This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 5 August 2012

Vatican II - 50 years on

Monsignor Basil Foltus, who in 1962 was a high-flying priest in his late forties, played an important role in persuading the Second Vatican Council to throw away the Church's ancient traditions. He reflects modestly on some of the reforms he instigated.

Basil Foltus

Basil Foltus as a young priest

Which way should the priest face at Mass?

The answer to this question was obvious to me. When I ride on an omnibus, I don't want the driver to turn his back on me, in order to see where he's going, I want him to turn round and talk to me. "Monsignor Foltus, how kind of you to grace our humble omnibus with your presence! Where do you want me to take you?" he should say. In the same way, the priest should turn round, face the congregation, and ask them, "Where do you want me to take you?"

Loftus crash

Pre-Vatican II omnibus crash on Loftus Bank, Yorkshire

Or to put it another way, should a church be more like an omnibus, or a theatre? Do we go to church because we want to follow the priest towards God, or because we want him to entertain us?

Latin - Requiescat In Pace

One casus belli at the 2nd Vatican Council was which lingua franca we should adopt for masses de futuro. We had an in camera debate on this, and I saw that it was ipso facto necessary to lead the Catholic faithful into terra incognita. You may well say "De minimis non curat lex," but whoever heard of the plebs speaking Latin? After all, cui bono?, as I pointed out. This made me a persona non grata in some circles - I remember saying "Et, tu, Brute?" to the Pope himself - but "Carpe diem" is my motto, and muttering "Excelsior!" to myself, I went on to make a prima facie case for abolishing Latin, using a powerful reductio ad absurdum argument ad nauseam, namely, "Vox Populi, Vox Dei." Having won the debate, my only thoughts were "Labor omnia vincit." Well, "Veni, vidi, vici," and we may finally say, "Quod erat demonstrandum!"

Cave canem

We never sing "Cave canem" at Masses in my church

Significantly, Vatican II was an opportunity to give the liturgy a good shake-up. When people come to Confession with me, I no longer ask them to say five Hail Marys as a penance - no, they are told to sing "Shine, Jesus Shine" five times. They don't come back, I can tell you!

Giving a lead to the church

Although, nominally, the leader of the Catholic Church is now a young chap operating under the alias of Benedict XVI, I still see it as my role to direct the faithful away from the sort of fuddy-duddy traditionalism that might have appealed to my father's generation - people such as Augustine and Aquinas, that is. Vatican II was the New Pentecost - the time that the Holy Spirit settled on Basil Foltus and inspired him to lead the Church into pastures new.

The New Pentecost

The author (in striped dressing-gown) witnesses the New Pentecost

I am a strong believer in free speech, and you may have heard of my threats of legal action against Fr Michael Clifton and Fr Ray Blake - dreadful traditionalists clinging to outmoded beliefs. I simply wanted them to have their say, of course, and I thought that a court of law might be the best place for it. But, in general, the Catholic Church appreciates all that I have done for it, and I still receive tokens of esteem from grateful worshippers.

Sing, Lofty!

A gift from an anonymous admirer


  1. It is a shame he crossed the Rubicon and the Rubicon lost. Is he the same man I saw on TV talking about not talking about Evelyn Waugh? xx Jess

    1. Not sure, but he ain't no friend of Damain's.

      See also
      for a good luagh.

  2. Replies
    1. Fanks for de kind words, Jackie. You is obviously a saved pusson.

  3. Amazingly, as I discovered, Loftus Bank actually exists and is, indeed, in Yorkshire. Apparently it's a steep hill - about 12-15%. And there's a sign saying, ‘Loftus Welcomes Careful Drivers’. Well, isn't that nice of him. Nice to be so welcoming.