29 May 2015


Paying a visit to Rorate, I was interested to notice that the Master of Benet's, in this University, one Werner Jeanrond, is on the list of participants in the recent Secret Meeting of German, Swiss, and French clerics and savants.

What does one do? One reads a man's biog on Wikipedia and follows up references. But ... Oh dear ... two interesting links there appear to be broken. That's the Internet for you.

The only revealing snippet is that he has some connection with a periodical called Concilium which I have never read.

Synodical secrecy (1)

On March 13, our Holy Father gave an interview to the Vaticanista Valentina Alazraki, for the Mexican network Televisa. He included one particular passage which concerned me so deeply that I have not so far written about it. It seemed to demand careful thought.

It is important to remember that not everything a Pope says calls for either the adherence of Divine Faith or even for Religious Respect (obsequium). And a Mexican television interview most certainly does not come within the category of 'Magisterial' utterances. Indeed, the first point I wish to make is the importance of distinguishing between the 'Magisterial' and the 'Non-Magisterial'.

But that is not the whole story. It is a deeply Catholic instinct, and an immensely sound one, to be very shy of disagreeing with a Pope, even when he is speaking non-Magisterially. Technically, a Christian can adhere dutifully to a Magisterial statement while expressing himself in a robust and demotic way (just as Pope Francis often does!) about the non-Magisterial utterances. But in fact, the love we naturally feel for the Vicar of S Peter dissuades us from sounding critical, even though, in terms of rights we have every right to do so. And a cleric with a mandate to teach in the Church's name ought to feel particularly uneasy about any sort of public dissent from the Supreme Pontiff's lightest word. Before he does so, he must weigh the matter in terms both theological and prudential. So I have given this a great deal of very careful thought.

To be continued.

28 May 2015


This morning I received a letter from a reader in America asking for prayers. His first name was Christopher. If he would like to give me his email address as a Comment on this blog, I will delete it without publishing it and use email to reply.

26 May 2015

Responsa ad dubia

Hello Tommy! I reprint below something that I posted on April 24 about this matter of validity which you raise. "Tantum ergo" had raised it.

Hello Tantumergo! And Welcome! Your question, about the "Validity" of Eucharistic Prayer II, is so pastorally important that I think I'd better deal with it instantly.

Unless some priest is such a mad ingenious fool that he decides not to use wheat bread and grape wine, or misses out the Lord's Words at His Last Supper, it is very difficult for him to make a Mass invalid. Even if he were to be a secret atheist! Because of the chaotic situation which arose after Vatican II (but not mandated by the Council) devout laypeople quite often ask your sort of question. If you really want to read all the technical details about what is 'valid' and what is 'invalid' please look back at some earlier posts I gathered together at 4 September 2014; and also read 20 November 2013, 12 May 2014, and 13 March 2015. You see how often people do get worried! I'm sure this will not be the last time I am asked to take up a question like yours.

But my advice to anybody in your position is: Don't worry. Because using EP II certainly does make the Lord's Body and Blood to be present, and truly does offer them in Sacrifice. No ifs, no buts.

Back to Tommy ... the actual words of the form for consecrating a Bishop, introduced in the post-Conciliar Pontifical, had previously been used, for centuries, by Eastern Churches in communion with Rome or whose episcopacy Rome accepted, to consecrate bishops. When this was pointed out to Archbishop Lefebvre, he stopped doubting the efficacy of the rite. As for the Form of Ordaining a priest, the post-Conciliar Pontifical made one very slight change which silly people made a song and dance about. But the change in fact simply changed the wording back to what it had been in the first Christian millennium. If this wording really is inadequate to ordain, then S Gregory the Great, poor chap, went through his life ordaining invalidly. So did all the popes for more than a thousand years. People who claim this seem to me to be funny sorts of "Catholics".

I do get quite cross with these individuals who, because of their own passionate desire for "the Conciliar Church" not to have any true Sacraments, ignore what the Church has taught for centuries about validity.

17 May 2015

"The Dome": Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Dome was still preoccupied withe the "South India Problem"; a part of the Anglican Communion had united with various Protestant sects in an amalgamation providing that 'non-conformist' ministers would officiate in South India without any sort of Anglican Ordination. The English Convocations, only three years previously, had put in place a system of partial intercommunion which maintained links between the the Church of England and those South Indian ministers whose ordination had been Anglican. Papalist Anglicans, not surprisingly, had vivid opinions about the illogicality of this uneasy compromise.

But other problems were beginning to appear. The March 1958 edition carried this story:

"The Rev. C.A.C. Hann, D.D., Principle of Lichfield Theological College, has stated that he has resigned on account of the betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice by the Convocation of Canterbury in its recent Resolutions on the Pastoral Care of the Divorced ... he says:
'In May last the Lower House of the Canterbury Convocation passed Resolution 2A ... As a result of this, it will be possible, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, for a divorced person who has "re-married" during the lifetime of a former partner to receive the Holy Communion. I protested most strongly against this resolution as denying Catholic Faith and Practice. Then, in September last, it was announced that a Worcestershire incumbent had gone through a form of marriage with a divorced woman whose husband was still alive ... When I read this I came to the conclusion that the Church's attitude towards divorce was the result of the desire to be "comprehensive" and, on the principle of Anglicanism, to unchurch nobody if it was possible to keep him within the Church. To my mind this was an indication that the Church of England is prepared to maintain its characteristic principle and its comprehensiveness even at the cost of sacrificing its professed adherence to Catholic Faith and Practice.
" If I felt - as I did - that the Resolution in fact denies important elements in the Catholic doctrines of Matrimony, of Holy Communion, of Grace, and of the Sin of Adultery, my re-action to to the decision of the authorities of the Church in the case of the Worcestershire incumbent was one of complete and utter disgust. To be perfectly candid, it seems to me that such action could not be taken by a Church in which the Grace of God was allowed free course.
"There is only one way to fight to the death such betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice, and that is to become exclusively Catholic. ..."

ANIMADVERTITE: (1) Things hit the Church of England about fifty years before they hit the Caholic Church; and
(2) it is important to continue to use technical terms such as "Adultery" and "had gone through a form of marriage". Talking about "remarried divorcees" just sells the pass.

15 May 2015

"The Dome": a Proto-Ordinariate?

From January 1958 until June 1959, a monthly "Newspaper for Anglican Catholics" was produced and sold; it was called The Dome and had a bright, attractive format. Its agenda was what is sometimes called Anglo-Papalist; but, in line with the attitudes of Fr Fynes Clinton, it was also very sympathetic to Orthodox hierarchs and communities. I propose to give you extracts from it from time to time. But, today, an extract from the Daily Telegraph (foolishly, my scissors, which were only seventeen years old at the time, removed the heading and date: it must be June or July 1959) about its final demise.

"The Vatican has rejected a plan for a 'Transitional Church' to be be recognised by the Holy See, and which might have involved the secession to Rome of many Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity from the Church of England.
"The decision, though charitably made 'for the good of the Universal Church', has killed the hopes of Anglicans who have long worked for corporate, or even partial, reunion with the Roman Catholic Church. Rome has made clear that no 'concessions', such as the plan suggested, can be made.
"The plan, originally drawn up in the United States, was taken to Rome in January by Rev. Frederic Davis, curate at S Francis, Oxhey, Herts.
"There it was discussed with Fr Charles Boyer, the Jesuit scholar, president of the Unitas Association. He acted as an intermediary with the Vatican, which after six months has indicated it is unacceptable. The plan contemplated:
   Recognition or ratifification by Rome of Orders (hitherto declared invalid) of Anglican clergy who joined the 'Transitional Church'.
   In certain cases, a married priesthood.
   An 'English Rite' with at least part of the Mass in English.
   Evensong and Benediction in English.


"It was recognised that the difficulties were formidable. Those accepting the 'concessions' would have to 'go into the wilderness.' Clergy would be relinquishing their livings and, with their congregations, their churches.
"But the sponsors argued that the 'Transitional Church', recognised by Rome, would act as a bridge and would, in the long run, facilitate the conversion of Enland to the Roman Faith. It is likely that this view was not taken by the Roman hierarchy in Britain.
"Fr Davis has resigned his curacy and is joining the Roman Catholic church. The Anglo-Catholic monthly newspaper the Dome, which he founded in January last year, and which had a circulation of about 5,000, is being wound up."

There was an elegant ditty circulating at the time:
"The Dome
has gone to Rome
but Prism 
is still in schism."

(Prism being a lively but non-Papalist journal.)

14 May 2015

Shome Mishtake?

On the occasion of Pope Benedict's Birthday I was looking through ... sentimental old thing that I am ... some photographs in a glossy book which someone gave me very soon after his Inauguration. I was horrified to find a couple of photos of him, walking apparently unprotected, amid a crowd of exuberant young people. He was just about to kiss a baby, holding its cheeks between his hands; his face laughing in genuine pleasure and, in his eyes, that shy but warm and gentle look.

How can this be? We know that babykissing and such business was an innovation by Pope Francis because of all his humility ktl.. The Media have explained that it was how he showed how different he was to the stuffy pompous popes who went before him. These photographs must be forgeries!

Even more confusingly, I have seen a very recent videoclip showing Pope Francis going through the square in the popemobile on a day when it had been raining until a quarter of an hour before. The circumambient Security Men had obviously been given instructions that Babies And Cripples Is Off Today, because none was thrust up at the Pontiff. But ... stay!! the Popemobile has stopped! Somebody is carrying a white thing up to the Pope ... have the Bowels of Pontifical Mercy finally burst open? ...  could it be a baby? ... it would have to be a very small one ... Ah no! It's just someone bringing him a dry skull-cap ...

I suppose there must still have been some moisture in the air. And we old gentlemen do have to look after ourselves.

13 May 2015

"The English Orthodox"

I am glad that Fr Anthony Chadwick is keeping alive a lovely little booklet (I have a 1988 edition) by the late Raymond Winch, called The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox. This attempts to establish that the form of the Eucharist known to Anglo-Saxon Christians is the canonical entitlement of modern "English Orthodox"; in other words, to be Orthodox you don't have to be Byzantine. (This would seem to be a necessary distinction to make in order to sustain a belief that the collection of Particular Churches collectively and popularly known as "the Orthodox" constitute the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.)

And that Anglo-Saxon Mass is, of course, substantially the Roman Rite as brought to this country by the Augustinian Mission. Winch attempted to establish how this rite should be done; which, of course, is a distinctly broader question than the mere establishment of texts. But you can't celebrate the Eucharist without texts; and Winch's attitude here is surefooted: you wo'n't find any nonsense in him about "correcting" the rite by inserting a Byzantine Epiclesis. But there is one detail where I'm not sure that Winch's conclusion can be sustained.

"... una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N ... communicantes ...". It is commonly held that this use of papa goes back to a time when it did not exclusively mean the Bishop of Rome (or Alexandria!). It refers to the local bishop (of course, in the local Church of Rome, from which this liturgy comes, the local bishop was the Bishop of Rome). So "English Orthodox" clergy should, at that point, just name their own bishop, and not the Bishop of Rome and (also) not their own "Patriarch" or autocephalous Archbishop. Just the one name! And this is ecclesiologically attractive in as far as the local "particular" Church is "The Church".

The problem is that in a very convincing paper by L. Eizenhofer (Sacris Erudiri VIII, 1 (1956), the writer argues that the Memento is originally diaconal and that the logic of the Canon brackets together una cum ... with communicantes ....  (I firmly believe this.) He then deploys texts from Tertullian, Cyprian, Optatus, Augustine, Leo, Felix, Simplicius and Gelasius, to build up the argument that this collocation is designed explicitly to assert the necessity for communion with the Petrine See of S Peter. I quote: "Communicare und communio sind die Worter, um die sich dann fast alles dreht in den Briefen und Traktaten, die die Papste, besonders Gelasius I  (492-496), der auch die Briefe seiner beiden Vorganger Simplicius (468-483) und Felix III (483-492) verfasst hat, gegen das Akacianische Schisma (484-519) schrieben. Da begegnen sie uns sozusagen auf jeder Seite und in jedem Kapitel, oft in vielfacher Wiederholung. Hie communio Acacii, hie communio Sancti Petri. Wer mit solchen Communio halt, die von der romischen Communio ausgeschlossen sind, der ist selbst excommuniziert". (No umlauts ... I dunno how to do them, or, for that matter, accents in French; and I leave it untranslated because I'm nervous about making a howler ... if some benevolent Germanist were to translate it on the thread, out of gratitude I will offer a Mass for his/her intentions.)

If, in the terminology of the Roman Church in those centuries, this passage of the Canon asserts or assumes the necessity of being in communion with Rome, or of Rome as a test of Catholic Communion, there would be a problem about using una cum papa nostro N to name the local bishop, as Winch and others suggest, unless they really are willing to assert that communio with their local bishop is ecclesiologically an essential marker of Catholic Communion.

But then, wouldn't you expect there to be some problem about using a a text crafted in Rome, in an ecclesial context out of communion with the Roman See?

(I would prefer any comments to engage with Eizenhofer's paper rather than with my summarising.)

11 May 2015


I have a number of academic and other matters on which I must spend some time.

I will continue, Deo volente, to make a daily comment on this blog; but I do not think I shall have much time to check through comments. Nor shall I be able to deal individually with a lot of the greatly increasing number of emails I receive.

I apologise, therefore, for what is likely to seem a discourtesy. I am not sure when I can undertake to return to giving my computer the amount of attention it has been getting for the last year or two; I hope soon.

A week or ten days, perhaps? I will let you know.

7 May 2015

Lords Spiritual

Election day ... one recalls the old bewhiskered jokes: "Sunshine until 5.00 p.m., followed by torrential rain, would be worth 30 marginals to the Conservative Party." The Irish maxim: "Vote early, Vote often". More contributions?

A friend raises the question of Mitred Abbots in our House of Lords. The Abbey of Ampleforth convinced the College of Heralds that it was the lawful successor body of Westminster (the last survivor of the Marian community under Abbot Feckenham having formally conveyed the rights of his House to an exiled English Benedictine community) and therefore entitled to use its Arms. The House of Lords traditionally had much experience of calling titles which had been dormant for centuries out of their dormancy. Could it reinstate Westminster/Ampleforth? What is the difference between Dormancy and Abeyance? Were the mitred Abbots ever legislated out of Parliament, or was it simply assumed that, since after 1559 there weren't any, they need not be noticed in statutes? I bet somebody out there knows.

6 May 2015


I provide a thread for a friend to raise some interesting questions.

5 May 2015


There is a myth which is endlessly repeated ... I groan every time I read it ... about the liturgical reforms of S Pius V. It goes like this:

(1) He wished to standardise and centralise. So he ordered everybody to use his new edition of the Roman Missal (but he did permit those with rites more than 200 years old to keep them).

This is pretty well the opposite of what his legislation ordered. He:

(2) Ordered those with such old rites to keep them. But, if they positively wanted to adopt his new edition instead, he permitted them to adopt it AS LONG AS THE BISHOP AND THE UNANIMOUS CHAPTER WERE IN AGREEMENT.

If you don't want to believe me, I suggest you read the actual TEXT of Quo primum yourself and find out. DO NOT READ SOMEBODY'S SUMMARY OF THE BULL, BECAUSE THAT WILL (almost certainly) JUST TELL YOU THE MYTH.

If you want more detail, with a fuller account of the liturgical context in the middle years of the sixteenth century, you will find a much longer explanation on my blog, 6 December 2014.

I sha'n't enable comments which show no signs of the writer having read the bull or of reading my piece from last December and simply splutter at me; or disdainful comments which tell me that I'm just splitting hairs. If you can't see the immensely profound difference between (1) and (2), it's not worth having a discussion.

3 May 2015

Those May festivals again

I have noticed in the Angelus Press ORDO that the Masses of the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3), S John before the Latin Gate (May 6), and the Apparition of S Michael (May 8), may be said as IV class festal Masses because they are included by the 1962 Missal in its Appendix. I presume this information is accurate, and commend it to those whom it may concern. (Let's have no pedantry here: any pick-axe to break the pack-ice is to grabbed with both hands.)

This Appendix appears to have some parallelism with the provision by the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary of the texts which follow the Praefatiuncula Hucusque ( ... illa collegimus, in quibus, cui animo sedent, potest repperire)! Similarly, after S Pius X had shifted onto fixed days of the month all those festivals which earlier devotional habits had plonked onto fixed Sundays, ORDOs continued to offer some relief from this now-fashionable austerity: "Hodie celebrari potest unica Missa Sanctissimi Nominis Mariae", or even "Hodie celebrari possunt omnes Missae (praeter Conventualem) Sacratissimi Rosarii BMV" (check this out in your St Lawrence Press ORDO). It is a shame that the merciless, ruthless, singleminded revisers of the period Pius XII-Paul VI were so sure of themselves and had so little humanity, so little respect for the inculturated pieties and affections of ordinary clerics and laics. What an unprecedented rupure they did insist upon!

I do not possess a copy of the 1962 Missal; I would be genuinely grateful if readers who do have one could keep me posted about little matters of interest, such as this Appendix, which I might have missed.