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June/July 1999



Was it by their "fruits" or by their "friends" ye shall know them? Whatever. As the following graphic "fruits" and the list of liberal contributors to Basil Hume's latest 'biography' attest, you can tell an awful lot about a person on either count. And certainly, from a strictly Catholic perspective, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster has been keeping 'bad company' for a very long time. The irony, of course, is that not his fawning liberal coterie but, rather, his orthodox critics will be the ones praying and working for his salvation during the cruel battle he faces with cancer in the months ahead.

Since Hell and Purgatory are anathema to liberals, and since the Cardinal is already canonised in their eyes anyway, it is left to us, as always, to tell him the truth he doesn't want to hear; to save him from himself. For there is much he needs to ponder and put right in the remaining time Providence has generously afforded him. Some of our northern priestly subscribers who observed Archbishop Worlock in the last months of his agonising death, have spoken of a contrite and humbled man. Grace can pierce even the hardest and blindest of Modernist hearts. We simply leave all that to the mercy of God, just as we entrust Christian Order's plain-speaking to His inscrutable designs in nudging the clerical conscience. Which prompts me to plainly address one dreadful aspect of today's episcopal mentality suggested in the ensuing pages.

It seems that postconciliar prelates are somehow able to compartmentalise the Faith in a way which would have unnerved their predecessors. Compartmentalising consists of thinking and acting as if each element of Catholicism operates in isolation from the other. By putting, say, social justice into one mental box and administration of the sacraments into another; doctrine in this compartment and education in that one; philosophy here and perceptibility there. Earlier generations of the apostolic succession would have found it utterly perverse to hold an orthodox line on pro-life and moral issues, for example, while simultaneously allowing dissent and liturgical fecklessness to rage unchecked. Yet today such episcopal schizophrenia is de rigueur. It manifests itself at several levels.

At the macro level it is viewed most clearly in the grand separation of the Church into pre- and post-Vatican II eras, as if we made a clean break with the past and started afresh after the Council. The intermediate level is most evident in the general divorce of lex orandi (right worship) from lex credendi (right belief). At the micro or working level it dictates the everyday absurdities we suffer, whereby a priest's doctrinal dissent or scandalous sexual improprieties, for instance, pose no barrier to his bishop allowing him to exercise his marvellous communication skills in the domains of media or religious education and formation.

Compartmentalising cuts away the thread connecting every facet of Catholic sacramental and social life and leaves a prelate blind to the contradictions he mouths, acts out and carries in his very soul. It is the new schismatic form which, of its nature, ruptures the unity of the Faith, yet in a private way without effecting a formal canonical break with Rome. It evokes, paradoxically, a private schism with a very public, almost manic, face. It can be heard in the special pleading of the English bishops that "England is a special case," permitting them, therefore, to do their own thing in isolation from the universal Church. It is clearly evident in the critiques which follow.

If Satan is the underlying source of this contemporary blindness which afflicts our Fathers in the Faith, who have compromised their high calling in so many ways, his handiwork is never more apparent than in the dogged refusal of our compartmentalised bishops to admit that they have been led by the nose into a new church which they have made their own. A seductive, counterfeit faith to which they cling furiously without the slightest inclination of undertaking robust orthodox reform of themselves or their rapidly disappearing dioceses. And so I have no doubt that the Bishop of Rochester's life, attitude and worldview recounted herein will seem to them 'pre-Vatican II'; mediaeval; incomprehensible. For their preferred epsicopal role models, you see, are the likes of Basil Hume and Cahal Daly! May God have mercy on them all! St. John Fisher, pray for us!

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