16 November 2018

G G Willis and the Roman Canon

Apologies to those of you who get tired of reading me thrusting down your throats the inherited wisdom of the Anglican Catholic tradition; but I can't help being what I am. Today, something written in 1969 by one of our greatest liturgical Anglican scholars, Dr G G Willis. He praises a translation of the Canon which is more or less what the Ordinariate Rite contains ('superb translation ...superlative style ... outstanding ...') and advises its adoption rather than that of a Hyppolytean Canon. "In liturgical quality, both of language and structure, it excels all other eucharistic rites ...the only rite known to Englishmen for nearly a thousand years ... It says what many people want to say at the altar, and its use would draw the Church of England closer to countless other Western Christians, and would therefore have great value in knitting together the splintered unity of Christ's Church. Such a suggestion is worthy of serious consideration. ... the Roman Canon is the best one available, .. falling into three clearly defined stages, the offering of the gifts of bread and wine to God, their consecration by the recital of the dominical Institution, and their offering to God as the Body and Blood of Christ. It is time for the Church of England to forsake inveterate prejudices derived from Reformation Protestantism, and to accomplish something in liturgical revision which would give unity and peace on the basis of an ancient and well-tried form of prayer".

The poignancy of these words, written at just the moment when disaster was about to strike the Roman Rite, surely increases their force. In a paper written two years later in 1971, Willis wrote: "nothing is clearer to the student of liturgical history in the whole of Christendom than that the best and most enduring liturgy arises out of the past experiences of worshippers. This suggests that revision should arise, and should be seen to arise, out of what went before". This is almost a paraphrase of that paragraph in Sacrosanctum Concilium (23) which was so strikingly contradicted when Rome authorised alternative Eucharistic Prayers.

Learn from the Anglican Patrimony; follow the Ordinariates. The Roman Canon is the only Eucharistic Prayer for right-thinking Latin Clergy to use.

15 November 2018

The ROMAN CANON: Fr Hugh Ross Williamson; Dom Gregory Dix

Lovely! The Latin Mass Society has just sent me a copy of their ORDO for 2019. And, on the inside back cover, they show an advert for a book by one of those pre-Conciliar Papalist Anglicans.

In 1955, an Anglican Catholic priest, Hugh Ross Williamson, wrote a The Great Prayer about the Canon of the Mass, the First Eucharistic Prayer. Here is an extract from the Introduction.

"To know the prayer which accompanies the action is to know the Faith. And the Faith is the faith of the whole, undivided Church, before schisms had sundered it. The ... 'Canon of the Mass' ... has not varied since the end of the sixth century. Its final form was given to it by Gregory the Great, the Pope who sent Augustine to England. The Prayer as Augustine prayed it in that first Communion he celebrated in the ruined church of St Martin in Canterbury in 597 is, word for word, the same prayer as has been said this particular morning at every Catholic altar all over the world.
    "Thus the Canon today is not only the prayer of unity within the Church itself. It is the potential point of unity for all those separated from the Church. The sects which have sprung up since the Reformation could all unite in saying the Canon ... There is in the Canon only the teaching of the the primitive Church (for, of course, Gregory the Great only put the final touches to prayers which had slowly developed or hardened into particular forms from apostolic times) and nothing whatever of 'late medieval accretions' against which the Reformers inveighed. The Canon had already been in use, in its present form, for six hundred years before Transubstantiation ' was defined in 1215.
     "In praying the Canon we unite ourselves with all fellow-christians 'throughout all ages, world without end'. In knowing the Canon, we become grounded in the teaching of the primitive Church ...."

I wouldn't have expressed everything in precisely this way myself; I would have acknowledged, for example, the existence of Byzantine Christianity! I print it simply to enable you to lie back and enjoy it!

Williamson had as his spiritual director Dom Gregory Dix, and the first paragraph above is undoubtedly influenced by Dix's words:
"[There is] a certain timelessness about the eucharistic action ... This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which had not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he had landed. Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it."

14 November 2018



2017: Someone called Elton John said not long ago how much he admires Pope Francis. Very commendable! What I found intriguing was that he couldn't leave it there; he couldn't resist the temptation to go on to attack the previous Roman Pontiff ... curiously concentrating on his clothes: about which the speaker observed that even he himself would not wear such things in Las Vegas. (I wonder why the interviewer didn't ask him exactly where he, the aforementioned Elton, would wear a mitre and a pallium. Why does a certain sort of interviewer decline to ask a certain sort of interviewee certain sorts of questions?) And indeed, according to an undergraduate newspaper here, the Crooner referred to Benedict XVI as an a*s*h*l*. The national press were, I think, too coy to include this sweet little detail. 'Sir Elton' is a national treasure, and such clear evidence of his spite might damage the image!

Why do people still carry on about Pope Benedict, and why with such visceral hatred?

I print below something that I wrote in 2015, with its original thread. But I cannot refrain from  first inserting here a paragraph from a book I've only just looked at, which John Allen published in 2000 as Cardinal Ratzinger: the Vatican's enforcer of the Faith, and reissued in 2005 as Pope Benedict XVI:
"This polarisation is reflected in ... the frequent plays on the cardinal's name in progressive Catholic circles (Rat-zinger' being the most obvious). The scorn sometimes shades off into rage. One of the more lurid stories that broke in the Catholic world in late 1999, for example, concerned a Web site for gay priests and religious that had been hacked into by a right-wing group. The hackers collected emails and pictures from the site and made them available to the wider world. The images were graphic indeed, but the emails were remarkable less for their sexual content, which ranged from tender to sophomoric, than for the vitriol that sluiced through them about Ratzinger. The clergy and, in one case, a South African auxiliary bishop, called Ratzinger a 'Nazi in Rome' and 'Der Furher's [sic] Oberst Ratzinger'. There were joking references to his need for sex, even to the possibility of killing him. It was obvious that Ratzinger had become the focus for the anger these men felt about the church."

So I'm not the only person to have noticed this unwholesome phenomenon. (Allen, I remind you, wrote his book to criticise Ratzinger.) Readers will recall that the 'Mickensgate' emails of 2013 dwelt on the joyful possibility of Pope emeritus Benedict's death.

But satis superque. So here follow my original 2015 words.                   


Why do they still hate Ratzinger?

I may have got this wrong, because in such matters one can only be anecdotal. But I think a particular constituency, just one among a number of others, is that of ideological homosexual extremists. Why do they detest him? Apparently he is the symbol of 'homophobia'. Ratzinger's views on homosexuality were, surely, no more 'definite' than those of S John Paul II. But it was Ratzinger who seemed to attract their venom. They loathed him because they apparently saw him as the enemy of their campaigns; and at the same time they tried to convince themselves that he was himself one of themselves, so that, by a paradox of weird inversion, they could hate him all the more.

Why? Here's my hypothesis. A noisy minority of homosexuals seem to need comfort and reassurance and can only get it by convincing themselves and anybody who will listen to them that pretty well everybody else is also homosexual. Particularly anyone who doesn't go along with their own narrative and world view. So: either you are openly homosexual; or, if you aren't, that simply proves how hypocritical you are to conceal your condition! Either way, GOTCHA!!

During the last pontificate, some fool journalists fell for the daft claim that Pope Benedict's choice of garments proved him to be 'gay'. Anybody who was not historically illiterate could see through that; both his liturgical and his non-liturgical choices ... Roman chasubles; red slippers ... were clearly archaisms designed to make the point that he was the successor not only of the post-Conciliar popes but also of those who had occupied the Chair of S Peter before Vatican II. But the Elton Johns of this world may not have primed themselves carefully on the Hermeneutic of Continuity. Nor do such people have an instinctive reticence when it comes to shouting their mouths off with regard to things about which they know nothing.

And, time and time again, we had to listen (how sophisticated and witty some of these people like to think they are!) to loud pronunciations of his secretary's name as "GAY ...... org", and to other pieces of laboured and immature innuendo so similar to the ways in which playground bullies have always harried their victims.

There was indeed something immensely nasty going on there.

Perhaps the exaggerated enthusiam some people now have for Papa Bergoglio, and the violence with which some of them react to any criticism of Bergoglio, are not unconnected with this surviving Ratzingerphobia.

13 November 2018

Double Standards

During the last pontificate, there was an insistent and thoroughly nasty campaign to smear Pope Benedict, which came to a not inconsiderable extent from the ferocious ideologues of homosexualism. Enraged perhaps by some of his magisterial teaching when he was Prefect of the CDF, they alleged that he was himself a homosexual; that he sometimes went to his old flat and spent the night there with Mgr Gaenswein. This was all emphasised by the refusal ever to call the Monsignor by his name, but always GAY-org. I heard this 'joke' so often that my original irritation soon gave way to pure boredom. The pope's archaising sartorial preferences were also dragged into the slander by those  too illiterate to understand the theological point he was making: continuity in the papal office; an important point to be made in countering narratives of 'rupture'.

His funeral was eagerly awaited as a future treat. Even the Tablet came to realise that it had to sack one of its writers.

During this pontificate, despite PF's apparent willingness to protect and advance the Lavender Mafia, no similar smears seem to have travelled in his direction. Not so much as a murmur.

Nor should they. I have never heard the tiniest scrap of evidence upon which such a libel could rest. Nor do my own hunches suggest to me any such possibility.

But the smears against Benedict XVI were just as scandalously outrageous and patently untrue.

I think the obvious conclusion is that, nasty as some Traddies may sometimes be, they are not within light years of the degree of nastiness to be found in the currently ascendant faction.

12 November 2018

Book reviews ...

... are a great temptation, I find, to those of us who like to appear knowledgeable without actually ... er ... reading ... all these wretched new boks.

Apparently the late Stephen Hawking has bequeathed to his admirers some Postumous Papers, in which, so the Sunday Times informs us, he foresees that we we shall successfully transform ourselves into posthuman, inorganic beings. Creating immortal digital surrogates is an 'ambitious dream' but 'may not be as far fetched an idea as it sounds'.

Poor old thing. But, simultaneously, a rather more elegant thinker and writer, the Astromer Royal Lord Rees, has come up with similar stuff. He also thinks that a bio-hacked super-race is inevitable; that we will transcend our biological bodies and go electronic.

Antidotes to such ideas are most easily found in the theological Scifi trilogy of C S Lewis. In Perelandra he advances the attractive hypothesis that since, in the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Glorious and undivided Trinity took our nature upon him, it is that nature which henceforth be assumed by the hnau, animalia rationabilia.

And, in That Hideous Strength he sets before us baddies who have become so fastidious and delicati that they seek the ultimate dissolution between mind and matter. "In us organic life has produced Mind. It has done its work ... after that we want no more of it ... learn to make our brains live with less snd less body: learn to build our bodies directly with chemicals ... a great race ... a pure race ... they have cleaned their world, broken free (almost) from the organic ...they do not need to be born and breed and die; only their common people, their canaglia do that. The Masters live on. They retain their intelligence: they can keep it artificially alive after the organic body has been dispensed with - a miracle of applied biochemistry ... they do not need organic food ... they are almost free of Nature, attached to her only by the thinnest, finest cord ..."

But the climax and conclusion of Lewis's story reveals that, from page one, it has really all been a sort of prothalamium, about flesh and the fleshly love of creatures themselves begotten in a bed.

It is, surely, the fundamental anthropological dogma of Christianity that flesh is, in itself, good. Against the recurrent seductions of Manichees and Docetists and Gnostics and Cathars, we have maintained that what God wonderfully created (condidisti) and himself assumed and yet more wondefully remade (reformasti), is good and is destined for everlasting life. The old heresies were but Hellenistic attempts to corrupt the sound Jewish anthropological and theological bedrock of God and Creation; and the relationships and the distances between this two. The silly dreams of some modern physicists or technocrats are no better.

As the old fifth century office hymn for the Ascension so succinctly put it, culpat caro, purgat caro, regnat Deus Dei caro. [ flesh {of Adam} sins, flesh {of God Incarnate} cleanses, God reigns, the flesh of God {reigns}].

It makes one cynical, how old errors keep raising their ugly heads every few centuries.

11 November 2018

What are Synods for? Help from Newman.

I trust that readers will recall the emphasis laid by Blessed John Henry Newman on the essentially negative function of the Papal Ministry. " ... the Church of Rome ... has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora, or break in the development of doctrine ... such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift."

This, of course, was also affirmed by Vatican I in its lapidary assertion that the Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of S Peter so that they could promote new doctrines, but to help them to defend and teach what had been handed down through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith.

In the first millennium, a pope might associate with himself a Synod of those bishops who happened to be in Rome. We should expect this to be in discharge of the Ministry of resisting error which is the Pope's essential function.

So it was that in 679-680, an Anglo-Saxon bishop called Wilfrid who found himself in Rome on hs own business, was included in a synod of 125 bishops, gathered to act collegially with Pope Agatho in condemnation of the Monothelite heresy. (S Agatho, by the way, was one of those popes who, in the period after the heretic-pope Honorius I, had to try clear up the mess bequeathed by that disastrous pontificate. This sanitary job, incidentally, took some ten pontificates to complete. Nasty business. Smelly work.)

S Wilfrid was invited to state his own faith on the controverted points, not as an individual, but on behalf of the "provincia sive insula de qua venerat". This he did, and the Gesta of the Synod duly recorded that "placed with the other 125 fellow-bishops in Synod in the Seat of Judgement, and on behalf of the whole Northern part of Brittain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles, the Brittons, the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith and conferred upon it the authority of his signature (cum subscriptione sua corroboravit)."

The Ecclesiology of this is very plain, and is identical with the anti-heretical teaching of S Irenaeus in the second century: the Catholic Faith is 'corroborated' by the agreement of a significant body of bishops, acting in union with the Successor of S Peter, and witnessing to the faith handed down in all their own orthodox particular Churches.

To quote Newman again, "the Church of Rome possessed no great mind in the whole period of persecution. Afterwards, for a long while it has not a single doctor to show; St Leo, its first, is the teacher of one point of doctrine; St Gregory, who stands at the very extremity of the first age of the Church, has no place in dogma or philosophy."

Exactly. Synods ... and popes ... do not have the munus of brilliantly 'developing' Faith or Morals so that what this decade desires to teach will (to the eyes of poor ordinary Christians) look like the diametrical opposite of what was taught a decade previously. 

10 November 2018


Again, I am going to be having... I hope ... a quiet ten days. Hopefully, a blogpost will be published every day, but I shall not be reviewing comments (they will have to await my re-emergence) or, indeed, emails.

You wouldn't believe how refreshing it is to get away from modern communications!

Lupi Rapaces

The first antiphon which, if we serve a Church or diocese with S Martin as its Patron, we will say or sing tomorrow at Lauds for S Martin of Tours, shows his disciples asking him not to desert them because Rapacious Wolves will invade his flock. (I wonder why that antiphon went missing from the Liturgia Horarum.)

Rapacious Wolves are always around. Look at (via a Concordance) the New Testament. Look at (via its index) what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Scandal and those who cause it. (A lady wolf was involved in the very Foundation of Rome, and the Romans sometimes referred to Professional Ladies as Wolfesses.)

Wolves were around at the very beginning of the Pontificate of our beloved late Holy Father Benedict XVI. In the homily at his inauguration, he asked us to pray for him "that I may not flee for fear of the wolves".

I believe S Thomas talks somewhere about Wolves being demons; or tyrants; or heresiarchs. Is it true that the Patron of the Diocese of St Gallen is a St Lupus, or did my ungoverned sense of fantasy just make that up?

Englishmen will recollect a diverting frivolity in rebus lupinis. We once had a politician called Sir Geoffrey Howe; quiet and very unnasty. So much so that his despisers said that being attacked by him was "like being savaged by a dead sheep". Eventually, even he discovered that he could take no more of Mrs Thatcher, and decided to resign. People ... and not least Mrs T ... assumed that his resignation speech would be characteristically anodyne. Not so. The House of Commons became quiet enough for that proverbially cadent pin to be heard as he tore savagely into her personality and her politics ... but still in the same mildest tones.

Not long after, he was ennobled, and went, as one does, to Queen Victoria Street to consult the Heralds about a Coat of Arms. In consultation with them he settled upon his design, which was granted. The Crest (the Crest of a Coat of Arms is the bit on top of the helmet which itself rests above the shield) which he received was ... a Wolf courant imperfectly concealed within a rather tatty sheepskin. I bet you Americans wish you had a House of Commons, a House of Lords, and a College of Heralds.

Wolves are always around; they're nothing new in the life of the Church. Perhaps some keen young Catholic academic would like to write a doctoral dissertation De Lupitate. She could bring her narrative right down to the present day.

I hope her sleep will not be disturbed by the howls.

9 November 2018


The disquiet about broad hints of Internet Censorship of Catholic writers which emerged from the 'Synod' is only just dying down, and now the admirable Fr Zuhlsdorf and other usually reliable sources have reported that there are two congruous stories circulating about the kindly and paternal interest which Bergoglian Rome is taking in two particular bishops.

(1) Cardinal Burke. The rumour apparently is that the Nuncio has told American Bishops not to invite Cardinal Burke to their dioceses and, if he turns up, not to attend events which he addresses.

Cardinals are entitled to go anywhere without the permission of local Ordinaries; in fact, Cardinal Burke, with his punctilious courtesy, always informs Ordinaries when he plans to visit their dioceses.

So no-one can actually keep him out. But you know how the world works. Timorous bishops who don't want a black mark against their name will put pressure on clergy and organisations within their jurisdictions not to invite him. And because the Inferior Clergy too can be timorous and might not want to  ... er ... get a black mark against their names, they will think twice ... thrice? ... multiplicius? before getting involved. You might call it Drip Down Malevolence.

Perhaps PF should, before sacking cardinals, give some thought as to how a jobless Eminence is likely to spend his time.

(2) Bishop Schneider has been made aware that 'Rome' takes an interest in how many days he spends outside his diocese. Rumours about this have in fact been circulating for some weeks. But, so they say, this has been done orally so as to leave no paper trail ... see (a) below.

                                                         SO WHAT?

 I find it difficult to keep my temper and to moderate my language as I write about all this. So I suppose the first point to be made is that much of it is rumour. It would be uncharitable to assume, without solid evidence, the certain truth of stories which, if true, would redound so very profoundly to the discredit of those involved. That being said ...

(a) This business supplies a remarkably exact example of what I wrote only last Monday about how the Bergoglian Church works (vide my piece about the sacking of Bishop Holley).
(b) FEAR. The Bergoglian regime has no scruples about making FEAR its main instrument of control, not only in Urbe but throughout the Catholic world. This corresponds closely with what workers in the Curia have been reporting for some years now. What an amazingly nasty ...
(c) THREATS. Bishops are supposed to be Successors of the Apostles, addressed by popes since time immemorial as Venerable Brethren. It is unbecoming that they should be informed, like naughty little schoolboys, which of their fellow bishops they should discourage from speaking in their dioceses, and whom they should themselves not go and hear.  ("Well, Bloggs minor, you would be wise to give some thought as to what your School File might record about the sort of company you kept while you were here ...")
(d) INTIMIDATION. The apparent use of Nuncios as hostile spies and as agents of intimidation is deplorable. Or do I mean Stalinist? Should we address them as Comrade Commissar?

8 November 2018

The pure wind of the ages ... Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Perhaps the most important teaching of our great Anglican Doctor C S Lewis was his insistence on the importance of reading Old Books. I believe he once recommended never reading a new book until one had read two old ones. He emphasised that an Old Book is not always right; but the characteristic errors of one age are rarely the same as those of another age. We read Old Books not because we are confident that their oldness renders them infallible, but because we know that there is a fair chance that they might offer us an antidote to the errors of our own age.

I am going to commend to you Meditations for each day, by Antonio Cardinal Bacci, written in Italian in 1959 by that great Latinist; translated into English in 1965; reprinted in 2018 by Arouca Press. ISBN 978-1-9994729-0-0. Yes, the Bacci who with Cardinal Ottaviani signed the 'Intervention'.

The very thought of little books offering a daily meditation might very naturally make you groan and beg God "Not another one". But Bacci's Meditations is not a little book and it is a book for grown-ups. It is jam-packed full of real red meat.

Just one example of where this book can lead you. On January 20, the heading is "The Pope". That day's meditation is red meat indeed. "To argue or murmur against the Pope is to argue or murmur against Jesus Himself". Gracious ... does that apply to the current pontificate? The Editor apparently thinks ("... these words can be easily misunderstood ...") that it needs qualification, since a quotation is provided at the foot of the page, from a manual of Dogmatic Theology published in 1958, which sets the matter in a doctrinal context.

Because, to get the benefit from Old Books, you do have to read them with a lively critical attention. When Bacci wrote, the occupant of the Roman See expressed himself comparatively rarely and with careful, even paranoid, circumspection. A draft document would have made its way through the many revising hands of competent theologians with pencils carefully trained to make corrections or suggestions. Whatever finally emerged with the pope's name attached to it came (at least, was intended to come) from the Magisterium of the Successor of S Peter. It was a commonplace that even the Pope was obliged to use human means (media humana) in his protected and guaranteed ministry.

One of the mistakes of Pope Benedict was to chat with journalists on airliners. But this pontificate, as we all know, has thrown all and any caution to the winds. It is not easy to treat the lightest word of a pope as the words of our Redeemer if that pope is quite likely to lose his temper at the drop of a hat and call you a shit-eater. And when competent people tell you that even his more formal writings are either heretical or tend towards heresy. When one of his friends assures you that this pope is gloriously free of the constraints of both Scripture and Tradition. Free!!!

I have often reminded readers of Blessed John Henry Newman's terminology about the papacy and the episcopacy (the 'Ecclesia docens') during the Arian Crisis. He wrote of a "suspense" in the function of the Magisterium.

That "suspense" did not last much more than half a century. But it was as terribly real as the ordeal through which we are living.

We must pray for the day when the words of Cardinal Bacci are again practical advice for each of the Faithful; when this pontiff or a successor again actually exercises his Petrine Office; when we will be able to return to and embrace the advice of Bacci: "His dignity and authority, then, are almost divine. Let us bow humbly before such greatness, Let us promise to obety the Pope as we would Christ ..."

7 November 2018

Armistice Day; Remembrance Sunday

This year, of course, the two commemorations coincide; the nearest Sunday to November 11 is November 11!

According to the LMS ORDO, there is provision on Remembrance Sunday, in England and Wales, for one Requiem to be said or sung.

Rubricarius once tried to find the provision for this in Roman legislative texts. He drew a blank.

I possess a Brentwood Diocesan Calendar of 1958; and a (punctiliously accurate) Anglo-Papalist ORDO of 1969. Neither of these has any hint of any such observance.

The Saint Lawrence Press ORDO annually records such a permission on November 11, for Armistice Day, citing the SCR, 28 May 1931. But nothing for Remembrance Sunday.

I set aside the possibility that the Remembrance Sunday tradition is a confusion of the November 11 provision, or of Benedict XV's arrangements for November 2.

My suspicion is that the provision may have been a legislative initiative of the CBCEW. But when??

6 November 2018


Visual 'media' have their interests.

On October 29, Dr Kirk (GKIRKUK) publised a photograph of PF surrounded by young people ... all so spontaneous ... so happy ...


I would say, No; the picture is carefully posed almost as if by that master of disegna, Poussin. Notice how, in the bottom of the picture, the young people are linked together by one youth's arm reaching out to another youth's arm ... ditto, two girls. Observe how the the girl with the regular features on PF's left is leaning in towards his manly chest, balanced by the bearded youth [complementarity!!] to PF's right, nuzzling his shoulder. Calculate ... but No; you will find it diverting to work it all out yourself.

In the front row, there is the character Frasier from the old American sitcom Cheers. I bet he demanded a fat fee.

In its own way, all this is reminiscent of the care Pius XII took with his image. When he was photographed with a visiting bishop, the poor bishop had to stand rather uncomfortably looking at the camera; but the gracious pontiff is looking at a different undefined point which emphasises his dignity and otherwordliness. Then there are the Canary pictures ... Pacelli as another ... now I come to think of it ... another S Francis. It comes as no surprise to learn that Pius XII went to great pains with studio photographers to identify and refine those postures which would show him to best effect.

Strange that Benedict XVI seemed not to need all this self-conscious self-promotion.

After the Synod, a video was made showing Youff and Cardinals, categories which so rarely seem to overlap, overlapping on the dance floor. At one point, we see, just for a second, a figure who looks to me uncannily like our own, our very own, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. But he is not dancing. He is doing exactly what I would have done if I had had the misfortune to find myself in such embarrassing company: he is sitting on a chair and languidly clapping and wondering how soon he can decently get away from it all.

I wonder (so does Dr Kirk) if Vincent's mind has shifted a little. Hitherto, he has been an apparently unreserved Bergoglian. He has adhered to documents suggesting identity between the Holy Ghost and the every word and doing of PF. Speculation inevitably arose that he hoped for preferment ... perhaps to be made Prefect of the new Dicastery for the Family.

Not a sausage. Not even an inflated baloon in his Christmas stocking.

Could this explain why, according to reports, his Eminence has now distanced himself from some of PF's more sinister projects? I have particularly in mind PF's rather obvious plot to manipulate and use synods so as to create new procedures for casting a spuriously Magisterial cloak over the more dodgy of his pet policies.

Could it be that Cardinal Vincent is ... er ... positioning himself with a eye to the next conclave? Just a thought ...

5 November 2018

Due Process and Natural Justice and Facing People

It is not easy to know what to make of the precipitous removal by PF of an American bishop called Holley.

For nearly two millennia, Roman pontiffs have intervened to remove dysfunctional bishops. This was happening even before the Catholic Church had such a thing as Canon Law. And one can understand why, given the present atmosphere, it might be necessary for a Universal Primacy to act quickly in an emergency. And readers will remember the many depositions by Pope Hildebrand of simoniacal bishops. So, on balance, I think I feel that the presumption must tilt in favour of the Holy See. But ...

But the situation is profoundly unsatisfactory. In CATHOLIC ECCLESIOLOGY, the main ministerial realities are, firstly, the Petrine See, the universal source and instrument of Unity, which presides over the agape of the Universal Church. And, secondly, the local Bishop, Successor of the Apostles, is the minister who presides over the unity and orthodoxy of his local Church which is, let us never forget, the Catholic Church in that place. As Leo XIII taught, and Vatican II repeated, diocesan bishops are not mere Vicars of the Pope, like the regional managers of a supermarket chain. The deposition of bishops ought to be a matter of enormous rarity, as being a very unusual (if occasionally unavoidable) disruption of the natural order and sacramental structure of Christ's Church Militant.

We do now have Canon Law; and it is difficult to understand why such removals should not be done with a due process, rather than by means of 'phone calls to and from Nuncios. It is reported that Bishop Holley was asked to resign so that, in accordance with Canon 185, he could be granted the title emeritus. This suggests that he was not suspected of an ecclesiastical offence.

And our world is one in which NATURAL JUSTICE is deemed proper. I must declare an interest here. I became even more convinced of this when I was told, the day before being received into Full Communion, that two English Catholic bishops had refused to give me a positive votum and that my scheduled admission to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate had therefore been put on hold. Verbally, it was made clear to me that this related to my preference for the Vetus Ordo; but I was never given any formal explanations in writing or a meeting with those concerned so that they could tell me face to face what the problem was and hear my own account of myself.

It was a very unpleasant business and I do not wish to relive it. My point is that the Christ's Church should be a transparent place in which affairs are transacted in visibly just ways.

It should never be possible for somebody to feel, or other people to suspect, that personal prejudice, individual liturgical preferences, or the operation of old-boy networks, were operating to the disadvantage of any laic or cleric or bishop.

Otherwise, we have that 'Arbitrary Power' which we Anglo-Saxons have for centuries claimed to mistrust.

Finally: the habitual REFUSAL BY PF TO MEET PERSONALLY AND PHYSICALLY bishops whom he is deposing is arguably unChristian as well as unmanly; not to say, plain cowardly. He may be a dab hand at ladling repetitive abuse down public microphones, but he is very shy about seeing people ... even four of his Cardinals when they asked for an audience! This is not one of the least of the scandals of this pontificate. For me personally, it was his treatment of the late Bishop Livieres at the beginning of this pontificate which first made me seriously uneasy about what sort of person had obtained possession of the Roman See.

Readers will remember the adamant refusal in audientia by Archbishop Errington to resign when Pius IX asked for his resignation, couching this as a request for a personal favour. A century and a half later, we are, apparently, suffering a more tyrannical and arbitrary regime than ever has been attributed to Pio Nono.

4 November 2018


"Before He died, Christ consigned the whole meaning of His sacrificial death to an Action. He took bread and broke it, and said 'This is my Body'. He took the cup and said 'This is the New Covenant in my Blood'. He gave to that Act the character of a sign - an effective sign. 'As often as ye eat this Bread and drink this Cup ye do proclaim the Lord's death till he come'.

" I only have time to insist on the enormous importance, in that connection, of bearing in mind the New Testament doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ; a doctrine which Protestantism from the beginning has virtually denied. It took up the position that first the individual was 'justified' and then he joined the church. That is not New Testament doctrine. It is not the Catholic doctrine. Christ cannot be separated from His Church. Christ and the Church are one thing. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, Baptism actually makes us part of Christ, and Confirmation is the imparting of the Spirit to His members. That is a consequence of Baptism, and in the Primitive Church Confirmation immediately followed Baptism.

"It seems to me strange that the doctrine of the Church is in very great danger of being lost sight of in questions of reunion. You and I believe that the Sacrifice of Christ is not renewed but extended in the Church's Sacrifice in the Eucharist. Because the Church is one with Him, its members rightly take upon their lips the words which were so often upon His lips: 'Our Father'. His prayer is the Church's prayer; His mission is her mission; His action is the Church's action - not associated with Him, but one action. He lives and reigns in the Church, which is His Body. Death is His entrance into glory; His death our entrance to God - our perfect sacrifice, proclaimed as such in every Eucharist."

3 November 2018


Traddies ... rightly ... complain that 'mainstrtream' Catholics have usually never been taught about Transsubstantiation.

The poor things are even less likely to have been told about the Mass as a ... er ... the Sacrifice. Once a well-meaning proof-reader corrected, in a ms of mine, "Sacrifice" to "Sacrament", convinced that I had simply made a typo!

Here is Dom Gregory Dix.

"For the primitive Church the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass was of primary importance. Today Church-people make the Sacrifice to depend on the Sacrament. The Primitive Church made the Sacrament to depend on the Sacrifice. I am speaking of something which is the essence of all religion - the attempt of the creature to achieve union with the creator, to leap the chasm between God and man; to ascend above its derived creaturely being to the self-existent being of God Himself. It must contain two things: (1) the attempt to leave behind the status of being a creature; and (2) the attempt to ascend from its own natural being and rise to God.

"Here we meet with tragedy. Man, being a sinner, cannot make that leap. That supreme act of religion is for him impossible. Death is the penalty which God has imposed on sinners. The acceptance of death is the supremely moral act of human existence. We have sinned but accepted the consequence of our sin. That is one half - the negative side of the act of religion. But obviously, if there is to be sacrifice, it cannot be done by sinful people as an act of suicide.

" It is here that we have the New Testament doctrine of our Saviour as the Second Adam. He is very Man - He accepted death, sinless though he was, as the penalty of sin. His death is the representative act of death of all mankind, as Head of the human race. As S Paul said, 'To recapitulate in Christ all things'. His death is His entrance into the glory of God. So that His death has the full character of Sacrifice; and it is a representative act on behalf of all mankind. It is the Sacrifice, par excellence."

Delivered to the CBS June 3 1947 and summarised in the CBS Newsletter.To be continued.

2 November 2018

Antisemitisms in the Novus Ordo

All Saints; and that marvellous Reading from the Apocalypse [Chapter 7] of S John the Divine. Except that ...

 ... you have to go to the Old Mass if you want to hear it unbowdlerised. If you go to Hannibal Bugnini's Mass on All Saints' Day, you will find that the superb drum-roll of the Twelve Tribes of the people of Israel, each tribe mentioned by name with the reassurance that their Twelve Thousand will be, are being, have been, sealed ... is missed out [verses 5-8]. Indeed, if you are unwise enough to worship only ever according the corrupted liturgy of the 1960s, you will never hear these verses ... not even on a weekday. You will never hear the emphatic thump ... thump ... thump as the importance of the People of the Twelve Tribes is maintained. Often, in the decatholicised rites of the 1960s and 1970s, we are offered a shorter and a longer version of a reading; but here, not even that choice is permitted.

Different as the two books are, there is a striking identity of teaching between the Apocalypse and S Paul's Epistle to the Romans. In both you find the eschatological conviction that both Jew and Gentile, on the Day, will be redeemed. In both you will hear the biblical theme of the Faithful Remnant, reminding us of the importance of those Jews who have received the Gospel or will do so. They are a living, visible guarantee that God is faithful; that what he promises, he will fulfill.

Even if one does not share a naive conviction that 'Liturgical Reform' implies returning to a tabula rasa and then starting all over again, one can see why the revisers of the 1960s decided to introduce Romans, which is not much heard in the Old Mass, to the Catholic Sunday congregation (once every three years). But this is pretty pointless if crucial doctrines are deliberately excised ... such as the Faithful Remnant (11:5) and the Deliverance of Israel (11:25-28).

There are times when More is Less.

Not, I suppose, that all this matters. My impression of the preaching in the Mainstream Church is that very few clergy have or communicate any interest in Scripture. The readings are got, unenthusiastically, out of the way.  One never senses that sudden stir as if of a congregation that has just heard something startling.

They might as well be read in Latin or Swahili.

1 November 2018


The much-admired Dr Peter Kwasniewski was in Oxford on Friday evening to give a lecture at the Church of SS Gregory and Augustine; he spoke with crisp and elegant decision about the dogmatic teaching of the Canon of the Mass. But that makes his lecture sound pompously dry. It was anything but. Don't miss the opportunity to go and hear him, if the chance presents itself to you during his lecture tour of Blighty. And buy the book!

The lecture was preceded by a High Mass. As the incense rose in generously thick clouds above the oblata at the Offertory, my mind wandered ... I'm afraid ... but I had said my own Mass, of course, earlier in the day, and in such circumstances I don't feel the same sort of necessity to discipline my distractions. And yesterday, on All Hallows' Day, images of the Whole Company of Heaven dimly seen through excessive clouds of incense seemed absolutely on message.

Evening Incense ... sicut incensum in conspectu tuo ... it ought to be commoner in our churches than it is. Long before Evening Masses became popular, we had Vespers, and the smoke rose above the Altar as we sang Mary's Song. And two millennia ago, incense rose in the Temple at Jerusalem from the Golden Altar by the curtain shielding the Holy of Holies.

I bet they were generous with it. Not spoonfulls, but shovels full. I picture sacks of the stuff on creaking wagons drawn by oxen up the Temple Hill. Did our ancestors look knowingly on as the wheels groaned on the cobbles?

How suitable, during Solemn Vespers, that incense accompanies the Canticle of the Daughter of Sion.

How appropriate, as we remember All Souls, that we should think of the great pillar of sacrificial smoke that rose from the Temple Mount, as our Fathers prayed for all the People, for all their kin.