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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Saturday, November 28, 2020

David Starkey attacks the Real Presence

The 'commixtum': High Mass for the LMS Pilgrimage
to Our Lady of Guadaloupe at Bedford

Having been “cancelled” by various charities and academic institutions for racism, David Starkey has taken to a new, British, anti-woke magazine, The Critic, to snipe against the “trans” phenomenon, as the champion of common sense against the “experts”. How does he do this? By comparing gender ideology to Catholicism.

In case anyone of intellectual self-respect was inclined to feel sorry for Starkey, allow me to fisk this strange article for you. The idea, you see, is that when transsexuals tell us that they can change sex just by saying so, so the Church says that the bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ just by a priest saying some words. This is terribly neat because Starkey can then say that trans ideology is taking us “back to the Middle Ages”.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The new normal

Viewing Mass through the window at the back of SS Gregory & Augustine, in Oxford

Some people are excited about a post-Covid future, since the epidemic and government responses to it have had some good results, such as cleaner air, and have speeded up some processes they regard as positive, such as a move of economic activity online. For the World Economic Forum, which may perhaps be beginning to regret popularizing the phrase “the Great Reset” (too late now), a bright future beckons. All we need to do is “adapt”. Well, I don’t mind if some tedious and pointless meetings in the future take place online, and if that means that some people take fewer long-haul flights, that’s great. But I’m not sure they have really thought about the cost.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ecumenical martyrs: Letter in The Tablet

I'm sorry to say that The Tablet are back to their old trick of removing the key section from my letters. They can publish what they want, of course, but it's not an honest way of hosting a discussion. 

Here is my full letter, with the bits not published in bold. On the egregious Stephen College, see his Wikipedia entry.



John Mulholland (Letters 7th Nov) regrets the lack of a memorial to both Catholic and Protestant ‘martyrs’ in our cathedrals. Having lived with such a monument in Oxford’s University Church for some years now, I cannot agree.


As well as obvious candidates like Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley and a number of canonised Catholics, this large and expensive memorial lists Catholics who took up arms in the local version of the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549, who were executed by Cranmer’s regime, Archbishop Laud, executed by Protestant zealots, and Stephen College, a co-conspirator with Titus Oates, executed by the spiritual heirs of Laud.


I think College’s name alone renders this memorial deeply embarrassing, not to say insulting, but the alternating rounds of persecution it recalls raises deeper questions. Do we really want to say that the persecutors of the Prayer Book rebels, or of later Protestant non-conformists, or of High Churchmen, were sanctified simply by the fact that the wind changed direction and the law caught up with them?


It is surely a good principle that people should not be commemorated together who would not wish to be. Putting Thomas Cranmer alongside Edmund Campion may make us feel virtuous, but it is an historical falsehood. As Mgr Ronald Knox pointed out, ‘Each of them died in the belief that he was bearing witness to the truth; and if you accept both testimonies indiscriminately, then you are making nonsense of them both.’


Yours faithfully,


Joseph Shaw

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Gregorius Magnus, magazine of the FIUV: new edition available

Want a break from the US election?

You can read a good dal about the response of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) to the survey of the world's bishops on the Traditional Mass carried out by the CDF earlier this year in the newly published magazine of the FIUV: Gregorius Magnus 10.

Having recently returned from Rome, I can say from multiple sources that what the bishops have said about the EF in their dioceses is not all negative by any means, and no one seems to expect any bad outcomes from this survey. Nevertheless, the FIUV has also presented the CDF with a report, covering 364 dioceses from 52 countries, of the experiences of the traditional faithful, whether in enjoying the Traditional Mass or merely asking for it, to supplement the perspective of the world's bishops.

Gregorius Magnus also has much else of interest which I hope readers will appreciate, including extracts from traditional Catholic magazines from around the world, some published in English for the first time.

It is now available as a pdf here.

For the first time, and thanks to sponsorship by the Latin Mass Society, it is also available to read on ISSUU, which optimises the content for display on mobile devices. You can download the app, or look at it on the web.

Direct link to Gregorius Magnus 10 on ISSUU here.

Link to Gregorius Magnus on ISSUU with the last three editions here.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Coronavirus restrictions and Mass-going

A be-masked Supply of Ceremonies Omitted in the Private Baptism
in Oxford last weekend.

A lot of people are very upset about the obligation to wear masks, particularly in church. Certainly, there is something a bit weird and oppressive about being obliged, nor for any religious or symbolic reason—for example as a sign of mourning—to cover one’s face, and to see everyone around one doing the same. I can’t say I’m happy about my four-month old baby not being able to see me smiling at her during Mass.

Perhaps the public health arguments in favor of masks are justified, and perhaps they are not. I’m not qualified to take a view on that, but equally I’m not one to insist on the most stringent interpretation of the rules where there is room for maneuvre.

What I determined to do, however, is to make the most of what freedom there is to maintain my own sacramental life, and to help others to do the same. The Latin Mass Society is organizing and facilitating events to the maximum amount allowed. Most parishes and dioceses are doing the same. If the Government says something is allowed, after all, then it is allowed.

Friday, October 30, 2020

UK Government consults on regulating home-education

From an email

On 6 October 2020, the Children’s Commissioner told the Committee that the Department for Education (DfE) has committed to introduce a compulsory register of home-educated children. She also insisted that the DfE should introduce termly inspections of home-educating families.

This will inevitably result in state interference in what and how parents teach their children at home, in the same way that the RSE and LGBT agendas have been imposed on schools.

The Christian Institute have produced a very good short briefing on the matter setting out the key issues at stake and suggestions of best way to respond in the consultation:

The consultation itself is here (I understand the proposals only apply to England though anyone can respond):

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Big Tech turns Big Censor

My latest on LifeSite.

Some weird things have been happening online recently. If you search for certain words or phrases on Google, you are directed not to the website or news story about the thing you are searching for, but a series of sources attacking or debunking it. When you try to post about certain things on Twitter or Facebook, your followers see your words accompanied by a link to an article attacking what, according to some algorithm, you may be promoting, or else you can find yourself suspended or banned from the platform.

I’m not talking about searching for racist political parties, pornography, or how to make a bomb. This happened to the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, a statement by a group of scientists about government policy on the coronavirus. Even with the weight of the New York Post behind it, a major story about Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, disappeared from social media and Google results. Even tweets by President Donald Trump have been vanishing. Rather than expressing concern over this, or countering its effects, mainstream media outlets have in many cases been following the tech companies’ lead in burying particular stories.

Friday, October 02, 2020

The intolerance of the tolerant towards Judge Barret

My latest on LifeSite.

A member of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s staff made a revealing statement on Twitter the other day. Arguing that Amy Coney Barrett reportedly believes that the husband should be the head of the household, someone pointed out that this is also part of the traditional faith of Jews and Muslims.

Nikitha Rai (@RaiNotWheat), deputy director of data for the Biden campaign, replied:

True, I’d heavily prefer views like that not to be elevated to SCOTUS, but unfortunately our current culture is still relatively intolerant. It will be a while before these types of beliefs are so taboo that they’re disqualifiers.

She’s deleted her account, but the internet remembers.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sir James MacMillan becomes Patron of London-based choir Cantus Magnus


Cantus Magnus is a small polyphonic choir which sings exclusively for the Traditional Latin Mass, and is directed by the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, Matthew Schellhorn.

Matthew reports on the Cantus Magnus Facebook page:

'We are utterly thrilled that Sir James MacMillan CBE has agreed to become Patron of Cantus Magnus. Speaking of the appointment, Sir James wrote: "I was delighted when Matthew Schellhorn invited me to become Patron of Cantus Magnus. His endeavours seek to bring souls to God with the highest possible quality in performance of the best Catholic music. Matthew is a consummate musician in both the secular and sacred spheres and I have known and admired his work for many years. His hard work has never been more needed, and helps the Church and its music go from strength to strength."'

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Support Sacred Music in London and Offer Masses for Your Loved Ones


Cantus Magnus, a professional sacred music choir under Matthew Schellhorn, is announcing a scheme whereby anyone can ask for a Sung Requiem Mass to be celebrated for their loved ones, to be fitted in to or added to the regular EF Masses which are celebrated in London.

London is unique in the world for the number of Sung Traditional Masses which are celebrated regularly. As well as a Sung Mass on Sundays in St Bede's, Clapham Park, the normal, non-lockdown pattern, to which we are at last returning, is a Sung Mass every Monday in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, every Wednesday in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, and one Friday a month in St Mary Moorfields for the Juventutem group. A good number of these Masses are High Masses with deacon and subdeacon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

In Defence of Primary Educators: a protest against Sex Ed in Catholic schools

Below is a piece I've written for LifeSite on the campaign against Sex Education in Catholic schools. Our Coalition in Defence of Primary Educators now has a website, and with LifeSite we have created the following video.

Last week, on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, I knelt with two others in front of Westminster Cathedral, the magnificent Byzantine-style mother-church of the premier diocese of England and Wales, and the seat of Britain’s only Cardinal, Vincent Nichols. We prayed the Rosary together for our bishops. We had already written to them: we, and supporters or our three organisations, which have come together for this cause—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Catholic Man UK, and the Latin Mass Society, of which I am the Chairman—and we received formulaic responses from most of them, telling us that everything will be fine.

But it is already not fine, and we can all read for ourselves the legislation and official guidance which will before long be enforced on schools under our bishops’ authority, which will make things even less fine. For this legislation is imposing a program of “Personal, Health, and Sex Education” (PHSE) which demands that choosing not to kill the child in the womb is just one acceptable option among others, and that Christian marriage is just one life-style choice alongside same-sex unions, and every other possibility. We know from the lesson-plans, produced not only by the Government but by the Bishops’ own agency, the Catholic Education Service, that children in schools claiming to be Catholic and funded in part by Catholic offertory collections are already bullying, browbeating, and shaming children who dare to give voice to their instinctive regard for natural marriage. This approach will be rolled out and enforced with greater and greater rigor when the new legislation comes into force next year, after a delay caused by the Coronavirus.

Read the whole thing.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Schellhorn Prize for sacred music composition


See my posts about the previous winner, Marco Galvani, here. That was in 2015; the prize is being revived in light of the abject state of music performance after three months of Covid lockdown.

Contributions to the prize are welcomed: see here.


The Trustees of the Schellhorn Trust are pleased to announce the 2020 Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition competition.

Classical pianist Matthew Schellhorn founded the prize in 2014 in memory of his parents to foster artistic endeavour and encourage excellence in the Sacred Liturgy. The inaugural Prize was awarded in 2015 and was won by Marco Galvani.

The Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition competition is announced for 2020 and will be held in December with the winning entry performed on Christmas Eve.

The panel of judges for the 2020 Prize will include:

Mr Matthew Schellhorn (Chairman)
Diana Burrell (composer)
Marco Galvani (composer; Yehudi Menuhiin School)
Dr Peter Kwasniewski (composer)
Professor Nicola Lefanu (composer)
Mr Andrew Morris (Pastmaster, Worshipful Company of Musicians)
Mr Tim Watts (composer; Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge & Sub-Director of Studies in Music and Teaching Associate, St John’s College, Cambridge)

Founder and Chairman Matthew Schellhorn writes: “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 will provide an incentive to be creative and to build up a working relationship with other professional musicians as we support each other.”

The Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition is supported by The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Westminster Cathedral Choir is in peril

Westminster Cathedral: the LMS Annual Requiem

The saga of Westminster Cathedral Choir School claimed a fresh victim last week with the resignation of another senior employee, the Music Administrator Madeleine Smith. Like the Director of Music, Martin Baker, she was unhappy about the sidelining of the choir at Englands premier Catholic Cathedral. Baker resigned late last year, and was absent from Christmas services. There was no official explanation, and he has not been replaced. What is going on?

Westminster Cathedral Choir is served by men and boys, in the ancient Catholic tradition. The boys attend a school set up specially for them by Cardinal Vaughan, the founder of the Cathedral, in 1902. He wanted to have something in his new Cathedral equivalent to the great choirs of the Anglican Cathedrals, which commonly have their own schools—boarding schools—so the boys can be recruited from a wide area and are available to sing on Sundays. Vaughans vision was realized, and Westminster Cathedral Choir is famous. It is, or was until recently, at least as good as the best Anglican Cathedral choirs, such as those of Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s, and in the context of the global melt-down of Catholic sacred music since the 1960s, it was regarded as the best Catholic Cathedral choir in the world. Westminster Cathedral was the only Catholic Cathedral in the world to have a Sung Mass every single day: again, until recently.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Support this Angelico Press project: the Vulnerary of Christ

Kickstarter Project page
The Vulnerary of Christ 
Kickstarter campaign to translate and publish a book
about the five wounds of Christ and their mysteries
Kickstarter Page
Back this Project


A book about the history of emblematic depictions of the Five Wounds that Jesus Christ suffered at the Crucifixion: their symbolism and representation in religious art, liturgical objects, heraldry, even household items. Evidence is provided of extensive devotion to the Heart of Christ centuries prior to official recognition of devotion to the Sacred Heart by the Catholic Church in 1765. Fascinating evidence also connects these themes to the legend of the Holy Grail.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

What are the defenders of 'Cuties' really saying?

My latest on LifeSite. A highlight:

I’m not going to review Cuties because I’ve not watched it, and I have no intention of doing so. What I can comment on is the reaction to it, particularly those of people defending it. One might expect defenders of the series to claim that it does not endorse what it depicts — sexualized dancing by underage girls — and they do say this, up to a point. But actually, they do want to endorse it. Here is the New York Times reviewer, Richard Brody:

The subject of “Cuties” isn’t twerking; it’s children, especially poor and nonwhite children, who are deprived of the resources — the education, the emotional support, the open family discussion — to put sexualized media and pop culture into perspective.

What does this story tell us, exactly? Brody patiently explains that in the oppressive, patriarchal society these girls are supposedly part of, despite their complete lack of supervision or effective moral formation, their adoption of sexualized dancing is a way of rebelling and establishing their own identities. So it’s actually good. But it’s also bad, because they are doing it only because they lack resources and education, and are oppressed.

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Friday, September 11, 2020

More about Downside

My latest on LifeSite.

In 1993, a Benedictine monastery, Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland closed the school that had been its major work since its foundation in 1880, though latterly plagued by allegations of child abuse. In 1998, citing the high cost of maintaining the monastic buildings, the community itself was dissolved, its members dispersing to other monastic communities.

A similar process is now taking place with another Benedictine community, Downside Abbey in England. In 2019, the community was legally separated from the school which had existed alongside the monastic community since 1617, at that time an English Catholic institution in exile on the Continent. School and monastery have shared the current site in southwest England since 1814. But now it has been announced that the monks will be leaving: exactly when and to where has yet to be determined. The monastic buildings were designed for fifty monks, and the community is down to eight, with little prospect of new members. It is expensive to maintain, and co-existing on the same site as a school they no longer run is awkward. It is time, apparently, to move on.

The problems these institutions have had with vocations and with their schools are distinct, though entangled. Britain’s fee-paying boarding schools have had a difficult time in recent years, but many continue to flourish. It seems that they will do so without such a strong contingent of Catholic monastic schools among them as in the past. The more fundamental problem for these and many other communities has been the lack of vocations.

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Downside: Open Letter from Fr Christopher Basden

The news that the monks of Downside Abbey in Somerset are to abandon their home of more than two centuries, including the fabulous Abbey Church which is one of only four Minor Basilicas in England, came as a shock to English Catholics. It is difficult to imagine them surviving as a separate community, and we know that many other religious communities are not far behind the monks of Downside in terms of declining numbers. Which will be the next to go?

Fr Christopher Basden, long-time Parish Priest of St Bede's Clapham Park, and now Parish Priest in Ramsgate and Minster in Kent, has written the following letter appealing to the community to think again. St Bede's has been a model of the integration of the Traditional Mass into a territorial parish, and demonstrates the way this can contribute to securing the future of a church. Decline is not inevitable: some monastic communities are growing today: those who have reconnected themselves with the roots of tradition. 

Reproduced with permission.


On behalf of untold people throughout the world I write to appeal against the monks of Downside surrendering to the current zeitgeist and leaving their monastery. Downside is part of the fabric of English Catholic history. The restoration of the Catholic Church and of monasticism is one of the great victories of Grace after the horrendous rape and interruption by Henry VIII in the 16th Century. We appeal against this decision in the face of a more insidious enemy: that of secularism, relativism and modernism which destroys the Church from within.

Surrendering does not solve the problem. We have faced enemies before and a flight or dispersal to another location(s) is simply the recipe for swift extinction as we have seen previously (Fort Augustus and countless female communities). Have we no faith in the grace of God and the irresistible attraction to the consecrated life and the eternal truth of the Catholic Church? 

More about Obedience

My latest on LifeSite.

Readers may be surprised, or scandalized, that Catholics like myself critical of bishops who appear to be pushing the practice of Communion in the hand during the COVID-19 epidemic are minimizing the importance of the virtue of obedience. So having criticized one view of what obedience is about, I’d like to say something positive about obedience.

Obedience is indeed a wonderful virtue. We should not see it as a passive or effeminate virtue, but as a primary virtue of the soldier. Christians are, after all, soldiers of Christ, and it is the constant theme of traditional Catholic spirituality that we should overcome our self-will in order to conform ourselves to the will of God. This, after all, is what the love of God is: “If you love Me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Furthermore, our religious superiors exercise over us God’s authority, and for most of us our opportunity to obey God in specific matters comes in the form of obeying God in our superiors.

The difficulty modern Catholics have had with obedience is partly the result of spiritual writers of recent centuries taking it too much for granted that they are not talking about obeying our superiors in matters of sin, or about “rash” obedience when what we are commanded might be sin; nor about matters that go beyond our superiors’ competence, or about commands that fail to promote the common good. 

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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Obedience and Holy Communion

Holy Communion in happier times. LMS Holywell Pilgrimage 2014.
My latest on LifeSite.

J.D. Flynn, editor at Catholic News Service, has told his Twitter followers:

Every time I go to Mass it is hard for me to receive in the hand.

Every time I go to Mass, I have to say consciously, “He is the bishop, and you’re not, Flynn.”

That’s been an incredible source of grace. Obedience has been more fruitful for me than any devotion could be.

Mr. Flynn’s argument here is that his reception of Holy Communion in the hand is an exercise of the virtue of obedience, and therefore a source of graces. This is problematic for a number of reasons.

Most obviously, no bishop’s guidelines say that Catholics are obliged to receive at all. Catholics are, in normal times, obliged to receive Holy Communion once a year. Frequent reception of Holy Communion is recommended by the Church for Catholics in a state of grace, but here and now other factors are in play. Some Catholics in this situation have chosen not to receive at all for this period of time. Others have found priests, perhaps on the other side of diocesan boundaries, willing to distribute on the tongue, which of course is perfectly legal.

Read the whole thing.

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