Monday, December 15, 2014

Pessimism about Catholic traditionalism is unfounded in my opinion

American Catholicism becomes less conservative, or at least less liturgical.
You have to distinguish between all American Catholics and practicing ones. All American Catholics, counting the ones who don't go to church anymore, are on average more liberal; they follow the lead of secular society. But over the past 25 years I've seen the practicing ones become more conservative. The generation of churchmen who turned liberal at Vatican II ended up with a unique grab bag of beliefs, retaining some of the church's: for example, pushing for women priests yet leaving the one true church was unthinkable. Anyway, those liberal churchgoers are now all old and dying. Pope Francis may not like us but he's a Jesuit so he doesn't care about liturgy either way, and the average age at my Tridentine Mass is in the 30s: young families. (Nice thing about being a parish of the archdiocese: it doesn't sound or feel like a cult; not "self-conscious" as Fr. Chadwick says.) The liberal dream I was told 30 years ago of everybody forgetting the old Mass isn't happening: the Mass that would not die. Pope Benedict the Great called it: 50 years from now we'll be even smaller than we are now, but the American Catholic Church will be conservative again. The liberals will all have died or quit. I wouldn't rule out its becoming Tridentine again but this time with vernacular services, how Vatican II should have been handled in the first place.

I'm no Pollyanna; in the past three years I've been to liberal parishes. The thing is, even there, they have to use Pope Benedict's corrected English translation; it's Catholic, it's orthodox, in spite of themselves. That's huge. So despite all the problems left over by Paul VI and, yes, John Paul II (not heretics but not great Popes either), in a way Benedict set the clock back to around 1965: I can go to Mass anywhere in the United States, know it's valid, and hear Catholic teaching in the text. Changing the English Novus Ordo took so much time and money (printing) that I doubt Francis would undo it.

I look at the Novus Ordo the way a late-1800s Anglo-Catholic did the Book of Common Prayer: containing all things necessary for validity and not heretical but not ideal. I understand there are moderates in the SSPX who agree.
Catholicism is growing in the world outside Europe and North America, but by assimilating the externals of evangelical Protestantism and pietism in the form of charismatic pentecostalism.
If it's orthodox, it won't push us out. I don't think the Third World has the hostility to the old ways that Western liberals, self-haters, did 50 years ago. (The liberals went from faith in "Progress!", which created Vatican II, to attacking the West that created the progress, in short order, in a distortion of Christian humility.) Liberation theology was a Western liberal fantasy projected onto the Third World that's dead, since Communism, another Western liberal fantasy (Christian heresy), obviously doesn't work.

Fr. Chadwick understands the Orthodox option; Dale Griffith's a good teacher. As for the linked article, blaming the developed papacy (papal authority) for the low-churchification at Vatican II is how I tried to buy into Orthodoxy 20 years ago. But as old friend Mark Bonocore put it, there ultimately you have to turn your back on Western Catholicism and declare it apostate. So I backed out of that sale. In contrast, the Catholic Church includes the East.

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