Saturday, 31 January 2009

Traditional Benedictine Use Ordo for week beginning 1 February

Saturday 31 January: St John Bosco, memorial

First Vespers of the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Farnborough Monastic Diurnal, MD 149*

Sunday, 1 February: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

MD 149*

Monday, 2 February: Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary , Class II(end of Christmastide)

MD [47-52]

At Compline: Ave Regina Caelorum

Tuesday, 3 February: St Blase, Memorial

Lauds: MD [52]

[In Canberra, first vespers of the Dedication of a Church, MD (106)]

Wednesday, 4 February: feria/In Canberra: Dedication of St Christopher's Cathdral, Class I (MD (114)

Roman EF: St Andrew Corsini, B, Conf

Thursday, 5 February: St Agatha, Class III

MD [52-57]

Friday, 6 February: feria

Roman EF: St Titus, B, Conf

Saturday, 7 February: St Romuald, Class III

MD [58]

First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday, MD 153*. Laus tibi... replaces the Alleluia.

Friday, 30 January 2009

SSPX, Traditional Anglicans, and Obamaism....a few updates

A few interesting developments to ponder as we continue to swelter in this appalling heatwave (for overseas readers, Eastern Australia is sweltering with forecasts of temperatures over 35 degrees for the next week or so, and some of our major cities experiencing electricity blackouts and major transport breakdowns as temperatures hit 44 degreess celsius (111 F) yesterday and today)!


First remember those claims that the SSPX would not have to accept Vatican II because it wasn't 'dogma'? Well, surprise, surprise the Pope has firmly stomped on that, reiterating at a General Audience that:

"I trust that following from this gesture of mine will be the prompt effort on their part to complete final necessary steps to arrive to full communion with the Church," the Bishop of Rome said, "thus giving testimony of true fidelity and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope and the Second Vatican Council."

Now there is a certain irony in this. As a theologian after all, the Pope wrote, in an epilogue to his book on Principles of Catholic Theology that:

"Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have just been a waste of time."

Nonetheless the point is that the Magisterium as it stands has to be treated with respect - even if in the end the historical significance of the Council "will be determined by the process of clarification and elimination that takes place subsequently in the life of the Church."

Traditional Anglican Communion

The second piece of important news is rumours - reported in WA's The Record - that the TAC will be admitted to full communion at Easter, with the protection of a personal prelature. Their conservative influence could make a big difference in places like Brisbane for example (where one of my classmates is a TAC priest), where the TAC is quite strong, and where I gather local traditionalist a attended a talk on the state of play last night.

Various reports around the net suggest that the delays have been due to the need to sort through and get proper approval for the wide assortment of liturgical texts used by the TAC.

Life issues: a call to action

And finally, its time to start gearing up folks. In the wake of President Obama's decision to allow foreign aid funds to be used for abortions, a push has started to have Australia rescind its similar restrictions. On weekend, the Age carried a claim that the Government was under 'strong cross party pressure' (see Cooees). Now left-wing e-journal New Matilda is pushing the argument. Time to start emailing your Senator folks...

Pope on You tube

And while you are at it, annoy the folks at New Matilda for their outrageous anti-catholic jab at the Pope in a so-called horoscope (OK, it is supposed to be humour, but really...), and go and take a look at the new Vatican you tube channel if you haven't already. It really is quite cool...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

On the Holocaust ** updated

I received a comment which I don't propose to put up wanting to continue the Holocaust debate (given that I had already indicated that this topic was pretty much closed), and claiming Williamson was 'set up'.

I was tempted to just ignore it altogether, but some helpful materials on this subject popped into my email box this morning from Sandro Magister, including some comments from the Pope at a General Audience this week, and an article from L'Osservatore Romano.


Was Williamson set up? Give me a break. Firstly the man has been totally consistent in expressing his loopy views on this and other subjects over a long period of time. Secondly, anyone who does media interviews should either know what they are doing or get some training on how to do them. If they can't work out how to avoid answering questions they don't want to answer, don't go on camera!

The man's comments managed to completely sabotage what was always going to be a tricky public relations exercise and deserves no sympathy whatsoever. I'm with Damian Thompson on this: the sooner Williamson goes off and joins the SSPV or forms his own little schism the better it will be for the rest of the SSPX. That said, prayers for someone's conversion are always appropriate.

**Latest reports say that Bishop Willimason has written to the Pope to apologise for his reckless statements. So perhaps everyone's prayers on this subject are having an impact...


Secondly, the commenter raises the question of what constitutes anti-semitism. Now I admit that this is a complex question, given that there are nuances around differences between anti-semitism and anti-zionism and so forth. All the same, let me give you a little catechism dear reader.

In the case of the 'isms' - anti-semitism, racism, anti-Americanism etc, the issue is arbitrarily lumping a whole group of people together and tarring them with the same brush. Whether you choose to use the term 'hate' or 'dislike' is irrelevant in my view - the fact is that you are making a judgment that is almost certainly based on at best simplistic generalizations or more likely caricatures of reality.

It is alright to dislike or even hate things individuals or groups of people do or say. We can hate or dislike ideas, things or places.

And sometimes we do talk about 'disliking' someone as a kind of shorthand when we really mean that I hate something in particular (or quite a few things) that x says or does.

But we actually do have a duty to love our neighbour whoever they are - remember the saying 'love the sinner, hate the sin' (not to mention that pesky commandment)?

The Pope on the Holocaust

Note also the Pope's comments this week:

"In these days during which we commemorate the Holocaust, I am reminded of the images that I encountered on my repeated visits to Auschwitz, one of the concentration camps in which the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews took place, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hatred.

As I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our Brothers who were the recipients of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Holocaust may induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.

May the Holocaust be for all an admonition against forgetting, against denial or reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, as a well-known poet wrote.

May the Holocaust especially teach to both the old and the new generations that it is only the laborious journey of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness that leads the peoples, cultures, and religions of the world to the desired destination of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again humiliate the dignity of man!"

Anti-semitism and holocaust denial

Finally there was an excellent article on this in the January 26-27 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano" by Anna Foa:

"Denial of the Holocaust is not an historiographic interpretation, it is not a school of interpretation of the Nazi extermination of the Jews, it is not a radical form of historical revisionism, and it must not be confused with this.

Holocaust denial is a lie that covers itself with the veil of history, that takes on a scientific, objective appearance, in order to cover up its true origin, its true motivation: antisemitism.

A Holocaust denier is also an antisemite. And in a world like that of the West, where it is not easy to call oneself an antisemite, he may be the only clear and evident antisemite. Anti-Jewish hatred is at the origin of this denial of the Holocaust, which began in the early years after the war, linking itself intellectually to the very project of the Nazis, when they covered the traces of the extermination camps, razed the gas chambers to the ground, and mocked the deportees, telling them that even if they were able to survive, no one in the world would believe them.

Denial of the Holocaust cuts across political boundaries, it is not linked only to the Nazi extreme right, but embraces different tendencies: the most extreme pacifism, anti-Americanism, hostility to modernity....

Denial of the Holocaust applies itself in particular to demonstrating that the gas chambers did not exist, through complex technical arguments: they wouldn't have worked, they would have needed extremely tall chimneys, and so on....

Today, denial of the Holocaust is considered a crime in many European countries, although part of public opinion remains wary – as does this author – of turning liars into martyrs by putting them in prison.

Finally, there is no lack of those who support denial of the Holocaust as part of opposition to Israel. It must be repeated, however, that there is only one motive, one intention, behind denial of the Holocaust: antisemitism. All the rest is lies. "

You can read the full article and much more over at chiesa.

If you have any comments on this, please email me offline on and I will consider whether or not to post it.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

SSPX update: An Apology **

A few interesting developments.

Fellay apologises...

First, Zenit reports that Bishop Fellay has apologised for Bishop Williamson's Holocaust denial statements, and instructed him to remain silent on these issues. He said:

"With great sadness we acknowledge the extent to which the violation of this mandate has damaged our mission," he continued.

"The statements of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any way the position of our society."

Bishop Fellay said that until further notice Bishop Williamson has been prohibited from speaking on political and historical matters.

Zenit reports that the superior-general asked "for the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act," which said were "not acceptable."

One can only say thank goodness - but it should have happened a lot sooner. Like before the lifting of the excommunications was announced, and the secular media milked the issue for all it was worth.


***I reported on a commission to facilitate this...but realised today that was actually very old news, oops, sorry! Trying to do too many things at once at the moment and the heat of these very hot summer days is getting to me...a little blogging break may be in order!

News round-up

A number of organisations have welcomed the lifting of the SSPX excommunications. For those of particular local interest see:

Requiem Mass for Mr Harold Tattersall

Rorate Caeli , via Chris Stewart (photos) and Michael Sternbeck, has some nice shots of the requiem mass held on Monday for Fr Glenn Tattersall's father in the presence of Archbishop Hart. Bishop Eliot assisted in choir, and a large number of clergy (including from interstate) and seminarians.

Adelaide memories...

A little old now, but Tom Kwok has some nice photos of Fr Mannes' ordination last year are up at the Thomas Peregrinus blog.

More upcoming FSSP ordinations...

Not unfortunately for Australia or New Zealand this time, but please do keep upcoming sub-diaconate ordinations (31 January), diaconate (March) and priestly (May) ordinations in your prayers. You can find the list of ordinands here.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

What is the status of Vatican II? A Guide to the debate, Part I

A reader alerted me to an intriguing reference on Rorate Caeli to claims that the SSPX will not be required to accept Vatican II, since it is 'not a dogma of faith'.

Equally intriguing were the terms of the Institute of Good Shepherd's reconciliation with Rome in 2006 under which they were reportedly required 'to have a positive attitude of study and communication with the Apostolic See, avoiding all controversy, (...) regarding certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or regarding subsequent reforms of the liturgy and of the law, and which seem to us hardly reconcilable with Tradition.'

One wonders if the FSSP and others are operating under a similar prohibition, perhaps explaining their public silence on many of these issues.

In any case, the SSPX presumably are not going to accept a formulation of this kind, so I thought it might be useful to set out a few points that might help make sense of this debate.

Now this is difficult, hotly contested ground - take a look, for example, at the exchanges that have been going on in AD 2000 over the last year on this subject. Nonetheless, I'll give you my take on the subject, sticking as much as possible to the commonly agreed ground, and see if anyone wants to jump in and correct or debate me!

Canon Law

A useful starting point is the current Code of Canon Law which distinguishes between three levels of Church teaching:

  • the things we must believe (or must reject) (CL 750-1), irreformable propositions defined 'definitively' by the Church and protected by infallibility - rejection of these truths is heresy or apostasy;

  • formal - but potentially reformable - propositions put by the Pope (or bishops) in the course of his normal teaching (CL 752-3) - to which we are required to give 'religious submission'. It is worth noting that there are different levels of importance in the 'ordinary magisterium' (note though that there can be 'Ordinary Solemn' teachings - I'm not talking about them here);

  • pastoral constitutions and decrees which we are obliged to observe (CL 754).
First, a couple of key points to note.

  • Heresy vs doubts about the ordinary magisterium

The first and most obvious point to make is that heresy and apostasy (total rejection of Christianity) are grave offenses with serious consequences (at least in theory), including automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).

Someone who rejects potentially reformable teaching isn't in that category. Nonetheless, where a person teaches a doctrine condemned by the Pope or a Council, or obstinately rejects a non-definitive teaching of the Magisterium they can still be punished after a proper process (CL1371).

  • Propositions not positions
I've talked about 'propositions'. When we talk about infallibility, what is protected is the actual formal proposition relating to faith or morals - truths, facts intrinsically connected to revealed truth, or truths of reason (such as philosophic presuppositions). We have to accept the proposition itself, but we don't necessarily (depending on how connected it is to the truth) have to accept the reasoning or theological arguments that lead up to a particular teaching.

So if a Pope writes an encyclical - or a Council issues a document - we will obviously want to study it carefully and pay due deference to it given its authorship and importance, but we aren't (unless the Pope specifically says so) absolutely bound to accept that reasoning.

So for example, in relation to Council documents, it is perfectly acceptable for a theologian to argue (as the current Pope has in the past) that some paragraphs of Gaudium et Spes for example appear unduly Pelagian in character, seem naive, or are difficult to reconcile with past teaching. What matters in the end (not withstanding the obvious importance of studying the reasoning) is the conclusions that come from the document, not the reasoning used to get there.

So how does this apply to Vatican II?

Despite all the talk about how Vatican II was a pastoral, not dogmatic Council, I think it is pretty clear that it actually engages on all of these levels:

  • it refers to and reiterates propositions that have previously been taught infallibly and which must be accepted - but probably doesn't teach any 'new' dogma, see below;
  • it puts a number of propositions that seem like 'new' but non-infallible teaching;
  • it makes a large number of pastoral decisions.

What is most debatabed is whether the Council made any new infallible definitions, or proposed some new, potentially reformable teachings. I think the traditionalist perspective is no to the first but yes to the second (with a fairly strong view from some that those reformable teachings may be erroneous and need to be reformed!).

Are there any new dogmatic definitions in Vatican II documents?

It is true that Councils (provided their teachings are confirmed by the Pope) can teach 'solemnly' (infallibly).

In the past, Councils that wanted to make solemn, infallible definitions did so extremely clearly, carefully delineating exactly what was covered with the 'anathema sit' formula to show exactly what of the documents Catholics had to accept.

Lumen Gentium itself makes it clear that you have to pretty much spell out that a particular proposition is being made solemnly for it to be taken as such. Canon Law (CL 749, 'No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident') reinforces that. Vatican II didn't do that for any proposition, and a series of Popes (including the current one before he became Pope) have said that it did not make any solemn pronouncements. That hasn't stopped some people claiming that it has however!

Ordinary magisterium?

The more serious questions, however, I think relate to its non-definitive teachings and some of its pastoral decisions. Some have suggested that a Council can't, by definition, pronounce 'ordinary magisterium'. I think that is overly literalist, and demonstrably incorrect by reference to past Councils.

Others find its propositions, reasoning and arguments hard to reconcile with past solemn or ordinary magisterium - and this is, I think where the real debate with the SSPX lies.

There are certain limited circumstances where debate is permissible in this area. Generally, it is limited in theory at least to theologians behind closed doors, but of course that doesn't match up closely to reality today!

It is in this realm that the Pope has argued that we simply need to apply the 'hermaneutic of continuity' in order to understand the Council correctly. And some traditionalists have done serious work on some doctrines - such as religious liberty - and found ways of reconciling Council teaching with past dogma.

Most traditionalists, however, remain to be convinced on at least some points in relation to the Council.

Pastoral decisions

There are also some big questions on the current status of its various pastoral decisions. One key question of course is the distinction between purely pastoral decisions - on which we can (normally at least, in accordance with CL 212)legitimately make our concerns known - and magisterial teaching.

Take ecumenism for example. I'd argue that the Council's more positive view of our 'separated brethren' is a matter of perspective, a decision that reflects pastoral judgments about the times rather than a fundamental development of doctrine.

I'd also argue that the majority of the pastoral decisions were permissive - allowing but not compelling us for example to attend religious services of ecclesial communities, or use the vernacular in the mass for example - rather than requiring us to do anything. Unfortunately, they've often been treated as dogma by 'spirit of Vatican IIists'.

The biggest problem though is that some of the justifications for many of the decisions look to many traditionalists like utter misreadings of 'the signs of the times', were often based on misinterpretations of history, employ dodgy-looking theology and weak anthropology. Unsurprising then, from a traditionalist perspective, tht they've had a disastrous effect on the health of the Church. The SSPX and traditionalists generally have been reasonably vocal on many of these issues.

While we are bound to obey the decisions, some of them have actually been since overridden (viz Summorum Pontificum for example). Some (take a look at the stuff on decision making structures in the decree on the laity) have been tried, failed, and have been quietly allowed to die.

In other cases, though, we seem to be locked into a debate between those who, notwithstanding the manifest problems they've caused rather than just saying, 'Done, let's move on', want to try again and get the implementation right this time around (for example 'reform of the reform'). And I think this is the biggest potential area for the debate with the SSPX and other traditionalists to engage on.

The bottom line

I think we do have to accept that Vatican II was a legitimately convened Ecumenical Council whose decrees were properly approved.

We do have to obey those of its decrees still in force.

But there is a lot of room for debate in the middle ground of reasoning, rationales and results of the pastoral decisions, and around potentially reformable teaching.

So is it 'dogma'? In general, no.

But do we have to take it seriously and give it appropriate deference and respect? Yes.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Australia Day: the case for some patriotism in the cause of life

Today is Australia Day, our national day, and I thought it might be a good chance to talk about tactics in the culture wars ahead, and our a rediscovery of a true patriotism could aid our cause.

Australians are ambivalent when it comes to patriotism

While American Catholics at times seem to confuse the proper order of fealty, often putting country before catholicism (witness voting for Obama despite his appalling record on life issues, already being put into practice through Executive decrees), Australians are rarely given to over the top displays of patriotism - except of course when it comes to sport (oy, oy, oy!).

The problem is that Australians don't put their catholicism first either - rather, in the main, they find it hard to articulate just what they do support.

In fact on one recent Australia Day I was subjected to a sermon from a senior Adelaide cleric arguing, if I understood him correctly, that patriotism, particularly when manifested in things like requiring immigrants to accept the country as they find it rather than converting it to their taste (including to their religion and its legal structures in the form of Sharia law) was a very bad thing - the last refuge of the scoundrel and all that.

But in fact of course, the Church's teaching is that patriotism - a reasonable esteem and love of country, together with a willingness to sacrifice him or herself to its welfare if necessary - is a virtue and a duty.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Australians struggle on this front. Australia Day itself, after all, is the anniversary of the arrival of the convict First Fleet in Sydney, bringing many of our ancestors, guilty in most cases of what seem today the most trivial of crimes, committed out of desperation, in chains under a brutal regime. Australia's first British colony was founded not on noble ideas, but, those in the other (non-convict) Australian colonies claimed, out of the 'cesspit of England'...

Moreover, the name of the day itself is actually the product of religious sectarianism: Irish Catholic leaders first used it to rechristen 'Empire Day' (the birthday of Queen Victoria), engendering stout protests from protestants at the time (hmm, another good reason for patriotism!).

And aboriginals have, from the 1930s onward, treated it as a public day of mourning, a day when their country was seized from them.

They created a country...

Yet despite Australia's unpromising beginnings, earlier generations found no difficulty lauding Australia's great achievements in creating a great nation out of such diverse elements.

Within twenty years of that landing, celebration of that anniversary, and the creation of the new colony had started.

The heroism of our troops at Gallipoli and many subsequent wars both helped define how we were different from our British forebears and attested to the fact that we had something worth defending.

The nation building that followed World War II, aided by the huge influx of European, and subsequently Asian, migrants helped make Australia the dynamic, powerful and cosmopolitan country it is today.

Australians enjoy a country that is amazingly diverse geographically; that has extraordinary resources, both physical and human. Despite our whinges, most Australians enjoy a wonderful lifestyle that would be the envy of our predecessors.

So why aren't we as proud of it as we should be?

Of course there are challenges, new and old, we have to face up to.

But nothing - beyond the rejection of God and embrace of secularism - that really explains why Australia, like many Western countries, seems to have rather lost its commitment to preserving its distinctiveness in recent decades.

We seem to see-saw endlessly between extreme multiculturalism on the one hand and bursts of xenophobia and racism on the other.

Our obsession with our sporting teams performance seems to me to be an example of the death throws of our attachment to our country - a shallow commitment showing itself as an 'our country right or wrong' mentality that encourages bad behaviour rather than excellent role models.

Similarly, increasingly, the individual adult's 'right' to indulge themselves - treating children as if they were a commodity to be chosen like a consumer good without a right to life, known biological parents, or a mother and father for example - is being accorded a higher priority than the common good of the nation.

It is true that we are not yet as far gone as some countries - there is still some pride in our national institutions and history for example, 'history wars' not withstanding.

But like many Western countries, an increasing number of young people have been brainwashed into thinking that more children means more global warming - instead of realising that, even if one accepts the hypothesis of global warming, it is our greedy, consumerist culture, not demographics that is the problem.

And not realising that the failure to have children means the death of the good aspects of our culture as we know it. Like many Western countries we face a demographic winter that in our case can seemingly be counteracted only by continued high levels of immigration, which in turn fuels the forces of change in our culture almost inexorably given the unwillingness of successive governments to insist on our character as a Christian nation.

Patriotism as a force for a culture of life

All of which points to the need to reclaim a sound and balanced patriotism, resting on the foundation of duty to God first, as a means of converting Australia.

So far the traditionalist movement has focused on recovering the universal culture of the Church - a tradition of Gregorian chant, beautiful vestments, ritual and so forth. That is obviously a critical underpinning. Of course we need the liturgy to remind us that above all, our purpose is to worship God, and look forward to the next life.

But to create a genuine Catholic culture, something that can stand up and counter the assaults of secularism, we also need to reinforce the Church's teaching and that universal culture with that of our nation's culture. And that means understanding it, treasuring it, and shaping it through our faith to be a bulwark against the culture of death.

And that has to be a key challenge for us all in the next few years ahead I think.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The SSPX return: some key points

We live in amazing times - first Summorum Pontificum; now the lifting of the SSPX excommunications. This is indeed a very magnanimous gesture on the part of the Holy Father, and we should surely pray that it bears fruit in a full reconciliation.

A few points:
  • it is clearly stated to be only a first step towards full communion;
  • the next step in the process needs to deal with doctrinal issues given that the SSPX bishops still have 'some reservations' about Vatican II. The canonical status of the organisation will also need to be addressed;
  • it is a lifting of the original decree not (as the SSPX seem to have hoped, and the Superior General's letter to the SSPX faithful rather obfuscates on) a declaration that they never had any effect in the first place;
  • it says nothing about the two consecrating bishops (who are both dead).

SSPX Excommunications lifted: next step, talks on doctrine

Rorate Caeli has provided this translation of the Decree of the Congregation for Bishops:

"By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988.

In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: "We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much."

His Holiness Benedict XVI - paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin - decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.

With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

Based in the faculty expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit to Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.
Card. Giovanni Battista RePrefect of the Congregation for Bishops"

Rorate also carries a press release from Bishop Fellay:

"The excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.

We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.”

Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church. In this new atmosphere, we have the firm hope to obtain soon the recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition

Menzingen, January 24, 2009
+Bernard Fellay"

Calendar for the week 25 January Benedictine 1962 Ordo

Note: MD page references are to the Farnborough monastic diurnal.

Saturday, January 24: St Timothy, Memorial

Please pray for Sr Emma Wills formerly of Adelaide, scheduled to receive the Holy Habit at Le Barroux today.

Lauds: MD [24]

I Vespers of Third Sunday after Epiphany, MD 147*
(or for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul)

Sunday, January 25: Third Sunday after Epiphany, Class II

Monday, January 26: St Polycarp, memorial

Lauds: MD [42]

Tuesday, January 27: St John Chrysostom, Class III

Lauds and Vespers: antiphons and psalms of the feria then as fr common of a confessor bishop, MD [43]

Wednesday, January 28: St Cyril of Alexandria, Memorial

Lauds: MD [44]

Thursday, January 29: St Frances de Sales, Memorial

Lauds: MD [44-45]

Friday, January 30: Feria

Saturday, January 31: St John Bosco, Memorial

Lauds: MD [45]

Vespers: I Vespers of the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, MD 149*

Thursday, 22 January 2009

SSPX Reconciliation: What should be our attitude?

Given that many online are going into hysteria at the prospect of the SSPX bishops' excommunications being lifted, I thought it might be worth setting out a few key points to think about from the 'in full communion' traditionalist ('attached to tradition'!) perspective.

Why angst?

Most of the public angst is coming from conservatives and liberals, worried about the implications of a group who don't accept Vatican II's teachings being allowed back in, or some of Bishop Williamson's (and others of his ilk) kookiness.

But it may surprise those groups to know that many traditionalists who have long been in the fold have at best mixed emotions about the SSPX too. Personally, I owe a huge debt to Archbishop LeFevre since it was attending a LeFevrist Mass in France many years ago now that started me on the path to becoming a practicing Catholic. On the other hand, I walked out of the only two SSPX masses I've attended since then because I was so outraged by the sermons.

The reality is that while the organisation as a whole may not necessarily be schismatic or heretical, there are certainly some within it who are. People who attack the indefectibility of the Church for example, in relation to the sacraments. Who don't accept the Church's authority to legislate on things like ecumenism (regardless of our views on whether or not those decisions are prudent or not). Or whose attacks on the Pope and bishops goes far beyond what can possibly be regarded as reasonable bounds.

And then there is the loony tunes factor - no one really wants real traditionalism associated with the sort of nonsense that Bishop Williamson seems to regularly espouse - and for which he clearly has a following.

At the more 'political' level, a lot of people in the Church have endured much, but stayed loyal to the hierarchy. In those circumstances it is pretty hard to turn around and be welcoming to those who have not only basically chosen to desert the ship, but also done a lot of name calling and trouble-making along the way.

Why we should support reconciliation

Nonetheless, there are a number of reasons why I think we should support some form of reconciliation of the the SSPX rather than just trying to work on members one by one.

First, in some places people go to SSPX masses because the alternative is liturgical horrors. Of course, once there, they may well absorb particular attitudes and ideas that are less than helpful, but over time that can be fixed.

Secondly, this is about the salvation of souls. The longer a (quasi?) schism goes on, the harder it is to fix, and the further the group drifts from the guidance of the Magisterium. Then there are the sacraments - SSPX marriages are invalid; their confessions at best doubtful (almost certainly invalid except in extremis). And that has real consequences. Moreover, this is an organisation with leaders and followers - if some of the leaders can be bought back into the mainstream, many (though not all) will follow after them.

The Pope is taking the image of the Good Shepherd to heart here (and in his attempts to bring groups such as the Orthodox and the Lutherans closer to the Church). I think he has more than demonstrated that he isn't going to compromise on doctrine to do this (notwithstanding Rorate Caeli's recent post on the Lutheran issue, which I pretty much agree with in terms of their analysis of the problems with the Declaration, but not the Pope's attitude to it), but if he is willing to bend over backwards to ensure there are no barriers (perceived or real) in people's paths, we should support him!

Thirdly, in the long run the SSPX can help the Church, particularly in this period we are now in where it is finally possible to have real debate on what has and hasn't worked in Vatican II's pastoral initiatives; on what of its teachings can be interpreted in a hermaneutic of continuity and what can't; and what of its ordinary Magisterium (if any) needs to be reformed. They have bought some theological firepower to the table (admittedly of varying quality) and put their views out in public, where others, for whatever reasons, have been reluctant to do so to date.

So what are the implications of the still only rumoured move?

Lifting the excommunications doesn't mean automatic reconciliation

It's worth remembering, as some have pointed out, that the mutual excommunications between Rome and the Orthodox Church were lifted some forty years ago - yet we still haven't achieved reconciliation!

The Pope could of course go further, and lift the suspensions of SSPX priests and give them faculties, or ask Ordinaries to do so - but that seems pretty unlikely at this stage.

More likely a new round of negotiations on theological and canonical issues will take place.

Lifting the excommunications doesn't mean endorsing the bizarre ideas of Bishop Williamson!

Bishop Williamson actually seems pretty intent on sabotaging the whole thing, as a number of blogs have mentioned (have a look at Fr Z and St Mary Magdalen).

But even if he did eventually reconcile, that doesn't imply endorsement of his curious ideas on women wearing trousers, the Sound of Music, or more serious issues such as the Holocaust. Nor does reconciliation necessarily entail giving someone with evident problems faculties or jurisdiction.

I have to admit, it's the Bishop Williamson school that gives some weight to the argument that we need to find a better descriptor for ourselves than 'traditionalists'!

Still, in the end, the Church is (or at least should be) essentially concerned with a person's orthodoxy, not their opinions on things which are not part of the deposit of faith.

Of course, if someone in a position of responsibility continued to make imprudent statements that affect the Church's reputation, or attempted to impose weirdo opinions on anyone he has jurisdiction over (and remember at the moment that is no-one!) sooner or later action will presumably be taken (although it seems to be very much later in a few cases awfully close to home...).

So pray for unity!

So the bottom line I think is, don't panic, and pray for unity!

On Christian Unity and SSPX rumours...

This week is traditionally a week for prayer for the unity of the Church (including the conversion of heretics and pagans).

Pray for the unity of Christians

And the Pope made a point of the importance of this at his General Audiewnce this week.

He said:

"Last Sunday we began the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity dedicated this year to the theme: “that they may become one in your hand” (Ezek 37:17). This scripture passage recalls God’s command to Ezekiel to take two sticks, one representing Judah and the other Israel, and join them together as a symbol of the Lord’s power to gather his people into one.

As Christians, we read these words as an exhortation to pray and work for the full unity of Christ’s disciples. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, “there can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 7)....

Let us pray that the various initiatives this week at the local and universal levels will encourage all who confess “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” to listen more attentively to the Word of God, to deepen prayer, and to intensify dialogue, so as to imitate Saint Paul’s example of a life completely devoted to the Lord and the unity of his Body, the Church."

Interesting therefore to read Rorate Caeli's reports of rumours that the excommunications of the SSPX's bishops will be lifted at any moment.....

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Pray for President Obama

The importance of the inauguration of President Obama last night to the world in general and Australia is obvious, even if we hadn't been rather painfully reminded of it last week with the photos of our ex-Prime Minster receiving the Medal of Freedom last week (and making one last rude gesture in the process, keeping the President-elect out of his lodgings).

Pray for the President

A number of blogs have already highlighted the pro-abortion and contraception messages on his new website. So its appropriate then, I think, to urge everyone to join in prayers for his conversion, and for good decisions from the new administration. One such is a perpetual rosary being offered for the next thirty days - you can sign up for a slot over at Catholic Culture.

Another (hopefully) big event planned is tomorrow's March for Life in Washington - a number of schools and Universities, including the excellent Christendom College, have actually shown their catholic colours and closed down for the day in order to allow staff and students to participate.

Just why we need to pray however is illustrated in the whole inauguration ceremony - a notable absence of Catholic bishops invited; a blessing by an openly homosexual episcopalian bishop, and much more. The President's speech too is a curious mixture of the good and the bad, and I think an important read, so here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) with my headings and comments ...

President Obama's inauguration speech

The beginning bit is the usual political platitudes about humility, thanking Bush, and the great American heritage, so I'll skip over them:

"....That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices [true enough] and prepare the nation for a new age.

On the economic crisis

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights. [hmmm, surely no bad thing - remember the greed and consumerism referred to above...]

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.

A new discourse?

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. [All sounds wonderful. The problem being of course how we realise that happiness and freedom - not through the false promises of consumerism, or liberal notions of rights, but through God our ultimate good!]

American values

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work [OK here is a real Americanism/Protestantism. Leisure does not necessarily mean laziness! Hard work is of course a virtue. But so too is the leisure dedicated to the contemplation of God] , or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things [Again these are all virtues in proper context - but ti sounds awfully like an exultation the life of this world over the next; of 'doing' over 'being'] -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom...."

Then continues a lot more of the same ilk, until:

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.

Technology rules

The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will restore science to its rightful place [Code for whatever science provides us with the means to do - including creating monsters, or destroying our children even before they are able to be born in order to seek unproven medical cures - should be done?] and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its costs.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.
All this we can do. All this we will do.

Can he do it?

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works [I actually do think this is a reasonable approach in principle. The difficulty with evidence based approach however is what you include as the evidence, and the unintended consequences of policies which aren't known until you change them!], whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

And those of us who manage the public's knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Government and the market

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.

But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

On security vs liberty

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. [Thank goodness. This is one of the reasons so many Catholics actually supported Obama despite his culture of death policies.] Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. [Good stuff]

Fighting terror

We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard- earned peace in Afghanistan.

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.

And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. [Hmm, a matter of debate, but it clearly can be a source of strength]. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. [But oh dear, not when pluralism rules without acknowledgement of God...] We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

Commitment to international aid

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

American values: service and more

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.

These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny....."

All up, a speech that could have been a lot worse....

The TLM in Bundaberg

Cath News carries an alert to a story in the Bundaberg News Mail about the spread of the Traditional Latin Mass up North, where retired priest of the diocese, Fr Martin Durham, heroically makes the trek to offer Mass in Rockhampton two Sundays of the month, and Bundaberg (248 kilometres away) and Mackay (334kms) on the other Sundays.

Spread of the TLM to Bundaberg

Here is the story in full:

"A mass-ive comeback
Letea Cavander 20th January 2009

"THE latest craze being taken up by youths like Jessica May is not a computer game or band worship.

Like an increasing number of people worldwide, the 19-year-old Catholic has the chance to experience a traditional mass said in Latin right here in Bundaberg.
“I think it would be an experience,” Miss May said.

“It's really entrenched in our tradition and there's something cool about listening to a church service in another language.”

The services have been held for the last couple of months at St Mary's Catholic Church.

Jana Mackie, aged 32, was also too young to remember the masses that were held in Latin until 1970.

But the Catholic has welcomed the comeback of the traditional mass in Bundaberg.

“There's a beautiful reverence about it that I think has been lost - there's a lot of quiet that gives time to pray and reflect,” Mrs Mackie said.

“The words are different, it's not your usual street language.

“It's like comparing Shakespeare's language to today's plays.”

The Latin mass has been steadily growing in popularity since Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement in 2007 that said the traditional mass should be made more widely available.

During the latest mass held on Sunday, a 45-person strong congregation heard Father Martin Durham chant and pray in the ancient language. The 78-year-old priest travels up and down the east coast administering the mass in Rockhampton and Bundaberg.

The “altar boy” for the mass, Dr Rory Donnellan, said the priest was born and raised in Bundaberg and was actually ordained in the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

“I must be the oldest altar boy there is, but there was no one else who knows what to do,” Dr Donnellan said.

The Bundaberg doctor remembers serving Latin Catholic masses in his native South Africa when he was young. He said that in a country with 13 official languages, a mass in Latin broke down communication barriers.

“The Latin mass appeased all people and everyone could come together in the Latin mass,” Dr Donnellan said.

The services are held on the third Sunday of every month at St Mary's Catholic Church on Barolin Street."

Fr Durham

It is worth noting that Fr Durham has written a number of nice pieces for AD 2000 and other publications. His latest piece, a review of Thomas Woods' Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, can be found here.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Catholic Summer School in New Zealand....***

Thanks to Chris of Melbourne for sending me these photos and news of another nice initiative in New Zealand, a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Bishop Meeking at the annual ten day 'Hearts Aflame' Summer School in Christchurch which ended last Sunday.

Hearts Aflame is an annual event aimed at young catholics aged 18-35, and reflects the increasing trend towards traditional liturgy, devotions and practices amongst the 'New Evangelisation' crowd.

So there was daily office (lauds, vespers, compline), adoration, Mass, workshops and lectures.

This year, some of the folk associated with Juventutem from Latin Mass Melbourne and friends assisted by running two chant workshops, arranging for Bishop Meeking to give a 45 minutes talk on the Extraordinary Form and Summorum Pontificum, and training servers etc for a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

The celebrant was Bishop Meeking, with Fr Define FSSP as Assistant Priest, Fr Clement Mary FSSR (formerly known as Transalpine Redemptorists) was Deacon, and Fr Nicholas Dillon, Subdeacon.

The various events received excellent feedback, so maybe it will become part of the event on an ongoing basis.....

And perhaps Australia's annual school of evangelisation might be persuaded to do something similar next year!

**Update: Just thought I'd note a link to a story on the sub-deacon for the event, Fr Nicolas Dillon, which Cath News carries an alert on. Fr Dillon grew up in Dunedin, and combines his work as a priest in Melbourne with a career as an organist performing around the more here.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Calendar for week of 18 January - Benedictine 1962 Ordo

Benedictine Ordo for the coming week, following the 1962 books!

For those using the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal, I've included page references. Please do let me know if there is more or different information you would find it useful to have included! In all cases, the psalter and propers are for the day of the week except as specified.

Saturday 17 January - St Anthony, Abbot, III Class

Lauds - Antiphons and psalms of Saturday, rest from Common of a confessor MD (78).

Collect MD [26]

Vespers - for Second Sunday after the Epiphany MD 146*

Sunday 18 January - Second Sunday after the Epiphany, II Class

As per Sunday except for Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons and Collect, MD 146-147*

Start of the 'Chair of Unity Octave' of prayers.

Monday 19 January - SS Marius, Martha, Audifax and Arachum, Martyrs, Memorial

Proper antiphon and collect for Lauds, MD [26]

Tuesday 20 January - SS Fabian, Pope and Sebastian, Martyrs, III Class

Lauds - Antiphons and Psalms of Tuesday, rest from Common of Many Martyrs MD (43).

Collect, MD [27].

[Vespers - I Vespers of St Agnes with a commemoration of the feast in the Le Barroux Ordo. Alternatively, Vespers as per Lauds instructions.]

Wednesday 21 January - St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, III (or II Class in women's monasteries) Class

Antiphons and propers of the feast, MD [27]. Festal psalms at Lauds and Vespers.

Thursday January 22 - St Vincent, Martyr, Memorial

Lauds - Collect and antiphon MD [34]

Friday January 23 - St Emerentiana, virgin and Martyr, Memorial

Lauds - Antiphon and collect MD [35]

(Note: St Raymond of Pennafort, 3cl, in EF)

Saturday January 24 - St Timothy, bishop and martyr, memorial

Lauds - collect and antiphon, MD [35]

Vespers - I Vespers of Third Sunday after Epiphany, MD 147*

(Note: The Pope has given permission for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul to replace the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time for this year, and the Le Barroux Ordo has adopted this for the EF as well. The decision rests with individual parishes and dioceses.)

Friday, 16 January 2009

The elephant in the room: heresy

A lot of the fuss about South Brisbane has related to its liturgical practices.

There are good reasons for this, given the problem of invalid baptisms there.

But let's face it, the underlying, real issue there and elsewhere is heresy.

Heresy is far more dangerous than liturgical abuses (which are often the symptom rather than the disease) such as not bothering to wear vestments, particularly when the person holding erroneous views is a priest, since by virtue of his position teaches and judges others and can thus lead others to perdition.

Visitation of US Seminaries

So it is alarming then, to read in the just released report of visitations to US seminaries in 2006, which points to continuing significant problems in the spiritual, moral and intellectual formation of seminarians.

There are some positives in the report, and it does find that progress that has been made. But it also notes that:
  • even in the best seminaries there can be professors who show reservations about magisterial teaching, particularly in the area of moral theology;
  • Latin and patristics are significant gaps in the curriculum of most seminaries - gaps that clearly make it harder for erroneous teaching to be countered by reading the original documents;
  • most don't say Lauds or Vespers in common, or even have a Mass on the weekends;
  • some seminaries remain hostile to traditional devotions; others never expose their students to them, or leave their practice to the individual seminarian.
Although I know one or two seminaries in Australia have a reasonably good reputation, I doubt that the overall situation in Australia is very different to the US (at least based on some of the comments by quasi-seminarian and dark mutterings from others!).

But turning out orthodox priests surely has to be pretty high up the priority list give the link between orthodoxy and orthopraxis, the risk to the flock, and the difficulty in removing problematic priests later on (as demonstrated not least by the South Brisbane affair).

The report is certainly worth a careful read.

What's in a name? Traditionalism and traditionalists....

So let's have the debate on names!

Commentator Peter wrote on the last post saying:

"I implore you to eschew the usage of tradionalIST and ISM. There is tradition and an attachment to tradition. Tradition is intrinsic to the church. (I'm a supporter of the restoration of the extraordinary form and other traditional usages). It is a convenient and tempting usage but I think ultimately it doesn't serve the 'movement' well."

Please elaborate!

I have to admit I've heard traditionalists (!) and others hint at this position before.

So far as I can see the arguments are basically three (but please do tell if I I've missed something):
  • we are all just Catholics really, and shouldn't need to distinguish ourselves since tradition is part of the whole Church's heritage - the argument made by Peter, and see for example Fr Blake's recent post on this;
  • claiming to be traditionalists offends those who also feel attached to tradition but don't go along with the whole TLM thing (tough is my reaction to this one!);
  • the term is tainted because it is also used to refer to sedes, schismatics and other weirdos.
Now I have some sympathy with the last of these arguments - my last post goes to a classic example of this problem, and I am regularly offended by one Australian blog that seems to lump all sorts of weird sects under the label 'traditonalist'. The trouble is, we develop terms like this for a reason.

Why a label?

Terms like traditionalist, liberal and conservative inevitably oversimplify things. There are, for example, possibly some liberals for whom the term is not actually just a codeword for heretic (though I'm not sure I've met any)! And there are many sub-groupings within the 'conservative' group notwithstanding some similarities.

Still, if we want to talk about issues and advance causes we need language to describe distinctions. Because without distinctions, we have vague woolly waffle.

And the underlying reality is that there are a set of common positions and views that lie behind the label, and having a word that reminds us of that is in some ways a rallying call. The idea that tradition is intrinsic to the Church still doesn't have a wide following. Things are changing, it is true. But until we have actually won the war, it seems to me there is a need of a term that helps remind people what we are about.

Finding an alternative

Now I'd be happy if we could find a good alternative that will be accepted.

Remember, for example, when Summorum Pontificum came out, and people wanted us to stop talking about the TLM and Novus Ordo? Fr Z even had a series of polls to test out alternative terms. And even now some engage in euphemisms when advertising who and what they are and are offering.

We've cycled through a number of terms for the 1962 Mass for example - Tridentine (technically incorrect so largely dropped these days), 'classical Roman rite', 'Extraordinary Form' (does get some usage but really too technical for most people), 'Missal of Blessed John XXIII' (well I can offer a few guesses as to why we don't much like that one!), 'Latin Mass' (closer but how to distinguish from Novus Ordo Latin Mass?), and more. In the end we keep coming back to TLM because for all its faults, it is clear and meaningful to people.

Could we find a better label for the movement itself? The conservatives have coined the 'reform of the reform' and 'new liturgical movement' for what they are on about, and I agree that it would be nice if traddies could come up with something equally engaging.

One suggestion has been restoration(ism/ist). But I personally dislike it, first because it was first coined by the liberals and has been thoroughly trashed already (have a look at Arbuckle's books on religious life) and secondly because it suggests a going back in time that I don't actually think is either possible or desirable.

Yes we want the TLM and tradition 'restored'. But we have to recognize that it is happening an will continue to happen in the context of the way the world is now, and in line with the teaching of the Magisterium as it has been articulated today (admitting that there may be some areas where the ordinary magisterium of recent decades may need to be reformed), not just as it was at some magic time point in the past.


Personally I think we should use the label traditionalist proudly, and fight to define it in our terms, not as others attempt to define it for us.

The neo-conservatives invented the term for themselves and use it happily enough, even giving their blogs names like' Crunchy Con'.

But by all means explain to me why you think I'm wrong about this, and why the terms traditionalist and traditionalism don't help the movement!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

On schism, South Brisbane and traditionalists

Son of Trypho (with whom and about whose reconciliation to the Church we should all be rejoicing, see the comment on the previous post!) alerted us all to yet another traddie bashing comment on Cath News, comparing the situation of South Brisbane with some traddie communities. It attempts to perpetuate the myth that traddies are or were in some sense in the same place as the liberals in the Church are now. And that is utter rubbish!

The claim

The comment was:

"Sadly, no one deceives themselves more than the deceiver. How gracious Fr Kennedy and the Sth Brisbane community will be towards Archbishop Bathersby and Brisbane Catholics who won't be able to understand their decision to break with the Church will be the test of their sincerity. There have been other communities who have left the Church and now are back within it - the Tridentine communities. So, we hope and pray for Fr Kennedy, for his parishioners and for ourselves, that we will take Christ at his word and wait for healing and reunion in this matter.

Posted By: Fr Mick Mac Andrew, Bombala-Delegate NSW"

A few vital differences - heresy vs schism

Before getting down to the main point I want to make here - namely that most traditionalists have never left the Church - it is worth noting one other key difference between traditionalists and South Brisbane. It is the difference between heresy and schism.

It is pretty clear that Fr Kennedy and many of his followers are not just acting schismatically, that is rejecting the judicial authority of the Church, but also reject key doctrines (indeed, even the concept of dogma!).

Most traditionalists are not and never have been heretics. They use a rite of the Mass that has been used by the Church for centuries rather than an unapproved, fabricated liturgy as South Brisbane do. They believe what the Church has taught for centuries, not picking and choosing or rejecting outright truths taught by the Church (despite some recent claims to the contrary on which I may comment separately in the near future!) as liberals do.

Reconciliation and traddies - a little history

It is true of course that over time various traditionalist communities who sat outside the Church to various degrees have come back in. Summorum Pontificum has given particular impetus to this, and over the last year several groups of religious (though none in Australia), for example, have reconciled.

And in Australia at an individual level, as more approved TLMs have become available, many individuals have left the SSPX masses they previously attended (often out of desperation!) and now attend mainstream traditionalist communities. That is a positive thing reflecting the concern of bishops and priests for their flock.

Whether or not those who attended SSPX masses were ever strictly speaking in schism probably varies from case to case, since it depends on intention, actions and beliefs - there has some guidance from Rome to the effect that attending an SSPX mass does not in itself make one schismatic. Getting married or going to confession in an SSPX Church (and studying for the priesthood) however, are almost certainly different matters!

But regardless, the reality is that most traditionalists have never left the Church, formally or informally. Rather they are catholics who created or discovered the 'indult' communities that have now been operating with the permission of their bishop for more than twenty years in some cases, or are converts to catholicism (and traditional communities have a high proportion of converts).

Canonical issues

A few key points to note:
  • in Summorum Pontificum the Pope stated that the Traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated - that is priests always had the right to say it;
  • the TLM has long been provided under various official permissions - before Summorum Pontificum in 2007 there was the Ecclesia Dei indult (1988) and 1984 (Quattor abhinc annos);
  • and before that some older priests received formal permission to continue saying the older Mass.

The definitive moment in terms of schism is arguably (and I don't want to get into the debate on whether the SSPX are formally in schism or not!) Archbishop Le Fefevre's illicit ordination of bishops in 1988. At this point some traditionalists did split off and effectively became the SSPX communities of today. But all or most of the currently recognized traditionalist communities in Australia (and someone correct me if I'm wrong about this) point to their origin in the 1984 and 1998 indults.

So what should our attitude be to schismatics of whatever colour?

The answer is clearly pray for them to see the truth and be reconciled to the Church!

The implication of Fr MacAndrew's comment is that if they just work hard enough, as traddies have done, the Church will some day acknowledge that they were right. That is clearly misguided and unhelpful and runs directly counter to the line taken publicly by Fr MacAndrew's superior, Archbishop Coleridge.

Guess it just illustrates the size of the clean-up job ahead for the Church in Australia. Maybe we need to institute de-programming workshops (tradition rediscovery/sensitization workshops) for the clergy? Hmmm, I can see a niche market for a consultant here, maybe I can offer my services...

News round-up **Brisbane update***

A few items that might be of interest!

The Brisbane saga continues... and Archbishop Bathersby's resignation has been accepted (?)

Archbishop Bathersby, you may recall, gave the schismatic St Mary's Parish a further extension, until the end of January, until he took action, and it seems they have been using the find themselves another place to utilise for their activities, courtesy of the Trades and Labor Council! This does not give the delay a good look, to put it mildly. You can read more by following the links on Cath News.

**Update - A reader has alerted me that the story made the 7.30 Report on the ABC last night. You can read the transcript (or watch the video) here. According to Fr Blake's blog (St Mary Magdalene), the Archbishop's resignation has been accepted.

If that is true (and the Cooees have certainly been hinting that this was imminent for a while), it a good strong signal that these type of scandalous situations will no longer be tolerated. The rumoured appointment, reported on several blogs, of Cardinal Pell to the upcoming vacancy in the Congregation for Bishops would be another such signal!

Certainly shows the power and value of lay activism on the traditionalist side, something that will hopefully empower others to act in the many similar situations around the world.

Pity the poor guy (the Cooees were punting for AB Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn) who gets the job of cleaning up the mess however...**

On the positive side...

The traditional mass community in Brisbane continues to thrive. A friend up there over Christmas tells me the Sunday mass was packed, and Fr Jordan's summary of the year points to a number of highlights:

  • four weddings, four funerals and attending four priestly ordinations;
  • ten baptisms;
  • a number of new initiatives including the Witness Programme, the Catechumenate, Faith on Tap, the young people's Pro-Life campaigns;
  • two Solemn masses...and the prospect of another at Easter, courtesy of the FSSP's Fr Define.

New community of active traditional sisters

There are several new religious communities for women who use the Traditional Latin Mass around, but up until now all have been contemplative in orientation. A new group however will change this - but prospective aspirants will still have to sit down and learn french I'm afraid! The group is called the Little Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and are associated with the Institute of the Good Shepherd. They plan to follow the spirituality of St Vincent de Paul.

On the buses

An ad campaign being run by atheists in the UK is being challenged in the courts on the basis that their claims that 'God probably does not exist' can't be proved and is therefore in breach of advertising standards! An attempt to run a similar campaign in Australia has apparently been rejected by local advertisers (presumably for this very reason).

One might also question the likely effectiveness of such a campaign - because it might actually make them think about a subject they generally do their best to ignore....

Monday, 12 January 2009

Prayers please

A reader has alerted me to the recent sudden death of Mr Harold Tattersall at Sydney on Sunday 4 January, father of Fr Glen Tattersall, chaplain to the Melbourne Latin Mass community.

My condolences to Fr Tattersall and his family, and please do pray for the repose of Mr Tattersall's soul. Further details can be found on the Latin Mass Melbourne site.

Could I also request prayers for the soul of a relative of mine, Mr Cecil Burgess, who died last Friday in Launceston.

Feast of St Benedict Biscop (628-690)

Today, the Roman Martyrology (and the Ordo of the English Congregation of Benedictines) mentions St Benedict Biscop, a seventh century Anglo-Saxon abbot, and he is really one of those saints who deserve to be better known as one of those responsible for the preservation of Western civilization in the 'dark ages'.

It is intriguing not least for some modern parallels!

As a monk he had a reputation as being pious, ascetic, learned and holy. He is particularly honoured as the founder of the twin monasteries of Wearmouth (whose Church, pictured above, still stands) and Jarrow, where he was St Bede the Venerable's first abbot.

But his particular interest is the way his fascinating career illustrates the cross-fertilization of cultural currents at the time, and his work in importing books and skills to England where they were preserved and re-exported back to the Continent a century later.

To Rome and Lerins

Biscop (aka Benedict Barducing) was a noble who at the age of 25, in 653, left his promising career as a minister at court and headed off in pilgrimage to Rome, returning filled with fervour for the Church. Twelve years later, he did a second trip to Rome, this time ending up at the famous monastery of Lerins in the south of France (which had adopted the Rule of St Benedict by this time) where he became a monk and stayed for two years to learn what he could.

He returned to England on the instructions of the Pope, in order to act as interpreter and native guide for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, a Greek monk who had been living in Italy as a refugee from the monothelite heresy then raging in the East. St Benedict then spent two years as abbot of the monastery at Canterbury before that role was taken over by Archbishop Theodore's companion Abbot Hadrian.

England at the time was still in the process of healing the breach between the Irish adherents of St Columba and the Anglo-Saxons, and St Benedict Biscop was firmly in the Roman party as a friend of the inimitable St Wilfrid (look him up!). In all, Abbot Benedict made six trips to Rome, each time bringing back many books (which he instructed his monks to carefully protect and retain!), relics, statues, icons, fabulous silks, and skilled workers.

Liturgy and Gregorian chant

On one of last of these trips, around 680 AD, for example he brought back a monk, Abbot John, to teach the chant for the liturgical year as it was done at Rome, teaching the locals "the theory and practice of singing and reading aloud, and he put into writing all that was necessary for the proper observance of festivals throughout the year."

Chant workshops were as popular then as they are now it seems - 'proficient singers from nearly all the monasteries of the province' came to hear him; he received many invitations to teach elsewhere; and Abbot John's document detailing the proper observances for various feasts was, according to St Bede, copied for many other places.


This St Benedict was keenly aware of the tradition of learning in the Order (possibly encouraged by his time at Lerins, which had always been something of a theological school producing many bishops). The library (and scriptorium) he assembled at Wearmouth was one of the largest then around, with over three hundred books, including many manuscripts rescued from Cassiodorus' fifth century attempt to preserve classical culture at the Vivarium.

Sacred art and architecture

Similarly, when Abbot Benedict built his own monastery at the invitation of King Egfrith of Northumbria, no effort was spared. St Bede wrote:

"After the interval of a year, Benedict crossed the sea into Gaul, and no sooner asked than he obtained and carried back with him some masons to build him a church in the Roman style, which he had always admired. ...When the work was drawing to completion, he sent messengers to Gaul to fetch makers of glass, (more properly artificers,) who were at this time unknown in Britain, that they might glaze the windows of his church, with the cloisters and dining-rooms. This was done, and they came, and not only finished the work required, but taught the English nation their handicraft, which was well adapted for enclosing the lanterns of the church, and for the vessels required for various uses.

All other things necessary for the service of the church and the altar, the sacred vessels, and the vestments, because they could not be procured in England, he took especial care to buy and bring home from foreign parts.
Some decorations and muniments there were which could not be procured even in Gaul, and these the pious founder determined to fetch from Rome..."

A holy death

St Benedict Biscop spent the last three years of his life paralysed by an illness:

"..yet he never lost his cheerfulness, nor ceased to praise God and exhort the brethren. He was often troubled by sleepless nights, when, to alleviate his weariness, he would call one of his monks and desire to have read to him the story of the patience of Job, or some other passage of scripture by which a sick man might be comforted, or one bent down by infirmities might be more spiritually raised to heavenly things.

Nor did he neglect the regular hours of prayer, but as he was unable to rise from his bed to prayer and could scarcely raise his voice in praise, he would call some of the brethren to him that they might sing the psalms in two choirs, he himself joining with them to the best of his ability."

He died early on this day in 689, surrounded by his brethren, and was buried in the Church he had founded, surrounded by the treasures that he had collected.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Novena against US Freedom of Choice Act: start today

A friend passed me this notice about a novena against abortion you may wish to join:

"If you are opposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon. For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is set to be signed if the US Congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion.

If made a law then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in the following:
1) All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals will be required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens Bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30% of all hospitals in the United States .
2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no limitations.
3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.
4) Parental notification will no longer be required.
5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of100,000 annually.

Perhaps most importantly the government will now have control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, down syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have. Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly true.

As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

The Plan : To say a novena (9 days of prayer) along with fasting starting on January 11th.

For Catholics, the prayer of choice will be the rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA.

For non Catholics I encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intentions, also for nine consecutive days. The hope is that this will branch and blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact....

Remember that with God all things are possible and the power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless killing of defenseless children then the time is now to do something about it! May God bless you all!!

Lord David Alton..."

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Calendar for the week ahead - Benedictine Use

I've had a request to continue providing an Ordo for the Benedictine Monastic Diurnal (and Breviary) - no guarantees, but if enough people find it useful, I'll give it a go (please let me know if you think you have found any errors)! Please note however that you can find a very useful (though not identical to the 1962 Breviary) Benedictine Ordo (in Latin) on the Le Barroux website for reference purposes.

Using the Ordo

It is worth noting I think that the Office is meant to connect up with the Mass of the day. If one lives in or near a monastery, that happens automatically! For the rest of us, unfortunately, the situation is a little more complex. So here are my suggestions on how to handle it (assuming of course that you are not bound to a particular Office or Ordo):

  • if you don't get to daily mass, use the Ordo as is;

  • if you go daily (or near daily) to a Roman rite EF Mass, adjust the feast days to match that calendar (and I've noted where the necessary changes are);

  • if you go daily (or near daily) to a novus ordo Mass, you will need to make a judgment about how to manage it. It is possible to shuffle around the feasts to more or less match - but it is a much more challenging task to do, and you will need to be very familiar with both calendars. Good luck!

This week's Ordo

In any case, here is this coming week's calendar, with page references to the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal.

Saturday 10 January

First Vespers for the First Sunday after the Epiphany:MD 140*

Sunday 11 January: II Class

First Sunday after the Epiphany: MD 142*

Monday 12 January

Monday within the pseudo-octave of the Epiphany (!): IV Class

- antiphons and psalms of the Monday

- at Lauds, Benedictus antiphon Omnes Nationes (MD136*)

- chapter, hymn etc : MD133*

First Vespers of the Commemoration of Our Lord - as per First Vespers of the Epiphany:MD 120* except for Collect MD140*

Tuesday 13 January: II Class

Commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord: everything as for Epiphany, MD 129* except for collect, MD140*

Wednesday, 14 January: Memorial (or Class III, see note)

St Hilary, Doctor (and commemoration of St Felix, priest and martyr):

All as in the psalter for Wednesday except for the Antiphons and collects to be said at the time of the collect at Lauds only, MD[24]

Note: In the Roman calendar and Le Barroux Ordo St Hilary is marked as a third class feast. If it is desired to follow this, at Vespers use the propers from the Common of a Confessor Bishop/Doctor, MD (68, 74).

Thursday, 15 January: Class IV

feria, as in the psalter for Thursday

Note: in Roman Rite, St Paul the first hermit, Class III - see MD [23])

Friday, January 16: Memorial (Class III in Roman Rite)

St Marcellus I Pope and Martyr

As in the psalter except for antiphon and collect at Lauds, MD[25]

Saturday, January 17: Class III

St Antony, Abbot

At Lauds, antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from Common of Confessors MD (78), collect MD[26].

First Vespers of Second Sunday after Epiphany, MD 146*