31 August 2010

Some priestling called Loftus ...

... writes in a paper called the Catholic Times, passed on to me occasionally by a friend.

The man is a complete charlatan in the way he uses misinformation to deceive. I have just read a piece about how Rome subverts the desire of Vatican II for a vernacular liturgy. In this he fails to mention what V2 actually says ... and supports this assertion by a rhetorical trope of Paul VI, the word Dammit, and a claim that V2 is all about ecclesia semper reformanda.

Goodness gracious me.

30 August 2010

Vatican II Reforms: So what?

These pieces have demonstrated that there is a an auctoritas* problem about LH. As Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, the idea that a Pope can muck around as he likes with the Liturgy if he has the mandate of an Ecumenical Council, is mighty dodgy. Even more flawed is a reform which was not mandated by a Council, and which in many respects went contrary to the explicit words of a Council: I mean the instruction that "There must be no innovations unless the good of the church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing". No innovations, indeed! Certainly, indeed!

It seems to me that, ideally,what we need is a revision of the Breviary which evolves organically from what was in place before the Council in the ways mandated by the Council. Ideally, it would go behind the revision of the Psalterium by Pius X and of the Hymnarium by Urban VIII, and would reconsider elements of the rubrical changes under Pius XII in 1955 which built on those of Pius X. However, to hope for this would, at the moment, be optimistic and beyond the realms of any likelihood. What would be comparatively easy for Authority to provide would be a decree which enabled one to use preconciliar books to say the Office in broadly the way mandated by the Council. In my view, this should leave Lauds and Vespers basically unchanged; diminish the obligation to recite the lesser hours in accordance with SC; and reduce the length of Mattins while permitting it to be used, as the Council suggested, at any hour by those not bound to say it in choir. Perhaps it would also permit ad lib the use of the Lentini Hymnarium. I recall once reading a comment on this blog the effect that there is a 1960s Decree broadly along these lines. Can anyone pin it down for me?

Are there practical ways ahead which the individual can take while remaining within the bounds of what is lawful? I would also remind readers that there is nothing illegal in saying some hours from the LH and others from the Breviary. This is in effect what happens in the English Oratories, and there is already an established praxis in those places, or in some of them (details?), of adapting the old form of Vespers to the modern calendar. (I am not sure whether one would describe that as contra legem or praeter legem.)

I admit that there are problems (mostly arising from diversity of Calendar) about - for example - saying Lauds and Vespers from the Breviary, and the rest of the Office from LH. But might it not be the best interim measure, or at least a viable option, for a generation or two?


*I hope to return to what I mean by auctoritas.

29 August 2010

Vatican II Reforms: Psalter

As far as the text of the psalms is concerned, we need to recall that the Council met in the aftermath of the disastrous Translation of the Psalter commissioned by Pius XII and authorised by him for use in the divine Office (yet another example of the fact that major errors in the methodology of liturgical reform had already gripped the Latin Church before the Council; the Council was merely one episode in a flawed process which was already under way, and even under some of the same personel). The departure of the Pian psalter from the characteristics of Christian Latin - and this at a time when Christine Mohrmann's researches were still fresh in the minds of learned readers - meant that there was a very widespread unease about it. Tactfully, SC decreed that the "work of revising the psalter, already happily begun, is to be finished as soon as possible, and is to take account of the style of Christian Latin, the liturgical use of psalms, also when sung, and the entire tradition of the Latin Church". Thus the psalter included in the LH can decently claim to have been mandated by the Council, even if one's personal preference would have been to keep the words which had sanctified the lives of latinophone worshippers for a millennium and a half.

As far as the distribution of the psalter is concerned, the Council mandated that the psalms were to be distributed over a longer period than one week. LH, of course, distributed them over four weeks. One may have one's own views about the wisdom of what was done, and the opportunities that were missed of returning to something more traditional. In only one matter, however, is it clear that LH innovated without a conciliar mandate. Into the Psalterium, which by long tradition had included Old Testament canticles in Lauds, were now introduced New Testament canticles at Vespers every day. They were taken from S Paul's purple passages and from the songs of the angels in the Apocalypse (the production of the latter category of canticle required some use of scissors and paste). To introduce without a conciliar mandate a feature which increased the amount of psalmody to be arranged at a time when the reformers were under orders to reduce the burden on the clergy, seems perverse. Objectively, it is another example of the dynamics of a process in which those driving the engine slipped, perhaps even without noticing it themselves, from implementing a mandate, to giving themselves free rein to innovate 'creatively'.

28 August 2010


I strolled into Blackwells the other day to get the diary for the next academic year; and thought I'd just check what was on show to earn money for publishers on the back of the late Mr Newman. Well, there are several glossies, of which the only one that appealed to me was one published by Gracewing and done by the sisters of the Way, who are the guardians of Littlemore. I commend it. I suggest that you think twice before buying any of the others. If you need confirmation of my commendation, I need only say that this little book has a preface by Dr Ker, the expert on Newman.

There appeared to be no copies of Dr Ker's own definitive biography of Newman. This is perfectly ridiculous. I made enquiries of an attendant,who assured me that copies were on the way. This shortage may be the result of masses of sensible people having bought up the last print. More probably, it results from incompetence somewhere in the book trade. Conceivably, there is a plot to move a lot of the glossies by sparing them competition. This is tragic. People are surely more likely to be buying Newman books in the weeks building up to the beatification than just after it, and Ker's book, as Chadwick observed, could well be the Newman book for several generations.

And Ker's book is perfectly brilliant; it received a rave review from Henry 'Patrimony' Chadwick. It has the gift of telling the story of Newman and of his thought largely in Newman's own words. By the way: it used to be available in paperback. I trust that there will not be some seedy plot to unload lots of much more expensive hardback copies on the reading public.

In the next month, as our satanic media gleefully spread misrepresentations galore about Newman, it will be most unfortunate if intelligent enquirers do not have access to the definitive Newman biography.

27 August 2010


SC, in Article 93, mandated that "the hymns, as far as seems expedient, are to be restored to their original (pristinam) form, those things being removed or changed which have a flavour of mythology or offend Christian piety. Also, as may be opportune, other hymns should be received which are found in the treasury of hymns".

The first part of this reform was long overdue. Urban VIII had ordered the correction or even total rewriting of the Breviary hymns so as to make them fit the canons of Augustan, classical, Latin poetry. The restoration of the original texts was one of the unambiguously good results of a conciliar mandate. It has the result that, as far as English translations are concerned, those done by Tractarian Anglican Catholics, who were rendering the texts found in the Sarum and other medieval breviaries, are much closer to the texts now restored in the LH than are the translations done by nineteenth century Roman Catholics such as Fr Caswall - who felt obliged to translate the Barberini texts.

In 1968, Dom Anselmo Lentini published an interim set of "Hymni instaurandi Breviarii Romani". One can quibble about details; I think he rather overdid the Reception of Other Hymns, providing whole sets of alternative cycles (recovered, indeed, from traditional sources) to sit beside the old hymns. But I think a fair general verdict would be that he did as he had been told. For a couple of decades, as I said the Prayer Book Divine Office, I used the hymns in this interim collection, and was generally satisfied with it. In particular, it is attractive not to have to read at Mattins a hymn which is a duplication of one appointed elsewhere in the same festal office.

However, the increasing radicalisation of the 'reform' process had shown itself by the time LH was published in 1971. Most notably, a new composition had been provided for the Lauds of each apostle. I wonder if I am the only one to find that the hymns in the Commons, particularly for Pastors, are not of sufficient merit to stand their constant repetition.

But, generally, Lentini* provided the most scholarly and traditional element in the new Office Books, and one that should influence any new edition of the old Breviary.


*Rubricarius, in his comment below, is quite right. He usually is. Sometimes to aid singability, texts were changed by the Lentini coetus. The worst example is Ad coenam agni providi, which in the original is extraordinarily jerky. Lentini smoothed it out line by line. A shame; I think the original rhythmic effects are intentional and poetic. A lesser example is in Venatius Fortunatus. "ferre pretium saeculi" is a syllable too many; it is revised to "ferre saecli pretium". But we should remember that Latin was still a vernacular for VF and he undoubtedly pronounced "pretium" as "pretsum". [Elsewhere, "oculi" is deemed to have an excessive syllable; but it was probably pronounced "ocyi"; compare modern Italian.]

My point was to "pass" a general verdict, and I think it would be unfair to pass a negative one. But of course, we none of us would have done this revision in exactly the same way.


The answer to Albertus' query is that Dom Lentini's chums, like Albertus, felt that ne polluantur corpora "excultis nostris moribus non opportuna est, unde expunctam velimus". In its place they brought in two stanzas from a sixth century hymn in the Regula Caesarii Christe, precamur, adnue. Lentini kept the opening stanza from Te lucis because, being an Eyetie, he deemed it "ab ipso Alagherio quodammodo consecratam". Personally, I'm not too certain about our age being ethically so much more sophisticated than earlier Christian centuries. My instinct would have been to offer both hymns in their uncorrupted integrity as options. But you don't need to explain to me the problems about "option" liturgy.

24 August 2010

Mixed News ends

I always felt that there was something very bizarre about what is sometimes known as Kentish Town Liturgy, spread throughout England - and further - by the charismatic figure of Fr Graeme Rowlands of S Silas's: Baroquery, lace, birettas, as far as the eye can see; combined with those dreadful old, horribly unbaroque, ICEL texts. I suspect most 'Kentish Town' -style Churches will remain in the Church of England for a variety of reasons which I will probably delete from the thread if readers start amusing themselves too much with the topic. It will be interesting to see whether they stick with Old ICEL or go for 2010. The problem in many Anglican churches will be that Common Worship and Old ICEL could be fitted very well together, so seamlessly that congregations were bamboozled as to whether the service the Vicar was doing was Anglican or Roman. Now these poor dears will have to decide whether to stick with And also with you, or to stick their necks out with And with your Spirit. What they do will be interestingly indicative of their ecclesiology. Fun days lie ahead.

And the Bad News about 2010? Someone has done some nastinesses in 2010, rather reminiscent of the little corners of S Thomas's churchyard where the druggies have been. It is that bit less in accordance with the admirable prescriptions of Liturgiam authenticam than was 2008. Are we to presume that these are concessions to the Trautmanntendenz? I will pick ou just one: in the Memento, "vota sua" is translated as "homage". How this can be considered either an appropriate rendering of the Latin, or as in accordance with the rituals of modern culture? Homage is something that exists nowadays in the feudal customs which have survived in the English Coronation Service (and are probably eliminated even from that in the highly secret revision of it which has been produced for use with the Defender of All the Faiths). It is suggestive neither of the world of the fourth century sacramentaries nor of that of with-it Trautmannesque Americans who can't say "ineffaffable". Why on earth ...

I wonder exactly who was involved in the final tweaking of 2010 (except, of course, that it might not be final; an even more Binding and Definitive version may appear). But historians should be informed of the fool's name.

And finally: Christ has died ... has disappeared. Or I hope so. There couldn't be a risk of it surviving in some sort of Local Appendix, could there? Though mind you, I always use it at S Thomas's. My reason is a trifle eccentric: I profoundly dislike those 'Affirmations'; but to change them or vary them seems to me to draw attention to them. So I have stuck with what I inherited here, deeming it a formula that the congregation can say on autopilot and without thinking about it. Any ideas ...

23 August 2010


Is it really impossible to get a reconsideration on Una Voce of the ludicrous decision to translate vota sua (in the Memento) as homage? Couldn't those better placed than me get some sort of roll going on this? This translation could be in use for several generations.


If I were about to be ordained to the Diaconate, which I am not, and my Latin were rusty, which it isn't, where would I find on the Internet ... or any(accessible)where else ... an English translation of either the Tridentine rite for Diaconal Ordination; or of the rite in the Bugnini Pontifical; so that I could use it/them on my Ordination Retreat?


Fr Zed gives a splendid example of the phenomenon that some readers have criticised me for describing: the very strong tendency to call the Sacraments of those we disagree with "invalid" without any awareness of how difficult it is, according to the formal teaching of the Latin church, for sacraments to be invalid.

A writer had been assured by a RC priest that someone baptised in the SSPX would have to be conditionally rebaptised.

What nonsense. More: illiterate nonsense. That priest clearly had no satisfactory seminary training on the question of sacramental validity. Rather like the Vatican Press office when it declared that Archbishop Milingo's ordinations were invalid.

Mixed news ...

... from the American RC Bishops. The 2008 English translation of the Ordo Missae has now been published in a definitive version, which we can call 2010.

Mind you, the 2008 version was pretty definitive too, or, as Cardinal Arinze put it, "is to be considered binding". Non-RCs sometimes need to be reminded that when Rome says that something is Definitive and Binding, it only means that this is where we are until something even more Definitive and Binding is issued. I often wonder what legal jiggery pokery has to go on behind the scenes: for example, JP2 signed the Third Typical Edition of the Latin Missal; the Instructio generalis from it was published as a separate booklet; but then, when the printed version of the Missal appeared, it had been extensively changed (the directions for saying a Novus Ordo private Mass were completely rewritten). And the recent 'reprint' of that Missal contains, not just a correction of misprints, of which there are indeed several hundred; but substantive alterations.

I will give you the Good News first. The 2008 version has not been 'improved' (forgive the Anglican terminology) too much. It's main lines remain intact. Anglicans will give it a mixed reception. Those of us who, devoted admirers of Christine Mohrmann, believed in the importance of a specifically sacral dialect and accordingly valued the liturgical dialect associated with the name of Cranmer, will be moderately delighted. There are some actual Cranmerisms: notably, the use of "Hosts" to render "Sabaoth" in the Sanctus. But the main joy is that, since when Cranmer was translating canticles he did it quite literally, and since 2010 is also quite literal, the two versions (except that 2010 eschews thou/thee English) are often very similar, both in wording and rhythms. Thus 2010 will seem very unstrange to those brought up on the Prayer Book or its idiom.

Anglican Catholics, however, who out of slavish imitation of English Roman Catholicism adopted the old ICEL texts, will, like Anglophone RCs, have a great deal of rehabituation to do. And a category of Anglicans who will be chewing glass will be the Bubbles Stancliffes, who were dotty about the idea of common translations being used across the Anglophone ecumenical scene. They saw to it that the ICEL renderings were incorporated into Common Worship, and they even tried to be sexily ahead of the Roman game by incorporating formulae from the abortive ICEL version of the 1990s. That whole game is now definitively (er) over. It marked a particular ecumenical phase which is now also over. If the Stancliffes are irritated that it is over, let them ask themselves who killed it.

Concludes soon.

22 August 2010

Gardening Leave and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Many of the very best bishops go from time to time on Gardening Leave. Not that Bishop Williamson of SSPX, who is on Gardening Leave, is one of the Best Bishops. His Blog ... always readable (I liked his coinage 'televideots') ... is usually dotty. But it now reports a rumour that SSPX is being offered the option of subscribing to the Catechism rather than to the corpus of Vatican II.

Now where have I heard of that mechanism before?

I wonder why he did visit America recently? Possibly to check out how the Anglican Use parishes operate?

Is it true that he is to be Chairman of the new Gardening Bishops' Club?

21 August 2010

My opinion on Apostolicae curae

I welcome the bull for various reasons. It represented a crucial stage in the acceptance by the Roman Magisterium that the Imposition of Hands is the sole Matter of the Sacrament of Order. It was a reaffirmation of the principle that Schism does not, on its own, invalidate orders. It reaffirmed that heresy in itself did not eliminate an adequate intention (it saw the problem as lying in the fact that heresy had led to the substitution of an inadequate Form). Incidentally, judging from a recent post, Fr Zed is unaware of this basic principle of Western sacramental theology: although he thinks that things have not yet become that bad, it is in his view possible that defective episcopal orthodoxy might invalidate orders. And Apostolicae curae, by its very silence, implied the reformability of a pontifical document as solemn as the Decree of Eugene IV for the Armenians ... and thereby logically implied its own reformability. It was a useful slapdown for our Anglican arrogance. And, by that word disciplinae, it limited its own doctrinal scope.

In the last resort, however, I contextualise its celebrated conclusion theologically and historically thus:
(1) It is an echo of the old gut feeling that the people-I-don't-like-have-invalid-Orders. Its juridical foundation was a decision of the Holy Office, which in the seventeenth century had declared null the Orders of a Scottish bishop (whose consecration is now thought not to have been by the Church of England's Ordinal). And the Holy Office, like British courts, is bound by its own precedents. The participation of Dutch Tutchers I regard as adequate to settle any doubts there may be; the hoards of Roman theologians who thought that Accipe Spiritum Sanctum is an adequate Form of Consecration satisfy me. The action of the Church of England in getting the Tutch I regard as a solemn, significant and meaningful ecclesial act, and in this context I regard the reality of the diffusion of the Tutch as morally certain.
(2) It is an ultra-rigorist application of the principle that, in the matter of valid orders, it is important to be certain beyond any possibility of cavil. This principle is indeed far superior to Anglican habit of being lackadaisical ... and then going all Hurt and Wounded when other people don't feel so sure that what you've done is right. But ultra-rigorism can be taken too far. There are plausible stories about scrupulous RC bishops in the old days who reordained all their neopresbyteri in the sacristy immediately after the ordination as a matter of course, just to be absolutely sure that there could be no possibility of a fatal slip having occurred (I wonder if it ever occurred to them that if perchance their own ordination had been technically vitiated, this would not be much use). I don't really believe that God is quite the sort of God which this scrupulosity implies. And Rome itself is less categorical now about invalidity than it used to be; what would Leo XIII's generation have said if asked to judge upon the adequacy of a Eucharistic Prayer (Addai and Mari) which lacked an Institution Narrative? And this is in effect a return to a slightly less regimented Roman praxis: in the 1860s, the Holy Office declared that Abyssinian priests were to be regarded as validly ordained, notwithstanding the fact that the Abyssinian rite of priestly ordination, as found in their books, "in praxi paene abolitum est, neque alio modo presbyteros ordinari quam per impositionem manuum cum his verbis dumtaxat, Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, quae in libris non inveniuntur ...". One recalls Newman's discovery, when he arrived in Rome in 1846, "various persons there in the belief that [Anglican Orders] were valid, and none, I think, clear that they were not".

I am not insensitive to the rhetoric about how the Anglican rites were stripped of sacrificial language in the sixteenth century (nevertheless, Catholic praxis accepts the validity of Baptism by ecclesial bodies which have stripped the liturgy of Baptism of any mention of Regeneration). And I am more amused than I probably should be to find that some integralists, especially among sedevacantists, use precisely Dr Messenger's and Leo XIII's argument to argue for the invalidity of the Orders of the post-conciliar Church (even within SSPX, the argument is heard that some postconciliar Orders may because of dodgy intention be invalid; that each case should be considered individually). Plausibly; for the Sarum formulae mentioning sacrifice, which Dr Messenger and others so pedantically listed as having been eliminated by Cranmer, are pretty well the elements eliminated also by Bugnini. Who, while he kept the Porrection of the Instruments, provided it with a new formula which most certainly would not have been regarded as an adequate Form by those earlier writers who thought of this rite as the essential part of the Ordination. Perhaps Anglicans, in order to feel totally confident of their Orders, should ask to be reordained according to the Tridentine Pontifical and by a bishop who was consecrated with that Pontifical.

No; only joking. But it would be a nice experience. Is Mgr Rifan due to be in England soon?

One more.

20 August 2010


Some time ago, the C Prefect of CDW said that he had asked the HF to authorise a Feast of OLJC Priest for the Thursday in the Pentecost Octave.

Has anybody heard any more about this?

Vatican II Reforms: Calendar

Recently I reread Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), with the hope of seeing how many of the innovations in the Divine Office are, indeed, the result of the Conciliar Mandate. I was mindful of the front page of LH (Liturgia Horarum): "officium divinum ex decreto sacrosancti oecumenici concilii vaticani II instauratum". I accordingly begin an occasional series; in what follows, I may have missed some conciliar implications, and would be grateful to have these pointed out to me.


SC undoubtedly mandates a revision of the rubrics concerning the dominance of the Sunday Office, and of the Christian Seasons, over the Sanctorale. It also encourages a reconsideration of the saints who are to be commended to the Universal Church, and of those deemed to have historical problems associated with them. I do not, however, discern a mandate for the wholesale disruption of the days upon which saints are observed, except in as far as the Council could be said to give support for diminishing the numbers observed during Lent and Advent. As I work through the year, I am surprised - sometimes day after day - by the large numbers who have been shifted a day or two this way or a day or two that way. One notices this particularly when, in the same church, both the older and newer calendars are in use.

I have not discovered any mandate whatsoever in the Conciliar documents for the major changes subsequently made in the Christian Year. The abolition of the Gesimas; the revolutionary transformation of Eastertide, summarised in the change in the titles of its Sundays, so that the intense spirituality of the Easter Octave is now expected to persist for fifty days; the abolition of the Octave of Pentecost: for all these I cannot see even a whisker of a hint in SC. That there is none is suggested by the Commentary published with the revised Calendar in 1969; for example, dealing with the abolition of the Pentecost Octave, the explanation concludes " ... ita ut a multis optaretur suppressio octavae Pentecostes:quod factum est." [My italics.] If there were a conciliar basis for this suppression, a footnote, in the customary curial style, would give it. The impression one is left with is that, as soon as a particular academic tendency ("multi") had got its hands on the process of revision, they considered that they had carte blanche for the introduction of what many of them had argued in the pages of learned periodicals. A fair number of Council Fathers, had they known what their vote in favour of SC would be deemed to have enabled, might have been horrified.

Do not forget that Archbishop Lefebvre voted without demur for SC. He, presumably, assumed that what he was voting for was the text to which he subscribed his signature. One wonders how many of the Fathers made the same assumption. Indeed, one is tempted to wonder what Papa Montini would have said in 1963, had he known the full extent of what, after the regular attrition wrought by his interviews with Hannibal, he would end up having been deemed to have authorised.

Cardinal Ratzinger notoriously observed that "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council". In as far as the erudite writer intended to describe what actually occurred after the Council, it has to be said that his analysis is far from accurate. What Paul VI did to the Calendar was, in its more dramatic manifestations, not by the mandate of the Council. It was the effect of a coterie of academics abusing the goodwill of the Pontiff.

As one peruses the evidence from the intervening episodes of the 'reform', one discovers intriguing indications of the pace at which it moved. The Commentary on the new calendar, 1969, having explained why the Gesimas were being abolished, reassured any for whom the antiquity and spirituality of these Sundays commended them, that "Textus proprii harum trium Dominicarum alibi ponentur in Missali romano". (Similarly, the Embers and Rogations.) I have yet to find them; by the time the Missal was published in 1970 such vestigial relics of respect for Tradition had been swept away.

19 August 2010

Old Missals

When I was at an EF Mass at Milton Manor, a Recusant house not far from here, somebody told me that they use Bishop Challoner's Missal. Splendid!! And ... that therefore, when they say a requiem, they use the Common Preface (you will recall that the Preface for the Dead is a recent addition to the Missal).

Not long ago, I was speaking to a FSSP priest about the naming of S Joseph in the Canon. He said that when celebrating with a book that contained it, he named the Saint; when the volume on the Altar lacked S Joseph, he omitted him. [As for the related question of whether S Joseph is canonically in the 1962 Editio Typica, see comments of Fr Michael Brown and of Rubricarius attached to my post of 13 November 2009. This is not what I am discussing today.]

Is this an accepted praxis - to use the book in front of one even if it has been superseded by more recent legislation? Or is it the celebrant's duty to check in advance and to gum/write things in so as to be up-to-date?

(When Urban VIII changed the Breviary Hymns, his decree explicitly accepted the former possibility; he even allowed booksellers to continue to move stock which they had already printed, and purchasers to use the old texts therein. On the other hand, when Pius X changed the Psalter, he insisted on immediate compliance. Is this relevant?)

The question affects me. The more recent of the two Altar Missals I use was printed just after the publication of the new Assumption propers in 1951. It contains them ...on August 15. But, presumably by a printer's oversight, throughout the Octave Famulorum is given for the commemoration.

(Yes, I know Bugnini, cuius animae propitietur Deus, abolished our Lady's Octave in 1955. Don't remind me of that but address the question I pose! It's an important one! It could vastly enhance the market value of old Missals!)

18 August 2010

Can Fr Zed be right?

Fr Zed refers to an occasion when S Augustine "left the pulpit". Well, Fr Zed's doctoral subject was S Augustine, so I ought not to tangle with him. But ... er ... um ... did S Augustine preach from a pulpit???


With regard to my post about how the Bishop of Rome is not a Patriarch ... it has been pointed out to me that as long ago as 1961 one Ratzinger demonstrated that
The principle of Patriarchy is post-Constantinian; it has an administrative sense ... the Roman claim understands itself from the original theological motive of the sedes apostolica ...To the same extent that the "New Rome" made unclear the old idea of sedes apostolica in favour of the notion of patriarchy, the "Old Rome"strengthened the reference to the totally different origin and character of its own authority. This authority is in fact totally different from a primacy of honour among patriarchs, because it is situated on a different level, which is completely independent from such administrative concepts.

This is an interesting demonstration of the continuity of Ratzinger's basic theology, contra those who see him as a one-time 'liberal' who Lost The Faith and Sold Out To Conservatism.

As an Anglican, what particularly strikes me is the similarity between all this and the conclusions, as long ago as the 1930s, of Dom Gregory Dix.

Some time ago now, before JP2 became really sick, Cardinal Ratzinger had promised to write, in his then apparently imminent retirement, a preface to an edition I then hoped to produce of Dix's writings on the papacy ...

17 August 2010


Fr Tim Fin(n)e/igan has taken a train from Ebbsfleet to Avignon.

There must be, in this, either a sermon or a joke or both.


I have just been directed to an Orthodox blog which is refreshingly free from old-fashioned "Orthodox" Romophobia [Romaphobia?]. Try PadreTex.

12 August 2010

Other blogs

In response to enquiries: the blogs which I recommended, for those really interested in the evolution of the Roman Rite, were the "St Lawrence's Press blog", which gives you the Roman Rite as it was just before Pius XII's protegee Bugnini began his wrecking career. Then there is "The Tridentine Rite", which gives you what the Missal of S Pius V provides. As you look at the latter blog, you will have to remember that - if the dates appear a trifle strange - this is because they relate to the Julian Calendar. That will explain to you how it could be that last Sunday's First Vespers had to be reconciled with the Second Vespers of S James.

Go for it. The writer has at the finger tips of his mind a body of expertise which is possessed, I suspect, by nobody else in the world. And so many of the misunderstandings of the present age arise from an oversimplified understanding of the evolution of the Roman Rite since the sixteenth century.

I agree with the author of these blogs on most things, and where I don't, it's probably my own ignorance that's in the way. Just one thing ... it's a matter where I get the impression that I have not been able to persuade him of a conviction of my own ... the first modern' and objectionable intrusion into Tradition, long before Pius X corrupted the disposition of the Psalter, was the corruption of the texts of the hymns by Urban VIII in the 1620s. This was symptomatic of the root problem: if a liturgical tinkerer has the weapon of printing at his disposal, it enables him, be he Papa Barberini or Thomas Cranmer or Hannibal himself, to impose his own fads on a whole ecclesial community almost overnight. It is subversive of the whole principle of organic development.

11 August 2010

Ash Wednesday is being moved to Tuesday

You don't believe me? Well, pick up your copies of the Editio Tertia Missalis Romani and turn to the tables on page 117 giving the dates for major days over the next few decades. And check the dates of Ash Wednesday in 2012, 2016 ...etc.. You will discover that in the mad, bad world of Novus Ordo liturgical periti, in Leap Years Ash Wednesday occurs on Tuesday. I thought of saving this up on my blog for next April 1 ... but, well, it's not funny, is it?

This piece of daftness first impinged on me when I was compiling my ORDO for 2008, but I thought the mistake there was a one-off misprint. (We are all fallible. The first thing that happens when I open a nice newly printed copy of my own ORDO is that I spot three misprints.) It was only recently, as I did my first Year's Plan for the 2012 ORDO, that it dawned on me that there was a structural error in the tables in Missale Romanum, probably relating to somebody's incapacity to handle the mathematical subtleties of bissextilitas. Silly me. I should have realised that the illatinate incompetents who staff CDW would be innumerate as well ... after all, such people seem to have trouble counting forty days from Easter so as find Ascension Day. (Have I uncovered the real reason why Papa Ratzinger, crafty fellow, put the Ecclesia Dei Commission under CDF rather than CDW? What a mercy it is that Ordinariates also will come under CDF - thanks to the wisdom of the Holy Father.)

This sort of thing is not peculiar to the RCC. When the Anglican Liturgical Commission, under the influence of the self-confident Bubbles Stancliffe*, tried to do some fancy innovatory footwork with the "Epiphany Season", making it like the Easter Season by calling the Sundays of rather than after Epiphany, nobody realised that when January 6 was itself a Sunday, their whole silly game would collapse into lectionary chaos. To be philosophical about all this, it's the result in practical terms of a liturgical culture of discontinuity. When years just roll comfortably on, changing liturgically, if at all, only slowly and organically, problems only rarely crop up and when they do there are seasoned experts in charge with eagle eyes who spot them and make early and accurate provision. When a lot of not-very-clever people with an exaggerated idea of their own capacity for brilliant innovation get their hands on a tiller after redrawing all the maps, the next thing that is going to happen is that they will start trying to navigate their beautifully designed boat across the broad and deep waters of the Sahara.

There was an early example of this in 1955, when the first Bugnini Commission put together a decree 'simplifying' the rubrics. They made such an appalling hash of their job that when those humble, despised, practicioners and workers in the Lord's vineyard, the Compilers of ORDOs worldwide, started trying to give effect to what the Great Men had decided, Rome was inundated with hundreds of puzzled enquiries (dubia). One lot of answers in AAS (47, 1955, 418-419) failed to hold back the avalanche, and they tried then to save face by hiding their next load of corrections away in the pages of Ephemerides Liturgicae instead (70, 1956, 44-49). The entire episode was a foretaste of horrors to come.

As I've explained to you so often before, printing+committees=liturgical disaster.


*Bubbles Stancliffe is soi-disant Bishop of Salisbury. I put it like that because I am, as far as the See of Salisbury is concerned, a sedevacantist. He was originally one of us; got a mitre after deserting us; then turned nasty against us. In the last General Synod, when the archbishops were making their flawed but well-meaning attempt to create a Canterbury Ordinariate by stealing the Holy Father's idea of shared jurisdiction, Bubbles' contribution was to propose that bishops serving traditionalist parishes should be restricted to solely liturgical functions (he failed ignominiously). He's incredibly High Church in the very worst sense of those words.

9 August 2010


A very good comment ... if you are interested in the history and process of Liturgy ... in what Joshua has written about the Trinity Preface. Do read it if you haven't already. Come to think of it, this blog owes quite a lot to Joshua's comments. They're usually better than the posts.

8 August 2010

Daily daily sing to Mary

There seem to be two translations circulating of Omni die dic Mariae; one attributed to Fr Faber (printed in The Westminster Hymnal and The English Catholic Hymn Book) and one to Fr Henry Eddingston. There is a great similarity in phraseology; any student of the Synoptic Problem will see that there must be a close a relationship between them. Does anyone know what has gone on?

7 August 2010

Apostolicae curae: flies in the ointment

Oh dear. The Dutch Tutch plot went wrong.

Firstly, the formula Accipe Spiritum Sanctum which the Dutch Tutchers used, was indeed once regarded as the Form universally among Roman commentators. This was because, by analogy with Baptism, people expected the Form to be words uttered simultaneously with the Matter. And Accipe ... is what the Consecrator actually said while imposing hands. But Accipe is itself quite a late addition to the rite. The true Form should historically be sought in words of the Eucharistic-style Preface sung separately from the Imposition of Hands. In 1947, Pius XII made that clear. And the Tutchers had not say that Preface.

(There is a masterly example of Sod's Law here. Accipe was the Anglican Form for Episcopal Consecration from 1550. Leo regarded it as inadequate qua Form, despite the fact that Roman writers regarded it as the Form of the Sacrament. However, because of the theological consensus that it was the Form, the Tutchers used it (what else, they wondered, were they supposed to use?) in the Remedy-Apostolicae-curae plot. It was then ruled out of court as the Form by Pius XII, not on the grounds of any inherent inadequacy but because the consensus among liturgists had shifted to the belief that the Form should be sought in the words of the venerable and ancient Consecratory Prayer of the Roman Rite. This ancient Prayer was itself subsequently unceremoniously ejected from the Roman Pontifical by Bugnini after the Council because he thought - get this - that it signified the grace of Episcopal Order so much less well than some old oriental Prayer he found under a hedge somewhere and dragged in instead. You couldn't have made all that up, could you?)

The next Fly in this Woodpile arises from the failure of the Anglican bishops who were supposed to be passing on the Tutch to do so in accordance with the protocols. It seems that some of them stopped saying anything out aloud. Thus, even were Accipe to be regarded as adequate, these gentlemen were not dishing out the full works. An element here, too, was that Anglican ecclesiastical lawyers apparently know no Latin. After every Dutch intervention they filled out the Latin protocols with gibberish ... operating on the Lower Third principle that if you make nearly every Latin word end in -i, half of them will be right. I have seen Eric Kemp's set of the Protocols; one of them is made out to say that the Archbishop of Utrecht was himself consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1974 and that he himself on the same day simultaneously consecrated Bishop Eric!

This may very possibly be the reason why the CDF, when Bishop Graham Leonard showed them photocopies of the documents, were underwhelmed. They decided that they could not give his Orders a clean bill of health, but they did concede that there was an element of uncertainty about the application to his situation of Apostolicae curae. So they ordered his ordination to the presbyterate to be sub conditione. However, Bishop Graham used to like to remind people that CDF had not considered the question of his Episcopal Orders but only of his priesthood; he was convinced that the reason for this was that they foresaw that if they considered his episcopal Orders they would find them valid and then be embarrassed by finding that they were in possession of a perfectly formed married bishop with a perfectly formed wife!


6 August 2010

Anglicans submit to Apostolicae curae

Leo XIII, as a caput disciplinae, required that Anglican Orders be regarded as completely null and absolutely void. Has the Anglican Church submitted to this ruling?

Of course it hasn't; not in a public and formal way. But actions speak louder than words. In a curious sort of way, it has. In the secret Archives of Pusey House here in Oxford are the documents relating to the setting up of the scheme whereby Dutch schismatics, called Old Catholics, whose orders have always in Roman praxis been treated as valid, take part in Anglican episcopal consecrations. And those documents make absolutely and unmistakeably clear that the intention of the scheme was to circumvent Apostolicae curae, so that "the most severe Roman Catholic will find it hard to question the validity of Anglican Orders". The reason why this motive was not made public at the time is fairly obvious. But those documents make it clear. The Dutchman was to act as an Equal Principal Consecrator (not a coconsecrator), imposing both hands together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to say, aloud in Latin, the words from the Tridentine Pontificale which Roman Catholic theologians at that time universally regarded as being the Form of Episcopal Consecration. The Dutch Tutch was then to be transmitted by the same process until the Dutch Succession had completely permeated the Anglican Communion (as far as England is concerned, it has pretty well done so). Each stage was to be documented by the signing of elaborate Latin protocols. The existence of these complex legal documents, with witnesses attesting that they had seen the details of what was done, are themselves significant; you don't bother with all that sort of thing when somebody is just a coconsecrator.

In a funny old, ramshackle old, entirely Anglican, rather seedy, sort of way, this does constitute a compliance with the disciplinary requirements of Apostolicae curae, doesn't it?

But something then went wrong. Continues.

4 August 2010

Apostolicae curae and Benedict XIV

What, you may wonder, happened to the Decree to the Armenians of Eugene IV? Try looking in the index of the CCC; you will not find it. It has been buried. There is a lesson for us here; magisterial documents, even if issued by a Pope with the consent of an Ecumenical Council in a context of making sure that dissidents returning to Full Communion, really do understand the Faith, can quietly evaporate (if you think I'm pulling a fast one there, go and check up how many of the canons of Nicaea are still in situ today).

Eugene IV remained a problem for Latin theologians, not least when historical studies revealed how late the invention of the Porrection of the Instruments was. If it is necessary jure divino, then there are no valid orders anywhere in Christendom. Some theologians resorted to suggesting that the Church, which has the charge of the Sacraments, may have changed the Form and Matter at some time, to make the Porrection into the Matter instead of the ancient Imposition of Hands. The most learned pope of the last half-millennium, Papa Lambertini, aka Benedict XIV, would have none of this theory. He quoted Trent (sessio 21 capitulum 2) against it, and went on "Then, even granted that the Church had the ability to do what we are talking about, it is a completely empty and arbitrary claim that the Church used that ability. Let [those theologians] say where and when, in which century, in which council, by which pontiff, the change of this sort was done. ... But since all the elements, which were contained in the ancient rituals, survive intact, and even now are performed in their holy integrity, nobody will easily believe that those things which formerly were sufficient [i.e. ordination by imposition of hands], nowadays are insufficient to complete the Sacrament of Order".

That was in the middle of the eighteenth century. You may well wonder why the rules requiring the complete reordination of any westerner who missed the Porrection of the Instruments survived more than two hundred years after a learned pontiff, albeit writing as a private theologian, had spoken so frankly.

Some conclusions.
>>Magisterial documents are not set immutably in stone. Ad Armenios is no more.
>>Benedict XIV, like Benedict XVI, did not believe that popes and councils had unlimited power; he denied they could change the Matter and Form of the Sacraments.
>>But Rome is immensely careful. Since the validity of the Sacraments is so crucially important, it took two centuries - until the whole scholarly establishment had agreed that Benedict XIV was right - before his conclusion became, under Pius XII, the law of the Church. But even then, Pius XII covered all the possibilities by adding "If, at any time by the will and decree of the Church the Porrection of the Instruments has also been necessary for validity, everyone knows that the Church has the power to change and abrogate what she has decreed".
>>How much sounder this care with the things of God is than the cheerful Anglican irresponsibility which introduces doubt into the Sacraments of our Redemption in accordance with the transient fancy or whimsy of a particular period; whether of the mid-sixteenth century or the late twentieth. It is of that irresponsibility that modern Anglican Catholics have to pay the price when their Orders are regarded by some as invalid. Blame, not Pope Leo XIII; not even Cardinal Vaughan; but Cranmer and - in our own time - the General Synod

2 August 2010

Apostolicae curae and the Armenians

At the last session of the Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV issued a Decree to the Armenians who were seeking unity with the Holy See. "We have considered it expedient, lest in future there be any hesitation among the Armenians about the truth of the Faith, and so that they might believe in all things with the Apostolic See, and that the union itself may last, stable and perpetual without any scruple ... to hand over, with the approval of this Council of Florence, the truth of the orthodox Faith in a brief compendio." In what followed, he defined the matter of Order as "the Porrection [handing by the bishop to the ordinand] of the chalice with wine and of the paten with bread".

It was common belief among medieval Latins that this ceremony was indeed the "matter", the essential ceremony, for conferring the Sacrament. It is, of course, not ancient; the Western Churches themselves lacked it during the first millennium. What is even stranger is that there were Armenians - and Greeks - at Florence, who had been ordained without this ceremony; and there was no suggestion that they should be reordained. Strangest of all, when in subsequent centuries groups of Orientals (such as the Ukrainians and the Melkites) sought unity with the Holy See, there was never any suggestion that there was any flaw in their orders, or even that they should add the Porrection of the Instruments to their rites for the future.

Did I say strangest of all? Wrongly; because even stranger was the fact that this rule, that priestly ordination is conveyed by the Porrection of the Chalice and Paten, a rule given to Orientals but then ignored both by them and by the Holy See in its dealings with them, was actually applied ruthlessly within the Western Church. In fact, it continued to be the rule in the West until the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis of Pope Pius XII in 1947. Let us be quite clear what this means.

In big pontifical rites of the pre-modern period, things were by no means as tidy and rehearsed as they are now. It was, apparently, possible for ordinations to happen in which some ordinands got missed out during some parts of the rite. A series of Roman decrees dealt with the question of what happened if an ordinand received the laying on of hands but missed the Porrection of the Chalice and Paten. The rule was that the ordination was invalid and must be repeated in toto and unconditionally. (It even had to be repeated conditionally if an ordinand had touched the wrong bits of the vessels, or if some clumsy fool in the sacristy had put more water than wine into the Chalice.)

Imagine yourself in London in 1946. A young man, let us imagine, at an ordination in Westminster Cathedral, by accident receives the laying-on of hands but not the Porrection of the Instruments. Across the city, an Anglican youth receives the Anglican rite of ordination, in which, at that time, the Porrection of the Instruments was not included. In the eyes of Rome, both young men equally have failed validly to receive the Sacrament of Order, the Catholic just as much as the Anglican.

It is not difficult to see why Roman praxis, from Cardinal Pole until the 1890s, routinely treated Anglican Orders as invalid.

To continue.