Some Catholics have winter of discontent over king’s burial

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — In one of the most fascinating archaeological finds in recent times, a skeleton found under a parking lot in the central English city of Leicester has been confirmed by DNA tests as that to King Richard III, the monarch depicted by William Shakespeare as a devious hunchback uttering the memorable line: “Now is the winter of our discontent ….”

DNA tests proved bones found in an English parking garage were those of King Richard III. (CNS photo/Reuters)

DNA tests proved bones found in an English parking garage were those of King Richard III. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Richard was slain during the Battle of Bosworth Field Aug. 22, 1485, and his body was given a prompt burial under a Franciscan friary, which was later suppressed and demolished.

Bosworth had the effect of bringing the War of the Roses to a close, ending a long conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York and ushering in a new era because it also brought the victor to the English throne as Henry VII, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Plans are afoot to bury the remains of Richard in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, and these have been met with indignation by some Catholics who believe that, because Richard was a Catholic (all of England was in the 15th century), he should be buried in a Catholic church using Catholic rites.

An e-petition has now been lodged on the British government website, a facility to allow the public to raise matters of concern. The petition points out that Richard was never a member of the Church of England and claims that the Anglican Church was an invention of the son of the “man responsible for his death and ignominious burial.”

A reconstruction of how the king would have looked. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A reconstruction of how the king would have looked. (CNS photo/Reuters)

This claim, however, is historically inaccurate. King Henry VIII did not create the Church of England but took the Catholic Church in England into schism: He would happily persecute both Catholics who asserted papal primacy and Protestants who denied the Real Presence. The Church of England, as it continues to exist, was created by his second daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, in the settlement originating from1558.

Richard was probably a double child-killer, responsible for the murders of Princes Edward and Richard, the rightful heirs to the throne, and burying their bodies under the steps of the White Tower, the central keep of the Tower of London.

And that’s why many Catholics feel that Anglicans are more than welcome to Richard’s remains.

Tag, you’re it, the extreme way

The Wall Street Journal had a great story last week about an unconventional game of tag that a group of friends from Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash., have been playing since they were in high school, and revived in an extreme way a few years after they graduated in 1983.

Each February the game is revived and whoever is “it” at the end of the month remains “it” for the rest of the year. As the men’s careers have taken them away from Washington, they’ve gone to sometimes extraordinary measures to make sure someone else is “it” when the clock runs out.

Over the years, some of the players fanned out around the country—which curbed the action but raised the stakes. At one point, Chris Ammann was living in Boston. So Mr. Konesky dipped into his frequent-flier miles and crossed the country on the last weekend of the month. He spent the next two days in the bushes outside Mr. Ammann’s apartment, sitting in his friend’s favorite bar or driving up and down his street. Mr. Ammann never showed. Mr. Konesky was “it” for the year.

“I felt bad,” says Mr. Ammann, who went out of town for the weekend. “I think I would have sacrificed getting tagged to spend some time with him.”

Having the resources of successful middle-aged men means wives, co-workers and vacation plans are involved in the annual quest to avoid getting tagged. One team member, a priest now living in Helena, Mont., faces special challenges:

Mr. Konesky, a tech-company manager, is now “it” again and has had 11 months to stew. With February approaching, he has been batting around a few plans of attack. He says he likes to go after people who haven’t been “it” for a while. That includes Father Raftis, who has been harder to reach since he moved to Montana but who, as several players pointed out, is a sitting duck on Sundays.

“Once I step foot outside the rectory, all bets are off,” the priest says. “I have to be a little more careful.”

Perhaps Father Sean Raftis will be spending an unusual amount of time — on an unpredictable schedule — at his parish’s missions this month.