Page 10, 31st July 1992

31st July 1992
Page 10
Page 10, 31st July 1992 — Little hope of a dispensation

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Locations: York, London, Edinburgh, Oxford


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Little hope of a dispensation

round to his seminarians. Perhaps this is the best possible defence against breaches of celibacy: to have bad breath from smoking.

The same Rector, despite making some very modernsounding noises ("The young men today are not ignorant novices, they have experiences before they come here") nevertheless used the old language. The priest who is "involved" with a woman needs to be "disentangled" and "sorted out."

Said one Spanish lady in the programme: "When I was pregnant I said I can't go through with this, it's scandalous. He objected. He doesn't believe in abortion, he always wanted to have a child. When the man is so strong and you love him, and you believe you are loved, you can't go against his will. I was very happy to have his baby."

Who said: "The opposite of love is not hatred or indifference — but power"? Carl Gustav Jung. Talking of which by the time you read this I will be in St Martin's College. Lacey, in the state of Washington. Apart from generally helping them to discern the "signs of the times" in 1992,1 have volunteered to give a lecture on: Why I love the Church. Watch this space.

A Polish romance

THIS is not the place for an obituary of Jan Janiurek, who died in York on April 9th, but just some memories of happier times. He was born in the same year as Pope John Paul 11 —1920. He started university studies in 1938, joined the Polish army in 1939, was next heard of in Vichy France. On orders from London he smuggled Polish officers into Spain.

In wartime Oxford there was, remarkably, a Polish faculty of Law, just as there was a Polish medical school in Edinburgh. The Oxford faculty was closed under political pressure in 1946, and Jan then read history as a member of Campion Hall, received his BA in 1949, and started at Thornton's Bookshop in the Broad.

This was where I met him in the 1950s. He was already married to Margaret Smith, a Yorkshire lass who had read geography at St Anne's (all Catholic girls went to Saint Anne's in those days). They had six children already and lived in a tiny house in Jericho.

Certainly Jan and Meg needed a stroke of luck. It came providentially as they thought. Into Thornton's came the widow of Thomas Godfrey, the bookseller in Stonegate, York, a well-established shop with a national reputation.

Mrs Godfrey had combed all the Oxford bookshops looking for the nicest assistant she could find. She settled on Jan, and offered him the post of manager of Thomas Godfrey, York. Of course he accepted, and within a year or two York got a University and he became the University bookseller. But then tragedy struck: Meg died in her thirties.

What follows is very Polish, and it comes from Jan himself. Meg appeared to him in a dream, and said the children needed a mother. She would "send" him someone who would come to the bookshop the next day. The first person who came in through the door was Sally Trench, promoting her book about life with the downand-outs. Bury Me in My Boots. They were married shortly after that, and I was at their wedding.

The fact that their marriage ended in unhappiness and that Sally wrote about it in a Sunday colour magazine cannot entirely obliterate this wonderful instance of Yorkshire/Polish romanticism.

Lamentable defections?

PAUL VI's 1967 encyclical on clerical celibacy has two headings which declare "Lamentable Detections" and "Celibacy not to Blame." He berates unfaithful priests, but having got that off his chest, he grants that some such may have "serious dispositions which give promise of their being able to live as good Christian lay people." To these the Church "sometimes grants a dispensation, thus letting love conquer sorrow." Pope Paul was at his most Christian in that simple phrase. His compassionate regulations came into force in 1971 and lasted just a decade.

In the 1930s Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini, who always felt a little lonely on Christmas day, used to visit people who were even lonelier than himself: priests who had "abandoned the ministry" with no hope of laicisation.

So on Christmas day Mgr Montini went round with his cake and bottles of wine, thus "letting love conquer sorrow." I am glad the Italian bishops have officially requested that his beatification

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