A Dying Tradition?

That of the Parish Magazine… The Telegraph reports:

The first edition of the Haworth Church Notice from 1899 and the very last edition

Church leaders fear the writing is on the wall for traditional church magazines after one of the oldest in the country closes after more than 100   years.

For more than 150 years, England’s parish rags were first port of call for anyone wanting the latest gossip or date of the next WI meeting.

But now they are falling victim to the digital age and one of the oldest, the parish magazine at the Brontes former home of Haworth, West Yorkshire, flourished in the aftermath of the sisters’ literary legacy, is to close…

Experts fear less than five years after the Church of England celebrated 150 years of church magazines many as we know them are on the verge of extinction.

Those not replaced by websites are being rebranded as glossy quarterly magazines, minus most of the traditional content.

It seems the fortunes of the vicar’s cricket team, the letter from the Rector, and dates of the next church outing are no longer the compulsory reading they once were.

Bishop of Bradford Rt Rev Nick Baines, one of the guiding lights of Church of England communications, said: “The whole media world has changed.

“People look at a church on the Internet not wandering around buildings.

“If we are trying to communicate more widely there are other more imaginative cost effective ways of doing it. “What we should not be is slaves to nostalgia and see if there is a better way of doing things.

“The other thing is you have to have the people to produce a church magazine which can be a problem these days”…

Rest here.

Sad, but true.



Thieves Steal Pope John Paul’s Blood

UPDATE:  Arrests have been made – but no recovery as yet.

Undated handout photo of a reliquary with the blood of Blessed John Paul II


Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II, a custodian said on Monday.

Dozens of police with sniffer dogs scoured the remote area for clues to what the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana called “a sacrilegious theft that was probably commissioned by someone”.

Franca Corrieri told Reuters she had discovered a broken window early on Sunday morning and had called the police. When they entered the small stone church they found the gold reliquary and a crucifix missing.

John Paul, who died in 2005, loved the mountains in the Abruzzo region. He would sometimes slip away from the Vatican secretly to hike or ski there and pray in the church.

Polish-born John Paul, who reigned for 27 years, is due to be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in May, meaning the relic will become more noteworthy and valuable.

In 2011, John Paul’s former private secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, now archbishop of Krakow in Poland, gave the local Abruzzo community some of the late pontiff’s blood as a token of the love he had felt for the mountainous area.

It was put in a gold and glass circular case and kept in a niche of the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila.

Corrieri, who is part of an association that looks after the small church, said the incident felt more like a “kidnapping” than a theft. “In a sense, a person has been stolen,” she said by telephone.

She said she could not say if the intention of the thieves may have been to seek a ransom for the blood.

Apart from the reliquary and a crucifix, nothing else was stolen from the isolated church, even though Corrieri said the thieves would probably have had time to take other objects during the night-time theft.

Some of John Paul’s blood was saved after an assassination attempt that nearly killed him in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.



Pope’s Doves Mauled

Viciously by a gull and a crow. This must be some sort of a sign.

The two doves were set upon straight after being released by children standing next to Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Two white doves released by children as a peace gesture from a window of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s official residence in the Vatican, have been attacked by other birds – for the second year running.

With tens of thousands of people watching on Sunday the boy and girl, standing alongside Pope Francis, let the doves go over St Peter’s Square to conclude the Vatican’s annual “Caravan of Peace” event.

But straight after they were release, a seagull and a large black crow swept down and set upon the doves.

One dove managed to break free from the gull, losing feathers in the process, while the crow repeatedly pecked at the other dove.

It was not clear how badly injured the doves were as the birds eventually flew off.

The almost exact same thing happened last year at the same event, which is always held on the last Sunday of January, when a single gull attacked the released birds. Then, after being released, the two doves turned round and flew back at the palace.

Peace doves attacked

Peace doves attacked

Peace doves attacked

UPDATE I:  National Geographic has a look at what could have prompted the attack.

UPDATE II: Fr Dwight Longenecker who was there writes:

 was in St Peter’s Square yesterday for the Angelus and witnessed the children releasing doves from the window of the Apostolic Palace with Pope Francis.

Everyone gasped as a crow and a seagull swooped in to attack the pope’s doves. The Guardian has the story here.

Was this an omen? Here is one interpretation: The black crow reminded me of the raven in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem The Raven. The raven is a symbol of darkness, death and sin. A carrion bird of doom, the black crow represents the attack of Satan, sin and death on the white birds of hope and innocence released by the white clad vicar of Christ and two children.

What about the seagull? Do you remember the seagull that perched ominously on the chimney the day Pope Francis was elected? Seagulls are horrible birds. Scavengers with a loud cry like a crow’s, they are aggressive, territorial and greedy. The seagull reminded me of another poem: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In this poem a sailor kills an albatross and the sailors–lost at sea–hang the albatross around his neck as they are becalmed and one by one descend into starvation and death. The albatross is therefore a symbol of sin and guilt.

So what was the sign in St Peter’s Square yesterday? The Holy Father releasing into the world the symbols of peace and forgiveness–releasing into the world the signs of the gospel of God, the symbol of the Holy Spirit–the white dove. But the dove is attacked by the forces of Satan–the powers of darkness, death and destruction and also attacked by the power of sin and guilt.

I’m happy to say that both doves escaped.