28 July 2014

Is there a canonist out there?

It appears that the former Bishop David Moyer has been told that he cannot enter the presbyterate of the American Ordinariate because the local Roman Catholic territorial bishop will not give him a positive votum.

I wonder if anyone can explain how this fits in with the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus?

27 July 2014


How endearingly Traditionalist that ISIS should impose the old Ottoman tax on Christians in Mosul!

I think this could turn out to be very helpful to community relations in this country. As everybody knows, our own Islamic community is opposed to extremism and intolerance; indeed; those who know much more than I do about Islam inform us that the actions of ISIS are anti-Islamic.

So: all that the Islamic communities in our country need to do is to have collections and to use their financial resources to supply to the Christians of Mosul the money which the latter are having to pay to ISIS in order to avoid being martyred.

This will deal a powerful blow to Islamophobic bigots in this country, and convince ordinary people that our Moslem fellow-countrymen share fully our sense of decency and fair-play.


I doubt very much whether the present Hamas armed campaign against the Zionist state complies with our Christian doctrine of the Just War. I adhere to that doctrine and to that tradition.

But, given that Hamas is not run by Christian theologians, I find it unsurprising that they attack the Zionists as they do. Hamas represent a people whose land was stolen by immigrants who continue to oppress the remnants of the Palestinian people. Where a nation has for generations been displaced and denied justice, instability is inevitable.

This background, and the difference in the numbers of those killed on the Palestinian and Zionist sides respectively, demonstrate that there is no equivalence between the wrongs done by Hamas and those done by the Zionists.

The Zionists only get away with what they do because of the guilt which is felt in Western liberal circles on account of the Holocaust; which I regard as an undeniable fact of History. There is, moreover, their unprincipled trick of contriving to imply that anyone who makes these points is anti-Semitic, a term which they pervert so that it really means anti-Zionist. But they can count me out of their cynical manipulation of guilt.

I do not feel at all guilty about what Hitler did to European Jewry when I was just a toddler and my father was serving against Hitler in the armed forces of the British Crown. And if anybody gets kicks out of calling me anti-Semitic because of what I have written above, then, in my view, they get their kicks in very perverted ways.


Again, I shall be away from emails and blog comments, helping with the Latin Mass Society Latin course in North Wales.

24 July 2014

Back again

I am at home until next Sunday, when I depart for the LMS Summer School. I have done my best to get up to date with emails and blog comments.

I did delete one of the latter which seemed to suggest that if a lay person touched a chalice veil, it rendered the Mass invalid. Deeming that no reader of this blog could be so ignorant of what the Church teaches with regard to what makes a Sacrament invalid, I decided it must be a hoax.

Ha Ha. I wasn't born yesterday. Er ...

23 July 2014

Swiss Clocks as well as Swiss Guards?

Back in the Good Old Days, tourists to Switzerland came back with rather naff little wall-clocks in which there were two figures ... a male and a female figure ... which alternately emerged and retreated. I don't remember quite why, and perhaps I'm a bit confused about the details; but doubtless you will be able to correct me. Or were cuckoos somehow involved? We old gentlemen do get a bit vague.

Under this Pontificate (in aeternum floreat) something very similar repeatedly occurs. Out pops the Sovereign Pontiff with an interview or whatever here or there or wherever in which he says (exempli gratia dico) that there is a 2% chance that any Catholic priest is a paedophile. The mechanism then whirs and clicks as that figure is withdrawn and, automatically, out comes the other figure (another Jesuit, as it happens) called Fr Lombardi, who explains that The Holy Father Wasn't Really Giving An Interview and that He Didn't Really Say That; or that Perhaps He Did Say It; or that He Said Something Like It But Certainly Not So As To Include Cardinals; or that No Exact Record Was Made Of What He Did Say; or et cetera et cetera ad nauseam vel ulterius.

Does Lombardi get paid overtime? Are Swiss clocks still manufactured?

22 July 2014

Long Live the Nice Old Gentleman

I'm a poor ex-Anglican with very inadequate theological formation; nor was I a peritus at Vatican II; and I am not trained as a historian. All these shortcomings leave me rather floundering when I read what a certain clergyman, a very Nice Old Gentleman (hereinafter 'NOG'), writes in a certain 'catholic' newspaper. (I omit specificities so as to avoid falling into argumentum ad hominem in the sense in which those who have not read Locke sometimes, unfortunately, understand that phrase.)

I think it was at the beginning of June that NOG wrote about our blessed Lady's titles, and claimed "Pope Paul VI cheated, and referred to Mary as 'Mother of the Church' during one of his private documents during the Council".

The Acta Synodalia of the Council (AS III/8 909-918 vide praesertim 916) give the texts of what was done in the Council. According to this source, Paul VI, in his final allocution to Sessio III of the Council, proclaimed that Mary is the Mother of the Church. Some questions:

(1) Is what a Pope says in a formal allocution to an Ecumenical Council 'a private document'?
(2) Does NOG have evidence that these Acta are lying?
(3) Is it consonant with the respect due to a Sovereign Pontiff when speaking formally, to call him a cheat?
(4) Was NOG present during the Pope's Allocution?
(5) Since 1964 was quite a long time ago, is it possible that NOG's memory is failing him quite a lot nowadays?
(6) Is there a list of those who were Conciliar periti?

At the end of June, NOG's column spoke as if Pope S Gregory VII ... Hildebrand ... came historically before Charlemagne. Some more questions:

(7) Is it possible that NOG's memory is failing him quite a lot nowadays?
(8) Is it a good idea for a 'catholic' newspaper to give free rein each week to a NOG whose memory seems to failing him quite a lot nowadays?
(9) Would such a 'catholic' newspaper give regular space to a lefebvreist NOG who called a Pope, when speaking with the utmost formality in an Ecumenical Council, a cheat?
(10) Authority sometimes very properly admonishes the writers of blogs to be careful what they say. Does Authority take the same sort of close and laudable interest in what clerical newspaper columnists writing for a popular readership are saying?
(11) What sort of respect towards the plebs sancta Dei does it show to treat them as if they are so far beneath contempt that any sort of inaccuracy or misrepresentation can cheerfully be unloaded upon them because they are, in the writer's view, too thick and ignorant to be aware that they are being taken for a ride?

20 July 2014

A Hunwicke Test

I think it is sometimes a good idea to submit the assertions of myself, my fellow Catholics, even the non-Magisterial utterances of Popes and of those other Successors of the Apostles, the Bishops, to a simple test.
Would you say that to your ecumenical partners in dialogue, particularly to Orthodox?

An example. The Holy Father is unofficially reported to have described himself as the guarantor of Orthodoxy. This has an engagingly ancien regime flavour to it. One thinks of the Sun King saying L'etat, c'est moi; of Pio Nono saying Io sono la Tradizione. I think Louis XIV was one of Europe's great monarchs; and earlier this year I did a few enthusiastic posts upon B Pius IX and the Syllabus of Errors. I have, personally, no trouble with this sort of talk. And there is a sense in which our Holy Father's aphorism is totally bang on. The Roman Pontiffs, speaking ex cathedra, do without the tiniest doubt have the assistance of the Holy Spirit ut traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodiant et fideliter exponant.

I just wonder whether what Pope Francis said, the way he said it to the seminarians of the FI, is something which he would say to an audience including Orthodox. And I wonder this because I do not think the Magisterial officers of the Church ought to impose upon humble subjects of the Catholic Church a doctrinal formula of which they would not also be prepared to say to the Orthodox "This is part of our core belief and if you are to be in unity with us, you must of course accept it". There is not a single formulation of Catholic Truth which is good-enough to be heavily dumped onto some lowly, vulnerable, and bullyable group, but which we would never be so silly and insensitive as to try to unload upon our partners in ecumenical dialogue.

And, as for the report that our beloved Holy Father also used the old Loyolan topos about the Magisterium being able to declare black to be white, I can only say that if he goes around saying that sort of thing to Anglicans such as his chum Archbishop Welby, it will have the result of reawakening in their minds a whole lot of dormant anti-Catholic prejudices. Victorian Protestant bigots believed in subtle and deceitful Jesuits who smiled their sinister smiles as victims of the Inquisition were racked until they blurted out what their torturers required them to say. Is it really the policy of this papacy to stir up all those prejudices again?

18 July 2014

Two Popes?!?

Here is a post I published on June 6. A friend has suggested to me that it was seen by some as an attack upon both the Pope and the English hierarchy. I find this suggestion incomprehensible. My post was quite the opposite: it was an assertion that Pope Francis (and each member of the English hierarchy) is in full, sole, occupation of his see. I have strengthened the arguments and now reprint it. (I declined to allow comments which said, in effect, 'Haha, yes, there is only one Pope, and it is still Benedict'. And I always suppress would-be comments which attack the English hierarchy.)

Some of the comments on the thread apply to the first version of this post.

I strongly condemn the idea being bandied around in some quarters that there are 'two popes'; that Joseph Ratzinger has not totally renounced what one such article called, illiterately, the 'munus Petrinus'. I consider this idea an error of the very gravest nature. There is only one Roman Church, the visible centre and organ of Unity within the visible Church Militant; and it has, can only have, one bishop; who enjoys to the full, and exclusively, the prerogatives defined in the decree Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I. To argue otherwise is to subvert the entire structure and constitution of the Catholic Church.

A second reason why it is wrong is that it appears to create a new sacramental order within the Catholic Church, with a 'character' indelibly and irrevocably marked upon the soul of a man who has once been Pope. There is no such order, and it is, in my view, heretical to say or to imply that there is. The sacramental orders in the Church of Christ are those of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon. A pope is the Bishop of Rome, and a pope emeritus is a Bishop who was once Bishop of Rome and now is so no longer*. (Very properly, when the Holy Father published an Encyclical largely written by his predecessor, it went out solely in his own name.)

Joseph Ratzinger is a learned man who knows that the colour symbolic of the Papacy is red. That is why, on ceasing to be pope, he gave up all use of that red, even as concerned his footwear. The significance of this is that those who promote the outrageous thesis that he is still Pope are apparently under the impression that one can draw conclusions from the wearing of a white cassock as being the symbol of papal authority. It isn't: clergy in Africa used to wear white, and perhaps still do. I have explained this matter more than once previously in my blog. Benedict changed the colour of the crosses on the papal pallium from black to red in order to make precisely the point that red is the papal colour. And now he doesn't wear it. Because he is no longer Pope. As he has also made clear in other ways.

It may be that this absurd idea might appeal to those who, with good reason, much admired Benedict XVI; and who now, with less reason, dislike Francis. I can only say that the very worst tribute that can be paid to our beloved Papa Ratzinger and to his years of sacrificial, persecuted, ministry, is to invent a couple of new heresies in his 'honour'.
*At the time of the abdication, anticipating the possibility of just such confusions, I suggested that Pope Benedict should have a new suburbicarian See created for him. This would have given expression to his sense of still being within the Enclosure of S Peter while making clear that he is no longer Bishop of Rome. I still think this would have been sensible. Episcopus in Vaticano, or Episcopus ad Sepulturam beati Petri ...

The word emeritus ... see any Latin dictionary ... means one who no longer holds the position he previously held. Thus, there is only one Archbishop of Westminster, endowed with 100% of the powers of his See. Cardinal Cormac is not the Archbishop of Westminster; emeritus means that he was so previously but is not so now, although he is of course loved and respected both for himself and for the service he did the Church in that role. If there is an idea that a See is a corporatio in which the comparticipes are all those bishops still living who have ever in the past occupied that See, then I would like to see the authority for such a view.

15 July 2014

Off again

Sorry; I'm off again. No complaints: it's nice to be wanted, appreciated, and used: I never got so much fun in the C of E!

Again: I shall not open emails or moderate blog comments for about a fortnight.

14 July 2014

Go to Westminster

A reminder that there is a delightful little permanent exhibition in Westminster Cathedral, well worth its entrance fee.

What strikes you as you enter is a massive and gorgeous monstrance by Omar Ramsden, a characteristic product in Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts. Go and wonder at it. It encapsulates (I give you my own biased opinion) the entire tragedy of Westminster Cathedral. When the cathedral was planned, there was not enough money to do what many desired: to make it the last great English Gothic cathedral; although, at Southwark, even Hitler has not been able completely to obliterate Pugin's splendours. Nor, apparently did they want the Romanita of the Baroque (that was managed beautifully down at Brompton). I don't know if they ever considered attempting something in the style of the Constantinian basilicas in Rome. Instead of all these possibilities, a curious red-brick Byzantinism was chosen, enabling much of the decoration to be added (or not) by future generations. But the church could have been designed wholeheartedly in the (then up-to-the-moment) style of that wonderful Art Nouveau period 1880-1910. It was possible to do such a thing; we of the Patrimony did it down by the sea, in S Bartholomew's, Brighton, even if that great church is technically unfinished (after all, it rests upon the finances of a mere parish, while Westminster Cathedral was built as the principal church of England and Wales). Ramsden's monstrance would have fitted perfectly into such a church.

The next thing to catch my eye was a superb Spanish sixteenth century cross, 'Toledo', designed to do duty both as a processional cross and as an altar cross. Late medieval in feel with dashes of the Renaissance and of the Moorish. I last saw it, so to speak, at Lancing, where we had an almost identical example ex dono Henrici Martini Gibbs, with the Assumption on the back; it is still used there on the High Altar dedicated to the Assumption.

Presiding over the whole exhibition is a terracotta bust of Mr Archdeacon Manning, dressed like a cardinal. A shame there is no matching bust of Mrs Manning, buried in her country churchyard under the shadow of the South Downs! The exhibition also has a cope of his, allegedly worn at Vatican I, with the motto Malo mori quam foedari. The caption, unless it has been corrected since I was last there [apologies if it has], translates this as "I prefer to die rather than compromise"! Possibly some chappy whose Latin is just the weeniest bit rusty thought that foedari had something to do with foedus/foederis!! Perhaps he's the same bloke who composed the slightly odd 'Latin' inscription in the floor near the Cathedral door commemorating the visit of Pope Benedict XVI (so very inferior to the inspired elegance of the inscription commemorating the visit of S John Paul II: Ecce vestigia etc.) You'd think that in a Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, even if nobody on the staff is easy with Latin, at least one of them would know someone who was! Veterum Sapientia of Good Pope S John XXIII is still a Magisterial document!

Happily, the Archdiocese of Southwark, just across the water, takes great care to get its latinity correct and elegant. Four cheers for His Grace Archbishop Peter, who also writes such kind, courteous, and fatherly letters to those who have been pleased to do him some service!

3 July 2014

Tempus Thomasinum

A curious little 'Thomas' season is starting.

On July 3, the Novus Ordo Calendar will observe S Thomas the Apostle. Bugnini moved him here so as to extricate him from the Major Advent Ferias just before Christmas. July 3 is truly, however, his date among Syrian and Malabar Christians who believe that he evangelised India. I think he is worth a votive, said for those ancient and venerable Christian communities.

July 5 is the memorial of Blessed Thomas Belson, a lay martyr executed in Oxford in the hysteria which followed the Armada (what a shame that very worthy enterprise was not successful). He and his group were arrested in the Inn called the Catherine Wheel, opposite S Mary Mag's church (and now built over by Balliol College; c'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la gare).

July 7 is the Translation of the relics of S Thomas of Canterbury; observed in the diocese of Portsmouth. In Oxford, the little extramural church of S Thomas the Martyr, first parish church in England to experience the ritual reforms of the Oxford Movement, provided the origins of the Oxford Ordinariate Group.

Then, on July 9 (he was martyred on July 6, but the preconciliar RC calendar for the regions of England, needed to find him a date which did not coincide with the Octave Day of SS Peter and Paul) we observe S Thomas More (Common Worship, not foolishly, has reverted to July 6 for his feast).

The thread has comments deriving from an earlier version of this post.