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.

20 October 2010

S Giles, Reading

Yes, I do tend to keep on about it. You only have to step inside and meet the people; and look at the building, adorned with love of generations of Anglican Catholics, a beacon of the Faith once delivered to the Saints ... to see why.

The parish needs a good, orthodox, priest; and the adverts are now buzzing around. Or at least they should have been ... but I gather there were technical problems on some websites. But full information can now be found on the Ebbsfleet and Oxford Diocese websites. The closing date for applications is October 29.

If you know (or yourself are) a good orthodox priest who might build on Fr Melrose's work (aided by the prayers of an earlier vicar, Blessed John Eynon, martyred under Henry Tudor) ... well, the congregation are hoping for their prayers to be answered.

S Thomas's, Raphael, and Leo X

Happening to find myself in London, I drifted into the V and A to see the Raphael tapestries which the Holy Father has lent on the occasion of his State Visit. There should, of course, have been lots more goodies from the Vatican collections; Dr Ratzinger, simple, cultured, soul, had thought that the people of England would welcome a great artistic bonanza. He didn't reckon with the determination of the Atheist Classes to prevent the Visit being an occasion of joyful exuberance for the community as a whole. But the V & A couldn't resist the opportunity to show four of the Sistine tapestries beside the original cartoons from which they were woven, housed in the V & A from the royal collection.

What tremendous fun (and what a shame the Enemies of Joy prevented so much more from coming across). And how at home members of my congregation will find themselves at the exhibition (which is free). Our High Altar has a good copy of Raphael's Madonna di Foligno - the first altarpiece he painted after his arrival in Rome, and showing as Donor the Secretary of Pope Julius II. As I beheld it, a penny dropped in my mind. One of the mysteries about the picture of which ours is a copy is a thunderbolt apparently about to hit a house in the background. This has elicited various traditional aetiologies - ex. gr. that the picture is an ex voto done after a thunderbolt failed to do significant damage to the donor's house. But the tapestry and cartoon of Christ's Charge To Peter show a burning house on the skyline in the background. Was this just the sort of tiny dramatic detail Raphael liked to include?

The twisted 'Salomonic' pillars in the Marian porch of the University Church here in Oxford are are presumably the result of the impact of the arrival of the cartoons in England in the reign of Bl Charles Stuart; they appear prominently in the Healing Of The Lame Man.

And the repetitions of the Medici arms everywhere reminded me of the familiar sight each morning, as I turn over the page from the Preface to Te igitur, of a reproduction of the corresponding page in a Medici Missal.

Among the Acknowledgements in the book accompanying the exhibition (good value, hardback, £10) is the name of Good Marini. His Office graciously lent a copy of the Diary of the Papal Master of Ceremonies covering S Stephen's Day 1516, when the tapestries were first put up in the Sistine Chapel. The book is displayed open at that day; the entry painstakingly records that thirty cardinals were at Mass with the Pope; that Cardinal de Valle "Missam cantavit, licet non satis bene"; and then goes on describe the massive impact the tapestries had upon all who saw them.

19 October 2010

Blessed John Eynon

Sunday morning, I took a day off from S Thomas's to go and sing the Mass and to preach at S Giles' Reading. A great joy; a vibrant congregation of all types, ages and races. They probably found some details of my Mass a little unfamiliar; I have not celebrated a Sung ICEL Novus Ordo since I left Lancing in 2001, and I am a bit rusty as far as the ICEL melodies for the sung bits go. Playing for safety, at the end of the Canon I sang "Throughout all ages, world without end" (note for RCs: this is the old Anglo-Catholic version of "Per omnia saecula saeculorum" ... it provides more syllables on which to load the Tridentine notes than "For ever and ever" ... try them both out, and you will see).

It was good to find the congregation in good spirits and recovering well from the sudden and most sad death of the saintly and learned Fr Melrose. The singing was lusty and the Organ a joy to hear; the serving was perfect and unobtrusive, even when it came to discretely reminding an incompetent visiting celebrant that he ought to have turned his radio-mike off! Sorry, folks, to be such a burden! Some time I really must make an effort to move into the twentieth century. I was privileged to find the Best Green Set laid out for me: quite superb. Am I right in assuming there might well be something French about vestments on which the crosses mimic the exact shape of the cross of the Saint Esprit? I realised why we have the custom of removing the maniple to preach: a properly massive and stiff spade-ended maniple would cramp the style of exuberant preachers. And S Giles is enough to bring out the Bossuet in anyone.

Afterwards I was able to relax with the congregation (is it a sign of advanced years that I seemed to discover some connection or other with everybody I spoke to?) before being whisked off to a soft, superb, and succulent lunch. An example of the sort of mental inferences I was able to pursue: the parish must be above the water-table of the Thames because such fine wines could not but be the result of a large, varied, well-judged, and intelligently maintained cellar. I wonder how that would go in syllogistic form. What an easy subject Geography is.

As the train bore me back to waterlogged fluviality of Oxford, I reflected with complacent pleasure that I have had the privilege of offering the most august Sacrifice of the Mass at the altars of two Beati: Bl John Eynon of Reading; and Bl John Henry Newman of Oxford.

18 October 2010

Forward in Faith

Our Autumn Gathering had its funny side. Two of the bishops whose names are attached to the Society of St 'Inge and Bracket had been booked to present the proceedings of the Northern Synod which, apparently, so warmly backed this initiative of Johnny Hind and Chums. But they both subsequently discovered that their diaries contained entries which, after all, precluded their attendance. Those inclined to give some support to the Society and who were physically present seemed strangely muted in their praise of it. It appeared to be a truth universally acknowledged that nobody knew what the rationale of the Society was, or what it is for. One much loved priest commended the bishops involved for being prepared - after all these years of sneering at action groups - to do something; he suggested that it might be called the Society of Awakened Episcopal Ostriches. Another felt that it was important to give the Society a fair wind, although if, as he clearly suspected, the sponsoring bishops were not prepared to act illegally, it would be worse than useless (his hilarious peroration included a stirring rallying cry to Stink). With friends like these, how can the Society need enemies?

It was suggested that the Northern Clergy are different in type from us Southerners; since we were also told that a thousand of them had signed up blindly to the Society without knowing what it would turn out to be, I felt that this was a rather ambiguous piece of praise for those sturdy, sensible, no-nonsense lemmings (Lemmus Borealis?) up beyond the Humber. All the Nigerian Widows who so regularly email us could have a field day among the clergy of the Northern Province. We were told that quite probably the legislation for women bishops would fail next time to secure its necessary Synodical majorities ... so that it would keep coming back at regular intervals to prevent us from getting slack and bored.

But the moment of supreme bathos came with the suggestion that all was actually rather well; the Calvinist Conservative Evangelicals would save every last bit of our bacon by deploying their financial clout. That the Catholic Revival, the Movement of Pusey and Newman and Keble, the spiritual descendants of the heroic Non-jurors and of the martyred Laud, should come to this ...

Don't get me wrong. There were plenty of speakers, particularly among the young, who realised that we have clutched at so many straws and for so long that there is no thatch left on the roof to keep the rain out. There was real enthusiasm for Dr Ratzinger's New Deal. I just thought you might like to hear ... yes, the funny bits.

Oh, and yes, Bishop Edwin did tell us that the game was up.

16 October 2010


Both in the text of Second Vespers of Blessed John Henry, as done on the evening of the Beatification, and in the video of the Toronto Oratory's High Mass, we had the EF but with the Collect (etc.) from the newly authorised OF propers. I know it is the obvious combination to make, but is it strictly legal? Or should Fr Zed equip all the Oratories with his red and black mugs?

15 October 2010


At the Forward in Faith Congress in Westminster ... a lugubrious occasion ... an old tradition may have been abandoned.

Hitherto, each year, Bishop Edwin Barnes, Protoclete of Richborough, has stood up, at some point in the proceedings, looked around with his beguiling air of False Naivety, and said "But the Game is Up!"

Perhaps he's planning to do it tomorrow.

Ordinariates: an important announcement

I think a name should soon be given to the Ordinariate of Great Britain. Because the word Ordinariate is a nasty unEnglish and canonical term; and common folk like me do better with something more personal and user-friendly. My preference would be: "Society of Ss Hilda and Wilfrid" (Ladies First is an important principle). Many people, I know, assume that Bl John Henry will come into it (if he does, I suggest that the Ordinary, for ordinations and appropriate Ordinariate events, should ask to borrow one of the three English Oratories). I would not object to "Ss George and Andrew and David". Then, just as the Monarch's arms vary in England and Scotland (in England the three lions passant guardant of the King of England are in the senior quarter; in Scotland, the lion rampant of the King of Scots), so it could be the Society of S George in England ... etc.. Our Blessed Lady, whose Dowry England is, would be always popular, perhaps in combination with Blessed John Henry. S Theodore ... a Greek speaking Syrian monk appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by a Pope of Rome ... always seems to me a wonderfully significant individual, but he would mystify the media.

I entertain a lingering hope, certain not to be realised, that the old names of Ebbsfleet and Richborough, bound up with the arrival of S Augustine here in the first days of English Christianity, might survive as names of a couple of the deaneries into which it will be divided. They are already names encrusted with sacred memories.

Whatever the Ordinariate is to be, it could do with being announced promptissimo.

I may delete unbecoming suggestions on the thread ...

14 October 2010

Eastern Catholics

Some interesting 'demands' have emerged from Eastern Catholic bishops at the Middle Eastern Synod. Two of them I find unexceptionable.

The first is that Rome should stop discouraging the ordination of married Orientals to the presbyterate. The current position is that married presbyterates should only exist in the original geographical homelands of Eastern Catholic Churches. I can understand why Latin ecclesiastics fear the undermining of the Western discipline of clerical celibacy; and I have some sympathy with them. But they ought to be cautious in their assertions. For example, a few months ago an English RC bishop publicly claimed that the provision for the admission of married men to the presbyterates of Ordinariates applied only to the 'first wave' of those signing up. He clearly had not read the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, which allows ordinaries to seek dispensation for their ordinands from the rule of celibacy indefinitely: and does not restrict this to those who had been in the ministry of the Anglican Church. Ah ... and by the way ... symmetry would require that if Orientals within what used to be the Western Patriarchate have to obey the Western discipline concerning clerical marriage, then Occidentals within the territories of Eastern Churches should be subject to the Eastern discipline about clerical marriage.

Secondly, I sympathise with the call for greater speed in the granting of Roman consent to Eastern episcopal elections. Frankly, I cannot see why Roman consent should be necessary anyway. Its requirement is a fairly recent innovation in Oriental Canon Law.

The third request is rather interesting. I think I agree with it, on the grounds that jurisdiction should follow personalist and cultural norms rather than crudely geographical ones, but ... well, there is a But. I refer to the request that Eastern Churches should have jurisdiction, not only within their historical geographical boundaries, but - in this age of great migrations - over their communities anywhere in the world. Good idea. But ... In view of the fact that the patriarchates of the Pentarchy, sanctioned by the earliest Ecumenical Councils, are locked into the major geographical and political divisions of the late Roman Empire, should it not be the Orthodox position that such a radical change, from geographical jurisdictions to cultural ones, required the consent of an Ecumenical Council? Orthodox - and Eastern Catholics - are surely rather hoist here by their own petard, whatever a petard is. And, while we are in this area, it has to be said that, theologically and canonically, there is something distinctly iffy about the cheerful abandon with which Orthodox Churches set up hierarchies throughout the West.

The fourth suggestion is, in my view, flawed to the point of being ridiculous. It is that Eastern Patriarchs should ex officio take part in papal elections. Now; I have no complaint about individual Oriental patriarchs being made cardinals and thus papal electors. But the Pope is, essentially, simply the bishop of Rome. Because the Roman Church, where Peter's voice still authentically and infallibly speaks, is the norm of orthodoxy and the God-given centre of ecclesial communion and unity, the bishop of this see has a unique and most important position in the ecclesia catholica. But, when all is said and done, he is Bishop of Rome, and should be elected by the clergy of that city: which is what the cardinal bishops, presbyters and deacons essentially are.

And, curiously, this Eastern request has implications which should be resisted and which Easterners, of all people, should not be promoting. It implies that the Pope is a sort of superprelate, something raised far on high above all other bishops, patriarchs, and Churches. Only if he were such an almighty person could it be appropriate for him to be elected by the representatives of all the Churches of East and West. And if he were such a hyperepiskopos, paradoxically, the theological rationale of his position would give him an autocratic authority over the Church Universal even beyond the most extravagant dreams of the ultramontanes of Vatican I.

12 October 2010

Stinge but no Bracket

How fine dear S Wilfrid looks, down at Brompton, in his cope and mitre. I expected to find his altar there - genuine Netherlandish Baroque, I think I recall - thronged with bishops of Chichester, area bishops and archdeacons of that see, and canons of its Cathedral, all beseeching their patron for his prayer and blessing upon poor Johnny Hind's dotty 'Society'. But only the usual Filippino ladies there for the EF Mass, God bless them. I bet they aren't signed up to it. I know S Wilfrid isn't.

I wonder how many women 'clergy' Johnny has licensed and instituted to "my cure and yours" since he and his lackeys sprang the latest initiative of this "leading Catholic bishop" upon a waiting world. Heaven help any poor suckers who have fallen for it.

Daft lot.


Fr Zed recently gave pictures of the Vatican Edition of the Miassale Romanum. What struck me about it is how much it owes to the SSPX.

For example; the fact that it is the 1962 Missal which is printed is itself the result of a decision made quite late in SSPX history by Archbishop Lefebvre. He originally used the modifications introduced in 1965; indeed, arguably, the last lawful version of the Old Rite would be the 1962 Missal with the 1965 Ordo Missae, together with two other rites authorised a little later, bound into it. I suggest this because the Decretum of 27 January 1965 orders "ut ... in novis Missalis Romani editionibus assumeretur". And the Decretum of 7 March 1965 (rites of Concelebration and of Communion in both kinds) orders that it be "in Pontificali et Missali Romano accurate exscribendum". This is the last time that such a provision was made; the Variationes of 4 May 1967 include no similar order.

I say "would be", because, of course, juridically, the words of Summorum pontificum tacitly suppress the alterations made in 1965. But for this, however, I suggest that the revelation made by Pope Benedict, that the old rite had never been lawfully abrogated, would have automatically brought back to life the rite of 1965 (or even conceivably 1967). And, of course, Lefebvre finally settled upon 1962 rather than 1965 for his society: in which Summorum pontificum follows him.

The Vatican reprint also includes S Joseph in the Canon. As was established last year in a thread on this blog by a couple of learned canonists and liturgists, S Joseph was added to the Missal some months after the promulgation of the 1962 Editio typica. But SSPX usage includes S Joseph; indeed, I have heard it suggested that they see this as an important mark of distinction between themselves and the sedevacantists.

Perhaps most interesting of all - erudite readers might like to comment on this - the Vatican reprint has, on the title page, the arms of Bl John XXIII: arms which also cheerfully appear on the cover of the SSPX ORDO. Why should the Missal not bear the arms of the Pontiff by whose authority it is now promoted?

Personally, I hope that prePius XII missals continue to be browsed through in sacristies and used on altars. Thereby priests of a new generation will become familiar with some of the riches lost in the 1950s ... even if they don't use them.

Some of the lost glories are things they might in fact be able to use: as commemorations ad lib, for example. It would be fun if someone created an ORDO technically totally 1962-compliant but which enabled the 1962 rite to be used, by selection of the appropriate options where options exist, in a form as close as possible to the pre-Pius XII rite.

11 October 2010


A characteristically perceptive and intelligent piece on Ireland by Pastor in Valle Adurni, about the plot to subvert the natural communities which still survive in many parts of Ireland. The secularising elite behind this need, above all, to destroy the Irish Church.

I find it difficult not to admire the Irish Church, despite all. Reasons are partly personal; the kindness I have always received from the Irish clergy; the willingness of Irish bishops to permit me formally and in writing to receive the Sacraments in their dioceses; gestures of friendship from, for example, the late bishop of Limerick, Jeremiah Newman (who wrote a book on the Recovery of the Sacred which I regard as one of the harbingers of the Benedictine Renaissance); and from Cardinal Desmond Connell, who sent me a hand-written letter of great warmth after reading something that I had written.

The disaster that has overtaken the Irish Church is, at least partly, the result of senior clergy refusing to be coldly legalistic when dealing with errant clergy. Failing to realise - as we all did - the true nature of paedophilia, they commonly tried a pastoral approach rather than subject a priest to the rigours of canonical process, deposition, disgrace, and despair. We now know that their assumption - give a man a bollocking, add some psychiatric treatment, move him on to a parish where an experienced priest would keep a draconian eye on him, and trust to Grace - was inadequate to deal with the perversion concerned. But were there any establishment cuties going around explaining all this in the 1970s?

How were the bishops of that generation to guess that, a generation later, a 'liberal' ascendancy would have suddenly discovered the overriding duty for those in authority of being coldly legalistic and inexorably unforgiving? The entire culture of the 1960s/1970s was personalist, anti-legalistic, and inclined to mercy.

10 October 2010

Communicatio in sacris

Sharing in the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance, and Unction is of course permitted in particular circumstances in Canon Law; and and this is repeated in the Ecumenical Directory (with necessary distinctions between those communities which have valid sacraments and those which don't).

I recently did a post on the dangers of an ultratraditionalism which manufactures its own (often fierce) shibboleths upon a slight or even non-existent basis in the actual Tradition. An example of this problem (in addition to those I gave there) is the antipathy of some ultratraddies to the least whiff of anything savouring of Ecumenism ... especially communicatio in sacris between those in full communion with the See of Peter, and those not. They see this as another piece of post conciliar liberalism, and to be reprobated by Traditionalist Catholics.

This is why I welcome so warmly the admirable blog of the Transalpine Redemptorists which has recently published papal permissions from over the last seven centuries. I was not surprised to read the teaching of Pope Benedict XIV; that most erudite of Pontiffs knew his history too well to believe that the Auctoritas of the Tradition completely excludes such sharing. But I was particularly interested in the Toleration which Pius X signed for the Ukrainians in 1904; I was unaware of that. I could back up the evidence provided by the Redemptorists with accounts about how the authorities on both the Catholic and Orthodox sides positively encouraged all manner of sharing in the eighteenth century Aegean.

As soon as the Ordinariates have settled down, I hope consideration will be given to the question of how those provisions about this matter which are contained in the current Code of Canon Law should be used in the Ordinariates, so to enable them best to fulfil their role as effective ecumenical bridges which promote the restoration of full communion between separated Christians and the See of Peter.

7 October 2010

Divinum Officium

I obediently obeyed Fr Zed's command to look at the above website for accurate EF ORDO-style information. Mysteriously, the Mass for October 7 gives a commemoration for Pope S Mark, with the collect/secret/postcommunion in Latin from the Roman Missal as it was before Pius XII invented the Common for Sovereign Pontiffs. But the English translation alongside are versions of the Pius XII formulae.

Oh dear. How difficult all this popish liturgy is. Clergy joining Ordinariates will obviously need enormous amounts of instruction before we get the hang of it.

Bishop Bob again

In a recent blogpost about Anglicanorum coetibus I described how a former Anglican bishop, now incardinated as a presbyter into an ordinariate, would be entitled (if he petitioned for and were granted the jus pntificalium) to celebrate Mass. There has been a suggestion - not backed up with details - that the ritual activities I described were mainly those proper to a Bishop with Ordinary Jurisdiction; not those proper to a man simply vi consecrationis episcopalis. I am not in fact particularly well-read in the modern Caeremoniale Episcoporum, and I apologise if I have purveyed misinformation. I thought I was just describing how Mass could be celebrated by a bishop without jurisdiction; for example, a retired bishop or a bishop celebrating outside his own diocese. I have no desire that my overblown rhetoric should ride on the back of factual inaccuracies, and if readers can point out to me specifically where I went wrong and I find the correction convincing, I will promptly amend the post.

It has also been pointed out to me that Law is very anxious that the use of pontificals should be confined to those with quasi-episcopal jurisdiction. I was aware of this; indeed, it was my precise point (which I clearly failed to make very clearly). I'll try again: it is very remarkable that this established principle should be reversed in AC; as I said, there is no suggestion that an Ordinary qua Ordinary can ask for the jus pontificalium; the right to make this petition is available to those with no jurisdiction (apart from the normal presbyteral faculties) but possessing a sealed document certifying that they have been consecrated Bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury (or whoever). This is so very singular ... and so very gracious ... that I cannot help wondering if came from the pen of the Church's Supreme Legislator himself.

It would be truly characteristic of this very great and immensely kind pontiff.

6 October 2010

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Auctoritas, and the Canon

I cannot see where, in SC [Sacrosanctum concilium, the decree on the Reform of the Liturgy passed by Vatican II], there is a mandate for introducing Eucharistic Prayers alternative to the Canon Romanus. Nor can I see where it mandates alterations in the text of that Canon; least of all in the Words of Institution, traditionally treated with much awe.

The postconciliar rites expanded the 'table of Scripture' available; and SC had manifestly mandated this. You are at liberty to debate whether they did it in the best possible way; but you can't deny that they do have some sort of plausible pretext, in what the Council ordered, for what they did.

They expanded the number of Hymns in the Office; and SC had manifestly mandated this.

They reduced the Confiteors in the Mass from three to one, and Domine non sum dignus from six to one; and chopped out some Dominus vobiscums; unwisely, you are free to argue, but SC had explicitly mandated the elimination of some repetitions.

They provided at least (at my last count) thirteen, new, alternative Eucharistic Prayers: and where, pray, is that mandated or even hinted at? And yet those other matters, where the postconciliar changes rested upon and had apparently required a conciliar mandate, were peripheral in comparison with the importance of the Canon.

I do not see what Auctoritas there can be for the innovation of providing alternative Eucharistic Prayers. I think Bad Marini claims somewhere in the book with his name that the earlier custom of the Roman Church was to have alternative Eucharistic Prayers. But the Council Fathers nowhere mandated the erection of a committee with a free hand to resurrect anything it liked from earlier ages. They explicitly ordered that no changes be made which were not necessary; and that necessary changes should relate organically to what went before. In any case, it is unclear to me what Marini (or his ghost writers) means by his claim, unless it is some sort of speculative assumption about that period in the liturgical history of the Roman Church before written evidence becomes available. If he has in mind Eucharistic Prayers in use in the non-Roman Latin West, well, I have never felt that what I have seen of them gives much encouragement to go down such a path. Dix writes very well about how pre-Carolingian formulae compare very poorly with the Roman Rite. "Regret [for the demise of the Gallican rites] will perhaps be tempered for the student by the Gallican documents themselves, which plainly indicate that the end was not very far off when Charlemagne so abruptly hastened it. The barbarous boisterous Merovingian Latin in which they were composed would never have suited the clerks of the Carolingian renaissance ...". As far as these islands are concerned, we have, since the date of the earliest evidence, always been Roman Rite. The Stowe Missal, evidencing a form of the Roman Rite older than the changes made by S Gregory the Great in the 590s, suggests that even the 'Celtic' areas used forms of the Roman Eucharistic Prayer.

Of course, the new EPs are perfectly valid (ultratraddies who claim otherwise are simply manifesting their own illiteracy in the field of traditional Sacramental Theology). So what?

The Canon, the whole Canon, and no substitute for the Canon.

5 October 2010

Apostolicae curae today

The previous posts on this subject (this is the end of the series) have deliberately avoided going over the old questions in all the old polemical books and pamphlets. I have tried to edge into greater prominence both forgotten details ("idem caput disciplinae") and bigger questions of context, as well as historic developments since Leo XIII. I hope to have written enough to give some background to what Fr Aidan Nichols said in a paper which, most appropriately, he read at Littlemore (in 1993):

" ... the state of the question has shifted from an outright determination of the invalidity of Anglican Orders, in the bull Apostolicae curae, to the tacit admission, in the open letter from Cardinal Willebrands to the Co-Chairmen of ARCIC II in 1985, of a doubt about the invalidity where more recent ordinations are concerned. Unlike a doubt about validity, which has the (positive) presumption of validity as its background, a doubt about invalidity has the contrary negative presumption behind it, and so it does not license conditional, as distinct from absolute, ordination. However, those Anglican clergymen who feel morally certain of the sacramental reality of their Orders can draw consolation from the fact that, whereas the practice authorised by Apostolicae curae still continues (since the teaching of that bull remains the thesis in possession), the applicability of its teaching to their own Orders today is not unconditionally proposed by the contemporary Roman church." [Italics of the author.]

I would also contend that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus points in the same direction. As you know, it provides that the Ordinary, even if only in priest's orders, may ask the Holy See for the right to wear pontificals ... well, actually, it doesn't say anything of the sort. If the Ordinary was merely a presbyter in his Anglican days, there is not the hint of a suggestion that he can ask for the jus pontificalium. It is Ordinariate clergy who were Anglican bishops who can make this application, whether they are Ordinaries or not. In other words, the right to seek a grant of jus pontificalium is totally unrelated to the status of a man within the Catholic Church; the right arises solely from the fact of his Consecration as a bishop in the Church of England. It is blindingly irrelevant to point out that there are categories of presbyter in the RCC who have the jus pontificalium, such as Abbots or Monsignori. Because what Anglicanorum coetibus means is this. In the Ordinariate, Fr Bob, a married priest formerly a PEV but not now an Ordinary, has come (at the Ordinary's direction) to sing a Pontifical High Mass and to do a Confirmation. He is formally presented with Holy Water in the same way as on his last visit, and led to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for prayer. Having vested, he enters the church - while the choir sings Ecce sacerdos magnus - wearing the same zucchetto stuffed under the same mitre, the same dalmatic to make him sweaty under the same chasuble, the same ring and pectoral cross, as when he came to do the same jobs in the old pre-Ordinariate days. Quite possibly, his same daughter may be in the congregation wearing the same rather striking coat that is exactly the shade of Dad's zucchetto. "Thanks for coming to see us again, Bishop", say the same Churchwardens as the 'bishop' and his wife (same one) and daughter drive off afterwards in the same car.

If our Holy Father really does now continue to expect Ordinariate Anglicans to subscribe heart and soul to the complete applicability in current circumstances of the findings of Apostolicae curae, that Anglican Orders are completely null and utterly void, he has devised a most extraordinarily bizarre and counter-indicative way of manifesting this expectation. Come off it. Anglicanorum coetibus constitutes a deliberate and considered refusal to rub our noses in Apostolicae curae. If such an attitude is good enough for the most learned Sovereign Pontiff since Benedict XIV, why isn't it good enough for some Roman Catholics?

A completely different, and final, point. The old cry of Anglican Catholics, that Apostolicae curae ought formally to be declared of no effect, has now been completely overtaken by events, and it is the very height of folly to persist with it. We are now in a position of having profound doubts too about the Orders of many Anglican 'priests' ... well, doubts does not put it strongly enough. Given the percentage of women priests in the Anglican churches, and the growing numbers of men 'ordained' by women bishops, campaigns to vindicate the validity of Anglican Orders as a category: that is to say, the Orders of ALL who have received Anglican Ordination, are anachronistic to the point of complete folly. An increasingly large percentage of them are completely null and utterly void from our point of view too. As every year goes by, every decade in which the cancer of the new religion spreads it its lethal influence, the amount of clear blue water between us and Vatican praxis gets tinier. We are joining the ranks of those who demand "You must be ordained because your Anglican 'Orders' are invalid"! We will increasingly incur the same hurt anger that until recently was reserved for proponents of Apostolicae curae! Remember what an outraged uproar there was in General Synod when it was explained that if a priest ordained by a woman bishop wished to work in one of our parishes, he would have to be reordained!

The Roman Magisterium, the General Synod, and the March of History, have joined forces to make the question of the status of Apostolicae curae a piece of dead antiquarianism (rather like the question of whether Benedict V's election as pope was valid ... was it? Do you care?). Isn't that good enough for us? It is for me.

2 October 2010

Oxford Ordinariate

A friend has asked me whether I know of people in Oxford, or in the Oxford area, who would be interested in considering the Ordinariate possibility.

If there are any such, I would be very willing to pass on their names. Email pp@thomasthemartyr.org.uk

Una cum ...

When I read the Magnificat texts of the papal liturgies during the Sovereign Pontiff's visit to Britain, I was very worried by the text of the Westminster Te igitur. It omits the words una cum, and goes straight from "orbe terrarum" to "me indigno famulo tuo". By omitting una cum the text leaves itself open to the interpretation that the Pope is not named in terms of his ministry within the Church (remember Leo Eizenhoeffer's magisterial demonstration that the Te igitur expresses the nodal role of the Roman Pontiff as the centre and organ of the Church's unity) but as someone who is separate from and above the Church.

I concluded that there must be in Ecclestone Square some little knot of ultraultramontane Manningite conspirators; planning perhaps by such a monstrous magnification of the papal office to frighten off potential entrants into an Ordinariate.

But, apparently, Pope Benedict was having nothing to do with their seedy little plot. Watching, courtesy of a kind daughter, a video of the actual liturgical celebration, I was reassured to find that the Holy Father said the whole text.