29 September 2010

The Society of SS Wilfrid and Hilda

I gather that, while Pam and I were enjoying the Cornish Sun, those slippery folk, the 'Catholic Bishops of the Church of England', took advantage of my absence to hold a 'Sacred Synod' without my supervision.

By 'slippery Catholic Bishops' I mean, not our worthy and stalwart Flying Bishops who are still studying the Ordinariate offer with admirably open and unbiased minds - may the Holy Spirit soon enlighten them - but a collection of 'Establishment' prelates who seem, so many of them, to have some sort of connection in their CVs with John Hinde, the Bishop of Chichester. From this stable comes the Society of SS W and H, as the answer to the crisis facing the Catholic Movement in the C of E.

Considering the track record of those two saints in tidying up the C of E in a relentlessly Romanising direction, a Man from Mars might have thought that this proposed society was a cunning scheme for rounding up the troops for an enthusiastic and immediate mass entry into the Ordinariate. He might have been encouraged in this assumption by the fact that the first stated aim of the new Society is: to secure the full visible unity of the Church. But if this is what the begetters of the scheme have in mind, they are being very delicately allusive, indeed, Jesuitically cunning, about it. Would it not be more English, more Manly, to dump the devious and be open and frank? You will have discerned that I am feeling in rather a Charles Kingsley sort of mood about all this.

Alternatively, might it be that they are trying to syphon off some Anglicans who might be tempted by the Ordinariates? "Stay in Mother Damnable and you can kid yourselves that by joining our game you are more or less joining the Ordinariate ... except that completion will be just that little bit further down the road". But if this is what the begetters of the scheme have in mind, would it not be more English, more Manly, to be open, honest, and frank?

After 1992, we waited for the "Leaders of the Catholic Movement" to come up with something; to do something resolute and virile. They came up with an Act of Synod which, essentially, sold the pass (there are growing numbers of women priests in every diocese) but enabled those gentry to retain palaces and cathedrals; seats in the House of Lords and - perhaps the really insidious temptation - the trappings of status and deference. They even delicately distanced themselves from the groundroots organisations, such as Forward in Faith, which raised the money and did the fighting and took the opprobrium ("It's the tone we don't like"). Now a new generation of such "Leaders" has decided that, after all, just one organisation more really is the solution to all our problems.

If founding yet more Societies were the solution, bully for wilfn'hilda. But does anybody seriously suppose that our opponents are suddenly going to cave in and allow such an organisation to have jurisdiction and the necessary autonomies? And even if women bishops don't jump over the numerical hurdle in the next General Synod ... well, does anyone doubt that they will in the one after? And even if that innovation were per impossibile held permanently at bay, how can any Catholic see ecclesial integrity in a 'Church' in which more than half the presbyterate will very soon be female? Or in a 'Society' sponsored by bishops who, while they salve their incomprehensible consciences by declining physically to taint their own hands with the touch of female hair, nevertheless ordain women by proxy and license and institute them to the cure of souls ("which is mine and thine") and treat them in their dioceses as in every respect de facto priests? Ordained women, wearing stoles priestwise, participate liturgically with these bishops, and Bishop Hind has even established forms of priestly ordination in his diocese in which the collegial imposition of hands by the presbyters present includes the participation of women 'priests'. Are such compromised men as this the toughies who will put on their boxing gloves and "take it if we are not given it" and be prepared to break the Law and face down the bailiffs?

Perhaps I had better not be too rude about the Society. If the English RC bishops were to succeed in so smothering, tying up, and impeding the local Ordinariate, that the Holy Father's generous intentions were cleverly frustrated, I suppose some among us might have to fall back on wilfn'hilda. But I don't see how, to any real Catholic, it can be plan A. I don't see how it could even be Plan B. Plan Z, fifteen times removed, a bastard begotten on the wrong side of the blanket, is just about the best it could be.

28 September 2010

The Church of England

A load of stuff in the post, inviting me to vote for the House of Clergy in the next General Synod.

Do I really want to vote for Catholic candidates? Is it best for there to be a strong Catholic presence in the next Synod; or for it to be even weaker?

I wish I had that sound Churchman, the late Fr Lenin, to advise me. I seem to recall that he said something apposite about such dilemmas, but I can't quite summon it to mind.

By the way: people ask what I think about 'The Society of S Wilfrid and S Hilda' which, apparently, is now the solution to all the problems of the Catholic Movement. I'll work through the night and try get something on the blog by 6.00 tomorrow morning (Central European Time).

27 September 2010


A kind friend whose handwriting I can't quite identify has sent me an offering for a requiem for his parents ... EF, of course. But he didn't put his name at the bottom. I don't need it since he did include hisparents' Christian names, but ...

I feel so silly ...

Father of God

Going through some old rubbish the other day, I came across a document which was embellished with episcopal seals ... plastic, not wax ... do RC bishops seal in red plastic? Or is it part of the Patrimony?

It gave me a shock. Proddies among you may be aware that among papists and those traitors to the Reformation in the Church of England who ape them, Mary is referred to as "Mother of God". Nonsense, as you will remind me; for how can God have a Mother? But in the Diocese of Exeter, he has a Father too. The document begins: "I JOHN by Divine Permission Bishop of Plymouth under the authority of the Right Reverend Father of God MICHAEL ..."

And there is some superb gibberish at the end. "In Testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand on the Episcopal Seal The Bishop of Exeter as hereunto affixed this 11th day ...".

I have sometimes been unfriendly about the ignorance, within the Latin Church, of Latin. In all fairness, I should admit that, in the English Church, the English language is very imperfectly known.


Textual Criticism of ancient texts is often bedevilled by the fact that in some scriptoria a text was read aloud to be taken down by a room full of slaves. Sometimes a rather thick slave didn't understand what he heard, and wrote down nonsense. Exactly the same has happened in this document. Readers with time to waste might like to have a go at emending the corrupt text beginning "In Testimony ...".

26 September 2010

Cranmer's Typology

"Our sacraments contain presently the very things signified no more than theirs [the Jews'] did".

Chilling words, revealing the depth of Dr Cranmer's Zwinglianism. I am no expert in Reformation theology, but I doubt if even Dr Calvin would have written that.

I suppose he had in mind the saxum mobile of I Corinthians 10. But I wonder how he can have reconciled his dreadful heresies with the exposition in I Peter of Noah's Ark as the Type of Baptism.

25 September 2010


Pam and I have just returned from a fortnight in Cornwall, homeland of the Glorious Rebellion of 1549. If you have emailed me and got no reply, this is because of the massive numbers of emails I've just tried to race through and deal with. If it was personal /important, please get in touch again!

For the same reason, I have not been able to respond to comments on the blog.

24 September 2010

The dangers of schism and of ultratraditionalism

I recently commented on how Bishop Richard Williamson, of the SSPX, in attacking the 'conciliar Church', employed a concept of Intention which is contrary to what the Western Church has magisterially taught and practised for a millennium and a half. Persistent readers of my blog will recall that on two occasions I have done a long series on Concelebration, demonstrating that the Magisterium of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, and of the praxis of the Church for over a millennium conclusively regard, and in practice treat, Concelebration as being genuinely celebration in the real sense. I do this (although my own view is that the post-conciliar efflorescence of concelebrations is thoroughly unwholesome) because it is a fact. And I do it because the practice of Concelebration in the limited circumstances in which it was actually mandated by the Council has the AUCTORITAS of at least a millennium of of praxis in the Roman Rite.And today I wish to make an additional point.

Both within the SSPX and in the Traditionalist circles in full canonical unity with Rome, I sometimes fear a tendency to make up Tradition. Sometimes this is in violent reaction against abuses in those other circles who have themselves invented The Spirit Of The Council. But it really is no service whatsoever to the real Tradition of the Church and to its authentic Magisterium, and to the Auctoritas which is at the basis of good liturgical praxis, to lapse oneself into error or worse. We need to be soundly based in the wholeness of Tradition in exposing the abuses of the latter twentieth century.

And when correspondents, offering no response to facts I put before them, cheerfully retort that Williamson Is Right, I feel some degree of despair.

Tradition is not something which we each confect day by day so as to have a stick with which to beat those of whom we disapprove.

I have a considerable respect for SSPX (although I do think it took a wrong turn in deciding that 1962 has to be the authentic form of the Traditional Rite); one of my dearest priest friends was himself ordained by le grand archeveque. My copy of the SSPX Repertoire is more thumbed than many would think proper. And, as I have argued before, I believe that the current discussions between the Vatican and SSPX about the status and hermeneusis of conciliar documents could provide a gift to the entire Church.

But it is a fact that theological ... er ... eccentricity ... can result from from breaches in communion or from a distancing of oneself from the main body of the Church. Heaven only knows, we Anglicans can provide ample evidence of that.

23 September 2010

My weaknesses

... are many. I succumbed to one of them when Rubricarius sent me the Decree of Clement XIII about using the Trinity Preface on 'Ordinary' Sundays.

The propers of Trinity Sunday wallow in medieval elegances as they praise the Trinity in sonorous and repetitive phraseology (" ... vera et una Trinitas una et summa Deitas sancta et una Unitas.") which I suspect goes back to the rhetoric of S Augustine. Lovely stuff. I mean that.

But it is the Baroque, in all its manifestations, that leaves me helpless. Even in its earlier literary forshadowings such as the predilection of Carolingian hymnwriters and homilists for grandifying their verse and prose with Hellenisms and punning juxtapositions ("Magnus aeterni Logotheta Verbi" to describe the wordsmith S John the Evangelist).

I had a real wallow when reading Clement XIII's Decree. The Trinity is described as Augustissima Trias. Authentic eighteenth century. Could a Pope have coined such words in any other period?

A phrase to die for.

22 September 2010

The epiclesis of the Roman Rite

Dear old Fortescue's The Mass records the long debates of liturgists a century ago about where the epiclesis of the Roman Rite originally was before it ... er ... "dropped out". Their assumption, of course, was that the epiclesis was original to Christian liturgy and that the Oriental rites which preserve it were more 'primitive' than the Roman Rite. Now, happily, we know better. We see the Oriental epiclesis as a comparatively late fad in the evolving liturgical tradition. Rather than seeking traces of a lost epiclesis in the Canon Romanus, we realise that the prayer Supplices te rogamus, in which we pray that our offerings be taken to the Heavenly Altar, represents an earlier and lovelier expression of the linkage between our offering and the eternal oblation of the Eternal Son at the Heavenly Altar. Patrimony liturgists such as E C Ratcliffe played a large role here, not to mention Dom Gregory.

There has been an unfortunate fashion among Anglican Committees, not only for inserting epicleses (they have even plopped the Holy spirit into Dr Cranmer's Consecration Prayer), but also for putting them after the Institution Narrative. This is partly due to the rather naive idea that it is terribly Sophisticated to avoid the notion of a Moment of Consecration*, and partly to the dislike among the resurgent Evangelical Party for any idea at all of Consecration (expressed also in rubrical provisions for the celebrant, if he realises he is running short of consecrated Elements, simply to add some more hosts to the ciborium without saying anything). Evangelicals, who have historically claimed to be 'confessional' Anglicans committed to the formulae of the Church of England, apparently forget these principles when it comes to those deft and significant changes introduced into Cranmer's rite in 1662 to restore both the terminology and the logic of Consecration.

We know, moreover, that the 1960s Roman Catholic Reformers were simplistic and orientalising in their insistence upon creating, in their new Eucharistic Prayers, epicleses of the Holy Spirit. But the ethos of the Western liturgy reminds us that the Holy Spirit should be invoked: by the celebrant and his ministers. The Praeparatio ad Missam contains no fewer than seven collects invoking the Holy Spirit. One of them, which featured also in the Sarum Rite among the vesting Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, is the collect Deus cui omne cor patet [Sarumists in the Adur Valley will probably remind us that it was preceded by the entire Veni Creator; a lovely way of recalling one's ordination before offering the Holy Sacrifice], which survived into Dr Cranmer's rite as Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open ...

That's our tradition.


*The assumption is that regarding a dozen words as consecratory is mechanistic if not superstitious; seeing 938 words as consecratory is enlightened and unproblematic.

14 September 2010

Hoops and Fireworks

As the anniversary comes round today of the Holy Father's initiative, Summorum pontificum, one recalls that bishops have the option, after three years, to make comments about 'problems' which have arisen. It will be interesting to see what attempts are made to bully the Pope. These occasions remind us that the Roman Catholic hierarchy worldwide is a very varied body. Its range stretches all the way from those bishops who have themselves made enthusiastic use of the newly clarified legal status of the preconciliar rite; and those whose entire pastoral energies appear to have been spent dreaming up ingenious hoops through which to force any priest courageous enough to wish to do something which the Church's supreme legislator has stated he is free to do without hindrance.

Similar questions may arise with regard to that other example of Benedictine courage: Anglicanorum coetibus. Here again, those trained in the traditional art of hoop-making may have been enabled to deploy their ancient skills. Will Ordinariates be given, as their Ordinaries, men who have suffered alongside their fellow Anglicans for the last fifteen years; who know them and know their anxieties and their hopes; who already have the experience of pastoring them; or will somebody be parachuted in who left our faith-community fifteen years ago and has been 'clubbed' by a native Roman Catholic hierarchy and its ethos? If the latter, this will give a fair indication of who has 'won' in the competition to bend the ear of Cardinal Levada. And if the local hierarchies prove indeed to have won this personal game, that victory will almost certainly be matched by an institutional triumph: the issuing of Norms for particular Ordinariates which provide very adequately for the provision of hoops. Back in the early nineties, the English RC hierarchy was deeply practised in discouraging ('discerning', as it is technically known) Anglican clerical enquirers. ("What are the English Bishops so frightened of?" as somebody once put it.) It will be illuminating to see how its attitudes have changed, this time round.

But, even looking at it from the most pessimistic stance, something will most surely have been gained. Hostile hierarchies, unsympathetic towards the Holy Father's vision of a renewed Church, may indeed demonstrate their capacity to ensure that the Ordinariates, or some of them, have small, slow, and halting starts. But what will count will be what future generations make of them. The Gospels give us the Parable of the Mustard Seed; perhaps Divine Grace will supply a pendant narrative, the Parable of the Fireworks: about how the dampest of unwanted squibs became the most coruscating pyrotechnic ever discerned in the sky.

13 September 2010

Jalland again

The 1942 Bampton Lectures of my distinguished predecessor at S Thomas's, Dr Trevor jalland, are a tour de force demonstrating his sure-footed competence in discussing the relationship of Papacy to Church in every succeeding Christian era, from a decidedly favourable verdict ought to be given regarding not only the Petrine texts, but also the tradition of the Apostle's residence and death in Rome down to That the Roman episcopi, whether in plurality or as successive holders of a single office, were held to be and were in fact the heirs of the authority of St Peter and of his co-Apostle St Paul in the Roman See seems to be suggested, if not guaranteed, even by such limited evidence as we still possess, though it is equally clear that reflexion on the real implications of the original data was needed before their full significance was generally appreciated. The value of the papal office as the primary centre of unity, as the highest court of appeal, as a custodian of order and a corrector of aberrations from the original depositum fidei - all this and much more emerges ... only when the Church becomes aware of itself in a fuller sense as a world-wide organisatiom, and when a local and 'parochial' consciousness gives place to an oecumenical outlook. This papal ideal, in spite of the occasional distortion and falsification which it has undergone in the course of its long history, is to be viewed in its perfection not as an instrument for the suppression of liberty, but as a means under providence for the safeguarding of the ordered freedom of the 'sons of God' ... it is a strange form of historical blindness which is unable to perceive in its long and remarkable history a supernatural grandeur which no merely secular institution has ever attained in equal measure. Its strange, almost mystical, faithfulness to type, its marked degree of changelessness, its steadfast clinging to tradition and precedent, above all its burning zeal for order and Justitia, compel us to acknowledge that the Papacy must always defy a categorisation which is purely of this world.

12 September 2010

Jalland continues

"I direct and appoint ... that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached ... to confute all heretics and schismatics ... upon the authority of the writings of the primitive fathers ...". So directed the Revd John Bampton, sometime Canon of Salisbury, when he founded his series of lectures to be given in every alternate year. Jalland, in the Preface to his 1942 Bampton lectures, expresses "his very deep gratitude" to the friends who have helped him: Nipper Williams (who served at S Thomas's); Leslie Cross; Tom Parker; Eric Kemp; Gregory Dix ... all of them names to conjure with.

On the morning of Monday, July 18, 1870, as the early glow of dawn was slowly spreading across the sky of North Italy, an express train which had left Rome at half past seven o'clock the previous evening, was clanking on its way across the plains of Lombardy. For some weeks past the stifling heat of summer in the papal capital had been quite unbearable, and as the train neared the frontier of Piedmont, the fresh wind blowing down from the mountains must have reached the weary travellers like a breath of new life. Awakened by the glimmering daylight and the cool of dawn, Monsignor Felix Dupanloup, bishop of Orleans, felt in the pocket of his douillette and drew out his breviary. As he turned over its pages to find his places for the current feast of St Camillus of Lellis, his companion, Monsignor Louis Haynald, archbishop of the metropolitan see of Kalocsa, in Hungary, who was occupying the opposite corner of the compartment, leaned forward in the direction of his fellow-bishop. 'Monseigneur', he said, 'nous avons fait une grande faute'. The bishop of Orleans looked up, paused for a moment, and then, gently raising his hand, showed that he had already begun the recitation of his Office.

In my view, that is one of the all-time great beginnings to a book, fit to stand beside anything in the corpus of the divine Jane, and more striking than the haunted Cornish house at Mandalay. How Jalland completed his Bampton lectures, I may reveal another day.

11 September 2010

Dr 'Patrimony' Jalland

Inadequates; wet indequates, we are. Speak for yourself, I hear you say? Very well, I will. How can I compare myself with my distinguished predecessor, Fr Trevor Gervase Jalland? According to Oral Tradition, one Good Friday, at the Mass of the Presanctified (ah, those were the days), some unfortunate Altar boy presented himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. His Parish Priest brushed him aside with such decision that the child keeled over ... ah, those were the days. Jalland (Vicar 1933-1947) went on to found the Theology Faculty at Exeter University; he came back to S Thomas's to be buried, the Funeral Mass being said by the veteran and erudite (he's still going strong in his nineties) Prebendary Michael Moreton of Exeter (who was writing about the importance of versus Orientem decades before the papists rediscovered it). Fr Michael risked raised eyebrows at Jalland's very Establishment funeral by using the Canon Romanus. "Jalland was a Patristics scholar and I resolved that he should have a Patristic Eucharistic Prayer".

According to the same Oral Tradition, Fr Sweeney (Vicar 1979-2003, now enjoying his retirement), was not much less resolute. I have been told that he would kick an ill-placed Sacred Minister and, dissatisfied during Mass with the Music (he is a distinguished musician), would clap his hands and berate the organ loft ... you see what I mean about my own inadequacy and wetness?

Jalland had few qualms about facing lesser men down. He was at the heart of the process of liturgical revision in the Church of England back in the 1960s, fighting the battle for an oblatio in the anamnesis. Ultimately, this battle was lost; bigots, evangelical, in General Synod were able to vote down the proposed "We offer thee this bread and this cup". But most notorious of his audacities was Jalland's response to being asked, in 1942, to preach the Bampton Lectures in this University. This is probably the most prestigious series of lectures upon a theological topic in the Church of England ... and Jalland chose to devote his eight lectures to The Church and the Papacy. This was a time when Dom Gregory Dix had demonstrated the congruity of the Vatican I decrees on papal primacy and infallibility with the praxis of the anti-Nicene centuries; but Dix's audience tended to be mainly his fellow Anglican Catholics. Jalland's hearers would be Anglican theological specialists of every doctrinal school.


10 September 2010

Organic problems

Oh dear! At vast expense, we are having our church organ cleaned and serviced. And now the craftsmen doing it have discovered that ... 56, I think it was ... little thingummies ... I forget the technical name ... will have to be replaced; and this will cost us at least a thou' more. Apparently, these delicate little pieces of wood have to have bits of sheepskin cut up and attached to them, and S Thomas's has a major Perished Sheepskin Problem. Happily, they have a sheepskin to cut up and use, so there won't be too horrendous a delay before the organ is back in use, but what am I to say when the bill arrives?

Perhaps it would help if I could supply them with a replacement sheepskin. Those lambs that provide the wool for pallia ... I seem to recall that the nuns concerned eat them for their Easter lunches ... I wonder what they do with the skins?

8 September 2010

Anglicanorum Coetibus

The Latin text of AC (thanks, Joshua) has one or two points of interest; I suspect that there is clearly at least one place at which a deliberate alteration has been made in the sense of the provisional English text. The phrase "the Anglican Communion" has disappeared, to be replaced by the word "Anglicanismum". I suspect that this might have something to do with accomodating the Continuum: Anglican groups which might not technically be categorised as part of the Anglican Communion as recognised by Canterbury.

Felicitously, the English phase that disunity "wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists" is replaced by the statement that it "gravely wounds the mystery of the Church". This raises it to a more theological level, yes? And eliminates woffle.

"In a corporate manner" is replaced by the adverb "glomeratim", which means "in a ball, in a mass". This distinctly suggests a mass movement. It cannot bear the meaning that each individual seeking admission must belong to a local group; it clearly indicates that the Holy Father discerns a mass movement towards unity, and that this is what he is providing for. This is important. There is, for example, manifestly no ground in AC for limitations in the number of Anglican clergy who can be admitted to the presbyterates of Ordinariates. VI (1) says that the Ordinary can accept Anglican deacons, priests, and bishops who enjoy the qualities demanded by Canons 1026-1032. None of these canons, as far as I can see, gives any grounds for thinking that a priest who "doesn't have a group" should not be allowed to enter into the presbyterate of the Latin Church by means of the Ordinariate structures.

This is very important. It is necessary that the Ordinariates should have a large number of available clergy. Those who have served in the parochial ministry of any major denomination know the importance of a large pool of clergy - mostly retired - to oil the wheels. A pastor may need to go on holiday ... or go to a Deanery meeting ... or go on retreat ... or go and preach somewhere else ... . And solemn liturgy traditionally requires three sacred ministers; and solemn liturgy is something to which the Patrimony is very attached. Ordinariate groups may be small, but it would still be very difficult to pastor them on one priest and a retired priest (not least because retired clergy can also have commitments). The nearest Ordinariate group could be a hundred miles away; its clergy might not find it terribly convenient to travel such distances in order to cover my 12.30 Low Mass on Friday and Wednesday. And if I have to be away on a Sunday, and the local RC priest is already having to trinate in order to serve the churches in his care, he might not be terribly enthusiastic when I phone him up to ask if he can cram another Mass in for an Ordinariate group. It is clear that Ordinariates may not be able to pay a large number of clergy, and I certainly do not suggest that the local RC hierarchy should have to unearth money to do so; but it would be very wrong if extremely experienced clergy, retired and living on their C of E pensions, and desirous of exercising their priesthood in Full Communion, were, in effect, told that they could only enter Ordinariates in the lay state. Don't forget that retirement in the Church of England tends to happen much earlier than in the RC Church. Are droves of healthy active priests in their sixties really to be declared clerically redundant under the Ordinariate system? Are we sure that this is what the Holy Father has in mind?

And, if all one hears about the age profile of the Roman Catholic clergy in some places is true, you would have thought that Roman Catholic clergy themselves would distinctly welcome the advent of a large new pool of clergy whom they can "try" for occasional - or, indeed, more than occasional - duty. Being incardinated into an Ordinariate does not mean that one can't be lent. In the Good Old Days of the Irish Church, it lent clergy in shiploads to dioceses all over the world. To this day, there are probably many more Irish clergy working outside than there are inside Ireland. There is no reason why Ordinariates could not make a modest, and enthusiastic, contribution to staffing in the dioceses.

5 September 2010

Sabine Baring Gould

A learned firend of mine is editing some unpublished manuscripts of the Devon squarson Sabine Baring Gould. In one place, refence is made to Suarez a Sancta Maria. Suarez we all know, but ...?

This Suarez wrote something which SBG is discussing, Conciones in Apocalypsim.

There is a phrase which appears to read "Gaudendo Christus de bonis suis acquisitis".

Help would be gratefully received.

Ratzinger's Infallibility (4)

It seems to me that the significantly beneficent actions of the Roman Magisterium in modern times were not the devotional show-piece definitions of 1854 and 1950, fun though that sort of thing undoubtedly is, but the actions of Pontiffs in resisting the intrusion into God's Assembly of distinctively modern and immensely corrosive mistakes. I look to the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX, and to Pascendi dominici gregis of Pius X. But in our own time I look particularly to Ordinatio sacerdotalis of John Paul II; a decision in which Ratzinger was intimately involved and which, in a CDF commentary, he characterised as being the teaching of the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium. And, in passing, I welcome enthusiastically the leg-up thus given to the concept of the Infallible Ordinary Magisterium. It is mechanistic and confusing to leave the word 'infallible' hovering only over such occasional, unusual, and highly specific papal incursions into doctrine as the Marian dogmas. Infallibility is essentially inherent in the whole paradosis of of the Church, protected by those given the charisma certum veritatis.

I advance three reasons for my opinion that the spotlight should not be left shining too exclusively upon events such as 1854 and 1950:
(1) The definition of the 'Marian Dogmas' was not essential to secure the authenticity and integrity of sacramental life of the Church, and to preserve the unity of the world-wide episcopate. It was not essential to secure the possibility of the ultimate normalisation of relations with the great patriarchates of Moskow and Constantinople and of the rest of the East. But Ordinatio sacerdotalis was. If Rome had not spoken with such assurance and decision, and if the expectation of the ordination of women had grown into a roll and the roll had become a reality, validity of Orders would have become uncertain, ruptures in the episcopate would have ensued, and (as reactions in the Patriarchate of Moskow to the question of the ordination of women have made clear) the breach between East and West would have become eternal and irrevocable.
(2) The call for the ordination of women is essentially but a symptom and symbol of a radical disorder in Western society about gender and sexuality. The line had to be drawn; and it had to be drawn here.
(3) Ordinatio sacerdotalis is essentially a negative action; it simply and tersely says what the Church does not have the facultas to do. In the good old conservative tradition of how, through two millennia, the Roman Church has functioned within the Catholica, it is an example of the action of (what Newman called) the remora; it shows the Roman Church behaving exactly as Dix described her behaviour in the second century. It is thus structurally precisely in line with the the concept of the Magisterium which, in these four posts, I have explored from an Anglican viewpoint.

At least for this Anglican Catholic, the 'papal dogmas', rightly understood, are not some pill hard to swallow but an expression of what the Newmans and the Dixes and the Jallands had discerned from their backgrounds in patristic erudition. That Rome now has a Bishop who sees his role in a way so congruent with our Anglican Catholic scholarship, should be a source of pride and satisfaction for us all. We can get some things right.

4 September 2010

Theophany at S Thomas's?

Has Dr Dawkins visited my poor little church? I ask this because somebody has put on one of our Notice Boards a sticker exactly in his style and abounding in precisely the ellipses in logic which so enliven his propaganda. I shall preserve it carefully as a Relic.

Ratzinger's Infallibility (3)

To guarantee the authenticity of the Tradition against innovation, the Ratzinger understanding of his office - this is dead in line with the Anglican Catholic patristic approach. Dom Gregory Dix can stand as an example:
"It is above all as the norm of Christian belief that Rome is the capital of Christendom in [the second century]. It is at Rome and only at Rome, that all doctrinal issues are then finally settled. This is clearly recognised by the non-Roman writers of the second century, from Ignatius of Antioch at its beginning to Tertullian at its close. The former can write to the Roman Church: 'Ye were the instructors of others. And my desire is that those lessons shall hold good which as teachers ye enjoin'. For the latter the Roman Church is the ecclesia authenticae regulae. To Rome comes every second century Christian teacher, intent on securing the approval of that Church for his teachings. To Rome comes Marcion, already under censure in other Churches; but until Rome has condemned him he is still a catholic Christian. It is at Rome that the controversies with the great Gnostic heresiarchs, which fill the latter half of the second century, were primarily thrashed out. It is at Rome that the answer to their claim to a secret tradition and a succession of teachers from the Apostles is elaborated; it is at Rome that the additions to the baptismal symbol which exclude their interpretations of the Gospel are first made; it is at Rome that the incompatibility of their Hellenistic presuppositions with the concrete thought of authentic Christianity is made plain, in a way that it was not plain even to great Churches like that of Alexandria for half a century afterwards. Above all, in the controversy over Montanus, about which we know more than any other in this period, Rome is obviously the centre and focus of the final issue, even though Montanus never left Asia and the Apostolic Churches of Asia were his chief opponents. It is at Rome that the Montanists, excommunicated in Asia, repeatedly seek the communion of the Church; at Rome that Praxeas intercedes against them; at Rome that the Church of Lyons seeks to mediate between them and their opponents; Tertullian the Montanist reserves his wrath, not for the Asian bishops who had excommunicated and sought to exorcise the new Prophets of the Paraclete, but for the Roman bishop whose refusal of communion had finally cut them off from the Church."


3 September 2010

Liturgical Problems

Tomorrow, Deo volente, I shall be at the Deaconing of James Bradley. Yes; the James Bradley; James 'The-Ubiquitous-Camera' Bradley.
How on earth will he make a full photographic record of his own Ordination? But he will.

Today, of course, that knotty annual problem: which of the Patrons to celebrate of those two admirable and not-totally-dissimilar organisations: The Ebbsfleet Apostolic District (Patron, S Gregorius Magnus); and the SSPX.

Memories of old Ireland

I just saw a Downs Syndrome bloke, alive, walking down Becket Street, right here in Oxford.

2 September 2010

Ratzinger's Infallibility (1)

Before his election as Bishop of Rome, the media had fixed on to Joseph Ratzinger a public image which went plain contrary to the facts: of an old style inquisitor who knawed his fingernails in his fury that he could no longer burn his enemies.

This never did fit the truth. During his stint at the CDF excommunications were few and far between, and he let it be known how irritated he was that local episcopates, despite their assertions of their own almost autonomous status, were curiously unwilling to discipline their own heretics, prefering to send a case to Rome so that they could then themselves play Mr Nice: "Terribly sorry, I'm your friend; but Rome has said ...". That sinister old reprobate Hans Kueng even retains his celebret. Has even been to tea (and has responded with renewed malevolence).

Since his election, Papa Ratzinger has shown no inclination - despite an erudition which even his enemies to not dispute - to dash off encyclicals putting everybody right on details of dogma and with a cheerful anathema ever at the ready. The media have been hugely perplexed by the Encyclicals that he has published; victims of their own propaganda, journalists are completely at a loss as to how to fit them in to the image of the man which they had themselves created. His admirers were as completely perplexed by his appointment of Cardinal Levada to his own old job at CDF. It quite simply occured to nobody that, after his own experiences, he wished to rescue that dikastery from the parodic misdescriptions which had in his time been attached to it.

What he has done has been to attempt to revitalise and retraditionalise the Church by teaching spirituality, by a brilliant series of catecheses on the Fathers and theologians of East and West, and by his liturgical example: in each case, mending the discontinuities which in the life de facto of the Western Church had cut us off from our roots. Frustrated of their desire to attack him as a persecuting bigot by his innate unwillingness to play that game, his enemies have naturally thanked whatever gods they worship for the gift of the pedophile scandal.

Long before he became Sovereign Pontiff, I was an avid reader and admirer of his books. For me, his election was rather like someone who always bets on the red suddenly getting a big win. I can honestly say that his exercise of his Pontificate has panned out just as I expected; although I did not foresee the eruption of the pedophile scandal threatening to derail his programmatics, and I expected him to get a new grip on episcopal appointments earlier than he did.


1 September 2010

Very unliturgical note

I have been reading, purely by chance, a couple of pieces in the Irish Times about the Cervical Cancer jabs. I wish to pose some questions at the very considerable risk ... nay rather, certainty ... of exposing my profound ignorance in such matters.

The jabs do not protect against cancer as such.
They protect against Human Papilloma Viruses, which might lead to cancer.
Of the fifteen or so known HPVs, the jab protects against 2.
With regard to those two, it provides 70% protection.

Have I got that right?

I never even did O-level Biology; so my understanding of Darwin/Dawkins Evolution is sketchy, to say the least. But ...
If the jab disadvantages two HPVs, does this not make it likely that those two may mutate and be replaced by improved forms which are resistant to the jab?
Since Nature abhors a vacuum, if those two HPVs were substantially eliminated, will their places not be taken by some among the other HPVs?
Does this not mean that there will be lots of young women going around who imagine that they have been protected agasinst cervical concer, but will be very much more vulnerable than they imagine?
Is it not probable that a sense of security among young women will lead to an increase in the cohort of acts which could cause an infection which might then lead to cancer?
Does all this mean that we are likely to see an exponential explosion in the numbers of cases of cervical cancer in, say, 7/10 years?