31 July 2008

Hippolytus

Dr Jalland's sermon (see earlier post) on the 1549 Eucharistic Rite has a fair bit to say about the 'handicaps which beset [Cranmer's] study of the Fathers'. One of these was his ignorance of the rite now linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus. Jalland writes 'The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus' invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.' One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase 'we offer unto thee this bread and this cup'. This seemed to be an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 our Liturgical Commission recommended a rite ('Series II') which contained just this phrase; justified on the ground that 'It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity'.

At about the same time the Bugnini revisers of the Roman Rite incorporated a mangled version of 'Hippolytus' Eucharistic Prayer' as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. Perhaps this is one of the things which Bubbles Stancliffe, soi-disant Bishop of Salisbury, had in mind when he wrote about the Bugnini clique as having 'learned their trade ecumenically'.

Unfortunately, 'Hippolytus' failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. But it did succeed - unfortunately - in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and 'Hippolytus' for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made Fr O'Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made Fr O'Murphy II select 'Hippolytus' with unholy regularity.

So, in the one Church, 'Hipplolytus' failed to do any good and in the other it did massive positive harm. Satan's Smoke!

30 July 2008

Pax tibi per Crucem

Since the Societas Sanctae Crucis is not as secretive nowadays as we used to be in the 1850s, perhaps I will not be disciplined for disclosing the Master's revelation that what he most disliked after the Synod vote was condescending diocesan functionaries getting in touch to express sympathy with his 'hurt', when all Father Master felt was fury at having been lied to.

Exactly. We must not let them get away with salving their consciences by sentimentality and buckets of crocodile tears. We should tell them where they can put both commodities and express gratitude only for the clarity with which they have revealed their treachery, their innate bad faith, their deeply rooted heterodoxy. We now know for certain that their religion is a different one root-and-branch from ours. Let them get on with their cult of Tash without expecting us to bend conniving knees.

Dias

Cardinal Dias' address to the bishops at Canterbury should be read in toto and not just the paragraph in which he likens Liberal Religion to Altzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. He beautifully emphasises the theme of Dominus Iesus that Jesus is the one Saviour of all; talks well about the Culture of Death in its various manifestations; lists Newman (twice), Chesterton, CS Lewis, Belloc; concludes with a beautiful Marian section. But what I found most interesting was his analysis of our present situation in the context of the age-old battle between Heaven and the Enemy. This includes, almost at the end of the lecture, an intriguing couple of paragraphs in which I think he may be saying that Liberal ikons of a Compassionate Inclusive Christ are in fact diabolical impersonations. Read it on Zenit and tell me if I'm right. He sounds an admirable and very interesting bloke; and the liberal coprocracy at the Lambeth Conference must have loathed every syllable of it. They won't invite him again.

29 July 2008

Et cum Spiritu tuo

At the moment, we follow Cranmer and say 'And with thy Spirit'. We shall continue to do that. A difference of usage between 'And with thy spirit' and 'And with your spirit is insignificant; if some people in church say one and some the other, it's hardly noticeable, whereas 'And also with you' has a totally different syllabic structure and rhythm.

Merton College Chapel

After a few days away taking part in an absolutely first-rate Golden Wedding celebration in my Devon parish, back to contemplate the liturgies put on by the Latin Mass Society in the splendid setting of Merton Chapel, as their laudable contribution to training the middle-aged clergy of the RC Church how to say Mass properly (I did enquire whether Anglicans could observe any of the training sessions, but was told, very reasonably, that Anglicans are bracketed with the infamous SSPX).

I doubt whether Merton Chapel has ever seen so many brand new birettas before. (Anglican birettas are usually old and buckled as the result of decades of use warding off the elements during funerals in country churchyards - what a dowdy lot we Anglicans are. And how unimaginative in how we wear our birettas: we always put them on with the wingless side to the left. No such petty uniformity in Merton. And we observe the boring old Fortescue rule about birettas only being worn in church when one is seated, unless one is paratus. The clergy this morning, almost all of them, naturally felt that if you've just invested in a new hat, you wear it as much as possible.)

But what a joy to see the Classical Roman Rite being done with such dignity, even if that does make it last twice as long as it used to in the days before the Council, when Fr O'Murphy used to rattle through at such a tremendous lick. The only problem that I do have, as a classicist, with this newfangled modus celebrandi is the false quantities in the Latin vowels. quoque with a short O (='also') is a different word from quoque with a long O (='and by which'). Come to think of it, 'Nobis quoque peccatoribus' is not supposed to be bellowed down the church anyway, but said with the voice slightly (aliquantulum) raised.

But as I made my way back to S Thomas's by way of Canterbury College and Cardinal College, I reflected that it would be ungracious to niggle. It really is splendid to see the Roman Catholics at last recovering Catholic tradition, and I'm sure their problems will soon bed down. God bless and prosper the Latin Mass Society.

Praying in English

It is nice to learn that Rome has finalised the new English Ordo Missae (has this just been announced as a way of saying to the liberal Americans who are trying to hold up the progress of the Temporale that if they think this is a way of delaying the whole project of providing a decent translation of the Mass, they are wrong?).

When it is published, those of us who use Traditional English (pastiche Cranmer according to the English Missal) will have to revise our parish Mass Books and gently ease the neo-ICEL formulae into thee/thou, etc.. Any advice on this process?

21 July 2008

What is a Church?

In Catholic theology, 'Church' , in the local sense, is an integrated perfection of the Bishop, the fount of its sacramental life, who mediates the Universal Church to his own particular church, and represents his church to the Universal Church, and manifests the authentic Tradition of his predecessors to the Present Moment. And Presbyterate, not an ad hoc collection of individuals but a collegiate unity, one in their union with their bishop whose priesthood they share and extend; one with each other in the priesthood they share with each other. And Deacons, ministering to the Priesthood which Bishop and Presbyterate share. And Laos, what the Classical Roman Rite calls the plebs sancta Dei, the Body of Christ in its local manifestation, for whom and with whom and in whom Priesthood exists. Such a structure is called in modern Cathlic theology 'a Particular Church', but most Anglicans would simply think of the word 'Diocese'. (Roman terminology also includes 'Apostolic Administrations', 'Personal Prelatures'; even in the Church of England there is the Episcopal Royal Peculiar of Windsor.)



As a matter of common sense, for those who do not accept that women can be validly ordained to priestly ministry, such a 'particular church' in which women (or, for that matter, Protestant ministers of either gender who have not been ordained to Priesthood) have been de facto inserted into its priestly ministry, radically vitiates the unities and relationships inherent in the structures of a church. Not in a personal popular sense of the words but as a technical and logical fact, such a purported church is 'corrupt'. Not corrupt in the sense of the personal failings and sinfulness of the human being who make it up, but in terms of its constitution qua church.



This is why John Pritchard has got it so totally wrong in his letter, in which he talks with abhorrence about 'a church within a church'. Catholic Anglicans can only live within the C of E if

(1) they are not expected to be members of a diocese vitiated in the way described above; and

(2) they have particular churches, that is to say dioceses (although it wouldn't be the end of the world if they were called by some term other than 'diocese') in which the God-given structures of the Catholic Church have not been thus corrupted.

This can only mean discrete, distinct, ecclesial structures within the C of E.

Bread of Heaven

How perfectly formed the ritual of the celebrant's communion is in the Classical Roman Liturgy. It centres around the word Lord - which, of course, whether in the English or the Greek (Kurios) or the Latin (Dominus) stands for YHWH, the ancient unspeakable Covenant Name of the God of Israel. I genuflect in adoration saying that I will receive the Bread of Heaven and call upon the Name of YHWH; the wonder of which breaks me down into a threefold cry of unworthiness: YHWH, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof but only say the word and my anima, my breath, my life, my being, will be healed. Because at Mass YHWH comes under the Roof of the Temple building in which we stand; the One who entered the Temple at Jerusalem in his Name or his Glory is among us as a Man, as flesh and blood, as an epiphenomenon of the world he has himself created. More than that, the flesh and blood which is YHWH will become one with my flesh and blood so that I become the Roof of God. What can I give YHWH as a thank-offering for such a marvel? I, who am nothing, am yet everything only because of him and the thank-offering which I can give him is unceasingly his own gift to me: I will take the Cup of Salvation and again invoke YHWH, secure in the knowledge that I shall be saved from my enemies.

20 July 2008

More on Pritchard

He doesn't want 'two kinds of bishops'. That's exactly what the Code of Practice will give the C of E: those bishops who because of their gender have to negotiate their way with the awkward squad; and those who don't.

With a 'diocesan' solution, the bigots would have been coralled into their own dioceses and the 'mainstream' dioceses would have been entirely discrimination-free: no resolutions, no codes, no petitions, no shifty archdeacons with their illegal nods and their winks ('Trust me and I'll see you don't get a woman vicar').

I can only suppose that the Establishment are gambling on a policy of holding their nerve and seeing us disappearing or being crushed into grudging and sulky submission before the question becomes a practical one. It's a dodgy gamble because if they lose it the women bishops will curse the poisoned chalice the 2008 Synod mixed for them.

19 July 2008

IS BAROQUE BAD?

If you haven't read Laurence Hemming's new book Worship as a revelation, I advise you to do so. It is another milestone in the reintegration of the worship of the Latin Church; full of things that will make you say 'Now why didn't I think of that myself?' But I am not going to cherry-pick it; instead, I will nibble at some edges where I think Hemming might not have got the whole truth. Take Baroque Liturgy and the architectural framework which it generated. Hemming deplores 'liturgical theatre-houses' where every obstacle between pew and altar has been removed, and gives reasons, which I invite you to consider, and which share something with the views of Catherine Pickstock. But the strong point of Baroque Liturgy is surely that it emphasises synergy - the working together of different elements in the Work of God's whole people. High Mass in the Baroque style is not a one-man show; presbyter, deacon, subdeacon, clerici with their drilled movements (drilling is necessary because the congregation would see every blunder) demonstrate the essentially ordered nature of Catholic worship, where every ordo has its own munus or leitourgia, and that munus is prescribed and not spontaneous. Hovering around on walls and ceilings are the Saints in two or three dimensions, and the heavenly host (et ideo cum angelis et archangelis cumque omni militia caelestis exercitus) all in their proper places. The worshippers who cannot hear the Communicantes and Nobis quoque can see them on the walls.

Yes, I know what you're going to say: that the medieval and Byzantine styles, with their concomitant architectural settings, can teach the same truths. But isn't it rather well done by the baroque?

18 July 2008

A STAKE THROUGH THE HEART

This morning, an ad clerum from a Mr Pritchard, the bishop of Oxford. He puts his finger on exactly what is the reason why the General Synod vote on wimminbishops is so disastrous. 'I decided we needed to put a theological ''stake in the ground'' ... I believe what we now know is where the theological centre of gravity is in the Church of England on this issue ...'

Previously, we were in a 'period of open reception' with regard to the ordination of women. There were two 'integrities' (Pritchard admits this by conceding that before 'now' we did not 'know' 'where the theological centre of gravity' was). Neither 'Integrity' represented the exclusive doctrinal position of the C of E. While the C of E did not subscribe to the infallibly defined doctrine of the Catholic Church on this question, neither did it subscribe to a denial of that doctrine. Pritchard admits that it now does the latter. And this is not just a verbal matter. Most dogmas are capable of impinging on the not-very-thoughtful individual believer in a merely verbal way; in a knowledge somewhere in his memory that 'Oh yes, the Church does teach such-and-such'. A Roman Catholic who disbelieved in the dogma of the Assumption would not find that the dogma impinged on him at Sunday Mass; he could put it onto the back-burner of his conscience for 364 days of the year. But the corruption of the Sacrament of Order by the pretense that women can be admitted to it impinges on the sacramental life of all those who have to navigate round the concrete visible phenomenon of pretended women priests. More than any other dogma ever proposed in Christian history, this one says 'in your face' - 'you assent to me simply by doing this' - to the ordinary Christian going up to the communion rail in a church where there is a woman dressed up as a priest, or genuflecting before a tabernacle in which there is bread which a woman claims to have been able to consecrate. There's no dodging it; no possibility of postponing or qualifying one's adhesion to it (if you didn't believe in the resurrection, you could simply shut your mouth during that clause of the Creed). That is why the dogmatic imposition involved in the General Synod vote is the most totalitarian in two thousand years of Christian history. Elizabeth I notoriously declined to make windows in men's souls. The fascist majority in General Synod has no such qualms.

Incidentally, Pritchard admits that his diocese contains 250 women simulating priestly ministry. That reminds me of a question I raised in an earlier post: just how corrupt and decadent does a gathering of Christians have to be before it forfeits the status of 'a particular church', the local manifestation of the Church Universal? Is 250 laywomen sacrilegiously and regularly simulating the Sacraments enough?

Further comments, Sunday 20th.

16 July 2008

LAMBETH 2008

As I came near the end of this morning's Mass, of our Lady of Mount Carmel (Latin Extraordinary Form), it suddenly struck me (I wonder how many of the bishops at Lambeth will be struck by the same thought) how suitable the postcommunio is as a prayer for the Conference. Here is what Fr Zed might call a disgustingly literal translation:
Lord, may the worshipful intercession of thy glorious Mother and Ever Virgin Mary come to out aid; that, as she hath piled unending favours upon us, so she may liberate us from all dangers and, in her loving care, make us to be of one heart (sua faciat pietate concordes).

Does any gathering of bishops need to say more than that?

More on the 1630s

As I sat in my little yard under the shadow of S Thomas's church, in my hand a glass of very well-made Rose made just up the river from the Great City of the Popes itself (Avignon), I suddenly remembered my own predecessor back in the 1630s, Dr Robert Burton (author of An Anatomy of Melancholy), who (in an age when Protestants insisted on the use of every-day bread in the Eucharist so as to prevent their people falling into 'idolatry') used until his dying day unleavened wafers. And I thought ... why should we let these people drive us out of our churches and our tradition? (By 'these people', of course, I mean the Cof E's Liberal ascendancy, not the winemakers of the County of Vaucluse.)

14 July 2008

Particular churches: a question for canonists

Modern Catholic ecclesiology (for example, in the CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus issued when Joseph Ratzinger was Cardinal Prefect) considers a 'Church' to be a local body consisting of Bishop, Presbyterium, deacons , and people [er .. what about Abbacies nullius? But we'll let that pass]. Such a body ought to be in communion with the Holy See, but, if it isn't, it's still a true 'particular church', although 'wounded' by its lack of communion with Rome.

It is, of course, possible for a particular church to have elements of disorder within it. Few Christian ages or places have been entirely free of disorder. But how much disorder disqualifies an ecclesial body from being a 'particular church'? In the Anglican diocese of Barchester, for example, half the 'presbyters' are women purporting to be in holy orders. Obviously such a very large degree of corruption means that the diocese of Barchester cannot be in any real sense a 'particular church' and thus a local manifestation of the Church Catholic. So, the Bishop of Barchester, although a legal office-holder in the quaint old Tudoresque legal establishment, is not the Bishop of a 'particular church', and does not have canonical jurisdiction. Barchester Catholics will in fact be sedevacantists. This means, of course, that 'oaths of canonical obedience' are sworn to a vacuum.

But just how dysfunctionally corrupt does a 'church' have to be to lose its status? How structurally decadent does a 'diocese' have to be before it is reasonable to deem the episcopal tenure of its 'diocesan' a nullity?

13 July 2008

Catholic Anglicans

I am sure that many readers have grasped the point I have been allusively suggesting in the last few posts.


Put briefly, it goes something like this.

1. The Cof E claims to be the Church founded by S Augustine in 597; indeed, that is what the Law of England also states (Halsbury, Laws of England, 3rd edition, Volume 13, p33). In law, it was not founded or invented by Henry VIII. Rowan Williams claims to be, and in law is, successor not only of Cranmer and Parker, but also of Augustine and Pole.

2. We do not believe that the period since the Reformation is somehow the 'normative' period for our doctrine or practice. We do not believe that any one period since 597 is uniquely normative. We do not believe in something called 'Anglicanism' which can somehow be distilled from English theologians who wrote later than 1559.

3. As a matter of fact, the English Reformation was not a theologically coherent series of events in the way that the Reformation may have been in some other countries. We have no 'normative' theologian (we are not Cranmerians; quoting Cranmer has for Anglicans never resolved any matter of doctrine or law). There is nobody that occupies for us the place that Luther and Calvin respectively occupy for Lutherans and Calvinists. Some years ago, I became aware that even those among us who most admire the Reformation are not in agreement; in theogical discussions it became clear that one member of the 'Reform' side of the table thought of himself as Lutheran, another believed that Calvin's Institutiones were well-nigh irreformable. And in fact this lack of coherence means that we are not a 'Confessional' church. Even Archbishop Fisher (not a Catholic Anglican) famously said 'The Church of England has no doctrines of her own'.

4. The formulae that the Sixteenth Century bequeathed to us, deriving from the different stages of the Reformation and its different conflicting power-groups, do not provide a coherent theological structure at variance with Catholic doctrine. We believe that Providence preserved the Church of England in the Reformation period from formally taking up theological positions irreconcilable with the defined doctrine of the Catholic Church.

5. For its first millennium, the Church of England was overwhelmingly 'papalist'. We do not believe that fact is any less normative than the fact that for the last four centuries it has been predominantly non-papalist. (One of our theologians, Eric Mascall, acutely observed that those attached to the Reformation changes are not logically well placed to argue that a status quo is irreformable.)

6. Even since the Reformation, there have been papalists. Even James I declared that he accepted papal primacy (although not any papal claims to secular power over sovereigns!). Papalism became quite popular in the 1630s, when reunion seemed to be a real possibility; and since the Catholic Revival there has been a succession of clergy and laity who have accepted the full papal doctrine of Vatican I. Dom Gregory Dix was perhaps the best known of these.

7. Although, like most people, we use the shorthand term 'Church of England', strictly speaking we believe that what we belong to are two provinces of the Western Latin Church, in a canonically anomalous relationship with the rest of that body. We pray for the healing of that anomaly.
8. Our ecumenical programme is that of the Malines process of the 1920s; 'The Church of England united, not absorbed'. Regretfully, many of us now accept that the corruption of the very structure of the Apostolic Ministry among us since 1992 means that we have to scale down our aspirations to a hope for a group solution for the orthodox remnant in Anglicanism.

9. Required reading is Fr Aidan Nichol's book The Panther and the Hind, in which a distinguished and traditionalist Roman Catholic theologian indicates the need for such an outcome, as the climax of his survey of Anglican traditions since the Reformation.

11 July 2008

The ARTICLES of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Today, to the licensing of Fr Baker as hon. Curate at S Thomas's. The legal form required him to say that he was all for the Historic Formularies Of The Church Of England. But father didn't specify what he meant by that. I think I know what our Historic Formularies are. They consist mainly of the Five Articles passed by Convocation in 1559, and afterwards subscribed by the Universities.
I. That in the sacrament of the altar, by virtue of the words of Christ duly spoken by the priest is present realiter, under the kinds of bread and wine, the natural Body of Christ conceived of the Virgin Mary, and also his natural Blood.
II. That after the consecration there remains not the substance of bread and wine, nor any substance but the substance of God and Man.
III. That in the mass is offered the true Body of Christ and his true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
IV. That to Peter the Apostle, and his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Christ's Vicars, is given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ militant, and confirming their brethren.
V. That the authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen.

This brings complete clarity into the questions of the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. It means that any subsequent enactments which are ambiguous or wayward have to be interpreted in accordance with and in subordination to these principles; so as not to contradict them. Article V also clarifies the question of the Law of Worship of the Church of England. Liturgies imposed by Parliament clearly lack authority. Eureka! How wise we were, at S Stephen's House in the 1960s, as we subscribed the then oaths before ordination, to say loudly ...'and I will use the forms in the said book prescribed [the Prayer Book] and One Other', as we clutched our trusty English Missals in our hands. Modern ordinands, of course, have a much simpler oath to swear: simply that they will only use 'what is allowed by canon'. 'Canon' clearly refers to the 1984 Codex Iuris Canonici of the Western Church.

Happily, it also clarifies the status of recent decisions of General Synod. In as far as they might contradict what the Holy Father has said, Article IV renders them null and void.

10 July 2008

A NEW FEAST?

I would very much like to have a liturgical commemoration of the Anglicans who died in the massacres (amounting, in Devon and Cornwall, to genocide, and distinctly nasty in Oxfordshire too) when the Tudor government, in 1549, sent its foreign mercenaries to put down the rebellions of that year. These insurrections began on Whitmonday, the day after the First Cranmerian Prayer Book came into use. In their suppression, gentry and peasants were slaughtered; clergy were hanged in their mass vestments from the towers of their churches.

Were these martyrs specifically papalists? Well, their clergy in many cases had accepted preferment from bishops who had in turn accepted consecration or translation from Henry's or Edward's governments without papal consents. So, in a sense, they were all compromised by acquiescence in schism. And the 'Articles' they put out did not even mention the restoration of unity with the Holy See.

But they did what they could. They could not with their own hands mend the canonical breach between England and Rome; they could hang up the Blessed Sacrament again over the altarss of their churches and worship It.

Mind you, as the rebellion gathered strength and confidence, they did what they could to restore the unity of Christ's Church as well; they added to their Articles a demand that the Lord Cardinal Pole be called back to England under a free pardon and made 'first or second' of the King's Council; and this within a decade of the publication of Pole's book on Chrisian Unity which had led to a Henrician cull of Pole's family and friends. No wonder the rapacious heretics who sat around Edward's Council table trembled in their boots.

The 'ritualist' clergy of the Catholic Revival are a similar case. They had not sundered their parishes from the unity of Peter and it did not lie in their hands to undo, in a moment, the accumulated evil of four hundred years. But they did what they could, in Cornish villages and in the slums of Oxford (as at S Thomas's) and London and Leeds.

The martyrs of 1549 have not, of course, been beatified by the Holy See. But it seems a shame not liturgically to commemorate them, the known and the unknown, the learned and the unlettered, who are our Catholic Anglican forerunners and inspiration. Can anyone suggest a way round this problem?

9 July 2008

UNITY

Today, Bl Adrian Fortescue; martyred when Henry VIII was culling the friends and family of Reginald Pole after Pole had written his book on Church Unity. These martyrs of the period 1533-1553 make me the more unwilling to be driven out of S Thomas's Church. They (unlike the heroic martyrs of the later 'seminary' period) attended their ancient churches; lived an ecclesial life under bishops who had collaborated in Henry's schism from the Holy See; they were Church of England people and from within the Ecclesia Anglicana bore witness to the Faith of the Ages despite the schism in which they were unwillingly involved.

What we need is a simple process whereby priests and people in orthodox parishes within the C of E can be reconciled with Rome where they are; property rights to their churches transferred to a body outside the Establishment; the orders of their clergy speedily adjusted to the juridical requirements of Apostolicae curae.

7 July 2008

S Thomas again

S Thomas's Sunday went very well; and this morning (the actual Solemnity of his Translation) I said a quiet missam sine populo secundum formam antiquiorem. I remembered, in addition to the obvious people to be remembered, the members of General Synod who have the opportunity today of making an ecclesial structure for us - or of refusing to do so - as they redecorate the new Church of England so as to be resplendent with what (recalling the medieval Christmas custom of dressing up little lay boys as boy-bishops so that they could preside over the brief and jolly period of misrule) we might call girl-bishops (I fear that phenomenon may less brief and might be attenuated in its jollity).

As I extinguished the candles before the statue of S Thomas, my eye lingered on the pallium that he is wearing. And, on an impulse, I went round the statues and windows of the church counting pallia. We have five of them.

Then I came home and reminded myself what the Holy Father said about the pallium just recently when delivering them to his new Archbishops. They symbolise ...the reality we indicate today by the word collegiality among bishops ... no-one is pastor by himself ... [the pallium] refers to communion with Peter and his successor as a guarantee of unity. Thus, the pallium speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion between the pastor and his flock. And it refers us back to apostolicity: to communion with the faith of the Apostles on which the Church is founded.

Suddenly it struck me: that's what's wrong with the Church of England. Archbishop Rowan must have a pallium, because he flaunts it on his Coat of Arms, and presumably in doing so he is not transgressing our Trade Descriptions Act. But he keeps it in his wardrobe and never actually wears it.

5 July 2008

THOMAS X 5

Tomorrow is S Thomas' Sunday; we keep the External Solemnity of the Translation of S Thomas of Canterbury, which occurs on Monday. Today I said Mass (EF) of B Thomas Belston, one of the Oxford Martyrs. Come to think of it, S Thomas More comes about this time; another Oxford man. and ... gracious ... Thomas Cranmer, who died just outside Balliol (a horrid fate) has connections ... and so does Thomas Wolsey, whose arms (including the Cornish choughs he borrowed from the arms of Becket) still flies over his foundation of Cardinal College. There's a sermon here, for next year. Any advice about what I should say?

4 July 2008

SEX

I'd really rather not say much about GAFCON. I don't want to be too negative. But here goes ...

I'm uneasy about this singling out of homosexuality. I regard the problem of remarriage after Divorce as at least as grave a departure from Christian standards as homosexual genital activity. And also the use of unnatural methods of Cotraception. And above all I feel that the murderous question of Abortion should be mentioned on all relevant occasions.

To single out Homosexuality while not mentioning any of the grave disorders that afflict heterosexual sexuality in our present culture seems to me to run the risk of being, or at least seeming, 'homophobic'. I would have no problem, in an appropriate context, about condemning homosexual genital activity, provided that such other things got mentioned too. And I'm not sure that it's right to assume that all cohabiting homosexuals are in a sinful physical relationship. And let's not forget that we heterosexuals have the opportunity to use our sexuality within marriage; there may be homosexually inclined people for whom contracting a heterosexual union would be impossible. We shouldn't condemn them without being frank about the enormous disorders within our own 'orientation'. Motes and beams.

And, above all, GAFCON fails to mention the immense disorder of the pretended ordination of women. However unedifying a homosexual bishop or priest may be deemed to be, he at least confers valid sacraments. And it is suggested on anecdotal grounds that very many 'women priests' are remarried divorcees; and that the regulations concerning the ordination of remarried divorce(e)s were relaxed precisely because it was foreseen that so many women seeking ordination would have been excluded. Whatever the truth may be here, an ordained woman who is also a remarried divorcee both exemplifies the disorder inherent in her claim to sacerdotal ministry and by the public and structured adultery of her own domestic arrangements presents a skandalon to God's people.