Young Fogey’s Latest

John Beeler has come up with Catholic Defcon, the new Anglo-Catholicism, and more.

He makes much of my article about terrorists and liturgists, quoting it quite extensively. The question of Archbishop Marini is probably a storm in a teacup, since he is getting on towards canonical retirement age, unless the Pope wants a stand-in to do his worst “de-ratzingerization” in about two to three years. It’s their problem, not mine.

What does he pick up the most? There are my comments on the liturgical sensitivity of the Pope. Fine, he is not the first. It appears that Pius XII was not terribly interested in liturgical studies either! A second and more important point he makes is something he calls the Protestant Endgame. If there is no reason for Catholics to remain in the RC Church, they should become Protestants. Perhaps in America, but over here, they are “nones” – people who do not identify with any religion whether or not they are “spiritual” (not pure and hard materialists).

But if you really understand the teachings of the church, do you?

I think I know a few things having been to two theological faculties run by the Dominicans and a couple of years in an old-style seminary… The question then is one of schools of thought between ressourcement, the old scholasticism and the legacy of Nominalism and the “stingy” way of thinking. I have studied Thomas Aquinas, but have more in common with Tyrrell and the later ressourcement men. To me it is like colour photography after monochrome (though many of the most artistic photographs are black-and-white). I am also a Romantic having reacted against what I found to be excessive rationalism. I always have something to learn, and I read all the time, but understanding and ignorance are not my main “problem”.

Anglicanism, for example, which in its true form is “the ‘Reformation’ was godly, leaving England still Catholic but making it now the purest branch of the church,” isn’t the answer.

It may be the conviction of some Anglicans, but not mine. I have discussed the “two Anglicanisms” before, each defining Anglicanism its own way between the English version of the Reformation and its adoption of both Calvinist and Arminianism, and the English version of Gallicanism. I and most of the ACC Diocese to which I belong see things through the latter point of view. Some of the theories going around about Henrican Anglicanism are open to question and discussion. Personally, I refer more or less to what there was in common between Anglicanism in the 1520’s and the French Church in the 1720’s. Those two periods were far from perfect, like every other, but I prefer to follow a model than try to invent something of my own, which would be vastly inferior. I have many affinities with some of the early nineteenth-century Romantics, but their time must have been pretty awful between the London of William Blake and Charles Dickens to the Napoleonic Empire being run from France. Perhaps they were exciting times when single persons could make a difference and everything was in flux – perhaps like our own future… Seriously, what really interests me is not so much the trappings but life in a world where social units involved fewer people and a more human approach to everything. No period was ever perfect, but some were less inhuman than others.

I too know the three places of pilgrimage John mentions, one in Westminster Cathedral and two in York. Protestants were behaving like ISIS with all the gruesome executions of the martyrs, and the Roman Catholics were no better in the brief time during which fortune turned in their favour under Queen Mary. Anyway, all that is thought-provoking.

I won’t go into the problem of admitting the divorced and remarried to the Sacraments. It is a tough pastoral problem with two sides to the argument. We in the ACC follow the same discipline as in the RC Church, and any question of annulment has to be decided by an ecclesiastical marriage tribunal run by competent canonists.

What about reactions to a degrading situation in the Church? The Pope loses all credibility and the sedevacantist “position” becomes “mainstream”. So-called “liberals” start killing conservatives and traditionalists (presumably after having siezed the secular power of some country). I find the speculation sterile, and can only depend on the usual “the RC Church is the true church”. If Catholicism is wider than that particular jurisdiction under the Pope, then we manage in a different way or decide that sacraments and churches are not necessary. Of course, being a priest in such a situation makes things easier, though one can only empathise with the plight of a lay person who is alienated.

What about the SSPX and Rome? The cracked record has been playing for years. They have a little more cunning than Archbishop Hepworth. They keep the dialogue going for years without anything ever coming of it. It confers legitimacy in the eyes of the faithful and they continue as an independent organisation. It could have been like that for the TAC, but unconditional surrender was decided upon, and we all saw the result. What was left was deeply humiliated and now has very little visibility on the Internet. The SSPX has its friends and critics. I was a lay “pre-seminarian” with them in France back in 1983 and got out rather fast. I find their “line” rather boring, but they are resourceful and prudent.

As for St Clement’s in Philadelphia, I would be interested to know what Paul Goings has to say, since I have never been there. If it is true that the new rector of that church is a woman priest, I can understand that many would be alienated and would become Roman Catholics or Orthodox or would join a continuing Anglican jurisdiction. I have seen it happen in England, but I am now out of touch with London spikes like St Mary’s in Bourne Street or All Saints in Margaret Street. I’m not sure that John’s analysis is entirely germane about “modernism”, “semi-congregationalsim” and homosexuality. I would need to read another opinion from someone who knows that parish.

Ms Schori is retiring. I’m sure she will get a very good pension and bask in the sun in her old age. Who will be the next ECUSA presiding bishop? Watch other people’s spaces. You will find out quicker than if you rely on me for the information.

Death of adulthood in American culture. What American culture? When I was a schoolboy, we used to joke about the thinnest books in the world like English Cooking, Italian Heroes, Polar Bears in Africa, and so forth. One such book is on American Culture. That being said, I am a great admirer of Walt Whitman, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein among so many others, together with the great number of American musicians, artists, writers, poets and actors alive to this day. One thing that is beyond me is that some people are still nostalgic about ultra-masculinity, whatever that means. I am more of a fan of Carl Gustav Jung who taught that the integrated person was one who accepted the balance of his or her masculinity and femininity. One thing that strikes me about America is that large numbers of people do the same thing and conform to the same norms. Is this the New World, or the beginnings of old Europe as we were in the 1920’s onwards? I have travelled to the USA four times, once to Maryland, once to Florida and twice to Tennessee. I found it fascinating, but the only thing I could understand was the language with the drawling accents. Sorry.

Nuff for now…

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12 Responses to Young Fogey’s Latest

  1. William Tighe says:

    “If it is true that the new rector of that church is a woman priest …”

    That is not what he says in his posting.

  2. “A second and more important point he makes is something he calls the Protestant Endgame. If there is no reason for Catholics to remain in the RC Church, they should become Protestants. Perhaps in America, but over here, they are ‘nones’ – people who do not identify with any religion whether or not they are ‘spiritual’ (not pure and hard materialists).”

    I was referring to this: “the idea of making Catholics ‘pure’ Christians weaned off addictions like nice churches and liturgies.” Quintessentially Protestant: how the Puritans wanted to further “purify” the English Church. “If that is so, then why bother with church?” That’s what I call Protestantism’s endgame. Not necessarily ending up Protestant, but, following Protestantism’s logic from a wrong premise, ending up with no more religion. From individual interpretation of the Bible to “Who needs the Bible?”

    • Yes, the reductio ad absurdam. It is a logical device I often use myself, but it often leads to intemperate and erroneous thinking, since in medio stat virtus, the moderate position away from the extremes. I don’t know any Protestants who intend to get any Christians to give up religion. I doubt if it is Pope Francis’ intention either.

      It is also true to say that about 95% of French Catholics have given up religion, but that’s not to say they are right. I would say that if what is on offer in most churches was all there was, and I was not a priest, I think I would prefer to stay in bed on a Sunday morning if the weather’s too bad for sailing! There’s no point in going to church if it makes you feel sick…

      • Of course neither the classical nor the liberal Protestants, nor liberal Catholics, want people to give up Christianity. The loss of all faith is an unintended result of their principles.

        I think the original English-paraphrase Novus Ordo only makes sense in a Catholic way if you knew the old Mass. Pope Benedict solved that problem (it’s now clearly Catholic), and, like you, I sought and still get a lot of experience with the old Mass, so going to his “new new Mass” in English a few times a year is no problem, even if I don’t like it. It’s about what’s true, not necessarily what pleases me.

      • This will sound sound very liberal to you, but I am happy that you can accommodate yourself to what there is. May you find God’s blessing in all you do and in your experience. Many are burned, and we need to be able to help them without being patronising to them, a seemingly impossible task.

        about what’s true – that is another question, and truth is not merely a question of Aristotelian epistemology or metaphysics. It is something much deeper and beyond “true church” apologetics. Anyway, I know your position and I bid you peace.

      • Thank you! Wishing you the same.

  3. Paul Goings says:

    Regarding S. Clement’s, the former rector promised that he would preserve the traditional Anglo-Catholic ethos, but that was revealed to be a pretense, and during his last three years he drove out about forty faithful traditional Anglo-Catholic parishioners, leaving only four or five. Fr Alton then promised the current Vestry (which includes only one faithful traditional Anglo-Catholic at this point) that he would preserve the traditional Anglo-Catholic ethos, and his first act was to invite Miss Takacs to preach at his Institution. I’ve resisted this for almost twenty years in some ways now, but in Philadelphia there is no longer a place for faithful traditional Anglo-Catholics, at least as far as I can tell. That saddens me immensely, of course, on a personal level, but also to the extent that we did much to preserve and promote traditional liturgy and devotion, at a time when it had no other real home in the Philadelphia area.

  4. Dale says:

    Personally, I find the position of Catholic traditionalists in modern day Rome, with a Pope who seems to actively dislike them, very similar to the position of Anglo-Catholic traditionalists in the not too distant past who decided to remain within the establishment, always hoping for better days to come and a return to tradition; it simply ain’t going to happen. Also, the fantasy that the “young” are returning to tradition is also more wishful thinking than the reality, most are quite happy with banal new liturgies or simply could care less. Soon I think that Pope Benedict will simply be a blimp on the historical radar. Most Roman Catholics whom I know simply love Pope Francis and could care less about liturgy, their only demand is to keep mass as short as possible.

    Fr. Anthony, your comparison between the SSPX and TAC in their respective, and very different, manner of dealing with the Vatican, is spot on by the way; perhaps it is because SSPX, unlike TAC, actually understands Rome and the manner in which it works?

  5. Woody Jones says:

    Dear Father Anthony,

    I have not visited your site for a while and so have missed a lot, unfortunately, but John’s “Defcon” blog posting raises the additional interesting question at least to me, which I note that Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira asked some time ago: how long do we have to keep getting papal teachings which differ substantially from the previous line of such teaching, before we see a real rupture? Prof. Plinio left that one for theologians to come, but perhaps we are approaching the point where it will become very relevant. Dale’s post above reiterates in a way what one read at Rorate the other day about the new Archbishop of Chicago: the last sentence of their piece stating in effect that Pope Francis is stacking the episcopal and cardinalatial deck against any restoration. Of course, the need for restoration implies that something (tradition?) has been lost, but more to the point is the pessimism about any such restoration occurring. So what would be the exclusive truth claims of a church that is found to have really and for good changed with the times and so has become historically conditioned?

    All the best.

    • I thank you for for such an honest view on this question. It is true that Pope Francis has not said he is an atheist or denied the Trinity, but he does seem to be stacking the RC Church against any “restoration”. I go much further and say that the whole western society has definitively rejected Christianity. Smaller societies can still assimilate Christianity insofar as they maintain human relationships. The big centralised organisations – like globalism, imperialism and nationalism – have to disappear. It is a waste of time thinking in terms of a universal canonical jurisdiction. It’s a red herring.

      What needs to be restored is the local community and the possibility of evangelising it by having the “seed” grow from within. It sounds like the base community of liberation theology, but my understanding of it would be without the political ideology. Such communities only need a priest and their people coming into agreement about things that need to be decided. The Church can only be restored from the grass roots. At the same time, priests need to relate to people who are used to thinking and creating, concerned with beauty and harmony and unconcerned with pleasing the “modern” world.

      The “modern word” has rejected Christianity, and those who want to “adapt” Christianity to it have also rejected Christianity. What is dead needs to be buried and mourned – and then life must go on differently. Any attempt to go back to the 1950’s or the 1870’s will fail.

      So what would be the exclusive truth claims of a church that is found to have really and for good changed with the times and so has become historically conditioned? No church has the right to claim exclusive truth. All churches have the right and duty to give and teach the truth of Christ. That is a different kind of truth. I think this whole implosion is providential. Catholic Christianity might then survive and prosper where the soil is rich.

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