Thursday, July 18, 2024

LMS Annual General Meeting: photos


Annual General Meeting are notoriously dull but the Latin Mass Society's are a bit different, and this year's was rather fun. It took place on the feast of SS Peter & Paul on 29th June; things have been so hectic since then I have only now got round to processing my photos.

We are especially grateful to the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory for hosting us and for the beautiful Mass which preceded the meeting proper. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Two more petitions to save the Traditional Mass: in the Catholic Herald


My latest in the Catholic Herald.

Sir James MacMillan, Catholic , published on 3rd July in a British newspaper, The Times, calling on Pope Francis not to impose fresh restrictions on the Traditional Mass. I have commented extensively on this petition and the petitioners: see here.

Today, in part responding to this petition and to the persistent rumours that Pope Francis is planning these restrictions, perhaps even to be published this very day, two other letters have been published with the same intention.

First, a letter from a retired Mexican Cardinal, Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, which had been sent to Pope Francis a week ago, has been published, together with a 'Letter of Adherence' from personalities from all over the world.

Second, a petition organised by the American poet Dana Gioia, has been published with eleven signatures, representing American Catholic artists and academics.

Read it all there.

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Thursday, July 04, 2024

48 Public figures support the Traditional Mass: materials

The Latin Mass Society's Annual Requiem in 2023, in Corpus Christi Maiden Lane

This post is to gather together links to materials on this subject.

You can see the petition and signatories here. You can sign an open petition supporting it here.

The Latin Mass Society's press release is here.

Chairman's Briefing on the petition. 

Response to Fr Raymond de Souza in Crisis.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

George Galloway on the Traditional Mass

George Galloway:
Official photo from the UK Parliament
Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

George Galloway, the radical left-wing politician vying for Muslim votes in Britain's current general election, who was too hot to handle for the British Labour Party and so created his own--first, the Respect Party, now the Workers' Party of Britain -- yes, that George Galloway -- loves the Traditional Mass and has advised the Pope not to restrict it.

This has emerged in an interview with Timothy Stanley in the Daily Telegraph. Galloway, who is seeking re-election as the Member of Parliament for Rochdale in England's north west, noted that he is a practicing Catholic, and a 'big fan' of Pope Francis.

Stanley, a Catholic convert who also has experience of the radical left, felt inspired to ask him about the Traditional Mass.

The article is paywalled (here) but this is the money quote:

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Sign of Peace, for Catholic Answers

The Kiss of Peace at the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage 2023: High Mass in the Shrine

The Pax, the Kiss of Peace, is one of my favourite ceremonies of High Mass: one of the most dramatic and easily understood symbolic actions. The celebrant kisses the Altar and given the deacon a stylised embrace; the deacon embraces the subdeacon, the subdeacon the MC, and if there are clergy in choir it can be passed on down a whole row of them on both sides of the church.

For a photographer it is easy to miss. It only happens at High Mass with deacon and subdeacon, and not at Requiem Masses or on Maundy Thursday. At Prelatial Masses and First Masses of newly ordained priests, you get an extra chance to catch it, with the 'Assistant Priest'.

This is the historical context for the ceremony in the Novus Ordo, which sadly can take a form that feels not only somewhat secular but even disruptive and an invasion of personal space. I always think of a letter to the Catholic press from one worshipper in Bristol some years ago:

In my church, one elderly widower tours the pews 'making a meal'; of his license to to make contact with female bodies. ... When the 'feel good' moment arrives, they approach me expectactly, but I ignore such cheap, shallow, bonhomie. I have often felt like adding 'a little peace before Mass would not have gone amiss.'

My latest piece for Catholic Answers is on this topic. It begins:

The Sign of Peace, the handshake that takes place at Sunday Mass between the Our Father and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) before Holy Communion, is sometimes a source of friction and confusion.

The friction derives from the experience of it getting out of hand—being disruptive and even an intrusion. These problems were serious enough to raise the question, at the 2009 Synod of Bishops in in Rome, of moving the Sign of Peace to before the Offertory. Here, I want to shed some light on the meaning of the rite, which helps to put the question into some context.

At the LMS Annual Mass of Reparation in Bedford.

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Learn Latin this Summer!


The Latin Mass Society offers 80% discounts to clerics, seminarians, and those about to enter seminary (trainee permanent deacons too!), if they are based in or come from England and Wales, to learn Latin either online or at our in-person course in August. Lay people are also welcome of course! 

In person teaching (more here)

Monday to Saturday, 12-17th August, at Park Place Pastoral Centre near Fareham in Hampshire. 
  • An intensive course to make the most of your time
  • Based on the Latin of the Traditional Mass
  • Three tutors to make sure everyone has exactly the level of Latin instruction they need
  • Daily Traditional Mass celebrated by our chaplain
  • A Catholic ethos
  • 80% discount for clergy and seminarians
  • 50% discount for students
  • Another £55 off for LMS members
The course is very competitively priced even without the discounts!

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Getting men to Mass: for Catholic Answers

Men outnumber women at the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: sign up here!

My latest pieces for Catholic Answers is about the alarming typical imbalance between men and women at Mass in the West. I devote a chapter to the 'feminisation of Christianity' in my book, The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity, and there is also quite a lot on the subject on this blog.

There is a certainly a marked contrast between the imbalance of the sexes at typical Novus Ordo celebrations and the more balanced situation in the Traditional Mass, with some activities associated with it, which are particularly appealing to men, such as walking pilgrimages, often showing a clear majority of men. This is beginning to enter the discourse as a fact accepted by all sides: after all, anyone can see it for themselves by visiting a few Masses on Sunday. But as I note in this article, the tendency among liturgical progressives is not to acknowledge that they might have something to learn from others, but rather that it must be the case that anything in the Church able to attract men must be misogynistic.

That would be a pretty grim conclusion: that men will only attend Mass if it is in some sense anti-woman. It conforms, however, to an unspoken idea that seems behind a lot of modern discourse, that men are intrinsically bad, and not worth trying to save: worthy only, in fact, of condemnation, for characteristics that they cannot help having, as if God were not pleased with His creation after all.

My article for Catholic Answers begins:

Monday, June 03, 2024

Corpus Christi Procession in the rain


I think special credit is due when a procession takes place in the rain. This one was onthe feast of Corpus Christi, last Thursday, at SS Gregory & Augustine's, Oxford.


After the procession we had Benediction.


We had previously had High Mass.


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Friday, May 31, 2024

An Ordinariate for Traditionalists?

Three priests of the Archdiocese of Westminster take part in a High Mass
for Pentecost Monday in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in London.

My latest on 1Peter5.

It begins:

In the new edition of the traditionalist journal Sedes Sapientiae readers will find an article by Fr Louis-Marie de Blignières FSVF on the idea of a traditionalist ‘circumscription’, a term covering Personal Ordinariates and Prelatures, and a response to this article by me. Fr de Blignières, for those who don’t know, is the founder and superior of the Society of St Vincent Ferrer, which uses the traditional Dominican Rite. His article promotes the idea of a “circumscription” for Traditionalists: a non-geographical diocese headed by an Ordinary appointed by Rome. I am a bit more sceptical.

Since then an interview with Fr de Blignières has been published on Rorate Caeli on this subject, and I have been encouraged to put my thoughts about it into the public domain as well, to further stimulate what is a very necessary debate. What follows is complementary to my Sedes Sapientiae article.

Read the whole thing there.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Dan Hitchens on Sister Clare Crocket: podcast from the Latin Mass Society


Dan Hitchens gave a talk to the Latin Mass Society's series of talks, 'Iota Unum'. He spoke about the remarkable religious sister, Clare Crockett, who hailed from Northern Ireland and died in Ecuador in 2016, aged 33. Her order was the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother (S.H.M.).

IMG_0770You can listen to Dan's talk on the LMS podcast channel: search for 'Latin Mass Society' or 'Iota Unum'; here is direct link:

If you are in reach of London, do join us for these talks in person, meet the speaker, have a glass of wine, and meet some people in real life!

The next talk:

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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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Happy 20th Birthday, Juventutem International!


For the 20th Anniversary of the foundation of Juventutem International. The celebrant was Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, the Chaplain; the deacon was Fr Henry Whisenant, and subdeacon Fr Neil Brett. The church is their regular London venue, the beautiful church of St Mary Magdalen's, Wandsworth, in Southwark Archdiocese. Mass was for the Friday of the Octave of Pentecost. It was accompanied by the Southwell Consort and sponsored by the Latin Mass Society.


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Friday, May 24, 2024

Fr John Hunwicke: 'month's mind' Requiem

The Latin Mass Society is pleased to announce that on Wednesday 29th May a Requiem Mass will be celebrated for the late Fr John Hunwicke, roughly a month after his death on 30th April 2024, in London.

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, has a regular Wednesday evening Traditional Mass, and this is taking place in that time slot, at 6:30pm.

It will be celebrated by the parish priest, Fr Mark Elliot Smith, who, like Fr Hunwicke, is a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

It will be accompanied by the Southwell Consort, singing Victoria's Missa pro defunctis.

As an aside, we have arranged a Mass to be celebrated near the 20th anniversary of the Michael T. Davies, at our annual Mass at St Augustine's, Snave, on the feast of the Holy Cross, Saturday 14th September. (Because of the feast it will not be a Requiem Mass, but it will be offered for him.)

Mass in Snave is at 12 noon. (Click for a map.) See my report of the last one.

Requiem in Warwick Street from last year.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Novena for a special intention, starting Tusday 21st May.

Bishop Sherrington giving Benediction at the LMS Confirmations in 2019, St James' Spanish Place.

The Latin Mass Society calls for a Novena in honour of Corpus Christi


We appeal to our members, supporters, and well-wishers to pray a Novena with us for an special intention:

beginning on Tuesday 21st May,

and culminating on the eve of Corpus Christi, Wednesday 29th May. 

This is not some matter of international importance, pertaining to just one diocese, but it is of great importance for those concerned, and it is emblematic of the sufferings of Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass which have followed Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Traditionis custodes.

For the case we have in mind, and for all similarly affected because of their devotion to the Church’s traditions, we implore the assistance of Our Lord, really present in the tabernacles of our churches, through the intercession of His Mother and St Joseph Patron of the Church, and of our church’s patron saints: to remember His people. Those praying this Novena might like to use the following invocation (repeated three times):

Parce Dómine, parce pópulo tuo: ne in ætérnum irascáris nobis.

Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people: and be not angry with them for ever.

I have a little comment on this here. This is one of our irregular 'Chairman's Briefings' which go to people signed up to the monthly Newsletter.

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Praying for the Conversion of the Jews

The Good Friday 'Intercessions' in 2023, in St Mary Moorfields, London.

In the Evening Prayer of the 1974 Liturgy of the Hours, on Easter Sunday and throughout its octave, and then again on the third and fifth Sundays of Eastertide, the Church prays,

"Let Israel recognize in you [Jesus] the Messiah it has longed for; fill all men with the knowledge of your glory."

The Church desires that Jesus of Nazareth be accepted as the longed for “Christ,” by “Israel”—Israel in the biblical sense, the Jewish people. This implies that they accept the Christian faith, in the context of the Church’s mission to “all men.”

Readers who have followed the debate surrounding the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews found in the pre-Vatican II 1962 Missal may find this surprising, but this is not an isolated case. Even more explicit prayers for the conversion of the Jewish people are found in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Morning Prayer of December 31 and in Lauds on January 2, and the idea is raised elsewhere.

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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Ascension Day High Mass in Oxford


A splendid High Mass took place in SS Gregory & Augustine's in Oxford for the Ascension. The celebrant was the Priest in Charge, Fr John Saward, assisted by Rev. James Forde-Johnson (as deacon) and Rev. Kevin O'Connor (as subdeacon).



Saturday, May 11, 2024

Discussion of 'A Defence of Monarchy' with Calvin Robinson

I discussed the book I edited, 'A Defence of Monarchy: Catholics under a Protestant King' on Fr Calvin Robinson's 'Common Sense Crusade' show. This is the segment which Calvin has shared on his Facebook page. Subscribers can see the whole show here; before I come on, Eduard von Habsburg, Ambassador to the Holy See for Hungary, talking about his book 'The Habsburg Way'.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Rogation Mass in Maiden Lane, London


On Monday I attended the regular Mass organaised by the Latin Mass Society in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane. It was a Rogation Mass, and for the first time (as far as I know) we had the Rogation procession. This went round and round the church while the Great Litany was sung, with each intercession made twice -- so it took a pretty long time!

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Kingsley Lewis, RIP

Kingsley Lewis was the Latin Mass Society's Local Representative in Cardiff for many years. He was also a member of the Committee (a Trustee) of the Society, and from 2008 to 2011 he was Deputy Chairman.

He died on 7th May 2024, in Spain, where he had retired.

A Welshman and a gentleman, devoted to the traditions of the Church. Requiescat in pace.


These photographs were taken at the Latin Mass Society's Priest Training Conference in London Colney Pastoral Centre in 2009.


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Monday, May 06, 2024

A Defence of Monarchy: podcast with Gavin Ashenden

This post on my podcast with Gavin Ashenden got forgotten about, so here it is. I have a page on my book with lots of resources, here.

My two-part conversation with Gavin Ashenden is now available, on the subject of a book I edited, A Defence of Monarchy: Catholics Under a Protestant King.

You can find them in your usual podcast platform, by searching for 'Gavin Ashenden' or 'Merely Catholic'. If you want direct links here they are:

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here (from 8 mins 30 seconds)

In the second part the discussion turns to the Papal monarchy,

Some endorsements of the book have now come in.

HE Eduard von Habsburg, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See

This is an incredibly interesting and well done book. It is especially valuable that it makes the argument in favour of even a weak monarchy, in its constitutional powers and even in terms of the personal commitments of it representatives. Instead of giving way to despair, the book encourages us to continue to appreciate the constitutional and symbolic importance of monarchy, while we wait for a monarchy that embodies Catholic principles in their fullness.

Fr Calvin Robinson, Patron of the British Monarchist Society

This book provides many lessons to Roman Catholics on why the British monarchy is a good thing; how Christians can be united around the British institution, even with our differences; and a staunch reminder that British heritage is undeniably Catholic, and a strong preserver of Catholic tradition through ceremonies such as the coronation and funeral services of the monarch. The last thing any traditionalist should want to see is the end of Catholic tradition.

Gavin Ashenden, Chaplain to the Queen 2008-2017

This excellent and intriguing new book edited by Dr Shaw, defending the monarchy from a Catholic perspective, offers not only an informed perspective on  constitutional developments and realities, but makes a powerful case that the monarchy we have offers us a great deal more than would a republic. It also serves as a defence of the integrity of Elizabeth II against under-informed anxieties held by some passionate defenders of the rights of the unborn child.  The grasp of constitutional and historical development makes refreshing reading for anyone interested in our constitutional settlement not only as a matter of history, but also to furnish us with ways of judging the political dilemmas a turbulent cultural future may present us with.

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Thursday, May 02, 2024

Fr John Hunwicke: a brief appreciation

The Vidi Aquam before Sunday Mass at the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat, after Easter, 2013.
Fr Hunwicke giving 'First Blessings' after his ordination in 2012, in the church of St Winifride,
Holywell, during the St Catherine's Trust Summer School and LMS Latin Course.

On Tuesday 30th April 2024, the feast of St Catherine of Siena, Fr John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, died.

He was a convert Anglican cleric, who was ordained as a Catholic priest in 2012. Although already retired by this time, he was always willing to put his great erudition and long experience of teaching to use for the cause of the Traditional Mass. 

Fr H. celebrating Mass for the Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat in 2022. The 
young server here was the recipient of the 'First Blessing' in the photo above.

As an Anglican, Fr Hunwicke was a ‘Papalist’, one who accepted the supremacy of the Pope in principle, and also a proponent of the Traditional Roman Rite, which he had learnt as a seminarian at St Stephen’s House in Oxford before the liturgical reform. He joined the Latin Mass Society as a ‘Friend’, since only Catholics can be full members.

For thirty years he taught Latin at Lancing College. His last post as an Anglican was to the ancient church of St Thomas the Martyr, near the railway station in Oxford.

Teaching Latin for the LMS Residential Latin Course, 2013

As a Catholic, a priest, and a supporter of the Latin Mass Society, he was willing to help in all sorts of ways. He took part as celebrant, deacon, or subdeacon in High Masses, in pilgrimages to Our Lady of Caversham, regular Masses at Holy Trinity Hethe, in SS Gregory & Augustine’s, and other places in the Oxford area and beyond. He led retreats for the Guild of St Clare and the St Catherine’s Trust. He taught in the Latin Mass Society’s Residential Latin Course, from soon after ordination, in 2012, until 2022, after which ill health made this impossible. He also took part in other initiatives, and for many years was a much-loved participant in the Roman Forum’s Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy, an annual, international Traditional Catholic gathering.

Celebrating High Mass in St David's, Pantasaph, 2013.

Wherever he went he was valued for his great wit and erudition, and also for his pastoral touch. Joining the ‘Roman Church’ was a momentous and courageous move, and some on our side of the Tiber had mixed feelings about a batch of new recruits who combined powerful intellects with strong characters. I like to think, nevertheless, that Traditional Catholics, such as those in the Latin Mass Society, made their appreciation of him clear.

He leaves a wife, children, and grandchildren.

As is our usual practice, the Latin Mass Society will organise a 'month's mind' Requiem for him, as someone who has made an important contribution to our work. Details will be published when confirmed.

Requiescat in pace.

Preaching at the SCT Summer School / Latin Course, 2014.

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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).




Monday, March 25, 2024

Mass of the Ages film, Part 3: Guardians of Tradition

In which I appear, among other people. They've put together a very interesting film, combining history, commentary, and personal stories. I hope it is watched by many people: please spread the word.


Parts 1 and 2, and other things, can be seen on their YouTube channel, here.

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Saturday, March 09, 2024

Walsingham Pilgrimage Volunteers needed, 5: First Aiders and photographers

A photo by a professional photographer, John Aron.
See what he's done with the depth of field?

Booking is now open for the LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham, which takes place from Thursday 22nd August to Sunday 25th August. But before we can welcome 200+ pilgrims, we need to be able to look after them. This is the last of these appeals, for two more categories of volunteers: First Aiders and photographers.

First Aiders need (at least) a certificate showing they have done a short course about it. These courses can be done in a single day and if you do one specially then the LMS will repay you the cost of the fee. (We'll pay for a First Aid bag for you as well of course.) Courses are done by St John's Ambulance and others and certificates last for three years. This is an opportunity to learn something useful and make yourself useful on the pilgrimage, and we'll even waive the pilgrimage fee.

We waive the fee because being a First Aider will change your pilgrimage experience. In breaks and at the end, your time is not your own: you'll have to make yourself available to the needs of others. On the road you may need to drop out to minister to a twisted ankle or a pilgrim with sun stroke. We'll get you a lift back to the column of course, but you will have a duty to your fellow-pilgrims first and foremost. It is a burden, and also a privilege.

Very few First Aid needs on the pilgrimage go beyond the very basic -- stinging nettles, blisters and (when it is hot) sun stroke cover about 90% of them -- but we absolutely need to have people to help with these, and less experienced First Aiders will be backed up by more experienced as required, with the support drivers available to get injured pilgrims to where they need to be.

Taken by me.

On photography, if we are to promote the pilgrimage from year to year we need photographs of it. We have a system of pilgrims' snaps being gathered up for social media but we do also need someone with a proper camera willing to take time out at regular intervals to take high-quality photos. This makes a huge difference to public perceptions of the event.

You might think: who cares what people can or can't see online? Actually, it is important. We walk down lanes and through villages, and passers' by see us, bearing witness to the Faith and to the significance of Walsingham as a sacred place. Photography magnifies this witness and extends it to people who are not physically there at 9am or whatever in some tiny Norfolk village. Photography is part of the apostolate.

So if you have a decent digital camera and know how to use it; if you are fit enough to get ahead of the column from time to time; if you understand the liturgy enough to get decent photographs of that: then let us know and we'll give you a big discount on your booking fee. And you can make some beautiful images of a truly remarkable event.

If you wish to be considered for these roles, please email

Another by John Aron.

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