17 January 2019

From Fraenkel to Finnis

When I was an undergraduate, the Faculty of Litterae Humaniores in this University was still enjoying the glorious aftermath of the arrival, in the 1930s, of the flower of European Classical scholarsip from the great German universities. Not least, of Edward Fraenkel, still occupying the Corpus Chair of Latin when I came up in 1960.

He, like most of his fellow refugees, was a Jew. Jews were not much welcomed in the universities of Hitlerite Germany. Oxford, to her credit, welcomed them with enthusiasm. (And how it benefitted!)

Forward to 2019. The young people ... correction: a few of them ... are now trying to get rid of one of modern Oxford's most distinguished scholars: John Finnis, Fellow of University College, one of modern Oxford's main claims to fame and respect throughout the world of academic Jurisprudence.

Professor Finnis is also a Catholic who is articulate in his expression of the Teaching of the Church.

Of course, these dim youths and youthesses will not be successful in their campaign of intimidation. (Although it might have been amusing to see the University being sued in the courts by one of her own best known jurists.)

But I think we all know, or have heard of, less well-known academics in less well-known institutions who have been deprived of their livelihoods because of their Catholicism or even, may God help us all, their unenlightened pronouns.

They came for the Jews, but I said nothing because I was not a Jew ... ... ... lastly, they came for me ...

They are indeed "coming for us" now.

[That, incidentally, is why I would defend the rights of Jews to eat according to inherited traditions. S Paul agrees with me.]

16 January 2019

Extraordinary Form ORDO, and Ordinariate directions, for the Chair of Unity Octave

Unity Week starts on Thursday January 18 and ends on January 25.

                                              EXTRAORDINARY FORM

Before the 1960s, January 18 was the Feast of the Chair of S Peter at Rome (while February  22 celebrated his Chair, that is to say, his episcopate, in Antioch).

In the Good Old Days, the Wantage Sisters ... who now comprise our Ordinariate Sisters in Birmingham, the praying heart of the Ordinariate, as our Ordinary puts it ... used to publish an annual ORDO  "... in strict accordance with the Use of the Western Church". This was widely used both in Anglo-Papalist churches and in Anglo-Catholic churches generally. The latest one I possess is 1969. Before January 18, the following information is printed:

                                               CHURCH UNITY OCTAVE BEGINS

Ad lib, during the Octave: one 2cl Vot M For the Unity of the Church. Cr (on Sunday only), Common Pref (pref Trin on Sunday). P[urple]

This will undoubtedly have been lifted from what was authorised for Roman Catholics in England, Scotland, and Wales on the very eve of the liturgical alterations of the late 1960s. What it means is that it is lawful to say daily one Mass of the Votive for Christian Unity (Ad tollendum Schisma if your Missal, like mine, is pre-1962; but the texts are the same in the 1962 Missal) on the Sunday within the Octave (even if it be Septuagesima); and also on each of the weekdays, because they are all (even the Conversion of S Paul) days occupied by III class feasts and so admit Second Class Votives. No Gloria, of course.

My own suggestion would be to start the Octave with a (perfectly legal) Votive Mass of the Chair of S Peter on January 18 (Mass as on February 22 except that the Alleluia is said) and to conclude with the Mass for S Paul on January 25. It was the idea of linking up the two Apostles which gave rise to the Octave.

Alleluia for the Chair of S Peter: Alleluia, alleluia. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Alleluia.

I have thought it worth while providing this information because I do not think it is in the available Extraordinary Form ORDOs in English or French.

                                                       ORDINARIATE MISSAL

The same Mass for Unity, of course, is provided for use in Liturgical English in the Ordinariates. The rubrics make clear that it can be said on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, All Souls, Ash Wednesday, Ember Days, Rogation Days, weekdays of Holy Week and of the Easter and Pentecost Octaves. Such votives ARE allowed BUT ONLY FOR "a real necessity or pastoral advantage" on Obligatory Memorials and the weekdays of Advent, Christmastide, Lent, and Eastertide. Pretty permissive, eh?

15 January 2019

Episcopal Resignation (2)

In the current period of crisis within the Church Militant, bishops and religious superiors commonly explain that they are unwilling to put their heads above the parapet and to criticise the current management of the Latin Church because they have, they feel, a moral obligation to stay where they are so as to to protect their subjects. It would be mere self indulgence to let off their own steam when others would have to do the suffering.

It is easy for those of you who, like me, who have no such obligation, to be critical.

But what about the position when a bishop is just coming up to the age of seventy five?

How do things stand then? If he speaks out, then, before breakfast on the morning of his birthday his resignation will indeed have been accepted. But, well, his card was probably marked anyway, and his resignation would pretty certainly have been accepted without a great deal of delay. The delatores would have done their job!

So why should he not be frank?

Why should he not be frank and decline to submit his resignation? [vide the previous section of this piece, posted a couple of days ago.]

Think of the scenes of mayhem and panic from the top to the bottom of the marbled halls, in the crowded bars and jacuzzis, of the Domus Sanctae Marthae!

Of course, it will not be difficult for Roman functionaries to devise some canonical way of hoofing him out. That handsome, youthful Cardinal Coco will know exactly how to do it!

There's nothing worse, after all, than Naked Tyranny!!

But ... there is something worse: covert tyranny! Bullies fixing things behind the scenes.

My Lord, there are worse things to do than to go out in a cloud of glory ... your Lordship is in good health ... and in good voice ... and articulate ... your Lordship could hit the headlines with a Vigano-style Testimony!!!

My Lord ... you know it makes sense.

Go for it!

14 January 2019

Foundation of the Ordinariates!!

January 15, 2011, the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham was erected and Mgr Keith Newton was appointed Ordinary. We invite all our friends to join in our thanksgivings and supplications!!

Suggested Extraordinary Form ORDO entry, providing for due commemoration on tomorrow's anniversary:
Cras in Ordinariatu: secunda oratio Deus omnium fidelium pastor et rector (cum orationibus Super Oblata et Post Communionem) additur sub una conclusione cum orationibus diei in omnibus Missis ob inaugurationem Reverendissimi Keith Newton Ordinarii Protonotarii Apostolici Episcopi emeriti Rutupiensis.

Within the Collect etc., perhaps the simplest text would be ... pastorem ecclesiae huic praeesse voluisti ... . Or, if you must, ... pastorem Ordinariatui Beatae Mariae de Walsingham praeesse voluisti ... .

I have heard it suggested that Silvester is the Latin for Keith. Moi, in the Te igitur I always just say antistite nostro Keith.

13 January 2019

Episcopal Resignation (1)

It is commonly thought, and asserted in the Meejah, that a Bishop is obliged to submit his resignation when he has completed his seventy fifth year of age.

This is not quite accurate.

What Canon 401 (1) requires is that the Bishop rogatur [is asked] ut renuntiationem ab officio exhibeat Summo Pontifici. This is based upon Christus Dominus [21] of Vatican II, which is vaguer; without mentioning any particular age, it merely says that when the bishop has become less capable of fulfilling his duties properly because of age or some other serious reason, he is asked to offer his resignation.

Christus Dominus does put an adverb before rogatur: enixe [earmestly].

Canon 401divides the requirement into two halves: (1) the Bishop who has reached his 75th birthday is asked to submit his resignation; (2) the bishop who is ill and weak or has another gravem causam is earnestly asked to submit his resignation.

You are probably wondering ... no; the 1917 Code has no comparable provisions.


Canon 401 makes the request stronger if the bishop is old, ill, or weak, than it is if he has merely reached a specific age. rogatur, without the enixe, is not a particularly powerful word. English translations of the Conciliar documents and of the Code of Canon Law usually translate it as requested.

Before the Council, most bishops, like the popes, died of old age in possesssion of their sees (having been given a coadjutor if they had become particularly frail). This would respond to the old conviction that a bishop was wedded to his Church and would be an adulterer if he were translated to another See. The twentieth century provisions forget all this and treat the post as if it were a matter of efficiency and competence, like being a supermarket manager. Having a spot of trouble doing the job? Out you go! Good sales returns? Excellent! Have a bigger shop or become regional manager!

In my view, this is untraditional and, I would go so far as to say, corrupt.

To be continued.

12 January 2019

Not very Kosher

Surely, it is outrageous that the Belgian regime should outlaw the provision of Kosher and Hallal meat.

I seem to remember that the Polish Bishops' Conference opposed, successfully, the adoption of such a law in Poland. I wonder how long it will take for the generality of people to realise that secular liberalism as promoted by the Zeitgeist will give you tyranny; while a robust Catholicism is more likely to support freedom.

But then, we recall how sensitively the Belgians ran their Empire.

I wonder how aware they are that the claim of one of their ministers, that State law takes precedence over Religious law, aligns them with so many great historical figures, from Nero and Domitian down to Stalin and Hitler.

"Plucky little Belgium", indeed.

Boorish Bully-boy Belgium.

11 January 2019

A Novus Ordo moment

Yes; I'm feeling just slightly in favour of the Novus Ordo at this precise moment. Let me tell you why, as you sit comfortably and patiently at your computers ... because this is a tad complicated if you only give it half your attention ... or just scroll impatiently down ... as you sometimes do ... I wasn't born yesterday ...

Once upon a time, the Feast of the Epiphany had an Octave. This meant that the Day was continued liturgically for a week; so that if, as this year, Epiphany fell on a Sunday, the Liturgy kept on about the Epiphany for a week and then we observed the Eighth day ... 'the Octave Day' ... on the following Sunday. The Mass for the Octave Day was like the Mass of the Epiphany itself, but varied from it in a number of places so as to commemorate the Lord's Baptism (you will rember that the Western Feast of the Epiphany, historically, commemorates three mysteries: the Magi; the Baptism; the Wedding at Cana).

By the whimsy of the Calendar, that is what we would once have had, in the Extraordinary Form, this year. Epiphany, Sunday January 6; Octave Day (with the Lord's Baptism as its special theme) on Sunday January 13.

That is what the St Lawrence Press Ordo, giving the Roman Rite as it had evolved up to 1939, offers us. (It's had to go into a reprint this year ... 59 Sandscoft Avenue Broadway, WR12 7EJ ... there may be some of this second printing still in stock.)

However, in 1893 Pope Leo XIII instituted the Feast of the Holy Family, to be observed on the Sunday after the Epiphany.

So what do you do in a year like this one, when January 13 could be either the Sunday after Epiphany (=Holy Family), or the Octave Day of the Epiphany (=Baptism)? Which does one observe?

Under the 1939 rules, you would have observed the Octave Day on the Sunday, bur 'anticipated' the Holy Family on the Saturday the 12th. This idea of 'inclusion by anticipation' was later abolished by liturgical 'reformers'

We move on now to Venerable Pius XII. He abolished the Octave, but rebranded the Octave Day itself and its Mass as the Feast of the Lord's Baptism (he didn't change the actual texts; this was simply a change of name). The Novus Ordo revisers subsequently built on this with their bright idea of fixing the celebration of the Baptism onto the Sunday after Epiphany (they had found a place for the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas). (Thereafter, in the Novus Ordo, one ventures into the dangerous wilderness of Ordinary Time.)

So, just for this year, those who follow the 1939 rules (St Lawrence Press Ordo), and those who follow the Novus Ordo, will be thinking about the Lord's Baptism this coming Sunday, January 13. However, those who follow the 1962 Calendar recommended by Summorum Pontificum will be meditating upon the Holy Family.

That is why, this next Sunday, I am tempted to be Novus Ordo ... or do I mean, 1939?

There. Wasn't that interesting? Now you can relax again.

10 January 2019

Stigmaticus perfuga

Some readers are unfamiliar with this phrase. It was used by S Edmund Campion in his Rationes Decem, printed surreptitiously at Stonor House near here and as surreptitiously put on all the seats to be picked up by the University as it gathered for the Act in June 1581. See my paper in Luther and his progeny, Angelico Press, 2017.

It refers to the rumour that John Calvin had been branded after being convicted of homosexual acts. I have no idea whether this is true; I believe the contrary view is that the confusion arose because another inhabitant of Geneva with the same name was thus branded at around the same time. Perhaps an expert could sort this out.

In ancient Rome, runaway slaves, when captured, were branded HFE (Hic Fugitivus Est).

In this country, those convicted of (any) sexual offences against others are required to sign something called the Sex Offenders' Register. This sounds a truly fearful penalty.

But perhaps the branding system would be an even more effective deterrent.

It could be left to the judge or jury to determine whether or not this should be done under a general anaesthetic.

Not really. I'm joking. Who am I to judge?

9 January 2019


"An ecumenical council has not infrequently created such divisions, and truth is ultimately promoted by what at the time is so very painful."

8 January 2019

Statistics, damned Statistics

I read recently on the Internet (yes, I know I should get out more) that by far the greatest cause of human death in 2018 was Abortion, at nearly 42 million.

And in another place, I read that the number of abortions in the State of Israel had gone down. This heading reminded me of the classic (but, I gather, apocryphal) headline Small earthquake in Peru Not many deaths.

I acknowledge that such news is good news, but I can't help feeling that, well, since Israel was founded as a safe refuge for members of a cruelly persecuted race, the idea that any Jew should be killed there, and by a fellow Jew, is rather horrible.

7 January 2019

Der Spiegel ...

... quotes an unnamed Vatican Cardinal as describing PF thus: an ice-cold, sly machiavellian and a liar.

A jolly interesting summary from someone with experience, I thought. His Eminence seems to know what he's talking about. But my wife suggests that a true Machiavellian would not need to tell lies.

I would have to concede that telling lies does expose the liar to perils. Take, for example, PF's lie to the effect that he knew nothing about the Dubia until he read about them in the Media. Easily falsified by those who took care to have the Dubia delivered personally to PF, and then waited some weeks before going public. Nasty, too, because in the course of his lie, PF effectively called the Dubia Cardinals liars.

But my own view would be that the essence of Machiavellianism is the subordination of all ethical considerations to realpolitik.

Quid Domini sentitis?

Happy Christmas ...

... to Traditionalists (real, S Pius V, Julian Calendar Traditionalists) who read this post as they come home from the Missa in Aurora to open their presents.

6 January 2019

Bishop Graham Leonard

I first published this in 2011, just as the Ordinariates were starting up. Bishop Leonard's portrait hangs in the study of Mgr Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham.

Bishop Graham departed this world on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2010. It is as if, grieved that the Feast of His Epiphany should have been expunged from the calendars of great swathes of the Latin Church, the Lord decided to grant Bishop Graham the Beatific Vision upon this great day. We hope and trust that his prayers avail for those who now seek to follow his lead into regularised canonical union with the See of Peter, and for all those who seek to enter more fully into the Theophany.

It is not for me to attempt to say, about Bishop Graham, things that others who knew him better than I did have said already and said rather better than I could. I would like to make just one point.

Our ecclesiastical culture, in a mirror image of its secular counterparts, abhors loose cannons; that is to say, those who disregard the unspoken conventions of The Club. In particular, there is lofty disapproval of those who, having been granted admission to 'management' status, pay insufficient attention to the overriding imperative of keeping cosily snuggled up to all the other Great Men.

Bishop Leonard certainly achieved 'status': he was Bishop of London, the second see in his province, and Dean of the Chapels Royal. But despite this he acceded to the request of a persecuted American group to give them pastoral support, in disregard of diocesan boundaries. By so doing, he broke every rule of the Top Chaps' Club. In this he was very strikingly like the Cardinal Ratzinger who ignored all the niceties of the Ecumenical Establishment, not to mention the Vatican's own dicasterial structures, to send a telegram of support to 'dissident' Anglicans meeting in America; and who, after being elected Pope, set up his Ordinariates with a cheerful and engagingly stylish disregard for vested interests ... interests which had assumed he would never dare to break ranks. Unclubable, by God!, the pair of them. Great men, the pair of them.

There are more important things in life than easing one's companionable buttocks on to the red leather of the club fender in the Athenaeum. Perhaps this is one important message which we Anglican Catholics, with our long and immensely proud history of being troublesome counter-cultural Loose Cannons, can contribute to the joyous Benedictine vision of renewing the youthful vigour of the Wider Latin Church.

5 January 2019

My dear Wormwood

As an Epiphany Present, here is a reprint, with Thread, of a piece from 2010. I wonder how well it has worn ...

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

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

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

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

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

As loving, as hungry, as ravenous, as ever

Your doting, dribbling Uncle


4 January 2019

Are they really bishops? (3)

Sedevacantists have argued that the words in the post-Conciliar Form for consecrating Bishops, spiritus principalis, are insufficiently univocal (unambiguous) to denote the ordo episcopalis. I have pointed out that the same problem could be urged against the corresponding words which Pius XII declared to be the Form: ministerii tui summam. This phrase could perfectly well have applied to the Ministry of the Roman Pontiff himself; and, since the Rite we are speaking of was Roman, quite possibly this is what it originally did mean. And there is a manuscript variant mysterii tui summam ... what exactly would that 'unambiguously' refer to? Did your sedevacantist indoctrinators tell you how to explain that away?

In any case, before 1947, the communis sententia among approved manualists (this is summed up by Cardinal Gasparri, 1852-1934, Secretary of State under Benedict XV and Pius XI) saw the Form for episcopal Consecration as being three quite different words: Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. Bishops, when consecrating a new bishop before 1947, intended to consecrate him when they opened their mouths and said these words, not when they uttered the words which Pius XII subsequently selected and declared to be the Form. 

Are those three words sufficiently precise to indicate, univocally, the Episcopate? By your standards, O thou sedevacantist, surely not; they actually appeared also in presbyteral ordinations according to the pre-Conciliar rites (they were said over me in 1968) and they are found in the Tridentine rite of ordination to the Diaconate, and might even without  inappropriateness be used in Confirmation. If (like popes, bishops and theologians for hundreds of years) you are happy with these vague words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum as the Form for episcopal consecration, why do you have such a problem with the rather more explicit, distinctly less vague, words calling for the granting of the Spiritus principalis?

Cardinal Gasparri (this is a most compelling point) also raised the hypothetical question of whether a consecrand would be validly consecrated if the whole of the ancient consecratory prayer were omitted and so all the candidate had said over him were the three words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. He concluded ("admittimus cum communi sententia") that this would be valid: "quia licet illa sola verba in se inspecta sint indeterminata, et non satis exprimant collationem ordinis episcopalis, tamen satis determinantur ... ipsamet caeremonia sine praefatione".

Is your competence in these matters, O sedevacantist, really so much greater than that of the towering scholarly figure who masterminded the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Gasparri the Great? Are you so much more soaked in the writings of the Fathers, the Scholastics, the Manualists, than he was? Perhaps you write him off, together wih the popes he served, Benedict XV and Pius XI, as proto-post-conciliarists? As Crypto-Modernists?

Dear me, you really do live in a narrow little world of your own. No wonder you never sound happy.

The sedevacantist arguments so glibly urged against the validity of Consecrations performed with the post-Conciliar Pontifical do not hold a drop of water in them ... not a millionth of a molecule. These arguments are shown to be baseless, not by deploying what some might dismiss as modernist, specious, flabby post-Conciliar arguments, but by considering the standard texts and praxis of the pre-Conciliar Church, its popes, and its great teachers. The Magisterium of nearly two millennia.

I would have some sympathy with you, O sedevacantist, if the only argument you desired to press went something like this:
"It was in the highest degree deplorable for the 1960s revisers, without any Conciliar mandate, to eliminate the ancient Roman Prayer for making a bishop (the theology of which can be traced back to the Letter to Corinth of Pope S Clement I in the 90s of the first Christian century) and to replace it by a distinctly unfortunate Oriental prayer of unknown origin, which happened to be fashionable in the 1960s because of a now-exploded theory about its authorship and origins. Its adoption was proposed and carried by the chairman of the coetus concerned with the Pontifical, Dom Bernard Botte, who had himself produced an edition of it and thus may be thought to have had a vested interest. What a totally improper and irresponsible way to carry on in such an important matter!!!"

A Catholic is not forbidden to entertain such a highly critical view of what was done in the 1960s. In fact, I confess that I hold it myself. And I hold it strongly.

But that action, however deplorable, did not come within a million, million miles of rendering the Orders of the Catholic Church invalid. The Gates of Hell have not prevailed.


3 January 2019

Are they really bishops? (2)

Continues ...
It is argued that the words in the post-Conciliar Pontifical for Consecrating a Bishop are insufficiently precise.

But that prayer was used for centuries by Oriental communities in communion with Rome, and dissident communities whose orders the settled praxis of the Holy See for centuries was to accept. It was on this ground that Archbishop Lefebvre himself, upon receiving fuller information, changed his mind and accepted that this prayer was adequate to confer the episcopate.

It is argued that the phrase spiritus principalis is insufficiently precise because it is used in some dissident communities in the prayer which is said over a man who is already a bishop but is now being constituted a Patriarch. So ... are you, O ye sedevacantists, saying: "Originally this prayer, used for centuries to consecrate bishops, was adequate; but now, since some dissident communities began to use it for a different purpose, it has become insufficient, even in those communities where it is not used for blessing Patriarchs?" If so, I would regard this argument as absurdly and unconvincingly rococo.

Before going on to my next section, I think I had better point out out that it is very easy indeed to construct immensely attractive arguments for dismissing the Orders of people one doesn't like; the grief comes when the question is asked: "You deployed that argument to prove that X's Orders are invalid; but the same argument proves also the invalidity of the Orders of Y and of Z and, indeed, of you yourself and the clergy whose ministrations you depend upon." If you want to shoot off such arguments, my advice is: go to the middle of a large empty field with good lines of vision; discharge your arguments; then keep your eyes and ears wide open for the sound and sight of the returning boomerang. It has sharp edges.

Pius XII (1947) laid down that the Form in the (then) Roman Pontifical for consecrating a Bishop was Comple in sacerdote tuo ministerii tui summam etc..

(1) Are you quite sure, O thou sedevacantist, that this is explicit enough? If I have up my sleeve (I'm not saying I do) an example of a medieval pope who, already being a bishop, had this read over him when he was promoted to the See of Peter, would you conclude that it automatically became too vague to signify the Episcopate? If not, why not?

(2) And if I have up my sleeve early manuscripts of this prayer (I'm not saying I do) which read mysterii rather than ministerii, will this variant still be explicit enough for you? If not, will you admit that very many medieval bishops, consecrated with the use of this form, were not validly consecrated, including almost certainly many popes? If not, why not?

(3) And if I have up my sleeve (I'm not saying I do) a medieval rite of presbyteral ordination in which that same formula was used to ordain a mere priest, would you still be consistent enough to advance the argument that the words, since they were used in a context other than episcopal consecration, manifestly do not univocally signify the episcopate? And that therefore most, if not all, medieval and later Western bishops were not validly ordained? If not, why not?

Be careful how you answer those questions: I have capacious sleeves.

To be concluded. I will not enable comments until after the next and final installment.

2 January 2019

Pope Murdered. Poirot's Last Case.

For the details, you had better go across to the blog written by my dear Ordinariate friend, Dr Kirk. Don't delay. This is one of the best things he has written. If anyone ever asks you Num quid umquam boni ex Ordinariatu, Dr Kirk's blog is the answer. You can get there, today and every happy day, simply by googling GKIRKUK.

Perhaps, however, you should delay just a moment, long enough to absorb the following information.

In a wild part of Switzerland, full of brigands and assassins, there is a town, a sink of unwholesome clerical intrigue, called Sankt Gallen. Its Coat of Arms is Argent a bear rampant Sable langued and membered Gules armed and gorged Or.

Nuff said.

I know some of you really new readers really like information which is really obscure.

Now read on. Who strangled him?

1 January 2019

The Circumcision and Mrs Cranmer

Sometimes one reads traddy criticisms of the abolition of the title "The Circumcision" formerly attached to January 1. There may be a slight confusion here. But before I explain this, I would like to emphasise the importance of celebrating and teaching ... perhaps in Lent and Holy Week ... the profound significance of the Circumcision within the context of our Lord's complete Jewishness and his identification with the Jewish people. Perhaps I might be permitted a quick and waspish observation that the only picture I know of our Most Holy Redeemer where the artist has troubled to make him look unmistakably Hebrew is by Caravaggio.

The Mass texts of the Roman Church, for centuries, made no reference on January 1 to the Circumcision except in as far as the opening verses of S Luke Chapter 2 were an obvious choice for the Gospel. The whole Mass was about our Lady's Divine Maternity. The 1960s 'reformers' were guilty of many nastinesses, unmandated by the Council, often contrary to the Council; but all they did to January 1 was to give it the title which best fitted the immemorially ancient and exquisite texts of the Roman Church. If you don't trust me, here are the words of Gueranger.

"The holy Church of Rome used formerly to say two Masses on the first of January; one was for the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honour of Mary ... The Church celebrates today the august prerogative of this divine Maternity, which was conferred on a mere creature, and which made her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man's salvation ..."

And the great Benedictine writes another five superb pages on our Lady's Divine Maternity.

The sometimes rather mechanical biblicism of the Middle Ages led to the title of the Circumcision being given to this day. But, as a result of the admirable inertia in matters liturgical which has always been part of the Catholic instinct (some people nowadays invoke the phrase organic development), the actual Mass texts were left unchanged ...

 ... until Archbishop Cranmer got his hands on the Liturgy. As so often happened with the 'reformers', Cranmer behaved in impeccably 'late medieval' ways. So he borrowed from Mattins an Epistle from Romans 4, and composed this Collect:

Almyghtie God, whiche madest thy blessed sonne to be circumcised and obedyente to the law for man; Graunt us the true circumcision of thy spirite, that our hertes, and al our membres, being mortifyed from al worldly and carnal lustes, may in al thinges obey thy blessed wil; through etc..

Frankly, I am glad that the Ordinariate Missal sticks with the old Roman texts here, and ignores Cranmer. Since the poor old gentleman kept a wife secreted somewhere, I wonder how consistently he did mortifye al his membres. Or was Mrs C a merely titular wife whose purpose was to minister to Cranmer's self-understanding that he really was a world-class Reformer just like those enwifed Swiss and German chappies? (Calvin's sexuality has, of course, been a matter of debate, or do I mean gossip? Stigmaticus perfuga ...)

One good idea of the 1960s 'reformers': they introduced into the Divine Office for today the wonderful hymn of Prudentius Corde natus ex parentis ...