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The Pope Visits Scotland

(God help him!)

Martin Blackshaw POSTED: Thursday September 16, 2010

 (  Mud, mud, glorious mud,’ was bellowed out by Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien during his solo rendition of Flanders and Swann’s ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ on August 28. Accompanying His Eminence in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was the Really Terrible Orchestra (RTO), which, as the name suggests, consists of a 65-strong group of non-musicians renowned for raising hilarity with their tuneless performances.

The RTO was formed some 15 years ago by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith. It has since gained a reputation for annually roping in high profile personalities to sing solos to its accompaniment.  This year’s invitation went to Cardinal O’Brien who, evidently forgetting the dignity of his sacred office, agreed to take part in the tickets-only event. The venue? None other than the Cardinal’s Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Mary.

And so with plenty of media coverage, laughter and applause, His Eminence took ‘centre stage’, just above the mortal remains of his predecessors in the house of God. The irony of his Eminence’s refrain was not lost on those who have lamented the descent of so many consecrated souls into the mud and mire of religious indifference these past fifty years. The Cardinal reportedly thought this appalling spectacle would be a good way to celebrate his 25th anniversary as a bishop. It would appear that Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, agreed, since the written protestations of a number of outraged Catholics sent to the Vatican six weeks before the event, went unanswered.

Talking about anniversaries, it seems the papal visit to Scotland this September just happens to coincide with the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in this once-Catholic land.

The Scottish hierarchy claims that it intends merely to mark, rather than celebrate, the Reformation aspect of the occasion, yet it has hired an actor to dress up as the apostate priest John Knox who will shake hands with the Pope in a gesture of ecumenical brotherhood. In other words, the Reformation is being celebrated and thrust into the face of the Holy Father.

This shameless piece of hypocrisy rides in on the back of a recent precedent set in Scotland between the Catholic bishops and the Kirk, namely, the launch of a joint Catholic/Protestant liturgy for the renewal of baptismal vows.

And lest anyone think that the Scottish hierarchy is short on new ideas to further undermine the Catholic Faith in this country, they have arranged a couple of secular performances for His Holiness at the Papal Mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

Michelle McManus and Suzan Boyle, TV talent show singers, have been recruited to sing for the Pope just prior to the Mass. Although Catholic, neither performer will sing a Catholic hymn. Their function is to create a concert atmosphere with secular songs.

If media reports are to be believed, this wholly inappropriate business is an episcopal attempt to fill the void left by Pope John Paul II, whose “acting abilities” and “rock star” persona are noticeably absent in Benedict XVI.

I personally remember those picnicking groups of “faithful” squatting on the grass feeding their faces with food and drink during the Mass of Pope John Paul II in 1982. I even recall one woman putting her half-eaten sandwich down in order to go up and receive Holy Communion. There was definitely more of a Glastonbury than Calvary feel to that Papal Mass, and this is evidently what the Scottish Bishops hope to recreate when Benedict comes to town.

Is it any wonder that the great majority of Catholics in Scotland are merely nominally so, and that the last seminary in the land recently closed its doors for good?

In contrast with these insipid episcopal efforts to reach out to Protestants and secularists, the Scottish hierarchy appears to be completely indifferent to the situation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (formerly the Transalpine Redemptorists) who remain isolated on their northern Island of Papa Stronsay.

It seems that two years on from their decision to “reconcile” with Rome, these Traditional Mass priests and monks still await canonical status for their community. The withholding of such status means they cannot celebrate Mass anywhere outside of Stronsay. It also means that two seminarians of the Order cannot move forward for ordination. One foreign prelate recently called their wait for canonical status “a record” in Church history.

Fr. Michael Mary, the community’s superior, views this suffering as a test of patience and insists that he does not regret his decision of two years ago. For him, the Pope’s goodwill motu proprio of 2007 was sufficient to warrant that decision.  If only the bishops themselves shared the Pope’s goodwill. At this point, one is tempted to send Father Michael Mary a canary, his monastery island is so beginning to resemble Alcatraz.

Clearly, His Holiness does have goodwill towards Traditional Catholics. I think if it were up to him Traditional priests and religious would be given free rein to help restore the Faith wherever it has been lost, which, at this point, constitutes just about the entire known world. There are bishops, however, ready and willing to thwart the Pope’s efforts (and his good will!) at every opportunity, and they’re getting away with it.

As the above-enumerated scandals indicate, the bishops of Scotland are hostile to the traditional Catholic Faith. If further proof is required one need only read certain so-called “Catholic” newspapers and magazines to see the heresy and moral dissent that regularly circulates unchecked in their respective dioceses. It would be a dereliction of Catholic duty for Catholics here to remain silent in the face of such deviancy. Most remain grateful to God for the caution and prudence Bishop Bernard Fellay has demonstrated in his ongoing negotiations with the Holy See. His Excellency knows well enough that papal goodwill alone will not end the present crisis in the Church, so long as a liberal episcopal elite holds to its alternative agenda.

The respected German canonist, Dr. Georg May, professor emeritus of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, and a priest of 40 years good standing in the Church, summed up the SSPX’s situation in 2003 when he wrote: “The SSPX is not schismatic because she neither rejects subordination to the Roman Pontiff nor rejects communion with the bishops (can. 751). Rather, the latter (i.e., the bishops) reject communion with the Society.”  It would also seem that many of them implicitly reject communion with the Vicar of Christ in matters pertaining directly to traditional faith and morals, as well, at least if anything at all can be deduced by their fruits.  Please pray for the Holy Father during his visit to our corner of what was once Christendom. 

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