“The faithful have a right to compare the teaching of an individual minister with that of other ministers and ultimately with that of the supreme teaching office. This right comes from their sharing in the teaching office of Christ conferred by baptism, and carries with it an obligation to reject false teaching in the internal forum, that is, in their own mind, and, if circumstances require, to attack it publicly as well”.
Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Par. 320, Page 716. Emphases mine.
These are the, as always, simple but straight words of the great Romano Amerio.
He wasn’t, very probably, a Great Saint; and if he was, Pope Francis has not yet proceeded to his canonisation, so we have no way to know. But he had a profound knowledge of Catholicism, and a keen desire to help souls to achieve salvation.
What has happened to us, that we should come to the point of thinking that the teaching office of Christ should give way to the blabbering office of daily off-the-cuff fluff, and our obligation to attack false teaching in public should suddenly become the obligation to remain silent; to remain silent, even, when false teaching is shouted from the highest place, echoed the world over, heard by the entire planet, and enthusiastically embraced by the enemies of Christ.
Ubi honor, ibi onus. We who had the grace of having been born in – or having been led to- the One True Faith also have the duty to protect it as we can, and to protect it very publicly if it is very publicly attacked.
Say a prayer for Francis, that he may come to his senses or at least stop this endless, reckless nonsense.
Say it in Latin.
It’s more fashionable.
We live, thankfully, in times when Catholicism is giving timid but clear signs of recovery. The Internet was, if you ask me, the starter engine of such movement. The Internet allowed more and more people to understand that they are not alone and that the dumbing down of Catholicism and its reduction to a bunch of slogans for kindergarten children caused suffering to many others.
The rest came from there; the amount of books available, and of traditional Catholic sources directly on the internet, would have been inconceivable only a few years before. If you were born in Italy or France or Germany a couple of dozen years ago, either you were really angry or the mainstream outlets (the popular book stores, and so on) would not have given you any alternative to the blandness and effeminacy of the Vatican II/Assisi/pacifist/social justice crowd.
The Internet changed all this, and with the increase in conservative Catholicism came a wave of reprints. Fulton Sheen, Ronald Knox and many others were made available again, and today your kindle (a wonderful invention, Kindle) would allow you to store more Catholic knowledge than most wealthy Catholic would have in their libraries in centuries past, effortless and at low-cost. You can bet your pint the process will continue, and will continue to change the way the common Catholic sees the Church.
Still, it was not always so. Think of what it must have been for a middle-aged person in the Sixties to be surprised by such a tsunami of changes. To them, it must not have seemed a momentary folly. To them – particularly if not robustly educated; probably even in that case – it must have seemed irreversible. The Church itself said to them – in all possible ways – that the Church had changed, and this showed everywhere, not only in the Mass but in the mentality, the demeanour, even the clothes of the priest, the robust wine of salvation now substituted for a bland soft drink smelling, mainly, of sugar.
How difficult it must have been for those who have decided they wouldn’t stand for it. A tiny minority, derided and insulted, considered obsolete dreamers in their dotage, unable to see the luminous new path the Holy Spirit would – obviously changing his mind, but laissons tomber – now show to the renewed Church.
I think here not only of the few religious who had the gut to say “no” to the madness (Archbishop Lefebvre obviously comes to mind; but let us not forget staunchly conservative churchmen like the Abbe’ de Nantes, and the monasteries who simply refused to obey to the diktat of “change”), but particularly of the laymen. Romano Amerio was vilified and mocked for a book now read all over the world, and whilst all around him priests were surrounded by guitars it must have been very bitter to see two thousand years of Christianity almost crumble under a wave of such immense stupidity.
I also think of the many old people who were literally overcome – or I should say: run over – by the tidal wave of “change” of the Sixties and Seventies; old, frail, often poor people for whom their simple faith was the main comfort in their last years, and trying to march toward salvation in the company of accustomed values, and rites. How they must have suffered!
If they were alive today, they would at least know that the counter-charge has now started and will soon be in full swing. They would look into the future and see hope of improvement; nay, they would see improvement is in time unavoidable. But how could they in those dark years, when the “renewal” was imposed on them by the same priests who assured the Holy Ghost was tirelessly working on the destruction of all they held dear!?
They are, of course, all gone now. Gone is Archbishop Lefebvre, gone is the Abbe’ de Nantes, gone is Rosario Amerio, gone are all those old people I imagine crying in their kitchen after hearing the guitars at mass. I think of them, and cry. A person can cope with a lot, if he has faith. Think how many of them had gone with as much serenity as they can – and as much faith as they could muster – through wars and loss of their most beloved ones, even in the hardest moment resting against the wall of their faith. Picture them now in their Seventies, with their religious system and philosophy of life put upside down, and restless adolescents with long, unwashed hair and jeans strumming their guitars in the church under the approving eye of the young, not-so-manly priest.
It was a huge shock for me the first time I heard guitars in the church, and I was only ten years old. For a seventy years old, it must have been the end of the world as we know it.
The unsung heroes are now being vindicated. The public figures are rising high in the consideration of the posterity after having been derided by their contemporaries. The common people are, at least, pitied in their suffering they were, were probably, not even allowed to utter.
Dear reader, every now and then, please think of for the old couple who was crying in the kitchen; of the war widow informed there would be no vespers anymore as apparently the Holy Ghost doesn’t like that now; of the old woman who lost her boy in the war and was told Mass would now be in English, with a chap talking to the congregation as if he was their pub buddy; and with the guitars, the guitars! Think of the old scholars vilified like Romano Amerio, and the old churchmen belittled or even excommunicated.
When you can, please say a prayer for the unsung heroes.
Iota Unum is a ruthless analysis of what has happened before, during and after the Second Vatican Council, and examines the rupture of sound Catholic tradition in a vast number of issues. The book is the more relevant, because it was written in times when only very few dared to say of Vatican II what today is acknowledged by a vast number of people.
Romano Amerio lived to the end of his days surrounded by the hostility and mockery of the then largely unopposed Vatican-II crowd, his works ignored in the best of cases. From his book a lot of energy transpires, a sincere love for the Church, and a fundamental optimism that Her indefectibility would allow her to survive. Still, this book written in bleak years can’t avoid giving a bleak portrait of the Church’s situation of those times, and Amerio doesn’t leave any wound untouched; but there is no bitterness, no personal polemic, no private score settling. This man loved the Church dearly, and was ready to be mocked to the end of his days for it.
Reading the book today, we can’t avoid noticing a marked improvement of the situation. But the contrast with the pre-Vatican II Church and sound theology is still shocking. I have already mentioned Amerio’s work and cogent arguments talking about the role of the Pope, and I also had the one about Veterum Sapientia (“on the promotion of the study of Latin”, no less…) from him.
Please say a prayer for Romano Amerio and for the generous people at Angelus Press.
“Rorate Coeli” re-published a brilliant contribution from a member of the American Catholic Lawyers association, Christopher Ferrara. The contribution is longish, but fascinating and even if it has been written some years ago, it still maintains a great deal of actuality.
Mr. Ferrara examines SC with a lawyer’s spectacles, with a view of seeing what SC mandates and what it allows. It seems to be that his detailed analysis has as main aims:
1) to ascertain to what extent the Novus Ordo we know and hate has been authorised by SC;
2) to understand how it could be approved by certainly conservative bishops, in primis by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre;
3) to see whether the Latin Mass can be restored based on SC, and
4) what is the way forward, if not.
To 1), Mr. Ferrara convincingly proves that every modification originated by the Novus Ordo (and which does not constitute an obvious, liturgical abuse) can easily be justified in the light of SC. He points out (as Romano Amerio before him had often done) to the utterly contradictory mixture of conservative and progressive norms, with solemn statements of the will to preserve tradition immediately followed by the authorisation to proceed to sweeping modification every time that unspecified local needs should be taken into account. This apparent hysteria is, as it is clear now, rather the fruit of the will of Bugnini & Co. to reassure conservative Bishops with solemn statements of continuity of tradition whilst at the same time opening vast portals to utterly unspecified, arbitrarily decided changes by local communities. The strategy obviously worked as the document was approved and the sweeping liturgical modifications introduced in the following years were never seen by both Paul VI and JP II as being against the letter or the spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Ferrara’s case is solidly made: the argument that the Novus Ordo itself (again: leaving aside liturgical abuses) is not in compliance with SC’s norms is untenable. The Novus Ordo we have today is very clearly what was wanted, the fragmentation of the rite into a myriad of different languages and regional variations explicitly desired.
To 2), Ferrara points out to an important psychological, if not legal, factor in the Bishop’s approval. Sacrosanctum Concilium is so structured, that no substantial changes are made mandatory. The picture coming out from the reading is one of a document saying “we want to leave pretty much everything as it is, unless we introduce changes“. The options about changes are, though, so many and so undetermined, that the door to an almost unrecognisable Roman Rite was open wide. We know the results.
As Ferrara brilliantly writes,
A lawyer knows that the dangers in a contract from his client’s perspective lie not so much in what the terms of the contract provide as in what they permit the other party to do. The danger is in the loopholes. Quite simply, SC permits all manner of drastic things to be done to the Roman liturgy. It is one long collection of loopholes. If a lawyer entrusted with the task of protecting the Roman liturgy from harmful innovation had drafted this document, he would be guilty of gross malpractice.
This makes also clear why conservative Bishops like Lefebvre did approve the document. It wouldn’t have been prudent to reject the document altogether in view of its stated conservative character, but it was wise to point out to the dangers to which a mediocre wording would expose the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre actually did both (approving and warning) and in retrospect I would say that his conduct appears – once more – wise.
To 3), the obvious conclusion from what has been said up to now is that the idea that the New Mass is a violation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is untenable. This point seems very important to the author, which leads me to think that years ago the theory must have enjoyed vast popularity. But really, to espouse such a thinking would not only contradict the clear wording of SC (of which Ferrara brings many examples) but would also imply that two Popes have been gravely erring for decades in the interpretation of such an important Conciliar document.
To 4), the author has an interesting perspective. In his eyes, SC should not be modified or specified or guidelines to its interpretations given. Sacrosanctum Concilium deals with the Novus Ordo; it is not a doctrinal statement about how the Mass should look like, but merely a document stating how the mass may be modified. As things stand now, SC has been already implemented or, as Ferrara says in legal terms, has “merged” with the new Mass. Therefore there is, in legal terms, no SC anymore, only the New Mass it generated. As a consequence, the setting aside of the Novus ordo Mass will be the setting aside of Sacrosanctum Concilium. No need for any backpedaling, or modifications, or new interpretations. Just put the NO in the coldest part of the freezer and no further action will be required. Conversely, as SC clearly authorised all the sweeping changes we have experienced, its twisting to let it mean that those changes were never authorised or its modification to let it say the contrary of what it always meant doesn’t really make sense.
Let us conclude with the author’s very reasonable words:
The only way to restrain that mentality and restore liturgical sanity in the Roman Rite is full restoration of our Latin liturgical tradition – taken from us overnight, only 30 years ago.