Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Catholic Defcon, the new Anglo-Catholicism, and more

  • Archbishop Piero Marini, new prefect of Congregation for Divine Worship? "One of Bugnini’s men." (Good thing the church is indefectible but I'm pretty sure Archbishop Bugnini was a heretic.) But he's old. Reminds me of the irony that the liberals who low-churched with the excuse of "relating to the kids" are old; the few kids who go to Mass want my Mass or something like it. Fr. Chadwick: What would be the best thing? Clearly a system reboot, and a new beginning. Maybe. Everything in our polity except that which is also doctrine (the papacy and the episcopate) is negotiable. From all accounts, Pope Francis has about the liturgical sensitivity of Paddy O’Flaherty’s goat and has little or no sympathy with the traditionalists in the RC Church. He does little to shut them down, but supplies them with no fuel either. Yeah. Nothing new needs to be invented — you just do what has always been done. That's what it's really about, not apologetics for papal supremacy, though that has its use. He's just part of the package. Our teaching: the Pope is a steward of a monarch, not a monarch. The Roman rite as it was in the early 1960’s was for a time only continued by dissident and disobedient groups. Its use in the current RC Church seems to be on a par with “culture” in modern technological society — put in a museum or on CD’s to be looked at or listened to from the outside. I have often observed this difference between old mainstream religion and the traditionalists. Yup. Under Benedict the Great and even before him, in the last years of John Paul II, that started to change. Pope Francis seems to have been about making people uncomfortable. Again, it is like Hollande after Sarkozy, veiled plutocracy after the same thing without a mask. Perhaps there is the idea of making Catholics “pure” Christians weaned off addictions like nice churches and liturgies. If that is so, then why bother with church? Perhaps we would be better Christians by practising Zen or sailing the sea in a fresh breeze and an overcast day. Why bother with popes, priests and churches? That is the way most people see it. Right. It's Protestantism's endgame. I admire the traditionalists for trying to keep something going, but they have to adjust their ecclesiology to justify their disobedience. But if you really understand the teachings of the church, do you? 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. I've been to the grave of St. John Southworth and St. Margaret Clitherow's house, and seen the ruin of an abbey outside York; life-changing. Can't buy Cranmer, Hooker, Laud, Pusey, Mote, or Schori. More from Fr. C.
  • Cardinals warn Pope against remarried Communion ban reform. Book by powerful group of cardinals issues warning to Pope Francis on remarriage policy ahead of Vatican synod. I'll say that "remarried Communion ban reform" is impossible. Cardinal Burke, sent packing from the Curia: “It simply makes no sense to talk about mercy which doesn’t respect truth.”
  • Dare we panic? So what is Catholic Defcon 1? Going to the SSPX if a sedevacantist scenario comes true, which I think can happen? (A Pope oversteps his bounds by trying to change our teaching. Cf. St. Robert Bellarmine.) Or would Defcon 1 be when there's real persecution, as in "Reformation" England and the Soviet Ukraine? So, recusancy and going underground. This could include not having any bishops or priests available: the crypto-Catholics of old Japan. Defcon 2: the local church becomes heretical: go to the SSPX. Defcon 3: the local church is inhospitable and in some places heretical: American parishes in the '70s and '80s; where we seem headed again, but not nearly as bad because of Benedict the Great's overhaul of English Novus Ordo (I can go to Mass anywhere in America). Under Benedict we were at Defcon 4, an orthodox renewal in a liberal landscape. The '50s and earlier were Defcon 5 (but see below about the grownups in charge then: "Let's streamline the church or even work with Protestants to create a new church!").
  • Rome/SSPX talks. As several commentators have pointed out before, the SSPX, by and large, accepts far more of the Second Vatican Council than many liberals who, sadly, remain in good standing with the Church. There will always be folks who don’t want the Society regularized for their own ideological reasons, but so what? Liberal Catholics don’t like the SSPX for obvious reasons. Neo-Catholics don’t care for the Society either, though mainly because the Society, along with other traditionalists, have been raining on the neo-Catholic triumphalist parade for decades.
  • St. Clement's Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, no longer identifies with the Catholic Church. The rector emeritus does gay weddings and sides against the church in his blog, the new rector's a married ex-Catholic, and a woman priest (leader of America's new Anglo-Catholics, the "affirming, inclusive" Society of Catholic Priests; unlike Catholic liberals, they love our stuff) is preaching there. I've thought for some time she'll be their first woman celebrant, which will probably happen soon. The place that used to pray "for reunion with the Holy See, and that the scandal of the attempted ordination of women be removed from the Anglican Communion." (Because we can't change the matter of the sacraments.) We can learn from Anglo-Catholic semi-congregationalism: it seemed appealing as a hedge against Modernism when the church was at Defcon 3 30 years ago, and it produces close parish communities. Not my fight, no hard feelings towards Mother Takacs and the rest of the new A-Cs (though it's hard for me to call them that), and after all, St. Clement's IS Episcopal, but considering what it long aspired to be by using the traditional Roman Rite, its homosexuality notwithstanding, this is like watching a family member or friend leave the church.
  • Bishop Schori's retiring. No dog in this fight, if there still is one. I think her kind of Modernism's passé just like in the Catholic Church. The next Presiding Bishop will probably be liberal high-church (new Anglo-Catholic), like Rowan Williams. Credally orthodox and knows how to swing a thurible at an ad apsidem altar, but maybe another woman and definitely on board with that and gay marriage. Why was the House of Bishops of an American denomination meeting in Taipei?
  • The death of adulthood in American culture. The New York Times on "Mad Men"; that should prepare you for the liberal miasma in this article, but it makes points others have. A friend born in '53 has described the golden era as when "the grownups were still in charge." Regrettably these people were in love with "Progress!" so they had Vatican II. The irony of "Mad Men" is it became popular despite its creator's we-know-better-now intent: Weren’t those guys awful, back then? But weren’t they also kind of cool? We are invited to have our outrage and eat our nostalgia too, to applaud the show’s right-thinking critique of what we love it for glamorizing. Beware of lefty nostalgia: “Masters of Sex” (a prehistory of the end of patriarchy). There is no "end of patriarchy," because patriarchy is part of nature. Which is why the church has patriarchs, for example.
  • From Roissy: Science discredits feminism.


  1. I wonder how long St. Clement's has been gay. My understanding is as recently as its Anglo-Papalist heyday, when Fr. Joiner was rector and Dom Gregory Dix visited, about 65 years ago, it was a normal parish with families, a Sunday school (taught by "penguin" All Saints Sisters of the Poor, who are now Catholic in the Archdiocese of Baltimore), etc. The territorial parish really ended, though, when the Ben Franklin Parkway by the Art Museum was built early last century, razing the neighborhood St. Clement's was meant to serve.

    It's been gay at least since its rector from the '60s (and Sixties, the cultural phenomenon/change when American society and much of the rest of the West went to hell), Fr. Hendricks, which was also when like most other churches St. Clement's modernized liturgically. The rollback to Tridentine started under his successor, Fr. Fitzhugh, but "the gay" stayed and of course is still there.

    A wag could parody Virtue Online and write an Episcopal scandal story about St. Clement's first openly heterosexual rector.

  2. Replies
    1. I was highly amused by Paul Goings' comment on that thread, in which he admits that he and his like-minded chums were doubly duped, first by Canon Reid and now by his successor, that they would maintain the parish's Anglo-Catholic tradition. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice ..."

    2. It didn't make me gloat. Canon Reid did betray them. While, maybe unlike Reid at first, Fr. Alton was a known quantity, hired by the liberals who took over St. Clement's under Reid, that Alton too went back on his word was worth noting.

      Paul is largely right here: 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. For example, from him and St. Clement's I learned much, hands on, about using the breviary (the "office" in "Mass and office" traditional Catholicism) that would have been hard to pick up otherwise. Also, 25 years ago if you wanted "traditional liturgy and devotion," you had only two choices here, neither of which were in the archdiocese: St. Clement's with its Anglican baggage including the gay element or the SSPX with its baggage. Some people, temperamentally not a good fit with the SSPX, chose the first.

      While I'm trying to be fair to all involved, including Mother Takacs and the Episcopal Church, I'm saddened too. As I wrote above, it's like watching someone leave the Catholic Church.

      While Paul has well written St. Clement's epitaph, its epilogue is in a way not surprising to people like me who knew and benefited from it. A number of the "about 40 faithful traditional Anglo-Catholic parishioners" he mentioned 1) "did much to preserve and promote traditional liturgy and devotion, at a time when it had no other real home in the Philadelphia area" and 2) are now (back) in the archdiocese: not in the Prayer Book/Novus Ordo-ish ordinariate, which wouldn't fit their Tridentine way, but, fittingly, are another Tridentine Mass in the Philadelphia area, downtown, now at Holy Trinity Church. Lots of people underestimated the main movers at St. Clement's: they really believed in Catholicism (not Episcopalianism) and, pushed against the wall by Reid and his friends, chose it. Besides the aesthetics, the knowledge, and the fellowship, I knew I liked that place for a reason.

    3. A kind, as well as informative, response. You put me to shame.


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