Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

March 21, 2014
Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Assumption

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção is a simple whitewashed church on the outside, fronted by lawns and palm trees, inside a delight to the eye.

I had briefly popped into this church one evening, but last night, late night, I was walking back from an excellent meal at 28 and was surprised to find open. Out of curiosity, I walked in, to find a service had just finished.

I discretely took a few photos, no flash, then when I saw the priest was free, asked him why the church was open.

He explained a little about the history of the church, and we had an interesting theological discussion until almost midnight.

As well as the gilt work, amazing blue ceramic tiles on the walls. This I have noticed on many of the buildings in Cascais. I learnt quite common in Portuguese churches.

I asked was the blue stone that surrounded the altar and formed the altar, marble? I was told yes. Blue marble I have never seen before. I was told it was quite rare, it was sourced from Brazil.

The church dates from the 16th century. The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, destroyed much of the surrounding area, leaving the church standing, but not untouched.

I assume the former Royal Palace, Residencial Solar Dom Carlos, I was staying in dated from this period.

My attention was drawn to an arch at the back of the church which could be seen to have partially collapsed in the middle, and columns either side which were slightly out of alignment to vertical.

A special thanks to the Parish Priest for sparing a passing pilgrim the time at so late an hour.

Synchronicity: It was the day after Festa de São José I was in Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção talking to the Parish Priest. I mentioned a prayer by Abbot Burkhard in Istanbul. One week and one day later, Paulo Coelho in a tweet, referenced this prayer on his blog.

Child abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Chuch

June 21, 2011
Father Kit Cunningham abused schoolchildren in his care at Soni, Tanzania.

Father Kit Cunningham abused schoolchildren in his care at Soni, Tanzania.

My conscience is deeply disturbed by the breach of trust that God placed in me as a Catholic priest. Many of you have suffered and been scarred by your experiences. After much reflection I have decided to return my MBE. — Father Kit Cunningham

In recent years there has been a litany of child sex abuse within and cover-up by the Catholic Church. The latest scandal is in Tanzania.

Sunday – BBC Radio 4
He was my priest and my friend. Then I found out he was a paedophile
Why didn’t the Rosminian order tell us the truth about Fr Kit?
Abused: Breaking the Silence

It was through a web site that victims learnt they had something in common other than being taught by the Catholic Rosminian Order, they had been subjected to child abuse.

They raised it with the head of the order, and unusually for the Catholic Church received an apology, but when they sought legal redress they were told they may have legal grounds but no moral grounds!

The responce of the Church was what it always is. To move the priests on.

the quasi-official Catholic Truth Society published a booklet on clerical sex-abuse that blames it on the “permissive society” of the 1960s.

‘Woodstock defence’ of abuse doesn’t hold water

The Pope when in Croatia had the gall to pontificate on family life. He was the one who in his previous office as head of the Office of the Inquisition covered up the child abuse scandals. Any apology has been like dragging blood out of a stone.

Statistically if you are brought up in a pious religious community lacking in grace, you are more likely to be an abuser and victim of abuse. Where normal sexual behaviour is demonised.

Rob Bell quotes Renee Altson (author of Stumbling Towards Faith) who says she was spiritually abused. Her father raped her whilst reciting the Lord’s Prayer, molested her whist singing hymns. [see Love Wins]

In The Shack, Mack witnesses his drunken father, a church elder, abusing his mother.

In Salt Lake City, Mormons think it their duty if not God-given-right to rape under-age girls to take as a wife.

If human beings are placed in abnormal situations, they behave in abnormal ways.

Some people are asexual, some are celibate by choice. It is when celibacy is an obligation it becomes a problem.

As Paulo Coelho has often said, if the Church treats normal sexual behaviour as a perversion, then sexual behaviour will turn to perversion.

My religious education

But nor should we go to the other extreme. The Lutherian Church in Tanzania requires its priests to be married. The Salvation Army requires its officers to marry within the army.

Jesus took a special interest and delight in children, they had a special place in His heart. His punishment for those who harmed children was to put an anchor around their necks and toss them in the sea.

Pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba

June 15, 2010
Midday Mass in the open air shrine

Midday Mass in the open air shrine

‘The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances.’ — Paulo Coelho

Sunday I found myself on a trip organized by the Knights of Saint Columba. What was I doing here I asked myself?

The Knights of Saint Columba is a fraternal organisation founded in Glasgow in 1919 by Patrick Joseph O’Callaghan and based on its sister organisation in the USA the Knights of Columbus. It is named in honour of Saint Columba, a Christian missionary from Ireland. Membership is limited to Catholic men. The Knights at local level are organised in councils and provinces.

Motto: Charity, Unity and Fraternity.

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic secret society founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1882. If this sounds like the Masons you are spot on. It was founded by Irish-American priest The Venerable Father Michael J McGivney (who is well on the way to sainthood) as a Catholic alternative to the Masons. Catholics at the time, and maybe true today, were barred from joining the Masons (though this begs the question why many prominent Catholics were members of the powerful P2 lodge?). Knights of Columbus has evolved into a very powerful and wealthy, far-right organization. Anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, powerful backers of George W Bush. A propaganda wing for the Catholic Church. In true Catholic fashion it is male only. Jeb Bush is a prominent member. Masons have lodges, Knights of Columbus councils. Like masons they have a fondness for dressing up and a multiplicity of ranks and titles. A group in California calling themselves Californians Against Hate, put the Knights on their Roll of Dishonor. But they do dish out loads of dosh as charitable donations, and were originally established to help poor working class Catholics.

As an aside: The Lost Symbol, the latest novel from Dan Brown, features the Masons and their influence in Washington DC.

I had planned on a day trip to Brighton, so what was I doing on an awayday with the Knights of Saint Columba? It was my lovely friend Sian’s idea. We were on a pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory in Kent, a Carmelite Order.

Not my idea of a pilgrimage. My idea is travelling on foot to a Holy Shrine or some place of spiritual significance. Not a coach trip. This was more like a penance as I hate being cooped up in a coach at the best of times.

My idea of a pilgrimage is what Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho undertook over twenty years ago when he walked the Camino de Santiago, an ancient medieval pilgrims route through the Pyrenees. An account he wrote of in The Pilgrimage and was to lead to the writing of The Alchemist. But then when he undertook the pilgrimage it was a penance for having the arrogance to think he was worthy of a sword, a sword his Master J deemed he was not worthy of at the time.

But here we were, my lovely friend Sian and I, on a coach trip to Aylesford Priory in Kent organized by the Knights of Saint Columba.

We set off in the morning and a couple of uneventful hours later (the coach trip was not as bad as I had expected) we were there. This was no ordinary trip. There was to be a rally of the Knights with a parade in full regalia that afternoon.

An open air mass was held at midday in what is known as the shrine. The mass was presided over by Bishop Howard Tripp. Dotted around the shrine were the banners of the Knights.

Several small chapels lead off from the shrine. Incredible ceramics in the chapels. Behind the shrine a peace garden. Around the periphery of the garden stations of the cross.

At 2-20pm, a public ceremony presided over by the Deputy Supreme Knight where new people were proposed and elevated as knights. This was preceded by a private ceremony in one of the side chapels from which the public were excluded.

At 3-30pm Rosary Procession and Benediction where the Knights and anyone who wishes to join in walk in procession around the peace garden then back to the shrine, presided over by Bishop Howard Tripp and the Prior Father Brendon.

I was very struck by the gold cross with the flaming sun at its centre. What struck me was that this represents the Egyptian Sun God Ra. The cross, apart from being an instrument of torture and execution upon which Jesus and many of his followers were crucified, has its roots in Ancient Egypt. It looked very impressive as it caught the sun’s rays. I would have liked to have looked at it close to but it was covered with a cloth at the end of the Benediction.

It was the birthday of the bishop in two weeks time and everyone joined in wishing him a Happy Birthday. He was also due to celebrate 30 years as a bishop.

A tea-shop and bookshop plus a lovely dining room, where if we had known to book in advance we could have dined in style. The tea-shop and bookshop is housed in a restored 17th century thatched barn.

The Priory is located on the banks of the River Medway.

I have not been on a pilgrimage before. It was a novel experience. I have though many times visited the tomb of Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. Walked part of the Pilgrims Way, immortalized by Chaucer, though most of it is now main highway. Walked parts of the North Downs Way which parallels the Pilgrims Way.

It seemed suitably appropriate to hand to the Prior as a gift for the priory library a copy of The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho.

This was handed to Father Brendon, the Prior, and he said he had read some of Paulo Coelho, an author with whom he was familiar. I recommended that he read the recently published biography of Paulo Coelho, A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a copy of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was left behind. I hope it will be read with an open mind. It was left in good spirit on a wall in the peace garden. I trust it will be received in the same good spirit as it was left.

It could not have been a better day. Sunny, but not too hot.

Special thanks to Sian who invited me along and the knights who took us there.

Aylesford Priory (aka The Friars) is a Carmelite Order dating back to the 13th century. It was founded in 1240 by Ralph Frisburn on his return from the Holy Land. It was the first Carmelite Order to be established in Europe. It was dissolved by Henry VIII, rebuilt during the 1670s, destroyed by fire in the 1930s. The Carmelites took it back in 1949 and began the process of restoration. Aylesford Priory is a retreat and conference centre. Part of the restoration was to build a shrine ‘to bring in pilgrims’. At 250,000 pilgrims a year, a successful marketing ploy. The relics of Saint Simon Stock, the first Superior-General, are enshrined at the Priory.

Aylesford is a village on the River Medway in Kent. The river is crossed by a medieval bridge. The name derives from ‘Ægel’s ford’, an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is of Norman origin.

Also see

Pilgrimage to Aylesford Priory with the Knights of St Columba
Organ recital at St Michael’s Abbey
Nepotism? Not us, say Knights of St Columba

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