Post by Admin on Dec 29, 2019 16:37:50 GMT
Short Biographies: Father Paul Crane
Jesuit priest who was fierce in his defence of traditional Catholic values.
Fr. Paul Robert Crane S.J. was born in Kensington on June 24, 1910. He was educated at the Jesuit College in Seattle and at Wimbledon College in south London before joining the Society of Jesus in 1928. He studied at Roehampton and Heythrop, Oxfordshire, and then took a degree in Economics. In 1943 was ordained a priest.
The next year he joined the Catholic Social Guild and in 1952 became its general secretary as well as editor of the Christian Democrat, which he at first ran from Oxford. He increased its circulation from 4,000 to 12,000.
He used both the Guild and its journal to expound Roman Catholic social teaching, and condemned the defects of capitalism and socialism with equal firmness.
During 1947 Fr. Crane lectured in the United States on social affairs, the first of a series of lecture tours all over the world which he made in the following four decades.
In 1960 Fr. Crane founded both Christian Order and Claver House, near Victoria Station in London. The object of Claver House was to provide an intensive one-year course in Catholic social teaching for students from the Third World, principally from Africa, with the emphasis upon self-reliance rather than overseas aid.
The course was far from theoretical, and included practical information on such topics as setting up credit unions. Nothing comparable to Claver House existed in the English-speaking world, and its students invariably made an impact on returning to their countries, a number of them rising to ministerial rank.
Paul Crane, who died aged 86, refused as a Jesuit priest to conform to fashionable progressivism in the Roman Catholic Church, but ploughed a lone furrow, chiefly through Christian Order , the journal he founded.
To some he seemed to exemplify the spirit of the English Jesuits - D'Arcy, Corbishley or Martindale - who gave their order prestige before the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
As the years passed, Christian Order became increasingly concerned with Fr. Crane's serious doubts about the pastoral benefits of the council. His impression was that every aspect of Catholic life which was subject to statistical verification was in decline.
He identified three chief enemies: changes in the liturgy, bad religious instruction in Catholic schools, and what he termed false ecumenism.
In 1974 he published in Christian Order a series of three articles entitled "The Old Mass." Of the liturgical changes Father wrote: "I accepted them without understanding them, out of loyalty to the Holy See. I imagine it was the same with a good many other priests." His attitude soon changed and he came to believe that the liturgical reform was the greatest disaster to be inflicted upon the Catholic people of the English-speaking world since the Reformation.
"The New Mass has not succeeded in a single one of its objectives, which appear to have been to stem the leakage, bring back lapsed, and indeed draw converts into the Church," he wrote.
But it was of religious education in Catholic schools that Paul wrote with the perception of an Old Testament prophet. He reserved particular anger for syllabuses that gave more space to non-Christian religions than to Christianity.
It was a cause of great sorrow to him when in 1989 the Jesuits decided to close down Claver House. His friends urged him to make public what had gone on behind the scenes, but his Jesuit training precluded public criticism of his superiors.
The third object of Fr. Crane's ire was what he termed false ecumenism, in which essential elements of the Catholic faith were minimised in the interests of a spurious unity. Christian Order took the lead in denouncing the activities of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, which had drawn up a joint statement on the priesthood and the Eucharist. Some of Crane's criticisms seemed to be vindicated when in 1993 the Vatican rejected the final Arcic report.
Fr. Crane had no sympathy for those who, while claiming to be Catholic and being paid to teach in Catholic institutes of higher education, did not hesitate to contradict fundamental Catholic doctrines.
At the time when Fr. Hans Kung was under investigation, Paul Crane demanded the Swiss theologian's excommunication. "The time has come,' he wrote, "for the chop." The chop did come, though not quite to the extent of excommunication.
It was not surprising that Fr. Paul Crane S.J. should have been accused of being negative. His defence was that "Christian Order was indeed negative in the sense that it opposed those inside and outside the Church who were attacking its doctrine and authority. Far from feeling shame at being negative in this sense, I am proud of it."
Fr. Crane was not a dour man, for all the woes he detected in ecclesiastical affairs. He was a smiling and amiable host, and for the last six years of his life he lived at Catford south London. His position was increasingly out on a limb, but it was with a wry humour that he would recount the verdict of many of his fellow Jesuits: "poor old Paul."
Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine on him, may he rest in peace.
Specially recommended: Christian Order Magazine