The Scotsman: flame against opponents of liturgical tradition

The other day we observed the feast of St. Praxed, whose marvelous basilica is on the Esquiline Hill.  So, my eyes sharpened as I read the following, sent by a kind WDTPRSer.

This is from The Scotsman, which is a daily from … yes… Scotland.

The article has the subtlety of a claymore.

 My emphases and comments. 

Scotland on Sunday
Sun 15 Jul 2007

The Mass of All Time will outlive the Sixties revolutionaries


‘AND then how shall I lie through centuries,/And hear the blessed mutter of the Mass," exulted Browning’s bishop ordering his tomb at Saint Praxed’s church, in the well-known poem. His repose would have come to a raucous end in 1969[I love the way this starts.  Instantly, it engages.  The contrast of "blessed mutter" (which in this case is decidedly not a cliché) with "raucous" is very fine indeed.] when the New Mass was imposed on the Catholic faithful; but he might have relapsed into contentment from next September 14, when the motu proprio of Benedict XVI restoring the Latin ‘Tridentine’ Mass comes into effect.

Not since 1850, when Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman hurled his pastoral letter ‘From Out the Flaminian Gate’ like a grenade into the heart of the British establishment, proclaiming the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, has a Roman document provoked such consternation among the ungodly.  [BOOM.  Another grenade.  Still, one must wonder just what possesses those who are so venomously set against the older form.]

It is important, however, to keep this development in perspective. Benedict XVI is not the awaited Pope of Tradition who will fully restore the Church; but he is a holy man of deeply orthodox convictions who is paving the way. [He is counseling patience.  The work which must be done will take more than one Pontificate.  And so, how we must pray for this Pope!] On the other hand, the motu proprio may be a modest step, but it has significance far beyond its actual contentsbeyond even the Catholic Church. [Yes!  This is my thesis, and I have written about it on the blog.]  For the first time in living memory, a major institution is reforming itself by turning back to earlier precepts: [This is perhaps the key point of the article.]  David Cameron might profitably take note.

The bishops of England and Wales tried furiously to prevent the liberalisation of access to the Traditional Mass, lobbying the Vatican against it, although they had recently approved the regular celebration of a Mass for homosexuals. On the eve of the publication of the Papal document, Bishop Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, said: "Any liberalisation of the use of the rite may prove seriously divisive. It could encourage those who want to turn the clock back [Speaking of clichés…]  throughout the Church." So, a liberal opposes liberalisation – why are we not surprised?

As for turning the clock back throughout the Church, it is the only possible remedy for the crisis that has afflicted it since the Second Vatican Catastrophe. [Ouch!  I guess that is a "no" vote.]  The Novus Ordo (New Order of Mass) was invented by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, assisted by six Protestant pastors, [Who played a role, but not such a big role.] after the Vatican Council. When this appalling confection [Another "no" vote.] was presented to the 1967 Synod of Bishops it was indignantly rejected. [Something people forget to remember.]  Yet two years later it was universally imposed. Bugnini described it in 1974 as "a major conquest of the Catholic Church".

Strange language from a Catholic bishop; but there were stranger things to come. In July, 1975 Bugnini was abruptly sacked after Pope Paul VI was shown evidence he was a Freemason. [We are now straying into shaky ground.]  Bugnini denied the fact, but when the register of Italian Freemasonry came to light in 1976, it recorded Bugnini as having been initiated on April 23, 1963, with the esoteric code name ‘Buan’. So, even during the Vatican Council, Bugnini was already under automatic excommunication for Masonic membership. What possessed Paul VI to sack the author of the New Mass, but retain his liturgy for universal use? At least this episode throws light on the handshake at the ‘kiss of peace’ in the new rite.  [This is weird.  No rubric prescribes a handshake.  This is a culturally conditioned choice, not a prescription.]

For decades now, the assorted Lollards, Shakers and Fifth Monarchy Men who have capered in Catholic sanctuaries have used the Bugnini Mass as their plaything[Whew…!]  It is at its bleakest when, on high days and holidays, it attempts to mimic past solemnities, the concelebrants in minimalist vestments fronted by a communion table rather than an altar – three dentists behind an ironing-board. It is the New Mass that is now on the danger list. The Vatican talks about "reform of the reform"; but the "reform" is beyond reformation.

For 40 years frenzied efforts have been made to stamp out the Traditional Mass and yet it has flourished. It is now past the point where there is the remotest prospect of extinguishing it. As Pope Benedict said in his explanatory letter accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum ("Of Supreme Pontiffs"), one of his reasons for freeing the Old Mass was the number of young people now flocking to it.

That is what the faded 1960s trendies who are now bishops and seminary rectors fear: the impossibility of maintaining a revolution that has burned itself out. The Second Vatican Council means as little to today’s youth as the Council of Chalcedon. Its elderly adherents are like dads dancing at the school disco. Many young people are seeking the mystical and the numinous. The Mass of All Time answers that need.  [I find that phrase tiring.  Do you?]

Within the past month the Vatican has issued two other documents: one restoring the requirement for a two-thirds majority at Papal conclaves, which rules out the future election of an extreme radical; [This is a good observation.  Many of the press reports simply focused on the chestnut that Benedict, a rather traditionally minded man, simply eliminated an innovation.  Instead, the Pope had a real objective.  The writer fingered it.] and a reassertion of the doctrine that the Protestant sects cannot be recognised as ‘churches’. It will not damage ecumenism, because that died long ago. Its premise was that Rome must endlessly divest, while Canterbury ordained priestesses and moved ever further from Catholicism. When you see a Church of Scotland congregation praying the rosary you may believe ecumenism is a two-way process.  [I want to conjure that image for a while!   Ahhhh….]

The task facing traditionalists is to claw back, inch by inch, everything that was lost in the 1960s, until the Church is restored to its full integrity. [I wonder if, for the writer, this includes good things that have issued since the Council.  Does it mean erasing the last 45 years?  How "integrating" is his "integrity"?]  It will mean trench warfare for decades, probably generations; but, for the first time, the heretics are on the defensive and they will be defeated.

There is a revived spirit infusing the Church, a spirit once defined by GK Chesterton: "I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity)… I am very proud of being orthodox about the mysteries of the Trinity or the Mass; I am proud of believing in the Confessional; I am proud of believing in the Papacy."

Triumphalism, so monotonously condemned by the Catholic agnostics, is the only logical response to the glory of the Resurrection.  [A good point.] Tremble, all Modernists and you who presumptuously claim We Are Church – the spirit of Trent is abroad once more. Welcome to the Counter-Reformation.

The writer frames his argument in images of war, even WWI.

This in your face article, while its rhetoric may seem "over the top" to many.  Again, in terms of contemporary warfare, it strikes me as a measured response to the 14 July article in The Tablet and the attitude expressed in one of the comments appended to the lined WDTPRS entry about it.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jim says:

    I was at University with Warner, he is good value.

    Now that you have some more support from Scotland Father, will you do a ‘Black and Red’ analysis on the Scottish Bishops’ response to the MP?

    “1. The Apostolic Letter, Motu Proprio data is accompanied by a letter from Pope Benedict addressed to the Bishops.

    2. In the letter to the Bishops, Pope Benedict makes clear that the Apostolic Letter does not detract from the reform of the liturgy begun at the Second Vatican Council. He states that the Missal published first by Paul VI and reformed by John Paul II “obviously is and continues to be the normal Form (forma ordinaria) of the Eucharistic liturgy”. He then goes on to confirm that the “last version” of the Missale Romanum published by John XXIII in 1962 will now “be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration”. The Pope describes this as a “twofold use of one and the same rite”.

    3. The Holy Father speaks of his own experience of a period “with all its hopes and its confusion” and of how “arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church”.

    4. The Pope notes that the assumption had been that requests to maintain use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to those who were older and had grown up with that form of celebration. However, he goes on, “in the meantime it has clearly been the case that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form, particularly suited to them, of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist.” Therefore, he has come to the conclusion that the time is right to provide a clearer juridical regulation “which had not been foreseen” when Pope John Paul II published the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei in July 1988. His intention is to free Bishops from “constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to different situations”.

    5. The Pope addresses also the fear that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to “disarray or even divisions” within parish communities. He says “This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded”. He goes on to say “one sees clearly that the new Missal will remain, certainly, the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

    6. He notes that new Saints and new Prefaces “can, must be” inserted in the old Missal.

    7. The core of the Pope’s letter to the Bishops is “coming to an interior reconciliation within the Church”. He says his impression is that in the past the Church’s leaders failed to do enough to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. He therefore, quoting 2 Corinthians 6,11-13, says “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows”.
    8. There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal and he states that “priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebration according to the new books” as this would not “in fact be consistent of its value and sanctity”.

    9. Pope Benedict concludes saying “I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy of for the pastoral care of your faithful.” And he quotes Sacrosanctum concilium 22. The emphasis is placed on the parish priest and “should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms”.

    10. The Pope invites a three year review with each Bishop being consulted and “If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought”.

  2. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    As I posted on another comment section, I thought that this piece was worse than the Tablet article, and that’s pretty bad. My primary problem with it is that, as Fr Z says, it is couched in terms of war right from the start. And I see nothing in the Holy Father’s motu proprio or his letter to the bishops to support this. Joseph Ratzinger, as theologian, cardinal and pope, has always had a special gift of speaking clearly and unambiguously without ever becoming shrill or crusading. His letter to the bishops is written in his usual firm but irenic tones. It is the voice of a shepherd, not of a general commanding his troops. He doesn’t attack the modernists or the Lefebvrists; he invites all Catholics back to the “the spiritual richness and the theological depth” of the one Roman rite, in both of its forms.

    Warner’s diatribe is nothing like that. I was especially disappointed to see him trot out the old story about Abp Bugnini being a Freemason. Even if this was the case (and I doubt it), does Warner think that Pope Paul VI was a helpless puppet? Or that the Holy Spirit took a holiday from the start of the second Vatican council until now?

    The Church needs each form of Mass to inform and strengthen the other. The Holy Father has given that in his motu proprio. We don’t need a culture war.

  3. cor ad cor: We don’t need a culture war.

    The rest of your points aside, isn’t a culture war precisely what is going on right now?

  4. Domine Non Sum Dignus says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf:

    A fascinating article indeed — and from a secular newspaper! I forwarded this article on to many of my traditionalist and conservative friends when I first noticed it on July 14th (the 437th anniversary of Pope St. Pius V’s “Quo Primum”, by the way). I love your repeated insistence (noted in red again) how we must pray for this pope. For the Counter-Reformation (that this Scottish writer welcomes us all too) must be initiated by Peter. Thanks to Pope Benedict, it looks like it certainly has.

  5. Arieh says:

    I liked the brashness of the author, this culture war ain’t gonna be won by singing Kumbaya…

  6. telcontar says:

    I went to a near by parish, that may be familiar to those who have attended Mater Ecclesiae in Camden Diocese.

    The pastor’s excellent homily is online at the parish website, the beginning of a series on the extraordinary form. This series is apparently going to be capped by a more intensive seminar in September, and the adding of a regular extraordinary Mass.

  7. ray from mn says:

    “and a reassertion of the doctrine that the Protestant sects cannot be recognised as ‘churches’. It will not damage ecumenism, because that died long ago. Its premise was that Rome must endlessly divest, while Canterbury ordained priestesses and moved ever further from Catholicism. When you see a Church of Scotland congregation praying the rosary you may believe ecumenism is a two-way process.”

    “Ecumenical” has come to mean a dogmatic “Fifth Mark of the Church” since the Second Vatican Catastrophe/Council. I’ve long felt that most of Christianity has been running full speed away from Catholicism while our Popes have been required to apologize for all the real and imagined wrongs of 2,000 years and welcome heretics to photo opportunities in the Vatican.

    Thanks to Mr. Warner for throwing a bucket of reality water on the concept of the ecumenical movement.

    Maybe it is time that the Church should be asking for compensation for the suppression, dissolution and confiscation of the monasteries and other Church properties during and after the Protestant Reformation.

  8. Ted says:

    cor ad cor loquitur:
    Indeed, “We don’t need a culture war”, but as a matter of fact there happens to be one going on, and a very long one for the past 40 years and more. We see it inside and outside the Church: on the one side there are those who find truth in tradition; on the other, those who find truth in modernity. Unfortunately, the war is becoming more vicious so Benedict’s efforts at reconciliation at least in the Church are to be welcomed as you say; but this is not to deny the war. In a war what matters is knowing the enemy if one wants to win; but it is knowing both sides that matters if one wants peace and reconciliation.

  9. Andrew says:

    Dear Fr. Z:

    Away from home for a while and not being able to observe the various reactions to the MP I find your blog to be immensely useful!

    It gives a glimpse of the landscape, so to speak, during and after the MP.

    Thank you for this most useful and necessary coverage as you maintain a very difficult ‘middle of the road’ course, not getting sidetracked neither to the left nor to the right.

    There is one questions that remains unanswered in my mind: since the MP is published (from what I can see) only in Latin, where do folks get a text to form their opinions, opinions of which there seems to be no shortage?

  10. Michael says:


    Your last sentence reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago about the hand of St. Etheldra. She was a medieval saint whose body was incorrupt and her shrine in Ely Cathedral was destroyed during the reformation. I local Catholic family managed to save the hand and kept it in their home until the restoration where it was enshrined in a timny Catholic Church. Queen Elizabeth was at this Church for some reason, and told the pastor there that she thought it would be a “nice gesture” if the priest returned the hand to the Cathedral. The priest replied that it would be a nice gesture for the Queen to return the Cathedral to the Catholic Church.

    At any rate, as ideal as that may be, no legal system would ever mandate the return of English Cathedrals. If the English want to give up some of their empty Churches (the two Anglican Cathedrals in Dublin come to mind), which were clearly stolen, they could. But there are statutes of limitations that would seem to apply that would keep the Church from demanding their return, so that modern men won’t be deprived of their lands and places of worship because a King did something unjust 500 years ago. And the list wouldn’t stop at England. Think of all the Churches in Scandanavia and Germany, and all the Churches in North Africa and the Middle East that are now mosques. Yes, these things were wrong, but it happened, and we have to live with it. The Church has no more a right to those buildings than modern day American Indians have to lands that were unjustly confiscated from them 400 years ago. That’s the point of a statute of limitations afterall. To give people a sense of security so that they won’t constantly be in fear of loosing their inheritence when a modern court decide to “right historical wrongs” that were in many cases perfectly legal at the time.

    On the other hand, if the Church of England wants to abandon all of it’s heresies, they’re more than welcome to come back into the fold of the Church, and no one would object if they brought their buildings with them. The English could always say that the Crown had a right to confiscate the Church’s properties for the good of the public, the way modern land can be confiscated to build a highway or make a National Park.

  11. ray from mn says:


    “But there are statutes of limitations that would seem to apply that would keep the Church from demanding their return. . . .”

    Islam is asking for their Spanish mosques back; the California legislature is changing the statutes of Limitations to make sure priests (but not teachers) can be prosecuted forever; African-Americans want compensation for slavery injustices; German Americans will soon be asking for compensation for their incarceration in the U.S. during WWII; etc.

    There may be very good reasons for having statutes of limitations, and I agree with them; but they ARE human laws and they can be changed.

    And they won’t, except with respect to Catholic sexual abuse cases. We are fair game.

  12. L'Abbé Paul McDonald says:

    Father, I am delighted at your very fair treatment of this fairly hard-core traditionalist. The traditionalists are not generally heretics and are members of Holy Church. Their “right of citizenship” has been restored, among other things, by Summorum.

  13. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Fr Z and Ted raised the question of a “culture war”.

    Yes, I think one is going on. It has been for many years.

    The question is: what to do about it? One can hurl thunderbolts in the manner of Cardinal Wiseman or Gerald Warner. One can mock the “enemy”. Personally, I prefer the approach that Pope Benedict took in Summorum Pontificum. It is a generous stance, one that, as Fr Z put it so well, is liberal in the truest sense of that word.

    It also seems consistent with what Pope Benedict has done in his other addresses and letters: speaking the truth clearly but peacefully. And, it seems to me consistent with the pastoral philosophy of the four popes before Pope Benedict.

  14. Fr Ó Buaidhe says:

    I am very familiar with the Scottish situation and can therefore understand what fuels a man such as Gerald Warner.

    There are exactly eight active bishops in the Scottish hierarchy when all the dioceses have an incumbent. During the ‘Winning’ years it was easy for one massive fish to dominate such a very small pool: Cardinal Winning basically turned the Episcopal Conference into a closed shop for almost two and a half decades. He was not a friend of previous liturgical customs and on at least one occasion (for which I can summon a credible first-hand witness) referred to the extraordinary use of the RR as ‘that trash’.

    Our Lord told His apostles that if they were persecuted in one town, they should seek refuge in the next and would not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before His Day would come. In Scotland a traditionally-minded priest had no such opportunity; in the one party ecclesiastical state that was Winning’s Scotland refuge could only be had outside the country. The laity had no such luck… and many are extremely bitter. Such a narrowness of acceptance also gave greater opportunity to fringe extremists to take the lead in opposing the injustices. There are names and websites which could be named, but life is too short really, and the time would genuinely be better spent in prayer.

    Summorum Pontificum will not only assist those attached to the EURR, but also act as a fulcrum to recover the country’s sense of balance
    through the collateral benefit accrued by legitimate diversity. It will help break the artificial monoculture, and, I pray, force some re-thinking on how unity can be cultivated within orthodoxy and orthopraxis without enforced uniformity and toeing the (one) party line.

  15. Sid Cundiff says:

    O mighty mouth’d purveyor of verity,
    O skilled to slay with claymore perversity,
    God-gifted Berlioz-voice of Scotland,
    WARNER, a name to resound for ages!

  16. Sid: I take it that is a “yes” vote.

  17. Anon Seminary says:

    Although Mr. Warner uses some very strong language and imagery, I think he’s right. The vast majority of stuff that has come out of the last 40 years has been pretty well useless. Most of the problems that I hear about the Church from pre-1962 involve a problem with the clergy, not the Church per-se and definately not the liturgy. What needed to happen was a reform of the clergy to better form to the model of Christ and the Church. Instead, the Church and our image of Christ was warped to better reflect the world and the lax clergy.

  18. Matt Robinson says:

    The opinion piece is harsh, but so has the past 40 years been on the faithful.

    Many of us who simply wanted to be Catholic have been in a “cold war” with our own shepherds for decades, and far too many of them happily took sides with the losing party of feminists, modernists and the immoral. The responses of a good number of Bishops to the MP has only served to reinforce this perception; that’s their problem not ours.

    This is indeed a “turn of the tide” moment for the Church, and we should rejoice in it and let no one deter us in our holy task of restoring the Catholic faith.

  19. Mark says:

    Best Line: …”three dentists behind an ironing-board.” Now that was, in my opinion, the best line I’ve every heard against the Novus Ordo Mass. Still ROTFL!

  20. Mark: Your celebration is premature. That is not something AGAINST the Novus Ordo. It is something against a STYLE of celebration.

    One could argue that a poorly celebrated Mass with the older rite is “three butchers at a counter”.

    Abuses do not automatically evacuate the value of something properly done.

  21. boeciana says:

    Folks, please pray like anything for Scotland; we need it so much!

    It is a bit bizarre that Scotland on Sunday keeps Gerald Warner in the stable. The Scotsman has also been giving Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien something of a platform for anti-abortion preacing, though it retains a fuzzy pro-choice editorial line. Oh well; don’t know what the big idea is, but hopefully it’s for the good.

  22. boeciana says:

    Oh yes, and further on the inside info on Scotland front – it’s no great, liturgically speaking. The high point here in Edinburgh is that we are very, very fortunate to have an FSSP priest, which is fantastic. On the other side, there is (eg) no regularly celebrated ’70 Mass in Latin in the capital city (which seems a bit ridiculous really). The Edinburgh parish liturgies I’m familiar with (by no means all of them!) are mostly without utter madness, but with all the usual abuses (completely unnecessary EMHCs, etc etc). Sigh. Mind you, I’m grateful to live somewhere with loads of opportunities for daily Mass, and the Jesuits have confessions scheduled every weekday (think the Redemptorists might as well). God is good.

  23. “It will mean trench warfare for decades, probably generations; but, for the first time, the heretics are on the defensive and they will be defeated.”

    I’m all for “defeating” heresies not heretics, unless one defines “defeat” as “convert”.

    We need to recognize that we are not battling against flesh and blood, here. There are and have been elements of the demonic in all of this nonsense, some more or less explicit especially with the adoption of pagan practices.

    His language and analogies play to the progressive argument that ultimately this is all about power, and not the objective truth, beauty and goodness of the Mass itself. I think he overplays it all in spades. whatever the degree of his wit. This is a diatribe and declaration of war, not a reasoned analysis. It is illustrative of the fact that prelest is as much of a challenge with we “traditionalists” as it is with the “progressives”.


  24. Jim says:

    It may not be clear from the original but this is an Opinion piece in a SECULAR newspaper.(sorry I can’t do bold)

    As context, Scotland has a population of c5million, with c700,000 Catholics. Violence against Catholics is a hidden scandal. Knife murders are often dressed-up as football violence and our best-known senior lawyer was recently filmed singing about being ‘up to my knees in Fenian blood’ – ‘Fenian’ is common usage for Catholic.

    James Macmillan, a well-regarded composer caused a media outcry when he described bigotry as ‘Scotland’s secret shame’ – as much because many weren’t ashamed at all!

    So Warner’s piece is both brave and distinctive

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