Thursday, 23 April 2015

1916: Generals Maxwell & Wilson Two of a Kind

Generals Maxwell & Wilson
Two of a Kind

Oh! you would bring me to your Queen, low at her feet to kneel,
Crave mercy from her stony heart, and urge some mean appeal!
I answer No! my knees will bend and prayers of mine arise
To but one Queen, the Queen of Heaven, high-throned above the skies.

When I am finished, there will not be a whisper of sedition in Ireland for another 100 years.”

Such, this latter, was the proud boast of Lieutenant General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell KCB, KCMG, CVO, DSO, when he arrived in Dublin on the Friday of Easter Week, 1916.

Such, this former, was the firm answer and commitment of all right-thinking Irish men, women and children; priest, prelate and pauper alike; and put into words in O’Ruairc’s Request by T.D.Sullivan long before this contemptible excuse for an English gentleman and soldier ever set foot on Irish soil.

This was the man whose ignominious service record prior to his arrival on what was never John Bull’s other island mentioned both Egypt and South Africa. In Lions Led by Donkeys”, John Bourne, Director of the Centre for First World War Studies of the University of Birmingham, described his life up to his Irish sojourn as “a career of great distinction”. That distinction involved, in North Africa, atrocities against both civilians and prisoners of war as an aid to Lord Kitchener, the “Butcher of Khartoum”. In South Africa, as a senior general himself now, he was aware of, and, indeed, had ultimate responsibility for the Concentration Camps and the unforgivably inhumane treatment therein of old and infirm Boer men and women, of younger Boer women and their children, and of native Africans. In appalling circumstances, these all were held prisoner with little or no food and with access to neither medicine nor medical treatment. Into these hands which would most certainly “the multitudinous seas incarnadine” did His Britannic Majesty’s Imperial Government commend for mercy those taken prisoner during the Easter Uprising.

His Britannic Majesty and His Imperial Government must have had some sense of humour!

Mind you, so must have the General.

After he had had the leaders of the Uprising extra-judicially murdered, he had the effrontery to write to the Catholic Bishops of Ireland directing them to remove various, to him, suspect priests from active ministry. In his letter to Bishop O’Dwyer he named two priests, Frs Hall and Bayes. These good men, like the others, had preached against conscription and were thus deemed by Maxwell dangerous menaces to all that he held dear. In directing one of his epistles to the Most Reverend Dr Edward Thomas O’Dwyer, Bishop of Limerick, he was singularly ill-advised. Dr O’Dwyer replied by means of an open letter written from Kilmallock and published, first, in the County newspaper:

I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 12th instant which has been forwarded to me here.

I have read carefully your allegations against Rev. Hall and Rev. Bayes but do not see in them any justification for disciplinary action on my part. They are both excellent priests, who hold strong national views, but I do not know that they have violated any law, civil or ecclesiastical.

In your (previous) letter of the 6th instant you appealed to me to help you in the furtherance of your work as a military dictator of Ireland. Even if action of that kind was not outside my province, the events of the past few weeks would make it impossible for me to have any part in proceedings which I regard as wantonly cruel and oppressive.

You remember the Jameson raid1, when a number of buccaneers invaded a friendly state and fought the forces of the lawful government. If ever men deserved the supreme punishment it was they, but officially and unofficially, the influence of the British government was used to save them and it succeeded. You took care that no plea for mercy should interpose on behalf of the poor young fellows who surrendered to you in Dublin. The first information which we got of their fate was the announcement that they had been shot in cold blood.

Personally, I regard your action with horror, and I believe that it has outraged the conscience of the country. Then the deporting of hundreds and even thousands of poor fellows without a trial of any kind seems to me an abuse of power as fatuous as it is arbitrary and your regime has been one of the worst and blackest chapters in the history of misgovernment of the country.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant.

Edward Thomas, Bishop of Limerick

To General Sir J.G Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief, the forces in Ireland
(Courtesy of the Limerick Leader)

On September 14, 1916, the good bishop, who the novelist Kate O’Brien described as “brilliant and difficult”, was presented with the Freedom of the City of Limerick. During his acceptance speech — a famous speech during which he commented favourably upon the national spirit of resistance and which was accredited by many as having a decisive effect upon the outcome of the bye-election in East Clare — he posed a very pertinent question; a question which was to be quoted later to great effect by, amongst others, Eamon de Valera during the General Election to the Imperial Parliament at Westminster of December 1918. The Most Reverend gentleman asked: “When Lord Wimborne and Mr Devlin and Mr Redmond called on our young Irishmen to go to Flanders and give their lives for Home Rule in Belgium, was it not natural that in view of the state of their own country they should ask themselves if it was not all British cant and hypocrisy, and in their indignation break out in rebellion?”

It is perhaps worth noting that Maxwell was not the only British General of that time to hate the Irish Catholic Nationalists. On Monday, October 21, 1918, Earl Haig noted in his diary2:

“Trafalgar Day. At the request of the Navy League, I sent a message to the President of the League (the Duke of Buccleuch) for publication today. It seems to have given great satisfaction both to Mercantile Marine as well as to the Royal Navy.
Doris (Lady Haig) and I motored to London about 10am and I visited the War Office. General Davidson met me. I also saw General Macdonagh A.G. (Adjutant General). I showed him my note on proposals for an armistice. He agreed with me entirely. As regards manpower, he stated that our latest figures showed that we are not able to maintain more than 36 Divisions next year. At present we have 61 Divisions. I then saw the C.I.G.S. (Chief of Intelligence to General Staff) General (Henry) Wilson. We discussed the situation. I gathered that the main reason why he was in favour of a “complete surrender” for terms of an armistice is on account of Ireland. He is most keen that conscription should be applied to Ireland at once in order to get us more men. And as a means of pacifying Ireland.”

Gerard J de Groot wrote of General Wilson: “After a discussion on 21 October (1918), Haig concluded that Wilson wanted to continue the War so that conscription could be enforced in Ireland, and that country be pacified in the process.”3 Of course, it need hardly be wondered at by which methods Wilson, supporter in chief of the Curragh mutineers, seek to pacify Ireland!
But Ireland was not to be pacified. For the poem ends:

And now you ask my dying wish? My last and sole request
Is that the scaffold built for me be fronted to the West,
Of my dear country far away one glimpse I cannot see
Whenever and however high you raise the gallow tree;
Yet would I wish my last fond look should seek that distant shore;
So turn my face to Ireland Sirs, of you I ask no more.

(1) The Jameson Raid was an ineffective attempt to overthrow President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic. It took place over the New Year weekend of 1895/96. It has been said that it helped to precipitate both the Second Boer War and the Second Matabele War.

(2) Private Papers of Douglas Haig, 1914-1919, “Being selections from the private diary and correspondence of Field Marshall the Earl Haig of Bermersyde KT GCB CMG, Edited by Robert Blake, published by Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1952, @p334.

(3) Douglas Haig 1861-1928, Gerad J de Groot, Unwin Hyman, London 1988. At p392.)

O’Rourke’s Request
(Brian O’Ruairc - Prince of Breffni, AD1589)

You ask me what defence is mine?
Here! midst your armed bands,
You only mock the prisoner, who is helpless in your hands!
What would defence avail of me,
Though good it be and true,
Here in the heart of London town, with judges such as you?
You gravely talk about my “crime”!
I own no crime at all;
The deeds you blame I’d do again should such a chance befall.
You say I’ve helped the foreign foes,
Who war against our Queen —
Well, challenged so, I’ll proudly show what has my helping been:
On that wild day, when near our coast
the stately ships of Spain,
Caught in a fierce and sudden storm for shelter sought in vain;
When, wrenched and torn 'midst mountain waves
some foundered in the deep,
And others broke on sunken reefs and headlands rough and steep —
I heard the cry that off my land
where breakers rise and roar
The sailors from a wrecking ship were striving for the shore.
I hurried to the frightful scene,
my generous people too,
Men, women, and children came, with kindly deed to do.
We saw them clutching spars and planks,
that soon were washed away,
Saw some bleeding on the rocks, low moaning where they lay;
Some cast ashore, and back again dragged by the refluant wave,
When one grip from a friendly hand would have sufficed to save.
We rushed into the raging surf, watched every chance; and when
They rose and rolled within our reach, we grasped the drowning men.
We took them to our hearths and homes, and bade them there remain
’Till they might leave with hope to reach their native land again.
This is the “treason” you have charged! Well, treason let it be,
One word of sorrow for this fault, you'll never hear from me.
I'll only say, although you hate my race and creed and name,
Were your folk in that dreadful plight I would have done the same.
Oh, you would bring me to your Queen, low at her foot to kneel,
Crave mercy from her stony heart, and urge some mean appeal!.
I answer No! my knees will bend and prayers of mine arise
To but one Queen, the Queen of Heaven, high throned above the skies.
And now you ask my dying wish? My last and sole request
Is that the scaffold built for me be fronted to the West,
Of my dear country far away one glimpse I cannot see
Whenever and however high you raise the gallow tree;
Yet would I wish my last fond look should seek that distant shore;
So turn my face to Ireland Sirs, of you I ask no more.

(Timothy Daniel Sullivan 1827 – 1914)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Good Pope John consecrated Bishop

Tomorrow is the 90th anniversary of Good Pope John (now St Pope John) being ordained Bishop as titular Archbishop of Areopolis consequent upon his appointment as Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria. Contrary to what is often said abut this, it was NOT the  usual practice at that time to invest those delegated as Apostolic Visitors with archiepiscopal character. Indeed, Pope Pius XI, who was sending Don Angelo to Bulgaria, was not himself made an archbishop when he was sent as Apostolic Visitor to Poland and Lithuania on April 25, 1918. Naming Don Angelo archbishop may well have been prompted by his own disgraceful treatment when he was barred from entering the room where the Polish Bishops were meeting at the monastery of Częstochowa by the prelate acting as secretary for the meeting. He was pointedly told: “Polish bishops don’t need a Vatican priest to advise them”.

Fr Ratti soon got his revenge. The prelate concerned was the prince bishop of Cracow, Adam Stefan Sapieha. His two predecessors as Bishop of Cracow had been made cardinals — Albin Cardinal Dunajewski after 11 years; Jan Maurycy Pawel Cardinal Puzyna z Kosielsko after 6 — but by the time he might have expected the gallero rosso, Ratti was Pope. Sapieha had to wait until 1946 and  new Pope’s first consistory.

But, surely, there must be more to it than that? Indeed, there is It must be remembered that although Don Angelo was, perhaps, not all that well known in some parts of the Vatican, he was very well known in the rooms that matter in the Apostolic Palace. Pope Pius XI knew him well, having first met him when Don Angelo was appointed secretary to his best friend, Mgr Giacomo Mari Radini-Tedeschi, when he was made bishop of Bergamo.

Bishop Radini-Tedeschi was an alumnus of the Academia, Class of 1890, and he, too, had gone on to serve, not in the Congregation for the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Holy See. Indeed, in that same year that he entered the Academia, 1890, he was appointed an assistant in that Secretariat (things were done a bit differently then). It is important to note that the Cardinal Secretary of State at that time was Mariano Cardinal Rampolla, whose candidacy at the conclave in 1903 was vetoed by Jan Cardinal Puzyna on the orders of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Josef I. More importantly, the Cardinal Secretary of State’s personal secretary/office chief was Fr Giacomo della Chiesa, the future Pope Benedict XV.

In 1891, Fr Radini-Tedeschi was chosen as “ablegate” to convey the “gallero rosso”, the doubly 15-tasselled cardinal’s hat of old, to Austria-Hungary, for it to be presented to Mgr Anton Joseph Gruscha, prince-archbishop of Vienna, by the Emperor, Franz Josef I. Then, in 1893, he was assigned the same role to convey the cardinal’s hats to Paris, so that the y might be presented by President Marie François Sadi Carnot to Mgrs Victor-Lucien-Sulpice Lecot, archbishop of Bordeaux, and Joseph-Christian-Ernest Bourret, bishop of Rodez. This was a highly important mission as it was part of Pope Leo XIII’s attempt to woo the French Third Republic and these two ecclesiastics were very important allies in that regard.

As was the practice at the time, Fr Radini-Tedeschi was allowed to invite a priest friend to accompany him on these missions. He invited his best friend from his days at the Pontifical Lombard Seminary in Rome (and I believe they were in fact friends before this), Fr Achille Ratti, the future Pope Pius XI.

PS: The choice of titular See for the new Archbishop Roncalli is interesting. As is well known, the Good Pope John hailed from Bergamo. The See of Areopolis had just become available (you can’t really say “vacant”) as the previous holder of it had died during the preceding month, on Tuesday, February 10. That previous owner was Archbishop Paolo Emio Bergamaschi. I think I am right in saying that that family name can be translated as meaning “from Bergamo”!  

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Spanish take on the problems of Rangers Football Club (RIP)

This Blog is, of course, dedicated to serious comment on matters of Faith, the Catholic Faith. Naturally, from time to time I, like any- and everyone else need a wee bit of light relief.

This morning, with the prospect of the rigours of Lent before, and already having got off to a bad start by sleeping in for 7am Mass, light relief came by way of an email from a good friend containing a lik to a Spanish take on the travails of Rangers Football Club (RIP).

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Consistory of November 24, 2007

In the Tablet this weekend it wrongly states that Cardinal Brady was created cardinal at the 2003 consistory. I know that that is not correct because I was present in Rome on Saturday, November 24, 2007 when he actually was created cardinal. And just to prove it (bottom two are, firstly, me with Cardinal Brady (at the greeting of the new cardinals on the Saturday afternoon in the Paul VI Hall) and then, secondly, me with Cardinal Karlic, a saint of a man (on the Monday morning in St Peter's)...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Deacon John (Anthony) Ferguson RIP

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 7, we will gather in St Mary’s, Whifflet, Coatbridge, not to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law John, but to prepare to bury him. John is, or, rather, was, a Permanent Deacon there. Before we commit him to the grave we will ask God in the best way we know how, by the celebration of the Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice, to pardon John his sins and to welcome him into the new and eternal Jerusalem where Lazarus will be poor no more and where he will be reunited with his Maker and might (although personally I have no doubt whatsoever that he will) be reunited with his own mother and father; and mine; and my brother Owen, sister-in-law, May, and their daughter, my lovely niece, Paula-bash (-bash? long story).

My big sister’s youngest son, John Anthony, has paid a moving tribute to his dad on his Blog upon which I couldn’t improve. But just for the record, my late parents, Rose and Joe, were delighted when Morag and John got engaged and their pride in both (a natural, parental pride which can never be a sin) grew over the years, but most especially over the early years of their marriage with the addition of each son, the one progressively dafter than those preceding: Martin Joe, Kieran and John Anthony (in decreasing order of age, and hence increasing order of daftness).

AS for me? Words fail me. Gonnae miss you, John. Already do.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Second Franciscan Consistory

It has been announced that a second Franciscan consistory for the creation of new cardinals will be held on Friday/Saturday, February 14/15. If Pope Francis follows the same sort of time scale he employed last time — announced December 11 that a consistory was to be held; January 12, list of new cardinals released (16 electors, 3 honoured but over the age limit); February 22, consistory held — then it seems likely that the list of new cardinals will be published at the traditional Angelus held on the Feast of the Epiphany, Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

Since it is anybody’s guess as to who will be on the list, the sensible thing would seem to be to address first of all the question of what do we actually know?

Today, December 20, His Eminence Julius Riyadi Cardinal Darmaatmadja SJ, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia, celebrates his 80th birthday and so loses his status as a cardinal elector. Therefore, currently there are 111 cardinal electors, 9 short of the maximum 120 prescribed by the laws of the Church. Between now and the consistory another cardinal will celebrate his 80th birthday and so cease to be a member of the College of Cardinal Electors. This is Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo (January 3), President Emeritus of the Governatorate of Vatican City State. So, barring the intervention of the Grim Reaper, as the consistory opens there will be 10 red zucchetti available for distribution.

However, it may well be that Pope Francis may allow himself a little leeway, as did Pope Benedict latterly. But also, again as with his illustrious predecessor, it is unlikely that he will play fast and loose with the limit (as St Pope John Paul II was wont to do). As the day of his first consistory dawned, there were 14 vacancies in the College of Cardinal Electors. Pope Francis in fact created 16 new cardinals that day.Those two additional cardinal electors are most easily explained by noting that in the month following that first Franciscan consistory two cardinals attained their 80th birthdays. These were Jean-Baptiste Cardinal Pham Minh Mân, Archbishop Emeritus of Hô Chí Minh City, Vietnam (March 5), and Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, Italy,  (March 14).

There is no reason to suppose that Pope Francis will do anything wildly different this time. Thus it is highly likely that he will take cognisance of the fact that His Beatitude Antonios Cardinal Naguib, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, will be 80 less than a month after the consistory, on March 7. In addition, Justin Francis Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia is 80 on April 19. Taking these two into account would allow him to create 12 new cardinals. Crucially, from my way of thinking, in the latter case, that of Cardinal Rigali, this would allow the elevation of his successor, Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput OFM Cap (70). Not only would this be most apposite as Archbishop Chaput will host next year’s World Meeting of the Families (September 22-27), it would also create an important and symbolic historical fact: the good Archbishop would become the first ever Native American cardinal — from any part of the continent!

On January 13, 2012, in the run-up to the fourth Benedictine consistory, I noted that the Pope Emeritus had allowed himself a little leeway by taking into account the fact that “five cardinals were due to celebrate their 80th birthdays during the five calendar months following the consistory” (and by so doing neatly allowed himself to exclude the then Archbishop Vincent Nichols without appearing too brutal about it!). However, I suggested a better, more straightforward rule: The maximum number of 120 cardinal electors can be temporarily exceeded by the Pope taking into account those cardinals who will attain their 80th birthday in the six calendar months following the month in which a consistory is held.

However, on this occasion this would not make much difference as it would only bring into play the two prelates already adverted to above, Cardinals Naguib and Rigali. If he stretched the point and gave himself one month more then he would have another two zucchetti to go round. Velasio Cardinal De Paolis, President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, is 80 on September 19 and Santos Cardinal Abril y Castelló, Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, follows suit two days later, on September 21.
Putting this all together, we can expect a minimum of 10 new cardinal electors but there may well be 14. This is roughly in line with last time. The upper limit of 120 is exceeded, but it is not flaunted.

We can pass over any venerably aged priests or prelates whom Pope Francis may wish to honour. It is impossible to predict that.

But who will be on the list of new cardinal electors?

As I said, anybody’s guess. The exclusions from the last consistory of Patriarch Francesco Moraglia (61) of Venice and Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia (70) of Turin were, I suppose, understandable. We have a new Pope who, albeit ethnic Italian himself, was elected to shake up the Curia and the old guard and order. But why refuse to elevate these two widely respected prelates ostensibly in an effort to de-Italianise the Sacred College and then elevate another Italian? This was Gualtiero Cardinal Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve? (Where? I here you ask. This is where Pope Leo XIII was bishop.)

This was an unnecessary but studied insult, not to the prelates, but to the Italian Sees concerned. And especially in the case of the Patriarchate of Venice, it was a slap in the face to an arguably unequalled, apart from Rome itself, part of the Catholic heritage of both Italy and the world. I trust, but with little confidence, that this mistake will be corrected.

Many don’t expect that any cardinals in curia will be created. However, there are two curialists who SHOULD be. Many, including yer man here, thought that the exclusion from the first Franciscan consistory for the creation of new cardinals of the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, the French Dominican Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, was a disgrace. Sadly, it was not unexpected.

His Excellency had incurred pre-Papal displeasure when, as the then Secretary to the Congregation for Education, he had heeded complaints from other Argentinian prelates over the then Cardinal Bergoglio’s proposal that Fr Víctor Manuel Fernández, his protégé and friend, be appointed Rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires. It may be recalled that the Cardinal got his way, belatedly, and that no sooner was he elected Pope than Fr Fernández became Archbishop Fernández. For Archbishop Bruguès, the writing was on the wall.

Going back to 1700, there were 20 Archivists before Mgr Bruguès. It was not until Fr Alfons Maria Stickler SDB was appointed pro-Archivist and pro-Vatican Librarian (there is also a Prefect of the Libraries, which is a different thing) on September 8, 1983, that a non-cardinal was appointed to the post. He was named an archbishop upon appointment and created cardinal at the first opportunity, on May 25, 1985. Interestingly, Cardinal Stickler retired on May 27, 1985 and a month later his friend and fellow Salesian Bishop Antonio María Javierre Ortas, Secretary of the Congregation for Education, was created cardinal, on June 28. Three days later, on July 1, he was named Archivist and Librarian.

On April 9, 1992, a distinguished Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Luigi Poggi, upon his retiral as Apostolic Nuncio to Italy was named pro- Archivist and Librarian. He, too, was created cardinal at the first opportunity, on November 26, 1994. The same happened with his successor, Jorge María Cardinal Mejía (appointed March 7, 1998, created cardinal February 21, 2001). And with Raffaele Cardinal Farina, yet another Salesian (June 25, 2007, and made Archbishop; November 24, 2007).

Then there is Archbishop Dominique François Joseph Mamberti (62), recently appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. It had been known for some time that Pope Francis intended to replace Mgr Mamberti as Secretary for Relations with States (2006-14), in effect the Holy See’s Foreign Minister, as his (new) Cardinal Secretary of State, His Eminence Pietro Parolin, wanted his own man. As in effect the Holy See’s Foreign Minister, Mgr Mamberti was an exception to the rule being one of only three non-Italians ever to have held that post. [The others were: Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran, also a Frenchman, now President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the newly appointed Camerlengo (as of Saturday, December 20), and; the Pole Wlodzimierz Czacki at the end of the nineteenth century.]

One would trust that Pope Francis would not now make Archbishop Mamberti an exception to two other long-standing rules: (1) on demitting office the Secretary for Relations with States is honoured with the Sacred Roman Purple, and; (2) the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura is a cardinal.

In this latter case, the earliest Prefect I am aware of is Maffeo Cardinal Barberini appointed on January 8, 1610. He was elected as Pope Urban VIII on August 6, 1623. Since that time, there have been 31 Prefects of the Apostolic Signatura (that we can be sure of) and it was not until April 7, 1967 (ten days your esteemed but humble scrivener here celebrated his fifteenth birthday) that a non-cardinal was appointed to the post. This was Archbishop Dino Staffa, then Secretary to the Congregation for Education.  He was created cardinal at the next consistory, on June 26 of that year.

Since then there have been, until now, five appointees who were also not cardinals but who were elevated at the next consistory. These were Archbishops: Aurelio Cardinal Sabattani (Secretary of the Signatura, May 17, 1982; February 2, 1983); Zenon Grocholewski (Secretary of the Signatura, October 5, 1998; appointed Prefect of Education November 15, 1999; February 21, 2001); Mario Francesco Pompedda (Dean of the Scared Roman Rota, November 16, 1999; February 21, 2001); Agostino Vallini (Bishop of Albano, May 27, 2004; March 24, 2006) Raymond Leo Burke (Archbishop of Saint Louis, Missouri, June 27, 2008; November 20, 2010).

As for any other suggestions? If I were to be entirely honest, I’ll just as likely win the Lotto as get them right.

(1) Curia heads of department who might under normal circumstances reasonably hope for elevation:

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia (69, Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for the Family (appointed June 26, 2012)
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski (65), President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers (April 18, 2009)
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella (63, Italian), President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (June 30, 2010)

NB: It is entirely possible that all three of these dicasteries will be merged into one Congregation.

NOTE: Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli (73, Italian) is President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (June 27, 2007) but this is not nowadays considered a red hat office. Cardinal Foley was promoted OUT of it.

(2) Curia cardinals at or about or over the age limit:
Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski (was 75 on October 11), Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study)
Angelo Cardinal Amato, S.D.B. (was 76 on June 8), Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio (was 76 on March 6), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò (was 76 on February 3), President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

NB: It is entirely possible that the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts will be merged into a Congregation for Justice, along with the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Sacred Roman Rota.

(3) Other problems related to the Curia and Sacred College:
Angelo Cardinal Sodano is now 87 and remains Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Roger Marie Élie Cardinal Etchegaray is now 92 and remains Vice-Dean (Sub-Dean) of the College of Cardinals
Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Cardinal Bertone SDB is 80 but remains Camerlengo. (This note was drafted earlier, so see above.)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Hate Speech Proponents Hate Free Speech

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
(Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 1906, in Friends of Voltaire; NB: NOT a quote from Voltaire himself.)

But when all people are allowed to express their views and ideas, the principles of democracy and liberty are enhanced. This extends even to that speech which is most hateful and offensive.”
(Oliver Wendall Holmes, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.)

“Over my dead body!
(David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond jointly, severally and together with leaders of all developed countries as they held hands with “Gay Rights”.)

When debating or discussing Free Speech, invariably the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is cited. There being no obvious reason to depart from this rhetorical tradition, it reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

(For those unfamiliar with American politics and government, the Congress is the Senate and the House of Representatives together forming the Legislature; and this is akin to the House of Commons and the House of Lords acting together as our Legislature in the UK.)

One of the great defenders of Free Speech in the USA in the 20th century, specifically but not exclusively as the discussion pertains to the Press, was HL Mencken, the legendary “Bad Boy of Baltimore”. One of the guiding principles I like to think I live by is Harry Mencken’s dictum: “To every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, neat and wrong!” So I was pleasantly surprised when I recently came across an example of a slightly altered form of this sage advice employed in a High Holy Day Message of the distinguished Jewish Theological Seminary of America which appeared as an advert in the September 23, 1982, issue of The New York Times. It read:


Two men are crossing a desert. They are three days from the nearest water hole. One of the men is carrying a canteen. The canteen holds three days’ supply of water — for one man. Should they divide it? Then both will die. Then what is the obligation of the owner of the canteen? One opinion says: a man must not stand by and watch his fellow man die. He should share the water with his companion. Another says: preservation of one’s own life takes precedence. The owner of the water must drink it and live.

Not so simple, is it? If you don’t see a simple, obvious solution, you’re in good company, because the discussion is nearly 1900 years old. It is recorded in the Talmud, and here is the interesting thing: both opinions are presented in the Talmud, the prevailing and the dissent.

Why both? Because Judaism recognizes life’s dilemmas and the difficulty of knowing how to handle them. The truth is, for most significant issues there is NO simple solution. Euthanasia? Abortion? Freedom of expression? Pornography? Skokie? In most cases, it just isn’t clear what God wants us to do.

When I read this, my first reaction was that I disagreed with these learned Jewish scholars: I think that more often than not it IS perfectly clear what God wants us to do. However, more or less simultaneously a question also sprung to mind: who, what or where is Skokie? And, why should it matter to these good men? The answer to the former, I found out, is that Skokie is a small suburb of Chicago, Illinois, which came to both national and international notice because, and this is the answer to the latter, of a highly unusual and seriously controversial case brought before the Supreme Court of the United States of America in the late 1970s.

I had recourse, of course, to the internet where I first read a review of a book, “When the Nazis Came to Skokie: Freedom for Speech We Hate”, by Philippa Strum (Landmark Law Cases and American Society: Series Editors Peter Charles Hoffer and N. E. H. Hull; University Press of Kansas). The review outlined the background:

In the Chicago suburb of Skokie, one out of every six Jewish citizens in the late 1970s was a survivor — or was directly related to a survivor — of the Holocaust. These victims of terror had resettled in America expecting to lead peaceful lives free from persecution. But their safe haven was shattered when a neo-Nazi group announced its intention to parade there in 1977. Philippa Strum’s dramatic retelling of the events in Skokie (and in the courts) shows why the case ignited such enormous controversy and challenged our understanding of and commitment to First Amendment values.

It should be noted that the neo-Nazi group in question had intended to hold their parade on April 20, Hitler’s birthday.

Clearly, differing legal rights were engaged here. On the one hand, the desire of the National Socialist Party of America, under its then leader Frank Collin, to parade through the streets of any community, anywhere in the United States, was supported by their First Amendment rights. On the other hand, the people of the town had every right to live in peace, free from any assault on their sensibilities — there was a village ordinance prohibiting the display of Nazi uniforms and the distribution of material deemed offensive — and free from violence, or the threat of violence, on their streets, and to their persons. (A couple of years later, it transpired that Frank Collin had been born Francis Joseph Cohen, the son of Max Simon Cohen, a survivor of Dachau Concentration Camp. Arrested for serious sexual offences against several children, a psychiatric report concluded that he was “consumed with hatred for his father”. This, it seems, was supposed to explain his name change, political activity and sexual abuse of the children.)

Nobody could doubt that the good people of Skokie had every reason to fearfully apprehend that, in what would inevitably be a volatile climate, either the neo-Nazi marchers, or the counter-demonstrators — Sol Goldstein, a Holocaust survivor and local community leader, on hearing of the proposed parade had immediately announced his plans for a counter-demonstration — or both, would resort to violence. And so Albert Smith, Mayor of Skokie, a devout Catholic and graduate of Notre Dame University, sought and obtained an injunction prohibiting the parade.

Incredibly, the American Civil Liberties Union then took up the case in behalf of the Nazis and for their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Their case was fought by attorney David Goldberger: a Jew defended before the Supreme Court the rights of neo-Nazis against the rights of fellow Jews. And won! No wonder this mattered to the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

One can hardly say ironically, but the ACLU both won AND lost — 30,000 of its members left the organization as a direct consequence of their taking up the neo-Nazis’ case. Doubtless, the ACLU decision-makers later rued the fact that subsequently the march never did in fact take place, but that is another story. The main story here is that in her book the point that Philippa Strum makes, and forcefully makes, is that freedom of speech MUST be defended — even when the beneficiaries of that defence are far from admirable individuals!

So what if those who some would silence are not far from admirable individuals, but are, on the contrary, perfectly ordinary, sane and sensible people? People just like you and me, for instance, the normally silent majority? Surely, no-one would ever dream of denying us our rights to Free Speech?
After all did not Oliver Wendall Holmes (1841-1935), that great American jurist (Associate Justice USA Supreme Court 1902-32; Acting Chief Justice January/February 1930), if we set aside Buck-v-Bell, not once say: “The First Amendment protects free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought we hate. If the past two centuries of struggle to preserve freedom of expression have taught us anything, it is that the first target of government suppression is never the last. Whenever government gains the power to decide who can speak and what they can say, the First Amendment rights of all of us are in danger of violation. But when all people are allowed to express their views and ideas, the principles of democracy and liberty are enhanced. This extends even to that speech which is most hateful and offensive.”

But, of course, this is not the USA and their Supreme Court’s writ does not run here. However, the legal and moral issues are just the same and the legal frameworks in which they must be dealt with are strictly analogous. In Rome, on November 4, 1950, the High Contracting Parties, the Governments of those countries who were then full members of the European Council, signed the European Convention on Human Rights. Section 1, Article 10 states:

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

(2) The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

But both in the USA and in the UK, Free Speech is no longer respected as a Civil Right IF you happen to disagree with a tiny fraction of one of the smallest minorities in either land: the professional proselytes, many, if not most, paid through the public purse in one way or another, within the less than 1½% of the population who are homosexuals of one sort or another (which statistic seemingly holds good more or less else- and every-where in the developed world).

This miniscule minority has decided that mainstream Christians and their beliefs about marriage, the family and society, and; their Bible and patristic writings, and; their ethics, morals, philosophy, theology, tradition and history (which history IN Europe is consubstantial with the history OF Europe), each and all are “most hateful and offensive” to them and, therefore, according to them, to each and every other homosexual, of whatever sort, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding for the good and simple reason that evidence to the contrary is not admitted and nor will it ever be if these people get their evil, anti-democratic way. Indeed, evidence, any evidence, in the matter from within the homosexual community has never been sought by them. So in that respect at least the overwhelming majority of the homosexual community are most definitely just like the overwhelming majority that is the rest of us.

For this miniscule minority, there can be no question of respecting the civil right to Freedom of Speech for we Christians, we perfectly ordinary, sane and sensible people. Nor for those, including many homosexuals, who though not sharing our religious perspective and background nevertheless concur with our views on marriage, the family and society. And they ARE getting their evil, anti-democratic way. And, just like Oliver, they want more. But unlike Oliver, they are likely to get it. But how can this be so?

These homosexual proselytes, thinly disguised as “equal rights activists”, and their fellow travellers, mainly of the political left but naturally including both trendy liberals and libertine Tories, have assiduously applied the principle enunciated by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900): “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar” (Walter Kaufmann, editor, The Portable Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols”, Penguin, 1982, p. 483). They have totally subverted the honest use of language, aided and abetted by those three greatest users, and abusers, of language: the print and broadcast media (aka MSM); the politicians, and; the judiciary.

PS: In his letter to Pinocchio, the then Cardinal Patriarch of Venice Albino Luciani, later Pope John Paul, quoted an anecdote from “Pitigrilli” (Dino Segre, 1893-1975) the noted Italian aphorist (whose novel Cocaine was placed on the Index) in which he recounted that a preacher was addressing the crowd gathered at Hyde Park Corner in London when he was heckled by a dirty and dishevelled individual who shouted out: “The Church has existed for two thousand years and the world is still full of thieves, adulterers and murderers.”

“You are right,” replied the preacher “but for two million centuries water has existed in the world and your neck has still not been washed.” (Illustrissimi: Letters from the Patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani.)

Among Pitigrilli’s well-known sayings is this: “Grammar: a complicated structure that teaches language but impedes speaking.”