31 August 2009
29 August 2009
1. The abolition of all Education departments in the diocesan curiae in England and Wales. The quality of teachers can be handled by headteachers; fabric can be sorted out by people who understand it, and RE becomes part of the catechetical department: because
2. Children are (normally - there will always be exceptions) prepared for Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation in their Catholic schools. Where there are Catholic schools, and Catholic parents choose not to send their children to them, the parents can face the consequences. (Some people will be surprised to know that at the moment children are prepared for none of these three sacraments in Catholic schools.)
3. The Bishop in each diocese appoints a Director of Liturgy who takes responsibility for the Liturgy in the diocese (responsibility here is a big word: it means doing things, rather than having a new paragraph in the CV, and it means doing them according to the book, in this case the Rubrics, and it means ensuring, with however big a stick necessary, that things are done according to the book throughout).
4. Any hymn book with hymns written or bowdlerised after 1970 is temporarily withdrawn so that they can be sorted out. We don't need hymn books for Mass. For the occasions we need hymns, the PP can print out a few sheets for the people attending.
5. Any parish which offers the EF also offers Vespers (at least in the simplest form) at least once a week.
6. Black vestments, unbleached candles and pleading for the soul of the departed are an option anybody can insist on for the funeral they are arranging.
7. The Church in England and Wales stops trying to be part of the Establishment, stops trying to be anything other than (and proudly!) the outpost of the Church of Rome in England and Wales, a challenge to everybody who is outside the fold of Peter.
25 August 2009
Is this a summer cold or swine flu? I've no idea. Pray for me, please.
A Roman correspondent has sent me a fascinating message about the results of the last Ad Limina visit. There is a story, that you either know or you don't, about the Bishop who was sure he was going to get Southwark: so sure that he'd packed his Library.
Now, the reason he didn't was that in the lead up to the visit, one of his flock had sent to the Congregation for Bishops evidence that the Bishop had done something wrong, and this was enough to stop his translation.
Because what the Congregation responds to is evidence, not assertion: if the Bishop has written to a person or group saying (for example) "you can only have an EF Mass if there are 50 parishioners", then you've got him; if you say "I know the Bishop isn't in favour of EF Mass" then you haven't. If you can show that a Diocese has sent £250K to an organisation that supports anti-Catholicsm, then you've got it; if you assert that "My Bishop doesn't support Catholic teaching on sex education" then you haven't.
This is the way to do it.
So let's do it.
19 August 2009
I have been in correspondence recently with someone about our chances of influencing the Vatican before the Ad Limina visit. We have disagreed gently about the possibility of starting a petition about the way "relationships" are taught in Primary School. The disagreement was about tactics: I think that any attempt to draft a petition about sex education will end up causing more divisions and attracting less signatures; he, less cynical than me, thinks that wording expressing exactly what we all agree on can be found; I don't think many people will get involved; he does.
I suggested, however, that something in last week's Catholic Herald had left me really angry: "tamping mad" as my mother-in-law might say. Only Catholic Action seems to have noticed it online.
It's about Marriage Care, and its Director, Terry Prendergast, and the fact that the A of W is its patron, and the English dioceses fund it. The story is awful - this is just a bit:
It strikes me that this is our petition to the Vatican. This is a call to arms. This isn't about the precise detail in which aspects of the National Curriculum should be taught in primary education: this is about the Catholic Church allowing its teachings to be subverted by people claiming to speak for her.
The manual, called Foundations for a Good Life, is designed to help to teach pupils at Key Stage 3 and 4 - the last two years of secondary school - and college students about relationships, marriage, the family and sexuality.
The final two modules are aimed at young people over the age of 16 and deals with methods of contraception.
There is no discussion of the morality of the methods with the focus on function and effectiveness. The manual hails condoms as 98 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancy, and the Pill, the coil and hormonal injections as 99 per cent effective, but says that NFP methods are far less reliable.
Joe Mannion, the charity's director of relationship support, said he unaware that the information was inaccurate. He said that Marriage Care would be prepared to change the text of the manual if "it's shown to be different" by new evidence.
Terry Prendergast, the chief executive of Marriage Care, recently caused an outcry when he said marriage is no better for children than other family set-ups.
The charity has an annual income in the region of £900,000, about 10 per cent of which comes from diocesan grants. Its president is Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
Does Rome know about this? Have they read this article? Do they know what our Bishops support? Is the lay structure in the Diocesan curias and at Eccleston Square responsible for undermining the Church in E&W from within? Big questions. But unless Rome is invited to think about them, and turn them onto the Bishops of England and Wales, then not only will there be no challenge, but the fact of no challenge will be adduced by Eccleston Square as Vatican support.
I wonder whether this is one chance to stick it to the structures which have so corrupted catholic life in England and Wales for so many years ...
18 August 2009
Leonard Cohen, who, I realised one day, just did it for me.
Men At Work Down Under: I've never listened to the words: indeed, I'd never seen the video until I found this; but the noise it makes, a cheery reggae inspired celebration, always makes me think of Oz, a place I always enjoy going to.
And Ana Belén: she could sing "Matchstick Men" and "There's noone quite like Grandma" and still fell me.
16 August 2009
13 August 2009
One proposal that was doing the rounds was that of showing the variety of diocesan educational curricula as a way of demonstrating the vibrancy of Catholic education: indeed, Catholicsm in Education.
The covering letter would go something along the lines of:
"You've seen and approved of PO'D's curriculum just because he happened to send it to you. All of our dioceses have curricula which respond in a Catholic manner to the National Curriculum, though most of us are modest enough not to burden you with every example of support to Catholic education we have been responsible for in the last six years."
12 August 2009
At least, Eccleston Square wants to!
Damian, here, asked earlier:
Is the Holy Father aware that traditionalist Catholics in this country do not have a single bishop who shares his own understanding of the place of the traditional liturgy in the life of the Church?
Whether he does or not, I understand that one of the drafts prepared for the Ad Limina visit by a staffer at Eccleston Square (which might well have gone to and therefore have so excited The Suppository) insinuates that the troubles caused by Summorum Pontificum might actually have been caused by the uncollegial way in which it was implemented. Indeed, one wag apparently suggested adding a comment that the reason that the new translation of the Mass into English would eventually be so welcome was that there had been collegial discussion on the subject since 1994, thus guaranteeing that when final consensus was reached, everybody would be happy.
The interesting thing is that the Eccleston Square attitude to the Pope reminds me of The Guardian's attitude towards Middle England: they despise him, snigger at him behind their hands, ignore him whenever possible, and use such defiance as a shibboleth of belonging.
Archbishop Nichols needs to take on the mantle of Cardinal Pole.
10 August 2009
(Yes: I am going to get pretty boring on this subject. If you have anything you want to make public, email@example.com is one place to think of sending it to.)
According to Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña, here, a Bishop should ask himself the following:
"When the wolf gets into the fold, the shepherd neither sleeps nor rests; he works day and night to get rid of the wolf to save the lives of his sheep. If, through lack of care, of vigilance or of effort, we should lose lives, how would we answer Jesus Christ when he calls us to account for the souls he entrusted to us?"
How will those who have lost tens of thousands answer? What about those who barely have a flock left? Which believe in Jesus Christ? How do you follow a shepherd who doesn't care about his sheep? Is there a wolf? Are there sheep? Is there a shepherd?"
Just something to think about.
09 August 2009
According to the Vatican website, here, the procedure for ad limina visits is as follows:
Art. 29 — These kinds of visits have a special importance in the life of the Church, marking as they do the summit of the relationship of the pastors of each particular Church with the Roman Pontiff. For he meets his brother bishops, and discusses with them matters concerning the good of the Churches and the bishops’ role as shepherds, and he confirms and supports them in faith and charity. This strengthens the bonds of hierarchical communion and openly manifests the catholicity of the Church and the unity of the episcopal college.
Art. 30 — The ad limina visits also concern the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. For through these visits a helpful dialogue between the bishops and the Apostolic See is increased and deepened, information is shared, advice and timely suggestions are brought forward for the greater good and progress of the Churches and for the observance of the common discipline of the Church.
Art. 31 — These visits are to be prepared very carefully and appropriately so that they proceed well and enjoy a successful outcome in their three principal stages — namely, the pilgrimage to the tombs of the Princes of the Apostles and their veneration, the meeting with the Supreme Pontiff, and the meetings at the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
Art. 32 — For this purpose, the report on the state of the diocese should be sent to the Holy See six months before the time set for the visit. It is to be examined with all diligence by the competent dicasteries, and their remarks are to be shared with a special committee convened for this purpose so that a brief synthesis of these may be drawn up and be readily at hand in the meetings.
The organising body is the Congregation for Bishops, and that is, I imagine, the Dicastery to be addressed if we have points we would wish to be considered during the visit.
Its address is: Palazzo della Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10, 00193 Roma and its phone number is: 06.69.88.42.17 so we have no excuses.
08 August 2009
07 August 2009
Fr Ray Blake has scooped the world by announcing that the somewhat overdue Ad Limina visit by the Bishops of England and Wales is now scheduled for January.
What I know of the mechanics of these visits is a bit limited: I know that the Bishops' Conference has to send in a report; I know that each Bishop has a private one-to-one with the Pope; I know that a final statement which can include what in secular terms might be called an "Action Plan" is published by the Vatican at the end of the visit.
What I don't know is how the Vatican carries out its own preparation for the visit: presumably the Nuncio has a significant input, but who else has? Can anybody write in? To whom? And if the answer is "yes", will anybody at the Vatican end actually bother to read what is sent?
My experience suggests that October and November will be when the preparatory work for a January visit will be carried out, leaving December for the Holy Father and his advisors to take their position and raise any last minute queries.
That gives us seven or eight weeks.
Great as is my admiration for Archbishop Nichols, I can't believe that he is yet in a position to achieve authoritative editorial control over what the staff at the Bishops' Conference will produce: it will be full of self-congratulatory guff about this or that pastoral initiative, and will give an impression of a Church in E&W in which clergy and laity (I nearly wrote workers by hand or brain) are well on the way to achieving the Kingdom through support to the third world and a drive for carbon neutrality or even negativity.
If anybody knows how we can counter this, will they please speak up.