The Permanent Scandal of the Vatican

First Things editor Joseph Bottum has a long must-read of a piece showing over at the Weekly Standard.

The day the Antichrist is ripped from his papal throne, true religion will guide the world. Or perhaps it’s the day the last priest is gutted, and his entrails used to strangle the last king, as Voltaire demanded. Yes, that’s when we will see at last the reign of bright, clean, enlightened reason—the release of mankind from the shadows of medieval superstition. War will end. The proletariat will awaken from its opiate dream. The oppression of women will stop. And science at last will be free from the shackles of Rome.

For almost 500 years now, Catholicism has been an available answer, a mystical key, to that deep, childish, and existentially compelling question: Why aren’t we there yet? Why is progress still unfinished? Why is promise still unfulfilled? Why aren’t we perfect? Why aren’t we changed?

Despite our rejection of the past, the future still hasn’t arrived. Despite our advances, corruption continues. It needs an explanation. It requires a response. And in every modernizing movement—from Protestant Reformers to French Revolutionaries, Communists to Freudians, Temperance Leaguers and suffragettes to biotechnologists and science-fiction futurists—someone in despair eventually stumbles on the answer: We have been thwarted by the Catholic Church.

Or by the Jews, of course. Perhaps it’s no accident that anti-Semitism should also be making a reappearance these days. The poet Peter Viereck’s famous line—“Catholic-baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals”—gets quoted in too many contexts to express the connection anymore, and, God knows, the history of Catholicism has plenty of anti-Semitic sins to expiate. Still, Jews and Catholics do have this much in common: In moments of uncertainty and doubt, the people of the West go haring back again to their old gods and traditional answers—blaming the Jews and the Catholic Church.


Do read the whole thing,
because it covers a great deal of ground and dares to defend the very effective policies which the church and this pope have put into place over the past decade, both to address and to prevent abusive situations. This is reassuring news for victims who are not hearing it elsewhere, and need to know about it; they need to know that their suffering and their pain has been heard – that it is being and will continue to be addressed.

I was I was particularly taken, though, with the last section which is a genuine clarion call to Catholic commentators, to be aware that the failings of the left are being tagged with the failings of the church in order to deflect blame for our woeful state and our awful lives. They’ve certainly succeeded in Ireland where our tribe has lost all sense of itself (the day I read they took cigarettes out of pubs is the day I knew Ireland was lost, and I don’t smoke). Americans, endeared to bumper-sticker-speak, short on attention and confused about what is happening in their own government will be very amenable to a central source of all-blaming, which will be the church, and (as Bottum rightly assesses) the Jews.

Don’t be afraid. We’re in for interesting times, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

I’m sort of looking at this whole crisis as an opportunity for the church to renew itself, be washed clean. It won’t be an overnight cleansing, but I think it will be thorough.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mike

    My dear Anchoress: there is much happening under the radar. The Holy Spirit is acting in many ways. I have only a dim sense of what is coming but God’s victory is at hand, unlikely though that seem. Keep the faith and the faith will keep you.

  • Aimee

    You know it’s funny, after my initial response to this whole thing, where I thought that surely we would see reason in the press emerge after Holy Week ended (I have no idea why I thought that) and so I wrote like mad to any news organization I could, I’ve been able to take a deep breath, and kind of settle in for the long haul. Now I just try to keep educated and updated, wear my cross around my neck (I wish there was some way I could signal my Catholicism more specifically), and ready myself to speak with love to my neighbor about my church should the occasion arise. It’s evident that there’s much more going on here, as Mike observes, and we need to watch and wait.

  • Gail F

    What a fantastic article. I especially like this bit: “Most people, however, are just looking for an explanation. They worked so hard to build the life the contemporary world demands, and still they are anxious. They rejected the sexual strictures of the past, just as they were taught to do, and still their children are in danger. There must be a reason for the unfulfilled promise of modern sex and modern life. There must be a mystical, magical key that will unlock the door to paradise. Why have we been thwarted? Why aren’t we there yet?”

    My worry is that this is indeed an opening salvo in an eventual attack on religion itself in the West. But my comfort, such as it is, is that such a battle will not succeed. If it happens (continues happening, more likely) though, it will not be pleasant to live through.

  • Denise

    Thank you for the link to this article.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com Foxfier

    Darkly amusing: one of the quotes is from a news headline; to paraphrase: “Sex abuse forty to thirty years ago at a city high school does not empty local church!”

    No, really?

  • Last Sphere

    From the Weekly Standard article:

    (‘What else did you expect from that generation?” one young seminarian sneered when I asked him about the priest scandals. “Those old 1960s and 1970s types thought they were God’s gift to the ages. That they were smarter, better, more spiritual than anyone else had ever been. They said they didn’t need the old supervision and rules—the old wisdom about human behavior—that Catholicism had built up over centuries of experience. And, yeah, so, of course, when they finally got some power of their own, they ruined the liturgy, they wrecked the churches, and they buggered little boys. None of it should have been a surprise.”)

    There is more truth to that observation than Mr. Bottum was willing to submit.

    The destruction of authentic Catholicism (through heretical theology, apostasy, and Socialism relabeled as “social justice”) stems from the same generational cesspool that spawned the current ongoing political destruction of our crumbling Representative Republic.

    On the heels of the Greatest Generation came the most degenerate generations of all: the Woodstock Generation of radical Liberalism, and the “me” generation.

    Is there no end to the insane destruction those radicals have unleashed upon our society?

    Perhaps it’s true: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”

  • Carl

    Last Sphere,

    Liberalism is a very slippery slope; you can’t have a little bit and then just stop. Our representative republic, universal suffrage, and capitalism are all part of the same destructive liberal current of which you speak.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com Foxfier

    Carl-
    so, freeing the slaves led directly to child abuse? What an odd notion.

  • Paul Hughes

    The Catholic Church is the fountain of life for the world, however it does seem that Catholic’s have lost their moxie as a whole never mind the Irish.

    Those of us who really want to strengthen the Church must take concrete steps to do so. There are people who have an influence online and in their parishes.

    Those people and the priests must do the following.

    1. Get rid of CITH
    2. Teach people how to actually pray
    3. Confession
    4. The four last things must be taught.

    These four things will do all that is required to strengthen the Church.

    P

  • Joe Odegaard

    Thanks for the Julian of Norwich quote.

  • dry valleys

    Well, at least Carl takes his theology seriously & follows it through to its rightful conclusion. Which is more than can be said for a lot of people.

    [True enough, that. -admin]

  • Last Sphere

    (Liberalism is a very slippery slope; you can’t have a little bit and then just stop.)

    Yes I know Carl. And that is precisely my point.

    (Our representative republic, universal suffrage, and capitalism are all part of the same destructive liberal current of which you speak.)

    No Carl. Those concepts were by their very nature Christian precepts meant to allow the development of humanity’s freewill to the full extent of God’s intentions.

    In contrast however, modern Liberalism, which peaked in the 60′s and 70′s, has bastardized those original ideals and has festered into the current culture of death (both physically and spiritually) that bears little resemblance to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.

    The creed of this modern militant “Progressivism” does not embrace the reality that Christ is The Truth, The Way, And The Life.

    No no no. Instead, it rationalizes away any inconvenient conflicts with traditional theological wisdom and dogma by wading deeper and deeper into the gray waters of moral relativism as it turns to the modern (yet ancient) creed of Pontius Pilate:

    “What is truth?”

  • Judith L

    Thank you for the link to this wonderful article. Thursday evening my husband and i went to a fund-raising dinner for a local pregnancy counseling organization. The speaker was a dynamic Roman Catholic priest, whose career has been devoted to combating abortion. As he was speaking, I thought how cruel that he, like every priest, has born some of the slime thrown at the clergy. And I think it is true that this is not just an anti-Catholic moment, but it is part of an anti-Christian moment.

  • http://contemplative.com ?William Fredrickson

    Looking at pictures of the eruption of the volcano in Iceland and seeing our littlenesss in comparison to nature,

    I see the Church, withstanding the eruptions of power in the world and dissension within the Church, with an 83 year old man as the successor of Peter, fulfiling the truth of God that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, that the gates of hell will not prevail, as we remain united with the Vicar of Christ within the communion of Christ’s real body, the Church.

  • Pingback: What am I afraid of? « Jim Blazsik

  • Sky

    From the Weekly Standard article:

    (‘What else did you expect from that generation?” one young seminarian sneered when I asked him about the priest scandals. “Those old 1960s and 1970s types thought they were God’s gift to the ages. That they were smarter, better, more spiritual than anyone else had ever been. They said they didn’t need the old supervision and rules—the old wisdom about human behavior—that Catholicism had built up over centuries of experience. And, yeah, so, of course, when they finally got some power of their own, they ruined the liturgy, they wrecked the churches, and they buggered little boys. None of it should have been a surprise.”)

    The young seminarian who submitted this comment was exactly right. I attended seminary in the 60′s and 70′s. One of the reasons I got out was this impenetrable arrogance among the clergy. Granted there were many who meant well, and in their own way they tried. But the most pervasive attitude you found those days among priests was that they could do what they wanted. Canon Law, Traditional Moral Theology, Dogmatic Theology, Liturgical Norms, and common sense were all discarded. And human respect was the false god of all clergy. There was nothing so feared as being thought “behind the times” by fellow priests. Until the infections of those years are gone from the Church we will continue to suffer the scandals we are seeing today. The number one reason for the loss of faith and love for the Church in the West has been the incredibly incompetent teaching, behaviors, and liturgical abuses of the clergy from those years. It makes me wish I had been born either 50 years earlier or 50 years later!

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    Meanwhile the land of Thomas More and Thomas Becket is still at it.

  • Last Sphere

    (Sky wrote- The number one reason for the loss of faith and love for the Church in the West has been the incredibly incompetent teaching, behaviors, and liturgical abuses of the clergy from those years.)

    I returned to The Roman Catholic Church six years ago after an absence of almost twenty years, and if there is one thing I am sure of it is this: the questionable teachings aren’t merely incompetent- they are actively corrupt.

    A clear explanation for this can be found here:

    Liberation Theology
    by
    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    What could have led to that complete new orientation of theological thought that is expressed in liberation theology? In the main I see three factors which made it possible.

    1. After the Council a new theological situation had arisen, again characterized by three assertions:

    a. The view arose that the existing theological tradition was largely no longer adequate, and that, as a result, an entirely new theological and spiritual orientation needed to be sought directly from Scripture and from the signs of the times.

    b. The idea of a turning to the world, of responsibility for the world, frequently deteriorated into a naive belief in science which accepted the human sciences as a new gospel without wanting to see their limitations and endemic problems. Psychology, sociology and the marxist interpretation of history seemed to be scientifically established and hence to become unquestionable arbiters of Christian thought.

    c. The criticism of tradition applied by modern Evangelical exegesis, in particular by Rudolf Bultmann and his school, similarly became a firm theological authority, cutting off the path to theology in its prior form and so encouraging people all the more to produce new constructions.

    Read more here

    P.S. The more theological analysis I read from Pope Benedict- the more I respect the man.

  • cathyf

    Oh, yeah, those “sixties priests”. Diocese of Davenport list of priests whom credible claims were made against

    Name: Francis Bass
    Year of Ordination: 1948
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: early 1950′s
    Accused of sexual abuse of 18 male minors

    Name: Herman Bongers
    Year of Ordination: 1939
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1948
    Accused of sexual abuse of 5 male minors

    Name: Bernard Brugman
    Year of Ordination: 1943
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1963
    Accused of sexual abuse of 1 male minor

    Name: Sylvester Conrad
    Year of Ordination: 1952
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: early 1960′s
    Accused of sexual abuse of 1 female minor

    Name: Orville DeCoursey
    Year of Ordination: 1931
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1945
    Accused of sexual abuse of 4 male minors

    Name: Paul Deyo
    Year of Ordination: 1976
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1983
    Accused of sexual abuse of 3 male minors

    Name: Thomas Feeney
    Year of Ordination: 1937
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1957
    Accused of sexual abuse of 15 male minors

    Name: Fidelis Forrester
    Year of Ordination: unk
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1955
    Accused of sexual abuse of 3 male minors

    Name: Theodore Geerts
    Year of Ordination: 1946
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1961
    Accused of sexual abuse of 3 male minors

    Name: Thomas Hackett
    Year of Ordination: 1943
    Earliest Claimed Abuse: 1942
    Accused of sexual abuse of 3 male minors

    …that’s just page one of four… Ooo, yeah, that’s the Woodstock Generation fer sure! That musta been some acid trip — they had an actual time machine that allowed them to go back to the 40′s and 50′s to abuse kids! Just in case you were wondering how they found the time between celebrating “clown masses” (juggling and unicycle riding practice eats up a lot of hours) and plotting the heretical destruction of the Church, well, now we know!

  • Last Sphere

    From The 2004 John Jay Report:

    “According to the survey data, 9.7% of the reported allegations of abuse began in the 1950s, 26.1% in the 1960s, 35.5% in the 1970s, 22.6% in the 1980s, and 6.2% began between 1990 and 2002. Likewise, the number of priests who were reported as having engaged in sexual abuse of minors rose steadily in the 1960s, peaked in the 1970s, and declined sharply throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Priests ordained in the early 1970s were more likely to have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor than priests ordained in any other period.

    As noted above, abuse of males between the ages of eleven and seventeen is primarily responsible for the spike in the incidence rate of clergy sexual abuse between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. The number of male victims between the ages of eleven and seventeen increased more than six-fold from the 1950s (with 353 victims) to the 1970s (with 2,129 victims). The number of male victims under the age of eleven increased significantly as well – more than three-fold – during the same period, from 135 to 434.

    The data appear to support the view expressed by many that the crisis has an epidemic character – exploding in the late 1960s and subsiding in the 1980s. The number of reported incidents of sexual abuse of minors by priests significantly lessened after the bishops began addressing the problem more forcefully in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It must be cautioned, however, that there typically is a long lag between the occurrence of abuse and the report of that abuse, so additional allegations of abuse during that time period will be reported in the coming years. Given, however, the amount of attention paid to this issue in the last few years, and the efforts by the dioceses to identify victims, it is likely that abuse is reported more promptly today than in the past.”

    study

    Of course cathyf, the mind-set of the Woodstock 1960′s and ’70′s did not strictly begin at January 1st 1960 nor did it nice and cleanly end at December 31 1979.

    I’m sorry this analysis ruffled your Liberal sensibilities my dear.

    Peace and Love sweetheart.

  • Mary

    Now that we have the data…
    Now that we are aggressively dealing with this…

    Why now?
    Why this time frame?
    Just because this is the only data we have?
    Or did something change after WWII?
    Babyboomers behaving badly?
    Or something more, such as the spiritual damage done during the war, seeing the genocide, the destruction? Did we lose our way, or did we lose God?

  • Barbara

    Paul, I agree 100% with the second and third proposal, because these two items are seriously lacking, but your acronym of CITH brought me 142000 different websites on Google and so can you please let us know what that is? Your fourth proposal leaves me stumped, because you have given us only three things to be taught.

    1. Get rid of CITH
    2. Teach people how to actually pray
    3. Confession
    4. The four last things must be taught.

  • Last Sphere

    (Or did something change after WWII?
    Babyboomers behaving badly?
    Or something more, such as the spiritual damage done during the war, seeing the genocide, the destruction? Did we lose our way, or did we lose God?)

    Read this Mary:

    Liberation Theology
    by
    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    “2. This changed theological situation coincided with a changed intellectual situation. At the end of the phase of reconstruction after the Second World War, which corresponded roughly to the end of the Council, a tangible vacuum of meaning had arisen in the Western world to which the still dominant existentialist philosophy could give no answer. In this situation the various brands of neo-marxism became a moral impulse, also holding out a promise of meaning that was practically irresistible to the academic youth. Bloch’s marxism with its religious veneer and the strictly scientific appearance of the philosophies of Adorno, Horkheimer, Habermas and Marcuse offered models of action by which people believed they could respond to the moral challenge of misery in the world as well as realize the proper meaning of the biblical message.

    3. The moral challenge of poverty and oppression presented itself in an ineluctable form at the very moment when Europe and North America had attained a hitherto unknown affluence. This challenge evidently called for new answers which were not to be found in the existing tradition. The changed theological and philosophical situation was a formal invitation to seek the answer in a Christianity which allowed itself to be guided by the models of hope — apparently scientifically grounded — put forward by marxist philosophies.”

    Read it all here: http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/ratzinger/liberationtheol.htm

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny L.

    I read the entire Weekly Standard piece. It’s a very good article Mr. Bottum.

    The whole mess leaves me saddened. We have to stop flagellating ourselves over this. We have to insist we had a problem, a problem no different from any other institution, and we have made the proper changes to the institution to address this. The anti-catholics will never be satisfied, never until the church is completely belittled and disgraced, and then they will call for its extinguishment.

    As far as I’m concerned this issue is over. We have paid restitution and made the proper changes.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com Foxfier

    Barbara-
    Communion In The Hand. (vs On The Tongue)

  • expat

    Read the 5th from last paragraph in the Ross Douthat piece.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/opinion/26douthat.html

    If this type of “entertainment” isn’t met with rejection by the public, then there seems to be something to the argument that the welfare of children only matters when violated by Catholics. The coverup and protection of perverse priests is a scandal, but the adulation of perverse artists and entertainers is equally one.

  • Brandy Miller

    The problems in the Catholic Church exist not because of one particular idealogy or another, or because we switched from Latin to vernacular, or because of one generation being particularly wicked over another generation’s wickedness. It exists for the reason that human beings are all plagued by the twin diseases of sin and death. These diseases leave us weakened and susceptible to doing sometimes horrible things to one another. We come to the one and only hospital capable of offering us a cure – the Church – and seek healing from the Divine Physician. Even those who tend us are sick and lame, and sometimes can’t give us the example we need. The disease we have takes a lifetime to cure and much suffering and struggle along the way. Not all of us are willing to stay in that hospital and do the work required. Sometimes we lose hope. Sometimes we fail.

    Now, having said that, I can specifically point to the place in history where most of the evils of our current day took root: the day learned men embraced Darwin’s Origin of Species. The proposal that man did not arise by the hand of God but by random chance and the notion of “survival of the fittest” has done more to encourage evil in the heart of men than just about anything else in recent history. It has given rise to people like Margaret Sanger, government ordered sterilizations (yes, in our own America and even before the birth control pill was introduced!), birth control, Hitler’s Third Reich and the effort to exterminate the Jews, the “free” sex movement, abortion, the breakdown of traditional marriage, and the rise of the homosexual normalization movement. The problems in the priesthood are merely a reflection of the disease running epidemic in the population.

    Sadly, Darwin’s proposition of random chance is so unscientific that it surprises me to see men of reason embrace it at all. Science cannot operate in a universe where random chance is the rule because in that universe there would be no point in conducting experiments since we could never be certain of the results. It is only because we have laws which do not change and are constant that we can test our suppositions through experimentation being certain that if we control all variables the results will be the same.

  • cathyf

    As someone who actually lived through the 70′s and 80′s in the Church, what I saw was a tremendous sense of entitlement among priests. Somewhere around 100,000 priests worldwide had deserted the priesthood, and the seminaries were empty. One of my priest friends, who was ordained in the 50′s, joked after he became a pastor in the mid-80′s that back when he was an asst pastor they were peons and they had to do all of the stuff the pastor didn’t want to do, and now that he was a pastor the young priests were all prima donnas and it was the pastor who had to do all of the things that the assistant didn’t feel like doing.

    Parishes started closing and consolidating to deal with the priest shortage, but even before that you had rural areas that became suburban and dioceses did not have the personnel to open parishes like they would have in a different era. So you had someplace where the population increased 20-fold, and so you ended up with a parish with 2000, 3000 or more members. And they did not expand or open Catholic schools, and so these parishes were awash in money that they really didn’t have good ways to spend it all. That tended to get pointed towards the priests. They got lavished with expensive gifts, and lots of attention. (Father goes golfing with his friends from the parish and rather jokingly expresses envy for a shiny new cadillac, and takes the inevitable joshing from the guys because he drives an old beater. Pretty soon the guys have decided that the parish is going to raise the money to buy father a shiny new caddy, too.)

    Sexually abusing kids, or taking advantage of his position to prey sexually on adults, those are only the most heinous end-game. I saw a lot of much more venial expressions of entitlement, too. At one parish I used to be in, a former pastor had left the priesthood, but also left town with a woman and over $100,000 from the parish bank accounts. There haven’t been any systematic studies of the problems, but in some dioceses the chancellors have commented that for every 1 priest accused of any sexual crime, there were 20 or 30 who were stealing money from their parishes.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I find that kind of comforting. Yeah, stealing is a sin, but it ain’t anything like the descent into evil that sexual predation represents. So, you know, this just points to priests being mostly “normal” sinners.

  • Gary Keith Chesterton

    Barbara, the Four Last Things are Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. He is calling for these things to be generally and consistently taught.

  • Last Sphere

    From The 2004 John Jay Report:

    “It has been reported to the Review Board that, in some areas, the large number of homosexual priests or candidates had the effect of discouraging heterosexual men from seeking to enter the priesthood. In the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, there developed at certain seminaries a “gay subculture,” and at these seminaries, according to several witnesses, homosexual liaisons occurred among students or between students and teachers. Such subcultures existed or exist in certain dioceses or orders as well. The Board believes that the failure to take disciplinary action against such conduct contributed to an atmosphere in which sexual abuse of adolescent boys by priests was more likely. In light of this background, it is vital that bishops, provincials, and seminary rectors ensure that seminaries create a climate and a culture conducive to chastity.”

    This ominous and inconvenient fact looms large. We ignore it at our own peril.

  • Andy

    Ohh, CITH, I thought it meant Cat in the Hat. Too many acronyms in this day and age.

    Thanks for the explain.

    I attend the Latin Rite, so I’ve gotten away from CITH, even though I never did use it as it was always optional in our parish. Comes the epidemic/pandemic/anydemic of H1N1 and our parish banned COTT* although I really didn’t see the difference. There was no Latin Mass last Christmas, so we were forced to go CITH against our principles either that or not receive. So, we did COTT* one time.

    Growing up as I did in the 50′s, the Latin Rite just seems to right to me, I hope they never get rid of it.

    COTT=Communion on the tongue.

  • Peter from MN

    Ireland’s pubs have gone smokeless!? I hadn’t heard that. Such is truely a sign we are in the end times.

  • http://wannabeanglican.blogspot.com/ WannabeAnglican

    Thanks for posting this, dear Anchoress.

    And, if I may say so, you also have written very well on the subject as I have pointed out to my readers.

  • Doc

    Cathy, the liberation theology of the 60′s infected more than just those who were ordained at that time. The loosening of morals and discipline were an awful tempation to those who needed that discipline to constrain their immoral impulses. Do What Feels Right does not mix well with the self-restraint required of an obedient priest.

  • http://timhollingworth.blogspot.com Tim H

    Where is personal sanctity in all this?

  • George

    I’ll take Mr. Ratzinger more seriously when Bernie Law aka Cardinal Bernard Law is turfed out of his pied a terre in Rome and makes himself available to the Grand Jury that awaits him. I ask you, after what the world has witnessed, “would you EVER trust one of these cretans with your children? That’s if you have any. No, no Anchoress it’ll take a bit more than a little spring cleaning, surgery in the form of schism is in the works. Worshiping ad orientem ain’t gonna do it either! This is going to be very messy.

    [I fully expect the schism. The "American Catholic Church" will make everything right by becoming a copy of the imploding Church of England. I'll be sticking with Rome, but we're all free to worship where we wish. -admin]

  • PatrickH

    Cathy, I agree about the sense of entitlement in priests that you mention. These priests, who joined the priesthood at the time of a catastrophic drop in the prestige of that vocation (long before the scandals came out), nonetheless had an inflated sense of their own importance, this sense no doubt being reinforced by their dwindling numbers. But it was also reinforced by changes in worship that put the priest in a starring role he simply did not have pre-Council. The priest now faced the congregation like a star before his audience. He now “performed” the Mass as the centre of attention. Non Eucharist-centred popular worship declined, including forms in which priestly participation and supervision were minimal (Adoration, Forty Hours, etc.).

    So priests did have a sense of entitlement. But notice that that sense was reinforced by liberal changes in worship practice as well as in the doctrinal nonsense identified so well by the “sneering” young seminarian in the article.

    That generation was more or less poison, at least in North America. I believe Benedict’s program can be summarized (simplified) by saying it is an attempt to reverse the damage done by that generation and restore the connection between the Church today and the pre-Council Church that that generation so disrupted, to their and our everlasting hurt.

  • Last Sphere

    (I ask you, after what the world has witnessed, would you EVER trust one of these cretans with your children?)

    From CBSNews Aug. 24, 2006:

    A major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students reported having been targeted with sexual attention by school employees. According to one researcher sexual harassment and abuse by teachers is 100 times more frequent than abuse by priests. – CBS NEWS

    link

    —————–

    Now I ask you George, after what the media has witnessed and chooses to down play, would you EVER trust ANY TEACHERS with your children?

  • Barbara

    Thank you Foxfier and Gary for the explanations.

  • Jeff

    The aggiornamento chickens have all (hopefully) come home to roost.

  • pinklady

    Thanks Anchoress for the link. I’m glad I printed it out to keep it. Some of my fellow commenters really should read the entire article.I left the church in the eighties but came back in 2000(thanks cancer!). I will never let flawed, imperfect human(s) ever again take my faith and church away from me. Being a Catholic takes a lifetime I’ve discovered. Those who expect a priest to “perform” the Mass for them are just not growing in their faith. Thanks Anchoress for your tremendous writing and helping me on my faith journey. You really ARE the BEST!

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Amen to that pinklady! My story is pretty much the same as yours and I too have found Elizabeth’s writing and linkage invaluable and inspiring.

    I’m not well-versed in Church history and such, so I’d like your opinion, Elizabeth, on the criticism proffered in these comments about the “council” (I presume Vatican II) and the damage done to the Church by CITH, etc. Maybe you don’t care to get into it here – understandably.

    Let me just say, if/when a schism forms in the American Church, I hope some part that follows Rome maintains the mass in our native languages (Pentecost anyone?) and CITH (“take and eat”) and other council reforms making God more approachable for me. I don’t know where I’ll go if the Church reverts. And I seriously doubt V II had much of anything to do with sex abuse by the clergy. What don’t we understand about fallen human nature yet? Have ya’ll read the Bible lately? There is a strain of Utopianism which infects both ends of the spectrum. Just because something isn’t perfect, like the human institution of the Church, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Do you believe Jesus is The Way or is there something you know about human perfectibility minus the Second Coming you’d like to share with the rest of us? Just asking.

    [My humble opinion is that the only thing wrong with the Second Vatican Council was its implementation. If you read the documents of the council (you can google them) they are fine; they never expressed an interest to overhaul the church. The problem is, Rome did a miserable job in communications (not so unusual) and allowed the narratives to get away from them. So, something like the suggestion that the faithful be encouraged to find their own, more personal and meaningful sacrifices to make on Friday, as opposed to simply giving up meat, became "it's not a sin to eat meat on Friday anymore," -a gross distortion, poorly taught. It made the church look capricious and arbitrary (recall George Carlin mocking the church for "all those people in hell on a meat rap for having a bologna sandwich on Friday). If you ask most Catholics today, they have no idea why we gave up meat before, and they are completely unaware of the fact that we are STILL encouraged to make a sacrifice of some sort, on Fridays. The church is at fault here. She allowed a thousand balls to drop after the council. But the council itself was not a bad thing. -admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    The problem is, Rome did a miserable job in communications (not so unusual) and allowed the narratives to get away from them.

    Let’s not fall into the error of judging communications in the 1960s by the standards of 2010 in the Information Age, when we can read what the Pope said a few short hours, if not minutes, after he said it, if not watch and hear him say it.

    Back in the dinosaur age of the 60s and 70s, before the Internet, before Amazon, before big-time book stores, before a huge book publishing industry, there simply was not the ability to quickly or easily translate official documents into English, transport them across the Atlantic, print copies, and then distribute them across the continental United States to each and every town. And even if they did, the laity were not then all that disposed to read such things.

    As it is, I was not able to find a copy of Humanae Vitae to read for myself until the mid-1990s!

    Then if you run those problems smack into other several major events of the turbulent 60s, from Vietnam to assassinations to the sexual revolution to leftist violence and “question authority,” there was never a chance of the narrative ever being in the control of Rome or even subject to its influence.

    The Council Fathers, though, foresaw such things happening (modernity had been gaining speed for a while), and they knew that the people who make up the Church were not ready to take on such assaults from the world. Faith formation pre-Vatican II was inadequate. Hence, the need for the Council — not to reinvent the Church or to accomodate the world, but to strengthen the Church and the Faith in defense against the world.

    Unfortunately, because faith formation pre-Vatican II was so inadequate and lacking, because things were far from the paradise that some today think it was, so many of those pre-Vatican II people so easily fell away, their faith had been formed so weakly that it quickly crumbled when confronted with the world of the 60s and 70s.

    Vatican II was not the cause of such things happening. Rather, Vatican II was necessary to address such weaknesses.

    [Bender I am in no way judging communications then by our standards today - I am a little offended that you'd think so. I'm saying that when the documents of VCII were being "interpreted" very loosely by academics, theologians and "progressive" liturgists (uncorrected by priests who were afraid of the zeitgeist and only wanted to be loved), Rome needed to be very clear about things, and it was not. I am amazed that you could not "find a copy of Humane Vitae until the 1990's" -both my husband and I read it in the 1970's. It was a little, wee booklet. Not hard to find. None of the council docs were hard to find. I recall a priest reading to us from a paperback volume entitled "Documents of the Second Vatican Council (etc) in the 1970's.

    I think Pope Paul was so blown away by the outright rejection of Humane Vitae by people who had never even read it (because the media had "done it for them") that he simply could not get a grip on the thousands of ways the council's recommendations were being poorly or erroneously implemented. That's my take, and I'm stickin' to it! :-) _admin]

  • Frank

    Good article and discussion. It is good to review what was done wrong in the past so we learn not to make the same mistake. It may not be as much of a liberal vs traditional vs conservative ( we mirror our Jewish brethren in lots of ways) but the sin of our own human arrogance. Just as we failed in the garden we repeat in our world today. We have to practice vigorous honesty in the matter and correct the errors we have made. Our young generation do not accept teachings with blind faith. The question is why?

    What I see with the young people today is a basic question “Why should I have a relationship with God, how is it important, why should I believe?” As adults and parents we need to share our faith and why a relationship with God is so important, we need to be good shepherds. Try explaining to a teenager why it is important to lead a virtuous life. They are being taught in society that virtues do not exist and there are no consequences for our action or inaction.

    Rolling the clock back to the 50′s will not work in this modern time. We need to look to the saints and the early church fathers how they faced the hostile world. They did it with honesty and truth, not trying to lawyer out of responsibility.

    peace.

  • craig

    “Back in the dinosaur age of the 60s and 70s, …there simply was not the ability to quickly or easily translate official documents into English, transport them across the Atlantic, print copies, and then distribute them across the continental United States to each and every town.”

    I agree with the rest of your comment, but this part simply does not fly. As a convert, one of the things that vexes me is how tasks which are simple and straightforward for secular entities or Protestant denominations to carry out are always somehow too difficult for the Catholic Church, despite the fact that the former have a tiny fraction of the global reach of the latter. So while IBM was shipping mainframe documentation worldwide and independent Bible societies were busy translating the Scriptures into obscure Eskimo dialects and those African clicking languages, the Church with all its offices and regional episcopal conferences couldn’t manage to publish popular translations of an intensely-discussed Ecumenical Council into widely-spoken languages?

    Even now, after 40 years of constantly talking about the importance of Vatican II, the Vatican website does post the council’s documents in several languages (a better assortment than for most of its other material), but still hardly any Chinese and nothing at all in Russian, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, or Arabic. I admit, there is evidence of recent improvement: Pope Benedict’s three encyclicals are available in 12 languages. But, to use a baseball term, the Church lacks “hustle”. It seems as if the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail leads some in Rome (and elsewhere) to assume that the Church is fine on cruise control.

  • craig

    “Back in the dinosaur age of the 60s and 70s, …there simply was not the ability to quickly or easily translate official documents into English, transport them across the Atlantic, print copies, and then distribute them across the continental United States to each and every town.”

    I agree with the rest of your comment, but this part simply does not fly. As a convert, one of the things that vexes me is how tasks which are simple and straightforward for Protestant denominations to carry out are always somehow too difficult for the Catholic Church, despite the fact that the former generally have a fraction of the global reach of the latter. So while independent Bible societies were busy translating the Scriptures into obscure Eskimo dialects and those African clicking languages, the Church with all its offices and regional episcopal conferences couldn’t manage to publish popular translations of an intensely-discussed Ecumenical Council into widely-spoken languages?

    Even now, after 40 years of constantly talking about the importance of Vatican II, the Vatican website does post the council’s documents in several languages (a better assortment than for most of its other material), but still hardly any Chinese and nothing at all in Russian, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, or Arabic. I admit, there is evidence of recent improvement: Pope Benedict’s three encyclicals are available in 12 languages. But, to use a baseball term, the Church has lacked “hustle”. It seems as if the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail leads some in Rome (and elsewhere) to assume that the Church is fine on cruise control.

  • http://tonylayne.blogspot.com Tony Layne

    Craig:

    I’ll agree that the Vatican moves at a rate that makes snails impatient. But then, a lot of the “hustle” you see in the various Protestant evangelical movements comes from their predominantly American origins, composition and character. Whatever we Americans do, we tend to do it in a hurry, which sometimes leads us to confuse speed with efficiency. Also, ironically, the Catholic principle of subsidiarity leads more towards decentralization of authority, which doesn’t lend itself very well to organization or coordination of effort. The Vatican has just under 600 people to work in the various dicasteries that oversee 2,795 dioceses world-wide; by comparison, they make the EPA under Dubya look overfunded and overstaffed. I’m afraid the lack of “hustle” isn’t going to be cured—at least not for a long time—even if the Pope selected only MBAs for the College of Cardinals.


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