13 March 2009


I don't see how anybody but the fiercest bigot could fail to be moved by the Holy Father's letter to his Venerable Brethren. The only bit that made me raise my eyebrows was the apparent undertaking to comb the Internet. Won't he need a lot more staff to do that? But perhaps he anticipates that all those who were so critical of him for not keeping up-to-speed on Williamson's blog will be sending him loads and loads and loads of dosh to pay for the the vast new hyperdikastery which will be needed to monitor the airwaves and fibre-optics. And what becomes of Ecumenism? Just suppose, for example, the Sovereign Pontiff makes a positive move towards Orthodoxy. And it then turns out that some Orthodox prelate somewhere has said something daft. Will Benedict again be held responsible and pilloried? After all, the number of Orthodox bishops in the world is considerably in excess of four; and eccentricity ... even plain dottiness ... is not unknown in the colourful culture of Byzantium. Not that I'm sneering at my Orthodox friends; after all the stodgy and tedious Church of England contains the surreal figure of the Barmy Bishop of Bux.

I particularly liked the bit where our Holy Father sorrowfully compared the venom of his 'friends' with the attitude of sympathetic Jews. I feel, by the way, that not enough publicity has been given to the support he received from by far the greatest of today's Jewish theologians and scholars, Jacob Neusner - the same Neusner whom I rammed down the throats of my students for more than two decades and whose brilliance I intermittently commend to readers of this blog. And finally ...

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them - in this case the Pope - he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

Benedict's words, not mine. What a bull's-eye! What a man! What a Pope!


I have just seen Thompson's blog and his transcription of the "summary" put out by the English RC bishops. I assume his account is accurate. If so, their malice seems almost unbelievable. When I wrote above about "the fiercest bigot ..." I never guessed that my rhetoric would be outflanked by that lot. What a mean miserable little gang of nobodies they are. From time to time, kindly well-meaning people suggest that I should go knocking on the door of some English RC bishop ... need I say more?


And now I've just read the contribution of the Archbishop of Liverpool. Suddenly into my mind came the words of the late, great, Anglican monk and mystagogue, Dom Gregory Dix. He claimed that he had chosen the name Gregory in Religion not with a reference to Pope S Gregory the Great, but Gregory VII, Hildebrand; and had done so because "he sacked more bishops than any other man in history". Doesn't the English RC Church need a bit of a clean-out?


John F H H said...

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them - in this case the Pope - he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

How very true. Have you ever brought up the name Myra Hindley in any sort of parish discussion group on the limits to God's forgiveness?

"Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris."

Tho', of course there is a whole other question in how far we are to forgive those who who have not personally wronged us, nor asked for our forgiveness; and how far "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." applies in such cases.
John UK

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

John FHH: I have preached a sermon on precisely the point you raise, Hindley and all. Perhaps that's why the Holy Father's words rang such a bell with me.

Anonymous said...

I find the whole affair to be a total downer.

BTW, NB this from Archbishop Theodosius who has something to say to Benedict:


Pastor in Valle said...

Wasn't it Chrysostom who said that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops?

becket said...

Believe there are plenty of bigots in the modern day Catholic Church. See if you can find the letter on the USCCB website, here in the US.

That should answer your question.

Fr Anthony said...

Dear Father,

I grealy enjoy your blog and your reasoning. You might be interested in my faux-blog on:

(go to the links on the bottom of the page for the current month).

I am a TAC priest directly under Archbishop Hepworth. I was happy to see you featured in our current issue of The Messenger together with your beautiful church.

I hope we will get to meet up one day.

Fr. Anthony Chadwick

Ben said...

When Tom Burns had just become editor of the Tablet - and when he was about to turn it into the Pill - he had qualms, and decided to settle them by taking the great typographer Stanley Morison out for lunch. Morison, unlike Burns, was orthodox, but he had a keen sense of the shortcomings of some RC bishops even then. After a long session of prandial bishop-baiting, Burns said, 'So why don't you leave the Church?' Morison snorted and pounded the table: 'Do you think I'd stick with this bunch of third-rate macaroni merchants for a moment longer, if it wasn't the only way to LAY HOLD ON CHRIST!'

johnf said...

It is so depressing - especially Archbishop Kelly's remarks.

But just to brighten the gloom a little, a correspondent on Damian Thomson's blog weeks ago recounted Jonathan Swift's theory of the Irish Episcopacy. They were very poor in his day, and his theory was that good and holy men were appointed but as they set out to take up their appointments they were attacked by highwaymen as they crossed Wimbledon common. The miscreants killed them, disvested them and dressed themselves in the Bishop's regalia and proceeded to Dublin where they then took up the appointment.

Damian's correspondent asked whether we should search Wimbledon common for the remains of the real Catholic Bishops and Archbishops.

I think he may have a point.

Ed said...

What a man! What a pope! I agree, an amazing pope!