Sunday, 30 June 2013

Gillard's shameful last act: RU 486 subsidized

I stand by my view that Julia Gillard wasn't toppled for views on abortion - her assassins after all included people like lesbian radical feminist Senator Penny Wong (though maybe her vote was bought by the prospect of getting 'married').

But maybe there was some divine retribution involved, likely with more to come, given that her shameful last act as Prime Minister was to approval the listing of abortion drug RU 486 on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The Courier Mail reports (a mantilla twirl in the direction of Fr Sharp):

JULIA Gillard's last act as prime minister included signing off on cabinet approval for slashing the cost of abortion pill RU486 to as little as $12.

Listing the abortion drug on the taxpayer-funded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will see the price of a medical abortion in Australia drop from up to $800 to just $12 for concession card holders from August 1.

Women not eligible for concessions will pay around $70 under the PBS....

Latin prayer of the week: The Angelus

A couple of weeks back in this Year of Faith series I looked at the Ave Maria - that done we can now look at some of the prayers that employ it, starting today with the Angelus.

A lost tradition?

Despite the fact that the Angelus was commended by both Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, it has largely died out in most places (though being revived in schools in some dioceses at least).

Yet this beautiful prayer celebrating the Incarnation is traditionally prayed (outside of Eastertide) when the Church bell tolls three times at 6am, noon and 6pm.

The current form of the Angelus dates back to the seventeenth century, but the idea of praying three Hail Mary's at these times was a widespread practice from the eleventh century onwards.  The morning prayer originates in monastic practice, with the ringing of the bell for Prime; the lunchtime invocation was introduced by Pope Callistus III (1455-1458) as a prayer for protection against the Turkish invasions of his time (and could readily be modernised as a prayer against modern day Islamic terrorism), while the evening prayer was originally introduced in support of the Crusades (for the protection of pilgrim access to the Holy Land).

The text

The text of the Angelus as given the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is as follows:

Ángelus Dómini nuntiávit Maríæ.
Et concépit de Spíritu Sancto.

Ave, María...

Ecce ancílla Dómini.
Fiat mihi secúndum verbum tuum.

Ave, María...

Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitávit in nobis.

Ave, María...

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei génetrix.
Ut digni efficiámur promissiónibus Christi.


Grátiam tuam, quæsumus,
Dómine, méntibus nostris infúnde;
ut qui, Ángelo nuntiánte,
Christi Fílii tui incarnatiónem cognóvimus,
per passiónem eius et crucem,
ad resurrectiónis glóriam perducámur.

Per eúndem Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Glória Patri...

You can hear it said aloud in Latin here.
And the translation given in the Compendium is:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary.

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray;

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. 

Glory be to the Father...

Looking at the Latin

Here is a word by word literal translation of the invocations:

Ángelus (the angel) Dómini (of the Lord) nuntiávit (declared) Maríæ (to Mary).
Et (and) concépit (she conceived) de (of) Spíritu (the Spirit) Sancto (Holy).

Ecce (Behold) ancílla (the handmaid) Dómini (of the Lord).
Fiat (Let it be done) mihi (to me) secúndum (according to) verbum (the word) tuum (your).

Et (And) Verbum (the Word) caro (flesh) factum est (he is made).
Et (and ) habitávit (he dwelt/lived) in (among) nobis (us).

The prayer is normally said, often silently, rather than sung, still, this sung version is rather nice (though you might pray for the reconciliation of the nuns with the Church as they appear to be schismatics!).

***Curial reform about to hit? Emergency meeting of Cardinals on now...Updated

Michael Voris reports...

***Update: While rumours of major new Curial appointments continue to circulate, it now seems that there were two (other) possible things that the Pope may have been discussing: (yet more) claims of a paedophile circle in the Vatican, and (yet another) corruption scandal involving the Vatican Bank.

The latest claims of paedophile ring operating in the Vatican have, temporarily at least, come to a grinding halt with the arrest of the accuser by the Italian police for slander motivated by revenge.

The financial scandal, however, seems to be gathering steam with the arrest of a priest attempting to smuggle millions of dollars, and the establishment of a new investigatory commission by Pope Francis.

Pelagianism vs Augustinianism: Taking the Old Testament seriously?

In an entertaining exchange on a recent post, a correspondent has been attempting to defend modern day Pelagianism (condemned by the Pope recently), arguing that the current renewed enthusiasm for Augustinianism has been destructive for morality, and leads to a failure to take the Old Testament seriously.

So I thought it might be worth setting out a little context for the debate and a response by way of a commentary by St Ambrose on today's (traditional) Matins reading (2 Samuel).


The first problem is one of terminology.

Pelagianism (and the 'semi-Pelagianism' that St Augustine battled against) is, strictly speaking a condemned heresy that was popular in fifth century Britain.  It involves the denial of original sin and the necessity of grace.

A nice summation of the counter view to Pelagianism, reflecting the text of the Council of Orange (529) is contained in St Benedict's Rule, in the Tools of Good Works, where he urges us to "To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself.   But to recognize always that the evil is one's own doing, and to impute it to oneself."

It is not, however, clear, as Dallas Area Catholic points out, that this is the sense that the Pope means when he talks about modern day Pelagianism, which he equates with excessive rigorism and joylessness.

He suggests that the Pope is, perhaps, condemning the idea that one can work one's way to heaven (does he think the SSPX are saying that x thousand rosaries will earn their way out of virtual schism and back into the Church rather than understanding that they are praying for Rome to repent?!), without the need for grace and charity. And of course, that the same idea does, in my view at least, have a certain resonance with the ideology that underpins unfettered Ayn Rand style capitalism.

St Augustine's response

Is Augustinianism the opposite of and only counter to Pelagianism?  Well no.

It is certainly true that those early Councils and papal documents endorsed St Augustine's demolition of Pelagianism.

But that doesn't necessarily mean we have to accept all of the philosophical premises of St Augustine's system taken to their logical conclusion.

Augustinianism has a been given a new lease of life in recent times, not least by Pope Benedict XVI, but there are several other, perfectly orthodox schools of thought have developed in the Church on the nature of grace, most notably in the form of  the Dominican school (Thomism-Banez) and the competing Jesuit (Molina-Suarez) view.

The upshot of that particular seventeenth century debate was that both schools were allowed to persist: the Pope of the day forbade the Jesuits from calling the Dominicans Calvinists, and the Dominicans from calling the Jesuits Pelagians.  Accordingly, there is a certain irony in Jesuit Pope apparently labelling modern day traditionalists as Pelagians...

Taking the Old Testament seriously?

So do you really need to be a Pelagian to take the Old Testament seriously as poster Mr Jordan claims?  Of course not!

The Old Testament, for Christians, needs to be read in the light of the new, and in the light of the Tradition of the Church.

A very nice example of the different approaches possible on this subject is reflected in the commentary by St amborse (St Augustine's teacher) provided in the Benedictine Office on today's readings for Matins, 2 Samuel 12, where the prophet Nathan takes King David to task for his adultery with Bethsheba and murder of her husband:

"...The next few verses in the Bible describe, very touchingly, the conduct of David on the occasion and, afterwards, how Solomon was born of Bathsheba. David composed the Miserere during his repentance. In how many things doth each one of us transgress every hour! And nevertheless not one of all us common men thinketh it well to confess his sin. Yet that strong and great King would not suffer the acknowledgment of his iniquity to remain, even for a moment, hidden in his own heart. With eager confession and bitter sorrow, he admitted that he had sinned against the Lord. Which of you will easily find me now some honoured and wealthy person, who will not take it ill if I rebuke him for a fault whereof he is guilty? But David, amid the splendours of a throne and' the certainty of Divine revelations, when he was rebuked by one of his subjects for his grievous transgression, was not roused to anger, but contrariwise, acknowledged his sin with groans and affliction.

The heart-felt sorrow of David moved the Lord to compassion, so that Nathan said Because thou hast repented, the Lord also hath put away thy sin. The instant gift of pardon declareth the depth of the King's repentance, which was able to obtain the forgiveness of so grievous a transgression. Other men, when they be rebuked of Priests, do but aggravate the heinousness of their sins by the seeking to deny or to excuse them, and thereby make deeper their fall by means of that which should have helped them up. But the saints of the Lord who will to fight a good fight of godliness unto the end and to finish their course by saving their souls, howbeit, they may perchance have fallen like other men, have done so rather through man's weakness than through lust for iniquity, and rise more eager to go on than before. Shame goadeth them on to fly at higher things. So that not only is their fall to be reckoned to have nowise hampered them, but rather to have quickened their speed.

David sinned; and so oftentimes do other kings. David repented with groaning and tears; and so do not oftentimes other kings. He admitted his guilt; he implored forgiveness; he cast himself down upon the ground, and there wept over his crime; he fasted; he prayed; by publishing his sorrow he left an everlasting witness of his acknowledgment. What meaner men blush to do, the King was not ashamed to own. They who are answerable to law are bold to deny their crimes, and too haughty to ask pardon. Not so he, though he could be haled before no earthly judgment-seat. That he sinned was a matter flowing from his nature; that he asked for pardon, his own repentance. To fall is common to all men, but his confession was his own. To transgress thus was nature; to efface his guilt, greatness.

Debate if you will, the nature of the grace that David received in order to make such a heartfelt confession!

Confession before Eucharist!

And not entirely unrelated to this, St Ambrose's commentary is also used at Matins on the Gospel today, the feeding of the four thousand, I suspect because he provides a nice link between the Old Testament reading on the necessity of confession and repentance, and the New, on the Eucharist:

"After that that woman, who is a type of the Church, was healed of the issue of blood Luke viii. 43-48; after that the Lord had sent His disciples to preach the kingdom of God ix. 2, His heavenly tenderness gave food. But consider who they were unto whom He gave it. He gave it not to such as dwell at ease, not to men in cities, not to such as sit in places of worldly splendour, but to men seeking Christ in a desert place. Such as are not given to niceness are they whom Christ receiveth, and unto whom the Word of God speaketh, not of earthly things, but of the kingdom of God 11. And if any bear in them the running sores of fleshly passion, He healeth them."

Friday, 28 June 2013

Gillard ousted for pro-abortion speech? It's a nice fantasy but...

There have been a number of stories on blogs around the world claiming that Julia Gillard's ouster as Prime Minister was a response to her pro-abortion speech at the 'Women for Gillard' launch.

Lifesite's disingenuous reporting

I normally like Lifesite News.  But its report on this subject is totally disingenuous, particularly given its lauding of Opposition leader Mr 'Safe, Legal and Rare' Abbott, draws the moral that "Once again, it has been shown that being pro-abortion is not a vote winner in Australian politics."

It's a nice fantasy.

Unfortunately it just doesn't reflect reality in my view.

Ms Gillard's speech certainly didn't help her cause.

But surely wasn't really because it outraged the pro-life sentiments of Australians.

Rather, it was because it was seen even by most of Australia's hard core feminists as a cynical, clumsy and desperate last-ditch effort to capitalise on the one issue that had actually played well for her in the media, namely the rude and sexist treatment of her by many.   Most feminists felt her speech, endlessly mocked for its reference to men wearing blue ties (which amounts to pretty much all of them on both sides of politics!) undermined the cause rather than helped it.    


Here is the thing.

Ms Gillard got the chop because her party was set to be annihilated in the upcoming Federal election.

And the man who made Mr Rudd's coup possible, Bill Shorten MP (who also knifed Rudd in the previous coup), though a Catholic is seemingly pro-abortion - indeed his wife was one of the lead players in the Woman for Gillard/Emily's List push.

Ms Gillard is indeed pro-abortion, agnostic and unmarried/living in sin (though opposed to same-sex 'marriage').

But that wasn't what lost her the support of the party or the Australian public.

After all, for all the claimed conservatism on abortion in Australia, it is legal in every State, subsidised under (Federal) Medicare, and some States, like Ms Gillard's home state of Victoria, allow late term abortions with no conscience exemption for medical professionals.

Moreover, her official opponent, Mr Abbott, has in recent months, in order to establish his credentials with women, undertaken not to change the law on abortion and other related subjects (indeed it seems he has given active support to the use of IVF 'treatment' by his staff).

No, Ms Gillard got the chop because she could not get any traction with the public on her broader policy agenda, and just wasn't seen as effective against Opposition leader Abbott, and every attempt to change her image seemed to flop.

The classic example of mixed messages was the pro-abortion speech in the same week she was photographed in a soft styled domestic scene, knitting a present for the soon to come royal baby!

That 70s stuff

It is true though, that Ms Gillard seemed to represent an outdated paradigm for Labor.

Under her leadership, they tried a number of old-style 70s plays - old-style class warfare, propping up Australia's failed car manufacturing sector and more.  The old style feminism 'hands off my body' speech was just one more predictable line from the same songbook.

It was, apart from anything else, a rejection of the legacy of the reforming Hawke/Keating years.

It will be interesting to see if apostate gay-marriage supporter Mr Rudd can do any better in selling a Labor values package.

He didn't last time around, managing to lose the media war on what should have been a no-brainer on a super-profits tax on the mining sector.

And this time around he will have to contend with the outrage felt by many women at Gillard's dumping who may not have liked her much, or agreed with her on abortion, but certainly did find some resonance with her comments about sexism in Australia.

The joy of being a Catholic...

Pope Francis' latest weekday sermon is on those who claim to be Christians but lack joy.

Rigidity vs joy?

According to Vatican Radio he said:

"There are people who "masquerade as Christians," and sin by being excessively superficial or overly rigid, forgetting that a true Christian is a person of joy who rests their faith on the rock of Christ. Some think they can be Christian without Christ; others think being Christian means being in a perpetual state mourning...

Rigid and sad. [He goes on to identify this as Pelagianism, but it sounds more like he is talking about the Jansenism to me?] Or happy but with no idea of ​​Christian joy. [He labels this gnosticism, a tendency only too evident amongst liberals caught up in the secularist pursuit of pleasure at any cost] These are two - in a sense opposite - "houses", in which two categories of believers live and which are both seriously flawed: they are grounded in a Christianity made of words and fail to rely on the "rock" of the Word of Christ. Pope Francis identified both groups in his comments on the Gospel of the day, the famous passage from Matthew of the houses built on sand and rock.

"In the history of the Church there have been two classes of Christians: Christians of words - those" Lord, Lord, Lord "- and Christians of action, in truth. There has always been the temptation to live our Christianity not on the rock that is Christ. The only one who gives us the freedom to say 'Father' to God is Christ, our rock. He is the only one who sustains us in difficult times, no? As Jesus said: the rain falls, rivers overflow, winds blow, but the rock is safe, words, the words take flight, they are not needed. But this is the temptation of these Christians of words, of a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And this has happened and is happening today in the Church: being Christians without Christ. "

..Pope Francis continued that the fact is that there “are so many” of these Christians. But, he argued, "they are not Christians, they disguise themselves as Christians." "They do not know – he added - what the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, do not have the freedom of Christians. To put it simply ‘they have no joy ":

Ode to joy

Perhaps that was the reason the Ode to Joy, embedded in Beethoven's famous Ninth Symphony was chosen to feature at a certain Roman concert to celebrate the Year of Faith.

Enjoy and celebrate your faith!

Curial homosexual scandal comes to the front: what was Pope Francis' confab about?

I pointed a day or so back to Michael Voris' report on an apparent emergency meeting of Curial Cardinals.

Most of us presumed the outcome of it was the appointment of a new Commission to inquire into the ever troubled Vatican Bank.

But it seems there is another contender for Papal attention at the moment, in the form of a breaking homosexual prostitution scandal that is alleged to take in a number of high ranking curia officials.

More from Mr Voris:

You can also read more over at Rorate Caeli.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cardinal Pell: What the Vatican needs is more typists?!

Cardinal Pell, currently in Roman on a sabbatical has given a new interview to Vatican Insider on Curial reform.

In it, he repeats that unfortunate line used to explain the Pope's absence from a concert arranged for the Year of Faith, that Pope Francis "doesn’t want the Vatican to be seen as a Renaissance court or even an 18th century court".  The sentiment itself is fine - but repeating it after the phrase was used as an excuse for why the Pope didn't turn up at the last minute for an important event is, to say the least, unfortunate.

But of most interest will surely be the Cardinal's ideas on what needs to be done by way of reform of the Curia.

Bring back the typing pool!

Journalist Gerald O'Connell asked:

You are one of the eight cardinal advisors of Pope Francis. What are the two or three main reforms that you would really like to see done in the Vatican now?

The Cardinal apparently replied:

Well I come from the English speaking world, where we are a non-imaginative, practical lot so rather than starting with a grand re-configuration of the Curia - which incidentally I think to some significant extent will happen, I think we should try to look at particular problems such as, for example, do we have enough typists in the Vatican?  How many people with doctorates are spending their time typing?  Now that’s only one small example of the practical problems that exist today.

The Vatican: Yesterday's Technology Today!

Seems like Fr Z's has summation of the Vatican's standard approach as 'Yesterday's technology tomorrow' still has some champions.

In fact probably lots of them given the breathless tone of this VIS item today announcing that the Vatican has discovered the idea of electronic video files:

"...Vatican Television is in the process of completely digitizing its television signals.... 

The new, technologically advanced structure will allow the transformation into and usage of the signals as “files”, with clear advantages for their exchange and storage.

The entire process, from shooting, to editing, to archiving, will become “tapeless”, that is, without the use of the magnetic tapes that are still the weak point in the creation and maintenance of valuable archives such as Vatican Television's, which holds 30 years of images from the pontificates of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis...."

***Pope Francis releases handwritten document

And if you were in any doubt about the Vatican's Luddite tendencies, starting at the very top, get this - the document commissioning a group to inquire into the Vatican Bank was released in the Pope's own handwriting!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

KRudd madness...he's back!***

***Update: The Australian Labor Party has a new leader, Kevin Rudd.

That means that Julia Gillard will resign her commission as Prime Minister.

As the Labor Government is a minority Government, it is not automatically the case that Mr Rudd will be Prime Minister - that is a matter for the Governor-General, who will have to decide whether he has the support of the House.  That could be tested tomorrow morning when the Parliament is scheduled to resume sitting.


The media reported this morning that a Caucus petition for a leadership spill is circulating amongst Labor, spurred by MPs worried about the prospect of a catastrophic election defeat in September.

Utter madness!

Yes Labor is going to lose (bar a miracle).

But will it gain any seats with dumped Prime Minister Rudd back?

Personally I don't think so.

I think the polls showing he would win will turn out to be a mirage, since the problem is not just that the leader of the party is on the nose with the electorate, but rather that the Labor Party is.

All the polls really reflect is that disenchantment.

The Government does have some policy wins on the board.  But the stuff ups  - many of them dating from the Rudd era (pink batts anyone?) - still cloud the air.

And Labor is seen, as Greg Jericho commented this morning as Government that has failed to live up to its moral principles (whether you agree with them or not) on areas like refugees, single mothers and others.  Of course Rudd was no better he was ousted in part due to his failure to act on the 'greatest moral challenge of our time', viz climate change, and has since signalled he will swing his vote behind same sex 'marriage'.

Labor is seen as an incompetent Government.  Sure Ms Gillard has personally contributed to that image with some particularly foolish decisions and spectacularly poor political judgment reflected in things like that speech (putting abortion on the table).  But as Opposition Leader Mr Abbott will surely point out, Mr Rudd was no better, and that he was why he was ousted in the first place.

And let's imagine Rudd did manage to get elected.  Can Labor survive another round of his narcissism?

What should they do?

Despite the media agitation, it is far too late now for Labor to change leaders, even for a third party like up and comer Bill Shorten.

So in an ideal world someone would tell the Rudd supporters to pull their heads in, stop him from campaigning in their electorates, stop feeding the media, and focus on doing what they can to position the party for a recovery after the election.

Janet Albrechtsen wrote a piece in the Australian yesterday suggesting that Rudd should be expelled from the Party for his sabotage efforts.  Much as I like the idea, given the small but loud faction of Rudd supporters amongst MPs, that would probably split the party even further.

But another option might be national intervention to disendorse him from his seat.

The media are the ones who should be sacked!

The other dimension of this latest round of madness that really does need to be addressed is the shameful standard of the media coverage of the whole event.

Last time around, Rudd supporters claimed they had the numbers - and a candidate. When both things proved untrue you might have hoped the media would learn the lesson and focus instead on reporting real news, like helping us to understand whether or not the claims of administrative incompetence, unfair negotiation tactics with the States are true, and looking at the actual merits of the two parties policies.

Instead, they've fuelled the fire once more.

Fortunately, there is twitter.  Here is a selection of the best:

Mark Simkin on ABC reports that the Rudd people have got everything completely organised and nailed down except a definite candidate

Petition: To replace the ALP parliamentary leader with, ☐ Julia Gillard ☐ Kevin Rudd ☐ Bill Shorten ☐ Mad Max ☑ Drover's Dog

If Rudd elected expect resignations from the whole cabinet, all of DFAT and RAAF flight attendants.

**Voting tonight 7pm.

Ms Gillard has once again acted decisively to cut off the speculation and called on a vote.  She has also made a commitment to retire from politics should she lose, and obtained an undertaking to the same effect from Mr Rudd, thus hopefully ending the ongoing destabilisation once and for all.

 My prediction: Gillard loses, Rudd can't get the numbers on the floor of the house due to a lack of support from the Independents, and so Abbott becomes Caretaker PM with an election called immediately...(well OK, maybe I just don't want to see KRudd back under any circumstances!).

Fr Lucas should stand aside as General Secretary to the ACBC

Earlier this week, the CEO of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conferences' (ACBC) Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, gave a promising speech on the Church's approach to the Royal Commission.

In it, he spoke of an undertaking 'not to let the victims down', and to ensure the Church did 'the right thing'.

He also spoke of the need for the Church 'to match words with actions'.

That commitment now has a chance to be put to the test, in the light of evidence given to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Inquiry into child abuse that names Fr Brian Lucas, General Secretary of the ACBC, as a participant in the cover-up of child abuse there.

Fr Lucas should surely be stood aside pending resolution of this claim.

Fr Lucas knew?

The big story in the media today is evidence given at yesterday claiming that Fr Brian Lucas, currently General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, had confessed, in internal documents to knowing about the activities of a paedophile priest and doing nothing.

The evidence was given by the journalist who was primarily responsible for the establishment of the Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the Police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and based on internal Church documents she had obtained.

She claimed that senior church officials had had knowledge of many of the numerous cases of paedophile priests in that diocese (the numbers amount to around 10% of priests of the diocese), and that far from acting to stop them, diocesan officials had alerted the priests to the police investigations allowing them to evade prosecution.

Dealing with the accusation

According to the Newcastle Herald, Father Lucas made a brief comment to the Herald last night saying:

"I'll deal with this in front of Commissioner Cunneen."

Is that really a sufficient response at this point?

This is a very serious accusation, and it appears to be backed up by documentation.

Fr Lucas is in a very senior position, influencing the handling of the Royal Commission by the Church and much more.

In my view, he should be suspended from his current duties pending a resolution of this claim.

And frankly, regardless of the outcome of this particular case, it is surely time for him to move on from the job given the continuing string of cases he has clearly been involved in handling, such as the Fr F affair.  Fr Lucas was also one of those responsible for developing the clearly failed, at least in the eyes of the victims, 'Towards Healing' process.

In his speech last Saturday to the St Thomas More Society, Mr Sullivan of the ACBC's Truth, Justice and Healing Council acknowledged the problems with the current system, and said that:

"We need to put in place better systems, processes, redress and contrition that says, in one way or another – you are damaged, we believe you, we are sorry, we want to help you heal and we are working to try to make sure that what you went through never happens again...

Many survivors struggle with building trust having been betrayed as children by the very people they depended on: priests, brothers, teachers, family members – people who should have protected and cared for them but ultimately betrayed and damaged them."

Mr Sullivan noted that the Churches recent history in this area is not one to be proud of:

"Priests and members of religious orders have been jailed. More have died without facing a court or being brought to justice.

And at the same time there continues to be thousands of victims prepared to stand up and tell their stories. Stories of being dismissed, threatened, ignored and treated as the guilty by past Church authorities.

Before I go any further I want to make one thing very clear. The approach the Church takes to dealing with clerical sexual abuse now is dramatically different to its approach prior to 1996 and as it evolved over the course of a decade or so prior to that.

Many things have changed for the better – this needs to be acknowledged and I will come to this shortly. And that’s a long way from saying there are not many more things that need to change – because there are.

But the fact is our history has not been good."

If the Church is truly to move forward and face the Royal Commission frankly, it needs to put some distance between it and all those with a vested interest in defending the past.

Currently Fr Lucas is scheduled to give evidence on 10 July; (former Ordinary) Bishop Michael Malone on July 5&8.  Archbishop Wilson (now of Adelaide), who has previously refused to co-operate with police inquiries, will give his evidence in camera, a process the Inquiry's website explains will be used 'so as not to prejudice any potential future criminal proceedings or influence any evidence witnesses might give at any such proceedings'.

Towards Truth, Justice and Healing?

Mr Sullivan's speech acknowledged, for the first time as far as I can see from an official viewpoint, a number of key issues that I've previously flagged on this blog.

He acknowledged that while some in the Church see the media focus on child abuse in the Church as a biased, a clear majority of Catholic Mass attendees think their reporting of the abuse crisis is not unfair.  There is a  basic lesson in this that the Church has yet to learn (in either Australia or the US) in my view, namely if you want to lead in a counter-cultural way, don't give them any legitimate excuses to attack you.

Mr Sullivan acknowledged the lack of transparency and accountability, stating that:

"As it stands there are no reliable national figures available yet, on the incidence and handling of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia."

Work is underway, he said, to compile statistics on key questions like how many people have come forward to the Church with allegations of sexual assault and how many priests, brothers, nuns and lay workers were involved?

He also acknowledged the cultural issues that have allowed the problem to continue:

"We have to examine a culture which has allowed secrecy and silence, intimidation, legalism and obfuscation to let sexual abuse happen.

We have to look at clericalism and power."


Strangely, the story doesn't feature on Cath News today, rating only a paragraph at the bottom of another story and not mentioning Fr Lucas' name!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Latin prayer of the week: Ave Maria

Looking through the list of prayers I've put up, I notice I haven't yet looked at probably the most popular Catholic prayer of all, the Ave Maria (Hail Mary).

Why is this prayer so quintessentially Catholic?

This one of those prayers that many protestants baulk at, but it is not at all obvious, at least at first glance, just why: the first part is Scriptural, after all, while the second half (which dates from the fifteenth century) simply asks Mary to pray for us.

True, it accords her the important title 'Mother of God'.  But that is a title that dates from the earliest liturgies and prayers we have, dating back even to the first century AD, and confirmed at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

And the intercession of the saints in heaven for us is again perfectly Scriptural after all (see especially the Book of Revelation)!

I suspect the real reason is the reference of asking her aid at the hour of our deaths.  In Catholic belief after all, we are not guaranteed salvation from the moment we profess Christ, but rather must struggle to grow in holiness, and pray for the special grace of final perseverance.  That's an uncomfortable reminder for us all that even the most saintly seeming person can yet fail at the end; how much easier to adopt that simplistic Calvinist concept of predestination!

Indeed, its current form seems to have been a direct response to the swirling currents of protestantism for, although the sentiments of the second half of the prayer can be found separately in earlier versions of the prayer, it was not brought together until the sixteenth century, around the time of the Council of Trent.  It current form was settled when it was included in the Catechism of Trent in 1566 and the Roman Breviary in 1568.

The text

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the Latin as follows:

Ave, María, grátia plena,
Dóminus tecum.
Benedícta tu in muliéribus,
et benedíctus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta María, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatóribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostræ.

You can hear it read aloud here.

And the translation given in the Compendium is:

Hail, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Looking at the Latin

Ave (hail), María (Mary), grátia (grace) plena (full),
Dóminus (the Lord) tecum (with you).
Benedícta (Blessed) tu (you) in (in/amongst) muliéribus (women),
et (and) benedíctus (blessed) fructus (the fruit) ventris (of the womb) tui (yours), Iesus.
Sancta (Holy) María (Mary), Mater (Mother) Dei (of God),
ora (pray) pro (for) nobis (us) peccatóribus (sinners),
nunc (now) et (and) in (in) hora (the hour) mortis (of death) nostræ (our).

Friday, 14 June 2013

Respect for others: the fightback begins?**

The last week has been a fairly bizarre one in Australian politics, with accusations of sexism flowing freely, and plenty of evidence of it showing to boot in things like menugate, wherein a menu for Liberal a fundraising dinner made lewd and crude remarks about the Prime Minister .

But there do finally seem to be signs of a turn around.

Not before time.

First, the Chief of the Army, in response to the latest case of scandalous sex videos circulating, put out a strong video message to the troops demanding that women in the ranks be accorded due respect.

**Interestingly, the excellent New Advent has put the video up under the headline "Watch closely, Catholic leaders: Australian Chief of Army demonstrates how you address sex abuse"!

And now shock jock Howard Sattler has been sacked after an interview where he asked truly outrageous questions of the Prime Minister.

Not before time!

Respect for the Office of PM

The Sattler Interview - questioning Ms Gillard about the sexuality of her partner - was such as shocker that even notorious offenders in their own way, such as Derryn Hinch and Andrew Bolt demanded action against him.

Nor was it first offence.

But of course that hasn't stopped many other radio and television personalities surviving not dissimilar attacks on Gillard, the Royals, Aboriginal footballers and innocent members of the public in recent times.

So good to see that this time real action has been taken.

Defence leadership at last

In the wake of the latest sex scandal in the defence forces, Army Chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison is being hailed as an 'unlikely feminist hero' for a tough talking video that tells those involved  to uphold the values of the organisation or get out.

I can't see that his comments have anything to do with feminism as such myself.

In fact, as far as I can see he is just asking for basic principles of human dignity to be respected.

He says, for example:

"No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honours the traditions of the Australian Army," he says in the video posted on the Department of Defence website.

"Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army."

Seems to me more like appropriate leadership.

True, he does defend the role of women in the Defence Force.  But the reality is that women have served in pretty much every war Australia has fought in, from the Boer War onwards.  Whatever you think of the latest moves to allow women to take combat roles, that can surely not be an excuse for circulating sex videos or raping people!

Indeed, that he should be hailed this way just for saying what surely needed to be said indicates just how low our society has sunk, and for that the blame must surely be sheeted home to leaders at all levels of society.

Over the last year we've seen a series of stories about outrageous misbehaviour - sexist and racist comments, shameless and demeaning exploitation of others for commercial gain, and worse - from media shockjocks, sports stars, CEOs of companies and more.

And nowhere does the rubber hit the road more than when it comes to politics.

The tenets of democracy

Politics has always been a fairly robust arena, and colourful insults more applauded than not.  Who can ever forget, for example, Paul Keating's 'unrepresentative swill' of  the Senate (and doesn't the epithet still fit!) insult, or the souffle that doesn't rise twice (on Peacock)?

Yet despite all the vaudeville, both sides back then, in the main at least, still exhibited a certain respect for each other, and more to the point, to the various offices people held.

The ABC showed a series on the Whitlam years recently, and pointed out that when the Governor General dismissed the then PM, he could have chosen to fight the decision in various ways.  Instead, whatever you might think about the rest of his efforts, in his famous line, 'God Save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor General' he upheld one of key tenets of our democracy, of distinguishing between the person and the Office they hold.

But you have to wonder, if a Governor General moved now to dismiss a Government in the way Kerr did, or more particularly, moved to dismiss a future Abbott Government, would the same respect for the institutions prevail?

Given the behaviour of the Opposition over the last year, with their no holds barred approach to attacking Gillard and her Government (and the outright evidence of illegal conspiracy to overthrow the Government plotted by Mr Slipper's two advisors in cahoots with once and perhaps future Liberal MP Mal Brough), I'm not so sure.

False separation, false tolerance

Underlying all of this seems a serious problem, namely a general lack of respect for the dignity of others in our society, and a loss of respect for the institutions of civil society.

Can we yet recover the concept of respect for others, no matter their gender, race or religion?

These two small moves today are a good start, but unfortunately, I think the real root of this evil is the deliberate effort of the extreme left to confuse some key distinctions.

Mr Abbott, for example, busily ruling out any changes in the law on abortion should he be elected, or any deals with the DLP on the subject, seems to believe the old Kennedy line, also being used by the pro-abortion Irish leader who said yesterday that he was 'a Taoiseach who happens to be Catholic but not a Catholic Taoiseach'.  Apparently our faith is irrelevant to our politics!

A similar confusion is evident in the demand that we conflate respect for others with respect for what they do - in particular, to confuse the sinner and the sin.

These days we are not, for example just asked to respect the fact that some people suffer from same sex attractions; instead they demand that we applaud their sin.

We are not just asked to tolerate other false religions, they even demand of the Pope, that in the face of all evidence to the contrary, he laud Islam for example as 'religion of peace'!

Still, we ourselves shouldn't fall into this error, nor should we applaud those who promote it.

And we should surely do everything we can to promote that judicious mix of robust exchanges when necessary, civility wherever possible, and giving Caesar his due, that is modelled for us by Christ in the Gospels.

What would a traditionalist diocese actually look like? A manifesto, Part I

One of the common criticisms of traditionalism - seemingly given a push even by the Pope of late - is that it is just about 'going backwards', and has nothing to offer the Church in the twenty-first century.

I beg to differ!

So in response, I thought I'd try and sketch out, in a series of posts, what a traditionalist diocese might actually look like in the context of Australia today, because I think that anyone who claims that 'traditionalism' is about going backwards just doesn't understand what the movement is actually about.

In fact, of course, there is some common ground (albeit also key differences) between 'conservative'/New Evangelisation style Catholics and even charismatics, and traditionalists, as I'll try to show below, for we all agree that what passes for the norm now is just not good enough.

Back to the future?  Not really.

But it is true that in one sense, traditionalists do indeed want to go back to a better past: to go back to that time when over 60% of Australian Catholics actually went to Mass every week, instead of the 12.5% who attend regularly today; to a time when more than half went to confession at least monthly, instead of less than around 2-3% today; to a time when vocations to the priesthood and religious life were normal, and not a rarity.

How do you actually achieve these things though, sixty or so years on?

The reality is that it is impossible simply to reimpose the past, and that traditionalism as most of us experience it is not in fact an attempt to do that.

Yes, traditionalists do want to bring back those things that worked in the past and whose jettison those have proved a disaster for the Church - to recover things like a strong sense of priestly identity, for example, and a stronger sense of the sacred developed through an emphasis on ritual and reverence.

But traditionalism is also, in my view, a thoughtful and creative response both to the excesses of spirit of Vatican IIism, and to post-modernism.

Far from rejecting new ways of doing things, traditionalists are perfectly prepared to use creative and innovative ways adapted to the times to achieve their aims.

That is why there is such a strong traditionalist presence in the social media for example - apart from the strong traditionalist presence on facebook, twitter and blogs, consider enterprises like Michael Voris' Church Militant TV, or the fabulous resources for Gregorian chant up at Corpus Christi Watershed, and the Mass on the net options from the FSSP.

An example: promoting confession

Take, for example, that ideal of reviving the use of the sacrament of confession, something the Pope himself has been pushing.

One of the biggest barriers (though not the only one) is simply the availability of the sacrament.

My own geographical parish of Central Canberra, for example, has according to the latest figures, some  2,616 Catholics.

If they all made a confession once a week of five minutes on average, the priest would need to be sitting in the confessional for some 218 hours a week.

In reality, he is there for a about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half (the parish does actually at least make some attempt at providing a more convenient confession time, with a half an hour at one lunchtime before Mass, in addition to the stock standard Saturday 'after Mass' provision).

There was a great story told this week though, over at Fr Z's blog of a priest doing creative about making confession more readily available that I think most 'traditionalists' would applaud.

He has remodelled his rectory, and added a confessional off his office, so that people can come there to confession - he has a small chapel in the rectory, with a vestibule that turns into a confessional.  And he has created an app to go with it, which both helps penitents prepare for confession, and indicates his (and potentially others') availability.

Now personally I'd prefer that priests actually spent most of their day actually in their churches, including sitting in the confessional there (reading their breviary or whatever in the downtimes).

But where that isn't possible for one reason or another, this idea sounds like something well worth trying.

A traditionalist parish?

Similarly, there was a nice story from the Melbourne Archdiocesan News last week, of two seminarians who had visited what sounds like an extremely vibrant parish in London, St Patrick's in Soho.

It is true that this is a novus ordo 'New Evangelisation' parish rather than a traditionalist one.  But liturgy aside, it sounds pretty close to the kind of model I for one would like to see as the norm, with daily Office, Adoration, Catechesis and more.

Here are some extracts from their descriptions of it:

"In London, a typical day for the seminarians included a 7am Holy Hour, Morning Prayer and work, afternoon Mass and Evening Prayer. Twice a week, the parish opens up its purpose-built centre to feed the homeless. About 80 people are fed each night by volunteer staff who cook and serve.

The Soho parish is known for its St Patrick’s School of Evangelisation, established by Fr Sherbrooke. Marcus and Trevor attended catechism, Scripture and liturgy classes throughout the week, and took part in the school’s Friday night street evangelisation....

Marcus said Fr Sherbrooke was an inspiring and hard-working priest, who set an example of prayer and fidelity to the Church.

‘He would always be up before me in the morning and go to bed after me. Inevitably he’d be off in the church praying. He’d hear confessions every day,’ Marcus said."

There are some few places where this kind of thing does happen in Australia.

Take a look, for example, at the range of activities the Adelaide Latin Mass community have on offer - daily Confession (with the priest actually sitting in the confessional and waiting for comers) and daily Mass; Sunday Vespers; First Friday devotions including Compline; a choir; server practices; sacramental preparation; classes for youth and adults on Scripture, Apologetics, Catechesis, Latin; and a healthy range of social activities.

Surely we need more of this.

So what is traditionalism in practice?

When we talk traditionalism, traditionalists tend to focus on three things: liturgy (particularly revival of the TLM); theology (ie how to combat the modernism that seems to have infiltrated the Church do deeply); and orthopraxis, or the bundle of practices and ways of approaching life that sustain a deep life of faith.

But how does it all fit together?  What does it actually look like in practice?

That I think is a little harder to articulate, not least because even the best traditionalist communities, in Australia at least, still lack the basic infrastructure for the practice of a genuinely traditional faith.

Habited religious orders teaching in schools and providing the other supports religious have traditionally provided to make life easier large families for example, are few and far between.

Traditionalist contemplative religious to pray for us and offer retreats are non-existent.

Many laity have to travel long distances to get to a TLM, making community activities and organised groups hard to organise.

Moreover, where bishops and other clergy are generally at best merely tolerant (and at worst outright hostile) of traditionalists rather than actually supportive, there are real limits on what you can do.

So rather than focusing on liturgy or theology per se, I want to start by looking at what each of the three groups that make up the Church - priests, religious and laity - would be doing in a traditionalist world, and try and paint a picture of how the underpinning 'religious infrastructure' would ideally fit together in Australia today.

And lest I be accused of hopeless idealism, well as trying to paint a picture of what it might look like, I'm going to try and suggest some possible means of making this vision a reality.  Don't take these as gospel though - they are just ideas for consideration, offered in the spirit of 'praying as though everything depends on God while working as if everything depends on us'.

In the next part of this series, I'm going to start with the role and work of priests, for in many ways, everything does indeed depends on them!

But do tell me if you think I'm spinning it wrong here.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A return to mourning: the psychological case for the traditional Requiem

Last night I posted on the religious case for a return to the traditional Requiem Mass primarily from the point of view of the deceased person, who may desperately need our prayers.

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald there is an interesting article pointing in the same direction, but using entirely secular arguments, and arguing from the point of view of those who mourn.

In essence, it argues that the modern insistence that the deceased is in a better place, or is better off dead (because of senility/suffering or whatever) represents an unhealthy denial of the reality of our genuine sense of loss.

The psychology of mourning

The article interviews a grief counsellor who thinks we are not allowing enough time for people to mourn properly, a claim backed up by some new psychological research:

"A study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found mourning rituals after the death of loved ones reduced grief and benefited people who believed in rituals as well as those who did not. Although the specific rituals differed widely according to culture and religion, the study found there was a common psychological mechanism underlying their effectiveness: regained feelings of control.

But funerals in Western cultures are often less ritualistic and have shifted from being solemn affairs of mourning to focusing on celebrating life, O'Connell says. Wearing black had been shunned for brighter colours, and ''death'' in funeral readings had been replaced with words such as ''loss'' and ''passing''.

''Half of funerals are now done by celebrants because the pendulum has swung from mourning death to celebrating that person's life,'' she says. ''I have started to see people feeling guilty about mourning someone who had a long and wonderful life.''

At one funeral for a 100-year-old woman, the 82-year-old daughter, crying in the front row, was reprimanded by her son. At the lectern he said, ''Mum, she was 100 years old - she had to go at some stage.''

''I thought, 'But she's had her mum for 82 years,''' O'Connell says.

Acknowledging loss

The focus of the article is on how contemporary culture makes people reluctant to even acknowledge the impact of the death of someone close to you.

Indeed, the new manual of psychiatry now treats depression after someone's death not as a natural reaction, but as an illness, to be treated with drugs.

The traditional Requiem, and other rituals associated with death - Mass on hearing the news, Office of the Dead and/or Rosary the night before the funeral, Requiem Mass and burial ceremonies, Wake, Months Mind and more - both acknowledge the legitimate grief of the bereaved and give them a way of channelling their grief into something constructive in terms of praying for the dead.

Another reason for insisting on a return to tradition!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Why reform of the reform is not enough, aka how to organise your own Requiem Mass

A number of my readers seem puzzled by my view, expressed in my post on What is traditionalism? that I think that increasing the use of the Extraordinary Form is ultimately going to be a more lasting solution than getting the  novus ordo said reverently and in accordance with the rubrics.

So I thought I'd try and explain my reasoning a little, and in doing so I propose to use the example of the Requiem, or Funeral Mass, as it is a good example of the problem, and a reader asked me some questions on this offline that I've been rather slow in answering (for which apologies!).

Accordingly, this is also a continuation of my previous post on Remembering Death.

The theology of rupture

My reader had attended a couple of funerals that she described as 'heartbreakingly secular' in style, and wanted to know how to avoid that happening when the time comes for her own funeral.

I think it is a common reaction among those who have a Catholic sensibility: you don't actually have ever attended a traditional Mass to feel instinctively that something is wrong when you go to most modern funeral masses.  Instead of asking us to pray for the dead, they have become little more than canonisation ceremonies that might give a false comfort to the living, and, in my view cheat the dead of their due in prayers.

By contrast, the older Requiem Mass takes its name and orientation from the first line of the Mass of the Dead: it is about imploring God to grant eternal rest (that is entrance to heaven) to the deceased.  It reminds us of the pains of purgatory, so that we will do everything we possibly can to help the deceased escape it as quickly as possible.  And it reminds us of the reality of hell so that we can do our best to avoid that fate ourselves!  I've written more on the purpose of a Catholic funeral previously here.

Think I'm making up the change in theology behind the Novus Ordo and traditional Requiem, and that the modern canonisation ceremony is just an abuse?  Here is what the Wikipedia entry on the subject says, drawing on material from various official websites:

"In the liturgical reforms of the mid-20th century in the Roman Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council, there was a significant shift in the funeral rites used by the Church. The emphasis on sorrow and grief was to be replaced by one which also includes the whole community's worship of God and in which the deceased is entrusted to God's love, based on trust in the salvific value of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The term "Requiem Mass" was often replaced by the term Mass of the Resurrection or Mass of Christian Burial, although the former was never official terminology. In line with this shift, the use of black vestments was made optional (and had mostly disappeared by the late 20th century, at least in the United States, although their use is seeing a resurgence), with the preference of many being for white, the color of joy associated with Easter, or purple, for a muted version of mourning. The texts used for the service made a similar change, with the overall theme of the service to be a proclamation of the promise of eternal life made by Jesus."

Here's the thing.  Of course we entrust the deceased to God's love.

And if the deceased hadn't repented of their sins before they died, we certainly can't change their eternal destiny.

But assuming they have not been consigned to hell (and the Church always allows us to pray for the dead in the hope that they have escaped that fate since we can't know what was in the mind of the dead person at the end or know God's mind on the subject) we can help them get to heaven faster.  Given that we know purgation is painful, why wouldn't we devote all our efforts to doing that by making their funeral Mass as meritorious as possible, and encouraging all those present to pray hard for the deceased?

So how do you arrange a genuinely Catholic funeral?

Recognising this, my reader asked, amongst other things:
  • Is it appropriate for me to have Latin Requiem Mass if  I have only ever attended a Novus Ordo Mass with the usual Dan Schutte / Frank Anderson hymns?
  • Is it hard to arrange, does it have to be a Latin Mass?
  • Can I ask my Priest for such a Mass or do I have to just go with what I am given ?  I have not been to a funeral in our Parish but I can imagine the emphasis may be on making all the guests feel better rather than praying hard that I make it to heaven!
The first point is just a practical one.  If you've never actually attended a Traditional Mass, trying to get one organised for your funeral Mass is probably not going to be a goer.  Most priests don't actually know how to say the traditional Mass, and even if they do, if their normal fare is Dan Schutte/Frank Anderson hymns, they will likely be pretty resistant to saying one.  Moreover, you won't be there to argue for it, but have to rely on your family and friends to make the case for you.

So if you want a traditional Requiem in Latin (and it is a really beautiful affair), start off by trying to get the Traditional Latin Mass said regularly in your parish or area.  To do that, you need to learn as much as you can about it (perhaps buy a Missal like the nice new St Edmund Campion Missal which comes with lots of photos from, watch the Mass online, become familiar with the provisions of  Summorum Pontificum) and try and get to one (consider joining the next Christus Rex Pilgrimage, or visiting one of the Latin Mass communities next time you visit a city with one).

But in the meantime, no, you don't just have to accept whatever you are given.  You can set out your preferences for your funeral in your will; and you can also make sure your executor, family and friends know what they are so that when they make the arrangements with the priest, they can argue for your your wishes to be respected.  In the end though, it is the priest's call as to what happens, though the Instructions on the Mass do encourage him to take your views into account.

Making your Novus Ordo funeral Mass a genuine requiem

Nonetheless, it is possible, at least in theory, to have a funeral said or sung for your funeral in the Ordinary Form that looks and feels a lot like a traditional Requiem.

There are some unavoidable differences between the Extraordinary Form Requiem and the Novus Ordo funeral Mass.   But if you employ the right 'options' in the Novus Ordo, (OF), you can minimise those.

Does a Requiem Mass have to be in Latin?  No.  Latin certainly adds an appropriate sense of solemnity in my view, but technically, in the Ordinary Form, it can be said or sung in English.

What you do want though, at least in an ideal world is to get a choir to sing at least the 'propers' of the Mass, the Introit (Entrance Antiphon), and so forth in Latin in Gregorian chant (or even better a nice polyphonic setting!) because those are the really key traditional prayers that set the tone for the Requiem Mass.

But if you don't have a choir that knows how to sing chant, or don't know someone who would be prepared to come and sing, then just specify that you want the traditional propers said or sung (in English if necessary) and NOT alternative options or hymns to replace them.  Closely related to this, ensure that the splendid and pivotal (but optional in the new Mass)  Dies Irae is said or sung.  There is actually a very good article on this and broader issues around Catholic funerals by Jeffrey Tucker that you can read here.

Secondly, specify that you want black vestments.  The rubrics allow for it, but you might need to let your family know that purple might be ok as a fallback, but white would be totally unacceptable.

Thirdly, work out which of the choice of readings you want in advance - my suggestion would be look at a traditional Missal and wherever there is an option, chose the one that matches the older form of the Mass.

Fourthly, you probably do want one or two hymns (just make sure they don't displace the propers) - so specify which ones you would like in advance (Ave Maria is always a good choice!).

Finally, even if you can't get a fully satisfactory Requiem Mass organised for your funeral itself, you can still arrange for a Traditional Mass (or even a 'Gregorian Mass' set of 30 Masses) to be said for the repose of your soul - just leave some money in your will for the purpose.  There are a number of Purgatorial Societies around that will find a priest for you, or you can do it through one of the traditionally oriented Benedictine monasteries such as Flavigny.

So will the Novus Ordo do?

I've said above that it is possible, at least in theory, to organise a Novus Ordo Requiem Mass that looks pretty similar to a Traditional one and so surely has similar objective benefits in terms of the merits of the Mass itself due to the ceremonial and so forth, and in inducing people to pray for you.  Indeed, I've sung at such a Mass myself.

The problem is, such Requiems rarely happen and the odds of making it happen are stacked against you.

First you need a sympathetic priest who will ensure that the normal widespread disregard for the rubrics and liturgical abuses that are rife at such affairs will not occur.

Then you have to wade through all those options, chose the best ones and hope that your preferences will be respected by the priest and those organising and participating in the Mass.

And then there is the problem of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which does its best to undermine a traditional approach. It positively encourages, for example, the priest to take account of the non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics who may be present in selecting the texts.  Now one can argue that care for their souls should mean taking the opportunity to expose them to actual Catholicism.  I'm pretty sure that's not what it is trying to suggest though!

All in all, based on what seems to be the norm at the moment for Catholic funerals, it is going to take an awful lot of reforming the reform to get things back to where they should be.

And in the end, why go to all that effort when you can just use the Extraordinary Form?

Poverty and mission: the Pope and Archbishop Coleridge

One of the more attractive aspects of Pope Francis' preaching has been his emphasis on the idea that the Churches riches should spiritual not material, and that the business entrepreneurial mentality has no place amongst the clergy.

Poverty and entrepreneurialism

The Catholic News Service Reports:

"Proclaiming the Gospel must take the road of poverty," the pope said at Mass June 11 in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Those who preach and share the Gospel need to give witness to poverty, where the only abundant riches in their lives are the free and joyful gifts received from the Lord, he said.

The pope, who concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, highlighted a line from the day's reading from the Gospel of Matthew: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."

When Jesus told his apostles, "Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick," he was urging them to proclaim the Gospel "with simplicity," Pope Francis said...

"Evangelical preaching flows from gratuitousness, from the wonder of the salvation that comes and that which I have received freely and must give freely," he said.

This was the experience of the early church as "St. Peter didn't have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to fish and find inside the fish the money for paying," the pope said.

Also, he said, when Philip met the treasurer of an Ethiopian queen on the road from Jerusalem, Philip didn't see the moment as an occasion for business, to "set up an organization with him to support the Gospel."

"No! He did not strike a deal with him: he preached, baptized and left," the pope said.

Meanwhile back in Australia!

Contrast that with Archbishop Coleridge of Brisbane's comments last week, on the Archdiocese's inaugural 'Annual Catholic Campaign' to be held next weekend:

"THE Annual Catholic Campaign is a fresh answer to an old question: How might we raise the money we need for mission?

The Church isn't a business: we don't need money for the sake of money or to pay a bigger dividend to our shareholders.

But we do need money for mission. This has always been the case.

Who bank-rolled Jesus as he moved through Palestine on his mission?

Even more to the point, who bank-rolled St Paul and his team on their complex and costly mission through the Mediterranean world?

We need a St Francis every now and then to tell us that there's more to life than money and possessions.

But we still need resources for mission.

That's what the Annual Catholic Campaign is all about.

We need money for ministries within the Church but also for mission to the wider world.

Without the money, there can be no mission...."

Preparing ourselves for secularism

Back in the days when he was in charge of Canberra-Goulburn, Archbishop Coleridge followed many of his fellow bishops in launching business plans to sell and/or redevelop Church properties claiming the diocese was broke.

In the end, even though the various sales and developments have not proceeded (as yet) and despite ever declining numbers of Mass goers, the Archdiocese has actually posted significant surpluses for the last two years.

There is I know a practical reality that has to be acknowledged.

But wealth, as we all know, can too readily become a distraction, and in an era when the Church is increasingly being persecuted even in the West, forces compromises.

If a Catholic welfare organisation receives Government funding for example, it generally has to accept the strings that come attached.

If a Catholic organisation employs staff, there is pressure to conform to secular employment laws in areas such as 'anti-discrimination', even in those areas that are directly contrary to Catholic beliefs.

In the UK the Church has already been forced to close down its adoption agencies and some other activities, because of requirements not to 'discriminate' against same sex couples.  And that was even well before gay marriage actually passed Parliament.

In the US, the fight of late has focused on health care, but there has also been a prominent case of a diocese having to pay compensation for sacking a teacher who used IVF.

Australia is yet to really face these fights full on, partly because the Church has been able to defend its exemptions so far.  But partly, one suspects, because as in the US it hasn't really always practised what it has preached and actually demanded that teachers comply with Catholic teaching and tht hospitals comply strictly with Catholic teaching on other subjects.

Still, if we were thinking ahead, as opposed to sticking our heads in the sand, I think dioceses would be looking at downsizing their activities and focusing more clearly on providing services to Catholics primarily, as opposed to all comers.  It would be looking at moving back to volunteers as much as possible, rather than paid employees.

I certainly don't think 'just trust us' and 'give us money so we can do good' style fundraising campaigns are the way to go at the moment.

***That 70s thing, or the last gasps of Labor

It has been pretty depressing watching the Labor Government commit suicide, partly because I once supported Labor, and partly because our system of Government depends, I think, on their being genuine choices on offer.

But now Prime Minister Gillard has hit a new low, with some extraordinary comments on abortion and women in political life.

According to the ABC she "warned women will be "banished" from politics and abortion will be "the political plaything of men" if the Opposition wins the election."

Does she really believe that old line about abortion being about a woman's right to control her own body rather than being about disposing of a life?  And even if she hasn't moved beyond that tired old 70s feminist rhetoric, does she really think it is a line that has any resonance in the electorate these days?

There has been a lot of talk of KRudd rising from the dead of late, but given his all too well-known modus operandi that led to him being dumped in the first place and defeated at every attempt to return, his conversion to same sex sex 'marriage' recognition, and general campaign of destruction from within, Labor would be mad to give in to his supporters.

But surely there is someone else who could try and make it a real contest.

**Update: the Mal Brough factor....

And speaking of outdated ideologies, Gillard is clearly trying to manufacture an issue in a most vile way, but what has the other side to offer?!

It is not as if Mr Abbott actually will do anything to stop abortion: as commentators have noted, he has explicitly reassured the electorate that he will not (it is not true though that the Commonwealth has no power in this area: a good start would be to remove all Medicare funding for abortions and IVF; as it is, Mr Abbott did not even take the obvious step, back when he was Health Minister, of setting up a separate Medicare item code for abortions so we could at least find out how many were really occurring and demonstrate the ludicrousness of the 'safe, legal and rare' proposition).

And consider the news that former Coalition Minister Mal Brough, named by a judgment as one of the conspirators to overthrow the Government in the Slipper Affair yet still a candidate for the Coalition, has struck again with a lewd, nasty and clearly sexist attack on the Prime Minister in a menu for a fundraising dinner.

I'm hoping for some good independents to stand in my electorate...

****Senator Madigan's sex selection abortion bill

And there is a useful article on Senator Madigan's (DLP) bill to remove funding for sex selective abortions you can read here.  The Bill won't be voted on before the election, but the article from The Guardian argues it is putting some pressure on those politicians who claim to be pro-life but do nothing...

Monday, 10 June 2013

What did the Nuncio really say?!

I received a note from a reader asking my views on some curious comments from the new Nuncio, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, reported on Cath News last week.

In a speech to Parliamentarians he reportedly said:

I believe the church needs to concentrate on its core values: evangelisation and helping the members of the Catholic community to be true to their faith and live full lives.

“But the issues of sexual abuse, the ordination of women and homosexuality need to be addressed; we need to be inclusive. These are not just about ideas, they are about people in the Church and we need to come to terms with them.''


I have to admit that when the story popped into my email from the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn I dismissed it as probably being misreporting, yet another example of the Archdiocese running amok in the absence of a bishop.

But the remarks did get a wider run, courtesy (sigh) of Cath News, so perhaps some greater context or explanation of what he was trying to say or actually did say is needed?

Let's leave aside the abuse scandal for the moment, because I've made my views on that subject clear on many occasions!

But on homosexuality and the ordination of women just what could being 'inclusive' or 'coming to terms' with them possibly mean?

For surely we don't 'come to terms' with sins or impossibilities other than by accepting Church teaching?

But perhaps....

Homosexual acts are immoral and nothing can change that.  But perhaps the Archbishop is suggesting that more publicity needs to be given to organisations like Courage, an apostolate that seeks to assist those who experience same-sex attraction, but seek to live out their lives in fidelity to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?

Similarly, the ordination of women is impossible, but perhaps he is suggesting that more effort needs to be put into explaining clearly just why that is the case?

Whatever it was that he really meant, the Cath News (and Archdiocesan) news item as it stands just gives air to those seeking to overturn the Churches teaching on these subjects.