Saturday, September 23, 2017

With profound grief... A filial correction.

St Catherine of Siena before Pope Gregory XI
Update: to add your name (the public list will be moderated, i.e. we are looking especially for signatories with academic qualifications etc.) please email

or go to to support the petition.

With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.

We are permitted to issue this correction by natural law, by the law of Christ, and by the law of the Church, which three things Your Holiness has been appointed by divine providence to guard.

By natural law: for as subjects have by nature a duty to obey their superiors in all lawful things, so they have a right to be governed according to law, and therefore to insist, where need be, that their superiors so govern. 

By the law of Christ: for His Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to rebuke Peter in public when the latter did not act according to the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2). St Thomas Aquinas notes that this public rebuke from a subject to a superior was licit on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith (Summa Theologiae 2a 2ae, 33, 4 ad 2), and ‘the gloss of St Augustine’ adds that on this occasion, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects” (ibid.). 

The law of the Church also constrains us, since it states that “Christ’s faithful . . . have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence, and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church” (Code of Canon Law 212:2-3; Code of Canons of Oriental Churches 15:3).

I am a signatory of the document which begins with these words, and also its spokesman. You can read the full text on Rorate Caeli, and on a specially made website, [corrected]. See also 1Peter5's commentary.

The document is signed by 62 people, Catholic academics and pastors, from 20 countries. It expresses, in technical theological language, the concern that, while Amoris laetitia itself may be open to an interpretation in line with the previous teaching of the Church, various informal indications, which appear to be favoured by Pope Francis himself, point to an interpretation not in line with that teaching.

Either the new view is wrong, or the old one is. There has in fact been no attempt to promulgate the new view magisterially - that is from the Holy Father himself, clearly, and in an authoritative format, such as a formal document - since Amoris laetitia itself. It would seem, in any case, that such an attempt could not be successful, in the sense of creating an obligation on Catholics to assent to this new view, because the old view expressed the Ordinary Magisterium, based on Scripture, and this teaching cannot be changed. In short, it seems to me that the new view which has been suggested and insinuated is incompatible with the Faith.

That does not mean that the Pope is a heretic. There is a wide gap between appearing to favour a view which is objectively contrary to the faith, and being a heretic, one part of which is the knowledge and intentions of the person concerned, and another part of which is the judgement of that person by a competent superior. We cannot ascertain the former, and as for the latter, in the law of the Church, the Pope has no superior. Judgment of the Pope's culpability or personal state has absolutely no place in this project.

What we can do, and are doing, is simply pointing out that the view being insinuated is not the Catholic faith, as we are able to understand it. In such a case, where the stakes are so high, it seems to us an obligation to discharge our consciences to the Holy Father himself, privately, as we did a month and more ago. And then, in the absence of a response, to manifest our concerns to the Catholic public at large.

This does not mean that I think I am or the petitioners as a group are infallible. It just means that I feel I must manifest my view. It is for those with teaching authority to address our concerns, to make clear what is unclear, and to show us, if necessary, where we have gone wrong. Any document like this, within the Church, is designed to stimulate the exercise of the magisterium, not to undermine or replace it.

Posted on the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, and of Walsingham.
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

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LMS Pilgrimage to Glastonbury


This year I was able to get to the Latin Mass Society's longstanding pilgrimage to Glastonbury, one of the ancient holy places of Europe. It generally takes place on the first Saturday of September.

A Sung Mass was celebrated by Fr Philip Thomas. By coincidence, it has been announced that another priest of Clifton who has done much for the Traditional Mass, Fr Bede Rowe, will be taking over as Parish Priest of Glastonbury.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cardinal Sarah's proposed reform of the Traditional Mass

In addressing the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome last weekend, with many very fine and important things to say, on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Cardinal Sarah acknowledged the response to his earlier remarks on the subject of ‘reconciling’ the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. 

In July I spoke of a possible future reconciliation between the two forms of the Roman rite. Some have interpreted this expression of personal opinion as the announcement of a programme that would end up in the future imposition of a hybrid rite which would bring about a compromise that would leave everybody unhappy and would abolish the usus antiquior by stealth, as it were. This interpretation is absolutely not what I intended. What I do wish to do is to encourage further thought and study on these questions in peace and tranquillity and in a spirit of prayerful discernment. There are improvements which can be made to both forms of the Roman rite in use today, and both forms can contribute to this in due course.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Traditional Mass and Ecclesiology

I'm reposting this again because the general issue of obedience to casual words of the reigning Pope is current again, and also because this incident is recounted in Leo Darroch's book on the history of the FIUV which was launched in Rome on Sunday, and is available to buy here.

Basil Loftus has circled back to his story about Cardinal Benelli in his latest column in the Catholic Times, so I thought I'd repost this response to it from April 2016

Giovanni, Cardinal Benelli

Thanks to the archives of the FIUV, I can shed some light on something mentioned by Mgr Basil Loftus in a column I discussed the other day. He'd picked up the claim that Cardinal Benelli had once said to the President of the Una Voce Federation (FIUV), Dr Eric de Savanthem, that there was a connection between the Traditional Mass and ecclesiology. (Contrary to Loftus, Benelli was actually made a cardinal the year after this meeting, in 1977.)

I noted that Lofus didn't cite a source for this: when one realises what his source is, it is easy to see why he'd rather his readers didn't know. Here is a longer extract: I've emboldened the words quoted verbatim by Loftus to the hapless readers of the Catholic Times on 27th March.

When the President of Una Voce at an interview with Archbishop (now Cardinal) Benelli in Rome in October 1976, pointed out the existing liturgical chaos and asked how, in view of this state of things, the suppression of the old Mass could be justified, he was told that “those who wish to retain the old Mass have a different ecclesiology.” This from one of the closest advisors of the then Pope; it meant that those who were faithful to Catholic tradition were now to be treated as dissidents. The phrase quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus (“What has been believed always, everywhere, and by all”) as a criterion of orthodoxy bad now been rejected in favor of a new Party Line which contradicted the Church’s entire previous tradition. What was forbidden and condemned yesterday becomes lawful today, and mandatory tomorrow. What had always been seen as black, is now white, and vice versa─because the Party says so. This comes close to the Bolshevik criterion of morality: what is right or wrong is simply what helps or hinders the Party.(Source: SSPX USA District)

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Council elected by Una Voce International

I attended the 'closed' or business meeting of Una Voce International - the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, FIUV - which takes place every two years and elects (or re-elects) the organisation's officers and Council.

Like most voluntary organisations, the FIUV is never overwhelmed by people wanting to take on positions of responsibility. We are very grateful to Felipe Alanis Suarez (from Mexico) for agreeing to do another term as President, and to Monika Rheinsmitt for carrying on as Treasurer. I agreed to be Secretary, a post I have not undertaken before. (I was Treasurer 2013-'15.)

Apart from the usual and, often in their most interesting aspects, confidential contact with the Curia, and the development of the organisation (such as the admission of new members), the big news of this year's General Assembly is the publication of the history of the FIUV by Leo Darroch, from the beginning (1965) up to the resignation of Michael Davies as President in 2002. It is a substantial work and I'll be writing reviews of it in various formats soon: buy it from the LMS bookshop here.

Here is the full list of Officers an pd Council members of the FIUV

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Photos from Walsingham, Part 3

After Mass in the Reconciliation Chapel, we walked in procession down the Holy Mile, the last mile to the site of the Medieval shrine, destroyed at the Reformation.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Photos from Walsingham, Part 2

On Saturday, we stop at the ruins of Castle Acre Priory, and say the De Profundis.



On Saturday evening, at our evening stop of Great Massingham, we were visited by Bishop Alan Hopes, who is of course the lcoal Ordinary: Bishop of East Anglia.