Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

18/06/2020 - 18:33

Conservatism after Bostock

The recent Supreme Court decision, penned by Neil Gorsuch, has knocked the wind out of a lot of Americans on the right. The central claim, that an Act of Congress in 1964 intended to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the word “sex”, as a characteristic to be protected against discrimination, is so evidently insane surely—one might think—no person of intellectual integrity could affirm it. If we view it as not, strictly and literally true, but as a necessary legal fiction, then the question becomes one of policy. What urgent issue of natural justice is served by erasing the distinction between biological sex, erotic preferences, and feelings-about-what-one-is?

The answer is protecting people from discrimination on the basis of those two other things. I can understand why the liberal Justices on the Supreme Court should think this. In UK law “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” are both “protected characteristics” which must not motivate discrimination. So is “sex”. The Bostock decision goes much further than the UK law, however, in bypassing the need for any formal “gender reassignment” (the very concept seems old-fashioned today: the UK law dates from 2011), and also by rolling the three characteristics into one. Gorsuch’s remarkable reasoning is that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation just isdiscrimination on the basis of sex.

The precise legal consequences of the decision will emerge over time. The most astonishing aspect of it is that this decision was approved not only by liberal judges, but by two supposedly conservative ones: John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch. Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justices turning into liberals in office is nothing new, and it is part of a wider pattern of conservatives in positions of power and influence not wanting to stand up for conservative causes. At the individual level this is easy to understand: if you want to preserve your ability to earn a living, you have to watch what you say. But collectively, it is incomprehensible. On many occasions, liberal views have triumphed despite lacking popular support. If the conservative opposition to the latest progressive cause simply stood up for itself, in many cases the issue would not be in doubt. But not only does this not happen, but people tend to accept each step of the progressive revolution after it has happened.


Social conservatives appear to have accepted that they are on the “wrong side of history”. There are a number of possible explanations for this. One is that they are endlessly betrayed by the legislators, judges, media, and entertainers whose success depended on their support. However, this would not happen if the social conservatives were more discerning and less forgiving. In any case, why are these elites so much more inclined to abandon conservative supporters than liberal ones?

It might be suggested that social conservatives lack unity, but progressives are also deeply divided among themselves. However, as I have discussed elsewhere, there is a related disadvantage which social conservatives have. This is that their ideas are essentially constructive, not destructive. They aren’t simply about tearing things down, but about building things up. It is easier to build a coalition of demolition, even among people who detest each other, than a coalition of builders with competing blue-prints. This is one reason why conservative mass-movements are difficult to maintain, beyond single issues. Progressive coalitions work by mutual assistance: you help me destroy marriage, and I'll help you destroy education, and so on.
There is something else, however, which is that progressives have managed to establish a stranglehold on culture and opinion: the arts, the universities, the media, the political class. It is sometimes said that conservatives are more drawn to business as a career choice. However, it is also the case that the liberal ascendency has silenced conservative voices in those fields with a singlemindedness and ruthlessness that conservatives have no wish to imitate. The consequence, in any case, is something one can only describe as cultural hegemony. Conservatives have to bend themselves out of shape to be heard at all, and however much real popular support they have, they can expect to be shouted down by the gate-keepers of polite opinion.

This has been going on for many decades, and conservative governments can often seem to be 'in office, but not in power', particularly on questions of culture. Their lack of effectiveness unsurprisingly undermines the motivation of their supporters.

Looking ahead, it seems increasingly possible that the conservative side of the conversation could be silenced by the manipulation of online advertising revenue: this will do irreparable harm to conservative political causes, but will conservative politicians do anything about it?

Or consider a well-established process, how fatherless families is doing irreparable damage to generations of poor children, morally, culturally, and financially. If social conservativism means anything, it means opposing this, but will conservative politicians do anything about it?

It would seem that they will act only if they value their political ideals over not being called rude names by liberal commentators: and so the answer is “no”.

Those calling for a new conservative coalition are right, but the task will not be an easy one.


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17/06/2020 - 10:00

Pagans attack Statue of St Boniface in Devon

As regular readers know I have an interest in neo-paganism and the related New Age movement. There is a FIUV Position Paper on these phenomena here.
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When St. Boniface traveled from Devon in England to convert the pagans of Germany in the 8th century, he did so with supernatural courage. The Germans’ savagery had been notorious for centuries, and they did, indeed, eventually martyr him, while he was traveling in Frisia (now the Netherlands) in the year 754. Fourteen centuries on, it seems that the pagans have returned to Devon. A stone statue of him in the small town of Crediton has had sprayed onto its pedestal the words “God is dead” and “Pagan justice,” the latter accompanied by a pentangle, the symbol of Satanism.
There is a lot of neo-paganism in England’s bucolic southwest. Glastonbury, some way to the north and east of Crediton, is a particular center. The incongruous combination of messages — suggesting atheism, paganism, and Satanism — is characteristic of the more militant varieties. The local newspaper describes the attackers as “anarchists,” which may be a fair description but seems intended to distract attention from the central point: that this vandalism has got nothing to do with the riots in the United States or London but is the manifestation of local anti-Christian hatred.
Pagan attacks on Christian and above all Catholic symbols and churches are nothing new. What the secular press would rather not say is that Christians are the targets of a sustained, if low-level, campaign of physical and spiritual violence: thefts, vandalism, and sacrilege. That this is so is very clear, talking to Catholics in this part of England, and also to pagan converts to the Faith. Neo-pagans are not all dreamy nature-lovers. It is common for them to harbor a deep antipathy to Christianity.

Read the whole thing.

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16/06/2020 - 13:47

Archdiocese of Munich in bizarre stunt with monstrance

My latest on LifeSite. 

When I first composed this it wasn't clear whether the host in the monstrance being placed in different locations for photographs was consecrated. Apparently it was not. This is a good, but the stunt is still outrageous. As something which holds the Blessed Sacrament, under the old rules the monstrance should not even be touched by a layman. Under the new ones, it should at least be treated with respect (Canon 1171; GIRM 327). In the FIUV Position Paper on Reception under the Form of Bread Alone, Appendix A is devoted to the subject of the handling of sacred vessels. It was forbidden for laymen to touch them in the very earliest sources of Canon law which we have, and is taken for granted by Gregory of Nazianzen, who died before the end of the 4th century. The Munich website would have shocked the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
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The Archdiocese of Munich has endorsed a bizarre and sacrilegious website that supposedly celebrates and elaborates the message of Corpus Christi. The creators, two “pastoral advisers,” Michael Raz and Johannes van Kruijsbergen, explain (translated from German by Google):
This festival is about showing people on the spot that God is in the middle of us, in the middle of the world, at all times. The idea arose to photograph the monstrance, i.e. this vessel for showing the body of Christ, in different places of everyday life. The oral project received broad approval from the other sixty or so pastors.
And so we have photographs of a monstrance in a playground, on a roadside bench, on a pedestrian crossing, in a car, next to a building site, on a water feature in a park, and so on, with supremely un-memorable little texts to accompany each one: how our lives are bit like a building site or whatever.
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13/06/2020 - 10:03

Western Civilisation has got to go!

My latest on LifeSite.

A lot of academic subjects have been infected with political correctness. Today, we are seeing on the streets and in the newsrooms some of the consequences. 
Not only are activists defacing and toppling statues of the kinds of people their university lecturers dismissed as “dead white males,” but they are being defended by journalists and politicians. 
The defacement of the statue of the man who, more than anyone else in Europe, opposed Fascism, Winston Churchill, and the memorial of the men and women who died in their tens of thousands for this cause, the Cenotaph in London, is not about opposing “racism” and “fascism.” It is about denigrating and removing from public view manifestations of the “Western Civilisation” that has been denigrated and reviled, especially in second-rate academic institutions, for the last 30 years.
Some academic disciplines have fared better than others. One of the least affected, Classics, is now under sustained attack by people who regard the whole idea of the study of ancient Greece and Rome as intrinsically problematic. I don’t think this is primarily about the colour of ancient Romans’ skins, and efforts by trendy Classicists like Dr. Mary Beard to point out (correctly) that ancient Rome was ethnically diverse, and that a black officer in Roman Britain was perfectly possible, will not be enough to get the activists off their backs. 

Read the whole thing.

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11/06/2020 - 17:06

J.K. Rowling faces down the mob

My latest on LifeSite

I’m not a great fan of J.K. Rowling. I regard her as overrated as an author of children’s books, and her forays into adult fiction have, by all accounts, been less successful. I don’t object in principle to magic playing a role in fiction (many great Catholic writers used it), but the Harry Potter series ends with a strange apologia for the culture of death. Watching her 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, ended any lingering doubts. A triumph of computer-generated special effects, the plot is an attack on religion, at both obvious and subtle levels: something for another post perhaps. I came away thinking that with this film, and of course her notorious post-mortem outing of her fictional character Dumbledore as a homosexual in 2007, fame and fortune had seized her for their own. She had decided to maximize her sales by serving the progressive fashions of the day. From now on, we can expect the kind of material Hollywood will instinctively love.
It is all the more surprising, then, to see her emerge as a champion of the rights of women, in defiance of the trans lobby. She has generated a few Twitter storms already and has now written an essay setting out her position in some detail. She has been ritually denounced by actors who played leading roles in her films, and, as she must realize, she is risking a lot of future revenue, as well as death threats, by leaving the winding but brightly-lit path of wokery. However she is already extremely wealthy, and has an immense fan base, so her vulnerability to the lynch mob is unusually low for a celebrity. This is of considerable significance, because people who defy the Jacobins of our age usually disappear from public view, if they refuse to back down. Rowling is not going anywhere.

Read the whole thing.

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10/06/2020 - 13:01

Guild of St Clare sponsorship for RSN Embroidery Certificate

Crewel work completed by our first sponsored
student, James Sharpe

Cross-posted from the Guild of St Clare blog.

In 2019 the Guild of St Clare made the first award under its Sponsorship Scheme to help a student through the Certificate Course at the Royal School of Needlework. Our sponsored student has made good progress, and as he enters his second year of part-time study, we can start sponsoring a second.

The deadline is 22nd June.

The RSN Certificate Course takes between one and four years, depending on how intensively students wish to do it. Its great flexibility makes it ideal for those who can only spare limited time, or whose availability fluctuates over the year. The Certificate gives its graduates a thorough grounding in a range of traditional hand-embroidery skills, skills for which the RSN is renowned, and which its experts apply to historic restoration projects and important commissions.

Sponsored students will be able to reclaim half the cost of their tuition days, up to a maximum of £2,000 a year (September 1st to September 1st), subject to satisfactory progress in the Certificate course, and their attendance at least one of the Guild’s two annual Sewing Retreats. Students at the RSN have to pay for tuition days when they book them; they would be reimbursed at that point. Progress will be monitored by reference to the successful completion of each module, and the reports which are provided by RSN tutors on each piece of work.

More information, and how to apply, can be found here.

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08/06/2020 - 17:40

Communion and Covid: from the Una Voce Federation

A press release from the FIUV. PDF version here.

Foederatio Internationalis 
Una Voce

Quae patronum invocat sanctum Gregorium Magnum Papam.

Press Release: Communion on the Tongue and Epidemic

In light of the recent statement (and here) by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, in the United States of America, on social distancing during the reception of Holy Communion, and related issues surrounding the reception of Holy Communion around the world in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic, the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) would like to make the following observations.

1. In the Ordinary Form, the universal law of the Church gives every Catholic the right to receive on the tongue. This was reaffirmed by the Congregation of Divine Worship in the context of earlier public health concerns, the so-called ‘Swine flu’ epidemic of 2009. (See for example RedemptionisSacramentum (2004) 92; Letter of the Congregation of Divine Worship 24th July 2009, Prot. N. 655/09/L.)

2. In the Extraordinary Form, the universal law of the Church allows for the reception of Holy Communion only on the tongue. (See UniversaeEcclesiae (2011) 28; MemorialeDomini (1969).)

3. In neither case can the law of the Church be set aside by the Ordinary.


4. The problem of maintaining physical distance between Minister and Communicant during the Reception of Holy Communion applies equally to Reception in the Hand as to Reception on the Tongue. In both cases Minister and Communicant are obliged to come close to each other, if only for a short time, and without touching. It is difficult to see how even the use of an instrument such as a pair of tongs (for which there are historical precedents) would enable Minister and Communicant to maintain a distance of six feet or two meters.

5. Canon law is rightly very restrictive in the penalties which bishops can impose on their priests for the breach of regulations of their own devising. Bishop Rodi’s attempt to prohibit priests who do not obey his regulations to celebrate public Masses—something which amounts to a partial suspension of a priest—goes beyond what Canon law would appear to justify. (See Canons 1316-1319).

6. It has become increasingly evident that there is no clear scientific basis for the claim that Reception on the Tongue is more likely to transmit the Coronavirus than Reception in the Hand. This has been the expert advice given to Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, USA, and to Archbishop José Antonio Eguren, of Piura, Peru, and it is also the view of the experts involved in the guidelines of the Thomistic Institute of Washington, DC, in the USA. If any bishops around the world are in possession of studies or expert opinions in conflict with this growing consensus, it behooves them to make these public as a matter of urgency.

7. Where local circumstances demand it, the suspension of the Reception of Holy Communion, of the celebration of Masses open to the public, and even the opening of churches for private prayer, have been ordered by bishops and public authorities. These measures are at least even-handed and, insofar as they are justified by genuine public health concerns, do not infringe the rights of the Faithful. As these measures are gradually lifted around the world, we urge bishops to continue to act in accordance with expert advice, not arbitrarily picking out certain priests and faithful for greater restrictions than those imposed on others, and with respect for the rights of the Faithful.

The President and Officers of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, 8th June 2020

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About the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV)

The FIUV represents the needs and concerns of the world-wide laity attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition, the Extraordinary Form. It has more than 45 member associations from Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia.

The Federation has a biennial General Assembly in Rome, and publishes a magazine twice a year, Gregorius Magnus.

CONTACT DETAILS

Website: www.fiuv.org

President, Felipe Alanís Suarez: president@fiuv.org

Secretary, Dr Joseph Shaw: secretary@fiuv.org

Treasurer, Monika Rheinschmitt: treasurer@fiuv.org
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06/06/2020 - 16:38

Singing and the Coronavirus

IMG_0203
The Schola Abelis, Oxford's Gregorian Chant Schola, shrouded in incence
in the rather roomy 'tribune' (choir loft) at Blackfiars back in 2018.

Some potentially good news: there is now some evidence that the idea that singing is a specially dangerous activity in the context of the pandemic is false.

At the outbreak of the pandemic very little relevant research existed, but some has now been done: this paper, awaiting its peer-review, is at least a hopeful sign.

One of its key points is that singing does not spread air--and therefore anything carried by air such as viruses riding on droplets of water--very far:

The experiments clearly show that air is only set in motion in the immediate vicinity of the mouth when singing. In the case of the professional singer, the experiments showed that at a distance of around 0.5 m, almost no air movement can be detected, regardless of how loud the sound was and what pitch was sung. It is therefore unlikely that the virus could spread beyond this limit via the air flow created during singing. Amateur musicians who do not use the diaphragmatic breathing most commonly used by professionals when singing, but rather the natural chest breathing, do not get beyond this range either. By singing a very loud and long sequence of the same tone at about 2 Hz, a slightly wider spread of air movement could be achieved.

From: "Singing in choirs and making music with wind instruments ‒ Is that safe during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?" by Christian J. Kähler (Prof. Dr.) and Rainer Hain (Dr.) Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics, University of the Bundeswehr Munich, Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany.

The hope is that the issue with choirs will be social distancing, contrary to the cramped conditions many choirs frequently have to endure both in rehearsal and performance, but not the act of singing itself.

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31/05/2020 - 10:00

Marriage to end in the UK: with a wimper

My latest on LifeSite.
The weakening of the UK’s divorce law is reaching its final stages. 
It is currently possible to end a marriage for almost any reason, or if you prefer to divorce for no reason at all, after a period of separation (two years with the agreement of the other party; five years without). It is almost impossible for a spouse to defend himself or herself against an application for divorce. For the Conservative Party Government in the UK, this isn’t good enough. They want to abolish the requirement to give any reasons (such as that old standby, “unreasonable behaviour”), and reduce the separation period to six months, or, if they feel like changing it again later, to nothing.
The justification being used by the government and repeated across the liberal media is that the current system forces couples to assign blame, unless they want to use the separation-period approach, which is presented as an intolerable burden. Giving reasons for wanting to end a supposedly life-long union, or creating a short time in which reconciliation might be attempted, doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable. Did I say “lifelong?” Well, that is how marriage is legally defined, with the proviso “unless legally terminated.”
In truth, the phrase is the pathetic remnant of a conception of marriage that is no longer given legal recognition.
29/05/2020 - 10:00

Cardinal Koch and the amalgamation of rites

An Altar Missal defaced to keep it up to date with the
liturgical changes of the 1960s

Cardinal Kurt Koch has taken up an idea which floats into the Catholic press every now and then, that the Extraordinary Form should be merged somehow with the Ordinary Form. Here in German, quoting the Cardinal at the end. The money quote (thanks to Google Translate) is

'The Eucharist is the central celebration of the unity of the church. It cannot have this meaning
when there is argument and confrontation around them.'

In that case, perhaps the extremists among the liturgical progressives should stop attacking the EF's right to exist. If they can't do that, I can't see them rallying around a rite which is a 'synthesis' of the two, and the conflict would continue: as it does, indeed, in practically every diocese and religious community where only the Ordinary Form is celebrated.

The argument is particularly puzzling, as there are far more than two liturgical forms in the Church. In major European and Middle Eastern cities alike one can find the Latin Rite liturgy celebrated in one church and a variety of Eastern Rites celebrated down the road. Cardinal Koch is in charge of ecumenism at the Vatican, and he cannot have forgotten the role of liturgical diversity in fostering unity, not impeding it, in the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Holy See. The same thing has long been the policy of the Vatican towards our separated brethren in the East. Imposing liturgical uniformity on the Church would be an ecumenical disaster.
I paste in below an article I wrote for the Catholic Herald online in July 2017, which is no longer available on their website, which addresses the version of this idea floated by Cardinal Sarah. It is interesting to see Cardinal Koch taking up the same term, 'reconciliation', as if it were the Forms which were in conflict, rather than Catholics with different views.

I followed this up with another piece on this blog which can be found here.

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Can the Old and New Masses be ‘reconciled’?

Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society

As Fr Raymond de Souza reports, Cardinal Sarah has called for the two ‘Forms’ of the Roman Rite, the 1970 ‘Ordinary’ Form (OF) and the more ancient Extraordinary Form (EF), to be ‘reconciled’. His reasons are confusing, but his proposals are unworkable.


Writing in a French publication, La Nef, Cardinal Sarah explains: ‘ “Reform of the reform” has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other.’ He prefers the phrase ‘liturgical reconciliation’.


The ‘Reform of the Reform’ is a movement among practitioners of the Ordinary Form, who argue over Latin, chant, the direction of worship, altar girls, and so on. It is one of the advantages of the Extraordinary Form that we don’t have to get into these battles. Cardinal Sarah, however, seems to want to solve the endless squabbling by bringing the older Mass into the equation as well.


First, he would like to impose some reform of the reform himself(according to The Tablet, reception of Communionkneeling and on the tongue, the ‘Prayers at the Foot of the Altar’, and the ‘canonical fingers’). Secondly, he wants concessions from the other side: but it turns out these are not concessions from advocates of the Reform of the Reform, but changes to the EF. It should adopt the Lectionary of the OF, and its calendar should align more closely with that of the OF.


The new lectionary is sometimes held up as obviously superior to the old, but not everyone committed to the reformed Mass agrees. The Toronto Oratorian Fr Jonathan Robinson, wrote (The Mass and Modernity, 2005, p332):


I think the diversity, rather than enriching people, tends to confuse them… This may be because the selections, as has been noted by others, were drawn up more to satisfy the sensibilities of liturgical scholars than on traditional liturgical principles.


However, another question is raised by Cardinal Sarah’s proposal: can the lectionaries of the two Forms simply by swapped over?


The short answer is ‘no’. To take the most obvious problem, the 1969 Lectionary has no readings for the season of Septuagesima, because that season does not exist in the 1969 calendar. Were the ‘Ordinary Time’ cycle simply extended to this period of three Sundays before Lent, its penitential orations would conflict with readings which can be used after Pentecost as well as before Lent.

Variations on this problem arise throughout the Church’s year. Many of the EF’s proper texts of feast days, and a good many Sundays, refer to the readings. The choice of readings in the Ordinary Form is so different from those in the Extraordinary Form that the discordance would be particularly jarring.

Thus, on Corpus Christi, the ancient Mass gives us a reading from on the danger of the unworthy reception of Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-9). St Paul’s message was excluded completely from the new Lectionary: it is not found even on a weekday. It was felt to be so important by the liturgical tradition, by contrast, that it is repeated emphatically by the wonderful Corpus Christi Sequence Lauda Sion, and again in the Communion antiphon.


A similar story could be told of all days of a penitential character, and to a greater or lesser extent of many other feasts and Sundays. It would be fair to say that a Mass with the new lectionary and the old prayers and chants would fulfil the intentions of neither the reformers nor of the liturgical tradition. This would have implications also for the Office, where the readings of Sunday Matins, for example, comment on the readings of the Sunday Mass.


It seems unlikely that Cardinal Sarah’s advisors have thought these issues through. Something else they might like to consider is the very different role of feastdays in the Extraordinary Form. Moving some to the same date as the OF might sound innocuous enough, but a wholesale revision would endanger the distinctive character of this Form, whose weekday celebrations are not distinguished by a daily Scripture-reading cycle, but by large numbers of often very ancient feast days. Many of the saints commemorated are invoked in the liturgy itself, in the Canon or in the Litany of the Saints. Removing them from the calendar, but not from the liturgical texts, would not strengthen the Extraordinary Form, but simply make its message—about the communion of saints, intercession, and continuity—harder to discern.


Above all I would like to suggest that the Church has nothing to fear from a varied liturgical landscape: a landscape becoming more varied as Eastern Rite Catholics flee to the West. Vatican II reassured us on this point (Unitatis redintegratio 17):


…from time to time one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed it to better advantage. In such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting.


This, surely, is the direction from which ‘liturgical reconciliation’ should come. 


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