Monday, November 29, 2010

And we think we have it bad....

Today Vatican Information Service news tells of a new diocese being created in Tanzania. Here is the announcement:

Erected the new diocese of Bunda (area 5,530, population 1,023,390, Catholics 335,000, priests 2, religious 2) Tanzania, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Mwanza and from the diocese of Musoma, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Mwanza. He appointed Fr. Renatus Leonard Nkwande, diocesan administrator of Mwanza, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Mantare, Tanzania in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1995.

335,000 Catholics and two priests!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Solemn High Mass at St Mary`s Cathedral, Newcastle

Saturday`s Mass was a great success. The congregation filled the centre aisles of the cathedral. It was hard to estimate how many people were there but the figure of 150 is being quoted on other blogs. It certainly wasn`t any less than that. It shows what can be done when the Extraordinary Form is celebrated at a convenient time and location. Many thanks to all who made it possible on Saturday. Here are some photos, courtesy of Mike Forbester.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Consecration of a cathedral

A friend posted this on Facebook today. (Click on the picture above and you will be taken to the original page to play the video) It is well worth watching as a reminder of how times have changed. As the film doesn`t say at first which cathedral is being consecrated I thought it must be somewhere in Ireland given the way the streets were decorated with papal colours. Amazing to think that this was Liverpool in the 1960`s. I`m not sure anyone would be very bothered if a new cathedral was opened today. For whatever reason, Liverpool seems to have fallen off the ecclesiastical map somewhat in recent times. I wasn`t a fan of archbishop Worlock (nor Liverpool cathedral) but at least under him there was a sense that Liverpool was an important Catholic place. I remember being told by an old priest from South Africa who was from Liverpool that it had been the most thriving diocese in north-west Europe and looking at this video you could believe it.

Quomodo sola sedet civitas plena populo?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bettany Hughes on Woman`s Hour

Given that saying the Extraordinary Form Mass means that the priest is familiar with Latin, given the constant threat to the place of classics in the timetable and given that I do a bit of Latin teaching at Newcastle university, I was interested to read this transcript of an interview with Bettany Hughes (above) from yesterday`s Woman`s Hour on Radio 4.

Woman`s Hour, BBC Radio 4 November 16, 2010

Jenni Murray: Now, even in the sixties, when I was at a state school and Latin was for everybody (Greek only for the very bright) there were plentyof mumblings about pupils wasting their time on dead languages when they could be learning French, German, Spanish and perhaps even Russian or Chinese. Well, it`s not on the National Curriculum and only 17% of state schools teach classics, but there is a new campaign called Classics For All. One of its leaders is Bettany Hughes, whose latest publication is The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life. Bettany,how would you sell Socrates to a class of 21st-century pupils?

Bettany Hughes: Well, I`d tell them that they are living the way they do because Socrates thought the way he did. The very fact that he says “the unexamined life is not worth living” is the reason that they are sitting in school in the first place, because they are there to learn about life. So he is intently relevant.

JM: Why are you so passionate about it, that you chose to write your next major tome about it?

BH: Well, I think he introduces so many things to us the idea that we needto ask questions about life: What is good? What is bravery? What is the point of death? And these are questions that we all ask about ourselves still today and he`s incredibly relevant to our world, because he lived in this kind of `can-do` society, 5th century Athens, where everything was going very well, there was a lot of materialism, they were expanding their empire. But suddenly, everything collapses, democracy doesn`t seem to have the answer to everything, it`s not a panacea, and Socrates is almost a prophet for our age, because he says: what is the point of all of this,what is the point of glittering statues, city walls and beautiful warships if those who live in these cities are not happy? So I think he asks an important question of our time.

JM: Which indeed is being asked at this moment, by the Prime Minister. Alright, now convince this same class that Latin and Greek are worth theeffort.

BH: Well what`s interesting I think my battle would be half-won, if I wereto go into that classroom, erm because we know, I`m the President of athing called JACT (Joint Association of Classical Teachers) and with Friends of Classics we did an independent survey and between 70 and 76% of the pupils we spoke to in 1000 schools all told us that they desperately wanted to learn classical subjects, they wanted to learn Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation. But the terrible situation that we`re in now is that between 60 and 70 classics teachers retire every year, only 27 are being trained, so they are not being met, their desires are not being met.

JM: But did they say, because you know I suspect those of them who hadparents who went through it, the parents who say “Oh my goodness, do youreally want to go through, you know, `The farmer threw a spear at thebarbarian`?” for instance, she says, with memory. [chuckles]

BH: Indeed. Amo, amas, amat, and all that. Well I think actually that isone of the reasons they do want to learn, because they think that this is this special code-breaking that they as the next generation can do. Er,they love classical subjects. They go in their thousands, their tens ofthousands, their millions to films about the classical world. This filmabout Sparta called The Three Hundred [sic] took 72 million dollars in itsfirst weekend, and most of those were 14 and 15 year-old kids who weredesperate to find out about the ancient world. So it sparks their imagination, and actually what is very interesting is that they`re voting with their feet and they`re saying “Please, can you teach us more? We want to learn”.

JM: But when, politically, you find, alright a former-former-former Education Secretary, Charles Clark, saying “Oh, education for its own sake is a bit dodgy”, how do you counter that political view?

BH: [sighs] I mean, that`s just daft, isn`t it. Because what do we want out of our next generation? We want them to be enlightened and inspired and stimulated, surely, we want theirs to be a generation that has open minds, rather than closed minds. But there are also incredibly practical results that come out of learning Latin and Greek. Er, most of theEuropean languages, all of the Romance languages, are based on Latin. Between 40 and 60% of the words that you and I are speaking now are Greco-Roman in origin, so actually it makes you a great linguist, to learn these subjects, and of course it also teaches you about why we live the way we do. The fact that we have this word `democracy`, that we have`politics` - it is a Greek word, `politics` - helps you to understand the modern world if you, if you know more vividly, and with more nuance, wherethose words and ideas came from.

JM: But how impressed do you think an employer would be, with a kid withstraight-A`s in Latin, Greek and Ancient History, as opposed to the onewho`s done Business, Finance, and I.T.?

BH: The fantastic thing, we have some great statistics, luckily, to backup our campaign. If you talk to Cambridge University, they`ll tell you that of all their Arts graduates, excluding law students, if you call law students Arts graduates, classicists are the most highly employable. And actually, if you go to businesses, across the board, particularly international businesses, they love a classical degree, because it shows you can deal with quite complex data, it shows that you have an interestin the wider world, and it also shows that you have a fundamental interest in humanity, and increasingly, businesses of all kinds are realising that that`s an absolutely essential skill to have.

JM: How did you get your classical education?

BH: Well, I was very lucky. I got a scholarship to a school where there were still classics teachers. There were only three of us who learnt. I mean at this time it was very unfashionable, it was on its way out, but they were brilliant teachers: Veronica Anstee and Mary Sergeant and they inspired us to love this subject. And I think I carried on with it partly in a slightly bloody-minded way because I thought: this is SO importantand it teaches us so much we cannot allow it to die.

JM: And how do you retain that passion for it?
BH: Because the whole world is in antiquity. If you look to the distant past, you see yourself and you understand why we live as we do. And apartfrom that, there are just fantastic stories in antiquity. I love the factthat the poet Sappho first described love as bitter-sweet 26 centuries ago. Although, in fact, she called it sweet-bitter, which is much more accurate!

JM: But why do people say, “Ooeurgh, it`s such an elitist pursuit, oh, she had the benefit of a classical education, lah-di-lah-di-lah”

BH: Again, isn`t that terrible? It was lost from schools partly because people said: this is an elitist subject. How do you make a subject`elitist`? By only teaching it in the most elite schools. So, we know that state schools across the country are genuinely desperate: I get about 100 emails a week from children saying “I want to learn more”, so we set upthis campaign purely so that we can meet that need.

JM: But what about the teachers? I think you`re losing about 60 or 70classics teachers retiring each year. How are you filling up those gaps?

BH: We are, we are losing that number of classics teachers. The good news, though, is that the numbers of students in universities at the moment are 12,000 studying classical subjects, that`s the highest level it`s been at for ten years. So actually, in three or four years` time, we`re going to have a lot of very classically-educated young people who are going to beavailable to teach, and what our campaign is going to do is to give grants to schools who want to invite those new teachers into their schools to dothe work.

JM: Well, Bettany Hughes, thank you very much indeed for being with us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mass at St Mary`s Cathedral, Newcastle

Lest anyone hadn`t realised this Saturday, 20th November, there will be a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St Mary`s Cathedral in Newcastle at 11.30am. Many thanks to the Dean, Fr Leighton, for giving his permission. The celebrant will be Fr Swales, Fr Phillips will be deacon and I will be subdeacon. There will be clergy in sitting in choir too so if any priests would like to join them do bring the requisite gear. The music will be by the Jarrow Schola and the choir of St George`s, Cullercoats (who will sing Victoria`s O Quam Gloriosum` Mass). Many thanks to the local LMS for their help in organising this Mass.

We hope for a good turnout for this Mass in the newly refurbished cathedral. The picture above is from the previous Extraordinary Form Mass held at the cathedral a few years ago.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vocation discernment weekend with the FSSP

Comments are still coming in on the post below concerning Ushaw and vocations. In the light of the videos regarding the FSSP seminary at Denton, Nebraska, readers may be interested to know about the forthcoming vocation discernment weekend with the FSSP at their house in Reading. Fr de Malleray has sent this information which includes statistics about FSSP vocations in general and British vocations in particular.
Vocation discernment week-end at St John Fisher House in Reading on 17-18-19 December 2010
· For men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
· Starts on Friday 17th December 2010 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 19th December 2010 mid-afternoon.
· Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth has allowed for its canonical establishment in Reading on 1st August 2010.
o Address: 17, Eastern Avenue, Reading RG1 5RU.
o Access: 27mn from London Paddington by direct trains up to every 10mn, and from London Waterloo. Direct trains from Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Gatwick Airport, Southampton Airport, etc. Direct ‘RailAir’ buses from Heathrow to Reading train station every 20mn. Motorway: M4.
· Limited overnight accommodation: please book now.
· Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite), silent prayer, private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what is a vocation in general and to the priesthood in particular. Read here the Holy Father’s recent Letter to seminarians. Extract: “The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.”
· Cost: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome ; others: £50 suggested.

· Record breaking: this Autumn (2010), the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter gives thanks for the largest ever number of men admitted as First Year seminarians since our foundation 22 years ago: 48, including two British (one more Briton was admitted but was prevented from entering this year due to imperative work commitments). Deo gratias for so many prospective new workers in the Lord’s Vineyard. Please continue to pray for numerous saintly vocations : in particular for First Year British seminarians Alex and Mark who began their formation last month in Nebraska and Bavaria respectively, for Second Year British seminarian James tonsured last month in Wigratzbad, for Third Year British seminarian Ian to be ordained Porter and Lector next Saturday 20th November in Nebraska, and for British Deacon Matthew McCarthy to be ordained a priest next May in Nebraska.
· The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter runs two international seminaries: one in Europe, Bavaria for German- and French-speakers (International Seminary of St Peter in Wigratzbad); and one in the U.S.A.: so far the only English-speaking Extraordinary Form international seminary in full communion with the Church. Watch here the recently released 28mn video on Our Lady of Guadalupe international Seminary. Or here for our shorter 3mn Vocation video.
· Contact :; website:; International:
Priestly ordinations in the FSSP over the last 11 years
2000: 12; 2001: 15; 2002: 12; 2003: 19; 2004: 17; 2005: 7; 2006: 14; 2007: 8; 2008: 12;
2009: 9 (UK 2); 2010: 12 (UK 1); 2011: ? ( UK 1)

47th Convention of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors in the USA

I was interested to read this address to the National Convention of Vocations Directors in the USA, given on September 14th, on today`s Zenit report. Fr Roscia is the CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, which is new to me. A glance at their website reveals an impressive enterprise. Fr Roscia`s address however raises some interesting points.
He said:

I would also like to address several important questions that are surfacing among those preparing for ministry, and those recently ordained. Why are candidates for ministry and newly ordained priests raising questions about the validity and enduring significance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council? Why does there seem to be a fascination with old liturgical practice and things that appear to be external and superficial? Why is the divide growing between younger priests and older priests? How can we foster dialogue and build bridges between the generations of the presbyterate?
I thought it was interesting that such questions are being asked at the highest level of the vocations world in the Church in the USA. I can`t imagine it being on a similar public agenda in the UK.
However the answer to these questions appears to be that the seminarians and younger priests are simply misguided. He continues:
The pillar of the renewal of priestly life is the liturgy. If the priest does not rediscover the true meaning of the liturgy in his life, he cannot find himself. The liturgy is the place of education to communion. The protagonist of the liturgy is Christ, not the Pope, the Cardinals in Rome, and not even the parish priest. By living the liturgy, we can enter into the life of God, and only thus can we priests journey effectively with the men and women of our time and of all time. Nevertheless the liturgical reform must concern itself not only with texts and ceremonies, rubrics and rituals, vestments and the number of candlesticks on altars, but also with the spiritual hungers of human communities that we serve. Without authentic evangelization, participation in the liturgy is ultimately hollow– an aesthetic pastime or a momentary palliative; without the works of justice and charity, participation in the liturgy is ultimately deceptive, playing church rather than being church.
Nor can we forget that permission for the "Extraordinary Rite" of the Mass was granted for the sake of unity in the Church and nothing else. "The Extraordinary Rite" is exactly that: extraordinary. What is ordinary is what the vast number of our faithful celebrate each week. To impose what was meant to be "extraordinary" on ordinary situations does a great disservice to the unity of the Church and goes against the intent of the Holy Father. To misuse the special permission of the Holy Father for the Extraordinary Rite for political motives causes division. We must be about the work of unity in a Church that is often so divided.
Of course the liturgy must not become divorced from life but unfortunately Fr Roscia doesn`t really understand why anyone would be attracted to the Extraordinary Form. He admits this in the next issue he discusses as he calls it `another perplexing reality`. I found this paragraph interesting too:
Another perplexing reality I have encountered, especially among those in formation and those newly ordained, has been in the area of Sacred Scripture and preaching. A number of students, usually in their final years of the Master of Divinity or Master of Pastoral Theology program have complained saying they would never take another Scripture course again; that their previous Scripture courses had nothing to do with the reality of the church and liturgy and that the courses were "without a soul". This topic was addressed numerous times at the recent 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, a Synod which I experienced in a very significant way, having served as the English language media attaché to this historic, world-wide gathering at the Vatican.
One cause of the present disinterest and seeming impasse in Scriptural studies has been the atomization and dissection of the Scriptures, and a lack of integration of biblical studies with faith and lived spirituality. Are today's Catholic Scripture scholars and teachers adequately prepared to draw from their exegetical knowledge and their own life of faith and prayer to help fellow Catholics discover the meaning of the biblical Word today?
I agree completely with Fr Roscia on this. One of the brightest stars in the modern world of Biblical hermeneutics, Jon Levenson, has written regarding this problem:
The goal was to place the Hebrew Bible in its historical context, and we could do that only if we could reconstruct the cultural world in which its many documents were written—an arduous task but one that bore, and continues to bear, much good fruit.
Almost from the beginning, though, I felt there was a certain problem with this. What the biblical texts meant in the world of their authors is in considerable tension with what they mean today—including what they mean personally to the professors and students who devote themselves to that historical task. But the very method rendered that question of what they mean today one that could not be asked. It belonged somewhere else, to the theologians, for example, or to the preachers. Of course, when the theologians or preachers interpreted the book in light of ongoing tradition and contemporary experience, the historical-critical scholars were none too reluctant to accuse them of taking the Bible out of context.

Apologies in that this is not the normal Forest Murmurs stuff but I think it is relevant here.
A few more thoughts of Fr Roscia gave me hope in that he shows a will to understand:
Many of us are afraid of the new generation, of their robust sense of Catholicism, their manifestations of piety, their desire to "reclaim" many things that have been lost or forgotten. Deep down inside of many of our hearts, we would like clones of ourselves, and not new, free, thinking beings of a new age. There is a great wisdom to the Church's ban on human cloning!
The younger generation easily uses the word "solid" to describe those who are rooted in tradition and unafraid to manifest authentic piety and devotion. The younger generation is wary of those who equivocate and speak around issues rather than addressing them. What can we learn from their questioning? We must learn that we have to avoid the temptation to fudge -- to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations. This so-called "accommodationist" approach generally fails. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularized religious faith. We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message of Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise.
The Second Vatican Council recommends that older priests show understanding and sympathy toward younger priests' initiatives; and it advises young ones to respect the experience of older priests and to trust them; it suggests that both treat each other with sincere affection, following the example of so many priests of yesterday and today; the parish priest and other priests, including the religious, are called upon to testify to communion in everyday life.
Well said Fr Roscia! At 51 years old I cannot claim to be young but the aspirations he describes in the latest generation of seminarians have always been mine too. Only by listening to each other without prejudice can the older and younger generations of priests and Catholics learn and move forward.
UPDATE 15.11.10 For another take on Fr Roscia`s talk see Vox Cantoris.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Blog

I was glad to see the Holy Family Guild have started a blog. The HFG is a group of families in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle who exist to support each other in Catholic life according to the teaching of Familiaris Consortio. You can find the blog here.
While on the topic of family life it is an opportunity to recall the recent words of Pope Benedict as he spoke about his visit last weekend to Barcelona:

"I prayed intensely for families, the vital cells and the hope of society and of the Church ... My thoughts also went to the young, ... that they may discover the beauty, value and commitment of marriage in which a man and a woman form a family which generously accepts life and accompanies it from conception until natural end. Everything done to support marriage and the family, to help people in need, everything that serves to enhance man's greatness and his inviolable dignity, also helps to perfect society".

Monday, November 08, 2010

Here we go!

Five Anglican bishops resign and declare their intention to enter the ordinariate! I`m delighted by the news and only wish we had been as imaginative in the 90`s.

A modern seminary

This weekend the Northern Cross, naturally, had quite a lot to say about the proposed closure of Ushaw college. As was noted in the Tablet of October 16th there is a group of people led by LMS treasurer Paul Waddington who are willing to finance priestly formation at Ushaw if it includes training in the Extraordinary Form. Personally I thought that the logic of Summorum Pontificum would lead to all seminaries doing this nowadays: it is hard to believe that a man might spend six years at a seminary and not be able to celebrate the Roman rite in all its forms. However not everyone sees it this way.

The FSSP have a seminary in the USA, Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary at Denton, Nebraska. No-one would sell them a seminary so they had to build one from scratch, which opened on its present site in 2000, and it now has 75 seminarians with more applications for places than they have room. What is life like there? Who are the seminarians? Is the training according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on priestly formation? Well if you would like to see there are three videos on Youtube which give an idea of life in the seminary. You will see testimonies from bishops about how happy they are with the training that young men receive there as well as from lay people too (including Hexham and Newcastle`s own Leo Darroch at the start of the second video: Leo is the President of Una Voce International, the international umbrella group for national Latin Mass societies).

The videos are well worth watching:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Santiago de Compostela

The Pope arrives in Compostela today. I was there a few weeks ago with three priests of the diocese. This year as the feast of St James fell on a Sunday it is a Holy Year. The last one was 2004. In that year I organised a pilgrimage which followed the pilgrim route, or camino, landing at Bilbao and then on to the route through Burgos and Leon. Sorry to say we didn`t walk but had a coach. This time we just landed at Compostela airport and stayed a week so probably got even less grace. Two of our group did take the bus about eight miles out and walk in to get a feel for the camino.
Going to Santiago de Compostela is like stepping back in time: to before 2007 to be precise! There was no sign of an Extraordinary Form Mass anywhere which I thought odd for such an important pilgrimage destination. Una Voce Hispania has a list of regular Masses in Spain and on the Una Voce La Coruna site there are pictures of a High Mass celebrated at Compostela by the SSPX. In fact the whole thing was not a great liturgical experince. The cathedral was full of scaffolding as preparations were being made for the papal visit. The famous botafumeiro was nowhere to be seen so we assumed it was away to be cleaned up for the papal visit. I concelebrated at the 12 noon Mass on Sunday. There was no choir but only an elderly canon acting as cantor. No altar servers either apart from another elderly canon. The Mass was just like a normal parish Mass with four hymns and a Sanctus sung in Spanish (or Eucharistic acclamation I suppose). One day a choir from Argentina came and were able to sing a couple of motets during Mass. A visit to the bookshop by the seminary showed no influence of Summorum Pontificum either.
One day we all concelebrated Mass in the tiny chapel containing the relics of St James. This was a surprise as the sacristan led us to a chapel I never thought we would be going there. It was somewhat overwhelming to be so near to these relics which have so coloured the spiritual life of Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.

There were a number of items of interest for English pilgrims. For example on going to through the Holy Door to `hug the apostle` (the statue of St James kept behind the High Altar) in one of the side chapels there is a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

More spectacular was this statue of Our Lady in the Lady Chapel in the monastery church of San Martín Pinario which is now a museum. The notes said it was made in England and brought to Spain by Catholics fleeing Henry VIII. The first mention of it in the monastery archives about 1610 but whenever it got to Spain it was moving to see this bit of English Catholic history in such a glorious setting.

This cheered me up this morning

Des hommes à part
Uploaded by deshommesapart. - More video blogs and vloggers.

Thanks to Giorgio for the link.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Former bishop of Durham speaks about the Ordinariate

I saw this, this morning, in an interview with Tom Wright, former Anglican bishop of Durham and now a research professor at St Andrews University, and thought it interesting:

`Asked to comment on the Vatican's 'Ordinariate' scheme to enable Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church, and the desire in a parish at Folkestone to change allegiance, Bishop Wright said that people had thought that there were "dozens of parishes ready to jump", adding: "Many of the Roman Catholic bishops that I know in England were not terribly happy at the thought that they might have to administer this kind of whole extra wrinkle on top of the complicated structure they've already got, and I did hear one Roman Catholic priest - how representative I don't know - saying we've got quite enough traditionalists in our own Church without having all yours as well." `

I wasn`t aware that Catholic dioceses were a `complicated structure`. However there is no need for hard-pressed diocesan bishops having to worry about adminstering another structure as the ordinariates will not be under their authority but answerable to Rome.