Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And here is a hymn... sing for the Holy Father.

This was written in 2005 to mark his election - we took our inspiration from the Wiseman hymn "Full in the panting heart of Rome" and then produced a new version, to which musician Jeremy de Satge produced a new and very singable tune. We have now tweaked it to produce a final polished version, which we offer as we prepare for the Holy Father's visit.

Enjoy! And use it in your parish, school, youth group...

The ghastly Hitchens...

won't read this, but you should.

You need to keep up to date...

...on the topic which has dominated this Blog in recent days. Read here for an excellent commentary/ analysis...

The big CHRISM MASS picture...

...above, comes from the website of the Diocese of Westminster.

You can read here the statement of Archbishop Vincent Nichols at the end of Mass.

Support for the Pope... now surging worldwide. The American Bishops Conference statement is worth readimg.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AT THE CHRISM MASS... Westminster Cathedral, we had a big placard saying THANK YOU TO OUR PRIESTS and gave them thank-you cards with a pic. of St John Vianney. The cathedral was packed, and at the end of the Mass, Archbishop Vincent Nichols made a special and strong statement about the current storm surrounding the Church, explaining the truth - including the fact that that there is no special "secrecy directive" - and indicating his firm support for the Holy Father. The whole of the cathedral was with him.

There were TV cameras outside the Cathedral as the great columns of priests walked up from Ambrosden Avenue, and were greeted with applause (and chants of "We love our priests!" from the young people in our group!)...but you won't see us on TV as the cameras instead focussed on three people who wanted to talk about sex-abuse. There was no opportunity for another side to be put, or for information to be corrected.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You have GOT to watch...


Good grief...

...the New York Times (no I'm not going to give the link, it's all too nauseating) has now arranged for its dishonesty and invective to be used as formal educational material in schools because "teachers and parents want to help their students and children understand the current sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church": it offers a schema for lesson-plans so that children can be duly instructed in its propaganda.

Your chance... show support for priests and for the Church at this difficult time comes on Tuesday (March 30th) at 11.45 am when the priests of the Westminster diocese arrive at the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass. As in previous years, a group of us - organised by the Association of Catholic Women - will be there to say a big thank-you to our priests for the service they give. As always, we'll have a placard and be handing out thank-you cards. Join us!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bishops - where are you?

There are Bishops speaking out for the truth in this dreadful time of lies and hatred aimed at the Holy Father and the Church. This list is not exhaustive, but these are some men to note:

Honour to:
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster - see previous recent blog entries
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, New York
Cardinal Marc Quellet, Primate of Canada
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna
Catholic Bishops Conference of France

Among lay people, honour to Jack Valero of Opus Dei and, to a lesser degree, Christina Odone along with a number of Americans, including George Weigel, John Allen and Bill Donohue.

Among clergy - honour to Fr Dwight Longenecker - read the piece on his Blog.

Palm Sunday...

...and we met outside the church and processed in, remembering Christ's entry into Jerusalem.

Vile attacks on the Church and the H. Father in the press today, rather resembling those produced the Goebbels' propaganda teams.

But there's a story the press haven't picked up. Who was the Bishop who routinely dismissed child-abuse claims, admitted shredding files on priests accused of abuse, and who was then revealed as having paid out $450,000 from church funds to his own former homosexual lover?

Step forward Archbishop Rembert Weakland, currently posing as the "good guy" who wrote to Rome to reveal a child abuse case. The real facts? He dismissed sexual abuse time and again,then in the 1990s eventually contacted Rome twenty years after a serious abuser had been active in his diocese, and has given no reason for his failure to act before then. The priest in question was by then dying, so nothing useful could be done and the chap died a few months after his case had been discussed in Rome.

You can get a lot more about this here and do further research by checking Weakland's Wikipedia entry.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


...from the Old Bailey to Tyburn, along the route we will take for the Martyrs Walk in June. (It's June 20th, mark the date in your diaries now).

All the time, the current storm surrounding the Church was in the forefront of all our minds, especially as we stopped to pray at the various churches along the way.

Where are the Church's defenders? Honour to George Weigel,who spoke up with clarity before anyone else, a lone voice and a brave one. Now a few others have joined in - including this correspondent. The French bishops and some others have spoken up, including Archbishop Vincent Nichols. IN the USA the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has been working hard.

We need a group in Ireland which will rally to the Pope's letter and start taking action along the lines he urged - starting with prayer.There's a lot of talk about the impossibility of healing and so on - but healing has to start somewhere.

We need a lot less gloating - we don't need the voices saying "Oh, it's all due to the Church being harsh and repressoive in the old days" or "Oh, it's all the liberals in the Church since Vatican II". We need realism about the joy all this is giving to those who hate the Church and the Christian message. We need to work - now - to ensure that those who are seeking to use all this to crush the Papal visit to Britain are denied their goal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

And more...

...yes, yes, I know you'd like Auntie to write lots of cheery stuff about how she is whizzing about on her bicycle in the London springtime. But it isn't like that just at the moment in the life of this Catholic journalist. There's a war on, fought in no small measure through the Internet and the rest of the media, the former being a new and powerful weapon in the hands of those who loathe the Church. And most people aren't well-informed. Are you? Have you read this from New York? And this which goes into some detail?

And I'm assuming that most serious readers will have read this and been pleased that Archbishop Vincent has spoken out (BTW don't buy the wretched Times: look at it on-line).

Of course there are other things to tackle, work to be done. I spent today partly at Premier Radio, talking about Alive to the World and recording some talks (about Mary, among other topics) which will be broadcast in May. And of course I also took part in the main news programme which discussed....

Get yourself better informed by reading...

...this blog which has some useful material on Crimen sollicitationis, the Church document which deals with the evil of sexual solicitation in the confessional. Did you know that this document actually obliges a person to tell about any such solicitation? And that the promise of secrecy is given for just this purpose?

Look: it's like this. If I go to confession and confess adultery, and the priest is evil and makes a disgusting suggestion along the lines of "Well, if you've done about you and me..?" it is my absolute duty to report this to some one in authority in the Church, and ensure that action is taken. But I might have an obvious reason for not doing this - because it might be that in explaining what happened, I have to explain that it began with my own confession of adultery. In order to protect my privacy, and to encourage me to come forward with the information about the priest, the Church insists that I am given a promise of secrecy. This does not extend to everything that subsequently occurs as the whole thing goes on, but it does remain absolute with regard to my part in the proceedings.

I have deliberately chosen adultery because it is one of the less disgusting sins which might be involved in this sort of matter.

The document is not, as it happens, very relevant to many of the issues being raised in the current storm. That of course it why opponents of the Church and her disciplines want to fudge things by pretending that it is, and simply randomly talking about "secrecy" and "Vatican documents" and "issued by Cardinal Ratzinger" and so on.

An early start...

...after a late arrival home last night. While busy with a project at Chelsea (helping to produce the cards that will be given to priests as part of our annual thank-you gesture at the Chrism Mass), media 'phone calls and much discussion as the storm rages.

Important to get the facts straight and to be alert for the next wave of attacks. My guess is that these will seek to besmirch Pope John Paul.

Who is it within the Church - in the USA? in Rome? - who is helping to feed all this? With what motive(s)?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hurrying along...

...the Kings Road in Chelsea after a busy day (see below) and en route to another meeting, I answered my mobile phone. A voice asked "How are you?" and I answered rather curtly asking who it was. He said he was from the BBC, and would I like to do an interview that evening about the story in the New York Times? Assuming that this was all part of the escalation of the media storm I explained that I was on my way to give a talk and couldn't manage a BBC interview. Made a mental note that things were were racheted up still further, perused Internet when I got the first chance and scanned all the latest shrieking.

This is getting bizarre: it is no longer serious discussion of crimes by priests but a weird attempt to crush the Pope and the Church. It won't work, but what's the game here? Why are they so frightened of the Catholic Church?

A splendid...

...Day of Art and Music for teachers and catechists, held at the Monckton Room, at the church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More in Chelsea. Superb presentation of glorious art by Lionel Gracey who works with the "Art Beauty and Inspiration" courses at Maryvale. Then a teaching session of plainchant with Jeremy de Satge of The Music Makers. Finally we went upstairs into the church for a beautiful Annunciation Mass, celebrated by Fr Sunny Paul from Woldingham School, with wonderful singing of the newly-learned chant. We sang a Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, did a beautiful Ave Maria for the Offertory, and as Mass finished honoured the Annunciation again with Ave Regina Caelorum. We also sang the psalm and a new English version of the Gloria.

The day was hugely successful - the third such event organised by the Association of Catholic Women. We had teachers from a number of London primary schools, plus a team from St Patrick's School of Evangelisation, and from the Heralds of the Gospel, a new international movement with a branch based near Kingston...

After Mass, some of us lingered, talking and planning... much talk of the Papal visit, current and possible future media storms,the ghastly Children's Schools and Families Bill and its effects, likelihood of tough times ahead...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In London...

...for a meeting at the excellent Billings Family Life Centre run by Veronica Pierson. This Centre has helped to many couples, and Veronica is a person of immense commitment, courage and faith who has been working with dedication and skill since she founded the Centre in the 1980s.

This has been a week for friends. Yesterday a delightful lunch with a fellow member of the Association of Catholic Women, who had just returned from Rome, full of news and joy. She gave me a most beautiful scarf, and some medals and pictures and a lovely calendar with pictures of the Holy Father and we talked and talked. She is busy launching a Trust to raise funds for the school for blind children in India where her daughter has been working...a reminder that there are some wonderful young people who challenge and inspire us. (I'll be publicising more about this Trust in due course - a project hugely worth supporting).

And today an unexpected bonus - meeting a friend whom I had planned to see yesterday evening ...we had missed one another at the Cathedral but then were able to meet instead today. She has been working on the excellent Alive to the World series - amid all the controversy over Govt plans for Personal, Social and Health Education in schools here is something you can really trust as use while the debates rage. It really is a wonedrful resource, with modestly-priced books which children will love, use, read, and enjoy. Do visit that link for a closer look.

And then on to Tyburn, where I was visiting the nuns to make arrangements for the Martyrs Walk. (Book the date: June 20th: details from Continuity/Miles Jesu.) The Sisters at Tyburn are a tonic: I was welcomed with tea, the arrangements for the Walk were discussed with cheerful friendly efficiency, we chatted over dozens of other things, and I felt surrounded by affection and care.

Decided to drop in at Mass at Westminster Cathedral before I went home. We sang some wonderful traditional hymns as well as all the usual glorious Latin chant with the choir, and in honour of its being the vigil of the feast of the Annunciation made a special prolonged genuflection in the Creed. Huge congregation, Archbishop processing down the aisle with crozier blessing people... the Mass honoured Archbishop Oscar Romero, on the 30th annniversary of his death. He is not some one I have ever really studied: interesting info on the Mass-sheet - he prayed the Rosary daily, wore the Carmelite scapular, pleaded with people on both the political left and right in attempts to foster peace in his country. Those who have tried to portray him as a liberation-theologian seem to have rather missed the point.

On arrival home, a bonus - a simply wonderful email message from the dear Sisters at St Cecilia's on the Isle of Wight, with a copy of the message they have sent to the Holy Father. If I get their permission, I'll reprint it on this Blog.

Tenebrae... the Church's traditional Office for Holy Week. Westminster Cathedral gave us a foretaste of it this week, with the most glorious and dramatic Tenebrae you could imagine - the great cathedral darkening as the tall candles were snuffed out one by one, the music soaring to the vast domes, the night sky visible beyond, an absolute and utter silence as the sharp loud clatter of the Strepitus ended and the solitary candle re-emerged to remind us of Christ. As we approach the great drama of Passiontide, here it was, utterly awesome. The great crowd departed in silence.

Monday, March 22, 2010


...commentary and analysis of the Pope's plans for Ireland here in a forthright piece accurately entitled "The end of Euphemism". Sample: "Benedict XVI’s striking combination of candour and hope in addressing what is, quite simply, a disastrous situation may be the beginning of the kind of reform that could make Irish Catholicism vital and vibrant once again."

"Those who see in these scandals an opportunity to cripple the Catholic Church and its moral teaching have long had the card of “cover-up” to play in the global media. That card has now been taken away by Benedict XVI. Those who care for the Church, on the other hand, must now hope and pray that the follow-up from the Vatican is as vigorous and unsparing as the Pope’s letter."

Where is...

...the Millais portrait of John Henry Newman that is listed as being in the National Portrait Gallery? We went there on Sunday with the plan of seeing Newman in the context of other great men and women of the Victorian era. There they all were - Gladstone and Disraeli and Dickens and Baden-Powell and Florence Nightingale ("The Mission of Mercy", one of my favourite pictures)and Manning with his skull-like features...and no Newman!

"He's not here - just when we need him!" commented by young colleague. Just so. Has the portrait been taken for special display in connection with the forthcoming beatification? Where is it at present?

We need Newman's prayers from Heaven for Benedict XVI's visit. Misunderstood and misrepresented so often in life, Newman will surely understand the wretchedness of a Papal visit announcement mired in a fog of horror over scandals from previous decades. John Henry Newman, ora pro nobis...

Now it's just ranting...

...It seems that it was decided beforehand that the story from Ireland would be a general rejection of the Papal letter. In fact, this has not occurred - but that hasn't stopped the Internet from buzzing on the subject, the strong message being that of course the letter was deemed inadequate, that the Pope should have devoted his Rome speech to the subject, etc etc etc.

This is all gtetting gross. Trawling the Internet, one can see that the story is moving on from the real horror of events in Irish orphanages and parishes over the years to a general denouncing of the Church, of Catholic and Christian morals, of the idea of a belief in God.

There is a sort of bullying going on: if some one questioned after Mass in Ireland wanted to state that she or he had found the Pope's intervention useful and valuable, the result might be interrogation:"Why do you say that? Which bits do you consider acceptable? Does anyone else share your opinion? Are you likely to change your mind?" or even just ranting: Ireland is now losing the Faith, people want to loosen their bonds with a dreadful past, no one will ever trust priests again...

And of course there's an agenda: those who hate the Church's moral teachings are gleeful at revelations of priests' sins, and postively slathering at the dream of a great prize, the destruction of a large Catholic celebration. The forthcoming Papal visit to Britain has become the major goal for attack, and the attackers think they are going to enjoy doing it. Raw and wounded, the Church's defenders are only too well aware of the months ahead. We are also conscious of an ability to hang on and see the good finally emerge. We're in for the long haul.

You owe it... yourself, to the cause of truth, and to fairness, to find out what the Pope is really saying and doing at this time. Check out this blog for some useful material. And this is relevant too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A day for praying...

...well, every day is a day for that. But today, at a crowded Westminster Cathedral, were the thoughts of others, like mine, tangled up with the headlines and the anguish over the child-abuse scandals? The Gospel reading - the woman taken in adultery - seemed so poignant. As we poured into Mass across the piazza, it seemed like any other Sunday. We prayed for the Pope and his forthcoming visit, for the Queen, for the suffering and for all in need...the choir sang the chants, the crosses were draped in purple cloth as Passiontide begins...

I met, by prearrangement, a young relative at Mass and had been looking forward to our day together. It was, as always, a joy to be together and catching up on news, and a grand day to be in London in springtime - daffodils blooming in St James' Park, people milling about in Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall, open-air cafes plying their trade on this first sunny Sunday of the year.

But I knew that meanwhile the headlines would announce that the (unjust) verdict of commentators in Ireland was that the Pope's letter was inadequate. Buying a newspaper confirmed that. For the next few days that's going to be the line, and rational discussion is going to be difficult. After that...

A time for prayer. Lots of it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's a good letter...

...written with love, genuine humility, and a clearf sense of direction. Read it here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Did you know...

...that you can send an email to the Holy Father? Why not write to him now and tell him of your love and loyalty, with an assurance of your prayers?

You can find the address here.

Before you write to him, say a special prayer that he will be given strength and courage in the weeks ahead - and that his visit to Britain will be a big success. Then write and tell him that is what you have done, and that you will continue to pray for him.

Pass this information on to a friend too.


...I visited my mother as I often do on a weekday afternoon and we went out for a cup of tea. As we walked along, we said the Rosary together (Sorrowful Mysteries - Friday) for the Holy Father. We don't usually walk down suburban streets muttering Hail Marys, but today it was just the one thing we could do that was useful. It's also important to keep informed so as to be able to talk intelligently and truthfully in this firestorm of shrieking around the Pope and the Church...

By a most cruel irony... would normally be a particularly happy and pleasant day for Pope Benedict, because it is St Joseph's Day, his name-day. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he used to invite others who shared his name and thus his feast-day to join him in a trip out into the countryside for a walk and a meal...

Today the media storm is roaring around the Vatican, and Pope Benedict - who as Archbishop, Cardinal and Pope has never been implicated in any of the ghastly sex-abuse horrors or their cover-ups - is having to hold steady and face all things with courage. The attempts to drag his name into the stories that are dominating headlines across Europe have been sordid but so far haven't managed to achieve their aim of fatal damage. In one instance his assistance in sending for therapy a priest - who had been removed from active duty in another diocese - was undermined when the vicar-general of Munich, without informing Archbishop Ratzinger, later assigned the man to parish work and thus to opportunities to commit vile offences against other children. And that's all. His record at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was one of efficiency and dedication in tackling these cases - would that others in episcopal authority had done as much.

We would do well to emulate the Pope's example and hold steady. But we also need to pray - and to tell the truth when the media roaring allows us to do so, which will be the case over the next weeks and months...

The Papal visit to Britain... has a website. Worth a visit: here.

Pray today...

...for Pope Benedict.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On the sexual abuse crisis...

...Read this analysis by John Allen.

The first entries... a schools project launched by the Association of Catholic Women to mark the Papal visit have arrived. Delightful work by children writing about St Peter, the first Pope, about the role of the Papacy, and about Pope Benedict. It will be tough choosing the winners, but fortunately we have plenty of prizes on offer, generously provided by the CTS.

Want to get involved? If you are a teacher, click on to that link. It is an excellent class project, the children will enjoy it, and you will be participating in something that you will cherish as a link with the Papal visit of 2010.

Keep this in your prayers...

...from now right through to September, and through the days of his visit. The details of Papa Benedict's trip to Britain are now published. SAY SPECIAL PRAYERS from now onwards. The visit will bring out many attacks on the Church. Get praying.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The ranting rubbish...

...of The Times on the subject of the Catholic Church is getting beyond gross. The poor author of today's bizarre rant sounds as though she is slightly drunk. What's the motive here? Does she think she is going to fulfil the 19th-century anti-Catholic bigots' dream, and "crush the evil Church of Rome"? What fantasies does she cherish?

What is happening... ordinary free speech in Britain?

In a mainstream newspaper today:

"Mums and Dads
. In our article of September 16 2009, we stated that 'all the evidence shows that a child has the best life outcomes if he or she is adopted into a stable traditional married family - and that means a mother and a father, not two dads'. We would like to make it clear that there is conflicting evidence both supporting and rebutting this position."

So a newspaper now cannot assert that a stable traditional married family, with a mum and a dad, not two dads, is the best way to raise a child, unless it states that there is "conflicting avidence both supporting and rebutting this position".

What happens, then, if a newspaper wants to assert that "evidence shows that two men in an active homosexual relationship are the best environment in which to raise a child"? Will the paper be obliged to state that there is evidence both supporting and rebutting this position?

An early morning 'phone call...

...from the BBC World Service. Would I take part in a radio discussion about the Catholic Church's celibacy requirement for priests? Haven't done any radio discussions recently, but said yes. Discussion took place an hour or so later: it's faintly bizarre to be sitting at home talking away on a telephone knowing it's being broadcast worldwide, but it's much less worrying than having to tear up to London... trains, Tube, bus, rush-hour traffic, and the panic of getting to the studio on time.

Points that came up in the discussion: most sex offenders are in fact married or in relationships, (eg the ghastly case at Soham); celibacy is not a Medieval invention, Christ himself was unmarried and gave himself wholly to his Church, the Apostles "left everything" to follow him.

It is ghasty to see how sin covers all sorts of things with filth: I remember being taught, years and years ago, "no sin is ever really private" and that is certainly true. The evil of some priests in what they probably considered private acts decades ago is spreading its harm and horror in the Church today and destroying faith and trust, hope and plans for evangelisation.

Papa Benedict is holding steady - he has a clear conscience and the inner calm that comes from a faithful relationship with God, plus considerable personal courage. This week marks the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day and Papa B. gave a powerful message to the young, centred on the call to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Quoting the young man who asked Christ "What must I do to inherit eternal life" he urged that young people still ask this profound question today: "What must I do? What might be my plan of life?...

"Do not be afraid to address these questions! Far from overwhelming you, they express great aspirations, which are present in your heart. Hence, they are to be listened to. They await answers that are not superficial, but able to satisfy your authentic expectations of life and happiness."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You probably won't hear...

...the facts about the current sex-abuse scandals and the Church, and Rome,and so on, so get some info here

And this although rather dense and technical, is of importance in understanding the logistics of how the Church's law can tackle such things.

And, incidentally, there is some interesting stuff here about the rescue of Jews in wartime Italy under Pius XII.

Mothering Sunday...

...and at Westminster Cathedral, after the packed Sung Mass, children were given flowers to give to their mothers.

Recently I had the privilege of meeting Abigail Witchalls, the brave young mother paralysed from the neck down following a random stabbing attack in Surrey. Her Catholic faith and her great courage have been an inspiration to people across Britain.

And while on the subject of mothers, here is a brief but relevant comment about the present Government's policies...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Be ready for...

...some sustained attacks on the Church over the next weeks, as attempts are made to shipwreck the plans for the Holy Father's visit later this year.

Get yourself informed and get thinking. Get reading. Get involved.

Ignorant and prejudiced...

...attacks on the Holy Father in today's Times. This has echoes of the rubbish printed about John Henry Newman a century and a half ago.

A happy, happy day... a delightful family gathering to celebrate the engagement of two dear young people, with a magnificent Tea complete with scones (with jam and clotted cream), and qauntities of delicious Cakes, and smoked salmon sandwiches, and champagne, and more...all in a glorious setting in a particularly lovely corner of England,with different generations of the two families meeting and talking and enjoying themselves, and small children scattered cheerily about, and a log fire glowing, and young friends of the happy pair laughing and chatting and making introductions...

It was an afternoon to make an auntie's heart rejoice.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This week...

...I attended a study day organised by the Council of Christians and Jews. We were welcomed to the very beautiful Bevis Marks synagogue in the City of London. It is place which has a tangible sense of prayer, 350 years old and still in use for regular worship both on the Sabbath and on weekdays.

By coincidence, two items came my way this week. One was a rather horrid feature in an American publication, in which the Holy Father's recent visit to a synagogue was mentioned, and the impression given that he was rudely treated, which he certainly was not. It was written by a "traditionalist" Catholic and was frankly offensive as well as inaccurate. The other, arriving today, was the March issue of Catholic World Report which not only has a lively and accurate report on the synagogue visit, which was a huge success, the Holy Father being several times interrupted by applause, but also a detailed and interesting analysis of current Catholic/Jewish relations. Papa Benedict has done more than anyone else to further the theological discussions at the heart of all of this, and has some profound and important insights which a number of leading members of the Jewish community have appreciated and valued. We can expect this to be taken a lot further.

It is horrible that the media - aided,alas by the ability of the Internet to communicate widely any inaccuracy that gets into the mainstream press and to magnify its message a thousandfold - is seeking to push a message of Catholic/Jewish tension.

But I am at a loss to understand why any Catholic would want to do do the same. Why would any Catholic seek anything other than good relationships between Catholics and Jews?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Nominations are invited for the 2010 Catholic Women of the Year. The idea is to honour the "unsung heroines" who take on responsibilities and carry out service to others in steadfast and perhaps unobtrusive ways. The nomination can simply be a letter from a friend, colleague, parish priest or even a family member setting out the facts in a brief way.

The idea is to honour women who in their homes and families, in public office or in their business or professional lives, are seeking to live and uphold the Church's teachings with love and dedication. Letters can be typed or handwritten, and should be sent to:Mrs Janette Woodford, 22 Milton Rd, WARE, Herts SG12 0PZ or emailed by APRIL 24th.

This is your chance to honour a lady from your parish who has given real practical service.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Horrible things...

...are emerging about sexual abuse in some Catholic institutions.

We really do need to stay sane and let facts speak. Some facts will be ghastly, and action will be needed. But many people are innocent and their association with schools or institutions will now haunt them in a most unjust way.

Mgr Georg Ratzinger, brother of the Pope, was choirmaster at Regensburg for some thirty years, beginning in the middle 1960s, after the events being recalled took place. But just to make his own position clear, he added that he had occasionally given boys a cuff round the ear, and now felt rather bad about it.

Oh, dear. I can remember being smacked a couple of times by the nuns at my school for misbehaviour, and I truly couldn't call it abuse, and cannot claim that I felt any dreadful suffering or horror at the time, or feel it now in retrospect. (If I am honest, what I actually disliked far more was the sort of punishment that one recieved when much older - such as having a detention, which had somehow to be explained away at home).

In the post...

...comes a copy of NEW DIRECTIONS, the magazine of "Forward in Faith". There is a LOT happening among the Anglicans as they look ahead, and a lot of real heartache as well as hope, as decisions are pondered.

This (March) edition of ND has the text of a talk given by Bishop Peter Elliott, auxiliary in Melbourne, giving a full explanation of the Ordinariate, what it's all about, and what it will mean...recent comments by Cardinal William Levada are also relevant...

RCs who think "Oh, this is nothing to do with us" are wrong. What happens to the Church of England affects us all, and shapes the culture in which we live and work...and more importantly, if even a tiny number of Anglicans opt to become part of an Anglican Ordinariate, this will have far-reaching significance and open up potential for many good things. Don't sneer, and don't revert into tribal enclaves...for many decades now, there have been prayers for Christian unity, and God hasn't been ignoring these. The present Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, was deeply involved in discussions and prayers and exchanges of ideas and publications and conferences with Christians in a number of denominations who shared a concern that the great truths of the Christian Faith were under attack, from within Christianity as well as from without. There has long been a recognition that this was re-shaping an ecumenical discussion that would move beyond the old boundaries. Keep praying.

This is a good read...

...on a topic which is important for Catholics in Britain as well as in America. An American Bishop looking at Christianity and its place in America today...the legacy of JFK, etc...

Monday, March 08, 2010


...I gave a talk in which the topic of contraception and the Pill came up, and the result was an extremely loud and vociferous shouting match. In particular, several of the teenage girls present were on the Puill, having been told that they needed it "to regulate me" as one put it. I am not convinced they are being given accurate information. Here's an example of material that needs discussing.

Friday, March 05, 2010

I missed...

... the Spectator debate about England becoming a Catholic country, and have been hearing about it from all sorts of people who were there. It sounds a terrific evening. You can get a flavour by reading the speech by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's speech here...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Bishops...

of England and Wales have issued a statement that looks ahead to the forthcoming General Election. It's not particularly thrilling or inspiring, but makes some good points: after an introduction by Archp Vincent Nichols, and some preliminary general comments about the need for trust in society, and the importance of virtue, the first section on a specific topic is headed LIFE ITSELF and states:
"The principle of the common good requires that the essential
dignity of every human life is upheld because our life is not
our property to dispose of but a gift to treasure. When this
principle is abandoned, then a zero has been introduced
into the calculation of the common good. The abortion
of the unborn, and euthanasia even when voluntary, are
a fundamental denial of this principle, because both are
concerned with exclusion from the human community,
both are contrary to the common good."

There is also a good section on marriage - although it might have been wise to spell out that by "marriage" is meant the union of one man and one woman with the intention of becoming a family together.

I understand a more detailed document will be issued nearer to the Election.

Meanwhile, here is Auntie's take on the continuing discussion about sex education...

The National Secular Society...

...was today grandly announcing that it was handing in a petition at Downing Street urging the Prime Minister to ban the visit of the Holy Father.Pointless, silly, and nasty of them, and a far cry from the line they used to take, in the days when the proud claim of secularists was that they supported tolerance, let's-hear-all-points-of-view etc etc. Remember when they used that line about "I disagree entirely with what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it"? Not any more, evidently. They don't like what the Church teaches, and they don't like the chap teaching it, they don't think that he should recieve the normal courtesies when visiting Britain.

Specifically, they don't like the Christian understanding that homsexuality is wrong, they don't like the Church having a male priesthood. They have tried to claim that the H. Father has "rehabilitated" the Lefebvrist Dr Williamson (he hasn't - see the Pope's own letter here ) whose vile rants about the Holocaust are in direct denial of the facts of history and of the Pope's own statements on the subject.

In fact the Nat Sec. Soc. is struggling to find legitimate reasons for being tiresome about the Pope's visit: the last one was a success, and Catholics have an infuriating habit of enjoying large cheerful gatherings: attempts to stir up trouble in Oz over World Youth Day melted when hordes and hordes of pleasant young people arrived in Sydney, and with singing and friendliness and prayer and goodwill made the city a joyful place to everyone's enjoyment.

Now Nat. Secular Soc. members need to know this: the Church will never deny them the enjoyment of the universities, hospitals, schools, art, music, scientific and medical knowledge that she has fostered and built and formed and nourished down the centuries. Any time they want to establish some Secular Society set of homes for the poorest of the poor, or orphanages for war victims, or clinics in the most remote and grim of districts, or colleges, or schools, or care for people living on rubbish-dumps, or hospices for the dying, or medical care for the sick and blind and disabled, or opportunities for the impoverished young to be educated, or free food for the starving...Catholics will be only too glad. And if some international Secularist spokesman connected with all this were to visit Britain we wouldn't grudge the money spent on policing the crowds who wanted to cheer him or directing the traffic the traffic they created, or arranging for him to have a cup of tea with the Queen.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Speaking... a delightful gathering of a Catholic book club - convivial, talkative, cheerful. Lots of excellent books to buy or borrow.

I remember, back in the 1980s, being part of a small working party looking at the future of the Church in Britain and being told that by the year 2000 the Church in this country would have disappeared completely. It hasn't. Daft to try to predict the future. Among the developments not foreseen were the New Movements, the explosion in Catholic publishing and the numbers of people who would be prepared to buy the resulting books, and the influence of initiatives that seemed remote and far-away, such as World Youth Day...and having an international Catholic TV network broadcasting in Britain would have seemed virtually incredible twenty years ago...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In a rush...

...a quick visit to the Isle of Wight, where among other things I had a meeting with the publisher of latest book A Nun with a Difference (lovely review in the current magazine of the Assn of Catholic Women)...the sun was sparkling on the Solent, and it was lovely to be in Cowes with its shops and cafes and boats...while on the train and ferry I got stuck into Maryvale work on the Synoptic Gospels. I find sandwiching academic study with journalism and other writing and domesticity rather exhiliarating...previous essay, duly marked and graded, came back today(no, I'm not telling you what grade I got) and already thoughts whizz ahead to this summer's exams...

Spent part of the weekend with young good to relax and enjoy their company. Small great-nephew and great-niece utterly enchanting, splashing in puddles in wellies, running around the grounds of the castle in the local park, and singing along as we headed back for tea "Time to go home/ time to go home/ The clock in the High Street says 'Time to go home'..." (adapted from TV children's programme of my v. early youth - oldies will know the tune...)

Lord Carey...

...former Archbishop of Canterbury, is much quoted in the press today on the subject of Christians being bullied by politicians, and Christianity being marginalised in our country. He's quite right, of course. It would be useful if his comments could stir people to a greater sense of the possibilities of challenging the ghastly culture that is fostering this bashing of Christianity. But the worst thing about it is the sense of defeat and inevitability that seems to surround the subject...some Catholics speak of imminent persecution with a sense of misplaced relish and glee.

"Remember" a Czech friend told me years ago "persecution works in crushing the Church.Of course it is true that there are brave people - often unexpected ones - who hold out and are an inspiration. But for huge numbers of people, the Church disappears, and they are left ignorant, uninstructed, and confused. What you get is a general feeling of hopelessness and cynicism,lots of dishonesty, people finding ways to cope and get along in life, a loss of daily contact with the things of God. People start to believe the anti-religious propaganda that they are given, and the Christians they meet may just appear bigoted, out-of-date, narrow-minded and not able to give answers. Don't make the mistake of thinking that it's all romantic." He was certainly correct with regard to his own country, where despite the heroic witness and sterling qualities of Vaclav Havel,and his recognition of the great spiritual truths on which civilisation must be founded, the arrival of freedom has seen a continued decline in religious belief and a widespread sense of detrachment from historical Christianity. Young people brought up on trite slogans do not neccesarily opt for womething larger and more glorious when given the opportunity, nor is it easy to introduce it when material goals seem more important...

Pray for Britain.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Do get...

...the latest Catholic Herald. It has a feature interview with writer Brian Gail with a wonderful headline in which he speaks about "John Paul the Great". YES!!!!!


...published by the Catholic Truth Society on Lent and Easter: Catholic customs and traditions. It's £1.95p. Nice pic of hot cross buns on the cover. As author, I got 50 free copies, and so was able to give one to each member of the parish Confirmation class when I spoke to them the other day...but you can get your copy from the CTS,by clicking here.

BTW, the CTS is sponsoring a project for children at Catholic primary schools in Britain, for the Pope's visit,working with the Association of Catholic Women... Want to join in? Contact the CTS and ask for a brochure...