14 January 2055

Nostra aetate (6) ... two recent popes

In 1980, addressing a Jewish gathering in Germany, B John Paul II said (I extract this from a long sentence):
" ... dialogue; that is, the meeting between the people of the Old Covenant (never revoked by God, cf Romans 11:29) and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time ..."

In 2013, Pope Francis, in the course of his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, also referred to the Old Covenant as not having been revoked. I commented on this earlier.

First: a few words about status.

Pope John Paul was addressing a meeting of Jews, which makes it improbable that he can be said to have been speaking as Successor of S Peter and formally binding members of the Catholic Church. Moreover, his words were uttered, as Common Law jurists put it, obiter; that is to say, they were a passing remark and not given as a considered judgement upon a disputed  question.

As we saw in an earlier post, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who must be presumed to know about these things, expressed a strong conviction that Evangelii gaudium is not part of the Magisterium.

It would, however, be profoundly unsatisfactory to leave the matter as though we had merely wished to establish that the words quoted lack any binding quality upon the Catholic conscience and thus to avoid a difficulty. It would be to imply that our beloved Holy Father was in contradiction to the teaching of his predecessors down to very recently. In accordance with the Hermeneutic of Continuity, we should attempt to think intelligently about how his words do express a coherent doctrine in line with the Tradition of all the Ages.

I am not a dogmatic theologian; others can certainly do this better than I can. But I tentatively suggest that one way of approaching this is to distinguish by means of the two adverbs 'Salvifically' and 'Eschatologically'. Salvifically, the Old Covenant is of no effect. It has been 'emptied', in the word used by Pope S Leo the Great and explicitly cited by Pope Pius XII. Of course, God's uncovenanted mercies may extend to individual Jews, just as to individual Moslems or Agnostics who are in invincible ignorance. But Article XVIII of the Church of England speaks for the wholeness of Tradition when it anathematises (anathematizandi sunt) those* who say that "every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law, and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved".

Eschatologically, however, S Paul teaches that God still loves the Jews because of 'election', that is, his first covenantal choice; and that his covenant faithfulness with them will, at the End, the Eschaton, be vindicated when they finally come to him through their Lord and Saviour Christ in penitence, faith, and obedience. Benedict XVI changed the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews in his Extraordinary Form so as to pray that God will "illuminate their hearts so that they acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men"; that the God who "wishes all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth, will grant that as the fullness of the nations (gentium) enters his Church, so all Israel will be saved". Lex orandi lex credendi ... if this is not a solemn doctrinal statement by a very recent pontiff, probably the most learned pope since Benedict XIV, I do not know what is.**

I am certain that John Paul II and Francis were also speaking in this same Eschatological sense. The fact that others argue otherwise seems to me a grave ecclesial disorder and a very considerable skandalon in the Catholic body. It is to argue for a hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. It is to argue that, in a historically very brief period, there has been a complete U-turn in the teaching, indeed, in the basic doctrinal grammar, of the Catholic Church. It is to assume that (on what both sides of this debate seem to agree is an extremely important question) one pope flatly contradicted, in a doctrinal matter, what his predecessor had established only half a decade earlier. To say that this is what happened is to attempt a complete subversion of the Petrine Primacy. It is not only to expose all papal utterances to contempt, but also to advance a thesis and to promote a cultural trajectory which will feed the fires of Sedevacantism***.
* Anabaptists; such as the Matthew Hamant who was burnt at Norwich in 1579. (De Haeretico comburendo was still in use in England as late as 1611 ... Elizabeth Tudor was quite a Traditionalist in this respect).
** This action involved modifying an unbroken liturgical tradition going back (so the great Anglican liturgist Geoffrey Willis demonstrated) to the middle of the fourth century. This is, surely, significant. It must be even more significant that Benedict XVI did not simply extend to the Extraordinary Form the Prayer for the Jews which was already established in the Ordinary Form. It is highly improbable that this (rather obvious) option never occurred to him. Instead, he devised a new form closely in line with the teaching of S Paul in Romans. His action cannot be considered obiter; he performed it after a considerable controversy had arisen, and as a formal and authoritative resolution of that controversy. The fact that his solution was so carefully biblical would, in an earlier age, have been deemed to add to its force and to resound to his credit, rather than to be an offensive outrage.
    I have seen it suggested, by a professional Catholic ecumenist, that, since Good Friday comes but once a year, and not many people attend the Extraordinary Form, and those who do will not understand the Prayer because nobody knows Latin, the action of Benedict XVI can be disregarded and we can all get on together with the happy work of promoting still further the Two Covenant Error. This view seems to me to express such an extreme and overt contempt for the Magisterial prerogatives of a Sovereign Pontiff, lawfully exercised, that I am, uncharacteristically, lost for words. (Praeteritio there, would you say?)
*** Since I wrote these words, I have read that one Fr Paul Kramer, a transpontine clergyman, is reported to have become sedevacantist because of what Pope Francis wrote. Yes, I know, he is an eccentric individual anyway ... to put it mildly ... has been for some time ... yes, OK, I heard what you said ... but all the same ...

13 January 2055

Nostra aetate (5): the recent Papal Magisterium

The sort of people who would violently reject the points I am making are the sort of people who would not be impressed by the the Council of Florence. So I am going to confine myself to the Magisterium from the time of Pius XII ... since it is increasingly coming to be realised that the continuum of processes which we associate with the Conciliar and post-Conciliar period was already in operation during the Pontificate of Pius XII ... to the present day.

In 1943 Pius XII published his encyclical Mystici corporis. He did not discuss Judaism as a topic; the fabric of Christian discourse had not yet so disintegrated as to render necessary the sort of polemic in which I am presently engaged. But, in laying the foundations of an exposition of the Ecclesia, he wrote as follows. "With the death of the Redeemer the Old Law was abolished (abolitae) and the New Covenant (Testamentum)  took its place (successit); it was then that the Law of Christ, with its mysteries, its laws, institutions, and sacred rites, was ratified for the whole world by the blood of Jesus Christ. ... by his death on the Cross he made void (evacuavit) the Law with its decrees and fastened the handwriting (chirographum) of the Old Covenant to the Cross, establishing the New Covenant in His Blood which he shed for the whole human race. 'At that moment', says S Leo the Great, 'there came about so evident a transition (translatio) from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the multitude of sacrifices to the one Victim, that when the Lord gave up the ghost the mystic veil, interposed to hide the inner paets of the Temple and the secret sanctuary, was rent with sudden violence from top to bottom'. On the Cross, then, the Old Law died (mortua est) - soon to be buried (sepelienda) and to become lethal (mortifera futura) - and was succeeded by the New Covenant (Novo Testamento cederet)..." As was the custom, this passage in the Magisterial opus of a very recent pope (I was a sixth former when he died) was very adequately propped up with Biblical, Patristic, and Conciliar references. I am confident that these words are a very fair summary of the assumptions of two Christian millennia.

But was this consensus set aside in the Conciliar or in the  post-Conciliar period? We turn to one of the great exegetes of the post-Conciliar 'look' - Cardinal Jan Willebrands. Willebrands was no Ottaviani. He had a finger in every exercise of aggiornamento and every 'ecumenical' outreach of the Vatican. In 1985 he signed Commission for religious relations with Jews; notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church. Here are two paragraphs of that document. "In virtue of her divine mission, the Church which is to be 'the all-embracing means of salvation in which alone the fulness of the means of salvation can be obtained'* must of her nature proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. Indeed we believe that it is through him that we go to the Father 'and this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent'. Jesus affirms that 'there shall be one flock and one one shepherd'. Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer of all 'while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council'*". The inner citations I have asterisked are from Unitatis redintegratio and Dignitatis humanae of Vatican II. This is not surprising since, at the Council, Willebrands was responsible for drafting some of its most sensitive documents (Ecumenism; non-Christian religions; Religious Liberty). Despite this experience, despite his high-profile stance in the establishment of new relationships with non-Catholics, he was evidently completely unaware that Vatican II, in whose processes he played such a significant role, had in some way mandated or even encouraged belief in 'two parallel ways of salvation'.

Equally unaware of this alleged revolution was, it appears, another of the bright young things of the sixties, a peritus at the Council, another of its drafters. In 2002 Joseph Ratzinger was to enunciate (in an interview) the teaching of S Paul that "in the end all of Israel will be brought home. It is another question, how far, with the rise of the Church - the people of God from all nations - and with the coming of the new covenant, life under the old covenant, a life that remains closed to the new covenant that comes from Christ, is still a valid way of life ...We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel too will say Yes to Christ ... " Does that mean that Jews will have to recognise the Messiah, or ought to do so? "That is what we believe ...".

So do two specific utterances ... one by B John Paul II and one by Francis ... contradict the Magisterium of all the ages? The next post will finish off this series; and my apologies to those who didn't need to have any of this explained to them because they knew it already, and have accordingly been rather bored. My thanks for some very helpful contributions on the thread.

10 January 2055

Nostra Aetate (4): Is the Two Covenant Theory a necessary revolution?

We have seen that the Two Covenant Theory, the idea that Jewry alone is guaranteed Salvation without any need to convert to Christ, is repugnant to Scripture, to the Fathers, even to the post-Conciliar liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is also subversive of the basic grammar of the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. Throughout  two millennia, in Scripture, in Liturgy, in her classical teachers, the Church of East and West has relied on the hermeneutic of typology ... the relationship between the OT Type and the NT Antitype which fulfills and replaces it. Even non-Christian intellectuals and scholars can understand this. Frank Kermode, in his 1975 classic The Classic gives as examples "Christ makes Jonah the type of his resurrection, and S Paul the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites a type of baptism". He goes on: "A type can therefore be identified only by its antitype, a later event in a providentially structured history; the Old Covenant is a type of the New. Types are essentially what Auerbach has in mind when he speaks of figurae, events or persons that are themselves, but may presage others. Their purpose, to put it simply, is to accommodate the events and persons of a superseded order of time to a new one."

To accept the Two Covenant Theory has the advantage that Catholic ecumenists can hold their heads high and win smiles when among their Jewish friends, safe from the fear that they may be accused of antisemitism and bracketed with Adolf Hitler. It has the disadvantage that it requires a radical evisceration of Scripture and of the Liturgy, and a massive expurgation of the texts of the Fathers which will be allowed to be read. Hymns, too, will need to be eliminated or rewritten. S Thomas will be a major sufferer here: we will no longer be allowed to sing Et antiquum documentum/ novo cedat ritui or  ... novum Pascha novae legis,/ Phase vetus terminat.//Vetustatem novitas,/ umbram fugat veritas,/ noctem lux eliminat.  This seems to me a very high price to pay for giving a puff to the more intolerant among the Jewish community (particularly those who are so intolerant that they even require Christianity to change as a prerequisite for dialogue).

The Two Covenant Theory, lamentably, has spread so far and so wide that good and well-meaning people speak and write as if it were true, and may hear it even when it is not spoken. Jorge Bergoglio, in a document which is non-Magisterial, wrote "their covenant with God has never been revoked" (EG247). This statement echoed a remark obiter of B John Paul II. Such a formula can and should most certainly be situated in a Magisterial context in which it can be understood and justified (I plan to do this in two later posts). I would be perfectly content to say it myself. But I would feel uneasy if I did not explain further what I meant. Pope Francis wisely followed it by the contextualising remark two paragraphs later that "the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah". I very much hope that readers read this with as much care (and lengthy thought) as they did his previous remark. If they did so, damage will not have been done.

The fact that even a writer who is also Bishop of Rome can express himself in a way which might seem to some to be ambiguous, brings home to all of us the message that we need to be very careful. And that, the more we encounter this error, the more we are obliged to refute it. This is awkward; sane and pleasant people naturally flinch from expressing themselves in a way which some non-Christian Jews have taught themselves to regard as offensive. In any case, we have better things to do with our time than to spend it offending any members of the Jewish people, especially beloved of God, and running the risk of seeming to some of them to align ourselves with nutters and nasties and plain bonkers Nazis. But:

For all men and women, without exception, Christ is Saviour.
To be continued in just two final posts, after a brief break for more frivolous considerations.

9 January 2055

Nostra Aetate (3): the post-Conciliar liturgical Magisterium

Lex orandi lex credendi. I have been examining the Two Covenant Dogma: the fashionable error that God's First Covenant, with the Jews, is still fully and salvifically valid, so that the call to saving faith in Christ Jesus is not made to them. The 'New' Covenant, it is claimed, is now only for Gentiles. I want to draw attention at this point to the witness of the post-Conciliar Magisterium of the Church; particularly that of the Liturgia Horarum. Critics who prefer the post-Conciliar Magisterium to that which preceded; who posit a rupture between the two; who hold in high regard the post-Conciliar liturgical dispositions; will be bowled over by this evidence!

The revisers, you remember, introduced a completely new set of lections to the post-Conciliar Office Book. I suggest that it would be instructive, as you read the LH daily, to make notes every time you catch the patristic lection saying or implying that the Jewish dispensation is superseded. If you had begun to do this a few days ago, you would have made a marginal note against a phrase in the Homily (3) of S Leo which you read on Epiphany Day: "... benedictionem ... qua se filii carnis abdicant ..." [the Blessing of Abraham from which his children by the flesh are excluding themselves]. This is not some set-piece attack upon the Synagogue; S Leo speaks like this quite naturally, and does not need to argue the statement, because 'Supersessionism' is the basic assumed theological substructure of the Faith he shared with the other Fathers. "Intret, intret ..." he goes on: "let the fulness of the Gentiles enter into the family of the Patriarchs and let them, the children of promise, receive the Blessing". (Quite possibly it was S Leo who wrote the Supra quae of the Roman Canon in which we claim Abraham as our  Patriarch.)

The following day, S Peter Chrysologus applies to the Jews and Gentiles the Dominical promise that the First will be Last and the Last will be First ... I doubt if he would have approved of a phrase I read somewhere recently that the Jew is the Christian's Elder Brother. A couple of days later, S Proclus of Constantinople says that to both Jews and Gentiles equally God grants salvation through Baptism. Another few days: S Faustus tells us that, "by Christ's working in Galilee, wine is made; that is, the Law recedes, Grace takes its place; the Shadow is removed and Truth is made clear ... the ancient observance is transferred into the New Testament [in novum testamentum observatio vetusta transfertur]".

But perhaps this is peculiar to the Epiphany Season? Plunge with me at random into the middle of the Weeks per annum ... let's take Weeks XVII and XVIII ... immediately we descend upon S Cyril, who is having no nonsense about Two Covenanants. Both Wednesday's and Thursday's readings find him unambiguously referring to the rejection and repudiation of the previous covenant; and asserting the replacement of the old Gathering* of God's people by the new Gathering*. And - goodness gracious - in the next week we find "Barnabas" in the Office of Readings - a writer not known for being what S Paul would have called a Ioudaizon; the second excerpt from him begins "tauta oun katergesen"[therefore he swept all that away].

These lections have the greater significance in that they are not accidental hangovers from the old Breviary; they were newly introduced by Bugnini's associates. What all this clearly demonstrates is: not only did the conciliar decree fail in any way to mandate such a dogmatic revolution as the Two Covenant Dogma would have implied; but also that, as late as 1971, even those in charge of the liturgical revolution, up-to-the-moment trendies who saw themselves as the guardians and exponents of the 'Spirit of the Council', had not the faintest idea that they were supposed to be selecting patristic readings against a background of a Two Covenants Dogma. Nobody seems to have worried them with the assertion that Nostra aetate made all those patristic readings unacceptable. Nor, thankfully and significantly, have successive revisions of the post-conciliar Office eliminated these passages. (Ouch ... I hope this piece of mine doesn't lead to loads of trendies descending with deleting pencils on the Liturgia Horarum.) Until very recently, the supersession of the Old by the New Covenant/Testament would have seemed so clear and basic a part of the Christian hermeneutic of Scripture that our examination of the texts we have just worked so laboriously through together would have seemed a time-wasting demonstration of the ******** obvious.

Yet there was the most almighty hooha a few years ago about the EF and its Good Friday prayer for the Jews, even including criticism of Pope Benedict XVI when he supplied a new collect strictly, even slavishly, in line with the words of Romans. And it is not unusual for Christians (both Evangelical and Catholic) who withold consent from the Two Covenant Dogma to be criticised. This is done not only by rabbinic interests naturally and forgiveably anxious to deter any erosion of their flocks but, perhaps more vehemently, by 'Christian' participants in inter-faith dialogue ... such as members of Councils of Christians and Jews. I wonder how balanced such groups are; in other words, whether it is only the sort of people who are ardent adherents of the novel dogma that put themselves forward for such groups; whether those who select  the membership are careful to exclude Biblical Evangelicals and Patristic Catholics.

I recall with wonderment the decision of the Anglican diocese of Manchester some four years ago to call off the sale of a redundant church to the SSPX because of its adhesion to the traditional Good Friday prayer for the Jews. What other potential purchasers besides the SSPX would have elicited the Bishop of Manchester's  ill-judged and nutty veto? (Do they refuse to sell property to Moslems?) Presumably that illiberal diocese keeps the Prayer Book Society** firmly under a rigorous diocesan ban; presumably the "MPs, peers, Manchester City Council" who, so the Church of England told us, were all such fierce and expert critics of the SSPX, have their eagle eyes upon the PBS too.
To be continued.
**"Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so bring them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ..." Part of the Prayer Book Good Friday Oratio Sollemnis for the Jews .... and for others ...

*Greek ekklesia.

8 January 2055

Nostra Aetate (2): S Paul and his sungeneis

S Paul loved his fellow Jews, his 'kinsmen' and believed "the gifts and call of God are irrevocable". He believed that at the End, those among them who had rejected Christ would be brought in to the chosen people. He believed that they were like olive branches which had been cut off so that the Gentiles, wild olive branches, could be grafted in. But, when the fulness of the Gentiles had entered in, Jealousy would strike the unbelieving Jews, and they too would enter in.

In all this, we have to be careful to make clear that we are - or rather, S Paul is - talking about those Jews who have rejected their Messiah. Not all Jews. Just as so often in the OLd Testament, there is a faithful remnant, mentioned by S Paul (indeed, it included him, the other Apostles, and the Jerusalem Church): those Jews who have shown faith and obedience. So, at this stage, the Church, God's Chosen People, the True Israel, consists of a combination of the faithful, remnant, Jews, and of Gentile converts.

At the End, the complete parallelism between the Jews and the Gentiles will be manifest. All have disobeyed, so that all may receive mercy. There is no suggestion in Romans that the unbelieving Jews will 'enter in' in any other way than the Gentiles and the 'faithful remnant' Jews have entered in: by faith and obedience in Jesus Christ. S Paul's whole logic is subverted if we assume that, all along, he is keeping hidden up his sleeve the somewhat relevant fact that the Jews do not, after all, need through Faith the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ at all. If that had been true, why did S Paul bother trying to convert them? Why did he become all things to all men, now behaving like a Jew and now living the Gentile life, if  'saving' some Jews matters not at all because they will in any case enter in on the grounds of what they already had before the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection? Why, throughout Acts, do we find him enduring every hardship, every tribulation, in his attempt to convert Jews ... as well as Gentiles?

'Ed' Sanders, who initiated the 'new look' in Pauline studies back in the eighties, was a liberal who thought that the whole Pauline construct of Judaism ultimately entering in by faith in Jesus Christ was insupportable in a modern context. But he was compelled to admit that this is what S Paul does mean.

This is not, as the media cheerfully and repeatedly inform us, something peculiar to unreconstructed, 'extreme' Catholics. The doctrinal standard of the Church of England, the Book of Common Prayer, asks God to "Have mercy upon all Jews ... and [to] take from them all ignorance, hardness of heat, and contempt of [his] Word: and so [to] fetch them home ... to [his] flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ... ".

To be continued.

7 January 2055

Nostra Aetate (1)

Since the Council, an idea has been spreading that Judaism is not superseded by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; that Jews still have available to them the Covenant of the old Law, by which they can be saved. It is therefore unnecessary for them to turn to Christ; unnecessary for anybody to convert them to faith in Christ. Indeed, attempting to do so is an act of aggression not dissimilar to the attempt of Nazi Germany to exterminate that people. This is sometimes called the Two Covenant Theory.

This view is widespread among non-Catholic 'Ecumenists', and is increasingly taken for granted even within the Church by the professional 'Ecumenism' industry. It is suggested that this doctrine is mandated by the Council. And, underlying, reinforcing it, is the guilt felt by many in Western Society about the Shoah; and the determination of Zionists and their sponsors to characterise anybody who dissents from this growing consensus as 'Anti-Semitic'. I had better say at once that my father served in two wars, the second fought against Nazism; that I was all of four years old when Hitler died; and I am dashed if I am going to be made to feel guilty for what Hitler did to the Jews and nervously rewrite my own beliefs so as not to offend them. Any more than I would consider it appropriate for the intellectuals of Tel a Viv to regard themselves as obliged to feel personally guilty for what the Turks did to the Armenians.

The Conciliar Decree Nostra aetate is central here, and is commonly cited as evidence that the Catholic Church now imposes the new consensus upon all Catholics; that anybody who attempts to evade this must be a holocaust-denier or even a crypto-lefebvreist (Lefebvre's father, incidentally, died in a German concentration camp). A reading of the relevant sections of this document soon reveals that it does not come within a million miles of suggesting that the Jews are the only people who do not need Christ; or that the Jews are the only people to whom the Gospel should not be offered. It speaks with admirable force against anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination; it rightly demands that the Jews should not be regarded as uniquely responsible for the killing of God Incarnate. (It does not say that the Jews are the only race who should not feel guilty that their sins caused the death of Christ.)

Two phrases in Nostra aetate might lead someone to suppose the novel dogma to be intended. The Jews, the Council says, should not be presented as 'reprobati' or 'maledicti'; rejected or cursed. Indeed, they should not. This phrase simply puts the Jews in the same position as every other race. They have "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" ... just as each and every other race and every individual has done. But God has not placed them under some unique condemnation, any more than he has, say, the French or the Hottentots. They do not have some particular curse put upon them, any more than Chinese or Americans do. God's mercy is as available to them as it is to French, Hottentots, Chinese, and Americans; and on the same light and gracious terms. The paragraph concerned (4) needs to be read through to its end, which is a glorious passage about the all-embracing love of Christ, his death for all, the duty of Christians to preach the cross as Mercy for all. The Council Fathers make no suggestion that this applies to every human being, to every human grouping  ... except to the Jews.

The other passage is Romans 11:28-29, a passage also cited in Lumen Gentium, which I plan to discuss in the context of the teaching of S Paul.

I think it is worth adding pro tanto that, in Tissier de Mallerais' biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, I have not found any suggestion that the Archbishop had any problems with Nostra aetate ... as he did with Dignitatis humanae, the document on Religious Liberty. Had the Council really reversed 1900 years of Christian doctrine about the status of Judaism, it is hard to believe that its critics in the SSPX and elsewhere would have failed to spot it and noisily to denounce such a radical doctrinal change.


30 November 2015

Obeying the Council: the importance of submission to Councils

It is, I hope we would all agree, extremely important that the Council, like all Ecumenical Councils, should be treated with respect and its wishes put into effect.

This is why I am disturbed that some Jews, and some Moslems, are allowed to go around without being distinctively dressed so that it can be seen who is Jewish, who is Moslem, who is Christian. I also have a suspicion that some Jews may even go outside their homes during the Christian Sacred Triduum. This is clearly both illegal and disgraceful, since it is explicitly forbidden by the Council, and with great emphasis.

And, moreover, the SSPX is to blame for not rigorously demanding, in season and out of season, that Jews and Moslems should always wear their distinctive dress.  I cannot recall a single SSPX document which adequately emphasises this important decree of the Council. Frankly, this raises difficult questions about the SSPX itself. Since it so manifestly treats important enactments of the Council with apparent indifference, it is important that it should be denied faculties, and kept at arm's length, until it unambiguously undertakes to do all it can to embrace and enforce the Conciliar decrees regarding Jewish and Moslem dress, down the the last comma, the last detail.  Frankly, I blame Bishop Fellay for this indiscipline. He is a man who, to my knowledge, has never spoken loudly and publicly enough about the importance of the distinctive dress which should be worn by Jews and Moslems. Can you show me one single statement of his about the need for all Moslem women, as the Conciliar Canon implies, to wear the hijab? No group can truly expect to be in good standing unless its submission to the Council, as to all the Church's Ecumenical Councils, is total, unequivocal, and ex animo.

It is not as though the Council to which I am today referring [Lateran IV (vide Canonem LXXXIX); it closed on November 30 2015] is some minor Council. Because of the large numbers of bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs which attended it, it was sometimes called The Great Council. It promulgated the Dogma of Transsubstantiation. Could any Council be more important than Lateran IV?

I hope nobody, on the thread, will dare to speak slightingly about the duty of all Catholics to accept without question every jot and tittle of Lateran IV, as of every other Council. Moreover, its Spirit, easily collected and inferred from its canons about the exclusion of Jews from public life and the iniquity of their usurious behaviour, not to mention the problems of miscegenation, is also something which it is the duty of all Catholics to accept with enthusiasm. Isn't it? You know I'm right.


We live in a dangerous world, in which some people tend to be or pretend to be depressingly blind to literary genre. I hope no reader of this blog is so blind as to fail to detect my irony all through the above piece. I neither like nor subscribe to the teaching of Lateran IV about the Jews as being suitable to our time, nor do I condemn the SSPX for being lukewarm about that teaching. My view on Councils, prescinding from those Conciliar decrees (with attached anathemas) which strictly define dogma, is that their teachings and edicts, even if appropriate to the time of the Council itself, which I believe one is at liberty to doubt, gradually merge into the quiet background noise of the life of the Church. I have no doubt that this applies to Lateran Canon 89 as much as it does to Vatican II Dignitatis humanae. But both of these were completely 'valid' Ecumenical Councils; a truth which, I believe, no Catholic is allowed question. I also believe that no Catholic should read the non-dogmatic texts of any Council, or of any Roman Pontiff, without applying a contextualising nuance. Catholics are not fundamentalists. Councils, and popes, when not defining dogma, can, quite simply, be wrong. Especially fifty or more years after their time.

Newchurchier days

I have just read, on the blog of His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson, Bishop of Broadstairs in partibus infidelium, the following revelation about the Novus Ordo Mass: "by a devout priest its ambiguities can all be turned in the old direction". He also demonstrates that "clearly not all consecrations of Novus Ordo bishops and ordinations of Novus Ordo priests are invalid either".

Woe and alack the Day! The Church was taken from us and became 'newchurch'; the SSPX was stolen and became 'newsociety'; now that Williamson has himself emerged from his chrysalis revealed as 'newwilliamson', whither will the faithful remnant turn?

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people - you know whom I mean! - whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (I very much hope that its Sunday proper lections will one day be authorised in a Supplemental Optional Lectionary for the Ordinariates), gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because they are some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman and Prayer Book Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wondered if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this 'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [he is absent from the pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe]. Very happily and appropriately, our new Ordinariate Missal, now all of two days old, restores the S Pius V form of the Libera nos, with its prominent reference to S Andrew.

What a shame that the modern Roman Rite has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition. Not least because not only is S Andrew the Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and of several Orthodox countries; in Kiev, where tradition has it that S Andrew planted his wooden Cross, there now stands one the world's baroque masterpieces, the great Church of S Andrew (now a Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church). Closer to home, his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. It was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral, once the Northern Powerhouse, as Mr Osborne would say, of the Palatinate.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus. And so many toasts to polish off! Duty calls!

29 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (8)

Advent Sunday! And a new start! From today, the Ordinariate Missal is authorised in all three Ordinariates. The formal authorising document, signed by Cardinal Sarah (who is reported to have commented "Why can't we have something like this?"), makes clear that it is granted by virtue of faculties conferred on the CDW by the present Sovereign Pontiff the Holy Father Pope Francis. So, just as the post-Conciliar Missal is known as the Paul VI Missal, so, for the rest of time, this Missal will be the Pope Francis Missal! When everything else about Bergoglio is, sadly, completely forgotten, by this he will be remembered!  Exegerit monumentum aere perennius!

Viva il Papa! Viva Francesco! Vivant omnes!

Mark Pattison (2): Problems of Concelebration

Mark Pattison did not confine his uncomprehending contempt to women and papists; anybody who seemed to him to stand in the way of his own boundless self-esteem aroused his helplessly intemperate verbal malevolence. In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably and with total certainty knew that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his infuriated reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since, so long ago now, I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time. For once, the pastiche of Pattison's style confected by Mgr R A Knox (Let Dons Delight, Notes to Chapter VII) is, yes, very funny, but not funnier than the reality (ht to the erudite Sue Sims for the Knox reference). Could any satirist ever have imagined that even a self-obsessed bigot like Pattison would give away his own interior corruption quite as obviously and risibly as in the above sentence?

28 November 2015


I am reprinting here (with its original thread) a piece I wrote last spring; in which I made a proposal very similar to a suggestion which, unknown to me, was being made elsewhere ... see the thread ...

I know it's a bit long, and rambles. The essence of it is the bits in bold print.
 Essentially, in this new Dark Age marked by a culture of ostensibly (for we can none of us know the conscience of another) unrepented mortal sin, we need to do whatever can be done to destroy the culture of Almost Inevitable Communion. You may have better ideas than I do about what, practically, can be done. But it seems to me that a basic starting point is the elimination of the Communion Procession. It creates an impression that everybody will receive Communion. It even puts pressure on people to receive communion when they have no desire to do so. In human terms, it is difficult to avoid a fear that it lead to sacrilegious communions. When the person who is directing the Communion gets to the pew in which a person is sitting, it may for some people be embarrassing to be the only person in the row who does not obediently rise and follow directions up to the Altar. We cannot be sure that we are not almost forcing people who may not be in a state of Grace to receive the Sacrament, and doing so, as I explained in an earlier part of this dissertation, in a changed situation in which there are entire categories of persons ('remarried divorcees', 'couples living together', 'Lesbian and Gay and Transexual couples') whose situation objectively contradicts the reception of Communion but who also, in my opinion, most certainly should not be made to feel awkward or odd or conspicuous if they refrain from communion.

And the grim little shuffle up the church in a queue rather like the queue in the bank or supermarket, is just about the last thing that needs to be decked out with some bright new ritual 'significance', yet another ritual straightjacket. "Walking to the Lord together", indeed. What utter, utter, twaddle. But I've read it.

I will conclude with a couple of historical observations, not because they enable me to try to prescribe details of a new praxis but simply because I think we need a wider general perspective on this matter than current praxis gives us.  

In the first millennium, in Ireland, there were innumerable 'monastic' sites. But who were the 'monks'? Burial sites have revealed to the excavator female and infantile inhumations as well as male. It seems that the term monk meant, not a person vowed to celibacy, but someone who was not living adulterously or promiscuously. Perhaps a hermit, but more probably a couple living in the bonds of Marriage. These people were thus, apparently, firmly distinguished from others whose lifestyle was not marked by evidence of chaste living.

And there is evidence that, in the area surrounding the first millennium Irish oratories, there were different physical  levels in which different categories stood to worship. Nearest to the oratory, the monks. Further away, penitents. You get the idea. Everyone in his Order.

We need to move back to a liturgical culture, not (Heaven forbid) of turning people away from the Christian synaxis; not of implying by word or gesture that they should not be here: but of accepting them, welcoming them, as they are and where they are, without a judgement which it is not ours to pass, so that within the Christian community they can grow in love and understanding. As the Irish did more than a thousand years ago, we need to provide for the subchristianised in our congregations a culture in which it is the universally understood thing that a lot of people don't receive communion; that there's nothing odd or unusual about 'not going up'; it is thoroughly natural and normal not to communicate at Mass; nobody will wonder what's 'wrong' with you. (And it's not their business anyway.)

How about this for size: a down-to-earth practical system would be the distribution of Communion from the tabernacle before or after Mass; or, in big well-staffed churches, continuously during Mass in a side-chapel with a tabernacle. And with a presbyter permanently in the Confessional at the same time. Freedom! No regimentation! No grim shuffles up to the (extremely ordinary) Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister! The freedom just to walk around your Merciful Father's house as His free children during Mass, feeling completely at home and doing your own business, whatever it is! No need to feel that self-righteous people are staring at you judgementally!