31 July 2023

Profoundly silly ...

That is how I had first thought to describe the maker of a suggestion in the Times newspaper, that the United Kingdom should have a Patron Saint. Ian Bradley is a presbyterian minister who has worked in the University of St Andrews (founded by the Antipope Benedict XIII). Since the cultus of the Saints is not one of the most deeply-rooted characteristics of the daily life of the Presbyterian Church, I will concede that Bradley may not enjoy a Catholic or an Orthodox instinct in these matters. So I won't describe him as Profoundly Silly. But that hasn't stopped him from lecturing the rest of us; and Profoundly Silly neatly characterises his suggestion.

England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, of course, have their respective Patron Saints, woven into the histories of those great Countries. But never the Yewkay.

Because the Yewkay is a fragile and unstable and unreal construct. Invented in 1707, it subsumed Ireland less than a century later; lost most of Ireland little more than a century after that. In the eighteenth century, the exiled de jure monarchs, and their adherents in both Scotland and England, as well as foreign powers, declined to accept the validity of "the Union". It is now beset by separatist movements in Scotland, Ulster, Wales, Cornwall, and (most recently) the Orkneys. (I await up-to-date intelligence from the Isle of Wight and the Goodwin Sands.) The Yewkay resembles an inhabitant of a medieval leper colony ... bits dropping off all the time. It must be just about the most protean and ridiculously misdescribed "Nation State" in the world. 

It is not a real country. It actually consists, of course, of England and the few other portions of this Atlantic Archipelago which England's colonial mentality has managed to hang onto.

Bradley's nominee is S Aidan. With no disrespect to him, one might think of S Theodore ... a Greek Syrian appointed by a Roman pope to be Archbishop of Canterbury. With him as Patron, all those thousands of young Middle Eastern men who daily flood across the Channel under Mr Sunak's benevolent eye might feel even more patriotically British. 

I am going to nominate S GERMANUS, in the Martyrology for today, who in the declining days of civilisation in Britannia restored Catholicism to a country ravaged by Pelagian heresy ... the perennial error of this country ... and won a massive victory over the invading Barbarians. Alleluia!! (Observing liturgically S Germanus today in the diocese of Portsmouth seems to me in accordance with the provision that "The Mass of any third-class feast that is displaced by a higher-ranking third-class feast may be said instead of the higher-ranking third class feast, with a commemoration of the higher-ranking feast at low Mass". Would you really miss S Ignatius??)

The age of S Germanus was, in many ways, less a decadent than a Golden Age; when a bishop would be a Big Man and part of the political as well as of the religious elite, and possess even militatary capabilities; when S Prosper left us his aphorism about the priority of the lex supplicandi and S Leo negotiated the barbarians out of his hair and perfected the Roman Canon and defined the Hypostatic Union; and S Vincent wrote magisterially about what is, and what is not, 'Development'. That generation bequeathed to us the building blocks for our own necessary refutation of, and resistance to, the current ecclesial regime.

Sancte Germane, Sancte Lupe, orate pro nobis.

But Bradley's entire notion is, indeed, most profoundly silly. It fails, as a poor Presbyterian may be expected to fail, to understand that Patron Saints engage with their clients diachronically as well as synchronically; they bear us through the passing centuries, standing for us before the Throne of Grace in bad times as well as in good.

This is not an institution for smart little transient poppets with clever ideas, to mess around with.


30 July 2023

The S-men

I once had a colleague who taught French; he seemed to me more of a Frenchman than any Frenchman I ever met. He characterised his relationship with his students as detestation reciproque

After the legislation legalising Abortion went through our legislature, promoted by someone called David Steele, Bernard invariably referred to Steele as "the Abortionist Steele". I was reminded of this by a recent evolution in our domestic politics.

Our government, led a Mr Sunak, decided that it would cut the benefit payable to parents so that it only became payable for the first two babies. Our opposition, led by a Sir Keir Starmer, vowed to reverse this policy. It is a policy which, of course, must inevitably lead to the termination of yet more unborn babies.

Now, it transpires, Starmer is likely to retain the Sunak policy.

So it appears that, in our next General Election, we shall have a choice between the Abortionist Sunak and the Abortionist Starmer.

The Abortionist Starmer is currently riding quite high. In a by-election, his candidate won with a massive majority. The young man concerned, Keir Mather, was, as an undergraduate, active in Union politics. He criticised the Union for inviting the Russian ambassador to give a lecture, because he disagreed with Russian policies with regard to homosexuality.

And his Goebbels-like antipathy to free speech and open debate led him also to call Germaine Greer "an abhorrent transphobe". In his view, she, also, should have been given no platform.

I don't know how well Greer (born 1939) is known outside Australia and Britain. She has been one of the founding writers of radical Feminism since her The Female Eunuch (1970). But she is a thinker and not a ranter. I found much material for thought in her The Whole Woman (1999). She is not exactly a member of the Catholic Evidence Guild, but she is a rational and intelligent performer in the intellectual forum.

For Mather, however, her belief that women are, er, women, and men are men, is or was sufficient ground to try to hound her out of audibility.

29 July 2023


A very tasty (Italian language) book by F M di Giovine (Gli Zuavi Pontifici e loro nemici) has a Preface by Don Sisto Enrico di Borbone, which His Royal Highness dates as "10 marzo 2020 Festa dei Martiri della Tradizione".

Sounds a very tempting feast! Does anybody have any information about it?

Don Sisto was the first, immediately after the Episcopal Consecrations, to congratulate Archbishop Lefebvre.

The book is dedicated to the distinguished memory of Mgr Ignazio Barreiro Carambula, whom I had the privilege of getting to know in Connecticut during the last months of his life.

It also contains, exempli gratia, the Song of the English Zouaves. Here is the first of many rousing stanzas: 

"Saint George and old England forever!/ Once more her sons arm for the fight./ With the cross on their breasts to do battle/ For God, Holy Church, and the right./ Twine your swords with the palm branch, brave comrades,/ For as pilgrims we march forth today; /Love God, O my soul, love him only,/And then with light heart go thy way."

We English, of course, with our inherited naval affections, have a soft spot for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Papal States because it was that great Englishman and sailor His Grace the Duke of Bronte who put down the "Parthenopaean Republic" and succoured our late Sovereign Liege Lord King Henry IX, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, when His Most Eminent Majesty had been reduced to beggary by the Corsican.

28 July 2023

Churchill and Treason

A little-known (although published in 1995) anecdote, in The Times, about the traitor Churchill, commander in the Army of James II. You may remember Belloc's account of the treacheries that followed the Dutch Invasion of 1688, which dispossessed the Stuarts, the ancient British Royal Family, replacing it ultimately with the present governing house.

Belloc wrote:

"Whenever I recollect that business of the fall of the Stuarts, two things stand out in my mind: so much pageantry and so much comic stuff. For, to my thinking, there is something comic in the financing of the expedition with Dutch money, secured upon taxes promised beforehand as sure to be levied from the English (specifically on their tobacco), should it succeed. This way of making the victim pay for his own execution without his knowing it, and without consulting him, is full of the spirit of comedy.

"There are a hundred other comic detals. Churchill leaning his handsome, villainous face over the dinner-table of the inn and trying to persuade the unfortunate James to come out for a ride on that fine moonlit night; Churchill well knowing how, on that fine moonlit night, the scouts of the enemy were waiting to carry off the King.

"And, again, the picture of the subsequent dinner at Andover: James dining with his daughter [Anne]'s husband, the Prince of Denmark, and that great bagful of stupidity repeating to everything that was said, Est-il possible!; then he and his suite excusing themselves for a moment to attend to some business; James, the King, wondering when they would return to the room.

"They never returned. That business on which they had excused themselves was treason ..."

So what is the newer info recorded in The Times by Max Hastings about the Traitor Churchill? 

Back to the previous reign, that of King James's elder brother King Charles II. That king had a mistress--Louise de Kerouaille, a Breton noblewoman and a prezzie from King Louis (and ancestress of our Dukes of Richmond). Charles once caught Churchill in this lady's bedroom cupboard. His Majesty commented: "I have nothing to say to you, my poor fellow. You do this for your advancement."

Perhaps the moral is: Let a libertine off the hook and he'll reward you with treachery.

27 July 2023



I am a believer in the integrity of Rites.

It seems to me an outrage that a man being consecrated Bishop in the Albanian Orthodox Church should interpolate the Filioque.

And can somebody tell me which of the different jurisdictions the bombed Cathedral in Odessa belongs to? 

The Russkies have hitherto refrained from bombing shrines and the historic centres of cities.

And what is the Ukrainian government up to in Pechersk?


At Gardone, there was some discussion about International Law; and Warfare. I found myself wondering (and nobody seemed to know the answer) about Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Here is what puzzled me. We in our Western Churches fortunately have a carefully-evolved, rational, inherited body of teaching about what is needed to constitute a war a 'Just War'. It goes back a long way and involves distinguished names.

But do the Byzantines? Do they have such a body of teaching of their own, or do they subscribe to the same fontes as ourselves ... or do they corporately subscribe to nothing at all in this particular ethical area?

Perhaps a factual answer would enable us to make a not-unfair judgment on President Putin's motivations and actions; and to understand the statements and attitudes of His All-Holiness the Patriarch of Moskow.

Might this (as Fr Jack of Craggie Island once put matters) be ultimately an Ecumenical Matter?

26 July 2023

Sancta Anna, Ora pro nobis

A mighty Lady, most deserving of the great Who shall find a strong woman lection given her by the Latin Church. May she intercede for the Land of Britanny, of which she is Patron, a country faithful to the Church when so much of France went a-whoring after strange deities. Let us not forget that the demonic hatreds which brought a crown of martyrdom to the Carmelites of Compiegne, are still alive. I recall pointing out to a granddaughter called Anna the majestic wording round the ceiling of the Church at Pontrieux, which began ANNA POTENS ... and went on to ask the potentissima to pray for the Fatherland. Pedit evidomp.

The cult of S Anne spread in the West particularly in the later Middle Ages. Medievals did not share PF's disdain for grandmothers ... could it be that the roots of his psychological problems, poor poppet, lie in his having been soundly whacked by an all-too-prescient grandmother?

And, today, remember Reverend Mother and the Carmelite Sisters at Lanherne in Cornwall, whose lovely little church has S Anne as a Patron: so fitting in the church of Carmelites who fled to England in 1794, hounded by the bloodthirsty armies of the murderous Enlightenment.

And we shall not forget, shall we, St Anne's College Oxford, blessed spot, where I found the best of wives and which I rewarded by sending it a daughter and a son. Yes; it became a mixed college. When it was still one of Oxford's five Women's Colleges, and each of the five had a strongly individual character, this joke circulated: 

A woman undergraduate burst into a hen-party with the breathless news that she had just met a man (perhaps not difficult in the days when there were seven men to every woman undergraduate at Oxford).
The Somerville girl (they were preoccupied with academic matters) asked "What's he reading?"
The Lady Margaret Hall girl (they had social antennae): "Who's his father?"
The St Hugh's girl (crazy about sport): "What does he play?"
The St Hilda's girl (waste no time): "Where can I find him?"
The St Anne's girl (elegant, accomplished, and beautiful): "I've already had him to Tea".

I had Tea quite often ... a very toothsome Tea it was too ... finest quality home-made sandwiches ...  in an enchanted room overlooking Banbury Road and the Parks Entrance ...

Gaude Mater Anna ... as the Monastic Breviary wisely invites us to sing ...

25 July 2023

A Camino for today

I commend to you a pleasant walk in a lonely part of the Devon/Cornwall boundary area; the nearest village has the 'Celtic' name of Kelly, the squire being Mr Kelly of Kelly. After the hamlet of Kelly, the Path will bring you to Bradstone Church. No; I can't tell you its Dedication, because that information was lost at the Reformation (indications offered today, like Nonne or Matthias, are guesses by the Georgians or Victorians). But Nicholas Orme, in his invaluable 1998 book about English Church Dedications, records, from the Kelly Archives, that in 1469 there was a 'store' of S Christopher. 

Hence the relevance of all this to today's Holy Mass, in which the propers include, nestling under the kindly wing of S James, a commemoratio of ... Yes!! ... S Christopher! God bless the institution of commemorationes!

Whether S Christopher was the titular, or simply had a subsidiary cult in Bradstone Church, is not clear ... but ... set your fears at rest ... we shall return to this important matter.

Continue further along the camino and you will eventually come to a high, sturdy and well-built bridge, called Greystone Bridge, carrying the traveller across into Cornwall. It was constructed by the Abbot of Tavistock, after the saintly and learned Bishop Lacey of Exeter had granted, in 1439, an indulgence of 40 days for those assisting the work (BTW, Bishops of Exeter continued granting indulgences even after Henry Tudor's schism). My Lord Abbot was a man of consequence and wealth in these parts; his Abbey possessed the only printing press in the South West of England. Naturally, it was destroyed after the Reformation (less than two decades after the Abbey had gleefully secured from the Pope exemption from diocesan jurisdiction!).

The abbey's assets were soon to be looted by a man called Russell, one of the perpetrators of the 1549 Western Genocide. You will not be surprised to know that his descendant was one of the Traitors of 1688, for which treason he was rewarded with the titles "Duke of Bedford and Marquis of Tavistock". 

Before this beneficent bridge was built ... how did you get, undrowned and dry-footed, across the great River Tamar which divides Devon from Cornwall?

Back to S Christopher. 

He was a popular Saint in medieval England. In many churches his likeness faced you from a church's North wall as you entered by the South door; a big powerful bloke carrying the infant Christ on his shoulder across a great river (the artist very commonly had thoughtfully included the fish).

My theory is that S Christopher was either the Parish Patron, or the Patron of an important guild, composed of ... the Watermen

I bet they viewed the construction of that fine bridge in the decades after 1439 with a more than Luddite disapproval!

I know the area because Bradstone was one of the seven churches I helped with after I retired from teaching. The church was, formally, closed, but we were allowed to say Mass in it on one Sunday in the year.

If I could grant you an indulgence for walking this camino and offering praise today to S Christopher of Bradstone, I would do so! And for more than a mere forty days!

24 July 2023


Anybody who cares will have guessed that I'm back from the Roman Forum Conference ... because I have now dealt with most of the Comments offered in my absence. Thank you for them.

Being above Lake Garda is like being in a kind of Terra Sancta. Y'see, there are many subterranean channels under the stony pavents. As in Blighty, they have metal covers. But, whereas in England these would bear the enticing information THAMES WATER, in Lombardy they are inscribed with the name of the Manufacturer. 


So, as one treads the nimble cobbles of Gardone Sopra, one is constantly reminded that one is favouring with ones gratified feet the Pontiff who presided over that Council which some fool once said was more important than Nicaea.

In Brescia, where, busy little man, he manufactured his elegant plumbing accessories, there is a shrine to the Great Pontiff.

Better to say as little about that as possible.

23 July 2023


S Prosper of Aquitaine was so close a collaborator with S Leo the Great that it is not always entirely clear which of S Leo's writings are his, and which might owe much to S Prosper. It was he who formulated the adage that "the Law of Praying should establish the Law of Believing" (obsecrationum quoque sacerdotalium sacramenta respiciamus, quae ab apostolis tradita in toto mundo atque in omni catholica ecclesia uniformiter celebrantur, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. It is, in other words, to the Law of the Church's Prayer that we should turn in order to find sound doctrine.

I am a trifle uneasy about the way in which Pius XII flirted (Mediator Dei, 1947) with the notion of reversing this formula so as to make the Law of Believing establish the Law of Praying, and of retaining both versions in, as it were, creative tension. This could easily relegate the Law of Praying to the humble status of a resource occasionally plundered by those drafting pontifical documents and needing proof-texts to bolster up a weak argument with impressive footnotes. This demotion of the Law of Praying seems indeed to be precisely what happened in the disordered years after the Council, when the levers of liturgical power in the Church fell into the hands of a tendenz determined to make their own presuppositions the dominant norm according to which liturgical texts would be judged and changed or even (as in the rite for the Consecration of bishops and by the provision of "Alternative Eucharistic Prayers") dumped.

An expression of this disordered desire to make the Lex credendi determine the Lex orandi (rather than the correct way round) can be found in the Decree of 1951 ordering a new Office for August 15: " ... congruum erat ut etiam Officium iis adornatum esset laudibus, quae Deiparae Virgini ob definitum corporeae Assumptionis dogma merito tribuendae erant".

As so often, when one really looks into matters, Pius XII turns out to be the real progenitor of the "Post-Conciliar Reforms" and of the errors of Bergoglianity. Hannibal Bugnini forsaw this very clearly when he wrote in 1956 that the pope who had been, first, the Restorer of the Vigil and then the Restorer of Holy Week, would become the Supreme Restorer of the entire sacred Liturgy (totius sacrae Liturgiae Summus Instaurator).

We did not then and do not now need a Supreme Restorer of the entire Liturgy. We need a recovery of respect for the ancient liturgical texts so that they can shape the beliefs of the worshipping community.

Not be shaped by them.

In his Letter which accompanied Traditionis custodes, PF claimed to be following in the footsteps of S Pius V.

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

PF claimed that S Pius was "establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum. For four centuries this Missale Romanum, promulgated by S Pius V, was thus the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite ...".

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The merits of the Missal of S Pius V did in fact secure for it a dominance in those "four centuries".  But this was not what S Pius either intended or expressed in his legislation. We must not read history with hindsight. Careless folk often write that S Pius "permitted" the survival of rites older than 200 years.

This is erroneous. Quo primum, dealing with the rites of more than 200 years, stated that the pope was by no means abolishing them (NEQUAQUAM AUFERIMUS); on the contrary, he ordered them to be continued (unless a bishop with the unanimous consent of the Chapter decided  otherwise).

S Pius ordered the preservation of Rites with a history of more than 200 years.

PF is ordering the extinction of  a Rite more than 1500 years old.

To assert the identity of these two policies is the language of 1984; it is such a massive suggestio falsi that I rather suspect it tips over into the category of a great big lie.

22 July 2023

The Magdalena

 What a massive difference between the propers for today in the old and the new rites! In the old rites, sensuality so insistent and so fierce that a cold-hearted pedant might condemn it for being cloying. As for the Novus Ordo, one has to comment that (1) Uncle Arthur's Merry Men, in composing a new Preface, were amusingly unable to avoid an elementary schoolboy howler in their Latin; and (2) this great Saint is, in some modern circles, subsumed into movements for the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries. A medieval monkish hagiographer would have hung his head in shame at the rubbish which has been foisted on S M M by the feminists of our own time. Was she really a kipper-curer?

The older propers got under way last night with those wonderful Mattins readings from the Song of Solomon ... the woman, distaught by love, searching through the vicos et plateas for the one she loves, ending with the heart-wrenching set me as a seal upon thy heart ... for love is as strong as death. And, in the second Nocturn, we have S Gregory's fine synthesis of the narratives about sinful women kissing the Lord's feet.

Wozzat? You criticise Pope Gregory for mixing together traditions about different women? Shame upon you! You should know better than to cticicise a pope! S Gregory is preaching in the full-blooded style of a robust and fertile oral culture, in which allusion, quotation, combination are integral parts of narrative process. The post-conciliar fiddlers either ignorantly did not know this, or wantonly rejected it (perhaps they were all biblical fundamentalists). And, incidentally, the rather good Methodist commentator on S John, C K Barrett, points out that, in the Garden, me mou haptou, present imperative, implies that S M M is trying to clasp the Lord's feet. 

Feet again ...

One question with which readers may be able to help me is this. 

In the Third Nocturn, S Augustine, in his homily, remarks that Noli me tangere occurs in Isaias. Can anybody show me where? 

There could be profundities here.

21 July 2023

Do it now!

 As I returned from Gatwick to Oxford in the coach, I watched the exhortations upon the screen.

"Check our website!"

"Leave a review on Trip Adviser!"

"Leave a review on Google!"

"You can pay by using contactless payment!"

"Download our new App!"

"Check out our website for inspiration!"

"Let us know!"

"Scan me!"

"Welcome aboard!"

"Check out our discounted items!"

A large percentage is in grammatical imperatives. Is the ubiquitous exclamation mark a new convention in the uttering of instructions?

20 July 2023

Olfactory Ecumenism

 Canon Charles Hutchinson, a close lookalike of the late Benito Mussolini, il Duce, once Anglican chaplain (I mean Hutch was) in Istanbul ... oops, I meant to say Constantinople ... had the good fortune to meet Mgr Roncalli, at that time Apostolic Delate in, er, Byzantium. He displayed (Hutch, I mean, did) an autographed photograph of that prelate ... and, beside it, two more autographed photographs of rising clerics.

He used to offer admirers this scholion of the three photographs: "I think I am probably the only Anglican clergyman who has been kissed by the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Patriarch of Moscow; and, you know, they all smelt of garlic.".

I am confident that there will be many readers whose relationships with PF are close enough for them to be able to tell us ... er ...

19 July 2023

Pew Openers?

In S JHN's Loss and Gain (1848), we notice a couple of high church undergraduates entering an Oxford church ... for all I know, it might have been Mags. "' Here's a church open.' said White; 'that's odd; let's go in.'

"They entered; an old woman was dusting the pew as if for a service. 'That will be all set right,' said Willis; 'we must have no women, but sacristans and servers.' ...

"On looking up he saw some ladies in the church whom he and Willis knew--the pretty Miss Boltons--very Catholic girls, and really kind, charitable persons into the bargain. ... their object in entering the church  ... was to see the old woman , who was at once a subject and organ of their bounty ... 'I fear,' answered White, 'it would fare hard with your protegee, the old lady who dusts out the pews.' 'Why, certainly,' said Miss Bolton, 'because there would be no pews to dust ... who will take her present place?' 'A sacristan,' answered White ... "

If we shuffle the camera a century or so onward, we may catch the undergraduate Colin Stephenson in Mags describing "the venerable Fr Hack reading from the sermons of Dr. Pusey to one old woman who had started her church life as the Pew Opener .... He once said to me: 'Mary Corbett (the Pew Opener) is a very fortunate woman. She is as one born out of due time for she has heard every sermon that Dr. Pusey ever preached.' ... Mary Corbett was the 'pew-opener', her father being the parish clerk. She lived to tend the votive candle stands and answer Mass in Fr. Hack's days when she gave the church an authentic continental air for she was an exact replica of the old women one used to see doing the same thing in French churches. "

Do we have here a vera successio Apostolica

18 July 2023

I bet the NLM, for all its many virtues and excellences, ...

  ... has never dealt with this question (from Merrily by Colin Stephenson):

" Bishop Roscow Shedden ... had been Bishop of Nassau and ... even in old age was a wonderfiul sight in pontifical vestments. ... he loved the music of St. Mary Magdalen's [in Oxford] and when pontificating would get himself settled on the fald stool, his golden mitre on his head, take a large pinch of snuff with purple-gloved fingers, and then sit back with with his eyes closed and a look of beatific contentment on his face."

And I bet those wonderful old Vicars Apostolic, the Challoners ...  took snuff ... and those blue-soutaned Gallican bishops of temp Ludovici XIV ... but I can't find snuff in the index of O'Connell.

17 July 2023

Martyrs and quarter-martyrs

Just down on the river from where Pam and I live, and within sight of the long boat called Vinny Boy, there is a former manor house once in the hands of the Napier/Napper family. They were recusant; a member of the family, Fr George Napier of Corpus Christi College and then of Douay, beatified in 1929, was hanged drawn and quartered on 9 November 1610.

The House later came by marriage to the Powells.  

Fr Jerome Bertram recounted that "one day the miller down at Sandford complained something was blocking his wheel, and Edward Powell came down to have a look. 'Oh', he said, 'that's a quarter of Uncle George."

Blessed George's "quarters [had been] thrown into the river, so nephew Edward took up the remains and buried them in what had been the Hospitallers' church."

Father goes on: "I was all agog to try to get permission to excavate, and bring the relics back to Oxford in triumph -- you know, in a brilliantly decorated barge, with trumpeters sounding from each bridge as the precious cargo passed underneath ... but just in time I discovered from Bede Camm that some Catholics had excavated the whole of the old chapel a hundred years ago, and failed to find the quarter-martyr."

Oret pro nobis.

Off at a tangent ... that old House is now a hotel; and it bought the old St John's College barge when the college barges were decomissioned ... so, if you want to see what they looked like ...

16 July 2023

John Leland, and does the Devil break wind over Wales?

In the 1530s, as Henry Tudor attempted to gather evidence in his campaign for the annulment of his marriage - and later, his contest with the Pope - a tame intellectual called Leland was sent round the monastic libraries of England to pick up, in the years before the imminent dissolution, texts which might help the royal cause. He also did what he could to secure, for the royal collections, some of the choicest books harboured by the religious orders. He was not very successful in the former enterprise; when he got to the Oxford Greyfriars, where he confidently expected to secure a great haul of the works of Grosseteste, he found ... zilch ... I wonder why ... But in the latter business, he did rather better; there is in Bodley a preconquest book put together by S Dunstan, looted from Glastonbury, with a picture of a prostrate monk which might conceivably have been drawn by the Saint himself.

I hope you made your way through my recent post on the Middle Cornish plays written (probably) at Glasney College in Cornwall, and the iniquities of Bad King Tudor. Leland ... drole, yes? ... found it prudent to 'discover' in Cornwall evidence that Tudor was not so bad, after all; surprise surprise, he was a good religious king and a benefactor of the Church! 1984 and all that! Intellectuals, intellectuals!!

Incidentally, nowadays racial ideologues within the soi-disant 'Celtic' nations (unaware still that research in DNA has disproved any possibility of a common genetic inheritance) are elaborately enthusiastic about a warm pan-Celtic solidarity. However, there is little evidence for this sensitive racial fellow-feeling in the Middle Cornish texts or in sixteenth century history. The sorceress Owbra, while collecting the magical substances whereby to get the amorous Tudor stuck in her bath (memories of/allusions to Anne Bullen 'bewitching' Henry VIII?), includes in her pharmacology the 'noises' ('trosow': 'farts'?) which the Devil 'throws' over Wales.

And, after the Prayer Book Rising of 1549, while the regime's Welsh troops didn't quite manage the long journey to the battlefields until the Italian mercenaries had done most of the slaughtering, they certainly arrived in time to share effectively in the looting. A Exonian (and Protestant) chronicler recorded the contemporary witticism that the prices they charged for selling stuff back to the locals from whom they had stolen it were quite reasonable!

15 July 2023

Bad King Tudor ... or good?

While in Cornwall over the decades, Pam and I spent the evenings reading some texts in the Cornish language. The current Cornish Nationalist and Awareness Movements are predominantly secular; but, amusingly, they have to pay lip service to the relics of the old Cornish language and literature. Yet these are predominantly Christian and Catholic: religious plays written in the Middle Ages by (probably) the Canons of Glasney College to be put on in dramatic festivals (spread over two or more days, held in the round 'Playing Places' remains of which can be found in various parts of Cornwall); or else are Cornish sermons done for the Catholic education of the people in the reign of or soon after Good Queen Mary (largely translated from sermons of Bonner).

A recurrent motif of the plays is Bad King Tudor ('Teutharus' in the mss.; rendered nowadays as Tewdhar). In the quite recently discovered Life of S Kay, the Saint bamboozles the Bad King. Tudor, after sundry mistreatments of Kay, has promised that the saint can have as much land as he can impark while the king is in the bath. But the sorceress Owbra, who lures the king into the bath with expectations that he will be able to 'launcya' her (lots of loan words in Middle Cornish) therein, contrives by her potions that he will not be able to get out of it. "Wicked woman! For a thousand pounds I would not wish to see thee, by the Mass (ru'n oferen)! Through thee I am bewitched! Here I am stitched and stuck to the tub!"

Bad King Tudor appears in the literature of Cornwall much earlier, in the Latin Vita Sancti Petroci published by the Bollandist Fr Grosjean. The big question about the Glasney plays is exactly how they relate to the Cornish experience of the Tudor dynasty. Did they contribute to the Cornish backing of Pretenders in the time of Henry VII? Are they connected with the Cornish rebellion of 1497? With the religious discontent felt in Cornwall under Henry VIII and Edward VI?

More on Tudor tomorrow.

14 July 2023

Bastille Day

 Today, 14 July, is the Anniversary of the day in 1979 when Jerome Bertram, later of the Congregation of the Oratory, was ordained Priest in the Cathedral Church of S Philip in Arundel.

Father was a finely sensitive historian (FSA), a scholar among scholars, MA of S John's College in this University ... a college which, in the reign of Bloody Bess was a hotbed of Popery ... indeed, it was for just such a purpose that it had been founded. 

Father was a Classical scholar. He became one of this country's most notable experts on monumental brasses and monumental inscriptions generally.

He never possessed a mobile phone.

When he died on 19 October, 2019, it was the Feast Day of S Frideswide, Patron of Oxford; and similtaneously that of S Philip Howard, Patron of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton ... where Father was both baptised and ordained.

Before the Canonisation of Philip Howard, the future cathedral had been dedicated to S Philip Neri, Founder of the Oratories.

It is a privilege to have known him, and, in a small degree, to have collaborated with him.

13 July 2023

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

Today is the (35th) obit of one of the greatest intellectual figures of the last century. Mohrmann it was who demonstrated that Liturgical Latin, like many liturgical dialects, was an artificial construct deliberately invented so as to be as worthy as possible for the August Sacrifice (forget the creaky old Protestant and 1960s superstition that 'the Primitive Church' was dead set on 'vernacular' liturgies designed to be 'understanded of the people').

One of the tragedies of the 1960s was that a particular version of a 'Liturgical Movement' got its grip upon the minds of superficial 'professional liturgists' who had their sticky hands upon the levers of power. Men (yes, I think they were all men) who were deaf to Mohrmann's scholarship and her immense erudition. Men (well, let us say half-men) who knew what was best for little Johnny and insisted on little Johnny's jaws being clamped open while they force-fed him with their revolting gruel.

In those middle years of that century there were other very competent women liturgists. I wonder if the "Liturgical Reform" would have been less disastrous if it had not been forced through by an insensitive illiterate narrow-minded fascist androcracy.

Curious, isn't it, that our male culture went pretty well straight from a crass and arrogant assumption that the little woman had little capacity for intelligent thought, all the way to a servile and creepy subordination to every whimsy of femino-fascism.

Men are such odd creatures.

12 July 2023

Recusant Ickford

Ickford is only a couple of miles along the River Thame from the recusant centre at Waterperry. Ickford church has a number of monuments to the Phillips family, who seem to have oscillated between being Recusants and Church Papists. Fr Thomas Phillips, in the first part of the eighteenth century, joined the Society of Jesus; I feel he was a man after my own heart, because he developed a great love for teaching the Humanities. 

When his superiors refused his plea to be allowed to teach a course in that subject, in a fit of pique he left the Society and acquired the patronage of King Charles III. His Majesty secured him a canonry at Tongres and a dispensation to apply its income to his work in the English Mission. He ended his life chaplaining in great Catholic houses, such as that of the Earls of Shrewsbury; among his works was a lengthy biography of Cardinal Pole. 

Perhaps we could see him as a link between the dangerous recusancy of the seventeenth century and the first glimmerings of the Catholic Revival which was to happen in the nineteenth; and as a precursor of the learned gentleman clergy in the English Catholic Church ... Lingard ... Tierney ... Oliver ...

11 July 2023

Country churches galore

Waterstock Church: late fifteenth century glass, of donors. Originally associated with figures of Ss Mary, Ignatius, and Swithun. Here, as so commonly, it was not the Reformation that led to the disappearance of so much glass; it was not even the Puritans; it was weather and the decay of centuries.

A brief look at Pevsner had made me, schoolmaster to my fingertips, classify Waterstock church as Beta Triple Minus. Waterperry, before I actually visited it, I had down as Alpha triple minus; but two of those minuses were undeserved. It goes from Saxon chancel arch to Georgian monument in Francis Chantrey's best style (the Chantrey who worked for Lord Egremont at Petworth). Three-decker pulpit and box pews survive; spectacular brasses (one palimpsest); well preserved medieval glass, including the gorgeous arms of Saunders (per chevron sable and argent, three elephants' heads counterchanged, armed ... or should I blazon tusked? ... or).

The palimpsest brass encapsulated the history of the looting of the Church of England by the Tudors: the original brass was early fifteenth century and was in the Austin friary of Christ Church in London - sold, upon the suppression in 1532, as scrap - recut for Sir Walter Curson (who had died in 1527) for his grave in the Austin Friary in Oxford (of which he was a benefactor; Wadham College now stands on the site) - transferred to Waterperry upon its dissolution in 1539.

But most poignant was some Georgian Gothick panelling at the back of the church. Waterperry was one of the great Recusant centres in the Oxfordshire countryside, and this panelling was ejected from the manor house when the Recusant Curson family expired and their domestic chapel in the house was closed down.

Later occupants discovered the graves, within the house, of Catholic clergy buried secretly during the penal period.

I wonder how common this was. 

10 July 2023


One of the suggestions doing the rounds about how we can let the 'New Rite' improve the 'Old' is the incorporation of some of the collects from Sanctorale of the new. This is because the collects in the post-Conciliar books refer to the biography or charism of a saint much more closely than do most of the collects in the 'Tridentine' books, and often do so quite neatly.

I don't want to be absolutist and dogmatic on this point. Some of the new collects are indeed fine (I had better make it clear that I am refering to the Latin originals, not the old ICEL parodies). If the two uses of the Roman Rite are to converge and eventually coalesce, I'll put in a vote for S Joseph's new collect: an elegant, slinky, almost Leonine piece of Latinity.

But I would not favour a doctrinaire replacement of all or even many of the old Sanctorale collects by the new biographical ones. My reasons are quite simple: (1) I am in favour of cultural diversity and inclusivity in Liturgy. A rite should not too closely reflect the fashions of any one particular phase in its history. And the preference for 'biographical' collects is a phase, a phashion, and even a phad. (2) The most important thing about the saints is that they are our fellows now; not dead figures in the past with whom the only relationship that we can have is that of recollection and emulation. As the Communicantes and Nobis quoque make clear, we seek the protection of their prayers, and admission into their consortium. And let's be frank about it: even when the facts about a Saint are clear and authentic, it is often far from obvious that we should imitate them. One of the most embarassing sermons I ever heard was by a daft bishop who told a Public School congregation, invoking the example of S Francis, that if their bishop told them to take all their clothes off, they should do so. (He is now completing a well-deserved prison sentence.) No: our relationship with the Saints should be that of fellowship, and the old collects of the Roman Rite expressed and emphasised this by their constant requests to God for the help of the prayers of the Saints. That is why it is not even the end of the world if one has to use the collects from the communia from time to time.

Again, I am not going to be absolutist here. But it seems to me that the preference for 'biographical' collects has a lot to do with the exaggerated historicism which led medieval hagiographers, when they couldn't find facts, to elaborate romances. This even tripped up no lesser liturgist than Dr Cranmer. In composing his first (1549) Prayer Book, he was faced with an ancient collect for S Andrew which in effect asked God that the Saint might continue his Apostolic ministry of preaching and ruling by being now our perpetuus intercessor. Poor Protty Cranmer couldn't allow that, so he composed a new collect refering to the Saint's 'sharp and painful death of the crosse'. It was one of the old boy's oops-a-daisy moments; he soon realised (or did one of his hatchet-jawed teutonic mentors waspishly point it out to him?) that S Andrew's cross was an unbiblical legend. So in his 1552 book this had to be replaced with something appropriately biblical about the protoclete.

9 July 2023

Papyri and Fallibility

Off for a walk through the papyrus groves on the Nile Delta. (You will find it in a spot marked on the tourist maps of Oxford as The Botanical Garden. The Nile is a tributary of the Cherwell, joining it just opposite St Hilda's College. Not many people know that.) I enjoy the walk. It reminds me of everything that papyrus has meant for human culture ... right down to what we used to call the 'New Sappho' (i.e. the latest papyrus fragment of a mainly lost Lesbian poetess to come out of the Egyptian sands) ... "used to call" because ZPE has since published an even newer Sappho. The old New Sappho was probably about what she wants the Girls to do at her funeral, but we may never know, because the left hand side of the page is missing. It so often is. Papyri are fun for classicists, because they are new evidence and they explode hypotheses, reminding us that a hypothesis is only a hypothesis and a scholar is only a scholar.

A couple of examples: dear old Sappho ... was she a schoolmistress or a lesbian? (You can't, of course, be both.) Von Wilamowitz Moellendorf backed his hunch that she was a respectable schoolmistress and indignantly, chivalrously, defended her reputation against sacrilegious attack. Then D L Page did a wonderful demolition job on the Graf; pointing out that there is no evidence whatsoever for the anachronistic idea that Sappho ran a school and that the obvious assumption is that was a .... um ... Lesbian. Then a decade or three ago, a fragment of a Hellenistic biography was published which asserted that she was ... a schoolmistress. Hellenistic, biographies do not, of course, have to be correct. But at least the Wilamowitz theory could hardly any longer be dismissed as unthinkably anachronistic. Facial egg for Page; rehabilitation for the Graf von W-M.

And there is the question of the rather masochistic topos whereby Roman Elegists addressed their puella as Domina and assumed a role of servitium towards her. Who began that game? R O A M Lyne, of Balliol College in this University, proved conclusively and beyond all doubt that it was Propertius. But while Lyne's book was actually being printed, the Egyptians, ingeniously subversive fellows, built an enormous dam at Aswan. And some rescue archaeology had to be done at a Roman fortlet on the site. And a papyrus fragment - only six lines - came to light, showing that the elegist Gallus, who wrote just before Propertius and whose work had been lost more or less since (on the wise advice of Augustus) he committed suicide, addressed his Lycoris as Domina. Oops-a-daisy for Dr Lyne! Bliss! There is a Providence that shapes the ends of academic certainties!

Papyri might throw light on the New Testament. A few years ago, some fragments from Qumran rendered it distinctly probable that S Mark's Gospel and S Paul's 'Pastoral Epistles' were written before 70 A.D. That, of course, explodes the entire fashionable sceptical structure of liberal Protestant Anglo-Saxon 'New Testament Studies' created in the twentieth century. But NT 'scholars' are not like us Classicists; they can't bear having their cherished beliefs, which they have gullibly accepted all their lives, and made the basis of all their laborious hypothesising, subverted. So they just refused to believe it!

How dreadful it must be to be so mired and imprisoned in the dead dark dogmas of the Dark Ages!

Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace in making me a Classicist and a Catholic, encouraged to follow evidence and to think for myself.  

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo!

8 July 2023

Cranmer, the Ancient Fathers, and the Ordinariate Missal

The Anglican Patrimony is and was a strange thing ...

Most of the Reformation ecclesial bodies took as normative the Bible, the Early Church, and, to provide a 'hermeneutic' (after all, both Bible and Early Church can be differently interpreted by different people) a normative theological interpreter: it might be Luther; or there is always Calvin; or whoever. But the Church of England never had a hermeneutic; we have no Reformation guru (like Luther for Lutherans) who, if you can find evidence in his werke , trumps all arguments. So we were left with just Bible and Early Church and, if you will forgive me for saying so, the Grace of God..

When poor Dr Cranmer composed his Liturgy there was not a lot of evidence about how the Early Church actually did worship. Despite his threefold appeal to 'the auncient fathers' in the preface to the 1549 book, we now know that in that and subsequent books a lot of primitive baby got thrown out and a lot of medieval bathwater got retained. This became clear over the next 200 years. And, as early liturgical texts gradually emerged from the presses, those who kept their reading up-to-date became aware that Cranmer's Liturgy fell far short of what could be shown to be the'godly order of the auncient fathers'.

This left two possibilities: the Protestant option: Cranmer's Liturgy may not be primitive but it is scriptural and that rules, OK; the Catholic option; his Rite must be reformed in accordance with what is now known about the worship of the Early Church, if we are to be faithful to what he himself set as his gold-standard. So, in the 1630s, Laud's Scottish colleagues gave Scotland a Prayer book revised in accordance with 'primitive' precedent; and in the 1660s some bishops did the same in England by restoring the'Prayer of Oblation' to immediately after the 'Prayer of Consecration'. Edward Stephens  went much further. Arguing that the Cranmerian Liturgy was imposed by Parliament and had never had approval from the Church [just as the twentieth century papalists like Fr Alban Baverstock were to argue], he asked 'Whether .. one having knowledge ... ought or may use this imperfect and disordered Form, or comply with it, by reason of any Humane Law, or of his own Subscripton .. '. To his own question he gave a decidedly negative answer: 'all, who have any regard to their Baptismal Covenant and Renunciation therein of the Devil and all his works [he had come to regard Cranmer's texts as an opus Diaboli].... if they be Priests , must celebrate this Holy Sacrifice ... in the compleatest form they can procure ...'. And in his own liturgical forms he did just that: using Eastern material to supplement Cranmer's texts.

The later eighteenth century Anglican Catholic ritualists, such as the Non-Jurors (those ejected from the C of E for refusing to swear allegiance to the Orange Usurper after the Dutch Invasion of 1688) did the same; during that century there was an assumption that the newly discovered early Eastern liturgical forms were 'more primitive' than Western forms such as the Canon of the Roman Mass. The Victorian Ritualists knew better, and a succession of Altar Books increasingly supplemented Cranmer with Roman material (sometimes diplomatically described as 'Sarum'). This tradition of Altar Books culminated in the English Missal, which dominated Anglo-Catholicism until, after the Council, it lost its nerve and aped the progressive liturgical corruptions adopted by 'Rome'. Our Ordinariate Missal is, of course, the final and splendid product of the English Missal tradition.

Is there any other of the 'Reformation' ecclesial bodies which has had such a succession of theologians and liturgists, since the 1630s, who assented to papal primacy, discarded Reformation texts or supplemented them with ancient liturgical texts, believed in the full reality of the Lord's presence in the Eucharist, believed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, offered it daily or weekly?

7 July 2023

Impartial scholarship

Sometimes we are told that a piece of committed and "Christian" scholarship is inevitably going to be partial and biased because, well, to paraphrase Ms Mandy Rice Davies, we would say that, wouldn't we. Some years ago, in her inaugural lecture as a Professor in this University, Sarah Foot, now Dean of Christ Church, attacked that assumption.

She was not keen on the idea that, in order to be 'academic', the 'profession' in a modern university of a subject like ecclesiastical history has to be left to those who have a negative or reductionist view, and who see the subject from a hostile and secularising standpoint in which Faith simply has to be considered a facade for more mundane and untheological historical processes. It is the duty of the ecclesiastical historian to restore 'their present' to earlier communities by taking them seriously. While the student does not have to be a believer, (s)he should have an empathetic (my word) understanding of the faithed humans (s)he describes.

I find it a remarkable example of diabolical skill, this idea that only those hostile to Christianity really count as impartial; as if Christians must be disqualified for having a biasing agenda but atheists are lofty and dispassionate students of their subject. I recall the passage in The Pilgrim's Regress in which C S Lewis portrays the minions of the Zeitgeist indoctrinating their prisoners:
"What is the proper answer to an argument proving the existence of [God]?
"You say that because you are a [priest].
"Good boy ... what is the answer to an argument that two and two make four?

"You say that because you are a mathematician ..."

The late Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of the Daughter University spent some decades restoring a genuine theological conviction to the Crusaders. And I remember particularly the words of M Schneiders in 1996, discussing early Irish liturgy: "for a proper understanding of the past an affinity with the material is useful, at least if one wishes to go beyond the recovery of mere facts, if one tries to understand the people who used these texts, who celebrated Mass with these ancient prayers."

But 'useful' is too timorous a word; and Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix put it so much more memorably ... well, he would, wouldn't he? ... when, writing about the Canon Romanus, he said: "This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it."

PF would be an even better and even finer Pope if he read more Dix.

6 July 2023

A "Coro Ligneo" in Paradise

"There are two sets of seats, the higher set of 19 stalls with backing, and the lower set in the form of a bench. They are local workmanship of 1750. They served for the recitation of the canonical hours; in fact, until 1797 there were at Gardone ten chaplains who, together with the Archpriest, recited daily the canonical hours, receiving a share of the funds which were confiscated by the Provisional Government of Brescia in 1797. All these chaplains were at the service of the various schools and confraternities: of the Blessed Sacrament, of the Holy Rosary ... and were dedicated to the instruction of the children in reading and writing".

So says the guide book of the Church of S Nicolas in the exquisite village of Gardone Riviera, where some lucky souls, including this one, go (Deo volente) each summer for the Roman Forum. The choir stalls thus described are to the East of the High Altar. 

From Gardone, you can get ferries round Lake Garda, visiting the the other townships and villages; these include Salo, centre of ("Leettle Gairrrls, this is Signor Mussolini. He is called Il Duuuce") the 'Italian Social Republic' where Mussolini spent the last months of the War (and of his life). And the Sirmio of Catullus, from which he sailed his yacht ... and Venetian strongholds in this part of the dominions of the Most Serene Republic, stretching as far North as Malcesine where the Lake ends in the Alps. There can surely be no better centre, no lovelier, no more hospitable, for exploring this fascinating area than the Locanda agli Angeli in Gardone Riviera.

Quite a number of the churches around Lake Garda have the same arrangement as Gardone Church; indeed, quite a lot of them were built or rebuilt around the same time (1740 is the date on Gardone Church). Why? Is this gathering of such 'chaplains' into collegiate life usual throughout Italy? Is the provision of choir stalls for them behind High Altars common?

Sed et in Arcadia Buonaparte. In March 1797, the West Bank of Garda was lost to La Serenissima and came under the rule of the 'Provisional Government of Brescia', until in November that entity was itself subsumed into the Napoleonic state of the 'Cisalpine Republic'. The Garda Riviera was among the areas which resisted the Provisional Government. It was during this period of ecclesiastical despoliation that the Dominican House in Brescia was closed: its fantastic pietra dura Rosary Altar is now the Lady Altar, the crowning glory, in London's Brompton Oratory.

Next summer, why not go to the Roman Forum? Moreover, if, meanwhile, you still need a holiday this summer combining stunning scenery, Art History (every church in the area is crammed with masterpieces), a lake fit for swimming, fine food, marvellous local wines, why not see if you can still get a booking at the Locanda agli Angeli and, from there, 'do' Garda?

5 July 2023

Professor Mascall's Celibate Elephants.

I don't think the Revd Professor Canon E L Mascall often quoted from that rigid old atheist and philanderer Bertrand Russell. But he did preserve an anecdote of Russell's about a Hindu Philosopher. "The philosopher maintained that the earth was supported by an elephant, which in turn stood upon a tortoise. When asked what supported the tortoise, he said that he was tired of metaphysics and wished to change the subject.".

I dunno what there is in this that makes me laugh ... but something does.

As it happens, Mascall preserved another elephant story. It concerned a priest [Anglican] whom he does not name. This priest was wealthy enough to be able to design and commission his own vestments. He proudly showed a brother priest a chasuble embellished with "the front view of a vigorously depicted elephant". The brother priest "displayed[ed] his ignorance of ecclesiastical symbolism ... [but] enlightenment came. 'Oh my dear Father, surely you know this: the emblem of sacerdotal chastity.'"


4 July 2023

Climate Change

Lots of blossom, Myrtle, Olive, in our garden. (But very few butterflies.) According to the know-alls, this was the warmest and driest June since 1940.

Hang on ...



That lovely June (you remember it?) when the dear little boats plied their summer trade in and out of Dunkirk ... When Herr Hitler met the French in a gracious old vintage railway carriage in a French woodland glade, to discuss Peace ...

So why was June 1940 so clement? Global Warming, of course ... we all know that ... dogma datum ... but what particular anthropogenic processes caused the Climate Change that June? 

hitlersillegalwar, of course.

The Luftwaffe, of course!! Hermann Goring!!! 

So, June 2023 ... why so warm ... 



It's amazing, how well everything fits together! As it always does in all the best Conspiracy Theories!!



 For the next couple ofweeks, I SHALL be offering a post on this blog every morning, Deo volente, but I shall NOT be sifting through comments. I shall try to summon the energy to do that when I return.

Profecturus enim iam sum, Deo volente, ad Lacum amoenum Benacum, gratum Caio Valerio Catullo necnon et Viro Eminentissimo Bembo Poloque caro nostro Reginaldo.

3 July 2023

TUCHO ... it's worse than you think

I doubt if it is possble to overestimate the disaster inherent in the appointment of PF's long-time crony Tucho Fernandez to the ministry once discharged, with such distinction, by Joseph Ratzinger. PF's crudely critical words about how this dicastery had operated in its Ratzingerian past, speak for themselves.

Together with the demolition of Summorum Pontificum, this appointment signifies not only the rubbishing of the entire two-and-a-half-decades collaborazione of S John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger; it indicates the definitive ending of the Petrine Ministry, as a service to the Church, as we have known it.

Instead of providing a check against error, the now-called DDF is to be ... PF has made this clear ... an engine of on-going theological and moral corruption within the Church. If the last decade has seemed like a chilly winter for Catholics, well, we aint seen nuffin yet.

We must not be blind to the extent of the harm this man will be able, and willing, to do. He will be on the governing boards of dicasteries other than his own. Think round that ...

As a member of one of the Ordinariates, writing as an individual and only in my own name, I have particular concerns. The creation of Catholic entities out of communities dating from the Reformation was one of the most striking achievements of the last pontificate ... how terrible it would be if it ended in chaos or acrimony. It was, of course, Archbishop Bergoglio who, the day after the Ordinariates were announced by Pope Benedict, said how unnecessary they were; who deplored their inauguration.

The Prefect of the DDF is 'line manager' for the three Ordinariates.

Our best hope is that, given the smallness of the Ordinariates, they will be a long way down the queue of priorities for Remedial Treatment. Tucho may have bigger victims to hunt down first.

But, not long ago, the Ordinary of the American Ordinariate, Bishop Stephen Lopes, was elected, by the entire USA episcopate, to be their Mr Liturgy. Bishop Stephen is a good Catholic and a fine Liturgist, both theoretical and practical. It will probably be best if I do not load too much more detail onto this dangerous analysis.

I doubt whether this election went unnoticed by the Bergoglian delatores in North America ... Cupich ... the McCarrick gang ...

Then there is the question of Appointments. Pope Benedict drafted Anglicanorum coetibus specifically so that the question of the nomination of candidates to be Ordinary was protected from interference by local episcopates. The Nuncio is supposed to send to Rome a terna of names generated within an Ordinariate itself. But, once that list gets to Rome, anything can happen.

In conclusion: in addition to all rhis, there is the question of paedophile priests, which comes within the remit of the DDF. 

Oh dear.

2 July 2023


For more than five years, I have been warning about the Bergoglian plan to make Tucho Fernandez Prefect of the CDF/DDF.

Here, for example, is a piece from this blog on 6 June 2018.

It gives me no pleasure to have been proved right.

 ONEPETERFIVE is carrying a story that the outgoing Archbishop of La Plata has not only had his resignation accepted with significantly indecent haste, but is being told not to reside in the Archdiocese. If this turns out to be true, it will show a cavalier attitude to Canon Law (402:  ... habitationis sedem, si id exoptet, in ipsa dioecesi servare potest, nisi certis in casibus ob specialia adiuncta ab Apostolica Sede aliter provideatur.)

It has long been my fear that PF might wish to fast-track Tucho Fernandez, the Professor of the Art of Kissing, to be Prefect of the CDF. This may be a step towards that. We must pray that this pontificate may not last long enough to allow any such plot to mature.

If all this is true, it exemplifies the picture painted by recent historians, of this pontificate as a tyranny; an absolute monarchy. Sire; Lawler; Douthat. Except that in real absolute monarchies there were de facto checks and balances.

The only attractive feature of this story is that the emeritus archbishop is said to have been offered a bed by an Orthodox bishop. Vivat Byzantium.

God grant that the whole story may turn out to be untrue.

Totalitarianism; is Manila Faithful to Francis?

God be praised for our Anglo-Saxon instinct for juridical precision and limitation. 

In the Church of England, the oath of canonical obedience is restricted to "all things lawful and honest".

And, if a man swears allegiance to a monarch, that oath refers to the monarch's lawful successors. We are not culturally inclined to swear unlimited oaths structured around the cult of an individual. This ... unlike many of our instincts ... is laudable.

Compare with it the Nazi Oath to Hitler. "I swear to Thee, Adolph Hitler ... obedience unto death ...".

That oath, BTW, referred to Herr Hitler as "the Leader": just as today's Manila formula refers to PF.

The Manila dogma requires those subscribing, to undertake: "To you Pope Francis we pledge our undying loyalty and filial veneration, now and forever".

Really? "Forever"? If PF lives and reigns, as we hope, for another 35 years, nevertheless there will some day be another, different, pope. Might not he or she expect to receive some sort of respect from the Catholics of his or her own time? What is he/she going to make of it if we all run around in circles protesting our undying loyalty to his or her predecessor "forever"? 

"Forever" seems to me an awfully, terribly, long time.

When we have departed this earthly life, will it be proper for us to explain to the Almighty that our obedience to Him is "forever" conditioned and limited by our "loyalty and veneration" for Pope Francis I?

(Paragraph 17 of Pius XI's Encyclical Mit Brennende Sorge is important and illuminating here.)

The cult of an Individual, whether in Church or in State, is contrary to every sound Christian instinct. Well, actually, to every sound human instinct.

In the collection Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies (Arouca eds Lamont and Pierantoni pp 199 ff) I brought together a number of loci where extreme hyperpapalism has seduced various clerical personages into attributing something like divinity to PF. The Manila vows represent another and very extreme example of this grossly heterodox malaise.

The personalised vows to Bergoglio currently demanded by bishops in the Philippines, not least when there is attributed to PF such a status as the "Very Personification of the Spirit of Vatican II", represent a dreadful corruption of Catholicism; a corruption which I personally repudiate.

This Manila stuff is either Blasphemy or it is meaningless verbose Bilge. Neither seems to me to constitute an appropriate interpolation into Holy Mass after the Creed.

Yes; I know we can laugh, as a number of bloggers are pointing out. Indeed, laughter is often the best response to the terrible perversion of Catholicism being thrust (by corrupted minds including the Nuncio) upon the poor peoples of the Philippines. 

But all this is much worse than just a big bad joke by risible out-of-control Latinos.

Corruptio optimi pessima.


(1) The General Instruction of the (Novus Ordo) Missal makes clear that the Roman Canon should have been used (para 365) because Ss Peter and Paul are mentioned in it. If the purpose of the Church of Manila was to 'make room' for the Fidelity to Francis business by using a short Eucharistic Prayer, this would seem to me an obvious abuse.

(2) If the Roman Canon was used, and it was still felt that the rite needed to be lengthened, the obvious solution would be to incorporate the Athanasian Creed; which has three advantages: (a) as S John Henry Newman pointed out, it is extraordinarily beautiful; (b) it comes from deep within the ancient Memory of the Latin Churches, not being an ad hoc formula concocted recently; and (c) it is not crammed chokka with absurdities. 


1 July 2023

Up-to-the-moment Philological Details

 (1) Glottal Stop. I think I have noticed that North American politicians and diplomats commonly replace the T in Pu(t)in with a Glottal Stop; and degrade the following vowel into a schwa: Pu:en. 

Is the Glottal Stop spreading in the US of A? Has it become a mechanism for expressing disapproval?

(2) Automatic Epithets: English news-readers, politicians, and commentators, referring to the present horrible events in the Ukraine, seem invariably to refer to "Putinsillegalwar". Rather like Homer, where Achilles is so often Swiftfooted, podarkes. I have come to resent the prescriptiveness in this. Are these people all experts in International Law? Upon what authority do they attempt to dictate what I am to think? Are they afraid that I may not realise the illegality of the war? Do they think that I, and all the other listeners, are (1) wickedly perverse people who do not acknowledge an obvious 'illegality', or (2) half-witted fools so stupid that we need to be given this vital information many times a day? 

During the decades when we were constantly being drawn into Special Military Operations, [I do not believe that 'War' was ever formally and legally declared], especially in the Middle East, I do not recall that our journalists kept referring exempli gratia to Blairsillegalwar or Bushsillegalwar. They just reminded us of all the Weapons Of Mass Destruction which could be unleashed upon us with as little as 40 minutes' warning.

Ah ... those terrible WMDs ... Blessed, O Blessed Blair, thou that didst deliver us from them.

I increasingly feel that modern Wartalk is a conscious imitatio of the studied and crafted praxis of Herr Goebbels. 

The effect it's having on me is the opposite of what I fear is intended. 

If these noisy and domineering bullies shout their indoctrination at me hour after hour, perhaps, in fact, they are doing so because, er, they're not telling the truth? 

I am beginning to wonder.

Meanwhile, ghastly and unjust things are happening.