A friend of mine who is a scientist wrote this on his Facebook:
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“The Church has degenerated into factional disputation. As Paul VI said it is “engaged in a process of self-destruction.”
The Magisterium equates “love” with “romance” and “sexual bonding.” The only relationship that the Magisterium is interested in is marriage. The Magisterium has little interest in what Jesus says is the greatest love: friendship.
Modern catechesis is empty of content. My Godson and his younger brother both lapsed after deciding that Catholicism – as it was presented to them by a top-notch Catholic school and a “vibrant” progressive parish – made no sense whatsoever. I know of many other decent, deep-thinking, people who have lapsed over the last few years because the Church has failed at a profound level to nurture their faith, but rather has done one thing after another to erode it. When they asked for bread, they were given lumps of rock. When they asked for a fish, they were given a serpent.
The Vatican is obsessed with pandering to the inhumane ideologies which are Islam and the totalitarian tyrannies of Russia and China. The papacy is betraying the Chinese Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches.
The hierarchy is obsessed with protecting its reputation by covering-up financial corruption and sexual misconduct. This has (and will continue) to back-fire.
The two things that were most wrong about the Church in 1960 were, first: that it was too focussed on sex and gender; and second: that it was too authoritarian. These were the ONLY things that did not change as a result of Vatican-II. In fact, both of these problems were compounded.
Modern preaching is – at best – trite, undemanding and complacent. At worst it is heretical.
John Henry Newman said that he wanted an educated laity; but is in the interest of the hierarchy that the laity be ignorant: and rendered passive by being brain-washed into the belief that they should simply believe and do what they are told. As a result, there are very few laity who have any competence in theology, philosophy, scripture or liturgy.
The state of priestly (and diaconal) education is abysmal. It seems that the purpose of seminary “education” is simply to brow-beat candidates into brain-dead “yes men”. A young man I know of, who as a lay person had had an active intellect, returned from seminary with the attitude: “its OK to exercise your human reason as a way of amusing yourself; but when it comes to religion one should simply rely on authority and never think for yourself – that is Protestant!”
The Church is too clerical. Too often an ignorant priest tells a well-informed lay-person: “I know what I’m talking about because I am a priest, and you don’t know anything because you are not ordained.” Too often, laity do what clergy tell them merely because they are systemically conditioned to respect clergy and never to engage their own powers of discernment.
The Church is too focussed on obedience; but obedience is only demanded by the Liberal establishment from the Conservative faction. Obedience is never asked from the Progressivist faction – and if it were to be asked, it would be withheld, of course!
Change and novelty is pursued as an end in itself. This is the Progressivist agenda, poorly disguised as a concern for justice. It is opposed to any concern for right-belief – orthodoxy – and right-behaviour – orthopraxy. It has no interest in Gospel Truth; but only what is compatible with a Secularist, Socialist, Globalist, and Permissivist narrative.
Modern liturgy is tedious, dull, impoverished, casual and uninspiring. I want to worship “with reverence and awe”, not attend some low-key informal get-together. I want – and demand – convenient access to Traditional Catholic Liturgy: the Latin Mass, or one of the substantially intact and “unNovusOrdoed” Eastern Rites. I refuse to accept the Mess of Paul VI (even when celebrated in best accord with tradition – which is rare indeed) as normative, wholesome or pastorally effective. By its fruits I know its nature.
The papacy has arrogated much too much power and prestige to itself. The pope is now seen as the embodiment of the Church: on the lines of “L’Estat est moi!” as a French monarch is supposed to have said of himself. Rather than the pope seeing himself as the servant of the Gospel and merely the stand-in deputy for Christ, he presents himself first, as a celebrity to be adulated; second, a creative instigator and innovator; and third, as the “Custodian of Tradition” – behaving as a prison guard strictly constraining the life of his captive”.
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This is not the first time I have expressed this kind of thought about institutional Christianity or quoted others. I speak of Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and even parts of Orthodoxy, any community engaged in nihilistic deconstruction for ends known only to themselves.
My friend has expressed himself many times about love as friendship, of the kind described in St Aelred’s Spiritual Friendship. I remember reading that St Philip Neri’s ideal was to create a community of priests based, not on authority, obedience and constraint, but on friendship. Such a notion has been encouraged very little in the history of the Church. Love in friendship far surpasses that in marriage, which is analogous with religious vows. It is understandable given the stability needed for family life and the good of the offspring. Friendship between men has been associated with homosexual relationships, but this is not always the case. Many of the most noble friendships, as has been my experience, are completely “Platonic”.
Most ordinary people have a very shallow view of religion, which is not entirely their fault. The kind of Papalist infallibilism I have discussed leaves us with an absurd view of the whole.
Decades ago, Catholic bishops and priests collaborated with the Nazi tyranny in Europe, as mentioned in the story of Leone Ginzburg when faced with his old friend and colleague who had became a Nazi and trying to persuade him that human freedom was a futile delusion. In our own days, the Erastian relationship is with Islam and Chinese Communism – and generally with the world of big money.
What about Newman’s desire for an educated laity? Pray, pay and obey! Most people I see in churches are on the brink of lapsing through indifference and a nihilist / materialist view of life.
Like modern politics, churchmen are obsessed with obedience, and a one-sided version. It is like cancel culture which calls itself liberalism but is not concerned for man’s freedom. It is truly what C.S. Lewis called The Abolition of Man. When man is cancelled, so is God.
For the liturgy, I am content to be a priest, but we are not priests for ourselves. I am rarely in church for Mass or any kind of service, because I have everything at home in my chapel. Not everyone has, and my friend expresses himself as a layman. It is essential for the isolated priest I am to have empathy for those who are spiritually starved by the thin tasteless gruel they will find in their parish churches.
I very much identify with my friend’s lamentation. I say this as a priest of the ACC, which is a small independent Anglican church. What can we draw out of it? The first thing that comes into my mind is self-reliance and avoiding the general slide into Chinese Communism and dystopia. My separation and a life of near solitude for nearly a year have taught me many things. Concentrate on what you CAN do about all this: write books, organise talks and social get-togethers, counselling for people on the brink of losing faith and hope. For us to be inventive and let the bastards know that we don’t need them and that they are only good for the big shut-down. Also work hard at writing and art – Beauty will save the world.
We have to react with a new way of living the Faith. In our time of despair and learned helplessness, we need to take ourselves in hand and find out what is the most essential. I encourage people to read – real books, and learn about what Christianity has really meant in history. It cannot be allowed to die because it got an unjust trial! I think many of the traditionalists will capitulate and comply, or adopt extreme and radical positions. Others will find ways to survive in a new Church of the Catacombs, the new Recusants.
We are called to be self-reliant, not wait for God to work miracles or ecclesiastical institutions to change their minds. It is down to us. I am a very little man, a fool for Christ – and I do what I can through writing and music. Each of us according to the charismas we have received from God must decide to act and persevere – and be brave.