Laus Deo

Now that the dust is beginning to settle, perhaps one can at last talk some sense about the Charlie Gard case. There has been something almost surreal or absurd about the events.

Surreal, in the sense that so much solicitude was being shown for a child by all accounts with little or no chance of life, when all around him thousands of the unborn sons and daughters of other parents are being consigned to the incinerator.

Absurd because the language generally employed about Charlie was tragically inappropriate. The boy’s father described him as a ‘brave little warrior’; he was said in the newspapers to be ‘struggling with….’ or ‘striving to overcome…’ ;

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 The Telegraph opined that he had ‘lost the battle.’

But such was not the case. Charlie was not fighting, he was not struggling. He was to all intents and purposes inert. Doctors were fairly certain that he could feel no pain, so how could he be said to endure heroically? There was no conscious struggle, because there was no consciousness.

Absurd, too, when it emerged that the American doctor who offered an untested remedy to save Charlie, had not even sought medical information from Great Ormond Street.

And how strange that two conflicting public figures – the Pope and the President of the United States – should compete in offering help.

But there was irony even there, too. Trump was meanwhile unable either to dismantle or replace Obamacare, and Bergoglio was dealing with evidence of the embezzlement of funds from the very hospital he had offered to the boy.

Everything about Charlie Gard seems to be puzzling or problematical, except for his parents’ unconditional commitment to him and to life. Praise God for that.

Eastern Promise

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In a press release which has sent shock-waves throughout the Buddhist world it was announced yesterday that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is to become a Jesuit.

Pope Francis has welcomed the move, saying that the two men have long had a mutual concern for peace, mercy and reconciliation. Tenzin Gyatso (whose name in religion will be Francis Xavier) attributes his conversion to assiduous reading of the works of Fr James Martin, SJ.

‘Nothing in our Buddhist scriptures matches the serene wisdom of Fr James’s teaching. At first I thought I would find the notion of a creator God who punishes sinners, and has special favourites rather hard to swallow. But then I grasped that Fr James has the very same problems! He’ s not so sure either. No wonder he is a best seller on airport bookstalls.’

The new convert is said already to be immersed in his studies at an undisclosed campus in California. In the words of the president of his Jesuit college, Fr Arturo Sosa, his course will enable him ‘to scout profitable growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in emerging, mission-inclusive areas and explore new paradigms and then filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.’

‘I hope one day to meet your Pope’, Tensin Gyatso said, concluding the interview, ‘he is a kindly man. He reminds me of someone I once knew; but I can’t recall who he is the reincarnation of.’

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Fr Arturo Sousa lecturing on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola

Eavesdropper

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Overheard in the National Liberal Club:

Bishop: What I don’t understand about this Brexit business is why they don’t just get on with it.

Politician (emolliently): With respect, bishop, I think you have got it all wrong. We never for a moment intended to allow Brexit to be a once-and-for-all event! We thought of it more in theological terms, as an on-going process – a sort of reverse Ecumenism. In which case, as I am sure you will agree, it could be prolonged almost indefinitely.

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Transiscus

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                                                        Surprise! Surprise!

In a brilliant move which has effectively out-manoeuvred his traditionalist critics Pope Francis has leapt ahead of developments in all but the most advanced Western countries, and given all Catholics the right to determine their own sex. In an interview in the Die Presse, speaking on behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said that every catholic should seek to be ‘at peace in their sex before God.’

Local bishops’ conferences are charged with the task of producing guidelines for parish priests and others as they accompany lay people on their individual journeys of discovery.

Said Cardinal Rinaldo Copacabana who has been given the task of overseeing the logisitics of the exercise: ‘This is a mammoth task. Millions of baptismal certificates and entries in registers will have to be withdrawn and re-issued. But think of the benefits! There need be no more arguments about women priests; and the divorce and remarriage debate will of course be completely transformed. (Think of what Burke will make of that!) And issues of equality and equal pay, which have bedevilled Catholic social teaching for years, will be solved at a stroke ’

Contacted by the National Catholic Register and The Tablet, Fr Spadaro also waxed almost lyrical: ‘This is so, so typical of the mercy and compassion of Our Holy Father. He wants everybody to be happy and everyone to have what they want. But to do so, and at the same time to solve the most serious moral and theological problems facing the Church at the present time, is shere genius.’

Applications for gender adjustment should be made, in the first instance to:

The Prefect,
Sacred Congregation for Sexual Transition.
Via Della Conciliazione 69
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Diocesan Tribunals will be initiated in due course.

Ask the Archbishop

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In our new series, agony uncle Justin Welby answers your questions.

Questions should be addressed to:
The Most Reverend, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lambeth Palace, 
London SE1 7JU

 

Dear Archbishop,

I am a former England rugby international who has recently undergone gender realignment surgery. I am now considering a future as a priest of the Church of England. How would you assess my chances of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury?

Samantha, (address withheld)

Dear Sam (if I may call you that!),

The current teaching of the Church of England on LGBT issues is, to be frank, less than clear. I don’t want to be invasive, but, since your surgical intervention, have you entered into a relationship with a man, or woman (or a former woman or man)? If so, I have to tell you that problems might arise. Same sex liasons genitally expressed are presently viewed by the Church of England as an impediment to proceeding to ordination. Of course, we would need to convene a meeting of the House of bishop to determine what would constititute a same sex relationship in any or all of  the circumstances I have outlined!.

Nevertheless, the present state of affairs may change in the foreseeable future, and I for one would not wish to discourage you from proceeding (to ordination, that is).

You sound to me like a very responsible young person. Whether or not you could ever become Archbishop of Canterbury is, of course, not for me to judge. Who can tell who or what will be my successor? God knows –  and the will of God will only be revealed to us by the General Synod in the course of time.

I recommend Westcott House, by the way,

Your friendly Archbishop,

Justin

Right-on Rite

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                                           Hello, Possums!       

Today the General Synod of the Church of England voted unanimously to draw up an order of service for use in the parish to re-induct a parish priest who has recently changed sex.

A draft rite for experimental use has already been prepared by the Liturgical Commission:

Archdeacon: What is your present sex?
Clergyperson: M or F or ….
Archdeacon: I am obliged by Canon Law to ask if you continue to be the same person previously known as ………
Clergyperson: I am, God being my helper.

Bishop: N now M, you have served faithfully as pastor of this congregation. Is it now your intention, after extensive reconstructive surgery, to persevere in this calling?
Clergyperson: It is.

Bishop: People of God in this parish, do you recognise ……as your pastor and guide, in his/her/its new capacity and gender?
People: We do.

Bishop: N now M, I duly invest you with all the rights and privileges of this benefice for such time as you continue in your present gender. In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier*. Amen.
People: Welcome, thrice welcome. You have become a New Creation.

The congregation and all participants shall then repair to the parish hall for a good old-fashioned knees-up.

*The more traditional wording ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ may be used in parishes adhering to The Society, unless the priest in question declares it to be demeaning or offensive.

Pastoralia

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Wearied by a world beyond parody, where Monsignors snort cocaine in Vatican gay orgies and Cardinals enjoy joint accounts of unimaginable wealth in Swiss banks, this blog is going into retreat up a remote Yorkshire valley, many miles from the nearest human habitation.

Perhaps it will one day return. Who knows? Who cares?