23 April 2018

Urban VI ...

... was the Pope whose personal failings, including an irascible inclination to torture and execute his Cardinals, led to the Great Western Schism.

There were very serious grounds for suspecting that his election, in 1378, was invalid on account of duress; the Cardinal Electors were under the menace of being torn to pieces by the Roman mob. Indeed, the dear little 1958 CTS pamphlet listing the popes, which never leaves my desk, says simply that his election "has been generally deemed valid" ... not a very wholehearted or ringing endorsement.

A few months later, most of the Cardinals repudiated their allegiance and declared the election invalid.

Yet he is always included nowadays in the list of 'genuine' popes, and the prelate, 'Clement VII', whom the Cardinals then elected in his place, is relegated to the list of 'antipopes'.

It was not until 1429, when 'Clement VIII' abdicated, that Christendom at last had only one claimant to the See of Peter.

Half a century of Schism.

Why am I reminding you of this?

Because, in our present crisis, glib people talk easily about getting rid of flawed popes. Urban VI was, surely, in the half-dozen most flawed popes ever, but securing the consent and collaboration to get rid of him was found to be difficult ... nay rather, in view of the fact that he never was successfully disposed of, one might say 'impossible'.

And, during that half-century, there never was an undisputed pope. Indeed, from 1409 until 1415, there were as many as three claimants simultaneously disputing the cathedra Petri.

I feel that this demonstrates the immense dangers of approaching ecclesial crises with simplistic 'remedies'.

Devising fictional solutions to real problems is no answer. Prayer and the bearing of witness are the Catholic remedy.

22 April 2018

Episcopal Jurisdiction

A month or so ago, someone asked an acute question. I had made some remarks about Incardination. The 'someone' had remembered my constant teaching in the past about how a Particular Church consists of Bishop, Presbyterate, Diaconate, Laos, bound together structurally and sacramentally. So How Come that I appeared now to be advocating a situation in which a presbyter might not be bound by incardination to his Bishop ... or, putting it differently, to his Particular Church?

There are large problems about the roles and relationships of the Three Orders in the modern Latin Church. For example; Deacons were supposed to be the outreach of the Bishop for property, and for notifying him about the needs of the poor, and that sort of thing [forget the silly twentieth century myth that they represent Ministry to the Poor and Disadvantaged ... that's nonsense, and if you want to, you can look at my articles on the Diaconate via the Search Engine on this Blog]. By the twentieth century, deacons had become apprentice priests, young clerics moving through the Diaconate to the Presbyterate in just six months or so. The changes following Vatican II introduced a permanent Diaconate of often part-time parochial assistants. (I had better add that Bishop Egan of Portsmouth does have a real ante-Nicene Deacon, who runs his diocesan finances and quite a lot besides this. But Dr Egan is not an ordinary bishop). If married diaconal viri probati are allowed to be ordained to the presbyterate, Permanent Deacons will have disappeared in a generation. Betcha.

Episcopacy is in a right old mess, too. As we all know, earlier Christian centuries regarded it as adultery for a bishop to move from See to See. Now ... er ...

And, even worse, the Episcopal Character is devalued by being sprayed like cheap and vulgar confetti all over bureaucrats and diplomats. Nuncios need to be 'Archbishops', it seems, to give them status vis-a-vis local hierarchs. Dicasterial Secretaries also have a status that ineluctably demands that they be adorned with a mitre. There may be few things that Walter Kasper and I agree upon, but one of them concerns this particular corruption: the idea that Episcopacy is essentially all about status in a bureaucratic pecking order. Curiously, PF is normally vastly impressed by Cardinal Kasper, but not in this particular matter. I wonder why.

And Presbyters? In earlier centuries, the presbyterate was the executive committee of the Particular Church. The evidence suggests that a Bishop could not even ordain a subdeacon without the permission of the Presbyterate; could not, while the system of public Penance continued, absolve a grave sinner without the consent of his presbyters. Dom Gregory Dix gathered materials (Jurisdiction in the Early Church: Episcopal and Papal) suggesting that, in the first centuries, the Bishop was the High Priest and Apostolic Teacher of his Church; jurisdiction in anything remotely like our sense resided in the Presbyterate.

It would, of course, be childish to advocate turning all these clocks back to A.D. 300. Nor am I foolishly advocating a rebellious or cantankerous attitude towards those who occupy the structures prescribed by the present Code of Canon Law. On the contrary. How could that serve the Kingship of Christ?

However, nothing stays the same; and, as we face moving on, it is a good idea to have clear and accurate notion of where North, South, East, and West all lie. It may indeed be some time before the Latin Church radically recalibrates its current Ministerial Structures. But I think it is worth turning a bit of a spotlight on the most dysfunctional area of Ministry: the Episcopate. Bishops are a thoroughly problematic feature in the post-conciliar Church; some of them are currently trying to claw in power from the Church Universal or to set themselves above Tradition; and simultaneously they crave more power over their own presbyters and deacons. Some of them have a curious idea that 'Subsidiarity' means 'All power to the Bishop' or 'All power to the Conference' or 'All power to the Conference's Bureaucracy'. As I argued recently, this culture may lead to problems in spheres including the liturgical, if overblown bishops or conferences or bureaucracies regard themselves as liberated from regulation, above Tradition, and wilfully attempt to force their own whimsical liturgical preferences on presbyters and people.

What might the distant future hold in terms of a restored episcopate? Perhaps some of us did experience just a merest, tiniest hint of that when, in an apostate Church of England, 'Flying Bishops' provided us with a pastoral and priestly model of Episcopacy. I remember Mgr Barnes, now the emeritus Bishop of Richborough, saying "Fathers, remember that we have no jurisdiction but what you give us". Yet it was those men who "had no jurisdiction" who gathered a People for God in the days that led up to the erection of the Ordinariates.

21 April 2018

S Paul VI? A Jigsaw.

I hope readers will have seen the article in the Settimo Cielo Blog, concerning new information about what Blessed Paul VI really thought concerning the liturgical 'reforms' which Hannibal Bugnini deceived him into approving. Paolo VI. Una storia minima, by Mgr Leonardo Sapienza, clearly contains reliable archival information about Papa Montini and the years in which he uneasily used the Liturgy he had himself authorised. Sapienza publishes diaries in which Virgilio Noe, then the Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, noted the daily remarks of the Pontiff. This looks to me like another piece of a jigsaw which has been forming in my mind for some time.

This source sits very comfortably beside the account given by Montini's friend Louis Bouyer.

It renders more believable the well-known story about Pope Paul's surprise that he had abolished the Pentecost Octave.

It also fits neatly into the account given by Dom Cassian Folsom a few years ago in Adoremus; in which he meticulously demonstrated that the disastrous events (such as the authorisation of alternative 'Eucharistic Prayers') by which the Roman Rite was so horribly corrupted, were the result of the Pontiff being persuaded that the liturgical chaos throughout the liberal West (at that time, more than 200 rogue EPs were circulating unauthorised, for example) could only be brought under any sort of control by a very limited number of alternative Eucharistic Prayers, under the careful direction of Rome, being permitted.

Another important piece of the jigsaw is contained in the fine biography of Archbishop Lefebvre by His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. This demonstrates that Pope Paul's mind could only be poisoned against the Archbishop by the gross and palpable lies which his enemies put into the pope's ears. They assured Paul that, in the SSPX, the Old Mass was promoted simply as a banner of anti-papal rebellion; that Lefebvre made his seminarians swear an oath against the pope. In other words, those evil and mendacious men realised that affection for the Mass of Ages would, of itself, be insufficient to corrupt Montini's view of the Great Archbishop. God forgive them for what they did.

Indeed, Papa Montini was, in the words of his predecessor, un po' amletico. He is not one of my heroes. All the same ... and I know some readers will disagree with me ... my personal judgement is that he was not an evil man, and I am willing to accept the Church's judgement about his current location. So, as we draw closer to his canonisation, I feel it is good and timely to begin to come to a more balanced picture on the man whose weak capitulations to devious men did undoubtedly lead to the greatest calamity in Latin Christianity since the Reformation. As he himself perceived (another piece of jigsaw here), the smoke was indeed of Satan; and Montini's failures arose mainly from his poor judgements upon those competing for his ear.

When Pope Paul learned the truth, he lost little time in heaving Bugnini, mitre, zucchetto, (?)apron and all, out of Rome, and over the hills and far away. That I regard as the final piece of the jigsaw.

It is clear that in some circles, this canonisation is being promoted as a political move to fasten down upon the Church a particular understanding of Vatican II, indeed, a hermeneutic Magisterially condemned by Benedict XVI. In God's providence, it may be that a fuller understanding of the real Paul VI will frustrate that knavish trick. 

Does anybody seriously think that the author of Humanae vitae would have favoured a regime bent upon promoting the acceptability of habitual Adultery?

I shall not enable comments on B Paul VI which seem to me to be merely abusive.

20 April 2018

Habemus Papam!

Looking back to those happy days when Pope Benedict was elected, I recall two video clips which I would like to see again. This is how I remember them. Any links?

(1) Margaret Hebblethwaite, small red-haired widow of  an ex-Jesuit whose 'papal biographies' were far from reliable, was caught on camera at the moment the white smoke went up, in shrill panic. She knew that, for an election to have been made so soon, "It must be Ratzinger".

(2) The same lady, later on, trying to button-hole Cormack Murphy O'Connor and being shouldered aside. Poor Cormack looked as though he had his own grief-management problems ...


"UNHELPFUL". That was the word used by Boris Johnson's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to describe a mission last Saturday. Members of the House of Lords, and some Anglican Clergy, went to Damascus.

They included Michael Langrish, emeritus Bishop of Exeter. I spent some years in his Diocese; I can assure you that he is not an eccentric; not some wild firebrand; not a barmy Trot.

They met Syrian hierarchs and politicians. They went to the Liturgy on Sunday.

I was not previously aware through the British Media of the united statement by three Patriarchs of Syrian Churches, both Catholic and dissident, condemning the recent Western military intervention in Syria. Such things just don't seem to grab the headlines, do they? Western politicians and journalists never have shown the slightest interest in the beleaguered Christian communities which have lived in the Middle East since centuries before Islam was even invented. Considering the determination of the cultural elites here in the West to destroy the last remnants of Christendom in our own sick and depopulating countries, this is hardly surprising.

What we are seeing in Syria is simply the current stage of  'the Arab Spring' so enthusiastically encouraged by Western politicians. While they were cheering it on, they never thought it would lead to anything like the Syrian catastrophe. Of course not. They anticipated a comfortable domino effect of regime-change which would lead to "Parliamentary Democracy" throughout the Middle East ... you know, Black Rod, the Mace, State Opening of Parliament, and all that.

President Assad of Syria, despite his British background, unaccountably refused to act out the script they had written for him. He probably felt nervous reservations about being hauled out of a sewer, sodomised with a knife, and then shot, like Gaddhafi in Libya. It's all a matter of these little details of perspective, isn't it? Middle-Easterners often haven't been to Eton and so they don't see things in the same balanced sort of way that Boris does. Western politicians have never forgiven Assad for this appalling lack of good manners in refusing to walk down the path they had mapped out for him. For a decade, their foolish mantra has been "Assad must go; ruat caelum".

There have been atrocities galore in Syria. I don't applaud anybody who has had any part in any of them. And, among those who seem to me to have a big share of guilty responsibility, are all the Western politicians who encouraged "the Syrian moderate opposition" to believe that, were they to take up arms against Assad, they would get our support. Nod Nod, Wink Wink. Until: "Oops-a-daisy there's a Russky round the corner. Sorry; you're on your own after all".

I do wish that the political class in my country could grasp that political situations are rarely as univocally straightforward as they like to believe. Stuff ... the unexpected ... happens, and it's not the FCO cat but other people who do the dying. This simple historical reality is, curiously, beyond the comprehension of outwardly sane people many of whom read PPE at Oxford (to be pedantic: that is one crime Boris has not committed). Perhaps the sum of human happiness would be increased if that particular faculty could have a (precisely targetted) cluster-bomb dropped on it.

'UNHELPFUL'. I know all about that word. It is part of the vocabulary Establishment People use in my country when they want to effect a disdainful put-down. It avoids explanation, because an explanation can always be analysed ... an explanation might prove to be a hostage to Fortune. And UNHELPFUL doesn't sound too shrill. UNHELPFUL just means "You're not playing my game my way and you weren't elected to the Buller and you're an oik".

I wonder what sort of fees David Cameron is currently charging on the Lecture Circuit.

19 April 2018


Reports suggest that PF is to receive Cardinal Marx in Rome (they will discuss one of the latest heterodox dodges of the German Episcopal Conference).

Absolutely right and much to be commended.

It is a long-standing tradition that Cardinals enjoy an automatic right of entree to the Roman Pontiff.


Mgr Scicluna is to be complimented on having produced so lengthy a report (on sexual abuse in Chile) in such a comparatively short period of time, and, apparently, with so little secretarial assistance. And after himself needing surgery early in his mission.

In the Anglo-Saxon world of corporate accountability, at least a redacted summary of his Report would be available to the Public. As I write, I am unaware that anything has been made public other than PF's Letter to the Chilean Episcopal Conference. (Unfortunately, the 'story' by chance 'broke' just when our own Media were a trifle preoccupied with the possibility of a World War.)

A 'Survivor' who, until she resigned, was a member of PF's Papal Commission on Abuse, commented:
"Now the focus has to be on the survivors who have been badly hurt by his words; then there has to be accountability."

Regretfully, I have to say that her brutal words express an uncomfortable but simply unavoidable truth. We have not been told what Mgr Scicluna discovered about the transmission of the five-page Letter which one survivor gave to Cardinal O'Malley and which his Eminence is said to have guaranteed that he handed personally to PF. But as the uncorrected public record currently stands, it looks as though PF either never bothered to open and read the Letter; or that he read it and then forgot about its contents so comprehensively that he subsequently lost his temper and started shouting at questioners (he said he required, and had not yet been offered, 'proof'' ... a word subsequently emended to 'evidence').

This is where the demand for accountability becomes irresistible.

We have a Roman Pontiff who has made himself a figure of mockery by his endless logorrhoea. It seems that he is unable to live without constant utterance; utterance which (unlike the words of his intellectually abler predecessors) is commonly riddled with vivid but obscure attacks, apparently often on those fellow-clergy who do not accept his own self-estimation. His 'magisterial' documents substitute inscrutable interminability for clarity. But in some contexts, a more than Trappist taciturnity magically and suddenly takes over from the compulsive loquacity. Cardinals formally offer him dubia or intellectuals send him a Filial Correction; he does not trouble even to acknowledge that he has received their communications. He refuses ... lovely Renaissance Court usage coming up here ... to "grant them an Audience". Abuse survivors transmit to him, via hand of Cardinal, long and detailed accounts of their abuse; the silence is total as they wait ... and wait ... and wait ... and the years pass by, with no comfort for their anguish.

It is an established pattern.

Of course, a Roman Pontiff cannot read everything that anybody presses into his hand. But in previous pontificates, the Pontiff retained a certain formal distance and there were mechanisms, one imagines, by which his correspondence was handled appropriately at appropriate levels. And if there were mistakes, as in any human enterprise there undoubtedly will have been, presumably those responsible were held accountable. But PF seems to have eschewed such workaday mechanisms. He, apparently, prefers above all things to receive plaudits for his faux populism. So, by his own choice, it is he who is accountable for the mistakes. If the buck stops somewhere else, then he should have explained that earlier.

Our Most Holy Redeemer spoke sometimes with an almost Bergoglian frankness (Matthew 23?). But there is not much evidence that He habitually handled critics or questioners by "doing a Bergoglio": i.e. by saying not a syllable to them; turning his back on them; and walking away from them, wordless amid the clamour.

In the Anglo-Saxon corporate world, a CEO who behaved like this would be tactfully removed. Or perhaps just removed without time wasted on tact. A Bergoglio would not survive as head master of an English Public School. You're laughing at me? Think about it.

Indeed. That lady was right. First the focus does have to be upon those who have suffered.

Then, accountability.

Is there nobody left in the Vatican with the nous and the parrhesia  to explain to PF in simple Spanish what, in the real and practical world, accountability means?

Footnote: I commend to you the soon-to-be-published The Dictator Pope by Henry Sire. I find it convincing and compelling. If the facts about this pontificate were more widely known ...

18 April 2018

S Joseph

(1) His Feast on March 19 got under way in the 15th century and gradually spread. It celebrated S Joseph, Spouse of the Theotokos.
(2) Then his Feast as Guardian of the Universal Church was added (universal in the Latin Church from 1847), fixed on the Second Sunday (EF) after Easter (='Third Sunday of Eastertide' in the OF).
(3) Then, when S Pius X liberated Sundays from perpetually occurring Feasts, this feast moved to the subsequent Wednesday. But for some decades clergy were allowed to celebrate External Solemnities of S Joseph on the Sunday, where their people had become attached to the custom.
(4) During the Cold War, Pius XII had the rather clever idea (1955) of making the Workers' Day, May 1, the Feast of S Joseph the Worker.
(5) For a variety of reasons, it never caught on and is now, in the OF, merely an optional memoria. (In the EF it is still in situ)

(6) But S Joseph the Guardian had been abolished in order to make space for this new substantial Josephine celebration within Eastertide. His title of Guardian of the Universal Church had been amalgamated with his March 19 festival.
(7) But the old Mass texts of S Joseph the Guardian survived and survive still as the Votive of S Joseph in the Weekday Votives of the pre-Conciliar Missal.
(8) S Joseph's Guardianship of the Universal Church is a theme just waiting for revival.
(9) Episcopal Conferences have the faculty (in the OF) of moving S Joseph out of Lent.

Make what you will of all that. I will just say that this morning I (legitimately) said that Votive Mass, originally the Mass of S Joseph the Guardian of the Universal Church. I could not, however, see how it could be legitimate to say the Divine Office of the old Feast. A shame, because it is very beautiful and has a lot of suggestive  and relevant typology in it.

I think Ecclesia Dei should relegate S Joseph the Workman to Pro aliquibus locis (or among the Votives) and restore SS Pip and Jim to May 1. And resurrect the Guardianship of S Joseph.

Quite apart from anything else, it would be nice again to see the churches and the Sacred Ministers garbed in deepest red on Mayday.

17 April 2018

SILENCE and NOISE: PF, Sarah, and Screwtape

"It is not healthy to love silence while fleeing interaction with others." (PF, Gaudete et Exsultate, 26.)

The Scholiasts seem to be deeply divided about the interpretation of this. There are those who explain it as a rare piece of self-criticism on the part of PF. They think that, at long last, he is repenting for having vouchsafed the Dubia Cardinals, and the Correcting Filii, not a single word of reply. On the other hand, some scholars take it as a snide and cheap sneer at Cardinal Sarah, who enjoys writing about Silence. Moi, I haven't the faintest idea. One of the greatest strengths of PF is that his writings always leave me totally baffled. The day I try to persuade you that I am a sensitive interpreter of PF's most nuanced subtleties is probably the day you should stop looking at this blog.

I can, however, offer you some light from the Anglican Patrimony. Not quite from the Ordinariate itself, because Benedict XVI carelessly forgot to provide it with a category which would have enabled a certain famous belle-lettriste to seek full membership. I refer, of course, to His Abysmal Sublimity Mr Under Secretary Screwtape.

"Music and silence - how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell ... no square inch of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise - Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression  of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile - Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress ..."

16 April 2018

S Magnus the Martyr and Catholic Ecumenism

Here's a curiosity for the cognoscenti. On the Ordinariate Calendar, today is the feast of S Magnus the Martyr, of Orkney. Is he there
(1) to show that the British Ordinariate includes even the Northern Islands of the Kingdom of Scotland; or
(2) because of the fact that Fr Henry Joy Fynes Clinton, for decades the undisputed leader of the Papalist Party in the Church of England, was Rector of S Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge?

In either case, both the fact and the reason are excellent!

When the Ordinariates were erected, I did think how lovely an ecumenical gesture it would be if the Diocese of London had lent S Magnus's to us. But the C of E is not really ecumenical except in the formal sense of asserting that it is; and playing the daft games epitomised by the expensive white elephant called ARCIC. It is rumoured that one official in that diocese said that he would rather see a Church bulldozed than getting into the hands of the Ordinariate! Nice lot! Happily, in an act of real generosity and genuine Catholic Ecumenism, the Diocese of Westminster assigned us the wonderful historic Church of the Assumption and S Gregory in central London, which, among its battle honours, proudly claims to have been sacked during the Gordon Riots. I have no difficulty discerning there the approving spirit of that superbly combative old ecumenist, Fr FC. Additionally, as all sound chaps and chappesses know, it was once the Bavarian Embassy Chapel and contains the beautiful Flag of the House of Wittelsbach. Vivat Rex!

BUT ... for me, if I may become personal, the Feast of S Magnus sings most joyously in my heart because of my memory of an amazing visit to my dear friends, the Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay. They showed me round the Cathedral of S Magnus in Kirkwall, exquisite Romanesque in beautiful pink stone, and still housing the relics of S Magnus. And this enables me to complete the circle by returning to Pope Benedict XVI, in whose happy pontificate, of course, the Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay were able to regularise their canonical relationship with the Holy See. Another splendid act of true, Catholic, Ecumenism!! May they continue to flourish and to give such a wonderful witness of prayer, work, and common life to the Catholic World!

As for Benedict XVI, the Pope of Ecumenism ... Eis polla ete, Despota!

I think this Post exceeds my usual daily allowance of sincere hyperbole ...  Megamarvellous!!

Ad multos annos plurimosque annos ...

Today is the birthday of Joseph Ratzinger, sometime Bishop of Rome, and the anniversary of his rebirth in Baptism on the day when the Church was celebrating her Passover.

His pontificate was short, but what enrichment it brought us. The vetusta Novitas of the Bible, the Fathers, and the Liturgy; Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum coetibus; the beatification of Newman; how much grace we received in those years through his gentle and generous hands. It turned out to be a necessary stocking-up of the larder with good and nourishing food; food destined  to be our rations during the winter and the ice and the time of tears and cruelty. As we warm ourselves at our hearths today, and hear the wolves still howling outside as they run licensed and unconfined, hungry and increasingly desperate, memories of the good times reassure us that, in the power of the Spirit, and if we keep faith, good times can return. Veni Sancte Spiritus ... flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. And there are at last sounds of the glaciers cracking, and of the trickle of tiny streams running out from beneath the compacted ice ... and the sight of little buds beginning to open beside the streams.

In a manner of speaking, we might say that Pope Benedict's glorious pontificate is still alive among us, since it is to the sinewy strength of his biblical and patristic teaching, and to the structures he left in place, that we continue to turn as we look to the return of the Maytime, when "The happy birds Te Deum sing, 'tis Mary's month of May."

In a justly famous sermon, Blessed John Henry Newman addressed to our Lady some words derived from the Song of Solomon:

"Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For the winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land. ... The fig tree hath put forth her green figs; the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come. It is time for thy Visitation. Arise, Mary, and go forth in thy strength ..."

May the prayers of our Mother gain for us the grace of perseverance in this last dark hour of the apostasy. Was there ever a tyranny which lasted for ever, or an eternal winter?  

She will go forth in her strength.

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

15 April 2018

...audemus dicere PATER NOSTER ...

The words introducing the Lord's prayer were translated by Cranmer, felicitously, as ' ...we are bold to say'. New ICEL with equal accuracy renders '...we dare to say'. But surely we should be 'happy' to say or 'cosy' to say or at least 'confident' to say? Old ICEL, indeed, prayed 'with confidence', and the equally corrupt Common Worship translation totally skives the question of how to render 'audemus'. Yet there is quite an ecumenical convergence here (if one ignore the Modernists and considers just the healthy consensus of the classical Roman and Byzantine Rites): the Byzantines ask God to make us worthy, with parrhesia and without condemnation, to dare (tolmain) to call upon the God of Heaven as Father.

Lying behind the modern squeamishness is a feeling that Christianity should be a religion of intimate warmth. Indeed, there is in the world at large a belief that all men are brothers and that accordingly God, if there is a God, is the indulgent unjudgmental Father of all men. So why should there be anything bold or daring about calling him Father? Rather than being dangerous, it should be next door to a platitude.

But this is not the religion of the New Testament. The Lord's habit of regarding God as his father, Abba, seems to have been distinctive and unusual. The fact that the word is Aramaic suggests that it goes back to the Incarnate Lord's infant linguistic habits. And permission is given to humankind to share this habit in as far and only as far as humans are incorporated into Christ by Baptism and thus en Christo, members of his Body, Sons only in the sense that they are in the One Son. Wayne Meekes (The First Urban Christians) attractively suggested that the Pauline converts actually cried Abba (Gal 4:6) as they emerged dripping from the regenerating, resurrecting, waters of baptism.

Only because we thus share by the theosis of filiation in Christ's Divine Sonship dare we, as the Byzantines happily put it, with parrhesia (standing on our two feet and looking him in the eye) call God Pater.