Thursday, December 30, 2010

Una Voce International: Report on three years of the Motu Proprio

Before Christmas I was able to read the whole, full and complete version of the report made to Rome by the Una Voce Federation, on the application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. An edited version (which includes a summary of the national reports, but not the national reports themselves) can be seen on the FIUV website, as can a gracious note of thanks from Mgr Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which is now part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It is obviously necessary that the detailed reports for each country, prepared by the member associations of the Una Voce Federation, be kept confidential, but Leo Darroch, the President, is able to make some aspects public in his introduction to the report available on the website, and I thought I'd make some general observations of my own.

The overarching conclusion of the report is that progress has been very slow since the Motu Proprio came into force, in most (in fact nearly all) places. This is not because of the terms of Motu Proprio itself, which are extremely liberal - any priest can say the Mass privately, any Parish Priest can introduce one into his parish schedule, the laity can ask for it and must be given it. Rather, it is because of a continuing negative attitude towards the Church's liturgical traditions. I wouldn't single out bishops in this repect: hostility from the laity, from ordinary priests, from priests in roles of authority (area deans, seminary rectors, vicars general or whatever), bishops, cardinals, and even in a few cases officials of the Roman curia, all have their part to play. At every level in the Church one will find people enthusiastic about the Traditional Mass, people ferociously opposed to it, and people who are indifferent. The problem is that the opponents of the Traditional Mass, who are now in effect opponents of the Motu Proprio and of the Holy Father's promulgated will and policy, are too often in a position to make things unpleasant, or impossible, for those wishing to make use of their freedom to attend or celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The Traditioinal Mass is reletively easy to impede because in order to start saying it most priests need special training, which takes time, and in order to introduce it into a parish a priest needs a good deal of time, effort, and resources, in preparing the faithful, training servers, finding ways to celebrate 'ad orientem' and so on. This patient work can be undone in a moment if a priest is moved to another parish, or if there is a sufficient fuss orchestrated in his parish. It is always easier to destroy than to build up, so the effort of liturgical restoration will always be an up-hill task.

This was true before the Motu Proprio came out, and the MP has made a positive difference, at least in many places. Some, obviously not all, of those indifferent to the Traditional Mass have begun to engage with it at some level, and in some cases have become enthusiasts for it. Some, but not all, of the people in authority who were previously holding things back have adopted a laissez-fair policy.

Others have at least modified their opposion - as one priest remarked to me, the Motu Proprio seems to have got many people in authority in the church to apply the terms of the 1988 document, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta (EDA). EDA said that where there was demand, some provision should be made, and Summorum Pontificum says that any priest can say the Mass, and any lay group demand it. What we found after EDA too often was that no provision was made, and what we find after Summorum Pontificum is that the free for all it legislates is resisted, but an EDA-type 'provision' is finally made. Thus one frequently hears that a priest should not start saying the Traditional Mass because it is already being said in a particular church in the diocese - not necessarily nearby. This kind of argument simply has no basis in the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

There are wide areas of the Catholic world, however, where in the face of determined opposition and an only incipient lay organisation to support priests wishing to say the Traditional Mass, very little has been acheived in the last three years.

The countries where most progress has been made are France, the United States of America, and England and Wales. The Latin Mass Society is the oldest association in the Federation, and is also the best funded, and it has the most complete organisation, in terms of having a national network of representatives and a staffed headquarters. Looking around the world it is evident how important a lay organisation supporting the Traditional Mass is, but also how difficult it is to establish and maintain such an organisation if there is very little going on: if there are no Traditional Masses to go to, it is hard to maintain or develop enthusiasm for it. In England most Catholics don't know what the Traditional Mass is, and we are better off than almost anywhere else in the world.

One question which I asked as I read the reports was about the Motu Proprio's mechanism for taking appeals for the Traditional Mass from groups of laity, first to a parish priest, then the bishop, then to Rome: my question is whether this mechanism is actually functioning as it should be, and whether it is able to produce results.

At first glance the answer seems to be 'no'. A number of strategies are used to circumvent it: it is claimed that all the members of the group requesting the Mass must demonstrate their committment to the Mass in some arbitrary way, or must all come from a single parish, or must be of some arbitrarily large size. These sorts of claims are contrary to the spirit and letter of the Motu Proprio. But the most common, and perhaps most successful, ploy in many places appears to be simply ignoring the appeals. A group of faithful compose a letter to a parish priest, with a peitition with a good number of signatures; it is duly delivered to a parish priest, and there is no response. Or perhaps the priest says he can't satisfy the request, and passes the matter on to the bishop, or the original group of faithful takes it to the bishop, and there is no response. What, they are entitled to ask, are they supposed to do at that point?

The answer, I suppose, is that after delivering copies of their appeal two or three times, they include a reasonable deadline for a response (a month, say) and if there is no response they go to the next stage in the process (from priest to bishop, from bishop to Rome). Obviously this is far from satisfactory, since the bishop or the Roman authorities will want to see what response was made at the earlier stages, and the lay appellants have no paper trail to offer beyond a certificate of posting. However, it would be better than nothing.

And then, with or without a satisfactory paper trail, the appeal goes to Rome, and again the lay group may hear little or nothing. But - and this is what emerges eventually from reading these reports - this may not indicate that nothing is happening. For the first recourse of the officials at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is to take the matter up with the bishop, and they will do so confidentially.

The lay group probably won't be kept in the loop. This may be annoying for the lay organisers but it is clearly for the best: the necessary negotiations are not most productively carried on in the full glare of publicity. The important question is: is the PCED able to persuade bishops to be more friendly towards the traditional Mass, and to accede to a specific request? The answer to that is (a) the PCED does not have the power of life and death over bishops, so its job is extremely difficult; (b) we are at the early stages of these negotiations, which in the normal course of things can take years; (c) there are in fact documented cases of intervention by the PCED, for example in a case in Croatia, and finally (d) the failure of these negotiations, if indeed they do fail, is an enormously important source of information for the PCED which will go towards deciding how the legal status of the Traditional Mass should be developed in the future.

To develop this last point, consider the history of the legalisation on the 1962 Missal since the Council. First (not counting the 'English Indult'), we had the Indult of 1984. It was written in pretty restrictive terms, but it was intended to make it possible for the needs and aspirations of those attached to the Traditional Mass to be met, without anyone going into schism. It failed, because it wasn't applied generously enough- there weren't enough Masses being said according to the 1962 Missal, and the people attached to that Missal felt marginalised. It failed in a very public way, with the 1988 consecrations: the situation from 1984 to 1988 wasn't one to inspire confidence in Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers. So in 1988 we got another Indult, this time with an explicit appeal from the Holy Father, John-Paul II, that bishops be 'generous', and a special Roman department to oversee the situation. But this failed also: the exhortation led to only a trickle of extra Masses being said around the world.

Having entrusted the provision for the Mass of 1962 to the bishops of the world in 1984 and 1988, Pope Benedict apparently decided that this wasn't working and took the matter, to a large extent, out of their hands, in the Motu Proprio of 2007. Now if this turns out not to work, as a result of bishops and others being able to block the development of provision for the Mass, what will the next move be? To some more restrictive legislation? That's not the way things are going. If the Holy Father is convinced that the legal structure created by the Motu Proprio can't be made to work, he will substitute something which is fully bomb-proof. What that might be I don't know, but we've all heard rumours about personal prelatures, treating the 1962 Mass as something more like the Ukranian Rite with its own bishops and so on. The important thing is that there are various possible ways forward which will make it harder for anyone to keep the Traditional Mass boxed in. And it is in one of those directions which we will be heading if this situation, of the Motu Proprio not being applied properly around the world, continues.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Cheer: Hallal meat

There has been quite a bit of discussion of hallal meat being sold in supermarkets; here's a Daily Mail story from a while back, and here's a piece from an evangelical group called Christian Voice. What no one is denying, however, is that meat which is blessed by an iman as it is ritually slaughtered dominates the shelves of most supermarkets. Here's a statement from Waitrose:


This notice was first published on 20 December 2010

The priority for all of our meat is to ensure animal welfare of the highest standard; to ensure this we work closely with and are approved by the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA). Our practices are also in line with the recommendations of Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA.

All our lamb is electrically stunned before slaughter, meaning that animals are unconscious and are not subjected to pain. UK law currently permits halal slaughter both with stunning and without. However, to maintain Red Tractor assurance scheme standards, signified by a logo on the label, (which all Waitrose Meat & Poultry achieves) all animals must be pre-stunned. New Zealand law requires all animals to be pre-stunned at slaughter.

To give our customers choice, our Duchy Originals from Waitrose lamb is not halal blessed at slaughter and, from 3 January 2011, the English, West Country & Dorset lamb sold on our service counters will also not be halal. All other Waitrose meat and poultry is non-halal.

However, we will continue to allow the halal blessing for other lamb (with the exception of Duchy Originals from Waitrose and the English, West Country & Dorset lamb sold on our service counters) so that abattoirs can sell the parts of the carcass that we don't use to other markets - this minimises food waste, keeps prices down for our customers and helps our farmers to be competitive.

As far as labelling is concerned, there is currently no UK labelling scheme for halal and we believe this is a matter where Government should lead.

Clearly Waitrose is responding to pressure, but they want to hold the line on labelling. The issue has aroused the interest of a small group of people, who from Jan 3rd will be able to avoid the hallal lamb, but Waitrose don't want to draw wider attention to the fact that perfectly ordinary-looking meat on their shelves is hallal.

Is this a problem? Christian Voice likens the meat to that offered to idols, which should be avoided - though not at all costs - according to St Paul, since, they say, 'Allah' is not the same deity as the Christian God.

On philosophical grounds I personally take a wide view of when people are referring to the same God. If two groups of people are talking about the Supreme Being, but group A has detailed views about Him which differ from those of group B, and it so happens that the real Supreme Being conforms to the description of group B, I'd say that group A is referring to the same entity as group B but has various mistaken views about Him - within pretty wide limits. For this seems to be how 'referring' happens in ordinary life: if a feminist thinks Homer was a woman, say, she is still talking about the same person ('the author of the Iliad') as the conventional scholar who thinks Homer is a man. However I'm open to persuasion on this point.

What strikes me as unavoidable is that eating meat which is ritually slaughtered and blessed by an iman is a (small) way of taking part in the Islamic religion. This may not be intentional, but if you know about it you should avoid doing it - though not at any cost - unless, of course, you think that Islam is the true religion. Because participation in a religion implies endorsement of that religion.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dawn Mass in Oxford

Update: some better pictures here.

Various members of the family, including myself, have been suffering from some sort of bug, so we broke with our usual practice of going to Midnight Mass. Instead we went to the Second Mass of Christmas, the Dawn Mass, celebrated by Fr Aldo Tapparo in St Anthony of Padua, Headington.

Christmas Day shares the special privilege of All Souls Day, on which priests may say three Masses - and so there are three Mass formularies: Midnight Mass, Dawn Mass and the Mass of Christmas Day.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Petition to save Ushaw College

Petition to save Ushaw College, the only Catholic seminary in Britain north of Birmingham: please sign!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

FSSP UK 'Dowry' Newsletter available


Mass in St Alphege's in Bath Sunday 16th January

This is a very encouraging development in one of the most interesting and beautiful Catholic churches in England, St Alphege's, in Bath.

Fr Boniface Hill OSB, Monk of Downside, will celebrate this Mass, at 12noon.

Fr Hill was instrumental in the Latin Mass Society's Priest Training Conference in Downside in August.

View Larger Map

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ten advantages of celebration 'ad orientem'

According to Fr Mark Kirby. H-t Rorate Caeli.

What are the advantages of standing at the altar ad orientem, as I have experienced them over the past two years? I can think of ten straight off:

1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.

2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.

3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.

4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.

5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.

6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.

7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.

8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.

9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.

10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention and devotion

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Ordo has arrived!

The Latin Mass Society's indispensible Ordo, telling you what feast it is for every day of the year and for every diocese in England and Wales according to the books of 1962, is now available for 2011!

Order it from our website.

Snowed in

This morning we were snowed in. Although we live on the edge of a town the dip in the road between us and the shops was almost completely impassable by car; I walked in and passed queues of cars being shovelled out of the snow and pushed up the hill. The road has improved but it hasn't stopped snowing.
Well! There is plenty to do at h0me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas and New Year Mass list for Oxford up


The sung Masses listed are all being sung by the Schola Abelis (they don't have a monopoly on singing at the Traditional Mass, but the two other groups who regularly do so aren't doing anything this quarter as far as I know).

Please support these Masses! And please support the Schola Abelis, which doesn't run on thin air. You can see their Gloria TV videos here.

And please support the Latin Mass Society, without whose encouragment, practical support and in many cases financial sponsorship many of these events would not be taking place. If you are reading this, and are not a member, why not join up? If you are a member, you can give a year's subscription to a friend as a gift.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ushaw Conference Centre to close immediately

I have just heard that the Conference Centre at Ushaw will close at the end of December. This means that the three bookings involving the Latin Mass Society for the Summer of 2011 will not be honoured: the Priest Training Conference booked in for August, and the Summer School for children and Latin Course for Adults booked in for July. The closure of the Seminary in June was announced not long ago, but the Conference Centre people there had been told to carry on as usual for the time being.
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This is a serious blow to our immediate plans. The Latin Mass Society and the St Catherine's Trust (which runs the Summer School, sponsored by the LMS) will, however, recover; it is too late to find alternative venues for Summer 2011, but the LMS will be holding a Priest Training Conference in the spring in Buckfast, and the SCT is having its annual Family Retreat in the Oratory School in April. We'll find other venues for our other events in time.

We will be ok - but Ushaw won't. As the trade unions have been saying recently, 'some cuts don't heal.'

We've had similar experiences before: Catholic venues we thought of using closing, in whole or in part, while our plans were still being made. We are witnessing the end-game for great swathes of the Catholic Church as an institution in England and Wales. Before anyone says that people are more important than institutions, it is the disappearance of the Catholic people who have precipitated the closure of the institutions, in most cases, but now we are going to see a death spiral.

With fewer institutions to bear witness to the Faith, Catholics and those who might have become Catholics won't experience it, it won't be sustained in them as it should be. The lack of faith and the lack of warm bodies will undermine the remaining institutions. And when they close down, it will get even worse.

Of course, the sale of the buildings, many of great architectural merit and others in prime locations in cities, will keep the Church's administrators in paper clips for a long time to come. They have nothing to fear. The next generation of Catholics, by contrast, will have to start again.
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No doubt the institutions now closing could have been better at embodying the Catholic Faith. But just look at those buildings, the art, the rolling acres: we're never going to get that back. The achievements of the 19th Century in making the Faith palpable to the senses will have been lost forever.
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Participants of the 2010 LMS Priest Training Conference at Ushaw

LMS Saturday Mass in Westminster Cathedral

Since I was in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday afternoon (venerating the Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe) I was able to see the beginning of the regular Low Mass organised by the Latin Mass Society in a side chapel. This takes place on the 2nd Saturday of each month.
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Not being a Londoner I've not seen this before. It is good to see the side chapels being used for Mass, although the faithful were spilling out into the nave.

Something else I've not seen before was the Tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel dressed in Rose (for Gaudete Sunday).
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There are a few more photos here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Feast of St Lucy

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I saw this with the homeschoolers on Fr Andrew Southwell's tour of the V&A: St Lucy, pictured as usual with her own eyes on a dish. She was blinded during the course of her persecution for the Faith, before giving her life for it. She holds a palm of martyrdom.

St Lucy, pray for us! Happy feast!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe in Westminster Cathedral

My daughter and I were able to venerate the relic image after our tour of the V&A. It is in Westminster Cathedral this weekend.

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Homeschoolers at the V&A

Fr Andrew Southwell, the LMS' National Chaplain, gave one of his regular art tours for homeschoolers. Last year I went on one with my oldest daughter in the National Gallery; this one was at the V&A. There were 25 to 30 parents and children there, it was great fun. We looked at a number of late medieval nativity scenes on altar pieces and some other things, including sone very fine monstrances, paxes and other pieces of metalwork.

One of the explanatory signs diffidently explained that indulgences were believed to shorten purgatory for a soul.

Who were these strange people called Catholics, and when did they die out? Actually, our little tour shows that we are not only still alive, but breeding...

A group of us had a very nice lunch afterwards down the road in an Italian restaurant called Rocca di Papa, appropriately enough.
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Paul Inwood: Tablet report on number of Masses wrong

Paul Inwood,the (lay) Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of Portsmouth, and not someone especially keen on the Traditional Mass, has admitted on an on-line discussion forum that The Tablet article I recently posted about was wrong about how the number of churches offering the Usus Antiquior in his diocese. They said it hadn't increased since Summorum Pontificum, but (he says) it has.

Unless The Tablet is deliberately misreporting, they clearly weren't talking to anyone with access to the facts. As I remarked in my letter to The Tablet (in a passage they chose not to print) the responses they had from dioceses were off-the-cuff remarks, and hardly a proper basis for contradicting the detailed facts and figures anyone can download from the Latin Mass Society Mass Listings.

Here is Paul Inwood's post:


#9 by Paul Inwood on December 6, 2010 - 4:11 pm

In my diocese (mentioned in the Tablet reportage but with a lower number of churches than is actually currently providing the EF), we already had a fairly generous provision of EF Masses before SP. Now we have more of them, but it is the same 30 or so people who are simply travelling round to more places to attend (apart from those on the Isle of Wight). There is no discernible increase in numbers. More Masses, same tiny uptake. I wonder how many other diocese mirror this?


Notice he says that it is 'the same 30 people' as before the Motu Proprio, spreading themselves more thinly across more churches in the diocese. As Director of Liturgy he may know how
many churches have the TLM, but he has clearly never been to the FSSP Mass in Reading.

Five years ago about 40 people used to go to these Masses. Since then a lot has happened, including the Motu Proprio, and the number has more than doubled. On a good day we have 100 people; numbers never dip below 60.

This is at the same time as other churches have started to offer the Mass. Plus people in the northern part of the diocese can easily pop over the diocesan boundary to Oxford, where numbers have also doubled since the Motu Proprio. Plus there is an important centre for the SSPX down the road in Newbury.

So how many people regularly attend the Traditional Mass in or from the Portsmouth Diocese? It's a lot more than 30, Mr Inwood!

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Now I'm back at my desk I can add this photo to the post
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I can count 60 lay heads in this photograph. You can't see the back row, of course, or the people in the choir loft (there were six singers and a bunch of small children); more importantly through the opening on the right there is a sort of annex where between 20 and forty people usually sit. This photo was taken in October 2010.

Happy now, Mr Inwood?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Schola in Reading

On the First Sunday of Advent I was able to get my Oxford singers to Reading, to sing at the regular Sunday Mass said by the FSSP in St William of York.

Here we are singing the Offertory, with the Offertory verses.

We'll go down again next term, to give the local singers a break.

There are a couple more videos on the Schola's blog.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Server Training in York

Last Saturday there was a very successful server training day in Reading, organised by the Society of St Tarcisius. 17 priests, MCs and trainees gathered at St John Fisher House, the house of the Fraternity of St Peter in Reading, for the occasion.

We can now announce another training day, this time in York.

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Server training in Oxford in the spring.

The Sodality of St Tarcisius will be holding a server training day at the Church of the English Martyrs in York on Saturday 12th February 2011. It will run from 10.30am and conclude with Mass at 4pm.

The day will be suitable for men and boys who are beginners as well as servers who have some experience. Tuition will be given in Latin pronunciation as well as the practical aspects of serving, and will be tailored to the requirements of the participants.

Participants are asked to bring their own lunch, although tea and coffee will be provided. There will be no charge.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to contact Paul Waddington by e-mail on

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Successful Garrigou-Lagrange Colloquium in Oxford

I couldn't attend the Server Training Day in Teading today, organised by the Society of St Tarcisius, because I was at a colloquium in Oxford held to discuss the theologian Garrigou-Lagrange.

It was organised by the Aquinas Institute, which is based at the Oxford Blackfriars; that's where the Colloquium took place. G-L was one of the most prominent orthodox theologians of the era leading up to the Second Vatican Council (he died in the 1950s), a period best known for it's dissidend theologians, some of whom sprang to prominence and influence during the Council itself. For this reason he has been unjustly neglected, and deserves a reappraisal.

He was renowned as a Thomist who combined his work on metaphysics with a large body of work on spirituality.

The Colloquium was a great success; the Aula at Blackfriars was packed; it was good to see about a dozen Dominicans there to discuss their confrere, including Br Lawrence Lew, Fr Aidan Nichols, and Fr Thomas Crean. There were lots of theology students from the University, and it was remarked how a serene discussion of G-L's merits was possible now, but would not have been twenty years ago. The instinctive and irrational barriers to the rehabilitation of a pre-Conciliar conservative theologian have, to a large extent, melted away.

Before I left I bought a copy of Aidan Nichols' 'Criticising the Critics', his recent work of apologetics, from the stall from St Philip's Books. I read the opening chapter, on Modernism, on the bus home and I recommend it highly as a short and clear introduction to Modernism as condemned by Pius X and as revived after the Second Vatican Council.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Tablet: escape from reality

Last week The Tablet published an article about demand for the usus antiquior (or the 'Tridentine Rite', as they always call it) since the Motu Proprio. The article was carefully researched: they made enquiries with all the dioceses of England and Wales (though they got few responses), and were most eager for facts and figures from the Latin Mass Society, which we duly provided.
The Congregation at the Traditional Mass in St Mary Magdalen's, Wandsworth: were they all there three years ago? Is the camera lying?

What was actually printed, however, reflected not the results of their reporters' research but their own preconceptions: again and again The Tablet has simply asserted, in the teeth of the evidence, that demand for the Chruch's traditional liturgy is not growing, or is limited to people old enough to have experienced it before 1970. It won't surprise many people reading this blog to hear that the Tablet's editors are in a state of denial about the way the wind is blowing (or should that be: 'about innovative ways of being Church'?), but it is depressing to provide them with hard evidence for an article and then see the article draw the very conclusion the evidence shows is impossible.

They have very decently printed my letter protesting about this - with a few excisions which I show in bold.

Letter to the Editor, The Tablet.

Extrapolating from some off-the-cuff remarks made by spokesmen from seven of the twenty-two dioceses of England and Wales, your report (News From Britain and Ireland, 20th November) suggests that the Latin Mass Society may be mistaken in claiming that there has been a significant increase in demand for the Traditional Mass since the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum came into effect three years ago.

We offered your reporters hard statistical evidence for our claim, but this data did not find its way into the article. Perhaps your reporters thought that Tablet readers would not wish to hear that the number of regular Sunday Masses celebrated according to the Usus Antiquior has almost doubled since before the Motu Proprio, or that the number of Masses on a typical feast day has increased by more than 60%. Nevertheless, it is true, and readers not inclined to believe it need only download the Mass listings from our website (, and satisfy themselves that these Masses are really taking place: they will be most welcome.

It should be noted that the increase in the number of public traditional Masses on Sundays and holy days does not, yet, reflect the increase in the number of priests able, and eager, to say it. The number of priests able to say the Roman Rite in its traditional form has tripled since the Latin Mass Society’s first Priest Training Conference, which took place just before the Motu Proprio took effect. Many of these priests are saying traditional Masses on weekdays and on special occasions, exercising great pastoral sensitivity in gradually introducing this form of the Mass to their parishes. The number of traditional Masses on Saturdays, for example, has from a low base increased by a staggering 450%.

The notion of ‘demand’ for the Traditional Mass is a slippery one. People cannot demand what they do not know about, and people who want it won't appear in the statistics if they are unable, for reasons of geography, to get it. The reality is that when a parish priest introduces a Traditional Mass at a reasonable time on a Sunday in his church a congregation emerges from nowhere, and increases over time. After a few years these congregations can rival those for the other parish Masses. There is nothing special about the parishes where this has happened: it is reasonable to assume that it would happen in any parish where it was tried. But on the basis of the places where it actually has happened, we estimate that the number of people attending the Traditional Mass regularly has doubled since the Motu Proprio.

It tends to be younger Catholics who are more open-minded about the Usus Antiquior, and younger priests who are most eager to learn it and say it. On this point, however, we can take the Pope’s own word for it: as he put it, young people have “found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.”

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Congregation at the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage, regularly more than double the number we saw 2005-2007 - or are the pictures lying?

Ok, so it's a busy week; the letters page includes such jems as Mgr Basil Loftus denying that he shut down Fr Michael Clifton's blog and a screed from (once Mgr) Bruce Kent on nuclear disarmant. But lest anyone be in doubt that it is the wishful thinking of The Tablet's editors, and not the facts of news stories, which generate the content of this publication, they need only turn to p28, where they will be greeted by the headline

'Pope says use of condoms can be justified in certain circumstances.'

I know all news sources have their own angle on things, but it is downright cruel to the liberal Catholics and assorted post-Christians reading this to make them think that the Pope has said something he manifestly hasn't: they will be sad and disapointed when they realise the truth. This process of sad realisation, on a host of subjects, is often in fact manifested in the letters pages, where one sees lacrimose epistles saying 'I thought that Vatican II had done away with (delete as appropriate) Latin / the cappa magna / moral theology / priestly vocations, but it seems this dreadful thing has somehow survived!'. By trying to keep the truth from their readers, The Tablet simply makes it more painful when it does emerge.
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Good Friday 2009 with the FSSP in Reading. I've been attending the Triduum with the FSSP since before the Motu Proprio, and numbers have again doubled - but don't take my word for it.
Message to the The Tablet: you can run, but the truth will catch up with you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Authur Pitts of Iffley, priest and confessor

Here's an interesting historical titbit from CFNews, on a local Oxfordshire man, a singer, scholar, and priest during penal times.

ARTHUR PITTS, 1557-1634?, Catholic priest, was born at Iffley, Oxfordshire, the younger son of Arthur Pitts, sometime fellow of All Souls', Oxford, who died a man of some wealth on 10 May 1578. Young Arthur became a chorister of All Souls', and was afterwards for a time at Brasenose College, Oxford. He did not graduate, but with two brothers left for Douai, apparently in 1575, and joined an elder brother, Robert, who was already settled there in deacon's orders. Although his father had left him and his brothers considerable property at Staunton, Woodfrey, Iffley, and Stafford, he was described in the Douay matriculation register as 'pauper.' From Douai he was sent in 1577 to the English seminary at Rome. He was back at Douai in 1579, when he was described as twenty-two years old and student of theology in minor orders, and as having 'declared himself ready to proceed to England for the help of souls, and confirmed this by oath.' He set out for England on 22 April 1581, in company with Standishe, the two forming part of a detachment of forty-seven priests sent from Douai during the year. On 6 Feb. 1582 he was seized, with George Haydock and another priest, while dining together at an inn in London. The three were committed to the Tower. In October Cardinal Allen wrote that Pitts was expecting torture and death. In January 1584-5 he and twenty other priests were banished from England. They were shipped from Tower Wharf, and landed on the coast of Normandy in February, after signing a certificate to the effect that they had been well treated on the voyage. Pitts then resumed his studies at Rheims, and came out doctor in both faculties of law and divinity. He then 'came into Lorraine,' and was received into the house of the Cardinal of Vaudemont, 'with whom all his life he was in great favour and credit.' When, in 1623, the Pope re-established the Catholic hierarchy in England, and William Bishop was nominated vicar-apostolic and bishop of Chalcedon, Pitts was appointed one of the first canons of the English chapter, and he became titular archdeacon of London, Westminster, and the suburbs. In later life he resided with the Stonors of Blount's Court in Oxfordshire, and, dying there about 1634, was buried in the church of Rotherfield Peppard.

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The Pope on Condoms: the dust begins to settle

Does the Pope undermine an argument against the use of condoms to stop AIDS? Arguably his comments undermine one of the arguments used - but this is going to get complicated so see my Philosophy blog here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Traditional Baptism in Oxford

On Sunday afternoon there was a traditional baptism in the Oxford Oratory, followed by Low Mass in the chapel of St Philip.
The Baptism was very well attended and we spread right across the nave in order to assist at Mass.
An unusual perspective on the Traditional Mass in the Oxford Oratory!

The lighting was particularly difficult for photography, since the lights in different parts of the church are different colours. As you can see above, the back of the church is too yellow while the interior of the chapel is fine.

Lucy Shaw Cakes provided a cake for the party afterwards. The vast number of children made short work of the considerable quantity of refreshments which were on offer!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Confirmations: pictures

Bishop Stack talks to the confirmations before the service.








We were delighted at the numbers at the service, both of confirmands (39) and the congregation. Two other confirmation services have taken place this year in the extraordinary form, one for St Philip's School and one in the diocese of Nottingham, so numbers overall are clearly on a strong upward curve.

This service is only possible thanks to the great efforts of Latin Mass Society staff and volunteers, organising it in advance and helping on the day. Many thanks are due to them!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anscombe Centre on the Pope on condoms

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is one of the foremost Catholic institutes dealing with these issues in the world, and is supported by the Bishops of the three Conferences of the British Isles. Their statement can be read here.

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More on the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

I spent Saturday morning singing in a Mass in Oxfordshire (I hope to post some videos soon) so I couldn't make the LMS Confirmations but I am delighted to see photos of this event, and the Sons' participation, on a number of blogs. The one above is from The Ecumenical Diablog.

I managed to catch up with them afterwards, and with various other people we had an extended tea and dinner round the corner in an Italian Cafe.

This was the first time I have met members of the community and I was able to have a chat with them on a wide range of subjects. They are the most interesting group of men, from all over the world, and despite the very difficult time they have had since reconciling with the Holy See they have lost neither their zeal nor their sense of humour. I'm not sure which is the greater acheivement!
Fr Anthony Mary F.SS.R saying his private Mass after the Confirmations, in St James', Spanish Place.

Their order is a reformed, traditional Redemptorist order. I don't know much about Redemptorists but Fr Anthony Mary (on the left, above) explained the Redemptorist apostolate in more detail to me. Apart from ministering to the parish where they are based, their approach is to avoid taking on parishes, and concentrate on retreats and, above all, parish missions. This makes them very different from the Benedictines - you have to go the Benedictines, but the Redemptorists come to you.

The typical way this works is a week-long mission, Sunday to Sunday. One of them would preach at all the Masses one Sunday, and have a series of evening talks during the week, and preach again at the Masses on the following Sunday. The emphasis is on getting people back to confession. I have come across a sort of folk memory of parish missions with fire-breathing Redemptorists in the 'old days', and the question is whether this format can still work: will people come to parish events on weekday evenings, for example? Fr Anthony told me that pastors have invariably been amazed at the response - far more people making the effort to get to as much of the mission as possible than they had expected, long queues for the confessional, and a renewal of parish life for the parish priest to build on from then on.

As Fr Anthony said, it is impossible for a parish priest to give a powerful sermon every Sunday - neither he nor the parishioners would be able to keep it up. The opportunity exists, however, when someone comes into the parish to do exactly that, and this is a resource of which parish priests could once avail themselves. And they will be able to do so again.

The ordination of members of the community has been delayed while their canonical status has been sorted out, but two men have completed their studies and a third in his final year. Once they are ordained the community will once more have the manpower to send priests into the mission field. This could be a huge shot in the arm for the increasing number of parishes where the priest is sympathetic to the Traditional Mass, and perhaps even has one on a Sunday, but is faced by the reality that the great majority of Mass-goers have not been properly catechised or prepared for their own confirmations and marriages. The parishes in this country, and not only here of course, could really do with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.

In the meantime, please support them! They publish an excellent quarterly newspaper, The Catholic, and are now selling a wall calendar with charming pictures not only of the liturgy of the Sons at work in the monastery. Naturally, you should buy the LMS wall calendar as well! See their blog for details.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Pope on condoms

With some reluctance I interrupt my Sunday to post this:

"When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." "

He is talking about the use of condoms by male prostitutes (presumably, male prostitutes with male clients.) So, what he is saying is that the use of condoms is immoral in all circumstances. This isn't the message the secular media and liberal Catholics want you to hear, so read this paragraph carefully and be prepared to quote the Holy Father's words when other people are giving you tendentious paraphrases.

The situation he describes reminds me of a case considered by the well-known Catholic moral theologian Germaine Grisez when he did some seminars in Oxford some years ago.

Suppose you meet a man preparing to commit suicide. He's strapped a vast amount of explosive to himself and is preparing to flip the switch. You remonstrate with him; he's going to kill not only himself but a lot of innocent bystanders. He is adamant that he wants to commit suicide, however, and is going to do it in a few moments - you can't stop him.

Grisez's case was about the question of whether you could help him in committing suicide by a means which did less damage to others. What it takes for granted is that it would be better for him to use an alternative means of killing himself. That doesn't make it right, but it is still better. Perhaps he would still go to hell, but his punishment in hell would be less severe.

That's the Holy Father's point: some sins are more serious than others. There is a view among some Protestant thinkers that all sins are equally bad: even the smallest sin is an offense against an infinitely good God, and so infinitely bad and worthy of infinite punishment. That is not the Catholic view. Sins come in degrees. Killing 6 million Jews is more serious than getting involved in a bar-room brawl, even if the latter is a mortal sin. Working as a male prostitute is a totally immoral way of life, involving daily sins of an extremely serious kind: sins categorised as crying out to heaven for vengeance. Does it make any difference if a male prostitute also steals, lies and hits people? Of course it does. Would it be better if he took even non-fool-proof measures to lessen the risk of infecting his clients with a deadly disease? Yes it would.

Would this apply to a female prostitute? Not necessarily, because condomistic heterosexual sex outside marriage is morally worse than non-condomistic heterosexual sex outside marriage. Using a condom in homosexual sex makes no difference because it neither acts as a contraceptive nor does it deform the sexual act itself, making it an un-natural sexual act (it can't do that because it is already an un-natural sexual act), as (it has been argued) the use of condoms for heterosexual sex does.

This is not the kind of thing I normally write on this blog, but it needs to be said. For more on the Pope and condoms, see my Philosophy blog here and here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A fun evening with the Sons

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In Caffe Caldesi with the Sons!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer: in London on Saturday

On Saturday (20th November) the Latin Mass Society is having its annual Confirmation service in St James' Spanish Place, at 11.30am; the candidates are being confirmed by Bishop George Stack according to the usus antiquior. Among the candidates will be a postulant of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, the traditional community from Papa Stronsay formerly known as the Transalpine Redemptorists. Their candidate will be accompanied by Fr Anthony Mary F.SS.R. and some brothers.

The reconciliation of the Sons to the Holy See is a wonderful fruit of the Holy Father's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, and this is an unusual opportunity to meet Fr Anthony and some of his confreres without travelling to the Orkneys! Fr Anthony will be saying a private Mass at Spanish Place after the Confirmations are over, and after that he will be available to meet at the Cafe Caldesi, 118 Marylebone Lane, a 2-minute walk from St James, during the afternoon and evening. Please join us for tea or dinner!

From St James' you walk east along George Steet to the main road, Marylebone High Street / Thayer Street. Turn left into that and immediately right, and then first left.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Juventutem London launched - second meeting planned

Many congratulations to Juventutem London for their successful first meeting! It was attended by 15 people.

See their Facebook page.

Their next meeting will be:

Place: Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane (Map) for Mass and Restaurant (TBC) afterwards
Date: Friday 10th December
Time: 6.30pm Traditional Mass (Low) and after

Monday, November 15, 2010

Solemn Requiem in Wandsworth

Fr Martin EdwardsYesterday I went with my family to a Solemn Requiem in the Church of St Mary Magdalen in Wandsworth, for Remembrance Sunday. This is the church of Fr Martin Edwards, who gave the address to the Latin Mass Society AGM two years ago.

The celebrant was a newly ordained priest from American, Fr Ian McDole, was had been deacon at the AGM when Fr Edwards was subdeacon. Fr McDole's deacon was the well-known blogger Fr John Zuhlsdorf.
It is a very interesting church, built at the beginning of the 20th Century and lovingly restored by Fr Edwards over many years. It is bigger than it seems from the outside, because it is very broad, and the Mass was well attended.
The choir was extremely good; the sang much of Durufle's Requiem, some very polished Gregorian Chant, and even a bit of Handel.
At the end of Mass Fr McDole gave first blessings.
And then we had some refreshments with Fr Edwards. Here I am talking to Fr Z.
2010 11 14_8182
More photo here; slideshow.