Sunday, September 09, 2007

St Pius X against Modernism 100 years on
I like the Pope when he’s Catholic: as the reigning one recently said, ‘Reason and faith go hand in hand... and the concept of a holy war... goes against the nature of God’.

St Pius X died in 1914, heartbroken by the start of World War I.

The same Pope who ordered Byzantine Catholics to liturgically do exactly — nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter — as their Orthodox opposite number and not self-latinise.

He also thoroughly revised the Roman Breviary: if you can slog through the older version of Matins you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.

It’s common knowledge in church circles that the statements and policies against Modernism (C19 German scepticism made inroads among RC priests) was more mind-shackling oppression from big, bad Rome, like an imaginary thumbscrew from the Inquisition (which ‘everybody knows’ was about torturing people, because ‘you know how those Spaniards are’), that it pitted Type 1 Catholics with their narrow Jansenism against well-meaning Type 2s open to the new ideas, like the Anglican Evelyn Underhill and her Roman Catholic mentor Baron von Hügel. The truth: there may have been people like that as indeed there are now but one of the Pope’s staunchest defenders, writing a book with that intention, was Désiré Cardinal Mercier of Belgium, a man who understood tolerant conservatism and the English way of rule of law over tyranny and was a sincere friend of Anglo-Catholics like Viscount Halifax. In the 1920s he hosted the Malines conversations between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. He was defending... the faith!

Likewise ‘everybody knows’ that theological and liturgical conservatives are in bed with politicians like Messrs Bush and Cheney because they whisper sweet nothings about abortion. Actually one of the first Modernists, the excommunicated ex-Jesuit Fr George Tyrrell (who wrote a book answering Mercier titled Mediævalism!) would have been a neocon today, cheering the surge in Iraq and sabre-rattling at Iran. He was a staunch Tory! (Yes, that bit about peace was nice but Christianity must keep up with the times, doncha know?) Whilst the benighted, theologically ‘mediævalist’ Anglo-Catholics were working in the slums and often well-meaningly socialist in their economics. (The same people who later led the fight against apartheid.)

From Ad Orientem.

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