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Showing posts from January, 2015

Libby Lane, St. Margeret Clitherow & Mgr Mercer on Christian Unity

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Mgr Robert Mercer is one of those brave former Anglican bishops who put their integrity and faith before their personal well-being, affluence, and influence, and prioritised unity over their position by joining the Catholic Church.

He was educated at Grey School, Port Elizabeth and St Paul’s Theological College, Grahamstown. Ordained as a deacon in 1959 and as a priest a year later, his first post was as a curate at Hillside, Bulawayo. After time at St Teilo’s Carmarthen, he returned to his homeland.

In 1970, he was deported from South Africa because of his stand against apartheid, specifically for running, with other Anglican clerics, a multi-racial parish at Stellenbosch University. He was then chaplain of St Augustine's School, Penhalonga and then rector of Borrowdale, Harare.

Mercer was ordained as a bishop in Matabeleland in 1977 and served in the midst of a civil war. From 1988 until his retirement in 2005 he was the metropolitan bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Ca…

The Missionary Option

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The School of the Annunciation are holding a Guild Day this Saturday, 31st January at St. Patrick's, 21a Soho Square, London W1D 4NR. This will present an excellent opportunity to spend a day deepening your faith and networking with other Catholics.

The day will constitute a conference on the New Evangelisation with the wonderful Bishop Philip Egan of the Diocese of Portsmouth as keynote speaker. Bishop Egan will present a discourse on Evangelii Gaudium, 27. A particularly interesting paragraph of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation as it speaks of the indispensable contribution to ecclesial renewal made by mission.

This may come as a surprise to many Catholics and others who read the news headlines, as opposed the Pope's actual words. He has been quoted as saying that he “doesn’t want to convert Evangelicals”, although, as usual, once one reads behind the report of a remembered conversation someone had with the Pope, we find a different story.

In any case, I think Bishop…

The Papal Plane Game

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And this, my friends, is why no faithful, intelligent Catholic should ever buy or even read The Tablet.

I mean, how on earth did Christopher Lamb get to this ridiculous leap of logic from Pope Francis' words, words which reaffirmed his rejection of population control programmes as an example of “ideological colonisation” and praised Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception?!!

The Pope is asked a question on a plane, the question is this:
Christoph Schmidt:Holy Father, first of all I would like to say: Thank you very much for all the impressive moments of this week. It is the first time I accompany you, and I would like to say thank you very much. My question: you have talked about the many children in the Philippines, about your joy because there are so many children, but according to some polls the majority of Filipinos think that the huge growth of Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the enormous poverty in the country. A Fil…

Breeding Like Rabbits

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Just when we thought it was all over...



...we forgot about the plane journey home!
The BBC news at 10 was classic, as Huw Edwards asked the Religion Correspondent, Caroline Wyatt "Has the Pope changed Catholic teaching on contraception?". The question which has been asked time and time and time again. The answer is always the same "no". Wyatt actually rather impressed me with her grasp of the Holy Father's personality. She commented that the language used was unprecedented, but although we are not used to hearing this sort of language from the Vatican, nothing has changed.

Pope Francis speaks colloquially, he is understood by normal people. He is having a chat - not authoring a theological tract. If he read something in Vaticanese or Theologicalese who would understand? Perhaps only those of us who have spent years studying and following such things. The reality of this style is that Pope Francis is getting through to people in an important way. He is recounting…

Pope-tastic Visit to Philippines!

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Well, Pope Francis is a lot of things, boring isn't one of them! This trip to Asia has been amazing and often very moving!

I found this moment particularly touched me over the weekend when a 12-year-old girl asked Pope Francis a tearful question about why God allows suffering:


This young lady, Palomar, spoke after Jun Chura — a 14-year-old rescued from the streets by the same foundation — described life on the streets as a struggle to find enough to eat, to fight the temptation of drug use and glue sniffing, and to avoid adults looking for the young to exploit and abuse. Covering her face with her hand as she wept in front of the microphone, Palomar asked the Pope: 
“Why did God let this happen to us?”

The Holy Father cast aside his prepared text and said:

“Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears,”

I am so struck by the simple profundity of that comment and I am tearing up just writing this! In an incredibly compassionate moment, the Pope kissed t…

Pope Francis: Paul VI was right about Contraception.

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I think this is a very important moment. It could see the turning of the media tide with regard to this Papacy, the moment when the secular world finally realises the Pope is Catholic.

Pope Francis has spoken out at an address to families in the Philippines to praise Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical opposing contraception and affirming Church teaching on sexuality and human life saying Paul VI was right to warn against contraception.

I'm not sure the Holy Father will understand how important his remarks are for all those concerned westerners who have been following every word of his papacy with concern, looking for him to re-affirm Church teaching. As far as he is concerned, there is no question regarding Church teaching, he seems completely oblivious to the maelstrom of concern that swirls around him, whipped up by the secular media, and that makes these comments all the more important in the context in which they are spoken.

Speaking of Pope Paul VI, the author of the pivotal …

The Gift of Offence

OK you might want to make yourself a snack, a nice cup of something and sit down before diving into this blog. If you're going to do it all in one hit properly, it could take some time to read the stuff and watch all the stuff.

In the light of recent events, and if you have the time to spare, it might be worth watching/ listening to this from Martin Rowson on The Gift of Offence.

I don't agree with everything he says, or, perhaps more pertinently, the way he says it. I am also a little disturbed by his apparent preoccupation with faeces, but despite these minor issues, I do think he makes some excellent points. Points like the fact that killing someone is far more offensive than looking at a drawing, no matter how offensive that drawing might be. Also, that we decide to be offended ourselves, and the way in which religion typically chooses to be offended. I suppose this is intrinsic when you hold something sacred. Rowson himself recounts how upset (offended?) he was at one par…

Pope Francis in Sri Lanka

Pope Francis speaks at an inter-religious meeting where he was greeted by members of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. As he arrived, a Hindu leader clothed the Holy Father in a saffron robe, which is a Tamil sign of honour.

Pope Francis explained how his mission is one of healing and peace, and he constantly returns to these themes. Pope Francis was speaking at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall during the first day of his papal visit and he spoke in English. 
Here is his speech in full from Rome Reports:



In the speech, Pope Francis expresses how he comes to Sri Lanka to confirm the Christians there in their Catholic faith and to pray with them. He speaks of his joy at sharing time with those of other religions too while he is in Sri Lanka. He explains that he and the Church seek the welfare of Sri Lankans, and encourages dialogue which he considers essential to foster mutual respect, whilst emphasising the value of each individual t…

Imagine the Irony...

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I watched Sky News this morning as I was getting ready to go to work and noted will a sigh and a roll of my eyes how much coverage celebrities at the Golden Globe awards got for sporting slogans which (apparently) demonstrate their solidarity with those killed for penning rude and offensive cartoons in Paris. The BBC is exactly the same of course.

What I didn't hear mention of was the 2,000 people killed in Nigeria recently by Boko Harem in Nigeria. Here is the story in The Guardian. It was left to the Catholic Archbishop of Jos and president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference, Ignatius Kaigama, to speak out about that attrocity.

Archbishop Kaigama highlighted the stark difference between the west's willingness to act when 17 people were killed by militants in France and the approach to the slaughter in Africa.

Estimates of the death toll in Baga and surrounding villages, which were razed by fire, have been put at up to 2,000. Most of the dead were women, children and the el…

Charlie Hebdo—Rights and Responsibilities

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The Charlie Hebdo tragedy unleashed a tide of liberal comment which seemed to suggest that we all have some sort of moral duty to be as rude and insulting as possible to each other in the name of free speech. Lots of people who would not read Charlie Hebdo, or condone its grotesque attempts at humour were asserting "Je suis Charlie!"

Freedom of speech as an absolute right is nonsense; all rights have to be tempered by responsibility.

Surely the more accomplished human being might be recognised by their ability to get their point across, no matter how delicate, without causing undue offence? At what point did we de-evolve into a society that thinks being offensive is a trait we should applaud and defend as something key and vital to our healthy operation?

Also, satire attacks power and comforts those who are subjugated in some way by this power. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons are salacious, rude, sexual, and plain filth as far as I'm concerned.

Following my comments on the 8…

What is the Plan for Walsingham?

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Walsingham is a most interesting place. Certainly it is one of the oldest Marian shrines in Europe; people have been coming here in pilgrimage since 1061 when Mary appeared in a vision to Richeldis de Faverches, a devout English noblewoman. Before the Reformation, Walsingham was one of the three foremost pilgrimage sites in the world, known as "England's Nazareth", along with Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostella. However, In 1538, the Reformation caused the Priory property to be handed over to the King’s Commissioners and incredibly, this extraordinary and ancient building was torn down. The famous statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and burnt.

After the destruction of the Shrine, Walsingham ceased to be a place of pilgrimage. Devotion was necessarily in secret until after Catholic Emancipation (1829) when public expressions of faith were finally allowed once again.

It wasn't until Charlotte Pearson Boyd purchased the 14th century Slipper Chapel in …

Ordinariate Epiphany

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Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be invited to the beautiful Ordinariate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in Warwick Street by my friend Fr. Jeff Woolnough for a service of Carols for Epiphany.

The Ordinariate has quickly become a watchword for orthodoxy and beautiful liturgy and it was really interesting to see how many people were there that I knew.

The beautiful event was led by Mgr Keith Newton, and featured readings from the works of Bl John Henry Newman, T S Eliot and G K Chesterton, as well as seasonal lessons from the Scriptures which ended with the Gospel; John 2; the wedding feast at Cana. I thought this was brilliant. These weren't random readings picked out because they were nice. The readings were carefully chosen and ordered to lead to this crescendo of epiphany! I really got the sense we were being taught something; that something important was being revealed to us. You see, if we consider the chronological implications of the Cana event, we…

Charlie Hebdo

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Obviously, I am utterly appalled by the violence in Paris. But I am also appalled by the violence in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. Yes I am cross about the people who have been killed for poking fun at Islam, the gloating gunmen shouting "We have avenged Mohammed" as they make off, but I am also cross about the "collateral damage" and innocent people killed in Muslim countries. War begets war, violence begets violence and despite the fact that, at the time of the 7/7 bombings in London, Tony Blair stated that the violence we are suffering was not "in response to a particular policy", what we see time and time again is Muslims making the claim that it is:


This is not an isolated opinion. Twitter is rife with such statements this morning:


Muslim friends have tried to tell me before that Muslims like this are not Muslims. Or that Islamic violence is not motivated by religious zeal but by political motives (see here). Is the Charlie Hebdo atrocity motivate…