31 January 2015

RORATE does it again.

I think it was the Tablet which cheerfully and with apparent relish informed us last autumn that the Battle Lines were being drawn up. This was not terribly good news for members of the Ordinariates who had thought that they could now just get on with living the Christian life and a spot of the New Evangelisation, rather than manning barricades as they had to in their former residence. We had no desire to have all this argy-bargy thrust upon us ... but perhaps, as someone suggests on one of the threads, it is all part of a Great Realignment, redistributing both those who follow Christ and those who obey the Zeitgeist. The Ordinariates as one of the spearheads of Providence! The future will tell. Anyway, Duty Calls. Let's update the Quartermaster's Inventories.

Two very important pieces on Rorate a day or two ago. Firstly, an admirable Statement by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy making clear that nobody ... not even any "religious leader" or "Synod" ... can change the Church's teaching on those matters which are currently in contention. Please do read it. Is your pastor a member of the Confraternity? If a cleric, are you?

Secondly, a piece of quite extraordinary importance by the great Italian intellectual and historian Professor Roberto de Mattei about a Pope teaching Error, and how to navigate in such a situation. You should never miss reading a piece by de Mattei. You never know when, in some future pontificate, you might need the back-up he provides. [I have a curious premonition that the next Conclave may be quite long and, as some people say, 'fraught'.]

It could profitably be read alongside Cardinal Pell's fine sermon to Juventutem last year, in which he drew some most valuable lessons from the darkest days in the history of the papacy.(Rorate November 1 2014.) I think that, in particular, the need for a 'broad consensus' before the next Synod needs to be emphasised.

I have a piece of news for everybody. The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose (patefacerent) new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth (exponerent) the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles. 

This cannot be said often enough.

Anybody who denies the truth of that proposition has lapsed into heresy.

If you don't want to keep reading it, you will need to find another blog to read.

30 January 2015

blessed Charles Stuart

Read on The Josias an interesting document from the hand of Pope Pius VI.

Et Carolus Stuart propter odium fidei beatus martyrium subiit qui aviae suae vestigiis a corona ad coronam immarcescibilem insecutus est. Nonne ille, putas,  ...

Dixit Dix: "Was ever such a command [Do This] so obeyed? ... Pope Leo doing this in the morning before he went out to daunt Attila, on the day that saw the continuity of Europe saved; and another Leo doing this three and a half centuries later when he crowned Charlemagne Roman Emperor, on the day that saw that continuity fulfilled. Or again, Alfred wandering defeated by the Danes staying his soul on this, while medieval England struggled to be born; and Charles I also, on that morning of hs execution when medieval England came to its final end".

Cuius precibus omnes adiuvemur protegamur salvemur.

Patrimony and the Pallium

Vatican Radio reports that our beloved Holy Father will no longer himself impose the pallium upon Metropolitan Archbishops (They will each be surreptitiously given one to pack in their suitcases and to take home so that the nuncios can do the business in the home dioceses, at the same time, I presume, as the Cappa Magna is bestowed).

This is a return to earlier practice. I do not think there is anything sinister about it.

I presume that the usual oath will be sworn on that occasion. Oaths of obedience to the Roman Pontiff are, incidentally, very much part of the Anglican Patrimony; you will recall how ready that principled man Thomas Cranmer was to swear such an oath. I wonder if his Patrimonial wife used to darn his pallium for him.

But could it be that this new change of practice has something to do with an ecumenical problem? Some Orthodox prelates have ... well, let's be frank, a bit of a paranoia ... about the public conferring of the Pallium on "uniate" metropolitans in Rome on the feast of SS Peter and Paul. You see, that day is the major occasion for an official delegation to visit Rome from the Phanar. During the last pontificate, there was one occasion when rather embarrassed special arrangements had to be made. I would thoroughly approve if this awkwardness has now been eliminated. It will remove just one possibility of "uniate" prelates being embarrassed or snubbed in public.

In the Church of England, the Pallium is not, I suspect, currently much in use. But in the 1530s, legislation was passed under Henry 'Empire' Tudor to the effect that when one of the English Metropolitans died, the survivor was to consecrate and send the pallium to his successor. So it is definitely part of the Anglican Patrimony. I wonder if the Irish Parliament passed similar legislation?

I think it would be very nice indeed, thoroughly jolly, if the senior of the Ordinaries of the three Ordinariates were to be sent a pallium. In fact, he could be called the Archordinary and given the jus to have a Primatial Cross carried before him. That is yet another part of the Patrimony. Patrimony is endless ...

Only for philologists

In the Eponymous Flower blog, where one often finds examples of the creative use of the English Language, I have just spotted a ... to me ... novel, transitive, verb: "to emeritus". It appears to mean "to eliminate someone from Christian ministry". Good, yes? How splendid to see our ancient but flexible tongue responding so aptly to cultural needs.

28 January 2015

Cardinal Rodriguez

I have tried to read carefully a paper by a Cardinal Rodriguez. There are entire paragraphs that I actually don't understand. Perhaps there are problems of translation; Fr Lombardi will know. But three points do strike me: (1) Christology. The Second Person of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity is referred to in phrases like "The God of Jesus" and "God through Jesus". I did not identify language clearly affirming that our Redeemer is God. (2) "Mercy" seems to be construed as being at the heart of theology. But any attempted reconstruction of Christianity which concentrates singlemindedly on one word or slogan ("Justification by Faith Alone", for example, or "Sola Scriptura") has tended, throughout history, to have disastrous effects. (3) The Roman Pontiff's role is to protect the Tradition and to define and exclude heresy. This paper seems exclusively concerned to prepare the way for an agenda of radical but unspecified change centred upon the non-Magisterial utterances of just one pope during a ministry of less than two years. This is accompanied by a bizarrely curious suggestion that the Holy Father's public style and personal  gestures are his Magisterial Encyclicals.

Even during the pontificate of Pius XII and his canary, did papolatry go quite as far as this?

27 January 2015

Tunc erat bibendum ...

Extract from an undergraduate newspaper: "The underage Corpus fresher reportedly shouted 'Vote Labour', ran around the College garden, and recited Latin after becoming intoxicated".


On one of the threads, a reader suggested that seasonal pastoral letters already showed some bishops softening up their flocks for "change", whatever that may mean. I have no evidence for that. In fact, I have just been reading a pastoral letter sent out by Philip Egan, Bishop of Prtsmouth. It is very fine indeed. Like all his Pastoral Letters, it is beautifully footnoted. Truly, he is a bishop who takes seriously his munus docendi not just his laity, but also his clergy. So am by nature rather inclined to dismiss apocalyptic conspiracy-theorist claims about heterodox bishops. However ... here are some words by a very senior Curial Cardinal very much better placed than I am to know what is going on in the Church at large; he says that there are bishops "who have allowed themselves to be somehow blinded by a secularised society in which they have been so influenced that it has drawn them away from the main topic or from the teachings of the Church based on revelation".

I suppose, prima facie, a crude and ignorant journalistic mentality, trained in the usual journalistic arts of gross over-simplification, might expect bishops to fall into roughly three groups:
(1) the orthodox, busily setting down clear markers about what the Church (to adapt S John Paul II's phrase) nullatenus habet facultatem faciendi;
(2) those betting bishops who have put all their money firmly on Bergoglio's nose; and
(3) those hedging their bets, anxious to say nothing which might either offend Current Management or be an embarrassment on their files if Pope Francis is followed by a hypothetical 'orthodox reaction'.

I'm not sure into which category we should put that Belgian bishop ... was his name Bonny? He seems quite 'way out' in his suggestion that the Church ought to provide blessings to parallel the many varieties of sexual relationships in the secular world. The mind boggles. But it all sounds like enormous fun, with masses of interesting work for liturgical wordsmiths ... 'jobs for the boys', as we say in England ... and, of course, for the girls ... and for the biboys ... transboys ... cisboys ...  cisbigirls ... bitransgirls ... et ceteris et ad infinitum ... just imagine trying to provide liturgically for every possible 'relationship' between any two (does it have to be just two?) of these!! Quelle richesse!!

I am totally sure that, under the wise guidance of our beloved Holy Father and of our very savvy English bishops, we are not moving into the world envisaged and consistently urged since 1992 by Walter Kasper, in which (since in his view the Local Church has ontological priority over the Universal Church) doctrinally significant 'differences' should be allowed to coexist, such as 'differences' of marital and sexual discipline, between or even within provinces. That would make the Catholic Church exactly like the dear old Anglican Communion which is now so amusingly splitting up! With the best will in the world, humankind does not really need three Anglican Communions. Two is more than enough!

It must be truly dreadful to be in the dioceses of heterodox Belgian and German bishops. I feel particularly disappointed with regard to the Belgian Church, since it was that admirable Cardinal Mercier of Malines who so vigorously advocated, during the 'Malines' Conversations, the basic idea of the Ordinariates, i.e. of an Anglicanism 'united not absorbed'; of diversity but within the structures of the Magisterium of the Ages.

We of the Anglican Patrimony could, perhaps, make a Euro or two doing lucrative Consultancy Work helping Belgian and German parishes which are suffering under unorthodox bishops!! We had 170 years of experience of doing that sort of thing!! But since the papist Euro is currently plummetting in value, perhaps we should demand payment in good sound Protestant Pounds. [This last paragraph is meant as a childish joke. Indeed, I doubt if there is a single Ordinariate priest who is sufficiently fluent in modern Belgian.]

26 January 2015

At long last, Fr Tim ...

 ... has shown us the fine picture of S Gregory which he has in his parochial school. The Saint is holding a scroll inscribed with the Angli/Angeli pun recounted in S Bede.

Interestingly, the sentence ends with a good example of cursus; the use of certain end-of-sentence rhythms employed by Cicero and then in the Papal Chancery from around 350ish until just after S Gregory's time (vide G G Willis Essays 1964): "esse consortes" is a neat planus. I must have a look and see whether S Bede himself was a cursus  man. If he wasn't, this bit might indeed go back to S Gregory himself.

What other treasures has Fr Tim unearthed in Marvellous Margate which he will gradually reveal to us?
Might it once have been above an altar? Is there any evidence of the identity of the artist?

Judas College

The Internet suggests that Judas College is based on Merton. It may well be, but the topographical indications in the novel suggest to me that its buildings are more likely to be somewhere up Parks Road. Any ideas?

Women priests .... again? ... groan groan ... er ....

A while ago, Fr Zed, at the end of the Rome meeting the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy, seemed to hint that a big debate was on the way about women priests. Oh dear! Are we really going to have relive those dreary decades in the Church of England when that dreary subject just wouldn't go away? And it is a useless subject to discuss, because those who demand women priests are simply not prepared to listen to arguments. Do you hear me? They never listen. You are wasting your time. Believe me, the male supporters of this demand, who are so over-anxious to prove and flaunt their feminist credentials, are far worse and far more shrill than the women. Just you wait.

Being in Full Communion since 2011 has given me a wonderful respite from all that. And I have no intention of ever returning to the subject. When invited to go anywhere in the world to give talks or take part in conferences or give retreats, or just to sing the glories of the Ordinariate or simply to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, I willingly (diary and health permitting and as long as my expenses can be met) accept the invitation. But, very definitively, not on this subject. Never, never, never. Not now; not ever; not anywhere; not for anyone. And this is not a joke. Since 2011 I have, as they say, got a life. And I like it.

I will, instead, simply commend some reading. I expect you know of Manfred Hauke's book (Women in the Priesthood? Ignatius Press 1988). I commend also the Rochester Report (Women Bishops in the Church of England?, CHP, 2004), put together in the Church of England when the question of women bishops became pressing. It is an official document, written by a committee comprehending different viewpoints, which summarises, basically fairly, the arguments on each side. It is probably a better read than something which only gives one point of view, because you need to know what the Other Side really thinks. Archbishop Rowan Williams anticipated that it would initiate a Great Theological Debate on the subject in the Church of England. But it failed in this, because the ideologues were not prepared to discuss anything. They demanded Action Now. Instead of jaw jaw, they ruthlessly and efficiently organised their Anschluss. Few people even opened the volume. The clamour went on and on and drowned all dialogue.

I would also suggest a volume which, at the same time, I was myself involved in producing, Consecrated Women? (Edited by Jonathan Baker, Canterbury Press, 2004.) Fr Aidan Nichols also had a hand in it (his suggested title for it was The Voice of the Bridegroom, which I rather liked). It is, I like to believe, a scholarly production. It, also, was totally ignored.

In addition, you will find a Bibliography on the January 25 post at the blog Just Genesis. It is compiled by a former Anglican woman priest, who came to a fuller understanding of the question, and enables you to access on the Internet both her writings, and essays by C S Lewis; the great Anglo-Catholic dogmatic theologian Professor Eric Mascall; and a well-know American Orthodox writer Fr Patrick Reardon.

There is only one limited area on which I have anything new to say, and I will say it very briefly on this blog in a post soon. It is not about the Ordination of Women in itself; it is about the Magisterial and historical significance of the significant paragraph in Ordinatio sacerdotalis.

Oh dear. It is truly terrible to think that the Catholic Church may be condemned to the same decades of misery as the Church of England. This tedious subject displaces other much more exciting or useful theological endeavours. It leads endlessly to dissension and bad feeling and accusations of bad faith*. It turns friend against friend.

You have been warned. Ohne mich.
*In the Church of England, the laboriously stitched-together recent terms of peace between those who favour, and those who oppose, the ordination of women bishops, Archbishop Welby's great triumph, are already under violent attack from the feminists, who are consumed with paroxysms of wrath that the first 'orthodox' bishop to be consecrated since peace broke out will only be consecrated by bishops who have not also consecrated a woman. The miserable lot can't even content themselves with massive rejoicings for the consecration, today, of their first woman bishop. (Explore consecration philip north on Google.)

25 January 2015


A day or two ago, I received a card from Fr Stephen Morrison, of the Premonstratensian house in Chelmsford (within my natal county); I had had the great pleasure of getting to know him at the LMS Latin Summer School at Pantasaph last year (have you booked yet for 2015?). So I was very sorry not to have been at his Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood: but when the invitation to it arrived, I had already accepted an invitation to sing Mass and give a lecture at Brompton for CIEL on the ame morning the festival of S Nicolas. The card had a wonderful photograph of Father's First High Mass, of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. And how that picture sent my memory hurtling back to the first High Mass I witnessed as a schoolby in 1959. I had accidentally strolled into the Church of S Mary 'Mags' in Oxford on the evening of December 8 - I was in Oxford for the Scholarship Examination. The celebrant was the 'legendary' Prebendary R John Hooper; little could I have known that the exquisite liturgy I witnessed was destined to to be 'abolished' within a decade.

The same day that I received Fr Stephen's beautiful card, I watched a video which Fr Ray kindly put on his superb blog: 400 seminarians at the now defunct seminary at Ushaw in 1960. High Mass on that wonderful Last Sunday before Advent ... also within a decade of its extinction. Yes ... I did say 400: 400-plus short-backs-and-sides.

About the same time, an acute reader put this question onto one of my threads: how did it all collapse so quickly? Is there an answer? You may have your answer. Here is my take on it: the very power of that liturgical culture was turned against it by the Evil One. It was so wonderful a rite that one accepted without thought the authority which guaranteed such a system. And when that same authority turned brutally against it ... "Forget all that: this is what the Church tells you to do now" ... there seemed no help for it, no defence.

Or ... with a little help from the convergent teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, Dom Gregory Dix, and Fr Michael Moreton ... a slightly fuller account might go like this.

Throughout Christian history, from the rising of the sun to its setting, the forms of the Liturgy rested on the auctoritas of Tradition; of the centuries which prescribed and graciously sanctified what was being done. That auctoritas was guaranteed, strongly backed up by, the (more transient) human structures of power within the Church, which preserved the Liturgy's integrity and guided its gradual and organic evolution. It was inconceivable that things could be different. Never had it been otherwise. But then, in an evil hour, those same structures did turn against the venerable and stately Roman rite. The inconceivable happened. Tradition, and ecclesiastical authority, seemed, for the very first time in two Catholic millennia, to be set against each other. Bewildered, not knowing where to turn but with great love for the Church and her authority, most of us succumbed, and submitted to one side of this terrible dichotomy.

24 January 2015

Wolves again?

I know very little about the French Church, but I do wonder whether it is appropriate to assume too quickly that the Bishop of Quimper has been "massacred" in any sense that calls into question the role of the Holy See.

The known facts suggest that Bishop le Vert may have perhaps been drive to resign by tendencies within his diocese or even among his brother bishops; or, possibly, that he may have been driven to a breakdown.

We have no way of knowing. What I have just written may bear no relation whatsoever to the truth. But, if something like this has happened, there is nothing new about it. Remember Chur. Remember the words of Benedict XVI himself at his Inauguration, about the Wolves who might drive him to desert the flock. The Wolves, as Gerry Adams once said about the IRA, have not gone away.

It is far too easy to hint that Rome or even the Holy Father himself may be the culprits. I think we should put such facile temptations right out of our minds, and not drop hints which are probably unjust. Things are probably more local and more personal. Any moderately confident person can disregard Rome: remember the 'liberal' Bishop of Toowoomba, who simply ignored any letters from Rome, and had quite a run for his money. Much more difficult than enemies across the Ocean or the other side of the Alps are the malevolent within a bishop's own diocese, even malevolent clergy, whom he is consecrated to love and to serve as their unloved Father. And if he is made conscious that his brethren in the Episcopate sympathise with the Wolves, how much more intense the pressures may be. And, if the circling Wolves are successful in harrying him into any state of weakness, how easy it is for them to move in for the kill.

I think the mere possibility of such things may be a sign to all of us that orthodox bishops may be under fearful pressures of which we know little. And divisive events such as Synods can only make matters worse, as the Wolves target any bishop who bears witness to the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed down from the Apostles. Just imagine what it must be like, for example, to be an orthodox bishop in Germany.

Prayer, and public support, and intimations to an orthodox bishop of love or even just of plain appreciation, are things we can deliver.

23 January 2015


Please keep this under your hat. The problem inherent in talking about things is that they thereby may become part of the Church's conversation within herself; and so find themselves on a possible trajectory towards realisation.

For the second time in this pontificate, there have been rumours about a Vatican III.

Perhaps this would not be a disaster. Roberto de Mattei's magisterial book about Vatican II gives an account of the coup d'Etat, the tricks and dodges by which the Rhenish bishops and their associates took the Council over; of how disastrous it was that orthodox bishops were so slow in getting themselves organised. Perhaps today's orthodox bishops would benefit from the Lessons of History. History does not always repeat itself. Particularly if people have read it.

But, given all that, three reasons do occur to me for fearing that a Vatican III may not be God's will.
(1) Vatican II had the practical effect of nullifying the previous papal Magisterium. The decisions and teaching of all the 'modern' popes (B Pius IX to Pius XII) promptly became Old Hat, superseded by the new, shiny, sexy, "documents of the Council". A Vatican III might do the same to the teachings of the post-conciliar popes (S John XXIII to Benedict XVI) and thus turn out to be a constructive relegation to obscurity of their laborious recovery of elements of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, from Humanae vitae through Veritatis splendor down to the Hermeneutic of Reform in Continuity under Benedict XVI.
(2) A Vatican III could represent a recrudescence of the horrible heresy denounced by Cardinal Ratzinger: that the pope really can do anything especially if he is acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. It might be used by the heterodox bishops as a way of trumping all that they find unattractive in the recent Papal Magisterium. A Synod can't cancel what popes have decreed; the pope himself, if he tries to do so, puts himself in the difficult position of cutting off the bough upon which he is sitting (his own authority being, by definition, no greater than that of his predecessors). But the Pope-in-Council ... now there's the temptation ... who can set limitations on that?
(3) If Vatican I and II are anything to go by, conciliar decrees sometimes contain compromises. And, after a council, a dominant fashionable elite in the Church is left at liberty to run with its own side of the compromise and to render the other side dead in the water, a universal irrelevance. Consider Vatican II on Vernacular in the Mass. I summarise:
    "(a) Latin is to be preserved.
     (b) But the vernacular may be extended
     (c) in the readings and directions and to some prayers and chants
     (d) and to those parts which pertain to the people,
     (e) but [provideatur tamen] they must still be able to say and sing the parts that pertain to them in Latin.
     (f) If, in some places and circumstances, an even more radical approach [profundior aptatio] is   needed, local ecclesiastical authority is to submit proposals to the Holy See" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36, 40, and 54).
In less than a decade after the Council, (a) and (e) had become dead letters; and (b), (c), and (d) had been turned into irrelevances because the adroit use of (f), the only de facto survivor of all this legislation, had stamped the very nearly exclusive use of the Vernacular upon the whole of the Latin Church. "Some places and circumstances" [variis locis et adiunctis] had, by the touch of Circe's wand, been turned into the universal general norm. It is now not at all uncommon to find dishonest and unprincipled clerics mendaciously informing laypeople (whom, very often correctly, they clearly suspect of knowing no better) that "the Council abolished Latin". The terrible risk of similar unprincipled games accompanying or following a Vatican III should make us pause for thought. It is part of Cardinal Kasper's approach to argue explicitly that local, Particular Churches may have different disciplines. A Conciliar document might easily contain a let-out clause providing for 'exceptions' in particular places, which would within the decade become the universal norm. Our heterodox or heteropractic brethren among the clergy very sincerely mean very well, but it is dangerous to trust such people, particularly when, as sincere people often are, they are in a hurry.

More than half a century after Vatican II, we are only just beginning to transform some of Circe's pigs back into men, and finding it hard, invidious, and contentious work. Would a Vatican III do anything to wipe the sweat from our brows? Or would it simply increase the burden?

21 January 2015

Equipollent Beatification and Canonisation

The revelation that the Holy Father has adopted a set policy of Canonisation without proof of miracles for those who fit snugly enough into his own criterion - Mission - for the life of the Church, apparently disquiets some. There is always somebody ....!

But there is no need to panic. Canonisation equipollently done is clearly laid out in the great work on Beatification and Canonisation by that exquisitely erudite Pontiff Benedict XIV Lambertini, who himself made considerable use of it. Englishmen can hardly disapprove of the process: 63 of our Martyrs were beatified in this way by Leo XIII on 29 December 1886 and 13 March 1895. The evidence upon which he felt able to do this was the painting in 1583 of the pictures of the Martyrs in the Chapel  of the Venerabile, showing them with haloes.

I myself feel just the slightest, almost imperceptible, stir of unease on three grounds. A massive use of a method which is generally thought of as unusual might give a mistaken impression that our beloved Holy Father is making things up as he goes along, and might also appear to support what seems to be the pretty well unanimous conclusion of the Vaticanistas (I have no idea if they are right) that he is arbitrary and dictatorial ... that we have a one-man-government. It reminds me, if I am completely honest, of his policy of ignoring the liturgical rule confining the pedilavium to viri. (I would like to disbelieve this, but it seems to be confirmed by video clips.)

And secondly, I rather wonder whether it is quite in the scheme of things so blatantly to conform the emergence of new beati and sancti to the policies of a particular pontificate. Again, it might make the Church seem like a one-man game. This is not the model of Papacy which is most likely to appeal to Orthodox or to Catholic-minded Anglicans and Lutherans, who are not always attracted by the image of the Pope as an absolute monarch.

And thirdly, I fear that this may be seized upon by those who disapprove of the fast-track, apparently almost automatic, canonisation of recent popes with Conciliar connections, and who argue that Canonisation has been thereby cheapened.

But I rejoice that our beloved brethren  the Sons of S Philip have a great, a magnificent new Saint; and I look forward to the equipollent beatification of blessed Charles Stuart the Martyr, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. Santo subito! Vivat Rex!

20 January 2015

Alberto Gasparri

When we had just had our fourth child, some b****y doctor tried to tell me that I shouldn't beget any more. I felt like precipitating him down the stairs. But at that time I lacked the manly resolution that comes of being a Proper Catholic. So I dithered.

If Alberto Gasparri were to tell me that the ideal size for a family is three, I think, being now in Full Communion, I would loyally take the wise advice of the Sovereign Pontiff, and instantly thump him before I thought better of it.

Thumping people who insult your mother

This piece appeared at the beginning of last July. I am repeating it because it approaches a problem which is still very much with us: witness the endearing remarks which our beloved Holy Father made in the airliner about how he would thump anybody who insulted his mother. In the present circumstances, I don't see how any reasonable person could fail to see this as being at least a mitigation of the condemnation due to the Islamic terrorists who murdered the Paris Blasphemers. Yet again, Fr Lombardi went out afterwards to try to clear things up. It seems to me arguable that Popes should not make public statements which have not been vetted by the responsible dicastery of the Roman Curia. Because a Pope is not ... or should not be ... sharing his very interesting personal opinions (as I do in this blog). He should be reproving doctrinal error and strengthening us in doctrinal truth. And he is not enabled to do this by magic, but by a spirit-filled process of discernment in which his servants in the Roman Curia are indispensable assistants. He does not teach qua individual, but as the Bishop of Rome faithfully handing on the Tradition which the Roman and Petrine Church (pre-eminent and rock-like among all the Particular Churches in which the deposit of Faith has been handed down from the Apostles) has received. 

The admirable Fr Zed sensibly and judiciously reminded us that much of what our beloved Holy Father says, and not least his daily fervorino, is 'Non-Magisterial'. He is right.  But I sense a problem starting to emerge here which will not go away. It is not totally new (it has been growing particularly since Popes started chatting to journalists in airliners), but it seems to me to get more acute as the decades pass.

The Pope's remarks to the Latin American religious who went to see him were, I presume, very definitely non-Magisterial. They claimed he hinted rather heavily that they should not lose too much sleep about CDF interventions. But ... those worthy religious who went half-way round the world to Rome did not do so because they have a private hobby of chatting to emeriti Argentinian bishops. They went to see, to question, to hear, the Pope qua Pope. And journalists who hear a Roman Pontiff speaking in an aeroplane are not ordinary airline passengers who find that chatting to some genial fellow-passenger relieves the boredom of the flight. They are specifically there to talk with, to listen to, to report the words of, the Pope qua Pope. And these journalists, for the main part, are not theological specialists in the status of papal utterances. As they received their potty training ('In cathedram, pusille! In cathedram mingendum!'), Mummy or Nurse did not tell them about the mysteries of ex cathedra. As toddlers, they did not receive precise information from masterful Nannies about Magisterial versus non-Magisterial. Even when they went to their Preparatory Schools, they were probably not catechised on religiosum obsequium and definitive tenendum. For these good, plain, honest hacks ... and probably also for their even plainer and yet more honest editors ... "The Pope says" means "The Pope says" without painstaking distinctions. And the hermeneutic they bring to what they hear is gained from analysing the implications and nuances in the soundbites of secular politicians with ephemeral, mutable, and transient policy objectives.

And so, given the distinction we already have between Magisterial and non-Magisterial utterances, a further distinction seems to be necessary; between formal and informal utterances. Thus, the volumes Joseph Ratzinger wrote about Jesus of Nazareth were, and were clearly said to be, non-Magisterial. But they were formal utterances. And Francis' daily homilies, while non-Magisterial, must be 'formal' because every sermon preached by an accredited minister of the Church is formal. Evangelii gaudium may not be Magisterial, as Cardinal Burke clearly demonstrated, but it is surely formal. However, remarks like those of Pope Francis to the Spanish American religious about the ministry of the CDF, or his comment that, while he can understand old people being attached to the Vetus Ordo, he thinks that its popularity among the young can only be a mere fashion (modo), must be less than formal. Furthermore, they involve other problems. They may very well have been unreliably reported. And yet they may be particularly newsworthy as bearing upon current topics, or as revealing the mind of the man who is also Bishop of Rome. They may even correspond rather uncertainly to previous statements of the Magisterium (his reported comments on the Vetus Ordo sit a little uneasily with formal and Magisterial statements of Pope Benedict about the Old Rite being a treasure for all the Church). Will you really say to me that there are no problems at all in this?

How are we to handle such a situation? I am asking a genuine question  to which I do not have an answer to peddle. Let me phrase it thus. Is it OK for us ordinary Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Laics to say publicly, with regard to a non-Magisterial and non-formal papal statement, "Goodness me, what twaddle Bar Jona/Borgia/Lambertini/Pacelli/Ratzinger/Bergoglio did talk this morning"? If you reply to me "No; because of the deep respect and deference owed to the Vicar of Christ", then I have to say that, by bringing in his status, you seem to me to be smuggling the Magisterium back into the equation. If you suggest to me that it would be OK to talk thus frankly about the non-Magisterial and non-formal utterances of a previous Pontiff but not about those of this one (like all those bishops and journalists who kept moderately quiet during the last pontificate but do not refrain now from public sneers at Benedict XVI), I would have to ask you why the death or resignation of a Roman Pontiff means that the respect and deference due to a Vicar of Christ is no longer due to him. And I might raise with you an Alexander VI question: was it, either during his lifetime or since, proper to speak in frank criticism of that pope's sexually scandalous life-style? Will you reply to me "No, because of the deep respect and deference owed to the Vicar of Christ, one ought not even to condemn him qua serial adulterer"? And, if not, why not? Are not all Christians under some obligation to rebuke vice? (Of course, within the dynamics of an absolutist Byzantine or Renaissance court, one would hesitate to hint at the least criticism of what an absolute monarch had said. It might lead him to withhold a favour. But Pope Francis has intimated that this is not the model he has for his pontificate. And, in any case, B Pius IX implicitly condemned the proposition that the Roman Pontiff is an absolute monarch)

There must be in the four paragraphs above at least a few occasions when you might have murmured a sentence beginning with the verb distinguo. Yes? I really do seek illumination!
In the old, July, thread, Eques makes a good point. Might one distinguish thus: in his daily Domus Marthae sermons, the celebrant speaks with presbyteral but not with Papal Magisterium?

19 January 2015

Allahu Akbar

I fancy I was not the only one to follow Fr Zed's link to a video clip of the execution by ISIS of an adulterous woman.

What a horrible, Devilish, sound it is, Allahu Akbar, when heard rising above such bloody atrocities and sickening offences against the Merciful One. How often the shouting of it in these last 'ISIS' months must have been a blasphemy.

How badly those poor deluded people who shout it need the grace and mercy of our Most Holy Redeemer, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the only Way and Truth and Life, the only Name under heaven by which I, or any Moslem, can be saved.

Pity those Christian Nigerian schoolgirls, through their Baptism members, limbs of Christ, forcibly 'converted' by Boko haram to a foul cult and shared out as sexual loot.

Pity all, priests and layfolk, Christian men and women and children, whose last moments of cruel suffering have been defiled by this cry.

18 January 2015

Court List

Last week, Regina versus Peter Ball was listed to appear before Mr Justice Sweeney in Court 4 at the Old Bailey. Does anybody know what happened in court?


The Tablet is still from time to time giving publicity to people fighting an old battle: to replace the Translation we currently use of the Roman Missal and to put in its place a version produced in the 1990s. I do think that we need to remind ourselves from time to time how we have ended up where we are. I will discuss, firstly, the old 1970s translation, then the draft 1990s version.

THE 1970s
What was wrong with the old 1970s ICEL translation, replaced more than three years ago, of the Roman Missal? I will centre my comments on words which we hear at every single Mass we attend: the opening words of the Preface. I append a by-the-word literal English crib.

Vere dignum et iustum est,
aequum et salutare,
nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere,
Domine, Sancte Pater, Omnipotens Aeterne Deus.

Truly fitting and just it-is
fair and for-salvation,
us to-you ever and everywhere thanks to-give,
Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Eternal God.

The first thing you will notice here is that, in the old translation, the Latin line 4 was promoted to be the first line; Lord goes missing; and Father comes first, but loses its adjective holy. Let me tell you why. The translations which were published in the early 1970s followed the style recommended in a Roman document known as Comme le prevoit, which advocated "dynamic equivalence". According to this idea, you don't have to translate carefully every word of the Latin into your vernacular tongue; it is sufficient - indeed, better - to mix it all up, leave it on the oven to simmer for a minute or two, and then ladle out the Essence, the Ideas. So the old translators thought that

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God

gave the essence, although not the actual words, of line 4 in the Latin.

They were wrong for the following reasons. The word Lord does matter. It represents the name of the Hebrew God, which is given by the Hebrew letters YHWH. Because this Name, by the most ancient tradition, is not allowed to be uttered aloud, when Jewish readers got to those four letters in the text, what they actually said aloud was the word which means Lord. Greek and Latin Bible translators (and the Douai and King James Bibles) followed this custom, using Kyrie, Domine, and Lord in their respective languages. So Lord, in the Preface, takes us back to our forefathers in the Faith, back to Moses to whom it was revealed that his Saviour-God was YHWH, I am ... the LORD. Omitting it from the translation slices away our essential Jewish roots, cuts us off from the Old Testament; it is actually, I would go so far as to say, implicitly antijudaic or, as students of the early Christian heresies would remind us, Marcionite. Christianity with Abraham and Moses chopped out is a parody.

Missing out the Holy before Father is, if possible, even worse. "Holy Father" - see S John's Gospel chapter 17 - is how the Lord Jesus, the night before he died, addressed his heavenly Father. So this omission erases the reference to the Last Supper, and to the relationship between the Incarnate Word and the First Person of the Blessed Trinity.

I do not think that the perpetrators of these unintended sacrileges could have done a worse thing if they had set out to decry YHWH the LORD and to cut off the Eucharist from Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

It is interesting that the 1970s version transposes and omits words so as to put Father first in the Preface. This represents one of its commonest habits. In that decade, it was felt that "Father" was an intimate and cuddly way of addressing God. It had a friendly, folksy, feel to it. Evangelicals were accused - probably unjustly - of beginning their every prayer with the formula "Father, we just want to say ...". Similarly, in the translation which was abolished in 2011, prayer after prayer began "Father ...". Most of them in fact, in the Latin, began Deus, "God" or Domine, "Lord". But, according to the principles of "Dynamic Equivalence", the translators of the 1970s argued "Well, the Person of the Trinity who is [nearly always] meant by Deus is the Father. So we can translate it as 'Father'". There is a quite delicious historical irony here ... I'm sure you can see it coming. Within a decade of that old translation coming into use, "Father" had become politically incorrect; a victim to the rise of feminism. From being the Nice way of addressing God, "Father" became overnight pretty well a taboo, a Patriarchal outrage. The moral here is that Dynamic Equivalence runs the risk of betraying you into a usage which very soon becomes very dated. The Church which celebrates her nuptials with this Age quickly becomes a lonely widow in the next.

So, in the 1970s, fashionable translators used "Father" for Latin words which do not strictly mean Father; as I illustrate below, the fashion of the following decade was to eliminate the word "Father" even when that would have been a correct translation of the Latin ... because feminists, we are told, do not want to have Patriarchy thrust down their throats! Perhaps you begin to see the problems about this sort of approach to translation.
(2) THE 1990s Translation.

Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Eternal God. 

So: the old, 1970s, translation of the Mass had the disadvantages which we have discussed. Indeed, the problems with that translation were widely recognised very soon after it came into use. I will quote the words (2002) of a man who cannot be accused of any sympathy with Traditionalism: Archbishop Rembert Weakland, a "Spirit of Vatican II" prelate whose antipathy to Joseph Ratzinger's views on Liturgy were public and were very vigorously expressed. (He was a man who never did things by halves; his Wikipedia entry gives information about his financial, sexual, and architectural misdemeanours.) "This restorationist movement [i.e. the views of Joseph Ratzinger, Aidan Nichols, and others] should be distinguished from the ongoing search for liturgical renewal according to the norms already established. Liturgists who were involved in the first liturgical reforms after the council consider that the renewal was halted in midstream and agree that many valid criticisms of the present state of affairs are in order. For example, in citing the low quality of some translations, they call for a more elevated and poetic style ...".

Accordingly, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) set to work in the 1980s and, in 1992, submitted a new translation of the Missal. It was generally agreed that it represented a considerable improvement upon its predecessor. But there was now a new kid on the linguistic block. In just one decade, a new -ism had become dominant among fashionable liturgists: Feminism. Under this novel intellectual tyranny, gender-specific nouns became very unpopular; which was bad news for words like Lord. And it was also bad news for pronouns, which, notoriously, "take the place of nouns", but can, in the English language and in the third person singular (he/she/him/her) be (to the fury of feminist ideologues) gender-specific.

So, in the 1992 draft, the Preface did become closer to the Latin ... for a while. Here is that draft:
It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation
always and everywhere to give you thanks 

                (well, goodish so far ... but here comes the problem in line 4:)
God of majesty and loving kindness.

You see what has happened to Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Eternal God.. I explain above how Lord represents the old Hebrew 'tetragrammton', YHWH, the august Name under which Moses and our spiritual ancestors, God's First People, addressed their and our God; I remind you that Holy Father was the phrase characterising the Great High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in S John Chapter 17. But Lord and Father are, to some, unacceptably gender-specific. Out they both have to go. So the translators again applied the principle of 'Dynamic Equivalence' (go for the meaning and forget the words). Deus (God) was allowed to stay; Domine ... Omnipotens Aeterne ... (Lord ... Almighty Eternal ...) were expressed by the word majesty; and the cuddliness (foolishly) assumed to be implicit in Pater (Father) was rendered by loving kindness.

The same processes can be seen at work in the translation, in 1992, of the Answer (Suscipiat Dominus ...) to the Orate Fratres: "to the praise and glory of His Name" has to be purged not only of 'Lord' but also of any masculine pronoun, so we end up with "... will be pleasing to God for the Glory of God's name ...".

Pronouns (like His) exist to save you from having continually to repeat nouns (like God). "Matilda needed to go shopping, so Matilda set out for Tescoes with Matilda's shopping list" becomes, for normal English speakers, "Matilda needed to go shopping, so she set out for Tescoes with her shopping list". But, for feminist liturgists, pronouns ... masculine  pronouns, that is ... are a minefield. So they avoid them by multiple repetitions of the noun. (Curiously, they do not have the same problems with feminine pronouns: I read recently an account of how the Church of England's senior {and very episcopable} woman clergyperson gave a 'blessing' which mentioned Wisdom and then displayed no coyness at all about feminine pronouns.)

When Rome considered this 1992 translation, all sorts of things hit all sorts of fans. For a while, there was some toying with the idea that it could be corrected. But it became clear that the new virus of feminist linguistics was too deeply embedded in it. In the end, Rome threw the whole lot out, hook, line, and sinker, and declared that Comme le prevoit, the document which prescribed the "Dynamic Equivalence" mode of translation, was no longer in force. The order went out that ICEL should be reformed and cleaned out. And a new Instruction about vernacular translations was, to the incandescent fury of Rome's critics, put in the place of Comme le prevoit. The new Instruction, Liturgiam authenticam, is a very fine and scholarly document indeed; one of the great monuments to the pontificate of S John Paul II. You might find it useful as a litmus paper by which to judge the 'scholarship' of 'experts': ask a soi-disant 'liturgist' what he thinks of Liturgiam authenticam and, if he rubbishes it, you'll know he's a phoney. (Pronounce it Lee-TOUR-jee-am ow-TEN-tee-cam. If he doesn't catch on first time what you're talking about, just keep repeating it, louder and louder, until he does. It's the only sort of language these people understand.)

Liturgiam authenticam is the how-to-do-it tool which lies behind the praiseworthy translation which, thank God, we Anglophone Catholics now use. We should be grateful for our new translation, and never forget how truly terrible its predecessor was; or how close we came to having the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass turned into a feminist polemic.
Sometimes a wistful joke used to be made: "Since 'Traddies' are allowed to use the 1962 Missal, those who still love the Vatican II Missal [by which the speaker means the old translation] ought to be allowed to use that." This reveals a profound misunderstanding. Both the old obsolete ICEL, and the new translation, are attempts to render what is basically the same Latin original, which was produced half a decade after the Council. Since our new translation is closer and more faithful to the post-Vatican II Latin original, it has every claim to be welcomed as more authentically "the Vatican II Missal".

16 January 2015

The European Doctrinal Commissions ...

 ... according to the Bollettino, have discussed the Unicity and salvific Universality of Jesus Christ; Gender Theory and Christian Anthropology; and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Hrrmmmmph. The first is the exact subtitle of the very splendid CDF document Dominus Iesus, one of the cornerstones of the Magisterium of S John Paul II, and a magnificent monument to the mind of Joseph Ratzinger; a Magisterial statement which has recently been under attack from 'Bologna' and other predictable and dubious quarters. The second suggests to me some preliminary nibbling at the edges of the potentially dangerous question of women's ministries. The third makes me wonder if somebody has been pressing for General Absolution.

As Corporal Jones wisely and excitedly and invariably advises, Don't panic. But it would be good if, in the modern spirit of openness, a frank document indicating who said what about which, were provided.

Why the secrecy, why the smoke-filled rooms behind locked doors? After all, this is not a Renaissance Pontificate.

15 January 2015

Growing the Ordinariate Liturgy

Our distinctive Rite, then, has immense advantages. In highly important ways, it reconnects with the liturgical Tradition which was, to an unhappy degree, ruptured in the decades following 1960. But it is also highly receptive to elements in those post-Conciliar changes which were actually mandated or permitted by the Council, and which are of pastoral advantage. Gloriously, it throws the windows open to a liturgical experience which is in a sense 'vernacular' but utilises a sacred vernacular closely similar to the Latin of the Roman Rite. This Latin, as demonstrated by modern linguistic and literary scholarship, was never 'vernacular' in the sense of using everyday language, but addressed God in a highly formal and deliberately archaic dialect. That is exactly what we do in our 'Tudor English' rite. The Roman instruction Liturgiam authenticam encouraged precisely this.

I very much hope that our Rite will spread within the Anglophone Catholic world, quite simply because it is what that world needs. And it is clear (and very welcome) that Ordinariate congregations are not and will not be exclusive ghettoes. As a result of this, in parishes where there are Ordinariate clergy, laypeople from both backgrounds, 'Anglican Patrimony' and 'Diocesan', worship together. Thus Ordinariate Catholics with their Anglican Use, and Diocesan Catholics with their Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, mingle, and have the capacity very much to enrich each other. Mutual Enrichment as advocated by Benedict XVI! Diocesan clergy have often asked me, as I have given talks to laity and clergy in many countries, whether they are allowed to use our admirable Rite, and I have had, with regret, to explain that the general answer is No (except in particular circumstances).

There are a couple of things we could do to help facilitate the growth and spread of what our particular charism has brought into the Catholic Church for the benefit of all the members of that Church.

(1) There could be a protocol something like this:
When this Rite is used in circumstances where there are substantial numbers of worshippers who are not members of the Ordinariate, the Celebrant may, at his discretion and for pastoral reasons and after consulting the Ordinary, omit the Prayers of the People, the Penitential Rite beginning Ye that do truly, and the Prayer after Communion beginning Almighty and everliving God. 
(2) It could be enacted that non-Ordinariate clergy of the Roman Rite may celebrate our Use iusta pro causa, because it is in fact a lawful Form of the Roman Rite together with the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms. It was part of the genius of Benedict XVI canonically to make it clear in Summorum Pontificum that the EF and OF are both equally forms of the Roman Rite, so that any Roman Rite priest can use either of them without needing any permission from anyone. By doing this he avoided the legal complications inherent in 'biritualism', which would have enabled unsympathetic bishops to sabotage his intentions. The same basic principle should analogously apply to the Anglican Form.

14 January 2015

Queuing up

In the Three Kingdoms we are able to watch parliamentary proceedings on Television (Proculvision? Teleopsis?). I have just been watching our Islamic members of the Lower House lining up to dissociate themselves, their Religion, and their Culture, without any Ifs or any Buts, but with great conviction and eloquence, from the psychopaths who murdered the Paris Blasphemers (my word, not theirs).

It does them all the more credit because, when the Zionist Regime was making its most recent attack on Gaza, I do not recall there being a long queue of Jewish MPs fervently striving, one after another, jumping up and down like phrenetic jacks-in-a-box, to catch Mr Speaker's eye so that they could dissociate themselves from the actions of the Israeli Government. (The Palestinian deaths, I believe, amounted to something like a thousand, while less than a dozen Israelis were killed by Hamas activity.)

It would be very wrong to smear Jewish MPs; I have particularly in mind the great Sir Gerald Kaufman. His record in  'rights' matters is exemplary and puts pretty well everybody else to shame. I'm sure many other Jewish MPs and members of their Lordships' House, do put a great deal of pressure on Mr Netanyahu, and, possibly, by doing it behind the scenes, have a great effect. Good for them.

But I couldn't help noticing ...

12 January 2015

Je suis ...

I had lunch in Oxford today with a very dear friend, a brother priest from the Diocese of Chichester. Putting his cards firmly upon the table, he loudly proclaimed Je Suis Chablis.

I do hope that all the hysterical claptrap will now quieten down and slink shamefacedly away, I mean a long way away. And I pray that no more mad and murderous Islamicists will kill any more blasphemous and sacrilegious Secularists for, say, something like the next 85 years. Or vice versa. It's more than I feel I could take.

BTW, lovely article over on Rorate by ... Proust, of all people. I never knew he was One Of Us.

11 January 2015

Charlie encore

It just goes on, doesn't it? There is something uncannily like the nonsense that followed the demise of Diana Spencer in this eerie mass hysteria of the mob; the politicians riding on the back of it; the coercion into a prescribed self-identification; the ludicrous apotheosis of the dead. Are there analogies in pre-modern History? How might Horst Wessel fit in? What is really happening? We need an intelligent metanarrative.

versus populum, versus Orientem

Cardinal Burke set a very good example yesterday by celebrating the Mass of Ages facing the people. He did so because he was celebrating in the old Roman Basilica of S Nicolas in the Prison, which is oriented so that Facing The People is  Facing East.

Facing East is what the Fathers of East and West thought was not only proper but pretty well essential. But I know of no evidence whatsoever that it mattered to them whether, as they faced East, they were facing towards the people or away from the people. It isn't easy to prove negatives, but my instinct is that all the arguments modern traditionalists have dreamed up for the importance of priest and people all facing in the same direction were unknown in the first millennium. I would be genuinely interested to see if someone could falsify this instinct of mine. One reason I write this blog is so that I can test things out.

Sometimes people talk about "the ritual East". That's a natural thing to do when the church concerned is facing neither East nor West, like quite a lot of Catholic churches built in the last few centuries in constricting urban spaces. I don't mind the phrase except when it is being used by someone who is in a church so oriented, and decently so furnished, that he could very easily face East ... but doing so would mean that he was facing the people ... and the top all-important overriding priority in his mind is that he should at all costs have his back to the people ... even if that means he has to face West!!

I should make it clear that what I am talking about is not the horrid corrupt practice of putting a coffee-table as close as possible to the people and then standing facing them, with the altar uncluttered so that they can "see properly". When you celebrate facing East=facing the people in the Roman basilicas, there is very definitely no sense of chummy propinquity. You are under a baldachino; between Altar and Nave there is a confessio keeping the people a great distance away; you are probably up a flight of steps; the big baroque crucifix and candlesticks mean that they can barely see anything. In earlier Christian centuries, there would have been curtains all round (in circuitu) the Altar so that they never saw anything at all!! (Papal benefactors loved to donate the sets of four splendid curtains, and the metal hooks to hold them still survive in some old churches.) That is the nearest Western equivalent I know of celebrating in mystical invisibility behind a Byzantine Icon-screen!

Liberals are infested with their endless petty shibboleths and baseless liturgical fancies and fantasies. We should be careful that we don't have too many of our own quaint little fads.

10 January 2015

Charlie update

The craft of the Evil One is stupefying. Behold the Evil of Secularism and the Evil of Islam in a diabolical synergeia. So this weekend will see a massive celebration in the streets of Paris of Secularism, laicite, and the Revolution. Nothing would surprise me more than to be told that representatives of the French Church had refused to bow low in the temple of Rimmon.

Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

9 January 2015

Update on killing

I have noticed, on Google, a crossed black ribbon. I may have got this wrong, but I suspect it may be a symbol relating to the tragically murdered French Secularists; a mark of solidarity, perhaps, of grief?

Fair enough. I have given my views on the foulness of taking even one human life. Even a criminal life. Even an unborn life.

Has Google been waggling black ribbons around while thousands of Christians have been murdered in the Middle East and in Africa?

Why not?

What is the going 'Google tariff', I wonder? Is one Secularist life equivalent, perhaps, to 10,000 Christian lives? Would that be near the mark? It would be nice to know. Just how cheap do they hold Christian blood (or, for that matter, Islamic blood) to be in relation to good, pure, Secularist blood?


I fully share the view of the Magisterium that Capital Punishment, though not formally excluded, is, in normal circumstances, an unnecessary and undesirable feature of modern societies. Earlier, and Christian, societies in which it did exist very probably needed it because they were unprotected by the sophisticated coercive agencies possessed by modern states. I could stomach either one of these unpleasant alternatives, but I profoundly dislike the idea of being burdened with both.

Even if such state killing is allowed, I regard as totally and thoroughly abhorrent the thought of private individuals without juridical status taking it upon themselves to "execute" those of whom they disapprove. Whoever they are; whatever they have done.

Consequently, I am horrified almost beyond belief by the events in France. Our hearts go out to the people of Paris; we saw the horrors of terrorism in our own Capital when the London Underground was bombed and, before that, during the Irish troubles. And we remember with gratitude the deep sympathy and sense of solidarity which swept through France when British Regiments, bandsmen and horses included, were bombed in Hyde Park and Regents Park.

This does not mean that I feel obliged to join in all the current rhetoric, or to proclaim, in solidarity, Je suis Charlie. Among those who have been so wickedly attacked there appear to have been some very hate-ridden and corrupted minds, whose venom was not confined to ridiculing Islam. Je ne suis pas Charlie.

One can find on the Internet a front cover of the periodical concerned in which the Holy and Blessed and Glorious and Undivided Trinity is blasphemed by means of an obscene cartoon of a very explicitly sodomitical nature. It surprises me that images of such indecency were allowed to be publicly displayed for sale in a civilised city. One can also find a cartoon of Pope Benedict holding a mole inside his unbuttoned cassock and saying Ca me change des enfants de choeur. "Freedom of expression"? Would indecent cartoons defaming prominent pro-homosexual activists go unnoticed by the French equivalent of Mr Plod? And what about the constant attempts in more than one country to prevent pro-life activists from showing, in public, pictures of aborted foetuses? "Freedom of expression"? What world do some of these people live in?

But in one respect I do reluctantly admire these victims of terrorism. In Britain, we have nasty and unwholesome people who feel free to blaspheme our Holy Faith. But they are careful not to take on Islamic militants. Like all seasoned bullies, they have an acute and skilled eye for the soft target. Like all practised bullies, they are very careful not to tangle with the truly Hard Men.

At least the minds of those dead Parisian cartoonists were not devoid of the simple human virtue of courage. Unlike their British counterparts, they were prepared to take the risk of putting their own survival where their mouths and their pens were. In this, if in nothing else, they were not unmanly. Being prepared to die for ones beliefs is not nothing, whatever those beliefs are. God bless them, and may they know the mercies of Christ.

5 January 2015

Pope or Tradition?

There is an apocryphal tale that B Pius IX once said Io sono la Tradizzione. I thought of that the other day when I read a report that Cardinal Marx had said that, for him, "it is incomprehensible how the Synod Fathers are more bound to Tradition than to the Pope".

Really? Talk about letting Cats out of Bags!

I would like to be quite clear about this. I belong to Christ's Church Catholic as defined by Pastor aeternus of Vatican I (Joseph Ratzinger summarised it so lucidly) in which the Pope is not an absolute monarch but is the Guardian of the Sacred Tradition received from the Apostles. I have no desire to belong to somebody else's "Catholic Church" in which Tradition and Pope are seen as competing alternatives, and in which safe and wise Corporation Men who know what's good for their health prioritise Pope above Tradition. Not even if that "Church" is led by such luminaries as Marx and Kasper.

Later this month, we shall observe the Church Unity Octave, sometimes known nowadays as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I do not know how seriously the Marxes and the Kaspers nowadays take Christian Unity. If Cardinal Marx's enthusiasm for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation is a good basis for guesswork, 'Ecumenism' is, for many such, going to mean cosying up to liberal Protestantism with its multiple apostasies. But, in my own experience of Orthodox Christians, the message that full communion with the See of Rome actually means Sacred Tradition being replaced by the Absolute Power of whoever happens currently to be the Roman Pontiff ... or, even worse, by sectional interests able to get their hands on the levers of power and to manipulate the Papacy so as to promote their own innovatory agendas ... is precisely the sort of message that would confirm their very worst suspicions about the errors of "Papalism".

Four years ago, I and others, not without some sacrifice, joyfully accepted the gracious invitation of Benedict XVI to enter into full communion. I, for one, did not do so in order to stand idly by with a polite smile upon my silly face while some unscrupulous Northern European ecclesiastics plot to demolish the Church's teaching and discipline about Marriage and Sexuality, and to do so by means of a confected hyperpapalism which as far as I can see contradicts the defined doctrine of Vatican I, and thus seems to me clearly a heresy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

And this is what Vatican I had defined: "The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter's successors so that by its revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but, so that, by its assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, i.e. the deposit of Faith".

B John Henry Newman, Patron of our Ordinariate, brilliantly characterised the charisma, the genius, of the Roman Church as its capacity to act as a remora, a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation. That's what the Pope's job is.

3 January 2015


It will be interesting to see if dear Archbishop Forte (who so entertainingly bungled the plotted liberal take-over of the Synod) or Archbishop Fernandez (a protege of the the Holy Father's, who explained the Pope's words about frank discussion as meaning "we needn't be afraid of Mueller coming after us") gets promotion in the coming days. Not a 'snowball's chance', I would say.

Personally, I'm putting all my shirts on Cardinals' hats for Mgr Newton, our Ordinary, and Bishop Egan, in whose diocese I geographically reside ... a very fine pair of prelates, quibus nulli meliores.

Learning from Luther

Cardinal Marx believes in learning from Luther. Today, Rorate publishes a nice early engraving of Lutherans receiving Holy Communion into their mouths, and kneeling.

Nuff' said.

2 January 2015

John Lamont's article ...

 ... on Rorate, headed Attacks on Thomism, is really a very good piece on Neomodernism. I warmly commend it, with a warning that it is quite long; and I would remind you that in 2008 Fr Aidan Nichols wrote a book (Reason with Piety) about Fr Garrigou-Lagrange; whom Lamont defends.

There is just one correction I would like to offer. Lamont, in my view, does S John XXIII an injustice. He cites the speech which the Holy Pontiff made at the opening of Vatican II. But he quotes it in an inaccurate English translation, which culpably omits four crucial words. That translation was widely disseminated by Abbott's English translation of the Conciliar documents [Pages 710 and following, especially 715], and became the basis upon which one Peter Hebblethwaite spun an entire narrative of falsehood. This passage as translated has, indeed, done a great deal of harm; but the harm is attributable to others, not to the pope.

The crucial words omitted are eodem sensu eademque sententia

1 January 2015

Happy New Year of Consecrated Life, Happy New Year of Joy

This year of 2015, our most beloved Holy Father has called upon consecrated religious to Wake Up The World with their love and their joy. This is a worthwhile project which will benefit all of us, and, indeed, sanctify those outside the Household of the Faith. Consecrated Religious are a prolepsis tou Eskhatou, an anticipation of the End and of the Kingdom; they show us the joy which the Lord is so surely bringing. Marana tha; veni, Domine, ne tardaveris.

It is invidious to pick out particular communities and individual charisms. But I cannot fail to mention two communities of which I have some experience; each of them is a young and vibrant community with a joyously Marian charism. Ave Mater Sanctae Laetitiae.

The Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers on the ancient, remote, monastic island of Papa Stronsay.
I have witnessed their joyful and sacrificial life of Prayer and Work; their Calendar hangs in front of me as I write (showing them as they prepare a winter shelter for their very healthy and soundly Tridentine geese). I am sure I was not the only one to remember them during those terrible December storms in the Northern Ocean. And we don't forget Fr Michael Mary and his brethren in their flourishing Mission down there in New Zealand! Storm-free, Father, I hope! Much love.

The Franciscans of the Immaculate. I pray for them; for the brothers and for the sisters; especially for the contemplative sisters at Lanhearne in Cornwall (I daily carry with me, in imitation of the practice of Blessed John Henry Newman, the Miraculous Medal which Reverend Mother Rosa gave me). I pray for those who are still together within the structures of the order; and for those who have been driven from the stability of their communities to seek and hear God's call in new paths. And I pray for Bishops who guide them and provide a refuge for their joyful service and their witness to joy. God bless them all, tous xenous kai tous xenodokhountas, and may He touch with His joy the hearts of their enemies.

God keep them all and give them joy. May He send them fresh vocations. God grant that the World may recognise in their faces the joy of Christ.