to himself and his family. This seems the most likely explanation for the increase in infection rates when condoms are promoted aggressively.

One article I read today said that programmes promoting abstinence were irrelevant in some cases because of the incidence of rape. That is a fair point but it should also be borne in mind that condoms are also irrelevant here unless we are trying to persuade rapists to practise "safer sex". (If we did, would that be a step in the direction of moralization?)

I'm sorry. I love the Holy Father very much; he is a deeply holy man and has done a great deal for the Church. On this particular issue, I disagree with him and I hope that my having sufficient "initial goodwill" is not in question (cf. Pope/condoms I). I have read an embargoed copy of the whole of the interview with Peter Seewald and there is a great deal there to ponder and learn from. I'll now be moving on to that and other topics.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...