St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, London – new progressivist pastor is causing sad chaos

At Damian Thompson’s blog Holy Smoke, there is a report of a counter-attack on Pope Benedict’s Marshall Plan for the Church.

In so many places people are dropping the baggage imposed on the Church for decades by those who are know in the aging-hippie set.  They are reevaluating our Catholic worship in a healthier light of tradition, in continuity with our past.

Other, however, some priests for example still think that Mass is all about them, or somehow isn’t meaningful enough in its texts and its gestures as simply described in the books.  Mass must be made, "relevant"… "interesting"… "inviting", etc.

My emphases and comments.

Pandemonium at Ely Place
Posted by Damian Thompson on 05 Jun 2008  at 14:54

St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, London’s only medieval Catholic church, is in a state of chaos after the new parish priest forced through trendy liturgical changes against the wishes of the congregation (and the Pope) at his first Mass there last Sunday.  [His first Sunday.  I don’t know how many times I have heard my conservative priests friends recount how they were warned not to make any changes for at least a year after being assigned.]

The deacon has been dismissed, the sacristan has resigned and the Master of Ceremonies is planning to leave following the appointment of Fr Tom Deidun, who has scrapped the tradition of celebrating Mass ad orientem, and insists on facing the people.  [I know another parish where a similar trend is occuring.  And I suspect that these sad developments happen not simply because of a difference of style, but because someone is being a jerk.]

The Rev Dr Laurence Hemming, the deacon and nationally recognised liturgical expert, has been told that his services are no longer required. “He has given us very generous unpaid support over several years, and now he has been told not to darken the door of the church,” says David Grant, a former trustee of the parish.  [Nice, huh?]

Linda Helm, the sacristan, has also quit in despair at the dismantling of the traditionalist heritage built up by the former rector, Fr Kit Cunningham. She received a two-line letter of thanks for her 14 years’ volunteer work[Ah the pastoral touch.]

A leading member of the parish – one of many who has contacted me – writes to say of Fr Deidun: “What a start – losing sacristan, deacon and MC all within his first week, and my suspicion is that we will also see the resignation of many of the servers, some of whom have been serving on the sanctuary for more than 30 years.”

I forecast trouble a few weeks ago, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. The Rosminian order, which owns the church, seems to have taken leave of its senses.

Pope Benedict has written extensively about the special dignity of celebrating Mass facing east, and wants the practice preserved wherever it is established and extended where possible. So what is the first thing Fr Deidun does? Turn west – to face the people, who have made it very clear that they wish him to continue facing east, towards God.

This would be regrettable in any parish, but it is especially painful to see such damage being done to the worship in a church dating back to 1290, one of only two surviving buildings in London from the reign of Edward I. I have no doubt at all that Pope Benedict would be horrified if he knew what was happening; perhaps someone should tell him.

Fr Deidun refuses to discuss the matter over the telephone, though we may meet later. But this matter strikes me as too urgent to leave until he finds room in his diary.

I hope Damian gets that meeting.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jackie says:

    How sad. Can a priest simple remove a deacon like that? I thought they were assigned there, just like a pastor or a parochia vicar is.

  2. lmgilbert says:

    “[His first Sunday. I don’t know how many times I have heard my conservative priests friends recount how they were warned not to make any changes for at least a year after being assigned.]”

    When our present pastor first arrived at St. Joan of Arc, Lisle, IL 8 yrs ago, he removed the risen Christ on a cross hanging in back of the altar, had it varnished and revarnished and installed outside the entrance to the church, where it is very striking. He then smashed a thirty foot hole in the exterior wall where it had been and installed a beautiful stained glass window depicting Christ crucified. He then smashed holes on either side of the tabernacle and installed stained glass windows depicting on one side an angel holding a chalice and on the other an angel holding a crown of thorns. The church had been built in semi-circular auditorium fashion and had the ambience of a living room. He raised the floor of the sanctuary about three feet and made the entire sanctuary of tile, where it had been carpet. He soon had papal flags flying from all the light poles in the parking lot. Not bad for a year’s work, but then this was a seasoned pastor not so easily intimidated.

    He then somehow sold the very inadequate and distant rectory to the library district for $400,000 and used the proceeds to build a magnificent rectory close to the Church. No one could accuse him of pussyfooting around. He retires this week and may the blessing of God both go with him and stay with us!

  3. Calleva says:

    Not sure quite what point Imghilbert is making. I think the issue with Ely Place is that the congregation has not been consulted about the liturgical ‘adjustments’ and things were perfectly good as they were. There was no heresy, no liturgical abuse and a high standard of music and reverence. No doubt the present priest says Mass reverently as well, it’s a question of pastoral sensitivity. Not to mention the very well-known statements of our Holy Father.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  4. Michael says:

    Do not hope, Father Z. Let us not live in illusions. What this priest has done is fully consistent with the sprit of the Novus Ordo. Ideally, the latter should be scrapped, and replaced with the Tridentine Mass, but realistically it might be better to let it destroy itself. What we need is a Tridentine Rite Catholic Church on the pattern of the Eastern Catholic Churches, directly under the Holy See.

  5. Mark M says:

    I hope Fr Deidun leaves! Poor St Etheldreda’s!

  6. Matt of South Kent says:

    I fully agree with Michael.

  7. LCB says:

    Pastoral insensitivites like this drive people into the arms of groups like the SSPX.

    That being said, I suspect such things wouldn’t have been done without a wink-and-a-nod from the ordinary.

  8. Anthony says:

    This is very upsetting news.
    I attended Mass almost every Sunday at St. Etheldreda’s while living
    in London during the 1990s and I remember with fondness the beautiful church,
    its magnificnent choir and Fr. Cunningham’s holy example. This place was a
    real spiritual home for me. I hope and pray all will not be lost.

  9. Incidents of obstructing implementing the spirit of Summorum pontificum, and earlier of John Paul II’s indult, are common enough. It is my experience that they are usually born of fear and ignorance rather than of malice. We regularly put up with such annoyances in our local parish. Mr Thompson’s post, however, hints that there is more than a touch of malicious intent in Fr Deidun’s actions. Please understand, I am using the term “malicious intent” in an etymological sense. There is a clear desire here to “do something bad” to St Etheldreda’s current liturgical programs. While it is possible to look with sadness on the poor management of any given parish liturgy, one can usually pray and hope for change (“brick by brick”) with patience and kindness. This seems not to be the case here, especially given the rapid and radical changes in personnel. What is most disturbing then is the priest’s alleged behaviour. While the new pastor may be “within his rights” to choose his own “team,” or to advocate a “style” of liturgical performance with which he is comfortable, by his uncharitable actions, he has made an overt statement rejecting Rome’s position on the necessity of returning to the sense of the sacred in the liturgy. I am as disturbed at what seems to be clerical arrogance as I am at the what could easily be the loss of beauty at Mass at St Etheldreda’s (What will become of that excellent choir?) The reception of Holy Orders comes with the responsibility for the priest to exercise virtue, including recognizing himself as the humble servant of his parishioners, not the “boss of the community.” Sancte Joannes Vianney, ora pro nobis.

  10. ben whitworth says:

    A number of people who go (went?) to the High Mass at Ely Place were already ‘refugees’ from St Joseph’s, Bunhill Row, where a similar thing happened about five years ago.

    We can expect Mass attendance at the SSPX chapel in Holloway to rise sharply.

  11. Anthony says:

    Here’s their e-mail:

  12. Chironomo says:

    This type of behavior would seem to indicate a Pastor who believes he has the “real secret” to making liturgy work…

    “obviously these people have been made to suffer this dull and uninspiring liturgy with the Priest facing away… but I will show them how it can be done with excitement and celebration! It can’t wait a year… this place needs to be reformed NOW before everyone leaves… hey wait a minute… why is everyone leaving NOW? Wait!! You haven’t heard the Contemporary ensemble sing with me at the keyboard yet!!”

    I’ve seen this happen before, and with my current Pastor slated to leave here June 20th (after 32 years as Pastor!)and we don’t know who will be assigned here, I can only pray that I don’t have the opportunity to see it happen again.

  13. Matthew M. says:

    What a shame! By coincidence, I explored that church yesterday morning (not for mass), and it was truly, truly beautiful. It’s the sort of transcendant setting that fairly demands a reverent liturgy. Perhaps the new pastor (or the Rosminian order) will reconsider.

    It is so rare in England to find a beautiful old church that’s not been turned into a Church of England museum piece. It fell into the hands of the Church about 130 years ago when auctioned off. The C of E had intended it as a mission for the area (lots of Irish Catholics were nearby) but hadn’t much success. The great Oxford-movement convert Cardinal Manning had a priest snap it up for a few thousand pounds. The interior is a dream, and even the 1950’s-era stained glass is tasteful and lovely.

  14. Tim Ferguson says:

    How Tawdry!

  15. Harding II says:

    I applaud Fr Deidun for his boldness. It was about time Ely Place was brought up to speed. For too long the parish was separated from the rest of the Church and from the vivifying work of the Holy Spirit. It was as if the Holy Spirit was somehow resisted at this church, as if the Holy Spirit’s wondrous life-breathing movements, so evident throughout the Church since Vatican II, were somehow barricaded off at Ely Place. I say well to Fr Deidun, his appointment itself was a gift of the Holy Spirit.

  16. Don’t judge all the Rosminians on this example! I know another who recently learned how to serve as subdeacon.

  17. Tom says:

    What is surprising here is not the action of the new ‘pastor’ but how long it will take for folks to realise that NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Okay, ALMOST nothing has changed. Certainly, NOTHING HAS CHANGED in 99.9% of Parishes, Congregations, etc.

    It is wonderful that the Pope says what he says and writes what he writes and wears what he wears and if I lived in the Parish where the Pope was Pastor, I’d be really lucky. It is even wonderful that, in some places, people have started to change because they see the lead that the Pope is giving. However, it is simply dillusional to think that there is anything different in the method from the previous Pontificate. Tone and content different but implementation and, dare I say it, enforcement, negligible.

    This Pastor is not an abberation – he’s the norm. This Pastor is not the renegade, he’s the establishment. Even though the CEO has a new/traditional style, if he doesn’t change the Company policy and make the Company change, it doesn’t change. Firing a few middle managers would be an excellent start. Instead, the same old Company men are promoted and supported and redeployed.

    As I say so often, and THESE are the people that you want to SSPX to put themselves into the hands of. THIS is the situation that the SSPX has no argument to stay apart from. THIS is the result of a Pope who ISN’T a perfect liberal, good in bits but tolerant of bad…

  18. There is aq quick solution to this problem: withhold giving money in the collection; certainly that will get the Bishop’s attention!

  19. Trey says:

    “It was as if the Holy Spirit was somehow resisted at this church, as if the Holy Spirit’s wondrous life-breathing movements, so evident throughout the Church since Vatican II, were somehow barricaded off at Ely Place…”

    Yeah right… I think you mean the “Spirit of Vatican II” was resisted…
    Different Spirit. The HOLY Spirit is the one that gave us Pope Benedict, and
    ensures that his teaching is without error.

  20. Thomasso says:

    This is very sad indeed and must break poor Fr Kit Cunningham’s heart. However, it is quite consistent with the iconoclastic mentality of the Church in the UK. It’s a great opportunity for the liberals and the liberal bishops to stick two fingers up to the Holy Father and Liturgical Tradition.

    However, in the long run, these liberals know their days are numbered; they will cause as much hurt and destruction as they possibly can – but eventually (and, yes, it may take a long while) they will die off and all that will be left will be orthodox, traditional-minded Catholics loyal to the Holy Father. Let’s pray for that parish and also for a good archbishop of Westminster. Please God the Holy Father will heed the pleas of his suffering people.

  21. Matt of South Kent says:

    Maybe the parish could/should transfer to FSSP?

    If the parishioners are so “attached” (I hate that expression), to the extraordinary form, members of the parish need to address their concerns with the new pastor. If the parishioners are still unhappy, they should go to the Bishop and keep working up the chain.

    I am sure Fr Deidun and the Rosminian Order are good people and I bet they realize that St. Etheldreda’s a special gem and if approached in a spirit of Christian Charity, maybe they would consider transferring the parish to FSSP.

    If everyone bolts to SSPX, they will be in my prayers. Maybe they can be a force of good and balance with in SSPX.

  22. pdt says:

    Perhaps the priest is demonstrating leadership by showing that east is in the other direction than the people had been led to believe by the previous pastor. The people should accept his leadership. Next Sunday when he goes to the altar and faces towards the rear of the church, all the people should turn around and face with him.

  23. jacobus says:

    Typical truculent hubris. What is it exactly that goeth before the fall?

  24. Ottaviani says:

    Just to let everyone know: the extraordinary form is not celebrated regularly at St. Etheldreda’s (except on First Fridays).

    They have the new rite is Latin and ad orientem.

    This is a carefully orchestrated plan by the Rosminians to bring St. Etheldreda’s “in line” with the “liturgical vision of the Second Vatican council” – which we all know is a disaster…

  25. Jenny Z says:

    Heartbreaking. :(

  26. AnnaTrad says:

    Why are you surprised; the battle is far, far from over. Actually we are in the early days but take heart, we know what the final outcome will be.

  27. Woody Jones says:

    My impression is that there are indeed many fine and tradition-minded Rosminians, including, of course, Fr. Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, who had a time at St Etheldreda’s before moving to the IC generalate in Rome. He celebrated Mass in the EF for Mel Gibson most days on set for the making of the “Passion of the Christ”.

    He also was (maybe still is) the Catholic patron (along with several Anglican ones, of course) of the Society of King Charles the Martyr.

  28. michael o says:

    If I hear another apologist for the status quo drag the Holy Spirit’s name through the mud again, I’ll scream. The Spirit is only present in those who are Pentecostal in action and belief? The Pentecostals have a Theology less than one inch deep. Too many would like the Catholic Church to imitate them. I say “not on my watch.”

  29. Paul, South Midlands says:

    “We can expect Mass attendance at the SSPX chapel in Holloway to rise sharply”

    More likely, we can expect “Mass” attendence at the High Anglican church of St Albans, 5 minutes walk away from St Ethelredas to rise sharply.

    At St Albans they use the Novus Ordo without alteration and “Mass” is ad orientem with the congregation kneeling to receive communion on the Tongue (just like St Ethelredas). There are notices in the church telling people not to talk because the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. In fact the only time you would know you are not in a Catholic church is when the disocesan bishop is prayed for in the Eucharistic Prayer.

    They have rather more support from their heirachy though. A few years ago the Anglican Bishop of St Albans came to say “Pontifical High Mass” on the feast of St Albans.

  30. Harding says:

    Why are you surprised; the battle is far, far from over. Actually we are in the early days but take heart, we know what the final outcome will be.

    Hello. The battle is over. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church into a new age since the great Second Vatican Council. The liturgy is now celebrated in an unpretentious manner in the vernacular facing the people with communion in the hand, popular hymns and modern vestments etc. universally. There are a few hold outs resisting His impulses, but these are so insignificant in number it would be generous to say they register as a 0.01% blip. You think this tiny groups of kooky Medieval re-enactors is somehow going to wrestle the Holy Spirit to the ground and take 1 Billion Catholics back to the 16th century? Well, it’s an opinion I suppose.

  31. Jack007 says:

    Well, after reading Harding’s comments, I can only think of one reality.
    Traditionally minded Catholics (read LOYAL to the Magisterium) do not contracept. Hence they produce LARGE numbers of offspring. The average sized family in my own parish is 5-6 children.
    Those infused with the “Spirit of Vatican II”…
    You do the math.
    As my sister is fond of saying, “We will OUTBREED them!”.
    For those of you who cringe at comments such as those of Harding above, think how THEY must feel when they read THAT?
    Holy Spirit save us from the coming hordes of medieval re-enactors!
    As far as the thought of the tiny number influencing a billion…
    Let’s see, now.
    Jesus started with twelve, Ignatius Loyola started with six…well, you get the picture.
    Jack in KC
    PS. I’ll be at my parish (FSSP) annual picnic tomorrow. Several hundred parishioners where the AVERAGE age is…are ya’ ready???
    UNDER 18!

  32. EnglishCatholic says:

    I was educated by the Rosminians. Like all ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ outfits,
    they are dying on their feet.
    Just let Darwinian forces run their course, and things will soon start to improve.

  33. chiara says:

    Why don’t the parishioners ask for the Extraordinary Rite? That is what the Motu Proprio advises them to do and if their request is not granted then they apply to Ecclesia Dei who is meant to sort it out.

  34. CBM says:

    Don’t build too strong a case on the “wait a year” before you change anything or anyone.
    though I certainly am repulsed by what this priest has done I have once before and now am again in a sitauation where a year of the same would sink me and the parish as a whole.
    I have never in 15 years known a situation where a priest went in and waited a year and found this to be preferd to going in, smiling and telling the people with sincrere love for them and the Church, lets do this for the following reasons and putting sopmething usually better in place.

    it might hurt at first but if you “sentire cum ecclesia” (the real ONE ,Christ, not he one that you create on your own ego) it will be better.
    pray for me!!!

  35. Steven McKenna says:

    Sad ~ the Church that weds the spirit of the current age will find herself a widow in the next

  36. I had the privilege of attending Mass at St. Etheldreda’s several years ago, while Fr. Cunningham was still there. What a wonderful liturgy! The choir sang a Mass setting by Lassus, and the reverence of both priest and people was almost tangible.

    What is happening now is tragic.

    But, contrary to Michael, we should hope! Not only has our Lord promised that the Church will not fail, but there are many signs out there that the grip of the “spirit of Vatican II” establishment is being broken.

  37. jeanmarie says:

    This is really sad! When I was a student we’d go to down to London to visit Pere Charles-Roux at St. Ethelreda’s. He always said the Traditional Latin Mass there and did so until he left for Rome where he would say it on the set of Mel Gibson’s Passion when it was being filmed. Later, when I lived in London the TLM would be celeberated on first fridays and every saturday by Pere Charles-Roux. I suppose this changed after he left. Pere Charles-Roux has written a wonderful book about the Holy Royal New Martyrs Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and the Dauphin which one hopes will further their cause. It came out last year. In any case, this priest’s actions should be looked upon as the dernier cri of an order of things that has now reached its apex and has begun to wane. The movement that arose in the wake of Vatican II will go the same way as protestantism and eventually die just as the movements that began in the sixteenth century.

  38. jeanmarie says:

    This is really sad! When I was a student we\’d go to down to London to visit Pere Charles-Roux at St. Ethelreda\’s. He always said the Traditional Latin Mass there and did so until he left for Rome where he would say it on the set of Mel Gibson\’s Passion when it was being filmed. Later, when I lived in London the TLM would be celeberated on first fridays and every saturday by Pere Charles-Roux. I suppose this changed after he left. Pere Charles-Roux has written a wonderful book about the Holy Royal New Martyrs Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and the Dauphin which one hopes will further their cause. It came out last year. In any case, this priest\’s actions should be looked upon as the dernier cri of an order of things that has now reached its apex and has begun to wane. The movement that arose in the wake of Vatican II will go the same way as protestantism and eventually die just as the movements that began in the sixteenth century.

  39. Matt of South Kent says:

    I emailed and received the following prompt reply…

    “Many thanks for your message. I assume you mean ‘in what liturgical direction?’. Only one change has been made, namely, the sung Latin Mass is now celebrated with the priest facing the people. Everything else remains the same, including the choir and the Latin. Thank you for your interest.

    Fr Tom Deidun”

    All in all, I think we need to see how this goes.

  40. Trey says:

    Harding –

    Keeping repeating it over and over, and maybe you will start to believe it…
    But that won’t make it true…

  41. pro omnibus says:

    “Everything else remains the same”? You mean apart from sacking the deacon, refusing to sing when appropriate (including the Pater Noster), refusing to say a silent canon and omitting the Salve Regina etc, etc?

    Why do you think your new flock seems to believe there is a significant difference between what you say and what you do?

  42. Hoka2_99 says:

    This is very sad indeed and must break poor Fr Kit Cunningham’s heart. However, it is quite consistent with the iconoclastic mentality of the Church in the UK. It’s a great opportunity for the liberals and the liberal bishops to stick two fingers up to the Holy Father and Liturgical Tradition.
    Exactly, Thomasso! In my parish “they”, including the parish priest, who is weak-kneed and hardly ever there except when he HAS to be, ignore the Holy Father and Liturgical Tradition – everyone on the Pastoral Council and everyone who has influence simply goes with the flow. I’ve given up. Last weekend’s visitation by the bishop did nothing to make me feel better. For a start, the noise of babbling tongues in the church after Mass could clearly be heard by the bishop, who was shaking hands at the church door. I can only suppose he complied with this. When I managed to speak to him later, I mentioned the Motu Proprio and that the Holy Father’s wish is for the two rites eventually to merge into one Roman Rite; he snapped back at me that he knows what the Pope says and writes. Brick wall! I rather feebly added that we have only two TLMs a year in a nearby larger parish and he seemed to think that was adequate.
    I can do no more in a parish that is more concerned with the “Environment” and “recycling” [which any sensible person does anyway] than with sound Catholic teaching, the Real Presence and reverence in the church…..
    Father Z….is there ANYTHING we can do?
    I’m a convert from 1968 and missed completely the beauty and reverence of the Tridentine Rite.

  43. Justin says:

    Heh. Typical. We need a better Archbishop here in Westminster really. Murphy O’Connor is nice and all…but he’s just soo woolly and incomprehensible.

    Whatever ‘type’ the next one is – firstly he’s got to be able to speak English, secondly he must be incisive, and thirdly he’s got to be clear and concise.

    And as for Ely Place – Mass versus populum – Ugh. I am not only repulsed by his actions, I am repulsed by this priest himself. I would encourage all parishioners to jump ship – go to Spanish Place, Oratory, wherever. Get away from this liberal Biblical “scholar”. I know we should pray for the enemies of the church, and I’m praying pretty hard for their downfall let me tell you.

  44. Andrew says:

    This is very sad news. I had the pleasure of playing for a few Masses at St. Etheldreda last year and always enjoyed the excellent liturgy. The congregation must be absolutely up in arms at this.

  45. Michael says:

    Rob Johansen, Michael is full of hope that the authorities will eventually realize that the New Mass is a theological mistake and pastoral disaster, let it pass away without being killed, and build the Church on more sound foundations. And the suggested Tridentine Rite diocese would be a realistic starting point for a helthy renewal.

  46. magdalen says:

    For Harding and others enamoured of the ‘spirit’ of vatican two which was NOT the Holy Spirit for God cannot contradict Himself…

    Well we have seen this thing happen countless sad times over the past 40 years. Hows it going with all this? How about a few statistics…from Kenneth Jones “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators” and these numbers are from the US (and what I am reading is that the UK is in far worse straits).

    Priests: 58,000 in 1960 and 45,000 in 2002.
    seminarians: 49,000 in 1960 and 4,700 in 2002 which is a 90% drop
    Catholic nuns: 180,000 in 1960 and 75,000 in 2002, average age 68.

    Seminarians for Franciscans and Redemptorists: fell from 3,379 to 84.

    Almost half the Catholic High Schools have closed.

    3/4 of Catholics used to come to Sunday Mass, now 1/4.

    338 annulments in 1968 and 50,000 in 2002.

    I think you get the picture and it is not pretty. That is what the infamous spirit of vatican two has wrought. Now our Holy Father is seeking to restore what was stolen and lost and to reconnect us with our sacred heritage. May many priests be obedient to his wishes and may the bishops give the example.

  47. Leah says:

    Another tragic victim of the post-conciliar church. This is part of the chastisement Sister Lucy talked about. It’s a spiritual one, and Malachi Martin said “Unless you believe that there is a wholesale apostasy that is happening within the institutionalized Roman Catholic Church, the third secret doesn’t make any sense.” We are living in a time of apostasy, and all we can really do is BE Catholic. Go with the 1950 years of tradition. I read about the church, and it is just as much a travesty, as the 200 years England had to endure with the Mass outlawed. Welcome to the new martyrdom, this time, in dry mode, for now.

  48. Richard says:

    Harding is clearly a very gifted satirist.

  49. Habemus Papam says:

    This may seem off-topic but yesterdays news broadcast the Funeral “Service” of Yves St Laurent in Paris, focusing on the part where the actress Catherine Denueve (sic?) marched into the Sanctuary to give her personal memories of the designer. The clery sat meekly listening to her homily. This is the face of the Catholic Church for millions of people.

  50. leo says:

    if edith piaf was refused a requiem than why was yves st laurent allowed one/ there were certainly many imprudent comments made during the Mass

  51. Oliver says:

    What we need in central London is a large church for Catholics independent of the degenerate hierarchy where the old Mass can be offered by a rotation of strictly traditional priests. There are bound to be buildings available in due course as the official churches close their doors. And there are always private funds available for traditional purposes. I am thinking on the scale of Brompton Oratory but without the hybridisation.
    Father Black almost acquired such a site years ago but politics got in the way.

  52. Habemus Papam says:

    Leo: Even if Edith Piaf had been allowed a requiem we wouldn’t have seen Marlene Dietrich in the Sanctuary!

  53. Sobieski says:

    Dear Harding:

    Why do you think that the 99.99% that you reference are necessarily with the Spirit? Perhaps it is the Remnant that He is with.

  54. Calleva says:

    Oliver, that’s the trouble; “independent of the hierarchy” is exactly what Catholics can’t be, though the temptation is strong. I don’t know the situation in London other than the reputation of the Oratory and Farm Street. If the FSSP could be given a redundant church, perhaps?

    Meanwhile please consider attending the Pontifical High Mass at the Cathedral at 2 pm on Saturday 14th. If people attend in sufficient numbers it will send a clear message to all those who declare that there is ‘insufficient interest’ in the TLM.

  55. Maria says:

    First of all Ely Place does not have ‘parishioners’. There isn’t a school, and the congregation are all followers of the parish priest, rather than God. There was hardly any money put in the collection each Sunday by all these people who travelled miles to belong to a ‘club’ rather than pray to God. Secondly, the deacon was not a Rosminian but a rather right-wing deacon who couldn’t have gone anywhere else, and was allegedly refused ordination!

  56. rotnets says:

    Maria’s comment is as pathetic as it is sickeningly ignorant. If the defenders of the new, inappropriately-assigned clergy at Ely Place have to depend on this kind of bile-laden drivel, then we proud “parishioners” will probably not be troubled by these two priests for much longer.

  57. pro omnibus says:

    Hmmmm, I’m not sure that the nasty and abusive comment from “Maria” merits a reply, but as it seems to represent (at least one of) the new incumbents of Ely Place fighting back, I’ll add my pennyworth(apparently the average sum put in the collection plate each week!).

    It might be easier to simply refer you to the comments I’ve left at Holy Smoke, as I presume that you are also the “Maria-Louise” who has recently commented there, but you seem to feel that this blog deserves something far more barbed and vituperative directed at us parishioners of Ely Place, so here is a response dedicated specifically to the bile above.

    Firstly, a pedantic but important rebuttal. As it happens, Ely Place does have a parish if one accepts the normal definitions as 1: a local church community and 2: a local subdivision of a diocese. Indeed, if you look at the website for the Diocese of Westminster, you’ll find it listed as a parish –

    Therefore, you are simply wrong, Ely Place does have parishioners, and I’m one of them. Sure, few of us actually live within the geographical parish, I certainly don’t, but I travel the short distance there in order to worship in a manner I find appropriate. It is not merely a “club”, and we most certainly do pray to God, and to claim otherwise as you do is both wholly inaccurate and deeply offensive. Honestly, how dare you make such derogatory remarks about our faith and our beliefs, especially as you have no evidence for any of this, and you’ve never met us in person?

    I have no idea how much was put in the collection plate each week, I didn’t think it was any of my business. As I doubt that you have previously held any office at Ely Place, I can only assume that the source of your information was one of the priests now officiating at the church. I hope I’m wrong, because otherwise to have made this allegation to you would have been a reprehensible lapse on their part.

    Lastly, you’re completely right that Dr Hemming, our distinguished Deacon, was not a Rosminian, and nobody has ever claimed that he was. He is attached to the diocese, and his appointment to our church was sanctioned by them. In marked contrast, I understand that the diocese was not consulted about either the appointment of the new rector by the Institute of Charity, or about the dismissal of Dr Hemming. If this is true, and I freely admit I have no firm evidence for this, it would seem to be both discourteous and contrary to established practice.

    I really wonder whether it was worth making the effort to reply to your nasty and uncharitable comments. However as you seem to have the ear of the Presbytery at Ely Place, I hope that they will read this post and understand that it represents a factual and objective rebuttal of your unpleasant insinuations.

    As I wrote on the Holy Smoke blog, I think this conversation has probably served its purpose and is now simply helping to entrench opinions on both sides. I therefore doubt that I will write much more, but I will always feel the need to counter unfounded and mischievous insinuations with a statement of the facts. But I will take care not to stoop so low as to question anyone else’s faith.

  58. peregrinator says:

    I too am very saddened to hear of any trouble at St. Etheldredra’s which
    has been my home away from when in London since 2000.

    I’d like to point out, again, that the EF is not offered regularly there –
    rather the Pauline Mass in Latin. So petitioning the diocese for an EF would
    not be a solution.

    I think the suggestions/implications in previous posts that parishioners should
    or will leave for the SSPX or St. Albans are evidence of bad, defeatist attitude.

    I hope that the parishioners at Ely Place will stay and fight for their traditions.

  59. While Maria’s comment, above, was out of line, the comment by “rotnet” was over the top. He will therefore not be joining us in the near future.

  60. Maria says:

    I am not Maria-Theresa. I am Maria-Anna.

  61. Samantha says:

    As a parishioner in the real sense – that I live in the paramaters of Ely Place, no one is getting at Fr Kit. He is a fine priest but at 78 it was time to move on. No one wanted to see him go the same way as Pope John Paul 2. It was very obvious from attending that church that it was the congregation, not Fr Kit, who were at fault in putting Fr Kit saying a normal Latin Mass ‘facing East’ before God! That is what the problem is. There is another problem – the parish belongs to the Rosminians and if the congregation are not happy with the two fine priests who are there, who do they think will come in? The alternative is Kenyans and Tanzanians who only do English and Swahili. After all, the Rosminians are now a missionary order, most of which are in Tanzania, Kenya and various parts of India. They are now coming to Britian to run parishes here. A classica example is the Tanzanians who are in Wales as there aren’t enough Rosminians available. People forget Fr Kit was a missionary in Tanzania for 14 years and could speak Swahili. He didn’t say Latin Masses in Tanzania and he always cherished that experience.

    God works through people and let’s hope Ely Place will now move on. Fr Tom is facing the congregation for Mass? It maybe West or North, but God is everywhere and in us too! After all when we receive Holy Communion, we are then tabernacles ourselves.

    Be kind to these two new priests. They are good decent men and the love of God shines through them.

  62. Michael says:

    Calleva, 9 June, you are right: Catholics can’t be without hierarchy, even if that hierarchy is “degenerate” as Oliver, 7 June, puts it. With due respect to Oliver, his kind of language is incompatible with the Catholic ethos, and it is unnecessary, to put it mildly. And what he proposes would be, materially, a schism. That is not the way forward. But neither is your hope, Celleva, that partial improvements, here and there, with the FSSP’s possession of a redundant church, or the LMS’ support of the Pontifical High Mass at Westminster.

    What we need is not a structure without a hierarchy, but a trans-teritorial autonomous structure with its own hierarchy, independent on local hierarchies but in a full ecclesiastical communion with the latter, and directly under the Holy See (see Michael, 5 June; Matt of South Kent agrees, 5 June). A similar structure already exists: Ukrainian Catholic Church, and some other Eastern Catholic Churches, have their own dioceses throughout the world. There is nothing hopeless, as Fr. Rob Johansen puts it (6 June), in hoping in this kind of development (see Michael, 6 June).

    The situation would be quite different, for instance, if the FSSP had their own bishop and the right to establish their own parishes. And it would be radically better if the SSPX, with their own hierarchical structure and “parishes” already in place, were reconciled. It is a real tragedy that the SSPX are so entrenched in their own “tradition” that the reconciliation is impossible; while they could be in a best position to help the Church. On the other hand, the FSSP has its activity impaired by the established hierarchy: they can’t act independently

  63. Samantha says:

    What you forget is that the Rosminian priests are appointed by the Provincial in conjunction with the Father General, and not by Cormac or any other bishop. Most of the Rosminians are in fact from India and Tanzania and who do Mass in many other languages than English or Latin or facing East. You cannot just pull priests out of the sky and put them into Ely Place, unless of course you would like Mass in an Indian language with a touch of Hindu inculturation or one of the 117 Tanzanian languages, which a are all living languages. If you succeed in breaking those two dear priests who have been appointed, with such viciousness, be it upon your shoulders. You will have insulted the whole order and I doubt if any of the hierarchy, not even the Pope, would be on your side. The way they have been spoken about is enough to deter any decent Rosminian – or other priest, from going into Ely Place. And if there is such a thing as a day of judgement, God will not say how many Latin Masses did you attend or how often, he will say, “When did you fail to love!” Love of people is the essence of Jesus’s message. You should all go and say hello to those Rosminians, invite them out for a meal, help in the parish, and welcome them with open arms as Jesus would have done. Simple really if you’re not caught up with yourselves!

    I suggest this blog be closed. It doesn’t give a good impression of the Catholic Church or Catholics, never mind about Christianity which is what we all are.

  64. Clare says:

    Hmmm. I am in the process of returning to the Catholic faith of my childhood after a time of wandering in Evangelicalism (driven there incidentally by the the sort of lame liberal wet brand of catholicism that most of the commenters on this blog also loathe)
    I happened across this blog quite by chance as Fr Denis is a friend of my aunts and I was curious to find out a little about the church that he has arrived in. I met him some years ago before he moved to Rugby and remember being struck by a palpable holiness and charity. I remember wishing that it wasn’t so unusual to find a priest like that.
    Reading through these comments I find myself getting a little depressed and slightly sick.I guess reality bites. This is the point at which the giddy excitement of ‘returning home’ starts to abate and sour somewhat as I observe the tearing apart of two priests who have barely had a chance to unpack their suitcases.
    To the commenters who are presuming this to be part of some ‘end times apostate church’ scenario, I can offer no comment but sighs. I absolutely know for a certainty that Fr Denis is no liberal woolly progressive, but a priest who loves the Lord and His Church with all his heart and has given his life to it.
    Fr Z , have a care for your brother priests, it is sad to see them ridiculed like this, and sadder still that you seem to be encouraging this dissection of their ministry at this church before it has even properly begun. It seems that Damien Thompsons article was hasty and lacking in balance and you seem to have assumed that it is entirely accurate.
    None of this bears any hallmarks of Christian charity, which is a DEAD giveaway. Pharisees? Whitewashed tombs? Anyone?

  65. Samantha says:


    You make returning to Catholic church sound as if your evangelical experience was a mistake. Christianity is Christianity, and if you just go moving around and convert to a priest, then you will never be happy. You have seen for yourself the level of talk on this blog. Are they any better than the Church of England who are also tearing themselves apart over something else!

    I suggest you try Holy Trinity Brompton and Alpha, and find the place full of Catholics, not the sort that most people associate with that church. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa is a regular preacher from the Vatican, who preaches to the Pope. You never would have heard him in Brompton Oratory – or dare I say Ely Place!

  66. Clare says:

    Samantha, just incase you come by here again I’d like to make the following points. Perhaps I did make it sound as though my evangelical experience was a mistake,if so I’m sorry. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    We love what the evangelical church has done for the body of Christ in this country. I refer especially to HTB. As it happens, we are regulars there ( I suppose I could describe myself as being ‘in transition’) and have attended Home Focus for the last number of summers ( we will still be going this year) I also still attend my evangelical bible study weekly ( just very attached to the group!) Actually, my husband and I heard Raniero Cantalamessa speak at HTB last year. I was very touched by the obvious affection and respect he and Nicky Gumbel have for eachother.
    I rather share your thoughts re the Brompton Oratory.

    I have returned to the RC church largely because of the Eucharist. My reading of John 6 and 1 Corinthians 11 leaves me no alternative. Once I accepted that, I felt that to stay away would be to deny the body of Christ, and after reading 1 Cor 11 I just couldn’t do that.
    Also I read a book called The Mass of The Early Christians by Mike Aquilina. After holding a Seder meal this year I was struck by the similarities to the mass. It got me wondering about the early Christians, who were Jewish. Would they, I wondered, have jettisoned all the beauty of their feasts and seasons to sit in a circle singing the first century equivalent of Kumbaya and listen to a “Really Good Talk”? I put this question to my pentecostal friend who told me very emphatically and authoratively that there was “NO MASS IN THE EARLY CHURCH!” ( caps owing to said friends firmness on the matter!) After our conversation I googled, very randomly ” mass early christians”. Thats how I came by this book, ordered it, and was intrigued to discover how intensely liturgical, sacramental and eucharistic the first Christians were. The rest, as they say, is history (ha!). But suffice to say that I absolutely did NOT want to return to the RC church. Especially after the vibrant authentic faith I have experienced in HTB. I did eventually however find an excellent church in Ogle street where the priest Fr Alan Fudge really does preach and teach the truth to those who attend his masses. That helps.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about the level of talk in the comments here. Its all about the flesh. I am very convinced about the core teaching of the Catholic church now, so i don’t find this kind of discussion as disturbing as i would have a few years ago ( which is not to say that I don’t find it disturbing now). Sadly ‘religion’ tends to lend itself to this kind of mindset. the scriptures themselves testify to that also. Forever straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel. It was ever thus.
    Pax Christi

  67. Clare says:

    Samantha, I forgot to ask. What did you mean when you said this:
    “…and if you just go moving around and convert to a priest, then you will never be happy.”?
    Just a little perplexed by that and unsure quite what you meant.

  68. Maria says:

    Putting a priest before God!

  69. Tommy says:

    I attended the First Friday Latin Masses at St. Etheldredas. If this has been changed to Novus Ordo, I won’t be going again.

    I found _this_ site because the St. Etheldreda website is down. (I remembered they did confessions at 1.20pm every day, and I wanted to check that was so, as I missed confession in my own parish this weekend.)

    I suppose I’ll have to play safe and go to the Brompton Oratory for my First Fridays and First Saturdays.

    Anyone who’s keen on the Novus Ordo should consider that it is the King Of The Universe we are adoring in the Mass; egotism should be left at the door. This includes priests.

    I don’t know the individuals involved. Instead of attacking the priest, people should just state plainly what he has done, and people who don’t like it, can 1. Calmly discuss it with the priest 2. If they don’t get satisfaction, 2. write to the bishop, and if still unsatisfied, they can 3. vote with their feet, I suppose.

    Doesn’t sound good. I am sad.

  70. Christine says:

    The bishop has nothing to do with Ely Place and the placing of priests in that parish. It is run by the Rosminians – the Institute of Charity, the majority of whom are now Indian and African missionaries. They don’t know Latin in any shape or form, and Latin was not something Jesus spoke either. Neither do many of your diocescan priests know Latin except the right-wing, anti-women brigade – and the Rosminians certainly don’t go down that road. Italian, yes, and English as well as hundreds of other languages but not Latin. It is a total disgrace the way these two priests have been treated and spoken about. Best to go to the Oratory and join the ex-Anglicans, who don’t like women either.

Comments are closed.