31 December 2016

Fr H's Review of 2016

Annus valde mirablilis, miraculis potentioribus abundans ... annus in quo Romanus Pontifex, vir inter garrulos loquacissimus, vir qui dum vigilat loqui desinere nunquam potest, a quattuor tantum cardinalibus quinque tantum dubia proponentibus in silentium profundum actus est.

Haec addenda mihi videntur: Raimundus Burke, vir pius mitis generosus doctus, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Diaconus Cardinalis, inter tot Ecclesiae Catholicae negotia calamitates incommoda aerumnas pastorem se et gregis custodem et LEONEM monstravit et HUIUS ANNI SALUTIS MMXVI VIRUM EGREGIUM.

Ecumenical voices

Here is another quotation from a friendly non-RC theologian:

"Benedict exudes holiness, whereas Bergoglio has felt like an empty fake from the beginning ... where will this all end? Most likely there is no going back for either side at this point. The great drama impacts the whole of Christendom, and I have a deep-down sense that the ultimate outcome will aid the course of Christian Unity."

I am sure that there are non-Catholics who are gleeful about Bergoglio because they see him, rightly or wrongly, as leading the Catholic Church into the same grim antinomian apostasies which began to afflict Protestantism in the 1930s. But there clearly are other non-Catholics who do not have this sick agenda, and who perceive that the "Absolute Monarchy" Papacy preached to us by Bergoglian Hypersuperueberpapalists is as dangerous as it is unattractive. Perhaps when we emerge from this horribly dark tunnel our relationship with those Protestants who sympathised and prayed for us in our bad days will be transformed. Why should it not be?

29 December 2016

"Brother-and-Sister"?? UPDATED

"An adulterous couple may repent of their adultery and live together, in a state of probably great temptation and occasion of sin, as long as they undertake to do their best to resist that temptation; and for as long as they are able to claim that the good of children requires it."

UPDATE How far back does this concession go? I have traced it back to the closing homily of the VIth Synod, published in AAS 72 (1980) paragraph 7 page 1082 (whence it entered Familiaris consortio). Is anybody aware of an earlier Magisterial articulation?

This idea, as is clear from the thread to yesterday's post, is fraught with problems and can be a source of real, lifelong agony to faithful but deserted spouses. I will add another problem which has occurred to me: is it understood and made clear to such adulterous couples by the 'pastor' who is 'accompanying' them that, once the good of children no longer requires their cohabitation, they will (as any deeply and truly repentant couple of former adulterers would surely wish to do) finally and definitively separate, securing a civil divorce and dividing their assets?

But my main problem is as follows. Clearly the "Brother-and-Sister" solution to the 'problem' was elaborated as just about the very furthest that the Church could possibly go in assenting to an arrangement which is manifestly full of problems. One step further, and the Church would be completely abandoning the Verba Domini concerning Indissolubility. It is a solution which clings by no more than its fingertips ... or do I mean the skin of its teeth ... to the Word of the Incarnate Torah, Divine Mercy Incarnate, our Lord Jesus Christ.

"OK ... the couple will probably fall victims to temptation from time to time ... who wouldn't ... but it's easy enough to absolve them. OK ... Marriage is not only about sex but about a totius vitae consortium, and this pair are being allowed everything else that appertains to Marriage (mensa if not torum) even if they do abstain from sex ... but that can't be helped. OK ... they are likely to constitute a public scandalum, but they can be urged to avoid this by furtively receiving the Sacraments in places where they are not known."

The contorted and extraordinary nature of this procedure makes abundantly clear that it is conceded as an extreme and just-about-defensible possibility, a piece of Pastoral Mercy which teeters on the very edge of the precipice of disobedience to the Revealed Word.

Yet it is now being attacked by the heretics, with apparent countenance from Bergoglio, as some sort of difficult, draconian, and really rather unfair and unreasonable (not to say cruel) piece of legalistic rigidity! It is treated as a nasty piece of rigid 'Pharisaeism' which is being imposed on suffering people by unfeeling and rigid clerics whom the same Bergoglio insults and foul-mouths as often as he can think of a pretext for doing so.

If I have got this wrong and am being unfair to Bergoglio, perhaps it would be pastorally helpful for him to clarify my dubia.

Are we not in a bit of a mess?

Cardinal Burke's latest (3)

My third question to his Eminence, followed by his reply, was as follows.
Is there any pastoral or legislative authority within the Church Militant by which dispensations can be granted in these matters, or do they involve a ius Divinum which sets them beyond dispensation and legislative modification?
There is no pastoral authority of any kind within the Church who can grant a dispensation to a party, so that he may live in a marital way with someone who is not his spouse. This is a question of Ius Divinum and is articulated in can. 1141 of the Code of Canon Law: "A marriage which is ratified and consummated cannot be dissolved by any human power or by any cause other than death".

His Eminence concluded his letter thus:
I hope that these answers are of some help to you and to the clergy who have raised them to you. The clear answer to these questions is imperative for the correction of the widespread confusion in the Church which is redounding to the grave harm of souls.

Asking God to bless you and all your priestly labors, and confiding your intentions to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Apostle and Evangelist, and Saint John Fisher, I remain

Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.


28 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (2)

My second query, followed by Cardinal Burke's reply:
Is it acceptable for a couple not validly married and with offspring for whom they are responsible to argue that, for the good of that offspring, they may lawfully continue to live as husband and wife because it may prudently be foreseen that their relationship, if not sustained by adulterous intimacies, would fail to survive?
A couple who are living in an irregular matrimonial union may argue that they must continue to live under the same roof for the sake of their offspring, but they must live without recourse to adulterous acts, that is, they must live as brother and sister. In other words, the need to live under the same roof for the sake of children or elderly grandparents is not an argument which justifies acts of adultery. Both reason and faith tell us that adulterous acts can never be justified, can never serve the good of either the parties or of their children.

To continue.

27 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (1)

As we await the text of the Fraternal Correction of the Roman Pontiff which Cardinal Burke has promised, I can share with you a briefer text from his Eminence's pen. A few weeks ago, some younger clergy asked me to put some queries to the Cardinal. I think the reason for this was that I, being old, am perhaps not quite as vulnerable to intimidatory threats and petty episcopal malice as they are. These queries were sent before it was made public that the Four Cardinals had submitted their five Dubia. I received his Eminence's most gracious answers dated 3 December. He responded, he said, "to certain serious questions of the clergy in the present situation of widespread confusion and error in the Church".

My first query, which was followed by the reply, follows below.
Is it licit for a priest to give Absolution or the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to a person who is living as husband or wife with another to whom they are not, in the eyes of the Church, validly married; when that person makes clear that he or she has no intention of metanoia and of doing their best, with the help of Divine Grace, to avoid committing such adultery in the future?
A priest may not give Absolution to a party who is living in an irregular matrimonial union and has no firm purpose of amendment. If the party has the firm purpose of amendment, pledging, with the help of Divine Grace, to avoid any sin of adultery in the future, then the priest may give Absolution, counseling the party that he should only approach to receive Holy Communion in a place in which there is no reasonable chance of scandal. 

To continue.

24 December 2016

Judica me Deus

One of the joys of the EF and of the Ordinariate Form is the Introibo ad Altare Dei with the Psalm at the foot of the altar, and the sense it has of human uncertainty and weakness being supported by the knowledge that one is young-every-morning (qui laetificat iuventutem meam); and the wonderful bit where I express my wobbly feelings and the server in his most robust tones instructs me to stop whinging and pick myself up and just get on with it (Spera in Deo ...). And as I walk up those steps to the Altar, I know that I am in the footsteps of Abraham and of the Incarnate Word Himself, going up ad montem sanctum Dei et ad tabernacula eius, to the one and only Place of Sacrifice where Shed Blood expiates. The only thing that troubles me is the thought that I really ought to get round to making an honest man of myself by changing my surname to Cohen. What greater privilege is there than offering every morning the One Great Sacrifice of the Lamb, which fulfills and clasps together the differentias hostiarum? The Preparation at the foot of the Altar is the perfect preparation for this mighty Action.

A correspondent has asked me how the old Praeparatio might be incorporated into a reformed Novus Ordo. Our splendid Ordinariate Missal makes this very clear. You just bung it onto the the start of Mass, before the Priest goes up the steps to kiss the Altar. After all, in the monocultural 1970s mainstream Novus Ordo they have the illegally interpolated Versicle and Response V Good Morning Every--Body. R Good Morning Fa--ther, a useless duplication [cf Sacrosanctum Concilium 50] of Dominus vobiscum, so it can hardly be dangerously improper to say a psalm and to acknowledge ones sinfulness immediately after the Entrance.

(Then, in the Ritibus Initialibus of a Said Mass without music, because the People will have heard already the Confiteor, one could use the farced Kyries, i.e. the Kyries with penitential interpolations.Or, in view of the relaxed ease with which 'mainstream' celebrants omit the Sermon and/or the Creed whenever they happen to feel like it, one could just omit the novus Ordo Confession. Despite Paul VI's naughty little fib in the eighth paragraph of Missale Romanum, the corporate Act of Reconciliation is not 'patristic'.)

22 December 2016


Josee ... if you had included your email in the Comment you sent me, I would have been able to reply to you!!


I feel that the Baroque gets a raw deal. English culture is deeply antipathetic to it; why? Because it is (for the most part) foreign and we are a nasty insular xenophobic people given to defining ourselves only in terms of not being foreign? Perhaps you can tell me. But there are writers of intelligence - Pickstock and Hemming spring to mind - who don't give the Baroque a fair run. And in liturgical circles, you only have to characterise something as 'Baroque' to have spoken its condemnation.

On a trip to Prague, Pope Benedict XVI said something which strikes me as perhaps the start of a Spirituality of the Baroque; if Prague, he asked, is the heart of Europe, in what does that 'heart' consist?
"Surely a clue is found in the architectural jewels that adorn this city ... Their beauty expresses faith; they are epiphanies of God that rightly leave us pondering the glorious marvels to which we creatures can apire when we give expression to the aesthetic and cognitive aspects of our inmost being ... The creative encounter of the classical tradition and the Gospel gave birth to a vision of man and society attentive to God's presence among us."

It looks to me as though Benedict's theology of the aesthetic may prove one of many significant intellectual gifts of that wonderful and unforgettable pontificate.

We of the Ordinariate Patrimony may have someting to contribute here. Sir Ninian Comper ... of whom Sir Nikolaus 'Bauhaus' Pevsner used the adjective 'limp' ... believed in 'Unity by Inclusion' . He discovered this in between the work he did at my 'title' church of S Mary's, Beaconsfield, and his contribution of such splendour in Pusey House Chapel, here in Oxford. What on earth is wrong with putting a baroque altar into a gothic church? Henry VII did it to splendid effect in the magnificent perpendicular Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey! Just imagine that vault with its polychromatic paint, enshrining the baldachino and Altar.

21 December 2016

I hope you are Unhelpful UPDATE

From time to time, I address you on the sophisms and manipulations of Management-talk ... the way our Masters talk. Today, I invite you join me in analysis of a particular word: "unhelpful". I have recently read a few words by an English-speaking prelate referring to the Letter of the 45, which I, all unworthy, was privileged to sign. He found it "unhelpful".

Where I've got to so far is something like this.

'Unhelpful' corrupts judgement because it avoids questions of right and wrong. If it does elicit a dialogue, the dialogue has been required to be about whether the words concerned are helpful ... whatever that may mean ... rather than about their possible truth.

'Unhelpful' in fact implies, generally mendaciously, that there is an aim shared by all reasonable people, which some 'unhelpful' people have blundered into obstructing.

Use of adjectives like 'Unhelpful' enables the speaker (this is a common feature of much modern Management-talk) to maintain a lofty, Olympian posture of imperturbable and superior composure. Another example: Management-talkers will say "Concern has been expressed about your XYZ" because that is calm and distanced ... so very unlike speaking the the truth (which would be "Your XYZ has made me hopping mad"). Management-talkers [this is the verbal game which is being set up] are calm and dispassionate people, simply because they are such enormously great men. 'Unhelpful' means "I am very angry with you, nasty little nuisance that you are, for saying ABC because it cuts across the policies advocated by me and my almost-equally-important cronies ... indeed, it (unhelpfully!) gives away the radical fact that this is a matter about which there is disagreement ... whereas there isn't ... because there shouldn't be".

There is an amusing additional nuance about 'Unhelpful'. Often I detect a hint in this word suggesting that if you had expressed yourself more quietly and more deferentially, Authority would have been more sympathetic because it could have grandly  treated you as a poor sad thing needing TLC and help. We had all this in the C of E when they were bringing in their Women Bishops. They wouldn't have minded if we had played the role they had assigned to us: of being dim and pathetic losers. If we had snivelled quietly in a corner, they would have been all over us, arms round our shoulders and "Believe me, we do feel your pain". But we were bold and confident and we won all the arguments and we expressed ourselves in public and private fora where we were heard, and we got a great many wonderful laughs out of exposing the absurdities, hypocrisies, and dishonesties of our opponents. Archdeacon Armitage Shanks and all the rest of them, how they hated it! How truly 'unhelpful' they found it! They then imported their blessed term 'tone' into the argument. We were (of course) entitled to express our 'views', but our 'tone' was disgraceful. Believe me, when Grand People, when the Great and the Good, start telling you that it is your tone that they do not like, Rejoice and Be Glad and go home and have a nice big Drink, celebrating quia merces vestra magna est in caelo.

(In the end, by the way, we did clamber up onto the podium to collect the Gold Medal, because there was a Somebody in Rome with whom we had been in touch since the 1990s and who had listened to us and taken us seriously and understood us and who gave us that Corporate Unity with the See of S Peter for which generations of our forbears had longed.) 

Over to you!! Two generations ago, English philologists demonstrated and analysed (seminally, Professor Alan Ross in 1954) the distinction between U talk and Non-U talk ['U' means 'Upper-class']. How about M and Non-M? You must all have experienced Management-talk? You might even (now, here's a thought) be Management-talkers! 

 Examples ... analysis ...

20 December 2016

Private messages

Dear Josee  ... Dear Protasius ... if you will make your email addresses available to me, I will explain to you why your (very different!) comments have not been enabled, and what changes in them would make me feel able to do so. I beg you to forgive me in the circumstances in which "Enable" and "Delete" are the only options I have.

Dear Mike: everyone is welcome in an Ordinariate congregation. If you are a Catholic ... of Latin or Byzantine or Maronite or whatever rite ... you are welcome to take the very fullest part in the sacramental life of an Ordinariate community. We would simply love to have you. If you can serve or sing, your ministry would be invaluable!! If you are a cradle Catholic, we can't actually put you on the books as a canonical member of the Ordinariate ... unless a member of your family has Anglican Previous, in which case you can squeeze in with them!

But not being on the canonical books would make no difference to your daily life as member of an Ordinariate community. It would only impinge if things like Marriage or Ordination were in mind.

When I say everyone, of course I mean also those who are still Anglicans. In normal circumstances, you would not be allowed to receive the Sacraments (although the rules of the Catholic Church in this respect are not actually as strict as some people think, as long as you share fully the whole Catholic belief about the Eucharist). But if you are attracted by Catholic worship in the Anglican tradition, you could be very happy with us.

19 December 2016

Summorum Pontificum

Bishop Schneider has called for the SSPX to be given the justice they were denied in the 1970s. I do wonder, with great respect to his Lordship, whether things are now any longer quite as simple as that.

For a decade or two, we have been told that regularisation must wait upon the acceptance by the Society of the teaching of Vatican II and of the post-Conciliar Magisterium. But given the way things are now, might it not be fair and equitable for the Society now to insist that Papa Bergoglio manifest a proper and unambiguous submission to the post-Conciliar Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI? And, in particular, that he enact (perhaps as part of a deal with the Society) a solemn reconfirmation in his own name of Veritatis splendor, Familiaris consortio, and Summorum Pontificum?

The Roman Pontiff, suspiciously, has already declined to to give the very simple answers requested of him to the effect that Veritatis splendor and Familiaris consortio still, as it were, apply. And on November 20, I expressed a fear that a regularisation of the SSPX might be accompanied by a cancellation, or evisceration, of Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, on 21 September 2016 Sandro Magister had reported somebody called Andrew Grillo (Alcuin Reid's sparring partner??) as opining that the next Synod would discuss "the collegial exercise of the episcopate and the restitution to the bishop of full authority over diocesan liturgy". It was pretty obvious to me what the nasty little phrase I italicise was code for, as I wrote a few days later on my blog. In the event, we were reprieved; a different topic was to be selected for the next Synod (Youff, I think), possibly because Bergoglio is decent enough still to have some reticence about too overt a public humiliation of Joseph Ratzinger while he is still alive. But Grillo's expectations are unlikely to have been entertained by him alone.

There has always been a practical certainty that a certain sort of bishop, for whom 'subsidiarity' means I Must Be Free To Ban Everything That Isn't To My Personal Taste, would not easily abandon his hopes of (at least) limiting and controlling worship according to the Old Rite. In one of the Ordinariates (not the British one!) a local bishop put pressure some years ago on the Ordinary to prevent the use of the Extraordinary Form within that Ordinariate. Readers will not need to be reminded of the savage humiliations inflicted, and by a Roman Dicastery, upon the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate; humiliations which are still, as far as I know, in place. There was an American bishop who required clergy to pass a test in Latin to prove that they were idonei to celebrate the Old Mass ... typical piece of Liberal nastiness, isn't it ... you arrange for your clergy, contra canonem, to be ordained without having been taught Latin, then you jeer and sneer at them for not knowing it. At a jollier level, English clergy may remember how Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor acquired, for a year or two, the nickname of "The Envisager" because he attempted to circumscribe Summorum Pontificum by issuing a whole lot of comically panic-ridden rubbish making use of the phrase "It is envisaged that ..." [NB good example of Management-talk using the impersonal passive construction].

Bigotry still abounds.

Archbishop Lefebvre's Society always insisted that they were not begging to be allowed to exist as a tolerated ghetto. They insisted that they would only do a deal if every Latin Rite priest were allowed, without needing special faculties or permissions, to offer the authentic Roman Rite. Accordingly, the entire point of Summorum Pontificum was to call their bluff by giving precisely what they had demanded, and returning the Usus Antiquior to the whole Latin Church. This represented an authoritative removal of the old 'Indult' culture, in which it was only allowed within personal parishes served by organisations such as FSSP and ICKSP, or where it was permitted by an indulgent Diocesan.

Were some deal to be put before the SSPX, accompanied by suspicions that there might be a diminution in the right of every Latin Rite priest to offer the Old Mass, I very much hope that His Excellency Bishop Fellay would refuse it. Or would indicate that, in such a possible future eventuality, he would unilaterally suspend certain of the articles in his agreement with the Vatican. A firm hand on the tiller would be a very great service to the entire Latin Church.

I write this as someone who have, for years, said the prayer Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti in all my Masses with an intention for the canonical regularisation of the SSPX. Regularisation would afford great benefits both to the entire Latin Church, and to the Society; not least by providing a refuge of incardination for clergy being intimidated elsewhere (any provision excluding the Society from exercising the right to incardinate would be ... very dodgy .... very fishy ..... ). I hope the terms agreed would include a provision for the Agenda of each Episcopal Conference to be sent in good time to the Superior of the Society, so that he or one of the other bishops could attend a meeting and explain why some particular proposal would have a divisive effect. After all, the whole point of enhancing the authority of Episcopal Conferences is to encourage divisiveness. Isn't it?

Capitulation is not the way ahead.

17 December 2016

An appeal to Ecclesia Dei on behalf of our Lady of Fatima

Pope Francis has said that he does not agree with "The Reform of the Reform". Some of my correspondents find this odd ... after all, those who engineered the imposition of the Novus Ordo back in the 1960s did not seem terribly devoted to a principle of Liturgical Immutability. But the Holy Father's words do raise the question: are we supposed to say Good Bye to the whole Ratzinger policy whereby the OF and EF would converge so that, in a generation or three, they would together constitute just one Form?

My own view is we should not abandon the idea of Enriching each Form from the other one. And I think Ecclesia Dei should take the lead, in this coming Fatima Year.

The EF ought to be brought up to date, not least as far as concerns its Calendar; and Benedict XVI explicitly envisaged this. (In the old days, Rome did this frequently by adding things to aliquibus locis, from which they sometimes subsequently slipped across into the Calendare Universale.) Sadly, the treatment which Traditionalists experienced for decades, during the period before Benedict XVI made it clear that the Old Mass never had lawfully been abrogated, has made them ... us ... fearful of any tinkerings. But in fact a Calendar which has not been added to in fifty years is itself something unknown in Tradition. So ... a consensual way of putting this process into effect, delicately, sensitively, gently, would be to start with May 13. Would anybody, especially any devoted client of our blessed Lady, violently object to May 13 being made the EF festival of our Lady of Fatima, with an appropriate Mass and Office being authorised? This would necessitate the removal of S Robert Bellarmine (possibly to his OF date of September 17).

Surely, it is within the competence of Ecclesia Dei to do this? Having perhaps sought the opinion and good will first of SSPX, FSSP, the Ordinariates, ICKSP, and other major interests?

16 December 2016

Seminary training (2)

Continues ...
 (2) General Norms 1 and 4 clearly subordinate the Diocesan Bishop, in this matter of training ordinandi, to the Episcopal Conference. There have been other evidences of this most deplorable tendency in recent legislation. I deplore it on the doctrinal grounds that the Lord has set his Church up as Universal and Particular ... and the Particular Church is not a National Episcopal Conference but the Church in communion with its bishop. This desired subordination of Bishop to Conference represents an attack upon the status of both the Universal Church and the Particular Church. And I object to it on the practical grounds that it, unhappily, it is linked to current attempts within the Church, by (what Blessed John Henry Newman so neatly called) "an arrogant and insolent faction", to gain control and to exercise a dictatorial power which is unmindful of Tradition, doing this by means of powerful conferences and bully boy bureaucracies. Long live Apostolos suos. Long live Gerhard Mueller.

(3) Para 4 cheerfully informs us (without explanation) that presbyters are ordained "by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit". Such epicletic enthusiasms do not conform to the spirit and genius (or the texts) of the Roman Church and her liturgy, in which the Episcopate is typologically aggregated to the Aaronic High Priest; the Presbyters to the Temple Priests; and the Deacons to the Levites. This was the clear teaching of the Roman Church from I Clement down to the aftermath of Vatican II, when Dom Botte got his hands on the Pontifical.

(4) Paragraph 166, on the teaching of Scripture, fails to mention the importance of teaching the Typological way of understanding the Scriptures. It seems to think that the Old Testament is studied, not because it is central to our Religion (which it is), but mainly in order to enable Catholics to be chummy with present-day post-Biblical Jamnian Synagogue-centred Judaism ... a radically different religion from the Altar-centred cult of the Old Testament of which we are the continuators. I doubt if one would catch those who train rabbis explaining that the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings should be studied so that their students will understand Christians better! Of course not! The reason for that, G*d bless them, is that they have not lost their nerve, their self-confidence.

(5) In Paragraph 183, it does not seem to occur to those who drafted it to think that knowledge of Latin might have anything to do with Liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium is now remembered only as an archaic incantation, mumbo jumbo to be uttered in appropriate circumstances, not for what its actual text actually said ... Heaven forbid! That way would lie Rigidity!

What the Latin Church needs is a closer and more faithful conformity to the totality of her traditions, not only to documents dated later than 1961, or, even worse, after 2012. If the elements I have cited from this new Vatican document are anything to go by, the gulf between the Traditum and the everyday life of the modern Church is still being prised ever wider, and the wells of community Memory are still being rendered ever more polluted.

15 December 2016

Clericalism? Are the Traddies guilty?

The medieval historian John Bossy used to point out how dominant the laity were in the Church life of the High Middle Ages. Parishes were corporately structured, and dominated by powerful lay Guilds led by pairs of Wardens; for their religious needs they hired and paid clergy, just as, doubtless, for their footwear they employed and remunerated cobblers. Sometimes you can still see the guildswomen or guildsmen pictorially immortalised at the bottoms of the windows they put into their Parish Churches, as at S Neots in Cornwall. There were sacramental things that only the clergy, of course, could do; but it was not the clergy who called the tune. ('Clericalism', Dix loved to suggest, is a post-Reformation Presbyterian and Calvinist phenomenon.)

I hope no-one will be offended if I point out that things are rather like the High Middle Ages in Traddiland. In my experience, the Traditionalist enterprise is forcefully energised and led by well-qualified and determined lay men and women, often if not usually young. For their liturgical needs, they call upon clergy whom they know to be idonei. They are very polite and courteous and grateful and generous; but it always seems clear to me who is in charge. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must make clear that I think this de facto system works extremely well and I am very happy indeed when I am allowed to be part of it. I am not being snide ... quite the opposite ... and if anybody suggests I am 'complaining' I shall strangle them with a printed copy of the Novus Ordo.

It is an amusing paradox that the disorders in the post-Conciliar Church should have led to such a (please forgive my use of this word) empowerment of the traddy Laity. By empowerment I do not refer to anything like the activities of the infantilised laity of the 'Mainstream Church'. You all know the sort of "lay involvement" that happens there ... just before Holy Communion, the celebrant breaks into the sugary mood-music to call out "We're short of a Eucharistic Minister ... can somebody else please come up?" And there is some gruesome little committee which meets weekly with the pp to "arrange the liturgy". No; I am talking about laity empowered in the sense of possessing adult competence and grown-up self-confidence.

I think this is one of the many admirable fruits of the movement towards Catholic authenticity which so blessed the last part of the pontificate of Papa Wojtila, and then the Ratzinger Years. Indeed, it was encouraged by (for example) the provisions in Summorum Pontificum establishing the rights of lay coetus with its unparalleled (and admirable) emphasis on subsidiarity. It is what makes the Traddy movement so strong and resilient ... and so well armoured against unsympathetic prelates. No paseran!

Catholic Traditionalist laity, above all, do not seem to be nearly as scared of bishops as so many Catholic clergy are, the poor trembly things.

Failure to tremble at the knees at the very thought of "The Bishop" or "The Archbishop" or "The Cardinal" is, of course, a healthy feature also of the Anglican Patrimony and so it flourishes also in the Ordinariates. It needs to spread. Down with Clericalism! As the Holy Father would (and probably does) say, Down with Rigid Narcissistic Pelagian Prelaticism!

14 December 2016

Seminary training (1)

I have had a quick look through the new Vatican document. I may have missed things; or I may be offering unbalanced accounts. Those who have read the text carefully are invited (with references to specific paragraphs) to correct me.

Three points.
(1) it seems to me that very little of this document goes back behind and beyond the Second Vatican Council. Thus the document Veterum Sapientia of Pope S John XXIII has left few marks. For example; its very sensible and moderate requirement that Seminary Professors be sacked if they are not fluent in Latin does not appear in the recent document (unless it's in a footnote?).

But ... the good news ... Para 183 says "As well as Biblical Hebrew and Greek, seminarians should be introduced to the the study of Latin from the start of the course of formation." But  ... I have some dubia (which I will not submit to the Sovereign Pontiff himself):
(a) What does "introduced to ... from" mean? Does it imply the same practical end result as the canonical term calleant?
(b) How does the phrase "As well as Biblical Hebrew and Greek" fit syntactically into the sentence as a whole? Does it just mean "As well as the Hebrew and Greek we've mentioned in Para 166 ..."
(c) Para 166 says that seminarians should be "given the opportunity to learn some elements of Biblical Hebrew and Greek". I feel uneasy about the three words opportunity and some and elements.

Various additions are made to syllabuses, including Ecology. I spent most of my working life in Education, where I learned to have a deep and respectful admiration for the genius of those who make or advocate  additions to syllabuses. Where my admiration sometimes fell short was when it came to the question of how space was to be found for such additions without increasing the lengths of days and of years (although there has been a recent media story to the effect than in a few hundred million years the day will indeed have twenty five hours).

To be continued.

13 December 2016

"Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican": A FOOTNOTE

I wrote yesterday in criticism of the hypersuperueberpapalist nutters who, in their respective generations, have seemed to wish to assimilate the Roman Pontiff to one of the Persons of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity. Today, I wish very briefly to point out that this tendency, as well as being arguably blasphemous and idolatrous or at least heretical, is contrary to the Tradition of the Universal Church, and to that of the great and glorious Roman Church herself.

At Chalcedon, the Fathers greeted the Tome of S Leo, not with cries of "Christ himself has spoken" or "This is the utterance of the Holy Spirit", but (after carefully examining its text) Peter has spoken through Leo. This is profoundly in accordance with an Irenaean ecclesiology, whereby orthodoxy is witnessed by the identity of the teaching handed down from generation to generation in the particular churches, more especially in those of Apostolic foundation, and most normatively in the Roman Church. And this, of course, is why S Peter ... and very commonly S Paul ... are central to any account we give of the Ministry of the Roman Church within the Oikoumene. They are fontal to that Church's Tradition.

But Olivier Clement of the Institute of S Sergius in Paris has pointed out that Martyrdom adds a further element: "As martyrs - seized, that is to say, by the Resurrection - they are for ever present in Rome". Rome is the place "where the apostles (Peter and Paul) preside daily and where their blood renders constant testimony to the glory of God". And so the tropaia ton Apostolon, the presence of the enshrined bodies of Ss Peter and Paul, guarantee for Theodoret of Cyrrhus that "Rome is the metropolis of Religion".

When, in more recent times, Roman Pontiffs have defined dogma ex cathedra, they have prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before doing so; but they have not boldly claimed to be mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit or to speak upon His inspiration. Even today, when a Pope canonises, he does so auctoritate Domini nostri Iesu Christi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra; when at Easter the Indulgence is proclaimed, it is the authority of the Apostles Peter and Paul that is mentioned.

Does this matter? After all, a Pope could proclaim nonsense and try to cloak it with talk about being Peter's Successor. Wouldn't that be as bad as all Bergoglio's talk about the Holy Spirit?

I think it does matter, and does make a great deal of difference. Faithfulness to the Didache Petrou, to the freedom guaranteed by the Petrine Ministry, keeps Peter's Successor, and us, safe in the historical and objective realities of Scripture and Tradition, and (let's dare to be down to earth about this) the unavoidable Textuality of each. On the other hand, claims to the inspiration of "the Holy Spirit", unverifiable by objective constraints and controls, can lure us into the servitude of a religion manufactured by man, a cult of Let's Make It Up For Ourselves. This cult is ultimately fashioned upon the model of the old religion of the Gnostics, who created their own fake alternatives to the Tradition received from the Apostles because they felt they knew with such certainty that the Church's Tradition was wrong.

To employ the terminology currently being encouraged by the Enemy himself, it is better to be 'Rigid' in the Faith once for all delivered, than to be led up the infinitely flexible garden path.

Believe me, we do not need some new and horrible dogma that the voice of Bergoglio is the voice of the Holy Spirit. For two millennia, Roman Pontiffs, in harmony with Churches of the East and of the West, have been content with the notion that Ss Peter and Paul are sub Christo the basis of their authority. And the First Vatican Council put this beyond denial when it infallibly defined that the Holy Spirit does not inspire the Pope to teach new doctrine; the claim made by the church's authentic Magisterium is that He helps the Successors of S Peter to guard the Apostolic Tradition, the Depositum Fidei.

What Roman Pontiffs, in communion with the whole Body of Christ, have through so many centuries taught, I know or I can ascertain. Who, or what, Bergoglio's "God of surprises", the "Spirit" his sycophants so enthusiastically endorse, is, I fearfully confess that I do not know.

12 December 2016

Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican: nothing new under the sun.

Everybody knows that Blessed John Henry Newman wrote critically about the "aggressive insolent faction" which attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist doctrinal aburdities upon the Church at the First Vatican Council. Let's zoom the camera in on that fascinating period.

In the feverish Roman atmosphere of 1870, as the hypersuperueberpapalists at the Council ran around propagating extreme and barmy notions of the papal office, this little bit of nonsense did the rounds: "The three incarnations of the Son of God are: in the womb of our Lady; in the Eucharist; and in the Pope". We appear now in 2016 to have moved on from that, because instead we have Pintos and Farrells and other hypers telling us that whatever Bergoglio utters is the utterance of the Holy Spirit. What has stayed the same is that the hypers in each age appear to have the same disordered passion to see the Roman Pontiff as some sort of incarnation of one of the Persons of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity. Seems to me close to blasphemy and idolatry. Did I say 'close'?

Feverish indeed it was, that time of Vatican I, just like our own age. In their enthusiam to push their program through megafast, the hypers had a brilliant thought: "Definition by Acclamation" (hypers not unusually have an eye for the Short-Cut). Four brave Fathers opposed this, and announced that if it happened, they would walk out of the Council and tell the world why. They were the admirably principled Archbishop Kenrick and his two fellow Americans, Archbishop Purcell and Bishop Fitzgerald of Little Rock; and an Irishman, David Moriarty. I think Four is a good number.

More recent visitors to this blog may be unfamiliar with that last name. Dr Moriarty was Bishop of Kerry (the ancient see once known as Ardfert and Aghadoe); and he was a very close friend and correspondent of Blessed John Henry Newman, our Patron in the Ordinariate (Kenrick, also, was influenced by Newman's thought). If we ever have a posthumous category of goodies labelled "Historical Honorary Chums of the Ordinariate", I shall nominate David Moriarty, Scourge of the hypers.

Long live the 'Kingdom of the West'! Long live the Ordinariate! Down with aggressive insolent factions!

10 December 2016

Response to query

Fr Aidan Nichols OP wrote Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony: the Personal Ordinariate of our lady of Walsingham, Gracewing, 96pp, pbk, £7.99. Before the Ordinariates were erected, the same author wrote The Panther and the Hind, a more historical and theological exploration of the ground.

Is Fr Z important?

I would not wish to imply that Fr Z is ever anything other than tremendously important! I wish I had half his erudition and energy! But I do wish to suggest to you that his post yesterday was very, very important indeed. ... I wish the Thesaurus offered more synonyms for "important" ...

Father gave links to a highly important paper by Professors John Finnis and Germain Grisez. Some readers might be unaware of what enormously significant scholars these are. For decades, they have been expounding the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, and doing so in complete fidelity to the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition that comes to us from the Apostles. But doing so with a profundity and a freshness of touch which constitutes a valid and illuminating "development" of that Tradition. Finnis, of this University, is a jurist and a philosopher of Law with an international standing (an important constitutional case which has this week been argued before a full eleven judge bench of our Supreme Court involved discussion of a paper which he he had written). I mean no disrespect to the Four Courageous Cardinals when I say that the entry by Finnis and Grisez into the Amoris laetitia controversy is probably the most disabling intellectual blow yet delivered to the shadowy and heterodox circle which surrounds our Holy Father.

Fr Z also provided a link to a sermon preached by Papa Bergoglio in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Coming as it does so soon after publication of the Sovereign Pontiff's words about shit-eating, this puerile and unbalanced attack upon those the pope appears to enjoy hating seems to me ... I feel compelled by Canon 212 paragraph 3 and the Holy Father's own often-expressed desire for Parrhesia to say this ... to raise disturbing questions about Pope Francis' mind.

I shall not enable any comments upon that last paragraph.   And, by the way, I have recently declined to enable a number of comments because of the violence of their language or their espousal of heresies such as Sedevacantism. And, if you desire me to get in touch with you personally and privately, you need to send me your email address.

9 December 2016

Blue vestments

If Spain is entitled to blue vestments on December 8 because of its role in promoting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I would have thought that a fortiori England would be even more entitled.

The use of blue among Anglicans for Advent is part of the old (Percy 'dishonest plagiariser' Dearmer) idea that you show you are are a loyal Anglican and not a beastly Romaniser by discovering details in medieval English usage which diverge from modern Roman custom, and then proudly parading them. An example of such Dearmerism, so I have been told, survives at Exeter Cathedral, where they use blue in Advent. If true, this is all the more daft because, whatever they did elsewhere in England, at Exeter Bishop Grandisson's Ordinale (14th century) clearly required violet (the dear Burgundian old boy very naturally preferred to operate iuxta morem curie Romane). Incidentally, in case any of you were wondering, its Latinity does carefully distinguish between violet and blue.

It allows, however, although optionally (non inconvenienter indui possent), the use of blue on double feasts in Advent and Lent. Since the Conception was a festum duplex, we have here "English" precedent for using blue on December 8.

Rumour has it that the use of light blue for feasts of the Theotokos is common in the Russian and other 'Slavic' Churches. Is this by Western influence? I find it a little unexpected in as far as in Byzantine iconography our Lady is normatively clad in red.

6 December 2016

Meeting old friends

Today we keep S Nicolas; for a couple of decades of my life, at Lancing, a Double of the First Class and a half-holiday when we all sallied forth down to Brighton to do our Christmas shopping or, in the case of the students, to imbibe. I remember browsing happily, one S Nick's Day, in that shop for remaindered books down East Street. I had my back to the window; and I was showing a scholarly interest in a large glossy volume entitled Forbidden Pictures From Ancient Pompei (I didn't buy it). Some cheerful drumming on the window behind me suddenly awakened me to the fact that a fair portion of the V Form approved warmly of my reading matter and shared my views about its academic significance.

The cultus of S Nicolas is one of the most ecumenical and one of the most ancient; he was a saint with as large a portfolio of Patronages as a Renaissance cardinal. He was, at Lancing, co-principal Patron with the Glorious Assumption of our Blessed Lady; on his feast day we used to sing the hymn composed for him by dear Basil Handford: Sancte, Sancte, Nicolas// Tute Patronus noster es// Laus et Deo Gloria// Sancte, pro nobis exor-a. So many of the waterside churches in Sussex, and elsewhere (Byzantine East as well as Latin West), have his Dedication. Wherever one goes, he is the old friend one so often seems to meet up with again. When we go to Gardone for the wonderful Roman Forum colloquium (have you signed up yet for 2017?), we offer our Masses each morning in the superb parish church dedicated Divo Nicolao (what a very 1750s way of writing!) high up the hillside overlooking the lake. Incidentally, one of the baroque ceiling paintings there shows S Nicolas Banishing the Moors. Megatopical?  Sancte, pro nobis exora!

But in the OF he is merely optional.

A point I would like to make is that the historical aspects of his cult mean that his observance is distinctly more significant than many feasts with a loftier 'intrinsic' status; even feasts, for example, of our Lord. S Martin is another saint about whom I would make a similar judgement. I would be far more outraged if either of them disappeared from the Calendar than I would at the disappearance of Christ the King from Excita Sunday, or S Joseph Opifex from May 1. Easy come, easy go, as Auntie used to say.

Does this mean that I lack the true Mind of the Church?

5 December 2016

Initiating processes

I've been thinking about the phrase "initiating processes rather than occupying spaces", which I heard somewhere.

I'm not a historian, but I think I read that Hitler never formally decreed the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem and certainly not verbally on paper; he just made sure that his intimates understood his feelings.

Is that the sort of thing the phrase means?

Patriarch Bartholomaios and Amoris Laetitia

So Patriarch Bartholomaios has put his money on Amoris laetitia. I think he may prove to be a ruinously poor gambler. But perhaps, as so often with regard to these Byzantines who are not yet in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, we should apply to their words a hermeneutic of asking what, in this exchange, are Constantinople and Moskow really saying to each other?

I rather doubt whether Bartholomaios, in his heart of hearts, really feels a lot of enthusiasm for a model of Universal Primacy which functions as the Bergoglian parody of the Petrine Ministry does. But Francis and Cyril met in Cuba ... Bartholomew's Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council failed (after so many years in preparation) to match up to the exacting standards of a damp squib ... the atmosphere in Istanbul seems to be getting dodgier and dodgier ... so I am not surprised that his All-Holiness currently feels badly in need of a Friend among the Big Boys in the School Playground.

I print here something I saw, words of one of our Separated Brethren, on the internet the other day:

"Speaking as one with a formal ecumenical dimension to his ministry, I can confidently say that the 'we' for whom I speak are prepared to sit down and discuss Benedict XVI's modest articulation of the papal office, whereas there is no way we could reasonably converse with Bergoglio, a dictator inventing dogma off the cuff who loves to dialogue with those who fully agree with him."

4 December 2016

Oxford Cathedral on December 4

I popped into the Cathedral the other day to warm my hands at what Mgr R A Kox and his chums in the SSPP would have advertised as a "Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stand". It is propped up against a modern and rather nasty statue of our Lady. Frankly, I think the flickering candles (none of that electrical technology here; modern Anglicans find Mystic Flicker more attractive) would be better placed before the bust of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey, whom I quite often visit. He would have some things to say about .... and .......

What a powerful part of the Ordinariate's Anglican Patrimony Pusey is. How splendid it would be if the Ordinariate were able to fund some promising young scholar to edit and publish his (unprinted) lectures on Typology, perhaps also to reprint the University Sermon on the Eucharist for which he was suspended a munere contionandi for two years. Typology is the Catholic way of understanding and using Scripture, needed more than ever in these times. And Pusey's Eucharistic teaching, based as it is on the complete realism of the Greek Fathers whom he so lavishly quoted, is just what we need for an age in which most Catholics stroll up to a 'Eucharistic Minister' without any reverence, take a Host and then stroll nonchalantly away, conveying It to their mouths and consuming It as they walk. Is such determined and ostentatious irreverence known to have existed in any other period of the Church's history?

And nearby is the tomb of Robert King, last Abbot of Thame and Oseney and the only recorded Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium. He was assigned that see in 1527, apparently, with the intention that he should provide episcopal ministry in the Southern (Oxfordshire) part of the gigantic diocese of Lincoln. Why Rheon? Because it was still in the news ... many books had been written since the siege of Nigripontis in Euboea in 1470? The end of that siege was marked by the Moslems with atrocities and massacres and by their elaboration of interesting ways of killing ... such as the sawing in half of the Christian leader. Plus ca change ...

In 1542, Henry Tudor formed a new Diocese of Oxford, with one of King's Abbatial churches (Oseney, just the other side of the Thames) as its Cathedral and King as diocesan bishop. The cathedra was soon moved to the Chapel of Cardinal College, and Oseney sold off. King, a veritable Tudor Ecclesiastic, sat at Cranmer's trial and survived all the changes introduced by successive Tudor monarchs until his death on December 4 1557. He was the first and the last Bishop of Oxford to be in full communion with the See of S Peter. The see remained vacant until 1567, when Oxford's next Bishop, Hugh Curwen, was appointed. Bishop Bonner had consecrated him with the Apostolic Mandate according to the rites of the Pontifical to be the Marian Archbishop of Dublin, but he had conformed to the 'Settlement' of Bloody Bess ... do you think he now regrets doing so? ... and he died in 1568. The see then remained vacant until 1589 ... I wonder why. Did an effective sede vacante of more than thirty years, 1557-1589, have anything to do with the very recusant character of Elizabethan Oxford? Or simply result from the poverty of the see?

Quorum Animabus Propitietur Deus.

3 December 2016

Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichthof

It is commonly held that the Nazi jurist Roland Freisler, while president of the Volksgerichthof, knew that he would find his 'defendants' guilty before he tried them, and had determined upon the death sentence well before he sentenced them. According to the narratives and the Youtube clips, he did quite a lot of dramatic shouting during trials, emphasising fortissimo e prestissimo the self-evident guilt of those who stood as yet unconvicted before him.

I was reminded of dear Freisler ... such a straightforward sort of bloke ... when reading about the recent rantings of the Dean of the Rota, Pio Vito Pinto. Of course, Pinto was not sitting in court and trying the Four Cardinals. And Pinto, since he is a Judge in Marriage processes, would be unlikely himself to be involved judicially in any possible procedings against the Four. But, in our tame and gutless legal system this side of the water, it is, I think, generally held to be indecorous, and probably prejudicial, for any member of the judiciary to express with great decision views about the certain guilt of, and extreme penalties appropriate for, named individuals who have not yet even been formally accused and certainly not yet found guilty.

Clearly, these foreign chappies are not much like our own boringly phlegmatic, pedestrian, and unimaginative English judges. Could this be because our judges are not guided by such well-honed certainties about the Holy Spirit?

2 December 2016


Those whose Altar Missal or Breviary dates from before 1962 will be familiar with the curious experience of realising, by seeing it in their books, that (e.g.) yesterday's S Andrew had, until very recently, a Vigil and a First Vespers. Whatever happened to them? Why are they nowhere to be seen in the 1962 books?

The tremendously Good News about Summorum Pontificum is that it has given seminarians and priests an enormous impulse to learn how to offer Mass according to the immemorially ancient Ordo Missae of the Roman Church.. If you, dear clerical reader, have learned how to do that, you don't need me to tell you that you have acquired a pearl of great price. But what is often not realised is that, as far as the Calendar is concerned, '1962' constituted a a very considerable break in continuity. You see, the process which led to the imposition in 1970 of the Novus Ordo did not start after 'the Council'; it had begun a couple of decades earlier when Pius XII and his youthful protege Annibale Bugnini set out on a two-decade journey to the Novus Ordo. During that period, Vigils and Octaves galore bit the dust; but perhaps the most questionable 'reform' of all was the abolition of First Vespers for all but the highest rank of festivals. This abolished the ancient Christian practice, inherited from the Synagogue, of starting a day on the previous evening.

What I am urging you to purchase, if you are not already familiar with it, is the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO for 2017. OK, you may very well not wish to follow it liturgically, but simply contemplating, day by day, what the old Roman Rite did before itching and twitching fingers got to work on it, is, believe me, a considerable education.

UPDATE: THE COMPILER HAS KINDLY PROVIDED A LINK FOR PURCHASERS. SEE THE THREAD. This ORDO can be sought from ordorecitandi@gmail.com; or from 59 Sandscroft Avenue, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7EJ, United Kingdom.

The Compiler of that ORDO also runs a blog explaining the pre-Pius XII Roman Rite the st lawrence press blog.

If 'Tridentine' is to refer to the actual liturgical books of S Pius V, as I think it probably should, then you can find out about the Tridentine Rite by looking at another blog by the same erudite author, called The Tridentine Rite. There you will discover that the Common Preface is (I mean, in the Missal actually issued by S Pius V) used on these green Sundays! You will also, I suspect, be surprised by some of the rather Puritanical prunings of the Calendar: for example, the elimination of 'non-biblical' feasts such as S Anne and the Presentation of our Lady. They soon returned, by popular demand; but they had sunk without trace under Pius V.

And the Office Hymns of S Pius V, of course, will not be those with which users of the 1962 Breviary are familiar. Those texts were produced in the 1620s by Urban VIII, aka Papa Barberini. The breviary of S Pius V had the ancient texts, sometimes totally different from the Barberini versions, which one will also find in the Sarum and Benedictine Breviaries.

Technical assistance, anywhere?

There is a rumour ... what a lot of rumours do float around in our Modern Church! ... that a member of the CBCEW recently endorsed the intemperate and disrespectful language used by a Latin-rite Greek prelate about the Four Cardinals. And that the same English bishop then went on to argue that those justified by grace might yet be incapable of living according to the moral law.

Gracious! I had rather thought that proposition attracted an Anathema at Trent. Perhaps readers who know their dogmatic theology a great deal better than I do could put me right on this.

And then I started to wonder: if a bishop does ... per impossibile, as it were ... walk into the position of being anathematised by an Ecumenical Council, does he fall victim to any Canonical penalty or sanction latae or ferendae sententiae? Excommunication, for example, to name but one. Or Interdict or Irregularity or Suspension or Deposition? Perhaps readers who know their Canon Law a great deal better than I do could put me right on this. We mere Ordinariate presbyters need a lot of help in understanding all this complicated technical stuff. We're just plain simple chaps.

Just think ... if only I were a proper Catholic priest, properly trained, I would know the answers to these tricky questions! And to so many more like them!!

Sancta Bibiana

I felt moved by today's Breviary lectiones, perhaps all the more so because they lack those miraculous details which we find in some Acta Martyrum.

It is, I suspect, probable that most of the Martyr Virgins were barely, if at all, into their teens when they bore their Witness. Like S Maria Goretti.

What wonderfully resolute girls they must have been. What rebukes to our weak faith and cool ardour. And to the compromises we make with the Zeitgeist.

30 November 2016


There may be readers here who have not yet made the acquaintance of the blog written by Dr Geoffrey Kirk, formerly Vicar of Lewisham and now in the Ordinariate. It is called Ignatius his conclave and I access it by googling gkirkuk.

Dr K used to write beautiful satire about the liberals and their entire project when we were still in the C of E. They used to complain about the 'tone' of the magazine we published. In the words of an old and much loved British Soap, they didn't like it up 'em.

Dr Kirk's views and his targets have hardly changed. All that has changed is that the baddies are now riding high within the Catholic Church herself.

S Andrew's Day ...

... is not only the Patronal Festival of Scotland and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but also the felicitous and significant day upon which Cardinal Pole absolved this realm from schism in 1554. Moreover, it is the anniversary of a marvellous scene on S Andrew's Day in 1569: the Absolution of the Diocese of Durham from Heresy and Schism. (Also a day to reread Eamon Duffy's Fires of Faith. Do it now before you forget.)

It is, moreover, if we gaze back at the Protohistory of the Ordinariate, the anniversary of the Consecration of Andrew Burnham as Bishop of Ebbsfleet (it was to be Bishop Andrew who appealed to Pope Benedict for help; thus formally setting in motion the process that led to the Ordinariate). In those days, the old system persisted in the Province of Canterbury of consecrating all bishops in London, and Andrew was 'done' in S Paul's Cathedral. My three main memories (apart from George Carey's dismal liturgical instincts) are of someone trying to die in the pew behind me in the South transept; of a remarkably inapposite sermon in which the preacher appeared to be making fun of the Orthodox (which is also the Catholic) practice of the Veneration of Relics; and of the scene, afterwards, on the steps outside.

As the custom used to be, the Consecration had been of two pontiffs for the price of one. The other consecrand was being provided to be a new suffragan for that illiberal liberal bishop, Selby of Worcester. Afterwards, at one end of the steps, a large queue formed up to kiss Bishop Andrew's ring and to receive his episcopal blessing. At the other end, the Worcester consecrand seemed to be doing a strange little ritual dance amid a small group of friends and family, intermittently yanking up his trousers to show off his Socks Of Many Colours. Perhaps he was a Mason, or an animist, or both.

The Ebbsfleet years were fun. And fine preparation for the real fun: the Ordinariate!

29 November 2016

Pio Vito Pinto

Name of the Dean of the Rota. I have warned you about him several times. He's one of those who believe that whatever Bergoglio says is the voice of the Holy Spirit - the hypersuperueberpapalists. He's been doing it again, in Spain, and talking about the Four Cardinals being stripped of their dignity. (I thank Professor Tighe for this information.)

Go and look at him. You can see him at EWTN News (English). Captured in the act of doing it.

I looked at the picture and asked myself:
~ is this the face of someone through whom the Holy Spirit is speaking?
~ is this the Face of Mercy?

Dead scary.

I hope that all our Partners in Ecumenical Dialogue are carefully reading about what being in Communion with a Bergoglian Papacy would really be like.

29 November, 2015, was the memorable ...

... day upon which the full Ordinariate Missal entered into lawful use. The day which confirmed the status, for example, of We do not presume as an official liturgical prayer within the English Catholic Church ... the day which formally established the possibility of celebrating something very much like the good old English Missal High Mass ... the day when our immensely distinctive ... the more distinctive the better ... liturgical Patrimony became dono papae Benedicti a family member of English Catholicism. Not, surely, a day which either poor, confused Archbishop Cranmer, as they tied him to the stake in the City Ditch outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College, could possibly have imagined; nor could that admirable Cardinal Allen, at the dark moment when they brought him news of the failure of the Armada. But a day on whose anniversary, doubtless, addicts of Lesbian poetry all over the Ordinariates will be singing Nun khre methusthen kai tina per bian ponen ... interspersed with vinous cries of Vivat Benedictus! Eis polla ete, Despota! Quantus et qualis Pontifex! Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus! Redeant dies fausti, annique Benedicti! Deprome, depromite!!

The song, indeed, of them that triumph, the shout of them that feast!

At this depressing moment in the history of the Church, how good to have something which is 101% worth celebrating!!

The Prayer I mentioned ... We do not presume ... is sometimes known among Anglicans as the Prayer of Humble Access or demotically as the Humble Crumble; a pre-Tractarian title was "The Address". Our greatest modern Anglican Thomist, Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, used to substitute it, in his daily private celebration of the Tridentine Rite in Mags, for the Priest's two private prayers immediately before Communion ... which is exactly the place it has been assigned in the Ordinariate Order of Mass. I append (look two lines lower) an older piece of my own about its unusual and distinctive theology.

27 November 2016

Suspense of the Magisterium: a footnote

Professor Tighe draws attention to two articles about the teaching of John of S Thomas (1589-1644), in which that writer treats, with discussions of the great writers of earlier centuries, the question of the Deposition of Popes.

These pieces are to be found on the website of the Dominicans of Avrille, under November last year. In commending them ... in this febrile atmosphere I had better make this clear ... I imply neither that I look for the deposition of this pontiff, nor that I subscribe to the ecclesiological analysis of these Dominicans.

But there are people whose temptation to the absurdities of sedevacantism seems impervious to my own repeated words of reason. Hence my commendation of other explorations of relevant theological resources.

26 November 2016

Going Shopping in North Oxford

Pam being away for a couple of days, I took myself off shopping. Nowadays the old Radcliffe Infirmary site in North Oxford, enhanced with the much grander title of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, is finally 'redeveloped'; so one can walk though from the Woodstock Road to Walton Street with, to ones North, the perfectly exquisite Tower of the Winds, built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus a couple of thousand years ago while he was paying one of his flying visits to Oxford ... or have I got my details a bit muddled here ...

It was a gloriously sunny spring day, and the Oxford sun, quite different from any other known sun, was shining directly onto the golden sandstone of the Tower, picking out the carvings of the Winds and of the Zodiac: can there be a lovelier architectural grouping than this? I fought Distraction down by comforting myself with promise of walking back the same way; and by recollecting how, when we were undergraduates, the Gazette carried this annual notice: The Director of the University Observatory gives notice that on fine and clear Thursday evenings in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms between the hours of eight and ten celestial objects will be shown through the telescope to members of the University and friends accompanying them.  I wonder if still does. Male undergraduates used to make the usual sort of adolescent jokes about which women undergraduates might qualify as celestial objects.

While the Tower was being built, Andronicus, so our venerable paradosis has it, took his meals up Walton Street at the nearby Greek Taverna and Deli to which I was heading: Manos's. Spetsofai, Melitzanosalata, you name it: I stocked up with a couple of days' worth of goodies. It was while I was returning that Disaster struck, as she so often does. Had you noticed?

You know how it is when you are retracing your steps in an opposite direction. Things strike you ... visually, I mean ... which you hadn't spotted on the first leg of your walk. What now caught my eye, to the South West of the Tower of the Winds, was a most singular structure; something like cheeses piled untidily on top of each other and covered with glass. Do you think that Aristophanes, in one of his more skittish moments, might have called it the Hyalotyropyrgoma? I investigated. It was called the Blavatnik School of Government. Callimachus might have been driven to add a fifth book to his Aitia in order to account for such a preposterous edifice.

Ronald Knox would probably have won a bar to his Gaisford by picturing Andronicus perched on the carving of the wind Lips and gazing across at the Blavatnik through his telescope while uttering plaintive but perfect Greek elegiacs. I wonder how that poor young Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins, if he had wandered across from Alyoggers, would have described it in his poem about Oxford ("Glassy Towery city and Yank-surrounded"?).

I'm sure the Blavatnik will serve its purpose of seducing architectural aesthetes (as well as wealthy foreign students) away from the Daughter University. Why waste precious time visiting the Fens to marvel at the Cambridge History Faculty Library when you can come to Oxford and boggle at the Blavatnik?

24 November 2016

Advent Sunday ... versus Orientem

I do beg Reverend Fathers to remember, as Advent Sunday gets closer, that there are people who have been made to suffer for the principle of Mass celebrated ad Orientem. Not only our Anglo-Catholic Fathers; Cardinal Sarah has been much mauled by the Nasties. Now they are turning on a worthy African Archbishop who is encouraging his clergy to return to this ancient practice ... the unwholesome Robert Mickens (the former Tablet chappie who just simply can't wait for the pleasure of attending "the Rat's" funeral) has been writing about it on the internet in his inimitable style.

There are those who seem to be terribly prejudiced against sub-Saharan Africans. In Anglicanism, we got quite accustomed to that because a number of Anglican liberal bishops are homosexualist ideological fundamentalists, while Africans tend to be more nuanced. The word GAFCON still makes some American and English eyes pop. It may also be relevant that one particular component of the groups that viscerally detest Joseph Ratzinger is the 'gay' lobby.

Time was when white lefties were very soft on Blacks and Ruskies. It soesn't seem like that nowadays. Whether the subject is Sex or Liturgy, these Anglowhities seem as unwilling to accept enlightenment from the South or from Moskow (I am alluding of course to the splendid recent interview given by Patriarch Cyril) as they are to look to the East for the coming of the Messiah. So your modern Black, in the view of these arrogant Caucasians, has got to be made to know his place, as Walter Kasper made clear when he (silly chap!) didn't know the journalist was wired up.

I applaud the courage of those who, in this very unpleasant cultural conflict, are prepared to stand up alongside Cardinal Sarah and be counted.

To stand up, in fact, facing East.

Quick-fix anxious Absolution Oz-style ... a cry (two cries) for help

Some Oz prelate, referring ... without, I feel, demonstrating the sort of respect traditionally shown to their Eminences ... which is why I don't feel that he merits much more respect from me ... to the Letter of the Four Cardinals, has said "Pastoral care moves within ambiguity. We now need pastoral patience not the quick-fix anxiety voiced here".

I thought I would write this valuable perception into the margin of my New Testament at Mark 10:12; but I am having a lot of trouble converting it into Koine Greek. Can somebody help?

Perhaps, too, we should incorporate these apercues into the Form of Absolution. "And I absolve you ambiguously from your sins without any quick-fix, in the Name ...". In Latin, ambigue would do perfectly well, but I can't think of an economical unperiphrastic way of saying "without quick-fix". Any ideas?

23 November 2016

Ad Orientem! Vivat Connecticut!

Two or three weeks ago, I had the privilege of staying with Fr (Dr) Cipolla at his splendid church in Norwalk in Connecticut (you've read a lot of his sermons on Rorate). What congregations! What liturgy! What music! What an MC and what a Director of Music! What hospitality! What a priest (and a cook)! And, as well as Father, I was privileged to get to know the celebrated Mgr Ignacio Barreiro ... what a long-standing champion of Life and of Tradition.

And what a Sacristy! And, just above the Vesting Board, what a notice! It gave instructions to priests celebrating in that church; and the two most important rules (this may not be verbatim) were:

In this Church, the First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, is always used.

In this Church, Mass is always celebrated ad Orientem.

What an example to us all! 



20 November 2016

SSPX Faculties

Fr Zed acutely reminds us* of the strange statement by the Holy Father at the start of the Year of Mercy that the Faithful could go to Confession to priests of the SSPX. Father pointed out that this, apparently, was not a formal and juridical granting of faculties. Indeed, it appears that it was not.

However, such a statement by a Roman Pontiff must inevitably create a common opinion that those clergy must have faculties to absolve, otherwise the Vicar of Christ would not have urged the laity to visit their confessionals. And Canon 144 makes clear that in cases of common error, the Church supplies the necessary jurisdiction. Hence there can be no doubt about the validity of such absolutions, however peculiarly roundabout the canonical means adopted by the Pope to achieve this end.

It would, surely, be simplest, in this age when so few are accustomed to make use of this sacrament, if every priest had jurisdiction to absolve vi ordinationis unless he had been explicitly denied that jurisdiction by a competent tribunal or superior, and except where the law itself witholds jurisdiction in the case of particular offences. I am surprised that 'liberals' do not agitate for this. Is it because they don't care about Confession?  

If the Holy Father wishes to leave a real Monument of his Year Of Mercy, I think this modest canonical adjustment would demonstrate serious intent. 

A broad solution of the status of the Society would be even more significant.

UPDATE I wrote this piece after reading Fr Zed's piece on Tuesday 15 of this month. There are more exotic rumours afloat now!

I know one should not look a Guest Horse in the Mouth ... but I would scratch my head a bit, and meditate upon Vergil's alliterative warning about Danai and their dona, if a 'regularisation' were to be accompanied by either (1) "We've let these chaps off believing loads of Vatican II so it's only fair to let the other lot off believing most of the Catholic Faith; or (2) "Now that I've been Merciful to these liturgical eccentrics in their irrelevant ghetto, we don't want any more of that ad Orientem et cetera stuff in the mainstream Church."


The collects we use at the beginning of Mass, and in the Divine Office, quite often have the pattern 'O God, who ...., mercifully grant that...' Thus, in the rather legalistic manner which is characteristic of the ancient Roman rite and of pre-Christian Greek and Latin poetry, some characteristic or deed of the Deity is cited as an appropriate precedent for the grace which is now sought of him. Many of Cranmer's collects in the Prayer Book reproduce this style, either because they are translations from collects in the old Roman Sacramentaries (most of his Sunday collects are) or because he was so used to the pattern that he automatically reproduced it in his own compositions.

But the ancient liturgical books of the Roman Church often abandon this style during Advent. They replace the sonorous descriptive relative clause ('who......') with an almost breathless opening imperative, demanding of God immediate and decisive action. Many of them take off from a phrase in Psalm 80 (Vulgate 79) ‘Stir up [Excita in Latin] thy power, and come and help us'. (This suits Advent: that psalm calls in the name of oppressed Israel upon her Covenant with God for help against her enemies: why not read it as an Advent devotion!)

In the pre-Reformation service books, Cranmer found four of these Excita collects appointed for Sundays and some more on the weekdays of the Ember Week. He kept two of them; and so does the Ordinariate Missal (which also admirably provides the old Collects for Advent II and the Ember Friday). Those two are:

(1) The collect for the last Sunday (and its week) before Advent - that is, today. Sadly, this collect is rarely heard nowadays on Sundays because it is displaced by the proper collect for Christ the King. It used popularly to be associated by English tradition with the start of work upon the Christmass pudding. The references to stirring and fruit helped here!
(2) Advent 4. Unfortunately (there is evidence that when he did this work in 1548-9 he was working fast and not going back over his drafts with a revising hand) Cranmer obscured in translation the Biblical origin of the original by writing 'O Lord, raise up...' instead of retaining - as he did for Trinity 25 - the vivid 'Stir up...'. And the end misses a point in the Latin, which could literally if nastily be translated ‘..that what our sins get in the way of, the forgiveness of thy mercy may accelerate.’ I suspect that this may go back to an early Christian and Pauline notion that whether the parousia comes later or earlier may to a degree depend upon the actions of Christians.

This collect survived into the English Anglican Common Worship for use on Advent 2. In the revised post-Vatican II Roman rite it is relegated to the relative obscurity of a weekday. Indeed, modern Roman liturgical tinkerers seem even more hostile than do Anglican ones to these superb and virile old collects. They replace them with other collects which may be taken from old Roman sacramentaries, but which are more pedestrian in their syntax and shy away from mention of Sin. The pre-Vatican II liturgy had a fair bit to say about human sinfulness and its disastrous consequences. Post-Vatican II, the ethos seems too often to be 'God, because of your grace, we are not really too bad; a bit more of your grace will make us even better’. What the Holy Father would rightly condemn as Pelagian.

For Advent I, Cranmer composed a stately expression of the Advent themes - indeed, some of its phrases are reminiscent of parts of the post-Conciliar Roman Advent prefaces. It is preserved in the Ordinariate Missal. When it used to be said at least twice daily all through Advent, it must have provided a superb catechesis of the meaning of the season. Nowadays it usually only gets a showing on the Sunday, and I rather wonder whether it says too much for one collect used once (of course, we could use it throughout Advent to conclude the Intercession). The old Roman Sacramentaries, in my view, were right to be terse and thematically tight. Renaissance writers such as Cranmer tended to a greater verbosity, and later practitioners were worse: see, for example the collect for Epiphany 6, where the writer (Cosin?) seems actually to forget, by the time he gets to the end of the collect, that he started off by addressing the Father.

My views will be clear: few people have written better collects than popes Leo, Damasus, Gelasius or Gregory; and if Cranmer has provided an English Version, why look a gift-horse in the mouth? Christian people whose Latin is rusty, whether or not they originate in the Anglican Patrimony, can do worse than to have a look at the Ordinariate Missal.

17 November 2016

A medlee of bloodsports metaphors

Surely, there are few pleasures more acute, more delightful to savour, or with more superb an after-taste, than that of watching another human impaled, wriggling, writhing, on the horns of a dilemma.

In a post some time ago, I relished the fact that the Anglo-Saxon Council of Hatfield, which promulgated filioque, was presided over by a Syrian monk of Byzantine culture, S Theodore. I had wondered how those rather pushy 'Orthodox' for whom it really matters to prove that the Saxon Church was "Orthodox" would get around that amusing little quirk of history.

Happily, my fishing line did not lie upon the water long without enjoying a catch. The suggestion duly appeared that the filioque in Hatfield must represent a deliberate Filioquist perversion of the authentic text of Hatfield. Oh frabjous day! Exactly like the claim that some Latin pervert must have added the filioque to the Quicumque vult.

To make that hare run, it would have needed the attachment of at least four bionic legs. Our account of Hatfield rests upon a text of Bede which is commonly constituted on the basis of four manuscripts all of which are eighth century. And there is, at this point, no variant reading in their texts. One could only get round that by positing a hypothetically "corrupted" archetype. But that would not have been able to be much later than the time of Bede himself. Whether the alleged filioquist perverter of the text of Hatfield is ipsissimus Baeda or someone very soon after Bede wrote his Historia Ecclesiastica, we would still be left with a very embarrassing piece of evidence for the filioquist enthusiasm of the Anglo-Saxon Church (is S 'Filioquist' Bede, incidentally, regarded as a Saint by "Saxon Orthodoxy"?).

But more. I had craftily perpetrated a slight simplification by saying that Hatfield sanctioned filioque. The text actually reads "et filio". In other words, the Council, using a minutely different lexic for saying precisely the same thing, sanctioned the substance of filioque before the advocates of that formula had even decided to promote it in exactly that verbal form.

Tally Ho! The bloodlust of the hunt!

16 November 2016

Parsons Galore

Entering Ireland recently, I was asked whether I was a "minister".

How that takes me back. It must be some fifty years since I was last described as a "minister". The family was on holiday in the South of Scotland, and we desired entry to a Church of Scotland church which contained one of those marvellous Anglian carved crosses. When the aged crone who kept the key had got my profession straight, "Och", she cried, "ye're a meenister". 

I once found a similar but much more culturally nuanced crone in County Kerry (Ireland does very good quality crones and the Kerry ones are best of all). I had knocked on a cabin door in the hope of finding a boatman to take me across the straights to an ancient monastic settlement on a tiny island called Illaunloghan. As she retired into the back room I heard her describing  me to her husband in awed tones as the Pairson. Although I have never held a benefice, I'm distinctly fond of that nice old term. I would never bridle at it. Infinitely better than the fearful American vocative "Reverend". I came across Parson later in a Breton church when I was looking at a bilingual monument to a former Parish Priest. The French version called him the Cure; the Breton, Parsoun. And you find it in medieval texts in the old Cornish language. (I did get the boat.)

In the novels of Dorothy 'Patrimony' Sayers, full of accurate observation of the usages and social delicacies of the 1930s, I recall an account of an old West Countryman telling an anecdote concluding with the words "And Old Parson [i.e. a previous incumbent], how he did laugh!" 'Parson' also has a whiff about it of Anthony 'Patrimony' Trollope and the rooks cawing over the Close at Barchester ... and of old well-worn much-loved Edwardian jokes ("What do Hell and the Smoking Room of the Athenaeum have in common?" "You can't see the fire for parsons".).

I think we need to restore this decent usage in the Ordinariate. They don't need it any more in the Church of England, because their country churches are mostly now in the hands of ladies of a certain age who prefer to be addressed and referred to as Jill or Jan or Jen. Come to think of it, the most authentic old-style Parson I can think of is the emeritus Bishop of Ebbsfleet (now disguised as a popish priest and pastoring a couple of the learned and admirable Dr Egan's country churches). I'm pretty sure he has never once ridden to hounds without wearing gaiters.

S Edmunde Abendoniae, ora pro nobis

How clever of the Moon to go into overdrive so as to illuminate and emphasise the Festival today of S Edmund, Patron of the diocese in which I am domiciled (Portsmouth; I am of course incardinated into the Ordinariate). This suddenly occurred to me as I was halfway through the Reading at Mass: "quasi luna plena in diebus suis lucet".

At Lauds and both Vespers, we have the V Nobis in hoc exsilio, sancte Pater Edmunde. R Caelestis patriae amorem, quaesumus, infunde. Antiphona Dilexit iustitiam et odivit iniquitatem, propterea moritur in exsilio.

A good day to be mindful of all the exiles in the world, all the millions of them.

15 November 2016


News that the refugee Franciscans of the Immaculate, to whom Bishop Egan gave a parish in Gosport, are to start up an internet radio station called Immaculata. On December 8.

I've not heard of a diocese that goes with more of a fizz than Portsmouth. Although there is good news of Plymouth under Mark O'Toole, who was so friendly to the Ordinariate clergy when we were paying our visits to Allen Hall during his rectorship there ...

14 November 2016


Readers will have read the news, at Fr Z and Rorate and Sandro Magister, about the Letter of the Four Cardinals to the Holy Father, seeking clarity on certain aspects of Amoris laetitia.

It must be a matter of sadness to all Catholics, whatever their 'political' complexion, that the Roman Pontiff apparently decided not to reply to their Letter. If this pontificate was not already in crisis, it most certainly is now.

It must be a matter of grief that other Cardinals and locorum Ordinarii have felt unable to join this initiative because they still have diocesan or curial responsibilities. I have heard from several sources about the atmosphere of fear that exists in Rome and elsewhere. It reminds me of the cruel attempts at intimidation which followed the publication of the Letter of the 45, of which I felt honoured to have been invited to be a signatory.

Apparently, it is now to be the particular ministry and calling of the elderly or the retired or the already sacked (because they have nothing to fear being sacked from) to speak with Parrhesia.  

Reliance upon fear is not Christ's way to govern His Church.

13 November 2016


Last night a couple of pieces I had in storage for the future escaped and elicited some admirable comments. Sorry. They're both back in storage.

Pelagianism and Prayer for the Departed

May the Souls of the Departed, especially of those who died in the wars between 1914 and the present day, by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ and the prayers of his Immaculate Mother, rest in peace.

Some time ago we took buses to Shipton-under-Wychwood (don't we have entrancing place-names in England?) and did a walk in the valley of the Evenlode (and beautiful river names?). In Shipton church is a palimpsest brass (the search engine should enable you to find my account of the palimpsest brass at Waterperry).

The 'front' bears an inscription about a woman who died in 1548. Interestingly, it bears no hint of expectation that it might be appropriate to pray for the repose of her soul. This calls for explanation: out in the Oxfordshire backwoods in 1549 the people rose in rebellion against the Prayer Book. So you don't expect to find there evidence of a Protestantism which by then had made little progress beyond some very small areas in the East of England. But the inscription cheerfully assured us that her virtues and her virtuous deeds had undoubtedly brought her straight to heaven.

You don't need to remind me that this assumption is not quite what poor dear Brother Luther thought he meant when he was plugging Justification By Faith Alone. But it is in line with the tens of thousands of funerary inscriptions dating from the ensuing Protestant centuries, postulating certain and immediate sainthood for every deceased person on account of their unbelievably virtuous lives (there is that old story about a little girl who read the gravestones in a churchyard and asked "Mummy, where are all the bad people buried?"). I wonder if anyone has ever written an interpretative account of how the academic doctrinaire Protestantism of Luther and Calvin led with such immediate and apparently automatic ease to its precise and polar opposite, a practical popular Pelagianism.

I do have a theory about this. It is that it was precisely the much-derided 'chantry' system, with its financial link between clergy remuneration and masses for the welfare of the souls of the Faithful Departed, which de facto reminded common unacademic medievals that we are all sinners who depend upon God's gracious mercy for our salvation. De facto, take that away and common unacademic folk, needing to fill a conceptual vacuum, will replace it in their own minds with the assumption that since the recently departed Mary Smith doesn't need masses said for her soul - the government has just declared this and has sequestrated all the assets of all the chantries - ergo if we love Ms Smith we need to be convinced that her good deeds outweigh any sins. It becomes psychologically important to shy away in our minds from the disturbing consequence that, if this is not so, then she is, er, in Hell. Moreover, if there is no Purgatory, then she is already in Heaven ... or Hell. So ... this is my tentative hypothetical proposal ... the paradoxical emphasis in popular Protestantism upon salvation by works (which is ultimately to feed into a facile Universalism which assumes that everybody except probably for Adolf Hitler and Myra Hindley will end up Saved), emerged from a mass crisis of popular rethinking about soteriology and the Departed in 1548.

On the back of the brass, in the reused original dating from 1492, we have a potent reminder of the complex and deeprooted system which was destroyed by the suppression of the chantries. It is an account of bequests to the Guild of our Lady in Aylesbury for Masses and Dirges. Presumably it came on to the market in the despoliations which followed the suppression of the chantries (statute of December 1547). It reminded me of the manuscript* description of endowments made by Sir John Percival, Lord Mayor of London in the reign of the first Tudor, which hung by his tomb in the London City church of S Mary Woolnoth; presumably such public declarations were at least partly intended to ensure the compliance of future generations in fulfilling the dispositions.

*Recently rediscovered at the back of a cupboard in S Mary Woolnoth; the interested can find an account in a piece I published in 2007 in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association (they might also reread Duffy Stripping pp 515ff.). Sir John's document survived because, amid all the provisions for masses for his soul, which will have become obsolete in 1548, there were a few other provisions for benefactions which did not thus become obsolete. A later hand has marked these surviving provisions with an arrow in the margin.

12 November 2016

New Papal Condemnation!!

Pope Francis breaks his silence!

A "In authorising regular use of the older Mass, now referred to as the 'extraordinary form', now retired Pope Benedict XVI was 'magnanimous' toward those attached to the old liturgy, he [Pope Francis] said. 'But it is an exception'.

B "Pope Francis told Father Spadaro he wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it. 'And I ask myself: why so much rigidity? Dig dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid'".

Marvellously magnificent stuff from the Roman Pontiff!!! I'll try to get in with my comments on it before Fr Z does with his!! Here goes:

A This is splendid: an authoritative declaration that the word "extraordinary" means "exceptional". Let us hope that an appropriate Authority very soon makes it clear that the employment of "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion" must only ever be a tremendously rare "exception". Perhaps a simple rule such as this would suffice: "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may only be used in parishes in which there is at least one Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form." Could anything be more equitable than that? Anything more ad mentem Summi Pontificis?

B This is even better!!! Liturgical "rigidity ... always hides something"!! After Cardinal Sarah made his splendid and exemplary call for a return to versus Orientem, various hierarchs whom out of respect I am most certainly not going to name got very excited about his words, and even mistranslated some Latin in their Rigid anxiety to discourage clergy from taking His Eminence's laudable advice. So, if we are to assume consistency on his part, Pope Francis thinks that hierarchs with a "rigidity" about liturgical Orientation, are "insecure"!!!

Now: here's a diverting question for readers to mull over. Our beloved Holy Father, having asserted that the "Liturgically Rigid" may be "insecure", gives as an alternative: "or even something else". What is this "even something else", which is clearly "even" worse than "insecurity"? Is he suggesting that the "Liturgically Rigid" may be guilty of a tendency towards Homicide? Or Pride? Or Racism? Or Idolatry? Or Theft? Or Paedophilia? Or Genocide? Or Dishonesty? Or Grinding the Faces of the Poor? Or merely the preferred sin of this pontificate, Adultery?

I think we should be told! I am certainly very keen to know of what, without even knowing it, I am probably, in the Holy Father's view, guilty!! So, surely, are those hierarchs who are with such "rigidity" opposed to versus Orientem!!! 

Dig! Dig!