31 October 2017

Traditional Catholics in the Baltimore area...

... Ordinariate news!! Mount Calvary Catholic Church, centre of a flourishing Ordinariate Group, is being erected into a parish of the Ordinariate. Bishop Lopes, Ordinary of the Chair of S Peter, will celebrate Pontifical High Mass (ORDINARIATE RITE) at 4.00 on Saturday 11 November. During Mass he will consecrate the Altar, and seal into it a relic of S John of the Cross.

Mount Calvary has taught and practised the Faith since 1842; its first Vicar, Fr Alfred Curtis, was received into Full Communion by Blessed John Henry Newman himself, and subsequently became the second Bishop of Wilmington.

It sounds a jolly area; the Shrine of S Alfonso Liguori (FSSP); and America's first Catholic Cathedral, our Lady Assumpta, are not far away.

29 October 2017

Post Scriptum to Bishop Roche

PS I have just remembered a highly Ecumenical liturgical suggestion made in 1955 by an Anglo-Catholic priest called Fr Hugh Ross Williamson in a book called The Great Prayer. This book was reissued, by the way, in 2009 by Gracewing, accompanied by a warm commendation from Bishop Alan Hopes, now the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, and a member of your Lordship's Congregation for Divine Worship.

Fr Hugh wrote about the Canon of the Mass, "the first Eucharistic Prayer" as some people call it nowadays, in the following words:
" [T]he Canon today is not only the prayer for unity within the Church itself. The sects which have sprung up since the Reformation could all unite in saying the Canon. There can be nothing in the doctrine implied there from which any presbyterian or congregationalist or methodist could dissent, for no dissenter disagrees with the Catholic Church on the question of the original Christianity St Augustine brought to England. There is in the Canon only the teaching of the primitive Church (for, of course, Gregory the Great only put the finishing touches to prayers which had slowly developed or hardened into particular forms from apostolic times) and nothing whatever of 'late medieval accretions' against which the reformers inveighed. The Canon had already been in use, in its present form, for six hundred years before 'transubstantiation' was defined in 1215. ... in knowing the Canon, we become grounded in the teaching of the primitive Church which Protestants no less than Catholics accept, and so we may find that the Lord's table, despite all the controversies which have disgraced his followers, is indeed the centre of unity."

Isn't this exactly what your Lordship's committee is commissioned to search for? At least one member of your committee, Mr Andrea Grillo, is certain to go along enthusiastically with this proposal! 

Best wishes ...

... to all readers on this joyously triumphalist Feast of Christ our King; but especially brother priests. I wonder if, like me, you find the Breviary propers provided by Pius XI quite exhilarating. Not least the extracts from Quas primas.

Not everybody knows this: while the Novus Ordo dumps the important bits of the Pius XI Collect for Christ the King, the Church of England retains it in a faithful and elegant translation. Perhaps the C of E was a little more faithful to the Vatican II mandate that liturgical changes should only be made if "vera et certa utilitas Ecclesiae id exigat", as well as to the admirable directions of Liturgiam authenticam with regard to the style of liturgical vernaculars.

Today's Sunday Slot on the Home Service seemed to be preoccupied with Martin Luther instead of with Christ the King. They had even sent some Anglican bishop to Wittenberg, presumably at the licence-payer's expense (I didn't leave the wireless on long enough to find out whether the Right Reverend gentleman went round the town setting fire to synagogues as instructed by the fraterculus). Suddenly there came into my mind the powerful words of Blessed John Henry Newman, when he protested formally in 1841 against the Jerusalem Bishopric scheme:
" ... the recognition of heresy, indirect as well as direct, goes far to destroy" the claims "of any religious body ..." and "Lutheranism and Calvinism are heresies, repugnant to Scripture, springing up three centuries since, and anathematised by East as well as by West ...".

It is surely the duty of Ordinariate Catholics never to let their fellow Catholics forget the teachings and counsels of Newman, so directly relevant to the errors of this twenty first century. This is what we are for!!!


28 October 2017

Dear Bishop Roche

My dear Lord Bishop

There are credible report on the Internet that you are chairing a group commissioned by our Holy Father to draft a form of the Holy Eucharist which could be used by Catholics and Protestants (and Orthodox and Copts etc. etc. etc., I take it?). Accordingly, I thought you might find it helpful if I shared with you the experience of the Church of England, which I witnessed for more than fifty years. As you will know, that body is an uneasy coalition of every known version of Christianity from the Tridentine to the Zwinglian, and so it has had much experience in the last century of attempting to square this particular circle.

The game started, substantially, in 1927/8. A form of Eucharist was devised which was intended to be acceptable to nearly all tendencies within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. It was turned down by Parliament, but the bishops made it clear that since it had been given the approval of the Church, they would permit its use, and would make to cease all liturgical practices which "went beyond 1928" (they meant the liturgical life of papalist Anglo-Catholics who used the full Roman Rite in either Latin or English). Notwithstanding this episcopal encouragement, "1928" attracted very little use, and after 1945, the situation had dramatically changed. In particular, a Dom Gregory Dix had published an enormously influential book, The Shape of the Liturgy, which transformed our attitudes to Liturgy. If "1928" enjoyed a fitful and spluttering half-life in a few 1930s churches, for, let us say, about 15 years, it was certainly a dead letter after the War.

My dear lord Bishop: we both know that Liturgy is a subject in which fashions, both academic and cultural, do change with some rapidity. Like me, you have only one life on this planet; are you really sure you wish to devote very much of it to confecting a Liturgy which in a couple of decades will be a laughing stock, as "1928" was in the 1940s? Surely there are more useful ways an intelligent man can spend his time ... fly-fishing ... the Times Crossword ...

Since the late 1960s, English Anglicans have resumed the game of composing liturgies. The process has been bedevilled by the unwillingness of Conservative Evangelicals to allow any texts to be authorised which they consider unbiblical. It is not that anybody has ever wished to force them to use any liturgical forms to which they themselves objected; it was a matter of other people having the permission to use various alternatives. Your lordship could peruse the lengthy published debates of the English General Synod. Or perhaps there is a less time-consuming process you could use. Let me ... I hope, helpfully ... explain the background.

Evangelicals used to claim to be the authentic voice of the Church of England as set forth in its official formularies. But during the latter part of the twentieth century, a new fashion arose. Some Evangelicals gave up relying on the Anglican formularies; instead they began to call for something much more radical: "the Completion of the Reformation". In the context of world-wide Anglicanism, this newer policy is particularly associated with the Anglican Metropolitan See of Sidney in Australia.

My suggestion to you would be that, once your committee has created a first working draft, you should not waste time going through it with a fine-toothcomb. Instead, send it immediately to the Archbishop of Sidney and ask for his wise guidance. You will find that Conservative Anglican Evangelicals are immensely knowledgable with regard to which liturgical words and phrases currently lie under the Divine Veto, and every bit as generous about sharing that knowledge.

Your lordship's obt servt and child

John Hunwicke

PS follows tomorrow.

27 October 2017

Mueller getting into his stride ...

"They believe the pope is infallible when he speaks privately, but then when the popes throughout history have set forth the Catholic Faith, they say it is fallible".

Lifesite News provides an elegant English translation of a fine article by Gerhard Cardinal Mueller. The sentence above encapsulates the root problem of Bergoglianity ... its papolatry, its corrupt hyperueberultrapapalism, its gleeful insistence on rupture within the Church's sacred continuities.

Mueller's article is about Luther and the Reformation. You must not miss it. You will not read anything better in this "Luther Year". And it is particularly apposite as we approach what some, appallingly, call Reformation Day.

Luther was evil. His legacy has been even more evil. And it has corrupted the daily teaching of PF, largely because he does not understand it.

I beg you also to read my own paper explaining all this in Luther and his Progeny, Angelico Press. 

There are a lot more fine articles, too, by even finer writers, in that volume!

25 October 2017

Fatima, Apostasy and the Tail of the Devil

In 1977, Blessed Paul VI, on the sixtieth anniversary of the last Fatima Apparition, said this: "The tail of the Devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church, even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the Faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church".

I know some of you chaps out there sometimes feel a bit dubious about Blessed Papa Montini, but, really, faced with words of such prophetic discernment, how can you maintain your reservations? Come on!

By the way: have you yet read Cardinal Burke's very fine Buckfast Address on ...  Apostasy? If not, you jolly well ought to get on with it ...

Apostasy is a word we ought to be more willing to do business with. The beginning of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England is commonly dated to 1833, when  blessed John Keble preached a sermon on "National Apostasy"! Very Patrimonial! Immensely Prophetic!

24 October 2017

Ecumenical Agreements

"Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae fidem Catholicam exprimit, quam Ordinariatus sodales profitentur". So says Anglicanorum coetibus. Accordingly, the CCC is an integral part of the structural grammar of the Ordinariates ... wired into their DNA, as people curiously say nowadays.

How appropriate is it for PF unilaterally to change this document? But he has recently said that he wishes it to be changed. Has he consulted the three Ordinaries? News of such consultation has not reached me.

If the Catholic Church subsequently signs an agreement to re-establish canonical links with the XYZ Church, will a later pope be able to change that agreement, and to do so without any sort of previous bilateral consultations with the XYZs?

Some of the hyperultraueberpapalists have argued that Amoris laetitia is Magisterial, and hence binds in conscience. Have these individuals explained to the XYZs and to the Church's other Partners in Ecumenical Dialogue that, should they sign up to Unity, they would be obliged to accept de Fide papal diktats issued by this or a subsequent pope without bilateral agreement?

Or is it their thinking that for those already in canonical union with the See of S Peter, a more draconian system of demanding assent to the whimsies of each successive pope can be required than will be asked of the XYZs when they enter into unity?

How would such a system, in any case, be possible? If the XYZs were in Full Communion with the Catholic Church, then a member of the Latin diocese of Outopia who disagreed with some particular recently imposed papal eccentricity, could abandon Outopia and join the XYZs ... and still be within a fully Catholic Particular Church, but one in which the eccentricity concerned would not demand assent.

When PF goes around embracing leaders of Churches and ecclesial bodies, does he whisper in their ears "Of course, while I very much hope you will come into unity, if you do so you will need to understand your obligation to accept whatever novelties I or my successors unilaterally and suddenly promulgate"?

Or is there a bizarre and gigantic hiatus between PF's frothy ecumenical enthusiasms, and his tyrannous and tight-lipped treatment of his own subjects, together with his absolutist praxis of changing doctrine and practice?

This pontificate has seen the wilful attempted imposition of doctrinal novelties upon the Catholic Church; some of these have contradicted teaching explicitly repeated by previous popes as little as a decade before. If I were Superior of the SSPX, I would sign no agreement with the current regime unless the Society were therein assured complete liberty in law to choose its own Superiors; and had all its property legally secured in such a way that no power in Rome ... or anywhere ... could get their hands on it.

These are no less dangerous times than when the Wolves were let loose on the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

23 October 2017

Nightmares, nightmares!

Last night, I browsed through the Statement on Abortion, put out by the British Episcopal Conferences and embargoed until coffee time this morning. No; that was not a nightmare. The Statement is deft, definite, sensitive and sensible. It does both the Conferences, and the drafter, much credit.

The nightmare struck at about 2.00 a.m. this morning, Monday. I am only just recovering from it. Hang on for a jiff while I mix myself yet another White Lady (you see, I am quite Americanophile).

I dreamed that I had woken up ... in 2067!

Worse: the Church was in crisis!!

The Pope seemed to be a Francis IV. He had recently published an Apostolic Exhortation called Vitae sanctissimum donum. It contained, at about paragraph 666 or perhaps not quite so early in the text, a completely orthodox statement about Abortion. Good, so far. But it then descended into a miasma of qualifications and footnotes, the jist of which appeared to be that we can't just leave the matter there. We need to bring to bear all the most sensitive up-to-the-minute moral considerations, as a result of which it is clear that, if a woman wants an Abortion, her priest needs to Accompany her sensitively as she explores her conscience. If she feels that Conscience impels her to ... er ... entrust back to God the life which ... er ... she is unable to accept, then Father must respect that and drive her to the ... er ... clinic.

It got nastier than that. Apparently, some 'Conservative' Cardinals had addressed some Dubia to the Pontiff; and a small group of insignificant reactionaries in the Church had had the impertinence to address a Filial Correction to the Holy Father in which they interminably cited all the previous Conciliar and Papal statements condemning Abortion as being always illicit. They made great play with the very definite statements against Abortion made by pope Francis I and the 2017 Statement by the Bishops of Great Britain. They even suggested that, being a substantive change in Catholic doctrine and morals, the document was ultra vires Successoris S Petri, and accused Francis IV of propagating heresies.

Worser and worser: Pope Francis IV refused any answer. But others were at hand to supply replies. Cardinal von Schwaermerei of Vienna got quickly to work, explained that Vitae sanctissimum donum was a development, not a contradiction, of the previous teaching, and that Newman would been proud of it. Meanwhile, he ensured that any signatories in Austrian establishments were either sacked or expelled or verbally beaten up. Cardinal Engels said that the German Bishops had already been applying the policy favoured by Francis IV for some decades. Archbishop Stiletto of Malta, having declared that the gates of his seminary were wide open to the departure of its one remaining seminarian, emphatically explained that any woman with an unscheduled pregnancy should "listen to the pope ... not to Pope Francis III nor to Pope Francis II nor to Pope Francis I but to the present pope, Pope Francis IV". Cardinal Pierrepoint of Westminster explained that the 2017 Statement on Abortion by the English, Welsh, and Scottish Episcopal Conferences had been sadly lacking in the ethical sophistication required in the second half of the twenty first century. He insisted that ...

Happily, at this point I woke up. Rarely have I been so relieved to return to 2017. Three cheers for Archbishops Nichols and Tartaglia and their colleagues. I hope their Statement will be carefully read both by Catholics and by our partners in ecumenical dialogue (including poor Welby) and ... perhaps, rather a forlorn hope, this ... by the Media.

22 October 2017


Last night, a draft, unpolished, breaking off suddenly in mid-sentence, of tomorrow morning's post appeared; I have no idea why. Two people submitted each a comment. I have removed both the post and two comments.

I would be glad if the writer of the second comment resubmitted it tomorrow, if he feels it still fits the post as it will be published. The other comment sadly misunderstood my post as being an attack on women who have abortions. In fact, it was a satirical atack on something totally different.

I do rather assume that readers will be genre-savvy.

I would also appreciate it if readers who notice hostile jiggeryPokery on the blog would keep me inform

Piltdown Man and the proposed Catholic/ Protestant Eucharistic Prayer

I have a lovely postcard which I bought when I was a keen little boy very interested, I can't now remember why, in Science. It came from the Natural History Museum, and showed the skull which was the final glorious proof that Men are descended from Apes; the long awaited proof of Darwinianism: Eoanthropus Dawsonii, AKA the Piltdown Man, AKA the Great Hoax. If I had time to waste being childish, I'd pin it up with a picture beside it of the mighty Dawkins.

Liturgy has its Piltdown Man; the 'Liturgy of Hippolytus'. Actually, I'm not being quite fair; Piltdown Man was a deliberate forgery; an attempt to provide the evidence for a dogma for which genuine evidence had been tantalisingly too coy to show itself. 'Hippolytus' is no forgery, but a genuine first millennium liturgical text.

But, everyone now agrees, it is not by Hippolytus, nor was it a very early liturgy of the Roman Church. And Professor Paul Bradshaw has shown good reason to think that it is not nearly as early as used to be assumed. Yet this text dominated the Committee-Liturgy reconstructions of the twentieth century. It provided the basis of the Eucharistic Prayer which is by far the most commonly, and disastrously, used in the Catholic Church: Prayer 2. It was the model of the drafts which started to be considered in the Church of England in the late 1960s.

Gregory Dix was among the many taken in by the then consensus that (what earlier writers had called) 'The Egyptian Church Order' was really an early form of the Roman Rite; although his instincts were too sound to swallow the idea that really early liturgy had an Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit after the Institution Narrative (he concluded that this must have been an interpolation into 'Hippolytus' dating from the fourth century, when notions of Epiclesis became popular in the East).

Despite its dodgy origins, 'Hippolytus' became real politics in the C of E in 1965, and initially appeared to be productive of highly useful results. The Liturgical Commission offered a draft Eucharistic Prayer which ran "Wherefore ... we offer unto thee this bread and this cup; and we pray thee to accept this our duty and service in the presence of thy divine majesty (note the echoes of the Canon: ... offerimus ... panem ... calicem ... hanc ... oblationem servitutis nostrae ... ... in conspectu divinae maietatis tuae ...). A year later they offered the explanation "this need mean no more than 'we put this bread and this cup at God's disposal', so that he may use them to feed those who receive in faith. It can, of course, be interpreted to mean something else; but it does not assert the fully developed doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries ... Hippolytus ... Irenaeus ... Justin ... Clement ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity". But a tiny 'note of dissent' followed from one Colin Buchanan: "I reluctantly dissent ... Inquiry has shown that the phrase ... is unacceptable to many Anglicans".

Buchanan was not just a single individual. He was front man for the (mostly) Calvinist extreme Evangelical wing of the Church of England. In the decades which followed, his eagle eye relentlessly spotted and vetoed (through the Evangelical block vote in Synods) any phrase expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; not because he wanted to save evangelicals from having phrases they disliked forced upon them; there was no proposal or desire on anybody's part to make evangelicals use anything they didn't like - he just couldn't stand the thought that, in a long list of optional alternatives, there might be even just one on the menu which Anglo-Catholics could use with a moderately good conscience.

The poor bloke would go apoplectic if anybody pointed this out to him, but the main fruit of his long and active life was the unwillingness of many Anglican Catholics to use any of the Eucharistic prayers authorised by the Church of England. All those decades of Liturgical Revision since the 1920s, Green Books and Orange books and 1927 and 1928 and goodness knows what,  Series One, Two, Three ... the Alternative Service Book and Common Worship ... mostly with options galore ... and "Catholics in the Church of England" still don't have one single usable Eucharistic Prayer!

Even 'Non-Conformist' churches use 'offer' language nowadays; I've heard it among Methodists and URC: after all, it is based on a diachronic and synchronic ecumenical consensus. But not in Buchanan's C of E. Paradoxically, the 'Reformation' body which retained the most 'Catholic' doctrines, traditions, and structures became, in the second half of the twentieth century, the most inflexibly anti-Catholic of the whole lot in its refusal to allow any approximation, however ambiguous, to Catholic doctrine in its Eucharistic rites. The dear old whore (I say this with great affection and in my very friendliest tones) is now Liberal in ethical matters and Church Order; and extreme Proddy in the texts of her worship.

There are rumours that in some secret Vatican angulo a Eucharistic Prayer is being confected which may be used by both Catholics and Protestants. I wonder if it will be usable by Evangelical Anglicans ... if it includes any suggestion of 'offering' the Eucharistic Elements, it won't be. Secondly, I wonder if it will be usable by Byzantines. When, in 1928, the Church of England proposed a revision which included an Epiclesis, Orthodox critics made very clear that that Epiclesis did not match up to Byzantine standards. Orthodox can be very rigid!

While we remained in the C of E, we 'papalists', of course, used the rites of 'another Church'. But for those of you who turned down Pope Benedict's offer and are still hunkering down in the bilge water of Old Mother Damnable, the only liturgies legally available to you are perched on the extreme 'left' wing of the Reformation spectrum!

20 October 2017

Correcting the Correctio

Excellent news for you ! There is now a pro-Bergoglian counterblast to the Correctio Filialis. Go and read; go and enjoy! Spread knowledge of it! It is important that journalists and the Internet do not forget our Correctio!

Strictly entre nous ... and entirely within these four walls ... the counterblast was actually masterminded in the echoing marble halls of the Correctio Secretariate as a disinformation device to keep our Correctio Filialis in the news. On no account divulge this; it is top secret. I know I can trust you.

We had no trouble collecting signatures for the Correctio Correctionis! For some reason, fear of reprisals doesn't seem to deter people from signing a pro-Bergoglian manifesto! Among the signatories we secured is the (Jesuit) Master of Campion Hall in this University. I knew he would be up for it because he authored a pro-Bergoglian document which, festooned with the word CONFIDENTIAL, was circulating earlier this year in at least one English diocese. I got a copy which, as far as my recollection goes, had fallen off the back of a lorry.

But our biggest coup was a much more interesting signatory. Martha Heizer, leader of the Austrian branch of We Are Church. Martha belongs to a very elite group: those who have been excommunicated in and by this pontificate ... yes, even under the regime of Mercy, excommunications happen!!

Why were Martha and her husband, in 2014, excommunicated? For the canonical offence of Simulating the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The pair of them hosted priestless "celebrations of Mass" in their own home. Ergo ... is it Canon 1378? Rigid, but fair!

After receiving the sentence, Martha interestingly expressed the view that they were still members of the Church because of their Baptisms, and would remain so unless they themselves left the Church.
(1) The Good News: Martha understands and accepts the dogma of the indelible Character marked upon the soul in Baptism.
(2) The Bad News: Martha seems to think that she (and hubby) do themselves have the power to wipe the Character of Baptism off their souls by 'leaving' the Church.


Nobody has the power to extinguish the full effects of Baptism. Not the Pope; not the Canon Lawyers; not the Heizers.

Martha's mental confusions are the reason why I am now going to disappoint all you hardline bloodthirsty Traddies: I am uneasy about this use of Excommunication. I do understand the importance of marking the seriousness of offences the Heizers had committed against the Body of Christ, the Church. But ... these poor dim silly confused creatures ... would it not be more merciful to excommunicate them formally but to suspend the full effect of the sentence to the extent of allowing their canonical pastor to use his discretion ad salutem animarum?

19 October 2017

Newman and Ratzinger

A friend drew my attention the other day to a post on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, which printed an ancient piece of mine from 10 September 2009. I thought it read rather well, but then, I suppose I would, wouldn't I! Anyway, here it is again, unchanged. PLEASE remember its date!

 The other day, in Fr Ker's admirable biography of Mr Newman, I found a diverting error in the Index. Nothing less than a description of Cardinal Manning as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ah, the might-have-beens of History. Today, I would remind you of Manning's bad-tempered criticism of Newman; that with Newman, even after his reception into Full Communion, it was still the same old Anglican, Oxford, Patristic tone. We can do worse than recall this as we approach the beatification of that very great man. This may irritate some readers, but since this is my blog I will say it all the same: the whole point of Newman is that Manning was right; he never ceased to be an Anglican; that is to say, a superb exemplar of all that was best, God-given, grace-given, wholesome, and holy, in the life of the Provinces of Canterbury and York while in separation from the Voice of Peter. When he put off all that was schismatic, separatist, narrow, flawed, partial, heretical, in the ethos he imbibed from the Church of England, he was free to be more perfectly and fully Anglican than ever he had been before.

Because there is more to say about 'Anglicanism' than I said in yesterday's post. An Anglicanism which purports to be a doctrinally distinctive, even a superior, form of Christianity: yes, it is a diabolical mirage. But in the unhappy centuries of our separation from Peter, grace was not stopped up. A tone emerged; a style, a way of doing theology, of living the Christian life, which in itself is by no means unCatholic; a sober tone, a careful tone, a tone which read deeply and with understanding in the Fathers and looked to Byzantium and beyond as well as to Rome.

I know I surprised some readers and enraged others not long ago by describing Benedict XVI as the first Anglican Pope. But I believe it is wonderfully providential that it falls to this man to raise his fellow-Anglican John Henry Newman to the Altars of the Church. Have you read the Ordinary Teaching that this pope gives week by week? His sympathetic exposition of the Fathers of East, West, Syria? When you read his own theologising, can you avoid a feeling (I can't) that you are reading one of the Fathers; that you have picked up a volume of Migne ... you aren't quite sure whether it's from the PG or the PL, and you're even less certain which volume it might be, but anyway, that's the corner of Bodley that you're sitting in, and out of the window there's Newman's Church of S Mary, with his college of Oriel just beyond. And it is very easy to feel that it would be the most natural thing in the world to raise your head from your desk in the Patristics Room and see, in the chair opposite you, the diffident, erudite face of Professor Ratzinger, verifying a reference or two before hitching an ancient MA gown round his shoulders and scuttling through the traffic in the High back to his lodgings in Tom Quad.

Anglicanism as some self-important separatist codswallop that prides itself in its separation from the Successor of Peter: let's flush it away fast. But then the cry can go up: "Anglicanism is dead! Long live Anglicanism!"

17 October 2017


There can't be many institutions in the Kingdom of England which go back to 1018 ... as Buckfast Abbey does! Westminster seems like a New Boy on the Block in comparison. After the Henricean Interruption, the great monastery was rebuilt in the last century by French monks, on the same foundations and with the same River Dart running noisily but cheefully beside it.

When I turned up there for last week's Marian Conference, I had not realised that next year there are going to be massive celebrations for the Buckfast Millennium. These are to include ... Patrimony, Patrimony ... an event for the incumbents and churchwardens of Anglican parishes which belonged to Buckfast in the Middle Ages. (For my daily Mass, Dom Thomas Regan had very sensitively assigned me the twelfth century chapel of S Michael, where, I was told, the local Ordinariate group offers the Holy Sacrifice.)

When I was a tiny boy, so I recall, I was struck, visiting S Alban's Abbey, by the paintings of the Crucifixion on the West faces of the Nave pillars marking where the Altars had been for the Morning Masses. That is where the altars are for that same purpose at Buckfast. Much use of them was made last week by clergy attending the Conference.

But if, like me, you haven't been to Buckfast for some decades, what will strike you will be the incredible (research via the Search Engine and you will discover I don't often employ that hyperbole) make-over the Abbey Church has recently received. It looks ... just ... spectacular. Go and see! Find out what the Millennial Year has to offer you! Incidentally, 24-27 November this year, 2017, there is to be a big Vocations Weekend. I can think of nowhere better to go in order to listen to God, if you have any thoughts of living the Rule of S Benedict in an Abbey with a long history and which is also deeply rooted in the present because of the ministry it daily offers to the many thousands who flock there.

Dom David Charlesworth, the Lord Abbot, very kindly gave me some of his time telling me about the work of restoration. You wouldn't be disappointed if you only went there to look at the floor. The temporary floor left by the monks who did the original work has been replaced by square Purbeck limestone tiles; a stone so exquisite that it seems to generate light.

But this floor is but a taster for the Sanctuary floor. Those who have 'done' Westminster Abbey will remember the 'Cosmati' floor there and will recognise the magnificence of the floor at Buckfast. They will be further edified to be told or to read that the circular stones near the High Altar were originally given by Lord Elgin and came from the Temple of Diana of the Ephesians. What a very biblical floor! And there is purple stone from the Imperial Porphyry Quarry in Egypt. 'Nuff said!  

16 October 2017

Married Clergy

There are some signs on the Internet of the ordination of married men to the presbyterate of the Latin Church becoming a talking-point.

Just for the record: the practice of ordaining married men who had formerly ministered in Separated Western Ecclesial Bodies did not originate in the post-Conciliar period, nor was it introduced in order to favour ex-Anglicans.

It began in 1950, at the direction of Pius XII, and embraced former Lutheran pastors.


What a splendid few days we had at Buckfast sharing and learning with regard to our Lady's Fatima messages! A gifted young priest from Bishop Egan's diocese, Dr Serafino Lanzetta, crafted and held together a variety of contributions with an immensely sure touch. It was fun to make so many new friends as well as to meet again with already friends. Our dear Cardinal Burke was welcomed with evident and warm enthusiasm by the Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O'Toole, who kindly gave a morning to the Conference. Professor de Mattei ... Fr Houlden ... Fr Finigan ... Dr Thomas Crean OP ... Fr Duffield ... et ceteri ... if you didn't attend, what a scintillating gathering you missed. Don't make the same mistake in 2117!

The flower-decked feretory from which the Theotokos of Fatima presided was, I gather, constructed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate from London, whom I much enjoyed meeting. There can't be many Reverend Mothers whose academic careers began on the Playing Fields of Roedean and journeyed through Mechanical Engineering into the sunlit uplands of Marian festivities! God preserve them in their wonderful Tracchia Mariana and their devotion to the Mass of Ages! They know full well that her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Tomorrow, some words about Buckfast Abbey.

15 October 2017

Intercommunion; tedium

German (ex-)Catholics have recently held a joint communion service with Protestants. It is causing some controversy. Boring. Mega, mega, boring.

In 1913, Anglicans in the Kikuyu area of Kenya held a joint communion service with Protestants. This, of course, led to great controversy. Eventually, a couple of years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand statement which subsequently Dix wittily summarised as meaning that the event had been immensely pleasing to God but must on no account be repeated.

We of the Patrimony do get bored seeing some "Catholics" making the same mistakes that our predecessors made more than a century ago. Tedious. Why can't they think up some new mistakes of their own? Why do they have to tag tardily along behind Anglicanism? Have these daft jokers no imagination?

Why can't they have some compassion for our high boredom-threshold?


It seems a long time ago now ... but it's only a fortnight. Yet again, I was graciously invited to Copenhagen to sing Mass for the Latin Mass Group, and to meet them socially. It is a great pleasure to meet again with old friends ... and a privilege to admire their growing families! And, not least, I am moved by the friendship and hospitality of Mgr Czeslaw Koslon, Bishop of Copenhagen, who not only allows me to say my morning EF Mass in his elegant domestic Chapel, but even serves it for me! I bet not many presbyters have had their Masses served by the President of an Episcopal Conference!

This recent visit was the last occasion in which I shall stay in the Bishop's House, because the Church is relinquishing the lease and refurbishing a large ecclesiatical complex, formerly Jesuit, in the centre of the City. It will have flats for his Lordship, his Vicar General, accommodation for Franciscans ...

Ulf, who knows everything, kindly spent Saturday taking me round the Danish and Nordic Art section of the State Museum of Culture. We live in an age of highly expensive blockbuster international exhibitions, yet many of us ... I mean me ... know practically nothing about the art of other European countries in their own terms. Delving into the art of another country, one also gets sidelines on ones own. A portait might make one feel "If that were in the Wallace Collection, it might be by Boucher" or "That could be by Fuseli".

And how many people on the top of a Clapham omnibus have even heard of Thorvaldsen?

14 October 2017

Pope S Agatho the Good ... and heretical popes

S Agatho's Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. Larger, I think, than some 'Ecumenical Councils'. He was summoning it (Bede H.E. V 19) adversus eos qui ... dogmatizabant. This Synod was held against a doctrinal error that had just arisen: against those who dogmatized that there was but one Will and Working in the Lord our Saviour (i.e. Monothelites). But the Holy Father did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

Inevitably, there was an Englishman in Rome and inevitably that Englishman was S Wilfrid. This indefatigable missionary tended to find himself embroiled in rows, and his instinct on such occasions was invariably the same: go to Rome. (After all, if one got there fast enough, the Holy See only heard one side of the story!)

So S Agatho invited Wilfrid to join in his synod so as to benefit from his thinking and his erudition ... NO: not a bit of it; Wilfrid was invited to speak his Faith, in other words, to make formal confession of his orthodoxy; but not of his own merely personal Faith: that of the Province or Island from which he came. His adherence to Catholic orthodoxy was incorporated into the Acta Synodi: "Wilfrid, the God-beloved Bishop of the City of York ... was set in the seat of judgement in Synod with his 125 coepiscopi; and, in the name of (pro) the whole Northern part of Britain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles and Britons, and also the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith, et cum subscriptione sua corroboravit."

The confidence with which S Wilfrid spoke for so much of (what in Irish scholarship is now neatly called) the Atlantic Archipelago, and for the orthodoxy of thousands of Scottic monks who had never met him and, had they done so, might have had strong things to say about his Paschal Mathematics, may well take our breath away. But I want to point out what this Synod was for.

A heresy had arisen, and a previous pope (Honorius I) half a century before had actually promoted the error. Heresy is a very grave matter; but a Pope is there to condemn it. Just think of what a massive ecclesial disorder is involved if the pope himself actually favours the heresy and uses his office to spread it. 

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

That is why, on this blog, he is known as S Agatho the Good.

The next pope, S Leo II, confirmed the Conciliar condemnations.

When will there be a Pope Agatho II? Domine, exaudi et miserere!

11 October 2017


The First Vatican Council defined the dogma that ex cathedra  pronouncements of the Roman Pontiff were infallible ex sese et non ex consensu Ecclesiae; and that they were irreformabiles.

This welcome and necessary clarification of the standing of the highest class of papal statement left the field wide open to the implication that papal pronouncements which are not ex cathedra might require the consensus Ecclesiae before being fully recognised as the unalterable Teaching of the Church of all the Ages. And that such lesser papal statements might be reformabiles.

This, after all, is only common sense. Even if it might be difficult for the most hardline of the hyperultraueberpapalists, with their unCatholic belief that Pope Francis is ipsissima vox Spiritus Sancti, to grasp it.

The differing interpretations of various bishops and Episcopal Conferences make clear that Amoris laetitia, at least in the interpretation put upon it by the Bergoglianists, does not have the consensus Ecclesiae.

And the suggestions of Cardinals Mueller and Parolin, that dialogue should open between the two 'sides' into which Pope Francis has so lamentably divided our Holy Mother the Church, surely open up the possibility that Amoris laetitia may be clarified and freed of its ambiguities ... in other words, treated as reformabilis.

A minute but interesting piece of pedantry: are footnotes an integral part of a Magisterial text? Surely not. Surely, therefore, difficult footnotes could be either expunged or redrafted; new, clarifying, footnotes could be added.

Call me flabby if you like, but I do think that the current regime should be given ways of saving face. However, an essential part of such a dialogue would have to be the publication of the Comments sent to the HF after the CDF had studied the draft of the Apostolic Exhortation.

10 October 2017

Blessed John Henry's gifts to the English (and Welsh!) Church

A splendid weekend with the Oratory in formation at Cardiff ... with the opportunity on Monday to say Mass in an Oratorian chapel on 'the Cardinal's' Feast Day. It can't be coincidence that two of the vibrant areas of new life and of the re-establishment of Holy Tradition within the English Church, the mighty Family of S Philip and the much humbler and newer Ordinariate, should both be within the powerful intercession of this great Englishman and teacher of the Faith. Very truly a Man for Our Time.

There are quite a lot of reasons for enjoying a visit to the Catholic chaplaincy at Cardiff University, but the best one has to be the warmness of the hospitality and the kindnesses of Fr Sebastian, Fr Alexander, and Brother Ambrose; and of the nuns. Then there is the Gastronomic Dimension: I was invited by my friend Dr David Woolf, Senior Fellow, to the Pelican Club Dinner on Saturday night. The Brethren had somehow caught a pig, so we ate it. Such crisp ...

Nearby, a fellow guest was Fr Ignatius, Provost of Birmingham, a friend who was a friend when I needed friends. Also among the guests (Oratorians are very practical ecumenists) Canon Brendan Clover, Provost of the Society of our Lady and S Nicolas of Lancing. It was good to hear how things are in that very dear Collegiate Church, 'Woodard's Folly', which pierces the clouds above the South Downs. I gather I survive in the College's Oral Tradition as having said Mass in Latin every morning. I wish it were true!

Sunday lunch afforded the prospect of delicious pork ... and the company of the undergraduates of the Hall which the Oratory runs, gowned and seated at a formal meal. I spoke for a minute or two after lunch; they actually listened to the sad old gent who had popped up in their midst! And, later, that rich and beautiful Oratorian speciality, Solemn (old rite) Vespers; followed by Choral Mass: fine music (Mass for Four Voices by Tallis; In salutari tuo by Heinrich Isaac). And Praise to the Holiest to finish the day, and to initiate the following day with its Newman celebrations in union with the Cardiff Ordinariate Group.

Sadly, I had to leave after breakfast on Monday, but, happily, the Oratorian hens had laid very generously, so there was an egg to go with ... what was it  ... ah, yes: the bacon!

Why doesn't everyone go to Cardiff University?

8 October 2017

Holy Father?

I have occasionally been criticised for the lack of respect with which I sometimes refer to the current occupant of the Roman See. I don't think that is really quite just. It is infelicitous constantly to refer to someone in the same way. The graces of literary convention demand Variety. But I have decided to avoid controversy by following the usage of people who resort to "PF" or "the HF". I do so regretfully. You see, surely those initials could have multiple and disrespectful references, for which I would not wish to be held responsible. "Poor Fellow". Or "the Horrible Fantasy". You name it. I mean, readers might like to take time off from finishing the Times Crossword and devise some referenda for those initials.

Be fair to me. I have habitually refered to the Sovereign Pontiff as anything between "Bergoglio" and, er, "the Sovereign Pontiff". My own preferences would be for those elegant first millennium terms domnus apostolicus and Vicarius Petri, but some newer readers might be mystified.

It can be amusing to use honorifics which are perversely and delightfully apposite. For example, if it were ever to occur (please God, make this happen!) that we had a Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster of profoundly diminutive proportions, how satisfying it would be always to refer to him as "His Eminence"!

By the way: in yesteryear, the Church was commonly referred to as "Our Holy Mother the Church". The University of Oxford still does that when conferring Masters' Degrees, but otherwise not many people seem to do so nowadays. I don't thnk I've ever yet been criticised for failure consistently to do this.

S Irenaeus, explain to us: Instaurare omnia in Christo ... how's it done?

The disorders of this pontificate undoubtedly call for a remedy. But how to go about it?

It would best be done by our Holy Father himself, before his pontificate ends. A Hermeneuticon ad Exhortationem Amoris laetitia plenius interpretandam, giving that document an unambiguously orthodox interpretation, and issued motu proprio, would be one way of doing it ... the cleanest, simplest, and most Frank way.

Otherwise, how could it be done by the later pontiff to whom this disagreeable duty will fall? Here is my suggestion.

Involve the world-wide episcopate; because, cum et sub Petro, they are (as Leo XIII put it) Judges of the Faith. Their formal judgements (not their 'talking-shop ideas) should be sought by means of some formal and specific questions.

However, here there is a procedural problem. The recent Synods have probably given the impression to some of the sillier and doctrinally weaker bishops that, when their views are sought, they are each being invited to say what they think is most helpful to the Church, or what is God's will for the Church of our own day. That mistake will need to be firmly corrected. We must get back to the first millennium assumption that each bishop speaks, not his own views or clever ideas, his "blue-sky thinking" as people sometimes call it, but what he has received from his predecessors in his see. You know what I mean ... you've all read your S Irenaeus ... parelabon kai paredoka, as S Paul would say.

So their Lordships should be required to provide documentary evidence of what their (say)  ten immediate predecessors had taught about the matters in hand.

The then pope - Agatho II, perhaps, might be his name - would embody this (synchronic and diachronic) teaching of the world-wide episcopate in a major dogmatic statement, preferably with each section lucidly summarised by a Si quis dixerit/negaverit  .... anathema sit formula.

It would constitute a formal Magisterial statement of what is already the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium.

6 October 2017

Walsingham, and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

Priests and deacons ... possibly also Seminarians ... I'm pretty sure ... are entitled to be members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a truly splendid organisation.

Readers who are Catholic clergy formerly in the Church of England will remember the dear old SSC ... Societas Sanctae Crucis ... which we all used to belong to. By the time the C of E fizzled out of meaningful existence a decade or so ago, the SSC had become in some places a rather tired old thing; a few elderly clerics meeting together to complain ...

... and the CCC is what the SSC was in its earlier and truer and vibrant days. There is a real desire to serve the priestly (or diaconal) spirituality of members; good lectures and papers; retreats, pilgrimages. Members are of all ages, with the younger and more orthodox strongly represented.

And, of course, it encompasses the various splendid constituencies of the English Catholic clergy. Cradle Catholic; secular and religious; Ordinariate former Anglican; "Diocesan" former Anglican; the various nationalities. I can only say how much I have gained from my own membership.

The English Confraternity is due to have its Autumn Colloquium at Walsingham, Wednesday-Thursday 15-16 November, with stellar lecturers including Fr John Saward; the Bishop of Paisley, and the Mgr Armitage the Administrator. All three forms of the Roman Rite catered for.

I don't know why anyone should take seriously anything I recommend, but I do recommend at least checking out on the website both Membership, and the Colloquium. Dare I say it, these strange days in the life of the Latin Church make it all the more appropriate that we should meet together to chew the, er, cud.

I'd be very surprised if you came to regret it.

Please give it a thought.

5 October 2017

A great English Bishop

Mass this morning of S Thomas de Cantelupe, Bishop of Hereford, a Buckinghamshire man who became Chancellor of this University. His sanctity manifested itself in a rigorously ascetic lifestyle combined with enormous generosity towards the poor and a pastoral regimen which was so demanding as to destroy his health. He had a soundly antagonistic attitude towards the great both in Church and State, so much so that he was excommunicated by Archbishop Pecham and died in Italy while awaiting papal judgement upon his appeal. His skull, I believe, is preserved at Downside.

In the Counter-Reformation period, so one gets the impression, a lot of those canonised were the founders of religious orders sponsored for official sanctity by their orders. But in the Middle Ages, there is a consistent theme of the canonisation of bishops who stood up to the mighty, were benefactors of the poor, and whose cult, after their deaths, sprang up spontaneously in their Cathedral Churches. Such a one was S Thomas de Cantelupe. However, he was not formally canonised until 1320. One suspects that a collateral descendent, a young curial offical called John de Grandisson, may have had a hand in this through his influence with the great Avignon pope John XXII. In his bull of canonisation the pope carefully related, surely with one eye on that embarrassing excommunication, that Cantelupe had received the full last rites of the Church before his death.

Young Grandisson later became Bishop of Exeter, and a very fine one too. Like his great-great uncle, he had no truck with Archbishops of Canterbury. When the primate approached Exeter on Metropolitical Visitation, Grandisson repelled him with military force.

S Thomas de Cantelupe was regarded, with Becket, as one of the two great and saintly Thomases of the Middle Ages and is sometimes pared with him iconographically.

4 October 2017


Signatories to the Correctio Filialis stand currently at 217. I mention this because I know that many priests were apprehensive about joining what journalists might deem a Small Number. There is a natural sense that, the more who sign, the less easy it will be for anybody to embark upon a strategy of bullying. So if your own benchmark was "Above 200 might make it safe", that is where we are. But ... no hassle ... I'm not trying to chivvy anybody ... I know that we are all in different situations. And I know you will support us in your Masses and prayers. Those dear reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood who have written to me ... thank you. I have been deeply moved.

There are more male than female signatories. I shall probably get into trouble for saying this, but I sometimes feel that women (unlike men!) underestimate their own importance and the value of their opinions. The drafters of the Correctio view things quite differently! I would very much like to see zillions of academic female signatures!! Make the Correctio a Women's Movement!!!

3 October 2017

Mueller rules ... OK ...

Pope Francis, it becomes daily more clear, missed a trick when he released Gerhard Cardinal Mueller from his CDF desk and bestowed him upon a waiting world.

There's nothing like freedom; and Mueller is very much in his prime. I hope all readers will consider carefully the following pasage in a recent address he gave in Mannheim.

"In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact Council text ready when words like 'faith' or 'mercy' are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn't exist in Latin America. They are more intuitive there ... They look at a text without considering it as part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned, clear theological preparation must take place."

I think it is the most incisive and well-directed criticism I have so far heard of the current regime, of Pope Bergoglio, of Tucho and his other cronies, and of Amoris laetitiae. Cardinal Burke and his 'Dubia' colleagues didn't come within a mile of this for sheer clinical skill in inserting the stiletto neatly between the fifth and the sixth vertebrae.

So-called 'traddies' who unloaded unjustified abuse on his Eminence when Papa Ratzinger appointed him to the CDF should get munching their humble and contrite pie right now.

2 October 2017

Realised Eschatology

Today, a Greater Double, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, the antiphon for the Benedictus in both the Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours draws on Hebrews 1:14 to describe the Angels as leitourgika Spirits sent for diakonia. Is this why there is an iconographical convention of showing angels wearing dalmatics? Has anybody ever thought of using this to defend the (corrupt?) medieval practice whereby Byzantine Bishops wear not chasubles but dalmatics by saying that a Bishop is the Angel (see Rev 2:1 etc. and cf apostellomena of Heb1:14) of his Church?

[By the way, I have an ikon of the 1920s Bishop of Aegina, S Nektarios, wearing a chasuble; Although I know that Byzantine bishops do sometimes celebrate in a phelonion (and omophorion), I rather suspect this may be a delightful example of the conservatism of Byzantine iconography. He is also wearing a black hat; I assume it is his monastic hat.]

Incidentally, in this antiphon both the Breviary and LH change a very clear future (tous mellontas cleronomein which becomes capient haereditatem in both Vulgates) to a present capiunt: 'those who are already inheriting salvation'. Was there a nest of prescient adherents of C H ('Realised Eschatology') Dodd among the sixteenth century liturgists who put this office together?