Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Ross Douthat has given a lecture called "The Crisis of Conservative Catholicism" and you can read it at First Things by pressing this sentence. It is worth reading!

I would say that Douthat captures the depressed mood of conservative Catholics about the current pontificate and that so many John Paul II/Benedict appointed bishops and cardinals sympathize with a Church that is more center-left than center-right.

The greatest problem with the Church,though, is that the post-Vatican II Church has become a polarized Church that is unfaithful. This is both on the left and the right in their extremes.

Let me talk about the extremism on the conservative side since most who read my blog aren't liberal.

Since Pope Francis, we have seen so-called traditionalists act in the same manner toward Pope Francis as so-called liberals did toward both John Paul II and Benedict. Ugliness has surfaced and what I have called a pseudo Protestantism.

Catholics know that popes can make mistakes and the last five popes have made plenty. No pope is perfect. But Catholics rooted in their faith know they must respect the Magisterium of the Church even when they disagree with this, that or the other.

Douthat show that Pope Francis, certainly a lightening rod for polarization, does not fit neatly into American understanding of conservative or liberal. But when it comes to liberal leanings, Pope Francis is more focused on the poor, immigration and being inclusive compared to conservative Catholicism focused more on condemning, more on abortion, more on the pelvic issues and sex and marriage. Pope Francis has shifted the papacy to different concerns.

The middle road is the way to navigate the extremes in the Church. Elitism is not the answer.

There is room for focused communities though. Some are charismatic, which are conservative in the Protestant sense, but far from those who desire the EF Mass. Marc writes about finding a true home in the FSSP, although he is fickle and without firm roots in the true Church yet. But there is a place for Marc-like Catholics as there is for charismatic Catholics at the other spectrum of worship in the Church.

We must be flexible in order not to break and leave the Church as so many on the right and left have. This is called commitment similar to marriage vows, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health...

But we cannot become so flexible that anything goes and Catholic identity is completely lost.

Finally, the Church is supernatural and already completely in heaven. While there will be crisis in the time between now and eternity in the Church, the Holy Spirit will guide her in His own time which is eternity.

In the meantime, we have to live with the Magisterium and accept what comes even if we don't like this, that or the other. It is God's Church, not our own.

So far, on the liturgical level, Pope Francis models a reverent, sober liturgical approach. He approved the Ordinariate's Missal which bodes well that our current OF Mass may be allowed the same look and options from the EF Mass that it already has at Pope Francis approval.

The EF Mass will never be the Ordinary Form of the Mass again. That hope has to die and be buried. But an improvement on the OF Mass will occur along the lines of the Ordinariate Missal--a reform of the reform. Pope Francis Sistine Chapel Mass is a sign of this and that a perceive liberal pope celebrated Mass this way should give those who want a dignified liturgy even in the Ordinary Form hope.

Reform of the reform in continuity is the way forward. Going backwards to the 1970's or the 1950's isn't!!!!! Compassion for people in dysfunctional, irregular lives has to be the way too. We can't shun everyone in order to maintain our own purity, especially if we are insecure in our purity and are tempted by the world too much.


Anonymous said...

Conservative Catholics don't shun anyone. It is a lie to say that we do.

We do not tolerate or make excuses or bend over backwards to rationalize sin.

We don't have a problem with being overtly Catholic and we don't see doctrine as a stumbling block.

We will not compromise the Faith just to make people who will NEVER accept the Faith happy.

Francis has allowed the impression that doctrine does not matter and he has shown glee in demoralizing the minority of faithful Catholics who remain. He allows the impression that adultery isn't all that serious and that in certain circumstances sacraligeous reception of Holy Communion is not only permissible but good. He has remained silent when millions of souls have begged him to speak clearly and defend the Faith. He has made the papacy all about him since the moment he stepped out onto that balcony. He promotes his own personal ideology over the truths of the Faith. It was a scandal of unbelievable proportion to accept with a great big smile that blasphemous filthy Communist crucifix......that wasn't just a mistake it was calculated. He knew it was going to happen he knew it would cause scandal and he did it anyway. He is unfit to sit on the throne of Peter and the serious questions about the validity of his canonical election need to be addressed.

Bless Me Father said...

We do not have to accept this, that or the other from the Magisterium, only the teaching of the Faith, taught with Christ's own abiding authority, and that with receptive, not blind, obedience. Policy decisions - such as communion in the hand, dished out of plastic cups, stood amid the pressing throng of souls hyped-up by flashing lights, Management Guru bible-thumping talks, and fake 1980s rocky or 1960s folksy musak - can and should be resisted, indeed corrected. Not because they are not to our own narrow or broad tastes, or because we do not fit in with them, but because they are errors .. like iconoclasm (of which they are a Modernist expression); if our magisterial pastors, including the popes, lead away from the universal customs of the Church, especially in regard the divine liturgy, we are not obliged to follow them (in fact we must seek to recall them to a witness to the Faith, which we are all called to share) - and that has nothing whatever to do with left, right or centre, only fidelity or faithlessness.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

According the Catholic dogma concerning the laity, no lay person can decide who is fit to be pope or not with any authority other than opinion. Thus those who think they have that right are actually very much like Martin Luther the founder of the Protestant Reformation. He was right about the corruption in the Church, but his remedy wasn't Catholic and he went the wrong way, similar to the one who makes the comments above--Protestant is the root of the comment which shows "coloring book Catholicism" of the reformation variety.

Anonymous said...

You always fall back on name calling when you can't argue in a reasoned way. May I suggest you read St. Thomas. Your crutch of calling people Protestant is not only old and over used but general lack of ability for the current clergy to intellectually engage other people. It's rather silly and it's why Protestants who take their faith seriously look down on Catholics as a group of rough, uneducated, rude,uninformed people who don't practice any charity. I have every right to have an opinion about Francis, I am not condemning him but his public actions. That's called being a normal human being with a mind that works.

Anonymous said...

Father, I am not particularly thrilled with Pope Francis, but I think it is fair to say that I try to refrain from discussing that with most people. I try to publicly show him the respect that the office of pope deserves. However, I also have a rational mind that can discern and I can't just shut it off.

Having said that, I think it is important to draw a couple of distinctions: Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us. It is an unfortunate part of the human condition that poor people exist and I am not discounting their suffering. HOWEVER, abortion is something else altogether. Roughly 50 million unborn have been killed legally since 1973 in the US alone. Does not that sin cry out to God far more than insensitivity to the poor?

This reminds me of Vatican II. The Council was supposed to deal with the problems confronting the Church in modern society. Well, nothing in modern society has done more to stop the Church cold and kill innocent people than Communism, yet there is not one word in any Vatican II documents condemning Communism.

Something is not right in the modern Church and we all know it. We have our noses stuck in the pebbles while huge stones surround us.

Jusadbellum said...

I second the motion that so-called "liberal" Catholics are not concerned with inclusion or "the poor". If they were, they wouldn't support the political and theological policies that exclude people and ensure entire nations remain in poverty and dependence.

Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald, I have pointed to an article by Fr Ripperger once before on the differences between traditionalists and neoconservatives. In it he points to the fact that the magisterium can be wrong. The following excerpt certainly points out what has led to the mess we are in today as the magisterium in many instances has deviated away from Church teaching - much of it based theologians formerly condemned. You, as a neoconservative, accept the current magisterium, warts and all, whereas traditionalists take a different view. So we have three differing views from conservative priests like yourself, traditional priests like Fr Ripperger and the liberal Fr Kavanaugh who posts here. I myself go along with what Fr Ripperger has to say and I think you should at least try to understand where traditionals are coming from rather than be as disparaging as you are about them. Also, if I were you I wouldn't place any bets on what the Mass of the future will be. It certainly won't be the Novus Ordo because soon the priests who offer it will outnumber parishioners. A number of foreign priests sent back from my diocese and, not surprisingly, you wouldn't notice it. Numbers are steadily declining.

An excerpt of Fr Ripperger's excellent article from 2001 here - how much worse it has become since then:

"In summary: Blondel and others, under the influence of modern philosophy, thought that modern man could not be satisfied with past ways of thinking. They provided an intellectual foundation upon which the Church, with a Council as a catalyst, could “update” itself or undergo an “aggiornamento.” With the foundations for the extrinsic tradition having been supplanted, the extrinsic tradition was lost. In other words, since the view of man had changed and since the view of the Deposit of Faith was subjected to a modern analysis, the extrinsic tradition, which rested upon these two, collapsed. We are currently living with the full-blown effects of that collapse. Catholics today have become fixated on the here and now, and in consequence the Church’s traditions have come to be treated not only as irrelevant but also as something to be distrusted and even, at times, demonized.

This has had several effects. The first is that those things that pertain to the extrinsic tradition and do not touch upon the intrinsic tradition are ignored. This manifests itself in the fact that some ecclesial documents today do not have any connection to the positions held by the Magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents that deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions: Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos. The approach to ecumenism and other religions in these documents is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II. While the current Magisterium can change a teaching that falls under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the Magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has an obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or is now to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The Magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, such as in the cases of Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion and infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification."

Marc said...
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Marc said...
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Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald, here is a further excerpt of what Fr Ripperger has to say and it certainly sums up my experience of conservative priests today:

"Inevitably, this magisterialism has led to a form of positivism. Since there are no principles of judgment other than the current Magisterium, whatever the current Magisterium says is always what is “orthodox.” In other words, psychologically the neoconservatives have been left in a position in which the extrinsic and intrinsic tradition are no longer included in the norms of judging whether something is orthodox or not. As a result, whatever comes out of the Vatican, regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past. Since non-infallible ordinary acts of the Magisterium can be erroneous, this leaves one in a precarious situation if one takes as true only what the current Magisterium says. While we are required to give religious assent even to the non-infallible teachings of the Church, what are we to do when a magisterial document contradicts other current or previous teachings and one does not have any more authoritative weight than the other? It is too simplistic merely to say that we are to follow the current teaching. What would happen if in a period of crisis, like our own, a non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching contradicted what was in fact the truth? If one part of the Magisterium contradicts another, both being at the same level, which is to believed?

Unfortunately, what has happened is that many neoconservatives have acted as if non-infallible ordinary magisterial teachings (such as, for instance, the role of inculturation in the liturgy as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) are, in fact, infallible when the current Magisterium promulgates them. This is a positivist mentality. Many of the things that neoconservatives do are the result of implicitly adopting principles that they have not fully or explicitly considered. Many of them would deny this characterization because they do not intellectually hold to what, in fact, are their operative principles.

As the positivism and magisterialism grew and the extrinsic tradition no longer remained a norm for judging what should and should not be done, neoconservatives accepted the notion that the Church must adapt to the modern world. Thus rather than helping the modern world to adapt to the teachings of the Church, the reverse process has occurred. This has led to an excessive concern with holding politically correct positions on secular matters. Rather than having a certain distrust of the world – which Christ exhorts us to have – many priests will teach something from the pulpit only as long as it is not going to cause problems. For example, how many priests are willing to preach against anti-scriptural feminism? The fact is that they have adopted an immanentized way of looking at what should be done, often from an emotional point of view. Coupled with political correctness, this has incapacitated ecclesiastical authorities in the face of the world and within the Church herself where the process of immanentization, with its flawed understanding of the nature of man and his condition as laboring under Original Sin, has severely undermined discipline. Even those who try to be orthodox have become accustomed to softer disciplinary norms, which fit fallen nature well, resulting in a lack of detachment from the current way of doing things and a consequent reluctance by neoconservatives to exercise authority – precisely because they lack the vital detachment required to do so.

All of the aforesaid has resulted in neoconservative rejection of the extrinsic tradition as the norm. This is why, even in “good” seminaries, the spiritual patrimony of the saints is virtually never taught."

Flavius Hesychius said...

Wow... you spend a few days in jail and come back to find things like this:

Marc writes about finding a true home in the FSSP, although he is fickle and without firm roots in the true Church yet.

Was this necessary at all?

Gene said...

So, tell us about your jail time...LOL! You should have written an epistle to Pokemon...er, Philemon, sorry.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Well, Gene, it's not the first time, so it was fairly standard, I'd say. Juvie was worse.

Gene said...

Flavius, you could write a blues song....well, I guess that's been done a bunch. Maybe some impassioned existential tome about the encounter of tortured individuality with the one-dimensional society that centers "freedom" in the oppressive structures of a rationalistic matrix, denying the spiritual yearning for a vision beyond the endless dialectic of encounter vs integrity...the endless struggle between living in good faith and succumbing to the collective will, which is no will at all, rather spiritual acquiescence....wait, hasn't that been done, too. Damn!

Gene said...

Flavius, did I not see you in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago?

Flavius Hesychius said...

Probably. I work there, right now. I may have even seen you, but I see dozens of customers a day, so who knows.

Gene said...

I'll say hey next time. I love that place.