OF OUR FATHERS 2000
"Thus says the Lord:
How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the
This divine rebuke was delivered by the prophet Jeremiah to the hierarchy of the house of Judah several thousand years ago. Yet how contemporary it sounds. In fact, if we alter but one word in this passage, tying it in to the theme of this conference, we surely have here the Lord's judgement of His smug and increasingly faithless priestly hierarchies in Britain and Ireland today. As He relives the agony of His Passion in surveying the dissolute and dying local Churches in these parts, I imagine He would have his prophet deliver to His priestly Elect an almost identical message, declaring unto them:
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us'?… because from prophet to priest every one deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly saying, 'Unity, unity,' when there is NO unity!"
Reverend Fathers and Sisters, ladies and gentlemen, I am not here to give a find sounding theological treatise on truth and unity. Nor have I accepted the kind invitation to address you here today to make a feel-good speech that warms your hearts and sends you all home feeling…. comfortable. Why should we feel comfortable and self-satisfied with our puny efforts when all about us is pride and ignorance; betrayal and anarchy, dissolution and decay; when Christ is suffering in his Mystical Body as never before because our Faith is neither hot nor cold but so lukewarm. No, instead, like Fr Conlon, Daphne and Pat, I am going to do something completely different. I'm going to tear up the textbook on public speaking. I'm going to tell you the truth! Because therein lies the way to unity. I'm going to say the hard things - about the Shepherds, about the clergy and about ourselves! I'm going to deliver a blunt, Jeremiah-like address because, as God's own spokesmen, prophets like Jeremiah revealed to us that, just as there is a time for subtlety and gentleness and massaging egos, there comes a time when direct, forceful, personal plain-speaking is all that is left.
Now, since the time we have is so very short and I have already had to ruthlessly edit out so much of what I wanted to say, I would ask that if you feel the urge to clap at any stage, please resist that urge - save your energy and thereby win me a few precious extra minutes. Because it is not applause I'm after but a re-think about the attitude and contribution of faithful Catholics for the fight for what is left of the Faith in these Isles.
This is the plan of attack. We'll first undertake a cooks tour of ecclesiastical reality today; of bishops and clergy as agents of dis-unity. We'll then very briefly consider two of the chief Modernist weapons employed to undermine Catholic truth and unity. And finally, consider how the self-defeating mentality of many faithful Catholics has also helped reduce Catholicism in the United Kingdom to the same farcical level as slapstick Anglicanism. Above all, this talk is directed to correcting that suicidal tendency in our own ranks.
SHEPHERDS OF DISUNITY
What are we to say about a bishop like Ambrose Griffiths who, last year, not long after John Paul's special call to honour the Sabbath, cancels the Sunday Mass obligation of his flock - on the First Sunday of Advent - so that a parish can attend an ecumenical service in a Protestant Church.
What of Archbishop Bowen's recent refusal to ban public dissidents from holding their dissenting conference on Church property on the grounds that it might be "imprudent" and "counter-productive" - even while he acknowledged its subversive nature and the risk of spiritual damage to his flock.
And what are we to make of Bishop Vincent Malone's recent lauding of dissent from the magisterium, which he called "critical loyalty" [echoing Basil Hume's description of dissent as "loyal opposition"] - in complete disregard for the Holy Father's constant exhortations that such dissent is incompatible with the Catholic faith.
Consider the almost surreal situation of Portsmouth's Bishop Hollis, an enthusiastic supporter of the bitterly anti-Catholic feminist and teacher of paganism and witchcraft Mary Gray, who he foisted on the hapless students of his diocese. If his Portsmouth bureaucracy is not busy training: "lay people to preside at the Eucharist", they are flying in the likes of Australian Kevin Treston, a shameless public purveyor of heresy, to address diocesan religious educators with the Bishop's blessing. Treston's mentality can be summed up in one simple phrase in his RE text - a phrase which cuts to the heart of the Modernist error which this conference has sought to counter: "Religious truth," he writes, "is elusive." And so it follows, as the tireless Daphne McLeod has documented in Christian Order, that Treston calls into question or denies virtually every tenet of the Catholic Faith. Just the sort of person you'd want to be instructing the people who'll be teaching your children the Faith.
Unity, in Truth?
Let us ponder the extraordinary fact that the egregious Bishop Konstant of Leeds was unable to give a simple affirmation of Catholic faith when confronted by a series of fundamental questions posed by the BBC's Today programme last year, which included: "Do you believe in the literal fact of the Resurrection of Christ?" "Do you believe there will be a second coming of Christ?" "Do you believe Adam and Eve literally existed?" "Is there a purgatory?" "Are all of the Ten Commandments applicable today?" About such basics of the Catholic faith, the Bishop of Leeds replied: "None of the questions is capable of a one-word answer, which means that, for most people, any answer given.. is not merely inadequate, but simply untrue." This is the man who for some years oversighted Catholic education in this country; the man responsible for the development of a sex-ed programme for Catholic children so foul, that the previous Archbishop of Birmingham condemned it outright and banned it from his archdiocese. Bishop Konstant, of course, is also the prelate who recently refused to consecrate a refurbished church until the parish moved the tabernacle - the earthly dwelling place of our Lord and King - from the centre of the sanctuary to a side altar, at a cost to the distressed parish priest and his parishioners of a mere, extra £60,000!
Well might we ask, as the late Father Paul Crane often did about David Konstant: "How did that man ever become a bishop?" But then one surely has to ask the same question about Archbishop Vincent Nichols. The darling of the dissident feminists on the executive of the National Board of So-Called Catholic Women - which tells us everything we need to know about him - Archbishop Nichols is renowned for welcoming Humanae Vitae dissenter Charles Curran - the doyen of postconciliar Judases - to Upholland Northern Institute while Rector, there to conduct consecutive Summer Schools. And yet Paul VI stated in Humanae Vitae that in order to preserve the unity of the Christian people it is necessary that all should speak the same language as the Magisterium of the Church. Therefore, as regards the foundational - pivotal - matter of contraception he declared that the first task of priests "is to expound the Church's teaching on marriage without ambiguity." I guess, like Archbishop Nichols, Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor, too, has just never got around to reading the encyclical! Since the new Archbishop of Westminster, picking up where his Humanae Vitae dissenting predecessor left off, has informed the daily papers that in respect of contraception people should "make up their own minds."
Is it any wonder that Father Crane, whose ill-health kept him from attending the first Faith of Our Fathers, wanted so very dearly to come here and address you all, to stand on this stage as he often told me he wanted to, and simply say about the bishops: "Who do they think they are!" The plain-speaking Cardinal Silvio Oddi said the same thing in another way during an interview with an American journalist in 1983: "some bishops have come to believe their own infallibility," he said. "They are wrong, and far from the teaching of God. They are condemned. They are condemned most of all before the Church." And I should add that following this statement, as recorded in my book Death of A Catholic Parish, the journalist asked His Eminence if the arguments of the likes of Augustine, Aquinas and Cardinal Newman were correct, that in the words of Aquinas - "if the Faith be in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public," the Pope's close friend and colleague answered: "Absolutely. Without question."
And if any further proof be required that the Faith is "in imminent peril", we need only consider that since it is the bishop who forms the clergy, such prelates as we've just glimpsed have inevitably spawned a generation of belligerently disobedient and dissenting clergy dividing and dissolving entire parishes up and down the country. Clerics who, make no mistake, have developed a real hatred of Catholic truth, like the enraged Portsmouth priest who derided Catholics who politely but firmly defended the Faith against error during questions after a talk by a renowned heretic, calling these orthodox laity "the thought police", demanding their removal from the building and shouting across the room at them: "They are the dying embers of a Church I want nothing to do with!". Or like a parish priest in Essex who recently - with a nod and wink from his bishop - broke every rule in the Catholic book by inviting a female Anglican vicar to preach the sermon at his 6pm Mass on the 22nd of January this year and who in response to a question from a protesting parishioner, a Christian Order reader, as to whether he would obey a direction from the Vatican to cancel the lady vicars visit, replied defiantly: "No, that wouldn't make any difference". And the cost to that parish in souls of such premeditated priestly disobedience is representative of the Catholic melt-down we now face: "Until relatively recently," our subscriber explained in a letter to the Vatican alerting them to the situation, "our parish had a congregation of about 3,000. That number is now 1,000. About 2,000 have abandoned the Faith."
WEAPONS OF DISUNITY
"Dialogue" as presently understood, of course, means not holding strongly to anything in case you offend people who don't hold the same position. And it rests on the new, secular super-virtue embraced by our Shepherds - "tolerance" (perhaps epitomised in Bishop Malone defining dissent as "critical loyalty"). Fr. Felix Salvany has observed that "in time of schism and error, to cloud and distort the proper sense of words is a fruitful artifice of Satan." And just as the meaning of "dialogue" has been distorted to serve the ends of Modernism so too "tolerance". It used to mean simply the act of enduring - tolerating - some evil or suffering which could not be helped. It now means the opposite of that - tolerance now means avoiding conflict and getting along with everyone, no matter what they hold. Whereas Cardinal Ratzinger stated in May 1998 that: "One cannot entertain a notion of communion in which the chief pastoral value is that of avoiding conflicts;" Whereas Belloc understood that "Truth comes by conflict"; today, "consensus comes from tolerance" and the truth be damned. Cannabilism? Call it an eating disorder if you must, but for heaven's sake do not show your intolerance by saying so in public. Catholicism? Call it "A" path to truth if you must but for goodness sake don't go upsetting people and embarrassing the bishop by talking about the one, true Church - by stating that God wants everybody to be a Catholic and that non-Catholic Christians in good faith already belong to the Church and that their wish for unity can only be fulfilled by returning to their true fold.
And so false tolerance has led to false ecumenism - entailing interminable discussion which has led to nothing but the capitulation of the Catholic side. We need only consider the then Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's capitulation in the ARCIC discussions with the Anglicans. It is hardly reassuring to recall that after his years of dialogue with the Protestants, what the present incumbent of Westminster saw, as a "substantial agreement on essential points of doctrine", the watchdog of Catholic orthodoxy in Rome saw as compromising basic tenets of the Faith - like the Mass as sacrifice; the Real Presence, the nature of the priesthood, primacy and jurisdiction of the Pope, Infallibility and indefectibility, authority of General Councils and on and on. This is how Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation summarised its lengthy assessment of the ecclesiastical verbiage that filled the Final Report tabled by ARCIC after years of dialogue: "Certain formulations in the Report are not explicit enough to ensure that they exclude interpretations not in harmony with the Catholic faith..... certain affirmations are inexact and not acceptable as Catholic doctrine."
Truth? Unity? Through dialogue?
Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor's embrace of counterfeit dialogue was only surpassed by his predecessor Cardinal Hume's embrace of the nefarious Common Ground Initiative which seeks the impossible reconciliation of Modernist error and Catholic truth. As someone summarised in the American journal Homiletic and Pastoral Review this so-called initiative supports, however insidiously, contraception and abortion, pushes for married and female priests, fights for homosexual "rights" and same-sex sacramental marriage, argues for the dissolution of the indissolubility of marriage, opposes the magisterium at every turn, sometimes publicly and vociferously, sometimes secretly and furtively. This is the destructive agenda underlying the Common Ground Initiative - the Modernist dialoguers 'Big Idea' for healing the divisions they themselves have sown within the Church; the Initiative that George Cardinal Basil Hume was still promoting on his deathbed.
So I just want to observe that this sort of endless, postconciliar, via media "dialogue," beloved of the episcopate and its clerocracy, bureaucracy and media lackeys in Britain, is not Catholic. After disciplining and excommunicating dissenters in his diocese a few years ago, the admirable Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska summed it up when he said: "Whoever heard of the fire-brigade dialoguing with the fire!" As the renowned Italian philosopher Romano Amerio states in Iota Unum, his masterful tome on the roots of the postconciliar crisis: "There is a dialogue that converts, and a dialogue that perverts - by which one party is detached from truth led into error." It is this latter, the dialogue of perversion, which holds sway throughout Britain and Ireland today.
Now perhaps you're thinking, at this point, this is all good and well but we live this horror and scandal daily; we know this……. Do we? If we know this; if we are really aware of all this; why do we resist tailoring our prayer life and our thoughts and our actions accordingly. If we consider ourselves so aware and savvy about this travesty of truth and unity, then why, as the Jesuit, Father James Schall states, are Catholics so wimpy? The Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington and a renowned champion of orthodoxy, Fr Schall was reflecting on the present Holy Father's continual references to the necessity of Catholics to be martyrs for the Faith - the frequency of which references are unprecedented in the history of the papacy - and he was setting this papal preoccupation with martyrdom against the reflections of the renowned philosopher Joseph Pieper about Catholics who just want to be left alone to live their life in quiet and virtue: "It is a liberal illusion," wrote Pieper, "to assume that you can consistently act justly without ever incurring risks: risks for your immediate well-being, the tranquillity of your daily routine, your possessions, your good name, your honour - in extreme instances… liberty, health, and life itself." And having pondered these points, Fr Schall asks these questions, which seem to me especially pertinent to the faithful Catholic remnant in contemporary Britain: "Have we been living this 'liberal illusion' for so long that we no longer notice that we are not acting justly? That we are not taking risks because we do not in fact believe?"
Like the old analogy about the frog which will jump out of a pot of hot water but when placed in a pot of cold water will sit there happily as the water temperature is raised imperceptibly one degree each hour until he boils to death without knowing it, so the polluted air of "dialogue" and "tolerance" within and without the Church which we passively inhale, has, indeed, quietly, relentlessly, imperceptibly choked a good deal of supernatural life out of ostensibly faithful Catholics. This has happened throughout the Catholic West, but it has taken a particular toll on the English outpost of the Church Militant which has been softened up, dumbed-down and disarmed like no other. Why? Because the normally admirable patience, diffidence and decency of the English character has led, as Fr Crane put it some years ago, to "the complacent ignorance of so many English Catholics who live in a world full of 'decent chaps'"; and decent chaps would never intend the Church any harm.
So, although things seem less volatile on the surface here, Catholics in this country are in even deeper trouble than their less acquiescent English-speaking cousins overseas, because there exists here a crushing preponderance of orthodox laity and clergy living this liberal illusion that we can defend Christ and Catholic truth without conflict and the unpleasantness of raised voices and pointed fingers. Even after thirty years of scandal and decay involving the loss of over a million practising Catholics, which continues unabated at the rate of somewhere between 600-1,000 souls per week, not to mention the loss of conversions, these orthodox who hide their faint-hearts behind a mask of prudence and civility and piety would still rather tut-tut and decry those prepared to call a spade a spade; those willing to label disgraceful prelates a disgrace! In sum, far too many in our ranks, including those who consider themselves pillars of the orthodox fight, are more worried about upsetting people than they are about upsetting God.
I was interested this morning to hear Daphne refer to such types - these false optimists - as Pollyanna Catholics. Well, within the broad range of Pollyanna orthodox in England the worst of all are what I call the Jolly Hockey Sticks - the Establishment Catholics who have undermined the orthodox fight for far too long. The Jolley Hockey Sticks are the sort of people who confuse the transience of worldly optimism and stiff upper lip stoicism with Christian hope rooted in Christ crucified; to whom Englishness, it seems, is more important than the Faith and souls, and who would be appalled that the likes of Pat McKeever and myself have been let loose to speak plainly at a conference like this. In fact, it will interest you to know that some of their number instituted a whispering campaign to keep people away from this conference for that very reason. They, and their supporters, prefer to avert their eyes from stark reality in order to preserve, as Father Crane said, their illusory, sanitised English world full "decent chaps" who would never conspire against the Church.
Well the problem with closing your eyes to reality is that when you open them again the reality remains - and more frightful than ever; and the reality is, as the selection of episcopal horrors I paraded earlier tesitifies, that there is a certain spirit in the hierarchy of this country that goes beyond arrogance or cowardice - it is alien, it is organised, it is purposeful, it is inimical to the Faith. It has constructed a local Church in which orthodoxy, i.e. truth, is considered extreme and Modernism i.e. heresy, is considered mainstream; a Church in which a priest or layman can claim to be a Catholic while denying with impunity what it is that makes him one; where the de-facto schismatics who have in substance separated themselves from the Church claim not to be separate - and this includes the bishops, who as we've seen earlier, protect, foster and promote such separateness.
This counterfeit local Church, built on the quicksand of counterfeit dialogue and tolerance, was erected by Archbishop Derek Worlock and Cardinal Hume and its oppressive spirit was captured by a faithful senior Westminster priest who confided a few years ago: "The Church in this country is run by a clerical tyranny." Indeed, a suffocating liberal clericalism which allowed Cardinal Hume to rebuke Daphne McLeod, a champion of orthodoxy, for [quote] "encouraging dissent" [unquote] while simultaneously praising Modernists, the enemies of orthodoxy, for their [quote] "loyal opposition" [unquote]. That this tyranny is institutionalised was confirmed by a comment that a Liverpool parish priest let slip on Radio Merseyside on 13 May 1996: "Archbishop Derek did say to me once," said the priest, "that as long as the bishops stuck together there's no way in which a man of conservative ilk [i.e. a faithful Catholic priest loyal to Rome] could be imposed upon any diocese in our country."
It is precisely the reality of this alien spirit and Modernist dictatorship of the hierarchy, maintained by its sycophantic media machine, that the Jolly Hockey Sticks will not confront because they want to be seen to be "respectable" by the very clergy who are Christ's greatest antagonists; and because they think that despite the present strife it'll all work out in the end and in the meantime we should just get along, all be pals together, even while the Faith is being treated with contempt by the sort of prelates who, as the Vatican warned last year, have reduced the priesthood of Jesus Christ to a career option and the good life.
Well, I'm telling you, if we adopt this attitude; if we opt for life in this Establishment Catholic comfort zone of perennial appeasement and Quietism; if we are more interested in retaining an air of respectability than in confronting, strongly and bluntly, this mysterious darkening of episcopal hearts and minds for fear of being called 'extremists' and 'zealots' and 'fanatics'; if we continue living this liberal illusion that we can act justly without risking our good name, our tranquil life, our well-being - then we might as well stand around fretting like Peter and wait for the cock to crow!
We each need to ask ourselves these questions, because it is hard to believe that God would not have sent Britain at least some orthodox episcopal relief if He had been badgered sufficiently - Christ Himself told us, in the parable of the unjust judge, that we should pray continually and never be discouraged [Lk 18 1:8]. Just as the unjust judge was worn down by the persistent visits of the widow seeking redress against someone who wronged her, Our Lord told the people: "will not God give redress to his elect, when they are crying out to him, day and night? Will he not be impatient with their wrongs? I tell you, he will give them redress with all speed." And then Christ immediately adds, underlining the point I made earlier, "But ah, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith left on earth?" And so I repeat, and I repeat it more for my own benefit than anyone else's: are we really praying for the conversion of the hirelings or their replacement by strong, solicitous, Catholic Shepherds - as if we believe? Given Christ's promise, I can't imagine that enough of us are.
It is because our thoughts are not ordered in this Catholic way that we do not hate the insidious Modernist heresy as we should; as the polluting of God's truth, which is the worst of all impurities. "Where there is no hatred for heresy," said a famous convert, "there is no holiness." And without holiness, truth rapidly becomes a dead letter and any prospect of unity dies with it.
On the other hand, one who possesses a truly Catholic mind is alarmed by heresy! He sees that souls are being lost now! And this sense of urgency alerts him, intuitively, to the deeper implication of Cardinal Manning's contention that "all conflict is theological". He sees, in other words, that everything, every debate on whatever issue returns to Catholic moral and doctrinal realities and, therefore, that a healthy, unified Catholic Church precedes and gives rise to a healthy, unified and coherent State. And he sees all about him the catastrophic consequences for society of the Modernist heresy destroying the Western Church. Thus, he doesn't put the cart before the horse; he doesn't fool himself into accepting that a sick Church can heal a sick world; he knows that we have to heal the Church and unite ourselves - Catholics of the Latin Rite - before trying to heal the world and unite divided Christianity.
And so with that broad appreciation of the importance of a healthy Church - a Church untainted by the stench of heterodoxy and heresy - the Catholic thinker is not as easily pleased as the average orthodox layman whose standards, after years of struggle, have plummeted to desperate levels. A prelate stands up to condemn sodomy or abortion - the minimum one might expect of a Catholic bishop - and we go weak at the knees and lose all sense of proportion in our rush to congratulate him. In our desperation for something - for someone - to hold on to, we blithely ignore the standards set by St Paul, who wrote to Titus that "a bishop must be beyond reproach, since he is the steward of God's house…", and that the bishop is duty bound to "rebuke sharply" the "many disobedient, vain talkers and seducers" who "bring ruin on entire households by false teaching"; false teachers who, St. Paul concludes: "must be silenced." [Titus 1:7-13].
Australia's redoubtable Margaret Joughin writes: "We are never immune for very long from the secularising effects of 'progressive' thinking. Diplomacy, discretion and détente are in the air, and even good men have been persuaded to put policy before principles… So we comfort ourselves with the thought that the Bishop who turns a blind eye to dissent on Tuesday must be a good fellow after all, because he accepts an invitation from someone to say the Rosary on Thursday."
Let's face it, we have been reduced to grasping at morsels of hope fed to us by canny churchmen who play us like marionettes, who play on our Catholic obedience, docility and goodwill. And so, right on cue, pro-life leaders urged their supporters to write and congratulate Cardinal Winning on his Section 28 stand. Fair enough. I myself had a letter of support for the Cardinal's stand published in the Scottish secular press. BUT - have the pro-lifers and other Catholic apostolates taken on board the facts presented in my booklet Great Defenders….. or Great Pretenders? (available downstairs at the Christian Order stall) detailing the sort of shocking negligence and complicity of the Scottish hierarchy to which Pat referred? Have they ever thought to use their considerable resources to pressure, and to relentlessly maintain that pressure on His Eminence and bishops everywhere to clean up their own backyards? To silence the dissenters; to institute a zero-tolerance policy on liturgical abuse; to reform their truly degraded seminaries and teacher training colleges? To do the job St Paul insists they were consecrated under God to do irreproachably? Or have the leaders and supporters of the major orthodox movements, instead, excused our bishops who allow false teaching, because occasionally they impress - allowing a Latin Mass here; patronising a Marian or Pro-Life Conference there?
SWORD OF UNITY?
And I suggest that to regain this holy fear, which will spur us to act justly in this present crisis, we need to grasp the reality, difficult though it is without the sight of blood on the floor, that, as Pat mentioned, we really are at war. Yet why should it surprise us: there was war in heaven! "Fierce war broke out in heaven," writes St John in Revelation, "where Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought on their part, but could not win the day, or stand their ground in heaven any longer; the great dragon… was flung down to earth; he whom we call the devil, or Satan, the whole world's seducer, flung down to earth, and his angels with him." And this dragon, St. John tells us "went elsewhere to make WAR… on men who keep God's commandments, and hold fast to the truth concerning Jesus." And so St. Paul warns us: "…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the armour of God….take up the shield of faith….make the helmet of salvation your own, and the sword of the spirit, God's word."
Yes, Christ extends his arms in charity to embrace all men - but the charity of Christ is not soft- there is a sword in one hand! A sword, in the classic tradition of Christian paradox, that at once divides and unifies; censures and saves. "Do not imagine," declared Jesus, "that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" [Matt. 10:34]. "Henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two and against three; they will be divided…" [Lk 12:51]. "A man's enemies will be the people of his own house…" Significantly, it is at this point, after stressing the need for division, that Jesus says: "He who secures his own life [i.e. denies his faith under persecution or otherwise compromises with the world] will lose it; it is the man who loses his life for My sake that will secure it" [Matt. 10:34-40].
And so this sword, which is truth, only divides in order to unite to Christ those believers who live the Faith and persevere in the Faith. It is thus the sword of unity - the same sword wielded by St. Michael to cast out Satan and his proud and rebellious angelic hordes in order to unite the faithful heavenly hosts. It is the sword which faithful Catholics and, indeed, Rome itself must wield today with the same antique severity and holy violence of the angels and prophets if the Modernist impasse within the closed-ranks of the British episcopates is ever to be broken and Christ's faithful reunited in Catholic truth.
If the Church is not Militant, She cannot thrive and flourish: Her sword of unity becomes blunt and useless. And if we have thus far not been sufficiently Militant - if that sword has lost its edge - it is surely because so few in the orthodox camp have taken Pope Leo XIII at his word when he said that Catholics were "born for combat": by which he meant that a Catholic enters a spiritual war zone when he leaves his mother's womb, that his Baptism enlists him into the ranks of the Church Militant and that the war is there to be fought daily, for his own soul and for the life of the Church, until he departs this world in a box!
Tragically, we have sought to avoid the burden of this stressful, outspoken Militancy, which is our birthright and our duty, by seeking refuge in a thousand popular good works and less militant apostolates. And even worse, we have failed to support or openly sniped along with the Jolly Hockey Sticks, at those who have worked to expose the rot and refused to be silent and acquiescent in the sins of our spiritual Fathers in Christ.
ATTITUDE AND ACTION
I would ask the same questions, and pose a few others - like why so many faithful Catholics have failed to support, morally and financially, Christian Order and Pro Eccclesia et Pontifice? - who, alone, on their behalf, have consistently screamed "unbloody murder!" at the ongoing spiritual massacre of the innocent, especially children, within the Church. And why, if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, when silence was called for in this very hall four years ago, so many of us chose to applaud the architect of our own demise. On that defining day of Basil Hume's tenure, between 2.30-3 pm on 4th May 1996 - ironically the Feast of the English Martyrs - I sat up upstairs and watched a Catholic Cardinal do a consummate impersonation of an Anglican Archbishop oversighting an Anglican Synod with you as just one more faction in the broad church he had embraced. And how my heart sank as you rewarded Cardinal Hume's rebuke of your orthodoxy and fidelity and obedience with a fulsome round of applause; preferring human respect and false-charity to the truly charitable, stony silence that his outrageous performance deserved and which would have said more than ten thousand letters of protest. I could ask: 'what were you thinking?' But that is my whole point, you were not thinking; certainly not with a Catholic mind. Well might the poet say that the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Or as Jesus Himself said: "What a great pity that the children of light are not as aggressive in the pursuit of their goals as are the opposition."
Well, as Malachi wrote to his sister, it is very late in the day to think we can wield the sword of unity victoriously by cutting adrift all the dissident carriers of the spiritual Aids now coursing through and emaciating the Body of Christ. The time may have passed for fully restoring the local British Churches to unity in truth. But Our Father in Heaven doesn't ask that we be successful in our fight, just faithful. And if we persevere faithfully in doing and saying what has to be said and done, then as Mother Angelica declared on this stage four years ago: "Victory IS already ours". But victory implies a battle; implies holding fast to truth and vigorously resisting the evil works of the fallen angels in all their ecclesial guises. As the formidable Italian Cardinal Tettamanzi said at last year's European Synod: "Catholics must learn to resist in the face of any seduction; ceasing to live as one of the herd." He was referring to the Culture War beyond the Church but the point is even more relevant to the Ecclesial War within the Church.
And so finally, I say, that if we are to salvage anything from the wreckage of thirty years, if we really desire to re-establish unity in truth, we too have to resist the seductions of counterfeit dialogue and tolerance on the one hand, and Jolley Hockey Stick false optimism and Quietism on the other, recover our taste for the great Catholic tradition of bellicosity and polemic in defence of our glorious Faith, and cease living as "one of the herd." We have to start getting serious about our Faith!
We ARE principal protagonists in a spiritual civil war! We ARE a Catholic RESISTANCE MOVEMENT! And for the sake of your children and grandchildren, for the love of Jesus Christ crucified, it's time we started praying and thinking and acting like one! Acting like worthy successors and keepers of the FAITH OF OUR FATHERS!