…a ten-foot statue of the Emperor Hadrian, just discovered.

The statue features Trajan in full military regalia, including decorated body armor, a short chiton (the Roman equivalent of a Scottish kilt), and a cloth falling from the left soldier*. A bound enemy soldier can be seen cowering behind the victorious Trajan, who strikes a domineering pose with his right arm in the air. The statue was completed in 113 AD, just four years before the emperor’s death.

(*I think that should be shoulder.)



Fair play to Matt Birk, an NFL Superbowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens, who recently snubbed President Obama by declining an invitation to a celebration at the White House.  Birk explains:

“I have great respect for the office of the presidency but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood’.  I’m very confused by [Obama’s] statement,” he explained. “”For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend. I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way.”



Birk, a father of six, has also spoken in defense of marriage here:

“Marriage is in trouble right now — admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions. In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced “I am my brother’s keeper” and “love your neighbor as yourself” with “live and let live” and “if it feels good, go ahead and do it.”

The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution. How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?

Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children — the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.”

Can you imagine how the BBC would react if a high-profile Premiership footballer started laying into the culture of death and moral relativism?!

elephant_in_the_room“Sadly, the teaching of Humanae Vitae about sexual morality and family values has become something of an ‘elephant in the room’ that no-one seems to mention. In this Year of Faith then, I would like to invite everyone to discover again the Church’s wonderful vision of love and life, as expounded in the Catechism.”

The latest Pastoral Letter from the Diocese of Portsmouth.

Is br Paul Coleman. He hath a blog. See that Eucharistic flash mob? That was him, that was.

In the past day, I have seen a remarkable work come about through the agency of this blog that I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit.  One of the wonderful friends I’ve made here, whom I’ve never met in person, responded to my request for prayers for my friend N., the homeless, undocumented immigrant who lives in a shelter in Queens with her four-year-old, by sending me a sizable check to give to her.


Here the blog of the website of the project Pray for Priests.

We are a group of Catholics who pray daily for the priests of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, reciting prayers for our Archbishop, our diocesan priests, and for more vocations.

Our priests work so hard for us. They have dedicated their lives to serving God by serving His faithful, providing the sacraments and ministering to the spiritual needs of the laity. They work unceasingly, often without thanks or recognition for what they do. They need our prayers, and they need the encouragement of knowing they are being prayed for.

A list of all the priests of the diocese, and you sign up to pray for one (or more, I suppose) of them.

I think this is sufficently dead brilliant not to need any commentary.

I was vaguely pondering a post on the review of Oxford’s PPHs [opens as PDF], and the apparent tensions within and about Wycliffe Hall (the very, very Protestant one). However, suddenly news has come through that the Capuchins have decided that Greyfriars Hall is to close at the end of the academic year. I was only ever in Greyfriars once, very briefly, to read a number of a periodical called (I think) The Cord that had an article about, um, something to do with St Clare in it. I understand that the Capuchins do not have the resources (in terms of either personnel or cash) to keep the Hall going for the moment, but this is very sad and seems, it must be said, rather short-sighted – a Catholic PPH at Oxford is no mean thing. Surely there must be some way in which it could be run as a Catholic PPH?

I thought I’d given it to Notburga! (And when it occasionally came to mind was secretly regretting having done so)(that’s a reflection of my covetousness, not of Notburga’s worthiness to receive presents, or indeed of the worth of this supposedly-having-been-made-a-present)

Yes, my two-inch-high glitter snowstorm with a glow-in-the-dark statue-etta of Our Lady of Lourdes (I think) is still with me! At my left forearm, in fact.

Boeciana may recall my glee when I found a few of these going for €2 in the tat shop at the Catacombs of San Callisto in Rome. You see, it’s perfect. Just the right size, price, feels nice in the hand… erm, glows in the dark, glitters in the light. Boeciana will perhaps also recall the short break we took on the grass nearby, where Aelianus and I picnicked a few years previously. The catching-of-bus back to town. The realisation that I had left happy snowstorm in the grass. I recall going back to look for it when B had left for  Brown Sauce Land! 

I don’t know about glow-in-the-dark crucifixes, I used to think “ugh, foulness and dishonour”, but perhaps some people find it comforting to see Our Lord in the dark. Well, as St Ignatius used to say, the golden devotional rule is  “whatever floats your boat”. Though he has been taken a little too literally by some of his spiritual sons and daughters. He didn’t even want any spiritual daughters, apparently.

Ah yes, Rome-visiting tip. If you have not been to St Peter’s before, or you are with someone who hasn’t been, start by going round the side and climbing the dome, and then enter the basilica from the stairs that take you down. Much more dramatic.

In Lublin police arrested a gynaecologist suspected of carrying out an illegal abortion on a 16-year-old girl. The girl was persuaded to have the abortion by her mother, who even found the doctor to carry out the procedure.

 … Bogdan P., 54, invited the patient to a private clinic in the centre of town. He demanded 2,50o zł; the girl’s mother managed to beat him down … “We have charged him with breaking the anti-abortion law. He faces up to three years in prison” says Marek Zych, the deputy rgional prosceutor for Lublin.

The matter came to light when Violetta Z’s boyfriend informed the police. The young man had been going out with the teenager for eight months. With her mother’s agreement he had even moved into their two-bedroom flat on one of the Lublin housing estates. “I loved Violetta, I wanted to marry her” Grzegorz told Dziennik.  At the beginning of October the 23 year old discovered that he was to be a father. He was delighted. He did not foresee that his girlfriend’s mother would decided to get rid fo the child. WHen she heard about her daughter’s pregnancy, she saw only one solution – abortion.

 The pregnancy termination happened last week. The procedure was carried out quickly, Violetta’s mother took her home. A few hours later, torn by remorse, the schoolgirl told her boyfriend what she’d done. “I couldn’t believe it. I’d already got used to the idea of being a father. Suddenly all those plans were in ruins. I couldn’t act otherwise. A tragedy happened, that’s why I went to the police with this”, says the man.

Police interviewed the under-age girl and her mother. The woman told the whole sotry in detail in the first meeting. “She will have to answer charges of persuasion [?better translation?] and aiding an abortion. A conviction could carry three years of imprisonment.” explains sub-comissioner Witold Laskowski of the Lublin police. Immediately afterwards the investigators knocked at the gynaecologist’s door. The medic doesn’t admit guilt, explaining that a mother came with her daughter to his clinic, asking him to remove an intra-uterine device, which was supposedly causing bleeding. His part finished there. Police are not convinced by the explanation.


After the arrest of her mother the girl was taken into emergency care. She is in bad psychological condition. According to her boyfriend, who spoke to her by telephone, she needs professional help quickly. Dr Ireneusz Siudym, psychologist from the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University [in Lublin]. is of the same opinion. “An experience as traumatic as this leaves a mark in a young, still unformed psyche. Therapy is essential. …”

From Dziennik, 16.10.2007

Alex Salmond reckons there should be discussion of making abortion a non-reserved issue. (For non-British (non-Scottish?) readers: ‘reserved’ issues are those on which the Holyrood parliament has no authority; they are reserved to Westminster.) He is a very canny politician, and this is surely a political step. As Aelianus pointed out to me, his assumption is presumably that both pro-choicers and pro-lifers will support the devolution of abortion legislation, in the hope that their influence will prevail upon the Scottish legislation – and thus devolution will creep towards independence. Nonetheless, it seems interesting that he recognises this as a political issue that may attract wide active interest; and it is also interesting that the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday seem rather keen to cover the politics of abortion. Scotland on Sunday had a slightly confused editorial – on which I don’t have time to comment, but I’d only say the obvious stuff that you’re thinking – which ends thus:

Abortion is a subject which always divides opinion, and there will be massive rifts on both political and moral lines. Under the terms of the First Minister’s national conversation, the former should dominate to the near-exclusion of the latter. All we are supposed to be discussing at this stage is whether abortion should be controlled in London or Edinburgh – not the time limits at which it should be available, let alone whether or not terminations should continue to be allowed. There will be time for those practical and moral debates later, either in a Scottish or a UK context, depending on the outcome of the constitutional question.
As far as that question goes, we do not believe there is anything to fear from this new part of Salmond’s conversation. If it does result in control of abortion being devolved to Holyrood then we are sure that Scots can be trusted to come up with a sensible law on this most emotive of subjects. To those who say that we cannot have different abortion laws in Scotland and England, we ask: why not? Let Scotland decide how it wants to live and let England choose to follow or be different. Different laws exist within the states that make up the United States, and within the nations of the European Union.
Of course, with the best will in the world, the moral arguments will cloud the constitutional question. The Roman Catholic Church, for one, will undoubtedly restate the case against all abortions. And there will be understandable fears that the debate will be hijacked by the most vocal elements. But it is to be hoped that the debate will stay calm; everyone must be able to have their say without being drowned out by the extremists.
Forty years after David Steel’s Abortion Act, there is a case for a review of the law, not least because premature babies can now live when delivered at less than 24 weeks; this is also the time limit that was set for most abortions in 1967. But it must be a sensible debate led by medical advice and what society – and particularly women – want. If it is led by religious dogma and moral outrage then it will not be a conversation but an incoherent row. Whether that review happens at Holyrood or Westminster, we are confident that Scots are robust enough to have an intelligent debate on this issue.