Monday, May 29, 2017

Protecting people against bad ideas

John Stuart Mill
Like everyone else involved in universities and schools, I have had to undergo training on dealing with students who might be at risk of 'radicalisation', as part of the Government's 'Prevent' strategy. In fact I think anyone can access and do this little on-line course. There has been a lot of criticism of the Government's policies in this area, but this aspect at least seems pretty sensible. It contained some important insights into how people are drawn into dodgy groups, which correspond with what I have read about recruitment done by cults, which is of course a pretty close parallel to what is happening. I can't comment on other aspects of Government policy, but I'm not uncomfortable with what I am myself being asked to do as a university tutor. It just looks like good practice: a matter of being concerned with student welfare.
What's interesting is how it seems to be in tension with developing attitudes and even official policies coming from a different direction. Two such tensions struck me.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

YouTube Video from Roger Buck

Having read two books by Roger Buck, and had some email correspondance with him, it is rather interesting to see him in the flesh, so to speak, on video, for the first time.

My posts about his books:

The lovely Gentle Traditionalist, suitable for non-Trads and indeed non-Catholic readers.

The longer Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Restored, detailed critique of the New Age, partly autobiographical, and a plea for the restoration of Europe.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eucharisticum Mysterium: blog post for the Catholic Herald

The Catholic Herald has published a post of mine on the 50th anniversary of one of the documents preparing the way for the Novus Ordo Missae. The highlight of the document is the evolving attitude to concelebration.

Simultaneous Low Mass at the LMS Priest Training Conference in Prior Park, 

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, signed by both the Prefect of the soon-to-be abolished Sacred Congregation of Rites, and the President of the Concilium, the temporary institution in charge of the liturgical reform. It now represents a fascinating snapshot of a fast-moving action sequence.

Go there to read it.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New book on the Third Secret of Fatima

Kevin Symonds, whose book on the composition of the Prayer to St Michael I recommended on this blog back in 2015, has written another careful, thorough, and sober study of a subject surrounded by conjecture: the 'Third Secret' of Fatima.

Get it from

I've provided a publicity-blurb for it as follows:

Symonds has done a very thorough job in getting to the bottom–insofar as it is possible–of the various confusions and conspiracy theories on the subject of the Third Secret, making a compelling case that what the Vatican published in 2000 was the whole text of it as written by Sr Lucia. No doubt the debate will continue, but the clarity and intellectual honesty of Symonds’ work, with copious reference to the relevant sources in their original languages, will be of enormous assistance for scholars in the future who wish to understand this tangled affair. –Dr. Joseph Shaw

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SSPX ordinations: with permission from the Holy See

Update: there's an amusing exchange in Fr Z's comment box on this. Fr Z quotes Archbishop Pozzo of the PCED that SSPX priestly ordinations are something they 'permit and tolerate' but which are still regarded as 'valid but illicit'. But, really, that doesn't make sense. If they are permitted, they are licit. The word 'licit' simply means 'permitted': any dictionary will tell you that.

Of course these are crazy times. And anyway I'm happy if Rome wants to make some concession now ('permit and tolerate') while allowing itself to make another, at least on paper ('make licit') at some future date. It is all part of a process, after all.


This is really wonderful news: Bishop Fellay, Superior of the Society of St Pius X, has said (h/t Rorate Caeli) that he recieved a letter from the Holy See last year telling him that he could continue with priestly ordinations, without needing permission from the local bishop. This is a move I noted as a possible 'next step' after those involving confession and marriages in my 'Chairman's Message' in the latest Mass of Ages, which I reproduce below.


Not for the first time in the present pontificate, the Catholic media is abuzz with the possibility that the Society of Pope Pius X (SSPX) will be ‘reconciled’ to the Holy See: which is to say, that it would gain official canonical status. On a previous occasion, when asked for comments by Catholic journalists, I told them to calm down: my view was that it wasn’t about to happen, because of the issue of mutual trust. I was correct, then, but things have continued to develop. The ‘jurisdiction’ needed for priests to hear confessions validly, outside an emergency situation, was granted to the SSPX for the ‘Year of Mercy’, and when that year came to an end this jurisdiction was granted permanently. Now provisions have been made in relation to weddings celebrated by SSPX priests, so that there need not be any doubt about their validity either. These arrangements give the SSPX privileges, such as jurisdiction to hear confessions given directly from the Pope, enjoyed by no other religious institute.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mass of Ages: Summer 2017 edition published

If your local church doesn't have copies, get one by post here.

Bishop Schneider on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.

James Bogle on the Emperor, Bl Charles of Austria.

Plus: Antonia Robinson, LMS Committee Member and Local Representative for Thanet, introduces the LMS Family Contact Register.

Joseph Shaw, LMS Chairman, introduces us to ‘a real devotional object’: the Easter Garden
Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, issues the cry “Muster the Legions!” as he commemorates the tenth anniversary of the international prayer network for vocations: The Confraternity of St Peter.
Paul Waddington, LMS Treasurer and Local Representative for Middlebrough, visits the church of the Sacred Heart in Caterham.
Matthew Schellhorn, LMS Director of Music for London, reveals how he approached planning and selecting the music for the celebration of the Triduum Sacrum this year.
Alberto Carosa reports on the recent gathering of musicians in Rome to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Musicam Sacram.
Our regular columnists:
• The Lone Veiler with some words of wisdom from St Augustine
• Caroline Shaw looks at a pilgrim’s souvenir from the 16th Century: The miraculous bleeding Host of Dijon
• Fr Bede Row asks, “Do we still believe in marriage?”
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Who are Pope Francis' 'rigid Catholics'?

Crush not the spirit. From the Rosary Walk
at Pantasaph, the Franciscan Retreat Centre
in North Wales.

Whenever Pope Francis talks about 'pharisees', 'rigid' Catholics and the like there is a speculation about whom he really means. Some of the things he says, which seem to concern liturgical issues, are interpreted as directed at Traditional Catholics, though as I have pointed out many are in fact explicitly targeted at the 'Reform of the Reform' movement. More general remarks about 'rigidity' in outlook may seem to be about anyone with a traditional understanding of the moral demands of the Gospel, given the background issue of marriage and divorce, but I think we should not be too quick to assume that the Holy Father is talking about common-or-garden traditionally-minded Catholics. There are after all other groups in the Church which may loom somewhat larger in his field of vision, and have no connection with the Traditional Mass.

How would we describe, for example, the atmosphere of the Legionaires of Christ under their founder, the manipulative, corrupt, and sexually abusive Marcial Maciel Degollado? 'Rigidity' is not a bad term, even if it hardly gets to the root of the problem. Other groups in the Church have reputations, rightly or wrongly, which place them, on the 'rigidity' scale, a long way way from, say, the post-Conciliar Jesuits. Pope Francis has some interesting things to say to them.

The NeoCatechumenal Way. There has been some strong opposition to the NCW from Latin American bishops in the past, so it is interesting to know what Pope Francis has to say. It has long had official favour in Rome; most recently Pope Benedict (corrected: not, of course, Pope Francis), in 2011, effectively forced the bishops of Japan to let them in. But as John Allen has discussed an audience Pope Francis held with members of the Neocatechumiate in early 2014 included some pointed advice:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ann Furedi in Oxford

The Birmingham March for Life is on Saturday: see the full details of the day's event here. The march itself is from 2pm but the day starts with Masses and talks from 9am. It's huge and important; please go if you can.

I'm reposting below my comments from November 2013 on Ann Furedi's talk in support of abortion which took place in Oxford.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Votive Mass for Fatima: photos


Here are some photos of the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart which was celebrated in SS Gregory and Augustine by Fr John Saward, last Saturday: 13th May.


Monday, May 15, 2017

'What does Fatima mean?' by Hamish Fraster

Hamish Fraser with a dove
on his head: one released
during a Fatima conference
in Paris.
I'm not an expert on Fatima, but I thought that this excerpt from Hamish Fraser's book Fatal Star serves a useful contrast, and perhaps corrective, to certain conventional views of 'the message of Fatima'. The blog title is taken from a section heading in the book, p145, and the passage below follows it.

It is true that Our Lady of of Fatima did ask for prayer: for the Daily Rosary, the First Saturday devotion, and for the wearing of the brown scapular. Nevertheless, these are purely incidental to the essence of the Fatima message. This was made clear to John Haffert ... of the international Fatima apostolate...

When Haffert asked Sister Lucia whether the principle [sic] request of her heavenly visitor was for the Rosary, Sister Lucy's answer was most emphatically in the negative. Moreover, he affirms that her reply was given with a quite "surprising assurance" [from Haffert Russia will be Converted]. And Haffert, who is far too honest not to admit it, tells us that until then he had always assumed that the Rosary to be Our Lady's principal request.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Why I'm not going to lambast Traditional Catholics

Self-cricism. They were executed anyway.
I've been taken to task for defending Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass from various exagerated criticisms, and for pointing out that other identifiable groups in the Church have the same characteristics, if not worse ones, rather than engaging in Maoist-style self-criticism. Today I'm going to say a bit more about this.

We are all sinners, and if anyone reading this has a story about a sinful Traditional Catholic, I'm not going to claim that such a thing could not be true. There are a number of dangers, however, with Maoist self-criticism, which really should be obvious.

1. It is narcissistic and inward-looking. Frankly, the personal qualities of Traditional Catholics are not very important for the Church as a whole. Let's just get over ourselves, shall we?

2. It implies the truth of generalisations about Traditional Catholics, which is itself uncharitable. For me to say 'I've heard these criticisms and there is truth in them - yes, [taking out an onion] I'm a Traditional Catholic, and I'm a bitter, hate-filled, Pharisee' implies something not just about me personally but about the group as a whole: it is an accusation against my fellow trads, and one I have no right to make.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Donna Steichen on the New Age in the Catholic Church

I've been reading Donna Steichen, Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism (Ignatius Press, 1991). It is a snapshot of the situation in the second half of the 1980s. It is important to understand how we got to where we are today, and Steichen's observations from a quarter of a century ago are particularly helpful in that respect. She wrote at what was in many ways the high-water mark of the attempt by liberal Church employees, clergy, and religious, to use the resources of the Church herself to teach Catholics an alternative religion. This was the era of tens of thousands of priests and religious being laicised and released from their vows (or simply leaving without authorisation), but these individuals very often remained active in the Church, writing, speaking, teaching in schools and universities, and being involved in diocesan offices of one kind or another, and providing the warm bodies for a movement for reform. They managed to gain and retain control of Catholic educational institutions, above all, but also of many other aspects of the Church with propagandistic potential, giving talks in parishes, organising liturgy, and so on.

Steichen explains that the route out of the Faith was opened up by the common-or-garden variety of theological Modernism, but the opening was exploited by people influenced by quite distinct movements: feminism, the New Age, and Neo-Paganism.

Scholars who pruned the supernatural from scriptural interpretation on the grounds that 'modern man' could not believe it give no sign of having second thoughts as modern men and women flood into fundamentalist churches or pay thousands of dollars to seek advice from New Age mediums.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Are traditionalists paranoid?

Over on Unam Sanctam blog, the old canard of the 'obnoxious trad' is wheeled out. Apparently the author has met a couple of priests don't like the people who come to the Traditional Mass; one has stopped celebrating it. Hmm. Maybe these Catholics were sinners, in need of the sacraments. It seems they won't be receiving them with much good will from these priests.

It has been well answered by Brian Williams at the Liturgy Guy here. Catholics attached to the ancient liturgy are accused of 'chasing' the traditional Mass from parish to parish, and not coming to other parish events. Williams points out that this is simply a consequence of the fact that they are not having their legitimate aspirations for the sacraments in the traditional forms met in any one parish, and very often have to travel long distances to attend services and events. A priest who declines to go beyond what he describes as a 'semi-regular' provision of the EF can hardly complain about that. I don't necessarily blame the priests for not doing more: I don't know what their other committments are. But by the same token no one is in a position to criticise laity for not making multiple two-hour round trips each week for extra events at a parish which has not given them a liturgical home.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Rigid Young People and the Traditional Mass

'Feed my sheep.'
Once again the Pope has criticised 'rigid young people'. The Church is a big place and I'm sure his criticisms apply to some people. The issue of hypocritical rigid Catholics is a big theme in The Devil Hates Latin, and it may well be that Pope Francis has the kind of people in view there in mind, at least among others. The difficulty is how the tone comes over for a lot of the Catholics in the West who are actually going to read some summary of these remarks. It can easily sound as though the Pope is criticising people who take their Faith seriously, or would like to.

I thought I'd repost a section of an old, over-long post from this blog on young people and the Traditional Mass: this is below, and the post is here.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Masses in Limerick: Letter in The Tablet

Not available in Limerick?
Update: I'm told (by someone on Facebook) that there were in fact a few OF Masses celebrated in the diocese, by religious (as opposed to secular, diocesan) priests. Also, that the lay-led liturgies were not Eucharistic, just 'liturgies of the word'.

This makes the falsity of the report by the diocesan 'manager' more egregious, and the deprivation of the Faithful of the Sacrements more clear-cut.

Original post below.

Last weekend The Tablet reported on the alleged fact that the previous Tuesday had not seen any public celebrations of Mass in the Diocese of Limerick. The headline connected this with a shortage of priests, but the text of the story took a quite different line, pointing out that the diocese has no fewer than 108 priests. Surely one or two could have said a public Mass? The reason they didn't is that they were all involved in a training day. So there were lay-led eucharistic liturgies instead.

According to Catherine Kelly, general manager of Limerick Diocese, the liturgies are one of the many initiatives from last year’s synod. The diocese is offering people opportunities to have “greater involvement in the Church, greater leadership [and] greater ownership”, she said.

“The Church we all grew up with could be viewed as a train,” said Bishop Leahy, “a locomotive pulling many carriages behind it. That is not fit for purpose today. We all need to be engines of the Church, out there, working for others, doing good work”.

An interesting attitude. What the Protestants couldn't do, the liberals have done. Anyway, this weekend The Tablet have published a letter of mine:

Your report on the Mass-less Tuesday in the Diocese of Limerick gives the impression that it was not just an unfortunate coincidence, but a deliberate stunt to promote lay-led Eucharistic liturgies. Let us hope that the bishop of Limerick does not see his role as depriving his people of the sacraments, instead of feeding his flock, which would indeed be strange if true.

In any case, the report was false. The church of the Sacred Heart in Limerick, sold to developers by the Jesuits in 2006 and re-opened for worship by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in 2012, had Mass at 8am and at 7pm, and also times for Adoration and Confession. No doubt it didn't appear on the radar of the diocesan employee quoted in the story because, although the Institute works in the diocese with the permission of the bishop, they celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Shaw
Chairman, The Latin Mass Society

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Bullying and ostracism from the Catholic Education Service

Update: as well as Mark Lambert, CCFather has written three posts about this which are worth reading.

Something which has emerged is that much of this document is cut and pasted from materials created by Stonewall, the charming gay advocacy group which gave Cardinal O'Brian its annual 'Bigot of the Year' award for opposing same-sex marriage, and a group called 'lgbtScotland'.


Copies of a guidance document entitled 'Made in God's Image', on homophobic bullying, from the Catholic Education Service are doing the rounds. It is going to be sent to Catholic schools soon but Mark Lambert has put the pdf on DropBox and made a few comments.

The document has both superficial and deep problems. Superficially, I'm suspicious of documents which don't include the names of the people who drew them up, or indeed the name of anyone willing to take responsibility for it. This document has the logos of the CES, St Mary's University, and the Aquinas Centre for Theological Literacy on it. Is it actually endorsed by these institutions? (Did St Mary's ask its governing body to vote on it? I hardly think so.) Where does it come from? Who paid for it? Who composed it? No matter, the CES is promoting it, maybe that is all we need to know.

Again, this is a 37-page document on homophobic bullying, which sets out lesson plans for eight 50-minute lessons to be devoted exclusively to this topic. What about other forms of bullying? What about other forms of bullying which target 'protected characteristics' under English law? No doubt the CES has policies on all these things but there is no sense of an integrated approach here. How does this fit in with Sex Ed, Religious Studies, or anything else? It is not even clear what teachers are supposed to deliver these lessons, which make frequent reference to gospel passages, but stray into history, current affairs, and Sex Ed. In some places the reader gets the impression that it would be PE teachers who are most relevant to the issues raised.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dominican High Mass for St Peter Martyr: photos


Last Saturday Oxford's Dominicans celebrated a High Mass; it was the feast of St Peter Martyr in the Dominican calendar.


The Celebrant was Fr Oliver Keenan, OP (English Province); the Deacon Fr Richard Conrad, OP (English Province), and the Subdeacon Br Richard Steenvoorde, OP (Dutch Province).


It was accompanied by the Schola Abelis of Oxford, led by Dominic Bevan.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Novel: The Devil Hates Latin

I've just read a new novel, a first novel, with a Catholic theme: 'The Devil Hates Latin' by Katharine Galgano. It is being published by Regina Magazine. It is really more of a thriller than anything else, involving both the corruption and the graces which characterise the Church of today, and of all ages.

You can buy it here (UK) and here (USA).

Something we need to try to keep hold of today is the interplay in the Church, and in the world as a whole, of really terrible bad things, and the action of God. I think Catholics can handle this better than Protestants, as long as we manage to escape the historically Protestant idea that the Church is or should be the community only of the saved. Of course the Church contains sinners, chancers, the ambitious and the corrupt, and some of these will attach themselves to positions of prestige in the Church because they like the idea of the prestige and the money and influence that it might bring. The Church also contains the lukewarm, and people who have made all sorts of compromises without ever saying to themselves that they no longer believe.

Into this endlessly complicated situation the Devil seeks to bring souls to Hell, and God works his grace, especially through the sacraments. It is a battle fought by all of us, day by day, Mass by Mass, confession by confession, temptation by temptation. Galgano presents this in a highly dramatised form, which is hugely fun to read, but also also says something fundamentally true about the fallen human condition, with some pithy insights into culture, politics, and the Church.

You can buy it here (UK) and here (USA).

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