The crisis in the church gets worse and everyone, save those implicated, must agree that the problem of clerical sexual abuse needs clearing up once and for all. Otherwise the church is going to lose every last shred of moral and spiritual authority for a generation or more. It is profoundly depressing.

Indeed the problem is now so profound that anyone using it to fight tired culture wars are part of the problem not the cure. Put bluntly the crisis must not be used by disgruntled Catholics to go after the Pope for political ends. But nor must fawning admirers of the pontiff suggest allegations of his involvement be ignored or downplayed in the face of serious allegation. What is needed is THE TRUTH. Followed by robust action no matter how painful.

For unless this cancer is expunged from the body of Christ it will continue to spread and cause damage. It is time for impartial investigation and total transparency. It is time for Catholics to stop weaponising this crisis and confront it together.

Five things we do NOT NEED:

  1. Appeals for silence. This encourages sweeping under the carpet allowing abusers to wriggle from the hook. Silence is what every abuser in history desired from institutions and victims – for it enables abuse to continue in the shadows. Turn on the lights – call sin out- leave nowhere to hide.
  2. Mistaken victimhood. I was saddened that the Holy Father claimed the bishops are victims in all of this. They are not. They live privileged lives but have/or had solemn responsibility over us. Either they have done their duty or failed where sexual abuse is concerned. The victims are those who abused sexually. Call out the guilty and exonerate the innocent.
  3. Denial. The media refuses to connect dots between sexual abuse in the church and an unhealthy homosexual clergy subculture. This is understandable because the rainbow agenda is a sacred cow in the modern world. But it is not helpful in this instance given that over 80% of abuse was male on male. Let us agree that homosexuality is not the problem per se but that this problem does centre predominantly on abuse committed by homosexual clergy. The old habit of turning blind eyes to those ignoring vows of chastity must be dealt with. It is not only children who are victims of abuse as the Harvey Weinstein scandal made clear. Adults can be victims of unwanted advances also. Witch hunts must be avoided then but those involved called to account not excused.
  4. Instituional fidelity. A love for the church can lead to a protection of institution at cost to victims. This must end. Because further cover up is going to lead to decline not flourishing. So lets put it ALL OUT in the open that healing can begin and we can look to the future in hope.
  5. Stonewalling: If it becomes apparent abusers and protectors are in such places of authority that they are not accountable- it must be dealt with. Then it is time for Cardinals to act. For priests to act. For the laity to act. We cannot be held hostage by those not living out the Gospel of Christ. We must not simply give up if the process proves long, tiring and painful. Pressure must continue until the demonic elements are finally removed. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

Five things we Do NEED:

  1. Faith in God. The presence of Judas should not derail us from love of God. We must hold together in faith and not abandon Christ as he endures another passion. Let us be at the foot of the cross. Let us look to the Stations and see the abusers and enablers as the ones whipping him afresh. They must be held to account.
  2. Impartial investigation. Sorry but the Pope’s council of 9 responding to accusations wont cut it. Not when over half are themselves linked to scandals and accusations of corruption. Not when the Pope is himself accused and  hand picked them. Any investigation needs outside impartial monitoring and involvement.
  3. Grass roots mission: Most are beyond the pay grade necessary to sort out this mess. But we can choose to support parishes where the faith is preached and lived. We can support and build up the next generation of bishops. Don’t get too bogged down with the grot above- rejoice in what is good locally.
  4. Write letters: Write to the bishop. Tell him how angry you are. Explain your frustration. Pressure must continue until the grot is sorted. Those in authority must hear, loud and clear, that the faithful wont tolerate any more of this behaviour. We give our money for the life of the church not to pay off abusers debts.
  5. Reform your life. When we are scandalised by sin in others we must learn to confront it in our own lives too. Make a good confession. Do penance. Start again with God and get your house in order. He is merciful and loving. Forgiveness is there- but not without accepting responsibility for our behaviour.

Pray then that this crisis will get sorted. Pray that true shepherds step forward and prove themselves men of God, not cowards, by driving out the wicked hirelings from amongst them. May they not put ambition or friendship ahead of the need for justice and truth. We need bishops we can trust. But we wont’ know who those are until on the other side of this crisis.

After such a grotty post yesterday I thought, in the interest of balance, today should be about celebrating all that is good in the church. Because aside from this awful crisis in the Vatican, which must be dealt with to maintain credibility, there is so much to thank God for- though it rarely makes the news.

Did you know that each and every day the Catholic church:

Educates more people…

Provides hospital care for more people…..

Feeds more people…

Clothes more people….

Shelters more people…

Brings healing and forgiveness to more people….

Than any other organisation on the face of the earth. Within our 1.4 billion strong church the vast majority of bishops, priests and deacons are hard working and decent men who love the Lord and sacrifice much to build up God’s kingdom on earth. A great many lay people regularly give their time, resources and gifts to the service of the church and find meaning and purpose and guidance for life. We have a magnificent heritage and a firm deposit of faith that endures in all ages. We have some of the most beautiful buildings on earth and can be proud of our contribution to Western Society.

In our own parish in Pembury, looking only at the last fortnight, there has been a magnificent response to our emergency Kerala appeal and people are returning to the pews from holidays with smiles on faces and much good will.

All of which is to state that God is, as ever, active. He can be found in all churches where people worship with sincerity, in all the acts of kindness and love offered in his name each and every day. He is there amongst the poor and the suffering and there for all who call on his name. The faith has not changed and any who follow it authentically can and will find grace. There is much to be thankful for. We must never forget that.

A lengthy, unpleasant and challenging post follows. But I think it needs to be said.

The Catholic church is suffering crisis, perhaps its greatest since the reformation, with righteous anger directed at the hierarchy regarding (yet more) revelations of predatory abuse following fresh investigation in America. The crisis goes to the top this time after a highly reputable Archbishop then blew the whistle on an alleged active gay lobby within the Vatican. The most serious allegation being that Pope Francis rehabilitated Cardinal McCarrick, despite knowledge that he was a predatory homosexual and part of the lobby, and only disciplined him (softly) once it became apparent his deviancy led him to interfere with children as well.

Earlier this year a book was released called the Dictator Pope; it was a profoundly difficult read because, if only ten per cent is true, it also points to evil at work within the Vatican. The central claim being that a homosexual lobby operates at the highest levels of the church and is embroiled in multiple scandals sexual and financial. The book alleges this lobby, under a self imposed guise of a “Mafia”,  even manipulated the last conclave to ensure the Papacy would protect them. It chimes with what Vigano is now claiming.

I would love to disregard such accusations as conspiracy…I sincerely hope it transpires that they are false.  But with so much smoke warnings of a fire cannot simply be dismissed with integrity. ‘Move along, nothing to see’ doesn’t hold up to scrutiny within the present climate. Not with 1000 fresh victims in less than a handful of dioceses, according to the latest report, and over 100 clergy guilty of deviant behaviour. Not with bishops colluding in abuse and others covering. So, with or without help from on high, we must get to the truth no matter the cost. The cancer in the body of Christ needs ripping out. If a lobby exists it must be held to account. But does it exist? If so who are they? And who protects them? Without greater transparency and accountability from the Vatican it is hard for us to know anything for certain.

What follows represents my personal fears and nagging questions in the face of these allegations. Some fears may be unfounded and fuelled only by speculation and rumour, please God that is true. But ponder the crisis we must for every fresh revelation suggests that “something seems rotten in the State of Denmark (the Vatican)” to (mis) quote Hamlet. And we who love the church must be ready to respond.

The Pope seems to keep rotten company

Even if the book is shown to be conspiratorial rumour the Holy Father does seem to choose questionable friends within his inner circle. At his election he chose to appear on the balcony with Daneels, who like McCarrick was rehabilitated by the present regime despite being mired in scandal. Then there is Paglia, who removed every orthodox member of the JPII commission for life and family and replaced them with those friendly to the LGBT cause, also mired in scandal. Or ponder the man Pope Francis appointed to clean up corruption within the Vatican Cardinal Maradiaga, who, it turns out, has scandals of his own. Cardinal Cocopalmeria is another close advisor again linked to newspaper scandal.  And then there is Ricca, given much responsibility by Francis despite having been embroiled in numerous scandals. I could continue linking. But you get the picture. Meanwhile those faithful to Church teaching have been alienated and frustrated. Could it be because a gay lobby is pulling the strings in the Vatican? The number of scandals like those above certainly makes one pause for thought before denying it out of hand.

Other questions then surface. Why is the Holy Father surrounded by men whose sanctity seems questionable? Why are so many of his inner circle implicated in homosexual scandal in particular? Why are those who push the homosexual cause, like Fr James Martin, elevated instead of disciplined for preaching a message contrary to the Gospel? There are only three possibilities. 1. Pope Francis is part of the lobby. 2. Pope Francis has reasons for protecting the lobby. 3. Pope Francis is a  poor judge of character. None of which is good news for the Church.

What cannot be denied, except by the dishonest or delusional, is that a deviant form of homosexual lifestyle lies at the heart of the abuse crisis. It is different outside of the church but within it 80% of victims were post pubescent males. Let that sink in. This article makes the point . One begins to see why Francis must answer his accusers. Did he knowingly rehabilitate McCarrick or not? Is he part of the problem or its cure? Evasion of that central question will get us nowhere but only add to the problem.

And what a problem! Not least because the majority of homosexual clergy are not abusers but the vast majority of abusers were homosexual. Not least because, within the present culture, homosexuality has become a golden calf never to be criticised or questioned! Nevertheless we must investigate and know the truth. Is Pope Francis committed to ensuring priests adhere to vows of chastity? And is he committed to rooting out the unhealthy subculture at the heart of most abuse cases? Because, make no mistake, numerous heads will need to roll if this problem is to be sorted and not just brushed under the carpet. Strong leadership is needed.

Lessons have not been learnt

It is here further concerns arise. For despite much episcopal hand-wringing and countless apologies, the response of hierarchy, to date, suggests a tendency for institutional protection over transparency persists. The following three responses, each wrongheaded in the face of abuse, having been too much in evidence since the ‘Vigano crisis’ broke:

APPEALS TO SILENCE

When asked about Vigano’s accusation Pope Francis stated he would “not say a word”. This silence in the face of credible accusation is wrong headed even if the intention may be holy. What I think should have been said instead is ‘I plan to look into this very seriously upon my return to Rome.” For silence is the pernicious cloak under which every abuser operates urging victims to keep ‘our little secret?’ Silence is what got the bishops into this mess in the first place as they attempted to sweep grot under the carpet and move abusers on. It will not do. And claims by unquestioning supporters of the current papacy, that silence is somehow saintly and Christ like, have therefore angered me. Never is silence the correct response where sexual abuse is concerned. Never!

ATTACK

The Holy Father got into hot water earlier this year for attacking the victims of abuse in Chile, instead of listening to what they had to say to him. To his credit he later made a grovelling apology. So it is bizarre and deeply concerning that attacking and investigating the reporter of the abuse (Vigano)- instead of investigating the abuse itself- was the first knee-jerk response of team Francis. So much so Cardinal Vigano has gone into hiding for his life whilst none of his claims have been answered.

Now any member of child protection services will tell you this practice of demonising the whistle blower is the last thing that should happen when somebody finds the courage to come forward. And even if Cardinal Vigano were a bad man, as it happens he is deeply respected by many, it would not mean his account was false.

It strikes me the investigation has been all in the wrong places. Instead of going after Vigano the decent thing to have done would have been to hand over files and launch a public and impartial investigation. And given that McCarrick has now been exposed as something of a Jimmy Saville for the church – shouldn’t the men he personally chose for high office, like Cupich and Tobin, be thoroughly scrutinised also? But instead they seem protected. Cardinal Wuerl, mentioned multiple times as enabling the abuse in the recent report, still in office despite loud calls for his resignation. Despite the fact that, being over the age of 75, the Pope could have pulled the plug on him weeks ago. One senses a circling of wagons not a healthy response to revelations of ingrained and systematic abuse.

POLITICISING AND EVASION

Since the scandal broke those seeking to protect the Pope from his critics have attempted to politicise the debate. They insist this is merely a calculated ‘right wing attack’ designed to bring down the papacy. It does not wash. Not with the sheer number of victims in so many different countries and across all theological spectrums. Undoubtedly those unhappy with the current regime will shout loudest but I assure you it is not a love of tradition or theological nuance that is angering most people in the pews. This is a matter of simple decency and it is not good enough to deflect our attention via politics on this one.

Nor should we be told the Pope has more important things to concern himself with. That is simply not true. Nor do distractions about Vigano and the Pope’s historic meeting with divorcees help matters in the slightest. None of that is salient to the point in hand. Only one question matters..did Pope Francis knowingly rehabilitate a known sexual predator or not? Or put another way- is he capable of sorting this crisis out or not? Can he and his close circle of advisors be trusted or not?

To conclude: 

I don’t regret becoming Catholic. Ours remains the true church (compromised though it may be by wicked men) nor is the faith itself brought into question by abusers blatantly not living by it. But I am despairing of the present situation and praying the hierarchy would clean up the mess and stop defending the institution at all cost. Dare I suggest the credibility of the church and her moral authority over the next generations depends upon it?

Dear Holy Father and bishops- please listen to those who are questioning, not out of a displaced sense of loyalty, but out of love and concern for the church. Please hold sinners to account and give us holy men for the future.

And we who have little by way of power must pray and keep up the pressure. We must demand answers for the sake of our children and credibility. It is time to be counted as an extraordinary gauntlet is laid at the feet of the Vatican; tell us- who are the sheeps and who are goats? And how do you plan to sort out this mess?

We have had enough of words without action. We cannot continue as before. I continue to pray for Pope Francis daily and continue to respect the office he holds.

head

Today the church celebrates the Passion of John the Baptist. The Gospel at Mass recounting that most lurid scriptural passage in which two men lose their head. One metaphorically the other literally. These men stand in stark contrast. John the Baptist a radical herald of a kingdom yet to come. Herod a herald and ruler of this fallen world.

As the drama unfolds we discover that the Baptist has nothing in worldly terms. Having lived his life for God he is now penniless and in prison. His crime to have spoken moral truth to power regarding the marriage of Herod to his brother’s wife. And yet despite his poverty and plight in human terms he is upstanding and proud. A courageous paragon of virtue whose integrity and personal holiness even the wicked acknowledge and admire; despite finding his words deeply unsettling Herod is mesmerised by him. John lived for Christ and his inner beauty shone forth for all to see.

Meanwhile Herod has everything in worldly terms. A palace, power, incredible wealth, his brother’s wife…and her daughter to dance for him. Yet despite holding the aces he cannot hold a candle to John. We learn he is morally compromised and pathetically weak. His problem is twofold:

I.  He is a slave to his passions; he cannot control his lust. This leads him to make rash promises and behave in a way he later regrets.

II. He is in thrall to the popular consensus: unable to stand up for what he believes because he fears offending his guests. It stops him from doing what is right and paves the way for violence and murder.

As I listened to the Gospel this evening I was struck by it’s relevance. Catholicism finding itself in crisis today precisely because we have too many Cardinal Herods and not enough Cardinal Johns! Which is to state huge and lasting damage has been dealt to Christian credibility because sinful bishops, priests and deacons have found themselves incapacitated by the exact same flaws as that scoundrel Herod.

Those unable to control their passions dealt the first and heaviest blow. How sickening to hear of so many depraved sins visited on children and adults alike. From the repugnant brutes who degraded innocent little children to pervy prelates who preyed on their seminarians. The caving in to lust by those in holy orders has created a scandal crying out to heaven for justice!

And it was the second flaw, fear of losing face in the world, that enabled these sinners to go unpunished so long. Too many Cardinals and bishops (even the present pontiff if whistle blowing Cardinals are to be believed) having efused to confront the excesses of an unhealthy homosexual subculture (which is at the root of over 80% of the abuse) because they put careers and the institution first and the divine law second. We might also consider the legion of modern bishops who, unlike the baptist, never speak moral truth to the world because they hunger for secular approval, seeming to care more for human politics and comfort in this life than the salvation of souls in the next.

Whatever your theological leaning there is no denying it is a terrible mess. It is high time then that people were held to account regardless of seniority. The brood of vipers must be removed and a new generation of authentic apostles recruited.

The current problems are beyond the pay grade of laity and priests. Pray then that God might stir the remaining men of God, from amongst the Episcopacy, into firm action. Enough with the banal and meaningless apologies drafted in the wake of abuse by lawyers! Enough of looking the other way and not holding people to account. Enough of soft retirements for wicked men funded by the cash of humble church goers. We need the true shepherds to arise and come to our aid. NOW is the time for new saints and martyrs to deliver us from the hands of wicked men. John the Baptist pray for us.

In this morning’s Gospel we discover an unnerving fact. Even amongst those who walked with Jesus were a number who, despite claiming to be his followers, were actually his betrayers. Not that Jesus was  fooled by them; He knew that in their hearts they neither believed nor loved him sufficiently. That despite counting themselves amongst his disciples they did not belong to him but rather to this fallen world and to the enemy. It has ever been thus which is why the name Judas is infamous. Which is why we face, once again, disgusting reports in the media regarding clerical sexual abuse and its cover up by those in authority.

It is easy to lose perspective in life. To get so wrapped up in the wrong stuff that we lose sight of the bigger picture altogether. The danger is that life then gets frittered away with pointless distraction or worse. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had this problem; they scrutinised the Jewish law in minute detail but often forgot the overall purpose of faith- to grow in love and holiness. So when a Pharisee attempted to draw Jesus into a long winded theological debate, asking ‘what is the greatest commandment?’ Jesus shut him up by cutting to the chase: “love God with all your heart and neighbor as yourself.” Our Lord wanted us to understand that our faith and our salvation ultimately boils down to how well we fulfill these two simple commandments.

For Jesus the very meaning of life is to cultivate, in the few short years given to us, sincere love of God and neighbor. Do this and you will flourish in accordance with His will. Refuse and you will soon fall into sin and misery. Understand then that all the law and prophets, all the external trappings of faith, all the creeds, devotions and rules, important as they are, only exist to direct us into a living relationship with God. Authenticity of faith – not how well we keep rules- is what really matters.

Why? Because only authentic love of God brings the necessary super-natural grace to enable us to be transformed, to overcome sin and learn to love others as he loves us. Which is to state that Sanctification is the point of religion. The process of our our becoming holy. And only when we understand this can we realise that our life is given as an opportunity to grow in personal holiness. To choose God. The point of Mass, of private devotion, of fasting and feasting, charity, marriage and family, of business and recreation; it all boils down to this; an opportunity to grow in holiness. Each day presented as an opportunity to demonstrate a love of God and neighbor. But do we take them? Do we choose them? Do we seek them out? Do we act on them? Or is our love selfish, twisted and miserly. Are we simply too busy serving self and seeking hedonistic pleasure of the sort that leads away from God’s love? Away from sincere holiness of life?

Nobody likes financial crashes but they do at least remind us life isn’t about money. We are foolish if we seek fulfillment in material possessions. There is nothing wrong with riches but every miserable millionaire reminds us wealth doesn’t ultimately buy happiness. For we are spiritual creatures; made to love God and care for others. And so it is only when we choose a life of virtue over vice, the path of inner holiness, that we find joy. True peace belongs to those who become a living icon of Christ.

Whenever we put someone else first, or are generous with time or resources, even in small ways, we grow in divine likeness. But the opposite is also true. When we choose to serve self alone, or turn from God’s revealed truth, we diminish. The purpose of life is to choose. No matter our age, occupation, or circumstance, we get to decide, each day, where our heart belongs. We can love God and grow in holiness or grow in selfishness and come to hate him and his Word.

Let me end with a grave warning for all who claim to be Christian but are not growing in personal holiness. The Pharisees lost their faith, and Judas damned his soul to hell, even whilst they claimed to believe in God and follow him! So don’t become the idiot who imagines ‘being Catholic’ is about belonging to the institution not offering a heart of love to the Lord. Don’t be the hypocrite who subscribes to faith verbally but with insufficient love for it to make a difference in the way their life is lived. And above all do not become the monster, many of whom seem to have been ordained in recent years, who behave one way at Mass but another (even abusively or in a way that hides abuse) outside of mass.

Such people are not friends of God who slipped up. They are enemies of the faith whose hearts are obviously set on things not of God. Frauds whose hearts belong to this fallen world not to Christ. For no heart beating with authentic love for Jesus could sexually abuse a child, or cover it up, and then enter the sanctuary to offer Mass. It seems many clergy have been charlatans who profit from the body of Christ but whose faith is sham. In them we discern none of the authentic holiness Jesus called for. They must be rooted out.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day, like the compromised and Christians of our day, were religious but had no living faith in God. It made for a sorry situation because religion without faith is utterly rotten. It stinks every bit as much as a marriage without love. How easy to go through the motions of faith but without the one thing that can save you; sincere love of God and neighbour.

So when you pray, when you go to Mass, when you humbly confess your sins or prepare conscientiously to receive Communion; when you wrestle with your passions through fasting and self-denial; when you try to live your faith-  in other words—however imperfectly— do it for love of Him. Else you might as well leave and not come back. God sees into your heart and soul. And it is only those who really do love him with sincerity who count as his disciples.

My prayer in these dark and difficult days for the church is that our little parish, made up of sinners though it is, will be a place of authentic devotion and faith. That we may keep alive what is being lost elsewhere. Let us do our best to love God and our neighbour as our self. Let us strive to be authentic followers of him.

News from the far east where Fr. Nicholas, and his wife Mary, are spending August. It is their favoured destination each summer due to the fact that their eldest resides in Hong Kong. This year he joins our intrepid duo in Borneo where they soon plan to set off in canoes to hunt out Orang-utan. But before the pith helmet and giant shorts of the missionary priest can be donned time is being spent in the Cameron Highlands from where he sent me this wonderful photograph and news of his escapades thus far.

It transpires that Fr. Nicholas celebrated and preached Mass there on Sunday morning. This was followed by a visit to the farm of Joseph the Crysanthemum grower who requested a solemn blessing for a motor car and two flats. Father Nicholas assures me he remembered the precise sequence of blessing in Latin and English and flourished the aspergillum with aplomb. Perhaps it is fortunate that Joseph the Crysanthemum grower is neither a liturgist nor fluent in either language…

Being less flippant- Father Nicholas timed his visit well given that the duty cleric that day was an 84 year old French mission priest who was recovering from a hip operation five weeks ago! He, in turn, was covering for the parish priest who was away in Kuala Lumpur on annual leave. Given that the recovering priest was not very mobile an enthusiastic and energetic eccentric from England to trek off on parish duties was just what the doctor ordered.

And after the blessings of car and flats Father was driven up into the hills, in a distinctly unroadworthy jeep, to give the last rites to a brain damaged grandmother incapable of speech, movement or sight. Father Nicholas tells me it was unusually humbling even for a priest of the Ordinariate. He adds that he will “never again complain about life in Pembury, Wateringbury and school in a single day”. His point is apposite- we in the West really do take our privilege for granted sometimes.

Please pray for all our holidaying congregation. Pray that families may have much needed quality time together- they do not get enough of it in the modern world. I myself am off to the Ordinariate lay conference in Worth Abbey this afternoon to deliver a talk. Then I shall drop the workload and head to the Loire Valley in France with tent and family in tow. I am grateful to a friend who is residing in the presbytery in our absence to care for the dog. And to Fr. Des of the Mill Hill Fathers who is offering cover this Sunday and making an appeal. Finally do pray for the Orang-utan of Borneo who must now brace themselves for a visit from dear Father Nicholas…

A little late but time to share some of the wonderful photographs taken at our children’s holiday club: Catholics in the Wild West. It was a brilliant week and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, from the youngest children to the oldest helpers!

Cactus are being painted here by one of the youngest groups. The children having been grouped by age into various Indian Tribes- the Comanches, the Sioux, the Novajo and the Cherokee. Each began the camp by decorating a teepee in which they could gather each day for instruction.

As ever the craft was first rate; all of it having been meticulously planned by Hayley who puts a great deal of energy into leading it each year. Having burned the candle at both ends in the run up to the club she is deserving of much thanks and praise. Below we see the children creating a modern take on native American jewellery.

In between craft activities and games in the paddock there was time for relaxation and laughter. Here we see Father Nicholas, ever eccentric, being taught, at his request, to state “can I buy some coconut water from your cousin’s stall” in Malayalam. It proved no problem to our talented children!

The clergy dogs were also in attendance on the first day. Coco and Aeschylus receiving an awful lot of fuss and a goodly proportion of most sandwich lunches.

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Each day the children listened to a talk on the history and culture of the Wild West era. They also had a short talk from me on the faith and how it unfolded in that place. We chose three amazing people from that era, two saints and a blessed, and also considered how the primitive animism of the native Americans, whilst faulty from a Catholic viewpoint, demonstrates man’s desire to know God. This animism inspired the Totem Poles and we thoroughly enjoyed making our own.

The children also made puppet horses. These were great fun and painted in a wild array of different colours. Including pink stripes?!?!

All in all it was a fabulous three days and it is little wonder that the club is now over-subscribed each year. In three packed days we managed to do a huge amount of children’s work as a parish. A massive thank you to all who helped in any way. And also to the children who behaved impeccably and helped make it all a lot of fun.

Pembury be on alert because outlaws are coming to town. The good news being that we are fully booked for this year’s eagerly anticipated holiday club ‘Catholics in the Wild West’. This means 35 primary school aged children are lined up to don spurs, craft cactus and paint head-dresses as we explore 19th Century North American history.

Now some people might consider the lawless West a very dangerous place for the children of our parish to explore. But do not be concerned for these are experienced and intrepid explorers who, in recent years, mastered journeys to Space, explored under the Sea, trekked on Safari and overcame Tigers in India! Perhaps it is the wanted men who should fear. Here is the most notorious of all who, rumour has it, is planning to escape the country before the club begins.

The holiday club is always great fun, enjoyed by children and helpers alike. But it is only possible thanks to the organisational genius and dedicated hard work of my wife Hayley. She spends most of her spare time in July preparing craft, ordering equipment and planning each day meticulously. We are also indebted to all who assist her with prep and help on the day. Less than a week to go and the excitement is mounting…

 

My wife Hayley is the star of the latest educational video produced by the National Gallery in London, where she works, three days a week, as a painting restorer. In this short film she explains how varnish is removed from oil paintings as part of that restoration work and we see various techniques used by the conservators. The picture is Bonheur’s ‘The Horse Fair’.

Being married can bring about a sense of familiarity which makes us forget how talented and gifted our loved ones really are. Wow! Those days when Hayley sets off for London really are spent doing vital cultural work and it is good that her talents do not go to waste. Signed a proud husband!

Each year the Catholic author Joanna Bogle leads a series of walks around London which focus on our Catholic heritage and history. I am told they are first rate. Details about the 2018 walks are below and you would be very welcome to join Joanna for any or all of them:

MONDAY September 10th

In the footsteps of St Thomas More

Meet 6pm Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row, London SW3. Nearest tube: SLOANE SQUARE or SOUTH KENSINGTON

 

SUNDAY September 16th

The City and its Wall

Meet 4pm (note time) St Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place London EC1.

 

SUNDAY September 23rd

WESTMINSTER and PARLIAMENT

Meet 4pm (note time) on the steps of Westminster Cathedra, Victoria Street London SW1

 

SUNDAY October 7th

Southwark and The Borough

Meet 4pm Church of the Most Precious Blood, O’Meara Street London SE1

 

TUESDAY October 9th

WESTMINSTER AND PARLIAMENT
Meet 6.30pm (after 5.30pm Mass) on the steps of Westminster Cathedral, Victoria Street London SW1

 

SUNDAY October 21st

In the footsteps of St Thomas More

Meet 4pm Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row London SW3.

 

NO NEED TO BOOK: JUST TURN UP!

Each Walk lasts about 1 ½ to two hours: you can of course leave at any time. We suggest a donation of £5.00p per person for each Walk.

Wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothes – we walk whatever the weather!

More information: www.catholichistorywalks.com