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Mattheo Ricci Centre Website (Life, times,
Matteo Ricci’s legacy: a loving patience
Yves Camus SJ
400 years ago today, Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci died in Beijing. One of the
pioneers of the Jesuit mission to China, he remains a greatly respected figure
for the Church and for the Chinese people. As Thinking Faith marks his
anniversary this month, Yves
SJ introduces us to the man who has been called ‘the most outstanding cultural
mediator between China and the West of all time’.
On the day of Matteo Ricci’s death, following a short illness, in Beijing on 11
May 1610, the Jesuits of his community gathered around his bed. One of them
asked him if he realised that he was about to abandon his fellow members of the
Society when they were in so great a need of his assistance. ‘I leave you,’ he
said, ‘at a door open to great merits, yet not without many perils and labours.’
And, as if it were he laying them to rest, he closed his eyes and very softly
went to sleep in the Lord. He was only 58 years old and had been Superior of the
whole of the Chinese Mission since 1597.
What was the door he left open? What perils and labours had he foreseen? Only by
placing his intellectual formation in its historical context can we answer these
After graduating from the Jesuit secondary school established in Macerata,
Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was sent to study Law at La Sapienza University of Rome
by his father, Giovanni Battista, who wanted to secure a better future for his
son. But he had not foreseen that Matteo had another idea in mind, and in 1571
he entered the novitiate of the fairly new Society of Jesus, established in
1540, to begin his Jesuit formation. The following years were to be very
important in shaping his future, thanks to the men under whose influence he
received his formation.
The first of these was Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606), his elder by 13 years,
and master of novices. The two men would meet again in Asia when Valignano, in
1573, was sent as Visitor of missions to the Indies. The nomination of a
Neapolitan to supervise Portuguese-dominated Asia would have been seen as quite
controversial at that time. Not only Valignano’s nationality, but his apostolic
policies of inculturation would later lead to many conflicts in the field. Ricci
must have benefited enormously from conversing with him for two years!
Then, from 1572, Ricci was under the guidance of at least two remarkable Jesuits
at the Roman College. One was Christopher Clavius (1538-1612) from Germany, a
mathematician and astronomer who was the leading figure in the reform of the
modern Gregorian calendar. He was one of the main authorities in European
astronomy, and would continue to influence astronomical education for over fifty
years through his textbooks, which were used all over Europe and relied on by
Then there was Roberto Bellarmino (1542-1621), an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal
of the Catholic Church, whose teaching on dogmatics, his pedagogy on
controversies and his redaction of a new catechism made him one of the most
influential cardinals of the Catholic Church of that period. Matteo Ricci was
extremely fortunate to be guided in his Jesuit formation by these three mentors.
In 1577, aged 25, with many other young Jesuits, he applied and was accepted to
be sent to the Indies; he reached Goa one year later. There he had to put his
formation into practice in unfamiliar surroundings: his job for three years was
to teach ‘Humanities’, that is Latin and Greek, and he had to do so in
Portuguese (which he had learned easily in Coimbra as he had to wait for the
season when ships could sail to the East). After one final year of studying
theology, he was finally ordained priest in 1581. This ‘passage through India’
must have increased in him the awareness of a contrast between what he learned
from Valignano and what he had to do in the field. His apostolic mindset was
clearer than ever when, in 1583, Valignano called him to go to Macau. He was to
help his elder Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607), who had been struggling on two
fronts: to learn the Chinese language and, therefore, to be accepted by other
members of his community.
The global context
The reluctance of some missionaries to invest time and energy in learning the
local language to better acquaint themselves with the local people was quite
contrary to Ignatius’s spirit and Valignano’s instructions. Had not Ignatius in
many of his letters advised Jesuit missionaries: ‘Make yourselves loved by your
humility and charity, becoming all things to all men. Show that you conform, as
far as the Institute of the Society permits, to the customs of the people
there’? Or: ‘Be prepared to teach matters of faith and morals in a way that is
accommodated to those people… Without taking away from them anything in which
they are particularly interested or which they especially value, try to get them
to accept the truths of Catholicism.’ Later, he adds: ‘Although you are ever
intent on bringing them to conformity with the Catholic Church, do everything
gently, without any violence to souls long accustomed to another way of life.’
And to do so, Valignano would add, the first step is to learn the local
language, a condition sine qua non. So, what was the root of this reluctance to
It would not be far-fetched to relate it to the cultural trends of the epoch.
The ‘renaissance’ for ‘a new world’ in which Valignano and Ricci had been
formed had developed in a context of lingering conflicts.
First, there were some similarities with the Cold War period that followed World
War II: a continuing state of political conflict, military tension and economic
competition. Soon after Christopher Columbus’s initial voyage of 1492 that
included the discovery of ‘the new world’, a cold economic competition developed
around the world between Portugal and Spain. It was urgent that a treaty,
arbitrated by Pope Alexander VI, be signed in Tordesillas (1494) between the two
countries in order to prevent continual disputes from flaring up. By an
arbitrary line drawn along ‘a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde
islands (off the west coast of Africa)’, the world was divided into two zones of
trade and influence. In exchange for the economic advantages of such an
agreement, both powers would provide logistic help and military protection to
the missions (the so-called Padroado, through which the Vatican delegated to the
kings of Spain and Portugal the administration of the local Church, the
construction of churches, the nomination of pastors and bishops, etc.). But the
tensions remained vivid, for example in the previously noted appointment of
Valignano as Visitor to all Jesuit missions in the East.
Furthermore, the epoch was marked by an intense ‘cultural revolution’ that
touched upon the place of humankind in the universe. Faith and science were
locked in heated debates over the theory of Miko?aj Kopernik (1473-1543),
expressed in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (‘On the Revolutions
of the Celestial Spheres’), published just before his death. The case of Galileo
Galilei (1564-1642), whose observations supported the Copernican theory of
heliocentrism, reached its climax in early 1615 when he was denounced to the
Last but not least, the long Council of Trent had lasted for eighteen years
(1545-1563); but it had yet bear to bear fruit. Its reforms had just begun to be
implemented. In such a context of moving landmarks, not a few far away
missionaries chose to look for safe ground, and not to seek any local
All this considered, when Valignano dispatched Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci
to China to try to establish a residence near Macau, they opened, intellectually
and spiritually speaking, ‘a door ... to great merits’ that had not been opened
before in this tense, intense and bellicose global context.
‘A door to great merits’
At 30 years of age, Ricci had received a long formation in Europe. He was to
spend the second part of his life mainly in southern China, in different places
along his journey towards the capital, Peking, which he reached in January 1601,
only nine years before his death. Allowed to reside in the imperial city, he had
hoped to be admitted to an audience with the Emperor Wan Li (1573-1620), who
never granted it. His purpose was only to ask for the permission to present the
Christian faith in China. Yet through his friendly contacts with many officials,
men of letters, doctoral candidates, scholars, Buddhist monks, mandarins, he was
able to engage in serious conversations, leading some of them to receive baptism
in the Catholic faith. His mastery of the language and of its script (in 1588,
he had already compiled what was to be the first Portuguese-Chinese dictionary,
followed by a second similar work ten years later); his technically trained
prodigious memory (he had learned by heart The Four Books attributed to
Confucius and was able to quote them freely); his publications (his Treatise on
Friendship , included later in the Imperial Encyclopaedia; The True
Meaning of the Lord of Heaven , a catechism in the form of a dialogue with
a Buddhist monk, among several others); his interest in music (Ricci gave the
emperor a clavichord as a present and composed eight songs in Chinese which he
sang in the presence of the court in 1601); the training he had received in
cartography (there was a third reprint of his famous Map of the World ),
in mathematics (at that time in Europe, it was considered as the language
through which the Creator expressed himself in the creation of the world, hence
the important decision to translate the first six books of Euclid’s Elements, in
collaboration with his friend, Xu Guangqi ) and in astronomy (Ricci was
able to describe Chinese astronomical instruments, still preserved today, and to
understand their usage): all of these helped him to attract the attention and
progressive admiration of his listeners.
Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628) would later relate in his Histoire de l’Expédition
Chréstienne au Royaume de la Chine, that all these efforts were aimed at
‘showing to the literati of this kingdom with what diligence ours conduct their
research and on what solid foundations they establish their proofs; and through
this, they would come to understand that, in the things of the holy religion, it
was not lightly that we had decided ourselves to follow a party.’ It is due to
this twin purpose that the literati were able to assimilate ‘Western Learning’
with ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Celestial Learning’. But it is also thanks to the friendly
approach, so wisely respectful of important traditions – the veneration of
family ancestors, of the Emperor and of Confucius the Sage – that Matteo Ricci
was so well received. His successors would follow in his steps, either by
translating the Chinese Classics in foreign languages (the first Western edition
in Latin of The Analects of Confucius had to wait until 1687 to be published
with commentaries in Paris) or by adopting Chinese spiritual traditions.
At his death, the court officials and the Jesuit community obtained permission
from the Emperor, who had never met him, that he be solemnly buried in the
imperial city. Despite the later tragedy of the Boxers’ Rebellion, who
desecrated the tombs of missionaries in the Zhalan cemetery in 1900, it is
fitting that Matteo Ricci’s remains had been sown with others on the Chinese
soil, almost like precious seeds for the future…
But how can one explain that, in his peaceful death, Ricci foresaw ‘many perils
and labours’ for his successors?
History has told us how right he was.
‘Many perils and labours’
Firstly, although he had himself chosen his successor in the person of Nicolň
Longobardo (1559-1654) from Sicily, who arrived in China in 1597, for his
apostolic zeal, Ricci was well aware that the man disagreed with his
accommodating approach and respect for the Chinese traditions and values: for
Longobardo, this approach was too slow and showed too few results among ordinary
Then, there were the reactions of the literati, at the court and elsewhere,
famously analysed and presented by Jacques Gernet in his book China and the
Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (Cambridge University Press; 1st
It was to face the consequences of this impact that Ricci’s companions of later
ages dedicated themselves in ‘many studious labours’ for nearly two hundred
years to historical research, linguistic compilations of dictionaries,
translations of the Chinese Classics and numerous scientific publications, until
the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773; and then beyond, after its
restoration in 1814.
But since Ricci, on his death bed, associated ‘merits, perils and labours’ in
his vision, mention must be made also of a controversy among missionaries of
diverse religious orders that would explode one hundred years after his death
and spill beyond the limits of the Chinese Empire. The Chinese Rites Controversy
was a dispute within the Church, in China and in Europe, over whether the
traditional practices of the Chinese, already mentioned, and the Chinese
appellation of God as ‘The Lord of Heaven’, were incompatible with Christian
faith or whether they could be accepted as not being idolatrous but of civil
importance in their practice. The aftermath of the controversy resulted in the
banning of much missionary activity in China, and had a devastating influence,
even after its cooling down and its conclusion in 1931.
The celebrations this year to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Matteo
Ricci – the ‘Ricci Year’ in many places, the World Expo in Shanghai – should not
be seen as the end of the story…
Even if Matteo Ricci has been, as Wolfgang Franke has written, ‘the most
outstanding cultural mediator between China and the West of all time’; or, as
Liang Shuming (1893-1988), the famous Chinese philosopher wrote: ‘Without
encountering the West, in three hundred years or in one thousand years China
would still be without electricity and without railways’, his enterprise is
certainly not yet achieved, as the current state of the world in many respects
But, in the words of Ignatius: Non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo,
divinum est – ‘Not to be daunted by the greatest enterprise, yet to invest
oneself in the smallest one, this is divine.’ Matteo Ricci lived by this loving
Yves Camus SJ, of the Macau Ricci Institue, is Editor of the Chinese-English
quarterly, Chinese Cross Currents.
 See: Gianni Criveller, “The Background of Matteo Ricci: the Shaping of his
Intellectual and Scientific Endowment”, Chinese Cross Currents, Vol. 6. No. 4,
2009, pp. 72-93.
 See Thierry Meynard, “The First Edition of the Analects of Confucius in the
West (1687)” in Chinese Cross Currents, Vol. 7, No. 2 (May 2010).
 See Michael Saso, ““In the Footsteps of Matteo Ricci”: The Legacy of Fr.
Yves Raguin, S.J.-- Asian Catholic Prayer in Buddhist and Daoist dialogue”.
 See "Jesuits’ Journeys in Chinese Studies", accessible at http://www.riccimac.org/eng/features/index.htm
Macau Ricci Institute
Robert Parsons SJ
by Joe Egerton
On 15 April 1610, Robert Parsons SJ died in Rome. Evelyn Waugh, in his great
biography of Edmund Campion, described Robert Parsons as the exemplar of the
sinister Jesuit of popular imagination. Stonyhurst ignores its founder; it
celebrates Campion day instead. For a century after his death, Parsons
remained ‘the great enemy’, the most reviled man in England. The 1913
of the Catholic Encyclopaedia summed him up thus: ‘Though his services in the
mission field, and in the education of the clergy were priceless, his
participation in politics and in clerical feuds cannot be justified except in
certain aspects.’ Seldom has an individual’s reputation been so
comprehensively trashed. The time has come for a re-appraisal.
The historical background to Parsons
Government by consent dates from the seventh century in England. By 1300, the
shires and towns sent representatives to Parliament. By 1386, Richard II was
reduced to a constitutional monarch, with Lords Commissioners (a cabinet)
running England with the support of the Commons. In 1399, Richard, having
reasserted himself, was deposed by the Lords and Commons who conferred the crown
on the Duke of Lancaster. During the early years of Henry VI, Parliament
effectively governed England. In 1459, Parliament determined the succession to
Henry VI and in 1461 Edward IV ‘toke upon him the crowne of Inglond by the
avysses of the lordys spiritual and temporalle, and by the elexyon of the
Although Edward IV diminished the power of Parliament, it was emasculated under
the Tudors. Henry VII’s is known as ‘the obedient Parliament’. In 1529, Henry
VIII summoned a Parliament that was to last until 1536 while he made himself
Supreme Head of the Church of England, requiring all to swear an oath accepting
this title and dissolving the monasteries. When a new Parliament assembled in
1536, its very organisation was altered to emphasise the royal supremacy. The
King – previously sitting with the Lords Spiritual and Temporal around him – sat
in isolation on his raised throne. The Lords Spiritual sat below a layman, the
King’s vice gerent; the Lords Temporal regardless of precedence below the chief
ministers. Meanwhile the King’s commissioners were destroying the monasteries
that had provided welfare for the people of England, leaving ‘the whole face of
the country for a century [as] that of a land recently invaded by a ruthless
Henry VIII had sought to be his own Pope but left the liturgy intact. Under
Edward VI radical change was made, only to be reversed under Mary. On 17
November 1558, Mary and Cardinal Pole died, Elizabeth ascended the throne and,
despite strong resistance from the bishops, the lower clergy and the
universities, secured a new Act of Supremacy, making her supreme governor of the
Church in England. ‘Increasingly however historians of English Christianity
speak of ...a settlement that settled very little.’
By the 1580s, the regime is reliant on its spy masters, pursuing a religious
policy at odds with the old established culture and with poverty increasingly
evident. The prosperity of one half of the nation is at the expense of the
other. There is demand for better education and a collective memory of an
effective Parliament. England is ready for a coherent, political programme based
on the beliefs of the majority of the nation. Enter Robert Parsons.
The formation of Parsons
Robert Parsons was the son of a farming family in West Somerset. His enemies
were later to claim that he was the illegitimate son of the parish priest, a
former monk who secured the young Robert a place at Taunton school. We may infer
that he was flogged savagely, because he later proposes to ban severe corporal
punishment in schools. From Taunton, Robert goes to Balliol College, Oxford in
1562 and becomes a Fellow in 1568. In 1558 at the death of Mary Tudor and
Cardinal Pole, Oxford was Catholic through and through. The Elizabethan
regime found this slow to reverse, although Parsons seems to have been more
associated with the Protestantism than his near contemporary Edmund Campion. In
1574, Parsons was forced to resign his fellowship – his enemies allege that this
was due to disreputable reasons. Journeying on the continent he met an English
Jesuit, Fr William Good, and in 1575 he became a Jesuit himself. He completed
his novitiate (including the Spiritual Exercises) and held positions of
increasing trust in Rome until 1580, when he was selected to lead the Jesuit
mission to England.
Elizabeth’s government reacted strongly to the mission, executing Edmund Campion.
After the martyrdom of Edmund Campion, Parsons became engaged in political
projects, although never to the exclusion of the spiritual. While in England he
had conceived the project of a book that would provide a guide in English to
those seeking to exercise Ignatian Spirituality, in light of persecution of
mounting ferocity that denied the possibility of guided or preached Exercises.
This led to the The Christian Directory, described by Evelyn Waugh as a book of
sturdy piety, and shamelessly plagiarised by protestants.
The political agenda
Parsons was closely involved – he always maintained with others – in writing The
Conference on the Next Succession. The title was enough to cause the Queen to
command the services of her rackmaster. The contents were even more scandalous:
monarchs did not receive their office from God but by the consent of their
subjects. These subjects could depose a monarch. When in 1601 the Earl of Essex
signalled a revolt by staging Shakespeare’s Richard II, Elizabeth shouted at her
trembling counsellors: ‘Know you not I am Richard?’ The Conference was cited at
the trial: Essex, running the line ‘they’re all at it’, accused the chief
minister Robert Cecil of having read this banned book.
Parsons was the sole author of The Memorial on the Perfect Reformation of
England. This was the first election manifesto – the Catholic agenda for a
sweeping reform of England.
Parsons believed in free elections. Serious Anglican historians today believe,
like the Victorian A F Pollard, that a 16th century free election ‘would have
returned the Pope’. So one dimension of The Memorial was institutional
reform to place the government of England in the hands of the Estates that make
up the English nation – the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons. The
Privy Counsel that met sometimes twice a day to run Elizabeth’s government, was
to be transformed into a Counsel of the Reformation, a modern cabinet with an
agenda set out in that manifesto which is The Memorial. The Commons was to be
reformed. Only the shires and populous towns were to elect MPs, and elections
were to be free. The business of the Commons was to be controlled not by the
Counsel but by a Committee of the House itself. For every major measure the
arguments for and against were to be set out – our modern idea of a Loyal
Opposition. MPs should vote by casting coloured ballots – this would destroy the
power of the Whips and their sixteenth century equivalents.
Parsons called for a massive programme of social reform of the English nation: a
good secondary school in every town; a fifty percent increase in university
places; laws to protect married women’s property; overhauling the criminal
justice system to give defendants effective rights; the establishment of credit
unions to free poor families from dependence on loan sharks. This programme was
not to be achieved by a secular state. The bishops were to have a major role in
promoting a decent society; so also were confraternities, our voluntary groups,
although informed with a strong spirituality.
To finance his reforms he proposed to tax those who had taken possession of the
abbey lands after the dissolution of the monasteries: the Cavendishes (now Dukes
of Devonshire), the Russells (Dukes of Bedford) and the Thynnes (Marquesses of
Bath). Parsons’ fiscal assault had two objectives: it would finance the
programme of educational and social reform; and it would reduce the power of the
oligarchy. This was an act of supreme real politique. As Disraeli was to
observe, in an analysis endorsed by his successor Macmillan, the entire course
of English history for three centuries was determined by the determination of
the oligarchs who had seized the abbey lands to cling to their ill gotten
gains. The monstrous rapine of Henry VIII – decried equally by Parsons and
Disraeli – was to lead to the triple curse of oligarchic government, debt based
public finance and near perpetual war with France.
Parsons thus set out a truly radical agenda of social, economic and political
reform. He proposed to fill the poor with good things and to lift up the humble
and meek. Little wonder the rich and powerful and their placemen fought to
retain their seats.
The major critique of Parsons
Parsons declared himself opposed in principle to religious toleration. He
appears to favour an English Inquisition and restoring the Heresy Acts. A
superficial reading causes us to recoil in horror. A closer reading suggests
that Parsons, working in Spain and Italy, was kicking proposals for religious
persecution into the long grass while avoiding offending the zealots of the
Parsons was very critical of the Marian counter-reformation. He rejected the
immediate introduction of any form of persecution, proposing evangelisation and
The Memorial suggests that the freely elected Parliament might at some time
consider Heresy Acts. MPs would have to listen to the arguments against and then
have a secret vote. Parsons praised the Inquisition, and promptly says it would
be necessary to decide which model of inquisition to follow – the Spanish, the
Italian, or the Roman. Raising the question ‘which model of inquisition?’ is
like asking: ‘which model of PR?’ – a sure way of ensuring that nothing is
If Parsons had advocated religious toleration in principle he would certainly
have been arrested by the Inquisition and probably burned at the stake. But he
defines toleration as a belief that religions are equally valid. As Pope John
Paul II rejected the equal validity of religions in Domine Jesu,
Parsons can properly do the same, while neatly ensuring that ‘temporary’
toleration continues indefinitely.
 1st December – the anniversary of the martyrdom.
 In 1690, eighty years after Parsons’ death, an Anglican clergyman called Gee
obtained one of very few copies of a manuscript he had left at his death and
published it under the title ‘The Jesuit’s Memorial for the Intended Reformation
of England under their first Popish Prince’. Gee declared that in publishing it
‘I am doing a greater service to the Protestant interest against Popery than
anything I was able to do [in the reign of James II]’. Imagine if Lord Mandelson
were to try to use a speech of Neville Chamberlain to convince the voters of the
wickedness of David Cameron! That the protestant government of 1690 should have
seen publishing Parsons as effective propaganda demonstrates the extent to which
he was the embodiment of the Catholic challenge.
 The Dooms of King Wihtred of Kent, drawn up around 695, have a preamble ‘the
notables, with the consent of all, drew up these Dooms add them to the legal
customs of the people of Kent’ (Powell and Wallis, The House of Lords in the
Middle Age (Powell), page 2. St Isidore (d. 636) states that law is created by
the assent of the people – the natu maiores (notables) and the plebs. 200
hundred years later Alfred legislates on the advice of his Witan and approval of
all. Ethelred II has gone to posterity as ‘the Unready’; he was ‘Unraed’ which
actually means ‘uncounselled’. The Conqueror made a notable addition to the
historic coronation service - the Archbishop of York asked in English if all
present would have William for their lord; ‘writes the Norman chronicler, “they
joyfully gave their assent without the least hesitation, as if, by the
inspiration of heave, they had been given one mind and one voice’.
 Apart from a mysterious reference in 1213, four knights from each shire were
summoned to the Counsel (not yet called Parliament) from each shire in
1227(Powell, p 180) In 1265 a Parliament is summoned with two knights from each
shire and two ‘lawful and good’ citizens of the cities and boroughs. At around
this time, St Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologiae, affirms the definition of
St Isidore. By 1290, we have the first clerk of the Parliaments in function if
not in name, Gilbert of Rothbury. (Powell, p. 212 ) In 1301, there is a
Parliament that makes a number of demands – including the appointment of
‘ministers by common consent’. A bill is presented to Edward I who later orders
the arrest of the man who brought it – Henry of Keighley – who perhaps should be
considered the first known Speaker of the Commons (Powell, p243).
 Powell p 505
 Powell p 563 et seq
 Disraeli’s description in Sybil of what Parsons described as ‘the monstrous
rapine’. The full passage reads: ‘It is war that created these ruins, civil war,
of all our civil wars the most inhuman, for it was waged with the unresisting.
The monasteries were taken by storm, they were sacked, gutted, battered with
warlike instruments, blown up with gunpowder; you may see the marks of the blast
against the new tower here. Never was such a plunder. The whole face of the
country for a century was that of a land recently invaded by a ruthless enemy;
it was worse than the Norman conquest; nor has England ever lost this character
 Not Angels, but Anglicans, A History of Christianity in the British Isles
page 153: the author of the essay is Canon Judith Maltby of Corpus Christi
 The two died on the same day – 17 November 1558. Cardinal Pole was the last
Catholic Chancellor until the election of Lord (Chris) Patten and had vigorously
promoted the teaching of Catholic theology: see Eamon Duffy, Fires of Faith
 See chapters 16 and 17 of Not Angels, but Anglicans
 For Disraeli, see in particular the trilogy, Coningsby, Sybil and Tancred.
There are repeated echoes of The Memorial ad in an autobiographical aside in
Coningsby, a work that is warm in its praise of the Jesuits, Disraeli claims to
have bee educated by a Jesuit, Rebello. His father Isaac D’Israeli possessed one
of the greatest private libraries in the world, containing a large collection of
writings on the Stuarts on whose reigns – and religious policy – Isaac wrote.
Isaac’s little book on James I contains a clear reference to The Conference. The
identification of Rebello with Parsons (whose works were also known to
individuals closely associated to Young England in the 1840s) is pretty safe.
For Macmillan, see The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years 1950 -1956, edited
by Peter Catterall, and in particular note 23 on page 229, quoting an entry for
5 August 1953.
James Kent Stone: the Newman of New England (Nov 10,
1840-Oct 15, 1921)
by James Likoudis
One of the greatest nineteenth-century converts to the Church was James Kent
Stone, who has been rightly called the "American Newman." The scion of a
distinguished Boston family that included many Episcopalian and Presbyterian
clerics and such luminaries as his grandfather, Chancellor Kent, the famous
author of Commentaries on American law, and his father, Dr. John F. Stone,
rector of St. Paul's Church in Boston and later professor of theology and dean
of the faculty at the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge. A brilliant
student, James Kent Stone entered Harvard University in 1855 at the age of
sixteen and also studied at the University of Gottingen in Germany before
graduating from Harvard in 1861.
With the advent of the Civil War, James Kent Stone joined the Army as a private
and quickly advanced to lieutenant, seeing action in the bloodiest battle of the
Civil War, Antietam, in which some 22,000 men were killed. Upon leaving military
service, he received a Master of Arts and then a doctorate in theology from
Harvard. Ordained a deacon and then priest in the Episcopal Church, he served as
a professor of Latin at Kenyon College in Ohio, married Cornelia Fay in 1863,
and became the happy father of two daughters. Dr. Stone became the president of
Kenyon College in 1867 (the youngest college president of the period) and soon
after, acknowledged as a brilliant scholar and speaker, accepted the position of
president of Hobart College in Geneva, New York. To his great sorrow Cornelia
died in 1869 after giving birth to their third child, Frances. His conversion to
the Catholic Church would occur soon afterwards.
became evident that his theological studies had been affected by the Oxford
Tractarian movement in England, which attempted to prove that the Church of
England and its Protestant Episcopal offshoot had retained the features of
primitive Christianity which a later "Romanism" had corrupted. His developing
"High Church" views encountered resistance in the super-Protestant "Low Church"
atmosphere of Kenyon College and led to his resignation, whereupon he was
offered the presidency of Hobart, which was High Church Anglican in ethos. In
letters to his mother (September 26 and October 6. 1869) he wrote:
I became convinced that the Catholic Church in communion with the Successor of
St. Peter was the true Church of our Blessed Savior. It came upon me all of a
sudden. One week I had not the slightest suspicion that I should ever become a
Roman Catholic, and the next (I think the time was as short, or, at any rate,
not much longer) I saw it as plain as day. I cannot explain it, and do not
attempt to explain it but consider it simply as the work of divine grace. It was
last December, when I was in Geneva and when Cornelia was apparently getting a
little better. I was not in any way under Catholic influence; the subject was
not brought in any way to my direct notice. I can only call it God's work . . .
I only wrote to you now because I knew you would hear the story from others.
What could I do? I am as sure that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church
of Our Lord Jesus Christ as I am that there is a God in heaven or that I have a
soul to be saved. I see it as plainly as I see the sun above me. You know the
history of my youth well enough to know that I was sincere and devout and that I
truly loved my Lord and Savior. The only desire I ever had for myself as to be
his minister. And now, it is love for him alone which has drawn me into his
Church. He has called me — and what can I do'? Can I refuse to go? Nay, I have
given up everything for His sake — everything — what is there which I have not
given up? I would go through it all a thousand times over, though I should die a
thousand times from sheer distress, rather than refuse to obey the Divine Voice
which calls me. I would die tomorrow, joyfully, by the most ignominious and
painful of deaths, rather than betray for a single instant the blessed faith
which is dearer to me than life and stronger than the fear of death.
Dr. Stone had read the touching appeal of Blessed Pius IX to "All Protestants
and non-Catholic Christians" for their return to Catholic unity, but he was
little affected. To his mind, he had already dealt with the "Roman question,"
and felt only pity for its author. In the words of biographer Katherine Burton
in her book No Shadow of Turning (Longmans, Green and Company, N.Y., 1944), "The
very suggestion that Romanism might after all be identical with true
Christianity was preposterous to him. Surely it was the papacy which had been
the great apostate, the mystery of iniquity, the masterpiece of Satan, which had
made its most successful attack upon the Church of God by entering and
corrupting it. The rise of the papal authority was a matter of plain history; he
had read of it himself over and over, and it was his conviction that the simple
faith of early days was now scarcely recognizable under the accumulated error of
centuries" (p. 63). He had defended the Anglican Reformation "with all his
soul." Yet one night in a mysterious experience the terrible thought came to
him, "What if the old Roman Church should be right after all?" Upon the death of
his beloved wife and torn by both personal and doctrinal anguish, he determined
to study in depth the nature of the Church Christ had established. The
resolution of all troubling questions would receive final clarification after
his entrance into the Church in his completion of a masterpiece of apologetics,
An Invitation Heeded. This impressive volume would go into seventeen printings
and prove invaluable to many other seekers of the true Church. Dismissed by one
of his Protestant detractors as the "silliest trash ever put forth," An
Invitation Heeded is perhaps the most powerful apologia for the Catholic faith
written by an American convert from Anglicanism, the spirit, style and logical
acumen of which have been rightly compared to that of the incomparable John
Henry Newman. James Kent Stone's defense and exposition of the Roman primacy of
universal jurisdiction in the Church remains of special interest today as
ecumenical studies (such as that occurring with the Catholic/Orthodox dialogue
recently concluded at Ravenna, October 8-14, 2007) have begun to focus on the
relationship between primacy and collegiality in the hierarchical structure of
In his survey of the history of the Church concerning the papacy, the "American
Newman" was to conclude:
The primacy of the See of Peter is the most prominent fact in the history of
Christianity. And it is a fact which is inseparably associated with a distinct
prophecy. Moreover, the primacy is not only professedly grounded upon the
prophecy in question, but is actually so grounded. I mean that the words of
Christ [in the famous Petrine texts of Scripture] are so substantially the
foundation of the papal power that the latter could never have existed without
the former. No intelligent student will think of denying this. Indeed, without
looking into the past at all, it is perfectly plain that, if it were not for the
divine sentences so often quoted, the pontifical claims would be wholly without
sanction, and the papacy would fall to pieces in an hour . . . Thou art a Rock;
and upon this Rock I will build My Church; and the Gates of Hell shall not
prevail against it. Stupendous prophecy! Where among all the words of God shall
its mate be found?
An Invitation Heeded was written in the interval between the author's being
received into the Catholic Church on December 8, 1869 and his ordination as a
priest. Space does not permit giving a fuller account here of his truly
remarkable life. James Kent Stone would arrange for the care and education of
his daughters as he became a Paulist priest, and then a famous and much admired
Passionist missionary known as Father Fidelis of the Cross, who helped establish
Passionist houses and churches in America and South America (Argentina, Chile,
Brazil and Cuba). He died in the arms of his daughter Frances in a visit to her
home in San Mateo, California on October 15, 1921.
Mr. James Likoudis is president emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).
His book Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism can be ordered from CUF
(800-693-2484). His other two books, The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome
and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the
Church and Eastern Orthodoxy and the See of Peter are available from the author,
P.O. Box 852, Montour Falls, N.Y. 14865. His last article in HPR appeared in
Ilya Rips, a Latvian anti-communist hero
By MARC S. ELLENBOGEN, UPI International Columnist
Published: April 27, 2009 at 12:13 PM
PRAGUE, Czech Republic, April 27 (UPI) -- Flames began to engulf the young man
at the foot of Riga's Freedom Monument. A brilliant 21-year-old student at the
University of Latvia, Ilya Rips could not sit idly by. Still in flames, Rips
held a sign, "I am protesting the occupation of Czechoslovakia." It was 40 years
ago -- on April 13, 1969 -- three months after Jan Palach had immolated himself
to protest the Soviet invasion in Prague.
I did not know who Rips was. He was saved by passersby. He has come to
I met this soft-spoken and reserved hero, now an Israeli citizen and professor
at the prestigious Holon Institute of Technology, last week at the Latvian
Embassy. Ambassador Argita Daudze had invited a small group of academics, former
dissidents and political types to a "glass of wine" in honor of Rips.
Edgars Bondars, the Latvian counselor -- whose mother-in-law had been sent to
Siberia at age 2, and I were standing with Eduard Outrata and his wife Jana. The
retired Czech senator and Czech-Canadian emigre had left Czechoslovakia in 1968
and come back after the fall of communism. A man in the garb of an Orthodox
Israeli walked in behind the ambassador. I had expected many things, but not
this. Rips was introduced, and a murmur trickled through the room.
Ilya Rips was considered a mathematical genius when he entered the University of
Latvia at 15. He had never practised Judaism. Three of his four grandparents had
been killed in the Shoah -- the Holocaust. "I wasn't exposed to Judaism until I
immigrated to Israel in 1972," Rips said to me when I interviewed him later.
The Russians identified their Jewish citizens as a national ethnic group. "Jivre"
was stamped in the passport of every Jewish Soviet citizen. Most were secular --
and that might have already been too much religion for them. During the '70s,
the Russian authorities began to let Jewish dissidents, "refuseniks," immigrate
Rips, who now bears the Hebrew name Elijahu, would emigrate with the second wave
of refuseniks in 1971, after harrowing years of a show trial, interrogations,
contrived mental examinations and forced internment in a psychiatric hospital.
"The Soviet authorities and KGB used psychiatric terror as a way to muzzle
dissent. If you could prove someone was insane, then their points of view were
irrelevant. Forced psychiatric internment had the added benefit that the 'cure'
was not restricted by time. Dissidents could be interned indefinitely."
"I was lucky," Rips said with a wry grin -- maybe even a grimace, "that I was
interned in a regular psychiatric hospital in Riga. The special ones deep in
Russia were particularly despicable -- with injections, drugs and torture. Of
course I was given pills, but I did not swallow them." The Latvians helped him.
"They had the best attitude. Even my parents and other people were permitted to
visit me." Rips said this matter-of-factly, as though it had been any normal
hospital. It certainly was not.
During the interview with Rips, noted anti-communist fighter Barbara Day was
present. She had been to a trial just a little earlier in Prague of a former
member of the StB, the Communist Secret Police in Czechoslovakia. This
interrogator had bullied a friend of hers until he was driven into exile. There
are not nearly enough prosecutions of these despicable individuals.
The former head of the Communist Secret Police in Czechoslovakia, Major-General
Alojz Lorenc -- a senior adviser to the corrupt Penta Group, the sons of former
apparatchiks -- is living fast, free and easy in Slovakia. He is entertained by
Western business groups as though nothing ever happened. It is revolting.
Only recently has the Czech government -- and it has not always been so -- given
the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague enough power and
money to be effective. For years, its forerunner was kept alive but badly funded
as an alibi. Professor Rips was a guest of the institute. He met with students
commemorating the 20 years since the fall of communism.
I had been given access to the institute's vast files a year ago. Miroslav Lehky,
a hero of the underground movement and now deputy director, had shown me around.
I had checked the files of some individuals to see if they were corrupted by the
Communist Secret Police. They were. A group of young dedicated staff are sifting
through the miles of former secret files to catalog them and put them into a
modern data bank. They discovered Rips's story.
"I was alone. People around me had similar feelings," Rips said of his reason
for immolating himself. "I had no political objectives. My mentor, Professor
Boris Plotkin, had no idea about my intentions. He was later forced out of his
position by the KGB for having been 'unsuccessful in educating me about life.' I
even wrote mathematical papers while they were trying to prove I was insane --
to show I was not. God, how naive."
Rips gives much of the credit for his release to Professor Littman Bers, whose
father lived in Riga. Bers and an organization of U.S. mathematicians pressed
the Soviets on Rips's behalf. The Soviets hated bad press. They were sensitive
to pressure. After six months of prison and 1.5 years in a mental hospital, Rips
was freed. This was extremely weak by Soviet standards.
"It was truly evil, and people must be kept aware of it," said Jana Outrata, the
retired senator's wife, whose own family was disenfranchised during communism.
Many silent heroes of the time remain anonymous to this very day.
(UPI International Columnist Marc S. Ellenbogen is chairman of the Berlin,
Copenhagen and Sydney-based Global Panel Foundation and president of the Prague
Society. A founding trustee of the Democratic Expat Leadership Council and a
member of the National Advisory Board of the U.S. Democratic Party, he has
advised political candidates.)
Mary Glowrey - Another Australian saint in the making
Australia has another saint in the making in Dr/Sr Mary Glowrey.
Mary Glowrey was born in 1887 at Birregurra in Victoria, Australia. Of Irish
descent, Mary was the third of nine children born into a loving and prayerful
family. Each night the Rosary was said and with it a prayer for priests and
doctors. Mary Glowrey, recalling that practice many years later, wrote: "When my
brother and I were respectively priest and doctor, I sincerely hoped that many
another mother added that ‘trimming’ to the Rosary."
Mary’s outstanding academic achievements earned her a University Exhibition, an
invaluable cash scholarship. Pursuing her literary interests, Mary began
studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1905. However
after a great deal of prayer and the encouragement of her father, Mary switched
over to the medical course and graduated in 1910 with a Bachelor of Medicine and
Bachelor of Surgery.
She had to complete her residency in New Zealand before returning to build her
own successful private practice in Melbourne. She also worked at St Vincent’s
Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. A chance reading of a
pamphlet about the appalling death rate amongst babies in India, and the
desperate need for medical missionaries, fundamentally changed the direction of
her life. Falling to her knees, Mary finished reading the pamphlet and knew that
God had called her to help the women and children of India. Mary, describing
this moment many years later, said: "My life’s work lay clear before me now.
It was to be medical mission work in India."
In 1916, Mary Glowrey was elected as the first General President of the newly
formed Catholic Women’s Social Guild, now known as the Catholic Women’s League
of Victoria and Wagga Wagga. Deeply concerned about the economic and social
inequities that women faced, this inspired group of young Catholics sought to
change society and protect the most vulnerable in their midst.
During this busy time, Mary also studied for a higher medical degree with a
particular emphasis on obstetrics, gynaecology and ophthalmology. She became a
Doctor of Medicine in December 1919.
On January 21, 1920, Mary left her thriving career as an Ear, Nose and Throat
Specialist. Surrendering herself completely to God’s will, Mary sailed for India
to become a medical missionary with the Congregation of the Society of Jesus,
Mary and Joseph in Guntur. Pope Benedict XV granted permission for Dr Glowrey to
practise medicine as a religious and later, Pope Pius XI bestowed a special
blessing on her medical mission work. Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, as Mary
Glowrey was then known, became the first nun-doctor missionary.
She placed the remainder of her life at the service of the medical and spiritual
needs of the people of India, as an expression of her own deeply held love for
God and for humanity. The small dispensary in Guntur grew into St Joseph’s
Hospital where Mary, for many years the lone doctor, trained local women to be
dispensers, nurses and midwives to help stem the tide of suffering. Mary often
travelled to visit the sick and dying in outlying villages, crouching down to
treat patients on the earthen floor of their small straw huts. She also studied
and made extensive use of traditional Indian medicines.
In 1943, Mary founded the Catholic Hospital Association of India which has grown
to become the largest Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in the health care
sector. Mary recognised the vital need to promote the Christian use of medicine
to counter the pervasive Culture of Death. Her vision was the establishment of a
Catholic Medical College in India in order to train professionals whose medical
care would be grounded in an understanding of the absolute inviolability of
human life and placed at the service of life.
Mary Glowrey was said to radiate Christ by word and example. The poor were the
people of her choice and incurable patients had a special place in her heart.
Mary never attempted anything without praying to the Holy Spirit, knowing that
with the help of the Holy Spirit all things are possible. For the last two years
of her life, she shouldered the Cross of excruciating physical pain brought upon
by cancer which she bore with extraordinary courage and patience.
The sisters who witnessed her apostolate of suffering have described the calm,
serene joy radiating from Mary’s face, which struck all who approached her. This
gives evidence to the truth that sanctified suffering produces real peace and
nearness to God.Sister Mary died on May 5, 1957. Her last words were: "Jesus,
Mary and Joseph" and "My Jesus, I love you."
At her Requiem Mass, the Bishop of Guntur described Mary Glowrey as a "…special
creation of God…a great soul who embraced the whole world." It was in Bangalore,
where Mary Glowrey so courageously lived the final months of her life, offering
her suffering to God for her dreams for India that St John’s Medical College was
eventually built almost a decade later.
The history of the Church reveals again and again that it is at times of
greatest crisis in culture and civilisation that women and men of faith are
raised up, in the providential mercy of God, to stand as beacons of truth. In
their very persons, they make present to us in a visible, tangible way, the true
dignity of humanity and the calling of love that is the vocation of every man,
woman and child. They reveal to us that this vocation is intrinsically linked to
our humanity, as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, and is the
authentic fulfilment of our humanity.
The person of Dr Mary Glowrey stands as one such beacon for our time, a sign of
contradiction in the midst of our prevailing culture - a woman, a brilliant
doctor, a visionary leader, a person of great holiness transformed by the power
of Jesus’ love, who in the witness of her person became a source of life for
countless thousands. Her capacity to galvanize a new generation into action in
the service of life and the protection of the weakest in our midst, retains a
freshness, a power and a potency which transcends the barriers imposed by
culture, time and history.
LAURIE SHORT: UNION LEADER
Unionist kept Labor intact
* by Paul Howes March 26, 2009
ONE OF the great figures of the Australian labour movement during the 1950s
struggle over communism, Laurie Short, has died in Sydney at 93.
Short was secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association from 1951 to 1982,
and was correctly credited with holding the ALP together in NSW at a time the
party tore itself apart in other states in a schism known as the "1950s split".
Although he was a pioneer of the idea of communism in Australia, he rejected it
and went on to become an important anti-communist union leader.
Key historians of the period argue that the FIA was able to play the important
role of keeping the party together because it was widely respected as highly
competent under Short's leadership.
Short is also credited with finding, supporting and promoting a young
Englishman, John Ducker, through the labour movement, leading him to become the
legendary strongman of the NSW union movement and the NSW Labor Party.
In turn, Ducker, with Short always nearby, steered NSW's labour movement away
from fracturing along sectarian lines that, as the result of the split, was the
hallmark of industrial and political labour in other states.
Particularly in Victoria and Queensland, the party fractured, with many
conservative Catholics splitting to form the Democratic Labor Party,
preferencing the Liberals and keeping Labor in the Federal wilderness for more
than two decades.
In 1982, when Short retired after 30 years leading the FIA, then NSW premier
Neville Wran said the union leader was responsible, probably more than anyone
else, for the fact that the Labor Party of NSW did not split in 1955..
Soon after Short took over the leadership of the union, he was able to report an
extraordinary 20 per cent growth in membership. This was largely because while
others ignored, feared or even refused to recruit the post-war migrants —
especially those from eastern Europe — Short was ready to reach out and organise
this growing non-English-speaking migrant working force.
These workers loved Short for this and were deeply loyal to him over many years.
Throughout the 1940s and early '50s, Short and his activists in the FIA were at
the centre of a bitter, tempestuous and sometimes violent struggle for control
of the union.
The struggle between communists and anti-communists was acrimonious because of
the critical role the union's numbers would play in the way the Labor Party
eventually evolved, especially in NSW.
Short, headed the anti-communist faction, which eventually wrested control of
the union from the hardline Stalinist leadership. The extraordinary legal, and
often physical, battles ensured the FIA was fodder for almost daily screaming
newspaper headlines throughout those years.
Short rejected his earlier communist ideology as the Cold War dramatically
escalated inside trade unions, when he chose to stand with those who were
fighting to maintain the values of a free, independent and democratic labour
The many academics and journalists who have documented this period have always
placed the FIA at the centre of the political agenda of the time.
Historians talk of this union struggle as having been crucial to the postwar
development of the labour movement and the postwar development of Australia's
political values. While today there is much discussion of the need for unions to
adopt a global view, the FIA can boast of being an early adopter of these ideas.
Following the tradition, created by Short, there is in Sydney this week a
meeting of 10 steelworker unions, from across the globe, working together to
discuss how we best represent our members in the face of the twin issues of
climate change and the global financial crisis.
Under Short's leadership, they were building close relations with the United
Steelworkers of America back in the 1940s, relations maintained and built upon
throughout the 1950s and then expanded to build relationships with similar
unions in Britain and Japan.
In 1993, the FIA, then known as the Federation of Industrial, Manufacturing and
Engineering Employees (FIMEE), amalgamated with the Australian Workers Union.
In today's AWU the legacy of the ironworkers is felt in every part of the
organisation. The big ironworker industries of steel, aviation, manufacturing,
aluminium and chemicals still form the bedrock of the union.
Short was married to artist Nancy Borlase. She died in 2002.
Short's father, Alexander, who he credited with exposing him to union values,
was a shearer or a shearer's cook and belonged to the Australian Workers Union
and served as a union delegate.
Short is survived by a daughter, journalist, Susanna Short, and two
Paul Howes is AWU national secretary.
Alexander Pearce, byGreg Hassall
January 19, 2009
stories in Australian history are as compelling and morally confronting
as Alexander Pearce's. In 1822 the Irish shoe thief escaped with seven
other convicts from Sarah Island, a notoriously brutal prison camp in
Van Diemen's Land, fleeing into unforgiving wilderness. Pearce emerged
alone, 49 days later, and when recaptured told how the escapees had
murdered and eaten one another to survive.
Many Australians have
heard of the so-called "Cannibal Convict" but it took an outsider to
fully appreciate the story's dramatic potential.
Nial Fulton, an
Irish producer living in Australia, stumbled across the story 10 years
ago while shooting a commercial in Pearce's home town in Ireland.
ran into a priest who handed me a book of weird Australian history -
kind of the underbelly of Australian history - and the Alexander Pearce
story was highlighted in yellow marker," the producer recalls.
by the account, he resolved then and there to bring it to the screen.
As a tale of survival and dehumanising brutality, Pearce's is hard to
beat. But what made the story irresistible for Fulton was the role of
Phillip Conolly, the priest who heard Pearce's fourth and final
In a remarkable coincidence, Conolly and Pearce came from the same small town in Ireland.
trick for me was not telling Pearce's story but telling the priest's
story," Fulton explains. "He's the first priest to come to Van Diemen's
Land to minister some sort of spiritual guidance to the worst of the
worst. He's 30 years old and he rocks into Hobart and one of the first
people he has to minister absolution to is a serial cannibal from his
In Fulton's film, Conolly and Pearce are played by
Adrian Dunbar and Ciaran McMenamin, who, in a serendipitous twist, come
from the same town in Northern Ireland. It also happens to be Fulton's
home town. This was a happy coincidence but it also highlights Fulton's
insistence on historical accuracy.
"One of the things I wasn't
willing to dilute was the authenticity of that interaction," he says.
"For me it was about getting two Irish people to play the two Irish
roles - not to have a duff Irish accent. I thought, we don't have a lot
of money but what we can do well we'll do really well."
uncompromising approach was a hallmark of the production, which looks
like it was made for many times its documentary budget.
addition to the Irish leads, it features an impressive local cast,
including Dan Wyllie, Don Hany, Bob Franklin and Chris Haywood.
I met Michael [James Rowland], the director, we kind of drew a line in
the sand and said, 'Let's not accept second best where possible - let's
just aim for the stars and see what happens,' " Fulton says. "When
you've got something that you've been passionate about for so long it's
not easy to say, 'Well, that'll do.' "
The Last Confession Of
Alexander Pearce is a confronting, exhilarating film that defies easy
categorisation. It was commissioned by the documentary departments of
the ABC, the BBC and Ireland's RTE but shot as a conventional drama.
This was partly due to a lack of archival material but it also reflects
Fulton's ambivalence about the docu-drama form with its combination of
actors and talking heads.
"My thing with documentary drama has
always been that it's not one thing or the other - it's always great
documentary, poor drama; wonderful drama, poor documentary. We've come
up with this term 'factual drama' but for me, it's just a cracking
story and I didn't have to hire people with big beards to tell me all
the difficult stuff."
The script, by Fulton and Rowland, is at
times lifted directly from Pearce's confessions. "We thought, let's not
try to embellish it, let's just take the words from these guys," Fulton
says. "It's like they've been taken straight from the King James Bible.
It's very Deadwood."
The film is set in the days leading up to
Pearce's execution as Conolly hears his confession and interacts
uncomfortably with Hobart society. These scenes bookend the escape,
which is shown in extended flashback.
Filmed on location in south-west Tasmania, the escape unfolds with a creeping sense of inevitability.
you're in the bush and stuff starts happening, my instinct was that as
soon as you pull away, you're going to lose what was imperative - the
sense of foreboding, the descent into darkness," Fulton says.
pivotal moment is when the escapees first decide to murder and eat one
of their own. The scene was shot with night-vision camera giving it a
creepy, otherworldly quality.
"What we wanted to do was give
this kind of animalistic feel to the murder," Fulton says. "That the
line had been crossed and they were no longer human. We had to give a
sense that something enormous had happened."
For the most part, however, the cannibalism is underplayed.
I wanted was that it would become monotonous," Fulton explains. "You
didn't see it but you were aware it was happening; people were chewing
on meat. It became absolutely normalised and that's where the real
horror comes in.
"Pearce becomes this elemental human being. He's stripped of all humanity and he does what he has to do to survive."
the film neither condemns nor absolves Pearce, who remained
unrepentant. It simply humanises a man generally considered beyond the
pale. Pearce is a reluctant party to the killings and only takes a life
when he has no other choice. In many respects his 49-day escape is a
remarkable story of survival.
As Fulton says: "In another context, towns and roads might have been named after him."
matters, however, is Pearce's second escape, which occurred weeks after
he was sent back to Sarah Island. Just days after fleeing with a fellow
convict, Pearce was found next to his partially eaten corpse even
though he still had plenty of provisions.
"From a storytelling
point of view, it was a nightmare," Fulton says of the second escape,
which is dealt with in the film with almost slapstick abruptness. "It
contradicts everything you've told the first time except if you look at
it purely as a man who's gone beyond humanity."
That is the
message conveyed by Conolly in the film's most powerful scene. In a
lacerating diatribe at a dinner party, the priest condemns a penal
system as broken as the men it brutalises. "He's not saying what Pearce
has done is right but he's saying we all have collective responsibility
in so much as he wasn't a monster when he walked in," Fulton says.
story clearly struck a chord with Fulton but he believes Australian
history is littered with equally compelling stories ripe for
dramatisation. "For me, Pearce is the tip of the iceberg. I think these
[documentary films] can be done really well with a lot of passion and
perhaps not much money. People will come to the party if they see
you're passionate about it."
Rev. Richard John Neuhaus dies at 72, January 8, 2009.
The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, one of the leading conservative voices in
contemporary American Catholicism, died this morning at 72. Here is the
announcement from Joseph Bottum, the editor of the journal Neuhaus founded,
"Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away, January 8, 2009, shortly before 10
o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that
sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side
effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening
after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends,
My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and
he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.
I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public
leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The
fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for
those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our
tears are wiped away.
Funeral arrangements are still being planned; information about the funeral will
be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good
Father Neuhaus was a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism in 1990. He
is probably best known for his 1984 book, "The Naked Public Square: Religion and
Democracy in America.'' He was a frequent commentator in the media about the
Catholic church; I interviewed him on multiple occasions over the years, and he
was always thoughtful, sharp, and forceful. He had been battling cancer for some
The world of Catholic and religion news bloggers, which has been anticipating
Neuhaus's death for some time, is offering a variety of tributes today:
•Gary Stern, the religion writer at the Journal News in Westchester County, NY,
writes: "Let’s be honest: Most people never heard of Neuhaus. He wasn’t really a
public figure, in the modern celebrity sense. But among those who care about
Catholic thought, the larger realm of Christian thought, the political school of
thinking that’s become known as neo-conservativism, and the role of religion in
the public square, he was really an intellectual giant."
• Jeffrey Weiss, a religion reporter at the Dallas Morning News, comments on
Father Neuhaus's ubiquity, writing, "There can scarcely be a religion reporter
who has worked over the past several decades who hasn't had occasion to talk to
the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus once or thrice. He was smart, quotable and
available -- an irresistible combination."
•Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., a staffer for the Archdiocese of Boston who blogs
about Catholicism from the right, writes, "As a sometime Catholic journalist
myself, Fr. Neuhaus was one of those I strived to emulate, but I did so only
poorly. His erudition, wit, and communication skill far surpassed that of the
rest of us. We have lost a great priest, writer, and public leader, but
hopefully we have gained an advocate in heaven."
• Michael Sean Winters, who blogs about Catholicism from the left for America
magazine, also praises Neuhaus, saying, "I remember the first time Father
Neuhaus attacked me in print: I felt on top of the world. For a left-of-center
person like me, being attacked by Father Neuhaus was a badge of honor. To gain
the notice of someone with whom you disagree is much more flattering than to
gain the praise of a mentor or an acolyte. Neuhaus’s career, beginning as a
leftie Lutheran and ending as a conservative Catholic (he passed Gary Wills
going in the opposite direction some time in the early 1970s), made him a hero
among his newly found ideological soulmates on the right: We Catholics love a
convert. But, even those of us who stayed on the left developed an admiration
for Neuhaus’s facility with the language, the self-evident sincerity of his
convictions, and the sheer prolificness of his pen. He seemed to be always
writing and whether you agreed with him or not, his writings were always worth
the read, always provocative and always written with flair. I never made Father
Neuhaus’s acquaintance personally but a mutual friend once told me that if we
were to break bread together we would soon be downing scotch and laughing with
greater intensity than we had ever argued. I suspect that is right and look
forward to a tumbler of single malt with him in the hereafter."
First Things has posted an essay on death that Father Neuhaus penned in 2000, so
Father Neuhaus, never short of an opinion, gets the final word on his own
"We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are
born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already
underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well.
Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we
typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good
death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth
and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word
“good” should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an
unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.
Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances.
What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be
denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality
rate holds steady at 100 percent.
Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands
of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is
true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian,
the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and
go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn
closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer
of children of all ages: 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul
to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.' Every
going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing."
Friend, Leader, and Man for our Seasons
Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009
January 13, 2009
John Neuhaus, who passed away last Thursday, has left a gaping hole in
the hearts of those who knew and loved him. As his close friend
and associate at the journal First Things Jody Bottum deftly observed,
his sudden departure at the age of 72 also leaves "a gaping hole in the
'The public square': if
today this is such a familiar term in Anglo parlance, it is to be
largely attributed to Neuhaus's intellectual caliber and acumen, and to
his enormously influential 1984 best-seller The Naked Public Square.
Here Neuhaus explored the simple premise that "the [U.S.
Constitution's] no-establishment provision of the first freedom of the
First Amendment is entirely in the service of the free exercise
provision." In other words: our Constitutional commitment to refrain
from establishing an official state religion was set in place precisely
to protect the free exercise of religion--in the public square.
We are likely only beginning to understand the impact that Neuhaus has
had on the Church and American culture, as arguably the leading
pro-life, conservative public intellectual of the past three decades.
As his close friend and papal biographer George Weigel puts it:
Richard John Neuhaus's work will be remembered and debated for decades.
As a Lutheran pastor, he was one of the first civil-rights activists to
identify the pro-life cause with the moral truths for which he and
others had marched in Selma... As a Catholic priest, he helped define
new patterns of theological dialogue between Catholics and
evangelicals, and between Christians and Jews. The journal he launched
in the early 1990s, First Things, quickly became, under his leadership
and inspiration, the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled
web of religion and society in the English-speaking world. All of this
suggests that Richard Neuhaus was, arguably, the most consequential
public theologian in America since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and
John Courtney Murray, S.J.
down, Neuhaus was the most consequential public intellectual of the
past three decades, literally a man of counsel to 'popes and
Presidents'. George Bush, in a brief press release, recalled the
man he would refer to simply as "Father Richard." As an informal
adviser to the 43rd president, Neuhaus, to use Bush's terms, was a man
"who devoted his life to the service of the Almighty and to the
betterment of our world." "He was also a dear friend," affirmed the
President, "and I have treasured his wise counsel and guidance."
While my heart is still troubled by its own gaping hole (I was honored
to call Richard a friend for the past 11 years), my thoughts return
again and again, however, to that "gaping hole" in the public square.
Anyone involved in the pro-life movement over the past three decades
knows that there is no replacing Richard John Neuhaus--and that is
indeed troubling. His absence points to a great need in our day:
more men and women capable of assuming cultural leadership roles in the
manner of a Father Richard Neuhaus. But again, there is no replacing
him. Rather, his figure is now left to us as a model, indeed, an ideal
of cultural leadership to pursue and emulate.
Christian public intellectuals are not born like stars in Hollywood;
their impact is not the mush of the often tacky and transitory
notoriety we are daily fed by the MSM. The genuine Christian public
intellectual appears on the scene at critical junctures in the history
of a given culture to exercise the leadership peculiar to one endowed
with genuine practical wisdom--prudence--and the ability to read and
interpret the times, offering light, insight and direction. That was
Nor is it an exaggeration to say
that Richard John Neuhaus gave shape and definition to the figure of
the specifically catholic public intellectual--even before he formally
entered the Church (an event he once described as "becoming the
Catholic I was.")
characteristic of a public intellectual is the gift of
prescience. And Richard was prescient in more ways than one. In
1967, he warned his liberal colleagues that the banner of a 'woman's
right to choose' abortion was being raised on the wrong side of the
divide between liberals and conservatives. It indeed ended up on the
liberal side, and Neuhaus ended up on the conservative side. And he was
warning of the havoc to be unleashed upon our culture by an
abortion-on-demand regime for nearly a decade before Roe vs. Wade made
it a reality.
Prescient on weighty
matters, Neuhaus was also prescient in his humanity and as an intense
man of letters. His monthly column, "The Public Square", was a genuine
well of personal enrichment for its devotees. "'The Public Square',"
read the Wall Street Journal obituary, "was laced with sarcasm,
idealism and the sheer joy of intellectual engagement." And how!
As my friend, and Tuesday columnist for the Journal's editorial page
Bret Stephens put it to me in an email, "His out-takes in First Things
were must-reading: the best blog ever, before blogging existed."
Richard was also a friend of the Westchester Institute which I direct.
His words of advice and guidance, as well as his wise questioning and
sound critiquing were always welcome and were an important part of his
contribution to our work--even though the very first time we sought out
his counsel, I made the (happy) mistake of allowing Richard to do so at
the restaurant of his choice, and over the bottle of Merlot of his
choice. (We were on a much tighter budget back in those days.)
Of course, his most important contribution to our work was his
friendship--and Richard was a true blue friend.
And finally, anyone who knew Richard will remember him for his
humor--often couched in the most subtle and piercing sarcasm and that
lovely baritone voice. I remember once, as a seminarian in Rome,
offering him a ride down to the Vatican along with two other of our
house guests at the seminary. As we were getting close to St. Peter's
and the massive cupola came into view, Richard, feigning a deep
disdain, peered through the passenger's side window and observed:
"Oh... there's that church--the church that started the Protestant
Reformation!" General merriment ensued.
church, St. Peter's basilica, was, of course, for Fr. Neuhaus but a
sign of the 'New Jerusalem' yet to come, a symbol pointing us homeward.
And now, Richard, we trust you are safely home. We count on your
prayers for us. And we thank you for that precious testament you left
us in your last column--a pledge of the man you were, the witness to
truth and hope, leader, friend, mentor and man for the seasons you
...Be assured that I neither fear to die nor refuse to
live. If it is to die, all that has been is but a slight intimation of
what is to be. If it is to live, there is much that I hope to do in the
interim... Who knew that at this point in life I would be
understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, "When I am
weak, then I am strong"? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be
pondering together the follies and splendors of the Church and the
world for years to come. But maybe not...The entirety of our prayer is
"Your will be done"--not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond
expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and
that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through
time toward home.
Rev. Thomas V. Berg, L.C. is Executive
Director of the Westchester Institute for
Ethics and the Human Person.
What a coffin can teach us: Monsignor Joseph Cusack - Edmund Campion
priests consider that the best sermon they will preach is the one they
give when they are lying, dead, in their coffin before the altar of the
parish church. A coffin poses ultimate questions: What’s
life all about? Why are we here? What does it all
mean? Like a good sermon, a coffin asks questions without easy
answers; you have to answer its questions for yourself.
Joseph Mary Cusack of Mosman parish in Sydney, Australia, was one such
priest. When the doctor told him he had only months to live
before stomach cancer killed him, he set about turning his death into a
parish event that would give his parishioners an ultimate instruction.
On the last possible Sunday, he went to each of the four parish Masses,
sat in a chair on the sanctuary and told the people about his imminent
death. Then he went back to his bed, which had been moved into
the presbytery dining room, and waited for the end. Before this, he had
already been to a printer to get memorial cards done with space left
for the actual date of his death, 16 May 1960. Thus parishioners
who came to his funeral would be given a finished card asking them to
pray for him. As well, he had wanted the church bell tolled as
soon as he died; but since this was at night, his order was
countermanded. His foresight extended even to the cemetery. Those
who followed the cortege there found, somewhat to their surprise, a
tombstone, complete with the date of death, already in place.
(Forward planning does not always work: the coping stone around
the grave would not allow the undertakers to lower the coffin into the
ground, so they had to come back and complete the burial later.)
learn these fascinating details about the death of Monsignor Cusack
from a new book, Changing Orders: Scenes of Clerical and Academic Life
(Brandl & Schlesinger) by Paul Crittenden. A former dean of
the faculty of Arts and professor of philosophy at the University of
Sydney, Crittenden was once a priest. Changing Orders explores
both sides of his life. Readers will know that in Australian
libraries there is now a shelf of books of this genre.
Crittenden’s is simply the best: even-tempered, reflective,
grown-up and noticeably well written.
in 1910, Joseph Cusack was part of the generation of priests from the
Manly seminary who were fiercely Australianist, loving the Australian
bushland and Australian poetry. Above all, they wanted an
Australian priesthood and, some time in the future, an Australian
episcopate. To promote this they set up an association, the Manly
Union, in 1914, with a motto Pro Deo et Australia (For God and
Australia). In Sydney the Manly Union priests could not help noticing
that their archbishop, Michael Kelly, was ageing. Might he
appoint a coadjutor bishop to help him in the complex diocese?
They hoped he would choose, if not an Australian, the star of the Manly
professoriate, Dr Tommy Hayden, an Irishman who had taught them all and
was sympathetic. The lot fell on another Irishman, Michael Sheehan, a
scholar from Maynooth, Ireland’s national seminary. Disappointed,
Joe Cusack wrote an abrasive article in a Melbourne Catholic paper, for
which he was punished by being sent to the bush.
Sheehan was unhappy in Sydney and he kept threatening to resign.
This gave the Australianists, who now included the pope’s man in
Australia, the Apostolic Delegate, their chance. They knew that
the Irish lobby among the bishops, given time, would block the
appointment of an Australian. So the next time Sheehan resigned
they must have an Australian bishop, already consecrated, whom they
could immediately put into Sydney. Thus, in 1937, when Sheehan
did resign, the Australian Norman Gilroy, then Bishop of Port Augusta
in South Australia, was put on a train and sent straight to Sydney.
Cardinal Gilroy (as he became) used to visit the dying Monsignor
Cusack. Crittenden records that on one such occasion the dying
man took the opportunity to criticise a recent decision in the diocese,
which Gilroy deflected with practised suavity, ‘Oh, but Monsignor, you
are an inspiration and example to us all. You must pray for us’.
Cardinal Gilroy presided at Cusack’s Requiem Mass, the Mass he had
hoped would teach his parishioners a last valuable lesson about the
meaning of life. Had they known of their parish priest’s small
but significant part in the Cardinal Archbishop’s rise to eminence,
they might have seen it as another valuable lesson—about the church.
The Very Model Of Lucidity: An appreciation of Avery Cardinal
Posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008
ARTICLE Newsweek Publication Date: December 13, 2008
There is nothing like Debrett's Peerage in these United States. If there were,
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., who died on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Dec. 12, would surely have been in it.
His great-grandfather, John W. Foster, was President Benjamin Harrison's
secretary of state--a service done for President Wilson by his great-uncle,
Robert Lansing, and for President Eisenhower by his father, John Foster Dulles.
His uncle, Allen Dulles, was America's European spymaster during World War II,
and his aunt Eleanor (whom many thought the most formidable of the clan) was
largely responsible for negotiating the Austrian State Treaty and getting the
Red Army out of Vienna in 1955. John Foster Dulles was also the most prominent
Protestant layman of the 1940s, serving as chairman of the Federal Council of
Churches' Commission to Study the basis of a "just and durable" peace in the
days when that predecessor to the National Council of Churches stood at the apex
of the American establishment, alongside the American Medical Association and
the American Bar Association.
Foster Dulles's robust Calvinism didn't take with young Avery, who would say in
later years that he left Choate for Harvard a thoroughgoing skeptic and
agnostic. But neither did his agnosticism last. As he recounted in his memoir, A
Testimonial to Grace, he was walking along the Charles River on a blustery,
early spring day in 1938 when he noticed the veins in a leaf on a blossoming
tree; such precision, beauty, and purpose could not, he thought, be an accident.
The universe, he imagined, must be governed by "an all-good and omnipotent God."
"That night," he wrote, "I prayed for the first time in years."
For the intellectually inquisitive Dulles, however, belief in God opened up
another set of questions: such as, where might God's will and purposes be
institutionally embodied? Dulles's undergraduate years coincided with a
renaissance of Roman Catholic intellectual and apologetic life at Harvard; and
so it was that, slowly but certainly, this product of the strongest Presbyterian
stock in America came to appreciate the depth, subtlety and coherent structure
of Catholicism--as well as its capacity to inspire civilizational nobility,
which he found manifest in the Middle Ages, a period of which he was very fond.
Thus, he entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1940--relishing, as he used to
joke years later, the part of the ritual in which the candidate had to abjure
and recant his former heresies. After decorated service in the Navy during World
War II, Avery Dulles entered the Society of Jesus--then the intellectual elite
corps of the Roman Catholic Church--and was ordained a priest in 1956.
His pre-ordination philosophy and theology courses and his graduate studies in
Rome, where he received the doctorate in 1960, prepared him for a teaching
career at Woodstock College, Catholic University and Fordham. That immersion in
the Catholic tradition in full also gave him the conceptual anchor that kept him
remarkably steadfast in the intellectual whitewater of the post-Vatican II
years. His steadiness, which was complemented by an equally remarkable fairness
to those with whom he disagreed, made him a unique figure on the U.S. Catholic
theological scene--a reference point for just about every serious Catholic
religious thinker, and more than a few Protestants and Jews as well. His lecture
style was not particularly scintillating; but his written work--extending over
more than two dozen books and 800 scholarly articles--was the very model of
lucidity. Pope John Paul II, on the advice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, honored
that accomplishment in 2001 with the cardinal's red hat.
Avery Dulles was a self-consciously ecclesial theologian, who made a deliberate
decision to "think with the church." Some imagined this a form of conservatism;
if it was (and such labels really don't work with theology), it was an
evangelical conservatism, an intellectual approach inspired by Christ's
instruction, after the multiplication of loaves ands fishes, to "pick up the
fragments, that nothing may be lost." Dulles explicated ancient truths; he
stretched our understanding of them a bit; he probed their implications. But he
never sought cheap originality or sound-bite fame.
That modesty of intellectual purpose went hand in hand with a charming modesty
of person. One does not often see cardinals of the Holy Roman Church walking
across campus in cheap blue windbreakers; the cardinal's sartorial style would
have caused grimaces at Wal-Mart, let alone Brooks Brothers. This was not an
affectation, however, nor was it some kind of eccentric noblesse oblige. Avery
Dulles took a vow of poverty when he entered the Society of Jesus and he kept
it, as he kept his vows of chastity, obedience to superiors, and that special
obedience to the pope that St. Ignatius Loyola intended to be the distinguishing
hallmark of Jesuit life. Every dime of his royalties went to the Jesuits; as for
patching the holes in one's shoes, well, duct tape would do just fine.
Although John Paul II had long been in the habit of naming elderly Catholic
theologians to the cardinalate as an expression of the church's gratitude for
their service, Avery Dulles's nomination as a cardinal came as a surprise to
many--and posed something of a dilemma to him. The night the announcement was
made, my wife and I were entertaining friends who were also close to Father
Dulles. As dinner began, the phone rang: it was the newly nominated cardinal,
who brushed aside my congratulations and asked whether it was possible for him
to be dispensed from the requirement in canon law that a cardinal be ordained a
bishop; I assured him that a dispensation would be readily given, as it had been
for others like him. There was an audible sigh of relief at the other end of the
phone. It was all another expression of the man's humility.
Still, cardinals employ the miter and crozier when they preside liturgically. So
on the night of Feb. 23, 2001, Cardinal Avery Dulles processed into the Church
of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary near Piazza del Popolo to take possession of
his Roman "title," vested as none of us had ever seen him before. The Discalced
Augustinians present were thrilled that their small church had become the
titular Roman parish of a new cardinal; others doubtless pondered the neat
historical symmetry of Dulles becoming the titular pastor of a church in which
one of his heroes, St. Robert Bellarmine, had once preached and taught. But
others couldn't help noticing a different kind of symmetry--in this case,
American. Jody Bottum, now editor of First Things, put into words what more than
a few of us were thinking: "Now we know what Abraham Lincoln would have looked
like in full pontificals."
In his later years, as Cardinal Dulles suffered greatly from the ravages of
post-polio syndrome, his humble, even grateful submission to the will of God
became an inspiration to many. (He also kept working, even after his ravaged
throat muscles wouldn't allow him to speak. One friend, on leaving after a
visit, said, "Avery, is there anything I can do for you?" The cardinal scratched
out on a note pad, "Put some more paper in the printer.") The nobility here
might seem aristocratic in character, given his background; yet I think it was,
in fact, specifically Christian.
For his cardinal's coat of arms, Avery Dulles chose the Latin motto, Scio cui
credidi ("I know in whom I have believed"): St. Paul's simple-yet-profound
explanation to his disciple, Timothy, of why he was not concerned about his
sufferings or his future. Avery Cardinal Dulles knew in Whom he believed. That
made him the man he was, and the theologian he was. That made all the difference
in an original American life that spanned more than a third of American history.
--George Weigel, a distinguished senior fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public
Policy Center, is a NEWSWEEK contributor.
An Episcopalian in the Footsteps of Francis
by James F. Puglisi, S.A.
On Sunday, 9 July 1893, the Reverend Lewis T. Wattson, rector of
St John's Episcopal Church in Kingston, New York, opened his King James
Bible for a special purpose. He hoped to find within its pages a name
for the Religious Community that he strongly felt God was calling him
to found. The thought of founding a Religious Community preoccupied his
mind from boyhood.
One day, his father, the Rev. Joseph Newton Wattson, recounted to
him the following incident: "I was present once", said the elder
Wattson, "in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Baltimore, when Walworth,
as a Paulist Father, addressed a vast concourse of men who packed the
building to the doors. You see, Walworth and I were students together
at the General Theological Seminary . . . What we need in the Episcopal
Church is a preaching Order like the Paulists".
Suddenly, the 10-year-old boy heard an interior voice saying:
"That is what you will do some day, found a preaching Order like the
On that July Sunday 1893, Fr Wattson found himself reading chapter
five, verse 11 of St Paul's Letter to the Romans: "And not only so, but
we also find joy in God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have
now received the atonement".
"Atonement", here is the name that he would give to his Community,
a name that was linked to Christ's Passover to the Father. Years later
he would write to Mother Lurana, Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of
the Atonement: "The moment my eyes rested upon the word 'Atonement' it
seemed to stand out from that sacred page with a distinctness all its
own and it flashed upon me, as I believe from Heaven, that the
Community God was preparing was to be called the Society of the
Divided into syllables the word read: "at-one-ment". The new
Society, to be founded in the Episcopalian Church, would be committed
to the ministry of "at-one-ment", that is, prayer and work for the
reconciliation of Christians and their churches, making them at-one,
thereby reflecting the gift of unity given by Christ to his Church in
the power of the Holy Spirit.
Such was Fr Wattson's mind in 1893, a time when ecumenical
concerns were far from vital in the life and witness of most Christian
Almost seven years would pass between Fr Wattson's finding of the
atonement text in Paul's Letter to the Romans and the foundation of the
Society. And in God's providence it would be a woman's devout inquiry
that would serve as the catalyst for the actual foundation of the
The woman was Miss Lurana White, a novice of the Episcopal Sisters
of the Holy Child Jesus in Albany, New York. In the Spring of 1897, she
wrote a letter to Fr Wattson, who was then Superior of a group of
Episcopalian priests in Omaha, Nebraska. Her choice of Wattson arose,
not because she knew him personally, but because she had heard that he
was, in her own words, "very high church and had stood tenaciously for
his ritualistic practices and Catholic teaching when Rector of St
John's Church, Kingston, New York".
In her letter Miss White described her very strong desire to enter
a Religious Community whose members publicly professed the vow of
poverty and lived according to the Franciscan spirit.
Her inquiry of Fr Wattson was simple: Did he know of any Religious
Community within the Episcopalian Church whose Rule required the public
profession of the vow of poverty?
In his response of 31 May 1897, Fr Wattson stated: "I am sorry
that I cannot give a satisfactory answer to your question. I am not
sufficiently acquainted with the Rule of the several Sisterhoods in the
Church to tell you whether any of them practice strict corporate
poverty. If there be such I am not aware of it. Yet I have no doubt
that a goodly percentage of them have no endowment and live practically
White's inquiry and Wattson's response marked the beginning of a
long correspondence by means of which each shared what they believed
was placed in their hearts by divine inspiration. Letter after letter
provided the forum in which Fr Wattson told of his dream to found a
Religious Community called the Society of the Atonement, dedicated to
Christian unity and mission.
Beginning like St Francis
It was in October 1898, that Rev. Lewis Wattson and Lurana White
met face-to-face for the first time. The meeting place was the White
family home located in Warwick, New York.
On 7 October, at the conclusion of a three-day retreat, Fr Wattson
and Lurana White made a "covenant" with God and one another to found
the Society of the Atonement. Each gave to the other a Crucifix which
in Lurana's words, "represented the entire oblation of ourselves into
the hands of God for the purpose of founding the Society of the
But where to begin? Should the new Community be founded in the Far
West, the Mid West, or in one of the big cities of the East?
Lurana suggested a site not too far from the small town of
Garrison, New York, where friends had told her there was a "little
If Francis of Assisi had begun his vocation after hearing the
words: "Now, go hence, Francis, and build up my church, for it is
nearly falling down", how fitting that the new Society began its
foundation near St John's-in-the-Wilderness, the little abandoned
church situated in an area called Graymoor. And so it happened.
On 15 December 1898, Lurana White took up residence near the
church in a poor, windswept and dilapidated farmhouse called the
Diamond House. The date of 15 December is now celebrated by the Sisters
and Friars of the Atonement as Foundation Day.
Late the following year, after completing some 10 months of
training for the Religious life with the Episcopal Order of the Holy
Cross, Fr Wattson also went to Graymoor where he lived in an old paint
shack which he called his "Palace of Lady Poverty".
Fr Wattson made his profession of vows and took the name Paul;
White also took vows but retained her birth name, Lurana. They now set
about the task of reflecting upon and clarifying the purpose of their
new Society. Clearly their vocation to church unity was founded on
Jesus' prayer: "That all may be one".
But this conviction would be shaped in a special way by both their
understanding of Church and by their pro-Roman beliefs.
For Fr Paul and Mother Lurana, the one Church of Christ was
constituted of the Church of Rome, the Anglican Communion and the
Orthodox Church. Each was truly Church and while each branch was a
manifestation of Christ's one Church, both the Anglican Communion and
the Orthodox Church had suffered because of their break with the See of
Indeed, for Fr Paul and Mother Lurana the Roman See was the
divinely established centre of Church unity.
But dominating their prayer and thoughts was their own beloved
Anglican Communion. Christ's gift of unity would be rendered much more
visible if the Anglican Church would reunite as a body with the Church
More and more, this concern for the corporate reunion of the
Anglican Communion with Rome occupied the prayer and energies of the
There were other Episcopalians, both in the United States and
abroad, who shared this pro-Roman view. But should a Franciscan
community, newly founded in the Episcopal Church, become the voice for
proclaiming that there could be no real Church unity except that which
was centred around the Chair of Peter?
In early October 1900, Mother Lurana forcefully expressed to Fr
Paul the hazards of such an enterprise: "Do you realize to what
persecutions, ostracism and peril of annihilation you will be exposing
the Society of the Atonement by undertaking such a propaganda?".
But true to what she had called the "one-ness of God's call", she
made her own Fr Paul's response, "Yes, I think I do. Nevertheless if
our witness is from God, sooner or later it will prevail, though the
whole world be against us".
And so in a sermon preached at Graymoor on 28 October 1900, Fr
Paul contended that the faith, once and for all delivered to the
saints, was none other than the faith of the Holy Roman Catholic
Church. Much to the surprise of the small congregation that day, he
likewise affirmed that the Chair of Peter was the divinely constituted
centre of a reunited Christendom.
Other "Roman beliefs" that rested easy with both Founders were the
doctrines of Papal infallibility, the de jure divino universal
jurisdiction of Peter's Successor and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
On the other hand, both Fr Paul and Mother Lurana were convinced
that the 1896 teaching of Pope Leo XIII, contained in Apostolicae
Curae, regarding the validity of Anglican orders was not irrevocable
and would in fact be changed as new theological and historical data
came to light.
It was their enthusiastic promotion of Roman beliefs, intertwined
with an exaltation of the Papacy as the Centre of Church unity, that
brought many of their fellow Episcopalians, clergy and lay, to look
with suspicion upon this new religious Community.
Gradually, more and more pulpits within the Episcopalian Church
were closed to Fr Paul. Donations, much needed by the fledgling
Community, dwindled to almost nothing. The sentiments surfacing ever
more forcibly against the new Founders were expressed most clearly in
the closing lines of an editorial of the Living Church, 5 October 1901,
a publication held in high esteem by many Episcopalians: "The whole
Anglican communion is unanimous in repudiating absolutely the doctrine
of Papal Supremacy, which the earnest but erratic priest of Graymoor
In an attempt to find an audience who would listen to his message
of Christian unity, Fr Paul, in collaboration with Mother Lurana, began
a monthly magazine called The Lamp. At the insistence of Mother Lurana,
the top of each page bore the inscription, "Ut Omnes Unum Sint" (That
all may be one).
In the first issue of February 1903, Fr Paul stated the purpose of
the new magazine as follows: "Candlemas . . . marks the first
appearance of The Lamp. We have lighted it as witness to the Old Faith
as taught by the English Church before a wicked King severed her from
the Centre of unity.
"We believe that not only does our Blessed Lord wish us to pray,
but to work for unity; and instead of magnifying differences between
ourselves and Rome, we ought to minimize them and thus prepare the way
for the peace which we all long for as Christians".
Now that pulpits were closed to him, Fr Paul had in The Lamp a new
medium, but his message remained basically the same. And it was a
message shared by other pro-Romans within the Anglican Communion during
the opening years of the 20th century.
The pages of The Lamp in those early years unfolded this message,
constantly addressing the issue of the corporate reunion of the
Anglican Communion with Rome, upholding the Roman teaching on the Pope
as Successor to Peter, maintaining the validity of Anglican Orders and
tirelessly pointing to the Chair of Peter as the visible centre of
In the minds of most readers of The Lamp, the Co-Founders of the
Society of the Atonement were definitely heading in the direction of
Yet between late 1900, when both publicly proclaimed that Church
unity was impossible without reunion with the See of Rome, until the
year 1907, neither felt personally driven to seek entrance into the
Their common mind was that corporate reunion with Rome was the
goal, the desideratum, even if the "corpus" was only constituted of a
remnant of "Anglo-Catholics" or "Pro-Roman" members within the Anglican
In the April 1903 issue of The Lamp Fr Paul expressed it in this
way: "But when those who have fallen away from Catholic unity return to
the sheepfold of Peter, they will return as a body. They went out as a
body and they will return as a body".
This firm conviction concerning corporate reunion was considerably
weakened in October of 1907, when the General Convention of the
Episcopal Church voted to allow ministers, not ordained in their
Church, to occasionally preach from pulpits of Episcopalian Churches.
Such preaching required the permission of the Congregation's Rector or,
in his absence, the permission of the Bishop.
Referred to as the Open Pulpit Canon, it called into question in
the minds of both Fr Paul and Mother Lurana their lifelong belief that
the Anglican Communion was, as a body, a distinct branch of the one
true Church of Christ.
Now it seemed that the uniqueness as well as the ecclesial
equality of the Anglican Communion with the Roman and the Orthodox
Churches were being abandoned in and through the General Convention's
decision to allow ministers from other churches to preach from the
pulpits of the Episcopal Church.
No corporate welcome yet
Should they not make overtures to Catholic authorities and see if
they and their small Community might not be received corporately into
the Church of Rome?
Mother Lurana took the initiative by obtaining a meeting with
Archbishop John Farley of New York on 21 November 1907. Her comment
concerning that meeting was: "I found him a conservative of
conservatives". The future Cardinal offered little encouragement
relative to the corporate reception of the Society of the Atonement
into the Catholic Church. There simply was no precedent for this kind
But there was ample precedent for individuals coming from this or
that Protestant Church and embracing the fullness of the Catholic
faith. And so Mother Lurana was left with the impression that she was
welcome to enter the Catholic Church and live as a vowed Religious by
seeking admission into one of the many Sisterhood Communities already
existing within that Church.
The same would logically apply in the case of Fr Paul. He could
seek admission into the Jesuits or Redemptorists or Passionists or
Franciscans, stable Communities that had already given ample proof of
holiness and Gospel witness within the Catholic Church.
As far as the Archbishop was concerned, individual entrance into
the Catholic Church on the part of Fr Paul, Mother Lurana and their few
followers was absolutely necessary. He was not in favour of the
reception of the Society as such and its continuation in the Catholic
Church as a distinct Religious Community.
For his part Fr Paul, while dismayed by the passage of the Open
Pulpit Canon, continued to work within the Episcopal Church for the
goal of Christian unity as he understood it.
In 1907, he co-authored with an English pro-Roman advocate, the
Rev. Spencer Jones, a book called The Prince of the Apostles. Mother
Lurana wrote the first chapter and edited the other chapters. Again the
See of Peter was singled out as the visible centre of Christian unity.
Fr Vincent McNabb, a well-known English Dominican, pointed this
out in his review of the book: "The most important fact is not what is
said but who have said it . . . and if we may be allowed the phrase, we
find the title page the weightiest page in the book".
It was likewise between the 1907 passage of the Open Pulpit Canon
and the entrance of the Society into the Catholic Church in 1909, that
Fr Paul began what would be one of his most enduring apostolates, the
Church Unity Octave.
His English friend, Spencer Jones, suggested that there be an
annual one day of prayer and preaching on the office of the Papacy. He
mentioned that 29 June, the Feast of St Peter, would be a very
appropriate day for this devotion.
Replying to Rev. Jones on 30 November 1907, Fr Paul wrote: "The
'Peter sermon' suggestion is fine . . . In addition to that, what do
you think of inaugurating a Church unity week beginning with St Peter's
Chair at Rome, 18 January, and ending with St Paul's Day?".
Without waiting for an answer from Jones, Fr Paul began writing
letters to clergy and friends of Graymoor, both Roman and Episcopal,
asking them to participate in the Octave of Prayer for Unity. Over
2,000 persons agreed to do so in this first observance.
At the end of a report in The Lamp concerning the Franciscan
Friars and Sisters of 1908 observance, Fr Paul expressed the hope that
"this Church unity observance so auspiciously begun, may be kept with
increasing numbers year after year until our Lord's prayer, Ut omnes
unum sint, is completely fulfilled".
Little did Fr Paul and Mother Lurana dream that the Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity would one day be observed almost universally by the
major Christian Churches.
The definitive choice
In the pages of The Lamp, in countless letters and in private
conversations, Fr Paul had tenaciously held to the twofold witness of
the Primacy of the Holy See and the Validity of Anglican Orders.
Throughout the early 1900s many were the voices that spoke to him
concerning the inconsistency of this position.
For example, Fr Paul himself cites two such witnesses in the June
1903 issue of The Lamp: "A distinguished Jesuit Father in the Sacred
Heart Messenger exclaims: 'How any one can pretend to obey the Pope and
remain an Anglican is more than we can understand'".
And from the pen of an Episcopal clergyman: "Your position is
absolutely untenable. It is neither Anglican or Roman, and I am
positive, therefore, that it cannot be Catholic".
But it was only in 1909 that Fr Paul and Mother Lurana came to see
that their position was "absolutely untenable". In May of that year,
Bishop Frederick Joseph Kinsman of Delaware, who had recently become
the Episcopal Visitor for the Society of the Atonement, met with Fr
Paul so that he could hear first hand about the Society's allegiance to
both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
Two months later, in a letter addressed to Fr Paul and dated 5
July 1909, Bishop Kinsman provided the final stimulus that moved Fr
Paul and Mother Lurana to seek entrance into the Catholic Church.
In that momentous letter, after describing most accurately the
tenets embraced by the Co-Founders, Bishop Kinsman wrote: "My advice is
that, in the interest of single-minded honesty and devotion to duty,
you make the choice between the two Churches.
"You cannot serve either the Papal Church or the Protestant
Episcopal Church well if you try to serve both at the same time. Either
give up belief in a divinely established Papacy and in Roman dogmas as
the one complete expression of the Christian faith, as one must do who
is a consistent and contented Anglican; or else give up Anglican
Orders, make an unqualified submission to the Latin Church and be a
good Roman Catholic.
"I have no hesitation in saying that if I were in your position I
should choose the latter alternative".
On 30 October 1909, the Society of the Atonement acted upon the
advice given by the Episcopal Bishop of Delaware. On that day, Fr Paul
and Mother Lurana, along with another Friar, two Atonement Sisters, two
novices and 10 lay associates, made their unqualified submission to the
Their profession of faith was received by Mons. Joseph Conroy,
Vicar General of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, who was the personal
representative of Archbishop John Farley.
Due to the influence of Cardinal Merry del Val, who was a faithful
reader of The Lamp and Secretary of State under Pius X, the Holy See
was quite gracious in its reception of the small Community. It was
accepted as a distinct Religious Community, allowed to keep its name
and encouraged to keep as its purpose prayer and work for Christian
unity and mission.
The corporate reception of the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement
into the Roman Church was the first such occurrence since the
Many of the ministries which had already begun when the Society
was in the Episcopal Church continued to grow as it adapted itself to
life within the Roman Church. The Lamp continued to highlight the
message of Christian unity, winning more and more people to its
The Union "That Nothing Be Lost", an organization which provided
money for needy missionaries, grew larger and sensitized many to the
apostolic labours of those men and women engaged in foreign and home
St Christopher's Inn, an expression of the Society's commitment to
Franciscan ideals, continued to receive thousands of homeless men each
year, providing them with hospitality in the spirit of St Francis.
Among Roman Catholics, the Church Unity Octave, later known as the
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was vigorously promoted every year
from 18-25 January.
"We can pass through the door of ecumenism only on our knees".
This is a sentence that Yves Congar repeated often on his course on
ecumenism. It is a programme that has a long history. One may even say
that it began with Jesus on the night before his death when he prayed
"that they all may be one" (Jn 17:21). From that moment onward, he
entrusted to his followers the prayer for unity of those who believed
We know all too well the painful trajectory of history that
Christians have followed in 2,000 years. It is only in modern times
that Christians began to pray together among communities that are not
in communion with each other.
Gradually, the Spirit has matured us in time. The Second Vatican
Council has restored an ecclesiology of communion that has enabled the
Catholic Church to enter in the one ecumenical movement — a movement
that has spiritual ecumenism as its basis where the primacy of prayer
The Conciliar Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, when giving guidance
about the exercise of ecumenism, places prayer for the unity of
Christians at the centre, that is, at what is called the "soul" of the
entire ecumenical movement.
© L'Osservatore Romano
A Catholic social
credited with saving over 2,500 Polish Jewish children from Nazi death
camps during World War II has died at 98.
Irena Sendler was tortured by the Gestapo for her work and
sentenced to death but escaped and continued her work. She was a member
of Zegota, the code name for the Council for Aid to Jews and took
charge of its children's department wearing a nurses uniform and Star
of David to enter Nazi-run holding areas to deliver food, clothes and
medicine, including a typhoid vaccine.
After it became clear that Jewish children in the ghettos would be
sent to the Treblinka death camp, Zegota decided to try to save as many
children as possible.
Using the codename "Jolanta", Sendler became part of an escape
network: one baby was spirited away in a mechanic's toolbox; some
children were transported in coffins, suitcases and sacks; others
escaped through the city's sewer system. An ambulance driver who
smuggled infants under stretchers in the back of his van kept his dog
on the seat beside him, having trained the animal to bark to mask any
cries from his hidden passengers.
In later life Sendler recalled the heartbreak of Jewish mothers
having to part from their children: "We witnessed terrible scenes.
Father agreed, but mother didn't. We sometimes had to leave those
unfortunate families without taking their children from them. I'd go
back there the next day and often found that everyone had been taken to
the Umschlagsplatz railway siding for transport to the death camps."
The children rescued by Sendler were given new identities and
placed with convents, sympathetic families, orphanages and hospitals.
Those who were old enough to talk were taught Christian prayers and how
to make the sign of the Cross, so that their Jewish heritage would not
Like the more celebrated Oskar Schindler, Sendler kept a list of
the names of all the children she saved, in the hope that she could one
day reunite them with their families.
On the night of October 20, 1943 her house was raided by the
Gestapo, and her immediate thought was to get rid of the list. "I
wanted to throw it out of the window but couldn't, the house was
surrounded by Germans. So I threw it to my colleague and went to the
door. There were 11 soldiers. In two hours they almost tore the whole
house apart. The roll of names was saved due to the great courage of my
colleague, who hid it in her underwear."
The Nazis took Sendler to the Pawiak prison, where she was
tortured; although her legs and feet were broken, and her body left
permanently scarred, she refused to betray her network of helpers or
the children whom she had saved. Finally, she was sentenced to death.
She escaped thanks to Zegota, one of whose members bribed a guard
to set her free. She immediately returned to her work using a new
identity. Having retrieved her list of names, she buried it in a jar
beneath an apple tree in a friend's garden. In the end it provided a
record of about 2500 names, and after the war she attempted to keep her
promise to reunite the children with their families. Most of the
parents, however, had been gassed at Treblinka.
Sendler was born Irena Krzyzanowska in Warsaw into a Catholic
family. Her father was a physician who ran a hospital; a number of his
patients were impoverished Jews. He died of typhus in 1917, but his
example was of profound importance to his daughter, who later said: "I
was taught that if you see a person drowning, you must jump into the
water to save them, whether you can swim or not."
After the war, she continued in her profession as a social worker
and also became a director of vocational schools. In 1965, she became
one of the first Righteous Gentiles to be honoured by Yad Vashem, the
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. At
that time, Poland's communist leaders would not allow her to travel to
Israel, and she was unable to collect the award until 1983.
In 2003, she was awarded Poland's highest honour, the Order of the
White Eagle; and last year she was nominated for the Nobel peace prize,
eventually won by Al Gore. A play about her wartime experiences, called
Life in a Jar, was written in 2000 by a group of American schoolgirls,
and was performed in the US, Poland and Canada. She was also the
subject of a biography, Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The
Story of Irena Sendler. Last year it was reported that her exploits in
Warsaw were to be the subject of a film, starring Angelina Jolie.
In her latter years, Sendler was cared for in a Warsaw nursing
home by Elzbieta Ficowska, who in July 1942, when six months old, had
been smuggled out of the ghetto by Sendler in a carpenter's workbox.
Click here for Irene Sendler
The Bishop vs. the Nazis: Bl. Clemens von Galen in World War II
by Joanna Bogle
It is an intriguing
fact that, during a modern regime which has come to be regarded as the
very epitome of evil — so much so that the mere mention of the
political party's name conjures up images of death and horror — the
most vocal and consistent opposition came not from youthful activists
or from humanitarian crusaders but from a prince-bishop. Saints and
heroes so often come from unexpected places.
This leading opponent of Nazism in Germany was a man steeped in
history, whose worldview had been shaped in the Europe of the late 19th
century. He was brought up in an ancient castle bereft of any modern
comforts and soaked in an atmosphere of tradition, local loyalties,
deep religious faith, and commitment to social and charitable duties.
Count Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Munster in the
Rhineland, came from one of Germany's most well-known aristocratic
families. His opposition to the Nazi regime, and in particular his
stance against its horrific euthanasia program, made him into an
emblematic hero. He was known in his lifetime as the "Lion of Munster."
Recently beatified by the Church, he is a figure whose life and message
deserve to be better known, especially as the Second World War recedes
"Neither Praise nor Fear"
Born in March 1878, Clemens August was the 11th of 13 children. He
grew up in the castle of Dinklage, and in later life loved to recall
his childhood and the pattern of its days. It was an old-fashioned,
structured life: Each day began with early morning Mass, and it was a
family rule that any child who turned up late got no butter on his
bread at breakfast — and anyone who failed to turn up for Mass got no
breakfast at all. But it was also a carefree existence, with the
children encouraged to play freely out of doors and to enjoy country
pursuits. It was a warm and affectionate family, all the children
remaining close throughout their lives.
The von Galens were one of the leading noble families of
Westphalia, and Count Heribert, the father of Clemens August, was a
member of Germany's Imperial Parliament. The tradition of the family
was both staunchly Catholic and staunchly patriotic. It was also
suffused with a sense of duty: Countess Elisabeth worked hard at
charitable projects among local people and involved her children as a
matter of course. Shared bonds with local people included a deep love
of the area's festivals and Catholic customs, old hymns, and popular
prayers. Later in life, Clemens August was always moved when certain
hymns were sung; he explained that these reminded him of his parents
and of being taught the faith in a way that was both loving and
From such a family, it was natural that vocations to the
priesthood would be born. After a period at boarding school and at
university, Clemens August announced his decision, trained as a priest,
and was ordained in 1904.
His new life took him into a very different part of Germany — the
industrialized and modern city of Berlin, where he worked as a curate
in a working-class area. The harsh years of World War I and Germany's
eventual defeat saw him working as a pastor among people who were both
poor and hungry. His own way of life, which he would continue as
bishop, was based on hard work and personal austerity. The discipline
instilled in childhood had become a habit.
Called back to the diocese of Munster in 1929, he was consecrated
as its bishop in 1933. As his motto, he chose Nec laudimus nec timere,
indicating that he would be influenced by "neither praise nor fear." He
was called to put these ideas into practice almost straight away.
Hammer on Anvil
When the new National Socialist government started to confiscate
Church property, turning religious orders out of their houses and
arresting priests, Bishop von Galen denounced this from the pulpit.
When the Nazis published material accusing the Church of being
anti-science and anti-human progress, he replied with vigorous
pamphlets of his own setting out the Church's record.
From the early 1930s onwards, it was Nazi policy to make things
difficult for the Church in ways that were simple but effective: Using
crowd control as an excuse, processions would be banned or re-routed at
the last minute, and outdoor events subjected to sudden new rules and
regulations. The bishop could not be certain that celebrations for a
village confirmation would be able to go ahead in traditional style.
People became used to the idea that popular celebrations, now deemed
old-fashioned, must take second place to the new vision of community
Bishop von Galen's approach was to hold firm to every local
tradition and to circumvent every attempt to abandon old ways or cancel
long-held celebrations. This approach did not make him popular with the
government. He referred openly to the Nazis as pagan and urged people
not to allow great Catholic traditions to be usurped in the name of
When war broke out in 1939, it was difficult for a patriotic
German to show the way ahead. Because of his opposition to the Nazis,
Bishop von Galen became a popular figure in the British press, and his
stance was frequently mentioned there with warm approval — a fact that
infuriated the Nazis more. But he continued to denounce the regime,
listing each new restriction on Christian life: "Religion has been
banned from the schools, our organizations have been suppressed, and
now the Catholic kindergartens are about to be closed," he said from
the pulpit in July 1941, urging Catholics to remain firm in their
loyalty to the Church and likening them to an anvil on which a
blacksmith was striking a heavy hammer.
Animals Past Their Usefulness
When the Nazi euthanasia program began, it was semi-secret. People
began to suspect that something was happening: Those with handicapped
relatives were informed of sudden deaths with no explanation, and there
were whispers of evil things taking place. It was Bishop von Galen who
revealed the truth. Having collected evidence from many sources, he
announced in a sermon that defenseless human beings were being rounded
up and killed "because in the judgment of some official body, on the
decision of some committee, they are judged as 'unworthy to live'; they
are judged as 'unproductive members of the national community'" (sermon
at St. Lambert's Church, August 3, 1941).
His sermon caused a sensation. What had been happening in the dark
was now thrown into the spotlight. People knew that the bishop was
speaking the truth, for it was corroborated by what had been learned by
people with relatives in hospitals and asylums. Duplicated secretly,
the sermon found its way across Germany with great speed despite
official censorship. It was reported in the foreign press, reprinted in
secret newsletters, hand-copied, and passed around by word of mouth.
The first sermon denouncing the euthanasia program was followed by
two more, which went into greater detail, citing specific cases. One
example given by the bishop was a man suffering from mental problems
and living in an institution but regularly visited by his family
including his soldier son. The revelation that this man had been taken
off and killed in an official euthanasia program hit home as a terrible
example of the reality of what was happening.
Bishop von Galen pointed out that no one would be safe: men
wounded in war, the gravely ill, the vulnerable. Human beings were
being treated as if they were animals that had passed their usefulness:
Were these people to be treated "like a cow that no longer gives milk,
or like an old lame horse"?
No! We are concerned with men and women, our
fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters! Poor human beings, ill
human beings, they are unproductive if you will. But does that mean
they have lost the right to live? Have you, have I, the right to live
only so long as we are productive, so long as we are regarded by others
as productive? (August 3, 1941)
He went on to spell out the implications of what was going on. No
patient could trust a doctor, the courts and the police were to be
implicated in murder, and the whole concept of justice perverted. He
thundered, in powerful language "Woe to mankind — woe to our German
people — if the Divine Commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' which God our
Creator wrote into man's conscience from the beginning, if this
Commandment is not merely violated but this violation is tolerated and
Blunt, forthright language — backed by facts — meant that the
bishop was a formidable opponent for the Nazis. It is a measure of his
status that the euthanasia program was halted for a considerable period
in Westphalia, and many lives saved. It was not easy for the Nazis to
know what to do: To arrest the bishop would be to plunge the whole of
that area, which had the closest of links with his family, going back
through history, into passionate and probably open rebellion.
Cardinal of a Ruined Land
The huge and unrelenting Allied air raids made it easier for the
government to quell von Galen's influence. Munster was reduced to
ruins, its cathedral destroyed, the bishop himself made homeless and
forced into temporary shelter on the outskirts along with many other
refugees. As the chaos created by the homeless crowds increased and
people's energies were channeled into ensuring their own survival and
worrying about sons and husbands fighting in Russia and elsewhere, it
was possible to keep the bishop under a form of house arrest without
incurring any active opposition. He was watched and checked at every
move: Since travel was becoming increasingly difficult, there was in
any case no possibility of his reaching Berlin or any other major city,
and he had no access to the mass media or means of addressing public
The invading Allied armies finally reached Munster. Seeking a
public figure untainted by the Nazi regime with whom they could
establish formal contact, they turned to the bishop. They found that
his passionate anti-Nazism did not mean that he had ceased to care
about his country, and although courteous to the incoming troops, he
made clear that he did not relish having foreign rulers in charge of
As the months went by, he spoke out — at a time when it was very
difficult for any German to do so — about the horrific plight of
Germans forcibly expelled from their homes in eastern parts of the
country which were now being handed over to a new, Soviet-dominated
Poland. Huge numbers of young girls from these families were raped,
children became separated from their parents in the chaos of the forced
exodus, and death from starvation, brutality, and disease took a heavy
toll as the pitiful refugees struggled westward. On arrival in the
devastated ruins of towns in the western parts of defeated Germany, the
survivors found only continued suffering. Meanwhile, huge numbers of
German prisoners-of-war were held in Soviet camps, most of whom would
not be released for over a decade.
In this time of Germany's suffering as a defeated, pariah nation,
Pope Pius XII made von Galen a cardinal. It was both a tribute to his
wartime role and a sign that his country still had a place among the
nations of the world. The journey in 1946 to Rome for the ceremony was
achieved with great difficulty at that time, normal transportation in
or out of the country was impossible for most Germans — and the new
cardinal, whose health had become fragile following wartime
austerities, returned home ill. He did not live to see his country's
return to any sort of normality or prosperity. When he died, on March
22, 1946, his devastated city of Munster had only just celebrated his
creation as a cardinal. He was buried in the ruins of his cathedral,
where many of his ancestors had been buried over the centuries.
A Voice for the Other Germany
In 1956 von Galen's cause for canonization was opened, and over
the ensuing years more and more evidence came to light of his personal
gifts: his courage, his kindness, his austere way of life (especially
during the war, when he insisted on giving to others any small treat
that might come his way), his insistence on a structured rule of life,
including regular prayer. His grave in the now-restored Cathedral of
Munster was always well-visited, and candles and petitions for prayer
were placed there.
In October 2005, Cardinal von Galen was formally declared blessed
by the Church, the first step towards full canonization. But by now
something else had occurred. History had rolled on. More than half a
century after the Second World War, the Church now had a German Pope,
Benedict XVI, a Bavarian. As a boy in an anti-Nazi family, the pope
knew of Bishop von Galen and regarded him as a hero and a voice for the
"other Germany" of non-Nazis who longed for National Socialism to be
consigned to history.
St. Peter's in Rome was packed for the beatification ceremony, and
it was a moving moment when Pope Benedict addressed the gathering as
the ceremonies ended. The pope's style is thoughtful, dignified, and
paternal: In speaking of Bishop von Galen, he noted the way in which
this man of God had given witness to the truth in a grim and tragic
I was privileged to be at the ceremony and, through friendships
with people in the current German pro-life and pro-family apostolate,
to know something of the role that Bl. Clemens August von Galen has in
the Church in Germany today. There is an awareness that the message of
his sermons resonates down the decades, and that his solid resistance
to the killing of the mentally ill is something that stands as an
example to all bishops and to all Christians in public life.
Cardinal von Galen is, of course, a figure of whom German
Catholics feel they can be proud, from an era of their history of which
they are all terribly ashamed, so this is of importance to them. But
the message of his life is larger than that. All Catholics need to know
that there was a bishop who was staunchly anti-Nazi. They need to know
about his opposition and the way he stood firm and spoke out when
others remained silent. It is important that we remind people of this
when we hear about the Church's "failure" to respond adequately to the
Nazi's evil actions.
And there is more: What about today, when legalized euthanasia is
again firmly on the agenda, and when pagan ideology is regarded as the
norm and Christianity marginalized as something old-fashioned and
opposed to national community life? Where do we all stand? What
approach should we take? In this hero-bishop from a different era, we
can hear a message and a warning, a call to honor the faith we share
with him, and a pattern to follow. Born in a castle, dying in a
bombed-out city with his country devastated around him and its moral
reputation in ruins too, Bishop von Galen held fast to what was right,
and his message lives on while that of the pagan culture he opposed has
been revealed for the evil it always was. We must ask him to pray for
From Bishop Von Galen's Sermon Against Euthanasia
"Thou shalt not kill." God engraved this commandment on the souls
of men long before any penal code laid down punishment for murder, long
before any court prosecuted and avenged homicide. Cain, who killed his
brother Abel, was a murderer long before courts or states came into
existence, and plagued by his conscience he confessed, "Guilt like mine
is too great to find forgiveness . . . and I shall wander over the
earth, a fugitive; anyone I meet will slay me." Because of his love for
us God has engraved these commandments in our hearts and has made them
manifest to us. They express the need of our nature created by God.
They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life
grounded on reason, well pleasing to God, healthful and sacred. God,
our Father, wishes by these precepts to gather us, his children, about
him as a hen shelters her brood under her wings. If we are obedient to
his commands, then we are protected and preserved against the
destruction with which we are menaced, just as the chicks beneath the
wings of the mother. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often have I been
ready to gather thy children together, as a hen gathers her chickens
under her wings; and thou didst refuse it!" Does history again repeat
itself here in Germany, in our land of Westphalia, in our city of
Munster? Where in Germany and where, here, is obedience to the precepts
of God? The eighth commandment requires "Thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbor." How often do we see this commandment
publicly and shamelessly broken? In the seventh commandment we read,
"Thou shalt not steal." But who can say that property is safe when our
brethren, monks and nuns, are forcibly and violently despoiled of their
convents, and who now protects property if it is illegally sequestered
and not given back? . . . The first three commandments have long
counted for nothing in the public life of Germany and here also in
Munster . . . The Sabbath is desecrated; holy days of obligation are
secularized and no longer observed in the service of God. His name is
made fun of, dishonored, and all too frequently blasphemed. As for the
first commandment, "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me,"
instead of the One, True, Eternal God, men have created at the dictates
of their whim, their own gods to adore: Nature, the State, the Nation,
or the Race. In the words of St. Paul, for many their god is their
belly, their ease, to which all is sacrificed down to conscience and
honor for the gratification of the carnal senses, for wealth and
ambition. Then we are not surprised that they should claim divine
privileges and seek to make themselves overlords of life and death.
Delivered August 3, 1941 at the Church of St. Lambert in Munster
T4: The Nazis' Euthanasia Solution
He who is bodily and mentally not sound and deserving may not
perpetuate this misfortune in the bodies of his children. — Hitler,
Beginning in 1939, the National Socialist regime begin
systematically killing disabled children in "specially designated
pediatric clinics" via starvation and overdose. By the end of World War
II, an estimated 5,000 infants and children had been murdered by the
Nazis. The program, code-named T4, was extended to adults beginning in
1940. Physicians working for the T4 program examined medical files
(seldom the institutionalized patients themselves) and marked for death
disabled and mentally ill adults, in most cases without the knowledge
or consent of family members. Those selected for extermination were
rounded up, processed, and directed into a facility for a "disinfecting
shower." Instead, the victims were gassed to death via carbon monoxide.
Their bodies were cremated and the ashes sent to families with an
official death certificate listing a fictitious cause of death.
By 1941 the program had become public knowledge, in part because
of the opposition from German clergymen, including Bishop von Galen.
Hitler officially halted the adult killings, but the child program
continued. In 1942 the adult killings resumed in secret and continued
until the end of the war, with an ever-expanding range of victims,
including the elderly, hospitalized war victims, and foreign laborers.
In all, an estimated 200,000 people were executed as part of the Nazi
"mercy killing" agenda.
(Source: The United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Joanna Bogle, a contributing editor of This Rock, is a freelance
journalist, author, broadcaster, and lecturer. She is a frequent
defender of Christian ideas on British television and radio. She is
author most recently of The Pope Benedict Code (Gracewing 2006).
Bishop Pierre Claverie of Algeria: Patron for the dialogue of
All Things Catholic by
John L. Allen, Jr. Oct. 26, 2007 -
A perennial temptation with saints, whether of the formally
canonized variety or not, is to reduce their lives to bumper stickers.
Thus Mother Teresa becomes a feel-good symbol for care of the poor and
sick, Oscar Romero an icon of liberation theology, and Josemaría
Escrivá the face of traditional, militant Catholicism. While
each of those sound-bites may capture something, none does justice to
the complex figures to whom they have become attached.
In many ways, the late Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran, Algeria,
who was assassinated in 1996, and whose cause for sainthood recently
opened along with 18 other martyrs of a bloody civil war that left
150,000 Algerians dead, could be a prime candidate for just such a
Claverie's death was part of the carnage created by the Islamic
Salvation Front, a template for radical Islamic movements elsewhere. In
that context, Claverie could seem a symbol for Christian martyrdom at
the hands of jihadists, a patron saint for Catholic hawks in the "clash
of civilizations." This was a man, after all, fully aware of the peril
that stalked him, who refused to walk away, saying, "I cannot abandon
Algeria to the Islamists."
On the other hand, Claverie was also a man of dialogue down to his
bones; at his funeral in 1996, Algerian Muslim mourners described him
as "the bishop of the Muslims too." Hence the doves could also stake a
claim to his memory, as a sort of spiritual antipode to Islamophobia
and the "war on terrorism."
Fortunately, we have a firebreak against such reductionist
readings of Claverie's life and death: the powerful new biography A
Life Poured Out, written by Fr. Jean-Jacques Pérennčs, a
personal friend of Claverie as well as a fellow Dominican. The book has
already been published in French and Arabic, and is now available in
English from Orbis.
In a time when discussion of Christian/Muslim relations is
dominated by ideology and abstract theological debate, Claverie
represents an utterly different path: a life lived as a "guest in the
house of Islam," not blind to the challenges and never fuzzy about his
Christian identity, but relentless in his commitment to friendship.
Claverie's interest was what he called the "real, living Islam,"
meaning people rather than theories.
Reading Pérennčs' account, Claverie's legacy seems
to come down to this: Only from the outside can Islam seem dominated by
militants on the one hand, and Western-style progressives on the other
who carry little weight in the street. For those who know Islamic
societies, like Claverie, it's those in between who matter: mainstream
scholars, journalists, professional groups, women's groups, ordinary
parents and workers -- many devout, even traditional, Muslims, but also
people of deep civility. Beyond the trauma of the present, it is with
this popular Islam that hope lies, and few Catholic figures of the 20th
century knew this world better, or loved it more, than Pierre Claverie.
* * *
Claverie was born in 1938 into a family of pieds-noirs, meaning
French settlers in Algeria. His family had been in the country for four
generations, so he felt himself fully Algerian. The greatest discovery
of his life came in his 20s, when he realized that he had been living
in what he called a "colonial bubble" -- the majority Arabs had been
essentially invisible to him, serving only as backdrop, as local color.
He was dismayed that his Christian upbringing had never challenged him
to step out of that bubble, to see the Arabs too as his "neighbor."
For the rest of his life, Claverie dedicated himself to overcoming
what he called "the abyss that separates us."
As a young Dominican, Claverie studied at the order's famed Le
Saulchoir house of studies outside Paris from 1959 to 1967, where he
encountered the work of towering French Dominican thinkers of his day
such as Marie-Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar. Unlike other young
priests of his generation, however, Claverie was never swept up in the
revolutionary currents that would crest in the Second Vatican Council
(1962-65) and later in the tumult of 1968. Instead, he was preparing
what he would later call his "Algerian vocation." Claverie mastered
Arabic, and while he was always a pastor rather than an academic, he
also acquired a deep understanding of Islamic spirituality and history.
When he returned to Algeria in 1967, the Catholic community was in
many ways a shell of its former self. Most of the pieds-noirs had gone
into exile in France, leaving the Catholic population dramatically
reduced. In that context, Claverie and other Catholic leaders were
forced to articulate a new logic for the church's presence in an
Islamic society. The option he embraced might best be described as an
"apostolate of friendship."
"One of my principal missions in Algeria," he said, "is to
establish, develop, and enrich a relationship, always, everywhere, and
with everyone." Claverie's faith was that basic human solidarity would
ultimately prove more powerful than theological divisions or historical
"I know enough Muslim friends who are also my brothers to think
that Islam knows how to be tolerant, fraternal," Claverie said.
"Dialogue is a work to which we must return without pause: it alone
lets us disarm the fanaticism, both our own and that of the other."
Claverie was never one for fashionable, politically correct forms
of inter-religious dialogue. He shunned large-scale Christian/Muslim
meetings, feeling that the slogans such encounters tend to generate,
such as that we are all "children of Abraham" and "people of the Book,"
or that we all believe in the "one God," artificially gloss over deep
theological and spiritual differences.
Claverie was certainly no Pollyanna when it came to the reality of
the Islamist threat, frequently denouncing "the cowardice of those who
kill in the shadows." His clear-eyed assessment led him into conflict
with the Community of Sant'Egidio, an international Catholic movement
known for its efforts in conflict resolution. In the mid-1990s,
Sant'Egidio sponsored a "Rome Platform" for dialogue among the warring
Algerian parties, including the extremists. Claverie and the other
Algerian bishops felt betrayed, arguing that the negotiations lent
legitimacy to forces butchering anyone who stood up for a non-Islamist
state. They also struggled to explain to democratic activists in
Algeria, who were laying down their lives to resist the Islamists, that
the Sant'Egidio initiative did not represent the official position of
the Catholic church.
Yet for all that, Claverie staked his life on two convictions:
first, that a democratic, tolerant Islamic society is possible; second,
that it's better to build up alternatives than to tear down what he
opposed. He worked tirelessly to foster a genuine civil society in
Algeria, creating libraries for students and researchers,
rehabilitation centers for the handicapped, and centers for educating
women. He would not permit "our love to be extinguished despite the
fury in our hearts, desiring peace and building it up in tiny steps,
refusing to join the chorus of howls, and remaining free while yet in
Claverie understood the peril such a choice implied.
"Reconciliation is not a simple affair," he wrote in 1995. "It
comes at a high price. It can also involve, as it did for Jesus, being
torn apart between irreconcilable opposites. An Islamist and a kafir
(infidel) cannot be reconciled. So, then, what's the choice? Well,
Jesus does not choose. He says, in effect, 'I love you all,' and he
Those words proved chillingly prophetic. Claverie was killed on
Aug. 1, 1996, just two months after the brutal beheading of seven
Trappist monks in Tibhirine, Algeria. He died alongside his Muslim
friend and driver, Mohamed Bouchikhi, when a bomb exploded in the
bishop's residence. As the two men lay dying, their blood mingled on
the floor, offering a metaphor for their common humanity running deeper
than differences of ethnicity, ideology and creed.
In the end, Claverie offers an antidote to facile theories about
Islam, of whatever sort, crafted at a distance. He was an artisan of
the patient, and often painful, work of building relationships,
overcoming stereotypes, and confronting painful truths with both
honesty and hope.
* * *
On Monday, I sat down at the Dominican's Friary of St. Vincent
Ferrer in New York for a conversation with Pérennčs, who
was in the country both to promote his book and to visit Claverie's
sister, Anne-Marie Gustavson, who lives in Highstown, New Jersey, with
her American husband. The full text of the interview can be found in
the Special Documents section of NCRonline.org. The following are
If you could put in just a few words what we can learn about
Christian/Muslim relations from the life of Bishop Pierre Claverie,
what is it?
I think the message is that to meet the other, to reach the other,
you first have to get out of your own closed world. All of us,
Christians and Muslims as well, must do this. Then, we must be able to
deal with the otherness of the other. Often we are looking for what is
like us in the other. We have to enjoy the difference, which means
having fun, taking pleasure in difference. I think Pierre in some ways
did that quite well.
He had a quite personal vision of inter-religious dialogue. He was
not so involved in the big events that took place after Vatican II, the
great Muslim/Christian conferences in Tripoli and Tunis and so on. He
thought they were often empty words, saying that we are all the "sons
of Abraham." He said no, our history is a difficult one, is a wounded
one. … We have to try to heal these wounded memories.
In 1963, Pope John XXIII received Alexi Adjubei, the son-in-law of
Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev. A story is told about that encounter
that may be apocryphal, but it nonetheless makes a point. Supposedly
Adjubei was surprised by the pope's warmth and said, "But Holy Father,
we have such different ideas," to which John XXIII is said to have
responded, "What are ideas among friends?" I have the sense that, to
some extent, that also captured the spirit of Claverie.
Exactly. Pierre used to say that if you build friendship with
somebody, it doesn't matter if you disagree at some stage. He was very
Mediterranean. He had a great gift for friendship, for enjoying parties
and being with people. He was quite social. Through this way, he was
able to have really wonderful contacts, even with some traditional
So is the point that friendships must come before formal
Yes, because if you start with formal theological exchanges, you
come very quickly to big, difficult problems. We will argue about the
Trinity and other matters, which requires a lot of skills, reflection,
and preparation to deal with it well. But if you start at the human
level, it's different. Often Claverie would say, 'We don't have the
words for dialogue yet.' So, let's start first by living together,
addressing together common challenges. This is what he tried to do in
his diocese, as in the other dioceses in Algeria. The aim was to build
what he called 'platforms of encounter,' meaning places where people
can work together on human rights, women's issues, and so on. Then you
feel that you are all human beings, you come closer to each other. It
will take a lot of time to really have a theological discussion.
Do you believe Claverie was killed in odium fidei?
Not directly. I don't think he was killed directly in odium fidei.
But he was killed because the message he was carrying, which is an
evangelical message, was so different from the mainstream. When you say
'I'm ready to give my life,' this comes from the gospel.
In your mind, is he a martyr?
Certainly. It's very clear. If you read the last texts he wrote,
he knew perfectly well that he was going to be killed, and he didn't
refuse this possibility. I know people with whom he talked about it.
What would he say?
He said, 'I don't know when it will happen, but I have to be
there, I have to fulfill my mission.'
Are the 19 Catholic martyrs of Algeria, in a way, representatives
of a much larger group of people who have given their lives?
I would say that. When Pierre was installed as bishop in Oran in
1981, we were a lot of Christians and few Muslims. When he was buried,
the Muslims were the majority. Last year, in June 1996, we organized a
kind of commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his death. There were
400 people over two days, mainly Muslims. For me, this is the evidence
that his message is getting through. The group included young people
who never met him, but they told us, 'We have heard of him and want to
know who he was.' This to me shows that his choice was the right one,
to be courageous until the end, like Jesus did. On the way to
Jerusalem, he knew what was going to happen. His disciples said, "We
are scared, you shouldn't go.' Just as I said to Pierre, 'You should
protect yourself.' This was a choice he shared with many Algerians,
Christian and Muslim.
The fundamental problem with Sant'Egidio's Rome Platform, as
Claverie and the other bishops saw it, was including the Islamic
Salvation Front without any conditions, such as renouncing violence?
Exactly. They were not asked at the beginning to reject violence,
as a preamble to negotiations. But the FLN was also a problem. [The
National Liberation Front, which has been the dominant force in Algeria
since the era of the anti-colonialist movement in the late 1950s and
early 1960s.] The Rome Platform focused on these two fronts, the FIS
and the FLN. The bishops' friends were the people in between, people at
the grassroots, small parties, people building democracy. If you play
this game [with the two fronts], you forget everyone else. It's like
Bush and bin-Laden, the one responding to the other. In between there
are many people who trying to live together in another way. The
democratic movements in Algeria were very upset with this conference
Are there any broader lessons from the life and witness of Bishop
Claverie that can help the church in trying to frame the moral context
for a proper response to terrorism?
I think his answer is that often we think there is no alternative
to violence and conflict. I think his life is a way of saying, there is
an alternative, there are other ways. You have to find them, maybe you
have to build them, you have to build these bridges, but they do exist.
Don't be naďve, but don't become trapped between these two
alternatives -- resignation or violence. Build together other paths,
Among his Arab friends, are their people whose hearts and minds
were really changed by Claverie?
Definitely. When we had this meeting last year, it was amazing to
see how many people were thinking of him, showing us the letters they
got from him. … I met an Algerian economist, for example. At the
celebration, we had a spiritual evening. We couldn't say that it was a
religious event, but it was a spiritual evening in the basement of the
cathedral where he's buried. We had two choirs, one a Sufi group from
Algeria and another of black African students from Taizé. They
sung in Arabic and French, and there were also pictures of Claverie and
readings from his texts. At the end, we all went with candles to
Pierre's tomb. I found myself with a very famous Algerian economist, a
Muslim. I asked him, 'What are you doing here?' He said that, 'Pierre
is not only yours. He was the bishop of Oran, of all of us.'
How did Claverie feel about prayer with Muslims? Would he do it?
I don't think so, because in dialogue you have to have clear
identities. I don't think he would be a man to say, 'We can mix
everything.' He would say, 'I respect their prayer, they pray for me
and I pray for them, but each of us has our own tradition.'
You tell a story in your book about a Muslim who was visiting
Claverie, who said he had to leave in order to make it home in time to
say his prayers. Claverie insisted that he stay, telling him that he
could say his prayers in the bishop's house
He even told him, 'It is an honor for me today that you are
praying in my home.' He was not praying with him, but he was
acknowledging the possibility of somebody else having a real prayer
Claverie managed to combine strong identity and radical openness.
He was a unique witness to this.
Cardinal Martino on 50 Years of Priesthood
"The Most Difficult Moment Was
ROME, SEPT. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Though Cardinal Renato Martino
wanted to be a missionary, his poor health prohibited him from
following that dream. Instead, he joined the Holy See's diplomatic
service and in this way, he says, fulfilled his great desire to
Cardinal Martino is now the president of two pontifical councils:
the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace, and the Pastoral Care of
Migrants and Travelers. This summer he celebrated the golden
anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, a vocation with which
he says he is "still enchanted."
In this interview with ZENIT, the 74-year-old prelate reflects on
some of the milestones of his ministry.
Q: Your Eminence, how did you discern your vocation?
Cardinal Martino: I come from a family marked by faith and
Catholic tradition, with a wonderful mother, who was also an artist.
The holy card marking my 50th anniversary to the priesthood, with the
Virgin and Child, was painted by her. [I had] a strict father and four
brothers and sisters. A large family, totaling 56 people at Christmas
gatherings; I have 13 nephews and nieces and 26 great-nephews and
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a missionary. I was
fascinated by the Jesuit missionary preachers who came to Naples, to
Unfortunately, the dream very soon vanished, because I was too
frail and the doctors told me clearly that my constitution would not
endure in missionary lands.
My desire to carry the Gospel to the world took on another path.
Through a number of circumstances, I frequented the Vatican Diplomatic
Academy, the oldest in the world and, since 1962, I have worked with
the nunciatures of Nicaragua, Philippines, Lebanon, Canada and Brazil.
Between 1970 and 1975, I was in charge of the section for
international organizations in the Secretariat of State. Subsequently,
on Sept. 14, 1980, the Pope at that time, John Paul II, sent me as
pro-nuncio to Thailand, as apostolic delegate, to attend to the
relations with Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and Brunei.
In 1986, I was appointed permanent observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations in New York and, in that capacity, I took part in the
major international conferences promoted by the United Nations during
the 90s, particularly in New York, 1990, at the World Summit for
Children; in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992, at the Conference on
Environment and Development; in Barbados, 1994, at the Conference on
Small Island Developing States and, that same year, in Cairo, at the
Conference on Population and Development.
In Beijing, China, 1995, at the World Conference on Women; in
Istanbul, Turkey, 1996, at the Conference on Human Settlements; in
Rome, 1998, at the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the
Establishment of an International Criminal Court; in New York, 2000, at
the Millennium Summit;
In Monterrey, Mexico, 2003, at the International Conference on
Financing for Development. Also, in Madrid, Spain, at the World
Assembly on Aging, and, that same year, in Johannesburg, South Africa,
at the Conference on Sustainable Development.
Q: You have had to face many difficult situations, including
frequent disagreements with United Nations offices and delegations
that, particularly in the 90s, were especially critical of the Holy
See, above all with regard to demographic policies, abortion,
contraception ... Could you comment on this experience?
Cardinal Martino: The most difficult moment was in 1994, in Cairo,
during the Conference on Population and Development. President Bill
Clinton's administration, together with a greater part of the developed
countries, were determined to get the conference to recognize abortion
as an international right.
Some nongovernmental organizations even requested that the Vatican
delegation be expelled from the United Nations. But with the Lord's
help and thanks to the support, on that occasion, of Latin American and
Islamic-majority countries, we succeeded in rejecting the attempt to
approve abortion as a contraceptive method.
As head of the Vatican delegation, I managed to obtain the support
of 43 delegations and to ensure that paragraph 8.25 of the final
document adopted by the conference should declare that "on no account
may abortion be invoked as a family planning method."
This regulation remains in force to this day, despite frequent and
continuous attempts to eliminate it. So far, voluntary interruption of
pregnancy, which, unfortunately, is still a dramatic phenomenon these
days, has never been approved by any United Nations body.
Q: What mission to you look back upon with most satisfaction?
Cardinal Martino: From May 15 to 21 this year, at the express
request and in representation of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, I
visited Ivory Coast, a country torn by a long period of strife and
During my stay, I celebrated the Eucharist in several cities and
parochial communities; I met with the bishops and highest authorities
in the country. Particularly, I attended a meeting with the President,
Laurent Gbagbo, who appointed as his prime minister former rebel chief,
Guillaume Soro, a brilliant 34-year-old Catholic.
In order to give consistency and solidity to the peace agreements,
I invited both of them to the solemn Mass I celebrated in St. Paul's
Cathedral, in Abidjan, on May 20.
The cathedral was crowded with faithful, together with the bishops
and civil authorities. I encouraged the people of Ivory Coast to
continue along the way of peace and to promote national reconciliation
and the participation of all the country's living forces, without any
form of political, religious, cultural or ethnic exclusion.
When the time came to exchange a gesture of peace, I invited the
president of the republic and the prime minister to come up to the
altar to receive my peace gesture. After that, I invited them to
exchange peace with each other: They hugged each other, assuring that
this would last -- a great gesture of reconciliation, before the
applause of several thousand people.
All this was transmitted live by the national television channel.
I instructed them never to forget that day, should difficulties arise
in the future, because this was a historical gesture, a commitment of
peace and concord sealed in the cathedral, before God. To all the
people of Ivory Coast, to the numerous innocent victims, to the groups
of those displaced, to those wounded, and to so many others, I
expressed the spiritual closeness of the Holy Father and, in his name,
I offered some financial help toward the primary needs of those in most
This was the most effective way of presenting the Compendium of
the Social Doctrine of the Church, and its practical application.
I have also been thanked for this meeting and for the
reinforcement of the peace process by the secretary-general of the
United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who I had met before he took on that
position, because he represented South Korea before the United Nations
during the same period as my stay in New York, where I attended to a
group of South Korean Catholics.
For 18 years, I administrated confirmation to members of this
group. I saw Ban Ki-moon in Rome, when the promotion of his candidature
had not yet begun, and I told him I was sure of his election. He looked
at me in surprise, incredulously. I assured him: We'll talk about it
after your election. I'm sure you will do a lot of good.
Q: On Oct. 1, 2002, John Paul II called you to Rome, to take over
the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, but as head of this
dicastery, you continued your travels throughout the world ...
Cardinal Martino: Taking on the direction of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace and, since March 11, 2006, also that of
the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers,
allows me to sustain and prolong the task of evangelization which I
wished to carry out from the days of my youth.
The publication and diffusion of the Compendium of the Social
Doctrine of the Church was a stimulating task. As I noted in the
introduction to the volume, "transforming social realities with the
power of the Gospel, to which witness is borne by women and men
faithful to Jesus Christ, has always been a challenge and it remains so
today at the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era."
I am fully aware that the announcement of Jesus Christ is not
easily swallowed in the world today, but precisely because of that, the
people of our time are in need, more than ever, of faith that saves, of
hope that enlightens, and of charity that loves.
These are the reasons that move the Church to intervene with its
teachings in the social field, in order to help and accompany Catholics
in serving the common good.
Q: Is there something that you would like to accomplish but which
you have been unable to?
Cardinal Martino: I have no regrets. I am still enchanted with the
priesthood. I thank the Lord every day for the grace of the priesthood.
I have celebrated more than 19,000 masses, and each one of them has
been a real gift to me, because, even if my role had only been that of
celebrating the Eucharist alone or for a small community, I would,
however, be grateful to the Lord for having had the opportunity to
nun found peace in the rugged red of the Kimberley
2nd September 2007, 8:45 WST
At the end, it was
just a few lines in a newspaper — the death of an 88-year-old woman
near Beagle Bay, apparently after becoming disoriented while out for a
walk. But a few lines could never do justice to the commitment of
Sister Bernadette O’Connor, a Sister of St John of God who devoted her
life to the care of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
Sister Bernadette was the last of the Irish-born Sisters of St
John to come to Australia as a novice or to undertake their novitiate
These women pledged their lives to the compassionate care of
others, exchanging the soft green of Ireland for the harsh red beauty
of the Kimberley. The mark of their dedication remains in the people of
the Kimberley and set a pattern for the sisters who followed them.
Sister Bernadette spent the last 30 years in Beagle Bay. She was
determined she would die and be buried there. So she did and so she
will, with her great friend, Sister Ita, who shared the journey from
Ireland in 1940. Sadly, Sister Ita died from a tropical infection after
just six months in the Kimberley, a blow that affected Sister
Bernadette for ever.
Each day until her death, Sister Bernadette would head out for a
long walk — a familiar, wiry speck of a woman always in a long-sleeved
dress, always carrying a stick and always with a dog. No one was ever
sure where she was going or how long she’d be.
“She didn’t like to be confined,” Sister Pat Rhatigan, Sister
Bernadette’s colleague and supporter in her final years, said.
Last week, when she did not return, many of her searchers were
people whose own lives had been enriched by her.
She apparently became disoriented during this final walk and died,
as she had always hoped, in the country she loved so much.
In the last few years there had been no other sister to live with
her at isolated Beagle Bay, but she insisted on staying, so her great
Aboriginal friend Olive Dann would come to the little convent each
night and stay with her. The sisters celebrate the centenary of their
presence in the Kimberley this year.
Sister Bernadette was born Margaret Ellen O’Connor in Cloween,
near the village of Dronmore West in County Sligo. At 20, she read
about the Sisters of St John working with black babies in Australia and
decided that was how she would spend her life.
The war prevented her coming to Australia so, with her friend
Eileen McPartland, later Sister Ita, they entered the sisterhood at
Wexford in 1939 and a year later set sail for Perth. It was another six
weeks before anyone was available to take them first to Broome and then
on to Beagle Bay in the back of a truck to complete their novitiate
year. The two shared the adventure and undoubted hardship of this
isolated life until Sister Ita’s death.
The next year, Bernadette went to Broome to continue her training
and help at the Holy Child Orphanage, returning to Beagle Bay with the
children when the war got too close. She returned to Broome in 1945
after making her final vows, spent years at the Derby Leprosarium, now
known as Bungarun, and in the 1960s worked at Balgo, returning to
Beagle Bay in the mid-70s. She also spent many years at the Lombadina
Djarindjin community north of Beagle Bay, where her memory is dearly
There are 10 Sisters of St John still in the Kimberley, in Broome
and Derby, continuing the selfless work of their predecessors. The
order was formed in 1871 as Ireland was emerging from years of
oppression and famine. At the invitation of Bishop Thomas Furlong, a
group of women formed a ministry to relieve the suffering of the poor
of the Wexford district and chose St John as their patron for his care
of the poor.
In 1895, the group helped victims of the Goldfields typhoid
Scullin, James Henry (1876 - 1953)
Australia's first Catholic Prime Minister
SCULLIN, JAMES HENRY (1876-1953), grocer, newspaper editor and prime
minister, was born on 18 September 1876 at Trawalla, Victoria, fifth
child of John Scullin, railway platelayer, and his wife Ann, née
Logan, Irish Catholic migrants from Derry.
James was educated at small state schools, at Trawalla in 1881-87 and
at Mount Rowan, near Ballarat, until about 14, then at night school in
Ballarat. He made good use of the public library, reading avidly,
including Irish writers and many of the British classics.
More active in the Catholic Young Men's Society than in the Australian
Natives' Association, he developed debating skills, leading to a thirty
year association with Ballarat's South Street Society competitions as a
successful contestant and respected adjudicator.
James had various part-time manual jobs in the Ballarat district until
his mid-twenties. Then for ten years he ran a grocer's shop at Ballarat
for James McKay & Sons. About 1903 he joined the Political Labor
Council and helped in Labor's campaigning in State elections.
In 1906 he was Labor's candidate for Ballarat in the Federal election
against Alfred Deakin, the prime minister. He then became a political
organizer for the Australian Workers' Union, helping to form branches
of the P.L.C. in the western half of the State, and publicizing the
On 11 November 1907, in St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat, he married
Sarah Maria McNamara, a dressmaker born in Ballarat of southern Irish
parentage; they had no children.
Scullin won the south-west Victorian seat of Corangamite at the 1910
Federal elections, when Labor under Fisher became the first party to
win a majority in both houses of parliament.
Scullin quickly impressed with his abilities. He spoke frequently, on a
wide range of issues, but concentrated on moves to increase the powers
of the Federal parliament and on measures such as a land tax.
A Leading Opponent Of Conscription
He lost Corangamite in the 1913 elections, then became, until 1922,
editor of a Labor daily, the Ballarat Evening Echo. In 1916-17 he was a
leading opponent of conscription.
At Labor's special interstate conference in Melbourne in December 1916
he moved the motion to confirm the expulsion of all who had supported
conscription for overseas military service.
At the State annual conference of 1917 he spoke forcefully but
unavailingly against the move to abandon Labor's commitment to
compulsory military service for home defence.
In 1918-19 he was president of the party's Victorian branch. At the
interstate conference in Perth he persuaded delegates to maintain
Labor's support for compulsory training, although that policy was later
In 1918 Scullin unsuccessfully contested a by-election for Corangamite.
He became more radical and inflammatory, especially in his assessments
of the war and in his support for the Irish struggle against British
At the Brisbane interstate conference in October 1921 he was prominent
in persuading the party to adopt the socialization objective.
Scullin was endorsed for Yarra and elected in 1922, following the death
of F. G. Tudor. This seat he held until 1949, moving home from Ballarat
As soon as he re-entered parliament he plunged into the controversies
over the industrial legislation of the Bruce-Page government, and its
changes to Federal-State financial relations, became an authority on
taxation and began to voice concern over the state of the economy.
In March 1927 he became deputy leader, following Frank Anstey's
Scullin had mellowed on some, but not all, issues since his firebrand,
pro-Irish, socialist phase of the early post-war years. Within the
framework of his commitment to Labor he held other fundamental beliefs.
He remained a devout Roman Catholic, some of the Church's teachings,
for example Rerum novarum, influencing him on questions of social
An Australian nationalist, he preferred unification to the Federal
system. He was a strong supporter of the White Australia policy and of
high protection for manufacturing industries.
A Man of Decent Character
Scullin was of medium height and trim build. He had handsome, regular
features, which afforded cartoonists little scope for caricature.
Several times while party leader he suffered bouts of ill health, but
recovered well until the development from 1935 of serious illnesses.
A busy public life left him little time to read fiction, although his
interest remained. He played the violin, but was little interested in
art, although his wife painted as a hobby.
He was somewhat puritanical, which influenced his attitude towards
literary censorship, but left him generally opposed to political
censorship. His public life was studded with references, even by
political enemies, to his decent character.
No whisper of any scandal ever touched him, which distinguished him
from some other Labor politicians. He had modest tastes. While prime
minister he declined, as an economy measure, to live in the Lodge, and
retained a modest home in Richmond.
He was over 60 before he bought a house, at Hawthorn, which could be
termed comfortable. He was a non-smoking teetotaller. He played bowls,
but in adult life took little interest in other sports.
In 1927 Scullin began a remarkable series of speeches attacking the
government's economic policy. His arguments partly paralleled those of
Edward Shann's brief, prescient The Boom of 1890—and Now.
Scullin stressed the dangers in the adverse trade balance and the
growing external debt and, alone among parliamentarians, gave an
essentially accurate economic forecast for the coming years.
Australia's First Catholic Prime Minister
On 26 April 1928 he succeeded Matthew Charlton as Labor leader. The
party was in its normal state of disharmony, as left-wingers and
moderates denounced each other.
There were two Labor parties, said one commentator, 'sundered as widely
as the poles in ideals and purposes and methods'. Scullin already had
clashed with J. T. Lang and had been involved in the thankless task of
trying to restore unity between hostile factions in the New South Wales
Despite internecine rivalries and strikes, Scullin gained eight seats
at the 1928 elections. In 1929 economic troubles intensified, and
strikes increased, but when the ill-judged attempt by Prime Minister
Bruce to dismantle the Commonwealth arbitration system precipitated an
early election, circumstances strongly favoured Scullin.
On 12 October he led Labor to a sweeping victory, with 46 of the 75
full-voting seats in the lower house. He thereby became Australia's
first Catholic prime minister, and the first native-born Labor prime
minister. His ministry of thirteen included the deputy leader, E. G.
Theodore, as treasurer.
Scullin became prime minister as the New York Stock Exchange crashed,
which attracted minimal attention in the Australian press, at the time
more concerned with domestic economic troubles. His forecasts were
He was appalled at the desperate state of the economy he inherited
which was encumbered by debt, growing unemployment and slumping export
prices. He faced various constraints in devising a policy to deal with
the faltering economy.
There was an established body of opinion as to what constituted sound
finance. Scullin himself had wisely if unavailingly advocated 'sound'
financial and economic policies in 1927-28. Orthodox views on credit
expansion were held even more rigidly by Sir Robert Gibson, chairman of
the Commonwealth Bank Board.
The government lacked the legislative power to insist that Gibson
implement its policy, for example, on credit expansion, and the size of
the note issue was also restricted. Amending legislation could not be
passed without the approval of the National and Country parties, for
the Opposition controlled the Senate.
Scullin's first months as prime minister were dogged by a lockout
of miners on the northern coalfields of New South Wales. He failed in
several moves to redeem an unwise election promise by Theodore to have
the mines quickly reopened, paying the wage rates stipulated by the men.
When the miners were forced back to work on the employers' terms
Scullin was criticized, unreasonably, for this outcome, which was the
result of market forces.
By the end of 1929 he had some small achievements to his credit, such
as the suspension of compulsory military training. He raised tariffs on
imports, abandoned the gold standard, increased social service payments
and reduced assisted immigration.
But the economy continued to deteriorate and by March 1930 parliament
faced 'depression without parallel'. To reduce the adverse balance of
trade Scullin raised tariffs further and launched a 'Grow More Wheat'
campaign to increase exports.
Expenditure from loan funds was cut by half during 1930, thus
accentuating the fall in business activity. Difficulties in redeeming
the overseas short-term debt caused Scullin to agree to a mission, led
by Sir Otto Niemeyer from the Bank of England, to examine Australia's
Scullin brought down his first budget on 9 July, only hours after
Theodore resigned from cabinet following the release of a Queensland
royal commission report which cast doubt on his probity, in that while
State premier in 1922 he profited through the purchase by the
government of mines at Mungana.
The budget increased income tax and postal charges and introduced sales
tax. Scullin planned to increase expenditure compared with 1929-30,
while claiming the budget would balance.
Two Controversial Decisions
In August at a special premiers' conference in Melbourne Niemeyer
expounded his solution for the crisis—to reduce wage rates and
government expenditure, including social service outlays. Scullin
subscribed to the Melbourne agreement to balance budgets, and was
denounced for so doing by Labor leaders in Sydney.
As unemployment rose over 20 per cent in September argument intensified
between advocates of Niemeyer's deflationary policy and those who
wanted to expand credit to finance public works programmes to provide
jobs for the unemployed.
While argument raged over the Melbourne agreement Scullin made two more
controversial decisions, to renew Gibson's term as chairman of the
Commonwealth Bank Board and to attend the Imperial Conference in London.
While he was absent (25 August until 6 January 1931) he secured the
appointment—not without conflict with King George V—of Sir Isaac
Isaacs, the first Australian-born governor-general.
He claimed to have persuaded the British government to drop plans to
abandon an Imperial preference tariff in favour of Australian wine,
dried fruits and sugar, and was able to get Britain to agree to reduce
the Commonwealth government's annual interest payments by Ł1.6
Scullin had not intended Federal parliament to sit during his absence,
but it had to do so because of the constantly worsening financial
On 25 October Lang, who repudiated the Melbourne agreement, won the New
South Wales election, exacerbating noisy arguments in caucus between
the 'inflationists' and the supporters of the Melbourne agreement.
The absent Scullin supported his acting prime minister J. E. Fenton and
acting treasurer J. A. Lyons, but expenditure cuts of only Ł1.3
million were implemented, compared with the Ł4 million planned by
On his return, on 26 January Scullin persuaded caucus to reinstate
Theodore as treasurer. This offended Fenton and Lyons who on 4 February
resigned from cabinet before joining Labor's opponents in the newly
created United Australia Party.
On 31 January Labor lost a Sydney by-election (Parkes) caused by (Sir)
Edward McTiernan's elevation to the High Court of Australia against
Scullin's wishes. In February another special premiers' conference was
marked by total disagreement between Scullin and Lang over a Depression
Scullin supported Theodore's plan, which relied on substantial credit
from the Commonwealth Bank. Lang urged the repudiation of overseas
interest payments and reduction of interest to 3 per cent on government
borrowings in Australia.
When Lang's supporter E. J. Ward won a Federal East Sydney by-election
(7 March) Scullin ruled him ineligible to join caucus as he had been
returned on a State, not Federal, Labor economic policy. Ward and other
Lang followers thereupon joined a group led by J. A. Beasley, a former
minister, which held the balance of power in the House of
Gibson then refused to grant Scullin further credit unless he reduced
pensions, which he declined to do. So the government approved a note
issue of Ł18 million, requiring special legislation. On 27 March
a federal conference of the A.L.P. expelled Lang's branch. Days later,
Lang defaulted on interest due to the Westminster Bank.
When Scullin paid the interest but took steps to recover the money from
New South Wales, the Commonwealth Bank then had to negotiate a merger
with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, to stem a run on
its deposits. On 17 April the Senate rejected the fiduciary notes bill
and the problem of meeting overseas short-term debt interest reached
Scullin attempted to ship gold to London for this purpose, but again
the Senate rejected the necessary bill and he was faced either with
defaulting—which he had vowed never to do—or coming to terms with the
Opposition and accepting further expenditure cuts.
A Disasterous Election
The result was the premiers' conference of May-June 1931, which agreed
to restructure Australia's public finances on the 'equality of
Australian resident bondholders accepted a 22.5 per cent cut in their
interest, and all adjustable government expenditure, including salaries
and pensions, was cut by 20 per cent to help balance budgets.
Lang agreed to this plan, as did the Federal Opposition, whose leaders
attended some of the conference's later sessions, but it divided
caucus: half Scullin's party later voted against the plan in
parliament, although he persuaded both the federal executive and a
special federal conference that the Premiers' Plan was essential.
The Opposition kept its part of the bargain and the Senate passed
legislation to authorize the shipping of gold. The plan had allowed for
some expansion of Commonwealth Bank credit, but Scullin had limited
success in persuading Gibson to relent.
The bank released a further Ł2.8 million instead of the Ł5
million requested by Scullin, but some further credit provided a bounty
on the 1931-32 wheat crop.
The plan bought Scullin a few months of relative calm, an internal
conversion loan was successful and interest rates continued to fall.
Governments began to reduce their deficits and wool and wheat prices
In November Lang chose to eject the Scullin government and so remove
Theodore from Federal politics: Lang's Federal supporters accused
Theodore of corruption in distributing unemployment relief. Beasley
demanded an inquiry. Scullin refused. So the Beasley group joined with
the United Australia Party, led by Lyons, to vote Scullin out of office.
Although he fought a vigorous campaign, making much use of radio, the
election of 19 December was a disaster for Scullin. His party won only
fourteen seats. He fared worst in New South Wales; only in Queensland
was there a swing to Labor. Lyons succeeded Scullin as prime minister
on 6 January 1932.
Leader of Opposition
Scullin's reputation as prime minister has suffered at the hands of
polemicists who ignore some of the financial problems facing him,
problems not of his making. Much of the damage to the economy had been
done before he entered office.
Had the Bruce-Page government followed his earlier advice about curbing
overseas borrowing and reducing the trade deficit Australia would have
been better placed to face the world-wide economic catastrophe.
Scullin had always known that a borrower nation could not afford to
repudiate overseas debt obligations, but he also opposed cuts in social
welfare and wages.
By mid-1931 these twin aims had become incompatible, because the
Commonwealth government's London creditors refused to extend further
credit unless Scullin made the cuts needed to achieve a balanced
budget, and because the Senate blocked his gold-shipping alternative.
Scullin took deficit budgeting to the limit of what was politically
possible. The Premiers' Plan was politically inevitable; as J. M.
Keynes said, it 'saved the economic structure of Australia'; and it was
overwhelmingly endorsed by voters at the 1931 election.
Seven who had been ministers, including Theodore, lost their seats at
this election. No one in caucus could challenge Scullin's leadership.
As an Opposition leader he was weakened by small numbers and the battle
Scullin tried to take a middle position in the contest between Lyons
and Lang which led to Lang's dismissal from office and his 1932
election defeat. Scullin welcomed the action taken by Lyons in May 1932
to allow the reserve against the note issue to be held in either
sterling or gold.
Thereby conservatives began to change the rules of public finance which
they had adhered to rigorously while in opposition so as to coerce
Scullin. He consistently defended his tariff, notably in debating the
Ottawa agreement: in the event, his tariffs of 1929-31 were only
He deserves much of the credit for persuading Lyons to abandon a
proposal in September 1932 to reduce the old-age pension from 17s. 6d.
to 15s. a week. A year later he objected to Lyons reducing taxation in
preference to increasing pensions.
He heavily emphasized banking reform, making this the centrepiece of
his election campaign in 1934. Although he did not advocate bank
nationalization, in speeches and articles he urged major changes in the
banking system to bring it under firm government control.
Mainly at his instigation the federal Labor conference in 1933 adopted
as an objective 'complete control of banking and credit … in the hands
of the people'.
World War II
Much of Scullin's time was occupied with the unpleasant task of trying
to reconcile the two Labor parties in New South Wales. No progress had
been made by the Federal election of 1934, which was a more crushing
disappointment to Scullin than its predecessor.
His party gained four seats, but its share of the vote fell slightly.
Scullin's health was failing, and he did not take part in a crucial
by-election (Newcastle) in June 1935 which marked the beginning of
Federal Labor's resurgence in New South Wales. On 1 October he resigned
the leadership to John Curtin.
In the remaining pre-war years Scullin stayed in the background, rarely
speaking in parliament. He made his biggest impact in persuading the
government to expand the scope of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. A
member of its committee, he assessed manuscripts for possible fund
Scullin strongly endorsed the Menzies government's decision to go to
war in September 1939. He had much to say about war finance and
probably could have gained a portfolio in Curtin's cabinet, had he
wanted. He occupied an office between Curtin and J. B. Chifley. He
helped in various capacities, for example, as chairman, from April
1942, of the Press Advisory Committee on Censorship.
Early in 1942 he was one of the three-member Commonwealth committee on
uniform taxation. Following this committee's report, widely differing
State taxes on income were replaced by a uniform Federal tax; Scullin
made some of the most important contributions to the debate in May 1942
on the four requisite bills.
Although ill, he attended a caucus meeting on 9 December 1942 to help
Curtin to defeat a move by A. A. Calwell to overturn the government's
In 1943-44, after recovering from serious illness, Scullin was a member
of a joint parliamentary committee which recommended the
'pay-as-you-earn' system of income tax collection, which was quickly
accepted by parliament.
He was active in the 1946 election campaign and thereafter Chifley
entrusted him with a few minor tasks. After his last parliamentary
speeches on 8 May 1947 he was usually absent ill until he retired in
In 1951 an Australian Industries Development Association fund raised
nearly Ł4400 in recognition of Scullin's work while prime
minister in protecting Australian industries. It increased his
financial assets by one half, and he invested most of it in Australian
Survived by his wife, Scullin died on 28 January 1953. He was given a
state funeral and was buried in Melbourne General cemetery: Archbishop
Mannix presided at a requiem Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral.
Over his grave a tall granite Celtic cross was erected, on behalf of
the Australian labour movement. His portrait by W. B. McInnes hangs in
Parliament House, Canberra.
To love without measure - Father Luis
Ruiz By Greg Manning
The measure of love is to love without measure. St Augustine
In China, thousands of lepers and their
families are being cared for, and are finding
hope and love, through the work of a remarkable man. He is Father Luis
Ruiz, a Jesuit priest, who treks about the Chinese mainland finding
colonies of lepers eking out an existence without the most basic
To this day, there remains a gut fear of leprosy which often prevents
sufferers from receiving adequate medical attention. As well as
suffering the physical deformity and sensory deprivation of the
disease, lepers are effectively exiled from society, wounded
psychologically and emotionally.
Statistics are cold-blooded counters that say nothing of the love that
is the stock in trade of the men and women committed to caring for
these least of our brethren. Nonetheless the statistics are
• Over 8000 patients cared for in 139 centres; the families and
children of many of the lepers are also ministered to;
• Fifteen roads built, 17 schools, 5 bridges;
• Seven mobile clinics manned and operated;
• Twenty-five systems for clean drinking water established; 21 systems
Countless tragic cases can be cited, each with its own unique burden of
sadness. Sam Qui Heng, who is now 70, contracted leprosy at the age of
six. His mother, who clearly could not cope, began abusing him, calling
him names, sometimes hitting him, and always blaming him for his
condition. When his younger sister died of an unrelated illness, his
mother blamed him for her death. He discovered that she intended to
bury him with his sister in a cave and he ran away. Some months later,
at the age of seven, begging on the streets, he was found by government
authorities and sent to the isolated island leprosarium of Tai Kam. He
never left. This little boy and others like him were abandoned to the
care of strangers as crippled and wounded as they themselves.
Leprosy can now be healed, but the people in the care of Father Luis,
and the men and women working with him, have long been
devastated by the disease and ostracised by society as effectively as
any leper Christ was likely to come across.
Where did it all start?
In 1984, Father Luis Ruiz received a letter from a Chinese priest,
Father Lino Wong, who had been released from prison. On returning to
his parish in Guandong Province Father Lino had become aware of the
appalling living conditions of nearby lepers and he sought Father Luis’
help. The following year Father Luis travelled to the leprosarium on
the island of Tai Kam. There were over 200 lepers in that place and
their living conditions were very bad—no clean drinking water, no
electricity, houses falling apart. Father Luis immediately began
providing financial assistance to the lepers and, finally, with the
approval of the local government and health authorities, he rebuilt the
Health authorities in other regions saw the work being done in Tai Kam
and invited Father Luis to help with their leprosariums. By 1994 he was
working full-time with people suffering from leprosy and their
families. He says, ‘Nothing is happier than to make people
Who is this man?
Father Luis was born in 1913, in Asturias, Spain. He joined the Jesuits
in 1930. In 1941 he began missionary work in China, was interrupted by
the war, and resumed after the war. He was imprisoned when the
Communists took control of China and, after a brief period, was
expelled from the country.
Still recovering from typhoid contracted in prison, he was told by his
Provincial to stay in Macau, at the time a Portuguese colony, until he
was well. He never left. Within a month he was working with refugees.
By the time China reclaimed Macau from Portugal in 1969, it is
estimated that Father Luis had been instrumental in sheltering over
Between 1970 and 1976 Father Luis opened and operated Caritas Macau. He
established five centres to care for the aged and for young men and
women with mental disabilities. During that time he enlisted the help
of the Sisters of Charity of St Anne, who have since played an
important part in caring for the lepers.
Father Luis is high in his praise of the Sisters. He says they
have made many things possible. By 1994 his work with the
lepers was overwhelming and he handed the Caritas operation back to the
diocese of Macau so that he could devote himself totally to
working with lepers.
In 2005 Father Luis accepted an offer from the government
of Hunan Province to set up an HIV/AIDS Centre. With the help of the
Sisters, in April 2005 the HIV/AIDS Caring Centre was established in
Hongjian situated on the upper Yuan River. Two doctors who specialise
in HIV/AIDS treatment visit the centre and are on call in case of
Where to now?
The organisation in Macau that has developed to cope with this work
among lepers, and now HIV/Aids patients, is known as Casa Ricci Social
Services. Father Luis is the current Director. The Society of Jesus
is planning for the future of the work and Father Luis is
being shadowed by three Jesuits, ensuring its continuance.
The work is vital. Many of the lepers are without limbs, some are
blind, many have wounds that will never heal. Often HIV/AIDS sufferers
contract the disease from contaminated medical equipment
when they sell their blood to meet the cost of
most basic family needs. Father Luis and his Jesuit colleagues, with
the Sisters, make it possible for these people to live with dignity and
Father Luis says, ‘Our Father in heaven has provided for a people in
need. I always had to rely on God's help. I cannot explain otherwise
how we managed economically through all the years’.
Local government agencies provide some financial assistance for each
patient, for living and medical expenses.
Friends of Father Luis from many countries make up the shortfall that
keeps the work going. He says, ‘It is very funny now
because I was never worried about the money’.
Obviously, God was, and is, because the demands on Father Luis and his
colleagues are continuous and increasing.
If in a very practical way you would like to be part of this
extraordinary work, please send your tax deductible donation to Father
Steve Curtin SJ, Jesuit Mission, PO Box 193, North Sydney, NSW 2059, or
call in to the office at 31 West Street, North Sydney. Please make sure
to mention that the donation is intended for the work of
Father Luis Ruiz with lepers and AIDS sufferers in China.
Father Luis knows everyone who supports his work and prays for them
(This article is based on reports written by Derek Boylan and Jamie
O'Brien who went to China for the Perth Record and is informed by
letters received from Father Luis by a group of Sydney supporters.)
Out of Virtue, Greatness: Washington as
Aristotle's Magnanimous Man
Dr. Jose Yulo | July 4, 2007
"Of all the advantages that accrue from philosophy, these I reckon the
chiefest. To bear prosperity like a gentleman is the mark of a man, to
deprecate envy the mark of a disciplined character, to rise superior to
pleasure by reason the mark of a sage, to govern anger the mark of an
extraordinary man. But perfect men I regard as those who are able to
mingle and fuse political capacity with philosophy." -- Plutarch
"In Aristotelian terms, the good leader must have ethos, pathos and
logos. The ethos is his moral character, the source of his ability to
persuade. The pathos is his ability to touch feelings, to move people
emotionally. The logos is his ability to give solid reasons for an
action, to move people intellectually." -- Mortimer Adler
In every human generation, especially in times when the national
identity is rent by factions and foes within and without, it becomes
common practice to turn to the august dawn of a people's founders. Few,
if any, of this particular nation's early leaders match the awe with
which history accords to the first American President, George
Deemed by historians America's Cincinnatus, Washington's life and
actions uncannily emulated the early Roman statesman's classic virtue.
After serving as one of republican Rome's consuls, Cincinnatus was
called on not once, but twice to the office of dictator. The position
then was radically different from the modern usage of the term. In
essence, it was an emergency, temporary office, during which one man
could deal, with streamlined efficiency, with the threats that beset
his city. Cincinnatus, apart from his successes in this office, was
most noted by the historian Livy for what he did after victory was won,
returning near absolute power and retiring to a quiet farming life
In his recent book Revolutionary Characters (Penguin, 2006), Brown
University historian Gordon S. Wood wrote of Washington's parallel to
the tale by Livy. In contrast to lesser political figures both ancient
and modern, Washington did not feel the need to embellish upon his
reputation. Quoting from a French source, Wood recounted that the
general "...speaks of the American War, and of his victories, as of
things in which he had no direction. This modesty only added to his
gravity and severity." No act was perhaps as symbolic of Washington's
fabled "disinterested" virtue than the surrender of his sword to
Congress shortly following the official cessation of the Revolutionary
War in December of 1873. Wood related the magnitude of such observance
of duty: "It was extraordinary; a victorious general's surrendering his
arms and returning to his farm was unprecedented in modern times.
Cromwell, William of Orange, Marlborough--all had sought political
rewards commensurate with their military achievements."
What struck me about Wood's analysis of the nation's first leader was
the particular way in which Washington's character affected the
above-mentioned mystique of his decisions and actions. As Wood put it,
"Washington's genius, Washington's greatness, lay in his character."
The President can, as Wood posited, lay claim to being the United
States' first national, if not classical, hero by virtue of this.
It is in inspecting this classical character that one sees not only the
rustic nobility of republican Roman duty and sacrifice, but trappings
from another foundation of Western civilization. The Greek age, which
followed the Peloponnesian War and preceded Alexander's attempts at
Hellenization, featured particularly robust and profound thought on the
nature of a virtuous character. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle each
took up the burden of delineating the parameters of rectitude in an
epoch between two tumultuous periods of war and conquest. These periods
saw Greece's famed standards of moderation and right willingly
abandoned by its citizens--citizens frenzied with fraternal strife on
one hand and corrupted by foreign decadence on the other. Aristotle,
being the last of this philosophical generation, laid down his
observations on the topic of virtue and character in his Nichomachean
In what ways do the great Greek philosopher's findings parallel Wood's
analysis of Washington's character? First, and not coincidentally, the
ideal Aristotle wrote of which most conformed to the paradigm set forth
by Washington was that of the "proud," "great-souled," or "magnanimous"
man. One of the telltale characteristics of the magnanimous man--a man
Aristotle felt deserved the highest of all prizes--was his oftentimes
haughty and aloof nature, "Hence proud men are thought to be
disdainful." Aristotle explained the purpose of this reticence as a
response to the perpetually transitory travails of life, travails prone
to buckle lesser men to unseemly displays of emotion and abandon.
Likewise, Washington bore his considerable gravitas buttressed by walls
of stoic stone. As Wood wrote, "Despite the continued popularity of
Parson Weems's biographical attempt to humanize Washington, the great
man remained distant and unapproachable, almost unreal and unhuman."
Wood described this otherworldly ethos as incomprehensible to modern
sensibilities. It is not too far a stretch to assume it awed the
President's contemporaries as well. Ultimately, this was traced by the
historian to Washington's being a product of the "pre-egalitarian world
of the eighteenth century," a century which lionized exalted military
stature and reputation.
As Aristotle was a philosopher who emphasized the metaphysical concept
of purpose, this ideal is also woven throughout his ethical study. The
magnanimous man then, above all other things, sought out honor as his
purpose and end: "It is chiefly with honours and dishonours, then, that
the proud man is concerned..." Within this spectrum, the magnanimous
man grew conscious of precisely where and from whom he received his
honors. Since he occupied a solitary, elevated pedestal by virtue of
his stature, he could not welcome honors and praise from peers. Yet, he
did accept accolades from "good men" since "they have nothing greater
to bestow on him." In contrast, the magnanimous man directly, or
indirectly sought to foster hierarchical relationships by disdaining
"honour from casual people and on trifling grounds."
Washington, like most of his contemporaries, was concerned with this
Aristotelian end. "Honor was the esteem in which they were held..."
Wood explained, "To have honor across space and time was to have fame,
and fame was what the founders were after, Washington above all."
Because of his accomplishments, Washington was the first of the
founding generation to achieve this vaunted status. Nevertheless, he
carefully cultivated his image. According to Wood, it was this selfsame
concern which finally pushed a reluctant Washington to attend the
Philadelphia Convention of 1787: "What finally convinced
Washington...was the fear that people might think he wanted the
government to fail so that he could then manage a military takeover."
In this, the then general exhibited his Aristotelian disdain for
"trifling grounds." What makes this most remarkable was that for
Washington, the seeking of power was somehow beneath and the antithesis
of his classical reputation. Centuries before, Machiavelli would
instruct his patron prince that power should be seen as the ultimate
good, or end to political practice. Most modern (and postmodern
thought), subsisting in the vacuum created by the renunciation of
virtue, is given to this utilitarian dictum. Yet, here is Washington,
schooled in fine Greek form, viewing power as Aristotle viewed it,
"Power and wealth are desirable for the sake of honour..." As the logic
follows, this perspective of lowering power beneath honor seems only
possible when virtue, or goodness, is part of the rich fabric of a
Aristotle stated as much when he elaborated on the magnanimous man's
moral state: "Now the proud man...must be good in the highest degree;
for the better man always deserves more, and the best man most."
Considering current political thought, this Greek ideal appears more
distant than the millennia already allow. As stated already, power in
contemporary politics is seen as an end, therefore its attainment is
paramount, and often at the expense of virtue. Aristotle reminds his
reader of an alternative, a more real and natural relationship--that of
the glory gained not by winning power, but by serving virtue.
Countless despots in the dusty annals of world history have sought to
be great men. What made Washington unique was that he became a great
man while not abandoning being a good man. Long before the stirrings of
the abolitionist movement awoke New England, Washington the Virginian
foresaw slavery's end. According to Wood, "By the time he returned to
Mount Vernon at the end of the war, he had concluded that slavery
needed to be abolished ... because it violated everything the
Revolution was about." This may not surprise historians as much as the
lay public since Washington had already displayed an open mindedness
towards race in his having "led a racially integrated army composed of
as many a five thousand African American soldiers."
What does surprise was the sentiment behind the general's views toward
slavery, views which deviated starkly from the merely political. During
his presidency in 1794, Washington mulled over liberating "a certain
species of property which I possess, very repugnantly to my own
feelings." Going beyond a flawed, politically correct analysis of such
turn of phrase, one has to wonder as to why the President felt so.
Over sixty years before the Dred Scott case recognized African
Americans as non-citizens, the most powerful man in the nation
privately, and we can only assume honestly, was asserting the injustice
of slavery. This feeling can perhaps be best explained by a sense of
virtue within the President, virtue which enabled him to see the vice
inherent in bondage, and which prodded him to act on his conviction.
Six months before his death, Washington in the writing of his will,
laid provisions to free his three hundred slaves at the point of his
wife's passing. In this action, Wood stressed "he did not just throw
his slaves out into the world." Instead, Washington made clear that
juvenile and elderly slaves ought to be provided for by means of
literacy, and vocational training.
For all of these reasons, Washington appears closer and closer to the
Aristotelian ideal, as he does to the republican Roman. It should not
go unmentioned here that Aristotle was no champion of abolition
himself, believing that some men were by their natures slaves. Yet the
Greek, like his predecessors Socrates and Plato, saw that the most
pathetic form of slavery was when one was without virtue, and thus a
slave to himself. Washington certainly did not fall into this category.
What is almost tragic however, in an almost Greek paradigm, was how
Wood related the legacy of the founding generation, most especially
Washington. This generation "had succeeded only too well in promoting
democracy, and equality among ordinary people; indeed, they succeeded
in preventing any duplication of themselves." Poetically following in
the footsteps of their revered heroes such as Socrates, Cicero, and
Cato, men who achieved greatness because of their virtue, the founders
leave to future generations gifts and examples seldom understood or
worse, unappreciated. None here match the ethos of Washington, "an
extraordinary man who made it possible for ordinary men to rule."
Elgar: Enigmatic Catholic
Stephen Hough 2 June 2007
Elgar's music is often regarded as the epitome of Englishness, with all
its Protestant pomp. But the circumstances of his faith, received from
his mother who converted to Catholicism a few years before the composer
was born, remain a riddle wrapped in mystery
The external facts
of Elgar's Catholic life are straightforward enough. It all began,
appropriately, with St George, the patron saint of England, and, more
specifically, with the Catholic church which bears his name in
In 1846 William Elgar, a man-about-town who ran the music shop and
tuned pianos, took the job as organist at St George's. In 1848 he
married Anne Greening, who, in 1852, after accompanying her husband to
church regularly on Sundays, decided to convert to Catholicism,
although William remained an agnostic until his deathbed conversion. In
1857 Edward was born and was baptised at St George's. From 1863 to 1872
he attended small Catholic schools in the area where the education was
good but probably quite narrow. He left school aged 15 and began to
assist his father at St George's, arranging and writing music for the
Worcester Cathedral was close by and he often attended services and
concerts there, even though this would have been discouraged by
Catholic discipline at the time. In 1879 he read Emile Zola's novel
L'Assommoir, published two years earlier, and gave its title to a set
of five quadrilles he had written. This would be of no special interest
except that all of Zola's writings were to end up on the Vatican's
Index of Forbidden Books by 1898 and he would certainly have been under
suspicion when Elgar was reading him.
Perhaps we see here already a certain spirit of independence from the
traditional views, which Elgar would have received in his education at
school and church. In 1885 he took over as organist at St George's, and
in 1886 he began to give lessons to Alice Roberts. In 1887 Alice's
mother died and Elgar lent her his well-worn and annotated copy of The
Dream of Gerontius, by Newman.
In 1888 Elgar became engaged to Alice, to the outrage of her well-to-do
relatives. One of her aunts actually wrote her out of her will in
objection to her association with this penniless musician, the son of a
tradesman and a Catholic. They married at the Brompton Oratory in 1889
in a Catholic ceremony but not a Nuptial Mass, as Alice was still a
Protestant and not able to take communion. In 1890 their only daughter,
Carice, was born and was baptised at Brook Green. In 1893 Alice was
received into the Catholic Church at St George's in Worcester.
To move to examine the internal Catholic life of Elgar (and its
apparent collapse) is as problematic as it would be to look inside
anyone's soul. He did not talk very much about his personal faith or
lack of it, but we can gather a few clues from some of his letters and
from the background to his most Catholic work.
In 1892, in a touching letter Elgar wrote to the children of some
friends during a Bavarian holiday, he had taken up a third of the text
enthusing about the folk-Catholicism he found there: "No Protestants
... church open all day ... workmen carrying their rosaries ... bells
ringing at the elevation [in the Mass] at which people in the streets
take off their hats and make the sign of the Cross ... crucifixes on
the roadsides ... stations of the Cross ... chapels to the blessed
By 1899 he had had his first major success with the Variations on an
Original Theme, op. 36. Each of its movements had been headed with the
"enigma" of some initials representing the names of his closest
friends. His next large-scale work, the choral masterpiece, The Dream
of Gerontius, op. 38, had just one set of bold letters at its head:
A.M.D.G. (Ad Majoriam Dei Gloriam).
Curiously, Dvorák had been invited by the Birmingham Festival in
the late 1880s to set Newman's poem to music, but it was deemed to be
too controversial. When Elgar was commissioned by the same festival in
1900, he suggested the same text - a daringly provocative gesture, and
a significant risk for a young English composer receiving his first
important commission on the back of his first big success. England was
a deeply Protestant country, and such a subject choice would be a
little like selecting a Talmudic text for an Islamic festival
commission. Yet Elgar went ahead with total disregard for any censure
or disfavour, making it hard to believe that the words had no religious
meaning for him at this time, especially as he was aware, and had
complained, that his faith was an impediment to his career.
At the suggestion by his publisher, Jaeger, that there was too much
"Joseph and Mary" about the work, he replied: "Of course it will
frighten the low-church party but the poem must on no account be
touched! Sacrilege and not to be thought of... It's awfully curious the
attitude (towards sacred things) of the narrow English mind." Yet only
weeks after its disastrous premiere he would write to Jaeger:
"Providence denies me a decent hearing of my work: so I submit - I
always said God was against art & I still believe it ... I have
allowed my heart to open once - it is now shut against every religious
feeling & every soft, gentle impulse for ever." Although this
sounds more like a temper tantrum than a reasoned rebellion against
belief, it does suggest that his Catholicism was not deep-rooted and
was more cultural than creedal. It also appears to mark the beginning
of a walk away from the Church, and of a black, depressive mood that
would overshadow his emotional life until the end.
The death of his mother in 1902 - the woman who had first brought
Catholicism into the family and who had been his comfort and solace
during earlier times of crisis - might have made it easier for him to
express his religious doubts more openly as the years passed. Although
after reading Shaw's Man and Superman in 1904 he could still write to
Arthur Troyte Griffith: "Bernard Shaw is hopelessly wrong, as all these
fellows are, on fundamental things: amongst others they punch Xtianity
(sic) & try to make it fit their civilisation instead of making
their civilisation fit It." Nevertheless, revealing references continue
to pop up in letters mentioning Alice or Carice being at church whilst
he remained at home.
We only know what a person tells us, and Elgar's petty rant against God
to Jaeger quoted above, reflecting more on his mood than on his mind,
could never have been enough to tip the balance. But I think there is a
telltale clue in his use of the word "Providence": a view of God as
Fate rather than Father. In addition, his search for lost innocence,
about which Michael Kennedy writes, is a further, false Christian
vision. Such a search is always for our innocence - a vague phantom
from some distant past that never really existed. Christianity's
essence is the discovery in the present that such an innocence does not
actually matter; it has been replaced by the innocence of Christ as a
gift to be received, not searched for.
Elgar's next big choral work after Gerontius was written as a result of
a commission from the 1903 Birmingham Festival, and it has been
suggested by Byron Adams that the research Elgar undertook in the
composition of The Apostles (and, later, The Kingdom), might have been
an element in the unsettling of his faith. He read many modern
scripture scholars and consulted two Anglican clergymen, and it is
certain that some of the books on Elgar's desk would also have been on
the Vatican's Index. Catholic biblical scholarship at the time lagged
far behind, and erroneous teachings, such as the single authorship by
Moses of the first five books of the Bible, the authorship by St Paul
of the "Letter to the Hebrews", and the authenticity of the extra
verses in chapter five of the First Letter of St John, were only to be
challenged under pain of sin.
An increasing siege mentality had taken hold after the dismantling of
the Papal States in 1870 left the Pope a "prisoner" in the Vatican
Palace. By the early years of the twentieth century a witch-hunt of
theologians and priests suspected of Modernism was taking place.
Indeed, London was an important centre in this controversy. Elgar must
have been aware of these controversies, and his research at the time
could well have led him to distrust the absolute veracity of certain
In later life Elgar's move away from religious belief seems to have
been even more determined. To George Bernard Shaw, with whom he
established a fond friendship, he was reputed to have wished that the
"nots" of the commandments could be inserted into the creed; and on his
deathbed he refused to see a priest and asked for his cremated ashes to
be scattered by a favourite river rather than receive a Catholic
burial. His frustration regarding the commandments and creed can be
seen in some ways as a profoundly Christian reflex. Christ removed some
"nots" from the commandments of his time and manifested a great
intolerance of unnecessary rules and laws, which he described as heavy
burdens on people's backs that religious leaders refused to help lift.
Some Catholic canon law can be as complex and arcane as anything
condemned by Christ in the Gospels; and the quip, "The Italians make
the rules, the Irish keep them", is a rueful reflection on the state of
scrupulosity that had made its way into the bloodstream of
Christianity, especially in the Northern countries, amongst both
Catholics and Protestants. This way of thinking created a religious
atmosphere, a repressive and reactionary fog, with which someone of
Elgar's background and generation would have been familiar.
The average Englishman in the first half of the twentieth century would
have found the clean-cut "churchiness" of The Kingdom much more to his
taste than the Dream's agony and ecstasy. But I have a feeling that
today this is a shrinking group. It is not just that the narrative
sweep of Newman's poem gives Gerontius a dramatic shape that is lacking
in the set-piece tableaux of the two biblical oratorios; but the inner
drama of creative conviction seems to be missing too. The Catholic
candles and incense have been removed, but so too has the flame that
set them alight in the first place.
Much has been written in speculation as to why Elgar did not finish his
projected trilogy of "apostolic" oratorios. Although it is clear he
wanted to write a symphony and to explore more abstract forms, this is
not reason enough. It is surely more likely that he simply lost
interest in a subject about which he could only write music from his
heart or not at all. Gerontius is carried along with the fervour of
faith, flushed with the pride of identity and belonging. But by the
mid-years of the Edwardian reign Elgar's passions had found new
creative outlets: regret at the disappearance of the Victorian England
and its culture which he loved, and a new, engrossing attachment to a
new Alice - Lady Alice Stuart Wortley. These were to inspire the works
written after he reluctantly, and agonisingly, managed to put the
finishing touches to The Kingdom in 1906.
Ironically the final "touch" was probably to write at the top of the
score those same letters, A.M.D.G., which had been chosen for
Gerontius. Was this merely a formula by now, or the flickering, dying
embers of faith? Whichever, it remains an enigma that only the composer
Journey to the
East: the Jesuit mission to China, 1579-1724
Liam Matthew Brockey
The Belknap Press of Harvard,
Reviewed by Simon Scott Plummer 3 May 2007
This is an admirable piece of scholarly research into one
of the most challenging missionary endeavours ever undertaken. The
title is the mirror image of the journey to the West made in the
seventh century by the monk Xuanzang and later immortalised in the
novel Monkey. Xuanzang went to India in search of Buddhist scriptures.
The goal of the Jesuits, inspired by St Francis Xavier, was no less
than the conversion of China, then the world's greatest empire, to
The task was daunting in more ways than one. First, there
was the voyage from Lisbon to Macau on board the Portuguese carracks, a
passage both protracted and perilous; one scholar has estimated that
only about half the missionaries survived this ordeal and that many of
those who did died shortly after reaching China. Then there was the
language, with its thousands of ideographs and its confusing terms, at
least to Christian ears, for concepts such as God, angels and soul; the
latter led to serious differences within the Society, even pushing one
member to commit suicide.
Having survived the voyage and mastered the language, the
Jesuits were faced, in a vast mission field, with a shortage of
financial resources and personnel. It says much for their
organisational skills that a handful of foreign priests were able to
maintain a Christian community which at the beginning of the eighteenth
century is estimated to have numbered 200,000, more than half of them
in Shanghai and the surrounding coastal region, and that this community
continued to function during periods when the priests had to lie low.
Such success attracted other proselytisers to China's
shores: first the Mendicant Franciscan and Dominican friars, then the
Vicars Apostolic of the Société des Missions
Etrangčres de Paris, a reflection of the shift of temporal power
in Europe from the Portuguese monarchy to France under Louis XIV. The
Sun King even appointed five Jesuits as "Mathématiciens du Roy"
and charged them with establishing an academic outpost in Peking.
The use of science and technology was one of the chief
means by which the Portuguese-backed Jesuits hoped to gain favour at
court and secure political protection for their fledgling Christian
communities. The instruments used by the Fleming Ferdinand Verbiest to
calculate the imperial calendar can be seen on the old walls of the
capital today. If astronomy was the area where the Society achieved its
greatest prominence under the Ming and Qing dynasties, it also sought
the favour of the mandarinate through philosophy, mathematics,
diplomacy, music and painting.
Treating with the throne may have been the only way into
the Middle Kingdom. But it left its practitioners vulnerable to shifts
in political fortune. The Society first experienced this in 1616, when
it was denounced by Shen Que, a vice-minister, for subversion, and its
members were expelled from the two imperial capitals, Peking and
Nanjing. A further blow came in 1664, when Yang Guangxian, an
acquaintance of Muslim astronomers whose dismissal had been obtained by
the German Jesuit Johann Adam Schall, accused the missionaries of
treason and secured an order of expulsion; fortunately for them, it was
not carried out.
Ironically, the final blow to the Jesuits in China came
via the institution to whose cause their order was dedicated- the
papacy. Rome wanted to break the Portuguese monopoly over Asian
Catholicism. Clement XI's instrument for asserting his authority was
the Torinese Carlo Tomasso Maillard de Tournon. In his first audience
with the Emperor Kangxi, he refused to accept his host's wish that a
national missionary administrator be appointed from among the Jesuits.
In the second, the two men fell out over the Chinese Rites, or
doctrinal terms, which the emperor had approved. In 1706, Kangxi
decreed that all missionaries must obtain a licence for their
activities and accept the Chinese Rites, facing the Jesuits with the
moral dilemma of whether to obey Emperor or Pope. A year after Kangxi
died in 1723, his successor, Yongzheng, included the Tianzhu jiao, or
Teachings of the Lord of Heaven, among "perverse sects and sinister
doctrines". The Jesuits were expelled and their buildings seized. They
maintained a minimal presence in China for another 50 years but the
days of great missionary enterprise were over.
These are the highlights of a story many of whose features
will be familiar to readers. But an equally fascinating part of this
book are the chapters devoted to the Jesuits' evangelising methods.
Historical fascination with the relationship between the imperial court
and such figures as Matteo Ricci has obscured the fact that most
converts were ordinary folk living in the provinces. An assistant
professor of history at Princeton University, Liam Brockey has drawn on
archives in the Biblioteca da Ajuda in Lisbon and the Archivum Romanum
Societatis Jesu in Rome to paint an extraordinarily detailed picture of
a mission which started in 1579 with the summoning of Michele Ruggieri
to China, and was dealt a mortal blow by the proscription of
Christianity 145 years later.
The Jesuits' reluctance to ordain Chinese priests stemmed,
Brockey believes, from a wish to maintain their group identity and a
fear that indigenous clergy might infringe the discipline of the order.
This made them rely on groups of lay men and women to form the
building-blocks of the mission Church. The Society brought its
organisational methods from Europe and grafted them on to a culture
where hui, or associations, both religious and secular, were already
common. Thus Marian sodalities, charitable confraternities and
penitential brotherhoods were formed. In their evangelising efforts,
the Jesuits found that children, with their quick memorising of prayers
and ritual gestures, played an important role in bringing others in
their families to Christ.
In this masterly survey, Brockey strips the China mission
of any pious fancy. We are shown the political manoeuvring between
priests and the imperial court, between different nationalities within
the Society itself and between the Society and Rome. There are those
who will argue that these seemingly worldly pre-occupations inevitably
led to the proscription of 1724. Yet the scale of the challenge and the
ingenuity shown by a handful of men in meeting it reinforces one's
admiration for the Society of Jesus. This is no hagiography but an
elegantly clear exposition of a tremendous missionary undertaking.
Tanzania's school of hope
By Adele O'Hare
Helping to lift Africa out of
poverty appeals to the idealist in many of us. But for Gemma Sisia, a
teacher from regional Australia, it's real life. She spoke to Adele
O'Hare about how she is changing the lives of hundreds of school
children in east Africa.
"It's a very romantic idea, setting up a medical centre or
an orphanage or a school, but the nuts and bolts of it, on the ground,
is extremely hard," she said.
"If Africa was easy to solve, then it would have been
solved a long time ago."
Sisia's method for fighting poverty is education. In
February 2002, she set up the School of St Jude in northern Tanzania
with a handful of children. The school is funded through donations from
people around the world and caters for the brightest, poorest children.
A devout Catholic, Sisia named the school after the patron
saint of hopeless causes, whom she now sees as a real person helping
her and the school when they desperately need funding or good luck.
She's recently written a book, St Jude's, about her life and her
experiences in setting up the school.
Born Gemma Rice in Guyra in country New South Wales, she
founded the school after working as a volunteer teacher in Uganda and
falling in love with a Tanzanian man, Richard Sisia. She married him
despite opposition at the time from most of her conservative Catholic
family, and they now have two young sons.
Richard's father gave Gemma the first piece of land on
which Australian volunteers built the first classrooms. Sisia had no
mentor or organisation behind her when she set about fundraising,
building and hiring teachers, but she says she is glad she did it all
"'I think that's why we're really succeeding over there,"
"There are a lot of NGOs or big organisations that come in
and the people on the ground don't have the flexibility to change how
things are run according to how things are in that particular area.
"So I was really lucky because I don't have a whole lot of
people in Australia telling me what to do, and that has made a lot of
"I have a lot of friends who are working for big NGOs and
they are just so hands behind their back and they're saying, 'Look my
boss in America is telling me to do this but he's never even stepped
foot into Africa and it just is not working'.
"Whereas we can change our builders, our staffing, our
systems, our processes... and I think that is a big reason why we're so
successful and we're still there."
Steep learning curve
Sisia says only one in 20 NGOs working in Africa manage to
stay on and make a difference. Learning the hard way has been a
life-changing experience, she says.
"I've become much harder, much more adaptable than I was
before, willing to try new things much more than I was before, a better
problem solver," she said.
She says she was naive when she arrived in Africa with big
ideas and was a target for con artists as a white female foreigner, but
is much tougher and more respected by the locals these days.
"Your whole way of looking at things changes, you've sort
of got to think five steps ahead," she said.
"Before I do something, [I think] 'Okay, what possible
ways could I get ripped off?' so it's a survival thing I suppose."
After many hiccups along the way, Sisia is now the
director of a school of almost 900 poor children in grades one to six,
all of whom receive free education. She says the oldest group's results
in the end-of-year regional exams speak for themselves.
"We had an extra hundred kids doing the exam so it was so
much harder on the teachers, but they got an average of 90 per cent for
the exam - amazing," she said.
"They worked really hard, these kids were coming in on
Saturdays and over the holidays, they were determined to do well
because they knew that there were an extra hundred of them compared to
the year before, and they know that our fundraising and donations
depend on our results.
"So they all know their duty. Their job is to perform well
and show people around the world that they're appreciative of the
support, and then the support will continue on. They know how the
Sisia says the school has a very strict entrance policy
and takes only about seven children out of 1,400 applications received
"The kids have to be very bright or driven, maybe they
come consistently to the entrance test, just keep coming, or just
intelligent, something that sets them apart," she said.
"Then they have to be really, really poor. So to find the
child that is really driven and academically brilliant, natural
intellect, and also extremely poor, the poorest of the poor, that's a
really hard combination to get."
She says the school means everything to the students,
whose education can help their families out of poverty in the long
term, but it is not widely known outside of the local area.
"We can drive to Nairobi and no-one knows what the School
of St Jude is, but that's okay because you just focus on the individual
and that keeps you surviving," she said.
"Focus on the kids, on the staff, and indirectly, yes, all
their families and indirectly all the people whose food we're buying to
keep the school alive and all the builders whose families we're helping
and keeping in work and that's what you focus on."
Sisia says she doesn't have any big ideas of changing all
of Africa but sees her work with the school as important.
"Because a lot of people say Africa's such a hopeless
case, and it probably is," she said.
"For a couple of my kids who've got brilliance, I don't
think they're hopeless cases, but the situation where they're living is
a hopeless case."
And for Sisia, that's where St Jude comes in.
Africa's greatest explorer
Written by Francis
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
The intrepid explorer had more to say than "Dr
Livingstone, I presume".
Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer
By Tim Jeal
Faber & Faber | 496 pages | ISBN-13: 978-0571221028 |
ImageMany people, I suspect, only know of Sir Henry Morton
Stanley because of his dramatic meeting with another explorer, David
Livingstone, in the heart of the "dark Continent" and for his supposed
address on that occasion: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" Tim Jeal, who
wrote a biography of Livingstone in 1973 which is still in print and
who has also written a life of Lord Baden-Powell, is thus knowledgeable
about the muscular Christianity that was a pervasive feature in the
lives of outstanding Englishmen in the Victorian period.
Stanley has been unlucky with his posthumous reputation.
When he has not been neglected he has been seen as a colonial
freebooter, a "conquistador", partly responsible for atrocities in the
Congo, a man who invented or played with the facts, even a latent
homosexual. Jeal, who was given generous access to much new material
from the Belgian archives, was first drawn to him by reading a note
Stanley had written on one of his travels, imploring for supplies and
humbly hiding behind the reputation of Livingstone. His book is a
balanced, well-researched and eloquent defence, directed in particular
at the "post-colonial generation" which has been taught to feel guilty
about slavery (forgetting that it was England that abolished the slave
trade, through the efforts of William Wilberforce and others) and which
is largely ignorant of the man Jeal describes – in the face of stiff
competition – as "African’s greatest explorer".
Above all, this biography is testament to the exceptional
achievements of an illegitimate Welsh workhouse boy, born John Rowlands
in 1841, abandoned by his mother and subsequently rejected by other
relations, who spent ten years in the St Asaph workhouse before taking
passage to America as a cabin boy in 1858. It was in New Orleans in
1860 that Rowlands changed his name to "Henry Stanley" (the middle name
of "Morton" was added in 1868), partly as the self-appointed "adoptive"
son of a kindly employer and partly, one guesses, to reinvent himself
in order to escape the memories of his unhappy youth. Stanley was
quick-witted, ambitious, dauntless and had a natural flair for writing.
His imagination was fired during this period by reading tales of
adventure and exploration which he longed to emulate, always mindful
that with no relations to help him and no financial resources, he would
have to make his own way in life. Like other men who make their mark on
their century, Stanley had great faith in himself, "an inner conviction
of being chosen for a great task".
In 1867 he joined the Missouri Democrat as a journalist –
the first step to joining the New York Herald, one of the most
influential newspapers in the States. Covering the Ethiopian
expedition, the speed of his despatches coupled with the vigour of his
reportage ensured a permanent post on this prestigious paper, despite
the rather niggardly terms (and later treatment) of its owner, James
Gordon Bennett Jr. Stanley persuaded Bennett to let him mount an
expedition to search for David Livingstone, the famous Scottish
missionary and explorer, whose whereabouts in Central Africa were
supposedly unknown. In fact Livingstone’s contacts in Zanzibar, where
all expeditions to the interior were mounted, knew he was somewhere on
the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, but Stanley, well aware of the
dramatic potential of his "find", did not advertise this knowledge.
In any case, the expedition of 1871-72, culminating in the
encounter between the two men at Ujiji in late October 1871, was in
every way a large enterprise in itself. Malaria, dysentery, desertions,
quarrels, deaths and hostile tribes accompanied the indefatigable
Stanley and his party. Jeal argues with good evidence that the words
with which Stanley hailed Livingstone, made famous by his best-seller,
How I Found Livingstone, were an invention by the
journalist-turned-explorer, anxious to assume the manners and
sang-froid of an English gentleman. But the book made his name and gave
him the financial security he craved. It also made him justifiably
famous – a mixed blessing for Stanley, who craved solitude and was
always fearful of his lowly origins being widely known.
Ironically, the book was also responsible for the shadow
cast over Stanley’s later reputation; he loved Livingstone with whom he
had a father-son relationship, spent four months in his company, keenly
lamented his death and years later poignantly asked in his will to be
buried near him in Westminster Abbey (a request that was denied). His
description of the missionary largely contributed to the myth of
Livingstone as a saintly man; in contrast, the reading public came to
see Stanley as motivated by material gain, more concerned with his own
fame and fortune than the welfare of the Africans he met on his travels.
This, Jeal points out, was inaccurate. After meeting
Livingstone, Stanley believed he had a sacred mission to complete the
older man’s unfinished expedition to discover the source of the Nile
and to open up the Congo. He was not a racist – he hated the word
"nigger" – and had the greatest respect for the Wangwana freemen from
Zanzibar whom he used as his porters, describing them as "clever,
honest, industrious, docile, enterprising, brave and moral". His great
trans-African journey of 1874-77 was not undertaken to enrich himself
or to exploit the country but to explore and open up the huge unknown
areas of Central Africa to civilisation and to foreign trade; Stanley
believed that this would in its turn help the development of the native
He was well aware of the moral dilemma facing Europeans in
the "scramble for Africa", writing: "We went into the heart of Africa
self-invited; therein lies our fault. But it was not so grave that our
lives should be forfeited." Again, he and his party suffered
unimaginable hardships from starvation, disease, warlike natives and
drowning as they navigated the rapids of the Congo River to emerge
finally on the Atlantic coast.
Like Livingstone, Stanley had a hatred for the
Arab-Swahili slave-trade, practised in this area for hundreds of years.
Much is known about the Atlantic slave trade which Wilberforce gave his
political life to abolish; less is known of the estimated two million
slaves thought to have sailed from Africa’s eastern shores. Though
tough on absconders and thieves in his party, Stanley was never
gratuitously brutal towards them. He tried to be just in his dealings
with native tribes, whose land he crossed and whose food he bartered
It was his misfortune to be linked in his later career
with the unprincipled imperialist, Leopold II of Belgium. Stanley
understood the key concept of imperialism: "that the populations of
industrialised countries had a right to expand into underdeveloped
parts of the world". But as Jeal shows in his book, this was tempered
by the former workhouse boy’s compassion for the down-trodden and his
kindness and loyalty towards his African friends and servants.
Leopold was influenced by no such considerations. "I do
not want to miss the opportunity of our obtaining a share in this
magnificent African cake," he announced. He looked on the Congo as his
private fiefdom and Stanley, whose help was enlisted to build trading
posts for the future Belgian expansion, did not realise this until too
late, hoodwinked by the King’s pretended altruistic plans. In 1883 he
protested to Leopold that "the Congolese are not subjects – but it is
we who are simply tenants." His protests fell on deaf ears.
The later horrifying cruelty of the Belgian masters
towards their African "subjects" is well-known through Joseph Conrad’s
novel, The Heart of Darkness (1899). Before this, in 1895, a Dutch
trader and consul at Leopoldville, Antoine Greshoff, warned the ageing
Stanley "never to go back to the Congo – even if Leopold asked him to",
as it would have broken his heart to witness the crimes perpetrated in
the name of "civilisation".
It is hard to read this life without sharing Jeal’s
admiration for his subject. Why does he choose the word "impossible" in
his sub-title?: perhaps because of Stanley’s extraordinary feats of
endurance, going where no white man had gone before; perhaps because of
his transformation from such unpromising beginnings; perhaps because of
the ironies of his public reputation, given his true character and
nobility. At any rate, he has now found a biographer to do him justice.
Francis Phillips writes from Bucks in the UK.
Madame Chiang Kai-Shek: China's
Eternal First Lady
by Laura Tyson Li, Atlantic
Monthly, 576 pp., $30
An intelligent and outspoken young woman enrolls at
Wellesley College, where she impresses her classmates with her ambition
and annoys a few with her outsized sense of entitlement. After
graduation, she marries a rising political figure who eventually
becomes a national leader. She, too, is soon wielding power behind the
scenes, and eventually her husband puts her in charge of a new national
program, making her a more visible public figure but also a target for
critics who resent her unaccountability when the program proves an
embarrassing failure. Beloved by some and reviled by others, she always
insists that her goal is to promote democracy, even though she is also
clearly perfecting the art of promoting herself. When her husband's
embattled tenure comes to an end, she quickly reinvents herself as a
political figure in her own right.
This is not the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is that
of Mayling Soong, better known by her married name, Madame Chiang
Kai-Shek. Powerful women are often unlucky in their biographers, but in
her engaging book, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek: China's Eternal First Lady,
Laura Tyson Li ably describes the life of this indomitable little woman
who "was a seamless alloy of Southern belle, New England bluestocking,
and Chinese tai-tai, or matron." Born in 1897, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek
died in comfortable exile in New York at the age of 105, having
witnessed two world wars and countless years of civil strife in her
Although she has been called "China's Eternal First Lady,"
in many ways Mayling Soong's life was more Western than Eastern. Her
father, Charles Soong, spent many years in the United States and
studied theology at Vanderbilt. A convert to Christianity and
enthusiastic singer, he taught his children hymns as well as Stephen
Foster ballads and the popular minstrel tune, "I Wish I Was in Dixie."
The family even tooled around Shanghai in a Buick. In the 1890s, as a
prospering businessman, Charles became close to Sun Yat-sen, and was
soon avidly promoting Sun's "Three Principles of the People," which Sun
claimed was inspired by the Gettysburg Address. Soong also helped
finance Sun's revolution.
As Li notes, the Soongs were "an anomaly" in Shanghai in
that "they treated their daughters and sons the same" and insisted on
educating all of their children. Mayling and her sisters attended
schools run by Christian missionaries in Shanghai. Of the larger
missionary impulse to China, Li writes, a touch hyperbolically, "With a
zeal befitting the original Crusaders, the dream of bringing China into
the fold of Christendom became an American crusade that amounted to
cultural and spiritual aggression." Yet it was the dedication of these
missionaries that enabled Mayling to become proficient in English and
to receive an education when her less fortunate female peers were
having their feet bound and their fates determined by their more
When she reached adolescence, Mayling's parents sent her
and her older sister, Ching Ling, to the United States, where they
attended the Wesleyan school in Macon, Georgia. Mayling then moved on
to Wellesley where, in 1913, she began her freshman year. Li notes that
Mayling was unimpressed with the Wellesley campus and told the
registrar, in a breezy Southern accent, "Well, I reckon I shan't stay
'round here much longer." By the time she graduated in 1917, however,
Mayling felt so at ease in America that, she told a friend, "The only
thing oriental about me is my face."
The Soong sisters were an earlier, Chinese version of the
fabled Mitford girls in England. As Li describes, "her eldest sister,
Eling, the Chinese said, loved money; middle sister Ching Ling loved
China; and Mayling, the youngest, loved power." Ching Ling, with whom
Mayling was intensely competitive, shocked her family by running off to
marry her father's friend Sun Yat-sen in 1915; Sun Yat-sen died in
1925, making Ching Ling a revered revolutionary widow and, eventually,
an uncompromising critic of her sister Mayling.
After returning to her family in Shanghai, Mayling also
embarked on the search for a suitable mate. "The profession of marriage
is the one most important profession for every woman," Mayling wrote,
"and one not to be subordinated by any other profession or
inspiration." By 1926, she was being courted by Chiang Kai-Shek, a
protégé of Sun's, who had recently gained control of
Sun's Nationalist (Kuomintang) party and begun referring to himself as
Generalissimo. As a youth, Chiang was "emotionally unstable," Li notes,
and as an adult continued to display a "fiery temper." He also seemed
unconcerned about the propriety of courting Mayling while still married
to his second wife, Jennie Chen, whom he hustled off to San Francisco
and later claimed was merely one of his recently released concubines.
Mayling and Chiang were married in 1927. In a preview of
the promotional skills for which Mayling would soon become well known,
she arranged for a film of the wedding to be made and shown in theaters
across China. When news of the marriage reached Jennie Chen in New York
City, she tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide by hurling herself
into the Hudson River.
It is telling that Mayling described marriage as a
profession: She viewed her own as one, and she found in Chiang's vision
for China an outlet for her own energies. "Here was my opportunity,"
she wrote. "With my husband, I would work ceaselessly to make China
strong." Like many consorts of powerful men, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek
ascended through a combination of family money and connections; shrewd
and uncompromising personal judgment; and an ongoing ability to
influence and control her husband (whom she converted to Christianity
not long after their marriage). In public the generalissimo was a
parody of uxoriousness; in private, relations between the couple were
often prickly. Some historians have speculated that their childless
union was also largely platonic.
By the 1930s, Chiang's Kuomintang party was in power but
faced escalating challenges to its authority from a growing Communist
movement and an aggressive Japan, as well as a barrage of criticism
from Ching Ling about the rampant corruption and misguided rule of the
Nationalists. Madame's solution, announced in 1934, was the New Life
Movement, which Li describes as "a curious East-West ideological fusion
of neo-Confucian precepts, thinly disguised New Testament Christianity,
YMCA-style social activism, elements of Bushido--the samurai code--and
European fascism, along with a generous dose of New England
Puritanism." Not surprisingly, the New Life Movement was not a rousing
success with the Chinese people, who were displeased to learn that
mah-jongg, opium smoking, dancing, and public displays of affection
were now forbidden. Li judges the movement a "paternalistic
state-sponsored cult" that attempted to "shame [the Chinese people]
into modernity," which seems like a fair assessment.
Mayling's presence on the international stage, and her
popularity in America, increased significantly in the 1940s, thanks in
large part to the puffery of writers like Clare Boothe Luce, who called
Madame the "greatest living woman" in an issue of Time in 1942. In
1943, during a lengthy trip to the United States, Mayling became the
first Asian (and the second woman) to address Congress. With her usual
flair for dramatic presentation, she toddled into the Senate in
four-inch high heels, wearing a black Chinese dress lined in red and a
sequined turban, which she doffed with a dazzling smile at the
beginning of her speech. "Grizzled congressmen were putty in her
hands," writes Li.
Others were not so charmed. Winston Churchill deemed the
Chiangs "mischievous and ignorant" when they attempted to meddle in
colonial affairs in India. And Franklin Roosevelt lost patience with
Madame's indefatigable efforts to gain American aid for China's battle
with Japan. During one of Mayling's visits to the United States, an
American newspaper ran an editorial cartoon that depicted a sultry and
aggressive little Madame vamping Uncle Sam, who was desperately trying
to guard a large safe.
"Little Sister," as Madame was often called, also had a
libidinous side. In 1942, FDR sent his 1940 presidential opponent
Wendell Willkie on a goodwill tour with stops in Asia. After meeting
Madame Chiang, Willkie declared she was the "most charming woman [he]
ever met." The feeling was evidently mutual; Willkie later boasted to
friends about his "amorous conquest" of Madame Chiang. Madame's
romantic feelings about Willkie were hardly girlish, however: She told
a confidant that if Willkie were ever elected president, "then he and I
would rule the world. I would rule the Orient and Wendell would rule
the Western world."
By 1949, the Communists had taken Beijing and proclaimed
the People's Republic of China; the Chiangs fled to Taiwan, where they
established a quasi-dictatorship and continued to claim that they were
the rightful leaders of China. As their hopes for regaining power
faded, Madame became more rigid and uncompromising in her beliefs; she
also became more outspokenly critical of Western governments for
failing to stand up to the Chinese Communists. By the early 1970s, when
Richard Nixon visited Beijing, the Chiangs' hopes for a restoration of
a Nationalist government in China were permanently dashed. The
generalissimo died in 1975.
Madame Chiang Kai-Shek spent her final years in New York
in a palatial Upper East Side apartment she regularly described as
"modest." A bevy of loyal retainers insulated her from the outside
world, ferrying her to shopping trips at Saks Fifth Avenue or shows at
Radio City Music Hall. Madame's lavish lifestyle, Li suggests
persuasively, was funded in large part by money gleaned from
Nationalist-controlled government accounts and decades of business
cronyism. In her twilight years she was a living anachronism, feminism
and communism having undermined her particular style of faux-naif
Li, who is fluent in Mandarin and spent many years as a
journalist in Asia, writes with clarity and insight about China's
complicated political history. She exercises considerable restraint
when judging Madame's motives, but in an astute assessment in the
epilogue, she outlines the paradoxes of her personality: the decadence
of her lifestyle compared with the extreme poverty of her countrymen;
the outlandish sense of entitlement; the scheming, selfish narcissism
that undermined her image of herself as a devoted, virtuous Christian
wife. Li also notes that Madame Chiang was "at least an episodic if not
a chronic substance abuser," addicted to sedatives and other
medications that she used to treat the cyclical bouts of hives and
other nervous ailments that plagued her.
In the end, she excelled at her profession: She was a
dutiful wife who spent her life enhancing her husband's repressive and
autocratic regime. That she did so in the name of democracy is yet
another irony of history.
Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics & Public
Policy Center, is the author, most recently, of My Fundamentalist
Daughter of the Desert: The
Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell
By Georgina Howell
Macmillan | 2006 | ISBN-10: 1405045876 | 356 pages |
As with Margaret
Thatcher, hard-line feminists have a problem with Gertrude Bell. Not
only is her life quite at variance with their "oppression" narrative;
it is clear that the only glass ceilings she encountered were the
conservatories of her well-connected friends, whom she fascinated and
enthralled with her gifts and adventures. Born in 1868 into a family of
industrial tycoons, she was given three special blessings: a fierce
intelligence, great wealth and a father who actively encouraged her in
all her highly unconventional pursuits. Given the power of the
Victorian paterfamilias, this last factor was probably the most
important; even two generations later, Lord Redesdale, father of the
clever, wilful Mitford girls, refused to give them a proper education,
leaving them to latch onto dominating men.
Georgina Howell’s biography began improbably as a Sunday
Times feature in a series called "My Heroine". This estimate inevitably
lets a certain hagiographic element creep in, but it does not stop the
reader from forming his own view of the strengths and weaknesses of
this formidable woman. Allowed to study at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford,
Gertrude took a First in History –the first woman to do so – within two
years. Where her peers turned to teaching or marriage – even her
college principal believed women were "Adam’s helpmate" – she
travelled, aged 24, to Persia to stay with her aunt and uncle at the
With this, the trajectory of her future life was
determined. There she felt "reborn": "I never knew what desert was till
I came here". In addition to her fluency in European languages,
Gertrude now studied Persian, publishing in 1897 a spirited translation
of the poems of Hafiz, a 14th century Sufi master, which is still
considered the best introduction to him.
By the age of 32, after working off a little excess energy
in several Swiss mountaineering feats, considered unusual even by the
standards of intrepid Englishwomen abroad, Gertrude began her desert
travels proper. These were planned like military campaigns. She would
stay in assorted Middle Eastern hostelries while sorting out supplies,
camels and servants and then set off for months on end, travelling in
style, accompanied by a Wedgwood dinner service, crystal glasses,
silver candlesticks and silk evening gowns. Such luxury was not so much
to cosset herself -- though she did enjoy dressing up -- as to impress
the local bandit sheiks. They called her "Khatun" – "Desert Queen". She
became fluent in Turkish and Arabic (which she spoke better than T.E.
Lawrence, (ie, Lawrence of Arabia) whom she first met at an
archaeological dig in 1911), added cartography, archaeology and
photography to her list of accomplishments and roamed across most of
Syria, Turkey and Mesopotamia.
Lawrence, who referred to her as "Gertie", thought she was
"born too gifted". If it had not been for the Great War, she might have
remained an eccentric English bluestocking abroad. Events and her
obvious expertise propelled her into the Arab Bureau in Cairo in 1915
where, as "Major Miss Bell" she became the first woman officer in the
history of British military intelligence. In 1917, with the Ottoman
Empire collapsing and the British and French agreeing, in historian
Niall Ferguson’s words, to "carve up large tracts of the Ottoman
territory", she was posted to Baghdad in Mesopotamia. Here, in the
post-war reconstruction of what was to become Iraq, accompanied by her
canvas bed and bath, she found her life’s purpose. She transformed
three run-down summerhouses into a permanent home, worked herself to
death (there is some ambiguity surrounding the actual circumstances;
having been ill for some time, she died during the night with an empty
bottle of pills by her bed) in the attempt to bring orderly government
to an inherently unstable region, and was buried there in 1926.
After her death, Gertrude’s stepmother paid tribute to her
"ardent and magnetic personality". Her biographer, with the exception
of a few fevered passages describing her love-life (doomed and largely
non-existent), has done her justice, well conveying her many-sided,
fearless and feisty character. If only Augustus John had painted her in
Arab costume, as he did for Lawrence – thus helping to create "Lawrence
of Arabia" -- she might have achieved the legendary status she surely
Gertrude Bell has subsequently been criticised for her
legacy in Iraq: helping to erect a fragile monarchical system, with a
Sunni king (the temperamental Faisal) governing a largely Shia
population. In her defence it must be remembered that at the Cairo
Conference of 1921 Sir Percy Cox, the British administrator in Baghdad,
and Lawrence supported this plan. Winston Churchill, who made the final
decision, cabled home to the Cabinet that it was "the best and cheapest
solution". As the later history of Iraq has shown, the cheapest
solution is not always the best.
Francis Phillips writes from Bucks in the UK.
Sister Antona Ebo– Nun, a part of civil-rights history,
By John Feister
St. Anthony Messenger (www.americancatholic.org)
DAYTON, Ohio (St. Anthony Messenger) - During the past few
weeks Sister Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, has been making
national news – again. She and a number of Catholic sisters were
pioneers in the struggle for civil rights in Selma, Ala., back in 1965.
Now a PBS documentary, “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,”
is telling their story, 42 years later.
SISTER GAVE RIGHTS WITNESS IN 1965 – Sister Mary Antona
gives witness in Selma, Ala., on March 10, 1965, during voting-rights
marches following the violence of “Bloody Sunday.” The Franciscan
Sister of Mary and a number of Catholic sisters, who were pioneers in
the struggle for civil rights in Selma, are the focus of PBS
documentary, “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,” 42 years
The film, produced and directed by Los Angeles filmmaker
Jayasri Majumdar Hart, is a look at the events that led to the protest.
Along the way, it sets the context of church renewal that led the
sisters to take a controversial, public stand for civil rights.
Six sisters were part of the St. Louis delegation to Selma
on Wednesday, March 10, 1965. It was three days after a peaceful
protest march had been brutally attacked by white-supremacist local
authorities, a shocking, widely publicized event that caused the day to
be forever known as “Bloody Sunday.” The sisters’ appearance among the
protesters in the following days – and especially African-American
Sister Antona – made worldwide headlines.
St. Anthony Messenger caught up with this amazing
83-year-old at the world premiere of the film at the University of
Dayton late in 2006. We spent some time with Sister Antona and producer
Jayasri Hart. Here is the remarkable story of the woman who, when it
was time to “put up or shut up,” as Sister Antona said, flew on what
she calls “a rickety plane” to Selma.
Introducing Sister Antona
The civil-rights struggle in Selma seems like ancient
history to young people today. The “Sisters of Selma” film premiere at
a University of Dayton auditorium drew a standing-room-only crowd of
theology-class students at the Marianist university, most of whom –
though attendance was mandatory – seemed fascinated by this old woman
before them who had actually played a hand in history.
“They said they read about all this stuff,” said Sister
Antona, speaking of one of her many college audiences, “but they really
didn’t know anybody that really could tell them about the story.” One
of her young friends back home in St. Louis, Mo., calls her “Grandma
Sister,” she quipped. “I love to hear that.”
This now-grandmotherly Franciscan Sister of Mary was 41,
working at a hospital in St. Louis, where the community is based, when
the Selma protest happened. What brought her to the Franciscan sisters
is a story in itself, one that helps explain how she wound up in Selma.
She told her story, not without humor.
Elizabeth Louise Ebo became Sister Mary Antona when she
entered the convent in 1947. She took the name “Antona” from a
Sinsinawa Dominican sister who had taught her algebra and geometry.
“When I got finished with her, she gave up teaching and went to a
cloister out in California!” she said with a mischievous grin, and
added that another of her teachers followed to the cloister soon
thereafter (they were starting a new foundation).
She credited her conversion to Catholicism as a young girl
to a dare from a friend and the presence of the blessed sacrament. Her
mother had died when Elizabeth was only four, and the Great Depression
had left her illiterate father unable to support his three children. So
the three siblings grew up in McLean County Home for Colored Children,
in their hometown of Bloomington, Ill. When she was about nine, one of
her childhood friends, Bish (“he was nicknamed Bishop because he wore
his beads around his neck and told me that that was his rosary,” she
explained), convinced her to go with him inside St. Mary’s Church
(staffed by Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province).
The young girl was fascinated and felt drawn to the
blessed sacrament. Little could she imagine that, decades later, she
would receive Communion directly from Pope John Paul II, during his
1995 visit to St. Louis. That’s getting ahead of the story, but it
shows what a gift her friend Bish was in her life. While she was
waiting to receive Communion from the pope, she said, “I could only
think, Bish brought me to this.”
She recalled of the distant past: “When Bish and I were
sent downtown to pick up the day-old bread from the bakery, on the way
Bish said to me: ‘If I go in that church, will you tell on me?’ And I
said, ‘No.’ Honey, and I went in that church! Bish went straight up to
the Communion rail, knelt down and prayed.”
“Then we had to run all the way to the bakery and run all
the way back, but meanwhile, he’s huffing and puffing and telling me
why he was kneeling before that altar,” she said. She looked later in
her “Baptist Bible” and read the words of Jesus offering his body and
blood as real food and real drink. “As an adult,” she said, “as I
reflect on that story, I think we were on the way to pick up day-old
bread for our body. And this child taught me about the bread of life
that was on that altar.”
A few years after that, young Elizabeth contracted
tuberculosis and her thumb became badly infected. “I lost the thumb and
got religion,” she quipped, because while she was isolated in the TB
sanatorium, she took classes and ultimately became Catholic. Her love
of the Eucharist and her desire to work as a nurse led her away from
Bloomington to a segregated St. Louis convent, one of the few that
would accept blacks. “We have a song that says, ‘He’s preparing me for
everything that comes in my life’ – and he prepared me.”
A Selma sister
Twenty years later, after she had served as sister, nurse
and hospital administrator, it became clear that her preparations had
other purposes, too.
It was March 7, 1965. The Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been invited to
Selma by the local black community and members of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Selma, seat of Dallas County,
became the focus for civil-rights protests that year (though there were
various actions across the South). Dallas County was in the heart of
Alabama’s “black belt” of former plantation communities (named for both
its rich soil and its consequent majority black population). It had
been home to a rash of lynchings at the turn of the 20th century.
Racial oppression had settled into what was called “Jim
Crow” (similar to South Africa’s apartheid). Police brutality,
public-building designations of “colored” and “white” sections, voter
registration – all of these became justice targets of the “Dallas
County Improvement Association,” a civil-rights group formed in 1963.
At an impromptu march in nearby Marion in late February
1965, protester Jimmie Lee Jackson had been killed. He was seeking
shelter for his mother from the violence after a 200-man-strong phalanx
of local and state police, along with local vigilantes, attacked the
marchers. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), headed
by Rev. King, called for a peaceful protest march on Sunday, March 7,
from Selma to Montgomery to draw attention to what was happening.
That “Bloody Sunday” march was attacked by the same police
and vigilantes who had stopped the Marion protest. One vocal
white-supremacist leader was Sheriff Jim Clark, openly backed by
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace. The relatively new medium of
television, as well as newspapers, brought vivid images from Bloody
Sunday across the world. Peaceful marchers were clubbed, beaten, bitten
by police dogs and horsewhipped by Clark and his horse-mounted posse.
Much of the nation – including members of Congress – was
horrified. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester (N.Y.) who, along
with the Edmundites, operated Good Samaritan Hospital, the only
hospital in Selma that would treat blacks, cared for the injured.
Rev. King’s SCLC and other groups put out an appeal for
religious leaders everywhere to come to Selma. They came for a march
Tuesday, but didn’t get far. When a court order prohibiting local
interference was obtained in the coming days, the historic march
finally was completed, all the way to Montgomery, 54 miles east along
Highway 80. Montgomery is where the bus boycott had launched the
civil-rights struggle 10 years earlier. After Wallace refused to
provide protection, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson federalized the
Alabama National Guard and assigned them the closely supervised task.
History, then, rightly considers the Selma Voting Rights
March as taking place over several weeks, March 7-25. The nation
closely watched the whole event. Although she was only there for the
March 10 protest, Sister Antona and the religious leaders who came that
day played an especially important role, quickly expressing the
nation’s moral outrage. That public support eventually persuaded
Johnson to intervene and ensure the marchers’ safety.
'Are you outta your mind?'
“I wound up in Selma because my employees came in on
Monday morning and told me what had happened on Sunday afternoon,”
Sister Antona recalled. “God called my bluff.” Sister Antona had been
commenting that if she didn’t have so many responsibilities she would
be “down there with those people.” That was Tuesday afternoon. “On
Tuesday evening I get a call from Sister Eugene Marie (superior and the
administrator of the hospital – I was one of her assistants). I was
trying to finish some copy work and she said, “How would you like to go
to Selma tomorrow?” Then she said, ‘Are you still there?’”
Selma was the water cooler/dinner table topic on
Americans’ minds everywhere in the days after Bloody Sunday. Word of
her pending trip swept through the hospital and a friend called her,
offering advice. “Now, Sister, if you go down there, you don’t know the
deep South. Stay with the group and keep your mouth shut.” Then she
heard on the news that night that a protester, Rev. James Reeb, from
Boston, had been beaten to death. “And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Are you
outta your mind?’”
There were no other black women going from St. Louis – she
knew she would be alone in that sense. But Cardinal Joseph Ritter and
her superior had come up with the plan. They chartered two small planes
(that had been “mothballed,” she remembered, speaking of their poor
condition) and the St. Louis contingent of sisters went to Selma.
“That’s when it hit me, when we got off of that plane.” She thought, “I
hope you realize that, no matter how you try to stay with the group, if
you get arrested, you ain’t gonna be with the group of sisters.”
But basically, she said, people worried more at home than
she did in Selma. “They had time to think about that. I really didn’t
think that much about it.” Another moment of truth came for her that
day when a federal agent advised her to take off her glasses if she
could see well enough without them: “That was when I came through with
that silly thought, Oh, God, this is going to be real trouble. We’re
not down here to play pick-up-sticks. I don’t know why I thought of
pick-up-sticks, except maybe somebody might have been ready to pick us
up after everything was over!”
Her presence, along with that of the other sisters, was
deeply encouraging to the marchers. Andrew Young, a civil-rights leader
who would one day be famous in public service, told the marchers upon
the sisters’ arrival at the staging spot of Brown A.M.E. Chapel, in
Selma, “Ladies and gentlemen, one of the great moral forces of the
world has just walked in the door.”
The march went only a few blocks that day, but the
photographs of the marchers went everywhere. Sister Antona, who had
been put at the front of the line because of her dark skin and
religious habit, found herself, among the other five sisters, on the
front page of The New York Times, telling reporters that she was proud
to be black: “I’m here because I’m a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and
because I want to bear witness.”
One highlight of the event for her was at Brown Chapel,
when a young black girl ran up and embraced her. “She said she knew
sisters, but never had seen one like herself.” That was blessing enough
for Sister Antona: “There are times when you know God is in charge.”
By 4 p.m., the sisters were back on their planes to St.
Louis. Finally, on March 21, the marchers in Selma left for Montgomery
and were protected all the way by the U.S. government. At the end of
the four-day march, Rev. King’s famous words rang out to the crowd of
25,000: “I know you are asking today, ‘How long will it take?’ ... Not
long, because the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends
As it turned out, it took only a few months from that
famous speech for the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 to become law,
but everyone knows it was only one of many parts of the civil-rights
struggle. That very year of 1965 saw the assassination of Malcolm X,
the Watts riots in Los Angeles and the first affirmative-action ruling,
in addition to the Voting Rights Act.
From the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling
in 1954 until the assassination of Rev. King in 1968, then the
school-busing conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s, and beyond, the road
has been riddled with struggle, with victory combined with
disappointment. “How long?” has been very long, for those committed to
Sister Antona went on, in 1968, to be a founder of the
National Black Sisters’ Conference, and later served as its president.
In 1976, she became the first black woman religious to run a hospital
(St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, Wis.). She spent six years, in the
1980s, working as a chaplain at the University of Mississippi Medical
Eventually, Sister Antona moved back to St. Louis to serve
as a provincial leader of her community. The State of Alabama, in 2000,
awarded her a state senate commendation for her civil-rights work.
Enter the filmmaker
It was not long after that Los Angeles filmmaker Jayasri
Hart came upon the story. Jayasri is a Calcuttan Hindu who, as a young
girl, had worked with blessed Mother Teresa: “Mother Teresa was just
starting out and she had very little help,” she explained. “So she
enlisted local schools to help out to send volunteers.” Jayasri came to
the University of Southern California to study filmmaking, and wound up
married and living in Los Angeles, Calif. She had an interest in what
makes women religious tick.
She and her partners were doing research about the
Catholic Church during the 1960s, looking for a good story of how the
changes from Vatican II had blossomed into a new space for women
religious. Then Hart came across the story of the Selma sisters.
She had been looking for a good story to tell, and here it
was: “It captured my imagination. Here you have the intersection of
feminist issues, civil-rights issues, race issues and religious issues.”
There are six featured sisters of Selma, but Jayasri sees
Sister Antona as the “star” of her film: “As she [Sister Antona] says,
suddenly it became important that she was black. I think that mobilized
the whole story.”
It took five years to bring the film to completion,
including long hours researching film archives of the civil-rights
movement, and locating funders far and wide, including the U.S.
bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. Along the way Jayasri gained
new insights into the relationship between Christian pacifism,
especially as lived by Rev. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s pacifism that she
knew so well from home (Gandhi had a profound influence on Rev. King’s
thinking). And she also learned that sisters of color, like Sister
Antona, endured a history of segregation within the church. But that’s
a story for another day.
Making the film, Jayasri became close friends with Sister
Antona who, in a clever play on her Indian name, calls her “Re-Joyce.”
Sister Antona brings her sense of joy – and her wit – to
the task of promoting mutuality in mission among people of all races in
the work of the church. She, along with civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks
(who sat in the front of the Montgomery bus in 1955) was singled out in
1995 to meet Pope John Paul II. But Sister Antona, too, credits her
inspiration to Rev. King, who asked so many years ago, like the
psalmist, “How long?” She herself, now in her ninth decade, wonders how
“Martin shared that dream with the multitude,” recalled
Sister Antona. “So if that was true, then what have we been doing all
these years?” She remembered that Rev. King wrote to ministers from the
city jail in Birmingham, “We are always being told to wait. And now we
have waited far too long.”
When she talks to students and church groups – which even
at her ripe age she does frequently – she returns to “When are we going
to have our own dreamers?” And, usually, by the third time she says it,
the students or church members understand what she seeks. They reply,
“We have waited far too long.”
Decade of change
- 1954, Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
- 1955, Montgomery Bus boycott.
- 1956, Desegregation of Buses Supreme Court ruling.
- 1962, First session of the Second Vatican Council
- 1963, Selma Voting Campaign starts.
- 1964, U.S. Civil Rights Act signed into law.
- 1965, Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
- 1965, National Voting Rights Act signed into law (the
Voting Rights Act was renewed by President George W. Bush in 2006).
- 1965, Vatican II’s final session.
- - -
John Feister is an assistant editor of St. Anthony
Hollywood's 'Amazing' Glaze
What the new movie covers up
about William Wilberforce.
BY CHARLOTTE ALLEN
Friday, February 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
It is rare that a Hollywood film takes up a subject like
William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the British parliamentarian who
devoted nearly his entire 45-year political career to banning the
British slave trade. Alas, a lot of people watching "Amazing Grace,"
Michael Apted's just-released film, may get the impression--perhaps
deliberately fostered by Mr. Apted--that Wilberforce was a mostly
secular humanitarian whose main passion was not Christian faith but
politics and social justice. Along the way, they may also get the
impression that the hymn "Amazing Grace" is no more than an uplifting
piece of music that sounds especially rousing on the bagpipes.
In fact, William Wilberforce was driven by a version of
Christianity that today would be derided as "fundamentalist." One of
his sons, sharing his father's outlook, was the Anglican bishop Samuel
Wilberforce, who wrote a passionate critique of "The Origin of the
Species," arguing that Darwin's then-new theory could not fully account
for the emergence of human beings. William Wilberforce himself, as a
student at Cambridge University in the 1770s and as a young member of
Parliament soon after, had no more than a nominal sense of faith. Then,
in 1785, he began reading evangelical treatises and underwent what he
called "the Great Change," almost dropping out of politics to study for
the ministry until friends persuaded him that he could do more good
where he was.
And he did a great deal of good, as Mr. Apted's movie
shows. His relentless campaign eventually led Parliament to ban the
slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a law shortly after his death in
1833, making the entire institution of slavery illegal. But it is
impossible to understand Wilberforce's long antislavery campaign
without seeing it as part of a larger Christian impulse. The man who
prodded Parliament so famously also wrote theological tracts, sponsored
missionary and charitable works, and fought for what he called the
"reformation of manners," a campaign against vice. This is the
Wilberforce that Mr. Apted has played down.
And little wonder. Even during the 18th century,
evangelicals were derided as over-emotional "enthusiasts" by their
Enlightenment-influenced contemporaries. By the time of Wilberforce's
"great change," liberal 18th-century theologians had sought to make
Christianity more "reasonable," de-emphasizing sin, salvation and
Christ's divinity in favor of ethics, morality and a rather distant,
deistic God. Relatedly, large numbers of ordinary English people,
especially among the working classes, had begun drifting away from the
tepid Christianity that seemed to prevail. Evangelicalism sought to
counter such trends and to reinvigorate Christian belief.
Perhaps the leading evangelical force of the day was the
Methodism of John Wesley: It focused on preaching, the close study of
the Bible, communal hymn-singing and a personal relationship with Jesus
Christ. Central to the Methodist project was the notion that good works
and charity were essential components of the Christian life. Methodism
spawned a vast network of churches and ramified into the evangelical
branches of Anglicanism. Nearly all the social-reform movements of the
19th and early 20th centuries--from temperance and soup kitchens to
slum settlement houses and prison reform--owe something to Methodism
and its related evangelical strains. The campaign against slavery was
the most momentous of such reforms and, over time, the most successful.
It is thus fitting that John Wesley happened to write his
last letter--sent in February 1791, days before his death--to William
Wilberforce. Wesley urged Wilberforce to devote himself unstintingly to
his antislavery campaign, a "glorious enterprise" that opposed "that
execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of
human nature." Wesley also urged him to "go on, in the name of God and
in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that
ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it."
Wesley had begun preaching against slavery 20 years before
and in 1774 published an abolitionist tract, "Thoughts on Slavery."
Wilberforce came into contact with the burgeoning antislavery movement
in 1787, when he met Thomas Clarkson, an evangelical Anglican who had
devoted his life to the abolitionist cause. Two years later,
Wilberforce gave his first speech against the slave trade in Parliament.
As for the hymn "Amazing Grace," from which the film takes
its name, it is the work of a friend of Wilberforce's named John Newton
(played in the movie by Albert Finney). Newton had spent a dissolute
youth as a seaman and eventually became a slave-ship captain. In his
20s he underwent a kind of spiritual crisis, reading the Bible and
Thomas ŕ Kempis's "Imitation of Christ." A decade later, having
heard Wesley preach, he fell in with England's evangelical movement and
left sea-faring and slave-trading behind. Years later, under the
influence of Wilberforce's admonitions, he joined the antislavery
campaign. The famous hymn amounted to an autobiography of his
conversion: "Amazing grace . . . that saved a wretch like me." In the
most moving moment of the film--and one of the few that addresses a
Christian theme directly--the aged and now-blind Newton declares to
Wilberforce: "I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior."
This idea of slaving as sin is key. As sociologist Rodney
Stark noted in "For the Glory of God" (2003), the abolition of slavery
in the West during the 19th century was a uniquely Christian endeavor.
When chattel slavery, long absent from Europe, reappeared in imperial
form in the 16th and 17th centuries--mostly in response to the need for
cheap labor in the New World--the first calls to end the practice came
from pious Christians, notably the Quakers. Evangelicals, not least
Methodists, quickly joined the cause, and a movement was born.
Thanks to Wilberforce, the movement's most visible
champion, Britain ended slavery well before America, but the
abolitionist cause in America, too, was driven by Christian churches
more than is often acknowledged. Steven Spielberg's 1997 "Amistad,"
about the fate of blacks on a mutinous slave ship, also obscured the
Christian zeal of the abolitionists.
Nowadays it is all too common--and not only in
Hollywood--to assume that conservative Christian belief and a
commitment to social justice are incompatible. Wilberforce's embrace of
both suggests that this divide is a creation of our own time and, so to
speak, sinfully wrong-headed. Unfortunately director Apted, as he
recently told Christianity Today magazine, decided to play down
Wilberforce's religious convictions--that would be too "preachy," he
said--and instead turned his story into a yarn of political triumph.
The film's original screenwriter, Colin Welland, who wrote the
screenplay for the acclaimed and unabashedly Christian "Chariots of
Fire," was replaced.
The movie "Amazing Grace" nods occasionally in the
direction of granting a role to faith in social reform, but it would do
us all well to supplement our time in the movie theater by doing some
reading about the heroic and amazing Christian who was the real William
Ms. Allen is an editor for Beliefnet.com, and author of
"The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."
Letters reveal young Castro's faith in
Although he later renounced his
Catholic faith, newly published letters from the young Fidel Castro
reveal that the revolutionary believed in God and in eternal life even
as he led the uprising that would transform Cuba.
The UK Independent reports that 21 letters from prison to
be published in English for the first time reveal the spiritual side of
Castro who has been in failing health for the past 8 months.
Writing to the father of a dead comrade, Castro said:
"Physical life is ephemeral, it passes inexorably ... This truth should
be taught to every human being - that the immortal values of the spirit
are above physical life. What sense does life have without these
values? ... God is the supreme idea of goodness and justice."
However, other letters are also boastful, the Independent
says, while some display his fury.
Though published in Spanish in April 1959, just months
before he and his revolutionary comrades overthrew the dictator
Fulgencio Batista and seized power, the letters have never before
appeared in English. This week a new collection containing the letters
is to be published in the US - Mr Castro's most fervent enemy over the
A report in a US newspaper reveals that the letters begin
several months after the 26 July 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks,
which proved disastrous for Mr Castro and his men, at least 60 of whom
In the aftermath of the attack, Mr Castro was sent to
prison. While he was a prisoner his wife, Mirta, accepted some money
from her brother, Rafael Diaz-Balart, the country's deputy interior
Mr Castro wrote a furious barrage to his wife. He wrote:
"I never imagined that Rafael could be such a scoundrel and that he has
become so corrupted. I cannot conceive how he could have so pitilessly
sacrificed the honour of and name of his sister, exposing her to
eternal shame and humiliation."
Writing in The Washington Post, the co-editor of the
collection, Ann Louise Bardach, says the letters "are also an early
indicator of his Machiavellian cunning and his genius for public
relations. And they dramatise his resentments and rages.
"Castro was remorseless and unforgiving of his perceived
enemies, a man for whom compromise was a mark of weakness."
Ms Bardach suggests that anyone reading the letters would
be convinced that Mr Castro was a committed democrat - determined to
hold free and fair elections. In one letter he writes that "any great
civic-political movement ought to have sufficient force to conquer
power, by either the peaceful or the revolutionary route, or it runs
the risk of being robbed of it".
Lincoln's surprising strength By Theron Bowers
Sunday, 11 February 2007
On the Great
Emancipator’s birthday the question of his depression deserves more
than a 30-second, feel-good pitch from CBS Cares. What did
Beethoven, Lincoln and Hemingway have in common? According to CBS
television star, Mandy Patinkin, all three had depression.
During the month when Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) is
honoured, CBS Cares will run a destigmatisation campaign about mental
illness using Honest Abe, now Sad Abe. Despite Presidents’ Day being
celebrated this month, Lincoln’s name may become more associated with
depression than Emancipation. Destigmatisation is a neologism used in
therapeutic circles. Current dogma assumes that depression is
under-treated because people are too embarrassed to ask for help.
Therefore, pinning mental illness on the coattails of giants should
remove the shame attached to a condition and draw sufferers into
Strangely, I’ve never had anyone drop into my office
announcing their decision to seek treatment because of Lincoln,
Hemingway, Mike Wallace or any other popular figure. However, in our
daytime public confessionals -- Oprah, Tyra, Jerry, and others we know
on a first name basis -- this kind of celebrity identification seems to
be routine. Despite the gooey sentimentality of the Celebrity Misfit
Hour, the viewers may actually get some useful information.
No helpful information is contained in the CBS
commercials. Tagging room-temperature heroic figures with various human
ailments yields zero insight into that person or the “illness”. Would
Prozac have made Poe less creepy? Would a happier Sherman have not
burned down Atlanta? You won’t find the answer at CBS Cares. Our
passion for diagnosing the dead is another skin-deep facet of the
Yet, wouldn’t someone suffering from depression want to
know more about how Beethoven, Hemingway and Lincoln lived with and
dealt with depression in their lives? Not much is really known about
Beethoven and depression. Hemingway was a horrible alcoholic who
splattered his brains with a shotgun. He blamed electroconvulsive
therapy for destroying his memory and ending his career. If alive
today, he might have joined Tom Cruise in hyperkinetic eruptions
against psychiatric treatment.
Lincoln’s struggles are the most astonishing. On the Great
Emancipator’s birthday, the question of Lincoln’s depression deserves
more than a 30-second, feel-good pitch. How did this untreated
backwoodsman suffering from chronic mental illness become President?
Did the depression impair or aid his decision making? Did his
depression make him a better leader? It’s bad enough that Lincoln’s
birthday, now only celebrated in a few states, has been replaced by
Presidents’ Day. Who really wants to celebrate Harding and Polk, much
less Nixon or Carter?
Fortunately, we can have a deeper understanding of this
brilliant man and his “illness”. In 2005 Joshua Wolf Shenk provided an
analysis of Lincoln and depression in his book, Lincoln’s Melancholy.
Shenk goes beyond the usual agenda of the troubled genius
exposé. The book doesn’t settle for simply emboldening
sufferers. Shenk moves the questions about Lincoln’s mood disorder from
the realm of pop history and posters for Mental Health Awareness Month
to the level of serious scholarship. He proclaims his ambitious goal in
the subtitle of the book: How Depression Challenged a President and
Fueled his Greatness.
Shenk gathers convincing evidence supporting the diagnosis
of major depression (a severe, mood disorder) and dysthymia (chronic,
milder depression) for Lincoln. The author uses original, first-person
accounts and Lincoln’s own writings to demonstrate episodes of
depression involving long periods of withdrawal, misery, hopelessness
and even suicidal thinking. According to Shenk, during an episode in
his twenties Lincoln’s friends placed him on “suicide watch”. Shenk
also notes that Lincoln “didn’t carry a knife in his pocket for fear of
what he might do with it.” While a state legislator in 1841 Lincoln
became confined to his home and was described as “sick in body &
mind.” Even when Lincoln was not severely depressed, he lived with a
smoldering, chronic melancholia. Shenk quotes a journalist who
concluded that Lincoln had “a marked …predisposition to melancholy…”
Lincoln’s moodiness wasn’t a secret but was witnessed and
reported by many of his acquaintances. The irony of the CBS Cares
campaign to destigmatize depression by highlighting Lincoln is that a
candidate with a similar history today would be hounded out of the
running by his opponents and press, including the caring folks at CBS.
The 1972 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Thomas Eagleton,
didn’t last three weeks after the revelation of his hospitalisation for
depression and electroconvulsive therapy.
Not only did Lincoln overcome crippling and life
threatening symptoms; Shenk paradoxically argues that Lincoln’s
depression strengthened him and prepared him for the greatest challenge
of any American president. He concludes: “Lincoln didn’t do great work
because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problem of his
melancholy was all the more fuel for the fire of his great work.”
Shenk suggests that the low expectations characteristic of
melancholia, balanced with Lincoln’s desire to improve his country,
produced a philosophy of “depressive realism”. Lincoln found his
purpose in the conflict over slavery. He applied the lessons of his own
suffering to the challenge of resolving slavery. He knew that evil at
times must be tolerated but always denounced. Never a utopian, Lincoln
had hoped to limit slavery and then see the institution whither away.
Compared to the optimistic, self-assured General McClellan, who
crumbled in the face of defeat, Lincoln was an impenetrable fortress
against the expansion of slavery.
Compare Lincoln, the doleful commander-in-chief who
persevered despite four years of mostly defeats and unprecedented
losses, with our modern, compulsively buoyant politicians. The
president with the biggest grin ever by man or horse, the willfully
naďve Jimmy Carter, started his crusade for human rights by
abandoning the Shah of Iran, only to encounter a far worse regime which
paralyzed his administration. Even the contagiously sunny but more
realistic Reagan quickly left Lebanon after the slaughter of 200
Shenk elevates Lincoln from modern poster child for mental
health to iconoclast against the modern biological conception of
depression. Psychiatry built the medical tower of mental disorders by
equating emotional suffering with disease. The American Psychiatric
Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) identifies
distress as a hallmark of mental disorder. The focus on distress is so
entrenched that many perversions such as bestiality, sado-masochism and
transvestitism are no longer classified as mental disorders unless the
practitioner is “distressed” over the behavior.
Emotional suffering is only evidence of a mental disorder
in the way that physical pain is evidence of disease. All aspects of
depression -- brief versus chronic, mild versus severe -- have labels
attached in the DSM. Sadness has no more meaning than a rash. Certain
cognitive habits associated with depression are also deemed unhealthy.
Hopelessness and low self esteem have acquired mythological powers for
explaining our social problems.
Shenk’s Lincoln restores sanity and hope to our present
notions about depression. The story of Lincoln and his troubled mind
doesn’t follow any script, treatment algorithm or predictable outcomes.
Lincoln’s Melancholy provides both surprising answers and true
Theron Bowers MD is a psychiatrist Deep in the Heart of
Texas and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Link, S.J.
“What makes you think you have so much to say?” The
question caught Mark Link, SJ, completely off guard. He was a
31-year-old Jesuit scholastic who’d just begun writing the first of his
more than sixty books, Prayer for Millions.
pretty excited about the project,” Fr. Link recalls, “but one of my
professors there, Fr. Edmund Fortman, SJ, wasn’t as impressed. When he
heard I was trying to write a book, he asked me, ‘What makes you think
you have so much to say?’”
can’t remember exactly how he answered, but he still remembers being
excited about writing at that time. That same excitement still animates
him —and his many writing-related projects— almost 50 years later.
will be 80 in April. He’s now the writer-in-residence at Bellarmine
Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL, where he also directs retreats.
Bellarmine, a serene retreat center tucked away in gently rolling hills
some 40 miles north of Chicago, seems the perfect place for Fr. Link to
ease out of the hustle and bustle of more than half a century of
ministry in the Society of Jesus.
excites Fr. Link most is discovering God’s presence in the world:
through prayer, in the news, in the stories he hears, in the lyrics of
a song, or in the seemingly mundane occurrences that populate each and
every day of each and every one of our lives. In fact, he can actually remember one of the first such “discoveries” he
made. “I was a sophomore in high school. We used to ice skate at Lake
St. Mary’s, which was at that time the largest artificial lake in the
world. That’s where I was when I first experienced God. I’ll never
forget it. It was a really a nice evening, and we had a big fire going.
There was about an inch of snow on the ice. When I was out there all
alone skating, I said, ‘wow! this must be what heaven’s like’.”
experience stayed with him as he competed on a state tournament
baseball team, earned the lead in two of his school plays, graduated,
entered the Air Force, served for three years in the Pacific Theater,
and won three battle stars. When he returned, he put the GI Bill to
work and enrolled in the architecture program at University of
last three years of school, Fr. Link split time between classes at
University of Cincinnati and the city of Cleveland, where he did co-op
work with the Austin Company, an architectural firm responsible for the
designs of the Atomic Energy Plant in Oak Ridge, TN, and the Cincinnati
Chemical Company. While golfing in Cleveland, Fr. Link met Len
Schostek, who invited him to his house for some company and a home
cooked meal. Len’s son Don was a senior at St. Ignatius High School and
had just won the role of Edmund Campion in the school play. “I remember
hearing about the play, hearing about Campion’s life, and being
intrigued by the Jesuits, even picturing myself as a Jesuit,” Fr. Link
clarity came later. “I was at a benediction and there was a 15 –
20-minute meditation. That’s when it really hit. I was looking for
something significant in my life. There was a hunger. And then it was
clear. I should become a Jesuit. It’s hard to explain, really, what I
felt. I just knew I should become a Jesuit.”
he boarded a bus to return to Cincinnati for more classes. For most of
the ride he slept, then, suddenly, awoke. Outside the window, flashing
past almost too fast for him to read was a sign: “MILFORD 7 mi.”
Milford, he knew, was the location of the Jesuit novitiate. He made a
few retreats, and two years later designed a retreat house for his
senior thesis. He graduated in 1950, and then entered the Milford
had long been a writer —as a high school student he covered a variety
of high school sports for his local paper— but during his studies to
become a priest he began writing more seriously. During his theology
studies at West Baden College he wrote a weekly column for the
Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper and also began work on Prayer for
Millions. By 1960, the year he was ordained for priestly ministry, he’d
published his first book and was already hard at work on the second and
he was ordained, he asked then Provincial, Fr. John Connery, SJ, if he
could enroll in a writing program at the University of South Carolina.
“You don’t need to go to writing school,” Fr. Connery said. “You write
just fine. You’ve just got to figure out something to say.”
the writing program,” Fr. Link says, “the Provincial sent me to Lumen
Vitae, an institute in Brussels, Belgium, devoted to the study and
popularization of theology.”
there, he learned among other things that he definitely had something
to say. In the 42 years since, he’s published more than 60 books,
including Path Through Scripture, Path Through Catholicism, The New
Catholic Vision, and the “2000” Series, that includes Challenge,
Vision, Mission, Action, Bible, and Psalms. He’s also produced a 9-tape
video meditation series called “Walks with Jesus,” and written a weekly
column, “Faith Connections,” which goes into 250,000 church bulletins.
He scripted and was featured in 20 “Prayer and Scripture” TV shows
produced by the same company that produced the children’s shows
“Barney” and “Wishbone.” He’s given retreats in five English-speaking
countries and lectured in nearly every major city in the United States.
More than 700,000 of his books have been distributed in 800 prisons
around the United States by the group Victory 2000.
prolific writing career, Fr. Link has also remained active as a teacher
and pastor. He taught at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago for 17
years before co-founding the Loyola Pastoral Institute at Loyola
University, where he taught for another eight years. He taught at St.
Mary of the Lake Seminary and the National Institute for the Formation
of the Clergy.
Fr. Link retired from teaching and moved to Bellarmine. To say that
he’s retired, however, is at best inaccurate. Fr. Link rises around
4:30 each morning, spends half an hour on a “prayer walk,” says the
liturgy of the hours, and then celebrates Mass for some folks who live
near the retreat house. Then he begins writing. He’s able to write for
6-8 hours a day, seven days a week.
just something I feel compelled to do,” Fr. Link says. “It’s one of the
greatest ministries. You see things aren’t the way you think they ought
to be and you want to change them. And there are so many stories out
there. As Christians we’ve got one heck of a story to tell. That’s what
I’m trying to do.”
'lost' Filipino descendants
ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ has traced
some of the third to fifth generation Papuan descendants of Filipino
Catholic lay missionaries who came to PNG in 1800s.
Steven Ramos, then a 31-year-old employee at the
Electricity Commission (now PNG Power) in 1975, was manning the
company's customer counter when a Filipino expatriate came in to
enquire about opening a residential power account.
Newly-arrived in the country, the customer excitedly
talked in Filipino while Steven, quite amused, just listened for a
Steven excused himself and went inside the office. When he
came back, he was with a senior Filipino staff who attended to the
expatriate. Steven went back inside.
"I was telling him (Steven) about my little problem at
home regarding my power connection, but he just listened, nodded,
smiled. What's wrong with him?" the expatriate customer, almost out of
patience, told the employee in Filipino.
"He won't understand you. He's Papua New Guinean," was the
The expatriate could not believe that this guy, who was
Filipino however he looked at him, was in fact a Papua New Guinean.
"How did it happen?" the customer asked, but his "wantok"
could only say, "I really don't know. Ask him."
Intrigued by his physical look as well as his non-Papua
New Guinean surname, Steven decided to look into his past. He was
amazed by his findings.
How Steven and the many Filipino-looking Papua New
Guineans have populated this part of the earth dates back to 1800s.
It was during this period when 14 Filipino Catholic lay
missionaries and some European priests came to PNG in several batches
to teach catechism to the natives in their quest to evangelise the
country and settled on Yule Island, then the seat and nerve centre of
the Catholic mission.
Individually, the Filipinos fanned out into the villages
of British New Guinea (aka Papua, the southern half of the mainland)
where they introduced Christianity, particularly Catholicism, to the
In later years, some of the Filipinos returned to home
base on Yule Island while others opted to stay in villages were they
were stationed, married local women and raised children.
These days, on Yule Islands and in many villages in the
mainland, several locals possess distinct Filipino features -
light-complexion, straight hair, brown eyes and thin lips among others
- a stark contrast to the rest of the Papuans. Port Moresby old-timers
usually referred to them as "Lost Filipinos", to mean that they were
the generations of Papua New Guinean-Filipinos who are clueless about
their Filipino ancestry.
From five to seven generations of these inter-racial
offspring, a number were said to have carried Filipino-Hispanic
surnames spawned by Catholic mission workers Emmanuel Simplicio Natera,
Marcello Fabila, Nicolas Albaniel, Telesforo Babao, Gregorio Ramos,
Diego Rendall, Bernadino Taligatus, Basilio Artango, Francis Castro,
Juan Malabag, Cirilo Espinosa, Gregorio Toricheba, Anastacio BuenSuseso
and Juan de la Cruz.
Many of these descendants were educated in Australia,
became prominent citizens and held distinct positions in government and
in business and industry. At present, several of them reside in
Australia, US, New Zealand and Europe.
Asked by their "wantoks" why they have straight hair and
light complexion, many of these descendants would say they did not
know, "although we were told something happened in our ancient past ..."
But Steven Ramos, now 62, found out about that incident 31
"Our family began with Gregorio Ramos who came to PNG in
mid-1800s as an employee of the Australian colonial government ... he
worked as a warder in a prison camp at 7 Mile outside of Port Moresby,
then a small port."
Gregorio married Loa Goka, a girl from the Kwara Dubuna
clan in Hanuabada, who gave birth to an only child, Sebastian Gregorio,
In later years, Gregorio returned to Queensland with
Sebastian and continued to work with the Queensland government. Now
grown-up, Sebastian returned to PNG, settled on Yule Island and worked
at a coconut plantation and taught catechism to the natives. Later, he
married an islander and raised six children, among them Steven Ramos,
who was born in 1944. Steven married Emily Curry Alice who was of
Scottish-PNG ancestry and raised eight children, five of them boys.
Of the early Filipinos who came to PNG, it was Marcello
Fabila who gained much prominence as a mission worker. Born in 1869 in
Dancalan, Antique in Central Philippines, Marcello was a seaman and an
adventurer who travelled widely in Southeast Asia, Australia and
British New Guinea (aka Papua).
A knowledgeable and devoted Catholic, he decided to join
the early missionaries of the Yule Island's Catholic Diocese in the
Bereina district of the British New Guinea in 1898 then headed by
European Bishop Alain de Boismenu. Marcello was then 29 and for his
first job, was made seaman on "St Andrew", the mission ship.
Later working as a catechist-teacher, Marcello met a Yule
Island girl Raurau Ke'e and married her in 1901. They had two children
- Mika (Michael) Marcello Fabila and Kala (Salvatore) Marcello Fabila.
Both Marcello and Raurau worked in many villages within the Bereina
district of Papua.
Widowed at 52, Marcello married in 1919 a Filipino-Papua
New Guinean girl Anna Natera, then 18, the fifth child among 14
children of Filipino Emmanuel Simplicio Natera and Papuan woman Maria
Aiva Ume. Emmanuel Simplicio was a Catholic mission worker in PNG
during the mid-1800s.
Marcello Fabila was said to be of a pleasant personality,
a dedicated and tireless worker, an advocate of peace and love, and a
person quite eager to see the people of Bereina district develop
integrally in the mid stages of colonisation. In those days, he
tremendously contributed to the religious, political and administrative
developments of British New Guinea/Territory of Papua. While being a
mission worker, he declared the district of Bereina his home. He died
on November 30, 1942 at the age of 73 in Poukama, Central province and
was buried at the mission cemetery on Yule Island. Anna died in 1989 in
Brisbane, Australia at the home of one of her children. She was 88.
The Marcello Fabila-Anna Natera union produced nine
offspring that included Mary Ann Fabila-Sereva Mou, now 82, and
Eldefonso Fabila (aka Pontoy), now 79.
"My father was a terrible disciplinarian and a brave man
... he caned me occasionally ..." Pontoy recalled during a chat with
this writer. "But he was admired by the natives for his intelligence
and practical approach to solving conflict at the village."
Pontoy recalled that in 1930 when he was just three-year
old, his father intervened between two tribes - the Oriro Petana and
Alpiana in Mekeo, Central - living on the opposite banks of St Joseph
River. The tribes were plunged into a fight after a man from Oriro
eloped with a girl from the other clan. Immediately, the chief of the
Oriro tribe declared that the first man from the Alpiana tribe who will
cross the river to get the girl back will die. Told about the raging
conflict, the 63-year-old Marcello, who lived in a nearby village,
rushed to the war zone and crossed the river, carrying his shotgun with
blank cartridges but tipped with rock salt.
Reaching the Oriro side of the river bank, he confronted
the clan chief: "I'm the first man to cross the river, you can kill me
Cowed, the clan chief backed off and ran away with his men
as Marcello fired several shots, peppering them with rock salt pellets.
After the incident, the two tribes made peace and allowed the young
lovers to get married.
Pontoy had been married twice, with the first marriage
producing only a son, the Australian-educated Henry Tomas Williams
Fabila who became the general manager of the PNG Bank of Commerce and
later the Lord Mayor of Port Moresby. He died at age 53. Pontoy's
second marriage (to Papuan Margaret Pantung, deceased) produced nine
siblings - Pedro-Joseph, Hubert, Anita-Faustina (Alarcos),
Emmanuel-Rafael, Maria-Anuncia, Eduardo, Gerardus-Archie,
Gellian-Karen-Olive, and Francis-Robert.
Anita is the wife of entrepreneur Filipino Freddie
Alarcos, maker of the famous "lechon" (Filipino roasted pig).
Pedro-Joseph (Joe) is a colonel in PNG Defence Force working as
director for Logistics.
Mary Ann Fabila, who married Papua New Guinean Francis
Sereva Mou (deceased), has children who included Bernadette Fabila-Ani
(office manager at Blake Dawson Waldron law offices), Christine-Helen,
David-Gerald and Edmund.
A prominent citizen, Lynda Babao, who is a psychologist
and the executive director of PRD Realty Ltd, is a direct descendant of
Catholic mission worker Telesforo Babao. She's the wife of Opposition
leader Peter O'Neill who heads the National People's Congress party.
"My dad told me about our great, great Filipino granddad
who was then a merchant before working as missionary in PNG," Lynda
said, "And we're proud of our heritage."
Several years ago, Pontoy went to Dancalan, the native
home of his father in Antique province, in the Philippines, to meet for
the first time his Filipino relatives and discovered to his amazement
that the Fabilas and the Nateras were both big families spread out all
over the province. For the first time, he felt being home with his long
Franco Natera, a civil engineer at the Works Department,
told this writer the five-to-seven generations of the Filipino-Papua
New Guineans that began in the 1800s could easily yield from 15,000 to
20,000 descendants, here in PNG and overseas. Franco is one of the two
sons of Joseph Natera, the youngest of the 14 children of Emmanuel
Simplicio and Maria Aiva Ume.
Well, if you are a Papua New Guinean of Filipino ancestry,
you are invited to join the "Society of Filipino Descendants" which I
am founding. For details, you may email Bernadette Ani at
Bernadette.email@example.com, or Alfredo P Hernandez at
greatness By Martyn
Drakard 10 November 2006
Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere.
Most national leaders and ex-leaders fall into three
categories. There are leaders "unto darkness and death" –- to quote the
unfortunate words of Sir Patrick Renison, colonial governor of Kenya in
the 1950s about the late Jomo Kenyatta -- such as Cuba's Fidel Castro
and North Korea's Kim Jong-il. There are bad managers, such as
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. And there are the
has all of the above, but it can also boast some exceptional men,
statesmen of true greatness. Everyone thinks immediately of Nelson
Mandela, the first president of post-apartheid South Africa. But there
is also the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere (1922-99), who was
recently placed on the path to canonisation as a Catholic saint by
the Cardinal of Dar-es-Salaam, Polycarp Pengo.
an era in which national leaders have been responsible for the blood of
millions, men such as Mandela and Nyerere surprise by their virtue.
Mandela's defence of reconciliation and racial harmony and Nyerere’s
humility and integrity are beacons in a world disfigured with cynicism,
selfishness, prejudice and bloodshed. No JFK skeletons in the cupboard,
Biographies of Mandela are abundant, the latest being a handsome coffee
table book, Mandela:
the authorised portrait,
by Rosalind Coward. Like most of its kind, it traces his early life and
education, his initiation into the struggle against apartheid, his
detention on Robben Island, and his years as president. It glosses over
his imperfections and oozes adulation.
Madiba, as he is
known in South Africa, is not without faults. He has been married three
times, and divorced twice. His first marriage to Evelyn broke up after
13 years, mainly because of his frequent absences and his devotion to
the revolution while she, a Jehovah’s Witness, shunned violence and
professed political neutrality. After Evelyn, Mandela married Winnie, a
political leader in her own right. After many years of enforced
separation, they grew apart politically. He wanted reconciliation, she,
less forgiving, sought to maintain power through violence. And then, on
his 80th birthday, Madiba married Graça Machel, the widow of the
leader of Mozambique, a close friend of Mandela, who had perished in an
Mandela made some serious political errors,
too. One of his worst was to back South Africa's politically correct
constitution, which has helped to foster one of the most morally
permissive societies in the world.
But what he will
leave behind him –- he is now 88 -- is a legacy of forgiveness and
reconciliation, and a respect for each citizen, regardless of colour.
He helped to negotiate between Libya and the UK to bring to justice two
suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing. When one of them,
Megrahi, was found guilty and kept in solitary, Mandela went to visit
him and pressed for him to be jailed in a place where he could see his
family. He knew how to win hearts. When he put on a Springboks shirt at
the World Rugby Finals, suspicious whites melted. South Africa is lucky
to have had such a leader.
The father of Tanzania
Nyerere was a man of vision too. He believed that his Tanganyika could
teach Africa and elsewhere much about tolerance and human harmony. A
graduate of Edinburgh University, who had translated The Merchant
into Swahili, he taught in a Catholic mission school near
Dar-es-Salaam, the capital. He left teaching to take up an organising
role as leader in the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which
aimed to achieve independence from Britain and to wipe out tribalism
and build a unified nation. With the help of his leadership and sense
of purpose, TANU achieved both.
Nyerere’s vision was
not merely political. A man of daily Mass, Communion and meditation,
his Catholic faith influenced his whole political career. Even when he
had become an important political figure, he translated catechetical
materials and the Sunday Scripture readings for the year into his
tribal language, Zanaki. Unlike Mandela, Nyerere harmonised the hectic
years of the birth of his nation, with a happy, devoted married life.
His fidelity to one wife was outstanding in a country where polygamy
When Tanganyika and
the island off its coast, Zanzibar, united to become Tanzania, he said:
"We the people would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount
Kilimanjaro so that it shines beyond our borders, giving hope where
there is despair, love where there is hatred, and dignity where before
Good-naturedly, but with
determination, he withstood the harassment of the colonial government
that was trying to suppress the activities of TANU. Independence came
smoothly, thanks to Nyerere’s excellent relations with the colonial
governor, as well as to his own integrity, intellect, organising
talents and ability to present his vision to the common man.
he was not to be played around with. An admirer of Israel's
achievements despite the substantial Muslim presence in Tanganyika, he
told a press conference in 1961,that "We are not going to let our
friends determine who our enemies shall be." He was adamant that all
races should be able to claim citizenship and threatened to resign if
amendments were not made to a citizenship bill; they were. He ordered
troops into Uganda to dislodge the bloody tyrant Idi Amin while the
rest of the world stood by and did nothing.
Nyerere always warned against corruption:
an acquisitive society wealth tends to corrupt those who possess it. It
tends to breed in them a desire to live more comfortably than their
fellows, to dress better, and in every way to outdo them…. The visible
contrast between their own comfort and the comparative discomfort of
the rest of society becomes almost essential to the enjoyment of their
wealth, and this sets off the spiral of personal competition -– which
is then anti-social."
His warning has proved
far-sighted in many African countries,. In neighbouring Kenya, for
example, there is an enormous gap between the opulent lifestyle of the
super-rich, and the large majority of city dwellers who get by on less
than a dollar a day.
The solution, for Nyerere, lay in
his policy of "ujamaa" (family-hood), an African socialism which would
avoid capitalist exploitation and communist class conflict. He said:
"Both the rich and the poor individual were completely secure in
African society… Nobody starved, either of food or of human dignity,
because he lacked personal wealth: he could depend on the wealth
possessed by the community of which he was a member." During Nyerere’s
tenure, soft drinks, not wines and spirits, were offered to guests at
State House; his annual salary was meagre and his office was never
accused of bribery or corruption.
He was unfortunate on two counts: first, the West regarded ujamaa
as watered-down Marxism; secondly, it did not work. Noble as the idea
was, it remained largely an idea, and left the people impoverished and
demotivated. In this, Nyerere seems to have been a naďve idealist.
he was humble enough and honest enough to admit his mistakes. Even
after he left the top position, Mwalimu (the Teacher) was warmly
welcomed everywhere he went, and people turned out to listen to this
man who had never lost the common touch, and whom they could easily
Perhaps Nyerere's greatest achievement
was to bring the widely varied tribes and races (non-Africans were a
very small minority) together, for today the sense of national pride in
Tanzania is very striking. Tanzania has managed, thanks mainly to his
sense of direction and vision, to avoid the "tribal nationalism" –- to
use a phrase of Hannah Arendt -- of other African countries.
today, many in the West might regard these two great figures as tainted
by their association with socialism. But their views on this are not
easy to pin down. Nyerere, at least, was never a doctrinaire Marxist,
and Mandela's attitudes evolved. To understand their position better,
it is instructive to read Nyerere's words from an address at the
University of Toronto in 1969.
Portugal, South Africa claims to be a bastion against communism in
Africa. The regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) claims that it is
defending its part of Africa against communist-inspired chaos. These
states are all anxious that their struggle against the freedom
movements should be interpreted in the West as part of the world-wide
The real danger
which worries me is that the West will accept this interpretation, and
that it will, in consequence, betray its own principles by supporting
these Southern African regimes… The freedom fighters use communist arms
and are trained in communist countries because they have no choice.
This is happening now and it will continue. And then South Africa and
Portugal will proclaim to their allies this 'proof' that they are
fighting communism. They will show captured communist weapons and
display some hapless prisoner-of-war in order to persuade those opposed
to communism to support their war against the freedom fighters…
does not look at things through Cold War spectacles… (the conflict) may
become a confrontation between the poor, coloured world and the rich,
To the Africans, the Soviets were just
other white people, who said they were ready to help them gain their
freedom, and give them the training and equipment to do this. Freedom
was the immediate issue, not the ideology of the liberator. Once
liberation had taken place, the Whites, capitalist or communist, could
Mandela and Nyerere: two truly great African
leaders who have set the direction and the style for many generations
in their countries to follow, and whose example other African leaders
–- indeed world -- leaders would do well to emulate.
Marytn Drakard is African Contributing Editor for MercatorNet.
Retired Vietnamese Priests remain
active despite age, physical problems
NHA TRANG, Vietnam (UCAN) -- Poverty, illness and old age do not deter
some retired priests in Vietnam from continuing their life of
service October 12,2006.
Monsignor Pierre Nguyen Quang Sach,
83, is absorbed in translating Church documents into Vietnamese from an
English-language Catholic website, something he began doing before he
retired in 2001.
The tall and frail former vicar general of Nha Trang diocese sends his
translations to local Church-run websites and other priests, or makes
them into booklets as presents for laypeople.
Monsignor Sach, who wears a hearing aid, is among five retired priests
living in the diocesan retirement home in the coastal city of Nha
Trang, 1,280 kilometers south of Ha Noi. "I work to improve my
knowledge and update myself on Church concerns," he told UCA News.
The former vicar was past the retirement age of 75 when he decided that
he no longer had the stamina to fully serve the cathedral parish. Other
priests at the home are not yet 75, but illness forced them into early
Father Antoine Nguyen Van Binh, 65, became partially paralyzed in 2000.
However, he now teaches French in his room to a ninth-grader. "Teaching
is my pleasure," said the former parish priest of Ngoc Thuy. "I can
meet youths and discover new things through them."
Father Binh's face still is contorted and his arm movement limited due
to his paralysis, but he told UCA News that he expects to recover and
continue his pastoral ministry. In particular he hopes to conduct
marriage preparation courses to help avert separations and divorces,
which are increasing in Vietnamese society.
The retired priests, two of whom need wheelchairs to get around, follow
a fixed routine at the single-story retirement home, which sits on a
400-square-meter plot of land with a courtyard for exercise.
After celebrating Mass together in the chapel at 5 a.m., they exercise,
have breakfast and then go about their own activities such as reading,
praying, hearing confessions or teaching catechism.
"Celebrating Mass and administering Sacraments are a pleasure for
priests, especially when they are retired," Father Andre Nguyen Loc Hue
told UCA News.
Father Hue, 73, said he would ask permission from the bishop to
minister to a nearby Religious congregation. He added that he still is
able to hear confessions and celebrate Mass, but local parish priests
do not invite him. He teaches catechism and hears confessions at
people's request, and still attends regular training and retreat
sessions for Nha Trang priests.
One project Father Hue expects to implement is to set up a funeral
service group to serve the dying and families of the deceased in his
native Dai Dien parish. Such work, he said, is always needed and
According to Sister Chi Linh, one of the two Immaculate Heart of Mary
nuns serving at the retirement home, the diocese gives each retired
priest a daily allowance of 12,000 dong (about US$0.75). The average
price of a meal in the city is 6,000 dong.
The 60-year-old nun told UCA News the priests often use their own money
to buy milk and other things the home cannot provide. The money comes
from Mass stipends given by the few laypeople that visit the priests,
Monsignor Sach says he never complains about the lack of money, because
the diocese has very little income, so "our living standard, as it is,
is OK." His work involves a lot of time, effort and money, he
continued, but he refuses to accept any financial aid from other
people, since he works "for God, not for money."
The octogenarian monsignor, who has been a priest for 50 years, added
his conviction that priests must live in poverty. "Laypeople do not
want to see priests in luxury," he said. "Priests are not laypeople's
masters, but their servants."
Father Hue agreed: "Do not impose more burdens on the diocese. Being a
priest means sacrificing oneself. I do not require anything for myself."
Sister Chi Linh said few people visit the priests. Some nuns and youths
used to come and help them, but later stopped, saying the job was too
Monsignor Sach pointed out that "other priests are too busy with their
work in their parishes to visit us," but the five priests keep each
Father Hue, who has been living in the retirement home for the past
five months, acknowledged that the priests have different temperaments,
but "we accept one another willingly and get along very well together."
Retired priests do not want to live with relatives since they do not
want to impose on them, he said. "My brothers and sisters have limited
income, and my nephews and nieces have their own work, so they cannot
look after me. I myself do not want to be a burden for them."
While some retired priests of the diocese stay in parishes they used to
serve in, the priests at the retirement home say they do not do so for
fear it may affect parish work adversely.
William Bernard Ullathorne
1806-1889: a different kind of monk
price Ł18 Tel 01420 592974
of Birmingham, partly because of the anecdotes that are associated with
his life and death, is one of the few Victorian Catholic bishops whose
name is remembered. He wrote an autobiography and was the subject of a
two-volume study by Abbot Cuthbert Butler published in 1926. His
reputation is still, however, largely confined to the margins of
Victorian church history, a character with a walk-on part as Newman's
diocesan bishop. When he died in 1889 he was damned with faint praise
by the anonymous obituarist of The Tablet. The Downside monk
who had become the first Bishop of Birmingham in 1850 was, the writer
declared, "a man of the cloister and the library", a "memory of the
past in many ways", "not mixing in society and rarely seen in London".
He was, in other words, a man of the provinces and not in the
mainstream represented by his great contemporaries Wiseman, Manning and
Judith Champ's detailed reassessment is more than a
biographical study. It shows that it is too easy to dismiss Victorian
Catholics, and churchmen in particular, as inhabitants of an
inward-looking "Fortress Church".
Ullathorne was a man of the
British Empire as well as a long-term citizen of Birmingham, a city
witnessing ebullient expansion encouraged by a sense of self-confident
municipal pride. The parallel building up of the Catholic Church in the
city and diocese was a vital part of the re-evangelisation of the
country which Ullathorne saw as his call. There was nothing
inward-looking about his mentality. Ullathorne could not be described
as "provincial" in any pejorative sense. He was the most widely
travelled of Victorian bishops and one of the most prolific in his
published writings. He took an important part (well discussed in this
book) in the First Vatican Council. He was a significant pioneer in the
temperance movement, one of those campaigns which transcended
denomination and class in Victorian England.
Ullathorne, from a Yorkshire recusant family, had served as a cabin boy
on a merchant vessel before going to try his vocation as a monk. His
Benedictinism, as Judith Champ shows, was crucial to his character and
work and the key to much of his success. He saw the two core values of
the English Benedictine as stability and freedom and he lived them both
to the full in his long life. Downside captured his romantic
imagination not least on account of the dedication of several members
of the small community, in its first years in Somerset, not only to the
rediscovery of the monastic ideal but to the mission in Australia.
made his name in Australia, soon to be the first Catholic archbishopric
in the Empire under its Benedictine archbishop Bede Polding, who was
his first mentor at Downside. Some new insights are provided in this
study of those formative years. He worked among the convicts and laid
the foundations of a new church. His pastoral work in Coventry, which
might seem an anti-climax, is shown as a period of fulfilment, the
building up of a "parish" as a diocese in miniature. He was consecrated
as the vicar apostolic of the Western District in 1846 and made some
bold initiatives including the movement of the district's centre from
Bath to Bristol. It was in Birmingham, from 1850, that he found his
He had a high view of the episcopal office which he
saw not only as a guarantee of order but as the encourager of mission.
In Birmingham he was much concerned with the creation of a cathedral
with a proper chapter and a seminary to provide an educated
His ideal was in some ways more medieval than tridentine and he was not
a blinkered ultramontane. "Indeed," Champ suggests, "he was a
determined opponent of fashion in all things, but especially in Church
government: ‘A bishop ought to see through Our Lord's eyes, and should
be free from the spirit of the age in which he lives, which is but the
passing fashion of the passing world.'"
Ullathorne was more,
however, than a model bishop. In some of his ideas and achievements he
was singular and far-seeing, prophetic in his judgements. His
encouragement of women Religious is particularly emphasised by the
author of this book who breaks ground in this area. His sympathy and
care for the enclosed Benedictine nuns was part of his outreach but
equally important was his collaborative ministry, as it might now be
called, with active Religious. His joint initiatives with the Dominican
Margaret Hallahan, in Coventry, Bristol and the Midlands, were the high
point of his collaboration but he had a vision of the Church in which
the role of women was seen as crucial.
His interest in moral
issues and his lack of interest in party politics made him an
impressive spokesman on the great questions of the age, a real elder
statesman, and it was not surprising that when Wiseman died his name
was prominent on the list of potential archbishops of Westminster.
direct manner and his lack of polish as well as the fact that he was a
monk rather than a secular may not have fitted into what was already
being seen as an "Establishment" role, he was "not one of us". It was
as a diocesan bishop that his greatness was shown and the author sees
him rather as Manning described St Charles Borromeo of Milan: "A great
pastor, a ruler, a lawgiver, a guide and a judge in the church of God."
readable biography of an inspiring Victorian bishop is a model of
revisionist study; building up, almost entirely based on original
archival sources and contemporary accounts, sermons and speeches, a
rounded picture of a man who was one of the principal architects of the
modern English Catholic Church. It provides an essential balance to the
existing library of works on the Victorian cardinals. It shows that
even someone "rarely seen in London" can be of major significance.
Contributions to the study of Aboriginal
ethnology and linguistics by
Pallottine missionaries in North West Western Australia. by
A Century of Effort
(Taken from Nelen Yubu Issue 78, 2001/2002.
Edited by Martin Wilson MSC 1 Roma Ave, Kensington 2033)
The Pallottine Missionaries
have made and continue to make significant contributions to
anthropological and linguistic understanding of Indigenous Australians
in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. From his perspective as a
linguist at the Kimberley Resources Language Centre, MeGregor
(Australian Aboriginal Studies 1988) observes that towards the end of
1988, it was only in Catholic run schools that bilingual teaching in
Aboriginal languages as well as English was being undertaken. Part of
the reason for this is that it was the case that only in denominational
schools were the resources for linguistic studies available.
In north western Australia, most of those resources were the product of
Pallottine effort. I will talk about specific achievements by a number
of individuals a little later, but firstly, it is instructive and
perhaps helps to explain the zeal with which these individuals tackled
their particular enterprises, if we refer to the example provided by
the founder of their Society, Saint Vincent Pallotti. Saint Vincent was
born in Rome in 1795. He was ordained as a priest in 1818 at a time
when in Rome there was a lack of direction among many institutions,
they were tired and approaching exhaustion. There is no doubt that
people's energies were dissipated in individual action to the neglect
of social cohesion and regularised organisation. The young priest
Vincent saw in this atmosphere the necessity to 'revive faith and
rekindle charity'. He also experienced some recurrent dreams around the
theme of winning over for Christ all non-Catholics.
To accomplish this feat he inaugurated a revolutionary program, which
united the laity with the apostolate of the clergy. The organisation
that he founded in 1835, and which incidentally foreshadowed the
establishment of Catholic Action, was the Society of the Catholic
Apostolate. In achieving his unswerving aims, Saint Vincent
demonstrated that he was determined, single-minded and tireless. As we
will see, these characteristics seem applicable to his followers in
their Australian Mission.
One would expect that an organisation that promised to fulfil so many
of the challenges faced by the Catholic Church during the
mid?nineteenth century would have been welcomed with open arms by the
hierarchy in Rome, but this was not the case. To he fair, Rome was in
some turmoil. It was that period immediately after the return of Pius
VII from his imprisonment in France just before Napoleon's demise, and
Catholicism did not flourish in Latin countries during the nineteenth
century amid chaotic social conditions.
In Rome amongst the Church hierarchy, some of the objections to
Vincent's vision were simple pettiness regarding the name that he had
chosen for his Society, which was considered too universal. As we shall
see, it was not for a number of years that this original name of the
Society (The Society of the Catholic Apostolate ) was approved. There
were many other setbacks for the fledgling Society before it emerged
from its Roman winter in about 1869. Then called the Pious Society of
Missions, the group developed strongly spreading to the United States
of America in 1884, some South American states in 1886 and Germany in
about 1891 when a house, committed to missionary activity in Cameroon
in Africa was established in Limburg.
Only about ten years later in 1901 Father Klugelmann, at Limburg, a
German house of the Society at that time supporting missions in Africa,
contacted Father George Waiter, recently returned from service in
Cameroon regarding a new mission to Australia. Father Waiter,
accompanied by three other Society members arrived in Western Australia
to manifest Pallotti's dream of 'reviving faith 'and rekindling
charity', at Beagle Bay and Disaster Bay on the northwest coast.
If the natal years of the Society had been difficult, the gestation and
birth of the Australian Mission were to be horrific. It was somewhat
ironic that an early visitor to the new mission, and someone who later
provided encouragement for the anthropological studies being made
there, was Daisy Bates, who was never to see her own major work on
Western Australian Aborigines in print. Isolation and remoteness from
resources, a lack of recognition of the importance of this work, an
ambivalent State Government, insufficient funding to be able to publish
without sponsorship and in one case the lack of suitable type?faces in
Australia have been problems for the Pallottines, just as they were for
Although the history of an institution may be defined as a record of
the accumulated actions and endeavours of many individuals who were
united in action, in one way or another, most histories of institutions
rarely focus on the deeds of individuals themselves. The early history
of the Australian Pallottine Mission is well recorded in Durack's book,
The Rock and the Sand, and the more recent work by Brigida Nailon in
Nothing is Wasted in the Household of God. As these are adequate
records of the missions, it is not my intention here to discuss the
missions themselves, but rather to set out the academic and scientific
achievements of the Pallottine missionaries themselves.
Despite the somewhat inauspicious beginnings and enormous difficulties
that had to be overcome by this Missionary Society in their new
Australian venture, the Pallottines made very important contributions
to the anthropology of Indigenous Australians in two different ways.
First was the direct contribution to linguistic understanding and
anthropological study contributed by Society members themselves. It is
instructive to look at the amount of material amassed by Pallottines
themselves working in the Kimberley, in contrast to what was collected
by government agencies or other interested individuals. Secondly, the
establishment of the missions in remote areas of Australia provided a
base or in some cases a centre that facilitated the work of other
researchers. Some of these were German nationals who must have found
the familiar atmosphere of the missions run by their compatriots a
pleasant haven from the rigours of remote Australia, while others, not
of that nationality, also found the missions a useful place where they
could base themselves in order to conduct research.
Gathering the dispersed populations of indigenous Australians from a
wide area and concentrating them in communities, such as accomplished
by the Missions at Beagle Bay, LaGrange and Balgo certainly facilitated
the research of anthropologists not attached to religious
organisations. Helmut C Petri, Gisela Odermann, Ronald M Berndt and
Catherine H Berndt are amongst those who benefited directly from
Pallottine missionary activity in north?west Australia. Professor
Klaatsch, who worked for three weeks at Beagle Bay, had been critical
of many of the missions that he had visited in Australia, but changed
his generalised view after visiting this young establishment. His
favourable opinion of Beagle Bay was reported in German and Australian
The first of the Pallottine fathers to undertake systematic collections
of anthropological information was the energetic German, Father
Rensmann who arrived in 1903. He had a great interest in Aboriginal
matters and immediately began preparing a dictionary of Njul Njul, one
of the languages of the Dampierland Peninsula. He also managed to
translate a few pieces of liturgy and some prayers into this language.
Sadly, about a year after his arrival, he drowned in a waterhole near
the mission within sight of people who were unaware that he could not
swim. Rensmann extended the earlier work of a Trappist priest Father
Alphonse Tachon, who before 1900, had also collected Njul Njul language
and prepared a few translations to assist in conversions.
Father Bischoffs arrived at the mission in 1905 with similar interests
in the language and culture of the Aboriginal people, although some may
consider that he was too empathic when he dressed in very little except
paint and danced in a welcoming corroboree for a newly arrived party of
nuns. He had a scientific interest in the language and published in the
journal Anthropos as well as preparing some unpublished linguistic
manuscripts. Regrettably, the First World War interrupted his work. It
seems he was a little outspoken when the struggling German mission was
visited by Australian wartime authorities and Father Bischoffs was
arrested dispatched to Liverpool near Sydney for internment. This
brought to a close the important anthropological work that he had begun
with such fervour. He eventually transferred to South Africa and died
there in 1958.
In 1930 a priest arrived who was to he the anthropological jewel in the
tiara of the Pallottine missions. Father Ernest Ailred Worms was to be
a member of the Society for 49 years and a priest for 43 of them. He
was appointed parish priest of Broome in 1931. His anthropological
interest in Aboriginal people and his compassion for their plight in
the remote parts of Australia never waned during these long years of
service. Durack recounts a story of how a wandering resident heard
Aboriginal chants coming from a ceremonial ground near Broome and moved
closer to observe. As he noticed there were a number of Catholic
Aborigines present and participating, he immediately contemplated
reporting their names to the new parish priest. Glancing around he saw
that very priest squatting in the outer circle of elders busily taking
Father Ernest Worms of Borchum, in the diocese of Muenster was born in
1891. He entered the Society in 1912, but his divinity studies were
interrupted when he was called up for military service during the First
World War in which he was seriously wounded. He won the Kaiser's Iron
Cross during this tragic conflict. Returning to the seminary after
hostilities concluded, he continued his studies, being ordained in
1920. His courses had included some linguistics and studies in
ethnology (the branch of anthropology dealing with the various groups
of humanity, their origins, distinctive characteristics, customs and
distribution). These lectures were presented by Dr Herman Nekes, about
whom we will hear more.
On the appointment of Fr Worms as parish priest of Broome after 10
years in German speaking missions, he was dismayed to find that all
study of Aboriginal language and customs had ceased with the departure
of Father Bischoffs. This situation was the result of economic and
other concerns of survival, but now that some prosperity was being
enjoyed, he recommenced anthropological studies amongst the local
Aboriginal people, eventually extending his studies to peoples
originating in the desert south of Gregory Salt Lake.
He did not have an easy time of this. Some of his fellow missionaries
thought his activities were a waste of time, but the scientist in
Father Worms had a different idea. He saw that the Aboriginal capacity
for balancing different faiths on different shoulders was an
illustration of their extremely deep spirituality. He felt that this
characteristic could be a stepping stone from which the missionaries
could build a people strong in Christian faith. I will speak further
about Society members who managed to use the vernacular in religious
celebrations to enhance both the understanding and enjoyment of
Father Worms' ethnological studies led him to follow the ancient
Aboriginal routes of cultural exchange that proceed from the Indian
Ocean inland up the Fitzroy River to the reservoir of Aboriginal
religious practice in the interior deserts. Durack asserts that, "he
would return from these expeditions sunburnt, almost inarticulate with
excitement and in his own words 'stripped as far as decency would
allow', most of his clothing having been given away in token of thanks
to his native guides."
He also found opportunities to explore the rock galleries flanking the
river gorges of the north Kimberley region in which are painted huge
representations of heroic ancestral figures that have interested every
individual who has ever seen them, and some who have only heard of
them. Despite the inane claims of some authors, these Wandjina figures
, whose heads are surrounded by radiant headdresses, are not depictions
of extraterrestrials. They depict entities from the creative formative
period of the Aboriginal Dreaming who had and have far greater
influence over the spiritual practices of Australian Aboriginal People
than any pop celebrity could ever hope for over the young.
One should not imagine that Father Worms neglected either his
parishioners or his ecclesiastical responsibilities whilst thus
engaged. Perhaps he had some time during his travels to dream as did
the founder of his spiritual path Saint Vincent, because we shall see
that he had aspirations for expanding the mission influence into
remotest parts of the Kimberley where the Christian message had not yet
When Bishop Raible opened the Pallottine College in Kew in 1938, he
appointed Fr Worms as the first Rector. Professor Father Nekes also
transferred to Kew so that their scientific collaboration could
continue. One result of their linguistic studies is a work including
twenty?six languages that was eventually published on microfilm. In
1948, Father Worms returned to the Kimberley region where he worked
until 1957 before being called to the theological college at Manly in
Sydney as Rector. Using a grant from the Wenner?Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Work based in New York, he made a nine month expedition
to Central and Western Australia in 1960 to verify some of his earlier
observations. In 1961 he was made a member of the Institute of
Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Studies, indicating that he was
well respected by fellow academics, one of whom N B Tindale, dedicated
a major work to his memory with the following words:
To the memory of Father Ernest A. Worms whose active encouragement,
beginning in the year 1952, led to the preparation of this work in its
present form. A further acknowledgement of the contribution Fr Worms
came when he was one of the select group invited to the Conference on
Aboriginal Studies in May 1961 during which he was elected as a member
of the Linguistic Advisory Panel. This conference saw the foundation of
what was to become the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, and
later as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Studies it has evolved into a premier institution researching
and publishing on Aboriginal and Torres Straits themes. Sadly, in the
third issue of the fledgling Institute's Newsletter, an Obituary to
Father Worms appears. He died of cancer in St Vincent's Hospital,
Sydney, on August 13th, 1963 at the age of 72, but even during the last
year of his life he contributed to a work of many volumes under the
general title of Die Religionen der Menschheit.
Father Worms' mentor and later his collaborator, the Pallottine Father
Herman Nekes, was a native of Essen where he was born in 1875. He was
ordained in 1899, gaining a Doctorate in Theology in 1900. The
following year he went to a mission in Jaunde near Cameroon working on
languages there until 1909. For the next 6 years, he was lecturer in
West African languages at the Seminary for Oriental Languages in
Berlin. From 1916, he lectured at the philosophical and theological
academy of the Pallottine Province of Limburg on missiology, ethnology
and linguistics. Concurrently he edited two of the mission publications
of the province.
It was during 1918 at Limburg that Father Worms came under his
influence. Nekes became so interested in the work of his former student
in the Kimberley that in 1935 when he was 60 years of age, he came out
to Australia to join him at Beagle Bay, to work on linguistic and
ethnological studies in Aboriginal culture. They at once began their
combined study of tribal languages, which they believed held the key to
the mystery of Aboriginal origins. Fr Nekes worked on this monumental
task in Dampierland while Fr Worms gathered information far and wide.
Prior to World War II, Fr Nekes expanded the research into Nyul Nyul
undertaken by his predecessors and prepared versions of the basic
prayers in that language. Father Nekes also extended his investigations
to include studies of Bard at Lombadina, the Yawuru of Broome and the
coastal Karajarri at LaGrange. Father Nekes died in Kew in 1948.
We have reviewed contributions made by Pallottine Fathers for the first
half of the twentieth Century, and have arrived at the time of the
second World War of that period. Never short of over?reactive
nationalism in times of conflict, the Australian authorities again
seized all the non?naturalised missionaries of the Kimberley and
interned them during World War II. Fortunately, after a brief period of
imprisonment, common sense prevailed, and except for the three most
recent arrivals to the Kimberley missions who were sent to Melbourne to
serve in parishes there, the German missionaries from North?West
Australia were released and allowed to return to their respective
establishments, and they managed to remain circumspect in their
correspondence and public attitudes until peace again reigned.
By the end of World War II, two of Father Worm's wishes had come true.
A mission had been established at La Grange Bay about 200 kilometres
south of Broome and after several false starts, and another at Balgo
Hills on the tablelands, 270 kilometres into the desert, south of Halls
Creek. Pallottine Fathers at both of these localities continued the
anthropological and linguistic work of their predecessors in the
Father Kevin McKelson was born in Melbourne in 1926. Apparently, his
father was a Union man in the hatter's trade and supported Trades Hall,
so Kevin's social conscience developed at an early age. He grew up in
Brunswick and later studied at Kew before completing his studies in
Rome. Back in Australia, he was involved in teaching young priests at
the centre in Sydney before going to Broome in July 1954, where he was
treasurer of the diocese and Vicar General until about 1970 under
Bishop Jobst. In about 1961 he went to La Grange, now Bidyadanga, where
he remained for some 30 years.
Always interested in languages Father McKelson studied the Kimberley
language groups, in particular the five languages spoken at La Grange
Mission, Nyangumarta, Karajarri Yulpadja, Juwaliny and Mangala. Among
his extensive manuscripts and publications, one can find a Topical
Vocabulary in Northern Nyangumarta for use by teachers and other
persons interested in the language. He would have liked to have taught
these languages but determined Government policies aimed at preventing
all Aboriginal cultural endeavours, refused to permit this, until very
recent times. Now that this policy has been reversed, there are
considerable resources in these languages gathered by Fr. McKelson as
I came to know Fr McKelson in the last years that he was in La Grange
and discovered a man of enormous compassion and humanity. In fact, just
the kind of person that one would wish to see as a Missionary. He has
now moved back into Broome becoming involved with Notre Dame University
as Chaplain and a teacher of Divinity. In July 2000, he celebrated 50
years of priesthood in services in Broome, Melbourne and La Grange.
A little later, a very gifted man, Father Anthony Rex Peile arrived in
the Kimberley. He was born in 1931 in East Malvern, Victoria. In May
1949 at the age of 19, this man, already conversant with Latin, Greek,
German and French, joined the Society. He undertook his philosophical
studies at Kew, before the Society sent him to Vallendar in Germany to
complete his four years of theological training. Father Peile was
ordained on 22 July 1956 at Vallendar along with some priests from the
North German province. To acquire the tools to be an effective
missionary among Australian Aboriginal people he did incidental
linguistic studies in Brisbane and studied general anthropology through
the University of California. He moved to Balgo, ( now renamed
Wirrimanu) in 1973, where he remained for most of his life. He died in
January 1989 and was mourned in traditional style by his Aboriginal
friends in Balgo who also ritually swept his house in Balgo with tree
Fr Peile undertook linguistic research at Balgo and began amassing
information supplied by local Kukatja people, on health and well?being,
the uses of medicinal plants and the language relevant to these topics
used by the Kukatja people. This enterprise became his passion and his
life's work. On a previous occasion, I have referred to how Father
Peile strove to transmit his research findings to health workers to
help them understand the cultural imperatives and patterns of thought
of Aboriginal people concerning health and sickness, with the aim of
delivering appropriate medical assistance. Regrettably, he had
difficulty finding recognition and acceptance of this work by the
government and church health organizations during his lifetime.
Eventually, some of this work has been published earning him wide
respect. In 1993, the Luurnpa Catholic School at Wirrimanu (Balgo
Hills) published a Kukatja to Enghsh Dictionary based on Father Peile's
extensive Word Lists that were edited by Hilaire Valiquette. Fr Peile's
works in Kukatja include some Scripture texts, sermons and the Catholic
Mass that will be a boon to both clergy and laity in that community. It
seems that his Bishop's criticism that Anthony was not producing
Kukatja material relevant to the converted may have been wrong.
There were other Pallottine missionaries who contributed to a general
understanding of Aboriginal spirituality and who recognized the value
of the vernacular in pastoral practice. I remember witnessing a Mass at
Balgo at Pentecost, where the Aboriginal ritual celebrating the first
coming of fire into their culture, was incorporated into the
celebration of the Mass. The biblical tongues of flame, symbolic of the
bestowal of linguistic capabilities on the Apostles during the sermon
preached on that particular day, was later the subject of considerable
discussion among Aboriginal people. I assume that this inclusion of an
indigenous rite came from the influence of Father Hevern and Father
Peile who were at Balgo at the time. According to notes supplied by
Father McKelson, Father Werner Kriener, now retired but for many years
the pastor of Halls Creek parish, also became adept at implementing the
directives on liturgy made by Vatican II regarding the participation of
the people in the liturgy, by following their example.
Week of June 26, 2006
Marc Cramer heard unlikely call to priesthood
Once a Mormon, he was drawn
back to the faith of his youth
Archbishop Thomas Collins ordaines Father Marc Cramer st St. Joseph's
Basilica on June 19.
The Mormons welcomed him and taught him about loving Jesus and
neighbour. They also ignited his love for Scriptures and taught him
about preaching and mission work.
But Marc Cramer was becoming increasingly uneasy, feeling a sense of
emptiness that was beyond what he could handle.
It was only after Cramer returned to the faith of his parents that he
began to make sense of it all. "After I received the Eucharist for the
first time, that emptiness left me," he recalled. "I knew then that God
was calling me."
That was a call to the priesthood, a call Cramer realized June 19 when
Archbishop Thomas Collins, assisted by Archbishop Emeritus Joseph
MacNeil, ordained him a priest for the Edmonton Archdiocese before a
full house at St. Joseph's Basilica.
Close to 60 priests embraced him, thus welcoming him into the fold.
Friends, his two brothers and his parents and other members of his
family were also there to witness Cramer's ordination.
In his homily Collins reminded Cramer, 36, that the priesthood is an
invitation to serve and not to seek power or gain. "Priests are called
to bring the presence of the Lord to the world," he said. "The
priesthood is an instrument to serve the Lord."
The archbishop said a priest promises obedience because he doesn't
choose where he wants to go. Priests are sent wherever there is a need.
"The needs of the Church take priority over our personal needs or
desires," the archbishop said.
Collins has already appointed Cramer as associate pastor at St.
Joseph's Basilica and the newly ordained priest is excited about it.
"I'm looking forward to work in a parish that is so ethnically
diverse," he said. "It's a big parish and there is a lot to do."
Cramer knows himself and believes he will be a caring, passionate and
patient priest. He also vows to share the pie. "I'm not so arrogant to
think I'll do everything by myself. I'll just do my part. I believe a
priest should play a role in helping the laity to do what the Second
Vatican Council told them to do."
Born in Edmonton in 1970, Cramer lived in Bonnyville, Cold Lake,
Germany and British Columbia as a child because his father was in the
military. But it was in Cold Lake, in the Cherry Grove hamlet, where he
met the Mormons at age 16.
He had attended Catholic school there and was a member of the local
Catholic parish. But as there was no youth group geared toward people
his age, Cramer gravitated to the Mormon community.
"I had to choose."
Fr. Marc Cramer
"I joined them because of a great need to belong, to be part of
something," he said just hours before his ordination. "They accepted
me. I was befriended by people that were my own age in the Mormon
community and I felt a great sense of belonging."
Cramer did mission work with the Mormons in Brazil in 1990 and got
married in 1994. The marriage lasted three years and was eventually
annulled by the Mormon Church.
"I have the experience of marriage and I think that helps me to
understand what's important about marriage," he observed. Mormons
encourage members to marry but, as Cramer now knows, "marriage is not
He spent more than a decade with the Mormons faithfully attending
"I learned a lot from them. They were wonderful people in many ways.
But what happened is that I went through a lot in my life and I started
to feel a great sense of emptiness in my life, a really profound sense
of emptiness," he said.
"I would go to church every Sunday; I was part of the Mormon community
and they were good to me but there was something really missing. And
then I started praying really hard about what do I need to do to fill
that emptiness out."
Desire to serve God
He kept feeling an urge to return to his parents' faith, the Catholic
faith. While he was attending university, people would often tell him
he was cut out to be a priest, something he thought was out of the
question because he was a Mormon.
"I'd always felt within me though a sense of wanting to serve God and
to give myself. I just didn't know completely how to do that," he said.
In the summer of 1998 he decided to explore a return to the faith and
visited Father Karol Zynel at St. Andrew's Parish in Edmonton. The
priest welcomed him back and gave him the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Then Cramer started attending daily Mass and reading a lot.
When he received the Eucharist for the first time in 1999 the emptiness
he had been feeling left him completely. And his desire to give himself
totally to the Lord only increased.
Cramer talked to Father Sylvain Casavant, then vocations director for
"I felt drawn (to the priesthood) but at the same time I didn't know if
I could do this." At that time he was working as a gas station manager
and pursuing an education degree because he also felt called to be a
teacher. "The two were tearing me apart. I had to choose."
A major car accident Easter week 1999 helped him make his decision. He
was living a fast life and the accident slowed him down. "It made me
Then he visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and asked
for her guidance. "Intellectually I knew this is where I would be
happy. I said, 'Lord, if you want me to be a priest, help me solve
On Casavant's recommendation, Cramer entered the seminary in 2001. He
did his internship at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove and Stony
Plain from 2003 to 2004. The internship helped him discern whether he
was up to the task and to learn the practical work of his vocation.
He came back to Holy Trinity last year to serve as a deacon and said
Father Paul Terrio, the pastor, was a good role model. "He is a great
pastor, a great spiritual director and a great confrere," he wrote in
his ordination booklet.
"Marc is very generous with his time and energy; I know he is going to
be a giving priest," Terrio said after Cramer's ordination. "The Parish
of Holy Trinity enjoyed having him as an intern and as a deacon because
he is ardent and vibrant."
Cramer's parents, Roland and Collette, seemed genuinely proud of their
son. "I'm very happy because this is a dream come true for Marc,"
Collette said he was not surprised Marc chose the priesthood because
"we brought him up in the Catholic faith" and as a young boy "he was
always very devoted."
The Lost Men : The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea
Party By Kelly
384 pages | Viking | ISBN
0670034126 | $25. 95 / Ł12.99
An historian, the author of
this account of Antarctic exploration spent two months in Antarctica
researching her book. Using personal journals, letters and previously
unpublished photographs she has laboriously reconstructed the unknown
side to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful Imperial Trans-Antarctic
Expedition of 1914-17. Thanks in part to the film with Kenneth Branagh
as the charming, energetic and persuasive Shackleton, most people know
the story of how his ship, the Endurance, broke up in polar ice on the
Weddell Sea, leaving 22 members of the party stranded on Elephant
Island and Shackleton himself with five companions to navigate a
20-foot open boat 700 miles to the island of South Georgia. The
extraordinary feat of bringing the castaways to eventual safety is
heroic in itself -- but it has overshadowed a more generous feat of
suffering and sacrifice: the saga of the Ross Sea party.
Shackleton’s strategy was simple, on paper at least. In December 1914,
as Europe was being slowly engulfed by war, he would sail to Buenos
Aires and from thence to the Weddell Sea, there to strike out overland
for the South Pole. Meanwhile another ship, the Aurora, with a
complementary group of men would sail to Tasmania and from there set
sail for the Ross Sea, the other side of the Antarctic continent. These
men, the Ross Sea party, would commence to build a chain of supply
depots up to the Beardmore Glacier for Shackleton’s party -- their own
provisions exhausted -- to use as they trekked north from the Pole to
meet up with the other team on the other side of the continent.
As we know, the savage and unpredictable Antarctic climate thwarted
this neat plan. Shackleton never set foot on the continent and the
rudimentary wireless technology of the time prevented the Ross Sea
party from knowing this until 1917. Believing rightly that the success
or failure of Shackleton’s expedition depended on their efforts to lay
the depot trail the 10 men chosen for the shore party continued to
carry out the explorer’s instructions doggedly in the face of immense
As the author notes, they were “ten ordinary men”: two teachers, one
clergyman, a geologist, a medical orderly, a clerk, a seaman, a college
athlete and two other sailors. Most of them had never met Shackleton
before. When asked his plans, the great explorer had announced that
“the journey across is the thing I want to do”. He was unprofessional
in his inattention to the small details needed for his expedition. It
was underfunded from the start. The Aurora proved to be ill-equipped
and the sledge dogs were untrained mongrels rather than huskies. When
their ship was forced away from the Ross Sea by severe storms in May
1915 with all its crew, the ten were marooned without enough clothing,
food or equipment. It was two years before the ship was able to return.
It is a testimony to human courage that the shore party did not simply
give up and lie low in the hut at Cape Evans built by Captain Scott’s
ill-fated expedition, spending their time hunting seal for food and
blubber and whiling away the long weeks and months until rescue with
cards, quarrels and an old set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Knowing
they could only trek through the frozen land during the short Antarctic
“summer” -- November to mid-February -- they managed to build five
depots between January and March 1915 in the expectation that
Shackleton and his men were relying on them.
Conditions were appalling: drifts, pack-ice and crevasses impeded their
progress, the temperature fell to -15 at night; they suffered from
snow-blindness and frostbite and their clothing never dried. In one
two-and-a-half hour period they progressed 150 yards. Another time it
took them 11 hours to move one mile. On another occasion they spent
three days gaining seven miles. Sixteen dogs died during this period.
Victor Hayward, who volunteered for the position of “general assistant”
wrote, “We have to relieve Shackleton at the Beardmore Glacier 400
miles distant without any equipment to speak of…” This summed it up.
Mackintosh and Spencer-Smith being dragged on their sledgeThey were
still at their work during the Antarctic winter when the temperatures
often fell to -50. Their poor sledging diet of pemmican and dry
biscuits brought on severe attacks of scurvy, bringing about the slow
death of the kindly, cheerful chaplain and photographer of the party,
Arnold Spencer-Smith, whose body was buried in a snow drift. Two other
scurvy sufferers, Mackintosh, the often irascible one-eyed commander of
the shore party, and Hayward attempted to return to the base camp when
still weak and without provisions. They never arrived and their bodies
were never recovered.
Yet against all the odds the Ross Sea party managed to drag 4,500
pounds of supplies, sledging over 1,356 miles to lay the chain of
depots. Later, when they were reunited with Shackleton and learnt that
their sacrifice had been in vain, the survivors of this magnificent
enterprise built a cairn for their fallen friends with an epitaph taken
from the poet Swinburne: “Things done for gain are nought/but great
things done endure”, adding words of Browning which were more exact:
“Let me pay in a minute life’s arrears of pain, darkness and cold.”
Pain, darkness and cold had certainly been some of what it was about;
courage, camaraderie and stoicism were the rest. Kelly Tyler-Lewis
tells the story of the “ten ordinary men” soberly and with a fine grasp
of detail, carefully balancing it with an account of what happened to
their drifting ship’s crew while they laboured on shore. Sometimes her
chronological and other data threaten to overwhelm the narrative
itself. In books of this genre, her story cannot equal the classic,
personal accounts of Captain Scott’s own Journal or Apsley
Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World. But it is a tale worth
Francis Phillips writes from Bucks, in the UK.
World Cup founder's Catholic roots
The FIFA World Cup
competition now under way in Germany was known originally as the Jules
Rimet Cup in honour of its French founder, a committed Christian
inspired by a vision of "universal brotherhood", according to the
Agence France Presse.
Born in 1873, Jules Rimet moved with his family to Paris where he
became involved in a parish youth club and a Catholic workers study
circle where he "discovered" football.
Inspired by emerging Catholic social teaching, Rimet wanted "to
reconcile the different classes in a Christian spirit and to relieve
the moral and physical suffering of the poorest". In this vision,
football could also make a contribution to "universal peace and
In 1898, he founded a democratic and republican Christian magazine, The
Review which in 1899 merged with The Furrow (Le Sillon), magazine of
the pioneering lay movement of the same name created by Marc Sangnier.
At the time, there were only around 30 football teams in France,
comprising mainly of English expatriates, with only 9 teams based in
At the suggestion of Marc Sangnier, Jules Rimet joined the French Union
of Athletic Sports (USFSA) which promoted English sports in France in
competition with the Church-supported monarchist-tending Youth Clubs
Gymnastic and Sporting Federation (FGSP).
On 21 May 1904, the USFSA launched the International Amateur Football
Federation (FIFA). FIFA, however, refused to include professional
"English" teams. In 1910, Rimet therefore launched the Association
Football League, ancestor of the French Football Federation (FFF) of
which he became president in 1919.
In 1921, Rimet was also elected president of FIFA and set out to
organise a world cup tournament. Starting with the London Olympics of
1908, football was already an Olympic sport with Uruguay winning the
gold medal at the Paris Games of 1924. However, Rimet and other FIFA
leaders, notably Henri Delaunay, wanted to create a competition that
was not exclusively for amateurs.
The issue was soon resolved. In 1925, Rimet convinced the Uruguayan
government to host a "World Championship" and in 1928 FIFA officially
decided to organise "a World Cup competition every four years".
In 1930, Jules Rimet left for Montevideo taking with him a solid gold
and silver statue by the French sculptor Abel Lafleur. France did well
in the inaugural competition which was eventually won by Uruguay
defeating Argentina 4-2.
Rimet's Christian inspired vision thus came to fruition.
The Life and Theme of G.K. Chesterton |
Randall Paine | An
Introduction to The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton
The prospect of a humble man setting out to write an autobiography
suggests an enterprise blighted with potential frustrations–for both
author and reader. Being humble, the author will hardly regard himself
as sterling material for a book. The reader, already poising the book
in his lap, obviously disagrees. Thus the two may find themselves
standing at this ambiguous frontier, staring blankly at each other and
comparing their complementary frustrations. But this is a gamble one
must be willing to take, for there is many a modest soul with a
magnificent tale to tell.
In the case of The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton, we do have a book
that both falls short of and carelessly oversteps the usual framework
of an autobiography. It is with this dilemma we must begin. Here is a
self that reveals by effacing. Indeed, the very depth of Chesterton's
humility and the very extravagance of his intellectual hospitality join
forces to lay open a landscape at once vast and various, and yet so
full of the man's unmistakable presence that both author and reader
promptly forget their frustrations and glue their eyes to a quite
unexpected genre of self-revelation.
In the last years of Chesterton's life, when he was visibly failing but
still prodigiously active, the inevitable request for an autobiography
was repeatedly made. Finally, he obligingly turned to the task,
probably overcoming a natural modesty with an even stronger sense of
humour at the book's prospects, and began dictating. We are tempted to
picture the book's genesis in somewhat the following pattern: The aging
and ailing G.K.C. would settle back into a chair in his studio, light
up a cigar, and begin a long and misty reflection on "the story of my
life and development". His dozens of books all on display in a large
circle around his likewise large and circular body, our author would
proceed to cap these prolific literary labours with a pleasant
reminiscence–a kind of crowning occupation in the leisure of life's
Well, everyone knows that Chesterton never had that kind of leisure.
Even in these later years, as a recent anthologist commented, "He must
have been composing sentences in his head, when he was not actually
writing them, most of his waking hours. The jolly, bibulous journalist
that Chesterton was happy to be considered had become almost pure
mind."  Still occupied full-time with G. K's Weekly and its
excessive demands on his health and meager organizing talents,
Chesterton dictated his Autobiography with the same spontaneous
volubility as his other books. One finds none of the shadows of fatuous
self-contemplation so easily cast over a man's review of his life. But
again, this very absence of self-contemplation may make one wonder if
the book is really about the man at all.
Turning to the Autobiography from any other of Chesterton's nonfiction
works, even the avid Chestertonian might venture the hope that here,
for a change, our author may be expected to stick to his topic. Who
would want to digress from a topic that happened to coincide with one's
own ego? And moreover such an entertaining ego! But suddenly the
landscape we spoke of is beginning to slip into the picture. A frequent
complaint regarding Chesterton's biographies of other men, Robert
Browning, for instance, is that one gets a lot of Chesterton and very
little of Browning. It is no accident, however, that just the converse
criticism has been levelled at his Autobiography. One looks forward to
300-some pages dominated by the figure of the great and lovable man,
and finds instead pages on end full of everyone and everything else. He
warns us early on. "Having littered the world with thousands of essays
for a living, I am doubtless prone to let this story stray into a sort
of essay." Stray it does, but whither it strays tells us more about
Chesterton than any quantity of biographical details.
Whatever his immediate subject, even if it be himself, Chesterton's eye
remains trained on some larger theme that seems to have a secret hold
on the subject itself Many a reader will be puzzled by the resulting
mental itinerary. Again and again, he turns to this larger family of
ideas that seem to encompass the universe. In his book on Rome, he
I know it will be the general impression about this book that I cannot
talk about anything without talking about everything. It is a risk that
I must accept, because it is a method I defend. If I am asked to say
seriously and honestly what I think of a thing ... I must think about
[it] and not merely stare at [it]. 
Chesterton's close friend Hilaire Belloc put it like this:
Truth had for him the immediate attraction of an appetite. He was
hungry for reality. But what is much more, he could not conceive of
himself except as satisfying that hunger; it was not possible for him
to hesitate in the acceptance of each new parcel of truth; it was not
possible for him to hold anything worth holding that was not connected
with the truth as a whole. 
It is only because this larger theme of Chesterton bears in a most
intimate way upon any subject whatsoever that his many digressions are
not really distractions at all–providing, of course, you know the
theme. It is of the very nature of a digression to be off the subject
and on the theme. The uniqueness of this autobiography is that the
dominant theme in the work and life of G. K. Chesterton is stated just
as energetically by his neglect of himself as by his ardent
appreciation of everything else.
The theme to which Chesterton
is forever returning is the world. Reality! Again, Belloc: "The whole
meaning of his life was the discovery, the appreciation of reality. But
his work was made up of bequeathing to others the treasure of knowledge
and certitude upon which he had come."  Chesterton never really got
over the fact that God created the world, and he somehow pities the
rest of us because we have. His writing is therapy for us in our
handicap. Whatever he says, whatever he writes, rebounds off this sense
of astonishment that refuses to grow stale. He invites us to follow him
on this quest of the real and see where it leads us. He looks at his
reader across the pages with a twinkle in his eye and promises
adventure. In his essay "The Wooden Post", Chesterton gives us two
sentences we could take as his "Manifesto of Wonder":
All my mental doors open outwards into a world that I have not made. My
last door of liberty opens upon a world of sun and solid things, of
objective adventures. 
Offering a kind of commentary on this manifesto, he writes in an essay
in The Common Man:
Human beings are happy so long as they retain the receptive power and
the power of reaction in surprise and gratitude to something outside.
So long as they have this they have, as the greatest minds have always
declared, a something that is present in childhood and which can still
preserve and invigorate manhood. The moment the self within is
consciously felt as something superior to any of the gifts that can be
brought to it, or any of the adventures that it may enjoy, there has
appeared a sort of self-devouring fastidiousness and a disenchantment
in advance, which fulfills all the Tartarean emblems of thirst and of
Chesterton was ever in pursuit of that "meat of the mind", as he termed
reality, and he sought it out in all his poems, novels, essays,
biographies, detective stories, and even in his Autobiography. All
things he looked at, even his own huge self, excited this vibrant
wonder and proffered a further commentary on the permanent
Chestertonian theme of appreciation. And though it seemed to take him
far afield of the demanding details of his many topics, more often than
not it brought him back with a vengeance to plumb a new depth that
seems to surprise the subject matter itself. The casual reader thinks
the author is only climbing into the clouds, but in fact he is climbing
to a higher platform to dive for a deeper pearl.
Chesterton did not equivocate about his approach. Though it brought him
the opprobrium of myopic critics, it won the encomiums of those who
understood. He seems to be baiting the former when he casually refers
to his book on Browning:
I will not say that I wrote a book on Browning; but I wrote a book on
love, liberty, poetry, my own views on God and religion. (highly
undeveloped), and various theories of my own about optimism and
pessimism and the hope of the world; a book in which the name of
Browning was introduced from time to time, I might almost say with
considerable art, or at any rate with some decent appearance of
This tongue-in-cheek confession. was made late in his life. When the
book on Browning first appeared in 1903, young Alfred Noyes judged it
to contain "not only the most thorough interpretation of Browning that
has yet been written, but also a remarkable exposition of criticism in
general, and a number of exquisite surfaces and symbols of a very
profound philosophy of life".  The experts grudgingly admitted that
he often happened onto the matrix of a man's genius and the seat of
life of his literary production, disclosures strangely eluding everyone
T. S. Eliot was hardly sympathetic to the style and even the humour of
Chesterton. The former he found "exasperating to the last point of
endurance", and the latter reminded him of "a 'busman slapping himself
on a frosty day". Well, all right. But even such an unsympathetic and
exacting critic as this found Chesterton's 1908 study of Charles
Dickens to be "the best essay on that author that has ever been
The literary and intellectual leap from the Pickwick Papers to the
Summa Theologica is sufficiently wide to activate a university full of
academic competencies. Our sportive journalist, without an academic
degree to his name, ventured the bound unaccompanied. Or was it a
bounce? For what Eliot said of his book on the greatest English
novelist, the eminent Thomist Éttienne Gilson (let it be
repeated for the thousandth time) echoed almost verbatim about
Chesterton's rapidly composed book on the greatest Catholic theologian:
"I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever
written on St. Thomas." 
What, then, are we to expect from such a man's autobiography? The best
book ever written on Chesterton? Certainly not, if what you want is the
best book on the subject of Chesterton. Maisie Ward's biography will
give you much more Chesterton per page. The Autobiography tells you
next to nothing about his wife, his relations, his house, his health,
his chronology, and a score of other details–all crucial to the
subject. But if it is the theme of G. K. Chesterton you seek, this book
is the best. He was careless about the details of his other topics, but
instinctively thought his way through to their hearts. He saw no reason
to change his method just because his own inelegant self was now under
For thirty years, Chesterton had tried in his many kinds of books to
open the doors of our perception so that we might learn to exercise
that "most wild and soaring sort of imagination: the imagination that
can see what is there".  The books infuse us with an imaginative
appreciation of and a discerning gratitude for the world God freely
created, and might very well have never created at all. They haunt us
with the riddle of the universe and acquaint us with the adamantine
lock of its mystery. They dispatch us on the quest of its key. But more
than anything else, they teach us how to look at the world in a way
that makes it possible for us actually to see it.
All the great man's books offer us lessons in appreciative humility.
But the Autobiography is different, and the difference lies in the
dilemma we began with. Here, as elsewhere, Chesterton peers through to
the bottom and sights a paradox brimming with instruction. The other
books turn to tales or poems or detective stories or essays or whatever
helps us recover intellectual sanity. Here, in this book, he turns to
himself And in doing so, he rears back and merrily announces his last
and definitive paradox: Yes, this book really is about G. K.
Chesterton–and the most central fact about G.K. Chesterton is a fact
that is beyond him. All his writings point to that truth. This book
shows us that the man himself pointed to it best of all.
Just weeks after penning the last pages of the Autobiography,
Chesterton lay dying in Beaconsfield. Fr. Vincent McNabb, honoring his
friend with a Dominican privilege, sang the Salve Regina over his
expiring body; he then picked up Chesterton's pen from the bedside
table and kissed it. That pen, like the long boney finger of St. John
the Baptist, best told the story of its owner by pointing adamantly and
awesomely at Someone Else. Ilium oportet crescere, me autem minui.
 P.J. Kavanagh, A Chesterton Anthology (San Francisco: Ignatius
Press, 1985), Introduction.
 G.K. Chesterton, The Resurrection of Rome (London, 1937), p. 217;
The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, 21: 407.
 Hilaire Belloc, Saturday Review of Literature, July 4, 1936, p. 4.
 Idem, quoted in Mother Loughram, Catholics in England between 1918
and 1945 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1954), p. 168.
 G.K. Chesterton, Colored Lands (New York, 1938), p. 160.
 Idem, The Common Man (London, 1950), pp. 252-53.
 G.K. Chesterton, The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton, "How to Be a
Lunatic", p. 103.
 In D.J. Conlon, G.K. Chesterton: The Critical Judgments, pt. 1
(Antwerp; 1976), p. 67.
 Ibid., pp. 444-45.
 Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (New York; 1953), p. 620.
 G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, in Collected Works, 2: 148.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Pages:
• Author page for G.K. Chesterton
• The God in the Cave | G.K. Chesterton
• "What Is America?" | G.K. Chesterton
• G.K. Chesterton: Common Sense Apostle & Cigar Smoking Mystic |
• Hot Water and Fresh Air: On Chesterton and His Foes | Janet E. Smith
• Chesterton and Saint Francis | Joseph Pearce
• Chesterton and the Delight of Truth | James V. Schall, SJ
Fr. Randall Paineis a priest of the Archdiocese of Brasilia, Brazil,
and professor of philosophy at the University of Brasilia. He is the
author of The Universe and Mr. Chesterton (Sherwood Sugden, 1999), a
study of G.K. Chesterton's philosophical thought.
The Shakespeare Code
May 7-13, 2006
by FATHER ANDREAS KRAMARZ, LC
“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes / I all alone beweep my
What does William Shakespeare’s immortal Sonnet 29 really mean?
Was the melancholy Bard transmitting a coded message?
The hypothesis that the playwright concealed his secret Catholic
identity during the years of Elizabethan persecution has long been the
subject of academic daydreams. But startling revelations in a book that
is so far available only in German may take the hypothesis out of the
realm of dreams. In a previous issue of the Register (Feb. 5-11),
Jennifer Roche wrote about recent textual discoveries. Hildegard
Hammerschmidt-Hummel’s book The Hidden Existence of William
Shakespeare: Poet and Rebel in the Catholic Underground covers recent
historical discoveries. A centerpiece in the book is a hitherto unknown
entry in the Pilgrims’ Book of the English College in Rome. On April
16, 1585, a Gulielmus Clerkue Stratfordienses (William, Secretary of
Stratford) signed his name on arriving to the college.
Was this the same William who was born in Stratford-on-Avon?
Shakespeare would have been 21 at the time. Similar entries are to be
found in 1587 and 1589. Remarkably, these three visits in Rome coincide
with the so-called seven “lost years” in Shakespeare’s official
biography. It also coincides with the dates that English Catholics in
exile met in Rome with their leaders Robert Parsons and William Allen
to develop new strategies of resistance in the Protestant England of
Queen Elizabeth I.
Scholars have long agreed that Shakespeare’s family background was
staunchly Catholic, as Roche reported. Hammerschmidt now offers further
details that support the thesis that Shakespeare held to the faith of
his family, preferring to hide his true colors and work secretly rather
than risk martyrdom.
For seven years, William was taught at the Latin school by Simon Hunt,
a Catholic. In 1575, Hunt went to the Jesuit Collegium Anglicum in
Douay, which in turn moved to Rheims, France, in 1578. Perhaps not
coincidentally, Rheims figures as a place of study in Shakespeare’s The
Taming of the Shrew. Hammerschmidt claims that the young Shakespeare,
on reaching college age in 1578, would have gone to study there.
Rheims was then the only English Catholic college, and represented the
normal route for other English Catholics who desired to study
humanities. This education there would have provided him with all
necessary requisites for his later career in poetry. Hammerschmidt
cites a record of Shakespeare’s father John raising a major loan that
year and surmises that its purpose may have been to finance these
As Ernst Honigmann points out in his book on Shakespeare’s “lost
years,” William took a job as a private tutor in 1580 in the household
of Alexander Hoghton in Lancashire under the name Shakeshafte, which
had already been used by his grandfather. At that time, the place where
he taught was a Catholic stronghold or even, as Richard Wilson writes
in the Times Literary Supplement (Dec. 19, 1997), “nothing less than
the secret college and headquarters of the English Counter
Reformation,” equipped with a big library and dedicated to an intense
apologetic work against the Anglican “heretics.”
Furthermore, Shakespeare is mentioned in Hoghton’s will. The same
document, in what Hammerschmidt calls coded language, gives hints to
Hoghton’s involvement in a secret organization for the protection of
hiding Catholic priests. In 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway and
took up residence at Stratford. What would he have been doing in Rome
three years later, then, in order to have signed the college’s
guestbook? Hammerschmidt proposes that Shakespeare’s sudden departure
from England may have been triggered by the embroilment of the
Arden-Somerville family — his mother’s family — in a Catholic
conspiracy. He may have feared that his own membership in a Catholic
secret organization could have brought him into trouble, and might have
preferred to disappear for a while.
Only in 1592 does the historical record definitively resume as
Shakespeare again surfaces in London at the beginning of his
illustrious career. Even then, Shakespeare may have remained secretly
linked to the Catholic resistance. Shakespeare acquired part of the
London Blackfriars building (though he himself never lived there). The
Dominican facility was riddled with hidden tunnels and passages, and
was a meeting place and refuge for persecuted priests. The building’s
purpose came to light in 1623, after Shakespeare’s death, when a
ceiling suddenly collapsed during a secret Catholic service, killing 99
of the faithful. They were denied Church burial by the Anglican
archbishop of London.
When Shakespeare bought this property, in the contract he gave
indications that reveal, as Hammerschmidt writes, “an almost perfect
arrangement of the Catholic underground: The poet contributed the
lodging and the owner of the Mermaid Tavern the food provisions; a
magnate of a ship secured the transportation and the business manager
of Shakespeare’s company the organization. The nearby theater could
provide costumes, wigs and false beards, if required.”
Shakespeare provided for the house’s upkeep even after his death. Could
he then have traveled once more to Rome? In October 1613, the presumed
pseudonym Ricardus Stratfordus appears on the college’s guestbook —
“Richard” was the name of Shakespeare’s paternal grandfather and also
of the last of his brothers, buried in Stratford in February 1613. As
Jennifer Roche and some Register readers already pointed out, not a few
passages of Shakespeare’s work take on fresh meaning in the light of
his crypto-Catholicism and the inner conflict of conscience occasioned
by the high opinion in which London society held their most-esteemed
poet. Hammerschmidt reads sonnets 29 and 66 as bemoaning the desperate
situation of the Catholic population of Elizabethan England. Curiously,
X-ray research now tells us that the poet’s famous flower-portrait was
painted over a beautiful picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary with her
child. Does that mirror the fact that Shakespeare himself led a double
life? If Hammerschmidt’s theories are true, Shakespeare’s genius is
further reflected in his ability to so discreetly reflect on Catholic
issues in public, that his true intentions are revealed only to the eye
of the initiated. And Elizabeth herself, one of Shakespeare’s greatest
admirers, would have been shocked to learn his real intent in writing
the concluding line of Sonnet 29: “I scorn to change my state with
Legionary Father Andreas Kramarz teaches at the Legionaries of Christ’s
Novitiate and College of Humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut.
Festival Recalls Sweden's Queen Convert (Queen Christina of Sweden)
By Elizabeth Lev
ROME, NOV. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Last week Rome paid homage to the
woman who chose to be a Catholic rather than queen.
The conversion of Queen Christina of Sweden, daughter of Lutheran King
Gustavus Adolfus II, to Roman Catholicism astounded Europe in 1654 as
did her declaration that she "couldn't live another day if she didn't
live it in Rome."
November marked the 350th anniversary of Queen Christina's arrival in
Rome, and the Eternal City celebrated a weeklong series of concerts in
honor of the great patroness of music, art and literature, whose
dedication to culture earned her the title of the "Minerva of the
An illustrious committee of patrons organized the event, from the Holy
See to the Italian government to the embassies of France, Spain and
Sweden. Their involvement allowed the "Roma Festival Barocco" to unite
some of the city's most prestigious venues with performances of several
unpublished scores from the Baroque era, the Age of Christina.
The seven-day festival opened Nov. 6 with Mass at the Basilica of Santa
Maria in Trastevere as a moving reminder of the courageous conversion
that brought Christina to Rome. Tremendous efforts of both liturgical
scholars and music scholars made the special Mass a truly extraordinary
A hitherto unknown manuscript by Boniface Graziani, an Italian composer
born in 1604, was rediscovered in the archives of Santa Maria in
Trastevere. The manuscript contains the composition for a Mass for four
voices and for the first time in the modern era, the work was sung
during the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the president
of the Pontifical Commission of the Cultural Goods of the Church.
Every day of the festival Rome offered splendid concerts. In the
exquisite church of San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane, so tiny it could
fit inside one of the piers of St. Peter's, musician Rosario Cicero
played the intimate chamber music that so entertained the nobility of
Rome during the 17th century.
These pieces, several composed by A.M. Bortolotti who worked at
Christina's court, were written for guitar and lute. Performed on
faithful replicas of Baroque instruments, the music called to mind the
many Caravaggio paintings representing youthful musicians.
Numerous types of compositions were presented during the week
demonstrating the wide variety of music produced in Christina's times.
Organ recitals, Masses, semi-operatic dramas as well as oratorios
provided a dazzling display of musical virtuosity.
Although originated by St. Philip Neri in the 16th century, the
"oratorio" fully developed under the patronage of Roman nobility during
the following century. The papal families of the Pamphilj and the
Rospigliosi, as well as Queen Christina herself, commissioned these
works to be performed in their own domestic settings. The oratorio
consists of sacred, but not liturgical, texts put to music. They were
usually divided into two acts, often with a sermon between the two.
Two oratorios were on the program this week, both taken from stories of
saints. The first was titled "Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi" by
Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier. It was written at the request of Cardinal
Francesco de' Medici in 1688 to celebrate the Florentine saint who had
been canonized in 1666. It was performed in the magnificent Palazzo
Farnese, the most beautiful residence in Rome, and home to Queen
Christina for several years.
The second oratorio, recounting the story of the conversion and
penitence of St. Pelagia, was written for Queen Christina's court in
1677 by Alessandro Stradella. This story of a young woman, who while
intelligent, was tempted by the devil to dedicate herself to worldly
pleasures, must have had special meaning for Christina.
This week, as in the days of old, Rome proved itself capable of
arranging a celebration worthy of queen. Amid beautiful settings,
surrounded by beguiling strains of music, the senses were delighted in
order to draw the spirit to higher purpose.
Tasmania's first bishop
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Bishop's remains set to return to Hobart
Reporter: Jocelyn Nettlefold
KERRY O'BRIEN: Graves aren't re-opened lightly, but plans are now in
place for the remains of a Catholic bishop to be removed from an
English grave and sent across the world to Hobart for reburial. Robert
Willson was Tasmania's first ever bishop and something of a radical
social progressive in colonial Australia. Bishop Willson had always
hoped to end his days in the island state, but instead died during a
short visit to the UK. One hundred and forty years later, the Tasmanian
Catholics are set to grant Bishop Willson's final wish. Jocelyn
FR BRIAN NICHOLS, CATHEDRAL PARISH: He certainly was on the world
stage. He came from this little town called Hobart, went back to his
country of origin and pleaded on behalf of those who were suffering.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: As the first Catholic bishop appointed to the
fledgling colony of Van Dieman's Land back in the early 19th century
Robert Willson may not be a household name. But he played a major role
in transforming Australia from a penal colony to the free society we
FR BRIAN NICHOLS: I think he's left a huge legacy. We tend to think
perhaps of people in the past of being dressed in their finery and not
being associated or in touch with everyday life. This man was quite
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: As soon as Robert Willson arrived in Hobart in
1844, he was appalled by the brutality, suffering and despair of the
convict system. He immediately began lobbying the Imperial Government
in London for a ban on convicts being tortured and whipped. That was
just the start of Bishop Willson's campaign.
BRIAN MATTHEWS, ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN: More than 50 per cent of his
flock were convicts. He came to a place where there was great suffering
in the convict system. Indeed, he very quickly tackled that and he was
instrumental in having Norfolk Island closed as a penal settlement.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Bishop Willson's scathing reports on the way
convicts and the mentally ill were being treated in NSW, Victoria and
Tasmania helped end the transportation of convicts to Australia in
1852. Father Brian Nicols runs the Hobart parish founded by Willson.
FR BRIAN NICHOLS: He was able to see in his role as bishop something
much more wider than just ministering to his local flock.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Another of the bishop's legacies is St Mary's
Cathedral, the church he built for the congregation yet never lived to
see. Now parishoners want to honour Willson's intention to be laid to
rest at St Mary's. Church leaders have started arranging for his mortal
remains to be shipped back from England and reinterred in a new crypt.
PARISHIONER: First I wondered about the expense, but then I realised
that he's truly a great man, not just for the church, but also for the
PARISHIONER #2: And it's a pity there isn't a plaque around here
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: This is where Bishop Willson was laid to rest, St
Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, central England. It's the parish
where he worked before being told by Rome to head for Hobart.
Nottingham city fathers, all Protestant men, had actually tried to stop
the Catholic bishop from leaving town in 1942. That's because he was
the sort of leader, says Father Geoffrey Dunton, who wasn't afraid to
get his hands dirty.
FR GEOFFREY DUNTON, ST BARNABUS, NOTTINGHAM: He very much worked for
the poor, the sick and in those times it was during the cholera endimic
that struck the town of Nottingham in the 1830s.
BRIAN MATTHEWS: He wasn't just a pious do-gooder. You can conjure up an
image of these people and sometimes it can be repulsive. He had
humanity to them which is again perhaps not normally associated with
19th century bishops.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Brian Andrews started researching the life of
Robert Willson because of the friendship the bishop shared with the
great earlier Victorian architect Augustus Pugin. Pugin, perhaps best
known for the interiors and furnishings for the British Houses of
Parliament, gave Willson an ecclesiastical treasure-trove of designs
and objects to take to Australia.
BRIAN MATTHEWS: From tiny country churches with beautifully elegant and
simple pieces of silver, metal work, chalices and so forth, designed by
Pugin for Willson to glorious silk vestment.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: When time came for Robert Willson to no longer wear
those vestments and retire from the church, records show he wanted to
stay in Tasmania, but was refused a government pension.
BRIAN MATTHEWS: Through an intermediary he bought a pub at auction.
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Is that surprising?
BRIAN MATTHEWS: Well, what can I say? He wasn't an Irishman. If he was
Irish one might think, yes, naturally buy a pub. He was English to the
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: He died during a short visit back to his homeland
in 1866 and was buried at the Pugin-designed Nottingham Cathedral.
FR GEOFFREY DUNTON: We know in the crypt of St Barnabas Cathedral
you'll see a plaque and on the plaque it says, "Here lies the body of
Robert Willson, Doctor of Divinitya, Bishop of Hobart."
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: While modern renovations have made it difficult to
pinpoint exactly where the remains are radar scanning last month has
given the Tasmanian retrieval team hope that the bishop could be on his
way there in the next year or two. Worshippers at St Mary's are
inspired at the prospect of welcoming Bishop Willson home.
FR BRIAN NICHOLS: He set a path of justice and compassion and a path of
real understanding of the plight of people who were in need. To bring
him back here I think is quite significant.
PARISHIONER: I think it is wonderful and we'll be glad to have him home
KERRY O'BRIEN: The bishop who had a pub.
Descartes: the life of René
Descartes and its place in his times
Free Press, ŁŁ20
Tablet bookshop price ŁŁ18.
The writings of Descartes, the “father of modern philosophy”, are still
part of the staple diet for philosophy students throughout the Western
world. Countless undergraduates have cut their philosophical teeth on
the Meditations (1641), and have followed Descartes on his lonely
voyage of discovery: losing confidence in everything, even the
existence of the ordinary world around him, he descends into a morass
of darkness and doubt, only to reach a single bedrock of certainty ––
the famous Cogito, ergo sum (“I am thinking, therefore I exist”). From
this tiny foothold, a whole system of knowledge is built up, relying on
the perceptions of the intellect and culminating in a complete
scientific system, based on mathematical and mechanical principles.
Despite the clarity and elegance of the Cartesian system, its author
was in many ways a mysterious figure, describing himself in an early
notebook as “coming on to the stage in a mask”. He shunned company,
living most of his life in the obscurity of the Dutch countryside, and
adopted as his motto the Epicurean maxim lathe biosas, which may
roughly be translated, ““get through life without attracting any
attention.” The character of Descartes’ philosophy, too, is somewhat
ambivalent. The primacy he gave to mathematical and mechanical methods
makes his approach to knowledge seem strikingly “modern” and
“scientific”, yet he regarded the thinking part of us as an immaterial
substance, entirely beyond the reach of scientific explanation. And
though he paved the way for an “autonomous” physics, freed from
theological dominance, the metaphysical foundations of his philosophy
were nonetheless deeply theistic and traditional, rooted in the ideas
of Augustine, Bonaventure and even (despite Descartes’ frequently
voiced opposition to Scholasticism) Thomas Aquinas.
The early seventeenth century, as A.C. Grayling reminds us in this
accessibly written and historically aware biography, was a time of
intellectual and political ferment. We might nowadays think of the
emergence of the scientific age as a matter of steady methodical
progress, but in reality the new mathematically based physics had to
compete for attention with an anarchic “Babel of ideas”, which included
magical, cabbalistic and alchemical ways of thinking, all of which were
often seen as threatening to established orthodoxy. A prominent atheist
and critic of religion, Grayling relishes describing the authoritarian
way in which the ecclesiastical establishment tried to hold the line
against these varying assaults on the status quo, and catalogues the
persecution of figures such as Giordano Bruno and Giulio Vanini (both
burned at the stake), and, most prominently, Galileo Galilei, whose
fate was less dramatic but particularly significant for Descartes’
career. Galileo’s condemnation by the Inquisition in 1633 caused
Descartes to agonise over whether he should publish his own treatise on
the universe, Le Monde (which, like Galileo’s work, advocated a
heliocentric view of the solar system). Descartes eventually decided to
withdraw his book from publication, but its essentials were eventually
to reappear in 1644 in a much larger work, the Principles of
Philosophy, albeit phrased more circumspectly, and with a concluding
article which declared: “I make no firm pronouncements, but submit all
these opinions to the authority of the Catholic Church.” Grayling
stigmatises Descartes’ cautious behaviour over the Galileo episode as
Historically, Descartes has been the victim of something of a pincer
movement, with anti-religious critics on the one side complaining that
he was not more robust in resisting ecclesiastical authority, while on
the other side the Church has been unaccountably slow to praise the
achievements of one of its most distinguished philosophical sons. The
Catholic Church, of which Descartes was all his life a devout member,
has been highly suspicious of Cartesian philosophy, regarding it as
unorthodox and potentially subversive of the faith. Soon after his
death, Descartes’ writings were placed on the Index of prohibited
books; and in the succeeding centuries the image of Descartes as an
anti-clerical, anti-religious force has proved strangely resilient,
even though it conflicts with virtually everything we know of his
actual character and work.
In his Memory and Identity,
reflecting on the decline of moral values in the twentieth century, the
late Pope John Paul II traced the philosophical roots of the decline to
the ideas of Descartes. The trouble started, he argued, with the way
Descartes constructed his philosophy, basing it on the foundation of
individual self-awareness: instead of starting (as Aquinas had) with
Self-subsistent Being, Descartes in his famous Cogito argument had
given primacy to individual consciousness, so that philosophy
thereafter had become concerned with what is contained within the ambit
of subjectivity, rather than with the Reality that is independent of
it. But the charge is misplaced. Although Descartes begins with his own
self-awareness, the primacy of the Cogito is simply an epistemic
priority –– priority in what he called the “order of discovery”. If I
try to doubt everything, the first thing I find I cannot doubt is my
own existence; but Descartes was nonetheless clear that such
self-awareness leads directly to awareness of God. As he once put it,
Cogito, sum ergo Deus est (“I am, therefore God exists”): in knowing
myself I immediately recognise my complete dependence on a power
infinitely greater than myself. Epistemically I may come first, but
ontologically, in the order of reality, God retains, for Descartes,
The place of God in Descartes’ philosophy is given short shrift by
Grayling, who briskly dismisses the Cartesian arguments for the
existence of a Deity as “spurious”–– though he correctly and fairly
notes that Descartes’ theistic commitments were “almost certainly
sincere”. Grayling is an able philosopher and a fluent writer, and
though his book does not pretend to rival Stephen Gaukroger’’s
definitive scholarly biography published a decade ago, it takes us
smoothly through the various phases of Descartes’’ development, albeit
no particular new interpretation emerges. The most energetic element of
the book, perhaps surprisingly, is not the philosophical analysis (a
good deal of which is relegated to a short appendix at the end), but
the part dealing with Descartes’ early life, which goes into
considerable historical detail in describing the ecclesiastical and
dynastic politics of Europe. To explain Descartes’ travels in Europe in
the 1620s Grayling offers the suggestion that he was a spy for the
Jesuits –– though with positively Cartesian caution he inserts the
caveat that he is ““neither asserting nor claiming that it is so”, but
“merely mooting the possibility”. The suggestion is indeed not beyond
the bounds of possibility; but there is no evidence whatever for it,
and all we know from Descartes’ writings indicates that he was an
individualist, with no taste at all for the world of politics. Trying
to uncover the secret life of such a resolutely private philosopher is
a Herculean undertaking, and it is no slur on Grayling’s efforts to say
that, by the end of the book, the Cartesian mask remains firmly in
Eugenio Zolli, Jewish convert
It’s little wonder that
biographer Judith Cabaud considers Eugenio Zolli one of the most
remarkable men of the twentieth century. Born in 1881 in Ukraine, then
part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Zolli's baby boy was given the
first name Israel. Sixty years later he was chief Rabbi of Rome. In
1944, while in the synagogue celebrating Yom Kippur, Zolli experienced
a mystical vision of Jesus Christ. Within a year he was baptized a
Catholic at which time he changed his first name from Israel to
Eugenio, the same Christian name as Pope Pius XII. He did this to honor
the Pope for the help he gave Jews trying to escape the Nazi's
extermination program during World War II.
The First Act
Let’s backtrack and look at the life of this Central European Jew whose
restless and courageous mind enabled him to step beyond the Old
Testament and become a follower of Jesus Christ. That long path from
Judaism to Catholicism was also taken by Madame Cabaud, who likened it
to "wanting to see the second act of a play of which we have attended
only the first act."
The late nineteenth century provided the backdrop for Israel Zolli’s
formative years. It was a particularly turbulent period in Europe.
France was reeling from a prolonged bout of political instability
exacerbated by military defeat at the hands of Prussia. The
philosophical and scientific theories of Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and
Schopenhauer were starting to blur Europe’s Christian perspective,
while inside the Russian Empire anti-Semitism was on the march. The
Zolli family had substantial business interests in what had become
Russian controlled territory. The Russian Government classified the
Zollis as foreigners and being Jewish made them even more vulnerable,
so it was not unexpected they lost virtually everything to a
confiscation order issued by Tsar Alexander III. Like many Russian
Jews, the suddenly poverty stricken family moved to Poland where the
older children had to leave home to find work. However, young Israel
was sent to a strict Jewish school where the students spent much of
their time studying the books of the Pentateuch.
That young restless Jewish mind had been agitating about God’s inner
life since the age of eight. "What did God do before He created the
world? And why did He create it?" Questions, questions: the answer must
lie somewhere. One of Israel’s classmates at the school was Christian
and when visiting this boy’s home, Israel had been deeply affected by
the sight of a crucifix hanging on the wall. Who was that man? What had
he done to deserve such a punishment? Surely he couldn’t have been bad?
But then maybe he had been and so deserved crucifixion! But why was
that image treated so reverently? Perhaps the man represented truth?
Israel eventually concluded that the man on the cross was good and had
been wrongly punished.
During his teenage years, the image of that crucifix sparked Israel’s
curiosity so much that he began secretly studying the New Testament,
often taking a copy into the fields where he would read quietly and
contemplate. He found delight in Christ’s sayings, especially those
from the Sermon on the Mount: "But I say to you: love your enemies,"
and "blessed are the pure in heart." And from the cross: "Father,
forgive them." The New Testament really was a new covenant crammed with
messages of extraordinary beauty and importance.
For Israel Zolli the teachings of Christ truly marked out the Kingdom
of Heaven, as a place reserved for those persecuted, who in eschewing
vengeance had loved instead. From then on the Gospel would prove an
irresistible attraction and when studying the Old Testament for the
Rabbinate he read further on into the New, regarding it as the natural
continuation of the Old. Many years later, Zolli’’s daughter Miriam
would tell Judith Cabaud that her father had once taken her to the
Sistine Chapel in Rome and used the prophets, apostles, and saints
painted on the ceiling to explain the bond uniting the Old and New
Testament. But in Israel’s youth the clue connecting the two was how
closely the man on the cross matched the identity of the suffering
servant from Isaiah. That Zolli would hit on the idea that the Gospels
were inside the Old Testament from the beginning was seemingly
Naturally enough Judaism exerted a powerful pull on Israel Zolli. For
his family, it was a way of life tied up with community, a cultural
identity that tended to steer religion away from any personal
relationship with God. His mother had always wanted him to be a Rabbi
and she scrimped and saved to pay for his studies. And still the young
man fretted about the years of hard study ahead and the purpose of the
613 commandments of the Torah. "Surely," he thought, "it would be
better for the Torah to be lived?" He felt isolated from the talk and
ideas of other young Jews and his thoughts returned many times to the
crucifix in the home of his friend Stanislas. The person of Isaiah’s
suffering servant of God continued to provoke questions about God,
suffering, and, of course, the identity of the servant referred to by
Rabbi in Rome
Israel fell in with his mother’s plans and began studying, first in
Poland, then Vienna and ending in Florence where he completed his
rabbinical studies. Next he gained a professorship at the University of
Padua. In 1918 he was appointed chief Rabbi of Trieste in Italy. It was
the period between the wars and the political scene in Europe was
rapidly assuming a sinister look. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
took charge in Italy in 1922 and Hitler came into power in Germany
eleven years later.
Just as World War II broke out, Zolli moved from Trieste to Rome to
take up the post of the city’s chief Rabbi. The Jews of Rome were
confident they could survive any fallout from Fascism and Nazism and
observed no safety precautions. But Zolli, knowing what was happening
in Germany, predicted Hitler would soon occupy Italy. His warnings to
Jews to destroy their records and go underground went unheeded. While
the Italian army fought alongside the Germans things went reasonably
well, but then the Allies invaded Italy and it wasn’’t long before the
Italian military called it a day.
With the collapse of Mussolini’s regime in 1943 and Italy’s defection
from the Axis, the Nazis immediately seized control of all Italian
territory not in Allied hands and occupied Rome. The Nazis quickly
established their usual routine: find the Jews, squeeze them for their
wealth, and then deport them to death camps. Enter Colonel Kappler, a
senior German officer who saw a chance to line his pockets. Kappler
issued the Jewish community an ultimatum: either hand over 50 Kg of
gold or, failing that, deliver 300 named hostages –– a list headed by
none other than Zolli himself. Within a short time the Jews managed to
scrape together 35 Kg of gold but it was insufficient to satisfy
Kappler’’s monstrous appetite and so, on behalf of the Jewish
community, Israel Zolli was deputed to approach the Vatican for the
shortfall. This was his first contact with the institutional Church and
it took place in secret since the Gestapo watched all Vatican City’s
Zolli met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Maglione and
appealed to him saying, "The New Testament cannot abandon the Old."
Maglione immediately approached Pius XII to help with the needed gold.
The Pope agreed to the request and Zolli was told to return later for
the "package." Not only did the Pope act with alacrity, the Catholic
parishes of Rome hurriedly gathered together a further 15 Kg of gold,
something Zolli found out about from his daughter when he returned
home. For the time being, the hostage crisis was averted.
That Pius XII played an enormous role in saving Jews from the Nazis was
well known to Zolli. He was aware that monasteries and convents in Rome
and all over Italy had opened their doors to Jews at the urging of the
Pope. In addition, thousands more were being sheltered by ordinary
Italian Catholic families, and both the Vatican and the Pope’’s summer
residence in Castel Gandolfo were filled with Jews who had nowhere else
Zolli, who met Pius XII, was impressed with the Pope’s open attitude
and willingness to help. The Zolli family lived underground during the
Nazi occupation of Rome and saw first hand the charity of the Church in
action, inspired as it was by the personal courage of the pope, who did
more than anyone else at that time to frustrate the arrest and
execution of European Jews. Official Jewish sources cite a figure of
850,000 Jews saved as a result of the direct intervention of Pius XII,
a fact that flies in the face of the current media smear campaign
directed at Pius over his alleged failure to speak out publicly against
Nazi Germany’’s race policy.
The Second Act
In June 1944, an agreement was reached between the German and Allied
High Commands; the German Army withdrew from Rome and the Allies
occupied the city without a shot being fired. At the time the Jewish
Community Council in Rome was full of collaborators and the American
military wanted them out and Zolli back in control. But the very day he
was asked to resume leadership of the Jewish Council, he confided to
his Jesuit priest friend Father Dezza that he had other plans. "How can
I continue living in this way when I think very often of Christ and how
I love Him?" Zolli was then sixty-five years old, weary and wanting to
Four months later, while in the synagogue for the feast of Yom Kippur,
Zolli received a vision in which Christ spoke to him saying, "You are
here for the last time: from now on you will follow Me." For Israel
Zolli there would be no going back. Relaxing at home that evening he
was at first reluctant to mention what had happened but when he did his
wife admitted that she to had seen the same vision of Christ standing
next to him. Miriam, their eighteen-year-old daughter then told her
parents that she had recently seen Jesus in a dream. Zolli saw it all
as confirmation of what he should do and immediately resigned from the
synagogue. He and his wife took instruction from a priest and were
baptized within a year: Israel taking the additional step of changing
his first name to Eugenio, the same Christian name as Pope Pius XII.
Miriam converted a year after her parents.
The Chief Rabbi of Rome converting to Catholicism was a big story in
Italy, but the secular media tried to rationalize the matter. In his
autobiography, Before The Dawn, Eugenio Zolli refuted all assertions
that his conversion was out of gratitude to Pope Pius XII. Certainly he
was extremely grateful for what the Pope had done to protect Jews, but
the singular reason behind his conversion was his attraction to the
person of Christ the Messiah –– an attraction that had been growing
steadily since Zolli’’s childhood.
Fifty years have elapsed since Zolli’s autobiography was first
published in English and only within the last four years has Judith
Cabaud’s well-researched book, Eugenio Zolli, Prophet of a New World
(de Guibert, Paris 2000), been available, but not yet in English.
However, in a recently published interview, Cabaud provided this
perceptive insight into current relations between Jews and Christians.
"Zolli's experience certainly has a great significance for Jews today,
but also for Christians. In the first place, through his exegetical
findings, we are led to understand that we do indeed have only one
religion –– the Judeo-Christian faith. It began with Judaism, in the
Law and the Prophets: it continues today with the Catholic Church. The
pivot is Jesus Christ, the Messiah for whom all religious Jews at that
time were waiting and whom all Christians recognize as the Son of God……
it is indispensable for the Church and her members to be more fully
aware of their Jewish inheritance. It is in this way that Christianity
assumes its permanence in the world. If not, we are only poor orphans
who strive for good and truth without knowing who our parents were."……
"If we listen to the message of Rabbi Zolli, I am sure that in
searching for Truth on both sides, we could mend many of the wounds
which have created this cruel separation between brothers.
The quest for Truth will and can enfold us together with all our
diversity in the loving arms of our One and Eternal God."
After his conversion, Eugenio Zolli was given a post at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute. Early in 1956 he contracted bronchopneumonia and
was admitted to hospital. The week before his death, Zolli told a nun
looking after him that like Our Lord he would die on the first Friday
of the month at three o'clock in the afternoon. On Friday, March 2,
1956, after receiving Holy Communion in the morning, he drifted into a
coma and died as he predicted, at 3.00 p.m.
Stephen Sparrow writes from New Zealand. He
is semi-retired and reads (and writes) for enjoyment, with a particular
interest in the work of Catholic authors Flannery O'Connor, Walker
Percy, Sigrid Undset, Dante Alighieri and St Therese of Lisieux. His
secondary school education was undertaken by Society of Mary priests at
St. Bedes College and after leaving school in 1960 he joined a family
wood working business, retiring from it in 2001. He is married with
five adult children. His other interests include fishing, hiking,
photography and natural history, especially New Zealand botany and
González Flores a
GUADALAJARA, Mexico, SEPT. 7,
2005 (Zenit.org).- Among the 13 Mexican martyrs to be beatified Nov. 20
is Anacleto Gonzáález Flores, founder of the Catholic
Association of Mexican Youth of Guadalajara.
This martyr of the Mexican religious persecution was also the founder
of the Popular Union, better known as the "U," a movement that included
labor, women and farmers. Cardinal Juan Sandoval
ÍÍńńiguez of Guadalajara announced the
He spent his time promoting catechesis and actively opposing the local
and federal government's measures to suppress religious freedom.
Married and the father of two, Gonzáález Flores,
popularly known as "Master Cleto," was a well-known lay leader from
1915-1927, the year of his martyrdom at the hands of the federal army.
The army, under the command of the country's president, Plutarco
Elíías Calles, persecuted Catholics.
Because of his option for pacifism and nonviolence, at a time when the
country was enduring the Cristero War (1926-1929),
Gonzáález Flores was known as the "Mexican Gandhi."
He was born in Tepatitlan, in the state of Jalisco, in July 1888. He
came from humble origins. Son of a weaver, he did various jobs until he
got his law degree in 1921. Before that, he had been a seminarian and
postulant in the seminaries of San Juan de los Lagos Seminary and of
In 1925 "Master Cleto" received the "Ecclesia et Pontifice" Cross from
Pope Pius XI for his work of evangelization among the neediest and for
his defense of the religiosity of the Mexican faithful.
Gonzáález Flores opposed to the last moment the linking
of the Popular Union with the National League in Defense of Religious
Freedom, which had declared war on the Calles government in 1926.
However, overwhelmed by the maelstrom of the events, he had to accept
his organization's taking part in the armed struggle, which resulted in
his arrest on March 31, 1927, and his martyrdom and death the following
day, at age 38.
His executioners hanged him by his thumbs and then, at bayonet point,
kept torturing him to disclose the whereabouts of the archbishop of
Guadalajara and leaders of the Cristero Revolution. He was finally
Towards the end of her
life, Berna Foster told her daughter that when she was at the
supermarket she used to speak to people whom she recognised from Sunday
Mass, even if they had not been introduced. 'We don't need to be
introduced', she said, 'if we've given each other the Kiss of Peace.'
Such confident Catholicism energised the whole of her long life.
Most of that life was spent in Melbourne's Holy Name parish at East
Preston, where she lived from the early years of her marriage. Soon
after the Foster family moved there, East Preston became a separate
parish and the family would become an essential player in the
developing life of the parish. Half a century later, as Dr Wendy Cahill
was writing the parish history—a good book, by the way—she remarked
that two names stood out in the archival material: the founding pastor
and Berna Foster.
Berna (from Bernadette) was fortunate in finding such a parish priest,
an alumnus of Maynoooth College in Ireland, Father Anthony Cleary. He
was an inspirer of lay activity in Melbourne and an ecumenical activist
who was also attuned to new Catholic thinking on the liturgy. When
Berna came to him with a plan to start a women's group in the parish,
he readily agreed, stipulating only that she should be its leader.
The Catholic Women's League, as the new group came to be called, became
indispensable, doing the everyday things that keep a parish alive. They
ran the school tuckshop and recycled school uniforms and tended the
altar and raised money for good causes and helped at the local hospital
and taught English to migrants and collected old newspapers and visited
those in institutional care and celebrated the ordinations of
parishioners and First Holy Communions.
Berna herself responded eagerly to Vatican II initiatives. Growing up,
she had been saddened by the often cruel division between Catholics and
Protestants, so she became an ecumenical pioneer in East Preston. As a
member of the interchurch council she went door-knocking with the local
Presbyterian minister, not for money or proselytism but to publicise
services at all churches in the neighbourhood. She spoke at ecumenical
services for women and in time became a Catholic representative on the
state interchurch council of women.
Setting up a parish council, Father Cleary asked her to help write its
constitution. Then he suggested that Berna be the one to speak about
the parish council at Sunday Mass—a novelty, since up till then women
had not entered the sanctuary of our churches, except as brides or
cleaners. Next, she became a reader at Mass and then a eucharistic
minister. She edited the parish paper and set up a parish library,
making sure there were books to back up the challenging speakers she
brought to women's meetings.
In these years the problems of migrant women came to the fore. Isolated
at home and often with poor language skills, they were handicapped when
they had to see a doctor or speak to their children's teachers,
sometimes needing to employ those children as interpreters, an
unsatisfactory arrangement. To meet this need, Berna became the
regional coordinator of a 'home tutor' scheme which matched
English-speaking women to migrant women in order to better their
An old friend drew Berna into this work, Joanna Waite of the Grail.
When Berna was growing up she had encountered the Grail, a
forward-looking Catholic women's movement from Holland, and it made her
the confident Catholic she became. Above all, the Grail fostered in
young women a personal responsibility for the mission of Christ and the
Throughout her life Berna acknowledged the continuing influence of the
Grail's formation. Her daughter Judith, who has written her life (as
yet unpublished), was named after one of the Australian founders.
A few years before she died, Berna was accorded a rare papal honour,
the cross pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for her lifetime of service. Women
who were at the ceremony in the Melbourne cathedral spoke of her
influence on their lives. They said she had given them the courage to
find and use talents they didn't know existed. Yes, she was a legendary
organiser but, more than that, she had been their inspiration in life.
Most history is simply lost. One day, no doubt, Berna Foster—housewife,
mother, inspirational parishioner—will be forgotten, remembered only on
the list of those holding papal honours. The continuance of Catholicism
as a people's religion, however, depends above all on such women always
Japanese Sculptor Found the Faith by Studying
Etsuro Sotoo's Testimony at Communion-and-Liberation
RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).-
by the works of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, Japanese
Etsuro Sotoo discovered the Catholic faith while working in the Church
of the Holy Family, in Barcelona.
The sculptor, renowned in Japan, spoke about his
experience Sunday at the meeting organized by Communion and Liberation
in the town of Rimini, during a conference entitled "The Window Men:
On a visit to Barcelona in 1978, Sotoo was
by the expiatory Church of the Holy Family, the unfinished masterpiece
of Gaudí (1852-1926), and requested permission to remain in the
Catalan city to work as a sculptor. Gaudí's cause for
is under way.
"To understand Gaudí, it was necessary to
what he wanted to do with those sculptures, with that marvelous
which was not just a work of art," explained Sotoo.
"I tried to get inside him and I questioned the
the Japanese sculptor said. "I wondered what Gaudí would have
in my place. It was necessary to discover what was behind this stone."
Sotoo did not find answers to these questions until
understood that he did not have to "look at Gaudí, but in the
in which Gaudí looked."
According to the Japanese artist, the imposing
of the church is not meant to be the display of the proud power of an
but a work dedicated and maintained by God, of whom Gaudí
himself a collaborator, to the point that he did not want to put his
name to the project.
Sotoo, who requested baptism in 1989, said that
his conversion, his way of working has not changed, but it "is easier
more secure" and fills him with "pleasure and freedom."
"Gaudí's architecture indicates, it does not
it is something human," Sotoo said. "This is also Jesus' way. He does
oblige us to do anything, but guides us. And this way we can be much
Etsuro Sotoo ended his address at the Rimini meeting
that "the artist, as Gaudí said, collaborates with his work in
creation; in this way, freedom and happiness are possible. This is the
only way man must follow."
Legacy of Brother Roger of Taizé
According to Brother Emile, Spokesman of the Ecumenical
TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).-
legacy left by Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the Community of
is illustrated in this testimony sent to ZENIT by Brother Emile, a
for the ecumenical group.
* * *
It all began in great solitude, when in August of
at 25 years of age, Brother Roger left Switzerland, the country of his
birth, and went to live in France, his mother's country. For years, he
felt the call to create a community in which reconciliation between
would be concretized every day, "in which the benevolence of heart
be lived very concretely, and where love would be in everyone's heart."
He wanted to realize that creation in the anguish of
moment, and in this way, at the height of the World War, he established
himself in the small village of Taizé in Burgundy, a few
from the line of demarcation that divided France in two parts. He then
hid refugees (in particular Jews), who when fleeing from the occupied
knew that they could find refuge in his home.
Later, other Brothers joined him and on Easter
of 1949 the first Brothers committed themselves for life to celibacy,
in common, and great simplicity of life.
In the silence of a long retreat, in the winter of
the founder of the Community of Taizé wrote the Rule of
in which he pointed out to his Brothers "the essential that would allow
for life in common."
Beginning in the '50s, some Brothers went to live in
areas to be near to people who suffer.
Since the end of the '50s, the number of young
who come to Taizé has increased markedly. Beginning in 1962,
and youths sent by Taizé did not cease to come and go to
of Eastern Europe, with great discretion, so as not to compromise those
they were supporting.
Between 1962 and 1989 Brother Roger himself visited
majority of the countries of Eastern Europe, at times on the occasion
meetings with youths, permitted but watched, or of simple visits,
the possibility of speaking in public. "I will be silent with you," he
would say to Christians of those countries.
In 1966, the Saint Andrew Sisters, an international
community founded more than seven centuries ago, came to live in the
village and began to help with some of the welcome endeavor. More
some Polish Ursuline nuns have also come to offer their collaboration.
Today the Community of Taizé includes some
Brothers, Catholics and of different evangelical origins, from more
25 countries. Because of their own experience, they are a concrete sign
of reconciliation between divided Christians and separated peoples.
In one of his last books, entitled "God Can Only
("Dieu Ne Peut Qu'Aimer," Taizé Press), Brother Roger described
his ecumenical itinerary thus: "I can remember that my maternal
discovered intuitively a sort of key of the ecumenical vocation and
the way for me to its concretization. Marked by the testimony of her
while I was still very young, I later found my own Christian identity
reconciling within me the faith of my origins with the mystery of the
faith, without any rupture of communion."
The Brothers don't accept any gifts or presents.
do not even accept personal inheritances, but give them to the poorest.
They sustain community life with their work and share it with others.
Now there are small fraternities in the
neighborhoods of Asia, Africa, South and North America. The Brothers
to share the conditions of life of those around them, making efforts to
be a presence of love among the poorest, street children, prisoners,
dying, those who are wounded in their deepest being by emotional
and human abandonment.
Coming from all over the world, young people meet in
every week of the year to attend meetings that can gather between two
up to 6,000 people, representing more than 70 nations. Over the years,
hundreds of thousands of young people have come to Taizé to
on the topic "interior life and human solidarities." In the sources of
faith, they try to give their life meaning and they prepare to take on
responsibilities in the areas where they live.
Men of the Church also come to Taizé. Thus,
Community welcomed Pope John Paul II, three Archbishops of Canterbury,
Orthodox Metropolitans, 14 Swedish Lutheran Bishops, and numerous
from all over the world.
To support the young generations, the Community of
animates a "pilgrimage of confidence on earth." This pilgrimage does
organize youths in a movement that is centered on the Community, but
them to take peace, reconciliation and confidence to their cities,
universities, their workplaces and their parishes, in communion with
generations. As a stage of this "pilgrimage of confidence on earth," a
five-day European meeting is organized at the end of every year in a
European city, of the East or West, attended by tens of thousands of
On the occasion of a European meeting, Brother Roger
publish a "letter," translated into more than 50 languages, which was
meditated [on] throughout the year by young people in their homes or
Taizé meetings. The founder of Taizé often wrote this
from a place of poverty where he lived for a time (Calcutta, Chile,
Ethiopia, the Philippines, South Africa).
Today, throughout the world, the name Taizé
peace, reconciliation, communion and the expectation of a springtime in
the Church. "When the Church listens, heals, reconciles she realizes
is most luminous in herself, limpid reflection of a love" (Brother
From the Vatican, Secretariat of State
To Brother Alois,
Learning with deep emotion of the tragic death of
Roger, which occurred in the Church of Reconciliation, the Holy Father
offers up to God a fervent prayer for the rest of the soul of this
witness to the Gospel of peace and of reconciliation.
At the time when, in Lyon, Father Couturier was
to work his ecumenical inspirations, Brother Roger, a man of faith
passionately the Church, was founding in Taizé a Community that
was to attract young people from the whole world. Numerous generations
of Christians, respecting their own confessions, were to have an
experience of faith there, in an encounter with Christ, thanks to
and brotherly love, responding in this way to his invitation to live in
unity through the bond of peace.
The Holy Father joins in prayer with the Brothers of
Community of Taizé, as well as with all persons touched by this
grief, and entrusts them to the Lord, that they may find the strength
continue the work of reconciliation begun by Brother Roger. As a token
of comfort in this painful trial, His Holiness gladly bestows on them
Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Simone de Beauvoir
Haus Publishing, Ł9.99
Tablet bookshop price Ł9.
There can be no doubt that Simone de Beauvoir was a
influence on generations of feminists. Her ground-breaking study The
Second Sex, first published in 1949, was placed on the Vatican
and indeed banned in Ireland because it not only mentioned abortion, it
advocated it as a form of liberation from what De Beauvoir called “the
bondage of reproduction”. Yet, in this scrupulously fair reassessment
De Beauvoir, the Canadian writer and feminist Lisa Appignanesi suggests
that in some respects The Second Sex is now rather out of date.
Radical as it was, it really took a rather masculine view of women –
as “the other” – and, perhaps in consequence, a more than usually
view of maternity, which most women regard as rewarding rather than
In another respect, too, I would suggest that The
Sex is seriously outdated: biological science has overtaken its
assertion that “one is not born a woman – one becomes one”. There is
evidence now that for most women, one is born female. The claim that
behaviour is all “social conditioning” no longer stands up to
But of course Simone de Beauvoir’s life and work are
than this single text: she has taken her place, and rightfully, on the
whole, among the pantheon of great intellectuals and there will always
be a market for assessments and reassessments of her reputation. As
Appignanesi writes, De Beauvoir and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre
to a whole generation – to several generations – the Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall of the intellectual world. There is a strong element of
in the vision of Sartre and De Beauvoir sitting in the Café
in those post-war years when existentialism first emerged – perhaps the
first time, in mass culture, that a philosophy also became a lifestyle,
with its own dress code (the black roll-neck sweater) and its own
art (Juliette Greco in the smokey boîte). To have been in Paris
1946, when people were swooning with amazement during Sartre’s
must have been extraordinary.
Like Jean-Paul Sartre, her lifelong partner
Appignanesi claims that their sexual relations ceased in 1944 – and
both had many other lovers as well), Simone de Beauvoir was the child
the confident bourgeoisie: it is not unknown for radical Leftists to
been highly indulged, even spoiled, by adoring parents, imparting to
a lifelong sense of their own importance. Yet De Beauvoir’s parents
represented a template which was to affect her mindset for life: her
mother was Catholic, religious, and even mystical; her dominant father
was “rational”, anti-religious, and nationalist. Because De Beauvoir
from an early age, to “rational” intellectualism, it is as if she
her back deliberately on both the feminine and the religious
as well as on the maternal experience. She set her face against both
and motherhood – she had two abortions – and never wavered from this
“Marriage doubles social chores,” she told Sartre, when, in a moment of
gallantry he offered to marry her (it would have made it easier for
to be together as teachers in the lycée system). Sartre was not
given to making marriage proposals: he generally traded on that
I-need-my-space excuse, which many bachelors have been known to employ.
But as life went on, the parental urge, which will
be entirely denied, manifested itself in elliptical ways for both of
Sartre not only adopted a young woman, whom he made the executor of his
will – to De Beauvoir’s vexation – but he became, in the end, Simone’s
surrogate child, as she found herself taking responsibility for his
and care and trying to protect him from predators. Old men can be
to manipulation, and at the end of his life Sartre was greatly
by a young Maoist, Benny Levy (something similar happened to Bertrand
who fell under the spell of a young American radical).
This is a commendable re-examination of the De
story, with neat clarifications of their work, a thorough codification
of De Beauvoir’s publications and helpful breakout blocks on those who
influenced the existential pair, from Descartes to Merleau-Ponty. (It
actually a Catholic thinker, Gabriel Marcel, who coined the term
and he drew upon Husserl, the late Pope John Paul’s special academic
In parts Appignanesi might have developed the wider personal narrative
a little more – whatever, for example, became of De Beauvoir’s younger
sister? – but it is essentially a study of the life in the context of
De Beauvoir was a rigorous thinker, and a clever
who left an impressive record of her own life: but at heart she was too
cold in her view of the female condition to represent the majority of
– and that comes over strikingly.
Four Priests of the Word (Reprinted
from the June 2003 issue of HPR)
A Catholic literary revival has been quietly under way
in this country for more than two decades.
By Anne Husted Burleigh
As long as human nature continues to be a bundle of
and contradictions, pining for truth and yet succumbing to pride, there
will always be dissent in the Church. We therefore should expect some
and not despair when we see it.
Nonetheless, the 40-year wholesale flaunting of
teaching, especially on sexual ethics, by huge numbers of hierarchy,
religious, and laity has definitely slowed. The dissenters are
tired. Their leaders, now well past middle age, inspire almost no one.
With the current scandals, this mammoth engine of dissent confronts an
insurmountable obstacle; it cannot continue as before to set its own
The result, we have reason to think, may be a purification of the
Some, such as newly-appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan,
a renewal on the scale of the Catholic Reformation after the Council of
Preceding any latter-day Catholic Reformation,
is surely the Catholic revival that has been quietly underway in this
for more than two decades. The renaissance that presently is gaining
is the fruit of careful ground work that is deeply cultural, paying
as does all Christian culture, to the truth of the Word. Thus the
revival has been and continues to be indispensably literary, infusing
culture with the Word through books and periodicals.
The essential characters of the Catholic revival are
indeed, but in this time of suffering for the priesthood, it is
to credit four priests who particularly have inspired and served
their publications the renewal of Catholic culture. Each of these
is unique in his gifts and in his approach. Yet each of them
the others, and without any one of their publications, the Church would
be the poorer. In no particular order, then, here are the four
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J ., new chancellor of
Maria University, is almost a household name in Catholic publishing.
Press, which Fr. Fessio co-founded with Carolyn Lemon in 1980, has
the best Catholic books on the shelves of laity, seminarians, priests,
and everyone interested in serious Catholic literature. After the
of the old Sheed and Ward and a few other Catholic publishing houses,
culture fell into a desert period. At the behest of the late Henri de
Fr. Fessio initiated Ignatius Press in order to make available the
of the philosopher/theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von
Speyr. Ignatius soon expanded to offer not only beautiful new editions
of older authors, such as G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, and John Henry
Newman, but it also published newer authors such as Peter Kreeft,
Howard, James Schall, Karl Keating, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Scott
Kimberly Hahn, Michael O’Brien, Benedict Groeschel, and even Pope John
Paul II. It branched into children’s literature. It published the new
In short, Ignatius became the trusted publishing house of the best
literature. Without Ignatius Press, we may safely say, there would be
Catholic revival. Fr. Fessio through Ignatius Press has made available
to the serious Catholic student of all ages the ingredients of
in Catholic culture.
It is not surprising that the staff of Ignatius
works together in the spirit of a religious community. Authors who have
had contact with them are struck by their humility, their keen
and artistic gifts, and their aspirations to holiness. Fr. Fessio
musing on his long path with Ignatius Press, says, “My greatest
has been the people who work with me; and from the beginning we have
the Church’s fundamental forms of prayer part of our daily life—Mass,
Divine Office, the Rosary, personal prayer. Each day at morning prayer
we add the intercession: ‘Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord, and to
your name give glory.’ God has blessed us.”
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of
journal, First Things, has labored mightily, ever since his days as a
pastor in New York, to make the public square hospitable to religious
Long before his conversion to the Catholic Church, he was a powerful
alerting Americans to the danger of barring matters of faith from the
arena, insisting that America from its founding has been a country in
Judaeo-Christian roots have defined its true character. To secularize
public life and to confine religion to the private domain, denying in
debate and in law the voice of religion, is to harm Christians and Jews
alike. Refusing to acknowledge the reality of the sacred subverts the
and flourishing of American culture. Only by affirming the totality of
the human person as a creature both material and spiritual can
be truly free to come to any realization of the grand project our
envisioned. Freedom to think about, speak about, and exercise religious
faith is absolutely crucial to the American enterprise. The naked
square, where mention of the things of faith is hushed up, is a
insidious form of totalitarianism.
Fr. Neuhaus has set an exceedingly high standard of
debate about religion and public life. First Things is published under
the auspices of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, “whose
is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering
of society.” Fr. Neuhaus’ editorial board includes some of the soundest
stalwarts of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities: Midge
Mary Ann Glendon, Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert Meilaender, David Novak,
Novak, and George Weigel.
Weigel sums up the role of Fr. Neuhaus’ work in
Things: “The impact of First Things has been enormous. It’s now one of
the most widely read serious journals of opinion in the country,
the vitality of contemporary Christian and Jewish thought and its
for our public life. But the thing that most impresses me about Fr.
is not his editorial skills, or his writing talent, but his leadership.
He really inspires the people who work for him, and the result is
in the magazine.”
Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., is
of the English edition of Magnificat. This beautiful little monthly,
enough to drop into a pocket or purse and carry to Mass and throughout
the day, was introduced in 1998. Now up to 124,000 subscribers, it was
the brainchild of Pierre-Marie Dumont, a French layman, father of
children, and director of the Groupe Fleurus-Mame, largest Catholic
house in France. Dumont created Magnificat as a response to the
of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope John Paul II to introduce lay
people to the prayer of the Divine Office. Thus every issue of
always enfolded in a stunningly lovely cover, includes for each day of
the month the complete Mass text and adaptations of the morning,
and night prayers of the Church. There are also in the English edition
editorials by Fr. Peter, introductory essays by notable writers,
from classic spiritual works, and a concluding essay on a piece of
art, written by the Dominican art historian, Fr. Michael Morris.
Judging from the number of faithful who carry
to Mass, ever more Catholics are ignoring the shoddy paper leaflets in
the pew in favor of Magnificat. The very beauty of Magnificat is surely
part of its attraction. As Fr. Peter recently told Envoy Magazine,
is poetic. “Everything—its size, the glossy cover, the delicate pages,
even the artwork and choice of font—Magnificat is simply a work of art.”
Fr. Peter, who credits Pierre Dumont for the
vision, further told Envoy, “The heart of our vocation is the
the source and summit of everything we do. Magnificat was designed to
the Eucharist, by grounding everything in liturgy.” Every article and
prayer, he stresses, “has a mystagogical dimension that reaches into
then beyond the intellect.”
Fr. Peter is fond of speaking of the Magnificat
The soaring popularity of Magnificat in just four years has generated a
natural bond among its readers, resulting in a Gloria Congress
in New York and other proposals to cement Magnificat subscribers in
love of the liturgy.
Magnificat is the first major instrument to break
the often bleak and arid liturgical life of the post-sixties parish.
astonishing success surely indicates how the faithful, long in search
a vehicle to lead them to the beauty of Christ and the Eucharist, latch
on to that vehicle when they find it. Fr. Peter himself marvels at
attachment. He told Envoy that readers think of Magnficat as a friend.
“It’s habit forming. People just love it.”
Fr. Owen Kearns, L.C., is publisher of The
Catholic Register. When the Legionaries of Christ bought the paper, it
was floundering, and its circulation was declining. As former vocation
director of his order, Fr. Owen never made any pretense of expertise in
journalism. Nonetheless, he proved to have extraordinary journalistic
He revitalized his skeleton staff and hired a gifted young editor, Tom
Hoopes. The Register’s circulation has quadrupled under Fr. Owen’s
and The Register has moved to the forefront as the national Catholic
The Register accepts the magisterium and supports
pope. “That means,” says Tom Hoopes, “we don’t abandon him when he goes
places we wouldn’t have gone on our own.”
Neither does The Register politicize the Church,
it into a left/right model. Says Hoopes, “We see the Church as Vatican
II does, as Cardinal Ratzinger does, as a communion. Catholic
aren’t just journalists; they’re Catholic, and a Catholic’s job is to
communion, not tear at it.”
Consequently, he says, “a reader of The Register
come away challenged and inspired to act, not angry and discouraged.”
Hoopes attributes to Fr. Owen “the wisdom of Solomon
the attention to detail of Leviticus,” shaping The Register’s direction
and design but also minding the small things. Hoopes frankly says he
never enjoyed working for anyone as much as for Fr. Owen. “I think it’s
because he’s a priest first, a pastor,” both patient and giving freedom
to his staff. “He sets the boundaries, and we editors do our thing
them. It creates a great creative atmosphere.”
Hoopes also thinks that Fr. Owen’s success as a
comes from being a priest first. “He’s not a newspaper man who happens
to be a priest; he’s a priest who happens to have become the publisher
of a newspaper.”
The weekly Register in the mailbox is the meat and
of the Catholic literary diet. Its reliable news stories, courageous
enlightening features, and cutting edge coverage of bioethical issues
The Register the one newspaper of which many readers take in every word
and from which they run clipping services for their families. No
revival is possible without a solid Catholic newspaper—and The Register
The four literary priests who contribute so
to the Catholic revival each reflect their particular but
charisms. Fr. Joseph Fessio, in the best Jesuit tradition, has
Ignatius Press an expression of faith informed by reason. Fr.
Neuhaus, a diocesan priest, shows in First Things how public life
the religious viewpoint in order that we may live in ordered liberty. Fr.
Peter John Cameron in Magnificat makes available to the faithful
Dominican gift of evangelization and apostolic action as the fruit of
Finally, Fr. Owen Kearns in The National Catholic Register puts
to work the Legionary charism of forming the laity to build up the
Four priests are making a revival. The Church could
do without any of them.
Author: Mrs. Anne Husted Burleigh is
writer, mother, and grandmother who lives on a farm overlooking the
River in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. She has written two
John Adams, a biography, and Journey up the River: a Midwesterner’s
Pilgrimage. She has contributed to many publications, including Crisis
and Catholic Dossier, and now writes for Magnificat.
This is her first article for HPR.
Dame Cicely Saunders (22
1918 -- 14 July 2005)
Written by Michael Cook, 29 July 2005
Dame Cicely Saunders The
woman who founded the modern hospice movement died this month in the
Everyone knows of Florence Nightingale, the nurse
selflessness and energy in caring for soldiers during the Crimean War
hospitals and made nursing a true profession. Her contemporary
was another Briton, Dame Cicely Saunders, who died earlier this month
the age of 87. It was the capstone of a lifetime specialising in care
Dame Cicely’s achievement was to begin the modern
movement in 1967. There are now hundreds of hospices for the dying in
and in more than 95 countries around the world. Without her work, the
movement would undoubtedly have been far more persuasive and legalised
euthanasia would have spread much further. She showed that it was
to die peacefully and without great pain. For her, dying was not
to be feared but was “as natural as being born”. Partly due to her
palliative care has become recognised as a distinct medical speciality.
Dame Cicely was a woman of wisdom. Although she was
eminent clinician and researcher, she knew that care for the dying was
not simply a matter of managing patients’ pain. She developed a theory
of “total pain” which included its emotional, social, and spiritual
“The whole experience for a patient includes anxiety, depression, and
concern for the family who will become bereaved; and often a need to
some meaning in the situation, some deeper reality in which to trust,”
Dame Cicely was also a woman with deeply Christian
but her hospices were open to people of all persuasions, and to those
had none. “I once asked a man who knew he was dying what he needed
all in those who were caring for him,” she once said. “He said, ‘For
to look as if they are trying to understand me.’ Indeed it is
to understand fully another person, but I never forgot that he did not
ask for success but only that someone should care enough to try.”
That wisdom was hard-won. Her well-to-do father
of her interest in nursing and so she enrolled at Oxford instead. When
World War II broke out, however, she took up nursing. But her back gave
her trouble and she had to switch to a degree in social work. In 1945
parents divorced and she converted from agnosticism to evangelical
This happened all of a sudden, during a holiday in Cornwall with some
friends. “It was as though I suddenly felt the wind behind me rather
in my face,” she later said. “I thought to myself: please let this be
I prayed to know how best to serve God.”
The answer came the next year when she fell in love
a dying Polish Jew named David Tasma, the first of three romantic
to Polish men. “He needed to make his peace with the God of his
and the time to sort out who he was,” she recalled. “We discussed the
of somewhere that could have helped him do this better than a busy
ward.” When Tasma died, he bequeathed Saunders Ł500 -- no mean
in those days -- to start a hospice. “I’ll be a window in your home,”
Her mission in life was now clear to her: founding a
where the dying would receive the best medical care along with
and understanding. A doctor told her that people would not listen to a
nurse, so at the age of 33 she began a medical degree. In 1957 she
and obtained a research scholarship in pain management for the
ill, at the same time working in a hospice for the dying poor run by
Sisters of Charity.
There she met the second Pole in her life, Antoni
who showed her what death could be like when it was surrounded by
care. He inspired her to name her own hospice for people in the final
of life’s journey after Saint Christopher, the patron of travellers.
In 1967 she opened St Christopher’s in London.
it had 54 in-patient beds with respite care and a home care service.
years of planning which preceded this also brought to light Dame
other sterling qualities as a medical administrator, a fund-raiser and
publicist for her vision.
Three years after the death of Antoni she spotted a
of the Crucifixion in a gallery which she thought would be appropriate
for the hospice. She contacted the Polish artist, Marian
and ended up falling in love with him even though he was 18 years
He was a devout Catholic who still supported his estranged wife and it
was only after she died that Cicely married him. She was 61 and he was
79 and in poor health. She gave him constant nursing care and he ended
his days in St Christopher’s in 1995.
She never gave up working, although she
from active involvement in St Christopher’s in 1985. In 2002 she
the Cicely Saunders Foundation which aims to promote research into
care, with a focus on collaboration amongst the different specialties
According to an obituary in the London Times, many
ago she told a questioner at a symposium that she would prefer to die
a cancer which would give her time to reflect upon her life and to put
her material and spiritual affairs in order. And that is what happened.
She passed away at St Christopher’s of breast cancer.
As a clinician, Cicely Saunders will probably be
for a relatively novel method of pain relief -- administering sedation
to achieve a steady state in which a dying patient can still remain
and have a reasonable quality of life, instead of reacting to surging
with intermittent sedation. She opposed euthanasia, arguing that
had a right to die well, without pain and with dignity, and that death
can be a positive experience.
But on a deeper level, she was able to speak of
as a natural and positive part of a complete life, translating some
of her own Christian approach into a secular idiom.
Those who work in palliative care may have to
that they, too, are being challenged to face this dimension for
Many, both helper and patient, live in a secularised society and have
religious language. Some will, of course, still be in touch with their
religious roots and find a familiar practice, liturgy, or sacrament to
help their need. Others, however, will not. For them insensitive
by well meaning practitioners will be unwelcome.
However, if we can come not only in our professional
but in our common, vulnerable humanity there may be no need of words on
our part, only of concerned listening. For those who do not wish to
their deepest needs, the way care is given can reach the most hidden
Feelings of fear and guilt may seem inconsolable, but many of us have
that an inner journey has taken place and that a person nearing the end
of life has found peace. Important relationships may be developed or
at this time and a new sense of self worth develop.
The loudest voices in today’s debates over
are often its champions, doctors whose credentials include public
of the law by killing depressed and lonely patients. But in the long
it will probably be the softer and more humane voice of Dame Cicely
who helped hundreds to a peaceful death: “You matter because you are
and you matter to the last moment of your life.”
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.
"White Rose" Martyrs to Be Highlighted at World
Initiative of Communion and Liberation
BONN, Germany, JULY 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Student
from Munich who stood up to Nazism will be proposed as models of faith
in an exhibit at World Youth Day in Cologne.
Entitled "White Rose: Faces of a Friendship," the
was created by a group of students and professors of Communion and
who gathered writings, photographs and direct testimonies from
and friends of the members of the group.
"White Rose" was the name of a group begun by six
of different faith backgrounds: five students -- Alexander Schmorell,
Hans and Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf and Christoph Probst -- as well as
Huber, a university professor, who "had dared to defy Hitler," says the
In nine months, the group wrote and distributed six
against Hitler's Nazi Germany.
On Feb. 22, 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl, together
Probst, were accused of spreading anti-Nazi propaganda and were
In the following days, other students were accused
the same charge, and then executed or imprisoned.
Testimony of faith
Monsignor Helmut Moll of the Archdiocese of Cologne,
Consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood,
in 2003 that the students should be presented as role models at the
event in August.
The martyrs "fought to defend the dignity of man and
in face of Nazism," he said.
"They were youths rich in faith, with a profound
vision. Although they lived at a different time, they are of enormous
at present, said the priest.
"Our society is poor in Christian models … we need
who are an example of faith, hope and charity. These martyrs are real
of faith who have something to say to all our young people," added
The exhibit has already been displayed in several
schools, the universities of Freiberg and Munich, and is scheduled to
to Berlin, Cologne (for World Youth Day), Vienna and the next meeting
Rimini, Italy, of Communion and Liberation.
Saga of Edgardo Levi Montara
In the Jubilee Year of 2000, when Pope John Paul II
Pope Pius IX, there was much outcry from many sides over raising the
to the altars. They referred to the "Montara case" in 1858, when a
Jewish boy was taken from his family to be raised in a Catholic
The case was mentioned again by critics in
with the opening of the cause for beatification of John Paul II as one
of his "errors." One voice that has rarely, if ever, been heard is that
of the "victim" himself, Edgardo Montara, otherwise known as Father Pio
Maria Montara, canon regular of the Lateran.
Last month, Italian journalist/author Vittorio
published for the first time Montara's own account of his life, written
by the priest when he was 37 years old. Messori found this document in
the archives of the Lateran Canons, where it had been overlooked by all
the other "scholars" who took an interest in this case with an eye to
Pius IX, and translated it from Spanish to Italian.
It is a fascinating account, filled with love and
for "Divine Providence" which brought him into the Church and the
and father" who kept him in.
Edgardo Levi Montara was born in Bologna (then part
the Papal States) to Jewish parents in 1851. The family hired a
nanny for the child, which was explicitly against the civil laws of the
country. When Edgardo was 1 year old, he fell deathly ill and was
by doctors to be on the point of death. When the parents had given up
hope, the nanny baptized the baby she had grown to love.
To everyone's great surprise, Edgardo recovered.
the situation was brought to the attention of the authorities in
and eventually the Pope. Investigations were made regarding the
and legitimacy of the baptism and once ascertained, both civil and
law held that the child must be raised as a Catholic. Edgardo was 7
old at the time.
Originally Pius IX had wanted Edgardo to remain in
where he could continue to see his family, but the storm that grew up
the event made it necessary for the boy to be transferred to Rome.
at the age of 17, Edgardo would be able to decide which faith to
He not only remained Catholic, he became a priest, choosing the name of
the Pope toward whom his "gratitude had no limits."
The first part of the book presents Messori's own
of the story. He uncovers the complex political world of 1858 as the
of Italy began its quest to wrest away the Papal States. Messori traces
the involvement of politician Camillo Cavour, the brains behind the
as well as that of James Rothschild, the Jewish banker who held Europe
in the palm of his hand.
Messori also deals with the complicated situation of
laws of the Papal States. The response of Pius IX -- "Non possumus" (We
cannot) -- to demands to return the child was true. As king of the
States, he could not break the law. But more importantly, as the
of St. Peter, entrusted with Church, he could not treat the sacrament
Messori cites the journalist Veuillot who wrote at
time that Pius IX was reminding Catholics "who had rendered banal the
of faith, of the importance of baptism. Pius IX is willing to lose all
that remains of his state, but not to allow the loss of a single soul,
not even that of an obscure child."
The story of an "obscure child" fills the second
of the book. Montara talks about the extraordinary grace that came into
His version of being separated from his family is
one of violence and anger. He talks about the sadness being dissipated
as he learned his first Our Father and Hail Mary. He remembers his
blessing from Pius IX which "never abandoned Edgardo," and allowed him
to "not give in during the terrible battle which Hell was preparing for
him, using his own family."
Edgardo's parents arrived in Rome and visited
him every day for a month to rebel against the Pope and insist on
home. He refused. Then his father tried to take him away by force, and
Edgardo resisted. It is the only time Edgardo uses the word "kidnap"
This remarkable child, torn between "the love for
family and the power of grace," held firm and soon began to dream of
a priest. He was overjoyed to become one of the canon regulars, yet he
always remained disappointed that he was unable to convince his family
"to accept the Gospel."
What provoked Father Montara to write these pages
the way the press manipulated the case to create an uproar around Pope
Pius IX. He was astounded to hear that his "case" had earned his
mentor the nickname of "the kidnapper pope."
He had no sympathy with the cause of the Unification
Italy and when the Italian forces entered the city and went to San
in Vincoli to "liberate" the boy "kidnapped" by the Pope, Father
The joy of his vocation and the love and affection
the Pope who defended his right to heaven emerges in every page of the
Montara looks beyond his own troubled time to a day
people will cease "to listen to the calumnies," and "will accept the
words of the Montara child, to tie them to scented garlands and
flowers that will adorn the altar over which Catholics will
hail Pius IX a saint."
The Truth Behind Alfred Kinsey
Susan Brinkmann on the "Scientist" and His Research
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, MAY 15, 2005
Hollywood glorified sexologist Alfred Kinsey on the silver screen
but one critic warns that the film will continue the 50-year-old
of the American public by portraying Kinsey as a trustworthy scientist.
Susan Brinkmann, correspondent for the Catholic
& Times, the newspaper of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, is
of "The Kinsey Corruption: An Exposé on the Most Influential
of Our Time" (Catholic Outreach) with Judith Reisman.
Brinkmann shared with ZENIT evidence of Kinsey's
deviance and hidden life -- and how his deceptive research and
ideas are still being perpetuated today.
Q: Why is Kinsey a controversial character for some
a heroic figure for others?
Brinkmann: The only difference between those who
Kinsey controversial and those who consider him heroic is nothing more
than a matter of education.
Anyone who reads the work of Dr. Judith Reisman,
research is the basis for my book, "The Kinsey Corruption," will see
only factual, written evidence of Kinsey's questionable background,
see photographs and letters he wrote to friends about his collection of
homosexual pornography. None of the information about Kinsey's sordid
is "alleged"; it's out there in black and white. If you're not reading
it, you don't want to.
There are films depicting Kinsey and his staff
in all kinds of sex acts in the attic of the Kinsey home that still
-- films that were made by professional cinematographers who have never
denied their existence.
There is also a documentary called "Kinsey's
that details Kinsey's involvement with pedophiles and other sexual
from whom he gathered the data that supposedly supports his hypothesis
that children are sexual from birth.
The film was shown in England and even the far-left
Radio Times called it "deeply unsettling."
How can such a notorious man continue to command
status? Because of the lucrative financial awards available to those
promote the sexual revolution he started.
Kinsey's two books -- "Sexual Behavior in the Human
published in 1948, and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," which
in 1952 -- started what we now call the sexual revolution. This
is a lot more than just a change in attitude. It's a business -- a
This contraceptive mentality was born in the kind of
license that Kinsey endorsed. He believed pornography was harmless,
adultery can enhance a marriage and that children are sexual from birth.
Keeping these and other Kinsey "myths" alive is why
porn industry is thriving and why abortion and contraception providers
rake in millions of dollars every year.
And let's not forget the nation's sexual education
the spawn of Kinsey's so-called New Biology. With the exception of
that are strictly abstinence-only, all other sex-ed programs used in
United States are based on Kinsey's flawed research.
Most people are completely unaware of this, or of
connection between American sex-ed and the porn, abortion and
For instance, Planned Parenthood's former medical
Dr. Mary Calderone, was also a director of the Sex Information and
Council of the United States, the sex-ed provider launched by the
Institute in 1964 with seed money provided by Playboy. And we wonder
our sex-ed classes are so graphic.
Q: Why did Kinsey keep part of his life hidden from
Brinkmann: Kinsey had sexual appetites that were
unacceptable to Americans in the 1940s.
He was a pederast who enjoyed public nudity, made
sex films and eventually developed such an extreme sadomasochistic form
of autoeroticism that some believe it caused his untimely death in 1956.
This is not the sort of thing he wanted the public
know about. He maintained a meticulously engineered facade of a typical
Midwestern family man at all costs because it was so critical to his
-- and to his financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Q: Did Kinsey's religious background influence his
in any way?
Brinkmann: Absolutely. Kinsey was born into a strict
home in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1894. Dancing, tobacco, alcohol and
were all forbidden. He eventually severed all ties with his parents --
and their religion -- and lived the rest of his life as an avid atheist.
After completing his undergraduate work in zoology
Bowdoin College in 1916, he went on to continue his studies at
Bussy Institution. His atheistic beliefs flourished at Harvard where
and the New Biology, which denied the existence of God, were enjoying
popularity on campus.
By the time Kinsey arrived in Indiana, he was an
atheist who embraced the science of eugenics, which called for the
of "lower level" Americans. For the rest of his life, he would permit
blacks, Jews or committed Christians on his staff.
His books make no attempt to hide his "grand
which was to steer society away from its traditional moral standards
toward "free love."
Q: Were there any aspects of Kinsey's methods and
that were questionable?
Brinkmann: Almost all of his methods were
However, the fundamental flaw in Kinsey's research was that it was
on a sexually explicit and highly offensive questionnaire comprised of
350 questions that few "typical" Americans were willing to answer.
This meant he had to rely on "volunteers" to answer
questionnaire, which included a variety of deviants such as
criminals, prostitutes, streetwalkers and other riffraff.
Serious social scientists know that they can't rely
volunteers for sexual studies because it attracts a disproportionate
of "unconventional" men and women. Relying on these volunteers would
results that showed a falsely high percentage of non-virginity,
promiscuity and homosexuality in the population.
However, this is precisely what Kinsey did. Kinsey
1,400 criminals and sex offenders as "normal" on the grounds that such
miscreants were essentially the same as other men -- except that these
had gotten caught. The "human males" category could then include
pedophiles, pederasts, homosexual males, boy prostitutes and
His studies concerning child sexuality are the most
-- and some say criminal -- of all. Kinsey relied on pedophiles who
him data from their crimes. He used this data to claim that children as
young as 4 months are capable of sexual arousal.
Kinsey staff member and co-author Paul Gebhard
that they were relying on information being sent to them by a man named
Rex King, a serial rapist who was guilty of raping more than 800
Perhaps the most widely publicized connection
Kinsey and a known pedophile took place in Germany a year after
death. Notorious Nazi pedophile Dr. Fritz Von Balluseck was on trial
the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl when correspondence from
was found in his possession.
Kinsey was encouraging the doctor to continue
him "data" from his crimes and even urged him to "be careful" in one
The details of this aspect of Kinsey's work were
into a documentary film in 1998 and entitled "Secret History: Kinsey's
Pedophiles." It aired in England but was never shown in the United
Q: Did credentialed experts criticize Kinsey's works?
Brinkmann: Several experts criticized Kinsey's work,
as W. Allen Wallis, the University of Chicago statistician and past
of the American Statistical Association who was one of the nation's
distinguished statisticians. Wallis found serious flaws in Kinsey's
not the least of which was the fact that one-third of the men
were sex offenders.
Even the esteemed British medical journal, The
concluded that Kinsey "questioned an unrepresentative proportion of
inmates and sex offenders in a survey of normal sexual behavior."
Dr. Albert Hobbs, a sociologist and author at the
of Pennsylvania, accused Kinsey of violating all three precepts
for sound scientific method and procedure.
First, the scientist should not have any
hypothesis in order to present only the facts. Hobbs noted that "Kinsey
actually had a two-pronged hypothesis. He vigorously promoted, juggling
his figures to do so, a hedonistic, animalistic conception of sexual
while at the same time he consistently denounced all biblical and
conceptions of sexual behavior."
Second, Kinsey refused to publish the basic data
his conclusions rested. Third, he refused to reveal the questionnaire
which he based all of his facts.
Q: What effect did Kinsey's works have on American
Brinkmann: This is particularly disturbing. Between
years of 1948 and 1952, two critical events were taking place in the
States -- the introduction of Kinsey's erroneous research into American
society and the development of the Model Penal Code.
One of the principal authors of the new MPC was
Ploscowe, a staunch supporter of Kinsey's research. Ploscowe argued
based on Kinsey's findings, "when a total cleanup of sex offenders is
it is in effect a proposal to put 95% of the male population in jail
Therefore, Ploscowe wrote, "If these conclusions are
then it is obvious that our sex crime legislation is completely out of
touch with the realities of individual living …."
Unfortunately, he never investigated the "if," and
plowed ahead with the MPC revision that resulted in the downward
of penalties for 52 major sex crimes.
Another big Kinsey supporter who argued for
the nation's sex crime penalties was attorney Morris L. Ernst, a
member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In addition to serving as Kinsey's attorney, he also
Margaret Sanger -- the founder of Planned Parenthood -- the Kinsey
the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States and
Parenthood of America.
According to Dr. Reisman's research, Ernst
the legalization of adultery, obscenity and abortion throughout his
as well as Kinsey's full panoply of sex law changes." According to
Kinsey's data first entered into the stream of law through the MPC
draft number four, dealing with sex offenses, on April 25, 1955.
The good news is that in April of 2004, after five
of study, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of 2,400
from 50 states, concluded that the work of Kinsey was a fraud and
The report outlined the influence these bogus
had on the weakening of 52 sex laws that once protected women, children
and marriage. Methods for undoing the damage to America's social and
systems are presently being studied.