Saturday, July 16, 2022

One Year Later

One year ago today, the revolution that took place within the Roman Catholic Church some decades ago, in the wake of the most recent ecumenical council, formally recognized the totality of its failure. This is not, of course, how the matter was presented; a new Five-Year Plan is never presented as an acknowledgement of the failure of the last Five-Year Plan. But there is an easy way to tell when a revolution has failed, and knows that it has failed, even if it will not candidly admit its failure to itself or anyone else: when it openly betrays the ideals it officially professes.

Luke Coppen of The Pillar asked me (among others) to comment on the anniversary of Traditionis Custodes for an article which was published yesterday. I take the liberty of quoting myself:

“Pope Benedict XVI understood, perhaps better than any other major prelate of our times, that the post-Conciliar revolution was in fact a revolution, the violent overthrow of an established order, which was neither asked for nor intended by the Second Vatican Council. He also understood that this revolution had set the Church at war with its own past, a war that has crippled its evangelizing mission. Summorum Pontificum was a part of a program (an important part, to be sure, but not the whole), by which the Church could make peace with its past and revitalize that mission. That program proved to be extremely appealing to Catholics of all backgrounds, but especially younger ones.
Traditionis custodes was an act of desperation on the part of a revolution that knows that this state of continual war is unappealing to the majority of serious Catholics, and seeks to do by force what it cannot do by persuasion. Its biggest impact has been to give the Church’s shepherds official permission to treat some of their most devoted sheep very shabbily, and some have availed themselves of that permission.”
(Sadly, we mark this anniversary with the news of some more shabby treatment of the faithful. Chicago, which is deservedly notorious for exactly the kinds of outlandish liturgical abuses which Traditionis Custodes purports to decry, is mercifully expelling the Institute of Christ the King; the archdiocese has lost more than half its total number of clergy since the beginning of the New Pentecost™, plus about 66% of its male religious and 90% of the women, so why mess with a winning formula? Likewise, the diocese of Savannah has announced to those who love the traditional rite its intention to accompany them out of existence within less than a year. Some friends of mine recently attended the traditional Mass which been celebrated in the cathedral for many years, and it was very full, so of course, it must be suppressed because
Of course, Mercy and Accompaniment are not the only principles that the revolution has overthrown within the last year. Traditionis Custodes also purports to be a necessary measure to defend the legacy of the most recent ecumenical council. Some of its more unapologetically specious apologists have even claimed that the latest documents on the liturgy express a magnificent intertextual understanding of the liturgical revolution in the light of the rest of the Council’s teachings. But it is characteristic of all such revolutions to betray not only their own ideals, but also those of earlier phases of revolution. During one such phase (which I daresay most of our readers are far too young to remember), the buzzword of the day was “collegiality”, which supposedly found its expression in this passage of Lumen Gentium 27:

“The pastoral office, or the habitual and daily care of their sheep, is entrusted to [the local bishops] completely, nor are they to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs, for they exercise an authority that is proper to them. ... In virtue of this power, bishops have the sacred right and the duty before the Lord to make laws for their subjects, to pass judgment on them and to moderate everything pertaining to the ordering of worship and the apostolate.”

And yet, the very same successors of the Apostles who are proclaimed to be the “guardians of tradition” are told by the listening, synodal, decentralized Church that they must take orders from a Roman dicastery about what they may allow to be printed in the local parish bulletin.
All of this may seem like cause for discouragement and sadness, but once again, I urge all those who care about the good of the Church’s liturgy not to be discouraged. There are plenty of reasons to be hopeful, if we know where to look for them. One of them is expressed very nicely by our founder and editor Shawn Tribe, in a post on the Facebook group which he started last year, Defense of the Immemorial Roman Rite.
“ thing that we can say has happened as a result of TC is that an entirely new generation has become more and more familiar with the critical study of the liturgical reform that happened in the years following the Second Vatican Council.

Summorum Pontificum had the effect of exposing even larger swathes of young Catholics to know and love that venerable patrimony that is the ancient Roman rite than might have otherwise been without it.

By the same token, Traditiones Custodes ... has had the effect of re-opening the floodgates of the critical study of the liturgical ‘reform’ that happened after the Council, creating a keener awareness of the issues that exist there. Because of TC, we have seen a new influx of these critical studies, studies now employing the modern tools of social media as part of that process, and the net result is a much deeper understanding of the problems of the liturgical reform that took place in the late 1960’s.

So in one sense we can rightly lament today’s anniversary. In another, we can perhaps indirectly thank it, for perhaps all of the ingredients are now coming into place for new generations (including future prelates) to take tackle the problem that is the liturgical reform.”
Another is to be found in a recent interview with Dom Alcuin Reid, in which he states the following à propos specifically of Desiderio Desideravi, but which applies just as well to the whole of the TC apologia. “Of course, the foundation upon which this letter stands is the assumption that the modern liturgical rites promulgated after the Second Vatican Council are in complete conformity with the wishes of the Council itself. Historically, this is a complete non sequitur, as decades of serious scholarship have now more than adequately shown. That the Holy See chooses to repeat this elephantic lie over and over again does not change the facts of the matter and will convince no one who studies it. But this is the unquestionable super-doctrine of the controlling party at present—anyone who questions it is persona non grata. Such back-room politics and power plays have nothing to do with the liturgy or with history and are simply unworthy.”
Nothing that must be defended with what Dom Alcuin rightly terms an “elephantic lie” can last for long in God’s Church. As I also said to The Pillar, “(Traditionis Custodes) has not done what it very much wanted to do, but could never hope to do, which is to make the state of permanent revolution in the Church more appealing to anyone. In the long term, its only impact will be to make it all the more clear how important it is for ‘the Church (to) be one with herself inwardly, with her own past; that what was previously holy to her not be somehow wrong now.’ ” (This is a citation from Pope Benedict’s letter to the bishops of the world on the publication of Summorum Pontificum, a text which has of late been lied about almost as much as Sacrosanctum Concilium.)

The time will come, later than we wish, but sooner than we dare hope, when the revolution will finally betray every last one of its ideals, definitively losing the hearts and minds of the remaining members of the Church, and that lie will lose its power. That will be the day when the Church can learn to read a document like Sacrosanctum Concilium dispassionately and intelligently, beginning, as one does, from the beginning. It will read the opening declaration that “This sacred Council ... desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.” And then it will ask itself,
“When does this start?”

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