Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reply to Tom McIntyre

It can be a difficult question whether to lend credibility and publicity to opponents by responding to their attacks, especially opponents so notoriously dull, wrong-headed, and maddeningly persistent that they have become a laughing stock by their own efforts. Such a one is Tom McIntyre, who appears what seems like every week in the Letters page of the Catholic Herald. (See comments on him here and here.) I used the search facility on the CH's electronic archive to make sure of this and since July 2007, that is, over the course of less than 44 months, he has had 47 letters published. How many he has actually written is anyone's guess, since his letters display no special expertise, he has no position such as might lend them authority, and he does not speak for any particular group.

The archive goes back to 2003 and his output shot up when Summorum Pontificum was published. It has been his special project to obscure what is clear in the document, and since misunderstandings about it persist in other quarters it seems right to take the opportunity to correct some of them.

So here is the last paragraph of his latest effort, and my reply, published by the Catholic Herald last weekend.

From Tom McIntyre, with my emphasis and comments.

The Old Rite's individualist allure has intensified with postmodern vogues for the antique, the "retro" and the exotic in religion. [Met any 'post-modern' trads? Me neither. Among insults, this is a new one.] How wise, then, of the Pope to make it clear that, in parishes, Summorum Pontificum's concession [actually, it gives Catholics a right, not a concession] of the 1962 Missal as an extraordinary use applies when a body (coetus) of adherents to the previous liturgical tradition is well-established. [Actually, it applies in every parish.] As Mr Medlin says, the Motu Proprio is carefully drafted: otherwise the vagueness of coetus - "crowd" or "assemblage" - might seem a problem. [McIntyre is a retired Latin teacher. But this is weak stuff.] But the document has already clarified that. It concerns those places where the faithful have been, and still are, emotionally attached to and culturally steeoed in the previous form in very large numbers (haud pauci). [So strictly over-70s only? See below.] Indeed, the Pope later told reporters in France that the beneficiaries of Summorum Pontificum would be "a small group, given that it presupposes a formation in Latin." [He says the same thing in the Letter to Bishops, but he's talking about priests, not the laity. 'Formation in Latin' wasn't a requirment on laity in the old days, and there's no reason why it should be now.]

Yours faithfully,

Tom McIntyre.


As usual McIntyre presents what American military strategists call a 'target rich' field but to avoid filling the entire Letters page I have to be selective as to what I respond to. The stuff about post-modernism is too wacky to bother with but a casual reader might just think McIntyre has found a restrictive reading of the Motu Proprio worth a second glance. But he hasn't.


Tom McIntyre (Letters, March 18) repeats his tired claim that 'in parishes, Summorum Pontificum ... applies only where a body (coetus) of adherents to the previous liturgical tradition is well established', and not newly established or small in numbers. Last time (Letters, Sept 3, 2010) he attempted to argue this point by a tendentious translation of a word which does not even appear in the official Latin text [the old 'continenter'-'stabiliter' confusion, recommended for insomniacs]. This time he takes a phrase from the preamble, ‘haud paci’ (‘not a few’) and applies it to the word ‘coetus’ (the ‘group’ seeking the Extraordinary Form) seven paragraphs later. 2011 03 26_8580
(A non-stable group, in fact a moving one, at the York Pilgrimage last Saturday.)

To be clear, the document says that it was the 'not a few' requesting the Traditional Mass who encouraged John Paul II to issue an indult back in 1984 (penultimate paragraph of the preamble). Later, Article 5 talks of a 'group of faithful' who are given the right to ask for the Traditional Mass. The two paragraphs are talking about completely different things. Were further refutation of Mr McIntyre needed, the Motu Proprio tells us that requests for the Traditional Mass can come not only from 'well established' groups, but transient groups attending pilgrimages and weddings (Art. 5), and young people discovering this form of the Mass for the first time (see the Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio).

Since Summorum Pontificum was published in July 2007 Mr McIntyre has had no fewer than 47 letters published in the Catholic Herald letters page, of which 20 concern that document and related issues. The reasonable tone of these letters belies an obsessive attempt to occlude the pastoral concern of the Holy Father and the treasures represented by the Church's liturgical traditions with his own peculiar prejudices.
Surely by now even the most occasional reader of The Catholic Herald is sufficiently familiar with Mr McIntyre's views. Can't we finally say, enough is enough?

Joseph Shaw Chairman,
The Latin Mass Society

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mass at Holy Cross, Leicester

2006 03 20_8609
We stayed Saturday night in York after the pilgrimage and came home on Sunday morning, taking in Mass at Holy Cross, Leicester, the Dominican Priory. Fr Thomas Crean OP, the LMS Chaplain for the Midlands, usually says this Mass, which takes place at 12.30pm each Sunday. It takes place in a large side chapel, although the congregation were spilling out into the pews in the nave.
2006 03 20_8612
I have never visited the church before, and it is very impressive. I was able to see myself the new shrine to the English Martyrs which was recently dedicated by Bishop McMahon of Nottingham - Bishop McMahon is himself a Dominican, and also says the Traditional Mass, and he took the opportunity to be the first Ordinary in England and Wales to say an EF Mass in his own diocese.
Pontifical High Mass @ Leicester
Here's a photo from Mike Forbester's set (the same Mike Forbester who organised the chant in York for St Margaret Clitherow, of Rudgate Singers fame). (There's more on this Pontifical Mass here.)
2006 03 20_8622
Here's the shrine. It is nicely done, though it seems slightly odd for it not to have an altar attached to it.

The congregation was full of families with small children. They characterise congregations at regular Traditional Masses in most places, but here in Leicester the small children seemed to outnumber the adults!
2011 03 27_8527

Monday, March 28, 2011

LMS Pilgrimage to York: more photos

2006 03 19_8658
Statue of St Margaret Clitherow on the Church hall at the English Martyrs.

2011 03 26_8540
The Choir of York Minster filled with pilgrims during Mass.

2011 03 26_8542
Fr Stephen Maughan, the celebrant, in the pulpit.

2011 03 26_8548
York Minster's Dean (the Very Reverend Keith Jones), and the Precentor (the Reverend Canon Peter Moger), during Mass.

2011 03 26_8558
Ecce, Agnus Dei.

2011 03 26_8562
Fr Leon Pereira OP, Prior of Holy Cross, Leicester, distributing communion.

2011 03 26_8568
The front of the procession, from York Minster to the Church of the English Martyrs, via the Shambles (where St Margaret Clitherow lived) and Ousbridge (where she died for the Faith).

2011 03 26_8580
Pilgrims in the procession sqeezing in and out of the Shrine to St Margaret Clitherow in the Shambles.

2006 03 19_8663
Extremely cool notice-board in the shape of a gallows at the Church of the English Martyrs.

2011 03 26_8582
Church of the English Martyrs packed out with pilgrims, for Benediction and veneration of the relic.

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Fr Michael Brown, the LMS Chaplain for the North, blessing the pilgrims with the Blessed Sacrament.

2006 03 19_8678
St Margaret Clitherow's hand, venerated at the English Martyrs by the pilgrims. It's usual abode is the Bar Convent not far away.

LMS Pilgrimage to York: report and pictures

2006 03 19_8642
We're now back from our trip to York, a stunning event which exceeded our most hopeful expectiations. Numbers were up to about 800 in York Minster, they Minster ushers brought masses of extra chairs into the choir but there was still a big crowd outside the Rood Screen in the nave, and we ran out of hosts, even though they were being broken up into small fragments.
2006 03 19_8634
The procession through the streets of York was very impressive; we saw St Margaret Clitherow's Shrine in the Shambles (not, apparantly, exactly where she lived, but in the same street),2006 03 19_8656 her place of execution on Ousebridge, and we walked on past the Bar Convent to the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs, where we had Benediction and venerated her relic (her hand).
2006 03 19_8657
It was a great witness to the Faith, and a testament to the devotion of English Catholics to St Margaret Clitherow. The Minster authorities were extraordinarily welcoming to us, many thanks to them; the Dean, The Very Reverend Keith Jones, and the Precentor, Canon Peter Moger, attended the Mass in their special seats in the Choir.
2006 03 19_8668
It was wonderful to have Mass there in this ancient and awe-inspiring church. Until now the Catholic Mass has been celebrated in the Minster only once since it was banned by Queen Elizabeth, in the 1980s, but that was in the Crypt. (This event rings a vague bell with me, I think I heard about it when I was at school up the road at Ampleforth.) However, we had a Traditional Sung Mass, at the High Altar itself, with William Byrd's Five Part Mass sung extremely well by the Rudgate Singers. I was with the greatly expanded, 12-strong Chant Schola myself. Fr Stephen Maughan, the celebrant, preached very well on St Margaret, and we had a large number of clergy in choir.

Matt Doyle brought 52 people with him on a coach from Birmingham, including three priests. A party came from Reading, and a large group from Allerton Bywater I think. I spotted a good number of bloggers there, there are reports already up in a few places and my photos are uploading right now!

The full set of my pictures can be seen here; there are more here. Some of my best pictures are still uploading as I write so I'll be posting more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last call for the SCT Family Retreat

2010 04 10_5628
We now have more than a hundred people coming to the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat, 8-10th April, but there are still spaces! Please get your application form (download it here) in NOW!
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The Family Retreat is open to all, not just families, but we call it the Family Retreat because we make special provision for children of all ages. This is the sixth Family Retreat we have run, the second in the current, excellent location, the Oratory School, Woodcote, RG8 0PJ, located between Oxford and Reading.
View Larger Map

It is a unique occasion, with traditional liturgy (Mass, Vesppers, Compline, Benediction) and devotions, spiritual talks and talks and activities for the children. The Oratory School, with its two chapels and set in glorious grounds, is the ideal venue.

2010 04 10_5641
It is £190 for a couple, which is compares very well to prices for retreat centres around the country. Nevertheless the Latin Mass Society has set money aside to make this available to as wide a group as possible and will pay half the cost for anyone who ticks the box on the application form. So you have no excuse not to come!

The retreat starts on Friday afternoon, with Mass at 5pm, followed by dinner at 6.30. You can register either before Mass or after Mass, if you can't make the earlier time.
It ends with lunch on Sunday.
2010 04 10_5675

More photos here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The LMS goes to the polls

All over the country LMS members are filling in a simple 'Yes-No' ballot on a new constitution. This is part of the reform of the Latin Mass Society's internal workings which I've mentioned a few times on this blog, but is largely invisible to the outside world.

The revision of the constitution was a matter of some urgency because the old constitution was ambiguous in some respects, notably on Committee elections. I put it at the top of my agenda when I became Chairman and we worked away at it - yup, it has taken three years! Part of the delay, however, is due to the promise of new regulations effecting charities which never materialised due to the change of Government. We had to wait to see if this was going to happen, and it seems it isn't.

I hope LMS members are taking the time to look at the documents sent to them (the old constitution, the new constitution, and a table of the most important changes) and voting. Apart from tidying up the loose ends of the old one the most important change is to the size of the Committee: from a total of 15 people it is being reduced to 10. It is a well-known rule that the bigger the committee, the less effective it is. In fact the Committee has already been reduced in size; until (I think) the revision of the constitution made in 1992, there were 18 people on it.

In the past the LMS Committee had two functions for which enormous size were useful: it served as a way for the Officers to keep in touch with developments around the country (since you could expect every part of the country to be represented), and it facilitated the corralling of volunteers for specific tasks. The first was particularly important when much of the LMS' work was delicate negotiations with bishops; now local Representatives can simply get on with organising and promoting local events, without needing United Nations negotiating teams to help them, regular face-to-face reporting back to Chairman and Committee is not so necessary. The development of a paid staff and teams of locally-based volunteers (especially in London) makes the second less necessary as well.

The function of the Committee today is, in fact, the obvious one: to formulate policy. We need to have fairly open-ended discussions about what we should be doing and how to do it; such discussions become harder the more people there are in the room, and organisations with enormous committees tend to have the real discussions, and make the real decisions, elsewhere.

The size of the Committee is a factor contributing to the efficiency of internal decision-making, but I wouldn't say the big Committee of today has been a big problem - it just makes sense to trim it since we have to change the Constitution anyway. It is just one part of the development of the LMS, which has seen a new office, a new website, and a new General Manager. We are now looking for a new Magazine Editor to re-launch our magazine, 'Mass of Ages'. This is a very exciting time for the Society: if you are not a member, why not join?

When I became Chairman there was a lot of talk about the 'direction' the LMS was going in. The talk was a little baffling because no one seemed to know what this direction was, despite having very strong views about it being a good or a bad thing. I've come to realise that this seeming paradox was quite natural: because people didn't know what was going on, they began to think something sinister was being cooked up behind closed doors. It's been a while since I've heard that kind of talk now: if you want to know what direction the LMS is going in, have a look at the website and you'll see all our initiatives and activities. Not only are we actually doing things, but they are all in the open; there's no need for cloak-and-dagger stuff after Summorum Pontificum. God bless the Pope!

Like to edit the LMS Magazine?

The Latin Mass Society's magazine, Mass of Ages, is in need of a new Editor: John Medlin, our longstanding editor, will be retiring after the August issue.

Mass of Ages is not just a members' newsletter; it is on sale in a good number of Catholic bookshops, and its 36 pages contain articles about all sorts of issues of Catholic interest. The new editor would have the task of giving it a thorough revamp and taking it into full colour. See the notice on the website.

This is a part-time job, which can be done from home and would suit a freelance journalist. We envisage it taking the equivalent of about 3 full-time weeks for each of the four issues a year.

Anyone interested can get the full details, and have a chat about it with, our General Manager Mike Lord:
or ring 020 7404 7284

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Was the loss of the Papal States a good thing? Reply to Weigel

George Weigel, the well-known biographer of Pope John-Paul II who in many ways encapsulates the 'neo-conservative' position in the Catholic debate, writes that the loss of the Papal States in 1870 was a good thing. This is a widely held view, but it is in serious need of re-examination.

It is worth recalling how the Papal States worked. The Pope was the temporal ruler of a section of central Italy; the precise dimensions varied but he had been the de facto ruler of a serious buffer-zone around Rome since he took that responsibility from otherwise preoccupied Byzantine Emperors in the 6th Century. So this is not some late Medieval aberration, but something almost inseparable from the notion of the Papacy since shortly after the Church emerged from the catacombs. The states were never in a position to defend themselves against the great European powers, but were established as a neutral zone protected from aggressors by friendly powers, usually the French or the Holy Roman Empire. In the 19th Century they came under attack by fanatical anti-clerical nationalists, but the attempts by Garibaldi to provoke a popular uprising against Papal authority (which would have provided the Piedmontese with an excuse to invade 'to restore order') fell flat thanks to the popularity of the Pope and the energetic response of Pius IX's small armed forces, the Roman militia and the specially recruited international Papal Zouaves. So in the end the Piedmontese conquered the states without the smallest fig-leaf of justification, when France was distracted by the Franco-Prussian war.

Wiegel says: "Pio Nono ordered his own troops to fire one volley, “for honor’s sake” — to emphasize that Italy was acquiring Rome by force and not consent." Yes, that's right: but this in the context of a campaign of shelling by the Italian forces and the repulsion of Italian troops from Papal positions. It also came after a decade of fighting, which was again far from token. Weigal is trying to re-write history, much to the discredit of the Pope's heroic defenders, many of whom paid for the Pope's freedom with their lives. (For a full account, see Charles Coulombe's book, 'The Pope's Legion'.)

Why does he think the loss of the Papal States was a good thing, when countless Popes (who were, after all, on the ground at the time) made their preservation the keystone of their diplomacy? Weigel talks of the considerable achievements of Pope Leo XIII, and without further argument asserts:

"None of this would have been possible if Leo had been stuck managing a minor European state in the middle of the Italian peninsula and trying to reconcile his evangelical functions as Successor of Peter with the requirements of daily statecraft."

Really, George? This is a truly staggering claim. What about all the theological achievements of earlier popes? Every single one of them, in fact, since the 6th C. Perhaps they delegated the temporal responsibilities of the Papal States, like sensible people. Does Weigal think Leo XIII would not have done the same? (It may be worth pointing out the serious worries which later popes have had in relation to the tiny enclave they currently control: remember the Vatican Bank scandal, the campaign to oust the Vatican from the UN, the battle over diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, etc. etc..)

But the claim is revealed as even more bizarre when one reflects what was actually going on, in terms of theological achievements led by the Pope, in 1870. Has Weigel heard of the First Vatican Council? This was in session at the very moment that the Papal States finally fell. It wasn't a coincidence: Italian anti-clericals, like anti-clericals all over the world, were enraged by the declaration of Papal Infallibility, and they wanted to bring the Council to an end by force. The First Vatican Council therefore remained unfinished, and it was impossible in the decades to follow to convoke another.

In other words, the greatest theological achievement of the age was made possible by the Papal States. It became impossible to complete because of the loss of the Papal States. And George Wiegel thinks that the loss of the Papal States was a good thing because it led to greater theological achievements. Make sense of that if you can.

The Popes knew that if they lost the Papal States they would lose their freedom of action. The disastrous termination of the First Vatican Council is one illustration, another is the famous matter of the Popes' attitude to Fascism and Nazi genocide. Unless Weigel has been asleep for twenty years, he will have noticed that the alleged complicity of Pius XI with Mussolini and the alleged silence of Pius XII about the Holocaust were the biggest sticks used to beat the Church until the clerical sex abuse issue took over. The claims routinely made by the Church's enemies on these topics are grossly exaggerated if not completely false, but the fact remains that it was extremely difficult for Pius XI and Pius XII to proclaim the Gospel to the needs of the time in the middle of a Fascist state, let alone when the Nazis occupied Rome directly later in the war. The lack of a proper Papal State was not, for them, a blessed release from boring temporal duties, but a serious handicap in performing their spiritual tasks. Pius XI negotiated the tiny Vatican City State, which helped: the notion of German secret police having direct authority over St Peter's Basilica and the Papal bedchamber doesn't bear thinking about. But having a proper state would have transformed the situation.

Remember, Pius XII wanted to help Jews and others fleeing from the Nazis and found room for them in every nook and cranny of Castel Gandolfo, his extra-territorial summer residence. His own apartment there was turned into a maternity ward. Refugees were sleeping in the corridors and on the stairs. This work of mercy, however, was severely curtailed by the physical limitations of the Vatican State, and many other refugees had to be housed, much more dangerously, in religious institutions of various kinds in occupied Rome. What part of this, Mr Weigel, shows the great advantage of not having to worry about the Papal States?

(Pictures: Papal Zouaves; Bl. Pius IX; a famous photograph used to associate Pius XII with Hitler. It actually shows Eugenio Pacelli, before his election as Pope when he was Papal Nuncio in Germany, leaving a state function during the Weimar Republic. Although the soldiers are indeed wearing German uniforms, the Nazis had not yet come to power.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Packed day of recollection for St Joseph's Feast in Westminster

Fr Andrew Southwell, the LMS National Chaplain, gave a spiritual conference followed by Solemn Mass in Westminster Cathedral. He spoke to a packed auditorium.
This event is a new initiative; in part it is a response to the fact that we can't have our Annual General Meeting this year in Westminster Cathedral, because all the Saturdays in June are booked out with confirmations. So rather than have only one Solemn Mass in the Cathedral (the Requiem in November), we arranged this as well. A very successful event which we shall certainly repeat.

The celebrant at Mass was Fr Andrew Southwell; the Deacon: Fr Martin Edwards; the Sub-deacon: Fr Patrick Hayward.

There are more photos here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anglican convert-bishops made Monsignori

From the Catholic Herald:

The Pope has honoured three former Anglican bishops, the first members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, with the title of monsignor.

Fr Keith Newton, the leader of the Ordinariate who has most of the functions of a bishop, and Fr John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, have been granted the papal award of Apostolic Pronotary, the highest ecclesial title for non-bishops. Fr Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, has been granted the papal award of Prelate of Honour, and is therefore also a monsignor.

Congratulations, Monsignori!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LMS Day of Recollection with Fr Michael Cullinane

The Latin Mass Society's annual Day of Recollection is taking place as customary in St Edmund's College Ware. The College boasts one of the finest chapels of EW Pugin in the country, and the only one never to have been reordered.
We always have distinguished priests giving these days of recollection; this year we are delighted to have Fr Michael Cullinane, a long-term friend of the LMS and a scripture scholar. He is the head of the theology department at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham.

Day of Recollection will be held

at St. Edmund’s College, Ware

On Saturday, 9th July 2011 at 11 a.m.

The retreat will be preached

by Fr.Michael Cullinan

Solemn High Mass in the Traditional Rite will be celebrated at 12 noon

And there will be

Solemn Vespers and Benediction

at 3.30 p.m.

The cost of the Retreat remains at £5

Bring your own lunch

Tea & coffee will be provided

For more information contact:


Mike Mason on telephone no. 01983.567996

or Mobile: 07810.778160

(Photos show Fr Andrew Southwell celebrating Mass in the chapel at St Edmund's College, in June 2009.)