Friday, July 29, 2016

The results of persecution

Reposted from October 2009. The coming persecution, whether by militant secularists or Islamists, will not be a lovely time of growth and development. It will be horrible.


Last night I went to the annual Craigmyle Memorial Lecture, hosted by Jim Dobbin MP on behalf of the Catholic Union and given in Portcullis House. This year the speaker was HE Francis Campbell, the first Catholic to be Britain's Ambassador to the Holy See, and still in office. He gave a thoughtful talk on Pope Benedict's conception of Europe and secularism.

An interesting discussion took place during the questions about the effect of persecution on the Church. One questioner was saddened and disillusioned that the church in the Czech Republic, having been active in opposing the Communists, had, since Communism fell, become rather an insignificant force in what is said to be the most secular country in Europe. Another questioner suggested that the reason for the decline in the Czech church was that it was no longer being persecuted.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Appeal to Cardinals: text revealed

In light of the appearance of the signatories and the text of the Appeal to the Cardinals online, the organisers of the appeal are issuing a press release, below, for immediate release.

The appeal and its covering letter can conveniently be seen here.

I will be continuing to act as spokesman for the group, and will be happy to answer questions.

Dr Joseph Shaw

Press release – Publication of theological critique and accompanying letter sent to the cardinals and patriarchs

The National Catholic Reporter of Kansas City, Missouri, recently published, without authorisation, the names of the signatories of a letter to the College of Cardinals and Eastern Patriarchs; equally without authorisation, The Australian, an Australia-based newspaper, has recently published the full text of the letter and the accompanying document. The latter is a theological critique of the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, and requested that the cardinals and patriarchs petition Pope Francis to definitively and finally condemn certain propositions. In order to protect the signatories and the critique from misrepresentation, the organisers of these documents wish to offer some further comment and explanation of them.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Reports of my death are premature

As Mark Twain said.

Seriously, how do they work these things out?

In case you were wondering, I wasn't born in Lancashire either - and certainly not in 1920. And nor is my wife called ... Well, you get the idea.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Advance notice: Vespers of All Souls in Warwick Street

Requiem for Michael Davies organised by the LMS last year, in Our Lady of the Assumption,
Warwick Street. The celebrant was Fr Tim Finigan.

It is worth noting as a rather unusual liturgical event. Once upon a time, Vespers on Sundays and great feasts was quite normal. In this case, it is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed - All Souls - and the Vespers is Vespers of the Dead. We're going to celebrate it with polyphony. Come along to complete your liturgical commemoration of the souls of those who have gone before us.

Fr Mark Elliot Smith will officiate.

5:30pm, Wednesday 2nd November (All Souls Day)

Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, W1B 5LZ

Latin Vespers of the Dead, with polyphony (Viadana and Palestrina)

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Amoris laetitia: Is it possible to keep the Natural Law?

In response to the article in L'Ossovorore Romano by Rocco Buttiglione, I am reposting this post firm published in April this year.


One very puzzling thing that Amoris laetitia says is this, from Section 301.

... it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”,  or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin. As the Synod Fathers put it, “factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision”. 

There is then a reference to Aquinas' Summa Theologica (and the De Malo), and to the Catechism on mitigating circumstances.

A natural reading of this, which would also seem needed by the argument which follows about what we can expect of people in regard to straightening out their lives, would be simply this: sometimes it is actually impossible to follow the objective dictates of Natural Law, and for that reason people can't be blamed for not following them: and that in this we are talking about people in a state of grace. There is also the suggestion that people may be in a dilemma (or 'perplexity') in which there is no non-sinful option.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A new editor for Mass of Ages

The forthcoming edition of Mass of Ages, the magazine of the Latin Mass Society, will be the last edited by Dylan Parry. It has been great working with him, for sadly too short a time, but we cannot regret his reason for moving on: a desire to test a vocation to the religious life. He will be leaving his editorial position at Oremus, Westminster Cathedral's magazine, at the same time.

Recruiting is always a chancy business, but I feel we have been exeedingly fortunate to have attracted the attention of Tom Quinn, who has been editing magazines for more than 30 years, and has lots of ideas for Mass of Ages. 

The magazine has enormous potential, and it requires both skill and a lot of hard work to make the most of such opportunities. With the help of Tom Quinn, we'll take it to the next level.

Our Press Release.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Anthea Craigmyle: In paradisum deducant te Angeli.


The rather odd-looking chapel is a municipal mortuary chapel, in Chiswick New Cemetry. Although designed with a rather different kind of liturgy in mind, we were able to have the Traditional Mass there without serious difficulty. Although we only managed to fit two candlesticks on the tiny altar.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reform of the Reform: a brief reply to Fr Hugh

Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman has done me the honour of replying to my post on the fall-out from the Sacra Liturgia conference. At the risk of appearing engaged in too incestuous a discussion - Fr Hugh is an old friend and fellow student and I've had a similar discussion with him on this blog before - I wanted to pick up on a couple of his points.

First, I should apologise for the offence I've caused; I did get a little carried away. I don't mean to impugn the good intentions of people like Fr Hugh who promote the Reform of the Reform, and indeed I did try to explain the reasoning behind their position in in a sympathetic way.

Second, I should say to Fr Hugh that I certainly didn't have his blog in my sights when I talked about the damage caused by the hype over Cardinal Sarah's words. His blog, like mine, is not, I fancy, primarily responsible for the way things are perceived in Rome, Washington DC, or Archbishop's House in Westminster. I had more in mind banner headlines in the Catholic Herald.

But to business. Fr Hugh makes a surprising assertion about my position. He writes:

Yet, if the full restoration of pre-conciliar worship is the goal, how to achieve it? By fiat, an imposition on the Church as violent as that in 1969 which made mandatory a Mass that few if any laity were really prepared for?

The answer to that rhetorical question is 'Obviously not', but Fr Hugh appears to imagine that I think the answer is 'Yes', and goes on to criticise me quite harshly for a proposal I have never made, never intend to make, and do not agree with. Indeed, I thought the tenor of my post was clear enough: that I envisage progress (at any rate for the foreseeable future) as nothing more than the organic growth of the celebration of the Traditional Mass, a continuation of the progress it has made particularly since 2007.

That is just a misunderstanding. More substantively, Fr Hugh reacts to my criticism of the tactical blunder of the Sacra Liturgia conference people in a somewhat confusing way. What I had said was that the volume of hype forced Cardinal Nichols, Fr Lombardi, and others to react publicly: that is, it made them feel they had to react. This seems undeniable, since they didn't react in this way on the previous occasions Cardinal Sarah has made his point about the desireability of celebration ad orientem, as he did in an interview back in May.

Fr Hugh wants to have this both ways. First, yes there was nothing in the Cardinal's remarks which justified the reaction, because there was nothing very new or startling about them; but at the same time they were worthy of the hype because they were new and startling after all.

Well, whatever you say Fr. The point remains that the reaction came because the remarks were being presented (hyped) as significant, and in the present situation in the Church the reaction was, if not completely predictable, at least very likely. The saddest thing in the whole sorry story is Fr Hugh's assertion, which I am sure is true:

'the organisers did not have any expectation of response'

Fr Hugh is here pleading guilty, on behalf of the organisers, of serious naivity. 

My friends, this is not a good time to be naive

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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Sacra Liturgia Conference has set the cause of the Reform of the Reform back by 20 years. That may not be a bad thing.

The reactions to Cardinal Sarah's words encouraging celebration of Mass 'ad orientem', with the priest facing east as the congregation does, continue to reverberate. In addition to a 'clarification' by the Vatican spokesman, Fr Lombardi, and a letter from Cardinal Nichols to the priests of Westminster Diocese, we have now had a letter from the Chairman of the relevant committee of the US Bishops' conference. All these statements point out that Cardinal Sarah's comments do not change liturgical law, and in slightly different ways claim that the current law favours celebration 'versus populum,' with the priest facing the people. The US letter asserts that a decision to change from vs. pop. to ad orientem celebration by a priest should only be done with the knowledge and approval of the bishop.

None of these statements, any more that Cardinal Sarah's, have in themselves the force of law. Nevertheless, they make public, clear, and official, a view which was up to now not so public, not so clear, and not so official: that celebration vs. pop. is officially favoured to the point that celebrating ad orientem needs, at least, special justification.

The kind of initiatives in which the 'Reform of the Reform' (RotR) consists, at the local level, depend on a degree of ambiguity about what is allowed or favoured by the rules. Such ambiguity abounds in official documents. Are altar girls permitted or actually favoured? Female lectors? Communion under both kinds? The use of the Roman Canon? Silent recitation of the Offertory? The sign of peace? Concelebration? The debate about the rules (unlike the debate on the underlying theology) is not only endless, but both exceedingly boring and ultimately pointless. It suffices that conservative and liberal priests alike can claim a degree of leeway and, when the pastoral and political conditions permit, quietly move things in their favoured direction. The golden rule in such matters is that you don't press for clarification unless you are sure things will be clarified in your favour.

Young Catholic Adults: annual retreat at Douai

During the weekend of the 28-30 October 2016, Young Catholic Adults will be running a national weekend at Douai Abbey, it will be led by Fr. Thomas Crean O.P. The weekend will be full-board. YCA will be running the weekend with the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge of Cambridge who will be holding Gregorian Chant workshops.

There will also be a Marian Procession, Rosaries, Sung Masses, Confession and socials. All Masses will be celebrated in the Extraordinary form.

Please note to guarantee your place this year Douai Abbey have requested that everyone books in 3 weeks before the start of the weekend i.e.7th Oct 2016.  

For online booking please see:-

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Last call: SCT Summer School 2016

The dates are Sunday 24th July to Sunday 30th July.

This is something I've been doing since 2005, and it is one of the most exciting, and (for me!) exhausting event I'm involved in each year. We have a little school, for just a week, with maybe 30-40 children: lots of interesting discussions, lots of prayer, lots of fun.

The Summer School is for children aged 11-18; there is NO FEE, parents and guardians make a donation at their discretion. It is run by St Catherine's Trust with the support of the Latin Mass Society.

Click here for our downloadable application form in PDF format. 
Click here to apply online

It takes place at the Franciscan Retreat Centre at Pantasaph, 10 minutes from Flint station, half an hour from Chester. We can offer lifts there from London. It has a Pugin chapel, and is home to the National Shrine to St Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio).

As well as liturgy and catechesis, the Summer School introduces children to wide range of subjects, including history, philosophy, history of art, Latin, music and drama, an ideal Catholic supplement to homeschooling or conventional schools, Catholic or not.

We have all sorts of children, from all over England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and a few from further afield. It is a great experience for them to meet children from like-minded families, and many come year after year. Don't let your children miss out!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

SPUC Conference

Details and booking here.

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Video intereview with Gloria TV

Last October, when I was in Rome for the FIUV General Assembly and the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage, I was interviewed by Eva Doppelbauer of Gloria TV. Here is the result.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First High Mass for Fr Mawdsley: photos

Fr James Mawdsely celebrated a High Mass in St Mary's, Warrington, the FSSP church. As is usual at such Masses, because he is a new priest he has an 'assistant priest' (as a bishop does at Mass), so there are four sacred ministers, not just three.


The next Masses taking place will be: 

Wednesday 13th July, 7pm.
Solemn High Mass at St Joseph’s, Gateshead, NE8 1LX.

Thursday 14th July, 12noon.
Low Mass at SS Joseph, Patrick & Cuthbert’s, Coxhoe, Co Durham, DH6 4DA.

Friday 15th July, 6pm.
Low Mass at St Andrew’s, Ravelston, Edinburgh, EH4 3DS.

Saturday 16th July, 12noon.
Solemn High Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 162 Broomfield Road, Glasgow G21 3UE.

Sunday 17th July, 11am.
Solemn High Mass at St William of York, Reading, RG1 5JP.


Cardinal Sarah on Liturgical Orientation

It it always interesting to see arguments about liturgical orientation, the priest 'facing east' in Mass, since this is an important characteristic of the Church's liturgical tradition. Cardinal Sarah mentions it in a list of things which might be done to make celebrations of the Ordinary Form more worthy, along with a greater use of Latin, kneeling, and the discouragement of photography. It is not exactly a full-dress treatment of the issue, and nor is it new. In his talk he refers back to an article he wrote for Ossovatore Romano and the work of Pope Benedict. He could equally have referred to the writings of Cardinal Schonborn, who is quoted in the FIUV Position Paper on Liturgical Orientation. In this particular talk, Cardinal Sarah throws it out as a nice idea:

This practice is permitted by current liturgical legislation. It is perfectly legitimate in the modern rite. Indeed, I think it is a very important step in ensuring that in our celebrations the Lord is truly at the centre. [Full text]

What is rather amazing, however, is the reaction to these remarks. Cardinal Nichols has written to his priests, the Vatican spokesman Fr Lombardi has made a statement, even Fr Spadaro SJ and Austen Ivereigh have felt the need to get in on the act: all with a view to contradicting the basic idea, that celebration facing east would be a good idea. Of course, they, like Cardinal Sarah, are all entitled to their opinions, and Cardinal Nichols is not just entitled, but obliged, to exercise prudential judgement in guiding his priests. The debate has been marred somewhat by a technical dispute over the correct translation of a passage in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal - this is the kind of tedious issue which those who are really interested can look up in a footnote in the Position Paper (see footnote 1). But let me say something about the bigger picture.

This debate is inevitable and intractable because both sides are right.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Photos of LMS AGM and Annual Mass in Westminster Cathedral


The AGM was addressed by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, Nuncio to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Catholic academics and pastors appeal to the College of Cardinals over Amoris laetitia

Update: further explanation as to why the text of the appeal itself is not being made public at this point.

The appeal and cover letter are directed to the cardinals for action in the first place, and we have taken the view that the Sacred College should be allowed to consider the substance of the document and the action to be taken in response to it before its contents are made public. The censures are a detailed and technical theological document whose contents are not readily accessible to a non-specialist audience, and are easily misrepresented or misunderstood. Making the document public would impede the cardinals in their task by the media coverage and frequently uninformed debate and polemics it would raise. At the same time it is important that Catholics who are troubled by some of the statements in Amoris Laetitia be aware that steps are being taken to address the problems it raises; hence the announcement of the document's existence.

Original post

I have been asked to act as spokesman for the group - of whom I am a rather undistinguished member - who have signed a letter to the Cardinals and also the Patriarchs, asking them to approach the Holy Father to clarify the teaching of the Church in light of Amoris laetitia. It is hardly controversial that the document is being read in widely different ways, some of them quite at odds with the perenial teaching of the Church, and all we are asking is that Pope Francis make clear that putative heretical implications of the document are just that: heretical.

Press Release

A group of Catholic academics and pastors has submitted an appeal to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals in Rome, requesting that the Cardinals and Eastern Catholic Patriarchs petition His Holiness, Pope Francis, to repudiate a list of erroneous propositions that can be drawn from a natural reading of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia. During the coming weeks this submission will be sent in various languages to every one of the Cardinals and Patriarchs, of whom there are 218 living at present.

Describing the exhortation as containing “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals,” the signatories submitted, along with their appeal, a documented list of applicable theological censures specifying “the nature and degree of the errors that could be attributed to Amoris laetitia.”

High Mass for the Persecuted Church, in London, Friday 29th

St Mary Moorfields, Friday 29th July, 7:30pm, High Mass celebrated by Fr Michael Lang Cong Orat. St Mary Moorfields is on Eldon Street at EC2M 7LS: click for a map.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book launch 20th July in London: Fr Lanzetta: Vatican II, a Pastoral Council

The Latin Mass Society is sponsoring a book launch in London for Fr Serafino Lanzetta's book: 20th July, from 6:30pm, in the basement of St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street, London, concluding with Vespers at 8pm with the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge.

It is open to all and free, but since we are providing refreshments please let us know you are coming: email with 'Book launch' in the subject line.

Fr Lanzetta's book is being published in English for the first time, by Gracewing. Its translation into English was sponsored by the Latin Mass Society.

Below is a written interview with Fr Lanzetta about his book.

Vatican II, a pastoral Council
The Key-Problem of its Hermeneutics

Interview with Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta about his latest work, “Vatican II: A Pastoral Council. Hermeneutics of Council Teaching”, with a foreword by Rt. Rev. Philip Egan, Gracewing 2016, 528 pp. (or. It. Il Vaticano II, un concilio pastorale. Ermeneutica delle dottrine conciliari, Siena 2014). This Interview appeared originally in French, for the Journal “Catholica” 125 (2014). The questions have been formulated by the same Journal.

1. Question: The Second Vatican Council poses first and foremost an epistemological problem even before a theological one, or rather to be precise, it poses a problem that, in as much as it is theological, is also necessarily epistemological. Are we talking about the interpretation or the understanding of its documents? The very interpretation is, in fact, a problem, both in the modern perspective of the constructivist interpretation and in the post-modern view of the deconstructivist interpretation. The interpretation does not explain the interpretation: in itself, it refers to a basic principle. More than being a solution, every interpretation is itself a problem within a problem. In the light of your studies, what do you think of this?
Answer: Hermeneutics, namely the interpretation of a text, and in our case of a Magisterial text, is never the solution to a problem but only the instrument with which to reach a solution, making reference to a basic principal that precedes the interpretation and the very development of the text. This principle is the faith of the Church, namely the organic development of her doctrine.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Fr James Mawdsley FSSP: first Mass


I was last at Wigratzbad seven years ago, to attend the ordination of Fr William Barker FSSP, now living and working in Rome, in the Fraternity's church of Sta Trinita and at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Fr Barker celebrated his first Mass in the charming and tiny church of the village of Mywiler, and it was here, too, that Fr James Mawdsley celebrated his own first Mass. Here are my photos.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Masses for Anthea Craigmyle

For the record, anyone wishing to attend Mass for Anthea Craigmyle can do so as follows.

Monday 18th July, 11am: Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street (address: 114 Mount St, London W1K 3AH: click for a map). Ordinary Form Requiem Mass, followed by a reception.

Tuesday 19th July, 11am: Chiswick New Cemetery (address: Staveley Road W4 2SJ: click for a map). Traditional Sung Mass and burial. Mass will be in the cemetery's mortuary chapel; parking is available next to it.

(If you're coming from the Hogarth Roundabout, head West down Burlington Lane, following signs for the M3 and Kew. Burlington Lane turns into Great Chertsey Road, and a little later you turn right onto Staveley Road at a junction with traffic lights. The cemetery is immediately on your left.)

Wednesday 18th August, 11am: the Little Oratory, at the London Oratory (address: Brompton Rd, London SW7 2RP: click for a map). The 'month's mind', Traditional High Mass accompanied by Oratory singers, who will sing Anerio's Requiem. The 'Little Oratory' is not in the main church, but the other side of the small car park.

These are public services, everyone is welcome to attend.

I would like to record my thanks for the many Masses offered already or to be offered soon by the family's many priest friends. We are truly blessed in your generosity.

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FSSP Ordinations in Bavaria


There are other and better photos around of this but I might as well put up those I have. Archbishop Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, was the ordaining bishop. It took place in St Margaretas Church, Heimenkirch, not far from the FSSP Seminary at Wigratzbad.


The Church in England was well represented at the ordinations. Here Fr Bede Rowe lays his hands on James Mawdsley, just ordained.  Archbishop Pozzo was assisted by two English priests of the Fraternity, Fr William Barker from Rome and Fr Ian Verrier from Reading - the latter is visible in the photo above, above Fr Bede.




Fr John Berg, the Superior General of the Fraternity, incenses the Archbishop.



Fr James Mawdsley FSSP between Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP and Mgr John Walsh from Liverpool Diocese.


Fr James gives a 'first blessing' to his twin brother, a Lt-Col, who attended in a splendid dress uniform.

Those ordained were: Simon Grauter (from Germany), James Mawdsley (from England and Australia), Gregor Pal (from Germany), Michael Parth (from Austria), and Jakub Zentner (from the Czeck Republic).

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