Release the Birmingham Three!

Just a brief note, but Damian has put up something quite important relating to the Brum Oratory saga. His main point is that, notwithstanding the approaching papal visit and the centrality of the Oratory to it, this boil has been festering for so long that it needs to be lanced. And so it does – one would hope that at some point even the most obscurantist of Catholic hierarchs would realise that “let’s keep this quiet lest we rock the boat” is not a winning strategy these days.

There are in face two interlocking stories that have both been rumbling on for months. One is the case of Fr Paul Chavasse, who had to leave the Oratory after stories of his close friendship with a young man started doing the rounds. Everybody concerned swore it was a completely chaste friendship, but tongues were wagging and the Oratory management, alert to the possibility of scandal, moved into action. Too bad for Fr Paul. That is the simple bit.

The more puzzling bit is the matter of Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry, who were all sent into exile by the Oratorians’ apostolic visitor a few months back. More precisely, they were ordered to spend an unspecified amount of time in prayer, at locations several hundred miles away from each other. Very few people know why, and none of them are prepared to say, except that there is no question of impropriety – which prompts the question of why the severe punishment at a very exciting time for the Congregation. Rumours, of course, have been flying around Birmingham, and James has been doing an admirable job following up the story. There is some vague talk that this has something to do with the Newman beatification, all three of the exiles having been involved with the Newman Cause, but that could cover all manner of sins. It could of course just be personality clashes or bog-standard factionalism at the Oratory.

Anyway, some parishioners have got so frustrated at the Oratory’s stonewalling that they’ve issued an open letter on the subject. And this serves the worthwhile purpose of dragging the matter further into the spotlight, where the Oratorian bigwigs would rather it was not. At this point, they can either rescind the punishment or give a clear explanation of why the punishment was imposed in the first place, preferably both. What is not sustainable, especially with the Oratory in the spotlight coming up to B16′s visit, is to sing dumb and let the rumour mill go into overtime. As Max Clifford will tell you, if you don’t control the story then somebody else will.

Oh, just one thought. While the Oratorians themselves have been very shy and retiring, the press officer for the Newman Cause has been popping up on BBC West Midlands to say that there’s nothing to see here, honest guv. In fact, at one point the press officer was keen to issue a press release saying that there was no story here. That sort of thing causes me to slap my forehead in despair. Transparency is a viable press strategy, as is plausibly spinning the story; total silence not quite so good; what I don’t think is viable is the equivalent of sending a press release to a school of sharks telling them exactly where in the water they can find blood.

Did I mention the press officer for the Newman Cause is the ubiquitous Jack Valero? I don’t want to be nasty about Jack, who is a perfectly pleasant fellow, but surely the reason he gets all these media gigs is that he’s supposed to understand how to handle the media? Still, it could be worse. They could have left it to Jennings.

24 Comments

  1. shane said,

    July 28, 2010 at 1:07 am

    The Tablet reported that they were sent away because of disputes over Newman’s beatification. Hopefully they’ll be let back soon. It would be a shame if they were to miss what is perhaps the most important day in the history of their congregation.

  2. shane said,

    July 28, 2010 at 1:16 am

    http://freethebirminghamoratorythree.blogspot.com/2010/07/correspondence-between-oratory.html

    A group of parishioners at the Birmingham Oratory, members of the NACT, have written to Fr Felix Selden C.O. Delegate of the Apostolic See for the Confederation of the Oratory. This a copy of their letter, and his response.

    Dear Father Seldon,

    We are writing to you in the hope that you will answer our questions about the unexplained expulsion of Father Dermot Fenlon, Father Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry from the Birmingham Oratory, where we have been parishioners for over fifteen years. We have been assured by Father Richard Duffield, the current Provost, that these men are guilty of no wrong doing, a fact of which we were in any case completely convinced. He does not feel able to give us an explanation, however, and has directed us to you.

    It is difficult to overestimate our sense of loss. As parents of six adopted children from a variety of traumatic backgrounds, we have valued Father Dermot’s gifts in the Confessional that have done more than anything else to help them cope, with confidence in God’s love and mercy. We have hugely appreciated the efforts of Father Philip to uphold with courage those aspects of the Church’s moral teaching that many would despise, including, tragically, within the Church itself. Brother Lewis did wonderful work to defend the authentic teaching on conscience of Cardinal Newman, in defence against those elements that would pervert it. On the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, we watched the gallant but elderly Father Winterton stagger about the sanctuary on a stick while the Confessionals remained empty, the names above them all absent. In God’s name, why?

    Please do not assume that because relatively few have spoken out openly that there is not enormous upset and concern among Birmingham Oratory parishioners and indeed many in the wider church in England. There is considerable unrest and indeed a rising tide of anger which is becoming worse by the day. The vague references to internal disagreements simply do not add up, given the severity of the penalty these men are undergoing.

    Please will you tell us whether these men are going to return to the Birmingham Oratory or not? If they are to return, when will that be?

    Yours sincerely,

    Dear . . . .

    Thank you for your letter in which you express your great esteem for members of the Birmingham Oratory which is currently under apostolic visitation. As much as I can understand your concern about missing Oratorians, who assisted so laudably to your family, I ask you to acknowledge the nature of a canonical visitation reserved to the Holy See and conducted in conformity to the Law of the Church and the Constitutions of the Oratory. I hope that you will understand that I cannot disclose any information to externals about persons who are concerned. Several speculations recently spread in the English public about measurements of this visitation have not originated from me and I will presently neither confirm nor repudiate them. Please assure your friends, who are upset, that the scope of this as each canonical visitation is the common good of the Church and the welfare of the concerned community and all her members, who are given sufficient opportunity to bring forward their arguments and always maintain their right to defend their interests according to the norms of the Church. It is not helpful when Catholics without intimate knowledge of the matter spread speculations, or protest against the apostolic visitation in the public sphere, as they create scandal and might dangerously harm the Church and the Oratory of Birmingham.

    As far as I know, without exception all Fathers of the community uphold with fervour the entire Magisterium of the Church and the Holy Father as they all do their best to spread the authentic teaching of Cardinal Newman.

    Let me end this letter in personally expressing to you my great admiration for your Christian testimony in having adopted six children. This is wonderful, and I am praying for you that you always have the strength and the help of divine grace to give them a good Catholic home and can serve them to become happy and devout Christians!

    With all best wishes yours in Christ

    Fr Felix Selden CO
    Delegrate of the Apostolic See for the Confederation of the Oratory

  3. marcpuck said,

    July 28, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Anyone know if there is regular provision for ‘apostolic visitations’ in the CO’s fundamental law? and are they normal, regular, foreseen, scheduled functions of the CO governance? or is Fr Selden’s mission the outcome of a specific, one time, ‘extraordinary’ intervention by Rome? I suppose I could do some research but am too lazy. (What is Father Selden’s first language, I wonder? He sounds to be a… very old school–which is not necessarily a bad thing of course but the letter left me shaking my head. “As far as I know, all the Fathers…”. )

  4. Policraticus said,

    July 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    According to one commentator on James’s blog that in answer to the remark that “DT has not mentioned this before” , he states:

    “Could the answer to this lie in DT’s own blog entry on Notting Hill Carnival August 2009? http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100008073/so-i-went-to-the-notting-hill-carnival/
    ..”when I say I “went” to the Carnival, I crossed Westbourne Grove to buy a pint of milk, which took about half an hour, during which time I saw a spectacular float, lots of cute young people enjoying themselves and a quite astonishing number of obese young women (white and black) stuffing their faces with triple servings of fried chicken.”

    ‘cute young people’ ???? An interesting way to describe an observation made more interesting by following it up with a reference to the ‘obese’ females but not the males.

    So although [ ] DT ‘spilt the beans about the departure of Fr Chavasse’ – one has to ask why he spilt the beans? Was there something of the ‘poor old Fr Chavasse’ going on [especially because of his 'chaste but intense' friendship with a rejected candidate for the seminary] rather than the spirit of; ‘God bless and reward the Three’ for standing by the integrity of the memory of Newman and trying to protect his legacy of true freindship with Ambrose St. John from becoming the centrepiece of innuendo and the platform for pushing the collective Catholic consciousness towards accepting as normative the future ‘blessing’ of same-sex [chaste but intense'] unions?

    Of course the Bishop of Paisley has made his views clear on this subject but the Archbishop of Westminster -as commented previously by James- isn’t sure ‘what’s doen the road.’ “

  5. SalisburyJohn said,

    July 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    When Newman was made Cardinal it put to rest, as he expressed it, “all the stories which have gone about of my being a half Catholic, a Liberal Catholic, not to be trusted”. When the news arrived in Birmingham that Leo XIII had determined to bestow upon him a red hat, Newman said exultantly to his Oratorian brethren, “The cloud is lifted from me forever.”

    OR

    When news comes through of Frs Fenlon, Cleevley and Br Berry being restored to their beloved Birmingham Oratory, they might well say to themseves;
    “all the stories which have gone about of our being disruptive to the harmony of the Community, and being hardline Catholics especially regadring sexual orientation and not to be trusted with the Newman Archive can now be put to rest”. And when their very visible public presence is seen alongside the Holy Father at the beatification of their Founder with the English and Welsh Bishops, the UK Vatican Ambassador [Tony and Cherie Blair?] Frs Selden, Harrison and Duffield and the Oratory spokesman looking on; they could pray to God in gratitude: “The cloud is lifted from us forever!”

  6. Petrus said,

    July 28, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Some Irish TDs and Senators who have just allowed a landslide victory to bring in Civil Partnership legislation [even though its clean contrary to the spirit and letter of the Irish Constitution and its protection of the natural family] argue that the ‘right’ to same-sex ‘union’ is a ‘personal religious belief’. Yes that’s right: ‘a personal religious belief!’ Now here’s a strange thing. Why the new tack in the language wars over furthering gay rights? Haven’t Stonewall et al always argued for gay rights as human rights and nothing to do with religious belief??? Well yes thay have but notice now how Tatchell of Stonewall says it’s ok for Christians to speak against homosexuality as long as they dont incite hatred and violence. How reasonable of him [them] since as good Christians we cannot disagree with that – so it must mean that he feels safe to argue on that basis, because more and more soundings from within the structures of the Catholic Church indicate a level of ambivalence about equating the doctrinal teaching on marriage [between one man and one woman] with respect for same-sex unions* One method of paving the way for such parity of esteem might be promoting the idea that there is such a thing as ‘chaste but close’ relationship between people of the same sex? [cf the story about Fr Paul Chavasse and his young friend] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7132493.ece

    And what better way to cement in the public consciousness [both Catholic and non-Catholic] this idea of parity between tradtional marriage and treating as normative same sex ‘unions’ than to talk of and view both lifestyle choices as [you guessed it] a ‘personal religious belief’ !
    But that may be too big a leap for many people to make so you need a cultural bridge that’s well timed and in tune with the mood of both Catholic institutional authority, the inertia of ill-formed and uninformed laity and the powerful pro-gay forces of the State. So why not peddle the notion that the great and renowned Englishman John Henry Newman [as it happens the key focus for the forthcoming papal visit to the MOST anti-family, anti-marriage state in Europe - Gt Britain ] had a ‘chaste and close’ relationship with his brother in Christ – Ambrose St. John?
    But would it really be genuine and authentic to imply that a contemporary relationship between an Oratorian today with a younger man [especially a layman rejected for priestly formation] is in any way remotely equal in sanctity to that between two deceased members of the Oratory from the 19th century? Surely not? but then it depends on what your agenda is doesn’t it? That same sex ‘unions’ [chaste or otherwise] are a ‘personal religious belief’?

    *Recall the deacon Frank Wainwright this March in the diocese of Clifton who was instructed to apologise for his comment in a homily that ‘marriage is for Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’ as it was deemed offensive and homophobic.

  7. Gregory78 said,

    July 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I read the reply from Fr. Felix Selden CO with interest. He states that “the nature of a canonical visitation reserved to the Holy See and conducted in conformity to the Law of the Church and the Constitutions of the Oratory”.

    I understand that the expulsions were carried out by Fr. Ignatius Harrison. What I do not understand is why he was accompanied by Fr. Gareth Jones who was a novice at the Birmingham Oratory, but only for a period of about 12 months.
    Fr. Gareth Jones-a University Chaplain from the Archdiocese of Cardiff-was Secretary, close friend, confidante and staunch supporter of Archbishop John Aloysius Ward.
    Why was a recently departed ex-novice of the Oratory appointed canonical adviser to the Visitation? Is this not a contravention of Canon Law?

  8. mundabor said,

    July 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Even after V II, I do not think that parishioners should regard members of religious congregations as if they were their property, or as if they had any right to know why they have been removed.

    They have been removed, because the apostolic visitor thought it fit to remove them. There is no accusation of misconduct. Period.

    If the Oratory has decided that it is better to be silent on the matter, this means that they have thought this the proper conduct and we should respect this instead of starting the bickering and the peeping into other people’s affairs.

    I disagree with the idea that if they don’t control the story, other people will.
    They know the truth, other people don’t. Hints and rumours will never persuade intelligent people, idiots will believe what they want to believe anyway.

    M

  9. mundabor said,

    July 29, 2010 at 10:26 am

    “I understand that the expulsions were carried out by Fr. Ignatius Harrison.”

    I am surprised at reading this, gregory78.

    Fr Ignatius Harrison is the Provost of the Oratory in London, not Birmingham. I’d be surprised of him having any influence on the Birmingham Oratorians as, AFAIK, every Oratory enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy.

    I’d rather say, with the blog host, that the measured were decided by the apostolic visitor, who is basically a papal envoy.

    M

    • Petrus said,

      July 29, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      Mundabor – I think you will find that Fr Harrison was appointed by Fr Felix Selden as his delegate even though it has been stated elsewhere on James Preece’s blog that Harrison himself is under ‘visitation’ [I am informed] by the current provost of Oxford. Indeed rumor has it that the Commuity at Brompton have petitioned the authorities in Rome to have Harrison demoted in some way as Provost – why? who knows but one thing is for sure it brings in to question [if it's true] the appropriateness of Harrison as someone to do Selden’s work and further discredits what Selden describes as ‘the nature of a canonical visitation’ when someone who is under visitation procedures himself is carrying out a visitation process on others and to make it worse relies on canonical advice from someone who used to be a novice where one of the Three was novice master! Huh! objective, just, without bias???? I have my doubts

  10. mundabor said,

    July 29, 2010 at 10:33 am

    “Fr Selden’s mission the outcome of a specific, one time, ‘extraordinary’ intervention by Rome?”

    Marcpuck, I am not less lazy than you are ;) but I attend at the London Oratory and have distinct recollection of the visit from the papal envoy being described as a routine one.

    This makes sense as -always AFAIK – the Oratorians are not subject to the authority of the Bishop, but are answerable directly to the Pope. In the absence of diocesan supervision, it is not surprising that “inspectors” would come from Rome as part of a routine.

    I might be wrong of course, or I might have a defective recollection.

  11. Liberal Traditionalist said,

    July 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

    The side-issues of which Provost of which Oratory is doing what to whom is an unwelcome distraction. The “Press Spokesman” is on record that the three did nothing wrong – why then does the Congregation of the Oratory not reverse its original decision and return them now.

    No one will condemn the Apostolic Visitor of eventually doing the right thing if it is done quickly and well in advance of the Beatification. It will not be seen as a climb-down by the Birmingham Oratory’s parishioners and friends.

    If there is external pressure on the Oratory on doctrinal issues, it is dangerous for the entire worldwide Congregation’s future independence to submit to Diocesan pressure. Local Bishops will keep coming-back again and again if they let them.

    All the continued absence does is to deprive the parishioners of the support it needs when the outside world is watching. It then in turn generates unhelpful speculation about three men who are on record as having done nothing wrong. All this, in tuthe end, discredits all three Oratories in England.

    “Oneself”, “Foot” and “Shooting” is all that springs to mind here.

  12. James Findlayson said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I’m betting on them all being present at the event, smiling, as if nothing were wrong, in what’s coming to be the regular, two-faced, manner of which many clergy seem to be rather fond…

    This, and all the confidential memos that fly round dioceses from Bishops’ Houses, all go to feed the Dan Brown conspiracy mentality towards Catholicism.

  13. August 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Jackie Parkes said…
    Dear CF News, James P,bloggers, Oratories, Lay people, clergy etc

    I have been following the debate regarding 3/4 Oratorian Priests & one brother.

    What is very clear is that people have been put in the position of “choosing sides”.

    This is just not “Catholic”. We are all on the “same” side.

    Fr Felix Selden has spent some considerable time trying to placate ” both sides. ”

    I don’t find his tone threatening – just explanatory.

    I beseech as an NACF & Oratory supporter & mother of a large family that the battle ceases.

    Please can we be assured that Almighty God will ..restore peace.

    I beg you to reconsider any protests or demonstrations before &/or during the Papal Visit.

    Whilst I sympathise with the letter writers & it has been helpful to explain concerns, perhaps just out of

    Christian charity we could leave the subject for now. I know that the 4 are being looked after well.

    I personally don’t see this as “giving in”. There are the other Fathers suffering as indeed we all are.

    Can we call a “truce” for now & after the Papal Visit perhaps ask for a meeting with Fr Ignatius Harrison?

    With regard to my own very public “demise” re my uncharitable blogging about one of the Fathers, I feel I & my family have suffered enough over the last few months..for me deservedly so but not for my children.

    However the family are doing fine & me..I can clearly see the Oratory problem. Please note that not all of the 3 are the stalwart pro-lifers but rather like us all fallible. I know this because I worked in my own home with some of the fathers on the sex education programme, so much so that one converted to the Catholic Pontifical viewpoint.

    I do think it is true to say also from knowing very well that the PP has worked tirelessly on the pro-life campaign.

    Regarding the other priests I am very uncomfortable with the descriptions of Fr Gareth Jones’s involvement. Again I know him too & he has nothing but praise for me & my large family & always a kindly father & shepherd. I do not think he deserves such criticism & I do think some of the accusations against him are libelous. All I’ve ever seen him do or hear about doing is saying Mass.

    With regard to Fr Paul Chavasse I have still a very high regard for him. Which of us hasn’t had a chaste. intense friendship?

    I thank my close friends & family for supporting me through a very painful time of my life. I’m sure the fathers get support but is there any way, we as Catholics can all forgive & move on ready for the joyful beatification?

    I think the B3 have the message we all support them, perhaps we can drop the subject & let the Oratory get on with its’ business?

    I know my CF friends won’t desert me over this post..even if they disagree with me because they know what I’ve been through. I hope the Oratory Parishioners don’t launch an attack on me or call me hypocritical because truly I’m being honest.

    I pray for the day when I’m welcomed back to the Oratory as I haven’t really settled away. I hope the priests return ..all of us only if it is God’s will.

    I pray through the intercession of St Joseph..

    Humbly

    Mrs Jackie Parkes

    • Gregory78 said,

      September 5, 2010 at 11:43 am

      Nobody will ever forget the voracity of your criticism towards The Oratory Mrs Parkes. All well and good to ask people to forgive and forget, your unkindness coupled with the deplorable treatment of one of the Fathers and some parishioners is not so easy to forget.
      Your staunch defence of Fr. Gareth Jones is far from wholesome, embarassing to say the least, it puts Fr. Jones and yourself in a very bad light.

  14. mundabor said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Liberal Traditionalist,
    if the three are on record as having done nothing wrong there should be no speculation at all.

    Conversely, if there is the will to exercise oneself in speculation every declaration from the Oratory will not be listened to.

    What I think we forget here is that the three have been (temporarily, I understand) removed *for a reason*. If we don’t know the reason why they went, we can’t argue why they should come back.

    M

    • Liberal Traditionalist said,

      August 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      Mundabor, you’ll appreciate that in the new post-1963 church, sometimes the Faithful have a sharper perception of events than the clergy. There are probably Seven times Seventy reasons to return them to the Oratory (in time for the Beatification) but here’s three to start and finish with:-

      * the majority of comments from the informed Birmingham Oratory parishioners implore their return because they feel deprived of their spiritual guidance – a good enough reason in itself perhaps?

      * the official Newman Cause spokeman goes on record on local BBC radio to state that “they have done nothing wrong” – perversely there remains no prospect of a return in time for the beatification and the duration of their separation makes a harmonious return difficult to achieve – their parishioners will need them just as much after the beatification as they do before it

      * the adverse publicity brings disrepute onto the Oratorian Congregation – have a look at that other Blog on the Telegraph – there are enough defamatory allegations on there to make any fair-minded person squirm – it’lll only get worse as the weeks go on.

      There have several occasions over the past two decades when the Oratory quite rightly hasn’t dignified uninformed gossip by responding to it. As someone who frequents all three of their churches, I worry that too many – inside and outside the Church – are enjoying the current piteous spectacle. Since the initial Press Release in December, all they have done is fuel more intense and unwarranted speculation.

      I see enough comments saying that we should all shut-up and go away but I don’t see any comments that the Congregation and the local Bishops have been keenly astute and adept in the way this affair has been handled.

      I also get the overwhelming impression that the majority of Birmingham Oratory parishioners are glad that sufficient volumes of conscientious outsiders Come to their Aid and in their Battle take Part.

      I don’t think anyone will accuse Fr. Selden of a climb-down or a U-turn if one or more are returned sufficiently in advance of the Beatification.

  15. mundabor said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Petrus,
    could you please point out (if possible) to your source that Harrison be himself “under visitation”.
    AFAIK (and as I said, I might be wrong) of course he was “under visitation”, as I have told the Oratorians are routinely “visited” because they do not have bishop supervision. When Fr Seldon came to the Oratory he celebrated Mass and the process of the periodical visitation was explained to us in the pews. Nothing strange there.

    M

  16. mundabor said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Petrus,

    also not clear to me are a couple of other things. Again, just asking for information:

    1) why would fr Seldon select Harrison as his delegate. He was there for a longish period of time himself and could certainly take every important decision himself. That’s why he visits after all. I haven’t found sources saying that he really gave any power to Harrison and I am grateful if you can help.

    2) if Seldon has given Harrison some “controlling” tasks, it means that he has complete confidence in him. This seems to contradict the idea that he be under fire himself. But this doesn’t explain why Seldon replies to the parishioner himself instead of leaving the tasl to Harrison. I mightbe missing something here, though.

    3) I attend at the Oratory almost ever Sunday. Never a word. I think a lot of people are just too fond of speculations.

    4) I haven’t yet traced everything the Preeces have written on the matter. From what I have read up to now I fully agree with Fr Seldon.

    5) I haven’t found (up to now) any indication of Harrison’s position within the Oratory being in question.
    Besides, the Oratorians elect their Provost every three years and changes of Provost are not uncommon. Harrison is there because he has the trust of his fellow Oratorians, not because he is Sedon’s or the Pope’s man. Also, I think that by such a short duration of the office the need of an internal “coup d’etat” would not be there in the first place.

    Grateful for every bit of information (not rumours of course) I can receive.

    M

  17. Liberal Traditionalist said,

    August 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I myself also worry about the speculation relating to Apostolic Visitations.

    Surely if Oratorian Priests feel uneasy wuth the conduct or views of their Provost, they merely wait for the Triennial Election. By my reckoning, the London Oratory next elect (or re-elect) their Provost In February 2011 – 6-7 months away.

    I might be wrong but I’m using Fr. Napier’s 1984 Centenary Guide Book as the chronological source.

    If the current speculation is to be believed, those who re-elected Fr. Harrison in 2008 “suddenly” feel uncomfortable in 2010. Apart from the sad loss of Fr. Barrett-Lennard, the electoral demographics haven’t shifted.

    I enjoy Fr. Harrison’s monthly advice in the Oratory Magazine and I’ve greatly enjoyed his preaching over the past two decades. I, for one, would regret his passing – should the Electorate get it wrong in February..

    There’s a very helpful article from him on the Newman legacy in this month’s Magazine

    http://www.bromptonoratory.com/index_files/Page552.htm

    Perhaps it’s also time to look forward as well as back.

  18. mundabor said,

    August 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Liberal Traditionalists,
    as far as I understand the Oratorians, if Harrison is not re-elected this wouldn’t mean that anything “regrettable” is occurring in the first place. The Provost is just a primus inter pares and he may himself feel that he doesn’t want to be in the political front line anymore. I do not think the Oratorians charge these elctions emotionally or expect a Provost to be automatically re-elected.

    Interestingly, the Oratorians’ rule prescribe that they make turns in serving the others at table to practice the “serving each other”. In a remarkable show of equality, the Provost is not excluded from the task.

    I think Harrison is the right man for the job in that in him diplomacy and faith unite, but I do doubt that whoever else should be -in case – elected would make an excellent job too.

    M

  19. mundabor said,

    August 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Liberal Trditionalist,
    there is nothing like a post 1963-church, there is only the Church. Morals never change and it is not that humanity has improved in the meantime so that their perception is sharper now than it was 100 years ago. Due to worse catechesis, probably the opposite is the case.

    1) no it’s not. They can implore, the Oratory can say no or even refuse to answer. If they implore a second time they are nagging; if they implore a third time they are being arrogant.

    2) this begs the question. If there’s nothing wrong, than there’s no problem. A decision we know has been taken for reasons we don’t know. If you trust them, you accept the decision without having to know why.

    3) The Oratory is not responsible for any adverse publicity, nor should they care about that. People who want to write evil things do it *because they are evil people*, not because the Oratorians stay silent.

    4) The same with the enjoying. Evil people will always enjoy. The more the Oratorians talk, the bigger their enjoyment. Silence is the best way and most importantly it is the way they have chosen.

    5) It is not about being astute. It is about telling them what to do. They mioght make mistakes but they are their mistakes. Once they have clearly showed how they want to handle the thing, any further pressure will only contribute to the enjoyment of the evil men.

    6) There is no conscientious objection within the Church. Besides, the Church is not a democracy. One likes the Oratorians of one doesn’t. If he doesn’t trust them, he doesn;t like them and he should look for a different place of worship.

    M

    • Liberal Traditionalist said,

      August 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm

      Mundabor, with all due respect, you give us all the impression that you just don’t get it.

      Many of us who admire the Oratory genuinely and firmly believe that a grave injustice has been done.

      The overwhelming majority of the neutral observers openly state that it’s been mishandled – “These men are guilty of no wrongdoing” (c. J Valero).

      If there was a time for the Congregation’s Apostolic Visitor to just plainly do the astute and expedient thing it is now and not some indefinite moment in time after the beatification.

      Why not go there one Sunday and sense the discontent, disbelief and dismay.

  20. J. Basil Damukaitis said,

    September 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I have some limited familiarity with all three communities. May I simply express some sentiments of my saintly grandmother. Soon after my father left our family, my maternal grandmother cautioned to not be too harsh, for while actions can be objectively good or evil, one never knows what goes on between a couple. Same with a community.

    Whether one likes Fr. Ignatius or not as provost is no one’s damned business (I happen to like him very much). That’s up to the Fathers at London to decide so I think we all better keep quiet.

    Regarding the B3, and Fr. Chavasse. I am intensely sad they were excluded from the ceremony. They are all fine men. I enjoyed my time with them very much. While I suppose we must trust the decision of ultimately Fr. Sedlen as Delegate Apostolic, externally a grave injustice was done to remove them without reason. The CCC states we have a right to our reputation and sadly the B3′s have been mired by the simple action.

    My Benedictine sensibilities tell me that as Oratorians, they are attached to that house, and that removing them seems to be a grave injustice based on the veru nature and the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Oratory, and the stated intentions of Holy Father Philip. You’re family through thick or thin.

    Lest there be any mistake, movements this dramatic and of this magnitude ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS involve a bishop or bishops. There’s blood in the water, and though Sedlen was appointed boat captain for the rescue, the blood was put there by a bishop or bishops….


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