Despite the pervasive worldliness and ongoing scandals that have disfigured clerical life in recent times, most Catholics still retain an instinctive and abiding love for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. It has ever been so. The faithful have always managed to distinguish between the institution per se and those less than edifying links in that glorious priestly chain stretching back to the High Priest Himself. This is just as well, since the history of the Church is strewn with examples of clerical betrayal. "The clergy," as one eminent American convert recently put it, "have been the heretics in the Catholic Church since Judas." What is more, it has often been the most efficacious clergy, the bishops - beginning with Judas himself - who have led the mutinies.
The chameleon-like character of Modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies," has enabled it to penetrate and overcome every sphere of contemporary Church life, thus rendering open confrontation with the Vatican (itself partial to the heresy) redundant. Contemporary bishops can now effect a break with Rome under diverse covers of mainstream Modernist pseudo-spirituality, pseudo-pastoral concern, pseudo-ecumenism etc. etc. without the least fear of reprisal, as long as they feign unity with the Pope and don’t make too many public waves. Spare Head Office undue embarrassment, in other words, and you can have your schismatic and/or heretical cake and eat it too. This is The Game. In the English-speaking world, its consummate Players have been the bishops of England and Wales under Basil Hume and Derek Worlock.
Cardinal Hume cannot take all the liberal plaudits for this subversive state of affairs. The episcopal closed-shop which has mastered The Game was developed in tandem with his mentor Derek Worlock, the late Archbishop of Liverpool. So as to avoid the scandal and turmoil stirred up by belligerently dissident prelates overseas – which occasionally prompted Vatican intervention and the imposition of supposedly "conservative" bishops - Hume and Worlock, exploiting the ingrained reticence of English ecclesiastics, tongue-tied their National Conference by oversighting lukewarm or liberal appointments guaranteed to toe the party line, while establishing episcopal "unity" as an absolute and overriding value regardless of truth. The resulting ‘quietism’ apparently satisfied a Curia not only preoccupied with troublesome episcopates elsewhere but itself riddled with Modernists sympathetic to the English cause. In any event, as Longley notes: "Give or take [some] minor rebuffs… the Hume-Worlock approach to Church leadership has tacitly been endorsed by Rome in a whole series of episcopal appointments to the English hierarchy which gradually replaced the contemporaries of Heenan with those of Hume and Worlock; men of the temperament of Heenan with men of the temperament of the latter two."
There is no doubt that His Grace Archmodernist Worlock was characteristically smug about his mastery of The Game and the selection of episcopal Players. As if to confirm the point, on 13 May, 1996, during a Radio Merseyside analysis of the lengthy delay in appointing Worlock’s successor, Father Peter Morgan of Toxteth revealed all. "The only anxiety many of us have," he whispered knowingly, "is, does this [delay] indicate that somebody is going to be appointed Archbishop who somehow or other in some way isn’t acceptable to the hierarchy and bishops as a whole? Archbishop Derek did say to me once, that as long as the Bishops stuck together, there’s no way in which a man of a conservative ilk could be imposed on any diocese in our country."
The programme host explained to listeners that: "By conservative Fr. Morgan means someone opposed to the Spirit of the reforming Second Vatican Council… Archbishop Worlock embraced that Spirit – which for all intents and purposes might be described as more laid back! For Fr. Morgan, an Archbishop who didn’t share that vision would send shock waves through the clergy." In hushed and urgent tones, Father then went on to describe this "conservative" prelate from Hell: "I think he’d be a very authoritative person who’d be telling us exactly what to do and telling us you can’t do this and you can’t do that, and if you’re doing this you’ll have to stop it. I think he’d put the brakes on ecumenical development. Many a priest would feel very angry about it and feel betrayed really."
After twenty-five years, Modernist clergy thus formed in the episcopal image now dominate the pool of potential hierarchical Players available to keep men of "conservative ilk" out of The Game.(1) It is surely this vicious circle that moved a respected senior priest of the Westminster Archdiocese to comment, at a social gathering last year, that "the Church in this country is run by a clerical tyranny." A tyranny which, like all bona fide despotism, brooks no dissent, as many an orthodox Catholic commentator has discovered. In 1996, for example, Alice Thomas Ellis’ perfectly accurate and refreshingly blunt assessment of Archecumaniac Worlock - that he drove the faithful from the Church and brought the Liverpool Archdiocese to its knees - got her promptly sacked from the Catholic Herald, as dissident clerics beat their breasts and feminists rent their boiler suits in unholy rage at her debunking of their sainted Modernist maestro.
Unfazed by the liberal vitriol, Alice spoke to the secular media of a "bullying, authoritarian" hierarchy who "will not listen to the people" and went straight to the hypocritical heart of The Game: "The old Church was supposed to be autocratic," she explained, "but this new mob will not have one word of criticism. I think that Hume had tried to get me sacked before. And then the Cardinal claims he’s very against censorship. That means he won’t have any of the liberal stuff censored – only orthodox Catholics." She then added: "They were venomous, the liberal forces." "Hume also?" asked the interviewer. "Oh, yes," she replied. "He’s hopping mad with me."
Thus the clerical club rails and closes ranks whenever this orthodox shut-out - the wicked raison d’etre of The Game – is challenged in any way. It so utterly preoccupies them that even in his funeral panegyric at Westminster on 25 June, Bishop Crowley could not resist informing the assembled multitude and TV audience of how the Cardinal and Archbishop Worlock had striven to keep the local Church "from the clutches of extremists" [read: orthodox Catholics]. At times such "extreme" elements have threatened their fortress, as in the proposed imposition of an Opus Dei priest as Bishop of Northampton in 1989, which, as the Anglican Church Times reported, "was prevented only by what has been described as ‘obsequious diplomacy’ on the part of Cardinal Hume and his fellow bishops." Archbishop Couve de Murville briefly challenged the liberal hegemony again in 1994 when he spoke out strongly against Bishop Konstant’s infamous sex education programme, only to be fiercely set upon and silenced by his brother bishops. Those instances apart, however, the Modernist stranglehold on every facet of Church life in England and Wales has never been seriously threatened as liberal "yes men" like Vincent Nichols, Peter Smith et. al. have been elevated one after the other.
This solidarity allows the bishops, whether acting alone or in Conference, to dissemble without fear of contradiction. Thus complaints to Cardinal Hume about the obvious neglect of his disciplinary responsibilities under Ad Tuendam Fidem, or his refusal to remove the ultra-dissident Catholic Women’s Network from the Catholic Directory, or his dismissal of Roman sex education guidelines as too idealistic and not applicable to "families in this country," all met with precisely the same denial as that issued in collective statements. The bishops’ news release of 14 November, 1997, for instance, flatly denied the existence here of the liturgical, sacramental and pastoral abuses condemned in the Vatican’s Instruction on the collaboration of the non-ordained in the sacred ministry of priests: "the bishops recognise that the particular situations which obscure the ordained ministry highlighted in the document are not reflected in current practice in England and Wales." It is common knowledge, of course, that they are positively rampant!
of Holy Fear
The sense of awe and fear that filled the Israelites who came into contact with God [Ex. 36] has been caricatured since the Council as a servile fear preoccupied with punishment. This has suited the dissenters who prefer to stress an alleged New Testament "love" that embraces and sanctions any and every sincerely felt deviation from the Faith or dereliction of episcopal duty. But like the Israelites the disciples, too, were filled with awe by the works of the Lord [Mk 4:39-41, 16:8; Lk 5:26]. Fear may be less employed in the New Testament, as the Modernists are forever reminding us, but it remains an essential quality of the Christian attitude [Acts 9:31; 2Cor 5:11]. Love overcomes worldly fear [1Jn 4:18] but the Christian must live constantly in reverent fear of God [Rom 11:20; Phil 2:12].
Once the Modernist caricature of servile fear is seen as the self-serving propaganda that it is, we begin to understand that the reverence and awe which follows from contemplation of God’s "fearful and terrible deeds" [Ex 34:10; 2Sm 7:23] is in fact a filial fear which causes the soul to turn not only from sin but also from every tendency to refuse God anything. It is in this sense that the Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord as the "beginning of wisdom" [Job 28:28; Prv 1:7; Sir 1.16]. Appreciation of God’s goodness thus increases, and with it grows contempt for self and all created goods – since whoever is moved by fear is blessed in seeking nothing of this world. At root, therefore, it is precisely this loss of holy fear that accounts for the worldliness and accompanying lack of wisdom, humility and orthodoxy among so many postconciliar ecclesiastics. How else to explain the fact that the Bishops of England and Wales now feel free to dissemble and even lie (as exemplified above) with impunity?
Whatever we make of this lacuna in the spiritual life of bishops, however, the fact is that The Game would not be possible without the co-operation of the Curia, the Apostolic Nuncios and, to a large extent, the English and Welsh laity themselves.
The listless, almost defeatist attitude of the Vatican has been noted by Vittorio Messori, himself the author of book-length interviews with Ratzinger in 1984 (The Ratzinger Report) and with the Pope in 1994 (Crossing the Threshold of Hope). "I find it odd," he commented early this year in respect of Ratzinger’s bemoaning the demise of the Old Mass, "that Ratzinger, the guardian of orthodoxy, the ‘night watchman’ of the Faith, limits himself to lamenting the situation, as if he were powerless to do anything about it. Like Paul VI when he signed the decree that opened the way to the vernacular Mass with tears streaming down his cheeks. Or like Wojtyla himself. In 1994 when we were working on Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he mentioned to me some of the things which were going wrong with the Church. I had the impression that he felt powerless to intervene."
This is not to say that Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II have not spoken out time and again against clerical crimes and misdemeanours, but the defeatism which underlies Rome’s abject failure to back-up fine words and legislation with disciplinary actions - to tackle systemic dissent in the hierarchy - remains inexplicable and insupportable. English and Welsh readers may be assured that not only have all the relevant Vatican Congregations been informed at length about the prevailing anarchy here, but so has the Holy Father himself. Very recently, as Providence would have it, John Paul was personally and privately apprised of the unprecedented dissolution of the Faith, the scale of dissent and disobedience now endured by the laity and the culpability of the English and Welsh bishops in bringing about this catastrophe. Harsh experience tells us, however, that despite these best efforts the message that the Church in England and Wales is within sight of extinction is still not getting through. And in this regard, recent Apostolic Nuncios have been a major stumbling block. They have, in fact, been key Players in perpetuating The Game.
In the context of the present civil war within the Church, it is said that a Nuncio is either a Pope’s Man (which he is meant to be) or a Bishops’ Man. Since the Council, a tragic depletion in the ranks of the former has been accompanied by an obscene rise of the latter as the power of episcopal conferences has gradually weakened the Petrine authority represented by the Apostolic Delegate. In other words, their spiritual power and prestige diminished by the rise of "collegiality", Nuncios have turned from serving the Pope to currying favour with their host episcopates, becoming little more than episcopal puppets with the same cold-blooded outlook as career diplomats in the secular realm. Seldom if ever standing up to defend the Faith and papacy against dissenting local hierarchies, they have played a major role in the radicalising of episcopates worldwide by proposing liberal or lukewarm candidates to Rome as a matter of course.
To be fair, at least Archbishop Bruno Heim, Apostolic Delegate 1973-85, was willing to intervene when the then Archbishop Winning refused to have the heretical Christ Among Us catechism removed from a Catholic bookstore in Glasgow (see CO May 1998, pp. 288-9]. But then Archbishop Heim was the Nuncio who extracted Basil Hume from a list of ninety-five names (after seeking out the preferred choice of Lord Coggan, the Archbishop of Canterbury!!) and advised Paul VI that he was one of the three most eligible candidates for Westminster. Far from regretting the terminal impact this appointment has had on the Faith in England, however, he now recalls fondly that: "my best achievement in my twelve years of mission in London was to propose the Abbott of Ampleforth"! His successor, Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, an egregious liberal career cleric whose disdain for the orthodox cause and corrosive episcopal nominations blighted the Church in Australia for many years, took to the The Game like a duck to water. As a measure of the man, when he finally left his post a few years ago he went out of his way to state that his greatest fear for the future of the Church in Britain was the "mushrooming" of traditionalist groups! The current Nuncio, Archbishop Pablo Puente, has seamlessly carried on where Barbarito left off. The quintessential Bishops’ Man, he is almost congenitally incapable of critical thought apropos episcopal dissidence. He has absurdly titled the Archbishop of Glasgow, Britain’s most prominent Mainstream Modernist, "Cardinal Winning The Great,"(2) while declaring that robust defenders of orthodoxy who dare to use archaic terms like "heretic" are guilty of "real fanaticism and extremism"!
As we have pointed out, of all these sham unities world-wide, the Hume-Worlock episcopal contrivance has best managed to prevent such internal divisions from spilling into public view. The iron-fist-in-velvet-glove strategy which has kept this suffocating closed-shop in check has so cowed our local episcopate that the mere mention of a "divisive" orthodox stand is enough to set off a nervous tic! As for ‘fly in the ointment’ bishops like Canberra’s Geoffrey Mayne who last year refused Holy Communion to a parishioner for publicly supporting women’s ordination, or the recent sight of orthodox Australian bishops in Rome at public odds with (and trumping) their Modernist bretheren, English and Welsh prelates would swoon at the very thought. And yet until such time as similar Christ-like swords [Matt 10:34-37] cut a swathe through their own ranks – until a show of orthodox episcopal strength is forthcoming to break the Modernist impasse – we have no starting point from which to begin the long and arduous road to Catholic restoration that a few Australian bishops are at least now attempting.
All things being equal, this kind of holy division should be uppermost in Vatican minds as they consider Cardinal Hume’s successor. Yet since things are stupendously unequal we find the same old depressingly familiar names being touted for Westminster. Through several decades the liberal Mafia has not so much narrowed the local field as extinguished it. The Modernist pool is full; the Catholic well is dry. No need here to provide a comprehensive form of prospective horror candidates - just consider the following snapshots of two genuine contenders as representative of what is on offer within these shores:
Bishop Vincent Nichols: Derek Worlock’s ambitious protégé and one of Cardinal Hume’s favourites. While Rector of the Upholland Northern Institute, he welcomed none other than king-pin dissenter Charles Curran to conduct consecutive Annual Summer Schools. Down the years his own talks and choice or toleration of speakers has indicated, at very best, ambivalence about contraception. As Spiritual Director of the Catholic Union, for instance, he typically offered no advice about the suitability of the Duke of Norfolk to hold the Presidency of the Union despite concerns about a widely reported speech in which the Duke challenged Humanae Vitae, Papal Infallibility and Apostolicae Curae [Leo’s XIII’s definitive declaration on the invalidity of Anglican Orders]. On good terms with the radical feminists who control the National Board of Catholic Women, he has said that he accepts Church teaching that women cannot be priests "at the moment," thus restating what he wrote in the Universe soon after the Anglicans had approved the ordination of "women priests." Recently promoted to look after the Catholic Education ‘portfolio,’ his media profile was also raised following the Cardinal’s death and during one of his many interviews, by way of a tribute to Hume’s ecumenical obsession, he informed BBC viewers that: "After all, God is not a Catholic"! Publicly discounts his Westminster prospects - but he would, wouldn’t he? In sum, an egregious, blue-ribbon Modernist straight out of the pages of Pascendi. Slippery, smiley, deadly.
Archbishop Patrick Kelly: A supposed "conservative" who succeeded Archbishop Worlock and promptly set about doing precisely nothing to redress the devastation and right the multiple wrongs inflicted on the Liverpool faithful by his infamous predecessor during twenty painful years. In fact, reports of liturgical abuses are on the increase. Carrying on the illicit practice introduced by Derek Worlock, His Grace refuses to allow children to make their first Confession before first Holy Communion and when distressed members of his flock point out to him that this is not Church teaching, he replies that it’s "diocesan policy". The children receive Our Lord at 7 or 8 years but not until 10 years do they make a sort of Confession (in some places going one by one to "talk to the priest about themselves" on the Sanctuary!). In various parishes the Archbishop also condones General Absolution, considered by Rome to be a major and most insidious abuse. Catechetical scandals and the appointment of unsuitable teachers continue. There are reports of damage being done to the children’s faith by non-Christians appointed to teach religion in archdiocesan primary schools, while an ex-priest who left the priesthood to move in with a divorced woman and her two children is also now teaching in a Catholic primary school. When this was brought to the Archbishop’s attention, he just stated that it was a matter for the school governors. In sum, a pseudo-conservative, Mainstream Modernist in the Cardinal Winning mould. All the more subversive for that.
Still, as we face this apparently hopeless plight and the impending reduction of the local Catholic populace to a pathetic remnant of Scandinavian proportions, there is no point feeling sorry for ourselves. It is often the case that, in the end, we get the bishops we deserve. And far too many well-informed orthodox have been lukewarm and mealy-mouthed, too concerned to keep their heads below the parapets and buried in every conceivable apostolate except the one that matters most and upon which, ultimately, all else depends - i.e. calling wayward Shepherds to account and demanding our right to orthodoxy pure and simple. If even a fraction of the time and effort poured into pro-life work, Marian devotions and other worthy apostolates had been directed to the overriding mission of bringing genuine pressure to bear on the bishops and Rome, The Game could have been disrupted, the liberal stranglehold loosened and the crisis would not have escalated to catastrophe. We have abandoned strength in numbers. We have been half-hearted. The fear of God is not in us.
Such lethargy, tunnel-vision, false-charity and fragmentation has been detrimental to the orthodox cause in all Western countries, but it has been compounded in England by the natural diffidence of the English character itself. Just as this Englishness enabled Worlock and Hume to put a civil face on the rampant episcopal dissembling and disobedience of their Conference – to keep their Players in check in a way unachievable elsewhere – it also held back the orthodox themselves from doing and saying what needed to be said and done from the outset. It was Hume’s embodiment of Englishness, so often commented upon, that immunised him from anything but the most effete orthodox criticisms throughout most of his life. Even in this twilight of the local Church, a reserved, pseudo-sophisticated approach to faithless prelates is still pursued by many orthodox Catholics who should know better. Lost in some kind of bookish, romantic world of their youth, these deluded souls continue to insist that raised, militant voices will never do. There is no holy fear in them. And once the fear of God leaves a man, there goes his fraternal fear for souls, so that mere human respect – false-charity - is all that remains. To such as these, Englishness rather than the Faith, or so it seems, is all. It is the quintessential Establishment attitude. Blessed Dominic Barberi suffered under the same self-defeating trait in the English Catholics of last century.
The Westminster appointment is due to be finalised before the New Year, in which case time is short to let Rome know that there is no margin for error with this next selection. It is clear that there is not a single Archbishop, Bishop or Auxiliary Bishop in the entire country who would not confirm and compound the protestantisation process of the Hume era and bury the Church in England and Wales once and for all. Therefore, if the Church here is to have any future whatsoever, only a fearless outsider with utter Catholic conviction and the strength of character to face down the English secular/ecclesiastical Establishment and proclaim the Faith from the rooftops should be considered as suitable material for Westminster. If such a man proves hard to locate, better the see be left vacant indefinitely until he can be found. The Church can survive without a Cardinal Archbishop more surely than it can if an insider is offered the post and England’s incestuous, inward-looking liberal enclave perpetuated.
However you prefer to embellish or condense all of that, it is crucial that you put pen to paper and send off a letter to the Congregation for the Bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith listed below. Don’t worry about form or length. Even half a dozen lines will do since at this stage weight of numbers and depth of feeling is the key. To flood Rome with expressions of passionate concern about this critical appointment is not only our right as baptised Catholics who share in the teaching office of Christ but our duty, and we should do it.
ADDRESS YOUR LETTERS TO:
(1) According to Cardinal Ratzinger, it is precisely such malformed clergy who, once elevated, become episcopal stumbling blocks to orthodox judicial measures issued by the Holy Father: not born from bad faith, but from inadequate formation. Speaking at the Ecclesia Dei tenth anniversary celebrations in Rome last October, Ratzinger spoke of a certain kind of education, a certain formation of the spirit that instinctively views the Old Mass as opposed to the Council and said he is convinced we must do everything possible to train a new generation of prelates to overcome such erroneous perceptions. This retraining, of course, would naturally extend to doctrinal and moral formation.
(2) This grandiose commendation, bestowed during the massive hype surrounding Cardinal Winning’s 50th anniversary of his ordination, conveniently ignored the fact that under his stewardship Mass attendance in his Glasgow Archdiocese has fallen to 28%; that between 1974, the year he became Archbishop, and 1996 the number of seminarians dropped from 37 in major seminaries and 100 in minor seminaries to just 11 major students and 3 candidates in the vocatioins scheme; and that a Catholic population of 306,000 with 347 priests shrunk to 250,000 and 209,000 priests. Far from indicating any claim to greatness, this disastrous record moved Scotland on Sunday's Gerald Warner to comment during the Cardinal's anniversary celebrations: "With such an achievement to his credit it was pretty churlish of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland not to send him a gold watch."