Daily Archives: June 10, 2013


Father Ray Blake has, as so often, perceptive considerations about careerism in the Church; careerism fuelled by the “expectation” of a red hat for certain prestigious dioceses, and the custom to move bishops from A to B to C as their, erm, career proceeds.

If the system were to be frozen, a bishop would know that it is highly probable he will remain in his diocese for a long time; this would in turn allow him to start a long-term work of re-shaping of his own diocese. He wouldn't be allowed to see his diocese as a “station” towards more prestigious appointments, and would not be motivated to ingratiate himself to the press or the powers that be and appear just the ticket for the next big diocese in need of an appointment. Incidentally, if he is bad this would undoubtedly be seen in the figures concerning vocations, conversion and co. and said bishop wouldn't have anywhere to hide, nor would he be allowed to move elsewhere and endanger a bigger or more prestigious diocese (Peter Smith comes to mind; or our own Vincent “Quisling” Nichols). The contrast in results between the good bishops, those who make an excellent work in their diocese, and the Nichols would be brutal. Then, the one or other bishop could be gently pushed elsewhere for manifest incapacity; but ending down, not up.

The problem with this system is, I think, that it would work. No more easy favours for the friends of the friends; no more opportunities to hide one own's incompetence claiming lack of time to do a proper job; no more trendy prelates guffawing around in desperate search of a camera. Bad times all around.

Plus, as the conservative dioceses tend to regularly fare better than the trendy ones in vocations etc, this system would lead to conservative bishops systematically rising to preeminence; a preeminence earned by good and hard work and not by networking and by appointment.

Meritocracy? God forbid! What would happen of the trendy crowd? That would, one day, be the end of…. gasp…. Vatican II! No, this certainly can't be allowed, will our men in black, purple and red think; let us rather build fully unrecognisable “trendy” churches; let us follow the crowd on social and environmental issues; let us waste money in stupid modern art exercises; and let's be overtly or covertly approving of same-sex unions, even those of us who don't wear stilettos in private. The Church will be damaged and countless souls will get lost, but who cares…

We'll be so popular; and if you, my dear Father Smart, can say the right things and mix with the right crowd, one day the diocese will arrive for you, too.




The Hermeneutic Of Blindness

Found wanting: Second Vatican Council

Read on the usual Rorate the report concerning a talk held by Father Berg, FSSP superior. Father Berg tries, like the FSSP as a whole, to square the circle, and unavoidably fails to persuade.

The main messages Father Berg sends are in my eyes two: a) the Council radicalised the conservatives as well as it did the progressive, and b) none of the two opposing sides tried to follow the “difficult” path of the much-abused “hermeneutic of continuity”.

As to the first point, we do not have the script, but I would be curious to know whether Father Berg brought some evidence of the supposed “radicalisation”. Unless and until Father provides evidence, I think it much fairer to say the Conservatives haven’t radicalised themselves in the least, but have simply kept the position the Church always had. It is a contradiction in term to accuse he who hasn’t changed of having radicalised himself simply because other people have done exactly the same.

As to the second point, Father puts himself in an argumentative cul-de-sac with his very words: if Vatican II had been the fruit of orthodox thinking, the “hermeneutic of continuity” wouldn’t have been difficult at all; but the Council was exactly that: revolutionary and disruptive, hence the mess that followed it.

The Council must, says Father, be interpreted in a spirit of continuity with the past. Of course it must; every Church document must be read in this way, and it would be utterly Un-Catholic to even attempt anything else. But exactly here lies the problem. When examined with a hermeneutic of continuity in mind, the Council documents appear gravely wanting: muddled, duplicitous, wrong, or outright stupid.

There is no way you can reconcile white with black and keep it white. There is no way you can, say, reconcile religious liberty as seen before and after Vatican II and say it is the same. It just isn’t. Therefore, one must read the Conciliar documents in a hermeneutic of continuity and conclude they are seriously flawed documents.

I am all in favour of a hermeneutic of continuity. Again, I do not think any other approach is possible. But exactly for his reason I think all documents produced by that disgraceful exercise in marketing and populism must be put in the attic and substituted for newly written documents addressing the relevant issues without ambiguities, and able to stand the test of being read with a hermeneutic of continuity and found not wanting.

Odd, isn’t it, that by the encyclicals and other documents from pre-V II Popes problems of “hermeneutic” were never a big issue? Perhaps because they were clearly written, and orthodox, in the first place?

Vatican II was the fruit of the flawed (nay: heretical) ideology that took possession of it pretty much from the start of the official works. Its documents are nothing but the unavoidable consequence of this original flaw. Consequently, they must be discarded and their place taken by new documents, which are written in sound orthodox language and transmit sound orthodox Catholic values rather than trying to please everyone, but particularly the wrong crowd.

It’s exactly their reading in an Hermeneutic of continuity that demands it.


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