Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

12/10/2018 - 15:40

The cultural front-line in Oxford

I have a piece on the Catholic Herald website. It begins:

Recently I spent many hours on the front line of the new evangelisation. In a formerly Christian country, Britain, where the cultural achievements of the Church are still remembered and appreciated, at least by some, I was working on the via pulchritudinis: the “way of beauty”.

As Pope St John Paul II expressed it in 2003 (Ecclesia in Europa 60):

“Nor should we overlook the positive contribution made by the wise use of the cultural treasures of the Church. … artistic beauty, … a sort of echo of the Spirit of God, is a symbol pointing to the mystery, an invitation to seek out the face of God made visible in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Where was I? At Oxford University’s Freshers’ Fair, as I am every year, recruiting singers for a Gregorian Chant schola named after an Oxford student who died for the Faith, Blessed Thomas Abel.

Read the whole thing there.

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10/10/2018 - 10:00

Ouellet replies to Viganó

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Those observing the developing controversy which has followed Archbishop Viganó’s extraordinary denunciation of Pope Francis had their patience rewarded by an official response from a leading Cardinal, the Canadian Marc Ouellet. As Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops since 2010, he is uniquely qualified to confirm or deny what is perhaps the central factual claim of Viganó’s testimony. This is that in 2009 or 2010 (I quote from Viganó’s testimony):
Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.
(McCarrick had retired at the usual age from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. in 2007. On June 20, 2018, he was stripped of the title of Cardinal in light of allegations that he had sexually abused a minor. He retains the rank of Archbishop.)
This claim is explosive because following the election of Pope Francis, McCarrick was, as one journalist approvingly expressed, “back in the mix and busier than ever,” having been “more or less put out to pasture” by Pope Benedict.
Archbishop Viganó made a special point in his testimony of pointing to Cardinal Ouellet, among others, as able to corroborate his claims. In a second public letter, he addressed Cardinal Ouellet directly:
Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.

Read more on LifeSiteNews

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09/10/2018 - 17:05

Peter Kwasniewski: Visit to England 26th to 30th October

Prof. Peter Kwasniewski, a prolific blogger, author, and writer for LifeSiteNews, is visiting England later this month, with a brand new book:
Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile.
Professor Kwasniewski will be at the following events:
26th Oct, Friday, Oxford: High Mass 6pm followed by book launch, SS Gregory & Augustine's, Woodstock Road, Oxford
27th Oct, Saturday, Aylesford: LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, Mass at 1:30pm followed by talk from Prof. Kwasniewski. Mass will include the premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, Ramsgate: Sung Mass 12 noon, St Augustine's Shrine, Ramsgate, followed by talk and book signing. Mass will include a premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, South Woodford: High Mass 6pm, Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London, followed by talk and book signing.
30th Oct, Tuesday, London: 6pm Sung Vespers, Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, followed by book launch.
This book isn't even available yet, but it will be on sale at the various events organised for him by the Latin Mass Society, at Oxford, Aylesford Priory, Ramsgate, South Woodford and Warwick Street in London. 
As part of the tour, two new choral compositions will receive their world premieres by the ensemble Cantus Magnus, under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn: a motet “Ego Mater Pulchrae Dilectionis” (SATB) on October 27th at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, and the Missa Rex in Æternum (ATB) on October 28th in Ramsgate; these will be joined by three UK premieres of other motets.
SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford
Full details below
Friday, October 26th – SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford

6:00 pm – Votive High Mass for St Gregory the Great
7:30 pm – Refreshments
8:00 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Pillar and Ground of the Roman Rite: The Roman Canon as Doctrinal and Moral Norm”
8:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

Aylesford Priory

Saturday, October 27th – Annual LMS Aylesford Pilgrimage: Relic Chapel, Aylesford Priory

12:45 pm – Confessions (Fr Neil Brett)
1:30 pm – Missa Cantata (Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP
de Rivera, Missa a cuatro voces
Kwasniewski, “Benedicta et venerabilis” UK PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Ego mater” WORLD PREMIERE
 (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
3:00 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski: “The Spirit and Spirituality of Gregorian Chant”
3:45 pm – Enrolment in the Brown Scapular
4:15 pm – Vespers (Little Office of Our Lady) and Benediction

Shrine of St Augustine (designed by Pugin)

Sunday, October 28th – Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate, Kent

12:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
Kwasniewski, Missa Rex in Æternum  WORLD PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Christus vincit” UK PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Jesu dulcis memoria” UK PREMIERE
 (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
2:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “On Living Tradition: The Basic Good of Catholic Culture and the Spiritual Discipline of Fine Art” 

Sunday, October 28th – Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London

6:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
7:30 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski in Parish Hall (7 Grove Crescent, South Woodford, London, E18 2JR): “Tradition as Ultimate Norm: Clearing up Confusion about Essentials and Incidentals”

Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory

Tuesday, October 30th – Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London

6:00 pm – Vespers with Palestrina’s Magnificat quinti toni
 (Sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
6:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Liturgical Reform, Ars Celebrandi, and the Crisis on Marriage and Family”
7:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

For Oxford:

For all events:

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05/10/2018 - 10:00

The lay vocation and subordination to the clergy

LifeSiteNews has a piece by me on the lay vocation. It begins:

Recent and very public failures of bishops raise the question of what role the laity should have in the Catholic Church. Lay people can feel like dumb spectators watching a tragedy in which bishops and other clergy have all the leading roles. This is clearly not a healthy situation, but what, in fact, is the lay vocation? In what way are lay people called, as members of Christ’s mystical body, to advance the kingdom of God? Certainly, the laity are crew, not just passengers, in the barque of St. Peter, and not even subordinate crew. As the 1983 Code of Canon Law tells us (Canon 208):

From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.

What, then, is the function related to the lay condition? The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem (4) tells us:

The laity must take up the restoration of the temporal order (ordo temporalis) as their own special task. Led by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere.

As the Decree goes on to detail, this can be done in the context of family, professional, and political life.

What this suggests, along with the traditional teaching of the Church on the “two swords,” the division of labor in the Christian society between Pope and Emperor, is that bishops and clergy as such should not seek to direct in detail the work of Catholic statesmen, academics and teachers, and parents. It is given to the clergy, and above all to bishops, to judge according to the moral law, but judgment on matters of prudence — scientific judgment, educational judgment, political judgement, and so on — is the special gift and duty of the lay state.

Read the whole thing here.

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04/10/2018 - 10:00

More about the Prayer to St Michael

LifeSiteNews has published a short piece of mine on the Prayer to St Michael, reflecting on the renewed used of the Prayer to St Michael by in six dioceses of the United States of America, in the context of the abuse crisis.

I write:

The [Second Vatican] Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes 37 remind us:

A monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.

This is exactly what the Prayer to St. Michael reflects. Why did it ever disappear from use?

Read the whole article here.

The Prayer to St Michael was composed in the context of pressure on the Church from outside, above all from the Kingdom of Italy, which had annexed the Papal States and made the Pope for practical purposes the prisoner of an often hostile government; the intention of the prayers was later changed to the oppression of the Church by Communist Russia. When I published, for Una Voce International, a Position Paper on the 'Leonine Prayers' (of which the Prayer to St Michael is one) said at the end of EF Low Masses, the focus was on the persecuted Church.

The use of the prayer over the abuse crisis, while undoubtedly appropriate as far as the wording is concerned, is very different. Instead of persecution from without, the issue today is the sins of those within the Church, and the damage they have caused.

But actually, is this so different? Since the 1960s those who have refused to sign up to the regime of novelties, of theological madness and sexual licence, have often felt not just ignored, but actively persecuted. This is a true persecution of the Church, using the structures of the Church to carry it out. Indeed, there are precedents for this: the persecution of St Joan of Arc by Bishop Couchon of Bauvais is a classic example. What is remarkable about the situation of recent decades is that entire countries should be dominated by bishops and priests so concerned not to rock the boat by exposing or condeming terrible crimes, that those who do oppose them find themselves harried from pillar to post.

The Masonic, anti-clerical principles of the Kingdom of Italy of the late 19th century and Communist Russia in the mid 20th century have found a new manifestion: within the very walls of the Church.

It remains true, however, that since the sins against the Church are being done by members of the Church, it behoves us not only to pray for deliverance against the Church's enemies, but to do penance for the sins of our fellow-Catholics. A good next step would be for the bishops of the United States following the example of the Bishops of England and Wales in restoring Friday abstinence.

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02/10/2018 - 10:00

The death penalty in the Catholic Herald

Last weekend the Catholic Herald published a letter of mine on the Death Penalty.

Greg Whelan (Letters, 14th Sept) claims to be ‘mystified’ by the widespread concern of Pope Francis’ reversal of the teaching of the Church on the subject of the Death Penalty.

He reminds us that the Church has ‘changed its mind’ about the best punishment for various offences. However this is hardly the matter at issue. The crimes he mentions, such as fornication, are still condemned by the Church as grave sins. What Pope Francis appears to be claiming is the discovery of a new grave sin, that of using the death penalty, even when it might be considered most appropriate.

The penal code found in the Old Testament was in force only for a specific group of people for a specific period of time. Other times and circumstances require other legal solutions. It is preserved for us in Scripture, however, because it teaches us about the seriousness of the crimes it condemns and the importance of the search for justice. Among other things, as St Paul reiterates (Rom13:4), it makes clear that the Death Penalty can rightly be used.

Perhaps we live in such a blessed age that it is no longer necessary. If so, we should be glad, but not imagine God erred when he included the Death Penalty in the Bible’s judicial system.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw

It was unfortunate timing that the letter of concerned academics and pastors to Cardinals setting out their grave concerns about Pope Francis' claims on the Death Penalty was immediately overshadowed by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, which has been followed by an unending stream of scandal. It remains important, because it represents the most open example yet of an attempt to reverse a teaching of the Church established in Scriptures, the consensus of the Fathers, and the Ordinary Magisterium.

Of course, like Steven Long one can take the view that the Pope doesn't mean to change the teaching at all, but has simply expressed himself very badly. But the letter to which I was responding in the Catholic Herald was taking the more usual view, that he was. If Pope Francis wanted to affirm Pope John Paul II's view that the Death Penalty was unnecessary and best not used in the circumstances of today, he's gone about it in a very strange way.

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01/10/2018 - 15:54

Fr Francis Doyle and St Mary Magdelen

Last weekend I had the following letter to the Catholic Universe printed (last weekend's edition). They cut out the last line, which I've put in bold below, but then you can't have everything.

Fr Doyle often has edifying things to say, but on the occasion his column of 14th September he seemed to slip into the role of the de-bunking liberal know-it-all: generations of Catholic artists, scholars and ordinary folk are wrong, we know better, and it's not even a matter of legitimate debate: they were just stupid, they got into a muddle. This tone really gets my goat. It is almost always based on shallow scholarship and shallower theology. No one can prove the the Woman Caught in Adultery, the Sinner with the Nard, Mary Magdalen exorcised of seven devils, and Mary of Bethany, were not the same person. But if you sit patiently at the feet of the Fathers of the Church you might learn something.

Sir,

I must take issue with Fr Francis Doyle (Questions and Answers, 14th Sept), who dismisses the traditional identification of the 'sinner' who anointed Jesus' feet with nard with Mary of Bethany and with Mary Magdalen, as a mere 'confusion'. No doubt he would be equally dismissive of the further identification of Mary Magdelen with the 'woman taken in adultery'.

The Latin Fathers of the Church held that these people are the same, and this view has become embedded not only in art, but in the liturgy. In the pre-1969 calendar the feast of St Martha (29th July) is the octave of the feast of her sister St Mary Magdalen (22nd), and in the Dies irae, sung at Masses for the dead, the penitent sinner forgiven by our Lord is called 'Mary'.

Should the views of the Fathers and the testimony of the ancient liturgical tradition, be dismissed out of hand? The Second Vatican Council certainly thought not, directing that future translations of the Psalms conform to 'the entire tradition of the Latin Church' (Sacrosanctum Concilium 91). The 2001 Instruction Liturgicam authenticam notes similarly that translations should reflect the 'understanding of biblical passages which has been handed down by liturgical use and by the tradition of the Fathers of the Church .'

Fr Doyle owes this view of St Mary Magdalen a little more respect.
Yours faithfully,


Joseph Shaw, Chairman, Latin Mass Society
I've written on this specific issue in more detail here.

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02/09/2018 - 10:00

The abuse crisis: too little authority, not too much

Abraham, our Patriarch

A letter to The Tablet, which they have apparently chosen not to print.

Sir

As a former Ampleforth pupil (1985-90), I share the disgust of your leader, feature article, and letters page (18 August). I think the various references to the ‘patriarchal’ Benedictine leadership model are in danger of confusing the issue, however.

If one wishes to discover the traditional, patriarchal attitude to criminal behaviour, consider the early Roman hero Brutus when, on the eve of battle, his sons were accused of treason. He executed them.

The Christian model of leadership does not endorse Brutus’ savagery, but it does stress a leader’s role in governing for the good of the community. This is the kind of government of a patriarchal family we find described in Proverbs, and modelled by saintly reforming Abbots, Bishops, and Kings in the Christian centuries. They would all have been appalled at the idea that their role had anything to do with giving criminals further opportunities to commit their crimes.

What we find described in the IICSA report into Downside and Ampleforth is not the rule of a ‘father in God’ inspired by a traditional conception of God himself. Rather, we see the influence of a modern conception of a ‘God without wrath’, a senile and indulgent grandfather. The problem is not the Benedictine model of leadership: the problem is the corruption of that model.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw
My letter was addressed to the question, treated by the leader and feature articles, of the relationship between the Abbots of these abusive monasteries and their monks. The idea that the problem in these communities was that the Abbots were too harsh on their monks is a sick liberal fantasy. When it came to dealing with abusers, those in authority were all meek and indulgent. One said to me once, when I suggested that an abuser with an alcohol problem be told to give up: 'Oh no, to be effective it must come from him.'

There is, however, a paradox. Authority has also been wielded in abusive institutions, sometimes brutally, to silence whistleblowers and protect criminals. 
The attitude of those in authority to abusers is a liberal one. Outsiders who threaten to spoil the love-in get a more steely conception of authority. But we're used to this with liberal bullies: soft on their chums, harsh to their victims. It is exactly the same attitude we have witnessed in relation to liturgical and doctrinal abuse. It is an expression of their inability to confront the evil in their midst, which they must moderate with sweetness and kindness, and their terror of the system being exposed or upset, threats they meat with vindictive cruelty.
Neither side of the paradox has anything to do with traditional patriarchal conceptions of authority.

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01/09/2018 - 10:00

Attacking the whistleblower: the abuse-enabling culture is alive and well

In the current phase of the Church's crisis, we are focusing as much or more on the enablers of abuse, than on the abusers themselves. It is time we thought about them, because it removes the comforting impression that a 'few bad apples' could be ejected from the priesthood and all would be well. As is sometimes pointed out, perhaps 4% of priests were sex abusers. The problem is the general ethos and culture which enabled them to carry on their abuse, and the superiors systematically protected the abusers. Never mind the 4% of priests: it is the 60% or 80% or more of bishops and religious superiors who harboured sexual predators and provided them with fresh opportunities for abuse. It may be that most of the priest-abusers have died or been laicised by now, but their hierarchical enablers, few of whom had to face up to their crimes when the clerical abuse became a big story in 2002, have continued to flourish. This is an indication that, even if stricter reporting procedures have had a restraining effect on sexual predation by priests since 2002, the ethos and culture which made the abuse possible is still largely intact.
What is this culture? I have on this blog tried to go beyond a superficial understanding of it with the help of two perspectives: first, the classic account of how conformism can distort an individual's behaviour, and how it can take over an organisation; and second, the way that the rejection of the Church's teaching on sexuality has destroyed the hierarchy's ability to respond appropriately to cases of abuse. In this post I want to consider things from a third perspective, which is connected with conformism: the pattern of abuse-enabling.
Eleven months ago I was defending the 'Filial Correction', and wrote this about some of its critics:

Something profoundly worrying about criticisms of the signatories of the Correction specifically for speaking out about problems which every informed Catholic already knows about, is the mindset it reveals, one focused not on the truth, but on appearances. It is strongly reminiscent of the mindset at work in abusive families, where children are taught to pretend things are all right, when they are not: certain topics are not to be broached, certain facts are not to be referred to. This attitude can be enforced not by the abusive parent directly, but by other family members who are trying to keep up appearances and hold the family together. It is nevertheless profoundly unhealthy, and indeed is linked to psychological disorders in the children.

We should fear any such attitude, however well-intentioned, invading the Church. If there are problems, we should talk about them, and not pretend they do not exist.

It is natural to ask whether, since Cardinal McCarrick was himself a sexual predator, those who defend him, and often had such long associations with him, are or have been sexual predators as well. It is after all very possible. But even if some are, I expect most are not. They stand in relation to McCarrick as many family members stand in relation to an abusive parent. They desperately try to protect him, not because they approve of what he does, but because they are terrified of the consequences of it all coming out. They are frightened that the exposure of the abuser will destroy the family.

That specific fear is not, of course, entirely irrational, but the behaviour of these family members is not to be understood in simple, rational terms. They are, after all, victims of the abuse, whether sexual or psychological, and this has shaped their behaviour in non-rational ways. To put it in crude terms, they have for years and perhaps decades been bullied and brainwashed by the abuser, and the complex and self-contradictory message the abuser has sought to impress upon them includes the following: the abuser does no wrong; they are at fault for bad things which are happening; they are guilty and should fear the attention of outsiders; the abuser loves them and protects them; and terrible things would happen if he were removed from the scene.

Those who have internalised this message can go to astonishing lengths to protect the person who is making their lives hell, and to maintain the situation in which his behaviour can continue.

An added factor, particularly when we move from families to larger institutions, is when the abuser is able to promote favoured victims to the status of co-abuser, or give them other privileges which depend upon the continuing existence of the abusive system.

It is worth emphasising that I am talking about abuse, not what the secular press likes to call 'consensual relationships with adults'. Abuse does not stop being abuse when the victim turns 18, but the pattern of behaviour I am describing has little in common with, say, a seminarian having an affair with a fellow seminarian, or a woman outside the seminary, serious as that would be. Nor am I principally concerned with sexual orientation: the pattern of behaviour can equally be displayed when the underlying abuse is not sexual at all, but psychological. My interest here is the relationship between what we might call the core abuse and the penumbra of unhealthy attitudes and patterns of behaviour which come to be displayed by those around the abuser, even by people who don't take part in the core abuse.

For these attitudes and patterns of behaviour in the circle around the abuser are themselves abusive.

Imagine a family or institution at whose apex there is a classic abuser. He has surrounded himself with people who permit, facilitate, and cover up the abuse, and placed them in positions of privilege. Beyond this inner circle there will be people who have not been completely conditioned by the abuse, for example because they are newer on the scene, or younger. Most of them will have much more contact with the inner circle than with the abuser himself. It is the inner circle who will do much, or perhaps even all, of the direct work of bullying and brainwashing these outer-circle people, who will be looking to them for guidance. Consistently turning a blind eye to abuse, refusing to talk about it, becoming angry when certain topics are broached: these are powerful tools, if applied consistently to a captive audience over a long period of time. They train the junior members of the institution or family in the behaviour which is expected of them. This is a training in patterns of thought and behaviour which are unhealthy: which are harmful to mental health. They are gaslighting them.

This will work most profoundly in a closed institution like a cult, but it can work in families, seminaries, dioceses, the whole Church, and indeed in a whole society. The more open the institution the harder it will be for a culture of abuse to distort members' sense of justice and of what is normal, but it can still work to a large extent. This is how totalitarian states can continue to exist.

The most important thing for abuse-facilitators to do is to keep a lid on the exchange of information and dissent. This is a very pronounced principle in many cults, and of course in repressive states. In institutions and families which have limited coercive measures to employ against members, social pressure is the key to this. People who speak out internally or seek to attract the attention of outsiders are subjected to vilification and ostracism. Abusive institutions are generally also on the look-out for scapegoats to blame for their poor functioning, so hysterical attacks on whistleblowers can serve a double purpose.

The people attacking the whistleblowers are, to repeat, not necessarily the top-level abusers in the institution. They are people who are both abused and abuser: who are inflicting on others what they fear will happen to themselves. At the limit, we might want to absolve them from blame altogether: they may be too terrified and pyschologically damaged to think straight. But my concern is not with Maoist China; I'm talking about something at the milder end of the range. The Church is a dysfunctional family, not a death-cult. The unbalanced attacks on Archbishop Viganò, the desperate attempts to change the subject, are not being carried out by brain-washed zombies. They are being carried out by people who have got into a habit of protecting the institution regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

Talking of tiers of abuse may seem a rather extreme approach to analysing a simple problem of over-zealous loyalty to the Church, but remember, we now know that we are dealing with the institutional manifestation of widespread sexual abuse. The question I am probing is: given that we have had an endemic abusive system at the heart of the institution for fifty or more years, at the level of the episcopacy, the seminaries, and even the Roman curia, what effect on the overall culture of the Church has it had?

The answer is that it will have done its best to draw into its distorted mind-set as many people involved with the Church as possible. It will have done its best to inculcate in them the abusive assumptions that the system is not, really, bad; the victims are guilty; and it would be terrible if the system is exposed: whistleblowers are traitors. We know how ruthlessly men too strong, too healthy, to bow to this set of attitudes have too often been treated. We know the kind of weak and weaselly individual who too often has found preferment in this system. Thank heaven, there are exceptions. I am not making a generalisation about bishops or priests, so much as an observation of the direction in which things have been pushed, a direction we would not have gone in at all had it not been for the poison of abuse eating away at the good sense of good people in the Church over many decades.

This problem will not quickly be cured. Removing the chief abusers and their chief enablers is obviously urgently necessary. Making it clear to the next rank down, to people who have consciously or half-consciously been aiding abuse and its cover-up, that this is unjust and continues and spreads deeply damaging attitudes and behaviours - that it is itself abusive - is the next step.

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31/08/2018 - 16:11

Holy Trinity Hethe: Flower festival and devotions 8-9th Sept

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