Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh to be proved wrong

When Gerhard Müller was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr Basil Loftus was on cloud nine. Archbishop Müller was criticised by some conservatives for things he had written in a work of speculative theology only available in German. Such criticisms were ambrosia to our good Monsignor.

On the 8 July 2012, he gave his assessment of where the critics were going wrong. ‘Quite simply, he [Archbishop Müller] is profoundly scholarly and spiritual, and they [his critics] are not.’

If only life were so simple. A year and a week later, after Archbishop Müller came out strongly against changing the Church's discipline to allow divorced and re-married Catholics (unrepentant ones, that is) to receive Holy Communion, Loftus changed his tune.

He wrote, on 14 July 2013: ‘Quite honestly, if the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is Prefect, sees its roles as setting limits to God’s Mercy, then it is not fit for purpose.’

Loftus doesn't burden his readers with the fact that this represents a complete turnaround. But there are a couple of things we can learn from this debacle.

I don't mean that Loftus is fallible. We knew that already.

Müller was never like Loftus. His views on the Virgin Birth may be controversial, but - as far as I know - they were contributions to a theological debate, not published in a newspaper available to the Faithful at the back of church. Part of the picture we had of Müller from the start was his opposition to radical dissident groups like 'We Are Church'. Loftus' euphoria blinded him to this.

Müller is now going to be tarred and feathered, like so many of his predecessors in his office, by extreme progressives, as a stick-in-the-mud. His nuanced view of the Virgin Birth is going to be irrelevant. With the burning of Pope Francis in effigy by feminists in Argentina, we are beginning to see the same thing happening to him.

Sadly for the likes of Mgr Loftus, Müller is, fundamentally, a Catholic. And so is Pope Francis. He shouldn't be surprised. But he will be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Loftus attacks more Bishops


Mgr Basil Loftus excels himself in last weekend's column: The Catholic Times, 24th November 2013.

'These excesses [French monarchism, the Order of St Lazarus] are fortunately peripheral in Britain, but we do see churches dedicated exclusively to the celebration of the Tridentine-rite liturgy which sometimes ignore strict prohibitions on the use of thrones and canopies, on the vesting of bishops in the sanctuary rather than in the sacristy, on the washing of a bishop's hands with Jeeves-like servants and on the continuing cult of non-existent saints such as Philomena, who has been banned from every calendar in the world, only to become a cult figure for the opponents of liturgical reform. The totems of opposition to post-conciliar Kingdom liturgy are erected in several places where Tridentine-rite liturgy is permitted, even here in Britain.


Now hang on a minute. Under certain conditions, according to the 1962 books specified by the legislation governing the Extraordinary Form, bishops can vest in the sanctuary. Those are the rules. It is not 'strictly forbidden': that is a fantasy. Anyway, I though Loftus hated it when people insisted on rubrical exactness? Oh, only selectively. When it suits him, he uses imaginary liturgical legislation to attack some of our English bishops: shown here are Bishop McMahon of Nottingham, and Bishop Drainey of Middlesbrough. Are they dangerous extremists, Mgr? (The places these Masses are taking place, incidentally, are not even regularly used for the EF, let alone exclusively: the chapel of Ratcliffe College, and St Wilfrid's in York.)

Bishop McMahon vests in the Sanctuary: more photos
But what's this about multiple churches where only the Traditional Mass is celebrated? I know of none: not one. (Loftus talks about it being 'permitted', so we are not talking about SSPX places of worship.) In SS Peter and Paul and St Philomena, where the Institute of Christ the King say Mass in the Wirral, the Ordinary Form is also celebrated once a week (on Fridays: look at their weekly newsletter). No other church in Britain comes close to this level of dedication to the EF: wherever else the EF is celebrated, it is in a church belonging to an standard Ordinary Form parish, with the exception of a handful of private chapels, inside the homes of priests belonging to the Traditional Priestly societies, or in the Orkneys belonging to the Sons of the Holy Holy Redeemer.

(I've addressed Loftus' drivel about St Philomena here.)

Bishop Drainey, presiding at High Mass for the LMS York Pilgrimage in 2012: more photos
Many of the current difficulties with integrating the celebration of Tridentine-rite Masses into the overall liturgical jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop stem not from Summorum Pontificum itself but from the Ecclesia Dei Commission's application of it. For instance it has ruled that any priest may roam around the countryside seeking fellow-enthusiasts and with no other Eucharistic-community qualification, then demand to be allowed to celebrate a Trindentine-rite Mass in any church they choose. This is plainly nonsensical.

Vesting in the sanctuary

Here Loftus is presumably referring to the famous 'stable group' rule, which allows groups of those attached to the Traditional Mass to come together from different parishes, rather than ask for several Masses in several places. It seems quite sensible to me: and it is in the original legislation, Summorum Pontificum (Article 5); it's not something added later by the PCED.

Listening to the Gospel, fully vested.

Loftus goes on:

The Commission's sometimes sententious decisions which then followed also inhibit the free discussion among the People of God which helps to build a liturgy, old-rite or new, which is sensitive to the needs of time and place. It is simply arrogant and unjust for altar-girls to be forbidden the Tridentine-rite Masses. More and more there is an unjustified presumption that Communion at such Masses may only be received kneeling and on the tongue.'

Clearly, if you took the 1962 books and applied to them all the changes which happened afterwards you'd end up with the Ordinary Form. What would be the point of that?

As far as the PCED is concerned, what Loftus needs to get over is the final article of Summorum Pontificum:

Art. 12.  The same Commission [sc. Ecclesia Dei], in addition to the faculties which it presently enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See in ensuring the observance and application of these norms.

Tough luck, mate. Oh, and here's more tough luck. If you think that Pope Francis is going to conduct some kind of fanatical campaign against canopies, you're in for a disappointment.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Requiems last Saturday


For the second year, we have had a Traditional Sung Requiem in the chapel of St Benet's Hall, Oxford's Benedictine house of studies and a Permanent Private Hall of the University, which is my own academic home (I am a Fellow).


As last year, it was celebrated by Fr Edward van der Bergh, a priest of the London Oratory and a former President of the JCR at St Benet's. It was accompanied by the Schola Abelis (I was there, singing, so couldn't go to the London events.)


All Catholic institutions should pray for their deceased members; many do, of course, but by no means all. It doesn't have to be in November, though of course that it appropriate. If you are part of a Catholic insitution of any kind, find out what is organised and if it is inadequate ask for something better.


The Extraordinary Form is ideal in this respect. Although subject to the most extreme criticism by Bugnini (as I blogged here), it avoids a number of problems with the Novus Ordo Mass for the dead (see also here). It makes it completely clear that we are praying for the deceased, and it expresses our feelings in the most artistically and spiritually satisfying way. What the overwhelming majority of people want at a funeral, or an annual Mass for the dead, is something respectful, restrained, and beautiful. With the traditional Requiem Mass, that is what they get, whether in a little chapel like St Benet's, or in Westminster Cathedral, where the LMS' Annual Requiem took place on the same day.


The same day was the Towards Advent conference, at which the LMS and the Guild of St Clare shared a stall. We certainly attracted a crowd!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Interpreting Pope Francis

There is a flattering, though short, reference to this blog in the The Tablet this weekend, in the middle of a feature article about how Catholic conservatives and traditionalists are responding to Pope Francis, and particularly to the interviews he has been giving. Brendan McCarthy wrote:

Another English traditionalist blog, the Sensible Bond, has urged conservatives in the Church “to make a power play to get the Francis narrative under their control. [They] know he is using the liberal codes”. As if in response, Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, sought in an intriguing series of blogs to articulate how enthusiasts for the old rite could find common ground with Francis. He urged traditional Catholics to distance themselves from neoconservatives.

“We are not the ones who regard obedience as the only virtue, who think that the firm smack of discipline is the cure for all ills,” wrote Shaw, ridiculing the neoconservatives’ ultramontane enthusiasm for placing “enormous emphasis on the person of the Pope, seeking at all costs to endorse and live by even their non-Magisterial statements and philosophical preferences”.

It's not that I'm looking to accolades from liberals (and this is not exactly an accolade, anyway). I see this, rather, as vindication of my approach to Pope Francis, which consisted of separating what he had said from the interpretation of extreme liberals (since he doesn't think the Church's teaching is going to change), and from the trap conservative Catholics have got themselves into, by suggesting over the last two pontificates that loyal Catholics take every Pope's lightest word as the Divine Law. I've forced at least this Tablet journalist to give the distinctiveness of the traditional Catholic position a second glance.

You can see my series of posts on Pope Francis here.

(McCarthy misread the Sensible Bond, however: it didn't argue that conservatives should make a 'power play' to get control of the narrative, it observed that they had done so, and gave examples.)

I also posted about the interview Pope Francis gave to the atheist Eugenio Scalfari, and went so far as to say that a key, troubling proposition presented as a direct quotation of the Holy Father was, on closer examination, meaningless. It now seems that the interview has been pulled from the Vatican website and more or less repudiated. Certainly, we have been told quite clearly that no trust should be placed in the individual propositions purporting to be the Holy Father's words. They probably weren't.

The Traditional Mass is back in St Peter's, for the FIUV General Assembly
There has, in fact, been a noticable change of tone in the Papal news feed. Pope Francis rang up a journalist who had not only criticised him but been sacked for doing so, and told him that he appreciated the criticism, which had been made with love, and which he needed. This, as they say, was pretty big of Pope Francis.

He has also just congratulated the Fraternity of St Peter on the anniversary of their foundation, and emphasised the value of their charism and mission.

In a letter to the theologian Archbishop Marchetto he congratulated the latter, a critic of the 'Bologna School' of theology (the one which sees Vatican II as Year Zero of the revolution), and not only implicitly supported the hermeneutic of continuity, but thanked the recipient, again, for useful criticisms:

You have made this love manifest in many ways, including correcting a mistake or imprecision on my part - and for that I thank you from the heart -, but above all it is manifest in all your purity in the studies made on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Abp. Marchetto, and I wish to repeat it today, that I consider you to be the best interpreter [ermeneuta] of the Second Vatican Council.

Now he has done it again, writing in a new document, a letter to Cardinal Brandmuller on the 450th anniversary of the Council of Trent, and referring to the 2005 Address in which Pope Benedict XVI set out his hermeneutic of continuity stall as Pope.

Graciously hearing the very same Holy Ghost, the Holy Church of our age, even now, continues to restore and meditate upon the most abundant doctrine of Trent. As a matter of fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” (interpretatio renovationis) which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers not only to the Tridentine Council but also to the Vatican Council. The mode of interpretation, certainly, places one honourable characteristic of the Church in a brighter light that is given by the Same Lord (Benedict XVI): “She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Christmas Address to the Roman Curia).

I wonder what the liberals are going to make of all this. I'm not proposing that traddies now put happy pills in their tea and start dancing the aisles, as the liberals have been doing the last few months. But perhaps a more balanced picture is beginning to emerge, of a Pope who - like everyone - is a complex individual, and who - uniquely - has a very complicated job to do, and who - most unusually - was very little known when he took the job up.

Let us continue to pray for him.
Cardinal Brandmuller, with Fr William Barker FSSP next to him,
officiating at Vespers (which was followed by Benediction)
in the traditional form, for the FIUV, in the Chapel of the Choir
in St Peter's.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Loftus attacks Cardinal Ranjith

Cardinal Ramjith. I couldn't find a pic
of him in a cappa magna: maybe he's
not such a 'fetishist' after all.
Fresh from attacking (without naming) Bishop Hugh Gilbert, the very next column takes aim at Malcolm, Cardinal Ranjith, Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. I say 'attack'; this is not exactly a discourse of sweet reason, just an outpouring of vulgar, and possibly racist, abuse. From the Catholic Times,17th November 2013.

[Archbishop] Sorrentino was very briefly Secretary of the Worship Congregation [sic] at the very end of John Paul II's papacy, but was turfed out by Benedict XVI to make way for the Sri Lankan cappa magna fetishist and Tridentine-rite devotee, Malcolm Ranjith.

Further comment seems superfluous. Let's just have Canon 212, which is relevant to all critics of bishops and pastors.

§1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ann Furedi in Oxford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Requiem Mass in St Benet's on Saturday


There will be a Traditional Sung Requiem Mass on Saturday at 11.30am in the Chapel of St Benet's Hall, Oxford. It is being celebrated for the repose of the souls of the Hall's deceased members, staff, and benefactors; all are welcome.

St Benet's is 39 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LN

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A tale of two bishops, by Basil Loftus

Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer
Bishop Hugh Gilbert with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, a traditionalist
religious community whose reconciliation with Rome Bishop Gilbert sealed by
granting them canonical status.

While I was in Rome Mgr Loftus published (Catholic Times, 10th November) a particularly strange column in which the faults of two bishops are implicitly compared. One is the ex-, and now late, bishop 'Roddy' Wright, and the other is the current Bishop of Aberdeen, and former Abbot of Pluscarden, Hugh Gilbert.

To see what I mean you need to bear in mind that Bishop Gilbert was Abbot of Pluscarden from 1992 until he was appointed Bishop in 2011.

This is what Mgr Loftus wrote.

Over 11 years ago [ie around 2002]... I visited the Benedictine Abbey of Pluscarden. It is a wonderful centre of spirituality in this region ... As I looked around I saw a framed document signed by all the bishops of Scotland. It had to do with some canonical requirement, I forget what. But what I don't forget is the shameful way that the name of Roddy Wright, the former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, had been crudely scratched out. An attempt had been made to airbrush him out of history as a consequence of his defection. ...effectively, he had resigned his position in order to marry.
Bishop Roderick Wright, as he was.

So I have never felt able to return to Pluscarden, I would not be comfortable...

A little background (newspaper obituaries telling the story abound). Bishop Wright became bishop of Argyll and the Isles in 1992, at a time when, as he later recounted in an autobiography, he was not being faithful to his vow of celibacy. Shortly afterwards evidence emerged suggesting liaisons with four women, but his protestations of innocence were so vehement that the late Cardinal Winning and others were convinced and let the matter drop. In 1996, however, he disappeared, as did a lover of his, who abandoned her child (from her marriage, which had ended in divorce) in order to elope with him to Cumbria. This was upsetting not only to his flock and fellow bishops, but to another of his lovers who had had a child by him, who was also left behind.

The couple ended up in New Zealand. They married in 1998. Wright died in 2005.

Wright had the Last Rites before his death, and it is for God to judge his soul, indeed He has done so. From a human perspective we can, nonetheless, identify a number of moral problems with his public behaviour. He lived a double life for a number of years, which is of particular seriousness in a bishop. He was a hypocrite. He lied to good people, from Cardinal Winning and Bl Pope John Paul II down to the simple Faithful, who trusted him. He was unjust not only to them but to the women with whom he had affairs, and above all to his own child. The sudden revelation of all this was shattering to the Church in Scotland, and had a particularly devastating effect on the morale of the priests in his old diocese.

Mgr Loftus appears to shrug all this off as a mere peccadillo. He resigned in order to marry. Really? Why did the longed-for union not take place until two years later? Why, come to that, did he not resign first, but just flee? One gets the impression, in any case, that Wright would have found faithfulness within marriage almost as challenging as celibacy.

So much for him. Loftus is not so soft-hearted when it comes to judging Abbot Gilbert, as he then was. Scratching out Bishop Wright's name, or allowing it to be scratched out, or allowing the notice with the scratched-out name to remain hanging on the wall (for how long? does Loftus have any evidence it wasn't taken down as soon as this act of petty vandalism was noticed?): this is the sin which cannot be forgiven. Loftus won't even set foot in the Abbey again, desecrated as it has been by this terrible crime. More than a decade later he is still going on about it. Truly, the fires of hatred in Basil's heart are not quenched, and the worm dies not.

On the one hand we have a lifetime of hypocrisy, vain glory, lust, perjury, lies, and injustice. Easily forgiven, of course. On the other we have, at worst, a moment of shock, anger and grief, giving rise to an act of scribbling out a person's name on a notice, which harms no one. No no, never to be forgiven, never to be forgotten, always to be held up to the shame of Bishop Gilbert, who for all Loftus knows had nothing to do with it anyway, an eternal monument of disgrace to the entire institution of Pluscarden Abbey.

Bishop Gilbert, admired everywhere for his personal integrity, spirituality, and orthodoxy, is, in fact, the governor of the see in which Mgr Loftus resides.

It is so easy to talk about other people being unforgiving. It can be so difficult to forgive. Before we lambast others for being unforgiving, we should perhaps ask ourselves seriously if we can forgive them. Loftus writes in the same column:

Sadly, the judgemental option, the desire to show condemnation rather than mercy, is still deeply and seemingly ineradicably rooted in many parts of the Church.

You said it, Basil.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wardour Chapel: Low Mass

Even the modest exterior of the chapel on the right would not have been seen
when it was first built, before the Catholic Relief Act.
I have more to say about the FIUV in Rome but I break off to blog about my trip to Wardour last Saturday, to attend a Low Mass celebrated by Fr Philip Thomas. Old Wardour Castle (not far from Salisbury) was destroyed in the English Civil War, but the family seat before and after that was a haven for Catholics and the new, 18th century house included a truly splendid chapel which served a local area with a high density of Catholics thanks to the protection of successive Lords Arundell of Wardour.


Sadly the title died with a heroic Lord Arundell who contracted tuberculosis in Colditz Castle in the Second World War. The house was sold but the chapel is the property of a special trust, and as well as Ordinary Form Masses twice a week there is a quarterly Tradtitional Mass there on a Saturday.


It is the finest private chapel in the country, splendid in the deepest sense of the word. The Altar was made in Rome and shipped over.


I hope to see more Masses in this historic chapel.

A warning to ant-Catholic zealots thinking of disrupting Mass.
IMG_5876 IMG_1887 IMG_1884

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FIUV in Rome: more liturgies


When not in the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's, the FIUV General Assembly (and the LMS Rome Pilgrimage which was timed to coincide with it) had Mass and Vespers and Benediction in the chapel of the Convent hotel where the General Assembly took place, the Casa Maria Immacolata, which is close to the Vatican.


The highlight of this was Vespers and Benediction given by Archbishop Guido Pozzo on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran. Archbishop Pozzo is a previous and also present Secretary of the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei, who as Papal Almoner ordained two of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer from the Orkneys last Summer. (His replacement as Almoner is no less a personage that Cardinal Piacenza, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.)


It was in this chapel we had Mass on Sunday; it was celebrated by Mgr Gordon Read, the Latin Mass Society's National Chaplain; since it was Sung we had the Asperges at the beginning (below).


The chapel is not as splendid at St Peter's, but the acoustic was excellent, here is the FIUV choir, being conducted by Matthew Schellhorn. On Thursday evening they sang Ave verum by Fauré at Benediction after Vespers,

On Saturday evening, with Archbishop Pozzo, they sang Magnificat sexti toni by Vecchi in Vespers, which alternated with chant, and Ave verum corpus by Byrd for Benediction.

For Sunday Mass we had Mass for Four Voices by Byrd, Panis angelicus by Franck, and Rosa Mystica by Fauré, arr. Knowles & Turchetta.

On Sunday evening we the Vespers hymn Lucis creator optime alternating chant with a polyphonic setting by Washington, which was wonderful, and another polyphonic Magnificat, Magnificat Tone 1 à 4 by Viadana, At Benediction we heard Ego sum panis vivus by Byrd.

The musical side of the liturgy was tremendous, thanks to a lot of work from our dedicated professionals; Fr William Barker FSSP is also to be thanked for MCing the more complex liturgies, including Vespers with Archbishop Pozzo.


Mgr Read officiates at Vespers.


Fr Michael Brown, the other priest with the LMS pilgrims, said Low Mass at a side altar in St Peter's one morning, and I got a few photographs of him. He used the Chapel of the Presentation of Our Lady, and said Mass over the tomb of St Pius X who is buried there.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

FIUV in Rome: the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's

Mgr Soseman celebrating Mass
Last weekend and before and after I was in Rome for the General Assembly of the International Federation Una Voce. My photos are available and here is a taster.


We had two Masses and one Vespers and Benediction in the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's. This is not usually open to the public, so it was particularly interesting to see it; on the south side of the Basilica all one normally sees in an enormous wrought iron gate with a curtain behind it.


 At the previous General Assembly, we had one Mass in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which is smaller and less convenient (we displaced the people praying there before the Blessed Sacrament), though lovely. At the GA before that, we ended up in the Chapel of the Presentation of Our Lady, where St Pius X is buried, which is also beautiful but not exactly star billing.

Cardinal Brandmüller officiating at Vespers
As with other Traditional Catholic groups having pilgrimages to Rome in recent months, we have found the authorities' recognition of the Extraordinary Form as a legitimate expression of the Church's Law of Prayer has continued to increase under Pope Francis. Never has the FIUV had such liturgies in St Peter's: only a few years ago we were pleased to get into the crypt for Low Mass.

Cardinal Brandmüller blessing us with the Blessed Sacramnet

Our celebrants were, on the Friday evening, Cardinal Brandmüller, who officiated at the First Vespers of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, and gave us Benediction. The Lateran of course is the Cathedral of Rome, so this feast is First Class feast in the Diocese of Rome, with Vespers on the evening before as well as the evening of the day itself.


On Saturday we had Solemn Mass celebrated by Mgr Richard Soseman, an American priest working in the Congregation for the Clergy: photos at the top, who preached rather movingly of his own discovery of the Traditional Mass.

On Monday we had another Solemn Mass, celebrated by Mgr Pablo Colino, a musician and former Maestro of one of St Peter's choirs. Mgr Colino is very charming and rather forthright in his musical views.

Mgr Colino celebrating Mass

Luckily we had, in the elaborate organ loft, a superb professional choir, led by Matthew Schellhorn, with three male and two female voices and an organist. So we had a feast of flawless Gregorian Chant leavened with some superb polyphony, including pieces beautifully suited to the liturgies and venues.


So on Friday evening the Magnificat at Vespers in St Peter's was Magnificat primi toni by Palestrina; Benediction incoluded Elgar's Ave verum, and we had Bach's organ piece Fuga sopra il Magnificat BWV 733.


At Mass on Saturday we had Taverner, Tallis, and more Bach on the organ: Kyrie ‘Le Roy’ Taverner Mass ‘The Western Wind’ Taverner Bone Pastor Tallis, arr. Terry O nata lux Tallis: Toccata in C, BWV 564 Bach.

At Mass on Monday we had Mozart's Coronation Mass, and his Exsultate Jubilate (Alleluia), and
Ave Verum. We also had Messiaen's O sacrum convivium and the same composer's Apparition de l’église éternelle on the organ.


There are tons more photos: click on the links for Mgr Soseman's Mass, Mgr Colino's Mass, and Cardinal Brandmüller's Vespers.