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Bishop-Bernard-FellayIn previous years I was growing to consider Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX a fairly sensible fellow. He seemed to be treading carefully between his responsibilities as head of the breakaway fraternity and a desire to come to some sort of agreement with Rome. His comments during a conference last weekend, however, rather effectively destroyed that image.

“It is not that we don’t want to be Catholics, of course we want to be Catholics and we are Catholics, and we have a right to be recognized as Catholics.”

We want to be Catholic, but on our terms, not that of the magisterium, the Pope even. I am normally used to hear such words from the ultra-liberals not unfamiliar in my own neck of the woods. It just goes to show that no matter what opinion we have, everyone runs to risk of placing ourselves and our wishes, opinions and demands before those of the Lord and His Church.

Let’s get some things straight: when Jesus told St. Peter that his authority over His flock would be absolute (Matthew 16:19), He was not kidding. Of course, we may disagree with what St. Peter or his successors say and do, but that does not mean their authority over their flock is in any way diminished (Fr. Tim Finigan, by the way, has a good summary on assent to the magisterium, or teaching authority, of the Pope).

When someone, be they Bishop Fellay or a liberal Catholic, says they are Catholic no matter what anyone else, let alone the Catholic Church, says, they are not taking the Lord seriously. They are placing themselves before Him, making their own opinions more important than His desires.

Two days ago, Pope Francis spoke about the often-heard comment of people who are generally spiritual, even generally believe in God, but won’t go so far as to say anything concrete about what they believe in. The Holy Father asked, “But who is this God you believe in? An ‘all over the place’ god, a ‘god-spray’ so to speak, who is a little bit everywhere but who no-one really knows anything about? We believe in God who is Father, who is Son, who is Holy Spirit. We believe in Persons, and when we talk to God we talk to Persons: or I speak with the Father, or I speak with the Son, or I speak with the Holy Spirit. And this is the faith. “

God-spray… there’s an image. Father Tim Finigan got creative and advertised the imaginary product thusly:

god spray

All joking aside, the image and wording is thought-provoking and indicates what our faith is: not just some vague background noise to make us occasionally feel good, but a true relationship with a God who allows Himself to be known. We can know God, and we can let Him direct our lives. There are consequences to faith. If there weren’t, it wouldn’t really be faith.

As Thomas Peters put it: “The Holy Spirit has guts”. A look at some of the most recent appointments in the Church (and rumours of future ones) shows as much. Although the decisions are of course made by prelates in the Curia and the Holy Father himself, as Catholics we firmly believe that the Holy Spirit guides and inspires them in their choices. And the choice these days seems to be for a firm stand for the faith and against the shamelessly promiscuous culture of today.

Just looking back over this past month, we have the appointment, albeit controversial in some circles) of Archbishop Gerhard Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Despite certain doubts about his suitability for such an important position, Archbishop Müller is close to the Pope Benedict in outlook and priorities, and will therefore prove a very close collaborator to the Holy Father.

There have also been a number of appointments to dioceses across the world that support the impression outlined above.

In Britain, “thoroughly sound chap” (per Fr. Tim Finigan, who doesn’t say things without good cause) Bishop Philip Egan was appointed to Portsmouth.

Further north, Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley came to the see of Glasgow as the most populous Scottish diocese’s new archbishop, and mere days later he was taken to account for words that criticised a late politician’s homosexual lifestyle.

And today, staunch defender of marriage, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone (pictured at left) was appointed to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, in many ways the American liberal capital. Dubbed a “bombshell” by Rocco Palmo, the appointment of Cordileone can be considered the latest in a string of appointments that are part of what Father  often calls Pope Benedict’s ‘Marshall plan’ for the Church: an effort that must re-acquaint the Church with her own heritage and then live that out. For that, we faithful need bishops who are unafraid to clearly teach and defend what the Church has taught throughout the ages.

Additionally, and as an aside, there have also been bishops who have been taken to account for their mismanagement or failure to stand for the Catholic faith. Most recently, Slovakian Archbishop Róbert Bezák was removed as ordinary of Trnava.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Short

Laurence England, a Catholic blogger from the country that he shares his last name with, is also a talented musician. At a recent social in Father Tim‘s parish he premiered his latest song, a ditty about all of us Catholic bloggers, who try to make a little bit of a difference in a liberally secular world.

The Pyjamahadeen

[Chorus]

We’re the lean, keen, dream team o’
Street-fightin’, neat jivin’ pyjamahadeen
We’re the lean, keen, mean, dream team o’
Straight talkin’, late bloggin’ pyjamahadeen
We’re the lean, keen, mean, dream team
Prayin’ England will once more be Our Lady’s Dowry
We’re the dream team, so hopefully
Devoted to our purest, gentlest Heavenly Queen

Wake up in the mornin’
Make our mornin’ offerin’
Consecrated daily to the Heart of Mary
Prepare ourselves to log in
Gonna start a-bloggin’
Rantin’ and a-ravin’ ‘bout the Catholic scene

Dies iræ! Dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla:
Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Without a doubt, not a scintilla
When young ladies wear mantillas
You know the Catholic restoration’s underway

[Chorus]

With all the priestly blogger’s typin’
Spreadin’ the Gospel, fightin’
‘gainst the rising tide of atheistic creeds
Lay faithful keep a-writin’
Comments keep a-flyin’
And if they’re heretical we click ‘delete’

You can read us but you’ll rarely
See us on the telly
Hear us on the wireless or in Telegraph read
We’re an educated laity, willin’, able, ready
Just try tellin’ that to Austen Ivereigh

[Chorus]

You’ll never see or hear us on the BBC
You’ll never see us on Sky News or ITV
Are you wonderin’ now just what the reason could be?
We’re not really a liberal Catholic’s cup of tea
We love our Bishops but we don’t speak ‘Bishopese’
We’re Latin, Gregorian, Benedictine, Traddie
I guess in that sense we’re the Church’s LGBT
We’re really rather thrilled with Bishop Mark Davies

[Chorus]

We’re the lean, keen, dream team o’
Street-fightin’, neat jivin’ pyjamahadeen
We’re the lean, keen, mean, dream team o’
Straight talkin’, late bloggin’ pyjamahadeen
We’re the lean, keen, mean, dream team
Prayin’ England will again be Our Lady’s Dowry

England will again be Our Lady’s Dowry
England will again be Our Lady’s Dowry
England will again be Our Lady’s Dowry

With a total 5,940 page views, the month of May has, at the last minute, been able to continue to steady increase visible over the past couple of months. It is now in second place on the list of most visitors on the blog per month. In total views, we’re approaching the 90,000, so I expect that the 100,000 will be crossed sometime in August, 1 year and 8 months after I started this blog. A nice number, but of course nothing to Fr. Tim Finigan’s 3 million visitors since he began blogging. Although he has been at it since April of 2006.

On to the usual top 10 of most popular blog posts. There are three Dutch translations in there (which makes me happy), and the posts about the Dutch Salesians also rank high. Blessed John Paul II’s beatification is also in there, although not as high as I would have expected. Lastly, the new bishop of Rotterdam also led to some decent interest in my writings.

1: An angry post: 166
2: Statement from Vatican press chief Fr. Lombardi on the death of Bin Laden: 107
3: Universae Ecclesiae: 95
4: A prayer answered: 63
5: Het probleem Medjugorje: 62
6: Three press releases from the Salesians 59
7: Fifth bishop of Rotterdam to be announced at noon tomorrow: 57
8: Homilie bij de zaligverklaring van Paus Johannes Paulus II: 56
9: Bishop van den Hende to Rotterdam: 53
10: Pictures say more: 43

Abp. Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Council for Social Communications, and Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press chief, will attend the conference

As is common for the blogosphere, 1,001 opinions have cropped up about what I think is a very interesting initiative from the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications. On the 2nd of May, the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II, they are hosting what Father Tim calls ‘an official blognic’. The bloggers’ conference, which is open to essentially any Catholic blogger will aim to collect their experiences and identify the needs of the blogging community. It’s another careful outreach of the Church into the digital continent.

The date of 2 May is not random. The Councils figure that many bloggers will be in Rome anyway for the beatification ceremony and won’t need to undertake an extra journey. The conference will be held in the St Pius X auditorium, which can host some 150 people, so despite the invitation being open to all Catholic bloggers, only a select view will be able to actually participate. The organisers desire to have a representation of the entire blogosphere, with various kinds of bloggers from various countries. Fr. Tim has collected more information in the blog post linked above.

In light of this event, and spawning from some thoughts I have had about it over the past months, I have added a Paypal donation button to the sidebar on the left. I don’t expect to be swamped by enough donations that I can fly over to Rome, but perhaps, if you think this blog is worth a read from your part and some time from mine, you can offer some small support. After all, also on the digital continent, time is money, and maintaining a blog with some level of seriousness can sometimes take up more time than is readily available. Any donations will be spent on this blog or related causes.

On the last day of the first year of this blog’s existence, I think it’s nice to do what everyone and their dog is doing: offering an overview of the year gone by. I’ll present the ten most popular blog posts by page view, much like the monthly stats I’ve been sharing here (December’s statistics will follow tomorrow, once December is actually over).

It is clear that a blogger can’t do without a network. The top-scoring posts have reached so many viewers not only because of their topics, but to a large extent thanks to people who have linked to them. And to be honest, it is something of a feather in one’s cap if a noted blogger like Fr. Tim shares something one has written.

So, without any further ado, here’s my list:

1: Pornography or art? (17,630 views). A link from a Polish news-gathering website to this post about alleged pornography found on Belgian Cardinal Danneels’ computer (seized during the illegal police raid on his home) resulted in the largest peak in visitors this blog has yet seen. It also resulted in some discussion, here and on Twitter, about the photo itself. Some did not consider it disturbing in itself, but I maintained that the that, since it can apparently so easily be considered child pornography, there is something rotten going on regardless.

2: What to do about the sacrilege displayed in Obdam? (1,153 views). A news item that made headlines in Catholic blogs and news sites across the world, and which led to serious discussion on my blog as well. It was one of the first times that I decided to call for specific action in my blog, suggesting people contact Father Paul Vlaar and/or Bishop Jos Punt to relate their concerns. Many people, among them parishioners from Obdam chimed in in support of Fr. Vlaar, but many others tried to clearly express why a football Mass, no matter how much fun it is, has no place in the Catholic Church.

3: “The Belgian Church has been too passive” (1,022 views). Thanks to a link from Father Tim Finigan, my translation of an old interview with the new archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Msgr. André-Joseph Léonard, gave my blog the first considerable peak in visitor traffic. Archbishop Léonard has continued to be a considerable presence in the blog throughout the year, certainly not least due to the abuse crisis, which continues to hit Belgium particularly hard.

4: A gentle pope, but rock solid in the execution (975 views). Another translated interview, this with Msgr. Georg Gänswein about Pope Benedict XVI. Msgr. Gänswein’s popularity can be considered the main reason for this post’s popularity,but perhaps many readers also wish to know about the man in white. And who better to tell them that than the Holy Father’s personal secretary?

5: A diocesan statement about Fr. Paul Vlaar (859 views). Continuing the saga surrounding Obdam and Fr. Vlaar’s football Mass, the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam released an official statement in a very bad English translation. I re-translated the short piece, which was once more quite seriously covered across the world (the statement itself, not my translation).

6: Introductie op de Geest van de Liturgie – onofficiële vertaling (606 views). My first serious translation – of Msgr. Guido Marini’s address at the Clergy Conference in Rome – garnered much attention. A summarised version was published in the bulletin of the Dutch Latin Liturgy Society, and of all of my translations this has been the most popular. Not too shabby for a blog which is pretty much all in English.

7: In memoriam: Bishop Tadeusz Ploski (574 views). The tragedy of the plane crash that killed much of Poland’s government and military officials led me to write something about on of the clergymen killed. Many people, from Poland and elsewhere, found their way to that post via search engines. A blog post, therefore, that seemingly fulfilled a need for many.

8: Het probleem Medjugorje (486 views). My translation of an interview with Fr. Manfred Hauke, expert on apparitions and the Blessed Virgin, about the dubious events that led to the popular pilgrimage to Medjugorje, led not only to a considerable number of views, but also discussion. It is a topic that many people feel passionate about, and like the abuse crisis and the form of liturgy, it is often hard to have a balanced discussion about it. And, I admit, perhaps I was a bit in over my head as well when sharing this topic. A blogger, after all, has some responsibility to write about what he knows.

9: Under the Roman Sky (366 views). A very short post with the trailer to a film about the Holocaust in Rome and the role of Pope Pius XII in that. I still need to see it, by the way, and many others are interested as well, it seems. The false accusations that Venerable Pius XII was a Nazi collaborator are very persistent, and I still hope that this film can, in some small way, help to dispel those rumours.

10: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (320 views). A report of some personal experiences of mine, when I visited St. Agnes’ church in Amsterdam for a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, presided over by Archbishop François Bacqué, the nuncio to the Netherlands. An event that is still remarkable enough that it triggered some considerable attention. The website of the FSSP-run St. Agnes linked to my post, and they may be thanked as well for the traffic it received.

All in all, this first year has not at all been bad for my blog. Of course, there is always the pressure of time, especially now that I have a job as a teacher and a girlfriend to devote time to. For 2011, I hope to continue posting regularly about the things that happen in the Catholic Church worldwide and especially in the Low Countries.

For now, I wish all my readers

A VERY BLESSED NEW YEAR!

The life of Pope Benedict XVI and the daily workings of the Vatican, in a 45-minute documentary. It’s fairly objective and generally correct, even.

Via Fr. Tim Finigan.

I’ve added the Via Romea blog to my blog list. It documents the cycling adventure of three young people from Sidcup*, near London, to Rome, along the ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome: the Via Romea. They’ve given themselves most of the month of July to do this, and the blog will, hopefully, give a nice account of the adventure.

They’re not just doing out for a laugh, though. No, the intend to raise money for two charities: Mary’s Meals, which supplies daily, healthy meals in schools in some of the poorest countries; and the Cardinal Winning Pro-life Initiative, which provides practical, spiritual and emotional support for mothers facing crisis pregnancies and the prospect of raising their child alone. Both quite worthy goals, I’d say.

I always find such pilgrimages inspirational since they’re a very hand-on use of one’s faith. It also shows that faith is the basis underneath the things we do, and the means by which those things can be completed successfully.

So, go visit the blog, spike their stats a bit, and perhaps donate to their cause.

*Where, incidentally, His Hermeneuticalness wears the chasuble and celebrates his birthday today.

For the third time I’ll be attending the so-called Credimus Bootcamp, this year from 17 to 23 July. It’s been suggested I should advertise it a bit here, and I gladly do so.

So, what is this Bootcamp thing? On the website it is described as a ‘Catholic catechesis camp for young people who want to learn more about their faith’, and that’s as good a description as I can think of. Whereas conventional catechesis in most parishes is necessarily general and superficial, the Credimus Bootcamp wants to delve into the depths of the Catholic faith, to answer the difficult questions and come up with all manner of treasures from the wealth of our faith.

In my experience it is not only a learning experience where you’re made to think and learn, both intellectually and spiritually, but also a pleasant week spent with like-minded people. Serious Catholics can have fun too, and Bootcamp offers plenty of fun.

During most days, guest speakers (priests, religious and lay people) will come and speak about subjects in their field of expertise, we will have Mass in both forms of the Latin rite, we will pray the Liturgy of the Hours together and of course sit down for meals and a drink or two in the evenings.

Of the guest speakers there have already been three confirmed for this year: Father Marc Heemels, parish priest in the parish of St. John the Baptist/Holy Curé of Ars in Eygelshoven in the Diocese of Roermond; Brother Federico of the Institute of the Incarnate Word; and Father Harry van der Vegt, cathedral administrator of the cathedral of St. Catherine and priest of the church of St. Willibrord, both in Utrecht.

Past speakers (who have included Father Tim Finigan, Father Cor Mennen, Deacon Peter Vermaat and Brother Hugo) discussed all manner of topics, ranging from the liturgy to the saints to ecclesiology. Anyone with a functioning brain should be able to follow the lectures and meetings, even if they go deeper than what you’re used to.

This years edition will take place in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen in Geffen, in the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch, where Father David van Dijk will host us for the second time.

For more information you can hop over to the Bootcamp website and sign up. Bootcamp will be in Dutch, although many attendees will speak English too.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?

Copyright

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin, Katholiek.nl, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

IN PROGRESS

[Dutch] Internationale Theologencommissie - Sensus Fidei in het Leven van de Kerk.

30 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor het Katholieke Jongerenfestival.

19 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Interview in La Vanguardia.

18 May: [English] Pietro Cardinal Parolin - Homily at the consecration of Archbishop van Megen.

15 May: [English] Ane Hähnig - Interview with Michael Triegel.

3 May: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor de Wereldgebedsdag voor Roepingen 2014.

Like this blog? Think of making a donation

This blog is a voluntary and free effort. I don't get paid for it, and money is never the main motivator for me to write the things I write.

But, since time is money, as they say, I am most certainly open to donations from readers who enjoy my writings or who agree with me that it communicating the faith and the news that directly affects us as Catholics, is a good thing.

Via the button you may contribute any amount you see fit to the Paypal account of this blog. The donation swill be used for further development of this blog or other goals associated with communicating the faith and the new of the Church.

Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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