Thursday 30 October 2014

Why Was The Synod Called?

Some good folk have wondered why the recent Extra-ordinary Synod was ever called, given that we already have Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, Casti Connubi, Humanae Vitae, and especially Familiaris Consortio and the Catechism. It is a good question.

For many, the assumption is that the Synod cannot have been called to look at streamlining the Annulment process, because a Commission to look into this was established before the Synod began. Nor can it have been called to seek ways to support families, because this does not seem to have played any real part in discussions as indicated by the Interim and Final Reports of the Synod. What is left is the possibility, denied by the proponents of change, that it was called in order to overturn previous teaching so that those living in occasions of sin (‘irregular unions’) could be admitted to Holy Communion.

The so-called basis for readmission to Holy Communion is mercy, yet mercy can only enter where repentance and amendment of life are present, and if persons remain in occasions of sin, where is the repentance and amendment?  Only the intellectually dim or the unfaithful could suggest that a period of penance which does not include amendment of life makes sense.  Hope for eternal salvation however, has to be held out to those who struggle to do the right thing in the wrong circumstances; in wrong situations from which they cannot extricate themselves. And while the living of a chaste life is possible but difficult, it does make readmission to the sacraments possible, as already stated by John Paul II in his closing address to the 1980 Synod:

...the fathers of the Synod, again affirming the indissolubility of marriage and the Church’s practice of not admitting to Eucharistic communion those who have been divorced and—against her rule—again attempted marriage, urge pastors and the whole Christian community to help such brothers and sisters. They do not regard them as separated from the Church, since by virtue of their baptism they can and must share in the life of the Church by praying, hearing the word, being present at the community’s celebration of the Eucharist, and promoting charity and justice. Although it must not be denied that such people can in suitable circumstances be admitted to the sacrament of penance and then to Eucharistic communion, when with a sincere heart they open themselves to a way of life that is not in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage—namely, when such a man and woman, who cannot fulfill the obligation of separation, take on the duty of living in total abstinence, that is, abstaining from acts that are proper only to married couples—and when there is no scandal.
Nonetheless, the lack of sacramental reconciliation with God should not deter them from perseverance in prayer, in penance and in the exercise of charity, in order that they may eventually receive the grace of conversion and salvation. 

The thing is this: Church teaching is the transmission of Divine Revelation which comes to us from the unchanging God via Scripture and Tradition, and we are to hand it on undiminished and uncorrupted to the next generation. A useful scripture reference to this is from Hebrews 13:

“Marriage should be honoured by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’...Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Heb.13v4-9).

It is not that good folk think we are dealing with a Pope who is heretical, but simply that they see something very wrong here, for while Modernisers may claim that the desire of the Synod was simply to change practice rather than doctrine, practice flows from Doctrine, so to change practice is to change doctrine implicitly. But this allows for an implicit change to be made explicit in years to come, claiming it is based on practice. This dangerous scenario would avoid Francis or any future Pope being called a heretic, since Francis will only have changed practice, not teaching, and a future Pope would simply be drawing doctrine from established practice. The plan of the Modernisers may be much more long-term than many think. It may be that they intended nothing more than the sowing of new seeds, but these seeds are tares; tares that faithful Bishops must ensure are never sown.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

John Paul II and Francis

By now we have all read Francis address at the end of the recent Extraordinary Synod, so I thought it would be useful to repeat the Final Address given by John Paul II to the Synod on the family in 1980 so readers could compare and contrast the two Addresses and decide for themselves which address gives the impression of arising from faithfully Catholic Synod. 

The link to the Address by John Paul II is here

The link to the Address by Francis is here.

The Address of John Paul II is, for ease of access, reproduced from the above link (with thanks to to 'Catholic Household'):

We have just heard the apostle St. Paul giving thanks to God for the Church at Corinth “that in every way it was enriched in Christ Jesus, with all speech and all knowledge” (cf. I Cor 1:5). We too feel impelled at this moment first and foremost to give thanks to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, before we bring this Synod of Bishops to an end.
We came together to celebrate it, whether as members or as assistants, in the mystery of that supreme unity which belongs to the most Holy Trinity. It is to the Holy Trinity therefore that we express our thanks that we have completed the Synod, which is an outstanding sign of vigor and of great importance for the life of the Church. For the Synod of Bishops—to use the words of the council, in accordance with whose wishes the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI instituted it “acting for the whole Catholic episcopate, is a sign that all the bishops in hierarchical communion share in the cares of the universal Church” (Christus Dominus, 5).
We give thanks together for these four weeks during which we have been working. This period of time, even before the issuing of the final statements (that is, the message and the propositions) has borne fruit in us, because truth and love seem to have matured in us by a gradual process as the days and weeks have passed. It is right to mention this process, and briefly to describe how it became clear. It thus becomes plain how honestly and sincerely were manifested in it both liberty and a responsible sense of duty regarding the theme that we were discussing.
We wish today to give thanks first to him “who sees in secret” (Mt 6:4) and works as a “hidden God,” because he has directed our thoughts, our hearts and our consciences and enabled us to press on with our work in fraternal peace and spiritual joy. Indeed, such was our joy that we hardly felt the burden of work or exhaustion. And yet, how tiring it in fact was! But you did not spare yourselves in the work.
We must also express thanks among ourselves. First of all, this must be said: we must all attribute that process by which, in a way that gradually matured, we “did the truth in charity,” to the urgent prayers which the whole Church as it were standing around as has been pouring out at this time. This prayer was for the Synod and for families: for the Synod, in that it was concerned with families, and for families, because of the tasks they have to perform in the Church and in the world of today. The Synod benefited from these prayers in a quite extraordinary way. Continual and abundant prayer was made to God, especially on 12 October, when couples, representing the families of the entire world, came together to St Peter’s basilica to celebrate the sacred rites and to pray with us. If we must thank one another, we must also thank so many unknown benefactors who, throughout the world, helped us with their prayers and offered their suffering to God for this Synod.
Now we come to the time for thanking one another by name, and in this we include everybody who has helped in the celebration of this Synod: there are the presidents, the secretary general, the relator general, the members themselves, the special secretary and his assistants, the auditores and auditrices, the people appointed to help the media, the departments of the Roman Curia and especially the Consilium for the Family, and others, from the ushers to the technical assistants, typists and so on.
We are all grateful that we have been able to complete this Synod. It was an outstanding manifestation of the collegial care for the Church of the bishops of the whole world. We are grateful that we have been able to see the family as it really is in the Church and in the world of today, considering the many different situations in which it finds itself; the traditions drawn from various cultures which influence it; the aspects of civilized life that shape and affect it; and other mailers of this sort.
We are grateful that we have been able again, with the obedience of faith, to look at God’s eternal plan for the family manifested in the mystery of creation, and strengthened with the blood of the Redeemer, the Spouse of the Church. And finally we are grateful that we have been able to define, according to the eternal design regarding life and love, the tasks of the family in the Church and world of today.
The fruit which this Synod of 1980 brings forth here and now is contained in the propositions, accepted by the assembly, of which the first is entitled: “On knowing the will of God in the pilgrimage of the people of God. On the sense of faith.” This rich treasury of propositions, 43 in number, we now receive as a singularly precious fruit of the works of the Synod. At the same time we express our joy that the assembly itself, publishing its message, has spoken to the whole Church. The General Secretariat, with the help of the organizations of the Apostolic See, will take care that this message is sent to all whom it concerns, and the episcopal conferences will help in this.
The deliberations of this Synod of 1980 and the contents of the propositions certainly enable us to see the Christian and apostolic tasks of the family in the world of today, and in a special way to draw them from the total teaching of the Second Vatican Council. Thus, we make effective progress along the road which must enable this Synod to put its doctrinal and pastoral plans into effect.
With regard to this, this year’s Synod is closely connected with the previous synods and is a continuation of the synods celebrated in 1971 and especially in 1974 and 1977, which have helped to put the Second Vatican Council into practical effect and must continue to do so. These synods help the Church in a fitting way to be as she must in the conditions of our age, and so to present herself.
Within the work of this Synod must be considered of the greatest usefulness the careful examination of doctrinal and pastoral questions that especially needed such examination, and, in consequence, a sure and clear judgment of these questions.
In the wealth of interventions, relations and conclusions of this Synod, which greatly arouse our admiration there are two cardinal points—namely, fidelity to the plan of God for the family, and a pastoral way of acting which is full of merciful love and of the reverence that is owed to men, and embraces all of them, in what concerns their “being” and “living.” In all this there are some parts which have especially occupied the minds of the Synod fathers, for they realized that they were expressing the expectations and hopes of many couples and families.
It is right to mention these questions among the work of the Synod, and to recognize the very useful examination that has carefully been made of them: that is, the doctrinal and pastoral examination of questions which, although they were not the only ones to be treated in the Synod’s discussions, nonetheless had a special place there, in that they were discussed in an especially open and free way. This means that importance must be attached to the opinions that the Synod clearly and powerfully expressed on these questions, while still retaining that Christian view, in which the family is regarded as a gift of divine love.
So the Synod—when speaking of the pastoral care of those who after divorce have entered on a new union—rightly praised those couples who in spite of great difficulties witness in their life to the indissolubility of marriage. In their life the Synod recognizes that good news of faithfulness to love which has its power and its foundation in Christ. Furthermore, the fathers of the Synod, again affirming the indissolubility of marriage and the Church’s practice of not admitting to Eucharistic communion those who have been divorced and—against her rule—again attempted marriage, urge pastors and the whole Christian community to help such brothers and sisters. They do not regard them as separated from the Church, since by virtue of their baptism they can and must share in the life of the Church by praying, hearing the word, being present at the community’s celebration of the Eucharist, and promoting charity and justice. Although it must not be denied that such people can in suitable circumstances be admitted to the sacrament of penance and then to Eucharistic communion, when with a sincere heart they open themselves to a way of life that is not in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage—namely, when such a man and woman, who cannot fulfill the obligation of separation, take on the duty of living in total abstinence, that is, abstaining from acts that are proper only to married couples—and when there is no scandal.
Nonetheless, the lack of sacramental reconciliation with God should not deter them from perseverance in prayer, in penance and in the exercise of charity, in order that they may eventually receive the grace of conversion and salvation. Meanwhile the Church, praying for them and strengthening them in faith and hope, must show herself a merciful mother towards them.
The fathers of the Synod were close in mind and spirit to the great difficulties that many couples feel in their conscience about the moral laws concerning the transmission of life and the protection of human life. Knowing that every divine precept carries with it promise and grace, they openly confirmed the validity and the sure truth of the prophetic message, full of deep meaning for the conditions of today, which is contained in the encyclical Humanae Vitae. The Synod has encouraged theologians to join forces with the hierarchical magisterium so that the biblical basis and the “personalistic” reasons (as they are called) for this doctrine may be ever more clearly made known, so that the entire teaching of the Church may become accessible to all men of good will, and may be every day more clearly understood.
Thinking of those who have pastoral care of married couples and families, the synod fathers rejected any split or “dichotomy” between instruction (which is necessary for any progress in fulfilling the design of God) and doctrine (taught by the Church with all its consequences and which includes the command to live according to that doctrine). It is not a matter of keeping the law as a mere “ideal” to be obeyed in the future. It is a question of the command of Christ the Lord that difficulties should constantly be overcome. In fact, the “law of gradualness,” as it is called, is not possible unless a person sincerely obeys the divine law and seeks those benefits that are protected and promoted by that law. For “the law of gradualness” (or gradual progress) cannot be the same as “gradualness of the law” as if there were various grades or forms of commandment for different men and circumstances in the divine law.
All couples are called to holiness in marriage according to the divine plan; and the dignity of this vocation becomes effective when a person is able to respond to the command of God with a serene mind, trusting in divine grace and his own will.
So it is not enough for couples—if they are not both of the same religious persuasion—to accommodate themselves passively and easily to their circumstances, but they should strive with patience and good will to come to a common intention to be faithful to the duties of Christian marriage.
The Synod fathers have acquired a deeper knowledge and awareness of the riches that are to be found in the cultural forms of different peoples and of the good things that every cultural form has to offer, the more fully the unsearchable mystery of Christ is understood. They have also recognized that—even within the confines of marriage and the home—there is a great field for theological and pastoral study, so that the adaptation of the gospel message to the character of each people may be better fostered and so that it may be learnt how the customs, special characteristics, the sense of life and the unique spirit of each human culture may be combined with the data of the divine revelation (Ad Gentes, 22).
This research—if carried on according to the principle of communion of the universal Church and with the encouragement of local bishops, who should be united among themselves and with the See of Peter “which presides over the whole assembly of charity” (LG 13) —will bring forth its fruits for families.
The Synod spoke timely and persuasive words with reverence and gratitude about woman, about her dignity and vocation as a daughter of God, as wife and mother. Reproving whatever harms her human dignity, the Synod stressed the dignity of motherhood. It therefore rightly said that human society should be so constituted that women are not obliged to work outside the home at a job or profession, but that the family should be able to live properly even when the mother devotes herself entirely to the family.
If we have mentioned these important questions and the replies that the Synod gave to them, we do not wish to value any less the other matters that the Synod dealt with, for, as has been shown in many interventions in these useful and fruitful weeks, these are questions worthy of being treated in the teaching and pastoral ministry of the Church with great reverence and love, full of mercy, towards men and women, our brothers and sisters, who fly to the Church for words of faith and hope. May pastors, taking their example from the Synod, address themselves to these problems, as they truly are in married and family life, with care and a firm will, that we may all “do the truth in charity.”
Now we wish to add something as the fruit of the labors that we have been carrying out for more than four weeks: that is, that nobody can “do charity” except in the truth. This principle can be applied to the life of every family no less than the life and work of pastors who truly mean to serve families.
So the principal fruit of this session of the Synod is that the tasks of Christian family, of which charity is as it were the heart, should only be full according to the whole truth. All in the Church who wish to help in the fulfilment of these tasks—be they lay people, clerics, or religious of either sex—can or this in the truth. For it is truth that sets free; it is truth that brings order: it is truth which opens the way to holiness and justice.
We have seen what the love of Christ is, what that charity is that is offered all who make up a family in the Church and in the world: not only to husband wives, but also to boys and girls and young people, and also to widow orphans, to grandparents, and to all who in any way share in family life. For these the Church of Christ wishes to be and wishes to remain both a witness gate to that fullness of life of which St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians in the words that we heard at the beginning: for we have been made rich in all things in Jesus with all speech and all knowledge (I Cor 1:5).
John Paul II

Saturday 25 October 2014

Holy Father & Faithful Bishops: Please Listen To The Heroes

“The Archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Martin Currie, told the CBC: ‘Hopefully we can find some accommodation where [same-sex] unions are accepted and respected and they can have a part in the church life.’  ...  ‘I uphold Church teaching. I do not accept same-sex marriages. Whatever the Church teaches [on homosexuality], I support that. I have had to discipline people for going to same sex weddings.’ ”

I ask: how can we accommodate and ‘respect’ same-sex pairings which are contrary to natural law, the Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterial teaching? We cannot, is the simple answer. Seeking to uphold Church teaching while accommodating such ‘unions’ is to seek the impossible. Such thinking is a striking example of the confusion that arose among the people of God during the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.

That Synod has much to put it in a bad light; not only in that it demonstrated there are rebellious voices existing within the very heart of the Church, but in the manipulation of the Synod:

  1. the imposing of secrecy on the proceedings
  2. the setting up of a commission to look at streamlining annulments before the Synod even began, thereby pre-supposing a particular outcome
  3. manipulation of the mid-way text in order to achieve a particular outcome
  4. the inclusion of voted-down paragraphs appearing in the final text.

In that all that is done in God is done in the light and in Truth (cf. MK.4v22 and Jn.3v21) one may speculate that this Extraordinary Synod, because it was cloaked in secrecy and subject to manipulation, was not of God, and that today’s Rome (and a number of prelates around the world) act as though the Pope, Rome and/or the Episcopate, stand over and above Divine Revelation –which is to usurp the place of God. All in all, it surprises no one to hear folk saying something evil has been influencing Rome in recent times, and that this was made evident at the Synod.

In considering the family, there are many Catholics who live heroic lives of faith who needed to hear sound and supportive things from the Synod, i.e., those who struggle to preserve a solid family life amid poverty, violent social oppression and relationship difficulties; and those who, being either separated, divorced or living with a homosexual proclivity, live faithful to the Gospel by espousing celibacy.

There are associations which seek to support these heroic people which would have benefitted from supportive, wise words from the Synod; associations geared toward family support such as ‘The Holy Family Guild in our own Diocese (and the ‘National Association of Catholic Families). Also, ‘The Association of Separated and Divorced Catholics’ which gives support to those whose marriages and families have broken down; and ‘Courage’ which supports those with a homosexual orientation to live a chaste and holy life. These associations were let down very badly by the Synod.

One hopes that many souls in such Associations, souls who have already taken up the arms of prayer and sacrifice, will take up also the arms of the pen to inform both their local Bishop and the President of their Episcopal Conference that seeking to accommodate and welcome that which is contrary to the Gospel just will not do -and undermines all the sacrifices made by them as faithful families; as faithful members of ‘The Association for the Divorced & Separated Catholics’, and as faithful Catholic members of ‘Courage’ etc. The voice of these faithful (and thus heroic) Catholics, needs to be heard above the bellows of those dissenters who seek to overturn the Gospel for the sake of having sexual experience as, when and with whomsoever they desire it.

It is to the heroes that the Pope and the Bishops need to listen and give their support, not the dissenters who wish to tear up the Gospel, abandon Tradition and undermine the authority of the Church so as to indulge their passions. It is all very well to speak of ‘dialogue’ and ‘pathways’, but these words too often to blindside the faithful: dialogue becoming the seeking of new terminology that disguises sin, while ‘pathways’ becomes an ‘opening up of welcome’ to sinful practices.

May the ‘God of Surprises’ surprise the Bishops with the voice of the heroic Catholic, for it is the voice of the hero that needs to be heard; the voice of the person who carries the challenge of being a divorcee or of the homosexual orientation, yet continues to live in chaste, loving fidelity to Christ for a cause greater than the pleasure of sexual experience: the salvation of their soul.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Unwitting Agents of Satan?

I can understand Francis and Cardinals Kasper, Nichols and all the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ saying we need to stream line the annulment process and that we need a less harsh language: why can’t we substitute ‘misdirected desire’ for ‘intrinsically disordered’ or ‘irregular union’ for adultery? But we must avoid language that suggests we value the sinful orientations that spring from concupiscence and the sinful acts in which people engage, or we are endangering their souls and our own. Be sure of this: leaders in the Church who wish to abandon Church teaching for the sake of ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy’ are placing souls on the road to hell -and they are walking there with them so as to “accompany them and support them in the messiness of human life”.

I come from a 'messy' background: the child of a union not recognised by the Church; a social circle where drunkenness, hard-drug abuse, theft, violence and sex as mere recreation were the ways of everyday life. Coming from such a background, I am not without sin myself, and I know that those in such a social circle had some good ways: mutual support in hard times; protection of one another from violent attack by rivals; the sharing of resources. But some mutual support is actually wrong: while it was good to share resources such as food and compassion when things went awry etc., it was wrong to share resources that meant more places could be robbed or rivals suffer violence. Similarly, it is wrong to give support to irregular situations. Not all support is good support; it is not good when it supports or facilitates evil.

As I said, coming from a messy background I myself am not without sin –who is? But as a sinner I needed the pastors of the Church to accompany me down the road of repentance; I needed their support in becoming the person God is calling me to be. I needed to be picked up after falling and be re-cleansed in the Blood of Christ. What I did not need was for my pastors to lie and say all was well between me and God no matter how I choose to live -I did not need them to affirm and accompany me on the road to hell. They may go there if they so desire, but I don’t want them send or take me (or others) by misplaced, erroneous compassion.

The ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ of today are, I assume, unwitting agents of Satan, but they are doing Satan’s work anyway. One can only ask, with sincere and concerned heart, if these men have not lost their Catholic Faith. They may retain a belief in ‘god’, but it is not in the God of the Ten Commandments, of the Gospel, of St Paul or of Tradition (Revelation). We can know this because the Ten Commandments outlaw sexual irregularities (Ex.20v14); because Our Lord Himself rebuked such irregularities with His own lips in the ‘Gospel of the poor and outcast’ (Lk.16v18); and because the Holy Ghost testifies through St Paul that despite this being the age of mercy (the age of the Good News) those living in the irregularities of fornication, adultery, homosexual activity, thieving, drunkenness or swindling will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor.6v9-10). Pastoral Modernisers are rejecting all of this.

Some, including our faith leaders, have shown at the Synod that they reject the restrictions of the Ten Commandments; refuse the teaching of God-made-man, and reject the teaching of the Holy Ghost through St Paul. For such men, mercy does not mean “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more”(Lk.7v48); nor it does it mean being saying with St Paul “such, some of you once were” (1 Cor.6v11). No; their Gospel is ‘God loves you as you are, so you may leave your spouse and children; you may reject the life-giving properties of sex; you may lie with members of your own sex, and all is well between you and God’. They are very wrong. There is no scripture reference for their stand; no support in Tradition. All they have to support them is today’s secular, relativist humanism and feelings-focused kindness. I can think of no better advice to give to them than these words addressed to them by the Lord Himself: "I appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” (Ezeckiel,33v7-8)

I don’t know where the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ are coming from in calling for the Church to be ‘merciful’: the Church denies love and friendship to no one; all she does is tell those in irregular lifestyles to forgo sex. Are the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ saying that this is too much to ask of anyone? If so, what can give us confidence that they are faithful to their celibacy? How can we know if Bishop Conry was alone in his waywardness?

By all means find ways of helping the adulterer, the licentious, the active homosexual, feel they are valuable and have a place in the Church of saints and sinners: help them by encouraging them to come to Mass; to seek spiritual Direction; to live and love chastely; to take part in the social life of the parish; to stay involved in charitable works. But do not turn a blind eye to their sin and to the danger they place themselves in by living contrary to the mind of God as expressed in Divine Law, the Scriptures and Tradition.

Post Script: I am not convinced by those who say that if the Pope changes pastoral practices it does not change doctrine. It may not do so today, but in 100/200 years time folk may well say, “The Church has been allowing those in irregular unions to receive Communion so it must be OK; if must fit with our doctrine”, and then doctrine will change to fit with practice. If Francis changes the discipline of the Church it surely won’t affect doctrine today, but it can change it in the future. And therein lies the danger: the devil has a longer-term view and plan than does the blogger or Bishop who says a change in discipline does not mean a change in doctrine. The two cannot be forever at odds.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

A Roam to the Dome of Home...

Inspired by the attempt of the local LMS to arrange a trip to the New Brighton Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Philomena, Fr Dickson decided to see what we could do as a parish. We managed to assemble a dozen or so folks who were interested in making the trip, which we made this past Sunday. We met some lovely people there (some who are readers of this blog) and met up with some dear friends. We were made to feel very welcome by both the clergy and the people.

I won’t spend time writing about the Church itself, because it is well presented in their recent video (which I assume all our readers have seen elsewhere but which can be viewed here). The Church/shrine is administered by the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, and we were pleased that the clergy could join us for lunch after Mass.

We had the joy of attending a Missa Cantata -with some very nice singing indeed. It is singing that we miss here at home, since no one here feels they can be part of a Latin choir. As such a sung Mass is impossible, which is a big drawback to presenting the Traditional Rite in its full glory. While Low Mass can be wonderful with its silence and meditative mode of prayer, a sung Mass once a month would be, for us, the complete presentation of the Traditional Mass.

We were given an interesting guide to the features and history of the parish and the Church by Anne Archer, whom you can see in the video. We also took some photographs of our group intently listening to said lady! All in all we had a great time there. 

If there is any recommendation we would make, it would be to arrange Coffee Mornings after Sunday Mass so folk can meet and share time together. The school is in the Church grounds, which may make a suitable place to have coffee, socialise and welcome visitors –and increase funds! (Here in Thornley Father utilises our Sunday Coffee Morning for Justice & Peace issues, which has enabled us to make donations of £100 each to the likes of Aid to the Church in Need, The Little Way, SPUC etc, and to do so three or four times a year, as well as make contributions to emergency and to disaster appeals.

A good lunch in pleasant surroundings with great company topped off the day, ensuring we had been fed both in body and soul before our return journey home. 

Monday 20 October 2014

Francis And The Close Of The Synod

I have tried to write something positive on the way the Synod has gone and how Francis handled it, but I cannot do so without feeling that I am defending Francis and ought not to be. He may be of good heart and intention, but he seems to be blind to what is going on in in his name as his legacy to history.This Synod was so distributing to so many that I was glad to see it come to an end. 

I found myself tempted to laugh at Francis’ opening comments in his Closing Address because he said the fathers had “truly lived the experience of ‘Synod,’ a path of solidarity, a ‘journey together’.” Rubbish! There is the blindness! There were two paths being taken: one in continuity with the Deposit of Faith; another which deviated from it. Such divergence is not journey together: it is journeying in and toward division. Rather than laugh, I lamented that Francis seemed to see the division displayed as positive journeying. Only The Enemy -who desires to sift us like wheat- could see it as positive -Francis is mistaking divisive talk for discussion. They are not the same thing at all. Discussion is good and Francis is right to permit it, but discussion does not include defensive and accusatory talk, which is what this synod tasted of to many.

Sadly this synod played around with doctrine from day one when Cardinal Kasper first asked that it look at admitting those in irregular unions to Holy Communion. It continued in the Interim Report after the first week. And all of this without a word of correction from the Pope. He might say he wanted free discussion, but there can be no free discussion on how to tolerate sin. Truly, we have missed a golden opportunity to look at the threats to the family in today's world and to seek ways of addressing those threats in order to support family life and heal those whose lives are being wounded or have been wounded.

The divided nature of the Synod is seen even in Francis' closing statement, where he complains about traditionalists trying to hold onto the Deposit of Faith, and then about those who do not want to hold onto it (those who act as its masters or owners). Well, he can’t have it both ways in 2015; he will have to stand either with Traditionalists to defend The Faith; with those who seek to ensure Canon Law protects the living-out of that Deposit, or he will stand against them. The signs given at this Synod were not good in that he allowed the Church’s perennial lex credendi lex vivendi to be questioned.

Without making any assertion about Francis himself, I take up the quote that “for evil to flourish all it takes is that good men doing nothing” –and from the day Kasper laid out his stall through to the Interim report, Francis did nothing to defend the Church’s Doctrine or the laws which serve to protect it in daily life. One can only assume that since he did not step on Kasper’s proposals from day one that he thought there was some validity and mileage in what Kasper said. That would be very disturbing if true.

I wait to see if Francis will come out on the side of the Deposit of Faith at the 2015 Synod or show himself to be one of those think of themselves not as its guardian, but as its owner or master...

Prayer and sacrifice are needed for the graced outcome of the 2015 Synod and its resulting Apostolic Exhortation.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Winning A Battle Does Not Win Us the War

It seems there is some relief in Rome that the Synod is over. What really happened in the Synod Hall was that by Faithful Bishops rejecting the progressive direction the Synod was taking, division among the Bishops was revealed. Not only that, but if the report given to Rorate Caeli is correct, we know some Bishops are unhappy even with Pope Francis –the President of one Episcopal Conference apparently calling him “an agent of disruption”.

Had the Synod decided for a change to allow for those in irregular situations to receive Holy Communion -and this would have to include all irregularities: cohabitation, non-sacramental unions, active homosexual relationships, surrogacy etc- the Church would be sending a message to those engaged in such acts that there is no need to return to a life consonant with Christ’s Gospel in order to benefit from the Gospel. Not only would this endanger souls, it would also constitute a huge smack in the face for those who have fought for the natural family and the Church over the last 50 years against an increasingly hostile, secular world. The sadness is that their adversaries have been shown to be living and thriving within the Catholic Clergy at the highest of levels.

Unfortunately, though a battle may have been won at the 2014 Synod, the war continues: this Synod does not really conclude until the topic is concluded at the 2015 Synod. And who knows who will be invited to take part in that Synod?

It is imperative that we continue to pray and make some sacrifices for a grace-filled outcome to the 2015 Synod. It is my hope that Francis’s ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ will realise that they are a minority; that the majority of the Faithful from laity to Bishops are not as liberal as they thought; not as willing to turn their back on the Gospel for the sake of ‘not offending against people’s feelings’ or challenging the secular world.

The Problem with Pastoral Modernisers (PM’s) is several-fold. One problem is that they think they can divide the life of faith from The Faith itself, which is utter nonsense. If a Health-Care Professional told a patient, “O yes, I know you have chronic renal failure, but if you are thirsty drink as you need, and if you fancy a banana or two don’t worry that they are potassium-rich foods” that professional would be at least incompetent and certainly dangerous. The danger from PM’s arises because they seek to allow all kinds of behaviour so as not to hurt folks’ feelings. For them, good pastoral care means no more than affirming that God loves the sinner, essentially saying that conversion of life is not necessary for salvation.

A second problem is that they remain leaders of the Church when in fact they have lost their faith in the Church and the Gospel. They retain a vague belief in some kind of ‘god’, but not the God of the Scriptures. They may refer to the Scriptures to note the compassion of God; but it is selective quoting they engage in; they do not value the whole of Scripture and Tradition where today’s ‘morality’ is rebuked as harmful to souls.

A final problem is that they are hard to defeat in the public domain simply because they are loved by those whose lives run counter to the Gospel (and by the families of such folk, whose emotions do not allow them to consider that their loved one is living contrary to the ways of God and salvation). Thus PM’s are seen as heroes. They are seen as good-hearted men, with faithful Catholics made to look hard-hearted. The truth is that while PM’s appear compassionate and Christ-like, they are really wolves in sheep’s clothing -though they are blissfully unaware of this because they feel they are ‘kind’ and ‘compassionate’.

Getting folk in irregular situations (and those who support them) to put their feelings aside so that they can embrace the Truth is not easy; only God can do it, hence the need for prayer and sacrifice –especially the saying of the Rosary so as to access the help of the very Mother of the Holy Family.

Friday 17 October 2014

Converts To Catholicism: Take Heart

I have been asked by converts why they “bothered to become Catholic as the sure place of Truth if this synod is going to give up the whole darn thing”. I have been saying to them to recognise that there has always been tumult in the Church; just look at the Arian Crisis”; but this has only have-way helped them. So here is some sound reassurance for them that this Synod is not being managed by the devil...

We are told (see here)via that excellent blog Rorate Caeli, that cardinal Baldisseri, General Secretary to the Synod, announced that the discussions of the circuli minores would not be made public, and that almost a revolt took place: Cardinal George Pell, and after him a long line of Fathers from Archbishop Léonard, Cardinal Napier et al, asked for the matter to be put to a vote, and that it had the atmosphere of a stadium, with a standing ovation. The Pope apparently looked on impassively. Result? Cardinal Schönborn had to say, at the press conference, that "the decision to render public the relationes of the circuli was taken by large majority."

The Major Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, spoke directly of the need of "sending a clear message to the faithful and to the Pope" on the fact that "the family is the stable, faithful, and sacramental union between a man and a woman." This arose because, as one Synod Father said, very little had been said of the unions between persons of the same sex - not more than three interventions in the assembly -and yet Monday's Relatio spoke about it ad abundantiam. 

What this shows us is that many of our Bishops are not going to sit back and let the Gospel be abandoned in favour of satisfying the secular world. As cardinal Pell says in the interview below: “we are not giving in to the secular agenda; we are not collapsing in a heap...we have no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian churches and of the Catholic Church in one or two countries. Christ’s teaching on marriage is not put there as a burden; it works in the long run; it’s there to protect us...Communion for the Divorced/re-married is for some, very few, certainly not the majority of the Synod Fathers, is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s a stalking horse. ~They want wider changes; recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions. The Church cannot go in that direction. It would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic Tradition”.

Well said, your Eminence -and thank you to all the faithful Fathers at the Synod.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

How To Suffer with Christ and His Church – An Insight from Richard Collins (RIP)

I have been given permission to publish an email sent by Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow) to one of our readers at a time when he was undergoing much suffering. I was trying to find words to introduce the email to you, but it actually speaks for itself. I will only say that I think this is something which can and will help many people in their suffering. Thank you to Richard for writing it; to his family for allowing us to share it, and to the reader who forwarded it to me.

We are hoping other Catholic blogs will give space to Richard's email, so that as many people as possible benefit from his manner of suffering with Christ and the Church.

Please do say a prayer for Richard, his family, and all those who are approaching death.

"Dear [...]

When I was in hospital I found the long nights awake particularly hard. So, I imagined Christ in His cell the night before Calvary and I joined Him there.

I took great comfort from the fact that I was able to share my suffering alongside Him.
Over the nights that followed, more visitors came to the cell. St Therese de Lisieux, the Venerable Fulton Sheen, Pope St Pius X, Padre Pio.

I began to look forward to my night time meditations and even added a priest friend also suffering with terminal cancer.

It was quite a group that gathered each evening; we began to pray for friends and family in need (including yours).

This has been a great source of comfort and understanding and, every evening, I remember [.....] and yourself in my prayers.

God bless


May God bless Richard, all the faithful departed, and grant courage, peace and strength to those left behind. Amen. 

Francis and the Synod

We all know where the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ go wrong: rather than seeking to have people’s lives conformed to The Faith, they are conforming The Faith to people’s sinful lives. It is akin to the Government saying ‘too many people are being prosecuted for breaking the speed limit; we ought to get rid of these limits so we don’t put folk into the position of being labelled law-breakers and banned from driving’. It is a position of pure nonsense. It is Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae completely overturned and Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law abrogated.

Francis has three routes he can take after the Synod:

1. Uphold doctrine but change canon law on who can be admitted to Holy Communion

2. Abandon doctrine hitherto held

3. Hold to both doctrine and to canon law while seeking to ensure some kind of place in the Church for those in irregular situations.

Lets looks at these.

On 1:  If Francis leaves the doctrine alone on family and human sexuality yet re-writes Canon Law on who can be admitted to Holy Communion, he will get the Church into a state of saying one thing and doing another: a state of betrayal wherein doctrine and practice are at odds. He cannot then, choose this option. Surely he does not lack the formation and intelligence needed to realise that he cannot lead the Church into saying one thing and doing another?

On 2:  If he tries to re-write doctrine to say that adultery in all its forms (pre-marital sex; serial marriage; homosexual marriage) is acceptable he will show himself to have fallen into heresy when judged against Scripture and Tradition. Surely he cannot be so arrogant as to think he can abandon Scripture and Tradition in order to accommodate today’s sexual proclivities?

On 3:  This is the only option he can take if he seeks to be faithful to the Gospel and Tradition.

If he chooses Option 1 he simply becomes unable to require our obedience, since he cannot require us to follow canon law at the expense of Divine Law. If he chooses option 2 he becomes heretical.

I choose to expect that Francis will take the third option and uphold both doctrine and canon law; that he will simply require pastors to help those in irregular situations to feel valued by the Church (which can be done by affirming that these persons have a right -and duty- to attend Mass; a right and a need to take part in the social life of their parishes and a right and a need to seek Spiritual Direction).

The Synod however, has only completed one full week, so there is a long way to go before he chooses his path. Let us support him with our prayers and sacrifices.

On The Synod's Interim Report

I have briefly looked at the Interim Report and to be honest, it could have been written before the Synod Fathers left their Diocese for Rome, so much does it favour the line taken by the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’. I suspect the Apostolic Exhortation will do the same, unless the likes of Muller and Burke shake Francis’ confidence in the idea that the Faith can be retained in word but abandoned in deed; that we can say one thing and do another.

‘Pastoral Modernisers’ think the Church is wrong not to admit the cohabiting, the divorced/civilly united and the active homosexual to Holy Communion. These Modernisers consequently leave themselves open to being accused of having forgone loyalty to Christ the Truth in order to accommodate the sins of man and the Prince of this World; they listen not to the Gospel, the Fathers and Tradition but to secular socio-psychobabble in which the highest goal is to seek and love oneself and allow others to do the same. Are the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ then, seeking to change our allegiance from Christ to the Prince of this World?

Well, let us be honest: the interim report was not unexpected. It should have surprised no one. Recognising that there have been compromising statements by Bishops and priests on sexual matters ever since the promulgation of Humane Vitae, what this Synod is doing is not changing the allegiance of the Church from Christ to The Prince Of This World, but demonstrating that this change has been taking place for decades.

I hope the Bishops who are still at home follow the line of polish Archbishop Gądecki who has called the document into question; I hope they are contacting their delegates in Rome to register their dissatisfaction and disagreement. I suspect many are (we do have some faithful Bishops, after all).

Lest I be accused of lacking in pastoral sensitivity let me say that I have no problem valuing divorcees, cohabitees and homosexuals: I have all of these in my family: I have no brother or sister and only two nephews (out of 20) who is in a regular situation. These issues do not ‘touch’ my life -they have swamped it. The Church too, has no problem in valuing persons who are cohabiting, in civil unions after divorce or in homosexual pairings. But as for valuing the cohabitation; the civil union or the homosexual tendency/act –that is something no Catholic can do; we cannot value concupiscence, acts and situations that Scripture and Tradition denounce as inconsistent with the eternal good of the person. Those who seek to value them are wolves in sheep’s clothing, be they Pope, Bishop, Priest, Religious or Layman, because no one has the authority to over-rule Divine Law.

Let us be clear: divorced and civilly married persons, cohabitees and active homosexual persons are not ‘bad’ or inferior people; they are no less valuable than anyone else and are no less loved by God. But they live in a rebellious situation. What they need is a welcome at Mass, Spiritual Direction and involvement in the social life of the parish so that they experience the beauty of the Gospel and their value to God; what they absolutely do not need is to have their souls put in danger by telling them that to live contrary to the mind of God presents no danger to their eternal salvation. 

Francis may be right to say our Lord was unhappy that the Pharisees defended the law and left no room for the God of surprises, but the laws they were defending were ceremonial laws; accretions to the Ten Commandments, such as washing up to the elbows (Matt.15v2) and the law of corban (Mk.7v11), not the Divine Law which Christ Himself confirmed (“You know the Commandments” –Mk.10v19). It is Divine Law the Pastoral Modernisers are seeking to change, which we simply cannot do -even if we are the Pope.