Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good News about Catholic Education

Moving out of the sanctuary for a while, I was very pleased to see this on the Independent Catholic News site. Congratulations to bishop O`Donoghue and to his chairman of his education committee, the dynamic Fr Luiz Ruscillo. The document can be found here. I sincerely hope it will become a model for the rest of the country.

LANCASTER - 30 December 2007 -

Vatican welcomes Bishop O'Donoghue's Fit For Mission schools document

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster Diocese(UK) has received the endorsement of the Congregation for Clergy, Rome, for his recent teaching document, 'Fit for Mission? Schools'. The Congregation further express the hope that it will become 'an example for other Dioceses in the country in their implementation of the General Directory for Catechesis and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in their individual ecclesiastical jurisdiction'.

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary for the Congregation for Clergy, has sent the Congregation,s congratulations to Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue for his 'courageous examination of the state of evangelisation and catechesis in the diocese of Lancaster's schools and colleges' - among other things, and for developing a positive programme for action in harmony with the General Directory for Catechesis and the other operative Magisterial documents.

Furthermore, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza wrote in his letter of 15 December, 'The Congregation is especially pleased as your pastoral plan is precisely that which was called for in the "General Directory for Catechesis after the release of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church'.

The Dicastery wished the Bishop well in the implementation of the Fit for Mission? Schools programme, which will be developed throughout the diocese during 2008. In the New Year, the diocese,s Education Centre will facilitate and co-ordinate further consultation and implementation of the action plan among primary and secondary schools, and colleges. This will culminate in a diocesan conference in November 2008 to discuss the progress of Fit for Mission? Schools over the year.

Bishop Patrick is most encouraged to receive the support the Congregation for Clergy for Fit for Mission? Schools. He said: "To be honest, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response! Before Christmas, my office was inundated with congratulations, enquiries, and requests for copies of Fit for Mission? Schools from within the diocese, from around the country and internationally".

The Bishop's Office in Lancaster has received requests from the United States, Canada, Australia, France, and Malta.
Source: Lancaster Diocese

Friday, December 28, 2007

New emphasis on exorcism? Vatican denies report

Today the Daily Mail picked up a story from the Petrus website about Benedict XVI asking for special exorism squads. Apparently this became known through an interview with Fr Gabriel Amorth, the official exorcist of the diocese of Rome. It was also on Petrus that an interview appeared with Leo Darroch, the new head of Una Voce, which attributed to him all kinds of things he never said. Seems as if Petrus is not that reliable as a source of news. Catholic World News has the announcement about the Vatican rejection of the story.

New Ecclesia Dei document

Today the Catholic News Service gives a summary of Pope Benedict`s plans for 2008. Among them are the new document from the Ecclesia Dei comission which will clarify questions that have arisen over Summorum Pontificum. When a document comes out from a Vatican congregation sometimes hair-splitters who don`t like what the document says will say that it is a document of low authority because it is not the work of the Pope but a Vatican department and so it effectively gets ignored. A document from a congregation can acquire greater authority if it is signed by the Pope himself in forma specifica. The good news from the Catholic News Service is that this appears to be what is going to happen. Here is the relevant paragraph.

Sometime early in the year, the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" plans to issue a document clarifying questions that have arisen regarding the pope's 2007 document relaxing restrictions on use of the Tridentine Mass. Sources said the pope personally is interested in removing ambiguities, and will sign off on the new document.

I have great hopes for this document as there appear to be cases where the Motu Proprio is being ignored or misinterpreted to prevent a more ready access to the 1962 missal for those who request it and various specious excuses are put forward to block access. Sometimes it is said that a Mass can only happen if the people requesting it are from that particular parish but then on the other hand when people from a parish have made a request they have been told that they can`t have it because there is already provision about twenty miles away in another parish. Let`s hope this new document will clear up some of the recent obstacles.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The exotic liturgical life of Bensham

On the fourth Sunday of Advent the Society of St Pius X, who have celebrated the traditional Mass on a Sunday in the Station Hotel in Newcastle for the last 34 years (with a short inter-regnum when they had an independent, ex-SSPX priest, Fr Glover), moved into their new home the former Anglican church of Christ Church in Bensham, in Gateshead. I include a picture here of this fine church and a link to more. I went to this church in 2005 for a Christian Unity service for Gateshead led by the bishop of Durham, Tom Wright who spoke a lot of sense about ecumenism on that occasion. I was invited back for a sneak preview of the church a couple of weeks ago. The Society had originally planned to take over another ex-Anglican church in the Bensham area of Gateshead, the lovely church of St Cuthbert on Bensham Bank, but found the costs prohibitive. That church has now been acquired by an Orthodox group so Bensham will be able to provide quite a wide variety of liturgical experience!

The new SSPX church has had it`s name changed to the church of the Holy Name. When I was parish priest of St Wilfrid`s and St Joseph`s in Gateshead ( with a weekly Sunday indult Mass) I heard that the SSPX were planning to move into the town. They often complain that bishops set up officially sanctioned celebrations of the Tridentine Mass only where their own churches exist. Having a Tridentine Mass with an attendance of 80 or so I felt that they were setting up near to me. However there is no sign of the SSPX opening up in Forest Hall as yet! Meanwhile the Sunday 12 noon EF Mass continues at the nearby St Joseph`s, Gateshead.

There is talk of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops being lifted soon. If this happens then we will have another church on Tyneside where Catholics may freely worship according to the EF. A field trip to St Cuthbert`s to study the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom should also be a possibility it seems!
I should also mention that Bensham is the home to a large Orthodox Jewish community with one of the most important yeshivas (Talmudic school) in Europe and that the SSPX is right in the centre of it.

More encouraging news from the Vatican

This story appears today on Catholic News Service regarding the recent changes in the papal liturgies. It`s interesting to hear what the new papal MC has to say about these changes. Let`s hope this outbreak of sanity continues and that maybe something will hapen to the papal chasubles too. So far the Pope has turned out in some good copes but the chasubles appear to be the same cut as those of John Paul II although without the `fly-away` orpheries. I hope 2008 brings a papal celebration of the EF. It would help those of us in the trenches who are trying to promote Summorum Pontificum in the face of indifference and hostility.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

A very happy Christmas to all who read this page. We had an absoutely packed church for the Christmas vigil Mass at 6pm. A good crowd of about 60 for the sung midnight Mass in the extraordinary form and no trouble despite the recent non-story about priests moving midnight mass to earlier in the evening to avoid drunks etc (as if this was news). Christmas Day Mass was quite low key but again a good crowd. No trouble with Come Home for Christmas then! Maybe more useful would be come home for Epiphany or something like that since there is no problem filling the church on for Christmas.

In the octave of Christmas, as well as the daily 10am Mass there will be an EF Mass at 11 each day (apart from Saturday ( EF at 10), Sunday and Monday) with a Missa Cantata on New Year`s Day to include the Veni Creator to gain the plenary indulgence. On the Epiphany we will have the 6pm EF form Mass at SS Peter and Paul`s Longbenton with a social afterwards to celebrate twelfth night.

Fantastic to see things slowly improving at the papal liturgy last night too with the restoration of the seventh candle for a Pontifical Mass. God bless Pope Benedict! H/T to NLM

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blair Conversion

This is the bit that intrigues me ( from today`s Times):

Vittorio Messori, a Catholic writer who co-authored books with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, said: “Friends in the English church have told me that it all started with Cherie’s faith. Gently, gently, she convinced him to go to mass with her so as not to separate the family on Sundays. He was struck above all by the liturgy. I found out about this 10 years ago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More like it

H/T to Rorate Caeli for this letter of the bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro in Italy to the Pope regarding Summorum Pontificum. I didn`t know telegrams still existed! However I thought this was a touching letter. I wonder if there have been any like it from this country? All we seem to have had, apart from silence, are a couple of extremely restrictive interpretations.

Motu proprioSummorum Pontificum
Telegram sent by our Bishop Luigi to the Holy Father Benedict XVI

Most Blessed Father,The Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, together with its Pastor, has received with gratitude and responsibility the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", recognizing in the directives proposed by Your Holiness a wider possibility for the education of the Christian people towards a faith which becomes truly a part of the person and a living presence in the entire society.

Our Diocese has not been able but to feel sorry for the persistent silence of many in the Catholic world which seems to reveal at least discomfort, if not distance, from Your directives, and cannot refrain from indicating as a source of concern the taking of public positions which have sounded problematic in comparison with the Magisterium of Your Holiness.Your Holiness, our Diocese is small but has always been unconditionally faithful to the person and to the Magisterium of the Successor of Peter.

We trust therefore that this our faithfulness, which we have willed to express with this gesture, may comfort You in Your service. We only ask for us the Apostolic Blessing.

Pennabilli, 15 December 2007.

+ Mons. Luigi NegriBishop of San Marino-Montefeltro

Monday, December 17, 2007

Southwark Cathedral

I received this from the LMS today:

For Immediate Release

17 December 2007

Traditional Latin Mass Returns to St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, London

With the kind agreement of Archbishop Kevin McDonald and Canon James Cronin, the Cathedral Administrator, the Latin Mass Society organised a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at 11.00 am on Saturday 8 December 2007 for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Mass was followed by the singing of the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’.

The Celebrant was Fr Andrew Southwell, the Deacon was Fr Patrick Hayward and the Sub-deacon was Fr Christopher Basden. Canon Cronin sat in choir and preached the homily. The MC was Gordon Dimon of the LMS and the Mass was sung by the Gentlemen of the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Nick Gale.

As far as is known, this was the first time the Traditional Latin Rite has been celebrated in St George’s Cathedral since the post-Vatican II liturgical changes of 1969.

A very large congregation of several hundred packed the central nave and sang the people’s parts of the Mass with great gusto. The size of the congregation was impressive given the very wet and blustery weather experienced that day.

The congregation were delighted when Archbishop McDonald joined them after Mass to chat at the back of the cathedral.

Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS, later said, “This Mass is an object lesson as to how cathedral authorities and the LMS can liaise fruitfully to reintroduce the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite into our cathedrals to satisfy the demand for this Rite which undoubtedly exists. The LMS is grateful to Archbishop McDonald and Canon Cronin for their help and we hope to return to St George’s Cathedral before too long.”

Note: A large selection of photographs of this Mass can be seen on the website:

. . . . ENDS . . . .

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or Yvonne Windsor, LMS Office Administrator, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More good news about Latin

H/T to Rogueclassicism for this piece from Monday`s Guardian:

Latin, it was reported last week, is making a comeback in inner-city schools in London: 20 primaries are trying Latin lessons, under the aegis of Project Iris, run by teacher Lorna Robinson. Something similar is happening in Oxfordshire, where the language is also being introduced to selected primary schools.
Robinson has spoken of its benefits in helping children get to grips with English, but one of the refreshing things about the move to teach Latin in perfectly ordinary primaries in Hackney is that there is no nonsense here about it being the preserve of the posh.
Alas, the impression that the language is for toffs and Fotherington-Thomases has probably been reinforced by its most vocal contemporary champions: Boris Johnson may be many things, but he is not what we classicists would call one of the profanum vulgus; or to put it another way, he is not a man of the people.
In 1968, students protesting in Paris actually cared enough - bizarre as it may now seem - to rail against the compulsory study of Latin; and one of the first moves by the Bolsheviks in revolutionary Russia was to banish the language from schools. Latin has long been regarded as the preserve of the few, a position to which it gradually declined after a staggeringly successful stint as the universal language of first the Roman empire and then the church.
It had a robust development through the middle ages, a retention of power through the start of the early modern period, and then a swift downward canter, as the language ceased to be the essential carrier of European thought and became the bastion - and the mark - of the wealthy, educated classes.
Until quite recently it retained a useful side function (which it can still claim to an extent) of being a vehicle for excluding the masses from certain areas of privileged knowledge. Legal and medical terminology was obscured in Latin, as was stuff that was too sexually explicit to be revealed to morally susceptible members of the working classes and, naturally, of the weaker sex. (An unintended consequence was that Latin has been associated with titillation; in 1881 an edition of an 18th-century work of pornography called Academie des Dames was put out, in deliberately easy Latin, with a crib provided.)
The association of Latin, then, with upper-class males is a mere trick of history. Just as Project Iris is doing in Hackney, it's time to reclaim Latin for the proletariat (a good Latin word, after all). Why? Partly, as Project Iris hints, it's an excellent way of improving language and general learning skills. And partly because it is difficult - and why shouldn't children be challenged? Latin is a tricky beast, but if it's taught well children can have a lot of fun with it.
One might ask, why not learn something useful, like Spanish or Mandarin or French? Well, do that too, but your efforts will be made easier by a knowledge of Latin: because it's a "dead" language - as people are so fond of saying - learning it presents the advantage of sidestepping all that business of ordering a beer or reserving a hotel room. Instead you delve right down to the bones of the language, understanding it at a deep, structural level that is both immensely rewarding for its own sake and very useful when that understanding is applied to any other language.
Mostly, though, Latin is worthwhile because it creates the opportunity for an encounter with the intellectual world of the ancient Romans, through the fantastically rich corpus of literature that remains to us. This encounter with Rome is important because so much of what we do and think - from the way our laws are organised to the nature of our education system, to how we look at our rights and duties as citizens - has its roots in Rome. Encountering Rome through its literature is one of the most exciting journeys the life of the mind can offer. To engage with these strange creatures of 2,000 years ago - so like, so unlike us - is to embark on a relationship that is often deeply unsettling, but never anything less than enriching.

When to put up the Christmas tree?

I see that the lights on the Vatican Christmas tree are to be lit tomorrow. I sometimes wonder when is the right time to put up the tree. I once knew a family of very devout Catholics who every year would go to get a tree on Christmas Eve which they decorated while listening to the service of nine lessons and carols from King`s College Cambridge on the radio. That seemed to make sense but then it meant the tree was only enjoyed for twelve days. The advantage was that trees were sold cheaply on Christmas Eve. However the Vatican thinks tomorrow is a good day for it. On reflection today, being the feast of St Lucy, may have been appropriate. In fact I think I`ll start that as a tradition next year now I think about it. In the meantime I`d better start rummaging through the presbytery cupboards to see what bits of Christmas decoration I can find. I suppose I really ought to start writing cards too. I always imagine I`ll have done this by December 8th but never have done.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I`m sure we`ll be seeing more of this..

While the Forest is murmuring as much as ever, I`m afraid I`ve not felt inspired to drag myself to the computer recently. However this story caught my attention today. I wonder whether this happens in other parts of the country apart from Dover? Baptisms may remain popular because whereas this secular naming ceremony (and I wonder how long it will be before it becomes compulsory?) costs between £109 and £234, baptisms come with no fixed fee although most couples are happy to leave £20 or so.

From the Religious Intelligence site.

Bishop’s anger over secular naming ceremony Friday, 7th December 2007. 3:35pm

By: George Conger.

THE BISHOP of Dover has criticized Kent County Council (KCC) for privileging secular ‘baby welcoming’ ceremonies over Christian baptism for newborn infants.

“Whilst I have no objection to KCC offering a secular service for those who would like it, I do have problems with them promoting these alternatives through the registration service,” Bishop Stephen Venner told the diocesan newspaper, Outlook.
When parents register the birth of their child in Kent, the county Registrar’s Office gives them a pamphlet advertising a ‘Simply Perfect Kentish Welcoming Service.”
The KCC’s website states: “A welcoming ceremony can be a very special way of celebrating the birth of your child and welcoming the new arrival into the family and the wider community. It’s also an opportunity to declare, before family and friends, your promise to be as good a parent as you can and for adult friends or relatives to confirm their special relationship with your child.” The naming service costs from £109 to £234 and comes with a customised naming scroll.
“If people are to be made aware of services, then KCC should include the provision of the various faith communities in any glossy brochures they are handing out and on their websites,” Bishop Venner said.“The role of government is to enable all sections of the community to have the services they need, not to promote just one option,” he noted.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Extraordinary Form Confirmations in Northampton diocese

I received this press release from the LMS today together with this picture of Bishop Doyle after the Mass following confirmations in the extraordinary form.


For Immediate Release

29 November 2007

* Northampton Bishop Administers Traditional Rite Confirmations

The LMS announces that Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton administered Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Rite) to 7 candidates during a pastoral visit to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Chesham Bois, Bucks on Sunday 18 November. Bishop Doyle also celebrated Sunday Mass in the Traditional Rite.

John Medlin, General Manager of the Latin Mass Society, said, “This is a very welcome development. We hope it will not be long before bishops all over England and Wales respond to pastoral demand for Mass and the Sacraments in the Traditional Rite. The parishioners of Chesham Bois are very grateful to Bishop Doyle for agreeing to offer the Traditional Mass and Sacraments.”

In an endorsement of the recent Papal Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Bishop Peter Doyle became the first Ordinary to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Latin Mass in his own Diocese. (Confirmations have been conferred annually in Westminster Diocese since 2004 by auxiliaries of the diocese). He topped it off by celebrating Solemn Pontifical Low Mass. In accordance with the Motu Proprio the ceremonies “followed the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated” and the earlier form of the Roman Pontifical.
In an address to the candidates, Bishop Peter noted that some of the candidates might be nervous. “I, too, am nervous”, he said, “as this is the first time that I have conferred confirmation and celebrated Mass in the older form of the liturgy.”
“Remember,” he instructed, “that it is not you or I who is in charge – it is the Holy Spirit.” The full congregation was touched by the courage and humility of Bishop Peter.

. . . . ENDS . . . .

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or Yvonne Windsor, LMS Office Administrator, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

Congratulations to Sr Anna!

I was delighted to read in the Northern Cross that St Michael`s school at Esh Laude in Co. Durham has been named the best state primary school in the North East and the third best in the whole country by the Sunday Times Parent Power Guide.

The article states:

Ofsted had already identified the school as `outstanding` after its latest inspection.

St Michael`s was one of only six schools in the country in which every pupil achieved Level Four in the Key Stage Two `sats` tests.

The school originated in 1795 and under headmistress sister Anna Ryan, combines a mixture of traditional and innovative lessons.

The three Rs are given maximum emphasis but the 172 children, aged from 4-11, devise their own rules- and then abide by them.

The many extra-curricular activities at St Michael`s include playing violin and ski-ing.

What the report doesn`t mention and why I am particularly interested is that the school uses for RE the excellent CTS programme The Way, the Truth and the Life which, despite having a forward by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, has not always found favour in catechetical circles. I visited the school once and was very impressed by the depth of knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the Catholic faith shown even by non-Catholics. Sr Anna also ensures a daily Mass is said in the school chapel by using the services of retired priests.