Friday, September 17, 2021

Iota Unum talks in London are back: Jamie Bogle on 24th Sept

Fr Edward van den Bergh giving the last Iota Unum talk of 2019

After a long break necessitated by the epidemic, we are returning to our face-to-face talks in London.
The Latin Mass Society's 'Iota Unam' talks take place on Friday evenings in Our Lady of the Assumption Warwick Street (please enter by the back entrance into the basement: 24 Golden Square, W1F 9JR): click for a map.

6:30pm for 7pm. Refreshments provided. £5 on the door.

Confirmed talks:

Sept 24, James Bogle: Bl Charles of Austria

Oct 22, Joseph Shaw: Headship and Hierarchy in the Family

Nov 19, Dominic O’Sullivan: Spanish Integralism

Dec 10, Sebastian Morello: de Maistre on Liturgy and Politics

Jan 29: Tom Pink: 'The Papal Monarchy: the exercise of power in the Church, its theological and legal basis, and its limits'

During lockdown we have been doing podcasts: have a listen!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Why priests should learn Latin

Bilingual Vesting Prayers in the Sacristy of Westminster Cathedral

My latest on Catholic Answers. The LMS is putting its money where its mouth is: clergy and seminarians in or from England and Wales can get an 80% discount on the fee of an online Latin course.


There is an amusing video on YouTube showing an American Latinist engaging priests in the Vatican in spoken Latin. He remarks that he spoke to a dozen priests, but only three were brave enough to go on camera with him and use Latin in actual dialogue.

Spoken Latin might sound like the preserve of hobbyists, like spoken Elvish or Klingon, but being able to speak a language is the ultimate test of fluency, and for the Church, Latin isn’t just any other language. As well as being the sacred language of the liturgy, it is an indispensable key to the Church’s theology, history, law, philosophy, and poetry. As Pope Benedict XVI described it, it is the language the Church considers as her own.

It is for this reason that Latin has always formed an essential part of the education of the clergy. The Second Vatican Council’s decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, says seminarians “are to acquire a knowledge of Latin which will enable them to understand and make use of the sources of so many sciences and of the documents of the Church” (13). This means a serious grasp of the language: being able to sit down and read St. Augustine, for example—not as a homework exercise, but because you want to know what he says about something.

Read the whole thing there.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Introductory video from the Guild of St Clare

Produced by the great Peter Jones of One of Nine fame. More 'how to' videos are to follow.

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Statement of the Religious Superiors (and Taylor Marshall)

Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.

The Superiors General of the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and a number of other Superiors General of priestly institutes and religious communities attached to the Traditional Mass (including three communities of women), have issued a joint letter in response to Traditionis Custodes. Here it is, on the FSSP website. It is addressed to the Bishops of France, not, as some have assumed, to the Holy See.

As befits such a document, it is carefully worded. In principle, Traditionis Custodes creates an impossible situation for the signatories. They are founded on the charism of the Traditional liturgy, and the Letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes tells us that it is the intention of the document that in the longer term this liturgy should entirely disappear. Furthermore, the justification for this given in the Letter is that the clergy and faithful (who are not distinguished) are detached in some sense from the unity of the Church.

The argument which needs to be made to the Bishops of France at this point is thus a delicate one. Negatively, it should be obvious that to strike a defiant attitude, to threaten disobedience to Traditionis Custodes or the Bishops, or to suggest that they might go over to the Society of Pius X, would serve to confirm the purported justification of Traditionis Custodes. It would be directly counter-productive. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Monday Masses at Maiden Lane: professionally-led singing returns


The Latin Mass Society has a very long association with the historic London church of Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, located in Covent Garden, and we organise a Traditional Sung Mass there every Monday at 6:30pm. This practice was disrupted by the epidemic, but maintained as far as possible with two singers and no servers.


We are now back, and last night we had the first Mass with the newly formed Southwell Consort. This is led by Dominic Bevan and consists mainly of men and women with musical training who have chosen not to pursue music as a career. It is an opportunity for them to sing some lovely sacred music in the liturgical setting for which it was composed. Last evening they had a whopping 17 singers. They sang Missa O Quam Gloriosum, Victoria; Ave Maria a 8, Victoria; Panis Angelicus, Rebelo, and I must say (hearing this from the sanctuary where I was serving) it was extremely impressive.

Friday, September 03, 2021

LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: more photos

TLM pics-84

These are by the photographer and videographer Peter Jones, who runs the One Of Nine YouTube channel.

TLM pics-79

Thursday, September 02, 2021

LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham, Part 2


The little girl in red managed the entire walk, 56 miles over three days.


Our fantastic non-walking volunteers, on Saturday evening in Great Massingham.


Some of the tents at Great Massingham.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham: Photos, Part 1


In thanksgiving for the easing of the Covid regulations, allowing us to have this event, I decided to do two new things, personally. One was to do a pre-pilgrimage, walking from Cambridge to Ely: extending the pilgrimage backwards. The other was to do the walk in a kilt. So there I am, above, looking a bit the worse for wear outside the Catholic Shrine on the final day: photo courtesy of Peter Jones. (The rest in this post are mine.)


It was by far the biggest walking pilgrimage we have done. There were about 120 people walking and 12 non-walking volunteers: cooks and drivers. For the first time, we had four chapters, which walk, sing, and pray, as a group, with gaps between chapters to let cars overtake more easily on roads: the same system as is used on the Chartres pilgrimage.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Contradictions among those defending Traditionis Custodes

Final blessing at the High Mass in Westminster Cathedral;
Mass for the Latin Mass Society's AGM

My latest on 1Peter5: on some conflict among those who defend Traditionis Custodes.

It begins:


Pope Francis has offered two reasons for wishing to bring celebrations of the Traditional Mass to an end: attitudes of some of the faithful which have become associated with this form of the Mass, and the idea that the unity of the Church requires a unity of liturgical rite. Accordingly, some of his defenders have focused on one of these points, and some on the other. Both are having difficulty explaining and justifying Pope Francis’ action.

Targeting the Innocent to Punish the Guilty?

I recently fisked an article by Michael Sean Winters which laid the blame for Traditionis Custodes (TC) on the people who like it, singling out the journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty. There is much wrong with Winters’ argument, but suppose he was right about Dougherty being a dangerous schismatic, what would be the significance of this? To be crass about it, who cares what some journalist thinks? If he were the head of an organization, clerical or lay, with serious popular support, which was closely associated with the TLM, that might indicate a wider problem, but as it is, it proves nothing at all.

As if realizing that he needed to widen his evidence base, towards the end of his article Winters brings in Martin Mosebach, accusing him of rejecting Vatican II without being able to quote him doing so, and the views of George Weigel, apparently unaware that Weigel has a long and distinguished history of gratuitouslyinsulting Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass. As a representative of the movement, he doesn’t really fit the bill. Nevertheless, that’s the best Winters can come up with.

Another problem with this approach is identified by Terrence Sweeney on the Where Peter Is blog, and in fact is acknowledged even by Winters himself: in Sweeny’s words, “Even if many are acting schismatically, this does not justify a restriction that affects those who attend the Tridentine rite but remain faithful.”

Read it all there.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Is Traditionis Custodes calling for more Latin?

High Mass in Westminster Cathedral for the Latin Mass Society.
Photo by John Aron

 Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

A number of American writers claim that Traditionis Custodes should spur priests to make their celebration of Mass more reflective of the liturgical tradition. Others commentators, including a number of bishops implementing it, apparently think the opposite.

Those in favor of the first interpretation can cite a couple of passages from the Letter to Bishops which accompanied Traditionis Custodes. Pope Francis quotes Pope Benedict complaining about liturgical abuses—“unbearable distortions”; later he remarks:

Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements.

The Roman Canon being Eucharistic Prayer I in the reformed Missal.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Latin: not as dead as you think, on Catholic Answers

Fr Henry Whisenant insensese the Altar in Westminster Cathedral:
Annual Mass for the Latin Mass Society

I am delighted to have been asked to write a short article for Catholic Answers, a website which has been addressing questions about the Catholic Faith since its foundation by Karl Keating in 1979. It is about the use of Latin in the liturgy, and it begins:

From an early date, the Church in the West has used Latin—not only for administration, study, and communication, but for prayer. This was natural for regions where Latin was the majority language, but as the centuries passed, the Western Church persisted with a Latin liturgy in evangelizing peoples on and beyond the edges of the Roman Empire not conversant with it, such as the North African speakers of Punic and the speakers of Celtic and Germanic languages in western and central Europe. By contrast, the Eastern Churches sometimes made use of the languages of their new converts, even when these had to be specially developed in their written forms for this to be possible, as with Ethiopia’s Ge’ez and Russia’s Church Slavonic.

There is thus a close association between the Western Church and the Latin language. Even today, when the liturgy can be celebrated in a huge range of languages, this relationship has left its mark, and Latin remains an option for both public and private prayer—not only in celebrations of the pre-Vatican II liturgy, but also for the reformed Mass.

Why has the Church been so attached to Latin? The answer is that liturgical Latin is not just a convenient language, but a sacred language. 

Read the whole thing there.

Improve your Latin with an online course! Liturgical Latin is the target of Matthew Spencer's latest course, and the Latin Mass Society is giving an 80% discount to clergy and seminarians who wish to take it up.

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Friday, August 20, 2021

The LMS' London chant schola, the Houghton Schola, will return to singing in September

Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, London

Cross-posted from the Gregorian Chant Network blog.

It has been a long winter for Gregorian Chant, but we can finally announce that the Houghton Schola, the Latin Mass Society's all-male training schola for London, will resume rehearsing and singing in September.

They will be singing at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, two Monday evening Masses a week, and as a rule they will have one rehearsal a month to prepare both Masses, in the office of the LMS itself, which is in Macklin Street, Holborn.

To register your interest in singing, please email 

The Director, Dominic Bevan, is also leading a new, mixed, polyphonic consort, the Southwell Consort, which you can also enquire about through this address.

The Houghton Schola trains chant singers who may or may not have previous experience. The Southwell Consort provides an opportunity to sing in a liturgical setting for people with musical training but who have not become professional musicians. 

The first rehearsal of the Houghton Schola will be on Friday 10th September.

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Iota Unum Podcast on the former Communist bloc

Today we release a discussion about the Church and the Traditional Mass in the former Communist countries of central and eastern Europe, with contributions from Russia, Poland, and Romania.

See it here on Podbean; you can find it on other platforms as well if you search for the Latin Mass Society.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Michael Sean Winters attacks Michael Brendan Dougherty

Fr Henry Whisenant at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday; photo by John Aron

(I've put this on Rorate Caeli too now.)

Michael Sean Winters has written an attack, mainly on an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty (MBD), and it is interest to contrast MBD's sometimes artless sincerity and distress over Traditionis Custodes with Winters' manipulation of the facts and instrumentalisation of Pope Francis. For Winters Traditionis Custodes is not about the liturgy at all: it is an instrument of political power. This is what theology and spirituality has come down to for Winters and his little gang.

Winters' words in black, my comments in red.


In the weeks following Pope Francis' Traditionis Custodes, the motu proprio rendering his decision to revoke the permissions to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass contained in the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, there has been a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who champion the old rite. Many of them have proven why Pope Francis was right to do what he did: The traditional Latin Mass had become an incubator for division. Schism is in the air along with the incense.

Top of the list is Michael Brendan Dougherty, of National Review, for an op-ed in the New York Times. Dougherty gets a lot wrong for someone who claims to be a journalist. He suggests that Gregorian chant only flourished after Summorum, but I worshiped at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington since 1985 and we had Gregorian chant at every 10 a.m. Mass. They also have it at St. Paul's Cambridge outside Boston. And St. Clement's in Chicago. And in lots of churches.

Great, so there were a handful of churches where they had a bit of chant in the Novus Ordo. I could name three in London, too. But what about the tens of thousands where there was no chant? The fact is a young Catholic from a Novus Ordo parish almost certainly has no idea what chant is, and it is overwhelmingly likely that if he ever encounters it in Mass, it will be with the TLM.

This is not some freak accident. Paul VI actually said 'We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant' (General Audience, 1969). And it came to pass.

The only expression of the Roman Rite?

A Low Mass celebrated after the 2019
LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham,
in the Medieval Slipper Chapel.

I have become a contributing Editor of the blog founded by Steve Skojec, 1Peter5, and my first article for them has just published. It begins:


The practical fall-out from Traditionis Custodes will be making itself felt for some time to come. In some places it has already been devastating; in others, it appears it will be minimal. The theological fall-out, however, threatens a profound problem on a different plane. This arises from the claim made in Article 1 of the document, and repeated in the accompanying Letter to Bishops, that “the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.”

The official English translation which I have quoted is actually a poor rendering of the Italian expression, “l’unica espressione”, which means the only expression. The document is claiming that the only Missal which expresses the Roman Rite’s lex orandi, its “law of prayer,” is the reformed Missal.

The Church’s law of prayer, her lex orandi, must correspond to, and indeed determine, her law of belief (lex credendi): that was the claim of Prosper of Aquitaine when he coined the phrase in the 5th century. Prosper was making the point that if you want to know what people believe, then look at how they express themselves in prayer. If they genuflect at the reference to the Incarnation in the Creed, of if they kneel to receive Holy Communion, this tells you something: Arians will refuse to do the first, and Lutherans the second. A Missal is a “law of prayer” in the sense that it sets out a way for people to pray, and we would expect Catholic Missals to give a theologically correct law of prayer and Arian and Lutheran ones to give theologically erroneous ones. What, then, can it mean to say that the Roman Rite has only one law of prayer, and that this is the one expressed in a particular Missal, and not in another, in a document which allows both to be used in the Church?

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Last Call for the LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham: deadline, 23rd August


The deadline is Tuesday 23rd August. Register here.

There are discounts for your people and clergy and religious are free.

This is going to be a year to remember! Don't miss out.


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Saturday, August 14, 2021

LMS AGM and High Mass in Westminster Cathedral: photos


Today, Saturday 14th August, the Latin Mass Society held its Annual General Meeting. Among other things I gave talk which can be heard on Soundcloud here (37 minutes): Traditiones Custodes: What difference does it make?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Are Canonisations Infallible? A new book of discussions

I am a contributor to an important new book collecting essays on this topic: are Canonisations infallible?

Get it on Amazon: UK here; USA here.

I have mentioned the issue a couple of times on this blog: I am inclined to doubt it, for the simple reason that the kind of affirmation a canonisation implies, on the holiness and eternal fate of a particular historical personage, is not part of the deposit of Faith, and is not included among the things covered by the doctrine of infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.

Canonisations have always involved historical research: reviewing the written works of the individual, interviewing witnesses, and so on. Such research can give us a strong reason for believing a conclusion about an historical fact, perhaps even one which goes beyond reasonable doubt, but such scholarly certainty is quite different from our attitude towards objects of Faith.

These very simple and I would have thought obvious points are resisted fiercely by some. This book sets out arguments on both sides of this important question.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Latin for Clergy: 80% discount from the Latin Mass Society


To respond to Pope Francis’ challenge that those celebrating the ancient Latin liturgy should ‘possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts’ (Traditionis Custodes 3.4), the Latin Mass Society is pleased to announce a special online course designed to assist the clergy to improve their Latin for liturgical use.

This will be led by Matthew Spencer, who has been working with the Latin Mass Society to provide online Latin teaching for more than a year.

We are offering an 80% discount to the usual price for Catholic priests, seminarians, those accepted for seminary admission, permanent deacons, those studying for the permanent diaconate, and novices and professed religious of both sexes who come from or are based in England and Wales.

With this we have arranged independent certification from Dr Justin Stover, Senior Lecturer in Medieval Latin at Edinburgh University.

Dates: Module 1, 6 Sep - 1st Oct; Module2, 11 Oct - 5 Nov; Module 3, 15 Nov - 10 Dec

To apply email Matthew Spencer: 

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Friday, August 06, 2021

'After Traditionis Custodes': Podcast

Dominican Rite Mass in Holy Trinity, Hethe, 2019
Today we launch a new season of our Iota Unum podcasts, to publish weekly.

In the opening episode I give an hour-long talk on the implications of Traditionis Custodes.

In this presentation I address the question of whether the Traditional Mass has value, according to the Post-Conciliar Popes, whether it makes sense to think of it existing alongside the Novus Ordo, and how to understand the rejection of this possibility in Traditionis Custodes. And finally, where we go from here.

It can be found on various platforms, here it is on Spotify, on Podbean, and on the LMS website.

I have put down a long list of links to documents I refer to in this podcase in the shownotes, here.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

German Professor criticises Traditionis Custodes

My latest on LifeSite.

Professor Helmut Hoping, Professor of Dogmatics and Liturgical Studies at the University of Freiburg, has written a strongly critical article on Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes, in the respected German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on July 28. The article, in German, is unfortunately paywalled, but I have seen a translation.

Pope Francis claims in Traditionis Custodes that the reformed, post Vatican II Missal is the “only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Missal” (not, as the official English translation had it, merely the “unique” expression). Hoping points out that in 2015 Pope Francis promulgated the Missal of the Anglican Ordinariates, Divine Worship, which describes itself as a “legitimate adaptation” of the Roman Rite, and that only last year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a decree on the Extraordinary Form, Quo Magis, which described it as a the “other form of the Roman Rite”. Somehow, between February 2020 and July 2021, the Holy See has radically transformed its understanding of what constitutes the “Roman Rite.”

Another oddity Professor Hoping points out in Traditionis Custodes is Pope Francis giving bishops the “exclusive” right to manage the celebration of the older Mass, he then commands them to “follow all the instructions of the Apostolic See,” setting out various limitations on what they may permit.

Hoping continues:

But it may not be quite so easy to put an end to the old Mass. It is appreciated by many because it protects [worshippers] against the personal creativity with which many priests today assemble the Mass, disregarding the norms of the Missal of Paul VI and the right of the faithful to a liturgy celebrated in accordance with the applicable Roman Rite. With its evolved ritual structure, the old Mass resists attempts to de-sacralize it. This makes it attractive to believers with a sense of the holiness, beauty and objectivity of Christian worship, including, increasingly, young people. Not that the renewed liturgy could not be celebrated worthily and according to the rubrics. However, it is often difficult to perceive, in parish Masses, their character as a sacred act (actio sacra). It was the promotion of this idea which was the object of the liturgical reform, which found its first expression in the Missal of Paul VI (1970).”

Read the whole thing there.

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Monday, August 02, 2021

Ruff and Shaw on Traditionis Custodes and the Reform

Simultaneously with this post I publishing on Rorate Caeli a post consisting of nine questions, and the answers to these by Fr Anthony Ruff of the Pray Tell blog, and by me. It is also being published on the Pray Tell blog.

This was not a dialogue, but simply juxtaposes our answers to the same questions. I am grateful to Fr Ruff for the opportunity to take part in this exercise. Fr Ruff's answers, which are from a very different place from my own, are characterised by respect and charity, and give a coherent account of the reasoning of at least some of those who welcome Traditionis Custodes. This makes them interesting and useful to those who want to try to understand this position; I hope my answers will be useful to the readers of Pray Tell.

Here are some quotations from Fr Ruff which are worth pondering.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A reply to JD Flynn's attack on Cardinal Burke

Cardinal Raymond Burke in London, celebrating Mass for the
Latin Mass Society in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane 2019 (photograph by John Aron).

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

In the Pillar, JD Flynn criticises ‘the siren voices calling for disobedience, or casting into doubt the authority of the Vicar of Christ’. He has earlier quoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and Bishop Robertus Mutsaerts, but he leaves it to his readers to connect what he quotes them as saying with ‘calls for disobedience’ and ‘casting into doubt the authority of the Vicar of Christ’. This seems on the face of it a serious injustice, and a failure to give these individuals the respect due to their office and indeed to every Catholic, who has a right to his good name: see Canon 220.

For readers such as myself to be expected to examine the quoted remarks and look for possible support of these serious allegations is ridiculous and an invitation to uncharity. Flynn does not even give us a clue which of the three is implicated in these two alleged offences. Indeed, it might even be that Flynn would, if challenged, refer us instead to the unnamed others he vaguely refers to in the course of the article. However, the insinuation remains, it is serious, and it should be withdrawn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Latin Mass: no hysteria. A reply to David Gibson

Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.

Update: since writing this Crisis Magazine has published a useful study on the recent growth of the Tradition Mass in the Unites States.

On a the website of Sapientia, which claims to be 'exploring Faith, Culture, and Society', a film-maker (yes) called David Gibson has written to debunk what he calls the 'hysteria' about Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes.

Here is a brief response to his main points, which he lists as three 'misconceptions': 

First, the pope has not prohibited priests from saying Mass in Latin

Unlike under the other points, Gibson is unable to illustrate this with any quotations or links to people saying what he alleges supporters of the Traditional Mass are saying. Perhaps someone should point out to him that these Catholics are actually acutely aware of the difference between 'banning the Traditional Mass' and 'banning the Latin Novus Ordo': rather more sensitive than he is, in fact.

His debunking of what no-one is saying is backed up by an unintentionally amusing quotation:

“If you like the Latin Mass, you can keep the Latin Mass, because the Missal of Paul VI is the Latin Mass,” Adam Rasmussen, an adjunct professor of theology, wrote at the blog Where Peter Is

Monday, July 26, 2021

Traditionis Custodes: a disaster for interreligious dialogue and ecumenism

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

A key passage:

If [Fr Thomas] Reese [on NCR] is concerned about ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, then he is faced with a different kind of problem. Traditionis Custodes has set the Church’s relations with other religions back fifty years, and it is difficult to see how they will recover.

On interreligious dialogue, defined as discussions aimed at greater mutual understanding between the Church and non-Christian religions, the Apostolic Letter and the polemic being produced by Fr. Reese and others in its support is saying that a genuine engagement of the religious instinct is impossible through worship in a sacred language, using chant, complex ceremonies, elaborate vestments, and so on. That, as they say, is a point of view. But it is a point of view incompatible with taking seriously the search for God represented by Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jain religion, Shamanic religions, and indeed practically any non-Christian religion you could mention. Sacred languages are found in all the major non-Christian religions — Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Classical Arabic most obviously — and sacred music, ritual, and clothing, in practically all of them.

How are Catholic interreligious dialoguers going to face their non-Christian friends the next time they meet? “It okay”, they might say. “It is only our own traditions which we fear and loath: We think yours are wonderful!” How credible is this going to be?

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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Keep calm and carry on: Server Training and Vestment Mending with the Latin Mass Society yesterday

The best way to respond to Traditionis Custodes is to carry on with the work of restoring Tradition. And that is exactly what the Latin Mass Society is doing.


We have good numbers for both our two practical events in St Mary Moorfields yesterday, the first since Covid: for the sewing it was a record, though it is a small scale event. Several new people came to the Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day and a great deal of sewing was done, bring many projects closer to completion and starting several new ones, to bring old vestments back into use for the Traditional Mass, repaired with skill, care, and love.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

LMS: Confirmations in London


The day after the publication of Traditionis Custodes, the Latin Mass Society-organised Confirmation service took place in St James', Spanish Place, in the Archdiocese of Westminster. For many years now--since before Summorum Pontificum, in fact--they have been providing an auxiliary bishop to give the Sacrament of Confirmation to people all over the country, and beyond. The Latin Mass Society advertises it, does the paper-work, and pays the (excellent) parish choir, so that Catholics attached to the older liturgy can receive this sacrament in that form in union with the bishops.


Thanks to Covid, the service, which usually takes place in November, did not happen in 2020, so this was a 'catch-up' one, and was smaller than usual. (This made the remaining Covid measures a lot easier to apply.) If there is demand, we'll try to organise another at the usual time of year as well.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Traditiones Custodes: unity vs. uniformity

My last on LifeSiteNews.

In his Letter to Bishops accompanying his Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes, among many things worthy of comment Pope Francis says that Pope Paul VI:

“declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, ‘a single and identical prayer,’ that expressed her unity. This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite.”

This is a puzzling statement. First, “the Church of the Roman Rite” has many other liturgical books besides the standard edition of the Roman Rite. Second, the standard Roman Missal contains an enormous number of options, and hardly seems to be aiming at uniformity of prayer in the sense which seems to be intended in Pope Francis’ new letter. Third, the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent Papal Magisterium teach that liturgical uniformity is not necessary to the unity of the Church, but rather that the latter is best expressed in liturgical diversity.

Read it all there.

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Canonical guidance on Traditionis Custodes from the Latin Mass Society

The 1962 Mass in the Chapel of the Throne, in St Peter's Basilica, Rome, celebrated by
Bishop Rey of Frejus, France, for the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage 2019.

With thanks to Edward Pentin for breaking the story on the National Catholic Register, with some helpful commentary, the Latin Mass Society is pleased to present the fruits of our consultations with a number of Canon lawyers, in a short document available on our website.

We have circulated this a little privately but we believe that it would be valuable to present it to the widest possible audience. It is clear to us that many bishops, priests, and lay Catholics, are finding it difficult to see exactly what the force of the Apostolic Letter might be.

It is our hope that the arguments contained in this Guidance will commend themselves to careful readers from across the spectrum of opinion, and contribute to a calm and reasoned discussion. 

Key points from the Guidance:

Fr Thomas Reese on Traditionis Custodes: fisked

(Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli)

Fr Reese's column is here. My comments in red.

Despite the recent decision of Pope Francis to curtail celebration of the Latin Mass, we are not going to see it disappear anytime soon for a simple reason: Local bishops can and will still permit it.

This is true

Francis' new rules on the old liturgy were laid out in Traditionis Custodes on July 16.

Unlike his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Francis is no fan of the pre-Vatican II liturgy. Like Pope Paul VI and most people in the church, Francis welcomed the liturgical reforms enacted by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and believed the old liturgy would gradually fade away as Catholics who were raised with it died off.

Would ‘most people in the Church’ include the 50% or so who stopped going to church? Statistics of church attendance are unreliable but here’s something easy to count: marriage.

Catholic marriages as a percentage of all marriages in England and Wales (1913-2010)


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Traditionis Custodes and Families

My latest in the magazine of Voice of the Family, Calx Maria.

The practical effects of Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Letter will no doubt vary from place to place, but one thing is clear: at the highest level, the pastoral solicitude of Pope John Paul II and above all of Pope Benedict XVI, towards Catholics attached to the ancient liturgical tradition, has been replaced at the highest level of the Church by an attitude of suspicion, and even of hostility.

I started attending the Traditional Mass in 2002, and so I had a taste of life before Pope Benedict. Ordinary Catholics, even quite conservative ones, would literally recoil in horror when they heard that I was attending the ancient Mass, regardless of the fact that it had the approval of the local bishop and was celebrated by a priest in good standing in the Church. Ferocious attacks on us appeared in mainstream and, again, conservative Catholic publications. This continued for some time even after 2007, but as time has worn on it has become less and less of a problem.

Read it all there.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Marian Franciscan Vocations retreat, August

This is a "Marian Franciscan" Vocation Discernment Retreat to be held on the weekend of the Solemnity of St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven body and soul. 

This will be held in the Marian Home of Walsingham from 13th to 15th August at the Little Way Association. For those interested, and discerning a Franciscan Vocation, please either email or contact the Friars according to the details on the attached Flyer.  

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Who is Pope Francis punishing?

In his Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes and its covering letter, Pope Francis is introducing stringent new restrictions on the celebration of the ancient Latin Mass, now called not the Extraordinary Form but simply the 1962 Missal or “earlier Missal.”

Pope Francis writes, in the letter, that the use of the 1962 Missal is

often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the “true Church”.

Pope Francis indicates that this concern, and the desire for measures such as those he has adopted, has been expressed by bishops responding to the survey on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum which the Congregation for Divine Worship carried out in 2020. This is very surprising, since those who had sight of the results consistently reported that a great many bishops were positive about the place of the Old Mass in their diocese. Even the French bishops, whose rather negative collective response was leaked, had to acknowledge many positive aspects of the phenomenon, and concludes that “if it [Summorum Pontificum] honors a principle of reality, then a tireless work of unity is always necessary.” What the French bishops had in mind, to assist this “work of unity,” was things like reconciling the calendar and lectionary, issues which Pope Francis has not broached.

Read the whole things there.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Some Comments on the Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes

This has already gone out by email to LMS supporters.

This document will be a grave disappointment to those many priests and lay Catholics who responded to the words of Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who encouraged the use of the earlier liturgical tradition, calling it a ‘rightful aspiration’ and ‘riches’ for the Church, respectively. These Catholics have worked hard over many years, particularly since 2007, to build up the unity of the Church, which as the Second Vatican Council declared does not depend on liturgical uniformity but on unity of faith under the Pope (Sacrosanctum Concilium 37; Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2).

The provision that the EF not be celebrated in parish churches appears entirely unworkable, in the context of the careful provision which has been made over many years by bishops all over the world.

The overall negative judgement of the EF and the communities which attend it seems wholly unwarranted, and we would challenge any apologist for this document to produce real evidence that the EF has undermined the unity of the Church, compared, say, to the celebration of Eastern Rites in the West, the special liturgical celebrations of the Neocatechumenate, or the great variety of liturgical styles found in the context of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In detail, looking at the provisions of the document:

Art 1: This appears to overturn Pope Benedict XVI’s claim that the Roman Rite can be considered as having two ‘Forms’, Ordinary and Extraordinary. The document adopts the terminology of ‘the 1962 Missal’.

Art 2: This rolls back the presumption of authorisation for the 1962 Missal which was created by Summorum Pontificum in 2007. However, that claim was based on the fact that the older Missal had never been abrogated. Since this document does not formally abrogate it, this creates a legal anomaly.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Requiem for Fr Anthony Conlon

As a priest, the catafalque (coffin stand with pall, representing the body)
has a chalice and paten, and biretta, on it.

Yesterday evening the Latin Mass Society arranged a High Mass of Requiem for our former National Chaplain, Fr Anthony Conlon (14th July 1947-19th April 2020). It took place in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Warwick Street. It was celebrated by the Parish Priest Fr Mark Elliot Smith assisted by Fr Stephen Morrison O.Praem and Fr Rupert McHardy Cong Orat, accompanied by Cantores Missae under Charles Finch. Arranged by the Latin Mass Society.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Concelebration: a new front in the liturgy wars?

Individual Masses at the LMS Priest Training
Conference in Prior Park a few years ago.

My latest on LifeSite.

The celebration of priests together, when two or more priests celebrate one Mass, has long caused controversy. For decades after the Second Vatican Council priests have felt under pressure to take part in “concelebrated” Masses instead of celebrating their own Mass, perhaps without a congregation. Concelebration is now being enforced in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, ending the long tradition of large numbers of priests celebrating individually at side altars. Now concelebration is being used as a weapon against priests who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass: the Archbishop of Dijon, Roland Minerath, is ending the 23-year-old apostolate of the Fraternity of St Peter in the Archdiocese because the priests serving it prefer not to concelebrate.

Many bishops, religious superiors and seminary rectors like concelebration, as it gives them effective power over the celebration of Mass by their priest subordinates. They can insist that these priests not only attend a “conventual” or “community” Mass when priests are gathered together, but do so in a way which prevents them from celebrating a Mass of their own. When there is a large number of priests, most of them have hardly anything to do in concelebration, and of course they have no control over it: they can’t celebrate it at an earlier or later time, in a chapel with special significance to them, or using liturgical options of their choice, such as a votive Mass. Concelebration is a control-freak’s dream.

Read the whole thing there.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Who is afraid of the Traditional Mass?

My latest on LifeSite.

On Sunday July 3, the FIUV — the International Una Voce Federation — took out an advert in the Rome edition of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, to make a statement about the Traditional Latin Mass. It points out:

“The growth of interest in the traditional liturgy is not due to nostalgia for a time we do not remember, or a desire for rigidity: it is rather a matter of opening ourselves to the value of something that for most of us is new, and inspires hope.”

That it is controversial to be attached to the liturgy used by the Church for more than a dozen centuries is the sign of a deep malaise in the Church. Two prominent prelates in the Roman Curia have recently been reported making remarks about the Extraordinary Form (EF) of extraordinary hostility, and these have come after weeks of speculation about a new official document which will in some way roll back the freedom which Pope Benedict XVI gave to the more ancient liturgy in 2007.Possibly all these stories and rumors are false or taken out of context — the Vatican can seem like a hall of mirrors sometimes — but the mere fact that these stories are circulating is a reminder that the Old Mass has determined enemies in Rome.

Read it all there.

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Sunday, July 04, 2021

Statement from the FIUV

Cross-posted from the FIUV blog.

The Una Voce Federation has taken out an advert in the mass-circulation Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, appearing today Sunday 4th July.

The English text is as following (for other languages see here):

Living the faith, living the future:
The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
Declaration of the International Federation Una Voce

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Child sex-abuse: blaming the victims

Who will do reparation for the crimes our society so casually
sweeps under the carpet?
LMS Mass of Reparation for Abortion, Bedford

My latest on Life-Site. A key passage:

...while the official message is that everyone has the right to say “no”, saying “no” is the mark of being uncool or actually a bad person. Schools have handed potential rapists a new and powerful arsenal of psychological techniques they can use to put pressure on their victims.

Of course, few teachers believe this message themselves: in its implications, it is an extreme form of sexual libertinism incompatible with long-term relationships and family life. What they actually think of the child-victims of the intense social pressure to agree to sexual acts is revealing. One testimony on Everyone’s Invited described how when boys shared nude photos of the girls with each other, it was the girls who were blamed from creating the images in the first place, at the insistence of their boyfriends. 

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Strange Survival of Conservative Christianity

I've written a piece for the magazine The European Conservative. It's available online, and begins as follows.

Just over two years ago, Daryush Valizadeh—better known as known as ‘Roosh,’ the ‘pick-up artist,’ and enemy of feminism, who had slept with thousands of women and written ‘how-to’ books so other men could emulate this achievement—announced that he was reverting to the Armenian Orthodox faith of his upbringing. He renounced his past life, publicly repented his sins, and ‘unpublished’ most of his books. Many of them had been banned from Amazon anyway; you could only buy them directly from his website.

More recently, Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay alt-right provocateur who had tried—with varying success—to build a career from generating outrage, reverted to the Catholic faith of his own upbringing, declaring himself ‘ex-gay’ and ‘sodomy-free’ to the conservative Catholic website LifeSiteNews.

It is fair to assume that none of these four men have much interest in liberal Christianity. It is towards the beleaguered Helm’s Deep of conservative or traditional Christianity that they are heading. The embattled garrison may well have mixed feelings as this particular contingent of reinforcements crest on the horizon, but as their worst enemies would, perhaps, agree, they do need Jesus.These two individuals are—or (in their previous personae) were—among the most toxic and hated figures on the planet for feminists and others on the social-justice bandwagon. In a somewhat different category, though still heartily loathed by the woke Left, are Jordan Peterson and Laurence Fox. It seems increasingly possible that Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist who has won fame as a life-style guru, is moving towards belief in—and not just respect for—the Christian religion. The divorced actor-turned-campaigner Fox, in turn, who had been ‘cancelled’ for claiming that Britain is not a racist country, has revealed that he has become more ‘outwardly Christian,’ and says prayers with his sons every night.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

The 'Managed Zone' of prostitution in Leeds closes

My latest on LifeSiteNews. Some good news from Leeds.


Since 2014, the local police and city government have allowed a slab of the city of Leeds in England to become a crime-ridden nightmare, in the forlorn hope that other parts of the city would benefit. This bizarre policy has finally been scrapped.

The U.K.’s laws against prostitution are far from satisfactory, but they do exist. It is illegal to solicit for paid sex, and this includes what is known as “curb crawling.” It is also illegal to “live off immoral earnings”, which outlaws brothels. The city council and the police of Leeds announced that these laws would not be enforced in a certain mainly non-residential area of the city between 8pm and 6am. The area was nevertheless heavily monitored — or so it was claimed — and the scheme cost the city and police around £300,000. It should have come as no surprise that the designated area, and increasingly areas around its borders, became a kind of enterprise zone for criminals engaging in rape, sex trafficking, drugs, and even murder. I hesitate to reproduce descriptions of what it was like, but a lot of physical cleaning-up had to be undertaken every morning at the city’s expense, the problems continued 24-hours a day, and people who lived nearby were far from happy.


Read the whole thing there.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Liturgy, Abortion, Doctrine: entwined crises

Latin Mass Society's annual Mass in Reparation for Abortion,
at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bedford, 2019.

My latest article for Calx Mariae, the magazine of Voice of the Family, is available online. Here is a key passage.

The liturgy is the holiest possession of the Church: it contains God’s very presence, and those things most intimately associated with that. It is the frame for the familiar ways we engage with that presence, in the intimacy of our souls. What progressives were claiming, and continue to claim, is that the Church had got the liturgy seriously wrong, and had done so for more than a thousand years.

This message destroyed the faith of many Catholics, including many priests and religious. It was resisted by others, and this created a bitter internal conflict in the Church which is still continuing. For many Catholics who were not especially well-informed or ideologically committed, it simply caused confusion. Above all, for those inside and outside the Church, it did the opposite of what the Vatican II reforms were supposed to do. Instead of sending the Church on a renewed mission with greater confidence, it filled her children with self-doubt and made the Church look, to outsiders, disunited and unsure of herself.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Do Traditional Catholics deserve a good kicking? A reply to M.W. Davis

Bishop Rey of Frejus (France) celebrating the EF in the
Chapel of the Throne in it Peter's Basilica, Rome

Michael Warren Davis has, again, attacked Catholics attached to the Church’s traditional Latin liturgy. His repeated, embittered criticisms of this particular group within the Church (see here and here) are invariably motivated by a deep fraternal charity—so he tells us, anyway. The headline writer at the American Conservative, trying perhaps to discern exactly what the point of Davis’ article might be, subtitles it ‘Do liturgical dissenters deserve whatever sanctions the Vatican is preparing? Do they need them?’ The confusion between the two questions permeates the article. How are we to understand possible restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Mass as something which is going to help the situation Davis describes? The maxim ‘Beatings will continue until morale improves’ comes to mind.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

LMS Sponsored side altar at St Bede's, Clapham Park

St Bede altar

Last Saturday Fr Marcus Holden at St Bede's, Clapham Park, celebrated a High Mass of the Ember Saturday, for the repose of a benefactor of the Latin Mass Society, John Edward Arnell. The LMS has also sponsored a new side-altar at St Bede's in his memory, complete with a specially commissioned painting of St Bede, by the Catholic artist James Tildersley.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Last call for June: More Socratic Seminars: read Plato's dialogues with me

I'm arranging days and times now: last chance to join us for June-July.

My seminars on the early dialogues continue, and the current series concludes next week. 

Plato's dialogues are literary and philosophical masterpieces, exposing the limitations of common sense and setting out the philosophical attitudes and methods which have set the tone of the discipline from Plato's day to the present. I started these seminars during the lockdown, but the possibility of teaching anyone interested, and without regard to distance, suggests that they may have longer to run.

The premise of the series is that pretty well anyone with the necessary time (not very much is needed) and interest can engage profitably with the short early dialogues. Doing so is sufficient preparation, for those who want to, to continue with some of the slightly more complex and longer ones.

Just now I have been leading two seminars: one on four short early dialogues, and one on two longer ones: Protagoras and Gorgias.

With a view to starting in the week of 14th June, I am offering

Series 1: for those new to this.

1: Euthyphro (on piety), Ion (on poetic inspiration), Lysis (on friendship), and Laches (on courage).

Series 3: for returning students.

3: Hippias Major (on beauty), Meno (on virtue), Euthydemus (on the eristic method), and ClitophonTheages, & Alcibiades (different takes on the Socratic method, attributed to Plato).

Plus Series 5: for returning students who have done both beginners' and intermediate seminars.

5: Phaedo (on the afterlife); Phaedrus (on the nature of the soul): each divided into two parts.

So far I've continued to have enough students to justify two seminars running in parallel. We'll see if numbers stretch to three at once.

It has been a fascinating project for me, re-reading these dialogues often after many years, and discussing them with mostly mature students from all over the world. And the students clearly get a lot out of it, with many of them returning from one series to another.

I'm game to carry on, if you are! More information here.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Nice guys finish last?

I've written before about how men sometimes categorised as 'jerks' seem to have more success with the opposite sex than those described, often in a patronising tone of voice, as 'nice'. Two recent articles have been grist to my mill.

First is a review of When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault by David M. Buss, Little, Brown Spark, 336 pages (April 2021), bRob Henderson

Henderson ends his review with a particularly interesting observation:

A popular idea is that men who are desperate or deprived of chances for sex will be more likely to use coercion. This is known as the “mate deprivation hypothesis.” However, studies suggest the opposite is the case. Men who have more partners report higher levels of sexual aggression compared to men with fewer partners. Furthermore, men who predict that their future earnings will be high also report greater levels of sexual aggression relative to men who predict that their future earnings will be low.

One contributing factor may be an empathy deficit—the book reports that high status is linked to lower levels of empathy. Men high on Dark Triad traits are viewed as more attractive by women, are more likely to have consensual sexual partners, and are more likely to engage in sexual coercion.
Were it susceptible to logical argument, and not merely the product of ideology, the idea that the Church's championing of chastity leads to sex abuse would receive yet another blow from this.