14 November 2021


"They wish to call the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical forms."

This is the conclusion of the 1971 letter to Pope S Paul VI, which led him to grant the 'Agatha Christie Indult', allowing a survival of the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite in England.

The letter was signed by a number of highly distinguished people in British public life. Agatha Christie was one of them; there is a legend that S Paul VI recognised and was impressed by the sight of her name among the signatories! Hence ... "the Agatha Christie Indult."

But among the other names were Maurice Bowra; Colin Hardie; Max Mallowan (Christie's husband); Robert Mortimer; Iris Murdoch (my wife's Philosophy tutor); R C Zaehner (or did he transfer to Oriental Languages immediately after Classical Mods?); the Second Earl of Oxford and Asquith. These were all nationally famous Oxford Classicists: that is, they had "read Greats", the four-year prestigious Oxford course which included not only Latin and Greek Language and Literature and Ancient History, but also both Ancient and Modern Philosophy. Its official name is Litterae Humaniores. In aeternum floreat.

The 1971 Indult, and the reasons for which it was sought, are as relevant now, in this bleak and rigid and merciless pontificate, as ever they were in the gentler and more literate times of S Paul VI and Cardinal Heenan.

Scrub my words "as relevant": I should have written even more relevant.

Henceforth, I suggest an alternative title: THE GREATS INDULT.

Incidentally, I thought it was immensely jolly that Arthur Roche, careless chappy, has lost his copy of the Indult. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke, could it?

A Traditional Catholic Aristophanes would probably rejoice to subvert Euripides' prologues with the phrase "... lost his Indult."

 [In Operation Pax, is Mark Bultitude based on Bowra?]


Jhayes said...

I think that what is referred to as the "Indult" is the 5 November 1971 letter from A. Bugnini to Cardinal Heenan, which begins "Your Eminence,
 His Holiness Pope Paul VI, by letter of 30 October 1971, has given special faculties to the undersigned Secretary of this Sacred Congregation to convey to Your Eminence, as Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales, the following points regarding the Order of the Mass"

Perhaps it is the 30 October letter from Paul VI which can't be found.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Organisations, especially oppressive ones, have form when it comes to “ losing” inconvenient documents.

P. O'Brien said...

But Benedict XVI said that the Old Mass had never been "officially" forbidden. So why an indult? Paul VI really did more harm to the Traditional Latin Mass than Francis has...so far.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

That should be Modern "Philosophy", for a massive strangulation of which in its cradle, see Prof. Dr Wolfgang Smith's paper, "From Schroedinger's Cat To Thomistic Ontology".


PM said...

According to Eammon Duffy, when the curial protectors of Charles Maurass, whom Pius XI was determined to condemn, told His Holiness, after months of stalling, that the file regrettably could not be found (that wonderful evasive passive, as if it was the file;s fault), an enraged Pius summoned the entire personnel of the curia and told them that if they didn't find it within 48 hours he would sack the lot of them and send them out to be curates in the slums.

Needless to say, the errant file let itself be found.

coradcorloquitur said...

Another mysteriously "missing" document is the report of Father Kolvenbach (Dutch Superior General of the Jesuits at the time of John Paul II) regarding the unsuitability of Jorge Mario Bergoglio for the episcopacy---a caveat recklessly ignored by the pope some now call "the Great," the very pontiff who paved Bergoglio's way to higher office all the way to the papacy. But serious sources affirm the document is no myth or urban tale; however, given the mafioso style of governance that obtains in Casa Santa Marta---for all to behold and weep except the most abject papolator---it would be astounding if said document could still be found. Oh, for the joys of aggiornamento's springtime!

PS---On a much happier note, if the new British film on C. S. Lewis, "A Most Reluctant Convert," comes to town do not fail to see it. It is a mighty testimony to the power (and truth) of Christianity, charmingly narrated and acted. I am not sentimental, considering as I do, sentimentality one of the most efficacious tools of our common enemy to soften us into submission; but it was hard to keep dry eyes given the very English and robust depiction of a great conversion from atheism (later agnosticism) to the faith of Christ. What a mystery that the great Lewis never swam the Tiber (class and cultural impediments, as in the case of the equally great T. S. Eliot?). The film also depicts the beauties of leafy Oxford, a magical place I have visited twice but never stayed long, much to my regret.

william arthurs said...

The wikipedia article on Sir Harold Acton (1904-1994) notes that he was the "first" signatory of the letter. I imagine all this means is that signatories were listed in alphabetical order of surname.

That article also notes that Sir Harold read "Modern Greats". I don't think that counts !

PM said...

John Paul II was overwhelmingly a force for good. But one of his weaknesses was inattention toe ht quality of the episcopate: he let many dreadful appointments go through, I suspect in part because he thought he was the only bishop who really mattered. Benedict XVI, in his quiet way, was much better in this regard.

PM said...

'to the'. apologies for the typo.

Andrew T said...

Tut-tut, Father. Literae Humaniores? In aeternum floreANT!

Andrew T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.