Infantilizing the Church.

Beneath the apple tree: 
there I took you for my own, 
there I offered you my hand, 
and restored you, 
where your mother was corrupted.

– St. John of the Cross (stanza 23 of the Spiritual Canticle).

I read this stanza this evening to my 11 and 8 year olds. The 8 year old loves the romance and imagery of the Spiritual Canticle and is naturally poetic herself. The 11 year old is very bright and immediately picks up on the fact that this stanza is talking about the apple tree in the Garden of Eden and Eve. I go on to explain that the wood of the tree is also symbolic of the Cross. We talk about the fact that St John of the Cross always talks about things that go on in the depths of our hearts, and also the ups and downs in our relationship with God. We notice this especially in the words ‘corrupted’ and ‘restored’.

My 8 year old tells me that she thinks she understands it in her heart but not in her head! I tell her that is perfectly ok because St John often speaks more to our hearts than he does to our heads. The 11 year old goes on to talk about what ‘restored’ means, and links it back to a computer game he likes to play. He gets it. They are both eager to read the next stanza tomorrow night.

St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross

All of this is a far cry from “I wish I was a Butterfly” and all the other regular offenders that are spoon fed to my kids at children’s liturgies up and down the country. My 11 year old finds that absolutely cringeworthy now and so do I. I often find children’s liturgy is obsessed with making the children as physically active as possible during the Mass – which I believe to be a mistake. If our minds are completely taken up with actions and songs and carrying things in the offertory or watching our friends do bidding prayers, then when is the time for learning to properly, internally actively participate in the Mass?

I think that one of the biggest mistakes we make in children’s liturgy is to try to keep the children entertained. This teaches them from the word go that Church is somewhere you go to watch a show. And when they get a bit older, and that show is still the same show they were watching when they were 5 years old, they don’t want to go see that show anymore because it’s babyish. Their internal spiritual life has been neglected, and has not had a chance to mature past “This little light of mine”. Of course they are going to reject it. They are not stupid.

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Last week I heard that there was outrage in a Catholic Parish over a homily given at a First Holy Communion Mass. Apparently some of the parents felt the day had been ruined, and the children ‘traumatized’ because the priest had talked about the Eucharist being Jesus’ real flesh and blood. One has to ask the question what exactly has been going on here? But it is clear from this catastrophe that we are now looking at a 3rd generation of Catholics who have not been adequately evangelised or catechised. Whatever we have been doing for the last 3 generations has got us to this point. Something needs to change.

Another big mistake that I believe the church has made is to take evangelisation out of the home and into the catechist classroom. Now I am not saying that all Catechists are bad – far from it, most of them are absolutely brilliant. However, the faith is something that cannot be truly learned in a classroom. It needs to be witnessed through example. Parents are the first and most influential educators of their children, and it truly believe that if they are not living the faith at home, then there is very little chance their children will carry on the faith into their adulthood.

I do not think I am wrong in saying here that most Catholic parents today have good intention, but very little in terms of their own catechesis and evangelisation. In my experience, your average First Communion parent does not pray regularly, if at all, does not frequent the sacraments and does not own a Bible. And I must make it very clear here that it is not my intention to blame the parents for this. Quite the contrary – I am fighting their corner. It is not their fault they have not been taught properly.

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When the church decided to catechise children in the classroom, it seperated knowledge from lived example. Now this was not a problem until catechesis took a turn for the worse in the 1960’s. At that point, the first generation of children were lost to guitars, the socialist Gospel, and little fluffy baby Jesus. When these children grew up and became parents, that is all they had to pass on to their children. This pattern continued into the next generation, and the next, and here we are today. The difficulty now is that the previous two generations have been left as spiritual infants – almost completely unable to offer any sort of evangelisation or catechesis to their own children, and so once again it is being left to those outside of the family home.

Now, you can have the best catechist in the entire world, and have a child who knows the New Testament off by heart. But if that child then goes back to a home where the faith is not lived with any maturity, and Church extends to some old boomer bashing out songs on their guitar from the 1960’s because ‘that’s what the young people like’, then at best the cycle of infantesized Catholic spirituality will be repeated once again. At worst, and more often than not, it will just be rejected. These kids are not rejecting the Catholic faith, they are rejecting the infantilised version of it that they, their parents and Grandparents have been spoonfed over the last 50 years or so.

Older children and teenagers will continue to find Mass boring and ultimately leave the church for as long as we keep them infantilised. And we will never break this cycle of misplaced catechesis until we begin to respect the fact that parents are the first and most influential educators of their children, and alert them to this fact. We need to equip and empower them to carry out this fundamentally important role that we have taken away from them.

This infantilization of the faith needs to stop. Today.

St. John of the Cross pray for us.

An open letter to Cardinal Vincent Nichols regarding Alfie Evans: “Do not abandon us to the culture of death.”

Dear Cardinal Nichols,

I read your statement on the Alfie Evans case with extreme sadness and disbelief. I felt that you sided with the culture of death that is so prevalent in our society today, rather than standing up for Gospel values of life, hope, love and mercy. In this letter, I want to explore some of the things you said, and also try to get to the root of why you took the hospitals side, rather than that of Alfie and his parents.

You said: “Wisdom enables us to make decisions based on full information, and many people have taken a stand on Alfie’s case in recent weeks who didn’t have such information and didn’t serve the good of this child…” I can only assume from this statement that you had more medical and legal information available to you than the public had?

Did you know about the horrendous neglect Alfie was experiencing at the hospital?

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I have spoken to several parents who have had, and are still having terrible experiences at Alder Hey. Alder Hey has one of the worst reputations of any hospital I have ever come across. As a Liverpool boy yourself, I would have thought you would be well informed on the reputation of this hospital. And even If you weren’t, Bishop McMahon and his Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Williams live only 8 miles from Alder Hey. It would be difficult for them to claim they were unaware of what was going on at their local hospital.

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These pictures of Alfie have been shared over 22k times on social media. Didn’t any of your advisors alert you to them? Did you not know the only reason Alfie was given oxygen and food a whole day after he had been extubated was because his father Tom threatened a complaint, since the death protocol approved by Judge Hayden spoke neither of deprivation of oxygen nor of suspension of nutrition? Did you really not know about any of this? I have spoken to people who were in the courtroom when Alfie was given his death sentence, and they have told me that they have never had such a close and harrowing encounter with the culture of death.

In actual fact I sincerely hope you were not correctly informed of the situation at Alder Hey, because if you were informed, and you still chose to support it, that would be a far greater and more disturbing problem.

What about the scandal at Alder Hey in 1999, when organs were removed from babies who died at the hospital. Hospital staff also kept and stored 400 foetuses collected from hospitals around the north west of England. Did you not know about this?

And then there was the scandal of 2003 when Alder hey removed 5 year old Amy Enright’s thymus gland during an operation when they treated her for a defective heart. Her parents found out that her thymus gland had been “commercially bartered or sold” by the hospital in exchange for hospital equipment with a pharmaceutical company. Alder Hey removed and sold a body part from a living patient. Did you not know about this either?

This was all headline news over several decades, which leads me to believe that you must have been aware of Alder Hey’s reputation.

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Were you aware of how badly the family were being treated by the hospital? They would not even give Alfie’s mum a couch to sleep on during the last few days of Alfie’s life. His parents had to sleep on the hospital floor next to their dying child.

Did the hospital chaplain not report this information back to you or to Archbishop McMahon? Archbishop McMahon said “I am grateful for the medical and chaplaincy care which Alfie is receiving… I know that they are doing everything that his humanly possible.” He then stressed that the hospital’s chaplaincy team have offered pastoral support to Alfie’s family and staff at the hospital since the child was admitted in December 2016, so I would have imagined they would have got to know the family very well indeed, right? Yet the diocese did not even realise Tom and Alfie Evans were both Catholic – a fact which was emphasised in the February judgment and had therefore been well known for two months. How did the hospital chaplain manage to miss this basic fact if the family had been there since December 2016?

It seems to me that that family were not being supported by the chaplain or by the diocese. That is why the Italian priest came to minister to them and to Alfie in their time of great need. And why was this priest then suddenly called back to his parish after a firm phone call to those in charge of him? I guess once he was out of the way, the Liverpool chaplain could then offer the family much more politically correct diocesan approved support and finally be seen to be doing their job.

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Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool Diocese Thomas Williams.  Chairman of the Healthcare Reference Group of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Who is in charge of hospital Chaplaincy in England and wales anyway? Would that be Archbishop McMahons Auxillary Bishop Thomas Williams? He was the one who reportedly wrote the first official statement by Liverpool diocese on the Alfie case because Archbishop McMahon was away in Rome at the time. He also happens to be the current Chairman of the Healthcare Reference Group of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, so that would put him in charge of hospital chaplaincy I guess? Was he not aware of what was going on at Alder Hey?

Forgive me for saying so, but if the Chairman of the Healthcare Reference Group of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales does not know what is going on in his own local hospital, especially during a high profile case, then I would have to question his ability to carry out his role effectively. But that would be giving him the benefit of the doubt. I think it is more likely that he was well aware of what goes on at Alder Hey, just like Archbishop McMahon knows and you know, and you are all completely on board with it. And that is the scariest thing of all.

Archbishop McMahon of Liverpool diocese.

Archbishop McMahon of Liverpool diocese.

The reason I say this is because you told the Polish Bishops last week that “When we discuss the Church’s doctrine here (UK), we must often construct a dialogue on arguments about society’s common good.”  Now for someone who said a few moments before, that “Unfortunately, there were also some who used the (Alfie) situation for political aims.” this seems like a very political thing to say. It sounds like to me that you are trying to fit into the politically correct narrative of UK politics. Is this the case? If it is then we really are all in trouble.

Your comments seem to suggest that you felt that Alfie Evans’ death was in his best interests and the interest of society. The “experts” no doubt informed you that it was. But what do you regard as being “society’s’ common good”?

You are a much more educated person that I am, so I am sure you are fully informed on the fact that society has had a paradigm shift from classical medical ethics to modern Bioethics over the last 50 years or so. There has been a growth in debate over problems pertaining to medical ethical practice. Doctors are no longer finding solutions to these problems in the Hippocratic ethical model. A new set of modern values are emerging – namely, utilitarianism.

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Is this what you meant by “society’s’ common good”?

The British medical system and courts determined that Alfie had to die because of the working assumption that death is preferable to life for disabled people. This utilitarian concept is why you felt that it was in Alfie’s best interests that he should die. I say this because you criticised those trying to save Alfie stating that they “didn’t serve the good of this child”.

It is becoming increasingly clear that you do not oppose this utilitarian ethical ideology.

I remember in 2013 when a group of senior Catholic doctors said that your Bishops’ conference report about the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) (known in Catholic circles as the Liverpool Death Pathway) “borders on the disingenuous” adding that it “goes to extreme lengths to align support for the LCP with Catholic teaching”. The report also said that the LCP is not ‘inherently unethical’ but has been ‘badly implemented’. Why were you so keen to try to align a programme of euthanasia with Catholic teaching?

Cardinal Nichols, this is the culture of death, and you are supporting it.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

You also said “It’s very hard to act in a child’s best interest when this isn’t always as the parents would wish – and this is why a court must decide what’s best not for the parents, but for the child.” This is truly one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard a Cardinal say. How is it possible that a Catholic Cardinal can side with those who have stripped the parents of all their authority, so they can legally end their child’s life?

As a mother of 3 children, I can now see you have no desire to defend my rights as a parent, which are being further and further eroded away by the state. It is becoming more and more apparent that you were quite happy to sacrifice Alfie Evans and his parents on the altar of political correctness rather than stand up to an increasingly totalitarian state.

People all over the UK are now having conversations about the amount of power the state now holds over the people. The time has come where you need to decide whether it is any longer appropriate for you to continue trying to fit in with the state, or whether it is time to take a stand against it. You can’t do both, and you can’t do nothing.

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With the deepest respect, may I remind you that Christianity is, and has always been counter cultural. Jesus was counter cultural.

Your comment “When we discuss the Church’s doctrine here (UK), we must often construct a dialogue on arguments about society’s common good.”  Sounds to me like you are suggesting that Church doctrine should bend to fit the politically correct utilitarian narrative. This would involve watering down and compromising Catholic doctrine, or worse still, twisting and distorting it to fit the PC narrative. Whilst this approach has kept you in good stead with the establishment, the consequence is that you have been proclaiming a version of the Gospel that is, at its heart, compromised.

I believe this compromised approach to the Gospel has contributed massively to the current lack of vocations and falling numbers of practising Catholics in the UK.

It is time to decide where your heart really lies. If you decide to take a stand against the state, you will lose your powerful friends in the establishment, and become unpopular in secular circles. You may no longer get asked to be the key-note speaker at high profile events and society dinners. You will lose your social status among Britain’s elites. But you will remain faithful to Christ.

If you decide to continue compromising the faith in order to fit in with the modern values of secularism and utilitarianism, you will remain popular with your powerful friends but you will cause further harm to the Church and to society. With respect, I must remind you that your ambition, popularity and your career come second to your vocation as servant of Christ and the Church.

My dear Cardinal, remaining faithful to the Gospel in the UK has cost me dearly. I have lost friends and even family members. I lost my wedding cake business to gay marriage. But I am willing to suffer, because I love God and He is good. I hope you are willing to suffer too.

Tom and Alfie Evans.

Tom and Alfie Evans.

If you truly were not aware of things I have written about Alfie in this letter, then I’m sure you will agree that a statement of clarity, or perhaps even an apology to the family for your previous statement would not go a miss.

But if you did know about all these things, and you were willing to turn a blind eye to parents being stripped of their authority so the state could murder their child, then I beg you Cardinal Nichols, to remember who you are. You are here as God’s servant, to lead the people of the UK in the fight against this great evil that has infiltrated our culture and seeks to rob us of our human dignity. You are not here to compromise the faith by lying in bed with the establishment, or to focus on your own ambitions.

Forgive me for saying so, but if you are unable or unwilling to lead us in this fight, then you need to pass the baton to someone who will, because we are at crisis point.

We are all praying for you.

Yours sincerely and with great respect,

Clare Short.

 

Sources:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/3034057.stm  http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/05/08/doctors-criticise-bishops-report-into-liverpool-care-pathway/   http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/8958/alder-hey-doing-everything-humanly-possible-to-help-alfie-says-archbishop  https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/lawyers-media-on-alfie-theyve-killed-him  http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/8990/nichols-backs-hospital-staff-in-alfie-evans-case  http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/april-27th-2018/alfie-evans-the-courts-and-the-church/   https://whatisupwiththesynod.com/index.php/2018/04/25/the-smiling-executioner-when-death-becomes-a-social-obligation/

Rosary on the coast: regaining our Catholic national identity.

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This has been a highly eventful and emotional week. The world has watched as the British courts and the NHS have been exposed as King Herod, by a weak and helpless infant. Alfie Evans never uttered a word, but he showed as clear as day the unimaginable evil that is currently ruling our once great nation.

In contrast to this unimaginable evil, we had the unimaginable strength and courage of his 21 year old Father, Tom. Never have I seen such a clear and honest example of what it means to be a man – a father. This 21 year old has more masculinity in his little finger than almost the entire Bishops conference of England and Wales – who failed to come to the aid of this persecuted Catholic family in their hour of need.

Shame must fall most heavily on Liverpool diocese who in their official statement on the matter, unbelievably decided to side with the Hospital and the courts who so desperately, it seems, wanted little Alfie dead.

It leaves one with the temptation to despair, but as I sit here on a coach full Catholic pilgrims ranging from ages 8 – 80, I find myself with a new sense of hope.

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We are part of the 30k Catholics who are traveling to over 400 locations all over the UK today to take part in the Rosary on the Coast event. This has been a lay initiative and has had more interest than anyone could have possibly predicted. It is not just happening in Britain, but in Poland, Ireland Australia and I hear rumours that it will also be happening in America soon.

To pray at the border is powerfully nationalistic. Not nationalistic in a nasty xenophobic kind of way, but in a calm and peaceful way that makes one ask the question ‘What does it mean to be a British Catholic today?’

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Our once strong Catholic national identity has for some time now been experiencing a bit of a personality crisis. On the one hand we have ‘fringe’ Catholics like Tom Evans displaying honour, humility and the upmost courage as he defends the right to life for his son. And on the other hand we have the lily livered Catholic Bishops who are terrified to say anything that might be construed as being politically incorrect. So who was most true to their Catholic identity? Surely it was the one who put life, love and hope above towing the establishment line? To quote Pope Francis, 21 year old Tom “made a mess”, and rightly so.

When we look back at our British Catholic heritage we find plenty of examples of Catholics making a mess. Saints Thomas Becket, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, Margaret Clithero, Nicholas Owen, Anne Line, and Margaret Ward, to name a few. These wonderful courageous British men and women quietly rebelled against the establishment and put their faith first. St. Thomas More, whilst on the scaffold at Tower Hill moments before his beheading declared himself to be: “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”  I cannot help thinking that Liverpool diocese fell short of this kind of British courage when they issued their statement on Alfie Evans. Their neutral language and unquestioning faith in the law seemed much more concerned with not upsetting the apple cart than it did with protecting the life of an innocent child sentenced to death by the state.

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Of course we should all try our best to remain within the law, but as Catholics we have no choice but to heed the words of Thomas More and put God first. Just like the Martyrs of the middle ages and post reformation, British Catholics are once again living in a time of persecution. We have to stand up to the law. This week marks 50 years since the Abortion Act came into effect, legalising abortions on the NHS. Catholics recognise abortion as murder – we have to put God first. Also this week we witnessed the horrific power of British law as Alder hey hospital and the courts stripped Alfie’s parents of all their parental rights so they could, against his parents wishes, legally end Alfie’s life. And don’t even get me started on mass immigration, freedom of speech, Gay marriage (which forced me to close down my 9 year old wedding cake business) or Transgender workshops in primary schools. Catholics simply cannot stand by and do nothing as the state proclaims itself as God, with the authority to say that it knows better than parents, and to say when we live or die. We simply cannot remain silent, because as British Catholics, that is not who we are.

St. Henry Morse SJ, on the scaffold at the infamous Tyburn gallows in London – as they placed the noose around his neck, declared to the crowd: “I am come hither to die for my religion… I have a secret which highly concerns His Majesty and Parliament to know. The Kingdom of England will never be truly blessed until it returns to the Catholic faith and its subjects are all united in one belief under the Bishop of Rome… I pray that my death may be some kind of atonement for the sins of this Kingdom.”

Let us not allow our British Catholic martyrs deaths to have been in vain, but instead let us reclaim Britain through our individual commitment to personal holiness which naturally leads us to carry out the new evangelisation in our normal everyday lives.

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Praying on the beach today, united with 30k other Catholics across the British Isles, I felt that we were beginning to regain a sense of spiritual national identity. We have approx. 18 months before England is rededicated as the Dowry of Mary at Walsingham. What does being the Dowry of Mary mean for us as British Catholics? Let us use that time to rediscover who we are and what specific role British Catholics have to play in God’s plan for the world at this time in history.

 

Vatican admits it DID doctor photo of BXVI’s letter, omitting 3rd paragraph.

The doctored photo.

The doctored photo.

The Vatican admitted Thursday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.

The Vatican’s communications office released the photo of the letter on Monday on the eve of Francis’ five-year anniversary. The letter was cited by Monsignor Dario Vigano, chief of communications, to rebut critics of Francis who question his theological and philosophical heft and say he represents a rupture from Benedict’s doctrine-minded papacy.

In the part of the letter that is legible in the photo, Benedict praised a new volume of books on the theology of Francis as evidence of the “foolish prejudice” of his critics. The book project, Benedict wrote, “helps to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, with all the differences in style and temperament.”

The Vatican admitted Thursday that it blurred the two final lines of the first page where Benedict begins to explain that he didn’t actually read the books in question. He wrote that he cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis as requested by Vigano because he has other projects to do.

The Vatican didn’t explain why it blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict’s tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.

The missing content significantly altered the meaning of the quotes the Vatican chose to highlight, which were widely picked up by the media. Those quotes suggested that Benedict had read the volume, agreed with it and given it his full endorsement and assessment. The doctoring of the photo is significant because news media rely on Vatican photographers for images of the pope at events that are closed to independent media.

Vigano read parts of the letter during a press conference launching the volume, including the lines that were blurred out. A journalist who attended the presentation, Sandro Magister, transcribed Vigano’s comments and posted them on his blog. But Vigano didn’t read the whole letter. The Vatican didn’t respond to a request to see the full text.

Most independent news media, including The Associated Press, follow strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos.

“No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph,” the AP standards read.

Source: https://apnews.com/01983501d40d47a4aa7a32b6afb70661

The truth about that Pope Benedict letter (and the last paragraph they “forgot” to publish)

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The now infamous letter and the “small volumes” written on the Theology of Pope Francis.

So if you haven’t heard by now, the entire world is up in arms regarding a letter sent from Pope Emeritus Benedict to Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications. BXVI wrote the letter in thanks for having received an advance copy of the recently released series of books on the Theology of Pope Francis.

On 12 January, Mgr. Viganò wrote to BXVI, asking him to write something on eleven volumes, in which many theologians speak of the theology of Pope Francis. BXVI replied, stating that these books “contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation…” He then seems to gush as he tells us that Francis is a “man of profound philosophical and theological formation… and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Here is Mgr. Viganò telling us (in Italian) all about it:

Sounds like quite an endorsement hey? – for Francis and for the set of books. I mean, who could possibly give a greater endorsement than BXVI? He is one of the greatest theologians we have ever had.

Many people have been extremely upset by this incident. Despairing bloggers have turned on BXVI calling him a liberal in disguise. I have had priests coming to me in tears about the fact that they feel betrayed by his comments. I have to say I was also shocked when I read it, but something didn’t seem right, and as I opened up social media I was reassured by the massive amount of people – even critics of BXVI and non-Catholics who were saying that this must be false.

Now, I am not particularly educated myself, but you do not have to be a theologian to work out that BXVI and Francis are like chalk and cheese when it comes to, well, everything. It seemed very strange that BXVI – a man of almost infinite theological knowledge and insight, would suggest that there is very little difference between the two Popes. There clearly is. Infact this comment was so out of character that half of Twitter was debating whether BXVI was suffering from senile dementia!

The other thing that struck me as being a bit fishy was the way he seemed to openly chastise those who criticise Francis. This is certainly not the BXVI I met almost 12 months ago. He was the most gentle and meek man you could ever meet: full of joy, always smiling, deeply serene. He simply does not use harsh and hurtful words to criticise the faithful. He never has. He is truly gentle – even when correcting people. We can see this from his 2013 letter to the atheist mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

So what on Earth is going on?

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When I met BXVI last year.

Well it seems that Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications, has not been 100% honest with us. You see, he withheld the last paragraph of the letter from the press, which does rather put the entire letter into a different context. Read the entire letter (below) keeping in mind the omitted paragraph (in bold), and you can see that there is much more going on between the lines than we have been led to believe:

From: Benedictus XVI, Pope Emeritus

To: Rev. Lord Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication.

Vatican CITY, 7 February 2018

Most Reverend Monsignor,

I thank you for your kind letter of 12 January and for the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice that Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of special theological or philosophical formation, while I would be only a theorist of theology that would have understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.

The small volumes show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences in style and temperament.

However, I do not feel like writing a short and dense theological page on them because in all my life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also really read. Unfortunately, even for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven volumes in the near future, all the more so because I am already waiting for other commitments.

I am sure he will have understanding and I greet him cordially.

His,

Benedict XVI.

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In short – he hasn’t read them! And he does not intend to! He blames his “other commitments” but I truly wonder how packed a schedule a 90 year old man can have!

In reality Mgr. Viganò has spun it. He chose deliberately not to include the final paragraph which puts the letter in a completely different light. In actual fact, the third paragraph completely empties the first two paragraphs and the attempt to credit the endorsement.

There is no doubt here that Mgr. Viganò has manipulated the situation, because he could not manipulate BXVI himself. Ironically, he has also seemed to completely miss the gentle and subtle way BXVI has chosen to defend himself from the bullying. BXVI masterfully deflected the attack with politeness and calmness – showing that he is still mentally absolutely astute. Mgr. Viganò failed to read between the lines, he failed to notice the mastful and subtle irony and now he has made himself look stupid.  Because of him, the entirety of Pope Francis’ profound philosophical and theological knowledge will now be referred to for the rest of time as the “small volumes” LOL!

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It is interesting to me that they would chose to use BXVI to prop up Francis in this way. If Francis is such a wonderful theologian, then why would he need the endorsement of another Pope? Surely he can stand on his own two feet without needing to lean on BXVI? Or is his popularity really that low now?

I chuckled a little when I imagined for a second that the tables were turned: Could we really imagine BXVI going to Francis for an endorsement of his next book?! I don’t think so!

I think this whole sorry debacle has brought to light the collapse of the communications reform that Francis wanted. Its centralisation is in fact, a reflection of the centralisation of “Bergoglio” in this pontificate. It is all simply an empty failing propaganda machine.

But the piece de resistance comes in the form of a quote by Mgr. Viganò himself in which he describes how the worst kind of fake news stories are not made up out of thin air, but are actually true stories that have been spun:

“Fake news is one of the elements that poisons relationships. These are true-to-life news stories, but the information is in fact unfounded, partial, and not even false. In fake news, the problem is not the non-truthfulness, which is very evident, but the verisimilitude (the appearance of being true or real.)”

– Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretary for Communication (an interview with the Vatican News portal, commenting on the Pope’s message for the 52nd World Communications Day, which will be celebrated next May 13, but a text was released today, as per tradition, for the feast of St. Francis de Sales patron of journalists.)

To end, I would like to answer a question that despairing faithful Catholics ask me all the time: Why doesn’t BXVI come out and say something harsh and critical against Francis?

The answer is simple: That is not his style.

UPDATE!! The Vatican has ADMITTED that they doctored the photo of the letter!! HERE: https://apnews.com/01983501d40d47a4aa7a32b6afb70661

The British authorities are the real threat to the UK.

unThe UK border police have in the past been accused of letting a few bad apples slip through the net in terms of terrorists and radical extremists, but the last few days has seen the British border police performing their job with the upmost competence. The UK faced 2 of the (obviously) most serious threats it has ever seen last week in the form of a smart young man and two rather pretty young ladies in their early 20’s trying to enter our land to perform such horrors as interviewing people for their Youtube channels, and championing free speech.

Well, that it seems was a step too far. The police were waiting at the airport for Brittany Pettibone and her partner Martin Sellner. They separated them, confiscated their passports and took them to detention centres for 3 days. Martin was due to give a speech *on free speech* at speakers corner, Hyde park, and Brittany was due to interview Tommy Robinson. They explain what happened here…

A few days later, their friend Lauren Southern was also detained at the UK border in Calais. Shockingly, she was held under section 7 of the terrorism act, even though the officers clearly stated that they do not suspect her of being a terrorist. She explains here…

Both stories are absolutely shocking.

It is incredible how the UK authorities manage to let in known terrorists (some of whom have gone on to commit terrorist attacks in London), people who are returning from ISIS training camps in Syria and radical extremist preachers, yet they see these 3 young people as so dangerous that they cannot be let into the country.

What is going on? Where are the UK’s priorities? Why let the terrorists and radical extremists in but ban the obviously non-threatening journalists? Who is considered more dangerous: A guy who will wants to drive a truck over innocent bystanders on London bridge, or two female journalists who want to talk about the failure of multiculturalism and the threat that extremism poses to the UK and Europe?

It seems the authorities decided that the female journalists posed more of a threat to the UK. This is literally the antithesis of PC nonsense.

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London Bridge terror attack.

Also this week, I have been reading in horror recently about yet another, and another, and another rape gang of a specific religious and ethnic background that I dare not mention. The rape of underage girls is always abhorrent, but the most shocking thing about this story – and many other like it – is the the UK authorities ie. the Police and local Councils, KNEW ABOUT THE ABUSE FOR DECADES, AND DID NOTHING.

In Telford, just as in Rotherham and literally dozens of other towns in the UK, the British authorities chose to turn a blind eye to the abuse of these girls and the desperate pleading for help from their families. In some situations, and at their wits end because the Police wont do anything, the fathers of these abused girls would go and confront the rapists – only to be arrested by the police who should have been protecting their daughters.

One girl describes how at the age of 12, she would visit the contraception clinic several times a week to obtain the morning after pill, yet no-one ever questioned her why.

So in these rape gang cases we can clearly see that the UK authorities knew exactly what was going on, but decided that the safety and dignity of literally 1000’s of underage girls was less important than the political agenda of multiculturalism. What is it about multiculturalism and political correctness that is so important, that it is worth sacrificing our children for?

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One of the victims, Lucy Lowe, 16, died alongside her mum and sister after her abuser Azhar Ali Mehmood, 26, set fire to their house.

All of these stories have one thing in common: The UK does not have its priorities straight.

Is it really possible that we could be so blind as to what is happening in this country? Are we so afraid of speaking out that we would rather suffer in silence?

When it begins to dawn on you that those in charge do not have your best interests at heart – or to go even further, those in charge who seem to be actively trying to destroy your country, it can be extremely frightening. But I would say do not be afraid!

I think the tables turned when the UK public voted Brexit. For the first time in a generation the British public stood up and were proud to be British again – despite decades of those in charge trying their level best to get us to forget who we are.

This sunday I will be going to speakers corner on Sunday at 3pm to listen to Tommy Robinson give the speech on free speech, that Martin Sellner wanted to give. I would invite you all to join me.

 

Realistic Lent.

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I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine yesterday about what we were giving up for lent. He felt the Lord was really calling him to rise at 3am every night and pray the Divine Office as a monk would do. I remarked that this was probably going to interfere with his job because he would be tired during the day, to  which he replied that it would be a sacrifice he would be happy to make (under the guidance of his spiritual director).

I then asked him if he would also be giving up coffee (he really likes coffee). He told me no – he wouldn’t be giving up coffee because that was too weak a fast. Lent demands harsher fasts. I replied that if it coffee was not a big deal to give up, then he would have no problem doing it, right?

No. He was not going to give up his coffee. 🙂

So I suggested he try only giving up his first cup of coffee in the morning…

No. If he gave up his first cup of coffee in the morning then it would be everyone else that would be doing the pennance because he would be so crabby! 😀 (An opportunity to do more penance and hold your tongue perhaps…? 🙂 )

So I suggested he give up another cup of coffee during the day instead…

“No! I’m not giving up my damn coffee!!”

Ok 🙂 I guess it is too easy a fast, huh? 😉

It was becoming apparent that even suggesting giving up even one cup of coffee was making him mad 🙂 I find most people are the same. I guess we all tend to rely on caffeine more than we rely on God – even if we do not want to admit it to ourselves. Of course it does not have to be coffee, but we all have a ‘thing’ or ‘things’ that we are highly attached to already present in our ordinary daily lives. We are so attached to these things that we would literally do ANYTHING other than face our attachment and offer it to God – even invent harsher and more elaborate penances that will make us feel as if we have made sufficient effort during Lent.

But after Lent has ended, we will still be attached to those tiny ‘things’ already present in our ordinary daily lives that we just can’t live without. We will still be attached, so what progress have we made?

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Going into Lent this year, let’s identify that tiny ‘thing’ that we just can’t live without. That ‘thing’ that we rely on to satisfy us and keep us in our comfort zone on a daily basis more than we rely on God (who never keeps us in our comfort zone). It could be caffeine, social media, TV, food, porn or whatever – even going to bed on time or not being late for things. Only you know what that ‘thing’ is. That small, supposedly insignificant thing already present in your ordinary daily life.

I guess when we really think about it, that tiny, insignificant cup of coffee that you rely on several times a day, would actually be a MASSIVE fast for you. You can gauge it by how annoyed it makes you feel to think about giving it up!  It takes humility to admit we are so weak.

I personally cannot give up coffee entirely. It is too much for me to realistically and sustainably take on for 6 weeks. So I will give up my first cup each day, and that, quite frankly, is about as much as I can do this year. But I will do it obediently and with my whole heart. Lent is not an endurance test. It is not a diet. It is about love and trust. It is about our willingness to detach ourselves from the things we rely on more than God. It is not the size or style of the fast that God is interested in, but the spiritual effort required from us, and our reliance on Him to sustain us through it.

Little things done with great love…

Pope Francis’ correction, and the “end of the world”.

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As I was doing my sons RE homework the other night I remembered that the book of revelation is about the “end of the world” but in fact a huge amount of Catholic scholars believe it to be the end of Jerusalem and the final sacking of the temple – which really was the end of the world as far as the Jews were concerned.
Of course it was better described as the end of an era – which I think best describes what we are seeing now in the Catholic Church.
With the formal correction issued to Pope Francis made public yesterday, I really feel this is the beginning of the end for the Catholic Church as we know it. I think this is a good thing and it is part of Our Lady’s plan. Just as Jerusalem was sacked and that era ended, I believe this time we are in now is the “end of the world” in terms of the Church. I believe we are now entering the time of “Tribulation” that is mentioned in so many Catholic prophecies ect. and that as a Church we will pass through that time and enter the “Era of Peace” that is also commonly spoke about.
And while yesterday didn’t see the physical world end or fire falling from the sky, perhaps in a strange sort of way Sept 23rd really was the day that the beginning of the end started, as far as this era of the church is concerned anyway…

Padre Pio vestments – and I’m blocked by FB, again.

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So I was just about to launch my new Padre Pio vestment range, which I have been working EXTREMELY hard on over the summer, when Facebook – my main way of advertising my business – goes and blocks me again.

I think this is the third time in as many months. This time it was from a comment I made on a post roughly 6 months ago in which I was commenting on how the UK Muslim rape gangs only target underage non-muslim white girls. This wasn’t me speculating – this is a well known fact of the Muslim rape gang cases that we have seen all over the UK over the past few years. But for Facebook, this factual information was deemed just too politically incorrect – so they blocked my ‘Carmelite Clare’ account for 7 days. I then set up a completely new account that also got blocked within the hour.

Normally I wouldn’t be too upset, but this time I really was because Facebook has obviously been trawling back through historical posts trying to find things to ban me for and is now watching me. I can only assume that before long Facebook will try to ban me permanently for speaking the truth and proclaiming the Gospel.

I would really like to keep in contact with the Catholic online community I have met over the last 6 years, so please come and follow me on Twitter, Instagram and sign up for my blog here. Also please bookmark my website www.diclara.co.uk If you want to contact me you can always get me at info@diclara.co.uk

Anyway… Today, 23rd September, is the feast day of Padre Pio, also known as St. Pio of Pietrelcina – patron saint of Confessors – was a Capuchin friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) By Pope Saint John Paul II.

On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks, pain, and bleeding in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon continued for fifty years, until the end of his life. The blood flowing from the stigmata smelled of perfume or flowers, a phenomenon mentioned in stories of the lives of several saints and often referred to as the odour of sanctity. Though Padre Pio said he would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919, news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world. Padre Pio’s wounds were examined by many people, including physicians.

People who had started rebuilding their lives after World War I, began to see in Padre Pio a symbol of hope. Those close to him attest that he began to manifest several spiritual gifts, including the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy, miracles, extraordinary abstinence from both sleep and nourishment (one account states that Padre Agostino recorded one instance in which Padre Pio was able to subsist for at least 20 days at Verafeno on only the Eucharist without any other nourishment), the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues, the gift of conversions, and the fragrance from his wounds. Many people said that when stepping into the confessional with Padre Pio, he was able to tell them their sins before they even said a thing!

A few weeks back, as I was still creating this set and learning more about Padre Pio, I asked him if he would take me on as one on his spiritual children. He reportedly made the promise of waiting on the threshold of heaven until every single one of his spiritual children has entered before him. He also said that when he takes on a new spiritual child, he takes on their entire family as well. This gives me enormous comfort and encouragement.

I hope you too will find out more about Padre Pio. He really is a very special saint. I have really enjoyed creating this vestment set with the big spadey ends on the stole, and the faux pearls. The purple damask material is just wonderful to work with and drapes beautifully. I am bracing myself for a tsunami of orders with this set – so please order soon if you want to get this for your priest for Advent or Christmas.

And now please, help me by visiting my shop at www.diclara.co.uk to see the rest of my vestments, and sharing this post all over Facebook and in all the groups who would be interested in these beautiful vestments, as I am unable to post on Facebook for a week – Thank you, I really appreciate your help.

Clare.

 

Smoking my way through the Ave’s.

Nun Smoking Cigarette --- Image by © Norbert Schaefer/Corbis

Walking into Mass late wearing a mantilla is never a good look – especially if you are the only one in your parish who wears one. Of course the perfect accessory to complete this look is a swath of misbehaving children and a lack of visible husband. I guess I’m the girl who has it all! 😀

The older kid’s tooth fell out in Mass and he went into mini hysterics as he bled everywhere – ’twas the “unbloody sacrifice” no longer. The middle one was having a strop because she “didn’t want to love God” and the youngest had escaped into the pew 2 rows in front. I feel resentful that my children are spoiling my time with Jesus at Mass and I feel like a failure of a Mother.

“Jesus help me!”

That night I listen to my Divine Office through the App on my phone while I clean the kitchen. I feel guilty about combining prayer with housework, but I know that if I sit down quietly to do it I will not make it through to the end because I will be asleep because I am so exhausted.

Tuesday morning I do Morning Office in the car on the school run. The older one is fighting with the middle one and I am swearing under my breath because we have been sitting in traffic for over 10 mins. We are going to be late for school – again. I am a 9/10 on the stress levels. I hear bits of the Office – intermittently interrupted with the 3 x table and complaints that the pencilcase that I bought last week is now either lost or broken or something.

On the way home I stop in my favourite supermarket car park (you heard me correctly – I have a favourite car park) play my Rosary App, and smoke my way through the Agony in the Garden and the Scourging at the Pillar. The guilt of smoking leaves me as I realise that my Blessed Mother is showing me through these two mysteries that Jesus knows what anxiety is like, and He also knows exhaustion.

I get to morning Mass and have a quiet time where I can be with Jesus alone. I take enormous comfort in the fact that He wants me to come to Him, and He wants to dwell within me, to be as close to me as possible while I take on the work He has given me – which most of the time I don’t think I can cope with.

I get home refreshed and begin listening to the 3rd and 4th Sorrowful Mysteries. My husband comes in. He is in a bad mood. We argue loudly with the Rosary playing in the background, and then I remember the Crowning with Thorns and summon up all my strength to finally hold my tongue. My husband goes into the other room and I try to contain myself while I listen to the Carrying of the Cross, because my marriage really feels like a cross right now.

As I pull myself together and begin work, I listen to the 5th Sorrowful Mystery – the Crucifixion. I remember to submit my will to God’s will, knowing that He is in control and there is a plan to all this madness, and His Mother is always there to hold my hand.

You see, I used to think that I needed to be quiet and holy to say my prayers. I couldn’t be more wrong. Jesus and His Mother want to be there with me in the dirt and stress and struggle of my ordinary daily life. What sort of fool would I be to keep them out?

“God is found in the pots and pans.” – St Teresa of Avila