31 December 2010

Lose some, win some

In a minute's time, at midnight, clergy and laity in the Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and Fulham Apostolic Districts all suddenly become sedevacantist.

This may not constitute the End of the World.

The Bishop of Beverley, it seems, has cast himself in the role occupied in 1559 by Anthony Kitchin, Bishop of Llandaff. He should never have been made a PEV. People who have done time in the mainstream as suffragans are ipso facto unsuitable.

Indeed, the entire Northern Province appears to have entered a status in partibus infidelium. It clearly needs a new S Wilfrid to bring it tidings of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Faith. Orthodoxy abhors a vacuum.

Public School head masters ...

... how they do run for cover, like a lot of wee timorous conies.

The head of Clifton College, anxious to distance his establishment from a member of his CR who retired in 2001 and is now suspected of an offence, said that very few of the (present) teaching staff would ever have met him.

Really? Has there been a near-complete turnover at Clifton in only ten years?

It must be a pretty dodgy school if nobody wants to stay there teaching, or if masters have to be sacked for incompetence with such frequency that there is almost nobody there now who taught there before 2001.

How very droll, head master.

Pull the other one, head master.

29 December 2010

...Logotheta ...

Some good stuff on that thread.


I have been rereading the 2003 article by the Byzantinist liturgical scholar and Jesuit, Fr Robert Taft, which deals with the 2001 Decision of three Roman dikasteries and of Pope John Paul II with regard to sacramental exchange between the Assyrian ("Nestorian") Church and the Churches in unity with Rome. You will remember that this Agreement adopted the principle that the Anaphora of Ss Addai and Mari, which lacks Words of Institution, was nevertheless sufficient for a valid Eucharist.

You get here a rather embarassing conflict between two different concepts of "Tradition". There can be a "narrower" view (in this case the instence in the Latin Churches that the Words are essential to Consecration*). "Traditionalists" can point to enactments of a more recent Magisterium which appear to offer strong support to the "narrower" view. On the other hand, it is possible to take a "broader" view (such as that adopted by the Vatican in 2001 and supported by Taft) which looks at undoubtedly "magisterial" facts such as the acceptance by the Roman Church for centuries of the sufficiency of Eucharistic Prayers which lack the Words. Each of these viewpoints can with considerable plausibility claim the support of both Tradition and Magisterium.

Advocates of the "narrower" view could attempt to trump the "broader" by pointing out
(1) that Tradition develops; so that what Pius VII said in 1822, being later than the praxis of the first millennium, is more "refined", ergo more "definitive"; and
(2) that the early centuries developed consensuses which it is not now open to us to unpick: such as the Canon of Scripture and the Threefold Ministry.
They could then plausibly argue that certain minimum ingredients, or structures, in a Eucharistic Prayer have that same degree of immutable canonicity. Taft, in my view, fails to acknowledge the strength of such arguments as these.
To these considerations I would add another: the Narrative of the Last Supper constitutes the only pericope in the entire Pauline Corpus giving a detailed account - words and actions - of an episode in the incarnate life of the Word. S Paul tells us that he had handed on to his Corinthian converts the Narrative which he had himself received. This is very far from proving that the Narrative was part of a 'Pauline' Eucharistic Prayer ... but ... it does make one wonder.

Nevertheless, I find it difficult to dispute the position adopted by the Magisterium in 2001 and vindicated in Taft's paper. An example of a 'magisterial' enactment which everybody for centuries has been anxious either to forget or to bury: the Decretum pro Armeniis of 1442 laid it down (among other things, such as the consecratory nature of the Words) that the Porrectio Instrumentorum is the Matter of the Sacrament of Order. But not only has this decree been treated as of no effect by both Leo XIII and Pius XII, it was not even viable in its own day - since the praxis of the See of Peter then, before then, and after then, was to accept that the Orders of all the Eastern Churches were valid despite their lack of this 'matter'. Taft deals with such impasses by elaborating what he calls principles of "ecumenical scholarship". Before we succumb to the temptation to See Red at this invocation of the divisive crunch word "ecumenical", I think we need to be fairly sure that we have a solution up our own sleeves which is better than his. I must confess that I do not.

Interestingly, in Taft's "Priciples of Ecumenical theology" there are some sections [my italics] which seem to me to relate not a little to the question of the Ordination of Women.
(1) The theological foundation for this method is our faith that the Holy Spirit is with God's Church, protecting the integrity of its witness, above all in the centuries of its undivided unity ...
(2) Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Eastern Churches to be the historic apostolic Christianity of the East, and Sister Churches of the Catholic Church. Consequently, no view of Christian tradition can be considered anything but partial that does not take full account of the age-old, traditional teaching of these Sister Churches. Any theology must be measured not only against the common tradition of the undivided Church, but also against the on-going witness of the Spirit-filled apostolic tradition of the East ...
(4) Those who have unilaterally modified a commonly accepted tradition of the undivided Church bear the principal responsibility for any divisions caused thereby ...

It is worthy of note that the innovations favoured by some Anglicans in the matter of women in sacerdotal ministry run directly contrary to an emerging ecumenical methodology the dynamic of which is to reconcile the Churches in full Communion with the Roman See of Peter with those ancient bodies which lack the fulness of that communion. The Anglican ecclesial community is thus navigating away, not just from the current magisterial locus of the Roman See, but from an ecumenical construct which, if anything, is even broader, and yet more ancient, and with greater testimonies from the Spirit-filled life all the Ancient Churches, than we ourselves have claimed.

The advocates of such innovations have long-since made up their minds upon the basis of considerations which lack any awareness of such points as I make above. The time for rational argument with them has long since passed ... even if, given the blind dogmatism of our opponents, it ever existed. But it is natural for Anglicans considering an Ordinariate solution to be quite clear about the imperatives which drive them; imperatives which are broader and more fundamental than even we ourselves claim.


* The Order of Communion of 1548 and the Prayer Book of 1662 reveal that the Church of England is doctrinally committed to the narrowest conceivable expression of this Western convention; Consecration is effected simply by reading the paragraph [Jesus Christus] pridie quam ... Corpus meum.

28 December 2010

Invisible Saints

On my desk lie several ORDOs; I have just looked at the admirable S Laurence Press ORDO and the less admirable SSPX product*. On Sunday after Christmas ... back in those happy days before the Holy Family had migrated from Epiphany I to Christmas I ... SLP, reflecting the pre-Pius XII usage, gives S Stephen. SSPX, following the Bugnini dislike of Saints on Sundays, gives the Sunday (which SLP transfers to the free feria of Thursday; I wonder what the antiquity of this usage is and what readers think of it). SSPX does at least, unlike post-conciliar calendars, allow S Stephen a commemoration. Common Worship continues an Anglican tradition of allowing Saints to supersede Sundays except on Sundays in Advent, Easter and Lent ... or to be superseded and transferred ad lib to a free weekday. In fact, the earlier Anglican custom, dating from the 1928 Prayer Book Calendar (when full provision first began to be made for occurences and concurrences) and in use de facto until the reforms of 1967-1980, followed the pre-Bugnini Roman practice of favouring the Saint. There has been thus a consistent bias in the Anglican Patrimony of being more relaxed about Saints on Sundays than Roman tinkerers are.

Bishop Andrew Burnham's book commends this Anglican instinct. It has practical and didactic advantages: under the modern Roman system, Sunday worshippers never get exposed to all those Saints' days. Theologically, it might be pointed out that each time martyr sheds his blood in witness, this is an entering into, and expression of, the Pascha of the Lord's Suffering and of his Entrance into Glory; and is thus by no means unsuitable to be commemorated on a Sunday.


*I would be very happy to have look at the American SSPX ORDO, which is at least in Latin rather than in some degenerate Gallic Romance dialect. But Angelus press tell me that the packaging would make it prohibitively expensive for them to send me a review copy.

24 December 2010

Ordinariate pilgrimages (2) : Truro and Treguier?

I continue this occasional series based on the the Anglican Catholic tradition since 1533 by taking up again the clerical circle of the Fr John Tregear whom I mentioned recently (December 20): the Vicar of St Allen in Cornwall who translated into Cornish the Counter-Reformation Homilies of Bishop Bonner during the reign of Good Queen Mary. One of his associates was a Fr Thomas Stephyn*, Vicar of nearby St Newlyn, who was involved in a most diverting fracas in the port of Truro in 1537.

An agent of the Tudor regime, Alexander Carvanell, heard about a ship called the Maudelyn (M'gDALL'n to some North Americans) which, with Fr Stephyn and two other priests and a few dozen laity, was about to set sail for the Pardon** (patronal festival) in Treguier, Britanny, "faynyng a poope holly pilgrymage". The pious miscreants refused to allow the Tudor employees to board the ship; Carvanell and two assistants were at first thrown overboard. They persisted, and eventually the ship sailed off with the three government men as captives on board. Five miles out from Falmouth, the two lackies were put in a boat to row ashore, but Carvonell himself was carried all the way to Britanny. The pope holy pilgrims amused themselves by threatening to tow him behind the ship at the end of a rope.

The fun continued in Treguier; the Cornishmen explained to their Breton cousins the status of Carvonell, and the more devout among those who had gathered for the Pardon duffed him up beautifully in the streets of Treguier, "shuldryng and buffeting him as though he had bene a turke or a Sarzin". But he survived to get home and to report to the Council.

Fr Tregear, as we saw, lived out his days as Vicar of St Allen, almost certainly as a Church Papist priest. Fr Stephyn's future is much less clear. In fact, he disappears off the archival radar. But he comes into the tale of the Cornish language recusant manuscript which I wrote about earlier and which is called 'The Tregear Homilies'. At a later point in the history of this work another section, Sacrament an Alter, was added to it. This consists of a lengthy collection of patristic quotations on the Eucharist, and it has been shown that this was most ingeniously confected. The 1554 Oxford Eucharistic debates between Catholic and Protestant divines were, under Elizabeth, printed in Foxe's Acts and Monuments. A copy of this was later supposed to be placed in all churches. It rather looks as though Fr Stephyn simply copied out for the purpose of Catholic apologetic, and translated into Cornish, the Catholic citations in Foxe's Protestant blockbuster.

Perhaps Fr Stephyn's disappearance from the records means that he went into the Catholic underground. Perhaps the 'Tregear' volume went with him; in 1564 Fr Tregear, incidentally, was involved in passing on, presumably among those clergy whom he knew would make sympathetic use of them, books bequeathed by a traditionalist priest. Who knows; perhaps the volume of 'homilies' spent some time, not very far away from St Allen and St Newlyn, in the Lanhearne residence of the Arundell family, who had suffered in the aftermath of the 1549 rebellion; a house where the Blessed Sacrament never ceased to be reserved even during the darkest days - and where now the admirable Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate pray the Old Rites. May Mary conceived without sin pray for those who have recourse to her.


* Tudor clergy were of course either Master (Magister, when graduates) or Sir (Dominus, when not); my "Fr" is an anachronism. The facts in this post are indebted to the paper by D H Frost, which I mined before. I have made the assumption that the Sir Thomas Trebylcock mentioned in the Truro account as "paryshe pryste" of St Newlyn is the same as the Sir Thomas Stephyn whom we know to have been curate there of the absentee incumbent Master Ralph Trelobys. In the sixteenth century the same person could often go by a number of names, especially by both a patronymic and a toponymic.
**Pardon of S Yves, mid-May. Pam and I had marvellous fortnight near Treguier a few years ago with Middle Daughter and her husband and their children. It is a remarkable little city with very good seafood and ravishing pastries and a charming cathedral and cloister.

23 December 2010

My dear Wormwood

I must confess to being a little puzzled by your suggestion that the Unholy Office is in any way open to criticism. It is, after all, inappropriate for somebody as high up in the Lowerarchy as yourself to venture upon criticism of any of Our Father's Dikasteries; but least of all should you fail to cringe in terror before this particular organ for bad. Indeed, in future, I must ask you to refer to it by its proper title as the Congregation for the Perversion of Prelates and Priests. Moreover, you describe it as "over-staffed". I think, nay rather, I long for you to come to regret such a good term. True, the CPPP is by far the largest of all our departments, but it is undoubtedly the most spectacularly successful of all the groups who assist the Ministry of the Sovereign Tempter. The humans, on the walls of some of their older churches, have painted the Doom, the Final Judgement, with an amusing detail (how deplorable their capacity to derive the pleasure of laughter even from Damnation!): they show some of those who are rising from the grave to everlasting condemnation as marked with insignia of office. Several of these doomed figures are commonly depicted wearing a mitre or a cardinal's hat or a tiara. Believe me, if humans understood the half of it, they would have painted vast phalanxes of such mitred prelates waiting to be hauled, poked, or prodded by our worthy footsoldiers into the open mouth which leads down to the Infernal Playgrounds. For all that - and for so very much more - we have the CPPP to thank. You forget this at your peril ... a delicious word, peril ... redolent of the most exquisite culinary expectations ... but I must curb my digression ...

In particular, your suggestion that they "should have shut Ratzinger up" demonstrates not only a degree of disrespect for workers who, believe me, are very much worse than you, but also a quite woeful, not to say admirably punishable, misunderstanding of the broad lines of current strategy. Protocol 7/12/666, which was very adequately expounded at your seminary, explains clearly that Ratzinger appears to have a strong degree of protection. Accordingly, policy is - do you remember all this now? - to concentrate on the ready malevolence of those we have trained to report and comment on what he says or writes. The departmental bottoms at CPPP have successfully put in place a number of highly productive antinomies of the sort that the humans would describe as "Heads I win, tails you lose". Thus, if Ratzinger is silent on some topic, he is "failing to speak clearly". But if he utters ... even just one sentence ... it is rich material for misrepresentation. Such misrepresentations will be what stick in the mind of most hearers. Not for nothing have we slaved for centuries to ensure that as few humans as possible are capable of even the simplest logical processes. But little is lost if a few humans remain who do perceive an inkling of the truth: we have multiple fall-backs in place. One of these is to suggest that Ratzinger, even if admittedly correct, is "accident-prone" and "should have realised how his words would be misinterpreted". This, of course, neatly diverts into renewed condemnation of the man a perception which, if left unmanipulated, might have opened some human minds to the accuracy of what he had said.

You are particularly concerned that Ratzinger recently "blew the gaffe" on our strategy (8/5/999) of promoting 'relativism' in the 1960s/1970s. It is true that there are thousands of clergy trained in those decades, tens of thousands of 'moral philosophers' who taught at that time in very low-down universities, who will remember systems such as 'Situation ethics' which were propounded and widely accepted. (This in itself was a spectacular success on the part of the CPPP.) But those humans whom we control in what they call their 'media' had no trouble providing a very satisfactory gloss upon Ratzinger's words. With our help, they picked on a couple of truths: that such systems were widely held; and that the implication of these systems is that paedophile actions were not ex sese "wrong". And they ensured that two responses would be inevitable: firstly; when victims of paedophile priests were told Ratzinger believed "Everybody thought that sort of thing was All Right", they very naturally responded that, in their own communities, paedophilia was certainly not considered "All Right" by everyone. And, for them, this is perfectly true. At that time, common folk lagged sadly behind the sophisticated moral innovations of our friends in universities and seminaries and the Intelligensia. Many of those dreary peasants would not even have understood the meaning of the phrase 'trahison des clercs'. So, for them, the claim, attributed to Ratzinger, that "Everybody believed paedophilia was All Right" simply sounds like a lie.

The second response calls in aid the policy embodied in 4/3/969. This -I presume you will again need to be reminded - concerned the inculcation of the idea that "What everybody does/thinks" is automatically "Right". You and I, of course, know that such a principle would, for example, have made the Jewish Holocaust and the practice of Slavery and the Burning of Widows into acceptable systems. Indeed, we successfully used this very idea to erode the consciences of those we wished to become involved in the Jewish Holocaust. But only a few off-message academics realise the logical absurdity of treating "Everybody thinks it is Right" as equivalent to "It is Right". Most of the common people cheerfully accept this equivalence. So, when our workers were able to simplify Ratzinger's words into a suggestion that "Everybody thought paedophilia was All Right", the minds of many humans automatically glossed this as meaning "Ratzinger thinks paedophilia is All Right".

He's clever, the little Bavarian, but we have him by the short and curlies. What we are best at is turning his cleverness against him. And this is not just CPPP policy; it was explicitly approved by Our Father Below in his weekly audience with the Prefect of the Congregation, and ordered to be published. You will find texts in Acta Infernorum Locorum. Indeed, rumours down here suggest that it may soon be incorporated into a Diabolic Constitution. You had better watch your words, and keep just a teensy weensy bit more up-to-date in your reading ... if you know what is bad for you ... as (given my own very great desire for you) I profoundly hope you do not.

As loving, as hungry, as ravenous, as ever

Your Uncle


22 December 2010


As the people of the Three Kingdoms* shovel the unseasonal snow off their cars and listen on their radios to the journalists speculating on the newest attempts to combat Global Warming, I marvel that they accept these contradictions with such dazed passivity. (What is the Official Explanation? Is it the old notion that Warming will make the polar ice-cap disgorge massive icebergs which will then divert the Gulf Stream from our shores?) Happily, someone has dug up a piece from the Indescribably Boring in March 2000 about how Global Warming means that snow is pretty well a thing of the past as far as Britain is concerned. It cites the gurus of the Climatic Research Unit at the soi disant University of East Anglia as saying that snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event". (I rather think that these may be the jokers who got their fingers badly burned a few months ago when leaked emails led to unkind suggestions that they were doing an amusing line in suppressio veri.)

I went agnostic on all this business a few months ago, when the politically correct classes used the infallibility inherent in their new secular Magisterium to condemn "Global Warming Deniers"; these people are presumably to be reprobated and, soon, to be imprisoned, just like those daft Holocaust Deniers (I emphatically state that I do not myself also question the overwhelming evidence about the appalling genocide, a crime easily comparable with the Armenian and Stalinist genocides of the last century, inflicted upon the Jews during the Hitler years).

I wonder if readers would like to construct a Tridentine-style anathema to express the newly defined heresy of Global Warming Denial? Or, if there is a difference, Climate Change Denial? To remind you of the genre, I offer my own attempt at an anathema to condemn Holocaust deniers.

Si quis negaverit sexagiens centena milia* Hebraeorum malevolentia Imperii Germanici Tertii per annos belli quod Alterum et Universale nuncupatur interempta esse: ANATHEMA SIT.


*Three Kingdoms: the old way speaking about the British Isles - the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; technically obsolete (except among Jacobites who regard all 'statutes' since 1688 as null) since 1707 but still found in the pages of Jane Austen. Sexagiens etc. ... er ... is this how one does 6,000,000? The Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis offers milio and attributes it to Helfer.

21 December 2010


I don't know if you spot this too: it is uncanny how often the Pope mentions something in the Old Calendar or the traditional euchology. I'm sure that he has imposed upon himself a self-denying discipline of always using the Ordinary Form (until SSPX conform?) for his public and private masses. But he undoubtedly keeps an eye on Tradition. In his allocution to the Roman Curia, he repeated over and over again the phrase Excita Domine potentiam tuam et veni; although all those splendid old Excita collects were shifted off the Sundays of Advent by Bugnini's semi-Pelagian sidekicks. Another example: yesterday the Vatican Information Service quoted his words about S Thomas the Apostle.

It is, of course, pure chance that S Thomas the Apostle, in the Traditional Calendar, comes on December 21, just before Christmas; "Interrupting", as Dr Bugnini primly put it, "the series of the Great Ferias of Advent". My problem with the rational transference of the Apostle to July is that he seems an admirable Patron Saint of Christmas ... if you can get your minds round that rather bizarre formulation.

The old Roman Mass-texts for Christmas are full of Light; there is poured upon us the new light of the Incarnate Word; God has made this most sacred Night bright with the shining of the True Light; we know the Mysteries of His Light on Earth; the new Light of His brightness has shone upon our minds. This reminds us of the theme of Illumination which the Tradition has always associated with Initiation. So the Baptised might be called the Illuminati; the Johannine pericope of the Healing of the Man Blind from Birth may be part of the Lenten propers preparing for Easter Night. Faith is Enlightenment; Faith is when the penny drops and we see everything rearranged in a new pattern; Faith is not so much the infusion by miraculous means of knowledge inaccessible by natural means as the radical restructuring of what the Carnal Man knows, but knows blindly. S Thomas saw the Risen Lord and thus saw all things differently, saw that the Rabbi of Nazareth was My Lord and My God.

Dom Gregory Dix talked about becoming what you are. Baptised we may be; yet our Illumination is not a static episode in the past but a becoming which is part of our daily being. We are never finished with the growth into seeing reality as God its creator created it and sees it.

20 December 2010

Pope Benedict's Ordinariate and the Tregear Question

A kind, civilised, and beneficent couple of friends have sent me (not only a bottle of Lirac ... happiest memories of the Papal States and of the River Rhone ... but also) an offprint of an article about a Cornish priest, Fr Tregear.*

Fr T would be the shadowiest of shadowy Tudor clerics if he had not done one very remarkable thing. During the reign of Good Queen Mary, he produced a manuscript translation of some Homilies produced for use in the London diocese under the auspices of Bishop Bonner, the Bishop Broadhurst of the sixteenth century, and which still today have catechetical force. He did a translation of them into Cornish. So here, only a few years ofter the worthy yeomen of Cornwall (and Devon and Oxfordshire and several other shires) had risen in rebellion against the government of Edward Tudor, we find a Cornish priest doing his bit to catechise the people of the Duchy by means of the ancestral language that many of them still spoke, and to fortify them with every resource of the New Learning against the resurgence of heresy.

Tregear was apparently an Anglican papalist; an endangered species then as now. He was made Vicar of St Allen in Cornwall in 1544 and died, still vicar, in 1583. So he was not one of those whose heroic witness in 1559 led to their deprivation; he was not one of the academic and Humanist high-flyers of Duffy's glittering Marian Church who were able to go off to or return to foreign universities. He was, it seems, a simple pastor (not a graduate) who stuck around. How many inches of his head he put above the Elizabethan parapet we are unlikely ever to know. He may have been another Parson Trichay (whose accomodations we read in Duffy's Morebath). But, curiously, when he died, Tregear, unlike Trichay, was not buried in his own parish, but in St Newlyn East.

One wonders if, perhaps, Elizabeth Tudor's unwholesome writ failed to run in West Cornwall, as it failed to in other parts of the 'Celtic' fringe (her government had to reconcile itself to many painful anomalies in Ireland, outside the Pale). Perhaps Tregear was never deprived because he never refused an oath because no oath was ever tendered to him. Even in the Close at Exeter, right under the nose of government agents, there were blurred edges. Conservative men had endured the changes between 1533 and 1552 because they happened gradually, even if with increasing momentum, over two decades. Now they had to say Yes or No to the whole package more or less overnight, But ... the regime was not particularly stable ... so why not, before putting yourself out of your preferments, wait ... prevaricate ... a little ...? The Bishop and the Dean of Exeter were deprived in August and the Treasurer before the end of 1559; yet the fate of Thomas Nutcombe, the Subdean, is a little mysterious. He was installed in the last year of Queen Mary and in February 1560 a successor was appointed because of his deprivation. But that clergyman seems never to have been installed and Nutcombe occurs in the returns of 1560 and 1561/2. Not until 1566 was Nutcombe deprived for the second time (and succeeded, this time, by a clergyman who did manage to get his hands on his preferment). Another Marian appointment, the Precentor, is recorded in 1560 and 1561/2 as staying at a university outside England (could it be that if they couldn't find you to tender an oath, it wasn't so easy to deprive you?). His successor was not appointed until 1571. Most interestingly of all, the Chancellor, Leveson, made his peace with the new order and hung around until, like Tregear, he died in 1583. But in 1561 he was found to be harbouring two recusant former colleagues, prebendaries of Exeter Cathedral, in his house in Hereford, where they were part of a very in-your-face recusant colony which flaunted its religion in public processions and ceremonies, and where it is clear that the Government did not yet have religion under any control.**

Did Tregear just carry on as if nothing had happened? The Vicar of Kilkhampton, with all the chutzpah and the faux naivete which Anglican Catholics so loved to affect, declared in 1584 that he had "never heard" of the Prayer Book. (The Sarum) Mass was still being said publicly in St Columb Major in 1590. Is this the tip of a very agreeable iceberg? Did Tregear perhaps take the oaths, and then ... just carry on as if he hadn't? In 1586, a list was made of some twenty Cornish parish clergy who were in very much that position - clerical 'Church Papists'. Or did he relocate to a recusant safe haven in Newlyn without resigning his benefice? After all, why should he make it easier for the government to intrude a Protestant into his parsonage and his stipend?

Tregear - and his clerical contemporaries - faced the very same question that bedevilled us Anglican Catholics for so long: how long to stay around; whether this really is finally the moment after which we cannot with integrity ... carry on. Quousque cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena?


D H Frost, Glasney's Parish Clergy and the Tregear Manuscript, Cornish Studies 15, 2007.
** See Volume XII of the new Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae (Le Neve), published 2007.

19 December 2010

Imperial plurals

In my beautiful, red leather, Missale Romanum (e Typographia Haniquiana), 1840, last Saturday's festival of the Expectation of the Childbearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary is marked in the Missae Sanctorum celebrandae aliquibus in locis ex indulto Apostolico as "Pro omnibus Hispaniarum Regi subjectis" ("For all the subjects of the King of the Spains").

Am I right in suspecting that the idea of using plurals when referring to a King of a world-wide empire began with His Most Catholic Majesty? That Third Rome then cribbed it ("Autocrat of all the Russias")? And that after dear Dizzy had proclaimed his lady friend Empress of India, the people in charge of the inscriptions on our coins adopted it: "Britanniarum omnium Regina Indiae Imperatrix" ("Queen of all the Britains, Empress of India"*)? Or had the Hanoverians used it previously? Are there other examples?


*I think I am right in recalling that the Director General of the British Museum, in his recent "History of the World in 100 Objects" series, translated it as " ... of all Britain". There's Art Historians for you. Show them the simplest piece of Latin and you can infallibly rely upon them to mistranslate it.

17 December 2010

This will certainly save her life

I think I saw that Dr Dawkins had put his name to the appeal on behalf of the Iranian woman under sentence of death. Just imagine how that will move and impress the Ayatollahs. "Goodness Gracious! The leading British atheist is one of her friends! Release her immediately!"

16 December 2010

The European Court of Human Rights

"And will you teach us Death?" asked the Lady to Weston's shape, where it stood above her.

"Yes", it said, "it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance".

The Hermeneutic of Continuity (4th and last post)

In the sixteenth century, we Anglicans had to suffer the imposition, made possible by the invention of printing, of liturgical deformations even worse than those with which S Pius V had to deal in his "Back to the Tradition" reforms. The history of Anglican liturgy since then, at least among Anglican Catholics, has been a long struggle to reconnect our maimed rites with the pre-rupture Tradition. We have lived out, for 450 years, the same processes and problems which the rest of the Latin West has now faced for less than five decades since the post-conciliar 'reforms'. It's Old Hat to us. What have we Anglican Catholics done?

Brave priests often moved fast and tactlessly. At Cury and Gunwalloe, in Cornwall, Fr Sandys Wason provided for his congregation, which a fortnight previously had worshipped at State Mattins, the full Tridentine Rite almost from his Day One. Most clergy, however, have tended to move more slowly and pastorally. It has been a matter of Brick By Brick - this was our Anglican Catholic game long before Fr Zed dreamed it up - with gradual changes such as step-by-step insertions of orthodox and traditional texts; as for the elimination of texts originating in sixteenth century Zwinglianism, but still dear to worshippers, well, that had to proceed even more gradually. This sort of thing is not smooth and it is not always logical. One has to think in terms of generations or at least decades rather than months.

I would like tentatively to suggest that we ought now to move beyond another Fr Zed mantra: Do the Red, Say the Black. This neatly sound-bited principle has served very well the campaigns that Fr Zed has waged over the last five years to restrain the liberalising corruption of the OF itself; but that is the point: it is essentially an ad hominem device aimed at restraining Fr Trendy. But, if it is to be even-handed, it requires also that the OF be not modified in a 'Traditionalist' direction. I suppose I am suggesting that, while still using the Zed formula in the campaign against the Trendies, we should deftly employ a double standard and ignore it in as far as it restrains the improvement of the OF.

Should the next step, Anglicanwise, be the gradual, tactful, pastoral introduction of EF elements into the OF Mass?


Some minute, even insignificant, examples which just happen to be in my mind. At his Inauguration Mass, Benedict XVI joined his hands at Gratias agamus .... And Fr Zed recently revealed that he - Z - signs the elements with five crosses at hostiam puram .... One of these usages is merely not ordered by rubrics; the other is actually contrary to a rubric. And I wonder how many clergy use, secreto, the EF Offertory Prayers in OF Masses.

At the end of the Vigil Mass of Christmas this year, I propose to have the Last Gospel, the Johannine prologue, sung after Mass, at the Crib, by the Deacon. This is actually proposed in Times and Seasons, a liturgical resource the use of which is encouraged by the Anglican hierarchy. The reasons for it, and its pastoral value, are obvious. In a tinkering and innovatory spirit which will convince many that, after all, and despite everything I have ever written, I am really just another Fr Trendy, I intend to place the Bambino in the Crib immediately after the words And the Word was made flesh ... But it constitutes a tactful and useful recovery, even if just this once, of a goody that was lost half a century ago.

15 December 2010


A grateful ThankYou to the anonymous friend who sent a very kind and generous Mass stipend for EF requiems for the repose of their late parents. I was most touched. I shall say eight such Masses between now and the end of January. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

The Hermeneutic of Continuity (3)

I devoted a series of posts a month or two ago to demonstrating that the rites put in place after Vatican II were not what the Council mandated. I think it is fairly commonly agreed by those who have actually read the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium that the committees of experts who produced the new rites in fact hijacked and perverted both the spirit and the letter of the Council. Archbishop Lefebvre, who voted for the Decree and who patiently adopted the modest and organic alterarions of the next five years, justly and rightly made a prophetic protest against this process: however wrong we believe him to have been in his refusal to believe in the sincerity of Cardinal Ratzinger, and in his consequent determination to perform illegal consecrations.

The last two posts in this present series demonstrated, I hope, the centrality of the technology of printing to the history of liturgy in the last six hundred years. As I showed, it was printing that brought in the chaotic situation to which S Pius V addressed himself in his liturgical reforms. And in the sixteenth century, it was printing that Pius was himself able to use to restrain and reform the liturgical dysfunctions of the Latin Church. The paradox of the twentieth century is that printing was again crucial: but, on this occasion, the Discontinuators who had seized the levers of liturgical power were enabled to use printing to do the opposite of what Pius V did: they used it to disseminate and impose disorders rather than, as he did, to restrain and eliminate them.

As my favourite liturgist, Lenin, would say: What is to be done? We may wonder what can be done when, for nearly half a century, Christian men and women have been brought up to use a liturgy which was corrupted textually by Discontinuating ideologues in Rome; a Liturgy which was then heteropractically deformed by unmandated innovations (versus populum and vernaculars universally enforced, for example); and which was finally rendered even more unfit for purpose in the Anglophone world by the imposition of a 'translation' which refused to the People of God unfettered access even to such elements of the Tradition as had survived into the 'reformed' Latin texts.

I cannot persuade myself that one distinguished liturgical writer is proposing a practical agenda when he suggests that we should return to the preconciliar books and then give them such a revision, organic and cautious, as is actually mandated by the Council. As Cardinal Ratzinger explained when dealing with the question of versus populum/versus apsidem, however technically just it would be to set aside the malformations of forty years, such an action would simply disturb people. I would add that it would also, in fact, reinforce the deplorable notion that liturgy is endlessly changeable by mere fiat from Authorities ... fiats disseminated not now only by printing but by even more rapid technologes. The reinforcement of this unfortunate misconception could (if enough of Satan's smoke seeps into the Church of the future) make the situation ultimately worse.

We of the Anglican Patrimony might just conceivably be able to help here with general principles.
One more post should conclude this series.

14 December 2010

Capital punishment

Make no mistake, I am opposed to Capital Punishment for the reasons set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But when I see an Appeal signed by the Great and the Good, demanding clemency for an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery and murder, it makes me wonder if the Great and the Good are barking mad. This missive is addressed to a state which claims to be Islamic and to follow Islamic Law. Moreover, it is a state which is trying to achieve parity of nuclear menace with the state of Israel. Yet the Appeal numbers among its signatories ... well-known Jews and women notorious for their life-style.

Would it not be more likely to be taken seriously by the Iranian Government if it did not flaunt the support of Jews and of immoral women? Or are the Great and the Good more concerned to polish and display their Greatness and Goodness before their own admiring Western media than to save this poor woman's life?

13 December 2010

Are you listening, Fr Hope Patten?

... as three nuns are shown the door from your shrine for desiring unity with the Holy See? What a shame, in retrospect, that Walsingham ever gave up being a papalist fortified position, in Yelton's words, and became C of E. Does anyone seriously doubt that within a decade there will be 'women celebrants' at its altars?

I wonder if the papalist foundation stone of the Holy House will be removed or covered up?

12 December 2010

The Hermeneutic of Continuity (1)

On S Luke's day, Sunday 18 October 1327, a great concourse of cardinals, bishops, and noblemen entered the Dominican priory church which, during the papal 'exile' in Avignon, often hosted major papal ceremonies, even coronations. The presiding bishop on this occasion was Pierre des Prez, Cardinal Bishop of Praeneste and one of the fellow-townsmen whom Pope John XXII had brought with him from Cahors. There, with due solemnity, the Cardinal consecrated to the episcopate a protege who was another member of the pontiff's inner circle and, like himself, a former papal chaplain. This 35-year old Burgundian nobleman had only recently returned from an international diplomatic mission on behalf of the papacy; and the see to which he was consecrated would not have been vacant if the pope had not made room for him by setting aside the capitular election and royal confirmation of a rival aspirant. The young bishop was Jean de Grandisson; the sumptuous set of matching vestments with which he provided himself for his consecration (all worked in white cloth of gold woven with gold and white birds and with needlework orphreys containing images inside circles, and pearl decorations) was an indication of his future career as one of Exeter Cathedral's major builders and benefactors. Even after the depredations of time and of the Tudors, he merited a section to himself in a 1987 exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The Catalogue which accompanied that exhibition contained a mistake - which is not a rare event in the world of Art History. But this mistake was interestingly symptomatic. It referred to the Ordinale Exoniense which Grandisson ... a painstaking and micromanaging control freak ... left behind him; it occupies in its modern printed edition four fat volumes in the Henry Bradshaw liturgical series. The mistake: it was alleged that Grandisson thereby regulated the liturgy of his diocese. But he most certainly did not. The Ordinale is specifically designed to regulate the services in the Cathedral, and to do so in a way that consults both good order and princely magnificence. Just in the Cathedral.

Why am I so concerned about this minor booboo? Because it reflects a general unawareness of how liturgical change and continuity both happened in an age before printing. Back in the era of manuscript liturgical books ... well, just imagine the practical impossibilities of making every parish in the Diocese of Exeter, from Land's End to the borders of Somerset, procure such a hefty work as Grandisson's Ordinale. In such an age, Missals and Breviaries did of course eventually wear out and have to be replaced; and inevitably a newly procured book would bear some marks of the changes in fashion since its predecessor had been produced; the insertion, perhaps, of S Anne or the Name of Jesus or the Transfiguration or the Visitation; but nothing more radical than the comparatively major disruptions caused when John XXII imposed Corpus Christi on the Universal Church. As manuscript service books aged, pages would be added to bring them up to date; marginal additions would bear the evidence of development (as two other HBS volumes relating to Exeter, The Leofric Missal, eloquently demonstrate; and, also in the HBS series, the Irish Stowe Missal). But the rupture of violent discontinuity would rarely be evident. The wholesale imposition overnight of massive liturgical novelties was technologically impossible, however attractive it would undoubtedly have been to a man like Grandisson.

To be continued.

11 December 2010

Ordinariate pilgrimages (1)

It suddenly occurred to me ... the obvious place for an Ordinariate pilgrimage is the Co Kerry village of Sneem. The Rector there a generation ago was Charlie Gray-Stack, who was also Dean of Ardfert ... the old episcopal See of Co Kerry (the ruined Cathedral at Ardfert was copied by Pugin junior when he built the new RC Cathedral at Killarney). Incidentally, I wonder when the RCs stopped calling the Kerry diocese Ardfert and Aghadoe (as we still do in the C of I). Nineteenth century monuments indicate that the older naming survived until a century and a half ago.

Charlie was no Paisleyite Prod. He astonished both the papists and his fellow Irish Anglicans by his enthusiasm for the Holy Rosary and his defence of the televised Angelus - which, even in those days, was already being targetted by the secularists of Dublin 4. He transfigured his church; announced that it was dedicated to the Transfiguration (C of I churches originally lacked dedications, as did most English churches until the Victorian 'ecclesiologists' came along and invented them); and filled it with ikons. It had been a typical, rather mean little Irish church in poor and ungrammatical Gothic, built to serve the Big Houses which abounded in the subtropical climate of the South Iveragh; Charlie plastered and whitewashed the outside and planted palm trees, so that now it looks positively Mediterranean. I have offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in it.

The RC church in Sneem was built by Lord Dunraven, one of that little gaggle of Ascendancy aristocrats and gentry, not often remembered, who followed Blessed John Henry into Full Communion. He had it dedicated to the Holy Cross. It was he who began the academic study of the extensive early monastic remains in coastal Kerry, sailing round the islands in his yacht and making notes and drawings. He is a man who deserves to be less forgotten both among Brits - and among the Irish who, despite their intermittent cultural make-overs, still suffer from a degree of a hermeneutic of discontinuity, their communal memories ruptured by the events of 1921/2. By the church is a sculpture park; I recall one very surreal day when we gathered for the unveiling of a statue of Isis, given by the Egyptian ambassador who holidayed in Sneem. There stood I; by me, Archdeacon Murphy, brother of the RC Bishop (the Irish RCs retain the title of Archdeacon as an honorific); I wondered how an image of that Hellenistic Goddess who was such a potent rival of Christianity could be so honoured by two Christian priests, not to mention a sternly monotheistic Moslem. When I last saw it, the Irish damp had done quite a bit of no good to the said idol.

Down by some lush inlets of the sea is the Parknasilla Hotel; G B Shaw used to go there, being driven, sitting bolt upright, in the back of his Rolls Royce, fearless through the domains of the Third West Cork Brigade who so memorably dealt with both the Black and Tans and poor Mr Collins. He wrote a lot at Parknasilla, including S Joan ... Shaw did, I mean, not General Collins. Tea on the terrace there, overlooking the lush coastline and Kenmare Water, is quite a Grand Hotel experience, if you can ignore the hunched figure of Bertie Ahern ... remember him? ... biting his fingernails in the corner. Another military man, M le General de Gaulle, also holidayed there, but that was before my time.

Attached to the Hotel is the most beautiful, scenic, twelve-hole Hotel golf course I have ever seen. Pam used to play a round or two there with her son/sons-in-law while I sat on a ruined and secluded jetty, drank Beamish, translated the Irish Times leader into Latin, and watched the kingfishers and sea-otters. The golf club treasurer did a very ecumenical Family Membership Rate for the clergy, or at least, he did for this one.

O utinam ... Ordinariate pilgrims could say the Rosary as they went out on the boats, past the great gannetry of the Little Skellig to the monastic island of Skellig S Michael (Shaw was rowed there but I doubt if he said the Rosary). It was one of the great pilgrimage centres in Ireland before, in the nineteenth century, Cardinal Cullen, that monumental spoil-sport, dragged the Irish Church kicking and screaming into the Tridentine reforms.

10 December 2010

Diairmid McCullough, or however he is spelt ...

Sauntering through Blackwells the other day, to pick up the Holy Father's Interview book, I stopped by D M's History of Christendom, which is now at the paperback stage of its decline. I dipped into it.

I do, somewhat boldly, think that there are some areas in which I have a very modest competence, but I am extremely aware of the boundaries of my knowledge (for example, I most certainly am not a historian). So I have a test which I apply particularly to the writings of people who produce Big Books in subject areas which are not my own (by the way, on the subject of Big Books in general, three cheers for the views of the greatest of the Greek poets, Callimachus).

The Hunwicke test is this. I find some topic in his discussion in which the Big Writer has strayed into an area in which I do know something. And I test his assertions. My assumption is that if it turns out that he is writing a load of tasteless white fish with small, needle-like bones* in an area in which I am able to judge him, there is every possibility (or at the very least a risk) that he is just as unreliable, tendentious, or crooked in areas where I do not have competence.

DM decides to tell us about the Kyries. He makes two assertions. The first is that the threefold Kyries (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison) are ever-present 'mantras' in Byzantine liturgy. The second is that in the Roman Rite they are relics of the period when the worship of the Roman Church was in Greek. Each of these assertions is untrue, the former partially and the latter totally. The paragraph concerned does not even condescend to offer a footnote directing us to any evidence for these crass assertions of inaccuracy and falsehood.

You may tell me that in so very Big a Book, it is unreasonable for a writer to be expected never to make little errors. "Don't be a pedant. Go for his Big Picture."

I could not more profoundly disagree with you. Any Big Picture is built up of innumerable small brush-strokes. If a man is slipshod about his details, it will be, to a greater or lesser extent, probable that his Big Picture is not worth the paper, so to speak, which it is written on. And in any case, nobody is under a legal or moral obligation to write Big Books. If someone chooses to do so, he should either get his facts straight or be excoriated for not doing so.



9 December 2010

Browsing completely aimlessly ...

... as one so often does on the internet, I found myself reading about "Allen Hall". I discovered myself informed that the motto of the college is Vivamus in spe, "which means We Live In Hope".

Oh dear me. Whatever would the erudite and admirable Cardinal Allen have said about so elementary a howler as not knowing the difference between indicatives and subjunctives? Obviously not a place where the Extraordinary Form is lovingly and carefully inculcated.

Can anyone explain to me the origins of the impaled arms? Is the Heraldry as dodgy as the Latinity?

Only for classicists

Here is the poem Erasmus ... yes; more fruits of my afternoon in Bodley with the Merton Priory copy of Erasmus ... composed to go with a picture of the Child Jesus which his fellow Humanist Dean Colet had put up in the school he founded and headed at S Paul's Cathedral in London.

Sedes haec puero sacra est Iesu
Formandis pueris dicata; quare
Edico, procul hinc facessat, aut qui
Spurcis moribus, aut inerudita
Ludum hunc inquinet eruditione.

It is written, as you perceive, in Phalaecian hendecasyllables. Quaerendum: Did Erasmus derive the use of this metre from Catullus, or from Martial? The former survived antiquity only in the Veronensian codex discovered in the middle of the fourteenth century, while Martial was much more widely known at least from the Carolingian Renaissance onwards. I think I can prove it was Martial: there is a lovely little book in the British Library containing verses by the Italian Humanist Giovanni Gigli (1434-1498), later bishop of Worcester, but, when he wrote the book in 1486/7, a writer of pure and elegant classicising verse and a seller of indulgences (a revealing combination!). It includes a very long Genethliacon dedicated to the recently-named Arthur, later Prince of Wales ... in Phalaecian hendecasyllables. And I have spotted a quotation from Martial in something else Gigli wrote: which seems to me very probably to settle the question of where this fascinating generation of circa 1500 Humanists got that metre from.

Incidentally, Gigli's genethliacon begins with a recusatio explaining that disertiores will be able to do his high subject justice in heroic measures. As people scrambled for favour and jobs in the new Tudor court, it was clearly important for him to do a quick job. Indeed, many of us, I suspect, found when we were schoolboys that hendecasyllables are just about the easiest metre in which to write fast. I wonder if that is why Erasmus produced Phalaecians to be hung up where Colet's schoolboys would see them, so that the little chaps might be tempted to have a go at doing it themselves.

7 December 2010

Merton Priory

In an uncharacteristically beneficent moment - you know how mean I am - I promised a charming couple who turned up at S Thomas's that I would lend them a hand. They were members of the Friends of Merton Priory: an Augustinian House (as were Oseney and Rewley Abbeys in this parish) South of London. They wanted someone to go to Bodley and order up and look at six books recorded as having come from the library at Merton.

How glad I was that I did. The books were fascinating to look at, and gave an interesting picture of intellectual life in the century before suppression. Of course, I had no way of knowing whether these six books were typical of the contents of the canons' library. But if they were, they would certainly support a 'Duffy' view: that there was nothing torpid about the late Medieval Church. Three of them were crammed full of mathematics, astronomy, trigonometry, and what we fuddy duddies call Natural Philosophy; books which had been used and bore marginal comments. A text of S Isidore's Summum Bonum recorded how it had been bought in Italy in 1463. The solitary printed book was a collection of works of Desiderius Erasmus, printed in Basle in a lovely Renaissance fount in 1519 ... less than two decades before the Priory's Suppression. It included Erasmus' classicising poems in Latin and in Greek.

The after-History of these books was also not without interest. One of them bore embossed on its covers the arms of Sir Kenelm Digby; another, those of blessed William Laud, Bishop and Martyr. Digby, a colourful Roman Catholic and occasional Anglican with persistent Court connexions, studied in Oxford at Gloucester Hall (now Worcester College in this parish), which was a Recusant annexe to the more ambiguously 'Church Papist' S John's College; Laud of course was an Anglican and a St John's man. Current historiography emphasises the dark discontinuities of the 'Elizabethan' Church and its radical Protestantism. But no one denies that the Stuart period brought with it a softening of antitheses, a Hermeneutic of Continuity, and a building up of broken bridges with the past and with the currents of intellectual life in Counter-Reformation Europe.

It was good to handle and think about these books, which escaped destruction in the massive book-burnings of Protestantism (Duke Humphrey's Library - not yet refounded as Bodley - was stripped of all its books, which went into an enormous bonfire); happy survivors which made it through the bottle-neck and helped to pass on the wisdom, science, culture of two millennia and of the Humanist springtime embodied in S John Fisher and Reginald Cardinal Pole. God bless the Lauds and the Digbys, who worked to gather up all the fragments so that nothing be lost. And God be blessed for our Anglican patrimony and inheritance of heroic faith.

6 December 2010


I've often wondered about the etymology of this old English surname. Now I know. Having said an Mass of S Nic in the Old Rite in S Thomas's, I had a phone call from a brother priest whom a sudden call prevented from saying his scheduled 12.00 EF Mass. So I dashed over (ah: another question of philology for you: does the noun 'bination' mean there is a verb 'binare'? so that I could say "cucurri binaturus ad ecclesiam S N ..."?) and found a very nice little congregation awaiting me; not to mention one of the classiest of the late Fr Melrose's Altar Missals. What a pleasure to be invited.

But a quick flip through last Friday's Catholic Herald at the back of the Oratory revealed to me a letter by "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells", infuriated that the Old Rite is spreading like wildfire among Anglicans too, and attacking me personally for saying Latin Masses. I presume it must be from some Liberal RC. When will these people get it straight that the Sovereign Pontiff has laid down that any priest of the Latin Rite can say the "EF" whenever he wishes?

I hope nobody tells the poor chap or chappess that every academic term which starts at Oxford is marked by a Latin celebration.

5 December 2010

Conditional Ordination for Ordinariate Anglicans?

A good technical case could, it is true, be made for this on the grounds of the Bishop Graham Leonard precedent. But, in his case, the CDF considered the orthodoxy or otherwise of every 'link' in the ordinations which led from the Dutchmen to the Bishop who ordained him priest. It cannot be anything other than a profound mistake in practical terms to attempt to clutter up the beginning of an Ordinariate with the sort of paper chases and delays which would be involved. And it would create an invidious divide between most of us and a few worthy priests who, because of age or because they were ordained in other parts of the Anglican Communion, were priested by bishops who had not contracted the Dutch Touch. So, my strong conviction is: NO ... just don't go there.

But is there a problem in conscience about 'receiving again' the Sacrament of Order when one is morally certain that one has already received it? This did indeed trouble Blessed John Henry Newman. But he willingly accepted it after being assured that the conditionality would be "implied in the Church's intention" (Ker pp 321 and 466). In view of the repeated assurances given, to the effect that clergy entering into full communion are not being required to deny the validity of anything they have previously received or done, and the careful statement of Fr Aidan Nichols that the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not now unconditionally proposed by the Roman Magisterium, I feel that the understanding which satisfied Newman should be good enough for less brilliant minds than his. Indeed, if the Magisterium took the view that those entering an Ordinariate must accept the invalidity of their current Orders, either explicitly or constructively, they would presumably have required that, before even applying for admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, Anglican clergy should have ceased performing sacrilegious simulations of the Eucharist. This is, quite simply, not the line which, so I gather, has been or is being taken either in Rome or locally.

Trent did indeed say, as a correspondent reminds me, that three sacraments non possunt iterari. The present indicative of possunt demonstrates that this is simply a statement of fact. If "Ordination I" was valid, then "Ordination II" is as a matter of fact a nullity. If "Ordination II" is valid, then "Ordination I" must have been a nullity.

I do, however, have a preference about how things are 'done'. If Anglican priests were 'reordained' at a grand, public, triumphalist ceremony, this might have the body-language of "These men were not really priests before". And it could be extremely damaging to ecumenical relationships generally - something which Rome and - so they keep telling us - Westminster too, are rightly anxious to avoid. But if the proceedings were private and low-key (like the ordinations of Bishop Leonard and a number of others), the Anglican Establishment need not be offended, and the conviction of Anglicans that their priesthood truly began at their original Anglican ordination would be respected by the 'reordination's' social marginality and its lack of public ritual assertion. In 1993 Fr Aidan Nichols advocated proceeding along exactly these lines in his elegant picture of an Anglican place of study which could "provide supplementation for the priestly training of former Church of England clergymen and a discreet setting for the making good of any defects in their Orders".


A final dash of rhetoric. Forget for a moment the RC question; if I became an Orthodox, I would undoubtedly have to be 'reordained' in order to liturgise. Can it really be God's will that Catholic Anglican priests are boxed into a prison camp out which it is impossible for them in good conscience to move into the ministry of any of the Ancient Churches? Is the 'Consensus of the First Millennium', to which so many among us (especially the less 'papalist') have so often appealed, in fact permanently inaccessible to us?

Are some of my brethren sure that this particular 'difficulty' is anything other than a clutching at an arguably respectable pretext for 'not going'?

4 December 2010

Rupert Bear

Every Christmas, my maternal grandparents used to give me the Rupert Bear Annual, and I delved again into the affairs of Rupert Bear, Bill Badger, the mysterious and enchanting Tiger Lily (these were in the days before Chinese Restaurants brought us Sweet and Sour Pork and the other culinary delights of San Francisco), and all their friends. I read with never failing pleasure the narratives encapsulated into those memorable couplets, the iambs marching inexorably onwards to the hilarious bathos of the predictable rhymes.

What I didn't know as a toddler was that the charming and accessible artwork was the product of one Alfred Bestall (1892-1986). If you live in Oxford you must not miss the tiny but exquisite exhibition of his work in Bodley, just inside the Proscholium entrance and on the right. Where you will not just meet up again tantum post lapsum temporis with the inhabitants of Nutwood, but will see other examples of the work of a draughtsman who perfectly embodied the style and spirit of the interwar years. There is one little watercolour which is, as we say, to die for. Titled The Coffee Stall, it shows a gathering of flappers and their male appendages, at dawn after a fancy dress ball, refreshing themselves as the London proletariat look sympathetically on. Don't miss the girl on the left who sways away from her escort to light the cigarette in her holder from that of a bulky member of the Lower Orders. Don't miss any of them.

It's worth a hundred Picassos or Monets.

3 December 2010

Ordinariate consciences

Yet again, the other day, someone asked me how an Anglican priest could possibly allow himself to go through a process of reordination so as to join an Ordinariate.

I continue to have great problems understanding those who ask this question. Let me be autobiographical. In the 1960s, there was a scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity. This would have involved a "Service of Reconciliation". In that service, an Anglican Bishop would have laid hands on all the Methodist ministers and prayed: "Pour out thy Holy Spirit, to endue each, according to his need, with grace for the office of a priest in the Church of God". I eventually voted for this scheme. (I certainly wouldn't have done later. But, back in the 1960s, we all took seriously the idea of Christian Unity; this was well before the Liberals decided that their own new dogmas took precedence over Unity.) I became convinced that the business was just about kosher after bishop Eric Kemp, then Dean of Worcester, explained to us Oxford clergy that this rite was an adequate form of Conditional Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, and would transform the Methodist ministers into priests.

In turn, if this scheme had gone forward, the Anglican clergy would in turn have knelt before a Methodist minister, who would have imposed hands and prayed : "Pour out thy Holy Spirit upon them for the work of a minister in thy Church". This scheme received the approval of a large majority in the Church of England, especially among the bishops.

I have some difficulty understanding why we were (nearly) all so willing then to undergo this 'reordination', which would have made us all into Methodist ministers acceptable to take any manner of service within Methodism, whereas now there seems to be some gigantic, enormous problem, among some people, about undergoing a similar rite to make us acceptable to fulfil every kind of priestly ministration within the Roman Catholic Church.

I s'pose it's a good sign really. We live in so amoral a world that the mere existence of such amazingly superscrupulous and such bewilderingly, unbelievably, hypertender consciences, is to be warmly welcomed. Yet doubts persist in my mind. If it is so terrible, so unthinkable, to be 'reordained' - if the superscrupulous conscience so decisively vetoes it - why do many of these same people have no qualms about all the compromises which are necessary to coexist with women priests? Why, for example, does a conscience which has no trouble about being in communion with a bishop who licences and institutes women to the care of souls, suddenly get so picky when it comes to the formalities which are necessary to ensure that every Roman Catholic in the world can be without qualms about the Anglican priesthood?

Yeah, pull the other one.


You may be wondering what happened to that Unity Scheme. It failed to get over the 75% hurdle required. 75%, you ask? Well, er, yes; it was after this that, with an eye doubtless to the future, the Great and the Good lowered the hurdle in such matters to 67%. What a good thing they did so. Otherwise, there would be no chance of the Ordination of Women getting through now! Foresight!

2 December 2010

Book Sales

Passing through Blackwells, I came upon a remaindered copy of Bishop Eric Kemp's autobiography, Shy but not retiring (his obit, by the way, was on Sunday; cuius animae propitietur Deus). I snaffled it up and brought it home to read. This is a splendid book to give to anyone tempted by the mirage of a long-term future in the Church of England.

It is of course cruel to flay anybody from the comfortable and complaisant high ground of hindsight. And probably dangerous: which of us could pass such an exacting test? But ... yes, you knew there was a But coming, didn't you?

Back in the 1990s, we all thought that the Leaders of thge Catholic Movement would pull some rabbit out of their hats. And of nobody did we have more expectations than of Eric Kemp. He had been around - with a finger in every pie, be it Anglo-Catholicism or Church politics - since the 1930s. But we now know that there was no rabbit and probably not even a hat. In as far as anything did get cooked up, it was done by a suave figure of the Establishment, the Old Etonian John Habgood.

It was fun in the Diocese of Chichester in Kemp's days, the 'Indian summer of the Church of England'. But we were living off the fat. There was no coherent plan ... what am I saying: there was not even an incoherent plan ... for anything that might be described as a future. We were teetering, just about to plunge, on the funfair railway, from the point right at the top, down the big slope to the splash at the bottom. And, as I now learn from Kemp's autobiography, the Butler was not even laying down a vintage or two whose drinking date would be ten, or twenty, years ahead. BTW, I am going for a Guinness Book of Records entry for mixed or inappositely combined metaphors*.

Eric's biography reveals that at no point did he have a higher motive than shepherding his diocese, looking after his clergy (at which he was very good) and keeping, for as long as he could, his own hand on the tiller. There have been vast swathes of Church History in which such ambitions sufficed for a Bishop in the Church of God. But in the decades of Eric Kemp's episcopate, there needed to be a sense of whither to turn that tiller; an attempt to discern the Signs of the Times; a capacity and a willingness, as they say in business, to think outside the box.

And now SWISH offer us another pointless, wasted, generation of the same ball-game. And why? In a determined attempt quite simply to spoil Dr Ratzinger's gambit.

*How many does that make?

1 December 2010

Epicleses and Elevations

Should the Body and Blood of the Lord still be shown for adoration in the traditional places, after the Words of Institution, when a Eucharistic Prayer is being used which defers the Epiclesis until later? For those determined to use such prayers and who would like an answer out of the older Western Catholic tradition: Yes! In 1912, Fortescue wrote:

"The whole consecration-prayer is one thing, of which the effect is the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. During this Prayer we ask continually for that grace; although the Prayer takes time to say and God grants what we ask at one instant, not necessarily the last instant of the Prayer. So in all rites constantly people still ask for what, presumably, they have already received. Our Baptism and Ordination services furnish obvious parallel examples [Hunwicke adds: compare here Catherine Pickstock's words about 'liturgical stammering' and repeated beginnings and their basis in pre-'Enlightenment' orality]. The Epiclesis is surely also to be to be explained in this way ... the Canon is one Prayer. Consecration is the answer to that one Prayer. It takes place no doubt at the Words of Institution, but it is the effect of the whole Prayer. There is no sequence of time with God. He changes the bread and wine intuitu totius orationis'.

And in Cardinal Ximenes' edition of the Mozarabic rite, in which some 20 or so of the 200 Eucharistic Prayers have an Epiclesis after the Institution Narrative, the elevations always happen in the 'Roman' place.

I wrote that in 2004; I haven't reverified the last paragraph.)