Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Life and Wisdom of St Benedict/19 - To console the sorrowing



In this series on St Benedict's tools of good works (Chapter 4 of his Rule) we come today to the last of this group that are loosely linked to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, namely, to console the sorrowing.

The Scriptural basis for this saying is Ecclesiasticus 7:38 (and alluded to in 1 Thess 5:14): "Be not wanting in comforting them that weep, and walk with them that mourn."

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Social justice and the bishops on families

Today's tool of good work from Chapter 4 of the Rule of St Benedict is in tribulatione subvenire, to help the afflicted.

It takes its inspiration from Isaiah 1:17, which says:

"learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow".

Social Justice Sunday: another fail for the Australian bishops!

A month or two back when the bishops announced that this year's Social Justice Sunday would be about families, I applauded them, as it seemed for once that we would get some focus on real issues at the forefront of the debate in today's society.  Issues such as the right of children to actually be born; of children to have both a father and a mother; the problem of divorce; caring for our aged often virtually abandoned by their families; and of the importance of traditional marriage.

The kind of things suggested in fact, by that quote from Isaiah above.

Sadly, those issues have been almost entirely omitted, and those that are mentioned get the most oblique  of references.  Instead, the actual Statement released for today is dominated by the usual Marxist-influenced tosh and the usual list of favourite issues, like refugees, Indigenous families and the like, trotted out.

Australia's work the longest hours in the world? Give me a break!

The first section of the statement is devoted to the claim that we are not devoting enough time to our families because we are all working too hard.  It repeats the myth that Australians work the longest hours in the world, and that the number of hours we work has been increasing since 1985.

In fact this claim has been comprehensively debunked by economists, and the latest ABS statistics actually show that the average hours worked each week in all jobs by employed people each week has been decreasing for the last thirty five years. 

On average, Australians in jobs worked an average of 33 hours a week in 2010, hardly a horror story!  And if you take into account factors such as our yearly average of 9.3 days worth of sickies each, relatively long annual vacations, long service leave in many professions, early retirement and our relatively low retirement age, then Australia is a leisured country indeed.  So if we aren't spending time together as a family, don't blame work!

Housing poor and consumerism

The second section of the Statement is a diatribe about consumerism, the trend towards McMansions (ever larger homes), and the proportion of the middle class who spend far too much on their houses relative to their income.

There is something in this, but the Statement fails to mention the real factors driving the treatment of a house as a financial asset rather than just a place to live in for many Australians, and that is the fact that the family home is exempt from the assets test for the aged pension (and gets preferential treament in several other ways). 

Although superannuation savings are growing, most Australians continue to be reliant on the pension in their old age, and owning a home makes it financially viable.  Owning a substantial asset (which you borrow against, and not be compelled to sell even to pay for your nursing home costs!) makes all those overseas trips possible.

If you want to drive greater equity in this country (and it indeed a country where the rich are very rich indeed relative to the rest of us), changes to the pension and tax system, including the introduction a wealth/inheritance tax is what is needed!

Indigenous families

The statement also contains the predictable diatribe against the Northern Territory Intervention. 

Unfortunately, it just gets it wrong:

"‘Income management’, for example, is sometimes successful in ensuring that social security income is spent on essentials such as food and clothing, [true] but it can also cause harm to the dignity and self-respect of those parents who have worked heroically to feed, support and educate their families."[Wrong.  Income management only applies to income support payments from Government, not to those who earn money themselves.  Although in fact a number of communities have asked that it be extended to those in paid employment in order to protect those earning an income from the practice of 'humbugging', or demanding money/food etc from those that have earnt it...]

A genuine concern for Social Justice in Indigenous families would surely see the Church supporting efforts to protect children and ensure they actually get fed, and to generate jobs in the Northern Territory rather than just engaging in ideologically driven rhetoric about self-determination.

Two statements?

Curiously, the back of today's Social Justice Statement almost reads like a different document (presumably inserted at the insistence of the more conservative faction of our bishops?) and deals with issues that St Benedict would have recognised, such as the importance of the sabbath, concern for the poor, and love of neighbour.

Yet what is noticeably lacking in the whole document is any serious focus on the family as a means of getting us to heaven: of the right of children to spiritual formation; and of the relationship between spouses to this end.  It is spiritual poverty that is surely the biggest crisis in our nation, and the real underlying cause of all the social and economic issues identified in the Statement.

St Benedict saw the monastery as a family engaged in the mutual support of its members to grow in holiness through the practice of charity.  Our love of neighbour should be the natural consequence of our love of God.  But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this life is but a short interval in the face of eternity. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Coming clean about child abuse in Victoria

The Victorian bishops have made a submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, apparently lodged today, on the last day of the extended Submission period.

It's called Facing the Truth.

'Fessing up at last...

Based on the media release at any rate (the Submission itself won't be available until the Inquiry put it up on their website) this really is a big step forward in terms of transparency and accountability.

According to the media releases, the Submission acknowledges past failures, and provides detailed statistics.  That is good to hear.

Mind you, given the appalling size of the problem revealed - some 620 cases upheld in the last sixteen years - being brutally honest was the only sensible strategy.

Unsurprisingly, the cases mainly date from the 1960s through the 1980s.  And according to the ABC, most of the cases came from Ballarat and Mortlake (regional Victoria), and Oakleigh and Rupertswood.

Please keep all involved in your prayers.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Five years after SP: the traditionalist problem

I wanted to round off my series marking the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum with a few general observations.

First a thank you.  A number of people (though some surprising gaps, particularly given the number of readers this blog has) submitted comments on their own communities.  And quite a number of people shared their own stories, reactions and intell offline.  There are good reasons why some are reluctant to comment online at times, but that doesn't mean posts aren't doing their job!

Secondly, the challenge. The first point to make is that on the face of it, traditionalism has made few if any real gains in Australia over the past few years, and if anything is going backwards.  The change in Church law that should have rendered antagonism from bishops irrelevant has not in fact had the desired effect, as dioceses such as Maitland-Newcastle, where no Latin Masses occur, illustrate.  A number of communities have either ceased to exist altogether due to the death or shortage of priests willing to offer the EF Mass.  Others (including Canberra) are shrinking in size, not growing.

And thirdly, the new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Archbishop Muller, apparently sees the increasing polarization between traditionalists and liberals as a threat to church unity.  Well yes, but there is a very simple solution indeed to this!

Learning from the past: transparency and accountability

One of the key issues in the Church today, in my view, is transparency and accountability.

Though we are traditionalists, we need to keep in mind that the Tradition didn't begin or end with the Council of Trent.  The pastoral prescriptions of Trent are just that: pastoral prescriptions that were a response to the particular times.

And the times we are in now, in my view, demand something more akin to that which prevailed through most of the earlier life of the Church (and much of the subsequent), which might best be described as one of, to use Pope Benedict's term, co-responsibility.

Blogs like this are one contribution to that, but there are many other ways this can be achieved.

Many, if not mos,t of Australia's traditionalist communities started as lay-led communities.  As they've acquired permanent chaplains, many have perhaps not yet achieved a proper balance between the two possible extremes.

But I think one of the key learnings from the abuse crisis is that problems - and I'm not (just) talking about sexual abuse here, but the whole range of problems that can arise in human interaction within small groups including bullying, racism, cult-like behaviour, insistence on extremist positions (those who insist that one must wear the 'proper' colour of mantilla to your status being one of my particular favourites) -  flourish where no one speaks up because they think the problem is theirs alone, or because it is just easier to go with the flow, and above all because people are not provided proper space to engage.  There is a really excellent article on this subject in The Punch today in the context of child abuse (not in the Church on this occasion), but I think the lessons go much broader.

And they are particularly important in the context small enclaves like traditionalism.   Tracey Rowland has pointed out that it is easy for Catholic groups to become become disconnected from and irrelevant to the mainstream of the institution, and end up looking like that weird Star Wars bar (and she notes, marginalized subcultures frequently tend to attract people with psychological disorders, compounding the marginalization of the community through the association with dysfunctionality).

How do we avoid or address these problems and ensure that Summorum Pontificum becomes a more effective force for positive change in the Church?  Well I think in two ways.  First we need to engage more with each other.  And secondly we need to engage more with the wider Catholic community.

What would traditionalist unity look like?

Let me suggest a few things that would be indicative of traditionalist unity, or more properly, active engagement with each other and a concern for the growth of our community.  Some of them would be relatively simple to do; others are probably pipe-dreams in the current environment.

1.  Set up a national representative body for traditionalists

Like the UK Latin Mass SocietyUna Voce America, and the Ecclesia Dei Society of New Zealand (and many more such national bodies).

Hmm, didn't we have one of those once?

2. Links between community websites (and between communities!)

There are a number of EF communities that maintain websites or blogs.  But the only two, so far as I can see, that actually include links to the other Australian communities on the web.

And while there is still the extremely successful annual Christus Rex pilgrimage, there are few if any activities these days that involve actual co-operation between communities...

3. An up-to-date listing of all EF Masses in Australia

There are no up-to-date lists, and responses to my own invitation to tell us all about your mass were, to say the least, sparse.  Lots of people read this blog; very few comment (and yes I do reject a few, but not very many).

4.  Promotion of activities offered by other groups/communities. 

Assurance that all traditionalist activities (provided they are offered by organisations or individuals recognised by the Church), such as retreats and other special events, would be promoted in all communities.

5. Support for special initiatives

When people work to put on special events or other longer term initiatives that would advance tradition in this country, all would do their best to support them.  Two Sydney women are (I believe) doing a postulancy overseas at the moment with a view to establishing a community back here.  Was their call to other women who might be interested advertised in your (non-FSSP) community?

Engage with the wider Church

It is difficult to do I know.

Even conservative priests, for example, are typically coming from a very different place than traditionalists.

But if we don't build alliances between laity and clergy, if we don't attempt to attract other catholics - particularly those who have lapsed - to our communities, and to influence the wider Church, then the Australian Church will have no future.  We need to develop a missionary mentality and use the next five years more effectively.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Good news: same sex marriage bill voted down overwhelmingly!

The House of Representatives (lower house) of the Australian parliament has rejected same sex marriage, and by a decisive margin: 42 for, 98 against.

The Liberal Party did not give its members a conscience vote; Labor did.

You can find a list of who to vote against at the next election here.

EF Masses - the rest of Australia

Today something of a last round-up.

I've been alerted to a couple of extra masses of note.  And in the absence of any submissions from other communities, I'll simply include a list of the websites I know about.

Melbourne Russian Catholic

Several people have commented on Holy Trinity St. Nicholas Russian Catholic Church in Melbourne, led by Fr Lawrence Cross.

The Church celebrates The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in Church Slavonic and English.   They have also been trying to have Great Vespers twice a month in English, and hope to start having Saturday All Night Vigil (Vespers and Matins) very soon.

They use as much as possible the ancient Znameny Chant, and are trying to reconnect to the Pre Niconian Typicon, used in medieval Russia, containing many ancient and beautiful traditions now lost in the modern Russian Church.

Griffith Summorum Pontificum

I'm told a group in Griffith is getting established - they have a facebook page, but I couldn't see any details of when the Mass is held and so forth.  If someone would like to fill us in...

Perth and WA

How is the Perth Latin Mass Community faring under the new regime in the West? 

As I flagged in a previous post, Archbishop Hickey, adopted a 'Let a thousand flowers bloom' policy, and was willing to take risks and be innovative.  But I gather things are being tightened up under his successor, Archbishop Costelloe...

Sydney

Sydney's main Latin Mass community, Maternal Heart of Mary is run by the FSSP.  The community suffered a terrible blow with the serious accident of Fr Gresser, who has now left Sydney in order to recover.

The Fraternity also has an apostolate in the neighbouring Parramatta diocese, which you can read about at Mulgoa Latin Mass.

There are, I'm led to believe, other places where the TLM is said in Sydney, but when I last put out a call, no one claimed to be Reform of the Reform...

 Other regional mass communities include...

Bendigo has an Extraordinary Form Mass each Sunday at 11am, St Francis Xavier Church, Strickland Rd, East Bendigo.
Wagga Wagga Latin Mass

Hobart Latin Mass

Islamists and secularists: points for sheer gall!

There were two particularly appalling stories that appeared in the media yesterday that surely have to get points for sheer outrageous gall.

Murdering babies is ok if you call it 'selecting genes'!

The first appeared in The Punch with the headline "There's nothing nasty, or Nazi, about gene selection" - because apparently 'selecting genes' is somehow ok even if in fact, as the article makes clear, what you are actually talking about is selecting which babies will live, and which will be exterminated.

Here is a sample:

"The natural lottery of choosing genes from a couple has no mind to health, happiness, fulfilment or anything we value. It is a random process. It distributes dispositions to violence, psychopathy, altruism, fairness and so on randomly. We should use science and our values to select offspring – rational evolution. We can and should do better than chance. At very least, we should be free to try..."

"Should we decide what breed of humans to create? Some people believe that children are a gift, of God or Nature, and that we should not interfere in human nature. Most people implicitly reject this view – we already routinely screen embryos and foetuses for diseases."

"In the case of genetic selection, the children who come to exist as a result of selection could have been chosen by chance. And they have a reason to be grateful insofar as their lives are good. We should give chance a helping hand."

The author was Julian Savulescu is Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Monash University and Chair in Practical Ethics at University of Oxford.

Eureka Street: criticising homosexuality and rioting in the streets are on a par!

The other story was by Muslim apologist Irfan Yusuf and appeared in (surprise, surprise) Jesuit rag Eureka Street under the headline,"Who is the loudest and ugliest religious donkey"?

And it attempted to argue that those who pointed out the facts about the consequences of the homosexual lifestyle, argue against gay marriage, or make other stands on issues dear to Christians, are on a par to the ugly events of last weekend.  It also attacks those leaders of the Islamic community who apologised for the events.

Unfortunately, the forces at work in Australia are very far from being donkeys, despite the best efforts of those working within to subvert, obscure and persuade us otherwise.

Comments...

Folks, if you wish to comment on this blog, please actually read the previous post on comments.

In particular, you want your comment to be published stick to the topic in the post.

I'm not giving space to gratuitous insults, issues irrelevant to the post or outright grandstanding.  Particularly not to dissertations to the effect that you are not doing that!

If you want to discuss my comment publication policies, comment on the post on that subject.

If you wish to discuss why I've rejected your post and how to fix it, email me offline - even if you signed in with blogger I have no way of contacting you unless the profile specifically allows it.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The EF in Canberra...

I couldn't very well do this little series on the Extraordinary Form in Australia, without at least mentioning my home town of Canberra, so herewith.

And as it happens there are a number of Canberra news items I've been meaning to comment on of late, which have at least some tenuouus connection to the state of play here!

Pray for a good Archbishop?

This first thing to note is that Canberra-Goulburn diocese is currently without a bishop, following the translation to Brisbane of Archbishop Coleridge and the early 'retirement' of Auxiliary +Power.

So it was somewhat surprising to find in my email the other day an announcement that an Archdiocesan Assembly would be held in November with Bishop Comensoli, currently Auxiliary of Sydney, as speaker:

"An archdiocesan assembly with the theme Starting Afresh from Christ will be held on Saturday, 3 November, at Merici College, Braddon. Keynote speaker will be Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Peter Comensoli.  Prayer will be a major focus of the day, with opportunities to encounter Jesus and to recognise God’s grace in our lives..."

So how can you have a diocesan assembly in the absence of an actual bishop?

And assuming one is appointed in the next couple of months, surely they should have a say in what the theme and agenda is (never mind whether he actually wants to hold an Assembly at all!)?

Because personally, I was hoping we'd get a bishop who, if he did hold another assembly, would at least put a stop to the warm and fuzzy guitar strumming pseudo liturgy that we got served up at the last one!

But perhaps the announcement was just jumping the gun a little, and Bishop Comensoli...?

Elections

It is also election time in Canberra, and you can find in it to the candidates' views on key issues on this website.  And there are a couple of traditionalists entering the lists once more!  But please, if you want to comment on this sport, you might want to read this article on the need to identify yourself.  Unlike the Canberra Times, I'm not planning to subvert the law!

EF Community

Canberra has a small EF community, served by the Fraternity of St Peter.

You can find its website here.

It normally has a daily Mass, plus a low Mass on Sunday on the North side, and a sung Mass on the South side of town.

It does have a few social functions, including a 'family and community Sunday' each month, and a mother's group.

Soft-soaping the riots: how jihad advances

It has been interesting to watch how the media - and Islamic groups in this country - are reacting to the riots last weekend.

Error has no rights?

From the media there has been an air of disbelief about it all: several media stories have questioned how can those calling for respect for their own religion thing it appropriate at the same time to insult Christians for example.  So here is the thing secularists: many Muslims (as Catholics once did, albeit with a rather more moderate view of what the consequences of that position were!) believe that error has no rights!

Last week Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ offered one of those curious apologist works for the liberal-secularist perspective in Eureka Street, arguing that in a democracy religious freedom can be 'negotiated' on a case by case basis.

The problem with this is that it does actually require people to be willing to negotiate, and above all, willing to accept the rights of others.  And to date, neither the secularists nor Islam has shown the faintest sign of being willing to do this.

Let me give a few examples.  In Victoria, there is no conscience exemption in its child murder laws, which allow abortions virtually up to the time of birth in some circumstances, for health workers.

In countries where same sex marriage has been legalised, Christian organizations have been forced out of the foster care and adoption business because of the refusal to allow exemptions for them. 

In Canada  a religious minister is being forced out of the business of offering ceremonies for those having civil marriages 'on principle' by homosexual activists because she will not offer the same service to same sex couples.

'Good' Muslims helping?

The predictable response from the Muslim community has been a string of stories suggesting that the rioters represent a minority view, are unIslamic, and that the community are helping police, including to stop it from happening again.

It is certainly a positive that some (even if by no means all) Islamic organisations have condemned the violence and are apparently trying to help.

But the alarming part of the continuing reporting of this story is surely that many of those involved are 'familiar faces' to the intelligence community, as the ABC Reports:

"Meanwhile, police are also probing the faces of those involved in the weekend's violent protests and have found some alarming links to Islamic extremism.

Some protesters were wearing t-shirts with the words Sixth Pillar written on them, a reference to jihad.

Some believe it is a group that has been formed to promote the uprising, but NSW Police's Assistant Commissioner Nick Kaldas is not saying either way....

But some faces in the crowd do stand out to those with experience in intelligence and security, including Neil Fergus, the director of intelligence at the Sydney Olympics.

"Certainly a few individuals who are at the forefront of these terrible scenes are people who've been involved in peddling, propagating extremist views, supporting extremist causes," Mr Fergus said.

Some of those involved in the protest have connections to several terrorism-related cases in the past, including criminal proceedings brought in 2005 of a group of Muslim men accused of planning a terrorist attack.

Some go back even further.

"I recognised a couple of people from the footage who are people, back when we were preparing for the Sydney Olympics, a couple of these people were persons of interest then and had been involved - some of them - in some of the terrorist-related investigations which have taken place in Australia in the intervening 12 years."

Minority view?

And let's not lose sight of the fact that the views expressed by the groups involved in the riot (and there seem to have been more than one group involved) are not in fact, necessarily the views of a small minority. 

Rather, the views on blasphemy they are forcibly bringing to our attention represent the law of the land in many Islamic countries, as the string of appalling cases like the jailing, for several weeks of an intellectually handicapped young girl (and now released on bail!) for allegedly burning a Koran in Pakistan illustrate.

And while moderate Muslims might genuinely object to the violence, they don't hesitate to call Islamophobia at the faintest hint of criticism or legitimate action on the part of the authorities.

Consider for example the spate of stories that erupted last week after the terror raids in Victoria, where peple claimed they were being spied on because they were Muslims, or were fleeing from all that and couldn't possibly be associated with terror here...

The riots were no accident.  They were surely part of a deliberate campaign to intimidate anyone who might in any way criticise Islam, might object to the spread of sharia law and practices in our communities, and to inhibit the work of the authorities in policing extremism. 

And secularists, many of whom similarly take the view that hurt feelings are enough to warrant action against Christians, are helping them through the introduction of religious vilification laws and the like.

About bigger things?

The other line of defence has been that the rioters are in fact reacting to a string of bigger events, most especially the activities of the evil Empire, viz America.

That would be a whole lot more convincing if there hadn't been a string of such 'over-reactions' to cases of alleged blasphemy going back more than twenty years to Salman Rushdie.

Mind you, perhaps it is not entirely a coincidence that US embassies around the world, including in Jakarta, are under attack, just as a flotilla of forces gathers in the Strait of Hormuz in the face of the threat of war between Israel and Iran.

Oh and by the way, Iran has upped the bounty on Salman Rushdie again too.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Extraordinary Form in Wangaratta





Continuing my series on the Extraordinary Form in Australia (and please do keep sending in your comments and pitches for your community), today a look at Wangaratta.

A new diocese to the EF list...

Organising an EF community in the city is difficult enough.  Organising one in smaller rural and regional centres is surely much harder.

Wangaratta, however, is one of the few clear success stories of recent years, indeed I suspect it represents the only new every Sunday EF Mass added to the roster in Australia since Summorum Pontificum came into effect, that has actually survived, outside the cities that already had at least one mass there already.

And that is mostly due to the efforts of Marty Corboys (who it was nice to see at Mass in Canberra on the weekend, albeit briefly!) and friends, with the help of the excellent Fr Terence-Mary Naughtin OFM Conventual.

Summorum Pontificum Wangaratta

Summorum Pontificum Wangaratta is a lay-led society with a very nice blog, monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to and more.

And they have sent in this comment:

"The traditional Latin Mass is celebrated every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation at St. Patrick's Catholic Church Wangaratta.

Sunday Mass times are at 5pm while Holy Days of Obligation (in the traditional calendar) are at 5:30pm unless otherwise indicated.

Founded in 2006, Summorum Pontificum Wangaratta is a lay led organisation operating with the blessing of the Parish of St. Patrick's Wangaratta and the Sandhurst Diocese.

'SPWang' aims to provide the traditional liturgy of the Church to those who desire it under the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Propio, Summorum Pontificum and the instructional document, Universae Ecclesiae. Please bookmark our website to keep in touch with the latest information."

Why the abuse scandal is not a beat up. Warning: I cried at this story

There is another of those truly awful stories about the abuse scandal in The Sydney Morning Herald today, dealing with the case of a Catholic school principal who list his career over his efforts to stop a paedophile priest in the mid-1980s.

A tale of horrors

The story has several horrible dimensions.

First because it was a case where a single parish had six paedophile priests in a row.

Secondly because despite the fact that the priest was behaving dangerously on several fronts (he allegedly embezzled money, wandered around carrying a gun, had been prohibited from hearing the confessions of children a fact not passed on to those who needed to know, and for a period lived with a fourteen year old girl in the presbytery), not only was nothing done, it was the teachers who complained about him who were forced out of their jobs.

Thirdly, and this the part that made me cry, the priest in question actually abused children in the course of confession.

Fourthly because not only were the original incidents covered up, but the subsequent investigation was so protracted and delayed that the investigator felt guilty enough to pay the former principal involved some $90,000 of financial assistance out of his own pocket!

Finally, because justice has still not been done in this case.

Pockets of paedophilia and homosexuality

Some have pointed to the overall figures on the proportion of priests who abused children to suggest that the incidence is much lower in the Church than more generally in society.

Even if that proves to be true when all of the cases are truly known (the weekend media for example claims there were 500 abuse cases in Geelong alone), the problem is the networks of paedophiles who operated in particular locations.

Maitland-Newcastle has long been viewed as the worst diocese in Australia, with something close to 10% of its priests at the height of reported cases in the 70s and 80s implicated.  And it seems the dioceses past obsession with ecumenism may have had a practical dimension: the Anglican diocese and seminary seminary seems also to have been a nest of vipers.

Then there is the Sydney Christian Brothers School  which at one time seems to have employed three paedophile teachers, one of whom had previously been jailed for child sexual assault!

Systemic failure

Today's story is particularly horrific because all the warning signs were there:

"...Searson was the last in a line of six sexual abusers - some violent - who arrived in Doveton parish after it was created in 1962: the first four were parish priests at the Holy Family church, plus an assistant and a locum - a remarkable misfortune for a parish regarded as one of the most disadvantaged in Melbourne."

When a previous abusing priest was removed, the school principal asked for a suitably pastoral replacement.  Instead, this is what he got:

"GRAEME Sleeman knew Peter Searson was trouble even before Searson arrived as parish priest of Doveton in 1984. Searson liked to dress in military fatigues, often carried a revolver, and had a bad reputation when it came to money - and sexually abusing children.  The two locked horns immediately when Sleeman, principal of the Holy Family school, told the priest he knew of his reputation and would be watching him, and Searson replied that as priest he was the boss."

No surprise in all of this given the nature of the Melbourne Archdiocese at the time (though how much it has since improved is debatable given the legacy of its notoroious seminary).  The school principal, Mr Sleeman, had actually tried his vocation as a priest:

"Sleeman, a big man who played semi-professional football, started as a Salesian novitiate at the Rupertswood school in Sunbury, where several serial abusers were based.

He left the order but later, feeling he had unfinished business with the church, became a seminarian, lasting only nine months because he didn't "fit the tea party conception" of priesthood and was uneasy about the homosexual activity of other seminarians there.

He became a bush footballer and principal at St Mary's in Sale. He arrived at Doveton in 1982, parachuted in by the CEO as a trouble shooter "because the Presentation nuns had walked out that morning after upheavals with the parish priest".

Abuse in confession

The thing I find most horrifying about this whole story though is that the priest concerned could use the sacrament of confession to carry out his crimes:

"Their main battleground was bizarre: the sacred Catholic sacrament of confession, where Searson could get the children alone and unsupervised.

"I was concerned about his addiction to confession," Sleeman recalls.

"Sometimes he would get children to sit on his lap, or kneel between his legs." Later he would help a church investigation into two sexual assaults during confession.

...From the start, Sleeman made sure at least one teacher was in the church when Searson took children for confession. He did not know what Searson later conceded to a reporter, that the priest arrived from Sunbury banned from being alone with children in the confessional.

One day a teacher brought him a nine-year-old girl who had rushed sobbing from the confessional. More than a decade later, she received compensation from the archdiocese for a serious sexual assault. Another pupil, also later compensated, told her mother Searson had interfered with her. Carmel Rafferty says police told her Searson was brilliant at persuading parents not to make formal complaints.

..."Searson got great strength because he got away with it, and he upped the ante about taking kids to the confessional. So we put in place a whole lot of things to guard against him,'' Sleeman says. ''There were always at least two staff inside the church, and we put in place a timetable for confession, but he ignored it. If he saw my car wasn't there he'd rush over to the school and grab a group [of children]."

Please pray for all those involved.

Feast of Hildegard of Bingen, soon to be doctor of the Church


Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI formally canonised St Hildegard (though she has long been included in the Benedictine calendar and mentioned in the older version of the Roman Martyrology) and extended her feast to the universal Church, in preparation for her being declared a doctor of the Church next month.

Accordingly, in the Ordinary Form (as well as traditional Benedictine calendar), today is her feast day.

Saints and the life of the Church

She's my confirmation patron, so if you would, please say a prayer on my behalf today!

St Hildegard is a saint I discovered when studying medieval history at University many years ago, and at the time I couldn't understand why she was so little known, for her music and writings, and the brilliant manuscript illuminations she supervised to go with her works, seemed so compelling.

Not long afterwards, she was discovered and misappropriated by new ageists and feminists.  So it is good to see the Church finally recognising and reappropriating the example of this saint for her own!


The Life of St Hildegard

St Hildegard was actually a child oblate, brought up by the anchoress and visionary Jutta.  A community of nuns grew up around the two, and on the death of Jutta in 1136, she was elected abbess of the community.  She moved her community's location in order to gain independence from the men's monastery nearby (much to the disgruntlement of the abbot), and went on to make another foundation as the community continued to grow.


Although St Hildegard never receiving formal instruction in the classical curriculum, she could read and write, and seems to have received some instruction in music notation and composition.  She composed many musical works which have survived, one of the few known composers of that period.  She wrote on a great number of subjects, including several medical and scientific works.

She is also one of those saints who would surely have been bloggers had the internet been available then: she was a prolific letter writer, calling to account popes, bishops, abbots, Emperors and others.  She attacked simony and clerical corruption in the Church of the time, including through her extensive preaching tours.

It is, though, above all her theological works that have led to her current recognition.  St Hildegard had mystical visions from a very early age, and these form the basis for a number of her works.  In one of his General Audiences on the saint, Pope Benedict XVI commented:

"Hildegard's mystical visions have a rich theological content. They refer to the principal events of salvation history, and use a language for the most part poetic and symbolic. For example, in her best known work entitled Scivias, that is, "You know the ways" she sums up in 35 visions the events of the history of salvation from the creation of the world to the end of time. With the characteristic traits of feminine sensitivity, Hildegard develops at the very heart of her work the theme of the mysterious marriage between God and humanity that is brought about in the Incarnation. On the tree of the Cross take place the nuptials of the Son of God with the Church, his Bride, filled with grace and the ability to give new children to God, in the love of the Holy Spirit (cf. Visio tertia: PL 197, 453c)."



St Hildegard, pray for us.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Comments reminder...**Updated

**This is an old post, but I'm pulling it back up front here since it seems to be a necessary reminder.

Let me put it bluntly.  If you threaten me, implicitly or explicitly, or toss in some irrelevant  issue or attack, I won't be publishing your comment.  My blog, my right.

But by all means feel free to email me offline if you wish to discuss the issue further.

What I will and won't publish

Here is the longer version.

In view of some of the comments I've received of late, I thought it might be a good idea to put up a little reminder of my policies on publication thereof.

First, I love getting comments.  It tells me that someone is reading and reacting (positively or otherwise).  It encourages me to continue posting (yes even the unpublishable ones, they are often entertaining even if outrageous).

So please do have your say.

But remember that this is my place! 

1.  I won't publish personal attacks (including, indeed especially, on me!) except in the most exceptional circumstances.  You can disagree with someone's ideas, words and actions, by all means (preferably politely, but there are times when righteous anger is warranted).  But try to differentiate between the sinner and the sin.

That said, there are exceptions that can be made where warranted.  For example when those advocating a particular sins or heresies, such as homosexuality, band together to achieve their aims.  I've received several comments in the past from those defending homosexual acts for example, and claiming that attacks on homosexual acts and criticism of the homosexualist lobby constitute vilification.  Sorry, but this is a Catholic blog.

Similarly, there are times when it is in the public interest that people be duly warned  where there is a problem or danger.

2.  Keep in mind that this is a blog written from a (traditional) catholic perspective.  I'm open to debate, in those areas the Church says are open to debate, but not to advocacy of heresy or sin.

3. Please give yourself a name.  I'd prefer it was your real name, but I will accept nom de plumes.  But your comment must include some form of identifier.  If you wish to correspond about comments offline however you will need to email me from an actual email account...

4. No trolling.  I'm up for genuine debate, open to genuinely asked questions.  I'm not going to provide space to those who disagree with absolutely everything I have to say here, however, and just want to argue for the sake of it. 

5. Finally, I reserve the right to accept or reject comments for other reasons, or to make exceptions to the rules set out above on a case by case basis.

Let the commenting resume...

Msgr Dempsey: About to be charged in the Hepworth rape case?

I've just been alerted of this story from Adelaide: it seems police look set to act on the allegations made by Archbishop Hepworth in relation to Brighton parish Priest Msgr Dempsey.

The Hepworth case

Archbishop Hepworth, you will recall was formerly Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

His claim that he was abused as a seminarian and a young priest was accepted by the Melbourne Archdiocese.  But he went public with his case, with Senator Xenophon naming Msgr Dempsey in Parliament, because of extended delays and refusal to act on the part of the Adelaide Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese subsequently commissioned an inquiry into the process which cleared both the Archdiocese and Msgr Dempsey.  Its credibility, however, was somewhat undermined by Archbishop Hepworth's refusal to cooperate with it because of his previous dealings with the person conducting the inquiry and various procedural matters.

Latest developments

The Advertiser reports that:

"THE state's top prosecutor is considering whether there is enough evidence to charge Catholic priest Ian Dempsey with the alleged rape of Archbishop John Hepworth...

In a major development, legal sources have told The Advertiser police now believe there is enough evidence to charge Father Dempsey with multiple counts of rape and indecent assault arising from incidents that occurred in the 1960s.

The police move to seek a legal opinion from the Director of Public Prosecutions Adam Kimber, QC, on the strength of the evidence gathered in the 10-month investigation indicates the investigation is in its final stages. The sources said Mr Kimber has asked Sexual Crimes Investigation Branch detectives to follow up on several areas. Senior police and Mr Kimber yesterday declined to comment on the status of the investigation."

The monuments of tradition: canon law

During this little octave around the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I thought it might also be useful to touch on some other aspects of the tradition of the Church.

Accordingly, today I just wanted to highlight some comments of Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, at a recent Canon Law conference, reported on by Zenit.

Blessed are those who walk in the law of the Lord!

Mention of law of any kind in the Church these days frequently comes under attack as constituting the disease of the Pharisees.

Yet in fact canon law traces its origins back to the whole of Scripture, and its necessity in order to promote a well-functioning community is attested to especially in the lawmaking of the Council of Jerusalem, which resolved the dispute over which Jewish practices converts would be required to adopt (Acts 15).

As Cardinal Burke pointed out in his speech, the idea that canon law is at odds with pastoral needs, or truth at odds with love must be rejected.

It is not by accident that the longest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 118 (119) is a paean to the law!

Tradition and canon law

The development of the canon law owes much to that providential admixture of Roman culture to that of Jerusalem and Athens. Its content and institutions have developed in response to the human situations the Church has found a need to respond to.

Unsurprising then that like the other monument of tradition, it has become another victim of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity, or 'Spirit of Vatican IIism'.

Cardinal Burke argues that many of the horrors we see in the Church today are the result of ignorance of the law and the refusal to actually apply it.

One could add that the combination of this disregard for the value of the law with an ecclesiology that falsely privileged the local Church over the Universal has been particularly devastating: it has allowed bishops to think that they could do whatever they felt like regardless of Gospel norms and Church teaching, and get away with it.

The abuse scandals

In the case of the abuse scandals, for example, the Cardinal said:

"It is profoundly sad to note, for instance, how the failure of knowledge and application of the canon law, which was indeed still in force, contributed significantly to the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy in our some parts of the world.

Indeed, in the United States of America, my homeland, in which the scandal has been great, it is often asserted that it was caused by the absence of a proper discipline in the Church to deal justly with such abhorrent situations. In the typical approach of the hermeneutic of discontinuity, it is assumed that the Church lacked the proper canonical discipline with which to investigate such crimes and sanction them. The truth of the matter is that the Church had dealt with such crimes in the past, which should come as a surprise to no one, and that she had in place a carefully articulated process by which to investigate accusations, with full respect for the rights of all parties involved, including the protection of potential victims during the time of the investigation; to reach a just decision regarding their truth, and to apply the appropriate sanction. The discipline in place was not followed because it was not known and, in fact, was presumed not to exist."

Liturgical and other abuses

The Cardinal goes on:

"The years of a lack of knowledge of the Church’s discipline and even of a presumption that such discipline was no longer fitting to the nature of the Church indeed reaped gravely harmful fruits in the Church. For example, I think of the pervasive violation of the liturgical law of the Church, of the revolution in catechesis which often rendered the teaching of the faith vacuous and confused, if not erroneous; of the breakdown of the discipline of priestly formation and priestly life, of the abandonment of the essential elements of religious life and the devastating loss of fundamental direction in many congregations of religious Sisters, Brothers and priests; of the loss of the identity of charitable, educational and healthcare institutions bearing the name of Catholic; and the failure of respect for the nature of marriage and the time-proven process for judging claims of nullity of marriage in ecclesiastical tribunals."

The Cardinal makes the point that of all forms of the law, that relating to the liturgy is the most important:

"Finally, liturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred realities in the Church. It is interesting to note that in his first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, Blessed Pope John Paul II confronted the abuse of general confession and general absolution, of the essentially personal encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, reminding us both of the right of the penitent to such an encounter and the right of Christ Himself,[xlvii] and that, in his last Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he urgently addressed abuses of the Church’s discipline regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.[xlviii]..."

Protecting our rights

The Cardinal's focus was on the importance of the law in the context of the New Evangelization.

But the recovery of the sense of importance of the law is just as more important, I think, for traditionalists in the context of the rights and duties of Catholics - clerics, lay and religious - set out in the 1983 Code.

I'm talking about rights, here such as the right of the laity to be assisted by their pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church (Canon 213), and to worship according to the provisions of their own rite as it has been properly approved (Canon 214) for example.

The Code sets out what those rights are.  Attempting to enforce those rights and duties, however, has often turned out to be difficult, time-consuming and even fruitless in the face of a hostile attitude to the law and novus ordo neo-clericalism.

Cardinal Burke's efforts to turn this around should be something we all support.

The Life and Wisdom of St Benedict/17 - To bury the dead


Today's 'tool of good work' is from Chapter 4 of St Benedict's Rule is to bury the dead.

Tobit

The Scriptural basis for this good work is the book of Tobit (especially 1:20 and 2:7-9) which, providentially we start reading at Matins today in the Benedictine Office.

Tobit, you will recall, lived in exile under the Persian king Sennacherib, and was exiled for burying the dead slain by the king:

"Tobias daily went among all his kindred and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he was able, out of his goods: 20 He fed the hungry, and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead, and they that were slain. 21 And when King Sennacherib had come back, fleeing from Judea by reason of the slaughter that God had made about him for his blasphemy, and being angry slew many of the children of Israel, Tobias buried their bodies. 22 But when it was told the king, he commanded him to be slain, and took away all his substance. 23 But Tobias fleeing naked away with his son and with his wife, lay concealed, for many loved him. 24 But after forty-five days, the king was killed by his own sons. 25 And Tobias returned to his house, and all his substance was restored to him."

His return from exile however proved equally problematic:

"But after this, when there was a festival of the Lord, and a good dinner was prepared in Tobias' house, 2 he said to his son: Go, and bring some of our tribe that fear God, to feast with us. 3 And when he had gone, returning he told him, that one of the children of Israel lay slain in the street. And he forthwith leaped up from his place at the table, and left his dinner, and came fasting to the body. 4 And taking it up carried it privately to his house, that after the sun was down, he might bury him cautiously. 5 And when he had hid the body, he ate bread with mourning and fear, 6 remembering the word which the Lord spoke by Amos the prophet: Your festival days shall be turned into lamentation and mourning. 7 So when the sun was down, he went and buried him. 8 Now all his neighbours blamed him, saying: once already commandment was given for you to be slain because of this matter, and you scarce escaped the sentence of death, and do you again bury the dead? 9 But Tobias fearing God more than the king, carried off the bodies of them that were slain, and hid them in his house, and at midnight buried them."

And thus begins the saga that sees his son embark on a journey with the Archangel Raphael...

All the same, these days, in Australia at least, you are unlikely to stumble across a body in the streets (and if you do, the proper course is surely to call the police rather than secretly bury them!).  So what does this tool of good work mean for us today?

Respect for the bodies of the dead

Respect for the physical remains of the dead reflect our belief in the reality of the coming Resurrection, so this corporal work of mercy is important.

The first and most obvious duty here is to ensure that our own burials and those of our families and friends are properly provided for.  A number of diocese's offer funeral plans which are, I suppose, a kind of substitute for the medieval confraternities that paid for members funerals and, just as importantly, ongoing prayers for their soul.

We should also keep in mind that cremation is not a tradition options for Catholics, although it is now permitted in certain circumstances.  But where it is chosen, the ashes must be properly interred at a cemetery, not scattered or plonked under a favourite tree or whatever!

Secondly, there are a few Australian charities - though as far as I can find none of them Catholic - who provide funerals for those who would otherwise end up in unmarked pauper graves provided by the State.

Thirdly, where cemeteries have been allowed to fall to ruin, we should support the work of their restoration.

Praying for the dead

It is not just the physical remains of the dead that we should care for, however, but also the souls.

In the Benedictine 'chapter' said after Prime, Psalm 129 (130) (De Profundis) is traditionally said daily for the souls of the dead of the monastery (as well as oblates and benefactors) in purgatory, and it is an indulgenced prayer so worth considering adding to your daily regime!

Another excellent option is to say the Office of the Dead on some regular basis.

And of course you can have masses said for the souls of particular friends, or all those in purgatory.  A number of the traditional monasteries will, for example, commit to saying a 'Gregorian' of masses (30 days in a row).  Some, like Flavigny allow you to arrange it all online.

Or you could join a penitential society such as this one which has a number of Australian priests who will offer masses as part of a perpetual novena.

St Benedict and a good death

Our care and concern for the dead are good works in themselves.  But they also serve us reminders that we too will all face death!  St Benedict's own death in fact epitomises the catholic - as opposed to the secularist - concept of a good death, for St Gregory the Great relates that he died awake and aware, praying in the monastery church:

"In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples. In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy. Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.

Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last."

Prayer for a good death

There is a prayer one can offer daily for St Benedict's aid at the time of our own death:

"O holy Father, St. Benedict, blessed by God both in grace and in name, who, while standing in prayer, with hands raised to heaven, didst most happily yield thy angelic spirit into the hands of thy Creator, and hast promised zealously to defend against all the snares of the enemy in the last struggle of death, those who shall daily remind thee of thy glorious departure and heavenly joys; protect me, I beseech thee, O glorious Father, this day and every day, by thy holy blessings, that I may never be separated from our dear Lord, from the society of thyself, and of all the blessed. Through the same Christ our Lord.

The TLM in Queensland


Fr Jordan SJ (right) with Frs Wong and Sypher FSSP at Fr Sypher's,
a former member of the Brisbane community, first Mass in 2011
Continuing my little tour of the liturgy in Australia, today a look at Brisbane and Queensland more generally.

Brisbane: a back hole no longer?

Brisbane has mostly been more notorious for its appallingly awful liturgy than famous. 

Aside from the South Brisbane invalid baptism fiasco, it is also the home of Mrs Harrington and her curious 'liturgy lines' pieces.  Indeed, this week's piece is a classic of the genre, on how Vatican II 'restored' the homily which had allegedly developed into something that had no connection with the rest of the liturgy.

Fortunately things are changing: Brisbane now has Archbishop Mark Coleridge in charge, and he has taken a number of steps to set things to rights (although a good next step would be to just close down the Archdiocese's Liturgical Commission!).

Nonetheless, the liturgical abuses that were (and still are) rife in Brisbane haven't hurt the strong Traditional Latin Mass community there, though one suspects that it would have thrived regardless, given the wise leadership of its chaplain, Fr Gregory Jordan SJ.

Brisbane Latin Mass

Under the previous regime, the Latin Mass operated under numerous restrictions.

Hopefully now that it has been freed from these, the community will grow even more strongly.

All the same, it does suffer from competition with one of Australia's other major (and still growing)religions, as reader Maureen has pointed out:

"Father Gregory Jordan says a most beautiful Latin Mass at St Joseph's Church, Kangaroo Point in Brisbane - Sundays at 10 am.

The only downside is that the church is actoss the road from the Gabba - and when AFL games occur, not only is there no parking in the street without a permit, the limited parking spaces in the church grounds are sold to the AFL officials for the day. Boom gate and security guard in situ.

Having learned the hard way, I no longer undertake the long drive on those days, as I have been turned away more than once. I attend Mass at the local parish on football days!"   There are a number of other priests in the Brisbane region who occasionally or regularly say the Latin Mass, including perhaps, given this post, priest blogger A Secular Priest, who has just celebrated the twelfth anniversary of his ordination.  Congratulations Fr Sharp!  And good luck for those last few months of study...  

The rest of Queensland  

As for the rest of Queensland...

I'd like to be able to report that Bishop Morris' replacement is making inroads or even just making a few symbolic steps to point the diocese in the right direction.  Still, early days?

In Rockhampton, the current main story is the restoration of the Cathedral.

There are, according to the web, monthly Masses in Cairns and Townsville (though I presume no longer, alas in Rockhampton).   Perhaps readers can fill us in...

Is this the way the (Western) world ends? Islamic protests in Sydney



Source: James Brickwood, SMH
Around the world, embassies are being attacked, people are being killed and riots are occurring.

And there was a huge, violent demonstration in Sydney yesterday staged by militant Islamic forces who, according to police came intent on doing damage. 

It started with no advance warning, apparently using text messages to rally the troops.

Around 400 people rallied to the call to 'defend the prophet'.

They took over the central business district at lunchtime, and kept it going for over five hours.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

"NSW Police used batons, capsicum spray and the dog squad to quell the angry crowd, who carried signs such as ''Behead all those who insult the prophet'', ''Obama, we love Osama'' and ''Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell''."

...The Sydney protest went in waves of calm, from prayer to rants about Christians lacking morals, then frenzied chanting and violent clashes with police. The Sun-Herald saw several arrests and seriously injured police and protesters. One protester being taken away by an ambulance spat at officers and chanted ''Allahu Akbar''.

And all for a film few of them had actually seen (though you can find trailers and extracts on youtube).

The film

I only watched a few seconds of the film trailer, but it does look pretty outrageously obnoxious.

And it is surprising that clips from it are still available on youtube.

But Muslims simply confirm perceptions of their inability to adapt to life in a Western country such as Australia, and about their faith, with actions of this kind.

Is it too late to prevent the fall of the West from the forces within?  Probably.  

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Seven Sorrows of the BVM: on surviving in the Church


Today is the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, and the traditional devotion is to say an Our Father and seven Hail Mary's for each of them, viz:

1.The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35) or the Circumcision of Christ
2.The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
3.The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
4.Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary.
5.Jesus Dies on the Cross. (John 19:25)
6.Mary Receives the Body of Jesus in Her Arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
7.The Body of Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb. (John 19:40-42)

The way of the Cross

The life of Our Lady, though, is also a broader reminder that we are all called to the way of the Cross, and that God tests his friends most especially, that we might grow in grace and faith.

Consider, for example, how Our Lady must have felt when St Joseph, learning of her pregnancy, considered whether to denounce her for adultery, or have her quietly shuffled off to hide the circumstances (Mt 1:18-19).

And in the Office at the moment we have been reading the story of Job, who foreshadows the suffering of the just man, his suffering made worse by the admonitions of his so-called friends!

Living amongst sinners

These examples of faithfulness in the face of adversity are particularly important for us all to keep in mind as we constantly read of evil not just in the world, but particularly in the Church.

When secularists, Islamists or others persecute and harass us, we do at least expect it.

But it is surely more difficult to cope with when those who should stand as fathers, brothers and sisters to us instead of supporting us, act instead to subvert our faith and morals, to abuse us physically, mentally and spiritually, and to subvert the good works we attempt to do.

Yet the Church is bigger than the bishops, bigger than all of its priests, bigger than all the laity alive today.

We are part of a Church Militant that has a duty to aid the Church Suffering in purgatory, for they suffer far more than we, not matter the ills done to us.

And we must seek the aid of the Church Triumphant in heaven, for ultimately we know that truth and justice will triumph.

No matter the provocation, schism or defection to another ecclesial community is always a sin.  So to is abandonment of our faith altogether. 

Instead, we must do what we can to seek the grace that sustains us, for example through the saying of the Divine Office, the practice of lectio divina, and a rich devotional life.

Please pray for perseverance - and justice

In recent weeks two people have told me their stories, one a layman one a priest.

They are both horrifying stories of betrayal by those who should have stood as fathers to them.  And though the original events in both cases happened long ago, the injustice flowing from those events has not been remedied, far from it.

They are both, however, also stories of  heroic perseverance in the faith.

I would ask you to pray for these two people, that they may receive justice (preferably in the here and now!).  Please pray also  - and do what you can to support - all who have been treated unfairly within the Church for whatever reason.

Pray to, that all those who have fallen away from the faith because of things that have happened to them may yet recover their faith.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mass in Melbourne...

I want to continue my series on the liturgy in Australia with a few comments today on Melbourne.

Eastern Rite

First, a reader, Sub- Deacon Nunis, provided some details of Divine Liturgy/Mass of the Melkite Catholic Church in the Byzantine Rite in English:

"Priest celebrant: Fr. Brian Kelty (Ukrainian Catholic Church)
Location: St. Joseph's Melkite Catholic Church, 40 Gillies St, Fairfield VIC 3078
Time: 6pm every Sunday

Attendance: Still growing. Currently attended by the youth, but also catering for young families.

Challenges: Most of our community have not warmed up to the idea of an English Liturgy, being used to the typical Arabic. Some have accused it of 'dividing families' as the Middle Eastern people are a very tight family unit, and this can be translated to as "going to church every Sunday TOGETHER".

We are also trying to learn certain how to sing certain minor parts of the Liturgy like the troparions in their proper tones, instead of merely reading it out.

Proud about: We have a good set of preachers from amongst the deacons, and we rotate amongst ourselves to preach every Sunday. We're also proud of our cantors, who are trying hard to retain Byzantine traditions through the singing of the Liturgy. We do sing the occasional hymn like "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent" at times, but we do it the Byzantine way - no musical instruments."

(You can find contact details in the Sunday post comment).

Ordinariate parish

Melbourne has also, of course, just ordained four priests for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, opening up another excellent option for those desireth of good liturgy!

Traditional Latin Mass

Melbourne has of course long been a stronghold for the Traditional Mass in Australia, thanks to the stalwart efforts of men such as Frs James Opie, Gerard Diamond, John Walshe, Philip Astley, Ian Falconer and others.  And for this some of the credit goes to its successive Archbishops: a Pontifical Mass was first said (again) in the Cathedral in 1992, and became an annual tradition for a long while.

These days the official traditionalist (now also Novus Ordo) community there, led by its defectors from assorted traditionalist societies and religious orders, needs no publicity: it has a well oiled self-promotion machine.

Fortunately for those who run afoul of the personality issues at work there (which also seem, in my opinion, to to be a key cause of the disunity amongst traditionalist communities in Australia), there are a number of other EF Masses on offer in Melbourne (though the wikimissa listing could do with some updating by those in the know), including from some fairly surprising sources.

Reform of the reform

Melbourne also has a number of strong reform of the reform parishes, promoted by the Glorificamus Society amongst others.

And it is also of course the home of priest blogger Fr Nicolas Pearce as well as lay blogger (whom we should welcome back after a long break from posting) David Schutz.

The Pope in Lebanon: keep him in your prayers!

Source: L'Osservatore Romano
The Pope has arrived in Lebanon for the start of his visit there.

The Pope also released an Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in the Middle East, following the Synod of Middle Eastern bishops held in 2010.

Islamic reaction

In the Exhortation the Pope takes the view that Islam does not condone violent enforcement of its views on others.  Sadly, the Islamic world at the moment seems intent on providing otherwise.

This week has seen the murder and possibly rape of the US Ambassador and other diplomats in Libya, attacks on Embassies across the world, and an American school set on fire in Tunisia, allegedly in reaction to a US-made film. 

In Tripoli, Islamists attacked the KFC, Krisy Kreme and other US identified targets demonstrating against the Pope's visit, with soldiers opening fire.

Ecclesiology

Nonetheless, the Pope's new Apostolic Exhortation looks on a quick skim to be an extremely important document indeed whose relevance goes well beyond the Eastern Catholic Churches. 

It has a lot to say about ecumenism properly conceived and the scope for interreligious dialogue.  It also sets out a lot of crucial ecclesiology on the relationship between the Universal and local churches, and the roles and relationships between the Pope, patriarchs, bishops, priests, religious and laity.

It also provides strong acknowledgment of the importance of the traditions and rites of the Eastern Churches, noting for example that:

"Ecumenical unity does not mean uniformity of traditions and celebrations." (17)

and that:
Throughout history the liturgy has been an essential element in the spiritual unity and communion of the faithful in the Middle East. Indeed, the liturgy is an outstanding witness to the apostolic Tradition as preserved and developed in the particular traditions of the Churches of East and West."   Please pray for the Pope's safety.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Latin Mass in South Australia

So I'm starting my roundup of the state of the liturgy in Australia simply because the first of the very few comments I received on this subject was from a reform of the reform parish there.

South Australia has two dioceses: Adelaide (the Archdiocese) and Port Pirie

Port Pirie has, as far as I can ascertain no Latin Mass at all (and is also the diocese that still holds the prize for my worst Christmas midnight Mass experience ever!). 

In Adelaide on the other hand, the Traditional Latin Mass is thriving, and some 'reform of the reform' parishes are emerging.

Adelaide's interesting 'leadership team'

There is a simple reason for that I think.

Adelaide has long one of the most liberal of Australia's dioceses.  When Archbishop Wilson was appointed to the diocese, it was supposedly to clean up some of the mess left by his predecessors.  But while some of the more blatant disregard of Church law may have stopped, it has all just gone underground, as things do in Adelaide... 

Indeed, you can get a sense of just where the dioceses priorities lie (and they are not with good liturgy!) by taking a look at this outrageous website advertising the consultancy services to Government of former Vicar General Fr David Cappo...

Traditional Latin Mass

Fortunately, there are alternatives to the dying 'mainstream' parishes!

As a result of the labours of Fr McCaffrey FSSP, the Fraternity's Apostolate now has two priests based there, and the congregation has continued to grow.  And if you take a look at the Adelaide Latin Mass website (previous link) you will see the community has a wide range of social, charitable and catechetical activities on offer.

There are also a number of other priests who regularly say the Extraordinary Form Mass (or Traditional Dominican Rite Mass) in Adelaide, including a Sunday evening Mass at Hindmarsh.

Reform of the Reform?

A reader provided a comment, however, on some reform of the reform activities in Adelaide, so let me post the comment on St Anthony's at Edwardstown:

"Our parish at Edwardstown, Adelaide (St Anthony's) has been renovated recently, returning the tabernacle to its original position behind the altar.

The community has embraced the new translation very successfully.

But the most significant change has been the singing of the mass in the Gregorian form set out in the new missal, and the singing of the propers of the mass, in English, by the choir at the Saturday vigil mass.

The Saturday vigil is at 6pm, and the address of the church is 832 South Road, Edwardstown, SA."

You can read more about their efforts here.

Others?

Are there other good things happening in Adelaide (is this still a stronghold of the more conservative/traditionally inclined Dominicans?), or more to say about the communities I've mentioned above?  Please do add your comments....

Does Cardinal Pell think you are a 'cranky and idiosyncratic' resister of VII?


Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross, and thus the anniversary of the coming into effect of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

And as I flagged last Sunday, I'll use the 'octave' of the feast to post something of a round-up of the state of play on the liturgy in Australia, focusing on the availability of EF (TLM) Masses.  Please do send in any comments or information about EFs (or other liturgy of note) available wherever you are (or whinges about the absence thereof!).

But first a few comments about the importance of the liturgy, and tradition more generally.

Cardinal Pell: the culture wars are over!

There was a rather piece by Barney Zwartz in The Age this week, unsurprisingly lauding the Vatican II revolution.

What was curious about it were some comments from Cardinal Pell that looked to me at least like potshots at traditionalists.

Now it is entirely possible that his comments were taken out of context.

But Cardinal Pell is quoted as making a few fairly bizarre sounding claims.  The first is that the 'culture war' within the Church, between 'progressives' (read dissenters) and conservatives over things like priestly celibacy, the ordination of women, and more has been won.

Really?  A casual read of outlets like Cath News, The Swag, V2Catholic and more, not to suggest the experience of the average parish mass would suggest otherwise!

Pockets of resistance?

Or was he in fact not talking about liberals but traditionalists?

A lot of the article is in fact about the debate between traditionalists (represented by Professor Tracey Rowland, who attacks Kumbayah style liturgy) and progressives such ACBC employee Bob Dixon who lauds what he sees as the switch from a 'sin and grace' focus (ie getting people to heaven) to a pelagianesq focus on 'life and the world and society and social justice'.

After a paean of praise for Vatican II, the Cardinal offers this comment:

''It changed the life of the church. It was an immense achievement. The change was not doctrinal but pastoral. When I speak to young Turks today who look back fondly to an idyllic church before the council, I point out some changes we take for granted.''

He goes on to claim, apparently in the context of the progressives:

''There are pockets of idiosyncratic and possibly cranky resistance, and everything is not nailed down even now, but the battle is over. The real challenge now is to hand on the faith to young people and resist the rise of anti-religion.''

So if what we have now is how things really should be, I'm thinking you and I, dear reader, are amongst those the Cardinal regards as the cranky resistance.

Because honestly, a Church that is failing to get people to come to Mass, failing to get enough vocations to maintain the current level of priests and religious, failing utterly to persuade the majority of those who claim to be catholic to actually follow the moral and other prescriptions of the faith is not cutting it for me!

Liturgy is crucial

Bob Dixon's comments in The Age article point to the real problem, namely a loss of any sense that our first duty, and our first privilege is the worship of God.

When it comes down to it, people don't go to Mass because the typical parish Mass is not about bridging the divide between heaven and earth.  It is not about recalling Christ's sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation.  It is not about the praise and worship of God.

Instead, it is all too often a celebration of ourselves, an opportunity for narcissism.  And above all, it is typically turgid and trite: something to be endured rather than looked forward to.

The importance of the Extraordinary Form

The Extraordinary Form - and those splendid Eastern Rite services that have resisted the inroads of 'modernization' - are important because they do show us what liturgy is supposed to be about.

They remind us that we are Church that was born 2,000 years ago, not 50!

They remind us that we are a Church where the Tradition  - and traditions - have been handed down over centuries.

If we truly want to win the culture war - and still have a Church in this country in fifty years time - we need to start by reclaiming the liturgy from the liberals.  And it won't happen, in my view, unless traditionalists actually adopt a missionary attitude towards the rest of the Church.

So I invite you to reflect, this week, on how you can contribute to the re-evangelization of the wider Church...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Tell us about your EF/Reform of the Reform community: open post



We are coming up, this week to September 14, or the anniversary of the freeing of the Extraordinary Form (EF) (aka TLM) from the requirement that the diocesan bishop formally approve its use. 

Accordingly, I though this might be a good opportunity to reflect on what, if any progress, has been made in the spread of good liturgy in Australia!

And also to update the listing of just what masses are available around the country, which I suspect are all rather out of date.

I therefore to invite you to post a comment about your community - I'll save them up and publish them together with an overview, starting on Friday.

Things you might like to include:
  • who are the priests who say Mass for your community/in your city;
  • Mass times;
  • website/sources of information;
  • other community activities;
  • how many typically attend the EF/excellent OF Mass each week/growth of the community?
  • challenges your community faces (ie lack of a priest/hostile bishop/availability of a church) etc.
  • things your community should/can be particularly proud of (vocations, choir, charitable activities, etc).
Feel free to email me any photos that I could use in a feature on your community/town.

As well as regular EF communities, I'd be happy to highlight special events (including upcoming ones), and other forms of the liturgy (Reform of the reform, Eastern rite, etc) that you think are worth publicizing as options for those desiring more than the usual parish Mass...