29 November 2014

First and Second Rome

Perhaps I'm obtuse, but I can't see what the Holy Father has done wrong in Constantinople. In the Blue Mosque he bowed a silent head; what else would anyone do (though I'd like to know exactly what it was the Grand Mufti was saying, and it would have been jolly if the Pope had then taken the Mufti into a Catholic church and, kneeling with him before the Tabernacle, had said the Trinitarian Gloria Patri).

When he visited Hagia Sophia, the very neat things he wrote in the book there ... the Greek and then the Latin ... seem to me to make perfectly clear that he visited the place qua the consecrated Christian Church of the Most Holy Wisdom. An elegant and clever piece of contextualising and I would feel quite proud if I'd dreamed it up myself.

Then later, they say he asked Patriarch Bartholomew for a blessing; but all I saw was His All-Holiness instead* giving him a friendly kiss on the Zucchetto; and then attempting unsuccessfully to kiss his hand.

The Patriarch appeared to be wearing a cappa magna ... those wretched things get just everywhere, don't they?
*I suspect that not everybody in the Orient would necessarily approve of the Patriarch blessing the Pope ... some of those Athonite monks have strong views ... I wonder if Pope Francis thought of that side of things ...

Mermaids and Benedict XIV

I paid a fleeting visit, the other day, to our late Holy Father Pope Benedict XIV in Ashmole, and we had our usual discussion about the State of the Church. He liked most of the recent comments of his Current Successor about the European Union, except for that ungallant, rather less than gentlemanly, rhetorical trope of criticising Europe ... by comparing her to an infertile grandmother!! "Ineptum infacetum insipiens invenustum" were the kindest of his comments about that. Prospero Lambertini is nothing if not a true gentleman. But then he gave me a useful tip. "Vade ad dexteram spectatum iocalia nuperrime a Michaele Wellby huic Museo benignissime data." To me, a papal nod is as good as a pontifical wink; so I went to look at a selection of some fifty splendid silver and gold pieces in a case in the room to the Pontiff's right. Next year, the entire splendid collection will have a splendid gallery of its own. Michael Wellby has joined that coruscating band of collectors and benefactors who have enriched this fantastic museum (England's oldest), going right back to the gift of the Arundel Marbles.

My eye was caught by a German tankard, circa 1655, Augsburg, ivory with silver-gilt fittings. It is spectacular (oh dear ... there I go again ... I'm sorry to be encumbering the ground with so many superlatives ... but go and get an eyeful yourself, and, believe me, you'll utter nothing but hyperbole for a fortnight). The carver has represented a marine scene, as such scenes used to be in happier days when fabulous creatures were a little less shy about displaying themselves. Merhorses, monsters, Tritons (you remember that even that old bore and spoilsport Wordsworth retained a furtive, ashamed affection for this sort of thing) and ... mermaids. One mermaid, with well-carved gluteal features, has two scaly tails wriggling beneath her in the sea.

It got me thinking. Most of the mermaids, nice girls, whom I have known personally in the past ... in Zennor Church on a bench end ... in Exeter Cathedral on a boss ... on misericords here and there ... have had but one single tail (and they seem always to be holding some sort of object in front of them just like modern girls endlessly taking Selfies). I rather wondered whether this meant that there are different species within the genus ichthyoparthenos, ... Anglica (gothic) and Germanica (baroque), perhaps? Catholic and Lutheran mermaids? Or had mermaids, under the tuition of Mr Darwin and perhaps assisted by Dr Dawkins, significantly evolved between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries? Would this possibility represent a significant blow to Creationism?

I returned to the Holy Father, and put all those questions to him. "Habes doctos in tuo blogo lectores et praesertim avias doctissimas quarum nonnullae totam hanc rem in lucem palam adducent", was his rather buck-passing reply. So here I am passing the same buck on to you ... with an invitation to supply answers to the questions in the last paragraph; open, despite Pope Francis' rhetoric, to both 'fertile' and 'infertile' readers of any age. Answers in either English or Latin. (And what, incidentally, would be the Latin for a 'Selfie'?)

27 November 2014

When did the "Vatican II" liturgical 'reforms' really begin?

Please allow me to commend a small but very important liturgical book. (I do not benefit from its sales!)

But firstly, three preliminaries.

(1) Some people think that the current Novus Ordo liturgical books are prescribed by Vatican II.

(2) Better informed people know that this is in many respects untrue. Many of the changes 'after the Council' were not in any way ordered by the Council. Some, indeed, went against what was ordered in the Conciliar Decree Sancrosanctum Concilium.

(3) But here is something which only the really mega-informed people know. The process of liturgical 'reform' began before the Council; indeed, before the Pontificate of B Paul VI. The Begetter of the 'reform' was in fact Pius XII. It was he who began the long employment of Annibale Bugnini; it was Pius XII who imposed some of the most deeply radical discontinuities in the Roman Rite.

The book I wish to commend today is an ORDO ... a small calendar giving the basic liturgical directions for each day in 2015 ... published by

The Saint Lawrence Press Ltd.
59, Sandscroft Avenue
WR 12 7EJ
United Kingdom


This little book will show you day by day a wonderland in which festivals have octaves and vigils; even humble festivals have a First Vespers in accordance with  a Tradition which goes back even behind the New Covenant to the Judaic system; commemorations enable you to remember festivals which are partly obscured by other observances; the Last Gospel is sometimes changed to enable a different Gospel to be read; Newman's favourite Canticle Quicumque vult (the 'Athanasian Creed') is said; et cetera and kai ta loipa*.

What you will get a glimpse of is the Roman Rite as it was in 1939, before the Pius XII changes got under way. Not many, of course, will feel able to observe this calendar in their Mass and Office. But you will understand the 'reformed' rites of 1962 and 1970 so very much better by seeing what they replaced. Rather like understanding a diverse landscape all the better by having the geological knowledge of what's underground so as to understand why the visible contours and strata are the way they are. You will see, give or take some details, the skeleton and structure of the daily prayer of B John Henry Newman, Bishop Challoner, the English Martyrs, all the Saints (and sinners and common ordinary Christians) of the Western Church in the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, centuries. You will get some surprises!

Go for it!!
*One thing I, personally, particularly love is a trio of now-lost feasts in early summer, at the start of May. The Invention (discovery) of the Holy Cross (an immensely beautiful feast celebrating the Cross suffused, as it were, with the glorious light of the Resurrection); S John at the Latin Gate (kept in the Ordinariate Calendar because it is the happy day of the first secret meeting when the really serious plotting for the Ordinariate began); and the Apparition of S Michael (I will not insult you by explaining why the Anglican Diocese of Truro [Cornwall] still keeps this most attractive feast). Then, at the start of August, is Lammas Day ... or Lughnasa if you insist ...

26 November 2014

Google it, Hunwicke it.

A reader offered recently a comment which suggested that he did not know the general outlines of the Ordinariate Mass (which has not been formally published, perhaps because there are thoughts of tidying up a few rubrical details).

I remind readers of the Search Mechanism attached to this blog. Many things can be discovered from this ... within the general limits of what I'm interested in ...

I was dealing with the Ordinariate rite fairly recently: one example ... 29 September.

25 November 2014

" ... but what we REALLY mean ..."

On Sunday morning last, I happened to hear the start of the Sunday Worship on the Home Service. It was from the Chapel Royal at S James's Palace. The officiant introduced the service by saying that it was according to to the Book of Common Prayer which, he said, they always use there; and today, he said, was the Feast of Christ the King. (Readers without Anglican Previous need to know that the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England does not include that festival, either in October or in November.)

"What on earth", I thought, "does he mean?" Then my mind went back ... to curious things I recalled from my Anglican days. Celebrating Dr Cranmer's Eucharistic Order and inviting the good people to make their humble confession to Almighty God, "meekly Kneeling upon your Knees" in the sure and certain knowledge that they would totally ignore the peremptorily tautological assonance. Once, when we had a Bishop pontificating at Lancing, and it was deemed convenient to place the Blessed Sacrament Reserved upon the High Altar before Mass (the Tabernacle was down in the crypt at that time, a good five minutes' walk away), he gave the instruction "We shall not genuflect, because morally It is not there". A Miraculous Adverb! A Supra-Divine Adverb, in fact, because even God does not claim to be able to make "X" mean "Non-X". On another occasion, before the Carol Service (which needed to happen before Christmas so that the students and their parents could attend), a new chaplain announced that we would vest the altar in white and wear white copes (previously, we had used purple and called the event an Advent Carol Service) because "Spiritually, it's already Christmas". Of course what he really meant was ... ... YES!! That's exactly it!!! As an Anglican, you spend a lot of your time explaining "what he really meant". Fr Lombardi, I am sure, is a crypto-Anglican. Perhaps all Jesuits are.

Looking back, I rather think one can characterise Anglicanism as a religion of Miraculous Adverbs and of "Let's pretend"; of "We say X but, of course, we really mean Y"; of "I have eaten my cake, yet Lo, I still have it". That would explain why Anglican wedding rites are so very explicit about Marriage being "until death us do part", while divorced bishops have their 'marriages' to divorced ladies publicly blessed by bishops. And why Anglicans asserted so vigorously that their ecclesial body was Catholic and their priesthood identical with that of the Latin and Byzantine Churches, while simultaneously making 'ecumenical' plans (Porvoo; Anglican-Methodist Covenant) to treat Protestant ministers identically with their own priests.

To think that I spent seven decades in the Church of England without ever really having the faintest idea of what it was all about ...

24 November 2014


Perhaps someone could explain what the subtext is in the appointments to the CDW. Two erudite Secretaries were sent packing, and a new Secretary, said to be Bugninistior vel etiam Marinior, was appointed, before the appointment of Cardinal Sarah as Prefect. In the World, you might have thought that the new Departmental Manager would have been appointed first, and then his views taken into account in the appointment of his subordinates.

I know that the position of Cardinal Prefect is technically a promotion, but I wonder if, just conceivably, the Holy Father does not necessarily see it as much of a promotion in this case. This Pope is not someone fascinated by 'Liturgy as a subject'. Readers with Anglican Previous will remember the (true) story about 'Gloomy' Dean Inge, of S Paul's, who, being asked at a dinner party whether he was interested in Liturgy, replied "No, neither do I collect postage stamps". Has Cardinal Sarah, in effect, been put in a position where he can do neither harm nor good, and where his Secretary, who has been there just long enough to get his feet under the table, sets the tone?

Totally Spectacular

I can think of few Calendars ... yes, this is the season, is it not, when people give each other calendars ... which are more spectacular than that of the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists. Breath-taking photographs of intimate yet exquisite liturgy alternate with pictures of the breath-taking scenery as the Brethren go about their tasks on the island. In terms of vestments, I love the shots of the working habits: the habits worn during hard labour, with the leather hems worn and torn. July shows Fr Michael Mary and two brethren walking past a farm gate which I think may have been the one which they kindly and carefully opened for me ... and then cheerfully commented "Bishop Fellay just vaulted over that"!

Do you want to know the important centenaries which occur in 2015? Would you like an attractive iconic painting of the Divine Child, kilted and wearing the Crown of Scotland (a marvellously beautiful late medieval crown, quite unlike the rather boring English Crown which had to be remade after the Great Rebellion) accompanied by a poem by S Robert Southwell which can be sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne? This Calendar is truly and totally unique. Literally unique! And it has all the details needed for it to serve as a daily ORDO for the 1962 rite.

Golgotha Monastery Island
Papa Stronsay
KW 17 2AR
email: contact@the-sons.org

21 November 2014

Bishop Fellay

Bishop Fellay's latest letter, dated today, has interesting features.

I think that the impact of members of the SSPX upon the wider Traditionalist constituency in the Church has sometimes, in the past, been considerably diminished by a tendency to speak in tones which, whether rightly or wrongly, many ears perceive as sounding schismatic. This is particularly true when an impression is given that it is very important indeed to keep expressing a totally negative view of Vatican II. And when appeals are made to a Platonic idea of 'Catholic Rome' which seem designed to exclude all possibility of engagement with the actual Rome.

Today's letter takes two of Joseph Ratzinger's most remarkable passages and makes them the basis of an interesting analysis of the position of the Church in the modern world.

If, in the past, you have avoided reading anything that emerged from the Society, you might well feel that this letter merits breaking your rule! It seems to me an interesting contribution to a very topical debate. I can see only one half of a sentence which some might feel it would have been tactful not to include.

And, incidentally, instead of ranting indiscriminately against the Novus Ordo (as the SSPX sometimes has given the impression of doing), it acutely puts its finger on the centrally questionable feature of that rite: the provision of alternative Eucharistic Prayers. Exactly. I wonder if Bishop Fellay has seen the Ordinariate Ordo Missae?

20 November 2014


I think that's the phrase Father Zed Archiblogopoios uses for the sort of items I'm going to mention ....

Firstly: as well as some more superb pictures of the waterfront at Margate, Fr Tim has given us another picture of his immensely photogenic Lady Chapel. He really has fallen on his feet, lucky man!! (And he's a bit of a tease: the photograph is so angled that one cannot be sure whether there are three altar cards or only one ...)

And, a close second, there is the Gloria TV* (last summer, I met some of the splendid young people involved in Gloria) video of il Cardinale volante, il vice Papa (see my post of November 8) celebrating Pontifical High Mass in Vienna. Fantastic! Twenty minutes before you even get to the Iudica me Deus!!! I'm almost sure I spotted, in the congregation, the Professor Thomas Stark whom I also met in Italy last summer, and Fr Markus Doppelbauer, priest of the Diocese of Vaduz, a considerable ironist.

God appears to be in his heaven, and all to be right with the world! Trebles all round, as they say in Private Eye!

* And it's on Rorate.

16 November 2014

An Encyclical (2)

Among points which we might expect an Encyclical to expound, there are a number which relate to the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
(1) It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name;
(2) It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication, that such persons as have not the the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
(3) It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
(4) It was ordained to join together a man and a woman.
(5) It was ordained to last as long as they both shall live.

These causes are incapable of being varied by Popes, Ecumenical Councils, Synods, Cardinals, Germans, Bishops, priests, Judges, Presidents, or Legislatures, because they are inscribed within the very nature of Man. This needs to be made explicit.

The teachings de Usu Matrimonii of Pius XI and B Paul VI should be repeated, together with appropriate sections from Veritatis Splendor para 80 (which usefully includes Gaudium et Spes para 27).

In order to clarify the finality of the judgements given, it would be edifying if the Encyclical cited the Decree of Vatican I Pastor aeternus (particularly the words Faith and Morals); and included sentences with the verb definimus; and summarised its teaching in pithy little sentences beginning Si quis dixerit or Si quis negaverit, and concluding Anathema sit.

To comfort those to whom there seemed here to be new burdens, it could conclude by defining that the Mother of God is Mediatrix of All Graces (perhaps, in order to mark the ecumenical significance of the proceedings, this last could be done in Greek using the words of the great Hesychast Doctor S Gregory Palamas).

There. I've done all the work myself, really, haven't I? The whole thing could be solemnly promulgated next Easter Sunday, with the entire world-wide episcopate present to affirm (Placetne vobis, Fratres Venerabiles? PLACET! PLACET!! PLACET!!!), sphragizein, and subscribe it. Our beloved Holy Father would go down in the annals of Papal History as one of a very small handful of the most doctrinally significant Roman Pontiffs.

15 November 2014

An Encyclical? (1)

I have several times recently expressed my view that an essential role of the Roman Pontiff is to guard the truth handed down from the Apostles and to act as a breakwater against innovatory error. Benedict XVI expressed this brilliantly and so did B John Henry Newman. It is the teaching of Vatican I Pastor aeternus.

At a time when some doctrinal errors about matters of Family Morality seem to be spiking the decibels, I presume that our Holy Father must be planning, as a matter of urgency, a major Encyclical in order to correct them. He has certainly not been mute in reaffirming the timeless teaching of the Church, but this is not the sort of thing the Media easily hear and relay ... not least because it does not slot into the rather constraining narrative which they have constructed with regard to this Pope. What is necessary is Magisterium laid on with a sufficiently generous trowel so as actually to get heard. What gardeners and builders among us might think of as an encyclical trowel.

I know Encyclicals take a lot of time because they have to go through the relevant dicasteries. And then get translated into Latin, which not many people in Rome understand nowadays. But I do hope it can be done as soon as possible, and preferably before the next Synod. At the moment, it almost looks as if there is some sort of vacatio legis with regard to important parts of the moral Law. This has all happened before. In April 1967, The Tablet, Le Monde, and The National Catholic Reporter published simultaneously the full texts of documents which were very plausibly taken to indicate the strong likelihood that 'the Pill' would be declared morally unobjectionable, thus bringing Rome more or less into line with the 1930 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. In the year before Humanae vitae emerged, this expectation had hardened into rigid assumption. We don't want something like that to happen again, do we? It would be thoroughly scandalous and a most grave abuse of Christ's faithful people.

The persona so skilfully constructed around the present Pope has the potential to be very useful. People are more prepared to listen to him than they have been to any pope for a long time. But that persona can hardly be an end in itself. It can only be coin to be spent rather than hoarded. Francis himself talked about a "two or three year" papacy. Surely the time has just about come, in this next twelve months, to utilise, to call in, the credit accrued by the Bergoglio persona. When Pope Francis finally dishes it out straight and heavy, the journalists ... and the gullible multitudes who swallow what they're told ... won't be able just to say "Well, he would say that, would'n 'e?" This is not a pontiff of whom it will be so easy for crooked journalists to explain that he graduated from the Hitler Youth via the Panzers to the Inquisition. They will doubtless dream up a substitute narrative lie, probably about how a 'good and loving' Pope Francis has been 'bullied' by 'hardliners' in the Vatican (a sort of new "Prisoner of the Vatican" story); but at least the Gospel message will have forced its way out into the open.

When Cardinal Kasper was going around claiming that Pope Francis shared his own rather eccentric views, Cardinal Burke informed the world that "The Pope doesn't have laryngitis; the Pope is not mute". Good!
Plura d.v. sequentur.

10 November 2014

Papa Lambertini on the Synod (1)

After a visit to my doctor in Beaumont Street ... routine check-up ... and not feeling much like going straight home to where a mountain of proof-reading awaited me, I decided infaustum postponere diem and to visit a couple of friends. Into Ashmole, and to the left: to commune with Menander. His face is exactly at the level of my own, so the communing is quite easy. Then upstairs, and again to the left: to encounter one of the four greatest popes ever: no, not S Leo; not S Pius V; not Benedict XVI, but ... YES! ... you're right: Benedict XIV Lambertini. Rather sensual lips; penetrating blue eyes; a great sense of a dominating intellect. A contemporary bust, almost twitching with the humour for which he was so well liked.
I began: "Sanctissime Pater ... quid tu de Synodo?"
"Numquam ego sic egissem!"
"Of course not, Holy Father ... for yours was a different age!"
"Aetatem dicis! No; that's not the point. There's something you young people have forgotten. Although your Patron S John Henry Newman would have understood ... quid anhelas? .. Ah! Mea culpa! Patefeci fore ut canonizaretur ..." 
This excited me. "Domine! When will he be canonized? Please, please, tell me".
"By no means. You would reveal it all on that blog of yours".
His twinkle intensified. I felt that, just for the fun of it, he would tell me, so I persisted. Having extracted from me a perfervid vow of secrecy, he quietly murmured the date into my ear. I shall not, of course, mention it to a living soul. Nor shall I let on that he is to be declared a Doctor of the Church. There are some things one just does not do.
"But what, Holy Father, have I forgotten? And what has Bsaint John Henry got to do with it?"
The sort of impatient look passed over his face that my Mods tutor sometimes displayed when I had forgotten the obvious.
"You seem to have forgotten S John Henry's teaching about Sin. Remember his Certain Difficulties, Lecture 8. ' The Church ... holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from the heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes ...' do you perhaps, miselle, remember ..."
I hastened to complete Newman's ample clauses: "' than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse' ... but ... quid ibi de Synodo?"
He watched as I stood puzzling; it was indeed far from obvious to me, however much I thought, what this did have to do with the Synod of Bishops. After a few moments, he took pity on me.
"SCANDALUM! Nil unquam, puto, tu tuique de Scandalo didicistis!"
Scandal! "No; I don't think we had a course on that at Allen Hall. But ... ah! we did do it at Staggers! Scandal ... it means providing someone else with an incitement to sin ... yes?"
"Bene! S Stephen's House was indeed ... quondam ... one of the better seminaries. And I recall, carissime, that you do have on your own shelves a treatise on Moral Theology, by a contemporary of my own, a great writer, a great Saint whose Redemptorist Order I myself sanctioned, by whose prayers your splendid friends on Papa Stronsay eventually secured their canonical regularisation ... go and look at S Alphonsi Theologiae Moralis librum secundum in capite 43 et sequentibus capitibus ... and we will talk further about Scandal when you have done so."

So, deftly dodging the Cereals Merchants, I hurried down the Cornmarket ... where one of the buskers was playing the melody from Dad's Army ... and hopped onto a number 35 just by Wren's preposterous ogees above the entrance to Cardinal College.

Plura d.v. sequentur.

9 November 2014

More Cardinal Burke

After singing the Remembrance Sunday Requiem last Saturday night at the Ordinariate, the next day, somehow, seemed to me like a day for celebrations! I said Mass for Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, and for his intentions. What is the correct form for drinking his toast? "Il Cardinale Patrono"?

And congratulations to the Knights. I suppose we might now, when speaking of admirably orthodox Fr A, murmur things like "Very, very, Malta". Or, about a distinctly questionable clergyman "You'd never catch him anywhere near Rhodes". Or, about Fr C, who is basically sound but keeps his head below the parapet, " Gozo, my dear chap, definitely Gozo".

Ad multos annos, Eminentissime!

8 November 2014

Cardinal Burke

Cardinal Burke's promotion is officially gazetted! Viva!! Viva!! Viva!! Let us hope that we see much more of him; hear him much more! Let there be an end to reticence!

A month ago I published this; which I repeat with its original thread.

Being Patron of the Knights will not be a full-time job. So it will leave Cardinal Burke free to follow a world-wide role in the 'Traditionalist' movement. He will be able to go anywhere in the world by virtue of privileges he enjoys as a Cardinal; local Ordinaries will not be able to sneer at or exclude a pater purpuratus. He will be available, to an even greater extent than at present, to lend grandeur to liturgical events, and erudition to conferences. As he did after the publication of Evangelii gaudium, he will be able to give the Universal Church nuanced judgements upon the magisterial status of papal utterances ... a much needed ministry in this Pontificate, and one for which Raymond Burke is well qualified. With his curial knowledge, he will be on hand to offer guidance and protection to groups, communities, and orders which were experiencing difficulties. Given his expertise in Canon Law, and being no longer silenced by judicial office, he will be there to give legal assistance to groups and individuals being unlawfully persecuted. Might he even become Cardinal Protector of the Ordinariates? Having the court status of a Prince of the Blood Royal, he can never be excluded from being admitted to the presence of the Sovereign Pontiff, either this one or the next one or two or three. To borrow two phrases popularly used of the globe-trotting Cardinal Pacelli in the 1930s, Cardinal Burke will be, for traditional, Wojtilan, Ratzingerian, hermeneutic-of-continuity Catholics, the vice-papa, the Cardinale volante.

It must be that the Holy Father has in mind for the Cardinal just such a role, for which he is so eminently well suited. We should welcome with much enthusiasm this guarantee that the World of Tradition is an important, growing, permanent and influential part of the ecclesial life of the entire Latin Church.

Viva il Papa! Viva il Cardinale!

Mgr Anthony Ward

I think it is a shame that Anthony Ward has been sacked from the CDW; and it is particularly bad news for those whose liturgical bias is to make the best they can of the Novus Ordo, and who hope to see it evolving on sound lines. He has done a vast amount of scholarly work on the texts of the B Paul VI Missal, and knows which bits are ancient and from the traditio, which bits are novelties, and which bits have been tinkered with, and why. Such men are a lot rarer than they used to be.

Depending on how long this pontificate lasts, I cannot help wondering if Reform of the Reformers might increasingly find themselves in the position of having to acknowledge that the Vetus Ordo is not only the Gold Standard, but is also the only practical way ahead.

The LMS does provide training courses ... one is never too old ...

7 November 2014

Too late!

Damn! I have been reading around the question of the sin of Scandal, and composed a post, which I have on the stocks for polishing. And now that pesky Raymond Burke has snook in ahead of me with the same subject. Why doesn't someone shut him up? It's not the first time he's done this sort of thing to me.

But I will publish my draft anyway, when I'm happy with it.

Another thing in that Burke interview: His Eminence repeatedly and emphatically makes clear what a pope cannot do. Now there I do think that I may have been ahead of him. But, of course, Joseph Ratzinger was ahead of me. And Vatican I was ahead of him.

ARCIC: two brilliant ideas

I often have brilliant ideas, but, like London buses, two have now come along together.

(1) It is, I think, agreed that the ARCIC Ecumenical process between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, initiated in the 1960s with the intention that it should lead to visible organic unity, has totally, utterly, completely, failed. Cardinal Kasper, not the most extreme  and unbending hard-liner in the Vatican, went to see the English Anglican bishops and explained very frankly that, if they went down the path of consecrating Women Bishops, that style of ecumenical relationship would come to an end, because Anglicans would have revealed themselves as intent upon following a Protestant rather than a Catholic model.

WHAT I SAY IS: close down ARCIC and transfer all the Catholic money that will thereby be saved to the Ordinariates, charging US with the task of maintaining good relations with our Anglican friends. We understand them! We know what makes them tick!

Yeah!! You know it makes sense!!

Why waste time and money on more ARCIC? Why deprive Catholic bishops and theologians of the opportunity to spend more time in their dioceses and colleges, which they so long to do? Like Pope Francis, what most Catholics want is fewer 'airport bishops'; fewer 'airport theologians'. We want bishops, religious, and clergy given the opportunity to smell more of their own flocks/communities/students!! We want fewer piles of paper which nobody ever reads from a process that is going nowhere! Save the Rain Forests!

When the Ordinariates take over the Anglican/Catholic relationship, you will see a real sea-change! More incense, less hot air!! Leave the job to us! Give us the tools and we'll finish the job!!!

(2) Alternatively: Anglican /Catholic dialogue has now changed radically; Ecumenism will go on, but, at least in the short and medium terms, it will be about, not the matters that in the 1960s seemed to need to be resolved in order to secure full visible communion, but about the sort of things, relating to the Christian life in a post-Christian society, which could usefully include all Christian bodies in this land. Moreover, the Anglican Communion itself has so radically changed and become more diverse that it now appears to be impossible even to get the world-wide Anglican Episcopate to meet together at Lambeth!! A model of dialogue which implied a certain intra-Anglican homogeneity is no longer sensible.

We should face both these facts.

So: abolish ARCIC and upgrade Churches Together In Britain. Much cheaper and (joking aside ... I concede that my Idea (1) was a trifle droll) more realistic and more of a service to the People of God.

But the Ordinariate should still be given the money saved!

6 November 2014

Excommunications all round! Bells, Books, and Candles galore!!!

In the Daily Telegraph of November 4 this year appeared a very jolly story about an Austrian woman who had incurred excommunication for purporting to have been ordained to the Priesthood (God bless her, she has retaliated by now claiming the Episcopate!!). The journalist began his story thus: "Excommunication is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sinners and is a sanction rarely invoked today".

Well, the dear old Torygraph has failed to keep herself up-to-date on that subject. Excommunication is, for some bishops, the Fashionable Fad in today's caring, compassionate Catholic Church of Pope Francis! Excommunication, even, just for going to Church!!! But enough of my vulgar slapstick. Let me get serious and simply remind you that only a few days ago an Italian bishop seemed to suggest, uncanonically, that lay people, even minors, attending SSPX chapels were excommunicated latae sententiae. Now an Argentine bishop, perhaps with a tadge more respect for the CIC, has threatened such "very worst of sinners" with penalties ferendae sententiae. 

As a recent 'convert' without much experience of the Catholic Church and with very little theological training or understanding, I have to say that her current practical* ecumenical policy seems to me to be ... er ... magnificently inexplicable. Unity, we all agree, is a Good Thing, but SSPXers (even children!!) are to be threatened with bell, book, and candle. Popes and Bishops are elaborately kind to schismatics who are doctrinally distant from the Church, but they are distantly pedantic (at best) towards the SSPX, which accepts every single dogmatic definition and anathema ever published by a lawful Ecumenical Council or by a Roman Pontiff. The SSPX is required to make the most precise submission to Conciliar and Papal Magisteria, while 'our ecumenical partners in dialogue' are invited to sit down at a table and work out together verbal doctrinal fudges which are then declared to be acceptable by Roman dicasteries (e.g. ARCIC). Have Roman ecumenists ever explained frankly to Orthodox and Anglicans that they also will, ultimately, have to accept every syllable of 'the Conciliar and post-Conciliar Magisterium' before Unity is consummated? If not, why not? I do not mean those as rhetorical questions.

IF Catholic ecumenists cannot even manage a settlement with a group as close to them as is the SSPX, THEN it will be obvious that 'Ecumenism' with communities separated from Rome for centuries by serious formal dogmatic disagreements as well as by deep-rooted cultural rancour, is nothing more than the pursuit of a pie-in-the-sky; a fine-sounding but meaningless Game. Remember the

                             PARABLE OF THE FINANCIER AND THE TWO BEGGARS.
The Ecumenical Policy* of the Catholic Church is like unto a Financier, who went down the street one morning with his pen, his cheque book, and a 50 pence coin. At the first corner, he met a Beggar who humbly knelt and called out to him "For the love God, guv'ner, give us 50p for a cup of tea". But the Financier passed by on the other side, offering him only some wise advice about how much more profound his self-abasement would need to become. At the next corner he met a Second Beggar, who did not kneel, but greeted the Financier with the easy familiarity of an equal. This man the Financier warmly embraced and kissed, and then gave him a post-dated dud cheque for £2,500,000; which the Beggar received with exclamations of great delight. And the Financier praised the Second Beggar, because he understood the Game.

*This article does not question any Magisterial pronouncement, and its author ex animo accepts the teaching of Unitatis Redintegratio, Ut unum sint, Communionis notio, and Dominus Iesus.

3 November 2014

Is it War?!!?

Can it be true that Cardinal Burke has been prevented from offering the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, in the Extraordinary Form, in an Austrian church? Since, as I observed two or three weeks ago, Cardinal Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons of the Holy Roman Church, the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, have the right to celebrate anywhere, constructively to prevent one from doing so manifests, surely, a schismatic spirit of hostility towards the Sovereign Pontiff himself. If this report proves to be true, a very singular situation will have arisen.

Some while ago I think I saw something in The Tablet (I sometimes have a quick look inside it without buying it when I'm in a Catholic bookshop) about the Battle Lines being drawn up; and Fr Zed, I think, has mentioned getting ready for warfare. Things, surely, have been building up to this for decades, if not since the Enlightenment. The Battle within Society ... whether to take our guidance from Christ and His Church or from the Spirit of this Age ... from the Paradosis* or from the Zeitgeist** ... has now entered the Church as well. As B Paul VI's prophetic eye discerned, though some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God. The Enemy has breached the walls ... has established a bridgehead. Readers may be able to supply a fourth or even a fifth metaphor! The Enemy which Christians have always been obliged to oppose in the World, we have now also to engage within the Church herself. And it can't be all left to hierarchs to sort things out. Remember the Great Episcopal Apostasy of the Arian period. And, earlier, the traditor bishops of the Diocletian persecution.

What is to be done?

I think Fr Zed has shown his usual wise and sensible leadershp by calling us to renewed Sacramental life, particularly to frequent Confession. Being a bit of a Paul-junkie, I would add: read the Bible more, especially the New Testament, and remember that S Paul was dealing with a world very much like our own, with "the Spirit of this Age"; with similar vices; and a world in which Christianity was a minority religion. He knew that he was contending, as we are, "against the principalities, against the powers, against the World Rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places".

And, through the Rosary, Mary's Immaculate Heart will conquer.

From the Anglican Patrimony of the Ordinariate, we can bring you our own experience of how a cancer can spread in an ecclesial body once the Zeitgeist gets a foothold in it. As well as that experience, we bring with us our great Doctors, most especially B John Henry Newman, and Clive Stapleton Lewis, both of whom fought so resolutely against Liberalism, with every weapon of erudition and of wit. There is a remarkable narrative in Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress of the exposure of the Zeitgeist ... and its slaying. If Screwtape is lying dusty on your bookshelves, reread it. Hideous Strength is jam-packed full of acute observations about the tactics of the Enemy. I venture to suggest to hard-line traditionalists that Lewis's canonical position of not having been in Full Communion with the See of S Peter is not the most important thing about him, and that his writings should be recognised as having enormous relevance to the problems of our day.

Indeed, perhaps it is generally important to go for broad alliances. I know there are Traditionalists who like the Vetus Ordo and Conservatives who can't see the point of it: but what we have in common may at this juncture be more important than what divides us. I believe that the good contained in some encyclicals of S John Paul II, especially Veritatis splendor, is the important thing to emphasise. Since B Paul VI is now beatified, I urge insistence upon Humanae vitae and Mysterium Fidei. Anomalies in the canonical situation of the SSPX may come to be seen as less significant than the witness which it bears. Perhaps those attached to the SSPX might show more openness to the sincerity of those who did not follow His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre into a breach with what they call the "Conciliar Church". Do not forget some Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans who are not exactly fighting against us. Somebody has described Cardinal Pell's relationship with the Evangelical Archbishop of Sidney as an 'Ecumenism of the Right' ... not that I very much like the idea of being characterised as a Rightie.

A correspondent remarked to me that the Church is guaranteed; the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against her. That is most wonderfully true. But I would remind you of two things.
(1) It may be that, in the great workings of Providence, a crucial part is designed, destined, for you, for me, which is not meant for anybody else, to do in this period of conflict. Our assurance of the Church's indefectibility is no justification of inactivity.
(2) The Gates of Hell, indeed, cannot prevail against the Church, that great body spread out through all time and space, terrible as an army with banners, ut castrorum acies ordinata. But I do not recall that the English churches (or whatever your nationality is) have a specific guarantee of their survival. Time was when the whole of North Africa was fertile with great churches. We English recall an earlier age when Catholicism was all-but extinguished in our own land. "It took a long time to do this thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of, and shovelled away ..."
* Tradition  **The Spirit of the Age.

2 November 2014

Rewriting the Past

David Hope, emeritus Archbishop of York and Primate of England, with whom I overlapped at Staggers, beside whom I washed up many a soapy dish in the seminary kitchens, has felt obliged to resign episcopal ministry because of a dead paedophile Dean of Manchester.

David is a fine man and a fine bishop.

Like many other good men, in the past he behaved in the way in which one was then expected to behave. Now these good men are judged by different, and self-righteous, standards which contrive to be splendidly wise after the event.

I deeply resent this entire modern appetite for restructuring the past. For example: scratching out of the record the conviction of Alan Turing for indecency.

And the issuing of ridiculous 'apologies' with regard to 'injustices' done in the distant past.

The Past cannot be altered. It happened; and it happened the way it did because it was different from the Present. But of course, as George Orwell pointed out in his 1984, it is a tremendous temptation to tyrants to think that they can refashion the Past. How can they be less than omnipotent? And how dare the Past be different?

An age which murders the unborn on an industrial scale which Hitler would have admired has quite enough of its own enormities to apologise for.

Instead, conscious only of our own infallibility, with fullest confidence in the bizarre codes of morality which we have so recently invented for ourselves, we swagger around in the Past wagging our forefinger, putting everybody right on everything.

What a necessary dogma the Day of Judgement is.