Happened to Easter?
7 July 2010
During this past Lent
and Easter season, Catholics who sought any sign of respect for
Christ and His Church in the culture at large did so in vain. No
positive image could be found, only smears and insults. To be sure,
we saw features on TV that extolled the virtues of Buddha and Anne
Frank, but none to honor the monastic or literary legacy of any
Catholic saint or martyr. Except as a rare bit in a travelogue,
this part of our heritage is never mentioned in the media; instead
clerical sex scandals pervade the news. As for how and why these
came to be and who was truly responsible, no one really says.
Despite the unsavory details, no factual basis of any depth is ever
provided for the overall spin. As for the timing, it seems just too
coincidental that it all should erupt in time to cast a cloud over
the holiest Catholic feast of the year.
Thus the PBS NewsHour
for April 19 shows some Denver area Catholics, all Novus Ordo,
reacting to the scandals. First up is Gwyn Green, a 70ish cradle
Catholic who an internet search reveals formerly served as a
representative in the Colorado legislature. A St. Mary’s of Notre
Dame graduate, she also attended Mass regularly until she got fed up
with the clerical sex abuses. Now she insists the hierarchy
deliberately covered these up, and that the pope was personally
involved. So she feels “betrayed,” like an “exile.”
Don’t we all?
But does she search
for answers to the dilemma within the framework of her childhood
faith? No, she has gone over to the Episcopalians. On the air she is
seen reading aloud from scripture to a congregation of theirs during
a service. Considering how closely this resembles the Novus Ordo
“mass”, it’s not surprising in a way, though it makes us wonder what
she learned back there at St. Mary’s. Did they dare to teach
students in her day, for instance, how Thomas Cranmer and his ilk
gutted the Mass for the so-called “reformation” of the English
church? The changes, of course, anticipated those of the 1960s,
which Gwyn Green apparently has accepted, unwittingly or not.
As for the Anglican
Communion to which Episcopalians belong, considering its unsavory
roots, how could any woman who objects to sex scandals in the church
embrace that? Only recently, Rowan Williams, “Archbishop” of
Canterbury, actually stated in a sermon that Henry VIII might be
roasting in hell because of his sins! While his focus was on
Henry’s part in the martyrdom of monks in his realm, the king,
needless to say, erred in other ways as well. In addition to
his six so-called “wives,” for instance, he is reported to have had
illicit relations with Lady Elizabeth Boleyn, and her daughter
Mary, years before pursuing Anne, who was daughter to one, younger
sister to the other. Before the latter’s royal wedding, Archbishop Cranmer,
defying the pope, annulled Henry’s marriage to Queen Catherine, the
excuse for this being her prior marriage to his brother, i.e.
“affinity”. It did not
matter to those in charge that Catherine had attested under oath
that her relationship with the sickly young Prince Arthur had never
Then, but a few years later, the same archbishop declared Henry’s marriage to Anne to be null and
void. While the reason for this was not made public, some say it
too was one of “affinity,” this time involving the king’s prior
relationship with Anne’s sister Mary. How ironic! While Catherine
had outlived her annulment a few years, however, not so poor Anne.
The new non-queen was immediately beheaded — a cruel end, to be
sure. Even if she had, as officials claimed, sinned with four other
men, including her own brother, we must ask why Anne had to die for
the crime of adultery when, for whatever reason, she never was
actually married to Henry.
But was he instead
her real father?
Wild as it sounds,
the story is out there, recorded in a book by 16th century English
priest and scholar Nicholas Sander, who claimed that Henry’s affair
with Elizabeth Boleyn had born fruit in the person of Anne herself,
that she was actually the king’s own daughter! Considering how such
a tale would tend to undermine the credibility of future offspring
–– and, indeed, the very foundations of the English state and
Church, the latter of which Henry established and his younger — or
youngest –– daughter eventually took over –– it’s not surprising to
hear that Sander died during the spring of 1581 while on the run
from British troops in Ireland. There, with papal support, he had
aided and abetted the Catholic resistance to Protestant rule. His
original book written in Latin was suppressed, but an English
translation was published in 1877, and a TAN paperback edition of
this still circulates.
Most anglophiles, of
course, ignore or pooh-pooh the tale, but not all. Some summers ago,
while listening to Hugh Scully introduce a segment of Antiques
Roadshow UK, I was certain that I heard him allude to a palace,
probably Hampton Court, where Henry VIII had met with “his daughter
Anne Boleyn.” Since I was on the far side of a large room, I
immediately ran up to ask two of my school-aged children, sitting in
front of the TV, what they had heard, and their reports reinforced
mine. It is true that all of us heard, and remembered, the
line by itself out of context and therefore assumed the word “his”
referred to Henry himself. If another name was mentioned, we
did not hear it. I myself wondered if the Brits had done DNA
tests, though how and why the host of an establishment program could
get away with such a glitch, deliberate or otherwise, remains a
As for Gwyn Green,
her case is illuminating because it illustrates how the sex
scandals, like other new developments since Vatican II, have
succeeded, where centuries of persecution failed, in sending droves
of Catholics over to Protestantism. But it can work both ways, for,
many members of the communion Gwyn Green has just joined have in the
meantime been seeking refuge from related concerns in Anglicanism by
embracing the Novus Ordo!
A closer look throws
some light on the situation. Back in Henry’s day the basic problem
was heterosexual; now, as even Cardinal Bertone, Benedict’s second
in command, admits, it is homosexual. Other commentators like Pat
Buchanan and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League tend to agree. A
string of writers from the late Fr. Enrique Rueda to Randel Engel
and Michael Rose have written books on the subject. Various forms
of vice, mostly involving pederasty, not pedophilia, are rampant in
many circles, clerical and otherwise, Catholic and Non-Catholic.
Let us also note a
fine distinction between Anglican and Catholic modes of handling the
problem. Whereas the Vatican, which also still forbids the
ordination of women, technically frowns upon overt homosexual
activity, Episcopalians have allowed both women clerics and the
appointment of openly “gay” bishops, at least one male and one
female. For some staid Anglican types, the sight of an avowed
lesbian in a mitre, with or without a cheesy grin, is just too much.
Charmed by Ratzinger’s assurances that they can keep their own
so-called traditions, heretical though these may be, as part of a
new corporate entity within a larger fold, they have abandoned
theirs for his.
But is there really much of a difference between the two?
Copyright by Judith M.