“When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” – St Paul

“Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If, then, those who do this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified!” – St Ignatius of Antioch

“No mortal sins more grievously than do the heretics who deny Christ after they have known Him.” – St Bede

“[T]he spirit of error and lying hath taken his wretched soul with him straight from the short fire to the fire everlasting … the devil’s stinking ‘martyr'” – St Thomas More

“[The heresiarch] should meet with no mercy: he assumes the office of the Tempter; and, so far forth as his error goes, must be dealt with by the competent authority, as if he were embodied evil. To spare him is a false and dangerous pity. It is to endanger the souls of thousands, and it is uncharitable towards himself.” – St John Henry Newman

“If in order to save an earthly life it is praiseworthy to use force to stop a man from committing suicide, are we not to be allowed use the same force — holy coercion — to save the Life (with a capital) of many who are stupidly bent on killing their souls?” – St Jose Maria Escrivá

Many believe in or claim that they believe in and hold fast to Catholic doctrine on such questions as social authority, the right of owning private property, on the relations between capital and labour, on the rights of the labouring man, on the relations between Church and State, religion and country, on the relations between the different social classes, on international relations, on the rights of the Holy See and the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff and the Episcopate, on the social rights of Jesus Christ, Who is the Creator, Redeemer, and Lord not only of individuals but of nations. In spite of these protestations, they speak, write, and, what is more, act as if it were not necessary any longer to follow, or that they did not remain still in full force, the teachings and solemn pronouncements which may be found in so many documents of the Holy See, and particularly in those written by Leo XIII, Pius X, and Benedict XV. There is a species of moral, legal, and social modernism which We condemn, no less decidedly than We condemn theological modernism.

– Pius XI

Hamish Fraser once observed that the universal restoration of the traditional liturgy would not solve the crisis in the church. The traditional liturgy was, after all, universally observed before the crisis arose and it did not prevent it. That which was not upheld and which would have prevented the crisis, the absence of which led to the crisis and the restoration of which alone will solve it, is the preaching of the Social Kingship of Christ. However, as Hilary White has recently and eloquently observed the Kingship of Christ exists exclusively for the salvation of souls. When His disciples could not find Him in Capharnaum they found the Lord alone in the hills praying. He said to them “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” As I once heard a very holy monk observe, the word here translated as ‘came out’ is ἐξῆλθον the same word as Our Lord uses in John 8:42 to describe His eternal generation. He went out into the hills to prepare to preach to the people. He came out from the Father in eternity that He might breathe forth the Spirit. He came into the world to save mankind, but that salvation consists in going out from the perishing city as He went out from Capharnaum to share in the eternal processions of the Divine Persons through prayer – the one thing necessary. Only in this light are any temporal benefits (such as the people of Caphernum sought) even benefits. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

St Benedict says “To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.” But he is not addressing would-be statesmen or even the fathers of families, he is addressing would-be monks. The Social Kingship of Christ consists in the reordering and subordination of temporal realities to the supernatural end. Its foundation lies in the recognition of the utterly surpassing nature of that end. Its foundation is in the monastery and the monastery’s foundation is in heaven. Without this all temporal Christian struggle is worthless. The path of restoration proceeds from the monastery through the liturgy to the capitol and back again, but cut off  from its source and destination it will nought avail.

I have had the opportunity over the years four times to celebrate the feast of Christ the King on its traditional date in the United States of America according to the traditional rite. On one of those occasions the Mass was arranged by a lay ‘Latin Mass Community’ who ensured that it was celebrated with gusto. A High Mass with full choir, Blessed Sacrament procession and the solemn intoning of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the other occasions the Mass was offered by the FSSP. Now the FSSP are splendid fellows but the liturgy was not at all celebrated with the vigour and pomp one might expect for the Feast instituted to combat social and political modernism, the consecration was recited in a frankly perfunctory manner (and one occasion omitted entirely), there was no procession and the Blessed Sacrament was not exposed. Most seriously of all there was absolutely no mention made in the sermon of the Social Kingship of Christ on any of these occasions.

Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in order to compel the clergy to preach this doctrine.

[A]lthough in all the feasts of our Lord the material object of worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something quite distinct from his royal title and dignity. We have commanded its observance on a Sunday in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ. The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect. Make it your duty and your task, Venerable Brethren, to see that sermons are preached to the people in every parish to teach them the meaning and the importance of this feast, that they may so order their lives as to be worthy of faithful and obedient subjects of the Divine King.

Hamish Fraser famously described the American Catholic as “a Protestant who goes to Mass”. There is, alas, all too much truth in this ungenerous observation. One is often struck by the way in which American Catholics will say “I’m Catholic” rather than “I am a Catholic” as if ‘Catholic’ were one among a number of flavours of Christian. They will even talk about ‘Catholics and Christians’ as if there were some other sort of Christian or as if Catholics were not Christians or as if there were some kind of generic ‘mere Christianity’ approximating mildly conservative Protestantism upon which Marian devotion and five sacraments and the Real Presence are (hopefully) harmless baroque accretions.

Fr Brian Harrison observes:

[R]ejecting papal authority in favour of one’s own individual judgment was a perfect recipe for religious anarchy. And in medieval Christendom it was much easier to see that fact – and also to see that such anarchy is thoroughly undesirable – than it is in modern Western society. Desensitised after several centuries spent under a socio-political umbrella that shelters multiple coexistent Christian denominations, we have now, as a society, baptised this chaotic anarchy with the bland name of “religious pluralism”, and have come to see it as an instance of normal and healthy progress, rather than of pathological decline from the revealed norm of a Catholic polity that recognises the kingship of Christ. (After all, isn’t such ‘pluralism’ a cornerstone of democracy and a guarantee of individual liberty?) Those of us who are converts to the faith can testify from experience that for modern Protestants right across the liberal-evangelical-fundamentalist spectrum, the co-existence of many Christian denominations or “churches”, while theoretically acknowledged as falling short of the biblical ideal of Christian unity, is for practical purposes taken for granted as something normal, natural and inevitable – pretty much like the co-existence of many different countries, languages, styles of music, or ice cream flavours. From that perspective it is precisely “Rome” that appears as the renegade – the black sheep in the Christian fold – by virtue of her “arrogant” claim to be the one and only true Church. And let us recall the full radicality of this Protestant critique. It is not that the Southern Baptists (let us say) object to the aforesaid claim simply because they consider their own denomination, rather than “Rome”, to be the one true Church. That would basically be the same kind of objection that many claimants to this or that national throne have made over the centuries against rival claimants: “It is not you, but I, who am the rightful king!” No, the Protestant position cuts much deeper. It is like objecting to someone’s claim to the throne of England on the grounds that no such throne exists! It’s like protesting that anyone at all who claims to be England’s rightful ruler is ipso facto an impostor and potential tyrant whose pretensions must be firmly resisted! For the common position now shared by Protestants is precisely that no single Christian denomination may claim to be the Church founded by Christ, and, therefore, that no leader of any one denomination may dare claim the authority to make doctrinal or governing decisions that bind all Christians. Rather, it is said, each denomination should respectfully recognise many (or even all) of the others as being true, that is, real, “churches”, and so limit itself to making the modest claim of being preferable to the others in one way or another – for instance, by virtue of possessing what it believes is a better understanding of Scripture. In other words, the different organised “churches”, according to this ecclesiology, are seen as being in this respect pretty much like banks, schools, cars, brands of toothpaste, or any other sorts of commodities and services. It is considered legitimate to promote one or other as being of better quality than the rest; but just as it would be outrageous and beyond the pale for Wells Fargo to claim seriously that none of its competitors is truly a bank, or for General Motors to claim that nobody else makes real automobiles, or for Colgate ads to proclaim that what you’ll get in tubes of other brands is not just inferior toothpaste but fake toothpaste – so Protestants right across the liberal-conservative spectrum consider it theologically outrageous and beyond the pale for any single Christian denomination (read: Roman Catholicism) to claim that it is the one and only real Church.

The analogy of a disputed throne versus ideological republicanism is quite apt. The nonsense that legitimate governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” goes hand in hand with nominalist contractualist ecclesiology. It is this Protestant vision and only this vision that could make sense of an intended adherence to the Gospel and a simultaneous acceptance of the ‘separation of Church and State’ as desirable for its own sake. The superstitious awe in which the citizens of the USA are expected to hold the Freemasons and Deists who composed their constitution and Declaration of Independence forbids the very idea of taking an axe to the First Amendment. American Catholics are expected to fly the flag of the US in the very sanctuaries of their Churches. This is extremely rare to non-existent even in countries that are or were formally Catholic, but this is the flag of the first western polity since the Edict of Theodosius in 380 to withhold recognition from Christ and which substituted the five pointed star for the Cross on its flag. This secularised banner is often, even in churches, hoisted on a staff surmounted by a golden eagle, the very symbol the Labarum supplanted and which was employed to desecrate the Holy of Holies in 70 AD.

Between the World Wars liberal economics and politics seemed tired. The world was torn between totalitarian ideologies that demanded the whole person. The Church thrived in this context with an integral vision of God and man that answered all the aspirations of the human person in freedom and ranged her against “the modern world in arms”. The Leonine formula of indifference to the form of regime but implacable insistence on the conformity of the civil order to the Divine and Natural Laws made vast strides against Modernity. In the wake of the Second World War the USA was left as the hegemonic power and the ideology of its founders has eaten away at the Church. The ‘Boston Heresy Case‘ was a disaster as the quasi-condemnation of Feeney’s garbled version of explicitism seemingly justified the complete surrender of the American church to the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. The United Kingdom, born of the revolution of 1688, has this paradoxical advantage: the sovereign is subjected to a religious test. The Jacobites, like the colony of Maryland, became entangled in the dubious cause of religious liberty. The rectification of the British constitution, upon the conversion of the Monarch and the people, requires only a single Act of Parliament.

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux!

Dieu et Mon Droit

The MacArthurs are the good Protestant couple in Belfast who refused to prepare a wedding cake displaying propaganda for perversion. They said that they could not stand before God after having done such a thing. Yesterday they lost their ‘trial’. The ‘Equalities Commission’ had spent £40,000 of our money persecuting them.

The MacArthurs were fined £500. That is not much for a business, but that is not the point. The point is that a piece of public ground has fallen to the enemies of Christ, and that if nothing is done it will serve as a place from which they may start a further attack. I suggest that the obvious thing to do is for as many people as possible to make a financial donation to the MacArthurs, so that they may end up considerably better off than when they started. If our enemies know that these kinds of attack will blow up in their faces in this way, then they will stop them.

The web-site of the Bakery, which is called Ashers, does not allow for donations by internet. However, the legal costs of the MacArthurs were met by the Christian Institute. I have contacted the Christian Institute and they have assured me that any general donation made to them will be earmarked for the MacArthurs if accompanied by an e-mail stating that this is the purpose of the donation. The e-mail should be sent to:

I hope all the readers of this blog will think of making such a donation. Yes, it will take a few minutes. But then wars tend to be a bit time-consuming.

Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Content with faith alone you lay claim to the riches of righteousness in vain.”

– St Bede the Venerable, Commentary on Revelation, 3:17.

One of the frescoes of the Ecumenical Councils...

I’ve been looking at The Church in Council by Norman Tanner SJ. Fr Tanner is perhaps the leading authority on ecumenical councils in the English-speaking world. It’s curious, therefore, that he seems keen to get rid of as many as he can. Vatican II, he says, extended the meaning of Church beyond ‘the Roman Catholic community’, and therefore made it a moot point whether any council could be called ecumenical without the participation of ‘other Christian churches and communities’. The Eastern Church, we learn, was not represented ‘in any proper sense’ at any post-1054 council – a fact which would no doubt have surprised the Byzantine Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1439, not to mention the other bishops and patriarchal delegates who had gathered at Florence. Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II don’t even reach the dignity of general councils of the Western Church; since the ‘churches of the Reformation’ were absent, they are better seen as ‘general councils of the Roman Catholic church, rather than of the Western Church’. This ‘removes the necessity of Trent and Vatican I being given an absolute status’ (but apparently not of Vatican II being given it!) So much for the holy Sacrifice and for papal infallibility; they will apparently have to enjoy only a ‘relative status’, whatever that might be.

He is quite keen on the role of the emperor in the early councils, as it provides a precedent for lay involvement. Likewise, in the Empress Irene at Nicaea II, as a precedent for female involvement. Likewise in the fact that the early councils were held in ‘Asia’. And he also likes the fact that Constantine wasn’t baptised at the time of Nicaea I, as this provides a precedent for influences on ecumenical councils from outside the visible church.

I can’t help wondering if his ideal council would be one held in Mumbai under the presidency of a Muslim woman, and which would solemnly condemn Humanae Vitae. But I may be wronging him.

Pope Francis only has one lung.


Some time ago a colleague of mine welcomed a delegation of students from an Arabian country to our city. She was both impressed and bewildered by that encounter: For her, it was fascinating to have first-hand contact with people involved in the Arabian Spring, but talking to them she also felt like encountering an entirely different world. As one of the most bewildering aspects she mentioned those people’s religiosity: not only that they were religious, but also the way they were religious: ‘This is just not comparable to Christianity’, she said, ‘they just thought they were right, and everyone else was wrong. And then their missionary zeal to have everybody believe as they do!’ – What a lowering thought that we have known each other for over a year and a half, and I have not got across to her that that is what we (with better justification) believe as well…


Last weekend I had a conversation with two atheists so far away from both the Church and Protestantism that they base their views on Christianity entirely on secular news coverage. Nevertheless, quite magically, conversation at one point touched ecumenism.They started comparing the situation between Catholics and Protestants in Germany to that of the Christian-Muslim-Jewish conflict in the Near East (‘religious intolerance’), which I strongly denied. Of course, they said, normal people did not think like this, but those in charge in the Catholic Church… This mildly blew a fuse in my irenical mental lookout and made me say that, au contraire, many Catholic priests and bishops in Germany were so intent on ‘ecumenism’ that they were countenancing all sorts of compromises, and sometimes right-out betrayals of Catholic doctrine, that I was often annoyed with it.

It took us several minutes to establish that this was what I actually wanted to say, so great was their disbelief.

I felt quite satisfied afterwards.



“An Arian Bishop of theirs coming to the city of Spoleto, and not having any place where to exercise his religion, demanded a church of the Bishop of that town: which when he constantly denied him, the Arian prelate told him, that the next day he would by force take possession of St. Paul’s church, which was hard by his lodging. The keeper of the church, understanding this news, in all haste ran thither, shut the doors, and with locks and bolts made them as fast as he could: and when it was night he put out all the lamps, and hid himself within. The next morning, very early, the Arian Bishop came thither with many in his company: meaning by force to break open the doors. But suddenly by miracle the locks were cast far off, and the doors of themselves, making a great noise, flew open: and all the lamps, before put out, were lightened again by fire descending from heaven: and the Arian Bishop that came to enter the church by violence, was suddenly struck blind, so that other men were fain to lead him back again to his own lodging. Which strange accident when the Lombards there about understood, they durst not any more presume to violate Catholic places: and so it fell out wonderfully, by God’s providence, that for as much as the lamps in St. Paul’s church were by reason of him put out: that at one and the self same time, both he lost the light of his eyes, and the church received her former light again.” – Gregory the Great, Dialogues (Book III, Chapter 29).

At Damascus, of St Peter Mavimenus, who was killed by some Arabs who visited him in his sickness, because he said to them: ‘Whoever does not embrace the Christian and Catholic faith is lost, like your false prophet Mahomet’ (from the Roman martyrology for 21st February).

I have just finished reading the Latin correspondence between C.S. Lewis and St Giovanni Calabria (1873-1954). Although it has a certain charm, both from the personalities of the authors and from the use of the ancient tongue, it is theologically rather jejune. There is very little discussion of doctrine; much of it is taken up with expressions of good will and desire for unity, and assurances of prayers. One wonders if anyone ever explained Catholic doctrine to Lewis, or if he himself ever took the trouble to read a papal encyclical or a manual of scholastic theology. Despite his great general erudition, his theology is strangely parochial: the Anglican prayer-book, odd pieces from the Anglican divines, George MacDonald and Milton tend to dominate, with some Dante thrown in. He said of himself that he was a very poor Thomist; I don’t know that he was much better as a patrologist. I don’t remember him quoting anything even from St Augustine apart from sayings that are part of general culture, such as ‘love and do as you will’. Perhaps he was warned off much theological study by Newman’s saying about what happens to those who go deep into history…

The other thing that strikes you in the correspondence is how confident Fr Calabria is about Lewis’s present spiritual position. He writes to him for example, ‘I call you blessed and shall do so in the future, because God wants to use you to carry out His works’; and again, ‘In heaven with God we shall see each other by the mercy of the Lord who has redeemed us’. This was written in 1953, not long after Pius XII had warned against reducing the axiom ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ to a meaningless phrase. I think a little more caution would have been in order. However,  the Italian was clearly a holy man, who apparently offered his life for the pope’s recovery when the latter was gravely ill in 1954. Pius suddenly recovered and lived another 4 years.

The last line of the collection is the most moving. Lewis wrote in 1961 to Fr Calabria’s successor after the death of his own wife:-

Scio vos preces effundere et pro desideratissima uxore mea et pro me qui jam orbatus et quasi dimidatus solus hanc vallem lacrimarum peragro (I know that you pray for my wife whom I so miss and also for me, as now bereaved and, as it were, halved, I journey on in solitude through this valley of tears.)

Let us hope St Giovanni’s prophecy has been fulfilled.

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