Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wed Jan 31st


For some weeks I have had a rather painful foot, and suddenly in these last few days and nights it has become much worse, so today I finally made a medical appointment to get it sorted out. With a busy day planned, I was able to get a late appointment - 8pm. Hobbled off to see a friend, J, who has just had a new baby: it was bliss to sit in a rocking-chair at her house, foot propped up on a stool, with the delicious, tiny, warm, enchanting little baby girl in my arms as we chatted and caught up on news and views. There are two delightful little boys - very happy and proud of their baby sister - and one helped to open the present that I had brought, a patchwork cot-quilt ( love doing patchwork - v. satisfying to watch it grow and to match up colours, and it is easy to carry about and do on train journeys ) It was with great reluctance that I left, to hobble off in the evening twilight.....

On to Westminster Cathedral Hall, which was packed for the launch of a new DVD and booklet, produced jointly by the Catholic Truth Society and Luton Good Counsel: The Joy of God's Plan, on the Church's teaching on marriage and fertility. Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark spoke, and on a large screen they showed extracts from the DVD: it is all high-quality, and very attractive. This is going to be of huge value to marriage-preparation groups and is something that will change the focus and approach of the Church's work in this area in Britain. Go to to get more information.....

At this gathering, I was due to meet a lady from Aid to the Church in Need, visiting from another European country's ACN office, but it was not possible to find her in the crowd, and as I had my medical appointment I had to hobble off again, leaving messages for her. Most unsatisfactory. Feeling v. uncomfortable about this, I made my way to the station and thence to have my foot the time I got there it was feeling very odd indeed. It turns out that there has indeed been something wrong, and all my own fault because of wearing ill-shaped boots ("you see the bones have been forced in opposite's really a bit like a form of deliberate torture." Gulp.) Am now at home and bandaged.


Lots and lots of comments to this blog - not all of which I have published. I don't mind people being offensive about me, but from now on I won't publish material that is gross, or insults the Church, the Holy Father, or priests in general. Wise advice from a priest, a fellow-blogger, who said that if really vile stuff gets sent in "Delete it at once, say a Hail Mary, and move on to the next task". I shall do that. I will also not publish stuff that is rambling, too confused, or simply reveals some one's personal difficulties and is not really appropriate for general reading.

Can't resist commenting on the person who wrote in noting that I probably have homosexual friends, colleagues, acquaintances. Well of course I do! All of us have friends of all sorts and I certainly don't check people's moral or social or physical or mental or spiritual status before I engage in normal friendly convivilialty with them. Do you? Er....and do you expect that everyone will share your religious or other convictions? Golly, I don't. I know perfectly well that lots and lots of people disagree with me, particularly on religious issues.

Meanwhile Melanie Phillips has an excellent article in today's Daily Mail: "Same-sex couples are not hurt by Christians choosing not to place children with them any more than, say, a Conservative Party activist would be hurt by a Labour MP who chose not to hire him as a spin-doctor.

"It is not gays who will be hurt by these regulations but Christians, who will be forcibly prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs...

"....This is but the latest move against religion by a culture which believes that only secularism provides freedom. This is a big mistake.

"Our liberal values arise from our Judeo-Christian tradition. Eradicate that, and you will destroy not only individual freedom but also the civil society formed by the diverse institutions it creates, to be replaced instead by repression, uniformity and intolerance.

"If the Catholic adoption charities are forced to pull down the shutters, it will also be liberal Britain that turns out the lights."
Wed Jan 31st


A comment to this blog (which I haven't published, as it was rather muddled) claims that if one tries to affirm traditional Catholic teaching on homosexuality, some one is bound to be able to say "Well, the Pope doesn't agree with you!" or "The New Catechism doesn't agree with y0u!" Uh? The Pope most certainly DOES affirm traditional Catholic teaching, and did so again just this week, in a clear-cut statement against same-sex "marriage" in an important speech to the Roman Rota, the Church's highest marriage tribunal. It is not the first, or the second, or the third, time he has spoken out, with great seriousness and with marked publicity, on this subject, and as events unfold across the various countries of once-Christian Europe, I daresay he will speak out again.

And the Catechism speaks with an extremely clear voice on this subject too: much clearer in fact than the old "Penny Catechism" which referred to the subject with Biblical quotations, in language that was clear to those who understood the relevant word, but otherwise covered with a certain discreet Biblical allusion. It was possible - although dishonest and totally wrong - to claim that the "Penny Catechism" - based on the Catechism of the Council of Trent - didn't actually teach that all homosexual activity was sinful, as the relevant Old Testament words could be interpreted to mean something else. The new Catechism, however, while also referring to Scripture, devotes a whole section to the subject with an explicit and detailed analysis, allowing of no ambiguity whatsoever, and stressing that the homosexual inclination is in itself disordered (something largely omitted in previous materials aimed at the ordinary Christian, probably because it simply didn't need to be said as the subject was not one for common debate) and giving the reasons why homosexual activity is contrary to God's plan for the human race. It also offers a pastoral approach which emphasises the value of each human being and the need for sensitivity and respect towards everyone.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday Jan 30th


To a Board meeting of ACN at Brompton Oratory. As always, lots to 12 noon, we always stop and say the Angelus. The Oratory's bell rings out across South Kensington in a most reassuring way, and calls us to prayer. It was Sir John Biggs-Davison MP, a member of the ACN Board over twenty years ago, who first got us responding to the bell's call, and we have never omitted the prayer since....and always remember him.....

Each diocese now has a representative of ACN who visits parishes to speak about the work and appeal for funds: the needs just continue to rise as there are projects in the Middle East where the Christian community is so hard-pressed, and the vast new openings in China, and continuing work in the former Soviet Union's distant regions where there are small Catholic communities.....ACN is the only Catholic charity specifically committed to funding the pastoral needs of Catholics who are oppressed and struggling, and its track record goes right back to the bitterest days of Stalin's persecutions in Eastern Europe, and to the ruined cities of Germany and displaced people struggling to make homes in bombed-out cities.....
Tuesday Jan 30th
On Saturday evening we went to a wonderful performance of "The Pirates of Penzance" at Richmond's Orange Tree theatre. This was a delightful evening, organised by friends, with a buffet supper at their house beforehand, and delicious cakes and puddings afterwards....and the G and S was simply splendid, very cleverly done and with some extra verses added to the Major-General song to refer to current events, and a wonderful slick ending with some glorious punning on Shakespeare and....oh, just a very authentic Gilbert and Sullivan carried out in modern dress and with a fast pace and magnificent singing. Hugely enjoyable.

Home late, and then I was up early on Sunday morning to get to London from where I was catching a coach to Preston. Dropped in to the Cathedral first: I happened to meet Fr Mark Langham, the administrator, and we had a brief chat. He has always been v. helpful re the "Towards Advent" Festival every Autumn and makes things efficient and pleasant for us.....of course we spoke of the events of this past week, with the Cardinal in the headlines....."tell him he's got lots of's just so horribly wrong that a Govt tries to force a Church to act against Church teaching" I said, and hoped that others would be expressing this solidarity too.

To Preston, after a long coach journey during which I completed a patchwork quilt I have been making for a friend's new baby. I used to get horribly ill on coaches, but things have improved and the newer coaches are sooooo much smoother and seem to have quite a different feel, and one can read or sew and not feel sick at all. I don't know Preston well, but St Walburga's is easy to find because of its immensly tall spire (third tallest in England? Or so I have been told). Its presbytery now houses a small community of Fanciscan Friars, who have been given the care of the spiritual needs of Catholics at the University of Central Lancashire.

Mass in the small house-chapel, then a chicken-curry fork supper, and chairs drawn up for people to listen to my talk on "Celebrating traditional feasts and seasons". It was a cheery evening, and I enjoyed the company of the students - an international group, with some from India and some from Barbados. Fr Mark, the Guardian of the Franciscans, beamed and seemed v. happy. Taking on the chaplaincy is a big challenge, as the University is in a sense a far-flung organisation, with many students living some distance out of the town, and many on part-time courses, and considerable difficulties to be faced in trying to establish contact with the Catholics among them and communicate the message that there is a Chaplaincy there for them, a centre for evangelisation and faith.....

I stayed the night with kind relations who live in Preston - a warm welcome and a comfortable time of catching up with news, then the next morning a good breakfast and sandwiches for the journey home.....
Tuesday Jan 30th

A busy few days, and I was just settling nicely at the computer this evening, with Jamie at his nearby, enjoying his mug of tea and with his favourite music playing, and everything feeling cosy and getting-on-with-things, when the doorbell rang. We wanted some peace and quiet. V. depressing headlines in the press today:"Catholics defeated on opt-out...." Irritated, I got up rather grumpily to answer the door....

And there was the dear little girl from next door, in a new white dress with ruffles, holding, with great care, a parcel wrapped in silver foil.

"It's my mummy and daddy's wedding anniversary, and we've been having a party, and this is some cake for you."

And inside there was a large and generous wedge of a most delicious light sponge cake, newly-baked and topped with lovely crumbly frosting.

They are an Indian family - wonderful neighbours, with delightful children. They are very devout Christians, When they moved in a year or so ago, they held a little service with prayers and enthusiastic hymns.

Suddenly, this evening seems cheerier and happier. I hugged the little girl, and called out congratulations to her mother, who had come out to see the cake safely handed over, and there was one of those moments of pure sanity and joy in a tiresome and annoying world....and the child skipped happily about, and we told her that being married and having a family is one of the most wonderful and happy things....and now J. and I are enjoying the cake, with a couple of slices saved for tomorrow.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


A Comment to this Blog asks where people can buy my book for girls (it's for ages 9 and up). The answer is that you can get it via Amazon(it is published by GRACEWING BOOKS) or (better!!) directly from me. Send a cheque for £7.95p or US$20 to me: c/o 34 Barnard Gardens New Malden Surrey KT3 6QG England. Make the cheque out to Mrs J.Bogle. (I'll send the American ones by surface mail, so if you want the book more quickly, send me an extra $5 and it will go by airmail).

Also: the nice letter from Miles Jesu who asked me about bicycles - I'm longing to reply to you - but unless you give me an email address, I can't!!!

PLEASE NOTE: comments to this blog automatically cut out your email address unless you include it in the main body of what you are writing. I HAVE NO MEANS OF CONTACTING YOU UNLESS YOU SPECIFICALLY SEND ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

NOTE to anguished people who have sent in Comments to this blog because they "just cannot understand" why the Catholic Church teaches that two men cannot marry : a lot of people can help you, but this blog cannot adequately do so. Start with Pope John Paul's "Theology of the Body" and the "Catechism of the Catholic Church - and be open to the possibility that the Church does have the answers to your questions.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I am mildly addicted to keeping up with news of the Holy Father and events in the Church - tap "Catholic Benedict Pope" into Google and find out the latest news from Rome. Also, by tapping "Papa Ratzinger Forum" into Google, one can get all sorts of lovely pix of the H. Father - baptising babies in the Sistine Chapel, and chatting to people in St Peter's Square, and blessing people, and hugging children and meeting all sorts of ambassadors (and their wives, all gratfyingly clad in mantillas) in large marbly rooms in the Vatican. Not sure why I need this - I think it's just vaguely reassuring.

Now that the plumber has completed his ministrations here at home we need to think about the kitchen floor, which needs to be redone and the (rather old) lino-tiles are gently rising from their places and tripping us up as we enter and leave. Big discussion as prospect of new-look kitchen v. pleasing.
Sat Jan 27th


Cycled to Mother's yesterday evening: it's always so nice to arrive to a warm welcome, glass of sherry, comfortable catching-up on news. We always watch a film together, and this time it was
"Damien of Molokai", MUCH recommended - the story of the hero priest who went to serve the lepers exiled to lives of squalour and misery in Hawaii. I bought the DVD from the CTS bookshop in Westminster Cathedral Piazza. It's immensely powerful - sound of the surf pounding on the beach, and the wind roaring, Damian saying Mass and restoring a disused church, tending to the needs of the hideously wounded people, sucking on his pipe so as to mask the dreadful stench of their sores, holding a dying man in his arms, nagging the authorities for a proper fresh water suppply and for decent food and clothes for the orphaned children.....The story is incredibly inspiring.

Cycled back home this morning, still thinking about Fr Damian and how one ought to do things that are large and generous and noble, and not waste any time. Cycling through local park, fresh early-morning feel, a nice family stood back to let me pass and I sailed happily on, just catching the young mother saying "Don't bother to say thank-you, or anything...." and realised I looked dreadfully rude.....too late to stop and cycle all the way back and apologise and make a point of it.....cycled on feeling suddenly horrid. Oh dear.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fiday Jan 26th

ODD LOT.....

Golly, some readers of this blog are an odd lot. Some comments - which I have not published - have come in from people who seem to think we should emphatically do nothing to stop the Governmen forcing Catholic organisations to accept adoption of children by active homosexuals. Their reasoning? Apparently some Catholic adoptions over the years have been less than satisfactory and some bishops have allowed this or remained wilfully ignorant of it (eg adoption by single people who might have homosexual tendencies, or to divorced-remarried people). that makes it acceptable for the Government to force us to accept homosexual adoptions? By this reckoning, Thomas More should have accepted Henry V111's divorce and remarriage on the grounds that there were hideous immoralities among the clergy, and therefore the KIng's attempts to force the Church into submission were acceptable.

I just don't get some of these people. Two or three have written to me with apparent glee noting where Bishops and Cardinals have got things wrong, or pursued policies that have not upheld the Church's moral teachings. (They've omitted our first Pope, who denied the Lord three times....but they focus on more recent activities). They are doubtless glad that the Government's spokesmen, and others who want to curtail the Church's mission, have been making equally gleeful use of this material....and indeed of the fact that it has now been revealed in the recent past children in the care of various Catholic children's societies were abused, sent to Australia in mass emigration schemes of dubious value, etc etc. But I still don't see why that means we have to accept homosexual adoption.

Spent today doing media debates about the Govt's plans. Whatever the Bishops finally decide I feel they have at least put up a fight, and certainly most people in Britain have now learned that the Catholic Church does not accept "gay marriage". Even if lots of people feel they ought to regard that position as bigoted, cruel, homophobic, or whatever, they do at least know it is where the Church officially stands. I suspect that quite a lot do respect the Church for its stand, even though they have to say publicly that they deplore it because it is cruel, oppressive, unjust etc etc......

Personally, I hope the Bishops stick to their guns, and close down the adoption socities rather than accept - even on paper and with private reservations that they will not implement them - the Government's new rules. It is heartbreaking to think that there will be no official and formal way a Catholic mother can seek a specifically Catholic family for the adoption of her child. But there are ways to help achieve it through links with other adoption societies, and it would be better to do this than have official Church institutions legally committed to accepting immoral lifestyles....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Jan 25th
Waterloo East is a rather confusing station - it serves all of South East London and its suburbs, and the routes down to the Kent coast, and it doesn't have one main concourse, so one goes to what one hopes is the right platform, and it's a trudge back again to get information if it isn' which time the train may have been and gone.....

I felt a slight sense of victory, therefore, when after irritations and complications ("there's a stray dog on the line" we were told at one point) I finally arrived at Mottingham station and thence after longish walk to a United Reformed Church in Eltham to speak to a the Civil Service Retirement Association......topic:"Traditional feasts and seasons".....people always enjoy hearing about the origins of our festivals, and they specially like whimsical information such as St Martin being depicted with a half-cloak in statues or stained glass, and ladybirds and marigolds being named after Mary, and why Christmas is really 40 days long and ends at Candlemas.....

I am happy to give lots and lots of these talks. Your local church group/women's organisation/lunch club/youth group/Confirmation class, Rotary/Catenian dinner???? Send a comment to this blog with EMAIL ADDRESS WHERE I CAN REACH YOU....

Came home to find latest material from Aid to the Church in Need in the post: this excellent charity is helping some people in various parts of the world whose plights is desperate. I was speaking the other evening to ACN's John Pontifex - he is active in the Catholic Writers' Guild and sits on its committee - who had just come back from the Holy Land. Christians there badly need our help. The Christian community in Iraq, now fleeing from Baghdad, is in desperate need too: people have left homes, belomngings, jobs, schools, and have nothing, are living as refugees..... And there is ongoing work in China, where the Church is at a crucial stage of history, and funds can help to provide neccesities.....donations can be sent to ACN at 1 Times Square, SUTTON Surrey SM1: why not invite John or some one from the ACN team to come and speak at your parish? Or your local Catholic school?

Also the latest - and very interesting - Family Bulletin from Family and Youth Concern, which not only looks at this vexed question of the Govt's plans to force everyone to accept the new politically-acceptable line on homosexual unions and lifestyle, but also explores other issues....are you comfortable with the planned database containing personal information on every child in England? It's aimed at "early intervention" to prevent "poor outcomes" among children. Not to prevent abuse, or neglect, or cruelty, but "poor outcomes", however defined by the political establishment.

Interview with Radio 5 Live re homosexuals adopting children:"But why is the Catholic Church denying the rights of children to live with loving gay or lesbian couples?" etc etc. I wish I found it easier to stay calm.
Thursday Jan 25th
Waterloo East is a rather confusing station - it serves all of South East London and its suburbs, and the routes down to the Kent coast, and it doesn't have one main concourse, so one goes to what one hopes is the right platform, and it's a trudge back again to get information if it isn' which time the train may have been and gone.....

I felt a slight sense of victory, therefore, when after irritations and complications ("there's a stray dog on the line" we were told at one point) I finally arrived at Mttingham station and thence after longish walk to a United Reformed Church in Eltham to speak to a the Civil Service Retirement Association......topic:"Traditional feasts and seasons".....people always enjoy hearing about the origins of our festivals,m and they specially like whimsical information such as St Martin being depicted with a half-cloack in statues or stained glass, and ladybirds and marigolds being named after Mary, and why Christmas is really 40 days long and ends at Candlemas.....

I am happy to fo lots and lots of these talks. Your local church group/women's organisation/lunch club/youth group/Confirmation class, Rotary/Catenian dinner???? Send a comment to this blog with EMAIL ADDRESS WHERE I CAN REACH YOU....

Came home to find latest material from Aid to the Church in Need in the post: this excellent charity is helping some people in various parts of the world whose plights is desperate. I was speaking the other evening to ACN's John Pontifex - he is active in the Catholic Writers' Guild and sits on its committee - who had just come back from the Holy Land. Christians there badly need our help. The Christian community in Iraq, now fleeing from Baghdad, is in desperate need too: people have left homes, belomngings, jobs, schools, and have nothing, are living as refugees..... And there is ongoing work in China, where the Church is at a crucial stage of history, and funds can help to provide neccesities.....donations can be sent to ACN at 1 Times Square, SUTTON Surrey SM1: why not invite John or some one from the ACN team to come and speak at your parish? Or your local Catholic school?

Also the latest - and very interesting - Family Bulletin from Family and Youth Concern, which not only looks at this vexed question of the Govt's plans to force everyone to accept the new politically-acceptable line on homosexual unions and lifestyle, but also explores other issues....are you comfortable with the planned database containing personal information on every child in England? It's aimed at "early intervention" to prevent "poor outcomes" among children. Not to prevent abuse, or neglect, or cruelty, but "poor outcomes", however defined by the political establishment.

Interview with Radio 5 Live re homosexuals adopting children:"But why is the Catholic Church denying the rights of children to live with loving gay or lesbian couples?" etc etc. I wish I found it easier to stay calm.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Here's a prediction: in ten years' time, or perhaps slightly less, there will be reports of the psychological damage done to children who have been adopted by homosexual and lesbian couples. Within twenty years, we will see the first legal cases mounted by people who were adopted this way as children and seek redress for the harm done to them.

Meanwhile, have any readers of this blog joined me in speaking out for the right of the Church to insist that in its official agencies, adoption of children is carried out only into families living according to the Christian traditions of marriage? Letters to MPs? To newspapers? Er....if you have remained silent, are you absolutely comfortable about that?

So far, comments to this blog haven't indicated much in the way of lively Catholic action on this point: one merely pointed out that an American bishop had already allowed "gay adoption" in his diocese. I am not sure what this is meant to prove. That British bishops should therefore follow suit? If fifty Cardinals in Rome announced that they could see no reason for opposing gay adoption, it would make no difference: the Church cannot and will not accept that two people of the same sex can be in any way regarded as "married" and it is not possible for the Church to sanction the adoption of children into a couple living in this way. Deo Gratias for our splendid Holy Father who has recently specifically spoken on the subject of "same sex marriage" and made the Church's position absolutely clear.

The position of Ruth Kelly, the Government minister at the heart of this row is odd: she is vigourously pushing the whole "no discrimination against same-sex couples" line. The media endlessly refer to her as a Catholic and a "member of Opus Dei" and if this is the case, I fear she may be one who values the traditions and structure and life of the Church but regards its teachings as for personal use only and not in any way related to public policy: not an approach that is in accord with the message of the Second Vatican Council, or Opus Dei, or any Encyclical dealing with Christian social and community values. (At least it dents the image of Opus Dei as a powerful network: I know a good many individuals in OD and not one would agree with Mrs Kelly's apparent position on this).

Yesterday evening - as part of the Christian Unity Octave - there was a special service of Monastic Vespers at Tyburn Convent in London. This stands near where the site of the Tyburn Gallows where so many Catholic martyrs met their deaths. It was a standard Vespers, led by the nuns - there are some twenty or more of them, living a community life of prayer here in the heart of London - and the preacher was the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Rt Rev Geoffrey Powell. He spoke well, referring to the Tyburn martyrs and also to the Protestants burned during the religious strife of that era.....there were prayers for unity and for mutual forgiveness an d healing etc.....the chapel was full, as was the Gallery where I was sitting. We sang Newman's "Praise to the Holiest", and the sisters chanted the psalms and antiphons.

Afterwards, we were welcomed to a buffet: the sisters are so sweet and smiling, all anxious for us to eat and meet.....there were several people there from the Catholic Union (of which Jamie is Chairman) and there was much talk of this new problem with the Govt's nasty "Sexual Orientation" regulations, about which I'd been debating on TV earlier.....when I got home later there was another message, from some Breakfast TV group wanting a further discussion......

It is extraordinary cycling through London from Tyburn after a moving service like that, aware of so much history. The night was crisp and cold, everything seemed sharply outlined. I sang "Jerusalem" as I sailed down past Green Park, round by the Palace (standard was up, Sovereign at home) and turned right along past Horseguards and St James' Park and into Parliament Square.

This morning, woken by that strange light which means snow: the garden and the road outside look enchanting. The TV people don't want me after all (DG) and I can settle to some work before a morning meeting in town: no cycling today and I've just been bringing in to the house the washing I hung out yesterday, all frozen and dusted with is steaming gently by the radiators.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday Jan 23rd


Our local plumber is called, rather endearingly, Mr Plumb, and his son is now also part of the business, so it's all very like Happy Families....they are an excellent team, and the son arrived today with bucket and ferocious plunger-thing with which he gloriously unblocked the sink (hooray!!) and then he turned his attention to the leak coming from the pipe that leads to the washing-machine, and he mended that too....and he went off looking very professional and cheery leaving much rejoicing here at Bogle Towers......his fee was exactly the amount I get for one feature article in a Catholic paper, which seems fair.


With washing whizzing away satisfyingly in the machine, and domestic efficiency restored generally, I hurried off on my bike on errands to the bank and Post Office and shops....and on my return was just thawing out and contemplating a quiet day of solid work at the computer when the phone went....SKY News...would I debate with Peter Tatchell (leading homosexual-rights lobbyist) about "gay adoption" and the position of the Catholic Church? No, I said. Mr Tatchell says horrible things about the Church and I can't see anything useful in a dialgue with him. I might be prepared to talk separately.

They phoned back: yes, that seemed a better plan. But could I come now? Due on air at 12.30 pm. Grabbed various papers on which I was working (plus copy of National Catholic Register, just arrived, to read on the train) and hurtled off on bike to local station. Train to London. Cycle ride across Westminster Bridge, arriving TV studios at Millbank on time, having said heartfelt if somewhat incoherent Rosary en route.

Make up done by expert lady before I faced the camera: made vast improvement to face.... why don't I do this more often? Faintly wished I had changed from my comfortable navy-blue guernsey with darns on the elbows but too late now....into studio.

Hope it was all right: made the point that Catholic adoption agencies exist to help people who cannot care for their own babies but who desperately want them adopted into families who share their Catholic Faith and will bring the child up in the Church. Homosexual couple openly opposing Catholic teaching by their way of life cannot possibly do this. It is extremely cruel to ban the Church from running an adoption service which serves the needs of Catholics.

I was involved with one lady, with a very troubled and tragic life, whose little girl was adopted by a loving and kindly meant so much to this lady that her daughter would be taken to Mass and encouraged to live as a Catholic and honour the Church's teachings. She would have been utterly devastated if she had been told that, in theory at least, the Catholic charity would have, as a matter of law, to consider two lesbians adopting the child.....

I also stressed that the Catholic Church's teaching on this is part of the whole Christian tradition in our country, which has served us well and is in no way an innovation: this understanding of marriage and family, of man and woman, is the bedrock of our common life and we have every right to continue upholding it.

Mr Tatchell had been on earlier, denouncing the Church and saying that the whole Catholic approach was based on one verse in the Bible which also banned shellfish...oh, you know the sort of rubbish. He says the most horrible things about Catholics and no one ever seems to suggest that he is being offensive or insulting......

At one point when asked what the Church might do next I pointed out that we've got a fairly grisly history in Britain....Catholicism banned, Catholics even languishing in the Tower of London and being slaughtered on the gallows the idea of the Church being banned and restricted isn't new.....but on this particular issue we are simply saying something which is common to all Christians and is a matter of justice.

Monday, January 22, 2007


The Association of Catholic Women will be holding its annual DAY OF RECOLLECTION on Saturday February 24th at St James' Church, Spanish Place London W1 (nearest tube: Baker Street). This is always a day of inspiration and a time to think about the things that really matter as Lent begins: having the beautiful church of St James - soaring arches, peaceful atmosphere, sense of timelessness - at our disposal helps a good deal, and we have inspiring talks, time for prayer, and Mass and Benediction. All welcome - bring a packed lunch, tea and home-made cake provided......

In Holy Week a group of us come thank our priests as they gather for the annual CHRISM Westminster Cathedral this is on the Tuesday of Holy Week and at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, it is on the morning of Maundy Thursday. This all began as an initiative of Mulier Fortis who leads the group at St George's in Southwark, and this year ladies from the Westminster diocese want to affirm their thanks, too......

If you want to join us on either occasion, send a message to this Blog WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS AT WHICH I CAN CONTACT YOU.

For those who don't know: the Chrism Mass is the one at which the holy oils which will be used during the year (to anoint babies at baptism, and candidates for Confirmation, and the sick) are blessed and distributed, emphasising the common bonds which unite all priests with their Bishop and with Rome.

We hand out holy cards which carry a prayer and a message of thanks to our priests, and we have a big placard which announces our thanks, which they can see as they walk in procession to the Cathedral. It's always a joy that young families come to join us - the children like to see their own parish priest and give a wave to "Farver" as he goes by, and are usually quite impressed impressed by the procession with bishops and croziers and candles and so on.....

All this began because a few years ago we heard that tiresome campaigners were turning up with a banner demanding that women be ordained, and we felt it was all wrong that on this holy day they should be spoiling a sacred rite by idiotic (and frankly, to many of us, deeply offensive) campaigning. So things got moving....and since the numbers and style involved in our efforts are...well....greater and fresher and more youthful than those of the priestess-campaigners generally, and with a genuine positive note and so's all grown and flourished and we believe it's really important and worthwhile. We are touched to see that our holy cards are always well-recieved: a good deal of thought and care goes into the design each year. For more info, go to the blog of Mulier Fortis: I've given you the link above.

And if nothing like this is happening in your diocese, have you considered launching it? Contact me for ideas and information.....

It is crazy, of course, to be having a meeting about an Autumn event in January but....mark the date in your diaries now...........Saturday November 3rd will be the 2007 "Towards Advent" Festival of Catholic Culture at Westminster Cathedral Hall. Committee meeting this morning in the agreeable surroundings of a coffee-shop just off London's Victoria Street. Over coffee and sandwiches we talked over the 2006 success (largest crowds ever! Happy atmosphere, stallholders kept busy all day, talks well-attended) and mapped out plans for 2007. Since the event was launched in 2000, it has grown in size and stature - with grateful thanks to the team at the Catholic Truth Society who did so much of the administration in the early years, and to the Catenians who have taken on burdens in more recent times.



I take this opportunity to record thanks to Hilary Sutton, our wonderful Chairman for several years, whose sudden death just after Christmas was a tragic loss, not only for his family but also for his many friends. He was a generous and warm-hearted man who gave enthusiastically of his time and skills - he was involved in many, many good projects through the Catenians and he is most terribly missed. His cheerful and genial cchairmanship made meetings fun, and we hope to carry on in the same spirit in tribute to him. He was honestly one of those Catholics whose worth and integrity do more to show the fullness of the Faith than many a writer or preacher. May he rest in peace......

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Jan 21st


At last, a fresh cold day with lovely winter sunshine. Cycled to Sutton to return book to library - they have a box where you can drop it in when the library is closed. Back for Mass where I was only just about in time and slid into a pew where a nice girl shared her hymn-book with me. The 11.30 in our parish has all the sung parts in Latin with a rousing Credo and Pater Noster led by the choir.

In today's Mail on Sunday (not a paper I usually read, but I bought a copy to see what it was like) the splendid Peter Hitchens urges everyone simply to get rid of their television sets. The mindless,vulgar and inane rubbish that pours out most of the time is depriving millions of the power of normal commonsense thought and speech, to say nothing of reducing their capacity to read.(All this sparked, of course, by the "Big Brother" debacle....the horrible programme has actually threatened our relationship with India....)

Well, I've been grateful for TV at various times and of course I have used it often enough: as readers of this blog will know, I've taken part in TV debates on issues ranging from the Holy Father's Regensburg speech to the future of Church schools. But....we don't have a TV and I don't want one.

I once sat on a (charity) committee where the ladies had to organise things around watching the Wimbledon tennis on TV, and where any suggestion for an evening committee was met by squeaks of "Oh, but that's my night for..." "ooooh, do you watch that? Well, my favourite is...." I was one of the few women with a full-time job and they all regarded themselves as frightfully busy.

"How do you cope without a TV?" "What do you do all evening?" We talk, read, write things, deal with letters, enjoy music, have friends round. We go to talks and concerts and meetings , visit friends. We go for evening walks. We make buttered toast and have mugs of chocolate (winter) or barbeque sausages and sit by lantern light in the garden drinking wine (summer). We use the Internet and the radio and (very occasionally) watch a DVD on a TV monitor which isn't connected to a TV set. (This involves reorganising the furniture and setting the thing up specially as we have no nproper space for it).

I grew up with TV, watched a lot in my teens, and know very well that it has its part in family life. I remember with huge pleasure the children's TV programmes that were part of a happy suburban childhood and often full of good things (messy recipe for Blue Peter chocolate-biscuit cake was a favourite for years...). But with the invention of video and DVD, with radios and computers and IPODS, do we really all have to have our lives programmed by TV operators and their agenda? Isn't it time to move on?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Next week I start a new series of talks in schools. We run "journalism workshops" on behalf of TAMEZIN magazine (excellent magazine for girls, offering writing opportunities for young people who want to get into print). It is great fun, the magazine is good, and we are now inviting entries for the Tamezin Young Journalist award, with a top prize of £300 and a week's work with a media for more information.....

If you are sick of the gross and inane rubbish that fills most magazines aimed at teenage girls, you simply MUST try Tamezin. Find out more by contacting them and take out a subscription. The latest issue is particularly good (and if you look in the very, very small print, you will see my name among "workshop team").

....about Pope John Paul. Made in America, it stars John Voight and has had v. good reviews, and we are blocked from seeing it in Britain. I tried to order a copy from Ignatius Press in America and they couldn't let me have one....the only version they have is available in the USA and can't be viewed on a British DVD machine.

When I mentioned this, I was given information by various kind correspondents about getting my DVD machine sorted out so that it can become "multi-region" and useful for DVDs from around the globe. I might manage to do this (though actually it is NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT SOUNDS) but that is not the point. Rather than alter all our DVD machines one by one, and tell people to try to order this particular film from contacts in the USA, couldn't we simply arrange for some one here to get the selling rights and sell it in the ordinary way? Er...isn't that the usual way that commerce operates? I mean, when I want Belgian chocolates I don't have to post an international money order in Euros to a friend in Brussels. I go to a shop here and buy a box from a large supply that Mr Tesco or Mr Sainsbury has thoughtfully ordered in bulk from Belgium.

Is there any special reason - and here I am not being sarcastic, I genuinely want to know - why no Catholic sales outlet here in Britain has tried to import this new film? Do they really think a film about JP11 wouldn't sell among Catholics?

The local library has come up with one of the Ratzinger books I ordered ages ago....obtained on an inter-library loan.

Are YOU HELPING with the campaign to get more access to the works of Ratzinger via your local library?

If you aren't, then you are simply part of the problem. It's fairly difficult to obtain Cardinal Ratzinger's works at an ordinary local library in Britain. BUT YOU COULD HELP TO MAKE IT MUCH EASIER by simply going in and ordering a couple of them. Ask for "A New Song for the Lord" or "Truth and Tolerance" or "Called to Communion."

You could also ask for Peter Sewald's "God and the World" and "Salt of the Earth", which are both immensely readable paperbacks that take the form of interviews with the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

All of these books are published by Ignatius Press, USA, and available from Family Publications, King Street. Jericho, Oxford. But the point is that we can't all afford to buy the books we want, which is why we have a public library system in Britain. For the price of £1.50p (or nothing, if you are a pensioner, or a full-time student) you can specifically request any book. If it is relatively obscure, they may obtain it on an inter-library loan. But if it is a reasonably popular book, they will buy a copy and it will be placed permanently on the shelves.

Get the idea? Good. Then please join in.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Yesterday evening, while Britain was reeling from huge blustery gales, trees falling across railway lines, Channel shipping disrupted, airports closed etc etc, we were enjoying a splendid 50th birthday party of a friend, celebrated in style at Brompton Oratory............ There was a Mass first, in the Little Oratory (v. charming, the private chapel of the Oratory Fathers, also v. popular for weddings) with glorious music by the famous Oratory Choir. Then a very jolly party with delicious food and drink, and the chance to meet lots of friends - including many who read this blog. This makes me feel a little odd because I had thought that the point about blogging was that one was reaching out there to millions of strangers and it was like writing for some vast international newspaper - but it is not that way at all, a blog seems mostly to be read by one's friends and acquaintances!

A while back when describing a social event I found my style was beginning to sound like that of "Jennifer's Diary" in the "Tatler" in the days when it was all full of deb-dances and county weddings so I decided to stop. But really this was an extremely good party, and our host gave his many friends a great deal of pleasure. Worth quoting - and I won't be the only person quoting this over the next weeks and months - is the splendid finale to his speech, listing the three sounds he hoped he would hear for the rest of his days:"The sound of hounds on a crisp Autumn morning, the sound of the Oratory Choir, and the sound of champagne corks popping......".

We walked back to the Tube with Fr Nicholas Schofield and Father Jason Jones who is parish priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper in Wales. I visited this shrine back in the 1970s and loved it - Our Lady has the Christ-child on her lap and He carries a lighted taper...the shrine was revived in the late 20th century after being destroyed under Henry V111 and there are now pilgrimages and processions and a thriving parish. In the children's catechism class, the majority have Welsh as their first language, and Fr says Mass a couple of times a month in Welsh. As we walked along, I made him say the "Hail Mary" in the language and it sounded lovely.....he has invited me to the parish to speak and yes, YES, please I do want very much to go.....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Jan 18th

Last night an excellent meeting of The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild. We meet at St Mary Moorfields - a beatifull, almost hidden church - nearest tube is Moorgate or Liverpool Street. The church's history goes right back to the days when Catholicism was forbidden in England - it lies technically just outside the boundaries of the City of London. It is now extremely popular for lunchtime Masses on weekdays - lots of young people attend.

Speaker was Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, and now founder and chairman of the Social Justice unit....he spoke powerfully about their latest report, which shows how the breakdown of the family unit based on marriage is at the heart of so many social woes. The statistics are relevant: very high break-up rate of cohabiting couples within 3-5 years of starting a relationship, many children never have any sort of father-figure, etc etc. Where there is no proper home life, truanting from school also becomes a problem - the street becomes the children's home and the place wehere bonds arte forged and idenmtity affirmed.

Iain also spoke about how various local groups - notably those run by Evangelical Christians - are making a difference to people's lives, especially on some of the big dreary housing estates where drug-addiction and crime are rife. It was challenging stuff: one of the main things to emerge was that the offer of Governemtn funding can often be a killer to useful initiatives - they get stifled by paperwork and/or by the obligations of meeting "targets" or of feeling obliged to operate under a code of politically-correct jargon which bears no relation to the real needs of the community of which they are a part and the people they seek to serve.

Lots of lively questions and good discussion. Iain is a good speaker and conveys a sense of dedication and realism. His style still owes something to his years of soldiering (Scots Guards - served in N. Ireland etc).

Our meetings always start with Mass, sais by our chaplain Fr Peter Newby, then drinks and dinner - I sat opposite Iain and alongside were Jeremy de Satge who runs The Music Makers which is helping to build up the revival of good music in Catholic parishes, and there was Annabel Spencer-Silver of St Paul publishing, and William Griffiths who among other things runs the Confraternity of St James (pilgrimages to Compostella etc), and in the centre was the current Master of the Guild, Sean O'Connor who is doing an excellent job. We have our annual meeting next week: it's always near the feast of St Francis de Sales, our Patron.

William Griffiths raised perhaps the most unusual question of the evening: the Belgium section of the Confraternity of St James has been involved with a project in which young convicted criminals are given the option of walking the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago in place of a custodial sentence......might this work for Britain too? The notion goes back to Medieval times.....well, it's an intriguing one, isn't it? Apparently it involves quite a lot of they have to ensure that the youngsters don't abscond? How on earth is this all policed? I would love to know more. Iain said, well, it was worth exploring....but one would have to ensure that the pilgrims didn't, on arrival, decide that the statue of St James might be worth stealing.....


All right, I've more or less got the idea about links on a blog. Look, I got it right, above, with St Mary Moorfields!! (Am v. excited, cavorted about the room feeling v. pleased w. myself). But what about a website that doesn't show the htmlwww.thingummy - I mean the set of letters and numbers and things? Sometimes on my computer the website itself fills the whole page, as it were, with no little html note at the top. So I can't click on it and make a link.

Readers of this blog have been v. kind eg in the matter of explaining about how to deal withAmerican DVDs. Can a reader now help me with this?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wed Jan 17th
Yesterday afternoon a meeting of the "Choose Life" committee chaired by Lady Salisbury in Chelsea. This grew out of the fund-raising events she ran for the pro-life cause at Hatfield House a few years ago. Today a discussion about ways of marking the 40th anniversary (this Oct) of the 1967 Abortion Act. The Choose Life committee brings together people from various groups....there was much praise for the cards produced a while back by the Association of Catholic Women, for people to carry with them....these state categorically that in the event of admission to hospital "I would like my nursing care to include food and fluids, however administered". (You can obtain a card by contacting ACW - visit website or send SAE to 22 Surbiton Hill Park, Surbiton Surrey KT5)......These particular cards also affirm the holder's identity as a Roman Catholic and state that a priest should be called: this is because under new regulations, a priest cannot be called unless a person specifically requests it - eg if your elderly auntie goes into hospital too ill to speak or move, you can't say "I know she would love to have a priest" - apparently this would infringe her human rights.....

Cycled home across Westminster Bridge. Parliament looks so splendid illuminated against the dark sky on these rainy nights....but it has been the scene of so much poor legislation throughout my adult lifetime....

This morning off to speak to a meeting of the Townswomen's Guild in Croydon, then on to tea with a delightful nephew in London. Catholic Writers' Guild meeting this evening.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday Jan 15th

Get this.....
Get the Catholic Herald this week ( it comes out on Friday in newsagents etc, available in Catholic churches on Sunday). There is a news item which is the latest on a story I uncovered last year, and which has been buzzing ever since: the local Catholics in Chideock are fighting to save their Sunday Mass.....Chideock, the place of the Chideock martyrs....who were tortured and executed in 1594 for having Mass in the village. The local parish priest has announced he won't say a regular Sunday Mass there any more - the plan is that the people must drive into town for Mass there. Candlelit vigils, pleas to the bishop, all appear to have been in vain.....and there is a real loyalty to the Mass in this place and it seems tragic that the clergy won't listen to the families who are really keen to keep it all going.

Have you asked for books by Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict in your local library? It would be v. helpful if you did. I have been waiting weeks and weeks to get a couple of them them from Sutton Library, and I am sure I am now going to be told they are simply not available. IF MORE PEOPLE WENT TO ASK FOR THEM THIS WOULD CHANGE. You would love - really love - the latest book by Peter Sewald, which has glorious pictures, fascinating stories and background :"Pope Bnedict XV1: Servant of the Truth". If you ask for a book in any library (fill in a card, and perhaps pay something like £1.50p) they are duty-bound to seek it on an inter-library loan, obtain a copy somehow, do all they can. But if something turns out to be extremely obscure then of course it just isn't fair to expect libraries to get it. IS THAT THE WAY YOU WANT PUBLIC LIBRARIES TO VIEW OUR CHURCH AND POPE? Well, it's up to you.

The sink is blocked, so I bought some stuff to pour down it. Glorious fizzing noise and I got mildly worried as smoke (or steam? not sure Didn't get near enough to explore in detail) wafted up. Opened back door and planned quick getaway if things turned nasty. What happens if house explodes? Neighbours get hurt? Nothing happened. Fizzing subsided. Blockage remains. Waited a while as per instructions on packet then tried again. Same result. Packet said try no more than twice then call a plumber. Am out all day tomorrow so impossible for plumber to call. Sink thus blocked until Thursday. Am keeping everything clean by bailing it all out, using plastic washbowl etc etc but it's annoying. Water does seep down the drain eventually but v.v. slowly. Whatever can be jammed down there?

Exchange of emails with sister who lives at other end of the world, most reassurring, covering a lot of topics. Felt suddenly near. There are some things you can only discuss with a sister.

It has been pouring for much of the day. I love rain and as we are still technically in a drought (I think we are still banned from watering our gardens) it is good to have water being chucked generously down on us. But there is talk of flooding and we are in a Flood Alert District with cards posted through the doors a while back warning we must hurry out if the Thames overflows.....we must put things on high shelves, move precious things upstairs (!!) etc. What things count as precious? My wedding pictures, old doll Janet, books (but which to choose? AAAARGH!) , various scrapbooks....but what about embroidered sampler that took ages to make, Jamie's dear little christening mug, small crucifix given to me at Confirmation? Have we enough high shelves for all of that? And should one be boring and include crucial paperwork, info for HM taxes, etc? And what about passport...and, golly, computer???

Local historians say it has never flooded here, and certainly there are no records of any floods at all and all maps confirm: all fields and farmland for past several hundred years with local river, tributary of Thames, running same course throughout. Flood-plain is further down river and (until Embankment built in 19th century) bits of East London.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Jan 15th
Plans for the Catholic Women of the Year event for 2007 are now under way. Anyone can nominate a Catholic woman to be one of our Cath Women of the Year: we are looking for the "unsung heroines", women who are loyal to the Church and express this in real neighbourly service, in supporting or initiating some good work, in upholding Christian values in public life or in business or professional work.....just send a letter to the Chairman at 22 Milton Rd, WARE SG12 0PZ or email it to

You must give the nominated person's FULL NAME AND POSTAL ADDRESS (BTW, this only applies to the United KIngdom....sorry, American or Aussie reader, you will have to launch your own similar initiatives!) and a couple of paragraphs explaining the reason for the nomination. Please do not send a note to me saying "Why doesn't some one nominate so-and-so?" Just get on and do the nominating!!! If for some reason you don't want to write a letter, get some one else to do so.....

Excellent edition of FAITH magazine (subscriptions: contact - I particularly like William Oddie's piece about the Archbishop of Canterbury and Rome and women priests, and, as always Fr Richard Neuhaus writes crisply and amusingly on things American. He is especially good on the question of "Allegiance to God or country?" But don't take my word for it - go and get a copy. Londoners can get one by visiting the (excellent) CTS bookshop in Westminster Cathedral paizza (it's next to McDonalds!) or from the back of one of the big London churches such as St James', Spanish Place.....
Sunday Jan 14th
Wonderful concert at Westminster Cathedral Hall, given in aid of the work of Miles Jesu, new Catholic movement which runs all sorts of ventures from help for street-children in Russia to conferences and meetings explaining and teaching the Catholic Faith in Britain.

There was a happy atmosphere and the music a joy: young violinist Ruth Rogers and pianist Matthew Schellhorn. Some glorious Mozart, some Debussy and Franck (less enjoyable piece by a modern comoser called Wilson). Afterwards there was wine and a delicious buffet. Miles Jesu have some good material, including a DVD on the theme of "Vocation" which I intend to watch.....they also have booklets and a journal "Continuity" and a website The crowd could have been bigger at the concert, but it was a wonderful evening and a good start to their 2007 activities.

As I left, one of the helpers pressed some chocolate cakes on me (I have never been known to refuse choc cake) to take home. At Clapham Junction one of the routine can-you-give-me-some-money-for-a-place-to-stay types asked me for cash, and I told him truthfully that I didn't have any, but offerred him some cakes which he accepted. One is always in a quandary about people asking for money: I know a couple of the regulars on our train-route , and they know me, and they know that I invariably suggest that they go to The Passage (Carlisle Pl;ace, SW1 - near Westminster Cathedral) which not only offers accomodation and food but can help with sorting things out for the longer-term too.....though of course that's not always what they want.....on one occasion, when I had told a chap about The Passage, and written down its name etc for him, he moved on down the train, and another passenger, sitting opposite, said "What was the name of that place you mentioned? Here - give them this!" and handed me a £10 note! I was touched, and wrote to Sister Ellen at The Passage when I got home, telling the story and enclosing the money. She didn't find the story at all unusual: I rather got the impression that sort of thing happens quite often!

Spent a lot of time today messing about with my bike. As I was cycling down past Green Park the other evening, another cyclist shouted (rather rudely, I thought!) "Where are your f---ing lights?" I thought that the dynamo lights worked perfectly well, but evidently they don't, and on Friday a policeman, in the same district oddly enough, as I rounded that tricky bit in front of Buckingham Palace, stopped me and said much the same thing but in more polite language:"Are you aware that you have no lights whatever? You are risking a serious accident...." Hmmmm. Sorted through various cupboards at home, chucked out a lot of junk, found lights from old bike. How to fix them on? (Old fixtures lost with previous bike - stolen by unknown thief from oustide station last year).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Jan 14th
A couple of people have sent Comments to my Blog concerned that a priest working at the Vatican has published a book about Oscar Wilde. I honestly cannot see why they are bothered by this. Surely Wilde is a superb example of a man who found in the Catholic Church the peace and absolution that he so desperately needed as a penitent? Just the oither day I was reading to a small niece his lovely children's story about the giant and the wintry garden, and we were both very touched by it...I had bought the book at a Christian bookshop a couple of Christmasses ago and most warmly recommend it....

Thank you to all who have contacted me with information on how I can view American DVDs.....but I still desperately want to know how I can obtain a copyof the new one about Pope John Paul!!! How can I - or any other person in Britain - actually obtain it??

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sat Jan 13th 07

Catholic Women
Meeting yesterday of committee of Association of Catholic Women. We are extremely busy at the moment: raised a good sum of money towards the London-based Clinic for Children with Downs syndome, are launching our nationwide 2007 Religious Education Project for Catholic primary schools, have a Day of Recollection in London on February 24th at St James Church, Spanish Place (nearest tube: Baker Street. Starts 10.30 am, includes Mass, Stations of the Cross and the Rosary as well as inspiring talks. Bring a packed lunch). We decided to revive our tradition of pilgrimages and are making plans for one in the summer. Elderly and housebound ACW supporters who are unable to get to events easily can recieve the excellent OREMUS newsletter with news, topics for prayer etc (see website). Our Chairman wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair pointing out the errors and confusion in his (surely extraordinariuly arrogant??) call for the Catholic Church to change its moral teaching....Blair thinks that somehow giving people in Africa more condoms will stop the killer disease AIDS, when all the evidence points to the contrary: that the massive distruibution of the things has made things worse and the only project that is working is the encouragement of a chaste way of life with abstention outside of marriage and fidelity within....) The ACW website (see above) is running well, number of visitors soaring, and is full of useful material including information about our booklets, regular Review sent to all supporters, and more.....

We enjoyed a gentle laugh at the newsletter of fem-group "Women Word Spirit" (see yesterday's blog too) - my personal favourite in current issue is a bit of woffle which is claimed to have been spoken by an Indian Chief from America, but to which the WWS has had to add a note saying "exclusive language altered" before reprinting!! Dear ladies, if you want to use material which you claim is from an Indian Chief (incidentally, I'm not sure that it is? I've seen it elsewhere ascribed to a Buddhist monk) at least pay him the decency of transcribing it accurately. if you study the topic a bit, and check your facts, you might find that Indian Chiefs were not exactly into feminism.....

Among the alleged Indian Chief's wisdom: "This we know - the Earth does not belong to humans - humans belong to the Earth.....Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the children of the Earth...." I am not sure that Indians in America really believe that - certainly their proud heritage of battles and struggle both between themselves and against settlers does not bear it out - they have never seen themselves as simply "belonging to the Earth"and without free will to achieve anything, but as men and women with a far greater and nobler heritage.

Meanwhile, nearer at home, in this newsletterWWS members are given their Calendar with dates and events to note:"Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. All welcome at Mass for lesbian, gay, transgendered Catholics, their parents, families, andf friends. First and third Sunday every month at....."

Allow a brief moment for speculation about the Indian Chief's attitude towards lesbian, "transgendered" etc people.....

This Calendar (which also promotes the regular protest-vigils at Westminster Cathedral and St Mary's Cathedral EDinburgh organised by Catholic Women's Ordination) has no disclaimer, and the newsletter says it is "the voice of catholic women's network". Is this group still officially listed in the Catholic Directory?

Other blogs....

Cheery message from Father Dwight Longenecker whose blog is full of good things... Fr Dwight is the author of a number of books and essays is always a wonderful read....Some years ago, not very long after his resignation from the Anglican ministry and his admission, with his family, into full communion with the Catholic Church, he came to give a talk to the Catholic Cultuiral Group. It was about the use of film as an art form, and I have never forgotten it - looking at important themes and messages in the classic "film story"....made us all think a lot about how film is a central part of that creative world which also includes songs and theatre and storytelling....oh, and he's v. good at the latter, too, and did a wonderful job at one of our early Towards Advent festivals, with enthralled children in the Gallery gathered round him as he told stories from the Bible and of the Church's saints and heroes....

Useful chat with Fr Tim Finigan of Hermeneutic of Continuity He patiently explained (for approx 14th time....) how to make links with other blogs....but, as you see, Fr Tim, I'm still not getting it quite right..........(picture him as he reads this, pounding head against study wall...."children in my parish catechism class could do it!! Aaaaargh!!!!")

As part of sense of link to worldwide English-speaking blogging community, feel I ought to mention that Father Richard Whinder is curate in our parish, assistant to our excellent Father Peter.......

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Friday Jan 11th

That Women's Circle
Time for some light relief. And where better to find that than in one of the unintentionally amusing Catholic feminist lobby-groups which still float about, and talk with the sort of pre-arranged jargon that you also find in Government-funded workplace seminars aimed at policing people into the right social attiutudes.

"Women, Word, Spirit" used to be called the Catholic Women's Network. In its latest newsletter it has a "ten years ago" column which notes a particular effort of mine. The story has partly become legend, so I'll just tell it factually and briefly: back in 1997, reading the Network's newsletter I was struck at how easy it was to follow their jargon, so I started to compose a contribution of my own. This purported to come from a women's circle in Australia, and described how they met for a "desert experience" around the swimming-pool, with avocado salads and wine, and shared their misery at how the Church oppressed them, for example by refusing to accept a relationship one was having with a married man, etc etc. They created their own Eucharist with one another ("You are Christ!)" and affirmed each other's innate self....etc...etc...oh you know the sort of thing. I only wrote it for fun, but thought the CWN might just believe it, as its nonsense so accurately reflected their own. So after enjoying it with my (Australian-born) husband, I posted it to friends near Perth and asked them if they'd kindly oblige by mailing it back to the newsletter editor in England.

It thus arrived with its proper postmark, and the dear ladies published it without suspecting a thing...until I saw it in the newsletter and telephoned the Daily Telegraph which splashed the story of the prank, and the wider media took it up from there....

You see, what the dear ladies hadn't grasped was the gross nonsense of it all...because they take this sort of rubbish for granted as truth. A desert experience in luxury with lavish food and wine around a swimming pool? A supposedly Christian group wallowing in selfishness? Blaspheming the Eucharist? Encouraging each other in adultery? All just fine, apparently.

And they still can't quite the current issue they wonder why I used my "considerable energies" on this spoof.....dear ladies, I didn't. It was the work of half-an-hour, and fun. And, believe me, I am using most of my still considerable energies in a great many other projects.....some of which, if you knew about them, would probably annoy you dreadfully......
Thursday Jan 10th

DVD matters

I am very keen indeed to see the new film about Pope John Paul 11 which is being sold through Ignatius Press. But we can't get it here in Britain!!! Ignatius informs me that it's not for distribution outside the USA.

When will a British distributor come forward?

Does anyone have any knowledge about this?

I am aware that DVD restrictions are a bore. In this connection, does any American reader of this blog want a nice DVD of a classic American film? It's called "Cheaper by the Dozen" and I bought it while in the USA. I saw the film at school as a child (it was very old even then - we were occasionally given film-afternoons as a treat and I remember us all weeping over "Mrs Miniver".....). I was thrilled when I saw it all nicely boxed up as a DVD in America, and bought it....only to find that of course I can't view it here. Up on the screen comes just an annoying little statement saying that viewing is blocked.

I am ready - this is a serious offer! - to post it to any American who would enjoy it! I hate to see something wasted. And it cost me nine American dollars. I could have spent that money on sweets or something. (Well, OK, maybe not sweets as American chocolate doesn't taste quite right, and some of their other sweets are simply horrid. But maybe a lavish ice-cream or two).

New Book: "The Tide is turning"

I have been sent a copy of a paperback"The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism" by David J. Hartline (publ. by something called "Catholic Report"). It is upbeat and cheerful, and has reports of how the new mood in the Church in the USA is definitely one of theological orthodoxy, young people rallying to authentic teachings, colleges such as Franciscan University of Steubenville, Thomas Aquinas College in California etc all doing well, etc etc etc.....all of which is true. But I don't think this sustains its central thesis, which is that the tide in society generally is turning towards the Church. I think the actual trend is more interesting: things are undoubtedly moving in a good direction within the Church (and more so in America than in Britain, and more so in Britain than in mainland Europe). But meanwhile the trend in western society is increasingly against the Church. It is precisely the clash - between a re-invigorated (albeit numerically smallish) Catholicism, and a general opposition to Christianity in a rich and godless west - that is the reality before us in the next decades. The crunching noise that is made when these two clash - which not be one big crunch but a lot of grating and discomfort spread over a period of time and involving different people and events and experiences.......that noise will be the noise of the first part of the 21st century for many of us.

Feature in Catholic Herald

The latest Catholic Herald has a short feature by a friend of mine, Sara Mellor, who is blind. She makes some pertinent points about some specific needs of blind people. Travel is difficult and complicated - taxis are expensive. The days can seem very long and quiet when you are alone in a house. What many people in this position want more than anything else is just some companionship - a visitor telephoning or dropping in. Sara lives some way from London, and in a rural area. The Association of Blind Catholics and St Cecilia's Guild do a great job in providing tapes on Catholic subjects but......nothing beats simple human friendship, and for a Catholic it's a special delight to be able to talk about things of deep interest....but hard to do so if it's just too complicated to catch a couple of buses or trains to get to a meeting, retreat, or conference.
Sara mentions specifically that she would love to go on a retreat, but in a strange (often large) building it is difficult to navigate alone. She needs to be accompanied. I have accompanied her to a number of there anyone out there who might be prepared to join the team from time to time? This might be something for an older (retired?) person with some spare time, and who would enjoy the chance to attend a meeting or conference......send a message to this blog (in confidence) and we could follow up.....
Thursday Jan 11th


Some replies to comments: yes, I know one can order books from a library and thus ensure that they get on the shelves. I always recommend people to do this: it's a simple way of getting good books into a Library. I already have three Ratzinger books ordered at Sutton Library....and they have promised to get them for me, but I don't know why they are so long delayed, as the request was made back in the Autumn and the books can easily be obtained from Family Publications in Oxford....I think they may be seeing if they can borrow them from another place on an inter-library loan instead.....

Re my Catholic Cultural Group: if you are London-based and might be interested, send me your NAME AND ADDRESS to this blog, as a Comment. ALL COMMENTS COME TO ME FIRST in the form of an email and I DO NOT PUBLISH THEM unless it iseems suitable, so naturally one that simply gave private information for my own use would be treated as such.
Thursday Jan 10th

I am writing this in the early hours of the morning. Thanks to wonderful work by a brilliant nephew, my computer is all up and running with a new router. OH IT IS BLISSS!!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday Jan 10th
Cycled through pouring rain to a library to use the Internet....yes, still problems at home.....

It is curious how alienated one can feel in a modern public library, or indeed other official public facility such as a doctor's waiting room, simply because of the material that is presented all around one.

This is a library building I have known all my adult life: I was a Borough councillor here for many years in the 70s and early 80s, and our Council meetings were in the big Europa Gallery on the ground floor, where the walls frequently echoed to my speeches. But now? It's a fine library and the computer section is superb: beautiful machines, a businesslike silence and sense of order. Once logged on, there is the possibility of extending time as required. Downstairs, there is a pleasant coffee-shop where I relaxed with a book and hoped my soaking jacket and gloves would dry before the journey home. the Religion section, row after row of rubbish-books on witchcraft and the occult.....a reasonable range of books on Christianity but the ONLY one about Pope Benedict is a gross, silly and (thank God) largely unknown one which takes the form of an attack by Edward Stourton of the BBC who opposes central Church moral teachings.....why not some of the books by Peter Sewald, or Ratzinger's own memoirs ("Milestones" - a very good read, available from Ignatius Press USA or Family Publications, Oxford). And, heck, at least a couple of the 40-odd books written by this world-famous theologian who has ended up at Pope......Oh, meanwhile of course there were two copies of John Cornwell's book attacking Pius X11 (no other book about him).

Oh, and elsewhere, publications with headlines screaming that anyone not accepting the new Govt plans on Sexual Oreintation must be a bigot...and horrible novels blatantly sexy.....

However, in the History section I found a new and extremely interesting book, which is relevant to this week's headlines about events in Poland....the book is "To Kill a Priest" (by Kevin Ruane, published by Gibson Square), and is about Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, who was killed by the State secret police. It is extremely detailed, and sometimes reads rather like a police file, but it does set out the facts and conveys a fascinating background to the Poland of the 1980s......the complexity involving the web of deception that was routinely woven, to set priest against Bishop, layman against clergy, youth against teacher, worker against wonder the general policy in Rome has been to assume that nothing in the Polish situation is simple, and that one should treat with caution anything seen in any official folder. This does not excuse, but it does explain, the events surrounding the apppointment and then sudden resignation of the proposed Archbishop of Warsaw this past weekend.....

We are now all going to see a wave of cyncism among younger Catholics in Poland - those brought up on the legends of heroic Catholic opposition to Communist rule. There was heroic opposition, and Fr Jerzy was part of it. So was the great Cardinal Wyzinski, and of course our dear Holy Father John Paul. But there was also compromise, acceptance of what should have been unacceptable, bad decision-making as well as good, and shoddy behaviour under conditions where shoddiness became blurred with simple realism. Those of us who haven't had to live in a police-state should hesitate to make bland judgements.

To London to collect mail for the Christian Projects Schools Bible venture for 2007 ( involves pupils writing essays on Bible themes - open to all UK secondary schools - send SAE if you want your school to take part: Christian Projects, PO Box 44741 London SW1P 2XA) and to visit pro-life office in St Matthew Street. This is near the Cathedral so I dropped in - there is a very attractive Christmas crib which of course has just had the three Wise men added. They have a camel which is rather too small! But it's a lovely Crib, and well worth a visit. Picked up a copy of the Catholic Herald - very sound comments von the back page in the "Charterhouse" section for Holy Days. I am not going to let up on this: our Bishops have made a silly mistake in transferring some of these to Sundays, and it is something that will have to be rectified.

Interesting story, too, about beleagured Govt minister Ruth Kelly - she has refused to meet a representative of our Bishops to talk about the new horrible Sexual Oreintation Regulations......this is particularly offensive and wrong as she is a Catholic and must recognise that the Church has grave questions to discuss on this matter.

Miss Kelly is currently at the centre of a controversy about having chosen a private independent school for one of her sons. But the problem is not that this is wrong - she comes from a well-to-do family and herself went to Sutton High School (which I passed today on my bike - fairly expensive local school, with excellent academic record) and to Westminster (top London school, exclusive and justifiably famed) is entirely right that she offers her children the same sort of opprtunities. What is wrong is that she is part of a Government which is making it EXTREMELY difficult for anyone but the rich to make use of these schools - all the Assisted Places schemes and publicly-funded scholarships have been she is getting for herself what she is actively denying others.

However, he stance on the SExual Oreintation Regulations is a far more serious matter and it's very, very worrying that there has been no one at all in the Government prepared to meet our Catholic spokesmen and even discuss things properly.

And please, if you are an American reader, don't write in and say "But isn't Tony Blair practically a Catholic?"

Finally: while on the Internet, looked up some of the delightful pix of the Holy Father baptising babies in the glorious surroundings of the Sistine Chapel. These are beautiful scenes: gentle pastor with silvery hair, awed but happy parents proffering small bundle of baby for baptism, the Holy Father's hands pouring water from a delicate shell over a noble and ancient font. And the H. Father's talk to the families - breaking from prepared script, speaking with wisdom and commonsense in a setting so rich in history and tradition - are well worth reading.

Golly, this beats any official "naming ceremony" offered by a local authority, as seen in modern Britain.
Tuesday Jan 9th
Excellent copy of ANNALS - an Australian magazine which always has me stopping whatever else I am doing to dip into it - in the post. It's a "Journal of Catholic Culture" and this edition has a really good feature about the revival of a Catholic seminary in Ukraine, by Father Paul Stenhouse, some fascinating stuff on Christmas folklore - which is well-informed and explains the background to many well-known carols etc - and a piece about architecture which highglights the appalling ugliness of today's grey blocks that dominate our towns and or at PO Box 13 Kensington NSW Australia 2033.....

Cycling on various errands in mild wet weather. Catholic Times contacts me to tell me a number of replies have been recieved to my recent QUIZ....I'll enjoy checking them and seeing who has won the prize.....

In the evening a torchlit gathering outside Parliament to protest about the "Sexual Orientation Regulations". Yes, this bit of legislation sounds daft and it is. The idea is so to normalise homosexual practices that even voicing opposition to them on behalf of some Christian group will be illegal....thus a Christian running a business which specialises in wedding photography could pay a huge fine for refusing customers who wanted him to take pix of a homosexual marriage.....

Large number of (mostly evangelical) Christians outside Parliament, praying and singing microphones allowed so speakers addressing the crowd had a problem. Notable were the LARGE numbers of people from "black churches" - a group which has previously not made an impact on the political scene. I bet this gets ignored by the mainstream media. These are people who had travelled from all over Britain, who are young, dedicated, community-minded, with families and a vivid sense of Christian commitment and social responsibility. "We must pray for our nation" was a phrase one heard a lot. Also comments such as: "I'd be prepared to go to prison rather than have my church forced to betray Christian principles" "No way are we going to allow our church hall to be used for a 'gay' wedding reception, or anything that goes against God's word on the right way to live. We stand by the Bible." "I want to bring my children up in a Christian country."

Of course all this was ignored, and the attempt in the House of Lords to have a fresh look at the Regulations was defeated.

Among Catholics at the gathering, I met the stalwarts of the National Association of Catholic Families, all cheerful and together, with a priest who blessed us all, and lots of young faces....signed up a couple more people for my Catholic Cultural Group (meets in London - open to anyone, age range say 18-40 who would enjoy talks on Catholic culture in books, music, art, history, etc etc....send a Comment to this blog if interested).......also met Yvonne Windsor who had organised the splendid carol singing at Waterloo and Victoria stations (we made over £700 and a number of useful charities have benefited).

It is impossible not to be gloomy about the future of Britain....not about Christianity here, which I think will continue and has all sorts of bright possibilities....but about Britain as a country with any sort of coherent future as a nation with a real sense of community......when it is recognised that homosexual activity is being so widely promoted, aborting babies is regarded as a standard part of "health care", and teenagers are routinely given powerful abortifacient drugs as part of accepting promiscuous sexual activity. No community of poeople has ever survived which has lived this way, and there is no reason why Britain should.

"If we are going to be put in prison, we'll sing and pray together as we are doing now" one cheerful young man told me. I thought about priest-holes and the English martyrs....Catholics have a tradition of persecution here which gives us a certain specific heritage. I wonder how brave I would be if really made to face the prospect of imprisonment for my beliefs?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mon Jan 8th

Contacted the mailing firm which we use to mail out the brochure of the annual Schools Bible Project to schools acros Britain.....the 2007 mailing goes out shortly, which means that every secondary school in Britain will recieve a brochure inviting pupils to take part. It's very simple: pupils have to imagine they were present at an event in the life of Christ (we give them a list from which to chose, with Bible references) and then write about it in the first person. We get massive numbers of essays, and some are really excellent: we have a large team of judges which meets in the summer and ensures that every single essay is read and evaluated. A large number of certificates of Merit and Special Merit are awarded and the final four best essays get prizes, and the young winners come to London for tea at the House of Lords to recieve these. Organising all this is a big task but well worth while. The whole thing is organised by an ecumenical Christian educational charity of which I am chairman. The object is not to preach to the children, but simply to offer the opportunity to discover the New Testament and study it - schools really value the Project and our winners over the years have come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. If you are a teacher or parent and would like your child to know about this project - individual entries are accepted of course, for example from children being educated at home - send a stamped addressed envelope to: Christian Projects, PO Box 44741 London SW1P 2XA. (Sorry - this project is only open to children in the United Kingdom).

Rushing about organising all sorts of other work and activities - today is the first real day back at work for most people, and London has lost its Christmasy feel.

Long and useful telephone chat with Josephine Robinson of the Association of Catholic Women - we have a number of projects on the go and this year promises to be a busy one. Among other things, Josephine hopes to revive our pilgrimages - ACW groups have gone to Cambridge, to Littlemore at Oxford to honour John Henry Newman, to Aylesford ( ancient shrine of Our Lady and St Simon Stock) and various other places over the years. We raised nearly £400 at a recent coffee morning in aid of a clinic for children with Downs Syndrome. We run a religious education project for children at Catholic primary and infant schools, and we hold meetings, days of recollection, day-conferences and other events, run a popular quarterly Review, are co-sponsors of the "Towards Advent" Festival at Westminster Cathedral Hall each year, and more.....the Association's theme is that we are women who "give our glad assent to the teachings of the Catholic Church". If you are interested, look up our website, or send SAE to ACW, 22 Surbiton Hill Park, Surbiton KT5.

The Christian Institute is doing an excellent job opposing the Govt's daft and appalling new "Sexual Orientation Regulations". These new rules could force people - including you and me - to adopt the politically-corrrect but morally wrong line on homosexual activity and refrain from teaching and promoting the Church's unchanging and unchangeable position on this subject. For example, a Christian group which insisted on offering instruction which affirmed the traditional and authentic Christian message on this could be banned from fulfiling all its work(eg a group which insists that children be adopted only by a married man and wife)......and at the personal level a Christian running a bed-and-breakfast accomodation in his own home could be forced out of business of he refused to offer a double-room to a homosexual couple who requested is worth visiting the Christian Institute's website to learn more about this.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Jan 7th
Just been reading the Holy Father's Christmas message to the Roman Curia. DO READ can find it here :

and it is full of very good things, although it has a sad and wistful note about the future of Europe.....

Our parish has had a wonderful Christmas crib, which today was altered to include the three Wise is lovely to see families going up to enjoy the crib-scene and to pray, and it reminds me so much of being taken to do just that as a child.

I feel very fortunate to belong to St Joseph's, New Malden: it's a friendly parish and there are lots and lots of young families, plus many young people in the teens-30s bracket, for whom a new group, Forum Christi is about to be launched, with talks on aspects of the Faith. At the 11.30 am Mass we have plenty of sung Latin, and people join in. Our beautiful new parish centre which adjoins the church smells of clean new wood and bustles with people going to and fro, visiting the bookshop, having coffee-after-Mass, chatting to Father Peter our parish priest.
Sat Jan 6th
It is always sad taking down the Christmas decorations....but this year I am keping up the Crib until Candlemas. It is so nice having it there in the evenings with the candles lit and glowing into the stable scene.

Golly, the feature in the Catholic Herald about blogging has produced quite a response: lots of coments to this Blog, several of which I have deleted because they were so nasty.

The photograph accompanying the feature is grim - why didn't I comb my hair and put some powder on that shiny nose? My cheeks always look very rosy but in this pic I look ridiculous. suppose I could have worn something a bit better than the denim shirt and my favourite comfortable old guernsey, even though you can't see the darns on its elbows.....

If you are a regular reader of this Blog, but don't ever read the Catholic papers, you are missing out. The Catholic Herald is a really good read - lots of material from Rome, some crisp and interesting comments on topical issues in the Church and society, good feature articles, excellent book reviews, a real sense of being in touch with the wider Church. And in the Catholic Times you can read the excellent Fr Marsden - always an excellent read - and there is also a weekly column by JB, which isn't brilliant but which does give info and history about all the feasts and traditions of the Church's year.

Off to Premier Radio tomorrow to record some early-morning "Thought for the Day"-type broadcasts. They will be broadcast in the wek begining Jan 15th, and if American readers of this Blog want to hear them, Premier is available over the Internet (use a search engine to find it).

In the Bogle family, we are great supporters of authentic tradition, so tomorrow I'm having a small tea-party to mark Epiphany (can't do it today, too much else going on, end of a hectic week). I will make a galette (puff-pastry and marzipan, with a hidden "king" token) and light the candles by the Crib.....

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Friday Jan 5th
A delightful meeting with the authors of a new CTs publication "The Joy of God's Plan", due to be launched by the Catholic Truth Society at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Jan 31st. This is a DVD and booklets giving an introduction to Natural Fertility Awareness, and it is a project which has been longed planned and carried out by a team of people who have been working for years with young couples and parents, and who also bring their own personal experience and commitment to the subject.

The project has the support of Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, who will be attending the launch, together with Bishop Bernard Longley of Westminster. The team producing the material comes from Luton Good Counsel - one of a number of local groups which in recent years have helped dozens of young women through pregnancy and childbirth, offering friendship, counselling, and support through often difficult circumstances and helping to ensure a child's safe delivery into a world where there will be a love and a welcome.

This new DVD pack will be of huge value to marriage preparation groups in parishes, and to women's organisations. Contact the Catholic Truth Society for more details, and send me a COMMENT at this Blog if you are interested in attending the Launch - clergy, youth workers, teachers, all particularly welcome.

My feature in the Catholic Herald re blogging has produced a large response in the blogging fraternity....which incidentally has proved itself super-sensitive to even the merest hint of amused criticism!

My only real worry about blogging is that it traps people at computers....while giving the illusion that one is in contact with millions of people across the globe, talking about important things etc, etc, writing or reading a blog is actually a matter of sitting at a desk engaging in chat which can become addictive - and meanwhile there's a whole world going on outside. I have (temporarily!) solved this problem by having massive computer problems at home - as regularreaders of this Blog will know - and consequently having to work at public libraries or internet cafes. I am writing this at Sutton Library, with just eleven more minutes allowed on this machine....this concentrates the mind....

This evening I am off to a Twelfth Night party at a cousin's. She was my bridesmaid over 25 years ago, and we last met at the Silver Wedding celebrations last will be fun to catch up, and I always enjoy Twelfth Night and ensuring that Christmas ends on a high note instead of just fizzling out.....

Speaking engagements coming up: I will be at St Walburga's, PRESTON, on Jan 28th, speaking to Catholic students. Come along and join in! Starts at 6.30pm with Mass. I'll be talking about "Celebrating Catholic Feasts and Seasons".