31 March 2010

Out Of The Mouths ...

Via Love Undefiled, I found three videos on YouTube in which a twelve year old boy about to die meditates on his life and his faith. I've copied the links below.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I reflected while watching this that this is the sort of child some very, very, bad priests and religious preyed on. Defend the Pope, defend the Church, but at the same time remember the sort of filth that has defiled something we love, and some people we should love.

30 March 2010

Fr Z and the Goldfinch Coincidence


No sooner does the first ever pair of Goldfinch come and start feeding from the feeder in the magnolia than Fr Z posts about the Holy Week symbolism of goldfinch here. This pair is so timid that they can even be frightened by the blue tits that come round.
I'd never before heard the story about these birds getting their red faces from trying to remove the thorns from Our Lord's head. I wish I had children young enough to tell.

28 March 2010

Lucky Old Brentford Diocese

Not only must the diocese must be loaded with money, but the whole diocese is going to reap the benefit of how it's spent.

H/t to Catholic Commentary here who broke the news that Brentford sent a team of 19 people to the Los Angeles RE Conference. I'd guess about £750 a ticket and £750 per head for subs while there: about £30,000, and the money must have come from somewhere - unless people actually paid their own money to go there.

But just think how the life of the diocese will be transformed!

27 March 2010

Standing Up For The Pope

Fr Hunwicke, here, is absolutely spot on.

I do wish he'd become a Catholic and stop protestantly deciding for himself what he should do from day to day. But I shall refrain from saying anything negative about him for some time after reading this incisive post!

If he takes advantage of the Ordinariate provisions, I wonder which Catholic Bishop will find himself with Fr H ministering in his territorial diocese.

Can we get a petition up?

26 March 2010

How To Avoid Having To "Marry" Gays In Church


Don't "marry" straights in Church. Separate the Sacrament of Marriage from the civil contract.

Embrace the French model. The state does what it believes in at the Mairie. The Church does what it wants at Church.

Priests aren't registrars of birth or death; they don't have to be of marriage.

We're not Anglicans: we don't need an ecclesiastical Civil Service.

23 March 2010

More Support To Our Apologetics

Fr Dwight has posted here a set of facts demonstrating that the Chuirch is not a paedophile institution, and that paedophilia is not particularly prrevalent in the Church.

My apologies for not crediting whoever linked originally to the posting on Fr Abberton's blog here. His argument about the reality of the presence of the Devil in this crisis is thought provoking, to say the least, and should be something we address in Catholic circles.

22 March 2010

Countering The Narrative

The tactic being used by the Times at the moment is as old as the hills. Establish a narrative, then keep repeating it, until it becomes received wisdom. Is there anybody in the English-speaking who soesn't know that Joseph Ratzinger was in the Hitler Youth? But how many people know that he stood up to a CO who wanted all his charges to become soldiers by saying that he wanted to become a priest? Next to nobody.

If the narrative is never challenged, it becomes what everybody believes, and even ten years ago, the media's narratives were impossible to challenge unless you happened to have a media organisation of your own.

But that's not true any more: nearly all sources of information on the Internet, be they press sites, or social media sites like this, offer the opportunity to comment.

We are all Internet-savvy people: I must be to be writing this; you must be to be reading this and commenting on it. So get commenting. Every time you see a piece about the Pope that is not true, challenge it. Use for example the Pope's letter to Ireland, available here, to challenge anybody who says "the Pope didn't apologise" by cutting and pasting the sections where the Pope apologises. Some of you will want to do so politely, others will take on the tone of the milieu in which they find themselves. It doesn't matter too much as long as we are accurate, and cite our sources.

This is a poor man's Internet version of the Catholic Evidence Guild going out to Speakers' Corner: but we can all do it.

21 March 2010

God Bless Our Pope ...

... because few of the children of this earth will.

But let's keep a count of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales who leap up on to the parapet to bless, support and defend the Pope.

Equally, let's keep a list of those who by omission or commission let the Pope take the flak, especially the ones who damn him with faint praise.

And do we need Paddy Power to open a book for us to guess which list will be longer?

19 March 2010

Cardinal Pell, Again

I was alerted by the wonderful Schutz that a debate between Cardinal Pell and an American atheist had been placed on line. The two mp3s are available here.

It's a proper debate, not a TV debate, so don't expect fireworks. Expect hmms and haaas; listen to ideas unfolding while the speaker is speaking; note the respect that the two speakers show for each other as individuals; and note that, while they both really care about what they believe in, Cardinal Pell happens to believe in what we believe in.

Cardinal Pell is a standing challenge to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales: he is a product of a British educational system and has developed a confident and assertive voice that our Bishops should be able to draw on and develop in their turn around the particular circumstances they face.

So why do we not have a Bishop who will engage as Cardinal Pell engages? Not all of them: "What if ten shall be found there?"

18 March 2010

1890 And All That

In an 1890 Calendar, today isn't just the feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem: we also celebrate St Gabriel as the Octave of his feast would be the Vigil of the Annunciation, Little Christmas. And a week tomorrow, on 26 March, at least in Salford, Middlesborough and Shrewsbury, we would have the feast of the Good Thief. We would commemorate the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Friday after the Fourth Sunday of Lent (we did capitals then).

Calendar reform is as fraught with difficulty as reform of any other bit of the Liturgy. However much you talk about "pruning", as though you were seeing to the roses, every time you suppress something, you put an end to it. So the replacement has to be something better, not something older, unless you can show how it was superseded by something worse.

Why did we lose the feast of the Good Thief, who exemplifies the best hope for many of us? Why did the dioceses lose so many proper feasts? Salford's (separate to those common to all of England and Wales) were (chronologically) the Finding of the Child Jesus, St Kentigern, the Flight into Egypt, The Good Thief, the Humility of the BVM, Our Lady of Grace, and All the Holy Roman Pontiffs.

The other day, Patricius posted here a schedule of Mass times for Westminster Cathedral's 1939 Holy Week. Why does it feel right, organic, whole, consonant?

16 March 2010

Papal Visit: Big Mass - Time To Plan

Among the scanty information released about the Pope's visit, one fact shines out; Coventry! The Pope will visit Edinburgh, Birmingham, London and Coventry.

That means Coventry Airport for the stadium Mass, a site big enough for as many people will come, and a site big enough to allow any sort of Catholic to start planning now for how his or her type of Catholic will prepare for the visit of His Holiness.

So: we have months to plan for (for example) a station along the way with a beer tent, brass band playing pre-1960 hymns, refreshment for pilgrims on their way to Mass ...

Do you get my drift?

14 March 2010

Grumble, Grumble!

I have said several time that I don't understand what Bishops' Conferences are for, what they add to the life of the Church. If you read the Bishops' Engagements column in this week's Catholic Herald, you'll start to get an idea what the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) is for: it's to allow Bishops to get away from their diocesan work and have meetings.

This week Archbishops Nichols and Smith, and Bishop McMahon (Nottingham) will attend a meeting of the Standing Committee. This might be what Bishop Conry is doing on Monday as well.

On Thursday, Archbishop Kelly and Bishops Arnold, Hollis, Kenney, Lang, Lynch and Burns will spend the day at a meeting of the International Committee of the CBCEW.

Now, leaving aside that the CBCEW has a Department of International Affairs which appears to employ four people, apart from the one employed by its subsidiary agency, the National Justice and Peace Network (which "encourages work for justice and peace throughout the Church by promoting liaison and communication between Diocesan Justice and Peace groups" - in other words, somebody is paid to persuade diocesan J&P groups talk to each other), Catholics in England and Wales are losing ten Bishop-days' worth of pastoral care from the episcopate so that the Bishops can talk to each other, seven about a subject that only with immense difficulty might be described as any of their business. I pointed out here that the International Department alone cost £188,074 in 2008. And why: so that the Bishops, behaving like very expensive third-rate lobbyists, can convince themselves that they are players on the world stage.

We gave the CBCEW £1,743,040 in 2008: let's stop encouraging them.

08 March 2010

Pope Gets It Right - Sea Still Wet

From Zenit:

"The Pontiff expressed his satisfaction that the community "wishes to promote, in regard to the vocations and the role of consecrated persons and the laity, the co-responsibility of all of the members of the People of God."

To do this, he said, "demands a change in mentality, above all with regard to the laity, 'moving from considering them "collaborators" of the clergy to recognising them as truly "co-responsible" for the being and action of the Church, promoting a mature and dedicated laity in this way."'"

07 March 2010

Just A Utilitarian Thought

If the father of a child is allowed no say in whether or not the child's mother aborts it or not, how can a mother who chooses not to abort demand that the father support the child financially?

It can't be "his" in any meaningful way if the primary question - life or death - is one in which he has no say and no vote.

Or am I missing something?

06 March 2010


Whatever Jon Venables has or hasn't done, the fact that he has or hasn't done it just before an election means another blow to the idea that prison should be about rehabilitation as well as about punishment. His case will be held up as proof that rehabilitation doesn't work.

Crimes against children awake the most primaeval passion in us, especially, I guess, if we are parents ourselves. All of the instincts that we experience in a new way at the sound and feel of our own new-born children: nurturing, protecting, defending: are animal instincts, and can overcome our reason. I don't think it's fair to criticise James Bulger's mother for her relentless campaign to see her son's murderers locked up: she is at the mercy of her instincts, in a place where no rational call on her to change will get through to her. Forgiveness has to be considered and rational because it's not a simple transaction. My forgiveness of the person who trespasses against me marks the point at which my relationship with God is healed.

This is separate from the punishment that the trespasser deserves. My forgiveness of somebody else says something about me: their crime says something about them, and they must pay an appropriate penalty for their crime. In a humane and civilised society, the conditions in which the penalty is paid must be humane and civilised, but shouldn't disguise the fact that the trespasser is paying a penalty.

Separately again, there are both moral and practical reasons to try to ensure that people who commit crimes should not commit them again. But this is difficult to achieve, in part because it is a further expense on top of the expense of punishing the perpetrator, in part because the moral and practical reasons for carrying out rehabilitation are different, and most attempts at rehabilitation end up being merely confusing.

In the case of Venables and Thompson, it looked as though, for once, an expensive rehabilitiation had worked. In spite of the relentlessness of James' mother's campaign to have the two boys locked away for ever, their removal from a dysfunctional community, their separation, and determined efforts by child psychologists and educationalists managed to turn them into different people from the ones they were and would have grown into. So successful were the efforts that it became possible to return them into society. They were not normal members of society: new identities, a falsified life story, one eye always on their back; and I imagine that as men they are now fully aware of what they did all those years ago. That is part of how forgiveness works for them: they are forgiven when they accept the enormity of what they have done and accept the punishment, and the lifelong consequences of their action.

How many other success stories are there that we don't hear about? How many lives are turned round, transformed, because enough effort of the right sort is made available at the time when it can make a difference?

I don't know. But it will be a brave politician in the next few weeks who puts the case for increasing effort in this area, and the temptation for any candidate will be to throw something to the baying mob: Venables, maybe Thompson; maybe just more "prison must not be a holiday camp" (as though it is!), "life must mean life", and all of the other tired cliches.

Another step backward.

And also, a feeling, every time I see James' mother, of "there but for the Grace of God".

05 March 2010

What Is This?

Does anybody know anything about the Resurgence Party? A quick flick through another sterile argument on Damian's blog threw it up. A Catholic political party!

I've never heard of it before, and know nothing beyond what's posted there.

I wish them very well, but suspect that non-"Spirit of Vatican II" Catholics are about as capable of organising a united political movement as post-Soviet Marxist-Leninists.

But even if now be not the time, it is interesting and positive that a couple of people are prepared to raise their heads above the parapet and stand for something outside the current political stasis.

02 March 2010

The Partisan



01 March 2010

Two Other Reasons Not To Sign Online Catholic Petitions

The first is practical: there aren't enough Catholics in E&W who use the Internet as part of their Faith. It means that we get a few hundred signatures to a petition, which enables opponents to dismiss our views as representative of a minority only.

The second is that by putting up a petition we accept that the game is won by numbers: we are accepting the premise that if 100 people sign one petition and only 50 another the first one has earned some form of superiority.

The Bishops have made a wrong decision; even worse, it may be that they are wrong and are teaching wrong doctrine: I don't know enough to know.

But I know that signing a petition won't change the decision they've made: it will simply move the debate to "Do we obey Bishops or do we obey wild-eyed bloggers on the Internet?" and the result will confirm the "rightness" of the Bishops' initial decision.

Fr Ray's reason is holier than mine are. So there are two practical and one holy reason not to sign.

There is no reason not to oppose, though.

The Pope's visit feels like an opportunity made in Heaven.