I read around various posts more or less based on the fact that the degeneration (in all possible meanings) of the Church in the last 50 years is not (necessarily) due to V II, but to the changing times and the particularly hard challenges that came with it.
One would be tempted to say “yes and no” but, really, I think the answer is “no”.
Clearly, the world emerged from WWII posed great challenges to the Church. An explosion of unprecedented welfare challenged the traditional basis of society, based on charity and hope rather than on social services and long life expectancy. On the other hand, another unprecedented phenomenon took place: an entire generation grew up with a degree of instruction – at least in the traditional way instruction is measured – vastly superior to that of their parents, and as a result felt authorised to challenge their parent’s teaching in matter of religion in the same way as they challenged them in the many little ways in which a better educated person can show the less educated the error of his way. In societies traditionally based on transmission of traditional values – among which the obedience to the parents, and the awe in front of the wisdom of the elder were paramount – this had to become a powerful threat to traditional religious wisdom.
But this is only one part of the equation and is a bit – leaving political correctness aside, which I love doing – like saying that the explosion of obesity is due to the expansion of McDonald’s. With all due respect, McDonald’s never made fat anyone; fat people make themselves fat. Similarly, cars and wealth never stabbed the Church; the Church stabbed herself.
The difference between good and bad Popes, bishops and priests is not in whether they have challenges. Of course they will. The difference is seen in how they react to them. As long as he was alive (and particularly so, when he was healthy), Pope Pius XII had the situation fully under control. He could not make a trial to intentions of course, and the voices of ferments and strange thinking coming to him from various corners could not be fought more energetically than he did, considering they did not come out in the open, challenging the status quo.
But the corpse of the great Pope was, metaphorically speaking, not entirely cold that great “changes” were already planned, and clearly the modernists saw their hour coming. Still, they are not the primary cause of the mess. They were there before. The primary cause of the mess is in the people who allowed them to come out with their own subversive ideas (less so during the council; much more so after it) and these people are mainly two: Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Blaming the heretics for their undisturbed march is like blaming the mice for the infestation. I’d give a hard look at the cat.
I also know – from unimpeachable testimony of many relatives – that the Italy of the Fifties, growing in prosperity like it’s going out of fashion, also experienced a great rigidity in matter of mores, actually a much bigger rigidity than the one commonly experienced during Fascism. This is further proof growing economic security does not have to translate into moral relaxation, if there are at the helm people strong enough to understand the times and act accordingly.
The great tragedy – and unredeemable construction fault – of Vatican II consists in exactly this: that, having seen the evil coming from the new times, it chose to embrace them, in the very stupid assumption that to embrace the world means to make it more like you, whereas at the very moment they decided themselves for the embrace they had already decided they wanted to become like it.
All the tragedies that ensued derived from this fundamental initial mistake: the liturgical and spiritual atrocities of the “spirit of V II” would have never had a chance, if it had not been absolutely truethat VII ushered a spirit – not necessarily and not so openly in the official documents, mind; but in the air these documents allowed, nay, demanded to breathe – of revolutionary change. Without this “encouragement”, the “spirit of V II” would have had no more chances of sweeping the Catholic world than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
V II and its aftermath both happened, because they were wanted and the idea of the “spirit” of V II suddenly appearing as if brought by the stork and surprising everyone is naive to the utmost. Ex nihilo nihil.
It is, therefore, clear the societal changes did pose a problem and, admittedly, a rather large one. But the great damage was not made by the problem, but by the Vatican not only ceasing to fight against the problem, but becoming part of it. Think of the cat selling out and declaring that from now on there will be no enmity between the mice and him.
Fifty years later the mice are everywhere, but astonishingly so many people keep saying the cat was misunderstood, or is surrounded by wolves, or must be oh so prudent because if he angers the mice there might be… an infestation.
Unfortunately, there is no brilliant mind out there able to act in an effective, practical way. Not only there is no “Top Cat” in sight, but if we stay to the practical decisions we are very far even from the passion and zeal of Sylvester The Cat.
It will change one day of course, as we know the Gates of Hell will not prevail.
But I’d prepare myself for a long wait.
Can you imagine one of those very dangerous dogs looking at you in a threatening way whilst the scared owner says her dear animal is not dangerous?
I had to think of such episodes when I read this article; which, though it reports positive news in itself, is merely another attempt to avoid looking at reality as it is and to continue with the rather amusing tale of the “unilateral interpretations” of the Vatican II.
Vatican II has – as it is now gradually but irresistibly acknowledged – been followed by countless such “misinterpretations” but, strangely, none of these should now be traced back to the Council as their real cause. The logical fallacy of the argument appears instantly clear is we reflect that these misinterpretations held sway within the Church for decades for no other reason than because they were the logic continuation of the mentality and ideology of the Council.
The only alternative to this conclusion is the admission Vatican II caused some kind of drugged stupor in thousands of Bishops, leading them to oversee the accumulation of “misinterpretations” and overheard the voices of sensible Catholics warning about the dangers.
I can’t wait for the time we will be told it was a “misinterpretation” of the Council which led to the isolation of and open hostility towards the SSPX, at the point of forcing Archbishop Lefebvre to appoint four bishops to avoid his order to be eaten alive after his death. Of course, when we are told this we will continue to hear the same mantra: V II in itself was good, it is merely everything that happened all over Catholicism because of it that wasn’t. This sounds to me a lot like saying that Mein Kampf wasn’t bad, but was merely misinterpreted from 1933 onwards.
You can say that the link between Nazism and Mein Kampf is far stronger than the link between V II and the devastations that happened afterwards; but I would heartily disagree, exactly because the Council was called as justification for every single one of these devastations, bar none, and all this was accepted and approved by the official Church as a body for the very same reason. In case, then, you should be shocked at the comparison in itself, please note V II has damaged the Church far more than Mein Kampf ever did; the enemy within will always be more insidious than the one without.
V II can be safely compared to a vicious dog, who has gone on massacring everything in his sight for decades and of whom we are now told he just wanted to play.
Hopefully, Pope Benedict will be seen by history as the last Pontiff still trying to defend the indefensible.
We live, thankfully, in times when Catholicism is giving timid but clear signs of recovery. The Internet was, if you ask me, the starter engine of such movement. The Internet allowed more and more people to understand that they are not alone and that the dumbing down of Catholicism and its reduction to a bunch of slogans for kindergarten children caused suffering to many others.
The rest came from there; the amount of books available, and of traditional Catholic sources directly on the internet, would have been inconceivable only a few years before. If you were born in Italy or France or Germany a couple of dozen years ago, either you were really angry or the mainstream outlets (the popular book stores, and so on) would not have given you any alternative to the blandness and effeminacy of the Vatican II/Assisi/pacifist/social justice crowd.
The Internet changed all this, and with the increase in conservative Catholicism came a wave of reprints. Fulton Sheen, Ronald Knox and many others were made available again, and today your kindle (a wonderful invention, Kindle) would allow you to store more Catholic knowledge than most wealthy Catholic would have in their libraries in centuries past, effortless and at low-cost. You can bet your pint the process will continue, and will continue to change the way the common Catholic sees the Church.
Still, it was not always so. Think of what it must have been for a middle-aged person in the Sixties to be surprised by such a tsunami of changes. To them, it must not have seemed a momentary folly. To them – particularly if not robustly educated; probably even in that case – it must have seemed irreversible. The Church itself said to them – in all possible ways – that the Church had changed, and this showed everywhere, not only in the Mass but in the mentality, the demeanour, even the clothes of the priest, the robust wine of salvation now substituted for a bland soft drink smelling, mainly, of sugar.
How difficult it must have been for those who have decided they wouldn’t stand for it. A tiny minority, derided and insulted, considered obsolete dreamers in their dotage, unable to see the luminous new path the Holy Spirit would – obviously changing his mind, but laissons tomber – now show to the renewed Church.
I think here not only of the few religious who had the gut to say “no” to the madness (Archbishop Lefebvre obviously comes to mind; but let us not forget staunchly conservative churchmen like the Abbe’ de Nantes, and the monasteries who simply refused to obey to the diktat of “change”), but particularly of the laymen. Romano Amerio was vilified and mocked for a book now read all over the world, and whilst all around him priests were surrounded by guitars it must have been very bitter to see two thousand years of Christianity almost crumble under a wave of such immense stupidity.
I also think of the many old people who were literally overcome – or I should say: run over – by the tidal wave of “change” of the Sixties and Seventies; old, frail, often poor people for whom their simple faith was the main comfort in their last years, and trying to march toward salvation in the company of accustomed values, and rites. How they must have suffered!
If they were alive today, they would at least know that the counter-charge has now started and will soon be in full swing. They would look into the future and see hope of improvement; nay, they would see improvement is in time unavoidable. But how could they in those dark years, when the “renewal” was imposed on them by the same priests who assured the Holy Ghost was tirelessly working on the destruction of all they held dear!?
They are, of course, all gone now. Gone is Archbishop Lefebvre, gone is the Abbe’ de Nantes, gone is Rosario Amerio, gone are all those old people I imagine crying in their kitchen after hearing the guitars at mass. I think of them, and cry. A person can cope with a lot, if he has faith. Think how many of them had gone with as much serenity as they can – and as much faith as they could muster – through wars and loss of their most beloved ones, even in the hardest moment resting against the wall of their faith. Picture them now in their Seventies, with their religious system and philosophy of life put upside down, and restless adolescents with long, unwashed hair and jeans strumming their guitars in the church under the approving eye of the young, not-so-manly priest.
It was a huge shock for me the first time I heard guitars in the church, and I was only ten years old. For a seventy years old, it must have been the end of the world as we know it.
The unsung heroes are now being vindicated. The public figures are rising high in the consideration of the posterity after having been derided by their contemporaries. The common people are, at least, pitied in their suffering they were, were probably, not even allowed to utter.
Dear reader, every now and then, please think of for the old couple who was crying in the kitchen; of the war widow informed there would be no vespers anymore as apparently the Holy Ghost doesn’t like that now; of the old woman who lost her boy in the war and was told Mass would now be in English, with a chap talking to the congregation as if he was their pub buddy; and with the guitars, the guitars! Think of the old scholars vilified like Romano Amerio, and the old churchmen belittled or even excommunicated.
When you can, please say a prayer for the unsung heroes.
I have written a blog post about Pope Benedict’s words concerning the Heresy in Austria.
On the same occasion, though, the Pontiff expressed himself about Vatican II in a way I feel obliged to comment upon. Those who think a Catholic blogger should not comment on Pope’s declarations other than in the most subservient of terms can click away now.
The Holy Father is at this point talking about the Austrian heresy, and asks the rhetorical question whether orthodoxy does not bring to unintended or unwholesome consequences. His words are as follows (emphases mine):
Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.
The thinking here, as I understand it, is as follows: if we remain orthodox we are not going to generate inertia and fossilisation (British English spelling on my blog, thanks…). This is proved by Vatican II and the years that followed it, so rich in true spiritual renewal engendered by the Holy Spirit.
I must, respectfully, disagree on this. Whenever I look, I find Vatican II and the years that followed only brought devastation, which often took entirely expected forms of heresy, contributed to countless souls being lost, almost completely destroyed Catholicism’s cultural patrimony and traditions, almost completely killed catechesis, and left a spiritual wasteland on its trail.
If you ask me, the Pontiff’s words beautifully express, and I say this in the most respectful manner but also with no falseness, everything that is wrong with the Vatican today. There is, fifty years after the catastrophe started, still no desire to see what immense disaster was put in motion when Vatican II was started. On the contrary, there are desperate attempts to still try to portray it as something positive, as a phase of renewal. Vatican II (both in its weak, approval seeking and badly worded documents and in the mentality it engendered) was, as they say, wreckovation rather than renovation. It was an unmitigated failure, a stupid (no, let me reword it: stupid) attempt at self-destruction in a senseless quest for popularity and consensus, a disgraceful selling out to secular fashions.
The Pope who spoke the words mentioned above presides over a Catholic world whose members in their vast majority do not even to go Mass; who couldn’t tell you the Ten Commandments to save their lives; who have almost no notion of the works of mercy or of other mainstay of traditional Catholic thinking; who barely know what a Rosary, or a Vesper is; who have such a superficial notion of Catholicism that they couldn’t tell you where the differences with Protestants lie; who have such a superficial notion of Christianity that they couldn’t tell you why contraception is wrong, or premarital sex; who couldn’t formulate in a halfway acceptable way why the Church does not contemplate “women priests”; who know next to nothing about Catholic teaching on wealth, capital punishment, war; who couldn’t even tell you what Mass is, or what a sin is. My dear readers, I could go on for a long time, but this is everyday experience if you live in any but the most traditionally Catholic countries, at least in the West.
All this is the fruit of Vatican II. If the Church is alive today it is not because of Vatican II, but notwithstanding it. We see the Holy Spirit at work in the Church because we saw Vatican II trying to kill Her, and failing.
This Pontiff and the men he has around him are unable – or unwilling – to see all this. They are unable to see the Vatican II “experiment” has failed, and has failed miserably. They are unable to see that it had to fail, because it was unCatholic from the start. Instead, we are dished the same rhetoric we have been fed for the last fifty years. At this point, every defence of Vatican II seriously reminds me of a North Korean PR exercise.
The long and painful, but necessary work of disintoxication from Vatican II will not start with this pontificate, possibly not even with the next. But it will come one day, and on that day Catholicism will finally behold the horror, and the immense stupidity, of it all and look back in shame at not one, but several generations of Churchmen abetting such devastation of Catholic patrimony.
I have, and no one of us conservative Catholic can have, the shadow of a doubt about the indefectibility of the Church, and the constant protection the Holy Ghost gives her.
We only have to look at Vatican II.
Rorate Caeli has an interesting excerpt from an interview to Bishop Slattery. Whilst the link to the original interview is given, I prefer to link to Rorate because it focuses on one issue: the liturgy, and this gives us an excellent starting point for wider considerations.
I am pleased that Bishop Slattery unites his voice to the ones of those who say that Vatican II has caused damage to the liturgy. What I would like to point out here is that I continue to see in his words the usual mentality by which the dirty water is defended and it is said that the baby was made dirty just because the dirty water was not used in the right way. Alas, if you wash a baby with dirty water you won’t clean him much.
Let us examine his words:
What we lost in a short period of time was continuity. The new liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church. Changes, like turning the altar around, were too sudden and too radical. There is nothing in the Vatican II documents that justifies such changes.
Reading this phrase, one has the impression that – bluntly speaking – some asteroid had fallen from the skies, suddenly causing the end of the liturgical continuity; that the “radical changes” were something which surprised the church hierarchy rather than being tolerated and/or promoted by them; and that everything that happened after Vatican II has to do with anything at all, besides.. Vatican II.
This idea of all the problem of Vatican II not originating in Vatican II is made more clear in another observation:
it was not a wise decision to do away with Latin in the Mass. How that happened, I don’t know; but the fathers of the Council never intended us to drop Latin.
The bishop “doesn’t know” how Latin was massacred. Well, I can tell him how it was: it was because those very same conciliar fathers who didn’t touch Latin during the works set up to its destruction as soon as the official works were finished.; it was because revolutions are seldom proclaimed officially, rather they explode when those who wanted half-revolutions fail to either see the danger, or lack the will to fight against it; it was because V II set a process in motion that made its interruption unacceptable, nay, unthinkable. It was because the clergy at all levels (from Pope Paul VI down) preferred to “go with the flow” rather than to order an end to the madness.
To say that Vatican II was right and the devastation that followed was wrong is the same as to say that Castro was right and Castroism wrong, or Lenin right and Stalin wrong; it is an indication of that particular blindness that doesn’t see the evil causes, but only condemns the evil effects; it reminds one of the girl who indulges in premarital sex and upon discovering her pregnancy says, with the bishop: “How that happened, I don’t know”.
I personally find this insisted defense of the indefensible increasingly embarrassing, as if it were possible to consider Vatican II as if it had taken place in a bubble and without giving a single thought to why it was called to life in the first place, which was the cultural climate in which it started, what happened during the works and which were the unavoidable consequences of the events. Nor can it be said that the consequences of Vatican II on the Catholic world were not visible, or that it would not have been possible to foresee them. Archbishop Lefebvre and many others – even near to the top, as theOttaviani intervention proves – could very well see where all this was leading to. But really, Lefebvre & Co. weren’t the only ones: everyone could see, but most among the clergy liked what they were seeing, or conveniently chose to look away.
If you ask me, the problem with Vatican II is Vatican II; and if you ask me, until this is honestly acknowledged we will continue to wash the baby with dirty water.
On the 27 September, the Holy Father issued a new motu proprio, Quaerit Semper.
Beside some decisions in matters of ordination et alia, the key passage of the document appears to be the following one:
“In these circumstances, it appeared adequate that the work of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments be dedicated essentially [potissimum] to a resumption of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church, according to the renewal that the Second Vatican Council desired, beginning with the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium.”
What this means is that the Congregation for Divine Worship will be relieved of secondary duties and be allowed to concentrate on the reason why it exists, namely: the Liturgy and discipline of the Sacraments.
This being still a post-Vatican II Church – for how long, it’s anyone’s guess – the invariable mention of Vatican II and of the supposed “renewal” couldn’t fail to make its appearance; the Holy Father seems persuaded that Vatican II wanted a “good renewal”, but for some reason (the locusts? Black cats crossing the street? The Conciliar Fathers? The “renewal” mentality which originated the very same V II?) “good renewal” lost itself and his place was taken by his evil twin, “bad renewal”. A bit like Gorbachev saying that the October Revolution wanted a “good communism”, but hey, it got lost on the way so they ended up with Stalin.
Be it as it may, what is important to us is that, V II rhetoric aside, the Liturgy is supposed to be made more similar to the way it was, and the reform of the reform continues as repair work.
Being sanguine by nature, I do not doubt that the following decades will see the total abandonment of the V II rhetoric, a sober realisation of the errors unavoidably born from the very mentality that engendered it, and the substitution of the Gorbachevian interpretation with the restoration of what has worked so well for so many centuries.
For the time being, I think we should be glad that the dismantling of the mistakes engendered by V-II continues with noticeable energy, and might even intensify in the near future.
“The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of ‘superdogma’ which takes away the importance of all the rest.”
These words, pronounced by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988, are the starting point of an interesting blog post on Rorate Caeli, centred on the end of the myth of the Religion of V II.
Whilst I disagree with the author’s point that “from now on, one may be of the Church without holding on to the controversial points of Vatican II ” (this has clearly always been the case, with the exception of liberal nutcases and outright heretics), it can’t be put into question that the climate which tended to define the Church as shaped in the image of V II (rather than in the image of the authentic Magisterium she is there to transmit and defend) is becoming less and less perceptible; this process of awakening is now taking momentum,
And voices rise up in Italy denouncing the spirit of the Council, which has not let fresh air in, but rather a freezing gust. These voices are those of a Monsignor Gherardini and of the author of his preface, Bishop Oliveri. Those of a Roberto de Mattei or of a Bishop Schneider. All take up their pens and do not hesitate to openly demand that the taboo of the Council be finally shattered.
Let us give some little contribution to the shattering, then.
I often use the image of the hangover, as it seems to me that Vatican II was a drunken orgy of cult of the youth (still present in today’s clergy, if a french bishop can still today say something as unbelievably stupid as “that he felt forced to bow to this movement [SSPX], because the youth was present in it”) and obsession with being loved and making everyone feel comfortable. Not even fifty years later, a great headache has taken the place of the drunken euphoria and, slowly but surely, clarity is coming back.
It will be some time before sobriety is fully recovered; but when that happens, all V II-generated interpretative “innovations” will be annihilated.
When you read the V II documents from a doctrinal point of view (not talking of the pastoral aspects here), you can only find statements of two kinds:
1) those who are undoubtedly in line with what the Church has always believed.
2) those who seem to introduce novelties in the way the Church lives and interprets what she has always believed.
Number 2 is a logical fallacy, and was the effect of pastoral drunkenness. A drunk person may think that he is reasoning lucidly, but he isn’t. He may think that his reasoning is even brilliant, but what he says is either obvious and as such no novelty, or believed to be some genial novelty but, in fact, stupid.
When the drunken man has come back to reality, he will see with a newly regained clarity that a sober man cannot reinvent or redefine reality, or truth. Truth was exactly as true when he was drunk as it is now that he is sober. His drunkenness can, in fact, never modify an iota of truth. It just can’t, because this is not the way truth works. At that point, the sober man will recognise that his talking of the evening before was a mixture of things that were logical in themselves – as they have always been, and always will be – and drunken blabber fruit of a skewed perception of reality.
Vatican II can never change, nor could it ever change, nor will it ever be able to change, Truth. Not an iota of it. This is as true today as it was in 1968 or in 1972, because truth is unchangeable, not negotiable and not subject to modifications due to one’s state of sobriety or otherwise.
Therefore – and I think that at the SSPX this will easily be accepted by most – a criticism of Vatican II can never be a criticism of the immutable truths Vatican II reflected, exactly in the same way as a drunken man who says that two and two is four is no less right because he is drunk.
The Golden Calf of V II is being destroyed under everyone’s eyes, and in such a way that no one will be able to pretend he didn’t notice it. It will take time, but it will happen.
Say goodbye to the Cult of V II.
An old priest sits on a bench in his garden, and thinks about the past. It seems like yesterday. A “nuChurch” was being born, and there was a widespread hope that this new approach to things would cause the Catholic faith to expand everywhere, facilitate reconciliation with non-Catholics, and increase the number of vocations. Guitars were being strummed, and tambourines beaten to the rhythm of the new times.
He was then starting his priestly activity. How proud he was of himself! He felt the epitome of the “modern priest”, so different was he from his old colleagues. He sees himself again, a young man devoid of any severity of demeanor, fully anti-authoritarian, concerned with social issues, friend of the people, friend – particularly – of the young. The young were, in those times, everywhere, the be all and end all. They were the bearer of a special wisdom, of a fresh, unquestionable truth. How proud was he to be one of them, a rebel like them in his own way; the bearer of a fresh wind, and of a new truth. How could anyone not be comfortable with such a chap? How could such a new priest not greatly help not only the cause of Catholicism, but the explosion of vocations? A priest in sweater and jeans…. what is nearer to the young than that? He felt in the middle of things, shaping a new world, shaping a new Church, making everything new. He thinks of himself in those time and a sudden question freezes him and causes him to shudder on his bench: where was heaven in all that?
He sees himself now, forty years later. He still wears sweater and jeans whenever he can, but he is now old and all that was natural in the past now feels increasingly uncomfortable, out of touch, even weird. The tambourines have started to become silent some years ago, and are now increasingly considered a ridiculous remnant of a very stupid past; and the guitars are so Seventies, only old people who were young in the times of “the Mamas and the Papas” can tolerate them in a church. He knows his parishioners, and knows who are the ones liking the guitars. They are the people like him, who were young in an era of mad, wild dreams and don’t want to awaken to the sobering reality of their utter and complete failure.
He reflects sadly on what everything has become, and must now admit that “nuPriest” was a spectacular fiasco. Many of his colleagues who got out of the seminaries in those years cannot even read Latin, let alone celebrate the old Mass. He can, but is afraid to. Many of his colleagues cannot, but don’t even want to. He sees them now with the eyes of the world outside, and realises that their refusal to come back to the past lets them appear such useless tools, such remnants of a past age of error, such ridiculous dotards as not even the old priests of his youth ever did. The sweater and jeans look increasingly more out of order to a growing number of his parishioners, particularly the younger he once so worshipped, and considered “the future”. The number of parishioners itself has been greatly reduced and consists now largely of grey-haired people; people who were young with him and have become old with him; like him, facing the smiles of the younger generation for whom a guitar in the church is a sacrilege, and a priest must be dressed correctly and according to the rules. The old people still want the guitars, poor souls, and he doesn’t want to embitter their last years. He is an old man, having patience with other old men and knowing that the young think the same of him: a relic of a past age of foolishness, a man whose retirement will be commented with half words of barely concealed satisfaction, and knowing smiles.
He reflects on the paradox of the “youth mania” of his young years. His generation, with its worship of everything young, should in fact be the first to admit failure now that the young clearly refuse their ways. It doesn’t happen, though, and those who were celebrating “the young people” in the Sixties and Seventies now seem to think that the young people are wrong, and the old people right; the same old people who have lived an entire life in the celebration and exaltation of youth. What an irony, and what a tragedy.
His ilk is dying. Not many young men followed the call for the “modern” priesthood. Worse still, a non indifferent number of those who did decided to do so for unspeakable motives, as the word started to go around that modern seminaries were a paradise for homosexuals, and an easy way to make a living whilst enjoying – if one was clever enough not to give scandal – impunity. He has known several of those priests, as they started to get a less and less infrequent appearance in the Seventies and Eighties. He knew, and he knew that they knew, and that they didn’t care of either him, or everyone else suspecting. Nuchurch allowed them to do so, provided they didn’t shout their perversion from the bell tower.
In time worse still emerged, with the explosion of cases of pedophilia, largely among those very same homosexuals who, having infiltrated the Church with one abomination, were now completing the devil’s work by humiliating her with another, even more terrible one. He felt humiliated, but he still couldn’t see the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. He didn’t realise that Satan will not stop half way, but will want the whole enchilada of abomination and perversion and destruction. He now does.
He used to be, and to be called, a “modern priest”; but he has now become old, in all possible meanings of the word. His model of “priesthood” is now considered obsolete and inefficient; not only is he aware of his being considered the same “methuselah” the young people of his generation accused old priests of being; worse still, he is aware of the ridicule now slowly but surely surrounding his way of doing things; a ridicule the old priests of his youth never had to fear, because they were surrounded by an authority he never claimed for himself. He belongs to an ilk who will die with his generation, and will be remembered as an unprecedented catastrophe.
In the meantime, he clearly sees the Church growing in another direction. In the evening of his life, he must acknowledge that those who grow and attract young people to the priesthood are those with a completely opposed model, those who want to create the same type of priest he wanted to destroy. Conservative orders are on the march, whilst those who don’t want to change (the Jesuits, the Franciscans) have transformed themselves in hospices for failed sixty-eighters, pathetic shadows of their former self, echoing a social, feminist message that even to him – a priest in sweater and jeans – now sounds so ridiculously shallow. Even those whom he used to call “schismatics” – with a certain joy, and feeling so superior, and thinking them a small bunch of nutcases soon to be cancelled by the sheer force of time – thrive. He has just learned that the FSSPX is building a new, much bigger seminary in the US as the old one can’t accommodate the explosion in vocations. If they had told him as much when the SSPX bishop were consecrated he would have laughed very loudly. He was just plain wrong. He was wrong all the time.
How things have changed! The SPPX doesn’t know where to put their seminarians, even if all those young priest can count with a certain suspension a divinis the day they are ordained. But they believe in what they do, that much he can clearly see. They do their thing with a conviction and sureness of purpose that he never had, with a faith he has started to lose a long time ago and is now uncertain and almost shameful, with the energy of those who want at all costs to repair to the damage the he, and his, have caused.
He is old now, and will soon retire. The young priest who will substitute him will be, that much he fully realises, very different from him. He will wear clerical garbs at all times, and perhaps even a cassock. He will stop every one of the post V II innovations he is still keeping; soon, there will be no EMHCs – two old ladies, bitter and petulant; he is almost glad at the thought of their displeasure, but then refrains and recites an hail mary for them -, no altar girls – other two old ladies, poisonous old feminists, worse than the first! – no modern hymns; obviously, no guitars; he himself let the tambourines go a long time ago, and the old parishioners complained……
The entire world he wanted to create, the entire church he wanted to re-shape is going to die, one innovation at a time. NuChurch is old, and tired. She looks ridiculous in the eyes of a growing number of faithful, and he knows these faithful are more Catholic than he ever, ever was.
His older parishioners, they don’t see that. They still buy the “Tablet” (that he never had the gut to take away, though he has been long embarrassed by it), wave their arthritic arms, sing their hymns with a feeble voice, desperately want to feel young, and to feel right. They don’t want to understand, and he has no courage to try to make them understand. He must admit to himself that he is too cowardly to tell them that they are all wrong, that they always were, that the whole “spirit of Vatican II” was a huge failure, that – as they have said all their lives – the youth are right, and the methuselahs are wrong.
He reflects on his conduct, and shudders. Is he being charitable, or is he being accessory to their sins? Will they go to hell? If they do, then…… – he will go with them! Most assuredly he will! He who has carefully avoided – even when he started to realise it himself – to tell them they were wrong, how will he be able to escape punishment? He, a priest, the first responsible for their souls!! He is terrified now, and can’t stop the tears.
He must change, that much he now realises. Whatever damage he has done in the past, he must do his best to undo it, even if only for a few months, or a couple of years. He must start to speak clarly, to speak Catholic, to speak….. like the old priests of his youth did! He will have to apologise, to say that in his effort to be charitable, he was being an accomplice. He will have to. He will start to talk of those things he always carefully avoided: the last four things; the works of mercy; the sins crying to heaven for vengeance; the Vesper; the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the Immaculate Heart of Mary; the Rosary…… – oh Lord, the Rosary!! How could he keep the Rosary from his sheep! And what has he given to them instead? Guitars, talk of social justice, and stupid hymns! He has told them to be nice to the milkman, and tolerant towards the grocer, and a friend of the environment!
The tears are unstoppable now, he almost can’t see when he gets up and runs to his bedroom, kneels in front of the picture of the Sacred Heart – the picture his old mother had given him; accepted from him as an act of patient kindness – and cries convulsively, shattered, now completely surrendered, wrecthed and miserable as he never felt in his life.
And there, kneeling and crying, he slowly feels the sweetness of his wretchedness, and the grace of his sorrow. He understands, whilst still crying, that his worst day is his best too. A new beginning has been given to him, a late repentance, a shot – nay, the last shot at redemption.
He continues to pray, more composed now. As he prays, he begins to see in front of him the new old priest he has now become, and the new parish he will now give shape to. He will ask for his retirement to be deferred and will start to do things properly, old altar “girls” or no old altar “girls”. They can cry and complain as much as they want. He knows that he has now stopped to be a coward, and that God’s grace has given him the gut to be a true shepherd.
He stands up; dries his tears; and smiles.
A parallelism has been made from some quarters between the usual strong opposition of the liberals to everything Vatican and justified with the “spirit of Vatican II” on the one side, and the fact that the new translation of the Mass will be implemented without major traumas (or better said, without overt opposition: how many priests will implement the new mass perfectly on time is another cup of tea) on the other side. The implication here is that the “spirit of Vatican II” is slowly going out of fashion.
I would like to comment on this as follows:
1) I so wish journalists would refrain from the temptation of seeing “trends” everywhere, or inflating things out of proportion for the sake or an article, or of a headline.
2) Priests will implement the new Mass just because they have to, open refusal to obey leading to serious consequences for their livelihood. As (supposed) martyrdom has never been a speciality of the liberal priest, there is no overt opposition to be awaited.
3) The “spirit of Vatican II” is being taken care of by the professional category of the undertakers. Their action will become more and more incisive in the years to come, but I can’t notice old sixty-eighters becoming any less sixty-eighters or just more tired of being obnoxious morons, let alone rediscovering the beauty of a reverent Mass.
Such “movements” usually end because they land in the same place as their promoters: six feet under.
4) If anything, the British clergy is more heretical today than it was twenty or thirty years ago. No English bishop would have, decades ago, publicly declared that he “doesn’t know” whether the Church will accept the “reality of gay partnerships” and no bishop would have dreamt of ever saying that he is “nuanced” and does not oppose civil partnership. Actually not even people in open revolt to the authority of Rome like Henry VIII would have ever dreamt of saying such absurdities.
Nowadays even an Archbishop of Westminster is allowed to say such things and remain unpunished.
The “Spirit of Vatican II” is alive and kicking. It goes together with dissent or open heresy of all sorts and – in the absence of any strong action from the Vatican, nowhere to be seen at the time – it will die only as its proponents kick the bucket in increasingly larger numbers.
This is the sad (but encouraging in a sense, as the undertakers are clearly on our side) reality of the Church in England. Supposed trends out of thin air do not help to deal with the many, serious problems.
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.