Friday, October 20, 2017

A friendly warning to Opus Dei

I don't want to single out Opus Dei; what I have to say is applicable to a number of conservative Catholic organisations. But Opus Dei does rather single out itself.

We had the organisations 'number 2', the Vicar General, Mgr Mariano Fazio, criticising the Filial Correction for 'correcting a father in public':

Any faithful, bishop, cardinal, lay person has the right to tell the pope what he sees fit for the good of the Church. But it seems to me that he has no right to do so publicly and to scandalize the whole Church with these manifestations of disunity.

I've responded to that in the linked LifeSite article.

Mgr Fazio is simply following, however, the line of the head of Opus Dei himself, Mgr Fernando Ocariz, who wrote an article for L'Osservatore Romano on December 2, 2011, indicating the kind of obedience which the documents of the Second Vatican Council have: remarks which presumably cover any reasonably high-level official documents of the Church.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

‘Pro-Pope Francis’ petition launched

A German-based petition praising Pope Francis has been launched, signed by a handful of bishops and about 100 theologians and others.

The text of the petition itself is vague: it simply expresses support for Pope Francis' ‘initiatives’ and ‘leadership’. It is interesting, therefore, that despite appearing first on the website of the German Bishops’ Conference — which suggests some kind of official endorsement — so few German bishops have added their names. Indeed, the episcopal signatories one does find are either retired or are auxiliary bishops. It adds to the sense that even quite liberal bishops, who have dioceses to consider, are a bit concerned about the crisis, and are wary of simply throwing themselves into battle on the liberalising side. Every now and then a bishop makes a statement of enthusiasm for a liberal interpretation of Amoris laetitia — the other day it was Cardinal Barbarin’s turn — but these remain very much the exception, not the rule.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oxford Pilgrimage this Saturday


This Saturday, 21st October, the annual Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Oxford will take place.

11am High Mass in the Dominican Rite, Blackfriars, in St Giles, Oxford

2pm Procession to the Castle Gallows, site of the martyrdom of Bl George Napier in 1610

3pm Benediction in Blackfriars

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ultramontanism's Death Sentence

Pope Pius XII
In 1952 Pope Pius XII said the following, in a public address recorded among his official acts:

Even when it is a question of the execution of a condemned man, the State does not dispose of the individual's right to life. In this case it is reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned person of the enjoyment of life in expiation of his crime when, by his crime, he has already disposed himself of his right to live.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fr Thomas Crean on whether Amoris is 'Thomistic'

LifeSiteNews carries an interview with Fr Thomas Crean OP on the use of St Thomas Aquinas by Amoris laetitia, in light of Christoph, Cardinal Schönborn's claim that the document is 'Thomistic'.

Read the whole thing there; I paste in an extract below.

(The English version of) paragraph 145  (of Amoris Laetitia) states: “Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil. The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion.” It footnotes the Summa, 1a 2ae 24, 1.
But what St. Thomas says here is that no emotion, abstractly considered, is either good or bad. Even hatred is not bad as such: it is good to hate sin. However, every actually existing emotion will always be either good or bad. This is true, independently of any actions to which they may give rise.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Tablet on the Filial Correction

I said some time ago that the instinct of conventional Catholic ‘progressives’ would be to ignore the Filial Correction. It is the strange new brand of Ultramontanist liberal who is writing article after article and tweet after tweet attacking it. Compare the response of John Allen (report it as briefly as possible alongside two unrelated issues) or PrayTell (pretend it never happened) with that of the likes of Walford, Fastiggi and Goldstein, Fagioli, and Buttiglione (see this blog passim ad nauseam).

The old-style liberals have spent a life-time criticising Ultramontanism, and many — there’ll always be exceptions — have sufficient integrity (or at least shame) not to use the simple fact that it is the Pope this time who is supporting their views as a reason to dismiss objections. Indeed, the present crisis has made it clear that most at least of their long-standing opponents have, contrary to the liberal stereotype, never been robotic Ultramontanists mechanically repeating the Party Line, but are actually motivated by serious theological principles, and are therefore worthy of some degree of respect.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Claudio Pierantoni answers Buttiglione

Professor Claudio Pierantoni, a signatory of the Filial Correction, addresses in an interview with Diane Montagna on LifeSiteNews the key claims of Rocco Buttiglione when the latter criticised this initiative. Piernatoni know Buttiglione well and the two have corresponded on the subject, so this is of particular interest.

See the whole interveiw here; below I copy a key passage.

As Professor Seifert explained in a now famous article, which cost him the chair in Granada (and as I then sought to clarify in a subsequent article in defense of Seifert: “Josef Seifert, Pure Logic and the Beginning of the official persecution of Orthodoxy within the Church”), Amoris laetitia affirms, regarding a situation that “does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel” (viz. the prohibition of adultery), that one may “come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits” (AL 303). This is an extremely problematic claim. In the first place, AL distorts reality when it calls what is actually a commandment to be strictly observed, a mere “ideal” (Latin “exemplar”). Note that in the same sentence it calls it “demand” (“mandatum”). But there is something worse: we realize that here it is said that “a given situation [that] does not correspond objectively to the commandment of the Gospel” would be “what God himself is asking.” (emphasis added). This implies, just as situational ethics holds, that there are not absolute commandments. The text in question does not speak of a decrease in guilt, or of ignorance, but instead says that the subject discovers, based on “the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor” that the action is good: it is nothing less than “what God is asking.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

LMS to Pilgrimage to Wrexham on Saturday

In honour of St Richard Gwynn, one of the Latin Mass Society's patron saints, the LMS has an annual pilgrimage to his shrine in Wrexham Cathedral.

Sung Mass at 11am on Saturday 14th October

Our Lady of Sorrows Cathedral, Regent Street, Wrexham LL11 1RB

Support he work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Monday, October 09, 2017

ICKSP: good news from England

Mass at St Walburge's, Preston
The Institute of Christ the King have made a succession of very exciting announcements about their apstolate in the north west of England, historically the most Catholic part of the country.

In addition to the landmark church, the 'Dome of Home', the Church of SS Peter & Paul and St Philomena, in the Wirral, in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which they have run since 2012 thanks to Bishop Mark Davis, they were given the magnificent Church of St Walburge's, Preston, in the Diocese of Lancaster, which boasts the tallest spire of any parish church in England, in 2014, by Bishop Michael Campbell.

In July, Bishop Campbell gave them another historic church, close to St Walburge's: the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Correctio and dissent against Humanae Vitae

As I noted in my last post, the Correctio Filialis has continued to stimulate a level of debate which, among other things, vindicates the supposition of the signatories that the debate would benefit from a document of this kind: something fairly long, fairly technical, hard-hitting, but respectful. We have confronted both sides of the debate on Amoris laetitia with views and documentation which invite and even oblige them to increase their undersatanding of the issues.

It is hard to know how this debate looks to hitherto uncommitted Catholics. What must be evident to them is that, following the 800,000-strong 'Filial Appeal' not to change the teaching, the 'dubia' of the four Cardinals, the the open letter of Profs Finnis and Grisez, the appeal to the Cardinals of the '45 Theologians', and so on, opposition to the liberalising agenda on Holy Communion and divorced and remarried Catholics is not going away but, if anything, rising to a cresecendo.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Correctio on social media: some links

Please note that academics and pastors who wish to are invited to apply to join the official list of signatories through a button on the website here (scroll down).

Everyone can sign the petition of support here.

This is an update on the post I did on the media response to the Filial Correction, in which I noted how the secular, mainstream press picked up the story from the embargo deadline - actually, a bit before the deadline...

So here's my handy guide to the Catholic media debate on the Correction.

Stephen 'liars and hypocrites' Walford criticised the Correction in the National Catholic Reporter, on the basis of his habitual confusion between the categories of the disciplinary and dogmatic; I responded on LifeSiteNews, and after some Twitter debate, some more here.

Mgr Mariano Fazio, Opus Dei's Vicar General (effectively the 2nd in command) criticised it in an interview with a French newspaper on the grounds that it was disloyal to the Pope; I responded on LifeSiteNews.

The US-based theologian Massimo Faggioli criticised the Correction as part of a wider Traditionist campaign against Vatican II in International La Croix, following this up with a stream of tweets like this one:

This led to a storm of criticism on Twitter, and it appears Faggioli deleted that particular tweet. Basing himself on the ones which were left, the non-signatory blogging monk, Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman, published an excellent response on the hermeneutic of rupture.

Dr Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein used an issue of translation of Amoris to undermine part of the argument of the Correction in Vatican Insider; Chris Ferrara responded very fully in The Remnant, and Dr Christian Brugger replid them in LifeSiteNews, leading to a second round of discussion here.

The same two again took took to Vatican Insider to criticise it by reference to the rules for dissident theologians contained in the Instruction Donum veritatis; I responded here and on Rorate Caeli. They replied in my combox and I have replied to that here.

The general question of whether theologians and others are allowed to express their concerns publicly is addressed in magisterial detail by the signatory, theologian Michael Sirilla, on One Peter Five, and in more general terms by the canonist Edward Peters.

Rocco Butiglione criticised the Correctio, also in Vatican Insider on the grounds that Amoris can be interepreted in line with the preceding teaching of the Church. The canonist Edward Peters, while 'neutral' on the Filial Correction itself, pointed out multiple errors in Buttiglione's understanding of relevant Canon law here. Another response, by the distinguished theologian and signatory Claudio Pierantoni, is in the works.

In the meantime support for the initiative has come from the Oxford academic Fr Andrew Pinsent, who explained why he signed the Correction to the Catholic Herald, along with the retired American Bishop Gracida.

Fr Ray Blake (1, 2, 3) and Fr John Hunwicke (1, 2, 3) each produced a series of posts supporting the Correction, notably on the climate of fear in the Church which is preventing many priests and others from adding their names (Fr Hunwicke is a signatory, Fr Blake is not).

Another message of support comes from John Smeaton, the Director of SPUC, the British pro-life group, on the Voice of the Family. Smeaton connects the issues we raise with wider ones about the moral teaching of the Church, as discussed by Prof Joseph Seifert. Seifert's views have cost him his job, and this and the general issues are discussed by his friend Prof Robert Spaeman.

It is interesting to note that neiether Seifert nor Spaemann are signatories, despite their published views being close, if not identical, to those of the Correction. The same is true of Profs John Finnis and Germaine Grisez, whose detailed and powerful open letter to Pope Francis caused a stir year ago. Critics of the Correction who make much of the relative lack of 'big names' among the signatories have drawn the wrong conclusion. Really big names don't need the Correction: they can make an international splash with their concerns about Amoris on their own, and many have. Among the published opponents of the Correction, only Rocco Buttiglione comes close in terms of reputation to any one of these four men.

In addition the contributions I have picked out, there has been a torrent of other supportive articles and posts on One Peter Five, Rorate Caeli, LifeSiteNews, and by Fr Hunwicke, narturally on this blog, and of course elsewhere.

The discussion has not been taking place solely in English, however. The Bologna professor and priest Don Alberto Strumia, a signatory to the Correction, gave an interview in its defence on September 30th in the Italian daily, Il Giornale, for example.

The German website carries an article by the Italian historian and signatory, Robert de Mattei, in German.

In Latin America, it made an episode of the conservative Catholic 'Coffee with Galat' discussion programme, as it has in North America with EWTN.

I have spoken to or given email interiews with journalists in Hungary and Poland.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fastiggi & Goldstein reply: I respond

Robert Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein have done me the honour of a reply, at some length, to my post, in my comments box. I want to take this as seriously as possible, so I paste it in below, in full, in bold, with my replies to each point.

Dear Dr. Shaw,

Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein and I wish to thank you for your tone of civility. We hope to reply with equal civility regarding your post: “A Challenge for Fastiggi and Goldstein.”

Thank you.

Our points of response are the following:

1. You are correct that “impressions” are subjective. Our point, however, is that your subjective impressions regarding papal words and actions are not shared by all. In justice there is always a need to determine what people mean before making judgments of potential heresy. When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examines cases of possible heresy, it follows strict norms of procedure in order to insure justice for the one accused (See CDF, Regulations for Doctrinal Examination, Ratio Agendi May 30, 1997; AAS 89 [1997] 830–835). If so much care is given to the examination of individual theologians before making judgments of heresy, should not the same be extended to the Roman Pontiff? Canon law tells us: “The First See is judged by no one” (CIC [1983] canon 1404).

Thursday, October 05, 2017

A challenge for Fastiggi and Goldstein

You know you've had an influence when the Vatican Insider addresses you by name.

Robert Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein write:

It seems that the case for the Amoris laetitia critics’ self-proclaimed “Filial Correction” (1) of Pope Francis is weakening. Dr. Joseph Shaw, one of the signers of the Correctio filialis, recently wrote: “It is not that we’re saying that the text of Amoris cannot be bent into some kind of orthodoxy. What we are saying is that it has become clear that orthodoxy is not what Pope Francis wants us to find there.” (2)

Shaw’s claim that Pope Francis doesn’t want orthodoxy, however, is based on subjective impressions derived from mostly non-authoritative statements of the Pope. This does not seem to be a very strong foundation for accusing the Roman Pontiff of promoting false teachings and heresies.

What interests me about this is less the attempt to suggest that the Correction's signatories are shifting their position--we haven't in the least, although we are getting used to our critics using calling us names and being economical with the truth--but the second paragraph I quote. For the information of Fastiggi and Goldstein, 'impressions' are always subjective, but they are our window onto the world. What we can determine about what what is going on, based--obviously--on what we can see and hear ('impressions'), is indeed that 'Pope Francis doesn’t want orthodoxy'.

'Do not correct your father in public': a response to Mgr Fazio of Opus Dei on the Correctio Filialis

The prophet Daniel, as a child, having saved the innocent Susanna
from the accusations of the wicked Elders, condemns them to death. Dan 13

Today Diane Montagna publishes a fairly long interview with me on LifeSiteNews; here are some highlights. Read the whole thing there.

The “filial correction” has drawn considerable attention in both Catholic and secular media. Why did the authors and organizers of the correction go public with it? And why is it not a “display of disunity,” as the Argentinian Vicar General of Opus Dei suggests?
Those Catholics concerned about the direction of the debate about remarriage and Communion, and related issues, have made repeated attempts to express these concerns in ways which would not create a public impression of opposition to the person of the Pope. The ‘Filial Appeal’, signed by 800,000 people, was part of a debate called for by Pope Francis before he had composed Amoris. The letter of the ‘13 Cardinals’ and the ‘45 academics and pastors’ appeal to Cardinals’ were, alike, not intended to be public documents. Obviously, in this way these initiatives observed both the letter and the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17 on speaking first to one’s brother in private.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Successful Mass in Romney Marsh Church

From the LMS

History was made in Kent when the Catholic Mass returned to a medieval church on Romney Marsh for only the third time since the Reformation.

On 23rd September the beautiful sound of Gregorian Chant could be heard across the Kent marshes as St Augustine’s in Snave hosted a Traditional Latin Mass.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

News on the Extraordinary Form in Bedford

Cross-posted from the LMS Bedford blog, about developments concerning the regular Sunday 8:30am Traditional Mass in the Church of Christ the King, Harrowden Road, Bedford MK42 0SP

Latin Masses at Bedford will, from next week (8th October), be celebrated by priests from the international Catholic order the Fraternity of St. Peter from their base in Reading. They also anticipate celebrating Mass on most Holydays of Obligation at 7:30pm.

Monday, October 02, 2017

A few fallacies of the opponents of the Correctio


The other day I had a long exchange on Twitter with Stephen Walford, which was a frustrating experience, so I thought I'd set out in more detail a few of the things he and others don't get about the Correctio Filialis.

As I've noted before, Walford and others like say that Pope Francis has not changed doctrine, only practice. But with the same breath Walford appeals to Pope Francis' magisterial authority, and Catholics' obligations to believe, assent to, what he teaches, as applying to the new practice.

This suggests an incapacity to distinguish correctly between dogmatic and disciplinary acts. When I pointed out that 'assent' is something which only has relevance in relation to propositions, as opposed to commands (or questions, etc.), he still failed to see what difference it made.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Timothy Fawcett, RIP

Tim Fawcett, sometime Latin Mass Society Local Representative and Committee member, died on 28th September. Please spare a prayer for him, and his family.

Tim Fawcett on the Chartres Pilgrimage in 2014
This isn't a terribly good photo of him, but he was an indefatigable supporter of the Chartres Pilgrimage; in particular he did a lot of carrying the banner of the British Chapter, of Our Lady of Walsingham. He was a gentleman, a Catholic, and a true pilgrim.

His funeral will take place on 7th October. Not all the details are confirmed as I write; please email the LMS Office if you would like to attend and don't know how to find out more:

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Me on EWTN

I appear at the beginning of this programme presented by Raymond Arroyo; having said my piece, they let me go and Arroyo discusses the issues raised, with his 'Papal Posse', Fr Gerald Murray (a canonist) and Robert Royal.

It was pre-recorded; I was in a BBC studio in Edinburgh. The reason for some of the awkwardness of the questions and answers between me and Arroyo was the five-second time lag down the line between Edinburgh and Washington DC. I couldn't hear him trying to interrupt me until five seconds after he did it. (When you appear like this you can't see the presenter.) They tried to edit out the resulting pauses but there are limits.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Correctio Filialis: a response to some critics

Correctio Filialis: a response to some critics

The Filial Correction published last Sunday has attracted more support than I, as a signatory, had dared to hope. Additional signatures from pastors and academics have been submitted by the score; a petition in support has been signed by more than 10,000 people and counting; and it has been reported widely in the secular as well as the Catholic press. 

There has been very little in the way of substantive response to the Correction from those who support what it criticises. Here I — in a personal capacity — want to look succinctly at three of the more serious attempts to get to grips with it. This is made easier by the fact that they all make essentially the same, erroneous criticism.

First, Stephen Walford writes, characteristically:

It is difficult to know where to start on this one: the hypocrisy or the risible accusations of heresy against the Holy Father. I’ll go with hypocrisy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The mainstream media on the Correctio Filialis

When I agreed to be spokesman or media contact for the Correctio Filialis I didn't realise quite what was I was letting myself in for. I've now lost count of the number of telephone and email mini-interviews I've done, and I don't have time to keep track on the number of reports online which have resulted from these.

This could have been a nightmare, but it's not at all. The journalists have been polite and professional. (Associated Press was a teeny bit naughty breaking the media embargo, but it was only by an hour or two.) And all things considered, we are getting amazingly favourable coverage in Catholic and non-Catholic sources.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Reactions to the Filial Correction

Please note that academics and pastors who wish to are invited to apply to join the official list of signatories through a button on the website here (scroll down).

Everyone can sign the petition of support here.

I've been watching the reaction to the Filial Correction on the media - though I've certainly not read all of it - and the Catholic reaction in favour and against are both very interesting.

The reaction in favour has been overwhelming. At the time of writing the petition in support of the document has over 4,000 names, despite being very much an afterthought and not being integrated into the publicity.

But more important has been the tone of responses, and the range of people who have responded positively. Over the last forty years and more the 'conservative' end of the theological debate has been riven by disagreement about how bad things really are, and how strongly criticisms should be expressed. It sometimes seemed that every initiative by a conservative group would be denounced, simultaneously but by different people, as being excessively aggressive and as making too many concessions to liberalism: as being too strong and too weak. Differences of opinion on exactly how to protest about problems are inevitable, but these disagreements have at times become so violent as to cripple conservatives' ability to act at all.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

With profound grief... A filial correction.

St Catherine of Siena before Pope Gregory XI
Update: to add your name (the public list will be moderated, i.e. we are looking especially for signatories with academic qualifications etc.) please email

or go to to support the petition.

With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.

We are permitted to issue this correction by natural law, by the law of Christ, and by the law of the Church, which three things Your Holiness has been appointed by divine providence to guard.

By natural law: for as subjects have by nature a duty to obey their superiors in all lawful things, so they have a right to be governed according to law, and therefore to insist, where need be, that their superiors so govern. 

By the law of Christ: for His Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to rebuke Peter in public when the latter did not act according to the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2). St Thomas Aquinas notes that this public rebuke from a subject to a superior was licit on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith (Summa Theologiae 2a 2ae, 33, 4 ad 2), and ‘the gloss of St Augustine’ adds that on this occasion, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects” (ibid.). 

The law of the Church also constrains us, since it states that “Christ’s faithful . . . have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence, and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church” (Code of Canon Law 212:2-3; Code of Canons of Oriental Churches 15:3).

I am a signatory of the document which begins with these words, and also its spokesman. You can read the full text on Rorate Caeli, and on a specially made website, [corrected]. See also 1Peter5's commentary.

The document is signed by 62 people, Catholic academics and pastors, from 20 countries. It expresses, in technical theological language, the concern that, while Amoris laetitia itself may be open to an interpretation in line with the previous teaching of the Church, various informal indications, which appear to be favoured by Pope Francis himself, point to an interpretation not in line with that teaching.

Either the new view is wrong, or the old one is. There has in fact been no attempt to promulgate the new view magisterially - that is from the Holy Father himself, clearly, and in an authoritative format, such as a formal document - since Amoris laetitia itself. It would seem, in any case, that such an attempt could not be successful, in the sense of creating an obligation on Catholics to assent to this new view, because the old view expressed the Ordinary Magisterium, based on Scripture, and this teaching cannot be changed. In short, it seems to me that the new view which has been suggested and insinuated is incompatible with the Faith.

That does not mean that the Pope is a heretic. There is a wide gap between appearing to favour a view which is objectively contrary to the faith, and being a heretic, one part of which is the knowledge and intentions of the person concerned, and another part of which is the judgement of that person by a competent superior. We cannot ascertain the former, and as for the latter, in the law of the Church, the Pope has no superior. Judgment of the Pope's culpability or personal state has absolutely no place in this project.

What we can do, and are doing, is simply pointing out that the view being insinuated is not the Catholic faith, as we are able to understand it. In such a case, where the stakes are so high, it seems to us an obligation to discharge our consciences to the Holy Father himself, privately, as we did a month and more ago. And then, in the absence of a response, to manifest our concerns to the Catholic public at large.

This does not mean that I think I am or the petitioners as a group are infallible. It just means that I feel I must manifest my view. It is for those with teaching authority to address our concerns, to make clear what is unclear, and to show us, if necessary, where we have gone wrong. Any document like this, within the Church, is designed to stimulate the exercise of the magisterium, not to undermine or replace it.

Posted on the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, and of Walsingham.
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

LMS Pilgrimage to Glastonbury


This year I was able to get to the Latin Mass Society's longstanding pilgrimage to Glastonbury, one of the ancient holy places of Europe. It generally takes place on the first Saturday of September.

A Sung Mass was celebrated by Fr Philip Thomas. By coincidence, it has been announced that another priest of Clifton who has done much for the Traditional Mass, Fr Bede Rowe, will be taking over as Parish Priest of Glastonbury.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cardinal Sarah's proposed reform of the Traditional Mass

In addressing the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome last weekend, with many very fine and important things to say, on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Cardinal Sarah acknowledged the response to his earlier remarks on the subject of ‘reconciling’ the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. 

In July I spoke of a possible future reconciliation between the two forms of the Roman rite. Some have interpreted this expression of personal opinion as the announcement of a programme that would end up in the future imposition of a hybrid rite which would bring about a compromise that would leave everybody unhappy and would abolish the usus antiquior by stealth, as it were. This interpretation is absolutely not what I intended. What I do wish to do is to encourage further thought and study on these questions in peace and tranquillity and in a spirit of prayerful discernment. There are improvements which can be made to both forms of the Roman rite in use today, and both forms can contribute to this in due course.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Traditional Mass and Ecclesiology

I'm reposting this again because the general issue of obedience to casual words of the reigning Pope is current again, and also because this incident is recounted in Leo Darroch's book on the history of the FIUV which was launched in Rome on Sunday, and is available to buy here.

Basil Loftus has circled back to his story about Cardinal Benelli in his latest column in the Catholic Times, so I thought I'd repost this response to it from April 2016

Giovanni, Cardinal Benelli

Thanks to the archives of the FIUV, I can shed some light on something mentioned by Mgr Basil Loftus in a column I discussed the other day. He'd picked up the claim that Cardinal Benelli had once said to the President of the Una Voce Federation (FIUV), Dr Eric de Savanthem, that there was a connection between the Traditional Mass and ecclesiology. (Contrary to Loftus, Benelli was actually made a cardinal the year after this meeting, in 1977.)

I noted that Lofus didn't cite a source for this: when one realises what his source is, it is easy to see why he'd rather his readers didn't know. Here is a longer extract: I've emboldened the words quoted verbatim by Loftus to the hapless readers of the Catholic Times on 27th March.

When the President of Una Voce at an interview with Archbishop (now Cardinal) Benelli in Rome in October 1976, pointed out the existing liturgical chaos and asked how, in view of this state of things, the suppression of the old Mass could be justified, he was told that “those who wish to retain the old Mass have a different ecclesiology.” This from one of the closest advisors of the then Pope; it meant that those who were faithful to Catholic tradition were now to be treated as dissidents. The phrase quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus (“What has been believed always, everywhere, and by all”) as a criterion of orthodoxy bad now been rejected in favor of a new Party Line which contradicted the Church’s entire previous tradition. What was forbidden and condemned yesterday becomes lawful today, and mandatory tomorrow. What had always been seen as black, is now white, and vice versa─because the Party says so. This comes close to the Bolshevik criterion of morality: what is right or wrong is simply what helps or hinders the Party.(Source: SSPX USA District)

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Council elected by Una Voce International

I attended the 'closed' or business meeting of Una Voce International - the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, FIUV - which takes place every two years and elects (or re-elects) the organisation's officers and Council.

Like most voluntary organisations, the FIUV is never overwhelmed by people wanting to take on positions of responsibility. We are very grateful to Felipe Alanis Suarez (from Mexico) for agreeing to do another term as President, and to Monika Rheinsmitt for carrying on as Treasurer. I agreed to be Secretary, a post I have not undertaken before. (I was Treasurer 2013-'15.)

Apart from the usual and, often in their most interesting aspects, confidential contact with the Curia, and the development of the organisation (such as the admission of new members), the big news of this year's General Assembly is the publication of the history of the FIUV by Leo Darroch, from the beginning (1965) up to the resignation of Michael Davies as President in 2002. It is a substantial work and I'll be writing reviews of it in various formats soon: buy it from the LMS bookshop here.

Here is the full list of Officers an pd Council members of the FIUV

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Photos from Walsingham, Part 3

After Mass in the Reconciliation Chapel, we walked in procession down the Holy Mile, the last mile to the site of the Medieval shrine, destroyed at the Reformation.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Photos from Walsingham, Part 2

On Saturday, we stop at the ruins of Castle Acre Priory, and say the De Profundis.



On Saturday evening, at our evening stop of Great Massingham, we were visited by Bishop Alan Hopes, who is of course the lcoal Ordinary: Bishop of East Anglia.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Photos from Walsingham: Part 1

Most of these photos are by John Aron, our brilliant photographer; a couple are by me.

The pilgrimage was brilliant, and the numbers were our highest ever. I'm going to let the photos do the talking.

Gathering on Thursday evening: dinner.


Mass early on Friday morning, celebrated by Fr Michael Rowe


A new liturgy war? Magnum principium

Pope Francis has promulgated a Motu Proprio,  Magnum principium, giving Bishops’ Conferences somewhat more authority over the translations used in their areas. Conferences always had a lot to do with translations, and Rome still has the final say, so I have to defer to others who understand these things exactly what, if any, difference this is going to make. 

I don't expect the English speaking bishops to start making big changes, as everyone sensible is thoroughly exhausted by the revision of 2011. The amount of time, money, and energy required for this things is gigantic. However, I suppose we can expect liturgical progressive to initiate a renewed debate about ‘inclusive language’, ‘pro multis’, and the word ‘ineffable’, because they will always do that given half a chance. 

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Pontifical Mass in St Bede's, Thurs 28th Sept

2006 03 27_8702
Laudete Sunday Mass at St Bede's
Pontifical Mass at the Faldstool will be celebrated 
by Abbot Phillip Anderson OSB 
from Clear Creek Monastery

Thursday 28 September
at 11.00am 

at Saint Bede Church 
58 Thornton Road 
Clapham Park 
London SW12 0LF 

There will be chance to meet the Abbot after Mass in the parish hall.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Friday, September 08, 2017

What Rees-Mogg could have said

Every Catholic politician from Parish Councillor up needs to have a rehearsed answer to the 'bloody questions' of today, just as the Jesuits and seminary priests of penal times had a rehearsed answer to the 'bloody question' of penal times (viz.: if the Spaniards invaded to topple Queen Elizabeth, who would you support?).

Today's 'bloody questions' are these:

Is gay sex a sin?

Would you force a woman pregant from incestuous rape to continue with the pregnancy?

The thing about such questions is that they are framed in a slanted way, but if you refuse to answer, it will look not only weasally but also a tacit admission that you hold the most unpopular views possible. In answering them, you have to try to reframe it, but you have to do this in a few words, before you get interrupted. You have about ten seconds, and each ten-second statement must make sense on its own.

I don't claim to be an expert on media engagement - though I have been in the hotseat a handful of times. The point of this post is not to criticise anyone who has no time to think under pressure, but to make some suggestions about how we can think about these things when we do have the chance: in advance.

So, Mr Shaw, is gay sex a sin?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Why Rees-Mogg is wrong

The knives are out for Jacob Rees-Mogg MP for saying that, as a Catholic, he opposes Same Sex Marriage (SSM) and abortion in all circumstances, in this TV interview. I agree and support him, but I feel I must qualify the way he expressed himself, not on a matter of mere technical accuracy but in relation to questions of fundamental importance.

First, he repeatedly notes that he accepts Church teaching, and this is why he opposes these two things. Since many non-Catholics agree with him, today and in the past, this seems a curious way of talking. It seems to be an implicit appeal to religious freedom, and this is indeed how the debate about his comments is now playing out in the media: the question has become 'can Catholics lead political parties, or hold important government positions?' The argument for answering that question in the affirmative is 'religious freedom'. We shouldn't exclude people from positions just because of their religious affiliation. Rees-Mogg and other Catholics should be allowed their eccentric views because those views are part of being Catholic.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

LMS Brinkburn Pilgrimage: this Saturday

Brinkburn Priory, a Medieval monastic house dissolved in the 16th century and later re-roofed, hosts an annual pilgrimage organised by the Latin Mass Society.

Saturday 9th September, 12 noon,
Brinkburn Priory
Longframlington, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 8AR

Fr Michael Brown, our Chaplain in the North of England, writes:

The annual Mass at Brinkburn Priory will take place on Saturday 9th September at 12 noon. This will be the twenty-third and last. The choir Antiphon will be singing the Missa L'homme arme' by Guillaume Dufay with the motets Benedicta et venerabilis by Byrd and Parsons Ave Maria. We will also have a Gregorian chant group led by David Edwards. I`m hoping the Mass will be a Solemn High celebration but am still trying to confirm the sacred ministers.
This looks like being the last pilgrimage Mass in Brinkburn, because of 'health and safety' concerns about candles and incense. See Fr Brown's post for more.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

What's wrong with Yoga? Part 2

Liturgical prayer: a High Mass of Requiem
In the first post of this pair I explained that Yoga, as typically experienced today in the West (and, for that matter, elsewhere in the world) is not helpfully described as an ancient practice, as a specifically Hindu practice, or as a practice with a basis in a single Indian philosophical tradition. It is is, unfortunately for our purposes in trying to dissent and assess it, too new and too complex for such generalisations.

What can one say, then, about Yoga and the Faith? Are Catholics wrong to feel uncomfortable, as they sometimes do, with Yoga being presented as something for people of 'all faiths and none', to take place in the parish hall like a cake-making demonstration?

I think the easiest way for Westerners to think about Yoga is as related to the New Age. Yoga is such a huge movement that it has a distinct identity from the New Age; also the physical exercise side of Yoga claims to be scientific and medical, and (at least to a degree) is genuinly so. But on the other hand, Yoga derives from many of the same attitudes and aspirations as the New Age, and fits it very comfortably with it. The New Age is full of attempts to use techniques to transcend and to heal; Yoga is one such technique.

Monday, September 04, 2017

What's wrong with Yoga? Part 1

Physical Culture: from Wikipedia Commons
I have been doing a bit of thinking and reading about the New Age, and a talk at the Roman Forum in Gardone this year stimulated me to do more of each about the phenomenon of Yoga: a talk by the Swedish academic Clemens Cavellin, which is available on his website here.

Yoga is one of those hot-button issues which arouses strong feelings in Catholic social media, and as much of the discussion is not very well informed, I thought I'd try to inform it a little.

Before my full assimilation into traddie-land I did a bit of Yoga myself for a few years; accordingly I have my own impressions of the general atmosphere and attitudes of Yoga classes, books, and personal practice. However it must be said that my experience was fairly superficial; I never entered any inner circle of Yoga adepts. The spiritual aspects of Yoga was part of the reason I stopped: I got fed up with being told to say 'Om', for example. Another was doubts about its physical efficacy. I don't deny the health benefits, but there is a natural tendency in Yoga to want to advance to the more perfect performance of more difficult postures, and, in short, become really really bendy, and while being a bit bendy is probably a good idea, I don't think it is particularly beneficial to be really really bendy. However, I'm not qualified to comment further on that.

In this post I want to talk about the philosophico/religious presuppositions of Yoga, or rather why it is so difficult to talk about such presuppositions. Having cleared this ground, in the next post I'll say what I think can be said about Yoga as a phenomenon, and its relationship with the Catholic Faith.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Epiphany and Ascension restored to their proper days

Corpus Christi Procession in Oxford: on the correct day
As I've noted before, the 2006 decision of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales to celebrate Ascension, Corpus Christi, and Epiphany onthe nearest Sunday in the Ordinary Form is the most unpopular one I can think of in my experience. Letters in the press and blog posts criticising it appear year after year. The few who defended the decision when it was first made long ago gave up trying to respond. It is good to see the bishops are big enough to recognise that they made a mistake, although it is also true that there has been a big turnover of the Conference in the last eight years, and ironically enough today's announcement is accompanied by the news of the death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the architect of the original decison: requiscat in pace.

Here is the Bishops' Decree. We can now set our sights on restoring Corpus Christi to its proper date, and reversing the decision of 1984 to move the celebrations of all the Holy Days to Sunday when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday (except Christmas). At any rate, it seems we'll have a few more years to advertise the fact that if you want to attend Corpus Christi on its 'particular day' (as the CDW expresses it) you'll have to go to the Traditional Mass.

Irreversible reform? Me in the Catholic Herald this weekend

This weekend the Catholic Herald has a cover story about the Traditional Mass' appeal to young people, by Matthew Schmitz.

Accompanying this is a shorter piece by me on Pope Francis' remarks, made in a speech to a group of Italian liturgists, that the 'reform' is 'irreversible'.

It is not available online, so you'll need to look out for a paper edition. Here's a taster.

Pope Francis’s recent address on the liturgy – about which he has hitherto said little – was striking for its conventionality. In almost every respect, the Pope’s speech hews to the official,  post-Vatican II line. It emphasises the continuity of the post-conciliar reform with the efforts of Pius X and XII; it praises the reform for its “vitality”; it condemns liturgical abuses (“deformations”); and it calls for an end to liturgical conflict. 

But it has raised eyebrows for its rejection of the possibility of revisiting the “decisions” of the reform in light of its “inspirational principles: an explicit rejection of the “Reform of the Reform” project, which seeks to go back to the Council documents and do the reform again, better. This should be no surprise. In the official mindset, the reform was perfect and was marred only by liturgical abuses. Liturgical progressives should note that the account of the liturgy which follows is entirely traditional, focusing on the altar, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, not even mentioning the Last Supper, the Mass as a shared meal or the liturgy as an affirmation of community. 

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pontifical Mass for the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum in London: 14th Sept

Thursday 14th September, 7pm: Pontifical High Mass in St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street EC2M7LS

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, celebrated by Rt. Rev Mark Jabale OSB, Emeritus Bishop of Menevia.

Music by Cantus Magnus directed by Matthew Schellhorn:
Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 – 1585) Mass for Four Voices
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594) Nos autem gloriari
Luca Marenzio (c. 1553 – 1599) Super omnia
Kyrie XI
Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Crying rooms in churches: a terrible idea

Adults and children kneel for the Consecration at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School
Last weekend's Catholic Herald carried an article by me about 'crying rooms', spaces sealed off with soundproof glass intended for noisy children and their parents.

I was inspired to write it by realising that the notion of excluding children from the rest of the congregation, or even from Mass entirely, was an idea with a following among not a few conservative and traditionally-minded Catholics. It is a reaction against the experience of chaotic liturgy where children are allowed to wander around, perhaps even into the sanctuary, which I suppose is more associated with a 'progressive' liturgical attitude. The thought would be: if we want a well-ordered, reverent liturgy, we need to get the small children under control; since we can't rely on parents to do this, we should bundle them into a separate space where they won't spoil things for everyone else.

This is short-sighted, however: as I explain the article, children won't learn to behave if shoved into a room where they can behave as badly as they like, and their parents won't learn to discipline them in that context either. Neither the parents nor the children will experience the atmosphere of the liturgy, and both are left with the impression that they are not truly welcome.

Friday, August 25, 2017

We're off to Walsingham!


This is a scheduled post: blogging from the road is very difficult. But please remember the Latin Mass Society pilgrims on the road to Walsingham, departing early Friday and arriving lunchtime on Sunday. After Mass in the Catholic Shrine, we walk the last, 'Holy Mile', to the site of the Medieval Shrine, arriving there at about 4:30pm, with many others who've come for the day.

Join us next year!

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Moving Priests: Spetchley and Hethe

Fr Anthony Talbot in the chapel at Spetchly Park
Archbishop Longley is moving some priests around in his diocese, and this will effect the provision of the Extraordinary Form in two locations.

Fr Paul Lester is moving away from Holy Trinity, Hethe, and we wish the best in his new parish. He will be leaving on 10th September. It was entirely his initiative to start celebrating the Traditional Mass in the beautiful church of Holy Trinity, and to do so every Sunday, including most recently two Sung Masses a month, and the occasional High Mass with deacon and subdeacon. Among his other achievments as Parish Priest, Fr Lester arranged for Archbishop Longley to celebrate the EF in Holy Trinity, and celebrated Midnight Mass in the church each Christmas.

We are extremely grateful to him for all of this, which has been a tremendous benefit to many supporters of the EF in the area, and to many, indeed, who were able to discover it.

Fr Lester has been in Hethe only three years, but happily what he started will continue.

Fr Anthony Talbot will be moving away from Spetchley Park, where he has been chaplain in the private chapel there. His new role will include celebrating the Traditional Mass in Hethe.

It is a matter of regret that for the moment it would appear that regular Masses will no longer be taking place at Spetchley Park. However, we are very pleased that continuity of the EF at Hethe has been ensured, and I personally look forward to seeing Fr Talbot, a long-standing friend of Tradition, in Holy Trinity. We are very grateful to Archbishop Longley for bearing in mind the needs of the traditional faithful in Hethe, as he juggles his limited resources in his enormous diocese.

If there is a short gap between Fr Lester's departure and Fr Talbot's arrival in Hethe, the Latin Mass Society will do its best to arrange for the regular Sunday Masses at 12 noon to continue without a break.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Glasonbury 2017

The Latin Mass Society's annual Pilgrimage to Glastonbury will take place on Saturday 9th September.

It starts at 11:30am with Sung Mass in the Catholic Parish Church, St Mary's, Magdalene St, Glastonbury BA6 9EJ: click for a map.

This is directly opposite the ruins of the Abbey, and pilgrims will as usual have access to the Abbey grounds as part of the pilgrimage.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

High Mass and Family Day at St Mary's Gosport


On Saturday 12th July I attended High Mass in St Mary's, Gosport, where the friars organised a 'family day', with some talks about matters of interest to Catholic families and activities for the children.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Guild of St Clare: sewing workshops in Oxford

Well, strictly speaking these are in Headington, a suburb of Oxford. But everyone is welcome. Cross-posted from the Guild blog.


Forthcoming autumn events

The Guild of St Clare is holding the following workshops in the autumn:

2nd September: Project Finishing - bring along your unfinished sewing projects and make some progress with the help of our skilled Guild members!

21st October: Embroidery techniques with Jacqui McDonald of the Royal School of Needlework

11th November: Vestment mending and making - we have various altar furnishings, chasubles, and a cope in need of repair. Join us to assist us in mending them, learn about their construction and serve the Church.

All these workshops are taking place at St Anthony of Padua church hall, 115 Headley Way, Oxford OX3 7SS. They run between 10am and 4pm. Tea and cake is provided - please bring your own lunch. For more details or to book a place please email Lucy on

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trump, Fascism, Evangelisation

Here is a post I did on Trump back in May 2016.

It may be time for me to write something about the 'traditionalism' of the 'alt-right', though I am put off by the prospect of reading up on it. There is an excellent article on the attitude of Richard Spencer (the alt-right's founding figure) to the pro-life movement, which perhaps tells us what we need to know. He's against, because he likes the fact that lots of black babies are aborted.

As I've said before, people who didn't like the 'religious right' are going to love the 'post-religious right'.

Proclaiming the Gospel: at the LMS Training Conference, Prior Park
I've been reading the collection of Dietrich von Hildebrand's writings published as My Struggle Against Hitler, which I highly recommend. Hildebrand, who much later emerged as one of the intellectual founders of the movement for the preservation of the Traditional Mass, was an important ideological opponent of the Nazis. He had to flee Germany when they came to power, and set up an anti-Nazi newspaper in Austria, until he had to flee from there as well.

Hildebrand was a philosopher by profession, and his analysis of the Nazi phenomenon, as a contemporary, is fascinating. He regards Nazism and Communism as feeding off a rejection of liberal individualism, but offering a false alternative to it. Instead of restoring to people a sense of identity rooted in genuine communities, they gave people an ersatz sense of belonging through the whipping up of mass hysteria, and based their ideologies on an idolisation of particular communities at the expense of all others, and of the value of the individual: for the Communists it was class, for the Nazis, race.