Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Cardinals: Princes of a Higher Kingdom

As was widely reported, Pope Benedict created six new non-European cardinals on eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
New Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila wipes away tears after being
made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory
in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 24. (CNS)

The Pope concluded his homily last Sunday:
To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen.

Voice for Justice: a religious freedom blog from the UK

A new blog to counteract the Thought Control that is being perpetrated in the UK on such things as same sex "Marriage", Islam, etc.

The most recent post begins:
The Thought police … coming to a street near you

118 Tory MPs rebelling over the proposed legislation, now apparently being fast-tracked by David Cameron, to allow gay marriage! Whatever next? However hard our Prime Minister tries to pull religion – that is, Christianity - into line and tell us we’re out of step, he seems doomed to failure. And rightly so. Same sex marriage was conspicuously absent from the Tory manifesto leading up to the last election, and it is not, and never can be, the province of Government to try to redefine belief. Yet this is what same sex marriage will do, if it ever becomes law. In one fell swoop, it will attempt to rewrite the Biblical understanding of the nature of men and women, and of our relationship with each other, and with God.

This kind of loopy interventionism would seem increasingly to be becoming a hallmark of British life...

Year of Faith Tweets from English and Welsh Bishops Conference

Pioneering use of ‘twitter’ during the Year of Faith
A new way to teach the Catholic Faith and to encourage people to read the Bible is being piloted on the social networking tool, ‘Twitter’.
@YoFtweets is a daily service that is being provided by the Catholic Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, in partnership with Bible Society. Throughout the Year of Faith (11 October 2012 – 24 November 2013), followers will be led through the documents of the Second Vatican Council, with related extracts from the Bible being offered, as well as quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from some Saints.   
Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “This is the first time that the Department has been involved in a project to use Twitter to offer a scheme of catechetical material. We hope that, especially for very busy people, it will provide an easily accessible daily encouragement to grow in faith and to share it. Please do 'follow' and share it with your friends.”
Supported by the Bishops' Home Mission Desk, over 400 tweets have been prepared and, where possible, the material complements the liturgical seasons. Quotes in Lent, for example, are designed to help followers to prepare for Easter.
Bishop Conry added: “We hope that by reading the material on Twitter people might be inspired to read more of the documents, the Bible and the Catechism. The Twitter initiative is, we hope, a helpful starting point for people.”
The promotion of the tweets comes ahead of a second national initiative concerning Scripture which is called 'Bible Sunday' and falls on 9 December. For more information please see:  
To sign up for the Twitter resource follow: @YoFtweets and also see: 
Additional Year of Faith materials are available on: 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where to now?

There is a lot of angst among many in the Church about what to do now that President Obama has won a second term. Clearly the bishops' efforts (with the help of their priests and other collaborators) to draw attention to the intrinsic evils that formed part of the Democratic Party's policy platform did not convince a sufficient number of Catholics that they should vote for someone other than the President or Democratic candidates.

One article which demonstrates such angst is by George Weigel in the online version of FirstThings entitled: The Crisis of a Second Obama Administration.

Among other things Weigel calls for the withdrawal of the Church from the civil side of marriage.

The eminent and always concise and perceptive Dr Edward Peters has responded on his blog in a post entitled: Some first thoughts on Weigel’s call to reconsider civil consequences for Catholic weddings.

I entered a comment under the First Things article referred to above but, because of its length, I doubt it shall be published. So here it is.
I have to own up to echoing the opinion of an eminent canonist, and that is that clergy do not so much act as agents of the State. Rather, the State accords recognition to marriages celebrated in the presence of a duly authorized Church minister. If the State wishes to accord such recognition, why reject it? It is good for the couple and for society that the marriage receives such recognition.

As for celebrating marriages that would not receive recognition from the State (e.g. of those without legal papers), Canon Law prohibits this without the permission of the Local Ordinary. There are all sorts of reasons why the Local Ordinary might withhold permission, in which case there are ways and means for the couple themselves to celebrate the marriage without the intervention of a duly delegated minister (who, however, should be present but not intervening). Canonists will be familiar with Can. 1116. Non-canonists: beware. This canon requires careful interpretation. Such a marriage would be sacramental (if both baptized) but would not enjoy civil recognition. The couple would enjoy the Church's blessing upon their union and would, therefore, be able to receive Holy Communion, be godparents, etc. They would not, however, benefit from any state recognition.

All this goes to show that the Civil and Ecclesiastical are separate spheres. One offers civil benefits. The other offers spiritual goods. If both can work together, why tear them asunder?

I feel that the most urgent matter at hand is to deal with those Catholics in public life who promote intrinsic evils. Their diocesan bishops should issue them with the warnings that Canon Law foresees (precepts) and, should they fail to come into line, notify them that they fall under Canon 915. Further penalties can also be considered.

Then we must address the issues affecting the Church's proclamation of the Social Gospel including, but not limited to: the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, the care offered to the stranger (i.e. immigrants - has the Church lost Latinos as a result of this election campaign) and the poor.

A renewed catechesis to be offered to all Catholics who attend Mass, and a public campaign of information on the Church's teaching on various issues.

Homosexuality: However hard it might be, we also need to present our compassionate approach to those who experience same sex attraction, without compromising on the Divine Law concerning marriage and the purpose of human sexuality. We will, like Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, receive "bigot of the year" awards from organizations such as Stonewall, no doubt, but we might at least reach those with open hearts and minds.

I feel this political campaign has divided us so much. The Holy Spirit might show us some ways of healing these divisions.

We need also to recognize that there is a choice to be made: Christ or the World. We are in the world but not of it. Let the world go its way, if it insists. Let us be faithful to the Lord. If the State deprives us of our freedom, it does so unjustly. It will not be the first time Christians experience injustice. But nothing can deprive us of our inner freedom of conscience and will: even if we must withdraw from those areas that, traditionally, were the initiative of Christian missionaries: schools, hospitals, etc. Naturally, we should not do so without seeking to vindicate our rights before the civil courts. It is ridiculous for the State - on the pretext of the separation of the Church and State - to want to kick the Church out of these areas and institutions which were founded, in large part, by Catholic and other Christian missionaries. But if it does, so be it.

Oh, and if we lose tax exempt status, fine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Cemetery and Grave Blessings

On the first Sunday of November the parish processes after Mass to the nearby cemetery to pray for the dead and bless the graves of departed loved ones, all in accordance with the rite in the Book of Blessings. I'm sure there's one in the more traditional Rituale Romanum but I think it's worth the reminder that this is very much part of the current practice of the Church, at least in theory. However, all of my parishioners have said that they never experienced this before I introduced it last year. I hope this brief post assists in promoting the practice.

Further photos at the parish facebook page.


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