31 December 2015

"None of their business"?

I am indebted to David Schutz for an article in an American magazine, apparently Jewish, called Tabletmag. The author is a Rabbi David Berger, who teaches in a Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. It is highly intelligent, and an intelligent person will enjoy finding thought-provoking things in it with which creatively to disagree or even agree. (Notebook: Vatican II at 50: Assessing the impact of 'Nostra aetate' on Jewish Christian relations. December 15, 2015.)

Berger deprecates "the inappropriate dictation to others of what their own religion must teach", and goes on: " ... Jews active in interfaith affairs have not infrequently denounced the Christian belief that the entire world will recognise Jesus as the divine Messiah at the end of days. This, in my view, is none of our business, especially in light of the corresponding Jewish belief strikingly expressed in the High Holiday liturgy and the Aleinu prayer". (That particular "Christian belief" is of course precisely what S Paul teaches in Romans 11:25-26, and what Pope Benedict in 2008 took as the theme of his newly-composed Good Friday Prayer. Rabbi Jacob Neusner made a very similar point to Berger's some years ago in one of his own elegant defences of Joseph Ratzinger.)

He also reminds us that Maimonides, cited sometimes 'ecumenically' as a witness to a positive Jewish attitude towards the existence of Christianity, only saw it in a positive light as one step in the direction of the conversion of the whole world to Judaism, after which Christianity would be destroyed.

And, if I understand aright one of his faintly elliptic remarks, he delicately suggests that Christians who are anxious to describe Judaism as possessing a still salvific Covenant may accidentally be saying something rather embarrassing about the large numbers of Jews who do not live according to the Torah which expresses that Covenant (cfr. Ed Sanders' Covenantal Nomism). Had that thought occurred to you?

Berger thinks outside very many boxes!

As far as I can make out, none of the German or English bishops appears to have been in touch with Berger to explain to him how upset and confused he is by the Latin Prayer for the Jews used on Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

30 December 2015

Vulnerable architecture

My recent use of the name Armitage Shanks inspired memories in a coeval friend ... I had intended the name simply to revive recollections of when Shanks was a mere archdeacon, and his doings were chronicled monthly in New Directions by the Revd Dr Geoffrey Kirk, Vicar of S Stephen's Lewisham, and now an Ordinariate Blogger (I hope you read him daily). But my aged friend's memories took him back to ancient and dimly remembered Urinals. And their vulnerability. He mentioned Thomas Crapper (poson O poson to kleos); and the Joseph Pontifex whose oeuvre could be found in Pusey House in Oxford.

He's dead right. When I first taught at Lancing, the urinals were still called 'The Groves', because it was in groves, in the College's earlier and primitive days, that such functions were ... er ... discharged. The groves behind Field's House were built in the indigenous vernacular architecture of the Sussex chalk downlands: worked masonry framing knapped flint. The building was so superbly done that there was not a millimetre between the beautifully knapped and fitted flints. Sir John Betjeman, on one of his visits, referred to it [fact!] as the finest Gothic Revival Urinal in England. It may well have been. In fact, far too fine a building, in the minds of provosts and bursars, for its designated functions. Naturally, it is now a Pottery. As we finally close down our last coal-mines and steel-refineries, there is very little now left of England that is not either a pottery or a craft-shoppe or a merchant bank.

Near enough actually to be seen from that despoiled urinary masterpiece there is another similar tragedy of 'reordering'. On the coastal plain below the great heaped Gothic mass of Lancing College on its hill-top lies Shoreham Airport, London's first international airport in the days when you took the train from Victoria and hopped off at the very edge of the Channel waves and got onto a plane which could, just about, get you across to the French coast. Here, in the 1930s, was built a fine Art Deco airport building ... which is still there. And, inside it, was a superb, pure, Art Deco loo (or bath room or rest room or WC or whatever ...). As you stood in your 'standing', a little below the level of your nose was a small cigarette-shaped ledge on which the sophisticated air-traveller could rest his cigarette so as to have both hands free for enabling his function. I am not a smoker ... but I surmise that this provision may also have been a safeguard against dangerous avalanches of glowing ash.

Now the whole dam' shootin'-match is no more. Eheu, you are so right to say, fugaces.

29 December 2015

Barchester (2)

I had forgotten that Barchester was now twinned with a liberal Episcopalian diocese, thereby providing the reason why Bishop Armitage Shanks was accompanied into the Cactus House by some very obviously American women clergy of an extreme type. But I had little time to think; Shanks homed in on me with a manifestly malevolent intent. "My dear John", he cried. "I was so sorry there was all that trouble about your ordination in the Roman Church, and so terribly glad that you eventually managed to get it sorted out. And all for no better reason than your praise of Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, and the Latin Mass! How incredibly unjust!". In plain English this translates as: "How amazingly amusing it was, after all those decades you spent agitating for union with Rome, that one or two members of the English Roman Catholic Church didn't want to be saddled with such a trouble-maker! What a laughing-stock they made of you! How we did all enjoy it!".

I dislike condescension; and my experience - I pass this tip on to juvenile readers for whom it might be useful - is that it is best dealt with by immediate verbal brutality. People who are accustomed to receiving deference and Yes Bishop or Yes Minister or Yes Headmaster have generally grown so unaccustomed to the rough and tumble of real life that it hits and hurts them all the more to get an occasional dose of it. "My dear Shanks," I said "I'm sure you're aware that I've never liked you. Would you like me to explain why? Shall we discuss what your nickname was at Staggers and how you acquired it?"

But, to do him justice, just for once my favourite tactic totally and dismally failed. The fixed and insincere smile on his beautifully groomed face never for one nannosecond faltered. He did his retaliation by addressing the clergywomen: "Sistren", he said, "these are a couple of loud-mouthed former Anglican clerical troublemakers whose crude and rampant misogyny and homophobia led them to become Roman Catholics. The shabbily dressed one with the badly tended beard is the worse ... he is even a pathological reader and admirer of ... Rat-zinger". A murmur of horror filled the Cactus House. I looked more closely at the ladies. Somehow ... you know the tricks memory plays upon one ... there came into my mind (I can't for the life of me place where from) ... some hexameters starting tristius haud illis monstrum nec saevior ulla / pestis .... Some of the clergypersons were wearing badges. One such badge showed the Obama in its Messianic pose; another had the inscription TRANSGOD YES CISGOD NO.  But one of them was wearing a much more interesting badge; "Gracious" I thought, "a fellow Classicist ... and a Patristics scholar ... and it's not often you meet a girl who keeps S Vincent's Commonitorium in her boudoir". It read "FOETICIDIUM SEMPER ET UBIQUE ET AB OMNIBUS".

Meanwhile, the Sisterhood had discovered that Jill was married to Colin, and were engaging polemically with her, urging upon her like Workshops and like Role Plays and like Group Massage Sessions to like sort of liberate her you know from like the Shackles of Patriarchy. Colin, feeling that he ought to protect his wife, was hobbling ineffectually about and bleating on the periphery of the melee ... dear friend that he is, I would have to admit that he is a trifle wet, even when not lamed. But he need not have troubled. After all, Jill did box for St Hugh's, and, I think, got her Blue in a year of particularly fierce competition. And she was the founding Chairman of the universally feared Oxford University Inter-Collegiate Women's Pancration Group (OUICWPG). Drawing herself up majestically, and enunciating clearly so that however dense their colonial patois they would at least assimilate the essential core of her message, she proclaimed "D*rty P*rv*rts".

"Oh dear", I thought. "I really had better dissociate myself from this. Not only is she jumping to totally unwarranted conclusions about the sexual orientation of these estimable ladies; she really has not understood the CDF documents, and the very definite utterances of the recent Magisterium - including the Catechism of the Catholic Church - about the total right of homosexual persons to full and unambiguous human respect, both from Society and from individuals, in thought, word, deed and omission. Such a clever girl ... after all, her doctorate on the Collyridians was supervised by dear Rowan himself before he changed his mind on the 'ordination' of women ... but very seriously off-message as regards correct Modern Catholic Attitudes. It will be terrible if the Tablet hears about all this. But who am I to judge?"

So, stepping carefully over Fr Colin's prostrate form, I motored off at a rate of knots towards the quieter if damp joys of the Tropical Rain Forest ... just as the less immovable of the cacti began to hurtle through the air. As the door closed behind me, a prolonged scream suggested that Bishop Shanks himself was undergoing a novel vegetable experience from which a full recovery might prove improbable. Girls will be girls!

A full account of the free-for-all that followed and the latest up-to-the-minute bulletin on Bishop Shanks' deteriorating condition can be read in The Barchester Chronicle incorporating the Hogglestock Times and Silverbridge Morning Examiner.

28 December 2015

A penitential day?

Those of you who, very sensibly, keep at least one eye on the illuminating St Lawrence Press ORDO will know that, before the liturgical tinkerings initiated by Pius XII, today, Holy Innocents' Day, the Mass was penitential: Violet colour; no Gloria; no Alleluia; Benedicamus Domino.

How very, totally, immensely, completely, indisputably, brilliantly suitable for a Day which has justly come to be an occasion of penance for our present politically-correct and on-going daily Holocaust, that of the pre-born. I wonder how many have already been finished off this morning in Oxford.

This sick age of ours craves Moral High Ground; so people luxuriate in the easy and cost-free deploring of a previous Holocaust; daft youths endlessly prose on about the rights of sodomites and eunuchs and demonstrate for the demolition of statues of people they hadn't heard of until yesterday. And, in an even greater access of diseased bloodthirstiness, they are programmed to shriek for the 'no-platforming' of anyone who does not chant their own slick up-to-the-minute Horst Wessel Song, "A Woman's Right to Choose".

Perhaps Ecclesia Dei, when it has finished obeying Cardinal Marx's lordly and arrogant demand to 'review' a Good Friday Prayer, could move on to 'reviewing' the liturgical arrangements for December 28.

27 December 2015

Some jolly hymns

Leo XIII deserves to be better known. And he deserves to be better known for his hymns. He wrote two of those which we use on the feast of the Holy Family, which some of you may be observing today ... and the rest of you in a fortnight's time.

Dulce fit nobis is a cut-down version of his Sacra iam splendent. Leo wrote it in the Sapphic Metre, which was either invented or brought into prominence by Sappho, a poetess of the Greek island of Lesbos around 600ish BC, and made popular in Latin by Catullus and Horace; a metre which has always been popular among schoolboys because it is one of the easier metres in which to write Latin verse. Perhaps that is why it became a popular metre in the Carolingian period; but Leo was too good a Latinist to have chosen it from such a base motive. [Incidentally, you can always recognise this metre  it because it is the metre where the fourth line is shorter than the first three, and goes Tumtitty Tumtum; e.g. English Hymnal 335 Wherefore, O Father, we thy humble servants, which was used (and probably written) to cover the silent repetition by the Anglican Catholic clergy of the Unde et memores etc. of the Canon Romanus, the oblatory language of which it echoes.]

Back to Leo and his Holy Family hymn. He bequeathed three problems to the post-Vatican II revisers.
(1) Horror of horrors, the hymn was ten (10!!) stanzas long. Far too long for modern clergy.
(2) The first stanza contains a lovely picture of a Catholic (or Orthodox) church at festival time; lights burning; altars wreathed; clouds of incense. That had to go for obvious reasons.
Sacra iam splendent decorata lychnis
Templa, iam sertis redimitur ara,
Et pio fumant redolentque acerrae
Thuris honore. 
(3) "fessis". Disgusting? You may wonder what is problematic about that word.

Leo wrote that Mary, a good Mother and a good spouse, gave a helping hand to both Son and husband,
.................. felix
si potest curas relevare fessis
       munere amico.
[ ................. happy
if she can lighten, with a friendly duty,
      cares for the weary.]
But, apparently, 'fessis' suggests to the Francophone ear not 'weary' but 'buttocks'. So Dom Anselmo Lentini changed it to the problem-free word 'lassis', thus spoiling the alliterative "felix ... fessis" but sparing the blushes of that notoriously bashful constituency, the French clergy. (I will award this Blog's Order of Chastity, Fourth Class, which authorises you to have a pink pompom on your biretta, to any reader who can demonstrate that there is another language in which 'lassis' is even more indelicate than 'fessis' is in French.)

Leo was a fluent French speaker. Yet, as a cultivated Latinist, he wrote "fessis" without a moment's anxiety. What sort of cultural shift has landed us with an 'emancipated' society in which the word is too sniggerworthy to be printable?

26 December 2015

Barchester Diary

Last year, I printed the first half of this piece, as below, but never got round to getting the second half out of storage. I plan to unveil it in two days' time.

 "Be careful what you say to Jill", Fr Spikenard had murmured to me as his wife was out of the room and doubtlessly powdering her extremity. I had come down to Barchester to pay them a spring visit, and to see how the Barchester Ordinariate Group was flourishing. "She's in a foul mood ... some 'liberal' Catholic journalist has just written that the Ordinariate is a Damp Squib, and she wants blood". I was not surprised; even when we were all in the Church of England the womenfolk of our movement were combative far beyond us chaps. So, as we made our way, for a pre-lunch stroll, to the Botanical Gardens (constructed in the old Kitchen Garden of the Bishop's Palace: modern Anglican bishops, despite their impeccably 'Green' credentials, prefer the Waitrose delivery van to the employment of gardeners and under-gardeners), I let the other two do the talking. Jill was full of what, in her view, "the Ordinary should do" to put Catholic journals, Catholic journalists, Catholic basset hounds, Catholic whatevers, in what she noisily but imprecisely called 'their place'. "My dear", urged her spouse, "do be careful what you say. The Monsignore, poor chap, has to get on with these people". Jill swiveled gracefully on the heel of her left foot and, perfectly balanced, delivered with her right foot what I can only call a practised kick to her husband's left ankle. "Don't you mydear me, you ... you ... you ... husband", she purred. I felt that, whatever the risks, it was my duty to provide a distraction from this developing 'domestic'. So ...

"So how are you getting on with your three o'clock slot on Sunday afternoons in the the Sacred Heart?" I hastily and heartily enquired. Fr Spikenard let out a roar of laughter ... he always was noisy in his mirth, even when, as now, he was in acute pain. "None of that now. We've really fallen on our feet". We had got as far as the Carnivorous Plants House; he bent momentarily to examine a Drosera erythrogyne, which, red in tooth and claw, was terminating a small fly (and to rub his ankle). "Mercifully, the old Bishop of Hogglestock retired, and we got a new one. Another really alpha-plus Mennini appointment." "Anyone would have been better than that nasty old *  *." said Jill. She is not the easiest of women to please. Thank God that I ... er ... Her husband was less reserved. "Absolutely marvellous bloke. The first thing he did was to give us S Philomena's ... lock, stock, and barrel, church, presbytery, school, parish endowments, clerical stipend, and all." S Philomena's Barchester, as readers of Mgr Knox will know, is a glorious extravaganza in High Puginesque; the 'Mr Roodscreen' credited with its design is usually thought to be a pseudonym for old A W himself. "It needed a lot of work", said Jill. "We had to get back the roodscreen from some nice sensible high church Methodists who gave it a home when the Romans threw it out in the early seventies, and to reverse the complete vandalisation of the Sanctuary". "That must have cost you a pretty penny", I suggested. With a modest, triumphant smile, but withal a noticeable limp, Fr Colin remarked, as he led us on to the Cactus House, "As the Bishop suggested, I got together with the Latin Mass Society group in Barchester and we shared the costs. I'll show you the result after lunch".

"You see, this is how we divide up Sunday", he went on to explain. "9.30, I celebrate a Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form for their lot. Then, at 11, I do the Anglican Use solemnly for our lot from S Gregory's. I don't think most of either congregation can spot much difference between the two rites ... the congregations are getting more and more interchangeable  ... E and B at 6 ... the Saturday Vigil Mass I retained as a 1970s retro period piece for those who like that sort of thing; it's celebrated for me by an aged retired monsignore ... claims to have been a peritus at the Council of Vienne ... all the authentic rituals of circa 1972 ... archaic ladies with jangly necklaces as Eucharistic Ministers ... sub-orthodox ditties chosen by a 'Liturgy Committee' all in their eighties ... girl servers ... ". "They have trouble keeping those", said Jill, with glee. Her bloodlust appeared to have abated. "The girls soon realise there are better things on offer and buy themselves mantillas and go to the Sunday Masses instead, so as to watch the rather nice-looking boys we have in our serving teams ... I think this year's Chartres Pilgrimage may result in our first engagement ... wonder what their children will be like ... S Pius V crossed with Thomas Cranmer ... ". "Mutual Enrichment", I helpfully suggested, first having checked that my ankles were out of her range.

At this point a most unwanted interruption broke in upon our idyll. From the other side of a large and undisciplined Agave americana 'Variegata' came the sound of a loud and confident voice. It was extremely arrogant, cut-glass and English Establishment; and had all the hallmarks of being an accent, and a timbre, picked up, not from m'tutor at a large school near Slough, but from an expensive elocutionist. The sort of accent Americans can't make up their minds whether they 'just love', or totally hate. The vegetable monstrosity itself seemed to shrink under the burden of the assertive decibels. Then emerged the dapper figure of a carefully groomed gentleman dressed as a bishop. He was accompanied by what was clearly a gaggle of American clergywomen. "Armitage Shanks" hissed Jill under her breath. Her foot (her right foot) began to quiver.

Can this really be the Right Reverend the Father in God the eighty third Lord Bishop of Barchester, Armitage Jefferson Millhouse Shanks, in propria persona? Continued after tomorrow.

23 December 2015


I wonder if there is a list available of the images illustrating Biodiversity which are being projected onto the facade of S Peter's ... the only pictures I have seen have been of the more "Attenborough" bits of fauna ... furry mammals ... graceful whales ... you know what I mean. What about the rest of God's creation? All of it, so Dogma informs us, is Good (or are you a Manichaean?).

I will believe that this show is about something more than childish sentimentality when I hear that an image of the Ebola Virus or of an advanced brain tumour has been 'screened'. Or Adolf Hitler. Or, as an example of the wondrous symbioses of Nature, the maggots on the decomposing corpse of a Black Rat.

(I invite readers to nominate their own varied and illuminating examples of Biodiversity.)

"The Papa Bergoglio Cuddly Pets Show" is my own private title for this daft misuse of a superb piece of baroque architecture.

UPDATE is it technologically possible to project three-dimensional images? So that, when the Holy Father makes his public appearance on Christmas Morning, he could appear to be wearing the Triregnum?


There are two things I thought too obvious to say; but perhaps they do need to be said.

(1) Although the Fathers, and the Byzantine Liturgy, do sometimes talk about Church superseding Synagogue, I think this may, in the very strictest pedantry, be anachronistic. Historically, Synagogue Judaism and Eucharistically Sacrificial Christianity both emerged from the period 33-70 A.D., after which, of course, Temple Judaism was an impossibility. In terms of simply historical narrative, neither religion is, strictly speaking, the "Father" or the "Elder brother" of the other, however attractive such language may be diplomatically.

(2) Supersession most certainly does not mean that Gentile supersedes Jew. The man who has Faith (whether Jew or Gentile) supersedes the one who does not have Faith (whether Jew or Gentile). As S Paul says on page after page of Romans, God has bracketed both Jew and Gentile together under Sin, so that both equally need and can receive Mercy. Nor does Supersession mean that Gentile is better than Jew, or that Jews have some inherent inherited defect from which Gentiles are free. They don't.

And a personal note.

I have never, in the course of my life, done the Holy Week liturgies in any form other than the Novus Ordo forms. Further: I have never even attended the older rites. My only motives for getting involved in this question are: a feeling of outrage about a matter of principle; a more general sense of unease about those who, in various areas, seem keen to demolish  what was Magisterially established or confirmed less than a decade ago; and a personal disgust at those now jumping onto a let's-trash-Ratzinger bandwagon. 

And a philological speculation.

If the term Supersessio upsets some people so much, why don't we offer to use instead some other word from the rich vein of terms used by S Paul in Romans Chapter 11: apobole, perhaps, or apotomia, or  exeklasthesan [thrusting away; cutting off; they were broken off].

22 December 2015

There is a thoroughly admirable section in our beloved Holy Father's admirable Year of Mercy Homily which will undoubtedly have the German and English Cardinals and Bishops dashing around frantically to "correct" what the Holy Father has said. His words: " ... the Church ... has set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey ... *wherever there is one person, the Church is called to reach out to him and to bring the joy of the Gospel and the Mercy and Forgiveness of God."*. "No No No" Their Eminences will feverishly cry, the cry dutifully re-echoed by Their (conclamant suffragan) Lordships. "You mustn't get the wrong impression. It really is absolutely totally wrong even to think of converting Jews. When Francis said 'wherever there is one person' he most definitely never meant a Jewish person. Obviously, no sensible individual thinks of Jews as persons. Certainly not nowadays after Nostra aetate. We must never ever suggest that Jews might be brought the 'joy of the Gospel' or the 'Mercy and forgiveness of God'. Our Ecumenical Advisers would never forgive us".

Personally, I am a terribly simple sort of  ... er ... person. I assume that the Successor of S Peter meant precisely what he said, not least because what he said is totally at one with the teaching of Scripture and with the Church's Tradition. "Wherever there is one person". Pope Francis' words remind us of the Good Shepherd who wasn't content to have the 99 safe and sound but searched and searched for the One Sheep until he found it. And I think that, in their implicit disagreement with these words of Pope Francis, and with what Pope Benedict wrote, and with the teaching of so many Roman Pontiffs, the German and English Episcopal Conferences have recently given us the very best reason to be extremely apprehensive about the idea of allowing Bishops' Conferences a greater doctrinal competence. It pains me to have to say this, but they have demonstrated with the utmost clarity that this is not the time to entrust them with something so dangerous: I mean, with the capacity to impose upon the consciences of dutiful Catholics possibly dubious teachings which they would be supposed to receive with religiosum obsequium. 

In my - as ever - extremely humble opinion, Apostolos suos rules, OK. It settled the question of what such conferences are ecclesiologically, and what, consequently, their doctrinal status is. And the teaching of the John Paul II and Benedict XVI Magisterium on the integrally related question of the ontological priority of the Universal over the Particular Church, rules, too. The 24 years between the appointment of Joseph Ratzinger as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, and his abdication as Pope, represented doctrinally and intellectually a most significant and satisfactory period in the Church's life. Hans Kueng's impotent fury and the pathetic figure of Walter Kasper whinging on the sidelines were, and are, deplorable irrelevances. So is the nastiness of those, of whatever rank in the Church, who attack Ratzinger and his legacy when he is no longer able to answer back.

(*-* Original text as delivered in Italian by the Holy Father: "Dovunque c'e una persona, la la Chiesa e chiamata a raggiungerla per portare la gioia del Vangelo e portare la misericordia e il perdono di Dio." The translations into the other three Romance languages have the equivalents of 'una persona'. The English translation which was put out reads ".. wherever there are people ...". A probable grammatical motive for the unfortunate change is that in English the word "people" can be resumed by the non-gender-specific pronoun "them", whereas "one person" forces a speaker into the politically-incorrect gender-specific "him". ~ ~ ~ What about the Arabic, German, and Polish versions?)

21 December 2015

The BBC, Edward Stourton, and an ex-Jesuit mock and misdescribe Indulgences

In the December 20 'Sunday' programme, the presenter, 'Ed' Stourton, a Catholic who 'remarried' after divorce, invited 'Michael Walsh, a papal historian', to explain Indulgences.

He did not mention that Walsh is an ex-Jesuit with a history of attacking the Vatican and the previous pontificate; a Tablet contributor. 'A papal historian' sounds so much grander than 'a failed Jesuit who has attacked the Vatican in the Tablet.'

By the way ... I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this ... Stourton, inevitably, is a Trustee of the Tablet.

The first conspicuous feature of the episode was the laughter. The pair kept giggling together: I counted six pieces of mirth.

I wonder if either of this spiteful and malevolent pair would ever dare to deal with any other religion ... Islam, say ... by continually laughing as they talked about it. Or, if they did, how fast the Beeb would sack them.

And there were two major pieces of misrepresentation. (1) The 'papal historian' appeared unaware that, as long ago as 1967, the practice of attaching periods of time to partial indulgences was abolished. He described this practice using the present tense.

And, (2), either out of ignorance or mendacity, 'papal historian' Walsh went on to claim that Pope Francis "has never mentioned [indulgences]"; and "that's not where we are at the moment". The implication of the interview appeared to be that Indulgences are a load of old rubbish which Sensible Pope Francis is burying by very studiously not mentioning. So what is the truth of the matter?

"This practice [gaining indulgences] will acquire an even more important meaning [magnum pondus] in the Holy Year of Mercy." This is from a paragraph in the Bull of Indiction, in which the Roman Pontiff goes on to commend the practice. Furthermore, in a Letter dated 1 September 2015, our Holy Father set out at length the methods of securing Indulgences during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And, in his Bull, he carefully explained their purpose: that Absolution remits sin, but "the sin leaves a negative effect [contradictionem]". An indulgence "frees us from even the residue [vestigia] left by the consequences of sin".

I fail to see why this weekly BBC programme, its 'flagship' religious slot, should be left in the hands of Stourton, a lapsed Catholic who, like so many of his type, seems to me to be very far from being neutral with regard to the religion which he once professed. And why, if it must give space to someone like Walsh, the Beeb doesn't balance him with somebody who will defend the Church, even if only by giving accurate information about her.

I thought 'balance' was supposed to be one of the BBC rules.

20 December 2015

Christmas Cards (2)

 ... and, carrying on from the previous post, I would like to express my appreciation in hoc tempore Adventus et Natalis Domini to those who work in the Curia Romana, and especially in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I do so in advance of the Holy Father's imminent good wishes on Monday December 21!

I have no way of knowing what truth there is in the easy denigrations made so often of the Curia. I can only say that my own experiences have been invariably and unambiguously favourable. When we were formally applying to the CDF for the necessary dispensations to join the Presbyterate of the Ordinariate, I was impressed by the speed and efficiency and kindness with which they dealt with the necessary matters. It compared very favourably with the conduct at that time of some other Catholics. Friends with whom I have spoken have had the same good experiences as I did, both with regard to that particular period; and also on other occasions when they have been in touch with members of the Curia, both high and less high. Such members have often, I have been told, gone well beyond the call of duty to be as helpful as they could. And during the period of the gestation of the Anglican Use Missal, we have been dealt with in the kindest possible way, as well as with good sense and meticulous learning.

Journalists do not often clutter up their copy with the undramatic News of how hard, and how well, members of the Curia work. I would like to take the opportunity of filling this lacuna; and, not least, because this is a time when working in the Curia, and particularly in the CDF, may be accompanied by unusual complications.

So ... both humble thanks and dutiful best wishes to His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Mueller; thanks to those highly important people in Ecclesia Dei; and to all the Cardinal's collaborators ... and especially to one particular worker who is due, I gather, in 2016 to leave Rome to return to America. I wrote that before his appointment was gazetted!

Ubicumque fueritis, fausta vobis precor tempora.

Christmas Cards (1)

Out of pure idleness, Pam and I stopped sending Christmas Cards some years ago. But I would like to thank all readers and correspondents for their kindness in reading what I write, and the additional kindness of ensuring that I get to know that there are people out there reading it! I do offer Mass for my readers.

 A Blessed Advent and a fruitful Expectation of the Lord's Coming.

19 December 2015

The German (and English) Bishops and Nostra aetate


                                                         SUGGESTIO FALSI?

On 24:11:2015, the English Bishops put out an explanation of their contentious resolution which had called for the Ecclesia Dei Commission to "review" the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews which was composed in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI for use in the Extraordinary Form. Benedict's Prayer was designed to replace the ancient Prayer as lightly revised by S John XXIII. It was his intention thus to put an end to the controversy which had surrounded the ancient Prayer.

This is what the CBCEW explanation said:
"In 1970 the Prayer for the Jews in the Liturgy for Good Friday was revised so as to reflect and express the teaching on Judaism contained in the Vatican II document Nostra aetate. In particular, it removed offensive references to the Jews and did not pray for the conversion of the Jews."

I think any reasonable reader would infer from this that Nostra aetate either forbade or discouraged prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

It did nothing of the sort. Read it and see. Or, if you can't be bothered, and you don't trust my say-so, here is part of the recent discussion Document put out by a Vatican department on relations between Catholicism and Judaism:

 " ... the Conciliar text is not infrequently over-interpreted, and things are read into it which it does not in fact contain. An important example of over-interpretation would be the following: that the covenant that God made with his people Israel perdures and is never invalidated. Although this statement is true, it cannot be explicitly read into Nostra aetate."

(It is, of course, on the grounds that the Jews already have a still valid 'deal' with God that some people now think it wrong to pray for them to turn to Christ, or for the Good News of the Gospel to be brought to them.)

The CBCEW 'Explanation' also conveyed, at least to me, the impression that Jews are feeling upset because the Prayer which Pope Benedict composed has not been banned. Those who watched the Vatican News Conference to present the recent discussion Document will recall that the contrary seemed to be the case. If those responsible for the CBCEW Resolution and Explanation have not listened to that News Conference on Vatican TV Player, perhaps, over Christmas, they might be able to find the time to do so, since they have already been able to find the time to compose Resolutions and Explanations.

I'm afraid I feel compelled to say that bishops ... even bishops ... especially bishops, and especially when they appear to be teaching publicly, should try really, really hard not to mislead. It is contentious and divisive.

                                                            MY HYPOTHESIS

The 'Explanation' put out did, most interestingly, reveal that the English Bishops were meekly following in the footsteps of the German Episcopal Conference. This depressing fact does, I think, give us a plausible historical context for what is really going on here.

The German Bishops 'have form'. After the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, they clearly resented its reliance on 'subsidiarity' and attempted, in a very bad-tempered set of regulations, to circumscribe the rights which had been conferred upon their presbyters. Then, in 2009, when the SSPX excommunications had been lifted, and it looked as if a canonical regularisation of the SSPX was imminent, they tried to prevent SSPX ordinations within their jurisdictions: an attempt which was partially successful in as far as Rome asked the Society to move some Ordinations away from its German seminary; to which request the SSPX tactfully acceded.

There are now persistent rumours that Pope Francis, who is not always terribly concerned about liturgical and legal minutiae, would like to see the SSPX 'problem' solved. The German Bishops did their best to prevent reconciliation in 2009; they must be furious that, having kicked that particular ball into the long grass of the present Pontificate, they now find, to their horror, that a deal looks, if anything, more likely under Francis than it did under Benedict.

In their panic, they had to find something to do to prevent our beloved Holy Father's goodwill and instinctive pastoral bias from achieving the tangible result of reconciliation among estranged Christians during his Jubilee Year of Mercy.

This German plot with regard to Pope Benedict's Good Friday Prayer seems to me clearly and specifically designed to give the SSPX grounds to worry that, after a deal with Rome, they would be vulnerable to arbitrary interference from any group of hostile bishops who succeeded in securing some leverage, or getting somebody's significant ear, in the Vatican. It would be profoundly sad, but hardly unnatural, if some SSPX clergy were even now in touch with Bishop Fellay to say "Hang on: look at what you might be getting us into".

So ... a spoiling tactic designed to stir up trouble and so to prevent unity and concord within the Mystical Body of Christ? If so, a thoroughly nasty mentality would be at work here, the ultimate source of which would be fairly obvious. But things could work out for the best! If, as seems likely, Ecclesia Dei declines to change Pope Benedict's Prayer, it will demonstrate that Cardinal Marx's imperial ambitions have not established an ascendancy over at least one particular dicastery. Which could and should reassure SSPX doubters.

I would be willing to put a modest sum on the SSPX business getting solved during 2016.

I wonder who brought, and why, that proposal to the CBCEW table; and how unanimous the opinion around that table was. It is a shame that the CBCEW is not open in its deliberations, as the American Conference is.

18 December 2015


Since Canon 1251 makes clear that there is no Abstinence on Solemnities, today has been the last day you have an obligation of Abstinence until Friday 8 January.

Obcessions, obcessions

While some of you are obc{P}essed with reviving archaic orthographies, here am I working my socks off at the philological coal-face of logogenesis. I do this by combing through the undergraduate freebie newspapers. Here is a recent specimen of my discoveries (do not write in giving examples of the use of the following word as far back as 1464 or even 2014, or I may have to hurt you, as we schoolmasters say).

CISHET. (Substantive.) The syllables apparently divide between the S and the H. A combination of "cismale" or "cisfemale" with "heterosexual". In other words, a "cishet" is the sort of tedious and boring person whose physiology is surgically unmodified, and who also is forced to spend his or her life labouring under the burden of an incurable heterosexual orientation. I suspect it may be designed to supplant the now obsolete term "straight". (Readers who hobble on walking sticks to 'bus stops while clutching their 'bus passes in their arthritic fingers may remember a distant day when the word used to indicate this phenomenon was "normal". My assumption is that each term, after achieving acceptance and usage, gradually comes ... for whatever reason ... to be deemed politically incorrect. Rather as we always seem to be in need of a new term for Urinals.)

In case it might help, I invite you to consider the picture at the side of this blog.

This is what a cishet looks like. 

Father Tim ...

 ... has had a "cardiac episode", and I imagine that those who will remember him in their prayers will be very many. Dear Father, very best wishes.

17 December 2015

George Weigel ... and Unresolved Juxtapositions

So some American neocon called George Weigel has assured us that 'supersessionism' is a heresy. A bit lordly; who is this inquisitorial individual that he has the competence to tell us that we are heretics? The Vatican Document on Catholic-Jewish relations which I have been discussing itself informs us that supersessionism was the teaching of many of the Fathers and of the medieval, not to say post-medieval, Catholic world. And the Document itself describes itself as non-Magisterial, non-doctrinal. But, if my memory serves me, this is the same Weigel who wrote a hagiographical extravaganza about S John Paul II, in which just about the only criticism he could bring himself to make is that the Holy Pontiff was insufficiently enthusiastic about neocon- and zionist- backed military adventures in the Middle East. And he's a tough man, Weigel, on anybody who doesn't accept his own favoured option with regard to the horns of the dilemma left to us by Dignitatis humanae (he had his reservations about rapprochement with the SSPX).

Most people who are into this sort of stuff know that the text of Dignitatis humanae of Vatican II began by saying that it changed nothing of the Church's previous doctrine about Religious Liberty; and then went on to give teaching that most people (both those who liked it and those who disliked it) thought contradicted that earlier Magisterium. And no hermeneutic was offered to guide anybody who wanted to fit these apparent polar contradictions into a unity.

My own instinct is that this is an unhelpful way of carrying on. But I accept that disagreement is possible here. Perhaps such teaching can helpfully impel theological practictioners towards a valuable new synthesis. I'm open to persuasion. You convince me.

The Vatican discussion Document on Catholicism and Judaism plays the same game. It asserts with ringing clarity that all men need Jesus for Salvation, and repudiates the idea that there can be two covenants, one for Jews and one for Gentiles. Those who put the Document together understand the fundamental grammar of the Christian Faith well enough for this. But they then place beside it the idea that God's covenant with Israel is not revoked. Realising the prima facie contradiction, they fall back upon invoking Divine Mystery.

S Paul, also, believed in both of these truths. But he did not leave the matter dangling between unresolved polarities. For him
(1) Israel is God's Olive Tree.
(2) When the Messiah came, most of Israel did not believe, while a few did.
(3) This is within the familiar Old Testament theme of the small Faithful Remnant.
(4) So the unbelieving Jewish branches are broken off the Olive Tree and thrown aside.
(5) And wild olive branches, believing Gentiles, are grafted into the old stem in their place.
(6) But at the End, when the fulness of the Gentiles has accepted God's offer, then the broken off branches, moved by jealousy at this Gentile success, will turn to God.
(7) And will be grafted back in.
(8) So that God will, indeed, have been true to his Covenantal promises to Israel.

What this means is that in the Now, the Age between Incarnation and the End, unbelieving Jews are in a broken-off state; not part of God's Olive Tree. God has certainly not revoked his Covenant; but unbelieving Jews have walked away from it and their privileges are occupied by the abiding faithful covenantal community composed of the Faithful Jewish Remnant and of Gentiles who by that same Faith have joined them; videlicet the Catholic Church. [In other words, the Vatican Document deftly hides (4) out of view like the hired conjuror at a children's party, and, having distracted you from it by sleight of hand, loudly trumpets a version of (8) which has been denuded of the logical and biblical substructure given in (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7). This is the sort of jiggery pokery you always end up being served in 'ecumenical' documents. And it is the sort of slipshod game played by Weigel in his article.]

I imagine that the embarrassing conclusion I have printed above in red is the practical reason why the Vatican Document (not to mention Weigel) steers clear of S Paul's perfectly logical construction with all the fastidiousness of your maiden aunt giving a wide berth to a hippy orgy.

Or perhaps your maiden aunts are all liberated ladies.

16 December 2015

The Synodal report ...

 ... having, at very long last, officially appeared in English (not, incidentally, the natural English of an Anglophone) has received some approval. I really can't see much wrong with it at all ... er ... except that I can't find any affirmation of the principle of the Church's Magisterium that adulterers need to refrain from Holy Communion (Familiaris consortio [1981] para 84; Sacramentum Caritatis [2007] para 29).

Perhaps this is time to re-examine the document called the Henotikon [482]. It couldn't be called heretical because of what it said ... but how about what it didn't say at a time when it should have said it?

Was Pope Honorius a heretic? I'm not sure I can remember.

Some people still criticise Venerable Pius XII ... not for being antisemitic, but for lacking in public clarity with regard to the slaughter of millions of Jews ... is that right?

After 1950, would it have been an adequate expression of Catholic orthodoxy to say that our Lady's soul had been assumed into heavenly glory?

Extraordinary Form Mercy

I haven't read anywhere about provisions or suggestions put officially in place for the benefit of those who use the EF and who, praiseworthily, might wish to associate themselves with our Holy Father's Jubilee Year of Mercy. If somebody else has heard of official suggestions, perhaps they will share them with me and their fellow readers.

The Mass Pro Remissione Peccatorum seems very suitable and even refers to knocking at the Holy Door! (Under the 1962 rules, one can't say Votives in Advent or Lent.) Any ideas?

The Appendix pro aliquibus locis gives, in July, a Mass of our Lady Mother of Mercy, consisting simply of the Common Mass Salve with a proper Collect.

My own Anglican and Patrimonial instincts incline me to remind you of the Litany, or Litanies. Perhaps of the Quarant' Ore?

Any other ideas?

15 December 2015

Homily at the Opening of the Holy Door (1)

"How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgement before we speak of them being forgiven by his mercy". This statement of our Holy Father Pope Francis, with which I have no disagreement whatsoever, is followed by a suggestion that we should go and look at S Augustine's De Praedestinatione Sanctorum XII 24.

Obedient to our beloved Holy Father's lightest suggestion, I duly turned up that locus in S Augustine of Hippo. And I am left a trifle bewildered. It is a discussion of the views of people who, in S Augustine's time, debated the very different destiny of those babies who died without Baptism, and those who died baptised. There were, apparently, those who argued that babies who died baptised went to heaven because God knew that, if they had lived, they would have lived well; the unbaptised went to a different fate because God knew that if they had lived they would have deserved condemnation. I've never met anybody who discussed that ... might it be a common discussion point amongst those subtle chaps the Argentinian Jesuits? ... and I can't see its relevance to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And does the Holy Father really believe that unbaptised babies go to Hell? Even during a Year of Mercy? An unusual idea to grandstand.

I did notice a nearby passage (VI 11) in which S Augustine brings up and juxtaposes both Mercy and Judgement as he discusses the different fates of those Jews who refused the Gospel and those Jews, rather fewer, who accepted it. His discussion is based upon a careful exegesis of Romans 11:5-10. S Augustine concludes: "Here is Mercy and Judgement ... Mercy towards the Election [= those Jews who, chosen by God, accepted the Gospel] which has obtained the Righteousness of God; but Judgement to the rest [unbelieving Jews] who have been blinded". "Blinded" is a theme S Paul had deployed earlier in his life when he discussed Jewish unbelief in II Corinthians 2: 7-18; and the idea that those who rejected the Gospel have been deliberately blinded by God so that "seeing they might not see ... lest they turn and receive forgiveness", on the biblical evidence, arguably goes back to the teaching of the Lord himself as reported at Mark 4: 11-12.

Could this be the teaching of S Augustine which the Sovereign Pontiff had in mind?

What a bold Pope. Not many modern Pontiffs choose to address the philosophical and theological problems of Predestination. Nor do I often preach about it. Perhaps another Holy Year after the present one? A Jubilee Year of Predestination? With special indulgences for Calvinists? It could be celebrated with a double Holy Door; one entry for those predestined to Heaven, the other for those predestined to Hell. Confessarii specially commissioned by the Roman Pontiff could be there to tell everybody which category they were in. I bet that would get the crowds flocking along!! Wow!

14 December 2015

Fr Hunwicke admits he's wrong

That post of mine about how I won't accept comments spelling supersession as supercession ... a learned reader has deftly attacked me at the indubitably weakest chink in my armour: PEDANTRY. He has pointed out that Middle English offers examples of the spelling with -c-.

Fair enough. OK. I'll buy that. Mea culpa: I withdraw. I had thought that it was just a mistake, a confusion of supersession with all the -cession nouns, not an exquisite and erudite Medievalism. You get your own way, accompanied by sincerest apologies for my heavy-handed incomprehension. Schoolmastering is such a soul-deadening profession.

But will you meet me half way? When you play these delightful games of Pedantry with me, could you very kindly indicate this by inserting into your text {P} so that I know what's going on?

Thus, when you spell possession as poscession or pocession, because of Medieval precedents, could you write it as poc{P}ession?

Gosh, isn't this fun?!! 

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 (sancita) 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 (a multis sacrificiis ad unam hostim) , that when the Lord gave up the ghost the mystic veil, interposed to hide the inner parts 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 (well, 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; and in both East and West.

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 has anything happened to 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.

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 all 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 because it aligns their words with the clear teaching of S Paul in Romans 11. 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 (Francis) flatly contradicted, in a doctrinal matter, what his predecessor (Benedict) 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, even slavishly, 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. A highly foolish over-reaction; indeed, injurious to his soul. If a Council or a Pope says something which can be taken either as heresy or orthodoxy, a Hermeneutic of Continuity requires one to opt for the latter interpretation (while deploring the ambiguity).

13 December 2015

Here comes that schoolmaster again ...

 ... irascibly to make clear that, from this point onwards, I will not consider comments which spell "supersede" as "supercede". The word comes from the Latin super + sedeo. Perhaps a contrary orthography has grown up in North America; some years ago now I found the incorrect spelling in something I was reviewing by an American Orthodox writer who was edging her way towards favouring the 'ordination' of women. But ...

... don't bother to tell me that languages evolve; because this Edict is final. Don't evolve on this blog. Go away and evolve instead on Dr Kirk's blog Ignatius His Conclave ... which, incidentally, is in strikingly good form at the moment. Dr Kirk, formerly Anglican Vicar of a South London Parish, is a fellow member of the Ordinariate. Vivamus. Vivemus.

(Tomorrow, Deo volente, the final two pieces of my series on Nostra aetate.)

12 December 2015

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 last January, 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].

Easter is going to be a particularly difficult time for those who try to combine the use of the Liturgia Horarum with the Two Covenants dogma as well as with a prohibition on praying for the conversion of Jews. At Evening Prayer on Easter Day (and also on the Third and Fifth Sundays of Eastertide for those who are forgetful), the Preces prescribe "Israel in te Christum spei suae agnoscat". And, to reinforce this message, the Patristic Lection for Easter Monday will be a very typical and typological passage taken from the (highly supersessionist) Homily of S Melito of Sardis (worth, incidentally reading in its entirety). Those with a nose for dishonest hypocrisy may be starting to wonder why such a fuss is made about an element used in the Good Friday Liturgy of a comparatively tiny number of traddy Catholics when every Novus Ordo Latin Rite priest in the whole world who prays the post-Conciliar Office is expected to pray on Easter Sunday (and twice more in Eastertide) that "Israel may acknowledge in Thee [Jesus] the Christ/Messiah for whom it has hoped" ... and not a word is said. Hush!! Don't wake up the bigots!

These lections (and preces) have the greater significance in that they are not accidental hangovers from the old Breviary; they were newly introduced (or composed) by the post-conciliar revisers. 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 Covenants 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. I add in 2015: the 2015 'Document' admits that "the Conciliar text is not infrequently over-interpreted, and things read into it which it does not contain ... example ... that the covenant that God made with his people Israel perdures and is never invalidated ... it cannot be explicitly read into Nostra aetate". And it goes on to date the first appearance of this idea to 1980. Nobody seems to have worried them [the post-Conciliar liturgical reformers]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 trendy bigots 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, the basic grammatical structure of how as Christians we read the Bible, that my examination of the texts I have just worked so laboriously through with you, 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 Covenants Dogma to be criticised. This is done not only by rabbinic interests naturally and understandably 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, I wonder 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, so as to ensure that our Jewish brethren are protected from the risk that anyone might explain to them what two Christian millennia have taught.

I recall with wonderment the decision of the Anglican diocese of Manchester some 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? (Does he refuse to sell properties 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. I hope so. Otherwise we would have to suspect that the whole business was just a spiteful recrudescence of the basic old ancestral English no-Popery anti-Catholic hysteria ... of plain common and garden bigotry. Nothing has changed ... except that nowadays the English RC Church joins in the persecution.
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.

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, even if written by someone of the stature of S Thomas. Do I seem to exaggerate? I will challenge anyone who thinks I do to give a plain answer to this question:
If those who attack 'Supersessionism' get their way, shall we any longer be allowed at Benediction to sing Et antiquum documentum/ novo cedat ritui or, during the Mass of Corpus Christi, ... novum Pascha novae legis,/ Phase vetus terminat.//Vetustatem novitas,/ umbram fugat veritas,/ noctem lux eliminat; all about how 'the Old', 'the Shadow', 'the Night; must give way to, or is put to flight by, 'the New', 'the Light', 'the Truth'? 

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.

11 December 2015

Ordinariate Use (14) [and "the Vatican Document"]

A small but growing group of clergy consists of priests incardinated into one or other of the three ordinariates from time to time use the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as well as the Ordinary and Anglican Use Forms. The Pope Francis (i.e. Ordinariate) Missal helps to solve one or two minor rubrical problems which such admirable (often younger) clergy might have. Example:

When Blessed John Henry Newman was beatified, he acquired a liturgical Collect for Mass and Office. But as far as I know, no provision was made for which of the two alternative Commons for a Confessor Not A Pontiff in the 1962 Missal should be used: Os iusti or Iustus ut palma. So ... on his feast day, or if you wish to say a Votive, which Mass should you select?

The Pope Francis Missal (substantially) reverts to the provision of Commons found in the old English Missal, which, of course, was an English rendering of the Missal of S Pius V. So ... look up Blessed John Henry on October 9. Do you see the words "From the Common of Confessors ... (pp 932-934)"? If you turn to those pages, you will discover ... the Mass Os iusti!

MY DAILY PIECES ON NOSTRA AETATE WILL CONTINUE TOMORROW. And: I have read the Vatican Document and find it distinctly more nuanced than do either those who laud it or those who are appalled and horrified. But there are glaring omissions, of which I will briefly list one. Videlicet: it sets rabbinic, Synagogue, Judaism beside Catholicism, without mentioning Temple, sacrificial Judaism. This is of course because the latter no longer (really) exists. And possibly because Catholic ecumenists, since the liturgical corruptions that followed the Council, do not see their own Faith through sacrificial lenses. BUT ... I shall, of course return to this.

10 December 2015

Jews and Christians dialogue in Rome: a bad day for the Tablet

As write this after lunch on Thursday, I have not yet discovered the new document on Catholic-Jewish relations on the Vatican website; but one can find, on the Vatican Player TV, its interesting Press Presentation. Behind the table were the sempiternal Fr Lombardi; Cardinal Koch; a Fr Hoffmann (of whom I had not heard); Ed Kessler, who runs the Woolf Institute in the other University and is a Fellow of S Edmund's College there; and the always immensely impressive Rabbi David Rosen, who was once Chief Rabbi of Ireland and now works in Jerusalem as Adviser on Interreligious Affairs to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

It is not my purpose to give you an account of the Presentation; you can watch/listen yourselves. (The two Jews spoke in English, and Cardinal Koch sometimes did.) I think you will not be sorry if you find the time to do this. Ah ... I should have mentioned ... Rosen and Kessler were not part of the group who produced the new document, and I think you will find that the criticisms they made of it ab extra were of no little interest.

But what had me keeling over with laughter was ... the Questions! And whod'yethink asked the first one? No contest! Christopher Lamb, Rome Correspondent of the wad'yethink ... the Tablet! And wad'yethink he asked? He had two questions, utraque quaestio tablettissima.

(1) He pointed out that the document, as it is self-described, was non-doctrinal and non-magisterial, and asked whether there should now be a second Nostra aetate. You get it? I think he has read (which most people haven't) Nostra aetate and he realises that it doesn't actually say the stuff he wants; so now he demands something "doctrinal and Magisterial" so as to be able to rub in the gravel the noses of those of us who are not of the Tablettentendenz. The Tablet has not always been so enthusiastic about getting new doctrinal Magisterial statements from Rome nor always so very ostentatious about its adherence to what the Magisterium has already uttered. When Professor Ratzinger presided at the Palazzo of the Holy Office, the Tablet was not always hanging around his door whining "Please Eminence give us more Dogma"! But now ...

Nobody on the Panel seemed inclined to run with this idea. Rosen, in particular, was grandly dismissive.

(2) Next, Lamb asked about the Good Friday Prayer composed in 2008 by the Holy Father Pope Benedict for use in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Yes! Uncanny ... one might almost call the Tablet the House Journal of the English Bishops ... and of course, of those nice German ones too. But the poor little fellow got precious little out of his brave attempt to Give a Helping Hand to the Bishops' Campaign. Kessler diffidently said that the word Perfidia was rather questionable ... strange, don't you think, that a Fellow of St Edmund's, a 'Catholic' college, isn't aware that Perfidia exited the text in the time of S John XXIII. (But it does at least demonstrate that there hasn't been much debate among academic Jews about Benedict's prayer of 2008, otherwise Kessler would not have been so poorly informed about the question.) Cardinal Koch explained that the Benedict Prayer had not been properly understood; and gave an account of its eschatological thrust (its teaching that, as S Paul taught, it is at the End that all Israel will be converted). Rabbi Rosen clearly wasn't interested in Lamb's puerile attempts to make trouble; he very courteously observed that only a tiny percentage of the Catholic world used the Latin prayer and that most of it used the prayer in the Novus Ordo ... a prayer which he called "very fine". He thought that the problem about the EF was not in the Prayer but in the title. Koch then observed that this was like a problem one so often got with journalists: a good article but a bad heading. This seemed to amuse the panelists more than it did the journalists. Hoffmann and Koch both thought that Benedict's prayer would be a valuable stimulus to further discussion and dialogue.

A few moments later, Rabbi Rosen praised Benedict XVI for his wisdom and his humour, observing that people did not often notice the latter (I do). Perhaps this will be next Friday's Tablet banner headline:


What odds would you offer me on that possibility?

If Ecclesia Dei does make any change with regard to Pope Benedict's prayer about which the English bishops have got themselves so strangely excited, my money would be on a tweaking of its title. I can't help wondering if some of our Fathers in God, the more thoughtful ones, might be rather wishing that somebody or other hadn't got them all mixed up in this unnecessary little piece of Germanic nastiness ... which, on today's showing, doesn't seem to have gone down very well in Rome.

Nostra Aetate (1)

The German and English episcopates have, remarkably, decided to mount in collaboration an attack on the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews which Pope Benedict XVI composed and authorised in 2008 ... and today, December 10, I gather that some sort of document is due to be released in Rome relating to relationships between Catholics and 'Hebrews'.

Accordingly, I have decided to reprint, over three days, two of them a day, a series of six posts which I printed some little time ago. I have no idea what today's 'Statement' is likely to say; and History, I suppose, will eventually reveal what lies behind the Anglo-German episcopal initiative, whether a general detestation of Pope Benedict and his entire legacy, or something more specific. But, meanwhile, here is what I wrote about NOSTRA AETATE.

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 some of 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 ... I wonder how many of those who throw his name around as a term of abuse have as close a connection as he did to the Nazi death machine). 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.

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. A number of other Conciliar documents talk about Faith, Mercy, Grace, the Gospel, as being for all, or all nations, or whatever. Are we seriously expected to believe that, in each case, the Conciliar Fathers expected us automatically to understand the tacit qualification and gloss {"except, of course, 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 what Nostra aetate teaches about Judaism ... as he did and many others 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. For the last half-century such people have been neither asleep nor quiescent. They have not been particularly inclined to gloss over problems in Conciliar documents. But neither in Archbishop Lefebvre's They Have Uncrowned Him nor in the correspondence between Fr Aidan Nichols and an adherent of the SSPX have I found any problem being raised about the section of Nostra Aetate which relates to the Jews.


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; the severed branches would be grafted back.

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 did mean.

The teaching of S Paul is not, as the media cheerfully and repeatedly inform us, something peculiar to unreconstructed, 'extreme' Catholics. The doctrinal standard of the Church of England set by Parliamentary statute is still the Book of Common Prayer. (Although alternatives are now legally available for use, and [like the Novus Ordo in the Catholic Church] are used in the overwhelming majority of congregations, they do not enjoy the same entrenched status as the Prayer Book.) The Prince of Wales, incidentally, is Patron of a Society which campaigns for its continued use in church. And the Prayer Book, on Good Friday, asks God to "Have mercy upon all Jews ... and [to] take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, 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 ... ". I wonder why nobody bothers to make a fuss about this? Why don't Vincent Nichols and his associates demand that Parliament change this 'offensive' text? Why don't they get excited about the Byzantine texts for Good Friday? They seem, strangely, to have chip on their shoulders about either the Extraordinary Form; or Pope Benedict XVI; or both.

To be continued.