In the light of the upcoming canonisation of Pope Paul VI, and my attention drawn to the Rad Trad blog, I find this posting on Fr Gregor Hesse Contra Mundum. I find a link to an earlier article on this eccentric Austrian priest who spent many years in America and Rome, and appealed to the more radical of conservative political opinions. I remember his exclamation – Questo stronzo di Paolo Sesto when referring to Paul VI and the reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. The word stronzo in Italian is extremely offensive, usually used by bad-tempered Roman motorists afflicted with road rage.
I think I have said all I know about this priest who died some years ago in his early fifties from diabetes. I spent some time with him in 1990, and he wasn’t always very kind. His stated opinions about politics and church politics were quite shocking insofar as he advocated returning to the days of the Papal States and public executions by guillotine in the Vatican.
As for Pope Paul VI, he died when I was nineteen years old, a loyal organist in an Anglican parish and working in a music shop. I had vaguely heard that he was against contraception, and it seemed to be the post important issue at the time. I also knew that he had approved a rite of Mass that was like our awful modern-language Series III. The impression we Anglicans had of Roman Catholics is that they were neurotic children in need of some authority to keep them from committing the usual sins. It seemed that Papa Montini was heavy-handed only with Archbishop Lefebvre in the hot summer of 1976 -when I was holding the notes for the organ tuner or sweltering in the workshop at Harrison’s!
My view of Paul VI was more than anything founded on reading August Bernard Hasler’s, How the Pope Became Infallible and all the juicy stories about the Vatican Bank and P2 in Yallop’s In God’s Name. There is enough to make people very angry and keep a very dim view of the Roman Catholic Church. On one side, keep the faithful like docile infants whilst having them buy cheap and not-so-cheap baubles in the bondieuserie shops in Rome and Lourdes – and have them turn a blind eye to organised crime and corruption of the kind that would have the bloated corpse of Alexander VI spinning in his triple coffin! It would seem that Paul VI in his divided Hamlet fashion between the Catholic citadel of Pius IX and Jacques Maritain’s “integral humanism” philosophy – all based on Charles Maurras in some way – was trying to run the Church like the infallible Pius IX with the mad staring eyes (nineteenth century photographs didn’t always do justice). Paul VI vacillated between the old Roman Ultramontanism and the more sophisticated French philosophical theories.
Doubtlessly, Montini was a pious priest, said Mass and Office each day and read the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church. The stuff about the miracle attributed to him is highly suspect. There is no evidence, only the claim of a person who prayed “Blessed Paul VI, heal my illness” and whose sickness went into remission. There is only a coincidence, no proven causal relationship. This whole project of canonising Paul VI smells of ideology and the policies of the present Pope.
Which twentieth century Popes have been canonised? The pattern is easy.
- Pius X was canonised by Pius XII in 1950, doubtlessly on account of his aggressively anti-Modernist stance.
- Benedict XV has not even been beatified, whilst he did all he could to bring the Church through World War I and soften the hard line repression of Modernism under Pius X.
- Pius XI condemned Communism and Nazism and was highly critical of Mussolini’s Fascism. It is in this context that he formulated the cult to Christ the King. It is better to have Christ as our Leader and Führer than Hitler! He has not been beatified either.
- Pius XII has also been passed over in spite of his efforts to save Jews and Allied servicemen from the Nazis whilst preventing the Vatican from being invaded and destroyed.
- From John XIII onwards, all the deceased Popes are canonised or are in process of being canonised. The reason is manifestly the aggiornamento and the iconoclasm (“wreckovation”) in the Roman Catholic Church since the 1960’s and 70’s.
Why is Paul VI or John Paul II more holy than Pius XI or Benedict XV?
I swam the “river” to the traddies in 1981 and tried to live my ideals and desires, and knew that I had made a big mistake. Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum. My time with the monks, also to some extent at seminary, showed a more profound kind of religion, but all the same bound up with totalitarianism and collectivism. The best thing I did was to study theology at Fribourg University. Roman Catholicism earned for itself a reputation of needing people to be little children and brought to salvation through treats and punishment. Some individuals through history became saints and heroes in spite of the institution – though their nobility of spirit and sublime vision and experience of life. They were only Roman Catholics in the way J.S. Bach, Göthe and Novalis were Germans. Beauty and transcendence come from the person, not from the surroundings.
There is Catholicism in spite of the institution, and that applies to all institutional Churches, including my own – in differing degrees. It takes a lot of courage to get over the crest of the hill, accept the disillusionment and the blinding revelation on losing the cognitive dissonance, and arriving the other side with a faith based on the life of the spirit and the desire for the divine. There are no true and false Churches, only Churches with their bishops, priests and people participating in the life of the Eternal Church. As I spit out this bitter poison of papal ideology, I leave my readers with this meditation on the Church from the Prose of the Dedication in the Parisian rite:
Jerúsalem et Sion fíliæ,
Cœtus omnis fidélis cúriæ,
Melos pangant jugis lætítiæ.
Christus enim norma justítiæ
Matrem nostram despónsat hódie,
Quam de lacu traxit misériæ
Hanc sánguinis et aquæ múnere,
Dum pénderet in crucis árbore,
De próprio prodúxit látere
Formarétur ut sic Ecclésia,
Figurátur in prima fémina,
Quæ de costis Adæ est édita
Eva fuit novérca pósteris ;
Hæc est mater elécti géneris,
Vitæ portus, ásylum míseris,
Hæc est cymba qua tuti véhimur ;
Hoc ovíle quo tecti cóndimur ;
Hæc cólumna, qua firmi nítimur
O sólemnis festum lætítiæ,
Quo únitur Christus Ecclésiæ,
In quo nostræ salútis núptiæ
Justis inde solvúntur prǽmia,
Lapsis autem donátur vénia,
Et sanctórum augéntur gáudia
Ab ætérno fons sapiéntiæ,
Intúitu solíus grátiæ,
Sic prævídit in rerum série
Christus jungens nos suis núptiis,
Recréatos veris delíciis,
Intéresse fáciat gáudiis
This move was a predictable one on the part of Rome but anymore I’m not fazed nor do I have skin in that game like I used to. the more the time goes by, and with every new wreckovation and farcical canonization it just digs a deeper hole for Rome’s credibility.
Even so, I still love the Benedictine Office and many other things from our western patrimony, I just have to use them outside communion with Rome.
Thanks, Fr. Anthony for the organ at the end. I’ve been an organ buff all my life (maybe like you) and even though I don’t play at it any more, I just love that stuff.
Thanks again. Made my miserable day getting over a bad cold.
Personally I think far too much is being made of this news in the ‘blogosphere’. Paul VI’s papacy was but a continuation of that of his mentor, Pius XII. The difference between the two is that Paul doubted some of his actions, Pius never would have done being convinced that he really did speak for God on earth. We should not forget that the first few papers read at the first International Liturgical Study Session at Maria-Laach in 1951 included reform of the Ordo Missae, reform of the Canon (Jungmann), the desire for an extended pericope cycle, the restoration of the ‘bidding prayers’ and a discussion about the vernacular in the Mass liturgy. Nothing that happened after the Council, and certainly nothing that happened during Paul VI’s reign in particular should come as any surprise.
Linking to the post on Gregory Hesse I would be interested Fr. Anthony – if you have the time of course – what your views are on his lecture on liturgical reform. Unfortunately my understanding of spoken German is non-existent but I would imagnine it would be intertersting to learn what he actually said.
Linking to yet another post – which I am sure is anathema sit in the blogging world – if you are ‘crazy’ then it is certainly good to know crazy people. I read a particularly distasteful blog post by an English RC minister in Brighton attacking the current pope. I recalled your wise words, many years ago when you came to the flat I shared with some friends in South Ealing ‘We are not here to save the Church; the Church is here to save us.’
Indeed, I would go further and see Paul VI as nostalgic for Pius IX as infallibility replaced the lost potere temporale of the Papal States. There was a very dark mentality about all the sinister enemies of the Church, real and imagined. For the liturgy, indeed, Paul VI continued the movement of Pius X (the Office) and Pius XII (Holy Week and the common of popes as distinct from bishops). In that way, there was nothing new. I am alarmed by the tendency to canonise all these Popes!
I’ll see if I can make something of Don Gregory’s lecture in German. My German isn’t very good, but I remember more from my days in Switzerland than I thought possible. It is also a language I particularly like to hear and speak as best as I can. It is my great regret not to be able to read Novalis in German, but there are some good English translations. Otherwise, there might be information in English if I look for it hard enough. If I remember things Don Gregory said to me, in English with his affected American accent, he was opposed to the 1911 Roman Breviary, the 1950’s Holy Week and the following reforms. What I did find regrettable about him was his political radicalism. I don’t think he actually had Fascist sympathies, but maybe not far from it…
The “wise words” were not mine, but from Cardinal Siri of Genoa repeated by Msgr Gilles Wach. I was quite flattered to be called “influential” as well as “crazy”. I never set out to be influential but invested with a duty to study, learn and dispel ignorance by writing. I have truly moved on and I try to see things in transcendental terms rather than competing institutions. The Church is the Church, but above any of us.
As to sanctity, I think the definition might well be revised. We Orthodox have another take on it, holiness of life which may or may be not be proven by so many miracles, but by the devotion to the faithful. For example, in America we have Blessed Olga, the wife of a priest in Alaska who took care of the poor whilst poor herself, knitted socks and gloves ad infinitim and prayed always.
The day of her burial in winter the sun shown, the ground was unfrozen and she was buried on what might have a spring day. Now I call that a miracle.