30 November 2009

Damp squibs all round

What a dismal wash-out as an entertainment - the 'Panel Discussion' in the University Church about 'The News from Rome'. Hard work, too. I expect it's because I'm so old and senile, but I couldn't actually hear everything that most of the distinguished Panel said, except for the words of Bishop Andrew Burnham, who spoke loudly and with clear enunciation and accurate use of the microphone. That made him sound a trifle assertive compared with most of the rest of them, which was unfair because he was simply doing his I'm-a-reasonable-man-and-goodness-me-I'm-certainly-not-a-bigot turn, which he does so well.

The Master of Benet's, Dom Felix Stephens (is the denomination 'Dom' politically incorrect now? We never seem to hear it) described himself as 'A benedictine liberal' and explained that the problem was that the chaps in Rome didn't understand England and the English. Twice he said that Rome would not have women priests and each time carefully added the adverb 'now'. His manner was rather like that of the late Cormac; of being an old dodderer who hadn't quite mastered his brief. I presume that in Felix' case this is a jesuitical affectation designed to lull us unsuspecting Protestants into a coma, because I gather he is a distinctly natty operator when it comes to finances. And he was certainly decisive enough when the Vicar of the University Church appeared rather unpleasantly to imply that a shortage of priests in the RC church might have something to do with it all.

Felix explained how much he loved the Church of England and simply adored her worship; gosh, I thought, Dr Dawkins last month and now Dom Felix; is there anybody who isn't just filled with admiration of the dear old C of E? From outside?

A Baptist woman called Myra Blyth (what had it got to do with her? We don't get asked to express our views about the internal affairs of the non-Conformist community ... thank God ...) had a delightfully Mummy-will-now-put-you-straight-on-everything manner. Not that she seemed to know much; she thought that the acceptance by Rome of married priests was some sort of doctrinal break-through, apparently unaware that there are tens of thousands of married clergy in communion with Rome. I didn't like her : she called the Pope 'medieval'. It's not so much that I feel defensive about the Roman Pontiff ... I'm sure he's capable of looking after himself ... but I dislike the use of the word 'medieval' as an all-purpose term of abuse.

The highlight of Canon Dr Judith Maltby's contribution ... Oh dear, I'm already bored with doing this post and I haven't got through the half of them. Good night, all. Oh; and, no, nobody mentioned that today was the happy 455th anniversary of Cardinal Pole reconciling England from heresy and schism. What an opportunity missed.

29 November 2009

Ecce sacerdos magnus

I have just heard that Bishop Eric died just before midnight, surrounded by his wife and family, fortified by the rites of our Holy Mother the Church. More later. Cuius animae propitietur Deus.

So What? Mitres and Rabbits

I think I've said most of what I want to, now, on Archbishop Williams' Roman Lecture. Although I might return to it if I feel I have radically new illumination from correspondents (but I would prefer comments only from those who have actually read the lecture at least once).

I have dwelt upon it for obvious reasons: this is a crisis point in ecumenism, and a lecture by the Archbishop of Canterbury - and by the first Archbishop for some time who can read and write - must be a significant document. What an able man in such a position says at such a juncture in such a place is not just any old chat.

But I am left mystified. With the best will in the world (and I did not, as did not a few of Rowan's critics ... the Usual Suspects ..., read it with the intention of cobbling together a case for dismissing it as rubbish), I am having trouble construing its intent. It occurred to me that he has given up on Catholics - both on Rome and on Catholics within his own Church - and has decided to chuck it as far as that end of the spectrum is concerned and build up support elsewhere. But, quite simply, I don't think he is that sort of person. And even if he were, this would be a very strange sort of way of going about it. The feminists do not want to be told that we are still within a process of Reception. The judgement that women's ordination is not first-order, and the idea that we can fudge things a bit by myopically pretending that on a broad enough canvas we can't quite see the women priests, will not appeal to those who, having conscientiously thought these things through, believe that the ordination of women is required by first-order theological imperatives.

As far as I can see, all that is left is the likelihood that Archbishop Rowan, if I may richly mix my metaphors, has painted himself into a corner and has suddenly found himself bankrupt. At this juncture, he needed to pull several rabbits simultaneously out of his hat; but he found that, despite all his conceptual versatility and verbal dexterity, his mitre was a rabbit-free zone.

28 November 2009

The first Anglican Pope again

It is nice to know that, as he gears up to his visit to England, the Holy Father has got a new cross to carry. Instead of a corpus cruci fixum in the middle, it has a representation of the Lamb of God.

Has someone explained to him that this prcisely reflects the preferred usage of middle-of-the-road Anglicans of the I'm-not-too-extreme-party?

The Lamb of God, in the Book of Revelation, is the Lamb slain in sacrifice from before the beginning of the world; the Redeemer who ever lives to make intercession for us at the Heavenly Altar.

At this rate, by the time he gets to London Benedict will be wearing a surplice and stole to celebrate the Holy Communion Service.

One Father

Rowan Williams asks whether, "when so much agreement has been firmly established in first order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, it is really justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integity". And: "In what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so enhance the life of communion, reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined?" Behind this surely lurks a question which, if we are honest, many of us sometimes have worried about: " How do we present to the world a gloomy prohibition against Women Clergy as being positive Good News?"

The answer is in Rowan's own summary of the new consensual ecclesiology: "God is eternally a life of three-fold communion; and if human persons are to be reconciled to God and restored to the capacity for which they were made, they must be included in that life of communion. The incarnation of God the Son recreates in human persons the possibility of filial relation with the Father ... etc". The Church images and embodies that divine life of communion in which the Father stands as as the principal of unity because he is the pege theotetos or its arche, the Source of Godhead. The Father, as S Paul writes in Ephesians, is the One from whom all patria, Fatherhood, comes, and in the ekklesia the Bishop is the typos tou Patros [Ignatius Trallians 3:1; Smyrnaeans 8:1; Magnesians 3; 6:1], the 'minted' sacramental reproduction of the One Father. This preoccupation with Fatherhood presumably goes back to the Incarnate Word who used the Aramaic term Abba, and who is reported in John 17 as having prayed that the Holy Father would keep his disciples so that they all might be one. The description, in I Timothy 3, of the episkopos as the paterfamilias of God's Assembly is also significant.

If sacraments as efficacious signs bear a natural resemblance to what they signify (compare the formulation of Hugh of S Victor: that there is an analogy between the visible and invisible elements), it is difficult to see how a woman can image or deliver the Fatherhood of God unless one empties that notion of signi-ficant content. (It is wise to recall that the New Testament does not see God the Father as the Mother of the hypostatically united Word. It suggests that his Mother was a Palestinian Girl called Mary. Nor do its semantics allow that, rather than a Father, he possessed a single undifferentiated 'Parent'.)

It seems to me wholly subversive of an ecclesiology which derives from the Communio of the Trinity to place in a cathedra episcopalis a person who cannot be seen as the typos of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ*. In other words, a woman-bishop subverts the Patri-archal life of the Church as an expression of that very life in the communion of the Blessed Trinity which Rowan seeks to establish. Prescinding from Scholastic categories of 'valid' and 'invalid' (not that the scholastic formulation causes me any anxieties), this is what it really means when we say that a woman 'cannot' be a bishop.

Putting it demotically, Women Bishops bugger up the Trinity and they bugger up sacramental signification.

Or if they don't (after all, I am not infallible), they are de facto able to focus and articulate neither the unity of the local church, nor its integration by the person of its 'bishop' into the mia Katholike, for as long as de facto there are people who share my misapprehensions. This must be what it really means when Rowan concedes that we are still in an open period of discernment and reception. And given the importance of the episcopal ministry (and its dependant ministries) in structuring the Christian Assembly in Trinitarian communio, the structured and structural doubt implicit in Discernment and Reception disqualifies the innovation from possibility.



I recall reading that in New Zealand, in ordinations, 'bishop' Penny was addressed as "Right Reverend Mother in God". Is that correct? Does anyone know of Anglican Provinces which have had the courage of their feminist convictions to address women bishops as 'Father in God'? Or bishops of either gender as 'Parent in God'?

27 November 2009

Archbishop Rowan's lecture again

An intriguing little nugget: as far as the question of women's ordination is concerned, Rowan says that we are still "in what is formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception".

Intriguing, because proponents sometimes claim that the period of reception is over; opponents of the Ordination of Women pessimistically say the same. Rowan asserts the opposite. In this he has put clear blue water between himself and his befuddled predecessor - as long ago as the early 1990s poor Carey, in his I-am-the-Holy-Office mode, declared that opposition to the Ordination of Women was "a heresy", and, moreover, uttered this formal anathema in as significantly magisterial context as the pages of Readers' Digest, apparently the Anglican Establishment's equivalent to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The big question, of course, has always been whether we would get ecclesial structures in which to continue Discerning without having in fact sold the pass by equivalently accepting women priests. 'Discerning' is a concept which can be vague and endless when it is applied to ideas which clever people can tweak, adapt, and compromise upon. But wymynprysts are not glossable concepts but physical realities. If we are not given a viable and discrete ecclesial structure in which what can be identified as the authentic Catholic life can be lived out, those who are still Discerning and have not yet Received the innovation are not in fact being permitted to exist. Unlike his dim comprovinciales, Rowan is bright enough to know this. But does anybody seriously think that, even with his backing, they are going to give us a Third Province? And what did we want a Third Province for anyway, except as a lifeboat to get us from the Titanic across to the Carpathia? What have we ever wanted for more than a hundred years except unity with the Barque of Peter? That Ocean Liner which really is unsinkable?

The possibility of continuing what is apparently our Anglican mission of Discerning whether or not to Receive the Ordination of Women, while lounging comfortably on the promenade deck of an ocean liner soaking up the gins (for are we not Anglican Catholics?), seems to me not without its charm.

Oh dear ... somebody cleverer than me will have to sort out metaphor from reality in that last bit.

26 November 2009

Rowan Williams and Bletchley Park

In Rowan's Rome lecture, I am quite unable to understand the last bit of section 5: where he argues that "Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals?"

Is he saying that if you sort of look in a quick, general sort of way at the clergy of, say, the province of Canterbury, without sort of bothering to spot that nearly half of them are females and to ask any questions about what that means, you can easily get an impression that they sort of look pretty much like a 'Catholic' ministry doing the same sort of 'Catholic thing' (his words)?* And so that's all right, isn't it? Or at least sort of up to a point?

If so, I am reminded of the words of a colleague of mine at Lancing, a brilliant Yorkshire classicist who had spent the War at Bletchley Park. As a nervous new member of Common Room in 1973, I uttered in his hearing one morning a fatuous piece of meaningless small-talk. "Ee", he said. "For an apparently intelligent man, that's a bloody silly thing to say".

But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps Rowan's words are simply the best an able barrister can think up when handed a quite impossible brief.

Or are there profundities in his words that I have been unable to fathom?


*Am I mistaken, or is some sort of circular argument going on here? What we could do with is Eric Mascall. He would have dissected the whole business with terrifyingly mathematical logic.

More Rowan

Rowan's Rome lecture articulates an ecclesiology which is profoundly orthodox. Hoi polloi talk about "churches" when they mean denominations or 'national' churches: the "Methodist Church"; the "Church of Scotland". But Rowan knows that "the retheologising of ecclesiology, especially in dialogue with the Christian East, has meant that we are now better able to see the local community gathered round the bishop or his representative for eucharistic worship not as a portion of some greater whole but as itself the whole, the qualitative presence of the Catholic reality of filial holiness and Trinitarian mutuality here and now". This is profoundly in line with the ecclesiology set out by Joseph Ratzinger in two CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus. Church means bishop, presbyterate, diaconate, laos. In this particular church, the Katholike is fully present. In practical terms, Rowan has spelt this out in his assurances that individual American dioceses which are "Windsor-compliant" would not be severed from full communion with the See of Canterbury because of their entanglement with the rest of PECUSA.

Unlike his dim colleagues on the English bench of bishops, Rowan knows that this is why "A code of practice will not do"; pastoral arrangements designed with the discriminatory intent of ensuring that Mrs Bloggs never actually has to see a woman priest in her own church are worse than useless. Whether he has the clout to cajole his colleagues into consenting, even at this late stage, to a Third Province for us seems more than doubtful.

It is on the basis of this ecclesiology that Rowan makes a deft criticism of the 'Ordinariates' which has eluded the journalists but is uncomfortably closer to home than we might care to admit. "It remains to be seen whether the flexibility suggested in the Constitution might ever lead to something less like a 'chaplaincy' and more like a church gathered around a bishop".

Indeed. Rowan does have a point. That was the attraction of a Third Province of discrete and coherent dioceses which, having consolidated themselves and established their corporate life, could make corporate submission to the Holy See. The problem was that no one seemed very keen to give us this. Nor do they now. Or have I missed something?

The answer to Rowan's point is in the question "Which is more like a church gathered round a bishop:
an Ordinariate
or a situation where the Parish of S Bibulus and six others are firmly clenched within the diocese of Barchester and are supposed to be happy because a Code of Practice will prevent them from being given priestly or episcopal ministrations by a woman ... until they have been softened up to the point where they no longer feel their 'difficulties'?"

Ordinaries will in the future, I suspect, normally be bishops - celibate bishops. The permission for them to be presbyters-who-were-married-bishops-in-the-C-of-E is manifestly intended as a transitional arrangement: and an extraordinarily gracious and sensitive one. It would be thoroughly nasty of us to demur.

25 November 2009

Rowan's Lecture

I'm not going to give a long treatise on Rowan's Rome lecture; just to invite you to read the text of it. It raises many questions - one criticism might be that it is more than one lecture - on some of which I hope to publish elsewhere. I hope that others who are so sure that what he has said is risible will put into the public domain precise and argued exposes of his errors. But here is a little detail that intrigues me.

He distinguishes between 'second order' and 'first order' issues. I have a recollection that, in the early 1990s, some liberal bishops made just this distinction, adding that local churches could make their own decisions about second order issues like the ordination of women. They were then attacked by their angry lady-friends, who were quite certain that wymynprysts was a first order question ... and a few days later, much battered, they withdrew the distinction (incidentally, if you read Rowan's text you will see that, contrary to the assumptions of some who haver commented on it, he does very carefully state how he distinguishes between first and second order issues).

Just as in the 1990s, Rowan's comments on First and Second Order Issues can be read two ways. He goes on "When so very much agreement has been firmly established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it really justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" OK ... everybody assumes that this is an ad hominem (or should I say ad Urbem?) argument addressed to the Roman Magisterium.

But couldn't you turn it round and address it to those who seek, whatever the cost, to force wymynprysts upon Anglicanism? "X is not important enough to make a great fuss about" cuts two ways? Yes?

Is there a 'fork'* here?


The Tudor financier Cardinal Morton impaled you on one or the other of the two prongs of his fork by arguing that if you led a sumptuous life-style you could afford to pay a lot of tax; and that if you were a skinflint ...

24 November 2009

More grumbles

You can't expect the journalists to do better than an oversimplification of Archbishop Rowan's lecture in Rome. Some of them, inevitably, fell short even of that. But intelligent people, in an internet age, should read a text before they pontificate. Sadly, among those who disappointed me is the great Fr Zed, whose blog gave only the text of the Grauniad* report with Father's rubricated comments. Needless to say, Rowan's lecture was very careful and nuanced.

Nor do I enjoy the glee with which some quarters report that the 'audience' was only twenty minutes long, and I dislike the disdainful politics of the caption Fr Zed put beneath the picture. Perhaps this is a good moment to be clear about how I see the future. I very much hope that the Holy Father's initiative is a rip-roaring success. But I also hope that the Anglican Entity will be a bridge with an exciting ecumenical function, not a sad, hostile and snide ghetto. We will have large amounts in common with those from whom we have separated, and we should cherish both the shared Patrimony and the personal relationships involved, for the good of all both now and in God's unknown future. I do not see a passion for rubbishing Rowan as part of this agenda. And when I see cheap jibes against him it makes me feel kinda (Americanism? Yeah?) protective of a fellow Anglican. Anglicani contra mundum.

But, you say, what about your own sharp comments on some Anglican prelates? Fair enough. I have been quite frank about some of these gentry. But I have done so when they have conducted or expressed themselves offensively towards my friends or those, like the Holy Father, whom I admire. And they find it quite easy to do this. Nor do I declare any moratorium in my comments on such people. Here's another such grumble. On November 16, I emailed the lady who chairs the diocesan ecumenical committee, expressing a hope that they would put in place policies to ensure the closest possible continuing relationships between those who part. She replied with a brush-off: "I don't think we need any extra policies on this matter".

Ecumenism apparently means being nice to 'vanilla' RCs, Methodists, Quakers ... you name it; nice in fact to pretty well everybody you can think of except Catholic Anglicans ... and, of course (remember the disgraceful behaviour of the Bishop of Manchester?) the SSPX.

I suppose, in a way, it's quite fun to be so far beyond the Pale (after all, my beloved Co Kerry is well beyond the Pale). It's the hang-ups of the malevolent that intrigue me.



The Manchester Guardian, Britain's Liberal broadsheet newspaper, now sometimes just called the Guardian, has a long history of hilarious misprints. It was, I believe, the satirical Magazine Private Eye which coined the dyslexis "Grauniad" to refer to it.

23 November 2009


I read, even in Newspapers whose Religious Affairs Correspondents are, you might have thought, paid to know better, that the saintly Walter Kasper ... No: scrub the sarcasm. It's not him I'm getting at but the black-versus-white simplicities of the media who cast Kasper as the Good Guy and Ratzinger as the Bad Guy ...

To resume: Walter Kasper, they say or imply, knew nothing of the Apostolic Constitution and had nothing whatsoever to do with the iniquitous plot to keep it secret from poor Rowan. My problem with this is that Kasper is on the Board of Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Presumably he was present at some of the meetings of that Dikastery as they discussed and redrafted versions of the Constitution? According to the rumour mill, the gestation had been going on for months; originally, the news had been expected as early as 'after Easter'. Do Roman dikasteries circulate papers?

The Constitution was announced on Tuesday October 20. This was fortunate, because Forward in Faith was due to meet the following Friday and Saturday for its regular annual autumn conference. The papers for which, sent out some weeks beforehand, had given an agenda in which we were told that the subject to be discussed would be announced later.

It was. We discussed it. The timing could hardly have been better. The Vatican apparatchiks deserve warm congratulation.

After the Williamson affair, Papa Ratzinger was admonished that he should employ people to watch the internet for him and prevent him from dropping bricks.

Perhaps Rowan should be given similar advice.

Mortally or venially sinful?

At the end of Mass the other day - I was just finishing the three invocations at the end of the Leonine Prayers - a bloke wandered into the church. "Hello Padre", he called. "Hi! But I'm English, not Italian", I replied. "But I was in the Army", he retorted. "The Italian Army!" I cried. "Eccellente! Buongiorno, Capitano! Un espresso, per favore!" "No, the British Army", he carefully explained. " We used to call our Godbotherers 'Padre'".

I felt a bit of a cad afterwards.

20 November 2009

Naming the Bishop

The 1984 Statement of the Jouint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which included such heavyweights as John Zizioulas and Joseph Ratzinger described mention in the Canon of the bishop by virtue of communion with whom one offers Mass as "essential". This may seem a trifle overstated - after all, there are extant Eucharistic Prayers which have failed to do this; are they therefore lacking an 'essential'? - but I believe it does express the ancient notion that the Bishop is the true primary celebrant and, as S Ignatius put it a long time ago, that Eucharist is to be accounted bebaios which is celebrated by the Bishop or by one to whom he commits it.

In the Te igitur of the Roman Canon, the mention of the Bishop is not a prayer for him but an expression of the fact that the presbyteral celbrant offers qua delegate of that bishop.

Together with the mention of the Roman Bishop, the Te igitur thus gives full expression to the synchronic unities which constitute a particular Eucharist as the Eucharist of Christ's entire Catholic Church, and not a ritual activity of a local gathered and autonomous group. The presbyter is at one - ideally! - with his Bishop; the bishops of the world are at one with each other through the ministry of Peter. Ideally!

19 November 2009

Gathering in the Patrimony

These are early days - we don't even know that the Apostolic Constitution will deliver what the Holy Father desires. The Devil has many tricks. But if it does, it is only the beginning of the process of patriating our Tradition and Ethos and Spirituality to Catholic Unity.

Eventually, we shall have to face the question of saintly Anglicans who lived after the schism; and the Calendar - the Canon or List of those commemorated at the Altar.

There are, of course, precedents for regarding as Saints or Beati those who lived outside full communion with the Successor of Peter. There were Saints on each side in the Western Schism - yes, you don't need to remind me that they didn't deny papal authority and they didn't want to be outside the Unity of Peter and they didn't think they were. But IN FACT they were out of communion with the true pope. Whichever one he was: remember, the Magisterium has never definitively decided all the questions there are about which claimant was the pope and which the antipope*. (What is your view about the validity of the elections of Leo VIII and Benedict V?)

Orthodox saints who lived after the breach between East and West have been formally admitted to Calendars of communities in full communion with Rome. I have on my desk a Melkite Calendar which lists some quite recent Russian saints.

And, of course, if Rome is sincere (as I am sure she is) in wanting unity with the East, she can hardly expect Orientals to forget so many of their saints whose names are on the various Orthodox Lists and whose ikons in churches are darkened with centuries of candle smoke.

So this question - or one very much like it - will eventually have to be faced. After all, S Photius was not all bad.


*I am reminded of the 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!

18 November 2009


November 19 is the (earthly) birthday of Blessed King Charles the Martyr (not his heavenly natale). Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus ...


You may have noticed that I don't have any links to other blogs. That is because, in my untechnological illiteracy, I don't know how to do it. But it does have the advantage of sparing me the obligation to attempt to exercise a charism of discernment. In addition, I have a profound suspicion of some areas of the American "Continuum".

But I am told of something called the ACA (correct me if I've got this wrong) which is with the TAC and is part of the TAC impetus towards submission to the Holy See. That being so, I suggest that all good chaps/chappesses and true should give a whirl to a new blog, the anglocatholic, which emanates from that stable. This is certainly a time for all right-thinking people to rally round and support each other, blogically as well as in other ways.


A friend who recently crossed the Tiber recalls with 'guilt' that she helped to persuade Graham Leonard that Women Deacons are Kosher. I'm not sure that guilt isn't anachronistic. At that time we determined to be principled and not to deny something which could, we thought, be found in the Paradosis. Bishop 'Kallistos' Ware gave some impetus to this by, I was told, encouraging one very Catholic young woman to accept (permanently) diaconal orders - and she was publicly applauded as one of us by Bishop Graham. I know that the poor girl (a distinctly clever product of Girton College) was given a very rough time by the wymynprysts and their male running dogs (good Maoist expression, yes?) for declining to seek the presbyterate.

I won't soldier through the evidence on which such assumptions were based nor the reasons why current theological research doubts whether the 'female diaconate' was really such. Even now, however, I am not sure that the Magisterium has explicitly and definitively judged upon this question. If it hasn't, neither have I. If, on the other hand, it has, I support 100% what it has decided. You can't say fairer than that, guv.

I don't know if there are Permanent Women Deacons in our Integrity who might seek reconciliation with the Holy See. If there are, I hope that at some stage Authority can deal sensitively with them; not inconceivably by restoring the old Anglican "Order of Deaconesses", who were explicitly not in Holy Orders and whose functions closely paralleled those of 'women deacons' in the early centuries (would it be appropriate for them to wear stoles, and maniples on their right wrists?). While I'm on about it, may I raise the question also of Readers - men and women - who have given and do give our Church splendid service and deserve not to be discarded in 'Ordinariates'. These are all parts of our Patrimony, and must be items on an eventual list of agenda.

I expect there will be some who will conclude that, after all, Hunwicke is Unsound!

Baroque again

I have been interested by the response to my question about the Baroque.

One intelligent email suggests that the English have a particular problem with the Baroque, and links this with the emotional side of it and the Incarnational. I think this is dead right. The Reformation taught the English to be wary of the Flesh; "Spirituality" has to be etherial and other-worldly. A "spiritual" girl is one with an unhealthy washed-out complexion and vague watery eyes. Mind you, English medieval art was intensely emotional and Incarnational. You can find faded murals in medieval churches, revealed after the removals of layers of whitewash, showing in lurid (Oh dear! Would I have used that philologically inapposite adjective if I were not English?) detail the lacerations of Christ's flesh. It's all a bit like Guinness: we tend to think of stout porter as an Irish beverage, while until the first world war it was made all over the Atlantic archipelago: it's just that it is in Ireland, because of historical accidents, that it has mainly survived. Or bagpipes: they were common to most of Europe until the twentieth century, but in most places they have disappeared, leaving a popular impression that they are mainly Scotch. There's nothing inherently unEnglish about Emotion and Incarnation in ones spirituality; it's just that since the cultural schisms of the sixteenth century, they have been phased out of English religion: leaving them to appear foreign and alien. Yes? And since the Baroque is so superbly capable of expressing the emotional and the Incarnational - and is foreign and papist - the Baroque magnetically attracts to it all the suspicions generated by 450 years of religious and cultural heresy.

Remember Dr Dawkins' illuminating diatribe in the Washington Post: for heavens sake read it if you haven't already. I mean it; you'll learn more from that one interview than from volumes of history, sociology, or psychology. It is so revealing because it shows that it's not religion as such or belief in God as such that gets under his skin, but that horrible thing Catholicism. Dawkins is your typical ignorant English bigot. Honest: scratch nine English out of ten and you'll find Dawkins just under the surface.

Those of you who are within reach of London and have not yet done the excellent NG exhibition of Spanish religious art: can I ask you, after you go, to report back on the reactions of the viewers to the realism with which emotion and suffering are portrayed? I recall one arty historically gent peering down at an alarmingly realistic dead Christ and addressing his companion on the views of Vasari. A defence mechanism - contrived dispassion - against the danger of actual response? A friend of mine picked up a rumour that the attendants had been warned to be on the lookout for nutters who might try to damage the exhibits ... or to pray before them! If I'd known before I went, I would have tried it (the prayer, I mean, not the vandalism) to see what happened.

Hint hint.

Taken for a ride

Yes, I know my piece on the pronouncements of a certain bishop not a million miles from here sounded cross. But I am cross. The first three decades of my life were a time when we told repeatedly that we should let nothing stand in the way of the organic unity of all Christ's Church. It was, we were solemnly informed, a Gospel imperative. Some of you may find this hard to believe; but I so far imbibed these prescriptions that, as a young priest in the Oxford Diocese, I voted for the Anglican-Methodist unity scheme in the late 1960s. Then ARCIC was set up with the aim of resolving the old problems in an atmosphere in which each side would not put any new problems in place. How I rejoiced.

Now it is clear that I, gullible fool, was being taken for a ride. The Ecumaniacs never had any intention whatsoever of restraining themselves from indulging any of their own faddish novelties in the interests of unity - the only fads to be dumped in the rubbish bin ("trashcan" trans mare?) were the fads I had; little details like Episcopacy being part of the esse of the Church, and all that. Now some new Pentecost, apparently, has revealed that the Ordination of Women is an imperative transcending any and every other, including Unity.

I've been made a fool of, and I don't like it. More importantly, Rome (like other Christians further East) has been made a fool of. It invested (as Walter Kasper explained) in ARCIC, only now to be told that Anglicanism has more important games to play than Unity with the Ancient Churches. And these people have the impertinence, the gall, to ask sneering little sarcastic questions about whether Rome is ecumenically serious. Just because Rome has extended a welcome to those of us who remain faithful to the ARCIC hope.

Damn them for their impudent condescensions and deceits.

16 November 2009

The Postman knocks

No sooner than I done the previous post when the Royal Mail (Don't make jokes about the Duke of Edinburgh) delivered Litterae ad Clerum on the lovely pink paper upon which the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, communicates with us.

He has an instinctive talent for the sneering put-down. But I won't elaborate upon that in case I get flooded with comments about people who live in glasshouses. What riled me most was : "I wonder what [Anglicanorum coetibus] really says about Rome's seriousness over ecumenical dialogues and whether the ARCIC programme has a significant future".

Why can't these people just robustly say "We decided to terminate the last phase of the Ecumenical Movement - the phase in which organic union was the aim - because there are very important questions on which we are right and Rome, quite simply, is wrong. This was an impasse round which there is no way until Rome changes her mind".

But no; the b*****s have an insatiable hunger for the Moral High Ground. Since the 1970s, Roman Pontiffs and their emissaries have been begging the Anglican establishment not to place new and very grave obstacles in the way of convergence; but, time and time again, they have been categorically ignored.

And yet they have the bare-faced impudence to enquire whether Rome is "serious" about dialogue. "Dialogue" appears to mean "We do whatever we like whatever the difficulties it creates for you, but we expect you to carry on as if nothing has happened. If you decline to fall in with this agenda, we shovel condescending insults down on you from our own righteous eminence".

Papal Power

There seem to be a lot of bits in the media from Important People, even sometimes the Great and the Good, about how Benedict sinned and behaved "uncollegially" by issuing Anglicanorum coetibus without lengthy consultations with mainstream Anglican bishops and their liberal chums among the RC bishops and Uncle Tom Cobbly and All.

Personally, I regard it as one of the prime functions of the Successor of S Peter to reach out and protect small, orthodox, and persecuted minorities against all manner of heterodox local bully-boys and play-ground tyrants/tyrantesses.

I'm not quite sure where that is spelt out in Magisterial documents. "It isn't", you say? Well then, that is an important item for the agenda of Vatican III. What we need is a stronger and more interventionist Papacy.

14 November 2009

Hans Kung and the Apostolic Constitution

Happily, an article in the Grauniad (October 27) finally shows that Hans Kung now understands the position of Anglican Catholics and the necessity of the Apostolic Constitution.

He quotes with approval what he himself said in 1967, in which he envisaged that the Church of England should "recognise the existence of a pastoral primacy of Petrine ministry as the supreme authority for mediation and arbitration between the churches".

Presumably so distinguished and sharp a theologian must be aware that the Church of England is proposing to embark upon an innovation which would make its entire ministry structurally unnaceptable both to the Tradition of the Latin and Oriental Churches; and, indeed, to that of not a few Anglican Provinces overseas. Obviously, the Bishop of Rome would be remiss if he failed to exercise his 'pastoral primacy' and his 'supreme authority' in a role of 'mediation and arbitration' in so serious a situation. If the maintenance of a priestly ministry acceptable throughout all the particular churches which express the Universal Church is not a duty of such a primacy as Kueng has described, what on earth would be?

And so a couple of years ago the Bishop of Rome sent his special representative for matters of Unity, Cardinal Walter 'I'm Moderate and I smile ' Kasper, to warn the bishops of the C of E that, if they went down a certain path, the way towards unity which had been explored since the 1960s would finally be closed off.

And presumably someone as brilliant and perceptive as Hans Kung will have noticed, in whatever newspapers aged Swiss Germans of the Global Ethic Foundation read, that the C of E bishops totally ignored that message.

13 November 2009


It would be interesting to have hard evidence, modern and premodern, for the Consecration of Chrism by prelates not in episcopal orders. For example, within the jurisdiction of an Abbas nullius where does the Chrism come from? This is interesting because Chrism Masses have become very much part of the heart of ecclesial life in PEV-land.

BTW, a correspondent criticises Anglican Catholic bishops for not always nowadays wearing buskins, gloves, slippers, and all the rest. This reminds me of the action of the great Bishop Kirk of Oxford, who left all his very Counter-Reformation pontificalia to any priest married to a daughter of his who should become a bishop. So they devolved AD REVERENDISSIMUM IN CHRISTO PATREM AC DOMINUM ERICUM WALDRAMNUM KEMP EPISCOPUM CICESTRENSEM SOCIETATIS DEIPARAE VIRGINIS ET DIVI NICOLAI VISITATOREM ECCLESIAE CARNOTENSIS CANONICUM, as I recall I used to write him up in the Lancing Register on the occasion of his visits (I wonder if the Lancing Chapel registers are still done in Latin; so often things go to pot when one retires ...). I presume he still has it all.

Not that that exhausts the Kemp wardrobe. Was he the first C of E diocesan to use modern RC choir dress?

The front cover of the Diocesan Magazine sometimes showed lovely pictures of him pontifically clad in Chartres Cathedral (with which diocese we were twinned) wearing their best (Empress Eugenie) cloth of gold set.

Ah, Patrimony, Patrimony.

But perhaps, if the Ap Con really delivers, French Cathedrals may in a few years time be choc a bloc with exPEVs in the guise of Ordinaries singing Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

You think I'm joking?

12 November 2009


People have been, not unnaturally, surprised at the provision in Anglicanorum coetibus that former Anglican bishops who, being married will not have been promoted to episcopacy by sacramental reconsecration, can be allowed to wear episcopal insignia. As many have commented, this is not without Catholic precedent in the persons of Abbots, archpriests, and certain ranks of monsignori; but I doubt whether one Anglican layperson in ten thousand has ever seen a mitre on top of someone who isn't called 'bishop'.

From time to time, people raise the question of Anglican Orders in correspondence with this blog. I have dealt with this quite recently, and I'm not going to re-re-iterate the hermeneutic I've been advancing since the early 1990s. If newer readers (Hi! welcome!) want to know what I have said, I'm sure that a search will enable them to find it. I will, however, iterate the curiosity I feel about the fact that, for a certain sort of RC, the Invalidity of Anglican Orders seems to be one of the central data of their Faith. I've always wondered why (no no no please don't tell me).

It does occur to me that if Benedict XVI had shared this preoccupation, he ought to have been on the look-out to avoid anything that gave the slightest impression that Anglican Orders might be valid. "Gracious", he should have mumurred, flexing his still slightly stiff wrist, "if I let these chaps continue to wear pontificalia, a lot of their laity will assume that good old 'bishop' so-and-so really was and is a bishop. I'd better legislate to ensure that they never absent-mindedly slip their rings on ... let alone anything else. We must make them promise to burn all their zucchetti. Their daughters will have to donate their coats to the Munich or Regensberg branches of Oxfam".

Mitraferous married Ordinaries will be able to do pretty well everything that 'real' bishops do except Ordination and, I presume, Chrism Masses. They will confirm; and this is perhaps more significant than anything else, given the anally retentive way that Anglican bishops, unlike any others in Christendom, have clung to the exclusive right to confirm. So when a congregation is visited by a prelate who, last time he came, was a PEV (flying bishop), and he's wearing the same mitre and ring and cross that he was wearing then with the same dalmatic under his chasuble, and carrying the same crosier, and he administers Confirmation as he did then, it is the continuities that will strike them rather more than some little technical discontinuities of which they may have been informed.

Benedict seems totally unworried by this. Some of my more ferocious readers must be a trifle disconcerted by his irresponsible levity.

Quite possibly, the poor old gentleman is enough of a Christian not to like rubbing peoples' noses in humiliation. More important, it demonstrates the great advantage of having a Pope who is, to his fingertips, a dogmatic theologian and an erudite one too. It makes him able to distinguish between what matters and what doesn't. And to be flexible where dogma is unthreatened.

11 November 2009

Back to before Nicaea

I skip the statements-of-the-obvious about our Holy Father's generosity in Anglicanorum coetibus (everybody else has been busy doing that) to make a couple of ecclesiological points.

In the nineteenth century, the appointment of bishops in the Latin church was, by a process of bureaucratic centralisation, removed from the local churches who, in primitive days, chose their own Bishop. Previously, various customary processes had survived in a lot of places: election, for example, by the Chapter. By the time that Canon Law came to be revised in the twentieth century, only a handful of examples of the old ways survived. The usage of the Western Church at this present time is that a diplomat - the nuncio - consults around and submits to Rome three names: a terna.

In AC, the terna, it is true, survives. But it is to be submitted to Rome by the Priests' Council, the Governing Body, of the Ordinariate. I find this remarkable ... and I wonder what some episcopal conferences will make of it. This is the first time for centuries that the centralising impetus of the Counter-Reformation has been rolled back. I am not surprised that it is this Pontiff who has done it; I wrote a post some months ago in which I speculated on just such a move by Benedict (you read it all first in Hunwicke). But I am surprised that it is in the Ordinariates erected for 'schismatical' Anglicans that he has made this move. It shows how very great is his confidence in Anglican Catholics. But then ... he has made it his business to find out about us. And (to return to another of my own brilliant diagnoses), since Papa Ratzinger is the first Anglican Pope, he clearly has a personal sympathy and fellow-feeling for us.

The second ecclesiological point is the power he gives to Governing Bodies with regard to the admission of candidates to Holy Orders. Gregory Dix, our Anglican Catholic scourge of prelacy, loved to point out that Jurisdiction, as we know it, did not exist in the early church. "One only has to read the anxious apologies which Cyprian sends to his clergy for having in an emergency ordained a subdeacon and a lector without their express consent, to realise how limited was the bishop's prerogative in such matters. ... in the pre-Nicene Church the bishop's part is simply the essential sacramental act of laying on hands, for which episcopal orders are the indispensible qualification. But he cannot exercise this power at his own discretion, but only with the consent of his church".

For years now, we Anglican Catholics have prided ourselves on having made the rediscovery, through experiencing the Flying Bishop system, of true, unprelatical, episcopacy. Quite a long time ago Rutupiensis said "Remember, fathers, that the only jurisdiction we have is what you give us". We're very proud of this; and I for one regard it as one of the most valuable elements of our Patrimony.

I am glad the Holy Father does too. And I am very impressed by the extent to which he has identified and tried to preserve our Patrimony. Patrimony is not just a matter of Choral Evensong with Vergers and Stanford in Z Flat; and Needlework.

Not that Needlework is without its significance. I hope to return tomorrow with some thoughts about the Pope and the Needlework.

10 November 2009


... the pictures of the solemn requiem from S Mary Magdalene's Brighton ... the picture of the singing of the Gospel, with Dr Reid (who at long last seems to be functioning as a deacon again) ... the server holding the book ... his face seems vaguely familiar ... I'm sure I'll place him if I think for long enough .... no, don't tell me ....but what is that collar he's wearing? It looks vaguely but not quite Oratorian; but the cotta is wrong ...


Does anyone know where the Latin texts of yesterday's documents are?

This needs much careful thought

And I have thought of little else for the last 36 hours. What should be the text of the Te igitur in a certain North American RC diocese (which dares not speak its spooky name ... nuff said)? I suggest una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Benedicto et ineffabili antistite nostro Troctandro et omnibus si qui sint orthodoxis etc..

I know what you're thinking: Is trocte really the Greek for that type of fish? Should it be Anthropotrocto? Keep your comments simple - this is mainly a blog for us plain and unsophisticated Anglicans.But I do feel this is just the kind of contribution we can make to the Wider Church.

Talking about philology: as I hurried back last night by train from a meeting in London to one in Oxford (how busy life seems in retirement) a signal kept flashing in the carriage advising us to read the safety notices "which are located adjacent to the doors". Being a plain and unsophisticated Anglican, scarcely capable, to quote Dr Dawkins, "of the humble and unexacting duties of a priest", I asked a passing Bangladeshi, who looked intelligent, what it meant. "It means 'which are by the doors'" he said.

Thank heaven for the Ethnic Minorities.


I do not intend to respond to, or take seriously, correspendents who address or refer to me as "Vicar Hunwicke". I would be grateful if such persons would give vent to their bad manners somewhere else and keep off my blog.

I have never been a vicar.

9 November 2009

Facing Facts

It is very important that we consider the exact wording of the Apostolic Constitution carefully. After all, God has made us rational beings. But it is even more important that we Anglican Catholics face up to the fact that we are at a historical turning point.

For most of my lifetime, the Ecumenical Movement seemed (I put it like that because it is arguable that it was already flawed and leaky below the waterline) to be going places. However messy things might be, there seemed to be gradual convergence. ARCIC did say some remarkable things; and, at the ground level, there was indisputable liturgical convergence.

The plain fact is that things are now wholely different. The Anglican elite has set out, knowingly, on a path of divergence. And it is not just a divergence in the field of ideas. The insertion of women's ordination into the ministerial structures of Anglican provinces means that we no longer have problems which can be solved by a better mutual understanding of the common Faith. Words are not going to solve this problem. Ordained women are a physical and structural reality which cannot be glossed into oblivion by theological wordsmiths, however erudite and imaginative. Every time just one more woman is 'ordained' to Major Orders, the gap between Anglicanism and the Ancient Churches widens.

Many people wondered why Benedict kept Walter Kasper in position. The two had never got on well; only months before the Conclave they had been publicly at war. I believe that the Holy Father left Kasper where he was for three reasons: The Pope desperately wanted - and wants - unity; Kasper had established contacts and a personal reputation among non-RCs; and Benedict knew that, if he replaced him with X, nobody would take X seriously - 'He's just a Ratzinger hardliner', they would have cried.

The crucial kairos was when Kasper came to talk to the English Anglican bishops. That was the instant when Kasper's ecumenical credit and reputation had a chance to bear fruit. What was it all for if not for just this moment?

He returned to Rome empty-handed.

In a secular business enterprise, what would be the standing of somebody who had been shown - despite his years of hard work and his boasted network of close personal relationships - to be a busted flush; an operative unable to deliver?

The reason why Kasper was not involved in the presentation for the Apostolic Constitution is that the Anglican Bishops had sent him away with nothing. It is they who turned Kasper and his entire ecumenical method into a historical irrelevance.

They made clear that they were determined to pursue a path of ever broader divergence.

To suggest that it is Benedict who has perpetrated an ecumenical disaster is quite preposterous.
Every bishop who, at that fateful July Synod, voted for women bishops, stuck his own personal stiletto between Kasper's ribs. And if they did not realise that this is what they were doing, they were fools. Well, they are. There has rarely been a time when the English bench of bishops has been of poorer quality; when Carey retired they had to go outside England to find a plausible successor.

The Apostolic Constitution is the Good which God, in his usual boring old way, has brought out of Evil.

8 November 2009


I'm feeling very excited, because the Great Fr Zed has referred to a certain megacranky American RC bishop as "Ineffable Trautman".

Excited, because (so the SEARCH facility reveals) on Feb 9 and July 5 this year I did just that on my blog.

Does this mean that Fr Zed reads my humble little blog? Or is it a matter of Great Minds Thinking Alike? Or did Fr Zed coin the phrase earlier than me and then it rested in my subconscious? Or (Source Criticism as applied the Synoptic Gospels kicks in here) was the phrase in some yet earlier and even more exciting document we could call Urhunwicke or Protozed or the Bloggenquelle?

There must be some pedant who reads this blog and could research the answer.

Ordo Ordo Ordo Ordo

I would be very hurt if I thought that any reader had not already bought a copy of my 2010 Ordo. But I would like to commend an Ordo which is not mine - although it is compiled by a friend of mine.


will enable you to order the S Lawrence Press Ordo.

This fine and elegantly produced ORDO provides information about the Roman Calendar and Rite as it was left on the Accession of Pius XII (although there are just two or three ... I'll come clean: I've only spotted two ... small indications that the world did not end in 1939). That cut-off is very well chosen; the Pontificate of Pius XII is the beginning of Bugnini. That gentleman began his wrecking career as Secretary of the Commission which 'reformed' the rites of Holy Week. This is commonly thought of as a mere detail; but it is not. Holy Week and the Easter Vigil are the most significant points of the Christian Year, and Bugnini changed them in ways even more radical and subversive than he subsequently did the rest of the Roman Rite. The Bug***i got away with it because - we had better be honest - the liturgical rites of Holy Week had come to be largely ignored by the great majority of the laity. They were not of obligation and they were lengthy and they were opaque.

Pius XII was not the Start of the Rot. Pius X changed the rubrics regarding the Calendar. Thus, before his time, a large number of Sundays were obscured by the permanent fixing onto the xth Sunday of Ymonth of lollipop celebrations which superseded them (see my Holy Relics post on November 5). Pius X put the lollipops onto fixed days and restored the Sunday Masses; but, out of pastoral sensitivity and an instinct for a Hermeneutic of Continuity he allowed the Lollipop masses to continue to be said on the Sundays they previously owned (the S Lawrence ORDO gives these optional survivals of the previous Baroque Calendar).

Pius X also messed up the distribution of the Breviary Psalter, eliminating, for example, psalms 148-149-150 from their permanent position at daily Lauds. Since this usage had been part of the worship of devout Jews in the time of our Incarnate Lord, a lot of liturgists were rather grumpy about it. And even Papa Sarto was not the first to breach the really ancient continuities; in the 1620s Urban VIII completely rewrote the Breviary Hymns to make them sound as if they had been written by the pagan Augustan poet Horace. Vatican II rightly ordered the ancient texts to be restored. As I have explained in recent posts (have you tried the SEARCH engine on this blog?), the invention of printing was the crucial factor which made such papal arrogance a viable possibility, and led to its apotheosis in the post-Vatican II disasters. God bless Benedict XVI for beginning a process of rolling it all back.

And the S Lawrence ORDO will also show you the full old system of commemorations. You see ... but no: I've written on that also - on the synchronic and diachronic unities involved - not long ago. Try the SEARCH facility!

If you get the S Lawrence ORDO and constantly revisit my former posts through SEARCH, you will begin to discover just how revolutionary and discontinuous the Missal of 1962 is; and how unworthy to be treated in a fundamentalist way. That was something Mgr Lefebvre got wrong.

7 November 2009

Stable Groups in the Patrimony

Our Holy Father provided, in his motu proprio, that where Stable Groups (sound like Guilds attached to the Christmass Cribs, don't they?) exist and request it, the Pastor should provide them with Mass in the EF. Happily, a Stable Group has sprung into life ex nihilo in an ecclesiastical Peculiar within this City and informally attached to this University (no names, no pack-drill. Whatever does that peculiar phrase mean?).

I would have been very willing, had the Pastor concerned not responded positively to this admirable request, to assist the Group in its appeal to the Bishop of O****d to get him to direct the Principal, Dr B***r, to fulfil the requirements of Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, had the Diocesan himself then proved remiss, I could have helped them in their further appeal to the Ecclesia Dei section of the Inquisition, God bless it, so as to make them require poor P*******d to provide for the legitimate needs of this Group.

But, fortunately, Dr B***r has proved willing ... indeed, enthusiastic ... to perform his canonical duty. So I don't have to bother. How good it is when a priest obeys to the letter the Church's liturgical law.

I regard this as another example of the Anglican Patrimony vigorously at work. We have so much to contribute to the Wider Church.

5 November 2009

More Patrimony

I apologise for being unjust to the SSPX by not mentioning that they have gone a lot further than FSSP; they have actually invested a lot of money in the Anglican Patrimony.

The chapel of their English House near Bristol, formerly an Anglican convent, was the work of George Frederick 'Anglican Patrimony' Bodley [we have a Bodley cope at S Thomas's].

Happily, SSPX has not 'reordered' the chapel - a fate which usually befalls former Anglican Patrimony buildings taken over by the mainstream RCC.

I Respond ...

... to two comments appended to a recent post:
(1) The declaration about women being not capaces of receiving Holy Order was declared to be an example of the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
(2) Cardinal Ratzinger declared that Apostolicae curae was not de fide but was definitively to be believed. He said nothing about the current situation with regard to Anglican Orders, which of course is quite different from the situation in the 1890s. This was made clear when the former Bishop of London was asked - by Joseph Ratzinger - to be ordained to the presbyterate only sub conditione.

4 November 2009


I blinked ... there on the FSSP website was a picture of EF High Mass at the East Altar of Pusey House, showing the very 'Comper' gold-leafed pillars holding up the baldachino and the immensely 'Comper' stained glass.

An illusion; it was really London Colney: both buildings, of course, were built for Catholic Anglicans by Sir Ninian 'Anglican Patrimony' Comper.

How good that the FSSP feels so at home in the Anglican Patrimony.

And how natural.

A dash of prolepsis here, do you think?


I am sure most readers will know about an attempt to present a million-signature petition to the UN - an organisation seriously at risk of being an abortion-enforer. C-fam.

3 November 2009


Since this topic is again a bit of a talking-point, I will (again) quote some words of Cardinal Ratzinger, which seem to me the most remarkable observation made on Papal powers - by someone who subsequently became Pope - for well over a thousand years.

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of Faith ... Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.
Since this is how Benedict XVI sees papal power, how can any catholic-minded person have any objection to it?

2 November 2009

Episcopal fallibility

Eadwinus quondam episcopus Rutubensis ... sounds like a quote from Bede, doesn't it? Or Eadwine biscop in Reptacestir ... could be from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. But I refer of course to the admirable blogger signing himself as Ancient Richborough. And he's WRONG. Thorpe le Soken is in Essex and Essex is NOT part of East Anglia. It is the Kingdom of the East Saxons and NO RELATION of that shambles to its North, the kingdom of the East Angles; divided as they are into two equally lamentable halves, the North Folk and the South Folk (Norfolk and Suffolk). I feel strongly about this because I am an Essex Man. Since both of these kingdoms of the Heptarchy were within the Richborough Apostolic District, its first Apostolic Administrator ought to know better.

But his blog - perhaps the most readable there is - does give an illustration of the Zucchetto Daughter seu potius Scarlet Woman whom I mentioned a day or two ago; and also of myself. Why do I never photograph well?

And it also blows the gaff on the last paragraph of Dr Ward's sermon, which I, ever tactful, hesitated to blow on my blog. Since Bishop Edwin has done so, I will add another detail: Fr Robin also said that if you want to jump over a wall, you'll get a softer landing if you leap where the wall is lowest.

Now I wonder whatever that can have meant.

I will leave it to a third blogger to bring into the public domain the testicular implications of all this.

The Parting of Friends

On the wireless on Sunday morning, an interview with Fr Killwick, chairman of the Catholic Group on General Synod. Unlike his recent predecessors in that position, he was rejecting the Roman Option because it would involve accepting unacceptable doctrines such as Papal Infallibillity and the 'Marian Dogmas'. At the Westminster F in F meeting, the Bishop of Fort Worth made similar remarks.

This was a common standpoint a couple of generations ago: 'Non-Papal Catholicism'. Conceptually, of course, it was exploded by Dom Gregory Dix's masterly demonstration back in the 1930s that 'the Papal doctrines' are inherent to the Catholic Faith and not just 'Romanising additions'. And ARCIC has, after all, provided ways of understanding Papal Primacy and Infallibility which keep the meaning while putting them into more cuddly language. I don't see how anyone can look at the actual texts of Vatican I without realising (as Newman did when he, a very apprehensive man, saw what the Council decrees actually said; and heaved a great sigh of relief as he realised that the Ultramontanes had lost the battle of the small print) that unless you want to find them problematic, you can find easily ways of glossing them acceptably. The plain fact is that Killwick's sort of churchmanship was for long an alibi that some Catholic-minded Anglicans clung to to save them from the complexities and possible inconveniences of accepting the Petrine Ministry.

Bishop John Broadhurst spoke for many at Westminster when he quite frankly and honestly admitted that, a decade or so ago, that was his position; but that now he had come to understand things. For very many, it is the C of E which has taught them that Catholicism without the Magisterium is not just conceptually flawed but, in the real world, just plain impractical. (Not for me. More than fifty years ago I formally joined a Papalist organisation, the Catholic League, which required that postulants sign their adherence to the decrees of Vatican I and Trent.)

There will be those now who follow Fr Killwick in clinging to this ancient alibi. It will be more because they want to find problems with Vatican I than because can't accept it.

They will always be our friends, and we shall never forget the fun we had together.


Getting out my rosary in between Mass Number Two and Mass Number Three, it occurred to me: is it correct, on All Souls' Day, to say Requiem aeternam rather than Gloria Patri at the end of each decade?

1 November 2009


High Mass at Pusey yesterday morning, celebrating their 125th birthday. The buzz went around afterwards, at the beanfeast, that if anybody wants to know what this 'Anglican Patrimony' is, well, it's the sort of thing we had this morning. The Mass was celebrated by the Principal, Dr Baker; the choir sang a new setting of the Mass commissioned for the occasion. We had a sparkling sermon from Dr Ward, in which he presented what I can only describe as a thoroughly rococo piece of scriptural exegesis. He claimed - well, he would, wouldn't he - that it came from somewhere in S Gregory.

One acute critic expressed concern about the number of clerics going up for Communion; surely, he observed, they should have said their own masses earlier. I think I agree (I certainly had done so). I was most impressed by one of the bishops in the congregation (concelebratory games have never infected the worship at Pusey) who was accompanied by a very elegantly dressed daughter. Her coat was exactly the same shade as her father's zucchetto. There's another bit of Anglican patrimony for you.

I don't know why it is - after all, the tune is just another of those hammy old Victorian melodies, and in any case I generally refuse to sing vernacular hymns - but the hymn Sweet Sacrament Divine never fails to get the tears pricking at the backs of my eyes. (Once when arranging a United Service in Co Kerry, I nominated it to my RC opposite number as one of the hymns from 'our' side. "Ah", he said, "the older members of my congregation will enjoy that". And they did.) I particularly like the phrase "Earth's light and Jubilee", although I'm not quite sure what 'jubilee' means here; simply 'joy', perhaps. Another bit of Patrimony. Likewise, Jerusalem the Golden, with the lovely phrase "conjubilant with song". And John Mason Neale, the brilliant translator of this hymn by S Bernard as well as of so much Latin Hymnody into English - he's a definite piece of Patrimony. Since he translated the original texts, uncorrupted by Urban VIII, texts which in accordance with conciliar mandate have returned in the Liturgy of the Hours (and never disappeared from the Monastic Office), his renderings are more up-to-date than those of his RC rivals. The other phrase in his rendering of Urbs Sion, "social joys", neatly gets another aspect of Patrimony much in evidence this weekend. (A devout lady once questioned the line "The shout of them that feast" "People don't shout while they're eating", she observed. How should I have dealt with that?)

As we worshipped Christ the Redeemer whose Propitiation, as Origen neatly put it, comes from the East, the morning sun shone brightly through Sir Ninian ('Patrimony') Comper's great stained glass Pantocrator in the East window. In my blog not long ago, there were some signs of RC unease about my naughty insistence that versus orientem and facing-the-same-way-as-the-people are not necessarily the same thing; and that the former has enormous patristic and traditional support while the latter has none at all and has to be defended on quite different grounds (such as, for example, those persuasively adduced by Joseph Ratzinger). As I walked up S Giles to Pusey, a penny dropped: there are three fine churches in that street: Blackfriars; Pusey House; the Oratory. All three are built along an East-West axis. Only Pusey, however, has the Altar at the East end; the two RC churches have their altars at the West end so that to face East, as the Fathers desired to do, means facing the people. One American RC correspondent informs me that in North America RC churches pretty universally ignore the ancient Christian and Ecumenical principle of Orientation. He seems to think that this creates some problem for the point I made.

I can only say "The problem is yours. If your forebears had had a more Anglican sense of a hermeneutic of continuity, you wouldn't have this difficulty. What you need is a strong dose of Patrimony".

And I think Smugness is very much at the heart of Patrimony.