The German Option: Will the English Bishops follow their German counterparts into Schism?
What is the German Option? Sandro Magister in L'Espresso has explained how a synod is developing in Germany:
Here are a few excerpts:
“The synod held its first session in Frankfurt from January 30 to February 1. And the inaugural Mass, officiated by Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx, provided the portrait of it, with bishops, priests, and lay people [who form the majority]...
Truly a very active man. However throughout his career he has been an advocate of LGBT rights and evidently believes there is no problem with their lifestyle.
Perhaps what is interesting is that since the publication of the LifeSiteNews article on 13th May 2020 there has been no reaction from anyone in the Catholic world apart from a passing twitter from Damian Thompson. Blinded by his CV? Fear of legal proceedings or just so aghast as to freeze? There is total silence.
This is surely the moment to determine the future direction of the Bishops' conference.
The story has come to a head over the closing of Churches during the Covid-19 pandemic. Apparently the Government were not minded to close Churches other than to ban religious services but McManus acting for the Bishops' conference persuaded them to close the doors of the Churches. This was utterly deplorable. I knew nothing of McManus but I saw this as the culmination of an appalling record in the Catholic Church in England going back many decades.
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
When I was in practice as a Solicitor from the 1960s onwards all that seemed to be happening was the collapse of the Church. I dealt with nuns leaving their convents in droves and the inevitable closure of convents that followed. Then we had the abuse scandals which made being a Catholic an embarrassment. Church attendance was in free-fall, many beautiful churches were uglified in a program of re-ordering and Catholic institutions either disappeared or became increasingly laicised and secularised. Clergy seemed preoccupied with worldly matters and inevitably became political. Vocations fell off a cliff and now we can anticipate our monasteries disappearing – by their fruits you will know them. Modern catechetics lost its way and much of the fault for that must be laid at the foot of the Catholic Education Service which is an arm of the Bishops' Conference.
A particular problem with which I was concerned was the secularisation of the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth. First of all there was an attempt by secular elements to purloin the Hospital. I brought this to the attention of Cardinal Hume who was very angry over this issue. Unfortunately he ended up dead at the Hospital after his cancer was diagnosed as merely depression. His plan to create a centre of Catholic Medical Excellence was buried by the apparatchiks at the Bishops' Conference.
In the first decade of the present century a number of eminent lay Catholics – philosophers, ethicists and others presented a petition to Cardinal Cormac, to ban Gender Reassignment Operations (GROs)– mainly female to male – which were taking place at the Hospital contrary to their code of ethics but earning them much money. Cormac instead of dealing with this passed the buck to Rome. Fortunately the then Cardinal Ratzinger told Cormac to set up an inquiry which duly reported and recommended a much stronger code of ethics. However despite rumours of abortions taking place and a disregard for Humanae Vitae Cardinal Cormac gave in to secular minded doctors and allowed the new code to be eviscerated. One particular point that struck me was that the newly eviscerated code, blessed by Cardinal Cormac removed the ban on FGMs – Female Genital Mutilation. One can now see such a ban might have interfered with the lucrative Gender Reassignment Operations. Cormac triumphed in the end when the Catholic Board of the Hospital who had wrested control from the secularists were unceremoniously asked to resign in favour of Cormac's more compliant appointees.
At the time I pleaded with the Bishops' conference to do something but they refused saying that there was nothing wrong with GRO's if the patient felt better afterwards. It was plain to me that Cormac rejected the Church's teaching on sexuality and the Bishops' Conference followed his lead. Cormac's disastrous handling of the case of the paedophile Father Hill has to be seen in that light. We then had the scandal of the Soho Masses which seemed to be under the control of an active gay man who ran a blog:https://queeringthechurch.wordpress.com/ proposing a 'reality-based theology'. Lay Catholics protested about this but Cormac's successor Cardinal Vincent Nichols told them “Hold your Tongues”. Cardinal Nichols emerged from a low week meeting of the Bishops' Conference to say he was in favour of Civil Unions for homosexual couples. A position taken up by a representative of Catholic Voices at one point.
Over the years the Catholic Education Service, an arm of the Bishops' Conference, has been complicit in agreeing to the Government's plans for sex education. In 2010 in correspondence they misrepresented what the Government were laying down by quoting what the Minister had said in Parliament but carefully cutting out statements that should have been unacceptable to the Catholic Church. More recently the Government is implementing an unacceptable sex education programme in the Autumn and once more the Catholic Education Service has accepted it. There is an authoritative article by Dr Tom Rogers entitled "How Catholic Church Officials have betrayed Parents and Children" in the Spring 2019 edition of 'Calx Mariae'.
THE McMANUS AFFAIR – A CRITICAL TURNING-POINT?
I see it as such but it is a matter of scandal which has not been resolved one way of another. The official line as communicated to me is that:
a. The Bishops Conference did not persuade the Government to close the Churches but that Churches have been closed in response to the requirements of the Government.
That rather dodges the issue as the question is how did those requirements come about. The Westminster Archdiocese website at: https://rcdow.org.uk/news/churches-to-close-with-immediate-effect/ reports on a clarification issued by the Bishops' Conference which reads:
"'Professor Jim McManus has spoken with a senior civil servant and it was quite clear they just had not thought through the issues of infection and security of churches and when he made these points clear, they were appalled and agreed they had made a mistake."
That surely requires further explanation.
b. McManus is not an employee of the Bishops' Conference.
If you mean by employed that someone is a paid employee of the Conference then that is probably correct. However in ordinary parlance to employ someone has a much wider meaning. For example somebody might say that they have employed a Solicitor to fight their case in court. Of course this does not mean that the Solicitor is a paid employee but merely that he is in a professional relationship where he is self-employed acting on behalf of a client. McManus appears on the Conference website advising about Coronavirus on behalf of the Conference and the above quote shows him acting as an agent for the Conference. Can the Conference really dispute that?
- The Conference and the hierarchy cannot comment as the matter is the subject of legal processes.It is claimed that the matter is 'sub judice' and therefore any public discussion would be a contempt of court. Did they bother to take legal advice on this point? The Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it clear that in respect of civil proceedings the rule only applies when the case has been set down for trial on a fixed date. As far as has been reported no writ has been issued and the process of setting down for trial only follows weeks or months after the issue of a writ. It is therefore nonsense to say that the matter is 'sub judice' and one can only assume that this is a pathetic attempt to refuse to respond to the concerns of the laity and a desire to cover-up the truth.
Of course the nub of this matter is not really about the closure of churches but how it is that a man who promotes the LGBT cause and/or promotes abortion, if that is the case, has been allowed to penetrate the Church in England and Wales and to have such a high profile in the Bishops' Conference and more distressingly become Chairman of Governors of the Anscombe Bioethical Centre – an organisation that is supposedly in the front line of supporting Catholic condemnation of homosexual acts and abortion. Although their website has suddenly said he is 'on leave of absence' – no doubt a euphemism.
An explanation is demanded but so far it is not forthcoming.
The question then arises as to whether the Bishops' Conference is heading down a path similar to that of the German Bishops. There are of course some Bishops who are very strong in opposing abortion and some have murmured about the closure of Churches but it is only a murmur. Are they strong enough to bring the Conference back on course? There is no cause for optimism that they are.
Is the Conference so infiltrated by the homosexual lobby and a disregard for sexual morality that they will take up the German Option? If they do I doubt whether it will be done openly or as a result of consultation with laity. It will just gradually happen. Sin will be normalised.
Any Bishop reading this should note that Sandro Magister's first heading is POWER. The GERMAN OPTION involves handing over power to the laity. Perhaps this something which some Bishops would be only too happy to accept. It would save them a lot of bother if they just become figureheads.
The final question is what should be the response of the faithful laity to such a move to the GERMAN OPTION. Some have suggested that withholding money from the clergy is one answer i.e. stop putting money in the plate. I doubt if this will work. If the Church gradually becomes indistinguishable from the worldly zeitgeist the Churches will empty – why bother? - the hierarchy can then sell off redundant churches and live on the proceeds.
Will faithful Bishops, Priests or Religious stop this? Unfortunately most will do nothing out of false loyalty and false obedience. It is going to be up to the Laity to get the barque of the Church back on an even keel. So far I have not seen overmuch happening amongst the laity but let us hope matters will change.
Maybe there will be a rising up from an unexpected quarter. Some have suggested that what we are seeing is a Marxist culture war to destroy Christian civilisation by revolution and the destruction of morality and in particular the family. Originally the theory was that the proletariat would rise up and bring about the revolution. However the proletariat have been a disappointment to Marxists. They have therefore given up on the proletariat and have instead turned to certain minorities – extreme feminists, ethnic minorities, those with homosexual tendencies, those with gender dysphoria etc. to replace the proletariat and to foment a revolution. However it may be that it will be just these groups, who like the proletariat, will disappoint the Marxists. It is noticeable for instance that the ethnic minorities in the Church seem to be the most traditional and they must be asking themselves whether those who cry 'Black Lives Matter' means “Only some Black Lives Matter” when it comes to the unborn. Are there not many with homosexual tendencies who do not want to be promoting queerdom? Many feminists are at war with the transgender movement. And are there not many ordinary people with no particular religious affiliation who are protesting at the filth that is being fed to their children as 'sex education'?
We live in interesting times.
Nicolas J. Bellord 12th June 2020
UPDATE 13th June 2020
Churches are to be allowed to be re-opened for private prayers as from Monday 15th June. The Catholic Church has issued guidance to its priests dated 1st June on 3rd June:
The Church of England followed suit on 3rd June:
There is a great contrast. Whilst the Church of England writes:
Should someone be present all the time to monitor the church?
There is no public health need to do this, though the decision will need to be based on your own local situation and risk assessment.
Catholic priests are told:
At least two stewards must be present in the church throughout the time it is open for prayer; the stewards must ensure that hand sanitisation occurs at entry and exit points, social distancing is maintained by people in the church and if a pre-determined capacity is reached, they prevent others from entering the church. (Through, for example, a “one in, one out” policy.) People with cold or flu-like symptoms should be asked not to enter.
And that is just the start as to what these stewards have to do.
But why the difference? Are not Catholic priests being asked to do far more than the Government actually requires?
Physical veneration of relics or objects such as statues, crucifixes and shrines is not permitted.
So presumably genuflecting in front of a crucifix is now forbidden; although for years such quaint customs have been discouraged by our more progressive clergy.
As for confession, which could easily be made available, there is no mention.
All in all the Church of England's document is encouraging the opening of their churches with as few restrictions as possible whilst the Catholic Church seems to be imposing such detailed and burdensome requirements on Parish Priests that it is difficult to see how more than a few will be able to open their churches.
It has been suggested that the hand of McManus is all over this document. If so, just what is happening?
I would imagine that Satan would see the current deprivation of the laity of sacramental grace as truly a great victory. Has he not got some useful disciples, knowingly or unknowingly, implementing his wishes?