29 August 2007

Archbishop Nichols - Three Cheers?

Fr Ray posts the text of Abp Nichols' sermon at the Merton College training session for priests wishing to learn to use the Extraordinary Rite.

Everything the Archbishop says about the Mass is true, and it is wonderful to see a member of the Hierarchy in England and Wales speaking so eloquently about the Mass.

"I’m sure many of you recall, as I do, the lovely image of the priest at Mass raising the consecrated host and seeing, just above it, the figure of the crucified Lord. This picture hung on my bedroom wall. It helped to form my faith. It is, I believe, always helpful for the eye to move easily from the elevated host or chalice to an image of the crucifix. That juxtaposition teaches us, through eye and imagination, the reality of what is taking place."

But ...

am I alone in discerning a bit of a tone?

"The Missal of Pope John XXIII will remain the extraordinary form of the celebration of the Mass, for, as Pope Benedict says, its use ‘presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.’ And the decision of the Church was that, for general use, it needed to be revised. But there are truths of which it can still remind us and it has treasures and consolation to offer."


"The celebrant, acting in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church, needs to ensure that his actions enable the souls in his care to participate in this saving mystery, to take part in each of its steps. This participation has to be profound, spiritual, informed by understanding – an active participation and not passive, not ‘leaving it to the priest to celebrate the Mass for us.’"

I'm not convinced that the message has got through.

There is not a single word to disagree with, (sound Eucharistic theology, thank God!) but there is a sense that the Extraordinary Rite is a relic, that the young priests who are learning it are perhaps being a bit exquisite, that without a greater amount of study by both priest and people than many of us think the Pope intended, the Extraordinary Rite will not be acceptable.

It may be, of course, that I am too suspicious; and it's very likely that I'm wrong! But Archbishop Nichols' opportunity to unite the two Uses of the Roman Rite has not produced anything that looks to me like a wholehearted welcome: more an acceptance in words which seem to accept grudgingly a new reality which he would have preferred not to have come about.

27 August 2007

A Festival with a Difference

Greenbelt is not for people like us. It is an Evangelical Rock and Worship Festival.

However, a text from a colleague who is attending has alerted me to something that might make any of us stop and take notice. This year, there is a beer tent, in which people (well, men) spend their time drinking beer and bellowing out hymns. And guess what: all the hymns they bellow out are traditional ones. The text doesn't say whether there is a tape to sing along to, or whether there are hymn books, or whether the drinkers are just blessed with fine memories. The fact that the texter is into the folk scene in a big way suggests to me that this is people singing what they know and what works when people sing, which means traditional tunes which everybody knows.

This (I texted back) is very Catholic. Pre-Reformation, the Parish Ale would have been brewed every time there was a feast day. Post-Reformation, the connection between drinking and celebrating God's Glory is still there, though much stronger among Catholic Christians than elsewhere.

I also suggested that, on being furnished with proof that this is as good as it sounds, I might, just might, be tempted along to a tent evening next year.

26 August 2007

A Book for a Sunday Afternoon in the Garden

I have just finished Fr Nicholas Schofield and Fr Gerard Skinner's excellent book on the English Cardinals. Can I recommend it most heartily to anybody who wants an overview of the History of Catholicism in England (and Wales, though only slightly). A short biography of each Cardinal as a way of fixing a piece of time into its context was a wonderful idea.
(Were they interested, I would like to give the two Fathers some advice about how to make the second, revised, edition longer, by asking them to answer all the questions they raised in my mind. I suspect their answer might be for me to do a bit of the work for myself.)
The perfect Christmas present for any Catholic who has the slightest interest in history: once the book is open, its unputdownable.
And now the children have finished their tea, it's back out there to get to grips with Alastair Campbell's diaries. I've been dipping in and out since the book arrived from Amazon, but I was good, and read the book about the Cardinals first.
And on its way from America is the Worlock Archive, Clifford Longley's mining of the archive left by the late Archbishop. Don't worry: I will read this in the same spirit as British Staff Officers read Clausewitz, or Conservative philosophers read Das Kapital. It is only by understanding the ideas which inspire our opponents that we will have chance of undermining and defeating them.

25 August 2007

How bad can things get?

Well ... try this at Catholic Conservation, courtesy of Carpe Canem.

Bishop Hollis was born on 17 November 1936: that means only four years two months and some days to go.

Poor old Pompey - even poorer old Basingstoke.

21 August 2007

Fork Handles - Another Rumour

Which Auxiliary Bishop is set to celebrate the Extraordinary Rite, at least in his private Masses after 14 September? Who is it that members of the Bishops' Conference are accusing of careerism?

Bishop Arnold of Westminster in to celebrate Confirmation in the Extraordinary Rite in November, but rumour has it that an Auxiliary outside London seems to be ready to "come out" as an Extraordinarilist.

Does anybody know who?

That book - more news

If you go to the website of the organisation which published it, you get the following message:
Caritas - Social Action
We apologise for the limited information available on this page.
Caritas - social action's new website is currently under construction.
Caritas - social action is the umbrella organisation for Catholic social care organisations working within England and Wales. We are an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and part of Caritas International.
Please feel free to contact us on 020 7901 4875 or email
If your require more information on the Catholic Church in England and Wales please go to www.catholicchurch.org.uk Or, if you would like more information on international development issues please go to www.cafod.org.uk
So, if there is any question about whether or not Caritas' activities are a responsibility of the Bishops' Conference or not, just look at their e-mail address.
And CAFOD, unsurprisingly to me at least, gets drawn in as well. Not that CAFOD and Caritas are singing off the same hymn sheet, you understand: it's just that if you want to know what Caritas thinks, while it's off the air, then CAFOD's the place to go.
This stinks: it stinks to high heaven, indeed, to High Heaven. A follow-up letter to Cardinal Re seems in order.

18 August 2007

I'm sure someone will tell me I'm wrong, but ...

... I have come to the conclusion that the Holy Father, in publishing Summorum Pontifcum, has launched a coup d'etat against the liberality of some Bishops, and is trusting priests to undo some of the mischief which the Bishops have been responsible for.

Reading the blog of Fr Z (whom God preserve!) has been instructive recently: lots of Bishops trying to interpret what the Pope must have meant when he issued his Motu Proprio and concluding that they can still dictate what Use will be used once we reach 14 September, in spite of what the words on paper actually say.

But the Pope absolutely and categorically returned this choice to the priests. the Bishops have no right to stop a suitably qualified (idoneus) priest from saying his private Mass according to the form he wishes. He cannot stop the faithful from asking for, and in consequence receiving, the Extraordinary Rite.

The Bishops are rebuked for allowing men to be ordained whose Latin is not up to celebrating Mass (in either Use) in Latin. They have not fulfilled their obligation, as Heads of Local Churches, to ensure that Men are sent to seminaries where they can be properly formed as priests of the Roman Rite. In short, they can no longer be trusted, in matters liturgical, to maintain the communion with Rome which is an intrinsic mark of dioceses in the Roman Church. So they have been bypassed, and Oh! how they hate it.

The next eighteen months are likely to be ugly, at least in parts of the English-speaking world. What will happen when a priest is forbidden or prevented by his Ordinary from celebrating the Extraordinary form of the Mass? We can be confident about Rome's reaction, but the potential for grave scandal is there.

But I think we'll miss it in England and Wales, at least initially. I understand that Bishops have been advised not to get involved in any public way: the Eccleston Square view is that the less publicity given to the priests who start using the Extraordinary Rite, the less will be the demand from the laity to have access to it. But they have no plan to cope with a situation in which a significant number of priests start celebrating the Mass traditionally, because they are confident that it just won't happen. They are irritated by the Motu Proprio, and make jokes about German Shepherds barking a lot, and being vicious when provoked, but are so confident that their conception of the Church is the right one that they can't imagine anything else.

How they might react to what they might think of as mutiny is yet to be seen. We are living in interesting times.

16 August 2007

Archbishop Conti

Wasn't Archbishop Conti the Bishop who celebrated the Sarum Use in Aberdeen (forgetting that Aberdeen had its own Use, and that it was probably the first time that the Sarum use had ever been celebrated there).

Fr Z (whom God preserve) suggests that the Archbishop is setting stringent conditions in an Ad Clerum to his priests, so stringent that he might actually be instructing his priests to ignore the Pope's Motu Proprio?

Are we in light blue button down shirt territory again?

14 August 2007

A feeble Archbishop

According to the Telegraph, the Headmaster of the Catholic primary School in Liverpool who has had a Civil Union with another man can't be sacked for legal reasons.

Yes he can. He can be sacked tomorrow. If he goes to an Employment Tribunal, he'll probably win. Then he'll have to be paid off. Or, if an order was made for reinstatement, the Archbishop could refuse and go to prison. Or he could close the school down; now: just before the start of term (and go to prison).

But that would mean Archbishop Kelly standing up for what the Church believes in instead of kowtowing to the state.

Does anyone have a photo of him, tieless, in smart casual, button-down collar, preferably very pale blue shirt?

How many people know that the solution to the problem of how the Liturgy is celebrated in joint Anglican/Catholic schools in Liverpool?

They don't have any.

I'd like to thank Fr Dwight for the link, but will merely tip my hat, in the circumstances.

13 August 2007

What happens when you do one of Jeffrey's quizzes

You Are 8% Politically Radical
You're a very traditional person and perhaps a little resistant to change. In a few more years, your beliefs will be so old fashioned that they'll be radical!
You Are 8% Politically Radical
You're a very traditional person and perhaps a little resistant to change. In a few more years, your beliefs will be so old fashioned that they'll be radical!

8% radical? How dare they score me so high! And why do they have to do it twice?

12 August 2007

And so it begins

The first Catholic adoption agency to shut up shop, faced with SORS. I haven't seen comment about this anywhere.

Spot the Bishops!

Courtesy of the Northern Cleric.

Their Lordships the Bishops of Portsmouth, Plymouth and Clifton.

At the Conference at which the photo was taken, there were over twenty different workshops on topics ranging from Youth Ministry to banner making, the person of Christ to the relationship between science and religion.

Banner making? Banner making? Felt, I imagine.

There are those who believe that these three Bishops represent the future of the Church in England and Wales ...

... and then there are those who don't.

11 August 2007

More on how to protest! And we need a leader

Two separate messages lead me to suggest that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who is in charge of the Congregation for Bishops, is the man to complain to (as well as the Nuncio and Cardinal Levada, both of whom have formal responsibilities in this regard). I can't find an e-mail address for him, but a written letter, hundreds, thousands of written letters, might be a better way of waking the Vatican up anyway. Contact him at:

Palazzo della Congregazioni,
00193 Roma,
Piazza Pio XII, 10

(Cardinal Levada's address is:

Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11,
00193 Roma)

It is intriguing that both messages referred to two members of the hierarchy whom Cardinal Re has serious concerns about, one of whom has been blogged about as having packed his books ready for Southwark, only to be rudely interrupted when Kevin McDonald received the appointment as Archbishop.

I asked Damian Thompson through his combox to take the lead in rallying Catholics on this subject: he skipped the question. We need a leader, who should be a lay person: we can't have priests attacking Bishops. (We shouldn't need to have lay people attacking Bishops, but the Bishops started it!) Any ideas? Any volunteers with adequate profile?

There is a real opportunity here, though one which I think the Holy Father may have anticipated: we need a new Archbishop of Westminster, and we need one who is not part of the current hierarchy, all of whom reflect the fads of 1970s seminaries.

Once World Youth Day in Sydney is over, can we have Cardinal Pell?

10 August 2007

How to protest about that book

[Your address]

[Your Bishops address] (available from here)

My Lord, (or Dear Bishop Christian Name,)

I have recently read on the Internet that an Agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference has recently published a book called "Catholic Social Justice" which attacks both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and makes statements about the family which are anything but Catholic.

Please may I have your assurance that neither you, nor your brother Bishops have allowed any such thing to happen, and that I might buy this book and read Catholic teaching about social justice.

Humbly at the feet of your Lordship (or Yours Sincerely)

Your Name

Copied to:

Archbishop Sainz Munoz, Apostolic Nuncio
Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

05 August 2007

A Parable

Although Fr Tim, Mac, and Orthfully Catholic were at the Faith Movement Conference, it was Auntie Joanna who spotted how tradition - in fact Tradition - is a unifying force:

"... yesterday evening saw a splendid ceilidh, a vast improvement on the traditional disco. Here, the dancing was lively and continued non-stop until late: a really delightful sight with people quickly getting a grasp of the dance and twirling partners and forming circles and jiggling round the room in terrific style to traditional Scottish music. It was a joy to watch."

I shan't labour the comparison: I don't think I need to. Disco: too much noise and half the people not joining in; ceilidh: room for everybody who wants to do things properly; disco: everybody do your own thing; ceilidh: everybody follow the rubrics.