26 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" - Some personal reflections (2)

Another significant detail (I give my opinion here purely as an individual) is the adherence to the Correctio of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Society of S Pius X, and of another priest of that Society.

What cheers me is that the Society is boldly standing up for the Gospel, as, indeed, one would expect the sons of Marcel Lefebvre to do ... and is also taking part in the life of the mainstream Church. It was never the intention of Archbishop Lefebvre that the Society should be a ghetto, even a tolerated ghetto, within the Church. That is why the Society so long (and so ultimately successfully) insisted that every priest of the Latin Church (and not only clergy of tolerated groups) must be known to possess the unfettered right to use the Old Mass.

I do not wish to be unjust to anybody ... and so I apologise if I have missed anything ... but I have not noticed that the Fraternity of S Peter, or the Institute of Christ the King, have been very public in the controversies which have followed the publication of Amoris laetitia. I would yield to no-one in my belief in the primacy of the Liturgy; but liturgical battles are not the only conflicts in which our Holy Father has in effect summoned us to Fight a Good Fight. Of course, responsible superiors have to bear in mind the damage which may be done to their institutions if they fall under the disfavour of heterodox, or just plain nervous, local ordinaries. But, surely, by virtue of our baptism, we still have some  obligation to bear witness to the Gospel in the context of the Universal Church Militant.

Furthermore, the Correctio, based on the Magisterium of two millennia, is also willing to allude in its footnotes to the Magisterial teaching of Vatican II and of the later pontiffs, particularly the doughty Veritatis Splendor of S John Paul II (so disgracefully ignored in Amoris laetitia). The SSPX has been wary of the Magisterium of this period; understandably so. You do not need to remind me of the ambiguities in some documents; of the dangerous hares which were sent running in all sorts of directions. But for those of us in uncomplicated canonical relationships with the Holy See, such documents, in all their unevenness (including, in some cases, facile optimism and deliberately dishonest ambiguities), have been part of the currency in which we have had to do business. I again commend Aidan Nichols' fine and balanced The Council in Question, in which he admits the presence of an element which "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics". (We have just heard of the death of the admirable Brunero Gherardini, Canon Theologian of S Peter's in Rome, who wrote A much needed discussion, and whose Funeral was yesterday. C.A.P.D..)

I believe that acceptance of this situation ... that, perforce, we talk to each other in a theological dialect which has been influenced by Vatican II and the "Conciliar" popes ... is the substance of the doctrinal requirements which have been made of the SSPX.  Bishop Fellay's participation in doing Theology within this general, if imperfect, context seems to me a sufficient and potent indication that the Society should be given a proper, and protected, and canonical status without further nitpicking.

It is a part of the Catholic Church; it has witnessed with great courage for nearly half century to the Faith once and forever delivered to the Saints. The time has come for it to be seen as an insider, not an outsider, in the momentous debates now happening within the Church Militant; the time for it to be heard.

25 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" ... some personal reflections (1)

Readers, I hope, have read carefully the Filial Correction of the Roman Pontiff.

One point which, speaking only on my own behalf as an individual, I would like to make is this.

The Correctio represents a return to an era of robust and energetic debate between differing theological tendencies, or "schools", within the Church.

It is now very clear that we do indeed again have "schools" ... most conspicuously, a Bergoglianist Party ... in the Latin Church. Just as once we had the Franciscans pitted against the Dominicans ... Jesuits and Jansenists ....

The difference in our present situation is that one of these "schools" or parties - the Bergoglianist - is headed by the Roman Pontiff himself (or else by individuals who have worked themselves into the position of being able to manipulate the papal office). This is confusing; Christifideles are not accustomed to having to make the distinction between what the Pope does as the head of a party; and what he does by virtue of his Petrine Ministry. But we are left with no alternative except to work within this confusing situation. The pope is the boss, and this, clearly, is how he wants things.

Amoris laetitia was obviously not a binding Magisterial document. Papa Bergoglio himself made this near the beginning (Paragraph 3; this sentence, amusingly, appears to constitute one of the most lucid and clear propositional statements in the document!). I quote:
"Confirmare volumus non cunctas doctrinales, morales, vel pastorales disputationes per magisterii declarationes esse absolvendas."

My translation [and comments]: "We [notice the 'majestic', formal plural] wish to confirm [a formal, judicial term] that not all doctrinal, moral, or pastoral disputations [a term redolent of debates between different theological tendencies in the medieval Schools] must be resolved through declarations [a term with a long history in Magisterial documents] of the Magisterium." 

As Cardinal Mueller when Prefect of the CDF made clear, if the pope wished to set aside what his predecessors had formally set in place, he would need to do so with clarity, and to do it explicitly. Pope Francis not only did not do this; he made clear, in the sentence I have just presented, that he had no intention of doing so. 

Those portions of Amoris laetitia which have been demonstrated, at least prima facie, to contradict the Magisterium set in place by recent and earlier popes, are clearly nothing more than statements of the opinions held by (just) one party within the Church Militant here in Earth, the Bergoglianist Party. 

The Correctio filialis takes up the implied invitation by the Holy Father to enter into these disputationes about questions which, in the professed view of him and his party, are unresolved.

And the Correctio participates in this stimulating dialogue by making the counterclaim that particular questions which the Bergoglianist Party regards as still open have in fact already been resolved by the Church's irreformable Magisterium. 

Nothing complicated about all that, is there? 

Fr Michael Moreton

Today is his Year's Mind. May he rest in peace.

24 September 2017

Mary and heresies and the Reign of Sex

I wish all readers a wonderful solemn Day of our Lady of Walsingham. Today is the first time since the erection of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham that our titular Solemnity has come on a Sunday, thus replacing the Sunday Mass. She it is who  Ransomed three Ordinariates out of slavery in (what our other Patron, Blessed John Henry Newman, once called) the House of Bondage.

We are blessed with quite a number of feasts of our Lady at this time of the year. In the Breviary Common of our Lady, there is a phrase that sticks in my mind: one of the antiphons at Mattins credits the Theotokos with "destroying all heresies throughout the world".

This was, of course, particularly true in the period of the first Four Councils, when Arianism and Nestorianism were both put down by the assertion of her title as Mother of God.

But what is the great heresy of our own day? Surely, the Reign of Sex. Pius XI and Paul VI effectively foretold the preoccupations of the current world. Some people, simple souls, believed that pharmaceutical contraception would simply enable nice respectable married couples to ensure nice respectable two year gaps between the nice babies they would have ... nothing more than that.

How naive. How pathetic.

So we now have a culture in which ... but, since you can guess what I'm going to say, I don't need to spell it all out.

And we are told by the current occupant of the Roman bishopric that it is no longer polite to describe adulterous relationships in terms which the adulterers might find upsetting. And we are told by the secular State that, if we are not very careful in what we say, the Diversity Police will come knocking on our doors.

It's not that some new problem has arisen. Ever since the Fall, human sexuality has been assaulted by disorders. Somebody once wittily observed that Sexual Intercourse was invented in the 1960s. But did nobody ever feel and fall for a sexual temptation before then?

The only difference between this age and every preceding culture? Now, it is the Official Message of the ministers of the Zeitgeist that, in sexual matters, Fay ce que voudras admits no qualification (except as regards paedophiles).

Paul VI spoke about the Smoke of Satan entering the Church. Some traddies have tended to assume that liturgical disorder is what he had in mind. I wonder whether it might have been the complete collapse of the concept of boundaries within Sexuality.

Mary, Mother of God, Mary Ever-Virgin, Mater Purissima, stands as the great condemnation of the Reign of Sex, as she does of every other heresy.

Could there have been any better day on which to publish the Correctio Filialis?

23 September 2017

Breaking News

There are wild rumours on the Internet about News due to break tomorrow, Sunday. They are, as far as I know, all wrong. Far too wild. Far too dramatic. Far too much in the febrile spirit of the current pontificate. Calm down! ... No; it's not that, either !!

But, tomorrow, a piece of news will break: an action taken by a small group of small and very humble Christian people from many countries; some men, some women, some lay, some clerical.

It may not (to quote Churchill) be "the beginning of the end" of the disorders of this pontificate.

Its effect will depend on you and thousands like you. Depending on how you, with God's grace, take it forward, it might be looked back upon in the future as (Churchill again) "the end of the beginning".

It's up to you. And to our Lady of Fatima and Walsingham, who promised that her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

Pope Honorius I

Surprising, isn't it, how many people seem to be interested in the case of our late beloved Holy Father Pope Honorius I, just now ...

But I would like to be frank about something I don't understand.

Here it is: the claim of the subsequent Magisterium to have expelled Honorius I from the Church. I do not see how it is possible to do this to someone who is dead. Ecclesiastical authorities, as far as I am aware, only claim and have jurisdiction over or within the Church Militant (indulgences, for example, can only be applied to the Departed per modum suffragii). Or does the phrase mean something like deleting his name from the diptychs of the Dead ... a sort of ecclesiastical version of the secular damnatio memoriae? Can any Conciliar or Patristics expert explain?

I feel much happier with the way our Holy Father Pope Leo II wrote to the Spanish Bishops: " ... Honorio, qui flammam haeretici dogmatis non, ut decuit apostolicam dignitatem, incipientem extinxit, sed negligendo confovit".

I like two things in particular about this:
(1) it exemplifies Newman's highly important point that the job of the Roman Church is to be a remora, a barrier against innovation ... the duty of its bishop, because of his apostolic, Petrine, dignity, is to 'extinguish the fire of heretical doctrine as soon as it first begins'; and
(2) it makes clear that Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously.

Comments which try to get headway out of this distressing situation by advocating sedevacantist nonsense will, for reasons I have explained often enough in the past, not be enabled. Nor will mindless abuse of the current pope.

22 September 2017


More idleness on my part! Here is another old post, which has already appeared more than once! But I think it is more relevant than ever!! I have added one or two phrases. The earlier dates could be reconstructed from the thread.

PARRHESIA is a Greek noun [which, some time ago, was] used with great frequency by our Holy Father Pope Francis; it means speaking openly, boldly, fearlessly, standing like a free man rather than cowering like a slave, epecially in contexts where it might be apprehended that some powerful person could turn beastily nasty. A good, authoritative, example of its use, and a (fairly) authoritative gloss about its meaning, were provided when the Holy Father in 2014 told the Synod Fathers to speak with parrhesia, and his close friend "Archbishop" Fernandez [somebody should write a Gilbert-and-Sullivan chorus about this individual] was overheard interpreting this for the edification of common ordinary not-in-the-know not-one-of-us bishops as meaning "Mueller [then Cardinal Prefect of the CDF] won't come after us". Assuming that this concept is meant to apply symmetrically, clearly Fernandez also meant that he, Fernandez, and Pope Francis, wouldn't "come after" anybody, either. Good News for both Bishops and Bloggers worldwide. [It is a shame that those in various places who persecute, or urge others to intimidate, opponents of Pope Bergoglio's innovations, have not interiorised his calls for Parrhesia but still "come after" people they deem off-message.]

The term is quite common in the New Testament: S Mark 8:32; S John 7:4,13,26; 10:24; 11:14,54; 16:25,29; 18:20; Acts 2:29; 4:13,29,31; 28:31; etc. etc.. For the verb parrhesiazomai, mainly in Acts, see 9:27,28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26 ...

[Anybody got a Concordance for the Septuagint? The Vulgate rendering is often palam ... loqui. For a link to a good (Oz) talk about Parrhesia in the Classical period of Attic Greek, see a comment of my own on the old thread infra.]

[In Italian and Spanish, it is written without the h, and, sadly, the rather limited chappies who do the English versions of Vatican statements sometimes don't realise that the English, transliterated of course directly from the Greek, is parrhesia. Don't let them confuse or worry you. Not now, not ever.]

21 September 2017

Whose hands?

Here's a Medieval oddity which I don't think anybody has noticed.

In the Statuta Antiqua, when a bishop is consecrated, "two bishops place and hold a book of the Gospels over his neck, and as the Ordainer pours the Blessing over him, the bishops who are present touch his head with their hands".

Now to the Spanish, Mozarabic, rite for the ordination of a presbyter. "The presbyters lay hands on him, and he is blessed by the bishop as follows ...".

Spot it? Well, in neither of these very different sources does the rubric actually say that the Ordainer himself lays hands on the ordinand.

I know what you're going to say. The imposition of hands by the ordainer is taken-for-granted. The rubrician doesn't bother to specify the blindingly obvious. And you might very well be right. But I'm not totally sure.

In each of these cases, I am convinced that what we have is a collegial act. The new bishop is being incorporated into the world-wide (and, as E L Mascall would insist, time-wide) college of bishops. The new presbyter is being incorporated by the corporate, collegiate presbyterium, into the priesthood of the local church (and since the local church is the manifestation of the Church Universal, this simultaneously incorporates him into the whole priestly body of Christ's whole Church).

I am quite certain that those presbyters could not so incorporate a new member if they acted on their own without the presidency of their head, the bishop. An attempt to do so would be, in the still appropriate language of the old manuals, 'invalid'. But with him they truly can do what they could not do without him. Just like the coconsecrators in the episcopal rite, they truly confer the sacrament.

And I feel pretty sure that in the Mozarabic rite, it was thought appropriate for the form to be uttered by the Bishop, the matter supplied by his presbyterium. See I Timothy 4:14.

20 September 2017


There is a great deal to be joyful about; in fact, I feel on something of an emotional high. These are exhilarating times to be a "traditional" Latin Catholic! And not least of the sources of joy is the sense of panic in "Liberal" quarters: almost hysterical panic that, although in this pontificate they have their hands on all the central levers of power in the Church, they seem to be making so little headway in stifling the Gospel and the Tradition.

I say that so as to put some grumps into perspective.

Grump (1) I hope you have read, on LifeSiteNews, the account by Diane Montagna of what has just been done to the S John Paul Institute for the Family.

Diane is a remarkable young journalist; at the Vatican News Conference when the Graf von Schoenborn "presented" Amoris laetitia, she asked the one, real, important question. The Graf proceeded, with that ready smile which some odd people find so winsome, condescendingly to put her down by a misrepresentation of the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Her piece on LifeSiteNews is a deft and penetrating analysis of this latest attack on the Magisterium of S John Paul.

Grump (2) Fr Zed reveals the aggression perpetrated against the SSPX when they went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Blessed Lady at Knock; the use of security men to prevent the SSPX group from offering the Holy Sacrifice or saying the Rosary within the Shrine precincts.

The fact that the Society has been allowed to pray in Roman basilicas, and in the Concrete Submarine at Lourdes [see a lovely video of the pontifical High Mass celebrated there by His Excellency Bishop Fellay, which I access by googling Fr Ray Blake SSPX Lourdes], makes this illiberal act stand out like a sore etc.etc..

Questions are in order. (a) Was a pretext offered? Ex. Gr. "You haven't booked in and another group is booked in to use the same facilities at precisely the same moment." Even if there was a technical pretext, one doubts whether a group, say, of Orthodox or Anglicans would have had detachments of security men let loose on them.
(b) Was the diocesan bishop involved in this debacle?

When I was at Knock, I was pleasantly surprised by how very friendly the staff were in enabling me to say Mass (EF) at the Altar of the Vision. One brother priest to whom I said this remarked "I can only tell you that you were remarkably lucky". Could it be that the fact I was in company with Cardinal Pell influenced people?

Not a grump at all but just a question (3): NLM has an interesting primer on how to Enrich the Novus Ordo. Among much else, it suggests wiping thumbs, forefingers three times on the Corporal at the start of the Qui pridie. Three times is not what I was taught at England's most prestigious Seminary, Staggers (1967), in our Mass Practices, nor can I find it in O'Connell. Do I now need, in advanced old age, to triple the habit of a lifetime?

19 September 2017

Irreversibly Bye Bye to Vatican II

Fr Zed revealed a week or so ago that the Vatican publishing house had no plans to do a reprint of the Latin text of the post-Vatican II Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum. It is, apparently, out of print and unobtainable.

Unobtainable? But if I go into Blackwells in Oxford, they can rush off, within a fortnight, a one-off reprint of any out-of-print book. And it is very cheap. Yet the Libreria Editrice Vaticana didn't make any such offer to their enquirer. Just: "It's out of print. We have no plans."

Remarkable. Vatican II, in its liturgical decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, explicitly mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. 

Is that Conciliar liturgical prescription "irreversible"? You will have to submit a dubium to the current occupant of the Roman bishopric if you want a quick answer to that question. I thought I heard recently that he takes a rather strong view on the "irreversibility" of all the Vatican II and post-Vatican II liturgical stuff. I rather think he even described his own opinions on this subject as "Magisterial", whatever, in this context, that means. But his own Vatican publishers seem very relaxed about the whole business.

I can only draw two possible conclusions from this puzzling episode. Either
(1) hint hint, the clergy are no longer expected to recite the Divine Office; or
(2) hint hint, the clergy are expected to procure copies of the (very much still in print) 1962 , pre-Conciliar, Latin Breviary, and to use that.

Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. If those in Rome whose job it is to render physically possible the observance of what the Council explicitly ordered couldn't care less about it, obviously we lesser men (and all you lesser women too) can now just totally (irreversibly?) forget about it. What was it that Newman and Ratzinger each said about Councils?

I know how to take a hint, and how to take it irreversibly ...

18 September 2017

Lighten our darkness ...

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord: and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.

This prayer comes from Anglican Use Evensong, and had originally been the concluding prayer of the Sarum Compline. Here is the Sarum original:

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

In other words, Cranmer, as his custom was, expanded propitius to by thy great mercy and insidias  ['ambushes'] to perils and dangers. the ambushes of this whole night thus became all perils and dangers of this night. 

Just as Cranmer padded and expanded, lest his vernacular version of the prayer be finished before the worshippers had quite realised it had started, so, through the Middle Ages, this prayer had already grown in the Latin. Here is the version in the 'Gregorian Sacramentary', with those words crossed out which were subsequently added.

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

But what will really surprise you is the Heading a little way above it the 'Gregorian Sacramentary'.


Gracious! It was apparently a collect for the Dawn!! It did not ask for God to protect us through the darkness of this night; it asked God to push away (repelle) the dangerous darkness of night. Look back at the Latin text!

[It may be that I am wrong. Another prayer in this section does look like a late evening prayer, so perhaps the Heading is erroneous. Illumina is certainly an evening prayer in the 'Gelasian Sacramentary'. But this exercise may serve to remind us how things are not always what they seem!]

When I am Cardinal Prefect of the CDW, I shall permit all who have Anglican Previous to use this prayer instead of Visita nos; which seems to be just a trifle odd when not used in a Religious House.

17 September 2017

Sister Teresa Forcades UPDATE

UPDATE: A rather odd correspondent has accused me of accusing the Sister of expurgating the text of Scripture. I think it should be clear to any reader that this is the opposite of what, in the following, I am implying she may have guiltily done. My view is that she appears to me to be guilty of making the swaggering, macho claim that she expurgates Scripture ... when (since it has already been expurgated in the Novus Ordo) she doesn't!

Context: I would never pay money for The Tablet but in a weak moment I signed up for their you-can-read-online-six-articles-a-month-free offer. I now wish to comment on an article I read: but I can't revisit it to check the facts, having used up my allocation. I rely upon readers to tell me if through poor memory I am doing someone an injustice, so that I can amend or withdraw this post.

Recently I read in the Tablet a piece about a Catalan nun called, I think, Teresa Forcades. In the course of this article, she was reported as saying that, when reading in Church the First Letter of Timothy, she always left out Chapter 2 verse 12 (in which S Paul does not allow women to teach in Church).

What puzzled me here was the fact that, in the Novus Ordo, that verse is not included in the Lectionary ... in other words, the post-Conciliar revisers had already expurgated it from the text, thereby wilfully and wickedly depriving Sister of the fun of expurgating it herself.

How can I be sure of this? Because I checked it up in Matthew P Hazell's Index Lectionum, which enables you to check such things in an instant. If you haven't got this admirable book already, I recommend it highly. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3. It reveals the locations of so very many interred corpses.

But perhaps this verse was included in a pericope from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours? I checked the index at the end of each of the four volumes: no luck.

I think ... frabjous day! ... I may just have discovered a New Argument against the Novus Ordo ... videlicet:

It deprives radical nuns and progressive layfolk of the simple daily joy of chopping out of Holy Scripture the bits with which they disagree!!

Spoil Sport!

As for Sister ... does she, perhaps, very occasionally, allow her imagination to run away with her?

16 September 2017

The Eucharistic Fast

Some time ago, as I was talking to one of the Russian Orthodox clergy here in Oxford, I was interested to hear that the Orthodox, when, during Lent, they receive Holy Communion at an evening Liturgy of the Presanctified, are only nowadays expected to fast from midday (I hope I've got that right). It brought home to me that it is not only the West which, since the time of Pius XII, has felt that a discipline of fasting (which was apparently manageable to a European peasantry that toiled all day beneath the sun at their subsistence agriculture) is too much for our own soft culture.

But enough of grumps. I want to advance the notion that a Hermeneutic of Continuity might incline us to reconsider our practice of the Eucharistic Fast; which Pius XII first reduced to three hours and then Blessed Paul VI reduced to one hour. And that is one hour before the time of Communion, not one hour before the beginning of Mass. And recent legislation has permitted binating clergy on Sundays to snack between Masses even if that cuts into the one hour. To all intents and purposes, the Fast has been abolished.

When I retired to Devon at the age of sixty, I found myself not infrequently saying three Masses on Sunday morning (trinating! I took it that unreprobated custom and pastoral necessity justified this rather iffy practice). I continued my habit of fasting until after the third Mass ... which meant until about 12.30. And I am one whom gluttony has rendered self-indulgent and unfit. I'm not boasting when I say that I never had any problem with it. And, in conversation once with the Syrian Orthodox who came to celebrate their Liturgy in S Thomas's, I discovered that they fasted from supper-time the evening beforehand: as, of course, did their priest: who had just driven from Croydon to celebrate a Liturgy that lasted from 12.00 until after 2.00. It can be done.

I'm not going to rant about the effective reduction of the Eucharistic Fast from a rigid rule to an option, however horrified our Tractarian Fathers would have been by this. I would never write anything to make others feel guilty or to discourage others from going to Mass and receiving the Lord's Body and Blood. But I wonder if we ought to be doing more to move towards a more Traditional and Patristic habit in this matter.

My own practice is: when I am de facto observing the old convention that Mass be celebrated between Dawn and Midday, I observe the old (Western) rule of fasting from the previous midnight. When I am being modern and saying Mass after Midday, I keep B Paul VI's modern rule of a one-hour fast. Is this really so desperately impossible or absurdly illogical?

For what it's worth, Pius XII did urge all those capable of doing so to observe the old rule. And I have heard rumours that, before legislating, he sought confirmation that it was within his power so to legislate. Among Anglo-Catholics, who had spent decades arguing for the Apostolic importance of the Eucharistic Fast, there was consternation. I have been told that the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament asked my erudite predecessor, Dr Trevor Jalland, to explain what was going on.

15 September 2017

CDF: throw the archives open

In his illuminating Cuddesdon paper, Fr Aidan Nichols reminded us that, according to reports, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then directed by the admirable Gerhard Mueller) submitted copious corrections to the draft of Amoris laetitia ... all, or most, of which were ignored.

Let me remind you why this matters. As Fr Aidan said, we would find it preferable to be able to believe that the errors and (at least prima facie) heresies in AL were a matter of negligent language on the part of Papa Bergoglio, rather than the result of a positive intention to teach what he knew to be error. We can only judge which of those two verdicts needs to be passed on our Holy Father (and, obviously, the latter is a graver matter than the former) if we can collate the corrections offered to him by the Congregation with the successive drafts of AL and its final text.

I know we can hardly expect, in this pontificate, so open and frank an action as the publication of the CDF's comments. That, in a sense, is the problem about this troubled period in the history of the Church Militant. The current occupant of the Roman See talks without ceasing when it would become him to be silent; and keeps his mouth zippered when it is his duty to open it and to defend the Fides tradita and to confirm his brethren. Where there should be secrecy there is openness; where we need openness, there is secrecy.

Incidentally, may I appeal for help? There are reports in a the German digital newspaper, Mannheimer Morgan, that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has made some rather important points. I would be interested to see the text (or an English crib, if possible) of the Cardinal's actual words. Can anybody supply me with a link? This is how the report sums up the part I am mainly interest in: "To rely solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in theological questions? A frightening idea for [Mueller]. Mueller makes reference here to the example of S Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621); he pointed out to Clement VIII (1536-1605) in clear words his lack of theological competence".

(To be clear: I do not want another link to the newspaper report but to his Eminence's actual words which are here merely summarised.)

I suspect that Mueller may have made an important contribution to the problem of how we handle a doctrinally disfunctional pontificate.

14 September 2017

We need a Novena ...

Tomorrow, September 15, Feast of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, is a good day to start a Novena leading up to the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham, on Sunday 24 September (in the English Ordinariate, of course, the feast of our Lady will this year supersede the Sunday Mass and Office).

Nine days of prayer, that the intercession of the Mother of God might bring succour to the Ecclesia adflicta of her divine Son. Has the Church, in your lifetime, ever needed this more than it does today?

Mgr Armitage, current Administrator at the Catholic Shrine (known to Anglicans as The Barn), has put out texts for the Novena, and the Ordinariate Secretariate has passed these on to us.

I am not willingly negative; indeed, I would not deny the propriety of a rich diversity of approaches to Marian devotion. I don't regard it as my job to criticise others and to disparage their own initiatives and to snarl at anybody who does things differently from the exact way I would do them. But I do have a couple of reservations about the texts issued.

(1) This is technical: the translation given of the Angelus is the English Roman Catholic text. I would advocate, in the Ordinariate, the traditional Anglican translation, especially the use, at the end, of the Anglican (Cranmerian and Prayer Book) translation of the ancient Collect.
(2) My next reservation is more substantial: a form of Litany of our Lady is offered, clearly designed to be be more 'modern' than the traditional Litany ("of Loretto"). You know what I mean: instead of (ex.gr.) "Turris Davidica", one might invoke "Woman of Faith"; instead of "Ora pro nobis", one might pray "Keep us in mind".

I mention this not for the rather cheap motive of inviting you to groan at the inept 'modernity' of such things, but because what we are losing here is in fact something extremely important: the typological character of the old Litany. The titles of our Lady in that Litany include many of the  typological titles which Christian devotion, since at least the time of the Council of Ephesus, has discovered in the Old Testament as pointers to the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

Typology is discerning in the Old Testament the Figure of Christ and his Mother and the events of their lives, so that the Old Testament passage is the Type and the New Testament Figure or event is the Antitype. Typology is the central way in which the Great Tradition of both East and West has appropriated the Old Testament. It goes back to the New Testament texts themselves: Christ as the New Adam ... and see I Corinthians 10:1-11 ... and look at I Peter 3:20-21 ... etc.etc.. Typology is part of the fundamental Grammar of the Faith; something even deeper than dogma.

Today ... the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ... liturgical texts reminded us that the Lifting up of the Son of Man on the Cross is the Antitype of which the Lifting up of the serpent in the desert was the Type (Numbers 21:4-9; S John 3:13-17; S John 12:32).

I know that most laity have not been taught about Typology; because the Clergy weren't taught it either; because there were so much more important things for them to be taught in seminary (the Synoptic Problem... the inauthenticity of most of S Paul's letters ...)*. But seeing the Lorettan Litany displaced by a modernist 'relevant' formula devoid of Typology brought home to me again the radical impoverishment of current Catholic culture.

The Catholic Church needs a John Mason Neale redivivus. Come to think of it, perhaps that is precisely what God has raised up the Ordinariates for.

*None of my strictures apply to the admirable Fr John Hemer, of Allen Hall, who understands perfectly about Typology!

13 September 2017

Carnival time?

It was rumoured that, immediately after his election to the Roman Bishopric, Jorge Bergoglio said to his Caeremoniarius, who had offered him the garment indicating his new status as Servus servorum Dei, "The Carnival is over, Monsignor; wear it yourself". This was subsequently denied ... conclusively, I was very relieved and happy to assume. Back in those days, we had fewer data to go on with regard to how very nasty this man can be.

But now Monsignor Basil Loftus (in the article from which I have derived so much recent enlightenment) has, with that deft and subtle sophistication which is his hallmark, alluded to this story. And the Monsignor is a pretty extreme Bergoglianist, not to say a hyperultraueberpapalist.

So is the story, after all, true? Or is the Monsignor being even more Bergoglian than Bergoglio, and hinting that he would have liked the anecdote to be true?

Sometimes, of course, ben trovato fabrications are indeed truer than Clio, a distinctly unpermissive lady, would in her rather pedantically preserved virginity prefer to concede. I once had an academic colleague of whom it was said among our fellows that he had been Head Boy of ******* [a very minor English Public School]. This was not factually true but it was ... er ... truly true.

It told you more about him than any mere facts could convey.

I think we will leave Fr Basil at this point. Indeed, I do in fact agree with one argument he proposes: to the effect that the Episcopal Conferences in the Three Kingdoms should be open about what goes on in their meetings, just as the USA Conference is. And, when all is said and done, he is a brother priest whose ministry I pray will be ever fruitful, just as I hope and pray to be clear-sighted about the many shortcomings of my own.

12 September 2017

Mon Signore Loftus (3)

The overlaps in content (but certainly not style) between the rectangle of ranting bad temper by the pretentiously-titled "Monsignor Loftus", which I have begun to share with you, and the elegant paper delivered recently to an ecumenical audience by Fr Aidan Nichols, are quite considerable. And all the more diverting since they come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum.

The Catholic Herald account of Fr Aidan's address quotes him as saying that "bishops' conferences ha[ve] been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they [a]re divided among themselves". The Monsignore is much more prolix. "And in many, many* more countries, our own included, whole episcopates are sitting on the fence ..." ... I honestly don't feel up to copying out the two columns which follow, excellent though my recollection of them is. I do, you know, type my posts with just the one finger.

All you need to know is that the Monsignore does not like Episcopal Conferences, least of all his own. He does not like "young" bishops, who are "often over-moralising, over-dogmatising, and over-sure". And, above all, he dislikes young priests, who are "youngsters", "aggressive", "narcissistic", "Tridentinising". "Unless some opposition to all this backward-looking ecclesiology is forthcoming ... mumble mumble mumble ... growing and clergy-led retreat ... mumble mumble mumble ...  introspective sacristy-sect"....

Historians will be diverted to realise that, while B Paul VI unwisely tried to rid the Church of the curse of gerontocracy by curbing the electoral powers of elderly Cardinals, the Monsignore apparently sees the salvation of the Church as lying entirely in the hands of the elderly. In their richly varied shades of grey, they should flock to Episcopal Conferences and deanery meetings and never stop putting their successors right about everything.

We wrinklies are enormously good at that sort of activity, and generous, to boot. "When I was ABC, what I used to do was DEF ..." "I always found it good practice to GHI...". "I think you will find, as I did, that JKL ...". Our anecdotes (rarely flawed by concise over-abbreviation) never end in our own discomfiture, but always in the confusion of the partes adversae. And it is amazing what excellent wind we still have, even though the advance of the years means that our flecks of spittle are broadcast with perhaps just a tadge less discipline than in the days of our prime.

It's called "being boring".

*I wonder if the periodical which houses the Monsignore's wisdom pays him by the word? This would help to account for his repetitions and fillers. How much in pounds sterling is an extra "many" worth?

11 September 2017

"Monsigor" 'Loftus Part 2; together with Fr Aidan Nichols

Readers will recall the rather explosive (but very necessary) lecture given recently by the doyen of English Catholic academics, the learned Dominican Fr Aidan Nichols. Parts of it were printed in the Catholic Herald; I do urge readers who are not familiar with it to track that news item down on the Internet (sadly, it appears that the piece will not be made available more widely or in full).

Fr Aidan wrote: "[The Pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, very often 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."

Rather divertingly, the (?pseudonymous) '"Mgr" Basil Loftus', about whom I wrote yesterday, says exactly the same, from a diametrically opposed theological standpoint. "Slowly but surely national hierarchies are being transformed by Francis' inspired appointments, just as within the Roman Curia there is a similar shift."

Goodness me. Can it really be quite so obvious that episcopal and curial appointments, under this regime, are made, not on the basis of pastoral, personal or doctrinal excellence, but on the dear old Third World principle of cronyism? Is this what the Pope from the Peripheries has brought us?

10 September 2017

Musings from the Little House of Easement Down the Garden; or 'Mgr Loftus' part 1

American friends may be unaware that, in a Third World country like ours, one of our customs is this. Where, as in many areas, particularly of Surrey and Kensington, there is no running water and no 'sewerage system', a little hut at the bottom of the garden is provided as an answer to the Calls, so many, so manifold, and so peremptory, of Nature. 'Night Earth' deposited there is covered daily by a thin covering of soil. Since in many parts of England 'toilet paper' (what is the American term for this?) is unavailable or is too expensive for all but the wealthiest Russian oligarchs, the custom is for the daily newspapers to be cut neatly into smaller rectangles of appropriate size and to be left in a pile to be applied to the person, with as much diligence as may be judged necessary. Such rectangles can, of course, before use, easily afford supplementary reading matter.

That is how I came to find myself looking at a rectangle of newsprint which, I inferrred, had been cut from a journal of Catholic origin. It was an 'opinion piece' by a cleric called ... of course, this is probably a nom de plume ... Mgr Basil Loftus.

'Loftus' is clearly a Bergoglianist, because I read there, in the twilight of the Little House, that "Pope Francis has resolved the culture of ecclesial poverty, the renunciation of carnival custume and pretentious titles, and ...".

At that point I hesitated, and referred just half an inch to the left, to the as-yet unutilised earlier part of the article ... where the author is described as Mgr Basil Loftus.

I scratched my head. Mgr? Surely, that is an Italian abbreviation for Mon Signore? And, surely, that, in English, is My Lord? Is 'Loftus' a barone or a conte? Perhaps even a marchese? In my simple Anglican Patrimony ignorance, I (subsequently) asked a friend ... one of those Cradle Catholics from whom we poor converts have been urged by Mr Ivereigh and his friends to take our religion as from a purer fount ... what Monsignore meant. "Ah", he said, nodding his wise old Cradle Catholic head. "It means that 'Loftus' is a Domestic Chaplain to the Supreme Pontiff".

You can imagine how stunned I was. 'Loftus' is clearly very old; to think of him popping off to Rome every few days to perform the important if menial tasks of laying out the Holy Father's baroque maniples and lacy albs and satin ferraiolas and whatnot indicates a very personal devotion to the Great Man. "Er", said my mentor, "No, 'Loftus' pretty certainly never gets anywhere near the Vatican. If he did, the pope would probably strangle him with one of his maniples. Monsignore and Domestic Chaplain are just  ... well, let's say, just rather pretentious titles ..."

Oh dear. Now I am terribly puzzled. How difficult it is to be a poor ignorant convert.

Do you think 'Loftus' would take me on and give me some private coaching?

To be continued.

9 September 2017

I have now resumed ...

... the reception of messages from the outside world, after my latest fortnight Away From It All. Incidentally, I commend the practice as a useful Aid to Sanity.

I have now enabled Comments on this blog which arrived during the last fortnight, except for one or two which I deemed abusive towards Papa Bergoglio. I say again: whether you like it, whether I like it or not, he is Pope. And that's it.

I have also tried to deal as best I can with the hundreds of emails. If you felt that my reply to you was briefer than you expected, that is why! I do apologise.

And I also apologise if a message of yours somehow went missing.

The Magisterium: your rights and mine

I wish to re-emphasise what I published, on 4 September 2016, in the following piece.

Canon 212 (paragraph 3) informs us that Christifideles (i.e., vide Canonem 207, both clerics and laics) have the ius immo et aliquando officium conformably with their scientia, competentia, et praestantia, "ut sententiam suam de his quae ad  bonum Ecclesiae pertinent sacris Pastoribus manifestent" [Anglice "the right, and, indeed, sometimes the duty, according to their knowledge, competence, and dignity, to manifest to Sacred Shepherds their judgement about those things which pertain to the good of the Church"]. The text goes on to add that they also have this right and (even) duty to make their judgement known to the rest of the Christifideles.

Not long ago [before September 2016] , as is well known, a group of 45 scholars, teachers, and pastors, wrote a Letter. (I emphasise that these people came from a wide variety of countries throughout the world: I emphasise this because I do not want what I am about to say to be narrowly construed as a criticism of any members of the English Church.) The Letter was addressed to each member of the Sacred College of Cardinals respectfully asking them to beg the Holy Father graciously to consider the clarification of certain parts of Amoris laetitia which have proved to be dangerously ambiguous. Cardinals, I think, count as Sacred Shepherds. This was a private letter (although its contents have unfortunately become public). Even if it had been a public letter, I do not see how it could have failed to enjoy the protection of Canon 212.

Dr Javier Hervada, sometime Professor of Canon Law at Navarra, comments on Canon 212: "The right of free speech and public opinion within the Church is acknowledged. Science, skill, and prestige are required to exercise the right justly or to give the corresponding moral obligation greater or less force. The basis of this right does not reside in these prerequisites but in the condition of being one of the faithful".

In the fourth [fifth] year of this current pontificate, it is appropriate also to mention the insistently repeated calls of the Holy Father Pope Francis himself for Parrhesia [bold and free speaking] in the Church.

With regard to the paragraph which now follows below, I would like to make it very clear that I am not talking about myself or in any way describing or alluding to my own situation or any experience I have had.

Intimidation and cruel pressures have, it appears, been applied to persuade some of the signatories to the Letter to rescind their signatures. 

Perhaps this may remind English readers of the occasion when, a couple of years ago, some 450 English clerics wrote an open letter with regard to the agenda of the Synod of Bishops, and it was reported in the public papers that intimidation had been applied to dissuade priests from signing. How those guilty of such worldly intimidation can think that their behaviour helps any cause in which they sincerely and Christianly believe, I simply do not even begin to understand. It all seems to me so much more like the actions of playground bullies than any conduct which could be appropriate between those whom the Lord called His Friends (philous; John 15:15).

I have not always agreed with everything this Holy Father has said and done. But I very much doubt whether he is complicit in this. There is such a pettiness about it.

I shall not entertain any comments or queries on this distressing subject, now or at any later time.

Footnote: Canon 212 also talks convincingly and appropriately about the obedientia necessary when Shepherds, as fidei magistri, make doctrinal declarations, or, as rulers of the Church, legislate (statuunt). In view of the opening paragraphs of Amoris laetitia, I do not get the impression that the Sovereign Pontiff is, in this Exhortation, claiming either to define dogma or to legislate.

8 September 2017

S Bernard says it all

An unofficial translation of the Second Reading at the Office of Readings for Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12.

From the Homilies in praise of the Virgin Mother of S Bernard the Abbot.

'And', the Gospel writer says, 'The Virgin's name was Mary'. Let us say a few things about this Name also, which is said to mean Star of the Sea, and very suitably fits the Virgin Mother. For she is very suitably compared to a star since, just as without any loss to itself a star sends out its ray, so without suffering any loss to her virginity the Virgin bears a Son. Nor does the ray lessen the brightness of the star; and neither does thre Son lessen the integrity of his Virgin Mother. So she is that noble Star risen from Jacob, whose ray pours light upon the whole world, whose splendour shines before all other things in the heavens above and penetrates to the lowest places below, shining also throughout all lands and warming minds rather than bodies; fosters virtues; burns away vices. She, I say, is the distinguished and special star raised above this great and broad sea, shining with her merits, shedding light by her examples.

Whoever you are who understand that in the floods of this age you are walking among squalls and storms rather than on land, do do not turn your eyes from the brightness of this star, if you do not wish to be overwhelmed by the squalls. If gales of temptations arise, if you run aground on rocks of tribulations, look upon this star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed around by waves of pride, or ambition, or depression, or envy, look upon the star, call upon Mary. If anger or greed or the lure of the flesh strike the poor little ship of your mind, look upon Mary. If you are thrown into confusion by a great mass of sins, or bewildered by a sense of disgust in your conscience, or terrified by a horror of judgement, and you begin to be sucked down by a whirlpool of grief or an abyss of desperation, think upon Mary.

In dangers, in tight corners, in dubious matters, think upon Mary, call upon Mary. Let her not leave your lips, let her not leave your heart, and, so that you may win the help of her prayer, do not abandon the example of her way of life. As long as you follow her, you have not strayed from the path; as long as you call upon her, you are not without hope; as long as you think upon her, you are not lost; if she holds you fast you do not fall to the ground; as she protects you, you are without fear; with her as your guide, you are not wearied; with her favour, you reach your destination and thus experience within yourself how fittingly it was said: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary'.


R My teaching is sweet beyond honey and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.* And the Virgin's name is Mary. V My memorial is unto generations of ages. * And the Virgin's name is Mary.

This reintroduces into the Divine Office the pre-Conciliar reading for this day.

7 September 2017

"Hippolytus"; or "The Second Eucharistic Prayer"

How able, how cunning, the Enemy is in his plots to bring Evil out of Good.  I will illustrate this by considering his use of a Eucharistic Prayer still sometimes linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus.

My distinguished predecessor at S Thomas's, Dr Trevor Jalland, wrote 'The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus' invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.'

One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase 'we offer unto thee this bread and this cup'. This seemed to provide an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 the English Liturgical Commission recommended a rite ('Series II') which contained this phrase; justified on the ground that 'It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity'.

At about the same time the pot-Conciliar revisers of the Roman Rite incorporated a mangled version of 'Hippolytus' Eucharistic Prayer' as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. The version which those revisers adopted had been confected by Dom Bernard Botte and Fr Louis Bouyer in between caraffes of wine in one of Rome's seedier areas tras Tevere. 

By 1989, however, Bouyer, at least, had given up the idea that 'Hippolytus' really was by Hippolytus, or even had any connection with the Roman Church. This doubt has now become the academic orthodoxy. (If necessary, one murmurs here the name of Professor Paul Bradshaw.)

Unfortunately, 'Hippolytus' failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. The Enemy saw to that.

But the version put out by the Roman revisers did, by the Enemy's able machinations, succeed in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and 'Hippolytus' for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made dear old Fr O'Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made his trendier nephew Fr O'Murphy II select 'Hippolytus' with unholy regularity in the New Mass.

So, in the one body, 'Hipplolytus' failed to achieve the hoped-for good of restoring the Eucharistic Oblation; and in the other body it did massive positive harm by edging out of use the Eucharistic Prayer which did express the full doctrine of that Sacrifice.

 Satan's Smoke! Killing two birds with one stone!

6 September 2017

Country walks

Worminghall (Tolkien??) Church is not without its interest. It shows very early evidence of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. The East window dates from 1847, and shows Sanctus Petrus, Salvator Mundi, and Sanctus Paulus, with angels holding instruments of the Passion in the tracery. And a 1862 window had its inscription in Latin with the phrase Requiescat in pace.

But most diverting was a brass memorial to one Philip Kinge who died in 1592. From an early age he was brought up in the house of his uncle Robert Kinge, Abbot of Thame and Oseney, a creature of Cromwell, first Bishop of the See of Oxford when the Cathedra was in the suppressed and magnificent former Abbey of Oseney before Henry Tudor decided to suppress it again qua Cathedral and replace it with the rather humbler chapel of Cardinal College in Oxford. Philip was also educated, after his uncle's death, by Lord Williams of Thame (splendidly buried in Thame church). This Lord Williams, one of those who did well out of the Tudor regime, presided at the the burning of Latymer and Ridley in Oxford during the reign of Good Queen Mary; on which occasion he rather crudely made fun of Latymer's dying commendation of his soul to God. I have very little doubt that, if he had not died at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, he would as cheerfully have disposed on Government orders of the seminary priests.

Philip's son John became Bishop of London and a descendant called Henry, Bishop of Chichester.

Such are the continuities of the Church of England ...

5 September 2017

Dog daie en

While browsing through the differences - this is the sort of way we liturgists spend our time - between the Calendar in the Second Prayer Book of Edward Tudor and that in the First, I noticed that the Second restored a number of Calendrical data which used to occur in Medieval Catholic liturgical Calendars but had disappeared from the 1549 Book. For example, against August 15 the 1552 Book gives, rather suggestively, Sol in virgo. And, on September 5 (yes, I remember that the difference between Julian and Gregorian Calendars will complicate matters) 1552 offers the observation that the 'Dog Daie en' [= Dog Days End].

This reminded me, as I know it will have reminded you, of the bit in Hesiod - it must be somewhere in the Erga kai Hemerai - where the funny old boy claims that at this time of the year, when the Dogstar parches head and knees and dries the skin, "women are most lustful, and men are most feeble [makhlotatai ... aphaurotatoi]". I wonder if heterosexual readers with a scientific bent have ever tested by a controlled experiment the veracity of this archaic generalisation.

But hang on: perhaps I could myself make an evidential contribution. When, six decades ago, at the age of eighteen, I was in Athens during the Dog Days, I was propositioned by an American girl who was spending Daddy's money in the Hotel Grande Bretagne as if there were no tomorrow [if she's reading this now: Hi!]. When I expressed my deep sense of the honour done to me but begged with great respect to decline the favour, she concluded the episode by saying "Gee [am I right in assuming that in American English this is a reverential periphrasis for "God"?], you sure are cute".

I've often wondered about the meaning of that word 'cute'. Is it by predelision from 'acute'? Perhaps American readers can help.

In the County Kerry, the blessed Kingdom of the West, in aeternum floreat, I was once referred to as a cute hoor. What on earth does this mean?

4 September 2017

How to introduce the Vetus Ordo to a country church overnight

"For weeks before my induction I had been in the parish seeing people in their homes and in the fields ... endeavouring to prepare the minds of all who would listen for the changes I contemplated making in the services.

"All had been made ready for the solemn offering of the Mass. Nicholas Peters had learnt to swing the censer, Peter Curnow ... to make the responses, when on that first Sunday after my induction the people of St Hilary flocked to the church and found, in the place of a clergyman reading Dearly beloved, a strange figure in vestments at the altar with a little boy who knelt at his side. Many were watching for the first time the drama of the Mass. They were there as spectators who watch a play with a symbolism and language unknown to them. Man cries for redemption, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. God answers man's despairing cry in the opening words of the Gloria in excelsis, proclaiming the advent of the promised Saviour, but still they do not understand.

"'Whatever is he doing up there now?' they say. 'Can 'e make it out at all?' The summit of the drama is reached when, the whole company of heaven having been summoned to man's aid, the words of consecration are spoken and the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus who offered Himself on the Cross at Calvary. They are aware of the silence, broken by the ringing of a bell. 'Did 'e hear the bell? What is that for, my dear' they whisper. The bell rings again at the Domine non sum dignus. There are a few who kneel in wonder at what is being accomplished; it is for them a moment of prayer such as they have never experienced before. But for many who crowd the church the great drama of the Mass remains without meaning."

I know what readers are thinking ... "That's not very brick-by-brick".

3 September 2017

Impious Cranmer

Pius is an interesting word. It notoriously describes in Vergil's Aeneid the hero Aeneas, who is pius because he fulfils his duties to Country, Family, and Gods. So we think of it as a word that refers to humans and their duties. (Neatly and unsurprisingly, the renaissance pope, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, 'nomen sibi assumpsit Pii II'; a very renaissance way of alluding to his secular name. There hadn't been a Pius since 155; Piccolomini's action is almost as arrogant as calling oneself Linus II or Cletus II).

Three ancient Collects spring to my mind. Epiphany V (= 5 per annum) asks God to keep his family continua pietate; and Trinity XXII (= Pentecost 21) starts with exactly the same phrase. In the former case, Cranmer translated 'keep thy household continually in thy true religion'; in the latter case,'keep thy household in continual godliness'. In other words, he took pietas to mean the same quality, roughly, which Aeneas had; human dutifulness; our duty to (among other things) God. But I suspect he was wrong. I suspect it refers to God's benevolence to humankind. Our Covenant God is faithful ... we dare to say dutiful ... to his Covenant. So in this collect God is being asked to keep his household the Church with his continual love.

That, of course, fits in with the use of pius in Verdi's Requiem. We ask that God will grant light perpetual with his saints for evermore, because his merciful love ceases not through all eternity. And do you know the final eulogia of the Byzantine liturgy, in which the priest, by the prayers of the Theotokos and all the saints, invokes the mercy of Christ upon the people, hos agathos kai philanthropos kai eleemon Theos: 'since he is a good and humanloving and merciful God'. Philanthropos surely means the same as pius in our Latin liturgy; it speaks of the endless and unconditional mercy of God and, coming in the final phrase of the liturgical text just as pius does in the Requiem, leaves in our ears and minds a sweet and haunting yet theologically profound memory.

For the old English and Northern European use, represented by the Ordinariate Missal, Pietas also occurs today, in the Latin original of the collect for Trinity XII, (= Pentecost 11 = per annum 27). 'Almighty and everlasting God, who in the abundance of thy pietas exceedest what either we desire or deserve'. Cranmer, wrongly taking pietas to mean solely human religion, our response to God, naturally felt that it was outrageous to praise God for having a lot of religiosity, as if the Almighty can be praised for saying his Rosary regularly. So he cut out the phrase and replaced it with another which is both a lovely piece of English and an edifying thought, but has little to do with the Latin.

And in Trinity XXIII (=Pentecost 22) God is described as 'auctor ipse pietatis' ('himself the author of pietas') and asked to 'be ready to hear'( Cranmer neatly gets the feel of adesto) the piis prayers of his Church. Cranmer fails to pick up the parallelism of the Latin, which is that our prayers are dutiful (in the Vergilian sense) only because God himself has taken the initiative in setting within our hearts both that sense of duty and the grace to respond in duty to him. A shame he missed it: the Latin fits so perfectly his own Protestant emphases on the Divine initiative.

2 September 2017

Has a pope ever visited Oxford?

Blessed John Henry Newman records in Loss and Gain a rumour that circulated in the febrile atmosphere of mid-forties Oxford:
"Have you heard the news?" said Sheffield; " I have been long enough in college to pick it up. The Kitchen man was full of it as I passed along. Jack's a particular friend of mine; a good honest fellow, and has all the gossip of the place. I don't know what it means, but Oxford has just now a very bad inside. The report is, that some of the men have turned Romans; and they say that there are strangers going about Oxford whom nobody knows anything of. Jack, who is a bit of a divine himself, says he heard the Principal say that, for certain, there were Jesuits at the bottom of it; and I don't know what he means, but he declares he saw with his own eyes the Pope walking down the High Street with the priest. I asked him how he knew it; he said he knew the Pope by his slouching hat and his long beard; and the porter told him it was the Pope ..."
Happy days, when Jesuits were sinister figures of subtle intrigue and stout defenders of Catholic orthodoxy.

1 September 2017

A Couple of Good Collects

The 'historicising' post-Conciliar Revisers reached September 1. Here they found S Giles; he had no proper collect and so he was observed with the Common collect: 'O Lord, may the intercession of blessed Giles thine abbot commend us: that, what we cannot by our own merits, we may attain by his patronage'. Observing that his Vita is fabulosa, they left him 'for particular calendars'. The same day a commemoration had to be made of the Twelve Brethren Martyrs. The Revisers, noting that the Acta of these martyrs were - again - fabulosa and that in any case the twelve were not brothers and that they died in different places, exultantly cried 'deletur!', and so deprived us of the lovely prayer (lovely in the Latin: this is again a merely schoolmasterly translation) 'O Lord, may the brotherly crown of thy martyrs bring us joy: and may it grant us increases in the virtues of our faith and console us with their multiple suffrage'.

So a day which for so long had enabled Christians to express both their diachronic fellowship with the saints of long ago (but who are still our joyful friends in Christ) and their synchronic identity with those in the lands where these saints bore witness, was emptied into feriality ... if you see what I mean.

Legally, however, users of the modern Roman Rite may, on such a 'free' feria, say Mass of any saint ascribed to that day in the martyrology. So Giles or the Twelve could have been observed; but not both together, and not with their ancient collects.

31 August 2017

Waddesdon and Publius Ovidius Naso

Readers who are still wondering how to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the death of Publius Ovidius Naso could do worse than to visit Waddesdon; a 'French chateau' built by Ferdinand de Rothschild to house his immense collection of Bourbon French goodies. And, surely, Ovid, with his love of the intricate joke, his frivolity, his sensuality, was the presiding numen of the arts and crafts of Bourbon France.

So what fun Waddesdon is; as good as the Wallace Collection or the Burrell (my favourite venue in my favourite Scottish city). Better than those, if you include the fountains, reconstructed after being bought from the duke of Parma [was it the Duke of Parma who congratulated Archbishop Lefebvre after the Econe Consecrations?]. What superb taste Baron Ferdinand had. The Spirit of Ovid lives; long live the Spirit of Ovid.

I feel more at home there than among the heavy splendours of nearby Blenheim, a monument to the career Johnny Churchill secured by his treachery to James II, and now cluttered up with memorabilia of some Brit politician who allied himself with Uncle Joe Stalin during some war we fought in the last century. If I have to choose between Jewish bankers and the traitorous clique that kept the Head of the House of Stuart off the throne, then give me the Jewish bankers any day of the week.

The only feature of a genuine French chateau of the seventeenth century which is missing at Waddesdon may be ... er ... the chapel ... Curiously, Baron Ferdinand did collect quite a bit of 'Christian' stuff, but he never provided it with a proper setting; so most of it is propped up on window sills in the Bachelors' Wing. Were Edwardian bachelors always Christians?

There is a chapel at Blenheim, but it is never clear to me who or what is supposed to be worshipped there. Most of it is cluttered up with some great thing Rysbrack cobbled together in honour of ... Johnny Churchill. When we went there with some friends last year, the Altar was completely hidden by a plaster statue of a naked female, buttocks angled towards the viewer. If I have to choose between Judaism and Agalmatophilia, then give me Judaism any day of the week. At least Judaism doesn't, so to speak, force proctophilia down your throat.

Please don't write angry letters ... this is meant in a Spirit of Frivolity ... in honour of Publius Ovidius Naso, who has been one of my dearest friends for decades now. Salve, Magister.

30 August 2017

De vestitu praelatorum quaeritur

In previous pontificates, prelates wearing a pectoral cross with their 'house clothes' used to suspend it from a dinky little hook which was inserted into one of the button-holes in the middle of the chest of their soutane. There was a chain round the neck, but what actually supported the cross, as well as keeping it in place, was the hook. That, at least, is my recollection.

Nowadays, photographs of prelates seem always to show the cross as simply dangling from the chain.

No dinky little hook.

This is our beloved Holy Father's own practice.

Is the prevalence of this new custom since 2013 analogous to the cultural tendency which led to so many German males wearing neatly trimmed little moustaches during the Hitler years?

Is there some connection with the fact that so many aged Italians, born in the 1930s, bear the name 'Benito'?

I intend to begin a rumour that the Sovereign Pontiff has started wearing a nose-ring, so as to see how long it is before nose-rings peep delightfully out of the elegant nostrils of our Most Eminent, Most Reverend, and Right Reverend Fathers in God.

29 August 2017

The Curia Romana (3)

It is against the background I have tried to sketch out that I find myself wondering about the attitude of the present pope towards the Curia. Of course, like every institution insecurely placed in Time, it needs to be reformed from time to time. The question that worries me is whether the present pope is drawing the Curia closer in fidelity to its true ecclesial calling; or pushing it further away.

Commentators have not been slow to remark that, to the outside observer, it looks as if the current pope is attempting to prevent or eliminate the existence of strong foci within the Curia. He seems to be incapable of working with any Head of Dicastery who is not a yes-man. It is a sign, not of the Holy Father's strength, but of his weakness, that he cannot collaborate with as gentle yet principled a man as Robert Sarah, without deeming it necessary to humiliate him before the world. And Sarah was one of his own appointments.

And he aso appointed Raymond Burke to be Patron of the Order of Malta. But as soon as a problem arose in the Order, he humiliated and sidelined him. When you appoint people, you should either back them up when the going gets rough, or confess that you yourself erred in making the appointment.

Gerhard Mueller was inherited, not appointed, by Papa Bergoglio. But he confirmed him in office, and the position is a highly significant one. The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. To run the CDF he needed someone who was each of these things. Mueller was and is. First he humiliated him by sending Schoenborn to front the Amoris laetitia news conference; then by sacking three of his collaborators without even telling him; lastly, he has humiliated him yet again by dumping him with a minute's notice and invoking a principle he had not mentioned either to Mueller or the World before: that Heads of Dicasteries will not be continued in post beyond their first quinquennium.

(Incidentally, it will be interesting to see whether this principle really does get applied as all the Cardinals come to the ends of their terms. The Franciscans of the Immaculate must be puzzled to find that their tormenter Bras de Aviz is still around. Cardinal Parolin must be starting to get demob-happy. There are going to be quite a lot of underemployed 'young' cardinals swilling around, with the Vatican Press Corps hovering hungrily above them like seagulls round a trawler.)

If the Curia really is in want of radical reform, what it needs is more strong and principled and able workers and fewer unprincipled yes-men. The Press reports suggest that this is not the way our Holy Father appears to see things. But his idiosyncrasies have been obvious since his election. For the first few years he made a daily exhibition of himself by that constant stream of obscure abuse ... butterflies, pelagians ... which seemed to be directed at clergy. He is the pope who considers that a most natural Christmas present to give his curial collaborators is a torrent of invective. He sneers at grandmothers for their infertility and describes journalists as shit-eaters. Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view.

The commentators seem to think that Archbishop Ladaria, in his new chair at the CDF, is unlikely to put up much resistance to Bergoglian tantrums. They may very well be very wrong. I pray they are; because the Archbishop has some very precious institutions under his protection: the Ordinariates and Ecclesia Dei. 

But we can be sure of one thing: if Ladaria does turn out to have both principles and guts, Pope Francis, if this pontificate continues along its established lines, will either humiliate him or sack him or both.

28 August 2017

World War II

The English novelist and Catholic convert Evelyn Waugh (he went to school in the college I taught at for three decades and then to my College at Oxford) began the Second World War enthusiastically in favour of a Crusade against the Russian-German Alliance. Now, spendidly, everything had become clear. The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off. It was the Modern Age in arms.

When this conflict turned into a war in which Britain was in alliance with Stalinist Atheism, he felt it had become a sweaty tug of war between two indistinguishable teams of louts. Only the chill bonds of law and duty and custom kept him to his obligations as an army Officer.

I wonder how Catholic historians in a hundred years time will analyse the role of the Second World War in the decline of what I believe some ghastly neocon once called old Europe: the Catholic and Orthodox Europe.

27 August 2017

Is this intimidation fair? Is it Christian or Diabolical?

There was an early stage in this pontificate when the Holy Father was convinced that all good men and true knew, deep down, that the Church's marriage discipline needed changing. All that was needed was for the Synod Fathers to speak boldly the Bergoglian Truth that was really in all their hearts. During this period, Papa Bergoglio made incessant calls for Parrhesia: for courageous boldness in speaking out. This was the period in which his friend and ghostwriter 'Tucho' Fernandez was memorably heard to say "He means, Mueller [then Prefect of the CDF] won't come after us".

Mind you, some of Bergoglio's highly-placed supporters knew that the Spirit of Parrhesia was going to be needing a bit of a helping hand, in the shape of deft and careful management of process. Someone in the upper reaches of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, on hearing that some 450 of the English clergy were preparing to sign a public Letter calling for adherence to orthodoxy and orthopraxis, put a lot of pressure on the organisers to discontinue their project. Or so the Catholic Herald reported. The line was: there were perfectly adequate private channels for the clergy to make their views privately known to ... their, er, bishops. Exactly. Beautiful. That dodge is neatly laid out on page 665 of the much-thumbed manual How to be a successful Church Manager. Happily, and bravely, the organisers ignored the pressures.

Then we had the Letter of the 45. This was followed by deplorable episodes of intimidation, some of it immensely cruel and very wicked, in various parts of the world. You will understand that I cannot break confidences by saying who leaned on whom and how. But I assure you that Bully A did lean on Intermediate Bullies B and C to put their gloves on and to go and sort out D and E.

And now, as I write this in August 2017, similar episodes of intimidation are coming to light.

Whatever has happened to all the need for Parrhesia? Why has that word suddenly done a runner from the Papal Vocabulary? Has Bergoglio suddenly forgotten his Greek?

Again, for an answer you need only turn to How to be a successful Church Manager, this time to page 666: "Shut the inferior clergy up until you've fixed your Synods and confected your post-synodal Exhortations, then use the big stick of Papal Magisterium to keep them permanently quiet. Most of them are a pretty scared and pathetic lot anyway, and you'll only need to make a public example of a few of the louder troublemakers. Don't forget to make clear to any seminarians you may have, that the seminary gates are wide open. And there is never any harm in allowing the sweet fragrance of the words  Excommunication and Suspension to linger suggestively in the air. Our Father Below is very keen on rigorous ecclesiastical discipline."

Like Parrhesia, Mercy is now so very Yesterday, isn't it? 

26 August 2017


For the next fortnight, I shall not be reading in-coming messages on my computer. But, all being well, I shall publish a post every morning. Comments will have to await moderation, and emails will be unread, for the next couple of weeks.

I venture to commend to readers the advantages of not being at the mercy of in-coming traffic, and all its distractions.

The Curia Romana (2)

It is well-known that in the early centuries of the Church, the Bishop was the Sacramental centre of his Particular Church, and its Teacher who, assisted by the Holy Spirit, preserved and articulated the authentic teaching which that Church had received. But it seems that the presbyterium was the administrative body, the committee which took decisions, the body of men to whom the bishop turned for their consent before he even felt free to absolve a penitent or ordain a subdeacon. And this seems to have been very true in Rome. There are historians who believe that the Roman Church was, for centuries, governed by its presbyters and entirely lacked a 'monarchical Bishop'. I do not believe this theory, but the evidence upon which it is based does indicate the significance of the Roman presbyters. When a letter had to be sent to Corinth to sort out the disorders in the Church there, the earliest document we have of the exercise of a disciplinary Primacy by Rome, it was not sent in the name of the Bishop. Indeed, it has been argued that S Clement was not so much the Bishop/Pope, but just the presbyter in charge of correspondence! Again, I do not accept this, but, again, the fact that such an argument has been deployed does indicate the significance of the Presbyteratus Romanus. A little later, we have the account by Pope Cornelius of how a previous pope had begged for the favour of being allowed to ordain a particular presbyter who had been vetoed by the clergy and many of the laity; and Tertullian's (imaginative and scathing) account of Pope Callistus imploring the consent of the fraternitas to be allowed to absolve an adulterer. The Church of those centuries saw itself as corporate in a way that we find hard to imagine. Take the earliest letter to the Roman Church after S Paul's, the letter of S Ignatius: it does not actually mention a bishop; it is the Church which is said to preside (Kathemene). Nor does the passage in S Irenaeus which is our earliest evidence for the idea of the Roman Church as the locus par excellence of authentic doctrinal teaching contra haereses, locate that role specifically in the Pope, but in the Church. It all amounts, of course, to the precisely same thing; if Rome teaches authentic doctrine, and if its bishop is the ecclesiatical organ which enunciates that authentic teaching of the Roman Church ... well, Bob's your uncle. But these facts do bring me back to my initial point: Jorge Bergoglio is nothing; the Bishop of Rome is everything. Papa Bergoglio is Episcopus Romanus in et cum Ecclesia Romana. He is not a vagans.

My conclusion is the same as it was at the end of my first part. The Curia Romana is a body of theological significance. If I wished, in the time-honoured style of this University, to set a spoof quotation as an essay question, "Papa sine Curia Papa nullus: discuss" might occur to me ... and I would give deltas to those who argued in favour of or against the tag ... and better marks to those who subdivided their propositions and came out somewhere in the middle.
To be concluded.

24 August 2017


"After this Magisterium, after this long journey, we can affirm with certainty and with Magisterial authority that the Liturgical Reform is irreversible".

This sort of thing has the capacity to upset people; even to make them panic. And, true, there is a dash of "I'm the Big Magisterial Boy in the Playground and I can make facts happen just with one little word" in the way this rather unappealing man expresses himself. But I think panic is quite unnecessary, and is even an unfair overreaction to what he has actually said.

"Irreversible". Pope Pius XII rightly condemned 'liturgical archaeologism'. Of course you cannot reverse liturgical development. Nobody has ever done that, in the course of these two millennia. But the liturgical texts and practices established after the Council are themselves not immutable. If a papal instruction, such as that of S Pius V in Quo primum, was in itself subject to change ... and Bergoglio seems to assume that it was changeable ... then clearly what Blessed Paul VI did, and what the current occupant of the Roman See now says ... are themselves changeable; they cannot be set in stone for ever.

Pope Francis has exactly as much papal authority as S Pius V. He does not have a milligram less.

And he does not have a milligram more.

And if it was acceptable (the Holy Father seems to assume that it was) for 'experts', in the decades before the Council, to explain at great length what (in their view) was wrong with the Liturgy as it then existed ...

... then it acceptable now for us to explain, at any length we like, what (in our view) is wrong with the Liturgy as it is done now in so many places.

Geese and ganders.

Pope Bergoglio is absolutely right. Liturgy is not reversible. Nobody can magic the Catholic Church back to how it was in 1962. Or in 1939. Or any other time. Liturgy will go on. Two of the ways in which it seems to be going on are the continuing reappropriation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. And an increasing tendency to do the Ordinary Form with more reverence for Tradition.

Exemplum: When Vincent Nichols became Archbishop of Westminster, there was an instantaneous change. The unworthy little table on wheels, which had stood in the middle of the Sanctuary of his Cathedral Church, was wheeled right away, and the original, central, noble High Altar, symbol of Christ, was restored to use. Apparently Archbishop Nichols did not regard the 1970s 'coffee table' fad as "irreversible". [In fact, Pope Francis has celebrated versus Orientem in the Sixtine Chapel.]

All over the world, cathedral and church sanctuaries are being freed from the worst of the mistakes of the 1970s. And Pope Francis, in his latest address, includes a fine section explaining the importance of this instinctive respect for the Altar. (Might it perhaps have been written for him by Cardinal Sarah?) And, while I am on this subject, I will remind you of the Holy Father's Address at the general audience of August 2, when he spoke about the liturgical significance of facing East. He lamented that "in modern times, the fascination of this rite [facing East in Baptism] has been partially lost: we have lost sensitivity to the language of the cosmos". (Might he perhaps have listened to Cardinal Sarah?) Traddies should not always too readily assume that everything Jorge says is the blackest villainy.

And the Extraordinary Form is in cultural (rather than rubrical) ways rather different now from how it was before the Council (in the 1950s, I was in my teens). It is no longer performed in a hurried, perfunctory, slipshod way. The congregation no longer packs the back of the church because it is in such a hurry to escape at the very earliest possible moment. Among both celebrants and congregations, at the Extraordinary Form there is a wonderful sense of freshness and of wonder, which is certainly lacking in many of the 'mainstream' churches, with their sluggish and infantilised congregations, their frightful music, their unworthy homilies.

Are the 1962 liturgical books immutable? They are certainly not so regarded by many who most enthusiastically attend them. Over the last couple of decades, increasing numbers of groups have restored the pre-Pius XII Holy Week ceremonies. Just as the Novus Ordo recovered euchological texts drawn from early sacramentaries and brought them back into use, so the Vetus Ordo will naturally do something similar. It will not, because it cannot, remain static.

There is, indeed, nothing sacrosanct about '1962'; Benedict XVI appears to have selected that particular edition and recension of the Roman Rite mainly because it was what Archbishop Lefebvre had done earlier. I would like to see, not a wholesale and block and doctrinaire restoration of the texts or practices of any particular year in the past, but the further sensitive and unhurried and judicious evolution of the Old Rite.

I have already mentioned Holy Week. I will add: the restoration of more vigils and octaves; and (at least for doubles of the Second Class) the restoration of First Vespers.

I also think we should follow the SSPX French Ordo in providing for the use of the so-called 'Gallican' Prefaces. And  we could borrow from the Novus Ordo the permission, on lots of ordinary weekdays, either to commemorate a Saint or to observe the Feria.

If I am making a general point, it is this: rather than digging our heels in and nervously crying "Not an inch", we should let the classical Roman Rite shine ever more gloriously, attracting yet more people (not least, the young) to it by its eternal youth and its irrepressible virility and vigour.

And we should take up the powerful hint which our Holy Father is surely giving us: that Summorum Pontificum is "irreversible".

The Curia Romana (1)

Jorge Bergoglio has no Magisterial authority whatsoever. The Bishop of Rome does. But, of course, Jorge Bergoglio is Bishop of Rome; and so, qua Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis possesses the very considerable authority defined dogmatically by the First Vatican Council and expressed legally in the two Codices Iuris Canonici. Being Bishop of Rome is what counts. And being Bishop of Rome, like being Bishop of Anywhere, means being Bishop of Somewhere. And being Bishop of Somewhere means being Bishop of certain people ... of certain living and breathing Christian humans.

What is "a Bishop"? There is a (largely Anglophone) ecclesiastical underworld populated by what are often called "Episcopi vagantes", "Wandering Bishops". These are persons who have privately secured for themselves technically 'valid' episcopal orders. Many people suspect that their motive for doing this has been personal vanity, because these are 'bishops' who are not surrounded by the serried and serious ranks of their presbyterium, nor ministered to ad altare by their cheerful bustling Deacons, and who lack the boisterous, sometimes disorderly, mob of 'their' Laity, laos. And they are not, these Episcopi vagantes, in peace and communion with the Apostolic, or indeed with any other, See. Far from it.

Per contra, in Catholic (and Orthodox) ecclesiology, a Bishop is a man who discharges the functions of the high Episcopal office in the context of the structured Church life of People, Deacons, and Presbyters. A gathering of Christians so structured is known as a "Particular Church". Like any other Diocesan Bishop, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is a Bishop with a Presbyterium, a Diakonia, a Laos. He is not a lonely isolated individual with technically valid orders and a technically valid Electio in Summum Pontificem tucked into his back pocket. He is not, that is to say, a Papa vagans. With his usual acuity, Blessed John Henry Newman argued, in the case of some early popes who showed signs of doctrinal wobble, that, since this happened after they had been beaten up in Byzantine prisons, it had no bearing on the Papal Office, since they were acting as individuals in physical and moral isolation from their Ecclesia.

In the Particular, local Church of Rome, the "Cardinal Presbyters" are the Pope's presbyterium, which is why they have "titular" churches assigned to them of which they are the titular parish priests. Mutatis mutandis, the Cardinal Deacons. You will see where this is leading. The 'Cardinalate', if that is the right word, is not without theological significance. It is part of the organic structure of the very important Particular (i.e.local) Church of which the Successor of S Peter is the Bishop. This is seen most easily and most visibly in the persons of the curial Cardinals who permanently work in Rome. But it applies also to the other Cardinals throughout the world, who qua Roman Presbyters have their titular churches and are distributed among the boards of the Roman dicasteries. The Cardinal Archbishop of Timbuctoo wears red and is addressed as 'Eminence' not because he is the important local 'Primate' of a big 'National Church', but because he is Cardinal Presbyter of the Titular Church of SS Promiscuus and Miscellaneus*, which, until the Risorgimento, the Pontiff used to visit for the Stational Mass on February 31.

There has sometimes been a tendency, which I very strongly condemn, to want to separate the notion of the Pope from that of the Curia. The Pope, it is sometimes said, is the Pope and has his highly significant dogmatically based prerogatives which we can't really avoid fessing up to because they were dogmatically defined at Vatican I. But the Curia ... that is nothing more than a civil service, and a rather unattractive one to boot ( ... er ... ). Not only is it without doctrinal significance, but its members get in the way; they behave in a bossy fashion in their dealings with the Churches throughout the world. Perhaps they should be cut down. Perhaps they should be put in their place. Might we not be happier without them? Liberal journalists are programmed to cheer any pope whose sycophants put it about that he intends to savage the Curia.

In my view, this is not merely humanly unfair but is also extremely flawed theologically. It is a direct assault upon that structure, the structure of the Particular local Church of Rome, within which the Supreme Pontiff necessarily discharges his unique and indispensible role. It is a solvent which, because it seeks to split off the Pope from the structures of his Particular local Church, has the potential to leave the Roman Pontiff as a lonely and decontextualised figure; in effect, a very powerful Episcopus vagans. And that sounds to me very much like saying 'a theologically dubious Absolute Monarch'.
To be continued.
*I owe this intriguing duo, and their Feast Day (a semidouble), to the fertile imagination of the late Rt Revd Mgr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox, Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Arts (Oxon.). 

23 August 2017

Amoris laetitia and Auschwitz

According to AL, a conscience may "recognize that a a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel" but sees "with a certain moral security ... what for now is the most generous response".

Let us examine how this moral principle might apply in situations of organised and industrialised genocide. A man involved in the extermination of Jewry, for example ... if he were to decline to collaborate in any more murders, not only might he be subjected to discriminatory responses, but his family also might suffer grievously. His marriage might suffer! Is he, perhaps, required by the Bergoglian moral principle of "what is for now the most generous response" to try, gradually so as not to be noticed, to reduce the number of Jews whom he kills each day? Or might Bergoglianism mean that he should do his very best to see that they die less painfully? Or should he attempt, again without drawing too much attention to himself, so to work the system that in three months time he gets transferred to duties which involve him less directly in extermination ... like, for example, harmlessly organising the train schedules?

I am aware that my questions lay me wide open to an accusation that I am either an unbalanced crank in making an equivalence between well-mannered habitual adultery among the nice, if rather gleefully rutting, German middle-classes, and genocide; or 'antisemitic' for illustrating a moral priple by talking so calmy about something as vile as what Nazi Germany did to the Jews. It is my view that such an accusation by such an interlocutor would in fact amount to an admission that Adultery is not really sinful ... that it is, well, perhaps not technically in accordance, quite, with the book of rules, but it is not really wrong. Cardinal Coccopalmerio has in fact said something rather like this.

It is also my view that a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin. And Mortal Sin is the area into which, like several fair-sized and unstable bulls in a very tiny china shop, Bergoglio and his cronies have strayed. And by sanctioning what Fr Aidan Nichols has neatly called "tolerated concubinage", I do not think they will bring a single murdered Jew back to life or even save a single victim in future genocides. In fact, quite the contrary. Do we save lives ... or marriages ... by chipping away at the Decalogue, or by shoring it up when it comes under threat?

A person, you tell me, may well know a rule yet be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently. So .... if this does not also apply within genocidal situations, where can it apply?

A person's long involvement, you tell me, in sinful actions may well so habituate him to those actions that the subjective sinfulness, as AL claims, is radically diminished ... yes; I happen to agree with you there, and, like all confessors, I am mindful of this when I sit with my ear against the grill. But you won't forget, will you, that somebody who has been killing Jews for a couple of years might also well be in such a condition. And the tribunals which judged War Criminals after 1945 don't seem to have taken this laudable casuistic principle into their jurisprudence.

Bergoglio's 'jesuitical' campaign to circumvent Veritatis splendor paragraph 80, as well as Familiaris consortio, is both a moral and an ecclesial disaster. If Bergoglian 'moral principles' prevail, then, as Fr Aidan Nichols has accurately put it, "no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed".