Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mass in English... last!

After years of having poor translations and often bleak, ugly phrasing, we are going to get something that might be in real English. The Holy Father has approved the new English texts and in due course - and with, we can assume, due muddles and controversies - they will be in use in our parishes.

Cue for a barrage from (a) those who don't want any improvement that might emphasise the grandeur and glory of the Mass and (b) the school of thought that says that any new English text is irrelevant, tee hee, who cares about the Ordinary Form of the Mass anyway?

Actually, having the Mass in better English will be a massive help in ensuring beautiful worship. Papa Benedict has given us a vision that is worthwhile: the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass, a sense of continuity, an emphasis on God.

We need a focus on liturgy as worship. It is God that matters here. The introductory rites, with the Confiteor, draw us, hesitantly, into the presence of God and in due course we have the exultant singing of the Gloria before there is, as it were, a drawing back as the Scriptures are read, and then the priest's movement towards the altar and the Offertory and the drama as the "Holy,holy,holy..." begins the awesome build-up to the Consecration. All of this, in Latin or in English, in 1962 form or in a newer form, is something that should all be expressed in beauty.

There will be muddles and mumbles and mess as the new texts are introduced. People will say what is already familiar, and then hesitate and get confused and it will all sound ghastly. It will seem as though the whole thing isn't worthwhile. And those of us who rather like the Latin tend also be be among those who have also been pleading for better English, and we'll be in anguish as people will say "Oh, why do we need any changes anyway?" But it will work out well. The new texts will eventually become familiar, and while they are still taking root the more authentic doctrine they express will gradually become familiar too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At Brompton Oratory...

...or, strictly speaking, at the Oratory House which adjoins the church, a meeting of the Board of the British section of Aid to the Church in Need. Much to discuss... projects, events, meetings - BTW, why not join us on the Pilgrimage to Walsingham?

Now, this Papal visit. Talking to the other people on the ACN Board, I realised how little we really all know about the plans. I mean, how do ordinary Catholics get to see the Pope? Airport arrival? Scottish Mass? London events? Beatification of John Henry Newman? How do people get to these events - how restricted will they be? When Pope John Paul came, back in 1982, there were coaches from parishes in the South of England to Gatwick airport - as I recall, in the parish where I was living at the time we gathered at about 3 am and arrived at the airport with hours to spare, which were spent singing and praying and it was all rather convivial. I suppose we must assume that this time, with threats from the likes of Hitchens and co (website of the National Secular Society is rallying people to turn up to do some hate-shouting etc), everything will be closely guarded, numbers restricted etc. Well, hmmmm, obviously there's a need for safety and so on, but it's also important that people are allowed to see and greet and cheer our Holy Father!

The Papal Visit website is, perhaps understandably, not at this stage hugely informative on details. But we do need info.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do not let...

...the foul-up by the Foreign Office spoil the plans for the Papal visit. That is precisely what those who hate the Church want to happen. So it mustn't.

There are two issues here. First is the Foreign Office foul-up, which needs to be tackled. The perpetrator is said to have been "moved to other tasks" Uh??? Other tasks? Good grief. What other religions or nations is he going to insult next? It would be much more reassurring to know that he has been invited to use his creative and amusing talents elsewhere than in the public service.

But the more important issue is that the Papal visit is secured, that full-scale apologies from the Foreign Office to the Holy See are accepted, and that plans go ahead for the September events, with the Church's right of free speech emphasised and the traditions of courtesy and goodwill honoured to the full. Recriminations and "I told you not to trust this Government" and so on and so on are an indulgence we cannot afford as Catholics.

It has long been apparent that the present Government and many people in official positions in Britain dislike the Church and her moral teachings: our Catholic bishops have often appeared naive in their refual to accept this reality. But a successful Papal visit, a good gathering of Catholics to honour the successor of St Peter, the beatification of John Henry Newman, and a public celebration of the Faith, are great and large things, and well worth the time, sacrifice, dedication and prayer put into them.

Do not let those who hate the Church wreck this Papal visit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In the middle...

...of much family activity (see below) phone calls from TV and radio stations about the ridiculous, offensive, gross and vulgar rubbish produced in a Foreign Office memo about the Pope's visit. It is shaming to realise how low we have sunk as a nation: I suppose there have always been crude young men at the Foreign Office producing insolent material as a joke, but it is frightening that today such stuff gets taken seriously and circulated.

A new baby... our family. Rushed to young relatives Edmund and Fiorella to share in the joy at the arrival of

, born 24th April 2010

a brother for Hugh and Francesca.

A darling baby,warm against my heart as I cuddled him. The dear faces of a joyful young couple as they start this next exciting chapter of their family story. A house teeming with busyness and love, a fish-and-chip supper, cheerful grandparents arriving with hugs and with food and practical gifts and immediate quiet competence, great flurries of activity and much whooping and laughter combined with swapping of news and sudden tiredness and gratitude for togetherness. Joy, joy...

Friday, April 23, 2010

David Quinn... Irish journalist who recently came to speak to us at The Keys, has an excellent analysis of Papa Benedict's first 5 years here.

A Meeting...

...of the committee of the Association of Catholic Women. Much discussion of current issues...state of the Church in Ireland (problems of too close connection between Irish Church and State throughout much of 20th century, clericalism, etc), current attacks on the Pope, ghastly new appointment at the Catholic Education Service...this last is absolutely weird, and prompts questions of a most serious kind.

What possible reason can there be to appoint, to an official Catholic position, some one as a public official has consistently opposed Catholic teaching on every possible occasion? This new Deputy Director of the CES is a former Member of Parliament with a consistent record of supporting the work of the pro-abortion International Planned Parenthood, Family Planning Association and Marie Stopes International. He is now going to earn some £60,000 a year as an official of the body in charge of Catholic schools in England and Wales.

The Catholic Education Service proved its ineptitude in a quite dramatic way recently by failing to stand up for the rights of Catholics in the Govt's horrible plans for compulsory sex education. Thanks to the courageous campaigning of other groups, and despite the efforts of the CES to shore things up, the Government's legislation was eventually abandonerd, leaving the Catholic Education Service looking extremely stupid. Cue for a major re-think: opportunity to disband the CES and reorganise. But no - instead, a supporter of this discredited Government and an enthusiastic campaigner for National Condom Week is appointed as CES Deputy Director.

You couldn't make it up...

Thursday, April 22, 2010


...sometimes feels like a debate about rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

To get a sense of some of the real issues facing our country - and some questions to ask your local candidates - go to the Catholic Union website and use their excellent election booklet RESTORING FAITH IN POLITICS. This is also being distributed in booklet form with all the main Catholic newspapers, and is being sent to Catholic groups and organisations etc.

Christians of all denominations will find the material useful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An ecumenical note...

...which may be of interest: as chairman of a Christian charity, Christian Projects, which runs a big nationwide Schools Bible Project, I recieved an encouraging letter today. Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has kindly agreed to be a Patron of Christian Projects, and we are really delighted that he is giving us this support. Some years ago, when the Schools Bible Project was really in its infancy, he gladly consented to present the prizes, and invited us all to Lambeth Palace. It was a wonderful day which the young prizewinners hugely enjoyed - we were made warmly welcome, were shown around this fascinating building, learned something of its history, and had a lovely celebration.


...thanks to kindness shown through a chance encounter at Westminster Cathedral, I had a lovely day with a cousin I had not seen for years. It was a day of swapping memories and talking over many things.

Hanging in the hall was a picture that swept me back to my childhood - the angel, drawn by our great-grandfather, in the style of Burne-Jones under whom he studied. I suddenly realised how childhood images stay with you, shape your ideas, form the background to your life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And you simply must read...

...the excellent Round Table honouring Papa Benedict's anniversary produced by Ignatius Press.

Worth reading...

...the Holy Father's address to young people in Malta.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Under a silent sky... to London for a meeting with Josephine Robinson of the Association of Catholic Women. Entries have been arriving for the Association's 2010 Schools' RE Project, in which children were invited to write about the Pope, explaining about St Peter being the first Pope and so on...a team of judges will be reading all the entries and, as in previous years, awarding book prizes generously donated by the CTS...

On to St Chad's in South Norwood, where a cheery group had gathered in the parish hall to hear Auntie speak about "Celebrating feasts and seasons". A well-attended gathering, organised initially for new converts who had been recieved into the Church at Easter, but open to everyone in the parish and we got a good mixture of people.

Home late, tackled emails, trawled through news on the Net. Continued attacks on the Pope...and I find the Comments on some Catholic blogs rather horrid, especially those sneering at ordinary parish life and at the Maltese enthusiasm for Papa B.

Over the past couple of years I've travelled more to different parishes and Catholic groups than ever before, and I realise that there is a living and thriving Faith that doesn't seem to get reflected in the blogosphere. It will be the loving prayers of ordinary Catholics rising to Heaven that support the Pope on this anniversary day of his succession.

You won't...

... hear about this in the British media, of course, but look here and here for what really happened when Papa B. visited Malta.

Children in their hundreds singing to him, vast enthusiastic crowds packing out the streets and squares, the harbour filled with boats and cheering people...and a huge rapport between him and all these people as he spoke of their values, their commitment to marriage and family and human life...

And this good and decent man wept when he met victims of abuse, and prayed with them and they have spoken of what this has meant to them...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Jesuit... in Wimbledon is having its floor relaid (over 100 years of use) so Masses have been transferred to the church hall, which has been transformed into a temporary church. They took a photograph of the (gothic arched) sanctuary, enlarged it to giant size and placed it to create a sanctuary in the hall, ditto with some pictures of the side-aisles, and all this, combined with clever use of curtains, has created a sort of church-atmosphere in which to house the altar and Tabernacle. The result is quite successful, and although the rows of chairs in the main part of the hall give a slight feel of a USA-style mega-church, there was a full sung Latin Mass complete with the "Domine, salvam fac.." for the Queen. Afterwards, at a food-sale in the lower hall, I bought a chocolate cake which I'm taking along to a friend this evening. She ought to be flying home to America but is marooned here in London because of the Icelandic ash, so we'll have cake and a DVD ("Lewis", successor to "Morse", recommended).

Jamie took Mother and me out to tea at Wimbledon and this was much appreciated. Blossom on the trees, bright sunshine, children running about, and Mother was delighted by the gardens at Cannizaro House.

There are good voices now telling the truth and defending the Holy Father against these vile attacks. Try here for instance. And the news reports about the trip to Malta are of interest. But there's something weird with The Times website: attempts to send in Comments seem to meet with resistance. What's going on?

Friday, April 16, 2010

And here... an important analysis of that 1985 Cardinal Ratzinger letter too.

The election debate...

...was on the TV last night and I went to a friend's house to view it. Underwhelming. I thought Cameron sounded convincing on the subjects of crime and education. Nick Clegg sounded like a commentator rather than a potential leader. Gordon Brown looked a bit tired but was amusing on the subject of the election posters.

A meeting... Chelsea on a spring evening, with judges of the Tamezin Young Journalists' Award. The Tamezin venture goes from strength to strength. It's a magazine produced by and for young people, it is attractive and glossy and fun to read and a subscription would be an excellent gift for any teenage girl you know...the annual presentation of the Young Journalists' Awards takes place soon and is always a wonderful day, with young people arriving from across Britain and a great air of get various prozes including opportunities for work experience at TV and radio stations and on newspapers and magazines. To find out more, click on that link...

Jack Valero...

...had a piece in yesterday's Guardian which is worth reading. Read it and also the 1985 letter from Cardinal Ratzinger which was taken out of context and used to make a fabricated story.

A gathering...

...of friends at the chapel of the John Fisher School, Purley, for the funeral of Aine Cooper, a dear and much-loved lady, wife of Daniel Cooper, a teacher at the school for many years. Aine was a friend to so many, a nurse whose medical skills and wisdom were of exceptional note and who shared them with loving generosity. Fr Roger Nesbitt was the principal celebrant, along with a good many other priests.Mgr Patrick Burke had flown from Rome and was the preacher, and spoke about the Eucharist,the real presence of Christ our Saviour...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A quick round-up of Auntie's activities... recent days (been too busy to blog until now)...

A good crowd of Catholic Walkers met on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral on Monday evening. Began with prayers for the Holy Father's visit. Distributed copies of the important article by Phil Lawler (download it, print it off, and do the same). It being 6pm, at the suggestion of an Anglican clergyman who was of the group, we sang the Regina Caeli. Then off on a ramble through the City, taking in various churches, the Guildhall, and, finally, the plaque marking the birthplace of John Henry Newman, where we had a final talk and prayer. (The plaque is near the Stock Exchange. Newman was baptised at St Benet's church which stood nearby but which was demolished to make way for neccessary road widening in the mid 19th century - some of the artefacts went to a new St Benet's in what was then the expanding suburb of Tottenham).

Next day, off to Wales, where my travels took me to Pantasaph: there is a magnificent Franciscan shrine there, which I noted as I passed...I had never heard of it before, and learned that it dates back to the 19th century and is on land donated by the Earl of Denbigh.

I was staying at a local b-and-b, so after supper I went to explore the shrine. It has a fine outdoor garden-chapel, with a great statue of Padre Pio, to whom I confided various intercessions. A gate led through to some woods, so I opened it up...and there was a steep hill path, following by curls and zigzags the Stations of the Cross up to a great I followed the Way, I was alone in the woods in the dusk, with startled rabbits scampering away at my footfall, and birds suddenly rustling in the the great Calvary, Christ extends his arms from the hill, and takes in all sorrow, all worries...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just off to...

...St Paul's Cathedral, where we are meeting on the steps for a Catholic History Walk. 6pm. See you there?

Well, if you are reading this from across the Atlantic, or in Australia, or somewhere, I'll write later and tell you all about it!

watch this on YOUTUBE...

...view here a BBC interview.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This one is easy...

...and enjoyable. Sign here a letter of affection and support for Papa Benedict. Get your friends and family to sign. Get people in your parish to sign. Get your priest to sign. Pass it on to people in a quick email, urging people to sign and pass on. Do it now!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

That letter from Cardinal Ratzinger...

...has been headlined everywhere. Now get the facts.

Phil Lawler is an American journalist. This is from his column. Because what he says is so important, I'm simply reprinting it here. Read on:

"We're off and running once again, with another completely phony story that purports to implicate Pope Benedict XVI in the protection of abusive priests.

The "exclusive" story released by AP yesterday, which has been dutifully passed along now by scores of major media outlets, would never have seen the light of day if normal journalistic standards had been in place. Careful editors should have asked a series of probing questions, and in every case the answer to those questions would have shown that the story had no "legs."

First to repeat the bare-bones version of the story: in November 1985, then-Cardinal Ratzinger signed a letter deferring a decision on the laicization of Father Stephen Kiesle, a California priest who had been accused of molesting boys.
Now the key questions:

• Was Cardinal Ratzinger responding to the complaints of priestly pedophilia? No. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the future Pontiff headed, did not have jurisdiction for pedophile priests until 2001. The cardinal was weighing a request for laicization of Kiesle.

• Had Oakland's Bishop John Cummins sought to laicize Kiesle as punishment for his misconduct? No. Kiesle himself asked to be released from the priesthood. The bishop supported the wayward priest's application.

• Was the request for laicization denied? No. Eventually, in 1987, the Vatican approved Kiesle's dismissal from the priesthood.

• Did Kiesle abuse children again before he was laicized? To the best of our knowledge, No. The next complaints against him arose in 2002: 15 years after he was dismissed from the priesthood.

• Did Cardinal Ratzinger's reluctance to make a quick decision mean that Kiesle remained in active ministry? No. Bishop Cummins had the authority to suspend the predator-priest, and in fact he had placed him on an extended leave of absence long before the application for laicization was entered.

• Would quicker laicization have protected children in California? No. Cardinal Ratzinger did not have the power to put Kiesle behind bars. If Kiesle had been defrocked in 1985 instead of 1987, he would have remained at large, thanks to a light sentence from the California courts. As things stood, he remained at large. He was not engaged in parish ministry and had no special access to children.

• Did the Vatican cover up evidence of Kiesle's predatory behavior? No. The civil courts of California destroyed that evidence after the priest completed a sentence of probation-- before the case ever reached Rome.

So to review: This was not a case in which a bishop wanted to discipline his priest and the Vatican official demurred. This was not a case in which a priest remained active in ministry, and the Vatican did nothing to protect the children under his pastoral care. This was not a case in which the Vatican covered up evidence of a priest's misconduct. This was a case in which a priest asked to be released from his vows, and the Vatican-- which had been flooded by such requests throughout the 1970s -- wanted to consider all such cases carefully. In short, if you're looking for evidence of a sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this case is irrelevant.

We Americans know what a sex-abuse crisis looks like. The scandal erupts when evidence emerges that bishops have protected abusive priests, kept them active in parish assignments, covered up evidence of the charges against them, and lied to their people. There is no such evidence in this or any other case involving Pope Benedict XVI.

Competent reporters, when dealing with a story that involves special expertise, seek information from experts in that field. Capable journalists following this story should have sought out canon lawyers to explain the 1985 document-- not merely relied on the highly biased testimony of civil lawyers who have lodged multiple suits against the Church. If they had understood the case, objective reporters would have recognized that they had no story. But in this case, reporters for the major media outlets are far from objective.

The New York Times-- which touched off this feeding frenzy with two error-riddled front-page reports-- seized on the latest "scoop" by AP to say that the 1985 document exemplified:

…the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

Here we have a complete rewriting of history. Earlier in this decade, American newspapers exposed the sad truth that many American bishops had kept pedophile priests in active ministry. Now the Times, which played an active role in exposing that scandal, would have us believe that the American bishops were striving to rid the priesthood of the predators, and the Vatican resisted!

No, what is "fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal" is a media frenzy. There is a scandal here, indeed, but it's not the scandal you're reading about in the mass media. The scandal is the complete collapse of journalistic standards in the handling of this story."

More attacks on Pope Benedict ...

...and the ability of the authorities in Rome to respond seems limited. I think there's a hope that it will all go away. It won't. It is necessary to take action, and to be seen to be open and responsive to what is going on.

Nor is it wise for those on the wider scene who are trying to support Pope Benedict to attempt the ploy of deflecting the attack to Pope John Paul: the ghastly scandals within the Legionaries of Christ make this an attractive idea especially to people who disliked JPII's style, his rallies, World Youth Day, appeal to the young, etc. There is a feeling among some that now is a good time to play off old scores - they recall wincing at crowd scenes where Pope John Paul beat time to music along with teenagers, and they now sense a gleeful opportunity to tarnish his memory by emphasising that he liked and trusted the Legionaries, whose founder turns out to be an evil-doer and a fraud.

This is no time for such politics: the issue is not JPII's liturgical style, or the pleasure of trying to denounce his legacy. (It's also futile: this was a great man who inspired the Church and brought the message of Christ alive for millions).

The issue that is at the heart of all this media frenzy is still that of the evil acts of priests who abused children, and the need for the Church to be seen to be open and heartfelt in ensuring that such deeds will not be covered up. Pope Benedict will have us all with him if he announces a Church-wide act of sorrow and repentance...

It's essential to be well informed, and to get the full information as far as possible.

But make no mistake: among those who are currently pushing the attack on Papa B. are those, both inside and outside the Church, who now genuinely believe they can crush the Church's moral authority and render the voice of the succcessor of St Peter useless for decades to come. There's a shrill glee about this, and there's an evil in it which can only be stopped by prayer...

Friday, April 09, 2010

A round...

...of family visits over Easter. Church bells pealing in Oxfordshire as a wide smooth river flows between grassy banks where bright daffodils and pale primroses welcome the walkers enjoying the Easter break. Wobbly-legged lambs in Somerset meadows. Chocolate eggs and simnel cake and much family talk around a beautifully-laid table, four generations together.

I watched the Holy Father on TV on Easter morning. It was raining in Rome and he had been given a small, rather ugly chasuble and a little messy lacey collar round the stole - somehow it all looked bleak. People cheered and the crowds seemed undiminished by recent events, waving from beneath umbrellas. But they were not helped by the intervention of a formal Cardinalate speech before the start of the Easter Mass, offering the H. Father support in the face of recent "gossip". This really will not do: people are shocked and sickened by revelations of clergy abuse, and the Holy Father is at one with them in this, and has been the leader in seeking to rid the Church of what he has aptly named as "filth" - it is just all wrong for a formal Church spokesman to appear to be brushing the whole subject aside as "gossip". The Church must be seen to be open, truthful, humble and capable. Plenty to pray about this Eastertide...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Late on Good Friday...

...having spent a solemn day, I'm signing off for a family time starting from tomorrow. I'll be back, of course. Easter message can be read here.

Just seen...

...the crass remarks made by the preacher at St Peter's on Good Friday,quoting from a letter likening the current campaign against the Pope to anti-semitism. This is ridiculous and gross and will make an already bad situation infinitely worse. It hurts and offends Jewish people, who have actual memories of the murder of family and friends. Frankly, I think the preacher needs to be sacked.

What is happening to the Church is horrendous and wrong, but to link it with people who were actually slaughtered in concentration camps is just ridiculous, and it takes this whole ghastly mess deeper into a mire...

The next move... for it...will be to attack Pope John Paul. It's already started, and the new lie will be to re-invent him as the big figure who covered up sexual abuse, creating a myth like that of Pius XII and World War II. These things are hard to dislodge once started. The difference with JPII is that he has people within the Church - claiming to be traditionalists - who simply loathe him and will try to help foist this new image on him for all sorts of reasons, while pretending to be helping Papa Benedict.

Don't be fooled.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Youth leads the fightback... here to view university students thanking the Pope for his five years service......and bishops are speaking up...