Murderous intent

There is only one reason to oppose abortion: which is that a child, once conceived, is a human being, like you and me, endowed with certain inalienable rights, amongst which are ’Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’.

Since this assertion is fundamental and unequivocal, those who hold to it, in the cant phrase of the moment, are called ‘extremists’. And those who think that, in some circumstances (albeit restricted), abortion should be permitted, are called ‘moderates’.  But consider. What are the possible extenuating circumstance which would permit a homicide?

The classic case, of course, is self defence. If you are certain of another’s intent to end your life, you may with impunity, end theirs. But there needs to be no margin of error; and there needs to be obvious intent. Merely brandishing a knife or gun is not evidence enough. Moreover, criminal action by one party (however abhorrent or vicious) would not sanction the murder of a third party, even if the third party could be shown to be implicated in the crime (or somehow responsible for it). To claim such a murder as a compassionate act would be to compound the crime.

Considered in this way, few of the ‘exceptions’ permitting abortion cited by ‘moderates’ bear examination. They are, in most cases, simply a license to kill. But then, such cases are incidental to the basic position of ‘moderates’, who, on further consideration, emerge as the real extremists. Their declared (or often undeclared) premise is that the child in the womb is not a human being, and has none of the attendant rights: not even to Life, much less to ‘Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’.

It is remarkable, in the United States of all places, that so-called ‘extremists’ and so-called ‘moderates’ should presently be engaged in a legal battle to the death. And that accusations of racism should have featured in that struggle. The country which fought to end slavery and gave the world a resounding declaration of human dignity, demeans itself by such a wrangle. 

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

PS. There is no need to bring God into all this (though, of course, Thomas Jefferson did so, in his Deist way). The arguments against abortion are able to stand by themselves. ‘We hold these truths to be self- evident’.


As books about the thought of Pope Francis multiply, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana announces the first in a series which will explain key terms in the theology of Francis.

Said Fr Antonio Spadaro: ‘Some have written-off the Holy Father’s thinking as impromptu and off-the-cuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. This series will reveal the profundity of his reflections and the sophistication of his language. Never a word is deployed casually or without deep premeditation, because Pope Francis knows that his every dictum is Magisterium’.

The first volume of the series is devoted to a complex inter-relationship of ideas and concepts which is at the heart of the Holy Father’s thinking about the nature and future of the Church: ‘evangelisation’,  ‘proselytism’ and ‘apologetics’. Many have asked what Pope Francis means by these terms.  Are they the same thing? Does it matter? To the current debate, this series will bring long-awaited clarity.

With a foreword by Cardinal Walter ‘Barmherzigkeit’ Kaspet in every volume, these books are essential reading for everyone who wants to be part of the ‘Francis Revolution’.

Frustrated of Canterbury

Dear Frank,

It has, I know, been a long time since I wrote; but how are things? In particular, I was wondering how you are getting on with women deacons. I know you are keen.

Perhaps it will surprise you that I am getting markedly less enthusiastic about WO. I have to say that it is proving more of a hassle than I expected. The women bishops, in particular, are dead set on gay marriage and all things LGBTQ+. I suppose one should have expected it. But it creates such unnecessary headaches with the Global South contingent.

We have a thing called the Anglican Consultative Council, at meetings of which (in some inconveniently distant part of the world) I have to listen to the regressive opinions of a whole bunch of African undesirables. All they want is for things not to change – like your rigid lot. And we seem unable to convince them that in the modern world no-change is not an option.  

‘To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often’. ( We must be pretty close to perfection by now!) You can’t imagine how frequently I tell them so. But they are fixated by something they call ‘The Faith once delivered’. I just don’t understand it.

If only I were infallible, like you, or if only we Anglicans had something like your Magisterium. Instead we have to put everything to a vote and include a whole bunch of reactionaries in the counting. Like you, I see myself as a moderate, but I tell you, these reactionaries get me riled.

Why can’t everyone be wise, conciliatory and progressive, like us?

 Your frustrated friend,


Disappointed of Limerick

The Irish Association of Catholic Priests (‘representing over 1,000 priests’) has written a tetchy letter condemning Pope Francis’s latest statement on women deacons.  Of course, everyone is familiar with catholic priests (usually of a certain age) who spend their time noisily dissociating themselves from the perennial teachings of the Church. But these Irish clergy reveal what is becoming a familiar sentiment among the disaffected: disappointment with Francis.

 “We had come to expect reactions like this from previous Popes, but we thought Francis was different, and consequently our disappointment is greater.”

Why the anger? Francis, after all, was only relaying the conclusions of a commission set up to report on the matter. Its opinions were inconclusive.  But historical evidence is irrelevant to these people. Theirs is an ethical a priori position, as they go on to make plain.

Francis’s statement, they claim, “confirms that women are not good enough” and that in the eyes of the official Church, “men are more worthy than women.”

“It confirms that the Church continues to be a clerical hierarchical patriarchy. It confirms that injustice is built into the heart of the Church. This is an enormous blow to reforming the Church and bringing it into the 21st Century.” 

Against such assertions no argument will stand.

Striking Gesture

It was announced today by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in the Frauenkische in Munich, that the entire German Conference of Bishops will be on strike indefinitely from May 23.

This strike, in favour of the ordination of women to the priesthood, will see a cessation of all episcopal activity throughout Germany. It will be catastrophic for the life of the Church. There will be no more ‘initiatives’ on matters of social concern, no more unilateral assertions of regional autonomy.

Individual bishops are expressing their solidarity with the movement in different ways. Cardinal Marx will go on hunger strike in his cathedral. Cardinal Walter Kasper will follow a hallowed German tradition by burning his own books in Nuremburg. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück is to swim naked in the Rhine, accompanied by a posse of young ‘Rheintöchter’.

Said a spokesperson for the bishops’ Conference: ‘Germans have for too long put up with the negative and dictatorial attitudes of Rome and the Curia. This Pope is open-minded. Together we can bring about the changes Germany demands – women priests, gay marriage, censure-free adultery.’

For the duration of the protest bishops will set aside their traditional dress and wear lederhosen throughout.   The Kirchensteuer will not be affected.

Peace in our time?

Is there a Catholic view on Brexit? Pope Francis and friends seem to think so.

It is, as you might have predicted, all about climate change and modern slavery. We need supranational authorities, they are telling us, to combat the prevailing evils of the modern world and to avoid a recurrence of the devastating wars of the last century.  

The Pontifical Institute for Social Sciences held an international conference charmingly titled: ‘Nation, State, Nation-State.’ (Pontifical Institutes have been very busy of late.) Its message was little short of apocalyptic: “The world is facing today a growing threat of nationalist revival. Exclusivist national ideology leads to mutual rejection and enduring conflicts.” (But then, apocalyptic announcements are flavour of the month just now, especially from the lips of babes and sucklings)

In a recent address Bergoglio adopted the opaque language which characterises these people. We need, he claimed, “to move history by re-launching multilateralism, which is opposed both to new nationalistic pressures and to hegemonic politics.”

QED: Nation states bad; EU good. The emotional appeal was provided by Francis; but the script was by Walter Kasper.

All this, of course, is to miss the historical point. The destructive agent which stalked Europe in the last two centuries was not nationalism, but the ghost of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon and Hitler were not patriots. They were egomaniacs striving to inherit the mantle* of Charlemagne. They strove to establish a European Union of their very own.

And the patriotic British strove to defeat them.

*strictly speaking the Crown.
Though the crown of the Holy Roman Empire was tenaciously retained in the Hofburg, Wilhelm II demanded it, and when refused had a copy made for himself. Napoleon copied more of the regalia: the crown and the two scepters. (The scepters can be seen in Ingres’ famous painting, based on God the Father in van Eyck’s Ghent altarpiece.)

French Empire in 1812


The attempt to portray Pope Francis as a cutting edge intellectual is remorseless.

Just when you thought the eleven booklets on ‘The Theology of Pope Francis’ had sunk without trace, they re-emerge as ‘The Theological Seeds of Francis’ – note the less-than-subtle difference.

The books were re-launched at a symposium, called “Theology and Magisterium in the Church with Pope Francis,” on May 8 at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It was, as you might expect, an occasion for sycophantic appreciation of the depth and originality of Francis’s thinking.

But, sotto voce, even the sycophancy had its reservations. “The ease with which the texts and documents of Pope Francis can be read must not fool people or lead them to hurried conclusions,” said Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Right on, Walter! But there is something we might otherwise have missed: “His thought is not at all improvised, but the fruit of a deep and lively theological reflection drawn from his experience as a pastor and theologian.”

Others saw the ‘improvisation’ as the beginnings of a revolutionary theological development.  Father Maurizio Gronchi, professor of Christology at the Urbaniana Pontifical University, the impact of Francis’s style could be compared to the 13th century introduction in Italy of the Dolce Stil Nuovo .“Francis’s approach is elliptic”, he went on, “and gravitates around two permanent hearts, the heart of man and the heart of the gospel.”

Recent critics of Francis came in for a blistering attack from Pierangelo Sequeri, one of the curators of the new books and Director of the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II. “Those who always repeat the same old song don’t honour the revelation,” he said, in a hardly pellucid musical analogy, “but those who think that everything you play is music, are greatly mistaken….The world of ecclesiastical chatter is inhabited by weak nobodies who act as if they are Pope Gregory the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura.”

The last word in all this pretentious tosh must, however, go to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops (who else?):

“Pope Francis is the pope, and when he speaks it’s magisterium,”