The Marnau Petition of 1971

Petition text.

One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place. 

But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition in concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened. 

If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated—whatever their personal beliefs—who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility. 

Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year. 

We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts— not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.

In the materialistic and technocratic civilisation that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression— the word—it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of wordforms in one of their most grandiose manifestations. 

The signatories of this appeal, which is entirely ecumenical and non-political, have been drawn from every branch of modern culture in Europe and elsewhere. They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive, even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical forms.


Harold Acton, 
John Bayler, 
Lennox Berkeley, 
Maurice Bowra,
Agatha Christie, 
Kenneth Clark, 
Nevill Coghill, 
Cyril Connolly, 
Colin Davis, 
Hugh Delargy, 
+Robert Exeter, 
Miles Fitzalan- Howard, 
Constantine Fitzgibbon, 
William Glock, 
Magdalen Goffin, 
Robert Graves, 
Graham Greene, 
Ian Greenless, 
Joseph Grimond, 
Harman Grisewood, 
Colin Hardie, 
Rupert Hart-Davis, 
Barbara Hepworth, 
Auberon Herbert, 
John Jolliffe, 
David Jones,
Osbert Lancaster,
F.R. Leavis, 
Cecil Day Lewis, 
Compton Mackenzie, 
George Malcolm, 
Max Mallowan, 
Alfred Marnau, 
Yehudi Menuhin, 
Nancy Mitford, 
Raymond Mortimer,
Malcolm Muggeridge, 
Iris Murdoch, 
John Murray, 
Sean O’Faolain, 
E.J. Oliver, 
Oxford and Asquith, 
William Plomer, 
Kathleen Raine, 
William Rees-Mogg, 
Ralph Richardson, 
+John Ripon,
Charles Russell, 
Rivers Scott, 
Joan Sutherland, 
Philip Toynbee, 
Martin Turnell, 
Bernard Wall, 
Patrick Wall, 
E.I. Watkin, 
R.C. Zaehner.

The organisation of the petition is described here; the signatories are discussed here. See more about the involvement of Agatha Christie and Vladimir Ashkenazy, who was awarded the De Saventhem Medal for his role by the FIUV.

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