25 February 2018

Shared Sacramental Communion with the Byzantine Churches

I REPRINT A PIECE FROM 15 OCTOBER 2015, in view of its relevance to the questions of the relationship, at the deepest theological levels, between the Catholic Church and the Particular 'Orthodox' (or 'Separated Byzantine') Churches.

 Parts of an article in the December 1959 number of the old Anglo-Papalist journal Reunion:
" ... the conclusions of a Greek book of 697 pages entitled Relations between Catholics and Orthodox by a Greek Catholic priest P. Grigoriou, editor of the Athenian weekly Katholiki. The author takes us back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

"Archbishop Anthony C. Vuccino, A.A., former Latin Bishop of Corfu, reviewed this book in La Croix. Its pages show the good relations existing in those centuries, under the Venetian and Turkish rulers, between Catholics and Orthodox in the Near and Middle East, and particularly in Greece. With the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the permissuion of their own hierarchies, Catholic missionaries preached and administered frequently in Orthodox Churches. The Archbishop draws attention to such incidents as the authorisation by the Patriarch Neophyte (1611) of the absolution of his faithful by Jesuits or Capuchins and that Orthodox deacons assisted at Mass sung by P. Goar, O.P., and received communion from him. Often the Latin bishop and his clergy preached or said Mass in the Orthodox churches of Chios.

" These events are established by contemporary documents culled by the author from all the islands and mainland. Missions were preached to mixed comgregations; there were 'mixed churches' serving both rites with Latin and Oriental altars ...

"P. Grigoriou further narrates that as the procession of Corpus Christi passed by, one Orthodox bishop would offer incense from the window of his house; in Zante the platform bearing the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday was carried by a Latin and an Orthodox bishop ... in the seventeenth century, schools were built by local Orthodox congregations where Latin priests could teach the children of the Orthodox.

"Concelebrations are also reported by the author. In 1653 Joannice, the Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to his Metropolitans of Trebizond and New Caesarea, authorising Fr Robert, O.C., to offer Mass in their churches. Whenever Orthodox priests concelebrated with Latin clergy, the former made the Memento of the Pope. Again, concelebration by the Orthodox Archpriest and Latin priests at the same altar in the Catholic Cathedral occurred in Corfu on the 19th January, the patronal feast of St Spyridion. ... Fr Gill, S.J., comments on this indiscriminate intermingling: 'The story is almost monotonous because it was the same everywehere; nevertheless, it is astonishing'. This intercommunion was practised on a large scale, even to the inclusion of the reception of Sacred Orders.
"We might ask why this cooperation ended. Assuredly, P.Grigoriou tells us that Pius IX made efforts to re-establish these contacts  ... Archbishop Vuccino affirms: 'The centre of Catholicism exercised general tolerance in regard to such practices, doubtless with the aim of making up for the deficiencies of the Orthodox clergy, and of creating a more brotherly atmosphere among Christians who breathed the same air and who were already united by so much.'"

Sometimes, some 'Traditionalists' speak as if all 'Ecumenism' is an aberration to be blamed on Vatican II and roundly condemned. I think is is right to keep reminding ourselves that the sort of approach embodied in the Church's current legislation is broadly in line with immemorial praxis in the Catholic Church.  

THE FOLLOWING SECTION relates to the Russian Church: Readers of this blog will not need to be reminded of the toleration accorded by S Pius X with his own hand to the request of Metropolitan Andrew Szeptycki that "he be granted a faculty, communicable also to confessors, for dispensing the secular faithful from the law by which communicatio in sacris with Orthodox is prohibited, as often as they shall judge it in conscience to be opportune" (Rome, 17:2:1908).

It is also well to remember the neat point made by Benedict XIV, that all sacramental communicatio cannot be totally excluded on principle because every 'mixed marriage' is a Sacrament of which one Catholic and one non-Catholic are the ministers.

Reunion offers these references: Catholic Herald, 13 February 1959; Unitas, Summer 1959; Eastern Churches Quarterly, Winter 1958-59; Irenikon, XXXII, 3, 1959.

S Gregory Palamas

A kind friend has sent me a copy of the weekly newsletter of an American Melkite parish which observes the Gregorian Calendar and, today, the Second Sunday in Lent, is commemorating both S Gregory Palamas and the Holy Relics.

I regard S Gregory as one of the Church's greatest Doctors of Theosis, the vocation of every Christian to live out his share by adoptive filiation in the Divinity of the God-Man Himself. He was also one of the most forthright preachers I know of the Doctrine that the Most Holy Mother of God is the Mediatrix of all Graces. How can she not be?

He was not in canonical communion with the See of Rome!

His Commemoration was put onto this Sunday by a Patriarch of Constantinople a few years after his death and canonisation. Neither that Patriarch, nor the Synod which had canonised S Gregory, was canonically in communion with the See of Rome.

The lawful line of the Patriarchs of Antioch, successors of S Peter and of S Ignatius, happily came back into full communion with the other Petrine See in the 1700s; it is a jolly coincidence that, only a few days ago, we celebrated the old Roman festival of the Pontifical Chair of S Peter at Antioch. But, in the years that followed, S Gregory was an embarrassment. Latin theologians often deemed it their duty to call him a heretic. So, in the 1800s, Patriarch Maximos Mazloum, a great pontiff who had secured  from the Ottomans legal recognition of his Melkite people, placed the Commemoration of the Relics on this Sunday, displacing the remembrance of S Gregory Palamas.

I find it a matter of great joy that the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch (etc.) now keeps both of these observances. Thus the commemoration of S Gregory has re-acquired full Petrine authority. Envious Latins may also observe that Byzantine liturgical instincts do not share the superstition that gripped the Vatican's monomaniac 'liturgical reformers' of the 1960s, the idea that any day may have only one strong liturgical theme.

Some silly games are currently being played by PF and others with increasingly liberal strands of Lutheranism. In reaction, some traditionalists have, perhaps naturally, taken refuge in rigorist attitudes towards shared Sacramental Communion with any Christians not in full and canonical communion with the See of Rome. But these attitudes cannot, without considerable violence to history, be made to apply to Sister Churches (that is to say, dioceses) with valid ministries and Sacraments, which are true (though wounded) Particular Churches. This fact, consistently asserted in the Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI (Communionis notio, Dominus Iesus), simply reflects what had been the realities of ecclesial life under the Magisterium of successive Roman Pontiffs throughout the previous five centuries, down to and including Blessed Pius IX and S Pius X.

I shall return to this later today.

24 February 2018

Pontifical logic

"By their fruits you shall know them".

A difficult 'principle' to operate in practice. Or is it?

It is well known that Blessed Paul VI discerned the smoke of Satan in the post-Conciliar Church. Does this give us carte blanche to condemn the Council?

The Bergoglian Church is riven with strife and hate-filled enmity; depending on your viewpoint, there are evil women and men obstructing the Spirit-filled initiatives of the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of S Peter; or alternatively, the corruptions of the World, the Flesh, and of Satan have infiltrated and perverted the very highest level of the Church Militant.

By their fruits ...

Whichever of those two options fits your personal view, a sombre jugement would seem to hang over this pontificate.

Perhaps this dominical maxim should not be brought into the arena of 'Church Politics' ... by  either side.

23 February 2018

Can Black really be white?

Are you up to date on Bulverism ... google it if you don't know about it. I suppose we could coin a cognate verb and say that PF was Bulverising when he waxed eloquent last year on the deep and dark psychological maladies of all those ghastly young people who have Incorrect and Unbergoglian Tastes in liturgical matters.

It seems to me a term with possibilities. One could say "Don't you Bulverise me, you ..." in a very hostile tone of voice.

A thing I do not quite understand is PF's purpose in quoting before Christmas from the Commonitorium of S Vincent of Lerins.

The passage he alluded to also includes, though PF did not quote it, the phrase eodem sensu eademque sententia. Derived by S Vincent of Lerins from the text of S Paul, it was used by B Pius IX, incorporated in the decree on the papal ministry at Vatican I, and contained in the anti-modernist oath. Very significantly, it was used by S John XXIII in the programmatic speech he gave at the start of the Council ... What the Council taught, so he laid down, was to be in the same sense, the same meaning, as the teaching of the preceding Magisterium. S John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor made clear that it applied to questions of morality as much as to those of dogma. Benedict XVI used this same sanctified phrase in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia about the Hermeneutic of Continuity. I have recently repeated a series of mine on this phrase which you could find via the search engine on this blog.

Eodem sensu eademque sententia: because the teaching of the Church cannot and does not change.

If this phrase means anything at all, it must mean that the teaching of Familiaris consortio (1981; paragraph 84) and of Caritatis sacramentum (2007; paragraph 29), that divorced people who, having gone through a civil form of marriage, are in an unrepented sexual relationship with a new "spouse", should not approach the Sacraments, cannot already ... in less than a decade! ... have metamorphosed or "developed" into its exact and polar opposite.

Even Jesuits, even the Austrian aristocracy, whether or not adorned with umlauts, cannot really expect to get away with black being white, with non-X and X being identical. Come off it, chaps ... Magnum Principium stat non contradicendi!

22 February 2018

Anti-Jesuit jokes

Unaccountably, jokes which are less than friendly towards the Society of Jesus seem currently to be in vogue. Back in the 1840s, we were widely and popularly regarded as Jesuits in disguise. So naturally, I've been wondering what more recent contributions to this genre our Anglican Patrimony can offer for the common good of all Catholics.

The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall recorded this anecdote about Dom Gregory Dix. I gave it a run once before, in 2014, and I retain the original thread for your yet greater enjoyment.

Dix was invited, by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons, to lecture his clergy on Spirituality. In the ensuing discussion he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality. Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was most unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

There was a great burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, "Father, that was a very Benedictine sentiment".

The Eminent chairman leaned across and whispered to Dom Gregory, "That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus".

21 February 2018


Readers will be aware that I do not enable any comments which even delicately hint at anything even remotely like Sedevacantism. Even if a Bishop of Rome were personally a heretic, even if, like Pope Honorius I, he actually promoted and propagated heresy, he would still be pope. I have no doubt whatsoever about this. And it is the duty of every Catholic to be in Full Communion with him. Sedevacantism is illogical and unhistorical rubbish.

But I must admit that I have no worked-out solution to the following very hypothetical hypothesis.

Suppose a pope were, additionally, to require of every Catholic explicit assent ex animo to heresy as a necessary condition for Communion with himself, what would be the situation?

I think this is humanly impossible in the current pontificate, because PF likes to operate by creating a mess and being imprecise and trusting to Time being more powerful than Space. It is inconceivable that he would waste the energy which would be needed to be precise enough to specify a heresy in a way that would be juridically watertight. Moreover, he would run the risk of putting himself in danger, and I think he is far too fly an individual to do that. Genuinely, I am asking about something genuinely hypothetical.

I'm not terribly keen on receiving lots of ranting comments, either one way or the other. But I would value sober and sensible materials for a solution to this problem. Especially, historical analogues. Unless you feel that this scenario, like an erroneous ex cathedra definition, is something the Holy Spirit can be relied on simply to prevent.

Does S Athanasius ...

And, yes, poor Dr Doellinger is a terrible warning to us all about the dangers inherent in getting answers to this sort of question wrong ...

20 February 2018

Aidan Nichols, Amoris laetitia, and Tucho

In his lecture on the current crisis in the Roman Magisterium, the full text of which, sadly, is not available, Fr Aidan Nichols justly oberved that the moral 'teaching' of Amoris laetitia, if not corrected, will "increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion. And that will do more damage than can easily be repaired".

In fact, the currently dominant tendenz has made no secret that this is precisely the plan: a plot to poison the very wells of magisterial teaching. As Archbishop Fernandez has publicly put it, "There's no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he has already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anybody can repeat those things without being sanctioned".

There have been heretical popes in the past, but I doubt if there has often been a pope who (according to one of his closest collaborators and admirers) has cunningly plotted to enable heterodox teaching to erupt and flourish  under his successor(s); and thus to undermine in advance the teaching of future popes. Strangling renascent orthodoxy before it has the chance to be born, if you will forgive my descent into rhetoric.

Did even Pope Honorius I dare to attempt that?

Fr Aidan Nichols and the people "who ought to know better" UPDATED

Since, mysteriously, the full text of Fr Aidan Nichols' lecture will not be made available, we must make the most of the passages which the Catholic Herald published. [UPDATE: See my post of earlier today.]

By the way: that lecture is highly important, and not only because of Dr Nichols' considerable theological prestige. It addressed the points that some of us did our best to articulate in our Correctio. I do beg you to read and reread it, and to pass its teaching on to as many people as you can. [UPDATE: As the bergoglian pressure-machine cranks up into top gear, pressing for a final Result, interventions such as Fr Aidan's ought to be as widely known as possible.]

Today, I give you Fr Aidan's words on whether popes can teach error.

"It is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly ... this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better." [UPDATE: I wonder if poor Cupich is aware of this.]

"Doctrinal howlers". Gerhard Cardinal Mueller reminded us ... aptly ... of the abrupt observation of S Robert Bellarmine to the pope of his own day: "Holy Father, you know nothing about that."

Fr Aidan Nichols, and the Amoris laetitia Crisis UPDATED

A correspondent asks me why Fr Aidan Nichols doesn't speak up about Amoris laetitia. He did so. I republish below an updated piece I wrote about the lecture in which he did just that.

 Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. The Catholic Herald gave a report on 18 August 2017, which is still there, only a google away.  I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty laundry in front of non-Catholics?

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; the man who insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and iterated fluency can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But, as you will forgive me for reminding you, I have often tried to explain on this blog that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which can make any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. Such a papacy is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to consider. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis. Nor should they accept it, because it is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]"

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, since Amoris laetitia, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the noisy bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to show that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often loudly called.

19 February 2018

Fr H's Spring Examination

(1) "When I perceive resistance, I try to talk." In no more than a hundred words, discuss whether these words (spoken by someone who has refused to meet four Cardinals when they begged him for a meeting)indicate a seriously defective memory or merely a mind for which Truth is a tertiary consideration.
(2) "The question is not that of changing doctrine, but of digging deep and making sure that pastoral practice takes into account the situations and what persons are able to do."  In no more than 100 words, discuss how this Paradigm Shift should be applied either to a confirmed and recidivist paedophile or to a public servant assigned to extermination duties during a genocide. Credit will be given if you estimate how deep the digging should go.
(3) "You are, objectively, committing a very grave evil, and if you understood what you were doing, you would be heading for H**l. So, as I accompany you on your journey, my advice to you is to take care to remain in invincible ignorance, so that I can in good conscience advise you to approach the Sacraments". In no more than 100 words, discuss this advice in the light of Amoris laetitia.

18 February 2018

Pillula Dicit ('The Tablet says') UPDATED

Does PF really get 50 bits of paper handed to him each day, as Mr Lamb of the Tablet (infra) asserts? A different media outlet informs us that it is 100. One wonders what the figure will have been inflated to by the time Scicluna makes his report.

There are sections of the Tablet which you can read free on the Internet. I have to problem in Conscience about doing this: since I pay them nothing, I can, I hope, feel fairly confident that just reading it on my computer screen does not make me complicit in their promotion of their own version of Christianity.

In their latest number, my eye was caught by the headline "Zero tolerance is the only way". "Ah", I thought, "our old friend Pedophilia again". It's only a few weeks since PF assured us yet again that his own policy towards that vice is "Zero tolerance". But no; the Tablet reference was to a current problem in the British 'Charity' world. One of our biggest charities, Oxfam, appears to have been employing people whose motive was not so much to feed the poor as to get posted to impoverished countries where they could enjoy wall-to-wall sex at very advantageous rates. And there has been a sheepish acknowledgement that some of the human beings, made in the image of God, whom this sporcizia has been defiling, were probably children. So it is Pedophilia; or, to be fair, Pedophilia Plus.

Memories; memories. The first Oxfam outlet was, I think, in the Broad Street, near Thornton's Bookshop, now, sadly, no more. It was there ... the Oxfam shop, I mean, not Thornton's ... that as a very callow undergraduate I bought my first decanter. It was quite cheap because there was a chip off the stopper. Those were the furtive days when one concealed from one's guests that one was giving them 'South African Sherry'. I still use that decanter. Nowadays, of course, Oxfam promotes Abortion and Contraception, so, to be fair, their miscreant employees were doing nothing worse than consistently following a coherent and widespread ethical system shared by their own organisation: the prioritisation of sexual licence.

And in the same issue, you can discover how the Tablet recommends you pronounce Cupich; evidently ... oh dear ... the Pill thinks we are all going to be pronouncing that dismal disyllable quite often. And you can watch a video of Cardinal Soapy's Cambridge lecture with the questions and answers. Ever a thoughtful pastor, His Eminence explained that, in the Confessional, when we promise amendment, amendment means getting "closer to the ideal".

Please, dear Reader, forgive me for making, in what follows, a point I have made before.

Suppose, in the confessional, somebody confesses to child abuse, pleads diminished responsibilty on the grounds of sick obsession, so that his offences are subjectively no more than venial, and promises to "come closer to the ideal". Perhaps he says "I will cut my abuse down to just once a week". "I will only abuse boys/girls who genuinely seem to enjoy it". "I will be much less penetrative". That ... am I right? ... will, in the eyes of our new Bergoglian ethical Paradigm, constitute a move in the right direction, so that one can warmly commend and then absolve this penitent? Yes? Surely Yes?? At least, one ought not to "make the Confessional a Torture Chamber"? Have I got all this right? If not, why not?

I then moved on to a piece by Christopher Lamb. It concerns the letter which, apparently, Cardinal O'Malley was supposed to have handed to PF with regard to the Bishop Barros scandal. Lamb assures us (is this what the PF clique is now putting around in preparation for a cover-up?) that PF is handed 50 things a day and really can't be expected to look at them all. Really? Then PF's irritable outburst to the Press, claiming to have received no evidence, was rather ill-judged. And his infuriated suggestion that you should just send him the evidence is rather undercut by the fact that ... apparently ... he's unlikely to look at it even if you do. Lamb reminds us that, for PF, not a subtle man, 'reforming the Curia' means sackings, so that there are now fewer people around to help him look at those 50 troubling daily items. But Lamb's piece (the man is no fool) does show a real and growing unease about the shabby realities of this pontificate. If even the Pill is starting to notice ...

In the great big vulgar world of commerce, can there be any doubt that such a CEO would be facing strong pressures to consider his position?

Let's end back with Cupich. He seemed very uncertain about Holy Scripture. "I'd have to look that up"! And his interesting reliance on the deservedly well-known Dominical logion "I came not to teach you but to give you life" seems to overlook the popular murmur "He teaches not as one of the Scribes but with authority"; not to mention that great long section in S Matthew which people call 'The Sermon on the Mount', where the Man who is Torah Incarnate steals away our every sinful comfort with his insistent and prescriptive "But I say unto you".

Perhaps that 'Sermon' would be better Lenten reading than anything put out by PF and his sycophants. Especially if it were accompanied by revisiting the masterly dialogue between Professor Joseph Ratzinger and Rabbi Professor Jacob Neusner, in the middle volume of Jesus of Nazareth. Their exegesis of the Sermon is every bit as sparkling (and now even more relevant) as when they wrote it.

17 February 2018


Those of you who keep an eye on the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO [how to get one? See below] will have noticed that, after None today, before Vespers, those strange words are printed. "The Spring Part of the Breviary begins". Why on earth didn't the spring volume start on Ash Wednesday, with the beginning of the new season of Lent?

In earlier days, the First Sunday in Lent was given the title CAPUT QUADRAGESIMAE ... the Start of Lent. Because for most of the first millennium, there was no Ash Wednesday! The Gesima period continued up to the First Vespers of the Sunday.


The Church began with just the Easter Fast, of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Then a fast of 40 days was prefixed to the Easter Fast. That got us back to the First Sunday of Lent.

Then all that background was rather forgotten; and people began to say that, since Sundays are not a fast days, that gave us only 36 days of fasting.

So they added, in the eighth century, four days before the First Sunday to make up 40 days. So the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, of Quinquagesima Week were grabbed by Lent.

But it still remained true that the distinctive things about the Lenten Office ... in particular, the Lenten hymns and all that sort of thing ... didn't begin until the First Vespers of the Sunday. They still don't. Such is the laudable conservatism of the authentic Roman Rite!

That's why the clergy still don't pick up their Lenten Breviaries until the eve of Sunday.

So, for more that a thousand years, the Breviary Office did not bring all its Lenten features into play until four days after Latin Catholics had put ashes on their heads, and fasted, on Ash Wednesday!

BEHOLD the amazing conservatism of the Roman Rite ... until the Age of Hannibal Bugnini and his elite squad of elephants!


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