09 JULY 2020, THE TABLET George Weigel

White smoke from a Sistine Chapel chimney signals that a new pope has been chosen
Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

The biographer of John Paul II believes that Catholicism in Western Europe is moribund.

As other Christian communities with a clear sense of moral identity flourish, only a pope offering doctrinal clarity will make the faith compelling

In John 8:31-32, the Lord Jesus proclaims that those who “continue in his word” will “know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. Thus the next pope must understand that doctrine is liberating, and that Catholicism can and must be both a Christ-centred Church of doctrinal clarity and a Christ-centred Church manifesting the divine mercy. That understanding will help him, and it will help the Church he leads, to cope with a basic sociological fact about the Christian circumstance today.

There seems to be a kind of iron law built into the relationship between Christianity and modernity (and late modernity, and post-modernity, and probably whatever is coming after post-modernity): Christian communities that have a clear sense of doctrinal and moral identity can survive, even flourish, under the challenges posed by contemporary culture; Christian communities whose sense of identity becomes weak and whose boundaries become porous wither – and some die.

This iron law was first demonstrated among the various forms of liberal Protestantism around the world. The liberal Protestant denominations that began abandoning doctrinal clarity in the nineteenth century and moral clarity in the twentieth are dying – everywhere.

The part of Protestantism throughout the world that is growing is evangelical, Pentecostal, or fundamentalist. And while there are vast differences in theological sensibility and pastoral method among evangelical Protestants, Pentecostalists and Protestant fundamentalists, each of these forms of Christianity exhibits clarity of teaching and strong moral expectations.

The iron law is also applicable to world Catholicism.

There is a strong correlation between the collapse of Catholic belief and practice in Western Europe and the ongoing attempt there to make “Catholic Lite” – a Catholicism of indeterminate convictions and porous behavioural boundaries – work as a twenty-first-century pastoral method. This phenomenon is most obvious in the German-speaking lands of Europe but it is not confined there. Catholic Lite is an evangelical and pastoral failure throughout Western Europe, as it is an evangelical and pastoral failure in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

By contrast, the living, vibrant parts of the world Church in the third decade of the twenty-first century are those that have made the proclamation of the Gospel their priority; that teach the Catholic faith in full, with imagination and compassion; and that offer fallen-away Catholics, dissatisfied Protestants, and unbelievers a reformed and more satisfying way of life, rooted in friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is most obviously true of the newer local Churches of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also true of the growing end of the Church in North America. And it is true of those shoots of new Christian life that are sprouting up through the hard, secularised soil of Europe.

This basic truth of twenty-first-century Catholic life – Catholicism-in-full is attractive and compelling; Catholic Lite is moribund – also extends across a range of Catholic institutions.

It is true of parishes, dioceses, religious communities, seminaries and lay renewal movements. Perhaps the most dramatic example is found in communities of women Religious in the West. There, communities that have abandoned the religious habit and a distinctive mode of life, and whose members regularly dissent from authoritative church teaching, are dying; those that have embraced the reform of religious life mandated by the Second Vatican Council in the decree, Perfectae Caritatis, as authoritatively interpreted by Pope John Paul II in the 1996 apostolic exhortation, Vita Consecrata, are growing – even as society makes more and more opportunities for service and leadership available to women.

Lay renewal movements in the Church follow a similar pattern: those that have flourished in the past several decades embrace Catholicism-in-full.

That Catholicism-in-full attracts is also demonstrated by the remarkable fact that, in the United States, seminary recruitment has not collapsed under the pressure of the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. A young man discerning a priestly vocation today is not only considering a challenging way to live his Catholic faith, he is taking a great risk of social opprobrium. Yet across the US, twenty-first-century seminaries are populated by young men who want to embrace the Gospel in full and who are uninterested in Catholic Lite.

Catholicism-in-full does not set “Gospel” against “doctrine”. That is a Protestantising move that has done grave damage to the Christian identity and witness of many Christian communities born from the Reformations of the sixteenth century. Catholicism-in-full recognises that the basic Gospel proclamation – “Jesus is Lord” – was developed intellectually by a Spirit-led movement within the Church, which produced the Church’s creeds and its defining dogmatic statements.

Catholicism-in-full also recognises that, under the same divine inspiration, the Church’s understanding of the truths that make the Church who she is develops over time – always in continuity with what has been handed on from the past. Thus Catholicism-in-full deploys both Gospel and doctrine in evangelisation and pastoral ministry, believing that the full truth of Catholic faith is indeed liberating in the deepest meaning of human freedom.

The failures of Catholic Lite have been manifest for some time, and it takes a special kind of arrogance, or just plain stubbornness, not to face the empirical facts of the contemporary Catholic situation.

Catholic Lite may have the capacity to maintain existing Catholic institutions for a time; Catholic Lite has demonstrated no capacity to grow those institutions or, more importantly, to transform them into platforms for evangelisation and mission.

This suggests that, in the not-too-distant future, Catholic Lite will lead to “Catholic Zero”, or something that looks remarkably similar to Catholic Zero – a Catholicism that has lost any serious capacity for either mission or public witness.

Examples of this can be found in both Europe and North America, in once-vibrant Catholic cultures and societies such as those in Quebec, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. These societies are now aptly described as “post-Christian”. And in several cases, “post-Christian” is rapidly decaying into “anti-Christian”, with the Church incapable of mounting any defence of the innocent against the culture of death, or of responding to the anti-Christian propaganda in politics, culture and the media that seeks to drive the Church out of public life.

To repeat and sum up: there is no example, anywhere in the world, of Catholic Lite delivering on its promise of “relevance”. Where Catholic Lite has infected local Churches, evangelical fervour has diminished and so has the Catholic capacity to shape humane societies. These situations are sometimes described, and by high-ranking churchmen, as a “pastoral emergency” for which more and lighter Catholic Lite is prescribed.

The iron law of Christianity and modernity suggests an alternative diagnosis and prescription. The “emergency” is a collapse of deep faith that Jesus is Lord, which has led to a failure to proclaim the Gospel. The remedy is a vibrant Catholicism-in-full offering friendship with Jesus Christ and incorporation into the communion of his friends as a pathway to human happiness, fulfilment – and salvation. The next pope must know these truths and lead the Church in light of them.

Caricatures to the contrary notwithstanding, Catholicism-in-full is not a revival of Jansenism or other forms of moral rigourism in the Church. The vibrant, living parts of the world Church are not those reserving the handclasp of fellowship to the already perfected. The living parts of the world Church are those that offer friendship with Jesus Christ to those caught in the worship of false gods, be those the gods that terrify indigenous peoples or, in the West, the false god of the imperial autonomous Self – the false god “Me”.

The living parts of the world Church are those that offer mercy as well as truth, while recognising that the most merciful thing a Christian can do for suffering or lost souls is to offer them the truth: that, in Jesus Christ, we meet the face of the merciful Father and the truth about ourselves – the Father who welcomes the prodigals home when they acknowledge that they have squandered their human dignity, and the truth that that dignity is magnified in Christ.

When a pope manifests the power of divine mercy in his own life, he empowers the people of the Church to be agents of that mercy in the world.

The next pope must live and teach in such a way that the relationship between mercy and truth is clear, and he must live and teach in such a way that mercy (which the world often confuses with therapeutic forgetfulness) does not devolve into sentimentality. The divine mercy is purifying as well as comforting, and what can seem comforting will not be truly comforting over time if it is detached from purification.

Growth into the Christian life is a lifelong process for all. The lesson involves both truth and mercy. Catholics learn that lesson from the lives of the saints, beginning with Peter himself. The next pope must teach that lesson to a Church sometimes confused about the intimate relationship between mercy and truth and should display the meaning of the lesson in his own self-emptying witness to Christ.

Adapted and excerpted from The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, published this week by Ignatius Press.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His books include Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.


Weigel is proposing a return to CATHOLICISM IN FULL to to turn around the great decline in world Catholicism.


Is it the reinstatement of Limbo into which unbaptised babies are flung?

Is it the reinstatement of churching the mother of a new born baby before she is worthy of receiving Holy Communion.

Is it a return to the Magdalen Laundry concentration camps for girls pregnant outside marriage?

Is it a return to church run institutions where children were abused sexually, physically and mentally by priests, brothers and nuns?

Is it a return to convents where wealthy entrants bringing a dowry were choir sisters and poorer women became “lay sisters” who were the slaves of the choir sisters?

Is it a return to a church that was mates with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc?

Is it a return to a church where Irish peasants knelt in puddles on the road when the priest went by on his horse?

Is it a return to a church that dominated the state and outlawed divorce and contraception?

Is it a return to a church that told us it was a mortal sin to enter a Protestant church?

I dont believe for one minute that a church of that kind would save Christian Catholicism.

The RCC will be renewed when it returns to the model of the early New Testament church – when it was not part of the establishment and before it became an empire.

And it’s not about NUMBERS.

Better to have 1000 true Christian Catholics than 1.3 billion nominal ones.

Catholicism full was the bad old days.

No sane person wants back there.


Totally agree with your comment, Pat.
Weigel is proposing the restoration of Roman Catholic monolithism: a sociological configuration of laity to the feet, in humble submission, of an authoritative ruling elite, the clergy, especially its episcopate. Shades of Pius X’s ‘Vehementir Nos here’, that it ‘is the duty of the laity to allow themselves to be led’ (by clergy, of course). Poor George’s proposal is as impractical as it is unrealistic. The laity are not dogs made to trot, submissively, at the heels of their clerical masters, principally because Jesus never intended a priesthood, especially one that was a ruling elite.


@11.59pm The same goes for Mournful Maggie. A self proclaimed atheist but can’t keep out of talking about Catholic Church matters. Buckley is obsessed with it.


8:42 am

When catholic church matters concerns abuse corruption and criminality, it becomes a societal matter.Duh!


Mouurnful is a troll. As a Catholic I wouldn’t spend my day trolling around athiest or Protestant blogs, telling them they are wrong.


The flipside of the bumptious ultracrepidarianism from MMM and others that’s rife on this blog is the silence in the face of rank ignorance of so many genuine experts here.


Thank you @ 10:21 for a very apposite observation.
Perhaps some, like at 8:42 & 8:43 would prefer that their RCC affairs were not commented on, and left to the clerical caste’s cocooned utterances?
As an older person with plenty of spare time, I enjoy following and contributing to several blog sites which interest me, like nature, politics and sport. I have to say that on no other blog do I see anything like the vicious narrow minded aggressive comments one finds on this one. Does it reveal something about the effects of religion on certain personalities?
I certainly think so.


10.56, apart from being pretentious, your post is ambiguous. Look first to your own ignorance by understanding the importance of correctly applied punctuation to avoid such ambiguity.

Instead of ‘…is the silence in the face of rank ignorance of so many genuine experts here’, you should have stated: ‘…is the silence, in the face of rank ignorance, of so many genuine experts here.’ 😄


He hit a nerve in you, didn’t he Harry? Hence your attempt at distraction from the subject of today’s blog.


I agree with Bishop Pat on this one. When I started reading this I thought it was FROM Bishop Pat. What is Catholicism in Full ?? Saying one thing…being another ? True…excess loose secularized non values in Church life and morality will create another batch of very liberal problems….the John Paul II way of Doctrine and Corrupt Religous Community cults with buried abuse is no bargain at all and no solution.
It’s time for Gospel teachings, Modern Objective Science and not politically driven,
Lessons learned from lived recent history and some political functioning realities discovered say……. during the enlightenment.


Rome does not equate to Catholic. Weigel is shallow and deceptive. Jesus asked us to carry one another’s burdens, which in Holy Spirit are light, not the baggage of the institution that eagerly bought into Kinsey’s ontology in the U.S. hierarchy in the 1940s and has sold out to Teilhardian codswallop.


Pope John Paul II was the epitome of ‘Catholicism lite’ and Weigel is his admirer ! Pius XII was aristocratic, austere in his private life, intellectual, John XXIII was a diplomat, gregarious, pious but with a sense that modernism would be good for everyone else, Paul VI was more like Pius XII but convinced that the Church becoming humanist would secure its future. John Paul II perfected the new Catholicism it’s not exactly ecumenical ( Unity of Christians ) but tried to use his personality to keep the train on some sort of track,now he has vanished from the Catholic imagination too folksy and conservative at the same time. He prompted the false idea that the Church is ‘counter cultural’ so it’s neither it’s own perfect society or reading the signs of a secular anti religion world. Benedict XVI was sincere and crafty at the same time, interested in politics more than most, movements in liturgy appeared in a very shallow way almost Anglo Catholic dressing up rather than linked to a pre Council Theology, his resignation the ultimate tarnish on his life. Francis is exactly what he looks like, a wily Latin American Jesuit, clearly intelligent but portrays himself as a popular figure, there’s a strong sense of cronyism, his social life and connections are closer to a modern day renaissance court, enjoys being the Pope, his words tend towards to criticism but they are ignored. He doesn’t support married priests his Amazon project is the ordaining of leaders in tribes or ‘Shaman’ to have a synchronistic religion for what reason no one knows?


Thanks for sharing your rather peculiar analysis of a variety of phenomena.

Ratzinger’s resignation will be his greatest legacy.

Bergoglio and Renaissance court connection is nonsense. He lived in an apartment and cooked for himself as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Presumably you mean syncretistic.


Good Morning Bishop Pat.
There’s a link between what you’ve written here and what some of us talked about yesterday, for don’t Catholicism Full and Catholicism Lite remind you of the distinction between the yeasts of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Either version firmly proclaims the eternal truth of Sacred Scripture AS IT WAS AUTHORATITIVELY DEFINED BY SOME, often ambiguous, VATICAN DOCUMENT, of Vatican II or more recently.


Good point JL, the combination of increased intensity and increased vacuity (into which creeps and crawlers could and did creep and crawl) is, through its varied knock-on effects, what has upset all our nerves I think. The latter wouldn’t have mattered much without the intensity JP II brought, which is still damaging young & old folks alike. Those of us gifted to take religion seriously should have learned to become agnostics quick!


Full v Lite. Sounds like the 🍺 shelf in Morrisons. The word Catholic has become stereotyped like the Church on the Simpsons. Think Jesus and see what happens


Fly where do the origins of Anglicanism come from – the shelf from the local Aldi perhaps. Perhaps I should direct your question to Lambeth Palace.


1.37, D.I.Y. doctrine for Anglicans? Oh, my! I hear the sound of breaking glass, and it’s your glasshouse that’s breaking.
What of RC D.I.Y. doctrine? Yes, it’s there; has been for centuries. And we had a huge slice of it back in 2018, when Pope Francis revoked centuries of pro-death-penalty teaching.
Hmm?😕 Now what was all that about? Let’s see. YES!😃 The pope overturned almost 2000 years of makey-up (D.I.Y) doctrine on killing enemies, this time on the gallows. And he didn’t even say ‘sorry’ for misleading the shee…(I beg your pardon) Faithful on one of the twin pillars of Jesus’ own teaching: Loving one’s neighbour as onself.
I wonder how many of the faithfully misguided are now burning in Hell because of this evil, D.I.Y. doctrine?
Come to think of it, I wonder how many aborted babies would have survived had teaching on the sanctity of human life not been undermined by this makey-up doctrine?
Whadya think, Fathers?😕


Very good point, 4.24, and astutely ignored by the priest at 4.57.
I should make explicit an important, implicit point of your post: all law, including moral doctrine, has a teaching effect on those bound by it. And this effect was the growing disregard for the sanctity of human life: for the human person, body, mind, and soul.
The RCC taught its members to be cavalier about human life. And history reveals the concrete effects of this: its wanton and indiscriminate destruction on the gallows, on the battlefield, from the air, and under the sea; and not only this, but its physical and psychical violation and destruction by those with power in the Church, priests and religious, in presbyteries, in orphanages, in people’s own homes, in hotel rooms, in holiday cottages, in cars on secluded beaches, in confessionals, and even on church altars.
I suppose had I been the priest at 4.57, I, too, would have avoided facing such a shameful, ecclesial history.


Prime example of DIY doctrine can be seen tomorrow. Three Anglican bishops are being consecrated. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not consecrating. Although he’s preaching. There will be two services. One for the Bishop of St Germans and Bishop of Horsham (a woman). The other for the Bishop of Lewes (who doesn’t accept the ordination of women). Lewes and Horsham are in the diocese of Chichester, but the diocesan bishop will not be laying hands on either (although he would have been responsible for their appointments). How is that not DIY theology. Actually more twists than a corkscrew.


9.22, how is acceptance of diversity ‘DIY doctrine’? Seriously? I suggest it demonstrates an intellectual and moral maturity singularly absent in the pretend monolith, Roman Catholicism. And look where that history of intolerance and authoratarianism led the RCC: to the Crusades, through the roving murderous tribunals of the Papal Inquisition, to the splintering of the RCC in the Protestant Reformation, to its ultimate degeneration and decline in the exposure, beginning in the 20th century, of clerical sexual abuse of children.
Yeah. Acceptance of diversity, tolerance and respect of difference, sure is ‘DIY doctrine’.😕


Pat, was William Mulvihill always this bizzare and incoherent? Do you know more about him than the rest of us? Is this why you are allowing him to post so often?
Why was he ordained? He can’t post a single, lucid comment. How on earth was he able to write a single coherent essay in seminary?


I generally allow most people to comment when they wish.
This blog is about Catholicism and Bill has been around that for 30 plus years now.
He certainly has his own particular style.


8.46: Pat, Bill may have his own unique style, but, as before, he is showing signs of breakdown and it should not be facilitated so publicly on a blog of any kind. His inane and bizarre utterances are pretentious psycho babble and unintelligent nonsense. You may need to exercise caution with him.


You better keep an eye on what you allow Billy boy to post. He’s quite likely to libel someone and you will end up in jail.
I wonder how long the bromance will last if you are sharing a cell together! Where did all his antics two years ago lead with his allegations about the “abuse case” in Co Louth? The family of the lad he claimed to be championing and the priest he named and accused? That’s right – nowhere.
And let’s not forget your own “thundering outrage” and howling for Eamon Martin to “resign man!!! All hot air!
No thought of course or regard for the incalculable distress to the family concerned and the priest Mulvihill named!
The guy is clearly unhinged, reckless and dangerous. He is also an extremely nasty piece of work possessed of colossal arrogance. Always was. He will reap what he is sowing.


I am absolutely certain that LITTLECROCKOFSHIT is definitely Catholicism Heavy. He even invents new ways of being Catholic. Maniples that don’t match, worn with the wrong kind of vestment. Funny liturgical moves. Learning his lines perfectly from Church documents and regurgitating them at high pitch. All that sort of stuff. It’s like a pantomime. Well, I suppose if this Christmas season Panto isn’t possible, we could entertain ourselves by visiting Littletit’s streaming Masses and see what new antics he’s up to. “He’s behind you” ” “Oh, no he’s not”! “Oh, yes he is !”


The sins of gossip, calumny, false witness, uncharitableness and slander have not been abolished though, have they?

How do you square the sins against charity on your blog with your alleged “Christianity”?

This blog is a free for all of gossip and innuendo – not mere tittle tattle – but extremely poisonous stuff that shreds and destroys human beings. That’s the only reason it is popular with some people.

Look at what you allow that sick and gutless perv obsessed with Fr Littleton to get away with, every day, several times a day.

Even if some things are true, the public stoning of people that you facilitate is surely a grave sin against your God?

You allow anonymous people to come on your blog where they bandy about people’s’ names and engage in character assassinations. How is that Christ-like?

I am genuinely interested in your answer/explanation but, as usual, you will undoubtedly suppress the question – because you do not like it one bit when a mirror is held up to your own face, eh Pat?


What information, and about who, do you want suppressed?

This blog is the one place the RCC in Ireland and the UK where statements can be made and questions asked.

The mirror, and the light, is on the RCC.

God forbid we would calumniate an abuser of any kind.


Sad obsessive alert. Won’t you accept that certain characters on the blog capture the imagination and run and run, eg the Dean, King Puck, the Trolleybus, Fanny, Pryer, Marshall, the PP of Magherafelt, the ex-PP of Pomeroy, Fr Mulhall, Brian Darcy, Amy, Elsie, Coddle, Nursey, Monty, Kitty, Annie Walker, Fr McCamley, Horney Andy, Gorgeous, Rory, JPL and attract comment, time and again. Nobody gives a flying fook about your priest only you do. It is as boring as it is deranged.


Oh, go on, lighten our day and darkness and give us an update on the more interesting ones:

1. Pryer
2. King Puck
3. Horney Andy
4. Gorgeous
5. Rory
6. JPL -is he the Power Bottom one ?

Any other ones we could take an interest in – just to divert us from the mundane for a little bit.

All gay ?! All active ?

Who is Trolleybus ?. Interesting name !


9:53 All these men sound like taken from the good and descent catholic movie about a priest’s confession suggested by a blog reader yesterday.


9:53 Update….?:
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been chatting with one of the guys you mentioned. Found him on a ‘social network’ app. *cough cough*
Location: **n***r
Last active: 30 minutes ago
Work: Yes
Race: White
Status: It’s Complicated
I am: Chaser
Looking for: Love, Dates, Friends, Significant Other, Networking, Bears, Chubs, Polar Bears, Daddy, Silver Daddy, Versatile
discreet likes profesional older clean men 40 + discreet, straight acting, briefs / boxers, suit wearing/ well dressed++++, honest & respectfulI


10.26, oh, dear! How’s your foot? I ask because you’ve shot yourself in it.
To apply the Gamaliel test reliably here, I should say it’s Traditionalism that has failed, and failed miserably, since it lags well behind the Novus Ordo.
But I’m not gloating. Really. 😉


6.40, and what is wrong with that?

Did you add the words in each sentence and then calculate from their sum total the percentages, according to your definition, of factual and self-referential statements? 56% to 44% respectively?

Such precision.

Do you suffer with OCD?

Serious question.


Ref 4.39, I owed a better attempt. It could equally be argued, that Novus Ordo (which we’ve got anyway) doesn’t equate 1-to-1 with Vat II, and none of the various traditionalisms equate 1-to-1 with non-Vat II; and moreover that while pre Vat II some of the dynamics and some of the principles were bad, roughly the same is true though details have changed.
Hence, the statement at 10.26 is not totally disproven. Even Heenan seemed puzzled what council was about, according to his memoir.
I remember being very impressed with the English Mass with a priest facing us; but I know council was about more than liturgies. For me a big heartbreak was the rejection of the many good parts of Easter People.


The meeting was Zoomed. They should have held it in public, as happened at Vat II, the synods in Rome, the meetings of the US bishops (which are broadcast live on EWTN) and even the toy Parliament in Stormont is broadcast.


Research into management shows consistently how people, good at a job, very regularly get promoted to manage others. But a whole different set of skills are then required, and while some do possess basic people management skills, many newly promoted managers simply fail to adapt, to learn quickly on the job and without extra training on the specific skills necessary, continue to make a hash of the new role.
This is the “Peter Principle”: “In many hierarchical organisations people are promoted to the level of their incompetence….and there they stick.”
I suspect Martin busies himself with minor issues he feels comfortable with handling: micro management, but is completely outfaced and out of his depth with the major macro management issues. And that’s possibly combined with a weak personality unable to handle conflict shying away from taking decisive positive action.


Keep kneeding all the dough you like, manyeen Mul-veeee-heeee-leen. Bake yourself a little poisonous loaf sure why don’t ye? 😉 We await with baited breath the next trick of your circus 🎪 🤡


The case of JPII shows that full-on as opposed to lite Catholicism is a misleading binary distinction. JPII invented not only his own bogus Theology of the Body but his own liturgy, creating a one man travelling circus focused on himself and embarrassing gestures such as kissing the ground wherever he landed. While everybody else was excited about his attracting crowds that could then be measured in millions, Archbishop Lefebvre was clear-sighted in recognising that JPII’s lamentable reign was a departure from tradition in every sense.
Then his creepy successor, Ratzinger appears to allow the restoration of tradition at least in the liturgy for those few who like that sort of thing, at the same time allowing in with no questions asked the sort of Anglicans who very much like that sort of thing. However, for the first time these characters feel they have to justify their position not simply with regard to maniples, but with regard to abortion and birth control which had never troubled them before. And then of course the elephant in the room itself: homosexuality. The first two could be regarded as women’s issues and therefore of no consequence as they themselves were generally unlikely to be troubled by child-birth; the third issue was so close to home as to be fundamental, so the only recourse was to lie through your teeth and pretend you accepted – now at any rate – the Church’s teaching – this now appears to be the position of Deacon Alex who has now “changed his mind” since he was last in Bristol.
Thirdly there is the SSPX which is not quite the monoculture it might appear. In France it is bound up with a particular view of politics and society going back to the Revolution – the Joan of Arc position. In English speaking countries it is cold, austere and imbued with Jansenism.
So of these three positions I’d suggest that only the SSPX is clear and consistent. However they too have their problems. In France I would attend their chapels, but they appear to be dismal affairs in UK and Ireland, with the possible exception of Father Sebastian Wall.
What do others think?


Excellent analysis of that showman JPII’s travelling circus. What, in the end, did that achieve, except elevating the papacy to celebrity and making it into a type of presidency and a creative office. Benedict was JPII with better tailoring.
I am sympathetic to the SSPX. What had been considered holy and the summit of the Church’s life can’t be just thrown out, like a bust mattress fly-tipped around the back of St Peter’s.
My experience of the SSPX in England was that it attracted among its attendees a fair crop of anti-semites, homeschoolers, French royalists and husbands who insisted that their wives wore mantillas and unflattering frocks, and raised 10 children.
In Ireland it was less hard-core, with a good dollop of Irish “it’ll do rightly”. In Newry there were angry young men, Real IRA supporters, fundamentally.
In both England and Ireland there was a distrust of, even hostility towards, any strangers and newcomers, as if the cause would be diluted if standards slipped by admitting anyone not fully committed.


Very interesting. I have not attended an SSPX chapel for years, but back in Father Black’s day used to go to St Joseph’s, Salterton Road, London from time to time and have to say found them very welcoming. They had a bookshop – run by a legendary woman called Susan – and very jolly café with old-fashioned treats such as warm sausage rolls in the church hall. I think things became more dour and grim when Father Morgan took over. I certainly didn’t look their type, and nobody gave me the evils for wearing T shirt and jeans.


I used to know a jolly ex-Parachute Regiment RSM who went there. When I was a sem in Rome I used to take the train to London at the end of term and I met him in the Gare du Nord during one of the numerous French rail strikes. As an innocent-looking sem he got me to carry through Dover customs the extra litre of duty-free Drambuie he bought. He was always a bit suspicious of me because I was from Northern Ireland – perhaps I judged everyone on his reaction to me. They were delighted that a Novus Ordo sem was attending the SSPX.


Some nice anecdotes about SSPX UK, which demonstrate they have become progressively more gloomy and censorious since the days of the first Superior, Father Peter Morgan, who was a cheerful old toper. I heard tell he was now an Anglican vicar in the West Country, and even has a wife. Anybody shed further light?


Back in 2008, Fr Hunwicke wrote this on his blog:
“So, if my Devon friend Fr Peter Morgan, ordained in the SSPX and latterly offering a dual ministry, one to an Anglican Papalist congregation and the other to a Tridentinist group, invited me to preach at the latter celebration, a sermon written for my BCP congregation at Broadwood Widger 20 miles to the north, would fit.”


How interesting at 4:53 and 5:05. I remember reading something much more recently but cannot recall where that Peter Morgan is still alive and kicking. If not then official C of E, he must presumably belong to some obscure breakaway group. It is rather like a world I thought had gone, memorably described in the last century by Peter Anson, and amusingly recreated in AN Wilson’s Staggers novel, “Unguarded Hours”. I doubt, however, this is the revival of the Christian West.


9.53: Another closet gay a fraud to come out but who occasionally peeps out from his lace curtains to live out his fantasies through the aforementioned icons of his fantasies!! What a sad, sad life…go and mount a horse…you idiot!


12:11… What a fabulous laugh…make a my day…🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🎀🎀🎀🎀🍒🍒😃😃😃😃😆😆😎😎😎🙂🤣🤣😂😁🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷🐴🐴🐴…the last 3 emojis are for loopy loop at 9.53:🐴🐴🐴🐴😆😆😆😆😆😅🤣🤣.


10.28: Excellent, wise and perceptive comnents. Pat should indeed halt the intrusion of Mr. Mullie, a dangerous fanatic who is threatening all before him.. He has turned into a ruthless, one man band assassin, devoid of any morality, integrity, awareness or cop on. Pat, tell him to stuff it. His meanderings are dangerous, mostly indecipherable but still off the radar…


7.23, Jesus never worked down a 19th century coal mine either, but I’m confident he could make some fairly apposite remarks about the immorality of conditions there.
One does not have to be at the fringe to be on it.
I’m sure you’ll understand.


Check your facts 8.06, Liam Lawton has been in a parish for soma years now and fits his musical commitments around parish work.


I fuck around for nobody and that verb does not pertain to copulation when it comes to ontology…./

If you want what is in de cipher able in plain site……just ask……with your IP address and name displayed…..I have it anyway …..


If I put up facts here…..and I shall stand with each of them…
Nobody, not one will be safe from impression,
Dare me………


The paintings will be the least of your worries Billy. Does pat know about your conjugal visits in Australia? Tick Tock billy. Lets publicly have it out.



Pat, I think it is advisable to remove Mr. Mulvihill from your blog. How can you possibly entertain his dangerous rantings, threats, silliness and his obvious, crazy madness. There is something unpleasant, almost voyeuristic about allowing such public falling apart and embarrassment.


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