Dear Frank,

How gratifying to discover that you are abandoning the filioque. We did that some years ago, under Robert Runcie, when we decided (out of politeness to the Orthodox) to omit the clause whenever they were present. We saw it as a generous ecumenical gesture.

Mind you, they never included it when we visited them!

But I suppose that that is the way of ecumenism. All ecumenists are like vegetarians. You go to the trouble of making them a nut cutlet, but they never so much as grill you a pork chop.


Your colleague,


Nothing succeeds like Excess


Cardinal Cupich’s bid to be the acknowledged apostle of Bergoglianism (and, in due course no doubt, custodian of the legacy and natural successor) is proceeding according to plan.

A series of seminars for bishops has been organised across the United States bringing together many of the usual suspects – advocates of a married priesthood, women’s ordination and gay marriage all

This is being done in the name of a new liberty to vary moral teaching according to local cultural circumstances.

But beware!

One thing which we learned from our captivity in the Church of England, is that such talk is specious. The liberal agenda cannot tolerate the blooming of a hundred flowers, nor a hundred schools of thought contending (as Mao put it).

The advocates of change will be as ‘rigid’ as the most extreme advocates of orthodoxy, once their object is obtained. They are already fashioning a new doctrine of Papal infallibility with which to prosecute their programme.

I am what I am


Much has been written about Pope Francis’s supposed ideology – the ‘Four Principles’; a youthful adherence to Peronism; and a ‘Theology of the People’. Much of this is helpful, but one cannot help suspecting that it rather misses the point.

Bergolgio (and the hyper-Bergoglians, like Cupich) are simply exponents of the current fascination with subjectivism.

People in today’s world, are what they feel. So individuals (including children) can self- designate as male or female at will. ‘Victims’ of rape and sexual abuse are always to be believed, and abusers named and shamed so that other ‘victims’ will come forward. Marriage is defined, not in terms of its biological purpose and public function, but in terms of the sentiments of the participants.

The notion, in the case of re-marriage after divorce, that pastors are to ‘accompany’ couples in a process of ‘discernment’, and that conscience in these matters (as Cardinal Cupich has said) is the very voice of God, is simply of a piece with this modern superstition.  Francis is no more than a child of his time.

Where all this will end, of course, is another matter. What happens when – as Dr Johnson might have put it – the subjectivist stubs his toe against the rock of reality?

Dealing with the fall-out from that inevitable implosion will be the task of the next pontiff.

For the Avoidance of Doubt


Contrary to recent assertions by Cardinal Cupich (in responses to questions following his recent address in Cambridge), a ‘paradigm shift’ (according to Thomas Kuhn, who is credited with coining the phrase) is not a minor change in continuity with the past, but ‘a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline.’

Nor does the notion, in this radical sense, gain any support from Blessed John Henry Newman, who is always careful to distinguish the operation of conscience from the exercise of private judgement, and development from simple mutation.



imagesIn a move which has shocked the Catholic world, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the Vice President of the German Bishops’ Conference, announced today the inauguration of a new body, the German National Catholic Church (DNKK).

Said Bode: ‘The new church is established on the principle that the Spirit of the German People (Volksgeist) and the Spirit of Vatican II (Heiligegeist) are one and the same. The DNKK will maintain its contacts with the rest of the Catholic Church through the Pope, who is designated ex-officio Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference. All pronouncements and encyclicals of the Holy See will be subject, as a matter of course, to redaction by majority decision of the Conference.’

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has worked tirelessly for the establishment of the DNKK, spoke about the ethical dimension which will characterise the new church. ‘Pastors will be encouraged in daring accompaniment of parishioners on their moral pilgrimage. Consensus will grow naturally from case-by-case assessment, under the guidelines set out by my colleague, Cardinal Kasper. We are confident that the DNKK will rapidly become known as the Church of Barmherzigheit.’

The official journal of the DNKK will be a German language version of The Tablet, published simultaneously in London, Chicago and Cologne.

De Profundis


National Housing Federation's annual conference 2013

Dear Frank,

Unless I am much mistaken, this child abuse business is going to bring us both down.

As far as I can see, there is no winning. If you pursue the offender with rigour you are presuming guilt before it has been established, ruining reputations and ignoring due process. If you hold back, you are ignoring the interests of the victim and showing scant compassion and human-kindness.

The problem, of course, is not merely historical. Alleged victims are queueing up for attention. If we are not careful we will be inundated by them.

I will not ask you if you received the letter about Chile. I am in no position to cast stones. But what I have learnt is that you have to be on top of these things from day one. If your policy is zero tolerance, you have to be zero tolerant. At least, unlike you, I am not both legislator and final arbiter.

It is not the way of the pastor. But perhaps we have reached a stage where the only real question is which sexual deviants one is allowed to be pastoral about.

Your colleague in toils,


Bucket List


Memorandum to self:

Things to do before they make me a saint.

  1. Kiss a female Archbishop
  2. Wash the feet of a Muslim
  3. Marry two people on an aeroplane
  4. Solve the China Problem
  5. Visit every S American country except Argentina
  6. Undermine Humanae vitae