Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Solemn High Requiem at Westminster Cathedral

As I mentioned in an earlier post I went down to London for the LMS` annual requiem on November 17th. Today I received these pictures of the event together with an account of the Mass. One of the reasons I went all the way to London was to hear Victoria`s Requiem sung in a liturgical context (the press release doesn`t make clear that this was sung) .

Here is the text:


For Immediate Release

29 November 2007

Bishop John Arnold of Westminster Becomes First English and Welsh Bishop to Celebrate the Traditional Rite in Westminster Cathedral Since the Liturgical Changes of 1969

Bishop John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass of Requiem in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 27 November. He did so at the request of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. The Mass was organised by the Latin Mass Society. Bishop Arnold’s Assistant Priest was Fr Andrew Wadsworth; the Deacon was Fr Andrew Southwell and the Sub-deacon Fr Benjamin Durham FSSP.

A large congregation of over 700 heard the men of the Cathedral Choir sing traditional plainchant. The bishop also preached. His theme was preparation for death as an access into new life in the knowledge that “Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to complete His plan of redemption for all.” At Requiem Masses Catholics have the privilege of offering prayers for the dead and the chance of imitating in this life the goodness which many of those who have gone before us embodied. Death is a sign of hope that one day we might enjoy “eternal life in the presence of a God who loves us more than we could dare to imagine.”

Before Mass, a wreath was laid by Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS, and other LMS Committee members on the grave of Cardinal Heenan in the cathedral nave in thanksgiving for the Cardinal’s efforts to preserve the Extraordinary (Traditional) Form of the Roman Rite. Father Patrick Hayward was chaplain for the occasion.

John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS, said: “The LMS is grateful to Cardinal Cormac and to Bishop John for their pastoral charity towards those many Catholics attached to the Traditional Roman Rite. We are also very grateful to Mgr Mark Langham, the Cathedral Administrator, for making us welcome in the cathedral. We look forward to celebrations of the Extraordinary Form in many more of our cathedrals throughout England and Wales.”

. . . . ENDS . . . .

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or Yvonne Windsor, LMS Office Administrator, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

The Extraordinary Form at Longbenton

After much consideration, I have decided that the best way to accomodate the request for a Sunday Mass in the EF is to have a Mass on Sunday evenings at SS Peter and Paul, Longbenton. Initially this will be once a month on the first Sunday of the month at 6pm. The church is better suited to the liturgy than St Mary`s and a Sunday evening mass at St Mary`s will clash with the parish youth group who meet in the church hall which was created out of the original sanctuary. When we had the High Mass on September 23rd the noise was very distracting and they were doing their best to keep quiet!

So we will have the first Mass this Sunday evening and I`m glad to say it will be a Missa Cantata. I hope this will generally be the case but it is difficult without, for the moment, singers from the parish. However the Schola Gregoriana are able to come this Sunday and we are glad they can.

Recruiting servers ought to be easier. So far I have one server from the parish but I hope others will follow with a little encouragement.

Nothing has been done with the strange statue of Christ coming off the cross as yet but I hope we will be able to address that in the New Year as the parish council at SS Peter and Paul are in favour of a change.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fr Timothy Radcliffe on`Facing difference in the Church.`

The weekend before last, there was a conference in this diocese at which the main speaker was Sr Helen Prejean. I didn`t make any of the conference but I was given a copy of a talk given by one of the other speakers, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, the former Master-general of the Dominicans. The title of his talk was `Facing difference in the Church`.

I find it hard not to like Fr Radcliffe. I enjoyed his book `I call you friends`. In the talk of which I have a copy, he spoke about divisions in the Church and the need for `liberals` and `conservatives` to speak to each other. I think this is progress. I`m not keen on the tags `liberal` and `conservative` as they generally refer to those who are happy to follow the Magisterium and those who aren`t and they smack too much of politics.

However as regards Summorum Pontificum Fr Radcliffe had this to say in the context of dialogue between Catholics:

But what do liberal Catholics fear? I suggest that there is a deep unease that the Church is stuck or even retreating. After the Council, many people dreamed of a Church that would be radically transformed. Forty years later, this has not happened, at least not as the liberals hoped. does this mean that we may be stuck forever with a Church that is over-centralised, authoritarian, patriarchal, exclusive of women? Some people ask how they can remain if the Church does not change.

Maybe this is why the Pope`s decision about the Tridentine Mass has been the focus of such an intense anxiety for many `liberal` Catholics. You would not expect that the celebration of the Eucharist in its ancient form would be quite so threatening. Of course it matters how you celebrate the Eucharist, but this issue has become symbolic of something deeper, that the Council is being undone. I gave a retreat for a southern diocese a few weeks ago and the topic evoked profound angst. When I asked whether there had actually been any requests for more celebrations of the Tridentine rite, it seemed there had been none.

So no need to panic as there have been no requests. I suppose if your parish priest is complaining bitterly about the Motu Proprio a Catholic may think there is no point in approaching him with a request. It might only upset the poor man more. I know at the minute of a group of parishioners who are preparing to approach their parish priest with such a request and am very interested to see what happens. Catholics who would take offence at the suggestion that they are `against Vatican II` and yet desire to worship in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, especially younger ones, including priests, who don`t see what all the fuss is about, need to be sensitive to the reaction that such requests may produce in older Catholics. Yet now the so-called Tridentine rite is part of the current form of the Roman rite and I suppose it will take a while for this to percolate through.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Archbishop Ranjith on Communion in the hand

Thanks to Fr Finigan on the Hermenutic of Continuity for pointing out this part of a recent interview with Archbishop Ranjith. Father translates as follows:

Let us distinguish carefully. The post-conciliar reform was not entirely negative; on the contrary, there are many positive aspects in what has been realised. But there are also changes introduced without authorisation which continue to be carried forward despite their harmful effects on the faith and liturgical life of the Church.

I speak for example of a change that was brought about in the reform which was not proposed either by the Council Fathers or by Sacrosanctum Concilium, that is, communion in the hand. This contributed in a way to a certain loss of faith in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This practice, and the abolition of the altar rails, of kneelers in churches, and the introduction of practices which obliged the faithful to remain seated or standing during the elevation of the Most Holy Sacrament reduced the genuine meaning of the Eucharist and the sense of profound adoration which the Church should direct towards the Lord, the Only-begotten Son of God.

It is indeed interesting to see a reference to communion in the hand contributing to a certain loss in faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (ad un certo calo di fede nella Presenza reale di Cristo nell’Eucaristia).

It`s getting hard to keep up with the good archbishop but at a quick glance at the rest of this interview I see the practice of standing or sitting throughout the consecration is condemned, the using of churches for secular meetings, the hiding away of the tabernacle in churches, the confusion of the roles of the clergy and laity on the sanctuary which renders it a `place of disturbance and of too much movement and not certainly `the place` where the Christian is able to grasp the sense of amazement and splendour before the presence and saving action of the Lord.` Also the use of dancing and musical instruments not suited to the liturgy as well as homilies of a political character.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The fruits of liturgical abuse

It seems it is thanks to the efforts of the liturgical abusers that we have been gifted with Summorum Pontificum. So maybe all those Masses with liturgical dancers and coffee table Masses were worth it in the long run.

From yesterday`s CWN

Vatican official: Abuse of norms contributed to Tridentine decision
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A lack of respect for the norms for celebrating the Mass after the Second Vatican Council contributed to Pope Benedict XVI's decision to grant wider permission for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, a Vatican official said.

"There is a certain tendency to interpret the post-conciliar liturgical reform using 'creativity' as the rule," said Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

An interview with the archbishop was published in the Nov. 19-20 edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, after he had given a speech and an interview in which he criticized bishops and priests who were putting restrictions on celebrations of the Tridentine Mass even after Pope Benedict authorized wider use of the rite in July.

In his decree, the pope said the Tridentine Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it.

He also said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form.

L'Osservatore introduced the interview by saying, "The debate over liturgy is as open and lively as ever."

The paper asked Archbishop Ranjith if he thought it made sense that the pope's July document on the Tridentine Mass "reignited the confrontation between the so-called traditionalists and so-called innovators."

"Absolutely not," the archbishop replied, because the two rites for the Mass both belong to the church and are a sign of continuity."

Regarding the Tridentine Mass, over the years there was a growing request, which little by little became more organized," he said.

"On the other side, fidelity to the norms for the celebration of the sacraments continued to fall," he said.

"The more this fidelity (and) a sense of the beauty and awe in the liturgy diminished, the more requests for the Tridentine Mass increased."

"So, in fact, who really requested the Tridentine Mass? It was not just these groups, but also those who had little respect for the norms of a worthy celebration according to the 'Novus Ordo,'" or new order, he said, referring to the post-Vatican II liturgy.

"For years the liturgy suffered too many abuses and many bishops ignored them" despite the efforts of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Ranjith said.

"So the problem was not requests for the Tridentine Mass as much as an unlimited abuse of the nobility and dignity of the eucharistic celebration," he said.

Archbishop Ranjith said that although the church's liturgy has developed and changed over the centuries "we must recognize that the liturgy has a particular 'conservative' characteristic" because it is a part of the church's heritage that must be preserved.

"This is a central aspect: We are called to be faithful to something that does not belong to us, but is given to us," he said.

L'Osservatore also asked Archbishop Ranjith about liturgical music and art, saying they were other aspects in "the debate about the liturgy.

"Gregorian chant has a special place in the liturgy, he said, and it should be used "to give praise to the Lord.

"Other forms of music also are appropriate, he said, if one is sure that "they are edifying for the faith, that they spiritually nourish those who participate in the liturgy and truly dispose the hearts of the faithful to listen to God's voice."

As for the visual arts, Archbishop Ranjith said the church must find ways to enter into a deeper dialogue with artists to encourage religious art, but also to ensure that pieces of art in places of worship help people pray.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, he said, has scheduled a Dec. 1 study day to discuss ways to promote religious art for liturgy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Leading the Way

The Dutch were always considered the most `progressive` of Catholics in the years after Vatican II. Now it seems they are at the forefront of the New Liturgical Movement. A while ago news came out of the Dutch bishops had published an edition of the Ordinary of the Extraordinary (!) form. A couple of days ago the story came out that the Dutch bishops are to ensure that seminarians learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. (Cf. Rorate Caeli) Good to see that it seems Rome will ask for this in the expected document from Ecclesia Dei. It is the logical consequence of the Motu Proprio, as I have mentioned before. I look forward to seeing what happens at our local seminary at Ushaw which is now awaiting a new rector.

On a technical note, the report about the recent training day for foreign priests at Ushaw said it `outside Durham in Northumberland` ! Ushaw is not in Northumberland but in Co. Durham.

Pope Benedict overhauls music at the Vatican

It would be encouraging to see a musician of international renown given charge of papal musical affairs.
From today`s Irish Independent:

Benedict to change his tune in music overhaul
By Malcolm Moore in Rome Tuesday November 20 2007

POPE Benedict is considering a dramatic overhaul of the Vatican in order to force a return to traditional sacred music.

After reintroducing the Latin Tridentine Mass, the Pope wants to widen the use of Gregorian chant and baroque sacred music.

In an address to the bishops and priests of St Peter's Basilica he said that there needed to be "continuity with tradition" in their prayers and music.

He referred pointedly to "the time of St Gregory the Great", the pope who gave his name to Gregorian chant.

Gregorian chant has been reinstituted as the primary form of singing by the new choir director of St Peter's, Father Pierre Paul.

He has also broken with the tradition set up by John Paul II of having a rotating choir, drawn from churches all over the world, to sing Mass in St Peter's.

The Pope has replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Monsignor Guido Marini. It is thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto.

The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: ``The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ-playing like in a second-rank country parish church.''

Mgr Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which trains church musicians, said that there had been serious "deviations" in the performance of sacred music.

"How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?" he said.

Damian Thompson has another version of this story in today`s Telegraph.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Come Home for Christmas

On December 9th the new initiative of the bishops of England and Wales to draw lapsed Catholics back to the practice of their faith will be launched in all our parishes. The accompanying leaflet interested me. It lists some of the reasons why Catholics may have lapsed. It reads:

People drift away from the practice of their faith and
perhaps attend Church infrequently, for all kinds of reasons.

Some never really started, because they were
baptised or made their first Holy Communion and
then no one in their family went at other times.

For others, teenage years may have marked a turning
point because the Mass seemed boring and irrelevant.

Sadly, others may have been hurt by something
said or done by someone at Church. You may
still feel very angry about this.

Maybe some failure or experience in life made
you feel unworthy or ashamed. It may have been
that deep down you felt that you were doing
wrong or that the Church disapproved.

Many suffer the trauma of a marriage breakdown. They
may have married again or are in a new relationship.

Some disagree with the Church's teaching,
on contraception, sex outside marriage,
homosexuality and married / women priests.

Perhaps you just gradually stopped coming
for no particular reason and that’s that.

Whatever your reasons or situation, we
would like to invite you to take a fresh
look and give it another go. You are a
vital part of God’s family and would be
made very welcome.

I`m sure all these are important reasons why people stop practising their faith. I also suppose it is asking too much for experiences of awful liturgy to be added to the list of why people stop going to church. It could come under being `hurt by something said or done by someone at church`. It certainly drives me to distraction at times. At least it seems the liturgy is a priority for Pope Benedict. The post from Irish Independent is more evidence of this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Leo Darroch replies

I`ve been off-line for a couple of days and have been down in London today for the Solemn High Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral but I found that Mr Leo Darroch had sent me this rebuttal of his interview which appeared on the Petrus site. Readers may have already seen it on Angelqueen.

Reply to article by Bruno Volpe in Petrus.

An interview appeared on the Petrus website on Monday 12th November that claimed to reflect my views on a number of issues. I have no hesitation in saying that this interview is a complete misrepresentation of what I said to the Italian journalist. The interview was conducted in English and I was concerned from his comments during our discussion that he had not understood the points I was making, so on three or four occasions I asked him whether he had understood.

The headline states that I am the “world-wide president of the traditionalists.” This is a journalistic introduction by the magazine staff for a good headline. No president of the Una Voce Federation would ever claim such a thing; our authority is limited within our international Federation. The magazine also states that I have presented exclusive to Petrus my “programme of government which reserves not a few surprises.” The subsequent article indeed had some surprises, all of them unpleasant, and all of them completely unrelated to anything I said to Mr. Volpe.

In the first paragraph the journalist asks if I am satisfied with the election and then goes into detail about my farewell to my predecessor. This paragraph is an invention. I was having lunch with friends on Saturday 10th November when approached by Mr Volpe who wanted to ask me just two questions. The brief interview actually took place before our General Assembly had started. Mr Volpe interviewed both Mr. Oostveen and myself in advance of the session later that day that would include the election of a new president. The subject of a tribute to an outgoing president was never discussed because no one knew who it would be. It would also have been very presumptuous as it could have been any one of ten members of the Council.

The second paragraph is entitled ‘What is the first item on your agenda? This question was never asked. Mr Volpe began the interview by asking if the Una Voce members were faithful and obedient to Rome? I replied that we had been faithful to Rome since we were founded 40 years ago in 1967 but this is not mentioned. We then had a discussion on matters of tradition and I said that in the past our bishops had controlled the Catholic media, especially the newspapers sold in parishes, so that they could control the minds of the faithful. With the advent of the internet this control of the bishops has been broken. Young people, and especially younger priests, who are familiar with using the internet, are finding out about the traditions of the Church and are angry with their bishops for denying them their heritage in liturgy and music and history.

We then move on to “traditionalists and ecumenism.” Mr Volpe claims I said, “Look, we are not Lefebvrians and I want to underline the fact.” This is another invention. Firstly, it is not my place to make public comments on the Society of St. Pius X. Secondly, I have never used the words ‘Lefebvrians’ or ‘Lefebvrist’ as I consider them deeply offensive to the memory of Archbishop Lefebvre whom I admired for his great lifetime work for the Church, and to those many fine priests and honest faithful among whom I have many friends. Some years ago I had a letter published in a national ‘Catholic’ newspaper in which I criticised its use of this very word. It has been used by many bishops over the years as a pejorative term to marginalize and isolate anyone who expressed a desire for the traditional liturgy. Mr Volpe then claims [we are] not at all opposed to the Second Vatican Council whose documents [we] respect, and that Ecumenism is a fundamental step to be implemented. How he arrived at this conclusion I do not know, but all I need to say is that a very orthodox prelate friend told me over the phone that although he saw my name in the article, on reading it he wondered to whom exactly the journalist had been speaking.

We then move on to “the Missal of the Novus Ordo”. Mr Volpe writes that I think the Missal of Paul VI is a “good missal” and that “it would be absurd to criticise it a priori.” I said no such thing. When asked my opinion I said that any Mass celebrated strictly according to the rubrics of the Missal of 1969/70 and with the correct intention is a valid Mass but it is still a pale imitation of the Missal of 1962, and there have been so many abuses incorporated over the years that many Masses nowadays are obviously invalid. Even Rome acknowledges this point.

Finally Mr Volpe states that “(I) am renowned for expressing many doubts about Communion in the hand.” I do not have any doubts whatsoever about this – I have always said that I believe the practice is not Catholic and should be stopped as soon as possible. I did not realise that I was “renowned” for expressing this opinion but it is surprising what one reads about oneself in newspapers. Actually, what Mr Volpe has stated in this paragraph is, in fact, my opinion but I never said it to him in such terms. One thing I did say was that Mother Teresa once declared that the biggest problem in the Church today is Communion in the hand.

My only concern is that this article may be seen by those who do not know me as a reflection of my views. Those who have known me for years know that it is so far removed from my opinions that it is laughable. Also, if anyone thought about this seriously they would appreciate that anyone holding the views expressed in this article would never be elected to any position, never mind the presidency, in an international federation intent on preserving and fostering the centuries-old traditions of the Church.

Leo Darroch, President – International Federation Una Voce.
15th November 2007.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another first for Hexham and Newcastle

I was delighted to hear that Leo Darroch, a member of this diocese and seen here greeting the Holy Father earlier this year, has become President of Una Voce International at their recent meeting in Rome. Leo has been secretary of the International Federation for a while now. A man more dedicated to the traditional Mass (aka the Extraordinary form of the Roman rite) one could not hope to find.

Unfortunately, an interview with Leo has appeared on the Petrus site. I was somewhat taken aback when I read it, even with my declining knowledge of Italian. This did not sound like the Leo I have known for about 20 years. Having spoken to him today I am glad to say that he has been seriously misrepresented and is preparing a rebuttal. The interview was conducted in English and on three or four occasions he asked whether the Italian journalist understood the points he was making. He was assured that everything was understood but this is clearly not so.

And a few more

More pictures from the High Mass on September 23rd

Local Donkey Trouble

Listeners to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 may have heard this morning the story of the 13th century law which is holding back the opening of a market. It is also reported on the BBC website today.
South Shields was granted permission by royal charter of King John to have a market and for there to be no rival market within the distance of a day`s donkey ride. The town of North Shields on the opposite bank of the Tyne is thus prohibited from having a market but now it seems they want one but can`t get around the 13th century law which South Shields has threatened to invoke through the South Tyneside Council if they try.
Apparently it`s all very serious.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saving St Walburge`s

Let`s pray that things go smoothly on Monday. It was a great pity that the Institute of Christ the King failed to get Everingham in the Middlesborough diocese a couple of years back. This would be a tremendous breakthrough if it comes off. From the Lancashire Evening Post.

Italian bid to save city church
A religious group and a mystery benefactor are bidding to save Preston's St Walburge's Church

By Jenny Simpson and James Reader
An iconic Preston church could be saved by a mystery donor and an Italian religious group.

The Institute of Christ the King wants to take over the running and restoration of St Walburge's which has been earmarked for closure under reform plans by the cash-strapped Diocese of Lancaster.

Fr William Hudson, the Florence-based order's UK representative, will meet Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O'Donoghue on Monday to discuss the proposals.

A private donor has offered to give £100,000 to St Walburge's if the Institute of Christ the King gets the go-ahead from the bishop.Fr Hudson said he had been impressed by the levels of support for keeping the Pedder Street church open when he gave Latin masses there last month.

He said it had been estimated £2.5m would be needed in the longer term to run the Roman Catholic church, a large proportion of which could be obtained from public bodies like English Heritage and other trusts set up for the purpose of keeping historic churches open.

Fr Hudson, the head of Brussels International Catholic School in Belgium, declined to give details on the donor but said parishioners would be consulted on the ideas.

Parishioner Jim Aherne said: "St Walburge's is part of the city's history and we must preserve it for future generations."

Preston Council is backing the fight to keep St Walburge's open after it passed a motion calling on the Diocese to retain it as a place of worship for "the foreseeable future".

Coun Bill Shannon said: "The Diocese must move heaven and Earth. We cannot do much about heaven, but we can do plenty about Earth."Council chief executive Jim Carr will now write to Bishop O'Donoghue calling on him to keep the church open.

But the Bishop said talk of transferring ownership of the church was premature.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

From the American Spectator

A interesting article I thought. H/T to Rogueclassicism

Latin Lovers in America
By Harry Mount
Published 11/6/2007 12:08:02 AM ( i.e. 6th November 2007 )

And is it true? Are the long-held dreams of a thousand bachelor teachers, their shoulders sprinkled with dandruff and chalk-dust, coming to life? Is the great Latin revival happening? After half a century of decline, when the teaching of Latin retreated to a few small brave frontier outposts -- American prep schools, British public schools and the Vatican -- is it back?

The answer is -- yes...a bit. The dead language is showing some small signs of recovery; mere glimmers, perhaps, but significant all the same. Chief of the Latin Revival Club is Pope Benedict XVI, who on September 14 made it easier for Catholics to attend the Tridentine Mass, celebrated almost entirely in Latin, and set out by Pope Pius V in 1570. With this masterstroke, the Pope has single-handedly ended a battle fought by modernists for 40 years to end the Latin Mass.

The old Latin rite is a splendid sight -- the priest celebrates High Mass with his back to the congregation, intoning the Latin liturgy amid puffs of incense, throwing in gobbets of Greek and Hebrew too. Prayers are said at the foot of the altar, matched to a complicated series of genuflections, bows and crossings of the chest.

Although Pope Benedict has quite rightly been celebrated as the driving force behind the Latin revival, his predecessor did his bit, too. Pope John Paul II was the first to remove major restrictions on the Latin Mass in the early 1980s. In 2001, he hurried the Vatican's return to Latin when he signed off the directive, Liturgiam Authenticam, demanding translations of the liturgy that are closer to Latin.

The Old Testament may have been written in Hebrew, the New in Greek, but it was in Latin that the medieval priest principally read and in Latin that he spoke in church.

It is in the translation from the Latin, too, that worshippers were used to hearing the liturgy. Confusingly, the Latin Church used a Greek liturgy for several hundred years before adopting Latin, but it was the Latin version that stuck until Vatican II.

In America, Australia, Scotland, England and Wales, bishops have now voted to accept these new Vatican-backed translations closer to the original Latin.

So, in America for example, the prayer before communion, which had gone "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you," now goes "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." That's much closer to the original -- "Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum."

Likewise, in the Nicene Creed, "born of the Virgin Mary" will revert to "incarnate of the Virgin Mary" ("incarnatus...ex Maria Virgine"). And, in the exchange between priest and congregation: Priest: "The Lord be with you." Congregation: "And also with you." will become: Priest: "The Lord be with you." Congregation: "And with your spirit."

Again, this is much closer to the original Latin: Priest: "Dominus Vobiscum." Congregation: "Et cum spiritu tuo."

Still, under Pope John Paul II, it was up to individual bishops whether they allowed the Latin Mass in their diocese. Pope Benedict XVI has removed that prerogative from the bishops. As a result of his apostolic letter in July, called Summorum Pontificum ("Of the Leading Popes"), issued Motu Proprio ("by his own motion"), individual priests can themselves choose to say the Latin Mass. And, what's more, individual congregations can demand that their priest says the Mass.

Hundreds of American churches are expected to demand the Latin Mass. Even before Pope Benedict XVI announced his plans to ease the restrictions, you could find five churches in New York alone that celebrate the Tridentine Mass.

ALL GOOD NEWS, THEN, for Latin fans. But even before this wonderful news, Latin was already on the up in America. The country suffered a great classics slump in the late 20th century; now the subject's booming again.

In 1905, 56 percent of American high school students studied Latin. By 1977, a mere 6,000 pupils took the National Latin Exam. That went up to 134,873 last year.

Still, let's hope that the Latin revival won't just be confined to classrooms and chancels, that the language will be used for pleasure, as well as for instruction and ritual.

Of course this new generation of Latin students will know their English grammar better by learning their actives from their passives. And priests and congregations who understand the Tridentine Mass will tend to have better written English than those without Latin.

But let's hope those students, those priests, and their congregations will enjoy some Latin literature as well as Latin grammar and Latin masses. The real point of Latin and Latin teachers is not their gift for improving your English but for improving your Latin; and so allowing you to appreciate some of the finest prose and poetry ever written.

To say you need to understand Latin to understand English, as some people do say, is as crazy as suggesting that you need to understand Anglo-Saxon, German, and Norman French to understand English. All these languages went into the pot to form English but no one suggests learning them to improve your grammar.

English is not nearly as close a relative of Latin as, say, French, and even French is a descendant through many generations. Once the Romans left Britain to the Angles and the Saxons, our native language went through several incarnations.

The language the Angles and Saxons brought with them -- Anglo-Saxon -- imported large chunks of non-Latinate words, as well as some pretty garbled bits of Latin, often borrowed via French.

And then, when the Normans came, their new brand of French imported even more Latinate words. But it was much-mutilated and diluted Latin that poured into the mix that became modern English.

THE IDEA THAT THE PURE strain of original, ancient Latin, as spoken in the Tridentine Mass and taught to increasing numbers in American schools, forms the spine of modern English is ludicrous.

In fact, the main reason you will know English better as a result of reading Latin is that it is so different from Latin, not because of any similarities. It is in computing the changes from one language to another that you are forced to think about the structure of each of them. Latin is particularly useful for this computing exercise, thanks to the very quality that it is usually attacked for -- its deadness.

Because living languages are in a constant state of flux, there's a great deal of wriggle room when translating from one to another. Precisely because Latin is dead, there's none of that flexibility. You are much more likely to be definitely wrong in a translation from Latin to English than from, say, French to English, if you haven't understood exactly what a particular word means or how a grammatical rule works.

Still, it's pretty grim to think of Latin like this, as a sort of mental gymnastics, a grim, utilitarian exercise for strengthening the mind. Yes, if the new Latin students, and the priests and congregations celebrating the Tridentine Mass, really get to know their Latin, they'll incidentally improve their English.

But -- much more wonderful than that -- they will then know world literature from the third century BC, when writers got going in Rome, through to the Golden Age of Latin -- Lucretius, Catullus, Sallust, Cicero and Caesar. They will know the Augustan Age -- Ovid, Horace, Virgil and Livy -- down to the end of the Silver Age in 120 AD: Martial, Juvenal, Lucan, Seneca, Pliny and Tacitus.

It's a pretty inspiring reading list. If they happen to pick up some grammar along the way, well, all the better, but I hope they don't forget to look out of the window and take in the beauty spots too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


On a normal day I get about 80-100 visits to this blog. Yesterday, when I`d published nothing all day I got 180 which was the highest since the publication of Summorum Pontificum on July 7th. Have I been mentioned somewhere?

Cluster Talk

On Tuesday 13th November, Mr Terry Middleton will give the next talk in the series we are holding for the cluster of parishes of which I am moderator. His topic will be the Northern Rising of 1569. The venue as usual is St Aidan`s parish hall, Coach Lane, Newcastle and the talk starts at 7pm. All welcome.

Una Voce in Rome

Rorate Caeli has an item today from an interview with the new President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi.

It reads:

Rome will welcome in the end of this week the international congress of Traditionalist faithful . What is your opinion, as "Culture Minister" of the Vatican, on the Tridentine Mass?
"Extremely favorable. It represents a monument in the history of the Church and of Civilization. How would it be ever possible to disown tradition? It is enough consider, for instance, the nobility of Gregorian Chant and of Latin. It [the Mass] is a gem to be defended and valued. Obviously, the defense of the Tridentine Rite does not entail the exclusion of the 'Novus Ordo' and of a Mass celebrated in the local language. I will say that there are different approaches, but both important.
Visitors to Rome in the next few days may be interested to know about some of the Masses that will be taking place during the Una Voce General Assembly. I have this information:
On Saturday 10th November at 10.00 a.m. Fr Joseph Kramer, FSSP superior in Rome, will celebrate Mass for the delegates at the FSSP church of San Gregorio del Muratori. Full details of this church and its location can be found on the website

On Sunday 11th November, His Excellency Archbishop Luigi De Magistris will celebrate Mass at 9.30 a.m. at the Church of Gesu e Maria, Via del Corso, 45, Rome, Italy.

Bishops at large

Last week here at Forest Hall bishop Dunn came to confirm fifteen of our young people. I was particularly glad that bishop Dunn sat to administer confirmation while the confirmandi knelt before him and that he gave each of them the traditional tap on the cheek which we had spoken about in the preparation classes but had said it probably wouldn`t happen this time as the last time I had had confirmations in my previous parish (not celebrated by the bishop) the candidates had stood in a line in front of the altar which I thought was less impressive.

I was delighted to see this news from the Latin Mass Society today. There are a few pictures too of the confirmations at Spanish Place.

* Westminster bishop confers Traditional Rite confirmations
* Northampton bishop also to administer confirmations

Bishop John Arnold, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, administered Confirmation in the Traditional Rite at St James’s Church, Spanish Place, London on Saturday, 3 November at the request of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. A record 54 candidates received the sacrament – 50 children and 4 adults.

In a new development, the LMS also announced that Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton will administer Confirmation in the Traditional Rite to 7 candidates during a pastoral visit to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Chesham Bois, Bucks on Sunday 18 November at 10.30 am. Bishop Doyle will also celebrate Sunday Mass in the Traditional Rite.

John Medlin, General Manager of the Latin Mass Society, said, “This is a very welcome development. We hope it will not be long before bishops all over England and Wales respond to pastoral demand for Mass and the Sacraments in the Traditional Rite. The parishioners of Chesham Bois are very grateful to Bishop Doyle for agreeing to offer the Traditional Mass and Sacraments.”

At St James’s, Spanish Place, a packed congregation of 600 family and friends were led by the St James’s choir in singing the Veni Creator Spiritus and other traditional hymns. During the anointing, the choir sang polyphony and plain chant. After the anointing, Bishop Arnold led the congregation in the Divine Praises and then conferred Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

After the Confirmations, at a reception, Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, thanked Bishop Arnold for his pastoral concern and led the assembly in a traditional roof-raising round of applause. Bishop Arnold then spoke informally and cut the special Confirmation cake with many parents taking photographs. Later, the bishop mixed with the parents and children whilst everyone enjoyed the refreshments provided by the LMS.

John Medlin of the Latin Mass Society said, “This is the fifth consecutive year that Confirmations in the Traditional Rite have been arranged by the Latin Mass Society with the permission of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Our numbers are increasing every year and I expect this trend to continue after Pope Benedict’s recent Motu Proprio.”

Monday, November 05, 2007

Interview with Cardinal Ricard

I was interested to see this interview on Catholic World news today. In the course of it we find:

Touching on another issue that roused considerable controversy within the French hierarchy during the past year, the cardinal said that the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum had "caused more anxiety before its appearance than after." He claimed that the French bishops have heard few requests for the use of the old Latin liturgy, but when such requests do come, the French bishops will respond properly. "All the dioceses of France welcomed this motu proprio," he reported, and are prepared to accommodate the traditional Latin Mass.

Why should the bishops of France have had any requests for the old Latin liturgy? The decision to celebrate the EF now lies in the hands of parish priests. There is no need to ask the permission of the bishop. When will the penny drop?

Episcopal Rebellion

At least it has been noticed. Archbishop Ranjith again! H/T to Rorate Caeli.

Cathedral Masses

There have been a number of Masses in the Extraordinary Form in cathedrals around the world. In fact some of them happened even before the Motu Proprio came into effect such as the Mass such as the Mass celebrated in his cathedral by bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington, U.S.A on August 15th. On Saturday Cardinal Pell celebrated the EF in his cathedral. It is rumoured that the Pope may celebrate the EF at the beginning of December, possibly at St Paul`s outside the Walls. Can we assume that these Masses were or will be celebrated only because a `recognisable group` ( in the words of the Northern Cross) made a request for it? Does a bishop not have the freedom to decide that a cathedral Mass will take place unless such a group has made a request? I mention this only because I have heard this put forward as a theory. I`m going to the LMS Solemn Requiem at Westminster cathedral on November 17th to be celebrated by auxiliary bishop John Arnold. Is this Mass taking place at the request of a group of parishioners at the cathedral? I imagine not. But what better way for a bishop to show that he really means it when he says that he accepts with obedience the Motu Proprio than to arrange a celebration of the EF in his cathedral even if he can`t celebrate it himself? Maybe the new instruction from Ecclesia Dei will help clarify all this.
UPDATE. I forgot to do my daily check of the Holy Smoke blog and I see, by coincidence, there is a new item there about the refusal by bishop Kieran Conry allow such a thing. Oh well. There are lots of interesting comments on this one. I suppose it was bishop Conry who had said, back in July, that he thought a liberalisation of the EF would be `divisive`. I suppose he was never going to be that positive about it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Things you don`t expect to see: No. 1

Here is a priest who has featured a number of times on the most eminent of British priestly blogs. This was taken some distance away from the Chislehurst Golf Club.