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April 29th, 2016

Sancta Catherina, Ora Pro Nobis!

Today I am fuming, and wondering for the umpteenth time how much longer I can put up with Newchurch and the Novus Ordo Mass…

It’s the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, whether you are reading this today or tomorrow. It has always  been April 30th, but for some inexplicable reason  those who concocted Archbishop Bugnini’s new calendar moved it back by one day.

Having uttered his customary  non-rubrical   salutation  “Good Morning” (now de rigueur in most parishes) Father told us a little about St. Catherine. She was a “strong woman”  (of course) who had told the Pope of her day what to do.  Imagine a woman of the fourteenth century ordering a Pope around!  But being a sensible man, said Father, he had agreed to obey her and return from Avignon to live in Rome.

I’ve been reading up a bit about this. What actually happened subsequently was that  Catherine  received reports that Gregory XI, influenced by the French cardinals, was having second thoughts. Catherine (who, though now a Doctor of the Church, was illiterate) dictated letters urging the pope to fulfil his promise and make the hard decision: “I beg of you, on behalf of Christ crucified, that you be not a timorous child but manly. Open your mouth and swallow down the bitter for the sweet.” Apparently he was afraid  of being poisoned by French cardinals if he went back to Rome. But Catherine continued:

I have prayed, and shall pray sweet and good Jesus that He free you from all servile fear, and that holy fear alone remain.  May ardour of charity be in you, in such wise as shall prevent you from hearing the voice of incarnate demons, and heeding the counsel of perverse counsellors, settled in self-love, who, as I understand, want to alarm you, so as to prevent your return, saying, ‘You will die’.  Up, father, like a man!  For I tell you that you have no need to fear.

Gregory XI listened to the pleadings and prayers of St. Catherine of Siena and returned the papacy to Rome on January 17, 1377. The scandal and shame of the Avignon papacy was at an end.

It occurred to me that maybe we could do with another St. Catherine today. Talk about “the counsel of perverse counsellors, settled in self-love”.

After the Gospel Father told us about Pope Francis’ beautiful apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and how wonderful and merciful  it was, and how important it was to make  everyone feel included. What made me so furious was that many of the congregation, having heard about  the controversy and confusion over whether or not this means unrepentant adulterers can be admitted to Holy Communion, may well now believe that indeed they can.

Maybe I should have stood up and challenged him, but I didn’t have the guts. I decided I was in no frame of mind to receive Holy Communion, so I didn’t. I don’t believe being angry with a priest in circumstances like these is a great juicy mortaller, but I just felt I shouldn’t.

Did I do right? What would St. Catherine have done?

 

 

April 26th, 2016

Carry On Sinning

(Part II of a series, edited from an article in The Remnant)

Having pointed out that  Amoris Laetitia, while not explicitly changing Catholic doctrine on divorce and remarriage, will  effectively allow  public unrepentant  adulterers  to receive Holy Communion, Christopher Ferrara  next argues that to  reduce marriage to an “ideal” radically undermines respect for the divine institution  Pope Francis is purporting to defend.

As Francis would have it, the Church will now integrate unrepentant, habitual, public mortal sinners into ecclesial life, even though the Church has always taught, for their own salvation, that  they are not living members of the Church until they repent, are absolved of their sins, and are restored to the life of sanctifying grace. This “integration” plan will include, but not be limited to, those living in adulterous second “marriages” or simply cohabitating with no intention of ending their immoral situations.

This is to be done on the pretext that such people are just so helpless in their sins that they cannot be deemed culpable for them or be required to amend their lives at present, and that “mercy” requires that the Church accommodate their “weakness” until they “grow” spiritually at some point in the indefinite future. But what of God’s grace? In the usual postconciliar mode of Modernist doubletalk, Amoris Laetitia blatantly contradicts itself by declaring: “Through his Church, Christ bestows on marriage and the family the grace necessary to bear witness to the love of God and to live the life of communion (¶ 63).”

One can only laugh at the Synod’s claim that poverty makes a simple Catholic wedding ceremony impossible, or that “shacking up” is less expensive than living in Holy Matrimony under the same roof with the same person.

According to Francis, “de facto unions” are now to be viewed as “opportunities that can lead to the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel.” (294) Thus people living in sin are now said to have “part” of the reality of marriage—a proposition as nonsensical as the claim that heretics who reject the very existence of the Catholic Church and practice various forms of gravely sinful sexual immorality are somehow in “partial communion” with her.

What Romano Amerio has called the “loss of essences” in postconciliar thinking—a tendency to avoid distinguishing with exactitude good from bad, true from false, licit from illicit and often even one thing from another—now claims Christian marriage and even the moral law itself. The reduction of marriage to an “ideal” radically undermines respect for the divine institution Francis purports to defend, and the only licit conjugal relation between man and woman now becomes the mere end point on a scale of relational choices, all of which are to be viewed as more or less good. Mortally sinful sexual unions are no longer to be treated as threats to salvation, but only as stages in a “gradual” moral development.

This “loss of essences” is practically a theme in Amoris Laetitia. Accordingly, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, notorious for his “gay-friendly” and pro-divorce orientation, rejoiced during his presentation of the document to the world: “My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’…”—that is, between moral and immoral conjugal unions. 

In sum, Francis’s novel “pastoral discernment” ignores objective conduct in favor of a programmatically indulgent presumption that people living in a continual state of public adultery are subjectively blameless for a myriad of reasons that could be found in their “concrete” situations. According to this approach, it would be impossible to insist that anyone is “subjectively” in a state of mortal sin that would impede his participation in any aspect of ecclesial life no matter what his “objective” behavior. This idea will eventuate in the explicit opening to Confession and Holy Communion in paragraph 305.

To be continued.

April 25th, 2016

Deadly Poison in Amoris Laetitia

As commentary for and against Amoris Laetitia continues to pour in, I thought it might be useful to have a look at one of the most trenchant critiques of this Apostolic Exhortation. It’s by Christopher Ferrara,  pro-life activist and President of  the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association.

The article, in The Remnant newspaper deals exhaustively with Amoris Laetitia which—given the huge length of that document—is surely necessary.  I thought I would take some salient points from it  and spread them over several blogposts.  Mr Ferrara begins with a startling metaphor:

If a world-renowned head chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant served us a cake whose recipe included “1 tsp. cyanide,” we would hardly praise the other wholesome ingredients because of the chef’s prestige. We would throw the thing away and have him arrested.

Where an admittedly subversive “Apostolic Exhortation” is concerned, the faithful have no duty to parse it for acceptable Catholic teaching on marriage and family. Have we not had more than enough of this nonsense? It is not the responsibility of the faithful to “purify” defective papal teaching with defensive post-publication commentaries that “accentuate the positive” while ignoring the negative. It is the Pope’s responsibility to give the faithful teaching whose purity they can trust implicitly in the first place—on every page of every document.

As for those parts of Amoris Laetitia which affirm, however verbosely, aspects of traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and family, we already have that teaching in abundance from innumerable sources of the infallible Magisterium, including  beautifully written landmark encyclicals [such as Casti Connubii] to which faithful Catholics have already given assent of mind and will. As for unfaithful Catholics, they will not even bother to read the thing, but will simply be content with the news, now being trumpeted throughout the world, that Francis has lightened up on all that “adultery” business. And if, at the end of the tumultuous “synodal journey” that Francis insisted upon and stage-managed from start to finish, tradition-minded Catholics are supposed to exult merely because he did not do what he had no power to do anyway—“change doctrine”—then what was the point of the whole “Synod on the Family”?

The answer to this question is now obvious to anyone in possession of his reason. The Synod was merely the delivery vehicle for Amoris Laetitia, wherein Francis…finally arrives at the destination he has arranged from the beginning: admission of “certain” (ultimately all) divorced and “remarried” Catholics, along with other habitual public sinners of the sexual variety, to Confession and Holy Communion without prior repentance and amendment of life. The bare doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage is left untouched—indeed paragraph after paragraph of flowery praise is heaped upon it—while Francis’s plan for ignoring it in practice is finally confirmed. Amoris Laetitia widens to commodious dimensions  the opening for the outcome already created by the infamous paragraphs 84-86 of the final report of Synod 2015.

To be continued.

April 22nd, 2016

Amoris Laetitia Is a Bad Egg

 
The above is one of the most famous cartoons ever to have appeared in Punch.  Parts of  Amoris Laetitia are excellent too, or  so we are given to understand. But that’s not really the point, is it?  Taken as a whole, it stinks.

Some neo-Catholics have praised the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia because of its emphasis on “meeting people where they are at” rather than condemning their particular sinful situation.  Seems  commendably merciful, but it makes me very uneasy all the same.   All too easily this policy can be interpreted to mean  tacitly accepting that “where they are at” is where they ought to be. That is what  the Mods—in particular the German bishops— are already doing.

In another of his disastrous mid-air Press conferences, Pope Francis was asked to clarify the  position on “remarriage” and Holy Communion. He made  the confusion worse confounded by pointing to the interpretation of the  devious  Austrian Cardinal Schönborn.  I fear that although the Pope cannot change Church teaching, he can and has changed Church practice, as he clearly intended to do before the “Synod on the Family” was even called. It looks as though from now on, in many European countries at least, permissions for “divorced and remarried” Catholics to receive Holy Communion will be poured through in ever-increasing numbers.

How should a confused Catholic react? I don’t know, but I don’t think the “We’re all doomed”  response of some Traddy bloggers (following Private Fraser in Dad’s Army) is particularly helpful.

Related image
Private Fraser

Unfortunately, one of those who thinks we’re all doomed is Hilary White, whose blog “What’s Up with Francis-Church?” is usually  realistic as well as caustic.  She believes that  because Cardinal Burke is  simply  pointing out that Amoris Laetitia is non-magisterial, rather than yelling abuse at the Holy Father, the Cardinal has thrown his most loyal supporters under the bus and may as well be some kind of modernist.  But Eccles, whose blog posts are getting progressively funnier, refutes any such idea with this picture and caption:

Burke in Cappa Magna 

Warning – this is what a nasty liberal modernist looks like.

Even though we’re not necessarily doomed, this is a catastrophe all the same. As Professor Roberto de Mattei has commented:

If the text is catastrophic, even more catastrophic is the fact that it was signed by the Vicar of Christ. Even so, for those who love Christ and His Church, this is a good reason to speak and not be silent.  So, let’s make ours the words of a courageous Bishop, Athanasius Schneider:
‘Non possumus!’ I will not accept an obfuscated speech nor a skilfully masked back door to a profanation of the Sacraments of Marriage and Eucharist. Likewise, I will not accept a mockery of the Sixth Commandment of God. I prefer to be ridiculed and persecuted rather than to accept ambiguous texts and insincere methods.
Bishop Schneider made this remark some months ago, but it’s even more relevant today.

 

 

 

April 19th, 2016

Getting Mr Erdogan’s Goat

I know I promised that this post would deal further with the fallout from Amoris Laetitia, but that will have to wait.

I’ve just read  the funniest, cleverest and most startling  piece of Brexit  propaganda I’ve seen so far, written  by the Vote Leave leader Boris Johnson in the British Daily Telegraph, and it’s so cogent that if I weren’t a Brexit man already, I think it would convert me on the spot.

To set the scene. On German television, a  young comedian named Jan Boehmermann described President Erdogan of Turkey as a goat ******.  No, that in itself is not at all funny, or clever, though I suppose some Germans and others might find it so. But wait.

Mr Johnson relates that the episode has, as they say, got Mr Erdogan’s goat, to such an extent that the Turkish President demanded that Mr Boehmermann be prosecuted  under a statute dating back to the days of Kaiser Wilhelm II for causing offence to the leader of a foreign state.  The offence carries a penalty of up to five years in gaol.

And yet, as Mr Johnson says, there is surely no one of any importance who seriously believes that there has been any kind of romance involving Mr Erdogan and any other non-human mammal, caprine or otherwise.

But what is truly incredible—indeed what is positively shocking—is that the German government has agreed at the express request of Angela Merkel that the prosecution should go ahead. She did not have to do so. She could have said no. The matter was entirely at her discretion. Plenty of German politicians were telling her that any such legal action would be an outrageous infringement of free speech—an act of censorship that smacked of some of the darkest moments in Germany’s 20th century history.

And yet she numbly decided to kowtow to the demands of Erdogan, who is engaged in a chilling suppression of Turkish freedom of expression. Erdogan only became president 18 months ago—and yet in that time prosecutors have opened 1,845 cases against people accused of insulting him, including a doctor who posted a picture of Erdogan on social media, next to a picture of Gollum.

Mrs Merkel’s decision to  appease this Turkish autocrat, thought shameful, makes sense in a cynical sort of way.  Because of the German Chancellor’s open-door policy on refugees (which she now bitterly regrets)  migrants have been flooding into Germany and other countries, through Turkey. Now a fragile deal has been done, through which Turkey agrees to take back refugees from Greece, in return for cash, and strong hints of possible EU membership. Turkey could renege on the deal at any time, and this, as Mr Johnson points out, could have a devastating effect on EU integration—in particular, it could easily induce British voters to leave the EU.

If I were a very rich man, and I heard that Mr Erdogan was paying a state visit to Dublin, I think I would rent a crowd,  dress them in goatskins,  and pay them to shout  “Maaaaa”  all along the presidential route.

Through a little exploration of the Internet I discovered why Mr Johnson has such an interest in Turkish affairs. His great grandfather was Ali Kemal Bey, a highly-principled Turkish politician and poet who fell foul of the Ankara government in the early part of  in the last century. Kemal was kidnapped by the authorities, handed over to a mob and beaten almost to death before being hanged. One cause of his unpopularity was his condemnation of the massacre of Armenians during the First World War. Most Turks still refuse to admit this massacre ever happened.

The Leave Campaign did well to choose the witty and extremely able Mr Johnson as their leader.  The only criticism I would make of him concerns a rather silly PC  television programme he made about the Crusades.

 

 

April 15th, 2016

THE BOURGEOIS RELIGION OF POPE FRANCIS

I’ve been taking my time about  commenting on Pope Francis’  Amoris Laetitia, because before going off the deep end I wanted to spend sufficient time reading what various authorities, both Trad and Neo-Catholic, have had to say.  (Forget about the Mods.)

The most interesting thing to note is that both wings of the “conservative” Church (I hate using these political expressions but these days one can’t avoid it) are united in their alarm and concern at the stunt the Holy Father is clearly trying to perform. He wants to make it possible to admit divorced and “remarried” people to  Holy Communion without actually saying so.

Since its foundation  in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus, a convert from Lutheranism, First Things has become been the leading Neo-Catholic publication in the United States, if not the world. Its claim to be America’s most influential journal on religion is no idle boast. It has always shown complete loyalty to the reigning pontiff, whoever he happens to be.

So when First Things now expresses dissent from this latest exhortation, all Catholics should sit up and take notice. I am grateful to David Manly for drawing my attention to this piece by editor  R.R. Reno. It’s rather infelicitously entitled “A Stubborn Givenness”, but we’ll forgive Mr Reno because in his  dissection of  Pope Francis’ thesis he sums it up as  “the essence of  bourgeois religion”. David thinks Mr Reno’s is  the best commentary on the exhortation  so far, and you may well agree.  Anyway, enjoy:

The Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, brings into the open a disturbing trend in this pontificate. Ironically, Pope Francis’s pastoral vision seems to entail the same use-oriented individualism that he so forcefully criticizes in social and economic life.

Francis doesn’t actually say that divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion. Amoris Laetitia explicitly affirms the church’s teaching on marriage. But in long digressions into the complexities of moral and pastoral discernment, Francis provides plenty of justifications for others to say that, yes, in particular situations, divorced and married Catholics can receive communion. All the while, Francis insists that the Catholic teaching on marriage must be affirmed. The ambiguity seems intentional, designed to increase scope for pastoral discretion.

The Catholic teaching on marriage is clear: It is permanent and cannot be dissolved. This is not a merely canonical matter, as though church officials at some point resolved to make indissolubility a feature of Catholic marriage. Christ warns us not to put asunder what God has put together. St. Paul associates the covenant of marriage with the unbreakable bond of God’s love for us in Christ. Then, in a move characteristic of Catholicism, the Church teaches that in our wedding rites, the sacramental promise of permanence becomes real, just as Christ’s promise to be with us until the end of the age becomes real in the transubstantiation of the bread and wine on the altar.

For these reasons, the Catholic Church has never held that civil divorce can end a marriage. Although church leaders speak of a divorced and remarried people, in the Church’s language, unless the first marriage is declared invalid through annulment, they are not “remarried”.Their first marriage is still in effect, and they are living in an adulterous relationship they mistakenly imagine to be a “second marriage”.

The sacramental discipline follows as a matter of course. St. Paul warned against profaning the body and blood of Christ, and so Catholicism, like many other Christian churches, “fences” the altar. The Church encourages proper preparation to receive Communion, and in some circumstances prohibits reception.

It’s not hard to see why this is the case for divorced and remarried people. They are not just violating one of the Ten Commandments. In their second marriage they’ve made a vow to do so. As a consequence, Catholicism has long held that a second marriage (without annulment or the death of the first spouse) is an objective impediment to full Eucharistic participation (unless the couple “lives as brother and sister,” as tradition puts it).

By my reading, in key paragraphs in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis argues that a second marriage need not be an objective impediment to the reception of Communion. He does so by shifting the emphasis away from the objective to the subjective. We see this in the emphasis Francis puts on conscience, discernment, and pastoral guidance. It’s also evident in concerns that those in “irregular” situations not “feel as excommunicated members of the Church”.

But the turn to the subject is clearest in his unacknowledged but very important shift to marriage as an “ideal”. By this way of thinking, permanence becomes an ideal to be sought, not something intrinsic to marriage itself.

This shift allows Francis to speak of someone who, although divorced, remains committed to the ideal of marriage, including permanence, and who seeks the grace of God to realize this ideal in his or her second marriage.

As he says of those who divorce, “It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and the family”. Moreover, “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.”

These seem like decisive affirmations, but they’re not. The “objective situation” of divorce becomes secondary. An ideal does not reside in a state of affairs such as marital status, but rather in our intentions. So the driving question is subjective: Are we committed to the ideal of marriage?

Answering requires discernment. In a long section, Francis itemizes the questions that should guide the examination of conscience a divorced person should undertake. How were the children of the first marriage treated? Were attempts at reconciliation made? What of the abandoned spouse? What has the divorce meant for the community of faith and how has it harmed the institutions of marriage?

We have a tendency to deceive ourselves about our culpability and real commitments. So Francis requires that this examination be conducted in “conversation with the priest” so that “correct judgment” can be made about “what hinders full participation in the life of the Church and on what steps can foster it and make it grow”.

What Francis is saying, therefore, is that it’s not, perhaps, always the case that being divorced “hinders full participation”.What matters are the ideals that animate a person’s soul, not the “objective situation” of divorce. Does the person desire to realize the ideal of permanence in marriage this time around? If this desire is present, perhaps it’s possible for the priests to take “steps to foster it and make it grow.”

In a crucial footnote, Francis points out that fostering growth toward the “ideal” “can include the help of the sacraments”.  To underscore the full meaning of this observation, he goes on to say that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” Thus, although he never says divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion, he provides priests and bishops with a way of thinking that allows them to conclude that, in certain circumstances, the divorce and remarried can enjoy “full participation”. Having translated the goods of marriage into an ideal, Francis is able to assert the ideal unequivocally, while muddying the specific question whether any particular divorced and remarried person can receive Communion.

I am not at all surprised by this. For twenty years I taught with Jesuits at Creighton University, many of whom I admired, even though I had reservations about their methods. Francis follows their pattern.

The first dimension is a persistent clericalism. On the matter of the divorced and remarried, Francis turns the pastor into the arbiter of who can and cannot receive communion—a decision based on a priest’s judgment of the interior spiritual condition of an individual Catholic. Francis sets aside the objective clarity of canon law, something that gives the lay Catholic a place to stand and leverage against limitless clerical discretion.

Moreover, the approach Francis outlines encourages a bourgeois outlook, as is often the case for the Society of Jesus. Why is it that some divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion, but not others? The problem becomes all the greater because Francis has set up a process of discernment that is intensely subjective and private. The required conversation with the priest concerns questions of individual conscience. It’s a conversation no responsible priest would make public in order to justify his decision to allow a divorced and remarried person to receive communion.

Here is the response Francis gives: “When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard”. In short, the “good people” with “good reputations” can be trusted. Allowing this mentality to take hold is the essence of bourgeois religion, which is precisely what clear canonical principles prevent. Law, unlike discernment, is no respecter of persons.

Most characteristic of the Jesuits is the way Francis instrumentalizes the sacramental life of the Church. It’s clear that he’s deeply pained by the possibility that an “objective situation” might impede a pastoral application of the full range of the Church’s sacramental system. Thus, in Amoris Laetitia the sacraments become tools to move a person toward the “ideal”.

This mentality has been characteristic of the Society of Jesus from the outset. St. Ignatius famously allowed that an individual Jesuit might, in certain circumstances, be released from the obligation to say the daily office. Discernment is required, of course, but if the daily regime of prayer stands in the way of the missionary goal, it can be suspended.

The same goes for the Jesuit emphasis on the intellectual life. It’s almost always an instrumental commitment, a way to evangelize, or to advance other goals. We see this in the fate of Thomism among Jesuits. They dropped it almost instantaneously after the Second Vatican Council—and this after having been known for their ardent Thomism. A religious order that can change horses so quickly isn’t one that encourages deep intellectual loyalty to any particular ideas. What matters more is their usefulness.

We need to make judicious judgments about what is essential and instrumental. The Spiritual Exercises developed by St. Ignatius encourage a deep and profound interior clarification of Christ’s mission and our roles in it. This helps us discern what we must take up to better serve His ends—and what we must discard.

In the tortured material on “irregular” relationships, Francis demonstrates the Jesuit tendency to excess, however. He instrumentalizes the Church’s sacramental system. What gets in the way of realizing the “ideal,” must be made less rigid. What’s helpful—Eucharistic reception—must be made more available. It’s as if Christ instituted nothing permanent on earth, but only gave us a goal, sent us on mission.

The instrumentalization is ironic, for it mimics the technological mentality Francis criticizes so vigorously elsewhere. Francis Bacon was an early modern theorist of the scientific and technological conquest of nature for the “relief of man’s estate”. As Laudato Si points out, this may seem philanthropic, but it desacralizes nature and encourages a mentality of domination and control. Francis seems to have the same view of the Church that Bacon had of nature. It’s raw material for pastoral virtuosos to deploy in order to move people closer to God. He’s impatient with the limitations mposed by “objective situations.” He speaks of a church “in permanent mission,” giving the impression that divine things are sacred only insofar as they’re useful in moving people toward missionary goals. In his ministry, everything must be available—in every situation. The sacred begins to merge with the useful.

Amoris Laetitia has many wise and beautiful things to say about marriage and family. Francis makes extensive use of Humanae Vitae, and he strongly affirms the male-female difference. He clearly wants to resist the sexual revolution.

Yet, when it comes to a pastoral response to those of us wounded, damaged, and deformed by the sexual revolution, I fear Francis represents a spiritualized technological mentality. In this Apostolic Exhortation, when faced with the theological limitations to his vision of mercy-inspired evangelization, he employs the hyper-subjective logic of modernity. This will not end well, for it tempts us to imagine that we must master our Christian inheritance and re-engineer it into more useful, more missionary forms.

The Church’s greatest gifts to the baptized are not to be found in her “ideals” or “values”. The Church’s sacraments make real what they signify; they do not symbolize values. Christ was God made man, not an ideal. We are blessed by the fact of Christ and his Church. We should cherish the Church’s stubborn givenness, her substance—her permanence.

Further  observations on Amoris Laetitia in our next post.

 

April 11th, 2016

Marie Stopes and the Demonic

I have written quite a bit about Marie Stopes the birth control pioneer, racist and admirer of Adolf Hitler. But until today I wasn’t aware that she claimed to have heard a Voice, which she said was that of God, telling her to propagate her ideas. The information comes from ChurchMilitant, the lively and (in my opinion) sometimes intemperate American website  run by Michael Voris. It will not surprise you to learn that Mr Voris believes the Voice was in fact demonic. I think he is probably right, and you may well agree:

It should come as no surprise that abortion and contraception are from Hell. But something almost no one knows is the demonic presence testified to by one of the world’s leading contraception proponents back in the earliest days of the movement.

Marie Stopes was to England what Margaret Sanger was to the United States — a woman crazed over making birth control accepted and welcomed owing to their racist passions. Sanger is responsible for Planned Parenthood, which kills 3.8 million children through abortion worldwide every year. Stopes is largely responsible for Marie Stopes International, which kills 3.1 million children through abortion worldwide every year.

The two met at a conference in England in 1915. Stopes was a respected academic, the first woman professor at the University of Manchester. But around 1910, when she was 30 years old, she became enthralled with eugenics and wanted to reduce the number of “undesirables” in the society. She began petitioning various leaders in England, most of whom gave her the cold shoulder, despite her high academic credentials.

In 1917 she published a book — “Married Love” — promoting birth control, which was so widely popular it went through five printings in the first year. Still, the ruling class was not impressed, most especially the leaders of the Church of England, who in 1920 were gathering for their scheduled every 10th-year meeting in Lambeth Palace. Shortly before the meeting, Stopes herself relays that a voice spoke to her while she was sitting in the shade of a yew tree in her backyard.

The voice, she claimed, was the voice of God, telling her to relay to the bishops that they were to change the teaching on birth control. She dashed into the house and dictated to her secretary: “My Lords, I speak to you in the name of God. You are his priests. I am his prophet.”

And so began a work which she eventually entitled “A New Gospel to All Peoples: A Revelation of God Uniting Physiology and the Religions of Man.” It was completed by the summer and a copy sent to each of the 267 bishops at the Lambeth Conference.

In her work, she contradicted St. Paul, saying his message was 1900 years old and could now be ignored — and added: “God spoke to me today.”

She claimed God told her sexual union was not for procreation but for pleasure, that couples should use the best means of birth control “placed at man’s service by Science”.  Stopes’ vision or voice was certainly not from God, obviously, but she never denied or recanted the account. She heard a voice directing her what to do. She insisted that a supernatural voice, which she claimed was God, had given her instructions to spread birth control throughout the country and eventually the world.

She told the bishops in the letter to them that the voice had said that the bishops must teach their flocks that “the pure and holy sacrament of marriage may no longer be debased and befouled by the archaic ignorance of the centuries … .” Sexual union was for pleasure, not procreation.

At Lambeth in 1920, despite the first shiftings of public opinion, the Church of England leaders rejected Stopes’ vision and voices. Undeterred, Stopes published her “New Gospel” for the masses in 1922. It cost her dearly among her academic atheist university peers, who lost all respect for her for claiming divine visions.

A year before publishing the “New Gospel” she opened England’s first birth control clinic, but shortly thereafter moved it to… Whitfield Street near Tottenham Court Road… This site still remains an active birth control clinic as well as abortion counseling center. Like this central London clinic, Margaret Sanger had launched her country’s first clinic in Brooklyn five years earlier in 1916, making 2016 a kind of 100th anniversary of the birth control movement becoming public.

Both women detested the Catholic Church and made no bones about saying so publicly. In 1942, Stopes remarked in writing that Catholics were “a curse, or something worse”.

So when we sit back for a moment and consider that from these two women’s actions, what they set in motion — 7 million children are killed worldwide every year — they both hated the Catholic Church, and one of them was inspired to greater zeal in her evil efforts by a supernatural voice that she says directed her to spread the message that sex is about pleasure and not procreation.

Shortly before she heard the demonic voice, Stopes sent a copy of her book “Married Love” to Queen Mary, with an an accompanying note about the book saying that it was written “in the interest, primarily, of your subjects, the British, but ultimately for the whole of Humanity.”

Very shortly after that, she opened her birth control clinic, kept publishing articles in papers, writing more books, making inroads with political and religious leaders wherever she could. She carried on intensely for the next 10 years — until the next Lambeth gathering of the Church of England leaders in 1930.

This time, however, the Church of England, for the first time in Christian history, approved of birth control — a decision arrived at, in large part, by the zeal of a woman spurred on by the voice of a demon.

I mentioned Ms Stopes in an issue of the Brandsma Review quite  a few years ago. She once took took offence at the cartoons of Giles of the Daily Express, who used to portray himself as a henpecked paterfamilias with numerous offspring, dominated by a grim grandma in black. Marie Stopes wrote a letter to the editor stating : “The Giles cartoons degrade humanity” and announcing that she was cancelling her subscription.

Giles responded with a cartoon of himself with hordes of tough little boys clambering all over him, and declared: “Very well, Marie, if you won’t read the Express any more because of my cartoons, then I won’t read any more of your little books.”

 

April 6th, 2016

Thomas the Transsexual Tank Engine

Why do television, film and theatrical producers so often choose to muck about with  masterpieces?  All too often the answer is: Political Correctness.   They honestly believe they can improve a work  by removing elements they find personally objectionable.

One of the greatest and most poignant television adaptations ever made was of  Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It followed the plot meticulously, with a commentary in Waugh’s own words narrated by Jeremy Irons, who plays the part of Charles Ryder. The whole point of Brideshead is that it is a thoroughly, but subtly, Catholic novel, and this was brought out brilliantly in the television production.

Some years ago there was a crass cinema adaptation by Jeremy Brock, who described his aims  in a  Daily Telegraph article. The villain, according to Brock, was  “man-made theology”; the villainess, “the über-Catholic and family matriarch, Lady Marchmain”, a “privileged peacock”  played by Emma Thompson. The whole point about Lady M. is that she is a control freak, and would be no matter what her religion or social class. The dramatic deathbed scene of Lord Marchmain, who returns to the faith in the last moments of his life, is dismissed with a sneer.

As for Charles Ryder, he was transmogrified into “a young man on a thoroughly modern journey of self-discovery that embraces tolerance of the spiritual with a more contemporary, individualistic search for meaning in this life”. Waugh would go purple with fury at this absurd  distortion of his finest novel. He would certainly dismiss Mr Brock as “a cad”.

To give you a real flavour of Evelyn Waugh’s prose—and his faith—here is the final passage of the book, when Charles visits the chapel of the old house, now taken over as an army headquarters:

Something quite remote from anything the builders intended has come out of their work, and out of the fierce little human tragedy in which I played; something none of us thought about at the time; a small red flame—a beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design relit before the beaten-copper doors of a tabernacle; the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.
I quickened my pace and reached the hut which served us for our ante-room.
‘You’re looking unusually cheerful today,’ said the second-in-command.

Now another wrecking ball is to be taken to Brideshead—this time in a stage adaptation. One of the main characters is Ryder’s friend  Sebastian Flyte, who gradually  and tragically succumbs to alcoholism. In the TV production  Flyte was played with great sensitivity by Anthony Andrews, perfect as a rather inadequate but eminently likeable young English aristocrat. Now director  Damien Cruden has decided to give the part to “an olive-skinned  41-year-old of Irish-Greek-Rwandan descent”. For all I know the guy may be a brilliant actor—but Sebastian Flyte he could never be..

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that a “person of colour” should never, ever, play a Caucasian. In Much Ado About Nothing Denzel Washington made a good fist of playing Don Pedro of Aragon. But it has to be believable. A black Henry V was absurd, as would be a white Cetshwayo in a film about the Zulu War. When a black soprano sang the part of a Wagner heroine in Bayreuth she received a string of standing ovations (although I rather suspect the German audience may have felt obliged to prove their liberal credentials).

The latest piece of nonsense is the politically correct updating of Thomas the Tank Engine.  In the interests of diversity, Thomas is now to have  14 new international locomotive pals. Among them will be Yong Bao, Carlos and Ashima, from China, Mexico and India respectively.  Sodor, where Thomas operates, is in fact the Isle of Man. Maybe the Fat Controller (soon, no doubt, to be the Obese Controller) will gradually become black, as happened to one of the Teletubbies.

I wonder what  the Rev. Wilfred Vere Awdry,  creator of Thomas, makes of it. One on-line comment I came across sums it up: “How long before we get a Thomas character that’s transsexual  and living with HIV?”

April 1st, 2016

Fun with Pope Francis

Our Holy Father Pope Francis, in an address to young  altar servers, reminisced about how things were in the Bad Old Days:

The Mass wasn’t in Italian then. The priest spoke but I didn’t understand anything. and neither did my friends.  So for fun we’d do imitations of the priest, messing up the words a bit to make up weird sayings in Spanish. We had fun, and we really enjoyed serving Mass.

Fr Hunwicke’s comment on this is very much to the point:

Of course, since Bergoglio was young, the Church has moved on from vetus to novus Ordo. But I’m sure the essential principles have not changed; Hermeneutic of Continuity, doncha know.

Gosh! What a splendid reason for having lots of children, so that they can all join serving teams and do comic parodies of what Novus Ordo celebrants get up to! Lots and lots of scope there for imaginative tinies! What ‘fun’, what jolly japes, to ridicule what a priest does and says while offering Mass! Actuosissima Participatio! Ex ore infantium and all that!

How, I wonder, might an imaginative eight-year-old mime the concept of ‘dewfall’?

I’m sure readers will be able to devise funny imitations of the priest and words messed up to make ‘weird sayings’ for the kiddies to deliver in order to liven up banal and dull renditions of the  Novus Ordo. Shops like TOYS R US could market special ‘Sacrilege Kits as approved by Pope Francis’!