31 October 2015

Lay Power

Two things have struck me about the last month; the first is: how much of the fury about the Synodal fixings has been expressed by laymen and laywomen. You may think this is because presbyters are often nervous about putting their heads above parapets; I have heard the view that bishops in the Catholic Church have more ways of bringing pressure to bear on clergy they dislike than do the poor toothless old dears who discharge episkope in the C of E. Possibly; but I am more inclined to think it is because orthodox and traditionalist movements in the Catholic Church are so very substantially lay-run and lay-dominated. Rather like the lay Wardens and Brethren of the great Medieval Guilds, they are the powerful people who call upon clergy to do for them the essential things that only clergy can do ... and, like old-style fags grateful to be noticed by the Bloods of the Upper Sixth, we tug our forelocks and jump to it. They are very much in the driving seat. It is in the more liberal corners of the 'mainstream' that naked, unreformed clericalism still flourishes and members of the plebs sancta Dei are bossed around by any ignorant clerical know-all who gets his kicks out of endlessly misinforming them about "the Council".

The other thing I have noticed is that the natural and splendid and time-honoured Catholic instinct to avoid saying critical or disrespectful things about the man who is Sovereign Pontiff is increasingly wearing thinner and thinner. This, I think, is largely because so many of us, clergy and layfolk, bloggers and blogreaders, simply do not know how to understand and interpret the endlessly unkind expressions which flow from the os Petri. Especially after the gentle courtesy and personal charm of Pope Benedict, the predictable condemnations and the merciless language in which Pope Francis' views are couched are so difficult to gloss. Is it simply that this is Latin American culture? Is it because in Argentina nobody listens to what you say unless you give them a good kicking first? Is it something about the particular psychology or even the physiology of this Successor of S Peter? Has Jesuitry got anything to do with it? Does he expect us to be cowed by his words or is he 'up for' us to reply in kind, tit for tat, insult for insult, with lots of jolly and good-humoured knock-about fun? All the stuff about parrhesia ... does he mean it, or is it just code for "If you're in agreement with me I expect you to talk loud and to talk often. Oh, and by the way, if you aren't, well, I am the pope and I've got your card marked already."?

We cannot know how much longer le bon Dieu will permit this hermeneutically unfathomable pontificate to last. But it is surely clear that we are going to need very much more than the usual ration of daily grace to get through it. Come, Holy Ghost ...

Consolator alme, veni,
linguas rege, corda leni;
nihil fellis aut veneni
     sub tua praesentia.

30 October 2015

The Ordinariates and the Knockwurst theologians

I thought you might be amused by this diverting little doctrinal Speculation ...

 ... when the Ordinariates were set up, they were specifically given, as their doctrinal standard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (I've often wondered why Benedict XVI did this; perhaps it's because he ... no; forget it: I'll just get on with my first Speculation.)

I have, in previous posts, manfully defended our present Holy Father against the unworthy accusation made by Knockwurst theologians that he supports their desire to admit to Communion those living in unrepented Adultery. But if ... per impossibile ... just take this as an amusing piece of Scifi or contrafactual fantasy ... some future pope ... Clement XXV, or even the XXVIth, let's say ... were to go down the garden path hand in hand with Cardinals Marx and Kasper, were to set aside the Magisterium of S John Paul II (see Familiaris consortio), and were to sanction this sacrilege ...

 ... would this lead to a situation of Impaired Communion with the Ordinariates? Because, of course, the CCC (paragraph 1650) specifically forbids the reception of Holy Communion by 'remarried' divorcees ( ...ad eucharisticam Communionem accedere non possunt ...). Obviously, we couldn't decently be asked to subvert the doctrinal understanding and basis upon which we entered into Full Communion. We all signed on the Dotted Line, as we were required to. As some people chose very offensively chose to put it, being misogynist was not in itself enough for admission to the Catholic Church. Nor could admission (we were equally offensively told) be on the basis of A la Carte; it had to be Table d'hote. Presumably we would be honourable enough to stick with this, even if some of the diocesan structures around us were to ... er ... I'm not quite sure how to put this ...

Perhaps, in this totally and gloriously impossible scenario, we would subsequently be joined by flocks and flocks of orthodox cradle Catholics flooding into our happy little orthodox enclaves, and learning to enjoy our splendid Liturgy.

A lovely idea. But, of course, a complete doctrinal impossibility. Pope Francis has made it totally clear that, as a Son of the Church, he is bound to the Church's teaching and would never change it, and every succeeding pope will be just as fully and satisfactorily bound as he is. After all, there would be something very odd if Clement XXV were to set aside the Post-Synodal Exhortations of his predecessors S John Paul II (Familiaris consortio) and S Benedict XVI (Sacramentum caritatis), and, mysteriously, expect people to take a Post-Synodal Exhortation of his own as anything other than a joke in distinctly poor taste. I'm sure he, and his successor Innocent XXV, will be much too attached to the Principle of Non-Contradiction to do anything remotely like that.

29 October 2015


For some reason, my computer is behaving erratically; I have recently dealt 'at the hand-gallop'* with 30 or 40 submitted comments. I apologise if, by accident, I have deleted comments deserving to be allowed.

I have deleted some comments which appeared to me to be suggested by a sedevacantist mindset. Sedevacantism is the purest nonsense. Nor will I allow any comments on the Sovereign Pontiff our Holy Father Pope Francis which seem to me to go beyond the limits of Fair Comment.

One comment I deleted because, in two lines, it contained two typos. If you are too busy and important, after dashing off your opinions in a couple of lines, to check them, then please don't bother with my blog.

*Dryden commenting on Ovid's hexameters. 


I read somewhere recently ... it may have been in one of the reviews of the current London exhibition on the 'Celts' ...  that the eighteenth century Scotch forgery The Poems of Ossian (through which Dr Johnson so memorably saw: "But Dr Johnson: could any man have forged such sublime poetry?" "Yes, Sir; any man ... and any woman ... and any child ... "), was credulously praised as some of the greatest literature ever written, by Napoleon and Jefferson and by quite a lot of other easily duped fools.

Napoleon I have heard of, because I have visited, and, by kind permission of Father Abbot, said Mass in the splendid Church at Farnborough Abbey where members of his family are buried. I have even enjoyed a biography of the Empress Eugenie, his relative by marriage, and admired some of the superb benefactions she made to cathedrals and churches.

I gather Napoleon himself, however, was an opinionated foreigner, self-absorbed, who fancied himself enough to compose 'Constitutions' which expressed what his admirers considered his greatness as a political philosopher; who created problems from which the world is still suffering. I gather he was sexually incontinent and made himself unpleasant to Catholic clergy.

But who is this Jefferson?

28 October 2015

Thought For the Day

Cardinal Marx, about those who stood up to him in the Synod of 2014:
"It is incomprehensible how the Synod Fathers are more bound to Tradition than to the Pope".

27 October 2015

What if the Pope were to ...

People sometimes do me the honour of sharing their fears with me. May I make it clear that I would be very very very surprised indeed  ... very very very very surprised ... if not more so ... if the Holy Father were to contradict the doctrinal Magisterium of his predecessors. My advice, as always, is: DON'T PANIC!! Not now, not ever.

But I will offer a logical  reflection.

It is based on the widely accepted dogma that if you chop through the bough that you yourself are sitting on, something called Gravitation will draw you with increasing velocity in the general direction of Planet Earth.

If Pope Clement XXV were to rubbish the doctrinal Magisterium of Pope Innocent XXV, he would automatically and authoritatively imply the rubbishing of his own doctrinal Magisterium. Despite the fawning rhetoric we hear in each Pontificate (what Robert Mickens has suitably termed Papolatry), no pope has more doctrinal Magisterial authority than any previous pope. So what a pope says or implies about the authority of a previous pope, he ineluctably says or implies about his own.

If Pope Clement XXV contradicts a binding doctrinal proposition authoritatively taught by Pope Innocent XXV, he ipso facto and by virtue of the principle of non-contradiction teaches that doctrinal propositions he himself authoritatively puts forward have no binding authority.

If Clement XXV denies the binding force of doctrine taught in an Encyclical of Innocent XXV, he implicitly denies the binding force of doctrine taught in his own Encyclicals. Ditto, a motu proprio. Ditto, an Apostolic Constitution. Ditto, a post-Synodal Exhortation (such as Familiaris consortio; and Sacramentum Caritatis of 2007). Et cetera et cetera all along the line.

So nobody has anything to worry about. Just to put things at the most rock-bottom and earthy level: no pope in his right mind is going to be stupid enough to cut through the bough that he is himself sitting on. Pope Francis made this abundantly clear in his remarks about how, as a loyal Son of the Church, he had no authority to set aside the teaching of S John Paul II about the purported ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries.

And, just as no pope has any more doctrinal authority than any of his predecessors, so no pope has any more authority than his successors. Now: keep your eye on Archbishop Fernandez. He's one of our Holy Father's main buddies. He's one of these extremist ultrahyperultrapapalists I keep warning you about (he is on record as criticising Traditionalists on the ground that "they seem not to have faith in the special assistance of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised the Pope"; compare that with what Vatican I actually said about the exact, precise, limited reasons why the Holy Spirit was promised to the Successors of S Peter). This Fernandez chappie has revealed what he says is Papa Bergoglio's plan to make changes in the Church that will be "irreversible". But, believe me, prescinding from irreformable dogmatic definitions, what one pope does can be 'reversed' by a successor and often is. Clio shares this view.

The next pontificate may very well be as different from this one as this one is from the last one. Those who explain how much better this one is than the last one was will not be well placed logically to criticise the next one for being even better.

Three cheers for the best pontificate ever!!! 3x3 cheers for the next and even better one!!!

26 October 2015

This time, Peripheries without Irony

One Synod Father has said "We can't leave people dangling in the air and in limbo. The Lord loves us all and we need to find a way of embracing everyone". Just checking, Bishop: by 'embracing everyone' you do include embracing paedophile priests, don't you?

Another Synod Father has said "The Synod would have been enriched if the Synod Fathers had listened to same-sex couples". Just checking, Cardinal: you do think it would have been enriched by also listening to paedophile priests?

Paragraph 85 of the Synod's Final Report (which only jumped over the necessary hurdle by one vote) ... you can see it on Rorate. I invite you to look at the section about the reduced imputability of sin in cases where the sinner can't really help it. And ask yourself: "I wonder if the Fathers intended that to apply to paedophile priests?"


(1) The old mantra was: Hate the sin, love Mr X the Sinner.

(2) My test questions: Granted that you hate Paedophilia, do you love the Paedophile Fr Y?    

(3) I ask this to test my awkward feeling that (1) has now gone dead out of fashion and has been actually replaced in some minds by:  
                     Don't talk to me about Sin; I just love Mr X without going into all that.
So, you won't condemn Adultery or Sodomy; at least, not if their perpetrators are Nice people living in an overtly attractive pseudo-Marriage.

So my question to a Cupich, a Doyle, a Gracias would be: Does your impressively pastoral language really apply everyone? To Fr Y the Paedophile? Or is the reality of your position that you are unwilling to use the terminology of Sin to describe some Adulterers and Sodomites because you do not really and viscerally feel that their conduct is sinful; whereas, with regard to Fr Y, you do still regard Paedophilia as a Sin, because you sense within yourself a gut revulsion?

And my comment would be: dialogue with your position would be easier if you avoided the vague and kindly woffle and simply spoke frankly about what you do still regard as sinful, and why. Then Catholics on each side of this divide could have a look at Veritatis Splendor (especially, for example, Paragraph 80), and could perhaps discuss intelligently with each other which bits of it they accept, which they deny, and why.

When the Lord spoke about His Father's mercy extending to 'tax-collectors and prostitutes', my understanding is that he chose categories normally seen as beyond the pale, as being on the ultimate ethical periphery. What I think needs to be tested is whether modern pastors, claiming to be garbed in His mantle of Mercy, actually do extend His Mercy to a category of humans still by most people held in unqualified detestation, our modern ultimate periphery. That is why I keep bringing in paedophiles.

25 October 2015

Blessed John Henry Newman and Knockwurst Theology

An interview between the Father Rosica who is so very interested in the plight of homosexuals, and  Vincent Cardinal Nichols, in which His Eminence showed all the charm and skill with which he invariably handles 'the Press'. In the course of it, I was intrigued to learn that there had been several references to Blessed John Henry during the Synod. The interview also seemed to me to reveal that the focus of interest had been on the Blessed's writing about Development. Even on the slight evidence provided, I think there are grounds for anxiety that there may have been a suggestio falsi involved in the way in which Newman was 'used' at the Synod.

Some of the Synodal Fathers appear to hope that 'development' might be a useful way of squaring the circle; of smuggling change in under the guise of development. 

I have two comments to make about Newman; facets of his life and thought which nobody could have guessed from that 25-minute interview. I will keep my remarks as simple as I can in the hope that this will enhance their intelligibility.

(1) Newman did not write a thesis discussing how Catholic Dogma might in the future develop in such a way as to become, to all intents and purposes, changed. He wrote as an Anglican who was on the cusp of accepting the entire Magisterium and submitting to it; so he performed a detailed survey of Catholic Dogma as (then) finalised by Trent, and by so doing demonstrated historically to himself the authenticity of it as a development, without rupture, of the Faith committed to the Apostles. His text is retrospective rather than prospective; and unfinished because at the point at which he reached his positive conclusion, he put his pen down and submitted without qualifications to what the Catholic Church taught and teaches.

(2) Newman detested Liberalism and declared that his entire life, both as an Anglican and as a Catholic, had been spent fighting against it. He loathed with every fibre of his being the proposition that there is no objective and intrinsic Truth. If he had been faced with the Knockwurst Theology currently being touted around ... ubi farcimina sua ponerent absque dubio monuisset.

24 October 2015

Check it?

Fr Zed gives information about an online version of the Liturgia Horarum in Latin. I am intrigued to know if anyone has tidied up the endless errors and misprints in the 1986 version I possess. Here is an easy way of checking. Cathedra Petri, February 22, occurs both in volume II and III for obvious reasons. In 1986, in Volume II, a line is missed out of the Patristic reading from S Leo, rendering the end of the first paragraph unintelligible gibberish. In Volume II, the missing line remains in the text.

I would be very interested if someone could check that for me! I am, in both senses of the term, curious!

Byzantium to the rescue

There is something worthy of comment in the fact that, during the Synod, two of the clearest Catholic voices have come from Byzantine Christians: from a Romanian woman in full communion with the See of S Peter; and from a Russian Metropolitan who, most sadly, is not in full communion. And there have indeed been comments! I will not duplicate them.

I would simply like to point out the dog which did not bark in Metropolitan Hilarion's night ... what he did not say.

At the beginning of this ghastly mess, Orthodox Marriage praxis was cited as something Catholics should have a new look at. Indeed, Orthodox Oikonomia was set before us as being an expression of the Mercy of God. Metropolitan Hilarion might, therefore, have slipped into his address, somewhere, a sly hint of Orthodox triumphalism ... "How gratifying that you Latins are coming round to our Orthodox way of thinking".

Not a whisker of it.

His address was a straightforward act of support for those Catholics who uphold the witness of the Gospel against the corruptions of the World, the Flesh, and the Zeitgeist. It was an unambiguous condemnation of the Spirit of Apostasy, the Spirit of the Antichrist, which has infected some Latin bishops. Of the Smoke of Satan which Blessed Pope Paul VI detected as having entered the Temple of God. Just think what a cruel disappointment Hilarion's words must have been to the heterodox delegates in the synodal aula! I bet it quite put them off their Knockwurst!

May the Lord remember his Episcopate in His Kingdom. And I hope that faithful orthodox Catholics will not forget this moment and its significance.

And I have a strange premonition that in the next pontificate the Sovereign Pontiff will be that weeny bit less anxious to persuade the Bishop of Second Rome to bless him; and a tadge keener to be photographed with the Patriarch of Moskow and of All the Russias!

Yes, I know there are problems ... but all the same ...

S Edmund Campion, Priest and Martyr

Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me so generously. The first person to do so was the person whom I begged, of her kindness, to send me the book. I am very grateful; it is well worth reading. I haven't finished it yet: but these things strike me: Kilroy has painstakingly reconstructed what the London bookselling quarter was like in the years Campion grew up there ... and, likewise, the Oxford and the Prague that the Saint knew. If you weren't particularly intersed in S Edmund but in those vignettes, you would like the book. The author has also dug up a lot of hitherto unknown archival material. Kilroy is also a Latinist, so he not only gives accurate translations from the Latin but also understands S Edmund's allusions to classical literature ... you just wouldn't believe how many writers think they know Latin but don't and how painful it is to read their books. And the authors are allegedly academics, and the books emerge from respectable academic printing houses.

I have taken the liberty of noting the email addresses of those whose immensely kind offers I did not take up in the hope that they will not feel that I am both arrogant and grasping if I get in touch with them about another book which I feel would help me. But do remember (Mr A T!) that you need to send me your email address.

23 October 2015


There is a major exhibition in the British Museum about 'Celtic'. I haven't been yet, but I gather from the reviews that it is really about the instability of the way the term 'Celtic' has been used, particularly since, around the year 1700, its present connotations were invented. The book accompanying the Exhibition describes its purpose as being to trace the use of a label; and elegantly suggests that the term 'Celtic' was in fact used to define people seen as 'other', either by outsiders (such as the Romans) or (more recently) by themselves (as modern-day 'Celts' identify themselves under this name and club together in a desire to show how different they are from the rest of us). Readers will probably be aware that an academic study last summer of DNA in the British Isles Atlantic Archipelago yielded no evidence for a common 'racial' fingerprint in the 'Celtic fringes' distinguishing them from the other populations of these islands.

I repeat below a passage which I included in my ORDO in 2007:

Remember those happy heady days when 'Orthodoxy' was the 'sexy' version of Christianity? Eastern Christianity had more romance and less menace and 'rigidity' than Rome ... because it came from further away. Sadly, when we got to know them better, we discovered that the Orthodox were, if anything, distinctly more 'rigid' than Rome, particularly on questions like 'Intercommunion'.

Now, the 'sexy' religious 'thinggy' is 'Celtic'; religious bookshops flaunt sections on 'Celtic' Spirituality and 'Celtic' Prayer. It's safer than Orthodoxy because it's in an even more distant country called 'The Past', so we can all invent our own 'Celtic Christianities' without any risk that some terribly combative Saint like S Columba, or those Irish monks who spread holy hassle all over Europe, will rise from their graves and beat us up. If you are tempted to buy such books, check them out carefully. Does the 'Compiler' give actual sources for his/her material? Is he/she scholarly?

Historians have decisively abandoned the concept of the 'Celtic', and especially of a supposedly distinctive 'Celtic Church'. In the most recent major scholarly work on this subject, Professor Charles-Edwards' Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000), the distinguished author writes dismissively of 'that entity - beloved of modern sectarians and romantics but unknown to the early Middle Ages - "the Celtic Church"', and surveys in a footnote the scholarly work of the last thirty years which has established this.

If the 'Celtic' enthusiasts were serious, there is a Mass-rite they could revive. The earliest surviving Missal from these islands is the 'Stowe Missal', from the 790s [but copied from texts older than the reforms of S Gregory the Great] and of Southern Irish origin. Its Eucharistic Prayer is almost entirely identical with the current Roman 'First Eucharistic Prayer' except that it includes rather more Saints and describes the Pope as 'thy most blessed servant N our Pope, Bishop of the Apostolic See'. And it has a nice Prayer of Humble Access with phrases like 'I am unworthy because I filthily adhere to the mire of dung and all my good deeds are like a rag used by a menstrual woman'.

Splendid 'Celtic' stuff, mystical and uplifting!

Since writing that, I have noticed one attempt to breathe new life into 'Celtic', although not at all along the lines of the books I reprobated in this piece; and I believe there are groups which have experimented with the Stowe Missal. Fair enough; my only quarrel is with people who simply manufacture stuff themselves, sometimes of an in-tune-with-nature or down-with-Roman-dogma-and-legalism type, and slyly claim that it is 'in the Celtic Spirit'.

22 October 2015

Good News

Amidst all the hot air and rubbish blowing around, it is worth reading Metropolitan Hilarion's superb address to the Synod; and a translation on Rorate of a piece by Professor de Mattei.

Ultraultraultramontanist ultraultraultrapapalists again

Some Cardinal called Wuerl has said "There are always people who are unhappy about what is going on in the Church, but the touchstone of authentic Catholicism is adherence to the teaching of the Pope". Sounds good; sounds obvious. But ....

Note that he says, not popes, but pope. So he must mean just the Pope, the present Pope, the pope-for-the-time-being. And note that he can't just mean "the ex cathedra teaching of the Pope", because in that case his words would mean nothing since Bergoglio has defined nothing and it is questionable, to put it mildly, whether Evangelii gaudium and Laudato si are in any sense Magisterial.

So, when a pontificate follows a pontificate, this strange man clears his mind of the teaching of all the previous popes (except possibly when ex cathedra), so as to have a tabula rasa upon which to inscribe whatever idiosyncrasies and obiter opinions the new pope turns out to possess. And this is what he is recommending to the rest of us. Have I got that right?

I find myself wondering how these rabid ultra-extreme fundamentalist papalists imagine their pronouncements must sound to non-Catholics. Do they seriously imagine that Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox are likely to be attracted to the idea of a Papacy in which every whimsy of the current occupant of the See of S Peter has to be swallowed without question, otherwise one has abandoned the 'touchstone' of 'authentic' doctrine? Furthermore: one of the Anglophone circuli reported that 'one bishop' claimed that "the pope can, in effect, twist the hands of God". Oh yeah? Have you tried that crazy idea out on your local Presbyterians and Baptists? And are you absolutely sure you would still believe it yourself if some future ultra-regressive pope started 'binding' all sorts of things you yourself didn't think ought to be bound?

Do these dubious papal extremists have no respect for the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Creeds, the Councils, the Tradition, the (plural) Popes? Are they completely indifferent to our partners in ecumenical dialogue?

Would it be cynical to suspect that the Wuerl Dogma is a convenient and plausible mantra to shout from the rooftops so as to shut other people up when one agrees with a pope, but a principle one quietly buries if one doesn't?

19 October 2015


... et ut apparet faceta magistraque scholarum horis suis longis et otiosis (ego quoque puerorum formatoris mores bene cognovi) usa est in contemplando Annales istos Claudianos, quorum partem in suo blogo inseruit lingua Lusitana venuste confectam. 'Rex' ibi 'Lignum' in stagnis morari visus est haec perpetuo iterans "Quaecumque venena in luto latent gignantur et prodeant". Quod iocosa femina ad Patres Synodales et ad Vicarium ipsum Petri referre videtur!!!!! Ecce quae in oppido Margate nuncupato dicuntur! Culpo Parochum qui talia non vetuit, qui neglegentia sua etc.etc..


The admirable blog Rorate recently translated the phrase totius fides Ecclesiae as The whole Faith of the Church. Actually, it means The Faith of the whole Church.

18 October 2015

The Canonisations

I watched the video of this morning's canonisations and thought what a marvellous occasion it was. The canonisation of a married couple together ... I think it said more about Marriage than all the hot air in and around the Synodal aula.

All very decently done. The Holy Father ... like me ... is not very confident about liturgical chant, but he did sing at least the eirene pasin; and I'm pretty sure that the oscula solita occurred, although the cameras were some distance away. I refer of course here to the rites of the Greek Gospel. Nice to see it happening, by the way: there was, I think I recall, one little blip months ago when the Double Gospel at Solemn Papal Liturgies was reduced to just one. The Double Gospel says so much about the universality of the Church and the parity of esteem between the two lungs of the Church. I speak open to correction ... but isn't it one of the few survivals from the old ritual of the Solemn Papal Mass? Anyway, eis polla ete Despota.

There was the now usual participation of laypeople at the Intercession, where a very cheerful woman with a comfortable English accent looked spectacular in a distinctly jolly mantilla; and at the Offertory. I thought our beloved Holy Father looked rather solemn as he received the oblata; Pope Benedict used to give each of the laity concerned a friendly little chat and several renderings of his shy and engaging smile; this morning, from Pope Francis, they got simply a formal handshake and a quick grin. The Roman Pontiff, of course, faced East throughout the Liturgy, and censed the oblata with the cross and the circular movements of the thurible, much as in the Extraordinary Form.

The assisting presbyters wore chasubles and, I therefore presume, concelebrated. Is this now customary? I know many Traditionalists dislike all concelebration, but, as Eric Mascal pointed out, the ethos of Private Masses, and that of Concelebration, do both point to the principle that a priest at Mass should behave like a priest. And, in the Tradition, concelebrating with a Pontiff finds much more support than an all-presbyter concelebration. Some of the clergy administered the Blessed Sacrament into the mouths of the People, even when individuals offered their hands; others, not. I was glad to see the Host being administered to two of the Swiss Guards: I've sometimes felt uneasy in the past that they appeared to be behaving, and being treated, as soldiers on duty rather than as part of the plebs sancta Dei. If this is a 'Franciscan' reform, I'm all for it.

The double canonisation has so much, surely, to say to the world of 2015. It points both to Continence and to Fertility: the two saints at first lived in perfect Continence and then, on the advice of a confessor, converted their relationship to what S John Paul II called Generous Fruitfulness, resulting in nine daughters (quelle richesse!). Nowadays, so many people seem to be ready for neither Continence nor Fertility! And there was a great deal  of the Good Wife of Proverbs 31 in S Zelie: she was a robust and no-nonsense woman; her tightly managed domestic industry and her very strong business sense led to considerable economic success ... and quite eclipsed her husband's trade! 

Why is it that Mills-and-Boon romantic tear-jerkers are read by girls, and yet, for actual soppy real-life sentimentality, chaps are the all-time winners? Take some of the Sad Stories being recounted by the liberal synodal Fathers to make each other weepy, like the one about a little boy at First Communion sharing the Host with his divorced and remarried father ... I don't think I can imagine any of my own innumerable womenfolk sobbing into their hankies about such tales.


One immense advantage of this enormously entertaining Synod is that it enables us to find out what each of the Purpled Fathers is really like. They no longer have the luxury of hiding behind protocol and good manners. Nor do they appear to have the old diplomatic assumption among Catholic hierarchs that One doesn't rock the boat. It's like a beauty contest in which people parade before us and we have to decide which of them we would vote for to be Miss Urbi et Orbi.

Personally, I've backed Mueller for a long time, and still do: his erudition and his very decorous behaviour set him rather apart from many of his colleagues. But a second German theologian so soon after Ratzinger might be too much for some of the Cardinal Electors. So then, surely, it has to be Sarah that all right-thinking chaps in the Conclave will be voting for? I bet Gamarelli has already got his measurements. Curial experience ... has ideas on Liturgy ... is obviously a Catholic ... Melchiades II, perhaps, after the last African Pope?

And, if it really is true that we are heading for the Second Great Western Schism, who are the Antipapabili who will strut their stuff in the St Gallen Anticonclave? Will the successful candidate call himself Martinus VI as a gesture to the imminent 500th anniversary of the Great Disaster?

17 October 2015

They have uncrowned him!

Auspiciously, the current Synod ends on the Feast of Christ the King, October 25. Many readers may be inclined to revisit Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title, as their preparation for the customary Dedication of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart on that day. If, however, you feel like reading a quite different writer on this same crucially important question of the Social Rule of Christ, you might be rather impressed by some passages from a presbyterian bishop (yes!) called Leslie Newbigin. You will find quotations on the blog CultureWatch for 9 October this year. (Thanks to Professor Tighe for this.)

15 October 2015

Marvellous Margate and Fantastic Father Finigan

Dreamland!! The pictures on the internet of Margate's newest restored, retro, attraction remind me of an exotic combination of Clacton-on-sea as it was when I grew up there in the 1950s; and the St Giles Fair which happens in Oxford in September each year but is not in the least what it used to be. As I listened to the account from Margate on the Home Service, I recalled Prebendary Hooper setting out from Mags in Oxford in the 1960s with his aspersorium to bless the Giler as it started on the Monday. And a natural train of thought led me to a fantastical vision of Fr Tim charging round the newly renovated newly opened highly retro Dreamland at Margate, his cotta flying in the sea wind and with his retro Rituale Romanum in hand and a server clanking the Holy Water bucket. "Over 'ere, Favver!" the retro Cockney stall-holders will have been shouting. "Give us so' more 'oly Wa:er!!"

Ah, the seaside. I bet they don't have seasides in America. Or Cockneys. Or retro. Or Father Finigan.

Fr Ed Tomlinson ...

... my brother priest in the Ordinariate, has written a splendid piece on his blog, redolent of the sense of impotent and puzzled fury which many ordinary clergy are clearly feeling. He is manifestly right in his views about 'Crisis'; and I doubt if he is the only one left wondering about the character and motives of the man who currently occupies the Chair of S Peter.

A practical point: does anybody know what the representatives of the English Bishops have been saying in the Synod? If so, I would be glad to be given a pointer. If not, then, like Fr Ed, I think I do rather resent the clericalist and prelatical attitudes implicit in this veil of secrecy, just a weeny bit. 
UPDATE No, I do not think that the answer (Parrhesia - Amnesia) offered by the former Vicar of Lewisham (Ignatiushisconclave blog) is an adequate response. But where did he get the lovely photograph from?

But more broadly: we do have the Lord's guarantee that His Church cannot fail. So we should not panic. Not now, not ever. But God works through us humans, not in some magical airy-fairy, nothing-to-do-with-human-activity, ab extra sort of way. He works through what we do. Synergy. In other words, our confidence in the indefectibility of the Church does not absolve us from doing. This is not the time to be Quietists.

And, finally, a self-important speculation. As I have been suggesting for some days, the disorders we see coming to the surface in the Catholic Church are precisely the disorders which we witnessed and struggled with in the Church of England. We know from whom all this comes, because his fingerprints are all over it. And we know where he intends it all to lead. Can it be that the Ordinariates happened when they did in God's Providence precisely so that we are here, now, to bear our witness? Perhaps we should take, as an Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Newman's advice
"God has created us to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to us which He has not committed to another."

13 October 2015

MORE BORING been there and done that

 (1) Some daft Canadian Archbishop wants women deacons. That is how, in Anglicanism, people were softened up for women priests. Just get the laity accustomed to seeing women in clerical collars and vestments.
(2) That poisonous fellow Rosica, whose duties seem to include telling the Synod Fathers what they should think, says that the admission of the remarried divorced to Communion should be decided regionally. As Anglicans, our technical term for this was Provincial Autonomy. It's a brilliant way of perverting the Faith ... you get some perversion started in one place and then you rely on a combination of bullying and creep to spread it. See now Father Zed on this point. It is in many ways the crucial issue. Notwithstanding a CDF document Apostolos suos of S John Paul's pontificate, Papa Bergoglio has already talked about giving Episcopal Conferences doctrinal status. 
(3) In the C of E, our synod had a two thirds majority rule for all resolutions involving Doctrine. This kept Women's 'ordination' at bay for some decades. BUT as soon as a resolution gets that majority, you then need a two thirds majority to overturn it and to return to Tradition!! Papa Bergoglio's Synod has the same rule about a two thirds majority. BUT in the last Synod he ordered paragraphs to stand which had only secured a simple majority. So, in this year's Synod, these same paragraphs now need two thirds majorities to overturn them!!

Can the Devil really think he can get away with these games in the Catholic Church when the evidence of what it all leads to is so obviously displayed to view in Anglicanism? But he seems to, and he has a history of success.


When you get your copy of THE GREAT FACADE with its hundreds of new pages by Chris Ferrara, you're most likely to turn to the up-to-the-minute relevant chapters at the end. With such a book, ones instinct can be to read it from the back ... as if it were Hebrew ... But, if you haven't 'done' the original 2002 chapters, you might miss one of their important themes. It is Chris Ferrara's dispute with the people he calls 'neo-Catholics'. Neo-Catholicism "is the idea that with the advent of the Second Vatican Council a new sort of orthodoxy suddenly arose in the Church - an orthodoxy stripped of any link to ecclesiastical traditions once considered an untouchable sacred trust. It is the idea that by virtue of Vatican II the Church has, in some manner never clearly explained, progressed beyond what she was before the Council to a new mode of existence, and that this progression requires an assent on the part of the faithful that is somehow different from the assent required to the constant teaching of all the previous councils and popes ... in essence, whatever the Pope says or does in the exercise of his office is ipso facto 'traditional' and incontestable by the Pope's subjects."

Neo-Catholicism often has an attractive face. The producers of the bulletin Adoremus resist the banalisation of the Ordinary Form and its corruption by clergy who ignore its rubrics and introduce illegal vulgarities. They would (like George Wegel) praise S John Paul II for what he may have achieved by way of resoration. They can, indeed, be seen as a bulwark against those who would drag the Church further to the 'left'. I recognise it as very much what we, the incoming Ordinariate clergy, received as 'priestly formation'. It was heavily based upon the scrutiny of the documents of Vatican II and the formally Magisterial documents of S John Paul II. The Scriptures, the Fathers, S Thomas, Trent, Vatican I, the documents of the popes between B Pius IX and S John XXIII, either were conspicuous by their absence or were glimpsed only through the prism of the Council and the conciliar Popes. But, for those of us who had imbibed (what Cardinal Manning condemned when he thought he discerned it in Newman) the old Oxford, literary, Patristic tone, it seemed an alien world. I kept my head down ... except when a particular lecturer accused a doctrine contained in one of Blessed John Henry Newman's favourite texts, the 'Athanasian Creed', of being "heretical".

The Great Facade enjoyably exposes the problems to which neo-Catholics fall victim. They are constantly at risk of finding that a rug ... or quite a lot of rugs ... have been pulled from under their feet. Poor Michael Voris used to do a fantastic job of explaing why the Maundy Thursday footwashing is confined to males. He was fearless in exposing the antics of members of the American episcopate. Until, that is, Papa Bergoglo himself performed what Voris had previously characterised as "a grave abuse" ... when Voris instantly fell silent on the subject. Having been left looking silly as Papa Bergoglio outflanked him on the 'left', he even got left with egg dripping from his face when our Holy Father proceeded to outflank him on the 'right': Voris had dutifully promoted the view that the SSPX are in schism, but was hung out to dry when the Roman Pontiff conceded that its presbyters could validly and licitly absolve, at least during the 'Year of Mercy'.

Yes ... there's a lot of fun in THE GREAT FACADE  The Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church from Vatican II to the Francis Revolution  SECOND EDITION by Christopher A Ferrara and Thomas E Woods, Jr..  Angelico Press. 

12 October 2015


In May this year the Holy Father made some remarks which I found enormously difficult.
"A synod without freedom is not a synod. It is a conference. The synod, instead, is a protected space in which the Holy Spirit can work. And for this reason the persons must be free. This is why I will not allow the things that each one says to be published with name and surname. No, it should not be known who has said it. I have no problem with revealing what has been said, but not who has said it, in such a way that one may feel free to say what one wishes."

Happily, when the final briefing on synodal procedure was given on the Friday before last, it was made clear that each Father would have the right to communicate with the media at his own discretion and on his own responsibility. I trust this means that each Father will speak with parrhesia, not only about his own 'interventions', but also, if he judges it necessary, about what his colleagues have said. It is the duty of a bishop, not only to preach the truth, but to refute and rebuke error.

In order to explain, stage by stage, why I think this embodies a doctrinal point of very considerable importance, let me (1) remind you of a key sentence in the Decrees of the First Vatican Council; "Neque enim Petri successoribus Spiritus Sanctus promissus est, ut eo revelante novam doctrinam patefacerent, sed ut, eo assistente, traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodirent et fideliter exponerent." [The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in order that, by his revelation, they might disclose new teaching, but so that, by his assistance, they might devoutly guard the revelation handed down through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith, and might faithfully set it forth.]

(2) If such restrictions surround the Pope, surely they apply also to bishops. I do not see, having been a papalist all my adult life, how an individual bishop (or even a group of them) can be said to have more power than the Bishop of Rome to "reveal new teaching". I do not believe that Bishop von Bloggs, at this autumn's synod, can claim the revelation, or assistance, of the Holy Spirit, for anything other than the faithful and careful preservation and exposition of the Revelation given once for all to the Apostles and handed down through them and through their successors. The Pope can't, so why should Bishop von Bloggs claim such a power? Who does he think he is?

(3) Bishops may be clever men. They are entitled to be clever men. They are entitled to show their cleverness off to their private chums. But when they speak qua bishops, they have no entitlement to do anything other than to uphold the Deposit of Faith. If they claim the revelation or assistance of the Holy Spirit to advocate what is contrary to the traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum, they blaspheme. And against the Holy Spirit. The frightening Apostolic injunction dokimazete ta pneumata (I John 4:1) applies to them as much as to each one of us: perhaps, more so. The Holy Spirit is not present at the Synod as a sort of osmosis or miasma or ectoplasm floating around and influencing, in a mysterious and imperceptible way, the feelings of the bishops, but in the heart and mouth of the Bishop who can stand up and say "That is not the teaching which I have received from the Apostles", and of the Bishop who can say "Scripture and Holy Tradition teach this".

(4) Why, someone may ask, should they not be entitled to express their views privately and anonymously? Because a bishop acting qua bishop is not a private person. His authority is no greater than yours is or mine, unless he is speaking as a Bishop. And the synod members will have gone to Rome, expenses paid, not qua clever chaps, not qua individuals, at all, but qua bishops. The bishop teaches as the Successor of the Apostles; he teaches qua the Bishop of his See. What he says, he should say as the inheritor of the Apostolic teaching handed down since the foundation of his See, in his own Particular Church. His teaching should be recognisable as the teaching, not of Bishop von Bloggs as an individual, but of the succession of Bishops preceding him in his See. It ought to be publicly recognisable to his own clerics and laics as the teaching, not of von Bloggs only, but of the series episcoporum of the Particular Church which is both his and theirs. This was the crucial point made in the second century by S Irenaeus: the doctrine handed down in Catholic bishoprics all over the world is guaranteed as authentic because it has been asserted by bishop following bishop from the Apostles onwards, openly and in public.

(5) The Holy Father has frequently urged Parrhesia upon his venerable brethren in the Episcopate, and the same word had a prominent place in Cardinal Baldisseri's briefing last Friday. In my humble opinion based upon my own reading, this word means speaking out boldly and courageously without any fear of even the mightiest. It has never occurred to me that it might mean expressing, anonymously behind closed doors, views which, outside the "protected space", one would be afraid to be known to have uttered.

It is thoroughly disgraceful if it is true that a Polish Archbishop was made, a day or two ago, to take off his blog his accounts of what other Fathers had said. Disgraceful ...  Stalinist ... cuiuscumque auctoritate hoc factum sit, in quacumque dignitate constituti.

A bishop is not a distinguished individual; he is episcopus in et cum Ecclesia sua. Episcopacy is not a personal fashion accessory. I can think of few things more disgracefully clericalist, more ecclesiologically corrupt, than bishops meeting privately "in a protected space" in which they believe themselves free to stitch together something which might not be according to the traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum; and to do this without any element of the discipline and responsibility which comes from it being publicly known what each has said. Have their diocesan priests, deacons, and layfolk no rights whatsoever? Is Episcopacy simply a matter of lording it over the flock of Christ (I Peter 5:3) without oneself being answerable to the plebs sancta Dei? I am reminded of what an English poet called Kipling once said to an English Press Baron called Beaverbrook: "Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages". I pray that at least the English bishops at the synod will behave like (and I borrow here a phrase Newman used about his own greatly loved bishop Ullathorne) 'straightforward Englishmen' as well as like Catholic bishops, and publish openly outside the aula whatever they have said privately within it; and comment freely upon what other Fathers have said.

On June 25, 1529, an earlier generation of English bishops, in an exercise of what we might nowadays call Collegiality, was gathered together in court, and a document was read out indicating the adherence of each of them to Henry Tudor's fairly novel conviction that his marriage to Queen Catharine was null and void. All was going so well ... but then the Primate Archbishop Warham reached and read out the name of the Bishop of Rochester. The learned, saintly, and austere figure of John Fisher stood up and testified "That is not my hand or seal".

Warham had, one might suspect, forged the adherence of Fisher in a kindly gesture designed to let him off the hook without too much violence to his conscience. But Collegiality or no Collegiality, King Henry or no King Henry, S John Fisher knew his duty qua bishop. "That is not my hand or seal".  Ultimately, he was to die because of his open and public witness (seven or eight books of it) to what the tradita per Apostolos revelatio seu fidei depositum taught (and still teaches today) about the Indissolubility of Marriage.

He was prepared, with very great parrhesia, to put his name to that teaching, and to do so in public.

11 October 2015

The Transalpine redemptorists ..

... put out  a superb Calendar each year; not just images of fine liturgy but also of the rough, raw island where they pray and work ... and of their work and prayer. You can order it by their blog.

Hot off the Press ...

I advise you to get it now. It is a book which was 'put to bed' only days before the opening of the current Synod, and is absolutely up to the moment. In a month's time, in a year's, five year's time, it will still be a book you will value, and which not sit unvisited upon your bookshelves. You will find it a valuable resource for understanding what has happened to the Church since the Election of Pope Benedict XVI. But get it now ... don't waste an hour ... because you will find it a mind-widening exposition of where we are at this precise moment and how we got here.

The Great Facade  The Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church from Vatican II to the Francis Revolution is its title. But don't get it second hand because you might find yourself getting the First Edition. This is the Second Edition. And, if you already have the First Edition, 2002, don't think 'this will do'. Because the Second Edition has an extra 250 pages, a new book, really, in itself. The First Edition was a collaboration between Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E Woods, Jr.. The second edition has six new long chapters by Ferrara; a New Preface by Ferrara; and a new Foreward by the great John Rao (which will be a sufficient recommendation in itself if you very naturally feel that my commendation is insufficiently weighty). The Publisher is the Angelico Press.

I wanted to get this message out to you fast. I will write again about the book in a day-or-two's time. But ... just for now ... the new chapters are The Benedictine Respite; The Rise of Bergoglianism; Year of the Synod; The Gathering Storm; The regime of Novelty Goes Green ... and Red; and Synod II. There is a degree to which the new chapters are a Palinode ... you will remember that Stesichorus became so unpopular after his poem about the adulterous sex-pot Helen eloping to Troy that he wrote a new poem in which Helen, now chaste and modest, never went anywhere near Troy! The First Edition of this book drew to a conclusion with a less than fulsome judgement upon Cardinal Ratzinger (and especially his Dominus Iesus), and a pessimistic analysis of the state of the Church. In his new chapters, Chris Ferrara, like the great S Augustine in his Retractationes, revises his judgements in the light of events since the end of the Pontificate of S John Paul II. 

Ferrara begins his new chapters with a passage from Cardinal Ratzinger himself (in 1998). It is a passage I was not familiar with when I wrote a recent post about how very improper it is when publishers, even the Vatican Press, put out translations' of major papal documents in which the Nos [We] of the Latin originals is translated as "I". "When the Pope speaks, he does not speak in his own name. For ultimately it does not matter what private theories or opinions he has worked out for himself over the course of time, even if they should be of high intellectual calibre. The Pope does not speak as a private scholar, with his personal 'I', as a soloist, so to speak, on the stage of intellectial history. He speaks in another mode, from the 'We' of the faith of the entire Church, and the first person singular must step behind it. ... Thus in many respects it is not an entirely inconsequential thing to replace the 'We' with 'I'". Nice to be reassured that I was right!

From this starting point, Ferrara details the significance of Papa Ratzinger's historically significant interventions: 'Fixing the False Translations'; the declaration in 2007 that the Mass of Ages had never lawfully been abolished; the lifting of the SSPX excommunications; his teaching about the proper hermeneutic to be applied to Vatican II.

I would have added to this list the implied correction of false styles of Ecumenism implicit in Pope Benedict's erection of the Ordinariates; an Ecumenism of Return was thus put back in place; nuanced with an acceptance of those elements which, by the work of the Holy Spirit, separated Christians had held in their separation. This bold move thus revived the methodology employed when the Ukrainians and the Melkites returned to unity with S Peter in, respectively, 1595 and 1724.

To be continued.

10 October 2015

A Miracle?

Regular readers will be aware that I quite often go into the Ashmolean Museum, England's oldest public museum and part of this University, to commune with that great Pontiff, Papa Lambertini, Pope Benedict XIV. Upstairs, and right along to the furthest room to the West, there he is just inside the door, carved by a very competent anonymous Baroque sculptor, as one of a set of four busts of eighteenth century popes,

Today, he was silent; and then I noticed a tear, a single tear, rolling down from his right eye.

After a few moments of puzzlement, I decided to take a look at the other three Sovereign Pontiffs. Yes! Each of them was clearly lachrymose.

Whatever can this portentous portent portend?

I shall not enable suggestions which are in more than twelve words.

8 October 2015

A splendid occasion, last Saturday, in Westminster Cathedral ...

... to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the priesthood of Mgr Andrew Wadsworth. Solemn Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form in the Cathedral's 10.30 slot (Fr Andrew had celebrated a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form with his fellow Oratorians in America).

Father Andrew is not only one of the best priests and kindest men I know (he has been very good to Pam and myself), but has played a crucial role in one of the most important parts of the return to orthopraxy which took place in Pope Bendict's pontificate and in the last few years of that of his predecessor: the gift to the Anglophone Latin Church of liturgical texts which are usable without offence to God and skandalon to the plebs sancta Dei.

Also present and concelebrating was the mighty Mgr Bruce Harbert, Fr Andrew's predecessor as boss of ICEL.

Two truly great and learned men, who deserve our eternal gratitude, and not least every time we take part in a vernacular Mass. Ad multos annos, plurimosque annos!

7 October 2015

Our Lady of Victories (3)

But Christian materialism - our emphasis on the reality of an Incarnate God and the goodness of his created universe - is not the materialism of secular society. S Joseph was the foster-father of God, not his begetter; the chaste Guardian, not the bedfellow, of the Mother of God. This unambiguously masculine figure, whose calling was continent love, is God's witness against the sexual trophyism and appetite of the culture we live in. Dogmatically, S Joseph's witness is encapsulated in another title of our Lady, Aeiparthenos, Ever-Virgin; a title which features so much more largely in the ancient Conciliar documents and the authentic tradition of both East and West than it does in much modern writing. I think we have lost yet more of our nerve when it comes to talking about virginity and purity. And the result has been that we end up with Bishops being gathered at the expense of the faithful from the four corners of the globe (rhetoric, rhetoric!) to discuss sympathetically, tactfully, and without condemnations ... Adultery, fornication, and sodomy!!

How often, Fathers, do you preach on Chastity? How often, brothers and sisters, do you hear your clergy teaching about Purity? How much time would you guess is being devoted, in the Synod of Bishops, to discussing Sexual Abstinence? How many of the clustered, hungry, journalists in Rome are leaking the explosive words of Bishop X about Purity; the angry 'intervention' of Bishop Y on Virginity? The Zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Age, has used our own doctrine, the inherent materialism of the Incarnation, to undermine the whole concept of Continence; and what have we ended up with? A society which respects, enhances, and protects Marriage as never before? You know that we haven't. We find ourselves with a culture in which fornication and adultery have become norms, and wedlock is treated as endlessly terminable and repeatable, and Marriage is redefined in terms of fluid Gender. (There's such skilled and calculated cynicism here ... who can fail to believe in a personal Devil?) Only now do we see, five decades after Humanae Vitae, that it is solely in the context of a society which exalts Continence and Virginity that Marriage itself has a chance of surviving.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX issued an dogmatic decree, over the small print of which Latins and Byzantines may make differing judgements. What is indisputable about it is that it did put the adjective Immaculata right at the centre of Western devotional culture. By doing so, it brought the Occident into line with the Orient; taught us timorous Westerners the importance of that great word-bag of alpha-privatives with which Byzantine hymnody had for more than a millennium adorned the Mother of God: amomos, akhrantos, apsilos, aphthartos. Khaire, nymphe anympheute! I put it to you that Mary's perpetual Virginity, an immaculate purity of heart and mind and body, is not so much a title, a mere honorific, as it is a dogma. And not so much even a dogma, as God's conquering and triumphant Truth, which alone can win the victory over the disorders of our culture.

The Immaculate and Ever-Virgin Lady of Victories, born aloft by the sculptors on billowing draperies, her gravity-defying bulgy baroque crown precariously perched upon her head, is the Woman of Triumph whom God is giving to this world, and he is giving her now. She treads down all the serpents of heresy; she crushes all the serpents of vice and corruption with her virgin and immaculate heel. Khaire, kataptosis ton daimonon! Her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

6 October 2015

Been there, done that ... Boring.

Again, we hear the profoundly silly suggestion that the Church's current discipline of denying Holy Communion to 'remarried divorcees' could be replaced (of course, only on an individual basis) by a (needless to say) very tough period of penitential discipline, followed by readmission.

We tried out all that sort of daft stuff in the Church of England. My recollection is that when I was  ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the 1960s, those involved in a 'second marriage' in which one of the partners had already been validly married to somebody else were supposed to be subject to the discipline of being excluded from Holy Communion for six months.

This was a dead letter. Neither bishops nor parochial clergy were prepared to risk the fury ... oops, I mean Hurt ... of those who were supposed to be invited to undergo such discipline.

Believe me, we tried such ideas in the C of E and they simply proved to be a brief preliminary step towards the automatic acceptance of all de facto unions.

Now there is a Church of England in which a 'Catholic' bishop, one of the leaders of the rump of Forward in Faith which stayed in the C of E, who, himself divorced, has 'married' the divorced wife of a priest. And he stays in post, ministering to those who are supposed to have secured such a good deal enabling them to remain in the C of E and to 'flourish' there with full 'Catholic' integrity.

With much help from the old Adversary, the dear old C of E got, decades ago, to exactly the place to which you are trying to lead the Catholic Church. I agree that it is jolly sensible for you to follow the Church of England's example and teaching, if that is where, with the same august help, you are determined to go. 

But you seem to me to be (1) bewilderingly naive in not being aware of the destination you are in fact heading for; (2) unendearingly arrogant in imagining that you are the first people ever to have had these Brilliant New Ideas; and (3) thoroughly obtuse in not spotting who it was that crafted them, and where.


A friend wants the Latin Collecta, Super Oblata, and Post Communionem for Blessed John Henry Newman. I've got the Collect, but, curiously, don't seem to be able to find the other two. Could somebody help?

Deus, qui beatum Ioannem Henricum presbyterum lumen benignum tuum sequentem pacem in Ecclesia tua invenire contulisti: concede propitius; ut, eius intercessione et exemplo, ex umbris et imaginibus in plenitudinem veritatis tuae perducamur. Per.

Incidentally, I wonder if somebody can find in the euchology of the Latin Church another example of the construction contulisti + accusative + infinitive (= "didst grant that X should do Y"). It reads oddly to me, but that's probably because I've spent too long staring at it straight in the eye ... I wouldn't have batted an eyelid if the text had read "fecisti".

UPDATE A kind reader has supplied the texts for the Liturgia Horarum, but not the Secret and the Postcommunion for the Mass, which are what my friend needs for Friday morning.

Dodgy and Iffy

"The Synod Fathers also considered the possibility of allowing genocide. Various synod fathers insisted on maintaining the the present discipline, because of ... Others proposed a more individualised approach, permitting genocide in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions ... The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between ... " etc. etc..

Thus Paragraph 122 of the Base Document of the Synod, reproducing Paragraph 52 of the document produced at last year's synod. Except, of course, that for genocide read  admission of remarried divorcees to the Sacraments.

I made the change, not because I regard genocide as being on an ethical level with admitting adulterers to Holy Communion, but to illustrate the rhetorical tricks being employed. We are all interested in rhetoric, aren't we? So here we go.

(1) The order of subjects. Maintaining the present discipline comes first, and is followed by Changing it. This is the trick of the Implied BUT.  First of all, you get out of the way the option which you wish to play down; then you follow it with your own preferred option. "Some board members think that you have worked here for fifty years and deserve to be retained in employment; others suggest a more nuanced approach to the moral obligations the firm has towards you ...". There's no doubt which side the speaker is on. You only have to reverse the order in which the alternatives are spelt out to see my point.

(2) Option 1 is laid out in 35 words; Option 2 in 101 words. Surprise!!! Option 2 is deployed with a (dubiously relevant) quotation from the Catechism; one wonders why no mention was made of the vast Magisterial back-up to Option 1.

(3) "The subject needs to be thoroughly examined ...". This is the trick of suppressing actual mention of who it is that has some view ... the Elision of Agency. It is often done by the use of passive or impersonal ("It is felt that ...") constructions. Just ask yourself: Is this sentence the view of the Committee which drafted the text? Or of the 2014 Synod as a whole? Is it what all the 2014 fathers unanimously agreed? Pull the other one! In fact, it is clearly part of the views of those advocating change. But it is given a lofty dignity by the grammatical structure. Not "We think it needs to be examined"; not "Kasper and his chums think it needs to be examined"; not even "Most fathers think it needs to be examined". Just "It needs to be examined"!

It is surprising what you can get away with if you avoid allowing your grammar to give away who is actually advocating what. Make it sound as if what you're saying is so obvious as to be above contradiction.

 It is has become clear to me, from reading this document and analysing its sleights of hand, that, embedded at the heart of the synodical process, are profoundly corrupt operators who are prepared to use any dodge they can lay their hands on, to pervert and to skew the deliberations of the fathers.

It doesn't suggest to me that they are particularly keen to take the risk of leaving it to the Holy Spirit to guide the Synod, despite all the Holy Father's fine talk about Synods being Protected Spaces for the Spirit.

Footnote: If anybody's interested ... this sort of close analysis of a text to see what games are really being played was a speciality of Dr Eric Mascall, a great Anglican Catholic theologian who had enjoyed a Mathematical education which included formal logic. He used to make mincemeat of the documents of Lambeth Conferences. He is part of the Patrimony which is our contribution to the life of the Universal Church.

5 October 2015

Does anybody know...

... the date of the birthday of Prebendary Michael Moreton?

Greek Lesson ... and is there a homosexualist Mafia at the Synod?

I have read a suggestion that the (hitherto unknown) curialist who has decided to grab his moment of glory should have been disciplined for sin rather than for news conferences.

I don't agree. I wouldn't like to think that there were witch-hunts going on in the CDF; and, given my awareness of my own frailties with regard to all Ten Commandments, I strongly believe that Mercy is more important than Discipline. At both the personal and professional levels, everybody who has ever spoken to me about Gerhard Mueller has described him as a kind man and a gentle pastor; I think he has been rather badly treated by his colleague. But I expect the man's own bishop will have carefully explained that to him. Very carefully, I hope.

Proclaiming and publicly defending any sin is worse than committing it. I invite you to read the passage in Romans 1 about homosexual actions, and to dwell particularly on the last verse of the chapter. Using the conventions of Greek rhetoric, S Paul works up to a climax of condemnation; Death (thanatos) is the deserving of those who do (prassontes) such things (toiauta), but-and-also (alla kai) of those who syneudokousin with the doers

Greek, like German, enjoys compound verbs, and syneudokein is a double compound. Dokein has, as one of its meanings, to think. Eu- stuck on the front gives it a sense of well, favourably. And the syn- adds the meaning of with. So the verb means to give ones warm approval to the commission of the perversion.

Publicly doing what one can to promote and encourage a perversion is a graver sin than to commit the perversion oneself in private, because one is deliberately drawing others, who may be victims of temptation, into this Death-deserving (S Paul uses the phrase thanatou axioi) sin. Promoting this perversion is thus a cruel attack upon the spiritual well-being of good people who have done their best to control an inclination to do "toiauta". It is, surely, just about the most deeply homophobic act one could commit.

There may, however, just conceivably, be good to come out of this sad episode. I wonder what you think about the following speculation. Is it possible that there is a homosexualist mafia at work within the Synod and/or its secretariate, advocating change in one area (remarriage of the divorced) so that they can use it to piggy-back their own cause (promotion of homosexual perversion)? You see, my own experience is that something very like this did happen in the Church of England: some homosexualist clergy, so it seemed to me, keenly supported the 'ordination' of women because they discerned that such a radical 'rethink' on gender would be a useful springboard for their own sad cause.

But the messy complications arising from the episode of this sad apparatchik and his little friend might make the larger players in any such sinister game (if there is one) wonder if now is quite the tactical moment to Go for the Big Prize.

2 October 2015

Ordinariate Festival

Gracious me! How long ago it seems that we met together annually under the title Forward in Faith every autumn in the Emmanuel Centre! Though, mind you, my enthusiasm for that place waned when the Vitello d'oro closed, and then even the little Italian cafe ... and, good heavens, I seem to recall that last time we were there even the Chinese place in the basement round the corner was shuttered. But some things stay the same (even though by gracious permission of the authorities, and under a different name) we've moved the mile or so to Westminster Cathedral Hall ... such as the voices of Fr Crane and Bishop Broadhurst. As Gerry Adams said about the IRA, "They haven't gone away, you know".

What a splendid day our recent festival was! Signs of growth and expansion everywhere (though, frankly, I'd never have guessed that representatives of the Jakarta Group would be there). A fine sermon by Archbishop di Noia (the Annunciation teaches that we cannot just wait until we think that we've got everything ready for the Lord). He brought with him another of our Roman friends, Mgr Stephen Lopes, who is, so to speak, the Ordinariate Desk in the CDF. How nice to see Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral versus apsidem. And to hear some of our favourite Marian hymns. The sun shone upon us.

I was very pleased to hear that, at the Precious Blood in Southwark (which is flourishing) they have Churchwardens. That institution was one of the surviving glories of the English Church before the Reformation.

And ... since we are supposed to be a bridge ... how good to see, walking in procession and sitting in choro, our old friend, John Hind Bishop Emeritus of Chichester, one of the very few Anglican bishops still prepared to speak to us rather than either sneering or just pretending that we don't exist.

(I think it must be very hard for Anglican bishops to be saved).

1 October 2015

A rather cheeky hint

An enormously big thank you, ------- ---------,  for The Consolations of Boethius as Poetic Liturgy. It has already transformed me: I now chatter over the dinner table about shiny new Aurality and Literacy, rather than boring old Orality and Literacy. I really am grateful.

Which brings me on to a crude and vulgar hint which I haven't quite liked to make before. I really am grateful when kind people send me books within my parameters of interest; some people have been doing that for some years now, and it has made all the difference to my life (not to mention, to this blog). Some bloggers need funds for food and journeys and life: Pam and I live very modestly and survive on our Old Age Pensions and my Church of England pension; and when people invite me to give addresses or conferences or lectures or retreats or whatever, I do my best always to oblige (and very much enjoy doing so) as long as they can handle my travelling expenses.

But books ... yes, I know I could order them up and go and otch from buttock to buttock on a hard chair in Bodley and solemnly read them; but as I motor through my seventies I seem to feel less like doing things that way. And Bodley seems to take an inordinate time between receiving books and processing them through onto the shelves.

Anybody who wishes to be in touch can simply send a 'comment' to this blog. Those that are clearly personal I delete. But, if you need a reply, I do need your email address.


I was recently looking round an Anglican country church ... which was in the charge of a womanpriest ... and I was struck by the oddity of its arrangements. There were two side chapels. The South chapel was decently set out with a veiled aumbry and a white light (albeit electrical). In the argot of old, we would have used the term 'Moderate High Church'. But the matching altar to the North was arranged for ... prayer. There was a large candle on the step before the Altar, its live flame burning brightly; there were the usual accoutrements for prayer: prayer trees, magical stones; there was an educational display which, among other things, told visitors that the bread and wine of the communion service remind Christians of Jesus.

How revealing; that whoever was responsible for such dispositions had no natural inclination to feel that the place for prayer might just possibly be before the Blessed Sacrament Reserved. Faced with two chapels, she invited people to use for prayer the one which did not contain the Reserved Sacrament (let us not on this occasion get into a discussion about what that aumbry really contained). And the notice board revealed that one was invited to attend "Messy Church", which I suspect does not relate to the French Messe or even to the Italian Messa.

My comments can only be anecdotal and your mere assertion might be enough to falsify them. But my instinct is that the style of liturgical life spreading in the Church of England bears a general relationship to the rapid spread of 'ordained' women. And that it is a style which goes easy on the doctrinal and the objective and puts its money on on the folksy and the feely and the personal.

In a generation they will have transformed the Church of England as surely as the Victorian ritualists, in their very different way, transformed it once before. Thank goodness there is no risk of the same thing happening in the Catholic Church ...