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Monthly Archives: December 2015

December 30, 2015

Bashing the ‘Schismatic’ Pixies

The Irish Catholics Forum often contains material of great interest: but I will never understand why, at a time when, humanly speaking, there appears little reason to believe that the Church in the West will survive more than a few  more decades, some of  its contributors seem so obsessed by trivia.

For instance, while large numbers of influential cardinals (and, it would appear, possibly the Holy Father himself) appear determined to undermine Catholic teaching on the non-admission of unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion, you will find ICF contributors exercised by such matters as  the status of the Society of St Pius X, and the blessing of religious objects.

To concentrate here on the former, there is still a long-standing  thread devoted to “The SSPX Schism in a Nutshell” which continues even after Pope Francis’ decision to “establish” the validity of confessions to an SSPX priest—at least during the Year of Mercy which began on December 8.  His actual words are well worth examining:

A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity [sic] of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime,  motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. 

Are we  expected to believe that God’s mercy can be turned on and off like a tap? That any repentant mortal sinner who confesses to a Pixie priest one minute later than 11.59pm on December 8,  2016 will remain, objectively, in a state of damnation?  Is that what Pope Francis really meant?  Isn’t that exactly the kind of pharasaical legalism that the Pope frequently condemns among what he calls “so-called traditionalists”.

The claim that the SSPX is in an ongoing state of schism is now completely untenable. If the Pixies were really schismatic, the Church would regard all their sacraments as valid, just like those of the Orthodox, and the Pope would have no jurisdiction over them. His statement would then be completely pointless. He clearly regards the clergy and laity of the SSPX as truly Catholic, with “good faith and sacramental practice” although in a  grey area canonically.  The concept of schism cannot rationally be extended to include those in an “uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint ”.

No, the Pixies are not schismatics, whatever else they are.

Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.tv is another Pixie-basher.  But unlike some contributors to the ICF he gives the impression of rather relishing the prospect of SSPX adherents facing the prospect of hell.

If you have time, you might like to read a letter to Pope Francis about the recent synod.  Note who it’s from…..

Holy Father,

It is with grave concern that we see around us the gradual degradation of marriage and the family, the origin and foundation of all human society. This decay is beginning to accelerate strongly, notably through the legal promotion of the most immoral and depraved behaviour. The law of God, even the natural law, is today publicly trampled underfoot, the most serious sins multiply dramatically and cry to Heaven for vengeance.

Most Holy Father,

We cannot hide from you that the first part of the Synod dedicated to “Family pastoral challenges in the context of evangelisation” alarmed us very deeply. We have heard and read, according to some bishops – who support you without contradiction – statements so contrary to the truth, so opposed to the clear and consistent teaching of the Church regarding the sanctity of marriage, that our soul has been deeply troubled by them. What worries us even more are some of your words implying that there could be an evolution of doctrine to meet the new needs of Christian people. Our concern is that St Pius X condemned in the encyclical Pascendi Gregis such a development of dogma  on the pretended basis of contemporary requirements. Pius X and you, Holy Father, have received the fullness of the power of teaching, sanctifying and governing in obedience to Christ who is the head and shepherd of the flock at all times and in every place, and whose Pope must be the true Vicar on this earth. The object of a dogmatic condemnation does not become, over time, an authorised pastoral practice.

God, the author of nature, has established the stable union of man and woman to perpetuate the human species. The revelation of the Old Testament teaches us, in the most obvious way, that marriage, unique and indissoluble, between a man and a woman, has been directly established by God, and that its essential characteristics have been given by Him to men of freewill to live under a very particular divine protection: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife” (Ex 20, 17).

The Gospel teaches us that Jesus Himself, by virtue of His supreme authority, definitively restored marriage, changed by the corruption of men, to its primitive purity. “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt 19: 6).

It is the glory of the Catholic Church, throughout the centuries, to have defended the human and divine reality of marriage against the wind and the waves, despite demands, threats and temptations. She has always carried high – even when corrupt men abandoned her for that reason alone – the standard of faithfulness, purity and fertility that characterise true conjugal and family love.

As we approach the second part of this Synod dedicated to the family, we are conscious of our duty to express to the Holy See the deep anxieties that seize us at the thought of “conclusions” that could be proposed on this occasion, if by great misfortune they were to constitute a new attack against the sanctity of marriage and the family, further weakening the status of couples and households. We hope with all our heart, however, that the Synod will perform a true work of mercy recalling, for the good of souls, the integral saving teaching on marriage.

We are fully aware, in the current context, that people who are living in irregular marriage situations should be welcomed pastorally, with compassion, so as to show them the merciful face of the God of love made known by the Church.

But the law of God, an expression of His eternal love for men, constitutes by itself the supreme mercy for all times, people and situations. We pray therefore that the evangelical truth of marriage that the Synod should proclaim may not be circumvented in practice by multiple “pastoral exceptions” that would distort its true meaning, or by new legislation that would abolish (quasi infallibly) its true scope. On this point, we cannot conceal from you that the recent canonical provisions of the motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, facilitating accelerated declarations of nullity, will open the door de facto to a procedure of so-called “Catholic divorce”, despite the reminders about the indissolubility of marriage that accompany it. These provisions follow the evolution of contemporary mores, without trying to rectify them according to the divine law; since then, how can we not be upset about the fate of children born of these marriages annulled with such speed, the sad victims of the “culture of waste”?

In the sixteenth century, Pope Clement VII refused Henry VIII of England the divorce that he demanded. Faced with the threat of the Anglican schism, the pope maintained, against all pressures, the intangible teaching of Christ and His Church on the indissolubility of marriage. Will his decision now be disavowed in a “canonical repentance”?

Today, around the world, many families have mobilised themselves courageously against civil laws that undermine the natural and Christian family, and publicly encourage vile behaviour contrary to the most elementary morality. Can the Church abandon those who, sometimes to their own detriment and always mocked and jeered, lead this necessary but difficult battle? This would be a disastrous counter-witness, and would be a source of disgust and discouragement for these people. Men of the Church, on the contrary, by their very mission, must give these people clear and reasoned support.

Holy Father,

For the honour of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the consolation of the Church and all the Catholic faithful, for the good of society and all humanity at this crucial time, we implore you to make resound throughout the world a word of truth, clarity and firmness in defence of Christian and even simply human marriage, in support of its foundation, namely the difference and complementarity of the sexes, in support of its uniqueness and its indissolubility . Filially, we beseech you to make that word ring out, accompanied by effective measures showing your support of the Catholic family by your actions.

We entrust this humble petition to the patronage of St John the Baptist, who underwent martyrdom for defending publicly, against a civil authority compromised by an outrageous “remarriage” , the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage; begging the precursor to give Your Holiness the courage to remind the whole world of the true doctrine concerning natural and Christian marriage.

+ Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X





December 24, 2015

Another Caning for BBC’s ‘Ed’

Fr John Hunwicke has  had another ago at BBC radio’s tiresome  programme ‘Sunday’ and its presenter Edward Stourton, scion  of an old recusant family and still alleged to be a Catholic:  

In the December 20 ‘Sunday’ programme, the presenter, ‘Ed’ Stourton, a Catholic who ‘remarried’ after divorce, invited ‘Michael Walsh, a papal historian’, to explain Indulgences.

He did not mention that Walsh is an ex-Jesuit with a history of attacking the Vatican and the previous pontificate; a Tablet contributor. ‘A papal historian’ sounds so much grander than ‘a failed Jesuit who has attacked the Vatican in the Tablet’.

By the way … I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this … Stourton, inevitably, is a Trustee of the Tablet.

The first conspicuous feature of the episode was the laughter. The pair kept giggling together: I counted six pieces of mirth.

I wonder if either of this spiteful and malevolent pair would ever dare to deal with any other religion … Islam, say … by continually laughing as they talked about it. Or, if they did, how fast the Beeb would sack them.

And there were two major pieces of misrepresentation. (1) The ‘papal historian’ appeared unaware that, as long ago as 1967, the practice of attaching periods of time to partial indulgences was abolished. He described this practice using the present tense.

And, (2), either out of ignorance or mendacity, ‘papal historian’ Walsh went on to claim that Pope Francis ‘has never mentioned [indulgences]’; and ‘that’s not where we are at the moment’. The implication of the interview appeared to be that Indulgences are a load of old rubbish which Sensible Pope Francis is burying by very studiously not mentioning. So what is the truth of the matter?

‘This practice [gaining indulgences] will acquire an even more important meaning [magnum pondus] in the Holy Year of Mercy.’ This is from a paragraph in the Bull of Indiction, in which the Roman Pontiff goes on to commend the practice. Furthermore, in a Letter dated 1 September 2015, our Holy Father set out at length the methods of securing Indulgences during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And, in his Bull, he carefully explained their purpose: that Absolution remits sin, but ‘the sin leaves a negative effect [contradictionem]’. An indulgence ‘frees us from even the residue [vestigia] left by the consequences of sin’.

I fail to see why this weekly BBC programme, its ‘flagship’ religious slot, should be left in the hands of Stourton, a lapsed Catholic who, like so many of his type, seems to me to be very far from being neutral with regard to the religion which he once professed. And why, if it must give space to someone like Walsh, the Beeb doesn’t balance him with somebody who will defend the Church, even if only by giving accurate information about her.

I thought ‘balance’ was supposed to be one of the BBC rules.

Some years ago Mr Stourton  belittled  the Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict, enabling disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while keeping some aspects of their patrimony. It was a generous  and wise gesture, an example of true ecumenism in action, but Stourton  brought on two people, one Catholic and one Anglican, to scoff at it. Said Fr H.:

He should have been caned more often at Ampleforth: this morning he used a word ‘cacaphony’, which I can only imagine is a combination of the Latin cacare and the Greek phone and presumably means ‘the sound one makes while defecating’. His programme exemplified his own neologism to perfection.

December 21, 2015

Bowdlerising  A Christmas Carol

At 10 past eight on Saturday morning I was listening—as is my customto It Says in the Papers on RTÉ Radio One. Presenter John S. Doyle is one of the better contributors to this programme. He avoids misplaced attempts at humour and sometimes manages to include what I would call items of a counter-cultural” drift: meaning ones of which the Montrose/Irish Times axis would not approve.

I sat up when John S. mentioned a critique of a Christmas television advertisement for Dunne’s stores. Here’s how that ad. is worded:

He walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on their heads, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure.  He had never dreamed that any walkthat anythingcould give him so much happiness.

I must have seen that ad. a dozen times, but I had not appreciated that the words are from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The he is the reformed miser Ebenezer Scrooge. In the Dunnes Stores ad. it is a young father on his way home at Christmas time. However, the original passage contains a few words omitted by the Dunnes ad. I have put them in bold type here:

[Scrooge] went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows; and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk — that anything — could give him so much happiness.

Unfortunately, try as I may, I can’t find the original article quoted by John S. Doyle, so I don’t know who wrote it, and for what publication. But Mr. Doyle thought it worthy of note, and so do I.

You wonder why? Well, it’s yet another indication of just how post-Catholic pluralist Ireland has become in the past few decades. An ad. like this one would have been very carefully planned, and many people would have had a hand in it. Someone at one of the planning conferences called before the ad. took its final shape would have said it was incongruous, in 21st-century Ireland, for a young father to be going to church. And beggars? Yes, we still have have plenty of those, but it’s not helpful for business to draw people’s attention to the fact.

That’s obviously how the passage from Dickens came to be bowdlerised. But it’s odd, when you come to think of it, that patted the children on the head escaped the blue pencil. Did no one one think this might be interpreted as a preliminary to paedophilia?

There was quite a strange sequel to this. The Papers slot is repeated after the 9am news, and in my day at least was not often changed from the Saturday 8am edition. But I listened again, because I had a suspicion that someone, possibly Dunnes themselves, might have phoned in to complain that the item as reported by John S. Doyle was damaging to their image. Sure enough, the Christmas Carol item had been deleted.

Dunnes in fact have quite a good reputation when it comes to religion. Their store in Cornelscourt, just up the road from me, has a chapel where there are two Masses a day. If you are lucky, you’ll get a half-decent Novus Ordo; if not, it’ll be some chasuble-less chancer of a celebrant who misquotes Sacred Scripture at the Consecration.

December 15, 2015

Are You a Sick Fundamentalist?

“Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions,”  said Pope Francis on the plane on his way back from Africa.  “We Catholics have some—and not some, many—who believe in the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil.”

Well yes, Holy Father. Up to a point. But there’s one kind of fundamentalism which, though perhaps sometimes sinful, usually is not. There is another which leads to monstrous deeds of violence. An unknown, but certainly a large number of Moslems, justify violence in furthering their religion. Christians—including Catholics—just don’t.  To prove  the point, consider the absurdity of this spoof news report, concocted by the blog Ignatius His Conclave:

Moslem leaders throughout the world have combined to condemn the atrocities which last Friday appalled us all with their severity.

Over two hundred people were killed when American Episcopalian suicide bombers attacked the Grand Mosque in Damascus. Simultaneously in Egypt and Morocco groups of armed terrorists burst into a tourist hotel and a shopping mall, firing automatic weapons and killing innocent bystanders with random gunfire.

One observer reported that the gunmen who burst into Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo shouted ‘Jesus Christ is Lord!’ as they showered bullets into the crowd. The Moroccan terror group, who drove jeeps loaded with high explosives into a busy souk, were thought to be United Methodists.

A spokesperson for the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: ‘We must show compassion to our Christian brothers and sisters. These crimes are the work of disturbed criminal minorities. Christianity is essentially a religion of justice and peace.’

The Ayatollah himself later admitted, on the BBC World Service, that such events caused him to doubt his faith  ‘Where,’ he asked, ‘was Allah in all this?’

December 10, 2015

On Growing Pointy Ears

It is rather annoying to be accused of  being a Lefevbvrist merely because one has been seen attending a Society of St Pius X Mass—as has happened to me on more than one occasion.

In  fact, Stramentaria and I could  save ourselves a 20-mile round trip  every Sunday by attending the SSPX church of St John in Mounttown, Dún Laoghaire. Instead, we drive to the Latin Mass chaplaincy in Harrington Street, Dublin because we believe that if the archdiocese provides the Traditional Latin Mass, then, other things being equal, one ought to attend it.  A piece of literature I was once handed in St Johns stated that if the only choice I had was to attend the Novus Ordo or what used to be (incorrectly) called the Indult Mass, I could be excused my Sunday obligation.  Pixies can sometimes be quite pig-headedly wrong—the Irish ones, anyway.

Image result for pixie ears

I’m told—and I believe it—that the English variety are more broadminded. The ones I met at their chapel in Taunton, Somerset 10 days or so ago seemed a pleasant and cheerful bunch. Most had driven large distances in foul weather. Their priest, incidentally, was a French ex-paratrooper.

No one could describe Fr John Zuhlsdorf  as a Pixie sympathiser.  Yet in a recent post on his blog wdtprs (What Does the Prayer Really Say?) he states:

May I attend a Mass by an SSPX priest during the Year of Mercy to fulfill my Sunday obligation? What is the current status of their Mass and is it affected by the Year of Mercy declaration by Pope Francis on the SSPX?

Yes, attendance at a Mass by an SSPX priest can fulfill your Sunday Obligation… even before the Year of Mercy and also afterward. This is unaffected by Francis’ decision to grant (albeit indirectly) the faculty to priests of the SSPX to receive sacramental confessions and to absolve validly.

In order to absolve validly, a priest must have more than just his valid priesthood. He must have the Church’s permission to exercise the power to forgive sins because absolution involves the binding and loosing associated with the Power of the Keys, jurisdiction. That’s different from the priest’s ability validly to confect the Eucharist. The priest needs the Church’s permission to say Mass, but that permission is needed for liceity, not for validity. In the case of confession, the priest needs permission for both validity and liceity.

The Church’s Law (for the Latin Church) says that to fulfill our Sunday (and Holy Day) Obligation we must attend Holy Mass in a Catholic rite on the day itself or on its vigil.

Canon 1248 § 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states:

The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.

That’s the law, plain and simple.

Some claim that you cannot fulfill your obligation at an SSPX chapel.  Unless there has been some kind of official statement to the contrary from the Holy See, they are wrong.  It has been the long-standing position of the Holy See that you do fulfil your obligation this way.

My own completely fallible and subjective opinion is that if one hears Mass regularly at an SSPX chapel one should, from time to time, attend  a Novus Ordo Mass in order to be certain of remaining in communion with the ordinary of your diocese.



December 5, 2015

Transmisogyny and transfelinophobia

The feminist Germaine Greer has been in serious trouble for suggesting, in her crude antipodean way, that it’s impossible for men to turn themselves into women merely by chopping off part of their anatomy and putting on a skirt. Three thousand students at Cardiff University signed a petition accusing her of  “transmisogyny” and demanding that she be banned from giving a lecture on the campus.

Ms Greer may not be a very nice lady, and she certainly has a crude way of expressing herself, but there are few people who can hit nails on heads with greater accuracy. Once, on some TV chat show in the days when it was still possible to have a rational discussion about the pros and cons of sodomy, she  was assured by an earnest homosexual campaigner that there was nothing insanitary or dangerous about what they did. “Really?” replied Ms Greer. “Do you always use an  enema beforehand?”

Her book The Whole Woman included a chapter entitled “Pantomime Dames”, in which she stated:

Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognise as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex. No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight.

When I was eight or nine years old my best friend was a large ginger and white cat by the name of Simpkin. I was so fond of him that I wanted to be a cat myself, and used to fantasize that I was one. The day may not be too far off when I can realise my dream by obtaining a large furry tail, attaching it to my coccyx, letting some of my facial hair grow into whiskers, perfecting a loud purr, and announcing that I am a cat. Anyone who challenges me will be guilty of transfelinophobia.

The Chris Hansen