Wednesday, December 23, 2020

On cancelling Christmas

Sung Midnight Mass (anticipated at 6pm) in SS Gregory & Augustine's, Oxford. Despite everything
it will take place again this year.

My latest on LifeSite. A key paragraph:

You don’t have to be a believing Christian to take part in this cultural phenomenon, but it is a cultural phenomenon built, not simply on a Christian festival, like having a long weekend and chocolate eggs at Easter, but on a Christian story. It is the Holy Family, in their journey to Bethlehem, in the birth of Jesus, and the visits of the shepherds and kings, who are at the heart of the commercialized indulgence, even if this heart is sometimes hidden. In our shopping streets they can be glimpsed in the music, the decorations, and the nativity scenes. In the most secular household they are still there too, in the idea of homecoming, family, and the exchange of gifts: and in the very idea of hope at the darkest time of the year. Without Christmas, the English winter would be nothing but dark, wet, and miserable.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Thoughts sparked by Joseph Sciambra

St Joseph, from Wikipedia Commons

I've wanted to say something about Joseph Sciambra's important essay, 'Remaining in a Church That Hurt(s) Me', for a while, and now I've written something for LifeSite about it.

Sciambra is a victim of clerical abuse who was consistently told to accept the fact that he was homosexual by priests.

Here's a key paragaraph of my article:

What we are being told is that this [the standard approach] is the compassionate thing: that any other approach is judgmental and wrong. But what Sciambra found is that the “born that way” message is a gift to abusers, because it imprisons young people not only in a category of person, but in a pattern of behavior. Those told they are gay are then told, by many Catholic priests, along with much or all of the medical and cultural establishment, that they should be acting out in certain ways, as their only path out of loneliness and self-loathing to fulfilment.

Read my whole article.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Meet Fr Joseph Quigley, creator of Catholic sex education and paedophile

This story, as they say, writes itself. Fr Joseph Quigly, author of the Birmingham Archdiocese's first foray into sex education, All That I Am, explained about it:

"If we talk about sexuality as a gift, clearly we want to introduce them to that at an appropriate level."

Who could possible have imagined that a man who made it his mission to destroy the innocence of children, who planned, designed, imposed and defended the systematic breaking-down of the natural sexual reserve of nine-year-olds -- who could have possibly thought for a moment that such a man might be sadistic paedophile? I suppose we should all have complete confidence that such an astonishing coincidence is just that -- a coincidence -- and that no-one else involved in the demonic project to sexualise our children is also involved in the demonic project of physically abusing them. Because to connect the two things would be ridiculous wouldn't it? No, it would be far more sane to agree with the sex education establishment that to sexualise children in the classroom is actually a protection against sexualisation by paedophiles. In some way they will I'm sure explain very clearly.

Me on LifeSite.

Father Joseph Quigley of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England was convicted this week of sexual activity with a child, sexual assault, false imprisonment (he liked to lock children in a crypt) and cruelty. One case against him dated from the 1990s, another concerned his actions between 2006 and 2008.

The Archdiocese, headed until 2009 by Vincent Nichols, now the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and since then by Archbishop Bernard Longley, failed to report Quigley to the police when they learned of one set of his crimes in 2008. Instead, they flew him to the United States for “rehabilitation” in a specialist clinic and subsequently allowed him to return to work in the UK.

After that, he was supposedly under “restrictions,” but managed somehow to celebrate Mass at a school in 2009, and he was commissioned by the Archdiocese to carry out a school inspection in 2011.

What were they thinking? Well, as a matter of fact, Quigley supposedly had considerable expertise in education. If he had been diagnosed as a “a sexual sadist and voyeur,” what did that matter? Let me quote the report in the UK’s liberal Catholic weekly, The Tablet.

At the time that the first allegations against Quigley were made in 2008, he was both director of education for the Birmingham archdiocese and national adviser on religious education for the Catholic Education Service (CES), of which Archbishop Nichols was chair. 

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

That Natvity scene in the Vatican

I see that the Daily Mail ridicules the Vatican nativity scene this year as reminiscent of the Daleks from Dr Who. Has it come to this? The world's one artistic superpower, the Catholic Church, so utterly fails an annual chance to evangelise through beauty as to provoke insults. Is this how we bring people to Christ?

Me on LifeSite.

This year, the annual tradition of the large-scale Nativity scene in St Peter’s Square descended into farce when the figures were revealed as childish and hideous products of artistic modernism. The figures were produced over the course of about a decade starting in 1965 and are reminiscent of the mediocre art of that time. One of the figures visiting the crib is an astronaut; others are unrecognizable. There is an angel represented as a bizarre, tower-like object with meaningless rings round it.

There are a great many reasons why this collection of objects is unsuitable for display as the Vatican’s Nativity scene. I leave it to art historians to decide whether it has sufficient historical importance to gather dust in a provincial museum somewhere. If it were not the season of goodwill, I might suggest it be crushed and used for road-building. But the simple and overwhelming point to make about it is that while it might claim to be religious art — art inspired by religious themes or values, or representing a scene with religious significance — it cannot possibly be described as devotional art.

The failure to distinguish these two categories is to blame for a lot of en
tirely inappropriate art in our churches. Consider the images showing the Stations of the Cross. These are designed to assist the user (and, yes, devotional art is used), to enter imaginatively into the scenes of Christ’s sufferings. This assistance to the imagination is the role of all devotional depictions of scenes. To do this effectively, it needs at least to be representational, and not, for example, abstract.

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Last chance before Christmas for LMS Wall Calendars!

There's no obligation to get your Latin Mass Society 2021 Wall Calendars before Christmas, but if you want to give them away, it makes sense, doesn't it? So don't be shy: this is more or less your last chance to get them and other things from our online shop in time for them to be posted on the last working days of the LMS Office before the holiday. Our unique design allows for multiple beautiful photographs for every month.

Also fresh for 2021 is of course our famous Ordo, giving you the feasts of every day of the year. Our long-standing custom is to give our priest-supporters get a copy for free every year.

We also have many seasonal and perennial items: Christmas cards, books about the liturgy, the Faith, the saints, mantillas, rosaries, scapulars and so on.

The shop is doing very well this year, but there's no harm in giving them a bit more custom! And don't forget to activate your 5% member's discount when online in the shop by logging in.

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Child seats in cars and the disincentive to have children

Me on LifeSite.

There has been a bit of chatter recently about the idea of ‘car seats as contraception’: the direct and indirect cost of children’s car seats, which were unheard of in my own childhood (was it really so long ago?) and are now required for older and older children, and take up so much space that parents of a growing family quickly have to transition to a huge car or indeed a minibus. A couple of researchers have actually done a study of the effect this has had in the USA. From the abstract:

We estimate that these laws prevented only 57 car crash fatalities of children nationwide in 2017. Simultaneously, they led to a permanent reduction of approximately 8,000 births in the same year, and 145,000 fewer births since 1980, with 90% of this decline being since 2000.

That’s a pretty vivid result, but it is just one factor in the economic disincentives to have children today. It is difficult to find larger homes: many big old houses are divided into flats. Air travel is ruinously expensive with a large family. No preference for married men with children to support is allowed in hiring or promotion, as it was in the past. And so on.

Read the whole thing.

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

LMS Launches the Iota Unum podcast series

An image from the LMS Bedford Pilgrimage


We have now published three of the series. As well as Podbean they are now available on a few other channels, so you can search for us on your favoured one. It's popped up on the built-in Podcast app of my IPhone for example. Don't forget to rate us!

An interview with the Gregorian Chant specialist Dr Matthew Ward: 'Chant and Prayer'.

Dr John Rao speaks with Dr Shaw on the destruction of New York in Lockdown, on the impact of the recent riots in the USA and Jacobinism and the French Revolution.

Daniel Dolley, who holds a D Phil in Social Anthropology from Oxford University, speaks about the spirituality of the Amazon and the Traditional Latin Mass.

The last in this Advent Season, to be released next Tuesday is Maria Madise on the attack on the family

They can be listened to on our PodBean channel and on various other podcast hosting sites. More podcasts are planned for the New Year.

There are some older recordings on the channel, the talks from a conference the LMS hosted a few years ago.


Gaudete Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe

Last Sunday Fr Tim Finigan very kindly came to the Church of Holy Trinity, in the village of Hethe outside Oxford, to celebrate the Mass of Gaudete Sunday. I am very pleased that despite the Coronavirus this went ahead: it is one of a quarterly series of Masses in this important historic church, and we have not been able to have the last two of them.


The church was at bursting point - in a manner of speaking. It's a small church and we were asked to keep the size of the congregation below 22. More by Providence than by any very clever planning, we had 21.

All being well, the next Sung EF Mass in this lovely church will be in the Spring, I hope its patronal feast, Trinity Sunday, 30th May. These Masses are at 11am and the church can be found here. I hope we'll have room for more people by then.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Bell case and the trans project

My latest on LifeSite.

The debate about transgender persons has been transformed in the U.K. by a ruling of the High Court that children of 13 or less are very unlikely to be capable to giving consent to “puberty-blocker” drugs, and consent from older children is also fraught with difficulty. As the homosexual newspaper Pink News put it:

Puberty blockers are widely deemed safe, reversible and medically necessary, lawyers for the Tavistock [medical clinic] maintained. Lawyers for [plaintiffs] Bell and Mrs A argued that trans teens should have to go before a court before being able to access the medication.

Since the ruling, the consensus that puberty-blockers are “safe, reversible, and medically necessary” has vanished like snow on the desert. The U.K.’s National Health Service, and also the BBC, has systematically removed links to the radical transgender-affirming charity Mermaids, which represents the view condemned by the High Court. The two entities have also edited out the suggestion that the extremely powerful drugs used to prevent puberty taking place can be reversed; as a matter of fact, the scant research done on the subject suggests the opposite. Even more significantly, they have removed emotive references to suicide. It is the link to suicide that is the basis for the claim that interventions with the aim of gender transitioning can be “medically necessary.”

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Schellhorn Prizewinner announced


The winner of the Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition 2020 has been announced. 

Young composer Dominic Veal wins £400 and a World Premiere performance of his work in London’s St Joseph’s Convent Chapel, Canning Town, on Christmas Eve by ensemble Cantus Magnus. 

Dominic, 25, is a former student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance whose composition teachers have included Errollyn Wallen CBE and John Ashton Thomas. His piece, Dormi, Jesu, will be performed by vocal ensemble Cantus Magnus, whose Patron is Sir James MacMillan CBE. 

Three other composers received Honourable Mention for their entries: Paige Halliwell (b. 1998) for Ecce Novum Gaudium, Tom Duggan (b. 1998) for Resonet in Laudibus, and John Sturt (b. 1995) for O beatus ortus ille

Classical pianist Matthew Schellhorn founded the prize in 2014 to foster artistic endeavor and encourage excellence in the Sacred Liturgy. Matthew said:

Founder and Chairman Matthew Schellhorn writes: “Dominic Veall is a very worthy winner whose work Dormi, Jesu impressed the distinguished panel of judges. I am delighted he follows in the footsteps of Marco Galvani, our first winner, to provide a truly memorable piece, which the congregation will enjoy on Christmas Eve, and which expands the repertoire of Sacred Music in the best possible tradition. This year’s award is particularly poignant as the Covid-19 situation has seen a hugely detrimental effect on the arts sector, and musicians have been amongst the most adversely impacted. I hope this prize has provided an incentive to be creative. I want to thank all the composers who entered, the judges for their contributions, the Latin Mass Society and its Chairman Dr Joseph Shaw for its support, and all those who donated to support the Prize itself.”

Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, Dr Joseph Shaw, said: “The Latin Mass Society is delighted to be associated with the prize, to encourage young composers to think about devotional Latin texts and the tradition of devotional and liturgical music. Mr Veall's piece and the earlier winning entry demonstrate that this inexhaustible tradition continues to find expression in new musical idioms, with something fresh to say.”

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Monday, December 14, 2020

The EF in Latin America: from the FIUV survey

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

Recently, the FoederatioInternationalis Una Voce (FIUV), of which I am Secretary, conducted a survey of its member associations and other contacts to supply information for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: to supplement the survey of bishops the Congregation had itself initiated. We received a large number of responses, including from almost every Spanish-speaking country.

The graph illustrates the availability of the EF in the dioceses for which we had responses, and the contrast between the USA and Canada, on the one hand, and Mexico and 16 countries in Central and South America on the other. In the former, nearly 60% have at least one centre where the EF is celebrted on a more than just Sunday and Holy Day basis, labelled for convenience as ‘Full’ provision. In Latin America, only 4 of the 97 dioceses for which we received reports is there a centre offering a ‘more than Sunday and Holyday’ provision, while in 51 of them no public celebrations are taking place at all.

There are many dioceses for which we had no reports, in Latin America, where there are almost certainly no EF Masses taking place; in Canada and the USA, on the other hand, we are more likely to have missed out on places where there are celebrations. This means the graph probably understates the contrast.

Of greater value than figures, I believe, are the personal testimonies of the people filling in the survey. I offer a selection here, anonymised to protect the individuals and groups concerned. I will let them speak for themselves, from a full range of experiences, both good and bad, in seeking the Church’s ancient liturgy.

These quotations are translations from the Spanish. The original Spanish can be seen in a Spanish-language version of this blogpost at the Adelante la fe blog here

If anyone would like to join the FIUV’s list of local contacts, please email me at

From Argentina

We were treated with contempt on the part of the bishop.

(another diocese)

We are segregated and labelled, by the clergy and laity with positions in the diocese, as execrable traditionalist recalcitrants, when we only wish to offer our Lord the honour he deserves…

The Ordinary is totally hostile. He has forbidden kneeling for Holy Communion. He has persecuted all who want to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

(another diocese)

Friday, December 11, 2020

Some worries about Macron's war on Islamism

Something nice to look at. Mass at St Augustine's,
Ramsgate, celebrated by Fr Christopher Basden,
during the 2019 St Catherine's Trust Summer School.
This photo is to adorn a new version of the LMS
information flyer soon to be printed.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has ordered a crackdown on Islamic extremism following the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, in the name of free speech. As the Free Speech absolutists at Spiked have pointed out, however, this turns out to include policing the views of 10-year-old schoolchildren, who expressed sympathy with Paty’s murderer. Given that Islamic extremism, however one wants to define it in detail, is a set of ideas, I suppose it's not so surprising if countering it, in defense of free speech or for any other reason, includes intervening in the exchange of ideas.

The French state also tries to combat these ideas less directly, not only by silencing those who disagree, but by obliging them to listen, or look at something. This was essentially what cost Paty his life. In accordance, it seems, with French educational policy, he had, as Spiked expresses it,

dared to show some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of Muhammad to his pupils during a lesson on why the liberties of thought and speech are so essential to the French Republic.

Bear in mind two important facts: that among other reforms, Macron is outlawing alternatives to France’s state schools (private schools and homeschooling), and that these cartoons are painfully obscene, with Our Lady, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Trinity, among their targets. I will not link to any from here… For myself, if I were obliged, on pain of imprisonment, to send my children to a state school, and if my children were then obliged to view blasphemous anti-Catholic images, then I would not, of course, behead the teacher in the street, but I certainly would not be happy about it.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Faldstool covers given to Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane


The other day we were able to conclude a long-term project: a gift from the Latin Mass Society to Corpus Christi Maiden Lane of a set of covers for the faldstool which the LMS gave the church in May 2019. Above is Fr Alan Robinson with one of the covers, on the faldstool, with Lucy Shaw, National Coordinator of the Guild of St Clare. A faldstool is a special chair used by bishops in the celebration of Mass.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Sticker wars in Oxford and Edinburgh

My latest on LifeSite.

After a pause due to everyone being confined to their homes due to the coronavirus, the war of the fly-posted stickers is hotting up. In Edinburgh, someone has posted stickers on street furniture saying, “Seahorses ARE horses. Hotdogs ARE dogs. There is no debate. #WarOnWomen.” Another says, “I © JK Rowling.” Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of children’s books, has been attacked for not supporting the trans agenda.

I have seen similar stickers in the streets of Oxford. What the reports tend not to say is that this is a conflict of two sides. Certainly in Oxford, stickers asserting the existence of women (“Woman: noun. Adult human female”) are a response to a long sticker and graffiti campaign by trans activists. Last October, I captured images in Oxford of stickers saying “Oxford [heart] our trans sisters” and spray-painted “Trans happiness is real.” Posting stickers is a form of vandalism and is illegal, as is graffiti, but although the perpetrator was boasting about it on Facebook, where full personal details could be viewed, the local police had better things to do than enforce the law in this case. When someone started posting stickers from an alternative point of view, the reaction was very different.

Seeing lamp posts, poles carrying street signs, parking-ticket machines, benches, post boxes and so on covered in stickers, some partially torn off by irritated humans or the effects of the weather, contributes to an impression of lawlessness and neglect. Along with litter from fast-food outlets blowing about the gutters and homeless people sitting in doorways, central Oxford, which is of course a World Heritage Site, can look pretty slummy. Perhaps the police really do have more pressing priorities, but it doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate the consequences of allowing one side in the most contentious cultural issue of the day to have the run of public spaces for their propaganda, in a city full of students. Yes, someone is going to go into competition.

Read the whole thing.

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