Monday, 14 September 2015

A scrappy collection of troubling words

Please excuse the scrappiness of this post. I just wanted to gather together a few things that have been said by Pope Francis, or have been reported as having been said by him. I have capitalised the words which struck me as troublesome. I don't want to state it more strongly than that.

First, Rorate Caeli, on the surprise meeting with the Pope which the beleaguered Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate found themselves attending in June 2014:


† … the reference is exact and obviously is that of the Spiritual Exercises, in which Saint Ignatius says, in the 13th rule of true sentiment in the Church Militant: "To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it."

Next, from the site of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, at the start of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod:

“I ask you,” [the Pope] said, “to speak with frankness and listen with humility.” He concluded, saying, “Do so with tranquility and peace, for the Synod always takes cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – and THE PRESENCE OF THE POPE IS THE GUARANTEE FOR ALL AND THE SAFEGUARD OF THE FAITH”

Another extract from Rorate Caeli, quoting the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus:

… the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, WHO, BY FORCE OF HIS PASTORAL OFFICE IS WITH PETER THE GREATEST GUARANTOR OF CATHOLIC UNITY IN FAITH AND IN DISCIPLINE.

Again, Rorate Caeli, about an article in L’Osservatore Romano, explaining the background to the issuing of the Motu Proprio on annulments:
But how will the bishops or eparchs, most of all in large dioceses, be able to guarantee, at least in part and as a sign, their role as shepherds and judges? What is important is that the spirit of collegiality and communion among bishops under obedience to the Pontiff, begins to permeate the hearts and minds of the shepherds. The faithful are waiting with eagerness and love for such a metànoia and will nonetheless be patient in the Lord when faced with the good faith of their shepherds. The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Churches’ shepherds) TO THE SPIRIT WHO SPEAKS TO THEM THROUGH FRANCIS.

[By the way: please see the Italian original** of this passage at the end of my post. With some trepidation, I am going to suggest another translation of the words in italics:

“What is important is that the bishops’ spirit of collegiality and communion with what has been arranged by the Pontiff begins to permeate the hearts and minds of the shepherds.”

There is no mention of “under obedience to” in the Italian text. - DB]

Incidentally, I dare say many of you will already be following Ed Peters’s Canon Law blog. If not, I urge you to do so. Here is a taster on the subject of the Motu Proprio.


Ma come potranno i vescovi, o gli eparchi, soprattutto nelle grandi diocesi, assicurare, almeno in parte e come segno, questo loro compito di pastori giudici? Ciò che importa è che lo spirito di collegialità e comunione dei vescovi con quanto disposto dal Pontefice inizi a permeare il cuore e la mente dei pastori. I fedeli attendono con ansia e amore tale metànoia e saranno comunque pazienti nel Signore davanti alla buona fede dei loro pastori. L’anno del giubileo della misericordia attende questo segno di umile obbedienza da parte dei pastori delle Chiese allo Spirito che parla loro attraverso Francesco.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Will this be a Synod at all?

So, there is to be no general discussion at the October 2015 Synod. I thought general discussion by those attending was an inherent part of a Synod. Will this in fact be a Synod at all?

The small discussion groups will in effect be mini-synods. There will be no mid-proceedings report following these group discussions, and no subsequent general discussion. There will simply be a final address by Pope Francis. He alone will have received the results of the mini-synods. None of the bishops attending will know the outcome of any group’s discussion except that of his own, apart from what he can glean in personal conversations. None of them will know how accurately the Pope’s address represents the group discussions.

The question is: will fists be thumped onto desks in sufficient numbers, or with sufficient force, to prompt a hasty change of plan and the concession of a general discussion? In such an event the bishops will surely have to be given all the group reports, as raw data, and will each have to be granted the time to wade through them. Considering the reception of the mid-term report at the 2014 Synod, raw data would inspire more confidence. But it all depends on those fists on desks.

Fr Z
Monday Vatican

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Weekend for Young Catholic Adults, 31st October- 1st November

… at Aylesford Priory, Kent. Please note that the booking deadline is 18th September.

I have pasted the text below.

At the time of writing, I note that the YCA home page refers to the weekend as being at Douai Abbey. Nonetheless, everything else on the YCA site refers to its being at Aylesford Priory. Being of a nervous disposition, I’m slightly worried that you may end up in the wrong county. I’d be inclined to make absolutely sure that it’s Aylesford in Kent, and NOT Douai in Berkshire.

YCA National Weekend at Aylesford -in Association with the Scola Gregoriana of Cambridge

2015 Theme: “One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”Attributed to Saint Dominic.

Set in the heart of Kent, England, The Friars - Aylesford Priory - is an ancient religious house of the Order of Carmelites dating back to the 13th Century. Over the centuries and now today The Friars has become the destination for thousands of visitors. Fr. Gregory Pearson and noted author Donel Foley will be giving talks.

At the 2015 Young Catholic Adult Weekend, there will be:
· Sung/High Masses (EF),
· Gregorian Chant Workshops,
· Talks,
· Rosaries,
· Confessions,
· Marian Procession,
· Socials.
To book on to the weekend please go to the automated booking system*. [For some reason, my blog is playing up today and I can't get it to accept links. Please put Young Catholic Adults into your search engine and you will find a link to the booking system. DB]

*Please note Aylesford Priory have a booking deadline of 18th September, otherwise they reserve the right to release rooms for sale to other guests as required. Also they do not allow last minute refunds so any non-arrivals and/or cancellations made up to 3 days before the event will be non-refundable.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wonderful news from Portsmouth Diocese

The LMS Chairman’s blog has this welcome news from two English dioceses. The news from Warrington, in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, is very good. The news from Gosport, in the Diocese of Portsmouth, is astonishingly good. The extra element in the Gosport news is well summed up in Deacon Augustine’s comment on the LMS Chairman’s blog. I have pasted it here:
In further news about the Portsmouth appointment, Fr Serafino used to teach at a certain very successful seminary in Rome and has brought 7 seminarians with him along with a house of sisters of that same institute who will also be resident in Gosport.

The prayers and material donations of all who would like to support these friars and sisters would, I am sure, be greatly appreciated. Prayers for Bishop Egan too please - that St Michael would protect him in this courageous step.
Even before I read Deacon Augustine’s comment, Fr Lanzetta’s name had rung a bell with me. I tracked down a few posts, some in Italian, dating from the first year or so of the travails of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. As many of us know, the order was noted, among other things, for its growing love for the traditional form of the Mass. It also appears to have been distinguished by the quality of its spiritual care and by the theological calibre of certain prominent FFI priests. Fr Lanzetta is one such. During the distressing period of restrictions and closures, he was transferred from Florence to Kitzbühel. According to one post on the subject, his German-language skills at that time were thought to be insufficient for the confessional. I dare say they were polished up pretty smartly. And now, he is to serve on the south coast of England!

I imagine this arrangement predates the recent appointment of a new Commissar and two co-adjutors, all experts in Canon Law, following the recent death of the first Commissar, Fr Volpi. If not, the powers that be must have moved very swiftly. This is a real coup for Bishop Egan of Portsmouth, a blessing for his flock, and a fascinating and (I hope) optimistic development in the saga of the FFI.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

At last, a way to help Supertradmum

At last there is a way of helping the valiant Supertradmum, she of the splendid blog, Etheldreda’s Place, to go forward, if God wills, with her project of setting up a small house of prayer and contemplation.

Here is the link to a Go Fund Me page which will enable us to donate whatever we can manage.

God bless Supertradmum and her beautiful work for the Lord.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

How Many Paths to Salvation?

I read this post on Chiesa e Postconcilio, on 18th May 2015. After making a rough translation, I put it aside, thinking that perhaps Francesca Romana might translate it for publication on Rorate Caeli, but I don’t recall seeing it there. At the end of a few rather chaotic weeks on the domestic front, I have now taken some time to polish my translation to the point where I think it is fit to be seen.

It is a partial translation. I have omitted some paragraphs where indicated, and I think this helps to focus on the central message for the purposes of my post, which is that in the matter of who is to be saved, the Church has to do Her explicit, Christ-given duty, and leave the unknowns to God. I think Don Giorgio says it marvellously well, and I hope you agree.

Don Giorgio Ghio. How Many Paths to Salvation?

On hearing certain talks about non-Christian religions, one comes inevitably to ask oneself if the person speaking still believes in Christ as the unique Saviour of the world. Certainly, no one dares to deny it in an explicit and direct manner; the problem arises when one asks oneself by what ways Jesus saves men. According to a fundamental dogma of Catholic teaching, the way to reach salvation is faith in Him, which leads to Baptism; the Holy Gospel affirms this (cf Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16; Jn 3:3) and, in obedience to the divine Master, the Church has always taught thus, starting from the Apostles (cf Acts 2:38). Such a truth obviously presupposes the unavoidable obligation to announce to all men the salvation granted by God in His incarnate Son, dead and risen, with the consequent call to convert oneself to Him, abandoning false beliefs and changing one’s life. That which the Bride of Christ has always done in almost two millennia is certainly not proselytism, but a supreme expression of the same charity which the Bridegroom communicates to Her.

Nevertheless, right through from the middle of the last century to the present, on the basis of a vague but repeated mention in Vatican II (cf Lumen Gentium 16; Gaudium et Spes 22; Ad Gentes 7), people allow themselves to maintain that God would habitually save men even outside the visible confines of the Church; thus, not only has missionary activity ended up in a dramatic crisis, but a good part of the faithful have lost the sense, and the necessity, of their own membership of the mystical Body, of a worthy and frequent reception of the Sacraments and of an active faith, lived in the observance of the Commandments and in the practice of the evangelical virtues. This is indeed one of those cases in which a small crack provokes a collapse of gigantic proportions. In whatever manner it began, and leaving aside its catastrophic consequences, the idea that is now universally diffused and accepted, to the point of having become a species of new unquestionable dogma, has no foundation, either scriptural, or traditional, or magisterial.

In reality, what has been revealed to us is that “unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). Even supposing that this is only the ordinary way of salvation and that God, in order not to let innumerable souls be lost, has arranged purely hypothetical extraordinary ways, we know absolutely nothing about them. For the sake of intellectual and spiritual honesty we must recognise that, in divine Revelation, no trace can be found of these ways, while the command to evangelise the nations is affirmed in an absolutely unequivocal manner, in theory and in practice. If the risen Lord has not said a word about the eventual possibility of coming into contact with the paschal Mystery without an explicit faith in Him, and without fully belonging to the Church, but has peremptorily enjoined Her to preach and baptise to make these things possible, it has been precisely because this problem is not our business: how can one be saved who, through no fault of his own, does not know the Gospel … it is his own business; in any case, we have the duty of announcing it to him.

The person who then ventures to say that the other religions would be ordinary paths to salvation just as much as ours is, has evidently lost the very notion of Christian salvation, that which is revealed in the New Testament as a transcendent reality. A crass heresy such as this also sweeps away, at one single stroke, both the dogma of original sin and the necessity of the Redemption achieved by the Word incarnate with His death on the Cross.

Don Giorgio continues with an overview of the major world religions, concluding with a brief mention of religions such as animism and Voodoo. He then returns to the main theme of his essay:

Missionaries’ writings overflow with men transformed into birds or snakes, the walking dead, very powerful witch-doctors … reduced to powerlessness by the one holy name of Jesus. There will be only one reason, with all due deference to the desk-based theorists of inculturation and of interreligious dialogue to the bitter end: where Christ advances, the devil retreats. Now that the first is no longer preached, the second roams about, undisturbed, thanks to the theories of these “theologians” and “shepherds” who have taken the flock into exile. However, let him who wishes to be saved know that there is an infallible way, provided that he decides to enter upon it: it is the unique way, the way of all time. Seeing that we have known it for two thousand years, it would be truly foolish not to make it known also to him.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

End of Traditional Latin Mass on First Sundays at Prinknash Abbey

Very sad news from Young Catholic Adults. My husband and I have attended this Mass nearly every month, for a few years now.

YCA report that "The weekly Saturday Low Mass continues, for the moment; however, it should be noted that it no longer appears on the official weekly notices (although it remains on the main Prinknash website)."

My warmest thanks and prayerful good wishes to Father Damian, for all the care and kindness he has shown to his First Sunday congregation.

Photograph of Fr Damian from, via Google Images.

Monday, 30 March 2015

A letter we can sign to support our priests

This letter is going the rounds of the Catholic blogosphere, and I am happy to encourage my readers to sign it. I have linked here to Ttony’s post on The Muniment Room, but my own signature has been added by email to Mark Lambert, after seeing his post on his blog, De Omnibus Dubitandum Est.

There is a certain exhilaration to be experienced in doing what one can in these grim times.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Support for our Priests

I was very impressed to see the names of priests of Clifton Diocese among the signatories to a fine letter affirming the teaching of Christ’s Church on marriage.

Among them were priests of my own deanery – a special delight.

Cardinal Nichols of Westminster appears to have issued a response. It contains what looks remarkably like a warning to the signatories. His take on the matter is not entirely surprising.

Laurence England, author of the splendid blog That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill, has written this piece for The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, courteously but effectively chewing the Cardinal’s words into little pieces.

I warmly encourage my readers to add their names to this petition that has been started, for laypeople to show their support for the priests.

Picture from Google Images

Saturday, 14 March 2015

ACTA in Liverpool Archdiocese

The silencing of Deacon Nick Donnelly’s blog, Protect the Pope, has left us without his interesting updates on the doings of A Call to Action (ACTA). Here, to feed our hunger, is a fascinating account from the Archdiocese of Liverpool, brought to us via the News/Blog page of Alan and Angeline’s estimable website, Torch of the Faith.

It appears that ACTA are, to put it colloquially, up to all sorts! And in one of my former parishes, too!

I can’t select the particular article, so you may have to scroll down if further posts are added, but the title to look for is:

Fr. Daniel O'Leary - Speaker at the Dissenting Quest and ACTA Groups - Advertised on Archdiocese of Liverpool Website

I warmly recommend Alan and Angeline’s wonderful apostolate, and their regularly updated news blog, and I invite my readers to add Torch of the Faith to their list of frequent must-visit sites.

Monday, 9 February 2015

I'd be grateful for your prayers

Would you be very kind and say a prayer for the repose of the soul of my mother-in-law? She died this morning, at the age of 100.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

That Film about the Irish Monks and the Traditional Mass

Here is a quick translation of this interesting news from the blog Chiesa e Postconcilio:

A Prophetic Film!

In April 2013, we had already drawn attention on this blog to the film The Catholics (or The Conflict). Set in an imprecise future, after a phantom Vatican Council IV, the film describes the hierarchy’s persecution of Irish monks who return to the celebration of the Mass of all time. We recall it again now because it is possible to obtain an extended edition containing two missing scenes, each fundamental for the understanding of the film. The first is the conversation between Fr Kinsella (the Commissioner) and the Father General played by Raf Vallone. The second is the conversation between Fr Kinsella and the barman in the pub. The similarity to the affair of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is impressive.

I have included, above, the links provided by Chiesa e P. The DVD is available on Amazon here. Please note that an early version (perhaps the American release under the title The Conflict?) may be the one referred to as omitting the two important scenes. The new one, with the title The Catholics, is released in The Best of British Collection.

Significantly, among the various Amazon comments criticising the poor print quality (referring to the older one? I don’t know if the new version is better), one comment refers to the reappearance of the previously missing scenes, and advises purchasers to look for a version lasting 81 minutes, which is the length stated by this Best of British DVD in its product details. I can’t confirm either the quality or the inclusion of the scenes. I have just ordered a copy. At the time of writing this, they say they only have one left, but that they expect to have more in stock.

Picture from Google Images

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Belated Account of a Day in London

There have been many things during the year that I might have written about, but I have been rather debilitated by an illness that was diagnosed in the summer and must have been affecting me for some time before that. Happily, the condition is not life-threatening. The medication is now being reduced, very slowly, as my health improves.

It was last May, during the undiagnosed period, that I made the journey to London, to attend the second one-day conference of the Latin Mass Society. I happily recommend these conferences. If you get a chance to go to the next one, they are very much worth the effort.

It was a good job I had already bought my train tickets, otherwise I don’t think I would have gone. In addition to my reduced state of health, I had had an awful night’s sleep. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the train.

Top marks to the London cabbies, both from Paddington to the venue and back again; they were cheerful, kind and patient with this old woman as she struggled in and out of the taxi with the aid of her walking-stick.

All the talks at the conference were good, even inspiring. If you like, you can settle down with a cup of something and listen to them on this special Latin Mass Society site. The most famous speaker was Bishop Athanasius Schneider, but I commend all of them to you. There was also something about the first speaker, Joseph Pearce, that I found quite endearing: his London accent and his body language, combined with his open-hearted enthusiasm, made me think of him not only as a respected academic but also as a sort of cheerful Cockney geezer. I really liked that: it added charm to his excellent talk.

After that first talk, I began to struggle increasingly from the lack of sleep. During the penultimate talk I spent much of the time with my head slumped over my knees. At the end of the talk I called it a day, leaving, very reluctantly, without hearing the talk by Fr Michael Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay. And so I missed a wonderful experience, which for assorted reasons I only remedied a couple of days ago.

Father’s talk was entitled The Traditional Mass and Spirituality: “That we may relate it in another generation” (Ps. 47:14). I have jotted down a couple of prayers from it. The first is an ancient aspiration-prayer, which sounds as if it comes from a psalm, but I don’t know which. It features in various devotions:
“Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me.”
And here, the devotion of three Hail Marys, each followed by this aspiration:
“By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy; preserve me this day/this night from mortal sin.”
To sum up Fr Michael Mary’s talk, I can do no better than to quote two phrases he used: The Towers of Devotion, and the riches of the Catholic faith. They are present in abundance in his words.

Picture from the LMS site, via Google Images.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas to my readers

A very Merry Christmas to all my readers! May it be a happy day for you all, and either peaceful or boisterous, according to your lives and families. Or perhaps both, since strange contrasts can sometimes blend harmoniously.

God bless us all.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Companions-in-Faith of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor?

We are all aware of the controversy arising from Austen Ivereigh’s book about the 2013 Conclave. His account led to a series of denials, corrections, and careful uses of words which might have meant one thing or another.

Among the reactions, the Catholic News Agency had this report of the denial by four Cardinals of a claim by Ivereigh that they had played a particular role in the lead-up to the Conclave.

I was very much struck by the linking of the names of those four Cardinals: Murphy-O’Connor, Kasper, Lehmann and Daneels.

Was Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor really of like mind with the other three, in favouring Cardinal Bergoglio over all other candidates? For what reason? And if in this matter, in what other aspects of Catholicism, was he or is he of like mind with them?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Benedict re-writes his 1972 essay on divorce

Benedict XVI has carried out a major revision of his 1972 essay on the subject of the divorced who enter a subsequent, unrecognised union. Tancred , of The Eponymous Flower blog, has the heartening news, which is well worth reading.

It is encouraging to learn that “Now Pope Benedict XVI. no longer shares the view he held in 1972”.

The post ends as follows:
… Benedict XVI. defends the teaching of the Catholic Church. His position is not directed against anyone, but takes the side of the deposit of faith, which he sees clearly at risk. In other words: He takes position against all who oppose the Church's teaching whether it be Cardinal Walter Kasper and be it even Pope Francis.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Curate's Egg from Hell

Right Reverend Host. "I’m afraid you've got a bad Egg, Mr. Jones!"
The Curate. "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

This is the famous Punch cartoon, by George du Maurier, with an explanation here.

It was all disgusting, of course. But let us engage in a fanciful dissection of the egg. The thing is, the parts that were not excellent, were poisonous. And the question is, just how sick did he become, that poor, diffident curate who was so anxious to please his bishop that he felt obliged to look for whatever good he could find, averting his tastebuds from the badness?

And now, to this situation in the Holy Catholic Church. This is, I fear, the curate's egg from hell. A mixture of truth and falsehood, of inspired, orthodox words and wormlike corruptings of truth and morality. People's spiritual tastebuds and constitutions vary, just as their physical ones do. Poisoning may be sudden and catastrophic, or it may come in such small drops, or so well-disguised by other flavours, that its effects are slower and more insidious. Some of its victims may even exclaim "What a tonic this is!"

I once saw a news item about a football match in, I think, South Africa. An official was standing on the pitch, encircled by men with knives. They cantered round him, and every so often one of them lunged forward and stabbled him. Soon he began to stagger under the blows. His chest and back became stained with blood. I could watch no more.

You may wonder why I seem to have gone off-topic, but please bear with me. Here is Marco Tosatti, with the latest report on the slowly-circling assassination, in regard to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate:
FFI: "Watch out!" for the refugees.

At the margin of the business of the Assembly of the Italian Bishops at Assisi, we are informed of a fact that is certainly marginal but indicative of an atmosphere. An atmosphere that is not exactly idyllic. The fact is this: circulating among the bishops who took part in the Church assembly
was Fr Fidenzio Volpi, the Vatican's Commissioner of the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

The motive for the Commissioner's presence was not a casual one. According to what has been reported to us, by sources worthy of the greatest trust, the Commissioner approached now one bishop, now another, to dissuade them - let us put it in that way - from receiving into their dioceses the Friars of the Immaculate who do not find their identity in the new administration of the order, directed by the Commissioner and above all by the Secretary and spokesman, Fr Alfonso Bruno.

As has been noted already, both in this place and by others, the Commissioniong of the Franciscans of the Immaculate is distinguished both by the vagueness of the reasons given - in reality it has never been said for what concrete reasons the Congregation for Religious decided on the measure, except for an accusation of "crypto-lefebvrist" drift - and by the degree of internal conflict which it has provoked, and the severity of the reaction, of which this latest episode is a further confirmation.

In my ignorance, I ask myself why a religious who does not feel he can continue any longer inside a congregation must almost be forced to remain, instead of taking his priestly contribution to a diocese, at a time when vocations are not plentiful.

One might say, jokingly, that they too are refugees ... And that this is why the the Pontifical Commissioner betakes himself to Assisi to say "Watch out" to this or that bishop.

What can one say? This does not seem to us to be a good climate that we are breathing nowadays.

Monday, 3 November 2014

“… Starting with the Deconstruction of the Papacy in its Current Form”

Here is an interesting article, in English, which has just been published on Chiesa, the blog of L'Espresso’s Sandro Magister. Its title is:

Ecumenism Rewritten by Enzo Bianchi and Alberto Melloni

It starts as follows:

The leaders of the “school of Bologna” have a very ambitious new project in the works: a history of the movement for Christian unity aimed at a thorough reform of the Catholic Church, starting with the dismantling of the papacy in its current form. They believe they have an ally in Pope Francis.

Please read on, following this link to the article.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

2015 Synod Attendance: Whom Will the Conferences Elect?

It is sensible to remind ourselves that the 2015 follow-up Synod on the Family will not bring together all the bishops. They will be selected by their bishops’ conferences. Therefore, the bishops we hope to see there may not be there at all.

They are chosen as follows. First, from the Code of Canon Law, on the Synod of Bishops:

Can. 346 §1. A synod of bishops assembled in an ordinary general session consists of members of whom the greater part are bishops elected for each session by the conferences of bishops according to the method determined by the special law of the synod; others are designated by virtue of the same law; others are appointed directly by the Roman Pontiff; to these are added some members of clerical religious institutes elected according to the norm of the same special law.

Next, from Pope Paul VI’s Motu Proprio letter Apostolica Sollecitudo of 1966:

The Bishops who will represent individual national Conferences are to be chosen in this manner:
a) one for each national episcopal Conference which has 25 members or less;
b) two for each national episcopal Conference of no more than 50 members;
c) three for each national episcopal Conference which has more than 100 members.
The episcopal Conferences which take in a number of nations will choose their representatives on the same basis.
In choosing those who are to represent the episcopal Conferences of one or a number of nations and the religious institutes in the Synod of Bishops, great attention should be paid not just to the general knowledge and wisdom of individuals, but also to their theoretical and practical knowledge of the matter which the Synod is to take up.
The Supreme Pontiff may, if he so chooses, increase the number of members of the Synod of Bishops by adding bishops, or religious to represent the religious institutes, or clerics who are experts, to the extent of fifteen percent of the total number of the members mentioned in articles V and VIII.

The 1980 Synod of Bishops, on the subject of The Christian Family, took place in what was, in England and Wales, an atmosphere churned up by the National Pastoral Congress, which had been held in Liverpool earlier that year. As a resident of that archdiocese at the time, with a number of contacts among those who had attended the Congress or subsequent meetings and talks, I remember in particular that we were upset and worried by all the conflicting views that were being put forward on the Church, Her teachings, and the Mass. Some of these views were clearly in error.

One reported encounter stands out, given the situation in which we find the Church today. A person attended a talk in which a prominent priest of the archdiocese was challenged by a member of his audience to say whether the Church’s teaching against contraception was true. “Yes”, he was reported to have said, “in theory and in abstract”. The extension being planted into people’s minds was, of course: “But in practice and in reality …”. Haven’t we heard similar things in recent days, still going strong after more than three decades!

Incidentally, the priest on that occasion went on to become a very highly-placed member of the E&W hierarchy.

But back to the 1980 Synod in Rome. Two of our bishops were elected to attend it. They were Cardinal Hume of Westminster, and Archbishop Worlock of Liverpool.

Some time after the Synod, I read that the two men had agreed that each would press the Synod for change on a specific area: one would concentrate on contraception, the other on divorce-remarriage. As we know, they did not prevail. The following year, Pope John Paul II reiterated the Church's teaching in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio.

Interestingly, it is in this document that we find the clarification of another issue which appears to have been misrepresented at the recent Synod. Here is a reminder (with my emphasis) of what FC says on the question of gradualness, or graduality as some Synod Fathers have recently called it:

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. "And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations. In God's plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God's command with serene confidence in God's grace and in his or her own will."(95) On the same lines, it is part of the Church's pedagogy that husbands and wives should first of all recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae vitae as indicating the norm for the exercise of their sexuality, and that they should endeavor to establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm.

In conclusion, I repeat the important question, the great uncertainty: Whom will the conferences elect? We all know of some real heroes of the Faith amongst our bishops. If they are not chosen to attend, let us not be downcast. Let us pray and trust that the “God of Surprises” will visit the hearts of those who do attend. We may find ourselves astonished to learn that among the Fathers of the next Synod there are hitherto-unsuspected episcopal lions, inspired with courage and with loving zeal for the true guidance of souls.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Please pray for Pastor Emeritus

I have always appreciated the kindness and wisdom of dear Pastor Emeritus, Father Eamonn Whelan, who has posted many comments on my little blog. Now I am going to ask my readers to join with me in keeping Father in your prayers, because he is ill. The following was published today on his blog:

Just over a month ago I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. It was a false alarm, for which I was truly grateful as I have had more than enough illnesses, I thought, during past six years!

However during the four days I was an in-patient other tests, including CT scan and cardiogram, were performed. Result: - lung cancer and 3 blocked arteries. After long discussion with consultant I decided against targetted deep radium treatment, though I agreed to have work done on arteries. That latter job is due tomorrow, Thursday. So a prayer would be appreciated. I received Sacrament of the sick yesterday.

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.