7 December 2019


Did John Mirk give an account of an appearance of S Michael at St Michael's Mount in Cornwall? I would be grateful if anyone could help with a link ... if he did ...

Mindgames (4) Spot the Latin Howler

Today, I offer you a real de luxe corker: part of the homily attached to the propers for Padre Pio. Presumably, the Howler-wallah is the poor fellow who was tasked with translating a text from the pen of the Saint from Italian into Latin (or did S Pius himself preach/write in this ungrammatical Latin?). In what follows, no fewer than three words (I think I would actually argue, five) have fullest Megahowler status. As the young people who wait upon us in restaurants nowadays so cheerfully say, Enjoy!!!!

Anima quaeque ad aeternam destinata gloriam se optime lapis ad aedificium aeternum erigendum constituta definire potest. Structori aedem erigendum quaerenti optime primum lapides ipsam exstructuras expolire oportet. 

You will also have noticed some oddish constructions ('aedem erigendum quaerenti'?) .

Elsewhere in the Homily, our friend writes 'expoliatione' ('denuding', give or take an s) where he means 'expolitione' (polishing) and (a regular mistake when Eye Ties type Latin) "cum Sancto Spirito". 

6 December 2019

The See of Westminster; Episcopal Conferences; and Cardinal Mueller again.

This piece was originally posted in March 2015. Subsequently, I refined and strengthened and shortened it using information supplied by kind readers.  In my view, the most important parts of this are the two passages from Cardinal Mueller.

I would like to emphasise that this is not some attack on any current Archbishop of Westminster. I have simply taken the English situation as an example of a very important ecclesiological point which relates equally to every part of the Latin Church. I just happen to know a little more about the ecclesiatical history of England than I do about that of Portugal or Poland or Peru.

Non-Catholics often misunderstand the position of the Archiepiscopal See of Westminster; and this can lead to unfairness towards its occupant. I think this whole question is of importance because it bears on matters of ecclesiological doctrine which, in fact, are the real basis of many of the Church's current upheavals. Which is how Cardinal Mueller will, nearer the end of this piece, come into the question.

The Archbishop of Westminster is not, as journalists and others often appear to assume, a sort of Catholic equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Independant Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse ... Case Study the Archdiocese of Birmingham worked this out (June 2019 paragraph 5): "A cardinal does not have authority over an archbishop or bishop and so it is a misconception to refer to Cardinal Nichols as the 'head' of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales" (et vide infra).

The common notion that 'primate' and 'archbishop' and 'metropolitan' are interchangeable terms is historically false. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a Primate. And he is Primate of All England (totius Angliae), with certain powers (of a legatus natus sanctae Sedis continued to him by Parliamentary Statute after the Schism) even within the Province of York. When he visitatorially enters another diocese, the Diocesan Bishop automatically if temporarily loses his diocesan jurisdiction. He was known sometimes colloquially as alterius orbis papa, and his primatial dignity, remarkably, is sustained by the possession of an episcopal Curia comprising a Provincial Dean (the Bishop of London), Chancellor (Bishop of Winchester), Vice-Chancellor (Bishop of Lincoln), Precentor (Bishop of Salisbury), Chaplain (Bishop of Worcester), and Cross-bearer (Bishop of Rochester).Whatever you may think about the theological or sacramental status of a modern Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury ... and you are probably right ... these structural and legal arrangements are, substantially, in continuity with the very grand position and considerable primatial authority held by medieval Archbishops of Canterbury, as the holders of an office that historically went far back before the time when there was a King or a Kingdom or even a concept of England.

Archbishops of Canterbury have behaved accordingly ... as when a medieval ABC attempted (unsuccessfully) to enter the Diocese of Exeter on Visitation, accompanied by his private army; and when Archbishop Fisher summoned John Robinson Bishop of Woolwich to see him after the publication of Honest to God. Robinson was an auxiliary bishop of another diocesan; but Fisher greeted him with "Now look here, Woolwich, you just can't do this sort of thing" vel sim.. (But even Fisher, I suspect, might not have behaved thus towards a bishop within the Province of York.)

The See of Westminster has never been constituted or recognised by the Holy See as a Primatial See. An obvious moment to have given it that dignity would have been in 1911, when the Sees of Birmingham and Liverpool were raised to metropolitan status. There was indeed at that time a desire (see the thread) to preserve a national position for Westminster; its Archbishop was made the permanent chairman (Praeses perpetuus) of episcopal meetings and given the right to represent the national Catholic community to the Civil Power (as long as he said only what his fellow-bishops had by a majority vote agreed). But he was given no jurisdiction and the only dignities conferred were the purely ritual ones of using pallium and cathedra and cross throughout England and Wales. This falls far short of the old 'primatial' conception. Indeed, it shows a very laudable determination on the part of the pre-Bergoglian Holy See to preserve the rights and status of diocesan bishops.

And, in any case, under the current CIC, primacy would be purely nominal dignity.

The position of the Archbishop of Westminster is thus simply as it is described in the front of my Breviary in a decree signed by Cardinal Griffin: Coetus episcopalis totius Angliae et Cambriae Praeses Perpetuus (by contrast, in another Breviary I possess, the corresponding part of a parallel decree from the Archbishop of Malines describes him as Primas Belgii). He is, additionally, Metropolitan of his own province [comprising the dioceses of Brentwood, East Anglia, Northampton, and Nottingham], with the distinctly tenuous and limited metropolitical powers described in Canon 436. He has no metropolitical relationship with the four totally independant metropolitical provinces of Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Southwark, or with four extra-provincial and extra-diocesan entities, the Ukrainian Eparchy, the South Indian Eparchy, the Military Ordinariate, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (all four of which, incidentally, extend beyond the boundaries of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales).

What this means is that an Archbishop of Westminster has no substantive jurisdiction whatsoever outside his own diocese of Westminster ... which is, roughly, London North of the Thames and Hertfordshire. But, even if not a primate, does he perhaps have authority by virtue of being a Cardinal? No more than Raymond Cardinal Burke does. Or because of his Presidency of the Episcopal Conference? Not in Canon Law and not in dogma. And see my remarks at the beginning of this piece.

I will, in conclusion, illustrate this by quoting  Cardinal Mueller, speaking when he was head of the CDF.

"An episcopal conference is not a particular council, even less so an ecumenical council. The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to his title ... dioceses are not branches of the secretariate of a bishops conference either, nor of the diocese whose bishop presides over the episcopal conference. This kind of attitude risks in fact the reawakening of a certain polarisation between the local Churches and the Church universal, out of date since the Vatican I and Vatican II councils. The Church is not a sum of national churches ... ".  

This continues the strong teaching Cardinal Mueller has given before; in 2013, for example, "the Roman Pontiff and the individual bishops are of divine right, instituted by Jesus Christ. ... But the patriarchates and episcopal conferences, historically and today, belong solely to human ecclesiastical right. The presidents of the episcopal conferences, although important, are coordinators, nothing more, not some vicepopes! Every bishop has a direct and immediate relationship with the Pope. We cannot have a decentralisation in the conferences; there would be the danger of a new centralism, with the presidency that has all the information and the bishops submerged in documents without the time to get ready ..." 

And the same erudite Cardinal repeated the same teaching in a 2017 book-interview. 

For some reason, there seems at the moment to be a great appetite for sound teaching. 

5 December 2019

My comments on your comments.

Comments on comments on Fake News.

(1) I share the dislike expressed in one comment towards the habit of calling every Anglican cleric/clergyman/priest/clerk in Holy Orders a "Vicar". I have never been a Vicar; whenever people have accused me of being or having been a Vicar I have always stoutly denied it. When I have been wearing a clerical collar, this has puzzled them. I never enlighten them: let them find it all out for themselves. We must not spoonfeed the laity.

The suggestion, on the other hand, that Anglican clergy would be horrified to be described as 'priests' can only be true of a tiny minority of violent Calvinists. They, poor dears, must have been horrified to hear themselves being described as "priests in the Church of God" when their Bishop laid his hands upon them! Every time they look at their Letters of Orders, they must tremble with revulsion!! The rubrics of the Prayer Book must be a continual source of conscientious agony!!!

(2) Prayers for the Conversion of the Jews in the Liturgia Horarum: I have dealt very fully with this several times before. The current but erroneous dogma (i.e. that we may not envisage or pray for their conversion) is subsequent to the Liturgia Horarum of 1971, at least at the CDW and within the Anglosphere (the 1985 Editio did not change this text). The most striking example is in LH Vespers on Easter Day itself ... repeated on the Third and Fifth Sundays in Eastertide (both in the Latin and in the English).

Would it be helpful if I retrieved my old extensive posts on this subject and republished them?

(3) The occupant of the See of Westminster is most certainly not Head of the Catholic Church in this country. Here again, I have dealt with this very fully on several occasions.

Again I ask: would it be helpful if I retrieved and reissued those articles?

Interestingly, when Vincent Nichols appeared before the Independent  Inquiry on sexual abuse just a few weeks ago, he clarified to the tribunal his own position as merely the elected Chairman of the Episcopal Conference, and very firmly, very explicitly, denied being 'Head' of the Catholic Church in this country. He seemed particularly anxious to make this accurately understood. (You can watch the video.)

Nevertheless, some Catholic bishops do refer respectfully to him as "the Cardinal"; and I know of a recent example where he has even been assured of "loyalty". There may indeed be some danger of his being taken too seriously, through a sort of de facto and informal Fuehrerprinzip. But that is not his fault! Nor is it mine!! I support him in this!!! C'mon! Everybody behind Vin! Repeat after me: He is not Head of the Church in this land!

Finally, on my own account, (4), a question of my own which I have posed many times before.

Who knew what about Kieran Conry before he was consecrated Bishop?

4 December 2019

Ultrasuperueberhyperpapalism by the Bergoglian bucketful

This I saw recently in an ultrapapalist website:

"Pope Francis has said that we are currently in a change of epochs or eras and not just experiencing a period of change. It is a time of a colossal paradigm shift. One stone will not be left upon another. Many of the sacred institutions and unique religious symbols that Catholics have clung to and defended for so long -- even for ceturies -- may no longer be left standing in this change of epochs. Those that are not essential will need to be changed or discarded. Francis is trying to discern how and to what extent we need to do this. But he is facing resistance. Some of this is being manifested through attacks against his integrity as a disciple and faith leader."

I pass over (praetereo!) the snide nastinesses ("clung to" etc.); if there has been a change of eras, one of its most striking features has been the triumph of a culture of snide nastiness on the lips of the Pontiff and his  cronies.

I just want to know where this model of the papacy ... the Pontiff as the Mighty Changer of Epochs ... the Great Caster Down of Stones ... the August Discerner of Discardable Dogmas ... Colossal Shifter of Paradigms ... is to be found in, or can be justified from, the teachings of Vatican I (or Vatican II) upon the Petrine Ministry.

It is certainly not to be found in the teaching of the most recent significant theologian to be canonised, S John Henry Newman, Patron of the Jurisdiction to which I have the honour to belong. He saw the Roman Church as a remora, obstacle, against innovation. Earlier writers, earlier popes, earlier councils, took the same view.

PF thinks he is 'ecumenical', because  he kisses oriental hierarchs with beards and swedish episcopussies without them. Does he seriously think that, if he explained frankly to his supposed chums the (claimed) extent of his personal power to refashion the Christian Faith at will, they would react with anything other than horrified alarm?

I subscribed formally to the teaching of Vatican I some sixty years ago, on 28 April 1959, when I signed up to the Catholic League. I have no intention of falling away now from this divinely-imparted Faith. I repudiate ex animo any concept of the Papacy which could afford plausibility to the passage I have quoted above.

3 December 2019

Fake News

"[Pope Benedict] managed to offend the worldwide Jewish community. First he restored to general use an ancient prayer calling on God to rescue the Jews from their 'blindness' by 'acknowledging Christ'  ...".

Thus, not long ago, wrote one Richard Morrison in The Times in a 'book teview'.

He may be the same person as the Richard Morrison who is Music Critic in that newspaper.

I have no competence in the fiield of Music, so I would refrain from pontificating about his competence as a musician. If I did express a view that, as a musician, Morrison is totally Cra**, my opinion would be completely worthless.

No such bashful shyness holds back this Morrison when he strays beyond areas in which he may, for all I know, be competent.

Incredible, isn't it? As readers will all know, the ancient Good Friday Prayer for the Jews was replaced in the changes which followed Vatican II.

That left it still in use only in that comparatively tiny number of communities which still used the liturgy in Latin as it had been before the Council. These groups continued to use the prayer, in a slightly toned down form, on this one day in the year.

What Pope Benedict did was not "to restore... [the] ancient prayer". Quite the opposite. He banned it.

Yes; he removed it from the liturgy.

Then he replaced it with a prayer which he composed himself.

That new prayer of his is still used, but only by the tiny minority of Catholics who use the old Latin Liturgy.

"He restored to general use an ancient prayer". He did nothing of the sort. He replaced it. And his replacement prayer is not "in general use". The prayer "in general use", that is, among those who pray in the vernacular, is still the prayer which was introduced after the Council.

Newspapers generally, I believe, employ specialist writers when it comes to, say, Music or Economics or Astrophysics or Cricket.

But when it comes to "Religion", any old ignoramus dragged in off the street is good enough specialist competence is regarded as unnecessary.

2 December 2019


I gather we are due to have a visit from Trump.

And we have just had a terrorist incident in London involving loss of life.

On a previous such occasion, Trump seized the opportunity gleefully to continue his spat with the Mayor of London.

I think he should be decorated.

Perhaps there is a vacancy in whatever distinguished Order of Knighthood they gave the late Ceauscescu.

Was it a Kindly Call Me God?

Deeply wailing

I expect that the superb Wesleyan hymn Lo! He comes with clouds descending is now being wheeled out for Advent in Anglican churches ... indeed, it is a fine hymn; magnificently superior to a lot of what one gets in Novus Ordo Catholic churches.

The recent C of E Report on relations between Christians and Jews enters a caveat. Might it encourage anti-semitism?

Those who set at nought and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Deeply wailing
Shall the true Messiah see.

I can set these fears at rest.

Anglicans and Protestants pay no attention whatsoever to the words of hymns. It's the tunes they like. That is why they often nag their clergy for services along the lines of Hymns of Praise rather than that boring Holy Communion Service. It is why they talk about their 'favourite hymns'.

I bet there isn't a worshipper in England who would ever have thiught that the 'Deep Wailing' is scheduled to be done by Jews.

I advise the C of E to watch it. You''ll get into no end of trouble if you start assuming that your pew-fodder pays any attention to, or might be influenced by, the actual words of all your finest hymns.

That's not what Post-Christian Folk Protestantism is all about!

1 December 2019


Is this Advent the proper occasion for us to offer Masses and Rosaries in reparation for all the offences done to the Divine Majesty since the demolition of the old liturgical culture, fifty years ago?

Come and save us!

Here is an extract from a very fine Advent homily given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008:

"The cry of hope of Advent expresses all the gravity of our condition, our extreme need for salvation. Which is to say that we await the Lord not as some beautiful decoration to a world already saved, but as the only way of liberation from mortal danger."

What was so noteworthy about this is that it represented a turning away from the semi-Pelagianism which characterised the post-Conciliar selection of Advent Sunday collects; Benedict instead turned back to the authentic tones of the Sunday collects which they replaced. Three of these (and notice also the Ember Masses) did a moderately unusual thing in the Roman Corpus of collects: they began with an imperative verb for their first word. This, in turn, was taken from psalm 79/80: 'Excita potentiam tuam et veni ut salvos facias nos' (Coverdale: Stir up thy strength and come and help us); a cry from Israel to her God to come and save His vineyard; a psalm full of a sense of dereliction and of pressing supplication. This urgent prayer became the starting point of three of the Advent Sunday collects in the old rite (as well as of the Collect of the Sunday Next Before Advent). Here is the translation which the good old English Missal gives for the collect of Advent I:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come: that by thy protection we may be found worthy to be set free from the dangers of our sins which beset us; and to be saved by thy deliverance.
Compare this with (my translation) the OF collect:
Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, this will unto thy faithful people, that, running with good works to meet thy Christ as he comes, they may be set at his right hand and be worthy to hold fast the kingdom of heaven.

There is absolutely nothing heretical or even ill-judged in itself about this; it appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary as a postcommunion. And the Stir up prayer has, indeed, survived into the OF as a ferial collect on (just one) weekday. But in the old days, Stir up was heard by all the worshipping community because it was a Sunday collect; moreover, it was repeated on every vacant feria throughout its week.

Lorenzo Bianchi says this about the newer selection of Sunday Collects in the post-Conciliar Missal: 'A Pelagian turn of thought becomes apparent: which does not show itself in a failure to speak about grace, but in the way it is separated from a realistic consideration of the human condition; and the manner in which the grace of Jesus Christ is made into an optional extra: just an unnecessary ornament ... [in the Advent Sundays and Christmas collects of] the new Missal ... sin does not appear, or even expressions explicitly linked with this concept ... [instead] we find phrases which, making no mention of the fragility of the human condition, tend to bring to the fore the aspect of man's commitment'. In the old Stir up series of collects, Bianchi goes on, 'a far more continual and pressing use of the imperative is found ... in place of these imperatives, in Paul VI's Missal the final or consecutive subjunctive prevails. Thus, even on the level of syntax, we pass from the cry of petition, from a dynamic of pure petition, to a basically descriptive phraseology'.

30 November 2019

Mindgames Spot the Latin Howler (3)

Here, as authorised by CDW decree published in Notitiae, is the Collect for S Augustine Zhao Rong.

Deus, qui per sanctoum martyrum Augustini et sociorum confessionem Ecclesiam tuam mirabili dispensatione roborasti, ut populus tuus, missioni sibi creditae fidelis, et incrementa libertatis accipiat et veritatem coram mundo testificetur.

29 November 2019

Religious bigotry in British Political Parties

A couple of years ago, Tim Farron was hounded out of the leadership of the Liberal Democrat Party because of his Evangelical Christian beliefs. A couple of weeks ago, Rob Flello was deselected as parliamentary candidate for the same party because he expressed his Catholic beliefs.

Why isn't there a great surge of indignation about this naked bigotry?