The crisis has been a long time coming – an excoriation of the policies of Pope Paul VI from 1977 October 8, 2015
Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, different religion, episcopate, error, General Catholic, history, horror, Papa, Revolution, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, SOD, the struggle for the Church.
History, dear readers, is my first love. I pray it always remains so. I love history, because by studying it, one learns very quickly that there is little new under the sun. In almost every contemporary situation, one can find examples from the past that provide very good guidance on pitfalls to avoid and safer ways to proceed. Certainly, history does not repeat itself, contra George Santanaya, but historical situations do recur.
Rorate Caeli has helpfully posted some material that makes clear that the present peak of crisis in the Church has been a long time coming. Contrary to what many conservative neo-Catholics have tried to tell us for years, the papacy has not always been a sure rock of unquestionable adherence to truth, virtue, and surety of purpose. There have been, in history, a great many bad popes. We were very blessed to have a nearly 200 year run of very good popes from Pius VIII to Pius XII, but since then, we have not been so fortunate. And so the crisis we see today is simply an extension of the crisis that began at Vatican II under, primarily, Paul VI. Even more, as the below makes clear, Paul VI’s policies and actions in the years following the closure of the Council helped enshrine the more revolutionary elements/interpretations of the Council deeply into Church administration and practice. As Rorate notes, many of the things we see from the pontificate of Pope Francis that so exasperate us, were just as present in the pontificate of Paul VI.
The piece below was published by John McCaffrey in 1977. He examines the dread error of papalotry and the rising traditional critique of the Council and the post-conciliar papacies. It is stunning just how strong the parallels are between the declining years of the Pauline pontificate and the opening years of the Franciscan one. I excerpt some of the passages I found more meaningful below, do read the whole thing (if you already haven’t) and note my emphasis and comments:
For some years after the Council, the conventional line had been: the Pope is isolated/misled/uninformed/captive/what-haveyou. This position always depended on a vast innocence of Church and human affairs, and moreover needed occasional tokens that the Pope was really on their side. [Just as we see many, I hope, well meaning Catholics today clinging to occasional orthodox statements from Francis, even while his great revolutionary wheel acquires unbreakable momentum] The pressure of catastrophe had to eat away at that position—particularly when the Pope was at pains to show that he does indeed know what is going on, that he is indeed the author of these policies, that he is no fool, and that he is not at all pleased with Catholics who oppose him. [Familiar?]
When these facts began to hit home, less balanced Catholics reached for new explanations, and came up with kookery: the Pope is a Communist/Freemason/imposter…or was invalidly elected…or is drugged; and so on. Sensible Catholics, rejecting all this nonsense but still confronting the cruel fact of a pope hostile to much of what they hold sacred, had to enter upon what may be called, at least analogously, their dark night of the soul.
But if God is there, dark nights of the soul can be illuminating. Troubled Catholics began to consider seriously what had once been mere abstractions to them. Not every papal or conciliar statement is infallible, or even wise. Not every papal policy is prudent, or in the best interests of the Faith. No pope, St. Peter himself knows, is beyond error, and no humble pope refuses to correct his error. And, as Dante and St. John Chrysostom once told us, some popes do go to Hell. [I dare anyone to read Pastor’s History of the Popes and conclude differently]
These truths had almost to force themselves on many a conscientious Catholic. But once they did, these Catholics made a wondrous discovery: the truth had to set them free. They found to their delight that they had at last joined the Catholic mainstream of centuries. Now the traditions they revered meant so much more to them as they became more deeply a part of those traditions. They drew strength from those traditions. To be specific, they found in Catholic tradition almost universal respect, even reverence, for the pope as St. Peter’s successor—but nothing of the pope-can-do-no-wrong aberration. They found some courtier flattery of popes, but none from Catholics who had a decent respect for the pope, and for themselves. They found among real Catholics a widespread love for the pope as father, and almost no papolatry. (A good son loves and respects his father—but he doesn’t praise him for coming home drunk. Refuting Stephen Decatur’s “My country, right or wrong,” Chesterton once remarked that it was like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”)
….[T]he derelictions of the present papacy have forced thoughtful Catholics to reconsider the papolatry some had succumbed to in recent decades: a corrective badly needed in many quarters—just as, in the opposite direction, the Councils of Florence and Vatican I helped to right the balance after the Council of Constance had heaped indignities on the papacy. (Incidentally, I wonder how many edicts of Constance those council buffs among today’s conservatives would subscribe to. Or is the most recent Council the only one that counts?) [I think we know the answer to that, because it appears nigh impossible, without violating the principle of non-contradiction, to reconcile aspects of that most recent Council with the dogmatic statements of certain preceding ones]
………My disagreement with some in the conservative Catholic media is twofold: they distort our present crisis, and are not even true to their own murky principles. They distort by suppressing news about the Pope–which is to say, they fail as Catholic journalists. They never report when the Pope receives a Communist leader, or Women’s Lib pioneer Betty Friedan, or mass murderer Idi Amin. They do not tell us that he refused to meet with an international pilgrimage of traditional Catholics even though they kept an all-night prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square—though at the same time he was receiving three Portuguese revolutionaries. We could never have learned from them that the Pope joined with the international Left to condemn the Franco government for executing the Spanish terrorists. In papers that proclaim admiration for the Pope, why is news of so many of his key activities carefully excluded?………
……….Not surprisingly, Pope Paul VI understands his Council far better than his conservative admirers.[And I’d wager my house (you can take over the note) that Pope Francis understands his Synod better than conservative apologists] He has never disguised his conviction that the Council was the gateway to change in the Church, and was meant to be. And he has underscored this, pointing out that Gaudium et Spes was a break with the old Catholic view of the world held by many of the saints. (He could with greater accuracy have said all of the saints—not to mention the authors of the Epistles, and our Lord Himself.) [And the broader tragedy is, every subsequent post-conciliar Pope, even Benedict XVI, has believed the same – that Guadium Et Spes was a “counter-syllabus,” that it pointed up a radically different understanding of the world and the role of the Church than that held by the Saints and Fathers, etc. At least PBXVI was honest enough to discern that the Revolution had not brought the “new pentecost” expected (what hubris!), but had in fact all but destroyed the Church.]
As for the conciliar documents themselves, they require an exegesis that could fill a bookshelf. But they do breathe a spirit, especially where they deal with temporal problems, that clashes with the strictures of earlier popes on liberalism and humanism. [Again, I do not think anyone could honestly oppose this view]
It is no accident that liberals the world over sang hymns to the Council. Were they all wrong? The children of this world are wise in their generation. The liberals know their own. In particular, they know that the Council moved their way on religious liberty—whereas they despised the views of earlier popes (who, in turn, were simply repeating what had been the unvarying attitude of the Church since the Apostolic Age). If the Council did not offer a wholly novel view of religious liberty (novel, that is, for the Church; it is old hat for liberals), then words have lost all meaning. This, I suspect, is one reason why Archbishop Lefebvre is denied his hearing. The Vatican is loathe to defend a hopeless case, even in its own court. [Oh, but schism…….]
But the Pope himself has given us the final refutation of the conservative position, in condemning Archbishop Lefebvre. Among other things the Pope demands that the Archbishop accept the post-conciliar “orientations” of the Church—which are, by definition new, or else the Pope, the Archbishop, and the rest of us would be arguing over—nothing. [QED. Pope Benedict changed the terms of debate slightly, but still insisted on that “acceptance of Vatican II,” which is so nebulous as to mean anything. How does one accept a pastoral vision dogmatically?]
Which leads to my point that the conservative axis is here again betraying its own position. Why do they decline to follow the post-conciliar orientations? The Pope has endorsed them. Why do they resist the pentecostal wave? The Pope smiles on it. Why do they shy away from the revolutionary activities of papal appointees in the Third World? Why do they quarrel with theological ideas that are taught in Rome’s pontifical seminaries? Why do they argue with catechisms imposed by nearly all the bishops of the world? These bishops, after all, are answerable to the Pope; most are appointees; and the caliber of the appointments has remained constant over fourteen years. [Make that 50 years]
I think I know why. Scratch a conservative—and more often than not you’ll find a traditionalist. [Do you agree? Maybe back in 1977, but today? I think more often than not today, scratch a conservative and find a liberal. Especially among those who make their living off the Church, and especially episcopal approbation] But a traditionalist who shrinks from resolving the ambiguity of his own position. This is not surprising. It hurts to change.
Which is just what we’ve been telling our father, the Pope. Who isn’t listening, and doesn’t care.
Ouch. This post is long enough, it was a long article. Let me know what you think.