16 October 2017

Married Clergy

There are some signs on the Internet of the ordination of married men to the presbyterate of the Latin Church becoming a talking-point.

Just for the record: the practice of ordaining married men who had formerly ministered in Separated Western Ecclesial Bodies did not originate in the post-Conciliar period, nor was it introduced in order to favour ex-Anglicans.

It began in 1950, at the direction of Pius XII, and embraced former Lutheran pastors.


What a splendid few days we had at Buckfast sharing and learning with regard to our Lady's Fatima messages! A gifted young priest from Bishop Egan's diocese, Dr Serafino Lanzetta, crafted and held together a variety of contributions with an immensely sure touch. It was fun to make so many new friends as well as to meet again with already friends. Our dear Cardinal Burke was welcomed with evident and warm enthusiasm by the Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O'Toole, who kindly gave a morning to the Conference. Professor de Mattei ... Fr Houlden ... Fr Finigan ... Dr Thomas Crean OP ... Fr Duffield ... et ceteri ... if you didn't attend, what a scintillating gathering you missed. Don't make the same mistake in 2117!

The flower-decked feretory from which the Theotokos of Fatima presided was, I gather, constructed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate from London, whom I much enjoyed meeting. There can't be many Reverend Mothers whose academic careers began on the Playing Fields of Roedean and journeyed through Mechanical Engineering into the sunlit uplands of Marian festivities! God preserve them in their wonderful Tracchia Mariana and their devotion to the Mass of Ages! They know full well that her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Tomorrow, some words about Buckfast Abbey.

15 October 2017

Intercommunion; tedium

German (ex-)Catholics have recently held a joint communion service with Protestants. It is causing some controversy. Boring. Mega, mega, boring.

In 1913, Anglicans in the Kikuyu area of Kenya held a joint communion service with Protestants. This, of course, led to great controversy. Eventually, a couple of years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand statement which subsequently Dix wittily summarised as meaning that the event had been immensely pleasing to God but must on no account be repeated.

We of the Patrimony do get bored seeing some "Catholics" making the same mistakes that our predecessors made more than a century ago. Tedious. Why can't they think up some new mistakes of their own? Why do they have to tag tardily along behind Anglicanism? Have these daft jokers no imagination?

Why can't they have some compassion for our high boredom-threshold?


It seems a long time ago now ... but it's only a fortnight. Yet again, I was graciously invited to Copenhagen to sing Mass for the Latin Mass Group, and to meet them socially. It is a great pleasure to meet again with old friends ... and a privilege to admire their growing families! And, not least, I am moved by the friendship and hospitality of Mgr Czeslaw Koslon, Bishop of Copenhagen, who not only allows me to say my morning EF Mass in his elegant domestic Chapel, but even serves it for me! I bet not many presbyters have had their Masses served by the President of an Episcopal Conference!

This recent visit was the last occasion in which I shall stay in the Bishop's House, because the Church is relinquishing the lease and refurbishing a large ecclesiatical complex, formerly Jesuit, in the centre of the City. It will have flats for his Lordship, his Vicar General, accommodation for Franciscans ...

Ulf, who knows everything, kindly spent Saturday taking me round the Danish and Nordic Art section of the State Museum of Culture. We live in an age of highly expensive blockbuster international exhibitions, yet many of us ... I mean me ... know practically nothing about the art of other European countries in their own terms. Delving into the art of another country, one also gets sidelines on ones own. A portait might make one feel "If that were in the Wallace Collection, it might be by Boucher" or "That could be by Fuseli".

And how many people on the top of a Clapham omnibus have even heard of Thorvaldsen?

14 October 2017

Pope S Agatho the Good ... and heretical popes

S Agatho's Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. Larger, I think, than some 'Ecumenical Councils'. He was summoning it (Bede H.E. V 19) adversus eos qui ... dogmatizabant. This Synod was held against a doctrinal error that had just arisen: against those who dogmatized that there was but one Will and Working in the Lord our Saviour (i.e. Monothelites). But the Holy Father did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

Inevitably, there was an Englishman in Rome and inevitably that Englishman was S Wilfrid. This indefatigable missionary tended to find himself embroiled in rows, and his instinct on such occasions was invariably the same: go to Rome. (After all, if one got there fast enough, the Holy See only heard one side of the story!)

So S Agatho invited Wilfrid to join in his synod so as to benefit from his thinking and his erudition ... NO: not a bit of it; Wilfrid was invited to speak his Faith, in other words, to make formal confession of his orthodoxy; but not of his own merely personal Faith: that of the Province or Island from which he came. His adherence to Catholic orthodoxy was incorporated into the Acta Synodi: "Wilfrid, the God-beloved Bishop of the City of York ... was set in the seat of judgement in Synod with his 125 coepiscopi; and, in the name of (pro) the whole Northern part of Britain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles and Britons, and also the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith, et cum subscriptione sua corroboravit."

The confidence with which S Wilfrid spoke for so much of (what in Irish scholarship is now neatly called) the Atlantic Archipelago, and for the orthodoxy of thousands of Scottic monks who had never met him and, had they done so, might have had strong things to say about his Paschal Mathematics, may well take our breath away. But I want to point out what this Synod was for.

A heresy had arisen, and a previous pope (Honorius I) half a century before had actually promoted the error. Heresy is a very grave matter; but a Pope is there to condemn it. Just think of what a massive ecclesial disorder is involved if the pope himself actually favours the heresy and uses his office to spread it. 

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

That is why, on this blog, he is known as S Agatho the Good.

The next pope, S Leo II, confirmed the Conciliar condemnations.

When will there be a Pope Agatho II? Domine, exaudi et miserere!

13 October 2017

Psalm 18 (RSV19) and the Miracle of the Sun.

A great day, the centenary of the Miracle of the Sun, when the Sun was seen to dance down upon the Earth. I wish to share a few thoughts about the Typology of this event, with its deeply scriptural and traditional roots.

Our starting point should be Psalm 18, and the rich use which Holy Tradition has made of this psalm. 

In the Pius XII Psalter which was masterminded by Cardinal Augustin Bea (bad ... bad), we read (verse 5) "He has made a tabernacle for the sun". An accurate translation, it may be, of the Hebrew. But this is not what we find in both the ancient Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated to LXX): the two versions by which Christians of both East and West have always worshipped. Here is a literal rendering of what these versions give us:
5.In the sun he has placed his tabernacle: and he himself like a bridegroom going forth from his chamber has rejoiced (LXX: will rejoice) like a giant to run his course.
6. From highest (LXX: furthest) heaven {is} his going forth: and his meeting is even unto its highest (LXX: furthest); neither is there one who might hide himself from his heat.

Our Catholic and Orthodox forebears took the Sun to be our Lady (S Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634: "For in thee, O Virgin, as in a most pure and sparkling Heaven, God has placed his tabernacle"). They understood the bridegroom to be Christ. The bridal-chamber is the womb of the Blessed Virgin. In that Womb he united Godhead with manhood as bridegroom is united to bride, so that he is a giant with two Natures in one Person. His going forth is his eternal generation, as the Divine and Only-begotten Son, from the Father. His meeting is the Son's equality with the Father.
Let's consider the Advent Office Hymn Conditor alme siderum. We will take the clever and accurate translation of stanza 3 by the Anglican John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale which appears as Number 1 in the English Hymnal:
Thou cam'st, the bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

And a hymn by the great S Ambrose himself, Veni Redemptor gentium
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.

The Liturgy of the hours unfortunately misses out ('ad brevitatem') the next stanza, also based on our psalm, which Neale (English Hymnal 14) renders
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
His course he runs to death and hell,
Returning on God's throne to dwell.

The Pre-Conciliar Breviary and the English Hymnal do not provide another ancient hymn, Fit porta Christi pervia, which the Liturgy of the Hours dug up and ordered to be said at Morning Prayer on January 1. Here is a literal version of the second stanza; it shows its indebtedness to Psalm 18:
The Son of the highest Father has gone forth from the palace of the Virgin, bridegroom, Redeemer, Creator, the Giant of his Church.

 I'm sure you've noticed the relevance of all this to the importance of celebrating Mass versus Orientem, towards the Lord who comes to us at the dawning of the day, walking to meet us from the womb of his Mother, the Woman clothed with Sun, the Tabernacle of Divinity.

But today, we think of the Sun as the great cosmic Ikon of the Mother of God, which spectacularly confirmed the authenticity of the Fatima Message; confirmed it for 1917 and for every successive year.

12 October 2017

Dom Gregory Dix, the Diocletian Persecution and Gilbert and Sullivan

Dom Gregory Dix supplies a vivid and jolly account of episcopal inadequacy during the Diocletian Persecution.

"[I]t cannot be said that the episcopate as a whole had come well out of the universal crisis of the Diocletian persecution. 

Few bishops when it broke out were men of much distinction. Eusebius, who as a bishop and a contemporary has some claim to be heard, says frankly that they were on the whole a poor lot, and ascribes the persecution largely to divine anger at their conduct. He is rather given to pious thoughts of this kind, which have not quite the value of historical judgments. But the precise and definite evidence of episcopal failure everywhere at this time can hardly be discounted ... The better bishops, of course, proved faithful and were martyred. But a shockingly large number at the first question turned traditor - i.e., handed over the Scriptures and sacred vessels to the authorities for destruction, the formal act required of them, which Church and State agreed to consider as constituting apostasy. Others denied that they had them in their keeping, but gave the names of the lectors who had them. Others again salved their consciences by handing over other books instead ...

"When the African Council of Cirta met in 305, after the persecution had spent its first violence in these parts, it revealed a pitiful state of affairs. All the bishops present but two seem to have been traditores in some sense. The president himself was compromised, and agreed to suspend all enquiries to avoid unpleasantness. Nor were the only faults those of lack of courage. More than one of these men was afterwards found guilty of direct theft; others of simony and adultery, and of peculating Church funds. One bishop, who admitted to two murders, retained his seat in this assembly by a timely display of diabolically bad temper.

"We may hope that this sort of thing was exceptional, but the evidence is not reassuring. We hear, e.g., of bishops in Palestine who after the persecution, "because they had not rightly shepherded the rational flock of Christ, were by divine justice turned into camel-drivers, an animal of a natural perversity to which they were suited". It is a fact that though there were a score of sees in Palestine, no bishop was martyred there in ten years of persecution ... "

[Isn't there some old ditty about Making the Punishment Fit The Crime?]

11 October 2017


The First Vatican Council defined the dogma that ex cathedra  pronouncements of the Roman Pontiff were infallible ex sese et non ex consensu Ecclesiae; and that they were irreformabiles.

This welcome and necessary clarification of the standing of the highest class of papal statement left the field wide open to the implication that papal pronouncements which are not ex cathedra might require the consensus Ecclesiae before being fully recognised as the unalterable Teaching of the Church of all the Ages. And that such lesser papal statements might be reformabiles.

This, after all, is only common sense. Even if it might be difficult for the most hardline of the hyperultraueberpapalists, with their unCatholic belief that Pope Francis is ipsissima vox Spiritus Sancti, to grasp it.

The differing interpretations of various bishops and Episcopal Conferences make clear that Amoris laetitia, at least in the interpretation put upon it by the Bergoglianists, does not have the consensus Ecclesiae.

And the suggestions of Cardinals Mueller and Parolin, that dialogue should open between the two 'sides' into which Pope Francis has so lamentably divided our Holy Mother the Church, surely open up the possibility that Amoris laetitia may be clarified and freed of its ambiguities ... in other words, treated as reformabilis.

A minute but interesting piece of pedantry: are footnotes an integral part of a Magisterial text? Surely not. Surely, therefore, difficult footnotes could be either expunged or redrafted; new, clarifying, footnotes could be added.

Call me flabby if you like, but I do think that the current regime should be given ways of saving face. However, an essential part of such a dialogue would have to be the publication of the Comments sent to the HF after the CDF had studied the draft of the Apostolic Exhortation.

10 October 2017

Blessed John Henry's gifts to the English (and Welsh!) Church

A splendid weekend with the Oratory in formation at Cardiff ... with the opportunity on Monday to say Mass in an Oratorian chapel on 'the Cardinal's' Feast Day. It can't be coincidence that two of the vibrant areas of new life and of the re-establishment of Holy Tradition within the English Church, the mighty Family of S Philip and the much humbler and newer Ordinariate, should both be within the powerful intercession of this great Englishman and teacher of the Faith. Very truly a Man for Our Time.

There are quite a lot of reasons for enjoying a visit to the Catholic chaplaincy at Cardiff University, but the best one has to be the warmness of the hospitality and the kindnesses of Fr Sebastian, Fr Alexander, and Brother Ambrose; and of the nuns. Then there is the Gastronomic Dimension: I was invited by my friend Dr David Woolf, Senior Fellow, to the Pelican Club Dinner on Saturday night. The Brethren had somehow caught a pig, so we ate it. Such crisp ...

Nearby, a fellow guest was Fr Ignatius, Provost of Birmingham, a friend who was a friend when I needed friends. Also among the guests (Oratorians are very practical ecumenists) Canon Brendan Clover, Provost of the Society of our Lady and S Nicolas of Lancing. It was good to hear how things are in that very dear Collegiate Church, 'Woodard's Folly', which pierces the clouds above the South Downs. I gather I survive in the College's Oral Tradition as having said Mass in Latin every morning. I wish it were true!

Sunday lunch afforded the prospect of delicious pork ... and the company of the undergraduates of the Hall which the Oratory runs, gowned and seated at a formal meal. I spoke for a minute or two after lunch; they actually listened to the sad old gent who had popped up in their midst! And, later, that rich and beautiful Oratorian speciality, Solemn (old rite) Vespers; followed by Choral Mass: fine music (Mass for Four Voices by Tallis; In salutari tuo by Heinrich Isaac). And Praise to the Holiest to finish the day, and to initiate the following day with its Newman celebrations in union with the Cardiff Ordinariate Group.

Sadly, I had to leave after breakfast on Monday, but, happily, the Oratorian hens had laid very generously, so there was an egg to go with ... what was it  ... ah, yes: the bacon!

Why doesn't everyone go to Cardiff University?

9 October 2017

Newman's Conversion ... a different angle!

The poor, pompous egotist Mark Pattison, writing long after he had lost his own faith, gives this account of October 1845:
"On the 9th of October 1845 it was known that Newman had resigned his fellowship. On 10th October, Church showed me a note from Newman to him, announcing his coming reconciliation to the Catholic Church by Father Dominic [which had of course by that day already occurred]. It is impossible to describe the enormous effect produced in the academical and clerical world, I may say throughout England, by one man's changing his religion. But it was not consternation; it was a lull - a sense that the past agitation of twelve years was extinguished by this simple act; and perhaps a lull of expectation to see how many he would draw with him. Instead of a ferocious howl, Newman's proceeding was received in respectful silence, no one blaming. But as there must always be an advocatus diaboli, this part was sustained by the Vicar of St Thomas (!) [Pattison's own parenthetic exclamation mark] who went about inveighing against Newman's honesty in putting out the theory contained in his last sermon; 'He didn't believe it when he wrote it'".

It is not clear to me what, exactly, in Newman's Parting of Friends sermon, my Anglican predecessor Thomas Chamberlain might have deemed to be so dishonest.

There is an interesting episode in the life of George Bampfield, a Master at Lancing College (largely autobiographical though written in the third person): "He could no longer stay at Lancing, and went, as a last resource, to S Thomas', Oxford, then under Mr Chamberlain, the editor of the Church Times. One day his vicar came into his room, and noticing among his books a Totum [the entire Breviary in one volume instead of four] which belonged to one of Mr Bampfield's brothers, and which he himself had hardly opened, said: 'There is no use talking to you; you are gone'. The vicar was a true prophet; for after three Sundays Mr Bampfield left Oxford and determined to be reconciled to the Church of the Saints". He went to Brompton, where (13 August 1855) Fr Faber received him into Full Communion, more or less on the doorstep.

Perhaps the reason Bampfield went to Chamberlain was his perception of S Thomas's as by far the most 'advanced' church in England; Eucharistic Vestments in some shape or form* may have been in use since the early 1840s, and incense was established by the mid-1850s. In other words, Bampfield or his advisers felt that if S Thomas's, with all its Romish extremism, could not retain him in the Church of England, no parish church could. Possibly the meaning of Pattison's exclamation mark is: "And that from a dishonest extremist like Chamberlain of all people!!"


*Initially, it seems, more than one Oxford red silk MA hood sewn together (by Chamberlain's cousin the religious foundress Marion Hughes) so as to make a 'chasuble' not too alarmingly different from the MA hood to which conservative worshippers were accustomed. At Pentecost 1854 a proper purpose-made chasuble (Roman shape) was taken into use.

8 October 2017

Holy Father?

I have occasionally been criticised for the lack of respect with which I sometimes refer to the current occupant of the Roman See. I don't think that is really quite just. It is infelicitous constantly to refer to someone in the same way. The graces of literary convention demand Variety. But I have decided to avoid controversy by following the usage of people who resort to "PF" or "the HF". I do so regretfully. You see, surely those initials could have multiple and disrespectful references, for which I would not wish to be held responsible. "Poor Fellow". Or "the Horrible Fantasy". You name it. I mean, readers might like to take time off from finishing the Times Crossword and devise some referenda for those initials.

Be fair to me. I have habitually refered to the Sovereign Pontiff as anything between "Bergoglio" and, er, "the Sovereign Pontiff". My own preferences would be for those elegant first millennium terms domnus apostolicus and Vicarius Petri, but some newer readers might be mystified.

It can be amusing to use honorifics which are perversely and delightfully apposite. For example, if it were ever to occur (please God, make this happen!) that we had a Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster of profoundly diminutive proportions, how satisfying it would be always to refer to him as "His Eminence"!

By the way: in yesteryear, the Church was commonly referred to as "Our Holy Mother the Church". The University of Oxford still does that when conferring Masters' Degrees, but otherwise not many people seem to do so nowadays. I don't thnk I've ever yet been criticised for failure consistently to do this.

S Irenaeus, explain to us: Instaurare omnia in Christo ... how's it done?

The disorders of this pontificate undoubtedly call for a remedy. But how to go about it?

It would best be done by our Holy Father himself, before his pontificate ends. A Hermeneuticon ad Exhortationem Amoris laetitia plenius interpretandam, giving that document an unambiguously orthodox interpretation, and issued motu proprio, would be one way of doing it ... the cleanest, simplest, and most Frank way.

Otherwise, how could it be done by the later pontiff to whom this disagreeable duty will fall? Here is my suggestion.

Involve the world-wide episcopate; because, cum et sub Petro, they are (as Leo XIII put it) Judges of the Faith. Their formal judgements (not their 'talking-shop ideas) should be sought by means of some formal and specific questions.

However, here there is a procedural problem. The recent Synods have probably given the impression to some of the sillier and doctrinally weaker bishops that, when their views are sought, they are each being invited to say what they think is most helpful to the Church, or what is God's will for the Church of our own day. That mistake will need to be firmly corrected. We must get back to the first millennium assumption that each bishop speaks, not his own views or clever ideas, his "blue-sky thinking" as people sometimes call it, but what he has received from his predecessors in his see. You know what I mean ... you've all read your S Irenaeus ... parelabon kai paredoka, as S Paul would say.

So their Lordships should be required to provide documentary evidence of what their (say)  ten immediate predecessors had taught about the matters in hand.

The then pope - Agatho II, perhaps, might be his name - would embody this (synchronic and diachronic) teaching of the world-wide episcopate in a major dogmatic statement, preferably with each section lucidly summarised by a Si quis dixerit/negaverit  .... anathema sit formula.

It would constitute a formal Magisterial statement of what is already the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium.

7 October 2017

Our Lady of Victories

What a telling title: our Lady of Victories. So very Western Catholic; so Counter-Reformation ; so baroque; so redolent of the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the 1920s and 1930s. When I was an undergraduate, the Church of S Paul up Walton Street was still a church and had a splendiferous statue of our Lady of Victories. You couldn't possibly imagine, could you, Byzantine Christians giving the Theotokos a title like that ...

Well, of course, they did. One of those Greeks did write a hymn to Mary as the hypermachos strategos with an aprosmakheton kratos (the Protecting General with an irresistible power). If the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, you would probably find in it a paraphrase of the Hymnos Akathistos beginning: Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the Robe of Mary, going on before.

East and West may wear different clothes, but their realities are often so uncannily similar. Because, of course, the title our Lady of Victories, just like the Akathist hymn, does have its military associations. That great Pontiff, S Pius V, established the Feast of our Lady of Victories to celebrate the triumph of Christian arms at the battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, a victory won by the countless rosaries which clanked through the hands of the Rosary Confraternities of Western Europe. They begged God for the safety of Christendom against the invading Turk. Gregory XIII pusillanimously renamed the feast as 'of the Rosary', and popped it onto the first Sunday of October (a mere stone's throw from the Feast of the Protecting Robe of the Mother of God in some Byzantine calendars) where it stayed until the reforms of S Pius X.

But no homilist could be forbidden to preach tomorrow on our Lady of Victories, could he?

After all, her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

6 October 2017

Walsingham, and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

Priests and deacons ... possibly also Seminarians ... I'm pretty sure ... are entitled to be members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a truly splendid organisation.

Readers who are Catholic clergy formerly in the Church of England will remember the dear old SSC ... Societas Sanctae Crucis ... which we all used to belong to. By the time the C of E fizzled out of meaningful existence a decade or so ago, the SSC had become in some places a rather tired old thing; a few elderly clerics meeting together to complain ...

... and the CCC is what the SSC was in its earlier and truer and vibrant days. There is a real desire to serve the priestly (or diaconal) spirituality of members; good lectures and papers; retreats, pilgrimages. Members are of all ages, with the younger and more orthodox strongly represented.

And, of course, it encompasses the various splendid constituencies of the English Catholic clergy. Cradle Catholic; secular and religious; Ordinariate former Anglican; "Diocesan" former Anglican; the various nationalities. I can only say how much I have gained from my own membership.

The English Confraternity is due to have its Autumn Colloquium at Walsingham, Wednesday-Thursday 15-16 November, with stellar lecturers including Fr John Saward; the Bishop of Paisley, and the Mgr Armitage the Administrator. All three forms of the Roman Rite catered for.

I don't know why anyone should take seriously anything I recommend, but I do recommend at least checking out on the website both Membership, and the Colloquium. Dare I say it, these strange days in the life of the Latin Church make it all the more appropriate that we should meet together to chew the, er, cud.

I'd be very surprised if you came to regret it.

Please give it a thought.

5 October 2017

A great English Bishop

Mass this morning of S Thomas de Cantelupe, Bishop of Hereford, a Buckinghamshire man who became Chancellor of this University. His sanctity manifested itself in a rigorously ascetic lifestyle combined with enormous generosity towards the poor and a pastoral regimen which was so demanding as to destroy his health. He had a soundly antagonistic attitude towards the great both in Church and State, so much so that he was excommunicated by Archbishop Pecham and died in Italy while awaiting papal judgement upon his appeal. His skull, I believe, is preserved at Downside.

In the Counter-Reformation period, so one gets the impression, a lot of those canonised were the founders of religious orders sponsored for official sanctity by their orders. But in the Middle Ages, there is a consistent theme of the canonisation of bishops who stood up to the mighty, were benefactors of the poor, and whose cult, after their deaths, sprang up spontaneously in their Cathedral Churches. Such a one was S Thomas de Cantelupe. However, he was not formally canonised until 1320. One suspects that a collateral descendent, a young curial offical called John de Grandisson, may have had a hand in this through his influence with the great Avignon pope John XXII. In his bull of canonisation the pope carefully related, surely with one eye on that embarrassing excommunication, that Cantelupe had received the full last rites of the Church before his death.

Young Grandisson later became Bishop of Exeter, and a very fine one too. Like his great-great uncle, he had no truck with Archbishops of Canterbury. When the primate approached Exeter on Metropolitical Visitation, Grandisson repelled him with military force.

S Thomas de Cantelupe was regarded, with Becket, as one of the two great and saintly Thomases of the Middle Ages and is sometimes pared with him iconographically.

4 October 2017


Signatories to the Correctio Filialis stand currently at 217. I mention this because I know that many priests were apprehensive about joining what journalists might deem a Small Number. There is a natural sense that, the more who sign, the less easy it will be for anybody to embark upon a strategy of bullying. So if your own benchmark was "Above 200 might make it safe", that is where we are. But ... no hassle ... I'm not trying to chivvy anybody ... I know that we are all in different situations. And I know you will support us in your Masses and prayers. Those dear reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood who have written to me ... thank you. I have been deeply moved.

There are more male than female signatories. I shall probably get into trouble for saying this, but I sometimes feel that women (unlike men!) underestimate their own importance and the value of their opinions. The drafters of the Correctio view things quite differently! I would very much like to see zillions of academic female signatures!! Make the Correctio a Women's Movement!!!

Tucho has said it already

In his Cuddesdon lecture on the current crisis in the Roman Magisterium, the full text of which, sadly, is not available, Fr Aidan Nichols justly oberved that the moral 'teaching' of Amoris laetitia, if not corrected, will "increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion. And that will do more damage than can easily be repaired".

In fact, the currently dominant tendenz has made no secret that this is precisely the plan: a plot to poison the very wells of magisterial teaching. As Archbishop Fernandez has publicly put it, "There's no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he has already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anybody can repeat those things without being sanctioned".

There have been heretical popes in the past, but I doubt if there has often been a pope who (according to one of his closest collaborators and admirers) has cunningly plotted to enable heterodox teaching to erupt and flourish  under his successor(s); and thus to undermine in advance the teaching of future popes. Strangling renascent orthodoxy before it has the chance to be born, if you will forgive my descent into rhetoric.

Did even Pope Honorius I dare to attempt that?

By the way ...

... Dr Geoffrey Kirk, who, in his pre-Ordinariate days, was Vicar of Lewisham, writes a superb and witty blog which may not be as well known among Traditionalist Catholics as it deserves to be.  He does a very good line in revealing, via leaked letters from Mr Undersecretary Screwtape, how this pontificate is being plotted and choreographed in the Pandaemonium Club. It is must-be reading. GKIRKUK.

Readers who do not know who Screwtape is should get equipped with the writings of Professor C S Lewis, one of the Anglican greats whom we, at the behest of our dear Pope Ratzinger, brought with us in our luggage as we entered into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. Another of Oxford's gifts to the Catholic Church!

3 October 2017

Mueller rules ... OK ...

Pope Francis, it becomes daily more clear, missed a trick when he released Gerhard Cardinal Mueller from his CDF desk and bestowed him upon a waiting world.

There's nothing like freedom; and Mueller is very much in his prime. I hope all readers will consider carefully the following pasage in a recent address he gave in Mannheim.

"In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact Council text ready when words like 'faith' or 'mercy' are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn't exist in Latin America. They are more intuitive there ... They look at a text without considering it as part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned, clear theological preparation must take place."

I think it is the most incisive and well-directed criticism I have so far heard of the current regime, of Pope Bergoglio, of Tucho and his other cronies, and of Amoris laetitiae. Cardinal Burke and his 'Dubia' colleagues didn't come within a mile of this for sheer clinical skill in inserting the stiletto neatly between the fifth and the sixth vertebrae.

So-called 'traddies' who unloaded unjustified abuse on his Eminence when Papa Ratzinger appointed him to the CDF should get munching their humble and contrite pie right now.

2 October 2017

Realised Eschatology

Today, a Greater Double, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, the antiphon for the Benedictus in both the Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours draws on Hebrews 1:14 to describe the Angels as leitourgika Spirits sent for diakonia. Is this why there is an iconographical convention of showing angels wearing dalmatics? Has anybody ever thought of using this to defend the (corrupt?) medieval practice whereby Byzantine Bishops wear not chasubles but dalmatics by saying that a Bishop is the Angel (see Rev 2:1 etc. and cf apostellomena of Heb1:14) of his Church?

[By the way, I have an ikon of the 1920s Bishop of Aegina, S Nektarios, wearing a chasuble; Although I know that Byzantine bishops do sometimes celebrate in a phelonion (and omophorion), I rather suspect this may be a delightful example of the conservatism of Byzantine iconography. He is also wearing a black hat; I assume it is his monastic hat.]

Incidentally, in this antiphon both the Breviary and LH change a very clear future (tous mellontas cleronomein which becomes capient haereditatem in both Vulgates) to a present capiunt: 'those who are already inheriting salvation'. Was there a nest of prescient adherents of C H ('Realised Eschatology') Dodd among the sixteenth century liturgists who put this office together?

1 October 2017

Sundays after Trinity

In a decree (1759), Clement XIII ordered the Trinity Preface to used on Green Sundays. This supports a strong case for the naming of these Sundays per annum in the old English (and North European) way as Sundays after Trinity.

I draw attention to several points.

The modern emphasis on Sunday as a weekly minipascha is true but too narrow. As Clement XIII's document points out, Sunday is also the day of the Creation of Light; indeed, of the beginning of Creation. And also of the Resurrection; and also of the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit. And thus of the Holy Trinity.

The same Magisterial document refers to the traditional use on these Sundays of the Quicunque vult. I believe, and have written before on this blog, that the disuse of this Canticle (since the corruption of the Roman Rite really got under way under Pius XII) is one reason why even some clergy don't really seem to have any sense of the Trinity, as defined by Mother Church, any longer - they are, it sometimes appears, modalists. The fact that when the clergy of the English Ordinariate were being 'formed', a lecturer assured us that the QV was "heretical" is a disgrace which still stimulates my indignation. 

It also reminds us of the antiphon which usually came towards the end of Sunday Mattins: "Two Seraphim cried one to the other *Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Hosts, *All the earth is full of his glory. V Three there are who bear witness in heaven, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit: And these three are one. Holy ... Glory be ... All ...". This lovely text, of course, draws upon the verse in the Vulgate and the Authorised Version (Patrimony Patrimony) in I John; commonly omitted in modern Bibles including the Neovulgate because of its extremely weak attestation in Greek mss..

We need to become very much more robust in embracing the Scriptures as the Church has handed them down to us rather than making an idol of the methodology (with its underlying conceptual assumptions) of Westcott and Hort. (Even in WH terms, I think one could make a case for this verse having been omitted so widely because of parablepsis due to homoeoteleuton.)

We need a reacceptance of a more holistic sense of Tradition ... and a recommitment to the noble crusade of rolling back the 'Enlightenment'.

And finally: Clement XIII, in the actual words of the Decree itself, refers to the use of the Trinity preface on Green Sundays and says "inde a [not 'in'] vetustissimis temporibus in usu fuisse dignoscitur". 

In other words, the Holy Father does not say: I've had a perfectly spiffing idea; let's do so-and-so. He bases what he decrees on Ancient Tradition and Precedent. That is very significant. It is the immemorial Roman instinct for preservation and continuity. We need more of it. Especially in Rome. Not least in the Casa Santa Marta. I wonder if the Quicumque vult has ever been chanted in the chapel there.

30 September 2017

The Collect

Christine Mohrmann (whom I usually praise to the skies) provided this translation of the Collect in the Tridentine Missal for Pentecost 17:
Grant we beseech you O Lord that your people may avoid the temptations of the devil, and with pure minds follow you the only God.
Cranmer (1549) rendered it thus, from Trinity 18 in the Sarum Missal:
Lord we beseech thee grant thy people grace to avoid the infections of the Devil and with pure heart and mind to follow thee the only God.

Here is the Latin original as provided by S Pius V:
Da quaesumus Domine populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia, et te solum Deum pura mente sectari.

I just love the way Cranmer kept the idea of diabolical Evil as a contagion or infection which we catch and pass on. The 1662 Prayer Book, followed by Mohrmann, mess this up. But there are hundreds of sermons in it.

29 September 2017

Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear

I must declare an interest. Fr Ray Blake, blogger and priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, is a very dear friend as well as being a brother priest whom I admire. On the happy morning after the happy day when I entered the Presbyterate of the Ordinariate, he graciously joined me in Brompton as I offered my first Holy Mass in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, at that marvellous pietra dura Lady Altar from Brescia with the statue of S Pius V to its right. And at lunch ...

He has also proved himself a good friend of the Ordinariate. He fosters by God's grace vocations to the priesthood. He reaches out to the poor ... I could go on.

Many readers have already commented on his most recent blogpost. This is how Father begins.

"I have been asked to sign the Filial Correction. I signed the letter of the 45 academics and pastors last year and almost immediately found Cardinal Nichols' tanks parked on my lawn to inform me of his displeasure ..."

It gets even more readable as it goes on. I am now convinced: there are better things to do than signing the Filial Correction. Fr Aidan Nichols demonstrated this when he delivered his St Albans Lecture in August, raising the question of the orthodoxy of passages within Amoris laetitia. A report of his lecture appeared in the Catholic Herald (curiously, the full text of that lecture has not been allowed to enter the public domain). Fr Ray, by publishing his frank and extensive account of the current atmosphere in Jorge Bergoglio's Church, has probably done more good than he could have achieved by merely wielding his signature. Thank you, Father.

Many excellent people have asked me what, in this current crisis, they can do. Well ... just make sure that Fr Ray's post is known far and wide among Catholics, lay, clerical, episcopal. Particularly, were you to hear somebody say that not many clergy signed the Correctio ... let them have it ... that sort of stuff is just plain sick.


You are wasting your time if you submit comments which constitute mindless abuse of the Roman Pontiff. Or if you even suggest that Jorge Bergoglio might not be truly Pope. Personally, I find such things irritating. I spent my entire adult life working for, longing for, unity with the Successor of S Peter. I am not now going to host or tolerate comments which I deem offensive.

Remember that every morning I offer the Holy Sacrifice una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Francisco.

Furthermore, from now onwards I will not enable any suggestion that it might be an option for any Catholic to join another Communion. This blog is not and will not be the aider or abettor of any kind of schismatic thinking.

As Blessed John Henry Newman put it, there is but one fold of the Redeemer.

I am running late this morning ... I never expected retirement to be like this ... and today's blogpost should be up around 1.00 BST. 

28 September 2017

Episcopal Update on Fear

Since I wrote yesterday's post about Fear, the online Catholic Herald has published two commendable pieces on the Correctio filialis. The second, by Fr Andrew Pinsent, a young priest of striking erudition, is one of the most cutting analyses of Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy that I have yet seen.

And I particularly draw your attention to one phrase in the piece by Bishop Gracida, Emeritus of Corpus Christi.

"Perhaps naively, I thought my signature might encourage more bishops to make their views public, and perhaps some will. Many are timid and fearful of retaliation by Rome".

How remarkable. Timid and fearful! Vatican II, we all thought, had raised the dignity of the Episcopate. No longer should a bishop be thought of as a mere Vicar, errand-boy, of the Roman Pontiff. No; they are Successors of the Apostles; big bold men. My goodness me, you should just see their muscles!

Accordingly, certain canonical powers which in the old system had to be periodically regranted to diocesan bishops in their "quinquennial faculties", henceforth became powers inherent in the status of a diocesan bishop. So the old method by which Rome had been able to ... er ... inconvenience recalcitrant bishops, is no longer available. And quite right, too.

But, so a very experienced retired bishop now tells us, in this Pontificate of Mercy bishops are "timid and fearful of retaliation by Rome".

Well, well, well. Who'd have thought it. What exactly are they afraid of? Where exactly does "retaliation" feature in the Lord's teaching? Luke 22:32, perhaps? ("Simon, Simon ... I have prayed for you ... and when you have turned again, retaliate upon your brethren").

I am reminded of the dear old Anglican joke ... stop me if you've heard it before ... yes, we old men are such bores ... about the laying on of hands during Episcopal Consecration.

"What" asks the ubiquitous Tiny Boy, "are they all doing to him?"

(I should explain here to Cradle Catholics that the Anglican tradition most happily preserved the ancient ritual whereby all the Consecrators - they might be a dozen or more - imposed hands simultaneously. It looked rather like a rugger scrum, with the Consecrand submerged in the middle.)

The child's Father explains to him: "They are removing his spine".

27 September 2017

The aetiology and mechanics of Fear

I have taken out a very moving Comment from the last thread; and I reproduce it here, with one or two personal details omitted, so that I can comment on it. My words express only my own views.

"There is another territory to be heard; the diocesan clergy, and I can testify to the fear out there. I feel it myself; ... I entered the diocesan priesthood from Lutheranism ... my decision to sign may come with danger  ... Unfortunately, we live in times of great venality and danger for those who just express simple orthodoxy. Going this next step is necessary but fraught with peril. Cosmas and Damian, Cyprian and Justina, pray for our courage."

Fear, my dear Father? You've certainly put your finger on it there. Perhaps you, like many of us, have spoken with brother priests who work in Rome, and who talk a great deal about the atmosphere of fear which pervades the clergy who serve the Holy See. And, at the risk of breaking secrets, let me tell you about the most striking experience I personally had while we were preparing for the publication of the Correctio: clergy who agreed with it wholeheartedly but feared to take the risk. (But, thanks be to God, the signatories have now risen to 147.)

"Nobody spoke about him with boldness (parrhesia) because of fear ..."(John 7:13). However, "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear"(I John 4:18).

Fear is quite beautiful, isn't it, as a Satanic operational strategy? The Enemy disseminates Fear. He fills good honest men with guilt because they feel too fearful to do what they know they should do. And then, when the Correctio is published, his ministers sneer as they answer the journalists' questions, and glibly point out how few signatories there are. As Marco Tossati has put it, "Belittle, label, marginalise".

God, our most sweet Creator and Redeemer, works by Love, by the Blood of Christ which streams in the firmament. It is the Enemy who does his work by Fear. Since early in this pontificate, it is Fear, on wings of vituperation, that has cast its shadow.

As the Enemy realises that the Love of Christ is proving too powerful for him, his fury may very well urge him to even greater acts of violence. There may be more to endure before we are finished with it all. But it will be no match for the splendour which will radiate from the right hand of Mary (Fatima, Third Secret).

This is no time to lose our nerve.

26 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" - Some personal reflections (2)

Another significant detail (I give my opinion here purely as an individual) is the adherence to the Correctio of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Society of S Pius X, and of another priest of that Society.

What cheers me is that the Society is boldly standing up for the Gospel, as, indeed, one would expect the sons of Marcel Lefebvre to do ... and is also taking part in the life of the mainstream Church. It was never the intention of Archbishop Lefebvre that the Society should be a ghetto, even a tolerated ghetto, within the Church. That is why the Society so long (and so ultimately successfully) insisted that every priest of the Latin Church (and not only clergy of tolerated groups) must be known to possess the unfettered right to use the Old Mass.

I do not wish to be unjust to anybody ... and so I apologise if I have missed anything ... but I have not noticed that the Fraternity of S Peter, or the Institute of Christ the King, have been very public in the controversies which have followed the publication of Amoris laetitia. I would yield to no-one in my belief in the primacy of the Liturgy; but liturgical battles are not the only conflicts in which our Holy Father has in effect summoned us to Fight a Good Fight. Of course, responsible superiors have to bear in mind the damage which may be done to their institutions if they fall under the disfavour of heterodox, or just plain nervous, local ordinaries. But, surely, by virtue of our baptism, we still have some  obligation to bear witness to the Gospel in the context of the Universal Church Militant.

Furthermore, the Correctio, based on the Magisterium of two millennia, is also willing to allude in its footnotes to the Magisterial teaching of Vatican II and of the later pontiffs, particularly the doughty Veritatis Splendor of S John Paul II (so disgracefully ignored in Amoris laetitia). The SSPX has been wary of the Magisterium of this period; understandably so. You do not need to remind me of the ambiguities in some documents; of the dangerous hares which were sent running in all sorts of directions. But for those of us in uncomplicated canonical relationships with the Holy See, such documents, in all their unevenness (including, in some cases, facile optimism and deliberately dishonest ambiguities), have been part of the currency in which we have had to do business. I again commend Aidan Nichols' fine and balanced The Council in Question, in which he admits the presence of an element which "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics". (We have just heard of the death of the admirable Brunero Gherardini, Canon Theologian of S Peter's in Rome, who wrote A much needed discussion, and whose Funeral was yesterday. C.A.P.D..)

I believe that acceptance of this situation ... that, perforce, we talk to each other in a theological dialect which has been influenced by Vatican II and the "Conciliar" popes ... is the substance of the doctrinal requirements which have been made of the SSPX.  Bishop Fellay's participation in doing Theology within this general, if imperfect, context seems to me a sufficient and potent indication that the Society should be given a proper, and protected, and canonical status without further nitpicking.

It is a part of the Catholic Church; it has witnessed with great courage for nearly half century to the Faith once and forever delivered to the Saints. The time has come for it to be seen as an insider, not an outsider, in the momentous debates now happening within the Church Militant; the time for it to be heard.

25 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" ... some personal reflections (1)

Readers, I hope, have read carefully the Filial Correction of the Roman Pontiff.

One point which, speaking only on my own behalf as an individual, I would like to make is this.

The Correctio represents a return to an era of robust and energetic debate between differing theological tendencies, or "schools", within the Church.

It is now very clear that we do indeed again have "schools" ... most conspicuously, a Bergoglianist Party ... in the Latin Church. Just as once we had the Franciscans pitted against the Dominicans ... Jesuits and Jansenists ....

The difference in our present situation is that one of these "schools" or parties - the Bergoglianist - is headed by the Roman Pontiff himself (or else by individuals who have worked themselves into the position of being able to manipulate the papal office). This is confusing; Christifideles are not accustomed to having to make the distinction between what the Pope does as the head of a party; and what he does by virtue of his Petrine Ministry. But we are left with no alternative except to work within this confusing situation. The pope is the boss, and this, clearly, is how he wants things.

Amoris laetitia was obviously not a binding Magisterial document. Papa Bergoglio himself made this near the beginning (Paragraph 3; this sentence, amusingly, appears to constitute one of the most lucid and clear propositional statements in the document!). I quote:
"Confirmare volumus non cunctas doctrinales, morales, vel pastorales disputationes per magisterii declarationes esse absolvendas."

My translation [and comments]: "We [notice the 'majestic', formal plural] wish to confirm [a formal, judicial term] that not all doctrinal, moral, or pastoral disputations [a term redolent of debates between different theological tendencies in the medieval Schools] must be resolved through declarations [a term with a long history in Magisterial documents] of the Magisterium." 

As Cardinal Mueller when Prefect of the CDF made clear, if the pope wished to set aside what his predecessors had formally set in place, he would need to do so with clarity, and to do it explicitly. Pope Francis not only did not do this; he made clear, in the sentence I have just presented, that he had no intention of doing so. 

Those portions of Amoris laetitia which have been demonstrated, at least prima facie, to contradict the Magisterium set in place by recent and earlier popes, are clearly nothing more than statements of the opinions held by (just) one party within the Church Militant here in Earth, the Bergoglianist Party. 

The Correctio filialis takes up the implied invitation by the Holy Father to enter into these disputationes about questions which, in the professed view of him and his party, are unresolved.

And the Correctio participates in this stimulating dialogue by making the counterclaim that particular questions which the Bergoglianist Party regards as still open have in fact already been resolved by the Church's irreformable Magisterium. 

Nothing complicated about all that, is there? 

Fr Michael Moreton

Today is his Year's Mind. May he rest in peace.

24 September 2017

Mary and heresies and the Reign of Sex

I wish all readers a wonderful solemn Day of our Lady of Walsingham. Today is the first time since the erection of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham that our titular Solemnity has come on a Sunday, thus replacing the Sunday Mass. She it is who  Ransomed three Ordinariates out of slavery in (what our other Patron, Blessed John Henry Newman, once called) the House of Bondage.

We are blessed with quite a number of feasts of our Lady at this time of the year. In the Breviary Common of our Lady, there is a phrase that sticks in my mind: one of the antiphons at Mattins credits the Theotokos with "destroying all heresies throughout the world".

This was, of course, particularly true in the period of the first Four Councils, when Arianism and Nestorianism were both put down by the assertion of her title as Mother of God.

But what is the great heresy of our own day? Surely, the Reign of Sex. Pius XI and Paul VI effectively foretold the preoccupations of the current world. Some people, simple souls, believed that pharmaceutical contraception would simply enable nice respectable married couples to ensure nice respectable two year gaps between the nice babies they would have ... nothing more than that.

How naive. How pathetic.

So we now have a culture in which ... but, since you can guess what I'm going to say, I don't need to spell it all out.

And we are told by the current occupant of the Roman bishopric that it is no longer polite to describe adulterous relationships in terms which the adulterers might find upsetting. And we are told by the secular State that, if we are not very careful in what we say, the Diversity Police will come knocking on our doors.

It's not that some new problem has arisen. Ever since the Fall, human sexuality has been assaulted by disorders. Somebody once wittily observed that Sexual Intercourse was invented in the 1960s. But did nobody ever feel and fall for a sexual temptation before then?

The only difference between this age and every preceding culture? Now, it is the Official Message of the ministers of the Zeitgeist that, in sexual matters, Fay ce que voudras admits no qualification (except as regards paedophiles).

Paul VI spoke about the Smoke of Satan entering the Church. Some traddies have tended to assume that liturgical disorder is what he had in mind. I wonder whether it might have been the complete collapse of the concept of boundaries within Sexuality.

Mary, Mother of God, Mary Ever-Virgin, Mater Purissima, stands as the great condemnation of the Reign of Sex, as she does of every other heresy.

Could there have been any better day on which to publish the Correctio Filialis?

23 September 2017

Breaking News

There are wild rumours on the Internet about News due to break tomorrow, Sunday. They are, as far as I know, all wrong. Far too wild. Far too dramatic. Far too much in the febrile spirit of the current pontificate. Calm down! ... No; it's not that, either !!

But, tomorrow, a piece of news will break: an action taken by a small group of small and very humble Christian people from many countries; some men, some women, some lay, some clerical.

It may not (to quote Churchill) be "the beginning of the end" of the disorders of this pontificate.

Its effect will depend on you and thousands like you. Depending on how you, with God's grace, take it forward, it might be looked back upon in the future as (Churchill again) "the end of the beginning".

It's up to you. And to our Lady of Fatima and Walsingham, who promised that her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

Pope Honorius I

Surprising, isn't it, how many people seem to be interested in the case of our late beloved Holy Father Pope Honorius I, just now ...

But I would like to be frank about something I don't understand.

Here it is: the claim of the subsequent Magisterium to have expelled Honorius I from the Church. I do not see how it is possible to do this to someone who is dead. Ecclesiastical authorities, as far as I am aware, only claim and have jurisdiction over or within the Church Militant (indulgences, for example, can only be applied to the Departed per modum suffragii). Or does the phrase mean something like deleting his name from the diptychs of the Dead ... a sort of ecclesiastical version of the secular damnatio memoriae? Can any Conciliar or Patristics expert explain?

I feel much happier with the way our Holy Father Pope Leo II wrote to the Spanish Bishops: " ... Honorio, qui flammam haeretici dogmatis non, ut decuit apostolicam dignitatem, incipientem extinxit, sed negligendo confovit".

I like two things in particular about this:
(1) it exemplifies Newman's highly important point that the job of the Roman Church is to be a remora, a barrier against innovation ... the duty of its bishop, because of his apostolic, Petrine, dignity, is to 'extinguish the fire of heretical doctrine as soon as it first begins'; and
(2) it makes clear that Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously.

Comments which try to get headway out of this distressing situation by advocating sedevacantist nonsense will, for reasons I have explained often enough in the past, not be enabled. Nor will mindless abuse of the current pope.

22 September 2017


More idleness on my part! Here is another old post, which has already appeared more than once! But I think it is more relevant than ever!! I have added one or two phrases. The earlier dates could be reconstructed from the thread.

PARRHESIA is a Greek noun [which, some time ago, was] used with great frequency by our Holy Father Pope Francis; it means speaking openly, boldly, fearlessly, standing like a free man rather than cowering like a slave, epecially in contexts where it might be apprehended that some powerful person could turn beastily nasty. A good, authoritative, example of its use, and a (fairly) authoritative gloss about its meaning, were provided when the Holy Father in 2014 told the Synod Fathers to speak with parrhesia, and his close friend "Archbishop" Fernandez [somebody should write a Gilbert-and-Sullivan chorus about this individual] was overheard interpreting this for the edification of common ordinary not-in-the-know not-one-of-us bishops as meaning "Mueller [then Cardinal Prefect of the CDF] won't come after us". Assuming that this concept is meant to apply symmetrically, clearly Fernandez also meant that he, Fernandez, and Pope Francis, wouldn't "come after" anybody, either. Good News for both Bishops and Bloggers worldwide. [It is a shame that those in various places who persecute, or urge others to intimidate, opponents of Pope Bergoglio's innovations, have not interiorised his calls for Parrhesia but still "come after" people they deem off-message.]

The term is quite common in the New Testament: S Mark 8:32; S John 7:4,13,26; 10:24; 11:14,54; 16:25,29; 18:20; Acts 2:29; 4:13,29,31; 28:31; etc. etc.. For the verb parrhesiazomai, mainly in Acts, see 9:27,28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26 ...

[Anybody got a Concordance for the Septuagint? The Vulgate rendering is often palam ... loqui. For a link to a good (Oz) talk about Parrhesia in the Classical period of Attic Greek, see a comment of my own on the old thread infra.]

[In Italian and Spanish, it is written without the h, and, sadly, the rather limited chappies who do the English versions of Vatican statements sometimes don't realise that the English, transliterated of course directly from the Greek, is parrhesia. Don't let them confuse or worry you. Not now, not ever.]

21 September 2017

Whose hands?

Here's a Medieval oddity which I don't think anybody has noticed.

In the Statuta Antiqua, when a bishop is consecrated, "two bishops place and hold a book of the Gospels over his neck, and as the Ordainer pours the Blessing over him, the bishops who are present touch his head with their hands".

Now to the Spanish, Mozarabic, rite for the ordination of a presbyter. "The presbyters lay hands on him, and he is blessed by the bishop as follows ...".

Spot it? Well, in neither of these very different sources does the rubric actually say that the Ordainer himself lays hands on the ordinand.

I know what you're going to say. The imposition of hands by the ordainer is taken-for-granted. The rubrician doesn't bother to specify the blindingly obvious. And you might very well be right. But I'm not totally sure.

In each of these cases, I am convinced that what we have is a collegial act. The new bishop is being incorporated into the world-wide (and, as E L Mascall would insist, time-wide) college of bishops. The new presbyter is being incorporated by the corporate, collegiate presbyterium, into the priesthood of the local church (and since the local church is the manifestation of the Church Universal, this simultaneously incorporates him into the whole priestly body of Christ's whole Church).

I am quite certain that those presbyters could not so incorporate a new member if they acted on their own without the presidency of their head, the bishop. An attempt to do so would be, in the still appropriate language of the old manuals, 'invalid'. But with him they truly can do what they could not do without him. Just like the coconsecrators in the episcopal rite, they truly confer the sacrament.

And I feel pretty sure that in the Mozarabic rite, it was thought appropriate for the form to be uttered by the Bishop, the matter supplied by his presbyterium. See I Timothy 4:14.

20 September 2017


There is a great deal to be joyful about; in fact, I feel on something of an emotional high. These are exhilarating times to be a "traditional" Latin Catholic! And not least of the sources of joy is the sense of panic in "Liberal" quarters: almost hysterical panic that, although in this pontificate they have their hands on all the central levers of power in the Church, they seem to be making so little headway in stifling the Gospel and the Tradition.

I say that so as to put some grumps into perspective.

Grump (1) I hope you have read, on LifeSiteNews, the account by Diane Montagna of what has just been done to the S John Paul Institute for the Family.

Diane is a remarkable young journalist; at the Vatican News Conference when the Graf von Schoenborn "presented" Amoris laetitia, she asked the one, real, important question. The Graf proceeded, with that ready smile which some odd people find so winsome, condescendingly to put her down by a misrepresentation of the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Her piece on LifeSiteNews is a deft and penetrating analysis of this latest attack on the Magisterium of S John Paul.

Grump (2) Fr Zed reveals the aggression perpetrated against the SSPX when they went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Blessed Lady at Knock; the use of security men to prevent the SSPX group from offering the Holy Sacrifice or saying the Rosary within the Shrine precincts.

The fact that the Society has been allowed to pray in Roman basilicas, and in the Concrete Submarine at Lourdes [see a lovely video of the pontifical High Mass celebrated there by His Excellency Bishop Fellay, which I access by googling Fr Ray Blake SSPX Lourdes], makes this illiberal act stand out like a sore etc.etc..

Questions are in order. (a) Was a pretext offered? Ex. Gr. "You haven't booked in and another group is booked in to use the same facilities at precisely the same moment." Even if there was a technical pretext, one doubts whether a group, say, of Orthodox or Anglicans would have had detachments of security men let loose on them.
(b) Was the diocesan bishop involved in this debacle?

When I was at Knock, I was pleasantly surprised by how very friendly the staff were in enabling me to say Mass (EF) at the Altar of the Vision. One brother priest to whom I said this remarked "I can only tell you that you were remarkably lucky". Could it be that the fact I was in company with Cardinal Pell influenced people?

Not a grump at all but just a question (3): NLM has an interesting primer on how to Enrich the Novus Ordo. Among much else, it suggests wiping thumbs, forefingers three times on the Corporal at the start of the Qui pridie. Three times is not what I was taught at England's most prestigious Seminary, Staggers (1967), in our Mass Practices, nor can I find it in O'Connell. Do I now need, in advanced old age, to triple the habit of a lifetime?

19 September 2017

Irreversibly Bye Bye to Vatican II

Fr Zed revealed a week or so ago that the Vatican publishing house had no plans to do a reprint of the Latin text of the post-Vatican II Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum. It is, apparently, out of print and unobtainable.

Unobtainable? But if I go into Blackwells in Oxford, they can rush off, within a fortnight, a one-off reprint of any out-of-print book. And it is very cheap. Yet the Libreria Editrice Vaticana didn't make any such offer to their enquirer. Just: "It's out of print. We have no plans."

Remarkable. Vatican II, in its liturgical decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, explicitly mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. 

Is that Conciliar liturgical prescription "irreversible"? You will have to submit a dubium to the current occupant of the Roman bishopric if you want a quick answer to that question. I thought I heard recently that he takes a rather strong view on the "irreversibility" of all the Vatican II and post-Vatican II liturgical stuff. I rather think he even described his own opinions on this subject as "Magisterial", whatever, in this context, that means. But his own Vatican publishers seem very relaxed about the whole business.

I can only draw two possible conclusions from this puzzling episode. Either
(1) hint hint, the clergy are no longer expected to recite the Divine Office; or
(2) hint hint, the clergy are expected to procure copies of the (very much still in print) 1962 , pre-Conciliar, Latin Breviary, and to use that.

Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. If those in Rome whose job it is to render physically possible the observance of what the Council explicitly ordered couldn't care less about it, obviously we lesser men (and all you lesser women too) can now just totally (irreversibly?) forget about it. What was it that Newman and Ratzinger each said about Councils?

I know how to take a hint, and how to take it irreversibly ...

18 September 2017

Lighten our darkness ...

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord: and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.

This prayer comes from Anglican Use Evensong, and had originally been the concluding prayer of the Sarum Compline. Here is the Sarum original:

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

In other words, Cranmer, as his custom was, expanded propitius to by thy great mercy and insidias  ['ambushes'] to perils and dangers. the ambushes of this whole night thus became all perils and dangers of this night. 

Just as Cranmer padded and expanded, lest his vernacular version of the prayer be finished before the worshippers had quite realised it had started, so, through the Middle Ages, this prayer had already grown in the Latin. Here is the version in the 'Gregorian Sacramentary', with those words crossed out which were subsequently added.

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

But what will really surprise you is the Heading a little way above it the 'Gregorian Sacramentary'.


Gracious! It was apparently a collect for the Dawn!! It did not ask for God to protect us through the darkness of this night; it asked God to push away (repelle) the dangerous darkness of night. Look back at the Latin text!

[It may be that I am wrong. Another prayer in this section does look like a late evening prayer, so perhaps the Heading is erroneous. Illumina is certainly an evening prayer in the 'Gelasian Sacramentary'. But this exercise may serve to remind us how things are not always what they seem!]

When I am Cardinal Prefect of the CDW, I shall permit all who have Anglican Previous to use this prayer instead of Visita nos; which seems to be just a trifle odd when not used in a Religious House.

17 September 2017

Sister Teresa Forcades UPDATE

UPDATE: A rather odd correspondent has accused me of accusing the Sister of expurgating the text of Scripture. I think it should be clear to any reader that this is the opposite of what, in the following, I am implying she may have guiltily done. My view is that she appears to me to be guilty of making the swaggering, macho claim that she expurgates Scripture ... when (since it has already been expurgated in the Novus Ordo) she doesn't!

Context: I would never pay money for The Tablet but in a weak moment I signed up for their you-can-read-online-six-articles-a-month-free offer. I now wish to comment on an article I read: but I can't revisit it to check the facts, having used up my allocation. I rely upon readers to tell me if through poor memory I am doing someone an injustice, so that I can amend or withdraw this post.

Recently I read in the Tablet a piece about a Catalan nun called, I think, Teresa Forcades. In the course of this article, she was reported as saying that, when reading in Church the First Letter of Timothy, she always left out Chapter 2 verse 12 (in which S Paul does not allow women to teach in Church).

What puzzled me here was the fact that, in the Novus Ordo, that verse is not included in the Lectionary ... in other words, the post-Conciliar revisers had already expurgated it from the text, thereby wilfully and wickedly depriving Sister of the fun of expurgating it herself.

How can I be sure of this? Because I checked it up in Matthew P Hazell's Index Lectionum, which enables you to check such things in an instant. If you haven't got this admirable book already, I recommend it highly. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3. It reveals the locations of so very many interred corpses.

But perhaps this verse was included in a pericope from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours? I checked the index at the end of each of the four volumes: no luck.

I think ... frabjous day! ... I may just have discovered a New Argument against the Novus Ordo ... videlicet:

It deprives radical nuns and progressive layfolk of the simple daily joy of chopping out of Holy Scripture the bits with which they disagree!!

Spoil Sport!

As for Sister ... does she, perhaps, very occasionally, allow her imagination to run away with her?

16 September 2017

The Eucharistic Fast

Some time ago, as I was talking to one of the Russian Orthodox clergy here in Oxford, I was interested to hear that the Orthodox, when, during Lent, they receive Holy Communion at an evening Liturgy of the Presanctified, are only nowadays expected to fast from midday (I hope I've got that right). It brought home to me that it is not only the West which, since the time of Pius XII, has felt that a discipline of fasting (which was apparently manageable to a European peasantry that toiled all day beneath the sun at their subsistence agriculture) is too much for our own soft culture.

But enough of grumps. I want to advance the notion that a Hermeneutic of Continuity might incline us to reconsider our practice of the Eucharistic Fast; which Pius XII first reduced to three hours and then Blessed Paul VI reduced to one hour. And that is one hour before the time of Communion, not one hour before the beginning of Mass. And recent legislation has permitted binating clergy on Sundays to snack between Masses even if that cuts into the one hour. To all intents and purposes, the Fast has been abolished.

When I retired to Devon at the age of sixty, I found myself not infrequently saying three Masses on Sunday morning (trinating! I took it that unreprobated custom and pastoral necessity justified this rather iffy practice). I continued my habit of fasting until after the third Mass ... which meant until about 12.30. And I am one whom gluttony has rendered self-indulgent and unfit. I'm not boasting when I say that I never had any problem with it. And, in conversation once with the Syrian Orthodox who came to celebrate their Liturgy in S Thomas's, I discovered that they fasted from supper-time the evening beforehand: as, of course, did their priest: who had just driven from Croydon to celebrate a Liturgy that lasted from 12.00 until after 2.00. It can be done.

I'm not going to rant about the effective reduction of the Eucharistic Fast from a rigid rule to an option, however horrified our Tractarian Fathers would have been by this. I would never write anything to make others feel guilty or to discourage others from going to Mass and receiving the Lord's Body and Blood. But I wonder if we ought to be doing more to move towards a more Traditional and Patristic habit in this matter.

My own practice is: when I am de facto observing the old convention that Mass be celebrated between Dawn and Midday, I observe the old (Western) rule of fasting from the previous midnight. When I am being modern and saying Mass after Midday, I keep B Paul VI's modern rule of a one-hour fast. Is this really so desperately impossible or absurdly illogical?

For what it's worth, Pius XII did urge all those capable of doing so to observe the old rule. And I have heard rumours that, before legislating, he sought confirmation that it was within his power so to legislate. Among Anglo-Catholics, who had spent decades arguing for the Apostolic importance of the Eucharistic Fast, there was consternation. I have been told that the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament asked my erudite predecessor, Dr Trevor Jalland, to explain what was going on.

15 September 2017

CDF: throw the archives open

In his illuminating Cuddesdon paper, Fr Aidan Nichols reminded us that, according to reports, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then directed by the admirable Gerhard Mueller) submitted copious corrections to the draft of Amoris laetitia ... all, or most, of which were ignored.

Let me remind you why this matters. As Fr Aidan said, we would find it preferable to be able to believe that the errors and (at least prima facie) heresies in AL were a matter of negligent language on the part of Papa Bergoglio, rather than the result of a positive intention to teach what he knew to be error. We can only judge which of those two verdicts needs to be passed on our Holy Father (and, obviously, the latter is a graver matter than the former) if we can collate the corrections offered to him by the Congregation with the successive drafts of AL and its final text.

I know we can hardly expect, in this pontificate, so open and frank an action as the publication of the CDF's comments. That, in a sense, is the problem about this troubled period in the history of the Church Militant. The current occupant of the Roman See talks without ceasing when it would become him to be silent; and keeps his mouth zippered when it is his duty to open it and to defend the Fides tradita and to confirm his brethren. Where there should be secrecy there is openness; where we need openness, there is secrecy.

Incidentally, may I appeal for help? There are reports in a the German digital newspaper, Mannheimer Morgan, that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has made some rather important points. I would be interested to see the text (or an English crib, if possible) of the Cardinal's actual words. Can anybody supply me with a link? This is how the report sums up the part I am mainly interest in: "To rely solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in theological questions? A frightening idea for [Mueller]. Mueller makes reference here to the example of S Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621); he pointed out to Clement VIII (1536-1605) in clear words his lack of theological competence".

(To be clear: I do not want another link to the newspaper report but to his Eminence's actual words which are here merely summarised.)

I suspect that Mueller may have made an important contribution to the problem of how we handle a doctrinally disfunctional pontificate.

14 September 2017

We need a Novena ...

Tomorrow, September 15, Feast of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, is a good day to start a Novena leading up to the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham, on Sunday 24 September (in the English Ordinariate, of course, the feast of our Lady will this year supersede the Sunday Mass and Office).

Nine days of prayer, that the intercession of the Mother of God might bring succour to the Ecclesia adflicta of her divine Son. Has the Church, in your lifetime, ever needed this more than it does today?

Mgr Armitage, current Administrator at the Catholic Shrine (known to Anglicans as The Barn), has put out texts for the Novena, and the Ordinariate Secretariate has passed these on to us.

I am not willingly negative; indeed, I would not deny the propriety of a rich diversity of approaches to Marian devotion. I don't regard it as my job to criticise others and to disparage their own initiatives and to snarl at anybody who does things differently from the exact way I would do them. But I do have a couple of reservations about the texts issued.

(1) This is technical: the translation given of the Angelus is the English Roman Catholic text. I would advocate, in the Ordinariate, the traditional Anglican translation, especially the use, at the end, of the Anglican (Cranmerian and Prayer Book) translation of the ancient Collect.
(2) My next reservation is more substantial: a form of Litany of our Lady is offered, clearly designed to be be more 'modern' than the traditional Litany ("of Loretto"). You know what I mean: instead of (ex.gr.) "Turris Davidica", one might invoke "Woman of Faith"; instead of "Ora pro nobis", one might pray "Keep us in mind".

I mention this not for the rather cheap motive of inviting you to groan at the inept 'modernity' of such things, but because what we are losing here is in fact something extremely important: the typological character of the old Litany. The titles of our Lady in that Litany include many of the  typological titles which Christian devotion, since at least the time of the Council of Ephesus, has discovered in the Old Testament as pointers to the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

Typology is discerning in the Old Testament the Figure of Christ and his Mother and the events of their lives, so that the Old Testament passage is the Type and the New Testament Figure or event is the Antitype. Typology is the central way in which the Great Tradition of both East and West has appropriated the Old Testament. It goes back to the New Testament texts themselves: Christ as the New Adam ... and see I Corinthians 10:1-11 ... and look at I Peter 3:20-21 ... etc.etc.. Typology is part of the fundamental Grammar of the Faith; something even deeper than dogma.

Today ... the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ... liturgical texts reminded us that the Lifting up of the Son of Man on the Cross is the Antitype of which the Lifting up of the serpent in the desert was the Type (Numbers 21:4-9; S John 3:13-17; S John 12:32).

I know that most laity have not been taught about Typology; because the Clergy weren't taught it either; because there were so much more important things for them to be taught in seminary (the Synoptic Problem... the inauthenticity of most of S Paul's letters ...)*. But seeing the Lorettan Litany displaced by a modernist 'relevant' formula devoid of Typology brought home to me again the radical impoverishment of current Catholic culture.

The Catholic Church needs a John Mason Neale redivivus. Come to think of it, perhaps that is precisely what God has raised up the Ordinariates for.

*None of my strictures apply to the admirable Fr John Hemer, of Allen Hall, who understands perfectly about Typology!

13 September 2017

Carnival time?

It was rumoured that, immediately after his election to the Roman Bishopric, Jorge Bergoglio said to his Caeremoniarius, who had offered him the garment indicating his new status as Servus servorum Dei, "The Carnival is over, Monsignor; wear it yourself". This was subsequently denied ... conclusively, I was very relieved and happy to assume. Back in those days, we had fewer data to go on with regard to how very nasty our Holy Father can be.

But now Monsignor Basil Loftus (in the article from which I have derived so much recent enlightenment) has apparently alluded to this story. And the Monsignor is a pretty extreme Bergoglianist, not to say a hyperultraueberpapalist.

So is the story, after all, true? Or is the Monsignor being even more Bergoglian than Bergoglio, and hinting that he would have liked the anecdote to be true?

Sometimes, of course, ben trovato fabrications are indeed truer than Clio, a distinctly unpermissive lady, would in her rather pedantically preserved virginity prefer to concede. I once had an academic colleague of whom it was said among our fellows that he had been Head Boy of ******* [a very minor English Public School]. This was not factually true but it was ... er ... truly true.

It told you more about him than any mere facts could convey.

I think we will leave Fr Basil at this point. Indeed, I do in fact agree with one argument he proposes: to the effect that the Episcopal Conferences in the Three Kingdoms should be open about what goes on in their meetings, just as the USA Conference is. And, when all is said and done, he is a brother priest whose ministry I pray will be ever fruitful, just as I hope and pray to be clear-sighted about the many shortcomings of my own.

12 September 2017

Mon Signore Loftus (3)

The overlaps in content (but certainly not style) between the article by "Monsignor Loftus", which I have shared with you, and the elegant paper delivered recently to an ecumenical audience by Fr Aidan Nichols, are quite considerable. And all the more diverting since they come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum.

The Catholic Herald account of Fr Aidan's address quotes him as saying that "bishops' conferences ha[ve] been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they [a]re divided among themselves". The Monsignore is much more prolix. "And in many, many more countries, our own included, whole episcopates are sitting on the fence ..." ... I honestly don't feel up to copying out the two columns which follow. I do, you know, type my posts with just the one finger.

All you need to know is that the Monsignore does not like Episcopal Conferences, least of all his own. He does not like "young" bishops, who are "often over-moralising, over-dogmatising, and over-sure". And, above all, he dislikes young priests, who are "youngsters", "aggressive", "narcissistic", "Tridentinising". "Unless some opposition to all this backward-looking ecclesiology is forthcoming ... mumble mumble mumble ... growing and clergy-led retreat ... mumble mumble mumble ...  introspective sacristy-sect"....

Historians will be diverted to realise that, while B Paul VI unwisely tried to rid the Church of the curse of gerontocracy by curbing the electoral powers of elderly Cardinals, the Monsignore apparently sees the salvation of the Church as lying entirely in the hands of the elderly. In their richly varied shades of grey, they should break their retirement and flock to Episcopal Conferences and deanery meetings and never stop putting their successors right about everything.

We wrinklies are enormously good at that sort of activity, and generous, to boot. "When I was ABC, what I used to do was DEF ..." "I always found it good practice to GHI...". "I think you will find, as I did, that JKL ...". Our anecdotes (rarely flawed by concise over-abbreviation) never end in our own discomfiture, but always in the confusion of the partes adversae. And it is amazing what excellent wind we still have, even though the advance of the years means that our flecks of spittle are broadcast with perhaps just a tadge less discipline than in the days of our prime.

It's called "being boring".

11 September 2017

"Monsigor" 'Loftus Part 2; together with Fr Aidan Nichols

Readers will recall the rather explosive (but very necessary) lecture given recently by the doyen of English Catholic academics, the learned Dominican Fr Aidan Nichols. Parts of it were printed in the Catholic Herald; I do urge readers who are not familiar with it to track that news item down on the Internet (sadly, it appears that the piece will not be made available more widely or in full).

Fr Aidan wrote: "[The Pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, very often of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia."

Rather divertingly, the  '"Mgr" Basil Loftus', about whom I wrote yesterday, says exactly the same, from a diametrically opposed theological standpoint. "Slowly but surely national hierarchies are being transformed by Francis' inspired appointments, just as within the Roman Curia there is a similar shift."

Goodness me. Can it really be quite so obvious that episcopal and curial appointments, under this regime, are made, not on the basis of pastoral, personal or doctrinal excellence, but on the dear old Third World principle of cronyism? Is this what the Pope from the Peripheries has brought us?

10 September 2017

Mgr Loftus

I have recently read an article from a journal of Catholic origin. It was an 'opinion piece' by a cleric called ... of course, this is probably a nom de plume ... Mgr Basil Loftus.

'Loftus' is clearly a Bergoglianist, because I read that "Pope Francis has resolved the culture of ecclesial poverty, the renunciation of carnival custume and pretentious titles, and ...".

At that point I hesitated, and referred just half an inch to the left, to the as-yet unutilised earlier part of the article ... where the author is described as Mgr Basil Loftus.

I scratched my head. Mgr? Surely, that is an Italian abbreviation for Mon Signore? And, surely, that, in English, is My Lord? Is 'Loftus' a barone or a conte? Perhaps even a marchese? In my simple Anglican Patrimony ignorance, I (subsequently) asked a friend ... one of those Cradle Catholics from whom we poor converts have been urged by Mr Ivereigh and his friends to take our religion as from a purer fount ... what Monsignore meant. "Ah", he said, nodding his wise old Cradle Catholic head. "It means that 'Loftus' is a Domestic Chaplain to the Supreme Pontiff".

You can imagine how stunned I was. 'Loftus' is clearly very old; to think of him popping off to Rome every few days to perform the important if menial tasks of laying out the Holy Father's baroque maniples and lacy albs and satin ferraiolas and whatnot indicates a very personal devotion to the Great Man. "Er", said my mentor, "No, 'Loftus' pretty certainly never gets anywhere near the Vatican. If he did, the pope would probably strangle him with one of his maniples. Monsignore and Domestic Chaplain are just  ... well, let's say, just rather pretentious titles ..."

Oh dear. Now I am terribly puzzled. How difficult it is to be a poor ignorant convert.

Do you think 'Loftus' would take me on and give me some private coaching?

To be continued.