Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in England and Wales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic Church in England and Wales. Show all posts

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First Catholic Service for Centuries to be Celebrated in Chapel of King Henry VIII

From Christian Today

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Vespers and the Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapel Royal, will preach in Henry VIII's chapel, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century but taken from Wolsey by the King and rebuilt.
Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England after Wolsey failed to secure his annulment from Catherine of Aragon. Henry's third wife Jane Seymour gave birth to his only son Prince Edward at Hampton Court. His fifth wife Catherine Howard is said to haunt the palace, where she had faced accusations of adultery. The King married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court.

The Genesis Foundation and the Choral Foundation are working together to make the service possible, as the first Latin Rite of the Catholic Church to be celebrated since the 1550s at the Chapel Royal.

Read more at Christian Today >>

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Women Entering Religious Life in England and Wales at 25-Year High

Religious orders have become clearer about their own identity, according to Fr Jamison (Photo:Mazur/

Forty-five women joined religious orders last year, according to official figures

The number of women entering religious orders in England and Wales has reached a 25-year high, according to new figures.

Forty-five women chose to pursue their vocations last year, the highest number since the 1980s.

Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, said the figure was a “milestone”. Vocations reached their lowest point a decade ago, with just seven women entering religious life in 2004. 

Read more at The Catholic Herald >>


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vocations to Religious Life are Surging in England and Wales; Here's Why

Vocations to religious life in England and Wales have tripled in just eight years. Here are four reasons why

A Sister makes her final profession (Photo: Mazur/

From The Catholic Herald (UK)
By Mark Greaves

The number of people entering religious life has tripled over the last eight years, according to revised figures from the National Office for Vocation. Last year 64 people joined religious orders, compared to just 19 in 2004. It seems like the long decline in vocations has been reversed.

In much of Europe, the decline continues. In France, for instance, the total number of novices fell by a third from 2004 to 2011 (from 311 to 204). So what’s the secret – what is Britain doing differently?

1. Pope Benedict XVI’s visit 
Vocations officials say they owe a lot to Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in 2010. Sister Cathy Jones, religious life promoter of the National Office for Vocation, says it strengthened people’s faith and pride at being Catholic. “People who had been discerning a good number of years thought, ‘I’ll give this a go’,” she says.

2. A culture of vocation

Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office for Vocation, says that, in the early 2000s, “lots of different people woke up to the same idea” – that is, that everyone had a vocation, whether that’s to be a priest, a religious, a single or married person. “Vocation” simply means to live out the baptismal call to holiness. A “culture of vocation” is what Catholic culture ideally should be.

This is the idea that vocations ministry is built on. And it leads directly to numbers three and four…

3. Discernment groups
Discernment groups have sprung up all over the country. These help people decide what their particular path to holiness will be. They come in various forms, from the national Invocation festival to the Compass programme, run by religious orders, to local Samuel groups. Many religious orders also run their own “come and see” weekends, where interested people can get a taste of religious life.

Fr Stephen Langridge, vocations director at Southwark, says: “It’s not about trying to recruit people – it’s about making people better disciples.”

The Church used to act like a recruitment agency, with adverts on posters and beer mats. That seems to be a thing of the past.

4. Vocations directors
Vocations ministry has expanded enormously in recent years. Fr Langridge says that when he was thinking about becoming a priest years ago he saw his vocations director just once. Now, he says, “I wouldn’t let someone apply if I haven’t spent 100 hours with them”.

Fr Jamison says religious orders used to have the idea that they should only pray for vocations. “If you did more than that it showed a lack of faith in God,” he says. Now, he explains, a “significant number” of religious orders have full-time vocations directors. That means they can engage much more with people who are interested in religious life. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Archbishop Urges Catholics to Support the Ordinariate

Mgr Keith Newton (Photo: Mazur/
The Archbishop of Westminster has written to every parish in England and Wales encouraging them to welcome the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and praising the “beauty” of its Anglican heritage.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols’s letter, which will be read to parishioners in England and Wales on Sunday, encourages the faithful to read another letter written by the ordinary of the ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham on Tuesday.  Archbishop Nichols’s letter says: “I warmly encourage you to take home a copy of Mgr Newton’s letter and to welcome and support the clergy and faithful of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, both for the part they play in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in this country and for the particular gifts they bring which add to our rich diversity.”


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Letter Signed By 1,000 Priests In England And Wales: Same-Sex "Marriage" Will Restrict Freedom Of Catholics

Mgr Newton, one of the signatories (Photo: Mazur/
Mgr Newton, one of the signatories (Photo: Mazur/

More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph arguing that same-sex marriage will restrict the freedom of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage.

The letter, signed by eight bishops, four abbots, the leader of the ordinariate, and 1,000 priests, warned MPs that proposed legislation would signal a return to penal times in that it would erode the ability of Catholics to “participate fully in the life of this country”.

It said the legislation would “have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship”.

The letter also suggested the safeguards of the law would be “meaningless”. It ended with a call to MPs “not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear”.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pope Benedict Donates $250,000 to Anglican Ordinariate in England and Wales

Pope Benedict XVI has donated $250,000 to support the work of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The gift will help establish the Ordinariate as a vibrant part of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The news from Rome came to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, and read “The Holy Father has benevolently permitted a donation of $250,000”.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Over 3,500 Adults Received into the Church in England and Wales

By David V. Barrett

Members of the Croydon ordinariate group with Mgr John Broadhurst (Photo: Personal Ordinariate)

More than 3,500 adults were received into the Catholic Church in England and Wales last week.

They included 1,397 catechumens, who had prepared to be baptised, and 1,843 candidates, who had already baptised in another Christian tradition.

The largest numbers were in the dioceses of Westminster (734), Southwark (481), Brentwood (333), Birmingham (255) and Portsmouth (206). The total of 3,695 also included those who had joined the ordinariate. Easter is the traditional time for reception of new members of the Church through the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the liturgical and catechetical process for adults joining the Church.

Monday, April 9, 2012

British Catholic Leader Says No Need For Gay Marriage

Archbishop Vincent Nichols

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has told Sky News that Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to legalise gay marriage are unnecessary.

The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said he does not see the need to change the definition of marriage.

“He (David Cameron) seems rather intent in taking a step the reason for which quite frankly a lot of people don't understand,” he told Sky News presenter Colin Brazier.

“We have legal protection for the shape of the marriage that has served society very well around the world for many centuries and quite frankly we really don't see why it's important to change that legal definition."

Meanwhile, the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said in his Easter sermon that young people's hostility towards faith is not as extreme as society perceives.

Speaking at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Rowan Williams - who is leaving at the end of the year - said a number of young people appreciate the role religion plays in society and are keen to learn about it.

He warned that now was the "worst possible moment" to downgrade the importance of teaching religion in secondary schools.

"There is plenty to suggest that younger people, while still statistically deeply unlikely to be churchgoers, don't have the hostility to faith that one might expect," Dr Williams said.

"[They] at least share some sense that there is something here to take seriously - when they have a chance to learn about it."

In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI used his Easter Sunday message to urge the Syrian regime to end the bloodshed.

The Pope, sounding hoarse and looking tired, celebrated Mass on steps of St Peter's Basilica, before a crowd of faithful that swelled to far over 100,000.

He said: "May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights.

"Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community."

On Saturday Benedict, who turns 85 next week, presided over a three-hour long Easter vigil in a packed St Peter's Basilica.

He told the gathering that mankind is groping in darkness, unable to distinguish good from evil. "Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies," he said.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christian Message that Rings Down the Ages

Christianity is alive and well and helping to shape our future for the better.

The birth of a new era: Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi, c. 1473 Photo: ALAMY

By Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Christianity is and remains a major source of inspiration in our society, the Prime Minister made clear in his speech last week marking this, the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. “Christianity is alive and well in our country,” he said as he called for more confidence in our Christian identity.

You would, of course, expect me as a church leader to echo this Christmas what David Cameron had to say, and I do. But I would like also to give you two practical examples of how I have seen Christianity alive and well in our country, shaping our future for the better. Both are events that I have been privileged to participate in over the past 12 months, and both provide grounds for hope this Christmas season.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Britain's Bishops at War: Head of Catholics Leads Furious Backlash after Archbishop of Canterbury's Attack on Coalition

By James Chapman and Steve Doughty

The Archbishop of Canterbury is embroiled in an extraordinary war with David Cameron and rival Church leaders after a bitter attack on the Government.

In the most brazen political intervention by a head of the Church of England for more than two decades, Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition.

He claimed 'no one voted' for flagship policies on welfare, health and education, which he said were causing 'anxiety and anger'.

The remarks prompted a furious backlash from the Prime Minister and the leader of England's Roman Catholics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Dr Williams's attack came in a leading article for the Left-wing New Statesman magazine which he had been invited to guest-edit.

Dr Rowan Williams, left, sparked a furious backlash from the Prime Minister and head of the Catholic Church in Britain, Archbishop Vincent Nichols
He dismissed Mr Cameron's Big Society initiative as 'painfully stale' and condemned 'punitive' action against 'alleged abuses' in the benefits system.

The Archbishop also accused ministers of encouraging a 'quiet resurgence of the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bishops of England and Wales Restore Meatless Fridays

In the end, it’s obedience, not personal choice, that holds us together as a people

By William Oddie

do not often find myself moved by actual enthusiasm for official utterances emerging from meetings of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
Now I do. A statement they issued on Saturday is not only wonderfully brief (around 400 words), it is written in a powerfully devotional style. Bishops’ Conference statements are sometimes businesslike about the affairs of the church, and sometimes relevant to the needs of society: they rarely convey any concern for the building up and nurture of the spiritual identity of those under their pastoral care—most of whom, frankly, have now come to look for guidance more to their parish priest and to the pope than to their bishops—so much for all the endless Küngian chatter about collegiality.

It’s not just that the pope doesn’t always pay any attention to the decisions of bishops’ conferences; neither do the “People of God”. But if collegiality consistently produced decisions, and English prose, of this quality, they would soon be up and running as a living reality in the life of the faithful. The text of this statement will no doubt be available elsewhere on the Herald’s homepage by the time this post is online. But I’m going to take the liberty of beginning by quoting it myself, in full, here:
By the practice of penance every Catholic identifies with Christ in his death on the cross. We do so in prayer, through uniting the sufferings and sacrifices in our lives with those of Christ’s passion; in fasting, by dying to self in order to be close to Christ; in almsgiving, by demonstrating our solidarity with the sufferings of Christ in those in need. All three forms of penance form a vital part of Christian living. When this is visible in the public arena, then it is also an important act of witness.

Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.

The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.

Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.

Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.
What has now happened has been gathering momentum ever since the pope’s visit to Britain. It will be recalled that during the papal afterglow some very surprising people started to recommend the restoration of the Friday fast. Bishop Kieran Conry, for instance, argued that abstaining from meat on Friday “…. was one of the most obvious signs of Catholic identity, apart from going to Mass. It determined the diet in places like prison and hospital, and was something that Catholics were instinctively conscious of: we knew that we couldn’t have meat like everybody else that day, and it was a source of a sort of pride – it marked us out as different”.

The point, of course, is not simply that we abstain from meat on Friday (if we do) as a personal devotion: it is that we once did it, and soon will once more, out of obedience to the authority of the Church: it was once, and, deo gratias, will be again, a constant reminder that once we have taken the initial choice of committing ourselves to being Catholics in the first place, we are under obedience; and that it is that obedience that holds us together as a people.

The Church used to make this clear beyond peradventure: a convert was said to “submit” to the authority of the Holy See. This usage was thought, in the heyday of the “Spirit of Vatican II”, unduly forbidding and was quietly dropped in favour of the less daunting usage to “come into full communion” with the Holy See. But downplaying the idea of obedience has had damaging effects on the collective mind of the faithful. “Conscience”, as Newman taught, isn’t an excuse—as so often it seems when used as a Küngspeak neologism—for simply doing as we see fit : a Catholic conscience, on the contrary is something that is shaped and informed by the Church’s teaching; we have to OBEY our conscience, whose dictates will often go against our inclinations.

As I argued in this column at the time, commenting on Bishop Kieran’s remarks last year, nothing stops us from abstaining from meat on a Friday as things stand now. In our household we do already: but the point is that we do it as a private rule of life rather than as an expression of the fact that we are part of the daily life of the Church. We used to do it, in fact, even when we were Catholic-minded Anglicans: that, too, was just a personal devotion. As such, it was a kind of nostalgic tribute to an order within the Church which seemed to have passed away for ever. As I wrote last year, “It would be wonderful if our bishops now actually said, in terms, that the old tradition is now restored by their authority, and formally pronounced that we ought not to eat meat on a Friday without good reason”. Now they have.

The bishops might now turn their attention to building on their achievement: what about restoring our midweek Holydays of Obligation? They too, were once as Bishop Conry said of the Friday fast, “a source of a sort of pride – [they] marked us out as different”. To walk into Church on a Sunday and find that it is not one of the Sundays in ordinary time but Corpus Christi, a kind of bonus for our Sunday obedience rather than something we have to pay for by the sacrifice of our time and freedom of action on a weekday—(rather like a supermarket bogof offer, two for the price of one)—is , I find, not merely intensely irritating, it just feels wrong , it’s almost insulting: an implicit declaration that, since you probably can’t be bothered to observe Corpus Christi on its proper day, here it is without any extra effort to you.

But that’s a subject to return to at greater length some other time. It’s a bit unfair, now the bishops have done something really substantial towards the restoration of what was lost from the spiritual life of the faithful through the reductionism of the post-Conciliar period (not, I hasten to insist, through the Council itself) to carry on as though they had done nothing. This is not nothing. It’s a splendid beginning. We’re not there yet. But now, we can feel that under the guidance of the present Holy Father, the journey continues. We’re on our way: Deo Gratias.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' Homily for the Ordination of Three Former Anglican Bishops

Ordination to the Priesthood of Reverend John Broadhurst, Reverend Andrew Burnham, Reverend Keith Newton 

Westminster Cathedral, Saturday, January 15, 2011

Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Many ordinations have taken place in this Cathedral during the 100 years of its history. But none quite like this. Today is a unique occasion marking a new step in the life and history of the Catholic Church. This morning the establishment of the first Personal Ordinariate under the provision of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ has been announced in our hearing. So I too salute John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton who are to be the first priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In particular I offer my prayers and best wishes to Keith, chosen by the Holy Father to be its first Ordinary. 

This is indeed an historic moment. In these opening words I welcome you warmly, Keith, Andrew and John. You have distinguished pasts, full of real achievements. Now, ahead of you, you have an important and demanding future! In welcoming you I recognise fully the demands of the journey you have made together with your families, with its many years of thought and prayer, painful misunderstandings, conflict and uncertainty. I want, in particular, to recognise your dedication as priests and bishops of the Church of England and affirm the fruitfulness of your ministry.

I thank so many in the Church of England who have recognised your sincerity and integrity in making this journey and who have assured you of their prayers and good wishes. First among these is Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, with his characteristic insight, and generosity of heart and spirit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Source: British Government Backs Down on ‘Equality Bill’ Following Pope’s Comments

From Catholic World News

A British government source has told the Daily Telegraph that following Pope Benedict’s recent comments to the bishops of England and Wales, the government will withdraw the controversial provisions of the “Equality Bill” that threaten to undermine religious freedom.

“We are clear that these parts of the Equality Bill should not go forward,” said the source. “The Pope's intervention has been noted.”

Pope Benedict had told the bishops on February 1:

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pope Confirms Travel Plans in Blunt Speech to British Bishops

Many of our non-Catholic readers may be perplexed as to why Pope Benedict would need to insist that British bishops "be generous in implementing the provisions of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus," and to readily and warmly welcome Anglicans seeking union with the Roman Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, liberal bishops in that country have resisted for decades just what the Holy Father has now provided -- the opportunity for Anglicans to unite with Rome, while retaining their own hierarchy, liturgy, hymnody, culture and traditions. Those bishops know that Anglicans eager for union and faithful to all that the Church teaches and upholds, will be a conservative, orthodox influence. Anglican Catholic parishes in union with Rome will also provide cradle Roman Catholics in that country and elsewhere, a faithful, orthodox alternative to those presided over by heterodox bishops.

Pope Benedict has made many superb appointments; the new Archbishops of Westminster and New York are good examples. And we look forward to a Catholic succeeding the present Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles, among others, but it takes time to clear out the detritus that lost their way (and faith?) in the early 1970's.

Pope Benedict XVI confirmed plans for his visit to Great Britain in September-- and offered some unusually blunt reflections on the situation facing the Church there-- in a February 1 address to a group of visiting British bishops.

The Pope told the bishops, who were in Rome for their ad limina visit, that he looked forward to his trip to their country. Although he did not mention specific dates, informed Catholic sources in London have confirmed that the trip will take place in September.

The Pontiff went on to say that the Church leadership in England and Wales "needs to speak with a united voice." His words appeared to be a reference to the friction within the episcopal conference, and the willingness of some British prelates to countenance open dissent from Catholic teaching. In an even more evident reference to that problem, the Pope went on to say:

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

Later in his address the Pope prodded the English bishops to be prepared to receive Anglicans entering the Catholic Church under the terms of the new apostolic constitution. In the past many English bishops have resisted pleas from Anglicans looking for corporate reunion with the Holy See. The Holy Father tacitly acknowledged that resistance, saying: "I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church."

Pope Benedict voiced his strong support for the bishops of England and Wales in their stand against an "Equality Bill" that would have threatened sanctions against the Church for failing to ordain women as priests and for resisting same-sex marriage. " In some respects," the Pontiff said, the legislation-- which encountered defeat in the House of Lords-- "actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed." A headline in the Guardian reported that the Pope "condemns gay equality laws." The Times, with the flagrant bias that characterizes that paper's treatment of Catholic affairs, made the sensationalistic claim that the Pope had "attacked Britain's move towards equal rights in its secular democracy."

The Vatican traditionally does not formally announce plans for a papal trip until a few weeks before it occurs. But Pope Benedict has now, on several occasions, spoken openly about plans for foreign travel before the "official" announcement is made.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Royals and Catholics... Again

Joanna Bogle

So here we are again, with another discussion about Catholics and the royal family. We have been here before, each time some royal falls in love with a Catholic, or even when royal marriages in general are discussed.

This time it's a bit different: There is no specific royal eyeing the aisle with a Catholic in mind. But a Member of Parliament, Dr. Evan Harris, has announced his intention to introduce legislation to amend the law that currently states that no Catholic can ever marry the heir to the throne; that Catholics can only marry other members of the royal family with the monarch's consent; and that said royal spouse loses his/her place in the line of succession as soon as the marriage takes place.

Of course the law is unjust, and we all know that. But the Private Member's Bill being put forward by Harris, as presented, does more than change the law about Catholics: It abolishes male primogeniture in the royal line -- which may or may not be a good thing, but has some repercussions worth discussing first. Why should the line of succession be changed in the royal family but not elsewhere? What exactly is wrong with a line of succession going through males? Why, for that matter, do children take their father's name? Should it be made illegal to do so? Why is Harris trying to change things? Is he really so anxious that Princess Anne should draw nearer to the throne? Why, particularly? In what way can this really be seen as urgent?

Harris is the leading promoter of abortion and euthanasia in parliament, nicknamed "Dr. Death" even by his supporters because he is so dedicated to the cause. Why is he suddenly appearing to campaign for something that Catholics do not particularly want or need? None of us lies awake at night worrying that our nieces can't marry Prince William, but we do worry -- a great deal -- about people being deliberately killed in our hospices and hospitals, and about babies being aborted on a massive scale, and scary unethical experiments being carried out on human embryos in laboratories.

I have taken part in radio debates with Harris, and his fanatical opposition to the whole Christian view of human beings and their place in the natural world is, to put it mildly, worrying. Just why he wants to get the law changed relating to the royal family is anyone's guess, but mine would be that he's keen on using up parliamentary time and a private member's privilege that might otherwise have been used to achieve legislation blocking euthanasia or giving a tiny bit of protection to unborn children, or to teenagers currently bombarded with pressure to have abortions and to engage in sordid sexual antics -- and he's simply gleeful at the notion of posing as the hero-spokesman for the Catholic community.

If the situation warranted it -- if, say, HRH Prince William did meet a suitable Catholic girl -- a law could be whisked through Parliament to achieve a marriage without any of Harris's baggage attached. The mood in the country now would emphatically be on William's side: Several Catholics have married into the royal family in recent years, and the absurdity of the law is made more apparent each time. The latest ridiculous nonsense was over Autumn Kelly, who renounced her faith in order that her husband, Peter Philips, could become king -- once eleven of his nearest and dearest had died. (Pure Macbeth! One wonders what plans they have made . . .) Everyone knows the anti-Catholic law is a nonsense.
Poor Harris is a sad case. He really does have a fervent enthusiasm for things that most people recognize to be deeply wrong: aborting babies, healthy or otherwise; ensuring the speedy demise of the gravely and permanently ill or injured; carrying out experiments on human embryos aimed not at the embryos' survival or health but their destruction after use.

There are many injustices against Catholics -- and against other Christians and Jews -- that ought to be amended. Chief among these is the pressure on our schools: The present government is trying to insist that Catholic, Church of England, and Jewish schools be blocked from interviewing parents and choosing pupils who belong to a particular faith and show evidence of seeking schooling within that specific believing community. Instead, the schools must take a certain proportion of children from other beliefs or none -- only the intervention of the Catholic bishops stopped the enforcement of a rigid quota backed by the full penalty of the law -- thus making it difficult for the school to maintain its religious practices and ethos. Where non-believing parents chose to announce that their child was offended, or suffered discrimination, because of the nature of the beliefs being taught or celebrated in the school, there could be penalties for the school concerned.

We'd like something done about this, please, Dr. Harris. We'd like an assurance that when discussing baptism, Mass attendance, and family commitment to Church beliefs and practices, the government gets its sticky hands out of our business. We seek the freedom to live as Catholics and run schools without government interference on the religious side. We don't mind -- indeed, we have helped to frame -- a certain cooperation with public authorities on all sorts of aspects of school life, ranging from ensuring decent lavatories to use of public funds for providing essential structures and staff. But what we really need is simply the right, as British people, to live and pray and teach as Catholics.

And while we're at it, we'd also like a legal assurance that children will not be forced into attending sessions of sexually explicit propaganda masquerading as "sex education," that Catholic agencies working in adoption and foster care won't be forced to send children to homosexual couples, and that there will be freedom to discuss these matters and to preach and teach the fullness of Catholic sexual ethics without falling foul of the law.

The loyalty of Catholics to the crown is deep: It includes not only the genuine affection for the queen that is shared by the nation at large, but also a recognition of the ancient Catholic roots of our royal traditions, which meshes with our understanding of the central importance of family, and with our grasp of the importance of human beings living in a community with neighborly duties and a sense of common purpose. We pray for the queen on important royal occasions; we have her picture hanging in many of our schools; we loved it when she came to Westminster Cathedral. Of course we'd like if it Prince William married some delightful Catholic girl -- prayerful, knowledgeable about her faith, committed to a life of joyful Christian service to the country. And we can see, along with everyone else, the absurdity of a legal ban on such a possibility.

But in the absence of this happening, we aren't too bothered and will live happily with some other suitable bride. Please, Dr. Harris, leave us alone. We'll cope. In the meantime, stop pushing the killing of unborn babies and supporting unjust schemes to meddle in Catholic schools and institutions.

Joanna Bogle is an author and broadcaster living in London.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Latin Mass to Return to England and Wales

From The Telegraph
By Damian Thompson

The traditional Latin Mass – effectively banned by Rome for 40 years – is to be reintroduced into every Roman Catholic parish in England and Wales, the senior Vatican cardinal in charge of Latin liturgy said at a press conference in London today.

In addition, all seminaries will be required to teach trainee priests how to say the old Mass so that they can celebrate it in all parishes.

Catholic congregations throughout the world will receive special instruction on how to appreciate the old services, formerly known as the Tridentine Rite.

Yesterday’s announcement by the senior Vatican cardinal in charge of Latin liturgy, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, speaking on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, will horrify Catholic liberals, including many bishops of England and Wales.

The Pope upset the liberals last year when he issued a decree removing their power to block the celebration of the old Mass. Yesterday’s move demonstrates that the Vatican intends to go much further in promoting the ancient liturgy.

Asked whether the Latin Mass would be celebrated in many ordinary parishes in future, Cardinal Castrillon said: “Not many parishes – all parishes. The Holy Father is offering this not only for the few groups who demand it, but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist.”

The Cardinal, who heads the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, made his comments as he was preparing to celebrate a traditional Latin Mass at Westminster Cathedral yesterday, the first time a cardinal has done so there for 40 years.

In the traditional rite, the priest faces in the same direction as the people and reads the main prayer of the Mass in Latin, in a voice so low as to be virtually silent. By contrast, in the new rite the priest faces the people and speaks audibly in the local language.

Cardinal Castrillon said that the reverent silence of the traditional rite was one of the “treasures” that Catholics would rediscover, and young worshippers would encounter for the first time.

Pope Benedict will reintroduce the old rite – which will be known as the “Gregorian Rite” - even where the congregation has not asked for it. “People don’t know about it, and therefore they don’t ask for it,” the Cardinal explained.

The revised Mass, adopted in 1970 after the Second Vatican Council, had given rise to “many, many, many abuses”, the Cardinal said. He added: “The experience of the last 40 years has not always been so good. Many people have lost their sense of adoration for God, and these abuses mean that many children do not know how to be in the presence of God.”

However, the new rite will not disappear; the Pope wishes to see the two forms of Mass existing side by side.

Such sweeping liturgical changes are certain to cause intense controversy. At a press conference, a journalist from the liberal Tablet magazine, which is close to the English bishops, told the Cardinal that the new liturgical changes amounted to “going backwards”.

Following last year’s papal decree, liberal bishops in England and America have attempted to limit the takeup of the old Mass by arguing that the rules say it should only be reintroduced when a “stable group” of the faithful request it. But Cardinal Castrillon said that a stable group could consist of as few as three people, and they need not come from the same parish.

The changes will take a few years to implement fully, he added, just as the Second Vatican Council had taken a long time to absorb. He insisted that the widespread reintroduction of the old Mass did not contradict the teachings of the Council.