The Death of Diplomacy

In the northern hemisphere people may not be much aware, if at all, of the storm brewing in our cappuccino cups in Australia. Since I am in Australia at the moment it is difficult to escape it. What follows is written on the far south coast of New South Wales, in a small town.

President Trump rang the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull last Sunday. The scheduled hour-long call was, apparently, abruptly terminated by Trump, who, having harangued Mr Turnbull, then hung up on him at the 25-minute mark. Mr Trump, employing his gift for the most superlative of superlatives (no one has superlatives like him, he has the best superlatives), called it the worst call he has made so far to a world leader. Continue reading “The Death of Diplomacy”

Discerning the Shades of Grey

The older I get the harder it is to make the long flight from London to Sydney in one trip. It is not that the planes are not getting better and the flights a little quicker. They are. Rather, the long-haul jet-set life is for the younger or at least the more acclimated.

One request fulfilled in my coming is to bring some relief to my family from the extraordinary heatwave of the past couple of weeks in Sydney. It was with pleasure that I saw the plane emerge to land from grey cloud, and to find on the ground a far more temperate temperature. Grey is not always bad; in some contexts it can be a relief. Continue reading “Discerning the Shades of Grey”

Discerning the really real: dubia, popes and dissent

The flu has hit me, and sitting at a desk for more than 10 or so minutes has been nigh impossible. That has been all the more galling seeing some of the latest developments in Dubiagate. Even prelates for whom I had conserved some respect are managing the amazing feat of supporting the insupportable.

In fact, one wonders if irony is finally dead. Thus, from America magazine,

Archbishop Mark Coleridge thinks some of his fellow prelates are afraid of confronting reality.

Now one might have assumed he was going to state the obvious: that those prelates and curial apparatchiks chiding i quattro cardinali for publishing their five dubia regarding the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia in the wake of their being ignored by Pope Francis are very much out of order, and refusing to face the reality that pragmatic perversion of general pastoral policy cannot supplant the teaching of Christ. Continue reading “Discerning the really real: dubia, popes and dissent”

Merton the Rigid?

On Facebook this evening I posted a quotation, asking people to guess its author without recourse to Google. There were some interesting guesses, but one canny lady got to it by a clever process of questioning and reasoning.

The author was none other than Fr Thomas Merton OCSO (or O.C.R. as it was), from his 1950 pamphlet “What is Contemplation?” as published by Burns & Oates as title 7 in their Paternoster Series. This is early Cistercian Merton, grappling intellectually and manfully with spiritual things. Reading this particular little section, I was stopped in my tracks on page 13: Continue reading “Merton the Rigid?”

Ecclesiastical hysterics

The interventions, two of them now, of Fr Pio Pinto against The Four Cardinals i Quattro Cardinali have probably been a little exaggerated in their reporting. However reading excerpts of his answers is enough to realise that Fr Pinto was verging on the hysterical in his support-of-the-pope-by-attacking-the-cardinals. In a second interview he has stepped back from any suggestion that the pope could strip the cardinals of their scarlet. He extols the pope’s mercifulness, twists the two synods on the family into conclusion they did not make, and makes a nasty ad hominem attack against Cardinal Meisner. The tone of Fr Pinto stands in stark contrast to the measured and respectful tone of the cardinals’ letter. Fr Pinto is getting on and some may be wondering if he is hoping for a little sacred purple to cushion his retirement. Chi sa? Continue reading “Ecclesiastical hysterics”

Red Wednesday: the Four Cardinals

The Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, has designated today as Red Wednesday. Mancunians know this tag for another reason, but it is being coopted and elevated by ACN to signify the day on which we take time for special remembrance who are persecuted for their faith. We are encouraged to donate if we can, or to pray and ideally to attend Mass, and as a sign to the world, to wear something red today.

red-socks
As much red as this monk can reasonably manage today

Given the headlines in the Catholic press and blogosphere the last week or two, it is hard not to think of certain red-clad cardinals. The letter of i quattro cardinali—Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner—seeking papal clarification of five dubia, doubts, that have arisen as a result of the conflicted and confusing reception of the Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation (following last year’s Synod on the Family), Amoris Laetitia (“the Joy of Love”, not “The Joys of Love” as The Week put it, which makes it sound like an instruction on sexual technique. Of course, the choice of amor(-is) does refer to the fact that it is sexual love being discussed, not the more supernatural caritas). Continue reading “Red Wednesday: the Four Cardinals”

The Two-Edged Sword of Collegiality

There is a quiet media frenzy afoot about the snap decision of Pope Francis not to meet with his cardinals before this weekend’s consistory in Rome. The decision is being attributed to the letter to the pope of i Quattro Cardinali seeking definitive clarification of several points of confusion arising from the papal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, that resulted from the Synod on the Family, and which he seems steadfastly to be refusing to answer.

Pope Francis’ decision is not in itself earth-shattering. Benedict XVI opted out of such a meeting once, and he would hardly have been the first to do so. It may be for other reasons entirely. After all, he is not meeting only the four cardinals involved, but the whole college of cardinals. It would seem quite an overreaction to snub the 97% of cardinals on account of the 3%. Continue reading “The Two-Edged Sword of Collegiality”

By the Cross her vigil keeping

Today the blog has gone quietly into overdrive (for this little blog I mean – it is all relative). My thanks to you all for taking the time to read here. People from 130 countries have visited today, which is all rather extraordinary to a little Aussie in his inadequately-austere cell in a venerable but fading monastery on the Berkshire Downs.

Recent events have shown how little the dynamics in the Church have changed this past 3 years, despite all the prospects of reform (however one might conceive it). The Body of Christ is Holy, but its individual human cells are not so perfect, still saints-in-progress—hopefully! (save for those happy few patent saints who dwell among us). Continue reading “By the Cross her vigil keeping”

Amoris Laetitia: All things to all?

Most of us have probably read a great deal of commentary on Amoris Laetitia (AL). Some commentaries are laudatory, some condemnatory, some nod to its weaknesses but strive hard to extol its virtues, some ignore its virtues and seek to expose an alleged wolf in sheep’s clothing. When the dust settles what will we find?

Continue reading “Amoris Laetitia: All things to all?”