Pope Francis: Menace or Farce

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Jonathan V. Last explains at The Weekly Standard why an ever increasing  number of Catholics view this Pontificate as an unending train wreck:

 

Pope Francis has some interesting views about Catholic teachings, too. In January, he criticized Catholics who have what he considers too many children. “Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits—but no,” he said. The push-back from within the Church was hard enough that the pope apologized a week later.

He has never apologized for criticizing Catholics whom he deems to be “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, and gay marriage:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

His message being . . . well, it’s not clear what, exactly. After all, in America, at least, the question of abortion seems somewhat important, since 55 million children have been killed in utero since 1973. And as for contraception and gay marriage, it is the U.S. government which is seeking to force its view of these regimes on the Catholic Church, and not the other way around. The pope’s position seems remarkably like blaming the victim.

As did his remarks following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Francis held forth saying, “Every religion has its dignity. I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person.” And then he went somewhat further:

“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” . . .

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,” he said. “They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.”

As you might expect, a week later the Vatican rushed yet another spokesman out to clarify the real meaning of the Holy Father’s words because he absolutely, positively, didn’t mean what he said. Or didn’t say what he meant.

Or something.

Go here to read the rest.  Last begins his article thusly:

Back in 1999, The Weekly Standard ran one of my favorite cover lines ever: The New Europe: Menace or Farce? I often think of that question when I watch Pope Francis.

 

It’s only been two and a half years since Francis assumed the chair of St. Peter, yet he’s already compiled an entire dossier’s worth of . . . interesting . . . incidents.

For instance, the Holy Father seems to have a habit of appearing to endorse all sorts of left-wing political causes. There was the time he posed with environmental activists holding an anti-fracking T-shirt. And the time he posed for pictures holding a crucifix made from a hammer and a sickle. And the time he held up a poster calling for the British to hand the Falkland Islands back to Argentina. In each instance, the official Vatican response has been to suggest that Francis didn’t mean to endorse anything because he’ll pretty much smile and pick up anything you hand him, like some sort of consecrated Ron Burgundy.

Menace or farce?  In my more hopeful moments I tend to view this papacy as a divine practical joke, perhaps before God gets us down to business.  In my less hopeful moments I fear that the acolytes of Francis might be right:  God has given us the Pope we deserve.

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71 Comments

  1. A fellow by the name of Mundabor calls Pope Francis a name that bridges between menace and farce. He calls him an evil clown. Go here and see why. mundabor.wordpress.com/

  2. Interesting last paragraph! I’m constantly saying that God has an amazing sense of humor. As my son said, when he was 3 during a particularly scary flight, “hang on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”

  3. The Bride of Christ will go through what Christ Himself did in His Passion. Just as the High Priest of the Jews turned against the Messiah under the pretense of religious piety and fidelity, so does our Pontiff.

  4. I suspect that, not since the “reformation,” (revolution) has there ever been so many of the faithful seeking to know the exact limits of the pope and the minimum requirements in agreeing with him.

  5. One of the features of this papacy that disturbs me is this Pope’s apparent indifference
    to the confusion he’s sowing. I understand that no Pope will bat a thousand when it
    comes to delivering and controlling his message, but not only has this pontificate been
    rife with disturbing, confusing and contradictory messages from Francis, but he’s also
    apparently convinced that he still needn’t think before he riffs, all evidence to the contrary.
    .
    I’m starting to think that the division and confusion we’re seeing is, for this Pope, a
    feature and not a bug. To me, he seems too in love with the sound of his own voice to
    care about the effects of his words. What started as a farce has moved on to become
    a menace.

  6. I think an upshot of this papacy will be that orthodox members of the Church will be less devoted to the papacy, and hierarchs in general, from now on. This can only be good given the tendencies of those in positions of authority on this side of Eden.

  7. I’m currently reading Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. From pages 31 to 45, Benedict discusses the antichrist, and mentions more than a few times Vladimir Soloviev and his short story, “The Antichrist.”

    Benedict explains well the pitfall of Marxism. I won’t belabor the reader with all the salient points, but would like to point out one question that Benedict asks the reader. “What did Jesus actually bring if not world peace, universal prosperity and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God. He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually, first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature – the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is the God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the nations of the earth. . . . Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope, and love. . . . Jesus has emerged victorious from his battle with Satan.

    Cardinal Biffi, in a Lenten homily and quoting Soloviev, said “The antichrist presents himself as a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.” He went on to say that we run the risk of having a Christianity which puts aside Jesus with His Cross and Resurrection. The loss of God cannot be reduced to a series of good projects sanctioned by the prevailing worldly mentality.

    I apologize for the length of this post but thought it important to share what Benedict has written. I intend to continue reading, studying, and praying for our beloved Pope Benedict XVI.

  8. “I think an upshot of this papacy will be that orthodox members of the Church will be less devoted to the papacy, and hierarchs in general, from now on. ”

    Aside from the occasional Fortescue on the right and the usual brigade of dissenters on the left, I think we’ve all been getting too ultramontane for our own good for over a century now.

    It wasn’t so much a problem while we had a good run of popes (mostly named Pius). But at some point, you do indeed get the pope you deserve, not the one you need – something we should be used to, since we’ve been getting the bishops we deserve, for the most part, for some decades now.

  9. Richard M “It wasn’t so much a problem while we had a good run of popes…”

    It was always a problem, for it tended to reduce bishops to little more than middle managers. When did we kast see in a bishop with what Bl Joh Henry Newman calls “that combination of claims, prerogatives, and corresponding acts” that we see in St Ambrose or St Athanasius, St Martin, St Basil or St Cyril of Alexandria? They were prepared to take the initiative, to act independently and on their own Apostolic authority, knowing that, if they were wrong, thier brother bishops or, in the last resort, the Holy See would set them right.

  10. Yes Pope Francis is a lot of things nearly all bad from orthodox Catholic point of view. But for nearly everyone else he is a holy, simple and merciful man ready to update the Church’s moldy and rigid doctrine to the moral realities of the modern world. This is the kind of commentary we will be treated to when he comes to America. Disputing this nonsense will not win us many friends but we must surely do it if we are called upon to give our opinion and, on occasion when we are not.

  11. Both. Not an intellectual and used to justify all manner of evil. What troubles me most is the blindness he has caused within the Church itself. Otherwise rational people who would see through this nonsense from any other source will be in Philadelphia. God have mercy on us.

  12. The “play” is a tragedy not just one person- not just the pope. Just as neither the “pill” nor contraception can be isolated as the cause of the breakdown of family and society -but what came before the widespread acceptance of contraception: Loss of Faith in God (and so also in the Authority he has vested in His Church).
    … directly tied to losses incurred in Protestant revolt and its gradual acceptance of that revolt in the world – and in the Church.
    And so many of us didn’t know, over the last especially 50 years of trying to sort it out as we go, that we are “extras” – also tragic actors.

  13. “It was always a problem, for it tended to reduce bishops to little more than middle managers.”

    I don’t disagree with that; it’s just that the cost of it was more bearable.

    But even before Tridentine ultramontanism really kicked in, how often did we really see the kind of bishop Newman speaks of? Henry VIII executed his staged takeover, and only bishop resisted him. Likewise, you can find the occasional Bellarmine, but they’re very much exceptions; and even in the patristic era, they were not quite so common as we like to think (and poor communication and travel probably helped develop those qualities).

    In our own age, much depends on the quality of the pool of clergy, and that quality has been pretty low in the West for a while now. You have to have something to work with. But one thing we could do to help reassert those qualities today would be to eliminate or greatly downsize the role of bishops’ conferences. Benedict XVI clearly wished to, but felt he could not make it happen in the face of the resistance he knew he would face.

  14. It was always a problem, for it tended to reduce bishops to little more than middle managers

    Rubbish. There are several thousand Catholic bishops in the world and the entire workforce in the Holy See (from the Pope down to the janitors) numbers in the low four digits. By the way, the Diocese of Syracuse and its subsidiaries have 2,000 employees. People who fancy the Pope has the capacity and the tools to act like a corporate CEO (Rod Dreher and Leon Podles, I’m looking at you) are going to be disappointed.

    What the Pope can do is pray, teach faithfully and meticulously, worship meticulously, compose and articulate a canon law which respects the Church’s precepts and is implementable, adjudicate fairly the very few cases which reach the central tribunals, and set up an apparatus which can identify the best among the clergy for episcopal slots and can run the Vatican with probity.

  15. much a problem while we had a good run of popes (mostly named Pius). But at some point, you do indeed get the pope you deserve, not the one you need – something we should be used to, since we’ve been getting the bishops we deserve, for the most part, for some decades now.

    How is that supposed to work? What did the Catholic laity of Detroit do to ‘deserve’ Cdl. Dearden transmogrified overnight into an uncritical advocate of innovation? How did the laity of Boston ‘deserve’ the idiot Cdl. Madeiros, whose response to a woman who called the chancery repeatedly with information on one particular pervy priest was to tell his subordinates to put the phone down on the desk and ignore her?

  16. “Anzlyne

    The “play” is a tragedy not just one person- not just the pope. Just as neither the “pill” nor contraception can be isolated as the cause of the breakdown of family and society -but what came before the widespread acceptance of contraception: Loss of Faith in God (and so also in the Authority he has vested in His Church).”

    I cant help but agree. The “syllabus of errors” merely drove the “Americanism” etc. underground, and many of the higher institutions of learning with Catholic attached to their titles became effectively wink, wink, nod, types of faith jugglers. The anti-authority cultural explosions of the sixties were merely that long-baked cake coming out of the oven

    What also held it back for decades were the earlier century waves of ‘Common man” ethnic Catholic immigrants and their first generation sons and daughters who were well schooled in the faith by the aid of the old Baltimore Catechism and dedicated nuns. The depression and WWII didn’t hurt the faith as much as the good times afterwards.

  17. “he depression and WWII didn’t hurt the faith as much as the good times afterwards.”

    I am beginning to realize this in the saying of Jesus: “blessed are the poor”

  18. Richard M wrote, “Henry VIII executed his staged takeover, and only bishop resisted him…”
    But in the same age, in France, the resistance to the Huguenots was led by the Cardinal of Lorraine and his nephew, the Cardinal of Guise.

  19. Menace or Farce?
    Pure evil. Pure evil trying his best to disguise as much as possible as something merciful.
    Pure evil.
    Open your eyes and see.

  20. “What did the Catholic laity of Detroit do to ‘deserve’ Cdl. Dearden transmogrified overnight into an uncritical advocate of innovation? How did the laity of Boston ‘deserve’ the idiot Cdl. Madeiros, whose response to a woman who called the chancery repeatedly with information on one particular pervy priest was to tell his subordinates to put the phone down on the desk and ignore her?”
    *
    Individual Catholics didn’t merit it, certainly; no one merits kiddie rapist priests or those who would cover their acts up.
    *
    What I mean to say is that while it is true that the 60’s revolution (which brought such a heavy homosexual element into the priesthood, and the moral laxity that helped further and enable it) was a clerical-led revolution, it’s also true that most American Catholics have long been wanting a Church that conforms much more to secular society (no matter how much that society secularizes), one that doesn’t impose as many demands on them, or make them stick out too much. Well, they have that now. And you can see that in any survey on what American Catholic believe now. Most don’t even believe in the Real Presence any longer.
    *
    In truth, most bishops strike me as “keep the machinery running” men. They are not really shepherds. There are noble exceptions. But the machinery tends to promote the machinery maintainers.

  21. “But in the same age, in France, the resistance to the Huguenots was led by the Cardinal of Lorraine and his nephew, the Cardinal of Guise.”
    *
    That is true, and well observed. France had some good bishops in that era.
    *
    On the other hand, you have….well, the French bishops of the last fifty years, a very sorry lot.

  22. Clinton on Sunday, September 20, A.D. 2015 at 10:41am
    One of the features of this papacy that disturbs me is this Pope’s apparent indifference
    to the confusion he’s sowing.

    Same here.
    I can think of perfectly acceptable reasons for everything he’s said or done that I’ve looked into– the ‘rabbit’ thing, for example, for folks like the lady I met last week who feels horrible because they’ve only managed to have two kids. They can conceive, but not keep to term. A lot of folks with infertility issues seem to think that folks who can and did have kids are “judging” them, even if it’s something as innocent as trying to keep names straight and asking if they have any others. (Why, yes, I do manage to step in it. A lot.)
    .
    I can’t as easily think of good reasons to be so incredibly oblivious to the other effects of the words and actions.

  23. What I mean to say is that while it is true that the 60’s revolution (which brought such a heavy homosexual element into the priesthood,

    The cohorts ordained at that time were worse than previous cohorts and the very worst cohort was the 1970 ordination class. However, If the data provided by the Diocese of Syracuse is instructive, the genesis of the problem was in the 1920s and grew dramatically worse among the cohorts ordained between 1950 and 1965. If I’m not mistaken, this is replicated elsewhere, with the explosion of clerical misbehavior occuring just prior to Vatican II (and largely unknown to the episcopate of the time).

    it’s also true that most American Catholics have long been wanting a Church that conforms much more to secular society (no matter how much that society secularizes), one that doesn’t impose as many demands on them, or make them stick out too much.

    See the early work of Andrew Greeley. That simply does not describe the conduct of 2/3 to 3/4 of American Catholic laity ca. 1960. The breakdown of discipline and catechesis occurred after the Council.

  24. ” That simply does not describe the conduct of 2/3 to 3/4 of American Catholic laity ca. 1960. The breakdown of discipline and catechesis occurred after the Council.”

    To some extent, perhaps. 1960 does seem like a different world.

    But if so, where was the lay resistance to these “reforms?” Why was there not more questioning? Why did so many eagerly start contracepting even before 1968? I suggest that many nominally adhered to the more disciplined Church “line” up until 1962-65, but many were not displeased to see the Church transform into something much more indistinguishable from the rest of suburban America (where most of them were living by this point), or indeed suburban Protestant Christianity.

    I don’t disagree with the narrative that what happened was a clerical-led revolution – and yes, priestly pathologies (which as you say in some way predated the Council, really beginning to flourish in the reign of Pius XII). It was a “Treason of the Clerics.” But there were more laity ready to embrace that revolution (as opposed to reluctantly follow its lead) than we like to credit.

  25. Individual Catholics didn’t merit it, certainly; no one merits kiddie rapist priests or those who would cover their acts up.

    This is an evasion. Adherence to creed, code, and cult in this country was not a hobby of scattered individuals in 1960. That was modal at the time. The bishops people ‘deserved’ gave you ruinous innovation in liturgy and in seminary formation, not to mention standing by idly while the Catholic colleges expired. People to some extent get the bishops they deserve because the bishops are drawn from the clergy who are drawn from the laity and the bishops are socialized as parish priests by their interactions with laity. Still, what’s formation for? The laity are not thickly populated with sexual deviants, but we ended up with a clergy wherein about 1 in 4 are bent out of shape in this respect and perhaps 1 in 10 breaking their vows over it.

  26. many were not displeased to see the Church transform into something much more indistinguishable from the rest of suburban America (where most of them were living by this point), or indeed suburban Protestant Christianity.

    Or, many were demoralized by poor leadership, and scattered. One of the regulars who writes at The Latin Mass described his experience of the era. He left the Church in 1969 over the effects of the 1965 missal. He did not return until 1993, when indult masses were reaching a critical mass in availability.

  27. This is an evasion. Adherence to creed, code, and cult in this country was not a hobby of scattered individuals in 1960. That was modal at the time.
    *
    It is not an evasion. How much of that adherence was by virtue of custom and social expectation, as opposed to genuine
    belief? They didn’t call it “cultural Catholicism” for nothing, you know.
    *
    Were there more “genuine believers” back then, relatively or even absolutely? I like to think so. (There certainly were in religious orders.) Using the Baltimore Catechism is certainly a far better tool than any of the catechetical tools on offer today. But a lot of it was cultural. Don’t get me wrong: I think social conformity is actually a useful tool for the faith, and it’s one reason why I support Catholic confessional states. But it had its weaknesses, especially in the face of a nominally Protestant, increasingly affluent society. When the Revolution came, few had the fortitude to resist it, and too many readily joined it.
    *
    The bishops people ‘deserved’ gave you ruinous innovation in liturgy and in seminary formation, not to mention standing by idly while the Catholic colleges expired.
    *
    And most laity readily took leading parts in those ruinous liturgies and did much more than just stand by idly while their schools and universities went over the cliff. Where was the kind of angry lay uprisings that we saw in the Arian Crisis?
    *
    But – even if I concede your point – whatever may have been true of laity in 1960, we do know what is true of laity TODAY. And what is true is that most are no more Catholic than their neighbors are. They are not having children, and when they actually do, most are not doing anything to form them in the faith.

  28. Richard M I don’t know what your own personal experience was in 1964, but mine could really be called heartbreak, anger, confusion. Not knowing what was happening, being “reassured” by “stick with the Church” mentality – accept, accept. go along, go along. I was at the time a thoughtful if under-educated Catholic. I was not alone… many of the people like me are now being able to put together a bit about what happened and how much they don’t like it… the lay people were misled, and as you suggest, for some it may be by their own appetites and desires, but it was not the bulk of the faithful laity. We were taught to follow and we tried to. Now, we are trying to turn this battleship around and the clerics who won’t help turn it around must accept their culpability.

  29. One of the regulars who writes at The Latin Mass described his experience of the era.
    *
    I have read such accounts, and heard them first hand.
    *
    And I must say this: One of my irritations with older traditionalists is this idealization of 50’s Catholic America. A friend of mine took to calling them “1958 men.” Well, not all was well in 1958. Seminaries were increasingly rank with crypto-modernism. Liturgies were heavily dominated by Low Mass culture, with the four hymn sandwich predominating when singing was done at all (and the hymns were mainly St. Louis Jesuits, whose only redeeming quality was that they weren’t Dan Schutte). Holy Week had already been wrecked. Mass attendance was already starting to drop. The Pill arrived in 1960, and Catholics were right there along with Protestants in purchasing them. Lay Catholic academics were already pushing boundaries. There was already an unhealthy lay ultramontanism at work, one where there was delight in even seeing Pius XII shaving, or posing with birds.
    *
    I have no interest in returning to the Church of the 1950’s. We need to build something stronger to survive the winds blowing now.
    *
    Look, despite our apparent disagreements here, I really do agree that the greatest sin and greatest responsibility was that of the clergy. The clergy really did initiate this revolution. They are the ones who must answer for most of it. Some of that was the result of active infiltration of the clergy. Some of it, however, was a response to an society enjoying unprecedented affluence and secularization. And many lay Catholics wanted to join that society fully, especially in America.
    *
    …we ended up with a clergy wherein about 1 in 4 are bent out of shape in this respect and perhaps 1 in 10 breaking their vows over it.
    *
    In some dioceses the numbers are a lot higher than that. But I suspect we both agree on that.

  30. Richard M I don’t know what your own personal experience was in 1964
    *
    I’m afraid I was born post-Novus Ordo.
    *
    The clergy bear the chief responsibility, and I tremble to think what kind of judgment awaits many of them from that era (or now).
    *
    I also think that we laity had steadily had a certain passivity bred into us over the last couple of centuries. When the revolution came, we had little powers of resistance.

  31. Being in the Church today is sortof like being in a Communist re-education camp with mind altering techniques employed continuously to wash away any vestige of our Catholic morality, understanding of doctrine and appreciation of the liturgy. And to
    top it all off we have a Pope who would rather be a leftist politician than
    a religious leader and beaming clownishly at all the ridiculous adulation
    he receives. Rather paradoxical that the Church itself has become the Cross
    we carry, don’t you think?

  32. DonL wrote: “I suspect that, not since the ‘reformation,’ (revolution) has there ever been so many of the faithful seeking to know the exact limits of the pope and the minimum requirements in agreeing with him.”

    Boy, that pretty much sums up the response of most traditionalists I know.

    Well said.

  33. Richard M Wrote: “In truth, most bishops strike me as ‘keep the machinery running’ men. They are not really shepherds. There are noble exceptions. But the machinery tends to promote the machinery maintainers.”

    That matches my experience with my diocese. It also explains the many mechanisms employed to shield abusive religious and even lay leaders.

    The thing is, they are rarely as clever as they think they are. Look at the financials of many diocese and we see terrible fiscal management. Really absurd, juvenile errors abound. So too with managing crisis and messaging.

    It must be troubling to forego one’s duties as a shepherd, only to find that one is no good as a corporate officer either.

  34. “The thing is, they are rarely as clever as they think they are. Look at the financials of many diocese and we see terrible fiscal management”‘

    It’s the “Peter Principle.”

    (Words to the wise–never give me lines like that to work with)

  35. There were latent and esoteric problems in the Church in America in 1958, as there will be in any institution staffed by human beings, but it was not a bad place to be and would not be a bad place to which to return. Decline in religious observance generally was not manifest prior to 1960, in the Catholic Church or outside of it.

  36. It is not an evasion. How much of that adherence was by virtue of custom and social expectation, as opposed to genuine belief? They didn’t call it “cultural Catholicism” for nothing, you know.

    You’re bound and determined to substitute your own speculations on this point for observable reality. If that’s what pleases you, fine, but you’re listening to the voices in your head and not much else.

  37. And most laity readily took leading parts in those ruinous liturgies and did much more than just stand by idly while their schools

    In whose parish? In the ones I’m familiar with, the laity up front consist of the eucharistic ministers, the parish divas, and the alter ‘servers’. Collectively, they make up a low two-digit population in a parish that might have hundreds at Mass every week. They’re there because the pastor wants it that way. I was associated with one parish which had a wretched music director for years, nay decades, on end. The discontent with her performance was such that a local music professor (and lay Catholic) was engaged to assist her. He gave up in frustration. The responsible party for this train-wreck was the man who was pastor of that parish from 1994 to 2011.

  38. Looking at pre-conciliar Catholic observance in America (which even a then-atheist like Will Durant found remarkable), it’s hard to look at the current status of the Church in the U.S. and say “yay, renewal!”

    Were the seeds of the current disaster present in the Church in 1962? Yep-per. But there was no reason they had to blossom into the kudzu festival we’re experiencing now.

  39. Art Deco,
    *
    You’re bound and determined to substitute your own speculations on this point for observable reality. If that’s what pleases you, fine, but you’re listening to the voices in your head and not much else.
    *
    The 50’s are dead. They’re as dead as Eisenhower is. They ain’t coming back. You can’t live in the past, and if I sound cranky, it’s because I’m getting a little tired, honestly, of older trads who insist on trying to make their communities do just that – sealed up little communities satisfied with Low Masses, indifferent or worse music if they must have it, and little interest in newcomers. There’s no gain in romanticizing the glories of the age of Pius XII, a man who wrecked Holy Week and the Psalter and gave us Montini and Bugnini (and a few problematic encyclicals). It certainly beats the Novus Ordo atrocities usually on offer, but that’s a standard you can trip over. If that’s the game, Tradition will never become a force in the Church again.
    *
    They’re there because the pastor wants it that way.
    *
    It may have started out that way. But now they run those parishes. The pastor is an accessory, and they come and go. Few have the backbone to stand up to lay clericist brigade.

  40. Imagine a Catholic pope more liked by protestants and cafeteria Catholics than devout Catholics. Imagine a pope who promotes leftist bishops who do not live the faith and demotes orthodox bishops that are being faithful to the faith. If you can imagine these things, you have just imagined Pope Francis.

  41. Hello Anzlyne,
    *
    Nothing wrong with being old – it beats the alternative, as the saying goes.
    *
    The problem is with certain states of mind.

  42. “Well, not all was well in 1958. Seminaries were increasingly rank with crypto-modernism. Liturgies were heavily dominated by Low Mass culture, with the four hymn sandwich predominating when singing was done at all (and the hymns were mainly St. Louis Jesuits, whose only redeeming quality was that they weren’t Dan Schutte). ”
    .
    Not strictly on topic, but I have wondered if God Himself did not take away the Tridentine Liturgy from the laity/priests because He knew a tremendous age of corruption that was just around the corner, and it would reach to the highest towers of the Church. I’m not saying that the Novus Ordo is not a valid Mass per se, but I think it is pretty safe to say that these days, the only people who show up for a Tridentine Rite really want to be there and the priests who celebrate it really want to celebrate it–and a person isn’t likely to see clowns and puppets and cake and soda pop at or on the altar.

  43. Like .Anzlyne I was 10 in 1958. My brother and I attended a large parish school staffed by the IHMs out of PA. Because they wore habits there was a mystique about them and their habits engendered respect. The long skirts didn’t deter them from playing kick ball with the boys on the traditional black top playground. Classes were large sometimes 50 children. Discipline was such that a nun could leave the classroom briefly and it was still silent. The Baltimore Catechism was our religion textbook. Work was done on the black board or written in ink in copy books as there were no workbooks. Besides academics and religion we were taught manners aka “deportment” and music theory. First Thursday was Confession to be in the state of grace for First Friday Mass which we sang in Gregorian chant. Sundays there was a choice of attending high or low Mass. My brother was in the boys choir robed in either red or black cassocks with celluloid collars and corresponding colored bow ties. My mom was a bow tier. The choir sang sacred music. The services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday were beautiful and moving with Pange Linqua Gloriosi, Tre Ore, etc. such that you lived the Last Supper and The Passion. If there were a single mom or dad it was because their spouse was deceased. “Queer” meant odd in our juvenile world. A priest with “a weak handshake”?; my dad never commented. He only complained about the lack of Christians in the parking lot after Mass. As my brother said later, “Everything we needed to know, we learned at St. Thomas More.”
    The point of this long reminiscence: the 50s weren’t as stodgy or hidebound as some would say.

  44. There was a lot of discontent in the 1950s and had been for half-a-century.

    On the theological front, Blondel’s criticism, penned 50 years earlier, had become a commonplace amongst many of the clergy and the educated laity: “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.” The writings of Henri de Lubac and Jean Daniélou enjoyed a cult status, as did Yves Congar’s “Divided Christendom.”

    The liturgical movement was very strong, with the Benedictine writers of Maria Laach as its guiding stars and the Anglican monk, Dom Gregory Dix’s Shape of the Liturgy as its proof text.

  45. The comments by Michael Paterson-Seymour and CAM seem to fit seemlessly. The story they tell reminds me of the behavior of a cancer patient, going about with their daily lives, discounting the increasingly violent coughing fits and the fatigue.

    To the wider Church, it must have seemed like all was well. She was staffed by a pre-WWII generation of priests, the largest number and highest ratio of religious to laity in history. There were plenty of religious to teach the schools, the age of Catholic persecution in America was a dim recollection.

    Arguably, this was true for America in a broader sense, an America before Griswold, before Einhorn, the scorge of street drugs, and before the fadishness that passes for education and business today. On the surface, all is well… Even as the cancer of Modernity attacks the lungs, robbing the host of air, sapping its strength.

    Both visions are, in a sense, true. The 1950s, Pre-Vatican Church was idyllic as a whole, even as she wasted away below the surface.

    Vatican II was the radical chemo employed to arrest the cancer of Modernity. That is clearly how Benedict and JPII saw it. I think both sought to move beyond chemo, to restore health, rather than just arresting cancer. In a sense, I think Francis is trying holistic medicine, herbal remedies, if you will.

    Thanks for the engaging and thought provoking material.

  46. “If that was the intention, the quacks responsible would be sued for malpractice if they were engaged in medicine.” Amen to that.

  47. David S. “In a sense, I think Francis is trying holistic medicine…” Holistic medicine? Yes, in the sense of naturally occurring like anthrax. Medicine in the sense of the snake oil of Modernism which Vatican II was all about. And for a doctor we have our deal Pontiff who is more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in his multiple transformations. It all adds up to a whole lot of not good.

  48. It speaks volumes about the state of the Pre-conciliar Church that virtually every one of the leading theologians of the 20th century,
    Henri Bremond (1865-1933) – SJ then Secular. [Histoire litteraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’a nos jours (from 1916 to 1936) 11 volumes],
    Joseph Maréchal SJ (1878-1944) [ Précis d’histoire de la philosophie moderen and the Cahiers],
    Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990) – OP [Le Saulchoir: Une école de la théologie]
    Henri de Lubac (1896-1991) SJ, Catholicisme: les aspects sociaux du dogme, Surnaturel, De la Connaissance de Dieu ],
    Yves Congar (1904-1995) OP, [Divided Christendom: a Catholic Study of the Problem of Reunion, Vraie et fausse reforme dans l’Eglise],
    Jean Daniélou SJ (1905-1974) [Sources Chrétiennes, founded 1942 with Claude Mondésert SJ & Henri de Lubac, SJ [Origen, Clement of Alexandria and the Cappadocians]
    Louis Bouyer (1913-2004) – [Liturgical Piety]
    either fell under suspicion or was actually censured.
    During the period from Lamentabili and Pascendi (1907) to Vatican II, it was impossible to work as a Scripture scholar, a Church Historian, a philosopher or a theologian with any degree of integrity without fear of denunciation. Accordingly, universities and seminaries were staffed by time-servers or nonentities; the results for clerical formation were deplorable.

  49. Very good MPS. My favorite theologian, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964) was a leader of the resistance at the time. He did what he could but it wasn’t enough.

  50. “During the period from Lamentabili and Pascendi (1907) to Vatican II, it was impossible to work as a Scripture scholar, a Church Historian, a philosopher or a theologian with any degree of integrity without fear of denunciation. ”
    *
    If that’s true, how do we explain the work of (say) Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Bernard Lonergan, Etienne Gilson, Yves Simon, James Weisheipl, Martin Grabmann, Edith stein or Romano Guardini?
    *
    No offense, but I think you may be engaging in a little overstatement here. The anti-Modernist campaign may not have been without its chilling effects in the Catholic academy, but a good deal of solid theology and philosophy was done in that period. And to the extent that some neo-Thomism may have been stultified in some places, that was as much a legacy of the destruction of Catholic universities and seminaries during the Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, destruction they had yet to fully recover from by the time of St Pius X.

  51. I have been fascinated by Benadict’s involvement in Vatican II and I think Cardinal Kasper’s shenanigans now display what it must have been for Benedict, and other good Sons of the Church to deal with Modernists during Vatican II.

    I am no fan of Vatican II but I think it is a great deal better than had been sought by the Kasper’s of this world.

  52. How extensively has Benedict written about Vatican II? (I’ve read articles about but never anything from him.)

  53. It’s been noted here about the pre-WWII clergy. What about the post WWII priest vocations?
    Men who had been in combat and then the seminary – Modernists, Traditional or ?

  54. I am no fan of Vatican II but I think it is a great deal better than had been sought by the Kasper’s of this world.

    Christopher Ferrara has suggested one read the documents of Vatican II like a lawyer – i.e. with an eye to what it allows the other guy (Bp. Bugnini) to do to your client. He’s offered that the text of Sacrosanctum concilium has a great deal of agreeable verbiage, but boiled down to its essence permits precisely what happened with the Novus Ordo.

  55. Being a product of the time, Vatican II spoke with reasonable effectiveness to aspirations and concerns of the people of the sixties.

    Unfortunately, the Sixties ended in the unrest of 1968, nearly five decades ago, several years before disco and right about the time the Nehru jacket became (briefly) popular.

  56. CAM, there are two Western Civ pieces that I don’t see written about much but that I think had a profound impact on the Post-WWII era and the subsequent unraveling of our culture:

    1) a great many of folks from my father’s generation in America were raised by their mothers and older relatives, with very little fatherly influence. My paternal grandfather was something of an anomaly in that he was declared medically unsuitable to fight due to a back injury. To hear my father speak of it, for the formative ages of five or six to nine or ten, his closest friends were fatherless and ran wild.

    2) the alcoholism of my grandfather’s generation was remarkable. My father’s best friend brags about how his father, and the fathers of most of his friends, drank so much that they never missed the alcohol their kids stole. To hear he and my father talk about it, their fathers routinely went to bars after work and then drank at home. As long as the kids weren’t making a ruckus that interrupted them, the kids were left to their own devices.

    Put these two realities – admittedly I have no scientific basis for my belief, just anecdotal and what I’ve gleaned from news articles and such – together and I see a picture of a large number of kids who were raised without a father figure. How much PTSD was undiagnosed and untreated? How many people, like my grandfather, never forgave themselves for NOT fighting?

    It seems to me that this narrative fits neatly, perhaps too neatly, into the explosion of counter-culturalism that we see from about 1958 through 1972.

    (I welcome critique since this is a pet theory of mine and I would very much like to know where I ere.)

  57. I am not “old” yet 😉 and hope to get there in good shape!
    Also I consider that “old” in reference to aspects of our culture is very often a very good thing.

  58. Dale Price wrote, “the Sixties ended in the unrest of 1968…”
    It is impossible to understand les événements de Mai 68, without understanding the two decades that preceded them and in which the Sixties Generation grew up. The defeat of European arms at Diên Biên Phu and the retreat from Indo-China; the humiliation of Britain and France by the United States during Suez Crisis; the Algerian War and the support of the Communist Party for that colonial dirty war – the party of the Resistance, of the 75,000 fusillés ! – the fall of the 4eme Republic; the plastiqueurs of the OAS setting off bombs in the streets of Paris and the police butchering peace demonstrators in the Charonne Metro Station Massacre, with the same enthusiasm as their commander, Maurice Pappon, had deported the Jews of Bordeaux to the death camps twenty years earlier; national life dominated by an older generation, compromised by collaboration and tainted by colonial guilt.
    There you have the roots of the Events of May (1968),

  59. Here is interesting history of the machinations from 2014 synod and, I fear, the modus operandi of ‘lio’ ; which may yet backfire by Objectivity:
    .
    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2015/09/great-analysis-of-the-spin-of-last-years-synod-on-the-family-fr-z-rants/#comments
    .
    The ‘minds and hearts’ of the world probably have been affected already by media-driven word.
    .
    “During the period from Lamentabili and Pascendi (1907) to Vatican II, it was impossible to work as a Scripture scholar, a Church Historian, a philosopher or a theologian with any degree of integrity without fear of denunciation. Accordingly, universities and seminaries were staffed by time-servers or nonentities; the results for clerical formation were deplorable.” MP-S

  60. David Spaulding, on the upside, I found relief, serendipitously, after listening to Fr. R. Barron’s keynote address in Philadelphia aired on EWTN – I think he used his ten minutes well to teach God’s Law. It must be somewhere there to replay.

  61. Accordingly, universities and seminaries were staffed by time-servers or nonentities; the results for clerical formation were deplorable.”

    Richard McBrien was a fantastic improvement.

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