Monday, 31 January 2011

Archbishop Vincent Nichols visits Monument to White Rose Movement

Monument to the members of
the Whilte Rose Movement 

His Excellency, Monsignor Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has this weekend attended the CCEE European Congress on University Pastoral Care, presiding over the CCEE Committee Catechesis-School-University, which took place in Munich. 

During the weekend, delegates watched the film Sophie Scholl - the Final Days.  They also visited the Monument to the members of the White Rose Movement.   

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl & Christoph Probst
were executed by guillotine on 22nd February 1943

Fr Dermot Fenlon, who has an interest in Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Movement, has spoken of the link between the movement and Cardinal John Henry Newman.  In a speech given at the international symposium on Newman in Milan, March 2009, Fr Fenlon explained that Sophie, a Lutheran, was introduced to the works of Newman by a scholar called Theodor Haecker, who had written to the Birmingham Oratory in 1920 asking for copies of Newman's work, which he wanted to translate into German.

Monument in front of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where
Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christophe Probst distributed resistence leaflets.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Homelessness Sunday 2011

Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley,
discussing Homelessness Sunday at the Housing
Justice Conference, held in Birmingham in June 2010

Today is Homelessness Sunday, when we remember and pray for all those affected by homelessness.  We particularly remember Fr. Dermot Fenlon.

Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, speaking at the Housing Justice Conference in June 2010, tells us that "the experience of being homeless, uprooted from what is familiar, or lacking in lasting security can undermine inner peace".  He also says that "the parable [of the Good Samaritan] reminds us how easy it is for good people to walk by on the other side of the road, too scared to get involved, too preoccupied to respond, or simply ignorant about the need."

A priest of his own diocese has today been homeless for 262 days.

The Birmingham Oratory's own newsletter today makes no reference to Homelessness Sunday.

Friday, 28 January 2011

What has Constantinople to do with Birmingham

On 21 December 2007, Anthony Blair apparently converted to the Catholic Faith. “Apparently”, because he has publicly dissented from the Magisterium since then, for example on 8 April 2009, when he told the Pope to rethink the Church’s teaching on sodomy. On 15 September 2010 L’Osservatore Romano carried an article by Blair in which he sought to co-opt Newman’s teaching on conscience and the sensus fidelium to the cause of dissent. As John Smeaton observed at the time, (1) the publication of the article was shortly preceded by the announcement of the Birmingham Three’s exclaustration, (2) Father Dermot is “one of the world’s leading expert defenders of Newman’s legacy”, and (3) “since the removal of … the Birmingham Three the Newman Cause blog has had no substantial articles”. It has now disappeared altogether. While the Birmingham Three were at the Oratory together, several articles critical of Tony and Cherie Blair and directly related to the authentic interpretation of Newman appeared on the Newman Cause blog. For example:

“Since becoming a Catholic, Mr Blair has refused every invitation to disown and repent of [his anti-life/anti-family political record]… [S]ome commentators, including Catholics, have sought to justify it by saying that Mr Blair’s silence is because his support for abortion, embryo experimentation, civil partnerships and gay adoption has always been for him, and remains now, a matter of conscience. Now this is the danger in The Tablet’s association of Newman and conscience with the case of Tony Blair. If as a Catholic Mr Blair thinks that his conscience directs him to support such positions, to invoke Newman in defence of his stance would be a travesty. For Newman, no Catholic can be in good conscience in supporting the positions Mr Blair espoused. The impossibility of conscience, enlightened by Faith, justifying adherence to evil is one of the most important of Newman’s lessons for our times.” (October 2009: h/t John Smeaton)

Or this, published on 27 November 2009, concerning Deacon Jack Sullivan’s request that the Times remove from its website an article about a visit to Cherie Blair, which was sprung on him by some PR guy in the pay of a bishop:

“Unfortunately, Jack had not been made aware of Mrs Blair’s public opposition to the teaching of the Church. He undertook the visit in good faith, believing Mrs Blair to be simply a prominent Catholic. … The conjunction of Mrs Blair’s ‘conscientious’ dissent from the teaching of the Church with Jack Sullivan’s apparent endorsement of her could do harm to Newman’s reputation, and that is our reason for posting this clarification. Newman is indeed the great teacher of the rights and duties of conscience. It is of the greatest importance that his teaching is not used to make him the patron of Catholics, like Cherie Blair and others, who in the name of conscience practise dissent from the Church’s teaching. The decision to arrange Jack’s visit to Mrs Blair, and then to publicise it under Jack’s name, has not contributed to upholding a true interpretation either of Newman, or of Cherie Blair.”

If one was to think that the exile of the Birmingham Three, and Father Dermot in particular, was a manoeuvre in a wider campaign to appropriate the thought of Newman to the cause of liberal dissent by removing prominent critics of those who hold court at the heart of Relativism’s Dictatorship, then it is the humble opinion of this commentator that one would not be far off the mark.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Birmingham Archivium and Library

Newman and his Nest: The Home of the Oratorian

Catholic and Loving It blog - James Preece - 18.1.2011
Home is a very important place to an Oratorian, as Blessed Newman wrote...

"The Congregation is to be the home of the Oratorian. The Italians, I believe, have no word for home - nor is it an idea which readily enters the mind of a foreigner, at least not so readily as into the mind of an Englishman. It is remarkable then that the Oratorian Fathers should have gone out of their way to express the idea by the metaphorical word nido or nest, which is used by them almost technically."

1848 Address (Newman the Oratorian by Placid Murray - Page 94)

Newman spoke a great deal about his home in the Oratory...

"...To come home again! in that word 'home' how much is included. The home life - the idea of home - is consecrated to us by our patron and founder, St Philip, for he made the idea of home the very essence of his religion and institute. We even have a great example in our Lord Himself; though in his public ministry he had not where to lay His head, yet we know that for the first thirty years of His life he had a home, and He therefore consecrated, in a special way, the life of home. And as, indeed, Almighty God has been pleased to continue the world, not, as angels, by a seperate single creation of each, but by means of the family, so it was fitting that the Congregation of St Philip should be the ideal, the realization of the family in it's perfection, and a pattern to every family in every town, and throughout the whole of Christendom. Therefore, I do feel pleasure to come home again... I feel I may rejoice in coming home again - as if it were to my long home - to that home which extends to heaven, 'the home of our eternity'..."
1879 Address (Newman the Oratorian by Placid Murray - Page 118)
Today marks 250 days since Fr Dermot Fenlon was ordered from his home at the Oratory. The Oratory spokesman assured me live on the radio that Fr Fenlon would be home "soon" but Fr Fenlon was not home soon. Fr Fenlon is still not home.

Fr Fenlon is "entirely guiltless of any wrongdoing whatsoever". It's official.

So can he come home now?