25 February 2018

Shared Sacramental Communion with the Byzantine Churches

I REPRINT A PIECE FROM 15 OCTOBER 2015, in view of its relevance to the questions of the relationship, at the deepest theological levels, between the Catholic Church and the Particular 'Orthodox' (or 'Separated Byzantine') Churches.

FIRST ... the GREEK CHURCHES:
 Parts of an article in the December 1959 number of the old Anglo-Papalist journal Reunion:
" ... the conclusions of a Greek book of 697 pages entitled Relations between Catholics and Orthodox by a Greek Catholic priest P. Grigoriou, editor of the Athenian weekly Katholiki. The author takes us back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

"Archbishop Anthony C. Vuccino, A.A., former Latin Bishop of Corfu, reviewed this book in La Croix. Its pages show the good relations existing in those centuries, under the Venetian and Turkish rulers, between Catholics and Orthodox in the Near and Middle East, and particularly in Greece. With the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the permissuion of their own hierarchies, Catholic missionaries preached and administered frequently in Orthodox Churches. The Archbishop draws attention to such incidents as the authorisation by the Patriarch Neophyte (1611) of the absolution of his faithful by Jesuits or Capuchins and that Orthodox deacons assisted at Mass sung by P. Goar, O.P., and received communion from him. Often the Latin bishop and his clergy preached or said Mass in the Orthodox churches of Chios.

" These events are established by contemporary documents culled by the author from all the islands and mainland. Missions were preached to mixed comgregations; there were 'mixed churches' serving both rites with Latin and Oriental altars ...

"P. Grigoriou further narrates that as the procession of Corpus Christi passed by, one Orthodox bishop would offer incense from the window of his house; in Zante the platform bearing the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday was carried by a Latin and an Orthodox bishop ... in the seventeenth century, schools were built by local Orthodox congregations where Latin priests could teach the children of the Orthodox.

"Concelebrations are also reported by the author. In 1653 Joannice, the Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to his Metropolitans of Trebizond and New Caesarea, authorising Fr Robert, O.C., to offer Mass in their churches. Whenever Orthodox priests concelebrated with Latin clergy, the former made the Memento of the Pope. Again, concelebration by the Orthodox Archpriest and Latin priests at the same altar in the Catholic Cathedral occurred in Corfu on the 19th January, the patronal feast of St Spyridion. ... Fr Gill, S.J., comments on this indiscriminate intermingling: 'The story is almost monotonous because it was the same everywehere; nevertheless, it is astonishing'. This intercommunion was practised on a large scale, even to the inclusion of the reception of Sacred Orders.
 
"We might ask why this cooperation ended. Assuredly, P.Grigoriou tells us that Pius IX made efforts to re-establish these contacts  ... Archbishop Vuccino affirms: 'The centre of Catholicism exercised general tolerance in regard to such practices, doubtless with the aim of making up for the deficiencies of the Orthodox clergy, and of creating a more brotherly atmosphere among Christians who breathed the same air and who were already united by so much.'"

Sometimes, some 'Traditionalists' speak as if all 'Ecumenism' is an aberration to be blamed on Vatican II and roundly condemned. I think is is right to keep reminding ourselves that the sort of approach embodied in the Church's current legislation is broadly in line with immemorial praxis in the Catholic Church.  

THE FOLLOWING SECTION relates to the Russian Church: Readers of this blog will not need to be reminded of the toleration accorded by S Pius X with his own hand to the request of Metropolitan Andrew Szeptycki that "he be granted a faculty, communicable also to confessors, for dispensing the secular faithful from the law by which communicatio in sacris with Orthodox is prohibited, as often as they shall judge it in conscience to be opportune" (Rome, 17:2:1908).

It is also well to remember the neat point made by Benedict XIV, that all sacramental communicatio cannot be totally excluded on principle because every 'mixed marriage' is a Sacrament of which one Catholic and one non-Catholic are the ministers.

Reunion offers these references: Catholic Herald, 13 February 1959; Unitas, Summer 1959; Eastern Churches Quarterly, Winter 1958-59; Irenikon, XXXII, 3, 1959.
 

S Gregory Palamas

A kind friend has sent me a copy of the weekly newsletter of an American Melkite parish which observes the Gregorian Calendar and, today, the Second Sunday in Lent, is commemorating both S Gregory Palamas and the Holy Relics.

I regard S Gregory as one of the Church's greatest Doctors of Theosis, the vocation of every Christian to live out his share by adoptive filiation in the Divinity of the God-Man Himself. He was also one of the most forthright preachers I know of the Doctrine that the Most Holy Mother of God is the Mediatrix of all Graces. How can she not be?

He was not in canonical communion with the See of Rome!

His Commemoration was put onto this Sunday by a Patriarch of Constantinople a few years after his death and canonisation. Neither that Patriarch, nor the Synod which had canonised S Gregory, was canonically in communion with the See of Rome.

The lawful line of the Patriarchs of Antioch, successors of S Peter and of S Ignatius, happily came back into full communion with the other Petrine See in the 1700s; it is a jolly coincidence that, only a few days ago, we celebrated the old Roman festival of the Pontifical Chair of S Peter at Antioch. But, in the years that followed, S Gregory was an embarrassment. Latin theologians often deemed it their duty to call him a heretic. So, in the 1800s, Patriarch Maximos Mazloum, a great pontiff who had secured  from the Ottomans legal recognition of his Melkite people, placed the Commemoration of the Relics on this Sunday, displacing the remembrance of S Gregory Palamas.

I find it a matter of great joy that the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch (etc.) now keeps both of these observances. Thus the commemoration of S Gregory has re-acquired full Petrine authority. Envious Latins may also observe that Byzantine liturgical instincts do not share the superstition that gripped the Vatican's monomaniac 'liturgical reformers' of the 1960s, the idea that any day may have only one strong liturgical theme.

Some silly games are currently being played by PF and others with increasingly liberal strands of Lutheranism. In reaction, some traditionalists have, perhaps naturally, taken refuge in rigorist attitudes towards shared Sacramental Communion with any Christians not in full and canonical communion with the See of Rome. But these attitudes cannot, without considerable violence to history, be made to apply to Sister Churches (that is to say, dioceses) with valid ministries and Sacraments, which are true (though wounded) Particular Churches. This fact, consistently asserted in the Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI (Communionis notio, Dominus Iesus), simply reflects what had been the realities of ecclesial life under the Magisterium of successive Roman Pontiffs throughout the previous five centuries, down to and including Blessed Pius IX and S Pius X.

I shall return to this later today.

24 February 2018

Pontifical logic

"By their fruits you shall know them".

A difficult 'principle' to operate in practice. Or is it?


It is well known that Blessed Paul VI discerned the smoke of Satan in the post-Conciliar Church. Does this give us carte blanche to condemn the Council?

The Bergoglian Church is riven with strife and hate-filled enmity; depending on your viewpoint, there are evil women and men obstructing the Spirit-filled initiatives of the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of S Peter; or alternatively, the corruptions of the World, the Flesh, and of Satan have infiltrated and perverted the very highest level of the Church Militant.

By their fruits ...

Whichever of those two options fits your personal view, a sombre jugement would seem to hang over this pontificate.

Perhaps this dominical maxim should not be brought into the arena of 'Church Politics' ... by  either side.

23 February 2018

Can Black really be white?

Are you up to date on Bulverism ... google it if you don't know about it. I suppose we could coin a cognate verb and say that PF was Bulverising when he waxed eloquent last year on the deep and dark psychological maladies of all those ghastly young people who have Incorrect and Unbergoglian Tastes in liturgical matters.

It seems to me a term with possibilities. One could say "Don't you Bulverise me, you ..." in a very hostile tone of voice.

A thing I do not quite understand is PF's purpose in quoting before Christmas from the Commonitorium of S Vincent of Lerins.

The passage he alluded to also includes, though PF did not quote it, the phrase eodem sensu eademque sententia. Derived by S Vincent of Lerins from the text of S Paul, it was used by B Pius IX, incorporated in the decree on the papal ministry at Vatican I, and contained in the anti-modernist oath. Very significantly, it was used by S John XXIII in the programmatic speech he gave at the start of the Council ... What the Council taught, so he laid down, was to be in the same sense, the same meaning, as the teaching of the preceding Magisterium. S John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor made clear that it applied to questions of morality as much as to those of dogma. Benedict XVI used this same sanctified phrase in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia about the Hermeneutic of Continuity. I have recently repeated a series of mine on this phrase which you could find via the search engine on this blog.

Eodem sensu eademque sententia: because the teaching of the Church cannot and does not change.

If this phrase means anything at all, it must mean that the teaching of Familiaris consortio (1981; paragraph 84) and of Caritatis sacramentum (2007; paragraph 29), that divorced people who, having gone through a civil form of marriage, are in an unrepented sexual relationship with a new "spouse", should not approach the Sacraments, cannot already ... in less than a decade! ... have metamorphosed or "developed" into its exact and polar opposite.

Even Jesuits, even the Austrian aristocracy, whether or not adorned with umlauts, cannot really expect to get away with black being white, with non-X and X being identical. Come off it, chaps ... Magnum Principium stat non contradicendi!

22 February 2018

Anti-Jesuit jokes

Unaccountably, jokes which are less than friendly towards the Society of Jesus seem currently to be in vogue. Back in the 1840s, we were widely and popularly regarded as Jesuits in disguise. So naturally, I've been wondering what more recent contributions to this genre our Anglican Patrimony can offer for the common good of all Catholics.

The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall recorded this anecdote about Dom Gregory Dix. I gave it a run once before, in 2014, and I retain the original thread for your yet greater enjoyment.

Dix was invited, by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons, to lecture his clergy on Spirituality. In the ensuing discussion he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality. Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was most unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

There was a great burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, "Father, that was a very Benedictine sentiment".

The Eminent chairman leaned across and whispered to Dom Gregory, "That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus".


21 February 2018

Sedevacantism

Readers will be aware that I do not enable any comments which even delicately hint at anything even remotely like Sedevacantism. Even if a Bishop of Rome were personally a heretic, even if, like Pope Honorius I, he actually promoted and propagated heresy, he would still be pope. I have no doubt whatsoever about this. And it is the duty of every Catholic to be in Full Communion with him. Sedevacantism is illogical and unhistorical rubbish.

But I must admit that I have no worked-out solution to the following very hypothetical hypothesis.

Suppose a pope were, additionally, to require of every Catholic explicit assent ex animo to heresy as a necessary condition for Communion with himself, what would be the situation?

I think this is humanly impossible in the current pontificate, because PF likes to operate by creating a mess and being imprecise and trusting to Time being more powerful than Space. It is inconceivable that he would waste the energy which would be needed to be precise enough to specify a heresy in a way that would be juridically watertight. Moreover, he would run the risk of putting himself in danger, and I think he is far too fly an individual to do that. Genuinely, I am asking about something genuinely hypothetical.

I'm not terribly keen on receiving lots of ranting comments, either one way or the other. But I would value sober and sensible materials for a solution to this problem. Especially, historical analogues. Unless you feel that this scenario, like an erroneous ex cathedra definition, is something the Holy Spirit can be relied on simply to prevent.

Does S Athanasius ...

And, yes, poor Dr Doellinger is a terrible warning to us all about the dangers inherent in getting answers to this sort of question wrong ...

20 February 2018

Aidan Nichols, Amoris laetitia, and Tucho

In his 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?

Fr Aidan Nichols and the people "who ought to know better" UPDATED

Since, mysteriously, the full text of Fr Aidan Nichols' lecture will not be made available, we must make the most of the passages which the Catholic Herald published. [UPDATE: See my post of earlier today.]

By the way: that lecture is highly important, and not only because of Dr Nichols' considerable theological prestige. It addressed the points that some of us did our best to articulate in our Correctio. I do beg you to read and reread it, and to pass its teaching on to as many people as you can. [UPDATE: As the bergoglian pressure-machine cranks up into top gear, pressing for a final Result, interventions such as Fr Aidan's ought to be as widely known as possible.]

Today, I give you Fr Aidan's words on whether popes can teach error.

"It is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly ... this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better." [UPDATE: I wonder if poor Cupich is aware of this.]

"Doctrinal howlers". Gerhard Cardinal Mueller reminded us ... aptly ... of the abrupt observation of S Robert Bellarmine to the pope of his own day: "Holy Father, you know nothing about that."

Fr Aidan Nichols, and the Amoris laetitia Crisis UPDATED

A correspondent asks me why Fr Aidan Nichols doesn't speak up about Amoris laetitia. He did so. I republish below an updated piece I wrote about the lecture in which he did just that.

 Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. The Catholic Herald gave a report on 18 August 2017, which is still there, only a google away.  I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty laundry in front of non-Catholics?

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; the man who insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and iterated fluency can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But, as you will forgive me for reminding you, I have often tried to explain on this blog that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which can make any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. Such a papacy is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to consider. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis. Nor should they accept it, because it is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]"

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, since Amoris laetitia, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the noisy bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to show that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often loudly called.


19 February 2018

Fr H's Spring Examination

(1) "When I perceive resistance, I try to talk." In no more than a hundred words, discuss whether these words (spoken by someone who has refused to meet four Cardinals when they begged him for a meeting)indicate a seriously defective memory or merely a mind for which Truth is a tertiary consideration.
(2) "The question is not that of changing doctrine, but of digging deep and making sure that pastoral practice takes into account the situations and what persons are able to do."  In no more than 100 words, discuss how this Paradigm Shift should be applied either to a confirmed and recidivist paedophile or to a public servant assigned to extermination duties during a genocide. Credit will be given if you estimate how deep the digging should go.
(3) "You are, objectively, committing a very grave evil, and if you understood what you were doing, you would be heading for H**l. So, as I accompany you on your journey, my advice to you is to take care to remain in invincible ignorance, so that I can in good conscience advise you to approach the Sacraments". In no more than 100 words, discuss this advice in the light of Amoris laetitia.

18 February 2018

Pillula Dicit ('The Tablet says') UPDATED

Does PF really get 50 bits of paper handed to him each day, as Mr Lamb of the Tablet (infra) asserts? A different media outlet informs us that it is 100. One wonders what the figure will have been inflated to by the time Scicluna makes his report.

There are sections of the Tablet which you can read free on the Internet. I have to problem in Conscience about doing this: since I pay them nothing, I can, I hope, feel fairly confident that just reading it on my computer screen does not make me complicit in their promotion of their own version of Christianity.

In their latest number, my eye was caught by the headline "Zero tolerance is the only way". "Ah", I thought, "our old friend Pedophilia again". It's only a few weeks since PF assured us yet again that his own policy towards that vice is "Zero tolerance". But no; the Tablet reference was to a current problem in the British 'Charity' world. One of our biggest charities, Oxfam, appears to have been employing people whose motive was not so much to feed the poor as to get posted to impoverished countries where they could enjoy wall-to-wall sex at very advantageous rates. And there has been a sheepish acknowledgement that some of the human beings, made in the image of God, whom this sporcizia has been defiling, were probably children. So it is Pedophilia; or, to be fair, Pedophilia Plus.

Memories; memories. The first Oxfam outlet was, I think, in the Broad Street, near Thornton's Bookshop, now, sadly, no more. It was there ... the Oxfam shop, I mean, not Thornton's ... that as a very callow undergraduate I bought my first decanter. It was quite cheap because there was a chip off the stopper. Those were the furtive days when one concealed from one's guests that one was giving them 'South African Sherry'. I still use that decanter. Nowadays, of course, Oxfam promotes Abortion and Contraception, so, to be fair, their miscreant employees were doing nothing worse than consistently following a coherent and widespread ethical system shared by their own organisation: the prioritisation of sexual licence.

And in the same issue, you can discover how the Tablet recommends you pronounce Cupich; evidently ... oh dear ... the Pill thinks we are all going to be pronouncing that dismal disyllable quite often. And you can watch a video of Cardinal Soapy's Cambridge lecture with the questions and answers. Ever a thoughtful pastor, His Eminence explained that, in the Confessional, when we promise amendment, amendment means getting "closer to the ideal".

Please, dear Reader, forgive me for making, in what follows, a point I have made before.

Suppose, in the confessional, somebody confesses to child abuse, pleads diminished responsibilty on the grounds of sick obsession, so that his offences are subjectively no more than venial, and promises to "come closer to the ideal". Perhaps he says "I will cut my abuse down to just once a week". "I will only abuse boys/girls who genuinely seem to enjoy it". "I will be much less penetrative". That ... am I right? ... will, in the eyes of our new Bergoglian ethical Paradigm, constitute a move in the right direction, so that one can warmly commend and then absolve this penitent? Yes? Surely Yes?? At least, one ought not to "make the Confessional a Torture Chamber"? Have I got all this right? If not, why not?

I then moved on to a piece by Christopher Lamb. It concerns the letter which, apparently, Cardinal O'Malley was supposed to have handed to PF with regard to the Bishop Barros scandal. Lamb assures us (is this what the PF clique is now putting around in preparation for a cover-up?) that PF is handed 50 things a day and really can't be expected to look at them all. Really? Then PF's irritable outburst to the Press, claiming to have received no evidence, was rather ill-judged. And his infuriated suggestion that you should just send him the evidence is rather undercut by the fact that ... apparently ... he's unlikely to look at it even if you do. Lamb reminds us that, for PF, not a subtle man, 'reforming the Curia' means sackings, so that there are now fewer people around to help him look at those 50 troubling daily items. But Lamb's piece (the man is no fool) does show a real and growing unease about the shabby realities of this pontificate. If even the Pill is starting to notice ...

In the great big vulgar world of commerce, can there be any doubt that such a CEO would be facing strong pressures to consider his position?

Let's end back with Cupich. He seemed very uncertain about Holy Scripture. "I'd have to look that up"! And his interesting reliance on the deservedly well-known Dominical logion "I came not to teach you but to give you life" seems to overlook the popular murmur "He teaches not as one of the Scribes but with authority"; not to mention that great long section in S Matthew which people call 'The Sermon on the Mount', where the Man who is Torah Incarnate steals away our every sinful comfort with his insistent and prescriptive "But I say unto you".

Perhaps that 'Sermon' would be better Lenten reading than anything put out by PF and his sycophants. Especially if it were accompanied by revisiting the masterly dialogue between Professor Joseph Ratzinger and Rabbi Professor Jacob Neusner, in the middle volume of Jesus of Nazareth. Their exegesis of the Sermon is every bit as sparkling (and now even more relevant) as when they wrote it.

17 February 2018

INCIPIT PARS VERNA BREVIARII

Those of you who keep an eye on the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO [how to get one? See below] will have noticed that, after None today, before Vespers, those strange words are printed. "The Spring Part of the Breviary begins". Why on earth didn't the spring volume start on Ash Wednesday, with the beginning of the new season of Lent?

In earlier days, the First Sunday in Lent was given the title CAPUT QUADRAGESIMAE ... the Start of Lent. Because for most of the first millennium, there was no Ash Wednesday! The Gesima period continued up to the First Vespers of the Sunday.

HOW DID ALL THIS FASTING STUFF BEGIN?

The Church began with just the Easter Fast, of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Then a fast of 40 days was prefixed to the Easter Fast. That got us back to the First Sunday of Lent.

Then all that background was rather forgotten; and people began to say that, since Sundays are not a fast days, that gave us only 36 days of fasting.

So they added, in the eighth century, four days before the First Sunday to make up 40 days. So the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, of Quinquagesima Week were grabbed by Lent.

But it still remained true that the distinctive things about the Lenten Office ... in particular, the Lenten hymns and all that sort of thing ... didn't begin until the First Vespers of the Sunday. They still don't. Such is the laudable conservatism of the authentic Roman Rite!

That's why the clergy still don't pick up their Lenten Breviaries until the eve of Sunday.

So, for more that a thousand years, the Breviary Office did not bring all its Lenten features into play until four days after Latin Catholics had put ashes on their heads, and fasted, on Ash Wednesday!

BEHOLD the amazing conservatism of the Roman Rite ... until the Age of Hannibal Bugnini and his elite squad of elephants!

ordorecitandi@gmail.com

St Lawrence Press Ltd
59, Sandscroft Avenue,
Broadway,
Worcestershire,
WR12 7EJ
UK 

(I have no financial interest in this publication!!!)

16 February 2018

Num quid boni e Cantabrigia?

Definitely Yes. Have a gander at the perfectly spiffing questions posed to a certain foreign Cardinal by Professor John Rist ... still manifestly in his prime ...

Ephphatha, and be quick about it!

Soon after Amoris laetitia, Cardinal Farrell hinted heavily that Episcopal Conferences should consider that document and ... even more heavily and helpfully ... hinted exactly what the Holy Spirit (needless to say) required them to come up with. But quite a number of Conferences have still not broken the bonds of taciturnity. The Cardinal's aperient spittle and his potent ephphatha  have not yet been effective. There are now signs that pressures ... if I may mix my metaphors ... are afoot. Has the Secretariate of State been dropping hints?

It is no secret that the English and Welsh bishops have not been able to come to a common mind and, on present showing, appear unlikely to do so. I believe Cardinal Nichols' phrase was "We're not there yet". One of the Diocesans, clearly having in mind the teaching of Benedict XVI about the magisterium of diocesan bishops, had the proactive good sense to issue his own ambiguity-free diocesan guidelines very soon after the emergence of AL. Strangely, he has been given very little credit for being so quick off the mark in responding to a Bergoglian initiative.

It is my personal and completely unevidenced hypothesis that his Eminence's rather flowery letter to PF last year, informing him that his election was the work of the Spirit and that the Spirit guides him daily (very Cupichiste!), was an attempt to buy time and to assure PF that, despite the apparent delays of the English bishops, they are all to a man enthusiastic and hyperpapalist supporters of this pontificate.

What next?

What is new is the (albeit risible) suggestion of Cardinal Cupich and others that the dubia which abound in this area have now been all authoritatively resolved by a rather strange and far from clear paragraph or two in Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Punto, or whatever it is that Italians say.

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself the Chairman of your Episcopal Conference in these circumstances?

Pushy as ever, I will reveal to you what I, a strong Bergoglian, would do in order to breath new wind into the faltering sails of Amoris laetitia.

I would circulate my Venerable Brethren in my Conference with documents, to be discussed at the Eastertide Meeting of the Conference, explaining what in my view the current situation demands of them. Or I would agree with another like-minded and 'senior' member of the Conference for him to do it instead, so that it didn't seem that everything was my doing.

[A chance lecture by a visiting Bergoglian Cardinal to one of my country's newer universities would be a bonus, a real godsend!!!]

At the meeting, if one or two bishops still remained recalcitrant, I would express my regret that my colleagues had not been able to come together around a formula which could secure the unanimous majority required by the terms of Apostolos suos. I would then remind them that a document with a non-unanimous but large majority could still be sent to Rome and, if approved there, would have thus acquired full authority. To help them through the hoop, I would introduce a minute suggestion of a hint of an ambiguity into one sentence in the draft (or get one of my friends to propose it), like throwing a bone to a dog, so that they could use that to salve their consciences and save their faces.

If this still failed to inspire the troublesome minority to see sense, I would go for the nuclear option of sending such a resolution to Rome, at the same time making clear to 'Rome' which of my brethren constituted the non-juring minority. Possibly I might also drop some quiet words into the Nuncio's ear about "how difficult it is to work with" X and/or Y.


But ... dreadful thought ... suppose there were to be a change of pontificate right in the middle of all this pro-Amoris activity ... After all, to adapt a witticism of Dom Gregory Dix, eventually even the most single-minded pontiff has rest from his labours, and it is surprising how often the lance of his successor delivers the Church from the dangers posed by some quite different windmill.

What's that phrase about creeks and paddles ...

15 February 2018

PARADIGM SHIFTS and Fr H's Conscience

Cardinal Cupich is not the only person to suggest that a "Paradigm Shift" has occurred in this pontificate.

I am not sure what a Paradigm Shift, precisely, is. Words are malleable things, and it is quite possible that some eirenic person could elaborate a henotikon defining the phrase in a way that could be conformable with my Conscience, acceptable, as we now have to say, to the "aboriginal Vicar of Christ" within me.

[For example: Benedict XVI condemned the notion which, as he said, grew up after Vatican II, that "A pope can do anything". Was this his most laudable condemnation a Paradigm Shift? Surely not. I would strongly prefer to discern it as merely a return to sound Tradition which had been ignored by wickedly ambitious men; and the condemnation of a corrupt tyranny which ought never to have been allowed to seize power in the first place.]

But at this present moment and in this particular context, I understand the words 'Paradigm shift' as indicating a radical restructuring contra Scripturam et Traditionem of the basic grammar of Christian belief or practice so that, by a touch of this Circean wand, X is transformed to become non-X. So I find the formula unacceptable in Conscience. I would be willing formally to repudiate it. Vatican I did not say  "The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might publish new doctrines, but so that by His help they might shift the paradigms". What Vatican I did say, I hope the readers of this blog know rather better than some eminent individuals appear to.

So, if Cardinal Cupich were able to assure me categorically and convincingly that PF really has shifted a paradigm, my Conscience, ineluctably potent within me, would compel me to retort "So you too are now accusing the Holy Father of propagating and promoting heresy. Excellent! Welcome to the fold! Have a drink! I'm sure you would like to subscribe to the Filial Correction. Let me lend you my pen!"

14 February 2018

Germanic Schisms

At the start of Lent, you could do little better than to read Archbishop Chaput's admirable Pastoral Letter. It manages to get one thinking on the Vatican's China policy; on the heathen pseudo-morality of AL ... and does so with great brevity and an engaging pastoral lightness of touch. He begins with the Vatican's Concordat with Nazi Germany.

The esence of that Concordat ... of doing a deal with the Spirit of the Age, the Zeitgeist ...  is still not dead in Germany; or, indeed, anywhere else.

As I understand it ... correct me if I'm wrong ... in Germany, if you withdraw from paying your Church Tax, the Marxenkirche (correct me if I've got my German wrong) will excommunicate you. So an orthodox Catholic can't withdraw from financial complicity in the heterodox doings of the German episcopate without being deprived of the Sacraments.

Clearly, there ought to be pastoral and sacramental provision made for the victims of such an ugly tyranny. I'm sure (correct me if I'm wrong) the SSPX would happily make such provision as far as its ministry can reach. But Germany is a big country for which to assume the pastoral responsibility when one only has 600 priests to cover the whole world. What about the Ecclesia Dei communities? How willing would they be to share responsibility, against the will of the German bishops, for orthodox laity excluded from the Sacraments in retaliation for their orthodoxy?

I have a very great deal of respect for those bodies which faithfully, laudably, bravely, maintain liturgical orthopraxy. But I am occasionally a little uneasy if they are not publicly clearly seen to act upon the link between sound and safe liturgy, and orthodoxy in the area of dogma and the Church's moral teaching. Correct me if I am being unjust in saying this. It may be that I have not heard of statements, declarations, etc.. And I certainly appreciate that if one is a Superior, one has to be aware of the disastrous harm one might inflict on communities for which one is responsible, if one angers a local Ordinary, whether in Germany or anywhere else. And I am in no position to lecture anybody else, because I myself live off pension income and need be beholden to nobody. But ....

It is, for example, very natural to be joyful about the fact that a prelate 'gives' you a church for the authentic liturgy ... comes and celebrates the Old Rite with you .... even does Old Rite Ordinations for you. I like fine churches and graceful liturgy quite as much as anybody else. But what if the same man's policies in the ethical sphere were Bergoglian?

Is a time coming when carefully sitting on fences may itself be a schismatic deviation from witnessing to the Truth?

And I pose these as genuinely questions.

But I rather think Archbishop Chaput has just answered them.

13 February 2018

ORDINARIATE MISSAL £65

For years, sensible people have been asking me about the possibility of buying a 'study copy' of Divine Worship the Missal. I have always passed on your requests. Now the (British) Catholic Truth Society(CTS) have come up to the mark. It is a limited run.

I hope this will lead to renewed interest in a very worthwhile initiative. It is absolutely the to-die-for liturgy for those who want a vernacular Catholic liturgy in the 'tudor' liturgical English dialect of Anglican public worship.

Don't be put off by the fact that it rather shamefacedly permits the ultra-short Eucharistic Prayer to be optionally used on some weekdays. The Roman Canon is clearly presented as our normative Eucharistic Prayer.

Cupich (3)

In the text of Cupich's Cambridge lecture, he acknowledges a widely felt problem: "While admitting that different cultural realities call for different pastoral conclusions, this is not to suggest that the existence of widely varying teachings among regions (or dioceses) is a positive element in Church life. There is still a dilemma that needs further attention and and study lest we end up with opposing magisterial directives even within regions which share a similar culture and realities in family life".

Indeed. It has often been pointed out that you already get a different magisterial answer by taking that single perilous footstep which carries you from Poland into Germany. [And I seem to remember that PF sanctioned the reaction  of the Polish bishops to AL as being proper for their country ... does anyone know a reference for that?] It would certainly be highly amusing if one had in this country a different AL hermeneutic in, say, Shrewsbury and Liverpool.


Cupich goes on to sunder this particularly Gordian knot.

"In this regard, PF has now offered a pathway forward* with the publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedes [sic] of his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires and their Pastoral which confirms that their interpretation of Amoris authentically reflects his mind as being official Church teaching. It will now be up to all in the Church, particularly the hierarchy, to respond in a spirit of affective and effective collegiality with the Successor of Peter ...".

So, although Cupich only a minute or two earlier referred to PF's own stress upon "the importance of local variation in our global Church", when the whotsit hits the thingummy there is only one valid understanding of AL. And guess which one that is ...

In an earlier age, one might have wondered how well mannered it was for a foreign bishop to visit our shores so as to lecture our bishops ("it will now be up to ... the hierarchy ...") on how they should understand their duty. But we must understand that Blase Cupich is riding high, wearing that red hat which by tradition would have gone to the occupant of a different American See; and intoxicated with the sweet wine of pontifical favour.

His words constitute one of the most aggressive ... and totally unacceptable ... assertions so far of an extremist and absurdly simplistic misunderstanding of the role within the Church Militant of the Roman Bishop.


When Catholic professional ecumenists discuss the Roman Primacy with non-Catholics, do they, I wonder, make clear that (once unity has been established) all discussion about a particular point at issue must instantly come to an end as soon as something is published in AAS? If not, perhaps they should start being honest enough to make it clear. Or else to disown this novel superstition.

*Notice a fine piece of weaselspeak: Cupich means that, in his view, PF has authoritatively imposed something. In weaselspeak, this becomes "has offered a pathway forward". Observe also the equivalence apparently made: 'his [PF's] mind' = 'official Church teaching". Things get better and better!

12 February 2018

Cupich (2)

I have to rely upon second-hand accounts of how things went in the Q&A session which followed the Cambridge lecture. But I gather that His Eminence launched into lengthy and impassioned assertions of the the authority of the Magisterium. The answer offered to one questioner was the further question (asked in deeply shocked tones) as to whether those expressing doubts or concerns about Amoris laetitia perhaps failed to believe that the Pope was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in writing it. Thus the Magisterium was invoked not only in all its panoply, but in that crude form which, in the heyday of the old Catholic Evidence Guild, that Guild's speakers justly dismissed as being a misinformed Protestant or rationalist notion of what Infallibility means in Catholic theology.

More, later, on Cupich, Deo volente.

11 February 2018

Grisez ... the obituaries

Germain Grisez was one of the great 'traditional' Catholic moral thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. His valiant battles in defence of Humanae vitae will undoubtedly be brought to our attention by other 'traditional' obituarists; and rightly. This 50th anniversary of that monumental encyclical must, as I said only a few days ago, be our occasion to revisit that document, to know it, to realise its importance in the current crisis facing the whole state of Christ's Church Militant here in Earth. Grisez, together with John Finnis (see below) have, of course, been forthright in their treatment of Amoris laetitia. Christian Moral Philosophy is a coherent interlocking system.

Call me a dreadful old cynic, but just possibly some of those other obituarists may slightly forget another ethical battle which Grisez fought, together with Boyle and Finnis. In their masterly Nuclear deterrence of 1988, Oxford University Press, they examined the fundamental building blocks of the 'Deterrence' doctrine which lay and lie at the basis of the policies of both America and her satellites, and, of course, also of the Russian Federation. In the light of the Church's teaching about the Just War, they concluded that these policies cannot be anything other than totally immoral.

This conclusion, of course, was the same as that of a great warrior for Christian Tradition and Ethics in the dark days of the 'Council', Cardinal Ottaviani.

(I sha'n't enable comments which disagree with this conclusion unless it is abundantly clear to me that a writer has carefully read and understood the book Nuclear Deterrence. It hardly seems respectful to the memory of someone as truly great as Grisez to write uninformed criticism of his work when he has just died. In any case, at most times I rather dislike attacks on traditional Christian ethics.)

10 February 2018

WARNING

I have declined to enable a small number of comments.

I am not averse to enabling robustly critical comments about PF himself and about the sycophants with whom he surrounds himself.

But just watch how you do it. Moreover, the more critical you are, the more you need to show, carefully and logically and factually, the grounds upon which you draw your critical conclusions.

You do not make any contribution to solving the crisis in the Church Militant if you just write nasty abuse without careful argumentation to back it up.

I have hitherto allowed some borderline comments. In future, I will be stricter.

I understand and sympathise with the wounds which PF's personality and actions have created in many minds and lives. But I would rather you refrained from merely letting off steam and doing so abusively.

Furthermore, understanding is spreading. A piece which has just popped up on the Catholic Herald website uses the Barros scandal to raise questions like whether PF is fully in command of his faculties; whether, rather than being part of the problem, he  is  the problem. The 'Mainstream', gradually, is becoming less timid. Pennies are dropping. This is not the moment to give the world what hesitant and undecided people will conclude is evidence that PF's critics are unpleasant nutters. Always ask yourself "How will this sound to someone who is sitting on the fence?"

I urge people to keep their heads and say their prayers and, if they find these two suggestions too difficult, to keep quiet.


Cupich the Super Slippery (1)

Lecturing yesterday at the other university, Cardinal Cupich gave a superb example of cunning slipperiness. In its skill, it is positively beautiful. In its scope, breathtaking.

"Their [married couples' and families'] decisions of conscience represent God's personal guidance for the particularities of their lives. In other words, the voice of conscience ... the voice of God ... or if I may be permitted to quote an Oxford man here at Cambridge, what Newman called 'the aboriginal vicar of Christ' ... could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal, while nevertheless calling a person 'to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realised' (AL 303)"

(1) Again, we have the very corruption I tried to nail down in a recent post, the idea that the Law of God (neatly here packaged and neutered as 'the Church's understanding of the ideal') can be trumped, set aside, by some other factor: here, 'Conscience'. Observe also how cleverly 'Sin', in this case Adultery, is replaced by the exquisite circumlocution 'living at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal'. [So, in the Confessional, I suppose we shall be hearing "And, Father, I have lived at some distance from the Church's understanding of the ideal seventy three times." It will make those pre-Easter sessions in the box even more lengthy.]

(2) But also, yet more brilliantly, notice the masterly way in which Newman is parenthetically invoked to sanctify a proposition which Super Slippery could (if taken to task) deny he actually attributes to Newman. He does not actually say that his formulation is what Newman wrote, said, or thought. But by waving the name of Newman over his words and citing a single phrase ...

Wow!! What a man! 

More on CSS when I have time. The piece I drafted on Latin pronunciation will have to be deferred.

9 February 2018

Before Lent, muscadines all round? UPDATED

A kind and doctus friend has sent me this reference. http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/muscone/musconeh./htm 


 Festum Ovorum, the Feast Of Eggs, is how they describe tomorrow, the Saturday before Lent, year by year in the Oxford University Diary, despite the fact that for some centuries nobody in Oxford has even thought of celebrating this entertainingly named day.

The origin and purpose of Festum Ovorum is pretty certainly exactly what each one of you will have guessed from first principles: as on Mardi Gras, to have a binge before Lent. It has stayed on the University Calendar since the Middle Ages ... just as, in this University, All Soul's Day and Corpus Christi and the Assumption survived the 'Reformation' (I bet they didn't in the Fens). We know that this was not just a custom in alma academia, but flourished throughout the neighbouring country areas, where, in their endearingly unlatinate way, the rude but worthy yokels just called it Egge Satterday. (There must be some poignantly corny witticism about Yolks and Yokels.) However, purely by coincidence, it became, in this University, linked with an academic deadline: the last day on which bachelors were allowed to 'determine'; that is, to complete the exercises for the degree of M.A.. And academics had a 'Determination Feast' to celebrate this, which goes back at least to the time of Lord Richard Holland (nephew of Richard II) who had his Determination Feast on the 21st and 22nd of February, 1395 (yes, I have checked that date in Cheney). As late as 1603, "all the bachelors that were presented to determine did after their presentation go to every college where they were determining and there make a feast for the senior bachelors, videlicet, of muscadine and eggs; figs; raisons; almonds; sack; and such like".

I suppose all this was quite an exotic spread in those days. Now we could buy most of it in Waitrose. Except for the muscadines, which are sweetmeats made from a pod near the fundament of an asiatic deer (its secretion may have been a sexual attractant) and regarded as an aphrodisiac since the days when the trade routes brought both it, and its Sanskrit name, from India to Byzantium. It is now vastly expensive since the poor things have been hunted almost into bio-undiversity ... ah, the compulsions of homo insipiens, the so-called animal rationale ... fortasse potius animal dicendum venereale. But I gather that chemists now produce a synthetic version of musk. 


I will here reveal that I have published this post in previous years at the corresponding time of year; and the only interest it has secured has been among North Americans who, in their very welcome billions, regularly offer me Comments in which they explain that, in all their dictionaries, muscadine refers only to grapes. The old and full Oxford English Dictionary gives entries of three separate words with this same spelling: grapes; animal musk; and, thirdly, "a Parisian woman of fashion". This year, just for variety, I am going to enable none of those grape-preoccupied comments, but I would admit relevant academic comments on Parisian Women of Fashion (whom I had always thought were known technically as les grandes horizontales or obalisques [h/t to Evelyn Waugh The Loved One for that last crack]).

The English sweetmeats made from musk were called 'kissing cakes' or 'rising cakes'. Odd names, don't you think? Now ... no offence ... many of my best friends are chemists ... but I bet muscadines made with synthetic musk would have much less potent characteristics than the Real Thing. As for Fashionable Parisiennes, I have no experience whatsoever of their potential characteristics or physiological effects, synthetic or otherwise. My wife comes from Leicestershire.

A series of controlled experiments, perhaps, in somebody's laboratory?

8 February 2018

News from Kent

Sources not a million miles from Broadstairs suggest that the SSPX elections this year will provide the Society with a new non-episcopal Superior. And that the admirable Bishop Fellay could end up in Rome, heading a revamped Ecclesia Dei. What a very intriguing prospect!

Surely, it would be jolly to have, under the roof of the Palazzo of the Holy Office, a prelate who has unambiguously demonstrated his orthodoxy by signing our completely unambiguous Filial Correction of PF. Remember, too, that the CDF is Line Manager for the Ordinariates. It would also, surely, be pleasantly cosy that within those wallowed halls there should be an additional prelate whose instincts were sympathetic to the Ordinariates. The icing on the cake would be for the poor still-persecuted Franciscans of the Immaculate to be transferred to his care. Fellay for Cardinal! The Unity Candidate!

How splendid it is, bonum et iucundum, when brethren dwell together in unity. Perhaps His Excellency should grow a beard as long as Aaron's so that the oil could pour down it! I bet he would love to revisit his and my wonderful friends on Papa Stronsay. When I was there, they told me that I was 'sleeping in Bishop Fellay's bed'; perhaps they will tell him next time that he is sleeping in Fr Hunwicke's bed, before taking him to pick cherries in the greenhouse and to chat with the black guillemots on the quay. He could repay the cherries by granting the Community faculties to resume celebrating the Byzantine Rite in their lovely little Ukrainian chapel.

As the Redemptorist Brethren politely opened a large farm gate for me to walk through, one of them, with the bewitching insouciance of the young, casually remarked: 'Bishop Fellay just jumped over that'.

I hope and pray that His Excellency is still no less lithe.

Also, that the finances and properties of the Society are legally tied up so tightly that Roman fingers can never get anywhere near them. Those fingers made a determined attempt to raid the Trustees of the FI. Greedy! Naughty!

7 February 2018

Chrism Mass

According to Bishop Egan (ad multos annos Domine plurimosque annos), we are to be using a new translation of the Chrism Mass this year. Can somebody tell me whether this is a welcome new translation of the older texts (done under the reliable and erudite hands of the great Mgr Andrew Wadsworth) or whether the original Latin has been messed around with ... as, of course, has lamentably been done in the rites of Ordination.

An Eminent Ecclesiastic ...

... is reported to have spoken in a very relaxed and civilised way about the blessing of sexually irregular relationships.

Splendid stuff. This is the way ahead. Before genocides, for example, or murders in general, one should always baptise or absolve (perhaps conditionally) those about to be terminated. Thereby, one would be giving them the supreme good of immediate everlasting life. How could such an admirable End fail to justify the Means? And, before the sexual abuse of the young or vulnerable, one should always sprinkle them with Holy Water.

Every paedophile should always carry some with him. It is a very important Sacramental.

All of that was what is called technically 'irony'. I think I was inspired by a particular 'modest' writing of my hero the late Dean Swift. Since he got into trouble because the po-faced took his Proposal seriously, I had better make clear that I am not really offering such advice ... far from it. Such conduct would be abhorrent.

I would add two points. We all of us, in our respective avocations, have our own professional dirty little tricks. Bishops are no exception. And, according to the accounts, the Ecclesiastic concerned has just played the very nastiest such Dirty Little Trick. He has left the decision about blessing such relationships to the parish clergy. He will now be the Mr Nice who has been generous and 'inclusive'. Poor Fr X who adheres to the teaching of the Catholic Church will now be Mr Nasty, attacked on the grounds that he is so much 'less inclusive' than the Nice Ecclesiastic and Fr Alsoverynice in the next parish.

It sounds so reasonable, doesn't it; mumble mumble case by case mumble mumble local pastoral decision mumble mumble. In fact, as well as being an abdication of episcopal responsibilities, it is a viciously nasty method of creating problems and then unloading them onto other people whose position you have already fatally undermined. From the Ecclesiastic's own standpoint, what's not to like?

We experienced that sort of management-style when we were back in the Church of England. The map ahead is already published and it is very clear. The next stage, 'pastorally', is: "My dear boy, I am so very sorry about all this. I wish so much that I could help. But, y'know, this major pastoral breakdown in your parish leaves me with no choice ... I am thinking about your happiness every bit as much as that of your parish ... ".

And, by stealth, step by step, the corruptions of the Evil One are multiplying and spreading. They grow with generous rapidity from being a tiny seed of the exceptional and the unusual and the 'pastoral' to being the norm and the iron rule. Time, as the Evil One is aware, is so very much more important than Space.

Secondly: who does the Ecclesiastic think he is to speak, apparently, on behalf of his national episcopate? I think I may be right ... I'm not sure ... in saying that he is Chairman of his Conference, but, all the same, have they discussed the matter and come to a unanimous conclusion? Apostolos suos, I think, laid down that in doctrinal matters, a unanimous vote was necessary. Surely there must be just one orthodox bishop in that country? Otherwise, this is an uncanonical piece of dictatorial arrogance.

Cardinal Mueller spoke very well about the problem of what, with justifiable sarcasm, he called these 'vice-popes'. He had an extremely sound instinct for what was going on. Perhaps that is why ... er ...

Next time you meet a Great Ecclesiastic who is probably Chairman of his Conference, make sure you keep your wits about you. Keep a sharp eye open for vis sine lege.

6 February 2018

C Cupich

I would be very glad to receive from eye-witnesses accounts of any sharp questions this gentleman has to answer in his impending lecture at Cambridge. And whether he defines paradign shift by giving examples from the past.

INTRINSECE MALUM (2)

This year is the 25th anniversary of Veritatis Splendor, of S John Paul II; and the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, of Bl Paul VI. There is abundant evidence that the corrupted teachers who believe that they have been given a fair wind by PF are already employing this double aniversary for an onslaught upon both of those fine Magisterial assertions by Roman Pontiffs of what the Church has taught semper et ubique et ab omnibus. They are using Amoris laetitia, a document drafted in the very deepest levels of the Lowerarchy, almost certainly under the personal direction of Mr Under-Secretary Screwtape himself*, to "reinterpret" Humanae vitae. One such piece of 'work' is significantly headed "From Montini to Francis: development in fidelity". What this means, stripped of weaselly word games, is "Wow! We can use Section 8 of Amoris laetitia to subvert the meaning and authority of Humanae vitae; we can claim that our subversion is development rather than apostasy, and say that it still leaves the teaching of Papa Montini totally undamaged, nay rather, it affirms it". [This was essentially the argument used at the News Conference chaired by the Graf von Schoenborn to ... er ... 'launch' Amoris laetitia, when he was asked by Diane Montagna whether it contradicted Familiaris consortio.]

What these men, who have put their reason at the disposal of the Bent Eldil*, have in their sights is to destroy the notion that some human actions are intrinsically evil in such a way that no circumstances can render them otherwise.

We all need to be fortified against this already-happening attack of the Evil One. One could amass quite a reading list here; but I will suggest two things, one brief and at a 'lower' Magisterial level; and the second longer and at a 'higher' ... a very high ... Magisterial level.

(1) S John Paul II, on June 5 1987, delivered a fine address still on the Vatican website in Italian and Spanish, but rediscovered and elegantly translated into English by [the same] Miss Montagna: Lifesitenews Wednesday January 31 2018.  It vigorouly and unambiguously upholds the plain and irreformable teaching of Humanae vitae.

(2) The majestic encyclical of S John Paul, Veritatis splendor was, I think I am right in saying, entirely ignored by Mgr Screwtape during the drafting of Amoris laetitia. In it, pope Wojtyla took head-on, and demolished, the relativistic, 'situational' ethical theories which were still being circulated. It deserves reading in toto. The particular section most concerned is in paragraphs 71-83 (pages 108-127 in the CTS edition). If you feel that one paragraph is all you can manage at this moment of time, just go for paragraph 80 (pages 122sqq.). It subsumes an important passage from (Vatican II's) Gaudium et Spes into its argumentation.

Our Enemy and our enemies are all going hell-for-leather on this subject. We need to be fortified.

**Apologies to those unfamiliar with the writings of our Patrimonial C. S. Lewis; 'Screwtape' and 'the Bent Eldil' refer to his Daimonologia.

I'm sorry, but I shall not enable Comments which take this opportunity to attack Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.


5 February 2018

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino ...

... because it's S Agatha's Day! So congratulations to the people of S Agatha's Ordinariate Church in Portsmouth, with their admirable Parish Priest Fr John Maunder and Mgr Robert Mercer, the great missionary Bishop of Matabeleland, now in Ordinariate 'retirement'.

S Agata dei Goti is a unique church in Rome: it was once an Arian church. Perhaps S Agatha should be the patroness of those who rescue churches from schism for Catholic use! Most readers will not need me to tell them that this is the Titular Church of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, who is very unlikely to give it back to the Goths, whether or not they are still Arian.

S Agatha's in Portsmouth, of which the Ordinariate has the use, was sold off by the C of E as redundant. It, also unique, is the only place in England ... I think ... where you can see a church built by the Anglo-Catholics in the days of their high glory, full of the most exquisite artwork and shrines, now in Full Communion with the See of S Peter and offering worship in the finest tradition of Anglican Catholicism. Fr Maunder has added to the glories of his church by commissioning a baroque over-altar of our Lady and S Agatha, granting Anglicanorum coetibus to Pope Benedict, as the early Anglican parish priests look on ... men who had prayed daily for the unity of Christendom with the Successor of S Peter. Could someone provide a link to the picture?

The good news is that if you live within range of Portsmouth, you haven't missed the boat with regard to this year's festival. S Agatha will be celebrated this coming Saturday at 11.00. The Solemn Mass will be Haydn's great Nelson Mass. That's a good idea, isn't it, in a great Naval Base such as Portsmouth. The Mass was composed in 1798, the year of the Battle of the Nile, when His Grace Admiral the Duke of Bronte in the Kingdom of Sicily held up for a few more decades the spread of the Enlightenment. I seem to recall that at Greenwich they have a painting of the napoleonic flagship L'Oreole exploding. It would be jolly to have a link to that picture, too. Viva Horatio! Viva Nelson!

WHY GO TO ROME ... OR SICILY ... WHEN YOU CAN GET THE REAL S AGATHA SO MUCH CLOSER HOME?

4 February 2018

The current crisis about orthodoxy: what does it all amount to? (1)

During the Arian Crisis, one word was the flag, the symbol, of Orthodoxy: HOMOOUSIOS. The Son is Consubstantial, or of one Substance, with the Father. Now ... imagine somebody during that crisis putting forward a Creed or Profession of Faith which sounded perfectly OK ... indeed, if it had been put forward fifty years previously, everybody would have received it joyfully. But, after the Church had defined the Dogma of the Co-equal Divinity of the Son by the word Homoousios, if somebody then put forward a new Creed which deliberately omitted this one word, he was seen to be a heretic. All the more so, if he put out a version of the 'Nicene' Creed with Homoousios eliminated from the text, he condemned himself as a heretic.

In our present crisis, the gravest since the Reformation if not since the Arian Crisis, the phrase, the Battle Standard around which the conflict is raging, is INTRINSECE MALUM*, "intrinsically evil". This means that there are acts, so described, which are of themselves evil. Always; in all circumstances. Under no circumstances can they be right. Not even if ...

This doctrine has been under fire since the 1960s or earlier, when various dodges were dreamed up to get round it. The implication of all these dodges was that the rules of Catholic morality were generally good guides, but there were unusual circumstances in which it might be OK to break them. I remember a popular book of Moral Theology which actually, laughably, but with a straight face, gave the following example.
Fornication is wrong. But suppose one is a spy working for the West, and one knows that a certain spy working for SMERSH, i.e. the Evil (Russian) Empire, possesses a crucial secret ... the Plan, let us say, for a new ICBM warhead or an ultrasuperhypermarvellous submarine or spacecraft ... then (if fornication would extract the all-important Plan from the enemy agent who, in those carefee days, was always of the opposite sex) the greater Good of the Survival of Civilisation As We Know It, would justify the fornication.

Yes; a 'serious' theologian could be so influenced by the light-hearted 1960s adolescent sexual fantasies concerning Commander James Bond, R.N., M.A. Cantab., that he did propound such risible codswallop.
To be continued.

*In-TRIN-se-chey MUL-um is how the phrase is pronounced, with the U as in tub. Not MAH-lum, because that would mean 'an Apple' ... but I suppose one might be going for prelapsarian typology ...

3 February 2018

Weinsteins and things

A colleague once informed me "You are so contrab****ydictory?" Perhaps I am. But I am getting ... well, restless about the hunt going on for men who have 'assaulted' women. In this country, we have reached the stage where "He fleetingly touched my knee" may be enought to do for a politician's career. Apart from anything else, this is surely an insult to women and girls who actually have been horribly abused.

And if some bimbo does get a job in showbiz or whatever by accommodating the sexual incontinence of some impresario or whatever, which of the two is 'the victim'? Especially if she morally initiated the commercium by her behaviour, words, or immodest dress? But the feminist fascists have got it all set up so that a woman is 'entitled' to dress and behave as provocatively as she wishes and woe betide any male who draws any conclusion. These are narrow times for those who dare to make any semiological inferences based upon non-verbal data; narrower, I suspect, than any other periods in human civilisation. Not least because in earlier times relations between the sexes were at least notionally under the control of conventions either formal or informal.

Any suggestion that a woman should conduct herself with normal human prudence and plain common sense is now deeply, profoundly, Politically Incorrect.

Perhaps we need a statute outlawing both the buying and selling of sex, and including a definition of constructive prostitution, whereby the securing or bestowing of non-financial advantages by a sexual exchange is also criminalised.

Perhaps that would enable us to lock up all the Dirty Old Men and all the Dirty Young Women. Perhaps they could all be incarcerated together, each DOM in the same cell as his DYW, and left to get on with their rabid symbiotic impurities until they all fell down dead from exhaustion.

2 February 2018

Dom Lentini; Heloise; and multiple castrations

When Hannibal Bugnini was busily making the worship of the Western Church more agreeable to the Almighty, the Breviary hymns were handed over to a learned Benedictine, Dom Anselmo Lentini. Lentini was himself no snitch at writing Latin verse: not a few of the better new compositions in the Liturgia Horaum are from his pen. And an occasional new composition, added to the existing treasury, would be in accordance with the principle of Organic Development. Moreover, since the Council mandated that older hymns be rescued from the earlier treasury of Latin hymnody and brought back into use to supplement what had come through the bottleneck of the late medieval Roman Rite, it is proper that a judicious number of such hymns should have appeared in the post-conciliar volumes. Whether that revision should have been quite as radical as it turned out to be is, of course, a matter of judgement.

For example, one might wonder if the elimination of the ancient 'common' Office Hymns for our Lady went a bit too far. Pius XII began the game by equipping his new Marian feasts with 'proper' hymns, so that they would not need to use the 'commons' - although even he made a principle of leaving Ave Maris Stella as the Vespers hymn. But Lentini adopted the practice of searching out and reintroducing (or newly composing) hymns for every Marian festival.

But that idea was not a new one in the mid twentieth century. Centuries before, that erudite if lubricious bluestocking, Abelard's Heloise (well, are you in any real doubt which of them it was that did the seducing ... and which of them it was that paid for it?) had indulged herself one of her tantrums in the Monastery of the Paraclete, complaining about the quality of the hymnody in the Divine Office. Texts, she pointed out, were dodgy, missing syllables messed up the chant, questions of authorship, texts not suiting the times of day they were sung ... you name it. And she wanted Abelard to write a completely new set. (Was this her revenge after the poor chap - we blokes are a tactless lot - had just explained to her that he had never really loved her but had merely been Impelled By Lust? We May Never Know.)

Abelard did write some new hymns for her, from which Dom Lentini borrowed some verses. But, to conclude today's post: a little about Legis sacratae.

This was the hymn Lentini rescued for the Feast of the Purification when the decree had gone out that it was to be re-entitulated "the Lord's Presentation". It is a cento of a Carolingian hymn dubiously attributed to Paulinus, Patriarch of Aquileia (d 882); but doctored (the word people use when they have cruelly sent a new cat - or a niece's lover - to the Vet). You see, (Pseudo-) Paulinus was clearly a chap who had read and enjoyed some of the naughtier verses of Catullus. You can detect this from the language he uses. But Lentini was made of sterner stuff. And, a fine scholar, he easily spotted where 'Paulinus'' mind had been straying. So out came all the author's dear little Neoteric diminutives; out came the line which employed a word that Catullus had used about a tart (lacteola). And the vulgar word "basia" just had to be replaced by "oscula". [Basia is pretty well never used in Bible or Liturgy and it tastes - 'sapit' - of Profanity: that is how Dom Anselmo primly puts it. I bet this learned but rather proper Benedictine versifier had never meditated in front of a Byzantine icon of the Theotokos Glykyphilousa.]

So the pretty assonances of "basia sub labiis" disappear.

I wonder what Abelard, complete or incomplete, would have made of these proceedings.

1 February 2018

Whatever happened to Genesis?

In 1549, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer placed, in the Preface to his English Book of Common Prayer, the following complaint (borrowed from Cardinal Quinones) about the pre-Reformation Liturgy: "... commonly, when any book of the Bible was begun, after three or four chapters were read out, all the rest were unread. And in this sort the book of Isaiah was begun in Advent, and the book of Genesis in Septuagesima; but they were only begun, and never read through ..."

And it remained the aim of the Church of England through four centuries to provide its clergy and laity with what the Second Vatican Council was later to call a "ditior  mensa verbi Dei" so that "praestantior pars Scripturarum Sanctarum populo legatur". These words echo those of Cranmer: "all the whole Bible or the greatest part thereof". More Scripture; most of the Bible. That is the good news. The bad news is that Cranmer went about providing for the greatly enlarged diet of Scripture which the Church of England was to have by distributing the books of the Bible according to the Civil Calendar. Thus Genesis started at the beginning of January, and Scripture marched relentlessly on, almost entirely ignoring Lent and Easter (even Good Friday and Easter Day did not have a complete provision proper to the Day). Every year, on March 31, you got the same readings, whether it was Sunday or weekday, fast or festival, Holy Week or Easter Week.

The Catholic Revival in the Church of England led to a recovery, first among the Tractarians and then, eventually, in the church at large, of the old sense of the distinctiveness of the Christian seasons. And so, once again, Genesis began to be read on Septuagesima Sunday, as first ordered by S Gregory the Great on the eve of the Conversion of England a millennium and a half before. This process of restoration started in 1871, when Genesis was restored to the Gesima Sundays. And in 1922 a new lectionary completed that process by rolling out Genesis also onto the weekdays from Septuagesima; and that lectionary remains still legally available for use in the Church of England. It appeared in the Prayer Book which the synodical organs of the Church of England approved in 1928; and in 1961 an improved revision of it was authorised (although that particular authorisation has now lapsed). Various provinces adopted its main lines, even reputedly 'Evangelical' provinces like Ireland and Canada. The Scottish Prayer Book of 1929 did not adopt the English lectionary, but made its own ... with Genesis locked onto Septuagesima. This had become the consensus of informed Anglicanism. With one oddity*, this arrangement survived into the Alternative Service Book, which took the Church of England through to the end of the millennium.

I wonder what has happened to Genesis in the lectionaries which, I presume, are authorised for use in the American and Australian Ordinariates. Does either of them authorise the fine old English Lectionary of 1961?
_____________________________________________________________________________
*The oddity in the ASB was that Sunday Office readings started Genesis on the Ninth Sunday Before Christmas, because of the whimsical invention of a Creation Etcetera Season. This Brilliant Idea never endeared itself to anybody. But ... curiously ... as far as weekdays were concerned, Genesis still began in the ASB on (the Monday after) Septuagesima (renamed the Ninth Sunday Before Easter).
____________________________________________________________________________