30 November 2022

S Andrew's Day ...

... is not only the Patronal Festival of Scotland and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but also the felicitous and significant day upon which Cardinal Pole absolved this realm of England from schism in 1554. Moreover, it is the anniversary of a marvellous scene on S Andrew's Day in 1569: the Absolution of the Diocese of Durham from Heresy and Schism. (Also a day to reread Eamon Duffy's Fires of Faith?)

It is, moreover, if we gaze back at the Protohistory of the Ordinariate, the anniversary of the Consecration of Andrew Burnham as Bishop of Ebbsfleet (it was to be Bishop Andrew who appealed to Pope Benedict for help; thus formally setting in motion the process that led to the Ordinariate). In those days, the old Anglican system persisted in the Province of Canterbury of consecrating all bishops in London, and Andrew was 'done' in S Paul's Cathedral. My three main memories (apart from George Carey's dismal liturgical instincts) are of someone trying to die in the pew behind me in the South transept; of a remarkably inapposite sermon in which the preacher appeared to be making fun of the Orthodox (which is also the Catholic) practice of the Veneration of Relics; and of the scene, afterwards, on the steps outside.

As the custom used to be, the Consecration had been of two pontiffs for the price of one. The other consecrand was being provided to be a new suffragan for that illiberal liberal bishop, Selby of Worcester. Afterwards, at one end of the steps, a large queue formed up to kiss Bishop Andrew's ring and to receive his episcopal blessing. At the other end, the Worcester consecrand seemed to be doing a strange little ritual dance amid a small group of friends and family, intermittently yanking up his trousers to show off his Socks Of Many Colours (Diversity Socks?). Perhaps he was a Mason, or an animist, or a cryptoBergoglian, or a reincarnation of Pachamama.

The Ebbsfleet years were fun. And fine preparation for the real fun: the Ordinariate!

29 November 2022

Zucchini or Zucchetti?

 Apparently, after goodness knows how many proud years as the High Street's living, most vibrant, eyesore, the Mitre is reopening as ... an Italian 'chain' restaurant.

How depressing. Can anyone really imagine Peter Wimsey breakfasting Reggie Pomfret in an Eye-tie chain? Bad enough to live with the reality that Fuller's, home of coffee-and-walnut cake, is now a Burger King. That the Luna Caprese and the Elizabeth have gone oriental (not to mention most of Soho). 

And have you seen what the merciless Welsh hordes have done to the Cornmarket?

But now this.

Come friendly bombs and ... er ... Slough is no longer worthy of your attentions  ...

I have just one aspiration: that people will remember that I was the first to suggest ... in the interests of economy and concision ... that the old Mitre might be accorded the High Church nickname of Il Zucchetto.

Yes ... I do know that ...

28 November 2022

INDIETRISM and the Bull

PF is not averse to defending his new dogma-of-condemnation 'Indietrism' by citing ... exempli gratia ... earlier writers.

Such as S Vincent of Lerins, poor chap.

Is there a technical term for a theological or philosophical doctrine which carries within itself its own refutation?

Such as our old playmate the story of the Cretan intellectual who asserted that all Cretans were liars.

(Moi, I suspect S Paul of having a sense of humour.)

I commend PF for having ... if he truly has ... abandoned his former extensive lexicon of hate-filled abuse in favour of a nice shiny new one. (Entre nous, I never did understand what 'Neo-pelagian' meant.)

Was Epimenides married to Pasiphae? Moo Moo! Pull the other one!

Dom Gregory Dix and current management

In these two snippets, the great, if occasionally waspish, Patrimonial mystagogue is actually talking, not about a pope, but about the Church of England's bishops of the 1940s. I leave it to readers to discern whether there is any relevance here for our own decade.

"Old men in a hurry to realise their dearest dreams can be very short-sighted".

" ... even the best and most energetic of bishops will one day have rest from his labours, and ... the lance of his successor often delivers the diocese from the menace of some different windmill". (Perhaps an appropriate Coat of Arms for an episcopal admirer of Bergoglio might have been Sable semee of windmills rouge. Yes, I do know that ... )

Given the spirited enthusiasm, the erudition and wit with which Dom Gregory explained and defended the Decrees of Vatican I on the Primacy and Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, it is a shame that he is not around today to resume his defence of Pastor aeternus at a time when it is under such insistent implicit attacks from circles so very close to the Pontiff himself..

27 November 2022

Fr Aidan Nichols on Episcopal appointments

In August 2017, the finest theologian of the Anglophone world gave a lecture which was partially published in the Catholic Herald. The fact that the full text was not subsequently available gives rise to an inevitable suspicion that Father was pressurised.

Today, I would like simply to point out that, more than a year before Cardinal Mueller's disturbing  words about the sort of questionable individuals, theological illiterates signed up to Bergoglianism, who are being appointed to senior positions in the hierarchy; and before His Excellency Archbishop Vigano's revelations about the same subject, Fr Aidan had spoken with great clarity. His antennae must be very sensitive!

"[The pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, generally of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia."

"Of the closet variety" is an entertainingly old-fashioned phrase!

It was a few months before Dr Nichols' lecture that, on 19 November 2016, Cupich and Tobin were made cardinals.

The testimony of Archbishop Vigano asserted that the appointments of Cupich to Chicago (November 18 2014) and of Tobin to Newark (November 7 2016) "were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga, and Wuerl ... their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark".

It would be a good thing if, henceforth, the terna of names submitted by Nuncios to the Holy See for a vacant bishopric were to be published. 

God's people should not have to wait for a Vigano (God bless him) to come along before they can know what is being proposed for their own Particular Church. They should not be deprived of the liberty to form their own minds both about the proposed three names, and ... if this occurs ... why all three have been set aside so that the job can be given to another.

They should be treated as Grown Ups.

This is what, in the Anglo-Saxon cultural world, is often known as ACCOUNTABILITY.

26 November 2022


 That's what it says at the top.

The third 'Note' goes like this: "We were very glad to welcome at the Monastery the exiled Metropolitan of Kieff, Anthony, and his chaplain, Fr.Theodosios. They stayed with us several days on the occasion of the Metropolitan's visit to England to consecrate the Archimandrite Nikolai as Russian Bishop in England."

And over the page: "The Father Abbot, accompanied by Fr. Dom Martin Collett, was present at this consecration, which took place in St Philip's Church, Buckingham Palace Road, and by special request of the Metropolitan and with the approval of the Bishop of London, Fr. Abbot wore cope and mitre.

"Bishop Nikolai subsequently paid a visit to Nashdom and was present at the Pontifical Mass on the Solemnity of St Benedict."

All that Orthodoxery ... Kieff ... fugitive Eastern European hierarchs ... ideological military units galumphing around Eastern Europe ... well, you will have guessed: this Magazine from the [Anglican] Benedictine Community at Nashdom is dated September 1929.

Tempora mutantur ... which is also why the formerly Anglican church of S Philip was later demolished to enable the expansion, of course, of the Coach Station. Wikipaedia takes up the story: "On 28 November [1918], Archbishop Anthony was raised tto the rank of metropolitan ... in January 1916, Metropolitan Anthony was present at the All-Ukrainian Church Council in Kiev. He then fled the city before the Bolshevik invasion. Following the killing of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Metropolitan Anthony was elected to the Kiev cathedra, and returned when the city was occupied by the imperial German Army. However, his election was not approved by the authorities because of his opposition to Ukrainian autocephaly.   

"... in Sepember 1920, he was invited by General Pyotr Wrangel to Crimea, then controlled by Wrangel's anti-Bolshevik forces. After the latter's defeat in November 1920, Anthony left Russia for good."

He went on to be one of the founders of ROCOR, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

The Anglican papalist movement which led finally to the Ordinariates was, rather surprisingly, very pro-Orthodox. You will not find it difficult to discover pictures of Fr Hope Patten and Fr Fynes Clinton hitting it off together with Russky hierarchs at Walsingham during the interbellum. 

I most heartily approve; it was a practical working out of the Ecclesiology espoused at that time by the Papacy, and explained in our own time by Cardinal Ratzinger in Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus.


25 November 2022

Peter Parsons, obiit 16 November 2022; Dix; and Lewis.

The inter-war years were a happy hunting ground for a particular type of Anglo-Saxon 'Biblical Scholar'. He [there were not so many shes] felt certain that, if he possessed a tiny number of pieces of evidence, all he needed to do was string them together correctly, and he would have a neat and convincing chronological model. S Mark's Gospel must be the earliest to have been written because it is so much simpler than other gospels; and its rough, primitive lack of sophistication ... blah blah ... You get the method. 

Promise me you will never use it.

Lack of formal structure also helped to keep this ship afloat. It stood to reason that simple, fluid structures must come earlier than complex rigidities. The complex, whether grammatical or philosophical or theological, must come later than (what seems to us to be) the unsophisticated. 

And we don't like Rigidity, do we?

The certainties of those interbellum years (Jazz, Tennis, Flappers and Cocktails) still survive, particularly in discussions about the Christian Ministry. And, not least, the Papacy. Even Eamon Duffy, no wide-eyed berserker, can begin his enquiries with the comfortable assumption that "To begin with indeed, there was no pope, no bishop as such. For the Roman Church was slow to develop ... " et cetera.

Divertingly, much of this culture had already shown its hand in 1929. A leading Anglican liberal, a Canon B H Streeter, had written an account of the 'Primitive' Church especially from the point of view of its Ministry. But ... poor old gent ... he had chosen just the moment when Dom Gregory Dix, Anglican Benedictine monk and historian ... wit ... gadly ... tormenter of liberals and exploder of easy and convenient simplifications ... mocker of bishops ... was just ... let's say, 'coming on stream'. He demolished Streeter's assumptions and crucified with his humour Streeter's solemn 'conclusions'.

Dix, then merely a youthful whippersnapper and iconoclast, had him for breakfast. Dix's paper was the first in his long, brilliant series of brilliant interventions. The Anglican bishops came to fear him. 

R A Knox was hardly any less merciless, despite having an episcopal father.

Please may I now draw you from 1929 to a period a little closer to our own time ...

Or rather, I would like, after a few preliminaries, to bring Professor Peter Parsons to your attention. This great scholar and unique Oxford classicist died a few days ago, 16 November 2022.

I have remarked that old presuppositions still survive among 'liberal' Christian academics. This fact, so it seems to me, is an example of the intellectual naivite of such writers and of their chronic inability to keep up with advances in the secular study of the ancient world. Greater men than me have pointed this out: here is a passage, written in 1998 by Peter Parsons, Regius Professor of Greek in this University and a very great papyrologist. He is surveying, in The Times Literary Supplement,  the large number of  'new' ancient Greek texts which the sands of Egypt had yielded in the couple of decades before he wrote. (It is worth adding that further papyrological discoveries in the two decades since, have done nothing to weaken his argument.)

" ... the new texts test the categories and structures of scholarship, the faible convenue which nineteenth century positivists based on the assumption that the texts then surviving were typical and to be explained simply in relation to one another. As usual, aesthetic prejudices and unquestioned categories lie below the scientific surface. 

"Scholars used to regard Aeschylus' Suppliants as the earliest of his plays; it has a simple plot, little action, and long choruses. Now a papyrus has dated it, less than ten years earlier than the Oresteia. False assumption: that artists develop in linear mode, from simple to complex, irrespective of theme. 

"Now that we have Simonides' celebration of the Battle of Plataea, the great patriotic war of classical Greece, we see how he reinvented epic in elegy, the Trojan war in the Persian war, Homer in himself.  Standard literary histories had put such generic mutations and complex intertextualities two centuries later. Another false assumption: that classical poets were all genius without artifice (and that their successors [of the 'Hellenistic' period] were all artifice without genius."

You might care also to consider this alongside C S Lewis's masterly demolition of 'Modern Biblical Scholarship' in Fern-seed and Elephants  ... And, as for  Q ...

The Noble Savage has truly fallen. Let us enjoy to the full the mightiness of his disintegration. 


24 November 2022

Mueller on That Flag

"In the Old Testament, the rainbow is considered  a sign of God's covenant and peace with mankind (Gen 9:11-17). However, the original religious meaning was transformed into a symbol for the peace movement. Since the 1970s the rainbow flag, in a reversal of the natural colour sequence, has been considered the the banner of the international LGBT ideology, which pretends to stand up against discrimination against homoerotically-inclined people, but is, in reality, the antithesis of natural and revealed anthropology."

I go along with his Eminence's analysis. And I am convinced that many of those who flaunt this flag are decent, well-meaning individuals deceived by forces deeper and darker than themselves. That does not change the fact that I (and many like me) are made to feel excluded, judged, and condemned when this flag is intruded into my (physical or moral) space. 

I have had it explained to me that the flag simply means that all are included; that nobody is excluded.


So, to apply the test which I apply to all such claims, we are required to believe that paedophiles are to be 'included'? That the acts which define their life-style must be accepted "inclusively" together with every other sexual life-style? That I am to be condemned if I decline to signify (both internally and in external gesture) my own acceptance of, and my own submission to, the ideology demonstrated by this flag?

I refuse and I decline and I repudiate this tyranny.

I have a private suspicion that the Enemy are not actually playing quite fair in this matter. I suspect that many of them are not actually campaigning for the 'inclusion' of paedophilia and those who practise it; and might even feel upset to have this suspected of them.

Just as I suspect that many of those who wear those multi-coloured tapes round their necks do not really mean to campaign (for example) for the 'inclusion' of Nazis and of Nazism.

But they are, poor poppets, gullible people who, without being able to hum even a bar of the Horst Wessel song, think they are adhering to something clean and noble and honourable in wearing the livery of 'inclusion'.

23 November 2022


The collects we use at the beginning of Mass, and in the Divine Office, quite often have the pattern 'O God, who ...., mercifully grant that...' Thus, in the rather legalistic manner which is characteristic of the ancient Roman rite and of pre-Christian Greek and Latin poetry, some characteristic or deed of the Deity is cited as an appropriate precedent for the grace which is now sought of Him. Many of Cranmer's collects in the Prayer Book reproduce this style, either because they are translations from collects in the old Roman Sacramentaries (most of his Sunday collects are) or because he was so used to the pattern that he automatically reproduced it in his own compositions.

But the ancient liturgical books of the Roman Church often abandon this style during Advent. Out goes the sonorous descriptive relative clause ('who......'); instead, in comes an almost breathless opening imperative, demanding of God immediate and decisive action. Many of them take off from a phrase in Psalm 80 (Vulgate 79) ‘Stir up [Excita in Latin] thy power, and come and help us'. (This suits Advent: that psalm calls in the name of oppressed Israel upon her Covenant with God for help against her enemies: why not read it as an Advent devotion!)

In the pre-Reformation service books, Cranmer found four of these Excita collects appointed for Sundays and some more on the weekdays of the Ember Week. He kept two of them; and so does the Ordinariate Missal (which also admirably provides the old Collects for Advent II and the Ember Friday). Those two are:

(1) The collect for the last Sunday (and its week) before Advent. Sadly, this collect is rarely heard nowadays on Sundays because it is displaced by the proper collect for Christ the King. It used popularly to be associated by English tradition with the start of work upon the Christmass pudding. The references to stirring and fruit helped here!
(2) Advent 4. Unfortunately (there is evidence that when he did this work in 1548-9 he was working fast and not going back over his drafts with a revising hand) Cranmer obscured in translation the Biblical origin of the original by writing 'O Lord, raise up...' instead of retaining - as he did for Trinity 25 - the vivid 'Stir up...'. And the end misses a point in the Latin, which could literally be translated ‘..that what our sins get in the way of, the forgiveness of thy mercy may accelerate.’ I suspect that this may go back to an early Christian and Pauline notion that whether the parousia comes later or earlier may to a degree depend upon the actions of Christians.

This collect survived into the English Anglican Common Worship for use on Advent 2. In the revised post-Vatican II Roman rite it is relegated to the relative obscurity of a weekday. Indeed, modern Roman liturgical tinkerers seem even more hostile than do Anglican ones to these superb and virile old collects. They replace them with other collects which may be taken from old Roman sacramentaries, but which are more pedestrian in their syntax and shy away from mention of Sin. The pre-Vatican II liturgy had a fair bit to say about human sinfulness and its disastrous consequences. Post-Vatican II, the ethos seems too often to be 'God, because of your grace, we are not really too bad; a bit more of your grace will make us even better’. Pure Pelagianism.

For Advent I, Cranmer composed a stately expression of the Advent themes - indeed, some of its phrases are reminiscent of parts of the post-Conciliar Roman Advent prefaces. It is preserved in the Ordinariate Missal. When it used to be said at least twice daily all through Advent, it must have provided a superb catechesis of the meaning of the season. Nowadays it usually only gets a showing on the Sunday, and I rather wonder whether it says too much for one collect used once (of course, those poor clerics who are stuck with using the Novus Ordo could use it throughout Advent to conclude the Intercession). The old Roman Sacramentaries, in my view, were right to be terse and thematically tight. Renaissance writers such as Cranmer found it hard to resist the temptation to greater verbosity, and later practitioners were to become far worse: see, for example the BCP collect for Epiphany 6, where the writer (Cosin?) seems actually to forget, by the time he gets to the end of the collect, that he started off by addressing the Father.

My views will be clear: few people have written better collects than popes Leo, Damasus, Gelasius or Gregory; and if Cranmer has provided an English Version, why look a gift-horse in the mouth? Christian people whose Latin is rusty, whether or not they originate in the Anglican Patrimony, can do worse than to keep the Ordinariate Missal or the Book of Common Prayer on their desks.

22 November 2022


"The beautiful Game" is how prissy and pompous English addicts have described 'Association Football'. But the present nonsenses in Qatar suggest ... I put it to you ... that "The Ridiculous Game" would be a far more appropriate title.

Apparently, 'England' teams want to begin their 'games' by 'Taking The Knee'. This, I am told, honours a dead American, described in some sources as a petty criminal, who was murdered by a vicious Plod (who, very justly as far as I am aware, has been convicted and locked away). This rather medieval ritual observance is included in something called 'Black Lives Matter', to which I strongly object. All lives matter. 

Mine, for example.

And I have yet to see a banner proclaiming Unborn Lives Matter. 

And our footy ballers in Qatar, acute moral theologians the lot of them, have manifested a desire to wear armbands based on that objectionable rag, the Diversity Flag, and with the slogan 'One Love'. I don't quite understand this; but I suspect that it attempts to subsume under one and the same heading all the different versions of human sexuality.

'One Love', therefore, presumably affirms Paedophilia, just as it also affirms all the rest of those jolly philias. Ours, surely, must be the Philiaphile species!

Godda be inclusive, y'know. 

Free The Maxwell One.

And what about Bestially Orientated Folk? 

Godda be inclusive.

Woof Woof. Sniff sniff.

21 November 2022


 I have enjoyed a piece in AVE, the newsletter of the [Anglican] Society of Mary, about the Pilgrimage to Lourdes which, nearly fifteen yeats ago, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, led; and at which he preached during the International Mass over which Cardinal Kasper presided. 

Rowan recently said:

"I have never on any other occasion in my entire life preached to more people about Jesus than on that day. And just think -- it was Our Lady that made that possible."

Yes. That's rather how I felt, soon after we entered into Full Communion, when I led the annual Rosary Procession from Westminster to Brompton, and preached there from that lovely 20th Century baroque pulpit.

What a privilege! How kind so many people have been to me!

The Brompton and Birmingham Oratories must be within the half-dozen ... No; fewer ... finest Catholic churches in Great Britain. Fitting settings, you will be thinking on this Feast of our Lady's Presentation, to celebrate our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Light! [Readers will be aware how, in Byzantine iconography, Light is such an important element in the celebration of this festival.] You could visit her shrine in Clacton-on-Sea (although the fine neo-Romanesque church there was horribly vandalised by ... er ... )

Ave Regina Caelorum! Ave Domina Angelorum!!

20 November 2022

The See of Westminster; Episcopal Conferences; and Cardinal Mueller again.

This piece was originally posted in March 2015. Subsequently, I refined and strengthened and shortened it using information supplied by kind readers.  In my view, the most important parts of this are the two passages from Cardinal Mueller.

I would like to emphasise that this is not some attack on any current Archbishop of Westminster. I have simply taken the English situation as an example of a very important ecclesiological point which relates equally to every part of the Latin Church. I just happen to know a little more about the ecclesiatical history of England than I do about that of Portugal or Poland or Peru.

Non-Catholics often misunderstand the position of the Archiepiscopal See of Westminster; and this can lead to unfairness towards its occupant. I think this whole question is of importance because it bears on matters of ecclesiological doctrine which, in fact, are the real basis of many of the Church's current upheavals. Which is how Cardinal Mueller will, nearer the end of this piece, come into the question.

The Archbishop of Westminster is not, as journalists and others often appear to assume, a sort of Catholic equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Independant Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse ... Case Study the Archdiocese of Birmingham worked this out (June 2019 paragraph 5): "A cardinal does not have authority over an archbishop or bishop and so it is a misconception to refer to Cardinal Nichols as the 'head' of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales" (et vide infra).

The common notion that 'primate' and 'archbishop' and 'metropolitan' are interchangeable terms is historically false. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a Primate. And he is Primate of All England (totius Angliae), with certain powers (of a legatus natus sanctae Sedis continued to him by Parliamentary Statute after the Schism) even within the Province of York. When he visitatorially enters another diocese, the Diocesan Bishop automatically if temporarily loses his diocesan jurisdiction. He was known sometimes colloquially as alterius orbis papa, and his primatial dignity, remarkably, is sustained by the possession of an episcopal Curia comprising a Provincial Dean (the Bishop of London), Chancellor (Bishop of Winchester), Vice-Chancellor (Bishop of Lincoln), Precentor (Bishop of Salisbury), Chaplain (Bishop of Worcester), and Cross-bearer (Bishop of Rochester).Whatever you may think about the theological or sacramental status of a modern Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury ... and you are probably right ... these structural and legal arrangements are, substantially, in continuity with the very grand position and considerable primatial authority held by medieval Archbishops of Canterbury, as the holders of an office that historically went far back before the time when there was a King or a Kingdom or even a concept of England.

Archbishops of Canterbury have behaved accordingly ... as when a medieval ABC attempted (unsuccessfully) to enter the Diocese of Exeter on Visitation, accompanied by his private army; and when Archbishop Fisher summoned John Robinson Bishop of Woolwich to see him after the publication of Honest to God. Robinson was an auxiliary bishop of another diocesan; but Fisher greeted him with "Now look here, Woolwich, you just can't do this sort of thing" vel sim.. (But even Fisher, I suspect, might not have behaved thus towards a bishop within the Province of York.)

The See of Westminster has never been constituted or recognised by the Holy See as a Primatial See. An obvious moment to have given it that dignity would have been in 1911, when the Sees of Birmingham and Liverpool were raised to metropolitan status. There was indeed at that time a desire (see the thread) to preserve a national position for Westminster; its Archbishop was made the permanent chairman (Praeses perpetuus) of episcopal meetings and given the right to represent the national Catholic community to the Civil Power (as long as he said only what his fellow-bishops had by a majority vote agreed). But he was given no jurisdiction and the only dignities conferred were the purely ritual ones of using pallium and cathedra and cross throughout England and Wales. This falls far short of the old 'primatial' conception. Indeed, it shows a very laudable determination on the part of the pre-Bergoglian Holy See to preserve the rights and status of diocesan bishops.

And, in any case, under the current CIC, primacy would be purely nominal dignity.

The position of the Archbishop of Westminster is thus simply as it is described in the front of my Breviary in a decree signed by Cardinal Griffin: Coetus episcopalis totius Angliae et Cambriae Praeses Perpetuus (by contrast, in another Breviary I possess, the corresponding part of a parallel decree from the Archbishop of Malines describes him as Primas Belgii). He is, additionally, Metropolitan of his own province [comprising the dioceses of Brentwood, East Anglia, Northampton, and Nottingham], with the distinctly tenuous and limited metropolitical powers described in Canon 436. He has no metropolitical relationship with the four totally independant metropolitical provinces of Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Southwark, or with four extra-provincial and extra-diocesan entities, the Ukrainian Eparchy, the South Indian Eparchy, the Military Ordinariate, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (all four of which, incidentally, extend beyond the boundaries of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales).

What this means is that an Archbishop of Westminster has no substantive jurisdiction whatsoever outside his own diocese of Westminster ... which is, roughly, London North of the Thames and Hertfordshire. But, even if not a primate, does he perhaps have authority by virtue of being a Cardinal? No more than Raymond Cardinal Burke does. Or because of his Presidency of the Episcopal Conference? Not in Canon Law and not in dogma. And see my remarks at the beginning of this piece.

I will, in conclusion, illustrate this by quoting  Cardinal Mueller, speaking when he was head of the CDF.

"An episcopal conference is not a particular council, even less so an ecumenical council. The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to his title ... dioceses are not branches of the secretariate of a bishops conference either, nor of the diocese whose bishop presides over the episcopal conference. This kind of attitude risks in fact the reawakening of a certain polarisation between the local Churches and the Church universal, out of date since the Vatican I and Vatican II councils. The Church is not a sum of national churches ... ".  

This continues the strong teaching Cardinal Mueller has given before; in 2013, for example, "the Roman Pontiff and the individual bishops are of divine right, instituted by Jesus Christ. ... But the patriarchates and episcopal conferences, historically and today, belong solely to human ecclesiastical right. The presidents of the episcopal conferences, although important, are coordinators, nothing more, not some vicepopes! Every bishop has a direct and immediate relationship with the Pope. We cannot have a decentralisation in the conferences; there would be the danger of a new centralism, with the presidency that has all the information and the bishops submerged in documents without the time to get ready ..." 

And the same erudite Cardinal repeated the same teaching in a 2017 book-interview. 

For some reason, there seems at the moment to be a great appetite for sound teaching. 

19 November 2022

Temps Perdu

I wrote the following piece in 2010, just after I had preached in S Mary's, Bourne street (olim Graham Street). 

"What fun S Mary's Bourne Street is. For me it evokes the day after our Wedding, when we went to Mass there on Low Sunday 1967 ... and the learned, saintly figure of Eric Mascall, who lived in the presbytery during his retirement. The church is a glorious manifestation of triumphalist 1930s Anglo-Catholicism as expressed in the friendly and accessible baroque of Martin Travers. How good it was to hear the Asperges chant again; indeed, the music was truly superb (and varied); and the liturgy done with much love and care. Good, neat, correct, serving; and a large friendly congregation of all ages. As we sang the Angelus at the end, I wondered if this custom would be a distinctive piece of Patrimony and enrich other Christians. Incidentally, who was it that wrote that music which one hears so often in the C of E but never in popish churches? (Only the sermon was indifferent.)

"Drinks afterwards with the congregation in the Library of the Presbytery (do RC presbyteries always have a large and well-stocked Library, or is this another piece of the Patrimony?). Then into the Dining Room; I can't remember when I last had such a Sunday lunch: fine fish, fantastic fowl, and fabulous pud. Or enjoyed such good conversation. I sat between two intelligent and distinctly fetching ladies; and there were a couple more across the table. Intermittently two well-spoken and attractive young women relinquished the toys they had been left to play with in the Library and came to help eat chocolate. I disgraced myself thoroughly by failing to notice how time was flying; and was more than moderately horrified when finally I looked at my watch. I fled in replete and vinous embarrassment."

Happy days! What a shame the poor old C of E had to come to an end ... "the House of Bondage" as Newman called it ... was it Ward who coined the monikker "Old Mother Damnable"?

However, non omnis mortua est. I recollect that the congregation metamorphosed into the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, who sometimes met in the old Spanish Embassy Chapel tucked away behind the Wallace Collection and its 50,000 Bouchers.

I hope they still do.

18 November 2022

How to depose a Pope: I have a go at disentangling the teaching of the Archbishopric of Westminster

I here republish a revision of an article which has appeared before, I think thrice, on my blog. (Some corrections and additions offered in the original threads have, with thanks, been incorporated into this text.) People who just visit this blog ... and, indeed, the Internet generally ... for a quick giggle need only go straight down to the brief paragraphs in blue.

I am particularly grateful to people who enable me to correct any misstatements.

As you enter Westminster Cathedral, you will, if you look at the wall to your left, see two large sheets of brass (bronze?) which purport to give us a list of the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country from S Augustine onwards, showing their communion with the See of S Peter. (Who compiled it? See the thread. Interestingly, it claims that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District were chief pastors during the penal days ... is this true?) The aim of this list is surely ecclesiological (indeed, polemical and anti-Anglican) and designed to make a claim for the status of the Roman Catholic Particular Churches in England based upon their Communio with the See of S Peter. Such a public witness and explicatio of Communio must clearly be held to embody the formal teaching of the Particular Church of Westminster, God bless her.

What I am interested in is the early fifteenth century, the time when the Great Western Schism had not yet been resolved. There were at one point three simultaneous, competing, 'lines' of 'popes': the Roman Popes; the Avignon Popes; and, after the Council of Pisa in 1409 deposed both of them (their depositions were not then accepted by either of them) there were also the Pisan Popes. Of course, dogmatic purists will reassure us that really there can only be one pope. One of those three prelates was the real pope; the other two were antipopes. Obviously, people who adhered to one of the two antipopes, believing him to be the true pope, were in completely good faith and most earnestly desired to be in communion with the Successor of S Peter. An argument which attempted to portray them as 'non-papalist' would be dishonest. But objectively such adherents were as a matter of fact not in communion with him; they objectively were in schism from the one man whom God (alone!) knows to have been pope.

Dr E L Mascall observed that there had never been a definitive judgement on which of the three was the genuine 'line' of 'real' popes, and different editions of such works as the Annuario pontificio are not always in agreement; but the de facto consensus is that the Roman popes were the Real Macoy. Down to 1409, that is. 1409 is the year the biggest fun starts.  

Are you sitting comfortably?

As the year 1409 began, the Roman pope was Gregory XII. England was in communion with him. Scotland, France, and Spain, on the other hand, were in communion with the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII. But, during that year 1409, most of the cardinals of each 'pope' deserted their respective masters and, in the council of Pisa, came together; and claimed to depose them both and to elect a new pope, Alexander V. 2+1=3 popes! Now let's see what the official Westmonasteriensian lists do with this situation.

The lists in Westminster Cathedral show Gregory XII (Roman) as becoming pope in 1406; then Alexander V (Pisan) in 1409 (although the 'genuine' and 'Roman' pope Gregory XII did not abdicate until 1415).

In other words, the Church and Bishop of Westminster, interestingly, by implication proclaim the Pisan doctrine that a 'Council' unlawfully convoked by a group of cardinals in collaboration with some 'schismatics' (as Pisa was) and without the consent of the lawful Roman Pontiff, can lawfully depose the lawful pope (in this case, Gregory XII) and lawfully elect eo nondum defuncto a lawful replacement.

(This Westmonasteriensian-Pisan doctrine is distinctly thought-provoking! Would four Cardinals and three SSPX bishops, gathered in solemn Conclave at the top of Westminster Cathedral's preposterous Minaret, suffice for validity?)

However, Alexander V died in 1410; and his Pisan 'line' was continued by the election of John XXIII (sic). But the Westminster list does not mention this John XXIII. The next pope it gives is Martin V, who was to be elected by the Council of Constance in 1417. (At that Council, both Gregory XII [Roman] and John XXIII [Pisan] did either accept deposition, or abdicate.)

So it appears that, from 1410 until 1417, according to the public teaching of the Church of Westminster, the See of S Peter was vacant. But it is unclear why, in this public teaching of the Church of Westminster, Alexander V (Pisan) was truly pope but his immediate lineal successor John XXIII (Pisan) lacked the same status. Obviously, the idiosyncratic dogmas of Westminster have profundities which I have not yet plumbed.

A seven-year interregnum, in which nobody is in communion with a pope because there isn't one, is surely long enough to raise interesting ecclesiological questions. I return to this in Footnote (3).

So far we have been considering the papal names on the left side of the Westminster Cathedral list. Let us now look to the right, where we find the Archbishops of Canterbury listed and the date (if known) when they received their  Pallia. The anonymous begetter of this list rightly takes granting and reception of the Pallium to be a clear indicator of Communio between Rome and Canterbury. And in 1414, Henry Chichele became Archbishop of Canterbury and, that same year, received the Pallium at Kings Sutton. Yes ... he received the Pallium ... in ... get this ... 1414.

In 1414, most of the world, including England, regarded the Pisan pope John XXIII as the true pope. Only Italy still adhered to the Roman pope Gregory XII. (Remember: the Church of Westminster regards the See of Rome as being vacant from 1410 to 1417; incidentally, in case you were wondering, the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, had fled to a small Spanish town called Peniscola and by this point was ignored by everyone everywhere else.)  

So who sent the Pallium to Archbishop Chichele in 1414?

I have no doubt that it was the Pisan pope John XXIII. (See the thread.)

But the Church of Westminster officially and very publicly dismisses this poor chap as non-existent, i.e. by implication as a mere antipope. As do modern lists of the popes.

So, when Papa Roncalli was elected Bishop of Rome in 1958, he took the title 'John XXIII' as if there never before had been a lawful pope of that name and number.

Irrespective of the question whether John XXIII (version 1) was or was not truly pope, I find it hard to understand how the Church of Westminster thinks it is demonstrating the importance of links of communion between the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country and the Holy See by boasting that Archbishop Chichele received the Pallium at a time when its own list declares the See of Rome to have been vacant, without there being any lawful pope (in the Westmonasteriensian view) qualified to bless and send out Pallia.

Stigand, incidentally, raises similar questions for Rigid Westmonasterialensian Extremists.

FOOTNOTES: (1) All this would be even greater fun if a Catholic Cathedral in Scotland had a parallel list ... also writ very large in brass (bronze?) ... showing the quite different list of 'popes' with whom the Scottish dioceses were in communion between 1378 and 1409, and who, I imagine, sent Pallia to Scottish metropolitans. The Avignon Pope Benedict XIII conferred University status upon the Schola at S Andrews in 1413 ... he is still honoured there. I wonder which papal claimant the town of Berwick on Tweed held communio with! And how about the Medieval diocese of Sodor and Man, which in any case showed a tendency to episcopal duplicity in the Middle Ages? And there are our beloved Channel Islands, happy little sunlit tax-havens and historically parts of the Diocese of Coutances. There could be industrial scope for manufacturers of big brass plates to make money by producing contradictory successio lists!

(2) I would not like anybody to think that I am mocking the teaching of Holy Mother Church, defined as tenendum de fide at Vatican I, concerning the Petrine Ministry; or that the facts about the Great Schism of the West in any way whatsoever throw the least doubt upon that teaching, which I have spent my whole adult life asserting and defending. They most certainly do not. In my view, the theological problems which are indeed thrown up by the Great Western Schism are easily, and best, dealt with by applying principles laid out in Paragraph 17 of the document Communionis notio (1992 AAS 85) issued by the CDF under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. And, indeed, any narrative of the Great Schism indicates the need for just such a nuanced understanding of Ecclesiology, of Communio, and of schism, as Ratzinger gives there. (See also his thoroughly admirable Dominus Iesus [2000] Paragraph 17. I cannot help feeling that this is an attitude which Professor Dr E L Mascall, who cogently raised the ecclesiological problems thrown up by the Great Schism, would have been able to adopt.)

(3) Another approach would be to argue that  fundamentally it is with the Roman Church, not with its Bishop simpliciter, that Christians are technically obliged to be in Communion. This would also solve another problem raised by Fr Mascall, that of periods of papal sede vacante ... which, in the Westmonasteriensian view, can go on for at least seven years without any insuperable theological problem arising ... during which, of course, nobody is in communion with the pope because there isn't one, but Catholics are all in Communion with the Roman Church because that does not cease to exist. Readers will also remember that two of the earliest witnesses to the Roman Primacy, S Ignatius and S Irenaeus, refer to the Church of Rome without actually mentioning its Bishop; and that the earliest known exercise of a primatial ministry is the 'Epistle of Clement', which is written as from the Roman Church

Of course, Rome's primacy is necessarily going to be exercised by the Bishop of that Church, who justly is held to be S Peter's Successor. But, in the end, I propose, Rome is not the primatial Church because it has the Pope as its Bishop; the Pope is the primatial Bishop because he has Rome for his Church.

I put this forward as a personal speculation which seems to me to resolve some of the problems.

17 November 2022

Mueller (1) and Mueller (2)

Mueller (1): It is ... erroneous to think that a council or a pope could annul an earlier dogma or stipulate, for example, that the nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders does not include the reqirement of the male sex of its recipient. ... in an extreme case, a pope could become heretic as a private person and thus automatically lose his office if the contradiction to the revelation and the dogmatic teaching of the Church is evident".

Mueller (2): "the rainbow flag ... is a public rejection of the Christian image of man ... they have replaced the Apostles' Creed with the creed of the idols of a neo-pagan religion."

Do you pray daily that Jorge Bergoglio may die a Catholic?

16 November 2022

ORDO ... ... ORDO!

This is a time of the year when those of us who offer daily the August Sacrifice ... and /or say the Divine Office ... find our minds turning to the thought of Next Year's ORDO. 

One really does need an ORDO to know what's going on liturgically, day by day.

Real traddies, using the Sarum Rite, needed to resort to PICA, of which Thomas Cranmer wrote "the nombre and hardnes of the rules called the pie and the manifold changings of the service, was the cause, that to turne the boke only, was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times, there was more busines to fynd out what should be read, then to read it when it was founde out."

Coming down to near-modernity: in the Good Old Days when the Roman Rite was endearingly complex, and the Ordo was in Latin, the one to get was one which still survives annually today, and which I very strongly commend: the Saint Lawrence Press Ordo [59 Sandscroft Avenue, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7EJ]. There you found and still find the full glory of privileged octaves, common vigils, doubles of the Second Class, you name it, all just as it was before Bugnini's chum Eugenio Pacelli, sometimes known as Pius XII, started the long gruesome process still known by the gullible as 'Reform'. These were the days (1923) when Mgr Ronald Knox wrote a spoof review of " ... the unpretentious but tastefully produced booklet that reaches us from Burns, Oates, & Washbourne, entitled Ordo Recitandi Divini Officii, etc., (1/6 net). The author modestly preserves anonymity, nor does he betray his identity by any marked individuality of treatment; but his colleagues will be glad to welcome a piece of solid work from his pen, and will not fail to recognise his painstaking attention to detail and his terse, nervous Latinity ... "

In the C of E, we often used the Ordo of the nearest Popish diocese; thus one can work out that Eric Mascall's The Ultra Catholic (1959) probably lived within the geographical Archdiocese of Westminster: "The psalms of Dahvid I recite in heaven's own native Latin./And though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,/ My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis." [The Wantage Sisters still produced up to 1969 an English ORDO " ... in strict accordance with the use of the Western Church."]

Back down to earth and the Novus Ordo: I still edit annually an Anglican ORDO; curiously, the calendars of readings  currently guaranteed by the Authority of the General Synod are (I mean this seriously) very much more complex than Pie or anything in Sarum, so you do need a lectionary. The Ordinariate offers an extremely nice ORDO based upon the (much preferable) Anglican rules of 1961. 

The Latin Mass Society provides a very neat (and recently reconfigured) ORDO for the 1962 rite. The SSPX ... I think ....

One thing to check: do you need an ORDO which provides for local Saints? If so, you should make sure you get an ORDO which does actually do this. It really does matter; around this time of the year, various dioceses prescribe(d) S Willibrord; S Justus; Holy Abbots Hugh Cook, Richard Whiting, and John Beche. 

TODAY ... for example ... you wouldn't want to have missed S Edmund Rich, of Abendon, Oxford, and Canterbury, Patron of the Catholic diocese of Portsmouth ... would you? 

Or ... in the next few days ... S Margaret of Scotland, S Hugh, S Hilda or S Edmund of Edmundsbury ...

The LMS ORDO does give all such local information; so does an American SSPX ORDO, which encompasses all the dioceses of the the entire Anglophone world. 

15 November 2022


No sooner had I written my piece for 11/10/22 than a German Bishop gratifyingly provided me with a precise exemplum of exactly the point I was making.

I am therefore repeating my post for 11/10/22, in red. 

But first I will give you, in black, the observation of the German bishop, updated by me in just one word so as to clarify why I disagree so strongly with the bishop. 

It is followed by my original article in red.

"We cannot give paedophile people the answer that their feelings are unnatural and that therefore they must live celibate lives. As a Church, we have to answer these questions in a new way", said Bishop Helmut Dieser.


One can never turn on one's computer without reading a load of Stuff composed by skilled Stuff-manufacturers about our necessary openness to all sorts of minorities, especially sexual ... L ... B ... G ...  + ...  +  ... and all the rest.

In these apparently, graciously, exhaustive lists, which seem to grow ever longer, I never see the paedophile or epheberast communities sympathetically listed as minorities deserving our enthusiastic understanding and acceptance.

Why not?

Are they not human Beings? Are they not Loved by God? Are they not "Made the way they are" by God?

I do, admittedly, reject logically the idea that their lifestyle is acceptable, because I personally accept the radical Catholic assertions directing and limiting the use of sexuality. Accordingly, I believe that Adultery, Sapphism, Sodomy, Bestiality, Fornication, Masturbation, Polyamorism, Dendrophilia, Ichthyerastia, and a lot of other things are inevitably excluded by the Christian imperative of Chastity.

But I am prepared to deal humanly, and courteously to speak with, those who subscribe to those and to all other such lifestyles; and to treat them lovingly as Children of the Almighty, protecting them, as far as in me lies, against aggression in thought, word, and deed. Even German  'remarried divorcees' ... as long as they obediently pay their Church Tax ... need not fear so much as a rough word from me. I share Sir Max Beerbohm's evident sympathy for bulldogs like Corker, although, possibly, I might have advised that catholic animal to mitigate his Growl. Meden agan.

Now will somebody explain to me ...

... why those Catholics ... including priests, bishops, cardinals and popes ... who appear to entertain tolerant sentiments with regard to Adulterers, Sapphists, Sodomites, Fornicators, and the rest, seem so much more shy about explicitly including paederasts and ephebophiles among the exemplary groups whom they accept and uphold? Whom they ecclesially and socially validate ... to whom they say "Who am I to judge you?"

They seem just the weeniest bit nervous about praising and encouraging paedophilia (for example) publicly and robustly. Why?

Is there some elephant in this (rather crowded) room that, with my moral myopia, I haven't noticed?

Should I try to get out-and-about a bit more?

Parsons Galore

I bet you've never been described as a "minister".

It must be some fifty years since I was last described. The family was on holiday in the South of Scotland, and we desired entry to a Church of Scotland church which contained one of those marvellous 'Anglian' carved crosses. When the aged crone who kept the key had got my profession straight, "Och", she cried, "ye're a meeenister". 

I once found a similar but much more culturally nuanced crone in County Kerry (Ireland does very good quality crones and the Kerry ones are best of all). I had knocked on a cabin door in the hope of finding a boatman to take me across the straights to an ancient monastic settlement on a tiny island called Illaunloghan. As she retired into the back room I heard her describing  me to her husband in awed tones as the Pairson. Although I have never held a benefice, I have an ineradicable weakness for that nice old term. I would never bridle at it. Infinitely better than the fearful (American?) vocative "Reverend". 

I came across Parson later in a Breton church when I was looking at a bilingual monument to a former Parish Priest. The French version called him the Cure; the Breton, Parsoun. And you find it in medieval texts in the old Cornish language. 

(Don't worry, I did get the boat.)

In the novels of Dorothy 'Patrimony' Sayers, full of accurate observation of the verbal usages and social delicacies of the 1930s, I recall an account of an old West Countryman telling an anecdote concluding with the words "And Old Parson [i.e. a previous incumbent], how he did laugh!" 

Parson' also has a whiff about it of Anthony 'Patrimony' Trollope and the rooks cawing over the Close at Barchester [Which English word is Trollope implying sounds exactly like a covine clamour? Does it rhyme with snore?]. And, of course,there are all those well-worn much-loved Edwardian jokes ("What do Hell and the Smoking Room of the Athenaeum have in common?" "You can't see the fire for parsons".).

I think we need to restore this decent usage in the Ordinariate. They don't need it any more in the Church of England, because their country churches are mostly now in the hands of ladies of a certain age who prefer to be addressed and referred to as Jill or Jan or Jen and are sometimes cohabiting with a lady called Jen or Jan or Jill. 

Come to think of it, the most authentic old-style Parson I can think of is the emeritus Bishop of Ebbsfleet (now disguised as a popish priest and pastoring a couple of the learned and admirable Dr Egan's country churches). 

 I'm pretty sure he has never once ridden to hounds without wearing gaiters.

14 November 2022

New Light on Royal History

(1) Last Saturday, a most astonishing announcement appeared in The Times. A revolutionary piece of information about the reign of Tudor Minor AKA 'Henry VIII'.

Writing about the current proprietors of Castle Howard, The Times refers to them as "unassuming folk who happen to be able  to trace their ancestry to Anne Boleyn".

Wow!!  Wotta Girl! Did AB squeeze in a neat little bastard or two during her incestuous affair with her brother George? Or did Anne's only acknowledged child, 'Queen Elizabeth I' AKA Bloody Bess, have her own little ... er ... miscalculation? Life must have been most terribly awfully boring during all those long decades being a "Virgin Queen" at a time when even bishops (mostly neither Virgins nor Queens) had wives.


(2) On Sunday morning, the Beeb ran a lot of 'royal' stuff, in the course of which King Charles [shall we, as a compromise, call him Charles III bis?] was described as taking part, for the first time, "as a Moderate".

Does the Beeb have some dirt on Charles III's earlier, more extreme, political affiliations? Are they going to blow the gaffe and tell us that, at the horrible School he was sent to, he had the nickname 'Blackshorts'? Wodehouse enthusiasts have the right to be told why, among his several appellations, the name Spode fails to make the cut.

Later in the day, Auntie suppressed the word 'moderate' and, instead, called Charles a 'Momnarch' [sic]. Surely, that is a title more fitting for his Mother?

The texture of Establishment English is so suggestively rich.


13 November 2022

WARE (2): Challoner the liturgist.

Challoner was consecrated a Coadjutor Bishop in 1741; succeeded to the London Vicariate in 1758; and died in 1781. The most interesting of his memorabilia carefully preserved and beautifully exhibited at Ware, is a small sheaf of handwritten papers, labelled 'Challoner's Lectures at Douay' vel sim.. I was only able to see the top sheet (the case was of course locked), but these were clearly not 'lectures'; I think some well-meaning but unlatinate Keeper must have been misled by the word 'lectio'. What they are is something which seems to me potentially much more interesting: a Supplementum pro Anglia of a Breviary. Readers will know that clergy reciting their Office follow the Calendar of the Universal Church except when the local supplement provides for the observance of local Saints or Devotions. Nowadays, each Diocese has its own Supplementum, which is bound in at the back of each volume of the Breviary. But, in a Breviary I possess of 1874 (formerly in the library of my late dear friend Fr Michael Melrose, Vicar of S Giles, Reading, who was denied entry to the Ordinariate by his sudden death), the Supplementum is not diocesan but national (Anglia). I wonder when this Supplementum was created, and by whom. Does this evidence from Ware give us the answer: By Challoner?

You will recall that these papers of Challoner's are handwritten. It is not easy to know why a Vicar Apostolic was using handwritten propers to say his Office if a printed Supplementum, approved as such things were by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, had been available. And here's something else. These sheets contain, I think in Challoner's hand, alterations, emendations.

My theory, quite possibly wrong since I only had ten minutes and only saw the top sheet and have been able to conduct no relevant researches, is that Challoner may here be constructing an English National Supplementum himself, and then tweaking it year by year as he himself prays his own drafts. I would be fascinated if those more erudite in such sidewaters of the history of the Roman Rite could explode or supplement my thoughts with data (such as, of course, a printed Supplementum pro Anglia  predating Challoner!). And when did the SCR start authorising local Supplementa?

If, however my preliminary musings are right, then what we have here is a Bishop, the presiding Liturgist of his Particular Church, still exercising a right of liturgical composition (not so terribly surprising in a century in which the 'Gallican' bishops of France continued to do exactly that; cfr. ex. gr. the Missale Parisiense of 1738). And we would also have one of the last examples of the transmission of liturgical texts manu scripti. And we would have a creative intervention of Challoner's not unlike his own radical revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible; his composition of The Garden of the Soul, Brittania Sancta, the British Martyrology; and so many other works.

He was providing a complete Catholic culture for an English Church which did not yet possess one. 

12 November 2022

WARE (1): S Edmund of Abingdon and Canterbury; and Bishop Challoner

Together with the Birmingham and Brompton Oratories, the Chapel at Ware is one of the candidates I would put forth if I were asked to nominate three Catholic churches to survive a holocaust. It was built before the English Church had cathedrals, and so it in many ways has the feel of a Cathedral, particularly of the London District. This is partly because of the numbers of Vicars Apostolic buried there, or remembered by chantries; and, aesthetically, it is the product of A W Pugin's successful realisation of the spirit of late Gothic Christianity. 

I think he would have been pleased to see it in heavy use around dawn when traddy clerics are in residence: the murmur, the tinkling of bells, as priests and their servers take turns saying their private Masses at the (is it six?) altars. There are also many relics, and a beautiful Shrine Chapel of S Edmund of Abendon*, containing a femur of the Saint brought from his shrine at Pontigny. He also features prominently in the glass.

The College also has fascinating museum items. I feel an interest in Bishop Challoner, V.A. of the London District, partly because I have been able to say Mass from his Missal in the recusant Chapel at Milton Manor near Oxford, where Challoner liked to stay and where he was buried in the Squire's vault inside the Anglican Parish Church. (The prayer for his beatification is said after each Mass at Milton.) 

Ware possesses the lead crucifix which was on his original coffin (before the poor fellow was exhumed and carted off to Westminster Cathedral). It has his splendid tall baroque mitre, exhibited beside a Puginesque Gothic mitre about a tenth of its height! And various other memorabilia.  

* Yes; I think that is the correct, or historical, way of spelling Abingdon. I love this great Saint's festival in November, and enjoy visiting the Church  there  ... full of allusions to the Order of Malta.

11 November 2022

Martinus, nunquam vincendus, contra Lupos victor!

I love these special days when our brilliant and gracious Church of the Latin Rite asks us to use the Sunday psalms at Lauds ... and encourages this by providing 'proper' antiphons for those psalms. I expect that, at some point in its exemplary ministery, NLM has explained the history of this.

And November 11, Feast of S Martin, thoroughly deserves such a distinction. Few saints as superbly mark the transition from the Roman Empire to the Christianity-based institutions in which civilisation was recovered and enhanced and perpetuated.

Two completely different questions, but both arising from today's 'lauds' antiphons.

(1) The reference to lupi rapaces. So reminiscent of the words, perhaps a self-warning, uttered by Benedict XVI during the Inauguration of his Petrine Miniistry. Was that a far-sighted prophecy of what that particular Roman Pontiff saw as an imminent threat in his own time? Or is it true, in every age and every pontificate, that the wolves are already circling the encampment and howling; always ready to snatch and to devour; to wound and to destroy?

I wonder if Benedict XVI realised that the identity of his own 'wolves' would be so ineluctably bound up with the character and particular corruptions of his own successor!

(2) The use in today's Office of the gerundive vincendus. For decades, I have had a nagging suspicion that some writers, in both 'Classical' and 'post-Classical' Latin, used the gerundive, when it suited them, as a future passive participle

I expect reference to standard grammatical handbooks would afford me instruction, but with age I am getting lazier. Perhaps the same will happen to you.

Lupos vincere et debellare valeamus!

9 November 2022

UNFINISHED BUSINESS (2) Newman, the Mass and Office

Surely, the liturgical celebration of S John Henry Newman calls for attention. 

The most moving small room in the world, I believe, is at Birmingham, where the Saint's study contains his intimate library, including his Breviary. Even as an Anglican, Newman held the Roman Breviary is the very highest regard. He was convinced that, if Anglicans actually opened it and looked at it, they would be stunned, awed, by what they would find. 

What is now needed is a full provision (with three nocturns) of whatever liturgical formulae are required to enable the celebration of his Feast in whatever version of the Roman Breviary may be called for by different people and different groups. 

And proper provision for [the Tridentine] Mass, on his festival, and at Votives, is needed. 

And, in that same little room, behind a screen, is the altar at which Newman offered, morning by morning, the August Sacrifice.

Newman gives us this encomium of the Tridentine Mass, on the lips of "Willis": "I declare, to me, nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words--it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare to use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the end, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity."

I have often wondered about the six words I have rendered here in red. Why did our Saint put them in to this passage?

Did Newman, with the eyes of his very great holiness, discern and look into a future when the Holy Mass, "said as it is among us", might again have to be fought for, suffered for; during a sort of corporate martyrdom when wicked men would strain their every sinew to destroy such a divine wonder?

8 November 2022

No longer over the water

Today, November 8, is the Anniversary of the day when HRH the Prince Regent, later HM King Charles III, entered the Kingdom of England at the head of his army. An occasion for a loyal toast?

When the family was young, we used to have fireworks, and a bonfire on which an effigy was burned.

All things shall be well, when the King shall have his own again. Vivat Rex!


Fr Ker's demise, naturally, pushes S John Henry's importance to the front of our mind. And the most important Unfinished Business is, surely, the question of his proclamation as Doctor of the Church.

I hope ... I pray ... that this aim will be given the same enthusism and priority as were the beatification and canonisations themselves.


7 November 2022

Ian Ker

The death has been announced of Fr Ian Ker, cuius animae propitietur Deus.

An acute obituarist recalls the description of Fr Ian as the greatest biographer of England's greatest Saint. I believe that is remarkably true. I do not think we have ever had a greater Saint than S John Henry Newman. And all the woffle we used to hear about his influence on, or relevance to, Vatican II, completely missed the point.

And the point about Newman is not that he was a brave liberal heroically witnessing to unpopular liberal truths which, only in the years after 1962, have received due recognition.

If anything, the diametrical opposite is the Truth. Saint John Henry bore witness, even when he received a 'calvinist' conversion, to the heretical nature of indifferentist liberalism; in effect, of our current Bergoglianity.

Reviewing Ker's book, Henry Chadwick wrote "[Newman] is an unsurpassed master of English prose. Deeply sensitive and subtle (some of his contemporaries thought too much so), stamped with high culture so as to give the lie to the venerable myth that unreformed Oxford was intellectually torpid, he was a formidable controversialist, as supreme a master of irony and satire as any in our literature."

I would add to that an appreciation of Newman's precision. In his treatment of the Syllabus of Errors, he beautifully demonstrates the necessity for painstaking accuracy necessary in the analysis of Magisterial documents and their status. 

Is Fr Ker's book still in print? The paper-back copy on my shelves has practically fallen apart. 

Its glory rests in the utterly tolerant way Ker permitted Newman to speak for himself.

6 November 2022

A lazzarone at heart ...

Not so long ago, The Times reviewed Keiron Pim's Life of Joseph Roth. Some of the Reviewer's observations aroused some dormant thoughts in my mind: "In 1916, Franz Joseph died ... for Roth a protector of minorities, a bulwark against nationalism. After the First World War parochialism indeed prevailed. Nation states replaced the multi-ethnic Habsburg polity ... a world of civility and personal honour [collapsed into] one shaped by ideology ... Roth employed the 19th-century tools of irony and realism ... Weimar Berlin [was] where old-school cosmopolitanism had one last waltz ...".

I, too, am a devolutionary sort of person. In a 2011 post I romantically wrote of a Europe which was a mosaic of statelets ... Scotland and Catalonia and Brittany and La Serenissima and Bavaria and the Papal States and Navarre and Provence and the County Palatine of the Rhine and the Dukedom of Burgundy ... you get the idea. I would cheerfully say Good Bye to to the imperialist nation states of the modern era. I am a member of Mebyon Kernow. After the deft purchasing of a feudal property on Jersey, Athelstan Riley described himself in funerary assertions as a feudal nobleman in ducatu Normanniae. I'm not as bad as that, but ...

In 2011, I recalled a character in Waugh's Scott-King's Modern Europe who says: "I am a Croat, born under the Hapsburg Empire. That was a true League of Nations. As a young man I studied in Zagreb, Budapest, Prague, Vienna - one was free, one moved where on would; one was a citizen of Europe. Then we were liberated and put under the Serbs. Now we are liberated again and put under the Russians. And always more police, more prisons, more hanging ..."

Does anybody know how to get a passport issued by the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies? I have never even spent an afternoon in the Capo di Monte, or, disguised as a lazzarone, walked in the footsteps of Viscount Nelson, or rambled in pursuit of S John Henry Newman, clutching Thucydides in the environs of Syracuse.

5 November 2022

Judica me Deus

One of the joys of the EF and of the Ordinariate Form is the Introibo ad Altare Dei with the Psalm at the foot of the altar.

It has such a sense of human uncertainty and weakness being supported by the knowledge that one is young-every-morning (qui laetificat iuventutem meam); and the wonderful bit where I express my wobbly feelings and the server in his most robust tones instructs me to stop whinging and pick myself up and just get on with it (Spera in Deo ...). And as I walk up those steps to the Altar, I know that I am in the footsteps of Abraham and of the Incarnate Word Himself, going up ad montem sanctum Dei et ad tabernacula eius, to the one and only Place of Sacrifice where Shed Blood expiates; as it always has since the Creator inscribed this indelibly in the grammar of his Creation. 

I think it is a wonderful example to the People for them to see their priest or bishop humbling himself before the Presence  ... before he does anything ...

The only thing that troubles me is the thought that I really ought to get round to making an honest man of myself by changing my surname to Cohen. What greater privilege is there than offering every morning the One Great Sacrifice of the Lamb, which fulfills and clasps together the differentias hostiarum? The Preparation at the foot of the Altar is the perfect preparation for this mighty Action.

A correspondent has asked me how the old Praeparatio might be incorporated into a reformed Novus Ordo. Our splendid Ordinariate Missal makes this very clear. Simple. You just bung it onto the the start of Mass, before the Priest goes up the steps to kiss the Altar. After all, in the monocultural 1970s mainstream Novus Ordo they have the illegally interpolated Versicle and Response V Good Mor - - ning Every - - Body. R Good Mor - - ning Fa - - ther, a useless duplication [cf Sacrosanctum Concilium 50 on the inappropriateness of duplications] of Dominus vobiscum.

So it can hardly be dangerously improper to say a psalm and to acknowledge ones sinfulness immediately after the Entrance.

(Then, in the Ritibus Initialibus of a Said Mass without music, because the People will have heard already the Confiteor, one could use the farced Kyries, i.e. the Kyries with penitential interpolations.Or, in view of the relaxed ease with which 'mainstream' celebrants omit the Sermon and/or the Creed whenever they happen to feel like it, one could just omit the novus Ordo Confession. Despite Paul VI's naughty little fib in the eighth paragraph of Missale Romanum, the corporate Act of Reconciliation is not 'patristic'.)

4 November 2022

What would Anthony Cekada say to Jorge Bergoglio?

An Anglican Bishop whom I knew very well came back from a Lambeth Conference (not the recent one) having made the acquaintance there of a woman bishop. After bit, she had observed "Of course, you and I are very much in the same position. I have to face the possibility that I am not a bishop; you have to face the possibility that I am a bishop."

Bishop JR liked that. He was the sort of person who would.

The two of them got on like a house on fire.

Is there a model here for what Jorge Bergoglio, and the famous sedevacantist writer Anthony Cekada, might say to each other?

[I never liked the late Cekada; he referred to me as "Vicar Hunwicke", although at no point in my life have I ever been a Vicar.] 

3 November 2022

I sha'n't be looking at Comments or emails ...

...until Monday.

Faculties Exams

There seem to be suggestions that Sin-odality, G-d bless her cotton socks, might make it possible for women to preach formally in Catholic churches. 

I am reminded of one of the jolliest parts of the 'Formation'* process for Ordinariate clergy, the Faculties Exam.. We had to assimilate what our Pagella said we could or couldn't lawfully do ... a very brief document  ... and then 'pass' a viva voce exam on it. Of course, everybody passed with flying colours, even though some of the Reverend Fathers had been as nervous as Third Formers beforehand, sitting under S Thomas More's mulberry tree in the garden of Allen Hall and 'revising' with each other in twittering pairs like sparrows in springtime.

Moi, I was done by a charmingly dry woman canonist.

Q So you're about to say Mass and a nun turns up saying that she will be delivering the homily. What do you say to her?
A "Gosh, Sister, how absolutely splendid! I'm so glad. Tell you what. So as to make sure that the folks remember it, let's make it the very last thing they hear just before they go out. I think immediately after the Dismissal is the best time".
Q Hrrrrrrrrmph. Very tactful, I'm sure. But of course, it would be quite different if she were a Reverend Mother, wouldn't it?
A It most certainly would. I would be even more cringingly and pathetically deferential ...

*(Yes, Fr ******, I know, 'Formation' is a vile word. But one soon gets into the habit of using all this RC terminology with a wry, ironic twitch of the right eyebrow. I had to practise The Twitch in front of my mirror, for quite a long time ...)

2 November 2022

Ringwood and the Enlightenment

Not far to the North of Oxford is a hidden and magical countyside. It was not always totally hidden, because in the Comocyon Time, in 1549, orders were sent out for the neighbouring clergy to be hanged from their Church towers. Yes! Traditionis custodes in advance! But in the Kentiora Tempora, the furthest exercise of bloodshed involved the termination of Otters rather than of Parsons.

I have occasionally infuriated dog-lovers by referring to the species canis lupus familiaris as
     Man's oldest and filthiest friend.
Canine coprolites have been found, have indeed been lovingly and scientifically excavated, at Bronze Age sites such as Amesbury.

Perhaps Dr Linnaeus should have named these animals canis lupus cacatorius.

Warden Sparrow, late of All Souls' College in this University, famously and Oh-so-accurately spoke of the Dog as
     That indefatigable and unsavoury engine of pollution.

Indeed, when out walking in unfamiliar countryside, one always knows when one has got within an easy radius of a carpark because of the care one is obliged to exercise. Dogs, obedient ubiquitously to the Bergoglian injunction hagan lio, have been active. However, is it fair to condemn the dogs? Certainly not. Dog-owners, yes. I know a slipway in Cornwall where fish is brought in; the National Trust, who own it, were driven a few years ago to ban dogs from the slipway and to provide for the dogs and their walkers a simple pleasant alternative footpath away from the fishy area. Do you think they take any notice? And I know beaches galore with clear notices banning dogs between March and September. Quite possibly, dogs can't read. Can the Dogwalking Tendency read? What would be your guess?  But such notices, of course, don't apply to them.

But stay: I digress. You see, we must not forget one particular doggie: Ringwood, the last echoes of whose deep full voice can still by the very sensitive ear be heard, baying. One murmurs Et in Arcadia ego.In those Kentissimi horti at Rousham in Oxfordshire, his "Master and Friend", Sir Clement Cottrell-Dormer, had this "otterhound of extraordinary sagacity" buried in the Vale of Venus.

You wonder if those last three words constitute a possibly dubious expression? Well, this admirable animal is buried right in front of the very statue of the Goddess herself reflected in the waters of her pool, nuda sed pudica. The Deity is dangerously overlooked by Faunus and Pan, only feet from the river Cherwell where Ringwood worked such righteous havoc upon the otter population.  Not far away is a statue which Cottrell-Dormer was convinced represented Antinous.

Anyway, since those last enchanted years of the reign of His Most Eminent Majesty King Henry IX, this doggy wraith has surely mingled at dusk in the dances of the dryads and naiads. 

Is Ringwood Canine Nature's Solitary Boast?

1 November 2022

Calling all Jansenists ...

 Most readers will know that the author of the 'Neo-Gallican' Preface authorised a couple of years ago by the CDF for use today (All Saints' Day; and also on a number of other days) was Laurant-Francois Boursier (1679-1749) , who died  ... YES!! ... in the fair and bonnie parish of S Nicolas de Chardonnet.

He was a celebrated and condemned Jansenist. 

Here follows a request for enlightenment. My enlightenment, that is.

Dom Gueranger, a vigorous compaigner for the unjansenised Roman Rite in the 1800s, wrote critically of Boursier (and about other fashionable Jansenists). Criticising the Preface now in favour in Rome, Gueranger remarked upon the rather Augustinian phrase eorum coronando merita, coronas dona tua. (See also S Prosper of Aquitaine) Rather sharply, or so it seems to me, Gueranger commented that, while this phrase had a sense Catholique, it also had a Jansenist sense.

Can anybody explain to me what the (snarl snarl) Jansenist sense was?