12 June 2009

Sixty Years

On June 12, 1949, Fr Michael Moreton was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral Church of S Andrew in Wells. He is one of the few considerable liturgists in the Church of England; a distinguished if rather liberal New Testament scholar; and a much sought-after spiritual director. He is still going strong.

Fr Michael was a lone voice many years ago, in that chaotic period when altars were being moved around and priests started squeezing their way behind them. He was the small boy who shouted out that the Emperor had no clothes. He demonstrated that versus Orientem was the practice of ecumenical antiquity; he was adamant in his insistence on the Canon Romanus. His voice, of course, was one crying in a wilderness. Indeed, there are still ignorant clergy in the C of E who, when they discover an 'unreformed' altar, can't wait to 'rectify' it. Only last year, in a nice Roman Rite (OF with subsidiary EF) church in Plymouth, an illiterate priest doing duty during an interregnum 'reformed' the church; out went versus Orientem; out went the Roman Rite. It makes you want to weep, doesn't it. Talk about Smoke-of-Satan.

I first met Fr Michael when I moved into the Diocese of Exeter for six years, and was invited to join 'The Society of S Boniface'; Catholic priests who met for study of the Greek New Testament and fellowship and to read papers to each other. I was introduced by my friend and colleague John Richards, the first Bishop of Ebbsfleet, ecce sacerdos valde magnus, who in the bleak days after the vote for wyminpriests in 1992 built up a new people for the Lord amidst the wreckage of the Church of England. John had previously been an archdeacon with a reputation for being a stern disciplinarian and episcopal enforcer. He was also instinctively 'Church of England' and no Romaniser. It was a grand day when he sidled sheepishly up to me (he wasn't often sheepish) and said: "Now, boy [a common vocative on his lips]; I'm down to say the Mass at Boniface this month ... now ... um ... er ... this "Roman Canon" ... I know Michael sets great store by it ... do you happen to have a copy?"

I did.

Father Michael, ad multos annos.

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