1 October 2016

Vesting Prayers

Is it customary for Deacon and Subdeacon to say Vesting Prayers? A correspondent points me to Ceremonies of High Mass (Dublin 1843) which advises that each minister "may use the prayers to be said by a bishop".

Indeed, why not? the prayers for the Dalmatic and Tunicle are already provided among the prayers to be said by a bishop when vesting, and I suspect they are of some antiquity because they express the first-millennium idea that these vestments are signs of joy (which is why during penitential seasons they are replaced by folded chasubles - find my treatment of that via the Archive facility). Oh yes ... and can I ask ... am I the only person who puts the Maniple on after the Dalmatic for fear that otherwise my left arm will get helplessly entangled? Is that one reason why the book referred to above advises that "The deacon is to kiss the maniple in due order of vestments but he does not take the maniple until the celebrant is entirely vested".

Come to think of it, the Maniple Prayer doesn't go particularly well with the Dalmatic Prayer.

At the request of a colleague at Lancing, I once composed a rather nice Latin prayer to be said while putting on the radio microphone. Sadly, I can't now find a copy ...

While we're on Vesting Prayers ... I've always envied pontiffs the prayer said while taking off the Cappa: Undress me, O Lord, of the Old Man with his morals and activities ... There ought to be another prayer (I hope someone would like to compose one in Latin) for the pontiff to say, after Mass, as he again puts back on the Old Adam and goes back to his ordinary everyday life of murdering, fornicating, and embezzling.

30 September 2016

I am NOT, NOT, NOT making this up!

After my frivolous account of modern Anglican wedding rites, you might easily think I am making this next bit up.

I'm not.

A day or three ago, some dear friends, devout Anglicans, whom we got to know well when we were in our Devon parishes, came to see us, and most generously took us to have a look around Blenheim Palace together. At the end of the tour is the Chapel. People often make jokes about the fact that everything else in the Chapel is dwarfed by the ginormous Kentissimo monument to the First Duke (alias Johnny Churchill). Doesn't worry me. Rysbrack carved it, and I like the baroque. And Sir Thomas Jackson, who designed so very much of Oxford in his 'iconic' Jacobethan style, including my own college, worked intelligently there.

But we didn't have a look around; because our friends very properly shepherded us out in horror. We discussed whether to demand our entrance money back.

There, in the sanctuary, concealing the altar, was a (temporary?) display the main feature of which appeared, to our fleeting glances before we fled, to be a large white marble statue of the back of a naked woman.

It is fair to assume that the new Bishop of Oxford, a former S Ebbesite Evangelical, has granted faculties for this. And the General Synod, which is qualified to pronounce what Anglican doctrine is without there being any possibility of appeal, must have altered the beginning of the Anglican Creed to Credo in anum Deum. And, of course, appropriately felicitous liturgical formulae will be in the process of being drafted.

I seem to recall ... or am I imagining it ... that, according to Pausanias, Praxiteles' first Greek statue of Aphrodite gumna, at Cnidos, was housed in a tholos and that proctophiliacs used to bribe the Verger to let them peep in at the back. Perhaps such proctoscopy will be the new Anglican way of fund-raising. The tax levied from parishes, which used to be called the quota and is now renamed the share, will have its name further abbreviated to the nomisma procticon.

But Papists, believe me, are in no position to mock. Whatever the Anglicans do today, the blessedly eternal Spirit of Vatican II will ineluctably prescribe tomorrow. Roll on, Pope Francis III! Clothed or unclothed!

29 September 2016


Yet again! ... I will be taking a break from incoming computer traffic, including emails and Comments offered to the blog, from now until October 6 inclusively. I hope to manage a blogpost most days.

By the way ... I do not enable comments arguing that, for whatever reason, Bergoglio is not the lawful Bishop of Rome. Recently, too, I did not accept something written in Croatian. This is because I gather that the English Bishops consider that bloggers are responsible for the comments they allow. And I do not think I can rely upon Google translators to reveal accurately to me the sense of a piece of Serbo-Croat.

When I took over my desk at Lancing in 1972, I found in one of the drawers a 1930s Serbo-Croat phrasebook with delicious entries such as "At what time does the Airship leave for Zagreb?". Sadly, I did not keep it.

28 September 2016

The Revd Prebendary Michael Joseph Moreton

A couple of years ago, I published this account of an Anglican liturgist who had just died. Before those who despise all things Anglican ignore it and move on, I would draw their attention to some aspects of what follows which are relevant to the current situation within the Catholic Church. 

A very great priest, a very great scholar, a very great man died on [25 September 2014], three years short of his century and in the 65th year of his Sacred Priesthood. He was a fine example of what Archdeacon emeritus Henry Manning disapprovingly called the old Oxford, Anglican, literary, Patristic tone. Others will write detailed and accurate obituaries; I warn you that I can only give a deplorably self-regarding sketch of what, in just one decade of his long life, Fr Michael Moreton meant to me.

I think of Michael as one of the Exeter mafia; priests who spent their entire priesthood with a sense that the Diocese of Exeter was their real home ... Bishop 'JR' (John Richards), Prebendary John Hooper were two such others who had an impact on my life. (The Church of England does not have a system of incardination, but clergy who have this sort of local identification seem to have a great capacity for enriching their priestly environment.) I did not become one of Michael's friends until Pam and I moved in retirement to the edges of Devon, and JR took me along to the Society of S Boniface. This priestly society, of which Michael was the dominant member, met monthly for Mass, for study of the Greek New Testament, lunch, and an academic paper. The Biblical exposition was always done by Michael, with immense and painstaking care; but it was in the old spirit of the sort of' 'modern biblical scholarship' in which by that time I had realised I no longer believed. So when we 'passed it round' after he had finished his exposition, we both knew that my contribution would be subversive. I suspect I might even have deployed the phrase 'More Dead Germans' to characterise the modern commentaries he so often cited. Life was fun.

Michael was, I believe, the first modern liturgical scholar to explode the myth that versus populum was the 'primitive' custom; he did this in a crisp brief paper read at one of Betsy Livingstone's Oxford Patristic Conferences. He was indeed a link with an older generation of scholars in the last golden age of classical Anglican Divinity; he recalled buying a copy of a 'large book with a dark green cover' (Gregory Dix's Shape of the Liturgy) in the SPCK bookshop in Calcutta immediately after its publication. 'Boniface' had been founded by Canon Jasper, who used to report to it on the progress of Synodical liturgical revision in those heady days before it became clear that the Evangelicals would veto any viable Eucharistic Prayer. Michael had also known Dr Jalland, my erudite predecessor at S Thomas's in Oxford, and had said the Mass at his funeral. Ignoring the prejudices of some of those present on that occasion, he had used the Canon Romanus. "I decided that since he was a Patristic Scholar, he should have a Patristic Eucharistic Prayer".

Indeed, it was Michael who brought home to many thoughtful priests the importance of that great monument to Christian antiquity, to Catholicity, to Romanita, which we call the Roman Canon. I remember JR, an old-style 'Prayer Book Catholic' and a former (very disciplinary) Archdeacon, sheepishly borrowing a copy of the Canon Romanus from me when he was due the say the Mass at 'Boniface' ("Michael likes it so much, boy ... I'd better use it"). Michael used to explain that, far more important than mere legality, what mattered was the auctoritas which the Canon Romanus had in view of its origins in the same period in which the Canon of Scripture and the threefold Apostolic Ministry crystallised within the Church. [Pope Benedict XVI was later to write something rather similar to this.] I still vigorously assert Moreton's perception that this incomparable Prayer does have the same immoveable canonicity as Scripture, Creeds, Ministry. With some encouragement from another valued Exeter friend and fellow-member of 'Boniface', Fr Peter Morgan (who had the distinction of being the first priest ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre for his Society), I began to celebrate on weekdays the Latin 'Tridentine' Mass instead of the Novus Ordo in Latin. What happy days they were. What precious memories to cherish.

Michael was an immensely kind and gentle man; with a great natural generosity. He was also an endearing example of conjugal devotion. How many of us remember and celebrate each year the Day upon which we first set eyes upon our wives? Few things meant more to Michael than his memories of long and happy years with Peggy; quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

27 September 2016

More about Effchurch (see a recent post)

I forgot to mention that Effchurch Priory is in the custody of "English Heritage", and that, after the Tridentine High Mass, an Anglican Wedding took place. We found a comfy seat in the warm sun and watched the external accidentia of this bizarre event.

D'ye know, there were ten bridesmaids! But that wasn't the really odd thing, which was: not one of them seemed to be doing any actual bridesmaiding. They were all in an advanced state of squealdom and it took some time to get them lined up before the entry into the church. And they were lined up to precede the Bride! So who, you ask, went behind and held up the Bride's dress out of the mud? ... It fell to one of the two English Heritage employees in black skirts and pullovers! And the Bride's Father held her bouquet for her!

Finally they all tottered into church twenty minutes after the advertised time.

I know I still have some readers out there who have not yet succeeded in liberating themselves from the shackles of Old Mother Damnable; perhaps they will be able to explain these ritual changes which have occurred since the days when I was still around to lend the C of E a touch of style. Is it something in the spirit of Bubbles Stancliff's didactic ceremonialism, designed to evoke the Parable of the deka parthenoi and the eschatological krauge Ecce sponsus venit? Or, as one of my family suggested, might the Ten have been girls who had previously enjoyed the addresses of the numphios? So that as he looked down the church at the Entry, he would have to meet the eyes of each of them, and remember? Another of my family, who has perhaps read too much of Sir J G Frazer, Robert Graves, and poor gullible Margaret Mead, wondered if, in the nox nuptialis, it might be deemed the duty of the numphios to favour each of the ten girls before approaching his Bride, so that it would be a tribute to her hyperaphroditic excellences if she still had the power to move his sated and enervated capacities. Like Heracles and the Forty Nine Daughters of Thespios, sort of, as you might say, or up to a point.

And ... perhaps there are other amusing weirdnesses in up-to-the-minute rapidly-evolving post-Christian Anglican liturgical praxis which Anglican readers could reveal for our delectation? Go on! Spill the beans!

I think I got out just in time. Call me a rat if you like; but the ship was undoubtedly sinking pretty fast, leaving behind it just the flotsam and the jetsam. The Ordinariate, although smaller than the creaky, leaky old Tudor warship, is a very trim and attractive little craft. And we have a lot of fun.

26 September 2016

On the Internet ... the limits of papal authority

(1) The latest Catholic Herald has a good piece by a Fr Mark Drew on the ongoing Amoris laetitia  crisis. (I cannot resist entering here a snide comment that visitors to this blog have already repeately read most of his points here ... Parrhesia and all.) Father refers to the intimidation experienced in this country as  'discreet' ... but then, we are English, aren't we? In some other places, it has been anything but discreet.

(2) Sandro Magister (Chiesa 21 September) quotes an Andrew Grillo, whom he calls a keen Bergoglian, as forecasting that the next Synod will, among other things, deal with
"The Collegial exercise of the episcopacy and the restitution to the Bishop of full authority over the diocesan liturgy".

I presume we all know by now that 'Collegiality' is well established as a code-word for giving improper competences to Episcopal Conferences ... a serious potential ecclesiological corruption (upon which Cardinal Mueller spoke well a year or two ago). But what I am particularly drawing your attention to this morning is the part of the sentence I have put into italics. It means that the bully-boys who hate Ratzinger and his legacy are beginning to set their sights on demolishing Summorum Pontificum and eliminating its admirable doctrinal emphases on Subsidiarity and the auctoritas of Tradition.

I am only surprised that it has taken the Wolves and their cubs so long to get round to this.

Both of these two superficially diverse items exemplify the same over-arching problem which this increasingly dysfunctional pontificate continually throws up: the limits of lawful papal power. Time to read again what Ratzinger so wisely said on this. And to revisit Pastor aeternus (together with Denzinger 3114 and 3117).

25 September 2016

Offchester and Effchurch

While Doing the North, we found ourselves looking over a perfect 'transitional' Augustinian Priory Church, which, as Pevsner observes, was in ruins but still complete enough in the 1840s to make its restoration at that time almost totally reliable. It is beside a ruined Regency house: if only the Priory were still in ruins; and the Regency house were not in tatters; the whole (immensely romantic) site would be a perfect setting for S Jane's Northanger Abbey. I will call it Effchurch Priory; we visited it at noon on the Saturday when forty or fifty people were gathered there for a Tridentine High Mass. It happens, I gather, once a year. An elegant and very accessible sermon on the day's Saint (S Nicolas of Tolentino); perfect liturgy; excellent singing. An enthusiastic and very participatory congregation, who knew their way around the Church's immemorial Liturgy and took part in a natural, relaxed, unforced, often quite loud, way.

Sadly, I did not feel that having heard Mass on Saturday at 12:00 would fulfill the Sunday obligation; so in the evening we went to a Vigil Mass in a town some miles away, which I will rename Offchester. The difference was palpable. The 1969 rite done very badly. Very little participation; the organ droned out eight stanzas of a hymn tune and not a person made a sound. The pp obviously deemed himself a brilliant mystagogue, because every single 'presidential formula', even the pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer, was either changed or interpolated. There was, unsurprisingly, no sermon. I say "unsurprisingly" because I have met the same liturgical corruption in the South of England, not least in a church where the priest proudly referred to it as "a Vatican II church".

I wonder why some priests of a certain generation and a 'Conciliar' culture have such a rooted aversion to preaching. This leads me on to wonder what exactly it was that they were taught in the corrupted and emptying seminaries of the post-Conciliar decades. We know that (despite Canon 249 and the Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII) they were not taught Latin or Greek; because of this, they were blocked from sudying Patristics. They did not ... clearly ... do Liturgy or Liturgical Theology or Practical Liturgy; it appears that they received no education in Scripture, Biblical Theology, or how to open the Word of God for their people. I somehow doubt that they were all given a deep formation in traditional moral theology or the hearing of confessions, because I know of (another) church in the South of England where the priest explained that the difficulty about hearing confessions was that the Confessional had for many years been used for stacking away the unsold debris of Parish bazaars. What, in the Name of God Almighty and God most Adorable, did all those men learn in those seven expensive years of 'priestly formation'? 

I know some traddies cheerfully but (IMHO) irresponsibly point out that Monsignor Time will solve the problem of that generation of clergy; but, in a decade or two's time, will the joyless and infantilised congregations still be in existence? These are souls for whom Christ died.

If I were a bishop, I would send round formidable, even terrifying, hit squads of bright, orthodox, and cheerful young clergy with the oil of ordination still damp upon their hands, to teach the dear old gentlemen all the things that their lecturers forgot to mention in the 1970s and 1980s; and to overhaul a radicibus the parish liturgies. Cardinal Sarah's recent extremely sound suggestions could provide a lively and exciting start to a programme of restoring catholic authenticity in the desert areas. And His Eminence, with his true and accurate pastoral heart, clearly understands the urgency of this need. Happily, one hears of diocesan bishops loyally responding to his timely initiative. Let us hope that, on Advent Sunday ...

But not, sadly, quite all bishops. One or two Ordinarii locorum prefer to resemble stewards careering crazily around on the Great Liner's dangerously sloping decks while shouting noisily and inaccurately at anyone they meet about the 'true post-Conciliar' alignment of deckchairs.

24 September 2016

The ORDINARIATE and Malines, Mercier, and Mary

A great day! Our Patronal Festival! We accept your respectful felicitations!!

September 24 is the Ordinariate Solemnity of our Lady of Walsingham. Our admirable Ordinariate Missal provides for use today the beautiful Mass which Fr Hope Patten and Fr Fynes Clinton ingeniously created by making one very minor adaptation in the Mass granted pro aliquibus locis by Innocent XII (1691-1700) in honour of the Holy House at Loretto. (The Breviary Office which complements this Loretto Mass is also extremely beautiful and I assume that application of the principles of Canon 19 enables Ordinariate clergy who say the Breviarium Romanum to use it.)

It is a very fine Mass. Unfortunately, management at the Anglican Shrine later abandoned it in favour of some new Mass formulae confected by themselves in the Spirits of Hannibal Bugnini and Old ICEL; my copy of the 1979 (fourteenth) edition of their pilgrims' Manual informs us that "considerable revision was both necessary and appropriate, and this [a committee] proceeded to provide". (That presumably happened around the time when, so I was shamelessly informed, they made a bonfire of their maniples, burses, and veils.) Happily, in the Ordinariate we remain true to the vision and genius of Hope Patten and Fynes Clinton. Both that vision and that genius were and are of a very high order. "Considerable revision" is neither "necessary" nor "appropriate".

After all that, I hope it will not seem eccentric for me to write today about another Marian Mass; one which, it seems to me, also has interesting links with the long process which eventually, in Good Pope Benedict's Golden Days, led to the erection of the Ordinariates.

Our Lady, as Mediatrix of all Graces, used to have a big shop window in the Supplementum pro aliquibus locis; she possessed a festival granted for May 31 by Pius XI in 1922. It was granted largely at the instance of one of the great Prelates of the twentieth century, Desire-Joseph Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines 1906-1926.

Mercier, like Ratzinger, was one of those rare and admirable Catholic Prelates who were much attracted by the essential orthodoxy of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England and realised its enormous value to the Catholic Church, its true home. That is why, although he was a hammer of the Modernists (appointed, indeed, to Malines by S Pius X), Mercier was, with no inconsistency, the leading spirit in the Malines Conversations, in which Catholic and Anglo-Catholic theologians came to substantial agreements and espoused the idea of 'Corporate Reunion' expressed in the phrase "The Church of England United Not Absorbed'. 'Malines' is, in fact, part of the pre-history of our glorious Ordinariate, and Cardinal Mercier one of its godfathers.

Pius XII is said to have disliked our Lady's title Mediatrix of all Graces. That may be why he effectively sabotaged the feast in 1955 by submerging it beneath his own new festival of our Lady, Queen, on May 31.

The Mass and Office of our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces, authorised before 'the Council' for many places (including Belgium; much of the North of England; and Wales where, back in the age of Octave Days, it was transferred to June 1) contained good things. Here is part of the fourth Reading at Mattins, from S Ephraim the Deacon. I have written before about the Latin and Byzantine testimonies to this doctrine; I hereby now, in honour of today's great Marian Solemnity, cheerfully mix in the Syrian, Semitic tradition.

My mistress, most holy Mother of God and Full of Grace, inexhaustible ocean of divine and secret bounties and gifts, the beseeching of all good things, Mistress of all after the Trinity, another consoler after the Paraclete, and, after the Mediator, Mediatrix of all the world ... thou hast filled creation with every kind of benefit, to the dwellers in heaven thou hast brought joy, thou hast brought salvation to earthly things. By thee we hold the most certain proof of our resurrection; by thee we believe that we shall obtain the kingdom of heaven; through thee all glory, honour and holiness, from the first Adam and unto the very end of the world, has flowed, is flowing, and will flow, to the Apostles, the Prophets, to those of righteous and humble heart; and in thee rejoices, O Full of Grace, the whole creation.

Supplex Omnipotentia, ora pro nobis.

23 September 2016

Bishop Fellay and Mutual Enrichment

I was very moved when I listened to the two videos of His Excellency Bishop Fellay, justifying his hope of leading the Society of S Pius X into a canonically regular situation.

And particularly by the section in which he read long extracts from a letter sent to him by a diocesan bishop. (I suspected that he laid emphasis upon the fact that his correspondent was a diocesan bishop to prevent it being assumed that the writer was Bishop Schneider!) It seemed to me sad that His Excellency felt that he needed to conceal the bishop's identity; such, I suppose, is the result of the atmosphere of fear which pervades Christ's Catholic Church militant here in earth during the current pontificate. (Although no steps appeared to be taken against Reinhardt Marx when he said all that stuff about not being a subsidiary of Rome and not being prepared to 'wait' ... which is confusing. Might there be different standards of punitive retaliation for the differently dissident?)

It is no secret that there is a tendenz within the Society which favours an ecclesiology of remaining dug into a heavily fortified defensive position. I would not myself find this at all easy to justify. It can never be safe to be out of perfect canonical unity with the Successor of S Peter. And such a position can never be free of a suspicion that a schismatic mentality is being generated; a mentality which can only harden over the years. The longer communities exist in separation, the less easy it is to reconcile them. Surely, whatever else History teaches, it teaches this. Every unreconciled year is 365 more days' journey into the land of hardened cultural arteries

It is very much to the Holy Father's credit that, apparently, he has lowered the doctrinal bar for reconciliation, in line with the interesting remarks made by Archbishop Pozzo ... who had (or has a friend who had) clearly been diving into the Conciliar archives and unearthing formal statements made in the aula about the non-binding status of certain documents. And the Pope's statement that he had not spoken infallibly when he performed certain recent canonisations must help reconciliation. Obviously, a formula of canonisation does not fall within the parameters of Pastor aeternus; additionally, there is significance in the changes Pope Francis made in the rites of Canonisation. (The Search Engine would reveal my extensive views on this subject.)

The nameless bishop, in his letter to Bishop Fellay, was in fact echoing the appeal recorded in Acts 16, Come over to Macedonia and help us. But the Society has only some 600 priests. How can it possibly 'help' the so much vaster Universal Church Militant? As the disciples said to the Lord, alla tauta ti estin eis tosoutous? [John 6:9]. 

He answered their very natural apprehension non verbo sed actu. Such is the way with God.

Perhaps the fostering of vocations and seminary training could be areas in which the Societry's long, well tested, and proven experience could be of general usefulness. I gather that one in five of the priests ordained in France this year was ordained in the Extraordinary Form ... Possibly this is what that rather sporting Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had in mind when he observed, I think in 2012, that he would be happy to see the Society running his seminary. Does anybody have any better plan for reviving Wonersh? An Ushaw redivivum might end up full again, just as it was in that splendid old black-and-white video of High Mass on the eve of the Council!!

Incidentally, it could be useful for orthodox presbyters being hounded by unsympathetic diocesans to have a refuge into which they could be incardinated. The Society might end up growing faster than it anticipated!

Indeed, things after the regularisation of the SSPX might be fun. Since the Society's priests are relatively thick upon the ground in France, there would just have to be some entertaining exchanges of opinions as they took a full part in deliberations with the aged liberals in French dioceses and deaneries. And just suppose the Savoyard Bishop Tissier de Mallerais were nominated to sit in ... merely as an observer, you understand ... on the meetings of the CBCEW ... imagine that engagingly dismissive flap of the hand and the laconic verbal grenade blandly lobbed across the table, just when some item on the Agenda seemed to have been safely sewn up ... and, incredible though this must seem, Tissier might just possibly not be overawed even by Vincent Nichols ...

22 September 2016

The Tome of S Leo

Did you think I was a bit hard  in my criticisms a day or two ago of bureaucracies which operate under the cover of episcopal conferences? But those of us whom Pope Benedict so graciously invited to bring our own distinctive patrimony into the one true fold of the Redeemer have seen it all before ... these bureaucracies, their unaccountable Spokesmen. Sequuntur a couple of boring old anecdotes of my own. I hope you're sitting comfortably.

Once upon a time, S John Paul II, in the course of his admirable catecheses, spoke about the Perpetual Virginity of the Most Holy Mother of God. Virginity in any shape or form being an unusual concept to journalists, the Press wanted a Story out of this, and so they turned to the Press Office of what our Patron Blessed John Henry Newman so beautifully called the House of Bondage. Duly, next day, it was reported in the public papers that a Spokesman of the Church of England had disclaimed the doctrine and said that Modern Scholarship did not accept it. Since I was working as a priest of the Church of England, I rather objected to this anonymous individual claiming to speak on my behalf. I objected all the more, because 'Ever Virgin', aeiparthenos, is in the Conciliar documents of the Council of Chalcedon, a Council to which the Church of England has historically been regarded as doctrinally committed (under the legislation of Elizabeth I, you could be burned as a heretic for denying its teaching). Semper Virgo is, to be specific, present in the Tome of S Leo, who was one of the dozen greatest latinists of all time. I am very attached to (as we say nowadays) the Spirit of Chalcedon ... but also to its words. And equally attached to the Spirit and words of S Leo. And to the doctrinal interventions of all Roman Pontiffs except Pope Honorius I, whom, of course, I anathematise.

So I made enquiries about this Press Statement. To be brief: my enquiry was passed from hand to hand, office to office, with nobody taking responsibility, everyone disowning it. But I persisted, eventually discovered the identity of the 'Spokesman', and the processes he had gone through.

His media contacts had demanded a response before their press deadline that very same day. So he had 'phoned up the only bishop of the Church of England who had an academic reputation ... a liberal Evangelical who was 'chair' of the Doctrine Commission ... who had told him what to say.

Thus did a 'Spokesman' for the Church of England disclaim, and dissociate his ecclesial body from, the common teaching of the ancient Churches, Latin, Byzantine, Oriental, and their ancient liturgies; and of the ancient Ecumenical Councils. And disrespectfully dismiss the words of the World Leader of one of our 'partners in ecumenical dialogue'. It's as easily done as that! It's what bureaucrats are for!

The waywardness of these proceedings was emphasised by the subsequent ARCIC document on Mary, which spoke about the doctrine with much more respect, and reminded readers that Cranmer, Latimer, and Jewell had subscribed to it. 

Incidentally, I met a similar implicit disrespect for the Tome of S Leo during the period of 'priestly formation' which we had to go through at the beginning of the Ordinariate. One of the 'lecturers' described a formula found in the Tome (De nostro enim illi est minor Patre humanitas; de Patre illi est aequalis cum Patre divinitas) as "heretical" (ipso ipsius verbo). I was not impressed by what this revealed about the reliability of the doctrinal teaching still perhaps being given even today to Catholic seminarians, or the competence of all their teachers.

I pursued that chap, too. You just can't let these people, wherever you may find them, get away with things, can you?

21 September 2016


I hope that the 'Spirit of Assisi', which has so worried many good Catholics, may be losing its power to offend.

It is well known that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger felt that he must absent himself from one of the 'Assisi Events' sponsored by his admired friend and Pope S John Paul II. Indeed, I do not think it is disrespectful to suggest that the great 'showman pope' may have been even culpably careless with some of his gestures; or that some of the arrangements at 'his' Assisi came near to the sacrilegious. Complaints were in order.

But I felt that some traditionalists failed to give Pope Benedict XVI credit for the differences which he introduced when he made his own papal journey to Assisi. Had he simply discontinued these events during his own pontificate, he would have left, among the precedents from the previous pontificate, objectionable arrangements which subsequent popes might have accepted as normative, and followed. I believe that this is one important reason why Benedict went to Assisi ... to change the precedents; to correct and sharpen the implicit meaning of the event.

And now our Holy Father, in his Address at Assisi, has explicitly and clearly renounced "syncretism and relativism". This is splendid; and, because of its formal and scripted nature, is worth far more than those off-the-cuff observations which cause such justified unease.

'Assisi events' may still not be entirely to our taste. I can't imagine taking part in such things myself. But I think that anybody who claims to raise questions of principle must think very carefully about which details he/she finds radically unacceptable.

I add, as a footnote, my own warm approbation of the repetition by Pope Francis of the spirit and much of the language associated with S John Paul's condemnations of war. I wish that the Camerons of this world had listened more attentively to such teaching when they were wildly and irresponsibly clamouring for Regime Change in the Arab world under cover of the daft and murderous slogan "the Arab Spring". It was like handing out matches and encouraging the kiddies to run along and celebrate Bonfire Night in the forecourt of a petrol filling station. There is much blood on many fastidious hands. But not on the hands of successive Roman Pontiffs, who have discerned with clarity and have given their warnings in unmistakeable language.

20 September 2016

The Catholic Herald

It seems to me a bit of a pity that the ability of what the CIC calls Christifideles to make their views known via the Internet, courtesy of the Catholic Herald, is, apparently, no more.

More important, however, than my personal 'seemings' and my subjective 'bits of a pity' are the right, and indeed duty, prescribed in Canon Law (vide Canonem 212), for Christifideles to make their necessitates et optata et sententias known to their pastors and to each other. A valuable forum for the the exercise of this ius et officium is being removed. The all-important Spirit of the Code of Canon Law is thus being gravely infringed. We really can't be having that, can we?

Surely we may with confidence expect our beloved Episcopal Conference to take steps to ensure the restoration of this or a similar forum; and to encourage clerics and laics alike to practise thereupon the fullest Parrhesia. Since the Catholic Herald mentions the enormous economic burden of providing this service, perhaps the Conference could make a financial contribution, saving an equivalent sum of money by effecting extensive economies in Eccleston Square.

Indeed, discussion about the nature of such economies could be the initial topic which a revived and revamped Internet Forum (Forum Interretiale Christifidelium) could open up for discussion by clerics and laics. In accordance with Canon 212, I would nominate for the First Big Wave of Major Chops all the Liturgy wallahs, especially the one who provided a misleading translation recently with regard to the ad Orientem question; and all the chaps (and chappettes) who deal with Inter-faith Relations, particularly the one who advised the bishops with regard to the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews; and all the Spokespersons, especially the one who made a statement a couple of years ago dissociating the Conference from Bishop Egan's reminder about the canonical provisions for refusing communion to legislators who legislate against Catholic morals. Oops: I nearly forgot to include the anonymous lady (or gentleman) who wrote the document I analysed in my recent "BUT ..." post. Clear 'em all out, sez I. Surely, such people precisely represent all the dangers Cardinal Mueller has had in mind when he has spoken over the years with such clarity and wisdom about the problems inherent in powerful 'Conference' bureaucracies. To His Eminence's words, with which I entirely concur, I will add my own humble ha'p'orth: that the mischief is increased when, as so often, these people make their utterances anonymously, thus, as dear Mr Baldwin put it, exercising power without responsibility, 'the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages'.

And the CBCEW could discontinue any subvention the Conference makes to ARCIC and other time-wasting bodies (I know you will all be able to nominate some).

We could save oodles of dosh.

But that's all just my own personal and deeply subjective and whimsical view. Please, in accordance with the Holy Father's wishes, use much Parrhesia in making your own suggestions.