✣ Highlights from the week online
How St Joan of Arc inspired Mark Twain
At America magazine, Ted Gioia explored Mark Twain’s unlikely devotion to St Joan of Arc. The Presbyterian author admitted he had been taught “enmity toward everything that is Catholic”, and yet in his novel Recollections of Joan of Arc his devotion to the saint “jumps off every page”.
Gioia said that, while Twain thought it his best work, critics disagree, seeing it as an “eccentricity of an ageing author”. This is an oversight, argued Gioia. The story, of a 17-year-old taking command of an army, is riveting. The book is filled with a “swashbuckling energy and an against-all-odds heroism”. Twain’s Joan, wrote Gioia, is “closer in spirit to Wonder Woman and Lara Croft than to Tom and Huck”. The novel, Gioia added, is far from outdated. The real surprise, he wrote, is that so few give it a chance.
The hidden history of Japan’s new cardinal
Japan’s new cardinal is a descendant of “hidden Christians” of the feudal era, according to Takumi Okada, writing for Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper. Archbishop Manyo Maeda comes from the Goto islands, where Catholics were sheltered during centuries of persecution. His great-grandfather, according to Okada, was a “hidden Christian”. (The ban on Christians was lifted in the 19th century.)
The cardinal-designate is also closely associated with the peace movement, wrote Okada. This commitment, he said, was born out of his mother suffering the effects of the atomic bomb at Nagasaki. Exposed to the “blinding flash and heat rays” from the blast, she was “plagued by swollen feet and fingers that fused together”.
The war hero who taught lepers to sing
Harry Mount, writing for the Daily Mail, asked if John Bradburne might be England’s next saint. The ex-public schoolboy, who was shot dead by Zanu-PF guerrillas during the Rhodesian civil war, “didn’t just look like Jesus … he also gave his life for others”, Mount wrote.
The son of an Anglican rector, Bradburne served in World War II – for his bravery he was recommended for the Military Cross – and converted to Catholicism in 1947. He had aspirations of becoming a monk, but no monastery accepted him, so he travelled for 16 years, working as a teacher, forester and stoker on a steam ship. He found his calling in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, becoming a warden in the Mutemwa colony. The lepers there were treated as outcasts, but “Bradburne prayed with them, drank with them and slept alongside them.
He bathed their wounds, cut their nails, shooed away the rats that hounded the colony and, when [the lepers] died, buried them with dignity.”He wrote each leper a poem and “taught them to sing Gregorian plainchant in Latin”.
“Even today, the colony plays his music, beaten out on drums by lepers with no hands,” wrote Mount. “And every year, tens of thousands of people turn up at the colony for Bradburne’s memorial Mass.” Bradburne’s niece, Celia Brigstocke, is seeking to raise funds to open his Cause.
✣ A statue of Jesus is to be removed from a Baptist church in South Carolina because it is deemed to be too Catholic. The 7ft sculpture has been on display outside the Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington for a decade. It is accompanied by reliefs depicting scenes from Christ’s life.
But Pastor Jeff Wright said the statue and reliefs would be removed. In a letter to the artist, Delbert Baker Jr, he wrote: “We have discovered that there are people that view the art as Catholic in nature.” He said the artworks brought into question “the theology and core values” of the Baptist church. A friend of the artist posted the letter on Facebook, according to Associated Press.
✣ The sitcom Father Ted is to return as a musical – in which Father Ted becomes Pope Ted. The show, entitled Pope Ted: The Father Ted Musical, is “almost written”, according to Graham Linehan, its co-creator. He said it was the story of the “least qualified man in the world becoming pope”.
He told the BBC: “When Trump won and Corbyn won [the Labour leadership] I kind of thought, ‘Maybe Ted has a chance.’ I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. “Obviously we’re pulling some shenanigans to get him into that position.”
✣ The week in quotations
It is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love
Pope Francis on the Eucharist
Corpus Christi homily
The document has not matured enough
Archbishop Ladaria, CDF head, says the German guidelines on Communion should not be published
Letter to bishops involved in the debate
There is a clear agenda to Islamise the … Middle Belt of Nigeria
Statement to ACN
We want to fall in love with Him anew
Bishop O’Toole on time in Adoration
✣ Statistic of the week
The proportion of cardinal electors from Europe, down from 52% five years ago