16 July 2018

PF and the Ordinariates

There was a circumstantial account, when the Ordinariates were set up, that Archbishop Bergoglio invited to breakfast the [Anglican] Archbishop of the Southern Cone ... or something ... and cheered him up by telling him that he disapproved of the action.

Some weeks ago, PF spoke to a delegation from the Moskow Patriarchate and assured them, very categorically, of his most profound disapproval, and prohibition, of 'Uniatism' [to be fair, there was one brief clause asserting the rights of the existing sui iuris Churches].

I think this more or less confirms the old story.

PF also reiterated on this occasion his belief in the practical irrelevance of doctrine.

The text was immensely characteristic.

15 July 2018

Personally ...

Brother Yankie Doodle, who has not always been averse to Changing Regimes throughout the World, is all of a sudden getting enormously indignant about Brother Russkie interfering in his politics. I find this richly hilarious.

But, a fortiori, if it is true that American political structures really are so risibly fragile, so vulnerable to a sharp little fixer like Vladimir Vladimirovich, you'd think Yankie Doodle would want to conceal such a humiliating fact rather than boasting about having been made such a laughing stock.

I shall never understand the Yankie national mindset (I am not assisted by the fact that most Americans I know tell me that they also fail to understand it). But if DT and VV really were to establish a fruitful relationship, I think it could be very good for all of us.

Perhaps all those Nasty Neocons might be dressed up in orange jumpsuits and then Specially Renditioned to Siberia or to a waterboarding facility on a rapidly melting Arctic ice floe somewhere to the North of Murmansk.

14 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 6 [Conclusio]

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.
This lovely text is a translation by G Moultie of a formula (Sigesato pasa sarx broteia) in the Liturgy of S James; which may be the oldest rite still used in Christendom except, of course, for our immemorially ancient Roman Rite. I have recently been discussing the contrast between the theology of Consecration in that Rite, and that in our own Roman rite.

It is indeed a splendid hymn, and the concept of the Lord's eucharistic epiphaneia is beautifully expressed. Generations of Anglican worshippers have been moved by the picture of the host of heaven spreading its vanguard before the Lord as he descends from the realms of endless day to stand on earth upon the altars of our churches. Long may its use continue.

But it it is instructive to look back at the Greek original. Moultrie has done a bit of a naughty in his translation, because, instead of speaking of Christ our God to earth descending, what the Greek actually says is: 'Christ our God is going forth to be slain in sacrifice' (proerchetai sphagiasthenai). And that is language which causes problems for some people - unnecessarily. Christ did die but once for all upon the cross, as the Reformers never ceased to declare, but his one sacrifice is beyond time in God's everlasting Now. God's 'Once' is not locked into one moment in one place in History ... it is not imprisoned in 33AD.

Think of it like this: God could have chosen to create nothing, but to exist in his own social, Trinal, simplicity. If He did choose to create, He could have elected to create just one moment. He could have created, for that one moment, just one place. We never think about it; but, surely, that is the most obvious, sensible, 'clean-cut', unmessy, thing to do. Yet that isn't what He did. In that tremendous eccentricity which is rooted in the very nature of the Divine Act of Creation, He created a multiplicity of times and a multiplicity of places. Within those multiplicities, He could have created just one, monic, being to exist and to be loved; but He chose instead to create a multiplicity of beings. And so it is into that complexity of times, places, beings, that His 'Once for all' is graciously communicated. The sacrifice of the Eternal Son is, in the Mass, made 'sacramentally' present on earth, in and to that plurality of the times and places which the Creator God in his fluent generosity has given to the innumerable multitudes He has created in which to worship Him and to work out their salvation. And whenever it is so made present, Christ our God does "go forth to be slain in sacrifice". Furthermore, each Eucharist, bestowed from Eternity into Time, is not merely the offering of a monic being, but of Christ in his social body the Church, associating with him and in him those who are partaking in that new Mass in that new moment, so that the sacrifice of the Mass is ever one and unchanging and rooted in Eternity, and yet for ever here and for ever new.

So I've never had any problems with that offertory prayer in the Sarum Mass, in which the priest referred to hoc sacrificium novum. But, of course, the 'Reformers' did object, and the idea of a nova mactatio has come to be regarded as one of the worst corruptions of medieval Catholicism. It is good to have the Rite of S James to remind us that this way of employing language is not only sound and wholesome but is guaranteed by the witness of East as well as of West.

Throughout the Church, and throughout its history, different notions of the relation of Christ's One Sacrifice to the actual text and movement of the Liturgy have, quite harmlessly, been held. In the Greek version of the  Liturgy of S James, this (Sigesato) text is used to accompany the Great Entrance; as if the Bread already is the Lord, making his way to Calvary and to Sacrifice (both Great Entrance and Sigesato are absent from the Syriac version of the rite). Theodore of Mopsuestia clearly believed that the Elements processed in by the deacons were already the dead Body of Christ, "a Body which will very shortly rise to an immortal being". As one writer has put it, "Theodore's idea is that the elements, by the mere fact that they are the offering of the church, are already the Body and Blood from the moment of the offertory". Some Oriental epicletic formulae accordingly ask that the Holy Spirit may show (not make) the Bread to be the Lord's Body. The idea that the offertory pre-consecrates can also be found among the Assyrians and the Armenians, and would appear to be implied by the custom, which I first witnessed in Oxford in the 1960s, of aged Russian Grand Duchesses, in their black dresses and weighed down with jewelry, prostrate on the ground during the Great Entrance. These Eastern instincts, in a curious sort of roundabout way, witness to the convention we have discerned in the classical Roman rite, that it is essentially the Father's acceptance of the Church's Offering which is consecratory, not the Divine Response to a Petition for the Descent of the Spirit.
This series is now complete. I will now consider any comments submitted. Please attach any such comments to this final instalment.

13 July 2018

Hey Ho ...

 ... desptite my dissuasives, there will probably be some  Comments offered during my period sequestered from incoming traffic. I am about to go through them ...

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

Today is the (30th) obit of one of the greatest intellectual figures of the last century. Mohrmann it was who demonstrated that Liturgical Latin, like Liturgical Greek (and one thinks of Church Slavonic and Church Coptic), was an artificial construct deliberately invented so as to be as worthy as possible for the August Sacrifice (forget the creaky old Protestant and 1960s superstition that 'the Primitive Church' was dead set on 'vernacular' liturgies designed to be 'understanded of the people').

One of the tragedies of the 1960s was that a particular version of a 'Liturgical Movement' got its grip upon the minds of superficial 'professional liturgists' who had their sticky hands upon the levers of power. Men (yes, I think they were all men) who were deaf to Mohrmann's scholarship and her immense erudition. Men (well, let us say half-men) who knew what was best for little Johnny and insisted on little Johnny's jaws being clamped open while they force-fed him with their revolting gruel.

In those middle years of that century there were other very competent women liturgists. I wonder if the "Liturgical Reform" would have been less disastrous if it had not been forced through by an insensitive illiterate narrow-minded fascist androcracy.

Curious, isn't it, that our male culture went pretty well straight from a crass and arrogant assumption that the little woman had little capacity for intelligent thought, all the way to a servile and creepy subordination to every whimsy of femino-fascism.

Men are such odd creatures.

12 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
But ... quam oblationem ... the prayer in which the Church beseeches the Father that her Oblation may be given-the-OK (benedictam) and written-on-the-list (adscriptam) so that, being accepted, it may become the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word ... is not yet a completed sentence, because it carries on qui pridie quam pateretur ... Thus, the Church goes on to recall, in a subordinated relative clause, the Episode, the Last Supper, on the grounds of which she asks that the consequences of acceptance will indeed be transformation.

Qui is an important word in the Church's life of prayer. A common pattern, which goes back to pre-Christian prayer in the Roman and Greek worlds, is (1) to address a deity, then (2) to recall some attribute or undertaking of that deity, and finally (3) to make the intended request. The logic (going back perhaps to a sense that a deity needs to be convinced or cajoled, even threatened or bribed, or that it will consider itself bound by legal precedent) is that (2) gives the reason why it reasonable to ask for (3) with an expectation of success. Latin has a handy little verb impetrare, which cannot be translated by one single English verb because it means to-ask-and-to-get. Impetratio is at the heart of successful prayer in the ancient world ... I don't think a Roman would waste his time praying if he had no grounds to hope that he was in fact impetrating. So the qui, who, which links up (2) with (3) in effect means something very much like forasmuch as. Almost legally, rather as in the preamble to a British Parliamentary statute*, we tell God why our prayer deserves to be an impetratio. And the qui which links the 'Institution Narrative' to the Prayer for Acceptance which preceded it, has very much this character. So, surely, the logic of this entire passage we have been looking at is: Accept our Offering so that it may become the Lord's Body and Blood forasmuch as the Lord himself guaranteed that Bread and Wine, being thus accepted, would become His Body and Blood.

In our Latin shorthand, we think of this as constituting the Verba Domini as 'consecratory', and this is a very sensible way of thinking and talking (the Church of England adopted the same principle in 1662). It is an extremely ancient view, quite possibly going back to when Christians first started to think logically about such matters. Notoriously, it is given vivid expression in the Byzantine East by S John Chrysostom (c347-407); in Syria, Severus (should I call him Saint?) 'monophysite' Patriarch of Antioch (c465-538), shared it (Dom Gregory Dix was dead chuffed to discover this fact in one of Severus's Letters); and it is found in the Slavic East as late as the first edition of the Orthodox Confession (1638) of Peter Mogila, Metropolitan (should I say Patriarch?) of Kiev (1596-1646). 

It is true that 'the Great Church of Constantinople', replying in 1896 to overtures of unity from Leo XIII, alleged that "The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils used to receive [the teaching that] the precious gifts are hallowed after the Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit by the blessing of the priest", apparently thereby implying that the Church and Rite of Rome did not exist in the centuries between Nicaea I and Nicaea II in 787. But this only proves that we Latins are not the only ones who quite often say and do extremely foolish things. Happily, a few years ago a writer in the theological journal of the Moscow Patriarchate declared himself content with the Roman Canon.

It is a shame that the dominant school among the fashionable intellectuals of the Western Church in the 1960s did not share this contentedness.
_____________________________________________________________________
*I think the English 'Reformers', with their Tudor legalese, would have used the term 'warrant'.



11 July 2018

SSPX

The Society's General Chapter, so I believe, begins today.

We live in times when faithful Catholics, whenever they meet, exchange views about the present situation in the Whole State of Christ's Church Militant Here in Earth. This must inevitably also be true of the SSPX. And, all the more so, since the Society cannot avoid being compelled to make prudential judgements about its own relationships with the Holy See.

One can only feel immense compassion for those involved in such decisions. On the one hand, the Society's bishops are now thirty years older than when they were consecrated. If they were to be supplemented sine mandato Apostolico, that would incur new excommunications latae sententiae; so there would have been a real step backwards in de facto relationships.

On the other hand, nobody needs to be reminded of the way Rome is capable of treating those whom it has at its mercy. And, despite the rhetoric, Mercy is not a hallmark of the present regime.

Being a cynic, I tend to think that any agreement ought to secure the independant financial state of this dear and admirable Society, so that, if subsequently there were Roman bad faith, the Society could resume its former course undamaged. 'Hands off the Cash and the Property' seems to me a most important consideration. Collaring the Kaboodle appeared to be one of the main motives of the savage Visitatorial regime imposed upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate. But what can I know about the intricacies of the present situation?

What I am sure of is that the members of the Society are our beloved brethren in the Lord for whom at this time we have a considerable obligation to pray. And, in doing so, also to give thanks for all that the SSPX has done for the maintenance of the Faith.

As one of those who generated the Filial Correction, I cannot forget that H E Bishop Fellay was the only Successor of the Apostles who gave it his signature.

10 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 4 (is the Novus Ordo the "Roman Rite"?

(As regards comments, see the first part of this)
If you go to a Novus Ordo Mass, the spine of the Altar Book will make a claim that it is the "Roman Missal". But is it? Does it ... I quote a British Television commercial ... do what it says on the tin? I do not think that anybody who has carefully thought these things through could answer Yes. Fr Joseph Gelineau, described by Bugnini himself as "one of the great masters of the international liturgical world", a liturgical radical who wholeheartedly applauded what happened after Vatican II, did not make that claim. He wrote "We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone." He did not share the ignorant view sometimes put forward, that the post-Conciliar 'reform' was analogous to the edition of the Roman Missal published by the orders of S Pius V ... ("If it was alright," people say to us, "for Pius V to bring out his own Missal, why couldn't B Paul VI do the same?") You will all have heard and read that sort of thing; but you won't have heard it from Gelineau. Gelineau was not 'one of us', but he was neither ignorant or stupid. He wrote "We must not weep over ruins or dream of a historical reconstruction .... we must open new ways to the sources of life, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees. But it would not be right to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further, and forward beyond the conciliar prescriptions".

Klaus Gamber viewed the 1965 form of the Roman Rite as effectively the last form of that Rite. Archbishop Lefebvre used 1965 until, in the mid 1970s, he decided to revert to 1962 (during the 1960s he had allowed his Holy Ghost Fathers only two 'vernacular Masses' a week).

At the opposite end of the academic spectrum from Gelineau, Fr Aidan Nichols points out that "the Rite of Paul VI contains more features of Oriental provenance than the Roman Rite has ever known historically, and notably in the new anaphoras, for these are central to the definition of any eucharistic style". (He goes on to suggest how the Novus Ordo could be used, and that it could be renamed as the ritus communis). A very distinguished Anglican liturgical scholar, Dr G G Willis, wrote that "Rome has invented in its recent rites a hybrid form ... The Roman rite has hitherto kept out the epiclesis, as being inconsistent with its theory of consecration, and the introduction of Oriental elements (seen also in the acclamations of the people, which the new Roman revisions have introduced) would be better eschewed". Another mighty Anglican scholar, the late Fr Michael Moreton, was very firm and resolute about the need for the exclusive use of the Roman Canon. So should we Latins all be. The chaps that know, know.

The Novus Ordo rite as commonly presented is not the Roman rite.** I would grant it to be arguable that if one used only its First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, what one celebrated might still ... just about ... yes, I know there were outrageous tamperings with the Verba Domini ... be fairly called the Roman rite, without infringing the Trade Descriptions Act too badly. But not a Mass celebrated using one of the new, Orientalised, epicletified, Eucharistic Prayers. And the pseudo-Hippolytan ultra-short Prayer is the one in almost universal and invariable use throughout the 'mainstream Church' ... despite the hopes expressed in the GIRM that the Roman Canon be used on Sundays and Festivals. Accordingly, the Roman rite proprie dictus, it has to be admitted, has now almost entirely died out in most of the Latin Church, except in such places as Oratories and Ordinariates and the FSSP and Christ the King parishes. And, of course, the SSPX.

It seems to me a cause worth taking seriously, to restore the Roman Rite to use by using exclusively the Roman Canon. The GIRM itself has pointed to this by saying, in each edition it has been through, that "This Prayer may be always used" (Editio tertia para 365 semper adhiberi potest); a comment it makes about none of the other anaphoras.

Such a reform could be introduced gradually in three stages:
(1) Weaning a congregation off Prayer 2 by using Prayer 3 and taking it slowly;
(2) Using Prayer 1 shortened by leaving out all the sections within brackets;
(3) Using Prayer 1 in its full integrity. 
One might add:
(4) Using the Extraordinary Form with the Readings in the vernacular, as permitted by Summorum Pontificum. 

 Furthermore, the Ordinary Form may be celebrated versus apsidem, and the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated versus populum. We have the same dilemma that faced old-style Anglo-Catholic clergy: to make all ones reforms at once; or to try to keep everyone on side by making them gradually!

**BUT IT IS A VALID MASS. Anybody who even hints otherwise is not teaching you the Catholic Faith, and may even be running the risk of leading you into sacrilege. I have to explain all this stuff quite frequently: I have lodged three of my earlier posts at 4 September 2014. The Novus Ordo may not be the "Roman Rite", but it IS still a VALID CATHOLIC MASS. In the Novus Ordo the Body and Blood of Christ ARE truly made present and ARE truly offered. That is as CERTAIN as anything in this life.  

9 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 3

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
The great Christine Mohrman pointed out the juridical nature of Christian liturgical Latin, and showed that it was in direct descent from the pagan cultic Latin used in the centuries ante Christum; for example, in the Prayer asking the Gods of a city under siege to leave it ... to leave the city and its homes and temples and streets and ... The principle is to cover everything and leave nothing out. So, in our Quam oblationem Prayer, the priest asks that our offering may be "on the list"(adscriptam)!! For a Mass to be valid, one realises, it must be on God's official list, just as there is no point in turning up at Heathrow and asking for a Boarding Pass unless your booking is in the computer. God must have said the OK to it (benedictam). Bene-dicere (literally, "to say well") is a verb closely linked in Biblical Latin to the idea of God "looking with favour" on an offering  ... that is, accepting it. Consider Genesis 4:4-5 ... Respexit Dominus ad Abel et ad munera eius. Abel, not surprisingly, is cited in our Canon as a precedent for divine acceptance. And so the Secret for Dominica VII post Pentecosten says: Accipe sacrificium a devotis tibi famulis, et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica. In other words, while the Epiclesis I quoted at the beginning from the liturgy of S James made itself rather lengthy by citing divine precedents for the sending down of the Spirit to work mighty change, the Roman Canon is content simply to mention the Biblical 'typological' precedents for divine acceptance of human Offering. Ratam ... acceptabilem make the same point about divine acceptance and ratification ... just as when you enter the USA and the Homeland Warrior asks penetrating questions about your motives for trying to do so ... this even happened to a son-in-law of mine who has American citizenship ... and then reluctantly stamps your passport making you ratus and  acceptus. Rationabilem relates to the Sacrifice as logiken rather than cruentatam but, none the less, acceptable.

It is not my purpose to discuss which of these attitudes is preferable, although I will admit to a strong preference for the theology of the Roman Canon, just as I would expect an Oriental Christian to feel most at home with the Eastern approach. There is a sense in which I would even agree with the idea that Diversity is essential to Catholicity! What I do wish to highlight is, quite simply, that they are different. And that they can't just be taken into the kitchen and shoved into the blender and mixed up. One of the very few things I object to very strongly about Orthodoxy is that it sanctions 'Western Rites' in which an Oriental Epiclesis has been violently shoved into the Roman Canon. I would complain with no less vigour if some daft Latinising imperialist tried to mangle or eviscerate an Eastern Anaphora. Each of our rites has its own integrity, its own logic, its own grammar. Neither should be bullied into conformity with the other. To do so ... I would go so far as to call it sacrilege.

8 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 2

(As regards comments, see the first part of this)
 Why this Gadarene preoccupation, in the 1960s, with epicleses asking the Spirit to be sent to change Bread into Body? The answer is embarrassingly simple. Pretty well all rites except the Roman had an epiclesis. Therefore it must be 'Primitive'. Therefore it was desireable. The alternative possibility, that Rome lacked an epiclesis because it was older than those other rites, occurred to very few. So, for a hundred years or more, the question had been (not why did the other rites add an epiclesis, but) Whatever Happened to the Roman Epiclesis ... deemed to have existed originally but, for some mysterious reason, to have gone missing. Readers who still have on their shelves The Mass by Adrian Fortescue can still find page after page describing the ingenious pursuits, by entire generations of clever and erudite men, of this particular invisible (well, to be frank, mythical) fox. The conviction was bolstered by an inclination to believe that all the existing rites of Christendom must have descended from an Original Liturgy which, at least in its dominant features, was fairly uniform, and could therefore, in principle, be reconstructed from a comparison of existing liturgies. This assumption, as the pendulum swings, is currently highly unfashionable; an Anglican liturgist called Paul Bradshaw has spent most of his life rebutting it.

But why should we not just add the epiclesis to the Roman Rite anyway? Would it not be an Enrichment? There is surely no real harm ...

I began the first part of this enquiry by printing an Eastern epiclesis of the Spirit; and the nearest equivalent which the Roman Rite possesses. Put simply, the East says Send the Spirit so that He may change bread into Christ's Body. While Rome says Accept our Offering so that it may become Christ's Body. In other words, awed by the great mystery of this Change, the East is convinced that the most powerful Force that there is - God the Holy Spirit - must be responsible, and needs to be invoked. Rome, in her humdrum way, has carried on with the earlier Christian belief that the simple acceptance by the Father of the Church's Oblation will mean that bread will be changed (in accordance with the definitive and prescriptive Word of the Lord at His Supper) into His Body. Accordingly, Rome has felt the need to be confident that the Father really has accepted the Oblation, while the East has been concerned to ensure that the Father really has sent the Holy Spirit ... at least, that is the conclusion I draw from the emphases within each respective Petition, the one Occidental and the other Oriental. So, in the West, as the sentence ends in which this Prayer for Acceptance is made, the bell is rung and the Priest is lifting up the Lord's Body for Adoration. In the East, solemnity attends the Prayer for the Spirit.

7 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 1

... and send out upon us and upon the gifts lying before Thee thy Spirit the all-holy, the Lord and life-giver, the thronesharer with Thee the God and Father and thine only-begotten Son; the coruling One; the consubstantial and coeternal; the One that spake in law and prophets and thy New Covenant; the One that came down in the appearance of a dove upon our lord Jesus Christ in the river Jordan and abode upon Him; the One that came down upon thine Apostles in the appearance of fiery tongues in the upper room of the holy and glorious Sion, on the day of Pentecost; this same Spirit of thine, all-holy, send down, Master, upon us and upon these holy gifts which lie before Thee; that coming upon them with his holy and good and glorious presence [parousiai] he may sanctify and make this loaf the holy Body of thy Christ and this cup, the precious Blood of thy Christ ... (Liturgy of S James, Tetralogia Liturgica of John Mason Neale).

Which oblation, we beseech thee, O Lord, that thou wouldest make in all things blessed, enrolled, ratified, reasonable and acceptable, that for us it may be made the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, on the day before  ... (Canon Romanus)

Well, the "Petitions for Consecration", in the ancient Eastern Liturgy of S James, and in our own dear and familiar Roman Rite, could not be more different. The Eastern rule is to leave hardly a noun without an adjective; its conviction is that one adjective is rarely as satisfying as two, three or four; its respect for Holy Scripture is such as never to lose a trick. I hope I am not insulting what is holy to my beloved Byzantine brethren if I call it flowery, Scriptural, and wordy. I hope my fellow Latins will not be too cross with me if I call our own rite lean, terse, matter of fact, and legalistic.

But what I wish to emphasise this week is the Elephant which is so conspicuous by its absence from our Roman Canon of the Mass: the Holy Spirit, who does not make it into the text until the Trinitarian Doxology at its very end. Indeed, much was made of this absence in the 1960s by the pensants who reformed the Roman Rite. Constructing new Eucharistic Prayers, they made sure that the Holy Spirit was called upon in each one of them to work the miracle of transsubstantiation. I remember similar stuff being churned out in the C of E: we neo-ordinati were to do the propaganda for these innovations  by descending on worshippers who from their tenderest years had listened to Cranmer's Eucharistic Prayer; we were to point out to uneasy individuals (who, I recall, could only be persuaded reluctantly to receive change by the categorical assurance that it would bring the Young People flooding in) that the Holy Spirit was all but missing, and culpably so, from Cranmer's sonorous periods. And so the revised Anglican rites were, as in the Roman Communion, fitted up, like Edwardian roues being forced into corsets, with Epicleses of the Holy Spirit. The great Begetter of liturgical reform in the C of E, Dom Gregory Dix, must have been rotating in his grave. He had, as recently as 1944, devoted a fair number of pages in The Shape of the Liturgy, to explaining that the Epiclesis was not 'primitive'; and to ensuring that his readers would understand what the implications were of such an importation (which had first been attempted in the C of E in the abortive revised Prayer Book of 1928).
This piece will continue in five more sections. I shall not enable comments until it is finished in all six parts, because it constitutes a whole.

6 July 2018

The Macarrick Scandal and Kieran Conry

Fr Lucie-Smith has recently written in the Catholic Herald "Given that his alleged misbehaviour has been widely rumoured for some time (I myself heard some of these stories when I was a student in Rome in 2000), it is only natural to ask why he was made a bishop, then an archbishop, and finally a cardinal, if his faults were common knowledge. If the people who were responsible for the appointments did not know, then they must explain their ignorance."

This precisely mirrors the unease I have several times expressed on this blog (apologies to regular readers) about the Kieran Conry Scandal.

Here again, rumours were rife within Sussex. And at least one account questioning his suitability had occurred in print around the time of his Consecration.

We have never been given any explanation of how he attained the episcopate. Not unnaturally, there have been rumours that Cormack M-O'C was involved. It may not be easy to check this, but presumably there are paper trails of some sort in the Nunciature and in Rome.

The plain fact is that the Great and the Good stick by each other. I believe that the case of the Anglican Bishop Peter Ball is currently under review in the British enquiry into sexual abuse. I remember speaking to one of Ball's highly placed 'Establishment' supporters about his misbehaviour, and being very loftily put down. And this even happened after he had accepted a police caution and resigned his diocese. Ball and his grand chums were by then putting it around that, although innocent, he had accepted the police caution in order to save the Church [of England] embarrassment.

The Conry business is, I am sure, quietly buried, and for good.

I would think more highly of the CBCEW if this were not so.

Lucie-Smith is right. Such appointments are too important to be left at the mercy of grand people who make remarks in the ears of other grand people.

Grand people do not always know best. Indeed, it can be surprising how often they get so many things wrong. This can be because they are so susceptible to the deceits of other grand people.