Saturday, 18 September 2010
There was the added advantage of being able to have a cup of tea. Water was the only beverage on offer at the centre...
So, I settled down with the Papal Visit live webcast, and opened up Photoshop so I could save any screenshots which grabbed my attention, and then I opened up Tweetdeck on my mobile phone so that I could tweet away to my heart's content.
As expected, the Mass in Westminster was marked by beautiful music, and the Holy Father's vestments were simple but elegant. The vestments worn by the concelebrating priests were of a similar pattern, but they had a slight hint of the "horsehair blanket" look about them to me - the material didn't look quite as good.
I did get a little irritated by the cameraman's fascination with Tony and Cherie Blair before the Mass started, and was a little concerned that he'd keep returning to the pair during the Mass, but I needn't have worried. The coverage by the Papal Visit site had the distinct advantage of being without commentary - and, apart from a few glitches where the sound seemed to switch to that of the piazza outside the Cathedral, it was pretty good.
I was amused by this at the start of the Mass - the Holy Father's security detail flanked him as he passed the rows of priests, almost as if they expected trouble, and they looked as if they might even accompany him onto the Sanctuary... did they think that the Bishops of England and Wales might not be his biggest fans?
Pascal Uche had been entrusted with the task of welcoming the Holy Father on behalf of the young people gathered outside - about 2,500 of them, from every diocese in the country - and he gave a stunning speech. The crowd of young people cheered and screamed when the Holy Father appeared, and they really seemed to give the Pope an extra boost. That encounter has to be a highlight of the day for me - and it's definitely a swipe in the direction of all the Holy Father's detractors - non-Catholic and Catholic - who say that Pope Benedict is out of touch with the youth.
Ha! Eat my shorts, as Bart Simpson would say.
The Holy Father finished up by returning to the Cathedral to bless a mosaic of St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales, to light a candle before the statue of Our Lady of Cardigan and to give a short address to the people of Wales (since time didn't allow the Pope to visit Wales in person.)
The Prayer Vigil in Hyde Park has started - I saw a tweet to say that the Parish group from Our Lady of the Rosary has arrived safely - but the Holy Father has returned to the Nunciature in Wimbledon for lunch (and possibly a siesta) before he heads off to St. Peter's Residence, Vauxhall. That's a residential home for the elderly, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.
I was planning to pop over to the Vigil for an hour or so, but there wouldn't be anywhere to sit at all, and I figure that I'll be better off continuing to rest the old knee. I'm attending a dinner in honour of the Holy Father's visit this evening, at Chislehurst Golf Club (which was the residence of the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie) so I shall be sure to bring my camera along to that...
As I explained in my last post, I was yelling "We love you, Holy Father!" and waving my papal flag (not easy on crutches) when Pope Benedict looked at me and smiled and waved. Definite eye contact. It was only after that that I raised my camera for a photo - unfortunately the popemobile was going at a pretty brisk pace, but you can still see how close I was...
And I couldn't resist cropping the photo to show Il Papa, up close and personal (apart from the bullet-proof glass, that is...)
I am now going to go to bed... tomorrow is another busy day...
Friday, 17 September 2010
I had intended to wander over towards Millbank so I could cheer for the Holy Father as he went in to speak in Westminster Hall. However, as I left the Media Centre, I saw that the barricades were up and I'd have had to walk all the way around Parliament Square and then down Millbank, and, quite frankly, my knee just wasn't up to it. However, one of the policemen outside explained that the Holy Father was due to drive past Little Sanctuary (outside the Media Centre) on his way to Vespers at 6:15pm.
I looked at my watch. It wasn't quite 4pm. That meant standing outside for over 2 hours. I contemplated going back inside the Media Centre, but one glance at the building crowd convinced me to make the effort.
I figured that it might be a good idea to powder my nose if I had to stand outside in the cold wind for a couple of hours. As I headed back to the Centre, I was promptly pounced upon by Greg Clovis from EWTN. Would I be willing to be interviewed? Now, you know how much I hate having my photo taken. But this was to show support for the Holy Father, so I bit the bullet.
No sooner had I finished than I was accosted by Leutgeb. We went over to speak to some ladies who were singing the chorus to God save our Pope and Ave Maria, and then moved over to the barrier.
I managed to lean right up against the barrier, thanks to the kindness of some fellow pilgrims from New Malden who moved over a bit, as it made it easier with the crutches. This meant that I was in the best possible position... or, rather, the second-best possible position. I jokingly remarked that we really ought to find someone with a baby...
The crowd was remarkably good-natured as they waited. Gradually the numbers increased, and the sense of anticipation heightened. I had a good chat with one of the policemen who explained that this was very different from his normal "beat" - he was trained to level 2, which meant that he was used to dealing with football crowds and the handling of riot shields...
There was, he said, a very small (but vocal) group of protesters who had managed to get themselves a prime spot near the end of the barricades. It was interesting (but not surprising) to note that, when the press arrived in force to enter the Abbey, they seemed to focus exclusively on that end of the crowd. I shall look at that in more detail when I get home. However, they really were a minute section of the huge crowd.
A massive cheer went up when the popemobile was sighted coming around from the Palace of Westminster. Flags were waved madly, and then put down again as everyone reached for mobile phones and cameras. As I predicted, the Holy Father stopped to have a little baby passed to him - quite close, as it happens.
As the Holy Father approached me, he looked straight at me - I yelled out "We love you Holy Father!" as loud as I could, and I swear he was lip-reading, because he smiled at me and waved. Up came my camera, and I got a great photo, but he'd already moved past a little, so he wasn't looking at me any more. I don't care. The Holy Father smiled and waved at me, and it's a moment I shall treasure...
I'm feeling pretty blonde...
Anyway, the Media Centre was really buzzing by the time I arrived, and the first thing I saw on the screens was the news that five men had been arrested. No further details seem to be forthcoming. Hey, I thought this was supposed to be a Media Centre. Where's the inside info!!!???
Everything is gearing up for the Pope's visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury in about 45 minutes. I'm listening to the Papal Visit live webcast while typing this... it's more interesting than watching either Sky or BBC news.
In an attempt to justify my Papal Visit Press Pass, I took the opportunity to chat with Fr. Stephen Wang to hear his views on the visit so far. He told me that the most interesting thing was the fact that everyone has been wrong-footed by the Holy Father: they were expecting Pope Benedict to be critical and negative, and, in fact, he has concentrated on the things to celebrate and praise - and reminded us to remember why Britain has such a great heritage - namely its Christian roots.
Luke Coppen just popped over and tapped me on the shoulder - he is off to Westminster Hall for the next stop on the Holy Father's itinerary. Just looking at how much the Holy Father is managing to pack into each day has me gasping for breath.
Ok, I am going to abandon my computer, briefly, so that I can find a spot on the route for the popemobile. If you hear reports that a mad woman on crutches has started yelling the place down, you'll realise who it is...
I took a few photos while I was at the Media Centre, and I've uploaded a selection of them to my Flickr page. I have succeeded in borrowing a laptop, so tomorrow I should be able to blog properly, with screenshots of some of the action instead of having to take photos of the television... I'll also remember to bring a phone charger...
I enjoyed meeting some of the Catholic Voices - I think they've done a pretty good job of standing up to the media onslaught. No, it hasn't been perfect, and sometimes one might have wished for a more robust defence of the Faith, but the team have been under an immense amount of pressure, they aren't full-time media personnel, and they haven't been around for very long. I know that I wouldn't have done as well in those circumstances - I'm better with the written word than with the spoken one!
Anyway, Neil D'Aguiar, Ella Leonard and Michael d'Arcy were ready to be interviewed by anyone who wanted to know more, while Eileen appeared to be co-ordinating things (she claimed to be purely administrative!) I was extremely flattered to find out that my blog was known... although they admitted to reading it only intermittently. Better than not at all... More of the "Voices" turned up at intervals, having appeared on TV or radio...
It was also fun to meet Jack Valero. He looked a little tired, which, given the number of places I've seen his name crop up, is only to be expected. He told me that he hoped that Catholic Voices would be around for much longer than just the duration of the Papal Visit. I asked Jack what he thought about the bus adverts calling for women priests, and he told me that, after the initial announcement of the adverts being run had gone up, one television station (I forget which) had wanted to do a piece on them... only no-one could find any buses with the adverts on them... so the piece had been dropped!
It was great to hear the new MacMillan Mass setting being sung for the first time - though it is worth bearing in mind that the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei had Cantor-Congregation repeating phrases, whereas the Mass as originally written does not. The repeats did interrupt the flow, in my humble opinion.
Seeing the Holy Father drive round the crowds at Bellahouston Park was amazing. Despite all the negative coverage in the press, the people of Scotland showed up in huge numbers. One spokesman said that they had opted for 65,000 tickets for the Mass rather than filling the place to capacity because they figured that people would be more comfortable with a bit of space to put down a chair or blanket rather than being jammed in like sardines. Even so, there didn't seem to be much in the way of space between people. Even so, I think someone said that there were many more people present. That, plus the estimated 125,000 who were lining the streets in Edinburgh, means that at least 190,000 people made the effort to go and see the Holy Father on his first day.
The most moving part of the day for me was when the Holy Father stopped the popemobile, lowered the window and kissed the baby that was passed in to him. He actually did this twice... the camera managed to home in on the mother of the second baby (the one in a pink fleece) who was positively hopping up and down with excitement as she immediately phoned someone to let them know that her baby had been kissed by the Pope. Awesome!
The major disappointment, for me, was what looked like the deliberate flouting of the Holy Father's preferred "Benedictine arrangement" of the altar for Mass. Putting the six candles on the ground, three each side of the altar, does not achieve the same thing.
Right, unless I want to oversleep tomorrow, I really had better finish.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
It appears that the police figures are reporting 125,000 people present - more than for Pope John Paul II's visit...
Not that it's a numbers game...
Anyway, as a result, I am trying to blog from my mobile. There is this huge empty room with TVs round the edges tuned into BBC News and Sky News. Right now, that is proving to be rather trying - as the Pope is having lunch and no cameras are there, the news is focussing on Peter Tatchell who is trotting out the same old distortions of the truth...
Gradually, the room is filling up. It's rather exciting to be here.
I spotted a little corner of the room had been claimed by Catholic Voices, so hopped on over to introduce myself, and later even had a chance to chat with Jack Valero.
Tomorrow I hope to see the popemobile as the Holy Father makes his way to Westminster Hall. Media estimates of numbers in Edinburgh have ranged from tens of thousands (Sky News) to 100,000 (BBC News).
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
According to their blog, the Transalpine Redemptorists are leaving Papa Stronsay so as to see the Holy Father in Glasgow.
He'll be there tomorrow. Just one more day...
The Grauniad printed a letter protesting the Holy Father's State Visit to the UK.
It will be interesting to see if they allow Bones's letter to make it into print... don't hold your breath. Just in case they don't, here's what he plans to send...
We, the undersigned welcome the His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to the UK as both Head of Vatican City and as leader of the World's one billion Catholics and to the Catholic community of the United Kingdom. We believe that his presence in our country comes at an urgent and pressing time, highlighting the trends in our country that serve only to denigrate human rights and human dignity. We support him wholeheartedly because in guarding the Deposit of Faith he:
Opposes the destruction of human life in the womb and values human life from conception to natural death.
Opposes the trend towards refashioning the institution of Marriage, thereby denigrating its inherent stability, rooted in the natural order, as being between one man and one woman.
Opposes the trend in the UK towards testing on human embryoes, experimenting upon them and stripping the unborn of dignity, under a hitherto illusory and deceitful justification that this form of experimentation will yield medical benefits for mankind.
Has worked tirelessly to change the culture of the Catholic Church to take very seriously allegations or incidences of child abuse. He has, in his Church career, made the scourge of child abuse an issue which should be brought to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to be investigated and acted upon effectively, setting up child protection procedures and policies which now make the Catholic Church the safest place for a child to be. He has offered his time, his prayers and has met personally victims of child abuse and has made statements of the Church's penitence regarding crimes committed by clergy against the child, promoted reconciliation and healing of the victims.
Promotes a vision of humanity which advocates a culture of life, stability, marriage, lifelong fidelity and love in which children are welcomed, rather than destroyed, in which human beings are open to new life, rather than treating the possibility of new life with contempt.
Upholds the innate, God-given dignity of all human beings regardless of their sexual orientation and upholds the rights and dignity of society's most vulnerable, the poor, the starving, the outcasts, the mentally ill and distressed, the disabled, elderly and sick and those who are so often disregarded by the rest of society. We thank him for encouraging the Faithful regularly to serve those who are on the margins of society and in whom Christ is served.
Established within the worldwide Catholic Church a mechanism by which the Traditional Latin Mass can be celebrated by Priests in Churches in which it is requested, thereby restoring to the Church a traditional liturgy, the loss of which has been a wound in the Body of Christ.
If you would like to have your name appended to the letter, say so in the combox over Bones's Blog.
Admittedly, it shows my age, especially singing the song at the end.
However, if you need cheering up after having glimpsed or heard one of the Catholic Voices for Reform, Catholics for a Changing Church, Stand Up for Vatican 2, or Catholic Women's Ordination - or, perhaps, as the membership seems to be pretty much identical, all three, then pop on over to the Curt Jester's place, and phone Geistbusters.
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Unfortunately for Archbishop Nichols, while Adamus's views may not reflect his own opinions, they are rather obviously accurate... just think of the embryonic stem cell research, human animal hybrids, the Mental Capacity Act, the calls for assisted suicide, the definition of food and drink as "treatment" which can be withdrawn... I could go on, but it's depressing.
This rather makes one wonder which country the Archbishop is living in. Sounds like quite a nice place to live... it certainly bears little resemblance to England...
Anyway, the phrase "Epicentre of the Culture of Death" appears to have struck a chord, and Ben has started a blog with that very title. Ben's profile isn't available, but one assumes he's in the UK. Pop on over and say hello.
As it transpired, I thought that Blackfen came out of the whole programme rather well, and, although I felt more could have been made of the (very articulate) young people in our parish, I do understand that not everything can be used in the final programme.
However, it seems that not all BBC journalism is as unbiased - Independent Catholic News carries a report of a shocking breach of trust by a BBC journalist in a North London parish.
Barbara O'Driscoll, a parishioner who was present at the Mass and saw exactly what happened felt so strongly that she wrote to Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC. She concluded that the BBC had misrepresented the parish and parishioners:
Penelope Middelboe, of the newly created Catholic Voices for Reform (May 2010) was shown attending the service at St John Vianney’s, including a close-up, and being interviewed outside the church, giving the impression that she was a parishioner and supposedly a spokesperson for the parish. (I do not understand why she was brought to St John Vianney’s when the interview could have been held elsewhere.)
When the reporter Robert Pigott was speaking, parishioners were shown in the background leaving the church. He said: "The poll shows that large numbers of ordinary Catholics are, by disputing important teachings on issues like celibacy and the role of women, prepared to challenge the Pope’s view on exactly what the church’s message should be".
The report does not show any of our parishioners expressing their opinions. So this could be understood that those parishioners who were filmed leaving the church shared the views of what the reporter referred to as 'ordinary Catholics'.?
It pains and saddens me that I now have to question the integrity of the BBC. It deceived our parish priest and did not do what it had explicitly received permission for, which was to seek the opinions of parishioners at St John Vianney’s.
I'm afraid that I have long distrusted anything produced by the BBC on the subject of Catholicism. It does make me wonder about the integrity of the BBC in other areas...
Monday, 13 September 2010
"...The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.
"While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful."
It appears that Peter Hitchens picked up on Red Maria's Quiz Post, and the answer (though it may have been a complete coincidence) when he wrote his blog post for the Mail Online (which was also his Mail on Sunday column.)
A good journalist, Peter Hitchens contacted Tatchell to ask him about his letter (written in June 1997 to The Guardian newspaper.) Tatchell immediately tried to distance himself from the letter - saying that he was actually defending free speech in calling for a book, Boy Love, not to be censored.
Hitchens points out in his article that actually, Tatchell was going much further than just calling for a book not to be censored.
Peter Tatchell appears to have been sufficiently rattled by the article to add a comment on the blog itself. As, to date, there are four pages of comments, I thought the whole comment would be worth reproducing here. Note that, in order not to lay myself open to accusations of selective reporting, I have cut and pasted the whole comment, along with the editorial decisions of the Mail Online not to include links...
Peter Hitchens was commendably fair in contacting me to fact-check before writing his column. But contrary to what he suggests, I don't see any hypocrisy in my stance. Unlike many Catholic clergy, I have never abused anyone. Unlike the Pope, I have never failed to report abusers or covered up their crimes. I am against child sex abuse and the protection of abusers. Full stop.
My 1997 letter to The Guardian concerned the book Dares to Speak. This was an academic book, authored by professors, anthropologists, a Dutch senator and a former editor of a Catholic newspaper. They were, among other things, attempting to examine the vexed issue of the age of consent and the balance between giving young people rights and protecting them against abuse. I think this is a valid matter for debate. Even though I disagree with some of the authors, I believe they have a right to be heard.
My Guardian letter was in defence of free speech and open debate about the issue, in opposition to those who said that the questions raised by the book were without value and should not be heard.
As Peter Hitchens mentions, my letter to the Guardian cited examples of Papuan tribes and some of my friends who had sex with adults when they were under-age, but who do not feel they were harmed. I was not endorsing their viewpoint but merely stating that they had a different perspective from the mainstream one. They have every right for their perspective to be heard. If they say they were not harmed, we should respect that (while also acknowledging that others are harmed by early sexual contact and do suffer).
My letter did say that sex with children is "impossible" to condone - meaning that I don't condone it.
This is reflected in my various writings.
Here's an example of what I wrote in the Irish Independent two years ago:
Irish Independent – 10 March 2008
[edited by admin - links not allowed]
"The time has come for a calm, rational debate about the age of consent. It should be premised on four aims. First, protecting young people against sex abuse. Second, empowering them to make wise, responsible sexual choices. Third, removing the legal obstacles to earlier, more effective sex education. Fourth, ensuring better
contraception and condom provision to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions and to cut the spread of sexual infections like HIV."
Note that my first priority is protecting children against abuse.
I have said similar things in many other articles and interviews.
See this Guardian article, published in September last year:
[edited by admin - links not allowed]
People may disagree with me, but I am taking a clear ethical stance and moral framework, which stresses mutual consent, respect and fulfilment. My arguments and articles are not about abusing young people but protecting them. That's my motive.
I hope this clarifies and reassures.
Best wishes, Peter Tatchell
Posted by: Peter Tatchell | 12 September 2010 at 12:55 PM
I'm sorry, but Tatchell's attempt to eat his cake and have it too just doesn't wash. It doesn't clarify, and it certainly doesn't reassure. To say that "it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful" in the context of his friends' having sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13 is just ludicrous. Whether a person believes he or she was harmed by a sexual relationship with an adult is immaterial. The fact remains that an adult has abused them, by taking advantage of their inability to give full and free consent to a sexual relationship.
Why Tatchell is held up by the mainstream media as someone worth giving airtime to is beyond my comprehension - but then, I didn't understand the media's views as to Roman Polanski's exploits, either. I think I'm going to stop writing this because it's making me feel quite ill...
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Well, to be more specific, polite words fail me.
In my last post, I jokingly highlighted Fr. Tim's tongue-in-cheek parody of the efforts which the Bishops of England & Wales have made to prepare for the first ever State Visit of a Pope to the United Kingdom. This is a truly historic occasion. And it seems as if the Bishops of England & Wales don't really care one way or another... The Scottish Bishops, in comparison, got themselves together to commission a beautiful new tartan, which they then presented (in tie or scarf form) to every Member of the Scottish Parliament.
Reading Fr. Ray Blake's latest post, I now see that Fr. Tim's parody was waaaaay out of line... the Bishops of England & Wales have actually produced a booklet, which explains all things Catholic for any non-Catholics who might be involved in the visit, like police or technical chaps.
Unfortunately, it assumes that these non-Catholics are complete idiots, who need to have the various events translated into "yoof speek." The idea seems to be that these non-Catholics might not know how to behave at religious events. After all, previous media coverage of the State Opening of Parliament, the various Royal Weddings, the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and Basil, Cardinal Hume, were all terribly marred by the bad example of the police and the technical staff, weren't they?
Telling them that the Mass is equivalent to a "gig" is hardly going to ensure reverent behaviour. The whole thing is just so awful that I want to run out and apologise. I'll probably have to, when I go to the Media Centre and see all the non-Catholic journalists, sound technicians, camera crews, etc. who are being patronised and insulted by this piece of garbage.
It's also rather interesting to see that liturgists are supposedly like performers. Perhaps that explains why we seem to have lost the concept of liturgy as the official worship of God by the Church...
Sorry, couldn't resist...