Advice to Cardinals,Bishops and Priests from Edmund Burke

Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.


Edmund Burke.  Reflections on the Revolution in France.


Some notes from the Archives

This is the first of an occasional series of extracts from the riches of our muniments.

“After all these prophetic and evengelical and apostolic writings which we have set forth above, on which the Catholic Church by the Grace of God is founded, we have thought this fact also ought to be published, namely, that, although the universal Catholic Church spread throughout the world is the one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless the Holy Roman Church has not been preferred to other Churches by reason of synodal decrees, but she has obtained the primacy by the evangelical voice of the Lord and Saviour saying “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against her.  I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”

Decretum Gelasium c.520 Pope Gelasius I


The real reason for the furore over Bishop WIlliamson’s remarks was that they gave an opportunity for those who oppose the Pope’s gently steering the Barque of Peter back towards its traditional course to oppose without appearing to attack directly.  A couple of hotheads on each side have acted like hotheads, SSPX priests seeming to be closet sedevacantists, or liberal mainstream priests outing themselves as anti-papalists, but the main battle is being savagely fought with the liberals using the secular media as their mercenary (and Boy! will they end up paying if they win).

The liberal “Spirit of Vatican II” Church, the Church of all-powerful Episcopal Conferences and Synods, the Church which seems to hold Ecumenism and Environmentalism to be doctrines as important for salvation as the Real Presence, the Church of the sleek and sinuous Cardinals who saw the light in the 1960s: has realised that it is in great danger of being swept aside by a Benedictine revolution, and that if they cannot capture the young people whom John Paul II made his own, and who seem to respond as well to Benedict XVI, they are doomed.

The weapon they have chosen is to accuse the Pope of one of the great secular sins: Holocaust denial.  It shows their desperation: they have no other choice, for how could they attack the Pope’s Catholicsm.  So they have ubnleashed forces they do not own and cannot control. 

The battle is about the Catholic Church’s place in a realigned Christianity: if the SSPX becomes a part of the Church, and Catholic-Orthodox relations improve, the return to the traditional course will become ever more marked; and as orthodoxy is reestablished within the Catholic Church, those whose views are more heterodox will find themselves increasingly isolated.

So of course they are fighting; but they do not understand what they are unleashing, and what will bring them down: we do.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.


His Holiness, and I assume this is acknowledged by all, is a very clever man.  Not just an intellectual, his experience as a teacher, a pastoral Bishop and a Curial cardinal means that he has an unparalleled understanding of people, and especially of the clergy. 

One of the implications of this is that he knows what he is doing.  That sounds like a statement of the obvious, but it is worth stopping and thinking about it: it means that his public statements follow what the military might refer to as the “Effects Based Approach”.  Start by thinking about the endstate that you wish to achieve, and consider the activities that you will need to carry out to reach that position, the order in which you should carry them out, and the allies you will need to draw on to enable you to reach this endstate.

Viewed in this light, it seems that we are approaching a climacteric in the Church: in fact, it may already have started.  The Pope has appealed to priests over the Bishop’s heads and has given them permission to use the Extraordinary Rite ad libitum.  Several Bishops have reacted negatively to this – do they see it as an attack on their authority? – and have “interpreted” the Motu Proprio in such a way as to restrict the permission given to priests by the Pope.

Now if my assertion above is true: that HH the P knows exactly what he wants to achieve: then it isn’t hard to conclude that he expected this reaction.  Indeed, he might almost welcome it.  Although there can be no doubt that he sincerely desires a return to regular celebration of the Extraordinary Rite, and to Masses celebrated everywhere and always in Beauty and adherence to the rubrics, I believe that his target is Episcopalianism – government by Bishops – in the Catholic Church.

One of the novelties which arose from the aftermath of Vatican II was the creation of national and regional Conferences of Bishops which began to federate episcopal responsibility within countries and regions.  The Church  had managed pretty well for 1900 years without these structures, even after the rise of the nation state.  This was because the Church, while local and universal, is not national; but what has arisen is national. 

The Bishops in England and Wales were able to coordinate a response to what became the 1944 Education Act without the need for an Eccleston Square full of officials.  That was because most of their work was local and pastoral.

The Pope’s target is regulation of the Episcopacy, I believe, and the necessary reduction of the power they bring to bear when they act collectively, especially when that power is exercised against the Pope.

If I’m right, then some of us will be asked, however obliquely, to choose our loyalties: do we follow our Pope or our Bishop?  This fight will not be pleasant.

Cricket and Tradition

Is it possible to be a cricket lover and not be a traditionalist?  Is it possible to be a cricket lover and not accept that cricket has to develop organically?

The ordinary form of cricket is increasingly one of limited over games which attract larger crowds and generate revenue.  The extraordinary form is longer but is more subtle: a deeper game.  Anybody can learn to understand cricket, but the rise of limited overs cricket, itself a response to the diminishing numbers of those attracted by the pure form of the game, has meant that many have remained faithful to cricket during the summer: not as many as in previous years, but enough to ensure that a structure was in place to attract and nurture young boys to dream of growing into the sort of men, their heroes, who could stride into the crease.

Many, of course, aspired to little more than the ordinary form of the game.  Until, two years ago, the, well, the superiority of the extraordinary form, what had for many years been the only form, enraptured not just those who had remained faithful, but countless numbers of people who were only really interested in what had become the ordinary form.  They were converted.

Is it a coincidence that His Holiness the Pope was elected right at the start of the 2005 season?  Is it too fanciful to suggest that he pondered what happened in England that year?

Many thought that his Motu Proprio should have come out sooner, but he had possibly reflected on the fact that the Ashes Series was later than any series in living memory.

His Holiness has reflected on the fact that he was not particularly sporty as a boy: one of the joys of cricket is that there is room in the family for those who will never be team captain, and maybe who will never make even the third eleven.  There is more to cricket than the team: there is the club.  We need scorers, groundsmen, people to man the entrance: we even need archivists.

Analogies will only take us so far, but I trust that the RCC will take a lead in welcoming the embrace of the Church in England and Wales of an expanding sense of Tradition and an understanding that knowledge of old and new things enriches the way we enjoy our cricket, and live our Faith.

Eating like a King is a fascinating site.  Apart from listing monarchist organisations all over the world – who would have thought that the UK branch of the Royal Lithuanian Nobility Association would be based in Crumpsall Green in North Manchester? – it lists monarchist restaurants.  Just in London and the Home Counties you could eat at Burmese, Thai, Iranian and Romanian monarchist restaurants.

If anybody has visited one of them, could we have a review?

Cordial greetings to Dom Duarte

The rightful King of Portugal, Dom Duarte, will be 62 on 15 May.  Some splendid chaps have set up a means of sending His Royal Highness greetings on his birthday.

Go to and fill in the form (sorry – you’ll have to copy and paste as I can’t get wordpress to show me how to do a link):

 “Nome” means Christian Name; “Apelido” means Surname; “Email” means “E-mail address”; “Localidade” means “Where I am posting from”; “Mensagem” is the place to write your best wishes for HRH’s birthday”; and “Enviar” is the button to click to send them.  The English language will be fine.

 And you are waiting for what?