19 September 2014

Telling It Like It Is

For those who don't speak Spanish, I extract a thought from one of the premier Catholic bloggers in Spain, la cigueña de la torre.

It is no longer a sin for a woman to go to Mass without wearing stockings or for a man to go Mass in shorts, or for a Catholic to call an imbecilic Cardinal an imbecile.  It is still a sin, however, to go to bed with someone who isn't your spouse.

Nice and simple.

14 September 2014

Tweetable text for the Angelus in English and Latin


(This is a simple resource for those who join us from time to time on #twitterangelus to have a tweetable text with which to join in, the mainstay source for such support having been suspended.)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. #twitterangelus #en

Amen. #twitterangelus #en

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary #twitterangelus #en

And she conceived by the Holy Ghost #twitterangelus #en

Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women & blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. #twitterangelus #en

Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen #twitterangelus #en

Behold the handmaid of the Lord #twitterangelus #en

Be it done unto me according to Thy word. #twitterangelus #en

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women & blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. #twitterangelus #en

Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen #twitterangelus #en

And the Word was made flesh #twitterangelus #en

And dwelt amongst us #twitterangelus #en

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women & blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. #twitterangelus #en

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen #twitterangelus #en

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God #twitterangelus #en

That we may be made worthy by the promises of Christ. #twitterangelus #en

Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation #twitterangelus #en

of Christ Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel may by His Passion and Cross be brought #twitterangelus #en

to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord #twitterangelus #en

Amen.   #twitterangelus #en

May the divine assistance remain always with us. #twitterangelus #en

And may the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen. #twitterangelus #en

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost  #twitterangelus #en

Amen     #twitterangelus #en

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. #twitterangelus #la

Amen #twitterangelus #la

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae. #twitterangelus #la

 Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto. #twitterangelus #la

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.  #twitterangelus #la

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. #twitterangelus #la

Ecce ancilla Domini, #twitterangelus #la
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum. #twitterangelus #la

Ave Maria gratia plena  Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. #twitterangelus #la

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. #twitterangelus #la

Et Verbum caro factum est, #twitterangelus #la
Et habitavit in nobis. #twitterangelus #la

Ave Maria, gratia plena Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. #twitterangelus #la

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae Amen. #twitterangelus #la

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genetrix, #twitterangelus #la
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi. #twitterangelus #la

Oremus. Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde;  #twitterangelus #la

ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem #twitterangelus #la

ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. #twitterangelus #la

Amen. #twitterangelus #la

Divinum auxiliam maneat semper nobiscum #twitterangelus #la

Fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace Amen. #twitterangelus #la

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti #twitterangelus #la

Amen   #twitterangelus #la

09 September 2014

Tuesday 9 September 1862

Today is the first day within the Octave of the Nativity of the BVM, and Mass is straightforward. The priest will wear white, and the three prayers (at each of the Collect, Secret and Postcommunion) will be: first, of the Octave, second of St Gorgonius, and third, of the Holy Ghost. (The feast is a semidouble so there have to be three prayers at each of the three points in the Mass.)

In Liverpool, the schedule at the Oratory of St Philip Neri at 26 Hope St, staffed by the Revv Peter Laverty and Henry Thrower is as follows:

On Sundays, Mass at 8.30 for the Workhouse children, 9.30 for the Women, and at 11 High Mass and Sermon.  Instruction at 3.00 for Workhouse children, and Prayers for them at 4, with Benediction on the first Sunday of the month.  Devotion of Compline of St Philip, Sermon and Benediction on Sunday at 6.30.  On weekdays, Mass at 7 and 8.30, and in the evenings Devotions at 8.  Confessions attended on Tuesday and Friday 7 to 10 pm, and on Saturday 9 to 12 am and 6.30 to 10 pm.  Confraternities: Company of St Philip Neri for young men, and Congregation of Our Blessed Lady for Scholars of the Institute.  Day and evening schools.

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!

09 August 2014

Saturday 9 August 1862

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!

Imagine having too many priests in one diocese!

Look at Fr Bede Rowe's blog.

14 July 2014

Another Straw In The Wind

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". 


"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?

13 July 2014

Straw In The Wind

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.

10 July 2014

Two More Post-Reformation English Chantries

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

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


04 July 2014

On Not Blogging

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.

07 June 2014

The Vigil Of Pentecost

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.

01 June 2014

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

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.

31 May 2014

World Communications Day - What You'll Be Giving To

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.

26 May 2014

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

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.


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.