30 November 2015

Obeying the Council: the importance of submission to Councils

It is, I hope we would all agree, extremely important that the Council, like all Ecumenical Councils, should be treated with respect and its wishes put into effect.

This is why I am disturbed that some Jews, and some Moslems, are allowed to go around without being distinctively dressed so that it can be seen who is Jewish, who is Moslem, who is Christian. I also have a suspicion that some Jews may even go outside their homes during the Christian Sacred Triduum. This is clearly both illegal and disgraceful, since it is explicitly forbidden by the Council, and with great emphasis.

And, moreover, the SSPX is to blame for not rigorously demanding, in season and out of season, that Jews and Moslems should always wear their distinctive dress.  I cannot recall a single SSPX document which adequately emphasises this important decree of the Council. Frankly, this raises difficult questions about the SSPX itself. Since it so manifestly treats important enactments of the Council with apparent indifference, it is important that it should be denied faculties, and kept at arm's length, until it unambiguously undertakes to do all it can to embrace and enforce the Conciliar decrees regarding Jewish and Moslem dress, down the the last comma, the last detail.  Frankly, I blame Bishop Fellay for this indiscipline. He is a man who, to my knowledge, has never spoken loudly and publicly enough about the importance of the distinctive dress which should be worn by Jews and Moslems. Can you show me one single statement of his about the need for all Moslem women, as the Conciliar Canon implies, to wear the hijab? No group can truly expect to be in good standing unless its submission to the Council, as to all the Church's Ecumenical Councils, is total, unequivocal, and ex animo.

It is not as though the Council to which I am today referring [Lateran IV (vide Canonem LXXXIX); it closed on November 30 1215] is some minor Council. Because of the large numbers of bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs which attended it, it was sometimes called The Great Council. It promulgated the Dogma of Transsubstantiation. Could any Council be more important than Lateran IV?

I hope nobody, on the thread, will dare to speak slightingly about the duty of all Catholics to accept without question every jot and tittle of Lateran IV, as of every other Council. Moreover, its Spirit, easily collected and inferred from its canons about the exclusion of Jews from public life and the iniquity of their usurious behaviour, not to mention the problems of miscegenation, is also something which it is the duty of all Catholics to accept with enthusiasm. Isn't it? You know I'm right.


We live in a dangerous world, in which some people tend to be or pretend to be depressingly blind to literary genre. I hope no reader of this blog is so blind as to fail to detect my irony all through the above piece. I neither like nor subscribe to the teaching of Lateran IV about the Jews as being suitable to our time, nor do I condemn the SSPX for being lukewarm about that teaching. My view on Councils, prescinding from those Conciliar decrees (with attached anathemas) which strictly define dogma, is that their teachings and edicts, even if appropriate to the time of the Council itself, which I believe one is at liberty to doubt, gradually merge into the quiet background noise of the life of the Church. I have no doubt that this applies to Lateran Canon 89 as much as it does to Vatican II Dignitatis humanae. But both of these were completely 'valid' Ecumenical Councils; a truth which, I believe, no Catholic is allowed question. I also believe that no Catholic should read the non-dogmatic texts of any Council, or of any Roman Pontiff, without applying a contextualising nuance. Catholics are not fundamentalists. Councils, and popes, when not defining dogma, can, quite simply, be wrong. Especially fifty or more years after their time.

Newchurchier days

I have just read, on the blog of His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson, Bishop of Broadstairs in partibus infidelium, the following revelation about the Novus Ordo Mass: "by a devout priest its ambiguities can all be turned in the old direction". He also demonstrates that "clearly not all consecrations of Novus Ordo bishops and ordinations of Novus Ordo priests are invalid either".

Woe and alack the Day! The Church was taken from us and became 'newchurch'; the SSPX was stolen and became 'newsociety'; now that Williamson has himself emerged from his chrysalis revealed as 'newwilliamson', whither will the faithful remnant turn?

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people - you know whom I mean! - whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (I very much hope that its Sunday proper lections will one day be authorised in a Supplemental Optional Lectionary for the Ordinariates), gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because they are some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman and Prayer Book Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wondered if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this 'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [he is absent from the pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe]. Very happily and appropriately, our new Ordinariate Missal, now all of two days old, restores the S Pius V form of the Libera nos, with its prominent reference to S Andrew.

What a shame that the modern Roman Rite has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition. Not least because not only is S Andrew the Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and of several Orthodox countries; in Kiev, where tradition has it that S Andrew planted his wooden Cross, there now stands one the world's baroque masterpieces, the great Church of S Andrew (now a Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church). Closer to home, his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. It was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral, once the Northern Powerhouse, as Mr Osborne would say, of the Palatinate.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus. And so many toasts to polish off! Duty calls!

29 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (8)

Advent Sunday! And a new start! From today, the Ordinariate Missal is authorised in all three Ordinariates. The formal authorising document, signed by Cardinal Sarah (who is reported to have commented "Why can't we have something like this?"), makes clear that it is granted by virtue of faculties conferred on the CDW by the present Sovereign Pontiff the Holy Father Pope Francis. So, just as the post-Conciliar Missal is known as the Paul VI Missal, so, for the rest of time, this Missal will be the Pope Francis Missal! When everything else about Bergoglio is, sadly, completely forgotten, by this he will be remembered!  Exegerit monumentum aere perennius!

Viva il Papa! Viva Francesco! Vivant omnes!

Mark Pattison (2): Problems of Concelebration

Mark Pattison did not confine his uncomprehending contempt to women and papists; anybody who seemed to him to stand in the way of his own boundless self-esteem aroused his helplessly intemperate verbal malevolence. In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably and with total certainty knew that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his infuriated reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since, so long ago now, I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time. For once, the pastiche of Pattison's style confected by Mgr R A Knox (Let Dons Delight, Notes to Chapter VII) is, yes, very funny, but not funnier than the reality (ht to the erudite Sue Sims for the Knox reference). Could any satirist ever have imagined that even a self-obsessed bigot like Pattison would give away his own interior corruption quite as obviously and risibly as in the above sentence?

28 November 2015


I am reprinting here (with its original thread) a piece I wrote last spring; in which I made a proposal very similar to a suggestion which, unknown to me, was being made elsewhere ... see the thread ...

I know it's a bit long, and rambles. The essence of it is the bits in bold print.
 Essentially, in this new Dark Age marked by a culture of ostensibly (for we can none of us know the conscience of another) unrepented mortal sin, we need to do whatever can be done to destroy the culture of Almost Inevitable Communion. You may have better ideas than I do about what, practically, can be done. But it seems to me that a basic starting point is the elimination of the Communion Procession. It creates an impression that everybody will receive Communion. It even puts pressure on people to receive communion when they have no desire to do so. In human terms, it is difficult to avoid a fear that it lead to sacrilegious communions. When the person who is directing the Communion gets to the pew in which a person is sitting, it may for some people be embarrassing to be the only person in the row who does not obediently rise and follow directions up to the Altar. We cannot be sure that we are not almost forcing people who may not be in a state of Grace to receive the Sacrament, and doing so, as I explained in an earlier part of this dissertation, in a changed situation in which there are entire categories of persons ('remarried divorcees', 'couples living together', 'Lesbian and Gay and Transexual couples') whose situation objectively contradicts the reception of Communion but who also, in my opinion, most certainly should not be made to feel awkward or odd or conspicuous if they refrain from communion.

And the grim little shuffle up the church in a queue rather like the queue in the bank or supermarket, is just about the last thing that needs to be decked out with some bright new ritual 'significance', yet another ritual straightjacket. "Walking to the Lord together", indeed. What utter, utter, twaddle. But I've read it.

I will conclude with a couple of historical observations, not because they enable me to try to prescribe details of a new praxis but simply because I think we need a wider general perspective on this matter than current praxis gives us.  

In the first millennium, in Ireland, there were innumerable 'monastic' sites. But who were the 'monks'? Burial sites have revealed to the excavator female and infantile inhumations as well as male. It seems that the term monk meant, not a person vowed to celibacy, but someone who was not living adulterously or promiscuously. Perhaps a hermit, but more probably a couple living in the bonds of Marriage. These people were thus, apparently, firmly distinguished from others whose lifestyle was not marked by evidence of chaste living.

And there is evidence that, in the area surrounding the first millennium Irish oratories, there were different physical  levels in which different categories stood to worship. Nearest to the oratory, the monks. Further away, penitents. You get the idea. Everyone in his Order.

We need to move back to a liturgical culture, not (Heaven forbid) of turning people away from the Christian synaxis; not of implying by word or gesture that they should not be here: but of accepting them, welcoming them, as they are and where they are, without a judgement which it is not ours to pass, so that within the Christian community they can grow in love and understanding. As the Irish did more than a thousand years ago, we need to provide for the subchristianised in our congregations a culture in which it is the universally understood thing that a lot of people don't receive communion; that there's nothing odd or unusual about 'not going up'; it is thoroughly natural and normal not to communicate at Mass; nobody will wonder what's 'wrong' with you. (And it's not their business anyway.)

How about this for size: a down-to-earth practical system would be the distribution of Communion from the tabernacle before or after Mass; or, in big well-staffed churches, continuously during Mass in a side-chapel with a tabernacle. And with a presbyter permanently in the Confessional at the same time. Freedom! No regimentation! No grim shuffles up to the (extremely ordinary) Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister! The freedom just to walk around your Merciful Father's house as His free children during Mass, feeling completely at home and doing your own business, whatever it is! No need to feel that self-righteous people are staring at you judgementally!

27 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (7)

The artwork in the Ordinariate Missal is black and white. If you look carefully enough, you will see the initials 'MT' somewhere on most of it. Those initials take one back to the triumphalist all-conquering glory days of the Movement in the 1930s, and to an Altar Book called The Anglican Missal. If 'MT' doesn't give away the identity of the artist (1886-1948), how about these lines from the end of a poem by Betjeman:

"Yet, under the T*****s baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
The bells and banners - those were the waking days
When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.

Other blogs, or news

(1) "Most blessed, most glorious" ... I refer of course to Fr Ray and his  "unresting unhasting" Blog ... "Almighty, victorious, thy great name, Father Blake, we praise". A marvellously amusing post about a visiting bishop who nearly got his face 'filled in', as the Gruffer Classes might put it, by the angry husband of one of Fr Ray's parishioners. Ah, the Pastoral Life ...
(2) NLM has a most interesting piece (when is the doyen of all liturgical blogs ever not interesting?) on Cardinal Wiseman's tomb in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral ... I tried to enter an enquiry in the Comments, but I am no good at any of these technical things ... no good, my wife would say, at anything ... the inscription is given as " ... primus archiepiscopus Ecclesiae Westmonasterius ...". Presumably a mistake for "Westmonasteriensis" ... is the mistake attributable to the stone mason or the transcriber?
(3) Dr Dawkins is being cited as being a champion of the Church of England's (thwarted and censored) wish to bring Prayer into Cinema advertisements. What he said was actually to the effect that it is silly to be offended by "something as trivial as a prayer".

Here, I suspect, rather unusually, everybody's favourite atheist ... if you think about it ... may have got the last laugh!

Mark Pattison (1)

If you want an unbelievably amusing read ... a thoroughly unintentionally amusing read ... I commend the autobiography ("Memoirs of an Oxford Don") of Blessed John Henry's contemporary at Oxford, Mark Pattison, later Rector of Lincoln College in this University. At one time a fervent High Churchman and admirer of Newman, he did not follow Newman into Full Communion; instead, he ended up slipping into what looks like the most liberal kind of Deism.

He is one of the most delightfully and naively self-opinionated fools, fools prejudiced (for example) against women and papists, known to History. Most ludicrously comic are his accounts of those whose theological convictions moved in a direction opposite to his own. Here he is writing about a female relative: "This girl early developed a masculine understanding. It was a dominant and urgent element in her constitution ... ... speculative ability ... ... perseverance in learning ... ... she taught herself Latin, Greek (which seems incredible), Italian, German, Mathematics ... ... command over the range of history, ancient and modern, that I have never known in anybody since ... ... I have known some of the wittiest, the ablest, and the best read men of my time [of course you have, Mark, of course you have], but I do not exaggerate when I say that this woman at about thirty-five was a match in power and extent of knowledge for any of them ... we corresponded upon books, upon everything we thought or read, from as early a period as I remember, she leading and I following ... "

Sadly, however, and, to poor Pattison, incomprehensibly, the girl became a papist ("her perversion preceded that of Newman")! Pattison's account of this wonderfully admirable bluestocking concludes with these hilarious two sentences: "[She and her mother] lived about a great deal in Italy, etc., afterwards, and had every opportunity of seeing the seamy side of practical Catholicism; but my cousin saw it not. Can such a wreck of a noble intellect by religious fanaticism be paralleled?"
More fun later.

26 November 2015

Nostra aetate

I have just carefully reread, for the umpteenth time, Nostra aetate. Some points, which I make in the Bergoglian spirit of Parrhesia.

(1) I am sorry if the following upsets some 'traditionalist' readers; but: the Conciliar document Nostra aetate seems to me thoroughly well-judged.

(2) Anyone who asserts that: its text in any way implies that the Prayer for the Jews which the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself composed as recently as 2008 must be considered either
          (a) erroneous, or
          (b) not fully compliant with the words and spirit of Nostra aetate:
is as guilty of mendacity as he/she is of disrespect to a learned Pontiff.

(3) Accordingly, the views recently expressed in the name of the CBCEW are, so it seems to me, so flawed as to constitute a skandalon. The skandalon is made all the worse because of episcopal involvement in both the original 'Resolution' of the CBCEW; and the 'Note' published on November 24.


This piece is from October last year.

 Writing in the aftermath of "the [2014] Synod", Professor Roberto de Mattei, perhaps the greatest Church historian of our time, wrote "Judgement, with its resulting definition of truths and condemnation of errors, is the jurisdiction par excellence of the Vicar of Christ, supreme guardian and judge of faith and morality".

These wise observations instantly put me in mind of some words of a man who had soaked himself in the history of the first Christian centuries, our own Blessed John Henry Newman:

"[I]t is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift."

I feel supremely comfortable with these words; and I note that Newman is making exactly the same point as that advanced by Professor de Mattei. I have no problem with the idea of a pope who keeps anathemas under his camauro. A pontiff who issues a Syllabus of Errors seems to me a pontiff who is earning his paycheck. When Pio Nono, with the assent of Vatican I, issued his admirable negative, "The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by his revelation they should reveal new teaching", I would have applauded. Three cheers for the author of Pascendi Dominici gregis. Cardinal Ratzinger's insistence that the Pope is but the humble servant of Tradition had me raising my glass to drink his toast. (Indeed, during that glorious Pontificate I was rarely sober.)

Newman went on to write with approval about the the lack of creativity among the early popes: "The Church of Rome possessed no great mind in the whole period of persecution. Afterwards, for a long while, it has not a single doctor to show". The Roman Church and its bishop, long before the concept of Conciliarism was even a glint in the eye of the Emperor Constantine, were bulwarks against error, barriers against the brilliant and innovative theologians who dazzled the intellectual world, and whom we now call heretics; but those early popes were not mighty teachers. S Leo? Even he, Newman points out, was but "the teacher of one point of doctrine". S Gregory? He "has no place in dogma or philosophy". The great orthodox thinkers, writers and and preachers, the men who directed and influenced Councils, who ex consensu Ecclesiae are now its authoritative Fathers and Doctors, mostly lived far from Rome and, in many cases, were not even Bishops.

Let me put my cards on the table. The Papacy, as Dix loved to emphasise, existed before Councils, and it gave many of its greatest services to Christendom before the "Conciliar period". Its service as a remora against innovation has operated, in our own time, outside Councils and without didactic brilliance. Humanae vitae was not a great document; it was not full of the splendid and moving tropes of the inspirational teacher; it was more important than that. It simply held the line against developments which were destined to subvert the entire structure of sexuality hardwired into human nature. And its promulgation was done, against the advice of his very own Commission of Experts, by a pope whom his predecessor had described as not a little amletico.  (One might also mention his Mysterium Fidei, reaffirming Trent and putting down errors like 'Transsignification'.) Similarly, Ordinatio sacerdotalis lacks any explanations whatsoever. It just makes clear, with a terseness and brevity which cannot often have been equaled in Papal documents, where error lies.

These two Papal interventions are more important than all the wordage of Vatican II. Because, unlike much of Vatican II, they do engage with, and judge, errors which were getting around and did need to be judged. "Judgement is the jurisdiction par excellence of the Vicar of Christ".

When B Paul VI condemned Contraception, and S John Paul II the attempted Ordination of women, this was the selfsame Papacy, acting in precisely the same way, which gave Marcion the brush-off when he turned up in Rome in the 140s with his proto-Nazi claptrap. The condemnation of Marcionism is not weakened by the fact that it rested on no "Conciliar Mandate", or by the complete absence of any brilliant teaching document issued by some wonderfully clever Roman Pontiff.

Very occasionally, a Pope is, in addition to being Pope, also an important Teacher. One thinks of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, Benedict XVI. Thank God for such rare and glorious exceptions, such uncovenanted coincidences. But they are not what the Papacy is about. At base, the Pope is the (life-saving) man who goes around sticking into the ground the notices which say BEWARE OF MINES.

That is what Pope Francis, like all his predecessors, is for. If he were ever to ask us, in his direct and unpompous way, "Hey folks! Who am I to judge?", our answer would be "YOU ARE THE POPE!!!")

25 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (6)

Mgr Lopes has just spoken of the "Ordinariates, born from the rich Patrimony of English Catholicism". I think many of us will thank him for the understanding way he speaks unambiguously of our background as "English Catholicism". No hesitant or disdainful circumlocutions! I imagine his studies in the tradition of the English Missal have enabled him to understand this.

The Mass of OL of Walsingham, quintessentially the product of "English Catholicism" (Fr Henry Joy Fynes Clinton being the chief midwife) will, I hope, be much used within our Ordinariates. As well as serving for September 24, it can of course be used as a Votive when not impeded by the rubrics. In the Ordinariate Missal, votives are lawful, at public Masses and pastorally for the good of the people, on weekdays and even on compulsory memorials in Advent. So you could use this superb Mass for the edification of your people and in order to foster their sense of Ordinariate identity quite often ... even during the first eighteen days of Advent.

(By the way: if you want to be using the 'traditional' options, where options are provided, use the first choice you are offered.) 

Anglican Patrimony ... two bits!

(1) New Liturgical Movement has a very good illustrated piece about a reprint of Enid Chadwick's (1902-1987) sparkling illustrated exposition of the Church's Year, My Book of the Church's Year. NLM says (I couldn't possibly comment) how much better it is than any similar ostensibly 'Catholic' book for children.

Walsingham pilgrims will know that Enid Chadwick was largely responsible for the decorative scheme of the splendidly numinous (Anglican) shrine at Walsingham ... murals, reliquaries, heraldry .... Her style is by now, delightfully, old enough to have a retro charm!

(2) My Eugepae!! piece elicited a comment from Mgr Edwin, Bishop emeritus of Richborough, that Patrimony isn't only Liturgy. He's absolutely dead right. Whenever I get an opportunity to preach, lecture, or read a paper, I ensure that it is dotted with the Anglican writings and insights of Newman, Pusey, Keble, Jalland, Dix, Knox, Mascall, Farrer, Lewis, Sayers ... you fill in the aposiopesis! Much healthier stuff than ... er ...

And not least, I use the satirical writings of that famous Protonotary Apostolic Ronald Knox; to whom I myself turn to be cheered up when I am a trifle depressed ... as I seem to be now ... I wonder why .... Yesterday, I came across this:  
"Facts are only steam which obscures the mirror of Truth."
It is attributed to a prelate Knox mentions from time to time, not, I think, always with much approbation, the Bishop of Much Wenlock.

Personally, I don't feel I ought to spend my Old Age Pension (or even Pam's) on Crockfords or the Catholic Yearbook, so I can't check whether this Pontiff is Anglican or Catholic (somehow I don't think he's Orthodox). Readers may be able to provide me with an appropriate hermeneutic of discernment.

24 November 2015

Eugepae!! Eugepae!!!

News of a most splendid appointment from the Vatican! I can think of few things more likely to enhance the positions and missions of the three Ordinariates, both in the Universal Church and more widely!  Ad multos annos, plurimosque annos!! Eis Polla ete Despota!!

23 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (5)

After Anglicans restored the Pilgrimage to Walsingham and built a replica of the Holy House, Fr Fynes Clinton had the brilliant idea of using a translation of the old Latin Proper for the Alma Domus of Loretto (in the Appendix pro aliquibus locis) as the Walsingham Shrine Mass; he simply cut out the one phrase in the Collect which referred to its miraculous Translation to Loretto. This Mass was used until, in the 1960s, Anglo-Catholics misguidedly aped the Roman Catholic anti-Traditional fashions of that decade, and composed new formulae in the authentic addled English of the Old ICEL translations.

In the Ordinariate Use Missal, this lovely old English Missal Mass is restored to us in toto just as 'Fynes' left it. (See my post September 23 this year.) More about it next time.

A snatch of autobiography

When the first wave of Anglican priests was in preparation to be admitted to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, we all had to go, one by one, to a Church-run centre in Manchester for 'psychometric' evaluation.

During one of my interviews, the clergyman interviewing me asked whether there was any part of the Church's teaching that I had difficulty with. Bishop Newton had very strongly advised us all to be totally honest, so I said "Well, there is something. I have no trouble accepting it theoretically, but I do have problems internalising it, feeling it. To tell you the truth, I feel a little embarrassed mentioning this ... "

"Out with it", he invited, looking extremely interested, leaning slightly forward. So I explained.

"Particularly when I'm in a big, bustling crowd, I look at all those faces, all apparently with their own preoccupations, everybody pushing and kicking everybody else, and I get Big Doubts. I wonder if it really can be true that God has an individual and salvific and interlocking purpose for each and every one of them. I know, intellectually, that He does ... but .... well ..... particularly in the London rush hour ......"

"No no no", he replied, perhaps a trifle impatiently. All interest had now faded from his face. "I meant Sex".

I resisted the temptation to invent some ridiculously intricate sexual problem.

It had become clear to me that those controlling the process of 'evaluation' had little interest in grilling us to check that we were not closet Monothelites, or a bit dodgy on the question of Usury, or with tendencies to Palamism; but a great concern about our complete conformity to the Church's official teaching on all matters sexual.

I entirely applaud this. How different things would probably have been in, say, 1972.

But I have been puzzling, during this last Synod and in its aftermath in which many participants have been making their respective pitches for controlling the narrative. Why was it so recently deemed so important to check that Ordinariate clergy are 150% orthodox on all questions sexual, while, apparently, Out There some bishops and even cardinals are working day and night to rubbish the Magisterium on such matters? Why, during our 'formation' sessions at Allen Hall, did we have to spend our time being repeatedly, over and over again, drilled on "the post-Conciliar Magisterium", our adherence to Familiaris Consortio, and all the rest of it, when now, only a couple of years later, so many crucial parts of those same documents (in the view of not a few prelates especially in Europe) need to be dumped? At considerable expense, many volumes of teaching aids were provided for our edification from Maryvale ... is it now intended that we should all make a bonfire of them ... so much useless rubbish ...

I never did get an answer to my problem about the London rush hour. It is still with me.

22 November 2015

Ordinariate Use: can any priest say it?

Rubrical Directory Pargraph 5 citing Anglicanorum coetibus  Complementary Norms n.9 @2:
"In cases of pastoral necessity or in the absence of a priest incardinated in an Ordinariate, any priest incardinated in a Diocese or in an Institute of Consecrated Life or Society of Apostolic Life may celebrate the Holy Eucharist according to Divine Worship for members of the Ordinariate who request it."

DUSTING DOWN THE ARCHIVES: What the pope is for

I wrote this on September 3 2010, when we were still in the Church of England. Although I say so myself, it seems to me eerily prescient of what needs to be said now, in a time when, once again, the old and evil maximalising notion of the Papacy ("the Pope can do anything") has raised its exceedingly ugly head; a time when many good people are very fearful (however wrongly) that a pope might act on the ultra vires assumption that he has competence to override the Tradition, to shove the very words of Christ Himself into the fridge. 

But "nenikeka ton kosmon". Her immaculate Heart will prevail.

I have preserved an interesting comment from the old thread.

 "The language of the Vatican [I] decrees on the Roman Pontiff is admittedly formidable at first reading". So wrote Dom Gregory Dix (and he proceeded, in a brilliant and witty tour de force, to demonstrate their congruity, not only with "the second century", but also with "the New Testament"). I think he was right; the language of those degrees does rather give the impression of having been written with a deliberate intention of upsetting the horses. Yet John Henry Newman, despite his earlier apprehensions about what the Ultramontanes (particularly England's own dangerously ultramontane cardinal) were getting up to in Rome, sighed with relief when he saw this wording ... and memorably commented "Nothing has been passed of consequence".

What can look so intimidating if you lack a certain sort of background, can seem matter-of-course or even inconsequential when one does have a sense of context. What one might call the body-language of the Vatican I decrees can seem frightening. They can appear to suggest that the Pope can, at will, impose new dogmas, and directly manipulate the life of any individual Catholic. Those who see them in this way do have some excuses for their anxieties; Wilfred Ward was but one of the Ultras who did believe something frighteningly like that. But Ward's dotty excesses were not what the decrees mean or, indeed, even come anywhere near to saying.

Newman and Ratzinger are strikingly similar in their approach to what the Papacy intrinsically is. Newman, from his "old, Anglican, patristic, literary" background, found himself writing "It is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of dogma." He goes on "And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift". The heart of the role which the Roman Church plays within the Universal Church is, in other words, negative; to be a barrier against the encroachment of novelties.

It is important to grasp this because the two high-profile actions of Roman Pontiffs which in most minds have been associated with the idea of Infallibility-in-action are the two "Marian dogmas". Non-Catholics therefore tend to judge the purpose of the Roman Magisterium in the light of these two manifestations of it. This is unfortunate. Those two definitions are side-issues, not typical of what "Rome" has meant through two millennia. What is typical, as Newman says, is a caution, a conservatism, a sense of the dangers of being daring and clever. The need to be 'creative' is not often found in the writings of S Leo et al.! A patristic scholar less remembered nowadays than he deserves, my distinguished predecessor [at the Church of S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford] Dr Jalland, wrote of Rome's "strange, almost mystical, faithfulness to type, its marked degree of changelessness, its steadfast clinging to tradition and precedent".

Papa Ratzinger comes at the question in exactly the same way as Newman and Jalland. This cautious sense of his essentially negative role is at the heart of his wise discharge of his Pontificate. And nobody should have been surprised at this who had read his words. "The First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition".

I think this is finely put. The Revealed Word; the Sacred Tradition.

21 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (4)

The Ordinariate Missal explains that our "normative"  Eucharistic Prayer in the Ordinariate is the Roman Canon; although it does allow the Dewfall Trattoria Prayer on Weekdays and for Children, it is insistent that it may never be used in Masses for Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. All the other EPs are forbidden. This 'normative' status is logical; the Roman Canon was used from the time of S Augustine until the Reformation, and its restoration, in thousands of churches up and down England, was one of the great fruits of the Catholic Revival, the twentieth century shape of which was determined by the English Missal of 1912. How could anything else possibly be 'Patrimony'?

The Roman Canon can even be seen as more within the tradition of the 1662 Prayer Book's Eucharistic Prayer, despite the Zwinglianism of the latter, since neither Prayer is byzantinised by having had an unRoman Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit shoved into it.

The "German Church" ...

Our Holy Father's address to the German Bishops is not without interest ... and is in some ways unexpected. Bumptious liberals, and traddies who get peculiar kicks out of pessimism, conspire together to assume that Pope Francis is in Cardinal Kasper's back-pocket ... or else, is Cardinal Marx's poodle ...

... whence, therefore all this very pointed stuff about the catastrophic collapse of the Church in formerly Catholic areas of Germany where, in the 1960s, everybody still went to Mass? Who drafted that for the Pope?

Ones mind turns immediately to Cardinal Mueller. Indeed. In the 1960s, he was a teenager in the Palatinate, which, I believe, is less than half Catholic. But, in the 1960s, a Fr Ratzinger was a young priest and theologian in his prime ... and the product of a very Catholic part of Bavaria ...

 ... er ... dunno what to think ... d'you? ... but is there ... could there be ... something of Ratzinger's deft and very faintly cheeky style of handling language in the way the writer slips in the term Pelagian ...

 ... could it just possibly be that ... er ....

Whatever be the truth, somebody has been doing their bit to ensure that the Holy Father is properly briefed about the true state of things in that particularly arrogant part of the Lord's vineyard.

Have I ever written a piece with as many ... er ... aposiopeses?

Our Lady's Presentatation, and its hymns

Today's feast is not a mistaken duplication of February 2! Originally (543) it was the Dedication of New S Mary's By The Temple In Jerusalem; which church in Dom Gueranger's time was thought to be the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount (I gather archaeological views about that may have changed).

This is one of the Twelve Great Festivals among Byzantines, from which it reached Saxon England (it was not grudgingly accepted by Rome until 1585), being sometimes named in England "the Offering [Oblatio] of Mary". The mythos that, aged three, Mary was lodged in the Temple as a contemplative (hesychast) and fed by angels with fruit as from the Tree of Life in Eden, highlights her immaculate sanctity and anticipates her bodily and glorious Assumption. The Byzantine texts for this day are well worth dipping into.

In the Liturgia Horarum, following a happy mandate by the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium, this feast (sadly only Third Class in 1962 and the Novus Ordo) is dignified with proper Office Hymns. The hymn assigned to the Office of Readings consists of some stanzas from the "Golden Jubilee of the Blessed Virgin Mary", described as "(?) Fourteenth Century". This is the hymn which begins
Salve Mater Misericordiae
mater spei et mater veniae,
mater Dei et mater gratiae,
mater plena sanctae laetitiae,
(O Maria).
["Hail Mother of Mercy/ Mother of Hope and forgiveness/ Mother of God and Mother of Grace/ Mother full of holy joy/ (O Maria)"] This 'Jubilee' has a hundred stanzas of which a few are selected nowadays for popular use; a different selection is offered in the Liturgia Horarum.


In 1968, the first draft of the Hymns for the Restored Breviary, produced by Coetus VII under the chairmanship of Dom Anselmo Lentini, had suggested a selection of stanzas from this hymn for the Feast of the Visitation, May 31; Dom Anselmo thought that this hymn was suitable for that day because of the (back in the 1960s) growing popular tradition of celebrating the last day of Marymonth as a celebration of our most blessed Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces. However, this suggestion did not survive into the definitive Liturgia Horarum; instead, a different selection of stanzas from this hymn was assigned to November 21, today.

If you want to enjoy a very cheerful congregational and popular rendering, seek out on Father Ray Blake's blog the full video of the SSPX, celebrant His Excellency Bishop Fellay, offering the Holy Sacrifice in the Concrete Submarine at Lourdes, 27 October 2014 (beginnining of the video). But although the first stanza you will hear, which also functions throughout as a Chorus, is used in the Liturgia Horarum, the other stanzas therein are, as I have said, not those found in the popular selection as in the video.

Lentini, himself a very competent composer of Latin hymnody, described this hymn as "Carmen notissimum ... in suo genere pulcherrimun ac perfectum" ["in its own genre, most beautiful, and perfect ... a very famous poem"].

Surely, a suitable hymn, with a suitably catchy tune, for our Holy Father's Jubilee of Mercy?

20 November 2015

The Semantics of Adultery

No, I am not going to follow the advice of one Comment and desist from using the term 'Adulterers' for 'Remarried Divorcees'.

I've only recently started using it; I'm not naturally a terribly in-your-face sort of person.

One reason for using it would be because "My Father was a Yorshireman and he believed in calling a Spade a Spade". But my Father was most certainly not a Yorkshireman. (Reminds me of a joke by Mr A F Wells of Univ, lecturing in 1960 on Horace, who observed that the difference between the Odes and the Epodes was that in the latter Horace felt free to call a spado a spado.)

My reason would be this. People ask why Divorce, or Marital Breakdown, should be the only Sin which is apparently unforgiveable in the Catholic Church. They don't realise that nobody is claiming that. Nothing at all in the past is too bad for absolution; quite the opposite. But the point is that Remarried Divorcees who have no intention of ceasing a sexual relationship are in fact unrepentant adulterers, because their continuing relationship was described by the Lord as Adultery. Because in His sight they are not married. Or so he said. And, frankly, I don't see how he could have expressed himself more clearly than he did.

The adulterous male is ontologically still married to his "first" wife. Their Marriage still subsists. That is why, every time he and his new Missus embark upon eune kai eros they are ... committing Adultery. But terms like 'ontological' are not part of the common currency of popular discourse.

This is what people don't understand about Catholic teaching; and why it is important to call an Adulterer an Adulterer. This has to be repeated, has to be explained again, because people find it hard to understand how X and Y are still "married in the sight of God", as Jesus of Nazaereth explained, even when they have each got a divorce and 'married' someone else. Even if their later unions have the appearance of marriages, and of a good marriages, and even if they are naturally kind and pleasant people.

19 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (3)

Father wants to squeeze in a Votive in the days left before Advent supervenes? How about the Votive Mass of the Five Wounds of Christ, now appearing translated from the Sarum Missal in the Ordinariate Use? Incredibly popular in Medieval England; the rebels against Henry VIII and Bloody Bess marched under this banner. See earlier posts on this blog ...

Ah, the young ...

 ... they are (or, I suppose, a quite tiny percentage of them is) busily demonstrating to pull down the statue of one Cecil Rhodes, one of our great empire-builders (I don't know who would be the North American equivalent). A little more than a century ago, he gave a quite vast sum of money to Oriel College to rebuild that side (Northern) of one of its quadrangles which faces onto the High Street; and, surprise surprise, the loftiest and centralist statue on this North frontage is of Rhodes ipse (immodestly enclosed in salomonic columns and towering immodestly well above Edward VII and George V). Actually, that quadrangle was originally S Mary's Hall; it had only been finally merged into Oriel a few years before its dowdy but venerable buildings were demolished to be replaced by Rhodes's own apotheosis of Rhodes-and-the-Imperium-Brittannicum. At the time, I would have resolutely opposed this vandalism. After all, Rhodes was a figure not particularly high on the Wholesomeness Scale. But you may feel that he was probably not a lot worse than some of the dubious benefactors whose names are currently being put up all over Oxford.

I can understand why people recently removed the Rhodes statue in Capetown, and, rather longer ago, all the Lenins in Russia, and all the Queen Victorias in Ireland and India (I rather like the solution adopted at University College Cork, where they simply buried the Queen Empress under the emerald turf of that superb quadrangle which could hold its head high anywhere in Oxford). But I doubt whether many inhabitants of this city know whose statue it is, or what his significance is, or feel offence at its presence there. I wonder how many even of those protesting knew  how offended they were by the statue until somebody else explained to them how upset they are. I can't quite see Removing Rhodes as being a popular mass movement engaging and uniting the divided enthusiasms of all those disparate newly-settled communities on the East of this City (it has been said that Oxford is now but the Quartier Latin of Cowley).

But the good news is that Youff have no known wish to see the removal of the eastern-most of the statues on the Rhodes Building; it is of Dr (later Cardinal) Allen, once Principal of S Mary's Hall, who faces across the road to the exuberant baroque porch of the University Church (with its niched statue of our Lady Crowned, an item which featured in the indictment upon which Archbishop Laud was executed).

Had the Armada happily succeeded, His dear Eminence, who devoted so much energy to organising it, would have been Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England, and Popery would have again been triumphant. It says much for the breadth of vision and the solid historical sense of the young that they are so happy to see such a praiseworthy man continuing to be honoured.

If the campaign to remove Rhodes is successful, who should occupy his empty niche? (Blessed John Henry Newman and John Keble are already featured on the South face of the building.) Good men and true will support the nomination of another Principal of S Mary's Hall, Dr William King, for many years the exuberant, admired, and hated leader of the Jacobite Party, not only in Oxford but in England. Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittanniae, as he rather naughtily put it. I wonder what his reward would have been, had the '45 happily succeeded.

What's that you say? Yes!!! Why not put our late Sovereign liege Lord King James III in the Rhodes niche; and his sons Kings Charles III and Henry IX in the  places of Edward VII and George V! You are inspired! 

18 November 2015

Rainbow Query UPDATED

Oh dear ... I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to end up looking very silly ... Hunwicke hoaxed again ... taken in by a rather obvious practical joke ...  the perennial fear of the schoolmaster ... Eponymous Flower has pictures of what it says are official chasubles for the Year of Mercy, decorated with the official logo of the Year of Mercy and also with flashes of the 'rainbow' which now counts as the universal symbol for the homosexualist ideology.

I don't for one moment believe that these are 'official chasubles' (Roman dicasteries do not often prescribe the details of needlework designs), and I would, frankly, prefer it if Eponymous Flower [and other blogs] had a house policy of making a distinction between Facts and Good Jokes. This is mainly because we live in a pontificate in which the jokes so often do turn out to be the facts. But the photograph looks undoctored [UPDATE: SEE THOMAS ON THE THREAD: IT IS PROBABLY DOCTORED], and my suspicion therefore is [WAS] that these garments may possibly be on sale. I've tried the Mancinelli website ... no 'luck'. Can somebody help in establishing the facts?? [THANK YOU THOMAS]

Back in the episcopate of Basil Hume, there was an occasion when homosexualists who approached Holy Communion in his Cathedral wearing rainbow sashes were, on his instructions, repelled from the Sacrament; Holy Communion should, indeed, not be made an occasion for such public political point-making. The Cardinal wrote that it is "fundamentally wrong to use a solemn occasion such as receiving Communion to make a point in a public manner about one's sexuality, either its orientation or practice". (Tablet 6 December 1997.)

I would regard it as even more problematic if a Eucharistic President appeared arrayed in any chasuble bearing homosexualist imagery, whether or not it also had the Mercy logo. My own  reaction would be as strong as Cardinal Hume's was.

Versus Orientem versus Versus Populum

I do not criticise in any way the admirable piece at New Liturgical Movement. But I will point out that its list of commended articles omits the first modern article on this subject, which destroyed the superstition that "The Early Church" had celebration versus populum. This was by the Anglican liturgist Fr Michael Moreton. The spadework, indeed, had all been done by the Anglo-Catholic generation of the 1860s. This important discovery deserves not to be kidnapped by modern RC traddidom.

In my last Anglican Church, S Thomas the Martyr, a member of the congregation in the nineteenth century had been one John Hayward, Blessed John Henry Newman's Scout (who did not follow him into the Catholic Church). Hayward had been so well catechised by my Tractarian predecessor, Canon Thomas Chamberlain, on the importance of versus Orientem, that, when very old and very infirm, he always loudly insisted, on those days when one of the clergy was going to be bringing him the Blessed Sacrament, that the table prepared for that purpose had to be arranged so that the priest would be ... facing East!

And I will mention that sometimes you have to face the people if you want to face East: not only in Roman Basilicas but also, for example, in the two biggest Catholic Churches in Oxford, S Aloysius and Blackfriars. If you don't believe me, visit Oxford and bring a compass.

Commenters who write in (this has happened to me before) with the bizarre claim that, in such cases, facing West is facing East (or that "spiritually" Eastwards is Westwards), will not find their offerings enabled. I have enough trouble coping with the real world without engaging with fictional contralogical alternative universes as well.

17 November 2015


For your (or at least, my) amusement, I will from time to time reproduce an old post which seems to me to have something to say about current circumstances. This piece is from June 4 2015. I was reminded of it by the Holy Father's recent final Allocution to his Synod, which seemed to me, marked as I am by the 28 years I spent as member of Common Room of an English Public School, to be exactly the sort of address one gets from a Public School head master who dimly senses that he is, quite simply, failing to take very many his colleagues with him on some enterprise very dear to his heart. I heard so many such talks ...

If the head master of an English public school addressed Common Room and angrily listed the seventeen ways in which its members were corrupt, and did it just before Christmas [as the Pope did to the Curia in 2014], something would happen. The Governing Body would know about it within hours ... because there always seem to be members of Common Room who are on easy social terms with members of the Governing Body. So, sometime in January, two or three senior members of the Governing Body would be detailed to have a private, completely friendly, unofficial and entirely off-the-record chat with the head master ... sort of ... er ... about How He Saw His Future. But, of course, the Catholic Church is not like an English public school.

Is it like a British governing party? Mrs Thatcher was a powerful prime minister. But, in the end, too many people felt that they had just about had enough. In were sent the Men in Grey Suits. Perhaps the one blow that most deeply wounded the Iron Lady was delivered by the very greyest of all the grey men who have ever lived, Geoffrey Howe [who died a few weeks ago]; of whom some wit (Dennis Healey, I think) had averred that being attacked by him was like being savaged by a dead sheep. Mercilessly, in a House of Commons where you could have heard a pin drop, he destroyed her with an elegant metaphor drawn from the game of cricket. Within weeks, she was History.

What, of course, has made the Papacy different from both of those institutions is that the pope does not retire. He carries on until death. So, apart from murdering him ... a solution with "First Millennium" precedents ...  there is no way of getting rid of him. He can't be manoeuvred into retiring. Strategies designed to isolate him, to put pressure on him, to plot against him, to ambush him, to stack up coalitions against him, simply don't make any practical sense. You just have to put up with him until Providence sends in the Grim Reaper. There are no men in grey suits, or greying cassocks, to put a friendly knife in.

Or rather, that is how things were until the abdication of Benedict XVI.

I do not think that the implications of his abdication have yet been fully recognised. Not since the Council of Constance had a living pope receded from the See of Rome. In 1415, the Council deposed the 'Pisan' pope John XXIII (who accepted deposition on 4 June ... six hundred years ago ... how time does fly ... ), and then accepted the resignation of the 'Roman' pope Gregory XII on 4 July. In 1417 it deposed the 'Avignon' pope Clement VIII, and elected Martin V. No subsequent pope has abdicated or been deposed. Since then, the assumption that the pope is a Given whom only God can loose from his pontificate, has, surely, been one of the most potent protections of each succeeding pontiff.

After Benedict's abdication, nothing can ever be the same again. No future pope can ever be as immovable as every pope was from Constance until Benedict.

Eventually, this will sink in. Eventually, popes will become as disposable as head masters and Mrs Thatcher.

And this implies a consequential loss of power; a vulnerability.

[I wonder if (I wouldn't put it past him) Pope Benedict XVI realised all this. I wonder if his abdication was his last and most masterly coup to undermine the post-Vatican II construct, against which he had so vigorously argued, of the Pope Who Can Do Anything, who is an Absolute Monarch; and to restore the Vatican I model of a strictly limited papacy with its limitations clearly and lucidly described.]

16 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (2)

Next Sunday, in the Novus Ordo, is Christ the King. Sadly, the Ordinariate Calendar was made to follow the OF Calendar, so it will observe Christ the King this Sunday. BUT look at the Collect. The Novus Ordo mutilated the Collect, which had originally been composed to express the doctrine of the Social Reign of Christ the King over all nations and all communities. Disgraceful. BUT the Ordinariate Use returns to the Collect as originally composed under Pius XI, unbowdlerised! A vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre! Would he have been surprised if he could have known that ...

P.S. A good one today on Gkirkuk.

Laudato si ... Oecologizandum est in Fide?

Some weeks ago, a kind person pointed out that I could no longer evade reading Laudato si, since the normative Latin text was now available. Thank you! I had been very busy recently; but have now got round to looking at it. Goodness, isn't it long? But it will substantially augment the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis, since it is full of neologisms. They are mainly simple latinisations of common modern terms based on Latin or Greek roots, such as oecosystema. I approve of this; I fundamentally disliked the preference of the Lexicon to favour clumsy and prolix circumlocutions rather than grasping the nettle of creating servicable neologisms. I am perhaps a little less happy about those terms which mingle Latin with Greek, but, as the Duke of Wellington put it, In for a penny, in for a pound.

One such hybrid neologism is Biodiversitas (paragraph 32 and others). I homed in on this section, because a little while ago the retiring Vice-Chancellor, in his final October Oration, revealed that this University (I'm not making this up) had produced its own brand of genetically modified mosquito called OxitecGM. These "insects are incapable of reproducing effectively. The idea is that if they are introduced into the wild, the native disease bearing mosquito population will collapse", says he. Does this invention constitute an increase of biodiversitas by the addition of a new species, or the possible reduction of biodiversitas because of the threats it poses both to the present mosquito population, and to the well-being of the Malaria bug?

I wonder how lucid other readers found this section of the encyclical. It seemed to me to lack a clear explication of exactly what the term means; and of any basic or unifying reason why biodiversitas is a good thing. Sometimes the reason given for the preservation of a species seems aesthetic: our descendants will otherwise miss some types of beauty which we enjoy (but if Beauty is subjective, how do we know what they will find beautiful?). Sometimes it appears to be suggested that species simply glorify God sua existentia. (The Oxford zoologists who have created OxitecGM seem unaware that malarial mosquitos, and Malaria itself, glorify God by their mere existence.) Sometimes thoroughly utilitarian reasons are given: the most improbable species may, to put it baldly, on some unforeseeable occasion be of use to pharmaceutical firms (or biological warfare manufacturers?).

Does the Roman Pontiff mean that some species are justified by one reason, others by a different reason? So that we identify which reason justifies which species and make pragmatic decisions accordingly? Or do all the reasons have to be valid in each case? Or does the sua existentia argument cover everything? God made it, whatever it is, so it glorifies him by its mere existence, so it is ipso facto good, period? If this last, how does Pope Francis expect to persuade non-theists, who are among those addressed by this document, to favour a biodiversitas which appears to be based upon Christian, or at least theistic, dogma?

As well as the Mosquito and Malaria, what, for example, about the smallpox virus? Does biodiversitas require that it should be spread liberally all around the world, to be widely experienced by large numbers of humans? So that our descendants can admire its beauty? I gather that it has now been exterminated except for small specimen amounts of it kept in conditions of the highest security in two laboratories, one in Russia, one in North America. Do those minute specimen amounts function satisfactorily for the purpose of 'glorifying God' by their mere, minimal laboratory existence? If so, what does this phrase actually mean? The campaign for biodiversitas would seem to be reduced to something very like Philately ... doing ones best to put together and to preserve a complete set of all the different varieties of the Tuppenny Blue, or whatever. Except that God doesn't command us to collect postage stamps. Or will that be the next development of the Papal Magisterium?

Because if Darwin's theory of evolution is factual, we live in a world in which some species are continually going out of existence for reasons of 'Natural' Selection, giving place to other evolving species. Is it really our duty to secure, by hook or by crook, the survival of specimen samples of all the 'naturally' disappearing species so that they can for ever fulfill all or at least one of the purposes which the Holy Father has listed? That seems a new and onerous moral obligation to place upon our race. And many non-Catholics might wonder how exactly the Roman Pontiff has the right, despite Dignitatis humanae, to impose moral obligations motu proprio upon the human race, and imperiously to demand submission. And I would wonder why it, and the whole concept of moral obligation which it appears to drag along with it, are not also imposed upon every other species. Centipedes, for example, and Great White Sharks. Or are we supposed to educate them all in the morality of the new ideology? Gosh, what a job!!

Or is it to be accepted that 'naturally' some species displace others ... that's 'natural' so that's OK ... so that our only obligation is to be careful ourselves not to cause the disappearance of other species? But why should that be? Are we not a species, ourselves part of the oecosystema, part of what's 'natural'? You could get round this by invoking the Christian doctrine that Man is a radically different kind of species totally set apart from all the others, in the mind and dispositions of the Creator in whose image he is made; but, once again, the atheists and agnostics to whom the Encyclical is also addressed would be justified in calling "Cheat" if one thus arbitrarily smuggled in Catholic Dogma in order to leap across such a dodgy logical gap.

I must confess that I am completely at sea in all this stuff. As Callimachus didn't say, of ideologopoia there appears to be no end. Perhaps I'd better just leave it to megabrains such as Dr Dawkins and Papa Bergoglio. If the ideology (or theology or philosophy?) of Oecologia is all as hard going as this, I think I'll stick to recondite liturgical and Classical minutiae. Tally Ho for the lacunae in Henry Bannister's Reichenau Fragment and the function of the digamma in the latest Sappho papyrus. And what was the Sequence of Colours in the diocese of Nidaros in the late 1380s?

15 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (1)

The Ordinariate Missal being now available, I may from time to time, under the above heading, give a brief comment upon some detail in this splendid volume; which, in general terms, is the sort of thing which should have been given to the Anglophone Churches in about 1970.

In these brief pieces I shall not give a lot of detail. Almost invariably, you can find explanations in earlier posts on this blog, if you are prepared to use the Search Engine.

Sedevacantism yet again

As a Man of Mercy, I do feel compassionate towards those Catholics who express to me anxiety that our present Holy Father may not be the lawful occupant of the See of S Peter. But I re-reiterate: no Catholic can with a good conscience decide for himself/herself that the See of Rome has become vacant through heresy. The Church, in some formal and corporate way, would need either to depose a heretical pope (thus, S Cajetan; John of S Thomas) or to declare that he had himself through heresy already forfeited the See (thus, S Bellarmine, Turrecremata). DIY is no good. All traditional theologians over the centuries who have considered the question (yes, there's nothing unCatholic in considering the question) are agreed about this. Forget it.

The practical aspects confirm the absurdity of Sedevacantism. Our Lord promised that his Church was indefectible. And the papacy is by Divine Institution a pretty central institution in the Church Militant. But, according to the Sedevacantists, the See of S Peter has been vacant for a very long time. I'm not quite sure for how long, because they disagree among themselves about when the vacancy began. If since the death of Ven Pius XII, 9 October 1958, then the See has been vacant now for more than 57 years! There is nothing remotely like that in Church History. What is the longest that the First See has ever been vacant? All Catholic sources except one would tell you that the record Interregnum came after the death of Clement IV in 1268, when the papacy was vacant for two years, nine months, and two days. (The Archdiocesan Church of Westminster, which curiously regards the Pisan Antipope Alexander V as a lawful pope and the next lawful pope after him as being Martin V, believes in an Interregnum of 7 years, from 1410 to 1417.)

But fifty seven years? Fifty seven years and counting?? You gotta be joking! And who would elect a pope now? There are no cardinals left from the reign of Pius XII; and how could an Ecumenical Council do so, since a Council cannot lawfully be convoked except by ... a Pope!

Francis is Pope and we need to be in Communion with him and that's the end of the matter. You may feel that there are problems in the Church of Today, and you may even be right to feel that (who am I to judge?), but this particular anti-traditional short-cut out of such problems is not an answer.

14 November 2015


Nature abhors a vacuum. When Christendom won the Battle of Lepanto, the hands of the peasantry clutched rosaries. I do not see how a vacuum can withstand the Islamic onslaught.

"The temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia Docens"

I've been thinking about this elegant and careful phrase with which Blessed John Henry Newman, not writing theologically but factually as an historian, described the period of the Arian ascendancy. I take it in the sense in which he subsequently clarified his use of it, and not otherwise.

I suppose we had a good example of this phenomenon of 'suspense' in the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI, in the period between his setting up of a Commission to consider the question of Contraception, and his very courageous subsequent reaffirmation of the Church's Magisterial Teaching with the publication of Humanae vitae.

I presume we are in another such period now. The question of  the admission of adulterers to Holy Communion was magisterially dealt with as recently as 2007 in Sacramentum Caritatis para 29; it had  received synodical and papal clarification in each of the last two pontificates; and is embedded in the Catechism. But a 'suspense' began when it was opened up to synodal debate; and that 'suspense' will end when this or a subsequent Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council reasserts the teaching of the Magisterium (or possibly when the error, having run its course, dies a natural death).

Our learned Patron Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman made clear that he in no way implied the cessation of the Magisterial teaching or office during a 'suspense'. The Dogma of Nicea remained de jure fully in force; but was simply not treated as such by many bishops and so did not 'function'. The bishops remained ex officio guardians and teachers of the Faith; but de facto failed to guard and to teach it.

Things now are very similar. The teaching of the Magisterium is still, obviously, formally still vigore pleno; but numbers of unfaithful or negligent bishops behave as though it were not.

During a 'suspense', does the episcopal ministry of those bishops who are heterodox on this one point still call for religiosum obsequium on other matters? Or is one obliged to consider their entire episcope vitiated by just one point of formal heterodoxy?

Personally, I have a strong sense of the logical coinherence of the whole body of Christian teaching. Once you start unravelling the Church's doctrine, it seems to me, there will be no end to it. Hence, with a dubiously orthodox bishop or pope, one may rejoice in those portions of doctrine which he still appears to teach, but one will not be able to rest ones adhesion to those portions upon the fact that he does still teach them. "I do not say to you that you must believe X because bishop or pope Y teaches it; you must believe X because it is the defined teaching of the Church. Thus, if tomorrow, Y weakens his adherence to X, that will not, by so much as a nanogram, weaken your continuing obligation to believe X. It follows that Y's current assertion of X in no way strengthens your ground for believing X".

Thus a pope or bishop who has suspended his adherence to any part of the corpus of doctrine has put into suspense his entire magisterial ministry.

I emphasise that, throughout this piece, I am seeking not to give answers but to articulate questions. They are questions which I would very much prefer had not been put before us.

But they have been.

13 November 2015

I have given, with some hesitation, the benefit of the doubt ...

... to a comment using the phrase "Camp Bergoglio". I shall not enable that phrase in future, because (at least in English English) it could have an innuendo.

Since the Holy Father continually calls for Parrhesia, freedom of speech, and robustness of expression, I see no objection to measured and respectful expressions of difference from him. A free and frank discussion is what he wants in the Church. So he's entitled to have it.

But only within the obvious boundaries.

12 November 2015

ORDO; and Pope Francis

I notice that other blogs are recommending ORDOs for next year. For those who are Ordinary Form chaps and chappesses, but would enjoy something which somewhat elevates bog-standard Bugnini, I commend the ORDO which I still compile, Order for the Eucharist and for Morning and Evening prayer in the Church of England 2016. It gives full information both for the Novus Ordo Roman Rite (Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal) and for the Church of England (Common Worship). Tufton Books. (By the way, it starts with Advent.)

For those who would like something unusual and really quite exciting, I recommend (if you haven't tried it already) the ORDO done by the St Lawrence Press. It will remind you of the days before Ven Pius XII started out on his career of liturgical 'reform'. In other words, it offers you the Roman Rite as it was in 1939. You will discover an exotic world in which feasts always had a First Vespers; greater feasts had Vigils; greatest ones had Octaves. You will be surprised to realise how much of what we label 'Bugnini' was really imposed before the Council and before S John XXIII.

Of course, its actual use today would be totally illegal. I am not encouraging anything so improper. No way could you possibly ... er ...

... what am I saying ...

 ... Pope Francis, by word and example, has insistently made clear his dislike of Pharisaical people who make a fuss about sticking to the rules and think they are better than everybody else because they do so. Yes! In this pontificate, you need not be legalistic pedants! Get up out of the Seat of Moses! Use this ORDO now, quickly, in case our beloved Holy Father is succeeded by someone pharisaical! Could be your last chance!

Intrinsically disordered

I feel, frankly, embarrassed when I hear homosexuality discussed in ways which must be uncomfortable to millions of good and admirable Catholic people with homosexual 'orientations' who, with the help of God's grace, live a life in accordance with divine law; or, perhaps, sometimes fall into sin but do their best by cooperating with Grace to live well, rejecting the corrupt voices inviting them to proclaim such actions as normal. There was a fair bit of this going on in the context of that Synod, with one tendenz demanding changes in the teaching of the Church; while others defend Christian teaching without avoiding insensitive language. (By the way: I am one of those who use the term 'homosexualist' to mean, not a person with an affective inclination towards their own gender, but those people, of whatever 'orientation', who make an ideology out of portraying homosexual genital actions as normal.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2357, quoting the SCDF Declaration Persona humana of 1976, describes such actions as "suapte intrinseca natura inordinati", and goes on to comment "Legi naturali sunt contrarii". I would simply wish to point out that this language is very much in line with the language of the Encyclical Casti Connubii which Pope Pius XI issued in 1930, and which, incidentally, was a reaction to a Anglican Lambeth Conference which had very slightly opened the door to the possibility of 'Contraception' in hard cases. (Here again, we detect Anglicanism in its adoption of error as being simply a generation or two ahead of those Catholics who now urge the same apostasies upon their own Church.) The Roman Pontiff, in that Encyclical, describes Contraception as "intrinsece contra naturam"  and "Intrinsece inhonestum". Indeed, he goes on to remind us that "the Divine Majesty detests this unspeakable crime (nefandum facinus) with the deepest hatred and has sometimes punished it with death". Tough talk.

To put the same point the other way round: since the Magisterium describes contraceptive heterosexual activity as intrinsece wrong, it would be irrational and discriminatory if it did not use similar language with regard to homosexual activity.

I believe that our Holy Mother the Church is 105% right in her teaching about the intrinsic disorder of homosexual genital actions. But I think it is unbalanced to dwell upon this without, equally loudly, reminding each other of the strong language with which Tradition and the Magisterium have condemned perverted activities within marriage; activities which, so some people are endlessly anxious to convince us, are very common among modern married Catholics.

And, while I'm on about all this, a word about Friendship. There is sound evidence in the Christian Tradition for the sanctifying character of Amicitia. The problem now is that if two people of the same sex are known to be living together and to be fond of each other ... and why on earth should this not be so ...  the censoriously orthodox may be tempted to jump to the conclusion that they are cohabiting in unnatural vice. But in (I think) Launceston church there is a moving eighteenth century monument to two gentry who lived together in much amity all their lives. And the Byzantines had liturgical rites for constituting two men as Brothers. In such cases, there is not the least suggestion of approval of genital perversion (which in eighteenth century England was a capital offence and is explicitly dealt with in Byzantine penal codes). But now we live in an age of innuendo and snigger and ... worse: the homosexualist Thought Police seize every opportunity of flaunting anything which seems to them to indicate that large percentages of people are 'gay'; and that being 'gay' is normal and 'coming out' is highly praiseworthy. So such a couple runs the appalling risks of being labelled as 'a gay couple'; being regarded with suspicion by some of the orthodox; and being treated with patronising and condescending approval by a ruthlessly aggressive homosexualist mafia.

It's a difficult ... and very nasty ... world that we live in. For men; for women; for heterosexuals; for homosexuals.

11 November 2015

De Figulis; or, Potters and their yoghurt and lentils.

Vast crowds of school children, never a pleasant sight, pouring out of Cardinal College (aka Christ Church). Having visited its magnificent Hall, were they chattering excitedly about Wolsey; showing off their knowledge of Tudor History, their appreciation of English late Perpendicular architecture? No. Their every word was about "Dumbledore". I wonder how much money the House has made out of hiring its Hall for the filming, and out of the subsequent tourism.

And, on Monday afternoon, a very entertaining visiting lecture by Peter Wiseman of Balliol, Professor of Classics emeritus et non minime barbatus at Exeter University ... who, since he taught J K Rowlings Classics at that University, has been the subject of media speculation as being the model for Harry Potter's professorial and bearded mentor.

Some blogger whose name eludes me ... so many blogs, so much twaddle, as I'm sure it says in Ecclesiastes ... has recently used the rather mannered phrase "like thick yoghurt moving slowly over fine gravel". Professor Wiseman's lecture was about a nearly forgotten genre of ancient drama called the Hilarotragedy, which means more or less what it says on the label and (judging from the slides he showed us) seems sometimes to have included naked floosies upside down. He has unearthed a surviving phrase from one such play, called the Nekuia, which was written (not by Offenbach but) by a chap called Sopatros: to epi tei phakei muron [sweet balsam over lentils].

I think that's much jollier, don't you?

Go on, say Yes.

10 November 2015

Pope Francis

Today's Bolletino contains addresses which for the most part simply repeat what we have so often heard from our Holy Father about whom he likes and whom he very deeply dislikes. Familiar Bergoglian hate-words such as Pelagian and Gnostic make yet another weary appearance. But there is, at one or two points, a profound and distinct anti-intellectualism, which I have not noticed before. I find this worrying. Anti-intellectualism is a stance people very often adopt when they propose to do something irrational.

Some people may find this extract quite funny. I resist the temptation to comment.
"May your words be simple, so that everyone can understand, rather than long homilies."

I'm still resisting hard ...

My problems with a Novus Ordo Preface (only for the Latinate)

Praefatio III de Dominicis per Annum.

VD ... omnipotens aeterne Deus: Ad cuius immensam gloriam pertinere cognoscimus ut mortalibus tua Deitate succurreres; sed et nobis provideres de ipsa mortalitate nostra remedium, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvares, per Xtm Dnm nostrum.

I first started thinking about this ... you know how it is  ... because I couldn't think of the answer to a rather obvious question which a III Former could probably suss: why are the subjunctive verbs in Historic Sequence (i.e. Imperfect Subjunctives)? I still haven't shifted this log-jam in my mind ...

In despair, I ended up, as one does, looking at the Verona Sacramentary, which I suspect has the earliest known version of this preface (beginning of October). Basic differences are these: for the "pertinere cognoscimus" VS simply had "pertinet"; and the subjunctive verbs were in the Perfect Subjunctive: "succurreris ... provideris ... salvaris". These perfect subjunctives seem already to have mutated into imperfects in the Sacramentarium Bergomense and the 'Gregorian' Missal.

Are we to interpet the VS version as "It pertains to your ginormous glory that you have succoured ... have provided ... have saved ...?" This seems to me to make better sense and grammar than the subsequent alterations. It is, indeed, roughly how current ICEL renders the formula. Did 'they' change 'pertinet' to 'pertinere cognoscimus' so that 'pertinere' could stand for an aorist 'pertinuit' in  Oratio obliqua?

You see what a whirl my poor wrinkly mind is going round in ... it's Old Age ... I'm sure sharp young things out there will be able to explain everything in a trice ... it would be nice if somebody would ...

9 November 2015

Should Popes be celibate?

There is evidence that Popes should not be allowed to be celibate. A campaign for Married Popes, then? Let me lay some evidence before you.

Exhibit 1: The Great Facade, which I and some of you have been reading, recounts the episode which Chris Ferrara calls "Rabbitgate": when the Holy Father spoke thoroughly blokishly about a woman who had a lot of children

(Do you have the term and concept of Blokishness in North America? Did Plato envisage an Idea of Blokishness? What might it be in Attic Greek? Or Spanish?)

Exhibit 2: Chris might profitably also have mentioned another hilarious example of this same tendency, when our much-loved and greatly respected Sovereign Pontiff likened Europe, to Europe's considerable disadvantage, to an old and now infertile Grandmother. I have privately christened this glorious gaffe "Cronegate".

Suppose it were to chance that Papa Bergoglio were to be marooned (which Heaven forbid) on a Desert Island alone with a Grandmother who had had fifteen children ... gracious, how I would love to be a Fly upon the Wall.

If Pope Francis were, like myself and many of you chaps out there, to have a wife who had been a large part of his life for more than half a century, it is conceivable that he might have picked up from her, however gradually and however imperfectly, slightly more nuanced ways of doing linguistic business with the other half of the Human Race. Indeed, you might tell me that he would need to be stone deaf not to have done so.

You still don't think he would ..... ?

You don't think (I dutifully employ here the terminology of the Vatican I Decree Pastor Aeternus) that the Holy Spirit was promised to the Successors of Peter in order to teach them how to be polite to women?

 ..... No ... you're probably right ... some things are just too ... er ... y'know ...

Liturgical Vicars Apostolic: Bonventure Giffard

Fr Richard Whinder has very kindly provided the extremely interesting information that Bishop Richard Challoner, of whose liturgical interests I wrote recently, was not the first of our Vicars Apostolic to have a hand in the provision of a National Proper for this Kingdom of England. His predecessor, the great Bonaventure Joseph Giffard, Bishop of Madaura, sometime President of Magdalen College in this University, bombarded Rome with requests for a National Proper; his particular devotion was to S Augustine. He found that Rome lacked proper urgency in this matter. Angrily, he wrote:
"I shall trouble them no more on this account, but doe by my own authority, what they neglect. If this displeases the fault is theirs. If I have not their approbation by the end of October, I will order the keeping of this Feast, and signify the same in our Directory".

Clearly, a reply was not forthcoming; because in his 1733 ORDO S Augustine duly appears, as a Greater Double, with the defiant note "De Mandato Reverendissimi Madaurensis". (Incidentally, presumably in honour of his Patron Saint, he ordered S Joseph to be added to the Litanies after S John Baptist.) The Proper orationes and the Second Nocturn Readings are the same that, in the nineteenth century, we find given for S Augustine in the Propers for England.

(Fr Whinder found the Ordo in the Westminster archives; other information came from Dom Basil Hemphill's 'The Early Vicars Apostolic of England'.)

What is the Russian for ...

... Axios?

8 November 2015


Today's collect is that of the Fifth after Epiphany; but we use it today, because this year we had too few Sundays after Epiphany for it; Septuagesima came trotting along too soon! Now, in November, we find ourselves with spare Sundays which complain loudly that they are unprovided with Masses, before we start Advent. All, of course, because of the thoroughly irresponsible way Easter swings around from being early to being late.

This beautiful and ancient prayer asks God to guard (custodi) his Household (familia) with "continua pietate".  This is the word which gives us the English term piety; but there is rather more to it than that. After all, the English word piety suggests a humble human attitude of devout religious attention to God. That is misleading. And it would confuse you as you read this particular prayer: after all, God isn't pious towards us; We're supposed to be pious towards him.

Pius is a Latin adjective and pietas is the noun that comes from it; pietate is what's called the Ablative, so pietate means "with pietas". And what these words refer to is the sense of duty and obligation which somebody has towards those to whom he is bound by bonds of kinship or religion or country or friendship or whatever. In Vergil's epic the Aeneid, the hero is called "Pius Aeneas" because he is dutiful to the Gods (he rescues the sacred Palladium); to his country Troy (for which he fights as long as possible: when there is no further hope, he guides its remnants to a new country); to his Father (whom he carries out of the wreckage of Troy upon his shoulders); to his friend Pallas (an adolescent whose death in battle Aeneas avenges in the bloodthirsty climax at the end of Book XII of the Aeneid).

But Vergil also uses pietas to refer to the gods themselves: "May the gods, if there is any pietas in heaven ...."; and "Almighty Juppiter ... if any ancient pietas regards human labours ..." (compare "If pia divinities can do anything ..."). The idea was that the Gods, too, can be thought of as having their duties towards mortals (or particular mortals). And this sense was to be very common in Christian Latin, which developed as a special dialect crafted to serve the needs of Christians and especially of their Liturgy. So pietas becomes synonymous with misericordia (mercy) and clementia (clemency). And the end of this story of the evolution of words is that we get the English derivative pity. (Incidentally, the old Lewis and Short is rather less helpful on this than the newer Oxford Latin Dictionary.)

So ... does pietate in this collect mean (1) our devoted duty to God, or (2) his covenanted loving-kindness to us? In his English translation, Archbishop Cranmer got it wrong and thought it meant the former (1): so he rendered it as "true religion" (and, in another similar collect, "godliness"). Experts are agreed, however, that it means the latter (2). But Cranmer was aware of the two possibilities: for Epiphany 1 he correctly rendered caelesti pietate ('heavenly pietas') as "mercifully".

In fact, there is a slight difference between 'ordinary' Christian speech and the usage of prayers like the collect we are considering now. In more 'ordinary' everyday Christian Latin, for example, in sermons, pietas refers to human attitudes towards God more often than the other way round; in prayers, the word most commonly refers to God's loving attitude towards us. As it does in this collect. This may be a spin-off from the way that, in Roman Imperial circles, people addressed the Mighty. Another possibility is that this may be another example of how 'Christian Latin', as used in prayer, adopted much of the style and vocabulary of very ancient pre-Christian Roman prayer-language; a process brilliantly documented by Christine Mohrmann.

[The main expert on Christian Latin was the great Christine Mohrmann. Today's post also benefits from books by Sr Mary Gonzaga Haessly and Sr Mary Pierre Ellebracht (which I gather can both be found on the Internet). This is a subject to which, before the collapse of both liturgical scholarship and of women's religious communities in the 1960s, women scholars made very significant contributions. What a tremendous shame that even their names are now so little known! I regard it as a demand of pietas to do what I can to remedy the situation!]

7 November 2015

Blogs ...

I don't very often recommend other blogs ... except, of course those of Frs Finigan and Blake, Fr Zed and Rorate ... but it occurs to me that some of you may not know the blog you can find by googling IGNATIUS HIS CONCLAVE BLOG. It is written by one GKIRKUK. The author is obviously (as you will have guessed from such a name) a Slavic-born former priest of the C of E who now belongs to the Ordinariate; he made his name and fame, firstly by running a vibrant Inner-City London parish; secondly by being the best chef de cuisine in the Anglican Communion; thirdly by writing a beautiful satiric column for a magazine called New Directions which we all used to enjoy when we were still in (what Wilfrid Ward called) Old Mother Damnable. We miss it now. They were happy, happy, days; ND was edited by a clever and laughter-loving clergywife called Sara Lowe (also now, together with her husband, in Full Communion), and  ... well, you can tell how totally jolly it was from the fact that the Anglican hierarchy used to criticise it for its Tone. One of the few things in life you can be absolutely sure about is that, if Management tells you it doesn't like your Tone, you are getting something right.

You need to know that the Justin who writes such revealing letters to Dear Frank is the Most Reverend the Father in God the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Metropolitan and Primate of All England, alterius orbis papa; and Frank is the Successor Petri. I nunc et lege.