31 December 2010

Lose some, win some

In a minute's time, at midnight, clergy and laity in the Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and Fulham Apostolic Districts all suddenly become sedevacantist.

This may not constitute the End of the World.

The Bishop of Beverley, it seems, has cast himself in the role occupied in 1559 by Anthony Kitchin, Bishop of Llandaff. He should never have been made a PEV. People who have done time in the mainstream as suffragans are ipso facto unsuitable.

Indeed, the entire Northern Province appears to have entered a status in partibus infidelium. It clearly needs a new S Wilfrid to bring it tidings of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Faith. Orthodoxy abhors a vacuum.

Public School head masters ...

... how they do run for cover, like a lot of wee timorous conies.

The head of Clifton College, anxious to distance his establishment from a member of his CR who retired in 2001 and is now suspected of an offence, said that very few of the (present) teaching staff would ever have met him.

Really? Has there been a near-complete turnover at Clifton in only ten years?

It must be a pretty dodgy school if nobody wants to stay there teaching, or if masters have to be sacked for incompetence with such frequency that there is almost nobody there now who taught there before 2001.

How very droll, head master.

Pull the other one, head master.

29 December 2010

...Logotheta ...

Some good stuff on that thread.


I have been rereading the 2003 article by the Byzantinist liturgical scholar and Jesuit, Fr Robert Taft, which deals with the 2001 Decision of three Roman dikasteries and of Pope John Paul II with regard to sacramental exchange between the Assyrian ("Nestorian") Church and the Churches in unity with Rome. You will remember that this Agreement adopted the principle that the Anaphora of Ss Addai and Mari, which lacks Words of Institution, was nevertheless sufficient for a valid Eucharist.

You get here a rather embarassing conflict between two different concepts of "Tradition". There can be a "narrower" view (in this case the instence in the Latin Churches that the Words are essential to Consecration*). "Traditionalists" can point to enactments of a more recent Magisterium which appear to offer strong support to the "narrower" view. On the other hand, it is possible to take a "broader" view (such as that adopted by the Vatican in 2001 and supported by Taft) which looks at undoubtedly "magisterial" facts such as the acceptance by the Roman Church for centuries of the sufficiency of Eucharistic Prayers which lack the Words. Each of these viewpoints can with considerable plausibility claim the support of both Tradition and Magisterium.

Advocates of the "narrower" view could attempt to trump the "broader" by pointing out
(1) that Tradition develops; so that what Pius VII said in 1822, being later than the praxis of the first millennium, is more "refined", ergo more "definitive"; and
(2) that the early centuries developed consensuses which it is not now open to us to unpick: such as the Canon of Scripture and the Threefold Ministry.
They could then plausibly argue that certain minimum ingredients, or structures, in a Eucharistic Prayer have that same degree of immutable canonicity. Taft, in my view, fails to acknowledge the strength of such arguments as these.
To these considerations I would add another: the Narrative of the Last Supper constitutes the only pericope in the entire Pauline Corpus giving a detailed account - words and actions - of an episode in the incarnate life of the Word. S Paul tells us that he had handed on to his Corinthian converts the Narrative which he had himself received. This is very far from proving that the Narrative was part of a 'Pauline' Eucharistic Prayer ... but ... it does make one wonder.

Nevertheless, I find it difficult to dispute the position adopted by the Magisterium in 2001 and vindicated in Taft's paper. An example of a 'magisterial' enactment which everybody for centuries has been anxious either to forget or to bury: the Decretum pro Armeniis of 1442 laid it down (among other things, such as the consecratory nature of the Words) that the Porrectio Instrumentorum is the Matter of the Sacrament of Order. But not only has this decree been treated as of no effect by both Leo XIII and Pius XII, it was not even viable in its own day - since the praxis of the See of Peter then, before then, and after then, was to accept that the Orders of all the Eastern Churches were valid despite their lack of this 'matter'. Taft deals with such impasses by elaborating what he calls principles of "ecumenical scholarship". Before we succumb to the temptation to See Red at this invocation of the divisive crunch word "ecumenical", I think we need to be fairly sure that we have a solution up our own sleeves which is better than his. I must confess that I do not.

Interestingly, in Taft's "Priciples of Ecumenical theology" there are some sections [my italics] which seem to me to relate not a little to the question of the Ordination of Women.
(1) The theological foundation for this method is our faith that the Holy Spirit is with God's Church, protecting the integrity of its witness, above all in the centuries of its undivided unity ...
(2) Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Eastern Churches to be the historic apostolic Christianity of the East, and Sister Churches of the Catholic Church. Consequently, no view of Christian tradition can be considered anything but partial that does not take full account of the age-old, traditional teaching of these Sister Churches. Any theology must be measured not only against the common tradition of the undivided Church, but also against the on-going witness of the Spirit-filled apostolic tradition of the East ...
(4) Those who have unilaterally modified a commonly accepted tradition of the undivided Church bear the principal responsibility for any divisions caused thereby ...

It is worthy of note that the innovations favoured by some Anglicans in the matter of women in sacerdotal ministry run directly contrary to an emerging ecumenical methodology the dynamic of which is to reconcile the Churches in full Communion with the Roman See of Peter with those ancient bodies which lack the fulness of that communion. The Anglican ecclesial community is thus navigating away, not just from the current magisterial locus of the Roman See, but from an ecumenical construct which, if anything, is even broader, and yet more ancient, and with greater testimonies from the Spirit-filled life all the Ancient Churches, than we ourselves have claimed.

The advocates of such innovations have long-since made up their minds upon the basis of considerations which lack any awareness of such points as I make above. The time for rational argument with them has long since passed ... even if, given the blind dogmatism of our opponents, it ever existed. But it is natural for Anglicans considering an Ordinariate solution to be quite clear about the imperatives which drive them; imperatives which are broader and more fundamental than even we ourselves claim.


* The Order of Communion of 1548 and the Prayer Book of 1662 reveal that the Church of England is doctrinally committed to the narrowest conceivable expression of this Western convention; Consecration is effected simply by reading the paragraph [Jesus Christus] pridie quam ... Corpus meum.

28 December 2010

Invisible Saints

On my desk lie several ORDOs; I have just looked at the admirable S Laurence Press ORDO and the less admirable SSPX product*. On Sunday after Christmas ... back in those happy days before the Holy Family had migrated from Epiphany I to Christmas I ... SLP, reflecting the pre-Pius XII usage, gives S Stephen. SSPX, following the Bugnini dislike of Saints on Sundays, gives the Sunday (which SLP transfers to the free feria of Thursday; I wonder what the antiquity of this usage is and what readers think of it). SSPX does at least, unlike post-conciliar calendars, allow S Stephen a commemoration. Common Worship continues an Anglican tradition of allowing Saints to supersede Sundays except on Sundays in Advent, Easter and Lent ... or to be superseded and transferred ad lib to a free weekday. In fact, the earlier Anglican custom, dating from the 1928 Prayer Book Calendar (when full provision first began to be made for occurences and concurrences) and in use de facto until the reforms of 1967-1980, followed the pre-Bugnini Roman practice of favouring the Saint. There has been thus a consistent bias in the Anglican Patrimony of being more relaxed about Saints on Sundays than Roman tinkerers are.

Bishop Andrew Burnham's book commends this Anglican instinct. It has practical and didactic advantages: under the modern Roman system, Sunday worshippers never get exposed to all those Saints' days. Theologically, it might be pointed out that each time martyr sheds his blood in witness, this is an entering into, and expression of, the Pascha of the Lord's Suffering and of his Entrance into Glory; and is thus by no means unsuitable to be commemorated on a Sunday.


*I would be very happy to have look at the American SSPX ORDO, which is at least in Latin rather than in some degenerate Gallic Romance dialect. But Angelus press tell me that the packaging would make it prohibitively expensive for them to send me a review copy.

22 December 2010


As the people of the Three Kingdoms* shovel the unseasonal snow off their cars and listen on their radios to the journalists speculating on the newest attempts to combat Global Warming, I marvel that they accept these contradictions with such dazed passivity. (What is the Official Explanation? Is it the old notion that Warming will make the polar ice-cap disgorge massive icebergs which will then divert the Gulf Stream from our shores?) Happily, someone has dug up a piece from the Indescribably Boring in March 2000 about how Global Warming means that snow is pretty well a thing of the past as far as Britain is concerned. It cites the gurus of the Climatic Research Unit at the soi disant University of East Anglia as saying that snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event". (I rather think that these may be the jokers who got their fingers badly burned a few months ago when leaked emails led to unkind suggestions that they were doing an amusing line in suppressio veri.)

I went agnostic on all this business a few months ago, when the politically correct classes used the infallibility inherent in their new secular Magisterium to condemn "Global Warming Deniers"; these people are presumably to be reprobated and, soon, to be imprisoned, just like those daft Holocaust Deniers (I emphatically state that I do not myself also question the overwhelming evidence about the appalling genocide, a crime easily comparable with the Armenian and Stalinist genocides of the last century, inflicted upon the Jews during the Hitler years).

I wonder if readers would like to construct a Tridentine-style anathema to express the newly defined heresy of Global Warming Denial? Or, if there is a difference, Climate Change Denial? To remind you of the genre, I offer my own attempt at an anathema to condemn Holocaust deniers.

Si quis negaverit sexagiens centena milia* Hebraeorum malevolentia Imperii Germanici Tertii per annos belli quod Alterum et Universale nuncupatur interempta esse: ANATHEMA SIT.


*Three Kingdoms: the old way speaking about the British Isles - the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; technically obsolete (except among Jacobites who regard all 'statutes' since 1688 as null) since 1707 but still found in the pages of Jane Austen. Sexagiens etc. ... er ... is this how one does 6,000,000? The Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis offers milio and attributes it to Helfer.

21 December 2010


I don't know if you spot this too: it is uncanny how often the Pope mentions something in the Old Calendar or the traditional euchology. I'm sure that he has imposed upon himself a self-denying discipline of always using the Ordinary Form (until SSPX conform?) for his public and private masses. But he undoubtedly keeps an eye on Tradition. In his allocution to the Roman Curia, he repeated over and over again the phrase Excita Domine potentiam tuam et veni; although all those splendid old Excita collects were shifted off the Sundays of Advent by Bugnini's semi-Pelagian sidekicks. Another example: yesterday the Vatican Information Service quoted his words about S Thomas the Apostle.

It is, of course, pure chance that S Thomas the Apostle, in the Traditional Calendar, comes on December 21, just before Christmas; "Interrupting", as Dr Bugnini primly put it, "the series of the Great Ferias of Advent". My problem with the rational transference of the Apostle to July is that he seems an admirable Patron Saint of Christmas ... if you can get your minds round that rather bizarre formulation.

The old Roman Mass-texts for Christmas are full of Light; there is poured upon us the new light of the Incarnate Word; God has made this most sacred Night bright with the shining of the True Light; we know the Mysteries of His Light on Earth; the new Light of His brightness has shone upon our minds. This reminds us of the theme of Illumination which the Tradition has always associated with Initiation. So the Baptised might be called the Illuminati; the Johannine pericope of the Healing of the Man Blind from Birth may be part of the Lenten propers preparing for Easter Night. Faith is Enlightenment; Faith is when the penny drops and we see everything rearranged in a new pattern; Faith is not so much the infusion by miraculous means of knowledge inaccessible by natural means as the radical restructuring of what the Carnal Man knows, but knows blindly. S Thomas saw the Risen Lord and thus saw all things differently, saw that the Rabbi of Nazareth was My Lord and My God.

Dom Gregory Dix talked about becoming what you are. Baptised we may be; yet our Illumination is not a static episode in the past but a becoming which is part of our daily being. We are never finished with the growth into seeing reality as God its creator created it and sees it.

19 December 2010

Imperial plurals

In my beautiful, red leather, Missale Romanum (e Typographia Haniquiana), 1840, last Saturday's festival of the Expectation of the Childbearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary is marked in the Missae Sanctorum celebrandae aliquibus in locis ex indulto Apostolico as "Pro omnibus Hispaniarum Regi subjectis" ("For all the subjects of the King of the Spains").

Am I right in suspecting that the idea of using plurals when referring to a King of a world-wide empire began with His Most Catholic Majesty? That Third Rome then cribbed it ("Autocrat of all the Russias")? And that after dear Dizzy had proclaimed his lady friend Empress of India, the people in charge of the inscriptions on our coins adopted it: "Britanniarum omnium Regina Indiae Imperatrix" ("Queen of all the Britains, Empress of India"*)? Or had the Hanoverians used it previously? Are there other examples?


*I think I am right in recalling that the Director General of the British Museum, in his recent "History of the World in 100 Objects" series, translated it as " ... of all Britain". There's Art Historians for you. Show them the simplest piece of Latin and you can infallibly rely upon them to mistranslate it.

17 December 2010

This will certainly save her life

I think I saw that Dr Dawkins had put his name to the appeal on behalf of the Iranian woman under sentence of death. Just imagine how that will move and impress the Ayatollahs. "Goodness Gracious! The leading British atheist is one of her friends! Release her immediately!"

15 December 2010


A grateful ThankYou to the anonymous friend who sent a very kind and generous Mass stipend for EF requiems for the repose of their late parents. I was most touched. I shall say eight such Masses between now and the end of January. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

14 December 2010

Capital punishment

Make no mistake, I am opposed to Capital Punishment for the reasons set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But when I see an Appeal signed by the Great and the Good, demanding clemency for an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery and murder, it makes me wonder if the Great and the Good are barking mad. This missive is addressed to a state which claims to be Islamic and to follow Islamic Law. Moreover, it is a state which is trying to achieve parity of nuclear menace with the state of Israel. Yet the Appeal numbers among its signatories ... well-known Jews and women notorious for their life-style.

Would it not be more likely to be taken seriously by the Iranian Government if it did not flaunt the support of Jews and of immoral women? Or are the Great and the Good more concerned to polish and display their Greatness and Goodness before their own admiring Western media than to save this poor woman's life?

13 December 2010

Are you listening, Fr Hope Patten?

... as three nuns are shown the door from your shrine for desiring unity with the Holy See? What a shame, in retrospect, that Walsingham ever gave up being a papalist fortified position, in Yelton's words, and became C of E. Does anyone seriously doubt that within a decade there will be 'women celebrants' at its altars?

I wonder if the papalist foundation stone of the Holy House will be removed or covered up?

10 December 2010

Diairmid McCullough, or however he is spelt ...

Sauntering through Blackwells the other day, to pick up the Holy Father's Interview book, I stopped by D M's History of Christendom, which is now at the paperback stage of its decline. I dipped into it.

I do, somewhat boldly, think that there are some areas in which I have a very modest competence, but I am extremely aware of the boundaries of my knowledge (for example, I most certainly am not a historian). So I have a test which I apply particularly to the writings of people who produce Big Books in subject areas which are not my own (by the way, on the subject of Big Books in general, three cheers for the views of the greatest of the Greek poets, Callimachus).

The Hunwicke test is this. I find some topic in his discussion in which the Big Writer has strayed into an area in which I do know something. And I test his assertions. My assumption is that if it turns out that he is writing a load of tasteless white fish with small, needle-like bones* in an area in which I am able to judge him, there is every possibility (or at the very least a risk) that he is just as unreliable, tendentious, or crooked in areas where I do not have competence.

DM decides to tell us about the Kyries. He makes two assertions. The first is that the threefold Kyries (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison) are ever-present 'mantras' in Byzantine liturgy. The second is that in the Roman Rite they are relics of the period when the worship of the Roman Church was in Greek. Each of these assertions is untrue, the former partially and the latter totally. The paragraph concerned does not even condescend to offer a footnote directing us to any evidence for these crass assertions of inaccuracy and falsehood.

You may tell me that in so very Big a Book, it is unreasonable for a writer to be expected never to make little errors. "Don't be a pedant. Go for his Big Picture."

I could not more profoundly disagree with you. Any Big Picture is built up of innumerable small brush-strokes. If a man is slipshod about his details, it will be, to a greater or lesser extent, probable that his Big Picture is not worth the paper, so to speak, which it is written on. And in any case, nobody is under a legal or moral obligation to write Big Books. If someone chooses to do so, he should either get his facts straight or be excoriated for not doing so.



9 December 2010

Browsing completely aimlessly ...

... as one so often does on the internet, I found myself reading about "Allen Hall". I discovered myself informed that the motto of the college is Vivamus in spe, "which means We Live In Hope".

Oh dear me. Whatever would the erudite and admirable Cardinal Allen have said about so elementary a howler as not knowing the difference between indicatives and subjunctives? Obviously not a place where the Extraordinary Form is lovingly and carefully inculcated.

Can anyone explain to me the origins of the impaled arms? Is the Heraldry as dodgy as the Latinity?

6 December 2010


I've often wondered about the etymology of this old English surname. Now I know. Having said an Mass of S Nic in the Old Rite in S Thomas's, I had a phone call from a brother priest whom a sudden call prevented from saying his scheduled 12.00 EF Mass. So I dashed over (ah: another question of philology for you: does the noun 'bination' mean there is a verb 'binare'? so that I could say "cucurri binaturus ad ecclesiam S N ..."?) and found a very nice little congregation awaiting me; not to mention one of the classiest of the late Fr Melrose's Altar Missals. What a pleasure to be invited.

But a quick flip through last Friday's Catholic Herald at the back of the Oratory revealed to me a letter by "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells", infuriated that the Old Rite is spreading like wildfire among Anglicans too, and attacking me personally for saying Latin Masses. I presume it must be from some Liberal RC. When will these people get it straight that the Sovereign Pontiff has laid down that any priest of the Latin Rite can say the "EF" whenever he wishes?

I hope nobody tells the poor chap or chappess that every academic term which starts at Oxford is marked by a Latin celebration.

5 December 2010

Conditional Ordination for Ordinariate Anglicans?

A good technical case could, it is true, be made for this on the grounds of the Bishop Graham Leonard precedent. But, in his case, the CDF considered the orthodoxy or otherwise of every 'link' in the ordinations which led from the Dutchmen to the Bishop who ordained him priest. It cannot be anything other than a profound mistake in practical terms to attempt to clutter up the beginning of an Ordinariate with the sort of paper chases and delays which would be involved. And it would create an invidious divide between most of us and a few worthy priests who, because of age or because they were ordained in other parts of the Anglican Communion, were priested by bishops who had not contracted the Dutch Touch. So, my strong conviction is: NO ... just don't go there.

But is there a problem in conscience about 'receiving again' the Sacrament of Order when one is morally certain that one has already received it? This did indeed trouble Blessed John Henry Newman. But he willingly accepted it after being assured that the conditionality would be "implied in the Church's intention" (Ker pp 321 and 466). In view of the repeated assurances given, to the effect that clergy entering into full communion are not being required to deny the validity of anything they have previously received or done, and the careful statement of Fr Aidan Nichols that the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not now unconditionally proposed by the Roman Magisterium, I feel that the understanding which satisfied Newman should be good enough for less brilliant minds than his. Indeed, if the Magisterium took the view that those entering an Ordinariate must accept the invalidity of their current Orders, either explicitly or constructively, they would presumably have required that, before even applying for admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, Anglican clergy should have ceased performing sacrilegious simulations of the Eucharist. This is, quite simply, not the line which, so I gather, has been or is being taken either in Rome or locally.

Trent did indeed say, as a correspondent reminds me, that three sacraments non possunt iterari. The present indicative of possunt demonstrates that this is simply a statement of fact. If "Ordination I" was valid, then "Ordination II" is as a matter of fact a nullity. If "Ordination II" is valid, then "Ordination I" must have been a nullity.

I do, however, have a preference about how things are 'done'. If Anglican priests were 'reordained' at a grand, public, triumphalist ceremony, this might have the body-language of "These men were not really priests before". And it could be extremely damaging to ecumenical relationships generally - something which Rome and - so they keep telling us - Westminster too, are rightly anxious to avoid. But if the proceedings were private and low-key (like the ordinations of Bishop Leonard and a number of others), the Anglican Establishment need not be offended, and the conviction of Anglicans that their priesthood truly began at their original Anglican ordination would be respected by the 'reordination's' social marginality and its lack of public ritual assertion. In 1993 Fr Aidan Nichols advocated proceeding along exactly these lines in his elegant picture of an Anglican place of study which could "provide supplementation for the priestly training of former Church of England clergymen and a discreet setting for the making good of any defects in their Orders".


A final dash of rhetoric. Forget for a moment the RC question; if I became an Orthodox, I would undoubtedly have to be 'reordained' in order to liturgise. Can it really be God's will that Catholic Anglican priests are boxed into a prison camp out which it is impossible for them in good conscience to move into the ministry of any of the Ancient Churches? Is the 'Consensus of the First Millennium', to which so many among us (especially the less 'papalist') have so often appealed, in fact permanently inaccessible to us?

Are some of my brethren sure that this particular 'difficulty' is anything other than a clutching at an arguably respectable pretext for 'not going'?

4 December 2010

Rupert Bear

Every Christmas, my maternal grandparents used to give me the Rupert Bear Annual, and I delved again into the affairs of Rupert Bear, Bill Badger, the mysterious and enchanting Tiger Lily (these were in the days before Chinese Restaurants brought us Sweet and Sour Pork and the other culinary delights of San Francisco), and all their friends. I read with never failing pleasure the narratives encapsulated into those memorable couplets, the iambs marching inexorably onwards to the hilarious bathos of the predictable rhymes.

What I didn't know as a toddler was that the charming and accessible artwork was the product of one Alfred Bestall (1892-1986). If you live in Oxford you must not miss the tiny but exquisite exhibition of his work in Bodley, just inside the Proscholium entrance and on the right. Where you will not just meet up again tantum post lapsum temporis with the inhabitants of Nutwood, but will see other examples of the work of a draughtsman who perfectly embodied the style and spirit of the interwar years. There is one little watercolour which is, as we say, to die for. Titled The Coffee Stall, it shows a gathering of flappers and their male appendages, at dawn after a fancy dress ball, refreshing themselves as the London proletariat look sympathetically on. Don't miss the girl on the left who sways away from her escort to light the cigarette in her holder from that of a bulky member of the Lower Orders. Don't miss any of them.

It's worth a hundred Picassos or Monets.

3 December 2010

Ordinariate consciences

Yet again, the other day, someone asked me how an Anglican priest could possibly allow himself to go through a process of reordination so as to join an Ordinariate.

I continue to have great problems understanding those who ask this question. Let me be autobiographical. In the 1960s, there was a scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity. This would have involved a "Service of Reconciliation". In that service, an Anglican Bishop would have laid hands on all the Methodist ministers and prayed: "Pour out thy Holy Spirit, to endue each, according to his need, with grace for the office of a priest in the Church of God". I eventually voted for this scheme. (I certainly wouldn't have done later. But, back in the 1960s, we all took seriously the idea of Christian Unity; this was well before the Liberals decided that their own new dogmas took precedence over Unity.) I became convinced that the business was just about kosher after bishop Eric Kemp, then Dean of Worcester, explained to us Oxford clergy that this rite was an adequate form of Conditional Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, and would transform the Methodist ministers into priests.

In turn, if this scheme had gone forward, the Anglican clergy would in turn have knelt before a Methodist minister, who would have imposed hands and prayed : "Pour out thy Holy Spirit upon them for the work of a minister in thy Church". This scheme received the approval of a large majority in the Church of England, especially among the bishops.

I have some difficulty understanding why we were (nearly) all so willing then to undergo this 'reordination', which would have made us all into Methodist ministers acceptable to take any manner of service within Methodism, whereas now there seems to be some gigantic, enormous problem, among some people, about undergoing a similar rite to make us acceptable to fulfil every kind of priestly ministration within the Roman Catholic Church.

I s'pose it's a good sign really. We live in so amoral a world that the mere existence of such amazingly superscrupulous and such bewilderingly, unbelievably, hypertender consciences, is to be warmly welcomed. Yet doubts persist in my mind. If it is so terrible, so unthinkable, to be 'reordained' - if the superscrupulous conscience so decisively vetoes it - why do many of these same people have no qualms about all the compromises which are necessary to coexist with women priests? Why, for example, does a conscience which has no trouble about being in communion with a bishop who licences and institutes women to the care of souls, suddenly get so picky when it comes to the formalities which are necessary to ensure that every Roman Catholic in the world can be without qualms about the Anglican priesthood?

Yeah, pull the other one.


You may be wondering what happened to that Unity Scheme. It failed to get over the 75% hurdle required. 75%, you ask? Well, er, yes; it was after this that, with an eye doubtless to the future, the Great and the Good lowered the hurdle in such matters to 67%. What a good thing they did so. Otherwise, there would be no chance of the Ordination of Women getting through now! Foresight!

2 December 2010

Book Sales

Passing through Blackwells, I came upon a remaindered copy of Bishop Eric Kemp's autobiography, Shy but not retiring (his obit, by the way, was on Sunday; cuius animae propitietur Deus). I snaffled it up and brought it home to read. This is a splendid book to give to anyone tempted by the mirage of a long-term future in the Church of England.

It is of course cruel to flay anybody from the comfortable and complaisant high ground of hindsight. And probably dangerous: which of us could pass such an exacting test? But ... yes, you knew there was a But coming, didn't you?

Back in the 1990s, we all thought that the Leaders of thge Catholic Movement would pull some rabbit out of their hats. And of nobody did we have more expectations than of Eric Kemp. He had been around - with a finger in every pie, be it Anglo-Catholicism or Church politics - since the 1930s. But we now know that there was no rabbit and probably not even a hat. In as far as anything did get cooked up, it was done by a suave figure of the Establishment, the Old Etonian John Habgood.

It was fun in the Diocese of Chichester in Kemp's days, the 'Indian summer of the Church of England'. But we were living off the fat. There was no coherent plan ... what am I saying: there was not even an incoherent plan ... for anything that might be described as a future. We were teetering, just about to plunge, on the funfair railway, from the point right at the top, down the big slope to the splash at the bottom. And, as I now learn from Kemp's autobiography, the Butler was not even laying down a vintage or two whose drinking date would be ten, or twenty, years ahead. BTW, I am going for a Guinness Book of Records entry for mixed or inappositely combined metaphors*.

Eric's biography reveals that at no point did he have a higher motive than shepherding his diocese, looking after his clergy (at which he was very good) and keeping, for as long as he could, his own hand on the tiller. There have been vast swathes of Church History in which such ambitions sufficed for a Bishop in the Church of God. But in the decades of Eric Kemp's episcopate, there needed to be a sense of whither to turn that tiller; an attempt to discern the Signs of the Times; a capacity and a willingness, as they say in business, to think outside the box.

And now SWISH offer us another pointless, wasted, generation of the same ball-game. And why? In a determined attempt quite simply to spoil Dr Ratzinger's gambit.

*How many does that make?

1 December 2010

Epicleses and Elevations

Should the Body and Blood of the Lord still be shown for adoration in the traditional places, after the Words of Institution, when a Eucharistic Prayer is being used which defers the Epiclesis until later? For those determined to use such prayers and who would like an answer out of the older Western Catholic tradition: Yes! In 1912, Fortescue wrote:

"The whole consecration-prayer is one thing, of which the effect is the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. During this Prayer we ask continually for that grace; although the Prayer takes time to say and God grants what we ask at one instant, not necessarily the last instant of the Prayer. So in all rites constantly people still ask for what, presumably, they have already received. Our Baptism and Ordination services furnish obvious parallel examples [Hunwicke adds: compare here Catherine Pickstock's words about 'liturgical stammering' and repeated beginnings and their basis in pre-'Enlightenment' orality]. The Epiclesis is surely also to be to be explained in this way ... the Canon is one Prayer. Consecration is the answer to that one Prayer. It takes place no doubt at the Words of Institution, but it is the effect of the whole Prayer. There is no sequence of time with God. He changes the bread and wine intuitu totius orationis'.

And in Cardinal Ximenes' edition of the Mozarabic rite, in which some 20 or so of the 200 Eucharistic Prayers have an Epiclesis after the Institution Narrative, the elevations always happen in the 'Roman' place.

I wrote that in 2004; I haven't reverified the last paragraph.)

30 November 2010


I notice that whenever (ex.gr.) NLM gives a photogaph of a Missal, it always seems to be pre-1962. I have myself never, I believe, actually seen a Missal or Breviary from the 1960s 'reform'. Is there anywhere on-line that I can browse them in their entirety?

28 November 2010

Some good stuff ...

... in the thread appended to my November 26 post.

New Directions: November 2010

A sad number, the November issue (which didn't reach me till nearly the end of the month). Because it looks like the swan song of the brilliant and witty Dr Geoffrey Kirk. He provides three characteristically elegant and forceful articles, all three of which put an exact finger on what has been wrong with Old Mother Damnable for two decades, and still is. But what a marvellous run he has had for his money. When Sara Lowe edited the mag - ah, those were the days; what a girl she is - there was his superb series of satires which so frequently provoked the Great and the Good to complain about our 'tone'. Well, what did the b*****s expect? They had stolen everything else from us; our tone was all we had left. To this day, the memory of Geoffrey's account of the doings of Archdeacon Armitage Shanks sometimes induces in me irregularities in urinary fluency. And a week I spent with Fr Geoffrey in Lewisham was just about the culinary high point of my life. Ad multos annos.

This number of ND also includes a synopsis of an article about Divorce among (American) Evangelicals. It strikes a chord with me; I've had this bee in my biretta for a long time. It puzzles me that some Evangelicals make such a fuss about homosexuality when so many of them have disregarded the plain Dominical Words about remarriage after divorce. My views on all sexual matters are precisely those of the Church and of the Tradition. But I think homosexuals get rough justice when they are paraded as the moral problem of our age. Surely, more marriages are destroyed by disordered heterosexual lust than by homosexual appetites. And, moving on from homosexuality, let's consider the Abuse of Minors. I am second to nobody in my disgust at 'filth' who abuse children sexually. But 28 years working in a boarding school provided me with very few examples of 'filth' at work and such examples as I did see were at what Mr Plod classifies as the lowest end of the spectrum. What I did see repeatedly was the damage done to adolescents by divorce. Time and time again, I would be at a meeting to hear about the disciplinary problems suddenly, unaccountably, being provided by some boy ... and after a few minutes, the House Master would intervene to say "I think you should all know that there is currently a very messy divorce going on ...".

The Divorce Culture is the principal sexual disorder of our age; and it is also the main way in which the young are horribly abused by their elders.

27 November 2010

However did he get away with it?

Bishop Andrew Burnham knew from the beginning what he wanted to do; and he did it. The mystery is that the Great and the Good showed no signs of realisung what was going on.

He saw priests and people in his allotted third of England as being, not a fully-fledged Particular Church, but as an ecclesial gathering on the way to that status. He saw it, in fact, as rather like the recusant community in England before Blessed Pius IX restored the hierarchy - divided into their respective Districts. So he called his bailiwick a District. And, alluding to styles such as 'Vicar Apostolic' or 'Apostolic Administrator' in the RC Church, he called it the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District. There was something not a little proleptic about this; in the RCC 'Apostolic' means something like 'pertaining directly to the Apostolic See of Rome'. So Bishop Andrew, while not in full communion with the See of Peter, proclaimed in effect exactly what his intentions were and whwere it was all, in logic, destined to lead. And lest anyone should be in any doubt, he set up structures in the District which were decidedly reminiscent of RC terminology ... there were, for example, episcopal vicars. Nobody could claim that he was thereby 'pretending' to be a diocesan bishop (" I know I'm not a diocesan bishop; when the vestry roof is leaking, nobody gets in touch with me") as they could have done if, for example, he had named 'archdeacons' and 'canons', because he was using titles which had no meaning in Anglican canonical and statutory usage. The whole thing worked very well and, to boot, it all had meaning.

So few people appeared to noticed this meaning. I can only presume that most were too ignorant of the byways of history and of the nuances of words.

I am sure Rowan will do the honourable thing in making the next appointment. But, almost by definition, the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet can only be someone who has decided that he is not heading Burnhamwise in a direction ultra montes. Rome has made its offer; it is there on the table to be taken or left. As various people have observed, this has called some bluffs. Essentially, one either takes it or one leaves it; there is no third alternative. So the next occupant of the See will by the very logic of the situation be a priest who, with whatever degree of good intention, is content to be meshed into a structure, the Church of England, which has set out on a course of definitive divergence from the Ancient Churches, and turned its back irrevocably on its former ecumenical partners.

That is why, when the offer comes to me from Lambeth Palace, I shall not accept the See. Accepting it would seem to me like a form of constructive apostasy - a turning in a direction diametrically opposed to the one we were moving in before.

25 November 2010

Sanctus angelus tuus

A very interesting piece on Fr Ray Blake's blog about Christ described as the Angel in the Supplices te rogamus.

I share the view of many that the archaic Christology of that phrase in the Canon is one indication of its extreme antiquity. It is interesting that the version in the de Sacramentis indicates that, even by S Ambrose's time, it was already misunderstood. And that some clever-clogs at Milan had 'corrected' it.

People shouldn't 'correct' the Canon Romanus. Not even if they are Doctors of the Church.


Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, deserves the sympathy of all right-thinking people. To lose the services of one suffragan bishop could be just bad fortune. To lose, in the same month, two such prelates , can only be ... I'm not quite sure what. Incidentally, I gather that the Bishop of London is proposing a Society for those parishes in his jurisdiction which disdain the ministry of women priests.

I wonder what the august prelates who mastermind SWISH think of this deft irruption into their own little private game. Won't it put a bit of a spanner in their works as every inventive diocesan with a dash of control-freakery invents societies to which named categories in their dioceses will be deemed to belong? Perhaps the Roman Pontiff will get on board and found a Society to which he will assign the von Trautmenn, the Lofti, the .... I wonder what that society would have to be called?

I am holding back as to whether to offer my moral support to Chartres' plan. If he names his Society after the great Edmund Bonner, the last Bishop of London to suffer as a Confessor for the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Universal Church has received it, I might be tempted to do so.

BTW, I have heard from two different and equally impeachable sources that Fr David Houlding is to be the next Bishop of Fulham. I thought that in his interview with Ruthie he was a bit unfriendly about John Broadhurst, the Bonner of our own days. I hope the kindly old gents of SWISH aren't suddenly going to turn nasty with everyone who doesn't play things exactly so as to suit their own book, especially since it has not yet been revealed what that book may turn out to be.


As we know, the 'wings' on the modern biretta are a formalisation of the way one bunched up the material between ones fingers in donning and doffing the rather floppier medieval clerical hat. That is why one has a 'wing' towards the right and not the left; one drew up the material towards the right, drawing it away from the left, so as to get a good grip.

On the photographs from the recent consistory, one can see that the Bishop of Rome placed the birettas on the heads of his new cardinal presbyters in such a way that the 'wingless' corner was to the back. Is this (which would be totally logical) because, if the biretta were still in the old floppy state, the one bestowing it would bunch the material between his fingers in bestowing the hat ... so that what is normally the grippable 'wing on the right' becomes, temporarily in the act of bestowal, the grippable 'wing at the front'?

Or did Good Marini just hand them to him the wrong way round?

We should be told.

24 November 2010


The statistics on this blog seem currently to be going up.

Is this an Ordinariate Bounce or a Condom Bounce?

23 November 2010


If there is a bounce in the numbers of English seminarians, it would be interesting to know how many of the Bouncers are ex-Anglicans. Mind you, they would still justly be included in the statistics of the Benedict Bounce. We love him.

Condoms and the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews

Fr Zed has made available that section of the popeinterviewbook ... whatever that is in agglutinative German ... which deals with Judaism and the new EF Good Friday Prayer.

By a happy coincidence, if there are such things under Providence as coincidences, I touched upon this precise question of Jewish Salvation a day or two ago in a post about the Mass for the Sunday Next before Advent. The post is titled 'Stir up Sunday'.

I am extremely gratified to find that Professor Ratzinger's views and mine are precisely coincident. As they are about the condoms business.

Some usually commendable blogs have been less than totally supportive of the Holy Father recently. I am not quite sure whether the last bit of Fr Zed's piece about the Good Friday Prayer is or is not supposed to be supportive.

If you want to understand what the Sovereign Pontiff is getting at, try Anglican Patrimonial sources.

Irish financial and political crisis

Terrible news! The floozie in the Jacuzzi has been shifted out of O'Connell Street ... because po-faced administrators disapprove of this centre of popular fun. Old Ireland must be coming finally to its end when city workers are to be deprived of the simple pleasure of ducking each other on Dublin summer days or putting multicoloured dyes into the fountain. Ah well. Bring back Nelson, that's what I say. I'm sure my buddy Alan Ryan Hall of Valencia Island would be only too willing to cast a replacement statue.

We shall know whether Ireland is still Ireland after the elections in January. Will Mr Healey-Rae (father or son) again be returned by the electors of Kerry, and again hold the balance of power in a precarious Dail so that a dedicated minister has to be deputed to liaise with him to retain his support for the governing party and to secure unlimited funds for the Kingdom of the West? If so, it will be clear that all is still for the best in that best of all possible worlds.

Incidentally, I wonder if 'Bill our Bishop' would be interested in the loan of a batch of Ordinariate clergy ...

22 November 2010

.... BUT ....: the Pope and the condoms

I'm not in the habit of attacking the Sovereign Pontiff. Moreover, I don't usually criticise his advisers and assistants, because so often his critics attack them simply as a craven and cowardly way attacking the pope himself but doing it by proxy. For similar reasons, I haven't even ever attacked his Press and PR people.

But ... as a humble and simple pastor, I really would prefer that items which are going to hit the headlines were not sprung on us late on Saturday, so that we're short of time in getting things straight ready for enquirers after Sunday Mass. As with this condoms business.

Having contemplated the BBC translation of the German texts, I see what the Holy Father's words mean. He is saying that if a rent-boy has unprotected sex, he is committing two sins: the mortal sin of homosexual genital intercourse; and the mortal sin of risking communicating a lethal infection. If, however, he uses a condom, while he is still committing the first of those mortal sins, he has to a degree excluded the second. By so doing he has, as we might say, taken a step in the right direction. But he has still committed a mortal sin and is still, objectively speaking, not in a state of grace. There is a sense in which it is not as bad to commit one sin as it is to commit two; but the commission of one mortal sin still means that one is objectively in that state of alienation from God which we Christians call Not Being In a State of Grace.

Our enemies, of course, do not understand (and have no interest in understanding) about Being In a State of Grace. Secularists are, even when they hold Oxford professorships, a generally dim lot ... dim because of a bigoted determination not to understand. They just want to ask blunt and unnuanced questions about "Is it All Right to use condoms?". Within this toddler-level mode of moral discourse, our Holy Father's simple statement of the moderately obvious is bound to seem to them like a "change in his implacable opposition to the use of condoms". So we have to listen to these dreary half-wits condescending to a rather abler mind than theirs by saying that "the pope has at least learned a little from experience". Thank God, he has done nothing of the sort.

Behind all this there is the determination of secularists to spread, by hook or by crook, fornication, adultery, and most other sexual disorders (not at the moment paedophilia, of course, because that is at the moment a handy stick with which to belabour the Church). They bleat incessantly about the plight of AIDS victims in Africa, but only a fool would believe that these well-heeled and malevolent chatterers lose a moment's sleep worrying about such problems. Often sexually incontinent themselves, their relentless desire is to remake humankind in their own corrupt image. The Devil has blinded these intellectual giants to the fact, obvious to any simpleton reading the papers, that the sexual licence which they so successfully promoted in the second half of the twentieth century has led to an explosion of lethal bodily ailments such that even a classical utilitarian in the dear simplistic old John Stuart Mill tradition would be able to discern their immorality in promoting the vices which are so dear to them and so deadly to the multitudes whom they are successful in corrupting.

This business may have several outcomes. The lying classes may be successful in their attempt to create an impression that the Catholic Church is now gradually "seeing sense" on condoms, and thus to reinforce those who have been deceived by the Spirit of the Age into their wrongdoing. On the other hand, it is so obvious that what the pope has said has a nil bearing on questions of morality of contraception and of homosexuality that they may soon return to pointing this out and attacking him on all their old familiar grounds. Given Screwtape's skill in getting the best of two contradictory worlds, they may very well go for both these mutually exclusive conclusions simultaneously.

Perhaps some of the Pope's 'friends' (with 'friends' like his, who needs enemies?) will say that he has expressed himself in a way that lays him open to being misunderstood. But think about it. He has very carefully done exactly the opposite. Had he taken, for his exemplum, a heterosexual couple one of whom was infected with AIDS, he would have indeed left himself wide open to the superficially plausible accusation of a U-turn opening the door to the liceity of contraception within marriage. By using the exemplum of a rent boy, he has made this impossible. Nobody could seriously think that, overnight, a pope had so far moved from the Church's previous moral teaching as now to uphold the liceity of homosexual intercourse and of prostitution ... simultaneously.

Nobody, that is, except journalists verging on imbecillity or mired in habitual mendacity.

21 November 2010


The commonest practical question, by far, which I am being asked is: Is it possible for a former Anglican, baptised as an Anglican, who has entered into full communion with the Holy See, but has not done this through the Ordinariate process, formally to adhere to an Ordinariate once it is erected?

Having carefully perused, several times, both the Latin and English texts of the Apostolic Constitution and its accompanying norms, it seems to me that the answer is clearly Yes. And not least because of the hermeneutical principle in canon law that if a possibility has not been explicitly excluded, the liberty to take advantage of it cannot be denied.

Am I right?

20 November 2010


How good it is to see movement. I wonder what liturgical formulae ... Votive Masses, Novenas, Pilgrimages ... are appropriate at just this moment?

Tacto ligno

I appear now again to be able to send emails.

19 November 2010


I would be grateful if people refrained from sending me emails which call for a reply.


Currently, whenever I try to send an email, I get trold that an error has occurred.

18 November 2010

Local Calendars in an Ordinariate

Bishop Peter Elliot, who is, I suspect ... nobody ever tells me anything ... the man mainly concerned with liturgical questions concerning Ordinariates, may not have given much thought to the question of Local Calendars. This is because he is an Oz and down in Oz the Local Calendars have very few entries.

In England, on the other hand, the Calendars are crowded with Romans and Saxons and medievals and counter-Reformation martyrs; and accordingly they differ quite a lot from diocese to diocese. This week I keep S Edmund Rich (of Abingdon, a few miles to the South) on Tuesday; S Hugh of Lincoln (before the Diocese of Oxford was canonically erected in the reign of Good Queen Mary we were in the great sprawling diocese of Lincoln); and on Saturday, the other S Edmund, the King and Martyr*. But in an Ordinariate ... will people be keeping the Calendar of the Roman Catholic diocese in which they are situate; or will there be a special Ordinariate Calendar? Or both?

In practical terms - and to prevent some poor person from having to do a lot of complicated work at a time which is busy enough anyway - it would probably be neatest (at least temporarily) to put all the observances from all the Local Calendars into a single mainly optional list and leave it to local decision what got observed.


*For the curious: in both the OF and EF masses here I use a calendar extracted from the calendars of the three RC dioceses parts of which are within the Diocese of Oxford; I based it on the canons of Local Relevance which respectively the Sacred Congregation of Rites used to employ for the EF and the Congregation for Divine Worship and etc. etc. operates now for the OF.

Oxford provides an example of why simply imposing the Calendars of a geographical RC diocese would be problematic. The boundary between the RC dioceses of Birmingham and Portsmouth runs through the middle of the Oxford conurbation. South of the Isis one would find oneself using a Calendar which included entries put on it with an eye to the Channnel Isles; North of the river, where the calendar of Birmingham is weighted towards the historical traditions of the far Northern see of Lichfield, one would be cut off from observances relevant to nearby Abingdon ... where my Head Server lives and where Pam and I are just off to do our shopping in the Waitrose.

16 November 2010

Ordinariates: canonical questions

Is there still a canonist somewhere out there? If one joins an Ordinariate, I presume that, like all priests of the Latin Rite, one would not be allowed, without special biritual faculties, to celebrate the Byzantine Rite. But would one be allowed to concelebrate a Melkite or Ukrainian Liturgy?

Somehow that would help me to feel a great deal closer to a very dear friend of many years ago, Christopher Commodatos, the late Bishop of Telmissos, in whose flat at the back of the former Irvingite church in the Camberwell New Road I spent more time than I probably should have done gossiping with him and his Cypriot parishioners and drinking Greek coffee. And to his monk, the little brother Lazarus, who died what I have always believed to be a martyr's death.

And, going back even further in my life, it would somehow seem a fulfilment of a large factor of my undergraduate days in the 1960s: Sunday mornings at 1, Canterbury Road, when Oxford's Orthodox used to gather in a chapel constructed out of the sitting room of the Victorian house and there seemed to be endless ancient Russian ladies in black with gigantic diamonds in their jewelry, prostrate at the Greater Entrance; and the benign figure of Nicolas Zernov presiding over everything.

Not to mention holiday Sundays in Greece; the priest helping hs wife to feed the chickens before putting on his best cassock to serve the Liturgy in a village church.

I see myself as a Latin to my fingertips and I would never wish, not for a moment, to be of the Byzantine rather than of the Roman Rite ... which, in its authentic form, I love to distraction. But there would be pleasures galore in being out of ... a rather narrow ghetto. All part, perhaps you will remind me, of being in a fuller communion with the church where the Voice of Peter is still alive.

Doubts: further thoughts

Ah ... perhaps I am groping my way to a solution ... in an Ordinariate one would also, of course, be in the same Church as Adolf Hitler, Myra Hindley, and Hannibal Bugnini.

Context always helps.

Phew ... I'm glad I've got that sorted out.

Ordinariate doubts

I've had a dreadful thought: if one joins an Ordinariate, will one find oneself in Full Communion with Mgr Loftus? Help! There must be a canonist somewhere out there who can find a way round this problem.

15 November 2010

SWISH again

While arranging a meeting in my parish to discuss the future, I asked a brother priest who said he favoured the SWISH proposals devised by friends of Johnny Hind, Bishop of Chichester, if he would care to provide a paper explaining and defending those proposals. He declined because he could not find anything to say about the scheme except what was on its website. Which said precisely nothing that was in the least illuminating.

We still have no evidence what the proponents of SWISH have in mind. I have a suspicion which rests upon no evidence whatsoever but upon my own intuition. Here goes.

SWISH is manifestly simply an attempt to wreck the Ordinariate scheme. It was devised ... to the extent to which it was devised ... in a tearing hurry before the "Sacred Synods" of clergy in the Northern and Southern provinces. The bishop who defended it in Westminster meeting of Forward in Faith had to confess that he still had no real idea what it was all about.

There is prima facie evidence that it is essentially an attempt to keep several very divergent groups of people together under one umbrella. There are those who warmly desire the Roman Option, but are not quite ready to join the Ordinariate's "First Wave". There are those who are not straining at the leash to leave the C of E but could conceivably take a Roman Option if they had no alternative. And there are those who will never touch Rome with a bargepole either because of their ambitions in the Mainstream or visceral prejudice or because their domestic arrangements make them unacceptable to Rome (of course, in some these last two categories coincide). My theory is that by keeping silent ... and thus remaining united and impressive ... until the First Wave enter the Ordinariate, they hope to queer Dr Ratzinger's pitch without needing to answer difficult questions which would create divisions in their ranks and expose SWISH as a vacuous and cynical attempt at unprincipled realpolitik.

One example. The Master General of SSC, Fr David Holding (by the way, a fellow brother said to me the other day "I can't wait to send my badge back") said at the October F in F meeting that he was provisionally supporting SWISH but that it would be useless if it did not decide to be prepared to break the law. One presumes he had in mind things like "taking for ourselves what they refuse to give us"; the 'illegal' consecration of bishops; and putting priests into churches and clergy houses and defying the Mainstream to send the bailiffs in to evict them. If SWISH declares that it will not take such action, it will promptly lose those who agree with Holding that such a preparedness is essential. If it declares that it is prepared to go down such a path, it will lose those who would never, in a month of Sundays, break a law.

Ergo ...

13 November 2010


Good S Wilfrid is not someone I regard as inherently infallible; for example, I do not share the view (which he shared with S Theodore) that 'Celtic' Orders are, or rather were, invalid. But I was more than happy to have him as a Patron during the 28 years I spent in the county which he converted, not least because of his strong belief in in the exercise of papal primacy, and his enthusiasm for Roman liturgy. I also approve of his skills in teaching people how to fish: I wonder if that rather nice and inexpensive fish-restaurant is still open on Shoreham Beach.

In 2001 I left the Diocese of Chichester just after Johnny Hind became its bishop upon the retirement of Eric Kemp. For the weeks in which we overlapped I did not, I fear, name him in the Te igitur; because of what I had heard about his policies.

Eric not only did not ordain women; he declined to license them and to institute them. Nor would he allow them to be ordained, licensed or instituted by his commission; because, as he said to me, quoting an ancient adage, what a man facit per alium, facit per se (in English: if you tell someone to go and murder Mrs Blogs, then, quite rightly, Mr Plod will come and arrest you too). But Johnny made it clear that he would do all these things; although he would refrain from ordaining them with his own actual hands. I heard the rumour, which swept the diocese, that he had said he was going to license and institute them because otherwise he wouldn't have control over them (if true, what evidence this is of a towering theological intellect!). I can't verify this account; I didn't with my own ears hear him say it with his own lips. But it was widely reported and believed. In any case, I had my own suspicions, which rest upon no direct and watertight factual evidence but upon my own intuition, that the real reason for his conduct was a deal which he did to get the See.

Chichester was at that time packed with clergy who had moved there in the 'safe' years provided by Eric. Even the proponents of womenpriests agreed that it would be explosive to impose upon such a diocese a bishop who ordained women. But those charged with the appointment are said to have had an explicit policy of "bringing Chichester back into the Church of England". Spies were going round enquiring about the prevalence of "illegal liturgical practices" in the diocese. My hypothesis is that the deal was struck that Johnny would keep himself ... just ... tolerable to the more gullible 'Traditionalists' by not tainting his own fastidious hands with the actual touch of female hair, but would provide for their ordination by his own commission and would likewise institute and license them. And that he would persecute parishes which used the Roman Rite. (Indeed, rumour had it that, directly upon his appointment, he announced that "if you haven't passed Resolutions A and B you haven't got a leg to stand on"; and that he began his episcopate with the persecution of a delightful little Roman Rite parish in Brighton, the Annunciation, Washington Street).

It is a source of mystery to me that a man who transformed the diocese of Chichester by the provision of so many women 'priests' "to the cure of souls which was his and theirs" (and, incidentally, by persecuting the Catholic liturgical rites which were so dear to S Wilfrid), and has hitherto disdained joining the organisations which were actually upholding the Faith, should have been accepted by so many people at his own estimation of himself as the "leading Catholic Bishop". But I am not in the least surprised by the fact that so many episcopuli, bishoplets, whose CVs have crossed his, should be so prominent in the recent crude attempt (SWISH) to sabotage the Holy Father's Ordinariate scheme.


10 November 2010


I am asked to publicise the fact that the Bishop John is celebrating his last Mass qua Bishop of Fulham on Saturday 20 November at noon (Gordon Square) and that the Sevenoaks Ordinariate event (full briefings by top speakers) has been shifted to 3.30 on the same day.

Rumour has it that the last Mass by an orthodox Bishop of Ebbsfleet will be on the 27th, noon, at New Hinksey.


From Edward Siecienski's new book on the Filioque.

"Among the seventh century councils that taught the double procession, the Council of Hatfield (680) is perhaps the most interesting, especially as its president was a Greek, Theodore of Tarsus (602-90).

"According to Bede, when Pope Vitalian (657-72) appointed Theodore to Canterbury, he sent the monk Hadrian with him 'to prevent Theodore from introducing into the Church over which he presided any Greek customs'. Despite these misgivings, Theodore was a sound choice who antimonothelite credentials were impeccable (he had probably been at the Lateran Synod with Maximus the Confessor in 649). AlthoughBede claimed that Theodore convoked the Council of Hatfield 'to preserve the churches from the heresy of Eutyches', there is some evidence that he also used the gathering to respond to Bishop Wilfrid of York, who had been in Rome complainingabout Theodore's governance of the English Church. The Council's statement of faith, which apparently assured Pope Agatho of Theodore's orthodoxy, affirmed the faith of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople II, and the Lateran Suynod of 649, and included belief in 'the Holy Spirit, ineffably proceeding from the Father and the Son, as proclaimed by all whom we have mentioned above, holy apostles, and prophets, and doctors.

"The two questions raised by this confession of faith were how Theodore would have interpreted this teaching, and how long the filioque had been part of the creed in England. While it is possible that Augustine of Canterbury (d609) might have taught the filioque during his mission to England (given his connection with Pope Gregory I), there is also a chance that it was introduced by Theodore's companion Hadrian, an African by birth whose study of Augustine and Fulgentius would likely have included their teaching on the procession. As for Theodore himself, it is possible that he understood the filioque in accordance with the principles Maximus had enunciated years earlier in the Letter to Marinus, especially if (as is likely) the two knew each other in Rome. What is clear is that Pope Agatho, although busy preparing his own statement of faith for the Constantinopolitans (without the filioque), happily received the proceedings of Hatfield, including its confession in the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son."

I wonder how those 'English Orthodox' and 'British Orthodox' who tell us that the Anglo-Saxon Church was "Orthodox", deal with the little matter of Hatfield.

7 November 2010

The Preparation Before Mass ... again ...

Every morning we say to our Lady: " ... et mihi, misero peccatori, et sacerdotibus omnibus, hic et in tota sancta Ecclesia hodie offerentibus, clementer assistere digneris ...".

I presume the hic takes us back to the happy days of busy altars; when priests queued up to say their Masses; when all around a church was the Missarum sacra murmuratio and the occasional sound of bells. Happily, the current Code of Canon Law made the saying of Mass without the presence of a lay person to answer rather easier; hitherto you needed a gravis causa; now a iusta causa will do, and Bishop Peter Elliott (who did his seminary training at the same place, S Stephen's House, as I did) explains in his Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, that a priest's desire to maintain the discipline of the daily Mass is a thoroughly iusta causa. Our Holy Father has continually emphasised the importance, in the Latin Church, of this discipline. Yet so few clergy seem to celebrate except when there is a pastoral need for them to do so. How depressing.

O'Connell gives in detail the decrees of the SRC about how you celebrate without a person to serve or answer, in the EF; it's all very common sense. And the Novus Ordo rubrics also provide for this possibility. Is the spirituality and discipline of the daily Mass in the life of a priest properly inculcated in modern seminaries?

5 November 2010


Since Fr Zed has a rather meandering post about these words, I here repeat my own piece from last January. The phrase is not diaconal and the fashion in some places of getting the Deacion to sing it is misguided as well as contrary to the rubrics.
'The Mystery of Faith'. Why does the PP of S Thomas's not say 'Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith' when that is what ASB ordered ... and it's what the present RC version of the Mass in English has? Why won't he even say what Common Worship prescribes: 'Great is the Mystery of Faith'?

The history of the phrase begins with I Timothy 3:9 - 'deacons ... holding ... the mystery of faith'. Since, already in the Third Century, it was the convention that the Deacon at Mass held the Chalice, it looks as though 'Mystery of Faith' was considered to mean the Chalice of the Lord's Blood, and was consequently incorporated into the Roman Institution Narrative: 'For this is the Chalice of My Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant, the Mystery of Faith'. After Vatican II, 'Mystery of Faith' was removed from the Lord's words, because it is not in the biblical record, but was left for the priest to say immediately after them. ICEL (the RC translation organisation) invented the words 'Let us proclaim', which are not in the official Latin. Then they offered four alternative 'acclamations'; three of them translated from the Latin and one ('Christ has died' etc.) invented by themselves.

Unfortunately, this gives the impression that 'let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith' is there simply to invite the congregation to respond with an 'acclamation'. Rome has now very wisely decided to emphasise 'the Latin tradition which closely links Mystery of Faith' with the Words of Institution; i. e. 'Mystery of Faith' points to the consecrated Chalice, the Saving Blood now present en mysterio (in a sacrament) upon the Altar, not to a congregational acclamation.

While Common Worship was in the making, ICEL made two brilliantly clever decisions: (1) to change the phrase to 'Great is the Mystery of Faith'; and (2) to produce alternative introductory phrases before each of the four acclamations, so that whichever one Father said would give the congregation the clue to which acclamation he wanted them to answer him with. The C of E Liturgical Commission saw these draft proposals and incorporated them into CW.

Rashly, because Rome decided soon after to sack the whole gang of heterodox and feminist jokers that comprised Old ICEL, and to set up a New ICEL. This New ICEL, in the drafts which are now in the final phases of approval, has dumped both those decisions. So Common Worship enthusiasts look like being left saddled with a mistake Rome toyed with but then wisely abandoned.

To summarise: 'The Mystery of Faith' is what the Church's praying life made of S Paul's words to S Timothy; the Blood which is for ever poured out before the Father is the Blood we worship by faith in the mystery of the Sacrament.

4 November 2010

Bishop Williamson ...

... of the SSPX reveals a new step in his divergence from his Confratres in the SSPX.

The blessed springtime of orthodoxy is not now, it seems, to be found in the witness of the admirable Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. It is to be found in the guidance Bishop Williamson can give us about what Lefebvre would have done if he had known better ... if, for example, he had known as much better as Bishop Wiliamson does now. He would have refused to sign all the documents of Vatican II; not just the two he did decline to sign (yes, I know there are some historical uncertainties here).

It reminds me of an Anglican phenomenon. Anglican Evangelicals used to regard the Church of England as a Confessional Church, whose documents were the Prayer Book and the Articles. They prided themselves upon being the true and pure exponents of this Anglicanism.

But there is a new form of Evangelicalism which finds those formularies themseves rather iffy. The call now is for the Reformation to be "completed". Bishop Williamson has a lot in common with the Australian Anglican diocese of Sidney.

It's not so much funny as sad. It is always upsetting when Christians of whatever tradition consider it better to discover or invent new grounds of inexorable principle for being even more divided from their fellows.

What colour?

Can anybody supply authority as to whether the Feast of the Holy Relics, tomorrow, is in white or red? I have found authorities for each ... as well as inherent reasons for each.

3 November 2010

Ss Crispin and Crispinian

On October 25, I took a brief holiday from the S Lawrence Press Ordo (rite of 1939) and into the Bugninified calendar of 1961/2. Deeming Ss Chrysanthus and Daria to have been reduced to a Commemoration; and the day being therefore free to say a Mass of Saints marked in the Martyrology for the day concerned: in this case, Ss Crispin and Crispinian: I did just that (the English Missal provided information about which of the Commons to use).

If the various forms of the Old Rite are eventually reduced to what Cornish philologists would call a Unified Form, I would put in a plea for the following.

The Bugnini reduction of Simples to Commemorations should not be followed. But it should be permitted, on Semidoubles and Simples, to say the old Sunday Mass, or the Mass of a Saint in the Martyrology, or a Votive, or a Requiem (some of these options are, of course, available under the 1939 rubrics, but not, I think, all).

Having read the excellent point made by Rubricarius, I add: the same liberties should be extended to most Doubles, and those doubles which it is considered should be undisplaceable, should be recategorised as Greater Doubles.

2 November 2010

Last Sunday evening ...

... I went, as I commonly do, to the Oratory for Vespers. Naturally, I wondered whether it would be SEcond Vespers of Christ the King; First Vespers of All Saints; or Second Vespers of All Saints.

Amusingly, it oscillated between First and Second Vespers of All Saints, just as the elegant whimsy of the Cantors took them. Clergy in choir were rolling in the aisles. (Don't bother to ...)

What should it have been? According to the admirable S Lawrence Press Ordo (rite of 1939), Vespers of All Saints with with commemorations of Christ the King and of the Sunday. According to my SSPX Ordo (2004; but the Littera Dominicalis is the same in 2010), it should have been Second Vespers of Christus Rex with a commemoration of All Saints. (I presume La Toussaint is some sort of frenchy term for All Hallows; why on earth can't SSPX do its Ordo in Latin like properly educated people?)

I should have added that the 1939 Ordo provides an Octave for All Saints. Somewhere here lies a key to the difference between the two versions of the Roman Calendar. 1939 is informed by an instinct that an older feast - and Toussaint is immeasurably older than Christus Rex - is more culturally embedded; has been around, has innumerable churches dedicated to its titularis; is part of an immemorial landscape. The Bugninified usage to which SSPX relates is based on simplistic logic: that a Feast of Christ takes precedence over a Feast of Saints.

I think the usage provided in the admirable and learned S Lawrence Press Ordo is profoundly right. We worship in a Tradition in which evolution and a respect for Old Custom is immeasurably more important than mathematical logic. That is why the dignity of All Hallows is immeasurably greater than that of Christus Rex.

The Oratorians, of course, had transferred All Hallows to the Sunday in accordance with modern English RC custom.

1 November 2010


The news that 37 Christians have killed in church in Baghdad is way down the news items here in Blighty. Had they been Jews in a synagogue in, ex. gr., New York, the level of outrage and publicity would, I suspect, have been closer to what such an atrocity merits.

Not surprising that Al Qaeda should take them hostage. Not surprising that the Shiite gangsters whom Uncle Sam left in control as "Security forces" in Iraq should be indifferent to whether they lived or died.

I wonder what chance Tariq Aziz stands in the "Appeals Process" in the "Courts" which the Yankee puppets operate in Iraq.

What a tragedy that we too got involved in that disastrous and immoral adventure. Nobody can say that John Paul II failed to warn precisely what would happen.

Ordinariate News

A fine article by Bishop Peter Elliott, ex-S Stephen's House, Delegate in Australia for the Ordinariate.

It was published ten days ago in a TAC periodical down in Oz, The Messenger Journal.

"To establish the Ordinariates, two stages are envisaged next year: 1. the reconciliation and reordination of clergy who have applied for Orders in the Ordinariate and been accepted, then 2. at a later date, the first reconciliations of the lay faithful. The clergy will therefore be in place to welcome and minister to former Anglicans ... "

Let's hope he's got it right. The process he describes is so totally logical and pastoral. It would be a shame if something confused, illogical, and unpastoral were substituted for it. But of course, whatever Cardinal Levada says ...

This Elliott chappie seems a Good Egg.

30 October 2010


"Anglicans and Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity, Mission" is a splendid book - it even contains a piece by me - put together by Fr Mark Woodruff and published as No 292 of the Messenger of the Catholic League (an organisation founded by the legendary Fr Fynes Clinton and always unambiguously papalist; I remember, in my teens during the mid-1950s, a feeling of satisfaction as I signed up to the decrees of Trent and of Vatican I on joining it). A fat book; papers by Bishop Peter Elliott, Cardinal Levada, Fr Aidan NIchols, Mgr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Benedict XVI, and some thirty others. You can find the Catholic League at www.unitas.org.uk This is a must-read for anybody seriously interested in the concept of repatriating the Anglican Patrimony to the Roman Unity.

"Common Worship Times and Seasons: President's Edition for Holy Communion Order 1".
No, don't buy this one. Incredible, isn't it, that a liturgical tradition which began with Dr Cranmer cramming everything into one volume that was at once Missale and Portiforium and Manuale and Pontificale and Processionale, now expects you to buy two large volumes if you wish simply to have 'presidential' texts for just the Eucharist in just one of its sets of options. How these liturgical committeemen love dreaming up tarty bits of high churchery.

Divertingly, the flyer shows a page-spread with "The Dismissal Gospel". Yes! "This may be done either before or after the Blessing". John 1:1-14! I've stopped taking a serious interest in what fancy services the General Synod authorises; perhaps readers still embedded in the C of E can tell me whether "New Presidential Material" such as Last Gospels has any Synodical authority, or whether it is another example of the dodge of publishing things "commended by the House of Bishops" but which are in fact, on a tight reading of Canon Law, illegal.

28 October 2010


I think the Pastor in the Adur Valley writes one of the most sensitive and elegant blogs there are around, but I don't always agree with him. I'm not sure that I went along with a recent piece which seemed to suggest that the status of Voting Cardinal should be restricted to those with a pastoral care of souls.

My reason is this. Cardinals elect a Roman Pontiff by virtue of their technical status as parish priests of the City. If anything, I would prefer an argument that voting status be restricted to those who, as members of the Curia, are really and truly members of clerus Romanus.

I think a good case can be made from early writings (particularly ante-Nicene) for the essence of the Petrine Primacy as inherent in the Church of Rome and then in its Pontiff by virtue of his occupying the episcopal cathedra of that Church (which is why, according to Vatican I, his infallibility is restricted to ex cathedra pronouncements). It is widely claimed that the Roman Church did not have 'monoepiscopacy' until quite late; S Clement has been categorised as merely the presbyter whose particular duty it was to write letters. I believe that the evidence for this theory is pretty thin; but, were it to turn out to be true, I do not think that it would, even to a tiny degree, dent the truth and force of Pastor Aeternus.

Giving logical priority to the Roman Church is completely compatible with the decrees of Vatican I. And it is very far from being a 'liberal' attempt to water down papal authority. The problem with a very narrow emphasis upon papal pronouncements which are ex cathedra is that this enables liberals to treat with scant respect the decisions of the pope which are not ex cathedra, and to be positively contemptuous of the decisions of the Holy Father's curial collaborators, Cardinal Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons of the Holy Roman Church. The very words "The Curia" are sometimes turned into a cue for a massive sneer, as if these people are a repressive bureaucracy whose only purpose is to irritate the Universal Church with petty and illiberal restrictions. This liberal habit of thinking, helpful as it is to those who wish to take as little notice as possible of the Holy See, has the unfortunate logical result that the Roman Pontiff himself comes to look rather like a mysteriously empowered individual, capable of uttering magic oracles on the rarest occasions, who is nevertheless devoid of context within an actual ecclesia ... a papa vagans rather like those episcopi vagantes with 'valid orders' but no ecclesia of presbyterate, deacons, and laos surrounding them.

Of course we have to distinguish between different levels of the exercise of Magisterium. But the Curia is theologically part of the Petrine ministry of the Roman Church, not some unnecessary appendage with which History has deplorably encrusted it.


I do, however, share Pastor's view that curial cardinals do not need to be consecrated bishops, if they are not so already (unless of course they are being appointed to one of the suburbicarian bishoprics). It was, I believe, John XXIII who made this a rule, and it seems to me theologically inapposite; like a number of his decisions, well-meaning but misguided. The apparently underlying assumption (that any important person must be a bishop and that nobody listens to unimportant people who are not bishops) is not unknown elsewhere; a former Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated his 'Chief of Staff'' 'Bishop at Lambeth'. I think I am right in saying that Rowan has wisely discontinued this unfortunate practice.

My recollection is that Saxon Archbishops of Canterbury did have episcopal assistance; there was a gentleman called the Bishop at S Martin's. But he, although lacking diocesan authority, did have an episcopium with its corona of circumambient clerics and people; as, I suspect, the Roman suburbicarian bishops once did.

BTW, it was Eamon Duffy who, helping with the TV commentary on the Papal Inauguration, commented that Papa Ratzinger knew where the bodies were buried.

27 October 2010


In January, I posted the following, after the Superior of the SSPX had spoken, in my view most disrespectfully, about the present pope's intention to have a new 'Assisi Event' for peace:

I'm not sure that I agree - despite having some sympathy with him - with Bishop Fellay's views on the New Assisi which is planned.
Considering Papa Ratzinger's subtlety and his views on the necessarily coherent, non-self-contradictory, nature of the Tradition and of the Magisterium, I can't help feeling that his intention to have the meeting in that particular place may have, as one its purposes, a resolution of the worrying ambiguities in the original event.
Can't we wait and see what actually happens? If all is done with propriety, then presumably the Holy Father is saying 'This is what the true contextualised meaning of these occasions is; so let nobody in the future claim that the rough edges in the original format afford precedents for syncretism.'
It may be that Bishop Fellay has to keep his own constituency on board. I would respect that. But ...

In April I reposted the piece, with the following addition:

Having looked at the latest VIS communique, I see references only to addresses and to 'silent prayer'. I feel strongly inclined, as I did in January, to trust the Holy Father's disposition of this event. I suspect that he may intend to bring 'Assisi' under the umbrella of the Hermeneutic of Continuity.

Early in September, I again posted the same piece. I now give it a fourth airing, without feeling any need to comment!

25 October 2010

Archbishop Longley

As we processed from Carfax to the Castle on Saturday (no Fr James Bradley to provide a photographic record ... eheu eheu ... ) singing the Litanies, I found myself wondering who the proficient and melodious Cantor was. Goodness gracious: it was the Archbishop of Birmingham himself. And he is not even - so he told me a few years ago in the National Liberal Club during his as-yet impalliate days - an ex-Anglican. When we got there, he blessed the new plaque (honouring Bl George Napier) with equal grace.

An irritating thing at Oxford is that the phrase "The Oxford Martyrs" always seems to refer to certain Protestants. There are honourable exceptions; the University Church has a tablet recording all those executed in the Reformation era. But ... take the ridiculous and unscholarly mishmash of whiggery that you will find in the revamped Ashmolean ... "Oxford Martyrs" is generally used strictly in accordance with the canons of historiography established by Fox.

The very competent booklet provided for Saturday's occasion by the Latin Mass Society has a picture of Bl George saying mass on the morning of his martyrdom (I think the accepted practice was to bribe the warders). It comes from Dr Challoner's work on the English Martyrs. But it shows a cleric disposed as no cleric could be in the celebration of Mass ... and not wearing a maniple (on either arm: I say that to preempt cleverclogs among you who are already wondering if the engraving has got accidentally reversed).

There is, apparently, nothing new about journalists getting liturgical details wrong.

24 October 2010


Old Rite High Mass (but Westward-facing) at Blackfriars this morning, in honour of the Oxford Martyrs; and, in particular, of Bl George Napier, martyred 400 years ago next month.

The three sacred ministers were apparently all Preachers, but the Mass was not in the old Dominican rite, which I recall going to as an undergraduate in the early 1960s. What a pity; through its relationship with the rite of Paris, it had similarities with the Sarum rite. Seeing it, one realised what a revolution it must have been when the Seminary priests first brought the Mass of S Pius V across. Don't bother to remind me that, textually, the Sarum rite was merely a dialect of the Roman rite; the point is that it must, at first, have looked very strange ... all those genuflexions, for example. A real dash of discontinuity.

Another discontinuity is the style of some of these post-Summorum pontificum masses. Those with memories of the pre-Conciliar culture will recall the brisk naturalness with which liturgy was done in the fifties and sixties. Nowadays, the revived pre-Conciliar rite is often done in a very different manner. The Consecrations are sometimes terribly long; and not only the Consecrations. I do hope that, in getting rid of the ethos of "Look what a jolly compere I am as I leer at you across the Altar", we shan't be lumbered too permanently with an ethos of "Look how immensely slow and recollected I am as I take three minutes to get through the Qui pridie".

I certainly recall, from the 'fifties, clergy who said Mass with an almost sacrilegious rapidity; as if they felt that this would increase their popularity among the Sons of Erin gathered around their Patron Saint at the back of the church, all itching to hurry to the bookie's runner as soon as the last Gospel started. But that was an abusus qui non debet tollere usum; one of the characteristics of the Roman rite in all ages has been its unshowy matter-of-factness, and it would be a shame to lose this.

Do they use E Bishop in seminary teaching of Liturgy nowadays? Dix, no mean mystagogue himself, thought of Bishop as the Prince of all liturgists.

23 October 2010

The Voice of Evangelicalism

I find in the journal of the Prayer Book Society an article on the liturgical year by a well known (and much loved) Conservative Evangelical, Roger Beckwith. A critic might pick holes in the details; Roger is apparently unaware of the currently favoured theories about why March 25 is Lady Day; and he seems to think that some commemorations have acquired their dates as a result of careful calculation rather than by (what we would call) Chance (if John Paul II had not instructed us that there is no such thing as Chance). But going through a lot of stuff like that would be unfriendly pedantry. I think many of my readers will be interested that an evangelical cares about the liturgical year; and rather intrigued by some of his points. Ex. gr.:

The Common Worship calendar introduces many changes derived from the modern form of the Roman calendar. Thus it changes the titles of Sundays, so that the First Sunday after Easter becomes, confusingly, the Second Sunday of Easter, and the Sunday next before Advent (Stir up Sunday) becomes Christ the King, a recent Roman duplication of Advent [JWH interrupts: surely, of the Ascension?]. It moves the dates of festivals, so that St Thomas's Day is no longer on 21st December, nor St Matthias' Day on 24th February ... If one compares the Prayer Book calendar with its new rival, one cannot fail to see that the Prayer Book calendar is a reform and simplification of the old Roman calendar, which reflects a true understanding of the structure of the Christian calendar and brings it out with considerable clarity. It draws on the resources of the Bible to strengthen true teaching and to correct error, which are things a good calendar can do. By contrast, the new calendar shows a lack of understanding of the structure of the historic [JWH adds: Western] Christian calendar and a lack of appreciation of the Prayer Book form of it. It knows only the modern form of the Roman calendar, and makes rather pointless concessions to it. A church with two conflicting calendars is on the way to becoming two churches, and one of the aims which the Prayer Book Society could direct its present day efforts towards is to persuade the C of E to treat the Prayer Book calendar as normative for its life once more, and not the misguided modern substitute.

Well, Fr Roger, here at S Thomas's we are now in the Sundays after Trinity ...

22 October 2010

Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis

Standing innocently at a 'bus stop by the Railway Station in West Oxford the other day, I was approached by someone whom I suspected, from the way he bore himself, to be a North American. In the confident and laudably audible tones with which some visiting members of the Imperial Race tend to address us, the gentleman enquired where "M'gdall'n" street was. I probably looked nonplussed for a moment or two, because he repeated, and with even more admirable clarity, "M'gdall'n". Then the penny dropped: I expect most readers know that in Oxford and, I wouldn't be in the least surprised, Cambridge, "Magdalen" (as in S Mary Magdalen) is pronounced "Maudlin". (Even among those English not given to such arcane eccentricities, I suspect Magdalen is commonly pronounced Magd'l'n.) "Ah", I said, deferential as ever towards the Fellow Americans of the Obama, "I think you may mean Maudlin Street. Now; if you go straight down there ...".

He was having none of such nonsense. With the patient tolerance of one accustomed to handling untermenschen, he interrupted me. "No; it's definitely M'gdall'n Street. Look, guy [I loath being addressed as Guy], if you don't know, I can ask someone else". And with the consummate courtesy of a Rumsfeldt, he turned round and shimmied off.

In retrospect, I wished I'd had the ready wit simply to direct him to hurry down the Botley Road and keep going.

I'll be ready for it next time.