27 August 2014

Professor Beattie Rides Again


It's hard to say just how much we miss Deacon Nick's  Protect The Pope blog.  He left it in obedience to his Ordinary and it has been easy to infer that it had been causing disquiet and discomfort among what Damian Thompson, were he still blogging in the Telegraph, would have called the Magic Circle.  (Is there a pattern here?)

How important a loss Deacon Nick's blog is has become clear today.  Professor Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton University, a Catholic teacher licensed (surely, for some sense of the word "licensed") as an approved transmitter of Catholic teaching to young people, has published in The Guardian a piece dismissive of both the Pope and Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion.

Were Deacon Nick blogging, his reach would have ensured that the news of such an article was the main focus of Catholic online discussion, not just in England and Wales, but across the English speaking world.

But he isn't, so it's up to everybody reading this to give it the widest possible dissemination.  Let's make sure our Hierarchy knows what Professor Beattie thinks!
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09 August 2014

Saturday 9 August 1862

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9. Sat. Vigil. The Finding of St Stephen, Proto-Martyr, semidouble (3d); commemoration of Vigil and St Romanus, Martyr; last Gospel of Vigil. Red.

The Indulgence begins.

What does this mean? It's Saturday, and it is the Vigil of the Feast of St Laurence.  Today is the Feast of the Finding of St Stephen the Proto-Martyr, a semidouble, which is the last but one ranking of feasts: it has been transferred to today from last Sunday as it was outranked.  It is also the feast of St Romanus.  This means that there will be three collects, three secrets and three postcommunions.  As it the Vigil of a feast with an Octave occurring on the same day a a semidouble feast, the priest, instead of saying the Mass of the feast, with its collect, secret and postcommunion first, those of the Vigil second and those of St Romanus third, may be able to say the Mass of the Vigil, in which case the order will be the Vigil, St Romanus, and the Finding of St Stephen.  If he says the Mass of St Stephen, the last Gospel will be the Gospel of the Mass of the Vigil.  Whichever Mass is said, the priest wears red. 

The Indulgence of the Feast of the Assumption which will be celebrated on Friday begins after None today and lasts until None on 23 August: this means that at any time in this period, a plenary indulgence may be obtained by somebody who confesses to a priest appointed by their Ordinary; worthily receives Holy Communion; attends Mass and prays for the peace of God's Church: and assist the poor with alms, or assist the sick or those nearing their end, or to attend catechism or sermons as often as is reasonably possible during the period.  The works of corporal or spiritual mercy or the attendance at catechism or sermons do not need to take place on the same day as reception of Communion or assistance at Mass.  These conditions are the same for the Indulgences of Christmas, Easter and Michaelmas but are slightly different for the two Lenten Indulgences, or those of Whit, SS Peter and Paul, and All Saints.

The feast of St Laurence is a Day of Devotion: a day which was observed as a Holyday of Obligation before the Reformation.  The faithful are encouraged (but not obliged) to fast: this means only one meal, and two collations the sum of which cannot amount to as much as the meal.

Next year the calendar will be the same as that of 1863, including the same date for Easter and the other movable feasts.  Starting with the First Sunday in Advent this year, I aim to publish a weekly calendar showing what parish life was like in England and Wales, and including a parish entry from the Almanack showing what its week looked like.

GATESHEAD St Joseph. Rev Henry Wrennal. Sunday: Mass at 8 and 11; Baptisms and Churchings at 2¼ ; catechism at 3; evening service at 6½. On Holydays Mass at 8; evening service at 7½.  On WDs Mass at 7¾ and 8½.  Benediction on Sunday and Thursday evenings.  Stations on Friday at 7½ PM.  Baptisms and Churchings on Wednesday at 10.  Confessions every morning at 8, on Friday from 6 to 10 PM, and on Saturday from 5 to 10 PM.  Confraternity of St Vincent de Paul and Immaculate Heart of Mary for Conversion of Sinners, Living Rosary, Temperance Guild of Our Lady and St John the Baptist, Altar Society.

Two points: this is not in competition with the St Lawrence Press blog which imagines an Ordo for the current year as though the liturgical norms of the era of Pius XI were still in force, and looks at the whole of the Office, rather than my aim which is to look at the liturgical year from the point of view of a parishioner 150 years ago (so Vespers is the only office which will be noted separate from Mass).  As different as 1938 is from today is 1863 from 1939.

This leads to my second point: I hope and expect that as the year progresses my contention that the changes which separated the Church's calendar from its traditional resources aren't just the result of Vatican II, or Pius XII's restructuring of Holy Week, but arise from the ultramontanism which took root after Vatican I will be illustrated.  For example, the Second Sunday of Lent will fall on 1 March: this means that St David will be transferred to 3 March in England, though in Wales he will outrank the Sunday and will be celebrated on his day.  there is a baroque complexity which has grown over the centuries: cutting away any part of it inevitably led to more and more parts becoming cut or changed.

Finally, my aim is that this will be illustrative: I don't want to set up an SSPIX or a Wiseman Society (though I approve of the fact that His Eminence is "at home" to his clergy from 10.00 to 1.00 on Tuesdays for his clergy and from 10.00 to 1.00 on Thursdays and Saturdays for lay people, at least when he is in town); I just want to offer a flavour of what it was like to be a Catholic in England and Wales in 1863.


15 July 2014

Lucky Clifton Diocese!

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Imagine having too many priests in one diocese!

Look at Fr Bede Rowe's blog.
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14 July 2014

Another Straw In The Wind

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You know what it's like: no sooner do you see one odd thing but something just as odd pops up as if to confirm that the first wasn't something by itself.

Looking for something else in the third volume of George Orwell's Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, I came across something really odd in an As I Please dated 3 March 1944.  A reviewer had made some disparaging comments about St Teresa of Ávila and St Joseph Cupertino; a Catholic reader complained.  Orwell defended the reviewer, and his Catholic correspondent responded even more indignantly.  What is odd for the time, and what Orwell notes as odd, though I will draw different conclusions from his, is that the correspondent says that the fact that the two saints were reputed to have flown is irrelevant: what mattered, in the case of St Teresa, was that

"her vision of the world changed the course of history". 

Similarly

"The figure of Christ (myth, man, or god, it does not matter) so transcends all the rest that I only wish that everyone would look, before rejecting that vision of life".

Orwell cites Fathers Woodlock and Knox to point out the unorthodoxy of his correspondent's view, but goes on to say that

"what my correspondent says would be echoed by many Catholic intellectuals.  If you talk to a thoughtful Christian, catholic or Anglican, you often find yourself laughed at for being so ignorant as to suppose that anyone took the doctrines of the Church literally".

Orwell goes off in his own direction at this point, but I want simply to register surprise, not at the fact that this nonsense was being spouted by somebody calling herself a Catholic, but by the fact that she, and the others Orwell knew, were talking like this in 1944.  I had thought that this level of cynical heterodoxy—I want everybody to think I'm Catholic but you and I are far too intelligent to accept all the stuff that has to be peddled to the masses—is of much more recent appearance.

Two straws in the wind.  Two worms in the apple?
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13 July 2014

Straw In The Wind

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I managed to get hold of a first edition of O'Connell's Celebration of the Mass which he published in 1940.  It is interesting for all sorts of rubrical reasons but I must say that I was caught by the following (O'Connell is discussing Custom):

"On the other hand it is very difficult to establish a real custom contrary to liturgical law (as found in the rubrics and in general decrees of the SRC) because of the resistance of the Holy See, owing to its desire for uniformity in matters liturgical.  a) SRC in its decisions admits the force of custom only in minor matters and for particular cases (it seldom approves of a general usage contrary to the rubrics); b) each new typical edition of a liturgical book is prefaced by a decree approving its contents 'contrariis non obstantibus quibuscumque'; c) the volumes of the decrees of SRC are approved with a special decree containing the same clause; d) each new general, or equivalently general, decision of SRC has this clause also, and decrees of  special moment add the words 'etiam speciali mentione dignis'.

Decisions of SRC which oppose existing usages at once abolish these - and this even if they are immemorial - for they prevent the consent of the legislator which alone can change a usage into a custom."
Now, there is a lot about the SRC not worrying too much about minor things: the use of a wooden stand instead of a cushion to support the Missal during Mass, for example; but we can establish from this that in 1940 the author of the manual which would become the standard for priests in at least England and Wales took as read that Rome wanted uniformity in matters liturgical and felt that it had the power to abolish anything contrary to any decision it took in this regard, no matter that the custom might predate Pius V.

This is not Bugnini's fault: at the time O'Connell was writing this Fr Bugnini was a curate only four years ordained and still not marked out for liturgical study. 

This is yet another example of the fact that the worm had got into the apple before Pius XII became Pope.  It is saying that the Pope can make any change he likes to the liturgical books simply because he is the supreme legislator, and that an appeal to custom cannot bind his hands.

These are deep waters.
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10 July 2014

Two More Post-Reformation English Chantries

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Both in one Church!

It turns out there were two Chantries in St George's Cathedral in Southwark where, in 1863 at least, Mass was offered daily for the repose of the souls of the Hon Edward Petre and John Knill Esq respectively.



Knill Chantry
Petre Chantry

We've already had the Vaughan Chantry at Westminster Cathedral, for which Masses on at least 260 days per year had been funded before the First World War.

Are there any more?

08 July 2014

Something For The Tolkienites

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If Pius XII was Théoden, then who was his Gríma?

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04 July 2014

On Not Blogging

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For the record, and in answer to Fr Ray's Where Have All The Bloggers Gone, the two reasons I have blogged but little lately are because of extensive travel for work, and a filling of my time with teaching myself how to become a rubrician, a rubrician of a stern and pre-Pius X variety.  It is much more fun than blogging.

I haven't blogged for quite a while on Pope Francis and frankly, I am unlikely to do so, because I really don't understand what he is trying to do to the Church.  I'm not naïve enough to say: I don't understand the Pope, but he's the Pope, and therefore it's my fault I don't understand him: it most certainly isn't.  But given that we have no, or at least little, context for most contentious decisions he is making (I hold the FFI very close to my heart and prayers), I have decided that insofar as he is involved in some of the bizarre things coming out of Rome, he is beating his own path, and nothing I say, frankly, will add or subtract an iota from the significance of what is going on, or on his responsibility for what transpires, especially in respect of where the path he beats leads us.

I tweet, of course, and while some tweeters seem to think that in 140 characters it is only possible to be rude, many of the rest of us have found that it is possible to be completely civil: we even use Twitter to recite the Angelus in (fairly limited but nevertheless existing) community.

We found that the Hierarchy in England and Wales have managed to put "Catholic Blogging" into a box marked "To be ignored", and I reckon most of us aren't too worried: we blog for each other.  I will just say, though, that the day the Hierarchy turns to us and asks us to open the tap on their behalf, they'll find out that they reset our relationship when they decided to ignore us.  If they say we don't matter now, we won't be turnable-on when they decide that we may well matter.

But, odd hiccoughs aside, we will all continue to blog as it pleases us: we are the people of England who are always speaking and worthy of being smiled at, passed and forgotten: "Nothing matters very much; very little matters at all" those who look at us will say.  But they are wrong, because at the heart of what we care about is the one thing that does matter, and the great calamity, it seems to me, is that we blog about the one thing that matters because we aren't getting our fill of it elsewhere, and nobody seems to care, except us.
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07 June 2014

The Vigil Of Pentecost

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If you want to get a good idea of what has been lost, look at the entry here on the St Lawrence Press blog which goes through what the Vigil of Pentecost used to consist of.  You will see how it echoes the Easter Vigil, not least in the way in which they stress Baptism.

It is important to stress that the loss of this celebration has nothing to do with Pope John's Missal or with Vatican II: it was suppressed by Pius XII at the same time as the reordered the ceremonies of Holy Week.  Not only was the shape and direction of Holy Week changed, but Pentecost was reduced.

As I mentioned recently, it is clear that the change movement was active a lot earlier than I had realised.  Another throwaway line in the 1939 hand Missal comes after a reminder that the Vigil originally took place at night: "It is this which must be kept in mind in order to understand all the offices this morning".  Well, no, actually.

This sort of archaeologism is wrong for two reasons: first, because it supposes that up to 1955 nobody except for a tiny handful of scholars actually understood what was going on; second, because it is so selective.  When Pius XII reordered Holy Week, I bet it never entered his head or his advisers' that perhaps he should, for example, reintroduce the fasting practices which characterised Holy Week in the fourth century and which shaped the liturgical experience for those who observed the original late evening and night time vigil.  (Actually, it's wrong for lots more reasons, but these are the two I want to stress here.)

Why had the Ester Vigil ended up being celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, while the Vigil of Pentecost took place after None, ie in the afternoon or early evening of Whitsun eve?  I don't know the answer, but it demonstrates that the organic development of the liturgy does not depend on a fiat from a Vatican liturgical expert which would aim, as we came to see in Bugnini's day, at flat standardisation, but on gradual changes arising from the nature and importance of a particular part of the celebration of the liturgy.

By the time the major revisions to the liturgy which culminated in the 1967 Novus Ordo were being studied, the abolition of even the Octave of Pentecost went through pretty well on the nod.  Why such an important feast was so downgraded is something I don't understand at all.
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01 June 2014

Since When Was There Only One Right Way To Attend Mass?

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I had thought that the push towards uniform congregational practice at Mass was a fruit of the latter years of Pope Pius XII, in parallel with the start of the serious reordering of the Liturgy.  Read this, for example:

Method of Hearing Mass Well.

The Mass. says Père Lacordaire, is an act too sublime and holy for us to occupy ourselves with anything other than what the priest says and does. It is not the time for pious reading or private devotions. These latter cut us off from the priest, and keep the mind away from the end and object of the Holy Sacrifice.

The Mass is more than an ordinary prayer. It is a sacrifice, that is to say, a social act accomplished by the priest in the name of a body of people of whom he is the interpreter and representative. The offering is made in the name of all those who are assisting. They should therefore associate themselves with it. Several times the priest reminds them of this:  at the Orate fratres, when he says "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty"; at the Memento of the Living: "Be mindful of Thy servants, for whom we offer, or who offer this sacrifice to Thee". Likewise we find in the greater part of the prayers it is the plural and not the singular person which is used. The priest does not in fact say "I pray" or "I beseech" but "we pray" and "we beseech" ( quaesumus, petimus, rogamus ).

To participate in a real way in the Holy Sacrifice, the faithful should not be present simply as spectators, indifferent or distracted, but they should unite their intention with that of the priest who is offering.

The simplest and most commendable method which will be facilitated by the explanations contained in this Roman Missal, consists in associating oneself with the liturgical rites, prayers and chant of the, Mass.

The faithful follow in their Missals, at the same time as the priest at the altar is saying, the prayers of the Ordinary of the Mass, and those which are proper to the office of the day. These latter are the Introit, Collects, Epistle, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Preface, Communion and Postcommunion. These are the ancient liturgical prayers, so beautiful and expressive, and in every way incomparably superior to the modern productions that they must assuredly be preferred to any of them. There is no necessity, however, to pay such close attention to one's book that one would scruple to raise one’s eyes to watch the movements of the celebrant at the altar; the faithful who would so act would create a sort of breach between themselves and the priest who offers the sacrifice in their names; they would be reading their Mass, but not following it.

It is much to be desired that all the faithful wherever possible should join in the singing of the chant of the Church, being careful to avoid such faults as are liable to be committed when numbers are singing together, as for instance singing loudly or drawling the melody. The singing of hymns is permitted at Low Masses but forbidden at High Masses. The Church demands that these hymns should be as much as possible in keeping with the sacrifice and the feast of the day. The Church does not approve of there being singing without a break, and forbids any voice to be raised during the most solemn part of the Mass, namely, at the Consecration.
 
The two characteristics of the reformers attitude to lay participation at Mass were, first, that nobody should pray anything other than the Mass: the ordinary and the propers of the particular Mass being celebrated; and second, that they should do so in unison.
 
The surprise to me is that this is written in a layman's hand missal which received its Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in 1938, which means that the seeds which would grow into the crop which the reformers would reap were planted a lot earlier than I had realised.
 
There is another clue that the changes were being realised much earlier: in hand missals of the nineteenth century, there are extensive instructions to allow somebody attending Mass to work out what the propers for any day will be, and in the period before Pius X began the 20th Century's deep changes to the Calendar, working this out was complicated: not impossible for the average person-that's why the instructions were printed at the start of the missal; but complicated.
 
By the time of the 1938 Missal, laypeople are told that the rubrics are far too complicated to explain and that every Catholic should obtain a copy of the diocesan almanac for the year to find out what feasts were being celebrated. This is the first step on a path which would leak to clerical ownership of the calendar and sacred time and, consequently, the right to change it.
 
You would only need to be sixty to have been alive when today was the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension; many young people today will not remember a time when the Ascension wasn't celebrated on a Sunday. I know which I prefer.
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31 May 2014

World Communications Day - What You'll Be Giving To

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Tomorrow, in England and Wales at least, we mark World Communications Day and there will be a second collection for the Catholic Communications Network which serves the Bishops' Conference.


Ascension Sunday ... Ascension Sunday!  The media office for the Catholic Church in England and Wales thinks that tomorrow is Ascension Sunday!

The barbarians aren't just within the gates: the barbarians have seized control of the printing presses and have worked out how to use them.

If the CBCEW really doesn't understand how appallingly awful this is, we are in for interesting times indeed.
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26 May 2014

Communion And The Remarried: We Have Been Here Before (Pt 2)

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Dicebamus hesterna die that Cardinal Hume and Archbishop Worlock were facing a new threat.  I have written before about the ecclesial polity they had devised for the Church in England and Wales: a collegial House of Bishops Bishops' Conference, with the Cardinal, of course, as Archbishop of Westminster, as perpetual Head, and a House of Laity nexus of lay people, bound to the progressive world view of Hume and Worlock.  There was no room for a House of Clergy powerful voice for diocesan clergy: given that for most of the laity, most of the time, a Bishop was someone seen every two or three years when he came round for confirmations, the diocesan priest tended to be the bridge between the average lay person and the Pope, who, in the excitement first of the Year of the Three Popes and then of the election of a young, dynamic, Polish Pope, had become a fixture on the nation's TV screens. This was not to be encouraged. The clergy was to be marginalised, in the same way as the more reluctant Bishops would be marginalised, though the clergy would be marginalised in the name of rejecting clericalism, where Bishop Holland would be dismissed as a mere reactionary.

The plan called for what Clifford Longley described as the sentimentalisation of the Papacy for the lumpencatholic masses while the project, dear to the editors of the Catholic press who were part of the nexus of lay people, could be established and take root without anything ruffling the surface, and forcing the Vatican to take note.  The Papal Visit to England in 1982 was to cement this new view: the laity would turn out, and the Hierarchy would take the credit for being good pastors.  But things became urgent, for while Hume and Worlock were at the 1980 Rome Synod they had begun to realise just how hard the Vatican was cracking down on some of the dissenting hierarchies (such as in The Netherlands or Switzerland), and they needed to ensure that the focus of the Roman dicasteries did not turn towards England and Wales.

Unfortunately, the priests hadn't yet been told that they weren't part of the plan.  In the seventies, and particularly in the lead up to the Liverpool National Pastoral Congress, the National Conference of Priests had been an active and vocal participant in charting the new direction of the Church.  They had noted that The Easter People, the Bishops' response to the final report of the Congress, had watered down some of its recommendations.  So, on the return of the Cardinal and the Archbishop from the Synod in Rome, the Committee of the NCP asked to meet them.  They did, and the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference wrote a note of the meeting to be circulated to the Bishops.

The note shows first, just how much Hume and Worlock feared that Rome might intervene in England and Wales, and second, just how much they felt they needed to control the agenda.  Hume and Worlock were shown a copy of the note just before it was sent to the Bishops, at which point, to use an inappropriate secular expression, all hell broke loose.


REPORT OF MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF PRIESTS

Present: The Cardinal and Archbishop Worlock, Frs R. Spence, J. Carter, Mgr J. Buckley, Frs J. Breen and D. Forrester. Mgr D. Norris (Secretary).

A. Declaration from NCP

(1) General

The Declaration accepted wholeheartedly the findings of the National Pastoral Congress and welcomed the bishops' message The Easter People. However, the National Conference had some problems with the bishops’ message for they felt that the bishops had moved away from some of the resolutions of the Congress. The bishops appeared to give up their right as a local Church and to be too willing to give way to the Roman Curia.

The Cardinal replied that he considered that conservatism was succeeding in many parts of the world and was also rising in Rome. We had to remember that western Europe was now a minority in the church and places like Africa and South America were very conservative. Our local church has to find its way in the present circumstances and it is not always clear how it should proceed.

The Cardinal was sure that it would not help to have public calls on our bishops to act by themselves. There were some conservatives in this country who were already attacking what had already been done by himself and Archbishop Worlock.

The Archbishop was more optimistic - he compared the Synod with the last council - then the minority had proposed renewal and had managed to become the majority by the end of the council. Now there had been a change during the four weeks of the synod, though perhaps not a full acceptance of the minority view. The pope, too, had attended all the plenary sessions and had made no attempt to interfere with the freedom of those taking part. In his closing speech, the Pope had not closed the door and had in fact welcomed the propositions. Nor had he rejected the famous law of gradualness; what he had condemned was a graded law.


(The law of gradualness meant that people who were not complying with the Church’s teaching but who were of good will could eventually be brought towards compliance with the rules by catechesis, prayer and example.  A ‘graded law’ meant that there were people who would never comply with the teaching of the Church but could be allowed to settle for less.  This latter sounds familiar.)

When Hume and Worlock saw the draft they determined immediately that it must be suppressed: not just the front page, copied here, but the entire document even though the rest was uncontentious.  If it got to the Bishops, it would get to Rome, and if it got to Rome, then Rome might want to look more closely at what was going on.
 
(It is worth noting too that Mgr Norris' minute is probably a lot more temperate than what was actually said: notes of meetings usually reflect light rather than heat.)
 
Worlock wrote to Norris on receipt of the draft:
 
I hope you will understand when I say that I think it would be disastrous if this report were circulated to the Bishops. Indeed I must confess I am most unhappy about the whole of the first page and I doubt very much whether the cardinal would want his remarks reported. The reference to the attacks upon himself and myself could throw our meeting of the Conference later this month into all kinds of chaos ...
 
He copied his letter to Norris to the Cardinal, with a covering note:
 
I enclose a copy of a letter I have written to David Norris on the subject of his report of the meeting with the standing committee of the NCP. I think the report would be disastrous if it goes to the NCP. It would be even more disastrous if it is sent out with the papers for the Bishops' meeting. It will probably be best if I prepare a single sheet.
 
To which the Cardinal replied:
 
I am in full agreement with what you say about the report concerning the NCP.
 
So the report was suppressed.
 
The final part of the jigsaw, the Pope's visit, was played well: the English Hierarchy convinced the Vatican that it should play a major role in drafting the Pope's public statements if he were not to trample all over national, ecumenical and historical sensitivities.  In truth, they didn't want a visit of a Pope who would focus on issues like contraception and abortion, but curial diplomats, aware of the importance and sensitivity of this visit, simply accepted the offer of help at face value, and the visit was a tremendous success, the Pope saying what the CBCEW wanted the laity to hear.
 
Anybody who has been paying attention will have noted an interesting line in the note of the NCP meeting: "the Bishops appeared to give up their right as a local Church and to be too willing to give way to the Roman Curia".  The ultimate end of the plans adopted by Hume and Worlock aimed at turning the Church in England and Wales into a semi-detached federal unit of the Catholic Church: like one of the Greek Catholic Churches though less insistent on orthodoxy or loyalty to the Pope.  It would be hard to argue that over 30 years later, things were on a better course.
 
There is one footnote which doesn't reflect fantastically well on anyone, but which is a moment to raise the heart slightly at the end of such a depressing story.  During the Papal visit it was agreed that there would be one day in the North West of England with one Mass.  The Mass would be at Heaton Park in North Manchester, in the diocese of Salford, so there would be no Mass in Liverpool, which the Pope would visit after Manchester.  It was common knowledge at the time that Archbishop Worlock had informed Bishop Holland that, as Metropolitan, he would be the principal co-concelebrant with the Pope.  Bishop Holland, who had won a DSC as a naval chaplain during the Normandy Campaign, Bishop Holland who was privy to what Hume and Worlock were trying to do, Bishop Holland who would confound his successor, Bishop Kelly, by receiving Chief Constable James Anderton into the Church behind Kelly's back and against his wishes, was having none of it.  "Bugger off!" he said to Worlock.
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25 May 2014

Communion And The Remarried: We Have Been Here Before (Pt 1)

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I have written extensively about the National Pastoral Congress which took place in Liverpool in 1980, and which, in my opinion, led the Church in England and Wales in the wrong direction.  What happened next is equally depressing.  Cardinal Hume told later how he and Archbishop Worlock had visited Pope John Paul II in Rome and had handed him a copy of the Conference's report, The Easter People, provocatively open at the section on birth control, and drew his attention to that page.  The Pope dismissively waved it aside.

Clifford Longley describes Archbishop Worlock's retelling of this story:

Worlock tended to follow Heenan's custom of sentimentalizing the papacy for public consumption, always giving the impression that everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Thus in a speech on the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in Croydon in 1982, he does not repeat Hume's account of them visiting the Pope to hand over a copy of The Easter People, deliberately drawing the section on contraception to the Pope's attention and seeing him wave it aside dismissively. Instead: 'With Cardinal Basil Hume I flew to Rome and we handed the first copy to Peter’s successor, John Paul II, the symbol of unity. To him we said: "Here is our church in England and Wales. Now will you come to visit us?"' etc.

Nevertheless, Hume and Worlock went to the subsequent Synod of Bishops which took place in Rome in 1980 empowered, as they felt, by having been requested by the Congress to deliver a particular message, one which the Bishops' Conference had endorsed.

It was clear that the election of John Paul II had changed the mood (or had been a reflection of the change of mood) of the Church.  The high tide of the Spirit of Vatican II at the heart of the Church was receding, and it was already much less likely that the direction the leaders of the Church in E&W wanted to follow would be the direction the Synod would discern as correct. 

Archbishop Worlock nevertheless spoke to the Synod in terms that would seem familiar (and just as wrong) today:

Personal factors increasingly today include the desire for genuine interpersonal communication and relationships in marriage and in the family, the ability of couples to control fertility, and the changed status of women, and therefore also of men, in society and the family.

External, or social, factors which endanger the family today are frequently cited as including a spirit of materialism, hedonism and other secular values. It would, however, be more accurate, and perhaps more just to many Christian couples, to point also to lack of adequate housing, poverty, unemployment and enforced leisure arising for many from economic recession or from the micro-electronic revolution. These social factors are the more damaging to families insofar as they condemn them to living conditions which are unworthy of their dignity, increase the pressures on the family from within, and prevent it from giving positive Christian witness to love, fidelity and security, and from resisting materialistic values ...

But the church cannot turn a blind eye to the many family tragedies which are increasing in society, and no less in the Church itself.  To these victims of misfortune, not necessarily of personal sin, or of sin which has not been forgiven, the church, both universal and local, must have a special healing mission of consolation. Nor can the church neglect those Catholics whose first marriage has perished and who now find themselves in a second more stable and perhaps more mature union which might have many of the desirable qualities of the Christian family. Many acknowledge that their union is irregular in the eyes of the Church, and yet nevertheless feel, even if inarticulately, that they are not living in a state of sin, that they love God and may in some mysterious way be living according to his will, even if against, or outside,  the Church's legislation. The number of such members of the Church is growing daily, and very many long for full Eucharistic communion with the Church and its Lord.

As is well known, many pastors, and many theologians are of the view that such Catholics may be admitted to Holy Communion, under certain conditions, notwithstanding the danger of scandal, namely that other Catholics, either about to marry or living in a weakened marriage, may disregard the Church’s teaching on the fidelity and indissolubility of Christian marriage, with ruinous results. But what is most interesting and calling for close consideration, is that many married laity, moved by pastoral compassion, are of the same opinion, and do not fear that Christian marriage will be destroyed by such a practice. They seem to consider that fidelity and indissolubility are human and Christian values on their own account, and do not derive their force from being regarded as necessary dispositions for receiving Holy Communion. In this, as in every other aspect of marriage and the family, it would be desirable to listen to the voice, experience and Christian wisdom of married couples themselves.
It is breathtaking to hear such sophistry from a Bishop: the range of economic reasons for remarriage, the seeming fact that if people discern that "living in sin" they are possibly living God's will, and the fact that some married lay people wouldn't mind if these remarried people received Communion: it is as shocking to read these words 34 years later as it is to read Cardinal Kasper's today.

He got nowhere of course, though it amusing that the arch-fixer of the CBCEW was so out-fixed by Synod officials in the drafting of its recommendations to the Pope that he complained, but was ruled out of order.  He and Cardinal Hume had become exposed, and two Bishops, Lindsay of Hexham and Newcastle and Holland of Salford, complained in an article in The Universe that Hume and Worlock appeared to have departed from the line agreed by the Bishops' Conference.  And another threat was appearing from the other side ...

But that will have to wait for Part 2.
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24 May 2014

The Calendar And Our Identity

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One lost feast, and two feasts tragically reduced in significance show how we have ruptured our relationship with the past, how the changes pre-Vatican II paved the way for what was to follow. 

Today should have been the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, a feast of thanksgiving, instituted by Pius VII in 1815 to commemorate the end of the Popes' exile from Rome because of the French Revolution.  As an annual reminder of the threat to Christian religion from the powers of secularism, it should have been raised in importance rather than abolished!

Monday should be the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury.  Before Pius X, this feast was a double of the first class in England, as important a feast as could be with its own octave.  This commemorated the fact that St Augustine was the Apostle of the English.  Of course there were already Christians in England, but, sent from Rome, he organised the Church in England in dioceses, evangelised the English, and, most importantly, brought the Roman Mass with him so that the Church in England never had its own rite but always used the Roman. 

Tuesday should be the feast of St Bede, a Doctor of the Church: not quite as important as St Augustine, but his feast, which has been celebrated in the eleventh and twelfth centuries on 26 May, was moved to 27 May simply so that the two great English saints could be commemorated on consecutive days.

By the time of the 1962 Missal, the two feasts had been reduced to the third class (although in Hexham and Newcastle St Bede could be celebrated as a second class feast).  In the new calendar and with the dates subtly messed about, St Bede is simply an optional memorial while St Augustine, although still classified as a feast (though only in England), isn't so important that a priest can't substitute his Mass for the Mass of a weekday in Eastertime (and, anyway, neither feast can come before "Saint Sunday" any more).

This is yet another example of how the calendar has been flattened and cut off from its roots, and, as a result, how we have been separated, not just from our history, but from the contextualisation that showed our forebears how everything was linked together.  It is another example of the contempt for tradition which started at the beginning of the twentieth century and grew in pace along with the century.
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17 May 2014

Unity Before Truth?

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Mark Lambert, @sitsio, linked to a wonderful diocese-by-diocese round-up by ACTA which contains many gems, but none quite as good as this.  Portsmouth Diocese ACTA had a meeting with the new Bishop (I get the impression this was somewhat to their surprise)

"Other areas of concern (some of which were raised with the bishop) included ... the translation of the Missal (the bishop favours letting it bed down – we said attendance would continue to haemorrhage)"

It seems surreal that a group of people most representative of those who have presided over the decimation of Church attendance since the mid-1960s should imagine that they have just noticed that the churches suddenly seem emptier, and that it is all down to the new translation.

I can imagine that the Bishop was extremely polite and let this go, but should he have?

Dr Shaw has argued, here, here and here, that the Bishops' putting up with significant dissent in order that those dissenting should not leave the Church, is a fundamentally flawed argument:

"The underlying misjudgment, in my view, is a failure to understand how much damage dissent does. The Faith is passed on, the life of grace is developed, nearly always in the context of institutions: the home, the school, the parish. This is logical because Catholic institutions manifest the community of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, in a tangible way, to us as individuals. These institutions can be turned into a nightmare of conflict, or just rendered completely useless, by a minority of dissidents, if they are given a free hand."

In a tweet yesterday evening, Mark said that this sort of thing happens when you consider that unity has priority over truth.  I think this is a profoundly accurate insight into one of the ways in which things have gone wrong.

I'm sure that "unity before truth" is not the way any of the Bishops would characterise their actions: they will think that they are tolerating legitimate freedom of divergence; they will think that they are being charitable; they may secretly agree with the dissenters; they may simply be hoping that they die off before they can do any damage.  But I think that they are more frightened by disunity. 

Disunity is to Catholicism what anarchy is to civil society: it removes the foundation on which the edifice stands.  The Bishops are right to fear it, but they won't protect the Church from disunity by moving the boundaries to accommodate dissent, or by gagging those who call dissent for what it is: they will protect the Church from disunity by facing up to those who wish to disunite it, just as society has to stand up to anarchists.

The truth is the best weapon that there is against dissenters because it preserves our unity.  We may lose the odd dissenter, but the unity shared not just by those who don't dissent with each other, but with all of the generations who have gone before us as well, comes from the truth. 

Unity can't produce the truth, but the truth guarantees unity.
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11 May 2014

Pope Benedict XIII

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From Duffy's History of the Popes:

"Unworldliness, however, was no better protection for the papacy. The saintly Dominican Benedict XIII (1724-30) had resigned a dukedom to become a friar. He was elected Pope in the stalemated Conclave of 1724 because everybody knew he was unworldly, and would preserve neutrality between France, Spain and the Austrian Habsburgs. He was unworldly and he did try to be neutral. But he also refused to behave like a pope, instead behaving like a simple parish priest, living in a whitewashed room, visiting hospitals, hearing Confessions and teaching children their catechism. Meanwhile, he put all the affairs of the papacy into the hands of his secretary, Niccolo Coscia. Coscia was totally corrupt, and surrounded himself with a disreputable parcel of cronies and profiteers. The administration of the Papal States became a public scandal. Nepotism had been formally abolished by Pope Clement XI, but now the Church had all the evils of nepotism without the nephew.

In 1728 Benedict provided more evidence that unworldliness can be a bad thing in a pope. He commanded the compulsory celebration of the Feast of St Gregory VII, formerly a local Italian observance, by the universal Church. The breviary lesson prescribed for the Feast was tactless in the extreme, and praised Gregory's courage in excommunicating and deposing Henry IV. The states of Europe set up a howl of anger.

Venice protested to the Pope, Sicily (and Protestant Holland) forbade the celebration of the Feast at all, Belgium banned the offending lesson, the Parisian police prevented the breviary containing the service being printed. The ancient claim of the Pope to temporal power was no longer acceptable in 1728."
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10 May 2014

Two Lost Feasts Of Our Lady

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Once upon a time, when my grandparents were young, they would have been celebrating two Marian feasts next week: on Monday they would have had the feast of the Humility of the BVM, and on Thursday, Our Lady of Grace.

Their collects were, respectively:

O God, who lookest down on the humble and regardest the proud from afar, grant to thy servants to imitate with pure hearts the humility of the blessed Mary, ever virgin, who in her virginity pleased, and in her humility conceived our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son.

O God, who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast conferred the grace of redemption on the human race; grant that, as we call her on earth the Mother of Grace, so may we for ever enjoy her happy company in heaven.

There really is nothing to add, is there!
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05 May 2014

Why Would Anyone Want To Suppress Protect The Pope?

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One of the more interesting things I've read recently came in a comment on James Preece's blog here. "Anon" makes some interesting comments about the decline in the influence Catholic blogs have at Eccleston Square, the HQs of the CBCEW.  It is instructive to reflect on the fact that the authorities were exercised once about how much influence bloggers might have (remember the hatchet job The Suppository tried on Fr Tim?) but had realised that the Cathosphere was having no significant effect on life in the Church in E&W.

"Anon" helpfully suggested Alexa as a way of getting a feel for the relative influence of different websites, and a quick look reveals quite a lot.  Here are some websites and their rankings:

Fr Z 88,328

Rorate 205,095
Protect the Pope 735,871
Mundabor 753,038

Fr Tim 1,568,178
Catholic and Loving It 1,905,622
Fr Ray 2,228,042
LMS Chairman 2,364,124
Fr Hunwicke 2,636,220
Catholic Voices 3,461,259
Eccles and Bosco 5,345,139
Countercultural Father 8,366,107

Due diligence: this blog doesn't even register, it gets so few views!

There are two points to be made about using Alexa as an analytical tool in this context: first, ignore the numbers and think of orders of magnitude: 1 to 10; 10 to 100; 100 to 1,000; 1,000 to 10,000; 10,000 to 100,000; 100,000 to 1,000,000; 1,000,000 to 10,000,000; the rest.  The second is that however accurate Alexa is or isn't, it is the counter of choice at Eccleston Square.

I chose a few UK sites which reflect what I thought would be their relative popularity and sure enough Frs Tim and Ray are up there, with James Preece loving it in their company.  Eccles and Countercultural Father both occupy a respectable position: not up with the world's opinion formers, but in a respectable spot.

But look at Deacon Nick: not in the preeminent world class of Fr Z, but far and away the highest ranking E&W blogger.  I put Rorate and Mundabor's  figures in NOT to compare him with them, but to give some idea of his reach.  If there are more popular UK sites, or sites in the same general area, let me know.

I've said before that what goes on between Deacon Nick and his Ordinary is between them: but you can see why warning bells might have begun to sound in Eccleston Square as his blog began to climb so high up the rankings.

If this is right, we know what we have to do: find somebody who is completely orthodox to the Magisterium, who has the time to devote to ferreting things out, and whose job, livelihood, or pension is unthreatenable by the people who want to control the narrative of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

30 April 2014

Deacon Nick, Mgr Loftus

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Irrespective of what might look like rights and wrongs to those who (like me) don't have access to all the information, Deacon Nick's blog is to close down, because he is being obedient to his Ordinary, who has asked him to close it down.

We should be grateful to Deacon Nick for the witness he has shown hitherto, and for the witness he continues to show.

We should pray for him, and, usual suspects, you will see me propose a Twitter Novena shortly.

But as an imaginative response, why don't we combine to ask Mgr Loftus's superiors to invite him to consider the virtue of silence as well?  The Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Leeds (I assume Mgr Loftus is still incardinated in Leeds) can be contacted through the diocesan webmaster john.grady@dioceseofleeds.org.uk.  You might want to raise your concern through the editor of the "catholic" paper which publishes his heresy who can be contacted here: joseph.kelly@thecatholicuniverse.com or on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/CATHOLIC_MD or you might think that the editor of a paper sold in catholic churches ought to be equally subject to his Ordinary, in which case contact Bishop Brignall of Wrexham here: diowxm@globalnet.co.uk.

We might ask the editor of the Catholic Herald by email here: editorial@catholicherald.co.uk or on Twitter @LukeCoppen whether Fr Rollheiser has a dispensation to preach non-orthodox Catholicism from the newspaper's website.

These are just a few ideas that would allow Bishop Campbell's actions in Lancaster to be contextualised by other bishops and responsible people as pastoral activity to combat the publication of views and ideas which any Catholic might find offensive.
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29 April 2014

Messing Up The Calendar

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For some bizarre reason, it was thought in the time of Pius XII that making Mayday, which had been adopted by communists and socialists as their holiday, the feast of St Joseph the Worker, communism and socialism would be utterly defeated, or neutralised, or something, or at least it would give Italian men an excuse to have the day off on 1 May and walk up and down a bit.  This is the sort of thing that happens when you take the Papal States off somebody and don't define their new job properly.

The problem is that 1 May already is a feast, and an important one at that.  It is the feast of SS Philip and James, two of the twelve apostles.  So they have to be moved (they can't be ignored).  They take over 11 May. That is the feast of Pope St Alexander I in Rome (and St Francis of Jerome elsewhere, but elsewhere is expendable) so St Alexander has to be moved to 3 May, where he in turn displaces the Finding of the Holy Cross which can be merged with 14 September with the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

We talk about wreckovation of churches as a "fruit" of the Spirit of Vatican II: wreckovation of the calendar began a long time before.
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25 April 2014

Very Old Bishops

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H/t De la Cigoña

The oldest Bishop in the Church today is the Frenchman Leuliet, Bishop Emeritus of Amiens, who is 104.

There are two American Bishops who are 101.

There are two who are 100: one Argentine, and one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, (though he was born in Europe).

One 99 year old Italian.

Seven who are 98, and one who on 30 April will join this group. Among these is notable presence of the first cardinal on the list, the (recently named Cardinal) Loris Capovilla from Italy. 

Seven are 97 years, although, as we have said, one is about to be promoted

Three are 96, eight, 95, twelve, 94, thirteen, 93, twenty-four are 92 and seventeen are 91.
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