Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saturday, April 25, 2020

How has Auntie Joanna been spending time in lockdown? once stage, doing a lot of nursing.   Laterally, lots of writing, proof-correcting, fact-checking.

Attending Mass on-line now feels quite routine.  Greeting neighbours, from a safe distance, has become pat of life.


Guy Nichols   Unearthly Beauty, The Aesthetic of St John Henry Newman

The Spectator -  10,000th edition, a grand read

Michael Bourdeaux One word of Truth - the story of Keston College

and some Georgette Heyer

and sewing...or. rather un-sewing. A sampler for a dear niece's wedding, now postponed. Carefully unpicking the date, ready to embroider the new one when this lockdown is over.

Monday, April 20, 2020

A hard-working nurse...

...contacted me to say, from the heart,  that it's quite wrong to say there is no pressure on hospitals (see my post yesterday). They are all under enormous pressure, and things are extremely challenging and difficult.

I - we - do all recognise that, and no one should for a moment suggest that somehow doctors, nurses and the other exhausted staff should somehow just be expected to "cope" with whatever happens next in his grim virus saga. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Time to plan for lifting the lockdown...

....the Great Crisis In The Health Service  has been avoided as people have locked down, and done all that they were told to do. There are now empty beds in the new Nightingale Hospital, and in the other hospitals that were alerted for a Coronavirus crisis.  Even if things do peak, the NHS can now cope.

So it is time to start lifting the lockdown.

I don't need to be told about what it's like caring for the sick, as I have been spending time doing that.  I do need to tell people that most sufferers from the coronavirus will not need to go to hospital, and  that the few who do can now be assured that beds are ready.  The worry now is that the decisions that need to be made will not be made, because of a fear of a public and media-scented backlash...after weeks of being told to stay at home, and of obeying, people now feel that's the only thing to do...and some won't like the idea of facing the next challenge. But it can't be put off for ever...we must now accept that there is going to be a tough time as we start to return to work and rebuild our community networks. We must get on and help one another.

I am getting rather tired of well-do-do people in comfortable homes with gardens writing about the joys of listening to birdsong and appreciating long hours of reading and relaxing., and saying that the lockdown is really rather fun.   What about people stuck on the 14th floor of a concrete block of flats with no garden? Young people facing a jobless future?  People seeing their life's work and family security draining away? Lonely people - there are so many - who need more than just some telephone calls? And all the community networks that make for civilisation: schools, colleges, choirs,  clubs, sports,  societies with their talks and projects, churches, evening classes, youth groups, hobby groups...and much, much  more...

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

...and on sunny days....

....working on the proofs of latest book, in the intervals of cooking and nurse-duties and washing sheets and towels in Dettol etc etc...

Our neighbours are being wonderful and kind, and there is a great sense of people rallying-round. There are waves and greetings in the street when I go out  to the front of the house to enjoy some fresh air in the garden,  and somehow everyone seems to be making an extra effort to be neighbourly and pleasant.

Some good news today: schools are participating in the annual Schools Bible Project - run by an ecumenical group that I chair - so the lockdown hasn't wrecked it. This is our 31st year, and entries have been arriving - so our committee member in charge of this tells me - so that there is now a good stack awaiting the day when the judges can meet and read them.

More on Cardinal George Pell here...

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


... interview with Cardinal George Pell

An innocent man, victim of the grotesque miscarriage of justice. And a witchunt led by a taxpayer-funded national broadcasting corporation.

Monday, April 13, 2020

You really must read...

....this interview with the Pope....praising Humanae Vitae, quoting Virgil, talking about hope and urging the young to be prophetic...

Sunday, April 12, 2020

...and a strange Easter...

....following a Mass on-line from this church in London, at home, in the intervals of hanging out towels and bedding washed in Dettol etc.

My patient is getting better - these have been worrying days - and thanks to a kind neighbour who has been doing our shopping,  I was able to cook a good Easter lunch, with lamb cutlets and roast parsnips and potatoes.  Last year's rich summer  of blackberries and plums is still providing pies and puddings, and I  raided the freezer to make a plum sponge pudding served with cream. And relatives had sent a splendid Easter egg with our names on it!  So we had a lovely Easter day...all in lockdown.

Watched the Pope in Rome - his slow and deliberate way of celebrating Mass is quietly reassuring, and  the use of the Cross that dates back to a former plague era puts things in a wider and deeper perspective.

And all over Britain, Easter was being marked, just as it has been for centuries.  Why don't more of us mark it in some quietly public way like  the family with this window?

Friday, April 10, 2020

The strangest Maundy Thursday... a Church in lockdown sought to  honour these sacred days...

Caring for a very sick relative keeps one busy.

At 6.30pm, I tuned in, if that's the expression, to the on-line Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. It was somehow reassuring - the church was the same as ever, and one could even hear the trains rumbled past as they always do. The great crucifix above the high altar was of course draped in its Passiontide cloth.

As Mass began, the feeling was somehow just like being there...the Mass was real, and I was praying with it.

A powerful moment: usually, at the Chrism Mass, all the priests of the diocese reaffirm their ordination promises, and a great roar of men's voices fills the packed Cathedral. This Holy Week, none of that was possible. Each priest was asked to reaffirm his promises at the Holy Thursday Mass.  So there was this one, clear, firm voice, in the empty church, stating his name and making those solemn promises with conviction and clarity, and it was extraordinarily moving.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

A man of honour....

Innocent  Cardinal George Pell has released this statement 
I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.
This has been remedied today with the High Court's unanimous decision.
I look forward to reading the judgment and reasons for the decision in detail.
I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.
However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.
The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.
The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.
A special thanks for all the prayers and thousands of letters of support.
I want to thank in particular my family for their love and support and what they had to go through; my small team of advisors; those who spoke up for me and suffered as a result; and all my friends and supporters here and overseas.
Also my deepest thanks and gratitude to my entire legal team for their unwavering resolve to see justice prevail, to throw light on manufactured obscurity and to reveal the truth.
Finally, I am aware of the current health crisis. I am praying for all those affected and our medical frontline personnel.
Cardinal George Pell


....Cardinal George Pell is free, his conviction overturned.

Thanks be to God.

Now the evil witch-hunt against him must be examined...

An innocent man has spent time in prison for a crime he could not possibly have committed.
Now the investigations must begin

Sunday, April 05, 2020

In May, it will be 100 years...

...since the birth of St John Paul II, one of the greatest men of our era.

This film will commemorate him, and looks set to be well worth watching....


...spoke to us this evening, and  was, as always, splendid.

If you didn't watch, you should You can do so here

She said she hoped that
"those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country"

Friday, April 03, 2020

Talking on a Catholic radio station in the USA....

....from lockdown of life's surreal experiences. I did it last night, at 10pm, on Ave Maria Radio....talking about the re-dedication of England to Our Lady, its history and significance...

Working on the May/June issue of FAITH magazine...if you'd like a sample copy of the magazine (March/April issue)  email me at

And reorganising various projects for schools, working out ways of enabling children to take part while schools are not open...

And, during long evenings, posting out to clergy across the dioceses of Westminster and Southwark, our annual "Thank you" cards, which would normally have been given out at the Chrism Masses.

Meanwhile, looking beyond the lockdown, and clinging to Prince Charles' words about this thing some day being over,  making some plans for the Autumn...