V II, Mice, Top Cat
I read around various posts more or less based on the fact that the degeneration (in all possible meanings) of the Church in the last 50 years is not (necessarily) due to V II, but to the changing times and the particularly hard challenges that came with it.
One would be tempted to say “yes and no” but, really, I think the answer is “no”.
Clearly, the world emerged from WWII posed great challenges to the Church. An explosion of unprecedented welfare challenged the traditional basis of society, based on charity and hope rather than on social services and long life expectancy. On the other hand, another unprecedented phenomenon took place: an entire generation grew up with a degree of instruction – at least in the traditional way instruction is measured – vastly superior to that of their parents, and as a result felt authorised to challenge their parent’s teaching in matter of religion in the same way as they challenged them in the many little ways in which a better educated person can show the less educated the error of his way. In societies traditionally based on transmission of traditional values – among which the obedience to the parents, and the awe in front of the wisdom of the elder were paramount – this had to become a powerful threat to traditional religious wisdom.
But this is only one part of the equation and is a bit – leaving political correctness aside, which I love doing – like saying that the explosion of obesity is due to the expansion of McDonald’s. With all due respect, McDonald’s never made fat anyone; fat people make themselves fat. Similarly, cars and wealth never stabbed the Church; the Church stabbed herself.
The difference between good and bad Popes, bishops and priests is not in whether they have challenges. Of course they will. The difference is seen in how they react to them. As long as he was alive (and particularly so, when he was healthy), Pope Pius XII had the situation fully under control. He could not make a trial to intentions of course, and the voices of ferments and strange thinking coming to him from various corners could not be fought more energetically than he did, considering they did not come out in the open, challenging the status quo.
But the corpse of the great Pope was, metaphorically speaking, not entirely cold that great “changes” were already planned, and clearly the modernists saw their hour coming. Still, they are not the primary cause of the mess. They were there before. The primary cause of the mess is in the people who allowed them to come out with their own subversive ideas (less so during the council; much more so after it) and these people are mainly two: Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Blaming the heretics for their undisturbed march is like blaming the mice for the infestation. I’d give a hard look at the cat.
I also know – from unimpeachable testimony of many relatives – that the Italy of the Fifties, growing in prosperity like it’s going out of fashion, also experienced a great rigidity in matter of mores, actually a much bigger rigidity than the one commonly experienced during Fascism. This is further proof growing economic security does not have to translate into moral relaxation, if there are at the helm people strong enough to understand the times and act accordingly.
The great tragedy – and unredeemable construction fault – of Vatican II consists in exactly this: that, having seen the evil coming from the new times, it chose to embrace them, in the very stupid assumption that to embrace the world means to make it more like you, whereas at the very moment they decided themselves for the embrace they had already decided they wanted to become like it.
All the tragedies that ensued derived from this fundamental initial mistake: the liturgical and spiritual atrocities of the “spirit of V II” would have never had a chance, if it had not been absolutely truethat VII ushered a spirit - not necessarily and not so openly in the official documents, mind; but in the air these documents allowed, nay, demanded to breathe – of revolutionary change. Without this “encouragement”, the “spirit of V II” would have had no more chances of sweeping the Catholic world than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
V II and its aftermath both happened, because they were wanted and the idea of the “spirit” of V II suddenly appearing as if brought by the stork and surprising everyone is naive to the utmost. Ex nihilo nihil.
It is, therefore, clear the societal changes did pose a problem and, admittedly, a rather large one. But the great damage was not made by the problem, but by the Vatican not only ceasing to fight against the problem, but becoming part of it. Think of the cat selling out and declaring that from now on there will be no enmity between the mice and him.
Fifty years later the mice are everywhere, but astonishingly so many people keep saying the cat was misunderstood, or is surrounded by wolves, or must be oh so prudent because if he angers the mice there might be… an infestation.
Unfortunately, there is no brilliant mind out there able to act in an effective, practical way. Not only there is no “Top Cat” in sight, but if we stay to the practical decisions we are very far even from the passion and zeal of Sylvester The Cat.
It will change one day of course, as we know the Gates of Hell will not prevail.
But I’d prepare myself for a long wait.