Page 8, 30th July 1976

30th July 1976
Page 8
Page 8, 30th July 1976 — If all the Irish returned to church

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If all the Irish returned to church

1 I ERYONE started to • •:hurch again there 1 not be room. Not n in Norwich. There Id be riots segregated nurse in the suburbs, the newly devout forced ,,c!r way, wrapt and ' -oted, into their proper venticles.

d if all the Irish started ag hack to Communion r•cently arrived, the born :1 -I.. and the heirs of the 19th r,ultury they would have to battle the riot police out at the altar rails. Except that the Irish :lo not much press forward for Communion. They have a gravely over-developed sense of sin. Could they he Jansenists? But if this happened, and in .he 13th and 14th century it triusi almost have been true, how odd it would seem to us. For most of the people and for a lot of the priests Mass was a sat and inevitable act • 0-!,haps the only noble thing in

iives of the poor.

And when, later, the priests ,:,:;;ame regarded as stupid in a h,Irgeoning Renaissance -*LTItion, the poor fellows in outer rural parishes were :;(i.issed as "mumpsimus" because that,people

• was the limit of their Though, of course, the of government was left (the educated clergy.

Nun-stop Dublin

But there are places where churches are still uncomfortably full. I remember going to Mass in Dublin. My wife and vent to that large "T" shaped f...hiirch, rather elegant, on the ;;onside of the railings by the amide of Trinity College. 1 cannot 'I.:member its name or street, out it is as busy as a 19th cen..aty cotton mill.

We came in towards the end

a Mass. I have a sad neurosis or being early for things inawed, I think, by the fact that S 1 my peculiar regiment every ;,our meant five minutes to.

Anyway, we came in for the tail end of the previous Mass. And when it was over the priest simply turned round and started again at the foot of the altar in Irish. It was after the Vatican Council certainly, but the Mass had not been radically changed except for being in the vernacular.

The astonishing thing was that the huge church was never and Communion was issued at It was also never still, intervals by another priest. It may not have been the most dignified form of Mass indeed, it smacked of the conveyor belt but it simply had to be done.

Another place of overcrowded churches is Poland. There is one small classical church in Warsaw, domed and with a fine polluted portico where you have to be early to get inside. It is known as the Church of Three Crosses. Otherwise you stand outside in a crowd without the faintest idea of what is going on inside. The same happens in the Polish countryside. On Sunday mornings, every road and footpath is alive with people walking to a village. And each village seems to sport a large church. usually of a rather dreary and spikey 19th century gothic disign.

Queueing up before dawn

But if you want crowds, you must go to Czestochowa. There they' start queueing up at the locked gates of the monastery before dawn, And when they open the gates, there is a downright dangerous rush down steps into the church where the Ikon of the Virgin, which is the talisman of Poland if that is a permissible expression is kept. On great feasts they say Mass and expose the great, almost menacing, ikon on the battlements of the fortified monastery and the congregation kneels far below in a sloping meadow. And I once went to Mass in the rather Germanic cathedral in the Pesth part of Buda-Pesth. There was a bishop singing Mass in the centre of an almost intolerable squish of people. He was at peace with the government, but was certainly a legitimate prelate. When It came to Communion, sturdy young priests forced their way like policemen through the crowd giving out the hosts from wicker baskets. The singing was so loud that it might almost have been pop. I seem to have got into a rut now and I will not mention Rome where, in ecclesiastical crushes, the thing to watch out for is nuns. It is not for nothing that they are always in the front row.

1 once gave up a place in St Peter's which I had fought for cleanly and with an irreducible minimum of violence to some good sisters. and all I got for my British weakness was a sharp elbow in a soft stomach. But at least it shows that they care.

Archbishop on a tightrope

IT DOES rather look as if Archbishop Lefebvre has done it this time. On Thursday of last week The Times' excellent and wise correspondent in Italy I would not say quite as much for The Guardian's reported that the Sacred Congregation of Bishops had forbidden the Archbishop "the exercise of any power deriving from Holy Orders." And if he does he would incur excommunication.

On June 29, he ordained 13 priests and 13 deacons though in horrid disobedience of the Holy See and the Ecumenical Council known as Vatican Two.

I confess I find it hard to reconcile a present disobedience in a Church which does not even pretend to be democratic with a professed loyalty to traditions that the Roman Church has always interpreted and reinterpreted, making a subtle distinction between a'doctrine and its formulation.

No one has mentioned' of

ficially that ugly word "Schism." It looms even over Ukrainians who have been heroic for the Filith. So I looked it tip in Karl Rahner's "Theological Dictionary" which carries every sort of English "Imprimatur." Fr Rahner used to be considered a daring theologian. He has since been passed by others, but, of schism, his splendid dictionary has this to say: "A Greek term which means the breach of ecclesiastical un ity. Schism occurs according to the Code of Canon Law when a baptised person refuses to be subject to the Pope or to live in communion with the members of the Church who are subject to the Pope. "The New Testament does not distinguish schism from heresy. The theological problem is bow, since the definition of the Pope's primacy of jurisdiction, there can be a schism which is not also a heresy." Archbishop Lefebvre's bestknown statement is: "We refuse to follow the Rome of neo modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies so clearly shown in the Second Vatican Council and in all the reforms deriving from it," Talk about having your cake and eating it! Which is a thing I seldom talk about.

Community of reconciliation

THERE is not much that is good coming out of Mother Ireland these days. One shining exception and an increasingly famous one is called Corrymeela. Based on the example of the Iona meetings and the Taize monastery, is in effect a "dispersed" community dedicated to reconciliation especially in Ireland. It is about 80 strong. It has a house that will hold 50 on the North Antrim coast. It is rebuilding a work camp. It has a meeting place in Belfast. It has courses and discussions where Catholics and Protestants alike canget away from the stress of life in the troubled areas and get to know one another again as human beings.

It has work projects for the young and' again no religious distinctions are made. It relies a great deal on voluntary help and it is remarkably cheap. If you are at all interested, write to Summer Opportunities, Corrymeela House, 8 Upper Crescent, Belfast BT7 INT.

Michael Holroyd, reviewing a book on Ireland last Sunday had this to say. Writing of the violence in Northern Ireland, "He points to boredom and to mental illness as being part of the cause . . . . Why all this thuggery is called 'religious' or 'political' has never been explained. It is genetic. lithe Irish gave as much thought and money to the bringing up of their children as they do to the breeding of horses, the problem would vanish in a generation." Rough stuff! But Corryniecla House is trying to practice what he teaches.

English Cardinals, good and dud

THERE have been about 40 English Cardinals. Some of them were duds, some of them glittered even within the most brilliant and holy corridors of the Church, Take Cardinal Pole. He is buried beside the stone Primatical Throne at the far end of Canterbury, There is no finer inscription on any tomb in the kingdom than his. Plainly, it says "Polus." He had the good fortune to die the day before Mary Tudor, whom he had tried to moderate.

Or there was Stephen Langton, a Lincolnshire man. He was born about I 160. He was the man who divided the Greek text of the Scriptures into chapter and verses which was adopted throughout the Church and by the Jews. He wrote a life of that unsavoury king, Richard Coeur de Lion. It also seems likely that he wrote the "Veni, Sastre Spiritus."

When the heat of the Reformation died down, the British Government liked to have an English Cardinal in Rome, not as an ambassador, but as a person of impeccable nobility to whom they could talk with that discretion that is said to exist among gentlemen. And the golden Victorian age (for the middle classes) produced no greater men than Newman and Manning. July 22 this year was the 600th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Simon Langham. He was the only Abbot of Westminster to become Archbishop of Canterbury and probab the only monk of WestrninsU to become a Cardinal ex ttpt that Ampleforth Abbey, off -nd on, claims direct canonical descent from Westminster. He was Chancellor of England and is said to have been the first to speak in English from the Woolsack.

He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1366 and was consecrated according to the Sarum rite. He censured the Left-wing priest, John Ball. who wrote: When Adam delved and Eve span,

Who was then the gentleman?

When he was made a Cardinal by Pope Urban V, King Edward III, not having given permission, took the revenues of Canterbury and the Cardinal quietly resigned his See. He

joined the curia which was then in that magical gothic palace at Avignon where he was known as the "Cardinal of Canterbury."

Churchmen showed their loyalty to 'him by giving him various livings and he became as rich as any property developer ten years ago. He died on the eve of returning in peace to England. His great love, like a proper Benedictine, was for his abbey. He is buried in one of the oldest tombs in Westminster Abbey in St Bcnct's Chapel. And he left the place enough money to complete the nave, the Abbot's house and part of the cloisters.

He is really the second founder of the Abbey and, in a slightly muted sort of way, they have just kept his anniversary.

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