Sunday, 29 November 2009

Papal Vespers

Thanks to NLM for the above and other screen grabs from the Papal Vespers last evening for the first Sunday of Advent.

The Holy Father now has a new ferula, or pastoral staff, donated by the Circolo San Pietro, and similar to the one used by Blessed Pope Pius IX. More information at WDTPRS

Novus Ordo aniversary

Today, the first Sunday of Advent, is, liturgically speaking, the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, the Missal of Pope Paul VI. to mark the anniversary, the New York Times has published an Op-Ed piece by Kenneth J. Wolfe on Latin Mass Appeal.

This morning, as I do each week, I offered Mass in the older form of the Roman Rite, alongside our three other precept Masses which are in English according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI. I agree with Wolfe when he says:
40 years of the new Mass have brought chaos and banality into the most visible and outward sign of the church. Benedict XVI wants a return to order and meaning. So, it seems, does the next generation of Catholics.

"The Martyr's Crown" book

Fr Paul Keane, an alumnus of the Venerable English College at Rome, has written an excellent book about the pictures which decorate the Tribune of the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury at the College.

There is a good introduction and then a narrative description, together with colour plate reproductions, of each of the 34 newly restored paintings. In the course of describing the paintings, the book offers a helpful and sensible summary of the myths and legends relating to the early Catholic history of England, as well as giving a good introduction to the lives of the martyrs.

Available from Family Publications. Price £17.50 (232pp)

Friday, 27 November 2009

The right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue

Many thanks to Rorate Caeli for publishing a significant letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship. (See: It is not licit to deny communion on the tongue due to H1N1)

I knew from a source in England that several such letters had been sent and was waiting for one of them to be published. Such letters are not, of course, confidential. They are very carefully written and approved because the Vatican dicasteries know that they will be made public.

Rorate Caeli has the jpeg which is copied above. Fr Z has kindly posted a transcript:

Prot. N. 655/09/L

Rome, 24 July 2009

Dear _

This Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments wishes to acknowldge receipt of your letter dated 22 June 2009 regarding the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

This Dicastery observes that its Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (25 March 2004) clearly stipulates that "each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue" (n. 92, nor is it licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful who are not impeded by law from receiving the Holy Eucharist (cf. n. 91).

The Congregation thanks you for bringing this important matter to its attention. Be assured that the appropriate contacts will be made.

May you persevere in faith and love for Our Lord and his Holy Church, and in continued devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.

With every good wish and kind regard, I am,

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

(Fr. Anthony Ward, S.M.)

"Secret Harbour" blog

The Secret Harbour blog takes its title from some words of St Bruno:
Rejoice, because you have escaped the various dangers and shipwrecks of the stormy world. Rejoice because you have reached the quiet and safe anchorage of a secret harbor. Saint Bruno's letter to his sons the Carthusians
The sidebar gives the text in the original so here it is for all you Latin students:
Gaudete, quia evasistis fluctuantis mundi multimoda pericula et naufragia. Gaudete, quia quietam et tutam stationem portus secretioris obtinuistis. Ex Epistola sancti Brunonis ad filios suos Carthusienses
Jeffrey S.J. Allan, the blog author, writes from Bel Air, Maryland USA and posts on matters to do with prayer, contemplation and especially the Carthusians. There are some good Carthusian related pictures too.

I was at St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster, today to give my theology class for the novices and simply professed. The numbers are down a little but for good reasons: two of my students are now engaged in more immediate preparation for their solemn profession and are excused the distractions of theology class. After class, I always join the community for Vespers at 3.45pm. At this time of year, it is almost dark by the time Vespers finishes at about 4.30pm so we sing the Carthusian version of the solemn Salve Regina in the dark. The custom is to sing the first words kneeling and then kiss the bookrest as a sign of penance.

Parkminster has its own website which has some good photos - including the one above.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is one of those things that really illustrates the difference between Britain and the USA. It also shows me each year the way that social networking can make us aware of important occasions that others celebrate: it would have passed me by completely had I not just seen various tweets about it.

The Curt Jester has a good article pointing out that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in St Augustine, Florida on September 8, 1565. It was the first community act of religion in the first permanent European settlement in the land: it also included both Spanish and natives. See: The actual First Thanksgiving in America

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my readers in the USA and I hope you enjoy the turkey. God bless your families and God bless America!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Camberley Parish Schola CD

A friend from the parish of St Peter and St John in Camberley (part of the combined parish of Camberley and Bagshot) sends me news of a CD produced by the parish schola - a group of ordinary Catholics who get together once a week to provide good music for the parish. You can buy the CD (to be released on 30 November) or buy single mp3 tracks. It is also possible to preview the tracks. Proceeds from sales go to the local hospice at Farnham.

Chant course at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

At the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, the tradition of Gregorian Chant has been kept alive over the past decades by the community of Benedictine nuns. There is now an initiative called "Cantantibus Organis" to help others to learn more about the chant.

Each Sunday, from 9.30am, there will be a half-hour practice of the chants to be used in that day's Mass (ordinary form). After the Masses, during Advent, there will be the following lectures from 11.15am-12noon:

1) "The Introits of the Sundays in Advent"
Luigi Pastoressa, choirmaster and organist at Santa Cecilia.

2) "The ‘sound’ of the Word: Gregorian chant in the liturgy."
Dr Jordi-Augustí Pique OSB, from the monastery at Montserrat and director of the Escolania de Montserrat, the oldest surviving music school in Europe, is at Sant' Anselmo this term. He was the organist when Pope Benedict visited Montecassino on 24 May.

3) "Introduction to Liturgical Spirituality"
Monsignor Crispino Valenziano, Professor emeritus of liturgy at Sant'Anselmo.

4) "Communion antiphons for the Sundays in Advent"
Luigi Pastoressa.

I have fond memories of the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. During my time at Rome, a few of us used to go there occasionally for the dignified liturgy and beautiful chant. St Cecilia's is also a treasure of Christian art and architecture. It was founded in the 3rd century and rebuilt by Pope Paschal I in 822. The relics of St Cecilia were moved here and in 1600, Carlo Maderno carved the superb sculpture of the saint, modelled on her body as it was seen at the re-opening of her tomb. You can see the mark of the blade on her neck, and her fingers are arranged to indicate 3 and 1 in affirmation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan DeclarationI have just signed the Manhattan Declaration - it seems fairly straightforward that we should support it. Over 93,000 signatures as at the time of writing but more will always be good for this kind of campaign.

Here's the text:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Sign up here.

First Things - Christian Humanism and "The Prisoner"

David Hart has an article for First Things in which he looks at the Christian humanism of Patrick McGoohan, especially in the series "The Prisoner". (See: Imprisoned) I find from the article that David Hart is about six years younger than me because he was only four when the series was aired on US television. I remember watching Patrick McGoohan as "Danger Man" and as "Number 6", and was most impressed to read that as a Catholic with firm moral convictions, he had turned down the role of James Bond because he "objected to the idea of a hero whose chief accomplishments were killing and copulating at random."

Hart observes how remarkable it is in reviewing "Danger Man" ("Secret Agent" in the US) all these years on, that:
its central character—a handsome man in a dangerous line of work—is entirely devoid of any impulse towards brutality or promiscuity. And yet, for many of us who came of age watching him, McGoohan was the very quintessence of what it was to be cool.
Hart also reviews the new mini-series remake of "The Prisoner". Someone should have realised how impossible that was in any case, and I'm not surprised to hear that it was "utterly and irredeemably dreadful".

The rest of the review is well worth reading though, because Hart takes an intelligent look at the conscious gnosticism of the new series in contrast with the Christian humanism of the original:
The original version of The Prisoner started from the exhilarating moral certitude that there is something inviolable in the soul worth jealously preserving against the temptations of a world that all too easily dulls the conscience and offers comfortable conformity in place of spiritual liberty. Its ending involved certain moral and narrative ambiguities, but it left one with a sense of moral victory all the same, because it seemed to insist, against various modern social pieties, that it is better to be a broken and suffering person than a contented and functioning number: better the fallen image of God than a fully working part of the system.
It is not often that philosophical observations in a media review make me want to stand up and cheer.

H/T @lukecoppen on Twitter

CS&F Bill - advice on strategy

Last week I mentioned the Children, Schools and Families (CS&F) Bill as a result of a mistake that I made, some very helpful information and advice on strategy came in from various sources; for which I am most grateful. (Commenters who could not allow their comments to be published may contact me on - I would be very glad to hear from you, at least to have the chance to thank you personally.)

The current business statement for Parliament runs to 3 December and the CS&F Bill second reading is not included in it. When any progress is made, such information as the Hansard record of debates, procedural motions, lists of amendments will be posted at the dedicated page for the CS&F Bill at the Parliamentary website. There is also a link there to further information about the passage of a Bill.

It was also pointed out to me that since this session of Parliament will be very short (there is widespread speculation that Parliament will be dissolved around Easter) the opposition has considerable power to obstruct and delay Bills so that they do not complete their progress to receiving the Royal Assent, and therefore simply fall at the end of the session.

As the session nears its end, there will therefore be negotiation on remaining Bills to seek agreement on which will be allowed to pass, or which parts of them will be allowed to pass. This can mean the removal of controversial parts of Bills in order that the non-controversial elements can pass into law.

Home Educators will obviously want to get the part about the new Registration Scheme dropped from the CS&F Bill - and many parents who send children to schools will, I am sure, support them in this. Parents will also want to get the new proposals for sex and relationships education dropped. Now-ish would be a good time to write to your MP.

For some background information and links, see my previous posts:

New proposals for sex-ed - dictatorship of relativism
"All schools, including faith schools"

Monday, 23 November 2009

Chislehurst Requiem

On Saturday, Fr Briggs celebrated the annual Requiem Mass for those buried in the graveyard at St Mary's Chislehurst. I was very happy to assist as Deacon for the Mass; the Revd John Harrison, the parish Deacon, acted as subdeacon.

Mulier Fortis was there with her camera and took a fine set of pictures which are put together here in a slideshow:

I am getting more and more familiar with High Mass. Since we have a Missa Cantata every Sunday at Blackfen, I have no trouble singing either the epistle or the gospel and I find that the ceremonies are easier each time. There are one or two difference for the Requiem Mass.

On the way round the graveyard, Fr Briggs blessed the grave of the late Michael Davies. It was a pity that we did not have a special photo - perhaps next year.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

"Almighty Answers" blog

A student at the University of Edinburgh tells me of the Catholic chaplaincy there, which is run by the Dominicans. The students are fortunate to have five friars dedicated to their our spiritual care.

Last year they started up a blog called 'Almighty Answers' to encourage ordinary students (as well as anyone else who comes across the blog) to ask questions about the Faith or any other aspect of the Church. These questions are then responded to, either by one of the priests, or by a student, depending on the nature of the question.

The blog was set up and run last term during the Chaplaincy's 'Mission Week' and it has now been restarted. They welcome questions and comments ...

OU Newman Society Mass at Corpus

Photograph by James Bradley

Yesterday evening, the Abbot of Downside, Aidan Bellenger, celebrated Mass in the chapel of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, at the invitation of the Newman Society. As a former President of the Society, and a member of Corpus, I was very disappointed not to be able to take up the invitation to assist at the Mass. It is great to see photos of the chapel with its magnificent altarpiece by Rubens and the rare pre-reformation brass eagle lectern, in the context of the celebration of Mass. The Mass was celebrated in the ordinary form with Haydn's Missa in Angustiis.

Bad Vestments blog

H/T In Hoc Signo Vinces for news of the Bad vestments blog. Here is the Vision Statement:
This site is dedicated to subjecting particularly awful Christian liturgical vestments to the ridicule they so richly deserve.
Submissions are welcomed and can be e-mailed to websterglobe at juno dot com.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Book launch for "English Catholic Heroines"

The book launch for "English Catholic Heroines" the other evening was a great opportunity to catch up with some friends, as well as being a well-deserved promotion for the new book which consists of 22 short lives of women who can certainly qualify as Catholic, and can reasonably be listed as both heroines and English (the introduction discusses the criteria.)

I have been reading some of the chapters, including a very good piece by Fr Anthony Conlon on Queen Mary Tudor, and an outstanding opening chapter by Sr Etheldreda Hession OSB on Sts Hilda and Etheldreda.

Many of the contributors are "linkable" so here are some examples. The Editor is Auntie Joanna (who also wrote the chapters on Caroline Chisolm and Elinor Brent-Dyer.) Other contributors include Fiorella Nash (Elizabeth Cellier), Mac McLernon (St Anne Line), Simon Caldwell (M Riccarda Hambrough) of the Catholic Herald, Leonie Caldecott (Caryll Houselander) of Second Spring, Dora Nash (Frences Wootten), author of excellent First Communion and Confirmation programmes, and Josephine Robinson (St Margaret Clitherow) of the Association of Catholic Women.

This might well be a good Christmas present for someone in your family.

Promo video for "Arise Once More"

The DVD "Arise Once More" has public screenings next week at various venues (including Blackfen). I have just uploaded the promotional clip to YouTube:

Mgr Reilly coming to town

Mgr Reilly is the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants whose apostolate is to pray quietly and peacefully outside abortion clinics and to offer compassionate support to help women avoid abortion. (See the UK website.)

He will be in London on Friday 4 December Monsignor to give a talk entitled "Reasons for Hope in this Epic Struggle for Life". The talk will be at 7.30pm at St James's Church Hall, Spanish Place, 22 George Street, London, W1U 3QY.

Monsignor Reilly will also lead a Helpers vigil from Ealing Abbey to Mattock Lane Abortuary on Saturday 5 December. The Day begins with Mass at Ealing Abbey at 9.15am, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There will be a prayerful and peaceful procession to the local Marie Stopes Abortion clinic, with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Rosary and hymns. At 11.45am the procession returns to the Abbey for Benediction. Afterwards there will be an opportunity to chat together (please bring a packed lunch.)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Policy based evidence making

Freedom for Children to Grow is the site for the Home Education campaign run by Education Otherwise. They have an article about yesterday's Queen's Speech in which Her Majesty announces her government's legislation. One sentence was:
"Legislation will be brought forward to introduce guarantees for pupils and parents to raise educational standards"
This refers to the Children, Schools and Families Bill which will "introduce a new home educators' registration system."

A good article on the Badman Review of Home Education, which has been used to justify the new legislation, describes it as "Policy Based Evidence Making."

[Correction: many thanks to those who corrected my impression that the Bill was to be debated in the next few days. I've removed that section of the post. I'll post something more later.]

National Geographic on Mount Athos

Photo by Travis Dove

National Geographic has an illustrated article Called to the Holy Mountain. The Monks of Mount Athos which takes a sympathetic look at the life of the monks on the holy peninsula. there are also some stunning photos by Travis Dove.

H/T @lukecoppen on Twitter

Photos of the Curé D'Ars

Terry at Idle Speculations has posted a collection of photographs of the Curé d'Ars after he had died in 1859.

The photographs were taken by Camille Dolard using the wet plate collodion process invented by the Englishman Frederick Scott Archer. They are kept at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

Papa Professore on Cathedrals

Yesterday, at the General Audience address, the Holy Father moved from medieval theology to medieval cathedrals. Here's the YouTube video of the summary of his address for English speaking pilgrims.

At the Vatican website, you can read the full text in Italian of the General Audience address. If you don't read Italian, Google translate is getting better all the time ...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Excellent document from the Irish Bishops

The Irish Bishops have issued a very good statement for teachers to inform them of the way in which children who attend the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be accustomed to receiving Holy Communion. The title may be misleading - this is not an enactment about how Holy Communion is to be received but a guide for teachers so that the needs of children who regularly attend the usus antiqior are not simply ignored or contradicted through a lack of knowledge.

A pdf of the document can be obtained from the Irish Bishops' Conference website. I have reproduced it below to offer some comments in red. (The emphases in bold are in the original document.) My comments are not intended to be negative since I consider this to be a generous-hearted document - there are just a few observations on my part which I hope will be helpful.


Children who attend the extraordinary form of the Mass will receive Communion in a different manner from their classmates who attend the ordinary form of the Mass. [With regard to the formula this is true - but it should be remembered that kneeling to receive Communion is also permitted at the Ordinary Form; and indeed encouraged by the example of the Holy Father. Receiving Communion on the tongue is the normative manner of receiving in the OF - communion on the hand is permitted by indult.]

At Mass in the extraordinary form, Holy Communion is received kneeling and on the tongue. Reception in the hand or while standing is not normally permitted. [This is a welcome acceptance of the custom at the usus antiquior which should encourage people not to "make a point" by trying to insist on Holy Communion in the hand.]

Communion is received under one kind only, to emphasise the Church’s teaching that Christ is received whole and entire under the appearance of bread or wine. [Communion is given under one kind in accordance with a long-standing tradition. But this sentence does remind teachers that Christ is received whole and entire under one kind alone and it is good to see this affirmed.]

Normally the child will approach the altar with joined hands and will kneel at the Communion rails (although children making their First Communion may use a prie-dieu).

The priest recites the formula: “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul to everlasting life. Amen.) Note that the priest says “Amen”. The child should make no response. [At old rite Masses people who are not familiar with the rite frequently say "Amen" and it doesn't matter greatly. But it is heartening to see such sensitivity shown to the correct form of the rite.]

The sacrament of Confession (or reconciliation) is often available before and during Mass in churches celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form. Almost exclusively, confession will be in the traditional form, using a confessional box, rather than face-to-face with a priest. [Again, this is perfectly permissible in the newer form (see: The right to a fixed grille). But yet again, the Bishops sensibly nudge teachers in the right direction, helping them to understand that "face-to-face" confession should not be treated as the only way to celebrate the sacrament.]

For teachers who wish to know more about the extraordinary form of the Mass, details are available at The schedule of Masses for Ireland is also available. If a teacher wishes to take a class of First Communion children to experience Mass in the extraordinary form, that can be arranged in advance with the celebrant. Explanatory DVDs of the Mass are also available from the Latin Mass Society of Ireland. [This last paragraph shows a most generous and open-hearted approach to the use of the older form of the rite. It conveys the message clearly that the usus antiquior is a perfectly legitimate part of our Catholic worship. I am sure that priests who celebrate the usus antiquior would be more than happy to welcome a class of children and offer some catechesis on this form of the Roman Rite.]
It is easy enough to fire off complaints and criticisms of Bishops: we should also be prepared to recognise and commend solid and sensible guidance. If you want to send a short email of appreciation, the website gives a contact email address.

A new resource for Gregorian chant

Nick Gale, the organist and choir director at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, has been doing a sterling job running courses for choirs to introduce them to Gregorian Chant. Today he has passed on details to me of some new CDs that have been produced to help choirs learn some of the basic chants that are frequently in use. Here is the information:
Gregorian chant teaching discs
This week sees the release of the first of three discs of Gregorian Chant produced to assist musical directors, cantors, choirs and congregations learn a Chant repertoire for use in the Liturgy. The discs were recorded by Signum Records, London, and the Chant is sung by three members of the Choir of St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, London, UK and recorded in the Cathedral’s beautiful Lady Chapel under the direction of the Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, Nick Gale.

The first disc, Chants of the Ordinary, contains a selection of Mass ordinaries (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite and Benedicamus Domino) – including complete recordings of Masses I, VIII, IX, X, XI, XV, XVII & XVIII, the Ambrosian Gloria, Credos I, III & VII and a selection of Alleluias. The second and third discs will be released next month and will contain chants for the entire Liturgical Year – all four Marian Antiphons in simple and solemn tones, the Te Deum, chant hymns, antiphons and responses for Advent, Christmas, Candlemas, Lent, Holy Week, the Easter season, Pentecost, Trinity and Christ the King – as well as some more general material and a selection of manageable Communion Antiphons from the Graduale Simplex for general use.

The Discs are priced at GBP £10 (for each disc) plus £2 P&P (£3 for orders outside the UK). To place an order or to ask for a full track list or any other details email Nick Gale Courses in Gregorian Chant in the UK and abroad are also available through

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Novus Ordo 40th anniversary

Fr Z has an excellent podcast analysing Pope Paul VI's General Audience address for 26 November 1969 in which he speaks about the "liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass" which was to be introduced on the first Sunday of Advent, four days later.

I was struck by this passage in the address:
So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms.
Four days is not much time to prepare; clearly people were expected just to get on with it and "prepare" as they went along. Another passage makes this clear:
But there is still a practical difficulty, which the excellence of the sacred renders not a little important. How can we celebrate this new rite when we have not yet got a complete missal, and there are still so many uncertainties about what to do?
Those of us who were around at that time remember that for years every altar was littered with booklets and bits of paper to keep up with whatever had recently changed in the rite of Mass by way of texts, translations and temporary books.

New film: "Arise Once More"

St Anthony Communications have produced a DVD called "Arise Once More" to offer an encouraging and hopeful look at Catholicism in Britain today and to encourage Catholics to revive the faith by their example, teaching and witness.

The film gives a summary of the history of Catholicism in Britain, beginning with St Alban and the beginning of Christianity in these isles, following the great cultural, artistic and educational achievements of the middle ages, looking at the tragedy of the Reformation, and the Second Spring which brought new life to the Church. The last section of the film focusses on the need for a revival of Catholic life and the steps necessary to achieve it. I have just watched the film through and I think it is an excellent resource for parishes, offering an upbeat response to the dismal secularist propaganda about the Catholic Church that can be discouraging to ordinary Catholics.

The commentary is provided by James and Joanna Bogle, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Andrew Pinsent, Fr Thomas Crean, Fr Nicholas Schofield, Fr Brian Harrison, and Sister Mary of the Trinity.

There are some public screenings of the film arranged for the weekend after next, one of them in my parish:
  • Our Lady of Lourdes, Uxbridge - 2pm, Friday 27th November
  • St. Benedict's Ealing Abbey - 2pm, Saturday 28th November
  • Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen - 7.15pm Saturday 28th November
  • St. Augustine's, Tunbridge Wells - 7pm Sunday 29th November
If you want to come to the screening at Blackfen, we have Mass (English, Novus Ordo) at 6pm and there will be refreshments after Mass and before the DVD screening.

Here is the link to order a copy of "Arise Once More" online.

"Alive to the World": good PSHE programme

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is a political football in educational policy in the UK. Many Catholic parents are rightly concerned that their right to bring their children up according to the faith is undermined by some of the programmes in use.

Therefore it is good to see a new PSHE programme that can be highly recommended. Alive to the World was created by Christine Vollmer, who is well known in international circles for her campaign work for the family. She sits on the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life. She originally created the programme for Latin America and the UK team has edited the English translation to make it suitable for use in England. The books are designed for whole school PSHE but can also be used in the home and in parishes. Alive to the World is published by Gracewing and may be ordered from the dedicated website at a special introductory discount.

Knowing that there can always be pitfalls, even in well-meaning programmes, I gave the materials from this one to some people whom I know to be aware of the issues involved and critical of bad material. This is their verdict:
This is the best PSHE programme we have seen, being both genuinely educational and suitable as a resource across the curriculum. It is very readable, and whilst presenting personal situations which the children will be able to recognise from their own experience, it draws on charcters from history and literature, avoiding the tediuos and narrow fare usually tackled by such material; 'Me', drugs, sex, the environment.

The more personal areas are, rightly, designed to be dealt with in single sex groups, although some areas would be better used as homework.

It is understandable that some diocese and faith schools have already bought this course, but it also is suitable for schools with no 'faith' basis. We found these books useful as a parenting tool and look forward to the year 9 and 10 books.

Reviewed by a group of parents and teachers.
A Catholic father who has reviewed the material wrote to me:
It's an excellent course, and to see a book that deals well with pornography, promiscuity and other issues so well is really refreshing. It also gives really good resources around the 98+% of life that is not those issues. I've never seen anything as good as this and I've seen quite a few of them."
Some weeks ago, I also mentioned another excellent programme This is My Body which was produced in conjunction with the Diocese of Lancaster. I was worried that the two programmes might be in competition but in fact, "This is My Body" is a set of 12 lessons for Year 6 children focussing on fertility and conception within the heart of Catholic spirituality. "Alive to the World" is a complete PSHE programme for years 4-8 which tackles virtue in order to support Catholic moral teaching in the round. "This is My Body" provides leaflets for parents listing the sexual topics it would be appropriate for them to cover with their children at a given time. "Alive to the World" gives stories as a way of helping them provide that teaching, while also teaching parents the biology on which NFP is based.

It is great to be able to report on two good programmes that accord unambiguously with Catholic teaching and support parents as the prime educators of their children in the ways of faith.

I have heard good news from the programme authors that the 452 bishops of Brazil have decided unanimously to recommend the programme in their dioceses! In England, the programme has so far been recommended as a resource by the Diocese of Salford. I hope that there will be many others to follow.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

New CD - Vatican "torture"

A daily chore for parish priests is opening assorted envelopes that arrive in the post each day, taking one look at the contents, and throwing them and the envelope in the bin. I have one of those big square "stack 'n store" boxes next to the desk since they can take more reams of paper before you have to empty it. To be honest, I look forward to the postal strikes.

Occasionally there is an item worth at least reading. The other day a flyer arrived for a new CD "Alma Mater. Music from the Vatican". To be honest, years spent in Rome meant that the promise of "Music from the Vatican" didn't really get me rushing for my credit card - but it did say that it featured the voice of the Holy Father and this gave me pause for thought. Not a long pause: after a few seconds, I decided that it might well be just a bit of exploitation of the Holy Father to sell a mediocre CD.

My snap judgement is confirmed by Damian Thompson who has listened to the CD and did not like it. That is an understatement: his review is very entertaining. The overall verdict:
The Catholic Church may have abolished the Inquisition, but it still knows the meaning of torture.
See: How dare they subject Pope Benedict to this musical atrocity?.

Anagni, St Thomas Becket and the infamous "Slap"

My good friend Hilariter, who must by now be near to finishing his Doctorate on St Hilary of Poitiers, doesn't update his blog very often but when he does, it is worth reading. Yesterday he had a fascinating account of a trip to Anagni. Although the museum was "in restauro" (closed for restoration) - an expression with which you become wearily familiar in Italy, the intrepid Father managed to get in, courtesy of a couple of priests who were around.

They got to see the mitre of St Thomas Becket and other relics. The frescoes depicting the death of the martyr Bishop St Magnus owe much to the story of St Thomas Becket. As in all good Italian gite, the day included lunch at a "good but cheap trattoria" - that is one of the great blessings of life in Italy. You can have a large bowl of pasta, fresh local bread, and a carafe of local wine for about as much as you would pay for a sandwich and a "smoothie" in London.

In another tradition of such days out, there had to be some attempt at re-enactment. Hilariter got to play the part of Pope Boniface VIII in the incident of the Schiaffo D'Anagni (Anagni's Slap) when Sciarra Colonna slapped the Holy Father. This was after the promulgation of the bull Unam Sanctam when Pope Boniface proclaimed not only that there is no salvation outside the Church but that the Church held the power of the two swords, spiritual and temporal. In a resulting revolt, the Pope was captured at Anagni, put in prison, and given the celebrated slap. To their eternal credit, the citizens of Anagni rose up and released the Holy Father but sadly he died a year later.

St Anthony has a laugh

A parishioner told me today of her grown up son who was getting annoyed because he could not find the SD card from his camera with important photos on it. In desperation, he said,

"Who's that saint you pray to for lost things?"

Mother replied with assurance,

"Saint Anthony."

So he duly prayed. After a short nap, the SD card was found - sticking to the back of his jumper.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Matteo Ricci exhibition, Rome

Sandro Magister reports on a new exhibition in the Braccio di Carlo Magno wing of Saint Peter's Square, devoted to the Jesuit missionary to China, Matteo Ricci. (See: Matteo Ricci. How to "Inculturate" Christianity in China)

As I will be in Rome this January for the Clergy Conference, I hope to be able to visit the exhibition.

Jack Sullivan at London and Birmingham Oratories

On Wednesday, Deacon Jack Sullivan gave the CTS Lecture at the London Oratory, introduced by the eminent Newman scholar, Fr Ian Ker. There is more information and more excellent photos at the blog for the cause of Newman's canonisation. See: Lecture at the Brompton Oratory: Newman, authentic theologian of the tradition, he tells us that heaven is real

Yesterday, Deacon Jack was at the Birmingham Oratory, assisted at Mass, and gave an interview for EWTN. He also venerated Newman's relics - it must surely be particularly moving to venerate the relics of the holy man who worked a miracle for him at his intercession.

This morning, he assisted the Provost, Fr Paul Chavasse, at Mass at the altar in Newman's room:

I had the privilege of saying Mass at this altar some years ago. Newman's room is preserved just as he left it; a fascinating glimpse into the great man's life.

More information and photos:Sullivan at the Birmingham Oratory: St Josaphat, Newman and true Ecumenism

Thursday, 12 November 2009

"Dead language, facing a wall"

The National Catholic Reporter, which Americans sometimes portray as their equivalent of the Tablet, comes out this week with an astonishing attack on Cardinal Rodé which covers a sideswipe at the Pontificate of Pope Benedict. Fr Z has a fisk on the article, describing it as a "nutty" - which seems fair.

It's actually quite funny as well. Here's the purple passage:
Or is he upset that most do not prefer, as he does, dressing up in the trappings of royalty, the yards of silk in the cappa magna, the canopies and throne chairs and all the rest -- being attended by his minions, younger priests in lacy surplices, birettas and old-fashioned vestments encrusted with gold thread and jewels -- all the while speaking in a dead language, facing a wall, his back to the people?
This asinine description of Mass celebrated ad orientem in the timeless language of the Church, with dignified vestments, will doubtless be quoted by young traddies over pints of beer and guffaws of laughter for some time to come. As you wipe off the flecks of virtual spittle shooting out from the NCR, consider that the "nostalgia" most evident in articles such as this is for the mid-1970s, the era of glam rock, AcrilanTM, and the eight track stereo. I was there. I share the fond memories; but as they say, it is time to move forwards, not backwards.

Undignified post from "Dignity in Dying"

The euphemistically named "Dignity in Dying" (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) has responded to John Smeaton's post on the recent UCL debate on assisted suicide.

Here's the core of Dignity in Dying's case for the prosecution:
SPUC are a pro-life organisation who have a lot to say about assisted dying, abortion and sex education (they are in need of a name change, perhaps the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Hormonal Teenagers, and Terminally Ill People who are Unaware that Suffering brings you closer to your Maker: SPUCHTTIPUS.
Summary: "A bizarre attack" (That's SPUC, apparently)

They also accuse SPUC of selective quotation, misprepresentation, seeing shadows and conspiracy theory. They follow this up by examples of the fuller context of the quotations, the true representation of their position, the reality that belies the shadows, and the wacky statements that constitute "conspiracy theory."

Actually, no they don't.

DID point out that the pro-life side was outvoted in the debate at UCL. Compare the two posts to see who actually wins in terms of rational argument.

John Smeaton - Dignity in Dying

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Relics of the Curé d'Ars at the London Oratory

On a visit to the London Oratory today, Fr Rupert McHardy kindly showed me the relics of St John Vianney which came to England soon after the death of the saintly Curé, brought by a French emigré family. They eventually found a home at St Edmund's College, Ware; the college has lent them to the Oratory. The collection is comprised of devotional items and other personal effects of the Curé.

The reliquary is displayed at the altar of Blessed Sebastian Valfré (1629-1710), a priest of the Oratory in Turin who was beatified in 1834. The altar is in a recess between the sanctuary and the sacristy door.

"All schools, including faith schools"

The Government has just accepted all the recommendations of last year's Annual Report of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG). I suppose it is not too surprising that the Government accepts the report since it is actually produced by the Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on behalf of the TPIAG and is hosted at the Government's "Every Child Matters" website.

First of all, let me give you a general flavour of the report. The TPIAG is predictably delighted that the Government has earmarked £26.8 million of our money to for "contraceptive services". They want condoms to be promoted on TV before the 9pm watershed and because of concerns about pornography, they want an official government portal on the internet where young people can access "approved sites on sex and relationships." How reassuring is that for all you mums and dads out there?

The report gives a whistlestop tour of current Government Agency jargon and euphemism. We know about the "Every Child Matters Agenda" - the TPIAG has a few more for us: contraception and sexual health services should meet the Department of Health's "You're Welcome" standards; the SRE pupil audit tool should be part of the Healthy Schools Programme; the Children’s Workforce Network should develop a multi-agency work-based learning package on sex and relationships; a national programme should be "rolled out" so that parents can benefit from the Family Planning Association's "Speakeasy" programme. Well Being is obviously a new euphemism that is rising in popularity: SRE must be "embedded" into the "statutory entitlement of the promotion of well-being", and included in the Government’s Well-Being Indicators - just to make sure, there should be a specialist PSHE teacher in every school to deliver the Well-Being duty.

More on that "Speakeasy" programme in a minute, but first a couple of points that link in neatly to the Government's latest proposals for sex-education which I mentioned a few days ago. There was some confusion because the CES said that Governing bodies retain the right to determine what is taught, in line with the ethos of the school. On the other hand, Mr Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (the title indicates something of a wider claim than "Minister of Education") said that faith schools would not be allowed to refuse to teach about contraception. The confusion now seems to be cleared up by the Government's acceptance of the TPIAG recommendation that it should:
State clearly that all schools including faith schools must teach all aspects of SRE within the context of relationships in an anti-discriminatory way; contraception, abortion and homosexuality are all legal in this country and therefore all children and young people should be able to learn the correct facts.
Ah yes, the "correct facts". Not those nasty politically incorrect facts that Catholic bloggers insist on repeating with their pedantic references to peer-reviewed studies. I am reminded of Thomas Gradgrind at the beginning of Charles Dickens' "Hard Times" (surely one of the best opening paragraphs of a novel):
'NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!'
The Government has also accepted the recommendation that it should,
Make explicit links to young people's advisory services and provision of contraception and sexual health services and demonstrate this by teaching young people how to access services"
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping comment is in the section where the TPIAG wants to get all the materials to parents because
Many parents and carers lack awareness about sex and relationships issues ...
Well, after all, they've only had children and nurtured them: they don't have specialist training in delivering the "Well Being Duty".

You can get an idea of the sort of education promoted by the TPIAG from the resource that they recommend for parents from the Family Planning Association: "Speakeasy". On page 19 of the parents' book, we have this quote from "Mother of two daughters, aged 11 and nine":
I was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and have always believed that life started at the point of conception. I think it’s a real tragedy that there are so many abortions although I know that sometimes it’s the only realistic choice a woman or girl has. I’m still not quite sure what I think about this – but doing the Speakeasy course gave me the confidence to present information about contraception to my children and when it comes to it – it will be their choice what they decide to do.
A sneaky undermining of Catholic teaching on the consistent pro-life ethic there.

Even more disturbing is the advice given to parents if they find a condom in their 15 year old child's bedroom. There's some stuff about not jumping to conclusions, being available to talk etc. Then:
If your son or daughter is having sex, you should acknowledge their responsible behaviour in using condoms. This is also a good opportunity to find out if they know how to use a condom and fill in any gaps in their knowledge. It is important that they protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections so you need to make sure they know how to use condoms effectively. Tell them they can get confidential advice about contraception and sexually transmitted infections from young people’s services. [Brook, Sexwise, FPA...]
Now I thought that the age of consent was 16. If a 15 year old is sexually active, does it not occur to the TPIAG that their "partner" might be some years older? The Child Safeguarding courses that I have attended emphasise the duty to call the Police if you have a reasonable suspicion that a child is in danger of being the victim of a criminal offence . Parents whose confidence is already undermined by the professionalisation of child care and the arrogation of many of their rights by the State are now to be intimidated into colluding with underage sexual activity, patting their child on the head for using a condom, sending them off to outside agencies, and generally abdicating their responsibility for their own child's safety. But don't despair! They can tick a box on the "Well Being Indicator" chart.

(H/T John Smeaton: Government's teen pregnancy strategy undermines parents and betrays children

Chief Rabbi speaks up for family values

Jonathan Sacks (Lord Sacks of Aldgate), the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has caused a stir with his lecture last week to Theos, the "Public Theology think Tank". Here are links to two articles from the broadsheets:

Telegraph Jonathan Sacks's solution to family breakdown

Falling birth rate is killing Europe, says chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The complete text of the lecture has been posted as a Word Document: Lord Sacks 2009. Here is the passage that drew most attention, I think:
Parenthood involves massive sacrifice: of money, attention, time and emotional energy. Where today, in European culture with its consumerism and its instant gratification ‘because you’re worth it’, in that culture, where will you find space for the concept of sacrifice for the sake of generations not yet born? Europe, at least the indigenous population of Europe, is dying, exactly as Polybius said about ancient Greece in the third pre-Christian century. The century that is intellectually the closest to our own – the century of the sceptics and the epicureans and the cynics. Polybius wrote this:

"The fact is, that the people of Hellas had entered upon the false path of ostentation, avarice and laziness, and were therefore becoming unwilling to marry, or if they did marry, to bring up the children born to them; the majority were only willing to bring up at most one or two."

That is why Greece died. That is where Europe is today.
Later, Chief Rabbi Sacks summarises two reasons why religion is essential to the freedom that we take for granted:
Tocqueville was right: the place of religion is in civil society where it achieves many things essential to liberal democratic freedom, but two in particular: Number one, it sanctifies marriage and the family and the obligations of parenthood; and number two, it safeguards the non-relativist moral principles on which Western freedom is based.
In his lecture he referred to his recent book "The Home We Build Together" which looks quite good:

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hard-hitting letter to Congressman Kennedy from Bishop Tobin

St John's Valdosta has the text of a cracking letter from Bishop Thomas Tobin in response to Congressman Patrick Kennedy “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

Bishop Tobin takes the congressman to task particularly on the question of the sanctity of human life:
Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

Cardinal Newman and Jack Sullivan

In July, Pope Benedict XVI recognised the healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan in 2001 as a miracle resulting from the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman. This means that his Beatification has been effectively approved. See Pope Benedict XVI approves Newman's beatification

Rev Jack Sullivan gave a press conference in Birmingham yesterday speaking about the miracle, giving a moving account of his experience. He also preached at Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

Deacon Jack Sullivan will be assisting at Mass at the Birmingham Oratory tomorrow. The blog for the cause of the Canonisation of John Henry Newman which has provided all the above news, also highlights the significance of the orientation of the altar. See: Deacon Jack Sullivan, Newman’s Oratory and the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’

Requiem at Belfast

Eamonn Manning has sent me these photos from the Requiem Mass which was celebrated in the usus antiquior at St Paul's Church in the Falls Road last Saturday:

The congregation of about 100 was a good mix of ages (mostly at the back, as is the Irish custom!) The choir sang the propers from the Graduale and Victoria's Requiem for six voices, as well as the motet Versa Est in Luctum (Lobo), Gregorian Chant and Organ.

As of January, the monthly Saturday afternoon usus antiquior Mass at St Paul's will move to Sunday - a great blessing for those who attend.

Remembrance Sunday at Blackfen

Mulier Fortis has put together this slideshow of our Remembrance Sunday celebrations at Blackfen - Missa Cantata in the morning and blessing of graves at the local cemetery in the afternoon. The title picture shows me blessing the grave of the first parish priest of Blackfen, Fr Adolf Koch. This is always the first grave that I go to.

Many thanks to one of the senior servers for lending the Mass vestments from his private collection.

I have my own copy of the Missale Defunctorum picked up via the internet at a reasonable price before Summorum Pontificum. My MC had a useful second copy for the absolutions at the catafalque which he got in a second-hand bookshop. It was amusing to see that it originally belonged to the parish of the Holy Ghost, Balham where my good friend Fr Stephen Langridge (Southwark Vocations Director) is parish priest.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Anglicanorum Coetibus

Tsk - I go away to the seminary to teach a couple of classes on Sacramental Theology, get back, say Mass, and then have a quick check of the blogosphere - only to find that a megaton story has broken. Well I have just read through Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC) and, as with Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict has bent over backwards to be generous in the service of Christian Unity. Remember Fr Z's point -

Benedict XVI - The Pope of Christian Unity

The primary consideration in the preamble of AC is the mandate of Our Lord to St Peter to guarantee unity and to do everything possible to secure unity. Don't miss out the preamble - it is a good succinct lesson in ecclesiology.

Interestingly, the Personal Ordinariates are put under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (AC 1.1) Fr Ghirlanda (under whom I studied Canon Law many years ago) explains the reason for this in his note on the significance of AC.

The authoritative expression of faith is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (AC 1.5) I think that this is significant: it elevates the status of the CCC which was surely one of the greatest fruits of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

The ordiariates will be able to use the Roman Rite but also "the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See" (I am afraid that I rather chuckled to think what Cranmer would make of that!)

There is quite a lot about the relations between the Ordinariates, the Bishops' Conference and the local Bishop which is all very sensible. Priests of the Ordinariate are to "cultivate bonds of unity" (AC 6.4) with the local diocesan clergy. Well they will be more than welcome at our Deanery meeting and lunch. There is also an encouragement in "mutual pastoral assistance". Again, they will be very welcome to supply: one of my regular supply priests is an excellent former Anglican (married) whose sermons are much appreciated by the faithful. And if the Ordinariate is stuck for someone on a feast day, I'll be happy to try and learn the Anglican Use.

The sections on priestly formation are quite nuanced. There are a couple of norms relating to theological, doctrinal and pastoral formation in existing seminaries of theological faculties (think "Maryvale") while overall priestly formation is entrusted to the Ordinariate to ensure formation in the Anglican patrimony.

One worry that many people had was related to those who have left the Catholic Church to become Anglicans. There is a sensible restriction clause here, banning those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church from exercising sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. For the laity, there is some leeway: those baptised as Catholics are not normally to be members of the Ordinariate but may be if their family belongs.

There is already quite a lot out there. Here are just a few points:

Signum: Rome gives 100% who point out that "The Pope is not negotiating; he has given everything that he can." I agree with that. The generosity of the Apostolic Constitution is really quite moving.

Fr Z: Apostolic Constitution: ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS has a summary of key points. His combox is always worth trawling - there are always some good commenters with intelligent points to make.

Damian Thompson has pointed out an intriguing detail: former Anglican bishops who are married, and who are ordained Catholic priests by virtue of the dispensation, "may request permission from the Holy See to use the insignia of the episcopal office." This is rather like the use of episcopal insignia by Protonotaries Apostolic. There is much more on this in the combox of the NLM post.

Damian also picks up on the provision allowing priests, with the permission of the ordinary, to work in a secular profession that is not incompatible with the priesthood. As he says, this a bit like the "non-stipendiary minister" idea and will help married clergy in particular.

And finally...

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake for reminding me that the prayer that we say at the traditional form of Benediction in England. To my shame, it was not until I read his post that it occurred to me that Our Blessed Lady has, at least in the case of some Anglicans, answered this prayer that I have said almost every week since my childhood:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.
When we think of the Liturgy, we usually think solely of the Mass. In this regard, many people will say that lots of Anglo-Catholics already use the Roman Missal, that the Communion Service of the BCP would need lots of changes etc. But if you have participated in Evensong in an Anglican Cathedral, there is something quite thrilling in the thought that Catholic Anglicans in full communion with the Holy See, will be able to continue this tradition, with its elements from the Sarum use. I know there are many practical difficulties, but Rome has pushed the door wide open. I agree with Pope Benedict that such traditions are a "precious gift" and "a treasure to be shared".

Confirmations - and the LMS

It has been pointed out to me that I should have mentioned the Latin Mass Society in my post about the usus antiquior Confirmations on Saturday. Apologies for the oversight. The LMS organises this wonderful occasion and we are all very grateful to them.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Confirmations at Spanish Place

It has been quite a busy weekend since yesterday I went up to St James's, Spanish Place for the Confirmation ceremony. Three of my parishioners were confirmed, and several servers were there. The photos in this post are taken from Mulier Fortis who has some more at her post Confirmation According To The Usus Antiquior.

This was the first time that I have participated in the celebration of Confirmation in the usus antiquior. Judging by the enthusiasm of the families, I expect it will not be the last. The choir of the parish of Spanish Place sang magnificently and the organist contributed superbly to the proceedings.

After the ceremony I went to Pizza Express with one of the families - and found that Fr Jason Jones of Our Lady of the Taper was also there with the group that he had brought from Cardigan.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Gloria TV News - English focus today

Fr Charles Briggs regularly poaches my parishioners for his 7.30pm usus antiquior Low Mass on a Friday evening and I often poach his parishioners for my Masses at Blackfen. We are cool about this in the spirit of inter-parish collaboration. So I dropped in to his Mass this evening before we both went out for a late supper of fish and chips.

Fr Briggs is an assiduous follower of the compulsive source of Catholic information which is Gloria TV news. Presented by the lovely Doina Buzut (with whom, I am proud to say, I am friends on Facebook) this is a source of pleasantly presented but hard-hitting news items from the Catholic world.

Today's news has a particular focus on England with an item at the beginning reporting on Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's comments on the Holy Father's proposals for Anglicans to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Bloggers will also be interested to see that Damian Thompson is also featured. The news picks up on his article of a couple of days ago regarding the Pope's visit to England. Telegraph Leader writer, über-blogger, blog-meister for over 40 Telegraph blogs, and Editor-in-Chief of the Catholic Herald... it's only right that he should be on Gloria TV:

"Is the Church a force for good?"

There is an excellent letter in the Catholic Herald by Christopher Koe who points out that the motion "Is the Church a force for good?" was also debated at the university in Paris in the early 1830s, it was defeated, but the occasion led to Frederick Ozanam founding the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

New proposals for sex-ed - dictatorship of relativism

You can read the CESEW response to the Governments latest proposals on sex education in schools, and a clarification which states:
We welcome the government’s reiteration of its support for the important principles underlining SRE, which emphasise that schools continue to have the legal right to determine the content of what is taught in PSHE within their schools and that governing bodies retain the right to determine what is taught, and must determine this in line with the ethos of the school.
The Times reports on the sex-ed proposals in its article: (Pupils to be forced to have sex education under age of consent). Here is an extract:
Mr Balls said: “It is open to faith schools to teach what they believe, according to the tenets of their faith, that pupils should not have sexual relationships outside of marriage.”

But faith schools would not be allowed to refuse to teach about contraception on the grounds that they do not believe in sex before marriage, he added.

“You can teach the promotion of marriage, you can teach that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage — what you can’t do is deny young people information about contraception outside of marriage.”
There does seem to be some confusion here; are Catholic schools going to be forced to give information about contraception or not? (It is interesting, by the way, that Ed Balls speaks of contraception outside of marriage. This shows how far we have come since Humanae Vitae and the debates of the sixties which were all about contraception for married couples.)

Jackie Parkes has comments from Eric Hester in her post: CESEW responds to proposals relating to Sex and Relationships Education and parental rights (5 November 2009). There we have another Government quote:
“PSHE education will therefore be a foundation subject in the national curriculum in Key Stages 3 and 4, with the existing non-statutory programmes of study forming the basis for a core entitlement that all pupils should receive.”
and you can bet that part of the National Curriculum PSHE "core entitlement" will be to learn how to put a condom on a banana.

See also:
John Smeaton: Compulsory sex ed is government exploitation of schools

Gerald Warner: The most widespread child abuse in Britain is perpetrated by the Government

David Vance at the Tangled Blog: Sex Education for all!
"But our wise rulers, who know so much more than any parent, will now ensure that sex education is FORCED upon our kids. Totalitarian swine."
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