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August/September 2004

A report on the dissolute state of the Church in South Africa and the hirelings who have run it into the ground. Emblematic of post-conciliar prelates across the board, crushing the Old Mass and its adherents has underpinned their assault on the Faith and tradition.

The Serpent and the Fox


Part I: Death of "The Serpent’s Eyes"

O Denis Hurley, O forlorn disciples,

Ye who the things of God, which ought to be
The brides of holiness, rapaciously
For silver and for gold do prostitute,
Now it behoves for you the trumpet sound,
Because in this third Bolgia ye abide.

(Adapted from Dante’s Inferno, 19)

On the 13th of February 2004, Modernists everywhere mourned the death of 88-year-old Archbishop Denis E. Hurley, OMI. To regular readers of Christian Order he probably needs no introduction. For those trying hard to forget the trauma of his long tenure in KwaZulu-Natal, the mere mention of his name is probably a penance. But before he is beatified by our badly misguided brethren in the liberal media, the record needs to be set straight. In truth, his impending beatification is no less a myth than the Loch Ness monster. It was not without good reason that the Zulus named him "Mhlwemamba" (meaning "the serpent’s eyes"). Divinely charged with courageously championing the Catholic cause, he instead poisoned his flock with an arch-liberal agenda.


To summarise just a few of his so-called "achievements," Archbishop Hurley was:

  • a destroyer of the Sacred Liturgy (as chairman of ICEL)
  • staunch supporter of artificial contraception (as a proud, public Humanae Vitae-dissenter even to the end)
  • a gung-ho liberation theologian
  • a passionate lover of Teilhard de Chardin
  • an ardent advocate of women’s ordination and married priests
  • a shameless ecumaniac of the worst kind (promoting inter-Communion at every opportunity)
  • the wrecking-ball behind the demolition of the ornate high altar and nearly every other sacred item in the sanctuary of Durban’s Emmanuel Cathedral

To the uninitiated, these observations and others which follow may seem harsh or even hard to swallow. Yet they are all true and all on public record.

For instance, a February 16th 2004 Cape Times obituary cheerfully entitled "Clerics pay tribute to tower of courage" noted that:

"He was outspoken and known for …his support for artificial contraception and married priests, two issues on which the church refuses to budge. He publicly disagreed with Paul VI, pope from 1963-1978, over his encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the church’s official objection to methods of "artificial contraception" such as the Pill. After retiring as archbishop of Durban in 1993, Hurley spoke up in favour of married priests and woman priests, topics that are highly controversial in the Catholic Church."

Remember that this was a bishop who branded tradition-minded priests "disobedient," as we shall see.

Serpent & friends

Excerpts from the book Denis Hurley: A Portrait by Friends (Cluster Publications, 2001) edited by presbyterian Anthony Gamley, are even more revealing. Please note that I am not for one minute advocating that anyone buy this fairy-tale, especially since sales will be used to fund the ecumaniac Diakonia Council of Churches. In fact, this publication probably belongs in the dirt-bin next to Basil Hume: By His Friends [see CO, June/July 1999]. That this one-sided compilation is dominated by non-Catholics tells half the story, even though "Catholic" here is used in its most liberal sense, as Colin Gardner, one of the contributors, explains:

In pastoral matters (for example on the question of failed marriages and more generally in relation to freedom ofconscience), in liturgical concerns (where he played a role promoting the clarity and resonance of current practices), in catechetics (where he has always favoured dynamic allegiance rather than mere doctrinal adherence), in ecumenical openness, in his analysis of societies, Denis Hurley has allowed himself to be a bold and original thinker. I admire a number of the positions adopted by our current Pope, but, along with many others, I have to disagree with him on many others. I sometimes describe myself as a non-papist Catholic, by which I mean that in my view many of the most powerful spiritual currents within the Church do not really flow through John Paul 2. I have sometimes thought that I need to describe myself as a Hurleyan Catholic.

From another of his "friends," Velisiwe Mary Mkhwanazi’s comes the following account:

When I co-founded Women’s Ordination South Africa (WOSA) I knew it was the beginning of a journey of a lifetime because we are challenging our Catholic Church to ordain women as priests. My friend, Archbishop Hurley, fully supports the idea. He once said that we have a long way to go and therefore should not give up, because it will eventually happen…As he once said to a group of WOSA members protesting on this issue outside Emmanuel Cathedral: ‘Be patient, sisters: just a few more years!’

And for those who still doubt his opposition to priestly celibacy, Professor Philippe Denis relates:

In March 2002 a journalist from The Mercury interviewed me on the reports of sexual abuse of nuns by Catholic priests… The scandal was the tacit approval of these practices by countless Church officials. Asked if the rule of clerical celibacy contributed to the problem, I said that many Catholics, including myself, were of the opinion that celibacy was a charism freely given by the Spirit to some people and that it should not be imposed on all candidates for the priesthood. Clerical celibacy as currently practiced in the Catholic Church not only caused immense suffering to the priests themselves: it also created havoc in the lives of numerous women and children… I was not quite sure how the Catholic bishops would receive this statement. One reaction came from Hurley: "I read what you wrote in The Mercury and I liked it… It is time for the Church to re-examine its position. We need to move ahead.

Elsewhere in the same book, Professor Brenda Gourley, former vice-chancellor of the University of Natal quotes Archbishop Hurley as follows:

"Brenda, will it help for you to know that at the Second Vatican Council there were many of us who said that at the Third Vatican Council they would bring their spouses?"

When Phillip Tobias, a fellow worshipper of Teilhard de Chardin praises Hurley’s "love of synthesis" he is not far off the mark, although Pope St Pius X’s description of Modernist theology of this sort as the "synthesis of all heresies" is certainly more accurate. Clearly, Bishop Hurley could not conceive that evolutionist theories are the only things evolving at any significant rate when he wrote to Dr. Tobias:

"I never cease to thank God that theology and science are on sisterly terms in our days, and that men like Teilhard were given to us to bring about this happy situation."

Another contributor to the book, Alec Erwin, the South African minister of trade and industry (also an avowed atheist and card-carrying member of the South African Communist Party) explains how Archbishop Hurley was very accepting of his militant communist views - never once discouraging his agenda, or seeking his conversion.

One wonders what Cardinal Mindszenty might have said in similar circumstances?

Robert Blair Kaiser, the old Time correspondent, hit the liberal nail on the head when he readily acknowledges Hurley’s many attempts to "implement in the Church of Durban what he had quickly understood to be the spirit of Vatican 2".

Unsurprisingly, none of this information prevented Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor from joining the chorus, hailing "his courageous and outspoken witness to Christian and human values."

Vindictive Serpent: The Leslie persecution

I beg to differ, Eminence. Bishop Denis was both a traitor, and a traditionalist-hater. Turning a blind (serpent’s) eye to homosexual deviants in the seminary (and at least one of his parishes too), Hurley went out of his way to humiliate priests who held steadfastly to the Faith of their forebears.

One of these priests, Reverend Father Eldred Leslie, due to devotion to the traditional Latin Mass, remains persona non grata in the archdiocese of Durban for close to 20 years; stripped of all the worldly benefits accorded his colleagues, he now lives alone with humble means – yielding much of the little he owns to those less fortunate than himself. The numerous hungry Africans continually crowding his door are a testimony to a life of selfless charity.

Yet in return he is still met with episcopal scorn and contempt. It wasn’t that he never used the revised missal at all. No, for more than ten years Father Leslie persevered with the "new liturgy" as best he could, out of a sense of duty to poor parishioners with nowhere else to turn, but years of blind obedience to the modernist dictates of Bishop Denis eventually took its toll, and so when the flaws finally became overwhelmingly obvious, in conscience, he found he could no longer persist with the façade.

After painstaking personal deliberations, he decided to return to the Holy Mass of his ordination – starting once a week on Sunday – after his normal Masses were complete. Perhaps he was naïve not to foresee the unpleasant reaction he would receive, or perhaps he has more stubborn courage than most.

Anyway, Bishop Denis was indeed displeased, and so in a display meant to discourage other "dissidents", sought to publicly castigate his most orthodox priest.

On the 7th April 1989 he wrote "a letter from the archbishop concerning Father Eldred Leslie" to every parish in the diocese informing them that he had withdrawn "the authorization granted him to perform priestly ministry…I took this step because…it was impossible for me to continue taking responsibility for his ministry. Sadly a consequence of this is that his celebration of Mass, his preaching and instructing and ministering to the sick and dying are in themselves rebellious actions. Moreover the absolution he imparts in the sacrament of penance is invalid and marriages at which he assists as officiating priest are also invalid in the eyes of the Church. A further consequence is that those who knowingly and willingly accept his ministry and support him in his attitude are guilty of grave disobedience to lawful authority in the Church".

It’s ironic that Hurley banished a faithful priest for persisting with the traditional Latin Mass, and yet saw no problem "taking responsibility" for the ministry of Father Pierre Lavoipierre who was returned to his parish within a week and remains in good standing in the archdiocese despite public prosecution for possession of perverted homosexual pornography as this excerpt from the Daily News (23rd August 1991) confirms: "52 year old Fr. Pierre Etienne Lavoipierre was sentenced in the Pinetown Magistrates Court to R500.00 and 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 5 years, for having in his possession 4 pornographic videos containing homosexual scenes. He pleaded guilty."

In response to Hurley’s calumny, Father Leslie wrote his archbishop a humble letter dated 15th May 1989 in which he stated:

"…With respect, Your Grace, never once have I expressed unwillingness to submit to your authority lawfully exercised. I have indicated that, in conscience, I could not submit to what I am convinced is clearly an abuse of that authority, an abuse which denies Catholics, priests and laity, their right, under the law, to the Immemorial rite of Mass and to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Nor have I ever indicated to you that the promulgation of the new Order of Mass lacked binding force… What I have maintained and still do maintain is that imposition of the new rite as of obligation and the prohibition of the old rite are "ultra vires" and I have provided sufficient evidence to support this. Eminent canonists have agreed that the Immemorial rite has not been abolished and, in law, is freely available to Catholics."

Obviously not satisfied with the damage he had already done to Father Leslie’s good name, Bishop Denis slandered him in an even more public way, asserting in a letter to the editor of the Daily News (published January 7th 1994):"Father Eldred Leslie has refused to obey a Church law concerning the celebration of Mass. As a result Father Eldred Leslie is not entitled to perform any priestly ministry in the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban or anywhere else in the world."

In the wake of this latest attack, a couple of letters to the Daily News editor expressing support for Father Leslie soon followed, such as one by L. Onody:

"I write in support of Father Leslie whose suspension by the remorseless Bishop Denis Hurley was nonsensical and groundless. While Father Leslie’s sermons, traditional Masses and priestly activities have helped hundreds of Catholics to strengthen their faith, the unrepentant, retired archbishop has caused great damage to the faith, by permitting even encouraging, that which is forbidden, such as altar girls, liturgical dancing, bread of questionable validity etc."

Finally, Father Leslie defended himself in a letter published on the 26th January 1994:

"It is unfortunate that Archbishop Denis Hurley should accuse me of refusing to obey a Church law concerning the celebration of Mass. This, it is respectfully submitted, does not accord with the facts. On no occasion have I ever refused to obey such a law. On the contrary. For several years now my efforts have been devoted, inter alia, to upholding and defending the rule of law against local official policy of denying priests and laity their right, under the law freely to offer, or assist at the Immemorial Rite of Holy Mass and to follow the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. The archbishop does not mention which law I allegedly refused to obey. I can only surmise that he refers to "Missale Romanum", the document that introduced the new order of Mass. In our discussions, the archbishop wished me to acknowledge that this document abolished, or at least, replaced the so called Tridentine Mass. In conscience, I could not do so since a careful reading revealed that the document contained not one word prohibiting the old Roman Rite. Confirmation of this position comes from Rome…"

Bishop Denis then attempted a rebuttal of this defence with another open letter on the 17th March 1994:

"Father Leslie tried to refute my allegation that he was acting in disobedience to a law of the Catholic Church concerning the celebration of Mass…. I have tried for years to get Father Leslie to read with unbiased eyes the following words which are a translation of part of the Latin text of the decree. These words can be found in the introductory pages of any altar missal of the new rite. They are headed Apostolic Constitution. After describing the changes made in the rite of Mass Pope Paul VI concludes: "What we have prescribed in this constitution shall begin to be enforced from the first Sunday of Advent of this year, November 30. We decree that these laws and prescriptions be firm and effective now and in future, notwithstanding, in the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors…" If that does not convey that the old rite has been abrogated in favor of the new, what do words mean?"

Father Leslie waited a while before countering in the Daily News on the 13th April 1994:

"With due respect to Archbishop Denis Hurley, it can be confidently stated that an unbiased reader of the constitution "Missale Romanum" would arrive at a conclusion opposite to his… The clause quoted by the archbishop, standard in documents of the nature of the constitution, is an enactment clause bringing the new rite into operation. It refers to the contents of "Missale Romanum." These contents contain no provision for the abolition of the old Rite of Mass. Canon 22 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was in vogue when the constitution was promulgated, requires that, if a later law sets out to abolish a former law, it must explicitly mention this in a repealing clause. This is a fundamental legal principle which is not adhered to in the constitution. If the archbishop will refer to my correspondence with him, he will observe that I do not deny that Pope Paul VI decreed the firmness and effectiveness of what "Missale Romanum" prescribes; only what it does not prescribe, viz the abolition of the old Rite of Mass…".

Despite his sound arguments, there was no reprieve from the vindicative Bishop Hurley, nor from his successor, Cardinal Napier.

As before, Father Leslie continued his offer of assistance to the archbishop:

"During my last visit to Durban, I was distressed to learn that it had become necessary for you to issue a pastoral letter on the short supply of clergy and its effect on the availability of Holy Mass and pastoral services. As you know, Your Grace, it is my great desire to return to full time work in the Archdiocese and I am more than willing to offer my services to alleviate the pressure on other priests. Accordingly, I respectfully ask that you kindly make available to me and to our traditional Catholic layfolk, a church or chapel where the Holy Sacrifice may be freely celebrated in the "Tridentine" rite (using the 1962 Roman Missal) as the law provides. I would gladly take responsibility, under your Grace, for the pastoral welfare of those who assist at Mass at this church or chapel, including the catechization of the young and adults and pastoral visitation. Should you desire me to assist other hard pressed priests for confession, devotions etc. my services would be available to them…"

Despite the crisis, his helping hands continue to be ignored.

J.D.A. Hull probably summed it up best in another letter in the Daily News:

"… I have been somewhat surprised at certain attitudes of the archbishop. He has set himself up as accuser, prosecutor, judge and executioner in his own cause. This does not augur well for justice."

Serpentine ‘justice’

Yes, it’s true that Bishop Denis did help defeat unjust apartheid laws, for which he would have gained great respect and merit if only he did not degenerate into liberation theology and lend such vociferous support to abortifacient "contraceptives".

It is not unreasonable to suggest that by promoting abortifacients "contraceptives," Archbishop Hurley probably caused the deaths of far more innocent Africans than can be attributed to the entire apartheid regime. Remember that one of the ways oral contraceptives work is to thin the endometrium, so that the fertilized ovum cannot implant – and is thus aborted.

Inviting perhaps the country’s most militant pro-abortion politician at the time (Helen Suzman) to speak from the Cathedral pulpit is also difficult to reconcile with his supposed concern for justice.

Of course, in stark contrast to this latter sacrilege, in the very same sanctuary, the traditional Latin Mass can no longer be accommodated – not even once in more than 30 years.

Today, thanks to Hurley’s influence as President of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference not even a single "indult" Mass is supported anywhere in the entire country – despite repeated petitions from the faithful.

In short, Bishop Denis was a menace. But that shouldn’t prevent us from praying fervently for the repose of his soul. As I put to him in a letter (entitled "forgiveness and prayers") less than a month before his departure: "Sadly, it’ll probably only be after your death when you realize that traditional Catholics, the ones you’ve gone out of your way to persecute, are your true friends. Requiescat in pace!"

Part II: Fox in Sheep’s Clothing

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord,

than to put confidence in princes."

Psalms 118:9

The crowds who rejoiced when Bishop Wilfrid Fox Napier, OFM was favoured for the red hat, didn’t have long to celebrate. It soon became clear that the havoc under Hurley was far from finished.

Initial contact

I first had occasion to correspond with the newly crowned "prince of the Church" because of the completely out-of-control Cawcutt case in Cape Town [See "Homosexuality and the Church in South Africa" by Frank Sokolic, CO, Aug/Sept 2002].

Unfortunately, His Eminence offered only the lame excuse that his jurisdiction extended only as far as Durban and Umzimkulu.

Even when informed that "Gay Pride" had been given permission to hold an "interfaith service" in a Catholic Church in Bishop Cawcutt’s diocese, no action was taken.

On the 12th December, two days after the "service" in the Sacred Heart Church in Somerset Road, Cape Town, I wrote the following letter to Cardinal Napier:

I know Cape Town is not within your jurisdiction, but because I raised this distasteful matter with you recently, I present you with the latest in this ongoing sordid saga in the hopes that, with a collective effort, further abuses can be prevented. By permitting GAY PRIDE to celebrate homosexuality in one of their churches even to the protest of the local flock, the bishops of Cape Town have shown a flagrant disregard for Catholic teaching, not to mention disrespect for the Pope and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who specifically address this issue in a pastoral letter on the care of homosexual persons (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1986). Bishop Cawcutt’s "sincere" repentance for previously promoting his own homosexual agenda seems very difficult to reconcile with recent events.

The only response I received was by telephone some months later, after signing a petition to Cardinal Napier in which we, a coalition of concerned Catholic laity, humbly and prayerfully requested the following of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference:

1. Withdrawal from the South African Council of Churches (SACC), which endorses the "marriage" of homosexual persons in the so-called "Equality Bill"

2. Stringent adherence to the measures mandated by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Religious on February 2, 1961 on the "Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders." [This states that "those who are affected by the depraved inclination for homosexuality or pederasty must be excluded from the vows of religion and from ordination" - Ed.]

In denial

Cardinal Napier vociferously objected to our "arrogant tone" and "baseless insinuations". According to His Eminence, without firm evidence of widespread homosexuality among clergy in the region, a re-iteration of the Vatican’s 1961 instruction would be counter-productive: it would give the impression that there is a problem when - as far as he’s concerned - none exists.

He denied that the Catholic Church in South Africa, through the South African Council of Churches (SACC) ever, even indirectly, supported homosexual marriages. He felt that any statement which may have been made to that effect, should be construed as the opinion of an individual and not the entire SACC. Similarly, after I raised the matter, he emphasized that Bishop Cawcutt’s widely publicized comments in support of homosexual "marriage" were not made in his capacity as spokesperson of the SACBC.

Apparently, the Gay Pride interfaith service at the Sacred Heart Church in Cape Town was only allowed to take place because Archbishop Henry had been "deceived" as to the nature of the event. Anyway, the Cardinal felt it was not his place, nor that of the SACBC, nor mine to intervene in the affairs of the Archdiocese of Cape Town.

On the 24th September 2002, I replied to His Eminence:

I wish to respond in writing to some of the points you raised in our recent telephone conversation.

I am sorry that you found our humble requests "arrogant". Our aim was to share our concerns and suggest solutions to the problem, not just of homosexual priests, but of homosexuality in South African society in general. Given the plethora of ephebophilic abuse being reported throughout the Catholic world, not to mention the involvement of Church officials in this country in highly publicized homosexual scandals, surely you can understand our concern?

Sadly, nothing you’ve said so far has given us much re-assurance. Remarks which give the impression that Catholic priests with a homosexual orientation exist only in the Archdiocese of Cape Town (and are therefore Archbishop Henry’s problem) have done little to dispel doubts. Of course, if the Vatican’s 1961 Instruction was strictly enforced everywhere, as we’ve asked, there would be less cause for doubt.

Contrary to your claims, we’re not demanding to know the names of homosexually disordered priests banished from parishes and seminaries, although we would like to know what measures you and other South Africa bishops have taken to ensure that gays are not ordained.

For instance, do the vocations/seminary directors and the psychiatrists/psychologists employed by the Church have a clear idea that sexually disorientated men are unsuitable candidate priests? Have you considered implementing a "Courage" as opposed to a "Dignity" or "Gay Pride" apostolate? Even a simple statement of intent would suffice. Although you indicated that the Catholic Church was not party to any endorsement of homosexual "marriage" (under the Equality Bill), you don’t seem to have registered your objections either. Nor have recent court decisions to allow adoption by gay couples met with much opposition from Catholic clergy in this country.

Only the silence in the face of widespread abuse of contraceptives (read abortifacients) - and yes by Catholics in your archdiocese too - is more deafening. To reverse the deplorable situation that exists thanks to noted Humanae Vitae dissenters like your predecessor Archbishop Denis Hurley is going to take some effort.

While I am sure you appreciate that homosexual activists, radical feminists, modernists, Catholics for a Free Choice, Call to Action, the women’s ordination brigade etc. are enemies of Christ’s Church; with "friends" like some of your colleagues in the South African Council of Churches, who needs enemies?

On the 25th September 2002, I received the following email response:

Dear Dr Donnellan

Re: Membership of the SACBC is governed by the Constitution of the SACC which binds members Church’s specific [sic] basic tenets of the Christian Faith. No where are controversial moral questions mentioned nor are they binding on member Churches.

I regret that you are not always informed about what the SACBC is saying about current issues.

We issue the statements, the media chooses what to report.

Yours sincerely

+Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM

Protecting the perverts

On Friday October 4, 2002, I replied to the Cardinal, also in an email letter:

I took the trouble to scour the SACBC website for unreported statements on any of the current issues we’ve raised. Although I wasn’t able to detect any document dealing with the problems of homosexual priests and bishops, adoption by gay couples, homosexual "marriage" etc., my search wasn’t entirely fruitless, since I was able to revisit your pastoral letter dated 9th May 2002. May I commend you for not only confirming the link between paedophilia and pornography (including child pornography), but also for pointing out media "schizophrenia" on sexual matters. I’m referring particularly to the following paragraph:

"If the media rightly exposes the horrible acts of child abuse by clerics and religious - it has the same duty to expose the rotten conditions in society which encourage widespread evils such as child abuse, the portrayal of sex, pornography and even child pornography available on the internet - and indeed all kinds of videos reflecting sexual perversion and bestiality."

However, while not wishing to detract from your very pertinent points, have you considered that a similar double-standard may be in operation in the local Church? For instance, given your excellent understanding of the relationship between pornography and sexual abuse, how is that a priest like Father Lavoipierre, known to have indulged himself in pornographic filth, is accorded unrestricted access to innocent Catholic youth in your archdiocese while Reverend Father Eldred Leslie must languish under suspension for more than 10 years because of a desire to celebrate the Tridentine Mass?

Please note that like Bishop’s Cawcutt’s sordid saga, Father Lavoipierre’s involvement with homosexual pornography isn’t "baseless insinuation" but public knowledge (see Part I).

I took this matter up in another letter on October 30, 2002:

Your Eminence,

While you must be very busy with other important matters, perhaps you may find time to act on or even just respond to my respectful requests that all censures on Reverend Father Eldred Leslie be lifted. Why must this poor faithful priest continue to suffer suspension after more than 10 years? Is celebration of the Tridentine Mass such a heinous crime that he must be shunned by the faithful for over a decade? Isn’t it a sad reflection on the state of the Church that muslims, buddhists and even pagans are welcomed with open arms in the name of ecumenism while orthodox priests like Reverend Father Eldred Leslie must languish in a form of "gulag"?

Hopefully another 10 years of unfair "excommunication" won’t lapse before you feel moved to redress the wrongs of the past.

Finally, after a couple more written requests for clarification, Cardinal Napier favoured me with a telephonic response explaining that he couldn’t answer my previous letters until he had discussed the matter with Archbishop Hurley, which he did on Sunday December 1, 2002 (the 1st Sunday of Advent).

The Cardinal supported Archbishop Hurley’s decision, stating that "he acted as any good bishop would have done in the circumstances." According to Cardinal Napier, Father Leslie didn’t merely express a preference for the traditional Latin Mass, but refused to continue saying the new Mass and went so far as to make negative public remarks about the Novus Ordo, a stand he felt was incompatible with the Catholic Faith. He said that since Father Leslie’s comments against the new Mass were made publicly, he would have to publicly recant them before there could be any talk of reconciliation.

Ignorance and animus

His Eminence then returned to my letter, describing my reference to the "modernist dictates" of his predecessor as "libelous" and correcting my "erroneous opinion" that Bishop Hurley had suppressed the traditional Latin Mass in this archdiocese. He explained that Bishop Hurley had faithfully followed the decision of the Church to replace the old Latin liturgy with the vernacular Mass.

When I protested, he assured me that the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass had been abrogated by Pope Paul VI!

I countered that in some dioceses priests were permitted to continue with the traditional Latin Mass pointing to the situation in Campos, Brazil - which he ignored, declaring that from "the early 1970s" the Novus Ordo had officially replaced the "Latin Mass".

Cardinal Napier then asked me why I thought the Latin Mass was preferable when nobody today spoke or even understood Latin to which I replied that I found it to be more prayerful, respectful and reverent – pointing to the prayerful silences, the orientation towards the Eucharist and pious practices like genuflections. He said that the [new] "Mass could still be said in Latin", but that the Church had chosen to instead use the language of the people as far as possible since the Mass is primarily a "gathering of the community at the table of the last supper which was far from silent".

I interjected that the Mass was also a Sacrifice, which he quipped "wasn’t silent either". He said that he found the Tridentine Mass to be elitist, an opinion that was confirmed by the "elitist" tendencies of most of the adherents. The "strong language and arrogant tone" of my letters hadn’t helped either.

Before continuing my crusade for Father Leslie and the traditional Latin Mass, I was "strongly advised" to "give Father Pierre Laviopierre a call to get a balanced version of events" and refrain from efforts to sully the great legacy of Bishop Hurley.

I thanked the Cardinal for taking time to address my letters, and the conversation ended.

Illiberal liberal

It is ironic that in a region where ecumania reigns supreme, no place can be found for Father Leslie unless he publicly converts to the new liberal religion. Of course, no-one else is required to convert these days as the Southern African Bishops Conference "Directory on Ecumenism" clearly states:.

As regards conversions …we affirm that any form of proselytism is unworthy witness. Instead…the emphasis should fall on seeking unity between Christian Churches.

and later on:

It is against freedom of religion and the dignity of women that a wife should be expected to join the Church of her husband or that pressure be put on either spouse to convert.

Another respectful letter of request for a "wide and generous application of the Roman Missal of 1962" (as advocated by our Pope), at the same time pointing out some problems under his predecessor, met with the following:

Your unkind and uncharitable remarks about Archbishop Denis Hurley are not only unfair or unjust, they are also untrue. What liturgical aberrations did Archbishop Denis instigate, may I ask? I certainly am not aware of any, because if anything Archbishop Hurley was and still is scrupulously conscientious about, it is the liturgy and its correct implementation.

If anything I am much more lenient as I am of the African Synod generation, who’s experience over a 10-year period of close working together with the Holy Father and his co-workers at the Vatican on the interesting and challenging question of the inculturation of the faith and in particular the liturgy. So I don’t know where you get the idea that the only direction that the Pope is pointing is backwards!

I wish too that you would respect the rightful aspirations of the 95% Catholics of the Archdiocese who are quite happy with the way the Vatican 2 liturgical reforms have made it possible for them to participate actively in their acts of worship as the People of God at one with their priest and bishop.

In reply, His Eminence was gently reminded of Archbishop Hurley’s well-documented dissent, especially the determined abortifacient "contraceptive" campaign not to mention active promotion of his beloved Teilhard de Chardin..

"What liturgical aberrations did Archbishop Denis instigate?"

It is difficult to know where to start. Since the Cardinal, like Hurley, is intimately linked with ICEL, he cannot be unaware of the embarrassment ICEL has caused to the Church.

Of course, if he was indeed "much more lenient", you might have expected him to permit the return the traditional Latin Mass according to the "wide and generous application" advocated by our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. It seems that "much more lenient" applies only to liberals, and more especially those excited about the "interesting and challenging question of inculturation".

Inculturated basket case

In South Africa, "inculturation" includes such sacrileges as the slaughtering of animals - sheep, goats and even cows- on the altar as part of the Mass. Catholic World Report of May 2000 outlined this dire predicament:

One controversy—caused by the suggestions that the role of saints is similar to that of revered ancestors in African cultures—had barely subsided among the Catholics of South Africa. Now a new dispute began, involving suggestions that African culture could be incorporated into Catholic liturgy through animal bloodletting during the Mass.

On the controversy…Archbishop Buti Thlagale of Bloemfontein… [is implicated among] the supporters of a proposal to include elements of animal sacrifice in the Catholic liturgy.

Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, a Catholic priest who is also the deputy minister of education in the South African government, was the first prominent figure to come out in support of the calls—first introduced by some black priests—for the incorporation of animal sacrifices into the liturgy…. On a practical note, he admitted that the architecture of Catholic church buildings might have to be "reviewed" in order to accommodate the requirements of animal sacrifice.

Father Mkhatshwa has already shown his willingness to depart from orthodox Catholic teaching, voting in 1996 to support a proposal for legalized abortion on demand… [In fact, Fr. Mkhatshwa, did not formally support abortion-on-demand, but just as shockingly preferred to abstain from taking sides in the vote over the slaughter of pre-born babies - Ed. CO]

Unfortunately even though Archbishop Buti Thlagale continues to foster these radical forms of "inculturation", and speaks glowingly on the subject at every opportunity, he has never been censured or asked to retract any of his statements in this regard. Among other unconventional activities, such as playing an active role in the "Parliament of the World’s Religions" in Cape Town in December 1999, Archbishop Thlagale also has the dubious distinction of being listed on the board of directors of "LoveLife", a group active in the promotion of condoms using pornographic advertising.

This is how "LoveLife" was described in a special report for The Guardian published May 22, 2003:

They are young and gorgeous, scantily clad, if at all, and with sex on the brain. When not unbuckling belts, rolling in bed, entwining legs and sliding hands towards nether regions, they are talking about sex. And they are everywhere. On billboards and television, in newspapers and magazines, suffusing South Africa with what resembles a racy advertising campaign for Coca-Cola or Levis. In fact, this is an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign, one of the most audacious and controversial to be attempted in Africa, and the use of branding techniques is intentional. If it works safe sex will become as hip and ubiquitous as Coke.

Instead of being asked to resign, some months ago Archbishop Thlagale was elevated from the small town of Bloemfontein (where he was relatively harmless) to head the archdiocese of Johannesburg, the largest see in the country.

All told, those looking to Africa in general, and South Africa in particular for the promised "springtime in the Church" are likely to have their hopes dashed.

It is safer to accept that, apart from isolated pockets like Campos, the apostasy is truly universal.