Saturday, May 27, 2017

YouTube Video from Roger Buck

Having read two books by Roger Buck, and had some email correspondance with him, it is rather interesting to see him in the flesh, so to speak, on video, for the first time.

My posts about his books:

The lovely Gentle Traditionalist, suitable for non-Trads and indeed non-Catholic readers.

The longer Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Restored, detailed critique of the New Age, partly autobiographical, and a plea for the restoration of Europe.



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eucharisticum Mysterium: blog post for the Catholic Herald

The Catholic Herald has published a post of mine on the 50th anniversary of one of the documents preparing the way for the Novus Ordo Missae. The highlight of the document is the evolving attitude to concelebration.

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Simultaneous Low Mass at the LMS Priest Training Conference in Prior Park, 

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, signed by both the Prefect of the soon-to-be abolished Sacred Congregation of Rites, and the President of the Concilium, the temporary institution in charge of the liturgical reform. It now represents a fascinating snapshot of a fast-moving action sequence.

Go there to read it.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New book on the Third Secret of Fatima

Kevin Symonds, whose book on the composition of the Prayer to St Michael I recommended on this blog back in 2015, has written another careful, thorough, and sober study of a subject surrounded by conjecture: the 'Third Secret' of Fatima.

Get it from Amazon.co.uk

I've provided a publicity-blurb for it as follows:

Symonds has done a very thorough job in getting to the bottom–insofar as it is possible–of the various confusions and conspiracy theories on the subject of the Third Secret, making a compelling case that what the Vatican published in 2000 was the whole text of it as written by Sr Lucia. No doubt the debate will continue, but the clarity and intellectual honesty of Symonds’ work, with copious reference to the relevant sources in their original languages, will be of enormous assistance for scholars in the future who wish to understand this tangled affair. –Dr. Joseph Shaw

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SSPX ordinations: with permission from the Holy See


Update: there's an amusing exchange in Fr Z's comment box on this. Fr Z quotes Archbishop Pozzo of the PCED that SSPX priestly ordinations are something they 'permit and tolerate' but which are still regarded as 'valid but illicit'. But, really, that doesn't make sense. If they are permitted, they are licit. The word 'licit' simply means 'permitted': any dictionary will tell you that.

Of course these are crazy times. And anyway I'm happy if Rome wants to make some concession now ('permit and tolerate') while allowing itself to make another, at least on paper ('make licit') at some future date. It is all part of a process, after all.

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This is really wonderful news: Bishop Fellay, Superior of the Society of St Pius X, has said (h/t Rorate Caeli) that he recieved a letter from the Holy See last year telling him that he could continue with priestly ordinations, without needing permission from the local bishop. This is a move I noted as a possible 'next step' after those involving confession and marriages in my 'Chairman's Message' in the latest Mass of Ages, which I reproduce below.

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Not for the first time in the present pontificate, the Catholic media is abuzz with the possibility that the Society of Pope Pius X (SSPX) will be ‘reconciled’ to the Holy See: which is to say, that it would gain official canonical status. On a previous occasion, when asked for comments by Catholic journalists, I told them to calm down: my view was that it wasn’t about to happen, because of the issue of mutual trust. I was correct, then, but things have continued to develop. The ‘jurisdiction’ needed for priests to hear confessions validly, outside an emergency situation, was granted to the SSPX for the ‘Year of Mercy’, and when that year came to an end this jurisdiction was granted permanently. Now provisions have been made in relation to weddings celebrated by SSPX priests, so that there need not be any doubt about their validity either. These arrangements give the SSPX privileges, such as jurisdiction to hear confessions given directly from the Pope, enjoyed by no other religious institute.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mass of Ages: Summer 2017 edition published


If your local church doesn't have copies, get one by post here.

Bishop Schneider on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.

James Bogle on the Emperor, Bl Charles of Austria.

Plus: Antonia Robinson, LMS Committee Member and Local Representative for Thanet, introduces the LMS Family Contact Register.

Joseph Shaw, LMS Chairman, introduces us to ‘a real devotional object’: the Easter Garden
Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, issues the cry “Muster the Legions!” as he commemorates the tenth anniversary of the international prayer network for vocations: The Confraternity of St Peter.
Paul Waddington, LMS Treasurer and Local Representative for Middlebrough, visits the church of the Sacred Heart in Caterham.
Matthew Schellhorn, LMS Director of Music for London, reveals how he approached planning and selecting the music for the celebration of the Triduum Sacrum this year.
Alberto Carosa reports on the recent gathering of musicians in Rome to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Musicam Sacram.
Our regular columnists:
• The Lone Veiler with some words of wisdom from St Augustine
• Caroline Shaw looks at a pilgrim’s souvenir from the 16th Century: The miraculous bleeding Host of Dijon
• Fr Bede Row asks, “Do we still believe in marriage?”
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Who are Pope Francis' 'rigid Catholics'?

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Crush not the spirit. From the Rosary Walk
at Pantasaph, the Franciscan Retreat Centre
in North Wales.

Whenever Pope Francis talks about 'pharisees', 'rigid' Catholics and the like there is a speculation about whom he really means. Some of the things he says, which seem to concern liturgical issues, are interpreted as directed at Traditional Catholics, though as I have pointed out many are in fact explicitly targeted at the 'Reform of the Reform' movement. More general remarks about 'rigidity' in outlook may seem to be about anyone with a traditional understanding of the moral demands of the Gospel, given the background issue of marriage and divorce, but I think we should not be too quick to assume that the Holy Father is talking about common-or-garden traditionally-minded Catholics. There are after all other groups in the Church which may loom somewhat larger in his field of vision, and have no connection with the Traditional Mass.

How would we describe, for example, the atmosphere of the Legionaires of Christ under their founder, the manipulative, corrupt, and sexually abusive Marcial Maciel Degollado? 'Rigidity' is not a bad term, even if it hardly gets to the root of the problem. Other groups in the Church have reputations, rightly or wrongly, which place them, on the 'rigidity' scale, a long way way from, say, the post-Conciliar Jesuits. Pope Francis has some interesting things to say to them.

The NeoCatechumenal Way. There has been some strong opposition to the NCW from Latin American bishops in the past, so it is interesting to know what Pope Francis has to say. It has long had official favour in Rome; most recently Pope Benedict (corrected: not, of course, Pope Francis), in 2011, effectively forced the bishops of Japan to let them in. But as John Allen has discussed an audience Pope Francis held with members of the Neocatechumiate in early 2014 included some pointed advice:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ann Furedi in Oxford


The Birmingham March for Life is on Saturday: see the full details of the day's event here. The march itself is from 2pm but the day starts with Masses and talks from 9am. It's huge and important; please go if you can.

I'm reposting below my comments from November 2013 on Ann Furedi's talk in support of abortion which took place in Oxford.

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Last night I attended a debate organised by Oxford Students for Life. They invited Ann Furedi, head of the country's biggest abortion provider, BPAS; she was opposed by Sarah de Nordwall. I was very impressed, with my experience of abortion debates in the Oxford Union, at the good natured and rational quality of the discussions; this is a great credit to the organisers and their supporters (pro-abortion students were also present, in smaller numbers). It was a nice demonstration, in fact, that the hysteria in the abortion debate does not, in the main, come from pro-lifers, despite the strength of feeling on their side of the debate.

I was impressed by Sarah de Nordwall, particularly in the way she handled hostile questions. This blog post, however, which I promised Sarah I would write, is about what Ann Furedi had to say.

Furedi was witty and articulate. She made a number of very interesting concessions at an early stage which helpfully closed off a number of dead-ends for the discussion. She reminded us, for example, that there is no legal right to abortion in English law. Something else very interesting which she said is that until 1990 there was no time-limit on abortions in Scotland, but there were no more late-term abortions there than in England before then. Her point was that women don't want late-term abortions. Pro-lifers may need to consider the efficacy of time-limit legislation as a means to reduce abortion numbers.

Sarah de Nordwall surrounded by Dominicans
Furedi's argument for a moral right to abortion turned on two ideas. The first was that moral personhood is assocatiated with functional attributes, such as self-consciousness. As the debate went on she seemed to back away from this idea somewhat; she didn't want to draw the conclusion, for example, that infanticide was permissible. So her argument came to rely exclusively on the second idea, which is that for a pregnant woman a moral right to abortion followed from her right to 'bodily integrity'. Actually I think 'bodily self-determination' might be a better term for her intuition here. What happens inside a body, in effect, should be up the owner of the body.

I felt that this argument should have come under more pressure in the debate, and I offer here some objections to it.

1. The argument appears to generate the conclusions Furedi wants only if the distinct existence and bodily integrity of the fetus is ignored. Given that the fetus has his own body, that brings something else into the equation which needs to be taken into consideration. What right has a women to interfere with another person's body? Furedi appears to think 'none' if the woman is a pro-life activist taking an interest in the fate of a woman considering an abortion (a point she made a number of times), but if the woman is a pregnant mother it appears to be quite different in relation to her unborn child. The first point noted above was designed I suppose to deal with this, but as Furedi conceded it cannot bear the argumentative weight: just because a human can't talk doesn't take away a moral status he would otherwise have. This being so, Furedi's argument seems to defeat itself: if we have the right to bodily self-determination, then the fetus' right would prevent the mother from aborting.

The responses Furedi made to this kind of point consisted of insisting on the lesser moral status of the fetus. Although she wasn't able to make a principled argument for this, she seemed to think it was sufficiently obvious, even while conceding that a fetus has value - more, as she put it, than a goldfish or a cat. But given that the fetus' life is at stake, and the mother's is not, to say that the fetus weighs less in the scales of value is not enough. I might be obliged to suffer a lot of inconvenience to save the life of, say, a whale, a colony of rare bats, or, come to that, to ensure the continued existence of an historic building.

Ann Furedi
2. The principle of radical bodily self-determination, which Furedi needs, is not plausible, and is not applied in law or in common-sense moral thinking. Examples which show this are suicide and body-integrity disorder. No one has the moral right to commit suicide, which is why we all think that it is permissible for bystanders to save a would-be suicide from (say) drowning, or talk him off the window ledge. (The Samaritans even abandon their normal 'non-directive' counselling for prospective suicides.) Those suffering from body-integrity disorder, who want healthy limbs amputated, do not have the right to undergo the amputations, indeed it would be wrong for a doctor to carry out their wishes. These cases do not even involve the agents directly harming other parties, so a fortiori it cannot be concluded from our intuition that people are 'in charge of their own bodies', that a mother can harm a fetus enclosed inside her body. Yes, we say casually that we can do what we like with our bodies, but the principle here is a weak one. It may include body-piercing, but it doesn't even extend to experimenting with hard drugs, let alone anything more dramatic or irreversible.

A wider point is about people being (morally) the best judges of their own interests. The statute books are bursting with laws to prevent people making stupid decisions on the basis of what they imagine are their best interests. Everything from building regulations to tobacco duty acknowledges that the law has a role in guiding rational, grown-up and autonomous decision-makers away from bad decisions.

3. Furedi conceded that some women think of abortion in a moment of confusion and panic, and being better-informed or just a bit calmer they may well change their minds. She also conceded that many women are under intense social pressure to abort baby girls. She appealed to the case of the women who are cool, calm, and collected, and decide rationally to go through with it as being in their best interests. I would have liked to have asked, in light of this, whether making abortion easier, legally or practically, is in the best interests of women overall. It certainly isn't in the interests of the first kinds of cases, who are more likely to do something they later regret, and are easier for others to bully, the easier abortion is to arrange. Even supposing the cool, calm ones are right about their interests (see point two), it is far from clear that this means that a situation should be perpetuated in which many, many others end up being violated in the most horrible way, when they cave in to pressure to have an abortion which they do not want.

Again, compare the case with drugs. Drug users constantly tell us that, in the immortal phrase, 'they can handle it'. Suppose they can - suppose it is true that a certain proportion of users can genuinely derive pleasure from hard drugs without it destroying their lives. As an argument for de-criminalisation this is extremely weak, because everyone can see the drugs users who clearly can't handle it, and making drugs more widely available will cause terrible harm to people in that category.

These parallels are not exact. It is for the pro-abortion advocates to explain, however, what is the principled basis of a moral right to abortion, and why such principles don't lead to counter-intuitive results when applied to other cases.