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August/September 2000



"A man's enemies will be the people of his own house."
Matt. 10:36

In accord with Our Lord's teaching that the eternal struggle for truth inevitably and necessarily gives rise to divided households and enemies within [Matt. 10:34-37; Lk. 12:51-53], my recent address at the Faith of Our Fathers conference, as the title alludes, was essentially concerned with the salvific themes of winnowing and polarising. This reflected, too, the aim and intent of the conference as a whole. Indeed, what made the 20 May 2000 gathering even more of a watershed conference than the inaugural May '96 spectacular, was the courage of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice to commit itself to a landmark airing of ecclesiastical 'dirty linen' which would not merely draw predictable fire and scorn from the faithless but also polarise opinion among the faithful themselves.

From the outset, the invitation extended to the Editors of Christian Order and Catholic Truth to address the conference, a clear show of intent by the organisers, proved far too provocative for those who have spent their postconciliar years on the merry-go-round of 'souffle symposia'; light, fluffy talk-fests sufficient to satisfy the meagre militancy of would-be champions of orthodoxy while neatly avoiding the strong polemical meat that might rile the Westminster set. In this 'jolly hockey stick' milieu, orthodox egos and the desire to retain ones respectability in the eyes of a corrupt ecclesiastical Establishment are to the fore. Such as these declared themselves by their obnoxious pre-conference sniping about the invited speakers and/or their subsequent non-attendance. Unable to 'tame' the conference and mould it in their own ineffectual image, some of their number have now spat the dummy in the dirt and stomped off to organise an alternative, poor man's Faith of Our Fathers: stalls without the talks - a kind of Catholic 'Supermarket Sweep' to be opened, of course, by one Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. ("Pathetic" and "perfidious", I do believe, are the words you're groping for).

Yet these faint-hearted false-optimists - these 'Pollyanna Catholics' as Daphne McLeod rightly dubbed them - doubtless saw the writing on the wall, since by telling the unadulterated truth about the current state of play, the conference speakers set out to ensure that, for once, appeasing Almighty God (rather than prideful men) was the order of the day. This refreshing candour ultimately created an electric atmosphere and buoyancy among the great majority of the 1,000 strong crowd which was palpable; typified by such comments as: "[the conference] has changed my life" and "I feel on fire [to do more for the Church]." And yet, as expected, the talks touched a few raw nerves which helped further polarise the five per cent of the audience who preferred to take umbrage rather than renewed vigour from hard-sayings about faithless Shepherds.

Interestingly, and in contrast to the enthusiasm of the numerous young Catholics in attendance, a goodly number of this small but loud minority - the modern incarnation of those sixteenth century Catholics who defended wicked prelates while sleepwalking into Anglicanism - were males of pensionable age or thereabouts. Still unable after three decades of episcopally-led madness and mayhem to see the Catholic wood for the Modernist trees; oblivious to their baptismal duty; forever rationalising, excusing and whingeing while the local Church burns - I am inclined to label them a pack of "old women", a pejorative label they richly deserve. But, truly, that would be an insult to the uncompromising elderly females among our readership who have more Catholic conviction in their little fingers than these whimpering "old men" could muster in their entire collective anatomies. Instead, I would merely paraphrase the plea that a priest, quoted by Pat McKeever, once made to their infuriating ilk: If after all these years you still don't have the stomach for a fight for Christ and what is left of His Holy Church in these parts, then at least have the good grace to get out of the way and stop obstructing and frustrating the efforts of those who do!

So much for the long overdue winnowing of orthodox ranks, the polarising of the Pollyannas and the naming and shaming of prelates hell bent on Anglicanising the local Church. There is not much left to say. Everyone present at the talks or who reads them and listens to them on the tapes advertised below (and both the texts and tapes must be distributed far and wide!), can consider themselves told; about the horrifying and treacherous predicament we face and what is required from each and everyone to make a difference. There can be no more excuses. And whatever the immediate future holds for the conference itself now that it has reached its original target date of this Year of the Blessed Trinity, what a providential exercise Faith of Our Fathers has proved to be. We surely owe a great debt of gratitude to Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for undertaking this brave and demanding venture which climaxed with such elan at the great Westminster Central Hall on 20 May 2000.

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