Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Reflections on the CDF statement on blessings of homosexual unions

Last October a film was released which included a clip of Pope Francis saying, of homosexual persons, “they are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

BBC Radio 4 asked me to say something about the story when it broke. It turned out that I was to be a “conservative” Catholic voice, to be followed immediately by a “liberal” one, to whit the former Editor of the liberal British Catholic weekly, The Tablet, Catherine Pepinster. The BBC journalists were very excited about the Pope’s statement, and thought it presaged a substantive change of Catholic teaching. I happened to be in Rome at that moment, and from my hotel room I tried to calm them down. The big concession the Pope was making, I said, was the very fact that he had said what he had said. He was not about to change the teaching of the Church about sex outside (heterosexual) marriage. His words were designed, not to ready conservative Catholics for such a change, but to console those who are not reconciled to the teaching.

No doubt to the disappointment of the BBC journalists, Catherine Pepinster agreed with me.

We have been vindicated, now, by a statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, setting out the position that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions. The document emphasises that Pope Francis “gave his assent to the publication of the above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium”. It seems that he is in favour of homosexual couples having the legal protections offered by the status of Civil Partnership, but insofar as their relationship (as the CDF says) “involve[s] sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life)”, then it cannot receive the blessing of the Church. When relationships are blessed, “it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.”

Since then Pope Francis has made some qualifying, informal remarks: or possibly not. And the whole media circus goes round again, with rival interpretations and the rest. In the mean time, we’ve just had the bizarre banning of the celebration of (almost all) private Masses in the Vatican basilica. A coincidence, no doubt, but nothing emanating from the Holy See seems to lack a counter-weight, something for the other side of the debate to cheer. Everything is balanced and qualified, obscured by clarifications, and then replaced in the spotlight by the next media-circus act.

This is not just Pope Francis; it is a longer-term feature of the Vatican’s relationship with the media. (Remember Pope Benedict and the condoms?) In order not to go crazy watching the Barque of St Peter apparently tacking wildly in one direction and then another, it is useful to hang on to the distinction Catherine Pepinster and I ended up agreeing one. As Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, about to trash the wretched Cardinal Wolsey, remarks, “words are no deeds.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Spring Edition of Gregorius Magnus, the magazine of the FIUV


Cross-posted from the FIUV blog.

The latest edition of Gregorius Magnus is now available, for Spring 2021.

Gregorius Magnus 11 pdf download


It includes a report on the events in Rome last October, in place of the usual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage.

It also includes a key passage from the French Bishops' summary report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, in an English translation published for the first time.

As usual it also includes translations of articles from the quarterly magazines of Una Voce France and Pro Missa Tridentina of Germany, as well as an article from the Latin Mass Society's Mass of Ages, and news and reflections first published here, from Croatia, Romania, and Poland.

It is free to download as a pdf, or to view on the ISSUU website and app for mobile devices.


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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Server training in London: back in 2021!

Cross-posted from the blog of the Society of St Tarcisius.

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Server training in St James' Spanish Place, March 2020

I am delighted to announce after a year of enforced inactivity that we will be returning to running our Server Training Days in London.

24th July: St Mary Moorfields, London

(booking page) (info about the venue)

25th September: St James' Spanish Place, London 

(booking page) (info about the venue)

20th November: St James' Spanish Place, London 

(booking page(info about the venue)

These days start at 10:30 am and finish at about 3:30pm.

As usual, there will be a Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day running alongside these events: see here for more details.

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Enrollment of new members at St Mary Moorfields in 2019

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Who'd like to talk about Socrates and his friends? Yet more Socratic seminars

I have just concluded the second series of four on-line seminars which I have been leading, on Plato's 'Socratic' or 'early' dialogues, and I'm planning more. The discussions have been stimulating and enjoyable.

So what's this all about?

Socrates is in green up on the left, in profile.

In early January I offered to lead some online seminars on early Socratic dialogues, as a small personal response to the lockdown, and (almost to my surprise) this has actually happened. 

These dialogues are uniquely suited to stimulating discussion among people who don't necessarily already have philosophical training: indeed, it seems very probable that this is the point of them. They introduce us to the thought-world of ancient Athens, and to the methods of philosophy: careful argumentation, exposing hidden assumptions and logical fallacies, all in the context of the personal dynamics of the dialogue format, which adds another layer of interest to these works.

Nothing comes without a background, but the background here is more manageable than that of pretty well any other texts which come to mind. For these, I've been putting together a single page of information about the cultural and historical background to each dialogue, and not asking students to do any other reading apart from the text itself. The dialogues themselves are pretty short (though they vary). So these hour-long seminars don't require a huge amount of preparation.

Having done eight dialogues, including the shorter ones, I am, however, now getting to the point that somewhat longer and more complex texts remain, among those regarded as 'Socratic' dialogues. My selection for the next four seminars, therefore, makes sense for those who have done one or other of the preceding series. For those coming to this fresh, I shall be returning to the first series, which serves as a good introduction to the genre.

So those interested can choose between these two options:

Series 1: recommended for beginners
Euthyphro (on piety); Ion (on poetic inspiration); Laches (on courage); Lysis (on friendship).

Series 3: recommended for those who have done some before
Hippias Major (on beauty); Meno (virtue); Euthydemus (the eristic method); Clitophon & Theages (two short dialogues attributed to Plato on the Socratic method).

I expect to start these in the week beginning 5th April: those interested will take part in a Doodle poll to choose mutually convenient times. I've already had participants from Seattle, Chile, and South Africa!

If you are looking at this and wondering if it's going to make any sense to you, go and read Euthyphro and ask yourself if you'd like to talk about it with others.

More details, including prices, here.

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New Podcast, with Dr Jules Gomes

Iota Unum Podcasts

Coming Home to Rome: Dr Jules Gomes talks to Joseph Shaw 

You can hear the podcast on Spotify and other platforms - here's the link to Podbean.

Dr. Jules Gomes, B.A., B.D., M.Th., Ph.D. (Cantab) is Rome Correspondent for Church Militant: author page here.

He is a journalist, academic and editor of the Rebel Priest blog.

He came home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church on January 5, 2020.

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LMS Residential Latin and Greek Course, August: booking open

Book now for a week's intensive Latin, aimed at the Latin of the Church's ancient liturgy, or - new for this year - the Greek of the New Testament.

Dates: Monday 16th August - Saturday 21st August

Place: Savio House, a Catholic Retreat Centre run by the Salesians.

Ingersley Rd, Bollington, Macclesfield SK10 5RW (link to map)

Tutors: in Latin, Fr John Hunwicke and Fr Richard Bailey (Cong. Orat.)

In Greek, Mathew Spencer.

Savio House is an attractive 18th century house with lovely grounds on the edge of the Peak District. The accommodation is fairly basic but you can stay nearby if you prefer. 

There will be the Traditional Mass every day. 

Priests and seminarians get a 50% discount in the Latin course, and it is very good value for everyone.

Latin will be for beginners and 'intermediate' students; Greek is also pitched at an early stage, though there is an online course offered by Matthew Spencer for those who need a run-up.

You can get up there by car or train; the course will be unthreatening for beginners and your toil will be relived by the countryside, the company, and the Holy Mass.

Priests attending will of course be able to celebrate Mass in whatever Rite they prefer. Savio House has a chapel and we'll work out how to accommodate everyone.

Our courses have had excellent feedback over the years, and having lost a year to COVID don't miss this opportunity to polish up your Latin or New Testament Greek!

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Fr Hunwicke with students at the Latin Course in a previous venue.

Hear some testimonials!

'I cannot thank you enough for organising this course.'

'I greatly enjoyed the course, in particular the inspirational teaching of Fr John with his deep understanding of Latin, Greek and the long history of the Roman Rite. I found the level challenging, but not overwhelming—just right for me.'

'I’ve been twice to the course now and enjoyed it, I convinced another seminarian to join me this year. I will probably come back next year…'

'Covering an ambitious syllabus did satisfy me, because by the end I did at least have a clear idea of what it is I need to learn; and of course during the week I did actually learn/relearn a great deal of basic grammar and vocabulary.'

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Feminists attack feminists over prostitution

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

To mark International Women’s Day, a feminist group called “Collective for the Abolition of Pornography & Prostitution” conducted a small demonstration in a famous Parisian square, the Place de la Republique. They were attacked, ironically, by a rival gang of feminists, who chanted abuse, pulled down their banners, tried to spray paint their eyes, and made death-threats.

The second group was pro-prostitution, a position which has achieved dominance in the feminism of much of the English-speaking world, but less so elsewhere. Intriguingly, they accused the anti-prostitution group as being “[t]rans-exclusionary”: that is, of not wanting to say that biological males who identify as women are really women. Trans issues were not part of the original protest at all, so this was a matter of the association of ideas on the part of the pro-prostitution group.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: booking open, early bird discount: 26-30 Aug

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Sign up before Easter Sunday and get 10% off! More info and booking here.

Non-members can join the Latin Mass Society while booking and get the members' discount: from anywhere in the world.

The dates are 26-30th August, Thursday evening in Ely to Sunday afternoon in Walsingham. (There's an extra Mass on Monday for those who've stayed the night in the area.)

The LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham is a fantastic experience. Not as grueling as the Chartres Pilgrimage in terms of daily distance, and also pretty flat, it is still a very serious walk over three days with singing, praying, spiritual talks from our chaplains, and the Traditional Mass.

Our singing is led by our wonderful cantors - there is one assigned to each chapter - and we have freshly-made hot evening meals thanks to our superb catering team. And porridge for breakfast!

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Follow in the footsteps of England's kings, peasants, sinners and saints: come to Walsingham, and do it the hard way, on foot!


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Monday, March 15, 2021

November Sewing Retreat: Booking open

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The Sewing Retreats of the Guild of St Clare (affiliated to the Latin Mass Society) are always booked out and this autumn's event will be the first after two were knocked out by Covid. Don't delay booking your place!

The retreat giver will be Fr Timothy Finigan.

The dates are 12th-14th November 2021

Venue: the Guesthouse at Douai Abbey in Berkshire.

Come and help make or mend vestments, all skill-levels catered for (honestly!), with Fr Finigan's spiritual conferences and daily Traditional Masses.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Private Masses in St Peter's: who's in the cross-hairs?

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Private Masses before a 'First Mass' of a newly ordained priest
(Fr William Barker FSSP) in Bavaria, in a church near Wigratzbad.

I was at school next to a vast church with masses of unused side-altars, and they are an apt symbol of the changes which followed the Second Vatican Council. Why would a priest wish to celebrate Mass on a day when he has no public Mass to say? Why bother? Or else, why not tag along with a crowd of priests putting on a concelebrated Mass, so he can tick the box saying he's attended the community's 'conventual' Mass and the box saying he's celebrated, both at once?

New podcasts, with Roger Buck

The Latin Mass Society's Iota Unum Podcast series continues with two podcasts with the author Roger Buck. You can find them on Podbean, Spotify, and ITunes: search for the Latin Mass Society

The New Age: Roger Buck talks to Joseph Shaw

Part 1: What is the New Age? (Podbean)

Part 2: Theosophy and the roots of the New Age (Podbean)

Roger Buck was born in California, was brought up partly there and partly in England, and has also lived in various places on the Continent. He is currently living in Ireland. He spent close to three years living at the New Age centre at Findhorn in Scotland, and nearly twenty years in the New Age milieu, before his conversion. Roger’s conversion story is described in his book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, which defends the Latin Mass and details the tragedy of the post-Vatican II Church.

More about Roger Buck can be found here:

Roger’s website

Roger’s YouTube channel

Roger’s books:

The Gentle Traditionalist: A Catholic Fairy-Tale from Ireland (2015) (LMS Shop)

The Gentle Traditionalist Returns: A Catholic Knight’s Tale from Ireland (2019) (LMS Shop)

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed (2016) (LMS Shop)

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Monday, March 08, 2021

The New Feminism tells women to accept abuse


Most people are blissfully unaware of the vast extent of intellectual fakery which inhabits universities around the world. The fact that a great deal of it is paid for by taxpayers is bad enough, but sometimes it rises to levels which raise a different kind of question. This is the case with this article by Alison Phipps, Professor of Gender Studies at Sussex University. She shares this institution with the ‘Gender Critical’ feminist Kathleen Stock whom I wrote about here, but describes her colleague’s views, such as that women should not have share refuges with biological males, as beneath debate (“‘Reasonable debate’ cannot counter unreasonable ideas.”). In the article, Phipps writes that women expressing trauma about sexual violation, a phenomenon she describes as “white tears”, is a tool of oppression.

It is difficult to find words to do justice to the outrageous nature of this claim, and its calamitous consequences if taken seriously. But these are not the ravings of a lone madwoman. Phipps is a professor at a serious university, these reflections of hers are published in a mainstream journal, and she has also published a book on the same theme, with Manchester University Press. More significantly, she is one of many radical feminists of the new school. Put “white tears” (with quotation marks) into Twitter’s search bar, and say hello to a truly grim new world.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Letter of the Week: Brexit

In this weekend's The Tablet.

I suspect that Robert Tombs, emeritus professor of French history at Cambridge, knows rather more about the workings of history than your reviewer, Christopher Bray (Books, 27 February). 

But however much he objects to the optimistic message emerging from Professor Tombs’ book, This Sovereign Isle, one wonders how the post-Brexit counsel of gloom which Mr Bray prefers is supposed to help anyone, particularly when so much of the same has already been disseminated by The Tablet

Of course, passionate Remainers may find it embarrassing if this country achieves prosperity, over coming years, outside the European Union. They may even be tempted to work against it. But isn’t it now time to face reality and move on? We’ve left, and we must make a success of it. 

JONATHAN LUXMOORE 
WARSAW, POLAND 

The author, the journalist Jonathan Luxmoore whose international reporting often appears in The Tablet and The Universe, and who has also written on Poland for Mass of Ages, is the author of The God of the Gulag, a two-volume study of the persecution of Christians under Communism.

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Monday, March 01, 2021

Spring Mass of Ages available

In this issue: • Fr Timothy Finigan shows what we should learn about Lenten penance from Challoner • We report on an LMS gift of a set of faldstool covers to Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane • David Gornall SJ looks at where we are now, fifty-five years after the Second Vatican Council • Charles A. Coulombe remembers John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Thanks to the cooperation of priests in whose parishes the Traditional Mass is celebrated, Mass of Ages is available from more than 120 cathedrals and churches around the country. See HERE for stockists. If you do not live near one of these but would like a copy of the magazine, we would be very happy to send one from the LMS Office. However, due to the high cost of postage, we do ask that you cover the cost of postage. See here for details.

A digital copy of the magazine may be read HERE.If you have the ISSUU APP, you can also read it in mobile-friendly format.

Are you on our E-Newsletter mailing list? To keep up to date with our news, subscribe HERE

To help the Latin Mass Society continue its work of promoting and developing Traditional life and practice in the Church, please consider signing up to our Anniversary Supporters’ Appeal.



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