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September 30th, 2016

The Decline of the Torygraph

The British Daily Telegraph, which I read nearly every morning as it’s been the only morning paper I can bear,  is becoming progressively  (pun intended) more  and more like  The Guardian (except for its political coverage). Two examples, taken more or less at random.

First, from the obituaries column, which used to be by far the best in any of the British dailies.

Fr Gabriele Amorth, the famous exorcist, is sneered at mercilessly because of his dislike of Harry Potter and his disapproval of yoga and  transcendental meditation, both of which stem from Hinduism and can lead people away from the Church. If that is prejudice, it is one shared by  popes, as well as by virtually all evangelical Protestants.

The Telegraph quotes “the Catholic journalist Cristina Odone” to the effect that  Fr Amorth is  a caricature from the Protestant Truth Society, who should be sent to spend the rest of his life in a Trappist monastery. Ms Odone, though she is regularly consulted by the British media when they want a liberal  slant on a particular religious  story, is hardly a Catholic; she is a French letter liberal who was  appalled by the election of Benedict XVI. On the BBC’s Newsnight  programme she was asked  by  anchorman Jeremy Paxman why she remained in the Church if she couldn’t accept its teachings. A very good question which never receives a satisfactory answer.

My second example is from  the women’s pages. Columnist Allison Pearson tells how she ranted at  her teenage daughter  for having a small tattoo inked on her upper chest, without permission. (No, that’s not the point of the story, as you will see.)

I must have shrieked. ‘Mummy, calm down,’ she said. ‘It’s no big deal, OK?’ She sighed extravagantly in her best ‘How are you supposed to educate these impossible women they give you as a mother?’ manner.  ‘Pretty much everyone gets a tattoo now,’ she said reasonably.

I did not feel reasonable. My reaction to the defacing of my baby’s perfect body was visceral. ‘You are not everyone,’ I said feebly. ‘I told you when you persuaded me to let you get you ears pierced at 11 that I would disinherit you if you ever got a tattoo.’

‘I don’t remember that conversation,’ she said. ‘Anyway, you always say a woman’s body is her own to do with as she pleases, don’t you.’

Oh marvellous. Now the minx is playing the women’s right to choose card against me.

(Stress Ms Pearson’s, not mine.) So the Torygraph’s star women’s writer is a militant pro-abort. Oh marvellous indeed.




September 23rd, 2016

Papal ‘Green Light’ for Adultery?

Your Holiness:
The following narrative, written in our desperation as lowly members of the laity, is what we must call an accusation concerning your pontificate, which has been a calamity for the Church in proportion to which it delights the powers of this world. The culminating event that impelled us to take this step was the revelation of your ‘confidential’ letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires authorizing them, solely on the basis of your own views as expressed in Amoris Laetitia, to admit certain public adulterers in ‘second marriages’ to the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion without any firm purpose of amending their lives by ceasing their adulterous sexual relations.

You have thus defied the very words of Our Lord Himself condemning divorce and ‘remarriage’ as adultery per se without exception, the admonition of Saint Paul on the divine penalty for unworthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, the teaching of your two immediate predecessors in line with the bimillenial moral doctrine and Eucharistic discipline of the Church rooted in divine revelation, the Code of Canon Law and all of Tradition.

You have already provoked a fracturing of the Church’s universal discipline, with some bishops maintaining it despite Amoris Laetitia while others, including those in Buenos Aires, are announcing a change based solely on the authority of your scandalous ‘apostolic exhortation’. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of the Church.

Yet, almost without exception, the conservative members of the hierarchy observe a politic silence while the liberals exult publicly over their triumph thanks to you. Almost no one in the hierarchy stands in opposition to your reckless disregard of sound doctrine and practice, even though many murmur privately against your depredations. Thus, as it was during the Arian crisis, it falls to the laity to defend the Faith in the midst of a near-universal defection from duty on the part of the hierarchs.

Of course we are nothing in the scheme of things, and yet as baptized lay members of the Mystical Body we are endowed with the God-given right and the correlative duty, enshrined in Church law (cf. CIC can. 212), to communicate with you and with our fellow Catholics concerning the acute crisis your governance of the Church has provoked amidst an already chronic state of ecclesial crisis following the Second Vatican Council.

Private entreaties having proven utterly useless, as we note below, we have published this document to discharge our burden of conscience in the face of the grave harm you have inflicted, and threaten to inflict, upon souls and the ecclesial commonwealth, and to exhort our fellow Catholics to stand in principled opposition to your continuing abuse of the papal office, particularly where it concerns the Church’s infallible teaching against adultery and profanation of the Holy Eucharist.

In making the decision to publish this document we were guided by the teaching of the Angelic Doctor on a matter of natural justice in the Church:

‘It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”’ [Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 33, Art 4]

We have been guided as well by the teaching of Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, regarding licit resistance to a wayward Roman Pontiff:

‘Therefore, just as it would be lawful to resist a Pontiff invading a body, so it is lawful to resist him invading souls or disturbing a state, and much more if he should endeavor to destroy the Church. I say, it is lawful to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and by blocking him, lest he should carry out his will…’ [ De Controversiis on the Roman Pontiff, Bk. 2, Ch. 29].

Catholics the world over, and not just ‘traditionalists’, are convinced that the situation Bellarmine envisioned hypothetically is today a reality. That conviction is the motive for this document.

May God be the judge of the rectitude of our intentions.

Christopher A. Ferrara, Lead Columnist, The Remnant

Michael J. Matt, Editor, The Remnant

John Vennari, Editor, Catholic Family News

September 19th, 2016

Justice for Incas and Aztecs!

Until a few years ago BBC television’s Last Night at the Proms  used to feature fat ladies, usually draped in the Union Flag, singing patriotic songs like Jerusalem, Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory and of course  Rule Britannia. Recently, presumably just to prove that all that jingoism is no longer quite the ticket, the Corporation has taken to featuring singers of either sex (no, I refuse to say “gender”), thin, fat and middling, from anywhere in the world.

That inimitable blog “Eccles Is Saved”  commented on  the latest Last Night at the Proms:

The appearance of Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez singing Rule Britannia while dressed as an Inca chief has awakened people to the realization that there are increasing numbers of Incas in the UK—two or three million at the last census—and they do not always assimilate easily with the indigenous population.

Juan Diego Flórez

An increasingly common sight on the streets of Britain.

Some people object to the Inca religion, ‘the religion of peace’, because of its human sacrifices, although the more tolerant of us have learned to respect these cultural differences. It is a different matter with the radicalised Incas, who shout ‘Viracocha’ —often on trains—before dragging away children for slaughter on a high mountain.

Peace-loving Incas such as Juan Diego will have none of this. ‘Of course, the Incan liturgies do require the occasional sacrifice, but for everyday “low” services, we tend to do non-human sacrifices – perhaps a teddy bear.’

Paddington Bear

Some Incan priests slaughter a bear like this in the ‘Paddington’ rite.

Pope Francis, as a fellow South American, is very sympathetic to the Incan religion, and has already had ‘constructive’ meetings with the Incan Archbishop of Cusco, who has promised to slaughter a llama as a form of prayer for him.

Incan temple

Churches like this are starting to appear in our city centres.

So I hope that this little piece has helped to promote Christian/Incan tolerance, dialogue, walking together, and of course mercy.

This may be the first time the Inca community in Britain has been celebrated on the blogosphere, but 20 years or so ago the great Peter Simple of the Daily Telegraph once noted how the Aztecs of Mexico were already enhancing  the rich tapestry of that country’s multicultural society:

‘Give Back Our Aztec Treasures – Now!’ This message, written in sober English and in mysterious Aztec glyphs, appears on a banner displayed outside the public reference library in Carbon Brush Street, Nerdley. This is the building which a group of Aztecs seized in the 1960s, claiming it as one of the sites occupied by their ancestors in the Dark Ages after they crossed the Atlantic in stone boats.

‘The Aztec treasures exhibited in London,’ says Royston Huitzilopochtli (formerly Royston Nobes), South Shields-born leader of the Aztec community, a 43-year sociology student at Nerdley University, ‘must be returned to us for safe-keeping until our capital city of Tenochtitlan is rebuilt and restored to what it was before the fascist, racist Spanish invader brutally destroyed it.

‘It was the greatest and most splendid city on earth. Its gleaming civic centres, towering housing estates, fully equipped sports facilities and municipal swimming pools were a triumph of socialist planning at a time when Europeans were cowering in primitive mud huts in terror of the feudal system.’

The Aztec community, he declares, is ‘fully multicultural and diversified, following its own traditional way of life while gladly co-operating with the system of grants and subsidies provided by a sympathetic Labour council through ethnic minority liaison committees and other agencies.’ A sore point is the ban on human sacrifice which, in spite of a vigorous campaign by white sympathisers, is still illegal in Britain, even on a comparatively small scale.

‘This is racism at its bigoted worst,’ says Labour Councillor Don Binliner, chairman of Aztec Outreach. ‘When shall we learn to welcome the Aztecs for the unique contribution they are making to the rich tapestry of our multicultural society?’

I learned today that there really is such a thing as a stone boat. However, it’s not a boat; it’s a kind of sled attached to a horse and is used for pulling heavy objects (not just stones) across rough ground. I’d show you an illustration, but I think there are already enough pictures in this blog post, so if you want to know more about it I suggest you Google “stone boat” yourself. Oh, and Paddington bear, of course, like Señor Flórez , comes from Peru.

September 13th, 2016

Controlling the Future

As Orwell pointed out in 1984, he who controls the past controls the future.   The Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole is rather good at putting his own spin on past events, confident that his own version will come to be accepted as the unvarnished truth.  At this time, when the anti-life movement are pushing hard for the removal of the Eighth Amendment, they have a valuable advocate in Mr O’Toole.

In a recent article he  outlines the early history of the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign, relying heavily on Tom Hesketh’s , The Second Partitioning of Ireland?  which he quite rightly describes as a “fine history”. He also states that it was “written from a pro-life point of view”, which is quite untrue. The rather  brilliant cover illustration by John R. Greene—of an unborn child at an early stage of gestation, enveloped by a large question mark— might lead one to suppose this is a polemical work, but that is far from the case.    The Second Partitioning in fact stems from Dr Hesketh’s doctoral thesis at Queen’s University, Belfast, and is scrupulously impartial. How anything pro-life could be regarded as “fine” in O’Toole’s worldview is a mystery to me.

The Pro-Life Amendment Campaign were remarkably open and frank. After their Amendment victory, they had no hesitation in handing over the minutes of their meetings to Tom Hesketh—even though the record show them to have been an extremely fractious body. The Anti-Amendment Campaign, by contrast, flatly refused to do the same. One can only speculate that they may have had a great deal to hide, as they always insisted during the campaign that they were not a pro-abortion outfit, but merely opposed to the Amendment wording.

O’Toole makes much of the fact that the 13 founding organisations of  PLAC were all strongly Catholic, branding  the campaign as “sectarian”.  He wrongly states that all the Protestant churches opposed the Amendment. In fact, the Evangelical Presbyterians  were in favour of it; one of their ministers, Rev. Sydney Garland, was chairman of Life in Northern Ireland.  Rev. Garland remarked that the Protestant church leaders were not only unrepresentative of   Protestant opinion, but more influenced by secularism than by Biblical Christianity. Rev. Cecil Kerr of the Christian Renewal Centre in Rostrevor strongly defended the Amendment in the Church of Ireland Gazette. It’s all there in The Second Partitioning.

O’Toole must know perfectly well that some of the most effective pro-lifers worldwide are in fact American Protestants, and that a shamefully large proportion of American Catholics vote for  pro-aborts such as Obama and the Clintons. He must also know that  plenty of Northern Protestants are strongly pro-life. Yet he purports to show—at least to the kind of people who take everything they read in the Irish Times as gospel—that supporters of the Amendment were just a bunch of bigoted sectarian Catholic thickos.  He reserves particular scorn for John O’Reilly, Bernadette Bonar and Loretto Browne, three of the people responsible for rescuing PLAC from the strong possibility of defeat, by getting Senator Des Hanafin to take the helm of the campaign.

O’Toole uses language as an octopus uses ink—to confuse and conceal. He savages Mrs Bonar for pointing out that pro-abort propagandists  were turning up at TDs’ clinics with sob stories about 12-year-olds being raped. She wasn’t making that up: she got that information from her brother Tom O’Donnell, who happened to be a Fine Gael TD.

O’Toole gets some of what he no doubt regards as his most damning quotes from a meeting in 1982 he attended as a young reporter  (I think in Clane, Co. Kildare) on behalf of the magazine In Dublin.  I happened to be there as well. It was addressed by both Loretto Browne and Bernadette Bonar. My chief memory of it is O’Toole’s halibut-like expression when Loretto handed him a snack called an Easy Single, remarking “There you are, Fintan; just right for In Dublin.” In his report of the meeting he referred disapprovingly to the gory pictures on display—a disapproval directed not at those  responsible for dismembering the infants, but at SPUC for showing what actually happens in an abortion.

These pro-aborts fear the truth like bats fear the light.


September 6th, 2016

The Spirit of Amoris Laetitia

One of the few consolations of this appalling pontificate is the number of  bloggers who cheer up the hard-pressed faithful by poking innocent fun at some of our Holy Father’s counsels. Take this, for instance, which recently appeared in “Eccles Is Saved”:

Dear Holy Father,

I have been reading your guide Amoris Laetitia a little at a time, and eventually got to Paragraph 226, where it advises married couples to try a morning kiss, an evening blessing, waiting at the door to welcome each other home, taking trips together, and sharing household chores. So this morning I gave my wife Doris a morning kiss, and this evening I gave her an evening blessing. She asked me why I was suddenly behaving so strangely and accused me of having an affair.

I stormed out and went to the Jesuit’s Arms pub for a refreshing pint of Reese and Martin’s Old Peculier. However, Doris did welcome me home with a traditional blow from her rolling-pin when I came back later, so I feel that the Spirit of Amoris Laetitia has entered our home.

I have decided to surprise her tomorrow by sharing the household chores.

Ricky Fathead.

pope reading a letter

“Another satisfied customer!”


Dear Sir or Madam,

My husband Ricky Fathead has broken our washing-machine by attempting to wash the cats in it. His excuse was that Amoris Laetitia told him to do it. I am holding you personally responsible.

Doris Fathead (Mrs)

P.S. The cats are fine.

cat in washing-machine

A victim of Amoris Laetitia.


Dear Mr Bergoglio,

My wife has now left me, taking the cats with her. I blame Amoris Laetitia. So I have decided to leave the Catholic Church and become a Tablet-reader instead. Ha!

Ricky Fathead.

September 3rd, 2016

What’s Behind the Wannabe Priestesses?

The priestess campaign rumbles on: as you would expect during this confusing and ambivalent pontificate. The present Holy Father gave it aid and comfort by promising some progressive American nuns he’d look into the possibility of appointing women deacons. But then he annoyed them considerably by denying that  establishing a Commission on Women in the Diaconate meant that he was in favour of actual change.

It must be nearly 20 years since Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) and Soline Vatinel’s group  Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) held a well-publicised gathering in Dublin. An article I wrote at the time for the Brandsma Review is still quite relevant, I think.

If you want to understand what motivates any pressure group, don’t just look at its propaganda material, concocted to impress the general public: read what its leaders write for the edification of their insiders. Now, when the international priestess movement has left town after predictable media acclaim, is a very good time to assess just what Women’s Ordination Worldwide and Brothers and Sisters in Christ really want to achieve.

I should explain at the outset that I am not here concerned to rebut the arguments for priestesses: that has already been done very effectively in this Review by Dr Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College (February-March and April May, 1995), and I’m not going over the same ground again.

Having read their “liturgies”, both rubrics and words I really don’t know how they manage to keep straight faces when doing their Witchipoo stuff.. For instance: one of their “mantras”, which they sang as they all danced into the hall, went: “EARTH my BODY / WATER my BLOOD / AIR my BREATH / FIRE my SPIRIT.” Then at one stage they all bound purple stoles across their mouths, identifying the distress of being bound and gagged and silenced. Elsewhere the following doggerel was sung by the Water Element singers: “I am the God of snow and rain, I have heard my people’s pain…”

Until fairly recently I used to think that the main problem with “Catholic feminists” was their refusal to accept the infallible teaching of the Church’s magisterium that the priesthood is open only to males. But after reading some of the things these ladies have been writing, I have realised that this explanation is inadequate. These self-enlightened Gnostics reject not only the teaching authority of Pope John Paul, but much, much more.

The makers and shakers of WOW and BASIC would like us pewsitters to think they are just ordinary women who feel called by God to be ordained as priests. They are not. They are ideologues, working to replace what the Church has always understood the priesthood to be, by something radically different.

One has to bear in mind that the essence of priesthood—whether pagan, Jewish or Catholic—involves the offering of sacrifice. (The Protestant tradition does not have a sacrificing priesthood, so it does not much matter whom they choose to ordain.

Particularly instructive is an article by Gail Freyne from the magazine Womanspirit (Autumn 1993). It seems fairly typical of the ideas behind what the Sunday Business Post once called “The Fight for Female Fathers”. Ms Freyne is a family therapist and counsellor, whose husband Seán Freyne is on the editorial board of Concilium. Her densely-packed piece argues that the Eucharist was originally just a meal which anyone, including women, could celebrate, and that the idea of sacrifice only began to come in after about 200 years. By the early Middle Ages, she says, “magic and power had replaced sharing and communion”—a thesis that any good Paisleyite would accept, but not compatible with membership of the Catholic Church. (I am not here concerned with the theory’s plausibility.)

So where now? is the question she asks the readers of Womanspirit. Her answer is fascinating: she actually argues that in order to make way for priestesses we will first have to abolish the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Her key passage reads:

“So long as the primary function of the priest is to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass there is no place for women in the priestly ministry of the Catholic Church. Put another way, so long as the Mass is equated primarily with sacrifice and sacrifice is a male domain, as argued herein, then there is an explicit reason for excluding women. Put a third way, the corollary would be that only if the Mass ceases to be a sacrifice , reverting to what is arguably its original form of eucharistic meal of remembrance, could women find their place in the priestly ministry.”

To back her thesis Ms Freyne then calls in two diametrically-opposed witnesses: On her right, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; on her left, the post-Christian “thealogian” and New Age guru Rosemary Radford Ruether. Archbishop Lefebvre, she recalls, argued that in the new rite of Mass it is no longer the priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice, it is the assembly. “This Mass is no longer an hierarchical Mass; it is a democratic Mass,” he said. “…And this is what at present corrupts the entire Church.” (Whether one agrees with the Archbishop or not, there is no doubt that the ancient rite of Mass provided an impermeable bulwark against the kind of thinking exemplified by Ms Freyne.)

Rosemary Ruether is quoted to the effect that if women were to be ordained they could not be contented to assimilate themselves into a clericalist mentality. “Ministry must be seen as primarily, not for the exclusive male-controlled act of sacrifice, but the skill to evoke the gifts and creative initiatives of the whole community.”

Ms Freyne says—apparently without irony—that in Ms Ruether and Archbishop Lefebvre we see an “unholy alliance” of the “new” and the “old”, both recognising that without sacrifice there can be neither hierarchical priesthood “nor its institutionalised genealogy linking males in unilineal descent”. (Presumably this is Freyne-speak for the Apostolic Succession.) She concludes that the praxis required to dismantle the hierarchical structure must start at the roots, with small groups willing to challenge the status quo. They could be described as “sacrifice-free zones”, she says.

What can we conclude from all the above? Surely, that as in the days of the Reformation, it is still the Mass that matters. One main difference is that unlike the 16th-century reformers these strident ladies, who so hate the very idea of the Holy Sacrifice, still feel entitled to remain within an institution whose doctrines they abhor. The reason why they stay, of course, is their belief that from the inside, they can continue pressing to implement their agenda. It’s not what you’d expect people with integrity to do: but then “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light” (Luke 16: 8). And there are quite a few priests covertly backing them.

It is difficult to be sure to what extent Soline Vatinel, leader of BASIC, shares the views outlined above. She is still claiming St Thérèse as a would-be priestess, even though she must know the Little Flower would be horrified by Ms Vatinel’s defiance of papal authority. And recently she press-ganged St Paul, of all people, to her cause, citing the occasion when Paul “withstood Peter to his face” over the question of mixing with Gentile converts. The comparison is thoroughly inept: St Peter was in the wrong because he was acting in breach of what had been revealed to him. He ostracised the Gentiles from motives of human respect, because he didn’t want to lose face with Jewish believers. And since when has Ms Vatinel bothered about St Paul’s teaching—particularly on the place of women in the Church? A few years ago she was claiming to have a more authentic idea of Christianity than the Apostle to the Gentiles.

There’s quite a lot more in the magisterium she rejects: as you might expect. Humanae Vitae is jettisoned. Married people should be free to use whatever method of contraception they wish, she once told the Sunday Business Post. And while she would grieve for any woman who “has to” have an abortion, she would not “force a woman not to have an abortion”. From whatever angle you examine that piece of wiggling, it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that she believes in the “Right to Choose”.

Probably the most inane contribution to the Dublin conference came from the opening speaker, Nobel prizewinner Mairéad Corrigan Maguire, who described the Church’s insistence on an all-male priesthood as “a form of spiritual abuse”. The only spiritual abuse I have ever witnessed is the disrespect to the Blessed Sacrament shown by some (not all) Extraordinary Eucharistic Monsters, female and male.

If you want to hear the tapes of the conference speakers, notably the egregious Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister and the wannabe priestesses’ heaviest artillery piece Fr John Wijngaards, you may order them from—of all places—Charismatic Renewal Services. Now there’s an unholy alliance, if you like—and something of a mystery. All the genuine Catholic charismatics I know rightly pride themselves on their orthodoxy and loyalty to papal teaching, and would never give aid and comfort to the likes of WOW and BASIC. However, this connection has been around for some years: CRS taped the proceedings of a BASIC conference in 1995.

I can’t give you a satisfactory explanation for the mystery, but here are a couple of pointers. In the first place, I understand that Mairéad Corrigan Maguire once had links with a charismatic group in Belfast. Maybe she still does. There is no doubt that unless they belong to a group where they get sound teaching based on Scripture and Tradition (such as the Nazareth Community in South Co. Dublin ) charismatics can by led by what they think is the Holy Spirit into strange by-ways. I once met a young ex-nun who told me God had called her to leave the Catholic Church.

Secondly, nearly 20 years ago I recall meeting a high-profile charismatic priest at a dinner party, who confided to me after the second glass of wine that he could see no reason why women should not be ordained.