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.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

ACTA in Bristol to discuss the Synod

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

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

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

Please pray for Richard Collins

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

Personal thoughts on praying for the Pope

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.
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.
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.

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

Gossip and the Vatican Security Corps

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

From Today, 4th September: A Novena for the Persecuted

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

Let us fast, pray and give

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

19-21 September: Young Catholic Adults' National Weekend

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

The FFI: Here is something very odd.

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 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

I hope this is not true ....

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

The Nativity Grotto Fire: More Photographs

More pictures of the damage at the Nativity Grotto can be seen here, at the blog Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes.

Might Have Been Worse: Fire Damage to the Grotto of the Nativity

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

The Communion of Desire: More Good Things from Bangladesh

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

News about the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

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,, via Google Images.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Aid to the Church in Need, and a Place of Life

One of the things I like so much about Aid to the Church in Need is that it nourishes both body and soul. It goes to the peripheries, with the outpouring of God’s love and the fullness of fidelity to Christ’s teaching and that of His Church.

Some of you may not yet have discovered the blog The Eponymous Flower. It has just published this moving and inspiring account of the valiant work carried out by Father Michael Shields, a priest of the Order of the Little Brothers of Jesus. His apostolate is in the town of Magadan, close to the far eastern coast of Russia, and a place of bitter cold and also of bitter associations with the terrible Gulags.

See what beautiful things are being done! His work is helped by Aid to the Church in Need, and if you feel you could spare a small or even a tiny monthly donation, what a difference the cumulative amount could make to someone’s life and spiritual comfort.

It’s very easy to do. Please consider finding out how you could help, by following this link to the Aid to the Church in Need website.

Monday, 12 May 2014

On Communion for the Remarried, a Letter from Bangladesh

Dear readers, I dare say many or perhaps all of you visit Sandro Magister's blog, Chiesa, which is available in Italian, English, French and Spanish.

In case you have not yet seen it, I must share this post with you. Magister publishes a letter he has received from an old friend, who has been a missionary priest for many years in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh. How well he has taught the faithful Catholics in his care! I particularly like the concise beauty of his teachings on the Sacraments, especially marriage, and his words on Holy Communion in regard to the divorced-remarried.

This is one of the joys of the Catholic blogosphere: that we who worry about the state of the Church as the Synod on the Family approaches, can be strengthened by our brothers and sisters all over the world.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

An Intercession for Which Our Two New Papal Saints are Well Qualified

The prudential decisions of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II have featured prominently in the dismay expressed by some bloggers over their canonisation.

When I look back over my life I can pick out a number of prudential, earthly-wisdom decisions which I regret having made. On the small scale of an ordinary person’s life, the ripples travel only so far; though possibly farther than we can know, and affecting others to an extent we do not know.

How much more harmful may be the effects of the unwise prudential decisions of a Pope! We cannot know the extent of the sorrow experienced by a Pope, as his life draws to a close, if he comes to realise that some of his sincerely-motivated decisions have turned out to be harmful to souls and to the Church.

I don’t want to focus on this or that decision made by former Popes. We know what times the Church is living through, and other writers have expressed their views as to the causes or combinations of causes. My purpose in this post is to propose our newly-canonised Popes as special intercessors in the run-up to the Synod on the Family; and this specifically because of their experience in office.

Pope Francis certainly needs our prayers, and I think also the prayers of our new Saints, that his prudential judgments, and his pastoral decisions, may always be in alignment with the truths of the Catholic Faith. These truths being for the good of all souls.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Greetings

Just a very brief post, to wish my readers a very happy and blessed Easter.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Consistory Cardinals Opposed to the Kasper Report

I have just finished translating the following post from the estimable Italian-language blog, Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes, published by Don Luciano Micheli. I found it fascinating and heartening. It’s long, but I hope you will be glad to have persevered with it.

UPDATE: Rorate Caeli has also posted a translation of Marco Tosatti's article, which he wrote for La Stampa. Do go to the Rorate post: it contains other encouraging material. Let us be of good heart!


Is Doctrine the Enemy of Pastoralism?

The Secret Consistory: What Happened.
Following the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

In the Secret Consistory, in which the “Kasper theorem” of the divorced-remarried and the Eucharist was discussed, there was very little agreement, and many criticisms. Here is a reconstruction of some of the most significant and important interventions. “It would be a fatal error”, someone said, to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

Marco Tosatti writes:

The Consistory of 22 February, to discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. But it was decided at a high level that it would be opportune to make public Cardinal Kasper’s long report on the subject of the Eucharist for the divorced-remarried. It was probably done to open up the way in anticipation of the October Synod on the family. But half of the Consistory remained secret: and it concerned the interventions of the Cardinals. And not by chance, because after Cardinal Kasper had set out his long report (not very easy listening, from what it seems) several voices were raised to criticise it. While in the afternoon, when the Pope gave him the task of responding, the German prelate’s tone appeared to many to be piqued, not to say angry.

The current opinion is that the “Kasper theorem” aims to say yes, that in general the divorced-remarried can receive Holy Communion, without the former marriage being recognised as invalid. At present this does not happen; based on Jesus’s very severe and explicit words about divorce. A person who leads a complete matrimonial life without the first bond having been considered invalid by the Church, finds himself, according to the present doctrine, in a permanent situation of sin.

It is in this sense that Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna spoke clearly, as did the German Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just as explicit was Cardinal Walter Brandmuller (“Neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel, have an expiry date. It is a work of courage to state the truth, even against the current mores. A courage that anyone who speaks in the name of the Church must possess, if he does not want to fail in his vocation … The desire to obtain approval and praise is an ever-present temptation in the dissemination of religious teaching … ” and following this, he made his words public.) So too, Cardinal Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops, expressed himself in a critical manner toward the “Kasper theorem”; as did the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of “Cor Unum”, who recalled, at the end of his intervention, how in the course of the centuries, even on dramatic questions, there have been disagreements and controversies within the Church, but that the role of the Papacy has always been that of defending doctrine.

Cardinal Re, one of the great electors of Bergoglio, made a very brief intervention, which can be summarised thus: I am taking the floor for a moment, because the future new Cardinals are here, and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say it, so I am saying it: I am completely opposed to the report.

Cardinal Piacenza too, the Prefect of the Penitentiary, declared himself opposed to it, and said, more or less: We are here now, and we will be here in October for a Synod on the Family, and so, as there is a desire to hold a Synod, I don’t see in fact why we have to deal only with the subject of Communion for the divorced. And he added: Since we want to have a pastoral discussion, it seems to me that we should take note of a very widely diffused pan-sexualism, and of an aggressive promotion of the ideology of gender which aims to unhinge the family as we have always known it. If we were the light of the nations, it would be providential to explain what kind of situation we find ourselves in, and what can destroy the family. He concluded by exhorting his audience to take up once again the teachings of John Paul II on the body, because they contain many positive elements on the subject of sex, of being a man, of being a woman, and on procreation and love.

Cardinal Tauran, of Inter-Religious Dialogue, returned to the subject of the attack on the family, also in the light of relations with Islam. Cardinal Scola of Milan also raised theological and doctrinal perplexities.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini was also very critical. He added: I do not know if I have made a good note of it, but up to this moment about 85% of the Cardinals who have expressed themselves appear to be opposed to the direction of the report. He added that, among those who said nothing and could not be classified, he gathered from the silences “that I think they are embarrassed”.

Next, Cardinal Ruini quoted the Good Pope, saying, in essence: When John XXIII gave the opening address of Vatican Council II he said that a pastoral Council could be held because, fortunately, doctrine was peacefully accepted by all, and there were no controversies; hence it was possible to give a pastoral edge without fear of being misunderstood, since the doctrine remains very clear. Whether John XXIII had been correct at that moment, the prelate commented, only God knows, but apparently, to a large extent, perhaps it was true. Today this could not be said any longer in the most absolute manner, because not only is doctrine not shared, but it is fought against. “It would be a fatal error” to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

It is understandable, therefore, that Cardinal Kasper seemed a little piqued, in the afternoon, when Pope Bergoglio allowed him to respond, without, however, allowing the emergence of a real confrontation: only Kasper spoke. Add to this, that other criticisms of the “Kasper theorem” are being added to those raised in the Consistory; privately to the Pope, or publicly, on the part of Cardinals from every part of the world. German Cardinals, who know Kasper well, say that he has been passionate about the matter since the 1970s. The problem raised by several critical voices is that the Gospel is very explicit on this point. And the fear is, that not to take account of it would render any other point of doctrine based on the Gospel very unstable and modifiable at will.