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January 29, 2015

A patron saint for rejecting the occult

Christians are strictly forbidden to dabble in the occult.  Poor old King Saul went off his chump after consulting a medium—the witch of Endor—and much the same happened to a lady I knew who was addicted to various forms of astrology and fortune telling. They are all attempts to manipulate spiritual forces.  Sometimes, in a deceitful manner, such things  seems to work.  As with Macbeth, who refers to “the equivocation of the fiend, who lies like truth”.  I have noticed that evangelical Protestants take the biblical injunction against such practices much more seriously than many Catholics do.  So  I was very glad to see this trenchant article by Fr Timothy Finigan in his blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity.


                            The venerable Benedict Daswa

Sadly it is common in England today, to see advertisements for psychic fairs, shops selling occult paraphernalia, and booksellers displaying books of spells for young people. I recently called into a shop I thought might be interesting but walked out again smartly when I saw that there was a tarot card reading session taking place.

Christians were blamed by superstitious Romans for natural misfortunes. Tertullian pokes fun at this. I quote him first in Latin, because lovers of his barrister’s tour de force style will enjoy it.

Si Tiberis ascendit in moenia, si Nilus non ascendit in arva, si caelum stetit, si terra movit, si fames, si lues, statim Christianos ad leonem! adclamatur. Tantos ad unum? (Liber Apologeticus 40.1)

The translation gets the meaning, but not the accelerating punch of the original:

If the Tiber rises too high for the walls, or the Nile too low for the fields, if the heavens do not open, or the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, instantly the howl is, ‘The Christians to the lion!’ So many to one?

The venerable Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa of South Africa experienced a similarly savage expression of superstitious ignorance. He was a convert to Catholicism, a married man with eight children, a Catholic school headmaster, and an upstanding and socially responsible member of the community conspicuous for his charitable work. You can read more about him at the Benedict Daswa website.

In 1990, after heavy rain and lightning in the Venda area, and while Benedict was away, a traditional healer was brought in to find out who was the witch that was responsible. On his return, Benedict refused to pay a share of the healer’s fee and insisted that lightning happened because of natural causes. For his stand against the occult, Benedict was ambushed on the road a couple of weeks later by a mob who stoned and beat him to death. Before his death, he said , ‘God, into your hands receive my spirit’.

Just the other day, Benedict was officially recognised as a martyr, so the way is open for his beatification.

Pray to him for all those involved in the occult, for young people tempted to dabble, for those who sell occult items or promote occult events. When you pass a shop selling crystals, tarot cards, withcraft accessories and suchlike, quietly pray the prayer to St Michael and the prayer to your Guardian Angel. If you don’t know those prayers, it would be a very good idea to learn them. In the meantime, say three Hail Marys.

Prayer to St Michael
Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Prayer to your Guardian Angel
O Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day, be at my side
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Lovers of Latin may like to know that the Guardian Angel prayer is translated from a Latin prayer that rhymes. Not classical of course, but easy to remember:

Angele Dei
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna;
illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen.

January 22, 2015

‘Gay Marriage’: A Very Indelicate Matter

In my favourite film Kind Hearts and Coronets, cuckolded husband Lionel tells Louis Mazzini (Denis Price) that he wishes to speak to him about  “a matter of some delicacy”. Louis, somewhat alarmed that his sins may have found him out,  remarks in voiceover that whenever someone talks about a matter of some delicacy, they’re usually  referring to a matter of extreme indelicacy.

There are occasions when such matters cannot be evaded.

When you think about what is involved, there must be very few subjects more indelicate than what is invariably referred to as “gay marriage”.  The campaign for this is just warming up, and we are to have a referendum in May which looks at present as though it will sail through without difficulty. No one will talk about what is actually involved: if they did so, the sodomite lobby would denounce them as horrible coarse insensitive individuals, but a quite a few Irish people would wake up and realise what it is they are being asked to endorse.

The debate on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland today (Thursday) probably provided a foretaste of many more to come. Interviewer Audrey Carvill began by congratulating a homosexual who had just “married” his “partner” in Britain; and then asked Breda O’Brien, representing the No side, whether she approved of his action. This was a real pharasaical  device, intended to wrong-foot her from the outset. If she said No, she would have looked uncaring and insensitive, but if she expressed approval she would have looked ridiculous. Audrey Carvill  kept on pressing the question, interrupting and harrassing Breda in mid sentence. Mrs O’Brien kept her cool, and did as well as could have been expected under the circumstances. The homosexual  was then allowed free rein to propagandise uninterrupted, appealing to everyone’s sense of fairness and begging them not to let the proposal fail because of public apathy.

Interviewers will never get to the heart of the matter.  How I would love to hear one of them quizzing a militant homosexuals along these lines. “So you want ‘gay marriage’? Well, as you know, every marriage has to be consummated; otherwise it  can be declared invalid. Now, can you please tell me how exactly would one consummate a homosexual marriage?” If this question were answered fully and truthfully it would clarify the minds of the public wonderfully. The absurdity of the proposal would be laid bare.

I very much hope that by the time the lawyers and civil servants have examined the measure more closely, it will prove to be more complex than the homofascists had thought..



January 19, 2015

 False Mercy-Mongers Put Down by Anglican Bishop

One wet autumn afternoon in the mid 1950s, just before the end of the long summer holidays, I was bored out of my tree but too lazy  to catch up on school work. I looked listlessly through my father’s bookshelves, eventually pulling down Bishop Charles Gore’s Roman Catholic Claims.  It was the first Anglican book I had ever perused, and I began reading the first chapter with increasing fascination. I had never really appreciated why some Anglicans regarded themselves as Catholics in the same sense as we did, only without acknowledging the role of the papacy.  Moreover, that they defended  their position by quoting some of the Fathers of the Church—selectively, if you like, but very cogently.

I could  have ended up thoroughly confused if  I hadn’t noticed that next to Gore’s hardback volume was a tattered paperback entitled Bishop Gore and the Catholic Claims, by Dom John Chapman OSB. No longer bored, thanks to Bishop Gore, I decided I would read each book, chapter by chapter, and see which of these two learned clerics, in my very limited opinion, had the better of it.

As the Anglican prelate developed his case,  although I considered Gore was  prejudiced and quite anti-Catholic,  I wondered at times how Abbot Chapman could possibly counter some of his arguments. In the end I concluded that Chapman had  by far the better of the exchange insofar as the papacy was concerned, but I was a little less certain about the question of  Anglican orders. Later I accepted that as Roma locuta est, in the form of Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae,  that causa  must be finita  for a faithful Catholic.

I suppose that from that day onwards I had hardly given Bishop Gore a second’s thought.  But it recently came to my attention  that he issued a strong protest against the decision by the Lambeth conference of 1930 to support the use of contraceptives, praising  Rome for the  consistency  of its teaching on sexual morality.  He even described ‘the Roman Church’ as ‘a strong fortress against the advancing tide of sensualism’ in Europe and America. Gore points out that the ‘movement for Birth Prevention’, as he quite rightly calls it, is ‘quite frankly hostile to the whole Christian tradition of sexual morality’. He is well acquainted with the works of  Margaret Sanger, whose Planned Parenthood movement is still thriving today—more powerful than ever throughout the world.  He concludes that the function of the Church in such matters is ‘to maintain the healthy conscience which condemns artificial prevention as unnatural and wrong in itself.’ In a prophetic passage, he notes that  at ‘the Conference of Modern Churchmen’ (which closely resembled  our own present-day ‘spirit of Vatican II’ faction) the forward-thinking Dean William Ralph Inge of St Pauls was suggesting that the Church of England should reconsider its condemnation of suicide in extreme cases. Gore wonders what, if the pro-suicide movement were to become popular and urgent, a future Lambeth conference might have to say about it.

Today, Gore’s words stand as a powerful reproach to the likes of Cardinal Walter Kasper and every other false mercy-monger seeking to accommodate the Church to the ways of the world.  See what you think of  this passage:

Again and again in Christian history we find the Church practically accepting and acting upon the idea of the double standard—one for the perfect, which is probably identified with the monastic or ‘religious’ life, and the other, the lower standard, for the men and women who live in the world. This latter class must avoid specified sins and attend to specified religious duties, but no great sacrifice such as the ‘religious’ life involves is required of them. But surely nothing can be more contrary to the teaching of Christ or of the New Testament than this doctrine of the two standards—the one admirable, the other tolerable. Our Lord calls all men who would be His disciples to a life of unlimited liability. It may be martyrdom that will be required of them, it may be submission to loss or outrage, it may be the stern mortification which our Lord describes under the figure of plucking out the eye or cutting off the hand or foot. We can indeed discern in our Lord’s teaching the recognition of different states of life. The future evangelists of His kingdom have prescribed for them a state of absolute detachment from worldly ties: others are to live the old life at home in their old occupations but in a new spirit. But all equally who would be in either sense His disciples must enter the path by the strait gate and tread the narrow way. In S. Paul again we trace the same recognition of different states but not of different moral standards. All alike must die to live: before all alike lies an unlimited liability—to suffering loss, to the effort of extreme mortification, even to death itself ‘for the Name’. We are not called to seek suffering, but we are, all of us, called to be ready for even the extreme of endurance—as much those who are living the normal life of the home as those who make the venture of the celibate life. If the Church has ever sanctioned the idea of the ‘second best life’, which does not involve the same unlimited liability, we must…recognize that it has deserted its Lord.

To-day we are living in a world which has widely revolted from the obedience of Christ. Our literature is saturated with this spirit. He Himself bade us be prepared for such an experience, even in its extremest form. ‘When the Son of man cometh,’ He asked, ‘shall He find the faith on the earth?’ Our business, then, is to uphold the full standard of the good life, through evil report and good report. The worldly world must go its own way and may seem to prevail. We must not attempt to pronounce any final judgement on individuals. We can ‘judge nothing before the time.’ If the Church has been slack in the past, it must expect God’s sharp judgements on itself; but it is still its business to open the eyes of all its members to the true implications, social and individual, of the ‘life which is life indeed,’ and under persecution or unpopularity to consolidate the faithful remnant, who are to nourish their souls in the readiness to suffer with Christ and in the secret security of final victory in Him. We have no right to sanction the ‘second best.’

This is from a man whom we would regard as a schismatic, and very possibly a heretic. But his words are as true now in 2015 as they were in 1930 when they were penned.








January 13, 2015

We Must Fight for Christendom

There is something quite absurd about the way the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre are  lauded as martyrs.   Those hate-filled anarchists were no more “martyrs” than the Moslem fanatics who killed them, or than the Nazi Horst Wessel. Fr John Hunwicke points out that all this nonsense bears an uncanny resemblance to the hysteria that followed the death of Diana Prince of Wales: “this eerie mass hysteria of the mob; the politicians riding on the back of it; the coercion into a prescribed self-identification; the ludicrous apotheosis of the dead.”

It was Flannery O’Connor, I think, who insisted  that we must push against the prevailing culture as vigorously as it is pushing against us.  I’m realising with increasing clarity that the remnants of Christendom, whether Catholic or Protestant, are being ground between two very unpleasant millstones: the secularism of the so-called Enlightenment, represented in its most extreme modern form by the likes of Charlie Hebdo; and a much more ancient foe in the shape of Islam.


January 10, 2015

Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

In the wake of the slaughter of the 12  Secularist journalists in Paris, there has been a plethora of rather nauseous humbug about “freedom of expression”, and how it must be defended at all costs. No: this appalling atrocity  is not about freedom of expression; it’s about the right of everyone, even the most  hate-filled and bigoted,  not to be murdered by  Moslem fanatics or anyone else.

Charlie Hebdo is a contemptible  and disgusting publication. One of its front covers  showed an explicitly sodomistic cartoon ridiculing  the Holy and Undivided Trinity. There is also a cartoon of Pope Benedict holding a mole inside his cassock and saying “This makes a change from choirboys”. Imagine what would happen if, for instance,  the Brandsma Review  or the Catholic Voice published a cartoon obscenely libelling,  say, Senator David Norris. Do you think they would get away with it? Why, in some countries now it’s not even permissible to show pictures of aborted babies. Do our liberal journos protest about that? Freedom of expression how are ye?

Nevertheless, the murdered French journalists possessed one virtue:  courage. They died because they were extremely brave men, prepared to put their own lives on  the line for their perceived right to indulge in hate-filled defamation.  One can at least admire them for that, in a strange way. May God be merciful to them.

In Ireland, there are plenty of communicators only too willing to blaspheme the Christian religion.  They are fortunate that Christians don’t believe  murder, or violence of any kind, is an appropriate response to blasphemy.  Quite a few years ago Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times wrote a piece  mocking  Catholic belief in the Real Presence. As I pointed out at the time, he wouldn’t have dreamed of taking on Islam.  Bullies are always careful to choose soft targets and not to tangle with people they have reason to fear might hit back.

I see that Google is carrying a black ribbon on its site, with the slogan: “Remembering the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.” Why have they chosen to mark this particular atrocity in such a way?  Fr John Hunwicke, as you might expect, has some pertinent questions:

Has Google been waggling black ribbons around while thousands of Christians have been murdered in the Middle East and in Africa?

Why not?

What is the going ‘Google tariff’, I wonder? Is one Secularist life equivalent, perhaps, to 10,000 Christian lives? Would that be near the mark? It would be nice to know. Just how cheap do they hold Christian blood (or, for that matter, Islamic blood) to be in relation to good, pure, Secularist blood?















January 8, 2014

Pope Francis: Disaster of the Year

It has taken me an unconscionably long time to  get around to a full admission that this papacy has been disastrous for the Holy Catholic Church. Out of respect for his office, but partly (I admit) out of human respect,  I have nibbled around the edges of the problem, but now I must swallow the unpleasant truth: the main problem is Pope Francis himself.   If this loses me some readers, I’m sorry but it can’t be helped. My mind was finally cleared by reading the very cogent article by Christopher Ferrara reproduced below, slightly edited. It’s from The Remnant, a publication with which I sometimes disagree quite strongly. I have restored a brief passage from the novelist Dena Hunt, quoted only in part by The Remnant, because I think it greatly strengthens Mr Ferrara‘s argument. I suspect they  may have left the section out because it contains a very favourable reference to St John Paul II—not The Remnant’s favourite Pope.

By Christopher Ferrara

The  title Man of the Year, bestowed by the mass media on a gender-neutral “Person of the Year,” reflects the impact a public figure has had on world events during the year preceding. Thus it was quite understandable, even predictable, that Time, the world’s leading news magazine, and The Advocate, the world’s most prominent homosexualist publication, would both name Pope Francis “Person of the Year” for 2013. 

The world understands, even if most Catholics have forgotten, that the Catholic Church is the last barrier against the terminal civilizational apostasy for which the powers that be have been laboring for almost three centuries. In the crowd-pleasing words, gestures and publicity stunts Pope Francis provides almost daily, which the media promptly trumpet to the detriment of his predecessors and the Church’s image, the makers of world opinion see their last best chance to take the Church out of commission once and for all.  The media recognize that this Pope, whatever his intentions, speaks as if he were determined to complete, per impossible, the ecclesial auto-demolition lamented too late by Paul VI in the midst of the Second Vatican Council’s catastrophically foolish “opening to the world.” 

From the traditional Catholic perspective of this newspaper, however, Pope Francis is Man of the Year for a different reason: the unintended consequences of his increasingly alarming pontificate. That is, the “Francis effect” is finally awakening many Catholics outside traditionalist circles to the awful reality of the post-conciliar revolution in the Church, bringing them face-to-face with a crisis the “normalists” can no longer conceal behind their usual emasculating interpretations of events. This awakening is typified by the mordant commentary of one rightly appalled Catholic, a convert and novelist, in light of Francis’s upcoming encyclical on “climate change,” already being hailed by the media as the next advance for “the Francis revolution.” Under the title “I Am Concerned” Dena Hunt writes:

I regret that our current Holy Father speaks so strongly on topics about which no one expects him to know any more than anyone else. As far as his popular image is concerned, I don’t really care what color shoes he wears, what sort of car he goes about in, or where he chooses to set up housekeeping.

[St. John Paul the Great lived and operated under total political suppression. What made his life as a cardinal in communist Poland so extraordinary was his focus on his responsibility as a religious leader of his people.  Eventually, that steadfast devotion to his duty helped to bring about the downfall of that suppression. He was never unclear or vague about faith and morals—quite the contrary—and he never touted his opinions on matters outside the faith.]

Nothing is more seductive than flattery and applause, especially from a fickle and sensation-hungry press, and nothing is more fatal to our souls than vanity. [Time spent alone on our knees, as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are known to have done, can clear up a lot of confusion about what God’s will is, about what our responsibility is, even for the ordinary layperson. St. John Paul wrote every word of his encyclicals in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. But those encyclicals were about faith and morals.] I suppose ‘encyclicals’ on other subjects can be written anywhere, provided one wears shoes of a politically correct color.

As these sentiments would suggest, Francis’s most significant impact is turning out to be, not what the world applauds, but his inadvertent demonstration that the revolution has gone too far, that it is time to return to the point where the Church’s human element strayed from the path of Tradition to pursue an imaginary “renewal,” and that nothing is more urgent now than a recovery of everything that was abandoned during a ruinous experiment in novelty Francis seems determined to pursue to the bitter end according to the “dream” enunciated in his personal manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium:

I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. 

It is this boundless progressivism, seemingly unhampered by any reverence for what the Church has handed down in her “ways of doing things” through the centuries, that accounts for the “Francis effect” which has earned him the world’s endless adulation.  In less than two years we have already witnessed these “achievements” of the Bergoglian papacy:

  • an unprecedented disdain for traditional vestments, customs and protocols of the papacy, with the result that the media exalt Francis’s “humility” to the detriment of all his predecessors, including canonized saints who honored these traditions as due the sacrality of the office of Vicar of Christ;

  • further ostentatious demonstrations of “humility,” always before the cameras (dining with Vatican employees in the cafeteria, “selfies” with members of the crowd, riding a bus to the annual retreat, carrying his own black bag on the chartered jet, etc.), which the media further exploit as an unfavorable reflection on previous Popes;

  • perversion of the traditional Holy Thursday mandatum, commemorating the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist at the first Mass offered by Our Lord, by washing and kissing the feet of non-Catholics, including Muslim women, thus degrading a sacred tradition by subordinating it to his personal desire to display “humility” in a novel way;

  • the infamous declaration “Who am I to judge?” respecting “gay persons” in the Catholic priesthood, creating the impression of an unprecedented new “openness” to “gay people” in the Church, which he has since done nothing to counter but on the contrary has continued to cultivate, as seen at the Synod on “the Family,” which he controlled;

  •  innumerable scandalously confusing and heterodox interviews and conversations with journalists, including the doctrinaire atheist Eugenio Scalfari, which the Vatican publishing house, with Francis’s approval, has recently published in book form, confounding all attempts by his apologists to argue that he was misquoted or misunderstood;

  • constant public attacks on members of the faithful Francis accuses of “feel[ing] superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past,” of seeking an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,” of having  an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige,” and of exhibiting a “supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline [that] leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism”—thus rashly misjudging the motives of traditional Roman Catholics who practice the bimillenial Faith of their fathers;

  • the warm embrace of Protestant ministers and televangelists as “brothers” Francis declares he is “not interested” in converting, even as they steal millions of sheep from the Catholic flock entrusted to him, as they have done throughout a Latin America that is less Catholic by the day;

  • the astonishing declaration that it is  “sinning against Christ’s will” to focus on the Church’s doctrinal differences with Protestants because “our shared baptism is more important than our differences”—thus effectively discarding every teaching of the Magisterium and the Church’s infallible anathemas on the errors of Luther and the other Protestant sects;

  • a stubborn defense of Islam, contrary to the entire history of its persecution of Christians which continues today, including Francis’s declaration in Evangelii Gaudium that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence—a claim he has absolutely no competence to make;

  • a defense of Islam against the well-founded claim that it inherently promotes violence against “infidels”: “You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups”—thus suggesting that Roman Catholic traditionalists or Protestant “Bible-thumpers” are on a par with Muslim fanatics who commit murder, rape and innumerable other acts of violence and persecution against Christians or routinely sentence them to death for “blasphemy” or “apostasy” according to the established juridical frameworks of Muslim countries;

  • the invitation to a Muslim Imam to “pray for peace” in the Vatican gardens, who, quoting the Koran in Francis’s presence, called upon Allah to “grant us victory over the heathen/disbelieving/infidel” (i.e. non-Muslims), following which  there erupted violence of massive proportions in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the savage Muslim persecution of Christians in various nations;

  • the prayer beside a Muslim Imam in the Blue Mosque at Istanbul at the very moment Christians were being hung, burned alive, decapitated, raped, enslaved and driven from their homes in Muslim nations, while the Imam with whom Francis prayed and his counterparts around the world refuse to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fanatics;

  • the failure to intervene to plead for the freedom of Mariam Ibraheem Ishag, the pregnant Catholic convert sentenced to death by the Islamic dictatorship of Sudan for “apostasy” from Islam, even though governments, religious leaders and human rights groups around the world militated—successfully—for her release;

  • silence and inaction in the face of written pleas fom Aisa Bibi, sentenced to death for “blasphemy” by the Islamic regime of Pakistan, whereas Pope Benedict XVI had publicly called for the dismissal of all charges against her and even the Russian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church recently issued a formal statement declaring that “our multimillion flock joins their voice to that of the great number of people throughout the world who advocate for saving the life of this Christian woman” and calling upon Pakistan’s president to grant her a pardon;

  • a Synod on “the Family” that quite predictably devolved into an attack on the family, including an “opening” to “gays” and public adulterers in the disgraceful midterm report Francis approved and had distributed to the press before the Synod Fathers had even seen it, prompting a rebellion by bishops and even cardinals against the Synod’s manipulation;

  • the introduction of a “God of surprises” during a jeremiad against “so-called ‘traditionalists’” after the Synod Fathers had rejected the midterm report and failed to adopt language in the final report that also suggested an “opening” to “gays” and Holy Communion for public adulterers;

  • the Francis revolution in general, as reflected in his expressed “fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe…”

For these and innumerable other like reasons, Pope Francis is The Remnant newspaper’s 2014 Man of the Year. Although he certainly did not intend this, Francis is showing the Catholic world the final outcome of a trajectory that began with the Council’s problematical texts—the likes of which no ecumenical council had ever propounded—and proceeded with the destruction of the Roman Rite, the ecclesial paralysis caused by the viruses of  “ecumenism,” “dialogue,” and “interreligious dialogue,” and the introduction of one unheard-of novelty after another, from Communion in the hand to altar girls, all accompanied by a rapid collapse of religious vocations and the spreading apostasy of the lay faithful.

With Francis we appear to be approaching the trajectory’s terminal point: a de facto merger of most of the human elements of the Church with the world to which the Church has been “opened,” the Pope to serve as a respected facilitator of worldly diplomacy, social justice and peaceful relations among men of all religions or no religion, as the Church’s mission of making disciples of all nations is definitively abandoned by those who are divinely commissioned to carry it out. As Obama declared on national television in giving thanks to Francis for helping to broker the “breakthrough” that gave the Communist dictators of Cuba everything they wanted in return for almost nothing, leaving the Catholics of Cuba still firmly under their yoke: “I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.”  Such praise for a Pope from such a man, for such a reason, cannot fail to awaken serious Catholics to the almost apocalyptic gravity of our situation.

And that is precisely why Francis must been seen as our Man of the Year. For as the New Year begins we can have the certitude of faith that God is already drawing immense good from the disaster of this pontificate as more and more Catholics turn away in horror from the destructive revolution it represents, looking once again toward Tradition and the legacy of the great Popes who labored so heroically to defend the Church from what attacks her with reckless abandon today.


January 5, 2015

‘Values Clarification’ in the Anti-Life Armoury

Here’s an editorial I wrote for the Brandsma Review back in 1999.  It was written at about the time when the Irish media first stopped pretending to be impartial about life issues.

 What interesting admissions are being made these days! In our last issue, I described how the veil over the part played by Big Media in facilitating the decline of the Church in public life had been drawn back by one of their own.  John Caden, former producer of RTÉ’s Gay Byrne Show used the lurid phrases “authoritarian canker” and “twisted grip” to describe the Catholic Church’s former influence on society. The values of the media Facilitators are now so universally accepted that they can openly boast about what they had been up to.

Now, on the world scene, I learn from the prestigious journal Science how our harmless, morally-neutral old friend “values clarification” is being used to promote abortion in the Third World. Remember this technique? Doris Manly, of blessed memory, was the first person to warn the Irish public about this method of social engineering, which helps a student to “obtain the values that best suit him and his environment” (in the opinion of the Facilitators, of course!) She got small thanks for pointing out that programmes using values clarification were designed to alter the young in ways which most Irish parents would indignantly reject. Archbishop Kevin McNamara was one of the very few people in public life who took any notice, and tried (unsuccessfully, alas) to do something about it. Supporters of values clarification, including powerfully-placed clerics in the Church’s educational bureacracies, maintained the practice was quite compatible with Church teaching. Their view, unfortunately, has prevailed.

Now we have Science making exactly the same point as Doris—except that they heartily approve of using values clarification to break down moral resistance: in this case, towards the killing of pre-born humans. After calling for the integration of abortion “services” into standard health care provision in Third World countries ,the article continues:

Support , beyond simple technical training, is also critical for providers of medical abortion services. Experience with ‘values clarification’ programs in South Africa has proved beneficial in ensuring that providers are comfortable offering pregnancy termination services…Advocacy for medical abortion is essential, irrespective of the prevailing legal position regarding abortion.

The article as a whole is a call for what the authors call “safe, effective and acceptable methods of medical abortion”—by which they mean drug-induced as opposed to surgical. The pretext for this is the large number of complications attending “unsafe” surgical abortions: they admit that at one Brazilian hospital abortion-related complications accounted for 47% of maternal deaths during a nine-year period. They do not (surprise!) call for a ban on surgical abortions.

This gruesome piece, which discusses the techniques of poisoning unborn babies as though they had no more moral significance than exterminating vermin, is by Ms Wendy Ewart of the British-based “charity” the Wellcome Trust, and Ms Beverly Winikoff of the Population Council in New York.


January 1, 2015

 More on Bishops and B******t

I’ve been having another look at that curious Reflection Document for the Clergy on Marriage and the Family put out by the English hierarchy.  At one point it appears to imply that those insisting on upholding the Church’s constant teaching on such matters as Communion for unrepentant adulterers are a bit like the Donatist heretics of North Africa, who were refuted  by St Augustine and St Optatus.

These Donatists believed that the traditores—those bishops and clergy who had handed over the sacred Scriptures to the Roman authorities to avoid martyrdom—were beyond repentance,  had forfeited their authority, and were permanently excommunicated. The Donatists were extreme rigorists, (or “riggies” to use the term employed by modernist  seminary professors to put down orthodox clerical students) . They were of course quite wrong, because no repentant sinner is beyond God’s forgiveness.

The Donatists regarded martyrdom as the supreme Christian virtue. Their most extreme faction, the Circumcellions, were a bit like 21st century  Moslem suicide bombers.  They called themselves agonistici (“fighters [for Christ”]). They  used to  bring about their own martyrdom by attacking random travellers  on the road, shouting “laudate Deum!” and demanding to be killed.  The Circumcellions used to assault Roman legionaries with wooden clubs, which for some reason they called their “Israelites”. They declined to use swords,  because of Our Lord’s rebuke to St Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. On other occasions they would interrupt  the law courts so that the judge would order their immediate execution for contempt of court.

Anyway, the anonymous authors of the English bishops’ document  think we can derive from the Donatist controversy  “”a way to reach out to people  in their very diverse situations”, and that St Augustine, in his dealing with the Donatists, “offers us a way of looking at the Church from his age which is still relevant today”. St Augustine, they tell us, favoured “patience and tolerance”, not the exclusion of sinners from the Church.  But then, of course, no one on the orthodox side of the present  debate has ever suggested that repentant sinners should be denied Communion.

Let’s have a look at a truly relevant passage from  St Augustine on Our Lord’s words to the woman taken in adultery:

‘Neither will I condemn you’. What is this, Lord? Do you therefore favour sins? Not so, evidently. Mark what follows: ‘Go, henceforth sin no more’. Therefore the Lord did also condemn, but condemned sins, not man. For if he were a patron of sin, he would say ‘Neither will I condemn you; go, live as you will: be secure in my deliverance; how much soever you will sin, I will deliver you from all punishment,  even of hell, and from the torturers of the infernal world’. He said not this. Let them take heed, then, who love this gentleness in the Lord, and let them fear his truth. For ‘The Lord is sweet and right’. You love him in that he is sweet; fear him in that he is right. As the meek one, he said ‘I held my peace’; but as the just one, he said ‘Shall I always be silent?’  ‘The Lord is merciful and pitiful’. So he is, certainly. Add yet further: ‘Long-suffering’; add, even further still: ‘And very pitiful’. But fear what comes last: ‘And true’. For those whom he now puts up with as sinners, he will judge as despisers. ‘Or do you despise the riches of his long-suffering and gentleness, not knowing that the forbearance of God leads you to repentance? But you, after your hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up for yourself wrath against the Day of Wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgement of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds’ [Romans 2:4-6]. The Lord is gentle, the Lord is long-suffering, the Lord is pitiful; but the Lord is also just, the Lord is also true. He bestows on you space for correction; but you love the delay of Judgement more than the amendment of your ways.

Fr John Hunwicke sums it all up perfectly:

The style of much modern dialogue is to set things against each other as polar opposites. Law vs Freedom; Judgement vs Mercy; Cultus vs Prophecy; Demands-of-the-kingdom vs Compassion-and-Love. Any such cheap game needs to be exposed to the fact that Jesus is both. Writers often give me the impression that the Demands of the Kingdom, God’s commandments, are something which we can’t, unfortunately, get out of, much as we might wish to. So we grit our teeth and loyally get down to compliance with as much dutiful obedience as we can muster. But … if only we could square it with our consciences … we would so very much rather be singing, to our congregations and to the World, great paeans of sentiment about God’s Compassion and Love. So we do our best to circumscribe and render practically ineffective the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, out of our fear that, by laying too much emphasis there, we shall be robbing people of the Compassion and Love which we would so much rather be seen to be dispensing to a waiting World. I hope I am not being unfair or too cruel when I share my fearful suspicion that the anonymous ghost-writer of the CBCEW document is, with the best will in the world, at just that about stage of thought.

But Jesus is there in both places. The Truth that you cannot divorce a spouse and then acquire a replacement, without committing Adultery, is the Compassionate Love of Christ. He is like the loving and compassionate Land-owner who puts a safe fence along the edge of a dangerous cliff in countryside where people are strongly tempted to behave carelessly, and then sets up as Law the truth (which in fact is inscribed into the very situation itself) that we cannot leap over that fence without falling to destruction. Any contradicting definition of Compassionate Love is a fabrication of the Anti-Christ, who decks himself with devastating plausibility in the most apparently authentic religious language so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

You can’t set Love against Law because Christ has you in the most unavoidable of all pincer-movements: He is both.