18 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (1) Archbishop Lefebvre

By popular request, and since quite a few churches still celebrate Christ the King on the Sunday next before Advent, I am making available an old series on this subject

As we approach the great Festival of Christus Rex, I am reminded of Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title. When I first read that volume, I was struck by a great sense of familiarity ... combined with an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity.

The familiarity? The understanding of Society which I found on his pages is radically similar to what, for most of its existence since 1559, would have been seen as the distinctive mark of Anglicanism ... yes, even more so than 'episcopacy' or 'Patristicism'. I invite readers to let their imagination take them back to the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution or the Catholic Revival; to the Squire and the Parson (each of them probably 'two-bottle men', or better) drinking to "Church and King" or "Church and State". The understanding was that the Crown defended the Church, and the Church upheld the Crown (a view that Gallican Frenchmen might have shared). There had been a decade of hiatus in the middle of the seventeenth century; but that had become just a bad memory. True, there were ambiguities after the Dutch Invasion; as Squire and Parson raised their glasses together, perhaps the candlelight glinted on some words etched into the glasses ... Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittaniae ... and perhaps there was a bowl of water on the table ... and perhaps Sophie Western in her lofty bower heard the drunken voices downstairs rise in song to 'bless our King ... soon to reign over us' or to peer into a future 'when the King shall have his own again'. But the implicit ideology, of a Christian state, of a 'realm', lay beneath it all as a solid foundation.

In this sense, if you wanted to call classical cultural Anglicanism 'Lefebvrian', people might find you rather eccentric but you could make a strong case for your eccentricity, as long as you made it clear that you were referring to the old 'High and Dry' churchmen more than to the new enthusiasts of the Tractarian and Evangelical movements.

The unfamiliarity? A vivid scene described early in the Archbishop's book: we are inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where the painter David has been prostituting his skills in the interests of a new ideology, and has turned from oils to papier-mache; instead of the altare Dei and the August Presence, there is a 'mountain' with a 'Greek' temple, occupied by an agreeable petite danseuse deemed to be the Goddess Reason and surrounded by her associates singing 'hymns'; then a small gathering moves off to the Assembly so that its President can embrace 'la Deesse'. The date? 20 Brumaire, in the Year II. The Capetian uncrowned, the Redeemer dethroned, the very Calendar remade.

British Society has never since 1660 experienced quite such a brutal and total moment of discontinuity, which has marked the whole of later history and has bequeathed such rigidly defined polarities. If Britain had done a deal with Hitler in 1941, Buckingham Palace might very probably have been occupied by Wallace Simpson and a bevy of German Advisers, but EDWARDUS VIII DEI GRATIA REX INDIAE IMPERATOR would have appeared on the coins, the royal standard would still have fluttered from the flagpole, and there would have been a continuity of outward forms.

French history, on the other hand, has been marked by repeated discontinuities in the rituals and the forms, so that under Marshal Petain the Revolutionary motto and symbols in their turn give way to coins inscribed Travail Famille Patrie and bearing a Gallique Francisque. I am inclined to feel that an Englishman has little hope of understanding Lefebvre (or possibly many other Frenchman) if he fails to understand this.

His Excellency the Archbishop described 'the social doctrine of the Church' thus:  
"Society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, the enterprises and trades, then the professional corporations, finally the state. The corporations unite employers and workers in the same profession for the protection and the promotion of their common interests. The classes are not antagonistic, but naturally complementary".
You could call this ideal 'Corporatism' and recall with distaste that it appealed to Mussolini; or 'Toryism' and remember that as early as 1749 Henry Fielding was ridiculing it as old-fashioned; but it has broad links with the Catholic High Medieval Society which John Bossy described in the 1980s and the disappearance of which the Anglican 'Radical Orthodox' Catherine Pickstock lamented as the basis of modern, atomised, individualism.

Our more gradual British revolutions and our shyness about disturbing inherited symbols deny us the clarity afforded to Frenchmen by the almost comic abruptness of their own episodic cultural transformations; but have we not now all ended up in very much the same place?


To be continued.

17 November 2017

The local Calendar

This week we really are at home, here at Oxford, in the Divine Office. Yesterday, I wrote about S Edmund of Abingdon, here both as an undergraduate and later as a don; and I quoted the old Breviary Mattins reading, written by that admirable example of the Anglican Patrimony, Nicolas Harpsfield. Harpsfield's Historia Ecclesiastica was written while he was imprisoned by Henry Tudor's bastard daughter Elizabeth. A (Wyccamical) member of this University, and a protege of S Thomas More, he spent the bad days at Louvain and flourished (and was very effective) as Cardinal Pole's Archdeacon of Canterbury. He was elected Prolocutor of the "Great Convocation" of 1559, which, in the very days when Elizabeth Tudor's Parliament in Westminster was busy 'abolishing' the Mass and the Pope, met down the river in London and courageously upheld in its Five Articles both the Mass and the Petrine Ministry. In a typical final stroke of public witness, Harpsfield held a last Corpus Christi procession through Canterbury in 1559, surrounded by vast crowds of the devout (on June 9; a fortnight before the Act of Uniformity took effect on June 24). He was not part-time either as a Catholic or as a scholar.

Today, we have S Hugh of Lincoln (which diocese medieval Oxford lay within); who certainly consecrated the church of S Giles in this city in 1200. On the occasion of this visit to Oxford, he instituted the Giler*, still the largest fair in England, which at the beginning of September occupies the whole of the broad thoroughfare called S Giles' Street, North of the North Gate.

S Hugh is best known among the narrators of 'romantic' tales because he noticed that the body of Henry II's paelex [the word used in today's old rite Mattins readings] Rosamund Clifford, had been buried in the sanctuary of Godstow Priory and had become something of a flower-covered popular shrine (this mob adulation post mortem of an unchaste royal glamour-puss is curiously redolent of the bizarre cultus of Diana Spencer). Accordingly, he ordered that it should be removed and reburied outside in loco profano**.

Happy times ... when ecclesiastics were willing to mark their disapproval of the public adultery of kings and magnates. Nowadays, nobody is much surprised if a Prince of Wales actually goes through a form of marriage with his paelex. An Archbishop of Canterbury will even grace such an event with his presence. And who can blame him, given the compliance of Dr Cranmer in every royal whimsy?

The 'romantic' can still visit the ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite the Trout, a favourite undergraduate pub in our days but now unhappily devoid of either 'character' or 'romance'.

*Giles = Giler; traditional Oxford slang. Cf. Proctor = Progger; Breakfast = Brekker; Queens = Quaggers; Jesus College = Jaggers; etc.. Soccer (for AsSOCiation Football) and Rugger survive nationally.

** I wonder if S Hugh wrote Latin Elegiacs? Some phrases survive of an inscription in that metre on her tomb, which I will very loosely paraphrase in English: "Rosa munda is supposed to mean clean rose, but this specimen was distinctly filthy. She used to have a very nice smell, but now she just ... smells".

Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a learned lady ... I wonder if she had a reason for giving the name Rosamund (interpreted by Sayers as rosa mundi) to the sexually unwholesome murderee in Thrones, Dominations?

16 November 2017

For Classicists ...

There is an interesting internet correspondence going on concerning Leitourgeia. Does it, as we are often told by a certain school of modern Catholic liturgical 'experts', mean "Work of the People"; or "Work for the People"?

Nobis in hoc exsilio, Sancte Pater Edmunde ...

R Caelestis patriae amorem, quaesumus, infunde.

Ad Magnificat et Benedictus Antiphona Dilexit justitiam et odivit iniquitatem, propterea moritur in exsilio.

[Holy Father Edmund, we beseech thee to pour upon us in this exile love of our heavenly homeland. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore he dies in exile.]

These are 'proper' parts of the Divine Office (Breviarium Romanum, Appendix pro Dioecesibus Angliae) for today, feast of S Edmund of Abingdon (Abendonia, in the Breviary reading) Patron of this Diocese. It is a good day to pray for the Diocese of Portsmouth and its thoroughly admirable, orthodox, bishop, Philip Egan, a definitely extraordinary ordinary. Come to think of it, every day is a good day to do that.

S Edmund's education was divided between the great Abbey in Abingdon, and the 'schools' in Oxford (where he later taught ... er ... I think he may also have visited Paris ...). We live between these two towns; Oxford has quite good libraries, and I go to Abingdon to do bits of shopping in Waitrose and to pick up my free coffee and newspaper. There's not much to see of Abingdon Abbey; as far as Oxford is concerned, I think the only surviving buildings upon which S Edmund's eyes may have rested are the Castle and the Church of S Michael at the North Gate. (Incidentally; the Breviary naturally gives the locative of Oxonia as Oxoniae; the Oxford University Press has always used the form Oxonii. Well, there you go.)

S Edmund became Archbishop of Canterbury; he was involved in disputes, not only with the Chapter there, who were the usual lot of troublesome monks, but also with the King. He died at Pontigny, probably on his way to Rome to deal with the legal cases in which he was involved. He is still to be venerated in his shrine there.

The parts of the Divine Office at the head of this piece remind me of S Paul's rather pointed observation to his Philippian converts ... Philippi had the constitutional status of a Roman colonia , which meant that its citizens possessed citizenship of Rome. They were obsessively proud of this, so S Paul reminds them not to think about earthly things, epigeia, but to remember that their politeuma is situated in the heavens.

We are all in exile until we reach our patria; and the knowledge that our true Passport Office is at a heavenly address ought, I rather think, to discourage us from making too much of a fetich of the fairly modern concept of the Nation State.

15 November 2017

Why is the post-Conciliar Catholic Church so antisemitic?

I don't blame the Council; there is nothing, as far as I am aware, in any of its documents to justify all the antisemitism which followed in the trail of the Council..

The Council did not mandate the dreadful reduction in the amount of psalmody in the Divine Office. It did nothing to encourage the untraditional, unorganic revolution of inserting "New Testament Canticles" into the Vespers psalmody, thereby reducing its psalms from five to two! And the Council encouraged the community celebration of the Office ... yet how many Catholic Churches  have Vespers on Saturday or Sunday evening? (God bless the Oratorians!) How many even of regularly  practising Catholics have ever attended Vespers, with that moving offering of Incense in memory of ... no; in continuation of ... the Evening Offering in God's Temple? Sicut incensum in conspectu tuo ... It is as if there has been a concerted plot to rob Christian clergy and laity of their consciousness of their essentially and gloriously Judaic identity.

The Council ordered that the Faithful should be given a richer diet of Scripture; and it is true that, in years following, an Old Testament reading was tacked on to the Sunday Epistle and Gospel. But the price that had to be paid for this somewhat external and artificial alteration was the eviction of the more integrated and ancient structural elements which were lost during the process of 'reform'.  The ecumenical twelve readings of the Easter Vigil had been reduced to a pitiful four (or fewer); the Pentecost Vigil, the Ember Days, the Lenten 'stational' weekday series of lections from the Hebrew Bible, all needed to disappear. The quiet, daily insistence of the Eucharistic celebrant, as he stood at the foot of the Altar, that he was going up to God's holy Hill of Sacrifice, treading in the footsteps of Abraham and Isaac and the Family from Nazareth and entering God's tabernacula, was ruthlessly expunged.

The Council did not abolish the Roman Canon ... indeed, if the Conciliar movers and shakers had even hinted that this was the direction they were moving in, I bet enough of the Fathers would have risen in rebellion to prevent their plans. So, fifty years ago, every devout presbyter of the Latin Church, every morning, explicitly remembered and renewed and fulfilled the sacrifices of God's Righteous Boy Abel, and our Patriarch Abraham, and the High Priest Melchisedek; he offered the tamid lamb for God's People and looked for the Salvation which was to come from the East. Nowadays, only an eccentric minority of clergy, out of favour with the current regime, take such words upon their lips. How many, indeed, of the clergy and laity out there in the 'Mainstream Church' are even aware that Holy Mass is a Sacrifice? How often does anyone remind them of it? How much awareness is there that the very heart of Man's commerce with the Divine, even before and outside the Mosaic dispensation, was and is sacrificial?

Our great Anglican Benedictine mystagogogue Dom Gregory Dix, who daily prayed the Canon of the Mass, memorably wrote of "that mighty and most necessary truth, the majestic tradition of the worshipping Church, the rich tradition of the liturgy unbroken since the Apostles, and beyond - beyond even Calvary and Sion and the Synagogues of Capernaum and Nazareth, back to the heights of Moriah and Sinai and the shadowy altar on Ararat - and beyond that again".

And now we are told that the Council is 'finally' being implemented ... by a pope who attacks the Torah, God's Holy Law! Who has spoken about "the Torah with its quibbles [cavilli]". Indeed! Quibbles!! I will not repeat what I have written about such antisemitisms in my paper included in Luther and his Progeny, Angelico Press; I situated them in the context of the unbroken and deplorable tradition of Lutheran and Protestant antisemitism since the sixteenth century.

Traddiland is in many ways a strange country; persecution may indeed have driven us into eccentricity! But, at least, we have preserved, against all the odds, the basic DNA, the fundamentally Hebrew grammar, of the Christian Faith. Nobody will be able ever to take that boast from us.

14 November 2017

Double standards (2), (3), and (4)

It is difficult always to be certain what PF has said, because throughout his pontificate there has been a persistent risk that he has been misreported or misunderstood. I prefix that very important caveat as I continue to list amusing examples of Double Standards.

(2) PF told Cardinal Mueller that he had decided not to reappoint curial officials after the expiry of their five-year term. Mueller was to consider himself to be but the first victim of the new convention.

There seem to be uncertainties about whether PF has been applying this norm uniformly ... or, indeed, at all.

(3) PF talked loudly about Parrhesia in the distant days when he hoped it would encourage Synodal Fathers to say what he wanted to hear them saying. It is rumoured that he has more recently been much more reticent about uttering the pi word.

(4) PF is described as favouring Subsidiarity especially in the new exciting sense of allowing Germanophone hierarchs do do whatever they like. But ...
    (a) a few months ago, a Roman Instruction stripped diocesan bishops of the right to authorise new religious communities within their jurisdictions without the prior inspection and sanction of the Congregation for Religious.
   (b) a draft document did the rounds in Rome, according to which young clergy in the Roman Colleges, whoever are the ordinaries of the home dioceses that pay for their education, would be required to concelebrate rather than being allowed to get into the disgusting habit of saying a daily private EF Mass. [Does anyone know what became of this proposal?]

4 a & b are very understandable. The great renaissance of Catholicism which began in the last decades of the 25-year Wojtyla-Ratzinger dyarchy disproportionately influenced the young of both sexes. Hence, the demise of old communities now reduced to impotent senility was accompanied by a mushrooming of young religious orders which either prefer the Old Mass or, with a broader menu, elevate the Old Mass to optable equality with the New. Hence also the growth of vocations to the Sacred Priesthood in the Ecclesia Dei communities but, much more strikingly still, also in the Church at large. This has led to a new phenomenon: young priests who for pastoral reasons do willingly say the New Mass (although not necessarily always with the ritual options most fashionable in the 1970s), but who derive their ars celebrandi from the Old Mass which is their personal gold Standard; and who will, if pastoral needs do not demand otherwise, instinctively say their daily private Masses according to the Old Missal.

It is not surprising that there are those for whom these new cultural manifestations are less than unambiguously welcome. Now an older generation, but still luxuriating on the emotional highs of the late 'sixties, they peer from under their dear drooping eyelids into the faces of the young. Is it remarkable that they discern in those faces the sure prognostics of their own transience?

13 November 2017

"Little boys should be allowed to wear tiaras!"

Thus, the Church of England's Education Department, nobly defending the rights of Anglican transtoddlers.

Now we know why all those "I'll pope as soon as I qualify for my pension" clerics are still hanging on in what Blessed John Henry so felicitously referred to as the House of Bondage.

Ahhhhh ... the simple pleasure of seeing Fr A, Fr B, and Fr C, not to mention the Right Reverend episcopopters, entering Church to the sound of Tu es Petrus, each wearing his triregnum! I simply can't wait!

Just for once, the beneficent and omnicompetent Mr Luzar may be incapable of supplying instantly all their needs!!!!

12 November 2017

S Willibrord's Little Rome

The Saints of England, God bless them, do seem rather to tug at our maniples these days as we struggle up to the Altar. There was November 8, preserving a shadow of the old Octave Day as we celebrated in the Ordinariate the very agreeable Feast of All the Saints of England. Last month, the cardinale volante Raymond Burke went to Puginopolis, aka Ramsgate, to seal the Shrine Relic of S Augustine into a splendid new reliquary. Recently we kept the feast of S Willibrord ...

At a time (597) when the Roman Rite was, fairly simpliciter, the Rite of Rome, the Augustinian Roman Mission planted Little Romes in England; places where the dedications of churches mirrored those of Rome; where the Liturgy was Roman; where the education was Roman. A second wave of missions took this Anglo-Saxon Romanita across to Northern Europe. Which is why S Willibrord, via Northumberland and Ireland, ended up being consecrated Archbishop of the Frisians by Pope S Sergius I, and setting up his cathedra at Utrecht.

Those Anglo-Saxon Churches were comfortably, even aggressively, papalist; which makes it all the more preposterous that (for example) an Anglican 'Society', designed to shelter those who disdained Pope Benedict's gracious ecumenical offer, should award itself the patronage of S Wilfrid! S Willibrord was similarly kidnapped much earlier by a group advocating close links between the schismatic Dutch 'Old Catholic Church' (now depressingly ultra-liberal, but possessed of orders regarded by Rome as valid), and the Church of England.

This link produced an initiative in the 1930s designed to circumvent the condemnation of Anglican Orders by the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII. By mutual interconsecrations, the 'Old Catholic' and English Anglican episcopates were ... this was the explicit intention ... woven together into one "so that even the strictest romanist will not be able to doubt Anglican Orders". The C of E, half a century later, gave up this ingeniously intricate attempt to render its priestly orders equivalent to those of the Catholic Church; it formally declared that its own orders were, after all that trouble, despite all the ink spilt rebutting Leo XIII, worth no more than those of Methodists and Lutherans! Yes; it is a strange body!

But the point of this rather rambling blogpost is to disentangle our own dear S Willibrord, the real Willibrord, from all those weird goings-on and to draw your attention to the wonderful pictures on the Internet of the Church of S Willibrord in Utrecht, which is being blessed and brought back to use this very day by His Excellency Bishop Fellay (a man who has risen in my esteem since he so wisely signed our Filial Correction). That superb, soaring church (not unworthy of Pugin) will be an inspiring restoration of Anglo-Saxon Romanita North of the Alps; a Little Rome up there among the foggy boggy mists of the Low Countries to console the Faithful as a pledge of the Faith's return in full and glorious expression to the queenly city upon the Seven Hills where an immigrant from the Middle East once made an act of Martyrium.

We must all make the most of our Little Romes!

11 November 2017

Bishops: a "courage deficit"?

Those who use the Liturgia horarum found themselves today saying the very jolly hymn by S Odo, abbot of Cluny (d 943), 'Martine par apostolis', which notoriously moved Peter Abelard to call its opening hyperbole a 'praesumptio'.

S Odo's fourth stanza originally concluded:

monastico nunc ordini
iam paene lapso subveni.

The 1968 revising coetus, aka Dom Anselmo Lentini & Co. Ltd., commented that the first of these lines needed to be broadened and, as far as the second is concerned, 'evidenter mutandum' (Oh yeah?). So they came up with:

pontificum nunc ordini
pio favore subveni.

Isn't all this fun? I began by feeling that, given the collapse of the Religious life in the First World, perhaps the original would again now be apposite. Then I recalled all the Good News regarding the current vibrant revival of the Religious Life. So I started toying instead with the idea of adopting just one of Lentini's proposed changes, so that the text would read:

pontificum nunc ordini
iam paene lapso subveni.

But, given the unwillingness of ... shall we say, just a few? ... the Successors of the Apostles to speak clearly and frankly about the disfunctions in the current flow of the River Tiber, perhaps the following would, if you will forgive an uncharacteristic lapse into modish jargon, tick all the boxes:

pontificum nunc ordini
En! paene merso subveni.

10 November 2017

Splendid News!

Apparently, John Paul I is going to be made a Saint! About time, too! After all, he was a pope!

I believe one account of the dying words of our late Sovereign Lord Vespasian offers us

"Vae! Puto, deus fio!"

After all, he was an emperor!

Jonathan Sachs

A brilliant Thought for the Day on the BBC Home Service Today Programme by Rabbi Lord Sachs, about Freedom of Speech. Sparkling, vivid, scintillating.

It comes just after a good bit on the aulos, by Armand D'angour, Fellow and Mods tutor at Jesus College in this University, at around 1hour 40 minutes into the programme.

Lupi Rapaces

The first antiphon which we say or sing tomorrow at Lauds for S Martin of Tours shows his disciples asking him not to desert them because Rapacious Wolves will invade his flock. (I wonder why that antiphon went missing from the Liturgia Horarum.)

Rapacious Wolves are always around. Look at (via a Concordance) the New Testament. Look at (via its index) what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Scandal and those who cause it. (A lady wolf was involved in the very Foundation of Rome, and the Romans sometimes referred to Professional Ladies as Wolfesses.)

Wolves were around at the very beginning of the Pontificate of our beloved Holy Father Benedict XVI. In the homily at his inauguration, he asked us to pray for him "that I may not flee for fear of the wolves".

I believe S Thomas talks somewhere about Wolves being demons; or tyrants; or heresiarchs. Is it true that the Patron of the Diocese of St Gallen is a St Lupus, or did my ungoverned sense of fantasy just make that up?

Englishmen will recollect a diverting frivolity in rebus lupinis. We once had a politician called Sir Geoffrey Howe; quiet and very unnasty. So much so that his despisers said that being attacked by him was "like being savaged by a dead sheep". Eventually, even he discovered that he could take no more of Mrs Thatcher, and decided to resign. People ... and not least Mrs T ... assumed that his resignation speech would be characteristically anodyne. Not so. The House of Commons became quiet enough for that proverbially cadent pin as he tore savagely into her personality and her politics ... but still in the same mildest tones.

Not long after, he was ennobled, and went, as one does, to Queen Victoria Street to consult the Heralds about a Coat of Arms. In consultation with them he settled upon his design, which was granted. The Crest (the Crest of a Coat of Arms is the bit on top of the helmet which itself rests above the shield) which he received was ... a Wolf courant imperfectly concealed within a rather tatty sheepskin. I bet you Americans wish you had a House of Commons, a House of Lords, and a College of Heralds.

Wolves are always around; they're nothing new in the life of the Church. Perhaps some keen young Catholic academic would like to write a doctoral dissertation De Lupitate. She could bring her narrative right down to the present day.

I hope her sleep will not be disturbed by the howls.

9 November 2017


The Winter article to which I referred a few days ago, not only attacks Fr Weinanandy, but also berates Cardinal DiNardo and the USA Episcopal Conference. Winter thinks that their response to Weinandy was weak.

Actually, on reflection, I can't help feeling there is a little something in this. DiNardo does talk about dialogue and does refrain from angry personal remarks about Weinandy. Moreover, being 'sacked' as a Consultor of the Doctrine Commission may be rather a sweet martyrdom. Father will be spared boring chores arising from an episcopal tendency to kick troublesome balls into long grass by referring them to the Commission. He will have more time now to get on with his own stuff! Like Cardinal Mueller, he may even feel less inhibited!

As Father wrote, the Bishops of the world have mostly been extremely quiet. Some of those who have said the bolder things are among the younger bishops; men whose age and current position means that, when the natural time comes for their next move, we are likely to have entered into a new pontificate. I have, throughout my own career, several times noticed with amused interest how little auctoritas a principal seems to retain when he is known to be in his last year or so!

When the Cardinal Secretary of State can go public with the opinion that PF's critics do deserve an answer, the evidence suggests that the tide is not flowing strongly in PF's direction, and that even 'top people' are starting to hedge their bets or to distance themselves.

I urge readers to keep their heads and to do anything they can to ensure that the momentum ... rolls. We are getting somewhere; the pressure on PF is mounting. There are signs of real panic in partibus adversis. As PF's defenders become fewer and more nuanced, perhaps we should detect a growing apprehension among some of them that it might not do their own careers much good in the next pontificate to have been too loudly explicit in this one. And PF's determination to follow up Amorislaetitiagate so quickly with Luthergate and deathpenaltygate and liturgygate may suggest that he is himself panicking at the thought of not having time to fulfill his ambitions and those of his cronies.

Believe me, they're on the back foot. Control of the agenda seems to be slipping from their grasp. Fewer and fewer thoughtful observers are confident that PF is a safe pair of hands.


8 November 2017


A good piece over there on onepeterfive about Pastoral Fear.

Some attacks on the Filial Correction have jeered at us on the ground that "not many people signed". When I consider the BULLYING that goes on in the Catholic Church, my reaction to these nasty jibes is DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY.

How do you tell whether liturgical change is 'organic'?

Some years ago, while looking through the library of the late and learned and very lamented Fr Michael Melrose, Successor Martyris as Vicar of S Giles, Reading, I spotted an unusual little volume (well, there were plenty of those: what a Library!): very slender, published in 1912, it gave the Psalter as rearranged by S Pius X. In other words, when S Pius made his revolutionary changes to the distribution of the psalms, you didn't have to buy a new Breviary; you bought the Slender Volume and used it in conjunction with your old Breviary.

But you did have to make some such provision to say the psalms in the new arrangement. The Decree Divino afflatu makes clear that if, after a certain date, you fail to fall in with the new order of things, you are not fulfilling your obligation to say the Divine Office. Fierce!!

In this, it differs considerably from the decree Divinam Psalmodiam of Urban VIII (1631). Urban's decree is full of fire-breathing menaces for anybody who shall print unamended texts after the decree, but he permits books already printed to go to the booksellers ... and books in the bookshops to be sold ... and books in use to continue to be used. In other words, Urban was content to rely on a gradual process of books wearing out and being replaced.

Something like this human and common-sense approach can be found as late as 1902 in the Edition of the Ambrosian Missal promulgated that year by Andrew Cardinal Ferrari. He required his new edition to be used "in virtute sanctae obedientiae", but with this let-out clause: "Concedimus tamen, aequis de causis, ut donec a Nobis aliter disponatur, vetera approbata exemplaria adhuc adhiberi possint; ita tamen ut nullum eorum ex quocunque titulo abhinc acquiratur ad Sacram Liturgiam peragandam". In other words, if you've got a previous edition in your sacristy, you may continue to use it, but you mustn't "acquire" another copy of that old edition.

It is my view that a rough but good and healthy rule of thumb as to whether a 'reform' is or is not 'organic' [vide Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II] is the consideration: Does it render all existing liturgical books totally obsolete after a certain date? When people defend the process of imposition under Blessed Paul VI of his new books by reminding us that changes had been made in earlier times, I don't think they realise the depth and rapidity of the Pauline rupture, compared with pre-1950 discontinuities. The same is true, of course, of the slash-and-burn approach adopted by Pius XII and his side-kick Bugnini to the ancient Roman rites of Holy Week.

Nobody is entitled to disagree with me about this if they have not compared, firstly, the Missal of S Pius V with the first printed edition of the Roman Missal a century earlier; and, secondly, the Missal of B Paul VI with that promulgated by his predecessor less than a decade earlier.

And there is no way that the printers could have confected a Slender Volume aided by which you could use an old Missal to say the Novus Ordo. The changes are vastly too massive.

And yet, curiously, although B Paul VI's decree Laudis Canticum was explicit in displacing and suppressing the Breviary hitherto in use, his decree Missale Romanum did not state that the Old Mass would be illegal after the New came into use. Was that an oversight? Did the canonists drafting it think that it was too obvious to need saying? I suspect that something like this may be the answer.

My theory is that this funny little lapse was the ground upon which a Commission of Cardinal canonists decided by a majority vote that the Old Missal was not abrogated - a verdict finally published and confirmed in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

7 November 2017

Double Standards (1): Pope Francis answers Dubium!!!

Pope Francis has replied to a plea for an answer to a question, and has done so within SIX WEEKS!!

A well-known theologian has commented with immense joy, pointing out how wonderful it is  

"that Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears";

"that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the secretary of state";

"that he clearly read the appeal most attentively";

"that he is highly appreciative".

Who is the theologian? Hans Kueng. What was his appeal? That PF would allow free discussion concerning the doctrine of papal infallibility, which Kueng has spent a lot of his life attacking.

Kueng wrote to PF on March 9 2016; his ecstatic press statement describing PF's reply was released to The Tablet on April 27 2016.

Papal Infallibility is a dogma solemnly defined by an Ecumenical Council, Vatican I, in 1870. Its teaching included anathemas against those who denied the doctrine.

Kueng says that PF "set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom ..." etc. etc..

This gripping news broke some weeks before the recent spate of Internet papers by court theologians arguing that documents like Amoris laetitia require a more obsequious acceptance from the theological community than they have in some quarters received.

So ... assuming that Kueng has not been telling naughty porkies ... on the one hand, obsequious submission is required; on the other, the whole fundamental substructure of the Petrine Ministry is up for grabs!!

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Double standards (2), (3), and (4) are due to follow.

6 November 2017

A Pope and the Liturgy: Non Potest

Following on from my post about possible dangers to sound Liturgy arising from PF's own personal liturgical fads and his dirigiste instincts, I want to draw to the attention of readers two loci of Magisterial status. (I presume that readers are already familiar with what the then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy, when he criticised the hyperpapalism which, after Vatican II, played on an erroneous assumption that the pope can do anything. This, of course, could be argued to be non-Magisterial.)

The two places that I wish, very briefly, to draw to your attention are full exercises of a Papal Magisterium.
(1) In the Letter to the Bishops which accompanied Summorum Pontificum, pope Benedict XVI wrote "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Notice the expression cannot. The learned pontiff says, not "should not be"; he says "cannot be".

(2) I suspect Ratzinger of being responsible for drafting paragraph 1125 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although, of course, it was promulgated with the force of an Apostolic Constitution in 1992 by Pope S John Paul II.

The second sentence of this paragraph begins with the phrase "Ipsa auctoritas Ecclesiae suprema [Even the supreme authority of the Church itself]". This is a phrase commonly used, especially at Vatican II, of the Pope himself (although surely it would also apply to an Ecumenical Council). Next comes "non potest [is not able]". I ask you to notice that we do not have "non licet" ["he is not permitted"], nor do we have a jussive subjunctive ["he shouldn't do it"]. What is being excluded is being excluded as an impossibility. Just as S John Paul II excluded the sacerdotal ordination of women as an impossibility (nullam facultatem habere).

The sentence in the Catechism continues: "liturgiam ad placitum commutare suum [change the Liturgy in accordance with his own fads] sed solummodo in oboedientia fidei et in religiosa mysterii liturgiae observantia [but only in the obedience of the Faith and in the religious observance of the mystery of the Liturgy]."

In other words, if a pope were to attempt to change the Liturgy in accordance with his personal fads, he would be acting ultra vires. And so his attempt would be null.

I suspect we would have to go back to the principled and glorious teaching of Vatican I (Pastor aeternus) to find as clear and forthright a Magisterial statement of what a pope is not competent to do!

My apologies to readers who recognise this as the theme of a paper I have read in a number of places during the last five years, sometimes under the title "Can the pope abolish the Vetus Ordo?". I am willing to dig it out and update it and come and read it again if anyone else wants to hear it!!! Anywhere in Europe! Just my expenses!

5 November 2017


Almost at the very end of the press conference to 'present' Amoris laetitia, a young woman, who, I think, was sitting next to the erudite Professor Roberto de Mattei, was allowed to ask a question. Unlike most of the hacks and hackettes, Diane Montagna asked a question ... an appeal for "clarification" ... "everybody wants to know" ... which was very short and totally to the point. She just wanted to know whether there was anything in this new document which contradicted paragraph 84 of Familiaris consortio. The question went for answer to some Austrian called von Schoenborn. He repudiated strongly the idea that there could possibly be a contradiction. But he proceeded to explain that Doctrine develops.

The Austrian gentleman referred us instead to Blessed John Henry Newman's Essay on Development. I think anybody who wants to be up-to-the-minute should reread that brilliant tour de force. Remember, incidentally, that the Blessed did not write it as a guide to how future curial spokespersons, by a neat conjuring trick, could present Change as Non-change; but as an analysis of how in fact Catholic Doctrine had in the past developed while remaining true to type.

Newman shared with S Paul the advantage of not being an Austrian aristocrat.

When Pope Francis was later asked about the coherence of Amoris laetitia, he replied by referring us all to this 'Introduction' by von Schoenborn, whom he described as a great theologian and a former secretary of the CDF. (It is a mercy that Vatican I, in defining the Primacy and Infallibility of Roman Pontiffs, did not claim that they had good memories with regard to the Curricula Vitae of their associates.)

I have recently been repeating some previous posts making clear what the Church has formally taught about DEVELOPMENT, in a Magisterium which begins with a phrase of S Paul's which was then taken up by writer after writer, pope after pope, Council after Council, until our own time.

The phrase is

                                EODEM SENSU EADEMQUE SENTENTIA.

People ought to chant this at PF whenever he .... er ... 

New readers might like to read back over these old articles of mine, which I usually published at 5 in the afternoon.

4 November 2017

Argumentum ad hominem UPDATED

UPDATE: The Bibliography attached to the Wikipaedia entry suggests that the "modern" usage is not found earlier than 1986; and that the Lockean meaning still held force in Fowler, 1926. Whoever wrote that entry appears not to have heard of Locke or to have read much literature from before the 1990s. This exemplifies another cultural problem: the erecting of barriers between the ages. C S Lewis attributes this to the activity of devils. It probably also exemplifies a decline in the study of the Classics. Another C S Lewis point ...

I seem to keep seeing, day after day, the phrase Argumentum ad hominem misused. A recent example occurred in Fr Tom Weinandy's otherwise splendid Letter to PF.

People use it now, apparently, to mean "a personal attack". That is, when you attack somebody in a violent and deeply personal way, rather than arguing politely and rationally about a question in hand. That is how Fr Tom uses it; his point is that PF and the Bergoglians refuse polite dialogue and simply hurl nasty hate-filled personal abuse around. And, of course, he's dead right. That is exactly what they do. But this is not what Argumentum ad hominem means.

Well, language changes. If enough people use Argumentum ad hominem in this incorrect sense, then I suppose one will, regretfully, have to stop calling it wrong. Usage validates. Every philologist knows that.

But I think it is a great shame that an elegant and well-observed description of a certain sort of precise argument is being taken over and forced to mean something crude which is totally different. Something useful is being lost in the field of human discourse, with no apparent compensating advantage that I am capable of discerning.

And ... I am sorry to be personal!! ... I greatly mistrust the motives of some who misuse the phrase. I think the poor things sometimes do it because they think it sounds fine and dandy to say something in Latin. I think saying something in Latin, when you think it means something quite the opposite to what it really means, is embarrassingly pretentious and, to be frank, a display of ignorance. Why not just say "You are making this attack rather personal"? What harm is there, for heaven's sake, in speaking English? It's a very respectable language ... the language of Jane Austen and Ronald Knox and C S Lewis and etc.etc..

So what really is an Argumentum ad hominem? A proper one, in its true native habitat?

Here is Locke's very neat definition: "To press a man with consequences drawn from his own Principles and Concessions".

I've written about this before, giving examples from Socrates to Newman. You could find my earlier blogposts via the search Engine attached to this blog, sub voce Argumentum ad hominem ... if you were interested.

3 November 2017

Gimme money!

Don't miss this ... a wonderfully, miraculously funny piece of hysteria in The National Catholic Reporter by an individual called Michael Sean Winters, screaming his abuse at Fr Weinandy. It is a classic, a real winner!

One little factual query. Winters says that the opponents of PF (opponents whom, incidentally, he appears to invite to leave the Church or at least her Ministry) are "well-funded and very noisy". If he would count me in this category, I would have no problem about being deemed "very noisy".

But "well-funded"? My wife and I live off our Church of England pension, with one or two modest additions. 

"Well-funded"! How do I get my hands on all this limitless loot which is apparently swilling around? Who dispenses it? To whom should I make application? Why has nobody told me about this before? How is a poor convert supposed to know about this eldorado if nobody tells him?

I want money! And I want it now! Just tell me whom to ask! 

November 5, is the Feast of the Holy Relics

However, this year, the Feast is displaced by a Sunday. But does that prevent homilists from expounding its themes at the Sunday Mass? After all, modern custom is to identify Sunday mainly with the Resurrection, and Resurrection is what the Feast of all the Holy Relics preserved in our churches is really about. (And the Mass can be said as a Votive on any free day ...)

What a wholesome liturgical instinct this festival represents. In the medieval English rites, it tried out various dates; May 22 or the Monday after the Ascension at Exeter; the Sunday after the Translation of S Thomas (July 7) at Hereford and Sarum - although Sarum notes that 'nuper' it occupied the Octave Day of our Lady's Nativity, with an appropriate Collect "Grant we beseech thee Almighty God, that the merits may protect us of the holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary and of thy Saints whose relics are kept in this church ...". The traditional Benedictine rite keeps this festival on May 13, presumably a learned allusion to the Dedication of the Pantheon in Rome, upon this day, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. Before the reforms of S Pius X, this festival was to be found among the Masses For Some Places on October 26, or on the Last Sunday of October.

After S Pius X, the Feast of the Relics settled, most appropriately, onto a day within the Octave of All Saints, November 5, where it was observed by papal indult in certain places (often as a Greater Double). The colour to be used is red. This is consistent with the fact that the Office is the Common of Many Martyrs, despite the fact that not all the Saints whose relics we this day venerate were martyred. Perhaps we may relate this usage to the primitive notion that the Martyrs are the prototypical saints; that the unmartyred sancti et sanctae in a sense just piggy-back along upon the martyrs.

The Sacred Congregation of Rites sometimes felt tempted to turn to Byzantine sources to get a richer mixture than one always finds in formal Western texts (Sessio xxv of Trent is sound enough on the relics but a trifle sober). So the proper lections at Mattins for this feast are taken from that always-reliable Doctor of the Church S John of Damascus (Fr Eric Mascall once observed the propensity of Roman liturgists to resort to Eastern sources whenever they felt moved to say something 'extreme'). "For since Life itself and the Author of Life was numbered among the dead, we do not call those who finished their last day in the hope of Resurrection and of faith in Him 'Dead'. For how can a dead body utter miracles? Through relics the devils are cast out, diseases sent fleeing, the sick healed, the blind see ..." etc. etc.. The Collect is a fine composition which likewise sees the miracles performed through the relics of Saints as pledges of the Resurrection: Increase in us O Lord our faith in the Resurrection, who in the relics of thy Saints dost perform marvellous works: and make us partakers of the immortal glory of which our veneration of their ashes [cineres] is a pledge.

This celebration disappeared from Church life in the post-Conciliar period, for presumably the same reasons that at the same time caused the Jesuits, who then occupied the Church of S Aloysius in this City, to have a massive bonfire of all the relics and reliquaries in their splendid Relics Chapel (Fr Bertram's elegant booklet about those events reminds one uncannily of the similar things which happened throughout England in the late 1540s ... mercifully, the gracious spirit of S Philip Neri has now restored lost glories by filling the Alyoggers Relics Chapel with a grand new collection).

This feast is, in my view, rich in themes for evangelical preaching and teaching, and ripe for wider revival. It teaches the goodness of material things against a false 'spiritualism'; it preaches the ultimately indissoluble link between Body and Soul against the sub-Christian notion that only the soul really matters; it proclaims the transforming eschatological glory which will clothe this perishable with what is imperishable, and this mortal with what is immortal, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

2 November 2017

Liturgical Arts Journal

Older readers will remember with affection the name of Shawn Tribe who, back in the days when Liturgical Restoration was just beginning, founded the blog New Liturgical Movement.

Mr Tribe is at it again! The Liturgical Arts Journal is now up and running, with website, facebook, and twitter presences. It cannot but be good!

Fr Weinandy

I very much regret that I have never met Fr Thomas Weinandy, whose letter to PF has just been published. He is a distinguished American theologian; he was in Oxford for a decade or two and his reputation was high when I came back here later than his return to America. He was Warden of Greyfriars, a Permanent Private Hall of the University, and for a time Chairman of the Theology Faculty.

The fact that the American Episcopal Conference, within minutes, sacked him from being a Consultor of their Doctrine Committee must indicate that America is awash with brilliant theologians. If that Conference really can so easily do without someone of his standing ...

It must also indicate that the USA Episcopal Conference is dominated by very little men. God bless the dear little fellows.

This cheap and vulgar ritual humiliation exemplifies the extent to which PF is presiding over a bully-boy Church in which midget bishops and minicardinals compete to defeat each other in the sycophancy stakes. Just as Tom Weinandy has, in effect, just said.

The young Weinandy was taught at Kings, London, by the great Anglican Thomist Canon Professor  Eric Mascall, which gives him a link with our great Anglican Patrimony. I like to think that his action redeems the honour of the American Church, just as the courageous lecture given in August by Fr Aidan Nichols redeemed that of the English Church. Nichols is an Oxford man (Cardinal College) and Weinandy is Oxonian by adoption, so I feel that dear S Frideswide Universitatis specialis adiutrix must be quietly satisfied that, despite the demonic spirit of secularisation at work in modern Oxford, some of her lads have turned out good during this unparalleled crisis in the Church Militant. Floreat Oxonia.

1 November 2017

Joseph Ratzinger

Happy All Hallows! May the Saints pray for the whole stae of Christ's Church Militant here in Earth. We need you!

This is a slightly unusual post which some people ... probably rightly ... may consider in bad taste.

Archbishop Gaenswein has described the life of emeritus pope Benedict as flickering away like a candle flame. Please God, he may yet live to give service to the Church. Back in 2013, some unwholesome individuals were already gleefully anticipating his funeral ... one of whom has actually just cheerfully suggested that Ratzinger should now campaign in support of PF! "Brazen", did you say? But nobody lives for ever. If his death is within sight, it seems to me that there are some practical points which it might be useful to make.

It will be an occasion for grief but also for retrospectives. The Media love retrospecting! It will also be a time in which even some of the nastier specimens in the bilge water of the Barque of S Peter will by convention put their gut hatred temporarily on hold. Joseph Ratzinger may, for a week, become in death more audible!

It seems to me that this should be an occasion for emphasising and showcasing what we think is important about his distinguished pontificate; not simply out of nostalgia and affection but with an eye on what needs to be emphasised for the good of the Church's ongoing life. It is my view that any of us who have any sort of entree into the Media world should have given some sort of forethought to this question.

Secondly, I have a suspicion that PF, out of a thoroughly commendable sense of decency, has not liked to savage elements of Papa Ratzinger's legacy too obviously while his predecessor is still alive. And I doubt if he would wish to do so on the very morrow of his death. But there is some evidence that PF is aware of his own mortality, and might not wait as long as he would wish before doing some spoiling. We must also not forget his unfortunate tendency to be easily influenced by some immensely dodgy people.

'Liturgy' springs to mind; and not least the position of Cardinal Sarah, around whom the Wolves ... and probably the Vultures as well ... have been circling for some time. It is rumoured that he was appointed by PF on a recommendation of Papa emeritus Ratzinger. Repeated and rather nasty public humiliations by PF have happily failed to persuade His gutsy Eminence to behave like an Anglo-Saxon and fall on his own sword. I wonder how long his heroic service to the Church in his present lonely role will survive Joseph Ratzinger's death.

Sarah, Liturgiam authenticam, and Summorum Pontificum are treasures which the Church can ill afford to lose. And they are what the Wolves particularly have their eye upon.

31 October 2017

Traditional Catholics in the Baltimore area...

... Ordinariate news!! Mount Calvary Catholic Church, centre of a flourishing Ordinariate Group, is being erected into a parish of the Ordinariate. Bishop Lopes, Ordinary of the Chair of S Peter, will celebrate Pontifical High Mass (ORDINARIATE RITE) at 4.00 on Saturday 11 November. During Mass he will consecrate the Altar, and seal into it a relic of S John of the Cross.

Mount Calvary has taught and practised the Faith since 1842; its first Vicar, Fr Alfred Curtis, was received into Full Communion by Blessed John Henry Newman himself, and subsequently became the second Bishop of Wilmington.

It sounds a jolly area; the Shrine of S Alfonso Liguori (FSSP); and America's first Catholic Cathedral, our Lady Assumpta, are not far away.

All Hallows' Eve

A lovely day, in which the Roman Liturgy, with its beautiful Mass of the Eve, or Vigil, of All Saints, sets up a big marker against the heathen puerilities of "Hallow Een". And carries forward the themes of the Social Kingship of Christ. I am sure that both clergy and devout laity enjoyed this morning the texts of this Mass.

Except that most of them didn't. What a shame that Vatican II, or the Novus Ordo, abolished it. Just another example of all that has been wrong since the 1960s.

Except that the Vigil of All Saints was not abolished by Vatican II (or by the undoubted vandals who did use "Vatican II" as a dishonest excuse to ignore what the Council did actually mandate).

No; this lovely Vigil was abolished by Pius XII, hero-pope of a certain sort of Traddy!!

Pius XII it was who employed Hannibal Bugnini and began the deformation of the Roman Rite, years before Papa Roncalli had any notion of summoning a Council. They began by interfering with the rites of Holy Week.

If, in a second-hand bookshop, you spot an old pre-1950 Missal going cheap, snaffle it up!

30 October 2017

Christ the KING: Tom Wright's view

Many readers of this blog will not have heard of Tom Wright. A former don in this University, he was made Bishop of (the prestigious see of ) Durham, because of his formidable academic reputation. After ... I think ... seven years he joined that distinguished number of heavyweight Anglican intellectuals who've either turned down episkope or else abandoned it after a short trial to return to academe. He is an Evangelical but has 'broadened' (when he was Chaplain of Worcester College in this University, he used to waggle incense around). He tries to understand the Catholic Faith, but, not having experienced it from the the inside, often gets things wrong. His books on S Paul and Pauline doctrine are very well worth reading. (Don't bother with For all the Saints, because he gets the Catholic/Orthodox cult of the Saints wrong.)

Tom is no fool. Writing about the adoption by the Church of England of the feast of Christ the King on the Sunday Next Before Advent, he objects because "this particular novelty ... gets it completely wrong. It presses all the wrong buttons. It completes the job of pulling the Church's year out of shape. Once again, more is less. This "feast" devalues other feasts and occasions ... by concluding the implicit story-line at the wrong point, thereby throwing out of kilter the narrative grammar of the whole story. It implies that Jesus Christ becomes King at the end of the sequence, the end of the story, as the result of a long process". So it devalues Ascension Day. It is, he opines, "like trying to eat the Christmas pudding first and stir it afterwards".

Actually, I wonder if the Feast of Christ the King may be up for review in more circles than one. Traddies very naturally prefer the intention manifested by Pius XI, that the Festival should be closely associated with the Feast of All Saints. I gather that all this stuff about Kingship appeals less and less to some Trendies, because they would rather think of the Lord as a Servant and all that sort of stuff. And people soaked in good old Anglican Patrimonial traditions miss Stir up Sunday. And people whose Patron Saint is S Andrew can't celebrate their Patron when he occurs on a Sunday and, of course, are prevented every year from celebrating his External Solemnity on the Sunday.

Does the current Novus Ordo treatment of Christ the King really make anybody happy? Pragmatically, you're more likely to have good enough weather for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of October. And the Pius XI date at the end of October would help to provide a bit of an antidote to the commercially-inspired 'Hallow'een' spookfest. Best of all, it provides a Christian alternative to Reformation Sunday.

Rather like Pius XII's clever idea of making May 1 the feast of S Joseph the workman, the November date for Christ the King has never really bedded down into the mentality and popular culture of ordinary Christians. Clever ideas quite often don't. Because Liturgy is, after being the property of the Almighty, the property really of the plebs sancta Dei, God's common ordinary folk, not of chaps with clever ideas who write learned papers about Inculturation but treat Liturgy like a gamesboard on which they and their chums are entitled to move the counters around.

29 October 2017

Post Scriptum to Bishop Roche

PS I have just remembered a highly Ecumenical liturgical suggestion made in 1955 by an Anglo-Catholic priest called Fr Hugh Ross Williamson in a book called The Great Prayer. This book was reissued, by the way, in 2009 by Gracewing, accompanied by a warm commendation from Bishop Alan Hopes, now the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, and a member of your Lordship's Congregation for Divine Worship.

Fr Hugh wrote about the Canon of the Mass, "the first Eucharistic Prayer" as some people call it nowadays, in the following words:
" [T]he Canon today is not only the prayer for unity within the Church itself. The sects which have sprung up since the Reformation could all unite in saying the Canon. There can be nothing in the doctrine implied there from which any presbyterian or congregationalist or methodist could dissent, for no dissenter disagrees with the Catholic Church on the question of the original Christianity St Augustine brought to England. There is in the Canon only the teaching of the primitive Church (for, of course, Gregory the Great only put the finishing touches to prayers which had slowly developed or hardened into particular forms from apostolic times) and nothing whatever of 'late medieval accretions' against which the reformers inveighed. The Canon had already been in use, in its present form, for six hundred years before 'transubstantiation' was defined in 1215. ... in knowing the Canon, we become grounded in the teaching of the primitive Church which Protestants no less than Catholics accept, and so we may find that the Lord's table, despite all the controversies which have disgraced his followers, is indeed the centre of unity."

Isn't this exactly what your Lordship's committee is commissioned to search for? At least one member of your committee, Mr Andrea Grillo, is certain to go along enthusiastically with this proposal! 

Best wishes ...

... to all readers on this joyously triumphalist Feast of Christ our King; but especially brother priests. I wonder if, like me, you find the Breviary propers provided by Pius XI quite exhilarating. Not least the extracts from Quas primas.

Not everybody knows this: while the Novus Ordo dumps the important bits of the Pius XI Collect for Christ the King, the Church of England retains it in a faithful and elegant translation. Perhaps the C of E was a little more faithful to the Vatican II mandate that liturgical changes should only be made if "vera et certa utilitas Ecclesiae id exigat", as well as to the admirable directions of Liturgiam authenticam with regard to the style of liturgical vernaculars.

Today's Sunday Slot on the Home Service seemed to be preoccupied with Martin Luther instead of with Christ the King. They had even sent some Anglican bishop to Wittenberg, presumably at the licence-payer's expense (I didn't leave the wireless on long enough to find out whether the Right Reverend gentleman went round the town setting fire to synagogues as instructed by the fraterculus). Suddenly there came into my mind the powerful words of Blessed John Henry Newman, when he protested formally in 1841 against the Jerusalem Bishopric scheme:
" ... the recognition of heresy, indirect as well as direct, goes far to destroy" the claims "of any religious body ..." and "Lutheranism and Calvinism are heresies, repugnant to Scripture, springing up three centuries since, and anathematised by East as well as by West ...".

It is surely the duty of Ordinariate Catholics never to let their fellow Catholics forget the teachings and counsels of Newman, so directly relevant to the errors of this twenty first century. This is what we are for!!!


28 October 2017

IS the Magisterium in crisis?

 Here is an old post; I have chopped off a section on Humanae Vitae
                                        CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to Capital Punishment, if that is the only possible effective way of defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.

Doctrine develops, evolves, is nuanced. But it must always be eodem sensu eademque sententia.

So, under S John Paul II, the Magisterium, after reiterating the traditional teaching, went on to teach us (CCC 2267 citing Evangelium vitae 56) that in our time, given the resources at the State's disposal, such occasions are rare, even very probably non-existent. 

How can anyone find fault with that prudential judgement? Most certainly not I. All power to that Great and Holy Pontiff's elbow.

Recently, however, we have been told that Capital punishment is "inadmissable, no matter how serious the crime committed", and "an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person"; that "Thou shalt not kill has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty"; and that "even a criminal has the inviolable right to life". "Absolute", mark you. And "Inviolable".

I do not see how all this is eodem sensu as the Traditional teaching. I do not see how it is a development eadem sententia from CCC 2267. It is a novel theologoumenon which in fact contradicts the Tradition.

I view Capital Punishment with quite as much personal revulsion as the Holy Father does. When I read about the Death Rows and the botched executions in a handful of North American states; about the gentle delicacy with which the Chinese shoot their convicts so as not to damage organs which can be profitably 'harvested'; I feel both very angry and uncomfortably sick. But his and my revulsion is not the point.

Perhaps one should make allowances for the fact that Jorge Bergoglio spent his middle years in a barbarous land in which thousands were 'disappeared' and many more tortured under a murderous and corrupt military dictatorship (to the downfall of which my own country may have made some small contribution). 

But when every allowance is made, the Magisterium is not an arena in which the Sovereign Pontiff is entitled to attach the prestige of his office to some personal enthusiasm. 

Let me conclude by sharing with you my very own daring view about all this stuff.

I do not, I am afraid, believe that the Holy Spirit was given to Pope Francis, or to any other pope, so that by His revelation they can put out some new doctrine, but so that (with the Holy Spirit's help) they can guard and set forth the Tradition handed down through the Apostles ... what we call the Deposit of Faith.

Does this bold admission put me beyond the pale?

Dear Bishop Roche

My dear Lord Bishop

There are credible report on the Internet that you are chairing a group commissioned by our Holy Father to draft a form of the Holy Eucharist which could be used by Catholics and Protestants (and Orthodox and Copts etc. etc. etc., I take it?). Accordingly, I thought you might find it helpful if I shared with you the experience of the Church of England, which I witnessed for more than fifty years. As you will know, that body is an uneasy coalition of every known version of Christianity from the Tridentine to the Zwinglian, and so it has had much experience in the last century of attempting to square this particular circle.

The game started, substantially, in 1927/8. A form of Eucharist was devised which was intended to be acceptable to nearly all tendencies within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. It was turned down by Parliament, but the bishops made it clear that since it had been given the approval of the Church, they would permit its use, and would make to cease all liturgical practices which "went beyond 1928" (they meant the liturgical life of papalist Anglo-Catholics who used the full Roman Rite in either Latin or English). Notwithstanding this episcopal encouragement, "1928" attracted very little use, and after 1945, the situation had dramatically changed. In particular, a Dom Gregory Dix had published an enormously influential book, The Shape of the Liturgy, which transformed our attitudes to Liturgy. If "1928" enjoyed a fitful and spluttering half-life in a few 1930s churches, for, let us say, about 15 years, it was certainly a dead letter after the War.

My dear lord Bishop: we both know that Liturgy is a subject in which fashions, both academic and cultural, do change with some rapidity. Like me, you have only one life on this planet; are you really sure you wish to devote very much of it to confecting a Liturgy which in a couple of decades will be a laughing stock, as "1928" was in the 1940s? Surely there are more useful ways an intelligent man can spend his time ... fly-fishing ... the Times Crossword ...

Since the late 1960s, English Anglicans have resumed the game of composing liturgies. The process has been bedevilled by the unwillingness of Conservative Evangelicals to allow any texts to be authorised which they consider unbiblical. It is not that anybody has ever wished to force them to use any liturgical forms to which they themselves objected; it was a matter of other people having the permission to use various alternatives. Your lordship could peruse the lengthy published debates of the English General Synod. Or perhaps there is a less time-consuming process you could use. Let me ... I hope, helpfully ... explain the background.

Evangelicals used to claim to be the authentic voice of the Church of England as set forth in its official formularies. But during the latter part of the twentieth century, a new fashion arose. Some Evangelicals gave up relying on the Anglican formularies; instead they began to call for something much more radical: "the Completion of the Reformation". In the context of world-wide Anglicanism, this newer policy is particularly associated with the Anglican Metropolitan See of Sidney in Australia.

My suggestion to you would be that, once your committee has created a first working draft, you should not waste time going through it with a fine-toothcomb. Instead, send it immediately to the Archbishop of Sidney and ask for his wise guidance. You will find that Conservative Anglican Evangelicals are immensely knowledgable with regard to which liturgical words and phrases currently lie under the Divine Veto, and every bit as generous about sharing that knowledge.

Your lordship's obt servt and child

John Hunwicke

PS follows tomorrow.

27 October 2017

Development (5)

A phrase of S Paul, in one of the earliest documents of the Church's Magisterium, was, we have seen taken up by S Vincent of Lerins in his insistence that development in Doctrine must be eodem sensu eademque sententia. In the last couple of centuries it has been transformed, by repetition, into a central plank of the Magisterium. Two Ecumenical Councils and a succession of Roman Pontiffs have done this. You will find it in Ineffabilis Deus, by which in 1854 S Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It appears in the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican I Dei filius (at the end, just before the anathemas). S Pius X's Pascendi Dominici gregis repeats (para 28) these words of Dei filius in its treatment of Modernism, and the phrase was incorporated into the Anti-Modernist Oath taken by all clergy until 1967. After S John XXIII used it in his highly significant and programmatic Address at the start of Vatican II, it was repeated in Gaudium et spes (para 62), and S John Paul II, interestingly, extended its use from Dogmatic to Moral Theology in Veritatis splendor (para 53). And, if the Rule of Believing really is established by the Rule of Praying, then eodem sensu eademque sententia is right at the heart, not only of Vatican II, but also of the 'Spirit of Vatican II' as enunciated by the post-Conciliar liturgical changes: the crucial passage from the Commonitorium of S Vincent of Lerins is ordered to be read each year in the Liturgia Horarum (Week 27 of the Year, Friday). It is not surprising that Pope Benedict cited these words in his programmatic Address to the Roman Curia in 2005.

Fifteen hundred years ago ... and, if the world endures, fifteen hundred year from now, when Pope Francis XVI during some crisis or other is busily writing a Post-Synodal Exhortation ... it was and will be as true as it is today that the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed on through the Apostles, can only ever exist, can only ever be expressed, so that it comes to Christ's People with the same sense and with the same meaning.

Mueller getting into his stride ...

"They believe the pope is infallible when he speaks privately, but then when the popes throughout history have set forth the Catholic Faith, they say it is fallible".

Lifesite News provides an elegant English translation of a fine article by Gerhard Cardinal Mueller. The sentence above encapsulates the root problem of Bergoglianity ... its papolatry, its corrupt hyperueberultrapapalism, its gleeful insistence on rupture within the Church's sacred continuities.

Mueller's article is about Luther and the Reformation. You must not miss it. You will not read anything better in this "Luther Year". And it is particularly apposite as we approach what some, appallingly, call Reformation Day.

Luther was evil. His legacy has been even more evil. And it has corrupted the daily teaching of PF, largely because he does not understand it.

I beg you also to read my own paper explaining all this in Luther and his Progeny, Angelico Press. 

There are a lot more fine articles, too, by even finer writers, in that volume!

26 October 2017

Canonisation again

Fr Zed refers to King Alfred, who is indeed commemorated on October 26 in modern Anglican Calendars. Here is a piece I published in 2014.
In 1441, I think, King Henry VI wrote to Pope Eugenius IV enquiring how the Cause for the Canonisation of King Alfred the Great was proceeding. Since then I have been daily on tenterhooks wondering whether the Holy See has responded, or, if it hasn't, when it will.

Throwing out some encumbrances from my library, I hit upon an old Northampton ORDO (2007, I think) in which October 26 shows "Feria; or St Alfred the Great, King and Confessor - op.mem. (white)".

Does this mean that, only a few years ago, the Court of S James's did receive the much-delayed reply from Rome canonising ... I suppose, equipollently ... King Alfred? Or did the then Bishop of Northampton decide that since Alfred was a first millennium worthy, it would be licit for him as a diocesan bishop to canonise Alfred despite the legislation of Pope Urban VIII reserving such decrees to Rome? Is this eventuality covered by the treatise on the subject by Benedict XIV?

Oh! ... I've just noticed another odd thing ... Alfred is decribed in that ORDO as "King and Confessor". But since the post-conciliar reforms eliminated the title 'Confessor' from the descriptions of Saints in the Sanctorale and Calendar, the canonisation, whether it happened in Rome or in Northampton, must predate the 1960s.

Very mysterious. Can anyone help?

People "who ought to know better"

Since, mysteriously, the full text of Fr Aidan Nichols' Cuddesdon lecture will not be made available, we must make the most of the passages which the Catholic Herald published.

By the way: that lecture is highly important, and not only because of Dr Nichols' considerable theological prestige. It addressed the points that some of us did our best to articulate in our Correctio. I do beg you to read and reread it, and to pass its teaching on to as many people as you can.

Today, I give you Fr Aidan's words on whether popes can teach error.

"It is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly ... this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better."

"Doctrinal howlers". Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has recently reminded us ... aptly ... of the abrupt observation of S Robert Bellarmine to the pope of his day: "Holy Father, you know nothing about that."

25 October 2017

Development (6)

Again, that phrase which was used by Pope S John XXIII in his address opening address to Vatican II, but which was mistranslated in the English translation put out at the time (the error survived into the Abbott translation of Conciliar texts). Those same words were also used by Benedict XVI in his highly important Address to the Roman Curia in which he laid out his Hermeneutic of Continuity (the English translator made a mess of it by treating Abbott's translation of the Conciliar texts as accurate). Here is the phrase:
                                  EODEM SENSU EADEMQUE SENTENTIA.
It means:

In whatever ways the Faith is expressed; however new its presentation; whatever theological refinements and developments may be the gifts of the centuries ... it must always be a formulation with the same sense and the same meaning.

To be blunt, these words irritated - and irritate - those who see Vatican II as constituting a rupture with the past. This phrase makes clear that Catholic teaching is essentially unchangeable, even though the Church's understanding of her inheritance grows ever more mature. Eodem sensu eademque sententia is a red rag to any and every errant and heterodox bull. Where does it come from? What degree of Magisterial weight has it acquired over the centuries? What does it mean for us in the present crisis?

S Vincent of Lerins (c434) is often given the credit for this elegant and lapidary affirmation of continuity and identity within Catholic Tradition. Less often do people point out that he seems to have got it from S Paul. We had better look at S Paul's words and their context. And don't forget that, in terms of Magisterium and Authority, Scripture has gallons and gallons of it.

Given the sense of urgency with which the Man from Tarsus felt he had to teach the Gospel to the whole oikoumene, it is hardly surprising that he repeatedly received information that a crisis had arisen in an imperfectly formed ekklesia from which he had just moved on. So it was undoubtedly with a sense of deja vu that he sat down to dictate a letter to his Corinthian converts hoping thereby to repair the damage just reported to him by Chloe's People. He beseeches them dia tou onomatos tou Kuriou hemon Iesou Christou (notice this explicit insistence on his Apostolic Magisterium: "through the authority of the Lord's Name"), to "say [legete] the same thing, all of you"; to eschew schismata; and to be "fitted together [katertismenoi]" in (RSV) "the same mind and in the same judgement". S Vincent read this in his Latin Bible as eodem sensu eademque sententia; S Paul had written en toi autoi noi kai en tei autei gnomei.

 S Paul is urging the Corinthians to a synchronic unity. It is not be a vague pluralist unity in which different, even contradictory, statements can be judged, "deep down", to mean the same. To auto legete pantes, he insists. He requires a unity manifested in verbal identity. And, for a subsequent Christian generation, diachronic unity - 'vertically' down through the history of the Church - is going to be just as important as the 'horizontal' unity within the universal Christian community at a particular time. So S Vincent of Lerins very properly expanded the reference of the phrase so that it described the development of Christian doctrine generation by generation. But it never ceases also to retain its original Pauline synchronic reference; in Origen's Homily 9 (which is included in the Liturgia Horarum as a reading for the Solemnity of the Dedication of a Church); and most recently when Paul VI aptly quoted I Corinthians 1:10 in Humanae vitae. 

 In its synchronic sense (all Christians now should say the same thing) it is a powerful antidote to any rubbish about Sophisticated Germans having a more Nuanced Faith than Uneducated and Superstitious Africans. In a diachronic sense (all Christians throughout the ages should say the same thing) it has had a long and important dogmatic history.

To be continued.

Pronunciation ... roughly ... ay-OH-dem  SEN-soo  ay-ah-DEM-kway  sen-TENT-si-ah 
(but say the 'ay' syllables quickly.)

Fatima, Apostasy and the Tail of the Devil

In 1977, Blessed Paul VI, on the sixtieth anniversary of the last Fatima Apparition, said this: "The tail of the Devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church, even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the Faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church".

I know some of you chaps out there sometimes feel a bit dubious about Blessed Papa Montini, but, really, faced with words of such prophetic discernment, how can you maintain your reservations? Come on!

By the way: have you yet read Cardinal Burke's very fine Buckfast Address on ...  Apostasy? If not, you jolly well ought to get on with it ...

Apostasy is a word we ought to be more willing to do business with. The beginning of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England is commonly dated to 1833, when  blessed John Keble preached a sermon on "National Apostasy"! Very Patrimonial! Immensely Prophetic!

24 October 2017

Ecumenical Agreements

"Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae fidem Catholicam exprimit, quam Ordinariatus sodales profitentur". So says Anglicanorum coetibus. Accordingly, the CCC is an integral part of the structural grammar of the Ordinariates ... wired into their DNA, as people curiously say nowadays.

How appropriate is it for PF unilaterally to change this document? But he has recently said that he wishes it to be changed. Has he consulted the three Ordinaries? News of such consultation has not reached me.

If the Catholic Church subsequently signs an agreement to re-establish canonical links with the XYZ Church, will a later pope be able to change that agreement, and to do so without any sort of previous bilateral consultations with the XYZs?

Some of the hyperultraueberpapalists have argued that Amoris laetitia is Magisterial, and hence binds in conscience. Have these individuals explained to the XYZs and to the Church's other Partners in Ecumenical Dialogue that, should they sign up to Unity, they would be obliged to accept de Fide papal diktats issued by this or a subsequent pope without bilateral agreement?

Or is it their thinking that for those already in canonical union with the See of S Peter, a more draconian system of demanding assent to the whimsies of each successive pope can be required than will be asked of the XYZs when they enter into unity?

How would such a system, in any case, be possible? If the XYZs were in Full Communion with the Catholic Church, then a member of the Latin diocese of Outopia who disagreed with some particular recently imposed papal eccentricity, could abandon Outopia and join the XYZs ... and still be within a fully Catholic Particular Church, but one in which the eccentricity concerned would not demand assent.

When PF goes around embracing leaders of Churches and ecclesial bodies, does he whisper in their ears "Of course, while I very much hope you will come into unity, if you do so you will need to understand your obligation to accept whatever novelties I or my successors unilaterally and suddenly promulgate"?

Or is there a bizarre and gigantic hiatus between PF's frothy ecumenical enthusiasms, and his tyrannous and tight-lipped treatment of his own subjects, together with his absolutist praxis of changing doctrine and practice?

This pontificate has seen the wilful attempted imposition of doctrinal novelties upon the Catholic Church; some of these have contradicted teaching explicitly repeated by previous popes as little as a decade before. If I were Superior of the SSPX, I would sign no agreement with the current regime unless the Society were therein assured complete liberty in law to choose its own Superiors; and had all its property legally secured in such a way that no power in Rome ... or anywhere ... could get their hands on it.

These are no less dangerous times than when the Wolves were let loose on the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

23 October 2017

Development (7)

Pope Benedict XVI gave us an admirable piece of advice in his celebrated 2005 Discorso ai Membri della Curia. He referred us to and quoted from the Discorso d'apertura del Concilio of S John XXIII, delivered on the Feast of the Maternity of our Lady, October 11 1962. But ... what did S John actually say? Here there is a most lamentable confusion which is still extant and which is even perpetuated and accentuated by - it appears - current Vatican employees. Let me explain ... even if this does take me into some intricacies.

I presume that the authentic text of the Holy Father's Address to his Curia, since I cannot find a Latin version, was delivered in Italian. In this version, he cites the words of Papa Roncalli about expressing the Faith in ways adapted to our own time, concluding, as Pope John did, with the phrase conservando ad esse tuttavia lo stesso senso e la stessa portata. In the original Latin of Pope John, this is eodem tamen sensu eademque sententia.  But the English version of Pope Benedict's quotation from Pope John concludes "The substance of the ancient doctrine of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another ..." In other words, the quotation is cut short in such a way (after "another ...") as to imply that Pope John did not say eodem sensu eademque sententia. Then, after those quotation marks, the English quotation continues retaining the same meaning and message. This is indeed, in my view, a fairish, if not particularly good, rendering of eodem sensu eademque sententia. But the point is that the English translator implies .... and presumably thought ... that those words were not part of Pope John's original text but had been added by Pope Benedict.

It then becomes clear why and how the English translator has made this rather significant and profoundly deplorable mistake.  In brackets, he gives his source: "(The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p 715)". Abbott's English translation of the Conciliar documents was what my generation put upon its bookshelves. But here, Abbott is not giving an accurate rendering of the Latin. In fact, Abbott omitted the words eodem sensu eademque sententia from his rendering of what the Pope had actually said. I think, I hope, that I should blame the English translator of Pope Benedict's words for simple error rather than for conspiracy. Here is what must have happened.

He had, on his bookshelf as I do on mine, Abbott's yellowing little paperback, and he looked at that rather than bothering himself with silly old Acta Apostolicae Sedis. But, in doing so, he did, as far as Anglophone readers were concerned, considerably muddy the waters for anybody who tries to trace the lineaments and history of a phrase which is of very considerable Magisterial significance, and he has badly blunted the intended impact of the Holy Father's teaching with regard to the Second Vatican Council and the hermeneutic by which it should be understood.

Nightmares, nightmares!

Last night, I browsed through the Statement on Abortion, put out by the British Episcopal Conferences and embargoed until coffee time this morning. No; that was not a nightmare. The Statement is deft, definite, sensitive and sensible. It does both the Conferences, and the drafter, much credit.

The nightmare struck at about 2.00 a.m. this morning, Monday. I am only just recovering from it. Hang on for a jiff while I mix myself yet another White Lady (you see, I am quite Americanophile).

I dreamed that I had woken up ... in 2067!

Worse: the Church was in crisis!!

The Pope seemed to be a Francis IV. He had recently published an Apostolic Exhortation called Vitae sanctissimum donum. It contained, at about paragraph 666 or perhaps not quite so early in the text, a completely orthodox statement about Abortion. Good, so far. But it then descended into a miasma of qualifications and footnotes, the jist of which appeared to be that we can't just leave the matter there. We need to bring to bear all the most sensitive up-to-the-minute moral considerations, as a result of which it is clear that, if a woman wants an Abortion, her priest needs to Accompany her sensitively as she explores her conscience. If she feels that Conscience impels her to ... er ... entrust back to God the life which ... er ... she is unable to accept, then Father must respect that and drive her to the ... er ... clinic.

It got nastier than that. Apparently, some 'Conservative' Cardinals had addressed some Dubia to the Pontiff; and a small group of insignificant reactionaries in the Church had had the impertinence to address a Filial Correction to the Holy Father in which they interminably cited all the previous Conciliar and Papal statements condemning Abortion as being always illicit. They made great play with the very definite statements against Abortion made by pope Francis I and the 2017 Statement by the Bishops of Great Britain. They even suggested that, being a substantive change in Catholic doctrine and morals, the document was ultra vires Successoris S Petri, and accused Francis IV of propagating heresies.

Worser and worser: Pope Francis IV refused any answer. But others were at hand to supply replies. Cardinal von Schwaermerei of Vienna got quickly to work, explained that Vitae sanctissimum donum was a development, not a contradiction, of the previous teaching, and that Newman would been proud of it. Meanwhile, he ensured that any signatories in Austrian establishments were either sacked or expelled or verbally beaten up. Cardinal Engels said that the German Bishops had already been applying the policy favoured by Francis IV for some decades. Archbishop Stiletto of Malta, having declared that the gates of his seminary were wide open to the departure of its one remaining seminarian, emphatically explained that any woman with an unscheduled pregnancy should "listen to the pope ... not to Pope Francis III nor to Pope Francis II nor to Pope Francis I but to the present pope, Pope Francis IV". Cardinal Pierrepoint of Westminster explained that the 2017 Statement on Abortion by the English, Welsh, and Scottish Episcopal Conferences had been sadly lacking in the ethical sophistication required in the second half of the twenty first century. He insisted that ...

Happily, at this point I woke up. Rarely have I been so relieved to return to 2017. Three cheers for Archbishops Nichols and Tartaglia and their colleagues. I hope their Statement will be carefully read both by Catholics and by our partners in ecumenical dialogue (including poor Welby) and ... perhaps, rather a forlorn hope, this ... by the Media.

22 October 2017


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!