Saturday, 9 September 2017

Praise where it's due...

I have been following the reaction to Jacob Rees-Mogg's television interview, in which he declared for the teaching of the Church on two of the hot-button issues of the day, with some interest.

Initially, some of us were hugely enthusiastic: here was a Catholic politician who did not duck the issues, and had the courage to say things that he knew were likely to be used against him, in a context in which he was never going to get a fair hearing. That was so refreshing after years of hearing 'I'm a Catholic, but...' from assorted politicians,  and the tactical silence, ambiguity, or downright apostasy from many Catholic prelates and priests.

But then came the criticisms: his arguments were weak, in some cases mistaken, and ceded too much ground, and so on.

I think both responses are appropriate, in the right balance. First and foremost, I think, we should applaud his big-heartedness: his sheer courage in saying what could well end his political career, and what he knew would open him up to the kind of shameless pillorying, mocking and misrepresentation that he has already begun to experience, and which I predict will not abate as long as he is in the public eye. That takes guts, and guts are admirable. His heart is in the right place, it seems, and it is our hearts - what we love - that finally determine who we are and how we will be judged. If he loves Christ and Christ's teaching, then he is on the road to salvation.

However, that does not mean that we should not look at the substance of what he said, and perhaps lament his muddle-headedness (though read on - I have more to say in mitigation, as it were, of this charge).  Joseph Shaw makes a number of valid points in his pieces on the subject, here and here.

However, and this is a big however, unless one has been in the hot seat in a television studio, on live tv and with hostile interviewers, one may not fully understand the situation in which he found himself.

I have been involved with the media training of many academics, over many years. Even on their own topics, in which they are experts, and in a training session that is not actually live, they often talk rubbish or explain their own research inadequately and at times incorrectly, when they are first quizzed by an interviewer who is only moderately challenging.

If the interviewer then leads them off-piste, as it were, onto a broader topic about higher education - something they know a great deal about, but for which they are not so prepared - they frequently talk even greater quantities of rubbish. And these are intelligent experts, used to teaching demanding undergraduates.

Simply put, there is something about the different context and the pressures of a live interview, that make it hard to marshal one's thoughts and express them coherently and accurately in live-time.  In fact, they are trained not to answer questions that are not directly related to their own research. But that is not an option that was open to Rees-Mogg: a politician who does that looks evasive, and on these subjects, the conclusion will be drawn that he holds the views deemed unpalatable but is too scared to say so (as in the Tim Farron affair).

So I think, firstly that Rees-Mogg was courageous in his stance; secondly that some of what he said was wrong; but thirdly that while we should of course seek to promote a better understanding, we should not blame him for that. I notice that on Facebook, a number of intelligent Catholics are trying to find better answers to the questions he faced, and struggling to do so - and that without being subject to all the pressures he was under.

Say a prayer for him, and for all who have the courage to stand up for the Faith in the public sphere: it takes courage and is likely to be thankless in this world; so pray they have the perseverance to ensure that it is rewarded in the next.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Seven Sorrows Mass

It has just been announced that Fr Daniel Etienne, a newly-ordained priest, will be saying a Low Mass at Sizergh Castle on the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, Friday 15th September, at 7.00 pm.

It is hoped that Fr Etienne will also give First Blessings after the Mass.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Abortion after rape

Today, Jacob Rees-Mogg scandalised the world (apparently - or at least that part of it that comments on social and main stream media) by saying that he disapproved of abortion in even in a case where the woman is pregnant as a result of rape (see here).

The howls of outrage, the astonishment,  and the terms in which it was expressed ('barbaric' and so on) were so intense, you might have thought that he was advocating killing innocent children, rather than standing up for them.

The rape question always comes up, of course. Let us pass over the fact that it is used by those who want to legitimise abortion in all circumstances; and the fact that we know that hard cases make bad law. Let us look it squarely in the face, on its own terms.

If one accepts what science (specifically biology and genetics) tells us - that is that a new and distinct human being comes into existence at the moment of conception - then even if it were proven that a therapeutic abortion might ease the distress for a woman pregnant as a result of rape, it is unjustifiable.

There is no circumstance in which killing an innocent human being in order to ease the distress of another human being can be justified.  We do not have to apologise for that truth.

Having said that, we can then look at some of the other aspects of this hard case. 

Firstly, of course, we deplore the terrible evil of rape, and the trauma that results. But in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that abortion eases that trauma or that carrying a resultant child to full term makes it worse. The evidence we have, as a SPUC post on the topic makes clear, points in the other direction.  And that post is notable, too, for the additional distress caused to the victims of such terrible crimes by those who appropriate their suffering to push for the liberalisation of abortion laws, as described by some of the women interviewed. It is truly wicked to subject women to a second assault on their bodies and their dignity by invading their bodies to abort their children. There is no evidence whatsoever medically or psychologically to justify this, and there are many women who will testify that, whatever one might imagine, having the baby was the one positive thing to come out of that traumatic experience.

Secondly, note the dishonesty of the way in which the debate is often conducted. This hard question is used as a tactic, almost one might say as emotional blackmail, to break down the absolute opposition to abortion that a principled person has. But the person using it has never (in my experience at least) any interest in restricting abortions to such hard cases.

Thirdly, and related, is the rhetorical dishonesty that then follows: 'You mean, you would force a woman to carry her rapist's child?!!' Timothy Brahm, of the Equal Rights Institute dismantles that particular rhetorical device here.

And finally, there is the underlying question of justice and compassion. These must apply not only to the victim of the rape, but also to the child. Justice or compassion applied to either one, without the other, is no justice, and no compassion. And no good will come of it.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Of your charity...

Of your charity pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

It is understandable that when someone we love or revere dies, we want to imagine that he or she has gone straight to Heaven.

However, the Catholic Church has always cautioned against this approach; instead, we assume as a default position that people need our prayers at this time.

I am just finishing reading the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, and she recounts some extraordinary visions that bear witness to the power of praying for the dead.

The traditional liturgy, of course, captures the full range of emotions and resonances of this time: ranging from the Dies irae to the In paradisum, and with the wonderful prayer Tuis enim fidelibusDomine, vita mutatur, non tollitur.

The premature emotional beatification of people immediately after their death is not only theologically suspect, but risks denying them the prayers they may need at this stage of their journey towards heaven.

So pray for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, that he may speed through purgatory, and enjoy the fulness of redemption in the company of Our Lord, Our Lady and all the angels and saints, in Heaven.

Good News

It is excellent that our bishops have chosen to reinstate the Feasts of the Epiphany and the Ascension as Holy Days of Obligation, on their correct days.

Not only does this bring us into alignment with Rome (and with our separated brethren in the Anglican Communion) but also with our forefathers, which I see as equally, if not more, significant.

Joseph Shaw has written about this, (including the importance of celebrating Feasts on their correct days) here.

I was slightly puzzled at first by the decision not to restore Corpus Christi to its traditional day: the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (given that it is a celebration of some of Maundy Thursday's key events, but removed from the shadow of Good Friday).

However, it was heartening to learn (from Stephen Morgan - @trisagion on Twitter) that the reasons for this were that the bishops had noticed a growth in Corpus Christi processions on Sundays, and did not want to do anything to discourage that.

Whilst one might disagree with that judgement, the grounds on which they are acting are also very heartening. It is not that long ago that some liturgists (and some bishops) were waging war on that kind of popular expression of the Faith, so it is heartening to know that those days are behind us.

All in all, very good news for the Church in England and Wales, and their Lordships are to be heartily congratulated.

And remember to pray for them.

Monday, 21 August 2017

On Discernment

In all the talk around the more revolutionary interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, the word discernment comes up.

It came up yesterday in a twitter conversation I was having on the topic with @thirstygargoyle - he had responded to my previous post about Jurisprudence and Imprudence by tweeting: It's important to note, I think, that Amoris deals with how to pick up pieces afterwards, and proposes an *augmented* internal forum. By which I mean, it proposes that discernment is guided by a priest, and is not a purely solitary exercise.

I asked: What is the discernment aimed at discerning? That is what nobody has (yet) explained to me... That the previous marriage was null?

To which he replied: It will vary from case to case. There'll be a huge range of variants.

We chatted on for quite a while, but really got no further in terms of what is being discerned.

And that worries me.

For I think that some interpreters of AL may help people to 'discern' that their previous marriage was in fact null, so they are free to treat their new union as a real marriage. Others may help people to discern that in their particular situation, it would be impossible to separate, so they too could treat their new union as a real marriage. And so on.

@thirstygargoyle makes the point that Familiaris Consortio suggests that 'the situations of individuals who had remarried after divorces were different and needed to be treated differently.' But nowhere does Familiaris Consortio or any other teaching document of the Church suggest that 'differently' might mean acknowledging a second union as legitimate when a first valid marriage endures. Yet that seems the direction of travel of many interpreters of AL.

For what it's worth, my view is that discernment should be a process that leads the individual to realise the incompatibility of living with a second partner as a spouse with the life of grace; and therefore implies a penitential path which is aimed to a resolution of the irregularity: that is to say, a cessation of the adultery. For such is the path of mercy. And whilst someone is determined to persist in adultery, such a determination de facto means they are not in a position to receive Holy Communion. That is not necessarily a judgement that they are in mortal sin; but if they are not, then they are in a state of ignorance with regard to the teaching of the Church that is also incompatible with full (and therefore eucharistic) communion.

I think the underlying problem with some interpreters of AL is that they do not really think any harm is being done by those in second unions. If the first marriage is truly over (say the other spouse has abandoned the one in discernment irrevocably), then what's the problem?

The first problem is precisely there: the first marriage is not truly over, even if the other spouse has abandoned the one in discernment irrevocably. In such a case the marriage still endures, and that means that the second party is not free to enter a new union (that's rather what we mean when we promise 'for better of for worse, till death do us part.')

The second problem is that sin harms us and others. Any sin. Every time. Even when culpability is reduced, sin is still evil, and still harmful. The abortionist who truly and sincerely believes he is helping a distressed pregnant woman is still doing something evil, even though his culpability may be minimal or non-existent. The adulterer is no different.

So any process of discernment that is not aimed at ending the adultery is the opposite of mercy. And any sexual intimacy in a second union , where the first is valid and endures, is adultery, as Our Lord clearly taught.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Jurisprudence and imprudence

In our legal system, we have a doctrine of the presumption of innocence. 

The reasons for this are fairly clear: a society in which people can be judged guilty without a proper process is clearly problematic.

The presumption of innocence, of course, may lead to injustices:  an individual may know very well that someone is guilty of an offence against him, and yet be unable to prove it to the standards required in law: the truly guilty party escapes the consequences of his actions, and the victim is denied justice.

But so it must be: for the alternative is so much worse: if the police, or the State (either of which means, effectively, those with power) can decide who is guilty without due process, it is worse for all of us. And inevitably the highest price will be paid by those with least power.

A second principle is that nobody is the judge in his own case. Again, the reasons are fairly clear: the temptation to bias (whether conscious or unconscious) is so strong that we cannot fairly submit somebody to such temptation and rely on him to give a just verdict. Rather, we seek means to ensure that judgement is made by people without a vested interest in the outcome. These are fairly universal principles in any civilised society, for reasons which are obvious.

I reflect on these, because some people do not seem to see the massive imprudence of some apparently merciful approaches to the problem of divorce and 'remarriage.'

The presumption in favour of the bond - that is the presumption that a marriage is valid until proved null - serves a similar function with regard to marriage as the presumption of innocence does to criminal justice. It is true that, just as with the presumption of innocence, the presumption in favour of the bond may lead to individual cases of injustice; but the principle stands, because the alternative is so much worse and more damaging for everyone. And as ever, those most damaged will be those who have least power.

Likewise, any attempt to change the annulment process so that one of the parties to a marriage becomes the judge in his own case is clearly an affront both to the principles of justice and to the institution of marriage. It may appear merciful, but (inter alia) places a terrible burden of responsibility on the individual, in an area where we already know that human judgement is, let us say, unreliable.

Someone very close to me has recently abandoned his wife and taken up with another woman. He has managed to persuade himself that his marriage was a sham. I have no doubt that such a psychological event has taken place in his mind: he genuinely believes it. I have no doubt that he is wrong... We humans are remarkably good at doing that: interpreting reality to justify our behaviour and our desires.

And of course the injustice is done to his wife and children; and harm done to himself (he is really bent out of shape...) and to the institution of Marriage. So whilst one could not, and should not, pronounce on his individual culpability, one can see that an 'internal forum' solution is profoundly problematic.

These are some of the reasons why some of the approaches being promoted in the wake of Amoris Laetitia are so troubling to so many thoughtful Catholics.

Of course, by drawing attention to these issues in this way, I lay myself open to the charge of being legalistic. But I would draw a distinction between legalism and clear thinking about the law. Our Lord condemned a certain type of legalism; but also declared for the Law. Catholic tradition has long recognised the importance of Canon Law - and not least with regard to protecting Holy Matrimony. 

The law - civil or canon -  may be an imperfect instrument; but those who do away with it in the hope of advancing justice, peace and happiness soon find that it doesn't work out so well: the revolution always ends up consuming its own children - and particularly the powerless.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reason is not enough

A few further thoughts on the modern crisis in our understanding of human sexuality...

Part of the Post-Enlightenment legacy, which is now playing havoc particularly with the upbringing of the young, is a mis-placed trust in reason.

Don't misunderstand me: I am not saying that reason is held in too high regard. Whilst our Faith is characterised by mystery, it does not reject, but rather honours, reason. To give up on reason is not a Catholic approach at all: revelation may take us further but is always reasonable. The Word, the Logos of the Father, is truth incarnate; and theology, the queen of disciplines, is (rightly understood) faith seeking understanding.

No, my point is different. The modern error is to set too much store by our being subject to reason. My current bête noire, the CES gay propaganda masquerading as an anti-bullying resource, is a case in point. One of the many things wrong with it is that it seems to assume that you can argue a child into virtue: that once you have given cogent reasons why bullying is wrong, the child will no longer bully. (There are, of course, many other and more serious things wrong with Made in God's Image, and I have documented many of them elsewhere on this blog).

But Catholic tradition, and everyday experience (including my own, as I look at my own patterns of sinful behaviour) demonstrate that such is not the case.

In fact, we have a disordered relationship with reason: too often, our passions are felt more strongly, and we either ignore or distort our reasoning, to indulge our passions.

This, the Church teaches, is part of the damage to our nature brought about by that original catastrophe, known as the Fall.  

One of the many things I lament in the change from the Traditional to the New Rite of Mass is the loss of the wonderful prayer from Psalm 140 (said at the incensing of the altar): Pone, Dómine, custódiam ori meo, et óstium circumstántiæ lábiis meis: ut non declínet cor meum in verba malítiæ, ad excusándas excusatiónes in peccátis. (Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: and a door round about my lips.  Incline not my heart to evil words; to make excuses in sins.)

To make excuses in sins... How those words resonate!

Human sexuality is damaged by Original Sin: we desire that which we should not desire. And reason, which should order our desires to the good, is subjugated to our passions - unless we train ourselves -  discipline ourselves - to submit to grace.

That is why virtues are learned by practice and example, not just by exhortation; and why when the Faith is abandoned, and 'sexual preferences' (ie a particular sub-set of our passions) are made sovereign, reason lags far behind...

For the tragic results, you need only look around.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Sick Sex

One of the aspects I did not mention in my recent post about changing attitudes to sex was health. Clearly the 200,000 abortions a year which (inter alia) pay Ann Furedi's salary cost the cash-strapped NHS a vast sum, which could otherwise be spent on... well, health care, perhaps.

But this is about much more than that. We have created a society in which large numbers, including the young, have a range of diseases that result from promiscuity.  And then there are the emotional and psychological effects of a casual attitude to sex: particularly when one party has a casual attitude, and the other thinks something meaningful is underway...

Fundamental to this is the notion of 'protected' sex. Here's a hint: if you need protection from the person you love, you are probably not, as a couple, doing love right.

And here's another hint: you can love someone without having sex with them. And perhaps that's the biggest lie of all, in our current culture, the assumption that sex is essential either to an individual or to a relationship. Christians should know better: the Holy Family is a great witness.  But the West has been living off our Christian heritage, and it is being rapidly dismantled. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

What Price Free Love?

Since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s (yes, I know, it is more complex than that, but as a shorthand, let that suffice...) we have seen an extraordinary change in attitudes towards human sexuality.

Even the more extreme and completely unscientific idiocies we see around us (gender theory, and 'different models of family' for example) are being normalised and imposed on our children by the school system - and Catholic schools seem to be falling obediently into line on this. 

The only morality seems to be consent, and an over-simplified view of consent, at that; one which views sex as no more significant (or complex) a human activity than offering someone a cup of tea.

But the price that has to be paid is enormous. 

The liberation of women (as it has been styled) has led to the expectation that they should take regular hormonal pills. This is not just bad for them, (both physically and in terms of their ability to sustain relationships) but is having dangerous effects on the environment.

Moreover, as these pills, and other contraceptive practices, are prone to failure, abortion is required as a back-up, as Ann Furedi has made clear: 
'The 200,000 abortions that taken place in Britain every year are evidence of what you get when you raise women’s expectations of birth control, and provide both a range of contraceptive methods and safe legal abortion. ' (from this article).
And on top of this terrible price - 200,000 children a year sacrificed on the altar of Free Love - there is the societal cost. The destruction of stable family life, and the crisis of masculinity, precipitated by the collapse of committed marriage as the normative model for the raising of children, is having devastating effects, particularly on children. We should be greatly concerned about the ever-increasing number of children who are presenting with mental or psychological problems.

But it is unthinkable that any policy maker or politician will raise the question: Should we re-consider whether our approach to sex, as a society, is a contributory factor? Instead, we inculcate the young with a broken model to assuage our own guilt.

And yet, I remain convinced that sexual discipline is essential to civilisation. And that the current fashion for self-indulgence and self-justification is essentially selfish and the antithesis of love.

As Henry, in Stoppard's The Real Thing remarked: "What free love is free of is love."

Friday, 30 June 2017

In which I am bullied by the CES...

Bullying, I learn from the CES publication Made In God's Image, may include 'deliberate forms of exclusion.'  And one can see where they are coming from: when children send another child 'to Coventry' (ie refuse to speak to, or acknowledge, him or her) that is potentially very unpleasant and hurtful.

When bullying is associated with a protected characteristic, it is deemed even worse. (Personally I question the wisdom of that stance, but that is the position of this document, and indeed informs the law of the land).

So when the CES refuses to answer queries submitted via its website; and then declines to answer emails (in the first instance sending a form response (Q), rather than engaging in a meaningful dialogue, and subsequently failing to answer at all), that could be construed as bullying: I feel hurt and excluded by such behaviour.

Further, I surmise that it is because I hold particular religious views (orthodox Catholic ones, as it happens) that I am thus ignored. Which, I assume, would make it bullying based on a protected characteristic.


As it happens, I don't subscribe to that approach. I think that we need to be rather more nuanced in our analysis, and look at a range of contextual factors before hurling around accusations of bullying.  But - and this is my point - the CES document does not: the list of 10 little scenarios which pupils are asked to assess range from some that are clearly prejudicial, to others in which the context could make an enormous amount of difference. But the instruction to the teacher is clear: 'Through discussion, make clear that all of these scenarios are homophobic in different ways.' 

And the document, whilst advocating the most non-judgemental approach possible to any issue relating to sexual morality, is extremely judgemental - indeed punitive - in tone towards anyone who may be deemed to be a bully.


So what should I do, when the CES (by their standards) bully me: first failing to answer my queries at all, then eventually sending me a form letter (Q), and then failing to answer when I pointed out that the form letter had not addressed the issues?

And how should I respond to the bishops who have not answered me at all? And to those who have answered with a form letter (Q) and then the polite brush-off (thanks - we'll think about it... (see also here) ) Is that episcopal bullying? 


I imagine they think I'll get bored and go away. They are mistaken: this is too serious.

If you think that the CES (and some of our Bishops) should not be instructing teachers to teach Catholic children that there is nothing wrong with homosexual behaviour, then take action. Pray, and write.  See my posts on the CES Scandal for all the lurid details.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Why does it matter?

I have been going on about the CES Scandal at some length and for some time.

That is because I believe it to be very important. I believe that for a number of reasons; the most important of which is that I think it gravely wrong to miseducate anyone, particularly in the name of the Church.

But perhaps it is worth spelling out some of the reasons why the modern liberal consensus on sex and gender (which is completely at odds with the Church's teaching of God's revealed truth) is so harmful; and in particular, is harmful to those whom the soft-hearted and weak-minded think they are being kind to.

The idea that being gay is just another lifestyle, quite as good as any other, is quite erroneous. The health outcomes for practicing gay men are significantly worse than for the  rest of the population. And in particular, gay sex is very bad indeed for young men and boys. Just consider this simple statistic from the US: 

Gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group. (Source

Reading the report from which that quotation is taken, it also becomes clear that it is receptive gay sex that is 9x more dangerous.  So boys and young men, aged between 13 - 24 are the victims of other more experienced men (if not experienced, they would not be HIV positive) using them for their pleasure. 

I think the Church should stand on its doctrine, and teach our young people the truth, in the hope of protecting them from this scourge.

The transgender issue is equally problematic. Made in God's Image glibly refers to 'people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system.' These troubled young people are at real risk of being victims of a massive social experiment. Despite Made in God's Image teaching to the contrary, nobody can accurately foresee how long such gender dysphoria will last; and there is the potential to do real harm by colluding with a child's self-diagnosis, setting them on a path to puberty blockers at an early age, and surgery at 16 (and of course, there is a push to reduce that age limit), which will change their lives for ever, and may well be bitterly regretted.  See here for commentary on this issue.

Once more, I think the Church should stand on its doctrine, and teach our young people the truth, in the hope of protecting them from this scourge.

Of course bullying is wrong. No Catholic school condones it. But to teach dangerous falsehoods to counter is to betray our children, and to put the most confused, the most vulnerable, in harm's way. They deserve better of our schools than this easy collusion with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Please pray; and write to our bishops. This evil teaching must be stopped and replaced with the beauty of Catholic truth.



See also this piece on the complexities and uncertainties of the transgender issue, and the perils of unthinking affirmation and of advocacy groups setting the agenda (as Stonewall and LGBTYouth are doing in Made in God's Image).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Reply from the CES

At last, Paul Barber, Director of the CES has started to reply to messages. This reply, apparently was sent in response to an email to his CES email address, not in response to a message submitted via the CES Website. So far I have heard of no replies to those, so I wonder if the system is not working as it should.

I say reply rather than answer, as the email does not answer any of the points raised. Instead, it is (who could possibly have foreseen this) a variant on Q.

Why anyone thinks that an intelligent person, raising serious questions about the Catholicity of Made in God's Image will be satisfied by an assurance that it is Catholic because it says so in the introduction, or even because sundry bishops believe it to be so, is beyond me. The latter, in more usual times, ought to be reassuring. But given that we know several other bishops are unhappy with it, to the extent of refusing to allow it into the schools in their dioceses, we are clearly living in abnormal times.

But the prima facie evidence is the idiocy of the claim. I have blogged at length about this, so will just leave this question here.

How is the teaching: 'Young people need to see that there is nothing wrong with it?' (with the it ambiguous, but referring either to homosexual inclinations or homosexual actions) compatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church (to which the document pretends adherence in the introduction cited as evidence of its Catholicity)? That teaching, which is indeed signposted in the introductory pages, is summarised in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, thus (with my emphases):

Chastity and homosexuality 
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Corpus Christi Treat

Today, whatever you may hear to the contrary, is the feast of Corpus Christi. (This year, it is also the feast of St Vitus).

We have the feast of Corpus Christi now because the obvious time to celebrate this - Maundy Thursday - is hardly appropriate for the great high holiday the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament deserves.

The liturgical celebration of this Feast in our country has been moved, legitimately but in my view extremely unwisely, by our bishops to the nearest Sunday.

That does not, of course, mean that we cannot celebrate the feast today, in solidarity with many other parts of the world, not to mention our forefathers.

In the meantime, here's your treat, the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem from Rome in 2011, with Pope Benedict XVI. Not the best recording, perhaps, but the one I have chosen to link to, anyway.

It was written, of course, by St Thomas Aquinas, and the last few verses (from Ecce panis angelorum) are often sung alone as a hymn (like the Tantum ergo, taken from Pange lingua). Note the interesting verse structure: initally three line verses, rising to four, and ending with five.... Latin and English lyrics are below.

Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
In hymnis et cánticis.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.

Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Mentis jubilátio.

Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
Hujus institútio.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.

Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Consecrámus hóstiam.

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.

Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.

A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
Integer accípitur.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.

Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Quantum toto tégitur.

Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
Qua nec status nec statúra
Signáti minúitur.

Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis filiórum,
Non mitténdus cánibus.

In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Datur manna pátribus.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortáles:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodáles,
Fac sanctórum cívium.

Amen. Allelúja.

Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.

All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.

Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.

On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.

Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.

His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;

Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.

Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.

They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.

Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!

Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.

Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.

Behold the Bread of Angels,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children's meat, to dogs denied.

Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.

Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.

Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.

Amen. Alleluia.

(In previous years, I have linked to Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus, and  Tallis' O Sacrum Convivium, which are also wonderful!)

The Q Letter (2)

I do not normally publish private correspondence, as that seems to me to be wrong. However, I think it is legitimate to publish my re-construction of the Q letter, as it hardly qualifies as private correspondence.

So here is my best reconstruction of the putative Q letter.
Dear {Name} 
{Insert some personalising opening line, acknowledging receipt of letter, email etc} 
In 2016 the bishops of the CES Management Committee commissioned St Mary's University to research how Catholic Schools deal with homophobic bullying, which has become a recent focus of Ofsted inspections. The research highlighted the demand from schools for Catholic guidance specifically in this area. Following this, and at the request of dioceses, St Mary's University, in collaboration with the CES, has produced a guidance document 'Made in God's Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools.' 
{Insert some guff about signed off by bishops, made available to dioceses} I remain confident that the document is fully consistent with the teachings of the Church, as is set out clearly in the introduction to the document. 
{Some sort of closure/sign off bit}

Some commentary would seem in order.

Firstly, this letter does not address any of the specific complaints or queries that have been raised about this lamentable document. It is true that the introduction states that the document does not attempt to present Catholic teaching, and refers to the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism.

There is other good Catholic content in the introductory pages, too; such as the point made both by Cardinal Hume and by the CDF that we do not categorise people by their sexual inclinations.

However, the actual lesson plans take a wholly different approach - unsurprisingly as many of them were either copied wholesale from LGBTYouth Scotland, or Stonewall; or of course from the putative Q1 proto-propaganda document...

Secondly, it states that 'St Mary's University, in collaboration with the CES' but fails to mention 'and in collaboration with LGBTYouth Scotland, and Stonewall...' That strikes me as dishonest. It was dishonest of the document not to mention their sources (whilst taking care to reference other sources with care, giving the impression of a well-referenced properly-researched piece of work) and it is dishonest of the Q Letter to continue with that omission.

But the third, and most serious issue is the claim that this document is fully consistent with the teachings of the Church.  How anyone, let alone a bishop or archbishop, can claim that  is beyond me. To take just one example (and see my previous posts for many others...) it contains the line:

Young people need to see that there is nothing wrong with it.
Typically of the document, the 'it' is not defined (and the lack of clarity throughout, particularly of the distinction between homosexual inclination and homosexual activity is alone enough to make it wholly inappropriate as an educational guidance document). That clearly applies here: the 'it' refers either to the inclination to homosexuality, or to homosexual activity. In either case, it is a clear contradiction of the teaching of the Church; yet is presented as the approved outlook, which is being inculcated to remove the 'prejudice' of our children.

If you have not written to your bishop, or to bishops on the CES Management Committee, please write! If you have received a Son of Q letter, please write again, highlighting your request for answers to the issues raised. End by asking for better, Catholic, guidance to be developed.  In courtesy and charity as ever, of course. 

You might even write to the CES; they seem not to be answering any correspondence, which is remiss, but they should know that parents will not keep quiet while children are being corrupted by false and dangerous teaching.

Contact details may be found here.

And pray.