Don’t you see?

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Now that Cardinal Farrell* has explained it to those of us who are slow on the uptake, we can see clearly why Jesus’s views on so many things which are currently controverted can be ignored with equanimity. It was lack of relevant experience, don’t you see?

He cannot be trusted on the sanctity of marriage simply because he was not married. We can ignore his (and Paul’s) attitude to homosexuality because (so far as we know) they were not gay.

And both their opinions about the World Cup can be discounted for the simple reason they had never played football.

Once you see it, it makes absolute sense.

*Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that ‘priests are not the best people to train others for marriage…they have no credibility; they have never lived the experience.’

What’s he up to?

Pope wears Indian headdress presented by members of native tribe of Brazil

Pope Francis famously failed to respond to the Dubia submitted by four cardinals, claiming (amongst other things) that the manner of their submission was irregular and offensive: ‘I only heard about them through the media’.

Subsequent to their delivery to the papal residence and the CDF by Cardinal Caffara, however, Francis has issued letters to a number of prelates (the latest being the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente) commending a liberal interpretation of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia.  Cardinal Clemente had written to his clergy commending the admission of the divorced and ‘remarried’ to Holy Communion. It was, Francis wrote, a ‘profound’ insight that ‘filled me with joy.’

These informal commendations clearly fall far short of the magisterial clarification the four cardinals were seeking. But coming from the author of the disputed document, they have, nevertheless, a considerable authority. So what is going on?

There is, I think, method in the madness. The most plausible explanation of what is certainly a new departure in the teaching office of the Papacy is that Francis is seeking to rely, in the introduction of doctrinal novelties, not on his office but on his personal charisma.

Like a Hollywood star who opines on global warming, he seeks to bolster his case by personal popularity. Such an approach renders reason – or even consistency – superfluous.

Catechetical

CATGREEN

When I became a Catholic I was admitted to full communion on terms which were perfectly clear to me. I acceded to ‘all that the Catholic Church teaches’; and in particular to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (For the avoidance of doubt, the CCC also made clear that those were the terms of admission.)

Though I had been an Anglican communicant for all of my adult life – and an Anglican  priest for more than forty years – I accepted those terms with equanimity. Had I been married to a catholic I would not have expected to have been absolved from those requirements. It was a statement of my own faith and allegiance which was being required. I could not have expected (nor would I have wanted) to piggy-back on the faith of another.

In the light of all this, how to make sense of the movement to admit to Holy Communion the Protestant spouses of faithful Catholics?

Either I am missing something of great importance, or the proposal is a nonsense intended, not to show ‘mercy’ to individuals in ‘exceptional circumstances’, but to undermine the Church’s settled understanding of the very basis of communion.

What other ‘circumstances’, one must ask, will one day dispense others (for reasons as yet unstated) from the expressions of fidelity required of me?

Dogmatism

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As the Brexit vision fades, it is worth asking why the issue has been so heated and why, in particular, Remainers have been so convinced of their tenure of the Moral High Ground.

Justin Welby put the case with uncharacteristic candour*.

The EU, he told the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Serbia, was ‘the greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Western Roman Empire’; it had ‘brought peace, prosperity, compassion for the poor and weak, purpose for the aspirational, and hope for all its people’.

Behind the pragmatic arguments, based on economic self-interest, which are the stock in trade of the political class, there lurks, it seems, an ideological substratum. It can, perhaps, be sloganized: Confederation good; Nation State bad.

Such a sentiment may be attractive to the twenty-seven (most of which achieved statehood and national identity in very recent times). It is arguably less potent in a country whose unity dates back to the ninth century and whose democratic institutions were forged in the seventeenth.

Why, we must ask, would such a country sink its distinctive identity in an emerging entity dominated by France and Germany (nations which, together, have wrought untold havoc in the European homeland), and which includes a majority of states with very doubtful democratic credentials? Why, moreover, should an island nation embrace the policy of wholesale transhumance which has been established as the sine qua non of such an arrangement?

The Archbishop of Canterbury will no doubt take time off from his day job to tell us.

*Note: There is greater unanimity among the bishops of the Church of England over Brexit than over the doctrine of the Eucharist.

Thought Police

DWP

When orthodoxy becomes optional, it will sooner or later be prohibited’*

Sooner rather than later.

Consider the case of Dr David MacKereth, a doctor of 26 years standing in the NHS who has been refused employment as a disability assessor with the Department of Work and Pensions because he refuses to identify patients as being of a sex that they have themselves chosen or ‘see themselves as’.

Dr MacKereth is a Reformed Baptist, and appeals to scripture as authority for the conviction that sex is genetic and biological, and so established at birth.

But his views are not exclusive to men and women of faith: until very recent times they were generally shared. Gender dysphoria was, until recently, almost universally deemed to be treated more appropriately by the psychiatrist rather than the surgeon. In all probability that remains the majority opinion.

The change of attitude has come about not as a result of any new and incontrovertible scientific evidence, but as a result of political agitation by an interested minority.

This minority (in the nature of the case it is impossible to say how large it is) has now gained the sanction of the law. The DWP, Dr MacKereth was told, had ‘consulted lawyers’ and was adamant that any report or contact with clients should refer to them in their chosen sex otherwise it ‘could be considered to be harassment as defined by the 2010 Equality Act’.

Dr MacKereth is right to be alarmed. The imposition by law of the view that sex, as a matter of human rights, is self-determinative, is objectively unfounded. It imposes upon others an opinion, grounded in no more than sentiment, which cannot (in the nature of the case) be vindicated by reason or by science.

It is, as Bishop Butler said of Enthusiasm, ‘a horrid thing; a very horrid thing indeed’. And the more horrid when enacted by lawyers on behalf of a bureaucracy.

*Fr Richard John Neuhaus

‘Reunion all round’ revisited

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It has been clear for some time that influential elements within the Catholic Church have looked with something approaching envy at the louche activities of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Blind to the widening divisions within the Anglican fold, they have continued dialogue as though with a united body with a common and discernible mind. This, needless to say, is far from the truth.

‘What can our two churches learn from each other?’ asks the new 68-page report from the ARCIC process, disingenuously .

And since those things which the Anglican Communion might learn from the Catholic Church – the Papal Magisterium; a universal Canon Law; the unqualified interchangeability of ministries and sacraments; a sacred ministry continuous from Apostolic times; a dominical understanding of Holy Matrimony; an unqualified respect for the sanctity of human life, etc., etc. – have all been rejected (some of them very recently), the document naturally majors on what the Catholic Church can learn from Anglicanism.

Unsurprisingly this turns out to be the familiar wish-list of liberal Catholics – the St Gallen Agenda.

High on the list is a form of provincial autonomy (greater authority for national or local conferences of bishops in matters of faith and morals). Vying for prominence with that is the notion of greater lay involvement, and ‘synodical’ governance.

The attractiveness of both springs from the way in which both have operated in the churches of the Anglican Communion to advance the Agenda. Both are a mechanism for allowing the tail to wag the dog. Both put power in the hands of an activist minority.

Provincial Autonomy has allowed the churches of the White Hegemony (US, UK, Canada, Australia) to bully the rest into acquiescence. ‘Synodical’ government has everywhere permitted revisionist minorities an unwarranted degree of influence.

From the point of view of revisionist Catholics, what is there to dislike?

Viva! Viva! Jesu

We at the Most Precious Blood, SE1 were blessed in celebrating our feast of title with the first mass of Fr Jonathan Creer, an Ordinariate Catholic of our own group and parish. Fr Jonathan was ordained in the Birmingham Oratory, and so is in every sense a son of Blessed John Henry Newman.

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1 Glory be to Jesus,
who, in bitter pains,
poured for me the life-blood
from his sacred veins.

2 Grace and life eternal
in that blood I find;
blessed be his compassion
infinitely kind.

3 Blessed through endless ages
be the precious stream,
which from endless torments
did the world redeem.

7 Lift ye then your voices;
swell the mighty flood;
louder still and louder
praise the precious blood.