Monday, July 29, 2013
The second biggest misconception about Catholic traditionalists
Besides that It’s About Latin, that we all want to turn the church into a strict cult. Partly because the faith is big on doctrine and morals that mainstream society now hates, but also partly our fault. By historical accident (?), the most successful trad group has been the Society of St Pius X, the religious order that the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre founded. But of course real pre-conciliar Catholicism is more than the culture of a Counter-Reformation-style order. It includes everybody from Francisco Franco to Dorothy Day. As I like to say, the church is so big it couldn’t micromanage you even if it wanted to. Certainly true back when means of communication and travel were poorer. Also, R. Scott Appleby has observed that all fundamentalisms are a thoroughly modern reaction to the evils of modernity, something we’re not immune to. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As Fr Anthony Chadwick quoted a ’50s liberal but sound French priest (who stuck with the ’65 revision of the missal) saying, such is ‘not what we were’. That’s why living tradition, living links to before the council (the old stalwarts who kept the memory of the old Mass for decades), is so important, to show us how to do it right, rather than accidentally making things up so you end up with something not really pre-conciliar Catholicism. (My issue with Bishop Williamson: by recommending The Poem of the Man-God, he’s left the old church.) That said, things can and do organically change, and disciplinary rules can and do too. The big tent of the old church can include Tridentine Anglo-Catholic alumni (close enough so it’s compatible) for example.