31 October 2018

More on the Anglican Cult of the Beevy Emm

Isis had, as one of her Names, polyonumos (there ought to be a special term for words which help to validate themselves), and it occurs to me that manynamed appears to be true also of our blessed Lady, the Theotokos ... and I'm not just thinking of the Akathist Hymn or the Litany of Loretto.

I recall, a few decades ago, we put a statue of our Lady up in Lancing College Chapel. Somehow or other, somebody contrived that a little plaque was set into the side of the plinth explaining that This statue of the Madonna was given by etc..

I know Italians do refer to the Mother of God as La Madonna, but am I alone in finding the English phrase with the definite article a little odd?

My theory is that the usage carries a subliminal message of  "This object is to be seen as merely an expression of a convention within Art History. On no account should you jump to the the conclusion that you should or might or could have a relationship with the person to whom this artefact relates."

Some readers will recall the Great Chesterton Compromise.

30 October 2018

Cardinal Baldisseri ...

... is rumoured to have turned nasty when someone complained about the manipulation of the Synod. The complainant wondered how participants without much Italian could be deemed to have assented to texts which they had only heard hurriedly recited ... in Italian. B is said to have threatened that he would run the next Synod in Latin. (Interesting that he is so convinced that he will still be alive and still in post.)

That will be the day. Using Latin would in fact have the practical advantage of putting all the linguistic and national groupings on to the same level; the Italians, and those who had spent years working in the Curia, would no longer be unfairly advantaged.

Since, however, that is unlikely, perhaps the Synodal language should be English. English had more  circoli than any other language-group. Or perhaps the main World languages should take it in turn to be the Language of the Synod. I am not joking.

When I was young, the Catholic Church in England was often sneered at as being "the Italian Mission". Now, with the de facto demise of the Church's international language, the sneer looks almost true.

I have little doubt that Blessed John Henry Newman would have considered that the proceedings at Synod2018 were simply invalidated by the unscrupulous way they were managed. His formula "practised upon" springs to my mind (I am recalling the letter printed at LDxxv164sqq.).

Most worrying of all is the smuggling-in of topics which you and I might have thought irrelevant to the published themes of a Synod. Such as having a "Youth Synod" slipping into its texts the need for the censorship of Catholics on the Internet.

These people have reached such a degree of confident arrogance that they do not even care when their motives and devices are transparently and indecently obvious.

Archbishop Chaput sensibly suggested that the Synod should, as a matter of urgency, deal with the homosexuality crisis in the upper clergy.

That's not how they work, though, is it?

In fact it's the exact opposite ...

28 October 2018


"I am afraid that the tyrant majority is still aiming at enlarging the province of infallibility."

Synodalitas asynodica

There is a delicious, delightful, glorious anomaly revealed by Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who was one of the Synod's drafters (report in Crux).

He has revealed that the stuff in the Synod's final document about 'synodality' and 'discernment' did not represent the thinking and deliberations of the Synod Fathers, but was bunged in by a couple of PF-appointed secretaries.

Synodality, that is, was interpolated into the account of the Synod's deliberations ... by ... a highly unsynodical manoeuvre.

You couldn't make that up, could you?

Cardinal Gracias, God bless him, went on to point out that you simply can't go around claiming that such a document is 'Magisterium', because Magisterial documents need to be drafted with painstaking care. He's dead right. And every person who reads his words owes a debt of gratitude to His Eminence for his clarity of expression. This is a highly welcome development: clarity has not been left solely to Cardinals  Mueller and Burke.

'Magisterium' is not some amusing little political game to help PF to advance his dodgy agenda. It is something that relates to binding the consciences of the People of God. It says a lot about what is so terribly wrong with this pontificate and with this pontiff that he can treat serious matters, relating to the souls of the Faithful, with such unbecoming levity.

As I've written before, some of us have experienced all this sort of nonsense within Anglicanism. Lambeth Conferences used to issue their 'Encyclicals' together with the Conference's 'Resolutions'. Back in the 1960s, we had a theologian called Eric Mascall. Unlike most Anglican theologians, his academic background was in Higher Mathemarics. He was a decisive and ruthless logician, and to this he added a widely respected competence in Thomism.

After Lambeth, Eric wrote crisp and beautifully entertaining little pamphlets (published by the Church Literature Association, 4d) exposing the logical absurdities in the pompous and woffly bishoptalk in which these fatuous documents were couched.

Bergoglianity will do nothing to enhance the reputation of Synods, Synodality, Discernment, Accompaniment, Magisterium, or the Petrine Ministry. It will, if it gets the chance, simply reduce Christ's Church Militant to what Anglicanism already is ... a laughing stock among the ... er ... discerning.

27 October 2018

Why is Anglicanism so gloriously ephemeral? Some pertinent questions.

The Estates Commissioner whose responsibility it is to look after the Cathedrals of the Church of England, a Dr Eve Poole, has explained that people like to go to Anglican Cathedrals because they "are drawn to their ephemeral music and liturgy".

I think I have read somewhere that mayflies share this extremely brief life-span.

I very much wish that the Novus Ordo liturgical culture found in the English Catholic 'mainstream' could become as ephemeral as that in Anglican cathedrals.

What is it that the Anglicans, dear ephemeral poppets, have got which we lack? Could they give us some hints? I'm sure many members of the CBCEW would value advice on the ephemeralisation, not only of their cathedrals, but of their entire dioceses.

Would it be philologically improper to pray that the remainder of this pontificate may be "literally ephemeral"?

I wonder what La Poole's doctorate is in.

Probably not Greek.

Footnotes: (1) I believe it was in the 1970s that the Church Commissioners mislaid £700,000,000 or so, which in those days was real (if, clearly, somewhat ephemeral) money.
(2) Wikipedia reveals that Eve has skills honed in the Redundant Churches business. 

26 October 2018

Newman's Daily Blog

Realitywise, there are people who look at a blog, some blogs, often the same blogs, regularly every day. Own up ... well, I do it myself. It occurs to me that a similar experience can be had by dipping daily into the letters of a diligent and acute letter-writer. Of course, it is not the same as reading a blog, because, obviously and obviously, Blessed John Henry Newman is not writing for the Internet but for particular individual correspondents. But ... you see what I mean.

Yes, I have been dipping into the Blessed's correspondence, at the moment LDXXV (Letters and Diaries Volume 25). In this, the 1870-1871 volume, our Ordinariate's Patron is often found dealing with the problems thrown up for ordinary devout Catholics by the persecuting hyperueberultrapapalists of his own day. His was a profound and loving ministry towards those whose faith and membership of the Church was sorely tried by the dominant clique ("the violent and reckless party") in Rome, and their associates in England ... not least, the then Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, who relentlessly muddied the waters of sound doctrine with his grossly exaggerated accounts of the nature and powers of the Papal Office. (Newman's own relieved reaction to the text of the Definition of Papal Infallibility was "Nothing has been passed of consequence". He reminded the troubled that no account had been given of what the term ex cathedra  meant and that by defining the Papal Ministry the Council had in fact limited it.)

I may spring upon you some Newman snippets from time to time. If I remember, I may label them Fromthecardinalsdesk.

Here's a starter:
Fromthecardinalsdesk: "A pope is not inspired. I know you will find flatterers and partizzani such as those whom St Francis de Sales calls 'the Pope's lackies' ... "

I wonder what S Francis' French for 'lackies' was. We stand much in need of such specialised vocabulary nowadays. The Italian 'partizzani' is a good start.

Interesting that JHN selected a particular Italian dialect form of this rather 'international' word. Is there a story here?

25 October 2018

.... or ...

 ... should I have perceived that PF has devised another of those beautiful Irregular Verbs:

I use strong and violent language just as Jesus and the prophets did, because I am at least a prophet;
You are as bad as a murderer because you use strong language, especially against me;
He/She/It ....?

I am not often speechless, but ...

... I have just read ... Holy Coprophilia!!! ... that PF has condemned those who insult others!!!!

More eloquent pens than mine had better conclude this post.

24 October 2018

Voces, vestes ... O flebile flumen!

I dropped into the Quod for a quick lunch ... I find a starter and a pud (with tapwater) set me up nicely for an afternoon; they don't give me that terribly heavy feeling in the legs which I suffer after a main course and a glass of wine.

It was full of youthful Americans (this was the second week of term).

I knew they were Americans, even before I tuned into their idiolect, because of their garb. I think you might know what I mean about their clothing: elaborately casual, in a way that says "I'm not pompous; you won't catch me formally dressed", but also says "I'm sure you are not so ill-bred as to fail to observe how expensively I'm dressed."

Some of them may well have been descended (collaterally, of course) from the Oover who so memorably brought his national taciturnity to the last Dinner of the Junta during that disastrously parthenolatreutic Eights Week.

Their youthful charm greatly enhanced the Foie Gras and the Fig Pavlova with which I restored my aged frame.

I wonder if they've found out where the river is yet.

23 October 2018

Automatic Canonisation of popes!

Yes! The canonisations have been completed!! What superb examples to the least of the Faithful these modern post-Conciliar Roman Pontiffs are, every single man-jack of them!!! Thank goodness we no longer have to bother with the Piuses, the Leos, the Benedicts, and all that unholy crowd with their Rigid Magisterium! However can they have dared to be pre-Conciliar? There can, surely, be few greater failings in a pope than that being pre-Conciliar.

I do, however, foresee two problems about the inevitable, exspectatissima, canonisation of PF.
(1) A number of (apparently) theologically competent people have moved the dread H-word [Heresy] rather close to PF. Tricky. This will, surely, have to be neutralised.

The obstacle could be dealt with by instantly (equipollently?) canonising Pope Honorius I (reigned 625-638). This would mean that, whatever future generations decide about PF's orthodoxy or lack of it, there will still be a precedent for canonising him. Perhaps it might even occur to Cardinal Sarah to give the two of them a joint feast day and a combined invocation in the Litaniae Sanctorum. Sancti Honori et Francisce, Orate pro nobis could ring out henceforth at every Ordination in the Catholic Church

(2) There seems to be no general consensus about what, during the Argie Military Dictatorship, PF did or did not do to help and to save threatened people, or, contrariwise, to delate them. But he does not seem to have delivered great thundering public condemnations against the murderous tyrants (as he fearlessly does qua pope when he daily denounces his 'clericalist' brother clergy).

However, one of the arguments deployed to block the canonisation of Pope Pacelli is that, although he crammed thousands of Roman Jews into Vatican properties and encouraged others to do the same sort of thing, he never explicitly and specifically denounced the unspeakably ghastly Nazi holocaust of European Jewry.

Pius XII is not one of my heroes; but if he also were to be instantly canonised, this would finally clear the way for PF also to be raised to the altars, whatever differing historians may in the future conclude  about his complicity (or otherwise) in the crimes of the Military Dictatorship.

Gotta get everything in place, y'know. Santo subito, if not sooner!!! You never know ... er ...

22 October 2018

The Beevy Emm, alive and well at Queens

Well, I went to the Queen's College Conference and was rather underwhelmed!

There was one outstanding lecture: a real tour de force by John Caldwell on the Psalter. He made clear that the Masoretic traditions are entitled to no assumed priority over those of Greek or Latin Christianity, particularly with regard to the numeration of the Psalms. (There sometimes appears to be a rather shamefaced attitude to the Vulgate (and Septuagint) numeration; this is completely unnecessary. 'Christianity' and 'Jamnian' Judaism are both descended from a first-century rupture; the unconscious assumption that the Masoretic texts are 'authentic' in a way that Christian texts are not fails to remember the Dead Sea scrolls, not to mention Margaret Barker. This is not a pedantic detail; it goes right to the essential point of difference between Synagogue Judaism and Sacrificial Christianity.)

During the next papers, the person sitting to my left felt it quite possible to do her emails' while still, I am sure, paying full attention to the lecturers. Contrary to my every normal instinct, I sympathised.

One paper which looked as though it might contribute to study of the fascinating interface between Orality and Literacy did a little (but not much) more than demonstrating how many of the misprints in printed liturgical books are those arising from that most boringly mechanical cause of error in textual transmission: parablepsis arising from homoeoteleuton ... what a distinguished Professorial Fellow of Queen's in the 1960s, who was never boring, economically called Hom.

Most irritating of all: one lecturer told us that he would not use terms like 'Ladymass' for that period in which the use of that term is not evidenced. So he referred to it as 'The Commemorative Mass of the Beevy Emm'. And he kept on doing so all through his lecture!!! Did the junior clergy of the forteenth century really saunter out of their Vicars' Halls each morning cheefully discussing "Who's going to celebrate the Commemorative Mass of the Beevy Emm this morning?" The crass old English phobia about calling the Theotokos 'our Lady' still seems alive and well. The Beevy Emm, pray for us! Does that speaker imagine the Incarnate Word emerging from His Mother's womb, looking up, and politely saying "Buona Sera: the Beevy Emm I presume"?

In the afternoon, a celebration of the Sarum Ladymass in Queens' Chapel. Or was it a celebration? The celebrant and deacon, so they coyly told us, could not have been ordained in the Church of England before 1992. But their 'celebration' although 'inauthentic' in many details, drew its authenticity - they explained - from the fact that it was 'the Mass'.

Well, invisibly, such a 'celebration' is inauthentic if the 'celebrant' does not have the character of priesthood marked on her soul; visibly, it is inauthentic if there is no glistening bald pate to assure us that she has been tonsured (I fear none of the participants had been). Above all, to have female voices chanting fifteenth century presbyteral and diaconal texts is historically and, surely, musically inauthentic. How many more inauthenticities qualiacunque could anybody possibly want? But the schola undoubtedly did very nicely.

The young woan looked to me as if she might have been wearing the ('Roman') chasuble back-to-front. But the cataracts in my eyes grow larger each day. Perhaps I do her catwalk instincts an injustice.

I sat for the Gospel and left well before the 'consecration', since it was made clear that we were expected to show formal ecclesial communio with these jolly japes by joining in the Pax.

21 October 2018

Dixit Veritatem

In 1933, when the centenary of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England was being celebrated, a Dr N P Williams edited a volume entitled Northern Catholicism ..., in which he himself contributed a preface on 'Northern Catholicism'. Dom Gregory Dix wrote a review of this piece in the Nashdom Abbey periodical Laudate (which has long been out of print).

Dix, without much evidence, regarded himself as being of French origin, and very definitely as a 'Latin' Christian. The idea that, in Scandinavia, one might find a version of Catholicism which was manly and masculine and free of the superstitions of  flabby feminine 'Mediterranean' Catholicism, filled Dix with that combination of fury and satirical wit which so often resulted in his best writing. Sometimes he would quip that there once was a Nordic Catholicism; and that its decadence was one of the things that made a reformation necessary in the sixteenth century.

After a few witticisms about Nazi Racism, the Call of the Blood, and Heil Hitler, Dix in his review quotes Williams:
"the essential religious genius of the Northern peoples, where it finds unfettered expression ...[is] of a mystical and soaring quality appropriate to dwellers amidst the less genial aspects of Nature and beneath 'grey and weeping skies' - a quality which urges it to pierce straight upwards to the ineffable Godhead itself, and forbids it to take over-much delight in symbols, or to rest with satisfaction in material objects of devotion".

This risible tosh inspired Dix to comment: "It is a vivid and sympathetic picture. One can almost see these mystical and polygamous freemen at their simple devotions, and catch the rustle of their golden beards as they bend forward to breathe unsuperstitious prayers into their winged casques, seated on damp logs beneath the grey and weeping dome of heaven". In conclusion, Dix, referring to Horace's XVIth Epode, needles Williams with the suggestion that he might situate his Northern Catholicism in the non-existent Happy Happy Isles ... if only he will be prepared to take advice from a Dago poet (History does not record that Horace was a Swede).

Perhaps I ought not to be too hard on Nippy Williams; after all, he was a theologian of distinction. I believe he was so upset by Gregory's tour de force that he never spoke to him again. But the plain fact is that Dix exploded what was in reality just one more among the endless Anglican attempts to dream up some alibi for declining to accept the 'claims of the Roman See'. In this futile search, Nippy fell victim, in that decidedly nasty decade, to a whiff of the very nasty 'Aryan' myth. Not nearly as badly as did some of the great names of up-to-the-minute German New Testament Scholarship, with swastikas framing their Fuehrer-worship and their Aryan Jesus in his Gentile Galilee. But even in 1933, when the Extermination Camps were nothing more than a perverted gleam in the Fuehrer's eye, Dix saw through it all. Because he was a papalist.

Dix's summary? "Truth will be held most entirely and in due proportion in a Church which is truly 'Universal', supra-racial, and unaffected by the transient spirit of a particular age".

19 October 2018

Bishops Irresponsible

The names of the Bishops in each of the synodical groups is to be witheld "to show forth the spirit of the Synod, which is a spirit of communion".

The duty of bishops when they are gathered together in councils or synods is, above all, to bear open witness to the Deposit of Faith which, handed openly down through the Apostles, they and their respective churches have each received, so as to teach it authoritatively and openly, each of them from his own cathedra. By these means, the world will know, from the open harmony of all the successors of the Apostles, what Christ's truth is.

When the Bergoglianists tried a dodge like this once before, Cardinal Mueller protested. He declared, so very rightly, that the People of God had the right to know what their Bishop was teaching.

I am having trouble thinking of anything more corrupt and corrupting than this crude attempt so to manage gatherings of bishops that they can be manipulated into consenting to error, or appearing to do so.

The history of Councils established criteria by which it could be known whether conciliar deliberations and decisions are to be regarded as valid. Blessed John Henry Newman, characteristically, visited this area of historical theology in the nervous aftermath of Vatican I (Ker pp 654sqq).

Since a 'synod', even if backed by a pope, clearly has less authority than an Ecumenical Council, we need to revisit this topic now. All the more so because of the preposterous recent Bergoglianist claim that synodical statements, provided the pope likes them, come to us with the guarantee of the Petrine Magisterium.

Has Newman's phrase for the ultrapapalists of his own time "an aggressive insolent faction" ever been more true than it is in the context of today's realities? But Newman also wrote "We have come to a climax of tyranny". I find this both sobering and curiously comforting. Today, with its woes, is not the first time that the Catholic Faith has been under lethal attack from a corrupt hyperpapalist establishment. God has always sent an Athanasius or a Newman.

18 October 2018


I gather that, this coming Saturday, October 20, there is a free Conference in the Queen's College about the Sarum rite, and particularly the Lady Mass. Coffee 10.15; Opening 10.50.

3-4.30: a performance of the Lady Mass (including Nicholas Ludford's Saturday Lady Mass). The publicity does not make clear whether this is an actual Eucharistic celebration; nor, if it is, what the status of the 'celebrant' is!

Those planning to attend should have emailed owen.rees@queens.ox.ac.uk by last Saturday, but I expect ...

17 October 2018

23 October

The admirable Lord Bishop of the diocese in which I am domiciled (although, of course, I am incardinated in the Ordinariate) has asked his priests and people to observe October 23 as a day of Reparation for the babies killed since the Abortion Act was passed in this country on that day in the year 1967. He asks clergy to use the Votive (NO) for the Progress of Peoples and to wear the purple vestments of penance.

He suggests, for that day, fasting since midnight the night before Communion and making use of silence at Mass. He particularly suggests that the Offertory Prayers be said secreto. Nice points.

Admirable. I feel strongly inclined to clamber on board his initiative. I wonder which EF Votive one might use ... Salus Populi, perhaps?

16 October 2018

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is, essentially, the Sacring Place of English Kings and - since the invention of the 'United Kingdom' - of the monarchs of that protean political institution. It is rendered suitable for the former purpose by the presence of the shrine of S Edward the Confessor ... whose joyful festival we kept last Saturday.

There was, at the beginning of the modern era, an attempt to make the Abbey something more. In 1485, one Henry Tudor had, with very scant title, seized the throne of England. Marrying a Yorkist heiress did nothing to suppress agitation by those who wanted a Sovereign of the Blood Royal (indeed, his new mother-in-law joined those who were plotting against him); and, since Nature abhors a vacuum, whenever he executed Plantagenets, low-born Pretenders emerged from the woodwork. Foreign monarchs were cautious about betrothing daughters to the family of such a parvenu and unstable 'monarch'.

So he attempted to embellish his tenuous claim in two ways. By calling his son Arthur, he attempted to cast over his dodgy dynasty the mantle of the Once and Future King. And another name with incantatory potential was that of 'Henry'. Accordingly, the old Lady Chapel of the Abbey was demolished so as to be replaced by a new spectacular perpendicular chapel, where Tudor and his family were to be buried, but which, technically, was to be the shrine of a great royal saint who would match the S Edward who was enshrined nearby. Pope Julius issued bulls authorising the introduction of the cause for the canonisation of Henry VI (just as 'the divorce' was to be Henry VIII's Great Matter, so the canonisation was the Great Matter of Henry VII), and for the translation of his body from Windsor to this new chapel. Henry VII was seeking to cloak himself in the aura of the saintly Lancastrian, 'our Uncle of blessed memory', whose name, and whose descent from Catherine de Valois, he shared; and the very steps up to the chapel were to be endowed with indulgences. The building was adorned with all that was most sumptuous in the decorative arts of medieval England and of renaissance Italy.

In the twentieth century, there were admirers of Henry VI, especially Old Etonians, who revived the aim of securing his canonisation. However, so far ... perhaps PF ...

It is perhaps amusing that the last heir of the House of Stuart to prefer a claim de jure to the Three Crowns should have been His Most Eminent Majesty King Henry IX Cardinal Bishop of Frascati.

Hindsight informs us that there never was to be a Tudor King Arthur I. Nor did the politically-motivated campaign come to fruition of a canonised Saint Henry VI who would swell the pilgrim numbers in the Abbey. In fact, that England of popes, pardons and chantries had less than forty years to run before the Great Plunder.

But things seemed quite different at the start of the sixteenth century.

After all, the principal truth that the Muse of History teaches us is how very often the utterly unexpected is what happens.

A comforting thought during this present pontificate.

15 October 2018

Home Schooling

Apparently critical remarks have been made about home-schooling by some participants in the Synod.

I spent most of my adult life working in a college which was part of a corporation of colleges devoted to providing a middle-class education in the Catholic Tradition as this was understood within the Church of England. It was known as the Woodard Corporation, and contained about thirty colleges.

You might suppose that Canon Nathaniel Woodard, the Founder, must have entertained an uncritical devotion to the project of educating the young in colleges.

Not so.

He once described the practice of the mass education of the young as like trying o get one's hands clean by washing them in filth. His provision of so many establishments resulted simply from his conviction that, since the system existed, its worst features should be mitigated.

It was his view that the ratio of priests to pupils should be 1:10; and he did his best to secure that every member of his colleges should make a sacramental confession (the Victorians used the phrase Auricular Confession to make it sound sinister and unEnglish) on every occasion before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. The Chaplain was to be senior to the head master.

For this, he was mercilessly and endlessly persecuted.

Perhaps today's Catholic Church needs a dose of Woodardian 'Clericalism'.

14 October 2018

S Frideswide

Presumably, before 1962 the Birmingham Supplement of the Breviary had the Nocturn 2 lections for S Frideswide on October 19.

I'd be grateful if ...

Oratiuncula hodierna

Saint Paul VI, pray that the smoke of Satan which entered the Church may, by your intercession, be driven back. Pray that the the whole Church may hear with docile obedience the moral teachings which, handed down by your predecessors, you handed down to our generations. Pray especially for your successor Pope Francis, that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he may devoutly, powerfully, and joyfully set forth the tradition received through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith.

13 October 2018

Cardinal Wuerl ...

... has finally had his resignation accepted. Many a blameless cleric would be delighted to receive as extravagant a send-off as PF has given Wuerl. What do we all have to do to earn ...

My own unease concerning Wuerl began with a story I heard the veracity of which I cannot guarantee. So, if I've got this wrong, apologies to the clerics concerned; apologies to my readers for misleading them. I welcome any corrections from anybody who knows the facts more accurately than I do. I would not wish the record to be anything other than straight! The following account is, therefore, provisional. It may well be totally withdrawn, with apologies.

It relates to North America and to the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter in the time of the previous Ordinary, Mgr Steenson..

My recollection is of being told that a parish in that Ordinariate had started an Extraordinary Form Mass on a weekday, which attracted quite a congregation. A stop was put to this by Cardinal Wuerl, who instructed Mgr Steenson to explain to his subjects that the EF was not part of the Anglican Patrimony, and should not be celebrated in Ordinariate churches.

If true, this is preposterous. The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus says that Ordinariate clergy may use either the Roman Rite or the Ordinariate Rite. It does not distinguish between the two forms of the Roman Rite, the Ordinary and the Extraordinary. By decreeing that Ordinariate clergy can celebrate the Roman Rite, and making no distinction between its two forms, those Ordinariate clergy are placed in exactly the same position as every other presbyter of the Latin Church, by virtue of Summorum pontificum.

Is the EF "part of our Patrimony"? In one sense, clearly not. The provinces of the Anglican Communion never authorised the Missal of S Pius V.

But, equally, those provinces never authorised the Novus Ordo of B Paul VI. So, by the "not part of our Patrimony" argument, Cardinal Wuerl would prevent us from using that too.

In another sense, the EF clearly is part of our Patrimony. It has been in use by our clegy and Laity for roughly a century. When I was in the Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury, I used it, in Latin, most weekday mornings. It was also used in various Missals such as the English Missal, which provided it partly in Latin and partly in English and with the possibility of interpolating some formulae from the Book of Common Prayer. I knew it as a schoolboy in the 1950s and as an undergraduate in the early 1960s.

The same is not true of the Novus Ordo! That is totally alien both to the elegant but Zwinglian formulae in the 'official' Book of Common Prayer, and also to the de facto liturgical culture which prevailed in 'Anglo-Catholic' circles.

The old Mass is very much an integral part of our liturgical history. Our greatest liturgist and mystagogue, Dom Gregory Dix, used it daily, in Latin, in his monastery at Nashdom, and insisted on doing so in the Lutheran Churches during a lecture tour in Sweden! In the Anglican shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, there still are dozens of examples of the Missale Romanum (well, there were last time I said Mass there about ten years ago), and of the English Missal, surviving in storage from the happy days when the twenty or so altars in the Shrine Church would have been in constant use, during the pilgrimage season, by priests saying their private masses according to what, in those  happy days, we called "the Western Rite"!

So ... can anybody fill me in with regard to this American business?

12 October 2018

Dr Jalland and the Ordinariate Missal

Over the last few days, I have shown how Dr T G Jalland, my erudite predecessor as pp of S Thomas's By The Railway Station in Oxford, was one of those Anglo-Catholics in the middle of the twentieth century who transformed for thoughtful Anglicans the question of the Papacy; he used the prestigious Bampton Lectures here in Oxford to open up the subject of 'Rome' to a great and much-needed hurricane of historical truth. I have not abandoned my sense of pietas towards him. He was one of the Grandfathers of our Ordinariate.

He used the occasion of the fourth centenary of the First English Prayer Book to preach a sermon which concluded with the summary that Archbishop Cranmer was

"always, from first to last, dependant on an imperfect text of Scripture, on a narrow range of Patristic material, as yet but partially understood in relation to its true historical character, and above all on 'the latest thing from Germany'. It is hardly surprising that his laboriously fashioned structure proved to be, doctrinally and liturgically speaking, a house of cards. But it is ever to his credit that in his command of English and above all of the rhythm and melody of words, he bequeathed to us a treasury out of which may be fashioned in the end 'a manner of the holy communion' far more 'agreeable with the institution of Christ, St Paul and the old primitive and apostolic church' than ever was his own". 

"May be fashioned in the end"! A prophetic vision of our admirable Ordinariate Missal!!

(Thanks to Professor Tighe for unearthing this text for me some years ago.) 


11 October 2018

Kai Lung and Tsu Pich

Discerning people nowadays, surely, have Friends; Close Friends; and Lake Garda Friends. These  last they look forward to meeting annually at the Gardone Riviera Conference.

It was one of these, dear Alex Sepkus, who, I think three years ago, introduced me to the 'Chinese' story-teller Kai Lung. Ernest Bramah's stories seem to have appealed in the 1930s particularly to those who, in Dorothy Sayers' phrase, are intoxicated with words. Wimsey, for example, and Belloc.

The essential linguistic register in these rococo tales is a combination of extreme ritual self-deprecation with an equally mannered elevation of the person addressed ... even in situations which factually belie the language employed.

Here, for example, Ernest Bramah descibes a murderous bandit kidnapping a hapless traveller:

"Precede me to my mean and uninviting hovel, while I gain more honour than I can reasonably bear by following closely in your elegant footsteps, and guarding your Imperial person with this inadequate but heavily-loaded weapon."

I could not help thinking of Kai Lung when I read of how a lofty (although diminutive) individual called Tsu Pich had treated a mean and lowly personage called Kal Chick. Consider this passage:

"For some weeks now, I have become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish. It has become clear to me that Kal Chick must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support, so that his needs can be assessed".

 Philogical notes: 
 Concerned: nowadays, lofty and grand  people are never angry or even worried. In the impassibility of their Olympian fastnesses, they are concerned. 
Issues: in today's world and today's Church, we happily do not have problems. We do, however, have issues, which no longer means that our wives have born children, but that ... er ... we have ...er ... problems.
Receive pastoral support: modern management never does anything hostile, vindictive or harmful; everything done is always for the good of the victim. 
His needs ... assessed: ditto.

So, in the idiom of Kai Lung and Tsu Pich, an ordinary vernacular English analysis such as "This guy needs to be taken away and thoroughly beaten up" gets translated into "We shall give him pastoral support and assess his needs".

It makes the legendary Spanish Inquisition seem almost inviting, doesn't it?

10 October 2018

Montini and Modesty in Martyrdom

As we contemplate the impending canonisation of Blessed Montini, my undisciplined mind has started to meander among some of the more recondite goodies which the mox-Sanctus is responsible for having introduced into the Liturgy ...

Since I am a classicist, certain lines in S Ambrose's Hymn about S Agnes, brought into the Liturgia Horarum by Dom Lentini's coetus, drifted into my memory ... lines which might cause other Classicist readers the momentary puzzlement engendered by an obscure feeling of familiarity. Yes, you have read something like this in 'profane' Classical poetry.

The hymn contains the lines

Nam veste se totam tegens
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.
[ For, covering herself completely with her garment she made for ground with bended knee, falling with a modest fall.]

In the back of my mind was the thought that it sounded like Euripides and probably came from the Iphigeneia in Aulide (where Agamemnon secures a wind to get his fleet to Troy so that Helen can be retrieved, by the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia). But a reading through the Messenger Speech near the end of that play proved the falsity of my suspicion. I sat stymied, until the Muse who looks after Liturgical bloggers (who she?) slipped into my mind the name Polyxena. Yupp! There it is in Euripides' Hecuba (so I was right about the author). Polyxena was a Trojan princess, loved by Achilles, who, after the Fall of Troy (and death of Achilles) was sacrificed upon his tomb, so that, so to speak, he got her in the end ...

Then the Pierian Lady vouchsafed me a second flash of enlightenment: it's also to be found in the Metamorphoses of the Greatest Latin Poet, Ovid. There you have the same three ideas: she covered herself; she fell to the ground on her knee; she fell in a way that did not betray her modesty.
Euripides: katheisa pros gaian gonu ... thneskousa homos pollen pronoian eikhen euskhemon pesein, kruptousa ha kruptein ommata arsenon khreon.
Ovid: illa super terram defecto poplite labens pertulit intrepidos ad fata novissima vultus; tum quoque cura fuit partes velare tegendas, cum caderet, castique decus servare pudoris.

Given the fact that each of these lubricious authors kept a frivolous tongue fairly consistently in a wicked cheek, I suspect that each is amusing himself with a little dry irony at the idea that a girl who was being poleaxed might be preoccupied with the need to prevent the chaps from getting a glimpse of her knees (Euripides had already enjoyed a bit of a schoolboy snigger, surely, in making Talthybios, a few lines earlier, praise Polyxena by saying that she had better breasts than a statue).

Entertainingly, the 'reformers' who provided the texts of the Hymns for the Liturgia Horarum missed out four lines, explaining that they did so because the lines 'nimis insistunt in praedicando pudore' [they go a bit too far in preaching modesty]. What a lovely and revealing (!) Sixties assumption: the idea that going on too much about sexual continence is a mistake*!

One wonders if the 'reformers' ' studies and libraries provided generous views from their windows of the immodest Sixties garments worn by the floozies (lupae, as we and pope Benedict might call them) in the Roman streets outside. It would explain how Bugnini - whom I picture as a man modestly garbed in the Apron of the Craft and with his mind set on weightier considerations than knees - got away with so much liturgical dishonesty.

*Originally the text went

nam veste se totam tegit,
curam pudoris praestitit
ne quis retectam cerneret.
in morte vivebat pudor;
vultumque texerat manu,
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.

Perhaps vultum texerat would have made the Saint sound too Islamic. French gendarmes might have arrested her.

9 October 2018

Dr Jalland in 1934

I continue this little "Jalland" series, which I hope well-disposed readers have enjoyed, by giving you a sketch of what Church Life was like at S Thomas's in Oxford, and in thousands of Anglo-Catholic Churches throughout England, in the 1930s. As I hope discerning readers have spotted, I am not doing this out of mere nostalgia. I think, living as we now are in peace and communuon with the See of S Peter, we may still have a lot to learn from 1930's Anglo-Catholicism as we lift our eyes to a beautiful vision of how the current Latin Church could be, once she is awakened and vivified.

I know that many readers may not have agreed with the analysis Jalland and his fellows came to with regard to what the Church of England really was. I would like to feel that we could leave those judgements to the Great Judge. Because what I desire to focus on is what the old Anglo-papalists thought they were doing: building up again the great edifice of Catholicism in places where they thought it had been obscured and perhaps even lost.

And is that not where we are today in the Catholic Church?

While I was browsing through the S Thomas's archives, the following 'Vicar's Notes' from 1934 attracted my attention; not least for the sense of a vibrant Catholic parish life during that decade when the Catholic movement in the Church of England was riding so very high. Jalland is writing about the observance of the Patronal Festival, of the Translation of S Thomas of Canterbury, on Saturday July 7.

"On that day there will be Masses at 6.30, 7.30, and a High Mass at 9. It is likely that the first evensong of the feast will be sung at 7.30 p.m., on Friday evening, at which there will be a Sermon by the Reverend Canon A.G.G. Ross, Vicar of St Mark, Swindon. It is hoped that there will be many who will take advantage of this opportunity of adding corporate worship to their personal preparation for the Feast. Confessions will be heard on several days before the Festival ... On the Sunday in the Octave the Sermon at Mass will be preached by the Rev. C. Gill, of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, and after Evensong by the Rev.D Sargent, Vicar of St Cross, Holywell ..."

Mass, fasting, before breakfast; multiple morning Masses and a High Mass on a weekday morning; First Evensongs; high jinks continuing into the Sunday within the Octave; lots of confessions; and oodles of Visiting Preachers. This is the Anglo-Catholicism which Betjeman remembered and celebrated in his verses, when "the Faith was taught and fanned to a holy blaze". I suspect that those inter-war years were the last sparkling times before the Luftwaffe destroyed so many of the old Anglo-Papalist slum churches and British governments dispersed the remnants of their congregations into suburbs and high-rise flats.

A speculation of mine is that some of these Patronal celebrations may have owed a lot to what the Anglo-Catholic clergy saw on the Continent. I have in mind Canon Doble of the Diocese of Truro, who did so much research into the Cornish Saints by hunting down the cultus those same saints  enjoyed in Brittany (giving, as he did so, the French clergy whom he met the cheekily inaccurate impression that the entire Church of England was really totally Catholic!). Because it is my impression that Patronal Festivals never were and never have been very prominent in the culture of Irish-English Roman Catholicism. And, in any case, we rather prided ourselves in not aping the English Catholic Church.

Is this a Catholicism which needed the 'liturgical reforms' which followed so soon after the War? Were the 'reforms' of Pius XII - abolition of Octaves and First Evensongs - abolition of Fasting Communion and non-communicating High Masses - really advances? Have they really bequeathed to us a more flourishing, cheerful, inculturated Catholicism? 

We can never put the clock back ... but we can learn from the mistakes of the post-war years.

Today ...

 ... I wish all readers a very happy Festum of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of the teachers of the modern Church.

I suggest readers might like to recite the Athanasian Creed, one of his most loved formulae, with an intention for the Oratorian families which are such a wonderful grace to the Anglophone Churches.

8 October 2018


A most important observation by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller has been reported but not, I think, adequately contextualised.

"A synod of the bishops is not an ecumenical Council. It has no authority. Even if the pope is speaking about authority, it is not magisterrial authority. THE POPE CANNOT CHANGE THE BASIC CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH. He cannot give a new definition of the primacy of the bishop of Rome or what bishops are to do."

The immediate context here is that PF had issued a purported "Apostolic Constitution" claiming to confer, in some circumstances, the cover of papal magisterial authority upon the pronouncements of his own poor doctored and loaded Synods.

The remote context is that Mueller is clearly here alluding to Denzinger 3114 (et vide 3117). Bismarck had launched a violent attack uon the teaching of Vatican 1; the German bishops responded by formally stating that the pope non potest mutare constitutionem Ecclesiae a fundatore datam ... Constitutio Ecclesiae in omnibus essentialibus fundatur in ordinatione divina ideoque immunis est ab omni arbitraria dispositione humana.

Subsequently, Pio Nono confirmed, in extraordinarily categorical language, what the German bishops had taught. It is thus the teaching not simply of the German bishops, but of Blessed Pius IX himself.

Frankly, the "Apostolic Constitution" had worried me. The firm explanation of Cardinal Mueller that PF (or any other pope) simply cannot do this sort of thing lifts a weight from my conscience.

The CBCEW has recently seriously dented its own reputation and authority by issuing an embarrassingly sycophantic ultrapalist communique. It would be very reassuring if this body could just teach the Catholic Faith with the same simplicity and clarity as Gerhard Cardinal Mueller does.

In my mind, Mueller would be a very good choice to sort out the mess which will have been left by this sad and sorry pontificate.


6 October 2018

Jalland continues

"I direct and appoint ... that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached ... to confute all heretics and schismatics ... upon the authority of the writings of the primitive fathers ...". So directed the Revd John Bampton, sometime Canon of Salisbury, when he founded his series of lectures to be given in every alternate year. Jalland, in the Preface to his 1942 Bampton lectures (you can read them on the Internet Archive), expresses "his very deep gratitude" to the friends who have helped him: Nipper Williams (who served at S Thomas's); Leslie Cross; Tom Parker; Eric Kemp; Gregory Dix ... all of them names to conjure with.

On the morning of Monday, July 18, 1870, as the early glow of dawn was slowly spreading across the sky of North Italy, an express train which had left Rome at half past seven o'clock the previous evening, was clanking on its way across the plains of Lombardy. For some weeks past the stifling heat of summer in the papal capital had been quite unbearable, and as the train neared the frontier of Piedmont, the fresh wind blowing down from the mountains must have reached the weary travellers like a breath of new life. Awakened by the glimmering daylight and the cool of dawn, Monsignor Felix Dupanloup, bishop of Orleans, felt in the pocket of his douillette and drew out his breviary. As he turned over its pages to find his places for the current feast of St Camillus of Lellis, his companion, Monsignor Louis Haynald, archbishop of the metropolitan see of Kalocsa, in Hungary, who was occupying the opposite corner of the compartment, leaned forward in the direction of his fellow-bishop. 'Monseigneur', he said, 'nous avons fait une grande faute'. The bishop of Orleans looked up, paused for a moment, and then, gently raising his hand, showed that he had already begun the recitation of his Office.

In my view, that is one of the all-time great beginnings to a book, fit to stand beside anything in the corpus of the divine Jane, and more striking than du Maurier's haunted Cornish house at Mandalay. How Jalland completed his Bampton lectures, I plan to reveal.


5 October 2018

Dr 'Patrimony' Jalland

I know that some readers dislike one of my favourite themes: that in the Ordinariates we have brought with us into Catholic Unity the Giants of our splendid old Catholic Anglican tradition. Why can't I forget about the dead Anglican past and just get on with being a Catholic? I apologise, but with the explanation that, in my opinion, there are curious and instructive parallels between them and their times; and a fair bit of what we are living through today in the Catholic Church. Just two examples: the tirade which Bishop Gore of Oxford unloaded upon his Anglican fellow-bishops after the Lambeth Conference of 1930 dumped the immemorial Christian teaching on Contraception; and the condemnations of so many competent Anglican liturgists of the changes "Rome" made in the Liturgy after Vatican II.

But today, I return to the erudite figure of my predecessor as pp of S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford, Fr Trevor Gervase Jalland. According to Oral Tradition, one Good Friday, at the Mass of the Presanctified (ah, those were the days), some unfortunate Altar boy presented himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. His Parish Priest brushed him aside with such decision that the child keeled over ... ah, those were the days. Jalland (Vicar 1933-1947) went on to found the Theology Faculty at Exeter University; he returned to S Thomas's to be buried, the Funeral Mass being said by the veteran and erudite Prebendary Michael Moreton of Exeter (who was writing about the importance of versus Orientem decades before the papists rediscovered it). Fr Michael risked raised eyebrows at Jalland's very Establishment funeral by using the Canon Romanus. "Jalland was a Patristics scholar and I resolved that he should have a Patristic Eucharistic Prayer".

According to the same Oral Tradition, Fr Sweeney (pp 1979-2003), was not much less resolute. I have been told that he would kick an ill-placed Sacred Minister and, dissatisfied during Mass with the Music, would clap his hands and berate the organ loft ...

Jalland had no qualms about facing lesser men down. He was at the heart of the process of liturgical revision in the Church of England back in the 1960s, fighting the battle for an oblatio in the anamnesis. Ultimately, this battle was lost; the evangelicals in General Synod were able to vote down the proposed "We offer thee this bread and this cup". But most notorious of his audacities was Jalland's response to being asked, in 1942, to preach the Bampton Lectures in this University. This is probably the most prestigious series of lectures upon a theological topic in the Church of England ... and Jalland chose to devote his eight lectures to The Church and the Papacy. This was a time when Dom Gregory Dix had demonstrated the congruity of the Vatican I decrees on papal primacy and infallibility with the praxis of the anti-Nicene centuries; but Dix's audience tended to be mainly his fellow Anglican Catholics. Jalland's hearers would be Anglican theological specialists of every doctrinal school.


4 October 2018

A unique grace of the Holy Spirit?

So there I was, the other day, strolling down St Giles without a care in the world. I had just stocked up at the World's premier Deli, Manos in Walton Street. As I had passed the Tower of the Winds (American readers may be more familiar with a copy of this building in Athens), I had looked over the new statue of Dr Radcliffe ... no; it's not worthy of such a great man; nor a fitting monument to the great age of Oxonian Jacobitism. But then, what do you expect? Redeat magnus ille genius Britanniae ...

Then I stopped as I recognised a brother priest. After Rome, Oxford must be one of the most priested cities in the World. Urbs felicissima. We Exchanged Fellowship. "When you get home", he advised me, "have gin. A very, very stiff gin. Then another. Then read the Communique of the CBCEW just issued at the end of their ad limina  visit to the Holy See. Then have some more gin".

I always do my best to take the advice of brother clergy. I have profound confidence in their sacerdotal wisdom.

I soon saw what he meant about the gin.

The Communique includes a passage which seemed to me familiar: "[PF] is indeed gifted with a unique grace of the the Holy Spirit of God. Even in this time of turmoil, the Holy Father is so clearly rooted in God and blessed by God. His peace is secure. His life is serene. We know, because he showed us his heart. It is the heart of a loving father. In our turn, we affirmed our deep communion with him and promised him our love, support, and prayers. We expressed confidently these sentiments on behalf of all the faithful Catholics of England and Wales."

It seemed familiar because it is manifestly from the same drafting hand which composed a letter to PF on the fourth anniversary of his election to the Throne of S Peter. "On behalf of the Catholic Community of England and Wales ... we thank God that the Holy Spirit guided the Church in the process of your election and that the same Holy Spirit guides and supports you day by day".

I would have to concede that such statements are probably not formally heretical. After all, each of the Baptised is gifted with a grace of the Holy Spirit which must be unique; crafted specifically for each differently created and variously loved individual. Praised be to God for this.

But  if these encomia are meant to have any meaning beyond that of sycophantic woffle, then give me instead  ... any day of the year ... the robust common sense and deft Bavarian humour with which Pope Benedict XVI responded when some fool of a journalist asked him whether the Holy Spirit guided Papal Conclaves.

Call me an unfaithful Catholic if you like, but I have no desire to be associated with these papolatrous statements implying that the Holy Spirit is the private personal bailiwick of PF. They seem to me to come close to blasphemy.

Nor am I very clear what is meant by "deep communion". I think I understand "communion" as a theological and canonical concept. I think I know the difference between being in full, and being in unfull, communion with the Church. But what on earth are these gradations of deepness in the matter of Communio?

"Are you in Communion with the See of Rome!" "Up to a point, Lord Copper".

3 October 2018


There is liturgical evidence, which I do not think has been widely noticed, concerning the authority carried by an act of Canonisation.

The rites of Canonisation have tended  ... this will not surprise you ... to vary in the last seventy years. The most recent changes before this (PF) pontificate, which took place under Benedict XVI, seemed designed to impose on the rites a theological meaning which they previously had not so explicitly expressed. As Pope Benedict left the rite, before the singing of Veni Creator Spiritus the Pontiff asked for prayer that Christ the Lord would not permit His Church to err in so great a matter. And, in the Third Petition the Cardinal Prefect for the Causes of Saints informed the Pontiff that the Holy Spirit "in every time renders the supreme Magisterium immune from error (omni tempore supremum Magisterium erroris expertem reddit)".

These phrases, added by Pope Benedict, were in formulae cut out by PF when he canonised a number of beati in 2014; and subsequently.

It looks to me as though Pope Benedict's additions were intended to strengthen the view that acts of canonisation are infallible and require acceptance de fide. I wish now to point out that, if the formulae introduced by Benedict XVI did affect this debated theological question, then, surely, so does the action of this Pontificate in removing them. In the gradual accumulation of evidences and precedents which gradually build up an established judgement of the Magisterium, surely phrases which were introduced into rites by one Pontiff and, very soon afterwards, removed by the next, have less auctoritas than established and immemorial formulae which have been used by successive pontiffs for centuries.

Canonisation raises questions which, for centuries, interested specialist students of Canon Law. They interested the future Pope Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini. However, they have in the past not been things which concerned non-specialists. Ordinary Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, and laity naturally and very properly just accepted the judgements made by the Sovereign Pontiff in this as in so many other matters. But the situation is not the same now. There has been, in some quarters, an uneasy suspicion for some time that canonisations have turned into a way of setting a seal upon the 'policies' of some popes. If these 'policies' are themselves a matter of divisive discussion and debate, then the promotion of the idea that canonisations are infallible becomes itself an additional element in the conflict. Canonisation, you will remind me, does not, theologically, imply approval of everything a Saint has done or said. Not formally, indeed. But the suspicion among some is that, de facto and humanly, such can seem to be its aim. This is confirmed by a prevailing assumption on all sides that the canonisations of the 'Conciliar Popes' does bear some sort of meaning or message.

Personally, I feel more confident in my earlier conclusion, that to dispute the judgement made in and by an act of canonisation would not actually be a sin against fides. In other words, I feel happier with the theological implications of PF's' deletions than I did with the implications of what Pope Benedict added (see above). In practical terms, I feel that PF's excisions from the rite ought to make the canonisation of B Paul VI just that little bit less of a problem for particularly tender consciences, because the act of canonisation does not now come before us weighed down with quite that same degree of Authority with which Pope Benedict had wished it to be endowed. And I would regard the observations I made in the previous part of this series, about schismatic canonisations subsequently adopted within the Catholic Church, as also pointing in the direction of canonisations (at least pro eo) not necessarily being de fide.


A careful reader has drawn my attention to a piece of misinformation of which I am guilty: I asserted that Mass of our Lady of the Rosary can lawfully supersede, this coming Sunday, the Mass of the Sunday per annum in the Ordinary Form. I apologise for this. I should have known better. One gets confused as one gets older. What I had in mind was para 245 of the Institutio of the Liturgy of the Hours. (How odd, incidentally, that the permissions in the Mass and in the Office are not in sync.)

Mind you, in view of the recent comments of PF about keeping October as Rosary Month, I doubt if he would mind if you ...

2 October 2018


As if he has not yet created enough divisions within the Church Militant, PF intends this month to perform the highly divisive act of canonising Blessed Paul VI. Even he, judging from what he said in giving this information to the Clergy of the City, can see that this canonisation business has become a silly giggle: "And Benedict and I are on the waiting list", he quipped. Delightfully humorous. A very witty joke. Very drole, Sovereign Pontiff.

I share the views of many, however, that the joke is a bad one, in as far as this projected canonisation is fundamentally a political action to be linked with the apparent conviction of PF that he himself is the champion and beneficiary of B Paul's work at Vatican II and afterwards. I do not accept that he is. But, today, I do not intend to enable comments which discuss these questions of the prudential order (or comments which simply rant). Because I don't much like it when people comment merely so as to have an opportunity of plugging their own pet opinions, I shall probably not enable comments which show no interest in the fact-based arguments I deploy in what follows.

Because, I have some queries which are genuinely questions with regard to important theological matters antecedent to any imminent canonisations.

My mind really is not made up regarding the Infallibility of an act whereby the Roman Pontiff 'canonises'; and the probably but certainly related question of whether a de fide assent is required.  I assume that everybody with an interest in this subject knows exactly what the Vatican I text of Pastor aeternus said and did not say about Papal infallibility. I have also found it useful to have read parts of Benedict XIV's De Beatificatione et Canonizatione, and Liber 1 Caput LXV really is required reading; it can be found by googling Benedicti papae XIV Doctrina de Servorum Dei beatificatione et ..., and then scrolling down to pages 55-56 (42-43 in the printed book which Google copied). It was written before the election of the erudite and admirable Prospero Lambertini to the See of Rome.


(1) Theologians of distinction can be listed who have taught that Canonisation is an infallible act of the Papal Magisterium. But, with regard to those who wrote before 1870, is there not a prior question that has to be asked? The Church had then not defined (i.e. put limits, 'fines', to) the dogma of Papal Infallibility. The terms of Pastor aeternus were (to the chagrin of Manning and the palpable relief of Newman) extremely limited. Therefore, can we be sure that those pre-1870 theologians really were categorising canonisation as infallible in the sense of the word infallible as defined with all the limitations of the 1870 decrees? Or, because of the limits imposed by that definition, might they have used a different term had they needed to develop their arguments within the confines of what Pastor aeternus lays down? Is this why Benedict XIV accepts the possibility of arguing that what a Roman Pontiff decrees may be infallible, but still not be de fide? It is in logic obvious that a proposition may be true, and may be demonstrably true, without it being incumbent upon anybody to accept that truth. But after 1870, I assume, this is changed as far as ex cathedra papal pronouncements are concerned, because the scope and function of the term infallibilis have been changed to imply and include the notion that a proposition is not merely true but is also of faith.

(2) In assessing the arguments of such pre-1870 writers, should we pay attention to the general extent which they assert when talking about the authority of the Roman Pontiff? That is: if a writer is very generous in his estimate of the fields to which papal infallibility extends, he is unlikely to be writing in terms of something like the highly limited 1870 definition. But if an author is very much more sparing and circumspect in associating infallibility with papal interventions, he is more likely to have in mind a concept of infallibility resembling that of Vatican I.

As a consequence of this, when, later than 1870, we argue that papal canonisations are infallible, we should not claim simpliciter the support of those earlier, pre-1870, theologians, because they are likely to have been using the term in a different sense than that of Pastor aeternus.

(3) And there is another question raised by the Definition and Practice of Papal infallibility which the pontificate of B Pius IX bequeathed us. It implies an assumption that the Roman Pontiff is acting with the morally unanimous, collegial, assent of the whole ecclesia docens. I know that, for some traditionalists, Collegiality is a dirty word; but B Pius IX and Pius XII wrote to the bishops of the entire world seeking their counsel before defining the two Marian Dogmas ('Is it definable? Is it opportune to define it?') and ... well ... I'm just an ordinary Catholic ... the praxis of those two pontiffs is good enough for me! But do Popes seek the counsel of all their Venerable Brethren before canonising?

(4) Papal infallibilty is nothing but one modality within the infallibility of the Church. So is it rational to assign infallibility to some canonisations - those personally enacted by the Pope - and not to those enacted by a different authority (the oft-quoted Quodlibet IX:16 of S Thomas is not necessarily limited to papal canonisations.)? We know that popes cannot delegate their infallibility. There are the saints on the calendars of sui iuris churches: such as that of the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch (after all, it is arguable that, as a successor of S Peter, this Patriarch is, after the Bishop of Rome himself, the senior prelate of the Catholic Church) which include some who lived outside visible unity with the See of Rome in recent centuries and were canonised by Byzantine synods ... and whose names are certainly not on any Roman 'list'. Incidentally, my recent mention of S Gregory Palamas in this context was intended to establish some preliminary data to the present discussion.

I believe the Ukrainian Church includes Saints canonised up to the time of the Synod of Brest. And the 'two lungs' rhetoric of JP2 implies that, although the Latin Church is de facto very much larger than the Oriental Churches in Full Communion with Rome, theologically these latter are not just almost-irrelevant, tolerated, anomalies. What would a rounded and complete understanding of Canonisation within the Catholic Church have to say about Melkite and Ukrainian praxis? And what would be the bearing of that upon the question of the Infallibility of Canonisation?

(5) Papal infallibilty resides in the papal munus docendi, the ministry of doctrinally binding the whole Church, not part of it: so is there a distinction between those Saints who are by papal authority to have a compulsory cultus in every local Church, and those whose commemoration is confined to some localties; or is optional in the Universal Church? If the sui iuris Churches not of Latin Rite do not promptly include a Latin Saint, when he/she is canonised, on their Calendars, and the Roman Pontiff tolerates this, does this mean that he is not imposing that cult on the Universal Church and thus is not using his Universal munus docendi?

The actual formula of canonisation is in fact merely an order that X be placed on the List* of Saints of the 'ecclesia universalis'. What exactly ... physically ... is this 'list'? And furthermore, Benedict XIV explicitly says that "writing a name down in the Martyrology does not yet bring about formal or equipollent canonisation" (descriptio in martyrologio nondum importat canonizationem formalem, aut aequipollentem). But even if it did, would this mean that the Martyrologium Romanum, theologically and juridically, applies to sui iuris Churches not of the Roman Rite? If it doesn't, does this mean that 'ecclesia universalis', in the context of papal canonisation, really means 'ecclesia Latina universalis' (because, after all, the Latin Church is pretty world-wide)? And if this be true, what then becomes of the observation of Benedict XIV that an act of 'canonisation' which lacks complete preceptive universality is not in the strict sense canonisation? [Are there other loose ends arising from the fact that Roman documents seem quite often to sound as though they are majestically addressing the whole Church, but, when you get down to it, are really pretty obviously addressing the Latin Church (Sacrosanctum Concilium is an example of that)?]

(6) Finally: S Thomas held that canonisation was medium inter res fidei, et particulares; and Benedict XIV concludes his discussion of this matter by saying that plures magni nominis auctores deny that an act of canonisation is de fide; he gives a fair wind to their arguments; then summarises the arguments of those, inferioris notae doctores, who affirm that it is de fide; concludes by saying Utraque opinio in sua probabilitate relinquenda videtur, donec Sedes Apostolica de hac re judicium proferat. Benedict XIV went on to give his own private opinion as favouring the positive thesis (canonisations are of faith), but added "But before a judgement of the Apostolic See, it does not seem that the mark of heresy should be branded onto the contrary opinion."

In 1998, the motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem of B John Paul II was accompanied by a Commentary written by the CDF and signed by its august Cardinal Prefect. Paragraph 6 of this, combined with paragraphs 8 and 11, appears to lead to the conclusion that canonisations are to be given the same "full and irrevocable assent" as that required by the Creeds and the doctrinal definitions of Ecumenical Councils and of Roman Pontiffs speaking ex cathedra. Have I understood this correctly? But can such a dicasterial 'Commentary' be deemed to be that "judgement of the Apostolic See" which was required by Benedict XIV in order to settle this question?


To be frank with you, I am more impressed by writers who merely call the public rejection of a papal act of canonisation 'temerarious', than I am by those who invoke the I-word. The I-word surely means, from 1870 onwards, that, as a matter of divine Faith, one must accept something in ones heart. Use of temerarious (Suarez; Benedict XIV) means (I take it) that a public rejection is rash and unsafe and that, accordingly, one should refrain from disturbing the peace of the believing community by publicly attacking an authoritative inclusion of a person on the List* of Saints; and, furthermore, that one should preserve an interior awareness of ones own fallibility (after all, someone has to decide whether X goes into ... or does not go into ... the canon, and the decision is certainly way above my pay grade). Can anyone claim to be certain that Pope X is not in heaven interceding before the Throne of Grace?

Finally: I have a prejudice against potentially causing people problems of conscience by telling them that something is of divine Faith when (even if "just possibly") it might not be. After all, a lex dubia does not bind. And it potentially damages the authority of the Roman Pontiff to be rash in spraying the I-word too liberally around ... a point which poor Manning never grasped.

There is further Magisterial evidence to be considered, which comes from this present pontificate, before I will enable comments. 
*List: canon in Greek; catalogus in Latin (if you see what I mean!)

1 October 2018

Cardinal Cormac and Kieran Conry

So a solitary accusation of abuse has been made by one person, a long time later than the alleged event, and made when Cormac is dead and cannot defend himself.

It would be irresponsible to regard such an accusation with anything other than the most immense reserve.

The independant British Commission on the sexual abuse of children will doubtless subject the Catholic Church to the same close scrutiny as it will the BBC and already has the Church of England. And, goodness me, what a hammering it has given my own old diocese of Chichester. I continue to wonder why the Media have so little interest in publicising Anglican sexual abuse compared with their obsessive concentration on the failings of Catholic clerics in this area.

But the abuse of children is not the only sexual activity Catholic clerics ... and all Catholics ... are supposed to avoid. Nor is homosexual activity the only form of sexual deviance. Adultery does, after all, get its own dishonourable mention in the Decalogue, and British and Irish Bishops have a dodgy record here. Casey of Kerry and Galway was followed by Wright of Argyle and the Isles and Conry of Arundel and Brighton.

I regard Adultery as a major form of sexual abuse of the young. This is because of my professional experience of the disastrous effects marital infidelity and break-up can have upon the young.

Questions have never been addressed about who knew what and when concerning Bishop Kieran Conry's life-style.

I hope that the furore about the abuse of children will not continue to obscure the need for honest disclosure about the extent of Murphy O'Connor's knowledge, at the time of Conry's Consecration, of what Conry was getting up to.