Cardinal Walter Kasper, a high-ranking Vatican official whose work has already been praised by Pope Francis, has a memo for conservative Catholics hoping desperately that the “correct” implementation of the Second Vatican Council will solve our problems:
“In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.” (Cardinal Walter Kasper, L’Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013)
There ya go. Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
In other words: “Lots o’ luck ‘implementing’ this Council”.
Cardinal Kasper acknowledges, of course, that it’s normal for some turbulence to follow an ecumenical council, but for different reasons. Due to its intentional ambiguity the Second Vatican Council is “a special case”:
“For those who know the story of the twenty councils recognized as ecumenical, this [the state of confusion] will not be a surprise. The post-conciliar times were almost always turbulent. The [Second] Vatican, however, is a special case.”
My thanks to Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam, whose comments on the topic are also worth reading.
It is often said among concerned Catholics – of every persuasion, left and right – that the Second Vatican Council has not been fully or properly implemented. This is rather alarming, as it has been 47 years since the close of the council in December of 1965. What’s taking so long?
But I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, it has been 105 years since Pascendi Dominici Gregis was promulgated by Pope St. Pius X, and to this day Pascendi still has not been implemented.
Is it too much to ask that we first implement Pascendi before going on to implement Vatican II?
“In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, or which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations (Leo XIII. Enc. Aeterni Patris). And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further let Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment …
Anybody who in any way is found to be imbued with Modernism is to be excluded without compunction from these offices, and those who already occupy them are to be withdrawn. The same policy is to be adopted towards those who favour Modernism either by extolling the Modernists or excusing their culpable conduct, by criticising scholasticism, the Holy Father, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of its depositaries; and towards those who show a love of novelty in history, archaeology, biblical exegesis, and finally towards those who neglect the sacred sciences or appear to prefer to them the profane. In all this question of studies, Venerable Brethren, you cannot be too watchful or too constant, but most of all in the choice of professors, for as a rule the students are modelled after the pattern of their masters. Strong in the consciousness of your duty, act always prudently but vigorously.
Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty! God hates the proud and the obstinate. For the future the doctorate of theology and canon law must never be conferred on anybody who has not made the regular course of scholastic philosophy; if conferred it shall be held as null and void. The rules laid down in 1896 by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars for the clerics, both secular and regular, of Italy concerning the frequenting of the Universities, We now decree to be extended to all nations. Clerics and priests inscribed in a Catholic Institute or University must not in the future follow in civil Universities those courses for which there are chairs in the Catholic Institutes to which they belong. If this has been permitted anywhere in the past, We ordain that it be not allowed for the future. Let the Bishops who form the Governing Board of such Catholic Institutes or Universities watch with all care that these Our commands be constantly observed.
It is also the duty of the bishops to prevent writings infected with Modernism or favourable to it from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. No book or paper or periodical of this kind must ever be permitted to seminarists or university students. The injury to them would be equal to that caused by immoral reading – nay, it would be greater for such writings poison Christian life at its very fount. The same decision is to be taken concerning the writings of some Catholics, who, though not badly disposed themselves but ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued with modern philosophy, strive to make this harmonize with the faith, and, as they say, to turn it to the account of the faith. The name and reputation of these authors cause them to be read without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the more dangerous in preparing the way for Modernism.
To give you some more general directions, Venerable Brethren, in a matter of such moment, We bid you do everything in your power to drive out of your dioceses, even by solemn interdict, any pernicious books that may be in circulation there. The Holy See neglects no means to put down writings of this kind, but the number of them has now grown to such an extent that it is impossible to censure them all. Hence it happens that the medicine sometimes arrives too late, for the disease has taken root during the delay. We will, therefore, that the Bishops, putting aside all fear and the prudence of the flesh, despising the outcries of the wicked, gently by all means but constantly, do each his own share of this work, remembering the injunctions of Leo XIII. in the Apostolic Constitution Officiorum: Let the Ordinaries, acting in this also as Delegates of the Apostolic See, exert themselves to prescribe and to put out of reach of the faithful injurious books or other writings printed or circulated in their dioceses … “
We were privileged to visit Thomas Aquinas College again this month. I attended one philosophy class and two theology seminars, and left greatly impressed with the participating students. One of the children remarked that TAC feels more like “home” than home, and I can definitely see the point. Here are some photos taken by a family friend who accompanied us:
This little story about Pope Francis and one of his weary Swiss guards will inevitably charm everyone but the stone-hearted. As it well should. We see in Pope Francis, the Jesuit, a very Latin and Franciscan way of being Catholic.
But let’s be very careful about reading too much into gestures like this. It’s true that rules were made for man, not man for rules. And so when a man-made rule is broken for the sake of charity or necessity, it can be a laudable thing. Our Lord Himself paved the way when, for example, he healed the sick on the Sabbath (a divine law, but deformed at the time by many Jewish accretions).
However, selective rule-breaking is only laudable in the context of general rule-keeping. Let me put it another way: rule-breaking only has symbolic value in a culture where the default mentality is obedience and rule-keeping. Otherwise, breaking the rules symbolizes nothing more than just another individual doing his own thing, his own way, just as everyone else does – because he can.
When it comes to religion and all things associated with Catholicism, I submit that most Catholics don’t need a lesson in charitable rule-breaking or any other kind of rule-breaking. Some of us do, undoubtedly, and if the shoe fits let us wear it gladly. Pope Francis is who he is, and I am grateful for that. But generally speaking, the Christian world is reeling from its contempt for Catholic order and discipline, and is desperately in need of holy examples of obedience. If another pope decided, instead, to commend the Swiss guard on his fidelity and discipline rather than bringing him a chair and a sandwich, such a pope would not for this reason be any less charitable.
It’s comforting to know that I am not the only Catholic who has misgivings about military service in our time. Clearly the armed forces have need of good and virtuous men – the more, the better. Soldiering is an inherently noble vocation. I have the privilege of knowing a few enlisted men today, all exemplary Christian patriots. But my misgivings grew after a brief attempt to join the Navy reserves twenty years ago and exposure to its morally depraved culture. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that Abu Ghraib was not a surprise to me. Things were going bad then; they are much worse today. Michael Avramovich summarizes my own thoughts quite well.
“Building a Village of God”, a sermon by Fr. Philip Anderson, Abbot of Clear Creek Monastery:
“Following the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ‘star of the New Evangelization,’ and, on the contemporary scene of this world, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, whose own tranquil faith continues to inspire us, let us construct right here at Clear Creek a small but significant corner of that true civilization of love. Saint Augustine spoke of the ‘City of God.’ May Clear Creek become the ‘Village of God’ and the rugged but beautiful birthplace of a new generation of saints for America and for the world.”
(H/T: Man With Black Hat).
“Chastity and the Restoration of Catholic Culture”, by Dr. Taylor Marshall, argues for truths long neglected by modern Catholics:
“Our Catholic forefathers believed that a man who could tame his sexual passions was truly honorable and heroic. This is why only celibate men were chosen for the priesthood. Their strong resolve communicated not effeminacy, but manly fortitude over their sexual passions. This power over the sexual appetite was transferred to evangelical ferver, missionary endeavors, and feats of penance. In fact, this produced a healthy spiritual imperialism in the Catholic Church. Moderns turn up their noses to the idea of ‘imperialism,’ but the Christ of the cross who is the Prince of Peace is the Emperor of this Empire, what’s there to fear?
This spiritual imperialism of Christ was fully appreciated by our Christian forefathers. We, however, have forgotten the ancient feats of strength demonstrated by the monastics of old. For example, the penance of the Desert Fathers would have brought a sense of wonder even to the Roman Stoic Cato. We have forgotten the triumphant Roman martyrs, such as Saint Lawrence who would have kindled awe in the bravest Roman pagan warriors, such as Mucius Scaevolus. As the baptized have forgotten the noble army of martyrs that once fertilized the Eternal City with faith, so also have they lost esteem for Rome’s spiritual dignity.”
OldTVTime has resurrected a charming and instructive video series for young people from the 1950s.
(H/T: Romish Internet Graffiti)
It’s almost cliche amongst certain Catholics – sometimes very good ones – to oppose the use of labels such as “liberal”, “conservative”, “traditionalist”, and “progressive”, with respect to groups or factions within the Church. The terms are said to be divisive. They are said to be polarizing. They are even said to be un-Catholic. And I know what people who say such things are getting at. You’re either Catholic and believe all that the Church teaches, or you’re not. And if a person is a member of the Church in good standing, his or her claim to being Catholic is all you need to know, right?
Unfortunately that’s not all you need to know. Many Catholics in “good standing” are flat our heretics. I call them “liberals” and “progressives” because it just seems a lot nicer than calling them “heretics”, and I try to be a nice guy. I call orthodox Catholics “conservatives” and “traditionalists” because “orthodox” sounds too much like a boast. Would the well-intentioned folks who eschew labels prefer we return to calling heretics heretics? Somehow I don’t think that’s what they’re after.
The problem demands subtlety. A Catholic may be perfectly orthodox in doctrine, and yet be unfriendly to the many small-”t” traditions the Church has given us for the purpose of maintaining and growing in the Faith – hostile to the Latin Mass, for example. What do we call these people? Although the “conservative” label has served this purpose, for lack of anything better, it’s definitely less than ideal because it suggests that orthodoxy is merely a preference. If anyone has a better suggestion, I’m all ears, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that we don’t need a label for them. Catholics who favor the Latin Mass and who encourage traditional practices also need some kind of label other than “Catholics who favor the Latin Mass and encourage traditional practices”, which is a real mouthful. I propose “traditionalist”, at least until such a time as all Catholics are traditionalists again.