Wednesday, 17 October 2007

If I were Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster I should...

Fr Ray Blake asked - I'm only an ASDA shelf-stacker and that's where God wishes me to be; If I were even a priest someone would have poisoned the altar wine by my second sunday in the parish...

Ok - here's my nightmare scenario !!!!

[ In a fantasy Benign [but draconian] dictatorial province ]

I should ask his Holiness for seven retired bishops emeritus of renown as temporary auxiliary Bishops : two to co-ordinate the financial/administration aspects of the diocese - the other five to form a quorum with myself to investigate the roles of a] The priesthood b] catechesis and religious education c] Liturgy d] Social and pastoral policy e] the Laity
...within the entire province.
I would then ask His Holiness for two independent vatican teams:
One to investigate and discern every aspect of the National Conference of Bishops.
The other to Investigate seminary formation and national priestly life [including an inquiry into the national conference of priests].

Then I would inform every bishop and priest and church employee that they were to be expressly canonically forbidden to comment on the procedure to either the media or within any form of newspaper or journal - with the guarantee that after trinity sunday they could say whatever they wished - but they must expect consequences if it is contrary to Holy mother church's teachings on faith and morals - they could call me all the names under the sun and expect no retribution.

I would then place everyone upon notice that I would at the last sunday before Lent:

1.Suspend :
a] RCIA , catechetical , 'faith formation' and every other form of religious instruction 'initiative/programme' including 'continuing training and development'
b] RENEW, 'Echoes', 'driven by the spirit', 'build my church', 'Pax christi', 'Justice & Peace', 'home is a holy place' ,'who am I ?', 'ministry of welcome' , 'vulnerable & marginalised' and any other intra-diocesan organisation/programme/initiative.
c] All Oecumenical Activities/programmes/initiatives
d] 'Sharing in His Life' and all other liturgical programmes/initiatives.
e] The department of pastoral afairs
f] The Education commission and education service
g] all training for/awards of the catholic certificate in religious studies
h] all sales of audio/video/resource literature
i] all youth ministries.

2. Abolish Caritas and any other organisation financially supported by the faithful , when it is solely a heterodox, immoral and reprehensible mouthpiece for all things destructive and contrary to Holy Mother Church . And as for the rest who are guilty by association ? they'd be on probation - I'd suspend every other affiliate of the national conference of Bishops on an employee pro rata maximum wage of £10,000.

3. Temporarily close down all seminaries; and provisionally suspend all national priestly formation - every seminarian would become the personal guest and temporary 'pastoral assistant' to their respective diocesan bishop. Every trainee religious would be requested to return to their chapterhouse and be under the temporary personal care and scrutiny of their provincial. These measures would include the Venerabile Collegio Inglese. Every cleric , religious of nun working or studying abroad [apart from in developing world missions] would be recalled.

4. Close St Patrick's Soho and any other faith centre found to be heterodox or suspect; and place St Joseph's pastoral centre on 'special measures'. These places can always be re-opened but under my terms !

5. Place every member of Westminster cathedral administrative staff on provisional suspension; and inform the respective diocesan bishops that I should expect this provision extended to every other cathedral in the province.

6. Every permanent Deacon would be informed that they are temporarily 'pastoral assistants' to their respective Bishops ; and expect this position to last a minimum of two years - all occupational and family requirements should be speedily dealt with to ensure a minimum of twelve hours per week assisting and being personally trained/guided by their Bishop: and that they will be expected to preach a sunday and weekday homily in their respective parishes. All other parish duties would be suspended.

7. Every parish extraordinary minister of holy communion, catechist, liturgist, musical leader etc will be offered the opportunity to enter into training for the role of pastoral assistant through which they would administer weekly communion to the sick, elderly and housebound and ensure that every parishioner/parish family received a pastoral visit ; they would also be trained to assist in all chaplaincies - prison/hospital/homeless/care homes etc and liaise/accommodate themselves to organisations such as the SVP, legion of Mary etc. They would also be trained in performing Eucharistic services where access to reception of the Blessed sacrament is available daily to every resident of every urban and rural Mission parish.

8. The suspension of the saturday evening 'vigil' mass and its replacement with a sunday evening mass. Every Holy Day of Obligation would also be expected to retain an evening mass which could accommodate working catholics and children from state schools.

9. The provisional removal of all school catechetical or sacramental preparation material and its temporary replacement with resources published solely by Ignatius press.

10. Every Parish [including mission parishes] would have mandatory Sunday Devotions and Benedixion, Friday Mass, at least one weekday evening mass, a minimum hour-long parish gathering after a Sunday mass, a weekday Novena devotions to Our Lady, a Holy Hour and the minimum of an hour confessions - all confessions would occur during exposition of the blessed sacrament and holy communion would be made available to all in a short service after confession. The priest assigned to a mission parish must ensure he is present for a minimum of two afternoons/evenings within the mission parish excluding any other ministerial duties.

From Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday within the entire Province it would be declared a period of Reflection, Examination of personal and collective conscience , Penance & Reconciliation...
Every able cleric , lay-person and organisation would be requested to compose a journal of their personal/collective experiences during this period - their regrets, sorrows, failed aspirations and their firm desire for amendment.

During this period I would spend some diocesan resources to buy a temporary television channel available on Satellite cable and Freeview - laden with catechetical, spiritual and reconciliation material gathered from the vast amounts of neglected media resources
in the EWTN archives

Upon spy wednesday - I would link up every Bishop in their respective cathedrals via satellite and together we would hold a provincial wide penitential service - requesting the services of every priest from a religious order to assist the hearing of confessions in EVERY parish in the province.

From Easter Monday for the next month - EVERY cleric would be requested to spend a fortnight on retreat - their places being taken by religious orders or borrowed international clerics. During this time a questionnaire will be distributed to every catholic in the province - intricately detailed with all aspects of their spiritual, intellectual, family, social, communal and parish life.

Then ?
What do you think I would do ?
Hold some great pastoral council ? a gathering of clerics and laity to discuss, discern and deliberate in committee and clades and inner rings ?
Think again !!!!
Everyone's filled in a questionnaire - their voices will be heard and not one word will be lost - all will be reflected and discerned by those who possess the pastoral duties and responsibilities over the faithful - but a 'democratic' Council where the ordinary person's voice is drowned out by the 'occupational clergy' and professional laity ; and Truth, authenticity and sincerity are abandoned and every principle descends into a mire of 'relevancy' and 'social awareness' and 'personal ministry' ?

You've got to be kidding ! I've seen the havoc they wreak !!!

Rather I would listen to every voice - But first comes the Clergy - they've had nearly a year to reflect and discern their ministry - a fortnight in private seclusion and prayer....

Then would come the Amnesty :
Every Bishop, priest and religious will be given the opportunity to confess any social wrongdoing, sexual indiscretion, dereliction of clerical duties, any heterodoxy or abandonment/loss of faith [personally and solely to the quorum under the seal of confession [with their own bishop present if requested]] under the guarantee that [unless it's criminal assault] their sins/failings/change of life will be forgiven with understanding and they may be laicised with the guarantee of employment and social care/welfare for life ! Yet should they wish to continue in the priestly life ;they must submit to the personal guidance, support and shepherding of their Bishop .

This would last until Trinity Sunday: Then would come the Purge....
What would this entail ?
How would I know ?
Assuredly the dismissal of many heretical catholic academics, the revocation of licences and the 'silencing' of all those who refuse to teach or adhere to the faith and moral teachings of holy Mother Church. Perhaps the closure of all seminaries ? An 'excommunication' of the Tablet from being sold in any church establishment ? the removal/replacement/transfer of many clerics with possibly a considerable amount of priests being sent for re-training or undergoing intense clinical psychological assessment and therapy ? the promotion/early retirement of many ?

It would depend upon the deliberations of both the quorum and the independent papal commissions.
maybe many institutions/organisations/commissions/initiatives would resurge or resurrect under new administrations.
Perhaps every catechist/ RE teacher/catholic school headteacher in the whole country might need a considerable amount of time in re-training ?
Perhaps the whole notion of priesthood needs rethinking ? No longer trapped in the four walls of the presbytery six days a week , alienating themselves from their communities and disenfranchising the faithful in the process - a return to the sacrificial spiritual centre the shepherd, the shoulder to cry upon, the ear to listen, the firm hand to guide, the gentle whisper to advise , the teacher from the pulpit to instruct and support of the community being a member of every family yet belonging to none ?
And we continually see the priest as a solitary figure - isolated and alone - disparate from the parish as in this marxist sociological false construct he must alienate himself from them in order to be an effective objective pastoral minister - almost like a scapegoat with no solace or support from any - especially his fellow brother priests - rudderless and receiving no direction from his 'protector' bishop - THIS MUST CEASE !
This could take years, decades, generations ?

But a Cardinal Archbishop - a hinge descendant of the Apostles in whom the fulness of priesthood is encapsulated - HAS to exercise his spiritual , teaching and pastoral authority over his flock lest he abrogates his duties and responsibilities - he reneges on his vows...


Phil said...


First reading, it appears ultra extreme and draconian. However, with reflection on the current ills that plague our beloved national Church, your remedy offers a realistic solution. More of the (liberal) same will just lead to the Church's continuing demise. You're right. We need an archbishop who's not afraid to kick arse!

Cf Matt 7:14-21

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

You know that piccy of the pope saying the rosary as he walks along with those teo men in black on either side of him-we need a piccy of Fr Ray with you and Philip on either side looking holy-menacing.

Anonymous said...

This tackles a number of serious issues, which haven;lt been addressed for some time.

Just one question - why pick on Echoes? Haven't actually seen it, but heard good things about it What's wrong with it?

On the side of the angels said...

re: Echoes
As I said, I'd know practically nothing about the real running and functioning of any programme/initiative - even the ostensibly benign and virtuous - which is why echoes and st joe's should have to undergo the same scrutiny as the pastoral council and st pat's.
Anecdotal evidence would not suffice - it's anecdotal recommendations that got most of our bishops in the places they are today - together with the nation's main liturgists and educationalists - and well ? go figure !

Anonymous said...

Fair enough!