Sunday, 29 September 2013

Latin prayer of the week: Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio

Church of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano
Today is the feast of the Dedication of St Michael the Archangel, which commemorates the earliest known apparition of St Michael in the West, on Mount Gargano in Italy, around 490.

And so it seems like an appropriate day to look at the best known prayer to St Michael for aid, traditionally said in the prayers after Low Mass.

For some reason, it is not included in the Compendium to the Catechism, but it is one of those prayers that surely should be!

The origins of the prayer

According to Michael Martin's excellentThesaurus Precum Latinarum:

"This prayer was composed by Pope Leo XIII after he experienced a horrifying vision. On October 13, 1884, while consulting with his cardinals after Mass, Pope Leo XIII paused at the foot of the altar and lapsed into what looked like a coma. After a little while the Pope recovered himself and related the terrifying vision he had of the battle between the Church and Satan. Afterwards, Pope Leo went to his office and composed this now famous prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and assigned it to be recited after Low Mass, a position it occupied until Vatican II..."

You can read more on the story here.

 The text

SANCTE Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.

You can hear it read in Latin here.

This is one of those prayers for which there are a number of different translations in use (often in the same Church!).  This seems to be the most commonly used one though:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of Battle; Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke Him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Looking at the Latin

SANCTE (holy/saint) Michael Archangele (Archangel), defende (defend) nos (us) in (in) proelio (battle), contra (against) nequitiam (badness/worthlessness) et (and) insidias (ambushes/traps/plots) diaboli (of the devil) esto (be - future imperative) praesidium (help/protection/support)). Imperet (may he [God] command/enjoin/bid) illi (him) Deus (God), supplices (beseeching/begging/humbly) deprecamur (we ask/beg/pray): tuque (and you), Princeps (prince) militiae (of the soldiers) caelestis (heavenly), Satanam (Satan) aliosque (and other) spiritus (spirits) malignos (evil), qui (who) ad (to) perditionem (the ruin) animarum (of souls) pervagantur (they have wandered/robed about/overrun) in mundo (in the world), divina (by God's) virtute (power/strength), in infernum (into hell) detrude (thrust down). Amen.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Ordination of Fr Paul Nulley

Source: Twitter pic from Shawn van der Linden
Fr Paul Nulley was ordained last night as a priest for the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn. Please keep him in your prayers.

There was evidently a strong turnout, despite the fact that the Archdiocese's email news service was too busy crowing about winning its case opposing heritage listing of St Patrick's Braddon to send out an alert to the event.  Priorities, priorities.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

40 Days for Life has started...

This is just a reminder (especially for those in the Adelaide Archdiocese!) that 40 Days has started (you might recall that Mr Voris picked up my post on this subject on The Vortex and very kindly gave the blog a plug on this subject).

In Australia, there are vigils being held in Adelaide, Melbourne and on the Sunshine Coast.

If you haven't already, you can sign up to volunteer via the links.

The website also provides daily devotionals, so you can join in spiritually even if there isn't a vigil in your area.

And as well as abortion, you might also want to consider offering some fasting and prayers for Tasmania, where, as well as radical abortion laws, a bill to authorise euthanasia was introduced today, and the ACT, where same sex 'marriage' legislation is being pushed...

Academic censorship or proper regulation of theologians?

There is an interesting post today over at Rorate Caeli claiming a case of academic censorship of a Sydney academic and traditionalist, Dr John Lamont.

Now this does seem to be a classic case of one rule for traditionalists, quite another for liberals.

But is it really consistent with traditionalism to privilege academic freedom, as Dr Lamont and Rorate seek to do, over proper ecclesial regulation of theology?

The facts of the case

According to Rorate the facts are as follows.

Dr Lamont had a paper on religious freedom accepted for the journal Novus et Vetera.  The paper passed the usual peer review processes.  But then, according to Rorate, the editors declined to publish it on the grounds that Dr Lamont was not in full communion with the Church.

It seems the editors  - mistakenly - believed that he was formally associated with the SSPX (he has published in The Angelus, arguing for canonical recognition of the SSPX) instead of being incorporated into his diocese; they undertook to publish his paper only once he had become registered in a parish.

As it happens, Dr Lamont is in fact registered in a Sydney Archdiocese parish and has a canonical mandate to teach.

But Dr Lamont felt that the need to demonstrate this was a breach of academic freedom, and so withdrew his paper instead.

Academic freedom?

On the face of it the authors did make a mistake in talking about registration with a parish - as Rorate point out, there is no canonical requirement for Catholics to register with a parish.  Frankly, if they were worried about Dr Lamont's status in the Church, they should instead have inquired about his mandate to teach, or asked what parish he attended Mass at.

But the more fundamental question posed is whether an academic journal - even one that claims to be Catholic - should seek to verify the credentials of its published authors at all.  Shouldn't it be enough, Dr Lamont asks, that the paper passes academic muster?

I'm not altogether convinced of this.

Most of us would surely think that there has been far too much freedom, with liberal Catholic theologians freely publishing heresy even while employed by so-called Catholic institutions, and the set texts at such institutions all too often anything but orthodox.  Surely traditionalists want this 'freedom' to be rejected as a false one?

It seem to me that the Church's traditional view is not to regard academic freedom as an absolute, to be privileged over the good of the Church.  In the past there were two steps that had to be followed in relation to the content of a paper: first its academic merit, and secondly its orthodoxy.  Perhaps a better approach for Novus et Vetera would have been to seek an imprimateur for the paper if they had concerns?

But there is also a legitimate issue about the bona fides of authors I think.  Imagine an academic journal received a paper from someone known previously to have been guilty of plagiarism, or to hold extremist discredited views on some other subject (such as advocating geocentrism for example).  To give airspace to such a person would be to invite ridicule by the academic community.  None of these scenarios actually apply in this case: Dr Lamont is in fact a respected academic with a number of published papers to his credit.  Still, a journal surely has a right to be concerned about its credibility.

The crime of being a traditionalist...

In fact Dr Lamont's only crime seems to be being a traditionalist and arguing in favour of the traditional position on religious freedom.

This is of course a very controversial topic, but one where a number of different approaches do seem to be possible.  One could note that Novus et Vera claim to be committed to 'dialogue' in the spirit of Vatican II, which would surely suggest that allowing non-Catholic (or 'not in full communion Catholics') a chance to contribute, particularly in the form of replies, as Dr Lamont's paper was.  Their website after all, says that:

"We seek to be “at the heart of the Church,” faithful to the Magisterium and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and devoted to the work of true dialogue, both ecumenically and across intellectual disciplines."

It is indeed disappointing that traditionalists, of the SSPX variety or otherwise, continue to be marginalised academically and otherwise by the 'hermeneutic of continuity' crowd.  Ecumenism, it seems, only applies very selectively indeed.

All the same, I think we need to be careful about the arguments we use in these cases.  Though the proper authorities and those associated with them may be getting it wrong more often then they get it right at the moment, we should surely not reject the concept of obedience and regulation of theology for the common good of the Church altogether.  Rather, traditionalist academics should be working to restore such regulation, even while demonstrating that the traditionalist view is in fact the orthodox one!

Let us hope that Dr Lamont is able to publish his paper in some other forum.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

David Marr's epic fail on Pell

I spent my plane trips home yesterday reading journalist David Marr's newly released Quarterly Essay "The Prince Faith, Abuse and George Pell".  You can read a few extracts from it over at the ABC's Religion and Ethics Site.

The essay purports to be an attempt to help us understand just why Cardinal Pell (and many others in the Church's episcopal ranks) appears to continue to fail to grasp just why everyone is so upset with the Church over the abuse scandal.  It is an important subject, and could have generated a great essay.

Unfortunately, Marr's determination to push his own secularist agenda, together with his utter inability to grasp even the concept of religious faith, cause him to fail badly in his task.

Instead, its just another smear job that will only encourage the 'its all a media beat-up' motivated by anti-catholic prejudice school of thought.

Vocation, faith and God

The most obvious problem with the piece is that Marr seems totally unable or unwilling to concede that the Cardinal (or indeed anyone else in the Church) might actually be genuinely motivated by their belief in God, let alone the sense that he is calling them to carry out a particular mission.

Instead, for Marr, the only possible motivation for becoming a priest or bishop is power and the pursuit of material comfort.

From that secularist mentality, all Marr can see is evidence of careerism; and the only lens through which to assess the Cardinal's impact is influence and power.

According to Marr, the only return for celibacy and a life of commitment to the service of God and the Church for the Cardinal are "the consolations of friendship, music and a good cellar".  And of course "what inspired him from the start, a place at the highest levels of his church and a voice in the nation."(p88).

The Cardinal himself has provided I think the perfect response to the essay on this point, releasing a statement saying:

"A predictable and selective rehash of old material. G.K.Chesterton said: 'A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. Marr has no idea what motivates a believing Christian."


Advancing the secularist agenda

In fact, although the essay purports to be about the abuse scandal, by far the greater crime for Marr seems to be the Cardinal's attempts to uphold the dogmas of the Catholic Church, and to support debate on public policy issues.

On his Melbourne period, for example, Marr notes that Cardinal Pell worked hard to restore adherence to dogma: he reformed the seminary; banned books; did something about heretical priests, and appointed then Monsignor Eliot to reform religious education.

"Dogma was back."  And, Marr concludes, that "Nothing Pell did in these years caused such apprehension in Melbourne." (pp 44; see also 57-60).

The essay contains numerous attacks on celibacy and the Cardinal's defence of it, refusing to give it any positive value at all: instead it is all about 'killing sex', and especially (oh the horror of it) opposing homosexuality.  Not that the (homosexual) Mr Marr has a barrow to push or anything...

The abuse scandal

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the essay is his coverage of the abuse scandal.

It really is just a rehash of everything ever said about the Cardinal on this subject: lots of guilt by association and worse, but absolutely no new insights whatsoever.

The essay could have looked at the impact of the number of false accusations made against the Cardinal in shaping his attitude to the scandals.

Instead, it perpetuates the smear.

A few months ago, the Fairfax media, and liberal ex-priest Paul Collins were forced to apologise and retract claims that the Cardinal was not cleared of claims that he abused a young man. Marr however reiterates the claim that both sides were vindicated, and tries to imply the worst possible interpretation is possible.  That is, frankly, outrageously bad journalism.

The real story...

The article provides no new insights on the Cardinal's various disastrous interactions with victims and the laity in relation to the scandal; no new insights into just why he and many others in the Church were so reluctant to listen or act.  To me that seems a great shame.

The real story here, it seems to me, lies in the history of why the Church moved away from a willingness to quickly laicize clerical wrongdoers and turn them over to the secular arm, to the protection of reputations and cover-up mode that reached its peak in the 1970s and 80s, especially under Pope John Paul II.

The real story is about the Church's overeagerness to embrace modernity in the wake of Vatican II such that instead of leading the fight against the sexual permissiveness revolution of the 1960s, the Church became as tained by it as did every other institution of our culture.

The real story is about how the Australian Church became so obsessed with protecting its material assets and reputation that it neglected its spiritual ones, losing sight even of the need to protect even its own members, and for which it is now paying the price.

For me, the abuse scandal seems likely, in the longer run, to prove the equivalent of the sale of Indulgences to the Protestant Revolution.  In the end, it was not the reason why the Protestant Revolution happened.  But it was a symptom of everything that was wrong with the Church at the time, and the failure to do anything about it quickly enough helped precipitate the schism and heresy that followed.

It is not yet, I think, absolutely inevitable that history will repeat itself, and that the Church will disappear altogether in much of the West, this time without much prospect of a counter-reformation to undo the damage.  The danger, though, is extreme in my view.

And if we are to avoid this fate, we need to understand exactly what has gone wrong in the contemporary Church, including understanding how the abuse scandal could happen and could have been so mishandled.

The Abbott factor

We will have to wait another day for that story to be told however, for David Marr seems only to want to advance his own pro-homosexual agenda, and that means attempting to destroy those who stand against it.

What really comes in this essay is just how galling the results of the recent election was for Marr and his friends (his main acknowledged source on the Church appears to have been former Canberra Auxiliary Patrick Power, one of those two a month 'early retirements' under Pope Benedict).

Instead of the 'Green agenda' of marriage equality, euthanasia and abortion ever advancing, the secularists are confronted with, as Marr notes, a newly elected Catholic Prime Minister with deep roots in 'the Movement'.

Worse, instead of being sidelined and succumbing to the pressure to conform to the liberal majority of Australian bishops, Marr is forced to acknowledge that Cardinal Pell remains one of Australia's most effective bishops.  Moreover, far from being sidelined because of past accusations against him, he is one whose voice in the world stage of the Church has if anything been elevated by his membership of Pope Francis' 'group of 8'.

As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I'm no great fan of the Cardinal.  On the plus side he has been effective at generating vocations in both the dioceses he has led.  And many of his other reforms are to be admired.  But I don't agree with his politics, and while Mr Marr cites one occasion where he suggested that Catholics can legitimately hold different positions (in relation to the GST), too often he sounds to me as if he is saying only one view on issues such as climate change is tenable (viz scepticism) for Catholics. His media interventions often seem to be examples of 'foot in microphone' disease in my view, rather than advancing the cause. In Sydney at least I don't think he has gone nearly far enough in the defence of dogma or in cleaning out heretical priests.  And when it comes to the abuse scandal I agree that he just doesn't get it, and that has had disastrous consequences for the Church which will only get worse in the future as the impact of the Royal Commission is felt.

But Marr seems oblivious to most of the debate on what the Cardinal has and hasn't done in these areas, and as a result, I actually came out with a much more positive view of the Cardinal after reading this Essay.

That makes the Essay an epic fail Mr Marr.

In case you missed it....

Apologies for the lack of  posting over the last few days, I've been taking a break interstate, including collecting my Year of Faith Indulgence for a visit to one's baptismal Church.

But while I've been away a number of people have alerted me to some items of note, many thanks for these.  Some of those warrant a post to themselves, so I'll post on those over the next few days.

In the meantime though, a few short points of note, just in case you missed them.

New Archbishop of Tasmania on female altar servers and vocations

The new Archbishop of Hobart, +Julian Porteous was duly installed in his Cathedral last week.  Do keep him in your prayers; he faces a tough task indeed.

The Archbishop made a strong start, though, by signalling the importance of promoting vocations through the use of male altar servers (though for some reason he doesn't extend this to girls of primary school age, which I would have thought was the most crucial age for forming attitudes, both for girls and boys).

The need for a clear message on vocations is obvious given that the Archdiocese, which takes in the whole of Tasmania, now has less than 25 diocesan priests (2012) - and according to the Archdiocese's vocations director, half of those are retired!  Unsurprisingly, there were the screams of outrage from Tasmania's secularist mafia.

In an interview with The Mercury he suggested his other priorities were public engagement (in the face of Tasmania's Green-Labor Government death agenda that should prove interesting indeed), and attracting people to the faith and back to Mass (again an obvious priority given that at last count, Mass attendance in Tasmania was down to a pathetic 7.1% according to a recent article in The Swag).  He also promised to convert to Tasmania's other religion, viz Aussie Rules football.

Fr Reynolds laicized and excommunicated

You may recall the story of Melbourne's Fr Greg Reynolds of the dog given communion scandal - he left the priesthood over his heretical views on women's ordination, homosexuality and other subjects, and then proceeded to set up his own 'inclusive Church' parish.   Archbishop Hart suspended him, but for some reason did not take the next step of excommunicating him and his congregation.

Well now, at last, proper action has been taken by Rome, and he has been both excommunicated and laicized.  The Age story claims that Archbishop Hart had not requested either the laicisation or excommunication.  Sad if true.  Laicization of course can only be done by Rome.  But bishops have both the power and the duty to act on their own initiative to prevent scandal and the confusion of the laity.

New Ordinariate parish for Melbourne

On the more positive news front, I've been alerted by a reader to the news that a second Ordinariate parish is to be established in Melbourne.  The Ordinariate parish of St Edmund Campion will be based at St Patrick's Mentone, and is to be launched on 6 October.

The parish will use the newly approved Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, and hope to have weekday as well as Sunday Masses, monthly Evensong, and more.  All Catholics can, of course, receive communion and fulfill their Sunday obligation at Ordinariate Masses.

Canberra Church loses heritage protection

Canberra readers in particular may remember the fight to stop the Archdiocese selling the only Church located in one of Canberra's town centres, St Patrick's Braddon, in order to finance the commercial development of the Cathedral precinct.  The price offered for the site was deemed too low so the deal fell through a few months back,

However, as one tactic in the fight and in order to prevent any future such attempts to get rid of the Church, parishioners and friends of the Church, which is still in active use, sought heritage protection for the Church.  This has now been knocked back.

I have to admit I'm in two minds about this.  On the one hand, selling off an active Church, and one that makes the Church visible in the city and provides a much needed lunchtime Mass for city workers at that, seems an outrageous decision.

But if heritage protection had been granted, it would have locked the Church into its rather ugly current 1960s wreckovated style of interior.

Perhaps our new Archbishop might now, instead of trying to close down and sell off the site, consider making it into a visible centre of outreach for the New Evangelization?

The Church could easily be beautified by a few simple steps like ripping out the horrible carpet, and returning the altar to its original position at the end of the Church rather than stuck awkwardly in the middle near the entrance.  It could then be turned it into a 24 hour Adoration chapel, perhaps with a soup kitchen or similar outreach services to the homeless of the city (there is a disused convent behind it)...

Friday, 20 September 2013

How it works at Australia Incognita...

Folks I'm away from home at the moment, so accessing things via an ap which doesn't make it obvious whether or not a comment is signed when moderating.

But some kind of identifier needs to be included so I've deleted any that don't include that.  Please feel to repost!  And in future, please make sure we have some consistent way of referring back to you.

And try to keep your comments to the issues raised in the post and considered in tone.

Ad hominem attacks, whether on me or anyone else, will generally be rejected; discussion of actions or inactions of individuals or institutions discussed in my posts is of course absolutely legitimate.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Archbishop-elect Prowse calls for moratorium on ACT same sex 'marriage' debate

In a positive opening salvo, Canberra's new Archbishop-elect Christopher Prowse has made a strong defense of traditional marriage and Church teaching on homosexuality.

He  has called for a stop to the ACT House of Assembly's attempts to rush through same-sex marriage legislation.

Taking on the ACT's Labor-Green coalition

The ACT Government has a record of pushing a radical agenda in this area, with current civil partnerships provisions a compromise after previous attempts to introduce civil unions was overturned by previous Federal Governments.

If passed, it will be an early test of the Abbott Government's credentials in this area to see whether it similarly seeks to use its power to override the legislation.

Archbishop-elect Prowse, however, reportedly argued for a slow down in the process to allow proper debate to take place.  According to the Canberra Times he said:

He had not seen the proposed ACT bill, due to be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday, but said generally speaking laws should not be rushed through.

"This debate is happening at a time when married life - heterosexual married life - and family life are at a very fragile moment,'' he said.

''I think we've got to look at this particular rising topic in a calm way which is not being pressurised for time or rushed into legislation before a good, philosophical and reasoned debate can be had. I have a feeling myself that Australian society needs a lot more time to consider implications of legislation in this regard.

''I would be calling for more of a moratorium to suspend pending legislation so that we, over the next period of time, can discuss this in a more reasoned way, where both subjective and objective arguments can be put forward and discussed in an atmosphere of calm and reason, particularly holding forward the importance of traditional marriage and its role in society.''

Bishop Prowse said he believed traditional, heterosexual marriage needed protection, and while he would hear people's views, he would not be swayed by statistics showing high levels of support for same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra.

''I'm a person who is open to listening to people but I've also got plenty of opinions of my own and I think the Catholic Church's opinion on such matters - we represent a reflection on humanity going over 2000 years … I think that gives us a certain confidence to have our opinions heard and, in a reasoned way, debate with people,'' he said.

''The Catholic Church's teaching on the matter is that homosexual acts are never approved of, but persons who are of homosexual orientation, that a great deal of compassion and understanding should be shown to them.''

Good to see our new bishop coming out in defense of the Church's actual teaching, speaking with admirable clarity.

The Canberra Times story goes on to claim that this position is in contrast to that of his predecessor.  That is not in fact the case - the story incorrectly claims that his predecessor was the notoriously liberal Bishop Pat Power.  In fact Bishop Power was auxiliary until his early 'retirement', not Archbishop, and his actual predecessor, Archbishop Coleridge opposed civil partnerships legislation strongly.

Installation of Archbishop Porteous

And in other news, the installation ceremony for Pope Francis' other episcopal appointment for Australia so far, Archbishop Julian Porteous, took place yesterday.

You can read about it here or watch some extracts below.  Let's pray for a rapid renewal of the Church in Tasmania indeed.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Cardinal Pell's priorities for Mr Abbott

Cardinal Pell has put out a piece on priorities for the new Government .

He suggests five: achieving genuine progress in Indigenous affairs; reducing the number of abortions from the current 90,000 or so (though he acknowledges neither party looks like doing anything on this front); maintaining the commitment to increased disability support; keeping the national debt low; and maintaining the middle class.

Interesting priorities, both for what is included, and what is missing (no mention of the ACBC's standard list of things such as refugees!).

Few Catholics would quarrel with the first three.

But debt?  It is true that national debt levels in many other countries such as the US are spectacular cases of irresponsibility.  But Australia's debt is very low indeed by world standards (and in absolute terms), and at the moment at least simply reflects the need to spend on infrastructure to support our rapidly growing population.  The real challenge in this area is to do something about the tax base given the coming pressures from an ageing population.  But hard to see this Government confronting this issue.

And as for the middle class, again Australia has been 'lucky' - or rather is still enjoying the benefits of the Hawke/Keating years focus on sharing productivity gains rather than letting them all go to capital as has happened in the US.  But the Howard era saw  income inequality start to widen again, and now the top ten percent are rapidly leaving the rest of us behind.  Hard to see the current Coalition Government, with its commitment to policies such as maternity Leave for the rich to turn that around.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

(Latin) prayer of the week: Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed

In this year of faith, I've been looking at the prayers provided in Latin and English in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (plus a few extras), and I've previously looked at the Apostles Creed.

Now up until now, I've been focusing on learning the Latin of the prayer.

But this week, I actually want to focus on the English, for this is a prayer where most traditionalists at least will actually know the Latin reasonably well, from Mass each week, but may be rather less familiar with the text of official new translation.  Accordingly, consider this a chance to catch up so you don't have to clutch the sheet at the next Novus Ordo Mass you happen to be at!

Why not use the Nicene Creed?

Mind you of course, in many dioceses today (most notably Adelaide and my own (something our new Archbishop could usefully fix!) the form of the Creed traditionally utilised in the liturgy, namely the Nicene-Constantinopolitan, is no longer used in English at Mass.

There are I suspect, three key reasons for that.

First, the new version is more confronting.  It actually translates the Latin 'credo' literally, so it starts 'I believe', and requires our individual affirmation to its clauses, not offering the effective opt out of the 'we believe' of the older version.  The new version requires us not to just 'acknowledge' one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, for example, but to 'confess' it, and one can't help but suspect that many at Mass actually don't want to 'confess' anything at all.

Secondly, it uses big words that some bishops seem to think the laity are incapable of understanding, such as 'consubstantial' and 'incarnate'.  Some complain about the feminisation of the liturgy - personally, I think what they are mostly pointing to is the dumbing down of it to the lowest possible common denominator.

And worst of all to some minds, it uses 'non-inclusive' language, like 'man' as a collective descriptor for us all.

In reality the Nicene Creed has often been controversial.

Its initial formulation at the Council of Nicaea in 325 had to be amended at the Council of Constantinople in 381 in order to counter the heresies that arose in the wake of Nicaea.  And of course, the addition of the 'and the son' (filioque) to counter Arianism in the Western Church continues to cause endless angst and debate with the Orthodox.

Nonetheless, it has long been regarded as the more definitive of the Creeds - the Apostles Creed, for example, is not much used in the East.

Accordingly, here is the Latin, together with the official translation used in the Novus Ordo Mass.

Symbolum Nicænum Costantinopolitanum

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipoténtem, Factorem cæli et terræ,visibílium ómnium et invisibilium
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible.

Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigénitum et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sǽcula:
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,

génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri: per quem ómnia  facta sunt;
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem, descéndit de cælis,
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto ex Maria Víirgine  et homo factus est,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto, passus et sepúltus est,
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried,
et resurréxit tértia die secúndum Scriptúras,
and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

et ascéndit in cælum, sedet ad  déxteram Patris,
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

et íterum ventúrus est cum glória, iudicáre vivos et mórtuos, cuius regni non erit finis.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

Credo in Spíritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificántem,
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
qui ex Patre Filióque procédit,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
qui cum Patre et  Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur, qui locútus est per prophétas.
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

Et unam sanctam cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.
 believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
Confíteor unum Baptísma in remissiónem peccatórum.
 I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
Et exspécto resurrectiónem mortuórum, et vitam ventúri sæculi.
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


Sing the Creed!

And for a change, an English version of the text, sung to one of the traditional chant tone, just to show it can be done convincingly!


For those who want to learn the Latin chant versions though, go over and take a look at the excellent Corpus Christi Watershed Kyrie , which offers alternate versions of all of the usual chant tones to learn from.                                    

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross

Rorate Caeli tweeted today, under the heading 'Trads against triumphalism' (!),  a reminder that this coming week includes the traditional Ember Days - which might perhaps usefully include further prayers and fasting for peace in Syria given President Obama's extraordinary speech lauding American Exceptionalism last week (and Mr Putin's equally interesting reply in the New York Times!).

But today's great feast is equally a reminder of the dangers of triumphalism, as the story of it from the readings for Matins make clear:

Chosroes of Persia, having, in the last days of the reign of the Emperor Phocas, overrun Egypt and Africa, in 614, took Jerusalem, where he slaughtered thousands of Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of the Lord, which Helen had put upon Mount Calvary. Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, moved by the thought of the hardships and horrid outrages of war, sought for peace, but Chosroes, drunken with conquest, would not allow of it even upon unfair terms. Heraclius therefore, being set in this uttermost strait, earnestly sought help from God by constant fasting and prayer, and through His good inspiration gathered an army, joined battle with the enemy, and prevailed against three of Chosroes his chief captains, and three armies.

Chosroes was broken by these defeats, and when in his flight, in 628, he was about crossing the Tigris, he proclaimed his son Medarses partner in his kingdom. Chosroes' eldest son Siroes took this slight to heart, and formed a plot to murder his father and brother, which plot he brought to effect soon after they had come home. Then he got the kingdom from Heraclius upon certain terms, whereof the first was that he should give back the Cross of the Lord Christ. The Cross therefore was received back after that it had been fourteen years in the power of the Persians, and (in 629) Heraclius came to Jerusalem and bore it with solemn pomp unto the Mount whereunto the Saviour had borne it.

This event was marked by a famous miracle. Heraclius, who was adorned with gold and jewels, stayed perforce at the gateway which leadeth unto Mount Calvary, and the harder he strove to go forward, the harder he seemed to be held back, whereat both himself and all they that stood by were sore amazed. Then spake Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, saying See, O Emperor, that it be not that in carrying the Cross attired in the guise of a Conqueror thou showest too little of the poverty and lowliness of Jesus Christ. Then Heraclius cast away his princely raiment and took off his shoes from his feet, and in the garb of a countryman easily finished his journey, and set up the Cross once more in the same place upon Calvary whence the Persians had carried it away. That the Cross had been put by Heraclius in the same place wherein it had first been planted by the Saviour caused the yearly Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to become the more famous thenceforward.

Today we can give special thanks for the coming into effect of Summorum Pontificum.

But we should also remember that the commitment to poverty and charity is not an optional add-on for our faith, but rather something integral to it.

Archbishop-elect Prowse to Canberrans...

Source: ABC

Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese's new Archbishop-elect+Prowse gave a media conference yesterday, and there are write ups of his comments in Canberra Times and on the ABC website, as well as a letter to Catholics in the Archdiocese, and a youtube snippet (see below).

Spiritual and physical poverty

He made a particular pitch for concern about the poor, in line with Pope Francis' directions, as well as suggesting that the message of the Church for Indigenous Australians should be a priority.

But the Canberra Times' typically secularist spin was that he was reluctant to be seen in front of his new Cathedral:  "Eventually he was lured by the media pack to the front of St Christopher's for photographs, but Canberra's new Catholic Archbishop didn't want his first public event to be held at the cathedral."

Maybe, though in fact the ABC features a nice enough photo of the Cathedral (see above).  And in any case fair enough given the message from the top.

The CT reports that Archbishop-elect Prowse said:

"God loves everybody but he has favourites and they are the poor,'' Bishop Prowse said later.

"So, get to know the poor and where the poor are ministered and then you're going to have a very clear indication of where God is.

"I'm taking my lead also particularly from Pope Francis where he's told us to get out of the office and spend more time on the periphery and on the margins; get to know the poor and let them get to know you.''

And it is true that some Catholic organisations in Canberra do a lot of good work for the poor - every week I see the wonderful Sisters of Charity, for example, running a soup kitchen in the park near my house, and I do see the homeless welcomed in at least some of our parish churches.

But equally, all too many Canberra parishes and communities reflect a middle class ethos that is hard to counter in a town like Canberra with extremely high education and average earning levels: so easy to assume that everyone is well off, and forget that some are living on very low or non-existent incomes indeed.  That some are isolated in their homes without access to transport due to illness, disability or poverty, and so find it hard to get to Mass and other events.

One of the key challenges for the Church in Canberra-Goulburn, as elsewhere, I think, is to rebuild the parish infrastructure that goes with being a genuine community that cares first of all for its own, as well as reaches out to others in need.

All the same, I really hope that the Pope, and more particularly our bishops, might also start selling a little more the message that spiritual poverty is an even greater problem than material want; for while material want can be dealt with by any NGO, spiritual poverty is a problem that only the Church can deal with.

And while spiritual poverty is a particular problem for those who lack material goods (as Fr Ray Blake's now infamous post on the subject makes clear), it isn't restricted to them: it is, alas, all too evident in the banal liturgies and empty churches of the typical Canberran parish; the want of priests in the regional parts of the diocese; and in the dire spiritual state of our schools.  Bishop Prowse has a big task in front of him!

Listening and leading

Archbishop-elect Prowse also indicated that he will be doing some listening once he arrives:

Bishop Prowse said one of his first jobs would be to listen to the local Catholic community.

"One of the major mistakes in leadership - whether it be ecclesiastical or any other leadership - is you come in with a bag of agenda and you're just going to apply it in a hammery way. That's not helpful,'' he said.

Bishop Prowse was particularly keen to get to know the archdiocese's rural parishes and the concerns and the needs of their parishioners.

"It's a big rural diocese with a substantial city - Canberra - more or less in the middle of it. So, I'll be doing a lot of travelling to all the communities that I can go to get to know them.''

Engaging with priests and people in the Archdiocese is obviously important.  Anyone wanting to make changes needs to know the lie of the land, find those who will support his agenda or are at least open to being persuaded, and know where to expect opposition from.

Listening can't be a substitute for leadership though: the hard reality is that Canberra-Goulburn needs to change drastically, and that will be confronting.

The bishop made it clear, in his press conference, that he sees himself as a bishop not just for those few remaining Catholics who actually turn up at Church occasionally, but for all people living in the diocese.  That is exactly right: the Churches task is to claim back for Christ all those who have voted on the direction of the Australian Church over the last several decades with their feet; and to reach out and convert those who have not truly heard the Gospel at all.

That task cannot be accomplished by doing things the way we have been, the way people in the system are comfortable with.

True leadership, as the life of Jesus demonstrates all too clearly inevitably creates 'losers', challenges those in positions of power and thus all too often creates martyrs, whether red or white, of those seeking to make change.  Yet we need priests, bishops and laity willing to endure that martyrdom, for the literal and metaphorical blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the Church.

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross, a reminder that though the Christian life has three axes, including the Incarnation and Resurrection, it is through the Cross that we are redeemed.

But for what it is worth, I would suggest as reading for any new bishop (or indeed anyone embarking on a new leadership role) what I think is a really great book aimed at secular leaders, Leadership on the Line, by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky.  We rely on grace, the aid of the Holy Spirit and our hard won experience: but that doesn't mean we should disdain to learn the lessons available by study!

A letter from the bishop...

The Archbishop-Elect has also written a letter to members of his new Archdiocese:

Dear People of God in the Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn,

You have been waiting patiently for the Holy Father to send you a new Archbishop. Your beloved Archbishop Mark Coleridge was transferred to the Archdiocese of Brisbane about 18 months ago. Thank you for your prayerful watchfulness and intercession.

To my great surprise, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has appointed me as your Archbishop of Canberra & Goulburn. I thank the Holy Father for his trust and confidence in me to be your new Archbishop.

Totally relying on the Lord Jesus’ grace and mercy, I accept humbly and wholeheartedly this appointment.

It happens in the Year of Faith. May this appointment be seen as a way of strengthening our faith in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

I come to you as a simple pilgrim in Christ. We are largely unknown to each other. Yet, already we know each other in a certain way by the bonds that unite us together in our Catholic faith. We have much time ahead to “encourage one other and build up each other” (1Thess.5/11).

The work of evangelization will continue afresh in the Archdiocese. Already you have done much. Let us gather even closer to God’s favorites: the poor and marginalized. There is a sense of urgency in the mission that still awaits us. Let us place again Jesus at the very center of this mission right now.

Until I am installed as your new Archbishop and thereafter, may I ask you most sincerely to pray for me. I have need of your prayer support.

May Jesus bless you, your families, and loved ones.

Bishop Christopher Prowse

Got some ideas for +Prowse?

I'd also invite readers from Canberra-Goulburn to think about what particular priorities they would suggest for our new bishop.  Feel free to note them in the comment box!


Above all, though, please keep the Archbishop-elect in your prayers, especially over the next few weeks and months.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Forty Days for Life: verbotten in Adelaide Archdiocese!**

Sydney Lent 40 Days for Life 2013, which was launched by patron Bishop Porteous
The Adelaide Archdiocese under Archbishop Philip Wilson, former President of the Australian Bishops Conference, is a strange, ultra-liberal place.

A place, apparently, where parishes are not even allowed to publicise pro-life activities such as the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign, lest anyone be offended at being told that abortion is murder.

Death of a diocese

Adelaide is one of those dioceses where Catholicism looks like being snuffed out sooner rather than later.

The number of priests continues to fall catastrophically (in 1990 there were nominally a hundred diocesan priests; in 2000, 91; by 2012 it was down to 74), and there are few vocations.

The proportion of Catholics was down substantially in the last census - most of them moving to the no religion group.

Some of the blame for the catastrophic state of decay there can perhaps be sheeted home to Archbishop Wilson's ultra-liberal immediate predecessor.  But the decline has continued, and if anything accelerated since Archbishop Wilson was appointed in 2000.

This is after all, the Archdiocese that had the infamous Msgr David Cappo as Vicar General for several years, even while wheeling and dealing as a pseudo-politician.

Where its leadership continues to be under a shadow due to the its current Archbishop facing to possible charges relating to the cover up of child abuse in the Hunter.

It is a place where the Church's ancient liturgical Creed, that of Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, is (surely illicitly) prohibited at Mass because, according to the diocese's website, the officially promulgated new translation fails to use 'inclusive language'.

And now, a layperson has informed me, it is a place where priests are prohibited even from publicising the 40 Days for Life campaign!

40 Days for Life: too uncomfortably confronting for some?

The 40 days for life campaign is, you would have thought, something all of our bishops would be able to get behind.  Based around prayer, fasting and a peaceful vigil at an abortion mill, it has spread around the world and proved highly effective.

And indeed, some of our bishops have given it great support.  In Sydney for example, the Lenten campaign this year was launched by Bishop Porteous, its patron there, and in Brisbane, The Catholic Leader amongst others gave it a good push.

It is the kind of event at which you'd hope that priests and bishops could just turn up to lend their moral support, as Pope Francis did a few months back.

But in Adelaide, Archbishop Wilson has now directed that priests not publicise the upcoming campaign (starting on September 25).  An email from the Vicar General "asks that you do not publicise in our church bulletins the material you may receive from time to time from Forty Days for Life or other similar organisations..."

Vicar General Fr Phillip Marshall can't even bring himself to actually use the word abortion in the explanatory note for this instruction, instead using all sorts of euphemisms and talking about how (instead of fighting abortion head on?) they are doing good things in supporting "those who have died unborn, those who have experienced the loss of unborn children, and the families and communities affected by that loss."

Rejecting the role of the laity!

The stated rationale for not supporting the campaign?  Apparently only the bishops are allowed to speak on these issues, and the laity's role is just to pay, pray and obey!

The note suggests that:

"The Archbishop, in his Pastoral Letters and other communications speaks for the whole church in expressing our care", and "In these ways the Archdiocese speaks with a united voice under the leadership of Archbishop Wilson and our message and structures of accountability are clear.  This is not always so among other organisations..."

Really?  Frankly I always find it bizarre that, despite all of the teachings of Vatican II on the role of the laity, some of our most supposedly 'liberal' bishops are so often the most autocratic in style.

The reality is that the current code of canon law (CL 215& 216) recognises the right of the laity to organise and take apostolic action without any need for official approval or control.

And what is it, precisely, about the message of 40 Days for Life that could possibly be at odds with the Archdiocesan line on such a clear cut issue as abortion?

Is it that 40 Days actually talks about God and prayer in its messaging, and is clearly closely aligned with Catholic views, rather than being ostentatiously 'ecumenical', like the trendoid Australian Religious Response to Climate Change that the very same email asks priests to promote?

Or is it just that even peaceful witness to a pro-life agenda is too 'confronting' for Archbishop Wilson?

Perhaps there really is a genuine issue with this organisation (and apparently every other pro-life organisation in Adelaide).  If so, I'd love to hear just what the problem is.

The scandal that is this diocese needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.

**And this story has been picked up by The Vortex, in one of Mr Voris' presentations.  Thanks for his kind plug for the blog - do enjoy.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A new Archbishop for Canberra-Goulburn

Bishop Christopher Prowse, of Sale, has been appointed Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, vacant since the transfer of Archbishop Mark Coleridge to Brisbane.

Bishop Prowse, 59, has been Bishop of Sale since mid-2009.

According to the press release:

"Ordained to the priesthood in August 1980, he served in a number of parishes around Melbourne before he was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in May 2003.

He was elected to the permanent committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in May this year and chairs the Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations.

Born in East Melbourne, the third of six children, Bishop Prowse was educated at St Francis Xavier Primary School and was captain of St Leo’s College in Box Hill. After attaining degrees in arts and theology, he completed a doctorate of moral theology.

His father, Frank, played for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League and Bishop Prowse remains a Hawks supporter.

His installation ceremony will be on November 19.

The liturgy of the Resurrection: countering modernist triumphalism

Ordination of Fr Richard Waddell
for the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross, September 8
Pope Francis has resumed giving his daily sermons at Domus Martha.

Unfortunately, as previously, the selected extracts that have been made public are often hard to interpret, whether because they lack the full context of his homily, or because the Pope is using a shorthand that may not be meaningful to many.

Accordingly, his recent comments on 'triumphalism' have generated a lot of confusion as people wonder whether they are another attack on traditionalists, and what exactly he means by the claim that triumphalism reflects a lack of belief in the Resurrection.

I would suggest, however, that the Pope's main message actually seems to be about the underlying reasons for the reluctance to evangelise in the wider Church today, and I actually do think that is an important message to reflect on.

Fear and demoralisation in the Church today

He apparently said (inter alia):

"Christians are called to proclaim Jesus without fear, without shame and without triumphalism...The Pope also stressed the risk of becoming a Christian without the Resurrection and reiterated that Christ is always at the center of our life and hope... 

“Jesus is the Winner who has won over sin and death.” ...He was referring to the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians in which the Saint recommends we walk with Jesus " because he has won, and we walk with him in his victory “firm in the faith." 

...The Pope then recalled that when St. Paul spoke to the Greeks in Athens he was listened to with interest up to when he spoke of the resurrection. "This makes us afraid, it best to leave it as is." Pope Francis said.

Continuing his Homily the Pope recalled the Apostles, who closed themselves up in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews, even Mary Magdalene is weeping because they have taken away the Lord's Body . " …they are afraid to think about the Resurrection." The Pope noted that “there are also the Christians who are embarrassed. They are embarrassed to "confess that Christ is risen."

The Gospels show us several stages of the formation of the Church: the stages of curiosity and seeking, of instruction in the faith and ways of living during Christ's three year mission; in a stage of despair and demoralisation, after the death of Jesus; of joy and preparation, after the Resurrection and Ascension; and finally in a state of deep commitment, mission and martyrdom, after Pentecost.

Which stage are we at?  Too often today, it seems to me, the Church around the world seems locked into a state of paralysis, despair and demoralisation, unable to make the radical changes of direction necessary to counter the effects of the child abuse crisis, the collapse of morality in our society, and the lack of commitment to vocation and state of life.

In Australia at least, the 'new evangelisation' remains more talked about than actually acted upon, with few real efforts being made to convert lapsed Catholics back to the Church; while the mission ad gentes is pretty much non-existent, replaced instead by efforts to promote better 'understanding' between religions.

And instead of taking a hard look at themselves, the conservatives who have dominated in recent times are instead turning on traditionalists and others that actually are making some inroads, the classic example being move to suppress the use of the TLM in the highly successful Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Nor are traditionalists always in a better place, too often, perhaps, locking themselves away in that upper room that might perhaps be preparation for mission, but sometimes seems to turn it into a ghetto instead.

The rejection of the Resurrection

Pope Francis is right, I think, to point to a lack of belief in the Resurrection as the underlying cause of our fear and despair.

And it is liberals and some neo-conservatives, rather than traditionalists, I think, that the Pope's comments best fit:

"...there is the group of Christians who "in their hearts do not believe in the Risen Lord and want to make theirs a more majestic resurrection than that of the real one . These, he said are the “triumphalist” Christians.

" They do not know the meaning of the word ' triumph ' the Pope continued, so they just say “triumphalism”, because they have such an inferiority complex and want to do this ... 

When we look at these Christians , with their many triumphalist attitudes, in their lives, in their speeches and in their pastoral theology, liturgy, so many things, it is because they do not believe deep down in the Risen One . He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won. 

"This, the Holy Father added, is the message that Paul gives to us " Christ "is everything," he is totality and hope, "because he is the Bridegroom , the Winner " . 

Liberal Jesuit Fr James Martin suggests that:

"Triumphalism is usually (in Catholic circles) taken to mean a particular approach to our understanding of the Catholic church. Rather than focusing on the "triumph" of the Resurrection, we instead focus on our own "triumph," as in: "We Catholics are perfect. We are always right. We have all the answers. Everyone else is wrong, and they have nothing to offer us whatsoever, and we're going to let them know it--often." Basically, it is a focus on how great we are. In other words, triumphing in ourselves rather than in the Risen Christ. 

It also implies assuming, seeking and enjoying a position of power, dominance and even ruthlessness, as well as forgetting the need to be humble, gentle, charitable and--as Jesus asked--a servant rather than a master. Triumphalism, again in Catholic circles, is usually taken to mean the opposite of humility in the presentation of our message--which is, paradoxically, about triumph, i.e., Jesus's. It is related to the sin of pride."

Frankly that lack of charity and humility seems more applicable to the authors of the string of attacks on 'rad trads' of the 'Do we need person x', or I'm going to go on being a jerk' variety, than anything that comes from traditionalists, however intense their critique.

And it also fits that 'mainstream' school of liturgy and practice that has dominated our parishes since Vatican II.

Consider, for example, the arrogance exhibited at those funeral masses that instantly canonise the deceased, and where the priest tells the congregation that we are a 'Resurrection People' whose place in heaven is guaranteed, regardless of how we act and what we believe in this world.

Consider the arrogance of those Masses that are a celebration of self and the particular community rather than worship of God.

Consider the triumphalism of those who refuse to kneel to receive the body and blood of Christ, reject the historical reality of the Resurrection in favour of a 'spiritual explanation', and refuse to acknowledge Christ's divinity.

Consider the problem of those who, like Prime Minister-elect Mr Abbott, apparently see their 'faith' as nothing more than something that offers a bit of occasional comfort, without the need to actually attend Mass regularly, or with any other consequences for their actions:

"Australia’s incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his Catholic faith does not determine his politics in any way...

The purpose of religious faith, Mr Abbott said, was to “assure people that it’s not entirely meaningless” and that “regardless of what happens, there will be some solace and comfort at some point”."

These, I would suggest, are the true manifestations of triumphalism in the Church today that need to be fought against.

Towards a liturgy, theology and pastoral practice that reflects the Resurrection

How do we counter this modernist triumphalism and replace it with the true triumph of Holy Cross, that we celebrate especially this coming Saturday?

Pope Benedict XVI has actually written extensively on this very subject.  In his Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, for example, he drew attention to the traditional iconography that confronts us at Mass in a Church.  As we look towards the altar and worship, he pointed out, we traditionally looked up to see the image of Christ as king, pointing us to our participation in the heavenly banquet of the wedding feast; as we left the Church, we saw an the image of final judgment as a reminder to orient our lives towards this.

The liturgy, he consistently argued, is meant to be something transcendent, a foretaste of heaven that reminds us of our ultimate destiny.  It is for this reason that we need sublime music, attention to the ritual and beauty in the liturgy.  For, he argued, it is only by being lifted out of ourselves that we can confront the prospect of final judgment depicted above the door as we leave the Church, and thus be inspired to do good in our lives.

The liturgy of the Resurrection, then, is not the banal and boring Mass that passes as the norm in most parishes; it is not the rock music extravaganzas that celebrate the infiltration of secularism.  Rather it is those Masses that truly honour and worship God through their beauty.

It does not end with the liturgy of course: a real belief in the Resurrection also requires that our practice does not end at the Church door, but rather embraces prayer, charitable works, missionary work, and of working for the social reign of Christ, that is, of putting our faith into practice in the public sphere.

What is triumphalism?

The confusion over what the Pope is talking about, and about the true role of our faith, is surely an understandable one.

Look up a standard dictionary, and it will tell you that triumphalism means "excessive celebration of the defeat of one's enemies or opponents" (Collins).  Personally, I can't see much of that going on in the Church at the moment!

Worse, look up Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary and it will tell you that triumphalism is "a term of reproach leveled at the Catholic Church for the claim that she has the fullness of divine revelation and the right to pass judgment on the personal and social obligations of mankind."

Now it is true that many in the Church these days, including the Pope, sometimes seem reluctant to maintain the Church's claim to the fullness of revelation, instead insisting that elements of the truth can be found everywhere (which is true of course in the same way that a stopped watch tells the correct time twice a day) and that false religions should be accorded respect.  And it is equally true that the Pope has, in one of his throwaway lines ('who am I to judge'), appeared to walk away from the Church's role in insisting on moral absolutes.  All the same, he has still insisted on the imperative to evangelise and convert all to Christ, so I think it is appropriate to assume that he is not really walking away from these claims about the Church.

A stronger case can indeed be made for identification of the word with the Spirit of Vatican II liberal agenda.  Some have pointed out that 'triumphalism' is one of those code words of the 1970s, used by liberals to attack the trappings of office of the Pope and bishops, elaborate liturgy and the like as manifestations of arrogance and pride (rather than as signs and symbols that point us to ultimate realities, as a traditionalist would view them).  This Pope certainly seems to be committed to advancing the cultural revolution of Paul VI when it comes to the office of the papacy, so viewing his words as another go at traditionalists and conservatives might seem, on the face of it, entirely plausible.

All the same, we should surely adopt Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of continuity in interpreting Pope Francis' agenda.  And that means that while we must indeed propose truth to others with a humility grounded in our shared humanity, as well as the knowledge that we too are sinners whose salvation is not assured, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the true counter to any false triumphalism lies in the patrimony and traditions of the Church.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Abbott Government's challenge: the common good and unrepresentative swill

Australia has a new Government and a new Prime Minister, elected decisively with what looks to be around a thirty seat majority over Labor (plus three minor party representatives).

Accordingly, we should offer our prayers for our new leaders and Government.

Some of the international reporting of this is, latched onto by Catholic news aggregation sites, are claiming Mr Abbott's win as a victory for conviction politics.  It would be nice if that were true, but in reality the story is a lot more complex.

A vote against Labor rather than for the Coalition?

The final outcome for Labor was dire.   They received their lowest primary vote for decades, and lost some of their best talent even before the election with the resignations of several senior Ministers when the party dumped Ms Gillard.

They deserved this defeat, both because of their utter failure to sell their successes; Mr Rudd's failure to follow through on major perceived policy challenges for the country when he was PM; Labor's repeated missteps in Government; and the awful disunity that continues to plague the party.

Alas, to the consternation of many Labor supporters, the results were not quite dire enough, for Mr Rudd has managed to scrape back into the Parliament himself on preferences and seems determined not to resign his seat despite the widespread acknowledgement of the damage his campaign of destabilisation did under Gillard, and the dire effects of his chaotic style combined with rank amateurism and policy development on the run during the campaign.

Yet the curious thing about the outcome is that the Coalition won not with a huge swing to them in the primary vote, but rather off the back of third party preferences.  Indeed, the Coalition primary vote actually went down in Queensland, WA and the ACT.

Nationally, the Labor vote was down 4.1%.  But the Coalition primary vote was up only 1.7%.  The Green vote went down substantially (by 3.4%) - but the primary vote for other parties was up 5.7%.

A mandate?

Some of the Coalition gains, it is true, reflect much greater than average swings in places like Tasmania.

But on the face of it, many people registered a protest vote and then pumped for the perceived least worst party  - viz the Coalition - with their preferences.

That suggests Mr Abbott has a challenge on his hands to convince the electorate that his is a good Government.

Indeed, the real task is surely to rebuild trust in Government of any kind, a trust that has been undermined in part by his own attacks not so much on the policies, but on the very legitimacy of the previous Government: there has been an inevitable spillover from this line of attack and it will take a long time to repair the damage.

That task won't be helped by grab bag of 'micro' parties who do look like controlling the Senate and could block key elements of Mr Abbott's agenda.

Indeed, there is a very real prospect of another election sooner rather than later if Mr Abbott's comments before the election are to be believed.  Last night on the ABC's 7.30 three of the Senator's made it clear that whatever the result in the lower house, they see themselves as having a mandate to challenge the Government of the day.  Senator Madigan (DLP) said:

"Well, look, Leigh, the Government is made up in the Lower House. The Senate is a house of review. I hope truly that the Senate will return to being a true house of review that reviews legislation in the best interests of all Australians. And being elected to Parliament, to the Senate, is a privilege, it's not a licence to bludgeon. But it is a licence to put forward people's concerns and to express sections of our society that get ignored."

Buying influence

So who are these minor parties?

On the positive side, the Green vote was substantially down.  The bad news was that they managed to retain their lower house seat, and Senator Hanson-Young seems set to be re-elected.  But they no longer hold the balance of power in either house.

Fortunately the extreme libertarianism of the Wikileaks Party didn't get any traction, but the equally libertarian 'Liberal Democrats' do look set to win a seat.

And eccentric multi-millionaire (or billionaire depending on who you believe) Clive Palmer seems to have demonstrated that money does indeed talk in Australia today - having been tossed out of the Coalition for his excessive demands, he now looks set to enter Parliament himself, accompanied by a couple of Senators.

The oddest outcomes though is surely the likely election of a Senator for the 'Motoring Enthusiasts party' for Victoria, despite being ranked thirteenth in terms of primary votes in that State, and the 'Australian Sports Party' for WA, off the back of a mere 1,908 primary votes!

The problem was the bizarre web of preference deals.  Here in the ACT, with around 30 candidates, filling out all of one's preferences 'under the line' was feasible; most people I know in other States gave up all good intentions and voted above the line (accepting the party they voted for's distribution of preferences) when faced with the size (and small type!) of the ballot paper.

I'm all in favour of third parties that actually do reflect the views of some part of the electorate.

But never has former PM Paul Keating's famous description of the Senate as unrepresentative swill looked more apposite.

Let's hope that this proves a spur to the introduction of optional preferential voting, so you can stop numbering after you run out of people you actually want to vote for, and other changes to ensure that the common good really is reflected in the outcome.

Look forward to interesting times.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Devotion to the Sacred Heart - oops!

I have to apologise for missing the chance to link up yesterday to a new blog set up to promote the First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart.

I did plan too, but I'm afraid I was rather out of it yesterday due to a rather violent allergic reaction to something I ate the day before (I've just rediscovered how bad my allergy to milk is!).

But it is not yet too late at least in some parts of the world, and do go take a look at the resources over there in any case, and I'll try to remember to give a prompt next month.

Tradition and traditionalism: more than just dogma; time for genuine debate

For those who follow the blogosphere, there is a very tedious war going on between American neo-conservatives (or 'neo-Catholics if you prefer), and traditionalists.

I'm not going to get into a 'he said/she said' blow by blow commentary on it, because, while some of the contributions are quite entertaining, civil and/or useful, most are anything but.

All the same, I thought it might be useful to correct things that I think are outright errors that are being propagated, and make a suggestion on a way forward.

What genuine 'dialogue' looks like

First, perhaps both sides might take a deep breath, and find some sensible representatives to conduct a more formal debate in one or more suitable forums, rather than continuing to firing flames from their respective bunkers to no useful end.

On this, they might consider, for example, imitating their European counterparts.

A couple of years back, the UK Catholic Herald ran a series of  'letters' constituting a dialogue between Catholic traditionalists and conservatives, with the SSPX perspective represented by Moyra Doorly, and the neo-conservatives by Fr Aidan Nichols OP.

Both sides were extremely respectful of the others positions, and genuinely tried to understand them, and to delineate areas of both agreement and disagreement.

The exchanges have been published in a great book called The Council in Question A Dialogue with Catholic Traditionalism, a book well worth reading (buy it though the link in my sidebar!).

Traditionalists as critics

In fact one of the important contributions of the book, I think, is the attempt to set out what is and isn't the subject of legitimate debate from each perspective.

Someone claimed recently in the comment box on this blog that traditionalists were cafeteria catholics not because they rejected doctrine (as the term is generally used) but because they had the nerve to criticise practices approved by the Church such as communion in the hand, and take issue with things endorsed by Vatican II.  This, my correspondent claimed, constituted setting themselves over the bishops.

Now you might think this is an extreme view - and it is.  But it is a fairly commonly espoused one from a certain extreme of US 'conservatism'.  Over at Catholic Answers, for example Fr Paul Scalia recently wrote something straight along these lines, and someone attacked even the very mild criticisms that appeared on a New Liturgical Movement post on a Liturgical conference Mass which involve a puppet of something that may have been a fish, flame or flying spaghetti monster.  And there have been more than a few blog posts in this vein from the neo-con camp in their current war on trads.

Yet this position stands in stark contrast with that expressed in The Council in Question mentioned above, which comes with a forward endorsing the usefulness of such debate from our very own Cardinal Pell, often viewed as something of a conservative hero in the US.

The Cardinal's forward includes a forthright acknowledgment that "many Catholic communities have been guilty of self-harm, ignorantly encouraging the secularization of institutions".   And he summarises the key question in the book which he hopes will be widely read as "whether this self-harm came from illegitimate appeals to "the spirit of Vatican II" or can be sheeted home to doctrinal errors in the Council teachings." (p viii)

Cardinal Pell's endorsement of debate, and Fr Aidan Nichols' analysis of the question of legitimate debate stands in stark contrast to this US conservative fundamentalism.

Fr Aidan is certainly no traditionalist - though there is much that a traditionalist can agree with in his work, there are also points of departure - for a number of his books include the semi-standard words of dissociation of the Tracey Rowland and friends variety.

All the same, he says:

"We are at one in saying that any Catholic may legitimately call into question the wisdom of the Council's prudential statements - about the reform of worship, say, or the helpfulness or otherwise of the Gospel of contemporary culture.  Where we differ is in this: I do not believe we have a similar liberty where the doctrinal statements of the Council are concerned even if we find these to be in some regard ambiguous in character." (p87)

Fr Aidan also provides a useful summary of just why debate on pastoral decisions is legitimate:

"Matters that turn on the exercise of practical wisdom in particular sets of circumstances do not involve the "charism of truth" given to the total episcopate, under and with the pope..."

He points to many past such decisions now set aside, such as Jews being made to wear distinctive dress (Fourth Lateran Council), and agrees that some Vatican II decisions might well fall in the same category (p99).

Where he differs from Ms Doorly's position is on questions of dogma.  But even on this, he argues that the solution is properly conducted theological debate respectful of what is said, so that, as has happened in the past Councils, unbalanced, ambiguous or insufficiently comprehensive formulations can be supplemented later by subsequent Councils or other interventions by the Magisterium (p 100; a good example in relation to Vatican II, he suggests, may be in relation to the inerrancy of Scripture).

Dogma is not the sum of tradition

One of the underlying problems in this particular war, I think, are some errors about the nature of Tradition.

Big Pulpit, today, for example, provides a link to a piece by Anthony Layne which claims that the problem with traditionalists is they conflate liturgy and devotional practices with the Apostolic Tradition.

It is true I think, that some traditionalists do go a step too far in defending the TLM and other practices from modern assaults on it - rites and devotional practices can and do change over time, even non-organically (consider the reforms of Pius X).  All the same, it is quite clear, as Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly stated, that the liturgical traditions of the Church are part of the Apostolic Tradition and cannot simply be reduced to the words of consecration in the Mass.

In fact Mr Layne appears to conflate Apostolic Tradition with doctrine, which is just as much as an error as the one he claims traddies succomb to.

He claims that "The apostolic tradition...refers to the entire body of Church doctrine".  Well no.
As I've commented over there:

"The Apostolic Tradition cannot be reduced to just doctrine. Have a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church - or better still the summary in the Compendium. It defines the Apostolic Tradition as "the transmission of the message of means of preaching, bearing witness, institutions, worship and inspired writings."

The Catholic faith is not just a body of doctrines, not just what we believe, but also a way of praying (worship) and a way of living (morality, the golden rule, charity, joy etc).

The Mass is not simply a discipline, but something intrinsic to the tradition that cannot be reduced to the mere words of institution. That is not to say it can't be modified - of course it can within certain limits, hence the existence of different rites.

Traditionalists are right in insisting on respecting the continuity of our institutions, worship and other means of transmitting the tradition because the Church has always insisted on this - take a look at the Council of Trent (and earlier) pronouncements on tradition, for example, which emphasize that the Gospel is more than just written words."

Fr Blake on the poor

On the normally very good Pewsitter this morning I came across a headline saying "UK Catholic Priest: 'The poor are lying, drug-abusing illegitimates'; Pope Francis wouldn't approve ..."

The link is to an article mocking blogger Fr Ray Blake for a piece taking to task those who romanticise the poor, and think that solutions to poverty are easy.

Unfortunately Pewsitter failed to include a link to Fr Blake's response to the scurrilous attack on him.

Fr Blake's parish (in Brighton, UK) is surely a model one: liturgically he says both the EF and OF; in terms of practical charity, the parish runs a daily soup kitchen.

Fr Blake regularly discusses the charitable outreach of his parish and the challenges he faces personally: to suggest that he is in any way at odds with Pope Francis' emphasis on practical charity is utter nonsense.

What he has done, however, is pointed out some of the practical issues around both dealing with the poor, and some of the odd signals coming from the Pope.  And in doing so has brought the opprobrium of the secularist media upon himself.

Let's hope the Catholic media at least pick up both the responses from Fr Blake himself, and some of the others around such as those from:

Mulier Fortis;
.Caroline Farrow;
.The bones you have crushed may thrill;
.Bruvver Eccles and here;
.Creative Minority Report;
.Hermeneutic of Continuity;
.Valle Adurni;
.Idle Speculations;
Fr Zulsdorf;
Idle Speculations;
A Country Priest.