UFO spotted above Vatican.

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In a statement issued by the Vatican head of Cosmology, Ukrainian born Fr Ima Sceptic described the recent UFO sighting above the Vatican as “Out of this world.”

Fr. Sceptic has spent the last 30 years heading a team of nerdy clergy known affectionately within Vatican circles  as ‘The Geek Squad’. They can be easily recognised by the sticky plaster that holds the bridge of their reading glasses together, and their rigidity in terms of liturgy.

“When this was first reported we thought it was just another hoax” explained Fr. Sceptic. “It was a very windy day. We rushed to the window and at that very moment witnessed a small black spacecraft floating on the breeze. It went right passed our window! We saw it with our own eyes!”

Fr Sceptic’s account can be verified by his assistant, American born Fr. Al Ien.

“He’s right” said Fr. Al Ien “It was about  40-50cm wide at the brim and looked like it was made out of something like Beaver fur.”

When told about the sighting, Pope Francis reportedly said that the Geek Squad are “notorious” for their “fake news” and that they should stop being so nerdy and rigid and  “get with the programme”.

The Holy Father continued “I’m not saying there aren’t such things as aliens, I’m just not saying there are. If you want to believe in aliens then fine. If you don’t want to believe, then fine. Makes no difference to me. Do whatever makes you feel happy.”

Fr Sceptic thanked the Holy Father for his leadership on this issue and has duly filed the incident under the “Lacking Clear Explanation” file in the Vatican vault.

In other news…

There has been an unprecedented rise in sales of the famous Saturno hat worn by clergy in Rome this week.

Sales staff have advised priests not to wear the wide brimmed hat on very windy days due to an increase in fake UFO sightings this month.

Open letter from a “rigid” Hebrew Catholic to Pope Francis.

 

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Dear Holy Father,

There has been a lot of talk lately about Catholics who are “too rigid”.  Those who attend the Latin Mass have been derided for placing love of tradition over love of each other.  Those who follow the traditional teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion have been similarly disparaged.  I can relate to this accusation. I love the Tridentine Mass. I go at almost every opportunity. I, too, struggle with the idea that someone who is objectively living in a mortally sinful relationship should ever receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.

I can also relate to this accusation for another reason.  I am a Hebrew Catholic. That is, I am also Jewish. And as a Jew, I of course have something to say 😉

If ever one group were derided by the Church at large for legalism, it would have to be us.  Stemming from the accusations against the Pharisees in the New Testament, you have to admit, we Jews have faced all sorts of these accusations.  Indeed, are we not the ones who pass by the man on the road, leaving a Samaritan to care for him? Are we not the ones who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel, modern day Pharisees? As a Jew in the Church then, surely it is not surprising that I find myself in this “rigid” category?

The truth is that Jews are often misunderstood in their love of the Law.  So, too, are more traditional Catholics.  Being scrupulous is the plague of anyone trying to be holy, that is true, but attention to detail in keeping the Law, a desire to do what is right, is not the same as scruples, even if they might sometimes creep in.

In Judaism, when someone becomes Torah observant, we say that they are becoming “religious”. There is great rejoicing over this, not because it means people are finally “doing what they are told” and “obeying the Law”, but because they are entering into a deeper relationship with HaShem, or, as you might know him, the Lord.  Becoming religious in Judaism is a romantic experience: you fall madly in love with G-d and you want to do anything to please him.  You become aware of how small you are and how great he is, and how wonderful it is that he has chosen you.

Another way to look at it would be to say that you become more perfectly God’s child. Contrary to popular thought, the idea of G-d being Father did not begin with the earthly Jesus.  True, in knowing the Son we came to know and distinguish the Father of the Trinity properly speaking, but in terms of a paternal relationship, we have had that in Judaism as far back as Moses, if not beyond:

“Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (Deu 32:6 NRSV) and everyone knows that “As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.” (Psa 103:13 NRSV).

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Let us go back to those passages above. Firstly, the accusation of scruples to the Pharisees is actually part of an inner Jewish debate. Look at Tractate Shabbat in the Talmud, and you can see it continued on for centuries.

Holy Father, the first important thing to note is that Christ is not correcting the Jewish Law itself. Rather, he is pointing out that at the heart of Judaism is God’s mercy by which He draws us to Him (a subject you have been focusing on intensely this past year within the church). That it is the Spirit of the Law that really matters because the Law is a tutor, and if you build the fence around the Torah too high, you will not be able to see the commandment, and the purpose of it, itself:

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” (Mat 23:4 NRSV).

In Judaism, this principle is still practiced: when one becomes religious, one keeps the basics of the Torah first and builds up until one is fully observant.  What matters is that you are trying, and you are on the road to holiness.

Finally, on the Good Samaritan, I say this: the priest and the Levite are travelling towards Jericho, not the Temple. Contact with blood is a matter of ritual not moral impurity, and the only need they would have had to worry about contact with it would have been if they were travelling towards the Temple: there is no problem in getting a bit bloody in Judaism. Just make sure you wash in a Mikhveh so you are clean to worship.

In fact, even if they had been travelling towards the Temple, they should still have stopped because the Law tells us to “love our neighbours as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18). Yep, that didn’t originate with Jesus, either! (Except as the Eternal Word, of course!)

You can break any law in the Torah to save a life.  The problem was not that they would have been breaking the Law had they stopped, but that they broke it by not stopping.

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Once we understand that the Law itself is not the issue, we see that at the same time as making sure you can still see over the fence, Jesus doesn’t mean you disobey the Law. Of those same Pharisees, he says, “do what they tell you” (Matt 23:3), after all. Indeed, you don’t want the devil jumping over and destroying the garden of your soul, and “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:20 NRSV). And anyone who truly loves God surely desires the latter with all their heart.

Holy Father, faithfulness, strict adherence, is not something contrary to the Gospel spirit.  It is an outpouring of a desire to be with God, just as “becoming religious” is in Judaism. Moreover, it is how we should be. The possibility of over-caution in keeping the Law, and warning against it, is not the same as saying the Law is at fault and can, or should, be broken or changed.  Of course, as Catholics, we believe that the Law is fulfilled in Christ.  I am not saying don’t have your bacon sandwich on Sunday morning! However, let us never forget that it is fulfilled, and so in its new state, we must continue to keep it with all our hearts.

Time will tell what the Church will make of Amoris Laetitia.  Until then, we pray and trust in God.  But please let us end this nonsense over faithfulness to Tradition and Church teaching is blind “rigidity”. It isn’t.  In the same way Jews are blamed for being rigid, but are, in fact simply doing everything to please God for the love of Him, so, too are those of us Catholics who are standing firm on Church teaching, and entering more deeply into the faith through an immensely enriching liturgy.

Yours sincerely,

A Hebrew Catholic.

How do you solve a problem like Pope Francis?

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Did Pope Francis just say that it is ok to use artificial contraception in some cases?

This is the question that is being asked all over the world at the moment. As usual following the off-the-cuff answers given during his airplane interviews, Pope Francis has left a wake of questions and confusion. One begs the question of whether he should be doing this style of interview at all? I often wish he would just take a sedative on his plane trips and have a nice long sleep rather than unleashing the hounds of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Let’s gloss over the fact that he just told Donald Trump he was not a Christian, and instead focus on the recent comments concerning the Zika virus. Did he say it was ok to use condoms to avoid a pregnancy in these circumstances?

The first thing to do is to ignore any shock headlines and look up the exact transcript of what was said:

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): “Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?””

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.

On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”

As we know, the Popes words can often be taken out of context and twisted by the media. And that is exactly what happened following this recent plane interview. But then, on 19th Feb 2016 Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.

Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

Vatican Radio have issued a sound recording and full transcript of Lombardi’s comments, so there is really no doubt whatsoever that he did actually say that. I suppose there is always the possibility that Lombardi twisted the words of Pope Francis – but I doubt it. There would have been some correction issued by the vatican already if that was the case.

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So what do we do now?

For those of us who have struggled with and committed to church teachings on sex and marriage this comes as a major blow. Does the Pope really have no idea how hard it can be sometimes? Does he have no idea about the rewards and benefits to the marriage of remaining in line with the church on this issue? Does he think that bending the rules regarding artificial contraception is being ‘merciful’ in some way?

I don’t know. I just don’t know with him I’m afraid. I’m as confused as you are. This is not the first time this canny old Jesuit has left a wake of upset and confusion in his path, and I don’t think for a moment it will be the last.

I remember a few years back when Benedict came to the UK and I stood on the side of the road literally jumping up and down, cheering as loud as I could as he drove into his papal residence in Wimbledon. Benedict was my hero – my Father. I trusted him. I can’t say I would be doing that if Francis came to visit. I just don’t feel that way about Francis. I feel extremely let down and rather embarrassed if I am totally honest.

But one thing is even worse than that. Francis leaves me with a funny mixed feeling of hopelessness and suspicion which stinks of political motivation. Following everything that has occurred so far in his papacy I am left  with two thoughts:

Either he has absolutely no idea of what he is doing, or he knows exactly what he is doing. I don’t know which is worse…

 

 

 

Gunman attacks Priest, and then asks for Confession.

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I was shocked to hear the recent story of Fr John Hamlet. Fr Hamlet had been called out on an emergency hospital visit late at night on Ash Wednesday, but due to his car being currently in an unusable state he instead decided to catch a cab.

He managed to give the hospital patient the last rites and then after a short while started to make his way back home – this time on foot. He knew it was not advisable to be walking alone in that part of town late at night, but he did not have enough money to pay a second extortionate cab fare that evening – even though it was freezing cold.

As he turned into an alleyway that would shortcut 10 mins off his walk home, he suddenly realised he was being followed. He quickened his pace but soon realised that the end of the alleyway had been  blocked off by two dumpster bins. Before he knew it, Fr Hamlet was pushed into a doorway and a young man was holding a gun to his head.

“Give me your wallet” The young man shouted into his face. Terrified, Fr Hamlet agreed, and then indicated to the young man that he needed to unzip his coat to get his wallet from the inside pocket.

As he unzipped his coat the young man noticed his priestly collar and suddenly dropped the gun. “Oh I’m so sorry Father! I had no idea you were a priest – If I had known I never would have tried to rob you. I’m a terrible Catholic…” And the young man dropped to his knees and began to cry uncontrollably.

“That’s ok my son” said Fr Hamlet as he tried to console the young man. He asked the young man if he would like confession and the young gunman agreed. Feeling incredibly moved by the situation Fr Hamlet tried to make the young man feel better. “You know what – I don’t even have any money left in my wallet, but why don’t you take this packet of cigarettes instead? I know I could sure do with a smoke after tonight!”

“That is very kind of you Father” said the young man picking up his gun and placing it back in his trousers “But I’ve given up smoking for Lent!”

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Where’s the Cross Papa?

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This is the end scene from the Pope’s new video where each religious person holds out a symbol of their faith. The Christian is holding a baby Jesus.

Where’s the crucifix?

There is nothing wrong with a statue of the baby Jesus but the crucifix is the defining visual representation of Christianity. It is where our salvation occurred. It is the ultimate expression of love.

What a shame they decided not to include a crucifix. Come to think of it, due to the well positioned sheet of paper and folded hands, there is not one cross visible in the entire 1 min 30 second video. Why is this?

Was it done because of the politically correct fear of offending someone? Yes, this sounds likely. Is it because the death and resurrection of Christ blows all other religions completely out of the water? (Because it does, doesn’t it?!)

You see, the cross is the most incredible, loving, paradoxical event ever to have taken place – so much so that no other religion can even come close.

What I think has happened in this video is that they have watered down Christianity to appease and fit in with the other religions. This is firstly an insult to Christ, secondly an insult to the pursuit of  truth, and thirdly an insult to the pursuit of true tolerance.

The cross is too truthful, too loving, too challenging to be used in a politically correct video. Much better to present Christianity as the post Vat 2 fluffy little baby Jesus that anyone under the age of 50 got served up in primary school and few advanced beyond.

Presenting the different religions as equal is wrong. They are not equal, and they have very different interpretations of what LOVE means. If they really do want to see what brutal, real, honest, tough, agape is, then they need to take a good long hard look at the cross, because the cross IS love.

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Omgosh I did a bidding prayer at the Vatican!

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I’m writing this at Fiumicino airport on my phone so I hope it is going to present itself ok?!  Let’s try…

Well… Yesterday I read a bidding prayer at the Vatican, during the canonisation Mass of Louis and Zelie Martin – the parents of St Therese of Lisieux.

This all came about because I am a secular Carmelite. My formation director is friends with one of the Carmelite friars in Rome who happens to be the assistant to the General Procurator (the guy who investigates the miracles attributed to possible saints) and he was looking for an English speaker to do one of the bidding prayers. So she gave him my email address!

We had a practise on the Saturday, but I actually missed our practice slot because I was too busy chatting. Typical me. But in my defence I was chatting to the relatives of Louis and Zellie Martin, and Therese of Lisieux! (but that’s another blog post I am yet to write).

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I was just so happy to be there watching all the preparations to be honest. Let me tell you this: a Papal Mass is one big choreography. It was fascinating to see the organisation going on in several different languages. Lucky for me most people spoke at least basic English, because I can’t speak a word of any other language. I struggle enough with English frankly! But it didn’t matter. There is always someone who is available for a bit of impromptu translation. But I did at least get to go and stand at the Ambo and freak out at how many chairs there were!

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Sunday morning I arrived at St Peters square at 7.45am and there was already hundreds of people queuing to get in. Lucky I had a ‘special’ ticket and was able to go straight through up into the VIP area.  There I met the rest of the bidding prayer crew.

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We were able to have a run through but I have to say, I wasn’t really nervous, just really, really excited!

Then Mass started. We were sitting pretty much in the front row. There were just two suits in front of us who I assume were security, with black briefcases that I assume contained lots of guns and stuff. Seriously – I think we had the best seats in the house.

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Pope Francis seemed to me to be a Father under enormous pressure, who desperately needs the prayers and support of Mother church. It’s not an easy marriage at the moment. I don’t envy his job one bit.

He declared Louis and Zélie Martin saints. The first married couple ever to be canonised together. May they watch over, and be a tangible source of help to all married couples and families.

So then, after the homily, came the moment of truth for me. Bidding prayer time. I’m very happy to report that I managed NOT to trip up, fluff my lines or do a Marilyn Munroe with my dress.

Click to view video.

After Mass their was opportunity to get a quick photo of Papa Franko in the Popemobile.

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He usually takes about 20 minutes to drive around the whole of St Peters square and kiss babies ect. But his drive was cut rather short that day. Probably because he needed to get home pronto to watch Argentina destroy Ireland in the rugby (just kidding!).

The crowd was estimated at about 80k, and spilled out into the roads surrounding St Peters square.

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And I even managed to get a pic of the gorgeous altar frontal – for research purposes only 😉

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Then I had to leg it before security rolled me up in the red carpet and threw me out! Ha!ha!

It was an INCREDIBLE day. Probably one of the best days of my life. I’m in no doubt that my Carmelite sister St. Therese orchestrated all of this for me on her parents big day! I’m forever in her debt. <3

I prayed for you all, and all your intentions xxx

German Bishops break with Rome and inaugurate Dalek as their new supreme Pontiff.

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Cardinal Kasper gets a breath of fresh air with the new Pope Daal XVI.

In an unprecedented move this week, several German high ranking clergy have openly declared that they no longer consider themselves to be under the authority of Pope Francis but instead have pledged their allegiance to a Dalek. This follows several months of progressively dissenting behaviour in which the aforementioned clergy were trying their level best to change Christ’s teachings on marriage and family, sexuality and reception of the sacraments.

In a statement released by the group, Cardinal Walter Kasper states that “Our new Pontiff is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful mutant who wants everybody to be happy.”

The inauguration happened last Thursday in a low key ceremony in which it was reported there were “guitars”.

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The new pontiff, who has taken the name Daal XVI, has wasted no time in issuing his first papal document entitled “Exterminatus” in which he discusses wiping out all of humanity by utilising their own sinful tendencies. The 38 word document also quotes never before heard scripture – the Gospel of Davros.

When asked about the rather concise nature of the document Cardinal Reinhard Marx explained: “We felt it was important to choose a Pontiff who had a very limited vocabulary. In this way it would be almost impossible for us to dissent from his teachings because we can pretty much interpret his one-word theological answers however we want.”

However it is also being reported by several different sources that the new Pontiff has an extremely short temper and is liable to sudden outbursts.

An eyewitness at the inauguration ceremony told us that “Everything was going smoothly with the opening procession until Pope Daal got to the sanctuary steps. No-one had remembered to put a ramp there for him to roll up and he just totally lost it. Everyone knows Daleks can’t climb stairs. He was livid. His ‘head’ just kept spinning round and round and his mechanical eyestalk was jerking up and down furiously while he exclaimed ‘EXCOMMUNICATE! EXCOMMUNICATE!’ in his harsh grating staccato manner. It was awful. People were so frightened they were hiding behind the back of the pews clasping the kneeler cushions to their chests. Some of the really brave ones would peek over the top or round the sides of the pews. I was watching through a crack in the door.”

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Another eye witness told us that “At one point it seemed that the new Pontiff had completely lost control of the plasma beam that was shooting randomly out of his ‘arm’. Not the sink plunger ‘arm’ – the other one. One of the altar girls got hit on the elbow, and someone from the congregation shouted ‘Get the Doctor! Get the Doctor!’ I saw Cardinal Kasper lean over to Bishop Franz-Josef Bode and ask ‘Doctor who?’ Bishop Bode smirked and whispered back ‘You just said it!’ At this point Cardinal Kasper stood up and asked if there ‘was a Doctor in the house?’ Someone suggested Therese of Lisieux, and that’s when it began to dawn on us that breaking away from Rome was perhaps not such a good idea.”

Pope Daal begins a busy public schedule next week in which he will be having tea and cake with several world leaders including David Cameron, President Obama and the Grand Master of the Masons.

“So… the Pope said Divorce is OK now, right?”

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I have seen plenty of social media discussion recently on the new annulment reforms Pope Francis has brought in. Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (The Lord Jesus, the Gentle Judge) has brought with very mixed reactions from priests and laity alike.

Predictably, some are saying it is too slack while others say it is not changed the process at all. But there does seem to be the inevitable grey area’s of the document which let’s face it, is something we have come to expect from Pope Francis. For instance one part of the document talks about lack of faith at the time the marriage took place and how this could be a possible contributor to declaring the marriage void. But how is one to determine this?

It’s a very difficult question, and there is really no black and white answer here. I certainly do not envy the Priests and Bishops who are going to have to be making the decisions in these matters.

Of course some people will argue that Pope Francis is just asking for trouble by seemingly blurring the edges or allowing grey areas. What also doesn’t help is the fact that the media do not understand the document or even have the slightest idea of what sacramental marriage actually means. It doubly doesn’t help when they purposefully twist the Pope’s words to make it sound like he has said something he never said at all.

For instance I heard of a priest recently who received a phone call from a lady who wanted to marry the father of her child because she was under the impression that “the Pope said divorce is ok now, right?”.

(Stop. Just take a minute to notice your reaction to that last sentence. Did you laugh? Sigh and roll your eyes? Did you think how stupid that woman must be? Be honest with yourself.)

The woman was told that this was not the case and to consult her local parish priest. Of course this was the right thing to do, but I can’t help feeling this was a blinding opportunity for evangelisation and catechesis that might have brought this woman and her whole family back into the faith.

It was not this woman’s fault that she had not been given the correct information. In fact her statement only highlights the chronic lack of catechesis and pathetic marriage prep that the last two generations have had to suffer. If anything her lack of knowledge shames the church itself.

I have to say I am not totally up to date on the annulment reforms, but I feel it is something that practising Catholics should all gain some basic knowledge of. It cannot be stressed enough how sensitively one must handle a question of this nature. Because for many people, the harsh truth is that they will not be able to marry the Mother/Father of their children or the person they are in love with. Please do not underestimate how painful this sort of news is.

It can only be truly explained in the context of a relationship with Christ – because that is the only way it can be understood, and lived.

Let’s not moan and whine about the new reforms, but instead always try to be at the service of our brothers and sisters, and help them to rectify any marriage issues they may have. And if their situation cannot be rectified, let us respectfully help them to accept and carry the cross that they have been given.

17 years ago I took the morning after pill. Today I went to confession.

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I’m not sure why I have never taken this to confession. I think I actually have been subconsciously blocking it out of my mind all this time. Perhaps because I didn’t want to admit to myself the horror of the fact that I may well have killed one of my babies, or perhaps I was simply just too ashamed.

3 days ago Pope Francis announced to the world that all Catholic priests will be able to forgive the sin of abortion during the year of Mercy that begins this December. In some parts of the world, abortion can only be confessed to a Bishop because it is such a serious sin. In fact it is so serious that if you have been part of an abortion in any way, be it the mother or father who decided to get the abortion, parents or friends who help the woman to get the abortion, the doctor, nurse or even the receptionist working at the clinic – ANYONE involved in any way with ending the life of that child is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic church. (Excommunicated means thrown out, so you are no longer part of the church and you can no longer receive communion.) It is THAT serious. That was news to me.

Some people don’t consider the morning after pill to be an abortion. But it is. Life begins at the moment of conception, and the morning after pill works by stopping that fertilised embryo from implanting into the womb of the mother. The same can be said for other forms of contraception like the IUD coil or the Mirena coil. They do not stop fertilisation from occurring, but instead stop the fertilised embryo from implanting into the womb.

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When I took the morning after pill my intention was to stop any pregnancy from occurring. I had no knowledge of my cycle in those days, but I knew there was a possibility that I could have conceived the night before. So I went to the clinic, got the pill, took it home, got a big glass of water, put the pill on my tongue, told the virgin Mary “I’m so, so sorry for doing this, but I can’t cope with a baby right now”, took a big glug of water and swallowed the pill.

I knew exactly what I was doing, but I was a scared teenager with a new boyfriend who was not strong enough to say no. And after all – wasn’t I doing the “responsible” thing? The year previous I had sat in class in my all girls Catholic high school and been told that “If the condom splits then you can always get the morning after pill.” Perhaps this is why in the same year I also helped a 14 year old friend get the morning after pill. I helped her to end her possible pregnancy. Even if she was not pregnant the intent was there.

I think that feeling of shame is actually a useful feeling. After all, if we felt no shame whatsoever then it would suggest that taking the life of another human being was perfectly acceptable. But of course it’s not – is it. But shame can be a difficult thing because it can quite often push us into denial. I think I must have been denying to myself that it ever happened. Or that I probably wasn’t pregnant anyway so it wasn’t a sin. But whether I was or I wasn’t – the intent was there to end any possible pregnancy, and on that basis I did definitely need to take it to confession.

Lucky for me, the priests in England and Wales have already been given the authority by their Bishops to absolve the sin of abortion – so there was no need to wait until December. So this morning I went to confession. The priest was kind and friendly and didn’t judge me in the slightest – quite the opposite actually. He was glad that I had had the courage to come to confession and unburden myself of these things that has been in the back of my mind for 17 years. I’m sure i’m not the first person he has had come to confession with this sin and I’m sure i’m not going to be the last.

After he absolved me he said the words: “Go in peace, the Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from your sin.” 🙂

If you have had an abortion, taken the morning after pill or used the IUD type of contraception then I hope my story will give you the confidence to go and see you local priest and ask him for confession. Don’t spend any more time carrying the guilt or shame. Let Jesus take away your sins and free you to come back to into His loving arms.

SSPX, 50 years of Vatican 2, and the Family Synod.

Pope Francis

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Today Pope Francis sent a letter to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and made a completely unexpected announcement regarding the SSPX:

“A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime,motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”

For those of you who are not familiar with the SSPX here are a few brief facts:

  • The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is an international organisation, founded in 1970 by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, of traditionalist Catholic priests.
  • It was born out of opposition to changes in the Catholic Church that followed the Second Vatican Council.
  • It is commonly believed that they disagree with the whole of Vatican II, but it is only just five paragraphs. These are the ‘pelagian’ paragraphs relating to conscience.
  • The society is known as a strong defender and proponent of the Tridentine Mass.
  • The central controversy surrounding the SSPX concerns the consecration by Archbishop Lefebvre and a Brazilian bishop, Antônio de Castro Mayer, of four SSPX priests as bishops on 30 June 1988 in violation of the orders of Pope John Paul II.
  • The following day, the Congregation for Bishops issued a decree declaring that Archbishop Lefebvre and the four newly ordained bishops had incurred the automatic canonical penalty of excommunication reserved to the Holy See.
  • Lefebvre argued that his actions had been necessary because the traditional form of the Catholic faith and sacraments would become extinct without traditionalist clergy to pass them on to the next generation.
  • The canonical situation of the SSPX has been the subject of much controversy since the 1988 Écône consecrations. The Society claims to possess extraordinary jurisdiction for celebrating masses and for other sacraments like penance and marriage.
  • The view of the Holy See, as expressed by Pope Benedict XVI on 10 March 2009, is: “Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”

So you can see now why today’s announcement was so surprising.

Archbishop Lefebvre

Archbishop Lefebvre

The SSPX responded to the announcement on their website:

“The Society of St. Pius X learned, through the press, of the provisions taken by Pope Francis on the occasion of the upcoming Holy Year. In the last paragraph of his letter addressed September 1, 2015, to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father writes:

‘I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Society of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.’

The Society of St. Pius X expresses its gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this fatherly gesture. In the ministry of the sacrament of penance, we have always relied, with all certainty, on the extrdaordinary jurisdiction conferred by the Normae generales of the Code of Canon Law. On the occasion of this Holy Year, Pope Francis wants all the faithful who wish to confess to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X to be able to do so without being worried.

During this year of conversion, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X will have at heart to exercise with renewed generosity their ministry in the confessional, following the example of tireless dedication which the holy Curé of Ars gave to all priests.”
A Tridentine Mass

A Tridentine Mass

Well this is all big news! I’m slightly confused as to why the SSPX were not contacted first regarding this monumental decision and rather (as they stated in their response) found out about this “through the press”. That seems very odd indeed to me considering the magnitude of the announcement. No-one seems to have an answer to this. I’m inclined to file it away under “stuff that Pope Francis does”. 🙂

However, it struck me that the timing of the announcement was rather significant. The opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy will take place on December 8th 2015 – the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Lest we forget, that the SSPX was born out of opposition to the Second Vatican Council.

The optimist here will tell you that this announcement is an extremely exciting step that shows real hope of reconciliation between the SSPX and Rome. That it is following the same direction as Summorum Pontificum in which Pope Benedict XVI stated that all priests may once again freely celebrate the Tridentine Mass, and that Pope Francis is really reaching out to these guys.

The cynic however will tell you that it is just a way of publicly sweetening the SSPX as Rome prepares to celebrate 50 years of the thing that caused the SSPX to come into existence in the first place. And that this gesture means very little to the SSPX as far as its interaction with Rome goes because according to the Normae generales of the Code of Canon Law, their sacrament of confession is valid already – and always has been.

And the end-times watcher will tell you this is just a way of trying to include and appease the traditional side of the church, when what is really about to happen is that the church is going to be taken over and completely remodelled by a set of uber liberal diverse cardinals at the family synod in October all under the banner of the ‘spirit of vatican 2′.

Well I suppose we will have to wait and see what happens at the synod before we start to imagine all sorts of monstrosities – but I can tell you this: If things do go pear shaped at the Synod and the so called ‘spirit’ of Vatican 2 and Cardinal Kasper’s version of mercy prevails, the SSPX is gonna get real busy, real quick.