The Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints
I hope there's room for me.

Welcome all - especially Mancunians.

Hello anybody lost in the blogosphere. Welcome to the ruminations of a politically left of centre, Man United supporting, blues loving, history-fixated, Catholic wanderer. Be warned, I am a bit of a curmudgeon.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Love your enemy - even Hugo Chavez.

There has been some online comment about the Mass offered in Havana's Cathedral for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Apparently, it was offered by the Papal Nuncio at a Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Ortega of Cuba and with leading Cuban and Venezuelan representatives in the congregation.
For those who don't know, Snr Chavez has been undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba and, whilst he claims to be on the road to recovery, things are obviously not wonderful for him.
There have been some pretty malicious comments made about the Church for offering the Mass and about atheists wanting the Mass said (I suppose Snr Chavez's personal insistence that he is a Christian doesn't get any credence).
Unlike quite a few of my friends, I actually have no time at all for Hugo Chavez; I believe him to be the worst kind of populist and that he is determined to destroy the feeble democracy that exists in Venezuela by rigging the elections in favour of himself and his supporters in the legislature. Also, his lauding of the appalling Mr Ahmadinejad of Iran does not encourage one to warm to him.
Also, unlike a lot of my friends, I am not a great fan of former president Fidal Castro either, pointing out to them the oppression he has visited upon those who oppose him. I do hope that true freedom will be granted in Cuba, but I remain totally unconvinced.
However, why does that mean a Mass cannot be offered for the recovery of Snr Chavez? Many of the negative comments that have been made are from self-identifying Christians so where do they stand on the instructions of Christ when, in His great teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, He tells us:

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy", but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
(Matt.5:43-45) RSV

Or what of the entreaty of St Paul, in his beautiful teaching about love being genuine in his Letter to the Romans:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
(Romans.12:14) RSV

I understand the hurt people feel at what Hugo Chavez has done but, in the words of an old lady who asked for a Mass to be said for the soul of Henry VIII, "If anybody needs our prayers, he does."

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dicey, I think not.

Gosh, I made the mistake of commenting on a blogpost concerning the Travellers of Dale Farm and now I wish I hadn't. I have been called a coward for using my blogname, dicey for the blog title I use and also of hiding behind my job. I have also been publicly attacked on a post.
Most bizarrely, I have been accused of using a personal email account which I haven't...the blog response went straight on the blog which, I assume, was then forwarded to the blogger's email.
So - for the record: I direct you to my first ever post to explain why I am using the blog title CatholicLeft.
I don't mind sharing my name privately if asked but, given the job I do I have been advised not to use it publicly (apparently, that makes me a coward - or, in the post in question,  a COWARD).
I have chosen not to share my name with the gentleman in question due to the unpleasantness of the exchanges between us. Having apologised for any distress, I will not be bothering to read his blog again. A loss not keenly felt by either of us, I am sure.

Coming to a Church near you: the not so subtle threats against religious freedom.

In the midst of all the controversy and debate concerning the coalition government's intention (with the support of the Labour Party leader) to introduce a new law on marriage, we seem to have become lost in a mess of discussion on 'equality' and 'diversity' as if diversity somehow means we all must have the same (which suggests the opposite of diversity to me).
When Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, charged that the Church doesn't "own" marriage she was quite correct, the rituals of the Church came in response to the facts that exist and which had/have always been. The government now claims it has the right to change those facts which suggests that the legislators believe that they do own marriage. This is historically incorrect as the legislation on marriage (which, it is worth mentioning, was based on Canon Law) was introduced to reflect what marriage is; it didn't invent it.
Now, whether you believe that marriage can be changed or not, we can agree that the way in which much of the debate is taking place is rather worrying. Whilst there is clumsy language and scare-mongering on both sides of this debate, it is from the 'liberal' side of politics that some of the more alarming responses appear to be coming. The deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, describes opposition to gay marriage as if it is a piece with homophobia - a quite scandalous and unacceptable claim which could be described as a sort of 'newspeak', forcing change by the subtlety of a threat that, somehow, all those who disagree with the prevailing wisdom of the day are thuggish and unreasonable.
Actually, it seems to be the opposite as far as this particular author is concerned, because threats of protests and disruption (alongside the real threat of legal sanction in the future) are coming from some of those who are arguing in favour of same-sex marriage.
Take the case at the weekend where an activist decided to disrupt a Mass where the Letter on Marriage from the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark was about to be read. The protester filming the priest made it clear that he would be posting the reading of the Pastoral Letter on Youtube. To avoid disruption, the Priest decided not to read the letter and, after a few more moments of the protester trying to encourage people to walk out of the Church with him (none did, I believe), the protester left. You can watch it yourself here:
Now, think this through - a priest is about to read a letter expressing the traditional view on marriage of the Catholic Church and encouraging the faithful to uphold it in the present discussion and he is, by the direct action of the protester, prevented from doing so. Is this religious freedom?
It is made clear that the encounter will be put on Youtube - this stinks of the activities of the secret police who film the Catholic and Anglican priests in Zimbabwe in case they preach against the official line. Is this  freedom of speech?
The priest, who has not given his permission to be filmed, is now on Youtube so he could be open to verbal and physical threat. You only have to look at some of the comments to see the abuse against this blameless priest. Is this freedom from threat to personal safety?
Bear in mind that nobody has been given a chance to express an opinion through the ballot box on an issue fundamental to our society, yet it is being pushed in the hope of enactment before the next General Election, not least by the liberal-minded Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron.
This is all food for thought and really unpleasant.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Oh, what a perfect day...

In the midst of all the controversies in the world of politics and religion, it might be as well to concentrate on the joys of sport. So, England beat France 24 - 22 in Paris, GB win a pile of medals at athletics and, oh joy of joys, whilst Manchester United beat West Brom 2-0, the glorious Swansea gave Manchester City a lesson in football respect at Liberty Stadium.
Top of table with 10 games to go. Sweet joy!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

I see that the Catholic Herald is reporting that the Traditional Anglican Communion has rejected Rome's offer to join the Ordinariates for former Anglican ( ). The problem is that this is only true as far as it goes. As it happens, the majority of the TAC in Canada, a large section of the TAC in the USA, a large group in Australia and parts of the TAC here in the UK have already begun preparing to join the Ordinariates in their areas (the Ordinariate of the Southern Cross for Australia is in the pipeline).
The meeting reported as taking place in South Africa met without a number of bishops (particularly those known to be standing by their original decision to join with Rome) and some members of the TAC question its validity. Archbishop Prakash of the Indian section of the TAC has been unanimously elected acting Primate after the unanimous vote (of those attending and with the right to vote - interesting to see how that was decided) to remove Archbishop Hepworth of Australia as Primate. Archbishop Hepworth, who wasn't in South Africa, was resigning soon anyway.
The rest of the TAC not at the South African meeting, but not yet on the way to Rome (or maybe not joining but unhappy with the behaviour of those who met in South Africa) are planning to meet soon according to a statement by Archbishop Hepworth.
What has most depressed me about this whole situation has been the utter predictability of the whole business and the often unkind ways in which fellow Christians have treated each other. I know I will be attacked for this but let me make my opinion clear: personal animus has been allowed to replace civility and the rush to expel reminds me of my early days in politics when some would lay claim to being 'true' socialists and the rest were traitors. Oh, don't get me wrong, there will be lots of remarks about 'more in sorrow than anger' and some will mean it.
So, best of luck to the Traditional Anglican Communion (Prakash), Traditional Anglican Communion (Hepworth) and the warmest of welcomes to those who are joining in union with Rome through the Ordinariates.