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November 11, 2015

Keep Buying the Brandsma

I was afraid I’d missed the latest Brandsma Review—or else that the magazine might possibly have folded—so I was mightily relieved when it finally arrived.  There’s some very good stuff in it, so I suggest that if you haven’t got it, you pop along to Veritas or order it by e-mailing brandsmareview@gmail.com.

Joe McCarroll has a typically insightful piece about the abortion lobby’s campaign to repeal those parts of the  Eighth Amendment which recognise the right to life of the unborn as equal to that of the mother.  He rightly describes this  as the gravest ever challenge to Irish pro-lifers, and excoriates the disgraceful role of the media, in particular RTÉ, in seeing no evil, hearing no evil and reporting no evil when it comes to abortion.

In a thoughtful article on the “same-sex marriage” referendum Fr James Siemens points out that true “homophobes”—meaning people who  are afraid of or hate homosexuals—are few and far between. He thinks it’s a pity the term is applied to those who, for any number of reasons, don’t feel comfortable with the idea of publicly affirming homosexuality, and he considers that to condemn such people as homophobic endangers the freedom of us all.

I enjoyed a piece  by Joe Aston analysing the reasons why the same-sex marriage referendum was carried. He argues, surely rightly, that it was a form of apathy, what he calls “the deep-seated Irish attitude of keeping one’s head down , leave the mad world take its course…avoid conflict with one’s neighbours, distrust words and don’t mind that intellectual stuff”. That’s why so many people who should have bestirred themselves didn’t bother to vote.

There is a fine editorial by David Manly on the gruesome atrocities  revealed by the recent exposure of Planned Parenthood’s practice of routinely selling off body parts from abortions. How matter-of-fact they are—almost like Nazis. One of the leading PP executives, Dr Deborah Nucatola, is  described thus: “While she munches her salad and sips her wine, she expounds on the problems of  preserving intact body parts when performing abortions, not unlike an engineer explaining the problems of bridge building.” He headlines his article “The Gates of Hell with Wine and Salad.” Brilliant.

I am grateful to Peadar Laighléis who succeeded me as editor of the BR, for making a special mention of the death of my dear daughter Joanna and asking for prayers for her and the Lowry and McCann families. And I’ll forgive him for mixing up masculine and feminine forms in the Requiem Aeternam. I think he learned his Latin grammar from scratch, whereas I had it drummed into me at school. That way, you never forget it.

Now for some criticism—most of it, I hope, positive. First, it is a thousand pities that the May-June issue has only just come out. If subscribers don’t receive their magazine with reasonable regularity, they become increasingly reluctant to renew their subscriptions. Then there is the layout which, I’m afraid, is dire. There is a  large and unnecessary white gap between the titles and the headlines on the cover. Inside, the headlines and the bylines are the same size, whereas the former should be about double the size of  the latter. It really is worth taking great care over layout; if it is slipshod, your readers’ patience is strained.

Then there is Peadar’s own editorial. In a pontificate when modernism is tightening its grip on the Church,  it seems almost perverse to tiptoe around  the Argentine elephant in the living room while devoting almost a page to yet another bash at the Society of St Pius X.  The Pixies are pygmies in the overall scheme of things, (although traditionalists have reason to be grateful to them). Whether or not they are schismatic is a moot point. Rome says they  are not. Who cares?

Peadar says the BR is not a traditionalist publication. He’s right: it is becoming rather Neo-Catholic.

Buy it all the same: it deserves your support.


  1. Your final three paragraphs are the most important part of your telling critique. Your point refers to what is happening in the Church today and what was, or is, the purpose of the Brandsma. Pope Francis’ manner of achieving his objectives is most unsettling, and a brief scan of orthodox publications and websites gives ample evidence of widespread unhappiness within the Church. If the readers of the BR predominantly or completely belong to the “traditional”—call it what you will—and you are silent on this subject, they will conclude that the magazine is afraid to speak. Silence is not an option.

    A second point. I am not happy with being called a “traditionalist”, nor anything other than “Catholic”. How do I refute those who call me a liberal or a conservative—and other more pejorative terms? Apart from the ancient Creeds and Councils of the Church, I first of all accept, and in fact have no difficulty with the teaching of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

  2. I feel that particularly during the present pontificate we have all been forced into defining ourselves with labels other than just simply “Catholic”, which by itself can now include the most egregious modernism. Cardinal Kasper, I suppose, is “Catholic” in some sense.
    I also think that one of the strengths of the Brandsma has been its willingness to include among its writers “traditionalists” “conservatives” (among whom I would include David), those charismatically inclined like Eanna Johnson and the late Louis Power–even evangelical Protestants like Louis Hemmings.
    I ought to have defined the term Neo-Catholic, which I do not intend to be pejorative. I mean those with such a strong regard for the institution of the papacy that they consider a reigning pope to be above criticism–no matter what he does or says. I would not include David in this category: as he so rightly says, silence is not an option.
    Pope Francis’ manner of achieving his objectives is, I fear, more than merely unsettling. So too are some of the objectives themselves..

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