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.