29 June 2014


Deo volente, I am going to be away for a fortnight at the Roman Forum Colloquium, to which I am very much looking forward. While I am away, prescheduled Posts will pop up on the blog, but I shall not be moderating comments, indeed, I shall not even be reading emails.

I would very much appreciate getting home and not finding hundreds of emails!

26 June 2014

Quae in Encaeniis dicta sunt

Hodie in huius almae Universitatis Encaeniis, femina nescioquis Jefferts Schori ut videtur Americana ad gradum Doctoris in Divinitate admissa est honoris causa. Orator Publicus haec: Constat eam in rebus vel arduissimis mentem aequam tranquillamque servare. Multas ecclesiae Anglicanae provincias dissensionibus nonnumquam vehementibus sollicitari, quis est quin sciat? Haec autem voces inter se disputantium clementer auscultat, neglectos attendit, gregem suum ad caelestia regna non aeronave sed fidei et pietatis exemplo dirigit. Dominus quoque Cancellarius eandem alloquens ecclesiam tuam pari lenitate et firmitate gubernas dixit.

Quid tu, lector Americane, de his sentis?

Orator idem Publicus mulierculam eandem Servam servorum Dei nuncupavit. Quid? Triregnum eidem paratum asservatur? Joannam Papissam dignissimam ista dignior sequi conatur? In Sedem Petri (seu potius Petrae) elevata, foetum, putas, in pompa haec quoque paritura est? Duo hic mirabilia: huius enim anni permaturi videntur, et, cum vix sit inter lepidas annumeranda, quis est qui parte virili fungeretur?

'Episcopum' Orator mulierem dixit, non 'episcopam'. Hac ratione qua verba graeca ex duobus verbis composita duas tantum terminationes habere dicuntur? (Sunt quibus 'flaminicam' dicere placuisset.)

Haec in linguam vernacularem vertere prorsus vetitum est, nec responsiones vernaculares admittentur.

25 June 2014


I do not allow comments which even the most sensitive members of an episcopate might categorise as an attack. Sometimes very worthy contributions fall victim to this principle; for example, one recent piece used the phrase 'a certain, ahem, episcopal Conference'.

Nor do I allow pieces which might be hurtful to Ecumenical Partners with whom we are in dialogue; for example, comments which imply that Anglican Orders are invalid.

Yes, I know this is censorship; but it is my blog.

22 June 2014

Leading by example

Unlike some inhabitants of Traddieland, I'm not at all in a tizwaz about the Holy Father disregarding the law again this year at the Footwashing on Maundy Thursday. I still sleep well at night. I certainly don't think any the worse of him. He's Mega! But it has to be said that this year's event is more newsworthy than last year's, because, last year, he had only just been elected and it was perhaps an oversight when he continued what had been his custom in Argentina. And he has also now had a year in which to modify the law. His, presumably deliberate, decision to leave the law unchanged and to disregard it, has more of the quality of a significant precedent to it. And what more lofty and significant a precedent can there be than the actions of the Sovereign Pontiff himself? Who could be so impertinent, so lacking in religiosum obsequium, as to dare to deny the force of his example?

Obviously, it cannot be exceptionable for other clerics to frame their conduct on the basis of the Holy Father's own exemplary demonstration, in front of hordes of invited cameramen, of the non-binding quality of rubrical law. The Holy Father, when speaking once of his relationship with Mgr Good Marini, explicitly referred to his own liturgical "Emancipated Formation" in liturgical matters. It can only be an act of loyalty to the Holy Father to seek to enter into, to share, his own liturgical "Emancipation".

Henceforth, I shall follow the Holy Father's teaching-by-example (and not Fr Zed's advice) about the degree of obligation which rubrical law possesses ('Doing the Red'), and will consider myself free to make improvements. Unlike the Holy Father's dramatic and public disregard of the law on Maundy Thursday, they will not be the sort of things that laypeople even notice. But if anyone were to ask about my little modifications, I would simply explain that they they were in the Spirit of, and in imitation of the example of, Pope Francis. They are also in the spirit of our Anglican Patrimony; a basic Anglican canonical provision says (Canon B5) 'The minister who is to conduct the service may in his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance'. Pope Francis has clearly, de facto, confirmed this Common-Sense Anglican provision as being also a principle of Catholic praxis. Such a principle is also part of the practice of 'Subsidiarity' which gets quite a puff from the Magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI (e.g. in Summorum pontificum).

Here is the first of my improvements:

On 'Green' Sundays, if asked to celebrate the Novus Ordo, I shall deem myself free to use the Preface of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

After all, Clement XIII ordered it, and gave some very cogent reasons for doing so which I find Mutually Enriching.

15 June 2014


The Divinity of Son and Spirit flow from the arkhe, pege, of the Divinity of the Father. So today, Trinity Sunday, is also the Festival of Divine Paternity. That is why the suggestions, intermittently made, that the Father 'needs' a 'festival of His own', are so inapposite.

S Paul referred to the Father ex hou pasa patria en ouranois kai epi ges onomazetai. So all earthly Fatherhood is but derivative of, an ikon of, the Fatherhood of God. To use the Pater-word in any other sense is to fall beneath the Lord's prohibition against calling any man on earth Father.

One of the great successes of the Evil One in our own age has been to discredit Fatherhood. I am not in the least surprised that practical evils flow and have flowed from this. If you deprive male humans of the dignity of both spiritual and physical paternity, then you reduce them to mere male animals with a procreative urge.

Dangerous, in that they lack the teleology, the purpose, which God created them to have.

14 June 2014

More Apologies

I've been away, paying another visit to that wonderful place, the Church and Academy of our Lady of the Atonement at San Antonio within the Lone Star State. I was actually let loose on the graduation class at their Commencement ... what very agreeable young people; able, lively, hardworking and naturally devout ... and upon those graduating into the Upper School. And I preached at the Whit Sunday Masses and talked to a group about how 'We' as Catholic Anglicans came to exist. The Atonement must be just about the most spectacular example of the Anglican Patrimony making good, really spectacularly good, anywhere in the world ... I'm surprised it doesn't get more talked about. You'd think there would be hordes of people going there to find out what Fr Phillips' trick is (Answer: fervent and efficient orthodoxy, stunningly reverent liturgical orthopraxy, combined the the New Evangelisation opportunities of having a successful and vibrant school).

Why apologies? Because I got home tired from the flight to find some two hundred emails and blog comments; and I know I'm not going to be able to read and respond to each of them as they deserve. In place of decent replies I offer the lean fare of  heart-felt contrition.

13 June 2014

Dr Dawkins

I have just read somewhere that Dr Dawkins of this University has announced that he has a 'nostalgia' for Christianity and that he is a 'secular Christian'.

One could write reams on each word of that. I will merely share my own suspicion: that Our Richard is changing his public image in a bid to become a National Treasure and one of the Great and the Good ... the sort of bloke/blokess who is given a knighthood/damehood, if not the Order of Merit. God bless the silly opinionated old fool.

Not long ago, some gang of secularists wrote to the Press about one of their standard preoccupations ... I forget which one ... who cares ... but without Dawkins' signature. Interesting. Either he didn't sign because he is softening his image; or they didn't ask him to because they wanted to be taken seriously.

Either way, diverting, don't you think?

7 June 2014

The Paschal Burden

Our devout laity do not always realise the strain that Bugnini's reformers placed upon us clergy by the post-conciliar 'reform' - see my Easter Monday post - which extended the festa paschalia from one week (Easter Sunday until the following Saturday inclusive ... like the Byzantine Bright Week) to seven. Indeed, it is possible to eat and drink oneself silly for seven days if one really takes the obligation seriously, as we clergy, required to set our flocks a good example, struggle to do. But fifty days ... and not even any provision in Canon Law that one can seek a dispensation from the bishop from the ceaseless gluttony and insobriety imposed on us by the Spirit of Vatican II. And the Rogation Days, which might have given us a brief and welcome respite from the fleshpots and the bottle, were taken from us by the same people. One notices the increasing frequency with which the cords in chasubles aren't long enough to meet together in the front. I commented before how this revolution was summed up by the transference of the Collect of Low Sunday, with its reference (peregimus) to Pascha now having been completely finished, to the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday.

The Easter Prefaces of the New Rite are constructed in accordance with the same relentless liturgical dogmatism. The reformers took the conclusion of the Pentecost Preface ("Wherefore with joy outpoured the whole round world exulteth ...") and made it the invariable conclusion of all the prefaces of their unified fifty-day Pascha. So this paragraph concludes the prefaces used from Easter Night until Pentecost, as well as those of Pentecost itself. But, to ram their point home, they added the word 'Paschalibus' (so that it now reads "Wherefore with Easter joys outpoured"). While the Fathers referred to these seven joyous weeks as "The Fifty Days" or just "Pentecost", the word 'Paschal' now has to be forced daily down our throats with the same Stalinist ruthlessness as the daily haunch of venison and the endless Pol Roger for breakfast. (If you're Common Worship Anglicans, things are even worse. You have the double Alleluias at the end of Mass and Office for the whole fifty days.)

My own suspicion is that this paragraph about the whole round world exulting with joy is not particularly suitable for the job now given to it of operating on each of the fifty days. By my reading, its point is: it is because the Risen Christ poured his charismata upon children of adoption from every race on Pentecost Day, that Christian joy is overflowing throughout the whole world.

Back to the bottle, then. Another couple of days before the Vatican II Church allows me to drink just a plain, gorgeous, exquisite, glass of tap-water.

4 June 2014

Ordinary, Immediate, and Episcopal

Such is the jurisdiction which the Roman Pontiff, as his ministry was defined at the First Vatican Council, exercises over each member of the Church. His Primacy and his Infallibility are not mediated to us down a hierarchical chain; they bind each of of 'immediately', that is to say, 'directly'. Incidentally, they bind him too, because he is a member of the Church, not Something outside the Church and set above it. The very moment after Papa Pacelli had defined the Dogma of the Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God, he was himself as totally bound to adhere to it as the meanest presbyter, the lowliest laywoman, the humblest bishop. The fact that a man has a particular and essential role within the exercise of the Church's Magisterium does not mean that he is any more above that Magisterium than I am.

And the role which Vatican I defined for the Roman Pontiff does not mean that he can change or set aside the constitution of the Church. By the decrees of Vatican I the Pope did not become the Bishop of every diocese in the world or the Parish Priest of every parish in the world. Our own Dom Gregory Dix put it rather well when he wrote that the Definition of Vatican I "is the minimum definition, in juridical terms, of a power of effectually representing the mind of the whole [Church] towards a part." But the Bishop of Plymouth is not one ounce less the Bishop of Plymouth because the Bishop of Rome has Ordinary, Immediate, and Episcopal jurisdiction over him and each of his subjects.

I do not know whether our beloved Holy Father got in touch beforehand with the diocesan Bishop of the woman to whom he gave advice with regard to her marital problems. Nor do we know whether he afterwards communicated to the local Ordinary the facts about his pastoral intervention. Another thing we do not know is: whether he was in touch beforehand with the Parish Priest (a diocesan Bishop intervening in this sort of way would be very unlikely to have left the pp out of the loop), or whether he spoke to him afterwards. We do know that Fr Lombardi in no way suggested that the Pope did what he did otherwise than as a one-to-one interaction with the woman concerned. There may be things we do not know about this case; but what we do know is that the Pope did not consider it necessary, through his Press Officer, to contextualise his action by revealing any such relevant circumstances. All that Fr Lombardi said was that the Pope had not thereby changed doctrine, suggesting, it seems to me, that he had not been acting qua Pope but qua 'Fr Bergoglio'.

I find this the most extraordinary part of the whole business. I would never deny (it would be heresy to do so) the right ...indeed, the duty of the Sovereign Pontiff to interfere in another man's diocese, or another man's parish, with the due canonical processes, being apprised that there was a disorder in that diocese or parish which made it the duty of the Vicar of S Peter to realign that diocese or parish with the orthodoxy or orthopraxy of the whole Catholic Church. But Papa Bergoglio, as far as we have been allowed to see, simply ignored Bishop and Parochus and behaved as a Presbyter vagans, 'Father Bergoglio'.

I find this highly maximalising model of papal activity incomprehensible. The Bishop of Rome is not the Parish Priest of every layperson throughout the world. But then, I am not a qualified dogmatician. What I do know is this. Such an exaggerated and intrusive model of Papal action is not something that even the most well-disposed Orthodox ... or the most sympathetic Oriental ... or the most papalist Anglican ... would ever dream of signing up to. Try telling the Parish Priest of the Church of S Titus in Heracleion in Crete ... exempli gratia!! ... that unity with Rome would mean that the Pope could 'phone up any of his parishioners at any time and countermand some aspect of his own parochial ministry ... what do you seriously think he would feel about it?

This pope has an enormous relish for gesture, and the journalists lap it up. But somebody in Rome ought to have the courage to take him to one side. Quite enough harm has been done already.

3 June 2014


I am afraid that I am again going to be away from my computer ... well, not exactly afraid because I shall be with some dear friends, but you know what I mean. So I will not be able to moderate comments, or dialogue by email. But my humble offerings will, if the technology works, continue to pop up day by day.

2 June 2014

COUNCILS: When does the fat lady sing?

Five days after Vatican I had passed Pastor Aeternus, Blessed John Henry Newman our Patron felt that there were factors in favour of suspending judgement on its validity as coming "to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council". At least 'moral' unanimity seemed necessary for validity, and the 'inopportunist' minority of more than eighty had left Rome before the vote. It all depended on what that minority now did: if they "allege in detail acts of violence and deceit used against the Fathers, if they declare they have been kept in the dark and been practised on, then there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid." If, on the other hand, they failed to persist in united opposition as a body, then there could be said to have been moral unanimity and there would be no justification for resisting the definition. Finally, and most important, "if the definition is eventually received by the whole body of the faithful ... then too it will claim our assent by the force of the great dictum 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum' ... the general acceptance, judgement of Christendom" was "the ultimate guarantee of revealed truth".

It will be remembered how worried Paul VI was at the size of the vote against Dignitatis humanae, and the pressure brought to bear upon the minority. Who knows whether there may one day be another Ecumenical Council; who knows if an aggressive insolent faction within it might be dominant. We ... I mean, the whole Church ... needs to remember these 'technical' points.

The first paragraph is adapted from Ker's biography of Blessed John Henry Newman.

1 June 2014

COUNCILS: some undervalued councils

What a long time ago it seems ... when our beloved Pope Emeritus began to write about Liturgy. Do you remember the reaction which followed? It was as if a gang of yobs had broken into a meeting of deeply religious and proper Maiden Aunts, and had started shouting very naughty words. The pursed lips ... the frozen atmosphere of disapproval ... that was how the liturgical establishment responded. "But he's not a liturgist!!!" they cried, if ever they ventured to unpurse their frigid lips. They meant that he was not one of them; had attended none of their conventions; had written no little articles in their house journals; had rampaged through no diocese laying waste the sanctuaries; had hurled no reliquaries, no baroque vestments, upon bonfires; had destroyed no traditions of sacred chant.

And I'm sure you have The Spirit of the Liturgy upon your bookshelves. Have you recently reread the chapter on images? The Cardinal Prefect writes: "The Church of the West ... must achieve a real reception of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, which affirmed the fundamental importance and theological status of the image in the Church." Indeed, in the decades after the iconoclasm which, totally without mandate, followed Vatican II, it was Nicaea II, not Vatican II, which should have been the bedside reading of bishops and of diocesan directors of Liturgy.

But that chapter has something even more remarkable in it. "The Western Church does not need to subject herself to all of the individual norms concerning images that were developed at the councils and synods of the East, coming to some kind of conclusion  in 1551 at the Council of Moskow, the Council of the Hundred Canons. Nevertheless, she should regard the fundamental lines of this theology of the image in the Church as normative for her". Can you think of another example of a Roman Pontiff holding up for acceptance "as normative" the "fundamental lines" of conciliar doctrinal developments within 'post-schism' [I use Robert Taft's term] Orthodoxy? Calling his fellow Latins to go to school in Byzantium? If you want an ecumenism which is one, not of Gesture but of Substance, Ratzinger is your man.

Taking this approach further, I have found myself wondering whether Latin Catholics should discern, in the Synod of Bethlehem, authoritative teaching preserved in unbroken traditions of Separated Particular Churches; and ... I am aware that I am sticking my neck out here ... whether the "fundamental lines" of the teaching on Theosis by the 'Palamite' councils of the fourteenth century, elucidating the the doctrine of S Athanasius, of the Cappadocians, of S Symeon the New Theologian, of S Gregory Palamas himself, deserve to be taken seriously in the West. (It is good to see Palamas' name on the calendars of Particular Churches which are in peace and communion with the See of S Peter. Does S Thomas Aquinas appear in any Orthodox Calendars?)