Saturday, June 30, 2007

China Letter



and a brief summary by Asia News

For G&S fans

Found in the Muniment Room, it applies to many Catholics as well as Unitarians

I am the very model of a modern Unitarian,
Far broader than a Catholic, Hindu, Jew or Presbyterian.
I know the world’s religions and can trace their roots historical
From Moses up to Channing, all in order categorical.
I’m very well acquainted, too, with theories theological,
On existential questions I am always wholly logical,
About most any problem I am teeming with a lot of views,
I’m full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.

(Chorus members:
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty pews.
We’re full of fine ideas that should fill our church’s empty empty pews.)

I quote from Freud and Jung and all the experts psychological.
I’m anti nuke, I don’t pollute, I’m chastely ecological.
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of a modern Unitarian.

(Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of a modern Unitarian.)

I use the latest language; God is never Father or the Lord,
But Ground of Being, Source of Life or almost any other word.
I never pray, I meditate, I’m leery about worshipping.
I serve on 10 committees none of which accomplish anything.
I give to worthy causes and I drive a gas conserving car,
I have good UU principles (although I’m not sure what they are).
I’m open to opinions of profound or broad variety,
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.

(Chorus members:
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous piety.
Unless they’re too conservative or smack of righteous pie-piety.)

I formulate agendas and discuss them with the best of ‘em,
But don’t ask me to implement, we leave that to the rest of ‘em.
In short in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
I am the very model of today’s religious liberal.

(Chorus members:
In short, in matters spiritual, ethical, material,
We are the very model of today’s religious liberal.)

Mot Prop: inside story


Cardinal O'Malley who has his own blog writes about to Moto Proprio as follows, the Archbishop of Westminster by the way also there, on the Pope's extreme left, interestingly Archbishop Ranjith, the Secretary of the CDW is on HH's righthand, I think it is Ranjith.


.... I flew to Rome at the request of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to participate in a meeting discussing the Holy Father’s Moto Proprio about the use of the older form of the Latin Mass. There were about 25 bishops there, including the president of Ecclesia Dei Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Cardinal Francis Arinze, several heads of bishops’ conferences as well as some cardinals and other residential bishops.
They shared with us the Moto Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter explaining it. We also had an opportunity to read the Latin document. We each commented on that, and then the Holy Father came in and shared some of his thoughts with us. The Holy Father is obviously most concerned about trying to bring about reconciliation in the Church. There are about 600,000 Catholics who are participating in the liturgies of the Society of St. Pius X, along with about 400 priest.
A photo with the Holy Father after the meeting
The Holy Father was very clear that the ordinary form of celebrating the Mass will be the new rite, the Norvus Ordo. But by making the Latin Mass more available, the Holy Father is hoping to convince those disaffected Catholics that it is time for them to return to full union with the Catholic Church.
So the Holy Father’s motivation for this decision is pastoral. He does not want this to be seen as establishing two different Roman Rites, but rather one Roman Rite celebrated with different forms. The Moto Propio is his latest attempt at reconciliation.
In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low. Additionally, according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country. Therefore this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England.
In our archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass has been in place for several years, and I granted permission when I was in Fall River for a Mass down on the Cape. The archdiocesan Mass is now at Immaculate Mary of Lourdes Parish in Newton. It is well attended, and if the need arises for an extension of that we would, of course, address it.
This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country, however I think they wanted us to be part of the conversation so that we would be able to understand what the situation is in countries where the numbers are very significant. For example, in Brazil there is an entire diocese of 30,000 people that has already been reconciled to the Church.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pope on Peters Confession of Faith



Great experts recognize [Christ's] spiritual and moral stature in the history of mankind, comparing him to Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, and other sages and great characters of History. They do not get to recognize him in his uniqueness.

...

Hearing him preach, watching him heal, evangelize the small and the poor, reconcile sinners, the disciples reached little by little the understanding that He was the Messiah in the highest sense of the word, that is, not only a man sent by God, but God himself made man.

All this was clearly too great for them, it overwhelmed their capacity for understanding. They could express their faith with the titles of Jewish Tradition: "Christ", "Son of God", "Lord". But to adhere completely to reality, those titles had to be in some way rediscovered in their deepest truth: Jesus himself with his life has revealed its deepest sense, always surprising, actually paradoxical to standard conceptions.

And the faith of the disciples had to adapt progressively. It presents itself as a pilgrimage, which has its original moment in the experience of the historic Jesus, finds its foundation in the Paschal mystery, but must still move forward thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. Such has also been the faith of the Church in the course of History, such is also our faith, [of the] Christians of today. Firmly established on the "rock" of Peter, it is a pilgrimage towards the fullness of that truth which the Galilee Fisherman professed with passionate conviction: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God"

China Letter Tomorrow


The Vatican Website says this:


AVVISO AI GIORNALISTI
Si informano i giornalisti accreditati che domani, sabato 30 giugno 2007, sarà a disposizione, a partire dalle ore 9 con embargo fino alle ore 12, la Lettera del Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ai Vescovi, ai presbiteri, alle persone consacrate e ai fedeli laici della Chiesa cattolica nella Repubblica Popolare Cinese.


We are having Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 6 to 7pm tonight, to pray for "the good reception" of this letter. The Cardinal Secretary of State has asked Contemplative Communities to pray for a good reception in China of this letter. Please make that your own intention.

There have been increased reports of hostility and threats towards the Church.


PRAY FOR CHINA

Great Thuribles of the World: 2

I googled "thurible" and this came out:


It is the consecration of Myron (Chrism) at Marthoman (St.Thomas) Syriac Orthodox Church, Kothamangalam, India.
There is a rather lengthy and splendid description, that speaks of 12 thurifers, 12 yavuppadeacons (sub-deacons) with seraphic fans, 12 deacons, 12 priests and 12 bishops.
I can't help wondering if the organised chaos, the chanting into microphones, the wads of A4 paper might be how the Tridentine Rite might work out in practice in many parts of the world.

Chinese Bishops Instructed About Pope's Letter


(AsiaNews) – There are fears of a fresh campaign against the Pope similar to the one in 2000, following the canonization of the Chinese martyrs. According to some priests this is the latest attempt to divide rediscovered unity of the bishops with the Pope.

Bishops of China’s official Catholic Church have been gathered since early this morning in Huairou, 50 km north east of Beijing, “invited” to a political session of the United Front. The theme on the agenda is how to respond to the Pope’s letter to China’s Catholics, soon to be published.
The United Front is a state organism, which under the control of the Communist Party, carries out religious policy directives on a national and provincial level.
AsiaNews sources in China fear that the United Front will oblige the bishops to distance themselves from Benedict XVI’s message, forcing them to make public statements eulogising the Party’s religious policies and re-vindicating the independence from the enactment of Papal directives.
Last January, after a meeting in the Vatican with cardinals, bishops and members of the secretary of state, Benedict XVI announced his intention to write a letter to China’s Catholics. According to indiscretions, the Chinese edition was signed May 27th, the solemnity of Pentecost. The message traces the last decades in the life of the Church in China, signed by oppressive persecution but also by a strong loyalty of the faithful to the Pope, both in the underground Church, which is not recognised by the State, and in the official Church, recognised by the government and led by the Patriotic Association, the Party body which aims to build a Church independent of Rome.
The Pope’s letter will celebrate unity between the underground and official Church as well as highlight the need for full religious freedom in China.
In recent months the AP has been attempting to undermine Church unity in China, illegally ordaining bishops and arresting pastors of the underground Church. The latest effort to throw unity between the Pope and China’s pastors into crises is more recent: an “invitation” to bishops to make their way to Beijing for the 50th anniversary of the AP and the 10 anniversary of the death of its president, the patriotic bishop Zhong Huaide, who died June 27 1997.
Added to these patriotic celebrations was the political session of the United Front leadership (June 28th and 29th) called in Huairou.
According to some priests in the capital, this meeting is the last in a series of attempts to lead bishops away from unity with the pope and reassert the United Front and AP control over them.
For others, the current situation recalls events surrounding the canonization of China’s martyrs on 1st October 2000. Months after the canonization called by John Paul II, and in the face of the great show of unity by underground and official bishops, the AP began arresting underground bishops, forcing the official bishops to sign a document critical of the Pope and the canonizations, obliging them to read the document in all Churches and make public declarations on TV and in the press against the Pope.

Year of St Paul


The Holy Father announced that from today the feast of Sts Peter and Pauluntil next years feast the Church will keep as the Year of St Paul.
It marks the 2,000th (ish) anniversary of the birth of the Apostle to the Gentiles, and should be an opportunity to deepen our understanding of his writings, and thought.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mot. Prop. "It won't make the slightest difference in the majority of parishes universally"


"Anonymous" put this statement in the comment box on the piece I put up earlier today on the release of the Motu Proprio. I thought it might be interesting to explore the effects. I began framing a reply as follows:

Anon.,

You are right, of course it won't change anything this year or next, for most people and in most places.

But
It will have an influence on what is considered mainstream in the Church.
It will have an influence on the formation of seminarians.
It will have an influence on who might be chosen as Bishops.
It will presumably have an influence on Church architecture and art.
It will have an influence on who a diocese employs as "director" of liturgy.


No-one should underestimate what the Holy Father has risked with this document, not a few Bishops in France, Germany, Austria, the USA, will publicly criticise him and do all they can to thwart his efforts.
We might even see Bishops acting in ways that are actually schismatic, at least informally, to stop the effects of this document.
For someone who considers the unity of the Church as being THE absolute priority this document is of incredible risk and therefore of incredible significance.

Great thuribles of the World

Not really a series, but Andrew sent this clip of the Botufumero of Santiago di Compostella. Orignially I think this massive thurible was used to perfume the Church before the greater Masses and Offices, the galleries of the Church would have been used to sleep hundreds of smelly pilgrims. Nowadays it is used after the main daily Mass, concelebrants are offered one of the canons old table spoons to spoon on copious amounts of incense, a bit of a distraction from Holy Communion.

There is only one recorded instance in which there was a breach of health and safety regulations and the thurible came off its rope work and killed a number of the congregation.

I have also added a film about the Camino, the theology is a bit odd but ...


The Motu Proprio to be published 7th July



The motu proprio liberating the Tridentine Mass for the entire Catholic Church has been given to about 30 bishops from all over the world in the Sala Bologna of the Apostolic Palace by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone
Vatican (kath.net/DieWelt/closedcafeteria.blogspot)Die Welt report that the motu proprio liberating the Tridentine Mass for the entire Catholic Church has been given to about 30 bishops from all over the world in the Sala Bologna of the Apostolic Palace by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.
The bishops had been invited to Rome for that purpose. At the end of the meeting, in which the motu proprio was introduced together with a letter of explanation by Pope Benedict XVI., Pope Benedict met with the bishops. The document is about three pages long, the accompanying letter about four. From Germany, Cardinal Lehmann had been invited. The circumstances of the procedure make clear that the Pope was very interested to personally inform the bishops, in collegial manner, of the content rather than from the media. The publication of both documents will take place on July 7th. It emphasizes the unity of the Roman Rite which will consist of an ordinary and an extraordinary form which are supposed to inspire each other. The ordinary/regular form will continue to be the new rite of 1969. The extraordinary form will be the Missal of Bl. John XXIII. of 1962.

In our diocese I think that there are five of six places where, what do we call it now "The Missal of Bl John XXIII" is used monthly. One priest, I know, celebrates it weekly, early in the morning, on his day off, saying he needs it for his own spiritual health. I really can't imagine that many places are immediatley going to start celebrating the older rite, neither do I think that is the Pope's intention or even desire.


For me I see the Motu Proprio as a tool, a very important tool in the Pope's Mission.
  1. It is sign that Vat II was a not disruption in the history of the Church, but rather that it was another Council in the Church's seamless history, following on from Vat I and Trent.

  2. It is an Ecumenical sign to the Eastern Churches that the west too values The Tradition and doesn't with a stroke of a pen discard it.

  3. It is signal that the Church values the culture that has surrounded the Mass, (and is an important part of European culture) for example the music of Mozart and Palestrina, as well as Gregorian Chant are still a valued liturgical resource, as is the architecture of the Middle Ages or Bennini or even Gaudi.

  4. The Prayer Tradition of Chant, and silence too, is still 0f importance to the Church today.

  5. "All Rites are of equal value" an important statement of Vatican II, in the last 40 years the non-Roman rites of the Church -Marionite, Syro-Malabar etc. - have been increasingly westernised and lost touch with their roots.

  6. He is trying to state that Liturgy is about God, and Man is there to serve God, therefore it is not just about the meaning of the words "actual participation" but is actually about the very nature of "Man", and his relationship with God.

  7. It is about justice, the right of a group within the Church to have access to something which is legitimate and has in the past been regarded as good, and therefore that those who love the Old Rite are not second class Catholics.

  8. It is about giving roots to "Ordinary Rite" the Mass of Paul VI and encouraging legitimate liturgical "experiment" that points to reverence, devotion and prayer.
  9. And yes, it is about the reconcilliation of the Lefebvrists but more than that, it is about reconcilliation, or at least the bringing into communion, of all they stand for. In many ways it is about a broadening of the Church, this is not unconnected, in some way with the reconcilliation of the Chinese Patriotic Church.
  10. There is sense too of wanting to say that the Liturgy is timeless. There are words and phrases, theological concepts in the "Ordinary Rite" that seem today redolent of the period in which the Missal was constructed. Benedict is not a creature of fashion. Already Benedict has returned the consecration to the words "pro Multis". JPII demanded better translations of the English.

I might add to this list later on in the day, readers too might add their own thoughts in the comments box.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pope: Education, Education


By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Religious education programs should help people understand the doctrines of Christian faith, but also must help them integrate that teaching into every area of their lives, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Holding the 100th general audience of his pontificate June 27, Pope Benedict continued his series of talks about early Christian theologians, focusing on St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop.

After briefly greeting 6,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope moved into the Vatican audience hall, where he explained the treasure left by St. Cyril in "Catecheses," a series of lessons addressed to people preparing for baptism and to those who just had been baptized.

The pope said St. Cyril's text is "a model of an introduction to being Christian," one which addressed people's intellects, their experience and their behavior.

St. Cyril's catechesis was "profoundly biblical" and demonstrated the unity between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, demonstrating how salvation history began with creation and moved progressively toward fulfillment in Christ, the pope said.

In the early church, he said, "catechesis was an important moment inserted in the broad context of the entire life -- particularly the liturgical life -- of the Christian community in whose maternal womb, we can say, the gestation of the future faithful took place."

"This was an important moment; it was not a catechesis that was only intellectual, but a journey of learning how to live the Christian life always accompanied by the community," Pope Benedict said.

The communal nature of the candidates' formation, he said, helped them understand "they were entering into a large companion of travelers."

St. Cyril also explained to the candidates how the church's moral teaching was "anchored in deep unity" with its teaching about God and about Jesus Christ, he said.

"Doctrine and life are not two distinct things, but one journey of existence," the pope said. As a person grows in understanding the faith, he is prompted to transform his behavior to reflect his new life in Christ.

"We ask the Lord to help us learn a Christianity that really involves our entire lives so that we will be credible witnesses of Jesus Christ, true God and true man," the pope said.

If you are concerned then contact HFEA

The HFEA are running a consultation on the creation of animal / human hybrids for research. Details of the consultation are on the website: http://www.hfea.gov.uk/hybrids

There is also a very short online questionnaire. It only takes 5 minutes to complete. If you would like to complete the questionnaire please go to: http://hybrids.hfea.gov.uk/hybrids/

You can complete the questionnaire in a personal capacity. You do not need to be a representative of any organisation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

English, Welsh bishops say chimeras should be given human status


By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service-
Human embryos injected with animal cells, or chimeras, should be accorded human status under proposals to be considered by the British Parliament in the fall, said the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

They also said politicians should reconsider a proposed ban on the implantation of chimeras into women.

"In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them," the bishops said.

"Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so," they added.

The bishops' June 20 submission to a parliamentary committee set up to scrutinize the draft Human Tissue and Embryo Bill was prepared by a committee overseen by Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, Wales, chairman of the English and Welsh bishops' Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship.

At present it is illegal in Britain to create embryos using a mix of human and animal genetic material, but the government is proposing to allow scientists, for the first time, to create human-animal embryos for research as long as they are destroyed within two weeks.

In their submission, the bishops said that most of the procedures covered by the bill "should not be licensed under any circumstances," principally on the grounds that they violate human rights.

However, they said, "at very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings and should be treated accordingly," they said.

The bill has been designed as an overhaul of the laws on fertility treatment and would include sections on in vitro fertilization and embryonic research. Britain's 40-year-old abortion laws also would be open to amendment under the terms of the bill.

The government initially proposed to ban the creation of chimeras but changed its mind earlier this year under pressure from the scientific community.

Under the terms of the bill scientists would be allowed to create three different types of human-animal embryos.

The first type -- the chimeric embryo -- is made by injecting cells from an animal into a human embryo.

The second, the human transgenic embryo, involves injecting animal DNA into a human embryo and the third -- a cytoplasmic hybrid -- is created by transferring the nuclei of human cells, such as skin cells, into animal eggs from which almost all the genetic material has been removed.

The bill does not allow the creation of "true hybrids" by fusing the egg and sperm of humans and animals and stipulates that human-animal embryos must be destroyed after two weeks.

The bill would also extend the statutory storage period for embryos from five to 10 years. It would allow the screening of embryos for genetic or chromosomal abnormalities that might lead to serious medical conditions or disabilities or miscarriages.

It also would allow doctors to check whether an embryo could provide a suitable tissue match for a sibling suffering from a life-threatening illness.

Under provisions of the bill, fertility clinics would no longer be able to deny treatment to lesbians and single mothers. In certain circumstances, a gay male couple would be able to apply for a parental order in surrogacy cases.

Such provisions were opposed by the bishops in their submission. They said they found offensive the practice of creating an embryo especially to cannibalize its tissues and said that "deliberately to sanction the conception of children who will be deprived of both a genetic and social father is to place the wishes of adults above the human rights of the child."

An Old Rite

The blogosphere is alive with rumours that the Motu Proprio is at the printers and is seriously expected before the Papal holiday beginning on 9th July. I thought it might be a good thing to remember there are other ancient Rites in the Western Church than the Roman Rite.

The video shows the incensation of the people according to the Ambrosian Rite used in Milan, the thurible, interestingly* is open, without a cover.

*I realise that people who want to to tell you something "interesting" normally want to tell you about bogey wheels on the 7712 3 locomotive, or the price of vegetables at Asda.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blocked in China

No-one can get this blog in China!

I don't know if it is because of the piece on the dynamiting the Marian Shrine I put up a few days ago or what, there is a very strange comment that seems to have come from some minor government official spin doctor.

If you are a Catholic or Christian blogger check out your own site HERE to see if you are blocked too.
Maybe this part of the build up to the publication of Pope's Letter to Chinese Christians

saturno tip to Mac for the checking thing

I'll list those who let me now they share this distinction

Mulier Fortis

Lover of Futility

St Joseph's Talks

Fr Justin

St John the Baptist: Sundays Angelus


Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, 24 June, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the solemnity of the Birth of St John the Baptist, whose life was wholly oriented toward Christ, like that of his mother, Mary. John the Baptist was the precursor, the “voice” sent to announce the incarnate Word. In reality, then, to commemorate his birth means to celebrate Christ, the fulfillment of the promises of all the prophets, among whom the Baptist was the greatest, called to “prepare the way” leading to the Messiah (cf Mt 11:9-10).

All the Evangelists begin the narrative of Jesus’ public life with the story of his baptism in the Jordan at the hand of John. St Luke places the Baptist’s entrance onto the scene within a solemn historical frame. My book Jesus of Nazareth also treats the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan as an event that would have enormous resonance for his times. From Jerusalem and from every part of Judea the people came to listen to John the Baptist and were baptized by him in the river as they confessed their sins (cf Mk 1:5). The repute of the prophet-baptizer would grow to the point that many asked themselves if it was he who was the Messiah. But – as the evangelist underscores – this he quickly denied: “I am not the Christ” (Jn 1:20). He remains, however, the first “witness” of Jesus, having received the indication of heaven: “The man on whom you will see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit” (Jn 1:33). This happens precisely when Jesus, having received his baptism, rose from the water: John sees descending upon him the Spirit as a dove. It was then that he “understood” the full reality of Jesus of Nazareth and began to make him “known to Israel” (Jn 1:31), pointing to him as Son of God and redeemer of man: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

By authentic prophecy, John remained a witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced the transgression of the commandments of God, even when the powerful were its protagonists. And so, when Herod and Herodiade [Salome] accused him of adultery, he paid with his life, signing with martyrdom his service to Christ, who is the Truth personified. Let us invoke his intercession, together with that of Mary Most Holy, that in our own times, too, the church may know to keep itself faithful to Christ and to witness with courage his truth and his love for all.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pope says what Cardinal won't

Prime Minister's "Catholic" wife gleefully showing condoms at a Party Conference

Tony Blair's eagerly awaited meeting with the Pope resulted in discomfort for the Prime Minister when he found himself on the receiving end of a stern lecture over his record in office.
During a 25-minute face-to-face audience in the Pontiff's private apartments, Pope Benedict XVI tackled Mr Blair on the continuing crisis in Iraq and the Middle East.
Italian news agency reports said Pope Benedict also made direct criticism of New Labour laws allowing greater stem cell research on human embryos, easy access to abortion, same-sex marriages, and adoption by gay couples.

Downing Street officials said the issue of gay adoption arose between Mr Blair and senior Vatican figures, not the Pope. But it was nevertheless an unexpected turn of events for Mr Blair, whose visit to the Vatican - his final foreign engagement as Premier - had been widely believed to presage his conversion to Catholicism.
Friction even seemed to emerge as the Pope and Prime Minister appeared in public for the cameras. Mr Blair, joined by his wife Cherie, presented Benedict with a framed set of three antique pictures of Cardinal Newman, who converted in 1845 after more than 20 years in the Church of England clergy and is now a candidate for sainthood.
Mrs Blair said: "I believe you are very familiar with him and he is on the journey to sainthood."
To which the Pope responded: "Yes, yes, although it is taking some time - miracles are hard to come by in Britain."
The gift was seen as a highly significant indication of Mr Blair's wish to convert to the Catholic faith.
After the meeting, the Pope's office issued a strongly worded statement, saying the two men had a 'frank discussion on the international situation, in particular the delicate question of the Middle East conflict'.
The actual wording of the communique contained the Italian phrase 'franco confronto', literally translated as 'frank confrontation' - inflammatory language seen as highly unusual in Rome.
The statement continued: "At the end, after an exchange of opinions on several laws recently passed by Parliament in Britain, he wished the Honourable Anthony Blair best wishes with regard to the fact he is leaving his position as Prime Minister."
It then commended Mr Blair's 'vivid desire to involve himself in particular for peace in the Middle East and for inter-religious dialogue'.
But the statement was seen as indicating the Vatican's continuing unease with the Iraq conflict, and also recent domestic legislation in Britain. In the language of diplomatic communiques, 'frank discussion' is customarily seen as code for an argument.
The statement was all the more surprising because the Vatican always uses carefully controlled language.
Previously, meetings with world leaders including President Bush have been described as 'warm and cordial', despite the Vatican's opposition to many of his policies and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Downing Street later talked in terms of a 'successful meeting'. A spokesman confirmed: "Private discussions included the Middle East."

......


Four years ago when Mr Blair met Pope John Paul II just before the outbreak of the war in Iraq, he was given a stern ticking-off by the late Polish pontiff.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pope catechises Blair



Pope: "No, that was not the correct answer to the first question. It was God, not not the spin doctors who made you."

Pope: "Question 2: Why did God make you?"

Readers are asked to answer this on behalf of Mr Anthony Blair

Blair held talks with Pope Benedict XVI, with the Vatican stop on his farewell tour fueling rumors that he plans to convert to Catholicism. The two men met privately for 25 minutes and then were joined for further talks by English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
A Vatican press office called the audience a normal meeting between the pope and a government leader. Blair leaves office on Wednesday.
The statement, issued after the talks with Benedict and a separate meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said there was a "frank" assessment of the international situation, including such "delicate" themes as the Middle East conflict and the future of the European Union

Friday, June 22, 2007

Isn't BT useless?


My phone isn't working, I got a member of the parish to phone BT.
They phoned me back on my mobile; first of all they wanted me unscrew things, exposing live wires - what would "'elf and safety say".
Then they phoned again to say it was a fault at the Telephone Exchange but it would not be until the 26th June that they will get off their backsides and fix the fault 4 Days!
Useless creatures!!!
UPDATE: they have fixed it. It really is dreadful being a priest without a phone. The did divert the line to my mobile, but it is a bit disconcerting counselling someone who is seriously depressed on a crowded bus, in that loud voice you need when on the mobile.

Chinese: to Dynamite Shrine



(Zenit.org ).- The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be dynamited following a government decision that the pilgrimage site is a place of illegal religious activity.The Henan Province government will prevent the annual July 16 pilgrimage, which normally draws 40,000 pilgrims for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, AsiaNews reported.The shrine was built in 1903 by a priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Monsignor Stefano Scarsella, then apostolic vicar to northern Henan. The shrine was meant to thank the Blessed Virgin for preserving Christians from the dangers of the Boxer Rebellion. The sanctuary lies in Tianjiajing, in the Diocese of Anyang, in a scenic, mountainous area that some speculate will be used for a commercial or government building. The provincial government has mobilized 700 soldiers for military exercises in the area since May 12, when the planned destruction was announced. Roads leading to the shrine are closed and pedestrians who go near the area are searched. The faithful of the Diocese of Anyang, appealing through AsiaNews, said: "We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world."

It is only next year that the Olympics take place in Beijing - should Catholics take part, or should we put pressure on sponsors to withdraw.

In future when there is story of persection, torture or murder of Christians in China I shall used the Beijing Olympic symbol.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Of your Charity


Pray for the soul of Father Sir Hugh Dacre Barrett-Lennard, Bart. of the London Oratory, his family were parishioners and generous benefactors to this parish until the 1970s.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Good for Bush, who meets Zen


Fr Zuhlsdorf reports that President Bush has had a secret meeting with Cardinal Zen, Archbishop of Hong Kong, at the White House. Good for Bush.

In the next few weeks the Pope is issuing a letter to Chinese Christians.

A Definite "No!" to Gay Pride Invitation


I have recently been invited to attend, with the parish banner, Brighton Gay Pride! Admittedly it was a letter addressed to "Dear Parish Priest/Minister/PCC Secretary", rather than to me by name, it was signed "Nigel & Maggie", there was no surname and only a P.O. Box to reply to, which in liberated Brighton actually surprised me. Very kindly they supplied a stamped addressed envelope.

I have actually never seen the Brighton Gay Pride procession. I am afraid I might see some of my parishioners taking part in it but also I do not want to be seen showing any support for this.


What does the Church have to say to people who define themselves as being "Gay" and parade their sexuality in public, and I am told sometimes in a very overt form. There are people in my parish of the same sex who live together, I presume in deep friendship, as brothers, as sisters. There is a couple who didn't live a chaste life but now do, who say the Rosary and the Little Office of Our Lady everyday together, their friendship has brought them a certain sanctity. I seem to spend a lot of time consoling sad "Gay" men who want to live a life that is pleasing to God. I know in the States there are organisation like Courage, in the UK there is "The Gay Mass" at Warwick Street, which seems to be more of an encounter group rather than something which calls people to holiness and obedience to the Magisterium.


I know that by mentioning this issue dreadful "anonymous" will rave about "Sodomites" and "Buggers" in the comments, but the Church has always welcomed men who have a homosexual inclination, Oscar Wilde became a Catholic, his lover/betrayer is buried in the Catholic Church's cemetery in Crawley. One of the finest 20th Century Catholic novels "Brideshead", is about a homosexual relationship, so many converts like Sassoon were homosexual. St Philip Neri seems to have had a ministry to young homosexual men of his time, the Renaissance revived classical morals as well as classical values.

So what do we have to say today?
How do we promote friendship?
How do we make chastity attractive?
How do we stop the Church being seen as the enemy of homosexuals, whilst upholding the Church's teaching?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pope: Athanasius


(VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 300-373), calling him a "pillar of the Church," and a "model of orthodoxy in both East and West." Before the audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope visited the Vatican Basilica where he greeted faithful gathered there.

After noting how St. Athanasius' statue was placed by Bernini, alongside statues of other doctors of the Church (St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine), around the cathedra of St. Peter in the apse of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope described the Alexandrian saint as a "passionate theologian of the incarnation of the 'Logos,' the Word of God," and "the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy which then threatened faith in Christ by minimizing His divinity, in keeping with a recurring historical tendency which is also evident in various ways today."

Athanasius participated in the Council of Nicaea, when bishops established "the symbol of faith ... which has remained in the tradition of the various Christian confessions and in the liturgy as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed." There it is affirmed that "the Son is 'of one substance' with the Father, precisely in order to highlight His full divinity which was denied by the Arians. ... The fundamental idea behind St. Athanasius theological labors was precisely that God is accessible, ... and that though our communion with Christ we can truly unite ourselves to God."

Nonetheless, the Arian crisis did not end with the Council of Nicaea "and on five occasions over a period of 30 years, ... Athanasius [bishop of Alexandria from 328] was forced to abandon his city, spending 17 years in exile." In this way, however, "he was able to support and defend in the West ... the Nicene faith and the ideals of monasticism."

This saint's most famous work "is his treatise 'On the Incantation of the Word'," in which he affirms that the Word of God "was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality."

Athanasius is also the author of meditations upon the Psalms and, above all, of one of the most popular works of ancient Christian literature, "the 'Life of St. Anthony,' the biography of St. Anthony Abbot which ... made a great contribution to the spread of monasticism in East and West."

The life of Athanasius, like that of St. Anthony, the Pope concluded, "shows us that 'those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them'."

Amien Light Show

Daniel has a piece on the light show at Amien Cathedral, through lazer technology the splendour of the painting of the Middle Ages is restored to the porticoes, it is well worth a visit if you are in northern France this summer. I saw it a few years ago. It was breath taking.

Communicating and Driving


The Vatican issued a document on Itinerants yesterday, in one brief section that hit the wires there was a reference to not drinking and driving.
Yesterday at our blogger's lunch we speculated idly about where government legislation might lead us. In ten years time will we will still have Catholic schools or charitable status, we wondered.
Of more pressing interest or concern was the proposed government regulations concerning the reduction of the amount one can drink have when driving to zero. I haven't kept up with this but the new laws will apparently make it illegal to supply alcoholic beverages to anyone one knows they will be driving.
Thus, if Mrs Jones on her way home from Mass has an accident and she is found to have even less than one unit of alcohol the provider, the celebrant of the Mass could be liable, and presumably her insurance company would not pay out.

Most probably this would not apply to Mrs Jones, but Father Jones who has several Mass centres might well be in a very serious situation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bloggers who Lunch



Mulier Fortis, Valle Adurni, Me, South Ashford Priest and Hermeneutic of Continuity, sat down to lunch today. Strange, when someone said, "I did...", we were able "Yes we know, you blogged about it".


99 Names: Contempt at Westminster Cathedral

John Taverner
Those 99 Names, are being performed at Westminster Cathedral tonight. I have no problem with addressing God as Allah, lots of Catholics do in Arabic speaking countries, I have no problems with "God the Merciful" and most of the other titles. I have a bit of problem with "God the Deceiver" as this seems to be a direct reference to the Muslim belief that Jesus was not God or crucified, but even that can be understood in the Eckhartian sense that God is totally other than man.

I do have a problem with an Islamic devotion in Westminster Cathedral. I do have a problem with a certain trend in Orthodox mysticism that fails to recognise the uniqueness of the Incarnation and the Person of Jesus Christ, the historical Christ Incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, who suffered, died and rose from the dead is the Christ of Christianity. There is always a temptation to dis-Incarnate Christ. John Taverner seems to be part of that Orthodox trend that almost denies the Incarnation preferring the idea of Eternal Logos who can be seen in all religions, for example Orpheus descending into the underworld, is actually Christ, Buddha being enlightened is actually Christ extending himself in communion to the whole of the cosmos, in this trend the Historic Jesus himself becomes metaphor rather than as we Catholics believe, the Absolute Reality.

I am more worried about how this performance will be received by Muslims, for most the use of instrumental music in prayer or worship is quite unacceptable, the use worship, the Holy Names as an entertainment will be seen as a gratuitous and blasphemous insult. In a time when it is really necessary for the Church and Islam to work together this seems to be an ill thought out attempt by the Cardinal and the Monsignor Langham, the Cathedral Administrator to ingratiate themselves with Prince Charles, there is too much of this type of thing, it is indeed a form of simony. The Prince's agenda, to become the Defender of Faiths, is about a religious syncretism that makes religion into a mishmash of emasculating and ethicless New Age beliefs that are far from what we as Catholics believe.

The Taverner piece seems to sum up all that we Catholics should oppose, the Muslim devotion performed in a Catholic Cathedral, accompanied by American Indian drums, with Buddhist and Hindu instruments, as part of a secular entertainment, is not just New Labour - multi-cultural and inclusive, but New Age and contemptuous of all our Traditions!

How Great is a Priest

Found this on Hallowed Ground.
"Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you. ” Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest."

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Answer Phone


The Chaplain of the hospital has just had an operation on his leg and can't get around the miles of corridors in the hospital, now another of the parish in the Brighton deanery has started leaving his answerphone on outside of office hours, which for some clergy seem to be between 9 & 12 in the morning. I am a bit selfish, in that I do not put mine on if I am going to be back in a few hours, partly because one or two of my parishioners will ring twenty or thirty times a day if they cannot get hold of me. Today is my day off and someone had come down to see me on a two hour train journey, for spiritual diorection, after twenty minutes the phone rang and a nun asked if I could go to the hospital.

In the last five days I have had at least one sick call a day from a neighbouring parish, I don't mind, it is what being a priest is about. What I do resent is knowing that a neighbouring priest just keeps office hours, or is in the presbytery or at least should be and being told by the hospital that they have tried ringing the number but the answer phone is on. This has happened even at night, I mean past midnight, sometimes we have to be out, even so late, but it seems to happen far too often to be with some clergy, that one is forced to think that they either are forever out visiting until incredibly late or have a frenetic social life, more likely they put the phone on for a quiet night.

I can understand if someone is ill or very old, the last thing you want is a broken night.

I think however, it is a matter of theology. I think that Sacrament of the Annointing, and if possible Viaticum (last communion), the Apostolic Indulgence are quite important for someone who is dying. I would want these sacraments, and it is reasonable for every Catholic to want them at the hour of death. Even non-sacramental actions, like the prayers for the departed after death are important, I want those too. I know that, we as Catholics believe that God desires that all are saved but we should also believe that salvation comes through the sacraments that place us in communion with Christ, there reception and therefore the availablity of the priest are important, the shortage of priests means tht we are in demand more than ever.


Of course if one believes that there is no Judgement, no possibility of Damnation, no Hell, then there is no need for me to get up in the middle of the night, one can leave the answerphone on and indeed if necessary someone caring for the sick could place the receiver near the ear of the dying and after they have listened to the times of Mass and heard Father thanking them for calling, they could take comfort from his final recorded, "God Bless".

Pope In Assisi




There seems to have been a awful lot of hugging in Assisi yesterday, even nose to nose encounters!
...but read the Holy Father's sermon and his Angelus talk.





Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Mexican Church


Amy Welbourne has a story about a new Mexican church given by a congregation in the US. I think the Church looks hideous but that is not the point, I'll be interested in your comments, read the whole article.


While worshipers enjoy the luxury, however, townspeople walk along unpaved roads or past flows of fetid water. Young men sit on the curb drinking liter bottles of Estrella beer. Daily life isn't pretty -- countless residents migrate to the U.S. for something better.The 1,500 residents of San Antonio relied on money from immigrants in Illinois and other states in the U.S. to build this $1.3 million church, a staggering sum for a poor village.

People have said they have had difficulty getting to the story, try going through Open Book

800th Anniversary of St Francis Conversion

The Holy Father goes to Assisi to mark the 800th Anniversary of St Francis

I love Zefferelli’s Brother Son and Sister Moon, I know it oozes flared trousers and cheese cloth shirts, those are my roots. It is still a beautiful film, I get a lump in my throat at the conversions and acts of heroism.


The first clip is his Conversion


Francis renounces the world



In the last clip one of Francis’ disciples tells Otto of Brunswick to throw his jewels in the river, I love the muic



Alas, I couldn't find my favourite scene, when at the end of the film Frncis goes to see the Pope who descends from his throne to embrace Francis. There is lots of pomp and a rather splendid rendering the "Victimae". Earlier in the film there is a rather touching scene where one of Francis' followers returns to the world unable to cope with rigours of "Sister Chastity".

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bishop's Protest


The Daily Telegraph has a story about the Cardinal, on behalf of the Bishops of England and Wales, sending a protest to Rome about the impending Motu Proprio. If you haven't been on other sites, apparently it is likely to be issued in the next few weeks, already it seems that the Curial Officials who will present it to the press are announced.
As always, the Bishops are saying "we are doing alright, thank you very much", I hate that smug assumption. My Lords we are not doing alright, have the humility to admit it! They claim that they are responding well to the requests for the Traditional Rite. Certainly here our Bishop is happy to have the Mass offered once a month by a visiting SSSP priest, when requested to allow it weekly, he wanted to wait for the Motu Proprio, elsewhere he seems keener on monthly rather than weekly celebrations.
The bishops say there is not much call for it. I think they have missed the point. For me, being a rabid 70s liberal with attitude there is a question of justice for those who want the Rite. Those closest to the Pope have said that the Motu Proprio is partly to make possible the end of the Lefebvrist "schismatic act" and to reconcile the followers of the late archbishop but also that it is an important part of our Tradition. For me as a non-Tridentine saying priest the Motu Proprio is important in that it underlines that the Church has a history and the Missal of Paul VI has roots not in the protestant bible service but in a deep and rich Catholic Tradition, it is the continuity of that which is important to me. Unfortunately I think that one of the reasons that "there is not much call for it", is an indictment of where we have moved to, that is something distinct from that Tradition.
The Motu Proprio is not just about allowing a few people to celebrate Mass in a particular Rite but rather a very clear statement that a Tradition that goes back two millenia is still valid, that is important in especially in Benedicts thinking about the Christian heritage of Europe.
One of the important strands of the Benedictine Pontificate is his commitment to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, to the texts rather than that nebulous "Spirit of the Council", which the Pope considers lazy and very inadequate theology. Chief amongst the Council's "innovations" was the call to the re-union of Christendom, most especially with the East. The Greatest criticism of the Eastern Churches of Rome is its scant regard for Tradition, the Motu Proprio is one of those tools for re-union.

Oh, I Have Just Noticed


We have just passed 50,000 visitors since I began this blog in August last year.
If you are a regular it is could to have your support.
There seem to have been twice that number of page views. I am glad the blog gets to more people than the parish newsletter.
At the moment about 250 log on each day.

May God bless you all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Feast of the Sacred Heart

Today's reading are about the Good Shepherd.

I heard a school inspector on the radio telling the story of asking children in Yorkshire about the Gospel passage for today's Mass, it was about the Good Shepherd. A little girl, the daughter of a shepherd said, "My Dad would go and find the lost sheep and shoot the b*****!" Apparently sheep who get lost once do it often, and eventually others follow.

Jewish shepherds, I am told rather shooting would break the leg of dissident sheep, and therefore have to carry it about, by the time it could walk by itself it had learnt to become dependant on the shepherd. Of course carrying a sheep about meant that you got covered in its urine and excrement, an image of the Incarnation?
Beware of the saccharine.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Families Discrimination


Two-parent families are being 'brutally discriminated' against by the Government's strategy to tackle child poverty, according to a report by a Labour MP, Frank Field.
A two-parent family on minimum wage would have to work 116 hours a week to earn the same as a single mother working just 16 hours a week, it says.

Lawyers issue alert over new test for Christian charities


I have been increasingly anxious about the new proposals of the Charity Commissioners. It looks as if the charitable status, and therefore exemption from tax, etc., will be removed from Christian institutions that "do not serve a useful public purpose", such as retreat houses, monasteries, educational and catechetical institutes. Ultimately of course it could mean that parishes could loose their charitable status, if there work is not in line with current government thinking about what is "a useful public purpose".



The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship is urging churches and Christian organisations to register their concern over the latest Government attempt to review the 'public benefit' of Christian charities.
As part of a wide-sweeping upgrade of charity registration and management of charities by the Charity Commissioners, the Commission published a consultation document looking at whether charities which did not appear to meet a 'public benefit test' should lose their rights to Registered Charity status, including tax advantages through Gift Aid.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and public policy officer at LCF said: "The Charities Act 2006 removed the legal presumption that charities established for the advancement of religion have purposes that are for the public benefit.
"'Public benefit' is not defined in the Charities Act 2006 and it has specifically been left to the Charity Commission to consult on the matter. Christian charities will now have to prove their 'public benefit' to the Charity Commission. It is of concern that the Charity Commission has said it will interpret 'public benefit' in the light of 'modern conditions'. What this could mean for Christian charities that exist for evangelism or which promote traditional Christian teaching on family and life issues is unknown."
The Government proposal is that every charity will have to prove its 'public benefit' on an annual basis. Those who fail to persuade Civil Servants could be de-registered and lose out on taxable advantages, such as claiming tax back on donations given via Gift Aid.
Although the Consultation period ended on June 6, the LCF is encouraging church leaders and trustees of Christian organisations to write to the Charity Commission to demonstrate to depth of concern amongst Christian charities.
The address for the Charity Commission is:
Charity Commission Direct, PO Box 1227, Liverpool, L69 3UG, or email enquiries@charitycommission.gov.uk
The LCF has submitted a response on behalf of churches and Christian charities which can be found at: http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/Latest/docs/Charities.pdf

Cardinal: Amnesty International's Identity Lost


Says Catholics Should No Longer Support Group


Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is encouraging Catholics to withdraw support from Amnesty International since the groups no longer defends the right to life.

Cardinal Renato Martino told the National Catholic Register that the recent decision by the human rights group to promote abortion "rights" is a betrayal of its identity.

"By pushing for the decriminalization of abortion as part of their platform, Amnesty International has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights," he said. "If AI is no longer willing to stand up for the most basic human right -- the right to life -- then the very integrity of the organization is called into question."

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benson as a defender and promoter of the inalienable rights of the human person.

Now it has joined other international organizations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund, in promoting a so-called right to abortion, at least in certain cases.

Culture of death

Cardinal Martino, who served as the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, says that this change of position is part of the "pro-death" agenda in the culture.

"The pro-death agenda […] is cloaked in human rights language, but in reality it undermines the very human rights it portends to support," Cardinal Martino said. "Its logical conclusion is the destruction of life and all of the life-giving values that we as a human family and as a society should be grateful for. De-sensitizing the culture to the evil of abortion is part and parcel of the pro-abortion lobby."

However, the 74-year-old cardinal recognized that pro-choice organizations have not succeeded in establishing an "internationally recognized human right" to abortion.

"I was head of the Holy See delegation to the Cairo Conference on Population and Development when that issue was settled definitively," Cardinal Martino stated. "Paragraph 8.25 of the Cairo Declaration clearly states, 'In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning … and every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion."

The cardinal said that Amnesty International's decision means Catholics and Catholic organizations should no longer financially support the group.

"The very promotion of abortion opens the door to the slippery slope of evil and death, where human rights are taken away from the most innocent and vulnerable children of God," he said. "I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support."

Royal College of Ob/Gyn Forbids Disabled Person to Present Petition on Infanticide


(LifeSiteNews.com) - The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) London, today refused to let wheelchair-user Alison Davis present a petition on the infanticide of disabled babies. Officials told Ms. Davis, leader of the No Less Human disability rights group, that she could not come in because she would need someone to push her wheelchair, and the RCOG would only let one person into its London headquarters.
Alison Davis, who has spina bifida, said: “It would be comical if it weren't also tragic that the RCOG, which has asked for a debate on the killing of babies with disabilities such as spina bifida, won't let me, a disabled person, hand over our petition which has some 28,000 signatures. Neither I nor my career is a threat to anyone.”
No Less Human has decided that, because of the RCOG's refusal to admit Ms. Davis, the petition will not be presented today. The group is determined that Ms. Davis should nevertheless present the petition to the RCOG in person.
John Smeaton, head of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, of which No Less Human is a part, said: “The RCOG is a body which should have respect for women whom they are supposed to serve and it is particularly disgraceful that they have refused entry to a disabled person. This is discrimination against disabled people who wanted to protest against proposals that disabled people should be killed.”
In a submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the RCOG called for people to “think more radically about non-resuscitation, withdrawal of treatment decisions, the best interests test and active euthanasia.”
The petition presented by Ms. Davis is in response to comments made by the RCOG last November that urged a public debate on infanticide. The Sunday Times reports that RCOG openly supported “active euthanasia” of infants. “A very disabled child can mean a disabled family,” the Times quoted the college as saying. “If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome.”
The petition is addressed to Sir Allan Templeton, RCOG president. It invokes the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which upholds the right to life of all members of the human family, including newborn babies and disabled people.
To contact RCOG and respectfully voice concerns:
Professor Allan Templeton, President Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 27 Sussex Place, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RG United KingdomEmail: allan.templeton@abdn.ac.ukPhone: +44 (0)20 7772 6228

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

That time of year


The papal saturno appeared again today at the audience.
Is HH putting on weight?

Pope: search for God’s love in the history of the Church


In his general audience Benedict XVI illustrates the figure of Eusebius of Caesarea, the first Church historian, underlining that he “invites us all to marvel, to contemplate the story of Gods great work for salvation and to convert to life”, in order to “leave a transparent trace of God’s love”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – What is our reaction to Church events: “one of curiosity, perhaps an impulse to search for the sensational the scandal at all costs” or maybe “one of love, open to the mystery”, an impulse to “search for God’s great work of salvation for mankind”. This was the question that Benedict XVI today put to the 30 thousand pilgrims present in St Peter’s square for the general audience.
The source of the Pope’s reflection was Eusebius of Caesarea, “tireless scholar and author from the IV century”, as he continued his catechesis on the writers of the early Church.
In the “fundamental distinction between the first three centuries and those that followed the Nicean Council of 325”, Eusebius emerges “almost at its close”. Bishop of Caesarea and a great admirer of Constantine who returned the favour, today he is above all remembered as the first Church historian, but he was also a great philologist of the ancient Church. Eusebius attended the Nicean Council and subscribed its teaching on the Son’s divinity and consubstantiality with the Father, as is expressed in the “Credo we recite every Sunday”.
Benedict XVI defined Eusebius, who died circa 370, as a “tireless scholar”, who gathered together three centuries of Christianity, lived under persecution, drawing on Christian and Pagan sources preserved in the great library of his city. His fame is directly linked to the 10 books he wrote on ecclesial history, fundamental due to the sources in which they are grounded, “which saved the events, stories and works of the ancient Church from oblivion”. At the beginning of the first book in his historic series he lists the arguments examining the times that have passed from the Our Lord, through Apostolic Succession, “backbone of the Church”, the spreading of the Word, the errors, the persecutions and the “great witness of light with emerges from this story of the first 300 years of the Churches life”. In all “the benevolent presence of the Lord is felt”.
The Theologian – pope underlines that in his work, there is a characteristic that will become constant in ancient ecclesial histography: moral intent. His analyses of history “continue to inspire Christians in every age to let their study of history bear fruit in a greater appreciation of God’s saving works, a deeper conversion to Christ and a more generous witness to the Gospel in everyday life”. Thus calling on Christians to consider their attitude to events in the Church.
If they search for the “sign of God’s love”, we are stimulated to a more Christian witness. Centuries later we are all invited to “marvel, to contemplate the story of Gods great work for salvation and to convert to life”, before God who loves us so “we cannot remain inert”, so that our lives may become “an invisible trace of God’s love”.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Smoking in Church

I have to put up signs like this in the Church - people don't of course.
I really want to put up signs saying, "No Gossiping", "No Sinning", "No Bending Hymn Books", etc, etc. I wonder if it is a government move against incense.

I was talking to our Dean today and he said he found a couple in the very act of fornicating in a side chapel recently.
There should be a law against it; at least in a public place.

We have an average of 7 new laws a day at the moment.

Now can anyone remind me of what Tacitus said about corruption, government and making endless laws?

Corruptissima res publica, plurimae leges. (Tacitus - An. 3, 27) - Thank you Fr Tim Finigan, see comments.

A Nice Quiet Day Off

Aaron Spinnelli

I finished of sorting out my holiday yesterday, I very rarely get a Sunday off, or as one of my parishioners said, "...we very rarely have a Sunday without you". When I was an assistant priest I always enjoyed the parish priest's holidays more than mine.

First of all I am going to Verona for a week, with friends for the Opera Festival, and then down to Rome for Aaron Spinnelli's ordination to the diaconate, that should be fun, a cohort of my favourite priests of the diocese will in Rome for the event all staying at the Domus Paulus, near the Piazza Novona.
I have known Aaron for years, he has always shown a remarkable maturity, I so was pleased when he was accepted by the diocese and began his studies in Rome, remember in him in your prayers in the month leading up to his ordination.

I always say Mass and hear confessions on weekdays and yesterday there was a little queue for confessions, but no-one went into the box, so I went outside to find out what was the matter, there were three people there who I thought were South Americans, one of the women was obviously blind. I asked what they wanted, "We want a shower", said the other woman. I thought I misunderstood, or this was a euphemism for the cleansing lather of the of the, "second baptism". But I discovered they spoke Spanish. Fortunately, Sr Joan, who had founded schools in Venuzuala and I should think had quelled a gang or two of drug dealers, and then started a day centre for the homeless in Brighton, was able to translate. In our multi-cultural society I have a number of people, who knowing the dire consequences of breaking the seal of confession, occasionally act as translators.
They did indeed want a shower, one of our parishioners took them down to the former church that is now a centre for the homeless.
They were Romanians, who had been living in Spain, for the last few days they had been living on the street. I presume they were professional beggars.
I spent a bit of the rest of the day looking for a lavatory brush, as one does as a priest, Robert Dyas had one only, for £15, rediculous, after much searching I found one, today, in a ironmongers for £1.45, such an item is like hen's teeth in Brighton.
I heard that at one of the Oratories a lavatory brush kept disappearing, an old priest there went on holiday, the superior decided his room needed a tidy. The lavatory brush was found in his bed. "I get an itch, Father, on my back, it is the only thing I can reach it with!" was the explanation.
(Sorry to be so mundane).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blair to be Ordained a Deacon


I first saw this on Forest Murmurs, and now on Whispers and I don't believe a word of it.


Rumours that Blair -- an Anglican who frequently attends Mass with his Catholic wife and kids -- will himself swim the Tiber have swirled for years, resurfacing anew in recent weeks. However, several UK papers report today that the outgoing PM, whose last foreign commitment in office is a private audience with Pope Benedict next week, isn't just considering being received into the church, but ordination to the permanent diaconate:

Mr Blair discussed the idea of his taking such a role with Canon Timothy Russ, priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary near the Prime Minister’s official country residence, Chequers.

The revelation is contained in a new book soon to be serialised by The Mail on Sunday – The Darlings Of Downing Street by Garry O’Connor.

The book states: "Tony expressed his strong desire when he stepped down to become a deacon – and a Roman Catholic deacon at that, confirming the often-speculated belief that he would convert to Roman Catholicism sometime in the future."

Mr Blair is reported as asking his confidant Father Timothy: "Would this be possible?" He was told: "It usually takes two or three years", to which he replied: "The fact that I'm PM, could this make a difference?"

The deacon idea emerged in a conversation a few years ago about Mr Blair's plans after he leaves office.

Father Timothy suggested that taking on a formal role in the Church could give him fresh moral clout when he campaigns on climate change and Africa.

The priest added: "He has a lot of potentiality for good. He is still looking for the meaning in his life."

The Blairs stopped attending Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary last year for "security reasons". The relationship with the priest became strained after he spoke out against the Iraq War, accusing the Prime Minister of moral surrender.

It is understood that Mr Blair will be accompanied by Cherie at the audience with the Pope in the papal apartments a week on Saturday. The couple are expected to spend the weekend in Rome before returning for their last 72 hours in Downing Street.

It will be Mr Blair's third visit to the Vatican in four years and a source said: "The fact that he will meet the Holy Father for his last official overseas engagement is highly significant and must raise speculation over his conversion to Catholicism."

The latest revelations follow recent comments by Father Michael Seed, who provides private Masses for the Blairs in their Downing Street flat.

The priest, known for bringing high-profile politicians and aristocrats into the Catholic fold, believes Mr Blair is poised to join the Church of Rome.

Converts are usually welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass, held the night before Easter Sunday, but these arrangements are considered flexible.

Admittance to the Church is normally a two-year process. But Mr Blair, because he is already a regular attender, is likely to be fast- tracked.

As a deacon, he could help priests administer Mass, preside over baptisms and read the gospel in Church services. Unlike priests, deacons are not required to take a vow of chastity.

Mr Blair, whose children have been brought up as Catholics, regularly attends Mass at Westminster Cathedral and has become close to the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The Prime Minister's first meeting with the present Pope took place last June, but he had an audience with Pope John Paul II in February 2003, shortly before the US and British-led invasion of Iraq.

It later emerged that the Prime Minister had received Holy Communion from the Polish-born pontiff at a private service for the Blair family in the Vatican.

Mrs Blair, who is a devout Catholic, had an unexpected meeting with Pope Benedict last year when she was on a speaking engagement in Rome.

In 1996 Cardinal Basil Hume, the late Archbishop of Westminster, asked that the Prime Minister – a member of the Church of England – cease taking Communion at his wife’s London church in Islington.

Mr Blair is not believed to have received the sacrament in British Catholic churches since then. However, he is understood to have taken the Eucharist during holidays in Italy where an Anglican church was not easily available.