31 July 2021

Pro forma; from Barchester

 As part of my on-going service to my brother priests, here is a a draft of a letter they might (mutatis mutandis) like to send to their bishops. I charge no fee for the use of this (pro) format.

To the Rt Revd the Lord Bishop of Hogglestock

Dear Bishop

Thank you for your letter and the attached pro forma regarding use of the Missal of S Pius V.

Before going any further, may I just check with you what a pro forma is?  I know what a form is; the thing, for example, one fills in for the tax man. But pro forma? How is that different from a form? The Latin phrase could in different contexts mean quite a lot of different things ... "For the sake of appearances" ... even, I think,  "Because you're so pretty" ...

As to the Holy Father's questions ... thank you for passing them on so very promptly ... Frankly (ut ita dicam ... geddit?!) ...

(1) I have no trouble whatsoever reassuring you that I do regard the Second Vatican Council as a true, validly convoked Ecumenical Council. No ifs, no buts!

(2) As far as the validity of the Pauline Mass is concerned, again, no problem at all! As far as its liceity is concerned, I can robustly reassure you here too, with loads and loads of parrhesia

It is not the first example in history of a maimed and unedifying Rite being 'legal', is it! Pistoia!! Spirit of Pistoia!!!

As far as concerns the views of those in the Old Rite Groups I serve: I cannot yet honestly say that I have checked up on all the views of every single member. 

As I willingly take on for you this not inconsiderable burden, would you like me also to check that all of those who approach me for Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo have studied, understood, and internalised the Eucharistic teaching of the Council of Trent? And, concerning Novus Ordo married people, do I need to survey the degree of their adherence to the teaching of Humanae vitae? Should I do this by using a pro forma? Will you be circulating a draft? What percentages of compliance in these matters would you regard as the minimum for allowing such a Novus Ordo Group to continue to exist? 

Can you give me any other hints on how to get Novus Ordo Groups closed down? I could do with some new ideas.

Having dealt with your questions, I would like respectfully to ask you, in the interests of symmetry in our collaborative ministry, to put my mind at rest too. Just as a pastoral formality ... a proformality!!

(1) Do you accept all twenty of the Church's Ecumenical Councils as valid? (There's no trick here ... honest injun ... I'm not going to expect you to make all the Jews in your diocese wear a Star of David just because some silly old Ecumenical Council ordered it!!! We know each other better than that! Simply cross your fingers behind your back and sign up! Just as everybody else does!)

(2) Do you accept ex animo the (pro!) formal Magisterial decision of Pope Benedict XVI that the Missal of S Pius V was never canonically suppressed, and, by the nature of things, never can be?

Come to think of it, it really would be terribly, terribly jolly if you were to impose these latter two questions on any of your clergy who, silly fellows, might send you a pro forma asking for faculties to celebrate the New Pauline Mass? Then we would all be happy, knowing that we were all in the same boat, and equally valued/unvalued; suspected/unsuspected; threatened/unthreatened; loathed/unloathed; marked down for elimination/unmarked.

Yours entirely pro forma,


PP, Parish of SS Promiscuus and Miscellaneus,

Slope Boulevard,




Christopher Boegel said...

Dear Fr. H:

Thank you for helping me to laugh at the absurdity of the current Pontiff and his circle.

The Father of Lights, who will not be mocked, has provided that when a Bishop of Rome orchestrates idolatry, such man will be given over to make a mockery of himself.

Belfry Bat said...

one detects an aroma of something neither Trollopian nor Thirkelian, nor yet Ludovician... nor even Bergoglian.... in the background of this proprofoundly formatical formulary. I can't quite place it. I suppose I'm just not In The Gno.

(what's wrong with the name "Clive"? Staples do cleave, when well applied... better than tape for some things, though screws sometimes are Just The Thing)