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.

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