Friday, January 7, 2022


As a priest, I have been blessed by three different “new movements” in the post Vatican II Church.

The first is the Charismatic Movement to which I do not have a particular affinity and find too Pentecostal Protestant for my tastes as there is a syncretism of Protestant Pentecostalism and Catholicism. 

But with that said, I was named the pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta in 1991 where I had about 100 or so families which belonged to a predominantly Catholic charismatic covenant community. There were aspects of this community which needed purification and a release of a renewal of Catholic identity which I pushed my entire 13 years there. That recovery of Catholic identity within the context of openness to some aspects of charismatic spirituality has produced abundant fruit in Augusta. And this community has provided more vocations to the priesthood in our diocese and elsewhere than any other community in our diocese and stunningly so. 

At one time I wanted them suppressed but realized a pastoral solicitude toward them while challenging some of the disorders in that community was the ultimate best route to take. And now with a strong Catholic identity, but still charismatic, this community adds flavor to the Church in Augusta and in our diocese.

The second new movement I have encountered are homeschooling communities. I became aware of these at the Cathedral in Savannah around 1986 or so. I was very suspicious of them and wondered how they could produce well rounded children. Over the years, I have come to appreciate them and have for many years, since my time at St. Joseph Church in Macon and now at Saint Anne, to encourage them and open the parish to their use. They are like a leaven in our communities as is the Alleluia Community in Augusta. I believe they will produce abundant vocations for the Church if solicitude is shown to them.

The third “new movement” are the many young Catholics and others of all ages in between who have discovered or rediscovered the so-called “antecedent” Mass. Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and for over 30 years now, these communities have bee allowed to live in peace with the Church’s hierarchy and to prosper and grow. These communities have been producing religious vocations far outnumbering normal parish life in most dioceses percentage wise, similar to the Alleluia Community in Augusta and Homeschooling communities. 

Pastoral solicitude to keep these unique communities on track, non-elitists and solid and healthy is necessary, not authoritarian crackdowns. 

What Pope Francis has done with his rigid approach to so-called “traditionalist” communities is a pastoral scandal in the truest sense of the word and a blunder beyond belief from a pope who constantly asks for accompaniment and listening from Church leaders. I do not think Pope Francis has ever visited any traditionalist communities especially when large numbers have gathered in Rome for various celebrations. It is unconscionable from a pastoral point of view to say the least. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am a post-Vatican II priest who celebrates the Ordinary Form Mass as the primary Mass in my parish. My participation in the Extraordinary Form has been precisely that, extraordinary and limited. But I see the fruits of these communities and also the problems of elitism and being unrealistic about the older form of the Mass once again becoming the normal form.

One does not need to crush a community in order to teach them that their opinions are wrong. They need pastoral guidance. Pope Francis has blundered in this and has undermined the papacy in doing so. Can we trust any pope and his decisions if another pope comes in and reverses it? Pope Francis has done this to a saint who was pope and a saintly pope emeritus still living. It is a scandal. 

Traditionis Custodes: “An entire generation will now fight for the liberation of the Mass”


Here is a moneybyte from the interview above, press the title above for the entire balanced intereview:

Does such a document carry the risk of fracturing the Church?

 By adopting such a strict position, where there are conflicts with diocesan authorities, a whole generation that did not experience the liturgical war of the 1960s and 1970s will now fight for the liberation of the traditional Mass. 

Each community will naturally defend its prerogative because it sees in this decision a profound injustice. However, as the historian Guillaume Cuchet recently explained in his book Does Catholicism still have a future in France? (Le catholicisme a-t-il encore un avenir en France), the transmission of the faith continues more effectively in these communities of the faithful than elsewhere. These communities are alive and give vocations, in a world that is ultra-secularized and constantly de-Christianizing. These communities, far from being isolated from the world, recognize themselves in the observations of Pope Benedict XVI about creative minorities.

 Inevitably, others will return to the Society of St. Pius X because of the goodwill that their fidelity to the Roman See has earned them. More seriously, vocations that have matured within traditionalist communities will find themselves faced with a real life choice. This is the most terrible part of this affair. When you have grown up spiritually in a universe, your future may be suspended by a Roman authorization and this one legal act could, possibly, ask you to deny your own journey in the Faith and its liturgical expression. Thus vocations may be lost or, at the very least, there will be serious crises of conscience. 

 In other words, the two Roman texts of the last six months create a cluster bomb that the bishops will have to deal with in the coming months. Personally, I think that the Church, deeply tainted by the sexual abuse of minors, has other priorities and that she cannot afford the luxury of a crisis of this kind.


TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Here is a comment from a layman on the current situation.

'Our family came to tradition just as Francis became pope and my kids were entering their young adult years. I am grateful for that bolt of grace which has steeled us thru recent years. My kids see it this way: the clergy of a certain age see the disaster their life’s work has produced and in their pride are playing out their bitterness tantrum-style. Their intractability in the face of kids who love God and His church in its traditional form and live the faith causes the kids to have little respect for them whom they would otherwise defend to the enth degree. In the words of a diocesan seminarian I know, who upon being asked, answered with an admirable display of restraint out of charity: ‘F1 doesn’t inspire me’."

I think ultimately, long after the current Pontificate, the EF will be around and be attended by Faithful Catholics while the demographic sinkhole continues to engulf the Spirit of Vatican II Church. The OF will need to morph more into the EF if the Church wants to flourish. After all, only 30% of its current attendees believe in the Real Presence. That fact alone should cause the heirarchy considerable pause about TC.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

TJM, the adherents to the EF Mass are a very small number in the Church worldwide. It would be like saying charismatic Catholics will be the only ones left in the sink hole of ordinary form Catholicism. That simply isn't the case worldwide.

The Ordinary Form will remain; it isn't going anywhere. I believe another pope, though, will restore the Benedict option. That is my prayer anyway.

Tom Makin said...

Father: Your elucidation of your experiences really hits home. To me, it is a true example of accompaniment across time and in different settings. I cannot think of a better example that underscores your closing point. There was never a need for Francis and his ilk to do what he/they have done, and are now doing, with great gusto. I said at the beginning that TC was a solution looking for a problem. I have never believed that Bishops actually told the Pope, through a survey, in a significant way, that would drive a "correction", that adherents to the Traditional Form were tearing dioceses apart and creating division and fracture. I have always believed that he has manufactured this crisis. I firmly believe he is disingenuous and put TC out in some fake fraternal way. I assert that he is pursuing a long held personal agenda in a harsh crackdown reminiscent of his MO as the Jesuit Leader in Argentina. He is an old dog that has never changed and we will simply have to live with this until we don't have to. My prayer is that the damage he has done as Holy Father, in this and other matters, is not perpetuated in the next Conclave.

William said...

As we pray, so we believe. The Ordinary Form has been like an I.V. drip slowly and consistently putting toxins into the Church's veins. 33% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence and fewer than one half of them pray daily, etc., etc. This is unsustainable. True, traditional Catholics are a very small minority but they are indeed increasing in number and producing many vocations. Who are you going to believe, me? or your own eyes?

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

The OF continues to shed Catholics and the EF inspires vocations. Catholic parishes are closing in cities like Chicago even in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods. In France 25 percent of ordinations are men who celebrate the EF. Look, I admire you and your work. You recognize the problem, but not enough of your brother priests do because they are heavily involved in the failing status quo. I believe your approach has been successful. Unfortunately there are not enough of you in the typical parish

ByzRus said...

Not sure who to attribute this to:

"In other words, the two Roman texts of the last six months create a cluster bomb that the bishops will have to deal with in the coming months. Personally, I think that the Church, deeply tainted by the sexual abuse of minors, has other priorities and that she cannot afford the luxury of a crisis of this kind."

Evidently, the Church, deeply tainted by the sexual abuse of minors, does not have other priorities that she cannot afford the luxury of a crisis of this kind as that is exactly what has happened here. A crisis, perhaps for the few, that didn't need to happen.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

This is from Pew Research from around 2019 and I doubt things have gotten any better:

"Indeed, about half (52%) of all U.S. adults who were raised Catholic have left the church at some point in their lives. A significant minority of them returned, but most (four-in-ten of all those raised Catholic) have not. Roughly two-thirds of those who have not returned (28% of all those raised Catholic) are now ex-Catholics."

As a Catholic who grew up with the glorious Pre Vatican II Church, this depresses me.

Fr Martin Fox said...

It's just sad, because I can't see much good fruit from this.

Not even for the stated goal: of inducing those devoted to traditional things to be more devoted to Vatican II and to the pope. How does being so cruel to them help in that regard?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The pope and those advising him have blundered. But they don’t care. The ideologies of the 1970’s can’t fully triumph without a fully narcissistic liturgy and that’s not the antecedent Mass and sacraments.

TJM said...

Fathers Fox and McDonald,

This is the last gasp of the doubleknit dinosaurs. Many younger bishops are actually friendly to tradition and the EF and they are not imposing the nastier aspects of TC and some are ignoring it altogether. Moreover, my pastor is 32, and celebrates the EF. These folks in the Vatican are truly delusional if they think he will forget how to celebrate the EF, even he even chooses temporarilly to stop celebrating the EF. Once PF is gone, it will not be long before TC becomes dead letter except in a Diocese run by some old spirit of Vatican II type, but even there, that won't last because that bishop has to retire at 75 and there are not many progressives in the younger clergy from which bishops are selected. I have never encountered a "progressive" priest under the age of 50.