Though often regarded as the silly season, this summer has a number of important news stories to keep the press on their toes. The Irish Examiner notes some criticisms of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, for refusing to allow the army to participate in the Eucharistic Congress. A former Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, has accused Shatter of blind prejudice. Some people are trying to rake up a row by reference to Shatter's ethnicity as a Jew (I don't know if he is practicing or lapsed) - that should be a non-runner to start with - if Shatter is prejudiced his religion makes no difference one way or the other. Call him to task and challenge him, but there is no place for sectarianism.
O'Dea says that the refusal may arouse suspicion among people of faith that the Coalition is becoming increasingly hostile towards Catholics. I'm afraid O'Dea is behind the times - many Catholics in Ireland have believed for some time that this government is hostile towards the Catholic faith. Their attempts to strike at the heart of our sacraments may be one indication that, at the end of the day, Catholics in Ireland should be very cautious and not put too much trust in the administration. Our history teaches us time and time again that many a persecution began in similar circumstances.
Mark Shea is predicting a decision from the Holy See's Commission on Medjugorje in November of this year. Shea claims that this is a definite indication that the apparitions will be rejected. Well, that is a conclusion none of us can make, we cannot presume that because a date has been set (no word as of yet from the Holy See confirming this, by the way) that it means the decision is negative. We will just have to wait and see. Andrea Tornelli, always a good source for news from inside the Vatican, has not hinted at a definite date. In an article on the issue he said that the Commission would conclude their work by the end of the year. Tornelli, who has inside information most of the time, said that those on the Commission were impressed by the alleged visionaries - that drove many critics mad and they attacked Tornelli. Medjugorje is a hot topic which divides the young/charismatic wing of the Church from the Traditionalist wing.
And speaking of Traditionalists, I have to say I do not know what is going on in the Society of St Pius X. Are they rejecting the Pope's offer or not? The Internet is ablaze with statements, opinions and confusion. The most recent statement from the SSPXers seems to indicate that they will not accept Vatican II, indeed they seem to say that Vatican II stands in opposition to the Magisterium of the Church. Fr Z has the statement with his usual commentary on his blog which is worth reading. If the SSPX are saying that Vatican II is an erroneous Council, then they have come to the end of the road: if they want to be received back into full communion they must accept the legitimacy of the Council.
The Holy Father has taken serious risks to try and heal the schism with the SSPX: when he lifted the excommunications even good Catholics wondered if he was doing the right thing. We had to trust that he was doing the right thing, and he was - he opened the door to dialogue. However it seems to me, many in the SSPX, and perhaps most, will not return unless it is on their terms. If that is the case, the door may well be closed - not locked and bolted for there is always hope for the future. As Fr Z points out, the Pope may finally conclude that this ongoing discussion is a non runner.
I meant to mention Mark Dooley's latest offering on his blog, concerning gay marriage. This is well worth reading - just because we oppose gay marriage does not mean we are bigots. I see Scotland's cabinet has ruled out a referendum on gay marriage in the country, despite Cardinal Keith O'Brien's call for a vote. I presume they know the vote would be lost - the people would not be behind the measure, as we see in every single vote in the US states.
And here's an interesting story: as terrorists threaten the West, the FBI in the US, has been investigating the pro-life cause and paying a visit to one pro-life activist and threatening him with deportation. And all the while millions of US citizens are being "terminated" in the abortion clinics of the country. It is a world gone mad - kill children and the administration protect us (and pays you), seek to defend them and the administration sends the heavies around to sort you out. Well, people of Ireland, its coming to a parliment hear us soon.