Page 10, 1st February 1985

1st February 1985
Page 10
Page 10, 1st February 1985 — Chapter and verse

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Locations: York, Rome, London


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Chapter and verse

IN A BOOK about to be published by Jonathan Cape, Anwar El-Sadat quotes Anthony Eden as saying, when Prime Minister, that "Arabs are exactly like children. When one of them screams you need to give him a tank or a gun to play with to stop him screaming."

Unfortunately Sadat himself once played this dangerous game and found that Libya's Qadaffi, to whom he had lent two submarines, had ordered one of them to sink the Queen Elizabeth II when taking a complement of British and American passengers through the Mediterranean to Israel to participate in that country's twenty fifth year of survival.

Sadat managed to countermand the 1.ibyan orders in the very nick of time. He describes Qadaffi as a "madman" but adds that, sadly, "the toys he plays with are real weapons."

When Sadat was killed, Yasser Arafat publicly rejoiced. The PLO leader's backing of Russia'a attack against Afghanistan and his friendship with the present Iranian regime made the Arafat meeting with the Pope. in the autumn of 1982, a particularly painful one for John Paul. But the latter is a true peacemaker whenever opportunity knocks.

So, in the end, was Sadat. here pictured walking with his wife, Jihan, during the Yom Kippur War. "What did that war teach us?" he subsequently asked. "It taught us that we could gain less by war than by peace." And yet it was Sadat himself who had, long before, planned that very war.

In his book he promises to give his reasons in "my next chapter." But there never was another chapter for he was shot on the following day.

400 years on

VERY BRIEFLY a couple of weeks ago, 1 mentioned Mary Ward and described her as one of the greatest of all Catholic Englishwomen. It is strange that she is not better known but all of that will soon be remedied.

The actual anniversary of her birth (January 23, 1585) passed off quietly with only local, lowkey celebrations. But in April the real fun will start.

By then there will have been at least one major work published about her, written by Sr Emmanuel, former headmistress of St Mary's School, Ascot, and sister of the present headmistress.

Perhaps this is appropriate as St Mary's is one of the best known of the many schools throughout the world run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was of this institute that Mary Ward was the foundress. But what blood, sweat and tears it cost her.

She had the misfortune of being three hundred years ahead of her times. When, at St Omer in 1609, she formed a group of followers into a religious community, she ran into almost immediate trouble.

Her enemies were what some today would call "male chauvinist pigs."

Mary Ward, following the idea of the dynamic Jesuit breakaway from static monastic limitations, wanted to form an active order that would be free (without enclosure, choir or even religious habit) to go "out" into the world and conquer it for Christ.

She was totally misunderstood and one Jesuit said of her and her first followers "When all is done they are but women."

She was branded as a heretic and schismatic, imprisoned by the Roman Inquisition and condemned to death. Like St Joan she claimed to hear "voices," but of course no one believed her.

She was reprieved from execution and, after prolonged and piteous suffering, both mental and physical, died in 1645 having left an embryonic "foundation" at Hewarth, near York.

Many other "foundations" followed despite no official Church recognition of the Rules she had drawn up. This only came in in 1703, while the Institution was not finally confirmed until 1877 by Pope Pius IX.

The whole story is intensely dramatic and would make a gripping film. We will be hearing much more about the amazing Mary between now and April.

In that month, members of her Institute will flock to London from all over the world

for the official celebrations at Westminster. They will surely be as "glad and joyful" as was Mary's last wish for all her daughters.

Urban renewal

THE STORY of Mary Ward is inevitably linked with the extraordinary Urban VIII who reigned as Pope from 1623 to 1644. "With all his limitations," as Fr James Brodrick once wrote in a pamphlet, he befriended Mary and saved her front the Inquisition. This was ironical in view of what happened later in his pontificate.

Urban was a vigorous reformer but the conventionally bland accounts in the normal reference books make him sound rather dull.

In fact he was anything but this. He overturned traditions without a second thought. He wiped out an existing law which Forbade the erection in Rome of the statue of a living Pope for fear of defacement. "Such a law could not apply to a Pope such as me!" he exclaimed.

He discarded many of the papacy's ecclesiastical trammels in favour of more martial accoutrements.

He favoured France against the Empire in the Thirty Years War, with less than wholly felicitous results. He built farflung fortifications and turned the vaults of the Vatican library into an arsenal. He wrote rather "racy" poetry and invented the term "Eminence" for Cardinals.

His best friend was Bernini who found time, in between conceiving his "other" breathtaking creations, to execute numerous busts of his patron and write satirical sketches for His Holiness's light entertainment.

The Pope lavished such extensive honours on his Barberini relations that he set up two commissions to investigate the morality of his own actions. Both commissions found in his favour. (Surprise, surprise!) But Urban VIII, impetuous, extravagant and flambouyant, must have had charm and a sense of humour.

Unfortunately one notorious tragedy overshadowed his reign, namely the second and final condemnation of Galileo whom he handed over to the Inquisition. Urban V111, in the words of one historian, "will always be associated with the picture of the cowed and broken genius, brought to his knees to retract publicly and in terms of abject submission the greatest discovery his contemporaries were not ready to grasp."

Galileo took even longer than Mary Ward to be finally vindicated by the Church.


IT IS ironical that in the seventeenth century a Catholic Mary wanted to bring women out of religious enclosures while, in the next century, a Protestant Mary tried to put them back there.

The latter was Mary Astell, one of the first women after the dissolution of the monasteries to suggest a revival of houses where women could live in retreat and under discipline. She was supported by Queen Anne but got short shrift from the bishops. (Male chauvinism again?) Mary Astell is one of the many "British Women Saints, Martyrs and Reformers" described by Kathleen Parbury in her forthcoming book Women of Grace.

Another of the laudable ladies listed was a seventh century Abbess called Bugga, daughter of King Centwine of Wessex. But, says the note about her, "she must not be confused with the Bugga who was the friend of St Boniface, or with the Bugga who was the daughter of Abbess Dunne of Withington."

What a lot of Buggas!

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