Will the New Pope ‘Collapse’ the Catholic Church?

Rather than immediately rushing to analyze Pope Francisviews regarding homosexuality — as if they should be any surprise — I have found it illuminating to follow the commentary of traditionalist Catholics on today’s events.

Michael Brendan Dougherty, writing in Slate, has a quite dour appraisal:

Liturgical traditionalists (myself included) can only be depressed by this election — it is almost the worst result possible for those of us who think the new liturgy lost the theological profundity and ritual beauty of the Tridentine Mass. Benedict’s liberation of the traditional Latin Mass and revisions to the new vernacular Mass have not been implemented at all in Cardinal Bergoglio’s own diocese. Already some of the small breaks with liturgical tradition at the announcement of his election are being interpreted as a move toward the grand, unruly, and improvisational style of John Paul II; an implicit rebuke of Benedict.

Those Catholics who pine for a more “modern” pope are in essence wishing for the Church’s demise, Dougherty would argue. The grand modernization experiment, Vatican II, far from expanding the influence and relevance of Catholicism, actually served to severely diminish its appeal by muddling the uniqueness of Church tradition. Americans and Europeans have been shedding the religion by the droves ever since, to the point that priest recruitment has dropped to crisis-levels. Dougherty wonders whether Pope Francis’ reign, with all its novelty and break from tradition, “heralds collapse.” He concludes:

Pope Francis is now the man at the head of a Church impaired by immoral clergy, negligent bishops, and a moribund intellectual and spiritual life. God help him.

EDIT: More grave traditionalist blowback

About michaeltracey

Journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Follow me on Twitter at @mtracey.


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