20 March 2019

CENSORSHIP: Postscriptum

Some thoughts about points of reference in an atmosphere of intimidation.

(1) Cardinal Mueller continues to make lively and relevant comments. These include doctrinal matters (for example, his Profession of Faith)  but also frank comments on matters which are not doctrinal or are not solely doctrinal. For example: the poor quality and theological illiteracy of many who are currently being promoted in and to the Episcopate; the true status of Episcopal Conferences and their chairmen and their bureaucracies ...

His Eminence signed his Profession with the information about his tenure of the position of Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This implied a guarantee of the authenticity of his teaching.

I do not see how lesser people could be criticised, still less disciplined, if their remarks are in line with Mueller's and Mueller has himself not been condemned.

(2) Watch the CDF and its current prefect Cardinal Ladaria. Not long ago, after PF made some particularly silly remarks about Gnosticism and Pelagianism, the CDF put out a very sensible statement on those heresies. While not criticising PF by name, it was clearly a put-down ... er ... clarification. The situation, of course, may change, particularly when His Eminence retires and if he is replaced by someone like the Graf von Schoenborn or even 'Tucho' 'Kiss me quickly!' Fernandez.

(3) It appears that Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonised this year. It would hardly be elegant for anybody to be leaned on for subscribing to his views, or, indeed, to the example he set by how he referred to Pio Nono and Cardinal Manning and the other ultrasuperhyperueberpapalist extremists of his own time. I have found the 1870 volume of his letters to be endless fun!

(4) PF himself still calls for Parrhesia. While it is contextually clear that what he means by this is "If you agree with me, say so loudly and often!", it can be rhetorically amusing to turn his own repeated topos against him.

(5) Mgr Knox's preface to his own collected Essays in Satire is a fine account of the importance of demonstrating how naked Emperors commonly are.

(6) Do not forget Canon 212, especially the admirable sense and fine balance of its third paragraph.

Again ....

The reason why some submitted comments have not been enabled is that I do not enable comments which say or suggest that our Holy Father Pope Francis is not Pope.

19 March 2019

Te Ioseph ...

Naturally you want to know all about the hymn Te Ioseph celebrent agmina caelitum, found in the Breviary Office of S Joseph.

The lyric metre is (what Nisbett and Hubbard classified as) the "Second Asclepiad". It was used in Greek by the early Lesbian lyric poet Alcaeus, but the form we find in the Breviary is that standardised by Horace in Latin. Each stanza consists of three 'minor Asclepiads' followed by a 'Glyconic'.

Unlike the Sapphic metre (also of Lesbian origin), this metre did not attain the same enormous popularity among Christian hymnographers, although those of you who use the Liturgia Horarum will find, if you turn to S Jerome on the 30th of September, a modern hymn in this metre probably written by Dom Anselmo Lentini. He explained that this was the only metre in which S Jerome's name could be metrically included!! Whether you deem the name to be, with five syllables, Hi-er-on-ym-um, or with four syllables, Je-ro-ny-mum, you can fit it in after laude. Geddit?

What a lot of trouble Dom Anselmo and his coetus did go to in order to fulfil the Conciliar mandate with regard to the Hymnology of the Office ... little knowing that in half a decade the recitation of the Office in Latin would, to all intents and purposes, have disappeared ... disappeared despite the explicit mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium that the use of Latin by clerics in the Office should be maintained. What a corrupt decade that was. Whenever I hear the mendacious, the lying, claim that the liturgical "reforms" did what the Council had ordered, it makes me want to kick people.

However, one should not go around kicking poor deceived deluded people who have been taught a pack of diabolical lies by others far wickeder than themselves. So back to S Joseph ...

Te Ioseph  was written by a Carmelite, John Escallar a Conceptione, about whom I only know that he died in 1700. In other words, this composition is the fruit of the classicising Counter-Reformation. An exquisitely elegant fruit.

One oddity. The line Post mortem reliquos sors pia consecrat. Lentini explained that the original text was Post mortem reliquos mors pia consecrat. Others deserve their rewards after their deaths, because of the sanctity of their deaths. But S Joseph got his goodies during his earthy life as he guarded the Holy Family. Dom Anselmo explains that the original line won't do, because it contains a certain word-play, mortem ... mors, acceptable in that century but unpopular (invisus) nowadays.

Oh dear ...

18 March 2019

Censorship ... Bergoglianity is at work on it ...

I here republish an old post with its original thread, from 29 October 2018. When one ventures upon prophecies, it is always interesting to know if they are fulfilled! So it would be kind if readers were to let me know of any signs that I was right in the apprehensions which I voiced! I will read and then delete comments which their authors preface with NOT FOR PUBLICATION. I quite appreciate that people have good reasons for not exposing themselves to persecution by the Ministers of Mercy who patrol the Bergoglian Church.

I will add a few further thoughts the day after tomorrow.

In the chaos of the 1960s, one notable casualty was the Church's system of the censorship of books. This disappearance was, I think, inevitable; in that febrile and aggressive atmosphere, it is inconceivable that the process of waiting for a diocesan Censor Librorum to read a book and make his comments, then for him to negotiate with an author about his/her ambiguities, and to agree a text ... then for the Ordinary or his VG to issue the imprimatur ... it is inconceivable that such a system could have survived. Then add Humanae Vitae and the spate of dissenting books and articles which would have needed to be refused the Nihil obstat ...

There was undoubtedly rejoicing at the disappearance of the pre-modern apparatus of censorship; predictably, especially among 'liberals'.

Clandestinely, this development led to a new and only semi-visible form of censorship. The dominance of certain 'schools' in Academe, especially in subjects such as Liturgy, Biblical Studies, and Moral Theology, made it increasingly difficult to secure publication of ideas which defended or explicated Tradition.

Although the boot was invisible ... it was now on the other foot.

But now comes the paradox. The disappearance of Censorship preceded, at a polite distance, the emergence of the Internet. And in our own age it has become very difficult for anybody to monitor, let alone to control, the myriad ideas and opinions which can flicker across the World's computers. And, among all this material, orthodox and traditional statements and ideas have as free an access as everything else to the many fora of discussion. I very much doubt if the examination and critical assessment of this pontificate would have been as open and free as it has been, had the Internet not existed.

But now ... Synod 2018 Paragraph 146.

"The Synod hopes that in the Church appropriate official bodies for digital culture and evangelisation are established at appropriate levels ... Among their functions ... [could be] certification systems of Catholic sites, to counter the spread of fake news ..."

I very much dislike the look of this. It is no secret that some members of the CBCEW were, for years, very nervous about bloggers and especially clerical bloggers. The disgraceful episcopal suppression of one famous diaconal blog became quite a cause celebre. Management had lost a significant control. It is only a year or two since my friend Fr Ray Blake bravely put on the public record that he had found tanks parked on his lawn: tanks in the shape of his Bishop passing on the cheerful news that "The Cardinal doesn't like ...".

We seem to have come a long way from those broad sunlit uplands when Benedict XVI (remember him? The 'Rat', the 'Inquisitor', the 'Panzer Cardinal'? Yes, that one) encouraged blogging, and especially clerical bloggers. Now, the era of the boors and the bullies.

Shall we, in a few years' time, discover that we have Diocesan, National, and Worldwide systems for closing down free discussion in the Church? After all, the Synod will have "called for it", won't it?

"Synodality" sounds so democratic, modern, open and free. What's not to like? And this Synod has concluded with the usual flurry of synthetic Bergoglian rhetoric about the Holy Spirit. In such liberated and happy times, don't you need to be paranoid to be suspicious?

Don't you believe it. Bullies are bullies are bullies.

17 March 2019

The Emerald Isle

Q What should the Irish do on S Patrick's Day?
A Wake up from their hiberniation.

The first S Patrick's Day since the Enemy promised to the Irish people, as he did to Tinidril on Perelandra, "I have come that you might have Death, and have it in abundance."

I think Cardinal Sarah should revoke the indult that allows the dioceses of Ireland to celebrate S Patrick even on a Sunday in Lent.

16 March 2019

"The worst pope ever"?

So a correspondent wrote on one of my threads. It set me thinking.

I am convinced that PF is most certainly not the worst man ever to have been pope. OK; he has a short temper; he turns easily to abuse; he has either a very bad memory or a tendency to lie. But even striking characteristics like his propensity to accuse people of shit-eating betoken, probably, nothing more than a cultural back-ground a trifle different from our own. We middle-class British are so much more circumlocutory in our put-downs of those we dislike. "My dear fellow, with the utmost respect I'm not entirely sure that I completely agree with you" may be every bit as aggressively focussed as "You coprophagist!". We must be humble enough to be open to semantic diversity.

Anybody who seriously thinks that PF is the worst man ever to have been pope should probably read rather more Church History. I do not only have in mind the 'Marozia' popes of the period called the Pornocracy; I would also nominate Urban VI, who precipitated the Western Schism by his 'harshness and violence'; and Paul IV Caraffa, 'of ferocious character', whose malevolent hostility towards the English Catholic Church during the reign of Queen Mary made it so much easier for Elizabeth Tudor to reintroduce the Reformation to my country.

What might, much more plausibly, be argued is that PF is the worst pope in the single sense that the papal office has drastically changed under the influence of modernity, in a world of instant communications and rapid reporting and the possibility of minute-by-minute micromanagement. So this Ministry, when exercised by an impatient shoot-from-the-hip-especially-when-you're-irritated individual like PF, is more dangerous now than any exercise of the Petrine office was in the past, even in the pontificates of very bad men, back in those happy days when the ordinary layman or cleric probably knew little about the current occupant of the Roman See, and had certainly not heard about the sillier things he said in his private chapel this morning or the proclivities of his nastier cronies.

What we need after PF's death or abdication or deposition is not a better or more holy or more prayerful man. What we need is the papal office itself stripped down and cleansed from the idolatrous accretions of recent pontificates, so that it is again a Petrine Ministry which can without daily disaster be exercised by an ordinary sinful human being with ordinary human failings tempered by the Grace of God ... just like the great majority of popes over two millennia, who were neither saints nor reprobates.

Above all, a new pope will need the self-discipline to ... you thought I was going to write "Talk very much less". But that does not quite get to the heart of the problem. Very soon after this pontificate began, I wrote in a blogpost that our new pope should not be allowed out without whatever he was to say having been carefully checked by those in the Curia whose responsibility it is to give a theological shape to a pontificate.

Papal authority is not personal in an individualistic or whimsical sort of way. The pope is supposed to say, not what he feels or wants, but what the judgement of the Roman Church is as a corporate and structured body mindful of its own Holy and immemorial Tradition. (When PF, after some off-the-cuff remarks about his own liturgical preferences, emphatically added "This is Magisterium!", he thereby exemplified the main error which he entertains with regard to his own job-description.)

The first major exercise of papal authority, the letter called I Clement, has the form of something written as if by one member of the Roman Presbyterate. S Clement is not himself actually mentioned. The writer was very clearly an individual who expected to be obeyed. But he writes and judges and instructs in a corporate manner. That is why the Curia Romana has a doctrinal status and purpose. It is not meant to be a tedious bureaucracy which so sadly gets in the way of everybody being able to see what a splendid chap a pope is once he is able to shake off his staff. It is an integral part of the exercise of the Ministry which the Redeemer instituted in his Church, because an episkopos is meaningless without his presbyterium, his diakonia, his laos.  And this goes for Rome as much as for any other particular Church. The earliest witnesses of the Roman Primacy, SS Ignatius and Irenaeus, do not explicitly mention the Roman Bishop; they talk about the Roman Church.

Finally: this Next Pope will need to remember the apercu of Blessed John Henry Newman, that the Ministry of the Roman Church within the Oikoumene is to be a barrier, a remora, against the intrusion of erroneous novelty.

It is: to hand on the Great Tradition unadulterated.

In an age when the adjective "negative" has unpopular vibes, we need a reappropriation at the very highest level within the Church of the central, fundamental importance of a negative and preservative, papacy. Tradidi quod et accepi implies Quod non accepi non tradam.

15 March 2019

Is PF "A Subtle Jesuit"?

Newman's Oxford undergraduate (Loss and Gain) "Charles Reding", about to be rusticated for  ... allegedly ... having a mind "perverted, debauched by sophistries and jesuitries", goes to say farewell to the Principal of his College. To whom he says "'I cannot conceive, sir, why I should be unfit company for the gentlemen of the College'. Dr Bluett's jaw dropped, and his eyes asumed a hollow aspect. 'You will corrupt their minds.' Then he added in a sepulchral tone, which seemed to come from the very depth of his inside, 'You will introduce them, sir, to some subtle Jesuit -- to some subtle Jesuit, Mr Reding'".

What a lovely reputation the Jesuits once had. What a shame we have no subtle Jesuits around today. But Stay!! Perhaps, after all, we do. Perhaps PF is a Subtle Jesuit!!! Had that occurred to you?

Here, again, is what PF said in his joint statement with his Islamic chum:
"The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race, and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings."

The inattentive might misread this as a typical piece of modern liberal 'affirmation', in which everybody is praised for and in their diversity. It is, surely, the dogma expressed by the 'diversity flag', in which all the colours of the rainbow are gloriously combined in one composition. All affirm all.

Well ... we have no way of knowing how PF's Islamic co-signatory glossed these words, But to many, this statement will seem nothing but a statement of the modern liberal blindingly obvious.

But PF introduced a new element into the rich mix when he gave Bishop Schneider permission to report a quite different interpretation: the idea that Diversity of Religion relates to the permissive will of God ... not to what he positively wills, but only to what he is willing to permit even though it is evil in itself.

Lovely Stuff. But PF goes on to bracket diversity of sex with the diversity of religion. And anybody who knows the least about the Judaeo-Christian tradition could have explained to PF that the division of Humanity into two sexes is given in Genesis, a section of the Pentateuch near the beginning of the Bible just after all the stuff about King James I, as part of the positive will of God for unfallen Humanity ... not just as something God tolerates because it is an unfortunate consequence of creating Man with the free will to choose the Good and the Bad. Creation of Mankind in two complementary sexes is not something that God permits; it is what he has himself freely done.

But ... hang on ... perhaps PF is not, as you were foolishly assuming, impetuous, judgmental readers that you are, a poor ignorant old man who has never read Genesis. Perhaps he is ... after all ... a Subtle Jesuit ... like all those Subtle Jesuits who lurked behind every lamp-post and hedgerow of the Victorian Protestant imagination!

So, on the one hand, to Moslems and Liberals, PF wishes to come across as praising religious diversity; it is a Good positively willed by God.  

But, on the other hand, to Bishop Schneider and his associates, PF tips the wink: "Don't be too noisy about this, old man, but of course I agree wholeheartedly with you that the existence of all false religions is one of the terrible evils resulting from the wilfulness and waywardness of Man, once he has been led by Satan into Sin, Disobedience, and Error. If you think it will help, do tell your troops that what I meant was: false religions are not positively but only permissively willed. And do anything else you can to get them to just Shut Up and stop analysing what I say. Analysis is just so ***********ly Rigid. As S Thomas Aquinas so rightly said, Logic is the Devil's Whore."

Amazingly Subtle. Devastatingly Jesuitical. What a man!!!!!

14 March 2019

Cassiciacum? Praeferendus Newman! (3)

Did Blessed John Henry Newman say  

"It was Oxford that made me a Catholic"? Or did he say

"It was the Fathers that made me a Catholic"? Or did he, as I rather think, say both?

It is certainly true that Henry Manning said, referencing Newman, that "it is the old Anglican, patristic, literary Oxford tone transplanted into the Church". And who durst say that an Archbishop of Westminster can err?

For Newman, what has actually happened in the history of the Church makes a good starting point.
This is one of the reasons why I have been so attracted by Newman's argument that the papal or episcopal teaching office may be seen as being in 'Suspense' if the pope or bishop stops using it, or gets into the habit of using it improperly. We do not, in my view, profit by discussing 'formaliter' and 'materialiter'. If we adopt Newman's modes of discourse, discussions of how or whether a Roman bishop can lose his office, or the exercise of it, become no less fascinating but quite a lot less necessary. We do not need to break or fracture the canonical unity of the Church Militant, the Church Visible.

Blessed John Henry came to his conclusions as the result of his long studies of the Arian Crisis, in which, for sixty years, a pope and most bishops taught error or at least subverted the Truth by their weakness. The Magisterium was indeed in suspense. It is an objective fact of History. Syllogisms be damned: Newman's accounts and interpretations describe reality. That is what makes them, and his methods, attractive.

I have written before about Pope Honorius. We might also consider the Great Schism of the West. If you believe that the 'Urbanist' popes were the true popes, then from 1378 until 1415, the papal Magisterium was in suspense in France, Scotland, Spain, and Naples. If, on the other hand, you are a 'Clementine', then, from 1378 until 1429, the papal teaching office was in suspense in the Empire, England, Ireland, North Italy, Poland, Hungary, and Northern Europe (editions of the Annuario pontificio have given fluctuating lists of 'true' popes, but there has never been a Magisterial decision ... the pompous list of popes on the walls of Westminster Cathedral gets its shambolic knickers into quite a self-contradictory twist).

The history of the Church is not a tidy phenomenon in which we can say: there has never been a dodgy pope because, as soon as a pope does become dodgy, he ... like magic!! ... 'Beam me up, Scotty!' ... automatically ceases to be pope (even if nobody is actually aware that this invisible cessation has occurred).

Church history is a messy business in which there really have been dodgy popes, and ... whatever all the syllogisms in all the universe might anxiously jostle to say about it ... they have not thereby ceased to be popes or ceased to be recognised as such.

So when Sedevacantists solemnly and under threat of Sin tell Christian people that they ought never go to Mass unless they can cadge a lift to their nearest sedevacantist Mass a thousand or three miles away, they ought to remember that for half a century during the Great Western Schism, half the Christians in Europe attended Masses in which an 'invalid' pope was mentioned in the una cum. They also ought to remember that, in cases where there is a genuine doubt, a stricter view should not be imposed on penitents even if that stricter view appears, to the mind of the Confessor himself, to be the very much more probable view (vide H Davies Vol I pp 91sqq). It is a grave responsibility to drive Christifideles laicos away from the Sacraments (I am not discussing here the question of Sacramental Validity).

During the Western Schism, were those who moved across the border between England and Scotland required to be absolved from Schism because they had been attending Masses in which the 'wrong' pope was named? When the Schism was over, did the Council of Constance require the clergy and laity of half Europe to go to confession to be absolved of the 'sin' of attending Masses in which a 'wrong' papal claimant was silently named? Go on, give me a Denzinger number!

13 March 2019

Benedict XIV, Clement XIV, and Clement XV.

Once again, as Britain rocks in the aftermath of the Brexit' votes, I sought solace from the bust of Pope Benedict XIV in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. There is a brief summary for non-Latinists at the bottom.
Res mira! Hodie ridentem inveni magnum et carum pontificem! Quem saepe lugentem, miserum inveneram, quinimmo paene flentem, tot miseriis adflictum propter vulnera in Ecclesiam Militantem his temporibus illata, hodie palam gaudentem aspexi. "Cur Domne laetaris?" rogavi. "Propter tuum Zuhlsdorfium" respondit "virum lepidum et ad cor meum, qui mirabiliter prae Mundi oculis exhibuit amicum meum Ganganelli, meum in Sede Petrina sub nomine Clementis XIV successorem. Tot poculis huius papae et imagine et armis adornatis per orbem terrarum missis, gloriam tanti historici valde promovit et promovet!"

"Poculis tam bonis cotidie utor. Sed amicus tuus, Sancte Pater, Ganganelli fuit? Historicum dixti?"

Parvum emisit suspirium. "Ignorasne quot et quanta pro Iudaeis defendendis hic gesserit?" Ignorare me demissis oculis confessus sum. Ille "Iudaei per saecula multa inter homines nefasti et scelesti habebantur. Hoc illis crimen scelestissimum adlatum est, eos sanguine Christianorum et praesertim parvulorum in suis panibus conficiendis uti et usos esse. Quam rem Ganganello meo commisi penitus inquirendam. Omnia perscrutatus omnia lucide monstravit: crimen omnino falsum esse; nil tale unquam factum. Et Poetae Tragici L. Annaei Senecae fautorem se doctum monstravit. Gavisus sum maxime illo in Sedem Apostolicam postea promoto. [Hic pausam aliquantulam fecit et venuste subrisit] Sed audi! Hoc quoque placet et placebit ... dies nunc appropinquat liberationis vestrae."

Attonitus tacui. Deinde "Qui dies quae" dixi "liberatio? Num Brexitum dicis? Num tu Brexientibus faves?"

Cladem istam Brexitialem nihil ad rem pronuntiavit; cumque circumspexisset ne quis prope esset auditor ne Iaponicus quidem, suo more cautius murmure parvo hoc mihi patefecit: fore ut pontifex Romanus ... e suo loco tolleretur! Quae secutura dixit, me prohibuit nuntiare; hoc tantum vobis dicere possum, tempora breviora. Idcirco annuntio vobis gaudium magnum!! Non habebimus papam!!!

Papam cachinnantem currens effugi et hoc benigne addentem "Natalem tibi hodiernum, pusille, quam faustissimum precor!".

If your Latin is a little rusty, all you actually need to know is: get your Ganganelli and your Lambertini mugs from Fr Zed fast because they may soon be valuable historical items. IMPORTANT!

12 March 2019

Cassiciacum? (2)

A "Scholastic" approach to theology might progress from apparently given fixed principles through apparently syllogistic logic to apparently obvious conclusions. Thus:-

"Popes do not Teach heresy;
Honorius taught heresy;
Therefore Honorius was not pope"


"Antipopes have no legitimate jurisdiction;
Honorius was an antipope;
Therefore Honorius had no jurisdiction."

and so on; thus the canonical framework Honorius imposed upon the Anglo-Saxon Church was of no effect. Et cetera; et cetera.

You could put a group of such thinkers on to a Desert Island, and by pure logic they could come up with a complete history of the Church, perfect in every respect, possibly even armoured by every protection of immaculate logic ... except that it bore no relationship to what actually did happen in the real History of the real Church.

Thus, although Pope Honorius was condemned by his successors and anathematised by an Ecumenical Council, nobody ever did claim that he at any point ceased to be pope; or that his acts of papal jurisdiction were "invalid", in England or anywhere else. Certainly, when S Bede the Venerable wrote his account of the Honorius years, there is no hint in the Saint's words that Honorius was an antipope or that his acts of jurisdiction were null. Nor did later popes or Ecumenical Councils decree this to be so.

More later ... perhaps after, tomorrow, I have lauded that faultless pontiff Prospero Lambertini..

11 March 2019

Cassiciacum? (1)

A brother priest very reasonably asked me whether my views on the present state of the papal office were not rather like those of the Cassiciacum Thesis. I am very shy about answering this. For more than one reason.

I do my best to confine myself to writing about subects in which I, perhaps over-boldly, consider myself to have some slight competence. I am not a canonist, and if I started trying to deal with the Cassiciacum, I would probably merely expose the degree of my own incompetence in that area. Which is enormous. Why should I make myself a laughing stock?

A second reason is that, in the present state of things, this thesis is ... so I believe ... espoused by a particular ecclesial group. I have no desire to attack them. They are very probably far better Catholics than I am. That wouldn't be difficult! But I would not want to create an assumption that I was one of them, or that I was in agreement with their own canonical separation (as I understand it) from the Church Militant. We all have enough problems of our own without letting ourselves get tarred with other people's brushes. [However, I will admit to having some human curiosity about one particularly diagnostic question: do they name our Holy Father Pope Francis, Successor of S Peter, in the Canon of the Mass?]

But my main reason is that I prefer to do theology, not in terms of what is sometimes called the (neo-)scholastic method, but in a way more rooted in historical actualite. I would like to describe this as "more English", but I won't, because, if I did, I know what would happen: you'd all start jumping up and down and screeching "But what about Doellinger?!" "What about Hefele!?

I will elucidate later.

10 March 2019

I am naturally shy ...

... about promoting myself, or appearing to do so. But I draw to your attention a nice little book from the Arouca Press, a new and traditional Catholic publishing house.

Arouca is, in any case, to be encouraged. But today I commend a reprint of a splendid little volume published in 1927, giving homilies upon the Sunday Epistles of the Old Missal. These homilies are by an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, Fr Michael Chapman.

My reticence in commending the book arises from the fact that I have contributed to it a Preface. But you should not allow this to bias you against the book.

We are all asked by Holy Mother Church to study Holy Scripture; I can think of no better way of doing this than by starting with those passages which, Sunday by Sunday, the Church especially commends to us by selecting them to be publicly read at Mass.

Fr Chapman's sensible, elegant, and profound set of homilires affords a very good way of doing this.