Wednesday 29 December 2021

RORATE CÆLI: “What if Rome no longer wants to be Roman?”: Interview with Martin Mosebach

RORATE CÆLI: "What if Rome no longer wants to be Roman?": Interview with Martin Mosebach

"What if Rome no longer wants to be Roman?": Interview with Martin Mosebach

The following interview appeared in the German newspaper
Welt am Sonntag in its December 26, 2021 issue. It has been translated for Rorate Caeli.—PAK

Since Pope Francis issued a decree in July consistently scaling back the celebration of the old Latin Mass, all hell has broken loose on the international scene of Catholic traditionalists (or "trads"). The writer Martin Mosebach is an icon of the movement, not least thanks to his trad pamphlet Heresy of Formlessness (2002). He receives us for a talk in his Frankfurt apartment, less than a ten-minute walk from the old Opera.

When was the last time you were at Mass?

MARTIN MOSEBACH: Last Sunday, on the third [Sunday] of Advent. Here in Frankfurt there is the Deutschordenskirche, where the so-called Tridentine—or better, Gregorian—Mass is regularly celebrated according to the preconciliar liturgical books. Sundays, feast days, and also on some weekdays.

Pope Francis has issued a decree, a motu proprio, to make it more difficult to celebrate the Old Mass, that is, the Mass in Latin and with a priest facing the altar. What does this change for you personally?

There is now no sure legal basis for the way we celebrate the liturgy in the parish. Whether it may take place or not will in the future be left to the discretion of the local bishop. It is no longer a right of the faithful that they can demand, if necessary with the help of Rome. It is denied at all that the old liturgical books are still books of the Church. The Old Mass no longer has a definable status.

What was your first reaction to that?

It was a great shock. I did think such a step was possible, given the personality of the reigning pope and the agenda of the people around him. But I had assumed that, in the spirit of curial courtesy, they would wait until after Benedict XVI's death to take it. Obviously, an element of personal revenge came into play here.

Revenge for what?

Francis has not forgiven Benedict for influencing the outcome of the Amazon Synod with his book on the priesthood in early 2020 and for spoiling the desired abolition of compulsory celibacy. That made Francis very angry. Now he has retaliated by taking action against the Old Mass, that is, the liturgy that was a matter close to Benedict's heart and which he had emphatically rehabilitated.

What is so important about it?

It is not only about the Mass, but also about the sacraments: baptism, marriage, confession, confirmation, and ordination. These are simply seriously deficient in the modern versions in force today. Take baptism: there the baptized is asked at the beginning, "What do you desire from the Church?" The old answer was, "Faith." Today it is, "Baptism." A huge difference! When I asked Benedict XVI about this, he regretted tremendously not having reversed it in his pontificate.

Conservative Catholics like to talk about obedience. Now that the pope is scaling back the Old Mass, they are rehearsing the revolt. Francis has decided; why not just accept it?

The image of the papacy that emerged after the First Vatican Council, which saw the pope become an autocrat in all spiritual and juridical matters of the Church, does not correspond to the tradition of the Church. The papal office is not an absolute monarchy: precisely in its claim to infallibility, it is strictly bound to tradition, to what the Church has always taught and done. The pope has no dominion over this; his authority consists precisely in the fact that he bows to it. When Pope Francis tampers with tradition, he can no longer oblige the faithful to obey. Above all, he is attacking the very foundation on which the papacy stands.

The Tridentine rite did not fall from heaven, but grew historically. With its pomp, it does not fit well with the child in the manger that we celebrate at Christmas. Why shouldn't the Pope be able to change that?

The traditions of the Church have unfolded over time. But that is precisely the standard: a tradition may unfold, but it must not be broken. The Catholic celebration of the Mass is coherently derivable from the earliest beginnings of Christianity. The Lord visited the Temple throughout his life and celebrated the Temple rite there. The Catholic Mass is related to this rite, and to an astonishing extent. Yet these references are hardly recognizable in the modern liturgy. One can almost speak of an attempt to remove the Jewish elements from the Catholic Mass by the elimination of the Old Mass.

The Pope warns that the traditionalists tend to sectarianism and want to divide their parishes. Why do you do that?

None of that is true. The traditionalists are a very small group, and I don't know of a single case where they have been divisive in any way. The only thing they care about is celebrating Mass according to the 1500-year-old books of the Church. Yes, it is true: In the long struggle against total incomprehension, a tendency to be opinionated may have arisen in one or another, which in individual cases could have been somewhat quarrelsome. I don't want to exclude myself from this assessment. But the moment the liturgy was granted and no longer hindered, all conflict immediately ceased.

The overwhelming majority of the faithful worldwide, over 95 percent, celebrate worship in the form resulting from the liturgical reform of 1969. Is this worship legitimate in your view?

If an orthodox priest celebrates the new Ordo [Missae], then of course it is a valid Mass. The new liturgy is not capable of making the Eucharistic mystery unambiguously perceptible, but it can still have its sacramental effect.

When was the last time you were at a modern Mass?

A few weeks ago in Morocco, where I was working on my new novel. There was no possibility of attending the Old Mass there. The priest was always running back and forth between the altar and a CD player to put on new spiritual songs in the French chanson style—not very sacramental.

Many faithful will prefer to listen to French chansons rather than watch a priest muttering or praying Latin formulas in complete silence.

First of all, it is not a matter of what many believers would prefer—the sacraments are a foundation, a gift granted to people that conveys the presence of God. The ancient liturgy, in fact, is not readily accessible. It requires initiation and a lifetime of practice. It is a school of reverence. Its effect is a lifelong maturing. It must be learned like a language. Until the Second Vatican Council, most Catholics understood this language, by which I do not mean Latin specifically, but the whole process of chant, gestures, and images, which created a sensual and transcendent counter-world. This traditional liturgical building was torn down; the smashing up went quickly, as precious things are usually fragile. The result is apparent to everyone: the shrinking of the Western Church.

The Church would be better off if it were decidedly anti-modern?

It would not be better off: it would be what it is. If it had remained true to its traditions and therefore lost members, it would at least have remained unbroken as a spiritual force—as an institution oriented toward the supernatural, toward the otherworldly. The bankruptcy of the Western Church has not, however, been stopped by maximum adaptation to modern civilization. Let us think of the fate of the Greek Church under the Ottomans, or of the Russian Church, which was deprived of any possibility to act publicly, to exercise works of charity, to hold classes during seventy years of Communism. And yet, this Church has survived, thanks to the liturgy. Thanks to a celebration that was oriented towards heaven and had nothing to do with everyday Communist life.

In Germany, the number of church members will soon fall below 50 percent. What is the country losing?

I am convinced that the loss of religion destabilizes a country. When the belief that man is not the highest and final authority disappears, the world becomes dark. What the idolization of human autonomy can lead to was proven in the twentieth century in the great totalitarian systems. In addition, there is the loss of history, of the consciousness of experiencing oneself as a link in a long chain, as a heritage. If we are Christians today, it is because our great-great-great-grandparents were Christians. The chain of this tradition goes back to the Holy Land. Without this reverberating space of the past, I can only imagine man as a shadowy existence.

How long will you continue to be a church member?

Since I am baptized, I am a son of the Church until the end of my life. But what is happening right now is indeed an attack on the substance of things, and I sometimes wonder if I could bear another Francis. What does one do when one realizes that the Church is really staying on a fundamentally wrong path and wants to fundamentally move away from its origins? That is a hypothetical question. Goethe's Mephisto says, "When such a little head gets stuck, it immediately imagines the end."

Orthodox churches are places of longing for traditionalists because their liturgy is so ancient. Why not convert?

Orthodoxy is a wonderful guarantee for me: there is a great Church that preserves the tradition of the first millennium. Whatever wrong is happening in the Catholic Church, it can never damage the whole Church of Christ to the core. In the Orthodox, she has before her the counter-example against which she must be measured and against which she can correct herself. Nevertheless, I am personally attached to the Latin world and to Rome. I also know what I would have to give up. Peter was in Rome. But what if Rome no longer wants to be Roman?

The fact that backward-looking does not necessarily mean reactionary could stand like a motto over the work of Martin Mosebach (even if he sometimes provocatively calls himself a reactionary). Since his debut, The Bed (1983), the writer, born in 1951, has practiced the art of the social novel like no other contemporary, usually with the plot set in Frankfurt am Main where he was born. In his novels, Mosebach has developed a language whose cultivated distinction seems antiquated at first glance. But aesthetic conventions are not a constraint for him, but an ordering support in an untenable time. His persistent support for the Catholic Mass according to the old rite undoubtedly stems from the same conviction.

WDTPRS: The Traditional Latin Mass and the NON-Traditional Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) are NOT the same simply because they are both in Latin. Wherein Fr. Z explains also the motives of those who attack the TLM. | Fr. Z's Blog

WDTPRS: The Traditional Latin Mass and the NON-Traditional Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) are NOT the same simply because they are both in Latin. Wherein Fr. Z explains also the motives of those who attack the TLM. | Fr. Z's Blog

The Traditional Latin Mass and the NON-Traditional Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) are NOT the same simply because they are both in Latin. Wherein Fr. Z explains also the motives of those who attack the TLM.

The hatred shown for traditional sacred liturgical worship of the Roman Church, and the excuses claimed for its marginalization and extirpation are rooted in more than "Spirit of Vatican II" ideology and it's companion specter, the papalatrous "Spirit of Vatican I".

There is something visceral about their efforts that defies reason.  It's a reaction from a triggering, like the striking of a ganglion or reflex point, like the application of a relic to an energumen.

Today's Collect, for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, provides a clue as to why certain people cannot stand the Traditional Latin Mass and insist on the Novus Ordo.

Remember, that even in Latin the Novus Ordo is massively different from the TLM.  It is, in effect, a different Rite, not only by the editing out and swapping around of certain elements, but because of the very content of the orations.

When people say, "Just use the Novus Ordo in Latin!", do they really know what they are talking about?   Mostly, no.  Some do, because they know that the content of the prayers was, by and large, radically altered from what the Church prayed for centuries.  They claim that because of Vatican II – their super-dogma, their uber-lens through which they seek to reinterpret all of Tradition, the Church no longer adheres to certain things (remember – liturgy = doctrine).   It pretty much always concerns morals.

Here is the Collect from the 1962 Missale Romanum for Holy Innocents:

Deus, cuius hodierna die praeconium Innocentes Martyres non loquendo, sed moriendo confessi sunt: omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica; ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam moribus vita fateatur.


O God, whose public heralding the Innocent Martyrs professed this very day not by speaking but by dying; mortify in us every ill of vices; so that (our) life might confess Your Faith, which we speak with our tongue, also by (our) morals.

Look at the not-so-subtle change made to the Collect by the cutters and pasters who glued together the Novus Ordo collect:

Deus, cuius hodierna die praeconium
Innocentes Martyres non loquendo,
sed moriendo confessi sunt:
da, quaesumus, ut fidem tuam,
quam lingua nostra loquitur
etiam moribus vita fateatur.

Notice anything missing?


O God, whose public heralding the Innocent Martyrs
professed this very day not by speaking but by dying;
grant, we implore, that (our) life might confess Your Faith,
which our tongue declares,
also by (our) morals

Friends, the issue is not just whether LATIN is being used or the vernacular.  What the prayers REALLY say is at issue.

Very often, the content of the LATIN of the Novus Ordo is dramatically different.  Certain concepts were systematically expunged from the LATIN orations of the Novus Ordo, the NON-Traditional Latin Mass.

The Traditional Latin Mass (Vetus Ordo) and the NON-Traditional Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) are NOT the same simply because they are both in Latin.

Is the Novus Ordo a bad prayer.  Heavens no!  But it is a very different prayer, isn't it.  Remove "mortification" in connection with "vice"… very different.  And those concepts are not implicit in the petition about morals.  Hardly.

Look what was cut out of the prayer for Holy Innocents: a plea to God to mortify us in respect to our vices!    What would be involved in GOD mortifying vices in us as opposed to US mortifying vices in ourselves?  Greater suffering, surely.  If God has to do it, then it's pretty tough.

Vices are habits.  Virtues are habits.  Habits are actions that come easily for us.  If doing something virtuous is hard, then we don't have the virtue.  It takes time and repetition and, usually, grace to build virtues and it has to be intentional.

On the other hand, vices – bad habits tending to sins – tend to develop easily in us because of the effects of Original Sin.  Some vices are worse than others.  Some are are light enough that we can make progress against them on our own, with discipline and the willingness to suffer.

Whenever we say, NO! to ourselves, we endure a measure of suffering.

However, some vices are very bad and are deeply rooted.  Moreover, they are very much under the influence of the Enemy of the Soul because they concern things that strike at the core of the image of God in which we are made.

While it is true that sins of the mind and heart are worse than merely carnal faults, let it not be forgotten that those lower sins, while they may spring from a carnal appetite, once rooted, can then with tendrils wind into the graver spiritual sins.   Think about certain carnal relationships that develop into mutual spiritual abuse.

If we ask God Himself to mortify in us some vice, it is a serious vice.  It is the kind of vice that is so dangerous for our salvation that we ask GOD to do it because it is likely that, on our own, we cannot.

During Advent we heard the cry "Make straight the path!"  When the Lord comes, He will come by the straight path whether we took steps to straighten that path or not.  And in some respects we struggle – often failing – to straighten our paths.  Then we cry to God to have MERCY on us and do the straightening now, before He comes as King of Fearful Majesty, the Straightener.

Implicit in the plea that God mortify vices in us, is a willingness to accept suffering.

Those who fight against the Vetus Ordo are viscerally triggered by these concepts, and all the other things systematically excised from the prayers of Holy Mass.  They don't want to hear them.  They don't want to be reminded of things like guilt, sin, expiation, propitiation, judgement, mortification, etc.

Therefore, the TLM, the Vetus Ordo is a reminder of their vices and it is a blockade to their project to re-form the Church into one in which doctrine has been slowly distorted even to the point that what is gravely sinful is called "tolerable" and then "acceptable" and then….

What might be a vicious (adjective for vice) inclination – even if unacted upon – at the foundation of the hatred the main promoters of suppression of the Vetus Ordo suffer from? The sort of vice that cries to heaven, just like the murder of innocents?

In this struggle for the doctrine, faith and morals, of the Holy Catholic Church, let's make sure our own houses are in order.


Also, pray for those who interpret the cruel documents that have come out.


Friday 24 December 2021

RORATE CÆLI: What is behind the papal strangulation of the old Mass?

RORATE CÆLI: What is behind the papal strangulation of the old Mass?

What is behind the papal strangulation of the old Mass?

The author celebrating Mass in the Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate, England

By Fr Christopher Basden, Parish Priest of Ramsgate, England.

Since the Pope's recent brutal and unmerciful constriction of the traditional Latin Mass, many have been shocked by its unusual severity and questioned what motivates it. Liberal Catholic friends respond that it lacks the inclusivity that a broad Church demands. Friends from beyond the confines of Catholicism scratch their heads; this is the classic Roman ritual which for 1 ½ millennia was the inspiration of countless works of music, literature and art.

One of the loveliest personal memories I have was the infectiously charming and bubbly founder of the famous monastery of Le Barroux, Abbot Gerard Calvet OSB. Out of the chaos of the disintegration of religious life in the 1960s he had left his community and become a hermit. Sought out by young disciples he was urged to re-initiate traditional monastic life centred on the classical liturgy. This he accomplished with his foundation nestled beneath the majesty of Mt Ventoux (of Tour de France fame) in Provence. In 1988, feeling the Episcopal consecrations were a step too far, he sought canonical recognition from the Vatican. Despite the warm welcome of Pope John Paul this was not shared by the monastic establishment who excluded him from their associations. I found this shocking and sad and after a while I was relieved to hear he had at last been invited to the worldwide conference of Abbots in Rome. I hoped, I remarked to him, that they were welcoming. His response:

"Oui ils etaient gentils mais c'est une autre religion"

(Yes they were kind but it's another religion.) I was quite startled and struck by what I then perceived to be an extreme assessment, but a quarter of a century later it bears further scrutiny.

But let us get back to the question at hand. Why on earth does such a venerable ancient Rite with stellar accomplishments in the pantheon of saints, not to mention the huge cultural impact it has had within western civilisation merit exclusion? Today its adherents represent a tiny percentage, largely unknown in the worldwide Catholic Church since the Rite's termination in 1969. Despite the liberalisation of its use in 2007, and a remarkable flourishing of vocations and conversions in the limited confines in which it returned to use, why the draconian and fearful suffocation of newly ordained priests being permitted to use it? Why should the new young communities be subjected to hostile commissars bent on eradicating the old Rite as if it were a dangerous virus?

The papal condemnation accuses these traditionalists of being divisive and of being ideologically opposed to the second Vatican Council. However that Council (of which most of the young devotees know little, having been born long after its closure in 1965!) was pastoral, not definitively doctrinal let alone ideological. The vast majority of the bishops at the Council, including Marcel Lefebvre, signed most of its decrees.

It was largely what came afterwards, with the explosive and revolutionary 'implementation' of the Council. The vast majority of bishops had no say (let alone anyone else) in the promulgation of the reformed Mass. However, at the Synod of Bishops in 1967 it is on record that only a minority of bishops present approved the New Order of Mass. Cardinal Heenan prophesied it would result in dwindling numbers. In spite of this, the Consilium pushed it through, calling on all to be a obedient to the "spirit of Vatican II." Cardinal Ottaviani, then head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, complained that the new Mass marked a "striking departure" from the solemnly defined Catholic Eucharistic theology of the Council of Trent. In many ways it can be demonstrated that the Consilium's new Mass was in no way what was envisaged by the Fathers at Vatican II. For example, the Council asks that "Latin is to be retained in all the rites" (it totally disappeared) and "Gregorian chant is to have pride of place" (It sadly has had no place at all!)

The Rubrics which uphold facing East during the Canon are still in print but almost universally ignored.

Cardinal Suenens boasted that Vatican II was "1789 in the Church!" Fr Yves Congar said of the Council, "the Church has peacefully undergone its October Revolution."

Was that really in the minds of the bishops to assembled in 1962? Pope Benedict deplored the "Council of the Media" and promoted the notion of the "hermeneutic of continuity". He resisted The idea that at Vatican II we had begun completely anew. The holy Bishop of Leeds, Gordon Wheeler, stressed that Vatican II can only be properly interpreted within the harmony of the preceding tradition.

The studies of Father Anthony Cekada are very disturbing. The Council called for a return to the sources, but he amply demonstrated that 83% of the Collects of the traditional Mass were discarded. Archbishop Bugnini (architect of the New Rite) admits in his apologia (his full papers have yet to be divulged) that 'negative theology' was incompatible with the sensibilities of modern man. The concepts that were deleted included the very notion of the soul! The use of this word disappears in the New Mass! Other deletions include miracles, fasting, mortification, error, evils, enemies, the wrath of God and Hell. He is on record as saying that the New Rite should avoid anything that could be a stumbling block for Protestants. Jean Guitton, a personal friend of Pope Paul VI, confirms this, admitting that the revolutionary changes were set in place to more perfectly coincide with the Calvinist Eucharist. How naive to think unity with Protestantism could be achieved, especially as now the mainstream churches of the Reformation are in terminal decline. Only the Baptist, bible based and so-called fundamentalist denominations have much life left. As former Anglican Bishop Graham Leonard declared, "the future of the church will belong to those of conviction." Even more seriously is the New Rites' deselection of holy scripture (ignoring the warning at the close of the book of Revelation!) For example, "Whoever receives the body of the Lord unworthily merits condemnation." This line among several others is deleted.

Today's young clerics who stumble on the classical Roman liturgy discover a rich scriptural content with explicit priestly and sacrificial overtones. Fr. Hugh Simon-Thwaites, SJ remarked that, "the Old Rite is the greatest expression of the Eucharistic doctrine of the Catholic Church." I find it amusing but sad, that after an appeal to the Pope against the termination of the Old Mass in the 'London Times,' in July 1971, from the greatest men and women of culture in Britain, he recognised but one, Agatha Christie, the writer of pop murder mysteries! Others included Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kenneth Clark, Robert Graves, Yehudi Menuhin, Iris Murdoch, Nancy Mitford, and R.C. Zaehner. Most were non-Catholics and even non-Christians, including two Anglican bishops. The Old Mass was universally terminated (save in England which allowed rare permissions due to Agatha Christie!)

After two permissive indults under Pope John Paul in 1984 and 1988 (the second responding to the Episcopal consecrations of Archbishop Lefebvre), Pope Benedict attempted to give the classic Roman Rite a home back in the Catholic Church in 2007. In his Summorum Pontificum he confirmed the long held view of many canonists, including Count Nero Capponi and Cardinal Stickler, that the Old Rite had never been canonically abrogated. As Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) said, "anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this (Old) Liturgy or takes part in it is treated as a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing so we are despising and proscribing the Church's whole past. How can we trust her at present if things are that way? Pope Pius V had in 1570 declared that the traditional Roman Rite "would be valid henceforth now and forever.""

I have two contrasting memories of the response that summer of 2007. The liberal London Tablet (financially supported by the Catholic hierarchy but read more by Anglicans) screamed in protest "but it (the Old Mass) WAS banned!" At Wonersh Seminary ,on the other hand, at an Eastern Churches seminar, several Orthodox ecclesiastics enthused delightedly that Rome had no longer officially proscribed its ancient tradition which had further distanced us from the Churches of the East.

A question has to be sincerely posed: "what are the fruits of the revolutionary transformation in the liturgy which heralded a huge plethora of changes in the Church?" Despite the continual denial of the aged ecclesiastics in power who suffer from the "Emperor's new clothes syndrome" one can truly say that the result is a huge devastation of the vineyard of the Lord. Every religious order, diocese and parish has drastically declined since 1965 in numbers. We have never seen such a abandonment of priestly and Religious vows in all our history. By 1978 40,000 priests had left the priesthood; the sad, seeping, departures have never stopped since that time. If we had kept the priests we had actually ordained there would not be the severe shortage of clergy. In 1985, with the celebration of 20 years since the Council, the then Cardinal Ratzinger dared to say that the results could never be described as positive. He was demonised, and his 'Report' was banned from several Seminary libraries! Eight years earlier, in 1977, an Archbishop in Italy, Arrigo Pintonelli wrote in an open letter to his fellow Bishops that the anarchy in the church was "a true scourge of God much more vast and destructive than the one by Atilla, with consequences that ought to deprive of sleep those who are responsible for the life and governance of the church, who inexplicably remain silent."

This terrible decline has never subsided. Religious women have disappeared from our streets. Monasteries collapse and Seminaries close due to the utter collapse of vocations. In England over 95% of students from our Catholic schools (our pride and joy) do not persevere in the practice of the faith. Not only in the European heartlands does the decline in vocations and practising Catholics occur. For example even the powerful Nigerian Catholic Church is subject to a continual substantial haemorrhage to Pentecostal sects.

The sex abuse scandals have disgraced the Church and destroyed much of everything the priesthood stands for. Since 90% of the victims were teenage males we can see that pederasty and not paedophilia is the real problem. No one dares to ever speak about it, however, lest they be considered 'homophobic.' This has infected the highest echelons of the hierarchy as evidenced in the sordid affair of Cardinal McCarrick. What a veritable dark night of the Church!

In contrast, the tiny percentage of clerical Institutes, convents and monasteries, using the irresistibly attractive Traditional Latin Rite, have flourished. The revival, with seminarians and Novices and conversions, has been heart-warming for so many of us worn out and wearied priests. The large noncontraceptive families represent one of the only answers to the demographic timebomb affecting the western world. Sadly the very sight of these seminarians and novices in cassocks and full habits incur the contempt, derision and detestation of the Vatican commissars.

It is not the adherents of the Old Mass who are ideological, it is the curial officials of the Vatican who display a paranoia in the face of reasonable dissent from the so-called liturgical reforms of Bugnini. They are the ones who respond with a unpastoral ferocity and ideological fanaticism. Now, years later after decades of reluctance, I realise the old Abbot was correct.

They are the purveyors of a new, distinct and often subtle religion without any real substantial base in scripture and tradition. While holding to the divine corpus of truth as set out in the Creed and Catechism, their slippery interpretations renders many doctrinal and moral beliefs in a subjective and relativistic manner, leaving them devoid of the original content. As Fr George Tyrrell SJ predicted a century ago, "Rome cannot be destroyed in a day, but it is necessary to make it fall into dust gradually and inoffensively, then we will have a new Religion and a new Decalogue." Today Tyrrell is largely rehabilitated by his brother Jesuits. The new religion will dialogue with anyone except those who stand by Catholic Tradition. The mantra "the liturgical reform is irreversible" and the "New Order of Mass is the richest form of the Mass in history" is not dissimilar to the empty, ugly, untrue dogmas of the Chinese communist party which has the Vatican in its financial control.

What are the hallmarks of this new ideological religion? They are all around us in this present moment of history. The new ideology promotes the idea that "God wills diversity of religion." Excepting for His "permissive will" this goes against everything objectively stated in both the Gospel and the Koran of Islam. The new faith deplores proselytism, thus thrusting a dagger into the church's missionary nature, destroying the real nature of evangelisation. Furthermore the new faith, by moral ambiguity, devalues marriage and family life by allowing access to the sacraments after divorce and remarriage. By confusing "loving the sinner and hating the sin", it opens the door to betraying the long held Gospel belief in the indissolubility of marriage. Furthermore it welcomes recognition of homosexual unions, even denying that chastity is possible! This new approach has transformed the Pontifical Academy of Life into the Pontifical Academy of 'Choice', thus negating the remarkable contribution of Pope John Paul in his Encyclical Evangelium Vitae. The new religion is man centred, humanist, with no seeming necessity for the Atonement of Christ whose Divinity is devalued.

Finally the title used by many previous popes and even discussed by the second Vatican Council, of Our Lady 'Mediatrix of graces', is to be discarded. She is but a mother. Here we have the neo-Protestant, de-supernaturalised religion evident for all to see. The present situation reminds me of the scene in CS Lewis in his Last Battle, in which a baboon covers himself in the skin of a lion proclaiming himself to be Aslan, showing forth the age of the antichrist. The commissars see the extraordinary growth, potential and fruits of the Old Mass in just 14 years as a threat to their pseudo faith which patently does not work.

Do not despair. In England the faith in the 16th century was abruptly cancelled, being replaced by a new Religion and Catholics persevered underground waiting for a second spring that happened ages later. In Egypt despite the rest of the whole of North Africa ceasing to be Christian, the Copts amazingly survive, despite continual persecution.

Our Blessed Lady is the 'Conqueror of all Heresies!'

She and Saint Joseph, the 'Patron of Times of Crisis', will see us through this diabolical incursion into the enfeebled Church of God today. He alone wins the Victory!

RORATE CÆLI: “Pomposity cannot stand ridicule”: A canon lawyer draws lessons from Communist history

RORATE CÆLI: "Pomposity cannot stand ridicule": A canon lawyer draws lessons from Communist history

"Pomposity cannot stand ridicule": A canon lawyer draws lessons from Communist history

My last semester in college, I took a seminar class on Eastern Europe since the Second World War, led by a strong apologist for the communist government in power at that time (but soon to collapse). I took the class a bit unwillingly—it was the most palatable seminar that fit into my schedule. I endured the class, which largely entailed 1980's yuppie students arguing with our boomer prof about the strength and weakness of capitalism vs. communism.

I had no idea at the time that that class would become the most useful class of my college career.

We read works by Milan Kundera and Vaclav Havel among others and looked at the samizdat press and the underground economy. We discussed the Polish union movement and the role of the Catholic Church in supporting religious and individual freedom. Those "subversives" who, in the professor's view, were ruining things for everyone else became my heroes.

Over thirty years later, I find myself re-reading those books and studying the practices of those subversives to help me deal with the world I currently live in—both secular and ecclesiastical.

The recent news that that Holy See has made known its interest in what parishes advertise in their bulletins (after sixty years of parishes advertising blatant heresy and heterodoxy with impunity) reminds me of the Lithuanian Soviet government's requirement that religious entities pass every alteration of their churches through a labyrinthine approval process, designed specifically to halt alterations and frustrate religion. The response of the Lithuanian Catholics at the time: inundate the bureaucracy with a flood of requests. The priest's chair needs to be moved ten inches forward, then the kneeler needs to be moved three feet to the left, then the potted plant that was next to the kneeler needs to be moved to the other side of the sanctuary, then the lamp that was on the other side of the sanctuary needs to be moved down one step... and so on. If the forms needed to be filled out in triplicate, there was a small army of church ladies who filled out every last line on the forms so that Father could drop off the 180 requests to the office for processing—standing in line with another 50 priests behind him requesting the same sort of alterations. The government backed off, and eventually the whole system collapsed.

The most important tool the Eastern Europeans—especially the Czechs and Slovaks—used against the system was humor. They laughed at the insanity of the bureaucracy and the hubris and self-importance of the leadership. The smiled wryly when they were being upbraided for their unpatriotic ways. They met the bombast of the self-decorated and self-congratulating solons with a chuckle and a knowing wink to their confreres. Many suffered, and suffered unspeakably, and their suffering should not be minimized, but the point it: pomposity cannot stand ridicule.

The best way to expose the deviant corruption of authoritarians is not to engage them in arguments, but rather to roll one's eyes, ignore what one can ignore, and carry on with one's life. In due time—usually shorter than imagined—it collapses under the weight of its own absurdity.

Fr. Timothy T. Ferguson, JCL, STL

Thursday 23 December 2021

RORATE CÆLI: Article: "Legal Considerations on the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes" - Restrictions demand strict interpretation

RORATE CÆLI: Article: "Legal Considerations on the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes" - Restrictions demand strict interpretation

Article: "Legal Considerations on the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes" - Restrictions demand strict interpretation

  by Fr. Pierre Laliberté, J.C.L.*

1. Principles

The motu proprio "Traditionis Custodes" was issued by Pope Francis on 16 July 2021, along with an accompanying letter.

As a restrictive decree, this present motu proprio of Pope Francis should be interpreted strictly, in accord with the legal maxim Regula Juris 15 (odiosa restringenda, favorabilia amplificanda). Interestingly, there is no vacatio legis on the document either.

Pope Francis indicates in the first paragraph that the bishops constitute the principle of unity of the particular churches and govern them through the proclamation of the Gospel. As the specified end of the document is the "constant search for ecclesial communion", it would also appear that hermeneutically, this document should be interpreted in a way which genuinely fosters ecclesiastical communion between the faithful, priests, and bishops, and does not promote negative feeling and ill-will amongst any members of the Christian faithful who are attached to the traditional liturgical forms.

It is worthwhile to indicate what this motu proprio does not place restrictions upon. No mention whatsoever is made of the pre-conciliar Breviarium Romanum, Pontificale Romanum and Rituale Romanum. No express abrogation is made of any notable document concerning the traditional Roman Missal, and such abrogation should not therefore be implied. The traditional Missal remains, as it always was, never abrogated. The rights established by Quo Primum, by the theological and liturgical tradition of the Western rites, and immemorial custom remain intact. No mention is made of the traditional rites of the various religious communities (Dominican, Carmelite, Praemonstratensian, etc.) nor those of the ancient sees (Ambrosian, Lyonnais, etc.). There is no indication that the right of a priest to celebrate privately according to the 1962 missal is in any way infringed.

When read in comparison with the extensive granting of rights conceded by Summorum Pontificum and clarified and expanded by Universae Ecclesiae, when there is no express revocation of these rights indicated by Pope Benedict XVI, one must conclude canonically that they still exist. 

There is a serious lack of clarity in this document which this brief analysis will attempt to address, and it is evident that its ambiguities will be, sadly, taken advantage of by those with less than a genuine love for the Church, her faithful people, and her heritage.

2. Documentary Analysis

Article 1, discussing the liturgical books promulgated by Sts. Paul VI and John Paul II, indicates that they are the "unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite." In the absence of any indication to the contrary, one must conclude that the status of the Extraordinary Form liturgical books remains intact.

Article 2 recognizes the diocesan bishop as the "moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church." This is true and has always been the case. This article merely recognizes that the bishop regulates the general liturgical life of the diocese, which encompasses also the use of the pre-conciliar Missale Romanum, and to authorize its use, just as a bishop would authorize the right of any priest to celebrate the liturgy.

In considering Article 3, it is worthwhile to note that the provisions of this article refer to the "Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970." Strictly understood, the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970 is the editio typica of 1965 with the alterations of Tres abhinc annos of 4 May 1967. This is not the 1962 Missal. To this author's knowledge, the 1965 missal is used hardly, if ever.

Article 3, number 1 asserts that "these groups do not deny the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs." This should not pose a problem, as the fundamental principle of the liturgical reform, antecedent to any changes, as indicated in Sacrosanctum Concilium 4, remains that "in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way."

Article 3, number 2 notes that the bishop of the diocese is to designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups [which celebrate according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970] may gather for the Eucharistic celebration, not taking place in the parochial churches and not erecting new personal parishes. This remains unclear legally, as it could merely be implied as a restriction placed upon the 1965 editio typica. While the text indicates that these groups may gather "not in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes", there remain any number of other locations where such celebrations may take place.

Article 3, number 3 indicates that the bishop can establish the days on which Eucharistic celebrations are permitted according to the 1962 Missal. There is no indication given that the right of a priest to do so is infringed. The bishop also can make such a designation. And as is the case in virtually all communities where the Extraordinary Form is celebrated, the readings are typically proclaimed in the vernacular according to the provisions established in Universae Ecclesiae 26: "As foreseen by article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular." Number 4 indicates that a priest should be appointed who is "suited for this responsibility", and gives examples of the positive characteristics which should be inherent in such a priest.

Article 3, number 5 and 6 descibe how the bishop is to positively guide the growth of such communities and parishes, namely to ensure that they are "effective for their spiritual growth" and to "determine whether or not to retain them." Of course, the accent here is on the positive: bishops should encourage the effectiveness of the growth of such communities and parishes. The following subsection notes that there is also no strict forbidding of bishops to authorize the establishment of new groups, but rather merely to "take care" not to authorize their establishment.

Article 4 establishes a distinction between those ordained subsequent to 16 July 2021 who "should" submit a request to the diocesan bishop, who will consult the Apostolic See, and those ordained previously. There is no indication that these newly ordained priests must do so, and no indication of penalties to which they would be subject if they were not to do so. This is a hortatory, not a compulsory, statement. Similarly, those ordained prior to 16 July 2021 are also encouraged in article 5 to request from the diocesan bishop the faculty to continue to celebrate according to the traditional Missal. Again, these two (2) articles should be read in a way which, in accordance with the express aims of the present motu proprio, would foster the positive growth and understanding in communion between priests and their bishops.

Article 6 asserts that the institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life previously under the purview of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei now are under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and article 6 asserts the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as the aforementioned Congregation, over the observance of these provisions.

While the final article of this motu proprio appears rather sweeping in its abrogation of "previous norms, instructions, permissions and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present Motu Proprio", it should be reiterated that the provisions of this present motu proprio are restrictions which demand strict interpretation.

*Pseudonym for a Priest and Canon Lawyer in the Latin Church

RORATE CÆLI: IMPORTANT ARTICLE: LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RESPONSA ON TRADITIONIS CUSTODES - "Congregation cannot make authoritative interpretations. Juridical status of document highly questionable, does not have legally binding force."

RORATE CÆLI: IMPORTANT ARTICLE: LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RESPONSA ON TRADITIONIS CUSTODES - "Congregation cannot make authoritative interpretations. Juridical status of document highly questionable, does not have legally binding force."

IMPORTANT ARTICLE: LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RESPONSA ON TRADITIONIS CUSTODES - "Congregation cannot make authoritative interpretations. Juridical status of document highly questionable, does not have legally binding force."

As a consequence, this Congregation cannot make authoritative interpretations. Responses, in particular this document, are neither general decrees nor instructions (canons 29-34). Such responses to dubia are not binding executive decisions. While the CDWDS has noted that their responses are official and represent the mens Congregationis, they should be seen as just that - an expression of the mind of the Congregation. Since these Responsa do not appear to have been approved "in forma specifica" by the Holy Father, they would not have binding force, and would only bind those who posed the dubia. Despite this document being "consented to" by the Holy Father, the juridical status of this document is highly questionable, and thus cannot be considered as having legally binding force. Some have even stated that the document is "vox et praeterea nihil."
Beyond the futility of attempting to ban the classical texts of the Roman Rite by brute force, the texts, as Fr. John Hunwicke notes, have an auctoritas which stems from their theological value, and thus cannot be suddenly revoked at legislative fiat. The theology of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the writings of St. John of the Cross or Ste. Thérèse de Lisieux, the art of the great cathedrals - all of these monuments of the Catholic heritage cannot be revoked at will - a fortiori by those who do not possess legislative powers. Sheer force of will cannot ban sacred texts and prayers which have formed minds and wills unto sanctity.

It's Time to Occupy the Churches - OnePeterFive

It's Time to Occupy the Churches - OnePeterFive

It's Time to Occupy the Churches

This past summer, just before the God of Surprises ordained it be revealed that Grindr users' location data is accessible to the public, Pope Francis issued something unsurprising to traditional Catholics who didn't have their heads in the sand – Traditionis Custodes. I've heard and read a lot of things along the lines of this: "Now is the time to show our bishops how obedient we are. We all need to write letters to them thanking them for allowing us to have the Old Mass these past several years."

I was struck, however, when one commentator compared this to submission to an abusive father. Who would submit to abuse from such a wicked father, especially if your brothers and sisters were also suffering? What if your children were attacked by an abusive father? Would you sit by and try to grovel with such a man?

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We have been beaten by our own father in the name of mercy and marginalized in the name of unity. Abusing his office, he has transgressed our rights to the ancient Mass – what our forefathers bled and died to pass down to us.

As a friend recently remarked to my wife and I, "Traditional liturgy is our birthright." I refuse to beg and grovel for what rightly belongs to my brethren and me by inheritance, just as I don't thank art museum curators for refraining from spray painting graffiti all over the Renaissance sculptures.

And to any traditionalist Catholics who did send boot-licking letters to their shepherds (perhaps with an extra donation "just to show how devoted and appreciative we are") – it didn't work. On December 18, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship Archbishop, Arthur Roche, published his own iteration of "The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves." This document further restricts the celebration of sacraments such as ordinations, baptisms and Confirmations in the old rite.

The Psalmist has some words for Trads during these dark times:

And they repaid me evil for good: and hatred for my love. (Psalm 108)

Blessed be the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to fight, and my fingers to war… Send forth lightning, and thou shalt scatter them: shoot out thy arrows, and thou shalt trouble them. (Psalm 143)

Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me: overthrow them that fight against me. Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me. (Psalm 34)

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Instead of trying to appease our enemies, traditional Catholics need to go to war with them. We have every reason in the world. My family discovered our diocesan TLM a dozen years ago. We have since donated sacrificially to it out of love year after year. We contributed to the new high altar and reredos; we took on our parish coffee hour with another family; we started to wake up early every week to bring our sons to serve the Solemn High Mass (they chide us if we move a bit too slowly for them Sunday mornings, fearing that they won't get to the sacristy in time).

My wife and I have always been careful about detracting from the Holy Father within earshot of our children – we want to inculcate a healthy piety for the office of the Roman Pontiff even as we have a healthy understanding of its limits (and the sins of the occupant!).

Two days after Traditionis Custodes was published, my family and I attended a TLM parish at one of our usual summer vacation spots. The priest there made his comments public about the Motu Proprio. On the car ride back to our rental condo, we finally explained to our kids how Pope Francis doesn't like the Latin Mass and was trying to put an end to it. My children, in their innocence, were flabbergasted.

I imagine that my sons had assumed they were doing something good and noble every week as they buttoned up their cassocks, and hearing about the Motu Proprio was like finding out that their dad wasn't proud of them. There are times for righteous anger. If that incident didn't make my blood boil, I'd be something other than a man.

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The enemies of Tradition detest what you and your family hold most dear, and they've made it clear that there will be no detente with us. We should reject out of hand any notion of assisting at "reverent" Novus Ordos with the idea that they'll reward us once we show them we can play nice.

If you have a chip on your shoulder, leave it there. If you don't, get one.

The fact that Pope Francis and the bad guys from Windswept House hate what we do should only embolden us further.

And unless your bishop is one of those ignoring the directives of the Motu Proprio and its evil update, let him know you're a hair trigger-pull away from writing every check you make out in the name of your pastor with a note in the memo reading "Snow Plow Fund" or "Major Repairs." And when you do give, keep in mind that you're a nervous bureaucrat's pen stroke away from having  your parish and community destroyed.

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One particular section of Roche's Dubia response reveals much about their motivation: they allow a parish church to substitute for the TLM "when it is not possible to find a church." But, they stipulate, the "celebration should not be included in the parish Mass schedule, since it is attended only by the faithful who are members of the said group."

It clarifies further that the "provisions are to "remind [the faithful] that this is a concession to provide for their good… and not an opportunity to promote the previous rite."

They are afraid of us.

This means, quite obviously, that we should keep promoting the TLM more than ever. Invite family members to see their nephews and grandsons serve. Take photos, and use every social media outlet we have at our disposal. We have the Modernists on their heels, and all of the momentum is on our side. Our enemies know that they can't promote their Mass the way that we can, ours. They know that their days are numbered. Their Novus Ordo funerals might very well double as funerals for the Novus Ordo itself.

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Roche's explanatory note tells us what we already knew implicitly – beauty is like kryptonite to these philistines. We have the high altars, the columns of altar boys in their smart cassocks and surplices, the magnificent vestments made with love. We have Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium and gold patens. When confronted with Pope Francis' trademark scowl, we answer with my eldest son's freckled expression of pride as he finally achieves his promotion to Thurifer. Ours is the Church ancient and enduring. Theirs is in decline. Assail them with beauty and truth. They will be converted or lose their relevance.

But don't ever, ever, think you will please God by showing them how meekly you're willing to whimper as they beat you. The Holy Mass gives glory to Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins. We don't imitate Him by being complicit in its destruction. Rather, we must drive the moneychangers out of the temple and overturn their tables (John 2:15).

This is how our forefathers endured the abuse of the 1970s and passed down to us the Latin Mass. They didn't lay down and grovel. They fought like men of God.

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On April 12, 1977, Parisian traditionalists got sick of worshipping in the community hall the petty New Church bureaucrats relegated to them for the celebration of their banned Mass. So they did what any decent, God-fearing Catholics should – they processed into the church of St. Nicholas with priests, occupied it, and stayed there. Every living Trad should know by heart the exchange that occurred between the parish clergyman of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet and one of the occupying priests.

'By what right do you come here?' asked one of the parish clergy.

'We come,' replied Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget… 'In Nomine Domini.'[1]

When the police were called by the conciliar priests to expel the invaders, the police showed that they knew more about liturgy than the Congregation for Divine Worship does today. The police did nothing because, as they told the Novus Ordo priests about the Trads: "They're saying Mass and praying, that's what a church is for!"

They also displayed that they were inhabiting a more Catholic, and less officious France, when a group of progressive clergy went to a police precinct to complain about the takeover. Requesting to speak with the officer in charge they were told he was unavailable, as he was attending Latin Mass at St. Nicholas.

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If you're a traditionalist Catholic and think these early Trads went too far, consider for a moment how much of your hard-earned money, time and love you've given to your own parish community. Then consider the fact that it was because of all this righteous "disobedience" that our forefathers fought to pass down the Latin Mass that you now enjoy. They fought and were vindicated by the popes after Paul VI. They fought so hard that the popes were forced to reckon with them and give them the Latin Mass. It is only due to their fight that you have the Latin Mass at all. If you grovel now, our children will be deprived of what is rightfully theirs – the ancient Roman Rite of all the saints and doctors.

Think of our fathers. Think of your children. And fight like a man.

Deus Vult!

Photo by Alison Girone, used with permission. 

[1] Michael Davies, The Remnant Newspaper, April 30 1977

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Anglican Orders

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Anglican Orders

Anglican Orders

  Since there have been some meetings in Rome in which a call has been made for 'Rome' to reconsider the matter of Anglican Orders, perhaps I might offer one or two remarks.

Firstly: I suspect the motives of those involved. Possibly, some of them hope to set aside the negative judgement of S John Paul about the 'ordination' of women. Because, believe me, if Rome were suddenly to say "OK; we accept male Anglican priests" the discrimination involved in this would cause a great wave of anti-Roman animus in Anglicanism which would trump even the anti-Romanism of the 1500s. 

So this iniative is probably an oblique move to subvert the Church's teaching on the impossibility of women validly receiving the Sacrament of Order.

Secondly: since Anglicans officially (see below) accept the equivalence of their ministries with those of the Protestant ecclesial bodies, it would be illogical for the Catholic Church to accept Anglican Orders while continuing to reject the ministries of Protestant ecclesial bodies.

So this initiative is probably an oblique way of subverting the entire teaching of the Catholic Tradition on the Sacrament of Holy Order.

Thirdly: We need to recall exactly where we currently are in regard to Anglican Orders.

(1) It was the view of pope Leo XIII that Anglican Orders were null and void, in the sense that they were not identical with the sacerdotal Orders which the Church considers herself to inherit from the Apostles. That is still the official juridical view of the Catholic Church.

(2) What is often not noticed is that this is also now the view of the Church of England.  Since the 1990s, the Church of England has entered into formal relationships with ecclesial bodies which undoubtedly lack Catholic Orders. The 'Porvoo' arrangement inserts her into the Porvoo Communion in which, even where there is a quasi-episcopal structure, that 'episcopate', in Norway and Denmark, can make no claim to Apostolic Succession (as Professor Tighe has demonstrated, the same is almost certainly true even of the Swedish Church, of which more optimistic judgements had previously been officially made by the Church of England). And ordinations in Scandinavia are not exclusively performed by Bishops (but sometimes by cathedral deans). (It is also worth looking at the published text of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, in which, instead of even a perfunctory attempt to show that the Methodists believe the same as Anglicans about Holy Order, there is ... believe it or not!! ... a cheerful assurance for Methodists that Anglicans don't believe anything different from what Methodist legal documents teach in their careful repudiation of a sacerdotal priesthood!)

(3) Faced with a very similar threat in the 1940s (at that time, the threat was posed by the 'CSI', a proposed pan-Protestant body called the Church of South India), Dom Gregory Dix, a robust defender of the validity of Anglican Orders, wrote: "As regards the question of Orders, what these proposals amount to is an official Anglican admission that Pope Leo XIII was right after all in his fundamental contention in Apostolicae Curae. In spite of face-saving phrases about 'the Apostolic Ministry' and the future confining of the act of Ordaining to men styled 'Bishops' [in fact, the Porvoo Scandinavians did not even undertake this], we would be committed to a formal declaration that by 'Bishops, Priests, and Deacons' could be meant only the new sixteenth-century conception of the Ministry disguised under the old titles ... And, whether we like it or not, that would be to justify Leo XIII in the teeth of all our own past history. Thus, if these proposals were to be put into practice, the whole ground for believing in the the Church of England which I have outlined would have ceased to exist ... "

(4) The other major Anglican theologian who mounted a persuasive defence of Anglican Orders was Dr Eric Mascall. He wrote: "When the preface to the Anglican ordinal declared that its purpose was the continuation of the threefold ministry which had existed 'from the Apostles' time', it was pointing to a concrete recognisable entity ... there was a lot to be said for avoiding theoretical statements ... and for pointing instead to the concrete reality which it was intended to perpetuate ... To the question 'what does ordination effect?' the fundamental answer is given ... by pointing to priests. ... defining it by telling you where it is and inviting you to go and look at it."

Well, the Church of England has, since the 1990s, certainly made quite a business of pointing to concrete realities and defining her views on priesthood by telling us where it is and inviting us to go and look at it. And where her formal, synodical pointing finger points to is to Denmark and Norway and Sweden.

(5) But Scandinavia is a long, long, long way ... well, perhaps not so very far away. But Scotland is undoubtedly even closer. And the "Columba agreement" ...  We all know how "Columba" will end: another of these concordats the essential meaning of which will be that Anglican priests are identical to Protestant ministers; that an ecclesial body without an episcopal polity is no less "Church" than a body that thinks it has one. The Church of England has been saying this, ever more often, with greater force, and with regard to geographically closer or more significant bodies, ever since the poor little Jerusalem Bishopric so upset S John Henry Newman ... through South India in the 1950s ... and Scandinavia in the 1990s. How many times does the C of E have to say the same thing before those of its members who call themselves "Catholics" realise that it really does mean what it keeps on and on saying?


Porvoo, not the ordination of women, was the point at which I realised that the Church of England was not a body in which I could have a permanent home; after that, the practical question was simply how to get out, acting corporately rather than as an individual; a question so graciously answered by Benedict XVI.  

The Church of England officially agrees with the judgment that Leo XIII made, that its orders are no different from the orders of all the Protestant bodies. Those who retain a Catholic doctrine of Holy Order, and still remain in the Church of England, can only do so by saying that the Church of England, and Leo XIII, were both wrong; and that "I understand Catholic teaching about Sacramental validity better than did Leo XIII; and, although the C of E says that its ministry is equivalent to Protestant ministries, I know better."

Logically tenable ... but what a very uncomfortably ego contra mundum position to hold! I know, because I've been there!