Friday, July 30, 2010

Annual Blueberry Festival in Marquette

Threat to human life as great as ever under new British Government

Nothing has changed in the political rhetoric on human life. Here's what the Department for International Development recently put out as amongst its goals for the third world:

  • Scaling-up access to family planning - Every year there are 75 million unintended pregnancies. A third of all maternal deaths could be avoided if women had access to family planning. Scaling up the provision of contraception in developing countries could help meet the unmet need and reduce the number of deaths. This includes ensuring that women can access modern methods of family planning such as implants, injectables and IUDs.
  • Addressing unsafe abortion: Every year unsafe abortion results in up to 70,000 maternal deaths in developing countries. A further 8 million women and girls need medical treatment. Only 5 million receive it. Ensuring abortion services are safe, and that post abortion care is provided, saves lives. And increasing access to family planning will avert many thousands of unintended pregnancies and abortions every year.
  • Making birth safe - The minutes and hours around childbirth is the time when the risk of death is greatest for mothers and their babies: a total of over 2 million birth-related deaths occur globally each year. For mothers who die around the time of birth, it is rare for their baby to survive. To address this, women need to be able to access skilled and motivated health workers in the right place at the right time, who have the drugs, equipment and infrastructure for a safe delivery.

The old, old, arguments: more 'family planning', more 'safe abortion' (whatever that is - not safe for the baby), and then, contradictorally: the quest to make birth safe - very laudable. Why don't 'uplanned' pregnancies be treated in this manner to avoid abortion?

British Prime Minister David Cameron is pro-abortion. As John Smeaton quotes from a letter from the Prime Minister's office to SPUC:
David is aware of the comments made by the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP, in the House on the 12 May. Andrew was advocating that early, medical abortions are preferable to late, surgical ones. Therefore, Andrew was in favour of amending the requirement for two doctors to consent to an abortion [i.e. only one doctor can give the consent creating a fast-track process for getting an abortion] being performed and for reviewing the restrictions on nurses providing medical abortions [just pop into the practice nurse and she/he can do it as routinely as taking a blood sample]. As David is in favour of allowing women to have abortions, but supports a reduction to the abortion limit [don't people who advocate campaigns for reductions in time limits see that this always results in legislation that actually makes abortion easier?], he thinks that this is a practical and sensible proposal [oh how terribly British - such a sensible way of disposing of human life on an industrial scale; I think the Nazis also sought practical ways of killing millions of the death camps]. However, it must be emphasized that this is currently a free vote issue.
The new President of the Pontifical Academy for Life Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco speaks clearly against this philosophy which fails to recognise the rights of the unborn child and attacks the further promotion of killing by Governments around the world. In an interview with Zenit he says:

I don't know when we will arrive at the right to steal but behind these laws what exists is a relativistic logic.

More from John Smeaton here, here, here.

Twenty five years of marriage

After Mass this morning I was asked by one of those attending if I could give him and his wife a blessing on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee which they will be keeping on August 3rd. So this afternoon, Dan and Beverley Eberhard came with their daughters Rachel, Sarah and Kelsey for the blessing ceremony. Dan had bought his wife a surprise silver ring with some nice looking stones in it.

The words of the Psalm that we read were very apt:

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.

Dan and Beverley are from Battle Creek downstate Michigan and were here visiting their daughter's new home here in Marquette. It's a great joy to celebrate faithful married love and particularly to bless a couple who are full of faith in God.

Slovenian Quintet visits Marquette

The Slovenian choir 'Kvintet Slomsek' are touring North America and spent two nights here in Marquette. They came here to honour their fellow countryman and missionary to the Native Americans Bishop Baraga who is buried in the crypt of St Peter's Cathedral. As mentioned elsewhere, his cause for beatification is proceeding in Rome.

Yesterday they celebrated Mass in the crypt.

In the photo above: Father Igor Novak and Father Matjaz Rotar of the archdiocese of Maribor, Slovenia, together with other members of the Quintet (the tallest is a seminarian) and two parishioners of the Cathedral who have been very much involved with the cause of Bishop Baraga.

This morning they gave me a leaflet about the new church they have built in honour of Blessed Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek after whom their quintet is named and who was a great friend of Bishop Baraga. More details here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad dies.

Aid to the Church in Need reports the death of Bishop Andreas Abouna of Iraq who died Tuesday, 27th July after a lifetime of a ministry to a Church beset by war, oppression and increasing hardship.

Bishop Abouna spent eleven years in Ealing, West London, as priest in charge of the Chaldean and Syrian Catholic Mission. He was made auxiliary bishop of Baghdad just weeks before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the outbreak of chaos in Iraq, Christians suffering the worst of persecution and violence, with many leaving. But Bishop Abouna stayed and helped his people have hope in the future.

Read more at Aid to the Church in Need.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some nice pics from Munising

I'm now legal for driving - jumped all the hurdles: social security no., Michigan driving test, License, and have even registered a car in my name.

Took a trip out to Munising, 40+ miles east along the coast of Lake Superior. Munising is famous for its pictured rocks and waterfalls. I hope to see the rocks and cliffs from the vantage point of a boat next month with another priest of the Marquette diocese. But I did some trail walking, and found a nice beach. The water was at just the right temperature. Beautiful clear coloured sand.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Gay 'Marriage' in Church, Now or Ever

This very clear message was delivered to David Cameron, Britain's Prime Minister, by Bishop Tartaglia of Paisley, Scotland. (As reported by LifeSiteNews and the Herald of Scotland.

The British Prime Minister appears to be actively courting the support of homosexual rights campaigners, having hosted a Gay Pride reception in June. In his speech he said:

I am pleased to announce that we are taking a further step, and I think a good step and a right step – ­and I say this as someone who believes in marriage, who believes in civil partnership, who believes in commitment –­ and that is to say that if religious organisations, if churches, if mosques, if temples want to have civil partnerships celebrated at religious places of worship, that should be able to happen and we should make that happen.
Chilling stuff, from a man who has proclaimed himself to be 'Conservative' on the one hand and 'Liberal' on the other. There's nothing conservative or liberal (philosophically rather than politically) in making civil partnerships in places of worship happen.

The good Bishop wrote to Cameron saying:
You and your Government need to be aware from the outset that the Catholic Church will not register civil partnerships nor celebrate same-sex unions: not now, not in the future, not ever, no matter what legislation or regulations your Government enacts or endorses.

At last, a Bishop who says: we'll disobey this unjust law. Very refreshing.

Yesterday, in my homily here at St Peter's, I spoke about the sins crying out to heaven for vengeance in the light of Genesis 18 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yes, the Catholic Church still teaches, as does Scripture, that Sodomy is such a sin.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Frassati Society Barbecue

Thursday 22nd St Peter's Cathedral Frassati Society held a barbecue followed by a Q&A session with Bishop Sample.

The Frassati Society is inspired by Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who was born in Turin, Italy in 1901. He died at the young age of 24 in 1925 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

Pier Giorgio was a

vibrant young outdoorsman who combined a deep love for Christ, a desire to serve the needy, and a mission to imbue society and politics with Christian ideals.(Go here or to EWTN for further information.)

As you can see from the pictures (one a photo, the other the official beatification picture) he even smoked a pipe. In many images of him now, the pipe has been airbrushed out, sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

The society was started here at the Cathedral a year ago and is an opportunity for young adults to come together and be inspired to live coherent Christian lives, bearing witness to Christ in their states in life.
Dustin Katona, parish youth and Life Teen co-ordinator, with Pastor Fr Mike Steber and Deacon Ryan. I was here last year when Deacon Ryan (not yet a deacon) announced the setting up of the Frassati Society.

One of the reasons the Church is alive here is because of the number of large families. I have met serveral families of eight and six children, and young couples who are embarking on raising families, trusting in God's plan for them regarding the number of children they should welcome as gifts from the Lord. I have also met parents who have moved from rejecting to embracing the Church's teaching on family life and now rejoice in the blessing of many children. The six children in the above photo are siblings (Mom behind them) and there are two more who were running around somewhere. Deacon Ryan to the right and, on the extreme right, seminarian Brad.

Bishop Sample answering the questions from young people, e.g. 'Who is on the diocesan Pastoral Council?' 'What's your vision for the Frassati Society?' 'What chance of having a Catholic High School in the diocese?' 'Why is Father John Boyle here?' The Bishop spoke about his own experience of growing up as a young Catholic and his hope that young people would receive and bear joyful witness to the fullness of the Catholic faith.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day for Life in England & Wales - where does the money go?

Zenit reported on 22nd July on the Day for Life that is observed by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales on the last Sunday of every July, this year this coming Sunday 25th.

Where does the money raised in the Day for Life collections that are taken in parishes go?

Zenit reports that City Pregnancy Counseling Psychotherapy has received £10,000 from previous Day for Life collections. A search on the Internet reveals that City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy is a non-values based organisation that puts the woman first, so that she can get to the place she'd like to be. Mmm. I think I can guess what that means, but I am prepared to be corrected. On its 'Women' page it lists various organisations that can be approached for further assistance, including the very praiseworthy charity LIFE. However, there are the following very dubious organisations:
  • NHS Choice The NHS is a leading abortion provider that subcontracts its abortion work to Marie Stopes International.
  • British Infertility Counselling Association. The BICA, based in Harley Street, clearly points people in the direction of infertility treatment and is involved with the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority). It seems to me that it is fully involved in licensed fertility treatment centres and is therefore part of the pro-IVF establishment.
  • Sure Start. (The link of BICA's website doesn't work.) Sure Start is very much involved in promoting contraception and early sex education through its Speakeasy programme which is run by FPA, another leading pro-abortion and contraception agency.
I'm sure I could go on researching.

We read at Zenit:
The City Pregnancy Counseling Psychotherapy, which reaches out to men, women and couples who are faced with a crisis pregnancy, pregnancy loss and infertility, was given £10,000 ($15,282).

Workers at this organization in London expressed gratitude for the grant, and noted that since it was set up in September, 2008, it has received 1893 client contacts.

The counseling center counts on the services of 14 therapists who give of their time for free. Thus, the grant will go primarily toward the operation costs and rent for the premises in the center of London.

I'm sure it's not actually the Bishops of England and Wales who make the decisions about where funding goes so I won't be critical of them. But someone in Eccleston Square makes these decisions and I don't understand why an organisation such as City Pregnancy Counselling and Psychotherapy should receive £10,000 from the collections taken in Catholic parishes up and down England and Wales towards their rental and operation costs. Could not this money be spent more directly in the struggle to save the lives of unborn babies by helping organisations that try to offer women a real alternative to abortion, help women in crisis pregnancies to keep their babies, finance counsellors at parish level, or fund pro-life/pro-chastity educational programmes? Maybe even some good advertising to compete with the Marie Stopes TV commercial.

Zenit also reports:
Another £50,000 ($76,400) went to fund ethical stem cell research. One of the researchers, Neil Scolding of the University of Bristol Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, said, "We are absolutely delighted with this splendid contribution to our bone marrow stem cell research program relating to multiple sclerosis."

"Not only is it an extremely substantial help in funding our work, but an inspiring expression of confidence and optimism in what we are doing," he said.

The researcher affirmed that "this major donation will accelerate our work, and we are extremely grateful to the bishops' conference, and to churchgoers throughout the United Kingdom for their great generosity."
Now, I daresay that this research is valuable and good. But, again, why should people's money go to fund this research when this money could be used directly to save lives, to help women avoid the tragedy of abortion?

Speaking of this year's collection the website of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales states:
In England and Wales, collections will be held in parishes on the Day for Life 2010. The proceeds of these collections will be used to provide core funding for the Anscombe Bioethics Centre (formerly the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics) and to cover the costs of the materials for this year’s Day for Life. In addition, grants will be made to support Catholic charities working in fields connected with this year's theme.
Do organisations such as City Pregnancy and Counselling Psychotherapy count as 'Catholic Charities'? I'm just an ordinary Catholic, albeit a priest, with no insight into the reasons behind these decisions. But am I the only one who doubts whether the money that is collected from Catholics on the Day for Life is really used for the purposes intended by Pope John Paul II when he asked for the annual observance of a Day for Life in every country? I know there are many aspects to Life that need to be treated, but just look at the counter in the sidebar of this blog to see how many abortions have occurred in the time it has taken you to read this post.

See also the Day for Life site for further information about this year's theme.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

St Lawrence of Brindisi on the Incarnation

Found this quote at the American Catholic Saint of the Day page for today, Optional Memorial of St Lawrence of Brindisi:

"God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for his own sake. For him all things were created and to him all things must be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have been the case even if Adam had not sinned." (St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Universal Church, Capuchin Educational Conference, Washington, D.C.).
This quote clearly demonstrates St Lawrence's adherence to the school of his fellow Franciscan, Duns Scotus, a position to which Faith Movement adheres and which I certainly subscribe to. St Lawrence is a Doctor of the Church.

Father Jacques Marquette

I took a little walk yesterday evening and found this memorial to the man after whom this town is named.

It looks like some vandals have knocked off Fr Marquette's head and right hand in the above relief at the base of the statue. Here he is preaching to the native people.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Five Favourite Prayers

I hate being tagged - and have never responded to this sort of game before. Humbug and all that. Anyway, I thought I'd enter into the spirit of things and give you my five favourite prayers. (I notice I'm the only male amongst the list of tagees.)

The rules, (from Mac) which need to be posted: "Name your three most favorite prayers, and explain why they're your favorites. Then tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme... The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I'm more interested in people's favorite devotional prayers."

I just realised on re-reading the rules that it's only three prayers that are requested. Well, I've already put five.

Some I learnt when I was still a little child from my mother and which I still say every night:
I lay my body down to sleep.
I pray to God my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake
I pray to God my soul to take.

O Eternal Father
I offer you the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
in atonement for my sins,
for the wants of Holy Church,
and for the souls in Purgatory.
I must die,
I do not when, or where, or how,
but if I die in mortal sin
I'm lost forever.
Lord Jesus, receive my soul.

God guide my steps
and teach me to do right.
Lord for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray.
Keep me my God from stain of sin
just for tonight(day).

A prayer composed bythe Southwark diocesan Laity Commission and which I also say every night:
Heavenly Father
grant that our priests be strengthened and healed
by the Eucharist the celebrate.
We pray that all those whom they seek to serve
may see in them the love and care of Jesus,
our Eternal High Priest,
who is Lord
for ever and ever. Amen
Mary, Mother of the Church,
Look tenderly upon your sons, our priests.

St Francis' Prayer before the Crucifix
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out Your holy and true command. Amen.

And I'll tag
Owl of the Remove
Fr Michael Browne
Fr Ray Blake
Fr Dwight Longenecker

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bishop Baraga Cause - important step on the road to Beatification

This evening at St Peter's Cathedral, Marquette, the documentation and testimony of a miracle claimed to have occurred as a result of the intercession of Bishop Frederic Baraga, first Bishop of Marquette, was presented to the postulator of the cause, Dr Andrea Ambrosi, who had travelled to Marquette from Rome for the occasion.

The Bishop of Marquette, the Most Reverend Alexander Sample prepares to seal the case containing the documentary evidence of the miracle.

The Bishop applies his ring to seal the case containing the documentary evidence for the miracle.

Bishop Sample explains that he is wearing Bishop Baraga's Pectoral Cross.

  Consignment of the documents to the Postulator.


After the sealing and presentation of the documentation to the Postulator. In the picture some of the people who have had official roles in the process. From left to right: Dr Ambrosi's personal assistant; Bishop Sample's secretary Judy Jason who had the role of copier (transcriptionist); the Postulator Dr Ambrosi; medical expert Dr John G. Kublin; moderator of the Curia for the Marquette diocese and co-ordinator of the work of the tribunal investigating the miracle Fr Ronald Browne; Bishop Sample; Promotor of Justice Fr Ben Paris; Notary Elizabeth Delene.

 Bishop Sample concludes the ceremony with a blessing and the singing of the Salve Regina.

Afterwards I joined Bishop Sample, Father Browne Dr Ambrosi and his personal assistant for a meal. Dr Ambrosi is postulator of a number of causes, including Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Cardinal John Henry Newman who is to be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in England this coming September. Dr Ambrosi will of course be in Birmingham for the event. So here I am with the Postulator of Newman's cause of beatification.

You can find further information on the cause of Bishop Baraga here.

Audrey Hook RIP

Of your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of Audrey Hook (pictured on the right of the photo with her daughter Shirley at the 2008 International Mass on Pentecost Sunday) from my previous parish of St Simon Stock, South Ashford. At Mass as normal last Sunday, she had been taken into hospital during the week but died this afternoon. She would have celebrated her 78th birthday next month.

Audrey was a most faithful and loved parishioner. May the Lord grant her an eternal reward of everlasting light, happiness and peace.

You are a testimony that brings hope and imbues us with encouragement - Papal Delegate to Legionaries of Christ

Archbishop Velasio de Paolis spoke these words during a homily at Mass last Saturday at the Legionaries of Christ's Center for Higher Studies in Rome.
Your presence is a witness to a reality that goes beyond us: it is your vocation, with which you celebrate this Eucharist today. You received the vocation of being members of this congregation from the Lord. The Lord raised up this vocation within you and has accompanied you until today, and the works of the Lord-as we know-are never left incomplete. St Paul tells us, "He who began his work in you will bring it to completion."
Full homily at Zenit.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Abuse of Minors. The Church's Response

Further to my previous post on the topic, I think the Vatican has gone out of its way to put into the public domain in an easily accessible format all the documents concerning this sad affair. Not only are all the canonical documents readily accessible, but all relevant pontifical comments on the matter.

The media now have easy access to all the documents to enable them to honestly assess the Church's response. Even the previously secret Crimen sollicitationis is available in an unofficial (most unusual for the Vatican) English translation.

I hope other bloggers and commentators will now stop barracking the Vatican. Of course, the Vatican presents this resource without spin and the media love spin.

Youth Liturgy needs to do a 180 degree turn

Thanks to Fr Finigan's Hermeneutic of Continuity blog for carrying this item concerning an interview given by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera (Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the dicastery that oversees liturgical matters in the Church) to the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on the occasion of the third anniversary of the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Fr Finigan quotes the following words concerning the participation of young people at the Liturgy, which could very well apply to so-called youth Masses, Life Teen liturgies, etc:
We need a new introduction to Christianity. Also for children and young people. An introduction to the liturgy does not only mean to know something about the celebration, although of course that is indispensable both theologically and doctrinally. Young people and children should participate in liturgies celebrated with great dignity, which are entirely permeated by the mystery of God in which the individual konws himself to be included. Active participation does not mean to do something, but to enter into the worship and the silence, into listening and also the prayer of petition and all that which really constitutes the liturgy. As long as that does not happen, there will be no liturgical renewal. We have to turn around one hundred eighty degrees. Youth ministry should be a place where the encounter with the living Christ in the Church takes place . Where Jesus Christ appears as someone of yesterday, neither liturgical education nor active participation is possible. As long as the awareness of the living Christ does not awake again, nothing will come of the much-needed renewal.

To turn 180 degrees means to go in the opposite direction to which one has been travelling. It means to stop going in the wrong direction, further and further away from our tradition and authentic liturgy, and to return to a renewed understanding and experience of the transcendent in the liturgy. Noisy guitars and drums, I'm sorry, do not help one pray the Mass.

My experience has been that introducing children at a young age to the beauty of chant gives them a sense of 'awe and reverence' at Mass. The use of incense, candles, processions also enhances this. Oh, and altar rails provide a clear sense that there is a part of the Church - quite rightly called the Sanctuary - which is more sacred than the rest by reason of the Sacrifice that is offered there and the liturgical actions that are performed there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vatican issues new norms of Grave Delicts

Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued new norms, approved by the Holy Father on 21st May 2010, concerning clerics guilty of grave delicts concerning Faith, Sacraments (Eucharist, Penance, attempted ordination of women), and Morals.

It is these latter, delicts against morals, that the public is clearly most concerned about. And the statements from the Vatican do not fail to address this concern.

The statement from Father Federico Lombardi deals primarily with this aspect of the new norms:
The serious crimes to which the (previous 2001) regulations referred concerned vital aspects of Church life: the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance, but also sexual abuse committed by a priest against a minor under the age of eighteen.

The vast public echo this latter kind of crime has had over recent years has attracted great attention and generated intense debate on the norms and procedures applied by the Church to judge and punish such acts.

It is right, then, that there should be complete clarity concerning the regulations currently in force in this field, and that these regulations be presented organically so as to facilitate the work of the people who deal with these matters.

An initial clarification - especially for use by the media - was provided recently with the publication on the Holy See website of a brief "Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations". The publication of the new Norms is, however, quite a different thing, providing us with an official and updated legal text which is valid for the whole Church.

In order to facilitate the reading of the Norms by a non-specialist public, particularly interested in the problems of sexual abuse, we will seek to highlight a number of important aspects:

Among the novelties introduced with respect to the earlier Norms, mention must be made, above all, of measures intended to accelerate procedures, such as the possibility of not following the "judicial process" but proceeding by "extrajudicial decree", or that of presenting (in particular circumstances) the most serious cases to the Holy Father with a view to dismissing the offender from the clerical state.

Another Norm intended to simplify earlier problems and to take account of the evolution of the situation in the Church concerns the possibility of having not only priests but also lay persons as members of the tribunal staff, or as lawyers or prosecutors. Likewise, in order to undertake these functions it is no longer strictly necessary to have a doctorate in canon law, but the required competency can also be proved in another way; for example, with a licentiate.

Another aspect worthy of note is the increase of the statute of limitations from ten years to twenty years, with the possibility of extension even beyond that period.

Another significant aspect is establishing parity between the abuse of mentally disabled people and that of minors, and the introduction of a new category: paedophile pornography. This is defined as: "the acquisition, possession or disclosure" by a member of the clergy, "in any way and by any means, of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen".

Regulations concerning the secrecy of trials are maintained, in order to safeguard the dignity of all the people involved.

One point that remains untouched, though it has often been the subject of discussion in recent times, concerns collaboration with the civil authorities. It must be borne in mind that the Norms being published today are part of the penal code of canon law, which is complete in itself and entirely distinct from the law of States.

On this subject, however, it is important to take note of the "Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations", as published on the Holy See website. In that Guide, the phrase "Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed" is contained in the section dedicated to "Preliminary Procedures". This means that in the practice suggested by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith it is necessary to comply with the requirements of law in the various countries, and to do so in good time, not during or subsequent to the canonical trial.

Today's publication of the Norms makes a great contribution to the clarity and certainty of law in this field; a field in which the Church is today strongly committed to proceeding with rigour and transparency so as to respond fully to the just expectations of moral coherence and evangelical sanctity nourished by the faithful and by public opinion, and which the Holy Father has constantly reiterated.

Of course, many other measures and initiatives are required from the various ecclesiastical bodies. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is currently examining how to help the bishops of the world formulate and develop, coherently and effectively, the indications and guidelines necessary to face the problems of the sexual abuse of minors, either by members of the clergy or within the environment of activities and institutions connected with the Church, bearing in mind the situation and the problems of the societies in which they operate.

This will be another crucial step on the Church's journey as she translates into permanent practice and continuous awareness the fruits of the teachings and ideas that have matured over the course of the painful events of the "crisis" engendered by sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

The reason I have highlighed so prominently certain phrases in the above extract is that I feel that a very prominent British blogger has been rather unfairly damning of the Vatican's PR machine. It has its faults, but I think it behoves journalists to read the statements. Of course the latest document deals with other grave delicts  and to that extent the new document can be considered a tidying up of law on different matters which are grave delicts. But the statement by Lombardi clearly shows that the Church is aware of the public's overriding concern with the sexual abuse scandal.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's (CDF)  Historical Introduction to the previous norms of 2001 gives an interesting and critical analysis of the problems that occurred in the period between 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council concluded, and 1983, the year when the new Code of Canon Law came into effect (my emphases):

The reforms proposed by the Second Vatican Council required a reform of the 1917 Code of Canon Law and of the Roman Curia. The period between 1965 and 1983 (the year when the new Latin Code of Canon Law appeared) was marked by differing trends in canonical scholarship as to the scope of canonical penal law and the need for a de-centralized approach to cases with emphasis on the authority and discretion of the local bishops. A “pastoral attitude” to misconduct was preferred and canonical processes were thought by some to be anachronistic. A “therapeutic model” often prevailed in dealing with clerical misconduct. The bishop was expected to “heal” rather than “punish”. An overoptimistic idea of the benefits of psychological therapy guided many decisions concerning diocesan or religious personnel, sometimes without adequate regard for the possibility of recidivism.
It is to be hoped that these very stringent norms will enable any future cases of alleged offence to be dealt with justly and efficiently and that they may be the deterent that, sadly, may be required by some clerics to keep them, given the fallen human condition of mankind, from straying onto the path of immoral behaviour.

The website of the Canon Law Society of America gives links to the full suite of documents issued today.

The Farewell party

Further to my July 4th post, here's the photo taken by the Kentish Express photographer. He came rather early. Many more people came as the eveniung progressed so the above photo shows just some of the people who came along.

Some of the staff at St Peter's

On Tuesday I attended my first 'staff' meeting, regular meetings of those who are involved in ministry here in the parish. Afterwards we went out for a bite to eat at the Union Grill on 1651 S. Front Street. In the photo:

Martha (our cook and housekeeper), Father Dan Moll (who will be going to Rome in August to commence three years of study in Canon Law),
members of the Religious Education team: Jenny Lochner (Middle School Coordinator), Dustin Katona (Life Teen), Katie Flaherty (Faith Formation Coordinator),
Lynn Bertucci (Parish Secretary), Father Michael Steber (Pastor).

Some of the people I have the pleasure of getting to know and work with.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

'Growing Up': do you think it should be shown in primary schools

'Growing up - guide to puberty' is a DVD resource used in certain Catholic Primary Schools that I know of. You can download and check the User Guide at (Well, you could until recently, but it seems the link is not working just now.) I have pasted the link in full so that you can see that it is clearly a 'sex education' resource.

ADVISORY:You'll have to scroll down past some pretty disgusting stuff to find this particular DVD. Some time ago I asked a parent (not a parishioner or former parishioner) to take a look and she said her browser blocked it as unsuitable for family access, quite understandably. So you might need to temperorarily disable your safe family settings.

Clicking the 'more info' link on the single copy advert leads to a pop-up window which states:
GROWING UP a guide to puberty DVD Ref: 0097D
The film describes the changes happening to a child's body as he/she approaches and enters adolescence, dealing with both the physical and emotional aspects involved. Topics covered include:- Puberty, Changing Emotions, Social Expectations, Masturbation, Wet Dreams, Circumcision, Menstruation, Management of Periods and Hygiene. "the Bounty video 'Growing Up: A Guide to Puberty' widely used up and down the country and often thought of as being ideal to help plan and deliver SRE within primary school' Chris Mayer Editor of RCN School Nurse Forum Newsletter 2003.
Audience 8 - 12 yrs
Notes (updated 2003)
I attended a viewing of this DVD with some parents some time ago. Whilst some parents expressed some uneasiness, none wanted to withdraw their children from the presentations, which would be given by school nurses, for fear of disadvantaging their children. A couple who have experience of raising a large family were very much opposed to it.

The film is animated. But do you think this should be shown to 10 and 11 year old boys and girls, bearing in mind it:
  • contains detailed description and images of the female genitalia;
  • invites girls to inspect their genitalia with the use of mirrors;
  • shows an image of an erect boy's penis.

The 'Users Guide' (there appears to be something wrong with the link given on the website just now so you cannot get to read it at present) is for use at the discretion of the presenter. But to illustrate the philosophy of the producers, let me tell you a few things it states:
  • ‘young people … discover the pleasure of their genitals’;
  • ‘sexuality is not only about reproduction, it is about pleasure’;
  • ‘it is normal to masturbate’;
  • neither masturbation nor ‘touching and caressing the genitals… will do any harm’.

The 'Users Guide' contains a list of helpful organisations and websites. Yes, you've guessed it, they are:
  • the sexual health charity FPA
  • Brook Advisory which provides free and confidential sexual health advice and contraception to young people.

Amongst the suggested reading books for the children are books which clearly propagate a view of sexuality at odds with the Catholic Church’s teaching.

I appreciate that you might not have had the opportunity to view the DVD, but I'd be interested in learning what you think about the presentation of this DVD to primary school children. as I sometimes wonder whether I am just being an old fuddy duddy in having concerns about this. Depending on your comments, I'll put up a further interesting post on this matter.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 - 1680)

Today the American Church celebrates its first Native American beata. The Gospel of today's Mass reads:
'I bless you, Father, Lord or heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.' (Mt 11:25 - Jerusalem Bible)
These words could not be more appropriate for today's commemoration. Here are some details about Blessed Kateri from
The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf were tomahawked by Iroquois warriors, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (Jesuit missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.


We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and alms: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.


Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”

When I came to Marquette last summer, my brother and I visited the church dedicated to Blessed Kateri in Bay Mills which is in a Native American (Indian) reservation and met the pastor Father Theodore.

Yours truly, Father Theodore and Father George Vaniyapurackal, a priest friend from India who is working here in the Marquette diocese. When he introduced himself to a parishioner and said 'I'm Indian' the parishioner said: 'I'm and Indian too!'

Statue of Blessed Kateri inside the church.

Relic of Blessed Kateri.

The church.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New blog from Stuart McCullogh

Stuart and his wife run Good Counsel Network. He's recently started blogging under the name Ecumenical Diablog. with some great posts: Bishop McMahon of Brentwood leading a pro-life prayer vigil, why one shouldn't buy The Tablet, etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Sunday in Marquette

Greetings from Marquette. On this my first Sunday everyone is being given the opportunity to meet their new 'Associate Pastor'. The parish is extremely welcoming and after all Masses there are drinks (beverages in American) and a chance to chat. I have been bombarded with so many names that I'll probably have only begun to start learning them by the time it is time for me to leave. Of course, many just love my English accent, and claiming connections with England. I have met someone from Essex, and others with connections with Mansfield, Cornwall, Preston to name but a few.

Sorry I have no pics of me with parishioners, but here's the homily I gave this morning.

Maybe I should begin by introducing myself and saying why I am here in Marquette. Why have I come to this part of the world which is certainly very beautiful in the summer but which I have been warned is so cold in winter?

I’ve been a priest for 13 years, the first four of which were at the Cathedral of my archdiocese of Southwark which comprises that part of London which is south of the River Thames and the whole of the county of Kent. For the last 9+ years, I was pastor of a parish in Ashford, Kent. It was not without its challenges but, thanks be to God, it was a time of many blessings and I was able to rejoice in the spiritual growth of many people in the parish and in the reconciliation of many with the Church after having been away. My special joy was to share the lives, the joys and the sorrows, of many lovely families. However, I discerned that it was time to ‘move on’. Rather than immediately become pastor of another parish I thought it might be better to have an opportunity to review and renew my priestly life and ministry by being in another local Church. Whilst visiting Bishop Sample last summer, I asked whether a sabbatical year in his diocese might be a possibility and he immediately responded affirmatively. So, here I am. Bishop Sample and I were classmates in Rome and so I am privileged to count him as a friend. I hope I don’t say or do anything in my time here in Marquette to ruin that friendship!

When I tell people I am a Canon Lawyer, the expression ‘Oh no!’ is not unusual. For perhaps they perceive laws to be somewhat incompatible with the ‘new commandment’ of love that the Lord proclaimed. And we hear something about law in today’s scripture readings. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people to ‘heed the voice of the Lord … and keep his commandments … that are written in the book of the law.’ But he also says that this law is also contained somewhere else: ‘in your mouths and in your hearts.’ And yet how often we find God’s law difficult to discern, hear, obey and proclaim.

It is an expert in the law who tries to test Jesus in today’s Gospel. But Jesus tells him that it is in the very law in which he is an expert that the key to eternal life is to be found and he gets the lawyer to summarise for himself, in quoting from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the law to love the Lord God will all one’s heart, being, strength and mind, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. But this expert in the law appears not to understand a key point of the law. He thinks he knows what loving God is about, but does not know who his neighbour is. Here we see how this law which is not distant from us, which is in our hearts, is not always easy for us to discern as our minds and our wills are wounded by sin: the original sin of our first parents, and our own personal sins.

We are like that man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jerusalem is the house of peace, the place of worship where God’s temple is to be found. The plain of Jericho on the other hand is waste and desolate, its climate hot and unhealthy. The man in our Good Samaritan parable was travelling from the city of the temple and health to the city where the conditions for a healthy life are not so good. He was travelling from the city perched on Mount Zion downhill to a city 1200 feet below sea level. He was descending rather than ascending. He was sliding away from God, and became vulnerable to spiritual attacks symbolised by the encounter with the robbers who stripped him of his true dignity as a man made to dwell in the city of God, stripped him of the splendour of supernatural grace, left him beaten and half dead, wounded in the core of his nature. Pope Benedict in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ says that ‘The road from Jerusalem to Jericho thus turns out to be an image of human history (and) the half-dead man lying by the side of it is an image of humanity.’

We can think how mankind turns from God and seeks himself: indulging his ego; allowing passions to be uncontrolled; craving after riches, the esteem of others, wealth, even physical fitness to the excess of obsession; always wanting to be ‘on top’. Mankind does not find his true dignity in these things. And so beaten up mankind needs a neighbour to heal him. This healing cannot come from within human history alone but it is an outsider, a foreigner who makes Himself neighbour to wounded mankind. It is Jesus Christ, foreign and distant, who sets out to take care of him, to offer him the soothing oil and cleansing wine of the sacraments, bringing him to the inn of the Church, the Church which is precisely present by those highways of the earth on which man is travelling away from God and attacked by evil so that men and women may be brought in and healed and restored.

It is Jesus who is our Good Samaritan who makes Himself our neighbour. It is He who promises to pay whatever it costs – by His saving Passion and Death – to restore mankind to the full glory of supernatural life and divine sonship. The healing oil and cleansing wine will be administered in the inn which is the Church until the end of time when our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ, will return.

The fundamental law of the Church is mercy. And the lawyer recognised that it was the merciful Samaritan who showed himself a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers. The conclusion that the lawyer must draw is to ‘Go and do likewise.’ And we must do so too: showing compassion to all, whoever they might be, and helping all who are in any physical need; but also by being neighbours to those who are far from God, who have forgotten their great dignity as creatures created in God’s image, or who are sliding away from God down the path of dissoluteness, so that we might draw them towards the healing and cleansing power of the sacraments and to worship in the communion and fellowship of all the saints in God’s Church.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Laity sometimes know more than theologians says Pope Benedict

Particularly during my time at St Simon's South Ashford, I learnt to learn from the faith of the Faithful.

They taught me love for the Divine Mercy which led me to facilitate their requests for the weekly public celebration of the Chaplet with a period of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and to lead it myself. This enriched greatly my own spiritual life.

The commitment of some parishioners to a Legion of Mary prayer group and their perseverance in meeting in spite of the apparent lack of fruit was a time of rich sowing. Now they have started visiting families to say the Rosary, and the families have themselves asked to meet with other families in the church for Rosary. Last Monday, the evening before my departure, I was overjoyed to see a lovely group of families and young children who had gathered at church for this. This led all the more to the sadness I felt on leaving. But on the other hand I rejoiced to see this wonderful example of the lay apostolate.

It was also from lay people that I acquired a love for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which I now celebrate as occasion provides.

These are just a few examples.

Pope Benedict spoke today about how Blessed Duns Scotus found the way to overcome the objections that theologians had to the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, even though the faithful had no problem accepting this teaching.

Zenit today informs us:

Regarding Scotus' pivotal role in understanding the Immaculate Conception, the Pope said this: "In Duns Scotus' times, the majority of theologians offered an objection that seemed insurmountable to the doctrine that Most Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first instant of her conception. In fact, the universality of the redemption wrought by Christ, at first glance, might seem compromised by such an affirmation, as if Mary had no need of Christ and of his redemption. Because of this theologians were opposed to this thesis."

The Pontiff recounted how Scotus developed an argument that Pope Pius IX would go on to use in 1854 when he solemnly defined the dogma.

"And this argument," Benedict XVI said, "is that of the 'preventive redemption,' according to which the Immaculate Conception represents the masterpiece of the redemption wrought by Christ, because in fact the power of his love and of his mediation obtained that the Mother be preserved from original sin. Hence Mary is totally redeemed by Christ, but already before her conception."

The Holy Father said that:

"faith in the Immaculate Conception or in the bodily assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpret it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. Thus the People of God precede theologians and all this thanks to that supernatural 'sensus fidei,' namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith, with humility of heart and mind.

"In this sense, the People of God is 'magisterium that precedes,' and that later must be deepened and intellectually accepted by theology."

He expressed his hope that theologians will always be able to

"listen to this source of faith and have the humility and simplicity of little ones!"

I'm sure there will some smart-aleck who will extend this interpretation to posit a church that only proclaims doctrines/teachings that are accepted by the laity. So they will say that since Humanae Vitae has not been accepted by a large majority of Catholics, Pope Paul's teaching cannot be considered dogmatic. Or they will refer to Newman's teaching on conscience and twist it to putting the authority of conscience above that of the authentic magisterium of the Church. But any faithful Catholic will know that this is not what the Pope means. For another characteristic that marks out the "little ones" of the lay faithful is their instinctive trust and confidence in and faithfullness to the teachings of the Pope.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Today is my last Sunday in the parish. It became quite emotional as a group of Polish parishioners wanted to sing a song before the final blessing. The translation of the song that they provided was as follows:

The cassock

The poor cassock was enough for you
and the poor ordination too.
Because you knew who you are for God
and you knew God gave you.

You did not hear His words,
He did not knock on your doors.
However you come to Him:
He would give you His Cross among ways of life.
You knocked and stood by His doors.

Whatever Jesus could give you
apart from the difficult way.
Whatever He could say by way of greeting.
He knows very well how difficult His ways are
and mostly He talks about vocation.

You experienced lots of beautiful moments,
you said goodbye to your family house.
You knew you would never come back
and your life would be different from then.

If you want me to serve only your heart,
if you love me just a little,
lead me Jesus, lead me please, my unequalled friend.
In casual vocation's robe dress me.

The translation may not be perfect English but I hope you get the sense.

I did not preach today, handing over to the summer supply priest Father Peter (Piotr) Kaczmarek. But the Gospel was most appropriate for a final word to my parishioners. The Lord said that we should rejoice that our names are written in heaven. Our parish church, our celebration of the Liturgy, our life of community and communion with one another, needs to be experienced as a foretaste of heaven. Over the last few days, I have been praying very specially in this church that only God knows whether or not I shall visit again. Gradually it has become very beautiful.

Only last Monday, the lights were changed to provide a much needed improvement to the lighting, and yesterday a Divine Mercy image was placed upon the wall of the sanctuary. I had hoped to leave everything perfect. Father Peter and I were even up a tower scaffold replacing a spotlight yesterday! But the Lord designs things so that our pride does not become inflated: one of the new lights decided not to work today, so a new bulb will have to be purchased tomorrow to replace it.

Here are some pics of how the Church looks today, my final Sunday here:
A shot from directly in front of the sanctuary

From the storage loft at the back of the church

All I hope for is that parishioners find St Simon's a place of prayer.

Other farewells:
After lunch with the Bible Study group at a local pub.

A few drinks with the choir after a practice a couple of weeks ago.

There was, also, a fine farewell party a week ago last Friday to which a fantastic number of parishioners came. There's no need to share here anything of the evening except to say it was a lovely occasion to give thanks and rejoice in the Christian happiness that was clearly present. I am grateful to my parishioners for their most generous financial gesture which was presented in the form of a few cheques and many, many notes in a photograph album. I joked about all the photos of Her Majesty! I hope everyone understood I was referring to banknotes.

The above photo was taken by Maureen A.

I gather last Thursday's Kentish Express reported the farewell party but I have yet to see it. Will post it if someone gives me a copy.

I could also refer to the School farewell assembly also a week ago Friday. Each year group presented a song/drama/poem and huge cards with personal messages. All of them were moving, funny, touching.

Year 4 performed a drama of something I had told them a long time ago but which I was amazed that they should remember.

One day as a teenager I was returning home late from school on the London Underground. Almost alone on a station platform I was approached by three or so youths who demanded I give them my money. I replied, truthfully, that I didn't have any. They asked me to jump up and down and, when I did so, something in my pocket jangled. They asked me to empty my pockets and I revealed to them a small metal crucifix and my rosary beads. They were so surprised that they appeared to be stuck to the floor and so I made my getaway to the station office. I used this story to tell the children that Mary will always protect us. In school I have also run a 'rosary club'. So the children recited a rhyme about never forgetting my rosary and never forgetting to turn to Mary.

I am always amazed at what children will remember and come out with. We can learn so much from their innocence. Of course, we adults have the grave responsibility of nurturing the environment in which this seed sown in childhood can grow to maturity.

Could go on but will sign off for now. Hope to write a little more about this, and more serious subjects again soon.


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