21 February 2018

Sedevacantism

Readers will be aware that I do not enable any comments which even delicately hint at anything even remotely like Sedevacantism. Even if a Bishop of Rome were personally a heretic, even if, like Pope Honorius I, he actually promoted and propagated heresy, he would still be pope. I have no doubt whatsoever about this. And it is the duty of every Catholic to be in Full Communion with him. Sedevacantism is illogical and unhistorical rubbish.

But I must admit that I have no worked-out solution to the following very hypothetical hypothesis.

Suppose a pope were, additionally, to require of every Catholic explicit assent ex animo to heresy as a necessary condition for Communion with himself, what would be the situation?

I think this is humanly impossible in the current pontificate, because PF likes to operate by creating a mess and being imprecise and trusting to Time being more powerful than Space. It is inconceivable that he would waste the energy which would be needed to be precise enough to specify a heresy in a way that would be juridically watertight. Moreover, he would run the risk of putting himself in danger, and I think he is far too fly an individual to do that. Genuinely, I am asking about something genuinely hypothetical.

I'm not terribly keen on receiving lots of ranting comments, either one way or the other. But I would value sober and sensible materials for a solution to this problem. Especially, historical analogues. Unless you feel that this scenario, like an erroneous ex cathedra definition, is something the Holy Spirit can be relied on simply to prevent.

Does S Athanasius ...

And, yes, poor Dr Doellinger is a terrible warning to us all about the dangers inherent in getting answers to this sort of question wrong ...

20 February 2018

Aidan Nichols, Amoris laetitia, and Tucho

In his lecture on the current crisis in the Roman Magisterium, the full text of which, sadly, is not available, Fr Aidan Nichols justly oberved that the moral 'teaching' of Amoris laetitia, if not corrected, will "increasingly be regarded as at the very least an acceptable theological opinion. And that will do more damage than can easily be repaired".

In fact, the currently dominant tendenz has made no secret that this is precisely the plan: a plot to poison the very wells of magisterial teaching. As Archbishop Fernandez has publicly put it, "There's no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he has already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore in the future anybody can repeat those things without being sanctioned".

There have been heretical popes in the past, but I doubt if there has often been a pope who (according to one of his closest collaborators and admirers) has cunningly plotted to enable heterodox teaching to erupt and flourish  under his successor(s); and thus to undermine in advance the teaching of future popes. Strangling renascent orthodoxy before it has the chance to be born, if you will forgive my descent into rhetoric.

Did even Pope Honorius I dare to attempt that?

Fr Aidan Nichols and the people "who ought to know better" UPDATED

Since, mysteriously, the full text of Fr Aidan Nichols' lecture will not be made available, we must make the most of the passages which the Catholic Herald published. [UPDATE: See my post of earlier today.]

By the way: that lecture is highly important, and not only because of Dr Nichols' considerable theological prestige. It addressed the points that some of us did our best to articulate in our Correctio. I do beg you to read and reread it, and to pass its teaching on to as many people as you can. [UPDATE: As the bergoglian pressure-machine cranks up into top gear, pressing for a final Result, interventions such as Fr Aidan's ought to be as widely known as possible.]

Today, I give you Fr Aidan's words on whether popes can teach error.

"It is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly ... this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better." [UPDATE: I wonder if poor Cupich is aware of this.]

"Doctrinal howlers". Gerhard Cardinal Mueller reminded us ... aptly ... of the abrupt observation of S Robert Bellarmine to the pope of his own day: "Holy Father, you know nothing about that."

Fr Aidan Nichols, and the Amoris laetitia Crisis UPDATED

A correspondent asks me why Fr Aidan Nichols doesn't speak up about Amoris laetitia. He did so. I republish below an updated piece I wrote about the lecture in which he did just that.

 Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. The Catholic Herald gave a report on 18 August 2017, which is still there, only a google away.  I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty laundry in front of non-Catholics?

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; the man who insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and iterated fluency can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But, as you will forgive me for reminding you, I have often tried to explain on this blog that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which can make any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. Such a papacy is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to consider. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis. Nor should they accept it, because it is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]"

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, since Amoris laetitia, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the noisy bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to show that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often loudly called.


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

INCIPIT PARS VERNA BREVIARII

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.

HOW DID ALL THIS FASTING STUFF BEGIN?

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!

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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

ORDINARIATE MISSAL £65

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.