Aristotle: Friends Essential For a Life Well-Lived…But ARE They – Really?

Comment: 

Studies show that having a good network of friends contributes to improved health, wellbeing and longevity. However, Aristotle lived and taught his philosophy prior to Christ coming into the world, so, doesn’t that make a difference?  Surely Faith and Family suffices to make us healthy and happy into old age?  I once met a young person – Edward – who said he didn’t have any friends. In further discussion, it turned out that he really meant there was nobody outside of his immediate family whom  he truly trusted.  In his case, Faith and Family seemed sufficient, or so he argued, to see him through life.  So, who’s right – Aristotle, or Edward?

English College in Rome: Supporting “Gay Culture” Is No Barrier to Ordination…

Our England Correspondent writes…

In our January 2019 (Issue #109) edition [available to download from our archives on the Newsletter page of our website),  and on this blog here, we published an email exchange between the Editor and an un-named seminarian at the Venerable English College in Rome (VEC) on the subject of the seminarian’s public support for “the gay culture” on social media outlets.  

Editor wrote to him expressing concern for the screen shots [and other material] she’d received from a concerned English reader, showing him, for example, ‘liking’ a “gay” club in Bristol on Facebook. The club’s blasphemous name is ‘OMG’ – a common abbreviation for Oh My God – with the ‘g’ showing horns and a halo above…demonic. The seminarian also advertised the fact that he was on a [gay] “Pride” committee, while on Twitter he appears to support “gay marriage”.

Initially, he replied to say that he now accepted the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. At around the same time, a veritable tsunami of homosexual scandals involving homosexually active seminarians, priests and bishops hit the headlines [click here] and even Pope Francis was quoted as saying, behind closed doors to the Italian Bishops gathered for their plenary assembly, that it was necessary to “put the brakes” on “welcoming too many homosexuals” into seminaries. 

Editor, therefore, wrote to the English seminarian again, quoting the Vatican Instruction ‘Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders’. She highlighted the following key part of that document: The Church cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders, those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture. [Emphasis added]

Editor now asked the seminarian to reconsider his position, promising to maintain anonymity at that time – hoping that he would realise that proceeding to ordination was the wrong thing to do. When he failed to reply to that request, she wrote to the authorities in the VEC: Monsignor Philip Whitmore, Archdiocese of Westminster, seminary rector; Fr John Flynn, Diocese of Salford, vice-rector; Fr John Metcalfe, Diocese of Hallam, Pastoral Director; Fr James McAuley, Diocese of Portsmouth, Academic Tutor; Fr Anthony Doe, Archdiocese of Westminster, Spiritual Director. This, in order to make sure that they were aware of the line of communication with the seminarian, and to remind them of the Church’s criteria for the discernment of vocations with regards to varying levels of homosexual tendency. No replies were received from any of those concerned. The seminarian – Alexander Balzanella – was later ordained deacon, and is now proceeding towards ordination to the priesthood…

From the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster – 30/08/2019

Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia ordained Alexander Balzanella to the diaconate on Sunday 14th July at the Church of Our Lady of Snows Chapel in Villa Palazolla, just outside Rome. Alex is a Westminster seminarian studying at the Venerable English College (VEC) in Rome…(Rome ordination for Deacon Alex, published on the website of the Diocese of Westminster).  

Of course, homosexual priests, or those who support “the gay culture” are no longer making headline news anywhere, apparently welcomed as such by hierarchy and laity alike. However, we believe that, in the interests of transparency, for the sake of those few remaining Catholics who seek to avoid such influences over themselves and their children, we are now duty-bound to reveal the identity of the seminarian-now-deacon whom we reported back in 2019 for his public support of the “gay culture”. For senior churchmen, keeping the rules these days seems restricted to keeping the “Covid-19” rules – not the Church’s rules on admission to seminaries and certainly not the rules put in place by God – the Ten Commandments, the moral law.

Contrary, therefore, to what our enemies will claim, identifying this new deacon will not be to his detriment at all. If anything, we can look forward to writing a few lines of introduction to the new Bishop, if not Cardinal, Balzanella. Reflect…   Taken from Catholic Truth newsletter, July 2020, Issue No. 118, p.12

Comment from Editor…

As linked in the introduction above, we previously discussed this scandal in November, 2018 here

At that time, I asked bloggers to refrain from speculating as to the identity of the then seminarian, now deacon.  In this conversation, I would ask that the House rule prohibiting personal remarks be honoured, and that we all stick to the key issue which is the flouting, by bishops and senior seminary staff, of the Church’s directive on admission to seminaries: they are expected to  refuse admission to anyone who supports the so-called “gay culture. (Vatican). 

Alexander Balzanella supported the “gay culture” during his seminary training at the Venerable English College in Rome.  If his superiors did not know about this, which is unlikely, it was drawn to their attention through the Catholic Truth correspondence.  Yet, in defiance of the Church’s prohibition on admitting to seminary and to Holy Orders those known to support the “gay culture”, he was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Westminster. 

Manifestly, the hierarchy in Westminster (and the senior seminary staff) do not think it matters whether they ordain deacons and priests who support the “gay culture” (“Pride” events, nightclubs, “gay marriage”, whatever). 

Given the above email exchanges in the Case of Alexander Balzanella Vs the Church’s Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies…  it seems clear that no lessons at all have been learned from previous scandals in seminaries, such as those documented in the book Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose, or following the defrocking of the American Cardinal [now Mr] McCarrick in the USA. 

Instead, the homosexualisation of the priesthood continues apace. But, does it really matter?  Is it wrong to highlight the issue?  Would you want to know if your priest/deacon had a history of supporting the “gay culture”? Last but by no means least, would you want to know if your bishop ignored the Church’s criteria for seminary admission and ordination?  

Exorcist: Streets of London Full of Demons… But is Scotland Satan-Free?

From the National Catholic Register…

On a sunlit autumn day, outside a church in central London, there stands a figure — by his dress unmistakably a Catholic priest. This priest, Father Jeremy Davies, is also an exorcist. He is at the church door awaiting someone, due to arrive shortly, in need of his ministry.

National Catholic Register Continues…

The matter-of-fact and calm manner of Father Davies belies the fact that this is a man on the front line of an ancient and ongoing spiritual battle. It is one carried out by him behind closed doors in a London church on an apparently mundane weekday afternoon. Yet within those church walls the power of the Holy Name releases people from the influence of evil, frees the oppressed from wicked spirits and, in the more extreme cases, casts out demons from the possessed.

Seemingly unperturbed by the evil that he combats, Father Davies states simply: “If God asks us to do a work, then he will protect us.” Since being ordained in 1974, this priest’s primary concern has always been, rather than his own well-being, the spiritual well-being of those who seek his help; and since 1987, that concern for others included their desire to be rid of Satanic oppression. No doubt, the concern he feels about his current “cases” is similar to that he experienced when he was working as a doctor. His desire then was to cure patients of physical illness; now, it is to rid his current patients of something even more deadly.

Since the late 1970s Father Davies has been exercising the ministry of deliverance and exorcism in the Westminster Diocese. In 2019, such is the demand for his services that he exercises that ministry every week at a central London church. He agreed to speak to the Register Oct. 9.

Portrait of an Exorcist

At one time, Father Davies was one of the few exorcists in London; now, he is one of a number. It was in 1987 that the then cardinal-archbishop of Westminster, Basil Hume, asked him to become the exorcist for the diocese. Although Father Davies had at the time only limited experience of the work to be undertaken, without hesitation, he accepted his new ministry.

In some ways he was a perfect candidate. Before becoming a priest, Father Davies had trained as a medical doctor. After qualifying to practice medicine in 1968, he had practiced in remote parts of Africa, where he had encountered strange disturbances in his patients. Following his ordination in 1974, he worked as a priest in central London. Here, he encountered behaviour just as disturbed in the souls entrusted to him as he had in his former patients in Africa. Father Davies remembers “all sorts” of people coming to his presbytery, some of whom he says were “possessed or troubled.” His work as a parish priest proved an introduction to a world that is now central to his priestly ministry.

Today, he no longer runs a parish. Instead, his time is largely taken up with his work as an exorcist. An octogenarian, mentally alert and still in good health, Father Davies focuses upon his work with an air of pervading calm. In fact, his demeanor still has aspects of the “bedside manner” of any good doctor. In short, he is a skilled listener and observer.

Satan Is Real

As Father Davies awaits another troubled soul, he reflects on the recent comments allegedly made by the Jesuit superior general, Father Arturo Sosa, that, seemingly, he no longer believes that Satan exists. Father Davies shakes his head: “It’s fatal to faith and salvation to disbelieve a part of Revelation. Every part of Revelation is important and essential. Belief in Satan as a fallen angel — indeed, as the leader of the fallen angels — is an essential part of divine Revelation.”

Father Davies said that such a view as that attributed to Father Sosa is “totally against the word of God and the Catholic faith. It shows just what depths people can sink to on the path of modernism.” He paused and then added: “If he really said this, he has put himself outside the communion of the Church.” Standing in the sunshine while awaiting a soul desperately in need of deliverance ministry, Father Davies added, “I would ask him [Father Sosa] how on earth he had come to this belief.”

Father Davies was speaking to the Register just weeks before Halloween. London shops are full of paraphernalia associated with that festival. Father Davies is clear that there are two major perils associated with Halloween, both equally dangerous: “They [those who ‘celebrate’ Halloween] begin by playing games, but it can lead to people disbelieving in the devil and evil spirits, and this, in turn, can lead to a loss of the Christian faith.”
He pointed out that a “levity about such matters was fatal; playing with evil under the pretext of it being untrue is to allow evil to enter.” But evil can also enter, he explains, where there exists an unhealthy interest in the occult, leading to “an intrusion of demonic influence” through a growing fascination with it. Whichever way evil gains entry, Father Davies is clear that any dabbling in the occult “doesn’t have to be deep to be deadly.” He explained that any “tolerance of occult practices is part of a terrible deception” stemming from its source, namely, the Father of Lies. There is no such thing as a “gradation” in these matters, according to the exorcist priest. All such activity he sees as sinful, and, as with any sin, it is a means by which a soul is removed ever further from the love of God.

Gateway of Sin

It is not just the occult that is a gateway for the entry of evil into the lives of those unfortunate enough to experience it, though. Father Davies cites other ways in which evil can enter and linger, ultimately destroying the soul. He said that this can occur by means of “every sin, but sins particularly bound up with the preternatural and with grave sin — such as abortion and pornography — and anything against our created nature, including in the realm of sexual morality.”
Interestingly, Father Davies still sees potential opportunities for good in the fact that Halloween has gained an ever-higher profile year by year. “Halloween is a good opportunity,” he suggests, “to teach the faith and help all of us — especially children — to understand the reality of evil and the truth of Christ and his Church.” It is the occasion, he feels, to “teach against” the festival using the word of God and the “clear teaching of the Church.” This now-omnipresent paganized holiday is the moment, he says, “to warn the world not just to avoid Halloween; it is also an opportunity to tell people about Christ.”

Illusion and Reality

Exorcists have been the stuff of media fantasy since the 1970s. The 1973 film The Exorcist was a worldwide box-office smash and established a cinematic sub-genre devoted to the subject as well as a hackneyed template for any related plot. Needless to say, most of these films concerning exorcisms have been inaccurate, sensational and wholly forgettable. But there is nothing about Father Davies that is remotely sensational or that appears out of the ordinary — as, without a glance, people pass by him on a busy London street.

Father Davies began his ministry as one of only a very few exorcists in London, and, then, there was little contact among those priests. But over the intervening three decades, this has changed. Over the years, as his ministry has grown, so too has communication between the British and the worldwide network of priests who are charged with this work. In 1990 Father Davies, along with five other priests, including Father Gabriele Amorth, founded the International Association of Catholic Exorcists. This organization holds an international conference every other year in Rome. In addition, the British-based exorcists also hold a national conference. Across London exorcists meet on a regular basis to coordinate their fight against the forces that spiritually oppress so many. The identities of diocesan exorcists are only revealed to those in need of their help. The work of these priests and the laypeople who assist them is largely hidden from the public view.

It is time for Father Davies to leave. His services are required.

As he gets ready to leave, I am reminded of what a holy priest, now long since dead, once said of the streets of London, namely that they were “full of demons.”

When this is put to him, Father Davies replies, “That’s true.”

And with that he pushed open the church door once more to enter into his ministry.

(The above taken from As Halloween Approaches, an Exorcist Speaks on the Reality of Satan – An interview with a London priest who battles the devilNational Catholic Register – emphases added).

Comment: 

When the family in a house in Rutherglen (Diocese of Motherwell, though outskirts of Glasgow city) was reported as experiencing “paranormal activity”,  a priest went into the home to give a “blessing”; however, the problem persisted and, as this Daily Record piece reports, the “Catholic Church failed to respond” to journalists’ enquiries.  That might have been because – as we were reliably told at the time – Scotland doesn’t have an exorcist any more, so beyond a priest saying some prayers and blessing the home, there didn’t seem a lot more the Church authorities in the diocese could do to rid the family of their unwelcome supernatural guests.   

The question for this thread has to be: should Scotland have at least one exorcist, given that the city of London hosts a meeting for the English exorcists on a regular basis…Or is it the case that Scotland is Satan-free?  Really? 

Not Me! Time For Men To Fight Back? 

Watching the blatantly false allegations being levelled against the American Judge (now Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, there is a growing awareness that many men, young and old,  live in fear of being falsely accused of sexual misconduct;  mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters  and aunts are, likewise, increasingly concerned for their sons, grandsons, husbands,  brothers and nephews.  Arguably, the damage being inflicted by the Me  Too movement is a price that is too high to pay for exposing what is often nothing more than sexual nuisance.  The claim that women should always be believed and that men, simply by virtue of being men, are obviously guilty whether formally charged and convicted or not, is contrary to elementary common sense, and, of course, natural justice. We don’t apply such illogical nonsense to any other alleged crime.

A “Not Me” movement to enable men to protest this new [lack of] standard,  is, surely, well overdue.  Take a look at the information in the video above to discover just SOME of the damning, highly relevant, facts that were withheld about Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine  Blasey Ford, in the recent U.S. Senate Hearings where she was treated like a heroine and he was metaphorically lynched.  Yet, her claims about the alleged sexual assault are about as credible as her claim to be afraid of flying, as the video above reveals – big time.  A movement where men are free to signal their disapproval of this new standard of justice – i.e. this now socially accepted INjustice –  where men are automatically believed to be guilty once accused – would be a  welcome antitode to the poisonous Me Too movement.  Or, perhaps you disagree? 

Are Catholics Naïve About The Media?

Comment:

Nobody trusts the media today – apparently opinion polls show that journalists and politicians are neck and neck in sharing the public’s dismal opinion about their integrity.  Yet, generally speaking Catholics seem to believe whatever they are told, judging by recent high profile controversies. The Catholic hierarchy generally go along with the popular view, as fed to us via the media. Is this naiveté or charity?

 

Questions: Would YOU “Ask Father”?

Our American blogger, RCA Victor, writes…

Following up on the notion that the CT blog could be a sort of cyber-parish for modern Catholics, esp. as a source of orthodox catechesis, here’s a thought:

Is there a traditional priest up your sleeve who would be willing to answer questions from readers in the form of a blog topic, every so often? You could call it “Ask Father” or something of the sort, and create a separate email for these questions so you don’t get swamped. Webmaster or someone on the CT Team could collect the questions and forward them to Father, he could supply the answers, and the Team could post them.  End. 

Editor replies...

This, and similar suggestions, are put to us from time to time.  I find the idea understandable on one level, but very puzzling on another.  Here’s why. 

It is the ordained who are causing and/or supporting/perpetuating the crisis in the Church.  

I do have to admit, however,  that, even before I became aware of the crisis, I am on record as saying to various friends that a priest is the last person I would ever approach to discuss a personal problem.  It’s a kind of instinct.  Even from the age of 11 years when enquiring about membership of the junior Legion of Mary, I was not encouraged by our curate… I later discovered that he was the Spiritual Director of the parish group!  Clericalism is still a major problem in the Church and my own sense is that, when priests are so lacking in elementary understanding of the basic lay vocation, I can’t really be confident in the sort of answers they would give in any area of doubt, whether moral, religious or spiritual. Very recently a priest pointed out to me that St Catherine of Siena could criticise popes because she had been given a special grace from God – not because she was a Confirmed Soldier of Christ. So, that was me and moi put in our respective places! Now, of course, St Catherine of Siena was a great mystic and saint with a very important and special mission from God, but there was nothing to stop God choosing a priest or bishop for the task. The fact that He chose a lay woman signals to us that everyone, men, women and children, must be active lay apostles. That priests are simply not aware of that fact themselves, which is why it is seldom, if ever, a topic for preaching,  does not fill me with confidence that their answers to key questions and advice would be solidly reliable. 

The priestly vocation is to dispense the sacraments and preach the Faith.  From time to time, we’ve had priest contributors to this blog as part of their duty to “preach the Faith” but they tend not to stay the course. Perseverance in the work of the lay apostolate is not a widespread virtue.  The other day I was searching for a comment among very old blog topics and was astonished at the names of bloggers I’d totally forgotten.   They come and they go, priests included.  And I have to say that of the several priests who have blogged here, none have been “traditionalists” …  Indeed, when I asked one “traditionalist” priest if he reads our blog he replied in the negative, all the while assuring me that he supported what we are doing. Truly, you couldn’t make it up. Who was it said: “the blog has been betrayed, even by those who should have contributed to it?” 

So, in terms of “orthodox catechesis”, I would expect “traditional” priests to participate in our discussions and since they don’t, I lack confidence in their willingness to commit to the kind of role which RCA Victor (and others before him) suggest. And as for addressing individual concerns? Well…

I don’t see priests as problem-solvers; even “traditionalist” and “traditional leaning” priests don’t always get it right, and might do a great deal of damage with their “advice”. I remember some years ago, when my mother was elderly and with mobility issues, so that I was reluctant to leave her for any length of time in case she fell,  a priest made a comment about my spasmodic attendance at his weekday Masses. I did try to attend when I could but that entailed recruiting a  “mother-sitter” and although my siblings were happy to help when they could, they were in full time employment and had their own work and family commitments. They were already committed to staying with my mother on Sundays and Holy Days, to let me get to Mass.  When the subject next arose and I “asked Father” if he thought attending a weekday Mass took precedence over my duty to my mother, he replied, slowly… “Yes …I think so”.  Wrong!  For me to abandon my sick mother in order to attend a weekday Mass would have been sinful, not virtuous.  So, recommending priests to those seeking sound spiritual, religious and moral advice, is something of a daunting task these days. 

As things stand, when I do, occasionally, receive emails from people asking me to recommend a priest, I suggest one of the SSPX-affiliated priests, who has given me permission to distribute his contact details to anyone who asks.  This priest offers personal retreats for people on a one-to-one basis, in a beautiful setting, on the Scottish island of Stronsay, and I am always happy to email his details to anyone who wishes to contact him. 

However, if I “asked [any] Father” you care to name, to take on the role of a Catholic Truth Agony Uncle as outlined by our zealous RCA Victor I can say without fear of contraception contradiction, that he would decline the job.  Even with a six figure salary (£000.000) 😀

Of course, if YOU are a priest reading this who would relish the role – feel free to say so loud and clear. Your appointment begins with immediate effect! 

Cult of Facebook Versus Catholic Faith?

I regularly hear parental concerns about the dangerously intrusive and addictive nature of Facebook, and, indeed, social media generally.  I’ve heard a variety of opinions expressed and examples given of the harm it can do to family life, but the most shocking remark came from a teenager (from a good Catholic family) who intimated that it would be easier to give up his Catholic Faith than Facebook .  Below,  a short televised conversation on the addictive nature of social media…

Comment:

There’s lots of research available on this subject, but the articles tend to be lengthy and usually end with the observation that, in moderation, social media is OK – having just detailed plenty of evidence to demonstrate how addictive it all is, and thus “moderation” is not the norm.  So, our question for discussion here really focuses on whether Catholic parents who are Facebook (and/or Twitter)  addicts themselves, need to re-think their devotion to social media and consider the damage they may be doing to their offspring. It may take years to manifest itself, but is it, in your experience, adding to the quality of your family life or having a detrimental effect on your family relationships?   Some parents, such as some home-schoolers, are finding that their children say they feel deprived because they’re not on Facebook and so are missing out on life online.   Are such parents really guilty of neglect? SHOULD they conform to the new types of “relationships” by signing up – or allowing their children to sign up – for Facebook? Or is the current fashion of permitting or encouraging children to sign up for social media actually a form of child abuse?  Does it really have to be ‘Facebook Versus Faith’?