28 October 2020

Yet More Mirth in Hell, and the subject is still Poland. Satan as a sophisticated Liturgist and ironic wit.

S John Paul II knew, and warned, that the next danger which would befall his long-suffering and blood-soaked native land after the fall of Communism would be secularism and the the temptatations of materialism.

We are told that, this last Sunday, there were interruptions of the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass in Polish churches, engineered by pro-abortionists. After the years in which the Communist regime struggled to do down the Church, a new, brilliantly updated, gang of Christ-hating anti-lifers is now, apparently, alive and well in the land of the Black Virgin. Come back Uncle Jo; all is forgiven!

I wonder if one of these blasphemous protests was in the great basilica of Nowa Hut, the building of which was one of Cardinal Wojtyla's greatest triumphs during his fight against the Stalinist regime.

And this last Sunday was the day ordained by Pius XI for the Latin Church to celebrate Christ the King. Under the witty guidance of the Enemy, the Polish protesters, unconsciously, chose their day of protests with admirable liturgical precision. In the Church's Liturgy, the Vespers Office hymn reads Scelesta turba clamitat/ Regnare Christum nolumus. [The wicked mob keeps on shouting/ We do not wish Christ to be King].

My goodness me, they do indeed keep shouting.

The hymnographer (Fr Vittorio Genovesi, SJ, ob 1967) chose his words well. In a lifetime mostly spent in teaching Augustan poetry, I came to realise that, of the many Latin words for Evil Deeds, scelus is just about as bad as you can get.

And a later stanza in his hymn reads Te ... Leges et artes exprimant. [May the Laws and arts express Thee]. Or rather, that used to be the text.

Few readers will be surprised to know that the phrases I have quoted were eliminated from the Divine Office sponsored by S Paul VI. Good on yer, Saint P! They were very tactless words! They actually related to the real world!!!

Archbishop Lefebvre wrote a rather good book on all this entitled They have uncrowned him. (Angelus Press). When will the cause for his Beatification be introduced?

27 October 2020

Does Satan have a sense of humour?

I throw out the above topic as a possible object of research for some keen young DPhil student on the threshold of a brilliant career in Academe.

Here is some evidence for her to consider.

A couple of evenings ago, I was watching the Beeb on my computer: a late-night slot in which media experts tell you what the interesting stories in the following morning's papers are, and ... on a good evening ... sometimes hint at what the 'Fleet Street' gossip behind and about them is.

Very unusually, one of the newspapers they had in front of them that evening was Polish! Yes, the news had just come through that the Polish Constitutional Court had ruled against the pre-birth destruction of the handicapped.

Of the three broadcasters (occasionally the three may include a man, but most commonly they are all women), the 'Anchor' was an elderly lady 'of Polish heritage'; another was Women's Editor on a right-wing paper generally known as The Torygraph; she was called Claire Cohen.

Cohen reacted to the Polish Breaking News with the phrase "really shocking". The Anchor seemed not unsympathetic to this laconic pronouncement. There was no suggestion that this was a merely personal view to which Cohen was entitled; the phrase was left hanging in the air as an obviously objective observation. Nobody offered any balance.

Poland is a country in which, within still living memory, there were the very grossest Extermination Camps engaged in the sadistic slaughter of millions of human beings, many of them with names like, er, Cohen. And the country itself suffered from a murderous Nazi tyranny determined to reduce the numbers of 'sub-human' Slavs and to destroy its cultural identity.

Yet Cohen, and her Polish chum, sophisticated ladies, had graduated far beyond any simple-minded revulsion at the slaughter of the innocent. Instead, they seemed horrified that the current holocaust of 'sub-human' babies might in anyway be interrupted. 

Ridete, quidquid est Daemoniorum!!

26 October 2020

Newman, Mueller, Burke, and Weinandy: where are we now in this pontificate?

Cardinal Mueller, in the last few days, has given wise guidance about how faithful Catholics should treat recent remarks attributed to the Roman Pontiff. As he puts it, "every Catholic can and should contradict" these remarks. 

I hope that readers have not forgotten this same Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto of 2019; it was and is a most  interesting document. In it, surprisingly,

he did not mention the Petrine Ministry of the Roman Pontiff.

This is unusual in modern Catholic discourse; it is the Dog which Failed To Bark In The  Night. The sickly and mawkish modern cult of the Bishop of Rome has for so long pushed the Witness of the Incarnate Word, the words of Scripture, the teaching of the Fathers, into the background. How often have you heard a semi-literate sermon in which "Pope Francis Says" is prominent, but never any hint is given of "Jesus Says"? Or "in the words of S Paul?" In his most recent remarks, Cardinal Mueller has wisely criticised "idolatrous papolatry" and warned against letting "sentimentality" contradict "the rationality of Faith".

So, if Mueller's 2019 Manifesto had no other value, that particular silence was as refreshing as a glass of cold water on a sticky day.

But why?

Possibly the Cardinal agreed with the realisation by the great Anglican theologian Eric Mascall, that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not so much tell us something about the Christian Faith, as about the circumstances in which we might be told something about that Faith.

But most importantly, Gerhard Mueller's words reflect and endorse the illuminating perception of S John Henry Newman about the situation during the Arian crisis:

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

(In his statement last week, Cardinal Mueller cited Newman's observation that corruption in maters of revealed doctrine is much more serious than any other corruptions ... financial ... sexual ... )

It seems to me that the moment when PF decided not to aswer the Dubia of the four Cardinals was the formal, official moment ... the starting gun ... when the Petrine Ministry entered into its current "temporary suspense". When, likewise, he ignored the Filial Correction which some of us had sent him, he confirmed that Suspense. His determination to continue to mislead God's people by (at least) speaking ambiguously and then declining to clarify the "messes" which he creates, makes the truth of this analysis clearer day by day. Thus we are "officially" in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in a vacatio docendi which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ as formally emerges from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, "devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith".

In a masterly address on Apostasy delivered a few years ago at Buckfast, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke spoke of "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could! After PF's recent remarks, Cardinal Burke, as he has done after earlier pieces of papal nonsense, assured the Faithful that such utterances of PF are "devoid of magisterial weight".

And, dear readers, do you remember the Letter sent to PF by Fr Tom Weinandy? He wrote that a bishop who espoused heretical teaching "would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church  and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry."

By joining with Newman in this analysis, and suggesting that his analysis gives coherence to the remarks of Cardinals and scholars regarding the Bergoglian Crisis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their offices. On the contrary. I say no more ... and no less ... than S John Henry did: I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not at this moment using it.

At this moment, most unhappily, Christ's Church Militant here upon earth is deprived of the guidance of its principal earthly Shepherd.

But her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Note: Newman is referring to Pope* Liberius; and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So nobody should try to apply these words to Vatican II, which was undoubtedly a 'valid' Ecumenical Council. Whether it always sought all the right answers to all the right questions in all the right places is, of course, very much another matter.

25 October 2020

Homosexuality and the 'Problem' of the Catechism

I published this in January 2018. I was disgruntled at the thought that, only a couple years previously, incoming Anglican Clergy had had to be carefully questionned to check that they subscribed to what the Magisterioum taught about Sex ... while, by 2018, it had become clear that the very same Magisterium was now some sort of playground  in which big rough boys from Argentina could bounce around knocking everybody over. I am still disgruntled.

I wonder how the 'Formation' of incoming Anglican Clergy now deals with Sex.


 When the first wave of Anglican priests was in preparation to be admitted to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, we all had to go, one by one, to a Church-run centre in Manchester for 'psychometric' evaluation.

During one of my interviews, the clergyman interviewing me asked whether there was any part of the Church's teaching that I had difficulty with. Bishop (now Mgr) Newton had very strongly advised us all to be totally honest, so I said "Well, there is something. I have no trouble accepting it theoretically, but I do have problems internalising it, feeling it. To tell you the truth, I feel a little embarrassed mentioning this ... you know, it's not the sort of thing chaps of my age like talking about ..."

"Out with it", he invited, looking extremely interested, leaning slightly forward in his chair. So I explained.

"Particularly when I'm in a big, bustling crowd, I look at all those faces, all apparently with their own preoccupations, everybody pushing and kicking everybody else, and I get Big Doubts. I wonder if it really can be true that God has an individual and salvific and interlocking purpose for each and every one of them. I know, intellectually, that He does ... but .... well ..... particularly in the middle of the London rush hour ......  just after someone has kicked my shin ......."

"No no no", he replied, perhaps a trifle impatiently. Strangely, all the interest had now faded from his face. 

"I meant Sex".

During the period when we were being "formed" (surely, a horrid word) at Allen Hall ... where the food was so very, very, good ... we were taught very little about the Bible and the Fathers, but were endlessly drilled on the Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Magisterium. I still have all the voluminous teaching aids which embodied this teaching. They must have cost somebody quite a lot of money. It was apparently highly important for us to accept all those documents. I had no trouble doing so; they expressed what I had believed and taught all my life.

The Apostolic Constitution erecting the Ordinariates made clear that our doctrinal standard was to be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This was rational, since the CCC summarises the teaching of the Catholic Church. And it was promulgated as being, together with the Code of Canon Law, one of the major fruits of the Council.

But PF has already hinted that he would like to see the teaching in the Catechism regarding Capital Punishment changed. Members of his circle have also alluded to the 'unsatisfactory' teaching expressed concerning 'remarried divorcees' and active genital homosexuality.

So, six or seven years ago, we were interrogated, indoctrinated, required to subscribe, the teaching  Magisterially given in Conciliar and Papal documents, most particularly and insistently as regarding sexual matters. I entertained more than a mere suspicion at the time that the intention in interviews like one I have narrated above was to 'weed out' applicants who possessed a homosexual orientation. Apparently, there is now a real likelihood of those teachings being radically changed in a new edition of the Catechism. What we were carefully 'formed' to believe and accept would be reversed.

Interestingly, this seems to me to constitute an understanding of "Magisterium" which brings that concept carefully into line with the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984 ... . You will remember that Winston Smith's job is to sit at a desk onto which a machine intermittently disgorges copies of old stories from The Times newspaper which have now become inconvenient to the Party and which Winston is employed to "correct". When he has manufactured a 'correction' (which means, a falsification), he files it away so that henceforth that is what will be on record as the 'truth', while the earlier newspaper report is immediately burned so that no evidence of its 'error' will survive.

Not long ago, some individual called Scicluna told us that it is the present pope whom we should obey, "not the last pope, not the pope before that". 1984 redivivus! I wonder what that dear old principled Old Etonian 'Tory-anarchist' and Anglican atheist George Orwell aka Eric Blair would have said if he could have known that his dystopian fantasy would be so ruthlessly plagiarised (without acknowledgement) by a Catholic Archbishop of Malta.

Hot off the Press, on the Rorate site, we are given another superb example of Orwellianism: the Calendar of the Franciscans of the Immaculate writes out of history the Founders of that mercilessly persecuted Order, who are now Unpersons. Might Big Brother be involved?

If that is the sort of 'Magisterium' which PF's corrupt, and sycophantic entourage is determined to impose, there is little I can do to stop them, except praying ... and writing this sort of thing. Were these people to succeed in their evil endeavours, I would have to consider very carefully whether I should repudiate formally the mangled form in which the Catechism would be left.

FINALLY, a practical suggestion. PF is very enthusiastic about Oriental Patriarchs. He likes to hug them, be blessed by them, to meet them in Cuba ... I am sure he would like to turn any important change, such as alterations to the Church's teaching on genitally expressed homosexuality, into an ecumenical, a collegial affair.

There is a very articulate Russian Metropolitan called Hilarion. He is 'foreign minister' of the Moskow Patriarchate. He is an Oxford Man, having done his Doctorate in this University. He is very articulate.

He is just the person to be involved in such an enterprise. After all, it is a basic principle of Ecumenism that neither 'partner' should make changes which would widen already existing gaps between the Churches. His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion could give the Holy See helpful and informed advice on all this lovely stuff. I think he should be closely involved in the backrooms conversations now, apparently, going on.

Is your bishop eschatological?

A Greek (phrourein) verb and a Latin (excubare) verb are found in early literature describing the duties of a Bishop. Excubare literally means 'to sleep out of doors'. These terms point to your bishop's duty to be a  guard, a watchman. Not for him ... metaphorically ... the comfort of a soft mattress and a downy pillow; not for him to enjoy unbroken slumbers until his alarm-clock rouses him at 6.00 for his Office, Meditation, and Mass.

His duty is that of the Watchman, on the ramparts of the Holy City, his eyes keen to spot an approaching Enemy. Ideally, he is a Cerberus whose bite is every bit as bad as his bark, ready to savage those who attempt illicit entry into his Household. Or he climbs comscientiously up the high city tower from which his keen eye can detect hostile movement even on a distant horizon. 

And don't forget another Greek verb, gregorein, a rather late, perhaps koine coinage from egeirein, meaning to Stay Awake. Have you noticed how often the Gospels offered for Confessor Bishops emphasise the episcopal duty to watch, vigilare? "Watch, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. ... if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up ... " "he commanded the doorkeeper (thuroros) to watch ..."

And the Lord's teaching is that the Coming of the Judge upon that Day will be like that of a Lord or a King coming unexpectedly to make a reckoning with his household officers.

Your Bishop's job, before everything else, is to keep you safe by Watching and Guarding, so that on the Day of the Lord he can present you, with all his Household, pure and undefiled, to the Judge. 

Does your Bishop understand this? Does he do these things? When a Wolf starts sniffing around the sheepfold, is your bishop out there to confront him, brave, resolute, and fearless?

When yet another Satanic assault upon the Faith wafts across the airwaves from the Seven Hills, is your bishop out there in front, valiant for the Faith handed down through the Apostles, for the Depositum Fidei, insistent that, if Peter carelessly misspoke, he should clear away the confusion; that if the Vicar of Christ himself has actually fallen short of the Faith, he should purge himself of his Hypocrisy (synhypocrithesan ... tei hypocrisei are S Paul's words in Galatians).

Is your Bishop careful to keep his nose and his copy-book clean, or does he bear the marks of a man who is haunted by the thought that he does not know whether his Lord will come at Midnight, or in the Third Watch?

24 October 2020

Learning from our Ecumenical partners

I've just been speed-reading a horrendous report on a former Anglican diocesan Bishop of Chester, a man called Whitsey, now departed this life. By the Mercy of God, may his soul rest in peace.

His life-long career of sexual Abuse rivalled that of Bishop Peter Ball, but also included women and girls as well as men and boys. 

Whitsey was married, with three children.

I mention all this, not to glory in the downfall of the C of E, or because it is meritorious to throw stones at other people (it isn't), but simply because there are Catholics (and others) who argue that Abuse in the Catholic Church is related to the Latin Rite rule of clerical celibacy, which should therefore, in their view, be abolished.

This is the purest, silliest, simplistic, nonsense. Incidentally: observe that Matrimony was not a safeguard against Abuse in the case of Bishop Whitsey. 

Human sexuality is, quite simply, immensely complex ... and dangerous. It has been since the Fall.

Anyone who implies otherwise is probably a crook with an agenda.

(h/t Dr Cotton)

23 October 2020

Santissimo Redentore and Coronavirus

The Appendix pro aliquibus locis in the Altar Missal I use daily has a Mass for October 23 ... for our Most Holy Redeemer. Next year, I think, I shall use it, not least because the particular devotion goes back to the Great Plague of Venice in 1576 ... which makes it ... you know what I mean ... topical for us in these fun days. There were terrible numbers of plague victims, and so the Doge and the Senate vowed that ... the rest of the story writes itself, doesn't it?

The main Festival in Venice with this title is, as I suspect many readers will know, celebrated on the Third Sunday of July. I believe that quite a lot still goes on, even though it is, I think, some years since the poor things had a Doge. In 1830, Pope Pius VIII marked his brief pontificate by extending the Feast to Rome itself, where it was to be observed on 23 October. Readers lucky enough to have a copy of the splendiferous Calendar published each year by the Redemptorist Community on Papa Stronsay, up near the North Pole, will have noticed that Santissimo Redentore is observed on the Third Sunday of July with greater solemnity, but also appears on 23 October.

That Mass, like so many of the liturgical innovations of the Counter-Reformation, is full of exuberant joy in the wonders of our Redemption ... rather in the triumphalist spirit which animated Rubens' Triumph of the Eucharist. The Introit with which it begins, Gaudens gaudebo ... is from Isaias 61, and the psalmus of that Introit is the majestic, architectural, opening of Psalm 88: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo: in generationem et generationem annuntiabo Veritatem tuam in ore meo. This psalmus is also  used in the Votive of the Passion, and in the Sarum (and Ordinariate) Mass of the Five Wounds. And it's there in the Mass of the Most Precious Blood ... and, I think, in a number of other Masses celebrating our Redeemer. (The Mercies of YHWH shall I sing for ever; unto generation and generation I shall proclaim thy hMT in my mouth.)

And the Offertorium, most suitably, is Salus populi ... I am the salvation/health of the people, from whatsoever tribulation they call upon me I will hear them; and I will be their God for ever: Alleluia! You appreciated the pun!

The best response to Coronavirus would have been for the Nation to vow a great Neo-Palladian Basilica to our Beloved Saviour, to be built on the site of that bizarre monument to utter, crass, pointlessness, the "Millennium Dome". Tchaikovsky wrote something which could have been played in connection with its solemn Consecration by Cardinal Burke.

22 October 2020

Pope Francis ... again ... and why he is wrong ...

I think we should all try to calm down. 

Mind you, that's not altogether easy when one, at least, of our British dailies has for its lead story this morning a large claim that Pope Francis favours "Gay Marriage". 

He does absolutely nothing of the sort. In fact, he has a long history, dating back to before his election as Bishop of Rome, of opposing SSM, but favouring Civil Partnerships. It is far from clear to me that his recent effusion represents any change in his publicly expressed views.

Any reaction to his words which is schismatic, or tends to encourage schismatic talk, is very wrong. It is matter of first importance to be in Full Communion with the See of S Peter.

When the occupant of that See is manifestly a poor silly old man, the obligation of koinonia is, if possible, even greater, not less. I would encourage any readers who do me the honour of taking seriously anything I say, to make an Act of Faith, explicitly expressing belief in the indefectibility of Christ's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the fact that Jorge Bergoglio is the Vicar of Christ upon Earth. We should pray, with Vatican I, that the Holy Spirit may help him "traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodire et fideliter exponere". Tough job? Tough Spirit!

The root of the PF-and-Sex-Problem can be summed up in the question: When did you last hear him emphasise the importance of S Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae? And of Casti connubii from the pen of Pius XI?

Those two great encyclicals robustly emphasised the tradition of two Christian millenia about the licit use of Marriage. And about the disorder structurally inherent when that teaching is ignored. And, prophetically, S Paul VI saw the great Tsunami of sexual incontinence which the Enemy was planning to unleash upon the Church and upon the World. And has done.

In the context of this teaching, which upholds (like the Anglican Prayer Book) the primary procreative teleology of the sexual act, it is not difficult to see why the Church also teaches that a SS 'orientation' is intrinsically disordered, and that  SS genital acts are every bit as sinful as are contraceptive sexual acts among the married.

If we forget the teaching of HV, then condemnations of SSM, and of SS genital activity, are bound to seem to the World to be pure discrimination. Indeed, they probably are.

If PF, and other Ministers of God's Word, are too terrified to teach, opportune et inopportune, what the Papal Magisterium, from Casti connubii  to Humanae Vitae emphasised with such clarity, then they ... we ... condemn ourselves to the incomprehension, the ridicule, and the opposition of the World.

What if we teach what Scripture and Tradition teach? The World is very likely to say: "You want to cut out most of the Sex that most human beings have!! You even want to condemn a lot the sex Catholic married couples have!! What a weird lot you are ...". They will be making something very much like  the point made by the Disciples (S Matthew 19: 10 ou sumpherei gamesai). 

But they will be less able to hammer us with the unfair and illiterate accusation of 'homophobia'.

And the best back-up to this would be: robust teaching about the Christian emphasis on Virginity, as I wrote only a day or two ago in one of my pieces on S Frideswide. So we also need teaching, not least from PF's ever-generous tongue, on Virginity, both male and female, on Consecrated Virginity, on Consecrated Widowhood, and on Consecrated Widowerhood.

And this is the very last moment the Latin Church should dump its tradition of clerical celibacy.

21 October 2020


Some journalists have reported Tutti Frutti as abolishing the Church's traditional teaching on the Just War. This is untrue. Paragraph 258 has marks of careful drafting; but it actually implies the abiding validity of that body of teaching. I refer to such phrases as "it is easy to fall into an overly broad interpretation of this potential right ... it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a 'just war'".

What I find a trifle dodgy about this is: if you urge people not to invoke the principles of the Just War teaching, you may think you are simply discouraging them from saying"This war is just! Fight on!" But you are also discouraging them from saying "This war is unjust! Drop your weapons!"

Among traddy Catholic moralists there is agreement that Nuclear War could never be justified because the harm done would so vastly outweigh any conceivable good ... which means that the principles of the Just War on Proportionality of Harm are being invoked. At least on this side of the Atlantic, such a judgement leads to the further conclusion that (since a contingent intention to commit an immoral act is itself immoral) the policy called Nuclear Deterrence is itself immoral. PF, I suspect, shares this view in the following paragraphs of Tutti Frutti. (I am not going to waste my life trying to explain to people that no End can ever justify a Means which is intrinsece malum, because S John Paul II explained that very adequately in Veritatis Splendor para 80 sqq..) But the arguments PF uses are the same arguments which those of us in the Just War tradition use in order to condemn the policies of governments (including my own) which retain nuclear weapons.

In other words, PF runs the risk of undermining the very teaching on which he then relies in what he says about nuclear weapons. 

But that is a characteristic of this Pontiff. The agility and aplomb with which he saws off branches he is sitting on is one of the eight wonders of the moral world..


20 October 2020

The Elector of Hannover

On October 20, 1714, George, Elector of Hannover, a distant Protestant relative of King James, underwent a form of 'Coronation' in Westminster Abbey.

Not a happy day. For half a century, Britain was to be sorely divided.

In towns all over England, the worthy common folk ... not the Whig Plutocracy ... rioted in protest. God bless them all. But this University had an even better idea than rioting.

Instead, on this day the University conferred on Sir Constance Phipps the honorary degree of DCL (Doctoris in Lege Civili).

Although Phipps (1656-1723) had been prepared, like many sound men, to serve the de facto regime of Anne, his practice as a barrister had been among staunchly Tory and Jacobite circles. He had achieved national hero-status by his participation in the defence of Henry Sacheverell (and, later, of Bishop Francis Atterbury for whom we in the Ordinariate have a great regard).

Confusion to Whiggery and Hannover Rats! Redeat Magnus ille Genius Britanniae!

19 October 2020

More on S Frideswide

So, hiding among her pigs, Saint Frideswide prayed to S Margaret and S Catherine, who made a spring arise from the ground (a Holy Well can still be seen at Binsey, restored by a Tractarian Vicar) with the water of which S Frideswide cured her erstwhile suitor of his blindness (I bet he was more careful thereafter to practise Custody of the Eyes).

So were S Margaret and S Catherine the other two ladies in the arms of the See of Oxford (see earlier post)? Probably, but I'm not sure that my great predecessor at S Thomas's, Canon Thomas Chamberlain, thought so, since in his famous Eucharistic Window he portrayed S Frideswide, S Margaret, and S Etheldreda - another Saxon royal virgin who preserved her chastity against onslaught (this time, the importunities of no fewer than two husbands).

I don't know what you think about those female saints - some of them a tadge legendary - who sprawl all over the Analecta Bollandiana and whose sanctity appears to lie at least partly in their heroic and determined protection of their virginity. It's easy to call this dualist or paranoid; to complain about an unnecessary denigration of the holy estate of Matrimony; even to speculate along Freudian lines. Just possibly some of these points could have been validly made in earlier generations. 

But in our culture, surely, a quite different point has to be made. Our Zeitgeist has its own novel superstition: that everybody is inevitably going to express genitally the sexuality about which they either say 'God has created me' or 'I have chosen this gender'. The point which all those Armoured Virgins - even the mythical as well as the historical ones - make is that it was and is neither compulsory nor inevitable to be sexually active. Our Christian cult of Virginity teaches that if you want, or, rather, are called, to be a male or a female who is not committed irrevocably to pursue fruitfulness with another individual 'in bed and at board', the consequence is simple. You offer up to God a sexually abstinent life. It is a privilege, rather than a disaster, to have such a divine vocation.

The assumption all around us now is that, since mechanical means exist whereby sexuality may now be divorced from both fertility and commitment, we are all at liberty to be uncommitted, sterile, and promiscuous. This preposterous nonsense is now solemnly enshrined in the 'laws' of this and many other lands. It is one of the most superbly crafted of the deceits of the Evil One. Day by day, it becomes increasingly clear that it is only in a culture which values Virginity and Celibacy that Matrimony itself can flourish ... paradoxical as that may seem to us.

During the 2014 Synod, the suggestion was made that the modern debates within the Church about Gender and Sexuality may be our equivalent of the debates in the first six Christian centuries about Christology. I think this is quite an acute observation. If it is true, this could mean that we have several centuries of the present mayhem in front of us.

Those who observe the pre-Pacelli rules and celebrate the solemnity of S Frideswide with a Privileged Octave, will have seven more days to meditate upon these matters!

18 October 2020

The Demivirgins of Oxford

Two liturgical notes:

(1) S LUKE This morning, the Beeb was broadcasting an Anglican eucharistic celebration in honour of S Luke. I think there was a medical bias here, because the Saint has medics in his patronal portfolio. The Anglican observance is in accordance with the long-standing Catholic Tradition (see your S Lawrence Press ORDO) that a Second class feast supersedes a Sunday Mass. Sadly, the 1962 Vetus Ordo reduces S Luke to a commemoration, while the Novus Ordo eliminates him altogether.

Not only is this contrary to Tradition, it is also contrary to a principle beloved of trendies, called Inculturation. It is part of English tradition, secular as well as in religious, that S Luke ... and other Saints in the same liturgical class ... should not be suppressed when they pop up on a Sunday.

It should immediately be made optionally licit in all forms of the Roman Rite, as it is in the C of E, for a Second Class festival to supersede a Sunday Mass.

(2) S FRIDESWIDE The Arms of the See of Oxford have a band across the middle (a "fess" ... francophone readers, be quiet) and above it three crowned demivirgins (yes, the heraldic term does afford scope for endless witticisms, but, believe me, most of them were made several hundred years ago), and in the base an Ox walking sedately across a Ford. The three demivirgins and their fess gave rise to an old undergraduate joke that the shield represents three lady dons sitting at a table and giving a viva to a cow. Who the ladies actually are is not entirely clear.

Pretty certainly, one of them is S Frideswide, whose festival is tomorrow. She was a princess who declined marriage, fled, and hid among pigs (a faintly Circaean touch?) in a forest until her suitor was struck blind and gave up the quest, whereupon, as one does, she became an abbess. Her shrine was in the chapel of S Frideswide's Priory, which later became the Chapel of Cardinal College (I believe trendy people now call it Christ Church, but it's still got Wolsey's hat and his coat of arms - which it uses as its own arms and its flag - all over it). This chapel subsequently served as the cathedral church of the diocese which Henry VIII erected on the cheap (and which was formally given Catholic legitimacy, by virtue of his legatine powers, by Cardinal Pole). Under the Tudor Spoliation, the shrine was demolished and, under Bloody Bess, S Frideswide's bones were mixed with those of a Protestant woman; subsequently an inscription informed the public that Religion and Superstition lay mingled there ...

( ... a bit of an ambiguity there, don't you think? Rather in the spirit of the naughty old Jacobite doggerel "God save the King! God save our Faith's Defender:/ God bless - no harm in blessing - the Pretender./ But who Pretender is, and who is King:/ God bless my soul! That's quite another thing!").

Anyway, S Frideswide now does cheerful duty as Patron of the City, University, and Diocese of Oxford. (Under the old conventions that made her Festival a Double (Treble?!?) of the First Class with a privileged octave.) In Bishop Kirk's happy days, the Lord Bishop celebrated Pontifical High Mass on her festival against a background of apprehension that somebody might be offended because of the niceties of Precedence. You see, there was the traditional Anglican frisson of uneasiness between Bishop (and Diocese) and Dean (and Chapter), combined with the amour propre of the University and the capacity of the City Corporation, representing Town, to feel slighted by Gown as well as by Crown. This was solved by having different processions simultaneously snaking into the Cathedral from different directions.

Yes, I know what you're thinking ... Oxford has never really quite Grown Up ...

17 October 2020

More Mickens (2) the Pope unmasked

Mr Robert Mickens is angry because PF has broken the rules. 

The Vatican City Governorate had decreed that all persons should wear masks ... rather as the Doge might have required Venetians to do at Carni Vale (or even the Masters of Ceremonies at the Vauxhall Gardens). But at the General Audience, PF himself and his entourage were maskless. A furious Mickens quotes the Vatican Government edict which makes clear that the rule applies to everybody.

Pictures show a maskless pontiff, exposing himself to the mindless mobs of groupies and Selfie enthusiasts.

What on earth does poor Mickens expect? 

PF has form.

On repeated Maundy Thursdays, PF ignored the rules. He wanted to wash female feet. He wanted to and so he did. Just like a wilful toddler.

Then the rules were changed  to require only that the feet be Christian. Still he ignored the rules.

At the heart of the disorder I have often called Bergoglianism is the conviction that he, PF, is above the Law.

And I argue that this is closely connected with the modern, unhealthy, sickly, papal personality cult.


My anxieties about PF began immediately after his election when his "I am a Poverello" papal name was announced. Then he came out on to the balcony humbly dressed and humbly asked to be blessed. Those anxieties grew when it was soon announced that he would not live in the Apostolic Palace. And that he would wear more humble vestments than Pope Benedict had. 

You see, this brought back for me unpleasant memories of the corrupt Anglican Bishop Peter Ball, whose career was based on a cult of phony humility. He would pepper his (very often self-regarding) sermons with allusions to himself as 'just a silly monk'. I have known him enter the Sacristy before Mass, lift up his habit to show a humble pair of elderly trousers, and tell the servers that he was 'just a poor old monk'. Nice-looking young men beguiled into thinking of joining his 'religious order' would be shown his humble bedroom, with just a humble mattress on the floor, and a broken crucifix.

I am most certainly not suggesting that, as Ball was, PF has ever been a sadistic abuser. The media would have publicised that if they had been able to find even a tiniest scrap of evidence. Clearly, there is none whatsoever.

I beg forgiveness simply for the fact that I cannot shake off this gut feeling: a parade of Phony Humility is likely to be an indication of something, whether great or small, which is not quite right.

Of course PF did not want the mob at the Audience to be deprived of looking upon his wonderful (and humble) Face!

Whatever the next pope is like, whatever his doctrinal biases, I hope that, at least, he will not stoke up a personality cult whch is already excessive and is a a menace to the mentality of the Catholic Church.

And that he will indulge no temptation to set himself above the rules. Even if he thinks he is.

16 October 2020

Two Williams, one cardinal's hat, one primatial cross

1594 was the year which saw a small but perfectly formed junior member of the University of Oxford swearing the necessary oaths of allegiance to the aging Elizabeth Tudor and of subscription to the formularies of the Church of England, and being admitted ad incipiendum as a Bachelor of Arts. He was the future Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud ... who was to be offered but never receive a Cardinal's hat. 

That same year, William Allen lay far from England on his death bed; he was a Cardinal Presbyter of the Holy Roman Church ... and, if the weather had been a little different in 1588, would almost certainly have been Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England. Allen, who had spent his life opposing Bloody Bess, was deemed by most of his fellow-countrymen a traitor and yet ... died in his bed. Laud, a figure of the Stuart Establishment ... died the death of a Martyr (cuius nomen/ Laudem sonat/ felix omen ...). 

Today, 16 October, is the date of Allen's death; if, carefully avoiding the Covid-ridden undergraduates, you walk down the High and look at the preposterous Jacobethan facade of Oriel College (yes, the currently controversial 'Rhodes' facade),  you will see a statue of Allen 'the traitor' looking cheerfully across at the baroque porch of the University Church with its statue of the Mother of God, set up in the 1630s at the instigation of the ... yes ... Laudian Church of England; a gracious, dare I suggest, prefiguring of the union between two traditions which was to be accomplished by the founding of our Ordinariate by Benedict XVI. Yet you will not find it easy to discover a statue of Laud, in Oxford or anywhere else, despite the fact that his diminutive stature would have made it quite easy to tuck him in more or less anywhere. (Incidentally, if you pop round to the other side of the Rhodes Building in Oriel, you will see a statue of S John Henry Newman.)

That North quadrangle of Oriel was the originally separate S Mary's Hall, associated with the incumbency of the University Church of S Mary on the opposite side of the High. William Allen, Proctor of the University, was Principal of that Hall. The accession of Anne Bullen's bastard daughter precipitated a major crisis at Oxford: pretty well every Head of House, and fifteen fellows of New College, were ejected and Protestant witnesses in 1559 and 1561 recorded that practically nobody could be found there who was sympathetic to the new regime. Allen went across to the nether lands, part of the dominions of our late Sovereign Lord King Philip, who was at that very moment founding a Catholic University at Douay; there he eventually became Principal of the English College ("the first full-blown Tridentine seminary anywhere in Europe"*) and Regius Professor of Divinity. He was to spend most of his life plotting, politicking, and dodging Elizabeth Tudor's assassins; and, rather like Marcel Lefebvre (another admirable warrior who deserved a Cardinal's Hat), training clergy for a Catholic Restoration which he was never himself to see.

I don't know whether the main street at Douay had the sort of elegant curve of the High at Oxford, but walking down it in the 1560s must have been uncannily like walking down the High in the 1550s. You had a good chance of meeting more or less everybody you knew. Douay was the refuge of dozens of Catholic academics from Marian Oxford ... the Chancellor was Richard Smyth, who had been Vice Chancellor, a Head of House, and Regius Professor at Oxford. At Douay resided the intellectual elite which Reginald Pole had gathered together for that English Counter-Reformation which so influenced reformers such as S Charles Borromeo, but which was never to be in England itself. "Moving into the wider world of Tridentine reform, they also brought it with them from Marian Oxford"*.

I trust that Reverend Fathers included William Allen in their Memento etiam this morning. But ... stay ... who am I to hector you ... I am arrogantly forgetting that many of you are yourselves alumni of Allen Hall in Chelsea, successor institution of the English College, Douay, and thus inheritor par excellence of the elite traditions of Marian Oxford and of Allen's life work. So of course you remembered him. 

It was, incidentally, a great privilege for us in the first 'wave' of Ordinariate clergy to be permitted to share that heritage with you. Thank you. I hope you have had no reason to regret that we made our unworthy, ham-fisted way into your inheritance, and sit now at leisure under your mulberry tree. Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum.
*Duffy, Fires of Faith

15 October 2020

"A range of measures are in place ..."

 From a letter in the Times.

Everybody seems now to use this horribly unmathematical construction. Am I the old dissentient left?

The Clifton Creed

 On 11 November 1841, the still-Anglican S John Henry Newman wrote:

" ... the dioceses in England are connected together by so close an intercommunion that what is done by authority in one, immediately affects the rest ..."

A similar consideration, surely, applies to the Catholic Church in England. Accordingly, I can see no impropriety in offering comments about events in the Diocese of Clifton.

In particular, events at the Church of S Nicolas of Tolentino (video link provided at Lifesite). And events, it is claimed, guaranteed "by the express wish of" the diocesan Bishop.

In a liturgy streamed on the Internet, a novel form of Creed was used (after the homily). Creeds are such significant things that not even the authority of the Diocesan Bishop has normally been considered adequate for the introduction of new versions. Indeed, some Christians have doubted whether the Successor of S Peter himself had adequate authority to allow a Filioque. But let's lean over backwards ...

The Clifton Creed affirms that "everything ... created is very good". In itself, I regard this as commendable. It draws out implications latent in the 'Nicene' statement that God is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible.

Why is the Clifton affirmation especially commendable?

(1) because it condemns the old, Dualist, Gnostic, Marcionite errors whereby there is an Evil Creator who is responsible for the evil material world. It is always good to condemn heresies, new and old! And

(2) because it combats a particular error which has become widespread since the Epidemic.

I have repeatedly read and heard Covid referred to as "this evil virus". As part of God's creation, it cannot be evil; it can only be, as Clifton so rightly affirms, "very good". Politicians talk of  'defeating the virus'; but, surely, it is odd  to wish to eradicate things that are "very good." Since the Anglicans still maintain a quaint old claim to be "the Church of England", you might have thought Mr Welby would have gone public with explanations about why Covid is, for all Christians, so "very good". Or Cardinal Vin, who has such a velvety manner with journalists. I would not like to suggest that Bishop Declan should assume this additional burden. Obviously, the pp Fr Thingummy is the man, articulate and thoughtful, to spearhead the CBCEW/Churches Together "Three Cheers for Coronavirus" campaign. Perhaps we could pencil all this in for the year after next?

The Clifton Creed also sees God as affirming that " ... everyone, ... and everyone  created is very good". (an oddish dittography here??) And "God has created each one of us without exception, in the Divine Image and likeness." 

This also is very, very, very, very true. Hitler was created in the Divine Image and likeness. And the Moors Murderers. and every murderer, rapist, and paedophile. And you and I. And torturers and burglars and embezzlers without exception, and warmongers and ...

But we also need to remember Sin, both Original and Actual. A human created in the Divine image may be flawed. Many people might, if pressed hard enough, eventually concede that Hitler was flawed. And some might go so far as to suspect that, in people with a pathological need to torture children to death, something has got in there and marred the Divine image. While maintaining the existence of the Divine image in everyone "without exception", surely we need to remember the obligation upon each of us without exception to seek out, repent for, and attempt (with the help of Divine Grace) to root out the corruptions within us, without exception

But if "without exception" were to mean that God has by universal Immaculate Conception made each human in such an unfallen perfection that everyone without exception is to be affirmed as they are, or as they say they are, we would have a rather dangerous error here. When (sic Clifton) "We rejoice with gratitude in ... the diverse identities of all human persons", we surely cannot bring all human sexual orientations and activities without exception under the innocent-sounding umbrella of all diverse human identities. Or not, anyway, as we read the IICSA reports on Abuse within the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Or, if we do want to emphasise the Divine Image and likeness in all paedophiles without exception, perhaps it would be tactful to wait a few months until IICSA is forgotten before we do so.

As an unrepentant Traddy, I would assert that recidivist paedophiles are 'objectively disordered'. But, nevertheless, they are, indeed, without exception, created by God, and in His Divine Image and likeness, which remains for ever however overladen by Sin. And such a person is called to Christ and welcomed to His Church, and is summoned to repentance, and is offered grace, and promised mercy no matter how many times she lapses, and promised eternal glory if she dies repentant. 

But if talk about "diverse identities of all human persons without exception" is really a neat, cheerful, if rather sly way of slipping into the discussion, unobserved, particular currently fashionable prescriptions or assumptions about sexual acts arising from 'same-sex orientations', then the Devil is at work here.  

Even in the Diocese of Clifton!

14 October 2020

Dominae et Magistrae

October 14, 1920, was the day when women first were granted degrees by the University. One week earlier, they had been matriculated: their admission took place within the Vice-Chancellorship of Herbert Blakiston, who had been a resolute opponent of granting degrees to women (he also, as President of Trinity, resisted strong government pressure to admit Indian undergraduates ... the lucky fellows went to Balliol instead). It must have been striking to sit in the Sheldonian Theatre and to hear the ancient formula grammatically adapted: "Dominae, scitote vos in matriculam Universitatis hodie relatas esse" (how was it pronounced? Dommi-nee, sigh-toe-tea vos in may-trick-you-lamb You-nee-virsy-tay-tiss  hod-eye-ee ree-lay-tass essee?)

I regard their Admission to Degrees at the Ancient House of Congregation the following week, a century ago today, as a most significant advance for the weaker and humbler sex, that is, for us chaps.

It created for us the delectable possibility of proposing Matrimony to a woman who was a graduate of this University, Domina et Magistra.

Back in 1920, Dorothy Sayers pulled strings to ensure that she was one of the first batch of women to be 'done at that memorable ceremony. Later, in her Gaudy Night, where she marries off Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane's final acceptance of his addresses is made to evoke a University  ceremony. In Wimsey, the once-male University affirms and respects the full status and integrity of women within the ancient continuum of the English and European academy.

Wimsey and Vane have emerged from a concert in Balliol (the institution which occasioned the best joke ever made about the architecture of an Oxford college, C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la gare) and they are walking down New College Lane to 'send their love to London River' ... 'the light wind fluttering their gowns as they walked'.


She stood still; and he stopped perforce and turned towards her. She laid both hands upon the fronts of his gown, looking into his face while she searched for the word that should carry her over the last difficult breach.

It was he who found it for her, With a gesture of submission he bared his head and stood gravely, the square cap dangling in his hand.

"Placetne, magistra?"


The Proctor, stumping grimly past with averted eyes, reflected that Oxford was losing all sense of dignity. But what could he do? If Senior Members of the University chose to stand--in their gowns, too!--closely and passionately embracing in New College Lane right under the Warden's windows, he was powerless to prevent it. He primly settled his white bands and went upon his walk unheeded; and no hand plucked his velvet sleeve.

(The Proctors patrolled the streets to keep order among the undergraduates; and at degree ceremonies performed a ritual walk among the Regent Masters to enable any Master to veto the graduation of a supplicant by plucking a proctorial sleeve. 'Placet' is the formal ceremonial assent to a formal proposal.)


13 October 2020

The Kingdom of England

Best wishes to foreign readers who have a soft spot for this realm, on this feast day of one of our greatest Saints, S Edward, King and Confessor. He is one of a tiny handful of our Saints whose relics still rest where they were before the Reformation. The Breviary Office makes a particular point of talking about his virginity. Oret pro nobis.

And we certainly need his prayers. The fragility of our social fabric can rarely have made us so manifestly vulnerable. Our government is in the hands of a man who sought power because he had an agenda: he wished to be the Churchillian figure whom History would remember as the man who, by 'getting Brexit done', restored the independance of England ... or do I mean Britain?

But Clio put paid to this unhumble ambition by whacking us with the plague. Johnson immediately adopted the policy of "following the Science". Fraudulent, of course, because there is no more a univocal 'Science' than there is a single Philology or just one Theology. But it served until this week, when the government had a final dust-up with its scientific advisers, resulting in the Chief Medical Officer ... a dry individual whose Mother I knew ... putting the boot in, and how publicly.

And there are the young people. They are currently turning up at their universities. We all know how idealistic youth are; numbers of them have recently been saving the planet by striking ... not going to school ... on Fridays ('Extinction Rebellion'). But the idealism and principled altruism of the young is rarely much better than skin-deep; beneath it is the fallen human nature common to us all, fuelled in their case by over-impetuous and very dirigiste hormones. Something called 'Freshers' Week' (which did not exist in our time) means that they begin their university career with a week of alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscuity. Here in Oxford, it was reported that when the 'junior deans' and a College Servant in a particular college tried to break up a disorder, they were ignored, and one undergraduate deliberately coughed over ...

Yes ... where was the Dean? Where was the Head of House? In a sense, we are reaping the harvest of the late 1960s, when the colleges abandoned any attempt to discipline the young, and made their profession a 10.00-5.00 job with much of the teaching farmed out to penniless doctoral students.

So now the Covid numbers are soaring in places where there are universities. 

And the Government, cut loose from any pretence of objective policy-making, is floundering helplessly. The Welsh are threatening to put Offa's Dyke back into commission to keep out the infectious English!

Yes ... we really  do need S Edward's prayers. And yours.

12 October 2020

But Robert Mickens ... (1)

With my usual admirable prescience, on Monday October 5, I wrote:

"Some of you might not like the following bit. PF seems to me less focussed on slandering Traddy clergy than he used to be in his old, carefree days. ... some orthodox edicts have emerged from the CDF with PF's say-so. Could it be ... has he belatedly realised that high church clerics and ecclesiastical millinary are no longer the Enemy's main threat ..."

According to La Croix, Mr Robert Mickens, formerly of The Tablet before the 'Rat's funeral' episode, is (like Baby in Private Eye) Very Angry.

"Should one criticise the pope -- for any reason whatever -- the Francis groupies and self-appointed interpreters of his every thought and action will brand that fratello (or sorella) as an ideologue. 

"'My pope, right or wrong.' That is understandable.

"But if you look at the pope's fiercest defenders, at least at those who seem to spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, the motto has turned into 'My pope is never wrong.'

"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. But he is only a human being. And like all human beings, he can be wrong. In fact, he has shown in the past -- as in the case of sex abuse in Chile, as just one example -- that he can be spectacularly and devastatingly wrong.

"His aides and so-called friends and fans do him no favours by jumping through hoops to defend him when his words and actions are indefensible."

Well, so you read it here first. PF is now apotheosed into being yet another of the Gods That Failed.

I simply adore the word "BUT" (vide supra). It is a glorious sparkling poppet of a word.

"You have worked for this firm for 38 years; always first into the office and the last to leave; your devotion led to the break-down of your marriage. And you have never sought pay rises. You are popular and have no enemies. The firm could not have survived its last crisis without your incredible sacrifice of yourself to its interests. BUT I am going to have to ... as we say ... 'let you go' ..."

"BUT" discounts in advance every consideration the victim might ... if allowed Parrhesia ... have advanced; "BUT" means "All the stuff I've just said is irrelevant, so don't bother to say it; only what follows is valid."

I like to imagine that the great Harry Clarke (whose luminous jewel-like glass in so many of her churches is one of Ireland's greatest glories) would have portrayed "BUT" (although an asomaton pneuma) as a darkly purple-winged figure with shining, black, inexorable eyes and a pitiless upraised right hand about to perform execution with a sharp and two-edged sword.

"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. BUT"

Mr Mickens never wrote a truer word. 


11 October 2020

Our Lady of Walsingham??

My suspicion is that the wooden "Madonna of Langham" in the V & A is, as the former Vicar of Little Walsingham Fr Michael Rear cogently argued (Catholic Herald 15 July 2019), 'really' the actual medieval statue of our Lady of Walsingham (why on earth do 'Art Historians', a largely illiterate gang of poseurs, so love the word 'Madonna'? Are they all compulsive and incurable Italophones?).

Father's evidence was circumstantial rather than direct, but, in my judgement, it is just about as strong as 'circumstantial' can get. I will not repeat the points he makes, but offer a remark or two about background.

It is clear that very many clergy and parishioners did a great deal to ensure that the agents of the Tudor regime and other would-be despoilers found very little left to loot. In some cases they may have been motivated even more by financial gain than by piety. Not only did our Lady of Ipswich get to Nettuno in Italy, but our Lady of Aberdeen made her way to the nether lands. To this day, some of Bishop Grandison's vestments are in the Azores! And there is an inventory of Exeter Cathedral made in advance of the despoliation under Edward VI which, when compared with the inventory of 1509, reveals what a truly vast amount of marketable objects had, in that half-century, 'walked'. 

Readers of Duffy (Voices) will recall the measures taken by Parson Trickay under Edward VI to 'launder' vestments and ornaments around Morebath parish; when Good Queen Mary came to the throne, his parishioners "like good Catholic men" brought everything back. And the Lichfield relics of S Chad, now in Pugin's Cathedral at Birmingham, were whisked away and secured in a farm. So there is a high contextual probability that OLW may have been ... looked after.

I can think of a rather jolly modern example of vulnerable cultic objects being hidden and replaced by substitutes. At S Hilary in Cornwall, after the Anglican courts ordered some 'illegal ornaments' to be removed from the Parish Church, Fr Bernard Walke, who had, as we Anglo-Papalists used to say, put a lot of Good Stuff into his church, had it all replaced by cheapo plaster substitutes just in case ...

... and, indeed, Mr Kensit's Protestant Truth Society did pay a violent visit, and did smash up the plaster substitutes. After Fr Ber and his parishioners had cleared up the mess, the Good Stuff was put back in place. When the prods discovered this neat sleight of hand, they regarded it as a typical example of jesuitical dishonesty and unEnglish underhandedness and Not Playing the Game.

Fr Rear points out the evidence that something has been chiselled away from between the feet of the "Langham Madonna", and links this with the account by Erasmus that OLW had a 'toadstone' (a fossilised fish tooth believed by medieval scientists to have curative properties) in exactly that place. Near here, at Sandford on Thames, a fine late-medieval statue of the Assumpta, buried in the churchyard and now in the church, has, beneath her feet, a tiny but carefully carved repository. It is too small to have been a tabernacle and I find it difficult to see how it could have been made a safe repository for a valuable relic (such as a fragment of our Lady's girdle ...). I wonder if a Toadstone could have been fixed into it.

Might the Sandford statue be our Lady of Oseney? Or our Lady of Abendon? Either of them could easily have got to Sandford by walking on the Thames ... and the local Family at Sandford would have been sympathetic ...

10 October 2020

More on Tutti Frutti

" ... I had a source of inspiration in my brother Bartholomew, the Orthodox Patriarch, who ..."etc.etc..

This is from the English version. Of languages which I can stumble through, the definite article is absent from the French. The comma after Patriarch is present only in the English (could someone give me a hand with the Polish?).

Does it matter?

Well, consider this: "I had dinner with Booboo, the king of Timbuctoo, who ...". It implies just one holder of that august regal title. Now consider: "I had dinner with Booboo an African chieftain who ..." It allows ... even, I think, requires ... a plurality of such dignitaries.

There are more Orthodox Patriarchs than just one. But the English phrase makes it sound as if there is only one such personage, "the Orthodox Patriarch". The direct article is reinforced by the comma, because, without the comma, you could read the sentence as meaning "Bartholomew, that particular one among the Orthodox Patriarchs who ..."

But what a waste of time, examining different translations ... isn't it inevitable that ...

No!! It is not inevitable! Time was, when important formal documents emerging from Rome would be in a dead language the juridical precision of which only rather rarely left ambiguities to be haggled over. 

But still ... does it really matter?

Just possibly, it might. His All-Holiness might not regard English as his first-to-turn-to language among those offered him by Rome, but his 'Minister of Foreign Affairs, Metropolitan Hilarion, did his Patristics in Oxford (under Timothy Ware) and he speaks English like an Englishman. He might, indeed, read this document in its English version. 

And the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Patriarch of Moskow and All the Russias, are not currently in communion. Is our most holy Father Cyril going to like it that PF regards Bartholomew as the Orthodox Patriarch?


9 October 2020


What a glorious day! The Feast/Sollemnitas of S John Henry Newman! 

For me, one of the most sacred spots in England is the little Oratory which is part of his Study within the Oratorian Palazzo in Birmingham. One side of the partition is the collection of his more personal books, memorials of the long life of study which linked his Anglican days with his Apostolate in the Catholic Church  ... a life which he insisted was an unbroken continuum of opposition to Liberalism and Relativism. On the other side, accompanying him every morning to the Altar, was the art-work done for him by one of the closest of his life-long friends, Maria Giberne. 

Everybody has their favourite Newman book. I love the wickedly satirical Loss and Gain with its portrait of 1840s Oxford ... and his Development of Christian Doctrine. His sermon about the Second Spring still gets the tears pricking behind my eyes. And his Grammar of Assent seems to me to anticipate the insights towards which some philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century so laboriously  trudged. And his analysis of the Syllabus Errorum meticulously, 'surgically', analyses the magisterial status of that document and of every paragraph within it. Rarely read now, it is a superb example of S John Henry's fierce conviction of the necessity of obedience towards the Successor of S Peter, combined with a cold and almost rationalist approach to exercises of the papal magisterium.

And Newman was a pastor; witness the care he took with souls who were much troubled by the hypersuperultrapapalists and their ridiculous exaggeration of the authority of Pio Nono.

S John Henry had to wait for the Election of Papa Pecci before he received proper honours. May we hope for a Leo XIV? Subito!

8 October 2020


 Documents emerging from the Domus Sanctae Marthae often seem to beg the questions: Is this part of the Magistrium? If it is, at what level?

Fortunately, PF has given a clear answer to this question. "In the preparation of Laudato si, I had a source of inspiration in my brother Bartholomew, the Orthodox Patriarch, who has spoken forcefully of our need to care for creation. In this case, I have felt particularly encouraged by the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. with whom I met in Abu Dhabi, where we declared that 'God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties, and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.' This was no mere diplomatic gesture, but a reflection born of dialogue and common commitment. The present Encyclical takes up and develops some of the great themes raised in the Document that we both signed. I have also incorporated, along with my own thoughts, a number of letters, documents and considerations that I have received from many individuals and groups throughout the world."

You coudn't want a more honest admission that this document is not the result of searching the Scriptures, examining the Fathers, scrutinising the arguments of the schoolmen; the manualists and the liturgy, as well as the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils of two millennia, have not been ransacked. "My own thoughts" have played a large role; and so have materials received from "many individuals and groups".

Readers of this blog will not need this umpteenth reiteration of the teaching of Vatican I: that the Holy Spirit is promised to the Successors of S Peter so that, by His help, they may religiously guard and devoutly put forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; the Deposit of Faith. In Tutti Frutti there is so sense that the Bishop of Rome is setting forth what he has received from the long line of his predecessors. Primacy is accorded to "my own thoughts". Vatican II may have discussed whether Scripture and Tradition make up one 'Source of Revelation' or two; but little more than half-a-century later, both of these have been smoothly displaced by "my own thoughts".

I expect this lengthy document will, confusingly, appear in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, but even that cannot cancel out the frank ... indeed, forcefully situated ... admission in paragraph 5.

Benedict XVI did the same when he presented Jesus of Nazareth. "It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search ... Everyone is free, then, to contradict me".

Different words; different men. But the point is the same.



7 October 2020

VM Day ... Arma Feminamque cano!

VE Day ... VJ Day ... we've had so many Victories to commemorate this year! And  ... On this annual commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto, surely we are right to open a bottles to Victory of Mary Day.

It is even more topical this year, when everybody is so enormously excited and politically correct about Slavery. G K Chesterton reminded us of all the Christian Galley Slaves whose freedom followed the smashing of the Turkish Battle Fleet. 

Writing a poem about a Spanish sea victory is not really the sort of thing that proper Englishmen do; we were brought up on stories about the defeat of the Armada. And that 'English Victory' was woven seamlessly into a consistent narrative of our Island Race protected by our Silver Sea against Philip of Spain and Buonaparte and Hitler, who were all foreigners. But ... surely ... we Catholics are counter-cultural; in other words, when British politicians preach fatuous sermons about British Values, it serves simply to remind us that the British Values they prose on about are imposters dancing on the graves of the English Catholic martyrs; cavorting and absurd Whig clowns hypocritical in their Phrygian caps.

Perhaps we need a gallant band of Christian youth to go on a cutting-out expedition ... today!! ... and recover the Ottoman flags captured at Lepanto, which poor Montini alienated. What a wonderful piece of news that would be in tomorrow's headlines!

Chesterton reminds his readers that the Turkish galleys at Lepanto had Christian slaves labouring deep within them, each witless in his quiet room in hell / Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell, / And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign. But as we take up the joyful story ...

 ... Don John of Austria has burst the battle line!

Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for the bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

     Vivat Hispania!
     Domino Gloria!
     Don John of Austria 
     Has set his people free!

6 October 2020

Septemebr 24 ... queries

 ... was, of course the Solemnity of our Lady of Walsingam, although, previously, the feast of our Lady of Ransom. A great day. And it was also the day on which, after Pontifical High Mass from the throne, the reliquiae of Archbishop Lefebvre were translated to a new tomb in the crypt of the Church of our Lady's Immaculate Heart. The entire event is linked by Fr Zed; it is well done and good to watch.

It was pleasant to see Bishop Fellay officiating; he deserves to be remembered as the only bishop ... sole representative of the Collegium Universale Episcoporum ... to join in the signing of the Correctio Filialis. Ad multos annos, Domne.

The Mass was that of Mary's Immaculate Heart. Is such a celebration on that particular day part of the SSPX's general use, or, perhaps, a local usage in Econe?

Could someone-in-the-know tell me: Is that Church part of the complex at Econe? 

There was a statement that the event represented the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Econe (or of the SSPX?). But in Bishop Tissier's fine biography of the Great Archbishop, I can find no particular event recorded as of this particular day in 1970. 

Knowing that the Archbishop disavowed any suggestion of conferring jurisdiction on the four bishops he consecrated in 1988, I wonder when they adopted the liturgical use of the crozier and the episcopal throne (I noticed that, above the throne, Bishop Fellay's Arms are displayed ... they are also on the candles ... but simply his own [assumed?] arms with no impalement).

I mean no disrespect by the following observation: as the Bishop, after the Praeparatio at the foot of the Altar walked up the steps, he started from his left foot. This is a detail I tend to notice because, as a seminarian back in 1966, this was the first mistake I made in my first Mass practice. Canon Allen was quick to correct me! (Was this a Staggers idiosyncrasy?)

5 October 2020

Dots galore. Do you have a pencil handy? I invite you to join me on a ramble ...

Even elderly readers may remember those sweet pages in children's puzzle books where the Tiny is invited to join up the dots; and ... behold! ... as if by magic a picture appears before his very eyes. Or her eyes. Or its eyes. Oh ... d*mn ... why can't you do the pronouns?

Dots. It's a bit like that in Rome now, it seems to me. How would you join up these dots:

(1) Bishop Becciu has renounced the legal rights of his cardinal's status (echoes of Henry VIII's order that the Blissful Martyr be henceforth referred to as 'Bishop Becket');

(2) A prosecutor has been appointed in Rome; and 

(3) Cardinal Pell ... he who found so much money stuffed down the backs of so many sofas in so many Roman dicasteries ... is in the air flying back to the Eternal City. 

So what do you get from these dots? Vide infra ad pedem.

The mystery of the $A700,000 which made its way to Oz is entertaining those people who love to make connections (aka 'Conspiracy Theorists'); and folks are suddenly remembering old news stories ... such as the reports last year that BB devoted quite a lot of Simon bar Jonah's shekels to a film ... do we use the term 'biopic'? ... about Sir Elton John.

Some transpontine readers may be in need of context here. Sir Elton is one of our National Treasures, a status based upon his friendship with an unwholesome woman called Diana Spencer. He is a homosexual, and, when he visited Oxford, an undergraduate newspaper recorded him as calling Pope Benedict XVI an "arsehole". That detail failed, I think, to get into the national press: I suspect this omission might just possibly have happened because it is important to censor from the record anything that might make people realise just what a very nasty piece of work this National Treasure is. 

Vladimir Vladimirovich, however, is a bit deficient in respect towards our poor little island and even its equites auratae. So, in Russkieland, the film had its 'gay sex' sequences censored. I'd better not say "Good for him" because you might attack me for being too soft on Russkies (I'm not ... timeo Scythos et venena ferentes ...). 

BTW, I wonder what Vladimir V P makes of the troubles facing the Armenians at this moment. The World really does need a Russia mindful of its historic role as protector of Christian minorities in the Middle East. Because it rather looks as if some of Mr Erdogan's sidekicks might be tempted to a dash of 'ethnic cleansing' in the spirit of the genocide of Armenians in the first decades of the last century, a genocide which of course never happened. (What a busy lot they are ... plundering Greek marine resources ... terminating Kurds ... making Hagia Sophia into a mosque ... it does them immense credit that they also have time to ... er ...).

Earlier in his pontificate, PF was quite brave in being explicit about the Armenian genocide. It would be nice if he said something now, before any new genocide happens to Christian Armenian people. Which, of course, is impossible because, er, there never was an old genocide.

Some of you might not like the following bit: PF seems to me less focussed on slandering traddy clergy than he used to be in his old, carefree days. I wonder if the erudite, specialist researcher in Brighton who used to collect Papal Insults has been able to add many new gems to his lexicon in the last year or so. Have the delights of Coprophagia featured in recent numbers of Acta Apostolicae Sedis? And some orthodox edicts have emerged from the CDF with PF's say-so. Could it be ... has he belatedly realised that high church clerics and ecclesiastical millinery are no longer the Enemy's main threat to the Kingdom of God in this Third Millennium?? 

Or is he just too busy, what with one thing ... and another ...

Which brings me back to the dots.


4 October 2020

Our Lady of Victories; and S John Henry Newman

As your St Lawrence Press (Old Mass) ORDO will remind you, today we are entitled to celebrate an External Solemnity of our Lady of the Rosary. And I probably don't need to remind readers of this blog that the original title of this celebration was our Lady of Victory.

And I do remind you that next Sunday, October 11, until the time of Pius XII, was the feast of the Maternity of our Lady; it was extended to the whole (Latin) Church in 1931 by Pius XI to celebrate the 15th centenary of the Council of Ephesus; and he took care on this occasion also to refer to Casti Connubii [he had issued that bull in 1930] and the education of the young [Divini illius Magistri came out in 1929]. Moving on through October, in aliquibus locis the following Sunday commemorated Mary's Purity and the Sunday after that, her Patronage (Patrocinium).

What a wealth of teaching, in fact, came thus to us from the Liturgy and, indeed, from the Popes of the decades beteen Vatican I and Vatican II. Pius XI was pre-eminent among these; and you should not need me to recall that it was he who in 1925 instituted the Feast of Christ the King. This, of course, was so altered in meaning after Vatican II as effectively to have been abolished. This 'reform' was perhaps the single most destructive of the changes made by the trio de maniaques who, according to Louis Bouyer, 'revised' the Calendar. Archbishop Lefebvre's volume They have uncrowned Him (Angelus Press) gives information upon the background of this.

On October 9, S John Henry Newman may, in accordance with the CDF legislation of last March for the Extraordinary Form, be observed. When this is done, the Divine Office may be of the Saint. For the time being, the Common will have to be used. In the Ordinariate, our Patron is a First Class feast with a First Vespers. And, in the Ordinariate, the newly authorised Preface Of Patrons may be used (it was composed originally for the Paris Missal of 1738).

In the Ordinary Form, S John Henry is now a festum within England and Wales.

3 October 2020

The First Day of Sukkot

I hadn't even taken my skull cap with me. 

The young boy, who looked about eight years old, nevertheless, having peered at my countenance, seemed convinced that I must be Jewish and offered me a palm branch. That's New York for you. 

 Today brings us to the First Day of the great Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot. And I am among those who are convinced that the psalm we Latin clergy use in the Latin Divine Office every Sunday morning of the year was composed in or for the first great joyful celebration of Sukkot after the completion of the Second Temple. 

 Readers of this blog are unlikely to need to be reminded that the unspeakable Name of the Jewish God, the consonants of which are YHWH (the 'Tetragrammaton'), is expressed, when someone is praying or reading aloud, by the Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, or English and whatever, word LORD (when this is happening, bibles in the Anglican tradition print LORD in capitals to remind us that what the Hebrew actually reads is YHWH). Clergy who in their Office say, over and over again, the psalms, will have noticed how LORD, Dominus, functions quite differently from any other word for the Deity. 'God' might mean just 'God' but YHWH (LORD) means God-of-Israel. The word often occurs in close relationship with mentions of Israel, or Israel as sharply distinguished from the gentile nations, or the need of the Nations to submit to the God of Israel, or the Holy City, or the Temple in which the Name YHWH is present in power. Its every occurrence summons us from every Ba'al or Asherah or Pachamama of our idolatrous natures to the one and only God, the God of Israel.

And Sukkot is (Leviticus 23:39) the Feast of YHWH; sometimes just 'the Feast'. Josephus informed his Hellenic readers that it is the holiest and greatest of Hebrew feasts. So try looking at psalm 117 (Vulgate number; 118 in the Masoretic text). And you will find that this exuberant, repetitive text is about




YHWH and, yes,

YHWH ... all the way through. 'Open to me the gates ...' as the procession arrives at he Temple. 'Blessed be he who enters in the Name of YHWH!' 'We bless you from the house of YHWH! ''Bind the festal procession with branches up to the horn of the Altar'!. 'This is the Day which YHWH has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it!' 

The LORD'S Day! Dies Dominica ... Dimanche ... Domenica ... Diumenge ... Domingo ... Duminica ... Kyriake ... in language after language (excepting our barbarous Northern dialects) the very name of the LORD's Day reminds us that it is the great Festival of the Name of YHWH, the LORD. 

Every Sunday is our great Sukkot; and we should pray that the little New Yorker who accosted me, and all his People, may turn and recognise the Stone which the builders rejected as the Head of the corner, and may come to join us in the Temple of YHWH and offer with us the true Lamb and share the Blood of the Covenant.  'This is YHWH's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes'. Gratias agamus YHWH Deo nostro!

His steadfast love endures for ever!

2 October 2020


Ah, this exquisitely Marian month ... this month of Lepanto ... month of the Virgo Potens, Our Lady of Victories, the Hupermakhos Strategos ... let's contemplate one of our Lady's oldest and most ecumenical titles. (There is a thread dating from an earlier version of this piece.)

EVERVIRGIN, SEMPER VIRGO, AEIPARTHENOS, has been a title of our Lady from the earliest days; it appears, albeit obiter, in the documents of Ecumenical Councils from Chalcedon onwards. It still appears (confiteor; Communicantes) in the Novus Ordo Mass; was rather more frequent in the Classical Roman Rite; and pops up very often in the Byzantine Rite. It is part of the Church's Marian dogma, and was treated respectfully, if rather evasively, by the ARCIC document on Mary. Non-Catholics sneer at it. The great Tom Wright is dismissive ... well, he would be, wouldn't he? It must be lovely being so infallible ... Let's consider the question in the form of a 'Socratic' Dialogue.

Haereticus: The Gospels make it quite clear that Jesus had brothers.
Catholicus: They don't. Adelphoi can mean kinsmen. It doesn't have to mean uterine (that is, born-of-the-same-womb) brothers.
So you say. But that's the obvious meaning if anyone talks about "Jesus' brothers" in any language, isn't it? 
 Not at all. S Mark's and S Matthew's Gospels, in their accounts of the Crucifixion, both talk about "Mary the mother of James and Joses [or Joseph]". If this Mary had been the same as Christ's own mother, it would have been very odd for them not to refer to her as the Mother of Jesus. The "obvious" and natural inference is that the "Mother of James and Joses" was a different Mary from "Mary the Mother of Jesus".
So what?
Well, in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55, the places where those "brothers of Jesus" are mentioned, the full text reads: " Jesus the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses [or Joseph] and Judas and Simon". We've just seen that this James and this Joses are apparently the sons of some Mary who was not the same as Mary the Mother of Jesus. And they're the first two on the list here. The list is thus clearly not itemising individuals who were uterine brothers of Jesus.
Well, I still think it's obvious that ...
If it's so "obvious", you've got some explaining to do. Throughout the second century the Gospels were increasingly regarded as 'canonical' and authoritative. If it is so "obvious" that James and the rest of those listed in the Gospels were uterine brothers of Jesus, then the tradition that Jesus was Mary's only child must have arisen well before those Gospels came to be regarded as authorities. Otherwise, when somebody started saying "she never had any more children", somebody who had read the Gospels would have said "Aha, you're wrong: here's a list of his brothers". So, if you're right about it being so "obvious", you're going to have to admit that Mary's perpetual virginity is so early a tradition as to predate the acquisition of authority by our Four Gospels; which modern scholarship dates to the beginning of the second century at the latest. I've got you either way.
That's all gobbledegook. It's obvious ...
That's the problem with you Prods and you Liberals. You're impervious to evidence and to reason.
Of course we are. "Reason is the Devil's Whore". Martin Luther said so. It's obvious.

1 October 2020


Cupidine motus visitandi Summum Pontificem Benedictum XIV, et Museum nostrum Ashmoleanum ingressus, laetum pontificem et quasi iocis circumfusum inveni. Qui rem sic mihi totam lepide exposuit.

"Somnium vidi; in quo Cardinalis degradandus degradatatus est. Quod autem ad risum me maxime commovit erat istud: in illo somnio audivi, et clare audivi, omnia quae dicta sunt. Sed hoc quoque accidit: in mente mea sensi ea quae non voce sed mente innuebantur ... et haec quoque lingua vestra barbarica Anglica sensi!!

"Inductum vidi degradandum in Basilicam beati Petri et usque ad pedes Romani Pontificis tractum; ubi Signum Pacis a Papa datum est degradando, his verbis: Fili carissime, salus tibi et pax. Sed novi et hoc paene tacitum subaudivi: You ----- ------ , you've made me look stupid! Cui palam respondit degradandus Et tibi, beatissime Pater, sed ad aures meas verba *** you, Fanny clam pervenerunt. Pontifex iussit Cappam Magnam ab humeris degradando demi et ipse Galerum sua manu a capite amovit dicens Auctoritate beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, huius usum a te tollimus, Anglice autem Well, Sunshine, you won't be needing this any more now. Degradandus debita humilitate respondit Quod a te accepi, tibi fidelis reddo nisi quod Anglice cogitavit Would you like me to tell you where you can put it?

"Degradatus inde ductus est per frequentissimos ordines S R E Cardinalium quorum omnes ei dixerunt Misereatur tui Omnipotens Deus ... Anglice autem Jolly jolly rotten luck, old man, jolly jolly jolly rotten luck seu fortasse Rather you than me. Cum ad ostium Ecclesiae perventum esset, Georgius Cardinalis Pell et Archiepiscopus Carolus Maria Vigano ... ii enim degradatum ducebant ... eum tradiderunt Equitibus quibusdam Melitensibus ibi casu exspectantibus, et ...

"Mirabiliora!! Hic omnia mutata sunt ... quoties vero in somniis hoc accidit?! Audivi verba aperta Anglice; sensus eorum nunc subaudiebatur Latine. Go and buy him a nice big pizza voce magna dicebatur; Ite Tortores et munus vestrum adimplete intus audivi.

"Post breve tempus, redeuntes Equites clamaverunt Anglice He's had it [i.e. the pizza], Latine autem illud Marci Tulli sensi verbum Vixit.

"A schola Sixtina tunc inchoatus est hymnus Te Deum laudamus, et campanae Ecclesiae magno concentu concrepuerunt; Plebs Sancta Dei gaudium suum et pietatem cantilenis saltationibus Baccho Cerere ostenderunt.

"Cardinalis vero et Archiepiscopus praedicti ad Pontificem regressi et provoluti dixerunt Ad Multos Annos Domine, Anglice autem We did try to tell you."

Ab his denique Sanctissimus Dominus Noster Benedictus papa XIV tacuit.

Pontifici audenter ego susurravi "Wuerl? Cupich?"

Caput eius marmoreum annuere visum est, labia quamvis lapidea cacchinare.

30 September 2020

Australia, Anglicans, and the Confessional (2)

I believe that a very serious situation is arising for ecumenical dialogue, and especially for the now-pointless (but still-expensive) organisation called ARCIC. This dialogue was set up on the explicit premise that the old disagreements would be sorted out, and that neither 'side' would put in place new divergences. I wonder if this question of the Seal of the Confessional has ever been discussed at any level of 'ecumenical dialogue', nationally or internationally. Whether or not it has been, the Australian branch of Mr Welby's little enterprise has legislated to go along with excluding sexual abuse from the Seal of the Confessional.

This is the story of ARCIC from beginning to end. Hunwicke's First Law of Ecumenism is: ARCIC NEVER DISCUSSES ANYTHING RELEVANT. ARCIC started in a decade when the chickens of Lambeth 1932 were coming home to roost: questions of sexual morality were the issue of the day. These, in turn, bear upon the more basic question of the twentieth and twenty first centuries: whether Christians should resist, or follow, the Spirit and fashions of the Age. So what did negotiators do? They buried their noses in Transubstantiation.

A little later, the Evangelicals wanted 'Justification' dealt with (Newman had disposed of it in a couple of hilarious pages in chapter XVII of Loss and Gain ... but no matter). At that time, in fact, the 'New Look' on S Paul had received broad adherence among Pauline scholars ... Ed Sanders ... Covenantal Nomism ... but the ARCIC wonderboys ignored all that and situated their discussions entirely within the cobwebby categories of three centuries of Prod scholasticism.

Of course, the ARCIC understanding that neither side would introduce new divergences had to be bull-dozed out of the way in order to allow for the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries within most Anglican provinces. But today's new divergence concering the seal of the Confessional is, in some ways, even graver. You see, with the Anglicans going down this path, matters will become much more difficult for Catholic clergy who may be prosecuted for not delating paedophile penitents. Catholic clergy will have been hung out to dry by their Anglican 'friends'.

The Anglicans will also have made it easier for Catholic priests to be sent to prison for contempt of court ... because, of course, a Catholic priest in the witness box is unable even to say "I never heard that in my Confessional", because one is not allowed to say anything about what transpires there. Or even to indicate it by a nod or a wink or a hint or an allusion.

Some moralists used to argue that one could deny having heard something in the confessional by assuming "I heard it while acting as a conduit to God; I did not hear it qua Father X". But this could have the unfortunate effect of providing a court with evidence which could let a guilty defendant off the hook.

And it's even nastier than that. Anglican clergy probably hear very few confessions compared with the numbers that Catholic clergy hear. So the Anglicans are abandoning their Catholic 'partners in ecumenical dialogue' to be persecuted by the agents of the Zeitgeist with regard to a subject which really matters very little to the overwhelming majority of  Anglicans.

Well, so be it. It's a shame the Anglicans are so willing to kick Catholics in the teeth, especially after all those hypocritical decades of wet nonsense about 'Ecumenism'. Perhaps it's just that they find it so terribly hard to get out of the habit of persecuting us. But there is no need to worry, is there: in a century or two, with tears of emotion in their eyes, their successors will formally apologise to our successors. That will make everything All Right, won't it?

In the mean time, we should stop wasting time on dialogue, and tell the Anglicans what they can do with their ARCIC.

29 September 2020

A la billabong (1)

It is reported that the Queensland parliament has joined other Australian legislatures in providing for the imprisonment of Catholic Priests for performing priestly functions.

I do not want to get into the question of whether or not it would in fact help to stamp out the sexual abuse of children for priests to break the seal of the confessional. That is a prudential matter; and, in purely prudential matters, what Oz does in none of my business. I simply wish to point out, as the Holy See has done, that this touches on Divine Law ... which, for Catholics everywhere, is not negotiable. When the Law of God and the Catholic Faith are attacked in any place on this planet, all Catholics are attacked.

The idea of a priest being imprisoned for three years for doing what God commissioned him to do is chilling. Not since the Catholic Relief Act of 1791, I think, have priests in my country been at risk of imprisonment for performing their sacramental duties. One hears of harsh forms of religious oppression in countries such as China; I wonder if some members of these Australian parliaments might even have hypocritically joined in protests. But the full extent of the current world-wide campaigns against Christianity is to me so much more vividly real when the persecution happens, not in Peking, but in English-speaking countries with a rule of law based on the Common Law and derived ultimately from our own legal system. It could even happen here! To me!

One can understand violent reactions occurring among angry people; after all, abused children can be, sometimes are, damaged, harmed, for life. Indeed, during the Irish troubles, when bombs were being exploded in Ulster and London and Birmingham, people were left dead ... and, indeed, living survivors were left harmed and damaged, in both mind and body. But I don't remember serious legislative proposals being taken forward in our legislatures based on the supposition that the answer to the problem lay in locking up Catholic Priests. I concede that we may be daft; but we are not quite as daft as the legislators of Queensland.

Mind you, the Queensland legislation could have hilarious results if the clergy were foolish enough to take it seriously, especially in a large cathedral before one of the major festivals. Imagine the scene ... raised voices in the confessional ... man (or woman) comes out and swiftly merges into the people kneeling in prayer, followed a moment later by the priest with his surplice fluttering and his stole awry, shouting "Where are you? Come back! The last person in my confessional! Come back! I need your name, address, email, twitter, and facebook details to give to the police!" Uncertain which of the kneeling people is the culprit, Father goes up to them one by one ... " Speak to me! If I hear your voice, I may be able to recognise it! Is it you? Or is it you? Or you? Do you want to make me spend Christmas in a police cell eating curried Kangaroo?".

The jolly swagmen, and the often even jollier swagwomen, in those potty little parliaments should be dragged away to the nearest billabong and humanely drowned.

No; I didn't mean that ... just jest ... no harm in the world ...