30 September 2019

Pope Philogynes the First

This follows on from the Bloody Question post.
"Right. Fair enough. Let's consider your question about what I shall have to do when the next pope but two admits women to Holy Orders. Let's call him Pope Philogynes I.

"Let me first set the scene a trifle more generously for you ... and fill in just one or two tiny gaps in your very interesting scenario. At the moment, it has been authoritatively settled by the Magisterium of the Church that women cannot receive Holy Order. This has been asserted infallibly. When John Paul II issued Ordinatio sacerdotalis it was made clear that this, while not an ex cathedra pronouncement, was infallible by virtue of being an expression of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church ... which is infallible. Now ... yes yes, OK ... I take your point that Philogynes could simply declare that OS was not part of the Ordinary Magisterium; and then proceed to relativise it, explaining that, while it was thoroughly right and good when it was issued, a new context now offered a broader background against which to reassess its binding force. Yup. Nice one.

"But remember what happened after Vatican II, which was self-described as not being a doctrinal Council. Non-dogmatic ecumenical councils are so structurally insignificant in the Church's history that the transactions of some of them have sunk without trace. Yet the liturgical consequences of this (sub specie aeternitatis) extremely minor ecumenical council, Vatican II, caused a schism. This occurred even though those remodeling the Church's worship went far beyond the actual conciliar mandate. And its teaching on Religious Freedom reinforced this schism, even though the conciliar teaching on this point, prima facie in contradiction to that of the earlier Magisterium, was not imposed de fide - because Vatican II was not in the business of de fide anathemas.

"A persistent schism - albeit comparatively small - which could, and did, arise from such - comparatively - slight causes makes clear what a complete melt-down would incontrovertibly ensue if Philogynes attempted to change a ruling which had once had the I-word, the dread incantation of Infallibility, pronounced over it. The schisms which even happen in the friendly fudge-it-if-you-can fields of Anglicanism, where the I-word can't be invoked, would be but a summer shower in an August drought compared with what would happen in the RC Church.

"Remember also the theological debates about the status of a pope who formally falls into heresy. There can be no doubt that this question would come to the forefront if Philogynes cancelled an enactment which some of his predecessors had declared - however questionably - to have infallible force. We can be sure that dissident Cardinals would gather and elect a 'successor' ... John Paul III, perhaps. Remember also what happened when Urban VI's cardinals, cheesed off at having been bullied into electing him in the first place and even more unimpressed by his habit of torturing cardinals to death - matters which, in dogmatic and Magisterial terms, are pretty small beer - held a new conclave and made a new election*. We ended up with two ... and eventually three ...  rival claimants to the Throne of Peter; and the Great Schism of the West.

"That schism had comparatively little effect upon the local individual Catholic because the question of which pope he was in communion with was largely decided above his head on grounds of national politics. In the modern context, every individual Catholic would have to decide which claimant was the real pope. What's that? A Council? Vatican III? OK, but remember that there have been 'ecumenical councils' which have subsequently been redefined as Robber Synods. Each 'pope' might hold his own Council, with anathemas galore flying around.

"In these circumstances, I would be in the same distressing position as every other individual Catholic.

"It would be a very nasty situation, but I suppose I would have no option but to make some decision. I suspect it might be for John Paul III and thus for Continuity.

"Frankly, I very much doubt the likelihood of such a scenario, which is why I wasn't very keen to answer your question in the first place. Even the most 'liberal' RC bishops would tend, I'm pretty sure, to discover in their DNA an instinct for keeping the Institution together, which would compel them to draw back from the brink. But it would certainly be a wonderful time for journalists, and I can understand why you are so anxiously hoping for it."


*E L Mascall once observed that it had never been authoritatively decided by a fully magisterial pronouncement which 'line' was the genuine one (although there was a broad de facto consensus that Urban, though murderous, was pope). Indeed, I would add that in 1492 Papa Borgia called himself Alexander VI, which implied that he included in his computation the Pisan 'Antipope' Alexander V, Papa Philargus. And Mascall added that holy people on each side of the schism were subsequently accepted as Saints of the Universal Church. In a sense, the Great Schism of the West has even now still not quite been laid to rest.

29 September 2019

A futuristic "Bloody Question"

The Bloody Question, so I recall, was put when Elizabeth Tudor's interrogators asked: "If a papist army invaded this realm, would you fight for the Queen or the invaders?". Bloody, because it puts you on the horns of a very painful dilemma: "the Queen" means you would be fighting against coreligionists; "the invaders" means you are a self-confessed traitor.

Back in the 1990s, people who had trouble accepting the women-priests dogma and who sought communion with the Holy See tended to get asked: "But what will you do if Rome herself changes her mind?" If the answer was "I will follow Rome", then the come-back is available that "If you're happy enough to change your mind when Rome changes, why are you making such a fuss? Why not wait and see if Rome does change?" Alternatives, such as "I'll join the Orthodox*" meant that one is confessing to being Protestantissimus; one is not accepting the Church's Magisterium, but testing the Church by one's own Magisterium. Whether one selected Orthodoxy or Cathiolicism should depend upon a more profound discernrnment than the ecclesiatical controversies of the moment ... and, after the discernment, one should enact that decision and accept the package.

Politicians have more sense that to get into discussions with journalists about possible contingencies. They are wise. Since contingencies, some probable, others improbable, are literally, logically endless; following the interviewer down this path means that, sooner or later, he will succeed in making a fool of you.

What I think one can do is to throw oneself into the contingency game as a willing player, rather than leaving the richly dangerous quagmire of Contingency-land in the exclusive possession of the enemy.
Example will follow.

28 September 2019

An Abrahamic House!

Splendid news! With, it is hinted, Vatican approval, an Abrahamic House is to be created in Abu Dabi, containing a Synagogue, a Church, and a Mosque.

There is perhaps, from the pedantic point of view, something slightly lopsided about this project. Since Sacrifice came early in the 'Abrahamic' tradition, you might have thought that a Hebrew Temple would need to feature largely. After all, Judaism did not become a 'synagogue' religion until after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70. So what about Abrahamic sacrifices? Where will they be offered?

However, I do not wish to dwell upon this problem. I thought I would simply remind readers that this lovely idea ... technically known as Syncretism ... goes back a long way. S Bede records that Reduald, King of East Anglia, having been nagged a bit by his gloriously Ecumenical wife, created a very open-minded religious complex (fanum). In it, there was an altare ad sacrificium Christi. But it also contained an arula for the victimae, the sacrificial animals of the daemoniorum.  'Daemoniorum' undobtedly refers to the divinities of Anglo-Saxon paganism.

Arula is a jolly word. It is the diminutive of ara, an altar. But in Latin, diminutives indicate either smallness; or affection; or contempt. Given S Bede's depressingly blinkered religious outlook, I have no doubt that he meant it as a contemptuous reference to the sacrificial stones of heathendom.

I wonder if King Reduald provided a single Presbytery for the Christian and the pagan clergy both to inhabit. There could have been a rota just inside the door, indicating for each day who was to say the Mass at the Christ Altar and who was to slaughter the animals at the arula of Frigga.

Or did they concelebrate?

27 September 2019

Credal Window

We have had a look in Haddenham church, just across the county border in Buckinghamshire. As in so many English churches, there were clearly substantial survivals there of medieval glass; destruction by sixteenth century reformers, and Puritan vandalism, undoubtedly happened, but affected quite a small part of England. As far as the South West is concerned, Symonds' diaries, and Milles' notes, indicate how much medieval glass survived (respectively) in the 1640s and the 1740s. The Georgians did have a bit of a passion for plain glass; but my instinct is that most of what has since been lost simply fell victim to decay and lack of interest. Around Oxford, for example, the recusant squire of Milton Manor in the 1760s was able to collect, and insert in the 'Strawberry Hill' chapel which was part of his house, quite a bit of mediaeval glass from local churches ... clearly, they were quite willing to let it go! Perhaps he gave them some lovely plain glass in lieu? An 'Alderman Fletcher', who became interested in such survivals, was able to collect a vast amount of glass, much of it of fine quality, in the 1820s. Some superb panels of the martyrdom of S Thomas left his collection for the windows at the end of Duke Humphrey; the residue he donated to Yarnton church just north of this City, where it can still be enjoyed.

What survived in many churches until the later nineteenth century tended to be gathered together by the church restorers into one or two windows, often consisting of unrelated quarries juxtaposed in patterns. At Haddenham, one window apparently contains a couple of figures of Apostles ... and a considerable amount of writing. The disjecta membra of the Apostles' Creed can easily be discerned.

Thirteen or fourteen years ago, in Brittany (I can't remember where; somewhere near Pontrieux), I came across a perfectly preserved late medieval window showing each of the Apostles with that clause of the Creed which, tradition held, he had contributed. Clearly, just such a window once existed at Haddenham.

26 September 2019

The Oxford Hotten Tots

I find it a particular pleasure to sit on Oxford buses and listen to young females chattering. There are of course the intermittent well-nigh orgasmic shrieks of Omigoddery; but what I like best is the beautifully honed narrative style wherein the syllable like is interpolated every two or three words. I believe the Hottentot language, also, advances by means of just such repeated clicking sounds; so on an Oxford Number 35 bus, I can close my eyes and imagine myself miles away from the res publica litterarum and on the broad, generous havannas of South West Africa listening to the unspoiled indigenous peoples clicking cheerfully away as if Rousseau still lives and there is no tomorrow.

In his Barchester Pilgrimage, signed off by Mgr Ronald Knox on the Feast of S Ewold 1935, the right reverend Protonotary Apostolic records his aged source Mr Bunce as claiming that it was from the 1890s that "folks began to go frivolous like". Knox observes "The truth of the matter is ... that Mr Bunce began to go forty like; after which age ... [people] notice that the young ... have begun to go frivolous like."

I wonder when this delicious Hotten Tottery, this clicking away with unending likes, first began. And where ... surely not among the ancient bedesmen of Hiram's Hospital in Barchester?

25 September 2019

Today is the Year's Mind of Prebendary Michael Moreton

So how did I come to know Michael Moreton? When I retired from teaching, I succumbed to the entreaties of 'JR', Bishop John Richards, to accept a part-time post ('House for Duty') in the Anglican Diocese of Exeter, in the same village to which he had himself retired. John had been an Archdeacon in that same diocese, before being consecrated first Bishop of Ebbsfleet with a remit to look after 'Traditionalist' parishes; that is, parishes which "were as yet unable to accept the ministry" of "women priests". With characteristic missionary energy, JR soon put together a collection of nearly a hundred parishes.

Having moved into the Rectory a hundred yards from JR's retirement home, I found myself soon being taken along to a learned clerical group called the Society of S Boniface. After lunch, we listened to one of our number reading a paper, and then discussed it. But the leading light was Prebendary [in the diocese of Exeter, honorary canons were known as Prebendaries] Michael Moreton. He, before lunch, led us in study of a passage in the Greek New Testament.

This came at a time when I myself had completely lost my faith ... my faith, that is, in the whole ridiculous creaky irrational superstitious pseudo-subect calling itself Modern New Testament Studies. But Michael still accepted many of its quaint old dogmas, such as Q, and regaled us with the opinions of 'scholars' to whom, I am sorry to confess, I sometimes referred with dismissive irreverence as "Dead Germans".

But in Liturgy, Father Michael was as sound as it is possible to be. He regarded the Canon of the Mass, the 'Roman Canon', as part of the Apostolic inheritance committed to which the Church had emerged from the Apostolic period: an inheritance including, of course the Scriptures and their Canon; the Creeds; the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. Michael refused to use any other 'Eucharistic Prayer'.

He was dead right about this. His strong conviction, which I imbibed from him, is a truth which the whole Latin Church sorely needs today. Happily, the the liturgy of the Ordinariates bears firm witness to the centrality, the normativeness, of that Great Prayer.

Michael was perhaps the last survivor of a notable and erudite group of Anglican liturgists who bore strong witness to the Roman Canon. Dom Gregory Dix concluded his monumental mystagogia, The Shape of the Liturgy, with the words "This very morning I did this with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed  Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it." At the popularising level, there was Hugh Ross Williamson, whose commentary on the Canon was reprinted not long ago by Gracewing. And there was the meticulous schoarship of Craddock Radcliffe ... and Dr G G Willis, who kept up a murderously acerbic commentary on the crass new 'Eucharistic Prayers' which began to emerge in the 1960s from nasty little committee rooms in Rome and Lambeth.

May all these great men, with Michael, rest in peace. The Ordinariates render incarnate their learning and their devotion to the Great Prayer of the Western Church.

The Roman Canon is right at the heart of our Patrimony.

23 September 2019

Communion from the tabernacle?

IGMR (editio tertia) para 85, citing documents of 1967 and 1973, describes it as valde optandum that the faithful should be communicated with hosts consecrated in the same Mass. The same hope had already been expressed by Pius XII in Mediator Dei (see footnotes below). As far as my experience goes, this 'hope' is widely disregarded, both in the more traditionalist churches and in extremely untraditionalist Catholic churches, for reasons of manifest plain practical convenience; by communicating the laity from the Tabernacle, one avoids having to guess at the number of communicants present; a priest does not have to stand at the altar before the ablutions chewing away at what Anglicans used to call the Remains of the Eucharist; he does not have to 'renew' the Reserved Sacrament regularly because the regular use each Sunday of what was not consumed the previous Sunday does this automatically [except with regard to the Benediction Host]. But how sustainable theologically is the valde optandum in itself?

"So that, through signs, Communion may better appear a participation of the Sacrifice which is actually being celebrated". Thus I literally translate the IGMR explanation. I certainly have no hang-ups with this recommendation. I actually myself rather prefer to communicate the people without recourse to the Tabernacle. I have always found it a bit of a bother to have to shift the Altar Card and unlock the tabernacle with my thumb and forefinger conjoined (and I'm often in a strange church and the Tabernacle lock and key don't quite work as I expect them to). But I am unsure how much water the official explanation actually does hold. I would take as my starting point the principle that "the Sacrifice actually being celebrated" is not so much the Sacrifice of Fr X and the good people who have walked or driven to his church on that particular morning, as it is the One Sacrifice of Calvary; what those of us who are proud of our Anglican Patrimony instinctively think of as the Lord's One Oblation of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfaction: Christ's offering made sacramentally present upon our Altar. Each Mass is Calvary; there are neither two Calvaries nor many Calvaries.

I have a nagging suspicion that the modern valde optandum is part and parcel of the same sociological and anti-transcendent misunderstanding of the Eucharist fostered by and expressed in a desire for exclusively versus populum celebration. As Cardinal Ratzinger warned us, there is the danger of the inward-looking circle finding its own completion and fulness in its own activity rather than in the Lord who comes from beyond. There may in modern Liturgy be a subconscious fear of whatever does not come, self-generated, from within the Circle. There could even be the horrible superstition of laypeople being led to think that they ought to receive a host which they themselves had 'helped' to consecrate.

To be communicated from the Tabernacle with a host consecrated at a previous Mass reminds one that every Mass is the One Mass; that, as that great Separated Doctor of Catholic Truth (Fr Aidan Nichols' phrase), Eric 'Patrimony' Mascall, put it, a plurality of Masses is "the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of different things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing ... the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the Sacrament of his body and blood."

The ancient tradition of our Roman and Catholic Church does indeed encourage us to look beyond the closed circle of those gathered here and at this moment. When domnus papa sent the fermentum, the consecrated Host from his own Mass, to be mingled with the Masses of his presbyters in the outlying Roman churches as a sign of their unity with him, the separated congregations were thereby urged to look beyond their own closed circles. Furthermore, the Pope himself, as he approached the Altar at the start of his own Mass, was shown an opened capsa containing a consecrated particle from a previous Mass, which he adored. After the Pax he placed this particle in the chalice. (To this extent, Archimandrite Taft did not quite tell the whole truth when he claimed that " ... communion during Mass from hosts already consecrated at a previous Eucharist was totally unthinkable in the early Christian East and West".) Jungmann rightly explains: "In this way the continuous unity of the eucharistic sacrifice was expressed - the same Mass yesterday and today". The mingling, with our oblata, of hosts consecrated in other places or at other times, can be a powerful manifestation of the diachronic and synchronic identity of 'our' Mass with all the 'other' Masses which are being celebrated elsewhere and were celebrated at other times. For all those 'other' Masses, together with 'ours', are truly but the one Oblatio Domini.

We clergy should give appropriate respect to a recommendation of Ven Pius XII and of the IGMR when we are celebrating the Holy Mysteries. But a Catholic is not forbidden to argue that its rationale represents a dated and thoroughly unhelpful piece of thinking, which is likely to give layfolk the wrong end of more than one stick. After all, if liturgists in the pre-Conciliar period had never asked questions about the ruling praxis of their own day, there would have been no changes made in the 1960s! The heirs and admirers of those who then set aside the Liturgy of centuries are hardly well-positioned to assert that what was put in its place is beyond discussion!
Footnotes: (1) When Pius XII cited (CTS translation of Mediator Dei para 126) the Bull Certiores effecti of Benedict XIV (13 November 1742; Magnum Bullarium Romanum 1752 Luxemburg edition pars decima pp 117-8) he misrepresented that Pontiff. Benedict is there dealing with a controversy "de obligatione, qua sacerdotes Missas celebrantes adstringantur Eucharistiam ministrare intra easdem fidelibus iis, qui ad ipsam accipiendam paratos se exhibent, ac petunt sacrificii, cui adstant, participes fieri"; that is, he is dealing with the desire of the faithful to receive Communion within the Mass itself and not at some other time from the reserved sacrament. Benedict is not dealing with some convenient pastoral habit by which a tabernacle is kept charged with full ciboria for the convenient and frequent communion of large numbers. I doubt (think about it!) if that habit was common two centuries before S Pius X made frequent Communion the general practice.
(2) The CTS English translation of Mediator Dei by a Mgr G D Smith contains a curious omission of three words quoted by Pius XII from Benedict XIV: " ... quamvis de eodem sacrificio participent, praeter eos quibus a Sacerdote celebrante tribuitur in ipsa Missa portio victimae a se oblatae, ii etiam, quibus Sacerdos Eucharistiam reservari solitam ministrat ...". Perhaps (subconsciously?) realising that the words in ipsa Missa in fact subvert the sense which Pius XII is erroneously attributing to Benedict XIV, Smith left them out of his translation.
(3) The words "de eodem sacrificio participent" in the passage I quote from Benedict XIV in the previous footnote in fact support the point I make in the second and fourth paragraphs of my main article. Whether the Host you receive was consecrated at that Mass, or was reserved at a previous Mass, you still receive "from the same Sacrifice".
Revised with the help of readers from a much earlier draft.

22 September 2019

Next Tuesday ...

Are you preparing to celebrate, on September 24, the Solemnity of our Lady of Walsingham? It is, of course, in the English Ordinariate a Solemnity (in £.s.d., "Double of the First Class") and, in the other two Ordinariates, a Festum.

Readers might be interested in the provenance of the Propers for this celebration, as found in the Ordinariate ('Divine Worship') Missal.

Mary's home at Nazareth is a symbol both of Incarnation and of the sanctity of simple family life. The Propers of this festival started life as the Propers of the Shrine of the Holy House at Loretto in Italy, where the House is encased in baroque finery; but, of course, for those of the Anglican Patrimony the first resonance will be  the restored Anglican Holy House at Walsingham, where the architecture and ambience still speak of the joyfully optimistic Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s (and its fine aesthetic tastes). In the Ordinariate, we have not lost our affection for this shrine; so the Mass authorised in our Missal for our Lady of Walsingham is a close translation of the lovely old Mass of the Holy House at Loretto (authorised pro aliquibus locis by Innocent XII, 1691-1700), which Fr Fynes Clinton adapted for use at Walsingham by simply omitting the phrase in the Collect about a miraculous Translation!! Themes in this exquisite and immensely Biblical and Typological Mass are: Mary; the House of God; the House of Wisdom.

Sadly, the Anglican shrine gave up the use of this Mass during the disorders of the post-Concilar period and now uses formulae reminiscent of the style favoured by ICEL in its dreariest days. We in the Ordinariate are faithful old bodies ... we don't just dump our Anglo-Catholic Patrimony!

TECHNICAL NOTES FOR CLERGY: (1) The Mass in the Ordinariate Missal gives altermatives at a number of places. If you desire (I hope you do) to use the formulae authorised by Innoocent XII and recycled by Fr Fynes Clinton, select the first alternative in each case.
(2) The Appendix pro aliquibus locis in the 1962 Missal does not contain this Mass. You will need to resort to earlier editions of the Roman Missal. You need only turn to December 10 and delete the phrase eamque in sinu Ecclesiae tuae mirabiliter collocasti  from the Collect.

Those who wish to say a Votive in Eastertide will need to know that the Easter Alleluia is Alleluia, Alleluia. Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be alway praising Thee. Alleliuia. For one day in thy courts: is better than a thousand. Alleluia. 

There was a (now lost) Holy House at Glastonbury, where the void now reminds one of the void that lies at the heart of Protestantism, Liberalism, Relativism, and Iconoclasm. I have a private suspicion that these English medieval Holy Houses might have had their origins in First Millennium wooden or turf Oratories which survived because they were already venerated for their immemorial antiquity half a millennium before the Norman Conquest and its ambitious passion for rebuilding.

21 September 2019

The Fellowship of prayer

There are some very attractive and simple little prayer cards going round; they show the Hearts of our Saviour (surmounted by a cross and surrounded by the Crown of Thorns); of his immaculate Mother (pierced by a sword and wreathed in roses); and of his Fosterfather (with a lily). This design is from a fresco in the Private Chapel of His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, a small representation of whose seal is at the bottom.

The text:
Cor Iesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.
Cor Mariae Immaculatum, iter para tutum.
Cor Ioseph Castissimum, iter serva tutum.

The translations printed are:
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, make safe our way. Purest Heart of Joseph, keep safe our way.

(In the more expansive 'Cranmerian' liturgical dialect we use in the Anglophone Ordinariates, one might render:
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, prepare for us a safe journey. Most Chaste Heart of Joseph, keep our journey safe.)

(The second and third invocations would each acquire a partial indulgence: Encheiridion 17:2:3 and 19.)

20 September 2019

Newman's sexuality

There is, I fear, more than a risk that the ill-disposed will take advantage of the canonisation of Blessed John Henry to try to conscript him posthumously into the homosexualist cause. A surviving letter from the teenage Newman referring to 'temptations' from girls at parties is enough to put paid to such offensive nonsense.

I think it was Henry Chadwick who once dropped the hint that anybody genuinely interested in the sexuality of Blessed John Henry Newman should have a look at his relationship with Maria Giberne. There is certainly evidence in his letters that Newman regarded the love which St John had for him, and that of Maria, as of the same nature; and felt the same response to the affection of each. He records his deep sorrow that he had never disclosed to St John before his death his appreciation for St John's devotion to him: which proves that not only was the relationship not physically intimate; it was not even emotionally intimate. Newman, that is, was too shy even to say to his closest friend  ...

There is a long history in the Christian tradition of thinking about such friendships. S Aelred wrote about them. Byzantine sources, notoriously, provided liturgical rites for sanctifying such friendships, which even included rituals borrowed from the liturgies of matrimony. Notoriously, these analogues have been used to support 'gay marriage'. But in an age when legal codes commonly provided severe penalties, not excluding death, for sodomy, the assumption enthusiastically made, that those composing and celebrating such rites were cheerfully and consciously providing publicly sanctified occasions for genital relationships, is nothing less than plain dippy.

A person who could believe that, could believe anything; there is probably little point in reasoning with people who have stationed themselves so far apart from the world of reality and from what is historically probable.

But the question of Friendship does require re-examination simply because it is a part of our Tradition which is suffering something of an eclipse.

19 September 2019


I would commend to readers' consideration of a recent interview with the 'new' Superior of the SSPX, Fr Pagliarani, on the state of the Church Militant. He traces .... I think with accuracy ... the fact that our current problems come down to us from even before that fateful moment when the Rhine flowed into the Tiber.

You may well think that those polluted waters are now infecting the Amazon. I could not possibly comment! And perhaps we had better keep the River Plate out of all this!

It must be remembered to his credit that the previous Superior, Bishop Fellay, was anxious to sign the Filial Correction. So that makes two SSPX Superiors in rapid succession bearing witness against the malaise within the Church Militant.
Regular readers will be aware of my feeling that there is more than one way of skinning a cat. The SSPX, inevitably and very properly, refers to the Magisterium of the pre-Conciliar popes. Indeed: who, except self-condemned heretics, dare to say that the teaching of the popes from Pius IX to Pius XI now lacks any part of the Church's authority? Others extricate from the Council and the post-Conciliar pontiffs what bears strongest testimony to the quod traditum est. After all, who dare to deny that the declaration of Benedict XVI, that the Mass of Ages had never lawfully been abrogated, and could never be abrogated, bears the authentic tones of the Petrine Magisterium?

One thing I am absolutely sure about in this current crisis: we must not fall out with each other. Internal squabbles "within Tradition" will not serve the purpose which we all share.

Personally, I welcome Father's interview. It would be a tragedy if the SSPX were to be regarded as merely a tolerated liturgical museum. That is not at all what its great Founder had in mind. And I am glad that a new voice is being added to the few which have bravely spoken out against the currently dominant Bergoglianism. I hope the interview will be read and absorbed by those who have not in the past instinctively drawn upon the witness of Marcel Lefebvre and his foundation. We need by God's grace the ability to listen.

And if there are critics of Fr Pagliarani, I think it would be good for them to pause and to count up the number of Cardinals and Bishops and Superiors who have been willing to get their heads above the parapet. That is where the truest scandal lies. Vatican II inflated the culture of Episcopacy ... and, now that the Afflicted Church cries out for the strong 'collegial' witness of these "Apostolic Men", where are they?

So collegially quiet, my Lords? Why?

18 September 2019

The Anglican Patrimony

What is that Anglican Patrimony which we are supposed to have brought into the Ordinariates? I feel that it must be more than just a few little liturgical goodies, favourable though I am to the BCP structure of the Divine Office and to the Anglican Use Eucharistic Rite, with its BCP and English Missal components. And to the translations made by John Mason Neale of Patristic hymnody.

Some five years ago, when I was putting together my annual paper for the Gardone Riviera Conference, I resolved to talk about 'Modern Biblical Scholarship', that tired old construct of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I decided to formulate my critique exclusively through the insights of writers who were Anglicans or who, if they became Catholics, had been Anglicans when they wrote. I gathered together R A Knox, C S Lewis, Dorothy L Sayers, E L Mascall. (I think I also mentioned Austin Farrer and Abbot Butler; and that towering champion of Catholic Truth E B Pusey and some of his contemporaries.) I found in these writers a coherent critique, although I discern no links of indebtedness between them. They wrote, not as members of the cosy self-referencing and self-affirming club of European or North American Protestant "Biblical Scholars", but as people trained in literary criticism (in Mascall's case, also in Mathematics and Logic!) who brought their own rather different skills to the task of exposing the non-existence of the Emperor's Clothes, aka "the assured results of modern scholarship". "That", I triumphantly concluded my talk, "is the contribution which the Ordinariate is called by God to make".

By a happy coincidence (although S John Paul pointed out that with God there are no coincidences) these insights are exactly what the Church Militant needs at this particular moment in its sad passion.

This similar methodology could be extracted from Dix, Jalland and Mascall for expounding the Petrine Ministry; from Dix, Ratcliff, Willis, Moreton for critiquing "Modern Liturgical Scholarship". I have written before about the wise sentiments of Bishop Gore in his cruel, incisive paper on the question of Contraception. In so many cases, the Anglican input would have the result of questioning assumptions which some more recent "Catholic" "Scholarship" has gullibly borrowed from necrophiliac Protestant Modernism. Such an 'Anglican' input would make a valuable contribution to vindicating a Hermeneutic of Continuity; to insisting that the documents of Vatican II must be understood, and understood only, in reference to and in subjection to the teaching of the Church's Magisterium over the two preceding millennia. Its value would rest partly on the sheer intellectual distinction of such writers as I have mentioned, but also on the fact that they wrote at times when a Catholic, advancing the same arguments they were advancing, would have had to listen to the accusation "Ah, but you have to say that because you're a Roman Catholic".

I think the most succinct summary I know of what the Anglican Patrimony must mean is in a phrase which Cardinal Manning used ... I'm afraid ... in condemnation of Blessed John Henry Newman."I see much danger of an English Catholicism of which Newman is the highest type. It is the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone transplanted into the Church"*. Exactly. That is precisely what we are, and what we have brought into the Church packed into our luggage. I pray that we may be able to make our own powerful contribution to the essential reconstruction of a Catholic Church which has been so weakened, and much of its life so corrupted, by the heterodoxies and heteropraxies of the last half-century.
*Gary Bennett, in his 1987 Crockford's Preface, saw our distinctiveness in "the conservative theological tradition of the English universities with their strong links with the Church of England. Even into the mid-twentieth century it was received opinion among continental Protestant theologians that Anglican academics lived in a world of their own and set up a firm resistance to the kind of biblical criticism which was commonplace in European theological faculties. English scholars tended to do their theology through a study of church history and it was hard to deny that most of their work was done within the usual Anglican assumptions about the authority of Scripture and the normative character of patristic usage". Indeed. Knox and Lewis made the same sort of dismissive remarks about 'German Scholarship' that Pusey had made half a century or more before.

17 September 2019

A splendid day ...

... with Cardinal Burke. He eloquently presented the document Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time, signed by himself and four other bishops.

As those who have already studied it will know, this is a most important document. It begins with a ringing affirmation of the phrase eodem sensu eademque sententia. These words not only occur in the Decree Dei Filius of Vatican I; they have appeared also in the more recent Magisterium, and go back, through S Vincent of Lerins, to S Paul.

I wrote a number of pieces tracing its history in October 2017.

Mendacious spirits may use the imminent canonisation as an opportunity to claim S John Henry Newman as an advocate of the idea that "Development" can convert lead into gold; error into truth; X into nonX. We need this ringing endorsement of the principle that any presentation of the Faith must rest upon what has in the past been taught with authority, and must have

the same sense and the same meaning.

Captions and Metamorphosis

In the Ashmolean Museum, before its expensive and unneccesary makeover a decade ago, there was a bit of an old Greek figurative pot, captioned "Man courting boy". The scene in fact was that for which the late Professor Sir Kenneth Dover coined his sweetly twee expression "Intercrural intercourse".

After the makeover, this became "Paedophile and victim". Many of us complained about such culturally anachronistic language; either we got a brush-off or not even the courtesy of a reply. Then Mr Orator Jenkyns, at the 2010 Encaenia, had the entire (attendant) University rolling in the aisles (aisles in the Sheldonian Theatre? Let that pass ...) after he made a joke about it in his Creweian Oration. I only wish I'd jotted the joke down at the time. If anybody ... ... Might that Creweian have been published in the Gazette?

Later in 2010, I cast another eye at the now celebrated pot. The caption had again changed: it now read "Man and Boy making love. The nature of Greek homosexuality is the subject of current academic debate".

Clearly, a 'holding' operation!

Recently, I had a new look at the captioning concerned. It now reads: "Sexual acts between an older man and a boy were considered part of a youth's formative education".

Hrrrmff. I'm not sure how universal this was. My instinct is that it may have been an affectation among the upper (symposiast) classes.

I'm not sure that such things were really much more than an affectation, even in the case of Oscar!

16 September 2019

A Silver Occasion?

Tomorrow, Tuesday, I shall be off ... Deo volente et trenis* permittentibus ... to hear the Mighty and most Eminent Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke addressing the English Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, at the Brompton Oratory.

A man who truly merits the ancient Christian technical term of Confessor. Entirely and confidentially just between ourselves, I think of him as Leo XIV.

It occurs to me that 6 January 2020 will be twenty five years since his Eminence was consecrated Bishop, and embarked upon an Apostolic career which has been so timely, so necessary, and so fruitful in the life of the Catholic Church. (Incidentally: Cardinal Burke's episcopal 'pedigree' includes Prospero Lambertini, aka Benedict XIV; and Henry Cardinal Stuart, quondam Duke of York, aka Henry IX, King de jure of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland.)

Comes the time, comes the man! Behold the man!

Eis polla ete, Despota! Ad multos annos, plurimosque annos!


*Well, 'hamaxostichis', according to the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis. But I prefer the more linguistically and philologically relaxed process of adopting the modern Italian term. Recondite coinages from the Greek seem to me to smell rather of the Bibliotheca. And in daily use, I rather suspect that a cumbersome five-syllable word would, in any real language, get abbreviated or adapted very quickly. You travel on a hamaxostichus if you like; I'll catch the treno. If the omnibus (the pasi?)  gets me to the station on time ...

15 September 2019

We need a Novena ...

Today, September 15, Feast of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, is a good day to start a Novena leading up to the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham, on Tuesday 24 September.

Nine days of prayer, that the intercession of the Mother of God might bring succour to the Ecclesia adflicta of her divine Son. Has the Church, in your lifetime, ever needed this more than it does today?

And I would like to put in a word for the use, during this Novena, of the old Litany of our Lady of Loretto, rather than of something ... anything ... more 'up-to-date' which may be suggested.

I have two reasons for making this point.
(1) The theology of the Shrine at Walsingham is the same as that of Loretto: namely, that the House in which the Holy Family lived and worked is a potent image of the Incarnation! God truly became, and  is, Man.
(2) This Litany is one which was used since the earliest days of the Restoration of devotion to our Lady at Walsingham. It is contained in the first Pilgrims' Manual, that of 1928. By using it, we link ourselves with Fr Hope Patten, Fr Fynes Clinton, and all the heroes, lay and clerical, male and female, to whom we owe the modern form of this devotion within our Anglican Patrimony.

I am not willingly negative; indeed, I would not deny the propriety of a rich diversity of approaches to Marian devotion. I don't regard it as my job to criticise others and to disparage their own initiatives and to snarl at anybody who does things differently from the exact way I would do them myself. Nor would I sneer at all 'modern' devotions. But I do feel cautious about (ex.gr.) dropping "Tower of Ivory", and instead invoking "Woman of Faith"; instead of "Pray for us", saying "Keep us in mind".

I mention this not for the rather cheap motive of inviting you to groan at the inept 'modernity' of such things, but because what we are losing here is in fact something extremely important: the typological character of the old Litany. The titles of our Lady in that Litany include many of the  typological titles which Christian devotion, since at least the time of the Council of Ephesus, has discovered in the Old Testament as pointers to the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

Typology is discerning in the Old Testament the Figure of Christ and his Mother and the events of their lives, so that the Old Testament passage is the Type and the New Testament Figure or event is the Antitype. Typology is the central way in which the Great Tradition of both East and West has appropriated the Old Testament. It goes back to the New Testament texts themselves: Christ as the New Adam ... and see I Corinthians 10:1-11 ... and look at I Peter 3:20-21 ... etc.etc..  

Typology is part of the fundamental Grammar of the Faith; something even deeper than dogma.

Yesterday ... the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ... the liturgical texts reminded us that the Lifting up of the Son of Man on the Cross is the Antitype of which the Lifting up of the serpent in the desert was the Type (Numbers 21:4-9; S John 3:13-17; S John 12:32).

I know that most laity have not been taught about Typology; this is because the Clergy weren't taught it either; and that is because there were so much more important things for them to be taught in seminary (the Synoptic Problem... the inauthenticity of most of S Paul's letters ...)*. But having the Lorettan Litany displaced by a modernist 'relevant' formula devoid of Typology brings home the radical impoverishment of current Catholic culture; the loss within it of both Tradition and of Holy Scripture.

The Catholic Church needs an Edward Bouverie Pusey, and a John Mason Neale, redivivi. Come to think of it, perhaps that is precisely what God has raised up the Ordinariates for.

*None of my strictures apply to the admirable Fr John Hemer, of Allen Hall, who understands perfectly about Typology!

14 September 2019

Pope Pardoctonus the First

I can see no reason to attack PF on the grounds that a chasuble he recently wore is decorated with faux leopard skin.

I always think the best of people; so my assumption is that the leopard-skin is gloriously authentic. Who cares if it cost (as it must in these days when big-game hunting is so expensive a hobby) a very great deal of money? He's worth it.

In classical art, Heracles is commonly shown wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, which he gloriously slew. Apollo is sometimes termed sauroktonos, because he killed the Python. (In a Roman copy of a Praxitelean original in the gallery at Petworth, an effeminate Apollo is shown peering with languid interest at a fairly small lizard running up a tree. I take this to be a jolly piece of subversive Hellenistic humour. Given a choice between Pheidias and Praxiteles, I am for Praxiteles every day of the week.)

So I am very willing to believe that our Holy Father has indeed bloodily defeated a mighty leopard in heroic monomachy. Motu proprio, as we say! The first truly military Roman Pontiff since dear Julius II, Papa della Rovere! A second David! Henceforth, I shall think of PF as Pardoktonos. You see, in the minds of many, the name "Franciscus" has unworthy undertones as of a pallid and soppy zoophile. We need to change all that. So, in the Te igitur, from now onwards, " ... una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Pardoctono ..." Come on, Fathers, you know it makes sense.

On a different planet, PF might have been referred to as Hpap Hanakrapunt. In Victorian English verse, I suppose Pardoctonus would have been "Jorge the Leopard-slayer". The author of the romance of Tristan and Iseult could have given us a vivid verse-picture of the Sovereign Pontiff as he skilfully carved up the carcase. Perhaps someone more learned than I am could offer a pastiche of Beowulf.

All we need now is a Second Callimachus or a Second Ovid to give us an account in High Epic style of so signal a victory. Or perhaps another Catullus (I have in mind the Fall of the Minotaur in 64). But stay! ... why do I forget poor Maro? Arma papamque* cano, pardum qui perdidit ultro ...  

Adeste hexametri versus* quot estis omnes undique, quotquot estis omnes ...

Io triumphe!

* Let's have no pedantic quips about false quantities.

13 September 2019

He's right!

PF has recently made some interesting remarks.

He acknowledges that those who criticise him openly are preferable to those, even in the Curia, who complain about him covertly. It is an advance in understanding on his part that he knows how widespread are the criticisms of those who murmur them while keeping their heads beneath the parapet.

His remarks about the "Old Catholics" are historically a bit off the mark; that particular sect existed before Vatican I. But his observation that their schismatic mentality led to heterodoxy and heteropraxy ... "Now they even ordain women!" ...  is well made.

Leaving the Unity of the One Church so as to be uncontaminated outside it is no solution to anything. The only "Resistance" worth anything is the Resistance of those who are faithful to the Truth we have been given, while remaining in full communion with the Church of S Peter.

Incidentally, I find it encouraging that PF's tone-of-voice implies that he regards the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries to be beyond the pale.

But I would add that the first major departure from the disciplines of the Latin Church made by the "Old Catholics" after Vatican I was their abolition of mandatory celibacy.

That ... I think you will agree ... is worth thinking about.

12 September 2019

Alliteration and Assonance

Can truly it be that I recently described a Bishop in full communion with the See of Rome as a Consecrated Crackpot? I had toyed with Preposterous Prelate and Notable Nutcase, but Consecrated Crackpot seemed to say more, as well as being a neat Ciceronian trispondaicus. Sometimes one tires of all these plani. Don't you find that?

Perhaps readers might have their own suggested alternatives ... go on ...

As long as you cram in alliteration and assonance and steer clear of blasphemy, libel, and obscenity, and anything that I personally dislike, the Thread is yours. Don't bother too much about scansion.

Am I being childish? Very childish? Very very childish? I suppose so.

But when, recently, PF, with that graceful Argentine courtesy of his, described Cardinal Mueller as Childish, his Eminence responded most aptly by reminding PF what it was that the Incarnate Word Himself taught about being childlike. (It never fails to surprise me how little of Holy Scripture PF appears to have read. Poor chap. Some of it really is quite good.)

When we were in the C of E, we had a lovely magazine called New Directions. It was replete with satire and news about the risible goings-on of the Anglican Great and Good. We were sometimes told that it was not our theological views that caused offence, but our tone.

The Great and the Good simply cannot abide being laughed at. 

They can tolerate being hated, but being treated as ludicrous, as being a joke, is beyond their capabilities. This is probably because it is so difficult for them to respond to laughter with their favourite weapon, the Pompous Put-down. The Rt Revd Mgr R Knox, Protonotary Apostolic, of the Anglican Patrimony, explained all this better than I can in his Preface to his own collected Essays in Satire. He argued that the Satirist is the little boy who is the only one in the crowd to perceive that the Emperor is, in fact, stark naked.

If you are ever told by one of the Mighty that your tone is objectionable, at least the initial assumption must be that you are getting things right. Good On Yer, Cobber.

And if you are told, as Cardinal Mueller has been by PF, that you are childish, perhaps the most suitable answer is a Biblical one: Nai; emou gar estin he basileia ton ouranon.

11 September 2019


A magnificent event, last Saturday: the Deaconing of Brother Benedict Manning, Congregation of the Oratory. I have got to know him because we are members of the same select little seminar which reads Latin liturgical texts together. He is a thoroughly splendid young cleric and an ornament to the Sons of S Philip.

The Sacrament of Holy Order was conferred by Bishop Robert Byrne, himself an Oratorian and one of the two young priests who, on the Feast of our Lady's Nativity in 1990, took over the Parish Church of Oxford. And what immense graces have come (and still are coming) to the City and the University from that event.

As Bishop Robert stood at the Altar offering the Holy Sacrifice, I could not help recalling that, as Bishop of Hexham, he is a Successor of S Wilfrid, that doughty Apostle of Romanita. (It is quite an experience to tread the passages beneath Hexham Cathedral, framed with Roman masonry ... you could feel as if you were in the Catacombs.) His Lordship quoted, in his Homily, a prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman, C.O., written on the occasion of his Anglican Ordination to the Diaconate. This seemed to me a graceful tribute to Newman's own insistence, in his Biglietto speech, upon the essential continuity of his Anglican and his Catholic lives.

And the music was truly Oratorian! A great credit to the Prefect of Music, Fr Oliver Craddock, C.O..

If modern Rome seems to some people to be a trifle less Roman than it ought to be, perhaps they should remember that the spirit of that great Apostle of Rome, S Philip Neri, is vibrantly alive throughout the English-speaking world. Deo ... et Sancto Philippo ... gratias!

9 September 2019

New threat to Biodiversity

Sadly, an article is reported in our British medical journal The Lancet concerning the probable complete elimination of Malaria.

Laudato si  clearly teaches, with all the authority of its Magisterial author:
"It is not enough ... to think of different species merely as potential resources to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species ... The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right."

I am sure that our Holy Father will make an early protest against this proposed anthropogenic extinction of a God-created life-form; and, presumably, the relevant bureaucratic department of the CBCEW will already have its draft protests well in hand. The Conference will pretty certainly soon hold an emergency meeting to uphold the authority of Laudato si in these dark days.

And Cardinal Baldissieri will add this new assault upon Biodiversity to the agenda of his Synod. The appropriate paragraph of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation (Malariae dignitas?) more or less writes itself.

Each of us has a grave duty to support our pastors in the face of this new ecological crisis.

8 September 2019

Bring back the Freaks and the fleas

An adapted reprint from yesteryear, with an old thread.
Oxford, perversely, pedantically keeps its own time, so that Cathedral services begin five minutes later than Greenwich Mean Time (or British Summer Time). Perverse; but distinctly more rational than celebrating the S Giles' Fair, the 'Giler', eight days later than S Giles' Day itself (which occurs on September 1).

Incidentally, the 2018-9 Oxford Diary claimed that the Fair started on September 2; the new 2019-20 diary puts it the week later. Bad, that.

Whenever the Giler happens, the broad thoroughfare which leads Northwards out of Oxford, will, at midnight tonight, metamorphose like Cinderella's pumpkin into a vast Fair (returning to pumpkinhood 48 hours later). In Dacre Balsdon's words, S Giles ceases to be a murderous highway of fast-moving traffic and becomes a playground instead. "It is a tightly packed confusion of booths and hurdy gurdies, fat women, fire-eaters, performing fleas, fairing, streamers, and warnings against pickpockets". When Pam and I were undergraduates, Prebendary John Hooper ["Prebendary" because of his years in the Exeter Anglo-Catholic mafia] used to emerge from S Mary Mags with his bucket and his aspersorium after Mass on the Monday morning, and douse the whole business with holy water ("Over 'ere, Farvver, give us a bi' more over 'ere").

Fings aren't what they used to be. The great American showman Barnum, proprietor of the Barnum and Bailey Freak Show, would be run out of business in our narrower society. Traditional Freaks ... Dwarfs and Fat Women and the World's Tallest Man ... are no longer politically correct objects of mirth (or wonder). My own favourite Freak ... the Spider Girl (a young women curiously and ingeniously disposed so as to resemble a large arachnid with a human face) ... has, I am sure, long since collected her bus-pass. The performing fleas would simply invite a noisy demonstration from the Anti-Vivisection people ('Free the Fleas' a good tongue-twister?). The dour, merciless Puritanism under which we now spend our days decrees that the most exciting or Freakish thing you can now see at the Giler is candy-floss.

But Freak-shows are very much in the Oxford - and Anglican - tradition ... as was pointed out by Canon Arthur Couratin, once (rather before my time) the Principal of S Stephen's House ['Staggers'], England's premier seminary. When sacerdos ille valde magnus Bishop Kirk of Oxford purposed solemnly to administer Holy Orders in his Cathedral Church of Christ ... or to sing Pontifical High Mass there on a Solemnity such as that of S Frideswide ... Arthur used to turn up with an immaculately trained team of seminarians to serve. A few days before one such occasion, Mr Dean Lowe observed "I suppose we shall have Arthur Couratin here next Sunday with his travelling circus". Now ... and you need to know this ... in Oxford, there are worthy souls who, like the disciples in the accounts of the Lord's Miraculous Feedings, rejoice to gather up in their baskets all such waspish remarks "so that nothing be lost". Accordingly, the Dean's comment was faithfully reported to Arthur, who promptly observed in his languid drawl "Well, old man, I'd rather belong to a travelling circus than a permanent Freak-show".

Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, who preserved that story, admitted that, while this less than wholly flattering description of the Oxford Cathedral Chapter was no doubt exaggerated, "the Chapter of Christ Church when I came to know it was certainly a remarkable assortment of clergymen". (Fr Eric was objective enough to recognise the possibility that he might himself have seemed to some observers to merit being bracketed among the capitular Freaks.)

Even sixty years ago, in my time, the Giler ... to which I now return ... was that bit more surreal because it coincided with the Staggers House Retreat (in those days, Staggers was just round the corner in Norham Gardens). So you might have seen little knots of devout seminarians gawping at the Freaks while carefully maintaining Greater Silence. (I should explain to cradle Catholic readers that Anglican retreats were not gossipping shops like popish retreats but took place in silence.)

Perhaps it is part of the calling of the Ordinariate to revive the good old Anglican Patrimonial traditions of Freaks and Freak-shows. Perhaps they are exactly what the culturally impoverished English Catholic Church needs in order to put some oomph ... I meant to say Inculturation ... into its public image. Part of the New Evangelisation? Should we again risk entanglement in the Web of an androphagous Spider Girl? Re-embrace the fleas? Pick pockets and eat fire?

I just know you agree with me. But where would we find a new generation of worthy and authentic Freaks?

There's not a single member of the CBCEW whom I could conscientiously nominate.

7 September 2019

The Bergoglianist heresy: Cardinal Mueller's use of irony and sarcasm.

A little more about Cardinal Mueller's wise words yesterday.

He describes the Bishop who has given the most recent description of Bergoglianism as "This great thinker and most worthy successor of the Apostles". This, I presume, is an allusion to the teaching of Vatican II about the Episcopate. But (people remind me from time to time that not all Americans  understand Irony) His Eminence is using irony to suggest that this consecrated crack-pot is not in fact a reliable Successor of the Apostles.

Blessed John Henry Newman, so soon to be added to the catalogus Sanctorum, was "a formidable controversialist, as supreme a master of irony and satire as any in our literature" (words of the great Anglican Church Historian Professor Henry Chadwick). Other one-time Anglicans who were superb satirists include Dom Gregory Dix and Mgr Ronald Knox. I believe that one of the reasons why God called the Ordinariates into existence at this particular kairos of so great a crisis in the Church Militant is for us to use every literary and didactic means available, especially satire and irony and even plain sarcasm, to controvert the deadly heresy of Bergoglian ultrapapalism. And to do it eukairos kai akairos.

Mueller went on to describe these heretics as "such courageous friends who, with shameless half-education, undermine the Roman Primate, by abusing the Pope's authority for their anti-Catholic agenda. He who still yesterday was prominently defaming the predecessors [of PF] and purportedly congratulated Pope Benedict for his courage to retire, is completely untrustworthy  ..."

And, in language uncannily like the analyses so often offered on this blog, His Eminence expresses his determination not to be intimidated by "ideologues with their ridiculous super-papalism which stands in direct contradiction to the First and Second Vatican Councils".

Gerhard Mueller has, surely, given there enough information for it to be possible to identify this particular episcopal "theological illiterate".

So who is he??

6 September 2019

The Bergoglian Creed

The admirable Lifesitenews reveals today that some "theological ignoramus with a bishop's hat" [Cardinal Mueller's apt description] has stated that the Instrumentum laboris is
"merely the application of the encyclical Laudato si, and therefore an expression of the infallible Magisterium of the Pope who stands above the word of God or, as a source of revelation, right next to it".

This goes even further than the hitherto finest exposition of the ultrapapalist Bergoglianist heresy: the famous words (probably the only thing he ever said which wasn't plagiarised) of the Bergoglianist former high-flyer (now Icarised) Fr Rosica:
"Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants to because he is 'free from disordered attachments'. Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture".

Such statements are not merely [to quote Mueller again] examples of "shameless half-education"; they are blatant heresy, in as far as they deny the solemn teaching of Vatican I to the effect that the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of S Peter so that they could proclaim new doctrines.

PF is not merely surrounded by fools; he is surrounded and supported and sustained by heretics. Bergoglianist ultrapapalism is a heresy every bit as deadly and as evil as all the other heresies which have assaulted the Church Militant.

What makes the present situation arguably more serious than any other in history is the circumstance that Bergoglianism is now favoured in the highest places and enjoys the power to utilise the Church's machinery of government.

Bergoglianism is quite simply Satan's masterpiece.


5 September 2019

Losing our Marbles?

The dear old chestnut of 'giving back' the 'Elgin Marbles' is back in the papers. In some quarters, it is now being linked with the imminent celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the the modern Greek Nation State.

I wrote about all this in some detail a few years ago. I now wish to make two simple points.

(1) 'Classical' Greece was not a Nation State. It was a mosaic of poleis, city-states, composed of cities with their surrounding country. These could be ... and often were ... at war with each other.

Nevertheless, Greeks did have a sense of Greekness. And so there were Panhellenic sanctuaries. For example: that of Olympian Zeus; Delphi ...

Athens was not such a sanctuary. The carvings on the Parthenon related to the mythical history of Athens and of Attica. It celebrated the choice of that particular place to be the possession of Athene.

Only in 1821 was a modern-style Greek Nation State invented, with Athens being declared its "capital".

I do not see how this comparatively recent Nation State has any locus standi in the question of where the Athenian 'Marbles' should live. Perhaps the Mayor of Athens, or the local government of Attica, might do. This would at least be arguable ... which is more than one can say for the views of that silly Mrs Clooney.

(2) The demand for 'return' is, culturally, nothing whatsoever to do with Greece or an admiration for things Hellenic. It relates to the Neo-Classical period of Western European artistic fashion ... the age of Byron and Winckelman and Canova and Flaxman and Thorwaldsen and the Grand Tour and the collecting passions of the Western European aristocracy.

One indication of this fashion was the desire of those collectors for pure white marble. So intense was this quaint superstition that when ancient statues reappeared from the soil, they were badly mistreated. They often showed signs of their original colouring, so to make them fit for the eyes of wealthy collectors, every speck of colour was carefully removed. Our own dreadful Duveen exemplified this sort of cultural imperialism and the perverted taste which went with it.

The entire Acropolis Hill in Athens is itself a grand-scale example of just the same unfortunate vandalism. As it emerged from the Ottoman Empire, the hill was covered with buildings of later date than the Periclean period. The Parthenon was for centuries a Christian church; there were little streets and houses and shops and cafes. All of this was scraped away by an independant Greece which accepted uncritically the Western European cultural myths: that
(a) only Periclean Athens really matters; and
(b) 'classical' art and architecture have to be pure, gleaming white.

THE HUNWICKE SOLUTION: Restore the Parthenon to being an Orthodox Church, Our Lady of Athens. Rebuild the demolished Christian sanctuary and cover the walls of the entire building with mid-Byzantine murals. And have it intensively used for the solemn offering of the Great Sacrifice. Perhaps a monastery should be built to serve this church.

This would be a worthy celebration of the truest Hellenism.

4 September 2019


"[The Ultrapapalists] have behaved very cruelly, tyrannically, and deceitfully."

3 September 2019

Advice from Mascall: Where should the Tabernacle be?

Useful guidance from the Anglican Catholic theologian Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall;

"There are a good many Anglicans ... who would prefer that the Sacrament was kept in some quiet and secluded corner of the church where it would not be exposed to the attention of the casual visitor and where the devout worshipper would be free from disturbance. It seems to me that this attitude, however well-meant, is fundamentally mistaken ... For the fundamental facts about the Blessed Sacrament are its publicity and its centrality. It is not a hidden treasure, hidden away in a corner to be the object of devotion of the abnormally pious; it is the gift of Christ to His Body the Church. The method of reservation ... whereby the consecrated elements are placed in a safe in the church wall and removed from association with the altar, seems calculated to encourage almost wrong view of the reserved Sacrament that is conceivable. Could anything be more likely to detach the reserved Sacrament from its organic connection with the Church's liturgy ... ? It is therefore, I would suggest, most desireable that the Blessed Sacrament should normally be reserved in as central a place as possible, upon the high altar of the church, and that regularly some form of public devotion to the Eucharistic Presence should be held, if possible when the main body of the congregation is assembled ...

"In the full rite of Benediction ... the blessing of the people with the Sacred Host as the climax of the service reminds them inescapably of the fact that, in our relation with God, it is he, and not we, who is the primary agent and who takes rthe initiative."

2 September 2019

Exactly which periphery?

I read a suggestion that the the most recently announced batch of newcardinals again privileges the "peripheries".

I then read through the CVs of these people. "Peripheries?", I wondered. These are men  of the machine, company men, men whose talents were spotted and fostered; collectors of doctorates, people who have been heads of this and vice-rectors of that; who made their ways through the traditional cursus honorum of those recognised as high-fliers. Favoured and now successful members of the clerical and clericalist oligarchy which is the Church's real problem.

I'm not impressed. I see the real peripheries as those who, since the Modernist rebellion which followed the Council, resisted error and fostered orthodoxy and decency within the Church. Men who have suffered persecution or at least uncomfortable discouragement.

Where, in that list, does the Society of S Pius X appear? Which members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been raised to the Purple? Nichols and Weinandy, where ... apart from being on our library shelves ... are they? Why does Kazakhstan not merit a Cardinal?

1 September 2019

The Cult of the Child

"'Diddle diddle diddle diddle dum dum dum, hasn't he got lovely legs?' said the rapturous mother. 'H'm 'm 'm' m'.' simmered [her sister-in-law], burying her lips in the little fellow's fat neck, by way of kissing him. 'H'm 'm 'm 'm 'm,' simmered mamma, burying her lips also in his fat round short legs. 'He's a dawty little bold darling, so he is; and he has the nicest little pink legs in all the world, so he has;' and the simmering and the kissing went on ... A regular service of baby worship was going on ..."

Years ago, so I recall, when we were looking around Queen Victoria's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, I was surprised by all the little marble carvings of the hands and feet of her children, made when they were very young.

I felt that the whole business was just a little bit weird.

Recently, I noticed this obiter observation while revisiting GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy: " ... the modern world (even while mocking sexual innocence) has flung itself into a generous idolatry of sexual innocence -- the great modern worship of children. For any man who loves children will agree that their peculiar beauty is hurt by a hint of physical sex".

Hmmmmm. Interesting. GKC characterises (twice) Child Worship as "modern". Is he right?

And what GKC while still an Anglican noticed as an odd inconsistency in 1908 is even more remarkable nowadays. On the one hand, we are constantly bullied to accept any and every sexual "orientation" ... but Paederasty, alone,  is viewed, by those selfsame bullies, with horror (or so they say).

Christians, of course, view every sort of sexual activity with disapprobation, unless it is between a man and a woman within the holy estate of Matrimony; and, even there, if it is contra Naturam.  But the World denies every element of this Christian analysis ... and yet regards paedophile activity with what one can only call hysteria.

Another aspect of this cult is found in news items which tell us that an airliner has crashed with the loss of 463 lives "including eight children".

My instinct is that the Cult of the Child substantially began with the Victorians (I don't think that earlier Greek social patterns have any relevance).The Chronicler of Barchester acutely described the rituals of Baby Worship; do similar passages occur in pre-Victorian writers?