Monday, 15 December 2014
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 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
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
I saw this in the newsletter of a parish church in the diocese of Clifton:
Synod on the Family: The Clifton diocese branch
of A Call to Action (ACTA) will hold a meeting on 15
November, at St Nicholas of Tolentino, Lawfords
Gate, Bristol, BS5 0RE, to discuss issues arising out
of the current general synod on the family. For
ordinary Catholics these issues are some of the
most important and topical of the challenges facing
the church and the views of the laity may be highly
relevant. The meeting will be assisted by a
Dominican friar, Fr Peter Hunter OP of Blackfriars,
Oxford who will provide expert theological guidance.
Coffee at 10.30, the meeting will begin at 11.00 am
and finish by 4.00 pm. Please bring a packed lunch.
All are welcome. Admission is free, though there will
be a retiring collection to help to defray expenses.
I well remember Deacon Nick Donnelly’s reports on ACTA, which indicated that it appeared to be popular among those who dissented from the teachings of the Church. If this is still the case, then goodness me, the weird goings-on at the Secret Synod, and the strange Relatio, are likely to provide plenty of excitement. I hope Fr Hunter can steer them along the right path.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
From the Linen on the Hedgerow blog, Saturday, 11 October, 2014:
It is with great personal sadness that we, the Collins Family, must inform the loyal followers of Linen on the Hedgerow, that our beautiful father, husband and grandfather, Richard Collins, has died peacefully at home this morning surrounded by those who loved him most. He was blessed to receive the Last Rites and Holy Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at his bedside. Please pray for the repose of his soul.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
Readers of Richard Collins’s blog, Linen on the Hedgerow, are aware of his illness.
I have just read a comment under his most recent post, bringing the sad news that his life is drawing to a close.
I invite my own readers to join me in praying for him, and for his wife and family.
Sunday, 5 October 2014
Following the election of Pope Francis, I adapted and continued to say the following prayer, which I had originally started to say in the reign of Pope Benedict. You are all familiar with it, I'm sure:
Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.Some way into the present pontificate, I began to struggle with the words of the prayer. I had a sense of facing a barrier, an increasing reluctance. It was a strange experience, and made me rather unhappy.
May the Lord preserve him, give him long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
You are Peter;
And upon this Rock I will build My Church.
Let us pray:
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on Your servant, Pope Francis, the Pastor of Your Church. Grant that his word and example may inspire and guide the Church, and that he, and all those entrusted to his care, may come to the joy of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
And yet of course it is very - very - important to pray for Pope Francis. Some weeks ago I decided to switch to what is perhaps a fairly standard set of prayers for the Pope, often recommended to accompany a work for an indulgence: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, and the Hail Holy Queen. They are less directional, and also less emotional, than the specific prayer quoted above. I pray most earnestly for our present Pope , but I prefer to leave the details to the Lord. I am surprised to observe how much more peaceful I feel for having done this.
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Pope Francis offered Mass on 28th September 2014 for the members of the Vatican Gendarmerie. Here is a link to a report on the occasion, by Kerri Lenartowick for the Catholic News Agency.
The report explains that “While the Swiss Guards are primarily dedicated to protecting the Pope, the Gendarmes are responsible for the security and public order of Vatican City.”
Pope Francis returned to a theme he has touched on a number of times in his pontificate: that of gossip. I reprint here the bulk of the article, which is fairly short.
Pope Francis said the police force must not only defend the Vatican against thieves or attacking armies.
“Napoleon is not coming anymore,” he quipped.
Instead, the “war here today is rather something else.”
“It is a war that is not waged with the weapons that we recognize: it is a war waged with the tongue,” he explained.
Pope Francis told the police force to be attentive to gossip within the Vatican walls.
“If (you hear) someone gossiping, stop him! (Say) ‘here there can be none of that: walk out of St. Anne’s Gate. Go outside and talk there! Here you cannot!’”
This spiritual war is one of light and darkness, said the Pope.
On the eve of the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the Gendarmerie’s patron saint, Pope Francis asked for his intercession.
“We ask St. Michael to help us in this war: never speak ill of each other, never open your ears to gossip,” the Pope said.
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Antonio Socci, in his blog Lo Straniero, has asked for a Novena from 4th to 12th September, for our persecuted fellow-Christians. Sorry I don’t have time to translate it, but he proposes a Rosary each day for this most urgent of causes. The Italian blogs I read have been promoting his initiative.
Saturday, 9 August 2014
Today is a day of fasting, and this is a weekend of prayer, for the persecuted Christians of Iraq. I can hardly bear to turn on the news these days, for fear of learning of some fresh horror.
Let us pray also for the Yazidi community, whose people are suffering so dreadfully on that waterless mountain, and have the additional anguish of knowing that many of their daughters have been taken into unspeakable captivity by the hideously violent fanatics of ISIL.
May I please urge all my readers: Please give whatever you can manage to Aid to the Church in Need, or to similar charities in your countries. Everything helps.
Image copied from the ACN website.
Sunday, 27 July 2014
I am happy to publicise the Young Catholic Adults’ National Weekend, which is to be held at Douai Abbey, Berkshire, from 19th to 21st September 2014.
Full details are available on the YCA website, here.
In order to guarantee your place, Douai Abbey have asked that all bookings be received by no later than 3 weeks before the start of the weekend, i.e. by 29th August.
I’m sure that a wonderful time will be had by all!
Thursday, 24 July 2014
This is my translation of an article in Corrispondenza Romana dated 23 July 2014. It concerns the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and in particular, the involvement in the Commissariamento of a certain éminence grise, who is profiled in the article. I think this is a very strange business, to put it mildly.
Who is Mario Castellano?
By Emmanuele Barbieri
One year on from the start of the Commissariamento of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the fate of the Institute is now in the hands of a triumvirate composed of Father Fidenzio Volpi, the Commissioner designated by the Congregation for Religious, of Father Alfonso Bruno, the “parricidal” Franciscan, and of an eccentric character, in the shadows up to now, but more active than ever as consultant to the policing operation: “Professor” Mario Castellano. So who is this man?
Mario Castellano was born in Imperia, in 1949, in a well-to-do family. His father Adolfo, a former commercial representative of Scotti rice, was a white partisan [presumably a reference to World War II – DB] and town councillor for the Christian Democrats; his uncle was Ismaele Mario Castellano, Archbishop of Siena. The young Castellano, after receiving his degree in jurisprudence, took the title of lawyer, a profession which he did not practise. His political sympathies have always been on the left. More precisely, he comes from the left-wing of the Christian Democrats, and in Imperia he is remembered as a Cathocommunist. It is also said that since the Nineties, Castellano has been affiliated to the Grand Orient of Sanremo. We await the interested party’s denial of this rumour.
Even though he had never been a professor, he taught law at the University of Managua, soon after the Sandinistas had taken power. (It was from ideological motives that our man moved to Nicaragua for a while, marrying a Nicaraguan woman there, from whom he separated a few years later.) He has collaborated on various websites and blogs, of esoteric and pro-Islamic orientation, before becoming the “right arm” or, according to some, the “left mind”, of Father Alfonso Bruno, whom he met at the Boccea house and has accompanied at times in the inspections of the “rebel” houses.
Since 2005 Castellano has written enthusiastically: in defence of the rights of Musims in Italy; in favour of multiculturalism; on the adjustment of our juridical system to the rights of Muslims; on the shared home of all (believers and non-believers, and believers of all Faiths). (1)
In 2008 he declared himself in favour of the removal from the “Tridentine” Missal of everything that could offend Jewish sensibility. Furthermore, in a positive and charitable tone, the author presented esotericism as one of the three motives for us Catholics being “condemned for eternity” to fight against the Muslims and Jews. (2) In islam-online in 2010 he described Islamic mosques as “a factor of stability and security”. (3)
On 8 April 2011, in an event of the Lions Club of Sanremo, in support of the Italian Risorgimento, Mario Castellano gave a talk on “Cavour Today” [Attualità di Cavour]. (4) Castellano showed evident sympathy for the Italian statesman, who was a noted anticlerical influenced by English-style Freemasonry.
On 12 June 2012 www.mediatrice.net posted an anonymous article, in fact by Castellano, Europe Moving towards Federation? (5) The author of the article reveals himself as an enthusiastic admirer of the French Revolution and of the European Superstate, likening the crisis throughout Europe today to that which France suffered on the eve of the Revolution. The crisis then had its outlet in a revolutionary act by which the States-General, proclaiming themselves the Constituent Assembly, initiated the Revolution. Today the direct assumption by the European Union of the public debt of certain States, and of the private debt of certain banks, is considered as a revolutionary decision which opens up the way to a Federation of European States.
In the course of the French Revolution the clergy then split, between the “priest-jurors” who adhered to the schismatic civil Constitution of the Clergy and the “refractory clergy” who remained faithful to the Church of Rome.
Castellano’s sympathy is for the schismatic priests, as is evinced from this passage: “When Napoleon, in 1801, was to draw up the Concordat with Pius VII, the “refractory clergy” were to be pardoned and readmitted to the exercise of the ministry, while the work carried out by the “priest-jurors” during the previous decade was to be recognised and rectified from the Canonical point of view. Those who had chosen to remain faithful to the Nation had therefore acted correctly, from the point of view of the State, as well as from the point of view of the Church of France.” [The link provided here by Corrispondenza Romana does not work – DB]
Mario Castellano has always distinguished himself, furthermore, by his violent attacks on uncompromising Catholics who are lovers of Tradition. Perhaps it is for this reason that he is loved in his turn by Commissioner Volpi and by the Congregation for Religious, who treasure his advice.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
The journalist Edward Pentin has tweeted this item of information, or possibly speculation, which appeared today on the Yahoo Italian news site. Here is the relevant extract, translated by me:
Tomorrow’s press conference could also, however, be the occasion for other announcements. According to a leak, there will also be announced the creation of a new Secretariat for Communication, a new dicastery stretching out to coordinate all the communication channels of the Holy See (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Press Office, Osservatore Romano, Radio Vatican). According to the leak, the name of Lord Chris Patten has emerged in “pole position” for the job of president of this organisation. He is aged 70, a British politician, a devout Catholic (he was the organiser of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010).
Picture from The Guardian newspaper, via Google Images
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
On the site of Messa in Latino there is a report, with pictures, of the accidental damage done to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The text is as follows:
A fire broke out in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, less than 48 hours after the visit of Pope Francis.
A small fire developed in the night because of the accidental fall of an oil lamp in the Grotto of the Nativity beneath the Basilica, it was reported yesterday by Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the Palestinian governor of the little city in which Jesus was born.
The alarm was raised at about 4.30 a.m. by a guard who noticed the smell of burning.
The flames damaged some hangings inside the Grotto and blackened the walls of the monument, which has been part of the Patrimony of UNESCO since 2012 and is being restored, a task on which two Italian firms are also working.
Thursday, 22 May 2014
I reported here on the splendid open letter from Fr Buzzi of Bangladesh that was published on Sandro Magister’s Chiesa. Fr Buzzi has now written a new letter, full of good things on the subject of the divorced-remarried. Here is the link to it.
If Chiesa isn’t already on your regular reading list, I recommend it to you.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
I'm afraid I don't have time to translate all of this article, written by Roberto di Mattei for Correspondenza Romana. However, here is the nub of it, and it is quite a bombshell, though one which the Sisters may well have been expecting.
I expect Rorate Caeli or another English-language site will publish the entire article in the near future.
"On Monday 19 May 2014, Cardinal Joäo Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, announced to the Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the nomination, with immediate effect, of a "Visitatrix" for the Institute, with powers of severe control which in fact are equivalent to those of a "Commissioner".
In line with this, Sister Fernanda Barbiero has been installed in the mother-house [at Frattocchie, Rome, I think - DB]. Sister Fernanda belongs to the Istituto Suore Maestre Santa Dorotea. She is an "adult", up-to-date religious, of moderately feminist tendency, a follower, though belatedly by some years, of the "integral humanism" of Maritain."
Picture from holycrossbooks,co.uk, via Google Images.