19 January 2018

....... men ....... de .....

On the one hand, it is extremely good that PF did not just tell them that they were All Right as they were. His action admirably made clear that they needed to get married because, despite their civil 'marriage', they were not in fact married. Eccellente. Clearly, he will first have taken them aside and absolved them from their acts of fornication, before receiving their consent in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. What's not to like?

On the other hand, canonists have been uneasy about the "wedding" in the airliner. It all interests me because twice recently, 2 January and 14 January, I have vigorously argued against the apparent belief of some superhyperueberpapalists, that the Roman Pontiff, just because he makes and dispenses from laws, is himself above the Law.

And if it were to be asserted that "By doing X, PF tacitly dispensed himself from the law(s) against X", I would regard the implications of that approach as thoroughly disturbing ... almost like the Nazi notion that the Fuehrer's will is the Supreme Law. The whole business would suggest the ugly idea that "I'm the Pope and so I can do anything".

Indeed he is and indeed he can't.

God bless the pair of them! And him as well!

I wonder if the journalists will check that they were canonically free to marry, and ferret around to uncover the facts about the Act of God which prevented them from marrying in due form in the first place. An earthquake, was it ...

Ecumenism and the God of Surprises (2)

Father Christopher Phillips, the charismatic Founding Pastor of the Parish and Church of our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, graciously invited me, a few years ago, to spend some time in his Parish and in its Academy. I found this a truly wonderful experience ... not only because of the vibrancy and deep devotion of both Parish and Academic life ... and not only because of the warmth of the welcome I received from Father and from JoAnn and their congregations ... but something else as well. Let me explain.

Long decades before the Ordinariates were much more than just a gleam in the eye of our dear Professor Ratzinger, he had encouraged the setting up of "Anglican Use" parishes in which former Anglicans would continue to enjoy their Anglican Patrimony ... in theology, spirituality, yes; but especially in Liturgy.

The project worked so well that flocks of cradle Catholics with no "Anglican Previous" flocked in. San Antonio being San Antonio, this included many Latinos. They were entranced by the solemnity and dignity of what Fr Phillips ... or perhaps I should write, the Holy Ghost ... had got going. How packed that Church was!

And I was immensely moved by hearing English Tudor liturgical formulae (written by a poor misguided old Zwinglian who learned his errors in Cambridge and paid for them outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College in this University) on the lips of Hispanic Catholics; men, women, and children whose ancestors might easily have sailed in the Armada.

The God of Surprises again!! A great ecumenical coming-together; fruit of the vision of a small number of far-sighted Anglican priests such as Fr Phillips  and Fr Hawkins ... and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI; the first and highly successful example of ecclesial communities from each side of the Reformation divide coming together and living in perfect amity and orthodox unity.

18 January 2018

Ecumenism (1)

2017 saw one piece of real ecumenism which went largely unremarked.

A small ... indeed, tiny ... group of clergy and laity put together a Filial Correction of PF, which was humbly submitted to him in early August with 40ish signatures. As with the Dubia, not even a dismissive acknowledge was received from PF or his office. It was therefore decided to make the document public. By the time this happened, some 20 or so more people who had heard about it had offered their signatures.

One of these was His Excellency Bishop Fellay. Two points:
(1) The Correctio drew upon the Magisterium of the Church of All Time including that of Vatican II and of 'the post-Conciliar popes' as well as that of the preceding millennia. Bishop Fellay did not turn up his nose at the document because of this factor.
(2) The creators of the Correctio accepted his offer. They did this in full knowledge that the malevolent Hypersuperueberpapalists surrounding PF would probably use this fact in order mendaciously to claim that they were 'cryptolefebvreists'. This is the sort of mud which that sort of person enjoys flinging around. (They did it with the Friars of the Immaculate.)

'Ecumenism', like most healthy things in the life of the Church Militant, tends not to happen in the way that is expected or anticipated. There were all those professional ecumenists, cosying up together in the Venices and the Maltas to craft deliberately ambiguous statements of verbal concord. But the God of Surprises ... YES!! ... works differently.

So here we had people brought together by nothing else than their love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of His Bride, joining together in joyful affirmation of the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed down through the Apostles.

17 January 2018

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

You must read Cardinal Mueller's latest piece in First Things. It reminds me of the game Grandmother's Footsteps, in which the players attempt to creep up silently upon the person who is their object, and who is facing away from them. They freeze into immobility every time he swings round. If he detects one of them in motion, that's just Too Bad for the clumsy player concerned. Our Family played it last year in Bosham churchyard on the occasion of our Golden Wedding celebrations as the Quarter Peal rang out above them.

In this article, His Eminence is gradually, deftly, moving up some phrases, some words, some ideas, closer and closer to PF's back. Words like "opportunism". Phrases like "watering down".

It is done with consummately skilful gamesmanship.

I do hope this pontificate lasts long enough to enable us to see if Gerhard Cardinal Mueller is the winner.

I bet he will be.

Indulgences for Unity Week

Enchiridion Indulgentiarum  (sectio 11, page 58) offers a plenary indulgence for participating in Unity Week. You must attend aliquot functionibus (at least two public functions) and the concluding function; and, of course, fulfil the usual conditions.

A partial indulgence may be acquired by saying an approved prayer. The following* is on the back of a rather attractive prayer card issued in 1958 by the Anglo-Papalist Confraternity of Unity, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Chair of Unity Octave.

Antiphon That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.

V  I say unto thee that thou art Peter.
R  And upon this rock I will build My Church.

Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to her that peace and unity which is according to Thy Will. Who livest and reignest God world without end. Amen*.

*Which includes the prayer accompanying the Pax in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and so is certainly legitime adprobata. In the days of the Vetus Ordo, when this prayer was said silently by the Priest, it was not as commonly known among the laity as it is now.

16 January 2018

Chair of S Peter in January?

I notice that the Calendar of the ICKSP retains the January  Feast of Cathedra Petri. Can anybody throw light on this?

Extraordinary Form ORDO, and Ordinariate directions, for the Unity Week

Unity Week starts on Thursday January 18 and ends on January 25.

                                              EXTRAORDINARY FORM

Before the 1960s, January 18 was the Feast of the Chair of S Peter at Rome (while February  22 celebrated his Chair, that is to say, his episcopate, in Antioch).

In the Good Old Days, the Wantage Sisters ... who now comprise our Ordinariate Sisters in Birmingham, the praying heart of the Ordinariate, as our Ordinary puts it ... used to publish an annual ORDO  "... in strict accordance with the Use of the Western Church". This was widely used both in Anglo-Papalist churches and in Anglo-Catholic churches generally. The latest one I possess is 1969. Before January 18, the following information is printed:

                                               CHURCH UNITY OCTAVE BEGINS

Ad lib, during the Octave: one 2cl Vot M For the Unity of the Church. Cr (on Sunday only), Common Pref (pref Trin on Sunday). P[urple]

This will undoubtedly have been lifted from what was authorised for Roman Catholics in England, Scotland, and Wales on the very eve of the liturgical alterations of the late 1960s. What it means is that it is lawful to say daily one Mass of the Votive for Christian Unity (Ad tollendum Schisma if your Missal, like mine, is pre-1962; but the texts are the same in the 1962 Missal) on the Sunday within the Octave (even if it be Septuagesima); and also on each of the weekdays, because they are all (even the Conversion of S Paul) days occupied by III class feasts and so admit Second Class Votives. No Gloria, of course.

My own suggestion would be to start the Octave with a (permitted) Votive Mass of the Chair of S Peter on January 18 (Mass as on February 22 except that the Alleluia is said) and to conclude with the Mass for S Paul on January 25. It was the idea of linking up the two Apostles which gave rise to the Octave.

Alleluia for the Chair of S Peter: Alleluia, alleluia. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Alleluia.

I have thought it worth while providing this information because I do not think it is in the available Extraordinary Form ORDOs in English or French.

                                                       ORDINARIATE MISSAL

The same Mass for Unity, of course, is provided for use in Liturgical English in the Ordinariates. The rubrics make clear that it can be said on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, All Souls, Ash Wednesday, Ember Days, Rogation Days, weekdays of Holy Week and of the Easter and Pentecost Octaves. Such votives ARE allowed BUT ONLY FOR "a real necessity or pastoral advantage" on Obligatory Memorials and the weekdays of Advent, Christmastide, Lent, and Eastertide. Pretty permissive, eh?

15 January 2018


In 1948, an English novelist wrote thus about American young women: "She was the standard product. A man could leave such a girl in a delicatessen shop in New York, fly three thousand miles and find her again in the cigar stall at San Francisco ... she would croon the same words to him in moments of endearment and express the same views and preferences in moments of social discourse. She was convenient; but Dennis came of an earlier civilisation with sharper needs. He sought the intangible, the veiled face in the fog, the silhouette at the lighted doorway, the secret graces of a body which hid itself under formal velvet. He did not covet the spoils of this rich continent, the sprawling limbs of the swimming-pool, the wide-open eyes and mouths under the arc-lamps ...".

I would go further. My fantasy of an exquisite civilisation would include the return of the habit of women wearing hats ... preferably with a veil complicating ones perception of the face behind it ... skirts at least mid-calf ...

My problem is that what Waugh derides as American seems to have become the culture of Europe as well. Wall to wall immodesty is the order of the day. I am glad I am no longer a young man. I think I would find it difficult nowadays to find satisfaction of Waugh's 'sharper needs'. As an old man, happily married and many, many decades beyond the Chase, I do retain regrets at an purely aesthetic level ...

The online edition of one popular English newspaper has an illustrated sidebar directing you to endless stories about indecently dressed female 'celebs' ... it is a newspaper which, in the 1930s, supported Facism; whose proprietor referred to 'Adolf the Great'; and who wrote to Hitler to congratulate him on his every aggression. It waged a relentless campaign against the entry into this country of the fleeing thousands of European Jewry escaping from one of the most hideous atrocities in European History. Perhaps one should look on the bright side of things. The Good News is that it does not praise Adolf the Great. But the Bad News is that it, and its competitors, remain the slavish mouthpieces of the Zeitgeist.

14 January 2018

The Next Conclave and the Papal Oath

Nothing would better express the Traditional, Biblical, Patristic, notion of the Petrine Office, as happily defined at Vatican I, than the following reform in what is done at the inauguration of a pontificate.

The prelate who emerges elected from the next Conclave should instantly sweep away all the unnecessary and obsessive ritual flummeries dreamed up, I think, by Pietro Marini and first used at the Inauguration of Benedict XVI.

They should be replaced by the taking of a solemn Oath of Fidelity done in public. Analogies and formulae existed for this in previous ages, which might be used to supply textual materials.
     For people who like ritual stuff, the Oath could be taken on the oldest Bible in the Vatican Libraries.
     For people who like even more ritual stuff, or are fixated on the use of vernaculars, each paragraph, before the pope recites it in Latin, could be chanted by, say, a Jewish Cantor in Hebrew and a Byzantine Subdeacon in Greek and read by laypeople in any number of vernaculars.
     For strange people who want even more ritual than that, the document could then be solemnly attested by Cardinal Notaries and sealed with lead.
     For those whose affection for ritual amounts to a lunatic obsession, the document could, finally, be solemnly processed through the congregation, held aloft by the Cardinal Protodeacon in the popemobile, while the crowd hysterically shouted VIVAT IUSIURANDUM! Meanwhile, the pontiff would remain kneeling in quiet and humble prayer before the Altar. The popemobile could then be taken away, either for immediate ignominious destruction, or for sale at Sotheby's in New Bond Street, the money (including, of course, the auctioneer's commission) being given to the Poor and the Ordinariates.

Essentially, the new Pontiff should swear, in words drawn from Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, to hand down uncorrupted the Tradition which is from the Lord through His Apostles, the Deposit of Faith. He should swear to resist and to put down all novitates, tam in Fide quam in moribus.

He should acknowledge that, while he will indeed be the Supreme Legislator with full power to change the (human) Law of the Church, he will himself obey the Law and refrain from interfering with legal processes, particularly those relating to the trial, conviction, and punishment of clerical sexual predators who enjoy powerful curial protectors.

And a rather useful practical undertaking might be: "As We uncover evil practices and corrupt deeds and false teachings among Our Cardinals and their clientelae, We shall not allow Ourself to be deterred from dealing with them strictly and according to Justice, by any consideration of who supported or who resisted Our Own election."

To preserve the poor silly Media from their inveterate temptation to assume that a pope has or ought to have a "programme", the Oath should not be followed by a homily.

If the Tourist Industry desired the service to be padded out to a greater length and dignified with rather more 'heritage', this could be done by a reaffirmation and confirmation (with great solemnity) of the anathemas pronounced by the Sixth Ecumenical Council against Pope Honorius I.

13 January 2018


I hope readers have not forgotten to get a copy of the ORDO produced by The Saint Lawrence Press Ltd, 2017.  It gives directions for using the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Rite as they were in 1939. It really is important to know how radically some things were changed before the pontificate of Pius XII. It didn't all begin with 'the Council'!


President Trump

I am one of those brits who likes Americans. My circle of friends would be significantly reduced if I deleted Americans. And I actually rather admire very many Americans. And, in the last Presidential election, I would certainly have voted for anybody or anything to exclude the clinton. And would do so again without any hesitation.

So I would like my American friends to understand better why President Trump is so loathed and detested in this country that the likelihood of big demonstrations against him has led to the cancellation of his planned imminent visit here.

There is undoubtedly the fact that British (and European) politics are shifted well to the left of American politics. For example, our previous 'Conservative' and 'right wing' Prime Minister, David Cameron, would probably be considered a dangerous left-winger in terms of the American political spectrum.

And it is enormously true that DT is precisely that sort of American who incarnates what brits of pretty well every type think they find most alien about Americans.

But let me conclude by mentioning just one little episode that particularly infuriated me personally.

We had a terrorist incident in London. DT reacted to this by attacking the Mayor of London.

If there were a terrorist atrocity in New York and a British Prime Minister took precisely that opportunity to attack the Mayor of New York, I suspect that we might be very gently urged to remember that the British Crown no longer exercises jurisdiction over the United States.

OK, we are now small and insignificant and in rather a mess. But do you think that makes us enjoy being rudely and crudely humiliated?

12 January 2018


As the Coronation of George VI on May the 12th 1937 drew closer, Press interest in those who desired to be differently monarched did not lessen. Towards the end of April, an eccentric fantasist called Captain Henry Wheatley-Crowe announced to the media that the King over the Water had appointed him Regent of the Three Kingdoms, in which capacity he protested against the imminent Coronation (Crown Prince Rupprecht very quickly made clear that the Captain's claims were totally without foundation). At the beginning of May it seems that, back at Balliol, Peter Geach made a second foray in the Jacobite interest. The Milwaukee Journal reports that the "Oxford university authorities frustrated, as a student prank, a Jacobite demonstration scheduled to proclaim Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria 'king of England'. Peter Geach, 20-year-old, pink cheeked leader of Oxford Jacobites, had prepared a proclamation acclaiming Rupprecht as the British Monarch and denouncing 'a certain George Windsor' as a pretender to the throne. ... One of [Geach's] supporters was arrested Friday and fined a pound ($5) by the university's proctors."

I do rather wonder whether the nameless undergraduate 'arrested' and fined may in fact have been Geach himself. It is not clear whether the Bulldogs 'arrested' the young man, whoever he was, or the Police nabbed him and handed him over to the Proctors. There seems to be a legend that this declaration was to be made at Magdalene Bridge; which would make sense, since it was from that bridge, according to Oxford tradition, that two undergraduates were hanged during the events of 1745 ("the '45"), when Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales and empowered by a Commission of Regency from his father King James III and VIII, was endeavouring to restore the rule of law during the usurpation of ... I am indebted to that great Englishman and Oxonian Mr Max Beerbohm for this diverting periphrasis ... 'smug herrenhausen'.

Perhaps, entering into the idiom of the eighteenth century, one could aver that the future Professor Geach was "out" in "the '37".

As well as during "the '45", there were 'disorders' in Oxford, in favour of King James, during 1748, which were serious enough to make the University authorities very frightened indeed that the Whig de facto regime might come down heavily on Alma Mater Oxonia. The Dedication of the Radcliffe Camera had to be postponed; when, in 1749, that event was able finally to take place, the renewed 'disorders' were led, this time, by a don rather than by the undergraduates. A lengthy Oration was delivered by 'the Pretender's great agent' [Horace Walpole's description] Dr William King. Jacobites gathered from all over England and Wales to hear King's ringing denunciations of the wealthy Whig oligarchy, its network of informers, its culture of bribery, its militarism ... leading up to a magnificent peroration in which paragraph after thundering paragraph began with the word REDEAT ["May he {i.e. Prince Charles} return"]. But the Latin syntax was so delicately manoeuvred that the subject of that subjunctive was, technically, never explicitly Prince Charles. Since in Latin word-order a subjunctive like REDEAT can come first in its sentence (and, in a rhetorical cause, might indeed prefer to do so; vide the last line of this post), King could utter it, pause awhile to milk the enthusiastic applause, and then carry on to supply some other, vaguer, phrase as the 'official' grammatical subject (e.g. 'Redeat ... magnus ille genius Brittaniae'). King prudently included in his printed text a prohibition against any translation being made into the vernacular: a process during which grammatical niceties might well have been fatally coarsened.

'Fatally' because Dr King's head, indeed, did depend upon the syntactical nicety!

Vivat Rex! Floreat Oxonia! Requiescat in pace vir doctissimus Petrus Geach!