31 December 2019


For those of us who live the Church's calendar - by saying the Divine Office, by attending Mass through the week - the joy of a great celebration can seem a little flattened by the ordinariness of the days after: back to the 'ordinary'; back to green vestments. This is why liturgical traditions have tended to give us a gentle let-down. In the Eastern traditions, very often the 'day after' is an associated celebration; a rendering of the same theme in a different key. Thus the Byzantines and the East and West Syrians keep December 26 as the commemoration of Mary, the Mother of God. Byzantine Calendars also note days as 'the leave-taking of such-and-such'. In our Western traditions, the Octave has performed a similar role. For a week after the Great Day the festival continues to colour our worship. Then, on the eighth day, which will be the same day of the week, we say farewell to the festival by celebrating it again ... even if at a reduced level.

It was unfortunate that the 'reforms' of the 1960s almost entirely eliminated the concept of the Octave. Out of the window went the practice of keeping a Sunday as the 'Sunday within the octave of-such-and-such'. We now have only the octaves of Christmass and Easter, except that in the Ordinariates we have the Pentecost Octave restored to us! Although: the discerning eye can see one or two shadows of the old Octave Days; the eighth day after the Assumption, August 22 is a Feast of our Lady; and in the Ordinariates November 8 is the Feast of All Saints of England and Wales. The old Octave Day of our Lady's Birthday, September 15 - also the day after Holy Cross Day - is, very neatly, the memorial of our Lady at the Cross.

The Octave of Christmass, January 1, has long been marked in the West by texts which take the Divine Maternity of Mary as their theme. As the Council of Ephesus insisted, she is celebrated as Theotokos: Mother of God. This is a safeguard of the Divinity of our Lord; He is God and so His mother is Mother of God. But the title alarms post-Christian folk-Protestants (who are mostly in fact left-wing Arians). Sometimes Anglicans have suggested that Godbirthgiver would be a better translation, as if birthgiver is a more natural word than mother. Byzantines appear unaware of any problem here: at the top of every ikon of our Lady among so many millions, are the words Meter Theou: 'Mother of God'.

Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, and so, with the increasing growth of Biblicism, January 1 came to be called in the Middle Ages the Feast of the Circumcision, although the Lord's Circumcision was barely mentioned in texts, other than the Gospel. This changed when Cranmer got to work. The Novus Ordo did not behave foolishly in renaming the day 'Mary Mother of God' because that is what the ancient texts are in fact mostly about. 

I know that some faithful Traddies number among their (many justified) criticisms of the Novus Ordo its abolition of the Feast of the Circumcision; but, well, if you don't entirely trust me (and why should you?) read Dom Gueranger's article for January 1.

Possibly because of  squeamishness about the Ephesian Dogma, combined with a Victorian shyness about concentrating too explicitly on processes involving the virile generative organ,  modern Anglicanism often restyles the day 'Name [or Naming] of Jesus'.

Ah! The season of Snowflakes!!

30 December 2019


In the twelve days before Christmas, the Beeb had some fool journalist on daily, providing programmes apparently based upon an assumption that the Twelve Days of Christmas were the twelve days leading up to Christmas.

Last Saturday's Times Newspaper had a First Leader, based upon the illiterate ... or do I mean innumerate ... assumption that we are just about to finish "the second decade of the 21st century" ("As we bid our farewells to a decade ...").

I thought the essential point at issue here had been adequately established, around the time of "the Millennium", when it was explained that the third millennium began on 1 January 2001.

This is because, when the system of years "BC" and "AD" was clamped onto the older ways of listing years ("X Yque consulibus", etc.), this was done by making "1 BC" to be followed immediately by "1 AD" , there being no such oddity as a "Year 0" in between the two of them. (A fortiori, there were not two such years as "0 BC and "0 AD.)

If you feel sceptical about this, you can check it by googling the list of Roman Consuls. 

There was thus what we might call a "dot-point", the instaneous  moment at which (what we now call) 1 BC tipped over straight into (what we now call) 1 AD, with nothing in between them.

And ten years from that dot-point had not elapsed until the end of the day (which we now call) 31 December AD 10.

The second decade of 'the Christian era' began on 1 January AD 11.

Try doing it on your fingers, if you still enjoy ten of them.

That is why the Third Millennium started on 1 January 2001.

And it is why the third decade of this century will not start until 1 January 2021.

Whatever the poor half-wits who write the Times Leaders may think about it.

"Paper of Record", indeed!!!!! Somebody should check how many fingers they each have and give them an Office Abacus and a set of dunces' hats.

(This all has nothing to do with when Christ was 'actually' born, and I shall not publish comments which go in pursuit of that red herring.)

29 December 2019

The Nice and the Good (2)

Continues ....

One of the characteristics of the Nice and the Good is that they always do what is best both for the person concerned and for the Community at large. Thus ... if they are going to sack you, they will most certainly not do this because they find you a pest or insufficiently deferential or an obstacle to some cherished but dodgy scheme which they are secretly trying to promote. They will do it because it is for the necessary good of the community concerned, and because your own benefit also peremptorily requires it. If they have in mind to torpedo the boat you are travelling in, this will be because they know that you will only be truly happy at the bottom of the sea.

Some little time ago, I saw an example of this: a victim of sexual abuse wanted some form of public vindication. It was necessary ... of course, with the deepest regret ... for the relevant authorities to refuse this request because  the Meejah feeding-frenzy which such vindication would cause in the national and international press would be something which the survivor would be unable, psychologically, to manage.

 'Cover-up' is the sort of suspicion that could only be entertained by somebody who completely lacked both Goodness and Niceness. Just by thinking such a thought, you would be self-condemned.

By no means always, but quite often, the Nice and the Good are also emotional cannibals (Peter Ball was). They want you to be a willing subordinate in their passion for psychological dominance. In fact, they want you to want this status. If you fail to, that will in and of itself be a pretty definite sign of your calamitous shortcomings.

For students of such things, I warmly commend The Nice and the Good by Iris Murdoch, novelist and sometime Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne's College Oxford. It begins with "a lazy fat man, a perfect sphere his loving wife called him, his name Octavian Gray," who "was slowly writing a witty sentence in a neat tidy hand upon creamy official paper while he inhaled from his breath the pleasant sleepy smell of an excellent lunch-time burgandy". 

Its concluding pages show us his wife still cheerful: "'Isn't it wonderful that we tell each other everything?'

"In fact there were a few details of Octavian's conduct, concerning long late evenings when he stayed in the office with his secretary, which Octavian did not think it necessary to divulge to Kate. However, he easily forgave himself, so completely forgetting the matter as to feel blameless, and as he frequently decided that each occasion would be the last he did not view himself as a deceiver of his wife. His knowledge that there was indeed nothing which she concealed from him was a profound source of happiness and satisfaction."

28 December 2019

The Nice and the Good (1)

The "British Establishment" is something I'm still not sure I understand. I also don't know whether it is distinctively 'British' or whether other cultures are, more or less, the same. Indeed, it may be that I am writing about the English  Establishment, not the British ...

Hereabouts, the concept has a lot to do with an elite, a management class, usually based on inherited privilege, who are so self-evidently 'nice' that it is nasty and vulgar to speak against them; 'bad form' to suggest that they might be selfish or venal; shrill to question their motives.

One can earn approval by the Establishment by 'knowing their place', that is, accepting their greatness and one's own subservient position in their structures. I remember hearing one member of the servant class being referred to with great approval as "Salt of the Earth".

In the Church of England, Bishop Peter Ball was able to spend decades in the sadistic sexual abuse of young men, partly at least because he was a member of the Estabishment, with his inherited wealth, and the protection of Establishment circles reaching up, through archbishops, Public School head masters and High Court Judges, to Prince Charles.

I have never forgotten a passage in a TV play, The Other Man, subsequently converted into a novel, written by Giles Cooper in the early 1960s. Cooper is imagining a contrafactual Britain which, having done a disadvantageous deal with Hitler, is settling down to a subservient role within a Nazi Europe. In a particular military unit, Jewish officers are being filtered out and sent to labour camps. (George is a cadet member of the Establishment; Henry is a subversive.)

George moved over to the fireplace with his drink. 
"So he's [a Jew] too".
"Jaffe? Well of course".
George smiled. "In his case I'm not surprised."
Henry's tone was level and angry as he asked why not.
"He's a first-class shit."
"You know, George,"said Henry, "you've a nasty shock coming to you one of these days when you suddenly find that all the nice people are wrong and all the shits are right." .

To be concluded.

27 December 2019

Revisiting Ancient History

What follows was first published on 2 January 2011. At that time, we were just moving up to the establisment of the Ordinariates. My theme ... the bigoted intolerance of the British cultural Establishment towards Catholicism ... is as thoroughly topical today as ever it was. I reprint my earlier post, slightly abbreviated, because of its historical interest!

I listened to the "Sunday" programme at 7.10 a.m. on the Home Service to hear what it had to say about 'Ordinariate' news. It was presented by one Ed Stourton, who, I gather, is descended from an old recusant family but at some point decided that his own sexual mores needed to be more "nuanced" than those of Christ (he followed his nuances by abandoning his wedding vows and shacking up with a BBC cutie). He should have been caned more often at Ampleforth. This morning he used a word "cacaphony", which I can only imagine is a combination of the Latin cacare and the Greek phone and presumably means "the sound one makes while defecating". His programme exemplified his own neologism to perfection.

Among the gurus on his programme, he had one Paul Vallely, who 'advises' the RC bishops of England and Wales and, a few years ago, wrote some 'Report' or other for them. This Vallely writes also for the Indescribably Boring and for Jezebel's Trumpet. You see the sort of individual he is. Needless to say, he calls himself a "cradle Catholic". Asked about the Ordinariate, he referred to the three men and five women who were received into full communion last Saturday as "rather dodgy characters" and said he would "rather they stayed where they were".

This clear message was hammered home by a limerick composed, we were told, by an official, card-carrying, member of the Great and the Good: Terry Waite - a bloke who caused a lot of hassle decades ago by getting himself kidnapped by 'Islamic extremists'. Here is his deathless verse, read over the radio to the sound of approving murmurs from Stourton:

A cleric whose fondness for Rome
Made him leave both his Church and his home.
As he said his farewells
His church rang the bells
But the Romans let out a loud groan.

Somebody should explain to this opinionated bore that 'groan' rhymes neither with 'Rome' nor with 'home'. And someone should point out to this tedious semiliterate that his sentence which begins "A cleric" and then launches into a relative clause ("whose ... home") never gets to be completed but is replaced by the new sentence beginning "As he ...". The exquisite simplicity and stylishness of the limerick form is sabotaged if both rhyme and syntax are treated with such contemptuous disrespect. Waite, like a lot of silly people, seems to think that the limerick is just an adolescent opportunity for being offensive or obscene. It isn't.

Stourton's programme was full of the usual guff about Tolerance. Apparently, we are not allowed to kick anybody nowadays. Except ... of course ... Anglicans who want to accept Pope Benedict's invitation.

It's always Open Season for the sniggering classes to heap cheap and malevolent abuse upon them.

26 December 2019


 I've never taken this twinning business seriously: but I can think of a twinning which ought to be (but isn't) signed and sealed: Avignon and Exeter, the Anglican diocese where I served before we returned to Oxford.

The Avignon Papacy has had a bad press; Petrarch was only one of those who left behind him highly tendentious writings which have fastened upon the period when the Sovereign Pontiffs lived in Avignon a reputation for corruption and venality. But when Pam and I were there (while we were still Anglicans), it completely stole our hearts. I developed a soft spot especially for John XXII. It was he who in fact (forget Urban IV and Transiturus) launched upon the Western Church the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament: Exposition, Processions and all. He ordered the observance of Trinity Sunday; the bowing of the head at the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary; the ringing of what came to be regarded as the evening Angelus; the use of the prayer Anima Christi (of which he has been suspected of being the author). He promoted literati and encouraged the study of Greek and Latin grammar. He fostered the veneration of our Lady; the statue which he gave of our Lady 'All-powerful' still exists in the Cathedral at Avignon - of which he was bishop before he became Pope. You might well conclude, as I did, that he was one of the grandfathers of the Counter-Reformation.

But what's the Exeter connection? He 'provided' one of his close proteges and friends to be Bishop of Exeter -- John de Grandisson (pronounced 'Grahns'n'), a member of a noble and cosmopolitan Burgundian family, who thus became one of the great builders of Exeter Cathedral and a patron of the arts so powerful that in a 1988 London exhibition he still merited, despite the depredations of Time and of the Tudors, an entire section of his own. He possessed a Hebrew grammar; he codified and reformed the usages of his Cathedral Church; manifested a fierce and protective devotion to the Mater Misericordiae and attempted to lure his Cathedral clergy to bow their heads at the mention of her name. He bequeathed to his Cathedral and to his foundation at Ottery monstrances which must count as two of the most splendid pieces of medieval metalwork of which we have detailed records.

And there is a mystery about John XXII of which I can't help feeling that Grandisson just might be the key. The pope's tomb, in Avignon Cathedral, is a superb piece of ... yes, English workmanship.

If you find yourself there, you could do worse than to worship on Sunday morning in the Chapel of the Black Penitents: an exquisitely baroque masterpiece which is served by the Society of S Pius X. Although I made my Anglican clerical status very clear to them, they were extremely welcoming. In fact, a much friendlier lot than those at the 'mainstream' church which we had visited the evening before for a Vigil Mass. The Chapel of the Black Penitents, unlike so many French churches, had a predominantly young congregation and we weren't 'conducted' by a officious layperson or regaled with guitars.

25 December 2019

Adeste fideles ...

How can you associate yourselves spiritually with our British Ordinariate over Christmas? Answer: by thinking of us if you find yourselves singing Adeste Fideles.


Because our historic Church in Central London, the Assumption Warwick Street, began life as the Portuguese Embassy Chapel. During the penal days, embassy chapels were the only public places of Catholic worship open. And Adeste fideles, probably written by John Francis Wade, a Recusant and Jacobite musician, was so often sung in the Warwick Street Chapel that it was known as the Portuguese Hymn. So just imagine the Marquis of Pombal FRS, sustained by Port Wine and Detestation of Jesuits, belting out this hymn ...

 ... no, you're quite right. In those happier days, it would have been the professional singers who delivered all the music. We should not think of Pombal, poor chap, as a crypto-Methodist.

Additional or variant stanzas of this hymn have sometimes been composed.  Here is a redaction of stanzas 2 and 3, which used to circulate in Anglo-Catholic circles:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Here upon this Altar,
Jesu, to thee be
Glory given.
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing:
      O come ...

Godhead and Manhood,
Sacrament most holy,
This is the presence
Whom Angels adore.
Altar and manger,
One eternal moment.
      O come ...

The metrical structure of this entire hymn seems ragged, to say the least. Hurriedly I have attempted the following for a Latin version. You could all do better. I feel I haven't mastered the rhythm of the fourth line in these stanzas. Or, indeed, the other lines!! A very Happy Christmass!!

Deus, qui throno
Regis in Altaris,
Iesu tibi sit
Patris aeterni
Verbum caro factum.
     Venite ...

Deus et homo
Sacramento latens;
Ara, praesepe,
In utroque
Simul et salvas,
Simul adoraris!
       Venite ...

24 December 2019

Entering the Cloud

It is an idea deeply embedded in most ... I think I may mean all ... traditional rites, that the Eucharistic Prayer is far from being a folksy prayer which the celebrant hopes will be short enough to stop the people getting bored. This Prayer is a profound mystery in which the celebrant is, as it were, halfway out of this world, alone and face to face with the God whom Moses met when he climbed the mountain and entered the cloud at Sinai. Early Ordines tell us that at the beginning of Te igitur surgit Pontifex solus et intrat in canonem ... surgit solus Pontifex et tacite intrat in Canonem*: I am sure that I am not the only priest who, as he raises his hands at Te igitur, senses vividly that he is, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonements, entering the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for all the people before the Holy God who dwells in unapproachable light. The Byzantine priest enters the Royal Doors in order to sacrifice; some of the older Roman churches still possess the hooks to hold the curtains round the ciborium which concealed the celebrant from view.

I believe it can be shown that the developed form of the Canon Romanus, with its careful distinctions between nos servi tui/servitus nostra, and plebs tua sancta/cuncta familia tua, dates from the time when distance and (very probably) curtains separated the celebrant and his sylleitourgoi from the People. The inaudible recitation of (most of) the Canon is a central feature of sound liturgical praxis; if it cannot be immediately universally restored, I suppose the next best thing is its recitation in a voice which at least does not officiously strive for audibility. Why on earth, in OF Latin Masses in quite sensible churches, is the celebrant when at the altar electronically amplified? What if he simply said the Eucharistic Prayer in a clara et elata voce and left in the capable hands of the Almighty the management of those laws of Physics which determine how much of it the people in the various parts of the nave will be able to hear?

This restoration of a sense of the Holiness and otherness of the One Oblation of the Lord Once Offered is going to be the greatest task, the most laborious up-hill struggle, for all those Western clergy who desire to re-enter the historic, ecumenical liturgical consensus of the Latin West and the Byzantine Churches and the Semitic Christian East. Its destruction in the West more than a generation ago was one of the greatest successes of the Evil One. Its recovery is the calling of faithful clergy in this third millennium.


*Jungmann comments: "The Canon is a sanctuary into which the priest enters alone".

23 December 2019

Chinese Whispers??

A rumour is going round that, in this year's new Italian translation of the Missal, the Holy Spirit has been removed from the Eucharistic Prayer [EP] and replaced with "Dewfall".

Here is my own hypothesis about what may really have happenned.

(1) In EP 2, the Latin version authorised in 1968 epicletically sought the consecration of the elements by the 'dew' (rore) of the Holy Spirit.

(2) The consequent Italian translation, understandably nonplussed by this silliness, set it aside by 'translating' 'rore' as 'effusione' (pouring out) of the Holy Spirit.

(3) The new 2019 translation, attempting to get closer to the Latin, replaces 'effusione' with 'rugiata', dewfall.

Well, that is my wild theory. I will await evidence either of its veracity; or that I have missed the mark.

If that theory is correct, one has to commend whoever said "We need to get closer to the Latin". That has to be a sound instinct.

Sadly, however, this closer approximation to the 1968 iuxta typicam Latin moves away from Scripture and from the immemorial liturgical theology of the Roman Church.

There is no evidence that, at the Last Supper, the Lord called the Holy Spirit down upon the elements. And the Roman Canon dates from well before the invention of the idea of consecration by epiclesis. Instead, it assumes that the Great Change happens simply because the acceptance by the Father of the offered elements itself transmutes them.

Except for its Doxology, the Roman Canon is effectively binitarian, containing no mention, no summoning, of the Spirit.  Epiclesis-enthusiasm is the product of a later revolution of thought in the East ... and not definitively reaching the West until 1968.

The incorporation of Eucharistic Prayers with epicleses in them was not mandated by the Council, and Anglican liturgical revisers (strangely, wiser and more authentically 'Roman' than the clique of post-Conciliar fiddlers in the Vatican) were still drafting Eucharistic Prayers without mention of the Spirit in the 1960s. (Sadly, that generation of Anglican liturgists was replaced by others who had caught the Bugnini, Vaggagini, virus and began to scatter epicleses around.)

It is an offence, in my view, against the British 'Trade Descriptions Act' to print volumes claimimg to be Roman Missals, but containing these corrupted, byzantinised formulae.

They should be very neatly and carefully cut out of Altar Books, and burned. (Keep the tabs; you may be able to recycle them.)

[I am not criticising Byzantines or their Liturgy. It is my view that we should all value our own liturgical traditions; know them, live by them, find salvation with them. Byzantines should not latinise, nor should Latins byzantinise.]

22 December 2019


It must have been a couple of decades ago that Anglican Catholics in England met in their thousands for a Mass in London town to greet the new Millennium, Christ our Future the celebration was called, with the Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Archbishop of York as the presiding Celebrant. It was a trifle glitzy, with Archbishop David raised up to a very High Place and brightly illumined with arc lamps, almost as if he were the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

It was very moving  ... but I remember leaving with a disquieted feeling that there was something or other awry about his accoutrements. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

David Hope was the first Primate of England to be a Staggers Man. He also had the distinction of belonging to the same Domestic Duties Group at the House to which I belonged. He was Head Boy and got the House Liturgy Prize a couple of years before I did.

Recently announced, there is another Staggers nominee to the See of York: Stephen Cottrell, for whom I have never dried dishes. (We are both Essex Men.) The pictures show him duly wearing a Staggers soutane, with its traditional 39 buttons. The photographs also suggest that he has not allowed the Homilies of S Leo on Fasting to interfere unduly with the steady pace of his conviviality. But then, neither, I fear, have I.

David never apostatised ('ratted' was +Christopher Luxmoore's term for it) on the question of the admission of women to sacerdotal ministries. Stephen, sensible fellow, long ago made the necessary accommodations and, Amen Amen lego humin, he hath his reward. Nevertheless, he still likes to imagine himself a 'Catholic'. Unlike David, he never wrote a doctoral thesis on the Veronensian ('Leonine') Sacramentary. But on the sole occasion when I  heard him preaching, he named Pope Benedict a great deal, giving clergy in choir innumerable occasions to raise enthusiastic birettas. In other words, he likes to please.

It had been thought that the next occupant of the See of York would probably have been one of the Fast Ladies who, in contravention of this country's Sex Discrimination principles, have been fast-tracked at break-neck speed onto the Lords' Spiritual benches of our Upper House. My theory is that Stephen is being promoted from his natal Essex to Northern glories so as to make it decent for Dame Mullarkey to go straight to Canterbury when Wozname resumes his sadly interrupted career in British Petroleum.

Ah!! It has suddenly come to me what was so disappointing about David Hope's millennial garb.

He was not wearing a Pallium.

21 December 2019

Frabjous Day!!!

The 2020 wall-calendar from the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists has arrived!

Wonderful pictures of the Monatery and the life up in the Orkney Islands, recalling to my memory the time I spent with them one February. And pictures of the breath-taking site of their projected monastery in New Zealand (of the Hidden Jesus ... a thought provoking title ... Hidden in swaddling clothes ... Hidden beneath the appearances of Bread and Wine ... Hidden in our fellow Christians). And, of course, fine liturgical pictures.

I heard that their boat has been damaged; please remember them in your prayers.

Email: contact@the-sons.org

20 December 2019

PERITOME: the answer

Continues from yesterday.
In the Latin Bible, Circumcisio represents the Greek Peritome, Circumcision, used (as in S Paul's Epistles) as a collective term for the Jews. Praeputium represents the Greek Akrobustia, Foreskin, used as a collective term for the Gentile world (English Bible translations sometimes shyly render this as 'Uncircumcision', which seems to me a bit like referring to two-legged humans as 'non-amputees'). But how do the Ox and the Donkey respectively symbolise Jews and Gentiles?

I think it is clear that bos (the word is not taurus) represents a castrated example, ox, of its species; once we set aside instincts born of good manners and Political Correctness, we might acknowledge a certain rough and ready appropriateness in making this animal the symbol of the circumcised male, and so of Judaism. And we will recall that in Antiquity the Donkey had the reputation of being well-endowed: in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius in which the hero is accidentally changed into a donkey by magical New Age ladies, he reflects at the moment of his metamorphosis that the enormous increase in the dimensions of one organ is his only consolation. Hence, this conspicuously unreduced animal is taken by the liturgical, papal, author to represent the unreduced male ... and, by extension (if you will forgive the expression) Gentile Humanity. So the message of this Praefatio is that all humanity, both Jew and Gentile, is equally called to Faith in the Incarnate Son; and to feed joyfully together at the manger (that is, the altar).

So sock it to them, Father; at least the Dads will remember .... or do I mean the Mums?


Unlike PF, I have no problems with this attractive title of our Lady. PF appears to prefer to confine our Lady to exclusively biblical titles; although I am not quite sure whereabouts in the Gospels he has found the title Mathetes (disciple) claimed by her. Furthermore, PF's dislike of unbiblical titles would seem to set him a teensy weensy bit at odds with the 'Orthodox' and 'Coptic' Churches, who are rather (and rather repetively) attached to the Ephesine Dogma of Theotokos. And you can't get very far in a Byzantine Liturgy without colliding with an Aeiparthenos. (Could it be that PF also finds homoousios a little over-rich for his dainty Argentine digestion? Homoiousios, perhaps, would suit him better? We all have our own personal fads!)

At the same time, I do rather feel that the title Mediatrix of all Graces is the one I would prefer to advocate with greater oomph at this present moment. One reason for this is that it is already historically so embedded in the thought of both East and West. Vladimir Lossky, the great Russian Orthodox lay theologian, wrote
"freed from the limitations of time, Mary can be the cause of that which is before her; can preside over that which comes after her. She obtains eternal benefits. It is through her that men and angels receive grace. No gift is received in the Church without the assistance of the Mother of God, who is herself the first-fruits of the glorified Church. Thus, having attained to the limits of becoming, she necessarily watches over the  destinies of the Church and of the universe".

And here is a passage from the mighty Hesychast Doctor and Archbishop of Thessalonica, S Gregory Palamas:
"The All-Holy Mother of God is herself alone the boundary of created and uncreated nature, and nobody could come to God except through her ... she is the Treasury and President of the Wealth of the Godhead ... she stewards and encompasses God's graces ...".

The pre-Pacelli Western liturgical texts for the Assumption seem to me to inculcate the truth that Mary was assumed so that she could powerfully intercede for Humanity.

I drafted this a couple of days ago; I  have just read Archbishop Vigano's fine piece, with which I entirely agree. But I would still like to see the Festival of OL Mediatrix of All Graces resuming its journey to the Universal Calendar on May 31  ... a journey put on hold, as I understand, by Papa Pacelli. Since I am an Ordinariate priest, it is further commended to my affections by its association with the great Belgian Cardinal who sponsored the Malines Conversations. Genuine Ecumenism!

19 December 2019

Not the Crib again?

I have now almost finished the series of Evening Reprints of former blogposts about the teaching of Scripture and Tradition with regard to the Jewish People within God's loving providence. I conclude, today and tomorrow, with a piece on the Manger which I have repeated before. It comes by popular demand!!

Oh dear! What new devotional message about the wretched animals looming over the manger can Father deliver as the tinies and their smirking parents gather round for the Blessing of the Crib on yet another Christmas Eve? Not the same platitudes as last year, surely? No worries. Rescue is at hand in the ancient pages of the Gelasian Sacramentary, which includes material used in Sixth Century Rome. Here is part of a Preface used at Mass on January 1 ... rather more over-the-top than modern liturgical committee-persons could stomache, but still ...

'' ... suckle, O Mother, our Food; suckle the Bread which cometh down from heaven, placed in the manger as feed for devout pack-animals. For there the Ox (bos) that is, Circumcisio, hath recognised its Owner, and the Donkey (asinus), that is, Praeputium, hath recognised the manger of its Lord.''

At first sight, this is uncannily like a piece of Counter-Reformation piety in the sentimentalism of its sudden baroque apostrophe to our Lady, or like a Metaphysical poet on one of his off-days ("suckle the Food"), even if the primacy of dogma, as always in the classical liturgical texts, soon reasserts itself in the powerful identification made between the manger-enthroned Flesh of the Incarnate Word and his Sacramental Flesh upon its Altar-throne to be received by the mouths of the Faithful. And there is something distinctly pre-modern (and pre-Enlightenment) in characterising Christians as 'devout pack-animals (pia iumenta).

But what on earth are we to make of Circumcision (Circumcisio) and Foreskin (Praeputium)?

Explanation tomorrow.

Latin Prose Compo

Teaching Latin Prose Composition to the brightest in a community of young people is something that I profoundly enjoyed. You have to get them to understand that they can't just look up words in a dictionary and produce a wooden A=X, B=Y, C=Z set of transpositions from one language to another. They need to get inside the meaning of the English passage, and then radically transpose it into rhetoric that might have been uttered in such a different society by a Cicero; or history that looks as though it comes from the stylus of a Livy. It is best to work upon a piece of at least moderately good English. The speeches of Enoch Powell were splendid material ... for example, his wonderful evisceration of the policy of Nuclear Deterrence.

A decade and a half ago, in a period when the Irish Times was edited by Geraldine Kennedy and still contained a fair bit of literate English, I might, during my nine-week summer vacation, sit by the water at Knightstown on Valentia Island as the dolphins danced just outside the harbour, my pencil sustained by Beamish, rendering onto the back of an envelope one of that paper's Leading Articles, just for the fun of it.

These memories came to mind as I read the other day an address written not so long ago by the Rt Revd Nick Baines, the Anglican Bishop of Leeds, referring to a politician ... he shall be nameless ... who is now First Lord of the Treasury in this country in true and apostolical succession from the late unlamented Robert Walpole (Drain The Swamp). How, I wondered, might one render this:

"He is an immoral liar; a privileged and Oxford educated journalist and government minister who has the nerve to refer to others as 'the Establishment elite'."

Meat (or meet) for a piece of pastiche-Tully, perhaps? Rhetorical questions and praeteritio as if from the peroration of In Catilinam XV?

18 December 2019

More Questions about German Mistranslations of the Liturgy of the Hours

Newer UPDATE on the question of German versions of the Liturgy of the hours mistranslating the Editiones Typicae ... at the Office of Readings for "Die 12 ianuarii vel sabbato post dominicam Epiphaniae" there is a passage from Faustus Regiensis in which the penultimate and antepenultimate paragraphs are an elegant exposition of Supersessionism: The Torah gives way, Grace takes its place; the Shadow is taken away, Truth demonstrated ... etcetera.

I would  be interested to know if the German version includes this sermon by this Saint; and, if so, whether it includes these paragraphs. And whether they are bowdlerised in translation.

Apparently, one of the English versions translates Evangelium as Message.  Seems odd to me. I wonder what the date of that translation is.

More interestingly still, a reader tells us that that the German translation talks about us receiving etc, rather than the People of the Promise doing so. NOW ... WHAT is the date of THAT version? And I wonder what the German version does with the prayer for the Conversion of the Jews in the Vespers of Easter Sunday?

I wonder what the other major languages do here.

 "The Mater Misericordiae teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits. Neither the Torah* with its quibbles, nor the Sophia tou Kosmou* with its distinctions, can hold it back. The Church's forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and Mary at his feet". (Pope Francis on January 1. My italics.)

Frankly, I do not entirely agree with the Holy Father's rather unkind words about the Jewish Torah. It is, as I understand it, not an obsession with minutiae by which a human hopes to 'earn' Justification (this was the old anti-Judaic and mistaken Lutheran analysis), but an identity marker of those who desire to remain in fidelity to their Covenant with a Merciful God. Moreover, as a Catholic I love the Torah because, for us, our Redeemer is himself Torah Incarnate. But I do most warmly welcome the Pope's evident belief that the Sacrifice on Golgotha has superseded the written decrees which are now nailed to the Cross like the loot nailed to a Roman military tropaeum (Colossians 2: 14) ... and I particularly like his phrase "knows no limits", together with his clear implication that the breadth of the Mercy offered by the Church must not exclude any category, least of all the people of Jewry. One in the eye for Marx and Co! They need as many in their eyes as they can get!

Talking about Cardinal Marx and his English disciples and their impertinent requests that a particular Prayer, composed by Pope Benedict for the Extraordinary Form, should be "reviewed" by a subdepartment in a Roman Dicastery, I wonder ... er ... do you think these bishops fulfill the Divine Office in the post-Conciliar form of the Liturgy of the Hours? ... if so, what did they make of the Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews at Lauds on January 2: "We beseech thee that thy Gospel, O Christ, ... may be received by the People of the Promise"?  [Die 2 ianuarii , ad Laudes matutinas, Preces, the second versicle and its Response, beginning in Latin Christe, quem, ab angelis glorificatum ... etc..] Did they cross their fingers behind their backs and diplomatically hiccup as their Chaplains said those words, or, perhaps, did they make the sign to avert the Evil Eye?

I simply cannot help coming to the reluctant conclusion that these bishops are behaving with quite a degree of hypocrisy; perhaps trying again to hurt the already wounded Traddy community; or to stir up trouble against a potential regularisation of the SSPX; or, possibly, just simply to trash the legacy of a Pope Benedict whom they never liked. Otherwise, why have they never asked the CDW to "review" so many such passages in the post-Conciliar Office? Or, if they have, when did they do it? Is their request on record? If there is any sincerity in their request for a "review" of the Extraordinary Form, why do they not strengthen their case by saying "We have already sought a substantial revision of equally objectionable passages in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the selected Biblical pericopae in the Eucharistic Lectionary?"

 I have written before about the manifest evidences that the Liturgia Horarum was produced before the currently fashionable heterodox attitude to Judaism was invented in the years around 1980. I add to my previous lists the end of the Patristic Reading on December 31, from S Leo the (very much more) Great (than any modern German or British Cardinal or Bishop): "The birthday of the Lord is the Birthday of Peace: for thus speaks the Apostle: He is our peace, He who made the Two One; since, whether we are Jew or Gentile, through Him we have access in the one Spirit to the Father." (The 'Apostle', of course, whose words are represented in italic, is S Paul in Ephesians*.)

*** the (Jewish) Law, "la legge con il suoi cavilli"; the Wisdom (Zeitgeist) of the World, "la Sapienza di questo mundo"; I intend a post some time on the authorship of Ephesians.

Breakfast with the Bishop: Only for English Hellenists

A friend has shown me a Catholic devotional tract which quotes Matthew 11: 30 with an implied Greek subtext to gar okhron* mou khreston ... estin.

Ah, the wonders of Text Crit! How many hours of unalloyed fun it provides! How fortunate I am to have been taught it in my youth over many short hours by that wonderful Canadian George Kilpatrick ... whose own 1958 edition of the NT, incidentally and unaccountably, omits in its apparatus criticus to record this v.l..

How can such a densely significant Variant Lection fail to remind the English reader of the famous Punch cartoon by George du Maurier (1895), and the immortal words therein of the chinless Mr Jones?

I bet Housman would have devised a superb emendation. Kilpatrick, who was the Dean Ireland Professor in this University as well as being a Staggers Man, once gave me, as a Birthday Present, a copy of Housman's On the Application of Thought to Textual Criticism.

Pure gold.

*Ovi scilicet interiora lutea, secundum Aristotelem.

17 December 2019


Reprinted from 2015

 There are two things I thought too obvious to say; but perhaps they do need to be said.

(1) Although the Fathers, and the Byzantine Liturgy, do sometimes talk about Church superseding Synagogue, I think this may, in the very strictest pedantry, be anachronistic. Historically, Synagogue Judaism and Eucharistically Sacrificial Christianity both emerged from the period 33-70 A.D., after which, of course, Temple Judaism was an impossibility. In terms of simply historical narrative, neither religion is, strictly speaking, the "Father" or the "Elder brother" of the other, however attractive such language may be diplomatically.

(2) Supersession most certainly does not mean that Gentile supersedes Jew. The man who has Faith (whether Jew or Gentile) supersedes the one who does not have Faith (whether Jew or Gentile). As S Paul says on page after page of Romans, God has bracketed both Jew and Gentile together under Sin, so that both equally need and can receive Mercy. Nor does Supersession mean that Gentile is better than Jew, or that Jews have some inherent inherited defect from which Gentiles are free. They don't.

And a personal note.

I have never, in the course of my life, done the Holy Week liturgies in any form other than the Novus Ordo forms. Further: I have never even attended the older rites. My only motives for getting involved in this question are: a feeling of outrage about a matter of principle; a more general sense of unease about those who, in various areas, seem keen to demolish  what was Magisterially established or confirmed less than a decade ago; and a personal disgust at those now jumping onto a let's-trash-Ratzinger bandwagon. 

And a philological speculation.

If the term Supersessio upsets some people so much, why don't we offer to use instead some other word from the rich vein of terms used by S Paul in Romans Chapter 11: apobole, perhaps, or apotomia, or  exeklasthesan [thrusting away; cutting off; they were broken off].

Graham Leonard and Gavin Ashenden

How splendid the announcement by Bishop Mark of Shrewsbury that, this coming Sunday, he will be receiving into full Communion Gavin Ashenden. Ashenden was formerly a Chaplain to the Queen, but then left the C of E and secured Episcopal Consecration from one of the 'Traditional Anglican' splinter groups which proliferate in North America. Bishop Mark announced also that he was sending to Rome Gavin's 'episcopal pedigree' in the hope that it might be recognised.

It is this latter detail which has moved me to bring forward and to print today a piece which I wrote some weeks ago and stored to be published on 6 January 2020, the ninth Anniversary of  the day when Bishop Graham Leonard passed to his reward. Readers will detect the relevance of the second, third , and fourth paragraphs below to the Ashenden situation. I should add that the American source of Ashenden's episcopal orders may not be prove to be as straightforward as the English situation. In England, the 'Old Catholic' bishops taking part as 'Aequiprincipal Consecrators' in English Consecrations signed and had witnessed an extensive protocol in Latin making clear what they were doing; what they meant by it; and the Latin formula they used.

I doubt whether very many bishops, of whatever Church, elicit, upon their deaths, such an avalanche of heart-felt tributes as did Graham Leonard, sometime Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapels Royal, and Privy Councillor. He was one of the first diocesan bishops in the Church of England to welcome the Catholic Revival with a wholeheartedness that included no ifs or buts. His and my paths crossed when he was President of the Woodard Corporation; in which role he maintained the Catholic Faith without giving an inch to bigots. The same was true of his ministry as Bishop of Truro; his orthodoxy being all the more marked by contrast with the smoke of Satan which billowed into that diocese, hitherto perhaps the most 'Catholic' in England, under his successor in the 1990s.

Upon his entry into Full Communion, Bishop Graham sent to the CDF copies of all the documents in the Pusey House Archive relating to the praxis, since the 1930s, of the formal participation in Anglican Episcopal Consecrations (using the formula in the pre-Conciliar Pontificale Romanum of Pope Clement VIII) of bishops from the 'Old Catholic' sect (whose Orders, of course, Rome has always accepted). After requiring and receiving vota, the CDF judgement was that there was doubt whether the negative verdict of Apostolicae curae applied in this new situation, and that his priestly Ordination should only be repeated sub conditione. He told me he was convinced that the reason why Rome did not formally consider the validity of his Episcopal Consecration was Rome's knowledge that if she did so, she would have to declare it valid and would thus find herself embarrassed by the presence of a married bishop.

It also deserves to be put on record that Bishop Graham considered it significant that Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict always addressed him as 'Bishop', even after he had entered into Full Communion. He felt that such a usage, on the lips of a principled theologian with a precise mind, could not merely be a meaningless ecumenical courtesy. Yet, in his great humility he took part in the 'reordination' of priests whom he had, as Bishop of London, already ordained to the Sacred Priesthood.

[His obituary in The Times, incidentally, bears the marks of having been written by somebody who was close to things ... does any reader know by whom?]

His portrait, in episcopal garb, dominates the study of my Ordinary in Warwick Streat. I have no doubt that there will be priests, former Anglicans, all over England who will be saying his Requiem around this time with the prayers pro defuncto episcopo.

16 December 2019

The German (and English) Bishops and Nostra aetate

  Reprinted from 2015                                                      

                                                         SUGGESTIO FALSI?

On 24:11:2015, the English Bishops put out an explanation of their contentious resolution which had called for the Ecclesia Dei Commission to "review" the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews which was composed in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI for use in the Extraordinary Form. Benedict's Prayer was designed to replace the ancient Prayer as lightly revised by S John XXIII. It was his intention thus to put an end to the controversy which had surrounded the ancient Prayer.

This is what the CBCEW explanation said:
"In 1970 the Prayer for the Jews in the Liturgy for Good Friday was revised so as to reflect and express the teaching on Judaism contained in the Vatican II document Nostra aetate. In particular, it removed offensive references to the Jews and did not pray for the conversion of the Jews."

I think any reasonable reader would infer from this that Nostra aetate either forbade or discouraged prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

It did nothing of the sort. Read it and see. Or, if you can't be bothered, and you don't trust my say-so, here is part of the recent discussion Document put out by a Vatican department on relations between Catholicism and Judaism:

 " ... the Conciliar text is not infrequently over-interpreted, and things are read into it which it does not in fact contain. An important example of over-interpretation would be the following: that the covenant that God made with his people Israel perdures and is never invalidated. Although this statement is true, it cannot be explicitly read into Nostra aetate."

(It is, of course, on the grounds that the Jews already have a still valid 'deal' with God that some people now think it wrong to pray for them to turn to Christ, or for the Good News of the Gospel to be brought to them.)

The CBCEW 'Explanation' also conveyed, at least to me, the impression that Jews are feeling upset because the Prayer which Pope Benedict composed has not been banned. Those who watched the Vatican News Conference to present the recent discussion Document will recall that the contrary seemed to be the case. If those responsible for the CBCEW Resolution and Explanation have not listened to that News Conference on Vatican TV Player, perhaps, over Christmas, they might be able to find the time to do so, since they have already been able to find the time to compose Resolutions and Explanations.

I'm afraid I feel compelled to say that bishops ... even bishops ... especially bishops, and especially when they appear to be teaching publicly, should try really, really hard not to mislead. It is contentious and divisive.

                                                            MY HYPOTHESIS

The 'Explanation' put out did, most interestingly, reveal that the English Bishops were meekly following in the footsteps of the German Episcopal Conference. This depressing fact does, I think, give us a plausible historical context for what is really going on here.

The German Bishops 'have form'. After the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, they clearly resented its reliance on 'subsidiarity' and attempted, in a very bad-tempered set of regulations, to circumscribe the rights which had been conferred upon their presbyters. Then, in 2009, when the SSPX excommunications had been lifted, and it looked as if a canonical regularisation of the SSPX was imminent, they tried to prevent SSPX ordinations within their jurisdictions: an attempt which was partially successful in as far as Rome asked the Society to move some Ordinations away from its German seminary; to which request the SSPX tactfully acceded.

There are now persistent rumours that Pope Francis, who is not always terribly concerned about liturgical and legal minutiae, would like to see the SSPX 'problem' solved. The German Bishops did their best to prevent reconciliation in 2009; they must be furious that, having kicked that particular ball into the long grass of the present Pontificate, they now find, to their horror, that a deal looks, if anything, more likely under Francis than it did under Benedict.

In their panic, they had to find something to do to prevent our beloved Holy Father's goodwill and instinctive pastoral bias from achieving the tangible result of reconciliation among estranged Christians during his Jubilee Year of Mercy.

This German plot with regard to Pope Benedict's Good Friday Prayer seems to me clearly and specifically designed to give the SSPX grounds to worry that, after a deal with Rome, they would be vulnerable to arbitrary interference from any group of hostile bishops who succeeded in securing some leverage, or getting somebody's significant ear, in the Vatican. It would be profoundly sad, but hardly unnatural, if some SSPX clergy were even now in touch with Bishop Fellay to say "Hang on: look at what you might be getting us into".

So ... a spoiling tactic designed to stir up trouble and so to prevent unity and concord within the Mystical Body of Christ? If so, a thoroughly nasty mentality would be at work here, the ultimate source of which would be fairly obvious. But things could work out for the best! If, as seems likely, Ecclesia Dei declines to change Pope Benedict's Prayer, it will demonstrate that Cardinal Marx's imperial ambitions have not established an ascendancy over at least one particular dicastery. Which could and should reassure SSPX doubters.

I wonder who brought, and why, that proposal to the CBCEW table; and how unanimous the opinion around that table was. It is a shame that the CBCEW is not open in its deliberations, as the American Conference is.

15 December 2019

Nostra aetate (6) ... two recent popes

In 1980, addressing a Jewish gathering in Germany, B John Paul II said (I extract this from a long sentence):
" ... dialogue; that is, the meeting between the people of the Old Covenant (never revoked by God, cf Romans 11:29) and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time ..."

In 2013, Pope Francis, in the course of his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, also referred to the Old Covenant as not having been revoked. I commented on this earlier.

First: a few words about status.

Pope John Paul was addressing a meeting of Jews, which makes it improbable that he can be said to have been speaking as Successor of S Peter and formally binding members of the Catholic Church. Moreover, his words were uttered, as Common Law jurists put it, obiter; that is to say, they were a passing remark and not given as a considered judgement upon a disputed  question.

As we saw in an earlier post, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who must be presumed to know about these things, expressed a strong conviction that Evangelii gaudium is not part of the Magisterium.

It would, however, be profoundly unsatisfactory to leave the matter as though we had merely wished to establish that the words quoted lack any binding quality upon the Catholic conscience and thus to avoid a difficulty. It would be to imply that our beloved Holy Father was in contradiction to the teaching of all his predecessors down to very recently. In accordance with the Hermeneutic of Continuity, we should attempt to think intelligently about how his words do express a coherent doctrine in line with the Tradition of all the Ages.

I am not a dogmatic theologian; others can certainly do this better than I can. But I tentatively suggest that one way of approaching this is to distinguish by means of the two adverbs 'Salvifically' and 'Eschatologically'. Salvifically, the Old Covenant is of no effect. It has been 'emptied', in the word used by Pope S Leo the Great and explicitly cited by Pope Pius XII. Of course, God's uncovenanted mercies may extend to individual Jews, just as to individual Moslems or Agnostics who are in invincible ignorance. But Article XVIII of the Church of England speaks for the wholeness of Tradition when it anathematises (anathematizandi sunt) those* who say that "every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law, and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved".

Eschatologically, however, S Paul teaches that God still loves the Jews because of 'election', that is, his first covenantal choice; and that his covenant faithfulness with them will, at the End, the Eschaton, be vindicated when they finally come to him through their Lord and Saviour Christ in penitence, faith, and obedience. Benedict XVI changed the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews in his Extraordinary Form so as to pray that God will "illuminate their hearts so that they acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men"; that the God who "wishes all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth, will grant that as the fullness of the nations (gentium) enters his Church, so all Israel will be saved". Lex orandi lex credendi ... if this is not a solemn doctrinal statement by a very recent pontiff, probably the most learned pope since Benedict XIV, I do not know what is.**

I am certain that John Paul II and Francis were also speaking in this same Eschatological sense because it aligns their words with the clear teaching of S Paul in Romans 11. The fact that others argue otherwise seems to me a grave ecclesial disorder and a very considerable skandalon in the Catholic body. It is to argue for a hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. It is to argue that, in a historically very brief period, there has been a complete U-turn in the teaching, indeed, in the basic doctrinal grammar, of the Catholic Church. It is to assume that (on what both sides of this debate seem to agree is an extremely important question) one pope (Francis) flatly contradicted, in a doctrinal matter, what his predecessor (Benedict) had established only half a decade earlier. To say that this is what happened is to attempt a complete subversion of the Petrine Primacy. It is not only to expose all papal utterances to contempt, but also to advance a thesis and to promote a cultural trajectory which will feed the fires of Sedevacantism***.
* Anabaptists; such as the Matthew Hamant who was burnt at Norwich in 1579. (De Haeretico comburendo was still in use in England as late as 1611 ... Elizabeth Tudor was quite a Traditionalist in this respect).
** This action involved modifying an unbroken liturgical tradition going back (so the great Anglican liturgist Geoffrey Willis demonstrated) to the middle of the fourth century. This is, surely, significant. It must be even more significant that Benedict XVI did not simply extend to the Extraordinary Form the Prayer for the Jews which was already established in the Ordinary Form. It is highly improbable that this (rather obvious) option never occurred to him. Instead, he devised a new form closely in line with the teaching of S Paul in Romans. His action cannot be considered to have been done obiter; he performed it after a considerable controversy had arisen, and as a formal and authoritative resolution of that controversy. The fact that his solution was so carefully, even slavishly, biblical would, in an earlier age, have been deemed to add to its force and to resound to his credit, rather than to be an offensive outrage.
    I have seen it suggested, by a professional Catholic ecumenist, that, since Good Friday comes but once a year, and not many people attend the Extraordinary Form, and those who do will not understand the Prayer because nobody knows Latin, the action of Benedict XVI can be disregarded and we can all get on together with the happy work of promoting still further the Two Covenant Error. This view seems to me to express such an extreme and overt contempt for the Magisterial prerogatives of a Sovereign Pontiff, lawfully exercised, that I am, uncharacteristically, lost for words. (Praeteritio there, would you say?)
*** Since I wrote these words, I have read that one Fr Paul Kramer, a transpontine clergyman, is reported to have become sedevacantist because of what Pope Francis wrote. A highly foolish over-reaction; indeed, injurious to his soul. If a Council or a Pope says something which can be taken either as heresy or orthodoxy, a Hermeneutic of Continuity requires one to opt for the latter interpretation (while deploring the ambiguity).

14 December 2019

Nostra aetate (5): the recent Papal Magisterium

The sort of people who would violently reject the points I am making are the sort of people who would not be impressed by the the Council of Florence. So I am going to confine myself to the Magisterium from the time of Pius XII ... since it is increasingly coming to be realised that the continuum of processes which we associate with the Conciliar and post-Conciliar period was already in operation during the Pontificate of Pius XII ... to the present day.

In 1943 Pius XII published his encyclical Mystici corporis. He did not discuss Judaism as a topic; the fabric of Christian discourse had not yet so disintegrated as to render necessary the sort of polemic in which I am presently engaged. But, in laying the foundations of an exposition of the Ecclesia, he wrote as follows. "With the death of the Redeemer the Old Law was abolished (abolitae) and the New Covenant (Testamentum)  took its place (successit); it was then that the Law of Christ, with its mysteries, its laws, institutions, and sacred rites, was ratified (sancita) for the whole world by the blood of Jesus Christ. ... by his death on the Cross he made void (evacuavit) the Law with its decrees and fastened the handwriting (chirographum) of the Old Covenant to the Cross, establishing the New Covenant in His Blood which he shed for the whole human race. 'At that moment', says S Leo the Great, 'there came about so evident a transition (translatio) from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the multitude of sacrifices to the one Victim (a multis sacrificiis ad unam hostim) , that when the Lord gave up the ghost the mystic veil, interposed to hide the inner parts of the Temple and the secret sanctuary, was rent with sudden violence from top to bottom'. On the Cross, then, the Old Law died (mortua est) - soon to be buried (sepelienda) and to become lethal (mortifera futura) - and was succeeded by the New Covenant (Novo Testamento cederet) ..." As was the custom, this passage in the Magisterial opus of a very recent pope (well, I was a sixth former when he died) was very adequately propped up with Biblical, Patristic, and Conciliar references. I am confident that these words are a very fair summary of the assumptions of two Christian millennia; and in both East and West.

But was this consensus set aside in the Conciliar or in the  post-Conciliar period? We turn to one of the great exegetes of the post-Conciliar 'look' - Cardinal Jan Willebrands. Willebrands was no Ottaviani. He had a finger in every exercise of aggiornamento and every 'ecumenical' 'outreach' of the Vatican. In 1985 he signed Commission for religious relations with Jews; notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church. Here are two paragraphs of that document. "In virtue of her divine mission, the Church which is to be 'the all-embracing means of salvation in which alone the fulness of the means of salvation can be obtained'* must of her nature proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. Indeed we believe that it is through him that we go to the Father 'and this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent'. Jesus affirms that 'there shall be one flock and one one shepherd'. Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer of all 'while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council'*". The inner citations I have *asterisked are from Unitatis redintegratio and Dignitatis humanae of Vatican II. This is not surprising since, at the Council, Willebrands was responsible for drafting some of its most sensitive documents (Ecumenism; non-Christian religions; Religious Liberty). Despite this experience, despite his high-profile stance in the establishment of new relationships with non-Catholics, he was evidently completely unaware that Vatican II, in whose processes he played such a significant role, had in some way mandated or even encouraged belief in 'two parallel ways of salvation'.

Equally unaware of this alleged revolution was, it appears, another of the bright young things of the sixties, a peritus at the Council, another of its drafters. In 2002 Joseph Ratzinger was to enunciate (in an interview) the teaching of S Paul that "in the end all of Israel will be brought home. It is another question, how far, with the rise of the Church - the people of God from all nations - and with the coming of the new covenant, life under the old covenant, a life that remains closed to the new covenant that comes from Christ, is still a valid way of life ...We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel too will say Yes to Christ ... " Does that mean that Jews will have to recognise the Messiah, or ought to do so? "That is what we believe ...".

So has anything happened to contradict the Magisterium of all the ages? The next post will finish off this series; and my apologies to those who didn't need to have any of this explained to them because they knew it already, and have accordingly been rather bored. My thanks for some very helpful contributions on the thread.


Which ORDO to acquire for the Calendar Year of 2020??

Of course, if you do the Novus Ordo in either its RC or Anglican forms, I will naturally commend to you the ORDO which I compile, Order for the Eucharist (Mass and Office) published by the Church Union and printed by the Additional Curates Society, 16, Commercial Street, Birmingham B1 1RS.

And I frequently commend to you the St Lawrence Press ORDO, which gives you the Roman Rite as it was before the Pacelli/Bugnini partnership started to have Good Ideas. You may not wish to use it, or be unable to for pastoral reasons, but the liturgically intelligent benefit enormously from an awareness of where more modern systems actually come from.

But what if you are a 1961/1962 person, happy with Mass and Office according to S John XXIII?

(1) Are your Missal/Breviary from 1961/1962 or later? If they are, all you need is the ORDO published annually by the British Latin Mass Society. It is nicely laid out, and has the the calendars for the English dioceses. (I happen to think that the strategy it employs for the dioceses erected later than 1962 is faulty, bit that's just me!!) It is perhaps the most user-friendly ORDO available. BUT ...

(2) Many clergy, however, and not just the more elderly, possess or use Breviaries printed before 1961. If you do this, and you wish to abbreviate the Office in accordance with the S John XXIII changes, you will need to have additional information. For example, the LMS ORDO does not inform you that on December 13 at Lauds you use the Sunday psalms with the antiphons proper to S Lucy. Nor does it give any information about which of the lections printed for Mattins you use, and which you miss out. For all such information, you could get the ORDO DIVINI OFFICII PERSOLVENDI MISSAEQUE SACRIFICII PERAGENDI produced by the American Angelus Press, 2915 Forest Ave Kansas City MO64109-1516 US. It contains Appendixes fully listing the calendars of  the dioceses of England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, NZ, Canada. (Despite its title, its text is in English.)

Not Ireland!

13 December 2019

Nostra Aetate (4): Is the Two Covenant Theory a necessary revolution?

We have seen that the Two Covenant Theory, the idea that Jewry alone is guaranteed Salvation without any need to convert to Christ, is repugnant to Scripture, to the Fathers, even to the post-Conciliar liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is also subversive of the basic grammar of the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. Throughout  two millennia, in Scripture, in Liturgy, in her classical teachers, the Church of East and West has relied on the hermeneutic of typology ... the relationship between the OT Type and the NT Antitype which fulfills and replaces it. Even non-Christian intellectuals and scholars can understand this. Frank Kermode, in his 1975 classic The Classic gives as examples "Christ makes Jonah the type of his resurrection, and S Paul the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites a type of baptism". He goes on: "A type can therefore be identified only by its antitype, a later event in a providentially structured history; the Old Covenant is a type of the New. Types are essentially what Auerbach has in mind when he speaks of figurae, events or persons that are themselves, but may presage others. Their purpose, to put it simply, is to accommodate the events and persons of a superseded order of time to a new one."

To accept the Two Covenant Theory has the advantage that Catholic ecumenists can hold their heads high and win smiles when among their Jewish friends, safe from the fear that they may be accused of antisemitism and bracketed with Adolf Hitler. It has the disadvantage that it requires a radical evisceration of Scripture and of the Liturgy, and a massive expurgation of those texts of the Fathers which will be allowed to be read. Hymns, too, will need to be eliminated or rewritten, even if written by someone of the stature of S Thomas. Do I seem to exaggerate? I will challenge anyone who thinks I do to give a plain answer to this question:
If those who attack 'Supersessionism' get their way, shall we any longer be allowed at Benediction to sing Et antiquum documentum/ novo cedat ritui or, during the Mass of Corpus Christi, ... novum Pascha novae legis,/ Phase vetus terminat.//Vetustatem novitas,/ umbram fugat veritas,/ noctem lux eliminat; all about how 'the Old', 'the Shadow', 'the Night; must give way to, or is put to flight by, 'the New', 'the Light', 'the Truth'? 

The Two Covenant Theory, lamentably, has spread so far and so wide that good and well-meaning people speak and write as if it were true, and may hear it even when it is not spoken. Jorge Bergoglio, in a document which is non-Magisterial, wrote "their covenant with God has never been revoked" (EG247). This statement echoed a remark obiter of B John Paul II. Such a formula can and should most certainly be situated in a Magisterial context in which it can be understood and justified (I plan to do this in two later posts). I would be perfectly content to say it myself. But I would feel uneasy if I did not explain further what I meant. Pope Francis wisely followed it by the contextualising remark two paragraphs later that "the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah". I very much hope that readers read this with as much care (and lengthy thought) as they did his previous remark. If they did so, damage will not have been done.

The fact that even a writer who is also Bishop of Rome can express himself in a way which might seem to some to be ambiguous, brings home to all of us the message that we need to be very careful. And that, the more we encounter this error, the more we are obliged to refute it. This is awkward; sane and pleasant people naturally flinch from expressing themselves in a way which some non-Christian Jews have taught themselves to regard as offensive. In any case, we have better things to do with our time than to spend it offending any members of the Jewish people, especially beloved of God, and running the risk of seeming to some of them to align ourselves with nutters and nasties and plain bonkers Nazis. But:

For all men and women, without exception, Christ is Saviour.
To be continued in just two final posts.

12 December 2019

Nostra Aetate (3): the post-Conciliar liturgical Magisterium

Lex orandi lex credendi. I have been examining the Two Covenant Dogma: the fashionable error that God's First Covenant, with the Jews, is still fully and salvifically valid, so that the call to saving faith in Christ Jesus is not made to them. The 'New' Covenant, it is claimed, is now only for Gentiles. I want to draw attention at this point to the witness of the post-Conciliar Magisterium of the Church; particularly that of the Liturgia Horarum. Critics who prefer the post-Conciliar Magisterium to that which preceded; who posit a rupture between the two; who hold in high regard the post-Conciliar liturgical dispositions; will be bowled over by this evidence!

The revisers, you remember, introduced a completely new set of lections to the post-Conciliar Office Book. I suggest that it would be instructive, as you read the LH daily, to make notes every time you catch the patristic lection saying or implying that the Jewish dispensation is superseded. If you had begun to do this a year ago, you would have made a marginal note against a phrase in the Homily (3) of S Leo which you read on Epiphany Day: "... benedictionem ... qua se filii carnis abdicant ..." [the Blessing of Abraham from which his children by the flesh are excluding themselves]. This is not some set-piece attack upon the Synagogue; S Leo speaks like this quite naturally, and does not need to argue the statement, because 'Supersessionism' is the basic assumed theological substructure of the Faith he shared with the other Fathers. "Intret, intret ..." he goes on: "let the fulness of the Gentiles enter into the family of the Patriarchs and let them, the children of promise, receive the Blessing". (Quite possibly it was S Leo who wrote the Supra quae of the Roman Canon in which we claim Abraham as our  Patriarch.)

The following day, S Peter Chrysologus applies to the Jews and Gentiles the Dominical promise that the First will be Last and the Last will be First ... I doubt if he would have approved of a phrase I read somewhere recently that the Jew is the Christian's Elder Brother. A couple of days later, S Proclus of Constantinople says that to both Jews and Gentiles equally God grants salvation through Baptism. Another few days: S Faustus tells us that, "by Christ's working in Galilee, wine is made; that is, the Law recedes, Grace takes its place; the Shadow is removed and Truth is made clear ... the ancient observance is transferred into the New Testament [in novum testamentum observatio vetusta transfertur]".

But perhaps this is peculiar to the Epiphany Season? Plunge with me at random into the middle of the Weeks per annum ... let's take Weeks XVII and XVIII ... immediately we descend upon S Cyril, who is having no nonsense about Two Covenanants. Both Wednesday's and Thursday's readings find him unambiguously referring to the rejection and repudiation of the previous covenant; and asserting the replacement of the old Gathering* of God's people by the new Gathering*. And - goodness gracious - in the next week we find "Barnabas" in the Office of Readings - a writer not known for being what S Paul would have called a Ioudaizon; the second excerpt from him begins "tauta oun katergesen"[therefore he swept all that away].

Easter is going to be a particularly difficult time for those who try to combine the use of the Liturgia Horarum with the Two Covenants dogma as well as with a prohibition on praying for the conversion of Jews. At Evening Prayer on Easter Day (and also on the Third and Fifth Sundays of Eastertide for those who are forgetful), the Preces prescribe "Israel in te Christum spei suae agnoscat". And, to reinforce this message, the Patristic Lection for Easter Monday will be a very typical and typological passage taken from the (highly supersessionist) Homily of S Melito of Sardis (worth, incidentally reading in its entirety). Those with a nose for dishonest hypocrisy may be starting to wonder why such a fuss is made about an element used in the Good Friday Liturgy of a comparatively tiny number of traddy Catholics when every Novus Ordo Latin Rite priest in the whole world who prays the post-Conciliar Office is expected to pray on Easter Sunday (and twice more in Eastertide) that "Israel may acknowledge in Thee [Jesus] the Christ/Messiah for whom it has hoped" ... and yetnot a word is said. Hush!! Don't wake up the bigots!

These lections (and preces) have the greater significance in that they are not accidental hangovers from the old Breviary; they were newly introduced (or composed) by the post-conciliar revisers. What all this clearly demonstrates is: not only did the conciliar decree fail in any way to mandate such a dogmatic revolution as the Two Covenants Dogma would have implied; but also that, as late as 1971, even those in charge of the liturgical revolution, up-to-the-moment trendies who saw themselves as the guardians and exponents of the 'Spirit of the Council', had not the faintest idea that they were supposed to be selecting patristic readings against a background of a Two Covenants Dogma. I add in 2015: the 2015 'Document' admits that "the Conciliar text is not infrequently over-interpreted, and things read into it which it does not contain ... example ... that the covenant that God made with his people Israel perdures and is never invalidated ... it cannot be explicitly read into Nostra aetate". And it goes on to date the first appearance of this idea to 1980. Nobody seems to have worried them [the post-Conciliar liturgical reformers]with the assertion that Nostra aetate made all those patristic readings unacceptable. Nor, thankfully and significantly, have successive revisions of the post-conciliar Office eliminated these passages. (Ouch ... I hope this piece of mine doesn't lead to loads of trendy bigots descending with deleting pencils on the Liturgia Horarum.) Until very recently, the supersession of the Old by the New Covenant/Testament would have seemed so clear and basic a part of the Christian hermeneutic of Scripture, the basic grammatical structure of how as Christians we read the Bible, that my examination of the texts I have just worked so laboriously through with you, would have seemed a time-wasting demonstration of the ******** obvious.

Yet there was the most almighty hooha a few years ago about the EF and its Good Friday prayer for the Jews, even including criticism of Pope Benedict XVI when he supplied a new collect strictly, even slavishly, in line with the words of Romans. And it is not unusual for Christians (both Evangelical and Catholic) who withold consent from the Two Covenants Dogma to be criticised. This is done not only by rabbinic interests naturally and understandably anxious to deter any erosion of their flocks but, perhaps more vehemently, by 'Christian' participants in inter-faith dialogue ... such as members of Councils of Christians and Jews. I wonder how balanced such groups are; in other words, I wonder whether it is only the sort of people who are ardent adherents of the novel dogma that put themselves forward for such groups; whether those who select the membership are careful to exclude Biblical Evangelicals and Patristic Catholics, so as to ensure that our Jewish brethren are protected from the risk that anyone might explain to them what two Christian millennia have taught.

I recall with wonderment the decision of the Anglican diocese of Manchester some years ago to call off the sale of a redundant church to the SSPX because of its adhesion to the traditional Good Friday prayer for the Jews. What other potential purchasers besides the SSPX would have elicited the Bishop of Manchester's  ill-judged and nutty veto? (Does he refuse to sell properties to Moslems?) Presumably that illiberal diocese keeps the Prayer Book Society** firmly under a rigorous diocesan ban; presumably the "MPs, peers, Manchester City Council" who, so the Church of England told us, were all such fierce and expert critics of the SSPX, have their eagle eyes upon the PBS too. I hope so. Otherwise we would have to suspect that the whole business was just a spiteful recrudescence of the basic old ancestral English no-Popery anti-Catholic hysteria ... of plain common and garden bigotry. Nothing has changed ... except that nowadays the English RC Church joins in the persecution.
To be continued.
**"Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so bring them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ..." Part of the Prayer Book Good Friday Oratio Sollemnis for the Jews .... and for others ...

*Greek ekklesia.

How admirably suitable! Forty Hours (1)

Good people do keep asking me what they can do about Pachamama, and other phenomena which, in their view, are difficult to reconcile with the Catholic Faith.

We are not helpless! Particularly not if you live in Birmingham!

The Birmingham Oratory is to provide a Quarant'Ore from 7.30 p.m. [High Mass] on Friday December 13 until 4.00 p.m. on the Saturday. It is an act of Reparation for acts of Idolatry. It has nothing in particular to do with current Church politics ... the dangers of Idolatry are not confined to any one pontificate.

The Forty Hours Devotion means that the Blessed Sacrament is solemnly exposed ... usually surrounded by banks of cheerful candles ... for the whole designated period. A banner used to be suspended in the entrance porch to inform those entering the Church; such things still survive (covered with dust!) in many sacristies! There is a custom, when the Host is exposed in the Monstrance, of doing a Double Genuflection ... going down on both knees rather than just on one. And, as an example of the sort of things that men do in order to be manly, the men of the parish would book themselves onto the rota of 'watchers' to do the less sociable hours from midnight, so that their womenfolk would not need to venture into the cold and, perhaps, dangerous streets. How incredibly non-pc! How dare men be so offensively patriarchal!! It should be stamped out!!!

In October 1914 ... yes! ... Fr McKee of the Brompton Oratory did a tasty little CTS booklet for the Quarant'Ore, giving useful information which I am plagiarising. He explained that this wonderfully Counter-Reformation devotion was introduced into Rome around 1550 by S Philip Neri; "it is plain from ... papal utterances that the object of the Forty Hours' Prayer is primarily not the satisfaction of the devotion of the faithful towards the Blessed Savcrament ... but the presentation of a great and efficacious appeal to Almighty God, through the sacred humanity of His Divine Son, that He would come to the succour and defence of His Church against the dangers threatening her from within and without".

To be completed tomorrow.

11 December 2019

Nostra Aetate (2): S Paul and his sungeneis

S Paul loved his fellow Jews, his 'kinsmen' and believed "the gifts and call of God are irrevocable". He believed that at the End, those among them who had rejected Christ would be brought in to the chosen people. He believed that they were like olive branches which had been cut off so that the Gentiles, wild olive branches, could be grafted in. But, when the fulness of the Gentiles had entered in, Jealousy would strike the unbelieving Jews, and they too would enter in; the severed branches would be grafted back.

In all this, we have to be careful to make clear that we are - or rather, S Paul is - talking about those Jews who have rejected their Messiah. Not all Jews. Just as so often in the OLd Testament, there is a faithful remnant, mentioned by S Paul (indeed, it included him, the other Apostles, and the Jerusalem Church): those Jews who have shown faith and obedience. So, at this stage, the Church, God's Chosen People, the True Israel, consists of a combination of the faithful, remnant, Jews, and of Gentile converts.

At the End, the complete parallelism between the Jews and the Gentiles will be manifest. All have disobeyed, so that all may receive mercy. There is no suggestion in Romans that the unbelieving Jews will 'enter in' in any other way than the Gentiles and the 'faithful remnant' Jews have entered in: by faith and obedience in Jesus Christ. S Paul's whole logic is subverted if we assume that, all along, he is keeping hidden up his sleeve the somewhat relevant fact that the Jews do not, after all, need through Faith the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ at all. If that had been true, why did S Paul bother trying to convert them? Why did he become all things to all men, now behaving like a Jew and now living the Gentile life, if  'saving' some Jews matters not at all because they will in any case enter in on the grounds of what they already had before the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection? Why, throughout Acts, do we find him enduring every hardship, every tribulation, in his attempt to convert Jews ... as well as Gentiles?

'Ed' Sanders, who initiated the 'new look' in Pauline studies back in the eighties, was a liberal who thought that the whole Pauline construct of Judaism ultimately entering in by faith in Jesus Christ was insupportable in a modern context. But he was compelled to admit that this is what S Paul did mean.

The teaching of S Paul is not, as the media cheerfully and repeatedly inform us, something peculiar to unreconstructed, 'extreme' Catholics. The doctrinal standard of the Church of England set by Parliamentary statute is still the Book of Common Prayer. (Although alternatives are now legally available for use, and [like the Novus Ordo in the Catholic Church] are used in the overwhelming majority of congregations, they do not enjoy the same entrenched status as the Prayer Book.) The Prince of Wales, incidentally, is Patron of a Society which campaigns for its continued use in church. And the Prayer Book, on Good Friday, asks God to "Have mercy upon all Jews ... and [to] take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of [his] Word: and so [to] fetch them home ... to [his] flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ... ". I wonder why nobody bothers to make a fuss about this? Why don't Vincent Nichols and his associates demand that Parliament change this 'offensive' text? Why don't they get excited about the Byzantine texts for Good Friday? They seem, strangely, to have chip on their shoulders about either the Extraordinary Form; or Pope Benedict XVI; or both.

To be continued.

The Old Munster Circuit is alive and well

I have long been intrigued by Churchill's celebrated aphorism that Britain and the US are two nations divided by a common language. Recent news suggests its abiding relevance.

If you are an impecunious non-American, and an American billionaire accuses you of being a 'pedo', there is no point in your suing him for libel in the American Courts. After the most scrupulous philological enquiries, the jury, thank goodness, will find him not guilty.

This reminds me of an anecdote in that wonderfully funny collection, Maurice Healy's The Old Munster Circuit. A judge called Richard Adams dismissed a prisoner with the words "You have been acquitted by a Limerick jury, and you may leave the dock without any other stain upon your character".

Perhaps I shouldn't have written this daring and subversive post. Perhaps it will result in my being kidnapped and taken by Extraordinary Rendition to some dark and dingy corner of the Americanosphere where I will have to undergo Enhanced Interrogation, and possibly even be denied all reading matter other than the Collected Speeches of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

It's all very strange. Every American I have ever met has, with no exceptions apart from the officials in Homeland Security, been gracious, decent, and civilised; generous, amusing, and intelligent.

However have I alone been so lucky?

10 December 2019

Nostra Aetate (1)

The German and English episcopates remarkably decided in 2015 to mount in collaboration an attack on the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews which Pope Benedict XVI composed and authorised (ONLY FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM) in 2008.

Accordingly, I have decided to reprint, over some days,  a series of posts which I printed some little time ago. My usual posts should appear in the mornings; this old series in the evening (Greenwich Mean Time ... I mean, our Greenwich).

Since the Council, an idea has been spreading that Judaism is not superseded by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; that Jews still have available to them the Covenant of the old Law, by which they can be saved. It is therefore unnecessary for them to turn to Christ; unnecessary for anybody to convert them to faith in Christ. Indeed, attempting to do so is an act of aggression not dissimilar to the attempt of Nazi Germany to exterminate that people. This is sometimes called the Two Covenant Theory.

This view is widespread among non-Catholic 'Ecumenists', and is increasingly taken for granted even within the Church by the professional 'Ecumenism' industry. It is suggested that this doctrine is mandated by the Council. And, underlying, reinforcing it, is the guilt felt by many in Western Society about the Shoah; and the determination of extremist interests to characterise anybody who dissents from this growing consensus as 'Anti-Semitic'. I had better say at once that my father served in two wars, the second fought against Nazism; that I was all of four years old when Hitler died; and I am dashed if I am going to be made to feel guilty for what Hitler did to the Jews and nervously rewrite my own beliefs so as not to offend some of them. Any more than I would consider it appropriate for the intellectuals of Tel a Viv to regard themselves as obliged to feel personally guilty for what the Turks did to the Armenians.

The Conciliar Decree Nostra aetate is central here, and is commonly cited as evidence that the Catholic Church now imposes the new consensus upon all Catholics; that anybody who attempts to evade this must be a holocaust-denier or even a crypto-lefebvreist (Lefebvre's father, incidentally, died in a German concentration camp ... I wonder how many of those who throw his name around as a term of abuse have as close a connection as he did to the Nazi death machine). A reading of the relevant sections of this document soon reveals that it does not come within a million miles of suggesting that the Jews are the only people who do not need Christ; or that the Jews are the only people to whom the Gospel should not be offered. It speaks with admirable force against anti-Jewish prejudice and discrimination; it rightly demands that the Jews should not be regarded as uniquely responsible for the killing of God Incarnate.

Two phrases in Nostra aetate might lead someone to suppose the novel dogma to be intended. The Jews, the Council says, should not be presented as 'reprobati' or 'maledicti'; rejected or cursed. Indeed, they should not. This phrase simply puts the Jews in the same position as every other race. They have "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" ... just as each and every other race and every individual has done. But God has not placed them under some unique condemnation, any more than he has, say, the French or the Hottentots. They do not have some particular curse put upon them, any more than Chinese or Americans do. God's mercy is as available to them as it is to French, Hottentots, Chinese, and Americans; and on the same light and gracious terms. The paragraph concerned (4) needs to be read through to its end, which is a glorious passage about the all-embracing love of Christ, his death for all, the duty of Christians to preach the cross as Mercy for all. The Council Fathers make no suggestion that this applies to every human being, to every human grouping  ... except to the Jews. A number of other Conciliar documents talk about Faith, Mercy, Grace, the Gospel, as being for all, or all nations, or whatever. Are we seriously expected to believe that, in each case, the Conciliar Fathers expected us automatically to understand the tacit qualification and gloss {"except, of course, the Jews"}?

The other passage is Romans 11:28-29, a passage also cited in Lumen Gentium, which I plan to discuss in the context of the teaching of S Paul.

I think it is worth adding pro tanto that, in Tissier de Mallerais' admirable biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, I have not found any suggestion that the Archbishop had any problems with what Nostra aetate teaches about Judaism ... as he did and many others did with Dignitatis humanae, the document on Religious Liberty. Had the Council really reversed 1900 years of Christian doctrine about the status of Judaism, it is hard to believe that its critics in the SSPX and elsewhere would have failed to spot it and noisily to denounce such a radical doctrinal change. For the last half-century such people have been neither asleep nor quiescent. They have not been particularly inclined to gloss over problems in Conciliar documents. But neither in Archbishop Lefebvre's They Have Uncrowned Him nor in the correspondence between Fr Aidan Nichols and an adherent of the SSPX have I found any problem being raised about the section of Nostra Aetate which relates to the Jews.