Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XI

An Irony of History

13 August 1977


This book is concerned primarily with the conflict and the negotiations between Mgr. Lefebvre and the Vatican, and not with the activities of the Society’s priests. I am making an exception in the case of Father Edward Black’s first public Mass in Edinburgh in view of the irony of its proximity to the canonization of St. John Ogilvie. My account of the Mass which follows appeared in the 31 August 1977 issue of The Remnant.


The Wheel Turns Full Circle

In 1976 Pope Paul VI canonized the Scottish martyr priest Saint John Ogilvie.His principal crime had been to travel around Scotland  offering the Mass of St. Pius V. This Mass was not permitted in any of the Scottish churches. Those who attended them took part in a vernacular service celebrated upon a table, a service from which every reference to sacrifice had been removed.

On Saturday, 13 August 1977, Father Edward Black, a young Scottish priest ordained at Ecône on 29 June this year, celebrated his first public Mass in the city of Edinburgh.

Like St. John Ogilvie, he had had to be trained and ordained abroad, and, like St. John Ogilvie, he could not celebrate Mass in a church because the Mass he was offering was according to the Missal of St. Pius V. In the Scottish Catholic churches now, this Mass is forbidden, and in its place is used a vernacular service from which, where Canon II is used, almost every reference to sacrifice has been removed, and altars have once more been replaced by tables. If the ghost of John Knox ever walks in Scotland, he must certainly be laughing!

The Mass itself was celebrated with great beauty and dignity - it was a Solemn High Mass with a young French priest and sub-deacon assisting Father Black. Those who know anything of Scottish history will have heard of the "Auld Alliance" between France and Scotland - history certainly repeated itself on 13 August. Apart from the fact that it had to be celebrated in an hotel, there was nothing to indicate that Scotland is in the throes of a second Reformation. The congregation was well balanced between young and old, the singing was enthusiastic, and there were several kilts in evidence. Father Black preached a fine sermon on the nature of the Mass, which he kept on a very positive note. This in itself provided a useful example for traditionalists to follow; far more will be gained by stressing the positive nature of what we believe and what we uphold than by sterile attacks on those who disagree with us.

At a luncheon in Father Black's honor, he paid tribute to his parents for the fine Catholic upbringing without which he would never have become a priest-and among the others he thanked he made special mention of Miss Mary Neilson, Secretary of the Scottish Una Voce, who had been instrumental in bringing him into contact with Archbishop Lefebvre, and had helped and encouraged him in many ways during his course in the seminary. Miss Neilson gave a short address in which she warned those present to regard any press reports concerning Mgr. Lefebvre with great suspicion. She said that he had explained that if he attempted to correct all the false reports appearing about him in the press he would do nothing else.

In a vote of thanks, Mgr. John McFadyen paid particular tribute to the chairman of Scottish Una Voce, Mr. William Burns, and stressed that the steady progress made by Scottish Una Voce was in no small measure due to his moderate and constructive leadership.

All in all, it was a most encouraging day and any non-traditionalist present would have been very favorably impressed – impressed by Father Black and the young French clerics, by the beauty of the liturgy, and by the relaxed and informal atmosphere at the luncheon. It is a pity that the editors of a number of so-called traditionalist journals circulation in the USA could not have been present. It might have helped them to see, if they have not passed beyond the stage where they can be helped, that is not necessarily those who scream the loudest and have the widest range of invective who serve the Church best. The lives of the British martyr priests tell the same story.


Chapter 10

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