30 January 2016

Jan: 30: Beati Caroli Regis et Martyris???

What case could one make for regarding King Charles Stuart as a Beatus? Just suppose one wanted to, and just suppose an enthusiastic advocate really tried to do his best? (If the very thought of this makes you go hot under the collar, please do not read any further.)

We must start with basics.

When was Beatification invented? In a funny sort of way, Beatification came before Canonisation. This is true philologically: any who indulge in Latin liturgy will be aware that by far the commonest word in liturgical Latin for a saint is beatus, whether in the Canon or the Collects. It is also true juridically; because the essence of Beatification is: the raising of a particular person to the Altars of a particular, local Church ... not of the Universal Church. And, except for certain 'Biblical' Saints, every 'saint' began with a local cultus. Only later did he or she, perhaps, become a popular saint throughout the whole Christian world; a process which might grow naturally out of pilgrimage or the distribution of relics. It is the notion of a Universal Saint which was secondary and which gradually developed. And the declaration that someone fell into that Universal category was a natural function of a Universal Primate. You would not expect the Bishop of Lesbos to have the right to dictate to the Bishop of Lincoln who was to be honoured on the calendar of his Church. So whenever a local Church wished to enhance supranationally the status of one of its own great sons or daughters, it obtained a Bull of Canonisation from the Holy See. The first known example seems to be from 993; and the system was in full flood a couple of centuries later when, for example, Ss Edward the Confessor, Richard, and Thomas Becket were so honoured by Roman Pontiffs. These instincts contributed to a process of Roman centralisation.

But local initiative did survive the Middle Ages. According to that great and erudite Pontiff, Benedict XIV, the last known local act of locally raising a man to the Altars of his local Church was a Beatification of Boniface of Lausanne by the Archbishop of Malines in 1603 (the privileges and prestige of the great local Western Primacies took a long time to fall into abeyance). And one of the first actions of Benedict XVI was to send beatifications back to the local Churches. The preliminary processes, of course, do continue to take place under the authority of the Vatican, but the significance of the act as inherently local has been reinstated. ('Benedict' seems a papal name linked with erudition and a broad understanding that 'Tradition' means something wider than 'What we've done for the last last ninety years'!)

And what actually happened at beatification was nothing like the razzamatazz (etymology??) of the modern event. What occurred was simply that Mass and Office were authorised for use, with a clear indication of limitations. Thus S Philip Neri was beatified in 1615 simply by the granting of permission for Mass and Office to be celebrated in the Oratorian Chiesa Nuova in Rome. Pope Paul V made it clear that the privilege exended to nowhere else at all, and reminded the Roman Oratorians to celebrate Philip in a comparatively low-key way.

Charles Stuart was executed in 1649. In 1662, in the Anglican Provinces of Canterbury and York, Mass and Office were promulgated by both Church and State, and were universally used within the jurisdiction of the King of England and Ireland. So ... ... could it be argued that a cultus of Blessed Charles Stuart King and Martyr is lawful, as being completely in accordance with precedent?

(Incidentally and in passing: nobody in England claimed any authority to insist that Charles Stuart be given a cultus in Poland, Peru, or the Peloponnese. And indeed, in the forms of service which were brought into use, Charles is not, as far as I have noticed, ever called 'Saint'; while the B-word is used quite generously. Referring to him as "St" seems therefore to me to lack justification. We can only be discussing the possibility of his equipollent Beatification.)

Of course, I know the objection which will be made: that Stuart was a schismatic or worse; that the ecclesial community in which his cultus flourished was schismatic or worse; hence it possessed no canonical authority or ecclesial authenticity; and so none of all this stuff 'counts'. Waste of my time.

Believe me, I can see the force of this. 

Still ... one problem which this objection will have to counter is that beatifications and canonisations done by antipopes have sometimes 'stuck'. "Paschal III" canonised someone called Charlemagne, and his cultus has still not disappeared. And those canonised have included holy people who, in the Great Schism of the West, adhered to a prelate now regarded as an antipope. Yes; I know they wanted to adhere to the true pope ... perhaps wanted to do so quite desperately ... but, de facto, canonically, historically, they just didn't.

But the biggest problem which such potential critics will have to face is this. 

FACT: Some of the Byzantine Churches ('Uniates') now in full peace and communion with the See of S Peter use Calendars containing Byzantine worthies who died while Rome and Byzantium were disunited; and, moreover, whose canonisations were enacted by "schismatic Greek Orthodox" synods. I have in mind the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch (His Beatitude is a Successor of S Peter! Surely, the most senior prelate in the Catholic Church after the Pope?). (The same, I have been told, is true of the Ukrainian Church: accurate information?). 

So: people who died in schism and who were then canonised by people in schism can have the cultus of a Saint within the Catholic Church.

To help to focus the minds of readers, I say now that I will decline to enable comments which criticise the thesis I have deployed WITHOUT taking seriously the sections above in red.

I add that I can myself think of a detail in Benedict XIV's historical exposition of Beatification which might undercut one part of this thesis; and of elements in the ecclesiology of Benedict XVI which could be used to subvert another. Readers may well be able to detect other flies in my ointment. Fair enough. I am privileged to have some extremely able and acute readers. But I am not going to give space to mere angry rants.

29 January 2016

From the Lone Star State ... UPDATE UPDATE

 ... a dear Texan friend informs me that EWTN will be showing, live, the Consecration of Stephen Lopes as Ordinary of the Chair of S Peter. In Britain, apparently, this is a matter of 2 a.m. on February 3. UPDATE or is it an hour earlier? ... SEE THREAD

Sounds worth the effort to me!!

28 January 2016

Have a good summer

I expect readers will have noticed, on Rorate and NLM, notices of the Conference in Norcia. The website is http:www.albertusmagnuscss.org/p/summer-program-2016.html

You will be able to hear, among others, the charismatic and erudite Dom Cassian Folsom, and the learned and lucid Fr Thomas Crean. As well as much else, you will be taught what S Thomas Aquinas taught about the Letter to the Hebrews. And you need to know about that. It is a Letter substantially ignored by the recent very iffy Vatican document (NOT Magisterial) on Church and Jews. It is an Epistle disliked by Cardinal Kasper. Do you need any further recommendation? July 10-24. I do urge you to take this seriously.

But there's somewhere else you should have been just before that. The Roman Forum annual Conference will have been 'on' Lake Garda June 27-July 8. This year we shall be be concentrating on the 500th Anniversary of Luther's so-called Reformation. There's going to be endless nonsense about Luther and his -ism over the next couple of years. You need to know the facts. I don't know who's on this year's list, but last year you could have nattered with Henry Sire (Phoenix from the ashes), Chris Ferrara (The Great Facade), have listened to the greatest living Church Historian, Professor de Mattei. And Professor John Rao and many others from all over the world. This is for 'unacademic' and 'academic' people. We are a wonderful mix!

Finally, in the beautiful hills of North Wales, the LMS Latin Summer School. With Fr Richard Bailey of the Manchester Oratory and myself. For both clergy and laity; for beginners and advanced students. July 24-31. Latin gives you an entry-ticket to the great theological and liturgical tradition of the Western Catholic Church. This course enables you to examine your own roots. Or is that what hairdressers do?

26 January 2016

Father James Bradley

Sorry: I forgot to give you the name of the author of the blog I've just said we should all be reading!

Do you read ...

 ... the blog Thine Own Service, written by a learned young priest of the British Ordinariate currently studying in North America?

I most warmly commend it.

And if you hit LITURGY on its sidebar, you will find well-researched and illuminating articles on the Ordinariate Missal.


Law, Custom, and the Ordinariate Liturgy

In our Missal, there are references to "where it is the custom". One, randomly chosen, such example is the use of black vestments on Good Friday.

"Custom" usually assumes usage over a considerable period. Although Canon 2 makes clear that the Code does not itself cover liturgical matters, it may be useful to consider what the 1983 Code does say about consuetudo, custom. [Furthermore, a useful discussion of the situation under the previous (1917) Code can be found in J O'Connell The Celebration of Mass (1940) Volume 1 pp 27ff..] Canon 26 states that a consuetudo vigenti iuri canonico contraria aut quae est praeter legem canonicam, vim legis obtinet tantum si legitime per annos triginta continuos et completos servata fuerit. Even if a canonical law explicitly prohibits future customs, praevalere potest consuetudo centenaria aut immemorabilis. But neither an Ordinariate considered as a whole, nor any particular Ordinariate Group, Mission, or Parish can, as such, be older than 2011. How, therefore, can "custom", in the legal sense, exist in an Ordinariate?

Only, surely, if one takes such corporate groups as being in corporate and lineal and juridical continuity with the groups which existed in the Anglican Communion before they entered into Full Communion with the See of S Peter.

It appears therefore that communities possessing such continuity are to be canonically considered as having been communitates legis saltem recipiendae capaces (Canon 25).

As far as concerns the whole Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham, it may be said that we came out from a community which had the following customary principle: "the minister who is to conduct the service may in his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance" (C of E Canon B:5; but I am citing it not as law but as evidence of settled custom). This maxim was very generously applied, with collusion at every level.

I will add that this maxim constitutes an inherent part of the ethos and spirituality we have brought with us. Vide Dom Gregory Dix Shape of the Liturgy (1945) pp 716-718; 587-589. It has a more than centennial prescription since it goes back as far as the publication of the first edition of the English Missal in 1911; and, in a vaguer form, well beyond that. It can draw support from the writings of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, and ... Metropolitan Hilarion!

25 January 2016

Idling fecklessly ...

 ... among some old off-prints from the Zeitschrift fuer Papyrologie und Epigraphik containing papers by the late and still lamented Martin West, I was struck by this phrase: "It is a delightful thing to read a neatly written papyrus containing real digammas".

Now ... doesn't that sentence embody the veritable Quinta Essentia of Oxford?

23 January 2016

Intolerance of minorities (2)

The Priestly Fraternity of S Peter, FSSP, was erected with lightning speed after the uncanonical episcopal consecrations performed by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988. The promise was that the participants would be given, within the canonical unity and structures of the Church, the 'deal' which had been agreed with Archbishop Lefebvre; the 'deal' which he had signed, but had thought better of overnight, and had repudiated the next morning.

Broadly, this is what the FSSP was given ... although the most significant item in that package, the provision for them to have a bishop, never materialised, and, to this day, never has.

Little more than a decade later, things, apparently, were not well. In the middle of 2000, the Fraternity priests learned that their canonical election of a new superior had been suspended, a new superior was to be parachuted in, and the Rectors of the Fraternity's seminaries were replaced. A letter referred to "a certain spirit of rebellion against the present-day Church" among the seminarians. And one (otherwise generally sympathetic) Cardinal later explained to journalists that the "Fraternity's members must be helped in their endeavour to strike a balance between their original charism ... and the outcome of their insertion within the ecclesial reality of today". Mark that phrase!

It is not easy to see how the ecclesial reality of today can mean anything other than the prevalent ethos of Novus Ordo Catholicism. "Striking a balance" looks to me horribly like the old "Latinisation" as it used to be applied in a "uniate" context: the intolerance of the majority towards a culturally different minority, of which, for some reason, they feel dreadfully fearful. Or is the problem that Traditionalists are not humble enough? That they continue to address reasoned questions to the ecclesial reality of today?

Ecumenism is fashionable in some Catholic circles. I have long suspected that 'liberal' Catholics, who profess a sympathy for Ecumenism, favour it because their real desire is to change their own Church so that it conforms to the paradigms of Liberal Protestantism. Be that as it may, there is something strange about Catholics who have a professed warm ecumenical enthusiasm for ecclesial bodies which have been separated from them for half a millennium ... but who yet have a visible and vocal visceral intolerance towards fellow Catholics living loyally in canonical structures confirmed by the Church.
To be continued.

22 January 2016

An entertainment for Latinists

Dr Shaw, on the LMS website, draws our attention to a fine document (Sacrificium laudis) of B Paul VI in which the Blessed Pope makes, in 1966, a strong, almost hysterical, plea for the retention of Latin in Religious Communities. The website provides links to Latin and Italian versions, and a translation into English by the learned Fr Crean, to whom the movement for renewal within Tradition owes so much.

Latinists may enjoy reading the Latin text and totting up the typos and errors.

It's almost as if the text itself is designed to highlight the magnitude of the problem!!

21 January 2016

A Mandatum even more Novum UPDATE

Our Holy Father has commanded to be changed the Novus Ordo prescriptions for the Pedilavium so that the group whose feet are washed may include a diverse group of the Faithful, not excluding females. This is, of course, entirely within his competence.

But, most interesting, both his own words, and the consequent Decree of the CDW, clearly restrict the group to "the Faithful" [fideles once] and "the People of God" [populus Dei twice]. I do not know of evidence that this restriction was explicitly present in the previous legislation.

In the past, Papa Bergoglio ignored the Law as it then stood; now that he has changed that Law, I wonder if he will himself obey it by excluding the unbaptised.

If he does, I will consider this an advance. If he continues his previous arbitrary approach to the Law of which he is himself the supreme giver upon Earth, I may think the less well of him.

UPDATE Interesting that it took the CDW more than a year to put the Sovereign Pontiff's wishes into effect.

Intolerance of minorities (1)

In 1966, a former Conciliar peritus, Fr Ratzinger, wrote some very far-sighted words about Ecumenism: "The Catholic has to recognise that his own Church is not yet prepared to accept the phenomenon of multiplicity in unity; he must orient himself towards this reality ... the Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other Churches. The Church has not yet prepared for them a place of their own, but this they are legitimately entitled  to ..."

It is important to realise that this idea, of preparing a place for separated ecclesial bodies, does not exclude an 'Ecclesiology of Return'. Those who have wandered from the Unity of S Peter need to return, and return must imply a full acceptance of everything that the the Catholic Church has dogmatically defined as to be accepted as of Divine Faith: everything defined both before and after the original separations. But that being said, the Church should indeed 'prepare places' in which those who have been separated can flourish with their own charisms.

Anybody who denies this is denying the propriety of the processes employed by the Holy See for many centuries in welcoming 'uniate' communities.

But, even when it is a matter of the re-integration of groups within the family of Western Catholic Christianity, there has been the problem of the differences between these groups and the ethos of what we might call the 'mainstream' Latin Church. Just as the Popes, for centuries, had needed to work and to legislate and to exhort in order to prevent the Eastern Catholic sui iuris Churches from being 'Latinised', so there remains a persistent tendency for the 'mainstream' of the post-Conciliar Western Church to be uneasy about the very existence in its midst of groups which are different from the Novus Ordo ethos which has taken over much of the Western Church.

In theory, especially among 'liberals', diversity is a trendy in-thing. In reality, among management circles generally within the Latin Church, diversity is about as truly popular as a Rumanian Beggar at a Mayfair Wedding. There are those who have a deep visceral suspicion of any others whose expression of Catholicism is at all different from their own. Readers will remember the uproar among 'liberal' prelates, the Trautmanns and the Wuerls and the Murphy O'Connors, about Summorum Pontificum. Someone should put together a jolly little anthology of the various 'guidelines' dreamed up by some such gentry in order to impede and evade the plain meaning of that piece of papal legislation.

'Tolerance' is fine as a mantra as long as it doesn't dare to take itself seriously.

I can think of three example: the FSSP, the FFI, and the Ordinariates.

To be continued.

20 January 2016

Ratzinger, Pope Francis, Surprises, and New Wine

" ... the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

I hope that our beloved Holy Father understands these elegant and focused words of Joseph Ratzinger. My great fear is that we may be where we were in the pontificate of Montini: a situation where dangerous men successfully plotted to get their hands on the levers of power in Rome. Another quotation from Ratzinger: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ...".

I think that the greatest risk at the present moment, doctrinally, is just such a corrupt maximalisation of the powers asserted on behalf of the Papacy. This is so immensely dangerous because it could be the prelude to the promotion of innumerable gross errors in the fields of Faith and Morals.

If the one man whose primary function is to resist innovation is himself made a front for innovators ...

Newman, Pope Francis, Surprises, and New Wine

" ... it is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora [barrier] or break in the development of doctrine. And it is a objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift."

It is not easy to gauge how our beloved Holy Father understands his office. At my most pessimistic, I fear that, not being a theologian, he has been misled by some of those around him, such as that sinister Archbishop Fernandez and the sycophantic Pio Vito Pinto.

If such people have persuaded the Sovereign Pontiff to adopt a view of his office which contradicts these happy words of Blessed John Henry Newman, I think they have done the Pope, and the Church, an immensely grave disservice.

19 January 2016

Sedevacantism ...

... and references to our Holy Father as the "Apparent Pope" or the "Copope" or anything similar, I will not enable. Popes have been heretics before, but they did not thereby cease to be popes, even though condemned by an Ecumenical Council and/or anathematised by their own successors. Sedevacantism is nonsense. Not that, even on the most pessimistic analysis, Pope Francis has actually quasi-Magisterially taught heresy. What I'm saying is that if he did, he would still not cease to be pope. This has been, and will remain, the constant policy of my blog.

Readers who doubt whether I know what I'm talking about could try reading a well-argued series on this subject which Bishop Williamson put on his blog two or three months ago.

Or is he, also, a cryptomodernist?

Pope Francis again, I'm afraid.

Like most readers, I rarely or never feel quite sure what our Holy Father actually means. Added to this is our natural inclination to treat with respect whatever a Roman Pontiff says (even when he speaks in a low Magisterial register). Accordingly, I am unwilling to join in the widespread criticisms of statements like his homily yesterday (Monday), in which he spoke about accepting new teaching, or 'surprises', from the Holy Spirit, 'new wine', and such things.

But I will remind you of something which we know we are bound to believe because it is the dogmatic teaching of an Ecumenical Council (Vatican I), worded with clarity.

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that, by his revelation, they might reveal new teaching,


                                                              so that, by his assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, or in other words, the Deposit of the Faith."

If Pope Francis, or any pope, were ever to teach contrary to that doctrinal statement, he would be teaching heresy. A pope is as subject to Catholic Doctrine as I am and you are.

It is therefore the duty of each of us to gloss his words with such a hermeneutic as to be able to read them as being not contrary to what was taught by Vatican I.  

17 January 2016

Next Sunday, January 24

What a pity that the CBCEW has parked Racial Justice Day onto what, this year, is the Sunday within the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Yet another indication, I suppose, of how far "Unity" has now slipped from being a sexy cause.

The "Liturgy Office" Website says that RJD is now permanently on the Third Sunday before Lent. What has Septuagesima done to deserve this?

According to Archbishop Longley, the "Liturgy Office" itself didn't get round to doing anything about the imminence of this year's RJD until a day or three ago. Shows how unimportant all this stuff is even to them!

I wonder how much the "Liturgy Office" costs each year; and whether it serves any purpose other than that of manufacturing its own job. Anybody got copies of the CBCEW budget? And do diocesan budgets reveal the costs of "Diocesan Liturgy Offices" or whatever they're called? How much is this industry costing the aging pewfodder?

In the Ordinariate, despite having our own sui iuris usage of the Roman Rite with its different Calendar and ORDO, we don't, as far as I am aware, pay anybody to fulfil such roles. World-wide Traddidom leaves management of the Extraordinary Form to the Ecclesia Dei people in Rome. We travel light (expediti) through this world!

Does the Ukrainian Eparch have an Eparchial Liturgy Office? Or do his folk just get on with praying their ancient and beautiful Liturgy, and letting it form them with its untrendy eternal truths?

16 January 2016

The 105 ...

... 'Senior Anglicans' who wrote a letter about homosexuality before the Anglican Primates' Meeting make up an interesting list. OK, it is composed partly of sprightly old gents who having retired from their sees no longer feel constrained by office; but have a look at some of the others. All those Deans, including the deans of once 'Catholic' dioceses and cathedrals such as Truro and Exeter and Chichester. And, most sinister, those professionally involved in the vetting and brainwashing of clergy and seminarians. The Principal of Mirfield (!!! ... what would Raymond Raynes have said? ...) and just you read the CVs of David Ison and Martyn Percy.

Will Vacancy-in-See committees really be able to hold the line against an obviously considerable number of ambitious apparatchiks? For how long?

Women Bishops ... Presbyterians at the Altar ... Sanctified Sodomy ... is there any (present, imminent, probable) aberration, or combination of aberrations, which will lift the veil from the eyes of 'Catholics' who still linger over there?

15 January 2016

Pope Benedict and his Ordinariates

As we celebrate this Fifth Anniversary of our Ordinariate, we naturally celebrate also our Founder ... with very much love and loyalty and with thanksgiving to God. I don't know if you remember where you were when you heard of Benedict's election: I certainly do (a little village near Land's End), and I recall that sudden surge of exultation: Our friend has become Pope! Now anything can happen!

Three things which did happen, three linked things, stand out about the last Pontificate: its teaching with regard to the Hermeneutic of Reform in Continuity within the Church; Summorum Pontificum; and Anglicanorum coetibus. I will return to these in a moment.

I wish I could have added, as a fourth, the Year of Faith. In that Year, the Holy Father hoped that there would at last be a real appropriation of what the Council actually said. Sadly, his attempt was not a great success. 'Traddies' simply hope that the Council will soon be forgotten. 'Trendies' have a terrible gnawing fear which plagues their sleeping hours ... the hideous nightmare that, even now, ordinary Catholics might actually read the Conciliar documents and thus recognise the deceits practised upon them after the end of the Council by well-meaning men who were prepared to tell lies because they were in a hurry.

It was in the interests of neither agenda to blow the dust off those old yellowing ('Abbott') paperbacks!

What Pope Benedict realised was that the post-Conciliar corruptions had become too deeply rooted for them to be eliminated overnight by mere executive fiat ... although he did provide back-up in Magisterial documents to which reference could be made. He selected instead, for his weapon, the interesting and fashionable idea called subsidiarity. When bishops clamorously invoke this notion, what, of course, they have in mind is a power-grab for bishops and their Conferences. Elegantly, even craftily, Benedict undercut this by conferring upon every presbyter of the Latin Church the right to use the 'Extraordinary Form' without needing permission from anyone! The sheer outrageous cheek of it! Subsidiarity, not as an extra weapon for bully-boy liberal bishops, but as an inalienable right for each and every individual presbyter however junior; indeed, for any coetus of laics! Naturally, the 'trendier' areas within bishopland exploded in fury and attempted to contrive ingenious ways of circumventing the legislation. Sed frustra.

By the way: it is worth recalling the doctrinal element in that initiative: Benedict's clear and explicit teaching that a rite, sanctified by a millennium and a half of use, cannot [not just should not: cannot] simply be abolished. In other words, in liturgical matters Tradition counts for more, has far more auctoritas, than mere legislative enactments. This is distinctly revolutionary stuff for Catholics. It is only within Anglican Catholic and Orthodox circles that I had heard it before ... most insistently when I used to talk with the erudite Prebendary Michael Moreton of Exeter (see my post of two or three days ago). Seventy years ago Dom Gregory Dix wrote about "the sanction in Liturgy" being "not 'law' but 'custom'".

Benedict's mistrust of 'liberal' episcopates lies also at the heart of his wise provisions for Catholic Anglicans. He had experienced the debacle of the 1990s (well described in Dr Oddie's The Roman Option), and was determined to learn from the mistakes made in that sad period. Accordingly, he carefully avoided consulting local hierarchies (and, happily, no leaker broke his confidences); very sensibly, he brought his plans to fruition in private and then sprang them on a waiting world. At their joint damage-limitation News Conference, Vincent Nichols looked even more shock-stricken than Rowan Williams! It was an odd moment for us: we were consumed with joy while the Archbishop we were deserting, and the Archbishop we were joining, both seemed equally horrified!

And, when we looked at the small print, we discovered that the Pope had done his best to build in protections against local episcopates who might attempt to take the game over. When a new Ordinary is to be appointed, the Terna is not composed by a Nuncio who might, in some cases, possibly have 'gone native' and adopted the midset of some of the local bishops. No; the Council of the Ordinariate composes the Terna. This detail also showed his great confidence in both the orthodoxy and the prudence of future Ordinariate clergy who at that point had not even yet entered into Full Communion. The contacts we had made had done their job. He knew us. He trusted us.

Benedict attempted to leave in place a carefully developed Magisterium; but the essence of his plan was to give to good men and true, whether Latin Mass Catholics or Arriving Anglicans or whoever, the freedoms and protections to follow the guidance, the gentle breath, of the Holy Spirit, with as little risk as might be of local ecclesiastical oppression.

I do not see what more this good old man could have done, or how he could have done better what he did do. It is now for us to burnish the tarnished sanctities, to drive the smoke of Satan out of the Temple, and to draw the People of God back to the Faith which sanctified and saved their ancestors ... pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova ... the Faith of our Fathers which in many places is now almost forgotten, or is viewed with that same ideological hatred which the regime of Elizabeth Tudor stirred up against it centuries ago in the Age of the Martyrs. "Give us the tools and we'll finish the job", we said to Joseph Ratzinger. He obliged. God calls us, not to whinge, but to do.

My goodness me, what an exhilarating pontificate that was in which to be alive! Quis inter doctores Benedicto sapientior? Quis inter mystagogas sagacior? Vivat, Vivat Benedictus! Ad multos annos, plurimosque annos! Vivat! VIVAT!! VIVAT!!!

14 January 2016


On the ANGELICO PRESS blog, Mr H J A Sire published yesterday (January 13) an update of his much-read book Phoenix from the Ashes. I take the liberty of commending this addition warmly to readers.

I grab this opportunity to comment on Mr Sire's narrative style by means of a comparison:
Dr Aidan Nichols, making a characteristically kindly but perhaps rather faint-hearted defence of the documents of Vatican II, wrote " ... the accents of the great doctors are audible in much that is non-controversial in this corpus of teaching ...".
Henry Sire (Phoenix from the Ashes) expresses himself with perhaps a little less sweetness than Fr Aidan: " ... the progressives were not in fact very original. Since on many subjects they had nothing in particular to to say, large tracts of the documents consist in unimpeachable statements of the Church's traditional teaching."

When these liberal chappies were orthodox, Sire suggests, it was only because they were too stupid for original thought!

Our Ordinariate

Tomorrow is the fifth Anniversary of the Foundation of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham and Blessed John Henry Newman. Gracious, what a lot seems to have happened in a short time!

It is also the fifth Anniversary of the Appointment of the Right Reverend Mgr Keith Newton Protonotary Apostolic as Ordinary. All his subjects, both clerks and laics, will wish him every blessing as he continues to guide the flock entrusted to him.

If I may venture a personal hope, it is that our next quinquennium will be characterised by a rolling-out of the riches embodied in our Ordinariate Missal ... summarising, encapsulating, as it does the liturgical part of our Patrimony.


                                                    TITBIT FOR SPIKES
 Keen students of liturgical minutiae who haven't read Anglicanorum coetibus may enjoy this recondite and tasty piece of information: some people think that an Ordinary is entitled to wear the Mitre and use the other pontificalia because he is an Ordinary. Not so. There is no provision whatsoever for that in the legislation erecting the Ordinariates. What is provided for is the granting of the ius pontificalium to those who previously were Anglican Bishops. In other words, Mgr Keith wears a mitre partly by virtue of his Consecration as Bishop of Richborough in the Church of England.

Isn't Pope Emeritus Benedict a gentleman?


Nonnisi pro clericis: iuxta Canonem 19 CIC, cras addi possunt (ut videtur) orationibus Missae diei sub una conclusione orationes Missae In Anniversario Electionis et Consecrationis Episcopi. Fortasse verba quem pastorem ecclesiae N praeesse voluisti aptari possunt per verba quem pastorem Ordinariatui Beatae Mariae de Walsingham praeesse voluisti.

13 January 2016

Newman and Dawkins

As a Catholic, Newman believed that the Church of England was a bulwark against Infidelity. Dr Dawkins has now started worrying about the decline of Christianity because it is a bulwark against Islam.

Married priests?

The Universal Church, Eastern and Western, discerns a particularly close linkage between celibacy and sacerdotium. That is why Bishops, in whom resides the plenitudo Sacerdotii, are everywhere celibate.

But the same does not apply with as much force to presbyters. If in the earliest centuries presbyters were required to be celibate, then we must remember that the Church develops her practice and her doctrine and that, therefore, the existence of a largely married presbyterate in the Oriental sui iuris Churches must be deemed to have developed non sine nutu Sancti Spiritus.

And the subject I am thinking about is the ordination of married men. It most certainly is not the idea of allowing priests to marry. Here, again, the consensus of East and West and of the millennia would be strongly against it. An 'amnesty' for those who "left the priesthood to get married" ought never to be on the cards. Them, least of all!

The practice, which began under Pius XII, of admitting convert Lutheran and Anglican married clergy to the presbyterate, is, and always has been, a special case.

All those points are not what I wish at this moment to discuss (Do you hear me?) I itemise them simply in order to clear the ground so that I can get down, undistracted, to today's Great Matter. So here goes:

I think that the admission of  married men to the Latin Rite priesthood is, at this particular moment and given the present situation within the Latin Church, to be strongly resisted.

Briefly, two reasons.

(1) Clerical celibacy is ultimately a matter of discipline; it has been derogated from; therefore it can be derogated from. On the other hand, the restriction of the Sacrament of Order to viri is a matter of dogma; the church nullam facultatem habet to ordain women. The two matters are totally different. But there are people who either do not understand this distinction or who conveniently and dishonestly pretend not to understand it. Admitting married viri probati  to Holy Orders would, by the ignorant and the deceitful, be described and distorted and publicised as simply a preliminary for the 'next step'.
(2) Ordination of such viri probati would, culturally, strongly emphasise the restriction of Holy Order to males, and thus place it under the very fiercest campaigning pressures. Particularly where a nun or a lay woman had de facto been running a Christian community, the sudden arrival of a newly ordained married (male) priest to take over would in fact hammer home the 'exclusion' of women in a particularly personal and vivid and visible way. There are parts of Ireland where the introduction of a married permanent (male) diaconate has, in just these last few years, been fiercely resisted - and actually prevented - by feminist and heterodox pressures. Think about it!

Be in no doubt: the call for Married Priests is but a surrogate and a tactical preliminary for the real battle: the struggle for the admission of women to Holy Order.

Women Priests; and Abortion; and Dissolution of the bonds between Sexuality, Matrimony and Fertility; are the unholy and inglorious Triad with which the Enemy at this particular historical moment plots the de radicibus destruction of the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in Earth. People who can't see that are a major part of the problem.

Believe me, I know. I've spent most of my life as an Anglican; and we refugees from Old Mother Damnable know exactly how these things are managed. The tools include Gradualism (give people time to get used to the idea: if you spring things on them too abruptly they might discover that they have principles). And Dialogue ("We just want our voices, our experiences to be heard; why can't we all just talk?"). 

At the heart of it is getting the whole jigsaw complete except for just that one last piece ... which now so easily and so naturally slips into its allotted slot.

12 January 2016

Vatican II debates

New Liturgical Movement has now made available a new, second tranche of the Speeches made at Vatican II; very useful and often amusing. I went back and browsed through the debates on Liturgy in the NLM's first tranche. Not scientifically, mind; I made no notes; what follows makes no claim to precision or accuracy. I am not an academic historian. I just enjoyed myself. Thanks to NLM for this handy and entertaining resource.

Take, for example, John McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin. He did a good line on rather short interventions, in which he crisply emphasised, not once, that he was speaking on behalf of the entire Irish episcopate. He also made clear that Ireland didn't have the problems other countries seemed to be labouring under because its churches were still jam-packed full. What a shame the African Cardinals at Pope Frank's Synods hadn't studied the McQuaid approach: they could have adopted a policy that, every time some 'liberal' Father started shooting his silly mouth off, they just bellowed "Boo! Boo! Yer  churches are empty! Failures! Deutschland Deutschland unter alles! Boo! Boo! Pathetic losers!" I bet McQuaid was not popular among his compatres. Would you have wanted to meet him in a narrow alley on a dark night?

Cardinal Godfrey may not have impressed Evelyn Waugh, but he also was very good value. He made a pointed speech about the importance of Latin. At the end of it, he told the Fathers about a recent English newspaper report (Torygraph, do you think?) concerning the proceedings in the House of Laity of the Church of England, which had been debating widening the use of Latin in Anglican Liturgy (might this have been at the time when Archbishop Fisher was pushing through the revision of the C of E's Canon Law?). One of the speakers in that debate had concluded, apparently, by saying "The Cardinals in Rome won't be able to stop laughing when they hear about this!"

A nice contribution by Archbishop Lebebvre. Nothing like a fully frontal attack on the whole idea of liturgical reform; what worried him more was that the doctrinal principles underlying reform were not spelled out.

That man was no fool.

It's a depressing thought that never again, as far as one can see, will there be an Ecumenical Council in which the proceedings will all (except for the speech of Maximos IV) be openly accessible to people who haven't got degrees in Modern Languages.

11 January 2016


S Peter's Nottingham, Sundays at 18.00 hours, Mass according to the Ordinariate Use. BUT SEE THE THREAD.

Tales from the Ordinariate (1)

Father Zed, archiblogopoios, is delighted that one of his favourite bishops is having tabernacles put back into their proper places. So am I; and so all right-thinking people will be. Considering the intensive bullying which an (almost) entire previous generation of bishops employed to get the tabernacles shifted to the wrong places (without any Conciliar mandate whatsoever), involving great expense and very considerable vandalism, I don't see how anyone can criticise this admirable Bishop if he puts on a bit of pressure so that his own fortunate diocese can get back to orthopraxis. Three cheers!! And it is splendid that we have Fr Zed; not least so that he can share good news.

Some weeks ago, a brother Ordinariate priest, just taking up a parish in the 'Diocesan Church', described his new church building, built a couple of decades ago. It was constructed, upon the explicit instructions of the then bishop, without Confessionals, and with the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a quite separate room without an altar so that "there will be no confusion between today's bread and yesterday's bread".

What a shame nobody had ever explained to that poor bishop that his and our Most Holy Redeemer is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

When Benedict XVI founded the Ordinariates (io triumphe), it was his wish that we Anglicans should bring our riches into the Catholic Church for the benefit of all Catholics. So here is our great Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, writing in 1965, dealing with exactly that question of tabernacles. This is pure 24-carat Anglican Patrimony, every single word of it! Lege, disce, age!!

"The fundamental facts about the Blessed Sacrament are its publicity and its centrality. It is not a secret treasure, hidden away in a corner to be the object of devotion of the abnormally pious; it is the gift of God to his body the Church. The method of reservation which is advocated by many - though fortunately a diminishing number - of our [Anglican] bishops ... whereby the Consecrated Elements are placed in a safe in the church wall and removed from association with the altar, seems calculated to encourage almost every wrong view of the reserved Sacrament that is conceivable. Could anything be more likely to detach the reserved Sacrament from its organic connection with the Church's Liturgy than the provision that the place of reservation 'shall not be immediately behind or above a Holy Table'? ... It is therefore, I would suggest, most desirable that the Blessed Sacrament should normally be reserved in as central a place as possible, upon the high altar of the church, and that regularly some form of public devotion to the Eucharistic Presence should be held, if possible when the main body of the congregation is assembled."  

(If you wish to procure a copy of his Corpus Christi, make sure you get the second [1965] edition.)


If people need to be in touch with me personally, and use the combox to make contact, they do need to include their own email address. Otherwise I have no means of making a private reply.

10 January 2016

Mutually enriched corruption

My friend Professor William Tighe has very kindly sent me photocopies of letters including one written in 1985, from Fr Michael Moreton to himself.

Sadly, many Roman Catholics will not recognise the name Michael Moreton. He was one of our really great Anglican Catholic liturgical scholars; he wrote a paper Eis Anatolas Blepsate, one of the first (it was read at the Oxford Patristic Conference of 1982) academic papers to blow out of the water the old consensus that in the 'primitive Church' the celebrant faced the people. In fact, this letter enclosed a copy of that paper which Prebendary Moreton was sending to Professor Tighe.

I will give you just a snippet. [You may need to know that ASB means the Church of England's Alternative Service Book of 1980, in which the C of E slavishly followed the Latin Church in introducing a plurality of Eucharistic Prayers instead of the single Prayer to which worshippers were accustomed; and, moreover, included in that plurality ...Yes!! ... a Prayer based on the same dodgy pseudo-Hippolytan formula which Bouyer and Botte had used as the basis of the deplorable Prayer they confected on that infamous evening at a never-to-be-forgiven trattoria among the ... er ... distractions of the Trastevere.] This is what Fr Michael wrote:

"The liturgical situation in the Church of England gets worse and worse. The ASB is established everywhere, with [Anglican] Catholics not really wanting to know the evidence for doctrinal decline that is contained in the text, and solacing themselves with the westward facing altar, the kiss of peace and the offertory procession and lay readers of the lessons, as though these things validate all. Female servers are already there very often. Female deacons will come. There is a degree of plausibility at every stage. But collectively it all means a breach with tradition - and tradition is the ultimate authority in the Church."

(I hasten to explain that when the learned Prebendary wrote "established everywhere", he did not include the exquisite little medieval church of St Mary Steps in Exeter, which he continued to look after until he died at an advanced age in September a couple of years ago, and where the Roman Canon ... which he loved and considered to rest upon the same authoritative Patristic consensus as the Canon of Scripture, the Creeds, and the three-fold Ministry ... continued in invariable use. When my own erudite predecessor at S Thomas's Dr Trevor Jalland was buried in the Churchyard, Prebendary Moreton, who said the Requiem, used the Roman Canon and justified himself to critics thus: "He was a Patristics scholar, so I gave him a Patristic Prayer".)

I think I can leave it to you to dream up implications and to draw conclusions.

9 January 2016

Not all German bishops are bad!!

Well, of course they aren't. Joseph Ratzinger and Gerhard Mueller are, after all, both Germans and both bishops.

But there are others. Good has been heard of Bishops
Oster of Passau;
Zdarser of Augsburg;
Hanke of Eichstaett (a See founded by the English S Willibald*, relative of S Boniface of Exeter);
Ipolt of Goerlitz;
Voderholzer of Regensburg (a See founded by S Boniface himself);
and Hofmann of Wuerzburg.

The penultimate of these has already been mentioned on my blog; so just a brief word, today, about the Bishop of Eichstaett. One of his predecessors in the See of S Willibald was the (later Cardinal) Count von Preysing who subsequently went on to be Bishop of Berlin. He was a most resolute opponent of Hitler.

Count von Preysing did not see eye to eye with the Chairman of his own Episcopal Conference, a Cardinal Bertram. It isn't that Bertram was a Nazi. He was nothing like a Nazi. He said some bold things. But his instinct was to do what business one could do with the government; not to break off relationships just for the sake of rhetoric which might not do any actual good. Is there really any harm in sending Birthday Greetings to Hitler? (Von Preysing, on the other hand, rather strongly thought that there was.)

That is always the temptation for the Ecclesiastical Statesman: failure wholeheartedly to resist the Zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Age, the Consensus of Society. Keeping contacts, if possible, open, for the achievement of some deal. Not to be too "shrill". This is not the temptation to which the heroic Count von Preysing ... or the equally heroic (Blessed Cardinal) Count Clement von Galen ... fell victim. They were what the second century Church used to call confessores. (Hitler is recorded to have said "Count von Galen is an intelligent man and must know that when I have won this war, I shall have an account to settle with him". Von Preysing he described as the very worst of the "carrion crows".)

Bertram was not a confessor.

I am sure that Bertram's successor as Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Marx, is also not a Nazi ... what I mean by that is: he is not a modern day slavish follower of every aspect of the modern Zeitgeist. I would not be surprised to learn that he has indeed spoken against aspects of our modern post-Christian, sexually corrupt European Culture of Death. But he believes in keeping open the lines of communication between the Church and the mores of the German society within which she has to operate; his praxis is not to be too shrill.

Marx is not a confessor.

Perhaps we should ask our English Saints Boniface and Willibald, who brought the Gospel to Southern Germany with much parrhesia, to multiply by their intercessions the Spirit of Eichstaett; the Spirit of Confessio, of Martyrion to which bishops especially are called. And not only in Germany.

*If you look up S Willibald on Wikipedia, you will find a photograph of an attractively Baroque statue of the Saint wearing the Rationale, a pontifical vestment historically worn round the neck by the bishops of Eichstaett and a few other German bishoprics. It is good that Bishop Hanke has resumed its use; bishops are not mere Vicars of the Roman Pontiff, nor are they regional managers of a multi-national corporation. Anything that emphasises the Hiccitas, the 'here-ness', of a particular bishopric through the ages is to be commended. Anything that establishes the continuity between the present Bishop and his predecessors in Sede ... back to the Founder of the See ... and behind him to those who sent him ... and, of course, his identity with their teaching ... 

This is why Good Marini used to ransack the sacristies to provide Papa Ratzinger with vestments designed for his predecessors. Those who deemed this foppishness were simply too blind to recognise Acted Theology.


I gather that tomorrow, Sunday January 10, Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form is to be sung by the Most Reverend the Metropolitan Archbishop, in the Birmingham Oratory (I wouldn't want you going to the Cathedral and being disappointed!) at 10:15.

8 January 2016

Yes Baas: Grand Renaissance Prelates and their Africans

Here is an old blog post, slightly corrected:
I have before referred to that interview in which His Eminence Walter Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae presbyter Cardinalis Kasper spoke sneeringly about African Christians ... and then denied his words ... until the journalists provided a tape recording ...

This incident reminded me powerfully of an incident at the last Lambeth Conference at which similar sexual questions were being discussed, and where the African Bishops were resisting pressure from wealthy ultra-liberal Americans.

One American woman-bishop was heard to say "Some of these Africans would do anything for a chicken dinner". (Sadly, nobody was taping her; things are so much better organised in the Vatican.) The notorious Bishop Spong, according to reports, opined that Africans were superstious, ill-educated, and unsophisticated

Original date of the above, 06/01/2015. UPDATE follows: Who said this:

***"Of course the Church is growing [in Africa]. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith). Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent".

["Uneducated" ... "simple answers" ... "socially dependent" ... We have here the condescending superiority of a cultural elite who despise common people and regard sexual incontinence as being the natural privilege of their own class. Edward Stourton, an English journalist from an old Recusant family (possessed of a real barony), now a 'remarried' divorcee, is recorded as having observed, with regard to Catholic sexual morality, that his own views had become "nuanced". Adultery and sodomy are now nuanced, sophisticated, all that. Gotta get beyond primitive negro taboos, yeah? Life isn't as simple as these blacks think, OK?]

The *** passage above is said by its Internet reporters to be found on the German Bishops' website, and to come from the pen of its editor one Bjorn Odendahl. I am not a Germanist: I would be interested if somebody who is one could enlighten us as to what is the original phrase for "the dark continent" [UPDATE: it is " ... auf dem schwarzen Kontinent"]; how common a phrase that is in modern German; and what the implications and resonances of it are in modern usage; particularly in view of the adjective "dark".

                                   NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

Whenever a believing and practising Catholic is being interviewed by the media, it is made clear where he is coming from, with the media implication "His views are the less cogent because he is only a Catholic ... he's just a predictable robot ... a credulous and bigoted fool ... trying to onload his bigotries on you ... be warned ... you may very naturally wish to ignore whatever he says". 

I think the same sort of Health Warnings ought to be stuck on the packaging of the Nuanced and the Sophisticated when they are being interviewed. Just so that we all know where they are coming from.

Like this: "Mr X is a practising and highly Nuanced homosexualist. Now, Mr X, what are your views about Divorce Equality for the Gay Community, especially at the most Nuanced end of its spectrum  ...". 
Or this: "Mr Y married his present wife after divorcing his wife of an 11 year marriage which had resulted in five children. That marriage broke up after he discovered Sophistication with his present partner after work one Thursday evening. The ensuing divorce caused the nervous breakdown of his teenage daughter. Now, Mr Y, you have written this most interesting book, newly on sale in all good bookshops priced at a mere £59.99, about how important it is for the Catholic Church to move into the twenty-first century ...".

See what I mean? It's only fair. 

7 January 2016


I feel distinctly sorry for our beloved Holy Father, who is subject to much criticism for a Holy Family homily in which he appeared to some readers to suggest that the Incarnate Word was a naughty boy. I think I know what he was driving at. The Holy Family are easily perceived as remote and stylised static figures in stained glass, or as faded and peeling plaster statues in a cheap Victorian Gothic reredos. The pope wanted to bring them down out of all that and to inject some vividness into them and to relate them to the experienced realities of ordinary family life ... so as to enable ordinary families to relate to the Holy Family. That is a very admirable motive and does enormous credit to his great pastoral heart.

Unfortunately, however, words do have meanings.

In terms of biblical exegesis, I have grave doubts about Papa Bergoglio's analysis. The Lucan pericope of the Finding in the Temple seems to me another (albeit brief) example of a very common literary pattern in the Gospels: a topic or a dispute is raised; there are questions and answers; and the Logos Sesarkomenos delivers a final and authoritative judgement. Francis' exegesis, therefore, seems to me to be based on a genre error.

But are the Sovereign Pontiff's words Nestorian? I refer you to the analysis offered by Father Zed. In a rather striking coincidence, Professor de Mattei (on Rorate) had just published a paper on a heretic pope, Honorius, who did have to be anathematised by a Ecumenical Council and by his own successors in the See of Rome. See my post of three or four days ago.

I would add one point: I think the Holy Father's words prima facie also risk undermining the doctrine of the sinlessness of the Man who is also the Second Person of the Holy and Undivided Trinity; who is "like us in all things except for sin". Good heavens, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has gone to enormous lengths for centuries to refine and formulate her doctrinal belief in the Sinlessness of Blessed Mary. She has not taken so much trouble just so as render the Sinlessness of our Lord and God Himself an irrelevant and disposable minor detail!

Early in this pontificate I expressed a view that the Roman Pontiff ought not to make public statements ... especially statements broadcast Orbi as well as Urbi in a variety of languages through the Vatican Information Services ... without those statements having been checked through by the competent organs of his Curia. That is what they are for. Leo X may have said "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it". But he is usually criticised for entertaining such a sentiment. And exactly the same error would be imputable to a pope who in any way used his august Office so as to minister to his own idiosyncasies, his personal whimsies. The Roman Pontiff is not an individual, or certainly not an individual like any other. He is the living voice of the Petrine Tradition of his See; of the pontiffs and councils who have for two millennia transmitted and guarded and laid out the sound doctrine handed down from the Apostles*. Pope Francis' conduct, I anxiously feel, might undermine the authority of his Office.

If he talks like this today, how can I read what he may say tomorrow in the practical and humble moral certainty that his words are sent to me as from God for my edification and sanctification?

*Neque enim Petri successoribus Spiritus Sanctus promissus est, ut eo revelante novam doctrinam patefacerent, sed ut, eo assistente, traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodirent et fideliter exponerent.

6 January 2016

Two Epiphany queries

(1) An acute reader, Timothy Graham, asks about the differences between the Sarum and the Tridentine propria for the days after the Epiphany. I give an edited version of the account in that immensely useful 1930s Anglican manual Liturgy and Worship.

A dislocation appears at Epiphany I between the ancient rites and the Tridentine and the Prayer Book rites on the one hand; and Sarum and the other medieval rites on the other.

At first, the Epiphany had no Octave, and the services for the 'Sundays After' resumed their ordinary course on the first Sunday after January 6. When the Octave was first instituted, it was treated as one continuous feast which included the Sunday which happened to fall within it. Thus the propria for the following Sundays needed each to be moved one week later so as to get them out of the way of this newly-inserted Octave. S Pius V and Archbishop Cranmer, well-known close buddies, reverted to the earlier, pre-medieval arrangements (in spite of the fact that the Tridentine Rite keeps the Octave). Thus, in the Tridentine Rite, as in the Anglican Prayer Books, the service given for Epiphany I is the original service for Epiphany I before the Octave introduced its complications.

(2) This is the time of year when right-thinking people feel the need to agitate for the restoration of the Epiphany to January 6 in those countries where liturgical decay is so far advanced that it has been 'transferred' to a Sunday. The instincts here are admirable. BUT ... think carefully ... the present arrangement encourages people to attend Extraordinary Form Masses in order to get a genuine Epiphany on January 6 ... including people who otherwise have no burning desire to attend the Extraordinary Form. Because the EF is the only place you can get a proper Epiphany (unless you have a Greek church handy). The same holds for the Ascension and Corpus Christi. Thus the present situation provides a highly useful tool for Tridentinist proselytism. I think a ballot of Tridentine-favouring folk would reveal that large numbers of them have come to realise the advantages in the current, albeit thoroughly corrupt, set-up. Perhaps they should write to the Episcopal Conference and thank it for its felix culpa.

In my view, the Ordinariate should urgently seek the same liberty as the EF to observe the Epiphany on January 6 (and the Ascension and Corpus Christi on the Thursdays); thus Catholics generally would be the more encouraged to attend and to get to know our splendid Liturgy and would have increased facilities to celebrate properly the Epiphany, especially in parched desert areas where the EF is still not very easily accessed.

5 January 2016

Sede vacante? UPDATE

If the rumours are right about Vinnie going to Rome to head the new Dicastery on the Family, what names should be on the Terna that goes to Rome for vacant Westminster? Here is Fr H's Terna:

Mgr Andrew Wadsworth

Bishop Philip Egan

Dr Stephen Wang.

UPDATE: not many names seem to have been proposed on the thread. Surely the Anglophone Church is not so devoid of talent? When will Cardinal Pell finish on the Secretariate for Cash?

4 January 2016

The Five Wounds

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo is the beginning of the psalmus of the Introit (Officium in Sarum terminology) of the Votive Mass of the Five Wounds of Jesus, now restored to our use in the Ordinariate Missal. This was one of the most popular Votives used in Medieval England ("drill into it" via the index of Duffy's Stripping of the Altars). Here is a translation of the introduction to it in the Sarum Missal:
"S Boniface the Pope was sick even unto death; and he urgently begged of God that his life in this world be prolonged. The Lord sent to him S Raphael the Archangel with the Office of the Mass of the Five Wounds of Christ, saying to the Pope:

'Get up and write this Office; and say it five times; and immediately you will receive your health. And whatever priest shall celebrate this Office five times for himself or another sick person, he shall receive health and grace, and in the future he will possess eternal life, if he perseveres in good. And in whatsoever tribulation a man shall be in this life, if he procures of a priest this Office to be read five times for himself, without doubt he will be set free. And if it is read for the soul of a Departed, immediately after it shall have been completely said, that is to say, five times, his soul will be loosed from pains ...

'Then Pope S Boniface confirmed the Office by Apostolic Authority, granting to all truly confessed and contrite, the seventh part of the remission of all their sins if they should have read it devoutly five times ..."

It was an enormously popular Mass among both clergy and laity (particularly when the latter were making wills). It was an alternative to saying requiems for the departed, who hoped to be saved by the Blood from those Wounds.

No reason why the custom should not revive. Particularly in the Ordinariates.

2 January 2016

De Mattei

A good historical piece on Rorate by Professor de Mattei, on Pope Saint Honorius. As well as reading it, you may like a piece of mine which I reproduce below. The Honorius-bits are in heavy type.
Sometimes kind readers ask me why I use this way of referring to our beloved Holy Father, rather than the perhaps slightly commoner 'Vicar of Christ'.

Of course, I have no problem whatsoever with this latter title, as long as it is properly understood. I accept that it, and its complete propriety, are vouched for both by usage and by Magisterial documents. But I feel that it is that tiny bit more open to misunderstanding. It might be taken to imply that the Roman Pontiff has some sort of direct line to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity; that, as an individual, he is the very embodiment of the Incarnate Word. This is the ultra-ultramontanism (I, personally, feel it is a horrible heresy) being promoted by some Roman lawyer with the improbable name Pio Vito Pinto, who appears to understand the Holy Father as One whom all the other bishops are bound to obey without question because he embodies in a unique and peremptory way both the Lord Christ and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Pinto ... dear chappie ... you can count me out of your Papacy ...

'Vicar of S Peter' is, of course, the older title of the Roman Pontiff. 'Vicar of Christ' came in, I believe, with the second millennium. I'm not sure why this happened; after all, we could call the Pope the Successor of Christ, on the grounds that the Lord handed over the Church to S Peter as His successor, from whom the popes descend; but we don't. The Fathers of Chalcedon could very easily have shouted out in their conciliar aula "Christ has spoken through Leo", and it would have been completely true; but "Peter has spoken through Leo" was their cry when the Tome had been read.

What makes the reference to S Peter, Prince of the Apostles, in my view preferable, is that it situates the Sovereign Pontiff in the context of the Church of Rome, the Church of S Peter. A fine Orthodox writer called Olivier Clement (You are Peter, 2003) wrote very powerfully and movingly about how it is the Church of Rome in which the voice of S Peter is heard, in which he still speaks and rules. It is the Church of Rome which is the Mother and Mistress of all the Churches; which Presides in Charity. This is a unique role within the Catholic Church Militant here in Earth; and this role exists by divine disposition.

And the authority of the Roman Pontiff comes, not from his personal holiness or brilliance, nor from his episcopal Consecration, but, quite simply and solely, from the fact that he is the Bishop of S Peter's Church, and, qua its Bishop, articulates the vox Petri.

That is why the role of the Pope is not individualistic in the sense of being at the whimsy of one man, even if he were to be a man of vast natural wisdom and permanently filled with the Holy Spirit. The Cardinal Presbyters are the Presbyterium of the Roman Church, so that their role is not that of being dogsbodies of the Pope (remember that in the early centuries the presbyterate was the decisive organ of government in any local particular Church). So, fittingly, the Pope's actions are integrated into that presbyterate. (The Curia Romana is, you see, not devoid of ecclesiological significance.) In earlier centuries, Popes when acting solemnly, associated with themselves synods consisting of all the bishops who just happened at a given moment to be in Rome; all of which bears witness to the fact that when a pope acts qua pope, he takes care not to do so as an isolated and potentially wilful individual.

The position of the pope is lofty, every bit as lofty as Vatican I described it, but it is not the position of a solitary individual giving expression to his private impulses; it is that of the successor of S Peter sitting, at least morally, on his Cathedra and  surrounded by his Suburbicarian Bishops, his Presbyters, his Deacons, and all his particular (and Petrine) Church. That is one reason why I felt rather worried  by a reported episode in which it was asserted that, by the mediation of a lay friend, our present Holy Father privately dispensed a woman a lege Divina, and, when the friend asked "But isn't that forbidden?", replied "Just tell her the Pope says she can". (You will find the episode narrated in The Great Facade ... see my earlier post ... on pages 459-460.) Father Lombardi, given the opportunity of denying that such a thing happened ... or could conceivably happen ... most sadly did not take that opportunity of clearing the Holy Father of the allegation.

I do not believe that any man on earth other than the Incarnate Word can dispense from Divine Law; and if, per impossibile, any man could, I am sure that he could not do so in a private and informal sort of way.

There is interesting Magisterial backing for making careful distinctions between the Roman Church, and the actions of one of its Bishops as an aberrant individual, in the Letter of Pope S Leo II anathematising his doctrinally dubious predecessor Honorius "qui hanc Apostolicam Ecclesiam non Apostolicae Traditionis doctrina lustravit, sed profana proditione immaculatam fidem subvertere conatus est". I deeply regret having to mention such things in public, but the pope's buddy Archbishop Fernandez has gone on record as saying "The Pope is convinced that the things he's already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anyone can repeat these things without being sanctioned". Fernandez may be the 'rector' of a 'Catholic University' and he may indeed be the first person that Pope Francis made a Bishop, without Fernandez ever having had an episcopal cura. But if he goes around implying that History holds no examples of Popes who were deemed, after their pontificates, to have taught or allowed error, he is to blame if he is reminded of Liberius or Vigilius or Honorius or John XXII. It can happen that tactlessness is a lesser sin than concealing the Truth. Pope S Leo II confirmed the condemnation of Pope Honorius by an Ecumenical Council and added his own anathema. It has happened, so it can happen. Please God, may it never happen again.

Ordinariate Missal: Votives

I looked at page 965, expecting to see that Votives were in principle forbidden on weekdays in Lent (see the corresponding rubric on page 1,000); but I see nothing positive or negative about Votives in Lent! Have I missed something?

A reader asked me ... I had wondered myself ... what colour the Votive of the Five Wounds should have. In the Rubrical Directory, Masses of the Passion are to be in Red, which makes obvious sense; but in the Old Roman Rite the Mass Humiliavit of the Lord's Passion (from which the Mass of the Five Wounds borrows most of its texts) is to be in Violet.

Magic! The endlessly knowledgeable and resourceful Rubricarius produced for me Burns and Oates ORDOs for 1898 and 1908, which make it clear that the Five Wounds are indeed celebrated in Red. With thanks to him, I pass on this information to readers for whom it is relevant.

Back in those more ample days before S Pius X took a pair of very sharp scissors to the Calendar, every Friday in Lent was observed, in all the Catholic dioceses of England, with a Feast thematically related to the Lord's Passion. The Five Wounds came on the Friday after Lent III. They were all Greater Doubles. And they were in Red vestments.

1 January 2016


Of course, we clergy like rituals and things because it makes us feel we have point. But perhaps 2016 could be a real Year of Mercy for a particular category for whom God has given us in the Ordinariates a responsibility. A real door rather than a merely ritual door.

Back there in the Church of England there are clergy, good men, priests to their fingertips, or even bishops, who would very much rather not be in the Church of England. But they have for some reason come to feel discouraged from regularising their relationship with the Apostolic See of S Peter.

Would 2016 be a splendid opportunity to deal with this situation? An end to the dreaming-up of reasons to turn priests away; an end to "You're too old" or "You're too young" or "You haven't got a 'group'" or "You would have to be tested for a year or two before we could possibly consider 'ordaining' you"; and all the rest of it. The Holy Father's gesture to the SSPX is surely a hint that his Jubilee of Mercy could have an ecclesial, as well as an individual, dimension. And, as the Church of England, now cosying up to the Scottish presbyterians, goes yet further down the path of consolidating its proud role as just another tedious proddy sect, there may still be left within it a few principled 'Catholic' clergy and laity who will come to discern how badly they need their truest home.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus burns with longing to gather all into what Blessed John Henry called the One Fold of the Redeemer. What would better suit the intentions of Pope Benedict for the Ordinariates; or the hopes of Pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy; than for the gates, which seem to me to have got a bit stuck, to be flung wide open?