29 June 2014

Please

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?

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'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

Reminder

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.

The Parting of Friends

It seems an eternity ago; another age; but in reality it's little more than three years. Back in those Church of England days I had the considerable privilege of sitting round a table in a basement in Gordon Square with half a dozen others in a Working Party, putting together a statement about our theological position (Consecrated Women). There was a great sense within that group of a mission: to fill up and then to guide a lifeboat to the rescue ship. Most of us are now in the Ordinariate; but others, including some of those who seemed most enthusiastic and vocal about the 'Roman Option', are still with the remnants in the Church of England, gratefully scavenging whatever scraps Christina Reese lets drop from her table. They include one who was, as well as being a member of our Working Party, also the secret Theological Adviser to an initiative unrelated to the Working Party: a secret group of Anglican bishops (seven diocesans and at least a couple of others) who made secret dead-of-night visits with secret overtures to Rome but who drew their secret and trembling toes back up out of the water when Benedict XVI made public his offer of an Ordinariate. (I wonder if those bishops - especially the five of them who are now associated with the Society of SS Wilfred and Hilda -  feel at all ashamed about how they treated that dear good old man as they sit - only one of them is still in post - in their retirement homes, nothing to do now except to polish carefully each day their Reasons For Not Going and to feed the cat and to go to Waitrose with their wives).

I often think about the still-Anglican members of that Working Party, and my other friends in the priesthood and episcopate of the provinces of Canterbury and York, with great affection, mingled with sadness at the thought of how much fun, how much sense of real purpose, they are missing out on; how much real talent is being wasted on a dead end; how very much some of them could offer to the great project outlined by Aidan Nichols, of repatriating to Catholic Unity all that was good in Anglicanism. So far, we haven't attended to much more than the liturgical side of things; I claim that I am doing my humblest best but there's work here for dozens (especially, but by no means only, those with academic skills). And there are others ... Fr Brooke Lunn; Fr David Holding; many more ... who have spent decades talking about Unity with the See of Peter ... what is one to say ...

I ought to make it clear that I am not 'proselytising'. I do not have in mind younger clergy who have, with a good conscience, discerned a particular ministry to be completed within the Church of England. I am not thinking of those who are not and never have been 'papalists'; those for whom going to Rome is as problematic (or even more so) than staying. I have in mind solely those who, when we were together, by their words and body-language, made clear that Rome, 'the rock from which we were hewn' as one of them repeatedly put it, was the answer to our pressing need; those who cheerfully said to a PEV 'Give us the lead, Bishop, and we'll follow'; those who told us that they would just put in the few more years necessary to secure their pensions and then join us; and, inexplicably, have been nowhere to be seen since the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Of one thing I am sure. When their time comes, it must be made easy for them (and indeed also for those ex-diocesan bishops, if only they can be man enough and humble enough). There must be no unpleasant nonsense about how they missed the opportunity when the 'terms' were easy. Men who have spent 50 years in the Sacred Priesthood, who are priests to their fingertips, must not be told that they are "too old" for the presbyterate of the Ordinariate; that never again can they expect to stand at an altar holding in their hands the Adorable Sacrifice, that vocation which in the Mind of the Eternal was theirs before the ages began. There must be no subtle (or unsubtle!) systems of discouragement. The spirit of Benedict's gracious intentions must be honoured to the full. The doors must be widely and generously and permanently open. These are good and able men, fine priests, who are called by God to give service in His Vineyard. To treat them in any way otherwise would be very wicked.

But I do urge them not to hang around. We're Keeping The Home Fires Burning until you are ready to Come In From The Cold! Risky, however, to leave it! Do you really want to die in the C of E as it is now, let alone as it will be in a couple of decades? What would you lose by making discreet enquiries?

23 June 2014

More excellent advice from the Anglican Patrimony

Nathanael Woodard, Founder of the Woodard Corporation of Anglican Catholic Schools in one of which I taught for twenty eight years, used to say that Education without Religion is pure evil. How right he was.

I was reminded of his words after hearing a thing on the radio about the promotion of 'non-sectarian education' in Northern Ireland. This is, apparently, deemed an admirable thing, because 'sectarian' education is divisive. The card which the sharper has neatly concealed up his sleeve is the fact that 'non-sectarian education' is simply the ruthless imposition upon every child of the relativistic assumption that religious truth is a minor individual choice at the margin of community, rather than something central both to individuals and communities. Of course 'non-sectarian education' suits the secularists because they have their own thoroughly ruthless agenda with its own non-negotiable dogmas.

Suggest to these people that children should not be given Personal and Social Education (i.e. indoctrination on the rightness of sexual immorality and of perversion) because it is Divisive, and watch the steam come out of their ears. I've done it. It's not a pretty sight.

EDUCATION WITHOUT RELIGION IS PURE EVIL.

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.

21 June 2014

John Broadhurst

It is very sad that John Broadhurst, Emeritus Bishop of Fulham, should have been compelled to deal with implicit attacks upon his ministry in the Church of England.

The early 1990s are not so long ago. I cannot be the only one to remember vividly how rudderless the Catholic Movement was in the Church of England. We believed that our episcopal leaders, such as Eric Kemp, must have some rabbit that they would spring from their mitres. It transpired that they did not. It was in those gloomy days that John Broadhurst created structures for mutual collaboration, encouragement and assistance (to be candid and to give proper credit, David Holding at this time brought the SSC back to life). Gradually, we found our sense of direction. We met every autumn in that big evangelical hall in Westminster, and laughed together, planned together, hoped together, prayed together. Locally (I was a diocesan clerical Chairman of FIF) we did the same. We were aware that some mainstream bishops thought that they would embarrass their relationships with their episcopal brethren if they had anything to do with us; but apparently they saw great merit in refraining from physically ordaining women. So they delegated that distasteful little detail to others and then unhesitatingly appointed the ladies to benefices and curacies and treated them in every respect as if they were priests (let me be carefully fair: Eric Kemp did not do this; but his successor did).

So we were 'extreme'!! In the last few years of his life, I had the privilege of the close friendship of Bishop John Richards, one of the first brace of Flying Bishops, who lured me down to Devon to take a House for Duty just a few doors away from the retirement home he and Ruth had built in Lewdown. In those desolate years, his sacrificial labours had gathered a people to the Lord of some hundred parishes. How well I remember the anger ('JR's' anger was very memorable) with which he referred to delicate episcopal individuals who kept their hands untainted by female heads but deftly distanced themselves from FIF. After his retirement, the premature death of his first successor and the serious illness of the third Bishop of Ebbsfleet meant that he twice resumed the pastoral care of the district he had created and, quite literally, he worked himself to death. He would have been speechless with rage to be told, Prayer Book Catholic that he was, that he was 'extreme'.

'JR' was, and 'Broadhurst' is, men of immense stature; they were the last two truly great Anglo-Catholic bishops. Those who cannot see this do but condemn themselves.

19 June 2014

Dr William J Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, wrote ...

If all the prayers of loving hearts from the beginning of the world, and all the seraphic worship of the thrones and principalities of heaven, and the burning devotion and love of the Virgin Mother of God, and the million voices of the universe of all creatures of heaven and earth and sea were offered up in one universal and harmonious act of praise and adoration, they would not equal or even approach in value and efficacy the infinite worth of a SINGLE MASS.

Spot on, yes? A humbling thought for us presbyters, as morning by morning, we stumble up the steps murmuring Aufer a nobis quaesumus Domine iniquitates nostras ...

17 June 2014

LEXICA

I'm not a linguistic fundamentalist; phrases and words do evolve in meaning whether one likes it or not. I just a poor old man who finds it hard keeping up, and finds himself often disliking what he is expected to keep up with.

ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM
I've devoted some posts to this phrase, neatly defined by Locke as Pressing a man with the Consequences of his own Principles or Concessions. I wonder if anyone can trace the origin of the more recent idea that it means "A personal attack". (I plan, tomorrow, to share with you an argumentum ad hominem of the great Eric 'Anglican Patrimony' Mascall.)
PRO FORMA
I take this Latin phrase to mean "For the sake of appearance". But it now seems to be used for a Form ... the sort of piece of paper which one fills in and sends back (or doesn't). When, and why ever was the original simple four-letter f-word replaced by (what, until I am provided with a justification, I will continue to regard as) a spurious and unnecessary piece of pseudo-Latin pomposity?
AD HOC
Vince Cable used this when declining to comment to journalists on Clegggate. What does the phrase mean, and what did Cable think it meant? Are the two the same? I've always taken it to mean "For this particular purpose".
ISSUE
When and why did this word lose all its previous meanings and take on its new life as a replacement for 'problem'?
LOCATE/LOCATION
When and why did these words supersede the verbs 'to place' and 'to find' and their derivatives? 'He located [=placed] the wine-glass on the table'. 'He located [=found] the lost sixpence under the table'. Two perfectly decent monosyllables with totally different meanings seem to have been replaced by a single ambiguous latinism, thus affording opportunities for confusion.

My working suspicion is that the origins of at least the last of these changes may lie in the desire of clerklets to sound Important and Official. One train company (I'm not making this up) has this announcement: "Safety Information is located adjacent to the doors". I would have written "Safety Information is beside the doors". (OK, you're right, it could even just be 'by', but my instinct is that this would be a trifle vaguer than 'beside'.)

This is not simply a matter of words of teutonic origin being preferable to gallicisms, latinisms and grecisms (although it often may be ... I remember as an eight year old being - helpfully - advised to write begin rather than commence). 'Problem', I presume, is Greek, and none the worse for it; and (I haven't checked) I wonder whether 'place' may have started its long life as plateia, the broad boulevard in Hellenistic town planning, upon which the action of Menandrian New Comedy was played out.

No; at bottom, what we have in all this is the process (an old and poor English joke coming up here) whereby village policemen, making official reports, wrote (so it was claimed) "I was proceeding down the High Street ..." instead of  "I was walking ...". It is the embarrassing tendency of the not-very-literate to overcompensate for their self-perceived inadequacies. I wonder if professional philologists have a term for it.

For us clergy, there is in fact a pastoral issue ... oops, problem ... here. When I was a curate in an extremely deprived South London inner city area (definitely not a 'location'), there were very many middle-aged white males who needed to make use of literacy mentoring. I gather this has not changed; I also gather that now there are groups, such as Bangladeshi women, whose English is sometimes not strong. I do not see why difficulties of communication, which such thoroughly worthy and decent people may have, need to be made worse just because some petty pen-pusher sitting in a railway office thinks that the unnecessary use of long pompous words will make him seem one hell of a guy. "located adjacent", indeed. One can just imagine him sitting at his plastic desk with all his shiny biros neatly arranged in his jacket pocket.

15 June 2014

Was Vincenzo Carducci a crypto-Anglican?

Over there on Rorate a day or two ago was a delightful picture by a Baroque painter of the seventeenth century, Vincenzo Carducci, who worked for the Spanish Crown. It shows the Ordination of S John Matha (and his first Mass in which he received a mercedarian vocation).

Carducci clearly did not accept the then current assumption, based upon the teaching of Pope Eugene IV, that the Porrectio Instrumentorum was the Matter of Ordination. He shows the Holy Spirit descending like a flame of fire upon the head of the Saint as the bishop imposes his hands and says the words Receive the Holy Ghost ...whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven ... etc..

I wonder if the artist and his Most Catholic Royal Patron would have been surprised if they could have known that, four centuries later, Ordination by means of that Matter accompanied by that Form would survive among Anglicans who used the Prayer Book Ordinal (Bishop Harry Carpenter, who had Bossuet on the Dutch side of his episcopal pedigree, dealt thus with me on Trinity Sunday in 1968), but that the imposition of hands with that formula would be abolished in the post-Vatican II Roman version of presbyteral Ordination.

Ah, the whimsies of liturgical history!

Patria

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?

12 June 2014

Papa Lambertini's conundrum

Pope Benedict XIV pointed out (1) that we are obliged to venerate an exposed Host (cultum negari non posse hostiae ad venerationem expositae). But (2): although it is de fide that consecrated Hosts have been transubstantiated, (3) it is not de fide that this particular host actually was, as a matter of History, certainly consecrated (licet de fide non sit esse consecratam).

You see what he means in part (3) of that. The validity of its (or Its) consecration depends on our certainty that Fr O'Flanahan did say the proper words over it with an adequate intention (poor old chap undoubtedly getting senile) and that the novice nun who baked it did get the recipe right (last week her scones tasted of Vindaloo) and that the village miller's labourer didn't confuse his wheat-grain with his barley-grain (should have gone to Specsavers) and that our rather cranky Sacristan Maire Murphy didn't surreptitiously substitute an unconsecrated host for the consecrated Host (has brainstorms every alternate full moon) and that the priest who baptised Fr O'Flanahan, the notorious Fr Jack Hegarty, didn't deliberately do it invalidly (by withdrawing his intention to perform any sort of Christian rite) in order to take revenge on bishop Brennan for cutting off his supply of whiskey and girls.

Can I just break off here to clarify that I am not anti-Irish ... if the officiating clergyman had been, not Fr O'Flanahan of the County Tipperary but Fr Featherstonehaugh-Cholmondeleigh, Eton, Kings, and the Beda, one of the Barsetshire Featherstonehaugh-Cholmondeleighs (note for transatlantic readers: pronounced 'Fanshaw-Chumly'), I could have gone on for pages and pages more ...

So ... what is the theological point which Benedict XIV was making?

8 June 2014

Speaking with tongues for the New Evangelisation: Pentecost homily

'They spoke with tongues'. You and I can speak with tongues: can go out of church and speak in an unusual language: if we let the Spirit empower us; if we let the Spirit take over the way we speak. And the language we can go out and talk is a dialect the World does not know; a dialect I would like to call 'Talking Christian'.

Talking Christian is what we do in church. The Scriptures and the Liturgy are written in Christian. Inside church, we all talk Christian, even sing it, without the least hesitation. But we're most dreadfully shy of Talking Christian once we step outside.

What do I mean by Talking Christian? Well, for starters, there's the word 'God'. Inside this building' we can hardly open our mouths without using it. But out there, in the world God made, among men and women he created and loves and redeems, do we ever use the word? If our faith means anything, it means that God pokes his nose into everything, is concerned about everything, has, so to speak, a line on everything. But God is a word the World hates. It doesn't mind us doing our God-talking in church, but, the message is, just let them catch us doing it outside and we'll have all Dr Dawkins' spaniels snapping round our ankles.

Then there's 'Sin' and 'Repentance' and ... well, you know how I could go on. But you might ask what the point is in speaking to the World in Christian, if Christian is a dialect the World doesn't understand. It would be a fair question. After all, the Apostles did indeed talk at that first Pentecost to all the nations in the language which each did understand. There is a serious point here to which this is my serious answer: 1600 years ago Christianity converted the Greek and Roman worlds and did so very largely by converting their languages. It invaded, it walked ruthlessly into, the languages of Greece and Rome, creating Christian dialects of, and ways of speaking, both Latin and Greek. In effect, it was a Christian cultural takeover. For us, I am convinced, the task is to reChristianise the English language so as to reclaim our culture for Christ.

Rome gave a good lead a few years ago when it told its committee responsible for translating liturgical texts to use the full and rich panoply of terms handed down by Tradition: words like Grace and Redemption and Mercy and Almighty and Majesty and Humility; rather than dumbing down the language of prayer. There had been a fashionable assumption that avoiding such language and opening to the World a window of linguistic banality - Daily Mirror English - would get the masses pouring in. But firstly: that was tried and it didn't work; and, secondly, Rome rightly judged that if you throw out both babies and bathwater, the World can hardly be blamed for concluding that you have nothing. So that is why we are now using a new translation of the Mass ... a translation which, unlike the old one, really does 'speak Christian'. Sadly, there are those who still fiercely resist this; immensely sincere people but profoundly misguided ones who have failed to learn the lesson of the last forty years.

The New Evangelisation, in which the repatriated Anglican Patrimony will play a part, means taking the battle culturally to the World instead of hoping that if we just retreat far enough and cringe submissively enough, the World will somehow rediscover Christ. That is why I suggest that Talking Christian may be our duty; and that the Holy Spirit of Pentecost is able to give us the power to speak in that strange dialect, if only we let him. He can touch our tongues as he touched the tongues of the Apostles.

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

Again

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?)