20 October 2017

Correcting the Correctio

Excellent news for you ! There is now a pro-Bergoglian counterblast to the Correctio Filialis. Go and read; go and enjoy! Spread knowledge of it! It is important that journalists and the Internet do not forget our Correctio!

Strictly entre nous ... and entirely within these four walls ... the counterblast was actually masterminded in the echoing marble halls of the Correctio Secretariate as a disinformation device to keep our Correctio Filialis in the news. On no account divulge this; it is top secret. I know I can trust you.

We had no trouble collecting signatures for the Correctio Correctionis! For some reason, fear of reprisals doesn't seem to deter people from signing a pro-Bergoglian manifesto! Among the signatories we secured is the (Jesuit) Master of Campion Hall in this University. I knew he would be up for it because he authored a pro-Bergoglian document which, festooned with the word CONFIDENTIAL, was circulating earlier this year in at least one English diocese. I got a copy which, as far as my recollection goes, had fallen off the back of a lorry.

But our biggest coup was a much more interesting signatory. Martha Heizer, leader of the Austrian branch of We Are Church. Martha belongs to a very elite group: those who have been excommunicated in and by this pontificate ... yes, even under the regime of Mercy, excommunications happen!!

Why were Martha and her husband, in 2014, excommunicated? For the canonical offence of Simulating the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The pair of them hosted priestless "celebrations of Mass" in their own home. Ergo ... is it Canon 1378? Rigid, but fair!

After receiving the sentence, Martha interestingly expressed the view that they were still members of the Church because of their Baptisms, and would remain so unless they themselves left the Church.
(1) The Good News: Martha understands and accepts the dogma of the indelible Character marked upon the soul in Baptism.
(2) The Bad News: Martha seems to think that she (and hubby) do themselves have the power to wipe the Character of Baptism off their souls by 'leaving' the Church.


Nobody has the power to extinguish the full effects of Baptism. Not the Pope; not the Canon Lawyers; not the Heizers.

Martha's mental confusions are the reason why I am now going to disappoint all you hardline bloodthirsty Traddies: I am uneasy about this use of Excommunication. I do understand the importance of marking the seriousness of offences the Heizers had committed against the Body of Christ, the Church. But ... these poor dim silly confused creatures ... would it not be more merciful to excommunicate them formally but to suspend the full effect of the sentence to the extent of allowing their canonical pastor to use his discretion ad salutem animarum?

19 October 2017

Newman and Ratzinger

A friend drew my attention the other day to a post on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, which printed an ancient piece of mine from 10 September 2009. I thought it read rather well, but then, I suppose I would, wouldn't I! Anyway, here it is again, unchanged. PLEASE remember its date!

 The other day, in Fr Ker's admirable biography of Mr Newman, I found a diverting error in the Index. Nothing less than a description of Cardinal Manning as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ah, the might-have-beens of History. Today, I would remind you of Manning's bad-tempered criticism of Newman; that with Newman, even after his reception into Full Communion, it was still the same old Anglican, Oxford, Patristic tone. We can do worse than recall this as we approach the beatification of that very great man. This may irritate some readers, but since this is my blog I will say it all the same: the whole point of Newman is that Manning was right; he never ceased to be an Anglican; that is to say, a superb exemplar of all that was best, God-given, grace-given, wholesome, and holy, in the life of the Provinces of Canterbury and York while in separation from the Voice of Peter. When he put off all that was schismatic, separatist, narrow, flawed, partial, heretical, in the ethos he imbibed from the Church of England, he was free to be more perfectly and fully Anglican than ever he had been before.

Because there is more to say about 'Anglicanism' than I said in yesterday's post. An Anglicanism which purports to be a doctrinally distinctive, even a superior, form of Christianity: yes, it is a diabolical mirage. But in the unhappy centuries of our separation from Peter, grace was not stopped up. A tone emerged; a style, a way of doing theology, of living the Christian life, which in itself is by no means unCatholic; a sober tone, a careful tone, a tone which read deeply and with understanding in the Fathers and looked to Byzantium and beyond as well as to Rome.

I know I surprised some readers and enraged others not long ago by describing Benedict XVI as the first Anglican Pope. But I believe it is wonderfully providential that it falls to this man to raise his fellow-Anglican John Henry Newman to the Altars of the Church. Have you read the Ordinary Teaching that this pope gives week by week? His sympathetic exposition of the Fathers of East, West, Syria? When you read his own theologising, can you avoid a feeling (I can't) that you are reading one of the Fathers; that you have picked up a volume of Migne ... you aren't quite sure whether it's from the PG or the PL, and you're even less certain which volume it might be, but anyway, that's the corner of Bodley that you're sitting in, and out of the window there's Newman's Church of S Mary, with his college of Oriel just beyond. And it is very easy to feel that it would be the most natural thing in the world to raise your head from your desk in the Patristics Room and see, in the chair opposite you, the diffident, erudite face of Professor Ratzinger, verifying a reference or two before hitching an ancient MA gown round his shoulders and scuttling through the traffic in the High back to his lodgings in Tom Quad.

Anglicanism as some self-important separatist codswallop that prides itself in its separation from the Successor of Peter: let's flush it away fast. But then the cry can go up: "Anglicanism is dead! Long live Anglicanism!"

18 October 2017

Newman on the Suspense of the Functions of the Magisterium

Speaking only on my own, individual, behalf, I have to say that I feel very let down by PF's apparent decision not to reply to the Correctio Filialis which I together with others sent to him at the Domus Santa Marta last August. I retain to the full my feeling of the proper respect due to the individual who currently occupies the Petrine See, but in human and affective terms, his apparent view that I and so many others are not worth bothering with introduces a sense of hurt and pain, if not alienation. I am sure that there is a providential purpose in all this, and I pray that I may be enabled ever more profoundly to embrace the humiliations permitted by the Divine Will.

The decision of PF not to fulfil the Petrine mandate to confirm (sterizein) his brethren, is a striking event not easily paralleled. And a refusal to respond to formal requests can hardly not itself constitute a formal act. So I turned, as surely we in the Ordinariate instinctively do, to our beloved Patron Blessed John Henry Newman, quo quis doctior, quis sapientior?

"... the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission  ... at one time the pope*, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils*, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ... I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years ..."

I am testing in my thoughts (doing what we colloquially call "sleeping on it" or "thinking aloud") the possibility that PF's decision to ignore the cries for help which are sent to him, whether by Eminent Fathers of the Sacred College or by nonentities like me, may be seen as formally constituting the beginning of a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in "temporary suspense"; in a vacatio which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ as formally returns from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith.

If readers want an expansion of my way of thinking, I refer them to the masterly address on Apostasy delivered last week at the Buckfast Fatima Conference by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could! Incidentally, I suspect that the Conference ... and, not least, Cardinal Burke's powerful address ... may go down in history as one of the significant moments in the recovery, the 'fight-back', of orthodoxy.

As if to confirm my thoughts, in the last few days PF is reported to have contradicted another of the Church's teachings: the teaching with regard to Capital Punishment; and to have done so not obiter or in an airliner but formally, reading a written text to one of those "Pontifical Councils" which absorb so much money and effort. This suggests to me that PF has himself consciously stopped even bothering to remain within the parameters set by the Magisterium to which he is as much under an obligation to submit as anybody else. The current careful formulation of the Church's teaching with regard to the Death Penalty, which PF said he wants changed, is precisely twenty years old. A "Magisterium" which contradicts itself every twenty years is not a Teaching Authority to which many people are likely seriously to consider themselves obliged to give assent. (I say this as a strong opponent of the use of Capital Punishment in modern states.)

I can see no present grounds plausibly to speculate that PF's divagations from orthodoxy will in future tolerate any restraints. It is as if, having discovered himself at the bottom of a hole, he has decided that the only thing to do is to keep digging with redoubled energy. Or, like the Duke of Wellington in the Fifth Act of the Battle of Waterloo, perhaps he is saying to the world "In for a penny, in for a pound"! Or does he think that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb? Will his parting gift to the Church Militant be a ringing endorsement of the homoiousios? En pote hote ouk en?

By joining with Newman in this analysis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their office. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not using it. I am certainly not suggesting (and I do not believe) that this Suspense makes any difference whatsoever to the status or powers of the current occupant of the Roman See or of other bishops. Those who argue that PF has forfeited his See, or that his Election was for any reason void or voidable, are, in my judgement, talking piffle. (Quae sit huius verbi etymologia quaero. Num verbi 'pontificalis'  depravatio est?)

I shall not consider comments which ignore the paragraph immediately above this.

Note: Newman is referring to Pope* Liberius; and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So ... not applicable to Vatican II!

17 October 2017


There can't be many institutions in the Kingdom of England which go back to 1018 ... as Buckfast Abbey does! Westminster seems like a New Boy on the Block in comparison. After the Henricean Interruption, the great monastery was rebuilt in the last century by French monks, on the same foundations and with the same River Dart running noisily but cheefully beside it.

When I turned up there for last week's Marian Conference, I had not realised that next year there are going to be massive celebrations for the Buckfast Millennium. These are to include ... Patrimony, Patrimony ... an event for the incumbents and churchwardens of Anglican parishes which belonged to Buckfast in the Middle Ages. (For my daily Mass, Dom Thomas Regan had very sensitively assigned me the twelfth century chapel of S Michael, where, I was told, the local Ordinariate group offers the Holy Sacrifice.)

When I was a tiny boy, so I recall, I was struck, visiting S Alban's Abbey, by the paintings of the Crucifixion on the West faces of the Nave pillars marking where the Altars had been for the Morning Masses. That is where the altars are for that same purpose at Buckfast. Much use of them was made last week by clergy attending the Conference.

But if, like me, you haven't been to Buckfast for some decades, what will strike you will be the incredible (research via the Search Engine and you will discover I don't often employ that hyperbole) make-over the Abbey Church has recently received. It looks ... just ... spectacular. Go and see! Find out what the Millennial Year has to offer you! Incidentally, 24-27 November this year, 2017, there is to be a big Vocations Weekend. I can think of nowhere better to go in order to listen to God, if you have any thoughts of living the Rule of S Benedict in an Abbey with a long history and which is also deeply rooted in the present because of the ministry it daily offers to the many thousands who flock there.

Dom David Charlesworth, the Lord Abbot, very kindly gave me some of his time telling me about the work of restoration. You wouldn't be disappointed if you only went there to look at the floor. The temporary floor left by the monks who did the original work has been replaced by square Purbeck limestone tiles; a stone so exquisite that it seems to generate light.

But this floor is but a taster for the Sanctuary floor. Those who have 'done' Westminster Abbey will remember the 'Cosmati' floor there and will recognise the magnificence of the floor at Buckfast. They will be further edified to be told or to read that the circular stones near the High Altar were originally given by Lord Elgin and came from the Temple of Diana of the Ephesians. What a very biblical floor! And there is purple stone from the Imperial Porphyry Quarry in Egypt. 'Nuff said!  

16 October 2017

Married Clergy

There are some signs on the Internet of the ordination of married men to the presbyterate of the Latin Church becoming a talking-point.

Just for the record: the practice of ordaining married men who had formerly ministered in Separated Western Ecclesial Bodies did not originate in the post-Conciliar period, nor was it introduced in order to favour ex-Anglicans.

It began in 1950, at the direction of Pius XII, and embraced former Lutheran pastors.


What a splendid few days we had at Buckfast sharing and learning with regard to our Lady's Fatima messages! A gifted young priest from Bishop Egan's diocese, Dr Serafino Lanzetta, crafted and held together a variety of contributions with an immensely sure touch. It was fun to make so many new friends as well as to meet again with already friends. Our dear Cardinal Burke was welcomed with evident and warm enthusiasm by the Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O'Toole, who kindly gave a morning to the Conference. Professor de Mattei ... Fr Houlden ... Fr Finigan ... Dr Thomas Crean OP ... Fr Duffield ... et ceteri ... if you didn't attend, what a scintillating gathering you missed. Don't make the same mistake in 2117!

The flower-decked feretory from which the Theotokos of Fatima presided was, I gather, constructed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate from London, whom I much enjoyed meeting. There can't be many Reverend Mothers whose academic careers began on the Playing Fields of Roedean and journeyed through Mechanical Engineering into the sunlit uplands of Marian festivities! God preserve them in their wonderful Tracchia Mariana and their devotion to the Mass of Ages! They know full well that her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Tomorrow, some words about Buckfast Abbey.

15 October 2017

Intercommunion; tedium

German (ex-)Catholics have recently held a joint communion service with Protestants. It is causing some controversy. Boring. Mega, mega, boring.

In 1913, Anglicans in the Kikuyu area of Kenya held a joint communion service with Protestants. This, of course, led to great controversy. Eventually, a couple of years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand statement which subsequently Dix wittily summarised as meaning that the event had been immensely pleasing to God but must on no account be repeated.

We of the Patrimony do get bored seeing some "Catholics" making the same mistakes that our predecessors made more than a century ago. Tedious. Why can't they think up some new mistakes of their own? Why do they have to tag tardily along behind Anglicanism? Have these daft jokers no imagination?

Why can't they have some compassion for our high boredom-threshold?


It seems a long time ago now ... but it's only a fortnight. Yet again, I was graciously invited to Copenhagen to sing Mass for the Latin Mass Group, and to meet them socially. It is a great pleasure to meet again with old friends ... and a privilege to admire their growing families! And, not least, I am moved by the friendship and hospitality of Mgr Czeslaw Koslon, Bishop of Copenhagen, who not only allows me to say my morning EF Mass in his elegant domestic Chapel, but even serves it for me! I bet not many presbyters have had their Masses served by the President of an Episcopal Conference!

This recent visit was the last occasion in which I shall stay in the Bishop's House, because the Church is relinquishing the lease and refurbishing a large ecclesiatical complex, formerly Jesuit, in the centre of the City. It will have flats for his Lordship, his Vicar General, accommodation for Franciscans ...

Ulf, who knows everything, kindly spent Saturday taking me round the Danish and Nordic Art section of the State Museum of Culture. We live in an age of highly expensive blockbuster international exhibitions, yet many of us ... I mean me ... know practically nothing about the art of other European countries in their own terms. Delving into the art of another country, one also gets sidelines on ones own. A portait might make one feel "If that were in the Wallace Collection, it might be by Boucher" or "That could be by Fuseli".

And how many people on the top of a Clapham omnibus have even heard of Thorvaldsen?

14 October 2017

Pope S Agatho the Good ... and heretical popes

S Agatho's Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. Larger, I think, than some 'Ecumenical Councils'. He was summoning it (Bede H.E. V 19) adversus eos qui ... dogmatizabant. This Synod was held against a doctrinal error that had just arisen: against those who dogmatized that there was but one Will and Working in the Lord our Saviour (i.e. Monothelites). But the Holy Father did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

Inevitably, there was an Englishman in Rome and inevitably that Englishman was S Wilfrid. This indefatigable missionary tended to find himself embroiled in rows, and his instinct on such occasions was invariably the same: go to Rome. (After all, if one got there fast enough, the Holy See only heard one side of the story!)

So S Agatho invited Wilfrid to join in his synod so as to benefit from his thinking and his erudition ... NO: not a bit of it; Wilfrid was invited to speak his Faith, in other words, to make formal confession of his orthodoxy; but not of his own merely personal Faith: that of the Province or Island from which he came. His adherence to Catholic orthodoxy was incorporated into the Acta Synodi: "Wilfrid, the God-beloved Bishop of the City of York ... was set in the seat of judgement in Synod with his 125 coepiscopi; and, in the name of (pro) the whole Northern part of Britain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles and Britons, and also the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith, et cum subscriptione sua corroboravit."

The confidence with which S Wilfrid spoke for so much of (what in Irish scholarship is now neatly called) the Atlantic Archipelago, and for the orthodoxy of thousands of Scottic monks who had never met him and, had they done so, might have had strong things to say about his Paschal Mathematics, may well take our breath away. But I want to point out what this Synod was for.

A heresy had arisen, and a previous pope (Honorius I) half a century before had actually promoted the error. Heresy is a very grave matter; but a Pope is there to condemn it. Just think of what a massive ecclesial disorder is involved if the pope himself actually favours the heresy and uses his office to spread it. 

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

That is why, on this blog, he is known as S Agatho the Good.

The next pope, S Leo II, confirmed the Conciliar condemnations.

When will there be a Pope Agatho II? Domine, exaudi et miserere!

13 October 2017

Psalm 18 (RSV19) and the Miracle of the Sun.

A great day, the centenary of the Miracle of the Sun, when the Sun was seen to dance down upon the Earth. I wish to share a few thoughts about the Typology of this event, with its deeply scriptural and traditional roots.

Our starting point should be Psalm 18, and the rich use which Holy Tradition has made of this psalm. 

In the Pius XII Psalter which was masterminded by Cardinal Augustin Bea (bad ... bad), we read (verse 5) "He has made a tabernacle for the sun". An accurate translation, it may be, of the Hebrew. But this is not what we find in both the ancient Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated to LXX): the two versions by which Christians of both East and West have always worshipped. Here is a literal rendering of what these versions give us:
5.In the sun he has placed his tabernacle: and he himself like a bridegroom going forth from his chamber has rejoiced (LXX: will rejoice) like a giant to run his course.
6. From highest (LXX: furthest) heaven {is} his going forth: and his meeting is even unto its highest (LXX: furthest); neither is there one who might hide himself from his heat.

Our Catholic and Orthodox forebears took the Sun to be our Lady (S Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634: "For in thee, O Virgin, as in a most pure and sparkling Heaven, God has placed his tabernacle"). They understood the bridegroom to be Christ. The bridal-chamber is the womb of the Blessed Virgin. In that Womb he united Godhead with manhood as bridegroom is united to bride, so that he is a giant with two Natures in one Person. His going forth is his eternal generation, as the Divine and Only-begotten Son, from the Father. His meeting is the Son's equality with the Father.
Let's consider the Advent Office Hymn Conditor alme siderum. We will take the clever and accurate translation of stanza 3 by the Anglican John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale which appears as Number 1 in the English Hymnal:
Thou cam'st, the bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

And a hymn by the great S Ambrose himself, Veni Redemptor gentium
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.

The Liturgy of the hours unfortunately misses out ('ad brevitatem') the next stanza, also based on our psalm, which Neale (English Hymnal 14) renders
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
His course he runs to death and hell,
Returning on God's throne to dwell.

The Pre-Conciliar Breviary and the English Hymnal do not provide another ancient hymn, Fit porta Christi pervia, which the Liturgy of the Hours dug up and ordered to be said at Morning Prayer on January 1. Here is a literal version of the second stanza; it shows its indebtedness to Psalm 18:
The Son of the highest Father has gone forth from the palace of the Virgin, bridegroom, Redeemer, Creator, the Giant of his Church.

 I'm sure you've noticed the relevance of all this to the importance of celebrating Mass versus Orientem, towards the Lord who comes to us at the dawning of the day, walking to meet us from the womb of his Mother, the Woman clothed with Sun, the Tabernacle of Divinity.

But today, we think of the Sun as the great cosmic Ikon of the Mother of God, which spectacularly confirmed the authenticity of the Fatima Message; confirmed it for 1917 and for every successive year.

12 October 2017

Dom Gregory Dix, the Diocletian Persecution and Gilbert and Sullivan

Dom Gregory Dix supplies a vivid and jolly account of episcopal inadequacy during the Diocletian Persecution.

"[I]t cannot be said that the episcopate as a whole had come well out of the universal crisis of the Diocletian persecution. 

Few bishops when it broke out were men of much distinction. Eusebius, who as a bishop and a contemporary has some claim to be heard, says frankly that they were on the whole a poor lot, and ascribes the persecution largely to divine anger at their conduct. He is rather given to pious thoughts of this kind, which have not quite the value of historical judgments. But the precise and definite evidence of episcopal failure everywhere at this time can hardly be discounted ... The better bishops, of course, proved faithful and were martyred. But a shockingly large number at the first question turned traditor - i.e., handed over the Scriptures and sacred vessels to the authorities for destruction, the formal act required of them, which Church and State agreed to consider as constituting apostasy. Others denied that they had them in their keeping, but gave the names of the lectors who had them. Others again salved their consciences by handing over other books instead ...

"When the African Council of Cirta met in 305, after the persecution had spent its first violence in these parts, it revealed a pitiful state of affairs. All the bishops present but two seem to have been traditores in some sense. The president himself was compromised, and agreed to suspend all enquiries to avoid unpleasantness. Nor were the only faults those of lack of courage. More than one of these men was afterwards found guilty of direct theft; others of simony and adultery, and of peculating Church funds. One bishop, who admitted to two murders, retained his seat in this assembly by a timely display of diabolically bad temper.

"We may hope that this sort of thing was exceptional, but the evidence is not reassuring. We hear, e.g., of bishops in Palestine who after the persecution, "because they had not rightly shepherded the rational flock of Christ, were by divine justice turned into camel-drivers, an animal of a natural perversity to which they were suited". It is a fact that though there were a score of sees in Palestine, no bishop was martyred there in ten years of persecution ... "

[Isn't there some old ditty about Making the Punishment Fit The Crime?]

11 October 2017


The First Vatican Council defined the dogma that ex cathedra  pronouncements of the Roman Pontiff were infallible ex sese et non ex consensu Ecclesiae; and that they were irreformabiles.

This welcome and necessary clarification of the standing of the highest class of papal statement left the field wide open to the implication that papal pronouncements which are not ex cathedra might require the consensus Ecclesiae before being fully recognised as the unalterable Teaching of the Church of all the Ages. And that such lesser papal statements might be reformabiles.

This, after all, is only common sense. Even if it might be difficult for the most hardline of the hyperultraueberpapalists, with their unCatholic belief that Pope Francis is ipsissima vox Spiritus Sancti, to grasp it.

The differing interpretations of various bishops and Episcopal Conferences make clear that Amoris laetitia, at least in the interpretation put upon it by the Bergoglianists, does not have the consensus Ecclesiae.

And the suggestions of Cardinals Mueller and Parolin, that dialogue should open between the two 'sides' into which Pope Francis has so lamentably divided our Holy Mother the Church, surely open up the possibility that Amoris laetitia may be clarified and freed of its ambiguities ... in other words, treated as reformabilis.

A minute but interesting piece of pedantry: are footnotes an integral part of a Magisterial text? Surely not. Surely, therefore, difficult footnotes could be either expunged or redrafted; new, clarifying, footnotes could be added.

Call me flabby if you like, but I do think that the current regime should be given ways of saving face. However, an essential part of such a dialogue would have to be the publication of the Comments sent to the HF after the CDF had studied the draft of the Apostolic Exhortation.

10 October 2017

Blessed John Henry's gifts to the English (and Welsh!) Church

A splendid weekend with the Oratory in formation at Cardiff ... with the opportunity on Monday to say Mass in an Oratorian chapel on 'the Cardinal's' Feast Day. It can't be coincidence that two of the vibrant areas of new life and of the re-establishment of Holy Tradition within the English Church, the mighty Family of S Philip and the much humbler and newer Ordinariate, should both be within the powerful intercession of this great Englishman and teacher of the Faith. Very truly a Man for Our Time.

There are quite a lot of reasons for enjoying a visit to the Catholic chaplaincy at Cardiff University, but the best one has to be the warmness of the hospitality and the kindnesses of Fr Sebastian, Fr Alexander, and Brother Ambrose; and of the nuns. Then there is the Gastronomic Dimension: I was invited by my friend Dr David Woolf, Senior Fellow, to the Pelican Club Dinner on Saturday night. The Brethren had somehow caught a pig, so we ate it. Such crisp ...

Nearby, a fellow guest was Fr Ignatius, Provost of Birmingham, a friend who was a friend when I needed friends. Also among the guests (Oratorians are very practical ecumenists) Canon Brendan Clover, Provost of the Society of our Lady and S Nicolas of Lancing. It was good to hear how things are in that very dear Collegiate Church, 'Woodard's Folly', which pierces the clouds above the South Downs. I gather I survive in the College's Oral Tradition as having said Mass in Latin every morning. I wish it were true!

Sunday lunch afforded the prospect of delicious pork ... and the company of the undergraduates of the Hall which the Oratory runs, gowned and seated at a formal meal. I spoke for a minute or two after lunch; they actually listened to the sad old gent who had popped up in their midst! And, later, that rich and beautiful Oratorian speciality, Solemn (old rite) Vespers; followed by Choral Mass: fine music (Mass for Four Voices by Tallis; In salutari tuo by Heinrich Isaac). And Praise to the Holiest to finish the day, and to initiate the following day with its Newman celebrations in union with the Cardiff Ordinariate Group.

Sadly, I had to leave after breakfast on Monday, but, happily, the Oratorian hens had laid very generously, so there was an egg to go with ... what was it  ... ah, yes: the bacon!

Why doesn't everyone go to Cardiff University?

9 October 2017

Newman's Conversion ... a different angle!

The poor, pompous egotist Mark Pattison, writing long after he had lost his own faith, gives this account of October 1845:
"On the 9th of October 1845 it was known that Newman had resigned his fellowship. On 10th October, Church showed me a note from Newman to him, announcing his coming reconciliation to the Catholic Church by Father Dominic [which had of course by that day already occurred]. It is impossible to describe the enormous effect produced in the academical and clerical world, I may say throughout England, by one man's changing his religion. But it was not consternation; it was a lull - a sense that the past agitation of twelve years was extinguished by this simple act; and perhaps a lull of expectation to see how many he would draw with him. Instead of a ferocious howl, Newman's proceeding was received in respectful silence, no one blaming. But as there must always be an advocatus diaboli, this part was sustained by the Vicar of St Thomas (!) [Pattison's own parenthetic exclamation mark] who went about inveighing against Newman's honesty in putting out the theory contained in his last sermon; 'He didn't believe it when he wrote it'".

It is not clear to me what, exactly, in Newman's Parting of Friends sermon, my Anglican predecessor Thomas Chamberlain might have deemed to be so dishonest.

There is an interesting episode in the life of George Bampfield, a Master at Lancing College (largely autobiographical though written in the third person): "He could no longer stay at Lancing, and went, as a last resource, to S Thomas', Oxford, then under Mr Chamberlain, the editor of the Church Times. One day his vicar came into his room, and noticing among his books a Totum [the entire Breviary in one volume instead of four] which belonged to one of Mr Bampfield's brothers, and which he himself had hardly opened, said: 'There is no use talking to you; you are gone'. The vicar was a true prophet; for after three Sundays Mr Bampfield left Oxford and determined to be reconciled to the Church of the Saints". He went to Brompton, where (13 August 1855) Fr Faber received him into Full Communion, more or less on the doorstep.

Perhaps the reason Bampfield went to Chamberlain was his perception of S Thomas's as by far the most 'advanced' church in England; Eucharistic Vestments in some shape or form* may have been in use since the early 1840s, and incense was established by the mid-1850s. In other words, Bampfield or his advisers felt that if S Thomas's, with all its Romish extremism, could not retain him in the Church of England, no parish church could. Possibly the meaning of Pattison's exclamation mark is: "And that from a dishonest extremist like Chamberlain of all people!!"


*Initially, it seems, more than one Oxford red silk MA hood sewn together (by Chamberlain's cousin the religious foundress Marion Hughes) so as to make a 'chasuble' not too alarmingly different from the MA hood to which conservative worshippers were accustomed. At Pentecost 1854 a proper purpose-made chasuble (Roman shape) was taken into use.

8 October 2017

Holy Father?

I have occasionally been criticised for the lack of respect with which I sometimes refer to the current occupant of the Roman See. I don't think that is really quite just. It is infelicitous constantly to refer to someone in the same way. The graces of literary convention demand Variety. But I have decided to avoid controversy by following the usage of people who resort to "PF" or "the HF". I do so regretfully. You see, surely those initials could have multiple and disrespectful references, for which I would not wish to be held responsible. "Poor Fellow". Or "the Horrible Fantasy". You name it. I mean, readers might like to take time off from finishing the Times Crossword and devise some referenda for those initials.

Be fair to me. I have habitually refered to the Sovereign Pontiff as anything between "Bergoglio" and, er, "the Sovereign Pontiff". My own preferences would be for those elegant first millennium terms domnus apostolicus and Vicarius Petri, but some newer readers might be mystified.

It can be amusing to use honorifics which are perversely and delightfully apposite. For example, if it were ever to occur (please God, make this happen!) that we had a Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster of profoundly diminutive proportions, how satisfying it would be always to refer to him as "His Eminence"!

By the way: in yesteryear, the Church was commonly referred to as "Our Holy Mother the Church". The University of Oxford still does that when conferring Masters' Degrees, but otherwise not many people seem to do so nowadays. I don't thnk I've ever yet been criticised for failure consistently to do this.

S Irenaeus, explain to us: Instaurare omnia in Christo ... how's it done?

The disorders of this pontificate undoubtedly call for a remedy. But how to go about it?

It would best be done by our Holy Father himself, before his pontificate ends. A Hermeneuticon ad Exhortationem Amoris laetitia plenius interpretandam, giving that document an unambiguously orthodox interpretation, and issued motu proprio, would be one way of doing it ... the cleanest, simplest, and most Frank way.

Otherwise, how could it be done by the later pontiff to whom this disagreeable duty will fall? Here is my suggestion.

Involve the world-wide episcopate; because, cum et sub Petro, they are (as Leo XIII put it) Judges of the Faith. Their formal judgements (not their 'talking-shop ideas) should be sought by means of some formal and specific questions.

However, here there is a procedural problem. The recent Synods have probably given the impression to some of the sillier and doctrinally weaker bishops that, when their views are sought, they are each being invited to say what they think is most helpful to the Church, or what is God's will for the Church of our own day. That mistake will need to be firmly corrected. We must get back to the first millennium assumption that each bishop speaks, not his own views or clever ideas, his "blue-sky thinking" as people sometimes call it, but what he has received from his predecessors in his see. You know what I mean ... you've all read your S Irenaeus ... parelabon kai paredoka, as S Paul would say.

So their Lordships should be required to provide documentary evidence of what their (say)  ten immediate predecessors had taught about the matters in hand.

The then pope - Agatho II, perhaps, might be his name - would embody this (synchronic and diachronic) teaching of the world-wide episcopate in a major dogmatic statement, preferably with each section lucidly summarised by a Si quis dixerit/negaverit  .... anathema sit formula.

It would constitute a formal Magisterial statement of what is already the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium.

7 October 2017

Our Lady of Victories

What a telling title: our Lady of Victories. So very Western Catholic; so Counter-Reformation ; so baroque; so redolent of the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the 1920s and 1930s. When I was an undergraduate, the Church of S Paul up Walton Street was still a church and had a splendiferous statue of our Lady of Victories. You couldn't possibly imagine, could you, Byzantine Christians giving the Theotokos a title like that ...

Well, of course, they did. One of those Greeks did write a hymn to Mary as the hypermachos strategos with an aprosmakheton kratos (the Protecting General with an irresistible power). If the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, you would probably find in it a paraphrase of the Hymnos Akathistos beginning: Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the Robe of Mary, going on before.

East and West may wear different clothes, but their realities are often so uncannily similar. Because, of course, the title our Lady of Victories, just like the Akathist hymn, does have its military associations. That great Pontiff, S Pius V, established the Feast of our Lady of Victories to celebrate the triumph of Christian arms at the battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, a victory won by the countless rosaries which clanked through the hands of the Rosary Confraternities of Western Europe. They begged God for the safety of Christendom against the invading Turk. Gregory XIII pusillanimously renamed the feast as 'of the Rosary', and popped it onto the first Sunday of October (a mere stone's throw from the Feast of the Protecting Robe of the Mother of God in some Byzantine calendars) where it stayed until the reforms of S Pius X.

But no homilist could be forbidden to preach tomorrow on our Lady of Victories, could he?

After all, her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

6 October 2017

Walsingham, and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

Priests and deacons ... possibly also Seminarians ... I'm pretty sure ... are entitled to be members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a truly splendid organisation.

Readers who are Catholic clergy formerly in the Church of England will remember the dear old SSC ... Societas Sanctae Crucis ... which we all used to belong to. By the time the C of E fizzled out of meaningful existence a decade or so ago, the SSC had become in some places a rather tired old thing; a few elderly clerics meeting together to complain ...

... and the CCC is what the SSC was in its earlier and truer and vibrant days. There is a real desire to serve the priestly (or diaconal) spirituality of members; good lectures and papers; retreats, pilgrimages. Members are of all ages, with the younger and more orthodox strongly represented.

And, of course, it encompasses the various splendid constituencies of the English Catholic clergy. Cradle Catholic; secular and religious; Ordinariate former Anglican; "Diocesan" former Anglican; the various nationalities. I can only say how much I have gained from my own membership.

The English Confraternity is due to have its Autumn Colloquium at Walsingham, Wednesday-Thursday 15-16 November, with stellar lecturers including Fr John Saward; the Bishop of Paisley, and the Mgr Armitage the Administrator. All three forms of the Roman Rite catered for.

I don't know why anyone should take seriously anything I recommend, but I do recommend at least checking out on the website both Membership, and the Colloquium. Dare I say it, these strange days in the life of the Latin Church make it all the more appropriate that we should meet together to chew the, er, cud.

I'd be very surprised if you came to regret it.

Please give it a thought.

5 October 2017

A great English Bishop

Mass this morning of S Thomas de Cantelupe, Bishop of Hereford, a Buckinghamshire man who became Chancellor of this University. His sanctity manifested itself in a rigorously ascetic lifestyle combined with enormous generosity towards the poor and a pastoral regimen which was so demanding as to destroy his health. He had a soundly antagonistic attitude towards the great both in Church and State, so much so that he was excommunicated by Archbishop Pecham and died in Italy while awaiting papal judgement upon his appeal. His skull, I believe, is preserved at Downside.

In the Counter-Reformation period, so one gets the impression, a lot of those canonised were the founders of religious orders sponsored for official sanctity by their orders. But in the Middle Ages, there is a consistent theme of the canonisation of bishops who stood up to the mighty, were benefactors of the poor, and whose cult, after their deaths, sprang up spontaneously in their Cathedral Churches. Such a one was S Thomas de Cantelupe. However, he was not formally canonised until 1320. One suspects that a collateral descendent, a young curial offical called John de Grandisson, may have had a hand in this through his influence with the great Avignon pope John XXII. In his bull of canonisation the pope carefully related, surely with one eye on that embarrassing excommunication, that Cantelupe had received the full last rites of the Church before his death.

Young Grandisson later became Bishop of Exeter, and a very fine one too. Like his great-great uncle, he had no truck with Archbishops of Canterbury. When the primate approached Exeter on Metropolitical Visitation, Grandisson repelled him with military force.

S Thomas de Cantelupe was regarded, with Becket, as one of the two great and saintly Thomases of the Middle Ages and is sometimes pared with him iconographically.

4 October 2017


Signatories to the Correctio Filialis stand currently at 217. I mention this because I know that many priests were apprehensive about joining what journalists might deem a Small Number. There is a natural sense that, the more who sign, the less easy it will be for anybody to embark upon a strategy of bullying. So if your own benchmark was "Above 200 might make it safe", that is where we are. But ... no hassle ... I'm not trying to chivvy anybody ... I know that we are all in different situations. And I know you will support us in your Masses and prayers. Those dear reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood who have written to me ... thank you. I have been deeply moved.

There are more male than female signatories. I shall probably get into trouble for saying this, but I sometimes feel that women (unlike men!) underestimate their own importance and the value of their opinions. The drafters of the Correctio view things quite differently! I would very much like to see zillions of academic female signatures!! Make the Correctio a Women's Movement!!!

Tucho has said it already

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

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

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

Did even Pope Honorius I dare to attempt that?

By the way ...

... Dr Geoffrey Kirk, who, in his pre-Ordinariate days, was Vicar of Lewisham, writes a superb and witty blog which may not be as well known among Traditionalist Catholics as it deserves to be.  He does a very good line in revealing, via leaked letters from Mr Undersecretary Screwtape, how this pontificate is being plotted and choreographed in the Pandaemonium Club. It is must-be reading. GKIRKUK.

Readers who do not know who Screwtape is should get equipped with the writings of Professor C S Lewis, one of the Anglican greats whom we, at the behest of our dear Pope Ratzinger, brought with us in our luggage as we entered into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. Another of Oxford's gifts to the Catholic Church!

3 October 2017

Mueller rules ... OK ...

Pope Francis, it becomes daily more clear, missed a trick when he released Gerhard Cardinal Mueller from his CDF desk and bestowed him upon a waiting world.

There's nothing like freedom; and Mueller is very much in his prime. I hope all readers will consider carefully the following pasage in a recent address he gave in Mannheim.

"In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact Council text ready when words like 'faith' or 'mercy' are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn't exist in Latin America. They are more intuitive there ... They look at a text without considering it as part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned, clear theological preparation must take place."

I think it is the most incisive and well-directed criticism I have so far heard of the current regime, of Pope Bergoglio, of Tucho and his other cronies, and of Amoris laetitiae. Cardinal Burke and his 'Dubia' colleagues didn't come within a mile of this for sheer clinical skill in inserting the stiletto neatly between the fifth and the sixth vertebrae.

So-called 'traddies' who unloaded unjustified abuse on his Eminence when Papa Ratzinger appointed him to the CDF should get munching their humble and contrite pie right now.

2 October 2017

Realised Eschatology

Today, a Greater Double, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, the antiphon for the Benedictus in both the Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours draws on Hebrews 1:14 to describe the Angels as leitourgika Spirits sent for diakonia. Is this why there is an iconographical convention of showing angels wearing dalmatics? Has anybody ever thought of using this to defend the (corrupt?) medieval practice whereby Byzantine Bishops wear not chasubles but dalmatics by saying that a Bishop is the Angel (see Rev 2:1 etc. and cf apostellomena of Heb1:14) of his Church?

[By the way, I have an ikon of the 1920s Bishop of Aegina, S Nektarios, wearing a chasuble; Although I know that Byzantine bishops do sometimes celebrate in a phelonion (and omophorion), I rather suspect this may be a delightful example of the conservatism of Byzantine iconography. He is also wearing a black hat; I assume it is his monastic hat.]

Incidentally, in this antiphon both the Breviary and LH change a very clear future (tous mellontas cleronomein which becomes capient haereditatem in both Vulgates) to a present capiunt: 'those who are already inheriting salvation'. Was there a nest of prescient adherents of C H ('Realised Eschatology') Dodd among the sixteenth century liturgists who put this office together?

1 October 2017

Sundays after Trinity

In a decree (1759), Clement XIII ordered the Trinity Preface to used on Green Sundays. This supports a strong case for the naming of these Sundays per annum in the old English (and North European) way as Sundays after Trinity.

I draw attention to several points.

The modern emphasis on Sunday as a weekly minipascha is true but too narrow. As Clement XIII's document points out, Sunday is also the day of the Creation of Light; indeed, of the beginning of Creation. And also of the Resurrection; and also of the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit. And thus of the Holy Trinity.

The same Magisterial document refers to the traditional use on these Sundays of the Quicunque vult. I believe, and have written before on this blog, that the disuse of this Canticle (since the corruption of the Roman Rite really got under way under Pius XII) is one reason why even some clergy don't really seem to have any sense of the Trinity, as defined by Mother Church, any longer - they are, it sometimes appears, modalists. The fact that when the clergy of the English Ordinariate were being 'formed', a lecturer assured us that the QV was "heretical" is a disgrace which still stimulates my indignation. 

It also reminds us of the antiphon which usually came towards the end of Sunday Mattins: "Two Seraphim cried one to the other *Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Hosts, *All the earth is full of his glory. V Three there are who bear witness in heaven, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit: And these three are one. Holy ... Glory be ... All ...". This lovely text, of course, draws upon the verse in the Vulgate and the Authorised Version (Patrimony Patrimony) in I John; commonly omitted in modern Bibles including the Neovulgate because of its extremely weak attestation in Greek mss..

We need to become very much more robust in embracing the Scriptures as the Church has handed them down to us rather than making an idol of the methodology (with its underlying conceptual assumptions) of Westcott and Hort. (Even in WH terms, I think one could make a case for this verse having been omitted so widely because of parablepsis due to homoeoteleuton.)

We need a reacceptance of a more holistic sense of Tradition ... and a recommitment to the noble crusade of rolling back the 'Enlightenment'.

And finally: Clement XIII, in the actual words of the Decree itself, refers to the use of the Trinity preface on Green Sundays and says "inde a [not 'in'] vetustissimis temporibus in usu fuisse dignoscitur". 

In other words, the Holy Father does not say: I've had a perfectly spiffing idea; let's do so-and-so. He bases what he decrees on Ancient Tradition and Precedent. That is very significant. It is the immemorial Roman instinct for preservation and continuity. We need more of it. Especially in Rome. Not least in the Casa Santa Marta. I wonder if the Quicumque vult has ever been chanted in the chapel there.