Thursday, 23 February 2017

Solving the Vocation Crisis

Our Bishops are always banging on about there not being enough Priests.

(Hmmmmm, is that true? No,well, often they say that it is an opportunity for the laity to take their place, and rid ourselves of redundant churches. Strangely enough this was not well accepted when our local doctor's practice closed down and I offered to start treating Marjory's arthritic hip with a little concoction of my own invention - involving raw garlic and feet - because it was time for me to take my place in the medical world. Even though I'm not qualified, and accountable to no one, and not trained... I'm sick of these Doctors lording it over us lay people, telling us what is wrong with us, diagnosing us, telling us how to change our lives in order to get well again. WHEN WILL THEY STOP!!!]

Well, I have a solution. We can invite the Maltese Priests over. They speak English. And culturally would fit in very, very well. And we could have all of their seminarians as well. You see nowadays you can increasingly believe the most outrageous twaddle, but not what we have believed for the last few thousand years. Maltese Archbishop Scicluna wants rid of them. See here. We need them.

So there you go, problem solved.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

You don't visit, you don't write, you don't 'phone

Before the advent of mobile phones, when I went to university there was one public telephone in my college. It was at the bottom of my staircase and was often empty. We didn't feel the need to be in touch every moment of the day.

So when I went away, I kept in touch with my mother by letter. I would post her a hand written letter once a  week, telling her of my doings (well a version of them anyway), and she would type me back. This was not because we were terribly formal, just that she was a typist, and used to do it at work.

I guess nowadays that seems very odd. Keeping in touch by in/frequent letter, and typed at that.

So, I am saddened that Cardinal Zen writes to the Pope about the persecution of the Church in China, and he does not get a reply. Link Here. My mum would have been gutted if I had not replied to her. I would have been a bad son. Unthinking and hurtful. I would have been showing thoughtless disregard for her.

But it would only have been about University.

Of course, we are still waiting for the Pope to get back to the Cardinals about the Dubia. Perhaps he doesn't like letters. Perhaps he has epistophobia.* Perhaps he doesn't have any fingers, so can't type a reply. Perhaps he doesn't have a voice so can't dictate one either. Poor Pope. I hate it when I get letters and can't be bothered to reply to them. But mine are usually from Specsavers. Or a publishing house trying to sell me that interminable "Walk with Me" stuff. All of this applies to the Pope not replying to Cardinal Zen. But it is just a little bit different. because it is not 'what I was doing last week', this is about the lives and faith of countless Catholics. Cardinal Zen says that he thinks the Pope is 'naive'.

I think Cardinal Zen is very charitable.


* I think I just made this word up.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Is this an end to it?

The headless Cardinal of Doom
Cardinal Muller, of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, seems to have settled the question of Amoris Laetitia, of the reception of holy communion for the divorced and remarried. Here.

Actually it is a much deeper question about whether we can simply ignore Church teaching. Or if we can change the teaching of the Church, or even of Christ.

Baby Cardinal Bird
Mouth open to receive the truth or God
or whatever
All without the response of the Pope. So that is good. No one loses face. And the Church and truth wins.

So I'm waiting for the German Bishops to withdraw their statements at any moment. And the Maltese. And certain Americans. And Argentinians. I expect Cardinal Nichols and all of our Bishops to make a clear statement to follow Christ, the Church and Muller.

The Cardinal Avenger
rooting out injustice and bad doctrine
After all, if Muller is not right, the Pope should immediately sack him and make everything clear.
And if he is right then all this nonsense of 'but this is what the Pope really wants [going against Christ, 2000 years of Christian theology, the plain teaching of Saints - St John Paul II springs to mind]' has to stop.

Phew. So that's settled.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Newman Society

Tomorrow I'm talking to the Newman Society at Oxford, entitled:

What is the Church saying about the Jews?
Before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council.

I put in the 'Oxford Comma' especially! I usually panic and think that I do not have enough to talk about and then realise that I have wittered on for 20 minutes just defining who I am talking about.

And of course it is 2000 years of history, the weird and wonderful goings-on at VAT II, then my mystic Meg guesses for the future!

It'll be great.

Monday, 6 February 2017

That looks terrible!

Me with Boy Bishop.
Boy Bishop has a mitre, and hair.
I have neither
There are many wonderful things about not having much hair left. God in His wisdom has taken it away, and so I am most thin on top. I tend to think of it in terms of St Etheldreda, who had a goiter on her throat in later life, which she put down to enjoying wearing sparkly necklaces when she was young. In my youth I enjoyed my hair far too much.

Neck covering must be hiding the goiter
I would gel it, and back comb it, and dye it black. I treated it terribly badly, and took far too much delight in it. So I think that one of the reasons for the current lack-of-hair business can be traced back to that. Of course there are some (ha!) who would spuriously claim that years of treating my hair badly may have led to its not being present any more... but I laugh at such a simplistic explanation and prefer to think of God sending celestial beings whenever I am asleep and cutting off my hair with heavenly scissors. This, I am sure, will be mystically returned to me at the general resurrection of the dead.

Type of scissors reputedly used by angels
in the nightly activities to punish wayward ex-Goths
for an over fondness for their hairstyles
in their younger days.
So, with not much hair, I need not worry about 'bad hair days'. I need not worry that it is all sticking up, making me look like a toilet brush. Or that it is strangely flattened at the back, meaning that the offender has just woken from sleep. And there is never the worry of whiplash caused by an over eager comb-over.

This is EXACTLY what I used to look like with bed hair.
I have no need to worry about such things.

Of course I can still have an unfortunate photo taken, even if my hair is fine.

So I feel sorry for the Pope, because those naughty men who put up all the pictures of him in Rome were really mean and used a terrible photo.

Terrible photo. They should have used one of him which was all smiley.
Do you know, I wouldn't be surprised if they even did it on purpose.

Still, his hair's OK.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Happy Oriel Day!

The Coat of Arms of Oriel College
three leopards (lions)

Happy feast day to you! Happy feast day to you!
Happy feast day, dear 'The House of Mary, the Blessed Virgin in Oxford'!
Happy feast day to you!

Front quad of Oriel College
All over the world, old Orielenses celebrate this day, our college feast day. For although as a college, Oriel is know as Oriel, its correct title is that found above, 'The House of Mary the Blessed Virgin in Oxford'. As an Oriel man I am proud both of my institution, which I was privileged to attend for both my MA and MPhil, but even more proud to have been educated in a college dedicated to Our Lady.

The Purification of the Virgin
'But', I hear you cry, 'you're a Castleman now'! And indeed as a member of University College Durham I am a Castleman, but it's rather like your first love, you never quite forget her... So I am both/and, not either/or!

University College Durham
'Castle' - my present alma mater 
Rejoice with me on the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. Rejoice at the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Rejoice on the great feast day...

Our Lady of Vengeance
destroying heresy and evil
protecting the Church from malice
...and may the Blessed and Most Holy Virgin Mary, protectress and co-redemptrix, guard our Holy Church for all the wiles of Satan, may she stand victorious with St Michael and all the Angels and Saints.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

For goodness sake...

...will someone please tell me what is happening?

We have the Bishops of Malta saying that the divorced and re-married can receive communion, link here, and now we have the German Bishops saying the same, here.

Cardinal Muller, head of the CDF
And we also have the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,  Cardinal Muller, link here, saying that this is simply impossible, that unless the couple are living as brother and sister they cannot receive communion.
This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.
This is not just some Cardinal having an opinion (we know that Cardinal's can be completely ignored nowadays) but the head of the Church's Doctrinal body. Is this the Pope's response to the Dubia? Or is Muller about to be axed, in a Franciscan manner?

Behold the axe of mercy
So do we believe the Maltese Bishops? Or the Germans? Or the head of the CDF?


This is fine if you're a bishop, living in your palace, or a bunch of them playing at local government, or even if you're a Pope who lives in a suite of rooms in a hotel, none of whom have to sit down with real people, or know what is going on in their lives. They all seem to have forgotten the laity, who have no idea, or at best a half idea, of what is going on. And of course, they have forgotten the priests (as usual) who have to try to explain this dog's breakfast, and even more worryingly, have to administer what could be "judgment upon himself." (I Cor 11, 28)

And our own Bishops? Thankfully they have not said anything yet.

And no one has the faintest idea of what is going on. But don't worry,  because it only concerns the sacraments of Marriage, Confession and the Eucharist, oh and the salvation of souls.

I was going to say it is like fiddling while Rome burns. But it's not, it's like playing with petrol and matches and then realising that the little game has got a bit out of hand and has now engulfed the world.

Monday, 30 January 2017


Yee Haa - its cowboy time
Could it be that, like some knights of old, or a bunch of cowboys in a cloud of dust, the arrival of the SSPX into communion could be a glimmer, just a glimmer, of joy on the horizon?

Rorate Caeli has two brief reports, here and here.

Lasoo me Jesus in the rodeo of life
I would assume that they would have no truck with bizzarreness from Maltese Bishops, or weird liturgical practices. And once they have returned to the fold, and, presumably declared not to have been too affected by all that 'loose talk of excommunication costs lives' business, so that if they wander off again then there would be no talk of invalidity.

Dallas Cowboys - see what I did there?
Cowboys to football in one easy go
I wonder if the SSPX would accept transfers. I believe it happens in football. You can swap from one to the other.

Cowboy Mass - Yikes!!!
Thank would be an interesting thing, wouldn't it? If our bishops start acting like the Maltese ones and demanding that priests give communion "for their salvation or damnation" contrary to the teaching of Christ. And if we go back to the doggerel of 1970s ... etc etc etc. And suddenly there is an SSPX 'Ordinariate (?)' on offer...

New cowboy biretta, note the lack of pompom.
Real cowboys don't wear pompoms.
They just carry the word of God under their arm like a Frenchman carries a baguette...

Friday, 27 January 2017

The Return of Papal Power

Pope Urban VIII who used the Deposing Power of Popes to get rid of Duke Odoardo Farnese
The Deposing Power of Popes is the ability of the Pope to depose any ruler, or government of his or its power to rule, and thus their subjects of their need to obey. You can see a Wiki article here. Many of us had thought that this was no longer operative. However, I myself have always followed the line that until a kind of pan-Christendom came into being again, that the Pope would simply not use it. In fact, here in the University, we were talking about political, papalist claims just a few weeks ago, and the general consensus was that this was one of those things which simply would never be enacted and belonged to a bygone age.  

Pope Pius V who deposed Queen Elizabeth I
Of course we usually do not talk about the Deposing Power much, and definitely not in the days after Vatican II and all that 'discussion' about religious liberty and Dignitatis Humanae. 

Pope Boniface VIII who had a go at King Philip IV of France
However, the Deposing Power is the ability of the Pope to directly intervene in a State's governance and either rule it directly or call for new elections/appointments. It is quite a thing. I had thought that with the existence of the United Nations, and the Vatican nowadays trying to be accepted as an equal, and not as a superior with automatic rights to intervene and depose, that we would never see it even referred to again. 

Pope Innocent III, said to have deposed King John
They say we live in interesting times - in fact, every age says as much, but honestly, the resurrection of a high Papalism from the 16th century is not something I saw coming. 


New Catholic Dictionary (1910): 

"Present day popes have no mind to resuscitate their deposing power. As Pius IX said to the deputation of the Academia of the Catholic Religion, 21 July 1871: "Although certain Popes have at times exercised their deposing power in extreme cases, they did so according to the public law then in force and by the agreement of the Christian nations who reverenced in the Pope the Supreme Judge of Christ extended to passing judgment even civiliter on princes and individual states. But altogether different is the present condition of affairs and only malice can confound things and times so different." "

How will they vote? And why?

The issue of Labour politicians defying their leadership is interesting see here. It seems at first sight that this is a noble endeavour. After all the MP is simply following the stated aims of their electorate. So if a majority of their constituency voted to stay in Europe, they simply couldn’t vote to enact Article 50. They would not dream of going against them.

I wonder… imagine if you will, that a UK government was foolish enough to allow a referendum on the death penalty. Almost everyone says would be passed for some limited cases. Shhhh, but don’t worry, because if it were passed only for child murders or the like, within a few years it would be available for anyone who hadn’t paid their parking fines - after all that’s what happened for the abortion law. So I wonder what these same ‘liberal’ politicians would do then. Would they follow their electorate, or would they follow their party (especially if it were against the death penalty), or would they suddenly have a high doctrine of parliamentary democracy?

I suspect, old cynic that I am, that this is just a way of trying to ignore the referendum… and masking it in high sounding words.

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