Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Straight from the horse's mouth

A fortnight ago Melancholicus lamented the fact that in our society, while the murderers of the right are justly excoriated for their crimes, the death-mongers of the left are given a free pass. Admiration of the militant left is fashionable; such is the veneration in which revolutionary murderers are held that our holy father Pope Benedict has been lashed in the media for beatifying the Catholic martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, even though those martyrs were the victims—not the perpetrators—of atrocities.

For some reason, recollection of the Soviet purges, the executions, the gulags (not to mention the extermination of the kulaks, in which fifteen million souls perished), the appalling slaughter of an entire nation by the Khmer Rouge, the extraordinary loss of life suffered by the Chinese under Mao Tse Tung—need I go on?—fails to evoke the same chills of horror as recollection of the death camps of the holocaust.

Melancholicus deplores this obscene double standard, and is gratified to know that he is not the only one to have noticed it:

... The day after that singing on the bridge, some of us hung red flags and banners bearing the hammer and sickle from the windows of our rooms. On the outside of my door I pinned up a poster of Lenin, emblazoned with the words he spoke to the Second All-Russia Congress on October 26, 1917, the day after the revolution: “We shall now proceed to construct the socialist order.” Not long after, when I opened my door in the morning, I found the poster in shreds on the floor and a bucketful of horse manure dumped on my threshold.

Fully deserved, I now think. If I had been walking along Silver Street last week and had seen some young student twits toasting the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, I should have been tempted to push them off the bridge into the river. So far as I am concerned today, they – and we, 40 years ago – might just as well have been marking the anniversary of the Nazis’ Kristallnacht and bellowing out the chorus of their Horst Wessel marching song.

What were we thinking of? The Prague spring had not yet been crushed by Soviet tanks, but even so we all knew about the Soviet purges, the show trials, the executions, the extermination of the kulaks, the murderously suppressed revolts in Poland and Hungary. Solzhenitsyn had already published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Orwell’s Animal Farm were older than we were.

... Much that I did in my youth can now make me shout aloud with shame; but not much is more mortifying than to think I once toasted mass murderers, torturers and totalitarian despots. How to explain it?

... Bolshevism and the Russian revolution may have disintegrated in ruins but the generation that raised its toast in the direction of the Kremlin 40 years ago has triumphed. Leninism has been defeated almost everywhere in the world, but the postwar generation of baby boomers who went so far left in the 1960s now control this country’s leading institutions. Their taste for totalitarian simplicities and weakness for millenarian terrors has been digested into modern feminism, environmentalism and global warming. Many remain absolutely unrepentant about their past because they have been so successful in the present (one of the sweeter fruits of victory is never having to apologise).

... While Günther Grass, the German author, is excoriated for having joined the Waffen SS at 17, Alan Johnson, the health secretary, is benignly patted on the back for admitting that he was once ideologically aligned to the Communist party of Great Britain. While the Daily Mail is routinely vilified for its prewar support for the Nazis, The Guardian’s role in cheer-leading for a succession of Marxist tyrants from Mao and Pol Pot to Castro and Mugabe is rarely questioned.

Read it all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tsar Bomba

The Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear ambitions have been much in the news lately, and this has reminded Melancholicus of yet another anniversary.

Forty-six years ago on this day, 30th October 1961, there occurred the biggest man-made explosion in history. This was a thermonuclear device tested by the Soviets, and by them nicknamed Big Ivan; in the west it became known as Tsar Bomba.

Tsar Bomba was designed to yield 100 megatons, making it—arguably—the most powerful weapon ever constructed. However, the device tested on this day in 1961 was a scaled-down version intended to yield only half that amount, as the Soviets were afraid of the perils of detonating such an unimaginably powerful bomb even in the remotest corner of their vast territory.

There has been much quibble over the precise output yielded by the Tsar Bomba explosion. The official yield provided by the Russians was, and remains, 50 megatons. The U.S. estimated the explosion to have been as powerful as 57 megatons. Melancholicus has seen other figures quoted passim in various sources, all ranging between 50 and 58 megatons. In any case, it makes no difference.

Enjoy the video.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ireland moves closer to gay 'marriage'

Just as we thought it was safe to go back in the water:

Irish lawmakers to move forward on civil-union proposal

Dublin, Oct. 26, 2007 ( - Ireland's Labour Party has announced plans to re-introduce legislation that would establish civil-union recognition for same-sex couples.

The Labour proposal, to be brought before the Dáil (parliament) next week, would provide same-sex couples with the same legal and financial benefits as traditional marriage.

Similar legislation was introduced early this year, but after debating the measure the Dáil agreed to postpone further action for 6 months at the request of the government.

In announcing plans to revive the legislation, the Labour Party called attention to the support the proposal had received from Ireland's major political parties, noting that those who had sought immediate approval for the bill earlier this year now constitute a majority in the Dáil. Labour officials also took note of the government's promise to allow early consideration of the measure.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern announced in July that his government "is committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples." Ahern said that legislation allowing for recognition of civil partnerships would be introduced "at the earliest possible date."

This story comes from Catholic World News. Melancholicus has taken the liberty of correcting the American misspelling of the name of the Labour party, but the rest of the piece is unaltered.

Melancholicus was commenting in his previous post on what he hopes is the calibre of today’s aspirants to the sacred priesthood. He would like to hope they will be firm on moral aberrations such as “gay marriage”.

Even though this legal fiction — which would see the State granting rights to relationships involving a sin crying to Heaven for vengeance — has not yet been introduced into Ireland, we are constantly threatened with it. The left has not been inactive (are they ever?) and legal recognition of sodomitical unions is one of their sacred cows of the hour.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Fianna Fáil/PD coaltition government clearly postponed the bill for six months owing to the fact that there was a general election in the offing, and that approving such unions at the time could have—I should say would have—had a catastrophic effect on the Fianna Fáil vote. Most of the socially-conservative element within the Irish electorate have traditionally cast their vote for Fianna Fáil, in much the same way and for much the same reasons as the conservative and religious community in the United States would tend to vote for the Republican Party.

In that case, postponement of the bill was a mere political ploy. Fianna Fáil have since the recent election formed a new government with the Green Party (the PDs are out and on the ropes, and that right deservedly), and it seems from Bertie’s position on the matter that Fianna Fáil is fully prepared to lend its support to legally-sanctioned shit-stabbery and to let the Labour Party have their bill.

While this bill, if it becomes law, is not quite gay “marriage”, it is as good as. Expect the final step, complete with highly-publicized wedding ceremonies with full-colour photos of bride and bride and groom and groom on the front page of this newspaper, to follow in short order.

As for the Church... Melancholicus is sure that the homosexualists and their abettors in the Dáil will not stop at mere civil ceremonies. Since in their minds homosexuals have—or ought to have—exactly the same rights in all circumstances as others, it is only a logical step toward demanding that the Catholic Church provide nuptial blessings for such couples, should they so desire it.

Given the parlous state of the Irish Church, I wonder just how many clergy would see this horror for the abomination it is and would resist even unto fines, court cases, deposition and imprisonment, and how many on the other hand would only be too delighted to join man and man in sodomitical ‘matrimony’ in front of the very altar of God?

That’s a frightening picture. But we may be confronted with it in reality, and sooner rather than later. It is a matter for much prayer.

The withering of the priesthood in Ireland

From Catholic World News:

Aging clergy, shrinking numbers pose problems for Irish Church

Dublin, Oct. 25, 2007 ( - The falling numbers and aging profile of Catholic priests in Ireland may be a cause of concern in the future, according to the bishops' Council for Research and Development (CRD)

Overall, the numbers of diocesan priests in Ireland last year dropped by 51 to 3,078. Since 2000, the number of diocesan priests has declined by 10.6%.

The average priest is also becoming older: in 2001, 3% were aged between 25 and 29. Last year, only 0.9% of priests were in this age group.

Last year 30 applicants were accepted to study for the Ireland's 26 dioceses-- a slight rise on the 27 in 2005 and 28 in 2004.

According to new figures from the CRD, 48 men applied to study for the priesthood last year, of whom 62% were accepted. This compares with an acceptance rate of 50% in 2005 and 47% in 2004.

The successful applicants included former teachers, civil servants, farmers, and workers in information technology and engineering. Of the 26 for whom data was available, six were aged 18 to 21, 11 between 22 and 24 and the remainder were 25 or older.

There are currently 74 students for the priesthood in Ireland's remaining two seminaries, St Patrick's Maynooth and St Malachy's Belfast. The average age at ordination is 34 years.

Based on the 2006 census figures for the Republic and the 2004 population projections for the North, there is now one active diocesan priest for every 1,862 Catholics in Ireland.

"The current older age profile of diocesan priests may be a cause for concern in the years ahead," said Eoin O'Mahony of the CRD. "The largest proportion of single males in the Republic is aged 30 to 39 years old. For diocesan priests in Ireland, it is 60 to 69 years old."

The council also produced statistics on religious. In the year to September 2006, there were 8,891 women in women’s religious orders, a fall of 351 on 2005. The number of nuns dropped from 10,059 in 2001 to 8,891 in 2006. The average age of the six women who took final vows last year was 41, and the average age of Irish nuns overall is now 56.

The number of men in clerical religious orders in September 2006 was 3,278, of whom 93% were priests and 7% brothers. This represents a 10.8% decrease in five years. Four men applied to brothers' orders -- up from just one in the previous year, and the highest number of applicants since 2002. But of the four, three applications were not followed through.

What Melancholius finds most remarkable about this situation is that, despite the best efforts of the clergy, young men are still presenting themselves to the Church for possible ordination and a sacrificial life of service devoted to Christ and His faithful at the altar of God.

I say “despite the best efforts of the clergy” for a reason. The catastrophic decline in the number of vocations may be in part attributed to the secularisation of Ireland in the last few decades of the twentieth century, as well as to a coarsening of the moral fibre of Irish society generally. The priesthood is no longer an attractive career option to the majority for whom worldly standards like ‘status’ and ‘success’ will determine many of their life choices.

But it is the clergy themselves who have placed the most corrosive obstacles in the path of those young men who may have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Owing to the transformation of the sacred liturgy into an undignified community circus, the current mania for “collaborative ministry” with its simultaneous elevation of the status of the laity and its degradation of the status of the priest, the feminization of the Church with its proliferation of female-led “ministries”, the “reform” of the seminaries (or should that latter word now be in the singular?) such that prayer and penance are out, and “self-fulfilment” and “self-actualization” are in — not to mention the replacement of traditional Catholic philosophy and theology with the latest fads and the heretical ramblings of modernist theologians — and the refusal to acknowledge that a crisis exists, or if it is acknowledged, the remedy prescribed for the situation is to have still greater recourse to the same medicine that precipitated the crisis in the first place — how on earth, given this dire set of circumstances, are sound vocations to the Catholic priesthood to be fostered from the beginning, never mind brought to fruition in the sacrament of orders?

The process is stymied from the very start owing to the proliferation of inadequate and even heretical catechetical material in Catholic schools, such that an entire generation of Catholic youth grows up and leaves school without the slightest knowledge of their religion, or else believing many things that are quite wrong or irrelevant at best. The bishops have been warned — repeatedly — about this situation in the schools, but they have turned a deaf ear and sat upon their hands. Do they want vocations, or don’t they? If they don’t, their measures have succeeded admirably, beyond all expectations. If they do, why don’t they do something about it? Let them clean up the schools, the seminaries, and the parishes, and the vocations will come — little by little, but the change will happen and it will gather momentum. For what we are dealing with here is a manufactured priest shortage, and as such it is not beyond the ability of the powers that be to reverse the situation — all they lack is the will to make the necessary reforms and boot out the revolutionaries from all the positions of authority they have co-opted over the last forty years. This of course would take guts, and since when have the Irish bishops displayed any kind of fortitude in these weak, post-conciliar times? Read this article on how the post-conciliar shortage of vocations has deliberately been engineered by the ecclesiastical establishment. The article concerns the United States specifically, but it is equally germane to the state of affairs in Ireland.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the small number of vocations appears to be increasing, even if only slightly. Melancholicus would like to think that today’s applicant would be of a more traditional and conservative bent than his counterpart of the 1980s. He would like to think that since new life has been breathed into the ailing Church by Pope Benedict XVI, that young Catholic men have noticed it and are feeling somewhat invigorated. He would like to think that more of today’s applicants would have an interest in celebrating the traditional Latin Mass than heretofore. He would like to think that they would likewise have firmer views on moral aberrations, views in line with the perennial Magisterium, and would be less likely to wink at such abominations as contraception, adultery, concubinage, abortion and of course “gay marriage”.

And that they would be less likely to concelebrate Mass with ministers of the Church of Ireland.

Furthermore, Melancholicus does not see the brothers’ orders recovering from the effects of the 1960s cataclysm. The religious orders have been corrupted by modernism to an even worse extent than the dioceses, and I do not think they have either the numbers or the resources, much less the will, to effect a recovery.

Howbeit, time will tell.

Three Anglican parishes in Ireland to unite with Rome?

This just in from the BBC:

Churches set to become Catholic

Three former Anglican congregations have asked to be received into the Roman Catholic Church, a Catholic newspaper has reported.

The ex-Church of Ireland communities in Down, Tyrone and Laois, were part of the 'traditional rite'.

The Irish Catholic newspaper said the congregations asked the Vatican for "full, corporate, sacramental union" under the authority of the Pope.

This would see the communities being received into the Catholic Church.

A spokesman for the congregations confirmed that the members of the traditional rite of the Church of Ireland did hope to be received into "full communion with the See of Rome".

A decision was made at a plenary meeting of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the umbrella organisation for traditional Anglicans, to petition Rome for such a move earlier this month.


According to a statement from the TAC "the bishops and vicars-general unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union.

"The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See," the statement added.

The traditional rite broke away from the Church of Ireland in 1991, after the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland decided to start ordaining women.

Traditionalist Anglicans described the move as a "defiance of both Scripture and Tradition."

It is rare for entire Anglican communities to seek corporate communion with the Catholic Church whereby every member of the parish becomes Catholic and the parish effectively becomes part of the Catholic Church.

There have been a number of high-profile individual conversions.

Most recently, Anita Henderson, wife of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Killala was received in to the Catholic Church in a private ceremony in Ballina, Co Mayo.

To say that this is surprising would be an understatement.

Conditions within the worldwide Anglican Communion must be really, really bad if three entire parishes of Anglican Traditionalists are now seeking full union with Rome.

It is interesting that, with the exception of the group in Co. Laois, these communities are not based in the more liberal, easy-going south, but are from what is considered the most protestant part of the Church of Ireland, namely Northern Ireland.

The website of the Traditional Anglican Communion in Ireland can be viewed here. That of the umbrella organisation is located here.

This story seems to go further than this, however. It is not merely three Irish parishes that are seeking union with Rome, but the entire TAC (see here for further details). It will be interesting to see how this develops. Doubtless the Anglicans will wish to retain—within the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, of course—such features of their praxis which are distinctively Anglican and not at the same time incompatible with the profession of Roman Catholicism. If such a compromise can be agreed upon by both TAC and Rome, we might witness further mass migrations of disaffected Anglicans Romeward, particularly in the United States where the accelerating collapse of ECUSA has created a large pool of displaced Christians seeking alternative primatial oversight since they cannot in conscience continue in the communion of an organisation which so openly and brazenly repudiates central tenets of the Christian faith. Melancholicus would be in favour of such a compromise being reached; he has no wish to inflict upon these his long-suffering brothers and sisters in Christ the barbarities of the Novus Ordo and tasteless ICEL liturgy. A properly-constituted ‘anglican rite’ retaining elements of the classical Prayer Book within Roman Catholicism would be an enrichment to Catholic liturgy. He has said elsewhere that choral evensong is the outstanding contribution of the anglican church to Christian liturgy, and if this liturgical gem could be incorporated within the practice of Catholicism, so much the better!

In the meantime, we await the response of the Holy See.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

So you still think socialism is harmless?

Melancholicus is reluctant to row out into the deep and dangerous sea of the Spanish Civil War, since this is a subject which even today can still spark off hot passions.

Holy Mother Church stirred up some of those passions when today she beatified 498 Catholic martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

A group calling itself the ‘Association for Historical Memory’, allegedly set up in Spain to preserve evidence relating to the civil war, has reacted with unusual fury to the beatifications. Melancholicus would like to know more about this Association, as it appears to be interested in telling only one side of the story, namely that of the left. The mere suggestion that there is in fact another side seems to have filled them with fury. They have dared to claim that the Catholic Church “accepts only its role as victim and not executioner”. This attitude Melancholicus finds contemptibly rich, since no-one is better than the left in practicing a monopoly on victimhood. And the left, eager to bleat incessantly about crimes committed against itself, will never acknowledge its own crimes, merely plead that its violence is either morally justified, or exaggerated for political effect by its enemies.

It is clear from the reaction of the leftists that even to mention the victims of leftist violence is simply not permitted.

It seems that the attitude that any violence in the service of the left is good and noble is still widespread, and as long as that attitude persists, those who do not share the ideology of the leftists will always be under threat of such violence, and that the leftists can be counted upon to resort to violence if they think they can get away with it.

Is the membership of this ‘Association for Historical Memory’ at all aware that, during the Red Terror in Spain before the final victory of the Nationalists, nearly 7,000 clergy and religious were murdered by Republican forces, or by groups fighting on the Republican side? These included 13 bishops, 4172 diocesan priests, 2364 monks and friars—among them 259 Claretians, 226 Franciscans, 204 Piarists, 176 Brothers of Mary, 165 Christian Brothers, 155 Augustinians, 132 Dominicans, and 114 Jesuits—and 282 nuns. In some dioceses, the numbers are overwhelming: in the words of Julio de la Cueva, “in Barbastro 88 percent of the secular clergy were murdered, 66 percent in Lerida, 62 percent in Tortosa, 44 per cent in Segorbe, about half of the priests in Malaga, Minorca and Toledo.” There are accounts of the faithful being forced to swallow rosary beads, being thrown down mine shafts and of priests being forced to dig their own graves before being buried alive. Is the Association going to tell us, in all seriousness, that all or even most of these were criminals, engaged in violence and terror against Republicans? Do they really expect us to believe such an absurdity, for which there isn’t a tittle of evidence?

Let us now see what grand exploits the brave heroes whose memory is so cherished by the Association for Historical Memory were up to. I wonder, have they bothered to keep any of the following atrocities in their “Memory”?

  • An eyewitness to some of the persecution, Cristina de Arteaga, who afterwards became a nun, commented that they [i.e. the Republicans] “attacked the Salesians, people who are totally committed to the poor. There was a rumour that nuns were giving poisoned sweets to children. Some nuns were grabbed by the hair in the streets. One had her hair pulled out.”

  • On the night of 19 July 1936 alone, some fifty churches were burned. In Barcelona, out of the 58 churches, only the Cathedral was spared, and similar atrocities occurred almost everywhere in Republican Spain.

  • The parish priest of Navalmoral was put through a parody of Christ’s Crucfixion. At the end of his suffering, the militiamen debated whether actually to crucify him or just shoot him. They finished with a shooting. His last request was to be allowed to face his tormenters so he could bless them.

  • The Bishop of Jaen and his sister were murdered in front of two thousand celebrating spectators by a special executioner, a woman nicknamed La Pecosa, the freckled one. The Bishop of Almeria was murdered while working on a history of Toledo. His card index file was destroyed.

  • In Madrid, a nun was killed because she refused a proposition of marriage from a militiaman who helped storm her convent.

  • In El Pardo, near Madrid, a group of militiamen became drunk on communion wine while trying the parish priest. One militiaman used the chalice as a washing bowl as he shaved himself.

  • Although rare, it was reported that some nuns were raped by militiamen before they were shot.

  • The priest of Cienpozuelos was thrown into a corral with fighting bulls where he was gored into unconsciousness. Afterwards one of his ears was cut off to imitate the feat of a matador after a successful bullfight.

  • In Ciudad Real, the priest was castrated and his sexual organs stuffed in his mouth.

  • Also in Ciudad Real, a crucifix was shoved down the throat of a mother of two Jesuit priests.

Melancholicus has only this to say to these protestors: shut your filthy, lying mouths, you hypocrites and sons of hypocrites. The Church has beatified only those of her personnel who were murdered, often by cruel and inhuman methods, during the conflict of 1934-37. She has not beatified Franco, for goodness’ sake. So why the fuss?

The fuss of course proceeds from those for whom the Church can only be an oppressor, never a victim; those for whom the clergy are no more than enemy combatants that must be killed at any price, never innocent men simply carrying out the duties of their state.

It is clear that the wholesale slaughter of bishops, priests, monks and nuns was carried out not for military reasons, or even because the Church may have sided, or have been perceived to side, with the Nationalists.

The slaughter was occasioned by nothing other than a hatred of the Church and her clergy — a hatred for the Catholic religion itself, a hatred which manifested itself in such bizarre displays as one sees in this photograph (original here), which shows leftist troops shooting a statue of Christ.

Yes, shooting a statue. And that obviously because it represents Our Lord. If this does not indicate a virulent—not to say irrational—hatred of the Christian faith, then what does it indicate? In military terms, this is simply a waste of ammunition. But this is not a military act, it is a symbolic act.

Because they could not murder Christ Himself, they turned their fury on His representatives—even upon those who were most far removed from political life, who spent their time hidden away from the world in silent prayer, monks in their monasteries, and cloistered nuns. Even though these could not have had less to do with the political controversies that convulsed Spain in the 1930s, they were nonetheless dragged from their enclosures and mercilessly done to death.

There were sufficient numbers of anarchists and communists among the Republican forces during the civil war to ensure that in the chaos of the war, the Church would indeed be targeted. This much was inevitable. To the fanatical ideologues of socialism, the clergy are indeed the enemy, and must be done away with. After all, the revolutionary hero cannot proceed to construct the socialist order while there are still men in soutanes going about, instructing the people in doctrines that contradict socialist dogma, and filling their heads full of all that counter-revolutionary nonsense about Jesus and heaven and eternal life.

Today the same element holds sway in Spanish society. The spiritual descendants of the murderers of the 1930s are just as trenchantly opposed to religion as were their forebears. Except that today, as it is no longer possible for them to shoot the clergy, to throw them down a mine shaft or to bury them alive, it is necessary to shout down the Church and to portray her as the practitioner of every barbarity, in order to claim for the left the status of unique and only victim of the violence of the Spanish Civil War. The right is always expected to acknowledge its crimes and be contrite; the left never. And unless the Church of God toadies up to the left and plays by the left’s rules, she is denied a voice.

How narrow-minded, mean-spirited and small-souled must they be, who cannot stomach even the memory of the martyrs who suffered in the passion of Spain!

Omnes santi martyres Hispaniae, ora pro nobis et pro universo mundo!

Read the whole thing, from Catholic World News, here.

Church of England to investigate child abuse

Well, this is certainly news.

In fact there is a veritable rash of news stories on the BBC website concerning the abuse of children by personnel of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

In 2002, when the most intensive spate yet of scandals concerning the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests (in the USA and elsewhere) hit the headlines, it was widely alleged that the sexuality of the abusers had been warped by the discipline of compulsory celibacy. In other words, because these men had no legitimate sexual outlet, their inclinations perforce became twisted and perverted, and when they could no longer restrain themselves, they began raping children in order to ease their frustrations.

At least that is how the story goes.

Melancholicus considers that blaming celibacy for the sexual misdeeds of clerics is a disingenuous tactic used by those who wish to force the Church to revise her discipline, and to lower the high standards she expects from her clergy. This tactic is also used by those who would deflect attention from the real nature of the problem, and the profile of most clerical abusers — namely, same-sex attraction.

It is often alleged by those who blame celibacy for these horrendous crimes that permitting the clergy to take wives would, as it were a magic bullet, “solve” the problem of child sexual abuse among members of the clergy.

According to this logic, had Fr. Brendan Smyth been allowed to marry, he would never have raped so many young boys.

Leaving aside the fact that such claims are totally preposterous, they are also deeply insulting, not only to those clergy—the overwhelming majority—who do NOT abuse children, but to every other person, unmarried, or not otherwise involved in a sexual relationship.

The clergy of the Church of England have since the reign of Edward VI — 1549 to be exact — been permitted to marry. Celibacy is simply not an issue for Anglican clergy. On the logic of those vocal opponents of celibacy in the Roman Church of whom we have just been speaking, we ought not to find any hint of child sexual abuse in the Church of England, since in that church celibacy as a requirement does not exist.

How then, do these critics explain the occurrence of such crimes among not only the clergy of the Church of England, but among laymen also? Not to mention the fact that most abuse of children occurs within the family, and that there is a far higher proportionate incidence of abusers among married men than among celibates, and a higher proportionate incidence of abusers among men who experience same-sex attraction than among straight men.

Continence, self-discipline, chastity and restraint are not the cause of perversion in those who practice them; rather, they are a remedy for disordered inclinations. The sating of lust does not purify the soul of evil desires; it only increases them. And marriage, which is a holy sacrament — “an honourable estate” in the words of the Church of England’s Prayer Book — is demeaned by being reduced to the level of a mere outlet for sexual frustration.

It is also interesting that the Roman Church is not alone in its abject failure to deal with these reprobates in its midst; institutional dysfunction seems to be endemic in our time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The exoneration of the Knights Templar, or more tendentiousness from Broadcasting House

The Holy See has lately produced a facsimile edition of primary documents relating to the trial and subsequent suppression of the Knights Templar in the early fourteenth century.

The BBC took up this story of course, as it offers excellent scope for spin detrimental to the Catholic Church.

The BBC made much of how difficult it is for scholars to gain access to the material stored in the secret archives. Melancholicus was not impressed by this attempt to paint the Vatican archives as a sinister and secretive institution, since as a textual scholar, he knows at first hand how jealously EVERY library and repository guards their priceless manuscript sources.

Furthermore, the fact that this documentation can be consulted by serious researchers and — contrary to popular belief — is not sequestered away in some top-secret vault to which no one is granted access does indicate that the archives are not quite as ‘secret’ as the BBC would like us to believe.

The forthcoming publication of the Chinon parchment was featured this morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Melancholicus has observed a curious phenomenon in contemporary journalism. Most journalists seem to engage in this practice, and those who work for the BBC are no exception.

The contemporary journalist cannot simply report on the facts of the matter and leave it at that. Instead, every news story must be subjected to the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis; reporters seem to imagine that unless their coverage is tinged with this Hegelian hue, they have failed to be impartial and objective. That they would think so proceeds from a false understanding of the nature of truth, and ultimately of reality. This false understanding in turn proceeds from relativism. There is no middle ground between truth and falsehood; no ‘synthesis’ is possible between what is true and what is not. Yet the doyens of professional journalism in our time seem to be incapable of affirming any proposition without immediately setting forth its contrary. This they consider to be characteristic of objectivity; whereas it is actually a characteristic of mediocrity, as the reverend and esteemed Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us:

The truly mediocre man admires everything a little and nothing with warmth ... He considers every affirmation insolent, because every affirmation excludes the contradictory proposition. But if you are slightly friendly and slightly hostile to all things, he will consider you wise and reserved. The mediocre man says there is good and evil in all things, and that we must not be absolute in our judgments. If you strongly affirm the truth, the mediocre man will say that you have too much confidence in yourself. The mediocre man regrets that the Christian religion has dogmas. He would like it to teach only ethics, and if you tell him that its code of morals comes from its dogmas as the consequence comes from the principle, he will answer that you exaggerate ... if the word ‘exaggeration’ did not exist, the mediocre man would invent it.

The mediocre man appears habitually modest. He cannot be humble, or he would cease to be mediocre. The humble man scorns all lies, even were they glorified by the whole earth, and he bows the knee before every truth. (Ernest Hello, L’homme, bk. I chap. 8, cited by Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, vol. I, p. 201)

This approach of pro and contra is not restricted to questions of opinion, of which there can be many sides, each of which may be legitimately considered. It is even brought to bear in questions of fact, such that all things are subject to this sophistry — all things with but a single exception: the ‘rights’ claimed for themselves by minority interest groups, to which no contrary position is permitted to be expressed. Such sophism completely destroys not only knowledge, but even the possibility of knowledge.

End of philosophical digression, and back to the BBC. It was not sufficient for the good people on the Today programme to announce the publication of the Chinon parchment and set forth the significance of this document; they had to muddy the waters by introducing the fables of Dan Brown and his ilk. By bringing forth fairy tales into a discourse on an historical subject, the wretched interviewer (probably the same fool who interviewed Cormac Murphy O’Connor yesterday morning) served only to introduce confusion in the minds of his listeners, who as a consequence do not know what is true and what is false. This man was even interviewing a professional historian about the document and the Knights Templar. If she was irritated on being impeded from a scholarly discussion of the facts by the introduction of this enormous red herring, she didn’t show it, preferring instead to render a non-committal answer. Melancholicus, however, lying abed, was exasperated and punched his pillow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The centenary of Pascendi

Pascendi Dominici gregis... in September of this year has passed by very quietly, with almost no notice whatever being taken at official level of so important an encyclical.

In the time of St. Pius X, modernism was an underground movement, the adherents of which had to take careful note of what they dared say or publish. To support or promote this movement in 1910 took guts; rectors of seminaries, professors of the sacred sciences, theologians and a whole host of other clergy could be—and often were—removed from their positions on suspicion of modernism. By comparison, today’s soft modernists, who seem to have discarded every last shred of the Christian faith, have it easy. They are free to say and print what they like without fear of the consequences. Only a handful of the most egregious contemporary heretics has ever been disciplined by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in almost all instances, the punishment has been far lighter than ought to have been warranted by the offence. The doyen of heretical theologians, Hans Küng, was in 1979 deprived of the faculty to teach as a Catholic theologian. This amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist, since Küng’s teaching career was not affected; he continued to teach at the same university and as a theologian—just not as a Catholic theologian. Instead of accepting the penalty and reforming himself by abjuring his errors, Küng whined and complained—just as St. Pius X had said of the behaviour of the modernists whenever they were taken to task for their crimes—that he was being deprived of his liberty. There is no doubt, however, that Küng profited from his punishment, as his standing among the theologians of the heretical community was thereby immeasurably increased. His notoriety led to increased sales of his books. He was in ever greater demand in the secular media as a spokesman on Catholic affairs. He became one of a few privileged dissenters much sought after as a religious affairs consultant by the BBC. All in all, the trifling discipline meted out to Hans Küng only had the effect of turning him into a celebrity. To this day he is canonically a priest in good standing in the Swiss diocese of Basle.

More recently, the Sri Lankan oblate Fr Tissa Balasuriya published an heretical book which, in the words of the Sri Lankan bishops’ conference, “contained statements incompatible with the faith of the Church regarding the doctrine of revelation and its transmission, Christology, soteriology and mariology”, in other words, a medley of modernist errors. When called to task for this, Balasuriya actually dared to assert that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had falsified his position. Balasuriya continued to insist that everything he had written in his book was within the limits of orthodoxy. This was denied by the Congregation.

Melancholicus is not a trained theologian, but to his mind, if there exists such serious doubt about whether a given work is orthodox or not, then it clearly isn’t orthodox. Orthodoxy should be clearly and instantly recognisable as such. Fudging and ambiguity, both in speech and in writing, are characteristic of heresy.

Balasuriya failed to satisfy the Congregation on the disputed points and was declared in January 1997 to have incurred excommunication latae sententiae.

Guess what happened?

Balasuriya was instantly lionized by the news media, the Magisterium of the Church was ridiculed, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was singled out for special attack. The excommunication was declared lifted in 1998 after Balasuriya had signed a profession of faith, even though he had not substantially modified his position, nor had admitted to the presence of error in his writings. The most he was willing to concede was that “serious ambiguities and doctrinal errors were perceived” in his writings—yes, merely perceived; not actually there. He also regretted the fuss, stating that “the entire episode has been very painful” for him, overlooking the fact that he had caused the fuss himself by publishing his book in the first place.

Balasuriya has been restored to full communion in the Church, and he continues to poison the minds of the faithful with his errors, none of which he was obliged to recant. He wormed his way out of trouble by denying that the error was there; it only appeared to be there. So the Congregation is now widely viewed as having been mistaken, not to mention dictatorial and cruel, and Balasuriya is lauded as a hero for his stand against a tyrannical Church.

That this state of affairs should even have been possible is owing to the fact that modernism—once described by Pius X as the “synthesis of all heresies”—has in the intervening decades mushroomed to such an extent that it covers the entire Church. Not even the See of Peter is immune from its poison, as the pontificate of John Paul II bears ample witness. Modernism is so entrenched that it is now the norm; orthodox Catholicism, once the faith of the entire Church, is now a minority position, widely regarded as the banner of disobedient reactionaries and dissidents on the right. The true situation is even more dire than that, as modernism is now generally regarded as the true orthodoxy, for there is something less than Catholic about the old religion in the eyes of many of our contemporaries.

Perhaps the conduct of those responsible for vigilance against modernism in the early twentieth century was, as is often claimed, over-zealous. It may be that many clerics who were otherwise innocent suffered as a result of being suspected of modernism. Persecution is not a pleasant thing; save that today, it is the modernists who hold all the reins of power and authority, and it is the orthodox who are persecuted. The wheel has come full circle.

Far from being a mistaken endeavour that damaged the Church or that restricted the researches of theologians and Scripture scholars, the encyclical Pascendi was in 1907 a necessary intervention on behalf of the supreme pastor. It is even more relevant today. It ought to be read thoughtfully and carefully by all preparing to receive holy orders or to make religious profession. It should be mandatory reading in every seminary and house of formation. One cannot do anything to solve a problem—much less a problem with a scope as vast as that of modernism—without admitting from the first that the problem exists.

It is necessary that the Church recognize that the ‘renewal’ of the Church in the wake of Vatican II was nothing of the kind, but a disaster without precedent in ecclesiastical history. It is necessary that the council be recognized as having opened the floodgates that permitted a resurgent modernism to overwhelm the Church. In the words of the Dominican theologian J. P. van der Ploeg, “the rise of neo-modernism is historically connected with the Second Vatican Council.” We shall have no peace in ecclesia Romana until this historical fact—and it is a fact, not a matter of interpretation or perspective—is finally generally recognized.

Sancte Pie X, ora pro nobis.

This is really, really rich

Melancholicus is wryly amused, and more than just a little irritated, by the obtusity of those—and they are many—who attribute the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa to the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding artificial contraception.

This story, courtesy of Catholic World News, displays to the world the foolishness and unreason of such leftist bureaucratic functionaries as Alberto Stella. This man represents—need we be surprised?—the UN.

UN official blames Church for spread of AIDS

Tegucigalpa, Oct. 24, 2007 ( - A UN official has blamed the Catholic Church for the spread of the HIV virus in Latin America.

Alberto Stella, who coordinates UN efforts to fight AIDS in central America, complained that condom use has been “demonized” by Catholic leaders in the region. He made the remarkable claim, “I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region” if condoms were always used.

Stella told the Reuters news service that sexual abstinence programs are “not working” as a means of curtailing the spread of AIDS. He reported that teenagers are becoming sexually active, eschewing the use of condoms, and therefore contracting the infection.

UN statistics show 1.7 million people in Latin American infected with the HIV virus, with over 400,000 new infections reported last year.

If Melancholicus understands Dr Stella correctly, persons in Africa engaging in immoral sexual liaisons eschew the use of condoms since these are forbidden by the Catholic Church, and apparently for no other reason. Hence, according to his reasoning, when they contract HIV and other unpleasant infections, only the Church can be to blame for this terrible state of affairs.

Would Dr Stella care to explain to the public why these unfortunates are apparently so eager to obey the moral teachings of the Church when it comes to the use of contraceptive devices, but apparently so unwilling to submit to the teachings of the same Church when it comes to pre-marital/extra-marital sex?

Pacé Dr Stella’s outraged blusterings, Melancholicus can with confidence “guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region” if the teachings of the Church were always followed.

And as one of the commentators on the CWN website so perspicaciously observed, “it’s funny how teenagers are “becoming sexually active” in all the 3rd world countries the UN meddles with”.

*UPDATE: after a more careful reading of the original news story, Melancholicus has realised (not without a twinge of embarrassment) that Stella's discourse treated Latin America and not Africa. However, he will neither withdraw nor modify his remarks since the principle in each case is exactly the same.

A question that needs urgent confrontation

As a germane addendum to that recent “letter for peace” addressed to various Christian leaders and signed by 138 Mohammedan academics and religious representatives, comes this item from Catholic World News:

Cardinal sees difficulties in talks with Islam

Rome, Oct. 23, 2007 ( - Responding to an initiative by 138 Islamic officials, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue has welcomed a bid for talks between Christian and Muslim leaders, but warned about inevitable difficulties in that dialogue.

In an interview with the French newspaper La Croix, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran pointed out that Muslims do not accept the sort of inter-religious dialogue that Christians have come to expect. For example, he said, Muslims "will not allow in-depth discussion of the Qur'an," since they believe that the words were literally dictated by Allah, and any questioning of the text borders on blasphemy.

Because Islamic leaders refuse to discuss the fundamental basis of their beliefs, the French cardinal said, "it is difficult to discuss the content of their faith."

Cardinal Tauran said that insofar as talks with Muslims can be pursued, Christian leaders should insist that Islamic societies respect religious freedom, in the same way that the western world respects the rights of Muslims. Specifically, he said, "if they can have mosques in Europe, it is reasonable to expect them to allow churches built in their countries."

As a rule Melancholicus has no interest whatever in pursuing inter-religious “dialogue” with Muslims, especially not of the sort that the Holy See has been obsessed with since the days of Paul VI. He could not care less whether Christians and Muslims approach such dialogue with a divergent frame of reference, or whether Muslims will or will not permit historico-critical study of the Qur’an. What does it matter, anyway? Either the Church wishes ultimately to convert the Mohammedan, or she does not. If she does, then let the clergy evangelize those benighted souls. If she does not, what is the point even of “dialoguing” with them in this fashion?

Yet Cardinal Tauran raises a point that Melancholicus considers of primary importance, for it affects the lives of millions of Christian people throughout the world, specifically those who live in predominately Mohammedan societies. The first step — I repeat, the very FIRST STEP — in engaging the signatories of this letter in dialogue should be to extract guarantees from them that they will strive to the utmost of their power to secure religious liberty for all non-Muslims, and especially Christians, within their jurisdictions. If they are not willing to concede even this minimum, Christians should refuse categorically to join in such an empty and meaningless ‘dialogue’. How dare the Mohammedans expect to build mosques in Europe when in many Muslim countries new churches may not even be built, even while existing churches are destroyed by mobs of enraged hooligans? Of course the liberal European left, with its insistence on ‘multiculturalism’ and its infatuation with all kinds of minority groups, is just as much to blame for this unequal state of affairs as are the Mohammedans, insofar as the left bends over backward to appease them at every opportunity, and demanding nothing in return, even when people’s lives are at stake!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If anyone still thinks the Jesuits shouldn't be suppressed...

... they should read this book.

Fr. Becker was given the permission of his superiors to publish this work (which is available in 2 volumes) provided he made substantial cuts to the manuscript before it went to press.

The public expurgated version of Fr. Becker’s book is already a damning indictment of what happened to the Jesuit order after 1965; just imagine the extent of the dirt that he was required to cut out for publication!

However, the complete manuscript is in safe hands, and Melancholicus has it on good authority that it will appear in print after the author’s death. Once Fr. Becker passes to his eternal reward, expect to see the uncensored version here.

The time has surely come to suppress this heretical, non-Catholic order

Melancholicus deliberately refrained from commenting on the affair of the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco giving holy communion to gays in drag since so many others have addressed the issues involved so much more eloquently than he could have. But there was also another reason: Melancholicus just wasn’t interested. That the archbishop gave holy communion in direct violation of Canon Law to a pair of ridiculous individuals who were publicly expressing their support for a lifestyle of manifest grave sin by dressing in drag and mocking the consecrated life should surprise no one; what more ought we to expect from a conciliar prelate?

Even though said prelate has already admitted he was wrong to do so, and has apologized to the faithful for the scandal caused, this has not prevented a fellow cleric from leaping to his defence in the secular press. This man is a professor of Moral Theology (!) at the University of San Francisco. He is, of course, a Jesuit.

From Lifesite:

Jesuit Priest Professor Says Archbishop Was Correct in Giving Communion to Transvestite 'Nuns'

San Francisco media finally reports on communion for transvestite 'sisters' scandal

By John-Henry Westen

SAN FRANCISCO, October 17, 2007 ( - The story of the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" receiving Communion from the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco has been major news since the occurrence on October 7. However, despite the fact that the story made it to Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, the local San Francisco media refused to cover it until today.

In a separate segment, O'Reilly railed at the local media for failing to cover the story. And it seems the verbal spanking had a salutary effect.

However, the San Francisco Chronicle which published a story entitled "Archbishop apologizes for giving Communion to gays dressed as nuns," also published today a puff piece promoting the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence".

Beyond that, the Chronicle was able to find a Jesuit Catholic Priest Professor willing to come out publicly saying that giving communion to the two transvestite 'sisters' was the right thing to do. Rev. Jim Bretzke, professor of moral theology at University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic university, told the Chronicle: "While I can see Bill O'Reilly and others might be offended, the sisters do not meet the criteria the church has for denying Communion."

"The general sacramental principle is that you don't deny the sacrament to someone who requests it," said Bretzke in a statement clearly at odds with Catholic teaching on the matter as voiced recently by Pope Benedict XVI just prior to his being elected Pope.

While Bretzke admits that those who have been excommunicated cannot be given Communion, then Cardinal Ratzinger insisted that beyond excommunicated persons, those persons with "obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin" must be refused communion.

Trivializing the matter, Bretzke, who for this year is a visiting professor of theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said, "Over-accessorizing and poor taste in makeup is not an excommunicable offense . . . Even if these people were bizarrely dressed, the archbishop was following clear pastoral and canonical principles in giving them Communion. The default is, you give Holy Communion to one who presents himself."

Archbishop Niederauer himself admitted his giving Communion to the sisters was wrong. In an apology letter to Catholics after the event he wrote in reference to the 'sisters': "giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake. I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so."

Explaining, the Archbishop added: "Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them."

Far from being an anomalous fruitcake, the contemptible Bretzke is emblematic of his order, at least in the United States. But Melancholicus has no good reason to hope that the Jesuits might be in better condition elsewhere. In Ireland they flirt with heresy every bit as much as their brothers on the far side of the Atlantic; in England they have sunk to such a state of depravity that — with the exception of one or two devout and honourable souls — St. Edmund Campion and the Jesuit martyrs of the Reformation would surely disown them.

The continued existence of the Jesuit order inflicts more harm than good on the ecclesiastical body politic. Melancholicus believes the time has come for the Church to suppress this aberrant and apostatical order — although actual suppression is probably unnecessary, since the ‘renewed’ and radicalized Jesuits are hardly attracting any vocations — the inexorable march of time will be sufficient to remove them from the scene.

BBC bias

The BBC seems to be constitutionally incapable of intelligent reporting when it comes to the Catholic Church, or to any agency or individual that stands opposed to the institutionalised leftism of the the contemporary social order.

This morning on BBC Radio 4, Melancholicus heard Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor interviewed by either James Naughtie or the egregious Edward Stourton (I’m not sure which) regarding an open letter penned by the Westminster prelate and the Primate of Scotland, Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien.

Melancholicus was exasperated by the (deliberate?) obtusity of the interviewer, who (intentionally?) misunderstood the whole thrust of their eminences’ letter, and seemed to think (while knowing full well to the contrary?) that this letter heralded a ‘softening’ of the teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion.

Can it be that the BBC cannot tell the difference between a Church teaching and the manner in which said teaching is presented? The letter calls for efforts to roll back the easy availability of abortion by increments over a period of time. The interviewer did seem to be impressed by this pragmatic approach, but because the letter proceeds thus rather than urging an immediate and outright ban, he seemed to think it advocated a retreat from traditional Church teaching, even wondering aloud whether their eminences’ pragmatism would draw fire from the Vatican. The Cardinal, to his credit, was very patient in the face of all these foolish questions.

Later, this interview appeared in the ‘listen again’ section of the BBC Radio 4 website, bizarrely labelled Is the Catholic Church softening its position on abortion?

The good people at Broadcasting House may have completely internalised the culture of moral relativism and absolute autonomy of the individual, but Melancholicus can hardly believe they are stupid enough to really believe that the contents of this letter mean the Church is changing her position on abortion. On the contrary, it is not beneath the BBC to create the impression in the public mind that the Church is on the point of changing her teaching. Why would they do this? Simple. It plays into the hands of the liberal agenda. Conflicting public reports about the Church’s teaching on abortion only serve to make it more difficult for the Church to make her genuine teaching clear.

The BBC is not, and has not been for a very long time, an impartial and unbiased source of news and information on current affairs. The BBC is now little more than a mouthpiece of the culture of PC nuttiness, an organisation infatuated with Mohammedanism and buggery (strange bedfellows, those), the perceived grievances of minorities and deeply hostile to the Judeo-Christian foundations upon which western civilization is built. The BBC still has a formidable reputation in the world of media and communications; but the longer it continues to sacrifice its integrity in the relentless pursuit of the zeitgeist, that reputation will soon be lost and may well be impossible to recover.

More musings on attitudes to abortion in the UK

This just in from the BBC:

Public 'backs easier abortions'

Women should not have to gain the permission of two doctors to obtain an abortion in Britain, a slim majority of respondents to a survey have said.

Some 35% said one doctor was enough and 17% said permission should not needed at all, an independent poll carried out for the group Abortion Rights found.

A total of 83% of the 1,000 people polled saw abortion as a woman's right.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act.

Under the terms of the law, a woman must obtain the permission of two doctors before she is allowed a termination, which can be carried out up until 24 weeks.

The poll, which was carried out over the telephone by the market research group GfK NOP, is said to be the first to ask the public their thoughts on the "two doctor" rule.

The findings mirror those of a Marie Stopes International poll of GPs published earlier this month.

Over half of family doctors questioned said they thought the agreement of just one professional should be enough for an abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Both surveys follow a resolution at last summer's British Medical Association conference calling for abortions to be approved by just one doctor.

"The public clearly feels that the legislation is now out of date," said Anne Quesney, director of Abortion Rights.

"It is time for a law that trusts women to make the abortion decision and remove the need for two doctors' permission to access the procedure - a process that can lead to delays for women at a difficult time."


Broken down into age groups, the figures suggested that the youngest and the oldest have the most reservations about abortion, with 18% of 16 to 24-year-olds and 16% of the those aged 65 and over rejecting the right to a termination.

However, the majority in both groups supported abortion access.

Anti-abortion campaigner Josephine Quintavalle said the figures reflected the public's lack of understanding of what an abortion entailed.

"If there was more information and more discussion of the issues - a greater engagement with abortion - we would see attitudes change and numbers go down.

"The two doctors rule is frequently just a rubber-stamping exercise which no-one should support.

"We need to see doctors taking the time to talk through matters with the woman, not just signing off piles of forms before a patient's name is even written on the top."

This research may or may not be an accurate reflection of British public opinion on the subject of abortion. We are not told who the 1,000 persons interviewed are, or how they were selected. Neither are we given the details of the questions put to them, save for the question on the ‘two-doctor rule’. A skilled interviewer can extract the desired answers from any number of neutral subjects, simply by asking the right questions — or by asking certain questions in a particularly leading way.

But let us suppose that this research is accurate, and that 83% of a representative sample of the British public view abortion as a woman’s right. What does that tell us? Nothing, except that most Britons approve of the provision of abortion services. Of course in contemporary society, if the majority approve of a given premise, that premise is viewed as being ipso facto true. This fact — that 83% of the British public view abortion as a woman’s right — does not in itself make abortion morally licit. The notion that majority approbation renders any particular act morally good is completely erroneous, since what is false does not become true by virtue of popular consensus. Nor is the majority necessarily infallible. It simply reveals what we already know — that in the decadent and spiritually bankrupt climate of the modern west, most people are quite prepared to accept and even advocate barbarities such as abortion on demand.

If nothing else, this story proves the truth of the aphorism that if a lie is repeated often enough, most people will eventually believe it.

It is interesting, though not particularly surprising, that opposition to abortion should be concentrated among the elderly and among young adults. The elderly have had the benefit of living in a traditional, or at least a normal, society, in which basic attitudes to life and death issues had not yet been skewed by the leftism which has been so pervasive in social thinking since the 1960s. At the other end of the scale, the younger generation is beginning to react against the unrestrained permissiveness and social nihilism of their baby-boomer forebears. This reflects trends emerging in the United States, whereby the youth of today are more likely to be pro-life and pro-family in their outlook than their parents who grew up in the dislocation of the 1960s.

UK Commons Committee on Abortion Restrictions heavily biased in favour of abortion

From the redoubtable Hilary White, via Lifesite:

Committee decided to consider only science and medical subjects and avoid ethical questions

By Hilary White

LONDON, October 22, 2007 ( – The Parliamentary committee examining Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act has come under heavy criticism by some of its own members. A member of the House of Lords warned that it has been “stacked” with pro-abortion members, as well as heavily favouring the pro-abortion view in its selection of witnesses.

The Catholic Herald quotes Lord Alton of Liverpool who said, “If you only call people who have your point of view, it is obvious what conclusions you are going to come up with.”

“I think that the distorting of public policy by loading of committees of people who hold a particular view is disgraceful. We are getting perilously close to a totalitarian approach to making public policy where hearing all sides of the argument has been replaced by shrill voices trying to drown out any alternative view,” Lord Alton said.

At the end of October, Britain will face the 40th anniversary of the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act that legalised abortion up to 24 weeks for healthy children and without restriction for those children deemed by a doctor to be potentially “seriously handicapped”. Since its passage, the Act has resulted in the deaths of over six million British children.

The Committee was initially to have called 18 witnesses to give oral evidence; of these the Catholic Herald reports, 17 have “liberal” views on abortion. Protests by MP’s led to the number of pro-abortion witnesses to be reduced to 13, with a total of five who are opposed to the practice.

Dr. Bob Spink, the Conservative MP for Castle Point, Essex, who criticised the Commons Committee membership, said that it is “very much to be regretted” that it is heavily slanted to the pro-abortion side, the position heavily favoured by the governing Labour Party.

Dr. Spink also criticised the bias of most of the witnesses: “I believe that it is either by design – because somebody has fixed the committee to be pro-choice – or alternatively it could be error because people just haven’t fully appreciated the position of some of the people who have been invited to give evidence.”

Spink named Jane Fisher, the director of Ante-Natal Results and Choices, who gave evidence on Monday: “Her organisation is a signatory member of Voice for Choice, an aggressive pro-choice campaigning organisation.”

The Committee is also being hampered by its decision to restrict its consideration to science and medical subjects and avoid the ethical questions of abortion. Madeleine Davies, writing in the strongly pro-abortion Guardian newspaper called the refusal to consider ethical questions a “disingenuous” and “futile” decision that has led to chaos in the Committee chamber.

“Bringing ethics into the equation may be messy,” she wrote, “but a meaningful inquiry into abortion law cannot be conducted without it”.

“To ask whether we need a definition of ‘serious abnormality’ with regard to abortions after 24 weeks, then request that the answer steer clear of morality or ethics, strikes me as futile at best. Ask what percentage of babies is able to survive at 24 weeks and you'll hear about the percentage that survive but with severe disabilities. What do we do with this information? How can we make use of it unless within an ethical framework?”

Six million abortions in Britain since 1967! What a veritable holocaust, and yet this very morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 we had the vicious Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, celebrating (yes, she used that word herself) 40 years of the murder of the unborn!

The proponents of legal abortion will always assert it as a woman’s ‘right’ to choose what she does with her own body. But when confronted with the appalling number of terminations carried out under this cherished legislation — 200,000 annually in the UK alone — even the advocates of abortion have the good grace to be embarrassed, yet will not retreat from their position. Inevitably, they begin to fall back upon highly emotive reasons why abortion should always be legally available. The ‘hard cases’ of rape and incest are invariably trotted out to silence their opponents. But can any advocate of legal abortion seriously maintain that all, or even most, of those 200,000 terminations carried out every year in British clinics fall under the category of such ‘hard cases’? Will they not admit that the number of abortions carried out for reasons of rape, incest, grave fear, etc. is very small, and that this horrifyingly high annual figure comprises a considerable proportion of abortions for reasons of convenience, selfishness, financial hardship or just sheer thoughtlessness?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


An absolutely charming film was shown on EWTN this evening. It was an Irish-made documentary about the Cenacolo of Our Lady of Knock, in county Mayo.

This is a house in which live young men who are in the process of recovery from some horrific slavery — such as drug addiction, alcoholism and similar plagues which affect so many souls in modern society.

By the time they reach the Cenacolo, they have usually hit rock bottom and lost almost everything of value to their lives.

There they find a tough regimen which imposes some order and structure on their wrecked lives. They live what is in effect a monastic life, with a large part of their day given over to work, to prayer, and to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. And so the process of recovery begins.

Many of the inmates related that they had never prayed in their lives before coming to Cenacolo, and to see them on their knees in silence before the exposed Sacrament was especially touching.

No substances or behaviours which might tend to reinforce their addictions are permitted in the house. There is no alcohol or methadone; there is not even tobacco.

The life is remarkably Benedictine; all that is missing is the recitation of the Divine Office.

The official website of the movement which resulted in the establishment of the Cenacolo can be found here. There is unfortunately no Irish website, but interested parties may read about it on the webpage of Ballinteer parish, as well as find contact information for the house in Knock here.

Melancholicus used to be a seminarist, so he was particularly interested in the life that the brothers live in the Cenacolo, and in comparing it with his experience of the horarium of the seminary. He does not envy the struggles of a recovering drug addict; he has no idea what a hell that must be. But his heart was warmed by the sight of these poor brothers living in community, and he must confess that he misses community life, with its regularity, its hours of prayer, and its time spent before the tabernacle in silent contemplation.

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum, habitare fratres in unum — psalm 132:1

Friday, October 19, 2007

The problem with Marx...

... is that he’s such a marxist!

No, seriously... we must delcare in all honesty that marxism is inherently toxic.

Melancholicus was recently discussing the origins of socialism with his brother Conor, who is an historian. While the politics and social views of we two brothers are in many ways divergent, we are at one in our appraisal of socialism.

The conversation turned to Marx and his legacy. Conor favoured a partial exoneration of Marx on the grounds that he (Marx) could not have been aware that his political philopsophy would be the blueprint for terror and murder on a global scale. But now, ploughing with mounting horror through Marx’s cold-blooded and merciless prose, Melancholicus cannot but declare that Marx must have known exactly what he was doing.

Yes, Melancholicus is now reading the Communist Manifesto. It was presented to him for study in philosophy class in seminary, but owing to sloth and human weakness he failed to read it. Now he is reading it for the first time, and — proh dolor! — it is even more blood-curdling than he feared it would be.

This is not the place for a detailed philosophical dissection of the manifesto; suffice it to say that many of Marx’s prescriptions for the communist utopia are so contrary to human rights and even to human nature that there is no doubt they could not have been implemented without the application to society of extraordinary violence.

This violence, to the communist, would be good and moral, because it would usher in the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The “proletariat”, of course, is a philosophical concept. Let us not confuse Marx’s proletariat with any person or group of persons, since no persons whatever have any rights in the communist system. Should a working man express a grievance, or complain that some aspect of the system simply does not work, he becomes thereby a counter-revolutionary and therefore a legitimate target for execution.

Communism is ultimately an expression of the belief that something is if I say it is. Marx attempts, in the pages of this obnoxious document, to decree into existence a new order of being, a new reality, where the laws of nature (at least as they concern man) are altogether different from the laws of nature as ordered by reality.

Therefore we cannot exonerate Marx, as though he could not have forseen the crimes committed in his name by over-zealous disciples. He could not have failed to know, by dint of sheer common sense if by nothing else, how the utopia of the workers would be brought into being, and how it would be sustained, were his ideas implemented in practice. He cites previous revolutionary upheavals; he was not ignorant that common to all these upheavals was a vast amount of bloodletting.

Further to the point, we cannot exonerate those persons alive today, who, upon reading the bloodthirsty text of the Communist Manifesto, and with the hindsight of nearly a century of communist violence and terror to warn them of the consequences, still persist in believing that Marx’s ideas will bring about an earthly utopia — if only they can be correctly implemented! — rather than the precise opposite, and that in the pages of Marx one finds the magic pill which will cure all the social, economic and political ills of mankind.

All historical precedent has shown that any attempt to create heaven on earth is doomed from the beginning to abject failure, and the more fervently one strives for an earthly heaven, the closer one comes to realizing an earthly hell.

Populorum Progressio, and more fluff from the hierarchy

Irish prelate urges idealism in politics

New York, Oct. 18, 2007 ( - Pope Paul VI would support the work of the UN, but would also press for reform of the international body, if he were alive today. That was the message brought to the UN headquarters in New York by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland.

In his talk at a UN conference marking the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul's encyclical, Populorum Progressio, the Irish archbishop said that the papal document was aimed at "establishing a new way of looking at the relationship between the Church and the world." "Were Pope Paul here with us today he would certainly be saying thanks to all those who have given themselves in the service of humanity within the UN system," Archbishop Martin said. "He would surely also certainly be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform."

The archbishop called for a "new revival" in political life, to be led by "a new generation of politicians inspired by ideals, but also capable of taking the risks involved in transmitting those ideals into the possible."

This is a news story? It says nothing. The grand-sounding words of archbishop Martin likewise say nothing. What, precisely, is the political “idealism” that the archbishop is urging? After all, your grace, idealism is not wanting even among the socialists, but we don’t want to encourage them now, do we? Furthermore, what does your grace mean by “new revival” in political life? What are the “ideals” to which your grace refers? They can be anything the archbishop’s hearers/readers want them to be. Melancholicus finds this deplorable. In post-conciliar times the ecclesia docens has perfected to a fine art the practice of using as lofty and elevated a discourse as possible while not actually teaching anything. This reduction of the Church’s teaching role to vacuous soundbites devoid of actual content is one of the most deplorable features of the malaise that grips the conciliar church, and which distinguishes the latter from the Catholic Church. Solid, precise teaching is a characteristic of the Catholic religion. Vague and grandiose utterances devoid of meaning are a characteristic of the new religion.

Populorum Progressio is one of the more ‘difficult’ papal encyclicals of modern times, and it is best to let it die a quiet death than to resurrect it now. We would do much better to base Catholic political theory instead on Quas Primas, but where can be found today the prelates who have the courage to address the impious United Nations with the teaching of that magisterial document?

The full text of archbishop Martin’s address to the UN can be read here.

Restoring Tradition: Pope Benedict's initiative on sacred music

News from Sandro Magister’s Chiesa:

Melancholicus remembers with a vivid clarity that momentous day of the 19th April 2005, when he saw Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica to announce to the world that the 266th successor of St. Peter had been elected to succeed the late John Paul II. He remembers the unbearable tension before his eminence named the new pope; he remembers the tremendous shout of his fellow seminarists as the community leapt to their feet as one man, cheering and applauding, and he remembers afterwards weeping with a mixture of joy and relief. The results of the conclave might have been very different, but almighty God had not forgotten his Church, which for forty years had suffered unremittingly from the torments of the devils unleashed at the council.

He has been only two years in office, but already there is a sense of a change in the air. A glimmer of light can be seen in the east, and we wonder in hope if it might be the light of dawn, at long last, after forty years of night—and what a night it has been, impenetrable and inky black. When the name of the new pope-elect had been announced, we were all delighted: Benedict XVI. A traditional name. A pre-conciliar name. Many of us privately thanked God that he had not called himself John, or Paul, or John Paul. Before the conclave Melancholicus was resigned, without much hope, to the gloomy reign of a John Paul III, one which would be every bit as much business as usual, and every bit as damaging to the Church as the previous pontificate. He muttered as much, in a spirit of sour discontent, to his brethren in the days leading up to the election of the new pope. He was never so blissfully happy—nor so tremendously relieved—when the Holy Ghost proved him wrong.

The Holy Father has been slowly, painstakingly and with great care trying to repair some of the damage done to Christ’s holy Church over the previous four pontificates. Melancholicus is relieved that at last we have a pope who understands the liturgy — a subject of which his predecessor apparently was ignorant — and who appreciates how important to the inculcation of the faith is right order and praxis in the celebration of the liturgy.

How encouraging have been the Holy Father’s first steps in reforming the mess that is the post-conciliar Mass! A new translation of the Roman Missal is currently in preparation, a translation faithful to the Latin original and correcting the errors of the 1970 ICELese foisted by the liturgical revolution upon English-speaking Catholics throughout the world. We hope too that this new translation, when it appears, will be beautiful, especially since the current translation of the Mass is so pedestrian and banal.

Furthermore, what words of ours can possibly do justice to the Holy Father’s generosity in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, in which he gave to the Church an inestimable gift, namely the restoration of the traditional Roman rite of the Mass, which, in the face of so much opposition from corrupt and worldly episcopates throughout the world, demonstrates his tremendous pastoral concern for the spiritual welfare of those who love the Church?

Now the Holy Father seeks to restore the majestic musical heritage of holy Church to its proper place. The Roman curia will have a new office with authority in the field of sacred music, and the choir of the Sistine Chapel will receive a new director, to foster the rebirth of sacred music:

The first of these events took place on Monday, October 8. On that morning, Benedict XVI held an audience with the "chapter" of Saint Peter's basilica – meaning the bishops and priests who, together with the archpriest of the basilica, Angelo Comastri, celebrate Mass and solemn Vespers each Sunday in the most famous church in the Christian world.

The pope reminded them that "it is necessary that, beside the tomb of Peter, there be a stable community of prayer to guarantee continuity with tradition."

This tradition goes back "to the time of Saint Gregory the Great," the pope whose name was given to the liturgical chant characteristic of the Latin Church, Gregorian chant.

One example the pope gave to the chapter of St. Peter's was the celebration of the liturgy at the abbey of Heiligenkreutz, the flourishing monastery he had visited just a few weeks earlier in Austria.

In effect, since just over a year ago, Gregorian chant has been restored as the primary form of singing for Mass and solemn Vespers in Saint Peter's basilica.

The rebirth of Gregorian chant at St. Peter's coincided with the appointment of a new choir director, who was chosen by the basilica chapter in February of 2006.

The new director, Pierre Paul, a Canadian and an Oblate of the Virgin Mary, has made a clean break with the practice established during the pontificate of John Paul II – and reaffirmed by the previous director, Pablo Colino – of bringing to sing at the Masses in St. Peter's the most disparate choirs, drawn from all over the world, very uneven in quality and often inadequate.

Fr. Paul put the gradual and the antiphonal back into the hands of his singers, and taught them to sing Mass and Vespers in pure Gregorian chant. The faithful are also provided with booklets with the Gregorian notation for Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and the translation of the texts in Italian, English, and Spanish. The results are liturgically exemplary celebrations, with increasing participation from a growing number of faithful from many nations.

There's still much to do to bring back to life in St. Peter's what was, in ancient times, the Cappella Giulia – the choir specifically founded for the basilica – and to revive the splendors of the Roman musical style, a style in which the sacred polyphony pioneered by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Gregorian chant, also sung in the Roman manner (virile and strong, not like the monastic models inspired by Solesmes), alternate and enrich each other.

But there has been a new beginning. And Benedict XVI wanted to tell the chapter that this is the right path.

Deo Gratias. Ad multos annos, Most Holy Father!

Consistory report: Armagh to be elevated to the sacred college

The Archbishop of Armagh, Seán BradyThis just in from Catholic World News.

A papal consistory will be held on 24th November, at which 23 new cardinals will be elevated to the sacred college by Benedict XVI. Of Irish interest is the fact that the archbishop of Armagh, successor of St. Patrick and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Rev. Seán Brady, will be among them.

Once Archbishop Brady receives his red hat, Ireland will have three cardinals — Brady, his retired predecessor Cathal Daly and the former archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, although of the three, Brady is the only one under the age of 80 and hence eligible to participate in the next conclave.

Melancholicus wonders if this is the first time in history that there will be three living cardinals in Ireland. Perhaps one of his kind readers (if he has any) would care to enlighten him.

Some people never learn...

Unfortunately the scanner could not cope with the full-size image: socialists like their flyers to be as large and visible as possible, so the original was printed on A3 paper. Melancholicus’ scanner can only deal with A4 documents, so a goodly portion of the image has had to be cut away. The blurb at the top announces a “4oth anniversary public meeting”. The box at the bottom provides the time and venue of said meeting, which took place in the same building of the university where Melancholicus works.

This eulogy of a man who was a deranged and bloodstained ideologue was organised by the Socialist Party, whose very frightening website can be viewed here (caveat lector). Until the recent general election, this communist organisation actually had representation in the Dáil, in the person of Joe Higgins (a former seminarist, incidentally, which background he shares with Melancholicus — but there the resemblance between us ends). In this year’s election, however, Higgins failed to retain his seat, and his party is once more consigned to the political wilderness. Te Deum laudamus...

The meeting advertised took place yesterday while Melancholicus was meditating on St. Luke, so he is unable to report on how well attended this left-wing gathering was, or on what was said. But that it took place at all should be a sobering reminder to all who value liberty and independence that the forces of oppression, violence and revolution are still at work in the world. The red enemy has not gone away; he is merely waiting for a more opportune time to reveal himself in his true colours. While some of us might be tempted to laugh at the buffoonery that is socialism, and to mock the tiny handful of true believers that still consider the deranged rantings of Marx and Lenin to be the answer to every social and economic ill that has plagued the world since the dawn of civilization, we would do better to treat these people and their agenda seriously, not deride them as the relics of a utopian political experiment that has failed miserably in every society in which it has been tried. That socialism has failed consistently since it was first hatched in the brains of madmen is evident; that some people will continue to cling to an ideology which has been proven false time and time again seems to be a sad reality; but we must never forget that, however weak socialism may become in the wax and wane of political life, it continues to desire power and control over every aspect of human existence from conception to death (and even beyond: socialism is aggressively atheistic, and wishes to deny even the possibility of an afterlife to those in its unmerciful grip). Melancholicus wishes to warn his readers: Socialism is inherently totalitarian. It is in and of itself a tyrannical and inhuman ideology. Should anyone desire proof of this assertion, they have only to review the track record of socialism in the twentieth century. No other political system (with the possible exception of the ideologues of the Third Reich) has come so close to such an absolute denial of human rights and the dehumanization of entire societies, as we see in socialism. The repeated efforts to put the philosophies of Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin into practice have resulted only in poverty, oppression, misery and death — death on a mass scale, unparalleled in the number of its victims by any other system of oppression in world history.

The socialists have an answer to this charge, of course. They have to have an answer to so grave a charge, or there would be no justification in continuing. They blame the excesses of communist government on this man, who is a convenient scapegoat for the red left — they can dismiss as one man’s baleful influence what in reality is typical of the system as a whole. Joseph Stalin was not an aberration of socialism; he was not socialism gone astray, as it were. Rather, he was socialism brought to its logical plenitude. To deny this is to be ignorant of history, or else cold-bloodedly mendacious.

Anyway, back to Guevara. The Socialist Party has organised a public meeting. Melancholicus even saw flyers affixed to lamp-posts in Dublin city centre, advertising similar gatherings devoted to examining how the ‘legacy’ of Guevara is still ‘relevant today’. The word ‘revolution’ always appears openly and unapologetically on these advertisements. We can see that the socialists are quite unrepentant, and have not changed their tune one iota since the days of Stalin, Mao and Guevara. Guevara is held up, not as an aberration to be avoided, but as an example to be imitated. Of course the socialists will ‘spin’ their hero, so as to make him attractive to the soft leftists of today, people such as George Hook and Jim Fitzpatrick. Only those details of his biography which render him sympathetic to contemporary sensibilities will be aired; his championing of the rights of the poor, his opposition to the Battista regime, and of course the happy manner of his martyr’s death — which last ensures that the cult of Che will continue long into the future, for every movement needs its martyrs. There will be no mention of his murders, or the time he spent as commander of the La Cabana fortress, imprisoning and shooting men and women without even a pretence of the procedure of law. There will be no mention of the violence and terror visited by this romantic revolutionary on hundreds of ordinary innocent Cubans.

Now let us examine the scene in another way. Suppose flyers should be posted up in the streets and in the hallowed halls of academia announcing a public meeting to assess, in a positive and sympathetic light, the political legacy of, say, Reinhard Heydrich or Adolf Eichmann. What would happen? Would the good people of Dublin simply pass by, going about their personal business as though these flyers advertised nothing less innocuous than a pop concert? Would the staff and students of the university wherein Melancholicus earns his crust permit such flyers to be exhibited publicly on university property?

Of course not. There would be an outcry. The Gardaí would remove the flyers immediately and arrest those who posted them. There would be a spate of horrified correspondence on the letters page of The Irish Times. The incident would be aired and condemned on the RTÉ news. It would appear, with equal condemnation, on Prime Time and on Questions & Answers. The Taoiseach, and even the President, would feel it necessary to make a public statement condemning the flyers and the meeting they advertised. The meeting, for its part, would not be permitted to take place. The whole affair would probably attract the attention of British, and perhaps even continental, news sources. And why?

Because Heydrich and Eichmann were active representatives of a regime which wrought brutal murder and mass slaughter on a scale never before seen, all in the name of a warped racial ideology. The organisation to which they belonged is, since 1945 if not before, considered synonymous with evil.

But Guevara was an active representative of a similarly brutal and murderous regime — which kills not in the name of racial superiority, but of class struggle. Why is murder in the name of class struggle morally acceptable, while murder in the name of race struggle is not?

Surely it is a reprehensible thing to commit murder, irrespective of racial or political ideology. But why does the public exhibition of flyers extolling Guevara as a hero not excite in our people the same revulsion they would surely feel on seeing similar flyers lauding Heydrich or Eichmann?

Why in our society are the death-mongers of the left given a free pass?