Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 2

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Newly ordained priests of the Fraternity of St Peter
In my last post I argued for the moral seriousness of clerical infidelity. It may seem amazing that this would be necessary, but it is; the urge to instrumentalise these tragic cases to undermine the discipline of clerical celibacy is so strong, that liberals, who would normally be enraged by male authority figures taking advantage of vulnerable women before moving on to another victim, come over all indulgent and say that the Church is cruel to them in asking them to fulfil the vows which these men, presumably voluntarily, undertook.

There is more to say about these cases, and it was summarised very well by Rorate Caeli:

Is the bishop speaking for himself, or is he speaking on behalf of those blackmailing him? Is there truly such thing as a "moderate" bishop, or is he being "moderated" by the enemies of the Church out of fear that his duplicitous behavior will be revealed?

Let me spell it out a bit more. Bishop Conry was famous for his ‘liberal views’. Reading some of his remarks with the benefit of hindsight, it is impossible not to see his various women-folk behind his shoulder. Their influence can take a number of slightly different forms.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Corrupt bishops: why it is a problem: Part 1

It is hard to think of a precedent in England and Wales for what has happened to Bishop Kieran Conry, though there are plenty from other countries. The downfall of Cardinal O'Brien over the border in Scotland is an obvious one, a closer parallel, however, is afforded by the career of late Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (in north west Scotland), 'Roddy' Wright. I discussed this on this blog because Mgr Basil Loftus had declared that Bishop Wright had merely wanted to get married to the woman he loved. How sweet. Loftus neglected to mention that the wretched Wright had been having affairs with two women, one of them married, simultaneously, and eloped (this was back in 1996) with the one by whom he had not had a child; other affairs had apparently preceded this.

I have no wish to engage in prurient judgmentalism about Bishop Conry, but precisely because this is a new thing for us in England and Wales it is important to consider what we should learn from it.

What Basil Loftus would like us to conclude - and Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, was quick to make this point on Twitter - is that it is further evidence that mandatory clerical celibacy should be ended. This reaction has become such an ingrained reflex among liberals that they haven't stopped to think about the circumstances of this case. What sort of 'marriage' would have suited Bishop Conry or Bishop Wright? Some sort of free-wheeling polyamorous ménage, one assumes, open to women who are inconveniently married to other men, men who aren't necessarily very happy about sharing the marital bed with their bishop.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mass at St Walburge's, Preston

Allow me to interrupt the flow of appalling revelations about Bishop Kieran Conry with some good news! Yesterday the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a priestly institute committed to the Traditional Mass, took formal possession of the stunning historic church of St Walburge's in Preston, with a splendid Mass in the presence of Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, the Ordinary.

I couldn't make it, sadly, but here are some photographs taken by Martin Gardner: his complete album of the occasion can be seen here.

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St Walburge's is not just large and a nice old church - it is staggering, one of the gems of Catholic architecture in England.

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Bishop Campbell, who assisted at the Mass and preached from the fabulous pulpit.

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Mgr Gilles Wach, centre, is the Superior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. He is French, although the Institute's seminary is in Italy, near Florence. To his right (on the left of the photo) is the Rev Scott Tanner, a Institute seminarian who hails from Reading, currently a transitional deacon.

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Bishop Campbell is in purple in the centre, Mgr Wach in blue next to him. To the right of Mgr Wach (going left, in the picture) are two priests of the Institute: the recently ordained Canon Francis Altiere, who was with the LMS on the Walsingham Pilgrimage, and Canon William Hudson. Canon Altiere, an American, is going to be the shrine custodian at St Walburge's. Canon Hudson is currently the only English priest of the Institute; he is based in Brussels.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bishop Conry of Arundel and Brighton resigns

Update: the Mail on Sunday breaks a story about two relationships Bishop Conry apparently admits to having, here. Extract:

Although the letters do not disclose a sexual relationship, the affair lasted more than a year and involved the married woman spending at least three nights at the bishop's detached property in Pease Pottage, West Sussex.

The Mail on Sunday has also seen a love letter from the bishop to a second woman, whose name we are not publishing for legal reasons.

The bishop insisted that the affair with the mother of two was not the reason for his resignation. He said he had quit over a different relationship.

Confronted at his home last night, he said: 'This has nothing to do with your enquiries. It is totally unrelated. This relates to a relationship of six years ago. So be careful what you write. This had nothing to do with your earlier questions.'

Approached by this newspaper in June, the bishop denied any sexual relationship with the married woman but admitted she had stayed at his house twice, adding: 'She is not the only woman who has stayed here.'


His statement, to be read in parishes in his diocese this weekend, from the diocesen news blog.

Bishop Kieran Conry has offered his resignation as Bishop of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. In a statement he said:

Statement by Bishop Kieran Conry
I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest. I would like to reassure you that my actions were not illegal and did not involve minors.

As a result, however, I have decided to offer my resignation as bishop with immediate effect and will now take some time to consider my future.

I want to apologise first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this.

I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the Church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness.

There will be no further comment.


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Video on the Dome of Home


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This is an excellent presentation of the apostolate of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in New Brighton: the history of the church, the purpose of the shrine and so on. It even has me in it! And footage of the LMS Pilgrimage there which took place in August.



The Dome of Home from Philip Chidell on Vimeo.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Cristina Odone: doublethink on divorce and remarriage

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Forgiveness is never impossible. You just need to repent and queue up here.
I knew Cristina Odone had some odd views on divorce, and I even referred to them the other day, but I was taken aback by this passage in an article by her in the Telegraph.

How can my Church bar Suzanne, a friend whose husband spent the nights at his laptop, gambling away the family’s income? If she had not divorced him, after his broken promises to reform added up to nought, she risked her children’s future. Surely no priest can say she’s guilty of breaking God’s law? Nor is Suzanne’s case the worst: one priest, who offered to give me communion despite Church rulings, knew battered wives who’d finally found the courage to divorce their abusers – only to realise they would be divorcing their Church as well.

Such tales anger me. As did the practice of annulment, where you could effectively buy the Church’s collusion in untying the marital knot.


Is it possible that she is so muddle-headed that she thinks the Church bars people from Holy Communion for separating from an abusive spouse?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Michael Davies: ten years today. Pray for him.

Michael Davies died ten years ago today.

The Conference and Requiem Mass in his honour is taking place on Saturday 4th October in St Mary Moorefields, London: details and booking here. The Requiem will be High with a professional choir singing some great polyphony; the celebrant will be Fr Anthony Conlon. It will be at 4:15pm and anyone can turn up to that.

I was just becoming active in the Latin Mass Society at the time of his death, and sadly I never met him. But like so many people attracted to the Traditional Mass, one of the first things I did after chatting to some trads was, on their recommendation, to read Michael Davies' great trilogy, 'Liturgical Revolution' (Cranmer's Godly Order, Pope John's Council, Pope Paul's New Mass), which I can still recommend to everyone. Like all his works it is clear, thorough, and fair-minded. It opened my eyes to a perspective on the crisis in the Church which had been hidden from me up to then. Extensive further reading over the following years has confirmed the truth of it.

There is an excellent appreciation of him on Rorate Caeli. I include below, from it, the note sent by Cardinal Ratzinger when he learned of Michael's death.
‘I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy.’

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
9 November 2004.

Say a prayer today for him. Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pro-Life Witness in Oxford this Saturday: 25th Sept

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The Oxford Pro-Life Witness takes place this Saturday as usual, from 3 to 4pm.

The location is outside the Catholic Church of St Anthony of Padua, Headley Way, Oxford OX3 7SS (click for a map).

We pray the Rosary by the road, while some of us watch before the Blessed Sacrament in the church. The witness is normally led by Fr John Saward, priest in charge of the neighbouring parish of SS Gregory & Augustine's.

In recent months we have been blessed by a counter-demonstration, who play loud music, and, until the police intervened, tried to hide our displays with sheets. We outnumber them three or four to one; they have boosted our numbers enormously, as well as our determination. They, at any rate, seem convinced that we are a force against abortion which is worth opposing. And all we are doing is saying the Rosary, outside an empty abortion facility: the nearby John Radcliffe Hospital, where abortions do not take place on Saturdays.

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Exposition is concluded with a brief Benediction.
It is easy to despair of the pro-Life cause, which has been going on for forty years with, apparently, little to show for it. But where the effort and the prayers go in, we have our successes. The closure of the Bedford Square clinic in London shows what is possible.

Hoc genus in nullo potest exire, nisi in oratione et jejunio.
This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:28)

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The pro-abortionists efforts to prevent us being seen, back in January 2014.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Loftus: Vatican II ushered in 50-year 'winter'

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There must be no more post-conciliar winters, such as that which for nearly 50 years followed Vatican II, inhibiting new growth.

This is a pretty amazing assessment of the recent history of the Church, from some one who claims to support the message of the Council.

For most of his column for the Catholic Times, published on 29th August, Mgr Basil Loftus engages in one of his rambling explanations of why his every wish has the backing of the law of the Church, and in particular the Council, while nevertheless everyone else's is against the law of the Church.

The argument can be summarised in this way. When it comes to stopping people receive Communion on the Tongue:

Seriously unbalanced prejudice, whether it proceeds from a Roman Congregation or from an individual fundamentalist bigot [i.e. someone who prefers to receive on the tongue], is not a 'rightful expectation'. A local bishop in those circumstances is the equivalent of the military would call the 'field-commander'. He calls the shots.

When it comes to local bishops' failure to set up diocesan (as well as parochial) 'pastoral councils' of lay people, on the other hand:

The continuance of monarchical rule by certain bishops frustrates the rightful expectations of priests and people to share in the governance of the Church.

Right, so that's clear then, isn't it? When a bishop contravenes the right of the faithful to receive on the tongue, which is established by custom going back more than a millennium and affirmed by the latest Instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship (Redemptionis sacramentum 92), that is right and proper.

When a bishop fails to adopt something merely suggested by a Council document, in this case Apostolicam actuositatem 10 (even Loftus concedes the bishop 'is not directly breaking a law of the Church. Such [pastoral] councils are merely 'earnestly recommended'.'), then that is wrong: 'a dishonest flanking manoeuvre by those in authority', which should be met with noisy opposition by priests and people. Never mind that after exhaustive experimentation the bishop may have concluded that these councils are unworkable, and in practice undermine the authority and even the identity of bishops and priests as taught by the same Council.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Annulment reform: the problems

The Pope has appointed a commission to look into the annulment process, with a view to its simplification. They may come up with some good ideas: training, funding, dealing with delays and backlogs, and better marriage preparation. As a way of solving the 'Communion for the Divorced' issue, however, it is fraught with difficulties. I've mentioned them before on this blog (and here), here is an aide memoir.

1. Quicker and easier annulments are not what the progressives are asking for.

Readers will probably have encountered this attitude: 'I'm divorced and remarried and I don't want an annulment'. They don't want to say that the first marriage was not a real marriage. A famous example of the genre is journalist and former editor of the Catholic Herald, Cristina Odone. Basil Loftus has expressed the same idea. It comes down to the idea that the concept of 'putative marriage' is regarded as derogatory. It is a bit like convert Anglican clergy wanting their Anglican ministry to be acknowledged in some way. I can't help feeling, in the case of marriage, that there may be a fear of asking and being told not that the first marriage was never valid, but that it was...


2. Quicker and easier annulments undermine the certainty that the subsequent marriage is valid.

If the confidence of the Faithful in the annulment process is undermined, we will end up in a situation in which those who have been through the process and remarried are regarded, explicitly or not, as in a dubious or second-class situation. They won't get what they actually want, a publicly recognised valid new marriage, unless the process of annulment is seen by everyone as serious.

Did I say 'we could end up...?' Sorry, in places where the annulment process has been speeded up successfully, we've already arrived.


3. Quicker and easier annulments undermine Catholic marriages.

Since annulments are not considered until after a civil divorce, the prospect of an easy annulment will encourage people in rocky marriages to split up. They may also be influenced by the idea that, since apparently so few marriages are valid, theirs might not have been.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

American tourists sighted in Oxford

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It's not exactly an unusual sight, particularly over the Summer, but it is worth mentioning because these were in fact pilgrims, making a carefully planned tour of some of England's holy places under the care of a priest of the Fraternity of St Peter, Fr Michael Stinson, and a Fraternity seminarian, James Mawdsley. The pilgrimage was organised by Syversen Touring.

They joined the LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham (to the extent that their delayed flight permitted), and I caught up with them in the Oxford Oratory, for Low Mass, before joining them for lunch. They were about to go to Littlemore.

The Latin Mass Society was delighted to make a small practical contribution to their pilgrimage, and we'd be more than happy to do this again. Traditional Catholics from all over the world are more than welcome to our events and the many spiritual and historical riches of Catholic England.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Loftus on the Sign of Peace

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The Kiss of peace is hierarchical. It comes from the Altar, where the Lamb of God is present
(after the consecration), and is passed from the celebrant to the deacon, from the deacon to the subdeacon...
Loftus' Catholic Times column of 22nd August is a real crowd-pleaser. He trots out all the old favourite themes, but his main theme is an attack on the recent Instruction on the Kiss of Peace, as I predicted.

An attack on the Monsignorial title which is so vividly displayed in his byline, and often on the paper's front page, and which has stood him in such good stead against criticisms over the years:

...there is the Church-inspired colour-coded ranks, which Holy Father Francis has now begun to eliminate,

Pope Francis has done nothing of the kind - unless you count his failure to wear red shoes, something to which I have always refused to attribute any tremendous symbolic significance. Red shoes are not the kind of symbol Pope Francis is interested in: that's exactly why he doesn't bother wearing them.

...separating priests from people in a way that subordinates sacramental reality to social protocol, distinctive dress, and pompous titles.

Yes, we're looking at you, Monsignor.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Guild of St Clare takes on lace

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Lacemaking: a day's tuition with a highly skilled specialist in the home of a Guild member.

Members of the Guild of St Clare took part in three specially arranged lace-making training recently, as previously mentioned on this blog. I recently blogged about Mgr Loftus speculating in a jocular fashion about killing off curial officials with apoplexy if people were allowed to help themselves to Holy Communion; happily, both for the officials and for everyone else, this is not going to happen. If Loftus wants have apoplexy about the restoration of lace-making to the repertoire of the Catholic needlecraft experts who look after our fine vestments, that his affair. It really is happening. (For Loftus' froth-flecked views on lace see the end of this post.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Traditional Mass to end at Blackfen

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That's what Fr John Zuhlsdorf says: it will end by the end of Septemeber. According to my sources, which are probably the same as his, this is true. It was announced from the pulpit yesterday by the new Parish Priest, Fr Steven Fisher. It was his second Sunday in the parish.

If it isn't true, no one will be more pleased to put the record straight than I.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark did something very unusual in moving Fr Tim Finigan from the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen, to a parish in Margate. The usual thing is that, knowing that there was a long-established group attending the Traditional Mass in the parish, Archbishop Smith appointed a new Parish Priest who was able, and professed himself willing, to carry this on.

It is a tragedy that this hasn't worked. Fr Fisher has decided, for reasons which I'll leave to him to explain, that, having said he would continue to say the EF, he won't after all.

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Photos: a Mass celebrated in Our Lady of the Rosary in happier times. Set here.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Michael Sean Winters on Jansenism

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How to annoy a Jansenist. 1 Have lots of processions.
The days roll by, and Michael Sean Winters doesn't get round to correct the spelling of 'Damien Thompson' in his post about Jansenists and Jesuits. By the time you read this, it may have happened, but it is taking a mighty long time, even after Damian himself pointed out the error in the comments box.

Winters' substantive point has a similar level of accuracy. He thinks that the key to Pope Francis' critique of 'moralism', 'legalism', 'ideology' and so on is a rejection of Jansenism. (For my own interpretation, see here.)

Thompson fails to see that the Holy Father, above all, is engaged in an old struggle for the Society of Jesus: He is confronting the Jansenists of our day, the very same conservative Catholics in the English-speaking world whom Thompson thinks have the fire of the Gospel in their bellies. It is not the Gospel, but a hyper-moralistic concern against spiritual contagion that animates the conservatives Thompson champions. And, quite clearly, this is not what animates Pope Francis.

Has Winters even looked up Jansenism in a reference book? He doesn't appear to have a clue about it. They were not 'conservative Catholics': they were crypto-Calvinist heretics.

Leaving the matter at the level of the cartoon history of the Church, the Jansenists were an 18th century group of Catholics, eventually condemned by the Pope, and who eventually formed a schismatic Church in the Netherlands, characterised by a kind of crypto-Calvinism. This manifested itself in the rejection of free will and the notion of cooperation with grace, on which subject they quickly became locked in a ferocious pamphlet war with the Jesuits. The Jansenists included some brilliant polemicists, notably recruiting Blaise Pascal to their cause. The notion of unscrupulous Jesuits working out how to avoid the moral law owes more to these guys than to English or German Protestant polemicists of the 16th and 17th century.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

LMS Aylesford Pilgrimage, 11 October

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Sung Mass at 1.30pm, followed by a break for refreshments, a talk, Rosary and Benediction, and clothing with the Brown Scapular.

Click here for a map. There is a coach from London: email the LMS Office for details.

The complex was a Medieval Carmelite Priory, where St Simon Stock spent time. He may well have had his vision of the Brown Scapular here, and it is the world centre for this devotion. We have our Mass in the Relic Chapel, where his skull is preserved and can be venerated. Our pilgrimage always includes the clothing of candidates with the Brown Scapular.

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It came back into the hands of the Carmelites in the 20th century, and much of the artwork and architectural style dates from immediately after the 2nd World War.

Last year a Missa Cantata was celebrated for us by Fr Marcus Holden, and accompanied by some excellent polyphony.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Young people and the Traditional Mass: a response to 'T-C'

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Are there any young people in this picture? LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage

To my remarks about young people finding the Traditional Mass attractive, a commenter going by the name 'T-C' made a comment which I think deserves a wider audience.

Very nice to see.

As a young person myself, I just wanted to add something of my own personal experience.

Among those who are young that attend mass, not everyone has the same perspective. The ones who are willing to talk about the state of the mass in their parish, school, or University are usually the ones who are also traditional minded. They only see an issue in the first place because they have to some degree felt the influence of traditional Catholicism (or have an appreciation for tradition / culture in general).

The sad truth is that this is a very small amount of young people. 

Now there is an equally small minority that is activist like and does want to deliberately party up the mass and to use it like some social event. They have internal agendas just as the masons or other groups did. Although they are small, the undecided majority usually finds their suggestions more attractive than that of the traditional ones. After all, when we are young, there is this naive mindset that "new = what we must have", "change = good" etc.

So in practice, this is why it is so hard for the traditional minded young folks to change things. Most priests are aware that they exist. From my own personal experience, voicing concern does not help. Eventually you become the villain who is portrayed as the pharisees trying to stop the "innovative" ways for bringing in "converts". Most of the fellow neutral peers lap up that portrayal as well because they think we are fussing too much over something like the mass or faith in general. 

At the end of the day, the neutral amount of church goers among the young make up a large chunk. It is easier for a priest to sell them the idea that the mass is a social gathering/banquet than the traditional one which requires some effort to appreciate. It is also easier for them to see the trad youth as pharisaic or troublemakers who make those who follow the attractive trends in campuses feel like they are wrong. 

So the system continues....... 


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If you don't want to see thousands of young people from all over Europe, attracted by the
Traditional Mass, you'd better not look at photos of the Chartres Pilgrimage.
I agree with this, it makes sense, but as a not-so-terribly old person myself, in contact all the time with people younger than me, I'd like to add a few things of my own.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Michael Davies Conference, London 4th October: reminder


Full details and booking form can be found here

September 25th this year will be the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the giants of the Traditional movement, Michael Davies.

To mark the occasion a conference has been organised, not by the Latin Mass Society but with our support.

Date: Sat 4th October 2014

Time: Registration from 10am; first talk at 10:30; the conference concludes with a High Mass of Requiem at 4:15pm, which will be over by about 5:14.

Place: St Mary Moorfield, central London: in the parish hall (the basement below the church), with Mass in the church itself. Click for a map.

Speakers: Dr John Roa, Chris Ferrara, Michael Matt, and James Bogle, President of the International Federation Una Voce (FIUV).

Price: Tickets are just £15.

Full details and booking form can be found here.

The influence of Michael Davies was and continues to be immense. His numerous books, especially 'Pope John's Council' and 'Pope Paul's New Mass', introduce many to the Traditional Catholic approach to the crisis in the Church. Unfailingly fair-minded and orthodox, they set out the issues with great precision and clarity, and even a decade after the author's death are highly recommended.

To see a selection of his books on sale see here and here.
There are a good number of downloadable talks by him here and here.

As well as his books, Michael was active on the Committee of the Latin Mass Society, and as President of the International Federation Una Voce.

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The interior of St Mary Moorfield, in Passiontide (before the start of Tenebrae) this year.

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Saturday, September 06, 2014

LMS Pilgrimage to Rome this October: reminder

Time is running out to book on this pilgrimage, please don't leave it till the last minute! The deadline is 10th September.


Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Pell each to celebrate Old Rite Masses during this year's Pilgrimage


Cardinal Pell has agreed to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form on 24 October and Cardinal Burke has committed to celebrate in the Old Rite on 25 October. Both these Masses will form part of this year's pilgrimage.

Organised by an international group of friends of the Traditional Latin Mass (The Cœtus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum), this annual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome is at the same time an act of gratitiude to the Holy See for the landmark recognition in 2007 of the legitimate legal, moral and pastoral status of the Old Rite, and also a reminder that the Traditional Mass is here to stay and has so much more to offering restoring the Faith in the wider Church.

There will be members of the faithful attending from around the globe. The Latin Mass Society has decided to organise travel and accommodation to anyone from England and Wales who wishes to attend what promises to be a spectacular and inspiring few days in the Eternal City.

The LMS package includes:
Air flights to and from Rome Fumicino airport from London Gatwick
Coach transfer between the airport and hotel
Four nights' accommodation in a hotel close to the Vatican (bed, breakfast and 3-course evening meal)
Inclusive day-trip by coach to Norcia, home of St Benedict and now home also to a community of Traditional Benedictines.



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Friday, September 05, 2014

Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 3

In my last two posts I wrote about what our response can and should be to crimes, not personal crimes we have committed but those of the past (and for that matter of the present) which have, as it were, defiled the Church. Here I want to say a little more about the form reparation can take in practice.

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Clockwise from top left: St Cuthbert MayneBl John Nelson SJ, 
who forgave the Queen as he was disembowelled, Bl Everard Hanse
and Bl Thomas Sherwood, a layman. All executed under Elizabeth Tudor.
Here, again, is something relevant from Shakespeare. In his The Rape of Lucrece, Lucrece confesses her rape by Tarquin to her husband and father, and then commits suicide in front of them, plunging a knife into herself. Shakespeare describes what happens to her blood.
And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
Who, like a late-sack'd island, vastly stood
Bare and unpeopled in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remain'd,
And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin stain'd.
The idea here is that she did have some measure of guilt for what had occurred, and her death is a kind of expiation. It makes most sense, at least to a Christian reader, on Clare Asquith's reading: that Lucrece represents the English community, which in part remained faithful and in part apostatised under pressure from the Protestant Revolt. The shedding of the blood of the martyrs, which Shakespeare's description of Lucrece's suicide suggests, was a kind of expiation of the apostasy. The faithfulness of few, a faithfulness to death, in this way made up for the faithlessness of others. It makes the reconciliation of the whole country, the 'late-sacked island', more possible.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Job opportunity

I've been asked to spread the word.

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Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 2

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Good Friday Liturgy with the FSSP, Reading
In my last post, I suggested that what may be necessary in dealing with the crimes of our predecessors in the Church are two things: compensating the victims, and repudiating any ideological justification put forward for the crimes. My examples were anti-Semitism and paedophilia.

My discussion of past crimes has, deliberately, focused on issues where the crimes clearly really did take place, and clearly are crimes. I don't want to give the impression that I want to accept every accusation against Catholics as true: that will lead to injustice just as surely as treating every accusation as false. Nor am I, by any means, inclined to say that everything which has been done by Catholics down the centuries which does not meet the approval of modern liberals is a crime. Again, the hysteria surrounding the investigation of the recent past in Ireland shows that a lack of historical perspective, and extrapolation from insufficient information, can distort the picture to the extent that good people end up being depicted as monsters. Let us hope that the apology issued by the Associated Press news service over their own reporting of the Tuam excavations represents the high-water mark of this lunacy.

Plenty of crimes, however, are real enough; there is really no need to gild the lily. Looking at the child abuse scandal, for example, it is increasingly clear that it was a problem which affected a lot of institutions at a particular period of time, but that does absolutely nothing to excuse its presence in the Church. The seriousness with which this plague infected the Church is mind-boggling, and one may be excused for asking: what can possibly wash this from us?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Historic crimes: repentance and reparation, Part 1

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Top left: St Edmund Campion, top right St Ralph Sherwin;
bottom left St John Payne; bottom right Bl John Ford
All priests, tortured for information and executed on trumped up charges of treason
under Elizabeth Tudor. Stained glass from St Edmund's College Ware.

Further to my posts about 16th and 17th century Anglicanism and the Islamic militants of today, a similar argument has now been made in a mainstream publication, The Week, by its Senior Correspondent, Michael Brendan Dougherty. Dougherty's focus is on the policies which led up to, and responded to, the Irish Potato Famine of 1847: much closer to home than the Tudor persecutions. He makes an interesting point about local dissidents being used as a proxy for foreign enemies, a point related to something I have been saying about the problem of the Church being aligned too closely with the decadent West.

In this post, however, I want to explore another aspect of the problem. If we are to talk about the past, and the bad things which happened there, which may or may nor have parallels with the present, the question arises of the what attitude the modern successors of the evil-doers should have to it.

This problem is more acute for the Catholic Church than for most religious groups, for two reasons. One is that it is the oldest institution on earth, of which one can say: this man here is the lineal successor of that one from the distant past, with an recognisable institution around him. The English monarchy is not as old as the Catholic Church by a nearly five centuries, on the most generous analysis, and I can't think of any other institutions around today as old as that. Almost any event you care to mention in European history since about the third Century has the Catholic Church as a protagonist, and often she is the only one still around to shoulder any blame which might be going.

The other reason is that the Catholic Church does not repudiate her past teaching. As I remarked in my posts on Anglicanism, Anglicanism today is completely different from the Anglicanism of the 16th century. Modern Anglicans can, if they like, simply say that Cranmer (for example) was wrong. Why not?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

LMS Pilgrimage to Brinkburn Priory

Saturday, 6th September 2013: Pilgrimage to Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland



High Mass at 12 noon, to be celebrated by our Northern Chaplain, Fr Michael Brown.

The address is Brinkburn Priory, Longframlington, nr Morpeth NE65 8AR. 

The priory was once the home of Augustinian canons, who chose this idyllic riverside site in the midst of the beautiful countryside of Northumberland. The priory is situated between the towns of Morpeth & Rothbury.

The Priory Church was re-roofed in Victorian times, and it is possible to have Mass inside it.

Please make a note in your diary as this is a wonderful setting for the EF of the Mass and we are (usually) blessed with lovely sunshine.


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Monday, September 01, 2014

LMS Tyburn Walk

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Gathering outside St Sepulchre's
Yesterday took place the Latin Mass Society's revived 'Tyburn Walk', the traditional devotional walk from the place of imprisonment to the place of execution for 105 Catholic martyrs during penal times.

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Crossing Holborn Viaduct
It starts beween St Sepulchre's Church (on one side of the street), and the site of Newgate Prison (on the other side), where the Old Bailey stands. We gathered there around Fr Nicholas Schofield, who is not only the LMS Chaplain for the South East, but a published historian, and very well informed about the English martyrs.

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St Giles' Church
We walked up Holborn to St Giles Church, the historic church where the condemned were traditionally given a cup of ale. We said a decade of the Rosary there.

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St Patrick's, Soho Square
We then went to the Catholic church of St Patrick's Soho Square, where Fr Schofield celebrated Low Mass for us, thanks to the hospitality of the parish priest Fr Alexander Sherbrooke.


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We also venerated a relic of St Oliver Plunket, who was the last, as well as the most senior, Catholic martyr to die at Tyburn: the Achbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, caught up in the fictitious 'Titus Oates' plot.

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Venerating St Oliver Pluncket
After St Patrick's, we were on Oxford Street, where the crowds were denser. However walking here was no more difficult for us than for any of the other pedestrians. There were about 45 of us, but we didn't march in close formation, we just walked along like everyone else. The problem of disrupting the shoppers or traffic really didn't arise.

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Oxford Street
At Marble Arch we said a final decade of the Rosary at the plaque in the ground marking the site of the Tyburn Tree, the infamous gallows, before going to the Tyburn Convent for Benediction.

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The plaque marking the spot of the Tyburn Tree
The Tyburn Walk was for many years organised by the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, and in the early and mid 20th century was a major event, with more than a thousand Catholics taking part. The traffic was stopped and they had benediction at the end from the balcony of the convent. It was finally discontinued in 2007. Appropriately, our chaplain yesterday, Fr Nicholas Schofield, is a member of the Guild's Executive Committee.

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Benediction in the Tyburn Convent, the Shrine Chapel
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