Home > Straws For The Camel's Back > Issue 2: June 10, 2014

Issue 2: June 10, 2014

Unspeakable Galantino

The most unshepherd-like bishop of the early 21st century must surely be Most  Rev. Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. I can hardly believe it, but here’s what he actually said:

“I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics which practice interruption of pregnancy [sic] but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work.”

If he is trying to curry favour with the secular media, he will certainly succeed, but  he will alienate all of his flock who take their faith at all seriously.

His Lordship obviously has not the faintest notion how much courage and forbearance it can take to witness outside  abortion mills, and see lines of women being ushered in in to “interrupt their pregnancies”. (It would be more accurate to say “to have their babies torn to pieces”). As has frequently been pointed out, such pro-life people endure abuse and sometimes violence for the sake of the unborn victims. They are helping Our Lord to carry His Cross, and certainly deserve the bishop’s encouragement, rather than his supercilious contempt. Does he really expect them to have big cheesy grins all over their faces?

The bishop also expressed the view that in the past, “we” had concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. As John Smeaton of English SPUC pointed out in a letter to his Lordship: “I really don’t think you would be saying, if national laws had allowed the killing of Catholic priests or Jews over the past few decades: ‘In the past we have concentrated too much on the killing of Catholic priests or Jews’. Indeed, you would probably be saying: ‘We can never do enough to denounce this grotesque evil.’”

Obviously the bishop was speaking in Italian, and the translation we have received could be somewhat garbled. It is this: “In the past we were exclusively focused on ‘no’ to abortion and euthanasia.  It can’t be like this, in the middle of this there is existence which develops.”

Now what on earth can this mean? Surely not that we may have to “develop” to a point where we may say “yes” to abortion, instead of “no”? But if not that, then what?

But that’s not all. Bishop Galantino went on to call for a “taboo-free discussion” of priestly celibacy, Holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics, and homosexuality (presumably homosexual acts?). This suggests the bishop believes that all these topics should be up for grabs. Well, one might perhaps legitimately discuss clerical celibacy (although didn’t Pope St John Paul II ruled that out of bounds ?). But not, surely, the other two?

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Merciless Marie Stopes

How bizarre―and yet paradoxically how appropriate―that a Dublin “reproductive choices” clinic should choose to call itself after a fervent anti-semite and eugenicist who campaigned to stop poor and disabled people from having children; who believed that only selective breeding could save the human race, who once sent Adolf Hitler her poems; and who refused to attend her son’s wedding because his bride was short sighted and wore glasses.

The birth control pioneer and author Marie Stopes did all  these things. And the contraception/sterilisation/abortion lobby and their lackeys  in the media have almost as high a regard for her as Catholics have for Mother Teresa.

Marie Stopes’ son Harry Stopes-Roe died recently at the age of 90. As a child, Marie made him wear skirts until the age of 11 because she didn’t believe in the “ugly and heating-in-the-wrong-places garments which most men are condemned to wear.” For the same reason, young Harry was forbidden to ride a bicycle.

Marie Stopes was 44 when she gave birth to Harry, and was told she could have no more children. She therefore advertised with a view to adoption, insisting that the child should be “absolutely healthy, intelligent and not circumcised”. She adopted four boys in succession, all of whom failed to meet her standards in various ways, so she sent them back. (One of them wetted his pants and was therefore “unfit to live in a decent household” and ought to have a thrashing, she said.)

Marie’s first marriage was annulled for non-consummation, and she bullied her second husband, Harry’s father, a First World War air ace, forcing him to write a letter freeing her from her marriage vows because, she claimed, he was unable to satisfy her.

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Tit for Tat

I mentioned Ms Stopes in an issue of the Brandsma Review several 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.”

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Weapon of Ridicule

If you ever feel tempted to give up the fight against seemingly all-powerful politicians and religious Modernists in high office, remember that the good Lord has left us one very powerful weapon: we can poke fun at them, and they hate it!

Listen to that most gifted Anglican convert, Mgr Ronald Knox:

“Our sense of the ridiculous is not, in its original application, a child’s toy at all, but a weapon, deadly in its efficacy, entrusted to us for exposing the shams and hypocrisies of the world. The tyrant may arm himself in triple mail, may surround himself with bodyguards, may sow his kingdom with a hedge of spikes, so that free speech is crushed and criticism muzzled. Nay, worse, he may so debauch the consciences of his subjects with false history and with sophistical argument that they come to believe him the thing he gives himself out for, a creature half-divine, a heaven-sent deliverer.

One thing there is that he still fears; one anxiety still bids him turn this way and that to scan the faces of his slaves. He is afraid of laughter. The satirist stands there, like the little child in the procession when the Emperor walked through the capital in his famous new clothes; his is the tiny voice that interprets the consciousness of a thousand onlookers: ‘But, Mother, he has no clothes on at all!’”

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Police pomposity

A Baptist church in Britain obviously shares at least one of Mgr Knox’s ideas. It put up a poster with the words “ If you think there’s no God you’d better be right !” and a small strip picture of a fiery furnace underneath. It was clearly intended to be at least partly humorous  Someone complained of offence and the local police pontificated that “National guidelines require this to be treated as a ‘hate’ event”.

Even the National Secular Society came to the support of the church and its right to free speech ! It makes you wonder, though, why offence caused to some British people by things like David Cameron’s adulation of sodomy is of no account.

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They still do it…

It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast.

―Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis

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Traitors Within

It is sad enough when people lose their faith and leave the Church; but it is much worse when those who in reality have lost their faith remain within the Church and try―like termites―to undermine Christian faith with their claim that they are giving to Christian revelation the interpretation that suits “modern man”.

―Dietrich von Hildebrand

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I’m in a Quandary…

…And it makes me decidedly uncomfortable.

When I was editing the Brandsma Review, I used to operate on the principle that if bishops or priests did or said foolish or unorthodox things, they were legitimate targets, but that a reigning pontiff was above criticism. I still think that is a proper attitude for a Catholic. One cannot ignore the Church’s constant teaching, in particular Lumen Gentium 25a of Vatican II, which speaks of “religious submission of mind and will to the authentic magisterium of the Roman pontiff”.

And yet…

How shall I put it? How can one deny that aspects of the present pontificate give cause for concern?  They certainly raise questions which need answering. So with some trepidation, as an unqualified layman I  shall try to tackle some of these questions. But that will have to await future issues when I have tried to come to some tentative conclusions.

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