The world’s most splendid arrangement

Tomorrow David Johnston will be installed as Canada’s 28th governor-general. Few will take notice of the ceremony and, barring a constitutional crisis, it will be the high point of his presence in the Canadian public mind. The Canadian genius in statecraft will be vindicated once again.

There is no doubt that having Canada’s head of state resident in London is anomalous and hard to argue for in principle. Yet in practice it is the world’s most splendid arrangement, especially with Queen Elizabeth II now gloriously reigning. The arrangement is so advantageous that its merits will still be evident even when the present heir apparent, manifestly lacking his mother’s sterling qualities, ascends to the throne. Continue reading

He came so Britons might hear the Gospel

LONDON, ENGLAND – As per usual, it went better than expected. For veterans of papal travel, the routine is now well known. In advance of one of Pope Benedict’s trips, there is much wringing of hands about how badly things will go, how difficult things will be, how hostile a particular country is. Then the Pope arrives with his shy gestures and kindly manners, no one is frightened and everything is pronounced a success. Continue reading

Above all, holiness

LONDON — Before Pope Benedict arrived here a week ago, the probability of failure, or even embarrassment, had been predicted (and desired) by many commentators for months. By the time he returned to Rome late Sunday night, his visit was proclaimed a triumph by all but those who harbour a special hatred for the Catholic Church — of which there are not a few in this country. As Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, put it, “He came; he saw; he conquered.” Continue reading

The Straight Lines of Providence

The homily from the Mass for the twentieth anniversary of the reception into the Catholic Church of Richard John Neuhaus, September 8, 2010.

The genealogy of Jesus Christ is something of a homiletic challenge. But Saint Matthew recorded it, and so the Church presents it to us, though not often. We find it, appropriately enough, on this feast of the nativity of Our Lady, and also as the gospel for the vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord. (In my first years as a priest, I used the genealogy for that early evening Mass on Christmas Eve; no matter how liturgically correct it was, Jehoshaphat begat Joram is not what that congregation was looking for…) Continue reading

Britain makes room for Benedict

– in Birmingham, England –

On a drizzly, dreary English morning, Pope Benedict XVI did what he came to do — declare the brightest light of English Catholicism “blessed.” The beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman — long desired throughout the English-speaking Catholic world — is the Church’s formal declaration that he is in heaven, and a suitable intercessor for public worship.

The elevation of Newman to the honour of the altars capped a successful visit to Britain — a surprise to those anxious after months of hostile criticism. Benedict’s gentle shyness and exquisite good manners endeared him to the British people, even as he presented them with a clear challenge about the danger of driving faith out of their public life. Continue reading