29 March 2017

Celebrity Pontiffs

In an idle moment, I browsed through some grainy old black-and-white video clips of the life of Pius XII. I had not realised how much he travelled in the 1930s, when he was Secretary of State. It all looked uncannily like a preview of the culture mainly set in place by S John Paul II, of the travelling papal circus going from country to country, doing big things at big services in a thoroughly big way. Not surprisingly, Cardinal Pacelli was called the cardinale volante (remember that air travel was by no means as every-day at that time), and described as a sort of vice-papa. Occasionally, I was even reminded of Herr Hitler and the cult he fostered ... Pacelli and Hitler have in common a legacy of embarrassing studio photographs showing the Great Man trying out 'to camera' some rhetorical gestures.

I am far from sure that I agree with all that sort of thing. If we are to use our 'modern' technology to whizz images around the world, the sort of things we need to show and be shown must include the lovely clip, reproduced on Eponymous Flower, of Papa Ratzinger silently and most humbly kneeling before his Eucharistic Lord while the Divine Praises are chanted.

Foreign visits? On the one hand, the role of Peter is to strengthen his brethren, and I would have to concede that a papal visit can be very strengthening to a besieged and insecure local Church (and in such circumstances would be even more powerful if it were rarer). But the whole present-day business does rather suggest to me that a pope is a sort of superbishop, which he isn't. He is the Bishop of that Church with which all Christians are supposed to be in communion; of the Church where Peter's voice lives and speaks - so that under specified conditions he articulates the Infallibility of the whole Church and has a Primacy, when and where it is needed, of ensuring that the universal norma fidei is everywhere also the local norm. In a healthy Particular Church, surely the local Successor of the Apostles, the Diocesan Bishop, should be capable, in normal circumstances, of fulfilling the munera apostolica without needing the Head Master to come into his classroom and restore order? 

The endless and vulgar showcasing of Papa Bergoglio demonstrates how inherently dangerous this cult of personality really is. Turning the Servus servorum Dei into a cosmopolitan celeb obscures, rather than expresses, his true place in the Church Militant, as that role has been handed down and was taught authoritatively by Vatican I. Even Pio Nono did not consider that his  Primacy (which he was indeed anxious to have defined) required him to gad around the world showing it off like a girl with a new engagement ring. And, before anybody draws my attention to the 'pompous' 'Renaissance' rituals of the pre-John Paul I Papacy, I will suggest to you that a pope lurching precariously around on an old-style sedia and with a weighty triregnum* to keep safely balanced on his head was not in a position to posture and gesture and flirt with the mob, or to dish out ill-considered one-liners to a hungry Press. But the modern papal cult, for all its phony 'immediacy' and showy 'spontaneity' and theatrical 'humility', is a much more domineering phenomenon than all those harmlessly quaint bits of baroque fun. And, in the hands of a pope who does not care about doctrine, and who has a supreme over-confidence in the value of his own misguided and often inane off-the-cuff remarks, the entire, present-day officially promoted papal personality cult is a very dangerous and profoundly unedifying tool.

Next time, we could do with a much quieter and less visible and more considered papacy. A pontificate along the lines of the Petrine Ministry as it was so admirably defined in the careful and balanced words of Vatican I; as it was publicly demonstrated in the quiet and gentle Petrine Ministry of Pope Benedict. Perhaps we may even now pray for that man who, in God's omniscient foreknowledge, will be the next Roman Pontiff?

Unless, of course, we are truly living in the Last Days.

* A truly edifyingly and really humble pontiff might resume the use of the papier-mache tiara made for the Coronation of Pius VII after the Conclave held in Venice while Rome was occupied by French revolutionary armies. It was light-weight, and is said last to have been worn by B Pius IX. 

28 March 2017

Cardinal Easton and Formal Corrections of Roman Pontiffs (2)

Yes, I thought you would be surprised that Easton, while at Oxford, was both a Hellenist and a Hebraeist. I remember, when I researched my favourite fourteeenth century prelate, Bishop John Grandisson of Exeter, being surprised to learn that among his books was a Hebrew Grammar. Perhaps some of the popular inherited assumptions about the New Learning and Medieval Obscurantism could do with being revisited.

Adam Cardinal Easton is buried at the back of his Titular Church, Sancta Caecilia trans Tiberim (not a million miles away from where a couple of liturgists, in the mid-1960s, botched together in a pub the bizarre formula officially known as Eucharistic Prayer II). On his tomb, a couple of elegiac couplets:-

Artibus ipse Pater famosus in omnibus ADAM
     Theologus summus cardique nalis erat.
Anglia cui patriam, Titulum dedit ista beatae
     Aedes Caeciliae, morsque suprema Polum.

Yes; perhaps the writer was not above an occasionally iffy quantity, particularly in loan words from Greek. But I knew you would be delighted by that rather neat tmesis in the second half of the second line. Not quite as striking (in every sense ... geddit?) as the famous phrase from Ennius saxo cere comminuit brum. Perhaps it would be excessively Alexandrian (or Cyrenaean?) to suggest that the tmesis on Easton's tomb referred to his split possession of the cardinalitial state.

One of my colleages at Lancing, a mathematician with a carefully crafted cockney accent, once said to me "Why are you so contra bl**dy dictory?" Perhaps, as a rather baroque literary device, tmesis is still not dead!

At this time when Formal Fraternal Corrections of Roman Pontiffs are so much in the air, I expect that the tomb of Adam Cardinal Easton is daily surrounded by swarming flocks of thoughtful visitors, including cardinals in mufti. (The best one could do to chase up Easton in Oxford would be to visit the oldest part of Worcester College, containing the medieval staircases occupied by the students from the English Benedictine houses; in Easton's time it was called 'Gloucester Hall'.)

Is the Castle at Nocera, where Easton and his fellow signatories were tortured by Urban VI, still standing? Does it have a Visitor Centre with interactive displays of cardinals busily writing Formal Fraternal Corrections and then being tortured?

When a Pope personally tortures a cardinal, is this, according to Cardinal Nichols and the hypersuperueberpapalists, a formal Magisterial action, performed under the direct and intimate guidance of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity?

27 March 2017

The Formal Correction of a Roman Pontif ... and its dangers ... (1)

One of the greatest ornaments of this immensely humble University was Cardinal Dom Adam Easton, distinguished teacher of Greek and Hebrew; distinguished canonist; international diplomat; worker for Church Unity; spiritual director ...

He was made a Cardinal Presbyter in 1381 by Pope Urban VI. His probems began when that Pope tranferred his curia to Nocera (Umbria) in 1384. Soon afterweards, Five Cardinals, including Easton, wrote a Letter to Urban, protesting against his cruelty and despotism. This led to their incarceration in Nocera Castle and their daily torture under the Holy Father's personal supervision. Somewhere around Christmas and New Year 1385/1386, four of the (by now degraded) cardinals, and another cardinal who had come under suspicion, were executed in Genoa. Easton survived because of the personal intervention of King Richard II. Under the next pontificate, that of Boniface IX, Easton was restored to favour and to the cardinalitial dignity.

He is said to have had a hand in the imposition upon the Church Universal of the Feast of our Lady's Visitation, as an act of intercession for unity. (The behaviour of Pope Urban VI had led to the Great Western Schism ... it's the sort of thing that can happen when you have a disordered and profoundly dysfunctional papacy ...)

More later on Cardinal Easton, Man for our Times.

26 March 2017


So people are busy fishing out rose vestments for 'Mothering Sunday'; although I'm unclear why today is so observed by those who do not follow either the Tridentine Rite or the 1662 Prayer Book. The theme of the old Roman Mass is (Galatians 4) of our Mother the heavenly Jerusalem; but in the modern rite, the Roman Pontiff is not instructed to have a statio at the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem (the church which the Empress Helena, my Colcestrian concivis, devised to be 'Jerusalem in Rome' and to which she imported cartloads of soil from Jerusalem together with significant relics of the Crucifixion). Sadly, moreover, choirs are rarely required to sing all those lovely Siony texts which embellish the old propers. Common Worship, of course slavishly follows the modern Roman Rite in abandoning the theme of the Heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother; the City whose politeuma we enjoy.

Of course, those old propers and S Paul's teaching in Galatians 4 raise in an acute form the very problem involved in the Good Friday prayers for the Jews. Has God's Covenant with the Jews been superseded? Do they need to take Christ on board to be saved, or are they, alone of all races and peoples, given a Christless way to salvation? It seems to me clear that S Paul teaches throughout Romans that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile either in the problem - sin - or in the solution - faith in Christ. The 'Jews-are-to-remain-Christless' line rests upon an interpretation of Romans 11 which doesn't hold water; I recall that the founder of the late twentieth century New Line on S Paul, Ed Sanders, concluded that, qua exegete of Paul, he was obliged to admit that in Paul's view Jews as well as Gentiles needed Christ (although qua liberal he did not think that Paul's view was now plausible).

So: 'cast out the bondwoman and her son'; Jews both need and are entitled to Christ. The Old Covenant was the type, the shadow, of the reality which is Christ. Not, of couse, that it would be particularly seemly somehow to to seem to single out Jews for mission in a Western society which largely consists of lapsed Christians: it would seem as if we were saying 'We've made a hash of hanging onto our own people so now we're going to try to get our hands on yours'. But the principle needs maintaining; all have sinned and all need Christ.

I have sometimes wondered if Pope Benedict had in his mind, when revising the EF Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, that his own ordaining bishop, Cardinal von Faulhaber, was a member of the group Amici Israel, which proposed revision in the 1920s. (I seem to recall that Merry del Val may have been among those who scuppered the proposal.) But I am not convinced that, in its essence, the original Good Friday Bidding (Let us pray for the unbelieving Jews) was anti-semitic - on the contrary. There have always been Christian Jews and they are as fully privileged as any other Christians ... if not more so. In the Good Friday prayer we were not disdainfully and in a racist way praying against the Jews as a race but for those members of that race who do not believe. The reason why we prayed for them specifically (and not, e.g., by name for the Fijians) was simply their special place in God's dealings with Man and the steady New Testament witness, echoed in Pope Benedict's revised prayer, that the Eschaton will mean the combined redemption of Jew as well as Gentile. There is also, as S Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10, a sharp reminder for all of us in the fact that the great majority of Jewry, for whom first the Euangelium was intended, failed to hear God's call.

I draw to your attention the book Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite published in 2016 by Matthew P Hazell (and his wife Lucy; I reviewed it when it first came out. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3); if you want to take a serious interest in what the Bugnini junkies did after Vatican II, you really do need to have this book. At the flick of a wrist it reveals that the Novus Ordo Sunday Lectionary entirely dumped this old reading from Galatians (a pitifully bowdlerised version of it was allowed to survive on a Monday morning in Ordinary Time in alternate years).

I can just imagine Screwtape's glee: "The bad news, my dear Wormwood, is that the Christian leaders have decided to encourage their people to become more familiar with the pestilential Enemy propaganda known as The Bible. But all is not lost ... far from it! Our policy is now to work through the soi disant 'liturgical experts', whom we already have securely under our control. They will be easily persuaded to increase the amount of time reading the Bible in Church, while eviscerating the text of passages and ideas which we will convince them are 'difficult'. Thus any teaching which is not currently popular among a certain narrow portion of the intelligentsia in the 1960s will be carefully concealed. The next stage, which we have scheduled for the beginning of the Third Millennium, will be to use the dominant ideologues to promote the notion that the portions of Scripture which have been censored out of public use contain ideas which it is actually forbidden for Christians accept. We will then stir up particular, easily duped, constituencies (our planning department has the German and English episcopates particularly in mind) to demand peremptorily the elimination of these ideas from any public prayers".

25 March 2017

Different types of women priests

Opening one of the undergraduate freebies in this University and looking at the pictures in the 'Fashion' section, I found myself saying "I know her!!".

"Her" was the Chaplain of Lincoln College. I knew her because when I was at S Thomas's we went on pilgrimage to Walsingham accompanied by some members of the Mags congregation. She was one of them; she had not yet entered the Anglican Ministry. She was a very bright young woman, good company, who was reading for a doctorate in Tacitus; an obscurely opaque Roman who, I think (I can't be sure about such details), may have written about History. I think, on stylistic grounds, he must have been born in New Zealand.

Many Anglican womenpriests are natural Bergoglians; that is to say, they are not Rigid and Doctrinal and Liturgical. They very often have had no training except in 'Ministerial Training Courses' in which Anglican candidates for Holy Orders are prepared part-time together with aspirants for non-Conformist ministries. These ladies do provide eucharistic services when their deplorably old-fashioned laity expect them, but they really prefer a form of event known as Messy Church. I would love to give you a description of this style of activity, did anautopsia not prevent me. Readers will have fertile enough imaginations ...

But there is a very different type of womanpriest, of which there are several examples in Oxford ... sharp and academically considerable, who never wanted to be foolish folksy creatures like their 'messy' sisters. What they wanted to be was ... Priests.

Such is the lady of whom I speak. In her newspaper Interview, she gives a very sound explanation of the rationale of wearing cassocks (all the time) and vestments and refers always to "saying Mass". And the paper's Fashion Correspondent includes a picture of her vested in red.

Those of you with a sharp eye for liturgical detail would instantly spot that she is wearing ... unlike the Saint in Westminster Cathedral about whom I recently wrote ... a maniple! That is not always an easy thing to do nowadays, because back in the 1960s the then dominant tendenz realised that the obvious way to get the Huddled Masses back into Church was to have bonfires of maniples. This means that, even in churches where the vestments are of respectable material, cut, and design, a 'set' very often lacks its matching maniple. Archaising clergy have to make a real effort to find a spare maniple somewhence with which to 'make up' the sets in their charge. These spares are, naturally, very often not en suite with their stoles and chasubles.

The photographs do not show her wearing a biretta, but ...

I do hope you will not shout at me. In giving you this information, I advance no agenda and certainly not the Ordination of Women. I simply wish to impart anthropological enlightenment.


24 March 2017

Terrorists ... or Adrians?

What a difference it makes to learn that the terrorist who managed to cause such murderous and evil mayhem with just a hired car and a couple of kitchen knives was really a Man of Kent (or do I mean a Kentish Man?) called Adrian.

In other words, home-grown. The product of the errors and tensions and cultural alienations of our own society. Not a phenomenon we can blame on immigrant hordes.

I'm not sure I agree with my correspondent who is glad that Adrian ended up dead. If I were in Security, I would prefer to have such individuals alive and interrogable. Corpses are so often taciturn, even if water-boarded.

I've known a lot of chaps called Adrian, all of them ... as far as I can recall ... distinctly nice.  I wonder what our Mr Farago thinks of Adrians in particular and of immigrants from Kent in general.

My ancestors on my Mother's side migrated from Kent to Essex.

And I have, several times, visited friends along the Hagley Road in Birmingham. I may well be on CCTV.

And my wife has just revealed to me that we have knives in our kitchen.

Should I give myself up?

Adulterii laetitia multiplex ...

 ... or, in English, Adultery is a many splendoured thing. Let me focus on just two particular and contrasting modes of Adultery ... two among so many .... [I am not unaware of other models, or of the tragedies of innocent parties.]

(1) Covert Adultery. Jack (or it might be Jill) keeps his sinful activities secret from wife, children, friends, neighbours.

(2) Overt Adultery. Jill (or it might be Jack) obtains a civil divorce, and then goes through a ceremony of 'Marriage' with her partner in her sin. The couple thereafter conduct themselves as Mrs and Mr Overt and wear nice rings on their wedding fingers and function as 'Eucharistic Ministers' and School Governors.

Both cases, of course, according to the canons of traditional morality to which I adhere, equally involve Mortal Sin. But ... we all enjoy an entertaining diversion into an Alternative Universe, don't we? So let's examine the differences between Jack and Jill from the perspectives of classical Utilitarianism; and the 'situation ethics' of the 1950s and 1960s condemned in Veritatis splendor.

Jack Covert wants to have things both ways. He wishes to indulge his lust, but at the same time not to hurt or to risk losing his wife and family. Let us assume the best of him: he may promise himself that he will repent, but "not until tomorrow"; he may even prefer not to weaken Matrimony as a social, public, and Christian institution. Let us accept that he is ashamed at the idea of being yet one more person who troops through the courts publicly affirming (in the most solemn way possible) the lie that a valid and consummated Sacramental Marriage is soluble. He is a sad picture of incipient movements of Grace being stifled by his servile bondage to his sin. But there is one thing which, happily, he does still have: the knowledge that Sin is Sin.

Jill Overt, on the other hand, noisily demands that her incontinent lust be validated in each and every possible public forum. She would certainly not be prepared to leave open any possibility of her own repentance and reconciliation with her true spouse ("my Ex", as she now cheerfully and routinely calls him). Happy in her new "marriage", she might talk about "the importance of moving on". To describe her, the Victorians would have reached for the adjective 'brazen'.

[When I was in the Church of England, I once heard, at a clerical lunch, two women clergy, each of whom planned to "move on" from a "failed marriage" to a new union, complaining (not very quietly) about the Bishop's desire to "talk things through" with them: this, they warmly agreed, would be "Opening Up Old Wounds".]

You know what I'm going to say: it seems to me that Jack Covert, seedy little deceiver that he is, has the better of it in terms of the ethical systems at which I have nodded.

And it also seems to me that Jill Overt and such "remarried Divorcees" score lowest on the scale of "How Moral is your Adultery?".

The Award for Most Moral Adulterer ... the John Stuart Mill Gold Medal (in four-and-ahalf carat gold) ... would surely have to go to the adulterer who most covertly used the services only of prostitute women or men, having checked carefully that they had not been trafficked.

And yet ... and yet ... in our Bergoglianist Ethosphere, things seem to be exactly the other way round. Nobody seems to give a damn for poor Jack Covert endlessly tortured by his fear of being found out.  It seems that Herr und Frau Overt receive all the sympathetic attention; it is for them that we must all lean over backwards until our spines snap; for them the Verba Domini are to be curtly and irritably set aside; for them the constant Magisterial teaching of two millennia is endlessly vilified as Rigidity and Pharisaeism by an angry mouth which seems incapable of shutting except when confronted with Dubia.

Why don't we just give up trying to regulate Sex altogether? I'm sure that resourceful Archbishop Fernandez could easily draft for the Holy Father an Exhortation along the lines of Fay ce que voudras.

23 March 2017

Why do bishops resign?

It is commonly assumed that Catholic Bishops are bound to offer their resignations when they are seventy five years old. Many people find it odd that there should be an apparent fall-back assumption that a bishop will be past 'it' at an age at which, according to the current narrative of so many, the 'Holy Spirit' appoints so many popes to begin their Petrine Ministry. You'd have thought that a pope's job might be even more taxing than that of a Diocesan Bishop. Vincent Nicholls has spoken movingly about the heavy work-schedule to which our Holy Father subjects himself ... but, apparently, this is not really so. 'Poping', so the actualite of Church life appears to say, is really just a doddle, a light retirement hobby for someone who is well past his prime!

However (and I add this with trepidation since I am not a canonist) is the common assumption correct anyway? Canon 401 says that the Bishop rogatur [is asked] to offer his resignation. If a Bishop is ill, the same canon says that he enixe [strenuously] rogatur to offer his resignation. Apparently, then, the seventy five year old bishop is 'asked' less 'strenuously' than the ill bishop to offer resignation. There are degrees in the moral force of canonical 'asking'.

I am, as I said, most certainly not a canonist; but surely rogatur cannot mean that there is an obligation upon the Bishop to do this. The CIC seems generally quite lucid about things it regards as obligatory.

Vatican II, about which some people, when it suits them, claim to be very enthusiastic, makes clear that a Diocesan Bishop is not merely a Vicar of the Roman Pontiff, but a successor of the Apostles. The current praxis suggests, rather, that the Bishop is like the manager of a supermarket, removable at the judgement of Head Office in accordance with its published corporate guidelines. This represents a disordered understanding of Episcopacy.

Why don't some orthodox bishops just decline to accept this invitation (rogatur) of Canon Law, and see how much respect Head Office accords to their Apostolic Status?

It might prove quite a reality check.

22 March 2017

.... and so ...

... grateful thanks this morning to our Blessed Lady of the Atonement, the Mother of God of Walsingham and Fatima and Czestochowa! Kind Mother and Guardian of the Ordinariates! And may her blessings continue, particularly upon Fr Christopher Phillips and his wife JoAnn, the clergy and nuns and Faculty at the Academy of the Atonement, all the many members of the congregations; all the students.

(Wozzat? You wanna know how Fatima and Czestochowa come into this? Bishop Stephen's father is Portuguese and his mother Polish. With what joy the Canon of the Mass will have been said at the Atonement this morning una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Francisco et antistite nostro Stephano!)

21 March 2017

Our Lady of the Atonement and the future of the Ordinariates

Brilliant News!!! The Holy See has directed that the Texan parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio is, with effect from today, part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter, the American Ordinariate.

'Atonement' was the first (in 1983) of the parishes set up to perpetuate within the Roman Unity groups adhering to their Anglican Liturgy, Spirituality, and theological tradition. It was spectacularly successful, under its dynamic and charismatic Pastor Fr Christopher Phillips.

When the Ordinariates were set up, the position of parishes adhering to the 'Anglican Use', but operating as units within ordinary dioceses, became anomalous. After all, the Holy See had set up the Ordinariates specifically to include such communities.

The Archbishop of San Antonio was understandably anxious to keep such a vibrant parish and its academy within his own diocese and jurisdiction. But he is an honourable man. So he made it very clear that he would ensure the continuation at the Atonement of the provisions made by the Holy See for Anglicans who had entered the Catholic Church upon a certain understanding.

But that proposed arrangement misses the point. It treats the Anglican Use as merely something provided as a condescending kindness for ex-Anglicans or their descendants. This would mean that the Use could die out when the original 'converts' had died, unless new converts from Anglicanism had continued to trickle in so as to keep the arrangement on a life-support machine.

That is quite simply not how things can be allowed to be in a Church which takes Mission in any way seriously. A flourishing and orthodox Christian community will inevitably attract others, particularly those from the peripheries of the Church, where people may have a residual association with Catholicism but have grown disillusioned or alienated within the 'mainstream' or 'diocesan' Church.

It is a natural suspicion that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has been involved in this wise decision, which is good news not only for the Atonement but for all members of the three Ordinariates. It demonstrates that the See of S Peter is as committed to Pope Benedict's bold ecumenical experiment as ever it was. We were not 'taken up' just so that we could be 'dropped'!

Four cheers and more for his Eminence!

Hooray for the wise guidance Bishop Lopes has given to his Ordinariate!

Ut unum sint!! 

... has lost his maniple.

Devout persons who drop into Westminster Cathedral to pay their respects at the shrine of one of my favourite Saints, S John Southworth, will discover ... here's the good news first ... that there are some quite sweet little Prayer Cards now provided for use and for taking away. They contain a nice picture of the Saint vested for Mass. (I think the surname is or was pronounced Sutherth.)

The bad news is ... that, although the Saint is pictured on these cards as vested in alb, red stole, and red chasuble, he ... seems to have lost his maniple.

Medieval hagiographers would have undoubtedly had an account of how this happened; their stories would probably have ended with a spectacular miracle resulting in the supernatural restoration of the maniple. Inventive readers of this blog must surely be capable of some diverting inventions within the general conventions and dynamics of that genre. But what is to be done?

Traddies with large families might consider taking all their children into the Cathedral, equipped with red crayons or board-writers or loads of red paint, and settling them down with instructions to add maniples to all the cards. This would result in what Anglican Priestesses proudly call "Messy Church", and thus constitute an Ecumenical Gesture.

As an incorrigible classicist with an ungovernable imagination, I fear that what swept immediately into my mind was the demonstration by Aeschylus (apud Aristophanis Batrakhous, vv 1206 et sqq.) that pretty well all of Euripides' Prologues are susceptible to the conclusion lekuthion apolesen. Mutating the mutanda, it occurs to me that pretty well any statement about Papa Bergoglio or Cardinal Kasper or Cardinal Marx or the Rio Tinto, or any of the other Great Ones of the Bergoglian faction, could be reduced to bathos ... to even greater bathos ... by inserting the concluding phrase "... (has) lost his maniple". Oimoi peplegmetha!

'Terminal bathos' is surely the greatest gift made to mankind by satiric Aristophanic Old Comedy or, indeed, by classical Greek Civilisation as a whole, before it lost its oil-pot.

May that very great Saint and Priest and Martyr for Jesus, S John Southworth, pray for us and for the whole state of Christ's Church Militant here in earth, now in these years of her passion.

20 March 2017


I do not intend to explain what this is all about ab initio to those who do not already know the general outlines. Just to add some facts which some who do know may not be familiar with.

In 1995 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity published a learned and interesting paper which suggested that a lack of correlation between the Greek (ekporeuesthai) and Latin (procedere) terms for "proceedeth" is part of the problem. ekporeuesthai refers to the origin of the Holy Spirit within the eternal and glorious economy of the Holy Trinity. And, since the Father is the Source (pege, aitia) of the being of the other two Persons, clearly the Spirit ekporeuetai from the Father alone. To suggest that he might ekporeuesthai from the Son as well is to risk positing two sources of Divinity and thus, in effect, to believe in two Gods.

Procedere, on the other hand, is a broader term. As well as sharing the meaning of ekporeuesthai, it also encompasses the Sending (proienai), wthin time, of the Spirit by the Son. And it includes the possibility of asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.When the Western Church was battling against Arianism, it seemed important to safeguard the full divinity of the Son by incorporating into the Creed His authentic Missio of the Spirit.

So you could argue that Filioque with ekporeuesthai is gravely erroneous because it is tantamount to polytheism, while procedere without the Filioque is dangerously suggestive of Arianism.

It is well known that Rome firmly forbids the addition of Filioque to the Creed when it is said in (or translated from) Greek - whether by 'uniate' Byzantines or in ecumenical contexts. But she has been slow to delete Filioque from the Creed when it is used in (or translated from) Latin.

However, in 2000 a very significant new development occurred. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a document called Dominus Iesus, which was immediately made the object of hysterical abuse by illiterates who couldn't read it (including poor dopey George Carey) - you probably remember the hooha raised at that time by the ecumaniac industry both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church. This furore still occasionally has echoes. This is and was unfortunate; the document represented some very interesting advances ecumenically in several respects. Not the least of these is that it began by giving, as 'the fundamental contents of the profession of the Christian faith', the 'Nicene' Creed in Latin and without the Filioque.

I would lose very little sleep if a Roman Pontiff eliminated Filioque from the Latin Creed. But it would leave some traces behind it. In, for example, the Quicumque vult. And I know an Anglican priest who, being very Orthodoxophile, presses his lips together at a certain point in the Creed. But, when he does duty in College chapels here in Oxford, he has to sing, in the Litany, " ... proceeding from the Father and the Son ..." because otherwise disastrous confusion would ensue when the choir came to repeat his words. The learned Dom Benedict of Silverstream once showed me a version of the Pange lingua in which a 'Western Orthodox' had rewritten S Thomas's Doxology ...

No; I would be very unwilling to go down such paths as those. The Latin West is as entitled to the integrity of its own Patrimony as is the Byzantine East. Probably best to leave the sleeping dogs ...

And we gallant presbyters of the Ordinariate are unlikely to forget that Filioque was introduced to the English Church by the Syrian Greek S Theodore whom Pope S Vitalian (657-672) sent to be Archbishop of Canterbury. I think we could catch the stuffier "English Orthodox" on the horns of a juicy dilemma by asking them whether the "Anglo-Saxon Church" of S Theodore was Orthodox ... or not ...