Monday, November 17, 2008

The hypocrites

This adorable little boy, an innocent just 17 months old, died in north London in August 2007 after horrendous abuse amounting to torture inflicted by his mother and two men. His case has only recently hit the headlines.

Questions are being asked about why child protection services failed to prevent Baby P’s death even though he had received 60 visits from the authorities over eight months of his short little life and was known to be at risk.

The good people of modern British society are appalled and angry, and rightly so; Melancholicus shares their outrage.

Honourable Members are likewise expostulating, and stamping their feet. Melancholicus wonders why they bother. Are they blind, or merely stupid?

Because two years before August 2007, Baby P was alive, though not yet born. His mother could at that time have killed him—in a procedure amounting to torture—with the full backing of the law.

Had she chosen to do so, Baby P’s violent death would not have been a matter for the newspapers and for the good people of modern British society to wag their tongues in disapproval. Instead, he would have been a statistic unnoticed save by those who strive to defend the unborn from a brutal fate in the local abortuary.

Some of the more intemperate and less restrained members of the public have issued threats of violence against Baby P’s mother. Yet, had she killed her son two years before, it is likely that the same persons now calling for her head would have defended to the utmost her “right” to “choose”.

A sense of perspective is in order.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The German side

German soldiers of the Great War pay their last respects to a fallen comrade

German cemetary on the Somme at Fricourt

This story from today’s Irish Times is pathetic in its poignancy:

German Great War dead lack any official commemoration


TOWARDS THE end of January, German newspapers reported, three weeks late, the death on January 1st of the last German veteran of the Great War.

Erich Kästner, who died aged 108, was just 18 when he joined the Imperial Army in July 1918, four months before the end of the war.

He served on the Western Front but the only way anyone knew a veteran had died was through the family's newspaper death notice.

While Britain, France and now even Ireland will today remember those who fought and died in the Great War, 90 years on, the men who fought in Kaiser Wilhelm's Imperial Army remain trapped in a memory hole.

There is no central record of veterans, no German equivalent of the Cenotaph - and no poppies.

There will be no official remembrance ceremony today, nor is there a plan to initiate one.

"The first war lies buried under the ruins left by the second," said Fritz Kirchmeier of the German War Graves Association.

The sheer scale of the destruction and suffering caused by the second World War has coloured German attitudes to the Great War. For many, it toppled a few monarchies, including in Germany, but had far fewer visible consequences than Hitler's war.

It is down to a series of vicious circles. The short, dramatic life of the Weimar Republic left little time for discussion of the consequences of the Great War before the country plunged into the Third Reich.

Today, the lack of public interest in the Great War means there is no official impulse to change the situation. Not remembering the war and its veterans has created a nervousness about how and where to start.

"And there's the far-right groups who come out and say the second World War was the result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles," said Dr Bernhard Chiari of the Military History Research Institute. "That creates an uneasy connection between the two conflicts and leaves people unwilling to touch the Great War."

There are an estimated 400 German military graveyards from the Great War. Half of them are in France, with others as far away as Turkey and Israel. Six veterans are buried in a cemetery in Glencree, along with 128 other Germans who died in the second World War.

The German War Graves Association says it has taken a record number of orders from families for wreaths to be laid on graves today: 300 out of an estimated 1.8 million dead.

"I was amazed to have so many," said Mr Kirchmeier.

"Regardless of the official view here, for many German families there is still a connection."

© 2008 The Irish Times

Marshal Foch on the Irish soldiers of the Great War

PARIS, FRIDAY, Nov. 9th, 1928

“THE Heroic Dead of Ireland have every right to the homage of the living for they proved in some of the heaviest fighting of the world war that the unconquerable spirit of the Irish race—the spirit that has placed them among the world’s greatest soldiers—still lives and is stronger than ever it was.

I had occasions to put to the test the valour of the Irishmen serving in France, and, whether they were Irishmen from the North or the South, or from one party or another, they did not fail me.

Some of the hardest fighting in the terrible days that followed the last offensive of the Germans fell to the Irishmen, and some of their splendid regiments had to endure ordeals that might justly have taxed to breaking-point the capacity of the finest troops in the world.


Never once did the Irish fail me in those terrible days. On the Somme, in 1916, I saw the heroism of the Irishmen of the North and South, I arrived on the scene shortly after the death of that very gallant Irish gentleman, Major William Redmond. I saw Irishmen of the North and. the South forget their age-long differences, and fight side by side, giving their lives freely for the common cause.

In war there are times when the necessity for yielding up one’s life is the most urgent duty of the moment, and there were many such moments in our long drawn-out struggle. Those Irish heroes gave their lives freely, and, in honouring then I hope we shall not allow our grief to let us forgot our pride in the glorious heroism of these men.

They have left to those who come after a glorious heritage and an inspiration to duty that will live long after their names are forgotten. France will never forget her debt to the heroic Irish dead, and in the hearts of the French people to-day their memory lives as that of the memory of the heroes of old, preserved in the tales that the old people tell to their children and their children’s children.


I know of no better tribute to Irish valour than that paid after the armistice by one of the German High Command, whom I had known in happier days. I asked him if he could tell me when he had first noted the declining morale of his own troops, and he replied that it was after the picked troops under his command had had repeated experience of meeting the dauntless Irish troops who opposed them in the last great push that was expected to separate the British and French armies, and give the enemy their long-sought victory.

The Irishmen had endured such constant attacks that it was thought that they must be utterly demoralised, but always they seemed to find new energy with which to attack their assailants, and in the end the flower of the German Army withered and faded away as an effective force.


When the moment came for taking the offensive all along our line, it was these same worn Irish troops that we placed in the van, making call after call on their devotion, but never finding them fail us. In the critical days of the German offensive, when it was necessary that lives should be sacrificed by the thousand to slow down the rush of the enemy, in order that our harassed forces should have time to reform, it was on the Irish that we relied repeatedly to make these desperate stands, and we found them responding always.

Again and again, when the bravest were necessary to delay the enemy’s advance, it was the Irish who were ready and at all times the soldiers of Ireland fought with the rare courage and determination that has always characterised the race on the battlefield.


Some of the flower of Irish chivalry rests in the cemeteries that have been reserved in France, and the French people will always have these reminders of the debt that France owes to Irish valour. We shall always see that the graves of these heroes from across the sea are lovingly tended, and we shall try to ensure that the generations that come after us shall never forget the heroic dead of Ireland.”

Quoted from the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme (pp 23-24) at the Department of the Taoiseach.


The eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month saw the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Great War pass by.

For (now somewhat irrelevant) historical reasons, it is not usual in Ireland to commemorate the Great War or to remember the fallen, even though around 140,000 Irishmen enlisted for service in the British armed forces between 1914 and 1918, at least 35,000 of whom lost their lives.

There is still no shortage of angry republicans who bitterly oppose the notion of honouring the dead of the World Wars in this country lest honour be inadvertently given to things or persons British—witness some of the savage and small-souled responses to this perfectly reasonable suggestion; alas that we must still deal with that mentality, the same irrational loathing of Britain which made Ireland a haven for fleeing axis henchmen in the aftermath of World War II and led then Taoiseach Éamonn De Valera to sign a book of condolences for the death of Adolf Hitler.

But I am not of that ilk, for every day this week I am proudly wearing a poppy in the breast pocket of my jacket.

Today I remember one young man in particular, for he was of my mother’s family, and is to my knowledge our only relation who was slain in the carnage of a World War.

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Roche. She came from Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland and was born in December 1910. I never knew her, for she died in 1970, before I was born. In 1995 I was clearing out the basement of my parents’ family home in Greystones and in the process discovered several interesting artefacts, one of which was a prayer book once owned by my grandmother and which, after the custom of her time, was bursting at the seams with holy cards and prayer cards commemorating deceased friends and members of the family. Among these commemorations was a card for a Private William Roche, of the 2nd battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. He was killed in action in France on 24 May 1915. Pt. Roche was 26 years old when he fell. I succeeded in tracking him down on the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (certificate here), and I will not have his memory dishonoured by uncivilised, foul-mouthed, far-left, Republican Sinn Féin types. His name is on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres; sadly, there is no cemetery information provided, hence I conclude the location of his grave must be unknown. He is probably buried under one of the many headstones inscribed with the tragic legend “A Soldier of the Great War / Known Unto God”.

May his soul, and the souls of all who fell in the carnage of two World Wars, find rest, consolation and peace at the right hand of almighty God.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So much for balance

The Irish media likes to think of itself as serenely balanced between opposing extremes, and that impartiality is its greatest virtue.

Such self-flattery is not restricted to those who work in broadcasting or for the newspapers, but it seems nonetheless to abound in that profession to an extraordinary degree.

The profoundly overrated Modern Man, writing for the profoundly overrated Irish Times—which takes itself far too seriously—cannot draft an article in which he is seen to take a side. All bases must be covered; no pro may be considered unless equal weight is likewise given to the contra. As a result his readers will never find him reaching anything like a firm conclusion on any subject whatsoever (unless of course some sacred cow of liberalism is at stake, whereat he will marshall all his powers of sophistry and wordcraft in its defence).

One finds a similar approach whenever a contentious issue is debated on the radio; the presenters of current affairs programmes will entertain two guests simultaneously, each approaching the matter from a different and often mutually antagonistic perspective in a perfectly balanced Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But if the subject under discussion entrenches near upon some issue dear to the heart of the liberal agenda, the pretence of impartiality is dropped at once, whereat every stratagem and every weapon to hand is immediately employed to the end that the evil reactionary opposition might be beaten back.

A ripe example of this occurred yesterday evening, in the aftermath of Cardinal Brady’s speech to the Céifin conference on the family. Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1 took a break from its relentless plugging of the Obamessiah to rally the troops against a sinister attempt by the evil, backward, reactionary Church to promote a rigid opposition to the proposed Civil Partnership Bill. As usual, Mary Wilson had two guests; these were Colm O’Gorman, director of Amnesty International Ireland, and Karen Kiernan, director of One Family. Both were highly critical of the Cardinal’s speech and of the teaching of the Church on marriage, sexuality and the family. Melancholicus wonders who selected the guests, but they were obviously chosen with care so as not to upset the liberal status quo and, with that end in mind, they fulfilled their function admirably.

Was RTÉ not able to find anyone to speak on the Cardinal’s behalf, or to argue his case?

Or is it a case that they were unwilling?

Game over

Consummatum est: It is finished.

The American people have spoken. They have chosen the Man of Sin. Now it is time for them to be punished. I solemnly prophesy that they will rue the day, and that probably sooner rather than later.

This is a great victory for left-wing radicalism, for the culture of death, and for the devil. The Peter Singers of this world, the abortionists, the eugenicists, the homosex activists, the socialists and the tree-huggers have all secured the election of their man. Every demented lunatic, within and without the United States, will be celebrating. In political terms it is as revolutionary an upheaval as when Liénart, on his own authority, grabbed the microphone in St. Peter’s basilica and so set the course of the Second Vatican Council on a trajectory towards chaos—the catastrophic results of which are today a matter of the historical record.

Melancholicus has not listened to the news, for he cannot endure the boorish braying of the liberal media drunk on victory, nor the self-satisfied smugness of the likes of RTÉ and the Irish Independent. He was informed of the unhappy event by his fiancée, from whom he received a text message at 6:20 this morning.

He shall not waste words congratulating the winner, or commiserating with the loser; suffice it to remark that with this election the culture wars have entered an entirely new phase and indeed, have stepped up a gear.

There is nothing that can be done about the present, which is a given. But the future is a matter for much prayer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Breviarium Romanum

Even after baptism, the soul of man is afflicted with three obnoxious evils, namely the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Well the concupiscence of the eyes has definitely been aroused in Melancholicus since his discovery of this marvellous resource, namely a brand spanking new two-volume edition of the Breviarium Romanum — new in the sense of newly printed and bound, not in the sense of liturgically ‘renewed’, which means it’s safe for Catholics to use. It is the Johannine (1960) edition, of course.

Melancholicus already has the two-volume set of the traditional Roman Breviary given him by the FSSP on the occasion of his tonsure in October 2003, bearing the imprimatur of James Timlin, then bishop of Scranton. He has sometimes wondered if he ought not to part with it and donate it to some needy seminarist who will make more extensive use of it than Melancholicus does himself. But those two volumes are filled with such personal significance and so many memories (some of them good!) that Melancholicus cannot see himself ever returning them to their source. He will bequeathe them to his grandchildren, or if God wills that he should sire a son who will one day receive sacred ordination, he will be honoured to pass his breviary on to him. Besides, this edition is apparently now out of print, which fact makes its retention doubly desirable.

But now a new edition of this venerable liturgical book is about to be released by the German publisher Nova et Vetera. If, gentle reader, you visit their website, be warned. There are lots of pretty pictures of the new breviary and its contents and if, like Melancholicus, you have a weakness for beautifully-appointed liturgical books, you may find yourself placing an order.

At least Melancholicus has not done so himself... he will restrain the concupiscence of the eyes on this occasion, not least because the new edition costs nearly €200 and he is supposed to be saving for his wedding. His fiancée would not rejoice over such an unnecessary outlay.

H/T to Fr. Finigan, on whose blog Melancholicus first discovered this treasure.

The Catholic vote

Today is the day. Within 24 hours it should all be over bar the shouting.

In the meantime, Melancholicus found himself wondering how US Catholics would vote in this election. He has his answer now, courtesy of this report from Catholic News Agency:

New poll shows 13 point McCain lead among Catholics

Los Angeles, Nov 3, 2008 / 05:43 pm (CNA) As the Tuesday elections approach, a new tracking poll from the Investor's Business Daily shows Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama among Catholics by 51 percent to 38 percent.

Among all voters, Obama leads McCain 46.7 percent to 44.6 percent. Among Protestants, McCain leads 55 to 36 percent.

The October 29-November 1 poll of 844 likely voters was conducted by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP) and claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. TIPP was named the most accurate pollster of the 2004 election for coming within three tenths of a percentage point of George W. Bush's actual margin of victory.

Melancholicus would really like to know who these “Protestants” are whose support for Obama is so hearteningly low, and which puts their Catholic cousins to shame. Baptists and evangelical Christians most likely, since the mainstream protestant churches have long since defected to the camp of the enemy and embraced the pro-death agenda with enthusiasm. Nevertheless, Melancholicus is genuinely surprised that more Catholics oppose Obama than support him; some of the faithful have been listening to some of their bishops, at least in sufficient numbers to put McCain ahead in the polls.

Melancholicus still does not have much faith in the Catholic vote in this election, for at least as many of his co-religionists are swayed by the mesmeric propaganda of the proponents of “change” as are swayed by the guidance of the bishops. In terms of political and social views, American Catholics are by and large no different from their non-Catholic peers. American Catholics cheerfully contracept, abort, divorce, support homosex and consume pornography with the same alacrity as do the secularists. The moral tenor of American Catholicism is much enfeebled in our time. But we must not blame the faithful for this miserable state of affairs; the Catholic community is secularised precisely because forty years under the misrule of Amchurch have secularised it. Large numbers of the faithful hold to erroneous views in large measure because egregious Amchurch bishops and their lackeys in the priesthood and in chancellery bureaucracies have led them purposefully astray. Let us not make the mistake of citing ambiguities such as ‘social factors’ or ‘cultural influences’ for this precipitous decline in both faith and morals; the buck stops with those responsible in the first place for the cure of souls, namely the clergy and the episcopate.

It is just to laud Edward Egan and Charles Chaput for their public defence of life and their spirited opposition to the culture of death represented by the likes of Obama and his allegedly ‘Catholic’ running mate; but with their brothers talking out of both sides of their mouths one can hardly blame the lay faithful for being confused.

Catholics make up a considerable segment of the American population, and if they had a tradition of voting en bloc in these elections, Roe v. Wade would have been overturned years ago, the Democratic party would have been forced by sheer political necessity to abandon its cherished pro-death stance, and sundry other Catholic considerations would have been taken care of in the meantime. But alas, they do not do so. The misrule of Amchurch has bequeathed us a situation in which 38% of American Catholics are fully prepared to cast a vote for a candidate who stands for extreme forms of social radicalism. There is even a lobby group called Catholics for Obama; these maintain a dreary website here; also look at this, an oxymoron if ever there were one. Or perhaps just a moron. They must think we’re morons if they think we’re prepared to swallow such propaganda. Were he an American citizen, Melancholicus would not be able to reconcile his conscience with a vote for Obama, and perforce would vote for McCain (or, failing that, for an independent).

But at this point, with Obama leading in the polls, a vote for McCain is as much a vote against Obama as for McCain, so Catholics do not really have the luxury of voting for their favourite independent if they wish to keep the Man of Sin out of office.

We shall know this time tomorrow if we have been successful.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Plumbing the depths

A silly woman writing in last Saturday’s Irish Independent on the recent decision by University College Cork to permit embryonic stem cell research:

“The college has vowed that its research will be carried out under strict ethical guidelines. Each project must first seek the approval of the University Research Ethics Board and scientists will only be allowed to work on embryos imported from approved sources in other jurisdictions.”

Ah, only embryos from approved sources. Thank goodness! For a minute I was afraid something unethical might be afoot.

Now, gentle reader, imagine a similar newspaper article from the 1940s, which might have read

“The institute has vowed that its research will be carried out under strict ethical guidelines. Each project must first seek the approval of the Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete and scientists will only be allowed to experiment on Jews imported from approved sources in other jurisdictions.”

The only difference is that the Nazis weren’t able to sugar-coat it like these moderns can. Embryos are very small; difficult to make much of a Schindler’s list out of them.

Give my head peace

ObamessiahTomorrow the citizens of the United States of America shall vote for their favoured candidate in the presidential election, although some will doubtless vote not for a particular favourite but for the lesser of two evils.

Melancholicus will be heartily glad once the wretched election is over, the result has been announced and the inevitable squawking and flapping in its wake has finally died down. For at this stage he is heartily sick of hearing about it, every imaginable news medium being saturated with detailed coverage of every move and counter-move, every speech, every act, every prank, every embarrassment or potential embarrassment, the colours of their ties, Sarah Palin’s shoes... good Lord, is there no end to this wretched circus?

But that which irks Melancholicus more than anything else is the totally unapologetic, blatant, in-your-face bias of the Irish media, a bias which has completely polarised the understanding of the Irish public with respect to the merits and demerits of the candidates; across the water, an identical bias is unmistakable among those who broadcast for the BBC and similar outlets.

This is surely illustrative of how completely dominated are media in the comtemporary west by left-wing fanaticism.

For if Barack Obama were standing in Ireland, he would be elected in a landslide. Melancholicus is at a loss to know why the Irish generally are so keen on Obama; he surmises that Obama must represent to them the fullest embodiment of the thoroughly secularised post-enlightenment Weltanschauung, in contrast to what is perceived as the reactionary, hide-bound, backward, even religious world-view of those who vote Republican. For if there is anything universally loathed by the great and the good in modern Irish society, it is religion—or at least a religion that is taken seriously enough to affect one’s approach to political office.

Of course socialism is a religion in itself, and a dangerous one at that, but in the current climate that it hardly likely to do Obama anything like the harm that Sarah Palin has suffered from her adherence to Christianity.

The relentless gushing on the airwaves about Obama’s countless virtues does have the effect of making him seem attractive to the untutored listener, who cannot be expected to distinguish fact from hagiographic propaganda, or to recognise the consequences that must inevitably issue from this or that particular policy. Similarly, though Melancholicus does not have much time for the Republican ticket either, he must conclude that continuous and concerted media hostility directed at the vice-presidential candidate has made her look infinitely more ridiculous than she must surely be in reality.

But as far as Obama is concerned, Melancholicus is amazed that no Irish news medium has seen fit even to notice the fifty-ton elephant in the room, namely Obama’s voting record on life issues, and his unequivocal support for abortion—which is a good deal more than merely support for abortion.

For Barack Obama is the single most anti-life politician that Melancholicus has ever encountered. He is not one of these lily-livered tortured souls trying to steer a fine line between the Catholic bishops and the liberal left; his anti-life stance is firm and unequivocal. Abortion on demand, for any reason whatever, at any time of gestation; partial-birth abortion; even infanticide. Obama even goes so far as to oppose allowing babies who survive the abortion procedure to live. The man’s view of human life at its beginnings is so thoroughly twisted that Melancholicus cannot doubt its serious implications for the continuance of Roe v. Wade, the heavy toll in innocent blood that will be spilled, or the further erosion of the right to life extended to the elderly, the infirm, the sick, the mentally incapacitated... the list goes on.

Are they really at peace with this, those smug, cocksure Irish journalists that beam out their support for Obama every day of the week in the newspapers and on the airwaves? Can it be that they are ignorant of it? Or do they simply not care?

The right to life must surely be the most fundamental of all human rights, for it seems to me that if one has no right at least to life, one has no business claiming any other rights either.

Melancholicus does not believe Obama to be literally the “Man of Sin”, heralding the imminent collapse of what little is left of civilisation; but he is no Messiah either. At best Obama is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and his presidency will see to it that our inverted society not merely remains inverted, but becomes more so.

As Melancholicus must relocate to the left coast of the United States after his marriage next year, he will be in the somewhat unenviable position of being able to report on an Obama presidency at first hand... but let us hope it will not come to that.

In any case, as God wills, so be it done.

A liturgical curiosity

In those years in which November 2 falls on a Sunday, the Mass and office of the Sunday are celebrated, and the commemoration of All Souls is transferred to November 3.

This is because Sunday is a festival day, a day for mirth and rejoicing, not fit for mourning; whence even in Lent, fasting and penance are not appropriate to the Sundays thereof.

For the same reason, requiem Masses may not be said on Sunday, nor may funerals be conducted except in cases of grave necessity.

But in our time the conciliar church has introduced a novelty into the Roman calendar, namely observance of the commemoration of All Souls on 2 November come what may, regardless of the day of the week whereon it falls.

This year 2 November was a Sunday. Melancholicus went down to his local parish church for Mass, expecting the Mass of the 31st Sunday of that most improbably named season, ‘Ordinary Time’, but finding instead the first Mass of All Souls celebrated by a priest vested in violet.

Assuming that Father had simply made an error, or had decided on his own authority to commemorate the faithful departed even on a Sunday, Melancholicus consulted the printed ordo and discovered to his surprise that this commemoration is indeed made on a Sunday in the Novus Ordo, at least when 2 November coincides with the Lord’s day.

Such a change is anti-liturgical, since it negates the festive character of Sunday, but the conciliar church has seldom shown itself sensitive to the doctrines enshrined in the symbolism underlying the organisation of the calendar.

Furthermore, given that institution’s proclivity for moving all prominent celebrations—such as the Epiphany, Ascension Thursday, Corpus Christi, &c.—from their proper days to the nearest Sunday, how long shall it be before All Souls are commemorated not on 2 November but on the Sunday nearest that date (unless such Sunday shall have been occupied already by All Saints)?