31 December 2016

Fr H's Review of 2016

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

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

Ecumenical voices

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

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

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

29 December 2016

"Brother-and-Sister"?? UPDATED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we not in a bit of a mess?

Cardinal Burke's latest (3)

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

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

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

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

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.


28 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (2)

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

To continue.

27 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (1)

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

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

To continue.

22 December 2016


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


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

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

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

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

21 December 2016

I hope you are Unhelpful UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Examples ... analysis ...

20 December 2016

Private messages

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

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

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

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

19 December 2016

Summorum Pontificum

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

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

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

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

Bigotry still abounds.

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

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

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

Capitulation is not the way ahead.

17 December 2016

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

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

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

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

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

16 December 2016

Seminary training (2)

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

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

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

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

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

15 December 2016

Clericalism? Are the Traddies guilty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 December 2016

Seminary training (1)

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

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

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

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

To be continued.

13 December 2016

"Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican": A FOOTNOTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 December 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 December 2016

Response to query

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

Is Fr Z important?

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

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

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

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

9 December 2016

Blue vestments

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

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

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

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

5 December 2016

Initiating processes

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

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

Is that the sort of thing the phrase means?

Patriarch Bartholomaios and Amoris Laetitia

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

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

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

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

3 December 2016

Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichthof

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

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

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

2 December 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technical assistance, anywhere?

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

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

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

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

Sancta Bibiana

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

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

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