Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

24/04/2016 - 10:00

Is UKIP harbouring anti-Catholics?

UKIP in Scotland has been accused, by Dr Jonathan Stanley, a former party official, of trying to hoover up sectarian votes by indulging in anti-Catholic rhetoric, The Scottish Catholic Observer The Tablet report. They refer to tweets by Caroline Santos, a candidate for the Holyrood elections which take place in May, for the South of Scotland.

I thought I'd have a look myself. Ms Santos has not deleted her tweets, which is interesting in itself, and I can't say I like the look what she says. I should add, of course, that UKIP is not the only party with activists, and even candidates for elected office, with dubious views. I'm interested in this because the target is the Catholic Faith.

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23/04/2016 - 12:51

God bless Michael Voris

I've had my differences with Michael Voris (and here), but never doubted his zeal and sincerity. The idea that the repented sins of his past life should cause one to question either zeal or sincerity is patently ludicrous, from a Catholic standpoint, and like pretty well everyone in the Catholic online community I am very impressed by his response, which can be seen here.

Liberals have a very different line, as their attacks on Kim Davis indicated not long ago. For anyone who has forgotten, Kim Davis was the elected County Clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She is a 'born again' Christian, and liberals thought they could undermine her witness to her faith by pointing at her former life - she'd been married four times. On so many levels, So what? What difference does it make to the truth or falsity of what she says? What difference does it make to the sincerity of her faith? What difference does it even make to whether she is assessed as a good person?

Liberals have a particular thing about those with same-sex attraction: that they are necessarily insincere if they don't follow the accepted homosexual political agenda. This attempt to coerce people into supporting you by denying their free will is simply insane.

The liberal media message about politicians and other opinion-formers seems to be that they are not allowed to talk about morality, or even about family policy, unless they are saints, because they would be hypocrites. And not if they are saints either, because that means they are out of touch. This neat little pincer movement means that no-one is allowed to talk about morality at all, and no one is allowed to say, for example, that two-parent families, with one parent of each biological sex, are preferable, other things being equal. This is not about hypocrisy, it is just about silencing inconvenient voices in public debate.

That's what they wanted to do with Kim Davis, and I have no doubt that this is what lots of people would like to do to Michael Voris. Voris is in a different position, however, since his audience is made up of Catholics serious about their Faith, and part of being serious about Catholicism is understanding the reality of repentance. We may not make as much fuss about reformed sinners as some evangelicals do, but we understand the reality of the phenomenon, and that the difference between St Augustine and the average pewsitter is just one of degree. Serious Catholics have not the slightest problem with listening to the insights of John Pridmore, a former gangster, or Joseph Pearce, a former senior National Front activist. The liberals can't harm Michael Voris by their threatened revelations; his pre-emptive confession of more details about his past life - the sinfulness of which he has never hidden - is not only the right thing to do in terms of crisis-management, is not going to do his reputation any harm: quite the opposite.

While rejoicing, with the angels, over the repentance of each sinner, I wouldn't want Catholics to adopt a more evangelical attitude, which could turn into a kind of voyeurism of sin. Voris' recent testimony is a model of honesty and also of prudent restraint about details. Let's not let our emotions run away with us about these things, and seek bigger and bigger thrills about people's conversion stories.

There are two reasons why the Catholic attitude is, or should be, different from the Evangelical one. First, we do not see conversion as necessarily either instantaneous or permanent. Conversion is a daily necessity, and involves the slow and painful overcoming of bad habits by good ones. Grace can be genuinely accepted and then lost. No one knows if he is saved until the moment of death and judgement, unless God grants him a private revelation, and that is rare.

A moment of conversion can be spectacular, when a sinner accepts the grace of repentance and makes a perfect act of contrition, and / or receives sacramental absolution: then he is freed from mortal sin, restored to spiritual life, and things may look suddenly different after a long period of darkness. But not all conversions are like that, and even when they are, hard work remains, and success is not guaranteed.

The second reason is that we don't think that all saints were once sinners. A lot were. A lot weren't. The point is, it is not a necessary rite of passage, as it is sometimes treated in Protestant thinking. Sentimental hagiographies from the late 19th century sometimes play down the sins of the saints to a ridiculous degree, but let's not make the opposite mistake, and run away with the idea that to be an authentic Christian you have to sleep around when young, and maybe kill someone in a pub brawl. Our Lord is our model, and He never committed even a venial sin. Our Blessed Lady was not a sinner: not even for a moment. St John the Baptism was freed from the stain of Original Sin in his mother's womb, so he never experienced the sinful desires of the fallen human condition. St Therese probably never committed a mortal sin. Avoiding sin does not make you inhuman: it makes you more human, human as God wants us to be.

Sin is a tragedy. God's grace and forgiveness is a miraculous triumph over that tragedy. The wonderful variety of saints in heaven illustrates the infinite creativity of God's providence.

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22/04/2016 - 15:11

Why the 'Old Mass' disturbs a conformist age: in the Catholic Herald

I have a feature article in this weekend's Catholic Herald. It's not online, you'll have to buy a copy to read it. Here's an extract.

That liturgical traditionalism should lead away from, and not towards, an uncritical acceptance of the established order of politics and society should not be surprising, and this reality is manifesting itself again today. Attending the ancient liturgy now, as in the past, implies taking seriously the longer view: a view from which divorce and abortion are not just facts of life, where the vision of Catholic education is not just a matter of tweaking the National Curriculum, and where the Church’s teachings about Usury and the Social Kingship of Christ might be worth a second glance. In terms of the party politics of 2016, it is a view, as Pope Francis would express it, from the periphery. It is view which takes the vulnerable, the ignored, and the exploited, more seriously than it takes the cognoscenti.

This is matched by the Traditional Mass’s ability to attract diverse congregations. At a time when too often Catholics segregate themselves into social, educational, and linguistic categories by choosing which parish and which version of the Ordinary Form they attend, a complete range of people can be found at the EF. Catholics attracted to a more counter-cultural view of the Faith, naturally see the Faith which unites them as more important than anything which divides them.

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21/04/2016 - 17:24

Ascension and Bach: another lost opportunity

J.S. Bach

Another meeting of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and another missed opportunity to restore Ascension, along with Epiphany and Corpus Christi, to the days they have occupied for umpteen centuries, the days they are celebrated in St Peter's in Rome, and the days they are celebrated even by many non-Catholic Christians. And to the days they are celebrated in the Extroardinary Form of the Roman Rite.

On Sunday 8th May, Oxford Bach Soloists are doing something rather fun: they are singing the two Cantatas written by J.S. Bach for the Sunday after Ascension. Bach wrote masses of cantatas for liturgical use, and they correspond to the liturgical calendar, with references to the readings and proper prayers. He did this for the German Lutherans, and the German Lutherans had essentially the same calendar, the same readings, and even many of the same prayers, as the ancient Latin Missal. The same is true of the Book of Common Prayer, where, with the odd theological tweak, you'll see Cranmer's translations of ancient Latin collects on the very same days as they are used in the Extraordinary Form.

So Bach wrote these particular cantatas for 'Exaudi Sunday': the Sunday 'within the Octave of the Ascension' (in the days Ascension had an octave), whose Introit, the first prayer of the Mass, starts with the words 'Exaudi, Domine, vocem meam': 'Hear, O Lord, my voice!' The Epistle, from 1 Peter 4, is an exhortation to persevere in good works. The Gospel, from John 15, is about how the Holy Ghost at Pentecost will give testimony, with the warning that the Apostles will be ejected from the Synagogues, and those killing them will believe that they are doing a good work before God.

The collection of these texts in one liturgical celebration is, like so much of what inspired Bach, Catholic, for all the theological differences between Lutherans and Catholics in his day. In important ways it is Catholic liturgical spirituality and thinking which form the backdrop to some of his finest work. But these liturgical artefacts are no longer available as a coherent whole to Catholics attending the Ordinary Form. In those vanishingly rare places where Introits are sung in the Ordinary Form, 'Exaudi Domine' is given for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, whose relationship with Easter depends on how early or late Easter is. The lections have been exiled from the Sunday cycles altogether.

But in England and Wales, the very concept of the Sunday after Ascension has now been abolished. We are in the embarassing situation of saying to people like the Bach soloists: well, these texts used to be used in Catholic worship; the idea of a Sunday to pause for reflection between the Ascension and Pentecost used to be one we had in the Catholic liturgy; we used to have some continuity with this historical, cultural, and spiritual reality Bach is writing this wonderful music about.

The idea of using these kinds of cultural hooks to engage in some form of subtle evangelisation is associated with Pope Benedict, but it was Pope Francis, in Amoris laetitia, who wrote (208):

Nor should we underestimate the pastoral value of traditional religious practices. To give just one example: I think of Saint Valentine’s Day; in some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church.

As good as his word, every year, on St Valentine's Day, Pope Francis gives a blessing in St Peter's Square for young couples. But wait! When is St Valentine's Day? It does not exist in the 1970 Calendar.

As I have noted on this blog before, Bugnini consciously worked against traditional religious practices, which had found their way into popular culture, because he thought of them as a distraction from the liturgy. In the 1956 reform of Holy Week many traditional practices became impossible, and others were left stranded in the wrong place: an example being the blessing of eggs in Poland, which still happens on the afternoon of the Saturday of Holy Week, even though this is now before the Vigil, and not after it.

The process of the liturgy seeping into culture, creating cultural opportunities for evangelisation, is the work of centuries. Destroying these connections is the work of moments.

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19/04/2016 - 12:00

Amoris laetitia on gender roles and parenting

Don't be too indulgent to them, says Pope Francis. Children at the Family Retreat.

Tim Stanley has written an article in the Telegraph about how Pope Francis has turned out, in Amoris laetitia, to be something of a social conservative, highlighting a passage I drew attention to on this blog about the handing on of traditions, and the need for continuity and a sense of history. I'd like to take this idea further, on the specific issue of the kind of family the Holy Father wants to foster.

Pope Francis says he is in favour of Feminism and against Patriarchy, but liberal readers may beg to differ, having rather different ideas about what those terms mean. Pope Francis writes:
54. There are those who believe that many of today’s problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation. This argument, however, is not valid, “it is false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism”. The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity. 

The key word here is 'recoprocity': equal dignity does not, for Pope Francis, mean 'interchangable in function', it means equal in dignity, with distinct functions. And so he goes on - yes, I'm afraid so - to affirm traditional gender roles and traditional parenting.

You see, men and women just aren't the same:
136. Men and women, young people and adults, communicate differently. They speak different languages and they act in different ways.

Nor should they be the same.
173: I certainly value feminism, but one that does not demand uniformity or negate motherhood. For the grandeur of women includes all the rights derived from their inalienable human dignity but also from their feminine genius, which is essential to society. Their specifically feminine abilities – motherhood in particular – also grant duties, because womanhood also entails a specific mission in this world, a mission that society needs to protect and preserve for the good of all.

He has encouragement for 'stay-at-home' mothers.
49. The problems faced by poor households are often all the more trying. For example, if a single mother has to raise a child by herself and needs to leave the child alone at home while she goes to work, the child can grow up exposed to all kind of risks and obstacles to personal growth. 

He also speaks of the essential role of fathers.
55. Men “play an equally decisive role in family life, particularly with regard to the protection and support of their wives and children… Many men are conscious of the importance of their role in the family and live their masculinity accordingly. The absence of a father gravely affects family life and the upbringing of children and their integration into society. This absence, which may be physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual, deprives children of a suitable father figure”.

Taking up one's gender role is actually a central part of spiritual growth in marriage.
221. Might we say that the greatest mission of two people in love is to help one another become, respectively, more a man and more a woman? 

A traditional form of upbringing for children includes, naturally, discipline. Pope Francis devotes a whole sub-chapter to the 'The value of correction as an incentive'; it begins:
268. It is also essential to help children and adolescents to realize that misbehaviour has consequences. They need to be encouraged to put themselves in other people’s shoes and to acknowledge the hurt they have caused. Some punishments – those for aggressive, antisocial conduct - can partially serve this purpose. 

Pope Francis does not want parents to be easy-going. On the contrary:
260: Parents need to consider what they want their children to be exposed to, and this necessarily means being concerned about who is providing their entertainment, who is entering their rooms through television and electronic devices, and with whom they are spending their free time. ...Vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial.

 They should imbue their children with the virtue of modesty:
282. A sexual education that fosters a healthy sense of modesty has immense value, however much some people nowadays consider modesty a relic of a bygone era. Modesty is a natural means whereby we defend our personal privacy and prevent ourselves from being turned into objects to be used. Without a sense of modesty, affection and sexuality can be reduced to an obsession with genitality and unhealthy behaviours that distort our capacity for love, and with forms of sexual violence that lead to inhuman treatment or cause hurt to others.

Pope Francis goes on in the following sections to say that sex education should precisely not be what it is in progressive educational theory: an education in 'safe sex.'

He is equally emphatic about the role of parents as primary educators, and develops this point at some length. Parents should set out to form their children morally:
264. Parents are also responsible for shaping the will of their children, fostering good habits and a natural inclination to goodness. This entails presenting certain ways of thinking and acting as desirable and worthwhile, as part of a gradual process of growth. 

This should include - indeed, start with - table manners.
266. Good habits need to be developed. Even childhood habits can help to translate important interiorized values into sound and steady ways of acting. A person may be sociable and open to others, but if over a long period of time he has not been trained by his elders to say “Please”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry”, his good interior disposition will not easily come to the fore.

All of this guidance and formation is to make possible a child's freedom, which is not conceived in a liberal fashion, which is to say in a negative fashion, as the ability to go in lots of different directions, but positively, as having as few impediments as possible in grasping the true and good.
267. Freedom is something magnificent, yet it can also be dissipated and lost. Moral education has to do with cultivating freedom through ideas, incentives, practical applications, stimuli, rewards, examples, models, symbols, reflections, encouragement, dialogue and a constant rethinking of our way of doing things; all these can help develop those stable interior principles that lead us spontaneously to do good.

A picture of the Bergoglian household emerges, which looks like something, I suppose, which would have been recognisable to Pope Francis' own childhood: he was born in 1936. A person of that generation, aware of the changes in attitudes which have taken place since then, has to make an assessment and decide what to reject and what to uphold of the way things used to be done. Pope Francis warns us against inflexibility, against legalism, and against coldness, but he wants to hand on to the future what was good about the traditional forms. He warns fiercly against the selfishness which often leads to divorce, against contraception (80), against abortion (83), against IVF (81), against gender theory (56), and against same-sex marriage (250: the only mention of homosexuality in the document).

In dealing with the aftermath of divorce, he may not speak as clearly as we would like, and he may not even be on the right track in stressing inclusiveness over the problems of bad example and infidelity. He does at least make it clear that these are matters of policy, and while passionately adhering to his own view, there is no question of doctrinal teaching at issue. On the contrary, things are left to bishops and priests - a burden which they may not always welcome. Nevertheless, the overall picture gives scant comfort to liberal Catholics, and absolutely none to liberals outside the Church.

I was struck, discussing Amoris laetitia on national television, how utterly irrelevant to the concerns of even Catholic progressives the apparent concessions made to them in the Exhortation are. There was a man from ACTA, who complained that the views gathered in the pre-Synod questionnaires had been ignored, and a lady from Women's Ordination Worldwide who wasn't going to be happy until the Pope was a woman. The presenter, Nicky Campbell, wanted to bring the conversation around to contraception, and a former News of the World editor wanted to rail about the Church's role in stopping the spread of abortion to Northern Ireland. This may be an argument that those apparent concessions were pointless. But it also shows that they aren't going to make as much difference as some people imagine.

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18/04/2016 - 14:16

The Big Questions on YouTube

As predicted, Sunday's TV debate now appears on YouTube for the benefit of non-UK based readers.

I didn't say anything in the first of the three discussions (about the right to privacy). Here's the second of the three: 'Does the Vatican need to give more power to women?' Caroline Farrow kicks of the discussion; I come in later, in response to something said by a lady from a Catholic Women's Ordination group called Miriam, who was actually invited by the presenter to interupt Caroline. Miriam's intervention starts at 8 minutes 20 seconds.

The next clip shows the last of the three topics: 'Does God care what you wear?' I appear on this 11 minutes in; Caroline Farrow spoke from 7 minutes 50 seconds.

I've been on BBC radio three times - twice the local Oxford station, and once with Edward Stourton - and yesterday morning's appearance on The Big Questions was my first appearance on the Telly, but it conformed to my expectations.

Ever since I can remember, left-wing and liberal points have had the biggest applause on BBC debate shows. On The Big Questions, it would seem that they are the only ones which get any applause at all. (Although I think I raised a bit of laugh once or twice.) I don't know how they select their audience, but it is clearly not the same way they select the panel. They wanted to get conservative Catholic voices on the show, it wasn't an accident, and if Caroline Farrow and I had to work harder than other pannellists to make our points, at least we were able to contribute. There was just very little sympathy for us - or to the rather pleasant Sikhs, or the very reasonable Muslim lady - on the back benches. This isn't rocket-science: every religious or culturally conservative point being made on the BBC's airtime is made to a backdrop of disapproval.

It makes us come across as somewhat embattled, but then again I suppose we are a minority voice in 21st century Britain, and it is better to be heard in this way, than not at all. The trick is to use the limited band-width accorded to us to be say something striking and forceful, without allowing ourselves to be portrayed as nutters.

That laywer chap, Mark Stephens, can be as aggressive as he likes, because he is reassuring the studio audience their prejudices need not be disturbed. It is amazing, even more with the cool light of hindsight, to see how the mention of women covering their heads in church actually got me shouted down.

This, or something else I said, even got me a classic social-media death-threat. Judging by his twitter-feed, he is on the political right. There is actually no indication what exactly he objected to.


We'll see if I get asked back!

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17/04/2016 - 16:26

See me on The Big Questions

You can see me talk about two of the three topics discussed on this morning's 'The Big Questions' on BBC 1, presented by Nicky Campbell,

on IPlayer here, if you are in the UK. The topics to which I contribute start at 25 minutes in.

(Chances are it'll be on YouTube pretty soon for an international audience.)

The topics were: in light of Amoris laetitia, should women have more power in the Catholic Church? and, Does God care what you wear?

I enjoy a bit of rough and tumble in debate, and I'm used to it. Having reviewed the footage, I'm reasonably pleased that I got certain points across, and I think my contributions made for interesting TV. What does strike me, on reviewing it, was the enormous amount of time allowed to the advocate for women's ordination in the Catholic Church: it looks more like a party political broadcast than a contribution to a debate programme.

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16/04/2016 - 18:15

Pope Francis the Traditionalist

The Child Jesus among the Doctors of the Law: the Fifth Joyful Mystery, from Aylesford.

Truly, all Catholics are Traditionalists: to be Catholic is to respect tradition, to want to see tradition strengthened rather than cast aside. A proper Catholic attitude to the traditions of the Faith, whether it be Tradition as a channel of Revelation, or Apostolic and Ecclesial traditions, inevitably spills over into a respect for human traditions, even if these need to be evaluated more carefully. Pope Francis eloquently expresses his own concern for tradition in this passage of Amoris laetitia, starting from a discussion of the elderly.

192. ...Their words, their affection or simply their presence help children to realize that history did not begin with them, that they are now part of an ageold pilgrimage and that they need to respect all that came before them. Those who would break all ties with the past will surely find it difficult to build stable relationships and to realize that reality is bigger than they are. “Attention to the elderly makes the difference in a society. Does a society show concern for the elderly? Does it make room for the elderly? Such a society will move forward if it respects the wisdom of the elderly”.

193. The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. A mentality that can only say, “Then was then, now is now”, is ultimately immature. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. Memory is necessary for growth: “Recall the former days” (Heb 10:32). Listening to the elderly tell their stories is good for children and young people; it makes them feel connected to the living history of their families, their neighborhoods and their country. A family that fails to respect and cherish its grandparents, who are its living memory, is already in decline, whereas a family that remembers has a future. “A society that has no room for the elderly or discards them because they create problems, has a deadly virus”; “it is torn from its roots”. Our contemporary experience of being orphans as a result of cultural discontinuity, uprootedness and the collapse of the certainties that shape our lives, challenges us to make our families places where children can sink roots in the rich soil of a collective history.

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15/04/2016 - 15:55

The problem of divorce in the first place

The Visitation. From the Rosary Walk at Aylesford Priory.

I, like many people, have been rather focused on the question of what happens after the divorce of a Catholic couple. There is a danger of allowing a very dubious liberal assumption to go unchallenged: that marital breakdown 'just happens', and when it happens it is by definition irreparable.

Catholics are not allowed to walk out on their spouses whenever they fancy. Knowing that this is the case puts one in a different frame of mind in dealing with marital problems. If this truth is not taught and understood, Catholic spouses, and their children, are exposed to the horrible problems of divorce as practiced in the secular world.

If you don't have a firm grip on the obligations of marriage, the obligation to maintain a common life - not walk out - the contribution of the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage is to make life more difficult, without any compensation. But that is exactly the situation we have. Marriage is indissoluble, we are told, but in practice the Church places no constraint on separation. In theory, the Church condemns separation except for a limited number of very grave causes; in theory, Catholics with marital difficulties should go to their bishop before seeking legal separation or divorce, to determine the justice of such a move. But no one wants to call unjust separation and divorce, and marital abandonment, what it is: a grave sin.

And things are getting worse. The recent reform of the annulment procedure has made defence against a declaration of nullify even harder than before.

This below is from 'Mary's Advocates', a campainigng group.

Imagine you are a child that doesn’t want your married parents to divorce. In the U.S.A., with no-fault divorce, millions of parents file for divorce against the other spouse, when the other spouse wants to keep the family intact and has done nothing severe enough to justify separation.

These children hope and pray that someone will help save them and their family from divorce. If the Catholic Church implemented her own canon law on separation and divorce, at least the Church would be trying to keep families together.

The children in these families don’t want to lose their home (which typically happens in divorce) because after lawyers are paid, and the property is split between two parents, there is not enough money to keep the family home. They’ll lose their every-day access to the parent that doesn’t want divorce. The children are saddened that they will never be able to bring their own future children to visit Grandma and Grandpa in the same home. Even though it makes children cringe, if one parent has a new sex-partner, the children will be ordered to spend overnight visits with the parent that has the new sex partner. Or, the children will have to live with the parent and the new sex partner.

In the no-fault divorce culture, nobody is standing for marriage and Mary’s Advocates, the non-profit organization, is working to change that. Letters were recently mailed to approximately one third of the dioceses in the U.S. asking the Church to teach what the Catechism and canon law actually teaches about divorce.

If an unhappy Catholic spouse insisted on forcing divorce on his or her family, even after being instructed by the Church that there is no legitimate reason for separation, at least the children would know that Jesus’ Church spoke in support of their need and desire for an intact family.

Tragically, there are professed Catholics who file for divorce and think they have done nothing wrong, because some priest had affirmed their choice, numbing their conscience. If we lived in a different era, the outcome of civil divorce proceedings might have been in accord with divine law. However, spouses are now filing for divorce when the other has done nothing grave enough to justify separation. Wanting a breakup in these circumstances is in fact "malicious abandonment" in the Catholic tradition.

Why Marry in the Church At All

People ask, "Why would anyone care about getting married in the Church anyway?" because the Church doesn't appear to care. The publicized pastoral care seems to be as follows:

1. Prior to a marriage, a priest reviews with a couple the doctrine of the permanence of marriage and the requirement of sexual fidelity; the spouses agree to work out any future marriage difficulties.

2. Years later, when one party wants out, a second priest will affirm the spouse wanting the breakup who now says, "I think I was immature when I married; I've fallen out of love, and I'm unhappy and tired."

3. A third priest, who works at the tribunal office will instruct the party who wants the breakup that he or she is required to get a civil divorce first. The civil lawyers take lots and lots of money; the children and property are split in whatever random fashion is customary in the area.

4. Finally, a fourth priest acts as a Procurator/Advocate and writes an annulment petition. In the dioceses that cover half the population of the United States, tribunals decided the marriage was invalid for 98.7% of the petitioners in 2012.*

Rather than following this pattern, Mary's Advocates proposes an alternative. Before divorce, the Church could conduct an investigation and instruct the spouse wanting the breakup whether there is a legitimate basis to file for civil divorce (i.e. simply follow canon law). Furthermore, only the ecclesiastic authority has jurisdiction to determine the parameters of a separation plan which is in accord with divine law (cf. canon 1692).

(*note. Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have criticized the misuse of canon law to grant annulments for alleged immaturity.)

See letter to bishops.

Pointing bishops to webpage about canon law on separation. Bai Macfarlane Mary’s Advocates DONATE 330-690-8942 "Pray daily for the Roman Rota and for all who work in the sector of the administration of justice in the Church, with recourse to the motherly intercession of Mary Most Holy, Speculum iustitiae." Pope Benedict XVI's Address Jan. 26 2008 Reply Forward Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

13/04/2016 - 12:00

New study on the Lectionary: old and new

Mathew Hazell's Index Lectionem is a comprehensive comparison of the old and new Lectionaries. It is not exactly bedtime reading - it is a huge table. But the contents are fascinating. Buy it here.

Peter Kwasniewski notes in the Introduction:

John 19:25–27: 'Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.'

In the older form of the Mass, this Gospel is read each year for the Seven Sorrows of the BVM (September 15), the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM (Friday after Passion Sunday), the Immaculate Heart of the BVM (August 22), the Common of Our Lady on Saturdays (fourth formulary), and feasts celebrated in particular places, e.g., Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces (May 8). A Catholic frequenting the usus antiquior would hear this Gospel several times a year. At an Ordinary Form Mass, he is likely, at best, to hear these verses only once, in passing, on Good Friday, since all other uses of it are optional and buried among numerous options 

What the table looks like. This page illustrates how the texts,
here from Daniel, chosen by each lectionary differ.

No doubt for different reasons, the following two verses, 1 Corinthians 10:7-9, part of the Traditional Lectionary for the 9th Sunday After Pentecost, are totally excluded from the 1970 Lectionary.

Neither become ye idolaters, as some of them, as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ: as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents.

So is this passage, of a quite different character, across Romans 12:17–21, used in the old Lectionary as part of the Epistle of the 3rd Sunday After the Epiphany:

To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

The Gospel of John. To a remarkable
extent, what is in the old Lectionary
is not in the new: and vice versa.

Dr Kwasniewski gives more examples, and the book sets out the whole thing in detail. None of this would be surprising if the reform of the Lectionary did not have as its chief publicly stated purpose (and the only purpose given it by the Second Vatican Council), that of providing a larger selection of scriptural texts. It is indeed a larger set of texts, but they still went to amazing trouble to exclude texts they didn't like, for a variety of reasons, from use. Some are buried among scores of options given for votive Masses unlikely ever to be considered, let alone used; others are completely absent.

As Bugnini noted in his book Reform of the Liturgy, Pope Paul didn't even look at the lectionary in detail. He was too busy, so he just approved it. It represents an extraordinary and surely unprecedented imposition on the Church of the whims of a group of experts. Far from being, as is frequently asserted, an undisputable success of the Reform, the Lectionary is a real problem: and one which is only beginning to be studied.

This book will be an indispensible aid to that study.

See the Position Paper on the Lectionary here.

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