Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bishop Forester to the Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain, February 7, 1977

35. To Archbishop Josef Klushko, Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain, c/o Palazzo delle Congregazioni, Rome.
Monday, February 17th, 1977

Dear Archbishop Klushko,

I am deeply moved to learn that His Holiness should take a personal interest in the state of my health. It is true that I am not expected to live very long but my condition is more inconvenient than painful and my mind is in no way affected.

It is very kind of His Holiness to suggest that I should unburden myself of the care of my diocese. Please assure His Holiness that it the inspiration of his example which gives me the courage to labour in the Lord’s vineyard to the bitter end.

Believe me, my dear Archbishop,
Your Grace’s obedient servant in Dmno,

P.S. To your official letter you were kind enough to add a personal postscript. I follow your example.

You write: “I am sorry to learn that your distinguished and fruitful career as bishop should end on a tragic note of defiance and rebellion.”

“Defiance and rebellion” are not the right words. “Indignant opposition” would be near the mark. My attitude is summed up in Psalm XXXIX:

It was my resolve to live watchfully, and never use my tongue amiss;
Still while I was in the presence of sinners,
I kept my mouth gagged, dumb and patient, impotent for good.
   But indignation came back
And my heart burned within me, the fire kindled by my thoughts.
   So that at last I kept silence no longer.

Yes, indignant I am at the ruin of the Church around me. The Immaculate Spouse had been deserted while her votaries fondle the Harlot of the World. Our altars are gone and sacrifice is banished. No longer do the priests cry “Spare, O Lord, spare thy people.” The child knows no prayers and the youth no doctrine. Young men and virgins are deaf to God’s calling. Old men and widows are bereft of consolation. Who would not be indignant at such desolation?

And all this in little more than a decade. And what does the Administration do about it? With what little authority it has left it hastens the decomposition. It is wreathed in smiles to those who destroy. It accuses of rebellion those who try to preserve. It beats every breast but its own when faced with calamity. Of course I am in opposition.

You know, my dear Archbishop, I fully accept that Holy Church is the guarantor of the Faith. God will honour His Spouse’s cheques no matter how badly written or misspelt. Thus the new rites of the Sacraments are valid, although one and all lamentable productions. They remain cheques drawn by the Church on God’s inexhaustible account, in spite of the smudges and blots.

But the Church is not only the guarantor of the Faith, she is also Faith’s guardian, and guardian of the faithful. It is in these fields that the present Administration has such a bad record. Has the Faith been guarded? Yes, twice in words: Humanae Vitae and the Credo of the People of God. But by deeds? What heresy has been condemned? Which heretic excommunicated? Why have sound catechisms been withdrawn and unsound ones propagated? How is it that any Eucharist is permitted and alone the Immemorial Mass excluded? One could go on indefinitely.

As for the wretched faithful, far from being protected, they have been trampled under foot. Their faith has been derided as totem-worship, their religious practice as tribal custom, their devotions as superstition, their innermost convictions as sentimentality. Only one item in their religion remains unchanged: the collection is still passed round.

It is not unlikely that in your career as a diplomat you have never had cure of souls. If you had, you might be prepared to take more seriously the Church’s role as guardian of the faithful. You would not have allowed God’s little ones to be scandalized as they have been. It is for God’s sake and theirs, not mine, that

I remain,
       In indignant opposition,

— Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, pp. 137–139.