I do not want to link to the hideous website, but it appears the Evil Clown has, semel in anno, said something quite right: a good shepherd is distinguished by his flock.
Quite so, Father Castro, quite so!
This is why the shepherds of the V II nuChurch have been steadily losing ground in all Western Countries, whilst the small but dedicated orders of Traditionalists (all of them, but particularly the heroic troops of the SSPX) keep thriving.
It is part and parcel of human nature to, in time, detect the phonies. It was, therefore, unavoidable – if very sad – that millions of people realised that the priest talking to them in a slightly too high-pitched on the Sunday was not a man of God, and could not give them the nourishment they wanted. The amount of people who have – sadly – abandoned the Catholic Church, or at least Catholic liturgy, by keeping a solid, if vitiated, faith – think of Sarah Palin, or Mike Pence – is a testimony to that.
In fact, I wonder how many of these people have abandoned their attendance to Catholic Mass simply in order to keep a faith they were afraid of losing; something, mind my words, very wrong from a theological standpoint, but very real from the vantage point of a poorly catechised Catholic.
Pope Francis can’t even get the people to see him as a tourist attraction in St Peter. He has failed even as a curiosity object and popular “moving landmark”. That he dares to make such comparison shows that he likely does not even read beforehand the homilies others write for him, or he would have asked that the subject be changed. Unless he is really so dumb that he does not understand what an indictment of his work his very words are.
In the meantime, the SSPX keeps thriving (sorry, Mr Voris: you lose), Francis keeps blabbering, and the faithful keep suffering. But the truth of the matter is this: that the bad shepherd will only be allowed to scatter their sheep as long as the Lord allow them to. in the end, not one sheep will be lost that is supposed to go back to the fold.
Francis’ diabolical hate for the Church is infinitely sad, but ultimately useless.
Gloria TV reports a surreal interview with, of all people, a US Rabbi giving The Francis and the entire Conciliar church a lesson in Catholicism.
You might say that this is an infidel and that he should convert first, but this is not the issue. The issue is that the decay of the Catholic Church and “the dismantling of the Catholic faith in the aftermath of the [second] Vatican council” is now so evident, so blatantly obvious that even a Rabbi can easily recognise and denounce it whilst looking with some longing (of sort) at the proud, uncompromising church of the past. Strangely, all the while hordes of flip-flop clad Catholics keep clapping and applauding in the church as they feel so, so good for having showed up at the self-celebratory gathering.
At some point the heresies and blasphemies of Francischurch will be visible from Mars. For the moment, they are visible even to people capable of denying the divinity of Our Lord.
It is as if a policeman were so astonishingly corrupt that even the criminals lament the good old times of the honest cop, when the world still followed its own God-given order.
The always attentive reader Rhizotomos directs my attention to a blog called Public Vigil; from what I can see a soundly conservative blog, well worth the reading but exempt from, say, Sedevacantist error.
The author of the blog is kind enough to mention my little effort, and has some less than very kind, but rather intelligent, words for Pope Ratzinger and his cohort.
I will profit of these intelligent considerations to spend a couple of words on Cardinal/Pope Ratzinger, and Vatican II in general. By the by, the blog author also spends some words on the “not fooling anyone” matter; his are perfectly understandable objections, but see here and here for my thinking in the matter.
I have, in the past, compared Ratzinger to Gorbachev: a last attempt, made in good faith, to take the best out of something that is intrinsically wrong. I do not doubt in the least Cardinal/Pope Ratzinger’s good faith, but I think he applied it to the wrong cause.
Gorbachev tried to save Communism injecting in it elements of sanity, but ultimately failed because Communism is, however you tweak it, insane. Similarly, Ratzinger represents the last attempt to date to extract some “good” from something that is, when we look at it properly, entirely and irredeemably bad.
Whatever Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI later proposed to make V II “work” would work much better if V II were to be ditched altogether. The “hermeneutic of continuity” is nothing else than the attempt to beautify the Council with elements of timeless Truth; not only in the liturgy, but in the approach to Church governance, evangelisation, etc. This Truth was there before the Council. What has the council improved? Zippo. What has it damaged? Everything.
Pope Benedict’s strategy was, just like Gorbachev’s, self-defeating. If the bad of the present needs the good of the past to make it presentable, it is obvious that the exercise as a whole is not presentable. Once again: whatever was good in what Ratzinger proposed was there before V II, and there is no need of V II at all to introduce it. Actually, everything “good” that he proposed could have been done “better” by entirely ditching V II: liturgically, doctrinally, pastorally, and so on.
To make the usual, Mundaborian sexist comparison (we need more sexism around; good, old-fashioned sexism; there are two sexes, after all…) it is as if the good girl (the Church pre V II) had been substituted by a slut (the Church post V II), and Ratzinger had come to tell us that it is much better if the slut dresses modestly and adopts some ways of speaking, acting, talking, moving, and thinking from the good girl. Give me the good girl back, then, thank you very much. You are not going to fool me by asking the slut to wear the plisse’ rock and the ponytail.
V II has, as often stated in this blog, a construction defect. It is wrong in the very way it was conceived, in the very mentality it represented, and in the very attitude it spread the world over. The Council is Church Sluttishness in the most authentic sense of the word. The “treason of the true Council” is a legend, and a very naive one at that: the “Council Fathers” went back to their dioceses and accompanied the demolition of so much sound Catholicism every step of the way. Do not try to persuade me this is not what was wanted all along. Once again, this is like a premarital pregnancy: it did not “just happen”.
Summa summarum: V II is a slut. It is a slut in the way it walks, in the way it talks and, obviously, in the way it lives. Ratzinger tried to cloth sluttishness with modesty, and everyone praised how nice and chaste the ponytail looked; but look: a ponytail isn’t changing the mentality that is still there; and boy, how the mentality was still there!
The author of the blog also makes another very important consideration which, translated, means: as long as the slut is around, problems won’t be far. Or: even if we were to get a Benedict XVII after Pope Dope, the next nutcase is just a matter of time. Why? Because, to remain by the figure of speech, behaving badly is what sluts do.
When we say ( and everyone says) that Francis is “V II on steroids” we mean just this: that the disease was already there; with Francis, it has merely degenerated to a serious fever.
Who has ordained Bergoglio? JP II. “Faggot” Forte? JP II, (apparently, then Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated the Mass!).
Schoenborn? Kasper? Maradiaga? Tagle?
It’s always one of the two: either JP II or Ratzinger. The latter failed in his appointments of bishops and cardinals so parlously, that it is because of him that we are now where we are.
There is nothing good in V II, or Communism. Merely degrees of bad. What is good and sound in Communism, or in Church practice (or in the clothes and demeanour of the slut) can always be found in the original, much better form elsewhere. The Traditional Latin Mass is better than every form of Novus Ordo no matter how reverent; the sound principles of Catholic teaching will always work much better when the novelties of V II are expunged from it; pastoral work will always be more effective when sin and its punishment are mentioned, and so on.
There is nothing good in V II. Nothing to be saved. No improvement whatsoever. V II must be destroyed like it’s Carthago in 146 BC.
The “Hermenutic of burning to the ground and spreading salt over the ruins” is the only one that will solve the problem once and for all.
Don’t try to impress me with a plisse’ rock and a ponytail.
I know what is behind.
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: email@example.com
Congregation for Bishops: Palazzo della Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10, 00193 Roma, Italy (email address not found)
Holy Father: firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
Another excellent blog post from Fr Longenecker, “The Collapse Of Cultural Catholicism”..
Fr Longenecker explains the roots of the problem in very clear terms:
“[…]for the last forty years Catholics themselves have not taught Catholicism to their children. They’ve taught ‘American Catholicism’ which is a watered down blend of sentimentalism, political correctness, community activism and utilitarianism. In other words, “Catholicism is about feeling good about yourself, being just to others and trying to change the world.”
As a result of this,
The next generation has drawn the obvious conclusion that you don’t need to go to Mass to do all that. You can feel good about yourself much more effectively with a good book from the self-help shelf, or by attending a personal development seminar. You can be involved in making the world a better place without going to church.
According to the author,
The solution is simple: we must return to the supernatural realities of the historic faith and evangelize like the Apostles of old.
This implies the overcoming of a major difficulty of our times (expressed here in terms so crude as to be, well, Mundaborian): nowadays there are a lot of people who, to all intents and purposes, are pagans believing themselves Christians and this makes the evangelisation work more difficult.
To these excellent observations I allow myself to add my own as in my eyes Fr Longenecker is absolutely right in his analysis of what happens within Catholic families, but in doing so addresses not the first, but second cause of the mess we are in.
In my eyes, cultural Catholicism is the result of assertive Catholic propaganda from the Church hierarchy and the clergy. In countries like Italy and France, cultural Catholicism is (albeit now clearly under attack) still an important part of the thinking of the common man, because it has been aggressively hammered into people’s head for generations.
Or allow me to put it in different terms: the more the Catholic hierarchy is assertively Catholic, the more Her teaching will filter through those strata of the Catholic population who may not be so observant, but still know very well where the Truth lies. Again, traditionally Catholic countries are the best example, with a diffuse Catholic thinking going far beyond the number of the practising Catholics. Still, when the Church limits herself to platitudes, easy slogans and easy-to-digest social issues the devout churchgoers will still continue to attend mass, but in time the message will be utterly lost in the outer circles.
You can see this as an onion, with the core formed by the churchgoers and successive layers formed by less and less aware Catholics. If the Catholic Truth is not assertively propagated, the onion will start to go off from the outer layers. This is exactly what has happened since Vatican II: the onion has lost its flavour because it was considered too pungent and whilst the core is still there and is reasonably healthy, the rest of the onion is decomposing rapidly.
In my eyes, the biggest problem of our time is not the (undeniable) inaction of the parents, but their neglect from the Clergy at all levels from the Popes down. The parents who neglect to properly instruct their children do so because they are left without proper guidance themselves whilst those who had been properly instructed have been, during the Sixties, cowed by the Church herself into thinking that their knowledge had been somewhat badly presented or poorly interpreted and was in dire need of a new, fresh approach.
Il pesce puzza dalla testa, “the fish stinks from the head down”. When the Popes appoint cowardly or heretical bishops, these will sabotage the activity of their priests; when bad priests are allowed to confuse the faithful, confusion will trickle through the next generation and become worse.
At the root of the loss of cultural Catholicism is the Church’s loss of a clear vision of Her identity and purpose, the abandoning of hard truths for easy-to-listen platitudes, the quest for popularity instead of the quest for souls, the abandonment of reverent liturgy for a mediocre, shallow, emasculated attempt at entertainment.
One day we will look in shame at a time where the Church was filling airports and holding mega-masses whilst Catholic identity was going lost. It is not difficult to fill an airport if people come to be told how good they are, nor it is difficult to be a popular Pope if you give people the “peace’n’love” platitudes they so desperately need as an ego fix.
At the root of the loss of Catholic identity is the massive failure of the Church, at all levels and starting from the very top, to properly do Her job. This failure started with Vatican II and was allowed to worsen in the following decades. The attempts at repair that followed have been – in striking contrast with the devastating Sturm und Drang of the Sixties – excessively prudent within the Vatican and almost non-existent at the local level, where sad travesties of bishops a’ la Nichols, Mahony and Nourrichard have been appointed for too long and continue to be appointed. Look no further than Southwark to have the last example, though luckily we are getting beautiful exceptions here and there.
The renewal of Catholic identity must start from the renewal of the Church, from the full recovery of the consciousness of her mission and identity. The rest will follow as the message trickles through increasingly wider strata of society.
Il pesce puzza dalla testa.
This man is certainly worth 17 minutes of your time and I’d suggest that you do not let your next meal come before having seen this video.
Father Yannick is obviously not an originally trained SSPX priest. He mentions both the formation in a state university and his experience in a (non-SSPX) seminary. He makes examples of what obviously was his life as a diocesan priest. He has nothing of the, let us say, “Williamson” style of being an SSPX member. This is a young, well-prepared, eloquent, sincere priest talking about the problems experienced in his trying to be a good priest.
Forget for a moment that he did become a member of the SSPX. This short document is disconcerting, because the very same words could have been said (were it not for the fear or retaliation) by almost any priest in Western Europe. There is not one word of rebellion to Rome and not one word of criticism of the reality (that is: the documents, not the “spirit”) of Vatican II; there is the constant reference to how Rome says things must be done as opposed to the praxis found in his diocese; there is a simple, calm but determined attitude of looking at the problems in the face rather than just singing the next sugary hymn and pretending that everything is fine.
In seventeen minutes, this short interview covers much of what doesn’t work and at the same time shows that SSPX and the Vatican are much nearer to each other than you’d think. The greatest distance from the SSPX is to be found not in Rome, but in the liberal dioceses with their heterodox praxis and their utter neglect of their duty of care.
You will enjoy this video. Every second of it. It looks at the problems, but it gives hope. It clearly speaks of the thirst for real spirituality among the young and the way this thirst is not quenched. But the thirst is there.
I wish we had more priests like this one, and I wish that they weren’t forced to move to the SSPX to do their job properly.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s speech – held in Rome last month – with the proposal of a new “Syllabus or Errors” specifically intended to address the misconceptions and heresies of the “spirit of Vatican II” is now available in English in its entirety (hat tip: Rorate Coeli).
Bishop Schneider’s proposal is an interesting one, because an open and official intervention of the Vatican would amputate the legs of all those arguments more or less vaguely justifying deviations from Catholic teaching with a supposed “spirit” which, for reasons unknown to us, should now make what was wrong, right and what was right, wrong.
Besides, such a Syllabus would direct an enormous amount of attention to the old Syllabus, the creation of Blessed Pius IX. As more and more people read the original work instead of simply fantasise about what it is supposed to contain (material extremely offensive to their own “openness” and desire to do what they please, no doubt), the continuity of Catholic Truth would be beautifully put in front of their eyes. It is very important that Catholics start to concentrate on this continuity rather than on a supposed rupture with the past, and the recovery of a traditional terminology and way of teaching the faithful is, in my eyes, the best way of doing it.
This is also, I think, the only way to save Vatican II from utter ignominy and systematic massacre from the coming generations of Catholics. As the mediocrity of approach, the sloppy written work, the populism and superficiality of most of the council fathers becomes apparent, the explicit effort of patiently re-explaining what Vatican II got it right (that is: when it just repeated what everyone already knew) is the only way to avoid the entire work to be branded as an utterly useless waste of time and a disgrace.
This way, two results would be achieved:
1) The liberal nutters would find it even more difficult to spread their errors. They wouldn’t stop of course, but they’d find it much more difficult to persuade anyone but the most gravely deluded.
2) The continuity of truth would be beautifully reaffirmed. This would be of a certain help in the process of reconciliation with the SSPX in that it would show a path by which everyone is, in his own way, right: the Vatican in defending the orthodoxy of the council (properly intended) and the SSPX in defending the grave damage caused by its wrong interpretation.
Honestly, it seems to me that such a Syllabus is the best thing that could happen to Catholicism, particularly in this 2011 when the newly planned Assisi Mk III gatherings risks to generate unintended, but not easily avoidable misconceptions about what is Truth, what is heresy and what is heathenism.
Kudos to our friend from Kazakhstan then. This is no Borat, for sure.
From the Blog Hospitaller, excerpts from a very interesting book.
I will first report some quotations from the book, which I suggest you read very carefully.
“The purpose of Vatican II, in fact, sets it apart from any other Council, especially Trent and Vatican I. Its scope was not to give definitions, nor was it dogmatic or linked to dogma; it was pastoral. Thus based on its specific nature it was a pastoral Council.”
“In all truth Modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic…
.The new rite of Holy Mass practically silenced the nature of sacrifice making of it an occasion for gathering together the people of God…the eucharistic gathering was given the mere sense of sharing a meal together..
if someone were to ask me if, in the final analysis, the modernist corruption had hidden itself within the Council documents themselves, and if the Fathers themselves were more or less infected, I would have to respond both yes and no…But yes as well, because not a few pages of the conciliar documents reek of the writings and ideas of Modernism–this can be seen above all in GS.”
“Anyone who, in quoting it [VII], puts it on a par with Trent or Vatican I, and accredits to it a normative and binding force which it does not possess in itself, commits a crime and, in the final analysis, does not respect the Council itself.”
“Let me say immediately that not even a single dogmatic definition included in the intentions of LG or the other Vatican II documents. The Council–we do well not to forget this–could not have even proposed one since it had refused to follow along the lines traced out by other Councils…This means that none of its doctrines, unless ascribable to previous conciliar definitions, are infallible or unchangeable, nor are they even binding: he who denies them cannot, for this reason, be called a formal heretic.”
“[A] missionary conception of the Church now freed from any form of or temptation to proselytism…this type of ecumenism, unfortunately, found a license to legitimacy from the spirit of assisi, thanks to the ‘multi-religious’ meeting celebrated there…”
“How many times the very men, into whose hands Jesus had entrusted the sacred deposit of the Faith, solemnly and pompously said ‘no’ to this or that doctrine, like the Marian Coredemption, because otherwise it will prejudice ecumenical dialogue. It was as if to say, ‘There is no other truth or value besides ecumenical dialogue.’…”
“And if someone passed through that door to introduce into the Church a Liturgy subversive to the very nature and primary end of the Sacred Liturgy…the responsibility for this, in the final analysis, is none other than the conciliar text itself.”
[T]he Liturgy which systematically boycotted the versus Domino orientation, the sacredness of the rite, the sense of latria, the irreplaceable beauty of Gregorian chant, the solemnity of gestures and vestments, and kneeling…[was committed in a] boundless cult of man…”
“Vow! – I hear you say – Strong stuff! This must be a really angry SSPX bishop, or some sedevacantist nutcase”.
Wrong. All quotations are from Monsignor Brunero Gherardini’s “The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion”, translated by the Franciscans of the Immaculate from the Italian edition of March 25, 2009 and available from the “Academy of the Immaculate,” 124 North Forke, Advance, NC 27006. Ph. 1-888-906-2742.
In case you should ask, the blog informs us that Monsignor Gherardini is a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, a secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, a professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and the editor of Divinitas, a leading Roman theological journal. This is a man of the Vatican apparatus through and through.
I should comment now but no, I think Monsignor Gherardini said everything already.
Talking with friends about religious matters one is always astonished at the amount of shallowness and ignorance exhibited by many Catholics. This is the more shocking because these Catholic appear to be, more often than not, in good faith.
As always, one must point out to the tragedy of a Catholic instruction which is so deficient as to lack the very basics; and one can only hope, for the sake of the involved souls, that the priests in charge of instructing their sheep have not intentionally caused this abysmal ignorance (don’t ask me to bet on all of them, though).
Here I would like to shortly touch on one point: the relationship between Vatican II and doctrinal truths.
Whenever appropriate, Catholics must be told (in the office, within the larger family, among friends) that Vatican has not changed anything in the doctrinal apparatus of the Church, because Catholic doctrine doesn’t change.
It just doesn’t. It never could. It never will.
Vatican II couldn’t change anything in the doctrinal corpus of the Church because – besides the fact that V II was a purely pastoral council – such a thing just doesn’t exist in Catholicism.
The idea that V II might have changed the Church’s doctrine is profoundly heretical and the fact that such an extraordinary assertion may be made in good faith may – to a point, and given the circumstances – excuse the faithful who expresses it, but doesn’t make the expression less heretical.
Whenever a new document is issued by the Church, this document must always – and can only – be read in the light of Church doctrine. This is the only valid criterium of interpretation as far as doctrinal matters are concerned.
This must be well understood by everyone who deals with doctrinal matters. “This doctrinal point is not valid anymore because this or that encyclical has changed it” is pure Protestant thinking, not Catholicism. It is dead wrong, and it is utter heresy.
Encyclicals and other Vatican documents always make sense in light of the Church’s traditional teaching, and their sense is always to be searched in this light.
This is true even for the most dramatic cases of bad wording and shallow formulations. This is so true, that even Archbishop Lefebvre thought it fit to sign all of the Vatican II documents.
Please make this clear to your poorly instructed friends and acquaintances (of which, I am sure, you have as many as I do) whenever appropriate.
I have posted today about a beautiful blog post from Gerald Warner, the intrepid “Telegraph” blogger.
In two words, Warner lucidly recognises in the mess of Vatican II the origin of the properly called homosexual paedophile priest scandal. As he very fittingly puts it,
“once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily”.
Warner is also of the opinion that 95% of Catholic bishops worldwide deserve the sack and when you read here you’ll soon know why.
This contribution of another excellent Catholic blogger, Chris Gillibrand, points our attention to a recent homily from the Bishop of Menevia, Tom Burns.
Bishop Burns must deal with the very uncomfortable reality of the homosexual paedophile priest scandal. Besides being his job, the starting point is not different from Gerald Warner’s one. But Bishop Burns is a bishop interested in talking Vatican-II-ese and he can therefore not afford the luxury to look at reality as it is. He reacts by denying reality and apportioning the blame somewhere else, namely where it is convenient to him. I think this is what is called “cognitive dissonance”, but I might be wrong.
In Bishop’s Burns widely warped world, the (homosexual, though he obviously wouldn’t say so) paedophile priest scandal has been caused by clericalism; this is, says the Webster’s dictionary, “a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy”.
You won’t be criticised by me for maintaining that this already shows a remarkable degree of blindness, but it gets better than this. Bishop Burns’ target is not a generic clericalism, but is alarmingly similar to Catholic conservatism. In his own words,
Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.
Make no mistake: “flamboyant vestments” here are the traditional ones, not the clown mass ones and the entire statement is a clear linking of conservative Catholicism and (homosexual) paedophile scandal. In Bishop Burn’s vision, the respect traditionally associated with the figure of the priest and the pomp and circumstance linked with traditional Catholic practice has been the enabler of the scandal. He sees in this a structural problem and in those who want to restore these traditional element people who collude with the relevant abuses.
I will refrain, out of respect for the habit, from saying what I think of the man as a Bishop. I will limit myself to say that the poor man sees an elephant in the porcelain shop making a mess of everything and says that the culprits are the porcelain makers.
This Bishop is a serious candidate for what in Italy would be jokingly called “Mongolino d’Oro 2010”. I won’t translate what it means because, as so many Italian expressions, it is deliciously politically incorrect and, as such, not fitting for delicate Anglo-Saxon ears.
This must be one of the most brilliant Voris contributions ever*.
The general tone and message of the short video (the very Catholic idea that every one of us is naturally headed for damnation, with Christ’s sacrifice opening us a door to Redemption, but a door which we must still consciously get through; or – to use the even more fitting Voris’ image – that we are in a pit of sin and prospective damnation with Christ tending us a hand that we need to grasp and hold to if we want our soul to be saved) must sound utterly shocking to the modern “everything goes”, “heart in the right place”, “let us be nice to each other”, tofu-eating, permanently “celebrating”, “inclusive” brigade. It will be, in fact, rather fun to observe, in the next days, the comments about this video and the astonished reactions of people confronted, perhaps for the first time in their life, with something different from the usual “isn’t it incredibly cool that we are all going to be saved”-mantra all too often heard from the permanently smiling priest down the road.
Voris is good because, among other things, he constantly works at the demolition of the sugary image of Catholicism held by so many poorly instructed Catholics nowadays; the vague idea that Jesus be an older version of Mahatma Ghandi with some trait of Nelson Mandela thrown in, or that Christianity be a simple way to “celebrate whatever each one of us feels like doing” whilst feeling so “inclusive” and “tolerant” in the process.
“I’ll do as I please, you’ll do as you please, we’ll celebrate each other and feel rather smug by doing it” seems to be the unspoken slogan of such “Catholics”. The fact that some of them might even be in (some sort of) good faith only exposes the criminal neglect of the very fundamentals of Catholic instruction initiated by the pot fest called Second Vatican Council and the heavy drugs phase called Spirit of Vatican II.
As the detoxification progresses and the Church becomes more and more aware of the extent of the damage inflicted to Her body by decades of unspeakable wreckage of all that is authentically Catholic, it is good that those like Voris help the faithful to gain consciousness of the extent of the fundamental problem of the human condition.
When one properly understands the concept, one realises that the Church’s troubles are but its consequence. Conversely, unless one understands the fundamental sinfulness of the human condition it will be very difficult for him to look at the problems within the Church and put them into the proper context. If he is sooo good and surely meant for Heaven, how can the Church be so much below his own standard?
Let us hope and pray that this is the last generation of Catholics thinking that Jesus was “like, cool” and the Church “bad, man”.
*as always, free registration might be needed. Do yourself a favour and get through the procedure; you won’t regret it.
A beautiful article (of some time ago, but that has lost nothing of its actuality) on the “Remnant”. Its leitmotiv is a funny comparison with the bees who become more aggressive when they sense that their life is slowly turning to an end. A bit the same is happening, says the author Brian McCall, with the modernists within the Church: as they get more desperate, they get more aggressive and like the bees they don’t get younger, either. In short, they know that the Modernist show is soon going to be terminated because of natural death of the paying public and don’t like it a bit.
Another funny image of the article follows the remark that Kueng clearly recognises the malaise within the Church, but stubbornly insists in refusing to identify the causes. “His call to arms” writes McCall “reads like a doctor diagnosing a patient with malaria who then prescribes an injection of more live malaria to cure him”. And in truth it needs all the delusion of an ageing Modernist to attribute 50 years of declining Church attendance to the Vatican…… not being “progressive” enough. Therefore,
Like the bees […] the Modernist insects that have been swarming since the false Spring have begun to sense their mortality. They still dominate the hive, of course, but seem to recognize their hour is at hand. They are lashing out in desperation.
As to what will happen, the author writes:
Who are the beekeepers approaching to clear the hives? […] Küng identifies two of them: The Mass of All Ages and the Society of St. Pius X.
I agree only partially with that as it seems to me that the realisation of the mess produced by the Vatican II – and even more by the dissent and “spirit of V II” allowed to spread afterwards – is in my eyes not something to be directly attributed to the Latin Mass or the SSPX: rather, I’d say that the progressive sobering up of the Vatican hierarchy after the big booze of Vatican II preceded the factual reinstatement of the Tridentine Mass and the (factual, if yet incomplete) rehabilitation of the SSPX. Still, one must recognise that once the Church has finally sobered up, Catholics will look back and say that the process has been if not caused, certainly encouraged by the courageous witness of the SSPX.
I’d like to close this entry with McCall’s beautiful quotation from a dire prediction of the “Pastor Angelicus” Pius XII, whose suffering and prophetic words were pronounced, as the author himself says, “when Küng was a boy in Lederhosen, too young to yodel”:
I am concerned about the confidences of the Virgin to the little Lucia of Fatima. The persistence of the Good Lady in face of the danger that threatens the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that the modification of the Faith, liturgy, theology, and soul of the Church would represent.
I hear around me partisans of novelties who want to demolish the Holy Sanctuary, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her adornments, and make her remorseful for her historical past. Well, my dear friend, I am convinced that the Church of Peter must affirm her past, or else she will dig her own tomb.”
Beautiful words from a wonderful Pope whose greatness the Church has all too willingly ignored just a few years after his death.
As they say in Italy, “Time is an honourable man”.
Father Z has posted a link to this very interesting blog about Mass attendance and more specifically the attitude of many priests toward it. The blog is very good, his author possesses that mix of saying it straight but not being overtly controversial which is the mark of the excellent priest.
I was particularly caught by the author’s opinion that “the eucharist is all-important to most every priest” but at the same time “the element of obligation strikes many priests as well as their parishioners as an outdated and immature notion”. I find it a remarkable exercise in mental gymnastics to understand the first but manage not to understand the second. It is every bit like saying that one fully believes in Patriotism but considers desertion an acceptable option.
For a priest, the aggravating circumstance is added that the very first of the “precepts of the Church” is “to hear Mass on Sundays and on holidays of obligation”. Of all people, a priest should know. It is indicative of the times that many priests just do not get elementary facts like the precepts of the Church. I am tempted to blame the horrible formation in the seminaries (which certainly plays a role), but I do not think that this is the whole truth.
In my experience, at the root of the fact that many priests do not stress fundamental truths of Catholic life is another element: cowardice. This I found, in my experience with priests during my younger years, to be the dominant feature of the category. The assertive and fearless priests were something I had only read about (say: Father Brown) or seen on TV (say: the unforgettable Don Camillo); until very recent years, when by the grace of God the contact with the Brompton Oratory finally put me in contact with the reality of priests not afraid to say it straight.
I blame this collective cowardice for the decline in Mass attendance and, unavoidably, the decline in the feeling of Christian values in the West.
If you think it too hard to tell people that they must attend Mass, it is only a matter of time until many of them skip Mass because they must do something else. If people start skipping Mass more and more often, the constant exposure to Catholic doctrine will slowly but surely fade away. When this happens, “alternative religions” will, in time, start taking form in their brains and extraordinary assertions like “I am a Catholic, but….” (insert here some disagreement with a point of doctrine) are going to be the consequence. At this point Catholicism doesn’t shape the faithful’s life anymore, but it is shaped by it. Say hello to cafeteria Catholicism.
The total failure of Catholicism in stemming the tide of secularism in the West is the result of the total failure of the Clergy in properly transmitting Catholic values. Bad teachers create poorly prepared students, teachers who do not even insist on class attendance create catastrophically prepared ones. At the root of this is the desire to be “liked”, not to be in conflict with the world, not to be considered “uncharitable”, “reactionary”, “backward”. Say it in one word: at the root of this is cowardice.
I do am hopeful, though. The seminaries are slowly producing a better clergy, more orthodox and more assertive; the public opinion is starting to react (witness the strong opposition to euthanasia in Italy or the bitter polemics in Spain); the future generation of priests will produce a better generation of faithful in the pews and from there to the ballot the step is very short. But we need our priests to tell it straight. We need to recover old values, re-appropriate orthodoxy, rediscover our religious and cultural roots savaged by Vatican II.
Starting from Mass attendance.
I have examined here the traditional understanding of the theological virtue of faith as based on the intellect.
This has changed after Vatican II, when faith started to be presented more and more as something:
1) emotional; pertaining to our world of feelings rather than asking us for serious intellectual work, and
2) consisting in a process rather than in a result, or to use Amerio’s words in a tending rather than a knowing.
Please read what the French Bishops published in 1968 because what they have to say is indicative of so much that has been taught afterwards:
“For a long time faith has been presented as an adherence of the intellect, enlightened by grace and supported by the word of God. Today […] faith is presented as an adherence of one’s whole being to the person of Jesus Christ. It is an act of life and not only simply intellectual, an act addressed to a person and not only to a theoretical truth”
Note here that the Bishops start with a brilliant definition of faith as it has traditionally been taught; but then, they proceed to say that… henceforward they’ll do it better! What follows is an emotional flight which is not faith anymore, but rather the fruit of a confusion of faith with hope and charity.
When the Bishops say that faith is an “act of life”, they are confusing it with hope. When they talk of adherence to the person of Jesus, they are confusing it with charity. When they say that it is not simply intellectual, they ignore what faith as a theological virtue is. When they say that something is “simply a theoretical truth”, they ignore what Truth is and launch themselves into a sugary, emotional flight with no intellectual content instead. Truth is truth and is not less true because it is an intellectual one; to downplay it as “simply a theoretical truth” is an emotionally charged and, I dare say, effeminate view of things.
Or take the words of Cardinal Garrone in 1968:
In the last century theologians had been led to affirm the capacity of human reason to prove the existence of God. [..] Theologians have abandoned God in the hands of the philosophers. […] We must recognise that we made a mistake, because we have asked of philosophy what it could not give…
Again, look at the mentality clearly emerging here. Faith as an intellectual process leading to intellectual certainties is not even downplayed, but even discarded. “We have made a mistake”, says the chap happily pretending to forget that what he calls “mistake” is traditional Church teaching and has been solemnly proclaimed by the First Vatican Council. He simply discards the role of the intellect in giving proof of the existence of God.
With what does Cardinal Garrone then substitute the intellectual work of getting to God, attaining the Truth? With the usual sugary, sentimental, emotional and frankly not all too meaning series of slogans:
We must discover the attributes of God, not the abstract ideas of philosophy but the names, the true names of God. Our mission is to preach the faith, not ideas.
Intellectual truths are dismissed as “abstract ideas of philosophy”. Faith is now considered some very vague “discovering” (again: a process, a tending) rather than getting to the truth and staying solidly rooted in it.
Notice the strongly emotional language which doesn’t mean much in itself (“discover the attributes of God” is a vaguely blasphemous soundbite, as if the Church wouldn’t possess the truth about God already) but does sound oh so pure and piously striving. Let us say it once again: Cardinal Garrone was here so enamoured with his own “discovering” that he was evidently willing to discard traditional Catholic teaching – and the clear statements of the First Vatican Council – and to feed the masses with an emotional and very sugary soup instead; “we want to preach the faith, not ideas” very well describes this brainless but good sounding emotionalism.
In the following years, things didn’t get better. Who was the last priest telling you that faith as a theological virtue is based on the intellect? Who was the last priest telling you that God can be reached already on an intellectual plane? How often have you heard, instead, a mishmash of concepts mixing faith, hope and charity and rather discarding the intellectual knowing in order to privilege the searching, the tending, the process, the “feeling”?
If sound teaching is discarded it is no surprise that unorthodox ideas and currents start to pervade the life of the Church. If approximation and superficiality take the place of sound reasoning it is no surprise that all kind of nonsense is confused with correct teaching. If emotions are allowed to shut down the intellectual process it is no surprise that these emotions lead to the most extraordinary consequences.
It is high time to recover sound teaching on the matter of the theological virtues, explaining what they are and keeping them well separated. Without this there will be no proper understanding and without proper understanding there will be no orthodoxy.
One of the poisoned fruits of Vatican II is the watering down of the faith. This has happened because after Vatican II the Church has stopped teaching what faith is in the correct but technical way used in the past, and has started talking of faith in more “emotional” terms instead. This entry deals with the correct understanding of the theological virtue of faith as adherence of the intellect to revealed truth. A separate entry will be devoted to the purely emotional, “searching” approach all too often taught after Vatican II.
Faith as a theological virtue is nothing to do with emotions. It is not something you attain by crying hysterically and waving your arms in the air. Faith as theological virtue is a process taking place exclusively in your intellect.
We can see it as a process by which the will is the starter. To acquire faith, one must want it. This is where agnostics and atheists already stop.
If one is willing to acquire faith, then a purely intellectual process starts. By this process a man will know and recognise that his intellect is limited; he will then proceed to use the limited means he has at his disposal and will examine the objective, historic truth of the existence of Jesus; he will examine and persuade himself intellectually of the historical truth that the Old Testament announced and promised the arrival of the Messiah and provided a great number of ways to recognise Him when he would come; he will – always rationally, no waving of arms in sight 😉 – acknowledge that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and is, beyond doubt, the Messiah who was announced; continuing, he will grasp the very simple truth that this Messiah claimed to be God and will therefore conclude that if it is true that He was the Messiah announced by the Old Testament (which he undoubtedly is, according to pure historically recorded facts) than he must, rationally, be God as He says he is.
Here, the faithful arrives to the first great finishing post: he has grasped the existence of God (and of the God of the Scriptures, not of any other system of belief) due to the work of his intellect, supported by his will. But what is paramount here is the intellect, the will is merely what persuades a man to use his god-given intellect in the first place.
This is a traditional mainstay of Catholic teaching, which the First Vatican Council has beautifully and solemnly expressed with these words:
The one true God, Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason
Notice the words: Known with certainty, not felt with certainty.
This is obviously not the end of the journey yet. The intellect has now reached the knowledge of the existence of the One True God of the Scriptures. It has learnt, understood, drawn the conclusions, attained the relevant knowledge. But this intellectual knowledge can never grasp supernatural truths. It cannot grasp the Trinity, it cannot truly understand a God who is All Divine and All Human, it cannot reach an intellectual proof of the existence of the Real Presence, and so on.
To grasp supernatural truths something additional is necessary: a supernatural virtue (also called faith) given by the grace of God. Through the God-given grace of faith, man is given a powerful tool to go beyond his own intellect and, building on the certainties he has acquired intellectually, believe in supernatural truths beyond his intellect’s grasp.
Still, even the supernatural grace of faith is not an emotional process. It is given by God, but it is always firmly rooted in reason, not in emotions or feelings. Faith is based in the intellectual process, because through the intellect I know that the supernatural truths are not in contrast with reason.
Seek, and you shall find. Exercise your will to activate your intellect to attain the Truth, and the supernatural grace of Faith will carry you even in those supernatural regions where your intellect alone cannot carry you anymore.
This is the traditional way to understand faith. No emotionalism. You take a fundamental decision that you want to attain faith; you do your homework, learn the facts, persuade yourself of the existence of God purely in light of your reason; then God’s grace intervenes and after your will has started your intellectual engine and your intellectual engine has caused your car to drive as fast as it can, faith gives your car a pair of wings and allows you to fly. At this point your faith is very strong; it is, as St. Paul says, “evidence of things not seen”.
The contrast with today’s shallow teaching (when there is a teaching in the first place) is striking, but the exam of post-Vatican II approximations and emotionalism is for another entry.