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July 21st , 2017

When a Pope Taught Heresy

It becomes daily more pertinent to ask whether  a reigning Pope can teach heresy. I understand that the consensus among theologians of repute is that it is indeed possible, and has in fact happened. The names of Popes Honorius and Liberius come to mind, and then there is  the case of Pope John XXII in the 14th century.

Pope John had some very dodgy ideas about the Beatific Vision, and insisted on airing them repeatedly. He argued that only Our Lord and Our Lady, whose souls are already united with their bodies, can truly see God, and that everyone else has to await the general resurrection.

This novel idea caused quite a furore. An English (or possibly Welsh) Dominican from Oxford University,  Thomas Waleys, denounced the Pope’s teaching from the pulpit of the Dominican church in Avignon, where the Popes were residing at that time.  He was imprisoned by the Inquisition at Pope John’s request.

While the Franciscans gave qualified support to Pope John’s proposition, the Dominican theologians of the university of  Paris, heirs of St Thomas Aquinas, strongly protested against it, and before his death a year later John XXII retracted his error and stated the following:

We confess and believe that souls separated from their bodies and fully purged from guilt are above, in the kingdom of heaven, in paradise and with Jesus Christ, in the company of the angels, and that according to the universal law, they see God and the divine essence face to face and clearly, so far as the state and condition of a separated soul permits.

His successor Pope Benedict XII, in the doctrinal constitution Benedictus Deus settled the matter for good: the souls of the blessed dead do indeed “see the divine essence by intuitive vision and even face to face”.

Most of the above I gleaned from Warren Carroll’s The Glory of Christendom, the third volume of his history of Christendom. But Dr Carroll doesn’t say what happened to Fr Waleys, so I had to do some digging to find out.

It’s not an edifying tale. Even though Pope John XXII had withdrawn his own thesis,  Fr Thomas was held prisoner for over a year without trial, and was then under a sort of house arrest for 10 more years. On his release, he returned to England where in 1349 he described himself as “broken down by old age”.  I hope this brave and unfairly-treated Dominican is now enjoying the divine essence “face to face and clearly”.






July 20th, 2017

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This is the view from just outside our room at the Locanda agli Angeli

in Gardone Sopra, Lake Garda ,where we attended the  25th summer

symposium of the Roman Forum.  More about that symposium in

future blogposts.


July 1st , 2017

Setting the World to Rights

This is written in haste. It will be my last blogpost for the next couple of weeks, as we are off to Lake Garda for the annual summer symposium of the Roman Forum—the organisation set up by the late Dietrich von Hildebrand. This year’s theme will be “Setting Right a World Turned Upside Down: Transformation in Christ Versus a Sickness Unto Death”.

A tall order, you might think, and you would probably be right. But let Professor von Hildeband’s successor as director of the forum, American historian John Rao, explain further what it’s all about…

Two commemorations will provide an extremely joyful framework for the Roman Forum’s next Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera. 2017 will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of this annual spiritual, academic, fraternal, and strategy-planning program of indispensable importance to the traditionalist world internationally. It will also be the tenth anniversary of Summorum pontificum, with all that that motu proprio has contributed to the advance of the cause of the “Mass of the Ages”.

But these joyful commemorations are also calls to a two-fold meditation. One of these involves an honest assessment of present realities in comparison with the hopes placed in the project and document in question. The second concerns a serious appraisal of what we have done and have yet to do in order to fulfill the goals specified by them.

Unfortunately and in all too many respects, 2017 threatens to be a much more troubled moment in Catholic time than twenty-five or ten years ago. The erratic character of the current pontificate—and fears for what may follow it—are proving to be extraordinarily disturbing not just to the cause of the Faith but to that of human Reason as well. One has the sense of a “free fall”, with the “salt” having lost its savor and churchmen happily encouraging an international political and social world suffering from a “sickness unto death” to continue smiling as it dies. Gardone, 2017 will address this problem thoroughly.

It would be foolhardy for the Roman Forum to insist that it has done everything that it possibly could have done on behalf of the truth. Nevertheless, it is absolutely convinced that the path that it has taken since its foundation in 1968 and that of the Symposium twenty-five years ago provides the best means for serving both Faith and Reason.

That path was laid out for us by Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand through his concern for rooting all of our work in an ever-deeper study of the theology of the Mystical Body and the exalted understanding of “transformation in Christ” that this probing of the full significance of the Incarnation yields. It is that Christological approach, closely connected with devotion to the Sacred Heart, that has made the Roman Forum so eager to work to cure our world’s “sickness unto death” by insisting upon the need to infuse all aspects of natural life—philosophical, political, economic, familial, fraternal, artistic, sportive, culinary; the serious and the festive together—with that Catholic teaching and grace that correct their flaws and raise them up in a hymn of praise to God. It is this approach that caused von Hildebrand already in 1970 to insist that the Roman Forum fight for the restoration of a liturgy that does not turn its back against the God who alone can save us all. And Gardone, 2017 will insist upon the validity of this Christological path, in all realms of human activity, as the sole, infallible guide to choosing the fullness of life instead of naturalist, secularist death.

There will be sung Mass every day in the Vetus Ordo. The food is wonderful, and the company stimulating. I hope to come back mightily refreshed.


June 24th, 2017

Allenby—Angel of the Lord?

I’m reading through Warren Carroll’s six-volume history of Christendom, and I’ve just got to where the Moslems captured Jerusalem  in 1187 after defeating the crusaders at the battle of Hattin. Carroll notes that the Holy City was not  recovered for 730 years, until 1917, in a world in which few Western Christians attached that much significance to its fate.

But General Edmund Allenby, the British commander who captured Jerusalem from the Turks did realise the importance of his victory. In recognition of the fact that Our Lord had entered Jerusalem on a donkey, Allenby dismounted from his horse and walked into the city. Allenby was one of the very few really successful British commanders during World War I.

My late cousin Edward, usually well-informed on rather abstruse topics, once assured me that the Turks, who up till then had resisted the invasion of Palestine quite vigorously, made no serious attempt to defend Jerusalem because Allenby’s name—which they pronounced Allah En Bia, or something similar—means “the Angel of God” in Arabic, and there is a biblical prophecy, I think in Revelation or possibly Daniel, that “the angel of the Lord shall enter the Holy City”.

It must be more than half a century since Edward told me about this, and I’ve always meant to do some research with a view to confirming the truth or otherwise of this story. I’m now getting around to it.

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                                                                            General Allenby

From an evangelical Protestant site called Sunset Jerusalem I gather that  Allenby, whom it descrlbes as a devoted Christian, was concerned about the damage he might cause to the holy places in the process of capturing Jerusalem.  While reading his Bible he was struck by Isaiah 31:5: “As birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.”   It struck Allenby that the Turks had very few planes, and many of them had never even seen one. He therefore got together as many aircraft as he could, and ordered the pilots to fly over the city, dropping leaflets which read, in Arabic:“Surrender the city today, Allenby.”  Now, according to this website, Allenby’s Arab interpreter wrote the name Allenby as “Alla Bay”, meaning Son of God. So it would seem that Edward may have been on to something.

There is a slightly different account on a similar site, from which  I also gather that the name Allenby had a mystical significance in Arabic. This says that when read from left to right in Western style, the name is “Allah Nabi” which means “prophet of God”. When read from right to left in Arabic style it means, “Son of God.” In Turkish the name means, “Scourge of God”.

Well, make of all that what you will.  It’s not entirely consistent, but at the very least it seems to me to confirm a supernatural element in the capture of Jerusalem just a century ago. If any readers of this blog can add  further information, I’d be really grateful if they would get in touch. Maybe some evangelical Protestants are inclined to read a bit  too much into biblical prophecy, but my cousin Edward was a good Catholic.






On December 10, 1917 Allenby asked God how can we take this city and not destroy it. The Lord spoke to him out of Isaiah 31:5 As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. This was the battle strategy that was given to him by God. The British general began to ask God, “What does this mean?” God gave him inspiration. In 1917 there were not very many airplanes in the world. Allenby got and idea and said I know how to fulfill the proprhecy of Isaiah 31:5. I’ll get every airplane I can get my hands on in all of the middle-east. I’ll bring them in and fly them in close formation over Jerusalem. At that time the Turks and the Arabs had not seen many airplanes, many had never seen an airplane at all. Allenby had them fill up the planes with leaflets. He wrote on the leaflets in Arabic “Surrender the city today, Allenby.” The Arab interpreter did not write the name right on the leaflet and wrote Alla Bay, which means Son of God to Moslems.

On December 10, 1917 Allenby asked God how can we take this city and not destroy it. The Lord spoke to him out of Isaiah 31:5 As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. This was the battle strategy that was given to him by God. The British general began to ask God, “What does this mean?” God gave him inspiration. In 1917 there were not very many airplanes in the world. Allenby got and idea and said I know how to fulfill the proprhecy of Isaiah 31:5. I’ll get every airplane I can get my hands on in all of the middle-east. I’ll bring them in and fly them in close formation over Jerusalem. At that time the Turks and the Arabs had not seen many airplanes, many had never seen an airplane at all. Allenby had them fill up the planes with leaflets. He wrote on the leaflets in Arabic “Surrender the city today, Allenby.” The Arab interpreter did not write the name right on the leaflet and wrote Alla Bay, which means Son of God to Moslems.

June 20th, 2017

Courage, Clarity and Collegiality

I see that the Four Cardinals, having had no reply to their dubia about Amoris Laetitia have asked for an audience with Pope Francis. I hope he agrees, but I’m not holding my breath.

Fr Hunwicke has a very helpful blogpost, in which he points out that “collegiality” did not wait to be invented by Vatican II.  In the 1950s Pope Pius XII wrote to every Catholic bishop to ask whether he believed in the Assumption of Our Lady, and whether he considered it opportune for the dogma to be defined. The positive response to both questions was overwhelming.

More than a year has passed since the emergence of the divisive and poorly drafted document called Amoris laetitia. In this time, many Bishops and  episcopal conferences have issued guidelines making clear that nothing has changed since S John Paul II in Familiaris consortio, and Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, reemphasised the Church’s immemorial discipline: ‘remarried’ divorcees who will not repent of their adultery and undertake either to separate or at least to try, with the help of God’s grace, to cohabit chastely, exclude themselves from the Sacraments during the time of their impenitence.

A few conferences and Bishops have issued statements understood as meaning that the thusly impenitent may, by virtue of Amoris laetitia, receive the Sacraments. Yet other conferences, such as that in England and Wales, have been manifestly unable to agree among themselves. It is clear that the Universal Episcopate is not united behind a ‘German’ interpretation of Amoris laetitia. Very far from it.

In the context of the Unity of the Una Catholica and of the collegial nature of the Universal Episcopate, cum et sub Petro, the time has surely come for this ‘dialogue’ to be moved to a new stage. Manifestly, if we are to persist with the embarrassing notion that we belong to one Church with one Teaching about the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, steps must be taken to move in the direction of coherence, harmony, and united witness. The idea that someone who is excluded from the Sacraments by his own impenitent rejection of the Gospel needs only to walk across the border between Poland and Germany, or from one American diocese to another, to be welcomed enthusiastically as a communicant in good standing, is obviously a profoundly unCatholic absurdity which needs speedily to be resolved.

The time has surely come for the Four Cardinals who intervened last year with their Dubia to revisit the question. And the time for Bishops, Successors of the Apostles according to the teaching of Leo XIII and of Vatican II and not mere vicars of the Roman Pontiff, to speak with courage, clarity and unanimity. And for clergy, laity, and academics to do the same. Remember that, at the height of the Arian Crisis, it was not among the Bishops or even in Rome that the Faith was most conspicuously preserved and defended.

Fr H. adds that parrhesia, boldness in witnessing to the Truth—a virtue which was once  incessantly on the lips of the current occupant of the Roman See—is still an obligation for all faithful Catholics. And as he says,  the more people speak boldly, the more difficult it will be for individuals to be put under unsympathetic pressure.

June 17th, 2017

Papal Purge of Pro-Lifers

In a week when Italian history professor Roberto de Mattei has predicted that  Pope Francis is to “revisit” Pope Paul’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Holy Father  has purged the  Pontifical Academy of Life of dozens of  members renowned for their fidelity to Catholic teaching. These include Australian professor John Finnis who had criticised the Pope’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia,  German philosopher Robert Spaemann—a longtime friend of Pope Benedict XVI—Englishman Dr Luke Gormally  who had asked the Pope to remove a problematical section on contraception from the preparatory document for the Synod on the Family,  and three eastern Europeans who were influenced greatly by John Paul II.

[Back in the 1990s Drs Finnis and Gormally spoke at a meeting in Maynooth and criticised in vitro fertilisation. My wife  Stramentaria covered this rather dodgy conference for the old Ballintrillick Review, and editor Doris Manly headlined her article  “Take-Away Babies with Maynooth Sauce”.]

The Pope’s 17 new appointments to the Academy include Nigel Biggar, an Anglican professor of moral and pastoral theology who has expressed support for legalised abortion up to 18 weeks, and qualified support for euthanasia; and  Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, an Italian moral theologian and professor who has openly criticized Catholic teaching on life issues, including Humanae Vitae

Last November the Holy Father  released new statutes for the Pontifical Academy for Life, in which members are no longer required to sign a declaration that they uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. He also expanded the Academy’s mandate to include a focus on the environment.

According to Professor de Mattei a commission has been nominated by Pope Francis to “reinterpret” Humanae Vitae in the light of his own encyclical Amoris Laetitia . Next year will see the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s condemnation of artificial contraception. The Commission has been ordered to procure from the Vatican archives the documentation on the preparatory work on the encyclical, lasting  three years.  In 1966 the “experts” delivered their conclusions to Pope Paul VI, and suggested  opening the doors to birth control. After two years of wavering, the Pope followed the perennial teaching of the Church and rejected the idea in Humanae Vitae. As the philosopher Romano Amerio said, it was the most important act of his pontificate.

The Commission is to be co-ordinated by Mgr Gilfredo Marengo, who has made it clear in his writings that he supports the view of Pope Francis that  one should “abandon models of of life derived from too abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals”.  Professor de Mattei believes this indicates that praxis rather than doctrine will be followed in this “reinterpretation” of Humanae Vitae. And he wonders whether any Catholic theologian will have the courage to declare “heresy” when faced with this reinterpretation.




November 1st, 2016

The Queer Face of Nazism

At the end of my last post, I noted that some militant sodomites are  now actually  beginning to admit that a large percentage of  Nazi activists liked their vice versa.  “Gay”  propagandists have tended to portray  homosexuals living in the Third Reich as martyrs, despite the fact that one of Hitler’s leading henchmen, Ernst Roehm, was known to be actively, unashamedly queer. In the end Hitler had Roehm  murdered— not for sodomy  but because the Führer believed Roehm was plotting to take over the party. In fact, it seems,  many other Nazi officials were involved in homosexual activity.

Writing in the Huffington Post blog, Johann Hari who describes himself as “a gay left-wing man” admits that although this has been a taboo topic for people like him to touch, there has always been “a weird, disproportionate overlap” between homosexuality and fascism.  Indeed, he goes further:  “With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe in the past 30 years have been gay.” (Leaving aside the fact that Le Pen is not a fascist, much less a Nazi, this is quite an admission.)

Hari has an interesting take on Roehm’s involvement with Nazism:

Along with Adolf Hitler, Roehm was the founding father of Nazism. Born to conservative Bavarian civil servants in 1887, Ernst Roehm’s life began – in his view – in the ‘heroic’ trenches of the First World War. Like so many of the generation who formed the Nazi Party, he was nurtured by and obsessed with the homoerotic myth of the trenches – heroic, beautiful boys prepared to die for their brothers and their country.

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                                                                        Ernst Roehm   

 He emerged from the war with a bullet-scarred face and a reverence for war. As he put it in his autobiography, ‘Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than the good bourgeois order.’ After being disbanded, he tried half-heartedly to get a foothold in civilian life, but he saw it as alien, bourgeois, boring…

It was Roehm who first spotted the potential of a soap-box ranter called Adolf Hitler. He saw him as the demagogue he needed to mobilize support for his plan to overthrow democracy and establish a ‘soldier’s state’ where the army ruled untrammelled. He introduced the young fascist to local politicians and military leaders; they knew him for many years as ‘Roehm’s boy’. Gay historian Frank Rector notes, ‘Hitler was, to a substantial extent, Roehm’s protégé. Roehm integrated Hitler into his underground movement to overthrow the Weimar Republic…

He talked openly about his fondness for gay bars and Turkish baths, and was known for his virility. He believed that gay people were superior to straights, and saw homosexuality as a key principle of his proposed Brave New Fascist Order. As historian Louis Snyder explains, Rohm ‘projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behaviour pattern of high repute… He flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted his cronies do the same. He believed straight people weren’t as adept at bullying and aggression as homosexuals, so homosexuality was given a high premium in the SA.’ They promoted an aggressive, hypermasculine form of homosexuality, condemning ‘hysterical women of both sexes’, in reference to feminine gay men.

Most of these facts are confirmed in an anti-homo book called The Pink Swastika, now in its fifth edition. Yet Hari is severely critical of The Pink Swastika, clearly because the authors refuse to buy into the idea that thousands of homosexuals who were sent to concentration camps deserve martyr status like the Jews, the gipsies and other groups.  The Pink Swastika effectively demolishes the idea that despite the proven homosexuality of many of its leading figures Nazism was essentially prejudiced against sodomy. It is true that thousands of homosexuals were sent to the concentration camps, but that was not because of their sexual proclivities but because they were believed – like Roehm – to be plotting to overthrow Hitler.

October 24th, 2016

Iced Cakes and Cacothanasia

If you’ve been watching the news today, you’ll know that the brave Protestant couple in Belfast who defied the bullying  sodomite lobby have lost their appeal and are now likely to be subjected to further persecution.  I haven’t quoted Fr Hunwicke for some time, but his comments on this grotesque business are, once again, spot on. I don’t imagine they will shame our Most Reverend Fathers in God into speaking out in solidarity, but I suppose the attempt is worth while:

News has come through that the Ulster Appeal Court has published its judgment on the case of the Protestant Bakery fined for refusing to ice homosexualist propaganda onto a cake. The conviction stands. So does this mean that the homosexualists will be able to queue up outside the bakery daily to make the same requests until the fines and damages bankrupt the business? The ‘Gay Marriage’ which the cake was intended to demand is in fact not legal in Northern Ireland; so will followers of other non-legal causes such as paederasts or murderers be able to employ the same logic and order cakes with the message ‘Free Inter-generation Love’ or ‘Cacothanasia Now’, and profitably take their cases through the courts?

Incidentally, has the Catholic hierarchy been speaking in sympathy for these Protestants who, at personal risk, espouse the teaching of the Church on some sexual matters? Is it not part of the Church’s ecumenical policy, since Vatican II, to affirm with joy those ‘elements of the Church’ which may be found among Separated Brethren?

At the same time, we have another trendy policy: the suppression of the convictions of subjects of the Crown who were convicted of homosexual acts back in the days when such acts were illegal. I rather wonder how far back these historical amnesties will go. Will they merely encompass those still alive? I could see a certain human kindliness in that. OK. But if the game goes back to embrace the now dead (as it did in the case of the pardon granted to Alan Turing), the additional question, surely, arises of How Far Back Do We Go? What logic could there be in having any particular cut-off point anywhere? Similar questions arise with regard to the granting of Free Pardons to those shot for cowardice during the First War.

And what about the women burned as witches? The Protestants burned under Henry VIII and his off-spring and the Catholics HDQed under Bloody Bess? Titus Oates’ victims? Those executed after the ’45? Casement and Lord Haw Haw?

But, of course, under our Constitution, Parliament can do anything. What a lot of problems this can solve. Changing the Past is a prime example of what the ancients called an adunaton, an impossible thing. If all the adunata are now potentially dunata, why stop at any fashionable or convenient fantasy? Why only reconstruct the Past by decree? Why this prejudice against also reconstructing by administrative fiat the Present and the Future? Why doesn’t Parliament just enact that Global Warming has never happened and is not happening? Instead of erecting expensive flood defences, why don’t we just have an Order in Council enacting that the Somerset Levels will not be flooded? We could all live happily for ever after, in Fairyland, especially the people of Somerset, who would be comforted by the sure and certain reassurance that the water swirling round their necks could not possibly be a flood.

Winston in 1984 spent his entire working life rewriting the past. I wonder if Orwell ever suspected how soon his sick prophecy would be made into a gruesome reality.

I don’t for one moment think there is any real desire for ‘justice’ involved in daft attempts to rewrite the past.

It is simply a matter of the homosexualist ideologues making clear ‘We are the Masters now, and we want to watch you bastards squirm’. In the idiolect of the Zeitgeist, this is called ‘Diversity’.

What a very unpleasant spectacle it all is.

In case your Greek is a little rusty, cacothanasia is  bad death—the opposite of euthanasia. HDQ is Hanging, Drawing and Quartering. Alan Turing was a computer genius whose work contributed greatly to the Allied victory in the battle of the Atlantic. He was convicted of gross indecency with another man.

Coincidentally, I see the militant sodomites  are now actually  beginning to admit that a large percentage of  Nazi thugs preferred their vice versa. One of them (a militant sodomite, not a Nazi)  has written an interesting article about this in the Huffington Post.  I’ll tell you about that in my next post.

Of course, under the Constitution of the Republic, despite the reference in the prologue to the Holy and Undivided Trinity, it is now quite OK for  a man to “marry” another man. Or for a woman to “ marry” another woman, although quite what Lesbians do I don’t know. I suppose I could find out on  Google, but I don’t think I really want to.


October 19th, 2016

Joanna and the King of Siam

It’s a year ago today since the funeral in Dalkey of our beloved daughter Joanna, who died of liver cancer at the age of 48 and is buried in Shanganagh within sight of  the Dublin/Wicklow mountains.

      Joanna Lowry McCann

And with the morn those angel faces smile,

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile

—Blessed John Henry Newman

In paradisum deducant te angeli

Everyone thinks their own children are unique, but I honestly believe that all who met her thought she was too. Her great friend Alexia Kelly brought this out so well in her eulogy, published in this blog about this time last year. Joanna was the only one of our four whom I was quite unable to discipline.  Much to my own mother’s annoyance, whenever I tried to call Joanna to order she would always fix me with a particular look, and no matter how ferociously I frowned she would say “Daddy’s laughing”. I would struggle to conceal my amusement by emulating the expression adopted by the Roman soldiers in the infamous Monty Python film. (You may recall how they twisted their upper and lower lips together  but ended up yelping with laughter despite threats of being sent to the gladiatorial arena.)

My elder son Joe was unable to be with us at this time, but we were very glad to get this message from his Facebook page, in Thailand:

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for all your good wishes to our family yesterday, the first anniversary of my little sister’s passing. Mass this morning at Assumption Cathedral here in Bangkok was offered by Fr John Murray for “Our brother King Bumibohl and our sister, Joanna”

An honour, any way you look at it.

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Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok

I didn’t ask for any special music, but the choir opened with a spirited version of “Amazing Grace”, and at Communion, “Eagle’s Wings”. This is a pretty crazy coincidence – when we were kids on holidays in Donegal we found a monument to a downed WW2 pilot on a lonely strand. The inscription read “I raised you on eagle’s wings and bore you to Myself”. Joanna loved it and copied it into a notebook. It was one of the possible verses that her husband and I spoke about for her own headstone.

It was played at the same point during her funeral Mass.

Then ­“How great thou art”… Another of her favourites and one Lena and I had at our wedding. Then nine minutes silence for the King, and a beautiful, tender “Pie Jesu”.

“For our brother King Bumibohl, and our sister Joanna.”  That’s one last crazy coincidence only me, Mary Lowry, Nicholas Lowry and Paula Lowry Hand will get, and laugh at loudly.

I may have been so far from them, but Joanna Lowry McCann made sure there were enough surprises to keep us smiling as one through all our tears.

Long-standing readers of this blog will know that I don’t share my children’s tastes in liturgy, but I have to agree that these coincidences are truly remarkable and extraordinarily apt.

Here’s a message and some pictures from Joanna’s elder sister Paula Hand:

Joanna’s 1st Anniversary today. Dad did her proud as he served at the traditional Latin Mass in her memory, at  Newtownmountkennedy this morning. And in true Lowry fashion we had a Nice Lunch afterwards. We have kept each other going through a tough year. We miss her dreadfully.                                         
                                               Stramentaria with Joanna’s younger brother Luke
       Luke takes his first selfie—with 
               big sister Paula Hand
     A greedy old devil  stealing  chocolate brownie from  grandson Francis 
These pictures of Paula’s reveal quite a mystery: how the Lord can give a family a  kind of joy even in the midst of a profound sorrow.


October 14th, 2016

Vanishing Young Irish Catholics

If I were to say the future of the Irish Church looks dark, you might well retort: “So what else is new?” But I don’t mean anything so simplistic as to say the outlook is depressing, although indeed it is.

When I was in Knock last weekend for a Mass organised by the Latin Mass Society of Ireland (yes, it went very well, with a congregation of well over 120 on a Saturday afternoon) the first thing I noticed was the great contrast in the age and racial composition of  pilgrims, compared with 20 years ago.  Now, as then, a majority of those circumnavigating the old parish church were fairly elderly, but last weekend there were hardly any white young adults at all.

A very large proportion of pilgrims were Indian. Some, judging from the Portuguese inscriptions on their  tee-shirts, must have been from Goa. There were also plenty of Africans, some groups consisting of three generations. It was most edifying to see one old African, sitting on a bench, leading the rosary while his children and grandchildren  made the responses most reverently.

By contrast, outside the Apparition Chapel we noticed two bored and extremely reluctant Irish teenagers, both smoking, who just couldn’t wait to get away.  Their parents had clearly pressurised them into coming. As we moved on, one of the youngsters surreptitiously spat on the ground. This was just a few yards from where the handful of villagers saw  the Paschal Lamb, Our Lady, St Joseph, St John and the angels appear on the gable wall on that rainy night back in the 1870s. The evidence for the truth of that apparition is, to my mind at least, overwhelming.