29 January 2014

Narcissistic butterflies Episode the Third

"Nescis ... illitteratus nescis ..."
I had never seen our late Holy Father Pope Benedict XIV so agitated, or heard him so cross. I looked around. There were twenty-seven Japanese tourists, gazing with incomprehension at a gigantic canvas of the Temptation of Hercules. Fortunately, they appeared to have heard nothing. The Italian couple embracing on the other side of Pope Clement XII were as self-absorbed (BAD!!!) as before. I looked back. The papal brow was once again serene. The papal lips moved.
"Do you not know that red is the colour most proper to Our Office? What do you think is the real colour of the camauro on my head, the mozzetta round my shoulders, the embroidered stole I am wearing? That is why St Benedict XVI wore them  ... and the red slippers ... to demonstrate the continuity of the papal office. Ever since the Donation of Constantine ... "
"But I thought the colour for popes was white ..."
"Cogitasti, cogitasti ... Red ... the colour of imperium, of martyrium, red was the colour for Roman Pontiffs. The red mantellus was put on him immediately after his election; true, it was put on over the white alba Romana ... or rochet, as you might call it ... and people remarked upon the contrast of the white and red. And gradually what my predecessors wore under the rochet tended also to be white. And so the white became more noticeable, most especially during what you people call the Counter-Reformation or the Renaissance. But the white was always really the informality of the undergarment. Red is the papal colour."
"So ... when Pope Francis the First ..."
"Not 'the First'; the world will never have another Pope Francis."
"So when Pope Francis upon his election refused these garments of red and appeared purely in a white cassock, this was because ..."
"Exactly! It takes a long time for the soldo to drop in your mind! He was symbolising his determination to be the most truly and extremely Renaissance, the most magnificently Absolutist a Prince that had ever graced the Throne of St Peter. Did you not know that new Bergoglio is but old Borgia writ large?"
"Da veniam, Sancte Pater, da veniam ... but consider his humility in taking the name Francis".
"De humilitate loqueris! Quanta haec et qualis humilitas!! Throughout the entire second millennium we popes were content to take names already graced by a previous pontiff, so as to demonstrate our humility and our instinct for the continuity of our office. Adopting a name unknown before in the sedes Petri denotes an immense sense of personal grandeur, transcending that of even the princeliest Renaissance popes. Their self-assertion, lofty as it was, never went beyond using names for the second time which had been used but once before ... Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, an admirer of Vergil, called himself Pius II to draw upon himself the greatness of Pius Aeneas, the Founder of Rome, and died organising a Crusade ... and Giuliano della Rovere, another military gentleman who, incidentally, laid the first stone of S Peter's, called himself Julius II quasi natus esset de gente Iulia, de grege Caesarum!! Quibus maiorem iste se Franciscus iactat! Humilitatem dicis! 'Qualis unicus ego', ait, 'talem numquam vidistis!' But, fili dilecte, mi fili, I think your own Carnivale, as we Pontiffs put it, is about to be over ...".

He was right. The Attendant was returning, accompanied by the Museum's resident psychiatrist (this is, after all, a University City) with some large gentlemen carrying a straight-jacket. I was hustled away. It was some little time before I regained my freedom.

I am indebted to Ovid for his Fasti and his Metamorphoses; to Callimachus of Cyrene for his Aitia; to Professor William Tighe for generously making available to me The Pope's Body by Agostino Paravicini-Bagliani; and to the late Fr Michael Melrose, sometime Vicar of S Giles', Reading, whose books and walking sticks support me daily and whose name so often occurs in my Memento etiam.

28 January 2014

Check it

As well as binning attacks on Pope Francis and members of the English hierarchy, I have now started binning contributions made in a great hurry and full of typos and elementary errors. If you're in too much of a hurry to put it into a fit state to be read, you're in too much of a hurry.

Narcissistic butterflies Episode the Second

Yes; I tricked you there. You thought I would turn left inside the entrance to the Ashmolean Museum and, half way down the Howard Marbles, stop at the bust of Menander (By the way, I am confident that anyone who reads Wodehouse and Ovid will share my conviction that Menander is the Greatest of the Greek Playwrights). But no. Up the stairs I went, pausing only twice for breath, and along the corridor on the first floor to the room at the end, where there is fine series of busts of Renaissance popes, by a gifted but unknown sculptor. I set my folding chair down in front of Papa Lambertini, Benedict XIV, and looked at him. I find that, if I do this for long enough, he talks to me and answers all my questions. I ignored the Attendant who kept asking me if I was Sure that I was All Right.

After some twenty or so minutes, there was the very slightest movement ... not quite a wink ... in the Holy Father's left eye. Using my Fr Melrose walking stick to sweep aside the Attendant (he fled, bleating), I put my question.
"Beatissime Pater, who is right ... about the narcissistic butterflies ... Fr Finegan or I?"
"Rectius tu, fili, iudicasti." 
"Thank you, Sanctitas!! But ... in that case, wasn't your successor Benedict XVI a ... well ... a bit of a butterfly himself? The way he sent Good Marini to rummage endlessly through the cupboards of the Vatican and the Roman basilicas ... all those splendid sets of vestments, the mitres, the fanons, that he wore? Every time he appeared on Vatican Player he seemed to be wearing something unseen for decades ... or even for centuries ... isn't that ... butterflyish?"
"Minime minime: now ... you think of yourself as knowledgeable in matters Heraldic; I remember you looking with particular interest at my coat of arms embroidered here on my stole. Did you never notice, as you watched Vatican Player, the arms embroidered on those vestments worn by St Benedict XVI (mehercle; I shouldn't have given away his canonisation)? If you had kept your eyes open, you would have spotted who had ordered each of them to be made."
"Well ... erm ... "
"Some of the vestments were made by order of his recent predecessors; some of Paul VI; some of the Pontiffs of the first part of the last century; some of St Pius IX ... quid dicendum restat?"
"You mean ..."
"Of course I do. As Fr Finegan (a ten times better man than you, by the way) would point out on his admirable blog, it was all Hermeneutic of Continuity. St Benedict XVI was expressing, by the vestments he wore, the fact that, in an unruptured succession of Roman Pontiffs, he was successor of Paul VI no less than of St Pius X; of St Pius IX no less than of Blessed John XXIII. Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona ... vel, si fas est dicere, ante Concilium. Istius autem Francisci vestimenta, nihil loqui videntur nisi Me Me Me."
"But ... but ... but ... what about Benedict's red slippers?"

At this point the Pontiff's marble brow very slightly contracted, almost as if in anger.
To be continued.

27 January 2014

Narcissistic butterflies Episode the First

I don't willingly or often disagree with the erudite and witty Rector of Blackfen, but after mature consideration, an insatiable passion for philological accuracy and sensitive analysis of literary nuance compels me to break the habit of a lifetime, and to do just that. Do you remember Fr Tim's blogpost about smarmy narcissistic butterflies among the clergy? The major scholarly talking-point of the moment is: which aspect of, or episode within, the Life of the Common Butterfly is our beloved Pontiff Pope Francis encouraging us clergy to avoid? Fr Tim's theory tended to see significance in the habit of butterflies to flit capriciously from plant to plant (readers, I think, of PG Wodehouse will recall this topos, together with that about the Discarding of Soiled Gloves, as being frequently in the mind of that acute narrator, Bertie Wooster). Despite Father's deft deployment of his arguments in favour of this theory, my own inclination is to see the significant factor as being the dramatic and colourful display which the butterfly so willingly, so wantonly, puts on. I would adduce, in my support, the condemnation of Narcissism, nearby in the text, which, as readers of Ovid (come to think of it, readers of Wodehouse are almost certain to be readers also of Publius Ovidius Naso) will remind us, involves a lengthy and passionate contemplation of ones own excellences as reflected by a reflecting medium.

So, I suggest, the picture in the mind of the Sovereign Pontiff is of clergy preoccupied with how their appearance will dazzle and impress their viewers; clergy busily gazing at themselves in the Sacristy mirror ("Will this chasuble send them into ecstasies ... no; let's go for the cloth of gold ... no, it will clash with the gray hairs in my beard ... or the Art Deco one by Clive Bell ... no no no go away I know we're going to be late starting Mass but this is important ... perhaps the Comper one with the naked putti clutching at scroll-work ... "); clergy parading forth to swivel and swirl and flaunt and flutter their vestments to best advantage in the multi-coloured light streaming through the jewel-like Harry Clarke glass.

It is an exquisite and a compelling picture. Even I, despite the Puritan austerity of my Staggers training, can sense its power. And the respect due even to the lightest utterances of a Roman Pontiff convinces me that he can't just be talking hogwash. So where has he discovered this heady phenomenon? I will advance two alternative theories: firstly, that he is talking about a neurosis which he found among a smarmy clique of Argentinian Jesuits; secondly, that he has been spending time on his computer looking at Youtube videos of bimboesque and often quite capillary females in diaphanous dresses doing 'liturgical dances'. And he has a deep pastoral concern to dissuade the clergy of the Universal Church from emulating either of those groups. And so he should.

So I will now go down to the Ashmolean to share my speculations with one of my most helpful academic mentors, and to seek His judgement.
To be continued.

26 January 2014

Reordination (4); Consummatio; Anglicans

This is the last of a letter in four sections which are to be understood closely in relation to each other.

I must be both personal and frank. I never doubted that on June 9 1968 I was truly ordained to the Catholic Priesthood by Harry Carpenter, Lord Bishop of Oxford, and that since then I was truly, morning by morning, confecting and offering the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Lord's Body and Blood. If I had so doubted, I would, of course, have stopped performing what would have been a sacrilegious simulation of so great a Sacrament. I am sure that the five bishops and hundred-or-so priests in the English Ordinariate would say the same.

But it is a frightening thing to back ones own judgement against the solemn and considered judgement of the Successor of S Peter. Moreover, I always understood why others did have their doubts (or worse than doubts) about Anglican Orders. In 1994 I wrote: "The great historical fact is that, for hundreds of years, the community of which we are inheritors defined itself in broad, popular, international and cultural terms by opposition to Rome, to priesthood, and to sacramental religion. We helped to torture and to kill those who perceived themselves - and were perceived by others - to be maintaining these things". And, of course, I was aware that the Bull Apostolicae curae of pope Leo XIII, as a judgement upon the situation as it still remained in the 1890s, was still in the 1960s part of the juridical Magisterium of the Church, and indeed is still as applicable today wherever the same situation still exists as existed in the 1890s. But as a consequence of 'Old Catholic'* participation in Anglican episcopal consecrations since the 1930s, the situation did not remain unchanged within the provinces of Canterbury and York. That is what the CDF decision in the case of Bishop Graham acknowledged. And it is obvious that the decision then made by the Holy See implicitly applies to all those who are in exactly the same position as Bishop Leonard. If the documentation which he supplied to Rome led the Consultors of the CDF to accept that there was a doubt about the invalidity of his priestly Orders, that is, a doubt about whether the decision of Apostolicae curae still did apply in the changed circumstances of his case, and if the Sovereign Pontiff with his own hand sanctioned this judgement, then, in the mind of the Church, that judgement applies also in principle to those who are in exactly the same position ... like you. And when Bl John Henry Newman entered priestly ministry in full communion with the Holy See, he was uncertain about the invalidity of his orders, but underwent the ceremony required of him, confident that the conditionality of the rite was 'implicit in the mind of the Church'.

And there is more to this than the merely technical or historical. When Fr Aidan Nichols preached with much elegance, grace, and clarity at Bishop Andrew Burnham's First Mass in Full Communion with the Holy See, he spoke of him as now "a Catholic priest in the full, unclouded, indisputable, sense of these words". For Bishop Andrew's status was, hitherto, 'clouded' by our historical inheritance. It was (even if mistakenly) 'disputed' and now needed to be rendered "indisputable". He was now to be a Catholic Priest in a 'full' sense, that is, in terms of an overt, public, social, identity (rather than merely of a technical - and questioned - validity) that would be recognised by any Catholic ... or, indeed, any anti-Catholic ... throughout the world.

S Theodore "consummavit" the Episcopal Consecration of S Chad; arguably a greater Saint than he was himself; and a Bishop whose bishophood would be doubted by no modern Western theologian - as it clearly was not doubted by even so resolute a Romaniser, and critic of all 'Celtic' waywardness, as S Bede the historian. Anglican priests joining the presbyterate of an Ordinariate have repeatedly been reassured, by Roman Catholics of any and every eminence, that they will not be denying the reality of anything that they were or did by virtue of their Anglican Orders. But it seems to me entirely appropriate that - even if our Anglican ordinations were valid - as we enter the presbyteral community of the Latin church, we should enthusiastically receive, as S Chad so willingly did, the signaculum, the sphragis of the Universal Church, and the healing consummatio, of that priesthood which, in 1968, I believed I received in sad separation from the See of Peter.

Personally, I was most moved at my 'second ordination' by the laying on of hands by the members of the visible presbyterium in which I was thereafter to function - a very real sphragis, in the terms of Pseudo-Hippolytus. And I was glad to receive some of those ceremonies which had been absent from my ordination by Bishop Harry - anointing, vesting, the Porrection of the Instruments. Equally, I was glad that those traditional ceremonies which had survived into the Prayer Book Ordinal were not repeated; that would have made it look as if there had been no effect in what had happened to me 'first time round' (the Veni Creator, such a moving part of the Prayer Book rite, was omitted - in the post-Conciliar pontifical it is optional - and Receive the Holy Ghost ... , which the Prayer Book inherited from medieval pontificals, could not have been used in 2012 anyway because Archbishop Bugnini had chopped it, together with much else of a specifically sacramental nature, out of his post-Conciliar pontifical).

But, I suggest, it is most important of all that in submitting to a rite of ordination in the Catholic Church, Anglican clergy should also in total, complete, humility be totally, completely, open to the possibility that, despite their own previous moral conviction that they were ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, they, yes, may have been plain wrong.  Even you and I, dear Father, are not infallible! Perhaps this question of the Validity of Anglican Orders was just too close to our eyes for us to be able to see it in a balanced way. So, the proper intention when joining the presbyterate of the Ordinariate must be that, if such be the case, one receives ab initio and without any ambiguity the Sacrament of Order ... joyfully and thankfully. 

My dear Father, yours very truly in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

John Hunwicke


*'Old Catholics' are Dutch schismatics the validity of whose episcopal succession is accepted by the praxis of the Catholic Church. As part of a formally documented ecclesial process, Dutch bishops have taken part in Anglican consecrations as 'Aequi-principal Consecrators', using the form and matter of their Pontifical, which was the same as that of the Catholic Church before Pius XII, and with an intention - again, formally documented in Latin protocols - of transmitting the Catholic Episcopate as the 'Old Catholic' succession had received it. In 1994, the CDF considered the documentary evidence which had been carefully preserved in the archives of Pusey House in Oxford. Its judgement, based (so Bishop Graham told me) upon the vota of its consultors, was that a "prudent doubt" existed about whether the judgement of Apostolicae curae applied to the presbyteral ordination of Dr Graham Leonard, formerly Bishop of London. In an instruction formally approved by Bl John Paul II, Cardinal Hume was instructed to ordain Bishop Graham sub conditione to the presbyterate. (He received no diaconal ordination - the Pontiff with his own hand deleted a provision for that from the CDF draft put before him -  and the CDF did not consider the question of his Episcopal Consecration, which is thus juridically still open. It was Bishop Graham's conviction that they deliberately declined to consider the validity of his Episcopal Consecration because of an unwillingness to find themselves possibly saddled with a married but validly consecrated Bishop. Such a situation is in fact not entirely without parallel in the recent history of the Church ... but that is what Bishop Leonard said to me.)

25 January 2014

Reordination (3): Consummatio

This is the third part of a letter in four sections which are to be understood closely in relation to each other.
So S Theodore, doubtful about S Chad's Consecration as Bishop, "ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit". "Consummavit" is an interesting word. It can quite simply mean "finished off", as, elsewhere in Bede, it refers to the finishing-off of the building of a wall. But I somehow doubt - it seems anachronistic - that S Theodore examined every detail of S Chad's original Consecration Rite, discovered some technical detail which had been omitted, and then, as we used to say, "supplied the ceremonies". Sometimes consummare suggests an action which, as it were, seals or puts a final ritual touch upon a rite. So, in the account of the Martyrdom of Ss Perpetua and Felicity, we are told that the saints, before their final death in the amphitheatre "osculati [sunt] invicem, ut martyrium per sollemnia pacis consummarent". This Kiss was not, chronologically, the last episode in their martyrdom; nor was it essential to its validity: for who would say that, if they had failed to exchange such a Sign of Peace, their death in witness of Christ would not truly have been a 'valid' act of Martyrdom? It was an action which spoke of the Sealing of their deed, the ritual signing-off of what they were doing. It suggested the consent of their mutual agape, love, in the solemn act of martyrium in which they were collaborating.

Similarly, in the early history of the Western Rite, the Kiss of Peace 'sealed' the consecratory action of the Consecration and Offering of Christ's Body and Blood in the Mass. Tertullian calls the Pax the "Signaculum Orationis". He asks if any prayer is complete (integra) without the Holy Kiss and asks "quale sacrificium est, a quo sine pace receditur?" Pope S Innocent I writes of how, after the Canon of the Mass, "the Peace must necessarily be given; for it shows that the People have given their consent to everything which is done in the mysteries and in churches, and it is shown that they are finished by the signaculum of Peace which concludes them". In the technical modern language of 'validity', a Eucharist in which the Anaphora was not followed by the Kiss of Peace would not be deemed 'invalid' (in particular, Byzantines, Ambrosians, and Anglicans, who do the Pax earlier in the Rite, would have trouble with such rigorism). Yet there is something moving and gracious about this ancient gesture of consent, of unity, and of ratification. I, for one, would be sad if it disappeared from its present, unspeakably ancient and moving, position in the Roman Rite. But that is not what I am discussing here. My topic is to demonstrate it as an example of the consummatio of an action which would not have been a complete nullity without it.

But ... you know my habit of wandering off ... back to the question of Ordination. The author of the Apostolic Tradition says that when a presbyter is ordained, and the members of the presbyterium join in the imposition of hands, the presbyter laying on hands "has no authority to give kleron. Wherefore he does not cheirotonei a klerikon, but, at the cheirotonia of a presbyter, he sphragizei while the Bishop ordains". Non-Hippolytus is clearly not saying that the presbyteral participation is essential; he pretty well asserts the opposite (and, of course, this action cannot indeed be essential because it is unknown in Oriental ordination rites). But such a 'sealing' is far from being nothing. Such a sphragis is the equivalent in Greek terminology of the Latin signaculum . It is, I suggest, very close to 'consummatio'.

Consummatio appears also in the medieval Pontificals. In the course of their complicated history, the old Roman consecratory prayers had ordination prayers of Gallican origin added to them, thus creating - to the Bugnini mindset -  that worst of all horrors: Duplication. Yes: in a sense, an ordinand in the time of the developed Western ordination rites was ordained twice on the same day! And those Gallican interpolations are, rubrically, described as Consummationes or labelled ad consummandum. Until the post-Vatican II reforms, everybody ordained Presbyter had had hands laid on him twice, at two very different points in the rite! So those of us who enter the presbyterates of Ordinariates are really in the position of every man ordained priest in the Latin Church until half a century ago ... except that for us there is a bit of a gap between the two layings-on!

What I am saying is that there seems to be an inveterate liturgical inclination to finish off, seal, consummate, perfect, or add a final and graceful flourish to, sacramental rites. Naked adequacy, the stark minimum needed for validity, was not, until the 1960s, a Catholic instinct. Furthermore, there was a great desire to be sure about things. Indeed, there are stories about RC bishops as late as the first half of the twentieth century conditionally reordaining all their ordinands once they got them back into the Sacristy ... just for safety's sake! And Vatican dicasterial decisions required ordinands who received the (two) laying-on of hands but accidentally missed the porrectio Instrumentorum, the Handing-Over of the chalice and paten, to be 'done' again (so those poor chaps ended up having had pontifical gloves on their heads four times!).

24 January 2014

Reordination (2)

Walter 'Anglican Patrimony' Frere, an Anglican monk, bishop, historian, theologian, liturgical scholar, a participant in the Malines Conversations about Unity between Rome and the Church of England, wrote about the context in which S Theodore deemed that S Chad's Consecration was null. "In ancient days ... the Church, before accepting [a man] as a bishop, wisely asked, not merely whether the consecration had been done by bishops, but whether it had been done by the church, and the real church, and with real church sanctions, and without moral or canonical lets or hindrances, such as simony and the like. And unless it was satisfied on such points, it treated the orders given as null. The result of this policy in an age of faction and of great moral disorder was, no doubt, to throw ordinations into a complete chaos. The state of the Roman ordinations in the ninth century is a classical instance of this; and probably it was in consequence of this ... that the Church began to take a more mechanical view, and to extol the machinery ...".

Frere was not actually talking about S Chad. He probably had in mind such pontificates as that of Stephen VII, who exhumed the decaying corpse of his predecessor Formosus, propped it up and put it on trial (I'm afraid a conviction followed) and then declared null all of Formosus' ordinations. (Yes, a striking exercise of the Petrine Magisterium!) Formosus' crime had been to allow himself, when already a Bishop, to be translated to Rome.

I think we need to understand this sort of background so as to understand that when passions are roused, 'mechanical' concepts of sacramental validity tend to give way to ... er ... Common Sense, with all its sad inaccuracies and inconsistencies. In one of the longest persecutions in the Church's history, we Anglicans connived in a bloodthirsty system in which young men, trained to bring the ancient form of the Sacraments back to a country in which (any form of ) the Eucharist had practically ceased to exist, were put on trial for 'priesthood' and cruelly done to death. It is hardly surprising that when eventually we, the persecutors of  'the priests', suddenly decided to tell everybody that, actually, we also were 'sacrificing priests' ourselves, the assertion was not welcomed with open hearts.

I do not see how we can expect not to have to live with the consequences of our history. That is the deep-down reason why the current juridical dispositions of the Catholic Church lay this burden of 'reordination' upon us.

23 January 2014

Reordination: (1)

There follows, in four parts, a Letter which approaches from different angles the the problem of the requirement that priests joining the Ordinariates be 'reordained'. As well as reaffirming Newman's belief that the conditionality of such rites is implicit in the mind of the Church, the Letter will examine the question against a wide background, suggesting that the requirement is historically the sort-of-thing-that-has-always-happened, and offering from within the liturgical Tradition ways of understanding and welcoming it. (I may not enable irritable comments unsympathetic to the human dilemmas involved. In fact, most of you don't need to read this at all.)

Dear Father *********

Thank you for your letter; I am glad that you and **** are in good health. Pam and I return your greetings; we are feeling on a bit of a high because Senior Granddaughter has just been offered an Oxford place. You know the feeling! By my calculation, your ******* must now be in his second year.

And thank you for taking me into your confidence about why you have not felt able 'this time round' to accept Pope Benedict's offers embodied in the Ordinariates he created. I am very moved by your evident sincerity ... and grief.

You remind me of the developed teaching of the Western Church with regard to the iteration of those sacraments which confer character. No informed Catholic could deny the truth of what you write. And I sympathise with your conscientious unwillingness to appear to indicate, to yourself and to those whom you served in the the priesthood for so many years, that you were not a 'real' priest celebrating 'real' sacraments. Moreover, like you, I deplore the unavailability of explicitly conditional ordination for Anglican priests entering presbyteral ministry in full communion with the See of Peter: which, at a stroke, would eliminate these problems. After all, there is the precedent set by what the CDF decided in the case of Bishop Graham Leonard - who, as we all know, was not required to be ordained to the Diaconate and whose presbyteral ordination was private, low key, and sub conditione. After all, there can be few clergy under the age of 100 who do not, as Graham did, have the Dutch Touch in their 'pedigree' of orders! But, as I hope to get round to arguing before the end of this missive, conditionality can be implicit.

Some of our mutual friends, such as Fr ***** and Fr **********, have "longed for Catholic Unity in communion with the See of Peter" all their lives ... but now decline to accept Rome's gracious offer of the Ordinariates. They give this particular problem as their reason. It would be easy to suspect that their bluff has been called and that they find this a convenient pretext for staying where they feel comfortable; but we are bidden by the Lord not to judge others. However I know you well enough to be confident that you are not in that position. You long to take this opportunity of exercising your priesthood in communion with the Church Universal. It is a genuine scruple of conscience which delays you. All I can do is to explain my own thinking. I am afraid some of it may look rather like walking round and round a couple of mulberry bushes!

May I begin by boring you with the laudable Prebendary Dudley of Lichfield, and the admirable Farmer Hodgetts? It is by their doing that over the High Altar of Pugin's Catholic Cathedral at Birmingham repose the relics of S Chad, rescued from Lichfield Cathedral at the 'Reformation' by the Prebendary and preserved (over his bed!) by the Farmer. S Chad is an interesting saint, not least because, unlike most of us, he was consecrated Bishop twice. Indeed, if we are to believe S Wilfrid's biographer Stephanus (otherwise known as the Aeddi who was invited by S Wilfrid from Kent to Northumberland in order to teach genuinely Roman chant to Northerners), S Chad was not only twice consecrated bishop, but ordained twice through all the Orders! You see why there lingers in my mind the thought that his 'case' may have some relevance for us.

We do not know why the reforming Greek-Syrian Archbishop of Canterbury, S Theodore, insisted upon treating S Chad in this way. Chad had turned up in Canterbury for Consecration only to discover that Archbishop Deusdedit was dead. He then betook himself to the only 'canonically consecrated' bishop he could find in England, Wine at Winchester ... who duly consecrated him. Wine, however, was suspected of simony. Is that why S Theodore was so worried about S Chad's consecration? Or was it the fact that S Chad was consecrated to an already occupied See, that of York? Or was it the fact that two 'British' bishops took part in his consecration? Theodore's reason may have been any combination of these pretexts ... but the association in the Consecration of the two Cornishmen has often been thought to be the most probable reason why S Theodore assured S Chad that he was not "rite consecratus". Theodore was moved by the humility of S Chad's reaction; assured him that did not need "episcopatum dimittere"; and then "ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit". The interest of this episode rests not least upon the fact than none of these reasons - simony; attempting to occupy a See already lawfully occupied by another; participation in a Consecration by Cornishmen - would be regarded as a remotely possible basis for a verdict of Nullity of Consecration according to the later (and present) Western teaching with regard to Sacramental Validity. Not even S Bede - a man who never had a moment's doubt about the necessity of doing everything according to the Roman Book - doubted the reality of S Chad's episcopal status.

21 January 2014

(Crypto)Lefebvrianism (1)

If it is possible to accuse people of  'Cryptolefebvrianism' ... and one does come across such accusations ... then clearly there must be a 'Lefebvrianism' of which the deceitful 'Cryptolefebvrians' are the secret and underhand Fifth Column. I am having some trouble understanding what the 'Lefebvrianism', the existence of which is implied by some rhetoric, actually might be.

H.E. Archbishop Lefebvre would, of course, have rebutted vigorously any suggestion that he was or could be the exponent of any other -ism than Catholicism or Traditionalism. At the Econe episcopal Consecrations, the Consecrator asked the prescribed question "Habetis Mandatum Apostolicum?" Some members of the vast congregation must have been bemused when he received the answer "Habemus". Had Pope John Paul capitulated overnight? "Legatur!". But No ... "We have this mandate from the Roman Church, ever faithful to the holy traditions received from the Apostles. This Holy Tradition is the Deposit of Faith which the Church orders us faithfully to transmit to all men for the salvation of their souls. Since the Second Vatican Council until this day, the authorities of the Roman Church are animated by the spirit of Modernism. ... It is by this mandate of the Holy Roman Church, semper fidelis, then, that we elect to the rank of Bishop in the Holy Roman Church, the priests here present as auxiliaries of the Priestly Society ..."

A critic might observe that the Archbishop appeared to be appealing from the actual and actualised hierarchs in a real city called Rome to a Platonic idea of the Holy Roman Church. But it is more useful to observe what he did not do. Archbishop Lefebvre did not purport to assign jurisdiction, far less sees in partibus, to the new bishops. Nor did he commit the administration of the Society to them; Fr Schmidberger, a presbyter, discharged the role of Superior after the death of the Archbishop. Lefebvre was clearly making the sort of limited provision that sometimes has to be made in episcopally ordered bodies in times of ecclesiastical crisis: provision for the transmission of valid orders to secure valid sacraments. One presumes that this is why he consecrated four; when one died, there would still be the preferred number of three bishops to consecrate a successor. Anglicans may remember the crisis which struck England and Scotland after the Dutch Invasion of 1688; my Traditionalist Anglican readers will probably have a profound veneration for those priests and bishops, learned and saintly, including the great Bishop Ken, who were unwilling to disregard their oaths of allegiance to the Catholic King James II, and who were ejected from their churches and sees. They had no legal means to perpetuate their ministry; so some of them took matters into their own hands and ordained what were sometimes called 'College Bishops', who lacked jurisdiction but could confer and preserve the Sacrament of Order. For the Non-Jurors, this was intended to enable their Church to survive until the restoration of the lawful King ended the crisis. For Lefebvre, his four consecrands would enable 'Operation Survival' to endure until Rome returned to Orthopraxy, when the bishops would place their episcopate in the hands of the Holy Father. The Archbishop was determined not to be a schismatic; and had he purported to assign jurisdiction to the Four, he would have been just another new schismatic setting up his own new 'church'.

Thus the entire logic of Archbishop Lefebvre's dispositions rested and rests upon the premise that the Pope is the Pope and diocesan Bishops are the Bishops, however poorly they may be thought to behave. It is the Roman Pontiff, and the local Ordinary, that SSPX priests name in the Te igitur. If there is such a thing as Lefebvrianism, it cannot rationally be categorised as a call to schism. To the principles that the Pope is the Pope and the Bishop is the Bishop, and that all the de Fide pronouncements of all the Councils and all the Popes are still completely binding, a 'Lefebvrianism' would only add the proposition that in exceptional circumstances exceptional methods might be called for. More on that, DV, tomorrow.

To be continued.

17 January 2014

Mascall and Betjeman

Two very different men, two quite different poems. Mascall was not primarily an aesthete; with a precise cerebral logic he really did believe, with a passion for dogma, sometimes demonstrating sharply and polemically his disgust at sloppy thinking and careless expression. In his poem, the supreme irony is in the penultimate word: despite all the Ultra-Catholicism ... the priest had a wife. And remember that Mascall led an austerely disciplined celibate life as a Priest of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd.

Betjeman loved with an all-consuming passion the whole Anglo-Catholic edifice ... but I think he was sometimes troubled by doubts about whether anything was true. If God, then ... yes, the rest all follows ...  thurifers most certainly, and Martin Travers quite definitely, and baiting the Kensitites ... what else are they for! But ... God? And his sensuality, his sexuality, often got the better of him. But how he tried to believe! In his poem, the last line of the last stanza is not reserved for a final waspish irony but for  tear-jerking nostalgia as he recalls the real Faith under all the 'play-time' of triumphalist 1930s Anglo-Catholicism.

The Dogmatician versus the Aesthete, obviously. The Incisive versus the Maudlin??

But both are part of the luggage we brought through Customs into the Ordinariate!

16 January 2014


I know nothing about IT and all that. Can anyone help?

The problem is the "sitemeter" attached to this blog. As far as 'Last Month' is concerned, it forgets daily statistics more than seven days old. As far as 'Last Year' is concerned, it forgets everything more than a month old. The 'Total Visit' statistic is stuck on 923,226, and has been for a long time.

The sitemeter has a facility for asking for help. I have asked three times; I get sent a codenumber - I've now got three; but nobody ever gets back to me; the problems never go away.

More advice??

I would have loved to share with you a malevolent Comment (no, I get remarkably few of those) which tells me that I am 'a nasty old married queen' and suggests that this category abounds in the 'backdoordinariate'. I would have enabled it for your diversion, but it also libels a brother priest. Surely such statements are vitiated by a lack of definition? Possibly also by a circularity of argument? What would that wonderful logician Peter Geach (friend of Wittgenstein, husband of Elizabeth Anscombe) have had to say? I've just heard of his death; cuius animae propitietur Deus. I pray that as a good Catholic he's gone straight to heaven because it would be yet more bad news for the poor souls in Hell to have been joined by that sharp and merciless intellect.

14 January 2014

A deafening Silence???

After Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass for the Feast of the Lord's Baptism in the Sistine Chapel versus Orientem, the Media were full of outraged denunciations. "There were all those young families there for their babies' baptisms", they cried, "and he turned his back on them".

Pope Francis committed the same outrage this year, but a lengthy search on the Internet has not enabled me to locate the Media outcry.

Have I got to live in frustration until this Friday's Tablet reveals Pepinster incandescent? I can't wait. Not that I will actually buy a copy.

11 January 2014


It suddenly occurred to me. Do the Holy Father's public utterances, the products of his quite miraculous loquacity, have to be translated into Latin for publication in the Acta? If so, one can see why he moved into the Domus Sanctae Marthae - it was clearly to liberate the Apostolic Palace so as to provide lebensraum there for the waves and cohorts of Latinists who must, like Romanian gypsies, be flocking into Rome, landing at Fiumicino with the two green volumes of the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis in their hot little hands. Mind you, I've so very often found it a rather useless work. It will frequently offer you, as the modern Latin for some modern piece of technology, a circumlocution like "Machina quae facit XYZ". What one really wants is a neat, brief, one-word neologism, perhaps when necessary leaning on Greek, as the Romans so often did. Or perhaps an inspired sudden realisation that there is a word for something very up-to-date, just waiting to be dusted down and brought back into use. This happened to me hours ago. I had just seen something on BBC News about Twenty Much-used Very Modern Words. Among them was the new verb "to Twerk". A definition was given; and at once a penny dropped in my mind. I had recently posted (December 31) about the metre called the Trochaic Tetrameter catalectic. I expect you hung on my every word. I mentioned an unspeakably disgusting Greek dance, found in Athenian Comedy both Old and New, called the kordax. Which seems to be pretty well exactly 'twerking'. Heureka! You don't get much more up-to-the-minute than my blog. Or Nil novi sub ...

And one can relish something really clever: as when the Oxford Public Orator gave us "e-pistula" as Latin for "e-mail".

But the Two Green Volumes will in any case be inadequate to deal with the output of the Holy Father. So much of what he says includes words or phrases which I, at least ... I have had a limited education and led a sheltered life ... have never heard before. What, for example, is a sourpuss? Am I a sourpuss? What do I have to do to become one? Is it an abbreviation of 'sour pussy'? Are Mrs Slocombe's animal preoccupations relevant? Is this an undeserved attack upon Pushkin, the numen loci of the Birmingham Oratory? I have done my best, out of the obsequium religiosum which one owes the Sovereign Pontiff, to survey and comprehend the contextual complexities of this term (I have even looked at the French and Italian versions of Evangelii gaudium, from which cats are mysteriously absent); and I tentatively suggest that the Greek term dyscolos might get the sense. But perhaps you will all tell me that I have Menander too much on my mind. I think you are all sourpusses ... It occurs to me that, more useful to the Vatican translation industry than the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis, would be an Index Verborum, if there is one, covering Juvenal and Martial; Latin writers who seem to have very much our Holy Father's own attractive and engaging instinct for the down-to-earth. These authors ... perhaps with a helping hand from Trimalchio ... and from those gigantic volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum which contain the very ... er ... elemental street graffiti from Pompeii and elsewhere ... could provide the raw materials for what is undoubtedly the current philological opus desideratissimum: the Appendix Franciscana Recentioris Latinitatis.

I suppose I need to get in training for when the Call comes to get to Rome fast in order to join in all this fun. I'm hoping I might be offered a humble little marbled flat in the Palazzo Apostolico with walls frescoed by Michelangelo and overlooking the Piazza di San Pietro. When this happens, you will be very welcome to come and visit me ... ah, but there is a complication. Pam doesn't much like cities. So, in addition, we are going to need a villa in the Alban Hills and the assurance that Roman buses will accept our Senior Citizen Bus Passes.

You don't need to tell me what the Latin for Senior Citizen is because it might tempt you to be rude; but how would one say 'Bus Pass'?

6 January 2014

The good news ... the bad news ...

GOOD: today there are two very important posts; the great Father ZED gives a superb prayer to the Magi composed by Evelyn Waugh; and my friend Father BLAKE has important things to say about how papal bureaucrats and diplomats should not have the charism of episcopacy sprayed all over them as a matter of course. Fr B has said this sort of thing before and I've said it before; but we need more people to say it more often until it gets through. I would add an analogous point about Cardinals' hats. And wonder why certain curial posts, and certain archiepiscopal sees, should automatically attract them.

BAD: you may have noticed that an increasing number of blogs now lack the facility to comment. I love comments. But I will not enable them if they speak disrespectfully about our Holy Father or about  members of the hierarchy who like to be treated with respect.

5 January 2014

Un discorso da fare

It is plain that our Holy Father Pope Francis talks a lot. In my view, a question that is going to have to be faced is the magisterial status of his various utterances.

This is not an entirely new problem. It was creeping up on us during the last Pontificate. Pope Benedict was not averse to giving interviews, on the record, to journalists on planes (one of those led to the kerfuffle when journalists anxious for a scoop ignorantly misinterpreted his words and portrayed him as saying that condoms were morally acceptable). We had already come long way from the remote and lofty, godlike, manner assumed by Pius XII and his canary! Earlier, I believe, popes did give off-the-record interviews to journalists. But we now have a Roman Pontiff who is not averse to the sound of his own voice reverberating in public; and so the amount of papal wordage emerging from Rome is expanding exponentially.

A Roman Pontiff has an august status and his pronouncements, depending on their level of solemnity, require different levels of assent or respect. But not everything he says or writes is necessarily part of the papal Magisterium. Benedict XVI made this clear in the introduction to his superb three-volume work on Jesus of Nazareth. An additional problem with Pope Francis's utterances is that they are pretty well always, as far as I am concerned, so very much more difficult to understand than were Papa Ratzinger's lucid and simply-expressed statements. (I have a sneaking, and, I hope, not too disrespectful suspicion that the young Bergoglio did not spend as much time in school honing his skills in Latin Prose Composition, a tremendous training in clear thinking and clear expression, as the young Ratzinger did.)

Like many people, like many readers of this blog, I had been getting worried about whether I would ever be able to find my bearings in this Pontificate.

I accordingly felt a great sense of relief (and gratitude) when I heard Cardinal Burke's interview with EWTN. I have never done an extensive course on the Law of the Catholic Church and I am not a Vaticanologist. I had felt embarrassed that I could not understand so much of what the Holy Father said and that I felt so completely at sea about the status of it all. Now ... Cardinal Burke is not, of course, infallible; but he occupies the highest juridical post in the Church after the Roman Pontiff himself. As a lawyer, he must have a mind trained to analyse and to assess documents. And: he does not understand what the Pope means, or the status of his utterances, either. It's not, as I had nervously feared, just my stupidity.

Raymond Burke found the Pope's words about refraining from talking too much about abortion, difficult to interpret. Perhaps more significant is what he said about the status of  the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. He did not know "exactly how to describe it". It seemed to him "a distinct kind of document". The pope, Burke said, had described it as reflections, suggestions, guidelines. The Pope, he said, "doesn't intend them to be part of the papal Magisterium" ... a phrase the Cardinal repeated with emphasis a few moments later. (He concluded "At least, that's my impression".)

I believe I am right in saying that one is meant to discern the gravity of a papal utterance from what the speaker himself manifests it to be. If a canonist of high Curial status cannot detect clear indications of the status of a document, then it is surely morally certain, as far as concerns us lesser beings, that the document contains no such clear indications. And that, therefore, it is appropriate for us to follow Cardinal Burke and to regard Evangelii gaudium as the words, not of the Summus Fidei Magister, but of Jorge Bergoglio.

4 January 2014


What a splendid thing that the Holy Father is cutting out the Monsignori business for youthful careerist clergy. What a load of nonsense it was. Far better to leave honorifics to the local Church. I point out that, as well as Canonries, there is the possibility of using Archdeacon  as a diocesan honorific. In Ireland, and I believe in one or two other European countries, the word survives as a title of honour. From the Anglican Patrimony we can also offer Prebendary. Byzantium has Archpriests, protopresbyters.

3 January 2014


Could American readers, or Europeans learned in North American Demotic English, explain a phrase to me? It comes at the end of Fr Zed's post (03:01:2014) with the horrific story about Islamic atrocities in Syria (q.v.). Father ends with:  "Europe? HAH!".

The (contextual) sense?

VETUS again

I've had a brilliant idea - yet another one - about the Holy Father's brilliant decision to rename the Extraordinary Form the Vetus Ordo.

Could we take the formula Vetus Ordo to refer to any Mass of the Latin Rite celebrated according to the rubrics that existed at any time before the publication of the Novus Ordo? This would include several sub-varieties; one could multiply them endlessly, but practically speaking, these ...

(a) ("1965") the Mass celebrated by those who follow the use of 1965 (I believe there are communities which celebrate this by indult), according to the Ordo Missae which was promulgated that year (and ordered to be printed in future printings of the Missale Romanum: ...et in novis Missalis romani editionibus assumeretur ...). If Summorum Pontificum had not specifically mentioned 1962, this rite of 1965 would have been naturally, and logically, assumed to be the final form of the Old Mass before the introduction of the Novus Ordo*. It is the form used by Archbishop Lefebvre before he subsequently decided to revert to 1962. It omits the psalm Iudica me and the Last Gospel; simplifies the gestures at the Doxology of the Canon; introduces the Forma Ambrosiana ("Corpus Christi R Amen") at Communion. Then there is

(b) ("the Extraordinary Form") the rite of 1962. There are two forms of this. (bi) The form authorised  as the Editio typica was authorised and published before the Council. It lacks S Joseph in the Communicantes. But (bii) dates from December, after the start of the Council, when B John XXIII added S Joseph to the Canon. Logically, (bi) fits the prescriptions of Summorum pontificum. But (bii) is, I think, most commonly although illegally used by those celebrating "1962". As for

(c), I must be discreet here. This is for your eyes only. Not to be mentioned outside these four walls. There are those, dangerous men, who use the rite as it was before Pius XII and his ally Bugnini got to work on it. (I shall not enable comments which disclose group or individual identities.)

"Vetus Ordo" suits as an umbrella to refer to all of these. And version (c) we could call  ... what? Usus authenticior?
*I presume Pope Benedict XVI picked upon "1962" rather than 1965 in his motu proprio quite simply because His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre had previously done so; an example of his gentle and ecumenical courtesy; his desire to make things as easy as he possibly could for the SSPX.

The alterations mandated in 1967 do not, in my fallible view, constitute another variety of the Vetus Ordo because they were never printed in the form of an Ordo Missae and were not ordered to be incorporated into editions of the Missale Romanum (indeed, the accompanying Instructio includes the words firmis manentibus actualibus liturgicis libris).