Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Monarchy, Democracy, and God's Rule

My latest on 1Peter5 is about the monarchy.

Following the publication of A Defence of Monarchy: Catholics Under a Protestant King, which I edited, I have given a talk to the Catholic Writers' Guild (the Keys) which you can hear here (or find it on your favoured podcast platform under 'Latin Mass Society' or 'Iota Unum', and also responded to  rather jejune criticism of Queen Elizabeth, set out in the European Conservative, in an article in Crisis.

My 1Peter5 article is a further reflection on the subject, noting the practical usefulness of a hereditary monarchy in an era of political polarisation, and its importance as a symbol of God's rule over society.

It begins:

I don’t expect, in general, American citizens to be easily impressed by arguments for a hereditary monarchy, but the downsides of an elected executive Presidency are perhaps most on display in the year of a bitterly contested election. The extraordinary “bloodbath” discourse currently swamping my social media feed is a reminder that, just as many conservatives and Christians feel their very existence and identity is threatened by the progressive state, so many progressives in positions of influence in the media, academia and politics feel something similar about a possible Trump second term. The prestige and legitimacy of elements of the constitution that perdure through the electoral cycle—the civil service, the armed forces, the judiciary, and for some lucky nations a hereditary monarchy—should not be seen as regrettable limitations on the democratic principle, but as a set of things that can nurse democracy through its stickiest moments.

The Catholic case for monarchy is not just about its practical usefulness in a modern democracy, however, but about its symbolic importance, which translates remarkably well between the conditions of democratic and non-democratic, modern and pre-modern, and Western and non-Western polities. This is a central point of a collection of essays which I have edited to respond to criticisms of the monarchy in the context of last year’s British royal succession, not just by addressing some rather ignorant political and legal arguments, but by defending the idea of a person at the apex of a constitution who is as much as possible identified with that role: who is the head of state not by virtue of his own or anyone else’s choice, but just by being who he is.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Roger Buck reviews 'The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals'

Roger Buck, author of The Gentle Traditionalist and Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: from Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed, has kindly reviewed my book The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals on his website.

Two passages:

For one garners insight here from not one—but many cultured, thoughtful, even brilliant men and women hailed in their fields, even sometimes hailed as geniuses.

Their brilliance is evident in the book and these profound souls were often astoundingly prophetic as to the steep price the Church would pay for sacrificing her liturgy. Indeed, as the non-Catholics here also recognised, the West itself would pay a steep price. A great irony in the book is that these were all lay people, even at times agnostic or atheist ones, but who clearly saw things the clerics could not.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Guild of St Clare Sponsorship for the Royal School of Needlework, 2024

A Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat

The Royal School of Needlework is one of the world's great centres of expertise keeping alive the tradition of hand embroidery. They do work for museums and the Royal Family, and they teach new generations of students. These include the skills necessary for making and restoring liturgical vestments, and several members of the Guild of St Clare have been through their rigorous courses, which take one to fours years.

The courses are very flexible: they can be done at the student's own pace, and there is even a choice of venues.

Six years ago we decided we needed more of such people: so we found a benefactor to make possible a sponsorship scheme to pay up to half of the fees, for one student a year. 

If you are interested, don't miss this opportunity. The deadline is 23rd June.

From the LMS:

Do you have a passion for hand embroidery and the restoration of fine vestments?

We are pleased to announce an exciting sponsorship opportunity for those interested in studying Needlework.

The Guild of St Clare is offering sponsorship for candidates wishing to study The Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course.

Deadline for applications is the 23rd June 2024

See HERE for more information and how to apply.

Volunteers at a Vestment Mending Day in London

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Iota Unum talks: Dan Hitchens and Sebastian Morello

Sr Clare Crockett

I am pleased to announce two talks in the Latin Mass Society's Iota Unum series:

Friday 17th May, Dan Hitchens: ‘Sister Clare Crockett: a modern saint?’

Friday 28th June, Sebastian Morello: ‘Cartesian Catholicism and the Loss of Sacred Space’

Talks take place in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption; please enter by the back entrance into the basement: 24 Golden Square, W1F 9JR near Piccadilly Tube Station (click for a map).

Doors open at 6:30pm; the talk will start at 7pm.

There is a charge of £5 on the door to cover refreshments and other expenses.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New edition of Gregorius Magnus published

Gregorius Magnus is the twice-yearly magazine of Una Voce International (FIUV), which groups together 41 lay-led Una Voce and Latin Mass Society groups from every part of the world.

This edition has a photographic report on the Summorum Pontificum Ad Petri Sedem pilgrimage, articles from new contributors, and contributions from the the magazines of the FIUV's member associations.
  • Pope Benedict, one year on: Caroline Farey on 'The Way of Beauty'; Andrew Cusack on the liberation of the Old Mass.
  • 120 year anniversary of Evelyn Waugh
  • St Thomas Becket, by Thomas Colsey
  • T.S. Eliot, by Robert Lazu Kmita
  • Cardinal Ambongo on Fiducia supplicans, by Michael Haynes
  • A Traditional Catholic school in Nigeria
and much else

See it on ISSUU, optimised for mobile devices.

Download the pdf for viewing on a screen.

Download the high-res pdf for printing.

Join the email list here.

Please support the FIUV by becoming a Friend.

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Why do bishops cover up sexual abuse? In the European Conservative

I have an article in the European Conservative about clerical abuse, though my analysis applies equally to abuse in secular institutions. We have moved on sufficiently in this debate that the focus is now often more on the covering up of this abuse, than on the abuse itself. Whatever form the abuse took, the motivation of the abusers is not difficult to discern: they get a kick out of it. More in need of explanation is the protection of the abusers by those in positions of authority.

I argue in this article against the now-standard explanation, that religious superiors, managers etc. are motivated by a desire to protect the reputation of the institution. But people who want to protect reputations get abusers to go away, by threatening exposure or investigation. The cover-up bishops I have in mind typically moved them to new parishes, enabling them to abuse a fresh set of victims.

My explanation is that these bishops accepted the heightened risk of scandal because they liked having the abusers inside the organisation, because they were reliable in other ways: they supported the bishop's power.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Catholic Monarchs and bad laws

Requiem Mass for the late Queen Elizabeth II at St Mary Moorfields, London,
8th October 2022, organised by the Latin Mass Society

Conservatives criticising Queen Elizabeth II for failing to veto the UK's Abortion Act in 1967 has become a depressingly familiar spectacle. I just wish they would do some minimal research on the subject, and at least start their argument with the acknowledgment that British monarchs do not have any such veto. This would save me the trouble of having to point out what is obvious to anyone minimally familiar with British history and politics, and then imagine what a critic would say if he actually knew this.

Today I respond to the pro-life activist Jonathan van Maren. He was writing the European Conservative; my reply has appeared in Crisis.

It begins:

Jonathan Van Maren’s European Conservative article, “Europe’s Pro-life Royals,” raises once again the question of Catholic monarchs and the legalization of abortion.

Van Maren helpfully provides some detail on how King Baudouin of Belgium avoided signing Belgium’s 1990 abortion law, and how Prince Alois of Liechtenstein defeated abortion in Liechtenstein. The courage and determination of these monarchs are an example to us all, and particularly to Catholic statesmen tempted to compromise in their defense of the most vulnerable in society.

They followed quite different strategies, because of the quite different political and constitutional circumstances in which they found themselves. Before we criticize any heads of state for acting as they did, we need to be clear what strategies we think were available in their cases.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Traditional Triduum Services restricted: in the Catholic Herald

Easter Vigil at St Mary Moorfields in 2023

On Maundy Thursday the Catholic Herald published an article by me about the disappearance of the long-standing Traditioinal Easter Triduum in the Archdiocese of Westminster.

It begins:

The liturgical celebrations of the Easter Triduum – spanning Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday – according to the ancient (Traditional Latin) rite will not take place in the Diocese of Westminster this year.

The changes follows the decision of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of the diocese, and the head of Catholics in England and Wales, to discontinue the custom of featuring liturgy over the Easter weekend in the traditional form – ­something which had taken place annually since the 1990s.

Cardinal Nichols acknowledged in correspondence to Fr Michael Cullinan denying the latter’s request to host this year’s triduum at St Mary Moorfields – the only Catholic church in The Square Mile of the City of London – that he was aware the decision would cause disappointment.

“I realise that this will disappoint some people,” he revealed, “but I have to keep the wider picture in view”, in an email which has been shown to the Herald.

Read the whole thing there.

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Monday, April 01, 2024

Easter Vigil in Bedford: photos

I attended the Easter Vigil in Bedford, which was well attended in the church of SS Philip & James in the north of the city. The celebrant was Fr Miguel Coelho, who is assisting the Fraternity of St Peter apostolate. Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP was deacon at the Missa Cantata (that is, he sang the Exultet, the Epistle and so on).