Rorate Caeli

A Paralyzed Church?

"What does the Pope do all day?", Alberto Melloni, the "progressive" Italian Church historian recently asked.

It seems to be a fairly common question these days, also in the mind of Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, one of the four Bishops consecrated for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX) by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and co-consecrated by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in 1988, in an interview with Stephen Heiner (read it here).

Amidst very stern words which cover the current pontificate, the Second Vatican Council, and the "Traditionalist question", Bishop Tissier de Mallerais reflects the malaise which grips the Catholic world: "... he has been the Pope for one year and he has done nothing!"

Update: I would just suggest this interesting article by our contributor Jacob Michael, especially on aspects of then-Professor Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity".

47 comments:

Tony La Rosa said...

It is astounding how the Holy Father, who knows well the traditionalist cause, has still done nothing for the good of Tradition after one year of holding the keys. We must continue to pray with fervor.

Jeff said...

I suppose if one lets out the least peep in response to the numerous wild accusations by this Excellency, one gets accused of being "hard" on the poor SSPXers.

The only solution I can see is to lift the excommunications and free the old Mass and let them rant away from within the "Conciliar Church" whether they like it or not.

His Excellency seems quite clear that negotiations which seek to draw them into the snare of "the Conciliar Church" are to be avoided like the plague.

"The bishops"--not just many bishops--have lost the Catholic faith. The Pope has made heretical statements, many, many of them, whole books full of them, and has never renounced them. He remains committed to terrible errors which cripple him.

Vatican Two isn't vague and ambiguous, as quite radical Traditionalists like Chris Ferrara would have it, it's simply unambiguous Modernism and must be rejected or at least forgotten.

And all these errors and heresies must be renounced, presumably before any "regularization" becomes possible. The thought initially that perhaps the next Pope or the next would be the one they want, but it seems the frustrating situation will go on seemingly forever (as, of course, it will.) So now, they're just planning to go soldiering on, carrying the burden of Truth by themselves, until one day a Miracle happens and out of all these bishops who have lost the Faith, one is elected who sees the light and excommunicates everyone but the SSPX.

No wonder they don't want anything to do with us, we're poison! But to suggest, to even HINT that there might be just the teeniest, weeniest little bit of a tendency toward schismatic thinking here is dreadful and hard.

No, thanks. I'll take the wonderful Pope Benedict (what a hideous scandal that I dare to defend him from attack) and good, faithful priests like the FSSP Father whose blog posts were featured here not so long ago over this self-satisfied, cocksure character any day. And Deo Gratias for their like.

S.H. said...

You might be overreacting and overreaching a "teensy, weensy" bit.

Take a look at some of the commentary that was put together for some honest and considered reaction from people who have had the text for over a week.

http://truerestoration.blogspot.com/2006/04/
responses-to-interview-with-his.html

sacerdos15 said...

He makes Archbishop Lebfevre seem moderate.The archbishop did sign the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the protocol.Why would the bishopd of the Society reject what Lef. had agreed to. Bishop Fellay says they dont want to be treated as a museum piece.But if they rant like this they will be treated as you would treat an odd uncle. Restore the Mass for the rest of us and let them yell and scream to themselves.

S.H. said...

without agreeing or disagreeing with His Lordship's remarks, I would just say that the Archbishop is not currently alive, and that the situation is now different from how it was in 1988 - a different Pope, and an even worse crisis...so to say that they should just do what he did - when he didn't even do that (he backed off the protocol 3 days after he signed it - and interestingly enough, the anniversary of that signing is next week) slightly misses the point...

Screwtape said...
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Al Trovato said...

Jeff,

Even though I disagree with a lot of you just said, you're always welcome here.

Tradgrind,

There is no need for that tone, and let me make something clear to you: for us, Benedict XVI is the Pope. As Bishop de Mallerais said: "he is the Pope and he has special graces"

Screwtape said...
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New Catholic said...

"Here I stand"...

This sounds more like Luther*, tradgrind...

Al is right, this tone is unnecessary.

*[Yes, yes, I know he really did not say that, but it suits him well.]

New Catholic said...

Jeff, regarding your points: I personally chose not to make great comments regarding this interview because:

(1) I did not have the time;

(2) it is an interview, after all, not an essay, so to present arguments and counter-arguments concerning many of the answers would be certainly incomplete;

(3) because I believe that many of what could be deemed "shocking" answers are born of the Bishop's frustration -- which is perfectly understandable: "My great surprise is that the crisis in the Church has been so long. We had prayed that the good Lord would send us a truly Catholic Pope, a holy Catholic Pope, just a few years after my consecration, and here we are, 19 years, and it is the same. It is a great disappointment. The crisis lags, and we have to continue to fight. That is the great difficulty – not for me, but for the faithful especially. The faithful have to be heartened, they must be encouraged not to be fatigued, to be tired. We must continue to fight."

Which is why I emphasized the paralysis in the pontificate. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has strong words, which, probably, accurately reflect what he thinks, but he just wants this emergency situation to end soon! Of course, your "only solution" makes perfect sense, but it has not happened up to now; the feeling of paralysis, especially for a man like the interviewee, a shepherd of souls, must be overwhelming.

Jon said...

NC,

You've forgotten your Macaulay.

I believe Tradgrind "And YOU shall not pass," had Horatius at the Gate not Luther Luther at Worms, in mind.

"Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods."

New Catholic said...

Yes, I am quite positive that he did not INTEND to sound like Luther... At the moment it left his pen (rather, keyboard), however, it was a free thought: he may not have noticed it, but it is a startling Lutheran sentiment, more startling exactly because Worms was not consciously in his mind!

Peter, not tradgrind, is Rome.

Jeff said...

New Catholic:

Please don't think my comment was directed at your choice to post. I think it's newsworthy and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it. Thanks.

Morever, there is some truth to the "frustration" angle. I think, though, that the accusations merited a response, that's all.

New Catholic said...

OK.

I do not PERSONALLY think the pontificate is "paralyzed", as my post on the "chronology of events" of a couple of weeks ago showed. Let us be patient...

Author said...

"What does the Pope do all day?"

He prays, he teaches, he consults with other bishops, he makes appointments and of course makes other decisions. What is odd is this notion that if the Pope isn't generating news or if the Pope hasn't publicly addressed the issue uppermost in a person's mind, the Pope has been doing nothing.

Screwtape said...
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New Catholic said...

Well, well, as always, you are welcome... But your "Here I stand" ["I can do no other"?] is here to stay. Seldom has a man's subconsciousness so promptly revealed itself in a blog's comment box...

David L Alexander said...

"... he has been the Pope for one year and he has done nothing!"

Maybe I don't come off as a brilliant intellect for saying this, but that is an awful thing to say, especially from one who is on the outside looking in.

You take over any large organization anywhere near the size of the Catholic Church, and it takes at least six months or more just to figure out the daily routine, who to trust, who not to turn your back on, and so on. Yes, he's been there awhile, but it's not the same as actually being in the big chair.

Any informed Catholic would know that one year with the Church is a speck of dust in the total scheme of things. Anyone who follows this papacy knows that Benedict has made reconciliation with the SSPX, and accomodation of those with like mind, a high priority -- higher, I daresay, than his predecessor.

That, and someone has to make sure the bills get paid.

David L Alexander said...

By the way, thanks for the poem about Horatius. He's one of my heroes.

Ephraem said...

Well he seems to be bringing some reality to the canonisation process. There's an interesting post on poor ol' Diogenes to that effect with a link to that canon law site.

The subtle sussurrations about the position ad orientem are going day by day. They have his buskin prints all over them.

Al Trovato said...

Mr. Alexander,

You said:

"Any informed Catholic would know that one year with the Church is a speck of dust in the total scheme of things."

One year maybe nothing for you, but there are other Catholics who are disappointed, and not all of them are "uninformed Catholics".

For instance, in a Washington Post article ("Pope's 1st Year Lacks An Ideological Edge"), Father John Neuhaus said:

"Among those who greatly admired Cardinal Ratzinger and were elated by his election as pope, there is a palpable uneasiness" (http://tinyurl.com/qtg6t)

Do you consider Father Neuhaus an '"uninformed Catholic"?

It's been an year and the Pope still hasn't "freed" the Mass. If he needs some help with that, he can go ahead and e-mail me, I'll be glad to write it up for him.

He could -- at least -- be nice to the poor "reform of the reform" folks and say an "ad orientem" Mass. Not that it would do me any good, but how hard could that be? At Saint Peter's, he doesn't even have to turn around, just set a Crucifix atop the Altar, PLEASE!

I don't know how much time you think he has, but do you think he has another 25 years in him?

He is wasting time, and we need results soon, we have been waiting for 40 years.

Daniel Pinheiro said...

In Saint Peter they already celebrate "ad orientem" Masses sometimes. I was there last Christmas and saw it. Even took a picture. Just a curiosity.

New Catholic said...

Tradgrind, you just never go away, do you? It is not the "stand", it is the "Here I stand" -- which, for a man with such a vastly superior bibliography and ocean-deep knowledge, is an expression I am quite sure you had heard.

You behave like a Lutheran, and you sound like Luther himself; you sit in judgment of the Church, of the Holy See, and of Peter. All your disturbed series of diverging mounds of irrelevant information -- irrelevant to the issues discussed -- cannot block the view of the monumental obnoxiousness that you are.

Don't you have a job to do or something?...

P.S. Your last comment was deleted (there is no "removed by the author" disclaimer, as you may notice...)

Francis Regis said...

But, Mr. Trovato, I thought the Holy Father has set up a crucifix and six candles again on the altar at St. Peter's? I know I've seen recent pictures with this- has anyone else- or am I wrong?

New Catholic said...

That is not an unusual arrangement at the main altar of Saint Peter's, the Altar of the Confessio, when Mass is not being celebrated.

David L Alexander said...

Al Trovato, thou hast writ:

"One year maybe nothing for you, but there are other Catholics who are disappointed, and not all of them are 'uninformed Catholics'."

They are uninformed if only to the extent that they forget that the Church thinks in the longer term. As to Father Neuhaus, it depends on the subject.

But back to this one. I'm disappointed too, but I'm not going to blame a pope because he hasn't set the world on fire in the first year! There were those who didn't think Pius X did enough to stop Modernism. After all, it's still here, isn't it?

I'm disappointed just thinkin' about it.

Athanasius said...

Mr. Alexander,

You said:

You take over any large organization anywhere near the size of the Catholic Church, and it takes at least six months or more just to figure out the daily routine, who to trust, who not to turn your back on, and so on. Yes, he's been there awhile, but it's not the same as actually being in the big chair.

Any informed Catholic would know that one year with the Church is a speck of dust in the total scheme of things.


The thing is, Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger was called in Italy "numero duo" for a good reason, he was the man organizing everything in the Vatican under John Paul II. He was the dean of the college of Cardinals. He was the member of numerous prominent positions, he had been in the Vatican for over 20 years! If he doesn't know how it works already, he is deaf and blind. Your argument would fly well with someone elected from Poland with no curial experience like Wojtyla, but Ratzinger was at the center of the Vatican stage for a long time. It does not take a man like that a year to figure out how everything works.

That being said, I do believe that Bishop Tissier was a little too hard on the Pope. He has made some accomplishments which were more significant than he thinks:

-ending the Assisi Franciscan's independence

-told Muslims they must stop encouraging terror

-calling the apostate Jesuits on the carpet publically a few times now, notably by forcing the resignation of the editor of "America"

-restoring Gregorian chant in the pontifical schola and minimizing Marini's influence in the Vatican.

-Announced publically that Jews need to convert.

However there is so much more that Benedict could have done, and most Vatican insiders are in agreement on that. He knows every major curial official and their opinions, he knows who he needs to get various jobs done. On top of that, here is a list of what Benedict has done that is seriously amiss:

-A solution to the indult problem is yet to materialize

-He is still going into synagogues

-The gay document produced is so full of loopholes as to render any positive enforcement ineffective.

-In his first encyclical Benedict came very close to denying the Catholic confessional state, which would be against the Syllabus and Quas Primas, and he spoke favorably about separation of Church and state.

-Key liberals in key positions are still there, even Marini whose influence has been reduced, is still hangng around the Vatican. He doesn't want to go anywhere and Benedict so far has been unwilling to command him.(!)

-Presided at a Synod on the Eucharist in October where more of the same old was discussed and the same failing ideas from the same stupid Cardinals held sway rather than being consigned to the dust bin.

All in all, I think we honestly can say Benedict has done nothing.

Ephraem said...

I have always thought that the name of the General Indult should be "Oriens ex alto.." Any other suggestions.

David L Alexander said...

Athanasius, thou too hast writ:

"The thing is, Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger was called in Italy 'numero duo' for a good reason... If he doesn't know how it works already, he is deaf and blind."

...and knowing all that is still not the same as being "numero UNO." For one thing, he gets to be infallible now. I'd say that raises the stakes a notch or two.

Athanasius said...

For one thing, he gets to be infallible now. I'd say that raises the stakes a notch or two.

No it doesn't. How could it? All that being infallable means is that he has protection from error. The Pope does not receive special inspiration. That would be contrary to Vatican I. In fact, it has little to no bearing on what is being discussed here, because the "nothing" to which Bishop Tissier is referring are juridical acts. Benedict XVI can fail miserably, or succeed royally in such acts.

So far he has failed to bring any serious reform of the Church, and his actions have suggested to us that he is still "stuck on stupid".

As for being Pope vs. head of the CDF, there is little practical difference in terms of learning the way around, learning the positions of various curial officials, finding out how things work etc. That argument would have fit the bill with JPII, but not with someone who has been in Rome 20+ years, was the dean of Cardinals and worked in constant collaboration with the Pope.

David L Alexander said...

Athanasius, thou hast writ:

"No it doesn't. How could it? All that being infallable means is that he has protection from error."

"Protection from error," however parsed or narrowly defined, is still a big jump from the rest of us.

"As for being Pope vs. head of the CDF, there is little practical difference in terms of learning the way around..."

I would dismiss that out of hand. There is nothing to take the place of sitting in the big chair. Ask anyone who ever has.

Someone, somewhere in the blogosphere, stressed the importance of time and deliberation, using Pius XII's Mediator Dei as an example. A brilliant and decisive document, which did little to stem the inevitable tide. Benedict has opted for a more patient approach, not out of reticence (as anyone following his movements can see), but with the knowledge that whatever he hopes to accomplish will be valued, inasmuch as it has the power to outlast him.

Which is worth considering when you suspect you don't have many years left.

Screwtape said...
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Screwtape said...
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Maldon said...

1. SSPX people are no different from anyone else. There are Catholics in there and there are protestants in there. They are individuals.

2. Sedevacantists are merely "High Church" protestants.

3. Good Bishop, what do you do all day long?

4. Lay catholics need to get focused and be more active. We need to spend more time brainstorming on how to promote traditional catholicism. I feel what Al feels, and I feel what Athanasius feels, but I want to see these heads get together and give me ideas to make this happen in my own parish.

5. By the way, when I say "catholics" I mean traditional catholics, of the type that would feel comfortable reading fisheaters.com or a similar site.

6. I too have waited and waited and waited, but waiting is not going to cut it, and disobedience and pride are not going to cut it either, so let's come up with something else, please.

Screwtape said...
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Screwtape said...

I notice that one of your commentators vilified Mr. Christopher Ferrara as a radical.

Mr. Ferrara is a very intelligent and astute writer, but that's not my point.

To call a Catholic a "radical" is in fact a compliment (at least among the literati).

The word is from Late Latin radicalis, meaning having roots and means arising from or going to a root source.

Mr. Ferrara is indeed a radical in the best sense of the word. As are those who write for the same publications to which he contributes.

Any soi-dissant Christian who is not a radical Catholic is involved in the most egregious and deadly-to-the-soul form of conradiction.

To use the words of a former president: those who permit themselves to become comfortable with contradictions are in deep doo doo - the deepest.

Screwtape said...

Maldon:

Please admit a clarification of definition.

I think you are confusing "protestants" with "recusants." There certainly are varying degrees of the latter in the SSPX, but there are none of the former. It is recusancy with a twist, since the original English recusants were objecting to Henry VIII and, later, Cranmer & Co. Ironically, the SSPX might more accurately be described as ultramontanist.

I think I know what you mean by "protestant", but it is a loaded word and more likely than not will lead to confusion. The SSPX mission or vocation, if you pefer, is to keep the Faith and keep it pure as it has been handed down to us.

The SSPX does not, as you know, accept the argument of sedevacantists, albeit there is sympathy with the position. Be that as it may, the sedevacantists are not protestant either, but super-recusant.

Lastly, while we are all vulnerable where pride is concerned, the matter of disobedience is a very complicated one (vide the writings of St. Robert Belarmine on the subject regarding papal obedience.

Maldon said...

Dear Samizdat,
I accept your clarification. I am certain history and St. Robert check out perfectly well. But my point about the statements being made by SSPX people and others associating themselves with the SSPX is that I do not think they can all be spoken of as a group, that Bishops Williamson, Fellay and Tissier do not seem to agree on fundamentals.

Second, you state the following: "The SSPX mission or vocation, if you pefer, is to keep the Faith and keep it pure as it has been handed down to us." And I agree, but of course every Puritan worth his salt would say the same, word for word. Note. I am not saying that the statement makes them protestants; I am saying it can be said by anyone.

Third, you have said: "The SSPX does not, as you know, accept the argument of sedevacantists, albeit there is sympathy with the position." Here is where I have a bone to pick, because if that attitude is okay, then it is okay for everyone in the Catholic Church to "have sympathy" with Bugnini and Martini. We Catholics have had some real dogs for popes in the past, and true Catholics have stuck with them and outlived them, and been burned for being papists even when the popes alive in their times did not seem to merit the loyalty. No. There is where I want to see the SSPX draw the line, and and affirm -as some certainly do- that we will accept the authority of the Pope and be branded papists, rather than follow our own wills and be labelled wise.

Every day I look for the universal indult or for the affirmation of the fact that there is no need for any indult. I repeat. I look at Rorate every day just to see if it is there. And the day it is there, I will drive the 60 miles to the nearest SSPX church.

As for obedience, I think it is a bad sign when it seems to be "complicated." It is not. You obey the rightful authority unto death. In this, perhaps the sedevacantists have one on the SSPX. For the sedevacantists deny that Pope Benedict XVI is the pope, and so they may argue against the need for obedience, wrong as they are. But once you admit that he is the Pope, you must obey. Ste-Therese de Lisieux did not want to write her memoirs, but she did, because, she says, "By simple obedience God is pleased best." Think of it. Every clown in Rome and every unhinged bishop in the world could (and does!) use your argument concerning how "complicated" obedience is to do exactly what the SSPX people condemn.

I think that if and when Traditional Catholics shake off the yoke of "complicated" disobedience they will begin to provide the leadership we need so badly in the Church.

I think Archbishop Lefebvre would have acted differently, were he alive today.

Screwtape said...

maldon:

First, while members of the SSPX can vary in their understanding in and intensity of acceptance of the Society's position, my experience with them is that they are certainly well-enough, and carefully enough, instructed in the Sermons of the Mass that there is no excuse for non-unanimity.

Second, the bishops you cited do most certainly agree on all fundamentals. It is just that the style of their expression varies considerably, with Bishop Williamson being the smartest of the three and the most outspoken.

Thirdly, the fact is that the SSPX does indeed keep the Faith of the Ages. Puritans might claim the same, but they cannot demonstrate it. The SSPX, if you will read their literature, can most assuredly make the claim with all truth.

Fourthly, the SSPX has in no uncertain terms condemned sedevacantism. Their "sympathy" is directed toward the pain they feel and the dilemma in which they find themselves. It has nothing to do with accepting their position vis-à-vis the papacy. In each and every Mass the priest conducts a prayer for the Pope.

As a side note: as Atila Sinke Guimarãres has obseved, sedevacantism has never been officially defined. Today, alas, it is used, more often than not, as a hate word to halt argumentation.

As for obedience, the SSPX teaches that we obey the Pope, because he is the Holy Father, in all that he says and does that is not in contradiction with the Church of the Ages. When Ratzinger announced that the Council Vatican II constituted a "counter-syllabus," for example, he was directly contradicting not only one of the more important of Papal declarations, but those of a Pope who is also Canonized. A Pope that led what is probably the most important Council in the history of the Church - the Council of Trent. If you read Robert Belarmine on the subject, plus many other authoritative voices, you will find that not only is disobedience to wayward Dogma permitted, but that it is a duty bearing upon our very salvation. What we cannot do, is declare that any Pope is a formal heretic. But we can note the things he says and does that constitute material heresy, such as the doings of JP II at Assisi in 1986.

As further reading, may I suggest you obtain a copy of Archbishop Lefebfre's book title "A Letter to Confused Catholics."

I would add that in general the praxis of ecumenism per se constitutes the heresy of indifferentism, or, to use the technical term, apocatastisis, which was condemned in no uncertain terms by another Sainted Pope, Pius X. It was taught by two pariti of the Council, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henri du Lubac and picked up with a vengeance by the recent Pope. He openly admired the writings of both "theologians and made both Cardinals. The present Occupant of the Throne endorses the practice as well as the entire council.

Also condemnned until the recent Council was the "religious freedom" (Dignitatis Humani) now so actively pursued that the doctrine of Christ the King has been for all intents and purposes abrogated. That is another heresy.

In short, one cannot violate the principle of non-contradiction, first articulated by Aristotle, and still remain faithful to the Church of Two Thousand Years and the Conciliar Church.

Unless you wish to be involved in intellectual fraud, you must choose one or the other when they conflict, as they most assuredly do.

Simon-Peter said...
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Screwtape said...

simon-peter (?)

(well we're in Heaven aren't we! - la di da, why not be done with it and just call yourself God!)

As for your brief statement:

"You can say that Maddie; I couldn't possibly comment."

Maldon said...

Thank you for your comment Simon-Peter. Well said indeed, including the part related to my time-wasting and whining.
When are you going to start blogging?

Simon-Peter said...
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Screwtape said...

As Maxwell Smart used to say: "sorry about that, chief!" Simon-Peter is your real name, eh.? Then it was your parents who were advertising their humility.

Oh, I believe Maldon knows what irony is - his was very clear. Your mother must have been frightened by Henry James.

Irony is TOO a hard ferrous substance, all you have to do is take the "r" out; then it becomes ferous, as in savage, wild. See Dean Swift. ''

Come to think of it, it CAN also come with a valence of two (2) so maybe we'd better put that "r" back. See Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The GULAG ARCHIPELAGO is full of that kind of irony. I'd surely like to be there when you try to tell HIM he doesn't know the meaning of irony.

Don't look now Maldon, but our Saint HAS started blogging. What you've seen is all there is. There ain't no more. Or, if there is, it's likely to get worse. He doesn't need encouragement, but what he gets he'll use.

Simon-Peter said...
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Screwtape said...

Actually, Simon, I thought we were back in the realm of irony again.

I think the name Simon-Peter somewhat contradictory inasmuch as after Our Lord had changed the name to Peter, He only used the Simon monicker to punish poor Peter for some misdoing. He isn't Saint Simon, just Saint Peter.

If your diocese is Novus Ordo maybe neither Simon nor Peter is sufficient.

Too bad you don't like Henry James. His later style can be abominable - I defy anyone to tell me what the first chapter of Wings of the Dove is about.

That having been said, I invite you to read his short stories, especially: Death of the Lion; The Real Thing; and, most especially, The Beast in the Jungle. The Jolly Corner is a nifty "device," but so much in his later style that most readers who attempt it won't finish. The novel Portrait of a Lady is worth its weight in A Golden Bowl.

For the record: it would never be my intention or practice to insult one's mother. I was making use of a cliché phrase that is virtually universally employed.

Simon-Peter said...

this author has been removed.