Thursday, March 09, 2023

Letter in The Tablet: the quickest way to a parallel Church

Last week Christopher Lamb wrote a feature article in The Tablet -- in addition to his weekly column -- on the Rescript and the general question of Vatican policy towards the Traditional Mass. It contained many things I could have objected to, and overall Lamb seems lacking in seriousness. For example, in response to the careful argument made by JD Flynn -- and many other canonists -- based on the legal implications of the fact that the Responsa ad dubia from December 2021 was approved by Pope Francis in forma communi and not in forma specifica, Lamb tells us artlessly that Cardinal Roche informed him 'that the Pope approved it'. So that's settled, then.

However, I decided not to address these sorts of things and they have published (most of) a letter I sent them, which comments on the situation in a more general way. (Words cut in red.)


Christopher Lamb’s article (Critical Mass, 4 March) reiterates the central mystery of the recent instructions from Rome on the Latin Mass: the idea that Catholics attached to it should be moved from parish churches to various obscure alternative places of worship, or perhaps to the chapels of the SSPX outside the structures of the Church, in order to prevent a ‘parallel Church’ developing.

I am a witness to the effect on Traditional Catholics, when restrictions were eased in 2007, of being moved into parish churches, after a long period in the wilderness. This led to their greater integration into the life of the parish and diocese, their greater sense of solidarity with the wider Church, and the undoing of the marginalisation which can breed isolation, bitterness, and radicalisation.

Reversing this process, after 13 years in which deep wounds had healed, is the high road to creating a ‘parallel Church’, where those who worship in Latin never meet their fellow Catholics and feel permanently—and, we must admit, justifiably—aggrieved by the actions of the hierarchical Church.

There are two important differences between today, and the previous time this happened, in the 1970s. One is the vastly increased numbers of Catholics who have, with the encouragement of Pope Benedict XVI, made the ancient Mass their spiritual home. The other is the much greater sympathy they receive from priests and bishops.

How this ends, I leave to readers to imagine.


I'm always interested by what The Tablet letter editor cuts out from my letters. It seems he'd rather readers did not think about what happens next. I would suggest that, as they say in the army, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.

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  1. A parallel Church of a sort (it would be more accurately called a Conciliar sect) was formed in the 1960's by the Modernists and the putative Popes. This sect masquerades as the Catholic Church and it has new doctrines, new ceremonies, a new priesthood, and a new constitution (this constitution cannot be that of the Catholic Church as the Church's constitution is immutable).
    This sect can be identified as such as it has done things which are impossible for the Catholic Church to have done. One of these things is that it has promulgated evil laws.
    It is clearly taught by the authorised theologians that the Church enjoys secondary (or disciplinary) infallibility in her laws and disciplines. This means that she cannot promulgate an harmful law; it is impossible. The most obvious example of an harmful or evil law or discipline promulgated by the Conciliar sect is the new Mass. This rite is Protestantised and gradually turns those who attend it into Protestants. However, if we do not want to get bogged down in that controversy, another example is the 1983 Code of Canon Law, particularly canon 844. This canon, as well as being steeped in the heretical new ecclesiology, allows non-Catholics to receive the Sacraments without abjuring their errors. This was traditionally understood to be a sacrilege and was forbidden by the 1917 code. How can these clearly harmful disciplines be explained? The explanation is that neither the new Mass nor the 1983 Code were promulgated by a Pope. This is confirmed by an examination of the teaching of the putative Popes and a study of the Catholic understanding of pertinacity. I doubt it would be helpful to get into that here, but treatments of the subject exist.
    The possibility of this explanation is confirmed by consulting the works of St Robert Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, Chapter XXX; the passage is short being only about three or four pages), St Alphonsus de Ligouri, St Antoninus, Cardinal Billot (in his Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi), and very many canonists, such as Wernz-Vidal in the work Ius Canonicum (2:453; 1:415; all volumes of this work are available on, though it is in Latin), Mattheus Conte a Coronata, Vermeersch, Regatillo, Marato, and Cappello. These authorities teach that manifest heretics are barred from election to the Papacy by divine law and that a man holding office in the Catholic Church falls from office at the moment he becomes a manifest heretic. Loss of office also does not require a declaratory judgement, as explicitly stated by various of the canonists mentioned, including Wernz-Vidal.
    I do not ask anyone to accept what I have said here without question. Unquestionably, the best approach is to learn traditional ecclesiology from the pre-Conciliar books oneself, and then see how the traditional teaching can be applied to our current situation. A good book to start with is Fr Sylvester Berry's 'The Church of Christ'. The WM Review recommends very many good beginner texts and a good approach as does the forum

    1. Both the references to Ius Canonicum are in volume two of the work. Apologies for the mistake. A link to the book is below: