Daily Archives: February 6, 2011
You might have read (actually, I hope you haven’t) about all the turmoil in Italy in the last months and particularly in the last weeks.
As many other Italians, I watch with a certain consternation the level of decay those who represent the Institutions have reached. As many others, I wonder what the future holds and as many others, I wonder what the unintended consequences of a “morality drive” might be.
Let us take 2006. The centre-left government wins the election with the shortest of margins. Catholics are heavily represented and the PM is a rather devout chap with an irreprehensible political pedigree and (as far as one can ever be certain of such things) immaculate private life; a “Mr. Clean” not only in comparison to the “Mr. Dirt” (and I am not talking about his private weaknesses here) he fought against, but by any conceivable standard. For those who shouldn’t know, in Italy centre-left generally means “centre-centre-centre-with some crumbles left to the lefties”. It was a centre-“left” government that bombed Serbia without UNO approval, and it was centre-“left” governments who introduced the most relevant pro-market reforms of the last 20 years.
Everything looked fine, then, until the point where the left part of the centre-left coalition decides to get one or two ideological scalps to counteract the, once again, very obvious moderate/Catholic/centrist drive of the PM and his government. The battleground of choice is – in the impossibility of choosing dogs or cats – the “marriage” of men with…. other men, a sacred cow of anti-Catholicism the world over.
The proposal, obviously going against the grain of the vast part of the population, sends the Catholics of the centre-left on the barricades whilst the opposition laughs heartily and says “we told you so”. To make a very long (and as usual very emotional) story short, the Prime Minister finally gets his way in the usual Italian way (victory against internal opposition; then resignation at the first possible occasion; then re-appointment with new and more centrist platform to show who is boss; if you’re not Italian, I bet you’ve lost me…..).
The Catholics, then, win the battle, but the country listens and learns. Millions of aged and less-aged Italians discover that the inconceivable almost happened and that a centre-left coalition does carry the risk of very nasty surprises. At the following general elections, the bill is presented and it is an expensive one: both communist parties don’t get entrance in parliament (first time after WW II) and the vocally pro-poof greens are also kicked out (first time since they first got in). Centre-right wins big and whilst it can’t be said that it was exclusively because of the attempt to institutionalise sexual deviancy, if you add 2+2 you know that the matter played an important role and opened many people’s eyes as to what the real dangers are.
And so we come to the present days. Top Pig (or as many call him “Il nano pelato”, “the bald dwarf”; try that in the UK…..) is in power again, but he is a very shrewd marketing man; he knows who keeps him in power and what he must deliver if he wants to hope that the electorate overlooks his very, very many shortcomings. Therefore you have the very strange situation where a government who is nothing less than the embodiment of private decadence and public corruption is also a strong defender of Christian values (euthanasia, say; “civil partnerships” are for now just not on the radar screen anymore).
The last example comes from here, with the Italian government the first one (France followed in tow) to actually say to every other European government to wake up and smell the Christian coffee, and being rather outspoken and rather effective in the process.
Italians – and, make no mistake, the Vatican – are now confronted with the choice whether to push a change which might end up very badly, or to live with the non presentable but reliable deliverer of conservative values.
After reading the link provided you might conclude, with me, that a Berlusconi is still preferable to a Cameron every day of the week.
No, it is not a compliment for the bald dwarf.
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.