19 February 2018

Fr H's Spring Examination

(1) "When I perceive resistance, I try to talk." In no more than a hundred words, discuss whether these words (spoken by someone who has refused to meet four Cardinals when they begged him for a meeting)indicate a seriously defective memory or merely a mind for which Truth is a tertiary consideration.
(2) "The question is not that of changing doctrine, but of digging deep and making sure that pastoral practice takes into account the situations and what persons are able to do."  In no more than 100 words, discuss how this Paradigm Shift should be applied either to a confirmed and recidivist paedophile or to a public servant assigned to extermination duties during a genocide. Credit will be given if you estimate how deep the digging should go.
(3) "You are, objectively, committing a very grave evil, and if you understood what you were doing, you would be heading for H**l. So, as I accompany you on your journey, my advice to you is to take care to remain in invincible ignorance, so that I can in good conscience advise you to approach the Sacraments". In no more than 100 words, discuss this advice in the light of Amoris laetitia.

18 February 2018

Pillula Dicit ('The Tablet says') UPDATED

Does PF really get 50 bits of paper handed to him each day, as Mr Lamb of the Tablet (infra) asserts? A different media outlet informs us that it is 100. One wonders what the figure will have been inflated to by the time Scicluna makes his report.

There are sections of the Tablet which you can read free on the Internet. I have to problem in Conscience about doing this: since I pay them nothing, I can, I hope, feel fairly confident that just reading it on my computer screen does not make me complicit in their promotion of their own version of Christianity.

In their latest number, my eye was caught by the headline "Zero tolerance is the only way". "Ah", I thought, "our old friend Pedophilia again". It's only a few weeks since PF assured us yet again that his own policy towards that vice is "Zero tolerance". But no; the Tablet reference was to a current problem in the British 'Charity' world. One of our biggest charities, Oxfam, appears to have been employing people whose motive was not so much to feed the poor as to get posted to impoverished countries where they could enjoy wall-to-wall sex at very advantageous rates. And there has been a sheepish acknowledgement that some of the human beings, made in the image of God, whom this sporcizia has been defiling, were probably children. So it is Pedophilia; or, to be fair, Pedophilia Plus.

Memories; memories. The first Oxfam outlet was, I think, in the Broad Street, near Thornton's Bookshop, now, sadly, no more. It was there ... the Oxfam shop, I mean, not Thornton's ... that as a very callow undergraduate I bought my first decanter. It was quite cheap because there was a chip off the stopper. Those were the furtive days when one concealed from one's guests that one was giving them 'South African Sherry'. I still use that decanter. Nowadays, of course, Oxfam promotes Abortion and Contraception, so, to be fair, their miscreant employees were doing nothing worse than consistently following a coherent and widespread ethical system shared by their own organisation: the prioritisation of sexual licence.

And in the same issue, you can discover how the Tablet recommends you pronounce Cupich; evidently ... oh dear ... the Pill thinks we are all going to be pronouncing that dismal disyllable quite often. And you can watch a video of Cardinal Soapy's Cambridge lecture with the questions and answers. Ever a thoughtful pastor, His Eminence explained that, in the Confessional, when we promise amendment, amendment means getting "closer to the ideal".

Please, dear Reader, forgive me for making, in what follows, a point I have made before.

Suppose, in the confessional, somebody confesses to child abuse, pleads diminished responsibilty on the grounds of sick obsession, so that his offences are subjectively no more than venial, and promises to "come closer to the ideal". Perhaps he says "I will cut my abuse down to just once a week". "I will only abuse boys/girls who genuinely seem to enjoy it". "I will be much less penetrative". That ... am I right? ... will, in the eyes of our new Bergoglian ethical Paradigm, constitute a move in the right direction, so that one can warmly commend and then absolve this penitent? Yes? Surely Yes?? At least, one ought not to "make the Confessional a Torture Chamber"? Have I got all this right? If not, why not?

I then moved on to a piece by Christopher Lamb. It concerns the letter which, apparently, Cardinal O'Malley was supposed to have handed to PF with regard to the Bishop Barros scandal. Lamb assures us (is this what the PF clique is now putting around in preparation for a cover-up?) that PF is handed 50 things a day and really can't be expected to look at them all. Really? Then PF's irritable outburst to the Press, claiming to have received no evidence, was rather ill-judged. And his infuriated suggestion that you should just send him the evidence is rather undercut by the fact that ... apparently ... he's unlikely to look at it even if you do. Lamb reminds us that, for PF, not a subtle man, 'reforming the Curia' means sackings, so that there are now fewer people around to help him look at those 50 troubling daily items. But Lamb's piece (the man is no fool) does show a real and growing unease about the shabby realities of this pontificate. If even the Pill is starting to notice ...

In the great big vulgar world of commerce, can there be any doubt that such a CEO would be facing strong pressures to consider his position?

Let's end back with Cupich. He seemed very uncertain about Holy Scripture. "I'd have to look that up"! And his interesting reliance on the deservedly well-known Dominical logion "I came not to teach you but to give you life" seems to overlook the popular murmur "He teaches not as one of the Scribes but with authority"; not to mention that great long section in S Matthew which people call 'The Sermon on the Mount', where the Man who is Torah Incarnate steals away our every sinful comfort with his insistent and prescriptive "But I say unto you".

Perhaps that 'Sermon' would be better Lenten reading than anything put out by PF and his sycophants. Especially if it were accompanied by revisiting the masterly dialogue between Professor Joseph Ratzinger and Rabbi Professor Jacob Neusner, in the middle volume of Jesus of Nazareth. Their exegesis of the Sermon is every bit as sparkling (and now even more relevant) as when they wrote it.

17 February 2018


Those of you who keep an eye on the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO [how to get one? See below] will have noticed that, after None today, before Vespers, those strange words are printed. "The Spring Part of the Breviary begins". Why on earth didn't the spring volume start on Ash Wednesday, with the beginning of the new season of Lent?

In earlier days, the First Sunday in Lent was given the title CAPUT QUADRAGESIMAE ... the Start of Lent. Because for most of the first millennium, there was no Ash Wednesday! The Gesima period continued up to the First Vespers of the Sunday.


The Church began with just the Easter Fast, of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Then a fast of 40 days was prefixed to the Easter Fast. That got us back to the First Sunday of Lent.

Then all that background was rather forgotten; and people began to say that, since Sundays are not a fast days, that gave us only 36 days of fasting.

So they added, in the eighth century, four days before the First Sunday to make up 40 days. So the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, of Quinquagesima Week were grabbed by Lent.

But it still remained true that the distinctive things about the Lenten Office ... in particular, the Lenten hymns and all that sort of thing ... didn't begin until the First Vespers of the Sunday. They still don't. Such is the laudable conservatism of the authentic Roman Rite!

That's why the clergy still don't pick up their Lenten Breviaries until the eve of Sunday.

So, for more that a thousand years, the Breviary Office did not bring all its Lenten features into play until four days after Latin Catholics had put ashes on their heads, and fasted, on Ash Wednesday!

BEHOLD the amazing conservatism of the Roman Rite ... until the Age of Hannibal Bugnini and his elite squad of elephants!


St Lawrence Press Ltd
59, Sandscroft Avenue,
WR12 7EJ

(I have no financial interest in this publication!!!)

16 February 2018

Num quid boni e Cantabrigia?

Definitely Yes. Have a gander at the perfectly spiffing questions posed to a certain foreign Cardinal by Professor John Rist ... still manifestly in his prime ...

Ephphatha, and be quick about it!

Soon after Amoris laetitia, Cardinal Farrell hinted heavily that Episcopal Conferences should consider that document and ... even more heavily and helpfully ... hinted exactly what the Holy Spirit (needless to say) required them to come up with. But quite a number of Conferences have still not broken the bonds of taciturnity. The Cardinal's aperient spittle and his potent ephphatha  have not yet been effective. There are now signs that pressures ... if I may mix my metaphors ... are afoot. Has the Secretariate of State been dropping hints?

It is no secret that the English and Welsh bishops have not been able to come to a common mind and, on present showing, appear unlikely to do so. I believe Cardinal Nichols' phrase was "We're not there yet". One of the Diocesans, clearly having in mind the teaching of Benedict XVI about the magisterium of diocesan bishops, had the proactive good sense to issue his own ambiguity-free diocesan guidelines very soon after the emergence of AL. Strangely, he has been given very little credit for being so quick off the mark in responding to a Bergoglian initiative.

It is my personal and completely unevidenced hypothesis that his Eminence's rather flowery letter to PF last year, informing him that his election was the work of the Spirit and that the Spirit guides him daily (very Cupichiste!), was an attempt to buy time and to assure PF that, despite the apparent delays of the English bishops, they are all to a man enthusiastic and hyperpapalist supporters of this pontificate.

What next?

What is new is the (albeit risible) suggestion of Cardinal Cupich and others that the dubia which abound in this area have now been all authoritatively resolved by a rather strange and far from clear paragraph or two in Acta Apostolicae Sedis. Punto, or whatever it is that Italians say.

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself the Chairman of your Episcopal Conference in these circumstances?

Pushy as ever, I will reveal to you what I, a strong Bergoglian, would do in order to breath new wind into the faltering sails of Amoris laetitia.

I would circulate my Venerable Brethren in my Conference with documents, to be discussed at the Eastertide Meeting of the Conference, explaining what in my view the current situation demands of them. Or I would agree with another like-minded and 'senior' member of the Conference for him to do it instead, so that it didn't seem that everything was my doing.

[A chance lecture by a visiting Bergoglian Cardinal to one of my country's newer universities would be a bonus, a real godsend!!!]

At the meeting, if one or two bishops still remained recalcitrant, I would express my regret that my colleagues had not been able to come together around a formula which could secure the unanimous majority required by the terms of Apostolos suos. I would then remind them that a document with a non-unanimous but large majority could still be sent to Rome and, if approved there, would have thus acquired full authority. To help them through the hoop, I would introduce a minute suggestion of a hint of an ambiguity into one sentence in the draft (or get one of my friends to propose it), like throwing a bone to a dog, so that they could use that to salve their consciences and save their faces.

If this still failed to inspire the troublesome minority to see sense, I would go for the nuclear option of sending such a resolution to Rome, at the same time making clear to 'Rome' which of my brethren constituted the non-juring minority. Possibly I might also drop some quiet words into the Nuncio's ear about "how difficult it is to work with" X and/or Y.

But ... dreadful thought ... suppose there were to be a change of pontificate right in the middle of all this pro-Amoris activity ... After all, to adapt a witticism of Dom Gregory Dix, eventually even the most single-minded pontiff has rest from his labours, and it is surprising how often the lance of his successor delivers the Church from the dangers posed by some quite different windmill.

What's that phrase about creeks and paddles ...

15 February 2018

PARADIGM SHIFTS and Fr H's Conscience

Cardinal Cupich is not the only person to suggest that a "Paradigm Shift" has occurred in this pontificate.

I am not sure what a Paradigm Shift, precisely, is. Words are malleable things, and it is quite possible that some eirenic person could elaborate a henotikon defining the phrase in a way that could be conformable with my Conscience, acceptable, as we now have to say, to the "aboriginal Vicar of Christ" within me.

[For example: Benedict XVI condemned the notion which, as he said, grew up after Vatican II, that "A pope can do anything". Was this his most laudable condemnation a Paradigm Shift? Surely not. I would strongly prefer to discern it as merely a return to sound Tradition which had been ignored by wickedly ambitious men; and the condemnation of a corrupt tyranny which ought never to have been allowed to seize power in the first place.]

But at this present moment and in this particular context, I understand the words 'Paradigm shift' as indicating a radical restructuring contra Scripturam et Traditionem of the basic grammar of Christian belief or practice so that, by a touch of this Circean wand, X is transformed to become non-X. So I find the formula unacceptable in Conscience. I would be willing formally to repudiate it. Vatican I did not say  "The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might publish new doctrines, but so that by His help they might shift the paradigms". What Vatican I did say, I hope the readers of this blog know rather better than some eminent individuals appear to.

So, if Cardinal Cupich were able to assure me categorically and convincingly that PF really has shifted a paradigm, my Conscience, ineluctably potent within me, would compel me to retort "So you too are now accusing the Holy Father of propagating and promoting heresy. Excellent! Welcome to the fold! Have a drink! I'm sure you would like to subscribe to the Filial Correction. Let me lend you my pen!"

14 February 2018

Germanic Schisms

At the start of Lent, you could do little better than to read Archbishop Chaput's admirable Pastoral Letter. It manages to get one thinking on the Vatican's China policy; on the heathen pseudo-morality of AL ... and does so with great brevity and an engaging pastoral lightness of touch. He begins with the Vatican's Concordat with Nazi Germany.

The esence of that Concordat ... of doing a deal with the Spirit of the Age, the Zeitgeist ...  is still not dead in Germany; or, indeed, anywhere else.

As I understand it ... correct me if I'm wrong ... in Germany, if you withdraw from paying your Church Tax, the Marxenkirche (correct me if I've got my German wrong) will excommunicate you. So an orthodox Catholic can't withdraw from financial complicity in the heterodox doings of the German episcopate without being deprived of the Sacraments.

Clearly, there ought to be pastoral and sacramental provision made for the victims of such an ugly tyranny. I'm sure (correct me if I'm wrong) the SSPX would happily make such provision as far as its ministry can reach. But Germany is a big country for which to assume the pastoral responsibility when one only has 600 priests to cover the whole world. What about the Ecclesia Dei communities? How willing would they be to share responsibility, against the will of the German bishops, for orthodox laity excluded from the Sacraments in retaliation for their orthodoxy?

I have a very great deal of respect for those bodies which faithfully, laudably, bravely, maintain liturgical orthopraxy. But I am occasionally a little uneasy if they are not publicly clearly seen to act upon the link between sound and safe liturgy, and orthodoxy in the area of dogma and the Church's moral teaching. Correct me if I am being unjust in saying this. It may be that I have not heard of statements, declarations, etc.. And I certainly appreciate that if one is a Superior, one has to be aware of the disastrous harm one might inflict on communities for which one is responsible, if one angers a local Ordinary, whether in Germany or anywhere else. And I am in no position to lecture anybody else, because I myself live off pension income and need be beholden to nobody. But ....

It is, for example, very natural to be joyful about the fact that a prelate 'gives' you a church for the authentic liturgy ... comes and celebrates the Old Rite with you .... even does Old Rite Ordinations for you. I like fine churches and graceful liturgy quite as much as anybody else. But what if the same man's policies in the ethical sphere were Bergoglian?

Is a time coming when carefully sitting on fences may itself be a schismatic deviation from witnessing to the Truth?

And I pose these as genuinely questions.

But I rather think Archbishop Chaput has just answered them.

13 February 2018


For years, sensible people have been asking me about the possibility of buying a 'study copy' of Divine Worship the Missal. I have always passed on your requests. Now the (British) Catholic Truth Society(CTS) have come up to the mark. It is a limited run.

I hope this will lead to renewed interest in a very worthwhile initiative. It is absolutely the to-die-for liturgy for those who want a vernacular Catholic liturgy in the 'tudor' liturgical English dialect of Anglican public worship.

Don't be put off by the fact that it rather shamefacedly permits the ultra-short Eucharistic Prayer to be optionally used on some weekdays. The Roman Canon is clearly presented as our normative Eucharistic Prayer.

Cupich (3)

In the text of Cupich's Cambridge lecture, he acknowledges a widely felt problem: "While admitting that different cultural realities call for different pastoral conclusions, this is not to suggest that the existence of widely varying teachings among regions (or dioceses) is a positive element in Church life. There is still a dilemma that needs further attention and and study lest we end up with opposing magisterial directives even within regions which share a similar culture and realities in family life".

Indeed. It has often been pointed out that you already get a different magisterial answer by taking that single perilous footstep which carries you from Poland into Germany. [And I seem to remember that PF sanctioned the reaction  of the Polish bishops to AL as being proper for their country ... does anyone know a reference for that?] It would certainly be highly amusing if one had in this country a different AL hermeneutic in, say, Shrewsbury and Liverpool.

Cupich goes on to sunder this particularly Gordian knot.

"In this regard, PF has now offered a pathway forward* with the publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedes [sic] of his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires and their Pastoral which confirms that their interpretation of Amoris authentically reflects his mind as being official Church teaching. It will now be up to all in the Church, particularly the hierarchy, to respond in a spirit of affective and effective collegiality with the Successor of Peter ...".

So, although Cupich only a minute or two earlier referred to PF's own stress upon "the importance of local variation in our global Church", when the whotsit hits the thingummy there is only one valid understanding of AL. And guess which one that is ...

In an earlier age, one might have wondered how well mannered it was for a foreign bishop to visit our shores so as to lecture our bishops ("it will now be up to ... the hierarchy ...") on how they should understand their duty. But we must understand that Blase Cupich is riding high, wearing that red hat which by tradition would have gone to the occupant of a different American See; and intoxicated with the sweet wine of pontifical favour.

His words constitute one of the most aggressive ... and totally unacceptable ... assertions so far of an extremist and absurdly simplistic misunderstanding of the role within the Church Militant of the Roman Bishop.

When Catholic professional ecumenists discuss the Roman Primacy with non-Catholics, do they, I wonder, make clear that (once unity has been established) all discussion about a particular point at issue must instantly come to an end as soon as something is published in AAS? If not, perhaps they should start being honest enough to make it clear. Or else to disown this novel superstition.

*Notice a fine piece of weaselspeak: Cupich means that, in his view, PF has authoritatively imposed something. In weaselspeak, this becomes "has offered a pathway forward". Observe also the equivalence apparently made: 'his [PF's] mind' = 'official Church teaching". Things get better and better!

12 February 2018

Cupich (2)

I have to rely upon second-hand accounts of how things went in the Q&A session which followed the Cambridge lecture. But I gather that His Eminence launched into lengthy and impassioned assertions of the the authority of the Magisterium. The answer offered to one questioner was the further question (asked in deeply shocked tones) as to whether those expressing doubts or concerns about Amoris laetitia perhaps failed to believe that the Pope was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in writing it. Thus the Magisterium was invoked not only in all its panoply, but in that crude form which, in the heyday of the old Catholic Evidence Guild, that Guild's speakers justly dismissed as being a misinformed Protestant or rationalist notion of what Infallibility means in Catholic theology.

More, later, on Cupich, Deo volente.

11 February 2018

Grisez ... the obituaries

Germain Grisez was one of the great 'traditional' Catholic moral thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. His valiant battles in defence of Humanae vitae will undoubtedly be brought to our attention by other 'traditional' obituarists; and rightly. This 50th anniversary of that monumental encyclical must, as I said only a few days ago, be our occasion to revisit that document, to know it, to realise its importance in the current crisis facing the whole state of Christ's Church Militant here in Earth. Grisez, together with John Finnis (see below) have, of course, been forthright in their treatment of Amoris laetitia. Christian Moral Philosophy is a coherent interlocking system.

Call me a dreadful old cynic, but just possibly some of those other obituarists may slightly forget another ethical battle which Grisez fought, together with Boyle and Finnis. In their masterly Nuclear deterrence of 1988, Oxford University Press, they examined the fundamental building blocks of the 'Deterrence' doctrine which lay and lie at the basis of the policies of both America and her satellites, and, of course, also of the Russian Federation. In the light of the Church's teaching about the Just War, they concluded that these policies cannot be anything other than totally immoral.

This conclusion, of course, was the same as that of a great warrior for Christian Tradition and Ethics in the dark days of the 'Council', Cardinal Ottaviani.

(I sha'n't enable comments which disagree with this conclusion unless it is abundantly clear to me that a writer has carefully read and understood the book Nuclear Deterrence. It hardly seems respectful to the memory of someone as truly great as Grisez to write uninformed criticism of his work when he has just died. In any case, at most times I rather dislike attacks on traditional Christian ethics.)

10 February 2018


I have declined to enable a small number of comments.

I am not averse to enabling robustly critical comments about PF himself and about the sycophants with whom he surrounds himself.

But just watch how you do it. Moreover, the more critical you are, the more you need to show, carefully and logically and factually, the grounds upon which you draw your critical conclusions.

You do not make any contribution to solving the crisis in the Church Militant if you just write nasty abuse without careful argumentation to back it up.

I have hitherto allowed some borderline comments. In future, I will be stricter.

I understand and sympathise with the wounds which PF's personality and actions have created in many minds and lives. But I would rather you refrained from merely letting off steam and doing so abusively.

Furthermore, understanding is spreading. A piece which has just popped up on the Catholic Herald website uses the Barros scandal to raise questions like whether PF is fully in command of his faculties; whether, rather than being part of the problem, he  is  the problem. The 'Mainstream', gradually, is becoming less timid. Pennies are dropping. This is not the moment to give the world what hesitant and undecided people will conclude is evidence that PF's critics are unpleasant nutters. Always ask yourself "How will this sound to someone who is sitting on the fence?"

I urge people to keep their heads and say their prayers and, if they find these two suggestions too difficult, to keep quiet.