30 September 2021

PF and the Ordination of Women

If a future pope wishes to introduce an innovatory Ordination of Women, he or she will have to go directly against  ... not only S Paul VI, S John Paul II, and Pope Benedict; he will have to go against pope Francis. In his document after the Amazonian Synod, PF categorically put the Ordination of Women off-limits. The Usual Suspects, who had been 'expecting better' of him, were predictably disconcerted.

Why did he do this?

The Ordination of Women is a matter unlike most of those currently disputed. 

It can't be fudged. Or, if it can, it can't be as easily fudged as other matters. 

To smuggle in Communion for Adulterers, it needed an ambiguous footnote. And an interpretation by a group of Argentine bishops. And a Letter from PF to the Argentine bishops. And a statement that PF's Letter would be published in AAS. A process which PF once called "Making a Mess"? 

The ARCIC ecumenical process between Catholics and Anglicans operated on a basis of fudge. If you place in the same room a number of clever people who want to agree, they will eventually find or create a form of words which all of them will regard as not ideal, but which is just good enough to secure the necessary signatures. Perhaps the best example of this was the ARCIC document on Mary.

Women can't be fudged. You either ordain them or you don't. The persons you ordain are either male or female. Yes, I know that such binary simplicities can be, and by some people are, disputed. But, thank God, in the Catholic Church such an attempt would still cause a megarumpus and a strong probability of formal schism.

PF knows that he could not get away with this without the most enormous commotion. It would involve confronting ... fully frontally ... a document of S John Paul II which was classified by his successor Benedict XVI as infallible qua involving the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium of the Church. And once the magic wand has been waved and the I-Word has been invoked over something, you can't surreptitiously smuggle it away in the night. Folks will notice and wonder ...

I believe that PF realises that in WO (as we used to call it) he has met his match. He is up against a problem which cannot be managed by the astute methodologies he has successfully deployed so far.

Of course, there will remain possible subterfuges ... we may come to notice how many more parishes are run by female "parish administrators". But ...


At the moment, the College of Cardinals probably does not contain enough electors to elect a Franciscus II franciscior. If a third of the voters were unwilling to elect F2f, that would be enough to block such an election. Perhaps PF will reign long enough to leave behind him an electoral body of cardinals which is not encumbered with such a Blocking Third. And then F2f will be elected. 

How might F2f advance the Cause?

Possibly by crafty means of the ad experimentum device. And perhaps, initially, in orders of enclosed nuns (if there are any such communities left).

But, as Euripides observed long before this pontificate, the Unexpected does so often happen. That's why Pessimism is in most cases probably a device of Satan, who loves to try to make us despair over what has not happened ... and isn't going to..

So forget it!!


29 September 2021

"Come here" or "Become more adjacent"??


When and why did these words supersede the verbs 'to place' and 'to find' and their derivatives? 'He located [=placed] the wine-glass on the table'. 'He located [=found] the lost sixpence under the table'. Two perfectly decent monosyllables with totally different meanings seem to have been replaced by a single ambiguous latinism, thus affording opportunities for confusion. 

Latin Prose Composition (and, I suspect, its parallels in other ancient and modern languages) disciplined learners. You gave somebody the task of translating into Latin "What is your location?" You watched him flapping through dictionaries getting more and more worried. She then brought up to your desk some such nonsenses as "Quae est tua locatio? You then worried at him for a minute or two, getting her to think what the words 'really' meant, until ...Triumph of Paedogogy! ... he came back with "Ubi es?" 

Simple, clear, chaste, unpompous. Yet by diabolical malevolence, the Me-Important classes think that Latin is impressive ... so we get ad hoc and argumentum ad hominem and endless other latinisms which the poor silly fellows almost invariably misunderstand and misapply. Some of this may lie in the desire of clerklets to sound Important and Official. One train company (I'm not making this up) has this announcement: "Safety Information is located adjacent to the doors". I would have written "Safety Information is by the doors". 

 This is not simply a matter of words of teutonic origin being preferable to gallicisms, latinisms and grecisms (although it often may be ... I remember as an eight year old being - helpfully - advised to write begin rather than commence). The meanings of words have always been unstable: 'place' may itself have started its long life as plateia, the broad boulevard in Hellenistic town planning, upon which the confusions of Menandrian New Comedy were played out. The problem is not, I think, that curmudgeonly old retired Educators dislike linguistic evolution as that the evolution of modern English is dragging the language towards incomprehension and logical dissolution. You no longer listen to the words someone says, because they, in themselves, might give you quite the wrong 'take'. Instead, you attempt to guess, from context and tone, what the speaker might be getting at. And this is far more dangerous than allowing words to have meanings.


I am toying with the theory that the disintegration of our previous class-system may have something to do with it. Once upon a time, the gentle and the educated talked in one way among themselves; in a different way when addressing their social inferiors. (Does anybody nowadays ever read U and Non-U?) But today, We Are All Middle-Class. So everybody wants to sound Latinate ... and, for those who do not know Latin, that, poor things, is quite burden. But they work manfully at it, and for all their pains just end up looking silly. In the previous culture, only those who had done their mensa mensa mensam risked Latin. Now everybody has a (disastrous) go at it.

A fairly recent example: mitigate and militate. I was once at a Planning Enquiry where there was much talk of mitigation ... which, perfectly correctly, was used to mean moderating, making less dreadful, the results of building a new railway line: mitis+ago. But there is a similar word militate, which means fight: miles is a soldier. So now you hear poor confused people (ex.gr. Nicola Sturgeon the other day) talking about "mitigating against X". And I have not the faintest idea what that is supposed to mean: does it mean 'fight' or does it mean 'moderate'? . Perhaps I don't need to. Perhaps I am expected just to register that (a) the speaker is in an unspecified way opposed to X, and that (b) she wants to say this in a posh way ...


And there is the disintgration in the understanding of how to construct relative clauses. As in "This is the thing which everybody wants it." Very Semitic ...

28 September 2021

Saint John Henry Newman and Aggressive Insolent Factions

There can be no doubt that PF has presented us with yet another Rupture; and a rupture which (as well as having practical aspects) is also a rupture in the field of dogma. 

Pope Benedict XVI unambiguously taught that what, in liturgical tradition, has been loved and practised, cannot be simply forbidden. Pope Francis I has now declared that the Roman Rite has only one (unica) form; and that the form is the Bugnini-Liturgy. As logical and practical outworkings of their conflicting positions, Benedict XVI enacted that no priest of the Latin Church needs any permission whatsoever to celebrate the older form; Pope Francis I now as categorically asserts that the older form may not be celebrated without permissions galore.

Neither of these two contradictory positions has the authority of an infallible declaration by an Ecumenical Council or a Roman Pontiff. In fact, in each case, their authority is manifestly well below that of an infallible utterance. Which ... if either ... binds us?

I propose to look at attitudes adopted by S John Henry Newman at the time of Vatican I, confident that criticisms and qualifications which he deemed appropriate with regard to a doctrinally active and infallible Ecumenical Council will, a fortiori, apply to these much lesser papal declarations and in this current crisis. It seems to me that his guidance is all the more important in these days leading up to his Festival ... if we are to celebrate this festival with any integrity.


Early in 1870, S John Henry received a letter from his bishop William Ullathorne about the disgraceful bullying going on at the [First] Vatican Council. He replied with words which became justly famous: "Why should an aggressive insolent faction be allowed to 'make the heart of the just to mourn, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful?'" ... words which spring easily to mind when one thinks about the this pontificate in general, and Traditionis Custodes in particular. They are positively uncanny in their appropriateness! Seven months later, on 23 July, Newman saw the Definition of papal infallibility five days after it had passed through the Conciliar Aula. He was relieved, even delighted, at its "moderation"; it afforded him no problems.

But a further question did remain to trouble him. "Does it come to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council?" 

Newman did not instantly accept it as such. He wanted to know what the conciliar minority would do. This was important, because unanimity, at least 'moral' unanimity, was accepted as essential for the validity of a conciliar definition of doctrine. If the Fathers "allege in detail acts of violence and deceit ... if they declare they have been kept in the dark and been practised on, then there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid."

We may not possess 'our Cardinal's' immense erudition. But we are subject to the same moral imperatives as those by which he was moved to speak and to act as he did.

If some papal intervention repeats or is in continuity with what the Church has immemorially taught and practised, then it is for that reason magisterial; if it were to bear manifest signs of shameless rupture, the reader would have to draw the necessary conclusion and repudiate it ... to declare "This is not valid".

Traditionis Custodes bears, unmistakably and aggressively, manifest signs of shameless rupture when it is compared with Summorum Pontificum. It bears upon its surface the very clearest marks of violence and deceit.


These are troubled days when we, laics and clerics and bishops, are surely called upon to speak with the same Parrhesia that S John Henry employed. If members of the hierarchy attempt to bully, to intimidate, to abuse their status to silence any who speak out, we should remember 'our Cardinal's' condemnations of an aggressive insolent faction

We have this Holy Father's own reiterated encouragements of Parrhesia as our defence and inspiration. 

Not to mention Canon 212.

27 September 2021

How wise are serpents?

 We read that a traditionalist convent of Carmelites in North America is to receive an "Apostolic Visitation".

We all know what that sinister phrase meant for the Franciscans of the Immaculate. The word "Apostolic" is rapidly becoming as menacing as the word "Democratic" was when it was employed by the Stalinists or "Healthcare" when used by abortionists.

How to survive?

Surely, faithful Catholics need to be or to become as Wise as any biblical serpent ever was. New religious communities should not acquire any canonical status. Canonical status just means that they can be forced to receive the untender unmercies of a Visitation. New religious communities should be allowed technically to remain simply extra-canonical gatherings of women or men.

After Fr Hope Patten restored the Pilgrimage to our Lady of Walsingham in the Anglican Parish Church of Little Walsingham, the evangelical Bishop of Norwich became difficult. So Father built a Pilgrimage Church (with Holy House) on land which did not belong to the House of Bondage ... and was thus exempt from her law. Alternatively: there will continue to be a supply of redundant churches being put on the market by a wide variety of imploding sects, for the foreseeable future. (But guile might be needed to purchase them ... a number of years ago, the SSPX tried to buy a former C of E church in Manchester, until, er, ...)

Whatever legal and financial structures are necessary to secure property and money from the risk of being 'apostolically' grabbed, should be put in place. Nobody could doubt the sincerity of PF's own profound and principled dislike of a certain style of Catholicism (and of a certain style of Catholic!), but there have been suspicions that there are people in Rome whose 'Apostolic' motives are more monetary than stylistic. 

Such suspicions do not present the Church in a good light.

There is no way of knowing how long the aggressions and cruelties of 'Apostolicity' may last. The working assumption should be that it may be quite a time.


Quite apart from all that, I question the broader suitability of using "Apostolic" as a fancy, la-dee-dah, way of saying "Papal". If I were myself an Apostle, I would probably consult a lawyer about it. 

I think it was harmless enough back in the days of the 'Vicars Apostolic', but if it is to mean henceforth "We're coming after you and just you wait till we get you," its use is, er, less attractive.

The See of Antioch is 'Apostolic', but I doubt whether His Beatitude is intimately involved in Visitating and harassing Latin Rite sisterhoods. Perhaps he should sue his Roman 'brother'.

I can't see what's wrong with describing the Roman Bishopric in the nice old-fashioned way as "The Holy See", and keeping ones fingers crossed.

26 September 2021


 It is reported that PF thinks his critics hope for his death.

I can honestly say, without any irony, that I have not heard or read of any of of his critics ... I don't deny that he has critics ... wanting him dead. When I do, I will condemn it. On the contrary, given the fact that his predecessor abdicated, I think some of his critics are rather thankful that this makes it possible for them to hope for an end to this pontificate without thereby hoping for PF's death. Personally, knowing within myself what it is like to be aged and ill, I pray that he may be given respite from the pains and anxieties of being old.

Perhaps the Holy Father is confused by memories of the time around his own election. Readers will remember that some very unsavoury emails were published, showing the then Tablet Correspondent, Bobby Mickens, and one of his chums, delightedly relishing the prospect of what they termed "the Rat's Funeral".

Even Mickens appears to have forgotten this episode. In supplying journalists with statesmanlike quotations about people who, he claims, are planning for After This Pontificate, Bobby fails to explain the circumstances which led to his own sacking from the Tablet for his unprofessional nastiness with regard to Benedict XVI. 

An account of it would have contextualised the present reports, surely?

But enough of this sad business. Here is something much jollier from within our own Anglican Patrimony.

There is an anecdote concerning an Anglican priest who, during the last century, prayed publicly that the Almighty would grant the greatest privilege of His grace, the blessed Crown of Martyrdom, to the (then) Archbishop of Canterbury.

Can anybody put any details onto this story? It may be from around the time when Geoffrey Fisher was persecuting the Tridentine Rite.

25 September 2021

ENCAENIA post scriptum

The No Shows were J Lubchenko and S Solomon. The honorandae who attended were H R Clinton, L Colley, S Davies, A Deavere Smith, Baroness Lister, J Winterson. Given the change of date and the Pestilence, these distinguished ladies are much to be commended for coming to be with us.

A 'modernisation' which I resent is that the Student Prizewinners no longer read out potions of their compositions. They just stand there to be clapped ... how condescending ....

According to Mr Orator, all over this country the teaching of languages is plummetting ... German being particularly hard hit. There's Global Britain for you ...

Fake Histories

Could it be, is it possible, that alterius orbis Papissa, Ms Greta Thunsberg, has placed this University under an Interdict? I only ask because at last Wednesday's Encaenia, postponed propter pestem from June, two of the eight Honorandae failed to turn up, and they both appear to have been ecologically predisposed.

The good news is that Linda Colley, currently a Professor at Princeton, to my mind the most distinguished name upon the list, was present to receive her Doctorate in Litteris honoris causa.  

Colley is an expert in the history of the seventeen hundreds. It is her view that the Tory Party was still a significant force throughout that century, busily Defying the Whig Oligarchy. I was a little miffed that Mr Orator missed the opportunity to point out that the building in which these degrees were being conferred, the Sheldonian Theatre, was the site of the last great ebullition of aggressive Toryism (and Jacobitism), Dr William King's 1749 Oration to celebrate the opening of the Radcliffe Camera. In this, only three years after the flight of the Prince Regent (later King Charles III), King declaimed, five times, "REDEAT ..." to a noisy gathering.

Mr Orator did mention Colley's demonstrations that British Imperial History is largely a dodgy fabrication of the Victorians, who expunged from the record a fair number of calamitous defeats of British armies by more sophisticated Moslems. In particular, he alluded to her demonstration that in the early years of the eighteenth century, there were some 20,000 British slaves held in the Barbary sultanates of North Africa (a fact which this blog has several times divulged). We have been taught to chant that "Britons never never never shall be slaves", indeed, but "quod interdum incommodum videatur auditu, [Colley] patefecit Britannos nonnunquam antehac id ipsum iugum acceptum ferre coactos esse". And Mrs Vice-Chancellor remarked that "nos sicut captivi acri animo legimus" Professor Colley's works.

Is there an irony in the fact that we are currently often advised to grovel on account of our History ... a History which we ourselves largely invented in order to aggrandise ourselves?!?

Yes; the Honorandae were all female, and Mrs Vice-Chancellor presided, in honour of the centenary of the admission of women to degrees in this University. Again, I felt that Mr Orator missed an opportunity: he very appropriately spoke about the 700 years since the death of Dante; he quoted him (cum permissu Vice-Cancellariae) in Italian, and appended Dorothy Leigh Sayers' English translation of Dante's lines. 

He could also have mentioned that Sayers was one of the very first batch of women to receive degrees in 1921, in that same Sheldonian Theatre.

24 September 2021

Prayer on the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham

(1) Here is the text of the Prayer to our Lady of Walsingham, in use since at least the first edition of the Pilgrims' Manual in 1928 (in more recent decades this prayer was detudorised ... such childishness ...).

Perhaps nostalgic but infirm old persons like myself would like to make a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy House, back in time to, say, Whit Monday 1960. 

Or would it be schismatic to travel back in time to before Anglicanorum coetibus?

O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, thy divine Son, dying upon the cross, confided us to thy maternal care. Thou art our Mother, we desire ever to remain thy devout children. Let us therefore feel the effects of thy powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. Make thy Name again glorious in this place once renowned throughout our land by thy visits, favours, and many miracles.
    Pray, O holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
    O blessed Mary, Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen. 

(2) I think it would be gracious to pray to our Lady of Candelaria, Patron of the Canary Islands, during this time of volcanic eruption.

I remember with pleasure my visit to her splendid Shrine in San Antonio, Texas; a copy of her Shrine in the Canaries. Oret ...

23 September 2021

The Holy House

A great benefactor of the restored Shrine at Walsingham was Sir William Milner; who, in 1926, composed the first version of the Pilgrimage Hymn, designed to utilise the melodies of the Lourdes hymn.

In the 1960s, the then Administrator replaced Sir William's wording. One can see why it was felt that some of the expressions offered problems of vocabulary or rhythm; but, well, not everybody is happy with his replacement text!

Here are some stanzas of Sir William's hymn, relating to the legend of Richeldis:

To Richeldis, a matron full blameless of life,
Who sought for the Star that leads safe through our strife
(Ave ...)
Our Lady, all clement, was pleased to appear,
And her voice sweetly sounding, Richeldis did hear:
(Ave ...)
"I come now to ask you, dear daughter of mine,
On the lands of your fathers to build me a shrine:
(Ave ... )
"See build from this model my arms now enfold --
'Tis Nazareth's homestead, more precious than gold,
(Ave ...)
"Where Jesus, my Lord, on my bosom once laid;
Thrice holy the house where His baby feet played.
(Ave ...)
. . . .
"And the spot that I choose where the House shall arise,
By a sign shall be plainly revealed to your eyes."
(Ave ...)
Next morn when Richeldis went abroad in the meads
With her chaplain conversing, and saying her bedes,
(Ave ...)
Lo! springs bright as crystal burst forth from the plain
Where but now the green pastures unbroken had lain.
(Ave ...)
"The sign that was promised see, father, revealed!
O God, for thy goodness our thanks now we yield,"
(Ave ...)
Thus in joy quoth the matron. Forthwith goodly store
Of oak trees was hewn, and of rushes galore.
(Ave ...)
Right soon the good timbers in order were laid,
And the walls, newly rising, stood forth in the glade.
(Ave ... )
When lo! in the night came a bright angel-band,
And the work was completed by Mary's own hand.

Et cetera !

22 September 2021


 Among bodies asking for my vote is the National Trust

Despite its name, this is an entirely non-governmental British charitable body which acquires and most laudably protects significant buildings and threatened countryside (I think there is an American affiliate, perhaps called the Royal Oak Foundation). The room-stewards in its properties are all unpaid volunteers.

Some time ago, the NT was in the news. As I remember the reports, in one property the volunteers had been asked to wear the 'Rainbow' diversity insignia. Some, who refused, were (if my memory is not deceiving me) told that they would be allocated to roles where they would not come into contact with members of the public.

I, and all other members, have now been sent our voting papers for the Members' Annual General Meeting in October. 

One Members' Resolution "calls on the Trust never to require its volunteers to wear badges, symbols or other items that reflect a political or social viewpoint".

The "Board of Trustees' Position" asserts that "The purpose of this resolution is not clear".

Well, it seemed abundantly clear to me. 

Offering context, the Board says that "we do not ask volunteers to wear badges or symbols, or other items that reflect a political viewpoint".

As between the text I have printed in red and the one I have printed in blue, do readers happen to notice any interesting differences?

I hope I am not the only person to notice this detail in the bumf  which I and other members have received.

21 September 2021

Wolves, Lambs, and Wykehamists

Readers will be familiar with the deep disagreements I have on historical matters with positions taken by His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson. Furthermore, we are warned by Dom Gregory Dix, that the heraldic symbol of a bishop is a Crook. And, of course, every Englishman remembers the solemn injunctions placed upon him by his Father on the momentous occasion when we were, each of us, sent out upon the dangers of this naughty world: "My dear boy ... one last thing ... I beg you always to remember ... whatever else you forget ... I adjure you by your grandmother's grave ... never trust a Wykehamist."

But ...

His Excellency does sometimes have a jolly point upon his Blog. The other day he was commenting on the very humble ... the very very humble ... the very very very humble ... statement issued by the Superiors of the erstwhile Ecclesia Dei communities who, for some unaccountable reason, sound scared.

Bishop Richard reminded us of a Fable by Aesop. Allow me to retell it.

A Lamb was drinking from a stream one morning when its friendly neighbourhood Wolf approached the stream higher up the channel. The Wolf, who was feeling hungry, complained ferociously that the Lamb was stirring up his drinking water and making it muddy.

The Lamb very deferentially pointed out that, since it was downstream from the Wolf, this could not be factual.

"But you told lies about me last year", raged the Wolf.

Ever a pedant, the Lamb pointed out very deferentially that, last year, it was as yet unborn.

"Well, it was your brother!"

"Your highness, I don't have brother!"

"Well, I'm going to have you for breakfast anyway", concluded the Wolf.

Finis fabulae.

Didn't that Pope Benedict once talk about wolves?

Is it speciesist to be preoccupied with wolves?


19 September 2021

Only for creative philologists

Some years ago, I heard, on the wireless, a young woman with an exotically, positively rococo, East End ('Estuary') accent say that 'Mel C' was her "me:er". I'm fairly sure that this is Estuary English for "Mentor". Not very Hellenic ...

P S (1) I think 'Mel C' may have been one of the "Spice Girls". I was still in teaching when these phenomena were live, so I had them explained to me. No? ... ah, well ...

P S (2) Mentor has now (2021) spawned a lovely derivative: 'Mentee' (as 'tutor' once spawned 'tutee'). Does anybody know how far this usage, reminiscent of the old Latin Gerundive, goes back?

P S (3) How about 'Mentrix' for the feminine of Mentor? When my wife taught at Roedean, she was addressed as Ma'am. Would Mentrix have done instead?

P S (4) When a neo-Fowler is produced, I wonder if the complex rules governing the glottal stop will make it clear that a consonant preceding the eliminable T must itself also be eliminated? 

P S (5) Or should I say "elimina:ed"? Indeed, should I school myself henceforth to refer to the "Glo::al ::op"?

P S (6) The -ee suffix would seem to have endless possibilities. Murderer on death row: hangee. Candidate for gender reassignment: choppee. Potential victim of spontaneous street aggression: muggee. 

Traddy Catholic in a Franciscan pontificate: eliminatee.

18 September 2021


A happy occasion, last night [2008], as I celebrated the 40th anniversary of my Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood. [Last night's celebration] was a Votive of the Holy and Undivided Trinity (in my day, most seminarians were ordained after the Whitsuntide Ember Days on Trinity Sunday) in Latin and according to the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite; it was a very family occasion as our Bishop, Andrew, preached a sermon which was too kind about me and inadequately catalogued my failings. 

It also, as one would expect, combined a witty exposition of the mass texts (dealing with the creative mendacity with which they appear to attribute explicit Trinitarian orthodoxy to the Book of Tobit), a treatment of the glory due to the Trinity (as he observed, people are rather more respectful of the Trinity now than was true in the Year of Revolutions, when I was ordained), and a learned and pastoral discussion of the Hermeneutic of Continuity as it applies both to the use of traditional rites and the Reform of the Reform. He could do worse than to make those parts of the homily available to a wider readership. 

I was nervous beforehand; I have said low masses many times according to the 1950s Altar Missal kindly given to me by a generous friend, the pp of Knightstown on Valentia Island in the Kingdom of County Kerry. Indeed, I used it even before the Holy Father issued his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (I hope this was not too daring an infringement of my ordination undertaking only to use rites allowed by canon). But never before have I attempted a Missa Cantata. I need not have worried. Led by Barry, one of our senior and long-faithful servers, resplendent in our festal tunicle, a superbly competent group of seminarians from S Stephen's House swept me through it with aplomb enough to give the impression that they polished off this sort of thing every day of their lives. 

There is, of course, a history to this. 'Staggers', my own seminary, has long had a reputation for liturgical scholarship and practical accuracy in ritual matters. In the days when that great pontiff Bishop Kirk ruled the See of Oxford, the Principal, Canon Couratin (of whom many anecdotes survive, not all of them suitable for a family blog) used to turn up with his 'circus' to put on all the major Diocesan events. Even during the bleak years after the Council when so many lost their liturgical nerve, the Staggers tradition maintained standards and preserved a high understanding of the ars celebrandi

You might say that the advent of Pope Benedict is a vindication of all that Staggers has stood for and does still maintain under Fr Robin (who was present last night to see the triumphs of his students). The biggest of thankyous to Daniel Lloyd, who officiated as MC, and to his colleagues, a crew faultless not only in matters ritual. The choir was the Byrd Consortium, who descend from the choir at S Mary Mag's Church back in the happy days when it was Oxford's bastion of orthodoxy. I used to attend on Sundays and weekdays when I was an undergraduate living in College, so there was a comfortable appropriateness in having them there. I am no musician, so I feel shy about ever commenting on the activities of those who are; I can only say that their memorable and haunting performance made me immensely grateful. I know how much work they put in. 

It may seem an absurd paradox, but somehow the event, a Latin Tridentine Mass, seemed the very epitome of the Anglican tradition as we have appropriated and preserved it since the Catholic Revival.

17 September 2021


 Foreign readers may need to "bone up" upon what is meant by "Cockney Rhyming Slang". It is our demotic equivalent of that propensity to slip into Latin which used to be common among our educated classes in the time when ... goodness, how I do woffle.

The first and fundamental Porkie in Traditionis custodes is that Benedict XVI permitted the Usus Authenticus as a kindly concession to those who felt the need for it.

This is untrue. Benedict revealed the verdict of a canonical commission which had found that the 1570 Rite had never been properly abolished in proper canonical form. 

The Old Rite was never abolished! 

Any reworking of Summorum Pontificum clearly needs to begin conceptually from that remarkable revelation.

In addition to that canonical fact, Papa Ratzinger added a dogmatic assertion. He did not say that his successors ought not to abolish the Old Rite: he asserted that it cannot be abolished or forbidden. In other words, that an attempt to abolish it would be ultra vires. 

"CANNOT".  Pope Benedict really did mean what he said. When he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he had launched a scathing attack on the impression "that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council." And, before that, he had reminded us "that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church."

I suppose it is hardly surprising that PF fails to understand the simple proposition that the pope cannot do anything.

But, surely, even he must see that, if he can so disdain the doctrinal teaching of his predecessor, he is sawing off the branch upon which he is himself so precariously balancing.


16 September 2021

S Paul VI

I wish to propose a theory about S Paul VI for which, currently, I can adduce evidence; I wonder if there is more.


(1) He relied upon dishonest people for advice. (a) From the Memoires of Louis Bouyer: "At different stages, be it with regard to the dumping overboard (sabordage) of the Liturgy of the Departed, or again in that unbelievable enterprise of expurgating the psalms in view of their use in the Office, Bugnini came up against an opposition, not just massive, but one could say pretty well unanimous. In some such cases, he did not hesitate to tell us 'But the Pope wants it!'. After that, to be sure, there was no longer a question of discussing it." Bouyer recounts how he once met Bugnini in circumstances in which the latter, mistakenly, believed that he, Bouyer, had just been with Pope Paul ... whom Bugnini was on his way to see. "On seeing me, he not only turned completely white but, visibly, was knocked for six (non seulement il blemit, mais, visiblement, il fut atterre)". "The answer was to be presented to me, but some weeks later, by Paul VI himself. Nattering with me about our famous labours, which he had confirmed, he finally said to me 'But why, then, did you put into this reform ...' (Here, I have to admit that I don't recall any longer which of the details which I have mentioned particularly irritated him.) Naturally, I replied 'But purely and simply because Bugnini guaranteed to us that you were absolutely set on it (avait certifie que vous le vouliez absolument).' His reaction was immediate: 'Is it possible? He said to me personally that you were unanimous in this respect!'".
(b) Bishop Tissier's biography recounts that when Archbishop Lefebvre was received in audience by the Pope, S Paul VI was hostile from the start. It transpired that he had been informed, probably by Cardinal Villot, that the Archbishop made the priests whom he formed "sign an oath against the Pope". Given such shameless mendacity, it is hardly surprising that the Holy Father's mind was poisoned against Lefebvre.

(2) S Paul VI preferred to compromise with disorder rather than to face it down. It seems clear, from Dom Cassian Folsom's Adoremus series of masterly articles, that the provision of alternative Eucharistic Prayers was a pathetic but well-meant attempt to rein in the chaos which existed particularly in the Low Countries, where home-made Eucharistic Prayers were proliferating in (literally) hundreds. S Paul was assured that the Hierarchy, given this concession, were prepared to restore order. (Big of them ... Traditionalists would also do well to remember that it was the provision of these alternatives which saved the Canon itself from being really badly mangled ... better, surely, to be unused for a few decades than permanently debased?)

As well as the human and historical tragedy, there is an ecclesiological point here. If you blend together in one saucepan an exaggerated notion of papal authority (as analysed by Joseph Ratzinger) with the activities (described in detail by Louis Bouyer) of unscrupulous and dishonest and ruthlessly determined manipulative individuals who have the pope's ear, you are gravely at risk of having a disaster the results of which it may well take generations to mitigate.  

Quod factum est.

15 September 2021

Some old friends ... Newman ... Dix ...

Near the beginning of the Preparatory Document on PF's planned 'Synod', we read " ... what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church? Addressing this question together requires listening to the Holy Spirit, who like the wind 'blows where it wills; you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes"(Jn 3:8), remaining open to the surprises that the Spirit will certainly prepare for us along the way."

Whoever drafted this ... presumably neither a Greats Man nor a Greats Woman ... appears not to have noticed that a Surprise is just that little bit less of a Surprise if we know that it is 'certainly' coming. Except, of course, within the rather mannered ritual logic of kiddies' pantomimes, the bright eternal homeland of Widow Twankey.

However, it would be unfair to suggest that PF has in any way changed his tune. He hasn't. In the template which he offered to his earlier synods which preceded Amoris laetitia, he wrote "The Synod is a protected space where the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks in the Synod through the language of all persons that allow themselves to be guided by the God that always surprises ..." 

Remarkable teaching. In formal and grammatical terms, it may resemble the Definition that the Successor of S Peter, speaking ex cathedra, is protected from teaching error. The big difference is that the Definition is embodied in the dogmatic and infallible teaching of a doctrinal Ecumenical Council, Vatican I. The novel and unconciliar claim now proposed by PF, that a papally convoked "Synod" which is not even claimed to be an Ecumenical Council enjoys the privilege of being preserved from error, is a claim which I, personally, totally repudiate. The very making of it arouses, moreover, the greatest suspicions in my mind (of course, I speak only for myself).

A century and a half ago, S John Henry Newman was prepared to consider the pressures which the ultrapapalist bullies of his own time ("an aggressive insolent faction") had brought to bear upon the Fathers of Vatican I; and, if necessary, he was even prepared to "determine that the [1870] Definition is not valid". (The measured good sense of the actual Definition spared our great Saint from having to take any such step; presciently, he suggested that the result of the 1870 definition might actually be to "limit the Pope's power".)

S John Henry was no fool, nor was he a coward.

A fortiori, I, merely a poor ignorant presbyter, living my Christian life under Newman's Patronage but speaking only for myself, am not going to be corralled into accepting whatever teaching PF claims to be able to extract from his 'synod'. It is quite simply not true that, in Catholic teaching, all Councils are deemed infallible. "Only some General Councils [a]re admitted as infallible ... Bellarmine gave a list of General Councils which had erred" (S John Henry Newman). The Latrocinium, and certain rather conciliarist sessions of Constance, will spring to mind. How much more fallible are these Bergoglian 'synods', which come upon us as thick and fast as the Number 12 buses over Westminster Bridge! 

I recall Dom Gregory Dix's remarks about Old Men in a Hurry. He was no fool, either.

Again to be personal ... I speak only for myself ... I deplore the endless and unscrupulous employment of phrases like "the Holy Spirit" and "the God of Surprises" as cheap pieces of Bergoglian stage machinery deployed to evade all and any obstacles to the pursuit of the Bergoglian programme of innovation.

I discern ... speaking again only for myself ... once more in the current documents, and I as deeply resent, the use of Bergoglian gobbledy gook to privilege innovation. If "the Spirit" is to Surprise us, why are PF's apparatchiks so sure that these Surprises will have to be new things? The possibility that the Surprises might involve or imply a faithful return to Tradition ... say, to liturgical Tradition ... does not feature in the published documents and appears to have been deftly excluded in advance by the crudities of Traditionis custodes. Yet ... surely ... that would be a very real Surprise. Imagine the expression on Andrea Grillo's face!

The Swiss Guard will undoubtedly be given strict orders as they take up their positions in their fortified machine-gun posts around the Santa Marta. Admission Tickets will need to be carefully scrutinised. Only very 'safe' voices can be trusted to enter PF's "Protected Spaces".

14 September 2021


I drafted this piece before PF's hospitalisation and Traditionis custodes.

There are all those able Vaticanologists who know people ... what can you and I add in this poor little blog?

But here goes a putting together of two and two.

(1) The CDF received questions about the giving of Blessings to homosexual couples. CDF drafted their response.

(2) Cardinal Ladaria showed it to PF. The usual procedure is that the Pope signifies his approval of a document and orders it to be published. BUT, this time, he simply said that he had been informed, and gave his assent to its publication. 

(3) At a subsequent Public Audience, he berated Rigid People. 

(4) An American priest devoted to a certain brand of ministry got in touch with PF: who replied in a very personal, positive, and hand-written way.

(5) Meanwhile, rumours had been circulating that PF was planning an intervention regarding the the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite.

Perhaps this simply leaves these questions: exactly how cross is PF? Cross enough to over-rule the criticisms already made by his curial advisers?

13 September 2021


A Times book review by Andrew Taylor (on Simon Thurley's Palaces of Revolution) observes

"It is difficult to forget Sir John Denham, Charles II's first Surveyor of the King's Works, when you know that that, increasingly incapacitated physically and mentally by tertiary syphilis, he informed his royal master that he was the Holy Ghost."

Golly, that must have been quite a Surprise.

12 September 2021

Lost indulgences

In the first decade of the sixteenth century, the first monarch of the House of Tudor demolished the old Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey so that it might be replaced by a new spectacular perpendicular chapel, where he and his family were to be buried, but which was technically to be the shrine of a great royal saint matching that of S Edward the Confessor nearby. Pope Julius II issued bulls authorising the introduction of the cause for the canonisation of Henry VI and the translation of his body from Windsor to this new chapel. The steps leading up to it were endowed with the same Indulgence that was attached to the Sancta Scala (the steps of Pilate's praetorium, transferred by Constantine from Jerusalem to Rome).

Henry VII was seeking to cloak himself in the aura of the saintly Lancastrian, 'our uncle of blessed memory', whose name, and whose descent from Catherine de Valois, he shared. So he saw to it that his chapel was adorned with all that was most sumptuous in the decorative arts of medieval England and renaissance Italy.

Hindsight, cruelest of the daughters of Clio, informs us that there never was to be either a Tudor King Arthur I (and II and III) or a canonised Saint Henry VI to swell the pilgrim numbers in the Abbey; that the England of popes, Indulgences, and chantries had less than forty years to run.

But that chapel, in much of its original magnificence and splendour, still remains.

One thing, however, has been ruthlessly stripped away from it in our own time.

When S Paul VI 'reformed' the system of Indulgences, he suppressed (in 1967) all the old Indulgences which had hitherto been available to God's people but had not been confirmed by his own Curia. Throughout the territories of the Latin Churches, Indulgences, multiplied over the centuries by popes and bishops, lay on the ground in greater profusion than the conkers do this autumn. They were popular: even after the Henrician schism, John Veysey Bishop of Exeter continued to grant them, and I doubt if he was the only Bishop to do so. 

But with Papa Montini, they were cleared away.

So no longer can pilgrims to Westminster acquire the Indulgence of the Sancta Scala as they ascend Henry Tudor's steps. No longer do the graces granted by that frightening old war-monger Papa della Rovere allure the faithful.

They were not expunged by Protestants or schismatics, but by a Roman Pontiff.

Even Luther, the Fraterculus, might have been amused.

11 September 2021

Wow! Whoopee!! (CORRECTED)

Today, Saturday, the London Eucharistic Octave begins, with His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop celebrating a Votive of the Most Blessed Sacrament at noon (hurry!) in the church of Corpus Christi  in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Then, throughout the week, there is Mass in various Uses at 6.30 in the evening in the same church: Monday, in the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite; Tuesday, in the Divine Worship form of the Roman Rite (i.e. the Ordinariate Rite ... basically the Usus Authenticus in Tudor English with some additions from the Anglican Tradition); Wednesday, in the Usus Novus of the Roman Rite; Thursday, in the Ukrainian form of the Byzantine Rite; and, on Friday, a Solemn Requiem for those who have died of Covid.

On SUNDAY (NOTICE THIS CORRECTION OF MY EARLIER CULPABLE ERROR) 19 September, at 3.30, there is planned a Blessed Sacrament Procession from the Assumption and S Gregory in Warwick Street: which was originally the Portuguese embassy Chapel in the 'penal' days when the only Catholic Worship legally offered in England was in the extra-territorial embassies of the Catholic powers. The Marquis of Pombal ... a sinister figure if ever there was one ... will have worshipped there!

Later, it became the Bavarian embassy Chapel, and so it has housed a number of Jacobite liturgical celebrations while the House of Wittelsbach has been de jure the Royal House of the Three Kingdoms. It then fell upon hard times, as the home of "Gay Masses"; these caused some disquiet in Rome, with the result that the church was, instead, handed over to the Ordinariate, where it houses our splendid liturgical heritage. 

The Procession will make Stations at the Jesuit church in Farm Street and at the Ukrainian Cathedral in Duke Street ... before ending up at S James, Spanish Place for Pontifical Benediction. This is yet another former embassy Chapel; I understand that it still possesses a Spanish flag so that, if the Rector suddenly hears of an imminent visit by the King's Majesty of Spain, he can sprint into his church and instantly haul up the Spanish flag in honour of His Most Catholic Majesty. The Rector, incidentally, is the same Father Christopher Colvin whom many readers will remember as Administrator of the (Anglican) Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!!!

The Procession will be led by the Ukrainian Eparch, and by Mgr Keith Newton, Episcopus quondam Rutupiensis, Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

What a potent symbol ... what a magnificent  prolepsis of Unity ... all this is! Together with Catholics who worship according to the Missal of S Pius V, there will be Byzantines in Full Communion with the See of S Peter; (former) Anglicans now in Full Communion with the See of S Peter; and even Bergoglians in Full Communion with the See of S Peter.

And the unity implied by these celebrations will be diachronic as well as synchronic: the churches hosting the beginning and the end of the Eucharistic Procession are churches dating from Recusant days ... before there was any such See as that of Westminster, founded in 1850. Farm Street, also, dates (just) from the era of the Vicars Apostolic. Bishop Challoner, pray for us all! Maiden Lane, on the other hand, was built after the Restoration of the Hierarchy, and so could be seen as a splendid representative of Flaminian Gate Catholicism. Cardinal Manning, pray for us all!

The Procession will be led by the two hierarchs who represent within the glorious unity of our English Catholic Church the liturgical inheritances of Byzantine and Anglican Christianity. 

At a time when it has quaintly been suggested that there is only 'unicus usus' of the Roman Rite' and that liturgical diversity implies disunity, or even a schismatic mentality, it is good to have such a public demonstration that the Church's Unity, in fact, is expressed by her great diversity and by the manifold variety of her rites.

As the authentic Magisterium of Roman Pontiffs has repeatedly and consistently proclaimed.

10 September 2021

Cassandra?? ??

The Times includes, among its Book Reviews on Saturdays, a suggestion about a book which is no longer hot-off-the-Press but is well worth a reread.

In this spirit, I offer  a book by the learned former Official Historian of the Knights of Malta, the acute and lucid Henry Sire [pronounced Seer].

'Former' because, under this Parrhesia pontificate, he was, unaccountably, expelled from the Order.

The Dictator Pope The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy. Regnery Publishing.

A taster: 

"Since Father Bergoglio, as a Jesuit, would need a dispensation to be appointed [bishop], it was necessary to obtain a report from his order, for which Cardinal Quarracino applied in 1991. It was provided by the Jesuit general, and it represents the most damning character study of Jorge Bergoglio composed by anyone before his election as pope. The text of the report has never been made public, but the following account is given by a priest who had access to it before it disappeared from the Jesuit archive: Father Kolvenbach accused Bergoglio of a series of defects, ranging from habitual use of vulgar language to deviousness, disobedience concealed under a mask of humility, and lack of psychological balance; with a view to his suitability as a future bishop, the report pointed out that he had been a divisive figure as provincial of his own order. ..."

9 September 2021

"BUT ..." Vivat Voltaire!!

 Fr David Palmer, a brother priest within the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham, has, as we say nowadays, been "cancelled" after being appointed Catholic Chaplain of the University of Nottingham. This is because he has been found guilty of having a Twitter Account in which he has unambiguously asserted Catholic Doctrine with regard to Abortion and Euthanasia.


Perhaps I should provide some background here for readers who do not have 'Anglican Previous'.

We in the Ordinariate come from the Church of England, where we belonged (in many cases) to an organisation called Forward in Faith. This group ran a very splendid monthly called New Directions. It was edited by a witty and highly intelligent woman called Sara Lowe (now a Catholic); and much of the content was supplied by the Revd Dr Geoffrey Kirk. He was one of the most effective satirists of the century; he continued to write sparkling satire after joining the Ordinariate (sadly, he is now dead; his Catholic blog was called Ignatius his Conclave and it contains beautiful, still relevant, demolitions of Bergoglianity).

Back in those Anglican days, we were subjected to much criticism. Establishments, Anglican or Secularist, tend ... in the memorable words of Corporal Jones in Dad's Army ... "not to like it up 'em". (They particularly dislike satire ... not least because they simply cannot stand, poor proud poppets, being laughed at.)

Much of the criticism came in the form of "You are of course entitled to express your views ... but it is your tone and manner that are unacceptable".

(Notice in 'unacceptable' the management trick of using grammatical forms which elide admissions of agency.)

Sometimes, it was a matter of "We atcherlee agree with the substance of your opinions, but the tone and manner with which you express them bring us all into disrepute".

So we of the Ordinariate know all about the disdainful modes of attempted censorship which come so easily to the lips and pens of the lordly clerisy of the Zeitgeist.


Back to Fr David Palmer.

Nottingham University has asserted: "Our concern was not in relation to Father David's views themselves, or the tenets of the Catholic faith which we fully respect, but the manner in which these views have been expressed in the context of our diverse community of people of many faiths."

Loverlee!! (You won't have failed to notice the word manner. And another 'management' term is concern. Management People are never so endearingly human as to be hopping mad; as Very Superior Persons, they feel only the more lofty and Whig emotion of concern.)

Of course  they're not trying to censor Fr Palmer's (and the Catholic Church's) beliefs. Oh dearie me No; of course not. Stupid they may be ... undoubtedly are ... but they are bright enough to be aware that overtly doing that would put them in the wrong.

We live in an imperfect world and we clerics partake of that imperfection. In every situation, possibly, something could have been said or done ... given hindsight ... in a better way. But perfection and omniscience are characteristics of the Godhead. They are not conveyed by the Sacrament of Holy Order.

We are bidden to preach the Gospel eukairos akairos. And to do so meta parrhesias. Palmer did just that.

In my view, it is essential to support Fr David Palmer in every possible, conceivable, way. And not to have any truck with equivocating formulae smuggled in by the conjunctive BUT.

I don't know if Voltaire, entertaining old gent, ever really did say "I totally disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

If he didn't, he should have done.

8 September 2021

How should we English "KAI TA LOIPA"?

So (aspicitis omnes modum hodiernum loquendi!) what is the Modern English for et cetera (or et caetera)?

D L Sayers, who had a deliciously careful ear for individuals and their idiolects, records a lower-middle-class woman undergradute who (1935) employed for this purpose the word "things" (would the Cockney equivalent have been "fings"?). 

" My mother's one of those people who work to get things open to women -- you know -- professions and things ... And they've made lots of sacrifices and things." 

But tempora mutantur

Nowadays, quite a few modish people say "earn stuff".

Exempli gratia: "I went shopping to get the foie gras* earn stuff." Or "I loathe Boris Johnson earn stuff."


Footnote 1: I suspect that I am not the only teacher who has occasionally snarled at a student "etc. means and all the other things I am supposed to know but don't." 

*Footnote 2: We are told that now, "having got Brexit done", we are fortunate enough to "have got our country back"; and so, naturally, the importation of foie gras will ... so rumour has it ... soon be made illegal. And the supplier in County Kerry from whom we have in the past bought our (wild Atlantic) smoked salmon tells us that, because of Brexit, he can no longer oblige. 

Seems like rank tyranny to me.

Is all this true? If so, I am tempted to return to the Sussex Coast and organise a massive smuggling business importing necessary foods (disguised as illegal immigrants so as to fool the Home Secretary and her Border Force). 

Rudyard Kipling's splendid Smugglers' Song will need another stanza, in (of course) the authentic old Sussex dialect as still spoken on Commuter Trains. It could be adopted as the anthem of the Free Britain guerilla force I am thinking of founding. Is there a tune that would fit?

7 September 2021

The Tridentine Rite and the Anglican Patrimony (5)

In conclusion, I would like to make a few remarks about principle.

I have heard it argued ... I think, by Cardinal Wuerl ... that the Extraordinary Form is not part of the Anglican Patrimony. I find this difficult to understand, and, if you have read the first four parts of this piece, so will you. Of course, the Extraordinary Form was never officially authorised in the Church of England or the American and Australian branches of the Anglican Communion. But, then, neither was the Ordinary Form. Certainly, in England, the Anglo-Papalist movement which is our own much loved ecclesial background did use the Tridentine Rite, used it and loved it, and suffered persecution for that use and for that love. The Missale Romanum was the gold standard, with the English Missal providing, over half a century, an intermediate stage in the journey towards its full adoption. That is the place we have come from.

In any case, the Magisterium has solved the matter.  Anglicanorum coetibus makes clear (Paragraph III) that Ordinariate clergy may use the Roman Rite as well as using their own liturgical books, and the Apostolic Constitution makes no distinction here between the two forms of the Roman Rite which exist by law in the Latin Church. And Summorum Pontificum established that, in principle, every Catholic priest of the Latin rite may use the Extraordinary Form without permission either from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary. To put the seal on it, the Ordinariate Order of Mass promulgated by Rome incorporates the Preparation, the Offertory Prayers, the Libera nos, the Last Gospel, from the Tridentine Rite. Thus these things have been formally accepted by Rome as part of the Anglican Patrimony. Roma locuta est.

This series is now complete. I include a Comment from an old thread which is of great interest ... it shows how the Anglo-Papalist clergy in one of our great churches reacted to the 1960s.

6 September 2021

The Tridentine Rite and the Anglican Patrimony (4)

The 1960s came as a nasty shock to Anglo-Catholicism. They were expecting reform from Rome, but not the sort of radical rupture which was to occur. Thus, writing in 1962, a Fr Bertram Jones, Vicar of Wrawby (New Rites ... Right or Wrong?) acknowledged that "the desirability of revising the Roman Mass ... is evident, though haste should be, and probably will be, avoided. Eventually, it is almost certain, a revised Roman Mass will emerge, with the Latin Canon inviolate but much, if not all, of the audible part in the vernacular". He urged, for use within the Church of England, "the interim policy of treating the Roman Mass in Latin as the norm to be used whenever and wherever, all things relevant carefully considered, it is practicable to use it; the rite of 1662 and the vernacular for the audible parts as the only permissible deviations from it; and the Gregorian Canon, silent and in Latin (with the 1662 Prayer of Consecration permissibly interpolated), as of strict obligation in every Mass".

Fr Jones was, as most Anglo-Catholic clergy still were, very attached to the Roman Canon. He cited "a former Regius Professor of Divinity and certainly no uncritical admirer of all things Roman, Dr Alexander Nairne" as calling it "the best of prayers (if not the best of all Latin compositions) in its direct, unadorned prayerfulness". He strongly prefered that it be used in Latin, reminding readers that "'to be learned in the Latin tongue' was a requirement laid down no less for Anglican ordinands than for Roman". As for the silent recitation, he had "no doubt that the Holy Spirit has not only inspired the words of the Canon, but led the Western Church to the practice of quiet at that part of the Holy Mysteries and that it is unlikely ever to be abandoned".

Within five years, a raw policy of naked aggression against Tradition had put paid to everything which Anglo-Papalists such as Jones thought to be obvious. Since they had always believed in Roman Authority over Liturgy, reluctantly, and most unfortunately, they buckled down to the new rites, simply because they believed that Rome had abolished the old rites. We now know that this is not so. Summorum Pontificum clarified the matter (which had remained uncertain ever since a Committee of Cardinal Canonists in the 1980s had come to the conclusion that ythe old Roman Missal had never canonically been abolished, their report being left unpublished out of fear for its possible consequences).

A few churches continued to use the English Missal, but they were regarded as eccentric. It was the authorisation of the Ordinariate Rite which restored the substance of the English Missal.

To be concluded.

5 September 2021

"Ebbsfleet has poped"

 What a joy it is that these dear old Anglo-Catholic verbs still survive. A famous poem by Sir John Betjeman asked "And has Sam Gurney poped?" (Sam Gurney never did.) Time was, when so many Anglican Catholics, cleric and laic, seemed to be hanging on in the House of Bondage (S J H Newman's turn of phrase) by their finger-tips, keeping all in suspense. Dr Mascall's Ultra Catholic, in that exquisitely snide final line, revealed that he "would have gone last thursday week, had not my wife objected". 

But when Pope Benedict issued his Great Invitation, the Ultra priests who had always said that, if Certain Things happened, they would be off, mysteriously seemed all to be still in place. It was the more solidly Anglican clerics who sheepishly turned up with Dossiers to be sent to Rome.

And now the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, has joined that noble procession of poping clerics. He deserves genuine admiration: it is no secret that the numbers of poping clerics has slumped since PF gave a new twist or two to the Petrine Ministry. Bishop Jonathan has demonstrated that the divine imperative to be in communion with the See of S Peter remains as strong as ever, whether in the times of a good pope or of, er, a Pope Francis.

Ebbsfleet has a striking history. When the C of E made 'pastoral' provision for the irreconcileables, the See of Ebbsfleet (a suffragan see of Canterbury, named not after the Railway Station or the Sandbank but after the spot where S Augustine landed) was invented, and its first 'Flying Bishop' was John Richards. He had been a solid member of the Exeter Mafia ... clerics identified with that distinctly Catholic diocese ... and had become one of Exeter's Archdeacons. This meant that he was in charge of clergy discipline and ensuring that the parishes paid their "quota". It was assumed that he would keep his iffy clergy in order; in fact, his gifts and energies were immediately refocussed on defending Catholicism against the liberal bullies. He was a very great pontiff; 'flying bishops' had little canonical authority, but 'JR' had immense auctoritas. His District contained more than a hundred parishes. When, on my retirement from teaching, I came on the market, he very wisely snapped me up.

His successor, Michael Houghton, soon died of heroic over-work. The next Bishop, Andrew Burnham, was also dogged by health problems (and so, for some years, JR continued to 'look after' the South West). But when he got going, Bishop Andrew focussed his attention on RITA (Rome is the answer). He knew that our movement needed a teleology; he reorganised the District as 'The Ebbsfleet Apostolic District' with Romish structures and terminology, and did an enormous amount to organise the movement which resulted in the 'appeal' to Pope Benedict and ... what happily followed.

Let us hope that there will be a long succession of "Bishops of Ebbsfleet", after whose names one will append in brackets the proud information "(poped)".

4 September 2021

The Tridentine Mass and the Anglican Patrimony (3)

Thus it is recorded of one of our more eccentric clergy, Fr Sandys Wason, of Cury and Gunwalloe, that as he approached to Altar on dark weekday mornings, he would murmur to his server "Anyone here?", and if the answer were negative, would reply "Good. Latin Mass". Mr Kensit's inventory of the enormities he found in Cury church concluded "But yet more, the Vicar dares to use A ROMAN MISSAL"! In the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, no longer in the Sacristy but since the 1960s preserved among the archives, are large numbers of the Missale Romanum, showing many evidences of long and continuous use. And there were churches in which everything, even on Sundays, was Tridentine and in Latin (details in M Yelton Anglican Papalism).

Since the revival of 'ritual' in the Church of England, there had been a tendency for the Advanced, Extreme behaviour of one generation to have become 'mainstream' in the next. Thus, as the twentieth century progressed, there was much less bother about the perceived enormities of the previous century, such as candles, Eastward Position, the Mixed Chalice, Mass vestments, even incense and sacring bells. Many of the bishops were now doing these things or some of them themselves. The new controversies centred round the Presence and the Sacrifice: the extra-liturgical cultus of the Blessed Sacrament (Benediction, Exposition, Corpus Christi Processions); and the Canon of the Mass. In other words, bishops did their best to ban Benediction and to stop the interpolation of the Canon of the Mass, said silently, before and after Cranmer's Consecration Prayer.

This made the bishops very unpopular. Just imagine. A group of disaffected Protestant laity would go to a bishop with their list of complaints about their 'High Church' Vicar; the Bishop would promise to do something about it when he came to appoint the next Vicar (the present one enjoying Parson's Freehold, and hence being unsackable). But what Protestant laity very often wanted was the return of Morning Prayer instead of the Eucharist as the main service on a Sunday morning; if not that, they desired at least the removal of incense, chanting, servers, candles, bells. Their list of desired 'reforms' would almost certainly not include the removal of the Canon of the Mass, for the very simple reason that the Vicar said it silently during the singing of the Sanctus and Benedictus. They had never heard it and so they didn't even realise that they ought to be violently against it! 

The bishop would promise to see that the next Vicar was less Extreme. When the time came, he extracted from candidates for the job an undertaking that they would abandon the Canon and, in its place, use the "Interim Rite" (which meant that two of Cranmer's prayers, gummed together, replaced the Canon).

The Low Church Laity were furious. They knew nothing about the importance of the Canon, and gave the Bishop no credit for its elimination. All they saw was that the Bells and Smells continued. They were convinced that the Bishop had done the dirty on them. Bishops became, in their eyes, devious and deceitful men who broke their promises; shifty individuals, hand in glove with 'extreme' clergy, who never looked you in eye. Catholic clergy and laity were as damning; when the living had become vacant, the bishop had assured them with his nicest pastoral smile that he would "maintain the Catholic Tradition" at S Luke's; instead, he appointed a member of the group which was coming to be called "Protestants in Chasubles". 

To outsiders, the worship in S Luke's remained completely 'Romish'; little did they understand the subtleties of whether the "Western Rite" or the "Interim Rite" was in use. All they saw was complex ritual. One old Anglo-Catholic shrine church, All Saints Margaret Street, fell into the hands of such a priest; he banned from the hospitality of his altars clergy who used the Canon. Wagging a forefinger, he would say "You know the rule here, my dear; choreography according to Fortescue but libretto by Cranmer".

For some half a century, the Anglo-Papalist clergy were persecuted for using the Canon Romanus. This resulted in an awareness of its enormous importance being branded deeply into their (our) memories. Even today such persecution continues in the Church of England; Anglican diocesans intimate that they will not make a fuss about any liturgical practice however technically illegal as long as an Anglican Eucharistic prayer is used. The Canon Romanus is something we have fought and suffered for.

To be continued.

3 September 2021

The Tridentine Rite and the Anglican Patrimony (2)

After this, he would revert to Latin and use all the elements of the Roman Rite from the communion up to the end of the Last Gospel; the only compromise being that he would not say Placeat tibi and bless the people a second time. Despite Fr Kenrick's disavowals, this is clearly a rite compiled by a man anxious to say as much as possible of the Tridentine Mass, and to say it in Latin. And Fr Kenrick could justify all this by neatly claiming that its very language marked out his Latin materials as only "private devotions of the priest". Mass at Hoxton cannot have been brief.

Copies of the first printed edition apppear to be quite rare; it did not give the Latin texts of the Propers, but translated them into English. But it obviously supplied a need, because the second and subsequent editions abound in churches all over England and were still being purchased and used in the 1950s.

But, as the century progressed, Kenrick's nervous protestations of loyalty to the Prayer Book gave place to a new attitude among Anglo-Catholics, which was doctrinally and ecclesiologically based. An influential book The Truth about the Prayer Book was published in 1935 by Fathers Alban Baverstock and Donald Hole, in which they argued that the Prayer Book was in fact illegitimate and the Roman Rite the truly lawful liturgy of the Provinces of Canterbury and York (this was how many Anglo-Papalists preferred to refer to their Church; it was two lamentably separated provinces of the Western Church and not, as the phrase 'Church of England might suggest, an independant ecclesial body). "The Missal and Breviary formed the only 'prayer book' possessing canonical authority in the Church of England. Then, suddenly, an entirely new liturgy was forced upon the English provinces by the authority of Parliament. It possessed no spiritual or canonical authority whatever. Its introduction was in no sense the act of the Church of England, it was thrust upon an unwilling Church at the point of a sword." Even more significantly, they were inclined to argue that, anyway, "it would have been ultra vires for a provincial synod to abrogate a rite which had the prescriptive use of a thousand years behind it in the West".

This Altar book existed in many places in combination with the Missale Romanum. Depending on how 'instructed' his congregation was, a priest might use the English Missal  on Sundays, and the Missale Romanum on weekdays, and particularly at private Masses. The culture was: the Missale Romanum was the truly lawful book of the Western Latin Church of which we were (sadly, canonically separated) members members; the English Missal was a way of working towards that ideal.
To be continued.

2 September 2021

An Imminent Centenary

 "A summer's evening: On the evening of July 6th, 1922, the bells in the quiet old Norfolk village of Walsingham rang out in a merry peal as a small procession carrying an image of ancient design moved into the church from the south porch, where it had just been hallowed by that much loved priest of the Catholic revival [in the Church of England] Father Alban Baverstock.

"A halt was made at the famous Seven Sacrament [sic] font, and the then Vicar of Holy Trinity, Reading, standing on the steps, delivered a stirring sermon on the significance of the event then taking place. At its conclusion the procession re-formed; girls carrying boughs of sweet-smelling syringa preceded the image and a small company of nine priests, followed by people of the village all singing happily in Our Lady's honour, accompanied by the still clashing bells and the pealing organ, proceeded to the Guilds' Chapel in the same church. And there, on a pillar, the statue was set up, looking towards the ruins of the old Augustinian Priory, to the north of which the original shrine of the Holy House once stood. The Rosary was said, and Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament concluded the simple yet moving ceremony.

"Our Lady of Walsingham had come back.

" --- [thereafter, prayer was offered daily] for the return of the Ecclesia Anglicana to union with the Holy See -- the ultimate aim of the Catholic revival in this land." (Father Hope Patten, 1954)

So, in a few months time, we shall have the centenary of the restoration in the village of Little Walsingham, under the auspices of leading members of the Anglican Papalist movement, of one of Europe's greatest pilgrimages.

I hope something will happen!

This coming Saturday, the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham will be on pilgrimage to England's Nazareth. Devout readers might wish to pray for them: here is part of a prayer used since the early days of the restoration.

Most holy Virgin! I prostrate myself in spirit before thy Shrine at Walsingham, that Sanctuary favoured by thy visits, favours, and many miracles. I unite myself with all those who have ever sought thee, and do now seek thee, in that holy place, and join my prayers with theirs. But especially I unite my intentions with the intentions of the Priests who offer the Holy Sacrifice upon thy Altar there. ...

Dear Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham, remember me.



1 September 2021

The Tridentine Rite and the Anglican Patrimony (1)

The point of this piece and one or two which will probably follow it is to give chapter and verse for my conviction that what, until recently, we called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is an integral, historical part of the liturgical inheritance which we brought with us into full communion when we accepted Benedict XVI's offer of an Ordinariate. Quite apart from wider considerations involving the entire Latin Church, it is clear to me that any attempt to deprive Ordinariate clergy of the use of the Ancient and Authentic Form of the Roman Rite is ultra vires and a breach of an implicit undertaking. It is an attack on what I signed up for when I entered the Ordinariate. I regard this as a relevant subject at a time when the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite is under attack..

Go into any Anglo-Catholic sacristy in England and, gathering dust on some top shelf, you will find The English Missal  Missale Anglicanum. And probably more than one copy in more than one edition.

Fr Henry William Gordon Kenrick, 1862-1943 was its only begetter. An evangelical in origin, he trained at the London Divinity School. Having discovered the Catholic Faith, he was, from 1905 until 1937, Vicar of Holy Trinity Hoxton; years in which Anglo-Catholicism flourished in the Church of England, in its most Tridentine form.

The genesis of his EM appears to be a Missal, hand-written for the most part between June 1904 and the beginning of 1907, which is now in Pusey House Library accompanied by a letter from the compiler and scribe. He claims that he used it at the Altar "for some time and then translated into English, made many additions then got it printed as 'The English Missal'". Published in 1912, throughout its history it bore the publisher's name of W Knott.

In his introduction to the original manuscript Missal, Fr Kenrick nervously states that its "idea" was "to group the great pictures of the world around the Altar ... There is here also an attempt to combine absolute loyalty to the English Church and Liturgy with the felt want of systematic aids to the private devotions of the priest". This device ... the provision of private devotions ... goes back to the beginning of the provision of Anglo-Catholic Altar Books; the erudite Rector of North Cerney, Fr P G Medd (compiler also of the Prayer Book in the original Latin of its Medieval and earlier sources), produced The Priest to the Altar in 1861 ("privately ... sold to subscribers) "after some consultation with Canon Liddon and other friends resident in Oxford" (Liddon himself was accustomed to say the Canon of the Mass in Latin sotto voce when celebrating the Communion). In this book, short passages coyly labelled "(Sarum)" provided, in English, extracts from the Roman Rite.

But Kenrick's manuscript goes much further than these earlier publications. It consists of nothing less than the entire Prayer Book eucharistic rite (homilies and all) in English, with almost the entire Roman Rite in Latin. Fr Kenrick writes "The Latin parts are sanctioned in principle by the Preface in the Book of Common Prayer 'Concerning the Service'. One who desires to use only the Prayer Book can do do by reading only the English parts of this book. Any exceptions need the sanction of the Bishop".

A priest using Fr Kenrick's Missal would say the Preparation at the foot of the altar, and the Introit, in Latin; followed by the introductory material from the prayer book (including the Commandments and the Collext for the King) in English, until he had read the Collect and Epistle for the day. He would then revert to Latin for the Gradual. Later in the service he would incorporate the Roman Canon before and after the Prayer Book Prayer of Consecration, and continue in Latin with the Lord's Prayer and all the other Roman material up to the Communion. After Communion he would say the Lord's Prayer - again, but this time in English. - and the rest of the Prayer Book material up to the end of the Gloria. Placeat tibi followed, and then the Prayer Book blessing (during which, since the Blessed Sacrament was still upon the Altar until the Ablutions, he had to genuflect before turning to bless the people).

To be continued.