22 October 2017

Explanation

Last night, a draft, unpolished, breaking off suddenly in mid-sentence, of tomorrow morning's post appeared; I have no idea why. Two people submitted each a comment. I have removed both the post and two comments.

I would be glad if the writer of the second comment resubmitted it tomorrow, if he feels it still fits the post as it will be published. The other comment sadly misunderstood my post as being an attack on women who have abortions. In fact, it was a satirical atack on something totally different.

I do rather assume that readers will be genre-savvy.

I would also appreciate it if readers who notice hostile jiggeryPokery on the blog would keep me inform

Piltdown Man and the proposed Catholic/ Protestant Eucharistic Prayer

I have a lovely postcard which I bought when I was a keen little boy very interested, I can't now remember why, in Science. It came from the Natural History Museum, and showed the skull which was the final glorious proof that Men are descended from Apes; the long awaited proof of Darwinianism: Eoanthropus Dawsonii, AKA the Piltdown Man, AKA the Great Hoax. If I had time to waste being childish, I'd pin it up with a picture beside it of the mighty Dawkins.

Liturgy has its Piltdown Man; the 'Liturgy of Hippolytus'. Actually, I'm not being quite fair; Piltdown Man was a deliberate forgery; an attempt to provide the evidence for a dogma for which genuine evidence had been tantalisingly too coy to show itself. 'Hippolytus' is no forgery, but a genuine first millennium liturgical text.

But, everyone now agrees, it is not by Hippolytus, nor was it a very early liturgy of the Roman Church. And Professor Paul Bradshaw has shown good reason to think that it is not nearly as early as used to be assumed. Yet this text dominated the Committee-Liturgy reconstructions of the twentieth century. It provided the basis of the Eucharistic Prayer which is by far the most commonly, and disastrously, used in the Catholic Church: Prayer 2. It was the model of the drafts which started to be considered in the Church of England in the late 1960s.

Gregory Dix was among the many taken in by the then consensus that (what earlier writers had called) 'The Egyptian Church Order' was really an early form of the Roman Rite; although his instincts were too sound to swallow the idea that really early liturgy had an Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit after the Institution Narrative (he concluded that this must have been an interpolation into 'Hippolytus' dating from the fourth century, when notions of Epiclesis became popular in the East).

Despite its dodgy origins, 'Hippolytus' became real politics in the C of E in 1965, and initially appeared to be productive of highly useful results. The Liturgical Commission offered a draft Eucharistic Prayer which ran "Wherefore ... we offer unto thee this bread and this cup; and we pray thee to accept this our duty and service in the presence of thy divine majesty (note the echoes of the Canon: ... offerimus ... panem ... calicem ... hanc ... oblationem servitutis nostrae ... ... in conspectu divinae maietatis tuae ...). A year later they offered the explanation "this need mean no more than 'we put this bread and this cup at God's disposal', so that he may use them to feed those who receive in faith. It can, of course, be interpreted to mean something else; but it does not assert the fully developed doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries ... Hippolytus ... Irenaeus ... Justin ... Clement ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity". But a tiny 'note of dissent' followed from one Colin Buchanan: "I reluctantly dissent ... Inquiry has shown that the phrase ... is unacceptable to many Anglicans".

Buchanan was not just a single individual. He was front man for the (mostly) Calvinist extreme Evangelical wing of the Church of England. In the decades which followed, his eagle eye relentlessly spotted and vetoed (through the Evangelical block vote in Synods) any phrase expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; not because he wanted to save evangelicals from having phrases they disliked forced upon them; there was no proposal or desire on anybody's part to make evangelicals use anything they didn't like - he just couldn't stand the thought that, in a long list of optional alternatives, there might be even just one on the menu which Anglo-Catholics could use with a moderately good conscience.

The poor bloke would go apoplectic if anybody pointed this out to him, but the main fruit of his long and active life was the unwillingness of many Anglican Catholics to use any of the Eucharistic prayers authorised by the Church of England. All those decades of Liturgical Revision since the 1920s, Green Books and Orange books and 1927 and 1928 and goodness knows what,  Series One, Two, Three ... the Alternative Service Book and Common Worship ... mostly with options galore ... and "Catholics in the Church of England" still don't have one single usable Eucharistic Prayer!

Even 'Non-Conformist' churches use 'offer' language nowadays; I've heard it among Methodists and URC: after all, it is based on a diachronic and synchronic ecumenical consensus. But not in Buchanan's C of E. Paradoxically, the 'Reformation' body which retained the most 'Catholic' doctrines, traditions, and structures became, in the second half of the twentieth century, the most inflexibly anti-Catholic of the whole lot in its refusal to allow any approximation, however ambiguous, to Catholic doctrine in its Eucharistic rites. The dear old whore (I say this with great affection and in my very friendliest tones) is now Liberal in ethical matters and Church Order; and extreme Proddy in the texts of her worship.

There are rumours that in some secret Vatican angulo a Eucharistic Prayer is being confected which may be used by both Catholics and Protestants. I wonder if it will be usable by Evangelical Anglicans ... if it includes any suggestion of 'offering' the Eucharistic Elements, it won't be. Secondly, I wonder if it will be usable by Byzantines. When, in 1928, the Church of England proposed a revision which included an Epiclesis, Orthodox critics made very clear that that Epiclesis did not match up to Byzantine standards. Orthodox can be very rigid!

While we remained in the C of E, we 'papalists', of course, used the rites of 'another Church'. But for those of you who turned down Pope Benedict's offer and are still hunkering down in the bilge water of Old Mother Damnable, the only liturgies legally available to you are perched on the extreme 'left' wing of the Reformation spectrum!

21 October 2017

Four Words

Recently, attempts to change the Church's Teaching have been justified by appealing to some words of S Vincent of Lerins about development. 

I have been writing about this subject since at least 2009. Henceforth, I shall repeat some of these old posts, with threads, daily around five o' clock. Starting below.

But it is my intention, Deo volente, to continue putting up a new post every morning.

Four words of S Vincent of Lerins: 'Development' in the Christian Church and in her Doctrine: Development must take place eodem sensu eademque sententia [keeping the same meaning and the same judgment/opinion]. (In the Liturgy of the Hours the whole passage can be found in Vol IV.)

This phrase has a big place in the Conciliar Magisterium. It appeared (para 62) in Gaudium et Spes, and even before that it lay at the heart of the address by B John XXIII at the start of the Council. But here it is necessary to avoid a dangerous tripwire. In the popular English paperback collection of Conciliar documents (Chapman) edited by W M Abbott, a misleading paraphrase of this speech is given in which the phrase is totally omitted. This became the occasion of an important correspondence in the Tablet in December 1991, in the course of which Professor John Finnis of this University demonstrated conclusively that Peter Hebblethwaite's Pope John XXIII (p 432) is guilty of gross errors. Hebblethwaite, a failed Jesuit, fabricated a story about how some 'brave' and liberal words of John XXIII in his adddress to the Council were distorted, in a curial plot, by the later addition, in publication, of the words I quote. The papal address did not, according to Hebblethwaite, originally contain them. This gross distortion of events promptly became part of the mythology of the 'liberals', being cited as fact by Basil Hume and [the present Bishop of Guildford] Christopher Hill.

This passage by S Vincent lies at the heart of Newman's Essay on Development, which straddles his life as an Anglican and as a Roman Catholic (Chapter 5 Section 1). Its presence in the post-Conciliar Liturgia Horarum marks it as a part of the Conciliar documents which remains the everyday Magisterium of the modern Chuch.

20 October 2017

Correcting the Correctio

Excellent news for you ! There is now a pro-Bergoglian counterblast to the Correctio Filialis. Go and read; go and enjoy! Spread knowledge of it! It is important that journalists and the Internet do not forget our Correctio!

Strictly entre nous ... and entirely within these four walls ... the counterblast was actually masterminded in the echoing marble halls of the Correctio Secretariate as a disinformation device to keep our Correctio Filialis in the news. On no account divulge this; it is top secret. I know I can trust you.


We had no trouble collecting signatures for the Correctio Correctionis! For some reason, fear of reprisals doesn't seem to deter people from signing a pro-Bergoglian manifesto! Among the signatories we secured is the (Jesuit) Master of Campion Hall in this University. I knew he would be up for it because he authored a pro-Bergoglian document which, festooned with the word CONFIDENTIAL, was circulating earlier this year in at least one English diocese. I got a copy which, as far as my recollection goes, had fallen off the back of a lorry.

But our biggest coup was a much more interesting signatory. Martha Heizer, leader of the Austrian branch of We Are Church. Martha belongs to a very elite group: those who have been excommunicated in and by this pontificate ... yes, even under the regime of Mercy, excommunications happen!!

Why were Martha and her husband, in 2014, excommunicated? For the canonical offence of Simulating the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The pair of them hosted priestless "celebrations of Mass" in their own home. Ergo ... is it Canon 1378? Rigid, but fair!


After receiving the sentence, Martha interestingly expressed the view that they were still members of the Church because of their Baptisms, and would remain so unless they themselves left the Church.
(1) The Good News: Martha understands and accepts the dogma of the indelible Character marked upon the soul in Baptism.
(2) The Bad News: Martha seems to think that she (and hubby) do themselves have the power to wipe the Character of Baptism off their souls by 'leaving' the Church.

Rubbish!  

Nobody has the power to extinguish the full effects of Baptism. Not the Pope; not the Canon Lawyers; not the Heizers.

Martha's mental confusions are the reason why I am now going to disappoint all you hardline bloodthirsty Traddies: I am uneasy about this use of Excommunication. I do understand the importance of marking the seriousness of offences the Heizers had committed against the Body of Christ, the Church. But ... these poor dim silly confused creatures ... would it not be more merciful to excommunicate them formally but to suspend the full effect of the sentence to the extent of allowing their canonical pastor to use his discretion ad salutem animarum?


19 October 2017

Newman and Ratzinger

A friend drew my attention the other day to a post on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, which printed an ancient piece of mine from 10 September 2009. I thought it read rather well, but then, I suppose I would, wouldn't I! Anyway, here it is again, unchanged. PLEASE remember its date!

 The other day, in Fr Ker's admirable biography of Mr Newman, I found a diverting error in the Index. Nothing less than a description of Cardinal Manning as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ah, the might-have-beens of History. Today, I would remind you of Manning's bad-tempered criticism of Newman; that with Newman, even after his reception into Full Communion, it was still the same old Anglican, Oxford, Patristic tone. We can do worse than recall this as we approach the beatification of that very great man. This may irritate some readers, but since this is my blog I will say it all the same: the whole point of Newman is that Manning was right; he never ceased to be an Anglican; that is to say, a superb exemplar of all that was best, God-given, grace-given, wholesome, and holy, in the life of the Provinces of Canterbury and York while in separation from the Voice of Peter. When he put off all that was schismatic, separatist, narrow, flawed, partial, heretical, in the ethos he imbibed from the Church of England, he was free to be more perfectly and fully Anglican than ever he had been before.

Because there is more to say about 'Anglicanism' than I said in yesterday's post. An Anglicanism which purports to be a doctrinally distinctive, even a superior, form of Christianity: yes, it is a diabolical mirage. But in the unhappy centuries of our separation from Peter, grace was not stopped up. A tone emerged; a style, a way of doing theology, of living the Christian life, which in itself is by no means unCatholic; a sober tone, a careful tone, a tone which read deeply and with understanding in the Fathers and looked to Byzantium and beyond as well as to Rome.

I know I surprised some readers and enraged others not long ago by describing Benedict XVI as the first Anglican Pope. But I believe it is wonderfully providential that it falls to this man to raise his fellow-Anglican John Henry Newman to the Altars of the Church. Have you read the Ordinary Teaching that this pope gives week by week? His sympathetic exposition of the Fathers of East, West, Syria? When you read his own theologising, can you avoid a feeling (I can't) that you are reading one of the Fathers; that you have picked up a volume of Migne ... you aren't quite sure whether it's from the PG or the PL, and you're even less certain which volume it might be, but anyway, that's the corner of Bodley that you're sitting in, and out of the window there's Newman's Church of S Mary, with his college of Oriel just beyond. And it is very easy to feel that it would be the most natural thing in the world to raise your head from your desk in the Patristics Room and see, in the chair opposite you, the diffident, erudite face of Professor Ratzinger, verifying a reference or two before hitching an ancient MA gown round his shoulders and scuttling through the traffic in the High back to his lodgings in Tom Quad.

Anglicanism as some self-important separatist codswallop that prides itself in its separation from the Successor of Peter: let's flush it away fast. But then the cry can go up: "Anglicanism is dead! Long live Anglicanism!"

18 October 2017

Newman on the Suspense of the Functions of the Magisterium

Speaking only on my own, individual, behalf, I have to say that I feel very let down by PF's apparent decision not to reply to the Correctio Filialis which I together with others sent to him at the Domus Santa Marta last August. I retain to the full my feeling of the proper respect due to the individual who currently occupies the Petrine See, but in human and affective terms, his apparent view that I and so many others are not worth bothering with introduces a sense of hurt and pain, if not alienation. I am sure that there is a providential purpose in all this, and I pray that I may be enabled ever more profoundly to embrace the humiliations permitted by the Divine Will.

The decision of PF not to fulfil the Petrine mandate to confirm (sterizein) his brethren, is a striking event not easily paralleled. And a refusal to respond to formal requests can hardly not itself constitute a formal act. So I turned, as surely we in the Ordinariate instinctively do, to our beloved Patron Blessed John Henry Newman, quo quis doctior, quis sapientior?

"... the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission  ... at one time the pope*, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils*, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ... I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years ..."

I am testing in my thoughts (doing what we colloquially call "sleeping on it" or "thinking aloud") the possibility that PF's decision to ignore the cries for help which are sent to him, whether by Eminent Fathers of the Sacred College or by nonentities like me, may be seen as formally constituting the beginning of a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in "temporary suspense"; in a vacatio which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ as formally returns from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith.

If readers want an expansion of my way of thinking, I refer them to the masterly address on Apostasy delivered last week at the Buckfast Fatima Conference by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could! Incidentally, I suspect that the Conference ... and, not least, Cardinal Burke's powerful address ... may go down in history as one of the significant moments in the recovery, the 'fight-back', of orthodoxy.

As if to confirm my thoughts, in the last few days PF is reported to have contradicted another of the Church's teachings: the teaching with regard to Capital Punishment; and to have done so not obiter or in an airliner but formally, reading a written text to one of those "Pontifical Councils" which absorb so much money and effort. This suggests to me that PF has himself consciously stopped even bothering to remain within the parameters set by the Magisterium to which he is as much under an obligation to submit as anybody else. The current careful formulation of the Church's teaching with regard to the Death Penalty, which PF said he wants changed, is precisely twenty years old. A "Magisterium" which contradicts itself every twenty years is not a Teaching Authority to which many people are likely seriously to consider themselves obliged to give assent. (I say this as a strong opponent of the use of Capital Punishment in modern states.)

I can see no present grounds plausibly to speculate that PF's divagations from orthodoxy will in future tolerate any restraints. It is as if, having discovered himself at the bottom of a hole, he has decided that the only thing to do is to keep digging with redoubled energy. Or, like the Duke of Wellington in the Fifth Act of the Battle of Waterloo, perhaps he is saying to the world "In for a penny, in for a pound"! Or does he think that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb? Will his parting gift to the Church Militant be a ringing endorsement of the homoiousios? En pote hote ouk en?

By joining with Newman in this analysis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their office. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not using it. I am certainly not suggesting (and I do not believe) that this Suspense makes any difference whatsoever to the status or powers of the current occupant of the Roman See or of other bishops. Those who argue that PF has forfeited his See, or that his Election was for any reason void or voidable, are, in my judgement, talking piffle. (Quae sit huius verbi etymologia quaero. Num verbi 'pontificalis'  depravatio est?)

I shall not consider comments which ignore the paragraph immediately above this.




Note: Newman is referring to Pope* Liberius; and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So ... not applicable to Vatican II!

17 October 2017

Buckfast

There can't be many institutions in the Kingdom of England which go back to 1018 ... as Buckfast Abbey does! Westminster seems like a New Boy on the Block in comparison. After the Henricean Interruption, the great monastery was rebuilt in the last century by French monks, on the same foundations and with the same River Dart running noisily but cheefully beside it.

When I turned up there for last week's Marian Conference, I had not realised that next year there are going to be massive celebrations for the Buckfast Millennium. These are to include ... Patrimony, Patrimony ... an event for the incumbents and churchwardens of Anglican parishes which belonged to Buckfast in the Middle Ages. (For my daily Mass, Dom Thomas Regan had very sensitively assigned me the twelfth century chapel of S Michael, where, I was told, the local Ordinariate group offers the Holy Sacrifice.)

When I was a tiny boy, so I recall, I was struck, visiting S Alban's Abbey, by the paintings of the Crucifixion on the West faces of the Nave pillars marking where the Altars had been for the Morning Masses. That is where the altars are for that same purpose at Buckfast. Much use of them was made last week by clergy attending the Conference.

But if, like me, you haven't been to Buckfast for some decades, what will strike you will be the incredible (research via the Search Engine and you will discover I don't often employ that hyperbole) make-over the Abbey Church has recently received. It looks ... just ... spectacular. Go and see! Find out what the Millennial Year has to offer you! Incidentally, 24-27 November this year, 2017, there is to be a big Vocations Weekend. I can think of nowhere better to go in order to listen to God, if you have any thoughts of living the Rule of S Benedict in an Abbey with a long history and which is also deeply rooted in the present because of the ministry it daily offers to the many thousands who flock there.

Dom David Charlesworth, the Lord Abbot, very kindly gave me some of his time telling me about the work of restoration. You wouldn't be disappointed if you only went there to look at the floor. The temporary floor left by the monks who did the original work has been replaced by square Purbeck limestone tiles; a stone so exquisite that it seems to generate light.

But this floor is but a taster for the Sanctuary floor. Those who have 'done' Westminster Abbey will remember the 'Cosmati' floor there and will recognise the magnificence of the floor at Buckfast. They will be further edified to be told or to read that the circular stones near the High Altar were originally given by Lord Elgin and came from the Temple of Diana of the Ephesians. What a very biblical floor! And there is purple stone from the Imperial Porphyry Quarry in Egypt. 'Nuff said!  

16 October 2017

Married Clergy

There are some signs on the Internet of the ordination of married men to the presbyterate of the Latin Church becoming a talking-point.

Just for the record: the practice of ordaining married men who had formerly ministered in Separated Western Ecclesial Bodies did not originate in the post-Conciliar period, nor was it introduced in order to favour ex-Anglicans.

It began in 1950, at the direction of Pius XII, and embraced former Lutheran pastors.

Fatima

What a splendid few days we had at Buckfast sharing and learning with regard to our Lady's Fatima messages! A gifted young priest from Bishop Egan's diocese, Dr Serafino Lanzetta, crafted and held together a variety of contributions with an immensely sure touch. It was fun to make so many new friends as well as to meet again with already friends. Our dear Cardinal Burke was welcomed with evident and warm enthusiasm by the Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O'Toole, who kindly gave a morning to the Conference. Professor de Mattei ... Fr Houlden ... Fr Finigan ... Dr Thomas Crean OP ... Fr Duffield ... et ceteri ... if you didn't attend, what a scintillating gathering you missed. Don't make the same mistake in 2117!

The flower-decked feretory from which the Theotokos of Fatima presided was, I gather, constructed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate from London, whom I much enjoyed meeting. There can't be many Reverend Mothers whose academic careers began on the Playing Fields of Roedean and journeyed through Mechanical Engineering into the sunlit uplands of Marian festivities! God preserve them in their wonderful Tracchia Mariana and their devotion to the Mass of Ages! They know full well that her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Tomorrow, some words about Buckfast Abbey.

15 October 2017

Intercommunion; tedium

German (ex-)Catholics have recently held a joint communion service with Protestants. It is causing some controversy. Boring. Mega, mega, boring.

In 1913, Anglicans in the Kikuyu area of Kenya held a joint communion service with Protestants. This, of course, led to great controversy. Eventually, a couple of years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand statement which subsequently Dix wittily summarised as meaning that the event had been immensely pleasing to God but must on no account be repeated.

We of the Patrimony do get bored seeing some "Catholics" making the same mistakes that our predecessors made more than a century ago. Tedious. Why can't they think up some new mistakes of their own? Why do they have to tag tardily along behind Anglicanism? Have these daft jokers no imagination?

Why can't they have some compassion for our high boredom-threshold?

Copenhagen

It seems a long time ago now ... but it's only a fortnight. Yet again, I was graciously invited to Copenhagen to sing Mass for the Latin Mass Group, and to meet them socially. It is a great pleasure to meet again with old friends ... and a privilege to admire their growing families! And, not least, I am moved by the friendship and hospitality of Mgr Czeslaw Koslon, Bishop of Copenhagen, who not only allows me to say my morning EF Mass in his elegant domestic Chapel, but even serves it for me! I bet not many presbyters have had their Masses served by the President of an Episcopal Conference!

This recent visit was the last occasion in which I shall stay in the Bishop's House, because the Church is relinquishing the lease and refurbishing a large ecclesiatical complex, formerly Jesuit, in the centre of the City. It will have flats for his Lordship, his Vicar General, accommodation for Franciscans ...

Ulf, who knows everything, kindly spent Saturday taking me round the Danish and Nordic Art section of the State Museum of Culture. We live in an age of highly expensive blockbuster international exhibitions, yet many of us ... I mean me ... know practically nothing about the art of other European countries in their own terms. Delving into the art of another country, one also gets sidelines on ones own. A portait might make one feel "If that were in the Wallace Collection, it might be by Boucher" or "That could be by Fuseli".

And how many people on the top of a Clapham omnibus have even heard of Thorvaldsen?

14 October 2017

Pope S Agatho the Good ... and heretical popes

S Agatho's Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. Larger, I think, than some 'Ecumenical Councils'. He was summoning it (Bede H.E. V 19) adversus eos qui ... dogmatizabant. This Synod was held against a doctrinal error that had just arisen: against those who dogmatized that there was but one Will and Working in the Lord our Saviour (i.e. Monothelites). But the Holy Father did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

Inevitably, there was an Englishman in Rome and inevitably that Englishman was S Wilfrid. This indefatigable missionary tended to find himself embroiled in rows, and his instinct on such occasions was invariably the same: go to Rome. (After all, if one got there fast enough, the Holy See only heard one side of the story!)

So S Agatho invited Wilfrid to join in his synod so as to benefit from his thinking and his erudition ... NO: not a bit of it; Wilfrid was invited to speak his Faith, in other words, to make formal confession of his orthodoxy; but not of his own merely personal Faith: that of the Province or Island from which he came. His adherence to Catholic orthodoxy was incorporated into the Acta Synodi: "Wilfrid, the God-beloved Bishop of the City of York ... was set in the seat of judgement in Synod with his 125 coepiscopi; and, in the name of (pro) the whole Northern part of Britain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles and Britons, and also the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith, et cum subscriptione sua corroboravit."

The confidence with which S Wilfrid spoke for so much of (what in Irish scholarship is now neatly called) the Atlantic Archipelago, and for the orthodoxy of thousands of Scottic monks who had never met him and, had they done so, might have had strong things to say about his Paschal Mathematics, may well take our breath away. But I want to point out what this Synod was for.

A heresy had arisen, and a previous pope (Honorius I) half a century before had actually promoted the error. Heresy is a very grave matter; but a Pope is there to condemn it. Just think of what a massive ecclesial disorder is involved if the pope himself actually favours the heresy and uses his office to spread it. 

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

That is why, on this blog, he is known as S Agatho the Good.

The next pope, S Leo II, confirmed the Conciliar condemnations.

When will there be a Pope Agatho II? Domine, exaudi et miserere!