Good Friday, Riding Westward

This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?

Victorian Values III

The conviction of Cardinal George Pell, you will recall, was based upon the evidence of one man, remembering events long ago. It now appears that memory may have played one of its usual tricks.

Keith Windschuttle, an Australian historian and journalist, has uncovered the description of assault allegations made against an American priest published in the September 2011 of the Rolling Stone magazine. Windschuttle has uncovered ‘uncanny’ resemblances between the two cases.

In both cases the sexual abuse occurred in the sacristy after Sunday Mass. In both cases, the victims had been drinking wine they found in the sacristy. In both cases the boys involved had assisted in the celebration of the Mass. In both cases the priest is alleged to have fondled the boys’ genitals.
In both cases the boys were made to kneel before the priest.

The resemblances are startling.

Is it possible that the man in the Pell cases remembered and applied to himself the article which he had read, and become genuinely convinced that the account had happened in reality and to himself? In a climate of anti-Catholic frenzy, the Victorian Police, even if they had lighted on the article in question, would have been unlikely to follow it up. They knew their duty: which was conviction


The tragic destruction of Notre Dame has elicited condolences from leaders around the world. It is hard to think of a building more central to the life and identity of a city, and no building more loved and revered.

But in the midst of tribulation we should give thanks. The Crown of Thornes and the Tunic of St Louis have been saved. The Grandes Orgues will play again. Deo Gratias!


What was hoped to be achieved by Francis’s kissing of the feet (or more accurately the shoes) of representatives of the warring factions in South Sudan?

 ‘If I have washed your feet, so ought you to wash one another’s feet’.

In following the example of Jesus, the Holy Father was, it seems, hoping to excite humility and mutual respect. The participants were all Christians of various denominations and would have recognized the symbolic action for what it was. No Muslims this time.

The foot kissing, then, was a legitimate extension of the foot-washing of Holy Week, and a fitting start to a spiritual retreat which, considering the participants, must have had  its own problems.

But another element cannot be excluded.

Francis is rather given to such gestures. And this one – as the oft-repeated video proves – was not without an element of the bizarre: Bergoglio, the Anti-Trump, marketing his humility as part of the Art of the Deal.


A sycophantic cove called Giovanni Becciu, a one-time senior Vatican official, has declared that the recent letter to German clergy by Pope Emeritus Benedict was intended to support Francis’s analysis of the abuse scandal. Coming from such a source one can be sure that the opposite is true.

Bergoglio’s treatment of the crisis has itself been little short of a scandal. As further evidence of negligence or actual cover-up emerges – and the favoured phrase ‘zero tolerance’ disappears from the Papal vocabulary – any in-depth consideration of causes must surely be seen, at this stage, as deliberate reproof.

Subtlety and innate good manners dictate that Benedict treads carefully. But, as in his refusal to endorse the eleven booklets on ‘The Theology of Pope Francis’, his meaning is clear.

Scrum down

It comes as something of a pleasant surprise that an Australian rugby player should quote from the Letter to the Romans in a tweet; but that is what Israel Folau did. As a result he is set to have his contract terminated for “unacceptable” homophobic and transphobic comments.

Questions need to be asked. Are the works of the Apostle himself now deemed “unacceptable” in Australia? And does acceptance of them – for example reading Romans chapter one aloud in church –  put Australians’ jobs at risk? Or is the offence merely to post such opinions on social media? We need to be told.

Law and Order II

The Vigano Testimony was sunk (and its author obliged to go into hiding) by the intransigence of Pope Francis: ‘I will say not a single word’. The Fount of Law and Chief Magistrate refused to countenance accusations against himself.

Now further testimony of malfeasance has emerged.

Martha Alegria Reichmann, widow of a former dean of the Vatican diplomatic corps and author of the Spanish-language Traiciones Sagradas (Sacred Betrayal) has alleged that Cardinal Óscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the longtime archbishop of Tegucigalpa and convenor of Francis’s C9 cabal of cardinals, was implicit in the coverup of the activities of Bishop Juan Josè Pineda, who has been accused of sexual abuse of seminarians, living in active homosexual relationships and financial impropriety. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Pineda’s resignation last July, but no details of any disciplinary measures have been revealed. Reichmann accuses Francis of being aware of the cover-up and of doing nothing about it.

Mrs Reichmann, it appears, has a grudge against Maradiaga for dodgy financial dealings; but that should not invalidate her other substantiated claims. It is clear that the Holy Father should now institute a thorough investigation – which would include his own involvement in the matter.

In the modern world (whose attitudes in other areas, Francis is eager to embrace) he can no longer hide behind his anomalous status as above Canon Law. Kings and dictators have been made answerable to the law; and so it must be with Popes.