30 November 2020


A mighty feast of a mighty intercessor et rector: today, in 1554, that great Englishman of the Blood Royal, Reginald Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterrbury and Legate of the Holy See, absolved the Lords and Commons of this Kingdom from Heresy and Schism.

More later.

29 November 2020


So whence cometh the addition of the word one into the formula? It is present in the old, bad, ICEL rendering. But it has an earlier history than that, as Sons and Daughters of the Anglican Patrimony will be clamouring to explain. And that is why one is present in the Ordinariate Divine Worship Missal (which, incidentally, will not be affected by George's decree).

I think English worshippers will first have met it on Whit-Sunday morning n 1549. They heard, at the end of the perpetual memorial pro Rege near the start of The Supper of the Lorde and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse. "... Through Jesus Christe oure Lorde, who with thee, and the holy ghoste, liveth and reigneth, ever one God, worlde without ende. Amen."

In fact, the literate but combustible Cranmer did 'the 1549 book' in a great hurry, and there are a lot of different versions of this formula. Most often, however, he simply wrote "liveth and reigneth etc.." leaving the rest to the celebrant (these "etc" collects stayed thus until 1662). In fact, a few seconds earlier, in the Pentecost collect, the bemused congregations will have heard " ...who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unitie of the same spirite, one God, worlde without ende."

That Whit-Sunday experience of  Cranmer's incomparable prose led, of course, directly into the Western Rebellion and the consequent Tudor genocide. But that is not today's story.

Why did he add one or Ever one God? Perhaps we should remember the Athanasian Creed, thus translated by Cranmer: "So the father is God, the sonne God: and the holye gost God. And yet they are not three Goddes: but one God". After the enumeration of the Three Persons, perhaps Cranmer felt it appropriate to make clear that "the whole three persones: be coeternall together and coequall."

We should remember that the unLatinate would not have the grammatical number and case of Deus to guide them into realising that it is 'in agreement with' the antecedent qui. 

I do have a further suggestion.

Cranmer had a genius for being able to recall in English, not only the sense, but also the sounds of his Latin originals. Vere dignum et iustum est became It is very meet and right ... And monosyllabic God is less euphonious, and less easy to sing to the traditional notes, than ever one God.

None of this affects me personally. I do not say the Novus Ordo, either in Latin or in English. But there is one final oddity about George's decree which I will share with you. 

" ... in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God ..."

As I wrote a few moments ago, we, the Latinate, know what Deus refers back to, bcause of things like case, gender, number, drilled into us early in life. But there may yet be people without our educational advantages ... people in remote peripheral places beyond the reach of World Beating education and m'tutor ... little gatherings of whitewashed cabins at the ends of muddy tracks ... where the only visitor is ever the green An Phost van ... the rich peat smoke rising from the chimneys ... the sort of spot that is for ever quintessentially Cork or Kerry or Kensington ...

In such idyllic spots, the unLatinate peasantry, ungrammared though simple and  wholesome, may be misled by George and his "Holy Spirit God" into thinking that "God" qualifies, not "Your Son", but "Holy Spirit".

I think we may be in a slightly Oops situation ...

28 November 2020

ADVENT SUNDAY = LITURGICAL CHANGE (This needs a little Latin) (1)

Well, that's how it was in the 1960s. The Congregation for Divine Worship keeps this venerable tradition going, and, tomorrow, Advent Sunday (as we call it in the Patrimony), a new decree comes to us from the CDW via those always reliable messengers, the CBCEW.

It come with a Rationale signed by +George Stack, who I know must be Irish because, in the name George, the minuscule r is written majuscule R, more Hibernico. I am very pro-Irish.

It concerns the way we end Collects in vernacular forms of the Roman Rite. The basic Latin is:

Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Archbishop George describes this as 'doxological', which I don't think is quite right, But we'll let that pass.

The point of the Decree is that, in the hitherto English ICEL translation of this formula, the Deus is translated "one God". From today henceforth, the "one" is to be omitted.

A paragraph explains the reason for this. Sadly, as a Convert, I often don't quite understand the finer and richer points of Catholic Theology. The CDW point seems to be that the hitherto rendering suggests that "Jesus ... is one god among many". Because I don't understand this, we'll let it pass. But I will remind you that I have a great admiration for the S John Paul era document Liturgiam authenticam. And the new CDW requirement follows that document in conforming the English translation verbatim et litteratim to the Latin. So I can hardly be too critical of that, can I?

Apparently, foreigners don't add "one" to their vernaculars. But ... some of you will be squealing ... we're leaving the EU ...

I'll finish this tomorrow. But one completely non-ironic query: Jungmann says (with scant evidence) that the deus entered the formula in the late Middle Ages. George Stack says that the "doxological phrase was coined in Africa during the fourth century as a means to combat the Arian heresy". Does anyony have the facts about this?

27 November 2020

More Lovely

Poor old gentleman. "Palmist", indeed!

Does he ever visit "Pie-chiatrists"? 

Has he got a Pew-donym"?

Were his electoral adventures monitored by Peff-ologists"?

Hardly any wonder that he has problems understanding the teaching of the Church about "Abortion"? Do you think he knows what "Abortion" is? Or does he confuse the female body with Polish soup?

Betcha, he's never read Wodehouse's Psmith ("the P is silent") books.

God bless, er, America.

Is his pset psarrot infected with Pitta-cosis??

Lock him up.

Strike them down, O lord, and lay them low (2)

According to the ancient Carmelite dialect of the Roma Rite, the Devotion for the Recovery of Terra Sancta does not begin until after the Elevation of the Chalice; and it is done, not a prostratis, but ab utroque choro genuflexo alternatim. It is used, roughly, at conventual Masses during Advent and Gesimatide, but not during Eastertide or certain penitential days. The texts (1621) are quite differen from those of Sarum. I give a translated summary here, but enough to enable anybody who cares to, to put the devotion together again. 

The Psalm is the majestic and haunting Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi. 

After Gloria Patri ... Kyrie ... Pater ...

V  O Lord, save the King

R And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

V O Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance.

R And govern them and lift them up for ever.

V Peace be within thy walls.

R And plenteousness within thy palaces.

V O Lord, hear our prayer  ...   V The Lord be with you ...

Let us pray. 

 Three prayers follow; 

(1) We beseech thee, O Lord, hear the prayers of thy Church: that, all adversities and errors being put down, she may serve thee in untroubled freedom.

(2) We beseech thee, O Lord, shatter the pride of our enemies both seen and unseen, and with the strength of thy right hand lay their defiance low.

(3) is 'God, from whom all holy desires ...', which those of the Patrimony will recognise; it came into the Anglican Divine Office as the memoria perpetua pro pace at Evensong, from the Sarum Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All three are in the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary; that is, in the great compendious Prayer-hoard of the Latin Church. When a  particular need arose, those were the days when a clerk dived into that immense resource and found some hard-hitting  and suitable formulae. This was the time before the advent of Liturgical Committees and Commissions and all the other clever-clever dreary layabouts, who respond to "new" needs by sitting down with a pencil and trying to devise fancy and 'relevant' formulae. 

These three old prayers have a penetrating directness about them ... destructis has resonances of pulling a building right down to the ground; elide suggests crushing and shattering; prosterne brings to mind a picture of our enemies flattened with their proud noses well down in the mud. 

Perhaps this is the sort of robust euchological spirit we are going to need as we enter upon this new period of ever more tyrannous oppression.

26 November 2020

Strike them down, Lord, and lay them low. (1)

The Leonine Prayers at the foot of the Altar after Mass represent a distictively nineteenth century way of dealing with a perceived need to seek urgent divine interventions in particular necessities. And, of course, there was always the possibility of saying a Votive or of adding additional Votive 'commemorations' to the proper prayers of the Day. (Not to mention the possibilities offered by the Litany form ... how very flexible our Western Liturgy has been.) 

But there was once a practice which brought such ad hoc impetrations into the very heart of the Liturgy itself. Surviving texts look rather like responses to the occupation of Terra Sancta by Islamic forces. And, in terms of liturgical logic, they may not be a million miles away from the motive ascribed by Canon Arthur Couratin to the inclusion of Intercessions in the Byzantine Anaphora at the point they now occupy there; i.e., we secure the Presence of Almighty God upon the Altar so that we can then make use of It to tell Him what we want.

Thus, at Sarum. on certain days, the community was prostrate after the Santus; then, after the Libera nos and before the Pax ...; Psalms 78, 66, and 20 were recited 'in prostratione'; followed by Kyrie ... and Pater ..., versicles and responses; and three collects expressing this intention: ut Terram quam Unigenitus Filius tuus proprio sanguine consecravit, de manibus inimicorum crucis Christi eripiens, restituas cultui Christiano ...

A second part of this will describe the ancient Carmelite devotions.

In the splendid  Altar-ready Sarum Missal produced this year by a learned and devout priest, you will find this provision on pages 330-331. I also gratefully thank Gregory diPippo for setting me on this track.

Psalms are numbered according to the Vulgate. 

25 November 2020


I think ... you could evidentially falsify this if you want to be a spoil-sport ... that the leader of our current de facto regime here in Blighty has recently abandoned two of his favourite 'hot air' rhetorical phrases, World-Class and World-Beating.

A pity. I loved them. They gave me a warm sense of familiarity, and they always had the capacity to set my mind wandering. "World-Beating Health Service" ... Really? Is it quite as bad as that? And then I would construct fantasies of Bojo gazing into camera with that direct, mesmerising look of utterly convincing frank sincerity, and mouthing phrases like:

"Our World-Class radio-active dumps."

"Our World-Beating criminal classes."

"Our World-Class utterly terrible books on Churchill." 

"Our World-Beating National Hypocrisy."

"Our World-Beating Russian Oligarchs."

Et similia.

24 November 2020


The news about the successful  Oxford University Corona vaccine seems to be a matter of considerable rejoicing, except among American providers who had been planning to sell their own vaccines at eight times the price. 

At this very same moment, the University of Cambridge (of Cambridgeshire in Anglia) has informed the Tab Plods that it has lost the diaries of Charles Darwin. Or it thinks it must have done. Some time within the last two decades. If anybody remembers spotting someone, during that period, walking off with ... ...  

There must be a sermon somewhere in this. Or ... better ... a limerick?



Our present head of regime has launched a whole flotilla ... at least a thousand ships ... of important new 'green' initiatives.

Why do I say a thousand?

Because the Media claim that this is all the result of the powerful influence of his current maitresse en titre

Very probably. I suspect that the Slaves of Clio, when they come write up this period, may indeed categorise the lady (purely in the political sense) as a Lady Castlemaine rather than as a Nell Gwynne. When he tires of her, I wonder if he will give her a dukedom for his parting gift. 

As he moves on, perhaps he will honour his progeny by her with the authentically Norman French surname ffitzbojo.


Last Saturday, The Times, once regarded as the organ of the Btitish Establishment and occasionally referred to as The Thunderer, contained a review by one of its retained columnists referring, obiter et iocose, to the head of regime ... a 'Conservative' politician ... as a "sex maniac". I wonder if this is a first ...

The latest scandal in which he has been involved, refusing to sack a senior female minister found to have broken the Ministerial Code, led one civil servant to comment: "We've always been used in this country to a 'good chap' system of government; that people will do the right thing in the end. This shows that Johnson doesn't play by those rules."

23 November 2020

SLAVERY ... Queries

(1) ... I put this forward ... no agenda ... just out of curiosity ... Which Saints do we know to have been slave-owners? Saint Philemon, I seem to recall, is on the Byzantine Calendar. And I have one or two other totally tentative enquiries:

(2) Why is there no splendid, eye-catching, monument to those coastal inhabitants of South-West England, whose villages were raided by Algerian Corsairs and who were kidnapped and sold into slavery? (I would nominate Carn Brae, the First and Last Hill, overlooking Land's End; it would be a help to the flagging Cornish tourist industry. It could sell cheap replica Arab currency from the Slavery period, together with other tawdry trinkets of the sort that the lower orders rather enjoy. 'Escape from Your Arab Slaver' games based loosely on the Monopoly principle would be a big hit. Children could be given 'Arab slave manacle' sets to play with. 'Slaver Whips' might interest those with exotic tastes. Wealthier and transpontine tourists would willingly purchase models of Arab slaving ships. Internet games enabling one to target and sink incoming corsairs ... etc. etc..)

(3) Is there a monument near Lepanto commemorating the glorious liberation of the Christian (and other) galley slaves exploited by the Turks? Where could I find video-clips of Mr Erdogan apologising for the galley-slave system? (What a shame Papa Montini, such a silly man, gave those Lepanto banners back to Brother Turk: they could have featured in a Lepanto Liberation Shrine.)

(4) I feel pretty sure the Incas and the Aztecs will have had slaves. Did slaves number among those who were flayed alive and viventes had their hearts cut out? What monuments exist commemorating the admirable elimination by Catholic Spain of these horrible indigenous cultures, resulting in the liberation of their slaves?

(5) What massive international studies are on hand into the African chieftains who enslaved members of 'lesser' tribes, and sold them on to the dealers, who then disposed of them to European slave traders? What are the Slavery connections of the Benin Bronzes culture? When will the bronzes be melted down and the bronze used for a great Monument erected to British sailors who lost their lives in putting down the slave trade?

(6) What stage has been reached in the campaign to have Washington (and Washington) renamed? Are there any countries so politically incorrect as to have portraits of Slaver Washington on their wretched currencies? Could we have him postumously tried for treason, and his remains hung up at Tyburn? Why don't we have annual celebrations of this infamous man's demise, centred on bonfires made up of cherry trees and with Washington effigies on top ... processions ... street parties ... on the day of his death?

21 November 2020

The Pope, the Rabbis, and the Anglican bishop.

The Beeb, dear raddled old whore, has a sweet little 'religion' slot on the Home Service each weekday morning, called ... not A Word of Prophecy, not Speaking Truth to Power ... but (how very English!) Thought for the Day. Recently it was done by one of those jolly Anglican bishops who are happy to 'oblige' for the Meejah on the implicit understanding that they won't attack the Zeitgeist.

As many such people tend to do, this bishop celebrated the demise of a Significant Person by doing a nudge-nudge-wink-wink-I-knew-him act. He did this by pouncing on the late, great, Rabbi Lord Sacks ... who "said to me 'James, do you know what are the three most extraordinary words of Jesus?'"

The answer is But I say (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 44). Why I find the exchange interesting is that exactly this same perception is discussed at some length in Joseph Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth, where the author dialogues with Rabbi Jacob Neussner about the Sermon on the Mount.

Of course, there are such complications as possible Coincidence. But I feel reasonably sure that Sacks had read the Ratzinger ... and that the bishop hadn't.

And further ... I think Lord Sacks, who was nobody's fool, knew that the bishop would not have read Ratzinger!!

Ho, d'you think, Ho Ho? I do.


Well, it is fairly obvious that the head of regime is not going to honour his nod-nod wink-wink undertaking to Sir Edward Leigh to get the Churches open again. He is not a man of honour. But did any man or woman ever think ...

If I could make a single minor liturgical change this very morning, it would be to give today's lovely Festival of our Lady's Presentation in the Temple its old Byzantine name of her Entry Into the Temple, ad perpetuam memoriam of the year when Public Worship was proscribed in this kingdom for the first time since the eighteenth century. 

May our Lady pray for our country, that we may be delivered from tyranny.

20 November 2020

Dix Updated to Petroleum

Last June, 'Archbishop' Justin ("Buy my Crude! Sixpence a barrel!") Welby was asked about the 'politically incorrect' monuments and memorials which clutter up most of England's historical churches and cathedrals. (Vide The Times 10 November 2020)

"Some will have to come down, some names will have to change. The Church, goodness me, you just go round Canterbury Cathedral and there are monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey. We are looking at all that, and some will have to come down."

A lovely passage, in which incoherent syntax precisely matches buffoonery of content.

I feel that the time has come for me to update for you some words (1944) of Dom Gregory Dix about Anglican Bishops. You will easily spot where I have arrogantly tampered with his finer original.

"Even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the 'Whig grandee' bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' bishops of the nineteeenth still had something for which the well-meaning attempts of a gasolene salesman to appear Woke do not always quite compensate. It was a dignified tradition, with much of solid good about it, despite its gaps. But ... the loss of the old otium cum dignitate has brought with it a lowering of the general level of clerical scholarship, which counted for a good deal in the building up of that particular tradition."

POST SCRIPTUM Which monuments, according to Oilby, must 'change their names'? Nelson, perhaps, to be renamed 'Hamilton'? Nominations are invited.


[BTW ... on November 9 I let nostagia for an Anglicanism which still lingered on into the 1970s get the better of me. A friend has kindly sent me a 1972 video of Exeter Cathedral, which includes clips of the Rt Revd the Father in God Robert Cecil Mortimer, almost at the end of his long pontificate, solemnly administering Holy Orders in his Cathedral Church of S Peter. I hope the friend who sent it will provide a link to it.] 


19 November 2020

Little Liturgical Notes

In the statement by Arcbishops Nichols and McMahon (Wednesday 4 November), the two gentlemen called for a day of Prayer for the ending of the pandemic on "the Vigil of Christ the King (21st November)".

(1) How jolly. I had thought that Vigils, except as Saturday evening celebrations of the Sunday Mass (called a vigil mass), had been abolished in the course of the post-Conciliar disorders. It is always jolly to see the Bishops moving back behind Bugnini.

(2) In fact, November 21 is the Feast of the Presentation of our Lady in the Temple, not to be confused with February 2, the Feast once called the Purification of the BVM but renamed by Bugnini the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This November 21 festival has a rather low rank on Western Calendars, but is one of the Great Feasts in the Byzantine Rite. It celebrates the presentation of the three-year-old Mary to the Temple, where she stayed until puberty, being fed with paradisal food by angels. As befitted her unfallen state. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that there are conceptual links between this festival and that of the Immaculate Conception.

Yes, you did read my words aright.  At a time when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is strictly proscribed in our churches, we shall be celebrating ... the Entry into, and lengthy sojourn within, the Temple at Jerusalem, by our blessed Lady.

There must be a joke somewhere here. Can somebody help?

I wonder if some sweet little sharp-eyed labourer in the Liturgy Office of the CBCEW advised their Lordships against referring to November 21 by the title of our Lady's festival. 

We wouldn't want the Lower Clergy, would we, to have a laugh at the bishops' expense!

18 November 2020

Restoration at Ripon Minster

On 18 November 1569, a thousand and a half horsemen gathered in the market place in Ripon, under the Standard of (almost certainly) the Arms of Christ: the Five Wounds of our Redeemer. It had been embroidered by a daughter of 'Old Norton', the Sheriff of Yorkshire, the menfolk of whose family were prominent in events which preceded and followed. 

One of those present had been complicit in plots to rescue the Queen's Majesty of Scotland, who was imprisoned in nearby Bolton Castle. 

The insurgents marched off and took Barnard Castle, and a little later the Old Religion was magnificently restored in Durham Cathedral. But it all ended in tears; Bloody Bess issued orders to "make the examples great in Ripon and Tadcaster", and two Nortons were martyred at Tyburn.

Someone who got off comparatively lightly was Sir Thomas Blackburn, chantry priest at Ripon Minster, records of whom span the period 1540-1570, making him a sort of parallel figure to Duffy's Parson Trickay. He was among those who, at Elizabeth Tudor's accession, carefully stored away in a vault some 49 Catholic liturgical books. He also, together with four other of the Minster's Vicars, hid altar stones and secreted underground a number of English alabaster tablets (including the Resurrection and the Coronation of our Lady) which must have been elements in the reredoses of altars. 

Before the Rising, he  had been in trouble for failing to 'take down' the stone Altars, and admitted to performing Catholic Sacramentals, such as Churchings. He strenuously denied removing objects of idolatry from the Church: his protestations were presumably made with a good conscience, since he had not removed them but carefully buried them! After the Rising, in 1570, he was found guilty of offering the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and other Catholic liturgical activity. He was fined ten marks (£6 13s 4d) and ordered to do public penance in a white sheet. I wonder how a fine of ten marks would correspond, in real terms, to the fines available to the current regime for those pulicly offering Mass.

Trickay in Devon, Tregear in Cornwall, Blackburn in Yorkshire ... and how many hundreds others ... clerics and laics ... the good men who were not among the martyrs. They just did their best and kept their fingers crossed and hoped for better times. They are a special category who should surely not be forgotten (especially in the Ordinariates).

As S John Henry put it: "It took a long time to do [the Reformation] thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last it was done. ... What a martyrdom to live in it and see the fair form of Truth, moral and material, hacked piecemeal, and every limb and organ carried off, and burned in the fire, or cast into the deep! But at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of and shovelled away ..."

17 November 2020

The Holy Father Speaks

"Non temo nulla, agisco in nome e per conto di nostro Signore. Son' un incosciente? Difetto di un po'di prudenza? Non saprei cosa dire. Mi guida l'instinto e lo Spirito Santo."

Being a mere convert, and not even a Beda man, my Italian is extremely poor. I append below the best translation I can manage, after much labour, of these recent words of PF, in the hope that a competent linguist will be able to correct any nuances I've got wrong.

So here goes.

"I do not have the faintest idea about the nature of the Office I hold. I simply regard it as a sort of nursery playpen in which I can throw my toys around, or smash them up, whenever and however the mood takes me. Waaaaaahhh ... "



16 November 2020

Abuse, Westminster, and Manipulation

Last Sunday morning, the Sunday progamme, anchored by Ed Stourton (of an old Recusant family; he married in the Brompton Oratory but later 'remarried' a Beeb colleague ...  I once heard him say that he accepted the Church's teaching in a 'nuanced' way).

They discussed, of course, the IICSA report on Abuse in the English Catholic Church. And, of course, there was the inevitable call for Vincent Nichols' resignation. 

I can only say how very glad I am that PF has asked Nichols to carry on beyond his recent 75th Birthday. And that I think it does the Cardinal much credit that he is willing to do so. He deserves praise, prayers, and support. Not calumny. 

We all think we know how manipulative abusers are ... but perhaps not many of you have actually witnessed this at first hand, as I, very sadly, have. If you haven't, you just can't imagine how skilful and sophisticated that manipulation is. 

You can get a glimpse of it from reading the McCarrick Report. My experience related to the Anglican episcopal abuser Peter Ball ... and McCarrick brought back to me vivid memories of Ball's manipulations.

In 1982 he accepted a Police Warning [i.e. he pleaded guilty in return for not being prosecuted]. This was widely reported, and one newspaper carried extensive documented accounts (including his letters) of his career of abuse. I lodged copies of this material in the College Archive. 

The scheming and plotting by his admirers for his rehabilitation began more or less the day after his full admission of guilt.

I informed the Principal of the College, a place with which Ball maintained a close relationship, of what I had put in the Archives. 

There was a long silence.

Then he said: "I think that was inappropriate." I replied: "On the contrary, it was most appropriate." After another pause, he added: "John, I think you should know this. Bishop Peter only pleaded guilty in order to prevent a public trial from damaging the Church's reputation". 

When the diocesan bishop who first nominated Ball to the episcopate (a Canon Lawyer with judicial experience) came to publish his memoires (2005), he described events thus: "Although it was not realized at the time, the circumstances which led to his early resignation were the work of mischief-makers. It was a very sad end to his ministry and his departure was a real loss to the Church which was, no doubt what those who brought it about intended."

However, it was not an 'end' to Ball's 'ministry'.

During the decades that followed, I saw the gradual skilled reintegration of this truly dreadful man into the life of the C of E with the authorities of the C of E going along with it at every stage. Although he had publicly and with legal form admitted his guilt!!! After I retired from teaching in 2001, when I  heard a rumour that he was to preach in a certain public school I wrote to the head master there advising against this, but never received even the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

Furthermore: those dealing with errant clergy have to remember that there can be such things as mendacious accusers. And that nobody should be convicted of anything without proof 'beyond reasonable doubt'. 

In that position, you are rather like somebody with at least one and a half of his hands tied behind his back. 

And, last November 12, I ventured to remind readers of this blog that Nichols, despite now being pilloried, only had responsibility for the places where (and when) he was diocesan bishop.

I think 'the Cardinal' deserves fairer treatment.

15 November 2020

Was Dorothy Sayers an anti-semite?

That is a nasty old bullying question. When addresed to admirers of Dorothy Sayers, a nervous answer is often given beginning "Yes, but".

That irritates me. Yes, you're right, I am far too easily irritated.

An apologist for Sayers might often go on to say that it is wrong to judge a writer by the standards of a different age. I disagree profoundly with this, not just because I think that the Standards of Today can be very misguided, but mainly because I think it gets Sayers wrong. 

I will take Whose Body, a book to which I have recently referred. And simply point out that it is the Upper Class Freke who is the murderer ... the Caucasian, the Brilliant Surgeon, the Great Mind, the man whose skill and brilliance all admire. The Clubman and the assured member of an exclusive Establishment. A valued and honoured associate of the Royal Family. The skilled Alpinist who has clear blue eyes; one of the Great and the Good. The scion of an old gentry family and educated at Harrow and Trinity Cambridge. But morally, he is hopelessly flawed and he is a ruthless murderer without an atom of scruple. 

The goody of the narrative is Sir Reuben Levy, the murderee. He is given ... by Thirties conventions ... an unmistakably Jewish character: he is hard-working, has a skilful eye for money, and is immensely devoted to his family. Another financier says of him "He's  decent old domestic bird ... he's straight enough--he'd do you down fast enough, but he wouldn't let you down." One prostitute says to another "It's no good wasting your time with him--that's Levy--I knew him when I lived in the West End, and the girls used to call him Seagreen Incorruptible."

I wonder if a Man from Mars might feel that, if any criticism were to be launched at Sayers, it would be fairer to attack her for pro-semitic prejudice.

Or is the problem that people consider it unacceptable ever to hint at traditional national or racial characterisations, whether factual or (as so very often) fictional? A dear old nursery rhyme taught generations of happy toddlers that Welshmen were thieves. Are we beyond the pale if we allude (even in the most distanced way) to old stereotypes suggesting that Germans are humourless or Americans loud-mouthed? That Italians are bottom-pinchers and the Dutch immoderately given to self-abuse? That the Irish can, and do, talk the hind-leg off a donkey? That the Scots are stingy? That English ...

What sort of prison do they want to lock us up in?

There is one point in the novel where critics of Sayers might ... ill-advisedly ... be tempted to pounce. She uses an old term, at that time a very insulting term (although now, I suspect, obsolete) to refer to Levy.  'Sheeny'. (Or am I supposed to write Sh**ny?)

But this is put into the mouth of a medical student, the "local funny man", and it is repeated "not without embarrassment". What, I think, is going on here is that Sayers is putting 'on the record' the fact that a corpse being dissected in a teaching hospital was Jewish (of course, it will turn out to be Sir Reuben's). An obvious way of doing this would be to reveal, in plain speech, that it was circumcised. But Sayers' publisher, after reading her first draft, forbade her to use that means of identification. Hence this ingeniously circuitous procedure (it would be fun to read her original version of the novel ... is it available?). 

Wimsey finally summarises: " ... Levy--who was nobody twenty years ago--romps in and carries off Freke's girl from under his nose. It isn't the girl Freke would bother about--it's having his aristocratic nose put out by a little Jewish nobody ... Freke isn't troubled by the usual conscientious deterrent."

Oops ... somebody will now accuse me of anti-semitism for daring to transcribe such a phrase as "little Jewish nobody". Jackbooted Wokes will haul me before the Volksgericht ...

14 November 2020

Quomodo WOKE dicimus Latine?

Vel (si mavis) Graece?

"La Synodalite c'est moi"

Thus Massimo Faggioli now sarcastically writes about PF in La Croix, Mr Mickens' little organ. Since PF's reaction to the Amazon Synod, which lots of people found inadequate, the feeling seems to be arising in some circles that PF is no longer quite doing what they wanted and expected of him. As Faggioli makes clear, structural changes in the ministry, involving a married presbyterate and a women's ministry, were expected. Instead (and I am surprised that so little atention has been paid to this) PF strongly emphasised the necessity for sacerdotal ministries to be solely open to males. So, instead of that particular door being edged slightly open, it has been slammed even more firmly shut. Should an imaginary future pope wish to make such changes, he would be obliged to find a way round the utterances of S Paul VI, of S John Paul II, and also those of Pope Francis. This, for some, is distinctly Not What The Doctor Ordered.

Having been enthusiastic ultrahyperpapalists when they thought PF was their pliable instrument, these people are growing more and more tetchy.

And I suspect that there is also an awkwardness with regard to the "German Synod". This initiative was publicised loudly by Brother Teuton as being "binding". What that means is that Diocesan Bishops would be expected to obey it. But the legislation left in place by Benedict XVI and Mueller emphasised the principle that a Diocesan Bishop cannot be overruled in an Episcopal Conference. If a Conference is unanimous, then, by definition, its teaching is the teaching of each individual bishop. But if an item fails to reach unanimity, then the matter has to be referred to the Holy See. Thus the 'binding synod' is a crude, bully-boy way of trying to get round the restrictions attached to episcopal conferences. 

Those restrictions are themselves expressions of the autonomy (within bounds) of the 'local church', which, in Catholic Theology means not a 'National Church' but a diocesan church, the Bishop with his Presbyters, his Deacons, and his laos.

 I would not be at all surprised if it were to transpire that Cardinal Ladaria, Prefect of the CDF, has explained this to PF.

PF is manifestly uneasy about this Germanic grab for power which contradicts sound and established Catholic Ecclesiology.

What now follows is a post I published on 12 October, itself quoting a post of October 5. 

With my usual admirable prescience, on Monday October 5, I wrote:

"Some of you might not like the following bit. PF seems to me less focussed on slandering Traddy clergy than he used to be in his old, carefree days. ... some orthodox edicts have emerged from the CDF with PF's say-so. Could it be ... has he belatedly realised that high church clerics and ecclesiastical millinery are no longer the Enemy's main threat ..."

According to La Croix, Mr Robert Mickens, formerly of The Tablet before the 'Rat's funeral' episode, is (like Baby in Private Eye) Very Angry.

"Should one criticise the pope -- for any reason whatever -- the Francis groupies and self-appointed interpreters of his every thought and action will brand that fratello (or sorella) as an ideologue. 

"'My pope, right or wrong.' That is understandable.

"But if you look at the pope's fiercest defenders, at least at those who seem to spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, the motto has turned into 'My pope is never wrong.'

"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. But he is only a human being. And like all human beings, he can be wrong. In fact, he has shown in the past -- as in the case of sex abuse in Chile, as just one example -- that he can be spectacularly and devastatingly wrong.

"His aides and so-called friends and fans do him no favours by jumping through hoops to defend him when his words and actions are indefensible."

Well, so you read it here first. PF is now apotheosed into being yet another of the Gods That Failed.

I simply adore the word "BUT" (vide supra). It is a glorious sparkling poppet of a word.

"You have worked for this firm for 38 years; always first into the office and the last to leave; your devotion led to the break-down of your marriage. And you have never sought pay rises. You are popular and have no enemies. The firm could not have survived its last crisis without your incredible sacrifice of yourself to its interests. BUT I am going to have to ... as we say ... 'let you go' ..."

"BUT" discounts in advance every consideration the victim might ... if allowed Parrhesia ... have advanced; "BUT" means "All the stuff I've just said is irrelevant, so don't bother to say it; only what follows is valid."

I like to imagine that the great Harry Clarke (whose luminous jewel-like glass in so many of her churches is one of Ireland's greatest glories) would have portrayed "BUT" (although an asomaton pneuma) as a darkly purple-winged figure with shining, black, inexorable eyes and a pitiless upraised right hand about to perform execution with a sharp and two-edged sword.

"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. BUT"

Mr Mickens never wrote a truer word. 


13 November 2020

Have they uncrowned Him?

On November 4, the Archbishops of Westminster and Liverpool wrote again about the proscription, in the parts East of Offa's Dyke within this Kingdom of England, of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

I would have no real objection to their words "it is important that we, as responsible citizens, observe [the regime's] Regulations, which have the force of Law", were they not followed by a NT quotation (Titus 3:1). The problem with citing Holy Scripture can be that, given human nature, it encourages the cheerful bandying of texts; one bangs the ball back across the net with Acts 5:29. 

I groaned to read again the grim old Utilitarian justification for Worship: "the essential contribution made by faith communities to the well-being, resilience and heath of our society."

But it was the next words that floored me. "It is also important to recognise that these Regulations are not an attack on religious belief." 

I just can't throw off the feeling that those words are, if you unpack their doctrinal import, exactly and precisely wrong. The regime's Regulations are what the archbishops say they aren't; at attack upon our belief. The regime permits various things deemed 'necessary' or 'essential' still to happen, but categorises Worship with such activities as playing golf. Its assumption is that Christian Worship is a private hobby which is harmless when it exists on the margins of social life and provides a bit of comfort to some odd people. The Sovereignty of Christ is thereby pitchforked out of the the central affairs of human existence. There is no understanding that the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass is the central action of all human community, of all existence, the most important thing which happens each day, each second, on this planet. Sadly, our episkopoi have again failed to take the opportunity to explain any of this. All they are capable of dishing out to feed their flocks is a covert appeal to the ethical teaching of Saint John Stuart Mill.

Even Boris Johnson must surely have picked up enough of the Catholic Faith, before he apostatised, to wonder if these two Archbishops might be selling the Faith short. The chairman of the back-bench 1922 Committee said in the Commons debate how very surprised he had been, last time round, that 'the Churches' had knuckled under so fast.

In the Obamachronos, I remember feeling miffed, as an observer from afar, when he replaced 'Freedom of Religion' with 'Freedom of Worship', because he wanted to exclude Christianity from the public forum and confine it within the four walls of ecclesiastical buildings. But things are worse, not better, over here under the Johnson regime: even our poor little tolerated enclosure on the edge of the zoo is now under close police supervision.

Come back to us, Diocletian, we have taken you for our God. We are killing the babies and fawning upon the sodomites and barring the way to the Eucharist. What other simple duties, Master, will you require of us next? 

Our Pastors keep on assuring us that your Regulations have the force of Law, so that, as responsible citizens, we must observe them.  

But citizens, S Augustine might have asked, of which Civitas? Whence, according to Philippians 3:20, is our politeuma

Do we need to ask ourselves these ancient questions anew?

12 November 2020

Footballers of colour and IICSA

An old man has just been hounded out of footie-management in this Kingdom because he used the phrase "C*loured Players".

I can remember being instructed by my Father, well over half a century ago, that it had become impolite to refer to Blacks as Blacks; we were, instead, to call them C*loured.

The morning after that defenestration, some W*man of Principle used on the Beeb the phrase 'F**tballers of Colour'. So that's clearly OK,, then. The old man had to be disposed of, with ignominy, for getting two words the wrong way round. Or, as the tyrants and their even more contemptible toadies are putting it, for "using out-dated language"!

But every news is good news for somebody. F**tiegate, combined with 'the vaccine', kept the IICSA report on chld-abuse in the English Catholic Church confined to a low rank in the order of News items. (And poor Ted McCarrick got not a mention!!!)

I had better be clear here.

Vincent Cardinal Nichols is not really my cup of tea.

But I believe he is at this moment the victim of a considerable injustice. An injustice which has the capacity to become even more monstrous.

The Inquiry did, indeed, take care to get straight that the Archbishop of Westminster, even if a Cardinal, is not 'Head' of the Catholic Church in this country. Every diocesan Bishop is responsible for his own diocese. But they still elevated Nichols, for their convenience, to the position of Figurehead and Official Scapegoat. You have to otch people up a bit in order to get them onto the Pillory and enable the mob to take aim.

Fairness would have involved holding him to account solely for what he got wrong when he was Archbishop of Birmingham. And would have situated that in an accurate historical context.

Just like the vital matter of which way round you put the words 'colour' and 'people', so the question of how one deals with the vile problem of sex abuse, and the vile abusers, can, er, improve almost by the day.

These Inquiries or Royal Commissions, here as in Australia, never probe far below the surface. When IICSA 'did' the C of E, the real narrative ... at least arguably ... was Establishment Cover-up; how a manipulative and highly sadistic epheberast, Bishop Peter Ball, was able to use his Establishment status and contacts to get away with his career of abuse. He was so successful that, even after his conviction and imprisonment, somebody, earlier this year on the anniversary of his death, put into The Tmes newspaper a notice describing him as "loved by many".

I don't remember how many in his networks ... Archbishops, Public School head masters, High Court judges, heirs to thrones  ... were were made to resign in disgrace (until, in some cases, a long time later when they had already become ruined men ... when they were down, and therefore Fair Game for kicking, like poor dim Carey).

I suspect that when Jimmy Saville's career of abuse was at its height, most of the (many) people who had a pretty clear idea what was happening had their own agreeable little covert dirtinesses to take care of ... and that does rather inhibit openness, doesn't it? Rife promiscuity in the Media, at least arguably, was the real narrative here. How many Grand People in broadcasting were made to resign in disgrace?

And Ball and Saville were refreshingly candid about their predilections. Ball once preached a sermon before several hundred young people (and their mentors, including me) in which he said that, if a bishop told you to take all your clothes off, you should promptly do so. Saville, asked on a popular BBC programme what luxury he would most like to have with him if he were marooned on a desert island, replied "A twelve year old girl."

It was the view of Benedict XVI that, with regard to the horrible flood (sporcizia) of clerical sexual abuse cases in the seond half of the twentieth century, the real narrative was the corruption in the teaching of Moral Theology in seminaries and universities in the post-Conciliar period. He is no fool. He is, at least arguably, a great deal cleverer than the cheapskates who sneered at him and at his analysis. 

But has anybody examined the prosopographical interrelationships of 'Ethics' lecturers in that period, what they taught and where and to whom, and correlated the evidence with subsequent abuse cases?

All the 'Inquiries' down to and including IICSA have been exercises in the copious use of sticking plasters to cover over the symptoms of deep maladies, combined with a fastidious disinclination to spend time on aetiology. At least arguably. Witness how sometimes they grope, like drowning sailors, at the planks of  abolishing Clerical Celibacy and/or the Seal of the Confessional.

And, occasionally not entirely absent ... or am I oversensitive? ... is a whiff of our traditional British 'world-beating' Anti-Catholicism. 

11 November 2020

Back to Dodgy Doctors

 In Chapter 8 of her first detective novel, Whose Body of 1923, Dorothy Sayers gives the Who's Who entry of a Grand Doctor called Sir Julian Freke. We learn, by implication, that he was honoured for immediate personal services to the Royal House: his knighthood in the Victorian Order was upped to a Knighthood Grand Cross in the same Order. He was also a Knight Commander of the Bath; a Knight of Grace of the order of S John of Jerusalem; he was a Colonel in the Army Medical Service. Lord Dawson (vide earlier posts) duplicated these honours.

It is not my claim that Freke is a simplistic transposition of Dawson into novelese. I suspect, rather, that Sayers may have browsed through her copy of Who's Who, boning up on all the 'Grand Doctor' entries. And I also believe that Sayers deliberately situated Freke in the intellectual milieu inhabited by such people in the decade which gave us Eugenics and Euthanasia and Contraception. Just as Dawson saw himself as being a very superior person, superior, indeed, to moral scruples which might inhibit ordinary men, so Freke believed that the Conscience was an epiphenomenon in principle medically removable. 

And just as Dawson killed the King because Doctor Knows Best, so Freke killed Levy for his own personal satisfaction. I very much doubt if Sayers knew the circumstances of King George's death; my suggestion is that she was a very bright woman who discerned the causes and effects of social and philosophical tendencies, and was capable of guessing right without even realising she was doing so. One reason I find her writing so absorbing is the light she throws upon Interbellum preoccupations; Spiritualism ... Lesbianism ... Advertising ... the Drugs scene ... the Red Menace ... She did it again with her final, unfinished detective novel Thrones, Dominations: I have long wondered if she gave up the writing of it because she realised that the sado-masochistic situations her characters were playing out ran parallel to the relationship between Edward VIII and Simpson, which was beginning to enter into the public domain.

Incidentally, it was only six days after that debate in the House of Lords about 'The Nation's Physique' that Baldwin had the Audience with his monarch which ensured that Britain did not enter a war with Germany under a pro-German King.

It irritates me when I read of Sayers lumped together with whodunnit writers as one of the greats of the 'Golden Age' of Detective Fiction. She was something totally different who used the genre as a convenience: which is why, as people soon notice, it is often quite obvious Who Did It. She was an avant garde writer who cheerfully brings in prostitutes and gigolos and foreskins (or the lack of them); the sexuality of old women and old men and plain girls; and kitten-faced young ladies with an inviting manner and a shrewd eye, who put their plump elbows on the table, cock their heads at a coy angle, and prepare to sell their honour dear, not indifferent to the possibility of a flat in Paris, a Daimler car, mink, and a thousand-pound necklace. 

It is a pity that the prudish Patton Walsh took it upon herself to suppress the account of Wimsey's 'sexual initiation' in Paris. 

A typical Third Millennium genre-error, and a sign of the New Prudery.

Was Sayers an anti-semite? I shall deal with that in the next day or two.

10 November 2020

November 10: (3) 1943 The Guillotined Priests of Luebeck

On November 10, 1943, three Catholic priests at Luebeck were taken, one by one, from their prison cells to the execution chamber and, within two or three minutes, guillotined. They had been found gulty of sabotaging the German War Effort; one at least of them had been noticed showing friendship towards Jews. Among their crimes was their study of the sermons of Blessed Count Clemens von Gallen, Bishop and Confessor, in which he made the point that, given the policies of its government towards the 'unfit', Germany did not deserve to win the War.

Blessed Johannes Prassek, pray for us.

Blessed Eduard Mueller, pray for us.

Blessed Hermann Lange, pray for us. 

These were youthful priests; Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam was fresh upon their lipsThis was the beautiful holocaust of their young priesthood; their blood which covered the floor was the blood of the Jew who died on the Altar of a Cross.

And, in their company, an elderly Lutheran pastor, their friend, mingled his blood with theirs.

blessed Friedrich Stellbrink, pray for us. 

The Bishop of Osnabrueck visited his priests and did what he could to prevent their execution. The Lutheran 'church' disowned its pastor and expelled him from its ministry.

I am sure that this is precisely how the the foul-mouthed Jew-hating founder of Lutheranism would have wished things to be. 

November 10 (2) 1938 Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht, in 1938, was the occasion when, in the very heart of European Christian civilisation, in a land sanctified by Saints and which for centuries had been covered with churches, the unholy elimination of German Jewry began in real earnest. It is not known how many Jews were murdered in this first bloodthirsty episode. The event took its name from the innumerable shards of glass which littered the streets as Jewish businesses, homes, Synagogues were attacked, looted, burned.

Back in London, the British elite who had appoved of Hitler and had admired the splendid healthiness of German Youth, who had agreed with Nazi views about Racial Improvement, were a little disturbed by the physical explicitness which, it was now clear, was destined to accompany their comfortable philosophy. The Fuehrer, when they had visited him and had their polite and agreeable discussions, had not mentioned that things might be quite as untidy as this.  Eugenics may now have appeared just a trifle less gentlemanly.

Lord Mount Temple resigned as Chairman of the Anglo-German Fellowship, perhaps mindful of the fact that his first wife had been a Cassel. 

But he did not resign his membership. 

The Fellowship continued, as it explained to the public, "to support the Prime Minister in his policy of Appeasement."

November 10 (1) 1936 ... Dodgy Doctor Dawson

On this day in 1936, Their Lordships' House met ... as you would expect, at a leisurely hour in the afternoon ... for a debate on the tantalising subject of "The Nation's Physique."

The debate was opned by Lord Mount Temple. His qualifications for talking about Physique may have been various. He had built a striking Art Deco house in London in which the bathroom, known among the wags as 'Lady Mount Temple's Crystal Palace', was walled with mirrors. Were the journalists prurient to speculate about the social function of such a room? Indeed, when Philip de Laszlo had painted her portrait in 1920, he had skilfully left debatable the question of whether she was wearing any actual clothes as such.

This was a decade in which Naturism was quite a fad. So were fashions such as Racial Improvement and its evil little playmates Eugenics and Contraception. All the best people ... etc.. And Germany ('Jarmany' as our elite often pronounced it) was a Mecca ... no; wrong word ... a country of intellectual resort for the intellectually fashionable. So Lord Mount Temple's speech in the Lords this day was not an enumeration of his wife's charms, but an impassioned appeal that our Youth should be as healthily attractive as, er, the Youth of Germany. He had been to Germany; he chaired the Anglo-German Fellowship, which gathered together some three or four hundred of the 'influential' and advocated friendship with that land. On meeting Herr Hitler he had been impressed by his thoughtful opinions. As so many others had been. Not least the new King Emperor, Edward VIII, one of the conquests (together with Herr von Ribbentrop) of a Mrs Simpson.

The 'Dodgy Doctor' indicated by my rather vulgar heading was, however, not Mount Temple, who was happily innocent of any medical practise, but a Lord Dawson, the next speaker in the Lords debate. Dawson shared his Noble Friend's admiration for the Youth of Germany. He thought ... but no; let us be fair to him, and tune in as he speaks for himself through the echoing pages of Hansard. (You're going to need Hansard as we make our way through the Covid Years.)

" ... we are preventing the death of the unfit as the result of our civilisation, but we have not planned any adequate substitutes. So far as I can see, there is only one adequate substitute, and that is to promote the fit on the one hand, and to see to it that we take care of the inherently unfit and prevent them from vitiating the race. If we allow the policy of promoting the fit to affect our policy, and we turn to our social and intellectual services, I suggest that we have to make them more selective; that is, while securing for the child of average abilities every opportuunity in the limited sphere of usefulness for which it is fit, we have to do everything we can to push forward the better and the best. The administrative difficulties might at first be great, but if we could, say at the age of fifteen, put down a sieve and let those pass through and go on to the next stage, and again at sixteen or seventeen put down another sieve and see how many get through it, and then take the final filtering, there is no money that it would not be worth our while to spend to push that filtrate forward. ...  the ... inherebntly unfit ... are the tares in the field of life. Now, in days gone by those inherently unfit were eliminated, not entirely, but in larger numbers; they were cared for but little. They just floundered along as best they could. Today we are preserving them. It is quite proper we should. But we have to protect them and to protect the race. From the point of view of education, surely those who are inherently unfit should be given a kindly, simple shelter, and no effort should be made to raise them above their biological level. If you raise them above their biological level and plant them on the community, you run the risk of vitiating the race by the increase of their defects. These defectives, whether they are physical, mental, or moral, if they happen to be carriers of disease to descendants or if they are undesirable parents, should, I suggest, be discouraged from reproduction and, where possible, prevented from undertaking parentage. ... it is only an accident that we doctors at the present time have not the power of offering--only offering--to these poor things relief from the dangers of parentage. It is a mere chance, and that chance is this, that back several hundred years ago, when there was an awful practice of getting someone to maim you in order that you might escape military service, there arose a law against maiming. That law existed down to this day. It was never meant to apply to any skilled profession, but the law is there. At the present time it is doubtful, and more than doubtful, if I would be enabled to advise the prevention of parenthood, however grave the risk to the person involved. I should lay myself open to be guilty of a breach of this law against maiming. I suggest, as a remedy, simply that the medical profession be exempted from the terms of that ancient law and that we be enabled to extend our powers of preventive treatment in such cases as we are asked to treat and where it is right to proceed. ..."

Is it remarkable that Lord Dawson believed in "exempting" a "skilled profession ... [us] doctors" from regulations and moral imperatives binding upon other people? Perhaps it will appear a little less so if we bear in mind that, only ten months earlier, he had with his own hands murdered King George V. 

More on Lord Dawson, and his colleague Sir Julian Freke, in a day or two. 

9 November 2020

Two very great Pontiffs ... and the 'wrong kind' of Anglican Patrimony!

I have before me, beautifully bound in black leather, with the edges of the pages in gold, a small book, with these words written inside:

Fratri in Christo dilecto

Johanni Richards


dono dedit

+Robertus Exoniensis

Die Dominica Sanctissimae Trinitatis MCMLIX

It is a precious memento of Bishop John Richards; of his Ordination to the Diaconate in 1959, on May 24.  

Today is his Year's Mind.

I wonder how many Anglican bishops think and write naturally in Latin today ... or, for that matter, how many Catholic Bishops can do so. Bishop Robert Mortimer was a distinguished Moral Theologian (he had held the Oxford Chair); a close friend of the Prebendary John Hooper who was my spiritual director half a century ago whose guidance led me to the Sacred Priesthood. My own friendship with Bishop John Richards dates from the turn of this century, when I was approaching retirement, and he prevailed upon me to accept a 'House for Duty' in the same Devon village where he was spending his own working retirement. Once we had moved in, he saw to it that I got to know the Society of S Boniface, which met monthly to study the Greek Testament together and to read Papers to each other. It was run by Prebendary Michael Moreton, from whom I learned a great deal. 

It was he who had read a paper, at one of Betsy Livingstone's Oxford Patristic Conferences, in which he demonstrated, long before this became a commonplace in Catholic scholarship, how totally spurious was the universal assumption that in 'the Primitive Church', the celebrant of the Eucharist faced the people. The other mighty truth I learned from him concerned the dogmatic status of  the Roman Canon. 

My own background in the Church of England before the mid-sixties had indeed left me with a profound love for the Roman Canon. When I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in 1968, and we neopresbyteri concelebrated the Ordination Mass with our ordaining Pontiff, it was the Roman Canon that I murmured secreto! But Michael was to teach me an even more weighty truth.

Just as the early Christian centuries are normative in as far as they conveyed to us the Apostolic Faith and Order through structures such as the Creeds and the Old and New Testament Canons of Scripture and the threefold Sacred Ministry, so also they conveyed to us that Apostolic depositum in and through the Roman Canon of the Mass. Which, therefore, stood and stands amid the wreckage of Time as an unalterable part of the givenness of the Faith.

This perception stood me in good stead when finally I entered into Full Communion, because I did so fortified in my adherence to that great Prayer. By then, of course, it had been miserably tampered with in the Latin Church and, soon, was all but eliminated de facto from most Catholic parochial worship. What a wickedness all that was! What a success for the Enemy: that the Prayer for which the English Catholic Martyrs died and the clergy of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England suffered such persecution, should be killed off in the 1960s with crooked Roman connivance!

Like S John Henry Newman, I can say that it was within the Church of England that I learned the Catholic Faith: how merciful the Lord's dispositions are. And that little Greek Testament which Robert Mortimer gave to John Richards was ... let me reveal ... the Edition done by Professor George Kilpatrick, who taught me NT textcrit. In his editorial activity, his textcrit eclecticism had led him to respect the textus receptus. I have conducted no statistical survey, but I suspect that George's NT could be shown to be more Tradition-friendly than the proddy 'United Bible Societies' NT which, under S John Paul II, was made the basis of the Neovulgate NT. 

What magnificent use God made of the Church of England, back in the days when it was still a plausible organisation! Joseph Ratzinger's Ordinariate Initiative was a recognition of that truth. And so is the fine Altar picture Fr Maunder has put into S Agatha's Church in Portsmouth, showing our blessed Lady handing Anglicanorum coetibus to Pope Benedict!

There is a story, I believe American, of somebody asking a liberal Jesuit why he wasn't very keen about the influx of Anglicans under Anglicanorum coetibus. Twitching his elderly and ragged jeans, the poor old gentleman squealed "But they're the wrong kind of Anglicans!".

The old question is: "What did they bring into the Catholic Church?" 

Here is my reply: "We brought in the 'Wrong' kind of Anglicanism"!!!

Cuddly Clubbability versus Prickly Principle


The first of the four Sundays on which the Mass is 'locked down' has passed without any evidence so far that Bojo is a gentleman. 

On Wednesday, our legislature approved, after debate, the regulations for our current lock-down.

Before the debate, the Prime Minister sidled up to Sir Edward Leigh, and ...

Leigh's account, which he put on the record subsequently, is in the unredacted running account in Hansard. I now narrate from memory ...

"Edward ... I'm going to do my best to get the churches open for you."

Leigh is chairman of a Catholic lay organisation, which has been trying to persuade the regime not to ban public worship again. So far, they have secured only powerful verbal expressions of immense grief.

He replied "When?"  "Soon ..." There was some hinting that talks were arranged with the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster (vide quoque the subsequent speech, a bit further down in Hansard, by the Health Secretary).

Among English Gentlemen, this sort of thing is sometimes associated with 'clubbability'. Within this nebulous concept, much is context, including personal warmth, the implication that most matters are best adjusted quietly among chaps like us, body language, style of address, implicit appeal to an implicit relationship, allusion to family connections or a common background at School or Oxbridge or Staff College, personal favours, the quid pro quo ...

You may well feel that such a system inevitably must have certain, er, fragilities built into it. I couldn't possibly comment.

Sir Edward subsequently did vote with his government.

The alternative to clubbability is Prickly Principle: which means sticking to what is austerely correct, combined with a lofty indifference to the flicker of an eyelid or a light touch on the shoulder or the second brandy in the library. Instead: your weapons are sharp rhetoric and brilliant put-downs and public knock-outs. Minds end up even more unmet than they were before.

The question, I suppose, is often which of the two produces practical results.

If, in the next two or three days, the Regulations are indeed adjusted to permit Public Worship, Clubbability's claim to be the appropriate tactic will have won. (Possibly, 'Remembrance Sunday' might provide a formula getting the regime off the hook with minimal loss of face.)

Otherwise ... Sir Edward Leigh has been had.

8 November 2020

Rabbi Lord Sacks

I was shocked so suddenly to read of the death of one of our most distinguished Chief Rabbis. 

Lord Sacks was quintessentially English. He was a man of high culture who had a gentle facility for elegant expression which is all too rare. 

Far beyond the trite phrase "a public intellectual", he was learned. 

He once protested, after a British court had purported to set aside a requirement of Jewish law which it held to be subordinate to the law of these islands: "An English court has declared this rule racist, and since this is an essential element of Jewish law, it is in effect declaring Judaism racist." 

Jews have sometimes been hotly criticised for putting Religion before Nationality. What a very perverse criticism. Putting God and Faith first is, on the contrary, an imperative which we share with them; for us, as much as for them, our allegiance to our Faith takes precedence ... every day of the week ... in the good times and no less during the pestilences ... over terrestrial allegiances. 

In the Divine Office of the Latin Church, we have recently read the story of the Maccabees: accounted blessed martyrs among Christians every bit as much as among Jews, whose precious relics are venerated at the heart of Catholic Rome. Many English priests will, this very morning, have read, during their Requiem for those killed in War, the succinct and pointed Reading from II Maccabees.

As these martyrs taught us by their costly witness to the Torah, who in their time had not yet become Incarnate, Faith, and the observances which articulate and make it actual, come before the enactments of secular regimes. 

A very, very, long way before. Would that all Catholics understood this.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.

7 November 2020

Some excellent suggestions in response to my Ultrahyper ...

 ... post calling for a new -ocracy to denote the Rule of the Bullies. But, after Archbishop Vigano's latest long piece on PF's much cherished Lavender Mafia, giving names, dates, and facts, possibly we should stick to a nice plain simple "The Rule of the Evitas". 

BTW ... Bobby Mickens does not expect the McCarrick report to come clean on who knew what when. I have little doubt that he is right. We still haven't been told who knew about Kieran Conry's womanising when he was nominated to the episcopate. 

HMG archives are opened to researchers after thirty years ... if the Westminster Archivist operates this system, we have another decade to wait.

5 November 2020


A good piece in Fr Zed, November 4, about the latest imperial Vatican powergrab to limit still further the authority of Diocesan Bishops.

Secular Media don't go for 'details' like this. They will, cretinously, continue under the impression that PF is 'liberal' and 'follows Vatican II'.

Whereabouts in the Vatican Gardens has PF buried "Subsidiarity'? Near the Pachamama tree?

We need a new term, Greek-based, an -archy or an  -ocracy, for "The Rule of the Bullies", wherewith to label this ever-more-gruesome pontificate.

Meanwhile, the Franciscans of the Immaculate can apply to enter The Guiness Book of Records as the religious institution the longest under 'special measures'.

THE DUTCH INVASION (1) November 5, 1688

The last successful foreign invasion of England, in 1688, has always been an awkwardness. Whig historiography has needed to affirm its consequences; on the other hand, the great Myth of Continuity in English History has required circumspection. Hilaire Belloc so refreshingly offered his readers an account which eschewed  Establishment misrepresentations. 

" ... let me consider ... the landing of the Prince of Orange, the Patron of Belfast and of St James's Square and of other things less suitable to ears polite [presumably he means wooftery].

"I should like to have seen that big Dutch fleet, with its few English renegades on board, come sweeping into Torbay. I should like to have seen the crowded boats passing to and fro, landing the Dutchmen and other foreign troops, and the great lords who were conspiring againat their king, and the saturnine William himself. I should like to have seen that mercenary army of adventurers, hired to give the last blow to so great a victim as the wounded kingship of the English, formed in column, and the march up to Exeter: with the villagers timidly peeping from behind closely shut windows at the strange faces, hearing alien speech, and wondering what the issue of the invasion would be.

"There was a fine pageantry about all that miserable business which ended the age-long, but dying, tradition of monarchy in Brtin, and put the rich in the saddle for good, without a master. From the moment when the huge armament bowled through the Straits of Dover under a south-east wind (forming such a crescent that the horns of it neared either shore) to that afternoon, two days later, when the high gilded poops of the Dutchmen stood out in line across Torbay, the whole evil thing was full of grandeur and of colour."

To be continued.

It would be inappropriate for me to comment ...

 ... except to say what a truly magnificent political show our transpontine cousins do put on.

Much appreciated.

But I would like to ask them just one question: why are (real) Afro-Americans so absent from your politics? 

Obama, of course, was half Caucasian and half Kenyan (and, so you tell me, probably born in Antarctica); Kamala is half Jamaican and half Indian.

I think, by the way, you are going to find being governed by a 'South Asian' lady an arresting experience. Our present Home Secretary is by far the most ruthless among our political operators. 

When she comes in sight, life-long confirmed atheists devoutly cross themselves.

4 November 2020

A glorious day, today ...

... the eleventh Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus, the first successful initiative in the field of Christian Unity since, I think, some Eastern Rite Christians in India entered into Full Communion with the See of S Peter in the 1930s. (Orthodox may, of course, see things differently!) Or have I forgotten somebody ...

God bless our former Holy Father Joseph Ratzinger; and I ask your prayers for the Three Ordinariates. And for all who are in the process of joining them

And those who are contemplating doing so. 

I shall wrie a little more about the Anglican Patrimony on November 9, dies obitus of John Richards, First Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

3 November 2020

Dudley Symon on the Departed

" Remember also, O Lord, thy servants and handmaids who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To them, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we beseech thee to grant a place of refressment, light and peace: through the same Christ our Lord.

"Perhaps the most beautiful prayer in the Canon.

"One is told in the history books about the medieval obsession with the fires of Purgatory, how the priests encouraged this fear because it meant any amount of Masses for the Dead, and how the pious Dukes of Northumberland and Somerset, in the reign of Edward VI, were so shocked by it all that wherever a  Guild or Trade Union in those days included a Chantry for its departed members, that Guild had to be dissolved and, to teach it a lesson, its revenues confiscated to the Crown. Of all the iniquitous proceedings of the gang of doctrinaire pedants and cynical looters during that reign, this, perhaps, was the most abominable, not merely because of the robbery and destruction of a most important element in English social life, but because it mangled the continuity of life, struck at the 'Communion of Saints', separated the living from the departed and encouraged the 'this-worldly' mentality which has been so dominant a characteristic of English religion ever since. These men did not 'reform', they wantonly destroyed."

2 November 2020

Boris Johnson and Cardinal Nichols and the ban on the Mass. SINE DOMINICO NON POSSUMUS

After reading the Communicarion of Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon about the newly reimposed prohibition within this Kingdom of England of the public Offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I began by being rather favourable. The steely tone seemed exactly what the circumstances required. The in-your-face and iterated demand for statistical evidence that the Eucharist spreads infection seemed to me rather good. The appeal to flabby Utilitarian ethical presuppositions (worshipping communities generate community benevolence) appeared to me just the sort of argument you have to use, unwillingly perhaps, in dealing with somebody as devoid of moral integrity as Boris Johnson. I even found myself thinking: "Is this the most forthright public text by an English Catholic Archbishop since Archbishop Hethe spoke in the House of Lords in 1559?"

As so often, I changed my mind after discussion with someone whose judgment I respect. She wondered why the two archbishops had not seized the opportunity to explain why the Mass is of such overriding importance to Catholics; to make clear what the Eucharist is and why it is in a category totally different to Protestant and Pagan worship; what it is that makes the Most Holy Sacrifice not part of the entertainment or feel-good industry, but something, for Christians, both vital and (to employ a term which often crops up in goverrnment regulations) "essential"

Why had the Church missed an important opportunity of evangelism?

Here is a passage from Dom Gregory Dix, which I published earlier in the year after the gauleiters banned Easter.

"To secure [the Sunday Eucharist] a whole congregation of obscure provincials at Abilinitina in Africa took the risk of almost certain detection by assembling at the height of the Diocletian persecution in their own town, where the authorities were on the watch for them, because, as they said in court, the eucharist had been lacking a long while through the apostasy of their bishop Fundanus, and they could no longer bear the lack of it. And so they called on a presbyter to celebrate - and paid the penalty of their faith to a man. ... Even when a church had been scattered by long persecution, the duty was never forgotten, 'At first they drove us out and  ... we kept our festival even then, pursued and put to death by all, and every single spot where we were afflicted became to us a place of assembly for the feast -- field, desert, ship, inn, prison', writes S Denys, bishop of Alexandria, of one terrible Easter day c. A.D. 250, when a raging civil war, famine and pestilence were added to the woes of his persecuted church.

"The christian came to the eucharist, not indeed 'to learn something', for faith was presupposed, but certainly not to seek a psychological thrill. He came simply to do something, which he conceived he had an overwhelming personal duty to do, come what may. 

"What brought him to the eucharist week by week, despite all dangers and inconveniences, was no thrill provoked by the service itself, which was bare and unimpressive to the point of dullness, and would soon lose any attraction of novelty. Nor yet was it a longing for personal communion with God, which he could and did fulfil otherwise in his his daily communion from the reserved sacrament at home. What brought him was an intense belief that in the eucharistic action of the Body of Christ, as in no other way, he himself took part in that act of sacrificial obedience to the will of God which was consummated on Calvary and which had redeemed the world, including himself. What brought him was the conviction that there rested on each of the redeemed an absolute necessity to take his own part in the self-offering of Christ, a necessity more binding even than the instinct of self-preservation.

"Simply as members of Christ's body, the church, all christians must do this, and they can do it in no other way than that which was the last command of Jesus to his own. That rule of the absolute obligation upon each of the faithful of presence at Sunday mass under pain of mortal sin,which seems so mechanical and formal to the protestant, is something which was burned into the corporate mind of historic christendom in the centuries between Nero and Diocletian, but it rests upon something more evangelical and more profound than historical memories. It expresses as nothing else can the whole new testament doctrine of redemption; of Jesus, God and Man, as the only saviour of mankind, who intends to draw all men to him by his sacrificial and atoning death; and of the church as the communion of redeemed sinnners, the body of Christ, corporately invested with his own mission of salvation to the world."

1 November 2020

Dudley Symon on the Canon of the Mass

" ... in ... the list of Saints placed before and after the Consecration, we have, in addition to the Apostles, a number of names of local Roman saints and martyrs whose memory we also [i.e.as well as our Lady] venerate. Criticism is sometimes heard on the ground that they are so exclusively local and that a more representative list might well now be provided. Considering what the difficulties of selection would be, it may be as well that the attempt is not made: but in any case , these names, some of great, some of almost 'unknown warriors', may fairly stand for the 'multitude that no man can number' who are known to men or only to God. Nine fishermen, a tentmaker, a tax-collector, three virgins, three married women, a Roman patrician, a Jewish freedman, a child of twelve, a civil officer, two doctors. a landowner and a lawyer, make up, after all, a pretty good cross-section of humanity.

"And it is worth noting why they are mentioned. We pray that 'by their merits and prayers we may in all things be defended by the help of THY protection' -- that is we do not seek any protection or aid directly from the Saints themselves but invite their prayers that God's help may be vouchsafed us. ... so simple, so reasonablle, so appealing."