Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Sandro Magister of the blog Chiesa makes available the up until now secret meditation given by 87 year old Cardinal Prosper Grech of Malta, given to the Cardinals prior to the Conclave being locked to non-voting cardinals. You can read the entire The Last Warning to the Pope's Electors message by pressing this sentence.

The entire speech is very good, but the following insights are perceptive but a bit conditioned by the age of the Cardinal and his vision of Vatican II formed I am sure in the 1960's and 70's.


The evil spirit of the world, the “mysterium iniquitatis" (2 Thes 2:7), constantly strives to infiltrate the Church. Moreover, let us not forget the warning of the prophets of ancient Israel not to seek alliances with Babylon or with Egypt, but to follow a pure policy "ex fide" trusting solely in God (cf. Is 30:1; 31:1-3; Hos 12:2) and in his covenant. Courage! Christ relieves our minds when he exclaims: "Have trust, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33).


No less easy for the future pontiff will be the task of keeping unity in the Catholic Church itself. Between ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists, between priests who rebel against obedience and those who do not recognize the signs of the times, there will always be the danger of minor schisms that not only damage the Church but also go against the will of God: unity at all costs. Butt unity does not mean uniformity. It is evident that this does not close the doors to the intra-ecclesial discussion present in the whole history of the Church. All are free to express their thoughts on the task of the Church, but they should be proposals in line with that "depositum fidei" which the pontiff together with all of the bishops has the task of guarding.

My final comments: I think, as Pope Francis has said over and over, that Satan is the root of all the problems of division in the Church since Vatican II and the loss of Catholic faith in so many parts of the world, the most severe in Western Europe. The post on the so-called liturgy in Amsterdam that I had earlier is in a nutshell the problem of the Church and her decline and apart from the fault being laid at the feet of Satan, the problem also must be laid at the feet of "ultraprogessives" not ultratraditionalists.

The progressives of the Church were in charge and favored by the hierarchy in the 1960's and 70's. The damage done to the Church by these progressives during this period cannot be underestimated and is the foundation of the crisis in the Church today.

I could well have been a victim of the progressive nonsense of the 1970's and to a certain extent I was but a willing victim. My Catholic faith was not shaken or destroyed but adjusted and it has been adjusted especially from 1985 onward.

But I can tell you that my seminary class that entered St.Mary Seminary in Baltimore in the fall of 1976 was a large class of almost 60 students. By the end of the first year, that number was reduced to about 30 and by the end of the second year to about 25 and by the time we were ordained deacons to about 23. Of those 23 only about 21 were ordained priests after having been ordained deacons. Of those 21, some 33 years later, only 10, including me are still active priests, some have died but the most have departed the priesthood.

The first year departures lost their faith given the deconstruction of it in some of the classes they took, in particular Sacred Scripture. The others were converted to the progressive point of view and the trajectory for that led to all kinds of problems later, not the least of which was fidelity to their life long promises of celibacy and obedience. They loss their Catholic faith, embraced something else that was progressive but it didn't last the test of time.

The ones most susceptible to the loss of their Catholic faith were those who were considered pre-Vatican II in thought and devotion. They were given the hardest time, challenged the most and more than likely the faculty was glad to see them go. To say that traditional minded Catholics, lay, religious or priests were the victims of over zealous progressives in charge of deconstructing the Catholic faith at that time is a understatement.

I'm all in favor of Vatican II properly understood and within the hermeneutic of "reform in continuity rather than rupture." But let's face it, the most deleterious effect upon the Church was what happened in the 1960's and 70's that at that time divided families and pushed so many people away from the Catholic Church or made them marginal, not sure what to believe and thus became like reeds swaying in the wind. That trickle down effect until this very day has created the crisis that the good Cardinal points out in his speech.

This wasn't caused though by ultra-traditionalsist who do not destroy the content of the faith or her spirituality and devotional life but rather questions authority, even that of a Council and some popes, about the advisability of making Vatican II into a super Council when its goals were more pastoral than dogmatic and thus far from being considered infallible. Pastoral decisions by a Council while authoritative, can be revisited, especially if what is recommended fails and leads to progressives being in charge and destroying the content of the Catholic faith, her spirituality and devotional life to say nothing of the way in which they desire the Liturgy to be celebrated in stark contrast to what was inherited.

One is not an ultratraditionalist if one desires the EF Mass or the OF Mass celebrated in an EF way. One is not the problem if one would like to "restore" Holy Communion received kneeling and on the tongue. This restoration will in fact help the Church to recover some sense of sanity and make the new evangelization, which has to start in our parishes first, not elsewhere, successful.

Our own bishop has lamented how little our young know about the Catholic faith. The cause of this finds its foundation in the 1970's and the way parishes are today which are far from ultra-traditional but in a malaise of progressiveness run a muck with a veneer of doing what the Church expects in the post-Vatican II era.

Name me one ultra-traditionalist parish that is ignorant of the Catholic faith. Name me any other parish where ignorance is palpable especially amongst the young and not so young and name the reasons why.


Vox Cantoris said...

Excellent commentary Father. Thank you.

John said...

Excellent commentary is right. One could argue, I believe with serious justification, that the greatest enemy of decentralization are the so called liberal clergy who have ignored the council documents from the get go. Yet, it is the traditionalists who are vexed with this un earned accusation. HF Francis must lay down the law in this respect else his pontificate will be marginalized from the left before his first anniversary as Pope.

Anonymous 5 said...

I see an interesting parallel between your seminary experience and Gene's when you mention how rough a time those of a pre-VII outlook had. Say you're reared in a non-modernist environment that stresses the majesty and sovereignty of God and the historicity of things such as the Resurrection and Virgin Birth. This is not only your theology but your culture, and you're made aware that it has been the theology and culture of two thousand years of Christians. Then you're thrown into an environment in which the authorities not only attack all of these things but are openly intolerant of them. That it would bring about a crisis of faith or some other strong reaction is certainly understandable.