The French episcopal Conference is slowly awakening to the fact that their cowardice, lack of Catholic orthodoxy and outright incompetence is rapidly leading to the quasi-extinction of the Church in France. I mean, they are aware of the impending quasi-extinction, though I doubt they are aware of their own cowardice, lack of Catholic orthodoxy and sheer incompetence.
Rorate Caeli now informs us the geniuses have put their brains together and have ordered an enquiry, whose results have now been published.
You can follow the link and read the war bulletin (and a sad one it is; though deservedly so) for yourself. I would like to point out to the following:
1) The number of seminarians is even lower than in JP II times, and it is at an all-time low since the French Revolution. We see here the wonderful fruits of Vatican II, and the positive effects on a revitalised Church of the energetic measures adopted by Pope Benedict XVI to renew the French church, kick out the jokes a’ la Nourrichard, enforce a strict application of Summorum Pontificum, and the like.
2) 5% of the French churchgoers (those who can be defined as “traditionalists”) produce 15% of the seminarians. As it is more than reasonable to assume that this 5% are actually within their family 1oo% weekly churchgoers as oppose to less than 20% weekly churchgoers among the V II Catholics, the statistics can be read in a different way: that 5% of this – optimistically speaking: 20% ; I am rather sure the actual percentage is less – produces 15% of all vocations. That is: 1% of French Catholics produces 15% of the vocations.
Now, if one has a modicum of brains – one doesn’t need much; just a bit more than a moron’s allotment – the conclusion lies rather near that the traditional Mass attracts that kind of Catholics the Church in France needs: orthodox, and constituting a fertile humus for vocations.
The problem is, our French bishops either do not reach the modicum of brains described above – which I doubt – or more probably prefer not to look at reality in the eyes; because to do so would prove, in their own eyes, what dismal failures they have all been and to what extent they have betrayed, sold, prostituted Catholicism in their own land.
Therefore, expect no earthquake from the conclusion of the enquiries. There will be some tired blabla (the contemporary Church hierarchy is always good for some blabla, particularly when it is uncontroversial and sprinkled with feel-good slogans), at the end of which the Church in France will continue to work tirelessly at her own destruction blaming, as always, the bad bad consumerism dominated world outside, the ruthlessness of Capitalism, the unwilligness of people to work together for peaaace and, of course, global warming.
Frankly, I have given up hope the current Pope has the gut to put an end to this. He will oversee the further decomposition of the Church in France – as he has done these, now, seven years – limiting himself to send some little, ineffective, unheeded signal every now and then whilst being conscious the local hierarchy continue to do exactly as they please.
It is, truly, time to understand words are not enough, and the clock is ticking.
The news about the extraordinary interview given from the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Policarpo, has already gone around the internet for a couple of days. The news was, I must admit, too incredible to dedicate to it a blog post until further news from a reliable source are available.
Now Rorate Caeli publishes an ample excerpt of his interview. I allow myself to mention here some of the more enlightening parts.
It was not by fortune that Jesus chose men to be apostles and gave women another kind of attention… [sic]
“Another kind of attention”. This is, I have to say, more than vaguely creepy. It sounds as if the Cardinal had given the interview after a good meal, with good wine and a glass of port, or three. Very unfortunate choice of words, for sure.
Once I was here in the Diocese and, when we had a discussion, there was a young women who asked the question: why can’t women be priests? And I decided to risk it. I said: you are right, but, in order that others study this matter, it is necessary to know if there are candidates…[sic]
Besides the extreme lack of intelligence of the argumentation – “would you want to do it?” is certainly not a logical argument; I mean, in Kindergarten perhaps, followed by “nananananananaaa”, but not between adults; and yes, the deluded candidates for such “jobs” are not missing, for sure – the Cardinal dares to answer to the feminists: “you are right”.
This is a man whose tongue is not properly under control, or not well-connected with his brains.
All kept their heads down.
Good Lord. That’s the argument! The women kept their heads down! Even if he had just said that ….. they were right! What a formidable debater we have here. A true Prince of the Church.
Once, in the context of an international meeting on the new evangelization, in Vienna, this question was posed, and I said that there is not, at this moment, any Pope who has the power to do that.
This calls for a tranquilliser. Let us repeat this verbatim: “There is not, at the moment, any Pope who…..”. Is the good Cardinal looking for a suitable one? Has he already advertised to fill the vacancy? “Pope sought. Power to ordain women is an absolute requirement. Send your CV to Card. Policarpo, Lisbon.” Or should there, in fact, be one, but he has missed the train and couldn’t make it to the ordination of priestesses? Or is the good Cardinal waiting for a new Pope from Mars, who will be able to do it? Questions, questions……
You gotta love that Port wine, though.
It goes on.
This would create tensions, and it will happen only when God wants it to happen and, if it is in His plans, it will happen
Ah, now we know it! Male priesthood is not a matter of infallible (in-fal-li-ble; I-N-F-A-L-L-I-B-L-E) Ordinary and universal Magisterium. It is something that God might simply change! God changes His mind pretty regularly, didn’t you know? Just as the Twelve Commandment became Ten and the Sixteen Apostles (at least two of them, very probably, women; we don’t know for certain) were reduced to Twelve we might, one day, have women priests! Simples! Be patient though, will you?
Yes, you know what I’m thinking….
It goes on.
The Holy Father John Paul II, at one point, seemed to settle the matter. I believe that the matter is not settled like this; theologically, there is no fundamental obstacle; there is this tradition, let us say it this way… [sic] it was never different. (Emphases mine)
(Your humble correspondent stops here, because he feels unable to keep composure and write about the matter in a way acceptable for polite ears).
(Well, Wimbledon is good to calm yourself down. Now, where was I….)
Note the words. Pope John Paul “seemed to settle the matter”, but then he apparently forgot to. Or Cardinal Policarpo was just not there. Or he just can’t read. Apparently, then, according to our hero “there is no theological obstacle”. It’s not a theological matter, you know. It’s just that, hey, it just happened to never be otherwise. As they say, “shit happens”! But you never know, one day the Vatican might find a letter from Heaven saying to do it differently! It has happened already, don’t ya know? It’s called the “Ordinary, Universal and Disposable Magisterium”. Yes, a bit like Kleenex. We love that thing here in Lisbon! We use it all the time! No, not the Kleenex…
At this point, I do not even think that Port wine can do this. Not the one I know, at least, unless Portuguese Cardinals have access to some very, very strong stuff.
It goes on….
The problem is on another level, in a strong tradition, which comes from Jesus, and in the ease with which the reformed churches went that way. This did not make the solution of the problem any easier, if this problem has a solution.
So, you know what the Cardinal thinks it has happened? Jesus has created a problem! Instead of doing Cardinal Policarpo the favour of having a couple of token women as every serious, “equality sensitive” multinational would do, he just goes on stubbornly appointing an all-male, chauvinistic team; one where women can’t even find a place as reserves to be inserted in the last fifteen minutes, when you’re winning 3-0 and are playing 11 against 10. Oh well, it is what it is, we’ll have to live with the problem now…. And look, Jesus, we look even worse now, because the Protestant teams ( I’ll call them “churches”, of course; “reformed churches”. I know it sounds heretical, but hey, we can’t say “there’s only one Church”, right?) have inserted women in their teams with such… ease! Good Satan, this is embarrassing! What do we say to the customers now! This is going to give us a serious marketing problem! We need to change the product, Jesus; we truly do!
And now, dear readers, is the time for some serious, sad reflection.
The hypothesis that the Cardinal might have drunk too much, and might have lost control during the interview, is in my eyes not entirely unfounded. If you read the interview, he loses his thread several times, once at the very beginning; he sounds confused and creepy; he seems not to reflect on the huge heresies he goes on spitting. In short, he looks like one surprised at a very bad time, and who didn’t have the presence of spirit to call it a headache and leave the thing for another day. It happens more often than you think, Ken Livingstone is just the last example.
This would be the charitable explanation. Let me stress this: the charitable one; the one which considers human frailties; the one which tries to discount the open heresy and to find an explanation for his inexplicable words, a halfway understandable excuse for his inexcusable blabber.
On the other hand – and sad as it is to have to say so – Rorate Caeli informs us that this is the same man who has overseen the Portuguese church in a time of legalisation of abortion on demand and of same sex marriages without opposing more than some obligatory meowing; the one who has presided over a collapse of church attendance but is still the owner of the very telling privilege of presiding over the only capital in Europe still without a Tridentine Mass.
A coincidence is a coincidence, but….. you know the rest…
Once again, this shows that the Liturgy is so closely intertwined with the theology, that you can’t separate the two. Where you have bad liturgy, this will create bad theology. Where you have stubborn opposition to Catholic liturgical orthodoxy, you will have the ideal ground for the spreading of heresy.
The Liturgy is the Church. When you use violence to the Liturgy, you use violence to the Church. The rest follows automatically.
I truly hope that in the next days the Cardinal will offer to the press a strong refutation of his words. But as this has not yet been the case, I can’t imagine that there is a realistic chance for this and that we must face the reality of an openly heretical Cardinal. Nothing new under the sun of course, but sad nevertheless.
Therefore, unless this man was “tired and emotional” at the moment of giving the interview, the only possible conclusion is that the Patriarch of Lisbon is openly heretical, and has the gut to clearly and openly defy the Pope’s and the Church’s authority in matters clearly pertaining to the Ordinary and universal Magisterium.
When such a challenge to the Church’s teaching authority is moved, and from such an elevated position, it is the duty of the Pope to correct, admonish and if necessary punish the person responsible.
If the Pope lets this provocation pass without correction, his authority and prestige will be irrevocably damaged and after the Patriarch of Lisbon, other heretical senior churchmen will come out of the wood and start expressing their more or less veiled approval for heretical theories. This must be stopped now, as it has already gone far enough.
The days of the Popes who limit themselves to administer some nice words of guidance and counselling should have ended long ago. As Romano Amerio beautifully pointed out, the role of the Pope has traditionally been one of both direction and prescription. If the Holy Father only focuses on the first aspect and neglects the second, heresy, anarchy and schism will be the result. It will be Pope Paul VI all over again!
The Cardinal needs our prayer. But just as surely, he needs to be kicked out, sharpish. There can be no excuse, no reason of opportunity, no fear of schism that can justify the permanence of such openly heretical cardinal at his place. Souls are at stake. Those who have the duty to act will have to anwer for these souls.
The place where to address your righteous indignation are as follows:
Congregation for the Clergy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation for Bishops: Palazzo della Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10, 00193 Roma, Italy (email address not found)
Holy Father: email@example.com
Please try to be much more moderate than I was here. There’s a time for the sword and a time for the floret. You’ll be addressing Princes of the Church or even – at least officially – the Holy Father himself. I’ll do it as soon as I can.
Frankly, at the moment I can’t.
The Italian blog Messa In Latino – which had published the original rumour – today informs us that Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a document outlining the proposal of an Ordinariate for the FSSPX and other traditionalist groups.
Messa In Latino confirms that such a solution has been (tentatively) outlined to the FSSPX. The explanations given by the blog as to how reconcile this with Fellay’s words are as follows:
1) Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a “concrete project” (say: a definitive document of proposal), not the existence of a verbal, in principle proposal to proceed in this way.
2) It would appear that the announcement has caused some discontent within the FSSPX, with the least moderate part predictably opposed to any solution which doesn’t represent a complete backpedaling from Rome.
3) It would appear possible that in light of this situation, Fellay himself may have wished the postponement of the official proposal to a later time, in the meantime hoping to consolidate the approval for such a solution.
4) The proposed Assisi meeting in October is not going to make things easier; again, this might speak for an official proposal after the sandstorm to be caused by the Assisi gathering has settled.
It all makes much sense to me and I do not think that the Italian translation will reveal fundamental changes. Whilst it is predictable that the intransigent fraction will not be happy with the solution, I frankly can’t see why the vast part of the SSPX clergy should refuse it, provided that the ability for the SSPX to continue to operate in complete autonomy (which means: to continue to criticise V II documents ad libitum) would not be compromised. It is not that Lefebvre was any softer regarding V II before his excommunication, so there is no need to fear that return to full communion will mean the necessity to accept the V II documents as pure gold.
What is important to notice is that Messa In Latino boldly confirms the rumours. In this respect, the presence of a written document is in my eyes not really decisive, as after so many years of disagreements there is no real hurry and the idea of waiting until, say, Advent does make sense.
I will keep you posted if further news appear.
I have written two days ago about the interviews of Mgr Pozzo and Bishop Fellay.
As you can read here, my impression was that the distance between the two sides was greatly reduced and that particularly Fellay seemed to indicate that now only a decision from the Vatican was waited for, though I thought that the Vatican would prefer to wait for the funeral of the V-II generation before taking action.
If the generally very well informed Messa In Latino blog is right, this might not be the case.
First the text in Italian:
Il Papa sta per proporre a mons. Fellay la costituzione di un Ordinariato, per regolarizzare la situazione della FSSPX e delle sue comunità alleate, lasciandogli la piena (e indispensabile, visti certi epìscopi in circolazione) autonomia nei confronti dei vescovi diocesani. Alcuni membri di una comunità Ecclesia Dei hanno potuto precisare che questa proposta canonica sarà fatta nel corso del presente mese di giugno a mons. Fellay.
My unworthy translation:
The Pope is going to propose to Mons. Fellay the constitution of an Ordinariate to regolarise the situation of the FSSPX and of the communities allied to it, by leaving to the SPPX the full (and, given certain bishops going around, indispensable) autonomy towards the diocesan bishops. Some members of an Ecclesia Dei community were in a position to confirm that this canonical proposal will be made to Mons. Fellay during the present month of June.
If confirmed, this would be huge. It would mean that in one fell swoop not only the FSSPX would be given full communion again, but there would be a ready platform for all those desirous to attend Mass, and to live the Church, in the old way.
Again a commentary of Messa In Latino:
E’ una soluzione win-win, in cui tutti avrebbero moltissimo da guadagnare: da un lato Roma ricucirebbe una dolorosa rottura e troverebbe truppe fresche e determinate per condurre la battaglia del recupero di quanto gli ultimi decenni hanno dissipato; dall’altro la FSSPX si laverebbe dello stigma di ribellione e di ‘scisma’, potendo così svolgere un apostolato ben più efficace e senza subire i mille pregiudizi che l’accompagnano nella mente del cattolico medio, pur conservando appieno l’attuale libertà di movimento e di azione.
Again, my unworthy translation:
This is a win-win situation, by which everyone would have an awful lot to gain: on the one hand, Rome would heal a painful fracture and would find fresh and determined troops to carry the battle of the recovery of what the last decades have squandered; on the other hand, the FSSPX would wash itself from the stigma of rebellion and “scism”, thus being able to carry on a much more effective apostolate, without having to suffer the thousand prejudices associated to it in the mind of the average Catholic, but still keeping the actual freedom of movement and action in full.
If confirmed, this would be in my eyes as big as Summorum Pontificum.
Please, Please God make this come true…
Below are some of the comments in the comment box of the National Catholic Reporter. Let us see what kind of deluded humanity we find there.
There is the one who has decided that 2000 years of Tradition are just wrong, whereas he himself is, of course, right:
The whole system of leadership appointment needs change and should come from the bottom up not the top down.
Then there is the one who doesn’t need the Church, because the Church doesn’t serve him and doesn’t accommodate his needs:
I answer to God not to any priest, bishop, or pope. I find less need everyday for a non-responsive, self-serving hierarchy.
Interesting is also the one who thinks that God himself has been conned these last 2000 years. Thankfully, we now have him to tell us what God always wanted:
The “Way” that Jesus showed us and invited us to follow had no hierarchs, not even the Temple priests
Amuse yourself with the one who says himself a Catholic, whilst also saying that being Catholic is bad (hey, his ex-Lutheran wife, but rather still Lutheran wife, “taught” him so). One wonders who has converted whom:
I was raised as a Catholic (Big C) and married a Lutheran, who converted to the big C. She has taught me that the word ‘catholic’ should never have the big C. The day we accept that we are catholic, and not Roman Catholic, we will all be better off.
Or do you prefer the obsessed trendy with nightmares of Trent restoration:
Benedict is doing a more disgusting job than John Paul II in trying to drag Catholics back to Trent.
What about the Pentecostal “the Holy Spirit directs us” chap, who at the same time is obviously not directed by the Holy Spirit to write in proper English (emphases mine):
Since Vatican Council II—the People of God have implemented what the Council was directing them to do. It was JP II (the Grate) and Benedict the Panzar Pope, who were/are trying to drag people back to where THEY were comfortable—a Church of subserviant people—who are “little people, simple (read stupid) who need their bishops to point out the way for them (this is a synopsis of Benedict’s thoughts)
Finally, there’s the anarchist revolutionary, believing in Revelation through the Internet. Unfortunately he misses the signs of the times, big time. He also seems to believe that higher education is a modern invention:
When all is said and done, I think point #4 in your critique is the bedrock of the revolution that is now happening in the modern church. The current so-called leaders are still living in the ages where only members of the clergy could read and only members of the hierarchy could make spiritual decisions. Now, in the modern age, vast numbers of people are thinking for themselves because of the effects of institutions of higher learning and the availability of research and documentation.
This is just the result of a couple of minutes of browsing, and all the comments are taken from merely two blog posts.
You’d never say this come from the site of a magazine calling itself “Catholic”.
Rorate Caeli has a very interesting double post, in which a recent interview of Bishop Fellay is linked to an interview given by Mgr Pozzo of Ecclesia Dei. Both interviews contain what in my eyes are very interesting points.
Looking first at the interview with Pozzo, there is an expression that will probably make some waves (emphasis mine):
It does not seem conceivable that a call into question of the Second Vatican Council may happen. Therefore, where do these discussions might lead? To a better understanding of this?
Mgr Pozzo’s Answer:
They concern a clarification of points that detail the exact meaning of the teaching of the Council. It is what the Holy Father started to do on December 22, 2005, by interpreting the Council within a hermeneutic of renewal in continuity. Nevertheless, there are certain objections of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X that do make sense, because there has been an interpretation of rupture. The goal is to show that it is necessary to interpret the Council in the continuity of the Tradition of the Church.
Note that Mgr Pozzo says that SSPX and CDF are working together at seeing whether a shared understanding of V II can be achieved. It will not be a dismissal of V II as a cretinous thing to do in itself (shame, ndr), but it might lead to the same thing, that is: the rigorous exam of V II so that every interpretation not in rigorous continuity with the pre-V II Church is clearly and unequivocally rejected. This would lead, in a word, not to a formal dismissal of the V II documents, but to their thorough re-interpretation in light of Catholic orthodoxy. Basically, it means exposing all their shortcomings, misleading formulations and wrong interpretations by still saying that, apart from the shortcomings and the misleading formulations, they were never meant to be interpreted wrongly in the first place.
This seems to me a clear indication that the distances are reducing, as the explicit words of Mgr Pozzo about the SSPX’s objections “making sense” further underscore. In a situation where no word is said casually, I think this is worth noticing.
Even more worth noticing is the interview given some days ago by Bishop Fellay, which Rorate Caeli reports under the same link. Fellay allows himself very interesting words (emphasis mine):
I believe that, at some level, the Good Lord linked us with this crisis, because we work for the restoration of the Church, but this may still last for a decade, maybe two. It is necessary to have lots of courage and perseverance. This can be resolved tomorrow, this may be resolved the day after tomorrow. All is in the hands of the Good Lord.
Unless I am totally mistaken, there are two important points here:
1) Fellay sees something like one or two papacies as the maximum wait before a full reconciliation. He talks like one who can see from the development of the talks that time is on his side. Basically, he seems to imply that there are some toads that have been clearly recognised, but that the Vatican will not be ready to swallow until the Council has been pushed further into a historic (and less emotional) dimension and the generation who has lived it has proceeded to – hopefully – greener pastures.
2) The first point seems to me further stressed by the revealing words that I have emphasised. I do not know about you, but to me these words seem an extremely emphatic assertion that the distance has now become very small, and the Vatican must decide not the if, but merely the when of the formal steps leading to a full reconciliation. At any rate, I can’t imagine Fellay using such words unless he is persuaded that every big obstacle has been removed from the way.
Not for the first time, I get the impression that the only thing now necessary before the SSPX is in full communion again is the death of the generation who has lived the Second Vatican Council, and the possibility to put things straight from a more relaxed, less controversial historical perspective.
First of all, let me get my letters right….. just wait a moment while I google…… vediamo un po’……. aaaah, ecco qua! ……. EMHC, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion! [but also: Emergency Mobile Health Care, Eynsford Model Helicopter Club and Helmhurst Memorial HealthCare (Illinois), says google..... why are you Anglo-Saxons so obsessed with abbreviations ?!].
Now that we have the right definition of the “eucharistic ministers” (vulgo: wannabe priests/esses), we can start talking seriously about their complete uselessness. The latter is amply clear from the following:
1) The Church has worked rather successfully for, let me see, about two thousand years without, erm, EMHCs. I myself became forty without even knowing of their existence, and without even suspecting it; and I could still call several hundreds masses as witnesses of my opinion. You stop attending for a couple of decades, and very strange things happen….
2) At least here in the United Kingdom I have never seen a (oh dear…) EMHC (vulgo: wannabe priest/ess) who really was of any use. They simply stand there and look at the people…….. queuing to receive from the priest. It is very amusing to observe the expression they take: feigning dignity and importance whilst, no doubt, feeling utterly stupid. As they well should.
3) I have heard that (let me look again….) EMHCs would be necessary to avoid long queues. This is complete nonsense. Firstly, modern church attendance is such that communion is made in a handful of minutes most of the times, and this particularly in those churches who choose to have such helpers. Secondly, even in case of copious attendance I can’t imagine communion distribution to go on for more than, say, fifteen minutes at the longest. Thirdly, the very few people who approach the wannabe priest (out of pity, I suppose) very often do so after they have received communion from the priest, that is: merely in order to receive under both species; the time saving is, therefore, simply not there. Fourthly, do you think that in the past two thousand years mass attendance was scarce, but it exploded after V II? Thought not…
4) The eucharistic minister confuses the faithful. If they are travelling, they might think that they have mistakenly entered an Anglican church (easier than you’d think: some of them carry the inscription “Catholic church” and are decorated in a more Catholic way than many Catholic churches…..). The more so, if following things happen: a) tabernacle not in sight; b) no altar railings; c) priest strangely dressed; d) naked altar. In my experience, the presence of wannabe priests/esses makes some or all of these elements rather probable.
5) The wannabe priest is, more often than not, a wannabe priestess. That’s all you need to know, really.
From the anecdotal evidence of my own attendance at such masses, I give to this strange flowering of V II (that is: originally a liturgical abuse originated by V II-thinking; not even the “conciliar fathers” had arrived as far as that….) another fifteen years, maximum twenty.
I might be wrong. Still, don’t bet your pint that I am: look at how much has happened in six short years of B XVI pontificate, and prepare to say hello to the (moment, please… ) EMHCs.
They won’t be missed.
From the reader “Knight of Malta” on Rorate Caeli. Too beautiful to ignore…
Rather astonishing remarks from the Holy Father during his address to the participants at the Conference for the 50th anniversary of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. Let us read the piece in the translation of Rorate Caeli (emphases mine):
The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond this same “conciliar reform” (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1), whose purpose, in fact, was not mainly that of changing the rites and the texts, but rather that of renewing the mentality and placing, at the center of Christian life and of pastoral [activity], the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Unfortunately, perhaps, even by us, Pastors and experts, the Liturgy was treated more as an object to be reformed than as a subject, capable of renewing Christian life,
This is astonishing. Totally en passant, Pope Benedict informs us that V II was not about reforming the liturgy, but about an extremely and conveniently vague “renewal of the mentality”, and (incredibly) about placing the Eucharist at the centre of Christian Life.
It is as if the Holy Father would, with just a few chosen words, demolish the entire edifice of Vatican II by just saying that its value is not in what it was done, but rather to be sought in an extremely undefinable “renewal” which, when you take away the renewal effectively put in place (that is: the rape of the Liturgy, and the departure from staunch defence of Catholic values), means everything and nothing.
The second point is, in his well-meant attempt to hide the shame of Vatican II – rather offensive of the pre-conciliar Church. This idea that the extremely strong and pious church of the decades up to the Fifties, marked by a respect for the Eucharist rather forgotten in our times (a Church in which the mere idea of receiving communion standing on the hands would have been considered preposterous, and in which the idea that the Mass must be an interactive circus rather the re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice would have been considered utterly Protestant), would have not put the Eucharist in a central place is just outlandish. Frankly, I think that the Holy Father should back pedal on this, and apologise.
In his attempt to defend the indefensible (that is: to try to make sense of V II), the Holy Father goes on saying that unfortunately the Liturgy was treated more as an object of reform, than as a subject. This means, if we want to give meaning to a rather rhetorical expression, that the Liturgy has not been treated as the centre itself of the Church’s life, but as material for experiments. Which is absolutely true, but contradicts squarely what the Holy Father has said above, that the scope of V II was to put the Eucharist at the centre of pastoral life.
The liturgy is at the centre of Church’s life and the Eucharist is at the centre of the Liturgy. You can’t say that V II was made to put the eucharist at the centre of Church life and in the same breath admit that the liturgy of which the Eucharist is the absolute focal point has been neglected and mishandled. The abuse of the Liturgy is abuse of the Eucharist, and this claim of the supposed (and up to now rather unknown) aims of the Second Vatican Council is nothing more than a pious attempt to try to hide its total and utter failure by extolling some supposed and vague good intentions.
The Holy Father has understood that V II is bankrupt. Unfortunately, though, he falls short of openly saying what every sensible Catholic has long realised. Instead, he tries to redefine the Council so as to let the wasteland it left appear like nothing more than a somewhat careless byproduct of some vague, but pure, ideal.
Once again, the Holy father’s approach to the Council reminds me of Gorbachev’s approach to communism: to try to save what has openly and irremediably failed by redefining it and attempting to persuade us that it was not about its original intent, but about something different. But you know what? It wasn’t. Communism was aimed at destroying Capitalism (and religion) and substitute them with a completely new world and humanity, and Vatican II’s “renewal zeal” was simply aimed at destroying the traditional Catholic understanding of morals and liturgy and substitute it with an age of alignment between religious and secular values.
V II was there with the main aim to – not to put too fine a point on it – brown-nose to “modern times” and Protestant thinking. This, the Conciliar Fathers have done with great zeal, both during and after the Council, in the most shameless of ways.
I appreciate the fact that the Holy Father has with his statement dealt another blow to the already abundantly disgraced edifice of V II. But I do think that it is time to come clean and openly tell the truth about what has happened and why, instead of recurring to verbal gymnastics about what V II was apparently about.
The entire mentality of V II needs to be demolished and those years remembered as years of infamy and crisis the likes of which the Church has possibly never experienced during the course of Her entire existence, not even during the darkest phases of the past.
It sometimes happens that I attend the 12:30 mass instead of the 11:00 Mass. What always strikes me on those occasions is, on entering the church, a strong smell of incense. The fact is, that the 10:00 Mass doesn’t have the massive use of incense of the solemn mass at 11:00; therefore, coming in after the end of the 11:00 mass you immediately notice the difference.
Every time that this happens I can’t avoid noticing what the Protestants (most of them, at least) miss not only from a theological point of view (because they are heretics) but from a more practical, eminently human one.
Catholicism is so complete, so wise, so beautifully constructed in all its details. The little gestures and smells and rituals that are so closely identified with Catholic tradition are a help to the faithful rather than a show of pomp or an ungodly fondness for rituals. At the same time, they connect him with his deeper nature rather than creating a separation between what he thinks and what he is.
When you get into a Catholic church, you are supposed to enter a different world. A world which in its isolation from the outside environment wants to be a prefiguration of the world to come. Walls will be as thick as affordable. Doors will isolate you from the outside as much as practicable. Once inside, you will notice the smell of incense and this will immediately – in an automatic, unconscious reflex similar to the one of Pavlov’s dogs – tell you on a more profound level than the intellectual one that you are now in a sacred place. You look for the stoop and again something happens that is unique to the church: the contact of your forehead with the cold holy water. Around you, the environment is also unique: the building is more or less ornate, generally as much as economic possibilities allow. This is different from everything you see outside and not only does remind you of Christianity at every turn and in every inch (the paintings, the painted glass, the statues, the stations of the cross, the pulpit, the sanctuary with the altar and the Tabernacle, and so on), but it literally leads you to a world you won’t find anywhere else.
It goes on. Silence – a typical trait of every church not defiled by post Vatican-II madness and postmodern ignorance and rudeness – is your almost constant companion. Even tourists go around exchanging, if at all, merely short whispers. This is very natural to them, as the silence is overwhelming and everything they see and smell around them tells them that….. they are now in another world. If the church is not immersed in its solemn silence, an organ might be playing and here again, the assault on your senses is overwhelming.
You see here how a properly made Catholic church embraces all of you at an emotional, elementary level. Sight (the decoration), smell (the incense), hearing (the music, or the silence), touch (the holy water) are involved in a unique way, a way immediately predisposing you to prayer and meditation.
This may seem unnecessary frill and unholy complication to a Protestant mind, but in reality only shows one of the typical traits of Catholic mentality: their connection with the entire being as opposed to the cold cerebral approach so typical of many Protestants. In turn, this natural desire to let all their senses participate to their devotion is – and I can say this with full, first-hand knowledge, having extensively lived in both worlds – so typical of the mediterranean culture, which without any doubt is much more in touch with their inner being than the Peoples of the colder Protestant regions. And one would be tempted to wonder whether it is their connection with their emotions that makes of southern Europeans “natural Catholics”, or whether they are so well-connected to their emotions because they have been raised, for countless generations, as Catholics. If you look at the Germans – a people who, by all their differences and cultural nuances, still are pretty much identifiable as a cultural homogeneous region – you can’t avoid noticing the differences in the most minute details (up to the way they walk, talk, move their facial muscles, laugh!) between the Catholic regions (the Rhineland and, most notably, Bavaria) and the traditionally Protestant regions in the North and East.
When I first went to Munich, I felt like in Italy. When I first went to Berlin, I felt as if half the people around me were thinking about suicide.
Tutto si tiene, Cavour used to say and as an Italian abroad you see the way everything is tied together. Catholicism talks to your senses, and involves them; it does so with the same unspoiled, unadulterated naturalness and relaxedness Northern European Peoples invariably notice in Southern European ones (and yes: Southern Europeans invariably notice the underlying stiffness, the subtle “woodenness” of their North European counterparts).
Southern Europeans do not spend time asking whether incense has a place in church. They know it has, and that there’s no reason to be cerebral about it. The mere posing of the question would seem extraordinary to them. They are like Catholicism, probably because Catholicism made them that way: naturally embracing the truth rather than letting their own little neuroses and ego-driven exercises having the best of themselves. They naturally embrace their entire being (not only their mind, but their body and feelings) and let them participate of whatever they do (ever noticed how often Southern Europeans touch each other? Try that in Mecklemburg-Vorpommern!). And they are, in general, more at peace with themselves, which is what creates that sense of naturalness foreigners seem to love so much of us Italians (and that Italians invariably never notice in themselves, until they start living among Northern Europeans).
You see, then, how authentic Catholicism helps to create more – hoping not to be offensive, but using an expression that I have often heard from foreigners – “authentic” people. People more in touch with their own nature, instead of constantly wondering what is wrong with it or even trying to change it.
Next time you smell the incense in your church, breathe it fully and let yourself immerse in the beautifully spiritual atmosphere it creates; let the surrounding walls with their tales of faith and hope embrace you with the loving embrace of Christ; let the cold impact of the holy water on your forehead remind you – on a physical level – that you are now in a very special place; let all your senses participate of your experience; leave behind you all the puritan rigidity and coldness that you have so often experienced in your Anglo-Saxon climate; accept what the wisdom of countless generations has naturally accepted as a natural way of worship – the splendour of the decoration, the sacredness of the incense, the beauty of the organ or the solemnity of the silence – and let your heart and your entire being feel that you are in a sacred place.
The Catholic enters his splendidly decorated church, and knows – without even thinking about it – that this is just right. The Protestant enters the very same church, and starts questioning why the money hasn’t been spent on social causes. The first is a whole person, the second a victim of his belaboring brain.
Death toll for a bastion of V-II (in its worst form) nu-church. Maynooth College is going to close after 216 years, the last decades of which spent attracting claims of not being fit for purpose. This is the result of the recent Apostolic Visitation.
Please notice that this doesn’t mean the end of the formation of Irish seminarians; nor does this mean the end of a specific programme for them. More simply, it means that the souls of the seminarians are going to be protected by allowing them to become priests in a healthy environment, away from the bad influence of a progressive establishment.
Irish seminarians will in future be formed in an ad hoc restructured Pontifical Irish College in Rome.
Vicinity to the Pope and orthodox formation. One may hope that the vocations from Ireland will soon increase.
I have often read harsh criticism about the disobedience of Archbishop Lefebvre in consecrating the four bishops after becoming fed up with JP II’s waiting games.
I will readily admit that this was an act of disobedience. But in the simple world in which I live there is disobedience and disobedience. A son may disobey to his father in rebellion at his father’s authority qua authority, or he may disobey to his father because the father himself insists in misbehaving. The first disobedience is out of rebellion, the second out of a higher form of respect for the father’s role and obedience to the God-given commandment. The first disobedience is aimed at making a father out of a son; the second is aimed at making of a bad father a good one. The first disobedience aims at destroying traditional, God-given rules; the second at preserving them.
If your father is drunk and you don’t obey to his damaging – or outright wicked – orders not because you don’t want him to be your father, but because you want him to stop being drunk you are still being disobedient, but you are certainly a good son.
I have therefore not many qualms with the Society of St. Pius X and the only reason why I never attended their mass (whose sacramental validity I do not doubt in the least, nor does the Vatican) is my subterranean terror of finding myself surrounded by a couple of dozens of bony, angry nutcases eager to recruit “the new one” to their poisonous cause with intemperate rants about the Antichrist in Rome and the like. I might be entirely wrong of course; but in these matters I am a rather sensitive, delicate flower who prefers to avoid unpleasant experiences.
In the same spirit, I look with a certain sympathy to those cheeky priests who realise that they have been tested with an uncommonly disgraceful bishop and decide to try to twist his arm on this or that matter (the recent episode or Thiberville having as disgraceful protagonist bishop Nourrichard comes to mind).
In all these cases, I see disobedience as a higher form of obedience. Obedience to the Church as an institution rather than obedience to (say) a liberal baboon; or obedience to what the Church commands rather than to what a bunch of naive (or faithless) bishops wanting to play “cool” and “popular” think is all right and very Catholic indeed.
But you see, all these disobedient priests and bishops still obey to that higher order that is the Church that has always been. They haven’t tailored their beliefs to what suits them; they haven’t come out with a new theology; they have just continued to believe what has been transmitted to them by countless generations of Catholics! “The Bishop’s – or Pope – good servant, but God’s first” could they say paraphrasing Thomas More. Whilst I agree that this behaviour is not advisable bar in the most extreme circumstances, I can’t see in it a menace to the Church, but rather a menace to the liberals and modernists within her. Never can the Church be damaged by those who, confronted with dramatic and sweeping changes, upheld what the Church has always been. To think so is, in my eyes, a contradiction in terms. These reactions should then be properly seen as a useful gauge of a malaise within the Church; a malaise which would then have to be scrutinised in the light of the strictest orthodoxy, not demonised as if the Church of the past had suddenly become wrong.
This is the reason why in my page about Catholic Quotes (see the upper bar) the place of honour is given to this beautiful quote from Robert DePiante:
What Catholics once were, we are. If we are wrong, then Catholics through the ages have been wrong.
We are what you once were. We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped. If we are wrong now, you were wrong then. If you were right then, we are right now.
I do hope that the rift (not schism) between the SSPX and Rome will be healed in my lifetime. Until then I will continue to give my allegiance to the latter, and my admiration to the former. I can’t avoid thinking that all that is happening now (from the slow resurgence of proper Catholicism to Summorum Pontificum to…. well, there’ s not much else for now and we might be slowing backpedaling) has been accelerated by the constant work of the SSPX, whose action – sometimes wrongly worded, sometimes a bit ego-driven, but in my eyes always conducted in a proper spirit of Catholic orthodoxy – has exposed the ridicule of NuChurch and helped to shape the resistance to the post-Vatican II drunkenness.
The threatened disobedience of the priest who says that he can’t accept what, in her essence, the Church has always been (find an example here) is not defending Church tradition, but starting his own one. The threatened disobedience of the priest (or archbishop) who says that he can’t accept that the Church may become different from what she has always been is on another plane altogether.
It is hard to believe, but countries like Canada have TV programs that can deal with Catholicism for three-quarters of an hour and being seen nationwide. If the BBC were to do something comparable, the program would obligatorily include a parade of sexual perverts explaining to us why the Church is evil; all interspersed with seemingly sympathetic comments from seemingly unbiased journalists aiming at pushing their secular agenda under the cloak of “tolerance” and “diversity”, which means approving pretty much everything under the sun.
Well, not so in Canada, where the Michael Coren show* deals with Catholicism for very long and in a serious fashion, inviting Michael Voris (well-known to the followers of this blog) to talk about it.
From this (longish) programme, several facts emerge:
1) Michael Voris has already been downloaded 5.5 million times in the last around two years. That’s some 7,500 downloads a day, give or take and with the trend going up (350,000 in January 2011; do your math). Very admirably, Voris says they don’t work “for” downloads, but can’t avoid noticing their growing number.
2) Criticism of Voris tends to come from people who think him “not charitable” (usual liberal excuse to attack those who are Catholics).
3) Voris makes clear that his role is to teach Catholicism. By a trend to 4+ million downloads a year, this gives all the scale of the failing of the Catholic clergy regarding their first duty: teaching the faith.
4) Voris makes an excellent job in explaining to the his viewers (composed of many non_Catholic, I can easily imagine) that to criticise what Church men do doesn’t mean that the Church is not infallible. The Church is doctrinally infallible, the people who compose her are prone to all sorts of errors. This is very important and must be explained again and again to your friends and colleagues when they are (naturally, seeing that they are not properly instructed) confused. This is also a huge source of prejudice against the Church, so it is very good that it was addressed.
5) Coren says it very clearly: Catholics schools teach people to be good citizen, but not to be good Catholics and in fact, even when they go out of school they can’t even define what their being Catholics is all about. I’d say these reflections can be shared by most people; they are the strongest indictment against the Catholic hierarchy in the West.
6) Voris is very clear: the problems started when Vatican II became a conduit for heterodox tendencies already contained in the conciliar documents. It is not the documents themselves that were heterodox, but they were so bad that they could be interpreted so and in the cultural climate of those years they predictably did.
Voris also cites the recent appeal of Bishop Schneider of a new “Syllabus of Error” regarding V II: this must be surprising and at the same time refreshing for non-Catholic viewers: seeing that the Church has not really ever changed, but has merely done her work badly for a handful of decades.
7) Coren is very perceptive: he notices that the liberal voices are the most intolerant ones and that “liberals” are only “tolerant” with those who “behave the way they want them to behave”. You’ll never hear that from the Beeb. Hat off to Mr. Coren.
8) “A lot of liberalism is about sex”, says Coren in another brilliant statement. He understands that liberalism is about doing what you please, and being Catholic is about trying to do as Jesus asks. The man is disarming in that he says things that in England would cause calls of hate speech as if he was saying the simplest facts on Earth. Refreshing.
9) Coren says it again in a very communicative way: he understands that “the teaching from Rome is perfect”, but that the problems lie in the provinces of the Empire. Voris has no problems in explaining the scale of the problems coming from the clergy. This must be, again, both shocking and refreshing for the viewers, who have the opportunity to see an organism sacred in her essence, but fallible in her workings.
10) Even Coren notices that younger priests and bishops tend to be much more orthodox than older one. He is 52, and a convert. I think he is spot on. Again, this is rather known among Catholics but it must be most interesting for non-Catholics viewers. An extremely instructive programme for them.
11) “Judas is the Saint of Social justice”. This Fulton Sheen line criticising the “militant social stance” of many priests is another statement you’ll never hear on the BBC.
12) The hard arguments come out around 27:00: the losing of the West’ soul, the hard truths about Catholic “unpleasant” messages, the necessity to hammer the hard messages to the people, the fact that your moral view will influence the entire society in which your children live. Coren reacts to Voris’ hard statements with grace and humour, his clear Catholicism never becoming obnoxious to those who don’t share his persuasion but clearly showing where his preferences lie. Again, I think that a non-Catholic can see this programme and be pleasantly instructed and entertained.
13) Moving details are revealed: Voris’ mother asking for a cross so that their children may come back to the faith, and dying of cancer in a prayerful way. Looks a bit like “Brideshead revisited”, but in real life. Voris avoids the emotional outburst, but one clearly understands that the event touched him profoundly.
14) Coren deals with the main criticism liberals move to orthodox people: being not charitable. Voris has the chance to explain what true charity is, and what false charity leads to.
No interruptions whilst he explains. Simply good journalism.
15) “It is not the role of the Church to blend in with society”. Another strikingly relevant statement from Voris. No English bishop I know would have ever the guts to say it so strikingly.
16) Some bishops apparently said to Voris something on the lines of “keep on saying what you say, because I can’t”. Sorry, but these are bad bishops. It can’t be that Voris may have the guts, and the bishop can’t afford to. Voris is there because they just don’t do their job. See point 15).
There are some other interesting points, but I’d like not to go beyond 1000 words. This is an excellent example of good, informative journalism, though clearly coming from a Catholic journalist. Coren respectfully listens to his guest allowing his viewers to get 45 minutes of solid formation in Catholicism. I can easily imagine that whilst Coren is clearly Catholic himself, his journalistic style may appeal to many non-Catholics and help them to get nearer to the Catholic truth. The chap has the warmth, the graceful ways and the smoothness of tone of an Italian in a good mood.
I so wish the BBC could learn a bit from him instead of being the miserable hotbed of secular anti-Catholic propaganda it is.
* as always, you may have to register. Free of charge and certainly worth your while.
If you want to have an immediate perception of everything Vatican II represents, look no further than these two photos, courtesy of the always excellent Rorate Caeli blog.
I do not need to tell you which one is the old altar and which one is the new one. I would like to make the following observations:
1) The doubt whether the bishop (this is the Cathedral of St. Vincent in Viviers, France) who considers such a movable (look at the carpet) and almost casual device suitable for a Consecration believes in the Divinity of Christ is fully justified. I’d say the more intelligent question at the sight of such an opprobrium is how long ago the bishop in question has lost his faith, or whether he ever had one.
2) If I had even someone as infinitely lower than Christ as my King or Head of State at supper I’d never dream of dedicating to him my kitchen table, or my movable camping device, or the small breakfast table in the balcony. I would think that to prepare for my guest the best that I can offer would be the most elementary sign of my respect for my guest, and of my fitting tribute to his rank. I am rather sure the bishop who had the idea of commissioning such a sacrilege thinks the same, too and would never dream of receiving his distinguished guests in boxers and flip-flops, nor of inviting them to dinner and let them sit on the portable table in a corner of the patio.
Whenever I see such altars I can’t avoid thinking of someone who receives you in his undies and thinks it cool. This goes together with the modern times, when young idiots wear their undies as substitute for the back of their trousers and think it cool, too; but at least, they aren’t bishops.
3) I am very much in favour of the Holy Father talking, as he does here, of the necessity for the priest to “oppose the trend of the time”, to be “like a tree that has deep roots” as opposed to the “portable” ideology of the post- V II clergy. But I can’t avoid noticing that the Holy Father is very shy in walking the walk and that he – not to put too fine a point on it – continues to allow what he criticises. This is the same spirit of encouragement instead of demand already championed by Paul VI and John XXIII and about which I have already written here. It hasn’t worked these last 45 years and I can’t imagine that it can start working now.
This altar is a shame and a mockery of Catholicism. The downplaying of what happens on the altar is so evident as to make explanations superfluous; nay, I go as far as to say that the reason for such an altar is to make the downplaying of the Consecration perceivable to the dimmest wit. Symbols and images are very powerful and say one thousand words with a single statement. In this case, the statement can’t possibly be overheard.
Such clergy (the bishop, and those attuned to him) need our prayers, but they need to pull themselves together more, and they need correction the most. Beautiful speeches about the need for the priest to “not be chaff” are not really useful unless they are accompanied by the opportune measures and by a robust enforcement of the behaviour requested of them.
I have already written about Bishop Athanasius Schneider here and if you read the blog post you’ll see that Bishop Schneider is not one who takes his role lightly.
Thanks to another excellent comment of Schmenz, I was alerted to this great video from the “Athanasius Contra Mundum” Blog, in which this excellent bishop speaks about communion in the hand.
Many are the interesting issues touched in this fragment of TV interview. The parts which most impressed me are the initial ones, where a young boy (being raised up in a communist regime) is shocked at being informed that in Germany Holy Communion can be received in the hand as if it was a piece of cake. More moving still is the part when the bishop remembers his mother searching for a church distributing communion on the tongue and – after failing to do so – giving in to tears. May God bless these beautiful souls and give them back one thousand times in glory what they had to endure in suffering and persecution.
Imagine for a second a persecuted Catholic family in a communist country – people ready to suffer daily humiliations and discrimination for the Lord – at seeing the Body of Christ casually distributed and superficially received (or I should say: eaten) in a way that to these poor family must have seemed a perfect absurdity and the epitome of shallow and desecrating behaviour. This was in 1973, an age when the older generation had still been properly instructed and had to witness the crumbling of a liturgical world made of reverence and sacredness.
At the same time, the perfect shock of these pious and persecuted people at what they were forced to witness gives the full measure of tragedy of the drunken years following Vatican II, an unforgivable liturgical booze-up whose after-effect is still felt within the Church.
Bishop Schneider gives hope that a new generation of bishops will put things right but at the same time exposes the betrayal of the most elementary sense of the sacred incited, permitted or tolerated by most Western bishops.
Once again, Kudos to Bishop Schneider for his beautiful and moving words. We do need more like him, but why must we go as far as Kazakhstan to hear a bishop talking with such reverence?