Thursday, 31 July 2008

Russian Patriarch shakes Orthodox boat.

Athens- The Orthodox Christian Church has come under threat of schism for the first time in 954 years. The cause is Moscow Patriarch Alexy, who in an act of unprecedented aggression against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has raised the threat of a major schism in a letter sent to all church primates.
The Moscow Patriarchate has for many years sought to play the leading role among Orthodox churches. The present attempt comes in connection with events in Kiev on July 26th and 27th to celebrate 1020 years since the Christianization of the city’s population by Vladimir the Great. The Ecumenical Patriarch was among those officially invited to the events, to be attended by Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko, and of course Kiev Patriarch and Patriarch Alexy.

But in a sudden development on July 20th, Patriarch Alexy sent a letter to all heads of churches accusing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of ties with the Kiev Patriarchate and threatening the former with a schism “comparable to the events of 1054”, i.e. the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople.
It should be noted that Archbishop of Albania Anastasios was the first to express his full support for the Ecumenical Patriarch – unlike Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos, who was among the first to side with Patriarch Alexy.

In a leading article under the heading “Towards a New Schism!”, respected Greek newspaper To Vima says, “A downturn in relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow are threatening the Orthodox Church with a new schism. What makes this possibility a dramatic one is that the schism is not the result of potentially worthwhile differences in dogma. Rather, the schism that is shaking the foundations of the Orthodox Church comes from administrative differences over the Church of Ukraine. May the Holy Spirit enlighten them and lead them towards agreement”.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) – For several years reports have been floating around the Internet about an independent group – The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) – seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Some within the Roman Catholic Church as well as other Anglican groups quickly dismissed the seriousness with which the Holy See would be viewing this.

The TAC recently released a letter they received from Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for such relationships. The communiqué made it very clear, without going into specific, that the request from the TAC is being seriously scrutinized. The Cardinal also indicated that the recent activities in the Anglican Communion (per se) did complicate the matters somewhat.

In the most recent issue of the The Messenger Journal, the newsletter of the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion stated:

“My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, It is my great pleasure to be able to attach a copy of a letter I received this morning (25 July 2008) from Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, via the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia. It is a letter of warmth and encouragement… This letter should encourage our entire Communion, and those friends who have been assisting us.”

In his July 5, 2008 letter, Cardinal Levada wrote, “Over the course of the past year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has studied the proposals which you presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion during your visit to the office if this Dicastery on October 9, 2007. As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter.

In referencing the turmoil in the Anglican Communion in general, the Cardinal stated that the situation within the historic jurisdiction “has become markedly more complex during this same period.” He promised to inform the TAC when his office is in a position to respond more definitely to the proposal they have put forth.

The original reports, from a few years ago, indicated that the TAC had petitioned the Vatican to come into full communion while being allowed “sui juris” status, which meant that their bishops would maintain episcopal authority over their jurisdictions while still being in full communion. This part of the request separates the TAC from other groups who have sought a relationship, as others acknowledged their willingness to surrender their episcopal faculties.

Some in the Roman Catholic Church who are aware of the new initiatives available to Anglicans through the Pastoral Provision, established by Pope John Paul II, have said that the TAC will not make much headway if they hold on too tight to their episcopates. Even the most recent meetings between the “flying bishops” of the Anglican Communion and Rome acknowledged that the bishops would not continue in their episcopal role.

From all indications, Rome may first need to address the overall issue with the worldwide Anglican Communion and the request of some bishops for reception of their parishes before they are able to give any further attention to the TAC request.

The Traditional Anglican Communion describes themselves as a worldwide association of Orthodox Anglican Churches. They report having 400,000 communicants on 6 continents. Members groups include the following:

In Europe: The Traditional Anglican Church (England) and The Church of Ireland - Traditional Rite

In Africa: The Anglican Church in Southern Africa - Traditional Rite, The Church of Umzi Wase Tiyopia, and The Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia

In the Americas: The Anglican Church in America, The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, The Missionary Diocese of Central America, and The Missionary Diocese of Puerto Rico

In Asia: The Anglican Church of India, The Orthodox Church of Pakistan, and The Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan)

In Australia: The Anglican Catholic Church of Australia and The Church of Torres Strait


Today I discovered a very interesting blog called "Eirenikon" which works "Towards Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation." A noble cause and a fascinating blog. Pay them a visit here.

A return to blogging

Blogging has been sporadic recently due to a rather irregular timetable over the summer. I am quite busy some days and joyously lazy on others. Hopefully I will be able to make up for lost time with a few good posts over the next few days.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Ebbsfleet Invictus!

Pinched from Holy Smoke.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.

Bishop Burnham, one of two "flying bishops" in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for "magnanimous gestures" that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.

He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican's head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury "flying bishop", who is expected to follow his example.

Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.

Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

In his statement, Bishop Burnham explains why he is rejecting the code of practice offered to traditionalists by the General Synod last night. "How could we trust a code of practice to deliver a workable ecclesiology if every suggestion we have made for our inclusion has been turned down flat?" he asks.

"How could we trust a code of practice when those who are offering it include those who have done most to undermine and seek to revoke the code of practice in force for these last 14 years? ...

"What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales. Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us."

Monday, 7 July 2008

General Synod

From the BBC:

The Church of England's ruling body, the General Synod, has voted to confirm the ordination of women bishops.

But a national code of practice to accommodate traditionalists was also approved by the Synod, which was meeting in York.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggot said the code would set out as-yet unspecified safeguards.

Some 1,300 clergy had threatened to leave the Church if safeguards were not agreed to reassure traditionalists.

Our correspondent the vote on ordaining female bishops was conclusive and was accompanied by emotional scenes

'Structurally humiliating'

Opponents of their ordination had made the threat to leave in a letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York, but critics say many of the signatories are retired rather than serving clergy.

Women in the Church had said any compromise allowing traditionalists to go to parallel or "super-bishops" instead of female bishops would institutionalise division.

During the debate at the University of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he would be in favour of "a more rather than a less robust" form of accommodating traditionalists.

He added: "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends up, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated to the episcopate."

The first women were ordained as priests in the Church of England in 1994.

I really do hope that the Anglo-Catholics can escape. The Anglican bishops who have recently been in talks with the CDF in Rome are believed to completely bypassed the liberal Catholic bishops of England and Wales. I have also heard rumours that one member of the English heirarchy has gone as far as to say that he is in favour of women in Holy Orders. Kyrie Eleison...

A request

Could any readers out there (I'm sure there must be somebody reading these words!) keep me in their prayers over the next few days. Hopefully I will soon be able to have my family's blessing to become a Catholic. Sadly I've pretty much given up hope of being received before I'm in Rome (next Sunday night lol), so bar a miracle, its going to be pretty depressing being in the Eternal City and unable to receive communion, something which I'd really hoped would be possible. Still, our God moves in myserious ways, so I'm sure such an experience would not be without fruit. Anyway, please remember me in your prayers over the next few days. :-)

Friday, 4 July 2008

Death on the NHS

July 3, 2008 ( - A British "end of life" care protocol approved for use by the National Health Service (NHS), has created a systematic, and legal, method of euthanising elderly and disabled patients, even while "mercy killing" remains officially illegal, says a prominent expert in elder care. The "Liverpool Care Pathway" will be used to eliminate patients deemed to be "blocking beds" in the increasingly financially strapped public health system.

For years, Dr. Adrian Treloar, a psycho-geriatrician and senior lecturer at the Greenwich Hospital and Guys', King's and St. Thomas's Hospitals in London, has been sounding the warning that the NHS has an unofficial system in place to authorise the killing of vulnerable disabled patients with an unwritten policy of "involuntary euthanasia" by deep sedation and dehydration.

On April 26, 2008, Dr. Treloar wrote a letter to the British Medical Journal, saying that the protocol known as the "Liverpool Care Pathway" for dying patients, is a blueprint for systematic euthanasia of disabled patients. The Liverpool Care Pathway, which allows for "continuous deep sedation" for patients judged to be incurable, was developed between the Royal Liverpool hospital and Marie Curie cancer hospices in order to standardise the medical approach to dying that could then be used as a template nationally. Combined with withdrawal of fluids, deep sedation leads quickly to death.

In 1999, the NHS dismissed Dr. Treloar's warnings as "ludicrous." But media coverage of families resorting to lawyers to stop the killing of their relatives has made it increasingly difficult for health officials to deny that there is an accepted euthanasia procedure in place. Dr. Treloar maintains that the motivation for killing patients judged to be incurable is not the relief of extreme suffering but the enormous pressure on the socialised health care system to make hospital beds available and the "triaging" of costly tax-sponsored medical care.

Since that time, the government passed legislation in 2005 - the Mental Capacity Act - that, following existing guidelines from the British Medical Association, allows doctors to withhold all "treatment," including food and water, from patients who are judged to be incapable of making decisions for themselves. Under this law, doctors, and not the family and not the patient, have the last say in whether a patient is judged mentally capable. Once this judgement has been made, withdrawal of fluids can be ordered on the grounds that it is in the patient's "best interests" to die. If families try to intervene to save their loved ones lives, social services and police can be, and have been, called to intervene.

Since 2000, the instances of helpless patients being denied the basic necessities needed to sustain life are becoming more prominent in the news. Only this week, the BBC reported on the case of Mrs. Ellen Westwood, an 88 year-old woman whom doctors had decreed was 'due to die' in February, and whose life was saved only after the determined efforts of her family and clergy resulted in her being removed from the hospital.

Dr. Treloar wrote that the Liverpool Care Pathway threatens patients because its "eligibility criteria do not ensure that only people who are about to die are allowed on the pathway."

"They allow people who are thought to be dying, are bed-bound, and are unable to take tablets onto the pathway. In chronic diseases such as dementia, dying may take years, but
such patients may be eligible."

Elspeth Chowdharay Best, from the anti-euthanasia group ALERT, wrote recently, "Death by dehydration has been occurring for some years in Britain without the new official blessing [of the Liverpool Care Pathway protocol] and sometimes challenged by relatives."

The Sunday Times reported on May 18 this year that many families are "dismayed" that their cases are not being included in a long-term investigation into ten suspicious deaths of elderly patients in a convalescent home in Hampshire between 1996 and 1999. Mike Wilson told the Times that his 91 year-old mother, Edna Purnell, had been out of bed and using a walking frame when she was transferred to the Hampshire unit for what was supposed to have been a brief period of rehabilitation.

Records show that Mrs. Purnell was put to bed and given morphine. The hospital threatened Mr. Wilson with arrest when he was caught feeding his mother. She was judged to be "demented" and thus falling under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act. Mr. Wilson told the times that his mother was not "demented" before she was given morphine: "We are in no doubt that this is what killed her."

Thursday, 3 July 2008

New Stuff

You will notice that I have re-done the blog a bit. The new template is a bit more minimalist and easy on the eyes. The sidebar has been re-done with some nice pictures. If you scroll down the boring bits, you will see that I have compiled a little illustrated version of the life of Christ; some very beautiful artwork (mostly Renaissance) and text from the Nova Vulgata.


Liturgical Rumours

The New Liturgical Movement has picked up on a rumour in an Italian weekly "Panorama" as follows:


The rite of the Mass could change. According to some indiscretions, Benedict XVI has charged the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, the Pope is said to have the intention to restore Latin for the formula for the Eucharistic consecration within the Mass in the "vernacular language", i.e. the one celebrated in the different national languages. The same could happen to the formulae of Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and of the other sacraments. In addition, the exchange of peace among the faithful during the Mass, which today takes place prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, could be anticipated (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory so as not to disturb the recollection that precedes Communion.

These would be changes which would be added to the changes in the liturgy and regarding sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, has made in recent months, to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful in the mouth while kneeling, the recovery of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the changing of the style of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in the Consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.

Remember folks; these are just rumours. However, I'm sure many of us are pleased to hear this, particularly with regard to the place of the peace during the celebration. It was moved to its current place during the liturgical revisions of Gregory the Great. If it were moved it might prevent the chaotic general free-for-all that seems to take place in most celebrations of the current Novus Ordo. One wonders how many times Fr. Z will type the words "Marshall Plan" should he post on the matter...

St. Thomas

Today is the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Poor Thomas always seems to get bad press as "Doubting Thomas". Saint John tells us that when the Resurrected Christ appeared to his disciples on the evening of Easter Day, Thomas was not present, leading to his disbelief when the others informed him of this wondrous event. A week later the Apostles were all gathered together in the house. Christ appeared amongst them. Thomas recognised Him and acknowledged Christ as "My Lord and my God!". Just as Peter proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as Christ, so too St Thomas here proclaims clearly his and our acknowledgement of the Divinity of Christ; he is thus also called Thomas the Believer.

According to pious legend, it was St Thomas who witnessed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The apocryphal "The Passing of Mary" explains that the other apostles were present at the Virgin's deathbed, the Dormition, but that Thomas was characteristically late! It was only when the Apostles took him to Mary's grave that it was found empty.

St John of Damascus mentions it thus:

"St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven. "

A more generally accepted fact is that he evangelised vast swathes of the Middle East and India. Some modern Christians in India who trace their roots to his mission are know as the "Thomas Christians".