Francis, Bishop of Rome.

We give thanks for the election of the new Bishop of Rome, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina who has chosen the name Francis.

We will be praying for him in the hours, days, weeks, months and, God willing, years to come of his Pontificate.

Te Deum laudamus.


Why not adopt a Cardinal?

8527403937_d47ac8f265_bThe Cardinals need our help; and a recent website has just been set up that allows users to log in and adopt a randomly-selected (one presumes!) Prince of the Church for the Conclave. It is a bit of fun, but has its serious side: we can be encouraged to focus prayer on one man as the Cardinals meet to choose the next Bishop of Rome.

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Farewell Benedict XVI

Nearly eight years ago, I know exactly where I was when I heard the joyful news that there was a new Bishop of Rome. I was working in an office, and turned on BBC Radio 4, and heard the ringing of the bells of St Peter’s. I knew then, in my heart, that there was a leader for the world’s Roman Catholics.

At the time, I did not foresee that the man elected that day would resign as Bishop of Rome. As we all know, it is not a decision that has many precedents, but it has been known. As the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Church says,

Can. 332 §2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.

This is clearly in the CCL but it has not been used before since the promulgation of the new code in 1983. However, it does seem a sensible move by Benedict XVI.

It is not that long ago since Bishops of Dioceses did not retire: they died in office. I don’t have the relevant reference to hand, but it appears to have started to change in the 1960s. For instance, in the Diocese of Down and Connor in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century:

1895 1908 Henry Henry Appointed 16 August; consecrated 22 September 1895; died 8 March 1908.
1908 1914 John Tohill Appointed 5 August; consecrated 20 September 1908; died 4 July 1914.
1915 1928 Joseph MacRory Appointed 18 August; consecrated 14 November 1915; translated toArmagh 22 June 1928.
1929 1962 Daniel Mageean Appointed 31 May; consecrated 25 August 1929; died 18 January 1962.
1962 1982 William Philbin Translated from Clonfert; appointed 5 June 1962; retired 24 August 1982; died 23 August 1991.
1982 1990 Cahal Daly Translated from Ardagh and Clonmacnoise; appointed 24 August 1982; translated to Armagh 6 November 1990.
1991 2008 Patrick Walsh Appointed titular bishop of Ros Cré and auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor on 6 April 1983; ordained bishop 15 May 1983; appointed diocesan bishop of Down and Connor on 18 March 1991; retired 22 February 2008.


It can be clearly seen that the first Bishop of Down & Connor to resign in modern time rather than die in office was Bishop William Philbin, who resigned in August 1982, and died some time later in 1991.

To me it seems eminently sensible that the Bishop of Rome also has the chance to resign and I am pleased that Benedict XVI has started the practice by doing so himself.

I wish him every blessing in his retirement and assure him of my prayers and those of my brother priests in the Fraternity. We will be celebrating Votive Masses pro eligendo Summo Pontifice on days that are not Feasts or Solemnities until the election of the new Bishop of Rome. The Vicar General will issue an instruction as to the correct wording to be used in the Eucharistic Prayer to all Priests of the Fraternity.

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Fr Bernard Lynch – a real friend to all showing God’s love to the people the Church tries to exclude

Father Bernard Lynch: ‘The Vatican has told them to get rid of me’

He claims that half of all Catholic priests are gay – and has himself been married to his husband for 14 years. He believes celibacy is to blame for many of the Church’s problems – and that the Vatican must take responsibility for the paedophilia in its midst. Is it any wonder so many people want rid of Father Bernard Lynch?

Read the rest on the Independent‘s website.

I have met Fr Lynch and know him to be a true friend of all who the institutional Church tries to exclude. I can only hope and pray to be a priest as good as he.


The Ceremonial of Bishops – by Abbot Cuthbert Johnston OSB

In the Rule of St Benedict chapter 48 the Abbot is instructed to give each monk at the beginning of Lent “a book from the library, which shall read be through consecutively” from cover to cover, during the days of Lent.

While the Ceremonial of Bishops is not a book that I would readily give to a monk for his Lenten reading, but it is a work which if read from beginning to end will provide valuable insights. Such an undertaking might appear to be a rather daunting task and the fact that the Ceremonial of Bishops has been presented as a resource book for those responsible for planning and directing the liturgical ministry of the Bishop, has also contributed towards deterring anyone reading it from cover to cover.

Read the rest here…. 

Bishops and other prelates are permitted the use of a mitre.

Abbot Johnston explains about how ceremonial is important not just for Bishops but for all in the Church. Although he was suggesting that the Ceremonial of Bishops would not be quite a book he would give to a monk for Lenten reading, it will probably form part of my reading as we prepare for the great Feast of Christmas and for the whole new liturgical year that comes after it. As a simple priest, I thought that it didn’t really concern me—but now, as Ordinary of FSDM, I am told that it does. For although I am not a bishop, in some respects I look after my confrères in the way that a Bishop looks after his flock. Some things are allowed to me. These external things are merely pointing towards the internal, that of caring for, and being responsible for the Fraternity. The sheep elected their shepherd. I must act — and look — like one.

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A man not an angel…


Priest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the weekend, I bought a book Vademecum which has inspirational thoughts for every day of the year on the subject of priests and priesthood. As a young priest, I hope that it will help to inspire me to be the best that I can.

Today’s reading is from Karl Rahner SJ and he writes

A priest is a human being, a member of holy Church, a Christian, just as you are… when the bishop lays his hands on them in blessing … he does not turn them into angels.

Each of us is not an angel. We are all men. And we all have our failings, our weaknesses but we also have our strengths.

Today I pray that I my weaknesses will not hinder my administration of the sacraments nor the witness of the Church.

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Scapulars broken but not the promises – a way of life for all.

Those of us who have been enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity know how difficult it is at present to find a brown scapular that will not break when sleeping, or when playing games, or in the gym. I have found it rather difficult to keep a scapular on. Recently, via a Facebook group (Catholic and Proud), I have become aware of some Carmelite nuns that are making what look to be excellent scapulars and made in accordance with the regulations. (As one would expect of Carmelites!)

I will be ordering some of these scapulars in the near future and hope that the one put around my neck will not break. A testimonial says,

About a year ago, I had ordered three of your scapulars (one for myself and one for each of my two children), and I just want to thank you for your wonderfully crafted scapulars. I’m a notorious scapular breaker due to the way I sleep and rough-house with my kids. Your scapular has held up to all of that and is still as good as new with no fraying. – Sam, Massachusetts, USA

The Brown Scapular was given by Our Blessed Lady to St Simon Stock, in Aylesford in England in the year of our Lord 1251. Our Lady handed him a brown woollen scapular and said: “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” In time, the Church extended this magnificent privilege to all the laity who are willing to be invested in the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and who perpetually wear it.

Even though at the moment I do not have a physical scapular on my person—for my most recent one has broken—I do feel the love of Our Lady every day. When I was enrolled the priest permitted me to say the Rosary daily instead of the Little Office of the BVM. Now that I am a priest, I look forward to the day when someone approaches me and asks

Father, I have a brown scapular, can you bless it?

And I will take him or her aside and explain that the scapular is not a superstition but an item of personal devotion and that those who choose to wear it are committing themselves to a way of life. A way of life that is not overly difficult to keep to. And one that every Catholic – indeed every Christian should want to lead.

An indulgence

Pope Benedict XV granted 500 days indulgence for devoutly kissing your scapular.

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Cluniacs, Dominicans, Pope Benedict XV – a busy day

The Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, otherwise known as All Souls’ Day. Immediately following yesterday’s Feast of All Saints, today the Church encourages us to pray for the Faithful Departed. For priests it can be a very busy day – well busier than normal. The opportunity is there to celebrate three Masses:

  1. for the particular intention
  2. for all the Faithful Departed
  3. for the intentions of the Holy Father

We have to thank the Cluniac Order for the date as it was decreed by St Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (died 1048) that special prayers and the Office of the Dead be said for all the souls in Purgatory on 2 November after All Saints’ Day. Soon after it became established in the Calendar of the whole Church.

The three Masses that can be said by any priest was an extension to the universal church of customs that had started with the Dominicans in the fifteenth century. Pope Benedict XV extended it during World War One as a result of the number of war dead and the Masses that could not be said because of destroyed churches.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord
And let light perpetual shine upon them.

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