28 May 2016

Sex and Scandal on the River

Well, Eights Week, the annual Summer Bumping Races on the Isis, is now over. Nothing changes; the accents of upper-class girls from New England (and I don't mean the one in New South Wales) as ubiquitous as ever. The usual male undergraduates who, having Pimms taken, loudly try feebly to cap each other's feeble jokes to impress women undergraduates ... why is it that the girls never even hint by word or body-language their contempt for all this pathetic male preening? Shall I ever understand Sex?

But, this year, a Scandal. Let me tell you about it. In the final race of the top Division, the Scone boat, with effortless superiority, came first out of the Gut. It was followed by the Judas eight, now renamed Amoris laetitia, and greeted by the traditional undergraduate cheers of  'Dobson, Dobson'. Close behind in third place was the Simon Magus boat. But as the Judas cox steered his boat over to the Green Bank, he went too close, and the eight came to a juddering halt tangled in the undergrowth. This enabled Simon Magus to bump it spectacularly, indeed catastrophically, seriously damaging the entire stern of the Judas boat. Thanks to what seemed then to be a supernatural premonition, the Judas cox had already leaped out of his seat onto the bank, and so escaped injury.

The fourth boat out of the Gut was also going strongly; 'DLS' painted on its bow, and the familiar domestick cat design of Shrewsbury College on its oars. It avoided the melee; and careered onwards at such a speed as to catch up with and to bump Scone (the crew of which, having seen Judas bumped, had foolishly slackened their pace). So Shrewsbury ended up Head of the River!

The scandal? It transpires that the Judas cox had been bribed with money and the lure of "Irregular Relationships"; the Senior Common Room at Simon Magus, led by Mr Provost himself, had organised it all!! It seems that my lord Chancellor has been called in. Rumours abound about how Mr Orator Jenkyns will allude to the episode at Encaenia in his Creweian Oration. Will he quote the Pro Caelio? Or mention the death of Agrippina?

But how endearingly old-fashioned that the Magus dons should even care about the fortunes of their College Eight! Clearly, a college with a real sense of historical continuity!

Apologies to faithful long-time readers who recognise this piece as partly recycled. The original thread included a very just protest from an alumna of S Hilda's at the mere thought of Miss Hillyard's College being co-educational.

CORPUS CHRISTI ... various afterthoughts

(1) It seems to me very jejune to leave this great feast with the Common Preface, as the not-entirely-satisfactory Missal of 1962 does. Many people were happier with the older usage of employing the Nativity Preface; if this is not restored, surely the 'Gallican' Preface should be made universal. It probably doesn't need an explicit decree to facilitate this, since a Bishop of Rome who has not hidden his views about Law is not going to waste his time being enormously upset about such details.

(2) What a shame we don't have a Patristic Preface for the Blessed Sacrament ... but stay: we could have! The Verona ('Leonine') Sacramentary provided, at Christmas, a superb little Preface (VD tuae laudis hostiam), mentioning ... as you would expect ... the 'typical' figures of Abel, Passover Lamb, Abraham, and Melchisedek. Beautifully Roman; elegantly phrased and terse enough to have come from a very august pen.

(3) The EF and OF texts in Missal and Breviary for Corpus Christi are robustly supersessionist. Take the Lauda Sion (novum Pascha novae Legis Phase vetus terminat; Vetustatem novitas, umbram fugat veritas, noctem lux eliminat) and the Pange lingua (et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui). Comments on this blog earlier in the year established that German "translations" of the Liturgia Horarum, as early as the early 1970s, eliminated prayers for the Conversion of the Jews. Do German translations of S Thomas's hymns eliminate his supersessionism? Are the German and English hierarchies known to be agitating for the Angelic Doctor to be mutilated ('abelardised'?) so to make him Politically Correct?

27 May 2016

Two popes? UPDATE

UPDATE See now on Rorate a sensible piece by Professor de Mattei on Fatima; including a brief explanation of the unacceptability of any theory which introduces any doubt into the fact that there is only ever one pope.

Since someone has asked me, I will express the view that Archbishop Gaenswein did not mean to say that there were two popes; nor to say that the papacy subsists in two individuals.

There can only be one Pope, and that pope is Francis. There can only be one Bishop of any diocese, but when a Coadjutor is appointed, he does acquire a close relationship with the One, Single, diocesan whom he is assisting. But, at least until recently, coadjutors retained the titular see in partibus which they already had. Perhaps having an emeritus pope is a bit like being a coadjutor bishop. By the way, 'emeritus' does mean 'having given up the job'.

As I said at the time of the Abdication, I felt it would have been more appropriate for Joseph Ratzinger to be given some such style as episcopus ad Sanctum Petrum, rather like the auxiliaries to the Saxon Archbishops of Canterbury who had their Cathedra in the old church of S Martin and were styled episcopus ad Sanctum Martinum.

I am a little uneasy, frankly, about anything that gives any impression whatsoever that the Papacy is anything other than the bishopric of Rome. As Fr Eric Mascall pointed out, the Papacy is not a sacramental rank in the Church such as to confer an indelible character. The purely administrative act of electing a man Pope does not change him in the same way as the ordination of a man to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate changes him. Being elected pope does not mean that through all eternity you will be, in some mystical mysterious sort of way, a pope. When you die or abdicate, you cease being a pope.

Joseph Ratzinger is not Pope, nor a Pope; not in any sort of way whatsoever.

26 May 2016


The greatest of the Greek poets, Callimachus, opined that a Big Book was a Big Evil (mega kakon). But Dr Thomas M Winger has written a very big book about S Paul's most important Epistle, the one to the Ephesians, and his Commentary is definitely a mega kalon (a Big Good). (Concordia Commentary A theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture Ephesians by Thomass M Winger ISBN 978-0-570-06313-1.)

Curious readers may wonder why I should name Callimachus as the greatest of the Greek poets. What ... er .... about Homer? But such judgements surely take their bearings from where the person making the assertion is standing. If I desire to consider Callimachus greater than Homer because of the densely and humorously learned way in which the later poet performs the games of imitatio cum variatione upon the earlier, who are you to judge?

And if I or anybody asserts that Ephesians is S Paul's most important Epistle, there is no reason why we should be bullied into submission simply because some chappies in Tubingen, a long time ago, decided that Romans, Galatians, and the Corinthian Epistles are a sort of 'canon within the canon' by the standard of which the other letters bearing S Paul's name have their worth, and even their authenticity, discerned.

It will be no secret to readers that Ephesians is regarded, by many within 'Modern Biblical Scholarship', as 'deuteropauline'. Winger's Commentary demonstrates that the reasons commonly adduced for denying the Pauline authorship of Ephesians are comprehensively unconvincing. This is a book with 895 (biggish) pages, so I am, you will understand, uncertain to what sort of readerships I am commending it; but anybody who takes Pauline Studies seriously should have it on their shelves.

There are many insights within this book which are either new; or, at least, represent recent scholarly findings which have not yet fought their way through to become commonplaces. One area in which this is true concerns the ministry. Our own Colin Podmore has ably dissected the new dogma in the American Episcopal Church whereby all the baptised are ministers. Winger makes clear that such notions are unattested until the twentieth century. And he also explains the new understanding of diakonos/diakonia which we have had since John Collins exploded the old 1960s superstition, i.e. the idea that these terms refer to the performance of humble acts of service to the needy. This sad nonsense is still sometimes churned out when people are asked to preach sermons at diaconal ordinations. Perhaps, if Papa Bergoglio is going to ask Cardinal Mueller to explain to him about the question of Women in the Diaconate, we might all find diakonia a topical subject to revisit.

Winger is a Lutheran. In Britain, we have little experience of Lutherans. So British readers need to understand that there are are different types of Lutherans: surprise, surprise, there are Liberal Lutherans and Orthodox Lutherans! As we approach the 500th anniversary of Luther's revolution, it is a good idea for us to remember this; for Catholics, in particular, to understand how close we are to Orthodox Lutherans. I would go so far as to say that Orthodox Lutheranism ought to be upon our ecumenical agenda. Just as we in the Ordinariates have learned to read our own Anglican Patrimony through the lense of Catholic orthodoxy, might not a portion of the Lutheran family be able to discern a path similar to that which we have taken?

For some Catholics, it might be a useful start to read the fine passage from Luther himself with which Winger concludes his exposition. It is a well-expressed exposition of the authority of the Ministry and, indeed, of the Catholic principle of ex opere operato.

And, at precisely the time when silly people ... and profoundly silly Episcopal Conferences such as those of Germany and England ... are saying silly things about Judaism, Winger provides sound reading: " ... neither Paul nor our Lord questions the legitimacy of the temple under the terms of the old covenant. Yet it is obsolete because Christ has come and the old has passed away. So Israel of the flesh is replaced by Israel of the Spirit, a church incorporating children of Abraham who believe as he believed in the Messiah to come".

Ephesians is topical! Read Ephesians! Read Winger!

Just to prove that I am still a waspish pedant ... I will comment on Winger's page 81 footnote 260, which rightly queries the text-crit assumption that lectio brevior potior; the comfortable but absurd rule of thumb adopted by Westcott and Hort et omnis grex illa. This was exploded in Oxford more than half a century ago by the mighty George Kilpatrick, Winger's fellow Canadian, who shared with me one-to-one his text-crit knowledge and techniques back in the mid-1960s. I explain this out of pietas towards a great scholar and a very dear friend.

25 May 2016

Scandals: An Essential Resource

Much fine work has been published over the last couple of decades on the Scandal of the Collects. What Scandal? That not one of the three greatest Festivals of the Year was allowed to keep its ancient Roman and Western collect; not one Sunday in the three great seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter was allowed to keep its collect. The vandals who, after the Council, ignored the wise moderation of the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, judged it self-evident that not a single one of these simple, powerful, elegant prayers, was now fit for purpose.

Only now is it really possible to address the (very similar) Scandal of the Readings. Because only now do we have the essential tool: Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, by Matthew P Hazell (with a Foreword by Peter Kwasniewski), ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback). It is a fine piece of detailed and meticulous work; anybody who wants to make comments from now on about what the 'reformers' did to the readings will be wasting their time if what they write does not spring out of Hazell's pages. Its layout is simple and pellucid; we go from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, and every verse which appeared either in the OF or in the EF is carefully listed. So we can see which passages the 'reformers' added in order to provide a ditior mensa Scripturarum ... because, after all, Sacrosanctum Concilium did require this to be done. We can also detect ... what the Council most certainly did not mandate ... which passages modern Catholics are now forbidden to hear read in Church.

Let's be topical. The Church's discipline with regard to the reception of the Sacraments by "remarried" divorcees rests on Mark 10:1-12 and its Synoptic parallels, combined with I Corinthians 11:27. The good news: the OF gives the Marcan passage to be read on Sunday once every three years. This is better than the EF provides. The bad news: on the two occasions when this section of S Paul is to be read in the OF, verse 27 appears to be carefully singled out for omission. In the EF, it is to be heard on Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi. Draw your conclusions!

I will not repeat the good discussion by Dr Kwasniewski, dealing with the tendenz of so many of the omissions. I would simply add that, in my view, doctrinal motives are not the only reasons for omissions. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of the purest, most wanton, vandalism. Take the superb passage Proverbs 31:10-31 ... the Good Wife. The OF lectionary abbreviates this by crude omission ... and, of course, here we have another of the post-Conciliar corruptions which can claim no mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium: the crazed passion for brevity. (Incidentally, when various parts of the Anglican Communion decided to adopt versions of the OF lectionary, they demonstrated a strong tendency to restore the integrity of readings, even if this might mean that the laity would be detained in Church for two or three minutes longer.)

But this pericope at the end of Proverbs is the antidote to any claim that 'traditional' attitudes to gender roles are "repressive". The Good Wife is a most competent and efficient administrator (-trix?) who runs the entire industrial and 'business' side of the household and is in charge of the purchase of real estate. Her husband appears little more than her trophy appendage who, one feels, is respected among the all other chaps mainly upon the grounds that his wife is so strikingly effective! The immemorial, almost universal, human cultural division whereby the husband is head of the household ad extra while the wife is head ad intra, is beautifully laid out. It deserves better than the OF gives it.

One tiniest, minutest, criticism. Hazell, very logically, confines his information with regard to the EF to the 1962 Missal. This means that the readings of the old pre-Bugnini Easter and Pentecost Vigils are excluded. Even at the risk of a minor inconsistency, I think it might have been helpful to include them.

This is not a book to miss! And Matthew and Lucy Hazell are to be most warmly thanked.

Get it!

24 May 2016


There is an immensely scholarly discussion of Amoris laetitia by the immensely scholarly Dr Anna Silvas, a Romanian Catholic, Classicist, Semiticist, Patristic scholar, on the website of Fr Glen Tattersall's Extraordinary Form parish in Melbourne, newmanparish. Perhaps some able person could kindly supply a link to it. I think I would dissent only from the second sentence of her second paragraph. (There are a few typos.)

I do rather wonder whether the 'Traditionalist' communities have been as clear in their reactions to Amoris laetitia as they should have been. "Tradition" does not simply mean an aesthetic preference for the (not entirely satisfactory) liturgical books of 1962. We need someone to resurrect the the term integriste, and its meaning! Where are the "Ecclesia Dei communities"? And what about those prelates who supply "eye candy" pickies on some traddy liturgical blogs? Are they not Successors of the Apostles and sharers in the Universal munus docendi? Do they have to be so scared? Who's afraid of the ...

Fr Glen is to be congratulated. I don't think he's afraid.

Roskilde Cathedral ...

 ... in the Kingdom of Denmark could occupy a long article. With its combination of brickwork and whitewash, I found it curiously reminiscent of the Anglican Shrine Church at Walsingham ... and of early brick Romanesque churches on the shores of the Med.

Two things that struck me:

(1) The four pillars surrounding the chancel contain within them (behind stone tablets) and at some height the remains of four people concerned with the Cathedral; together with frescoes. These individuals died well before the Cathedral was built, but were moved here from an earlier church. What interested me was that, during one of the most memorable expeditions of my life, to visit the Fathers and Brethren of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer on Papa Stronsay, my kindly hosts took me to see the beautiful rose-coloured Romanesque cathedral at Kirkwall. There, in 1919, were discovered behind loose ashlar stones on the rectangular pier of the choir's South Arcade, the relics of S Magnus. In a similar place are those of S Rognvald. Was it a common practice to reinter important people within the pillars of churches? Or is there something 'Nordic' about it?

(2) The medieval side-chapels at Roskilde preserve much of their medieval painting, revealing that they each had their own complete set of Consecration Crosses. This presumably implies that each was consecrated separately with the full Consecration Rite for a church ... so that they are rather like what I believe some Byzantines call parekklesiai. Yes?

23 May 2016


What a privilege! The Copenhagen Latin Mass Group invited me to visit ... for the third time ... their exquisite city in order to offer the Holy Sacrifice with them. So I sang Masses on the Vigil (in the Bishop's Chapel), on the Feast of Pentecost (in the Sacred Heart; I think it's on the Internet), and on Whitmonday (in the Church of S Andrew, at an Altar over a major relic of S Andrew, installed there by the Bishop).

And with what kindness I was entertained!

With immense generosity, the diocesan, Bishop Kozon, invited me to stay in his house. As an outsider, and so at the risk of putting my foot in it, I have to say, not only that his Lordship practises to a xi the New Testament and Patristic virtue of xenia, but that his relationship with those who worship according to the Extraordinary Form is vere episcopalis. I was shown videos ... maybe they are somewhere on the internet ... of liturgical events in the diocese ... including pontifical Vespers at the Throne, and the first High Mass, EF, of Fr Jan, recently ordained, who gave me a First Blessing and with whom I dined very satisfactorily in a vibrant piazza in that mediterranean warmth which seems, by a happy if Extraordinary dispensation of Providence, to extend to Zealand.

Things do move on. Alexander has grown up into a most efficient Altar Server. Theresa is now a charming and patient young woman, placid beyond her years, who joined in a lengthy expedition to Roskilde Cathedral ... her brother Vincent (recently baptised, EF, by the Bishop) made his own essential contribution by sleeping throughout the entire event ...

 ... but the questions I want to ask about Roskilde Cathedral can await another post.

22 May 2016

Ordination Season

Trinity Sunday, according to the tradition of the Latin Church, used to be the main day for Ordinations in the West: prepared for by the Pentecost Ember Week. Before both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion fiddled with their respective rites, the same words appeared in both the Roman Pontifical and the Prayer Book Ordinal as the Bishop laid hands upon the ordinandi: the Lord's own paschal and pentecostal words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum to his disciples about the Gift of the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Fittingly; for the priesthood we are given to share is at the heart of the Paschal Mystery. And the First Reading at Mattins, in both ecclesial bodies, used to be that unforgettable passage from Isaiah about the Divine Glory: Et audivi vocem Domini dicentis: Quem mittam? Et dixi: Ecce ego. Mitte me. "And I said: here am I; send me". Gratias tibi, Deus, gratias tibi, vera et una Trinitas, una et summa Deitas, sancta et una Unitas.

And what a wonderful feast, how full of joy, today's solemnity is. A particular pleasure is that of praying in the Divine Office that great paean of praise, the Quicumque vult. During the period of 'formation' we in the British Ordinariate's presbyterate had to go through, the lowest point for me was when one lecturer informed us that part of that Creed was "heretical". Our Patron Blessed John Henry Newman had described it as "The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary, to which Christianity has given birth". It is a shame that people and people, in the Catholic Church, do not know it better; are no longer shaped by its pin-point orthodoxy as well as its beautiful cadences. (A shame, too, that in the OF the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity is no longer heard Sunday by Sunday during the 'green' season.)

48 years ago, on a Trinity Sunday, Harry Carpenter laid his hands on me, on exactly the same spot as a previous Bishop of Oxford did the same thing on a Trinity Sunday to Blessed John Henry Newman ... just a few yards from the bones of Oxford's Saxon Patron S Frideswide and those of Dr Pusey and the tomb of the last Abbot of Oseney, first Bishop of Oxford and the only one to have been in full communion with the See of S Peter.

My warmest good wishes to all brother priests who were ordained on a Trinity Sunday.

21 May 2016

The authority of Apostolic Exhortations

There is a Catch 321 Situation involved in the question of the authority of Apostolic Exhortations. It arises from the fact that no Apostolic Exhortation has any more (or any less) 'authority' than any other Apostolic Exhortation. This 'Catch' can be invoked to embarrass both 'sides'. Thus: -

Trendies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Amoris Laetitia is undercut by the fact that it has no more authority than Familiaris consortio".

Traddies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Familiaris consortio is undercut by the fact that it is cancelled out by Amoris laetitia".

Both of these documents are Apostolic Exhortations.

And Apostolic Exhortations are neither doctrinally constitutive nor canonically legislative.

The principle that public adulterers, even when repackaged as "remarried divorcees", ought not to receive Holy Communion, does not rest upon the authority of Familiaris consortio or Sacramentum caritatis. It is a principle based upon some of the most explicit words that the Incarnate Torah is known to have uttered, combined with a very blunt statement by S Paul, who was even more Apostolic than the authors of Apostolic Exhortations. It is a principle to which the daily praxis of the bimillennial Church, and many of its official documents, bear witness.

Familiaris consortio and Sacramentum caritatis did not constitute, set up, create, the principle concerned. They (very laudably and eloquently) bore witness to it.

In Apostolic Exhortations the Roman Pontiff exhorts the Faithful to abide by what is already the authentic teaching and praxis of the Church.

20 May 2016

Amoris Laetitia and the Magisterium

Cardinal Burke has made himself quite unpopular in some Traddy circles by not denouncing AL ut Leo rugiens from his Maltese housetops. There are fierce people around who feel that, for a top lawyer simply to say that the document has no Magisterial authority, is just not nearly angry enough. Spluttering expletives, apparently, are called for. Raymond Leo Burke, they say, should put a lot more work into his spluttering techniques.

I must declare an interest here. When AL emerged, my own first comment (April 9) was to observe immediately that an Apostolic Exhortation  is "not doctrinally constitutive nor juridically legislative". Burke ... and I! ... are exactly right. That is why we do not splutter.

Some critics have claimed that AL must be magisterial because Bergoglio is on record as saying "I wrote an encyclical ... and an Apostolic Exhortation, I'm constantly making statements, giving homilies. That's magisterium."

If this Pope really does imagine that his Petrine Magisterium extends to Apostolic Exhortations, to 'statements', and even to his endless homilies, then this is quite a serious and worrying misunderstanding on his part of his own office (it reminds me of Fr Eric Mascall's wise observation that a man, even a pope, can misdescribe his own actions).

But however much this apparent claim may impress the hyperultrapapalists who surround the Holy Father but have never read Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, it should be an irrelevance to those of us who know better.

Apostolic Constitutions are way above the pay grade of Apostolic Exhortations. And the principle that "remarried" divorcees should not receive Holy Communion is embodied in the Catechism, which rests upon the authority of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of S John Paul II. Moreover, it was given to the Ordinariates as our doctrinal norm in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI.

This is the Catholic Faith which we have received.

It is the duty of every Catholic, high and low, to guard and hand on the Deposit of Faith which we have received, sancte et fideliter. Vatican I, unsurprisingly, took the view that this is especially the duty of the successor of S Peter (Denzinger 3070).

I still share that view, even if some of Bergoglio's closest associates do not.

19 May 2016

More on Amoris laetitia footnote 329

The dodgy doctrinal assumptions behind this footnote ... that you can't expect people to live in celibacy ... that God's grace is insufficient to enable Christians to live according to His will ... are they going to be extended to paedophiles? And especially to that particular 'marginalised' and 'peripheral' group, clerical paedophiles? And if not, why not?

Come to think of it, we don't seem to have heard much about this group during all the 'Mercy' stuff. But perhaps this is unfair. Probably, the Special Confessors are absolving them in droves.