Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus resurrexit! Christ is risen!

In the words of Pope Francis:

"Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness, and that is where death is ... let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!"

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pope Francis to meet Benedict XVI

Some analysts were wondering why Pope Francis chose today to meet his predecessor.

I think it's obvious - the bus didn't run until today.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Something that never fails to amaze me is that after almost 2,000 years of the papacy, so many people expect a new Pope to change Catholic dogma.

One acquaintance of mine, a relatively well educated Anglican, said she was relieved that the new Pope believed in the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception.

The fact is, the Pope doesn't have the authority to change doctrines and to overrule God's commandment, "Thou shall not murder" isn't possible.

"But I know Catholics who don't agree with this." I hear you say. Well, sorry to be blunt, but if someone, knowing the church teaching on the sanctity of human life or any other teaching regarding dogma publicly denies this, as opposed to genuinely misunderstanding it, then they're not Catholic.

I am excited by the Pontificate of Pope Francis and whilst he is a man of surprises in so many ways, we know beyond any doubt that he isn't about to change Catholic dogma revealed by God.

Does Pope Francis believe in the right to life?

Yes - or as others might put it, "Is the Pope a Catholic?"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Francis, rebuild my Church!"

Pope Francis' election by the College of Cardinals last week has sent shockwaves around the world.

The media seem to love him - although the bigoted Guardian, of course, tried to spread, discredited lies about him, but the consensus seems to be that he is loved for his simplicity, humility and sense of humour.

Now that it has been confirmed that he took his name after Saint Francis of Assisi, it brings to mind not only St Francis' poverty and love for peace and the environment but also the words he felt Christ speaking to him, "Francis, rebuild My Church!"

Let's pray that with the Saint's intercession he might help reform the Church and evangelise the world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A radical new Pope?

Over the last few weeks the media has been buzzing with bizarre ideas about what a new Pope could do.

The fact is - a new Pope can NEVER change the dogma of the Catholic Church as he simply wouldn't have the authority. The Church will never change its mind about the immaculate conception, women priests, the sanctity of human life or the number of Persons in the Trinity.

What the new Pope could do however is make truly radical changes in policies in other areas such as social justice, the liturgy and clerical abuse.

In the unlikely event a radical new Pope were to read this, here are my suggestions:

Social Justice: If the church wants to truly show that it's on the side of the weakest members of society how about amending canon law to impose an automatic excommunication on anyone who votes to destroy innocent lives? Whether abortion, euthanasia or an immoral, unjust war those who use their power to kill the innocent could be resisted.

Liturgy: The Second Vatican Council refers to all of the faithful as the pilgrim People of God. A powerful way of demonstrating this would be for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the same direction as the people (except on those few occasions he is addressing them). This would focus our hearts and minds on Christ and His sacrificial love for us and not the person of the priest.

Abuse: The new Pope could "invite" all bishops who have abused their position by cosying up to anti-life politicians or covered up child abuse to retire to a life of prayer and penance. Any who are even suspected of breaking the law should be reported immediately to the police.

Now let's pray.

A conclave's coming - get on your knees!

Today is the day when the Cardinals gather in Rome to pray and vote under lock and key, hence the term "conclave" (with key).

A common misconception is that Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit chooses the next Pope. On the contrary, only scripture is said to be inspired. A cursory glance at history will bring to light about half a dozen Popes that were clearly far from good examples.

Benedict XVI, when he was a Cardinal, once made the same point: "The Holy Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator ... leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us ... There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!"

What then are we to do?

Get on your knees and pray that the Cardinals allow the Holy Spirit to influence their choice and that they chose someone holy and strong.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Let he without sin ...

Over the last 24 hours there has been a flurry of news articles regarding a Cardinal who has admitted, "my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me" following allegations of misconduct by four adults over thirty years ago.  

Sadly some people seem to have used this occasion to attack him further - not by hurling stones as might have been the custom 2,000 years ago but by writing articles or blogs.  Surely as Catholics respond to in the following ways?

1.  Pray for the Cardinal concerned
2.  Pray for those who made these allegations, that they may receive healing and peace
3.  Examine our own consciences and go to confession - this is a reminder that we all sin and need grace.