Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sacred Triduum in Reading

The closest place to Oxford where you can get the Sacred Triduum in the usus antiquior is Reading, where the two priests of the Fraternity of St Peter based there will be joined by a seminarian who is a Sub-Deacon so they will be able to celebrate solemn liturgies.

I will be there - singing! Please join us.

Maundy Thursday

1st April






Solemn High Mass, followed by Adoration at Altar of Repose

Good Friday

2nd April







Solemn Stations of the Cross

Solemn Liturgy

Holy Saturday

3rd April








Solemn Easter Vigil followed by Solemn High Mass

Easter Sunday

4th April



Solemn High Mass

Sung Mass (in Flitwick, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Pope Close, Flitwick MK45 1JP)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gerald Warner on the sex-abuse scandal

Gerald Warner has generated a lot of comment with his rumbustious post suggesting that clerical sex abuse was fed by the more general crisis following Vatican II.

Much of what he says is true, and well expressed. Putting the current scandal into a wider context is exactly what is needed, in order to understand it.

But let me take that a little further. Fr Ray Blake points out that some of the sex abuse cases date from the 1950s, and this seems to stop Warner's analysis in its tracks. But the wider point is, to put it paradoxically, the post-Vatican II crisis did not start with Vatican II. If it had, then the things which happened after the Council, and indeed many of the things which happened during the Council, could not have happened.

This is true even in terms of the liturgy: permissions were being handed out by the Holy See all over the world for practices we think of as post-conciliar. It is true doctrinally: although the Holy Office, under Cardinal Ottaviani, was keeping a lid on things much more effectively in the 1950s than was the case later, dissent among theologians was rife, and when the world's most interesting theologians were gathered in Rome for the Council, the Acts of the Council record the continuous effort of emmendation necessary to keep the more crazy ideas out of the final documents.

And it is true in terms of clerical discipline. Freud's influence was enormous in the 1950s. The idea that all problems are the result of sexual repression was widespread among the intelligencia; it simply hadn't spread to popular culture. The apogee of vocations in the middle of the century itself suggests a certain reckless expansionism among religious orders and dioceses, and a failure of quality control.

The same battle was being fought then as is being fought now: between the traditional teaching and spirituality of the Church, and a set of ideas derived from 'progressive' secular thinking on sex, self-control, the reality of the supernatural, and how to 'sell' the faith the 'young'. The sex abuse may not have started in 1965, but it remains bound up with the progressive thinking which was latent before the Council, and triumphed after it.

And here is something else. Warner tells us that the only functioning aspect of clerical discipline exercicesd by bishops in the Council's aftermath was the unjust repression of the Traditional . Latin Mass. This is a simplification. In actual fact, a huge number of changes wrought by priests and bishops following the Council were rammed through in a breathtaking display of clerical power. The imposition of the 1969 Missal, as has often been pointed out, was the most extreme exercise of Papal authority in the history of the Church. It would have been simply inconceivable to Innocent III, the most powerful Pope of the Middle Ages. After the Council power was used recklessly: think of the destruction of church buildings, changes to devotional practices, reforms of the Rules of religious orders. It was of course sincerely believed to be for the good of the Church, but it was used without consultation or constraint to make irreverable changes which broke the hearts of millions of faithful Catholics, and did great damage to the Church. This is a characteristic of the 20th Century Church, not only of the post- or pre-Conciliar period.

The sex abuse scandal is not just about the lack of discipline imposed by bishops over their priests. It is about the abuse of clerical power. Sex abuse is itself about the abuse of power: the power of a teacher or a parent, or the power of a priest, over a child. The bishops whose response to the situation has caused the Holy Father such grief went on to abuse their power in other ways: to protect their priests, they imposed silence on the victims and their families, they disciplined whistle-blowers, and they moved abusive clergy to new positions. James Preece has written about this phenonemon here, calling it a 'culture favourable to abuse'.

Bishops and religious superiors were doing this before the Council, and they did it more and more as the situation deteriorated after it. This is not the traditional situation in the Church, it is a 20th Century abberation. Thankfully, it is crumbling today, because bishops and superiors no longer command the deference, legal privilege or resources to behave in this way.

The abuse of power may not seem like a 'progressive' phenonomenon, and of course power can be used for different purposes. But 'progressive' ideas by their nature do not come from the bottom up; they are dreamt up by an intellectual elite, which then seeks power to impose them from the top down. The concentration of clerical power in the 20th Century made the destruction of traditional liturgy and spirituality possible, while at the same time incubating of the sex abuse crisis.

Pro-Life Prayer Witness in Oxford

Saturday 27th March, 3pm-4pm

Pro-life witness in reparation for all unborn babies and their families, and all the Drs and nurses involved in the evil of abortion.

Meet at the Church of St Anthony of Padua, Headley Way, Oxford. (Car parking available), where there is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament inside the Church for the hour that we witness.

We then stand in front of the Church at the entrance to the JOHN RADCLIFFE HOSPITAL, Headley Way, Oxford.

The Rosary is led by Fr John Saward and then we end with a short Benediction inside the Church.

Refreshments are available afterwards in the Church hall.

For anymore information please contact Amanda Lewin 01869 600638

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sex abuse and the priesthood

The recent revelations of sex abuse among the clergy in Germany and elsewhere, coming on top of the exhaustive report on the subject in Ireland, and the long-running crisis in the United States, has whipped the secular press up into a characteristic frenzy. They are right to be outraged at the betrayal of trust by priests, and the failure of religious superiors and bishops to deal with the matter appropriately. A systematic attempt is being made, however, to link the scandals to the Holy Father, and to the celibate priesthood.

Neither of these attempts stand up to scrutiny. On the first, Pope Benedict had only the most remote connection with a sex offender priest from the diocese of Essen who stayed in Munich for treatment when Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop. It is not clear that the details of this priest's offenses were even given to the Munich authorities. The attempt to involve the Pope's brother Georg is equally tenuous: he taught at a school where sex abuse was going on--no one has a shred of evidence he either perpetrated it or covered it up. These kinds of attacks are inevitable, perhaps, but they leave the reputation of the journalists and newspapers involved looking more battered than that of the Holy Father.

John Allen has written a fascinating article on how the Holy Father was in fact personally responsible, when Prefect of the CDF, for a massive shift in attitude at the Vatican towards taking the sex abuse crisis seriously. This really deserves to be read.

On the question of clerical celibacy, this is the most long-running theme of the media's take on the abuse crisis. The secular media can't understand celibacy, and the notion of a clergy set apart by celibacy, like all holy things, worries them. But the argument simply doesn't work. Most sex offenders are not bound by any rule of celibacy. Some are. Some are unmarried, plenty are married. Some are not interested in the opposite sex. Since the possibility of marriage doesn't solve the problem of lay sex abuse, why is it imagined it would solve the problem of clerical sex abuse?

What is true is that clerical status affords special opportunities for abuse. So does the teaching profession. So one sees abusers specially attracted to those professions, and it is up to those in charge of their training to weed them out. This is something liberals, both inside and outside the Church, have been unwilling to do over the last forty years, and we are reaping the consequences.

The problem of priests and teachers who lack a genuine vocation and lack moral fibre goes back a long way, but before the 1960s it seems to have manifested itself in brutality more than in sexual predation. Sexual predation has come to the fore as the taboos against it have weakened--at exactly the same time as taboos against physical brutality have become established. The same people who say you shouldn't touch a child to control or chastise him defended the possibility of having a mutually rewarding consensual sexual relationship with him. (New Labour starlets Hewitt and Harman were talking about such things back in the early 1980s.)

That kind of talk has, to a remarkable extent, been silenced by the sex abuse revelations. One must not forget how common it was, from the 1960s to the 1990s. A series of attempts were made to gain UN recognition for groups campaigning for the legalisation of paedophilia, well into the present century. The imposition of 'non judgemental' sex education on our schools even today is left over from this general movement. Specifically, the 'let it all hang out' approach to counselling was actually imposed on many religious orders and dioceses in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, with priests preaching on sexual morality and wanting to say the Traditional Mass alike being condemned as too 'rigid'. (And seminarians showing signs of 'rigidity' being ruthlessly ejected.)

If you want it from the horse's mouth, listen to this fascinating talk by Dr William Coulson (alternatively, here's a short interview), who took the psycho-analytic techniques of Carl Rogers to religious communities ion the 1970s, and is convinced that sexual abuse followed. Rogers' approach is to say 'follow your bliss' - 'do what feels right'. It turned out that some of the clergy who had been stopping themselves from following their natural urges, and stopped bothering after listening to this, had been following the norms of Natural Law which protect the innocent. Carl Rogers had forgotten about Original Sin.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Easter Triduum Services

The number of Easter services in the usus antiquior has been increasing in leaps and bounds in recent years. Here is a pretty comprehensive of Easter Triduum services list for England and Wales. There are more Masses listed here.

London Masses
Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, WC2
Monday 29 March 6.30pm Sung Mass
Tuesday 30 March 6.30pm Sung Mass
Wednesday 31 March 7.00pm Tenebrae
Sacred Triduum
Holy Thursday 1 April 6.30pm Sung Mass and Procession to the Altar of Repose
Good Friday 2 April 3.00pm Good Friday Liturgy
Holy Saturday 3 April 7.00pm Vigil and High Mass

The Oratory, Brompton Rd, SW7
Palm Sunday 28 March 9.00am Low Mass
Easter Sunday 4 April 9.00am Low Mass
St James, Spanish Place, George St, W1
Palm Sunday 28 Mar 9.30am Low Mass
Easter Sunday 4 April 9.30am Low Mass

St Mary Magdalen, East Hill, Wandsworth SW18
Palm Sunday 28 March 11.00am Sung/Low Mass
Easter Sunday 4 April 11.00am Sung Mass

St Thomas Aquinas, Ham Common, Ham
Palm Sunday 28 March 6.00pm Blessing of Palms and Sung Mass
Partial Sacred Triduum
Good Friday 2 April 5.00pm Good Friday Liturgy
Easter Sunday 4 April 6.00pm Low Mass

St Bede's Clapham Park (some services in the Chapel of La Retraite School)
Chapel La Retraite School Atkins Rd Clapham, SW12
Palm Sunday 28 March 10.30am Blessing of Palms Procession and Mass *
Sacred Triduum
St Bede’s Thornton Road Clapham Park London SW12
Holy Thursday 1 April 6.00pm High Mass and Procession to Altar of Repose
Chapel La Retraite School Atkins Rd Clapham, SW12
Good Friday 2 April 3.00pm Good Friday Liturgy *
Holy Saturday 3 April 7.00pm Vigil and Solemn Mass *
*Please call 020 8678 5128 to confirm times of the Masses and Good Friday Liturgy
at La Retraite School
St Bede’s Thornton Road Clapham Park London SW12
Easter Sunday 4 April 10.45am High Mass 5.00pm Solemn Vespers and Benediction

Chapel of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth 60 Grove End Rd St John’s
Wood Please see here

Sacred Triduum Ceremonies in other Dioceses


Holy Thursday 1 April St Antony, St Antony’s Rd, Forest Gate, London E7 6.30pm
Sung Mass & Procession
Good Friday 2 April St Antony, St Antony’s Rd, Forest Gate, London E7 12.30pm
Good Friday Liturgy
Holy Saturday 3 April St Nicholas Gladding Rd Manor Park London E12 5.00pm
Vigil and First Mass of Easter

Lanherne Convent St Mawgan Nr Newquay Cornwall
Holy Thursday 9 April 7.00pm Mass and Procession to Altar of Repose Adoration to
12 Midnight
Good Friday 10 April 3.00pm Good Friday Liturgy 7.00pm Stations of the Cross
(outdoors weather permitting)
Holy Saturday 11 April 8.30pm Easter Vigil and Sung Mass

St William of York, Upper Redlands Rd, Reading
Holy Thursday 1 April 7.00 pm Mass & Adoration
Good Friday 2 April 3.00pm Good Friday Liturgy
Holy Saturday 3 April 10.00pm Vigil & Mass


Sacred Heart Church, The Cross, Moreton, Wirral CH46 9QB
Holy Thursday 1April 5.00pm Mass & Procession
Good Friday 2 April 5.00pm Good Friday Liturgy
Holy Saturday 3 April 5.00pm Vigil & Mass
Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday

Thursday, March 11, 2010

LMS Pilgrimages in 2010

Here are the dates and times of the national and local LMS Pilgrimages around the country. These are a real testament to the work of the LMS' local representatives, who organise them.

They are wonderful occasions. Please support them!

LMS Pilgrimage Schedule for 2010

Sat 15 Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Consolation Park Lane West Grinstead
Details to be confirmed. Contact Peter Cullinane on 02392471324 (Shrine - picture)

Sun 23 Welsh National Pilgrimage to Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper,
Our Lady of the Taper, North Road, Cardigan.
Tbc 2.30pm Holy Hour, Benediction and Mass
Details: Steffano Mazzeo on 01597 840634 (Shrine - second picture)
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Sat 26 LMS Annual Mass, Pontifical Mass Westminster Cathedral 2pm.
Celebrant: Bishop Alan Hopes (AGM in the morning)

Sun 4 National Pilgrimage to Holywell
St Winefride’s, Well Street, Holywell. Mass at 2.30pm followed by Procession to
St Winefride’s Well Devotions and Veneration of the relic and Benediction
Details: Steffano Mazzeo on 01597 840634
or Simone Sunderland on 01686627909 (Shrine - picture)

Sun 24 Pilgrimage in honour of SS John Lloyd & Philip Evans
St Peter’s, St Peter St, Roath, Cardiff. Sung Mass and Procession 3.00pm
To be confirmed. Contact Andrew Butcher on 07910930788


Sat 4 Pilgrimage to Brinkburn Priory
Brinkburn Priory, Nr Rothbury, Northumberland. Mass 12 noon
To be confirmed. Contact David O’Neill on 0191 2645771 (Priory)

Sat 4 Pilgrimage to Glastonbury
Church of Our Lady, Magdalene St, Glastonbury. Mass at 12 noon
Benediction 2.15pm followed by Rosary Procession
To be confirmed. Contact Nigel Taylor on 0117966 9976 (Abbey)

Sat 11 LMS National Pilgrimage to Walsingham
Rosary Procession from Friday Market 2.00pm Sung Mass 3.30pm
Details: LMS office on 020 7404 7284 (Catholic Shrine - picture)


Sat 16 St Richard Gwyn Pilgrimage Wrexham
To be confirmed. Contact Steffano Mazzeo on 01597 840634
or Simone Sunderland on 01686627909

Sat 23 Oxford Martyrs Pilgrimage.
Solemn Mass in Blackfriars and procession
Details: Joe Shaw on 01993 812874 (Report - picture)
Ecce Agnus

Sat 6 LMS Annual Requiem, Pontifical Mass Westminster Cathedral 2pm
Celebrant: Bishop John Arnold (Meeting of LMS Representatives in the morning)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Newman Mass

The Termly Mass of the Newman Society was a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Abbot Cuthbert Brogan at the Oxford Oratory. It was sponsored by the Latin Mass Society and the Schola Abelis sang the Chant, while Keble College Choir sang a polyphonic ordinary. Fr Tim Finigan was Assistant Priest, Fr Anton Web (of the Oxford Oratory) Deacon and Br Lawrence Lew (of the Oxford Blackfriars) Sub. Fr Finigan comments on the event here.
Mass was followed by the Newman Termly dinner, which was at St Benet's Hall. Abbot Cuthbert was a monk student there when I was an undergraduate, so it was just like old times! Here is the Newman President, Hubert MacGreevy, making his speach between Fr Finigan and Abbot Cuthbert.
More photos here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Caversham


Last Saturday I organised the first LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Caversham, which is at the Catholic Parish Church of Our Lady and St Anne. Fr Giles Goward, Parish Priest and Custodian of the Shrine, welcomed us.

The celebrant was Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP, from just over the river in Reading. Although Reading is in the Diocese of Portsmouth, Caversham, being north of the River, is in Birmingham.

After Mass Fr Goward had arranged that Julia Feeney, a parishoner who has written a book about the Shrine, shoudl give us an illustrated talk about it. It is a fascinating subject, and the refounded Shrine, consecrated in 1959, was done with great sensitivity. The visitor sees the Shrine as a Norman-style chapel attached to a traditional brick church; the current shrine statue is a magnificent medieval painted and guilded Virgin and Child. The statue was crowned reletively recently, in 1996, the centenary of the parish.


The singing at the Mass was provided by the Schola Abelis of Oxford, who sang not only the Chant propers but also La Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut - see their blog for more videos; here is the Introit and polyphonic Kyrie.

There are more photos here; they were very kindly taken by David Joyce, since there was very little view from the Choir loft (where I was) to the Shrine chapel (where Mass took place).

Andrew Burnham, 'Flying Bishop', at the Newman Society

Last night Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, addressed a packed meeting of the Newman Society on the subject of Anglicanorum Coetibus. I was there. (Picture: Bishop Burnham is introduced by the President of Newman Society, Hubert MacGreevy. Behind him are pictures of the Virgin and Child and John Henry Newman. The talk took place in the Catholic Chaplaincy.)

Andrew Burnham is the Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet and one of the 'flying bishops' who has been ministering to Anglicans who can't accept the ordination of women since these ordinations were authorised in England in 1994. He and his fellow 'flying bishops' administer a third of the country each, looking after any parishes who sign up for this.

I don't intend to give a summary of his talk but here are a few of the things he said.


First of all, the Apostolic Constitution on the Anglicans was a response to discussions he had with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and also with Cardinal Kaspar of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Chrisian Unity about two years before it was published. It is also a response to discussions between Rome and the Traditional Anglican Communion, and no doubt other groups and individuals, but in no sense is the English 'Forward in Faith' / 'flying bishop' set-up a side issue for the Apostolic Constitution.

When he was first ordained in the Anglican church the 'Anglo-Papalist' position was to recognise the Pope and work to re-unite Anglicanism with him. This was not such an extravagent view since the ARCIC talks seemed to be heading in this direction, but eventually the issue of the ordination of women pulled Anglicanism the other way. When he was made a 'flying bishop' he did so on the understanding that he would be continuing this stalled ecumenical project.

Since 1994 he has worked to create a sense of community among the very idiosyncratic and geographically scattered Anglo-Catholic parishes under his care. A good deal of progress has been made, making it much more likely that a good proportion of them will be able to come over to full communion with Rome as a body. His ideal would naturally be that they all came over, but this is clearly not going to happen.

He was very interesting on the subject of how the typical Anglo-Catholic parish is similar to, and different from, a Catholic one. Anglo-Catholic parishes tend not to have medieval buildings; they are the successors of the High Anglicans who built churches for the unchurched poor in the growing cities of the 19th Century. Their liturgy tends to be the 1970 Missal in English, distinguished outwardly from that of a Catholic parish mainly by the hymns. But they do have a different attitude to church-going: whereas a Catholic, at least a serious-minded one, will go to great lengths to get to some Mass or other on a Sunday if things disrupt his usual routine, an Anglo-Catholic who can't make the usual 9.30 service won't bother going to something else instead. They are very attached to their physical church, and lack the sense of 'Sunday obligation'. The attachment to the church, as has often been pointed out, will be a sticking point for many in joining an Ordinariate.

He was cautious not to make any promises about what he or anyone else would do, and when, but is was clear enough that he is going to join the Ordinariate and will be bringing others with him. Nothing will happen until the Anglican Synod debate on provision for Anglo-Catholics when women are ordained to the episcopate: he said he didn't want to go down in history as the man who scuppered the chances of a good deal for Anglo-Catholics staying in the Anglican Communion.

On the Ordinariate itself, he said that what happened after 1994 was that Anglican clergy who wanted to 'swim the Tiber' and become Catholic priests received three years' training before ordination. This created the problem that by the time they were back in circulation the Anglican laity who might have gone with them had dispersed. The key issue with the Ordinariate is to make possible the continuity of the communities and pastors so that whole groups will be able to come accross together.


Bishop Burnham spoke with great fluency and charm, in a witty and self-deprecating way, and without notes. His talk was less than an hour long and there are many issues which he didn't settle, but it gave the audience many important insights into the situation.

As I have written before (and here), the conversion of groups of Anglicans is a matter of great interest to Traditionally-minded Catholics, for a number of reasons, not all of which may seem obvious.

First, the Anglican converts we have seen since 1994 and, come to that, since 1558, have been a huge boon to the Church, in terms of their talents and zeal; many convert clergy have come to the Latin Mass Society's Priest Training Conferences.

Second, the existence of an Ordinariate with a certain Anglican spirit and its own hierarchy is itself exciting. I do not accept the argument often made by Anglicans that 'if England is to be Christian again, it will only be in the uniquely English way represented by Anglicanism': Edmund Campion, Richard Challoner, and Pugin are quite English enough, to my mind. Nevertheless, the Ordinariate will clearly remove psychological obstacles to conversion for many Anglicans, and that is a good thing.

Third, it will create a degree of legimate diversity in the English Catholic Church which will be healthy. Fr Aidan Nichols OP argued forcefully at the LMS Priest Training Conference at London Colney last Summer that we need to recover a sense of legitimate diversity. In the past the Catholic Church was far more characterised by a diversity of Missals and also by jurisdictional complexity than it is today. The monolithic Post-Vatican II uniformity of the Church has in many ways been stifling.

Whether or not they make use of the 'Anglican Use' based on the Book of Common Prayer, parishes in the Ordinariate will have far fewer qualms about allowing the Traditional Mass. And they will also serve as a model of jurisdictional diversity, of a very similar kind to that proposed for Traditional Catholics in the context of the reconciliation of the SSPX.

So we await developments with interest!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Petition the Bishops on Sex Education

Fr Ray Blake objects to this petition - he says we ought to give the bishops the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they are working behind the scenes. I am quite sure they are, in fact - and their work will be much strengthened if the Government sees the Catholic faithful united in horror at what is being proposed.

Fr John Boyle explains the canon law situation: 'It is not disloyal to sign this petition'.

So I have signed this petition, and I urge everyone to do the same.

To: Bishops of England and Wales

We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature - and provision - of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.


The Undersigned