31 May 2016

The Pope and the Spirit

Mgr Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, claimed last year that "The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Church's shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis". There had, you will recall, just been a "synod" at which some of the Synodal Fathers had, er, actually started shouting! Good gracious me! Shouting, when the Spirit Himself was just the other side of that microphone! Naughty! Naughty!

Oh dear, I thought. Here we go again. Here it is again, that dreadful old 1860s and 1960s-style maximalising view of the Papacy ... against which both Newman and Ratzinger in turn, in their respective contexts, wrote so sensibly. Wasn't it that daft Wilfrid Ward who wanted to have a new papal pronouncement to read as he ate his breakfast egg each morning? What a mercy for the poor chap that he didn't live in the Age of the Domus Sanctae Marthae Papacy. He would soon have grown sick of his breakfast eggs.

Of course, the Holy Father himself would not subscribe to this preposterous sententia Pintiana.

But I do sometimes feel a trifle nervous that his modes of expression could, by a critic less favourable than myself, be misread as Pintian. What generates this uneasy apprehension is incessant talk about the Spirit which links Him with a Newness which seems to be involved in unspecified but explosive changes in the Church's settled Doctrine and Praxis.

"... they were closed off to these signs of the Spirit and resisted the Spirit. They were seeking to justify this resistance with a so-called fidelity to the Law, that is, to the letter of the Law".

(Interesting stuff. "Letter of the Law!" Indeed! We've just had a Rescriptum ex audientia which declares that the erection by a diocesan bishop of an Institute of Religion will be invalid if the Bishop has not consulted the Congregation for Religious. So ... if a Bishop ignored this Rescriptum and ignored the Congregation and just went ahead on his own, Bergoglio would pat him on the head and praise him for ignoring the letter of the Law? Hold him up to the world as a splendid example of being Surprised by the Spirit? Do you really think so?)

"Being docile to the Spirit, this docility is the Yes that the Spirit may act and move forward to build up the Church ... instruments of the Spirit so that the church can move forward ..." [Homily of 14/04/2016]

"The sin is a closed heart that does not hear the voice of the Lord, that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us ... the sin of divination ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry  ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry ... the sin of idolatry ... the newness of the Spirit ... " [Homily of 18/01/2016].

In my more depressed moments, I feel uneasy about how to reconcile all this frantic, angry, aggressive, obsessive, repetitive, rhetoric with the calm and wise words of the First Vatican Council, which so admirably and so tersely described the essential and vital, but limited, role of the Roman Pontiff:

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might make new teaching public, but so that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith"!!

30 May 2016

Fr Zed and Cardinal Burke

I have just seen Fr Zed's post quoting a theologian friend quoting Cardinal Burke. All three write splendidly and are making exactly a point I made in my earlier post, just today.

It is so true that the heterodox are very much better at organising than the orthodox. Remember how the Rhine Confederacy sprang its early coup at Vatican II, and how long it was before the Coetus Internationalis Patrum got organised. And with what results.

Orthodox Catholics do need to get noisy. Like you all did during the Arian Crisis, when so many of the Bishops, good Company Men, needed a bit of prodding. Do it again now. You are the Plebs Sancta Dei, and you each have the Anointing (Chrisma) of the Holy Spirit (See First Letter of S John 2:18-27).

Not long ago, a priest working in the Roman Curia told me how it is that poor bishops get nominated. Enquiries are sent out asking about priests who are on the lists for consideration. Orthodox people send conscientious and honest assessments. Heterodox people decide which hopeful is their best 'party candidate', and then give him a totally glowing, completely uncritical, write-up.

The heterodox know exactly what they want, and they are ruthless in going for it. They are driven by a very determined Spirit whose name you know.

When did you last write to your Bishop? When did you last encourage a friend to do so?


I am not currently enabling Sedevacantist contributions. Sorry; but I don't want my blog to be any sort of encouragement to that sort of profoundly wrong approach.

My previous piece mentioning Archbishop Gaenswein was not designed to suggest that he is a traddy; but because I feared that some of his words might be seized upon by distressed traddies clutching at straws. My very firm conviction is that "Bipapalism" is very nearly as grave a disorder as Sedevacantantism and the currently fashionable Papolatry.

In my own, personal and fallible, judgement, this is a Pontificate which has some dysfunctional characteristics. This leads to good, conscientious Catholics being at risk of accepting some silly idea which appears to offer them a silver lining. But there is naught for your (or my) comfort except the very wise words of Cardinal Pell, drawing our attention to the fact that the history of the Papacy offers examples of previous extremely questionable pontificates. And Cardinal Burke's gentle, insistent, reminders that we need to look carefully at papal pronouncements and weigh up carefully the evidence for and against the conclusion that they are magisterial or non-magisterial.

My own personal guideline here is that when our Holy Father says something which is eodem sensu eademque sententia with the repeated assertions of Scriptures, Fathers, Roman Pontiffs, Roman dicasteries, and Ecumenical Councils over many centuries, he is bearing authentic witness to the Magisterium. When he says things which have a strong prima facie appearance of lacking this coherence, then ... the jury is out on the question, and (for all I know) may well continue to be so for several more pontificates. In these circumstances, every Catholic may carefully weigh up the matter concerned, and has the liberty to express both positive and negative views. By doing this, the entire plebs sancta Dei will be playing its part in the evolution of the eventual answers to contraverted questions. It would be edifying if the Bishops took part in this process, rather than leaving it to presbyters, deacons, and layfolk.

Vatican I made clear that ex cathedra pronouncements of the Roman Pontiff are infallible and irreformable ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae. This leaves it arguable (on different grounds) whether a particular pronouncement not ex cathedra is or may be reformable by the reception or non-reception of the Church.

29 May 2016

Two popes? More UPDATE

More Update: Perhaps I should have been more explicit about the complete wrongheadedness of the sort of speculations which could be triggered by Archbishop Gaenswein's piece.

We believe in the Monarchia of "the one God and Father". That is to say: the Father is the arkhe, pege theotetos ... the source and fount of the Godhead which He shares with Son (by filiation) and Spirit (by procession). All Fatherhood derives its "Name" from him. So the Fatherhood expressed in each particular Church by the one Bishop is the One imaging and embodiment of the One Fatherhood of the One Father. This is as true of the Roman Church as it is of every other particular Church.

A literate Byzantine might be forgiven for wondering whether we Latins are really Dyotheists who believe in two Principia Deitatis.

Vide Ephesians 3:14 and 4:6 and the Epistles of S Ignatius.

We have quite enough doctrinal disorders floating around at the moment without 'traditionalists' inventing new heresies of their own.

ORIGINAL POST: Since someone has asked me, I will express the view that Archbishop Gaenswein did not mean to say that there were two popes; nor to say that the papacy subsists in two individuals.

There can only be one Pope, and that pope is Francis. There can only be one Bishop of any diocese, but when a Coadjutor is appointed, he does acquire a close relationship with the One, Single, diocesan whom he is assisting. But, at least until recently, coadjutors retained the titular see in partibus which they already had. Perhaps having an emeritus pope is a bit like being a coadjutor bishop. By the way, 'emeritus' does mean 'having given up the job'.

As I said at the time of the Abdication, I felt it would have been more appropriate for Joseph Ratzinger to be given some such style as episcopus ad Sanctum Petrum, rather like the auxiliaries to the Saxon Archbishops of Canterbury who had their Cathedra in the old church of S Martin and were styled episcopus ad Sanctum Martinum.

I am a little uneasy, frankly, about anything that gives any impression whatsoever that the Papacy is anything other than the bishopric of Rome. As Fr Eric Mascall pointed out, the Papacy is not a sacramental rank in the Church such as to confer an indelible character. The purely administrative act of electing a man Pope does not change him in the same way as the ordination of a man to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate changes him. Being elected pope does not mean that through all eternity you will be, in some mystical mysterious sort of way, a pope. When you die or abdicate, you cease being a pope.

Joseph Ratzinger is not Pope; nor a Pope; not half a Pope; not in any sort of way whatsoever.

Oakapple Day

Best wishes to readers on this annual commemoration of the (formal) end of the Great Rebellion and the Return of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles II. Today, however, not inappropriately, I wish to 'Remember' his Father.

In 2010 there was a small but perfectly formed exhibition about the relics of Blessed Charles Stuart. It is interesting, I think, that the cult of his relics began immediately after his martyrdom in 1648. When we come to the regularisation of his status with the Holy See, the length of the cultus may be canonically significant in establishing beatification by equipollence.

Everything very touching. The pearl earring taken from his ear after his execution and passed on to his daughter (you can see it in the Vandyke triple portrait done for Bernini); relics of his blood; secondary and tertiary relics of which the most moving is the Chalice from which he received the Most Precious Blood on the morning of his execution. Reliquaries containing his hair.

The Royal Martyr shares with Blessed John Henry Newman (though for quite different reasons) the characteristic that there are (I think?) no primary relics in the form of bones.


Old Style. Caught you there.

28 May 2016

CORPUS CHRISTI ... various afterthoughts

(1) It seems to me very jejune to leave this great feast with the Common Preface, as the not-entirely-satisfactory Missal of 1962 does. Many people were happier with the older usage of employing the Nativity Preface; if this is not restored, surely the 'Gallican' Preface should be made universal. It probably doesn't need an explicit decree to facilitate this, since a Bishop of Rome who has not hidden his views about Law is not going to waste his time being enormously upset about such details.

(2) What a shame we don't have a Patristic Preface for the Blessed Sacrament ... but stay: we could have! The Verona ('Leonine') Sacramentary provided, at Christmas, a superb little Preface (VD tuae laudis hostiam), mentioning ... as you would expect ... the 'typical' figures of Abel, Passover Lamb, Abraham, and Melchisedek. Beautifully Roman; elegantly phrased and terse enough to have come from a very august pen.

(3) The EF and OF texts in Missal and Breviary for Corpus Christi are robustly supersessionist. Take the Lauda Sion (novum Pascha novae Legis Phase vetus terminat; Vetustatem novitas, umbram fugat veritas, noctem lux eliminat) and the Pange lingua (et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui). Comments on this blog earlier in the year established that German "translations" of the Liturgia Horarum, as early as the early 1970s, eliminated prayers for the Conversion of the Jews. Do German translations of S Thomas's hymns eliminate his supersessionism? Are the German and English hierarchies known to be agitating for the Angelic Doctor to be mutilated ('abelardised'?) so to make him Politically Correct?

26 May 2016


The greatest of the Greek poets, Callimachus, opined that a Big Book was a Big Evil (mega kakon). But Dr Thomas M Winger has written a very big book about S Paul's most important Epistle, the one to the Ephesians, and his Commentary is definitely a mega kalon (a Big Good). (Concordia Commentary A theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture Ephesians by Thomass M Winger ISBN 978-0-570-06313-1.)

Curious readers may wonder why I should name Callimachus as the greatest of the Greek poets. What ... er .... about Homer? But such judgements surely take their bearings from where the person making the assertion is standing. If I desire to consider Callimachus greater than Homer because of the densely and humorously learned way in which the later poet performs the games of imitatio cum variatione upon the earlier, who are you to judge?

And if I or anybody asserts that Ephesians is S Paul's most important Epistle, there is no reason why we should be bullied into submission simply because some chappies in Tubingen, a long time ago, decided that Romans, Galatians, and the Corinthian Epistles are a sort of 'canon within the canon' by the standard of which the other letters bearing S Paul's name have their worth, and even their authenticity, discerned.

It will be no secret to readers that Ephesians is regarded, by many within 'Modern Biblical Scholarship', as 'deuteropauline'. Winger's Commentary demonstrates that the reasons commonly adduced for denying the Pauline authorship of Ephesians are comprehensively unconvincing. This is a book with 895 (biggish) pages, so I am, you will understand, uncertain to what sort of readerships I am commending it; but anybody who takes Pauline Studies seriously should have it on their shelves.

There are many insights within this book which are either new; or, at least, represent recent scholarly findings which have not yet fought their way through to become commonplaces. One area in which this is true concerns the ministry. Our own Colin Podmore has ably dissected the new dogma in the American Episcopal Church whereby all the baptised are ministers. Winger makes clear that such notions are unattested until the twentieth century. And he also explains the new understanding of diakonos/diakonia which we have had since John Collins exploded the old 1960s superstition, i.e. the idea that these terms refer to the performance of humble acts of service to the needy. This sad nonsense is still sometimes churned out when people are asked to preach sermons at diaconal ordinations. Perhaps, if Papa Bergoglio is going to ask Cardinal Mueller to explain to him about the question of Women in the Diaconate, we might all find diakonia a topical subject to revisit.

Winger is a Lutheran. In Britain, we have little experience of Lutherans. So British readers need to understand that there are are different types of Lutherans: surprise, surprise, there are Liberal Lutherans and Orthodox Lutherans! As we approach the 500th anniversary of Luther's revolution, it is a good idea for us to remember this; for Catholics, in particular, to understand how close we are to Orthodox Lutherans. I would go so far as to say that Orthodox Lutheranism ought to be upon our ecumenical agenda. Just as we in the Ordinariates have learned to read our own Anglican Patrimony through the lense of Catholic orthodoxy, might not a portion of the Lutheran family be able to discern a path similar to that which we have taken?

For some Catholics, it might be a useful start to read the fine passage from Luther himself with which Winger concludes his exposition. It is a well-expressed exposition of the authority of the Ministry and, indeed, of the Catholic principle of ex opere operato.

And, at precisely the time when silly people ... and profoundly silly Episcopal Conferences such as those of Germany and England ... are saying silly things about Judaism, Winger provides sound reading: " ... neither Paul nor our Lord questions the legitimacy of the temple under the terms of the old covenant. Yet it is obsolete because Christ has come and the old has passed away. So Israel of the flesh is replaced by Israel of the Spirit, a church incorporating children of Abraham who believe as he believed in the Messiah to come".

Ephesians is topical! Read Ephesians! Read Winger!

Just to prove that I am still a waspish pedant ... I will comment on Winger's page 81 footnote 260, which rightly queries the text-crit assumption that lectio brevior potior; the comfortable but absurd rule of thumb adopted by Westcott and Hort et omnis grex illa. This was exploded in Oxford more than half a century ago by the mighty George Kilpatrick, Winger's fellow Canadian, who shared with me one-to-one his text-crit knowledge and techniques back in the mid-1960s. I explain this out of pietas towards a great scholar and a very dear friend.

25 May 2016

Scandals: An Essential Resource

Much fine work has been published over the last couple of decades on the Scandal of the Collects. What Scandal? That not one of the three greatest Festivals of the Year was allowed to keep its ancient Roman and Western collect; not one Sunday in the three great seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter was allowed to keep its collect. The vandals who, after the Council, ignored the wise moderation of the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, judged it self-evident that not a single one of these simple, powerful, elegant prayers, was now fit for purpose.

Only now is it really possible to address the (very similar) Scandal of the Readings. Because only now do we have the essential tool: Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, by Matthew P Hazell (with a Foreword by Peter Kwasniewski), ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback). It is a fine piece of detailed and meticulous work; anybody who wants to make comments from now on about what the 'reformers' did to the readings will be wasting their time if what they write does not spring out of Hazell's pages. Its layout is simple and pellucid; we go from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, and every verse which appeared either in the OF or in the EF is carefully listed. So we can see which passages the 'reformers' added in order to provide a ditior mensa Scripturarum ... because, after all, Sacrosanctum Concilium did require this to be done. We can also detect ... what the Council most certainly did not mandate ... which passages modern Catholics are now forbidden to hear read in Church.

Let's be topical. The Church's discipline with regard to the reception of the Sacraments by "remarried" divorcees rests on Mark 10:1-12 and its Synoptic parallels, combined with I Corinthians 11:27. The good news: the OF gives the Marcan passage to be read on Sunday once every three years. This is better than the EF provides. The bad news: on the two occasions when this section of S Paul is to be read in the OF, verse 27 appears to be carefully singled out for omission. In the EF, it is to be heard on Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi. Draw your conclusions!

I will not repeat the good discussion by Dr Kwasniewski, dealing with the tendenz of so many of the omissions. I would simply add that, in my view, doctrinal motives are not the only reasons for omissions. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of the purest, most wanton, vandalism. Take the superb passage Proverbs 31:10-31 ... the Good Wife. The OF lectionary abbreviates this by crude omission ... and, of course, here we have another of the post-Conciliar corruptions which can claim no mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium: the crazed passion for brevity. (Incidentally, when various parts of the Anglican Communion decided to adopt versions of the OF lectionary, they demonstrated a strong tendency to restore the integrity of readings, even if this might mean that the laity would be detained in Church for two or three minutes longer.)

But this pericope at the end of Proverbs is the antidote to any claim that 'traditional' attitudes to gender roles are "repressive". The Good Wife is a most competent and efficient administrator (-trix?) who runs the entire industrial and 'business' side of the household and is in charge of the purchase of real estate. Her husband appears little more than her trophy appendage who, one feels, is respected among the all other chaps mainly upon the grounds that his wife is so strikingly effective! The immemorial, almost universal, human cultural division whereby the husband is head of the household ad extra while the wife is head ad intra, is beautifully laid out. It deserves better than the OF gives it.

One tiniest, minutest, criticism. Hazell, very logically, confines his information with regard to the EF to the 1962 Missal. This means that the readings of the old pre-Bugnini Easter and Pentecost Vigils are excluded. Even at the risk of a minor inconsistency, I think it might have been helpful to include them.

This is not a book to miss! And Matthew and Lucy Hazell are to be most warmly thanked.

Get it!

24 May 2016


There is an immensely scholarly discussion of Amoris laetitia by the immensely scholarly Dr Anna Silvas, a Romanian Catholic, Classicist, Semiticist, Patristic scholar, on the website of Fr Glen Tattersall's Extraordinary Form parish in Melbourne, newmanparish. Perhaps some able person could kindly supply a link to it. I think I would dissent only from the second sentence of her second paragraph. (There are a few typos.)

I do rather wonder whether the 'Traditionalist' communities have been as clear in their reactions to Amoris laetitia as they should have been. "Tradition" does not simply mean an aesthetic preference for the (not entirely satisfactory) liturgical books of 1962. We need someone to resurrect the the term integriste, and its meaning! Where are the "Ecclesia Dei communities"? And what about those prelates who supply "eye candy" pickies on some traddy liturgical blogs? Are they not Successors of the Apostles and sharers in the Universal munus docendi? Do they have to be so scared? Who's afraid of the ...

Fr Glen is to be congratulated. I don't think he's afraid.

Roskilde Cathedral ...

 ... in the Kingdom of Denmark could occupy a long article. With its combination of brickwork and whitewash, I found it curiously reminiscent of the Anglican Shrine Church at Walsingham ... and of early brick Romanesque churches on the shores of the Med.

Two things that struck me:

(1) The four pillars surrounding the chancel contain within them (behind stone tablets) and at some height the remains of four people concerned with the Cathedral; together with frescoes. These individuals died well before the Cathedral was built, but were moved here from an earlier church. What interested me was that, during one of the most memorable expeditions of my life, to visit the Fathers and Brethren of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer on Papa Stronsay, my kindly hosts took me to see the beautiful rose-coloured Romanesque cathedral at Kirkwall. There, in 1919, were discovered behind loose ashlar stones on the rectangular pier of the choir's South Arcade, the relics of S Magnus. In a similar place are those of S Rognvald. Was it a common practice to reinter important people within the pillars of churches? Or is there something 'Nordic' about it?

(2) The medieval side-chapels at Roskilde preserve much of their medieval painting, revealing that they each had their own complete set of Consecration Crosses. This presumably implies that each was consecrated separately with the full Consecration Rite for a church ... so that they are rather like what I believe some Byzantines call parekklesiai. Yes?

23 May 2016


What a privilege! The Copenhagen Latin Mass Group invited me to visit ... for the third time ... their exquisite city in order to offer the Holy Sacrifice with them. So I sang Masses on the Vigil (in the Bishop's Chapel), on the Feast of Pentecost (in the Sacred Heart; I think it's on the Internet), and on Whitmonday (in the Church of S Andrew, at an Altar over a major relic of S Andrew, installed there by the Bishop).

And with what kindness I was entertained!

With immense generosity, the diocesan, Bishop Kozon, invited me to stay in his house. As an outsider, and so at the risk of putting my foot in it, I have to say, not only that his Lordship practises to a xi the New Testament and Patristic virtue of xenia, but that his relationship with those who worship according to the Extraordinary Form is vere episcopalis. I was shown videos ... maybe they are somewhere on the internet ... of liturgical events in the diocese ... including pontifical Vespers at the Throne, and the first High Mass, EF, of Fr Jan, recently ordained, who gave me a First Blessing and with whom I dined very satisfactorily in a vibrant piazza in that mediterranean warmth which seems, by a happy if Extraordinary dispensation of Providence, to extend to Zealand.

Things do move on. Alexander has grown up into a most efficient Altar Server. Theresa is now a charming and patient young woman, placid beyond her years, who joined in a lengthy expedition to Roskilde Cathedral ... her brother Vincent (recently baptised, EF, by the Bishop) made his own essential contribution by sleeping throughout the entire event ...

 ... but the questions I want to ask about Roskilde Cathedral can await another post.

21 May 2016

The authority of Apostolic Exhortations

There is a Catch 321 Situation involved in the question of the authority of Apostolic Exhortations. It arises from the fact that no Apostolic Exhortation has any more (or any less) 'authority' than any other Apostolic Exhortation. This 'Catch' can be invoked to embarrass both 'sides'. Thus: -

Trendies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Amoris Laetitia is undercut by the fact that it has no more authority than Familiaris consortio".

Traddies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Familiaris consortio is undercut by the fact that it is cancelled out by Amoris laetitia".

Both of these documents are Apostolic Exhortations.

And Apostolic Exhortations are neither doctrinally constitutive nor canonically legislative.

The principle that public adulterers, even when repackaged as "remarried divorcees", ought not to receive Holy Communion, does not rest upon the authority of Familiaris consortio or Sacramentum caritatis. It is a principle based upon some of the most explicit words that the Incarnate Torah is known to have uttered, combined with a very blunt statement by S Paul, who was even more Apostolic than the authors of Apostolic Exhortations. It is a principle to which the daily praxis of the bimillennial Church, and many of its official documents, bear witness.

Familiaris consortio and Sacramentum caritatis did not constitute, set up, create, the principle concerned. They (very laudably and eloquently) bore witness to it.

In Apostolic Exhortations the Roman Pontiff exhorts the Faithful to abide by what is already the authentic teaching and praxis of the Church.

20 May 2016

Amoris Laetitia and the Magisterium

Cardinal Burke has made himself quite unpopular in some Traddy circles by not denouncing AL ut Leo rugiens from his Maltese housetops. There are fierce people around who feel that, for a top lawyer simply to say that the document has no Magisterial authority, is just not nearly angry enough. Spluttering expletives, apparently, are called for. Raymond Leo Burke, they say, should put a lot more work into his spluttering techniques.

I must declare an interest here. When AL emerged, my own first comment (April 9) was to observe immediately that an Apostolic Exhortation  is "not doctrinally constitutive nor juridically legislative". Burke ... and I! ... are exactly right. That is why we do not splutter.

Some critics have claimed that AL must be magisterial because Bergoglio is on record as saying "I wrote an encyclical ... and an Apostolic Exhortation, I'm constantly making statements, giving homilies. That's magisterium."

If this Pope really does imagine that his Petrine Magisterium extends to Apostolic Exhortations, to 'statements', and even to his endless homilies, then this is quite a serious and worrying misunderstanding on his part of his own office (it reminds me of Fr Eric Mascall's wise observation that a man, even a pope, can misdescribe his own actions).

But however much this apparent claim may impress the hyperultrapapalists who surround the Holy Father but have never read Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, it should be an irrelevance to those of us who know better.

Apostolic Constitutions are way above the pay grade of Apostolic Exhortations. And the principle that "remarried" divorcees should not receive Holy Communion is embodied in the Catechism, which rests upon the authority of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of S John Paul II. Moreover, it was given to the Ordinariates as our doctrinal norm in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI.

This is the Catholic Faith which we have received.

It is the duty of every Catholic, high and low, to guard and hand on the Deposit of Faith which we have received, sancte et fideliter. Vatican I, unsurprisingly, took the view that this is especially the duty of the successor of S Peter (Denzinger 3070).

I still share that view, even if some of Bergoglio's closest associates do not.

19 May 2016

More on Amoris laetitia footnote 329

The dodgy doctrinal assumptions behind this footnote ... that you can't expect people to live in celibacy ... that God's grace is insufficient to enable Christians to live according to His will ... are they going to be extended to paedophiles? And especially to that particular 'marginalised' and 'peripheral' group, clerical paedophiles? And if not, why not?

Come to think of it, we don't seem to have heard much about this group during all the 'Mercy' stuff. But perhaps this is unfair. Probably, the Special Confessors are absolving them in droves.

17 May 2016

Nasty and Dirty

Many people very much more holy and learned than I am have spoken of the great riches and beauties which are to be found in Amoris laetitia. Since, we are told, portions of it were added at the request of the CDF, I see no reason why this should not be true. But I think footnote 329 is thoroughly Nasty and Dirty. It is dealing with the idea that "remarried" divorcees might live together as brother and sister. But, in the course of doing this, it quotes Gaudium et Spes. Since the Conciliar Document is referring ad locum to the spacing of families by married couples, this misrepresents the Council. It is always Nasty and Dirty to tell lies, particularly when it is a case of radically misrepresenting the teaching of an ecclesiastical organ ... an Ecumenical Council ... to which Christian people might feel they owed a duty of respect.

And, finally, this footnote appears to accept by implication the proposition that the Grace of God is not able to give Christian people the strength to live in accordance with His will. That is Nasty and Dirty. The Church has always taught that Chastity is within the reach of those who live in God's grace. Millions of Christians have found this to be true.

Indeed, this repulsive little footnote really does draw back the lace curtain on the Nastiness and the Dirt to be found inside the Holy Father's House of 'Mercy'. Some people, we are informed, point out that if "remarried" divorcees live together without sex, one or both of them will be in danger of cheating on their new quasi-spouse. Surprise, surprise! One, at least, and perhaps both, have almost certainly already cheated on another and lawful spouse; is there really any reason why they should not cheat on a new and unlawful "spouse"? Go on: be realistic! Isn't it what we should expect? And this footnote does not even put into the mouths of the "couple" the sentiment If we try to live as brother and sister we shall probably fall, and end up in bed together. That, at least, would be human and honest. And it could be given a gentle and understanding pastoral answer. But No! Footnote 329 says it is the 'fidelity' of the new quasi-marriage which will be endangered. In other words, Cardinal Marx's "remarried" divorcees are making the threat You've got to let us have sex together because if you don't we'll have sex anyway ... BUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE!! So there !!!  A seedy lot, both the Cardinal and the adulterers he so enthusiastically sponsors.

However, since a new relationship has, by producing children, created new obligations, this situation should, we are often told, be accepted. If it is true that quasi-union II can do this, why should quasi-union III not do the same? The idea that Adultery can, as it were, be regularised by the emergence of a new economic unit, a second family, has endless ramifications!

Paradoxically, we should, I think, thank God for the very open Nastiness and Dirtiness of Footnote 329. At least we know where we are, and the sort of people we are dealing with.

16 May 2016


The Pentecost Octave was preserved in the Anglican 1662 [see the rubric attached to the Preface] and Roman 1962 books. In 1662 and in the pre-1955 Roman Rite the Monday and Tuesday were especially privileged; in the older Roman books they are doubles of the first class with the rest of the week at only semidouble rank, while 1662 kept the traditional lections on Monday and Tuesday but returned to the Sunday readings for the rest of the week. This Octave is suitable if Pentecost is regarded as one of the times for Christian Initiation, since the neonati appropriately wore their 'whites' until Saturday and were catechised. It had survived even the pruning of the calendar by Pius XII in 1955, who curiously evened out the week by making every day a double of the first class ... fattening them up, as somebody once said to me, for the slaughter. Its abolition in the post-Conciliar period [by Rome and then, in mindless imitation, by Anglican revisers] finally 'forgets' the baptismal associations of Pentecost and abandons the message of Acts 2: 38-41. Is there a way in which someone who uses the Liturgia Horarum and has a canonical obligation to say the Divine Office, can, without breach of liturgical law, observe the Pentecost Octave?

One could invoke the General Instruction of LH paragraph 245 and repeat the Pentecost office every day up to Saturday as a Votive Office being celebrated devotionis causa. Indeed, modern Vatican Press Ordines Recitandi say that " where the Monday after Pentecost is kept as festive, Mass can be said as yesterday, or a Votive of the Holy Spirit, with Gloria and Credo pro opportunitate; likewise Vespers or even other parts of the Office if celebrated with the people". But in six days the priest - and the people - might get a bit tired of its inflexibility. Of course, one could simply follow the permission given in Summorum Pontificum and use the old Breviary during this week. Is there any reason why one should not continue to fulfil one's canonical obligation through the saying of the LH office, but substitute some offices from the Breviary for some from LH? The Apostolic Constitution Laudis Canticum (Paul VI, 1970), does envisage that permission might be given by Ordinaries to particular clergy, in their private recitation, "Breviarium Romanum, quod antea in usu erat, sive ex toto sive ex parte retinere [to retain the R Breviary ... in part]". One would argue that this is still the law, except that Summorum Pontificum has rendered the "consensus sui Ordinarii" unnecessary (and has not confined the permission, as Paul VI did, to the elderly or those with grave difficulties). So a priest could say Mattins, Lauds, and Vespers from the old book.

Incidentally, Pope Benedict XVI authoritatively made clear that the old Missal was never lawfully abrogated. I presume this is on the grounds that the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 1969 contained nothing explicit about the new rite being compulsory and exclusive. But Laudis Canticum does say that, after certain dates, only the reformed office is to be used ( ... tantummodo ... adhibenda erit). Does it follow that the old Breviary, unlike the old Missal, was canonically abrogated until Benedict XVI resurrected it?

15 May 2016


This is the first paragraph of a piece I first published 2/6/2010: 
"I see that the Holy Father, on Pentecost Sunday, again enunciated the thesis which led to the very public row between himself and Walter Kasper, not long before the Conclave: that the Universal Church theologically 'precedes' the Local Church. I wonder if Professor Kasper will respond this time. I suppose Professor Ratzinger's thesis is now to be deemed to have formal support from the Magisterium."

I have just reread that 2010 Pentecost homily of the Holy Father emeritus; to be embarrassingly personal, it brought tears to my eyes to be reminded, after the aridities of the last couple of years, of the elegance, the clarity, the Biblical insight with which Benedict XVI spoke and wrote; rereading it was like drinking, after a hot and dry and dusty and sweaty and tiring day, a glass-full of limpidly pure and refreshingly cold water. Here is part of it, translated by Zenit. (In the literal sense of the words, this was uttered ex cathedra!)

"This is the effect of God's work: unity; thus unity is the sign of recognition, the 'business-card' of the Church in the course of her universal history. From the very beginning, from the Day of Pentecost, she speaks all languages. The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and the latter must always conform to the former according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner within political, racial and cultural confines; she cannot be confused with states nor with federations of states, because her unity is of a different type and aspires to transcend every human frontier.

"From this, dear brothers, there derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: When a person or a community limits itself to its own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign that it has distanced itself from the Holy Spirit. The path of Christians and of the particular Churches must always conform itself with the path of the One and Catholic Church, and harmonise with it. This does not mean that the unity created by the Holy Spirit is a kind of homogenisation. On the contrary, that is rather the model of Babel, that is, the imposition of a culture of unity that we would call 'technological'. The Bible, in fact, tells us that in Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Pentecost, however, the Apostles speak different languages in such a way that everyone understands the message in his own tongue. The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding. The Church is one and multiple by her nature, destined as she is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She responds to her vocation to be the sign and instrument of unity of the human race only if she remains free from every state and every particular culture. Always and in every place the Church must truly be Catholic and universal, the house of all in which each one can find a place."

So much for silly talk about the acceptability of 'differences' of doctrine or doctrinally related discipline between different particular churches, as may be dictated by the particular and differing cultures in which they exist and to which some people think they are obliged to conform. 

13 May 2016

Saldum est cor Virginis

So why do I write a blog? An old post I reread recently reminded me why. I had written about a detail in the Office of Readings in the Liturgia Horarum on the memoria of our Lady of Fatima. I had wondered about the word at the start of the Responsory after the Patristic Reading (itself a passage from S Ephraim illustrating a mot of Eric Mascall: whenever Rome wants to say something really 'extreme' about Mary she has to raid Eastern sources). Saldum est cor Virginis: ad angeli nuntium concepit mysterium divinum ...etc. I did not know saldum as a Classical Latin word. I knew, of course, that Italian saldo means 'firm'; Danteists will know that Dante once used saldo to qualify cor, but not in a Marian context. Was saldum Late Latin? Was this responsory itself a quotation from a source which uses the word? Or did an Italophone in CDW intend to write 'solidum' but have his native tongue too much in mind? Or was this another typo?

The thread provided me with just the information I sought. You will find it below. Meanwhile, do remember that her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

12 May 2016

To a Nazi? To a paedophile?

All the moral systems which have emerged since the disorders of the 1960s fall under the condemnation of the teaching of Veritatis Splendor. Quite simply, S John Paul II taught that there are some things which are inherently and always wrong. (Para 80; intrinsece malum). The Church has always taught that there are are subjective circumstances in which the subjective guilt of an individual may be attenuated; but the act itself remains always wrong.

People talk about gradualism ... step by step ... or about making the best of a bad situation ... or discerning elements of good in a flawed context ... but I always feel like applying the tests Would you say that to a perpetrator of genocide? Would you say that to a paedophile?

Of course, I very rarely say it, because so few people have the remotest understanding of logic. I would get totally irrelevant but extremely angry replies such as Are you saying that remarried divorcees are as bad as Nazis? Are you saying that homosexuals are all paedophiles?

One isn't. One is simply saying: if you don't agree that adultery, or genital homosexual actions, are always, in themselves, wrong, OK, I won't try to prevent you from having your own views; but who are you then to say that there is any other act which is in itself always wrong?

How does a person  distinguish between acts which are generally wrong but might be OK [usually for oneself!] in special circumstances; and acts [usually which other people do!] which really are always wrong?

If I am not entitled to tell you that sex between "remarried" divorcees is, in itself, intrinsically wrong, why are you entitled to tell a paedophile that what he does is, in itself, intrinsically wrong?

If one were able to get this point over to the sort of thick people to whom I refer, they might very well reply [you often hear something along these lines] "Ah, but what they do harms others; what I do doesn't" (another 'consequentialist' approach laudably condemned in Veritatis splendor).

This at least opens up the possibility of suggesting that, for example, the serial habitual adultery ["remarriage after divorce"] of modern societies does harm others; and of arguing that there are, for example, recorded societies, such as aristocratic societies in some Greek cities, where institutionalised paederasty was not perceived to harm its 'victims'.

10 May 2016


Will the gentleman who was thinking of doing work on Benedict XIV get in touch with me again?

Suckers? (3)

Screwtape summoned a Club servant to fill his glass. He shifted in his chair, animated by the recollection of his own triumphs. "The master stroke was my brilliant idea for a document which would be structured around ambiguity ... the beauty of this was that it introduced into the teaching of the Church just that primacy of imprecision, of self-contradiction, of deliberately cultivated vagueness, of programmed disintegration and fissiparous confusion, which is the essence of our rules and traditions down here in the Pandaemonium Club. It also has the strategic advantage of making the mortals unable to pinpoint explicit error in a text which eschews the heresy of explicitness." He waited as the glass was filled, and raised it to his nose. The dogmatisms, perhaps, of Savonarola and of Bertrand Russell excitingly blended? With deeper hints of Martin Luther?

"At the next War Cabinet meeting Sodgrope, iniquitous careerist, claimed as his own a brilliant cultural transformation which was in fact a construct of mine ... I cannot wait to welcome, to embrace him ... to draw him in ... to make make him one with myself ... ouroborinda ... ... ... You see, in the bad old days, Roman Pontiffs passed on to their successors what they had themselves received. This rendered most difficult all our hopes for reconstructing their religion upon lines which reflect the luminous realism of Hell. The human means by which such continuity was achieved included often the successive elections of men who had been closely associated with a previous Pope. This used to be done by, for example, the election of senior deacons in those days when the deacons were the pope's first ministers. Or by the election of a Ratzinger after a Wojtila ... and what a tragedy that was ... the waste of nearly three decades when we could only achieve our ends by oblique means ... My new policy (and, whatever Sodgrope may claim, it was mine) helped the Cardinal Electors to understand the need for Fresh Blood and a Wind of Change and a Radically New Approach ... and for the election of a man from the most distant place on earth ..."

Wormwood interjected: "And a narcissist of limited intelligence"; Screwtape gave a weary sigh. "Well, there may be those who consider him somewhat self-obsessed, but, my dear nephew, what the Infernal Actuaries demand of us is not abuse of the Enemy and his associates, however satisfying, but concrete results. Remind me to send you a leaflet about the new Correctional Training Techniques being developed for unsuccessful tempters ... it is most copiously illustrated ... What is truly to our purpose is that Bergoglio is certainly a man with a contempt for what he inherited and found in Rome, and that this gives us rich opportunities to contrive rupture ... opportunities which have already yielded results ... fine piece of work ... crucial consolidation of my own position in the current power structure ... decanter ... Sodgrope ... Daemoniorum laetitia ... Me ... ambiguities ... drink ... Kasper ... want ..."

The effort of his exposition had clearly been tiring work for the aging Spirit. Ignoring his nephew, Screwtape drained the decanter into his glass, grasped it with crackling  knuckles, and buried his nose in the fumes. What was this? H G Wells matured in barrels impregnated with Lloyd George? Or Simone de Beauvoir with an aftertaste of Major Hardcastle? John Wither blended with ... After a minute or two, the glass slipped from his fingers, unloading its ambiguous contents over the dreaming tempter.

On tiptoe, still fearing the wrath of the mendacious old bore, Wormwood crept away.

9 May 2016

Suckers? (2)

"You must understand the brilliance of our strategy with Bergoglio. When he was elected, there was a real danger that he might do a great deal of what the Enemy calls 'good'". Screwtape's fine old eyes moved meditatively along the bound leather volumes of The Wisdom of Aleister Crowley in the Club Library. " He had a Latin American background; the risk was that he would develop the concepts of Liberation Theology and devote his Pontificate to the poor: both to the state of those economically poor and to those our Enemy calls the Anawim; the righteous Poor whose poverty results from their adherence to the Enemy's Law. The very moment after Bergoglio was elected Pope, his friend Cardinal Hummes ..."

Wormwood has gone so far as to open his mouth in order to share a tired witticism about Cardinals Hummous, Tzatziki, and Taramasalata. He saw the red gleam of hungry malevolence in his uncle's eye, and shut his mouth again.

" ... said to him 'Do not forget the poor.' That was the moment at which our Father Below summoned his War Cabinet to crisis session. You see, Gerhardt Mueller is, most unfortunately, an expert on Liberation Theology ... Bergoglio and Mueller in collaboration might have done immense damage to our cause ...

"Our Father Below asked each Cabinet Member in turn whom they had upon their list of patients who might be manipulated to avert this threatened catastrophe. Happily, I was able to offer him two of my own most reliable patients: Kasper and Marx. Together, we worked out the brilliant strategy whereby, instead of with the Poor, the gullible idiot's sympathies were engaged with the monied classes of the libertine North European and North American societies; instead of to the Righteous, faithful servants of the Enemy, Bergoglio's imaginative identification was secured to those who had formally and decisively rejected the Enemy's call to sexual continence by remarrying after divorce. He never even noticed the substitution!"

To continue.

7 May 2016

Suckers? (1)

Mr Under-Secretary Screwtape felt confused. He savoured the liqueur in his glass ... was it Annibale Bugnini blended with Jimmy Saville? Or Augustin Bea with fine aftertastes of Freddy Ayer? The concoction was, in either case, superb; but he had an uneasy feeling that the failure of his palate to make those really precise distinctions ... a malady he felt all too often nowadays ... might be the first sign of that disintegration, that dissolution, which he had always known he would ultimately experience. But so soon? After so few millennia? When he felt still at the height of his powers?

He was woken from his reveries by the grating voice of his most detested nephew, Wormwood. "Uncle! Wake up! Uncle! Isn't it marvellous news? Oh the Sucker! That Bergoglio should fall for it! Hook line and sinker! The glorious, glorious wonderful Sucker! Uncle!! Wake up!".

It had been a great mistake to allow this callow junior tempter to be elected to Club membership; too late, however to complain about that now. Screwtape opened one eye. "Bergoglio is the Vicar of the Enemy ... it is indecorous; it lowers our own dignity to speak so disrespectfully about him. And ..." (somewhat mendaciously he added) "I have no idea what 'sucker' means". "It means he's gullible" yelped the horrible infant. "I just can't think how he can be simpleton enough to have been taken in by such nonsense as that! Haven't you read Adulterii laetitia?"

Again, the old gentledevil winced. Such obvious, such adolescent humour. No style. No finesse. A put-down had become necessary. "If you stop shouting silly jargon and jolting my arm and spilling my drink and making childish jokes I will tell you precisely how the trick was worked. And I strongly advise you to avoid coarse human slang ... you have been in trouble about that before ... Our Father Below regards the adoption of human linguistic cant as a sign that a Tempter is going native ... we must always remember to put and to maintain a proper distance between ourselves and our patients."

To continue.

5 May 2016


On April 10, I explained, as clearly as I could, that I would not be publishing comments until Ascension Day. My blog would be a comment-free blog.

I return to my computer today to find awaiting me a string of comments, getting ever more abusive, from somebody who clearly did not read that announcement, and feels that I was rudely refusing to answer him. As I made clear on April 10, I did not read his comments until now ... and have now deleted them.

This blog is now again open to comments.

Extraordinary Form Local Calendars

I have great admiration for the LMS ORDO (LO hereafter) and often look at it. I have never found a misprint or any sort of mistake; I am myself the compiler of an ORDO and find the LMS accuracy well nigh miraculous!

So I am not criticising it; and most certainly not by snide implication. I am simply hoping to open up to the learned among my readers a question which is logically diverting but also has practical implications.

(a) LO thinks it is right to give the local calendars "as they were or should have been" on January 1 1961. I am unsure about this. Local Calendars have always tended to evolve and mutate organically. This continued to happen after 1961 just as it had before, probably by the old means of a Bishop seeking and receiving a particular grant from the SCR, until the publication of the Novus Ordo calendar in 1970, at which point, of course, the whole game-plan changed radically. Should we not incorporate such changes that appear to have happened 1961-1969? As examples, I would take the following: an ORDO of 1969 which I have (i) gives certain directions for the Christian Unity Octave in January. These mainly involve the use of the admirable Mass for the Removal of Schism. (ii) on March 17, S Patrick is shown as a Class ii feast throughout England and Wales.

Yes, I know Summorum Pontificum privileged the rite of 1962, but it did not address the inherently messy business of Local Calendars. It didn't say "local Calendars are to be held frozen at the point of evolution they had reached by 1961". After all, "1962" Missals are published nowadays which include S Joseph in the Canon, despite the fact he was added after the editio typica had been authorised and published.

(b) As LO says, a problem arises with regard to dioceses which did not exist in 1961. (i) So, e.g., Arundel and Brighton, taken out of the diocese of Southwark, is assigned by LO the Calendar of that diocese. My problem here is that the calendar concerned was not designed for Sussex. It was designed for an area including Canterbury in Kent, and so it includes (for just one example) a number of canonised Archbishops of Canterbury. These are of minimal local concern in Sussex. It also follows, of course, that the Southwark calendar, now that Sussex has left that diocese, should no longer show specifically Sussex Saints. (ii) Hallam was made up of territory taken both from Leeds and from Nottingham; and LO only allows it Feasts "which are common to both". Logically, this could be disastrous, because ... well, just suppose there were some Saint who really did belong specifically to the area included in the present diocese of Hallam ... someone who lived his Christian life there or witnessed to Christ by his death there. I don't know whether there is!! But there could be. In this case, he/she would not appear in LO as to be celebrated in Hallam unless he/she had been on the Calendars of both Leeds and Nottingham. And he/she would almost certainly not have been on both! So Hallam would lose a genuinely indigenous Saint; who would continue to be observed in another diocese which no longer embraced the area of his/her relevance!

(c) I rather wonder about those English Martyrs canonised October 25 1970 or beatified 22 November 1987. It seems a shame ... er ... I do realise that this raises questions of a different order from those in (a) and (b); particularly that of the update of the old calendar in general.

Since it is unlikely that Ecclesia Dei has the manpower or archives to sort out such problems as (a) and (b) for however many dioceses worldwide the Catholic Church has, it is, I feel, arguable that knowledgeable people should use the methodology sensibly laid out in Canon 19 and do it themselves ad interim (it could be a long interim).

I would be interested to hear of readers who happen to have English diocesan ORDOs from the years 1961,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.

4 May 2016


So which Collect will be used on Ascension Day in the OF next year?

At the Vigil Mass and at the First Vespers, the Editio tertia Missalis Romani of 2002 offers a new Collect, which will be used this year in the new Translation.

And moreover, for the Day itself, the Third Edition gives the alternative of yet another new Collect: except that in this case it isn't new, it's the ancient Roman Collect preserved in the 1962 Missal and, of course, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (and, I presume, in the Ordinariate formulae). Here is a literal translation of the Latin:
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who believe thy only-begotten Son our Redeemer this day to have ascended into the heavens, may also in mind dwell in the heavenly places.
As an example of how Cranmer expanded his Latin originals, I suspect out of a pastoral desire to ensure that the Collect wasn't over before a dozey congregation had cottoned on to what it was saying, I offer his version:
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens: so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell.

The current Roman Collect uses a beautiful piece of Leonine antithetical rhetoric: literally: for the ascension of Christ thy Son is our provection, and, whither the glory of the Head has gone first, thither also is called the hope of the body. I don't like to say anything that even seems disrespectful towards Pope Leo's latinity, but I wonder whether the thought pattern is bit too tight and rapid for a Collect. Rhetoric suitable for a homily (which is where the compilers of the post-Conciliar Missal found this phrase) is not necessarily appropriate for the terse and brief literary form of the Collects of the Roman Rite. Perhaps that is why the old Collect is now on offer again.

There was a horrible tendency for Twentieth Century Liturgical Committee-persons, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, to be too-clever-by-half in the formulae they dreamed up as they sat around their tables.

3 May 2016

Craddock Ratcliff (1896-1967)

Most of the Anglican 'Patrimony' whom I introduce to you were Papalists. Not so Ratcliff. Indeed, when he died he was in the process of seeking admission into an Orthodox jurisdiction.

Like many in his generation, indeed, like Dr Pusey himself, Ratcliff was a considerable Classicist and an adept in Hebrew and Aramaic. He taught at London, Cambridge, and Oxford. His friend and collaborator Arthur Couratin (Principal of Staggers) gives us this window into Ratcliff's boyhood:
"As a schoolboy he attended a church in South London which was notoriously Anglo-Catholic. Here the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer was celebrated with all the ceremonial of High Mass of the Roman Rite, and the Canon Missae was silently interpolated under the cover of the elaborate music. Whatever may have been the devotional value of such a performance it could not fail to arouse the intellectual curiosity of a highly intelligent schoolboy".

Ratcliff was particularly intrigued by this paragraph of the Canon Missae [I give the Ordinariate translation]:
We humbly beseech thee, Almighty God, command these offerings to be brought by the hands of thy holy Angel to thine altar on high, in sight of thy divine majesty; that all we who at this partaking of the altar shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of thy Son, may be fulfilled with all heavenly benediction and grace.

And Ratcliff loved the idea that our heavenly altar is taken up and united to the everlasting heavenly place of sacrifice; he once called Mass 'a pass to the Royal Enclosure'. Rightly, he discerned here the mindset of the first and second Christian centuries. The reference to Christ as 'thy holy Angel' is found in Justin; Irenaeus wrote "So there is an altar in heaven, for thither our prayers and oblations are directed, as John says [Revelation 8:3 'the golden altar before the throne]". All this is implied in Pope S Clement I when he calls the Lord "the high priest of our offerings". Not to mention Hebrews and the Apocalypse.

The antiquity of the Roman Canon is demonstrated by the fact that it clearly evolved its main features well before S Athanasius invented (Oops! I meant to say, developed) and the Council of Constantinople imposed the dogma of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit; before the idea that the Eucharist is effected by an illapse of the Holy Spirit (read Fortescue if you want an account of the tortured hypothesising which distracted nineteenth century theorists preoccupied with the completely mythical 'lost epiclesis of the Roman Rite'). The reference to Christ as an 'Angel' suggests that we are well before the start of the Arian controversy. Significantly, the Milanese version of the Canon 'corrected' 'angel' to 'angels', presumably to eliminate this 'problem'; Rome herself was too traditionalist (and the words too established) to tamper with the phrase, even when most of the world had turned Arian.

S John Paul II (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 10) wrote of "an aspect of the Eucharist which merits greater attention: in celebrating the sacrifice of the Lord, we are united to the heavenly liturgy". Suppose every Latin Rite priest still bowed low over his altar every morning (supplices te rogamus ... if we had Byzantine manners we would probably prostrate ourselves here or do proskyneseis) and said those stunning words which begin "iube haec perferri ...". The Holy Pontiff would not have needed to make his implicit criticism.

2 May 2016

'Righteous among the Romans'

Jews laudably and graciously honour as 'Righteous among the Gentiles' those gentiles whom they deem to have defended, even at personal risk, members of the Jewish race during the horrible antijudaic persections of the twentieth century. The instinct is an admirable and a generous one. During this Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, a thought occurs to me. Just suppose we in the Ordinariates ... assisted, perhaps, by our dear brethren who still linger in Welbiland ... were to form a list of those Roman Catholics who, in the years before Anglicanorum coetibus, dealt justly with Anglicans ... we could even have it engraved on big brass tablets and hung on the walls of Warwick Street ...

Firstly, of course, heading any and every possible list, there stands Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. For us in the Ordinariates, he is our great and admired Benefactor and Founder. Which is why some of us rather dislike the malevolent and spiteful way in which (some of) the German bishops and others are currently campaigning to trash his legacy.

Next, among the distinguished living, Fr Aidan Nichols is head and shoulders above the rest. The hours that man has worked, writing on our behalf, helping, advising, planning, preaching, lecturing.

Among the departed, I will mention a figure who appeared in my blog some time ago: the Cardinal MERCIER, who presided over the Malines Conversations. "The Church of England United but not Absorbed".

And another Cardinal: RAMPOLLA, Secretary of  State to Leo XIII, who, in the troubled days of the 1890s, when some English RCs asserted that England would be converted if only they could persuade Rome to condemn Anglican Orders, remained a firm friend of Anglicans and of England. He absented himself from the final meeting of the Holy Office at which the formal vote was taken to condemn Anglican Orders.

For today, just one more Cardinal will suffice: GASPARRI, the great and learned canonist, who brought into being the first Codex Iuris Canonici, who, again in the 1890s (when he was not yet a cardinal), found it difficult to understand why Anglican Orders were invalid. In one of the text books he had written he had taken the view that the words in the Roman Pontifical Accipe Spiritum Sanctum [Take the holy goste was the Anglican Form from 1550 onwards] were, on their own, an adequate Form for episcopal consecration, even if the the old consecratory Prayer in the Roman Sacramentaries were not used. As a member of the Papal Commission set up on the Anglican Question, he found it hard to go further than to agree that, for the avoidance of doubt and scruple, Anglicans should be conditionally reordained.

Happily, those old controversies of the 1890s are now just History. It is far from my intention to revive them. But I hope you agree that it is right to honour the memories of good, honest and principled men who were fair to us in difficult times.

Other nominees?

1 May 2016

Pip'n'jim on May Morning?

So Ss Philip and S James used irreverently to be referred to in Oxford. One of our most majestic Victorian Anglo-Catholic churches, also known as Pip'n'jim, raised its great spire into the sky above North Oxford; Parish Church for the redbrick suburbs that grew up in the later nineteenth century after dons were allowed to marry. Spire and building are still there, but the building now houses offices for some Evangelical organisation. A symbol of what has happened to this place. So swiftly, as Waugh put it, have the waters come flooding in; Newman's aquatint Oxford, Anthony Trollope's Oxford, hot-house of Anglican Theology ... and of Anglican scheming and quarrelling and gossipping ... the grey-stone town where and whence the black-backed parsons ruled ... they are no more, unless Plato has their idea wisely and safely tucked away in his heaven and allows tour-operators to arrange excursions.

May Morning still exists; but it is a matter of Mr Plod doing his best to quell disorder (more among the Town than among the Gown). Mr Proctor, of course, comes not within a million miles of Carfax and neither do the gentlemen in bowler hats. Frankly, listening to the madrigals sung, without any alcoholic disorders, in the front quad at S John's (usually, at 7) is distinctly more attractive than pretending to enjoy the 'traditional' crowded goings-on at Magdalene bridge (at six o'clock).

Rather a sad post, this, isn't it, for the lovely old English celebration of May Morning? And it gets sadder: the Roman Rite has joined in the trashing of Tradition by abolishing the celebration of Ss Philip and James on May Morning, and shoving the pair of them around, like vagrants Of No Fixed Abode being endlessly moved on by the police.  Yet this was one of the thirty-odd Days of Obligation when the community met together for Mass, until encroachments of the Enlightenment and an appetitive Capitalist desire to keep the workers' noses to the grindstone reduced most of those days to Days of Devotion; when the Faithful were merely urged to go to Mass (and, of course, next to nobody nowadays even urges). It was Pius XII who dispossessed Ss Philip and James of May 1 so that S Joseph Opifex could occupy it and so reclaim for the Church the Socialist Workers' Festival. Let's be fair: on paper, that's not a bad idea. But it never caught on. You can't, simply by decree, create a deeply known and inculturated traditional celebration. Imaginative liturgical reformers never realise that.

And this year, of course, yet another problem raises its ugly head. Pip'n'jim on Sunday May 1 collides with a Sunday in Eastertide; a fact which, since the time of Pius XII, has required their suppression. Mgr Burnham, emeritus Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Dr Lawrence Hemming, have deplored these modern rules which mean that most of the feasts of the Apostles never get exposed liturgically to the contemplation of Sunday worshippers. I can offer a couple of more-or-less authoritative dodges which might enable readers to circumvent this absurdity.
(1) H Davis Moral and Pastoral Theology (1934) Vol iii p 145 writes "To substitute for the Mass prescribed in the Calendar another Mass at choice would normally be a venial sin, but if great scandal arose or there was contempt or serious negligence, the sin would be a grave one. It would be no sin if the celebrant had a reasonable excuse for the change and if there were no scandal. But to make such substitutions frequently would connote contempt of the Rubrics, and would be a grievous sin unless, as stated, there was a serious reason for thus acting." Would a devotional desire, or the pastoral need for catechesis, be a iusta causa? Even a gravis causa?
(2) The current Roman Pontiff has given a most powerful lead, each and every Maundy Thursday since his success in getting elected Bishop of Rome, to those who feel that one should not worry too much about pettifogging liturgical red-tape and silly little rubrical prohibitions which prevent one from making some great and glorious point. Especially if one is oneself wiser than the rules, which, like the Holy Father, I almost always find I am. Does this particular rubrical Gordian Knot offer an occasion upon which Papa Bergoglio's example of splendid rubrical freedom should be embraced and followed? Does his praxis create what Fr Davis would have considered a iusta or a gravis causa? Surely!! Viva il Papa!