Monday, November 30, 2015

Catholic opponents of the ordinariates

My guess is most of the opposition nominally in the Catholic Church to the ordinariates for Anglo-Catholic alumni comes from the now-defensive, aging Catholic liberals. In the '80s they thought they owned the church and thus its future and even bragged about it to me when the issue came up. God had other plans. The kids take the libcaths' Modernism to its logical conclusion so they don't go to church anymore, so in America we're seeing not only more and more boomer and millennial ex-Catholics, rather than churchgoing "progressive" ones, but I guess more third etc. generation "nothings" with Irish, Italian, and Polish names. (Not the libcath dream of a church even bigger than before Vatican II only happy and clappy thanks to following the times.) The old Protestant dream of absorbing America's Catholic minority, partly fulfilled, the foreigners good Americans at last: "the nuclear family (barely; contraception canceling the next generation), light consumerism, suburban homes, sports and schools, television, and I guess transgenderism, ubiquitous pornography and cheeseburgers," as Seventh Son writes. "We're all human, therefore we can all be SWPLs. (Except toothless Appalachian White Christians. They're not human at all!)" As if everybody wanted to be one. (Quotations via Ex-Army.) Anyway, I understand that in England 20 years ago (right after the Church of England followed the Episcopalians by voting to have women priests) what Damian Thompson calls "the magic circle," the British Catholic clerical version of AmChurch, or the National Catholic Reporter and Call to Action with accents, was upfront (rare for the English, famous for making an art of not saying what they mean or meaning what they say; talking in code Americans don't understand — note; I kid because I love, as I'm mostly WASP and I've lived in the mother country) about not wanting a bunch of embarrassing conservatives (you know, people who actually buy all that dumb steerage Catholic jazz that Vatican II was supposed to wipe away, leaving the church clean and shiny for the space age) coming in, priests who dress like they're "somewhere to the right of Marcel Lefebvre" as journals such as the Tablet (commonly called the Pill; British NCR) sneered. Understandable of the annoying old bastards: nobody, even a heretic, wants to see his legacy threatened. Sidebar: the libcaths basically want to turn the church into Anglicanism and might have converted if only the Anglicans weren't so darn high-church. (Many Anglicans love my traditional Mass; they really love the church but on their terms. Libcaths of course hate that Mass.) Some libcaths I've had runins with were theologically "stuck," confused casualties of the Sixties including Vatican II: they were rightly taught in Cardinal Spellman's church that Catholicism is the true church so when they liberalized as churchmen often told them to, rather than leave, they stayed and tried to change it. The unexpected good news: the few Catholics who are staying now, vs. then, love the faith, the church, and its culture. There is a slow turnaround.

All that opposition is to be expected. But here's some insider stuff most non-Catholics don't know. After the libcaths won, not long after the Sixties captured Middle America by 1973, they soon didn't take traditionalists (the people keeping the full true faith as well as its culture before the Sixties attack including from within) seriously, and sometimes were even nice enough to be condescending after John Paul II gave his very limited permission for the traditional Mass (because it is "the Mass that would not die"; Archbishop Lefebvre, Fr. De Pauw, and others kept it going), such bishops allowing one in their dioceses. By then our worst enemies weren't the heretics but our closest rivals in ecclesiastical politics, the orthodox but low churchmen of conservative Novus Ordo. As the turnaround has gotten under way, they've been changing their minds and high-churching themselves, even changing their minds about traditionalists, but in the '80s, at the heights of both JP2's reign and local liberal power in the church, they were as militantly low-church as the liberals, thinking the Protestant-inspired charismatic renewal (JP2's No. 1 fans) was the future. Give up that artsy-fartsy old-fashioned stuff and do that instead, they told us. They went as far as calling people who "stood still" or said no to the Sixties and only wanted the faith and culture the church had given them "no longer Catholic," literally, as if all these people were Dutch Old Catholics or garage-church vagantes with their own fake Pope.

An element of that remaining low-church conservative Novus Ordo is reacting badly to the ordinariates, as Thomas Day could have predicted: "Real Catholics don't need or want all that faggy lace." Throw in ethnocentrism and reverse snobbery: "Ex-Anglicans who want this stuff are snobs who care more about escargot forks and concert classical music than the truth." There's an ignorant thinking that the church is or should be a monolith: no "bubble," "church within a church," or "Barbie's playhouse" (what the British call a Wendy house from Peter Pan) for these misfits: "What some fussy Anglicans wish the Novus Ordo looked like." Sounds like ecclesiastical Mean Girls.

There's the understandable concern that the Book of Common Prayer texts are from a rank heretic, Thomas Cranmer (I think the only Protestant heresiarch who in the beginning was a valid Catholic bishop, not just a priest; but his Bucerian heresy about the Eucharist rendered his ordinal void). "Why not a Methodist Use for converts, or even Mormon or Muslim Uses"? the naysayers ask. The church approved these texts because they're not heretical and because the other things I mentioned have no tradition of trying to celebrate Mass and otherwise believing what the church believes. Generations of good would-be Catholics have been attached to them. Why Vatican II gave a nod to Anglicans without denying the truth the Leo XIII confirmed (Cranmer dogmatized Eucharistic heresy so no real orders in Anglicanism).

No, the real issue isn't that the converts aren't really Catholic, wanting to import Protestantism. Libcaths who still buy Sixties ecumenism (let's dump our doctrine, then we and the Protestants will just kumbaya together, working for justice and peace, man) would be staunch supporters of the ordinariates if that were so. The contention is really that the converts are Catholic, trying to get away from Protestantism, which the libcaths don't want. The newcomers don't want the libcaths' secondhand Protestantism. Well-meaning or bigoted (anti-English) conservative Novus Ordo Catholics opposing the ordinariates are dupes, useful idiots. That said, from what I can tell, most conservative Novus Ordo people think the ordinariates are great, as is meet and right so to do. Along with traditionalists, the ordinariates are part of the "reform of the reform" (high-churching Roman Rite Catholicism again) that Pope Benedict XVI is identified with.
As converts die off and their children and grandchildren are nurtured in the Catholic faith, those communities will cease to serve any function and hopefully will just fade away, and the integrity and wholeness of the Latin Rite will be reaffirmed.
Another note about "bubbles" in American Catholicism and insisting on uniformity: that was the thinking of Archbishop John Ireland (an Americanist heretic too, an early version of Modernist libcath, even though he used the pre-Vatican II liturgy) and the American Catholic churchmen who pushed Orestes Chornock into schism; Ruthenians who only wanted to keep what they had as Catholics at home turned Orthodox. Bigotry (like the Orthodox' ethnocentric anti-Westernism, come to think of it). The parallel works despite the Book of Common Prayer's Protestant origin because again we're talking about a liturgical text approved by the church and people who are not heretics.

And: pre-Vatican II Catholicism is not a monolith; it's not uniform. Not only do we have the Eastern rites but within the Roman Rite you have different uses (sub-rites), different national cultures and spiritualities, different religious orders with different spiritualities, and even different schools of theological opinion that sometimes hate each other. Different customs such as lace vs. no lace. The church has both.

"So what is Anglican patrimony, Your Highness? Knowing which salad fork to use? Do you hold the chalice with your pinky up or down?"

Elevated classic English including prayers from the Prayer Book (which the church has approved, even though you don't like it, and which I mostly don't use!), Anglican chant, the unique English men and boys' choral sound, Evensong, certain hymns, and sure, things such as coffee hour (parishioners getting to know each other socially; how Protestant, snort). I'll further add a healthy "semi-congregationalism" that is a hedge against another Novus Ordo happening, something we can still learn from Anglo-Catholics. We could ordain married men as new ordinariate priests too, but the church isn't doing that for the foreseeable future, and of course it can say no.
I very much doubt that the ordinariates will be allowed married priests. And any semi-congregationalism that would thwart the Church exercising jurisdiction over those parishes would simply confirm my point about the bubble effect. The first second one of these ordinariate parishes tried to rebel in such a fashion, it should be immediately suppressed. We are not a congregational polity — that is heresy.
I put "congregationalism" in mock quotes and added "semi-" because I know the heresy and the risk. I'm not talking about congregations writing their own doctrine (which is what libcaths want) or saying the bishop has no authority, just that there are other ways of doing things than what the American Catholic Church usually has done, which are not about our doctrine. If our American churchmen hadn't acted like idiots, a lot more Ruthenians would still be Catholic. Believe me, if a lay trustee-owned and run parish defended traditional Catholicism, the libcaths would shut it down faster than you can say "we are church." Watch what they do more than listening to what they say.

"It sounds like 'Anglican patrimony' just means giving the finger to the Novus Ordo. Bad idea." It's a great idea! Don't suppress the Novus Ordo as most Latin Catholics are attached to it, but make Bernard Fellay a cardinal to make the field fair.

The anglicanized English is better; deal with it. I can say that confidently exactly because I don't secretly "like escargot" (believe in heresy) so I don't feel like I have to yell "Fakedty-fake!" or "They don't have Jesus!" every time someone mentions the Anglicans.

But not wanting the ordinariates isn't heresy. The late Msgr. Graham Leonard didn't want anything like that.


  1. The only Protestant Reformers who had been Catholic bishops that I can think of are (1) Matthias von Jagow (1490-1544), offspring of an old Brandenburgish noble family, who was appointed bishop of Brandenburg in 1532, on condition that he be ordained and consecrated a bishop, as he was only a subdeacon at the time. There is some doubt whether he complied with this: if he did not, he would have been merely bishop-elect of the diocese. When Joachim II became elector of Brandenburg in 1535 von Jagow persuaded him to embrace the Reformation, and in 1540 he produced an extremely "traditionalist" liturgical "reform:" basically Lutheran, it retained lots of Catholic customs, such as the retention of Corpus Christi celebrations and processions that Lutherans generally abolished elsewhere, and (2) Pier Paolo Vergerio (1498-1565), Slovenian by background, a papal diplomat and legate, who became Bishop of Modrus (in present-day Croatia) in 1536 and of Capodistria (then in Venetian territory) in 1540. Under some suspicion of Protestant leanings from 1541 onwards, he fled to Switzerland in 1549 and was excommunicated and deposed from his bishopric in that year; he ended up as a Lutheran and died at Tuebingen in the Duchy of Wuerttemberg.

    The two Catholic bishops whose sees were located in East Prussia also willingly embraced Protestantism in 1525, and subsequently strongly promoted Lutheranism, when the local Grand Master of the Teutonic Order secularized his domains, making himself the first Duke of Prussia. They were (1) Georg von Polentz (c. 1478-1550) Bishop of Samland from 1518 to 1550 and (2) Erhard von Queis (c. 1490-1529) Bishop of Pomesania from 1523 to 1529. Whether von Queis was ever consecrated a bishop is unclear: he was already secretly a Lutheran in 1523, and subsequently was intensely anti-Catholic. In any event, although "bishops" were appointed in East Prussia from time to time, down to the abolition of the episcopate there in 1587, none of these later "bishops" appear to have been consecrated, merely appointed.

    Two Archbishops of Cologne, Hermann von Wied (1477-1552; archbishop 1515-1546) and Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg (1547-1601; archbishop 1577-1588) became Protestants, the former a Lutheran of sorts, the latter a Calvinist. The former was driven out by the forces of Charles V and local Catholic resistance; the latter, after his marriage and proclamation of his conversion in 1583, was driven out after a year of warfare, in which he was supported by the Dutch and Palatinate Calvinists, and opposed by the Spanish, the Bavarians, and local Catholics, and finally gave up his claims in 1588, living the rest of his life as the dean of the cathedral of Protestant Strassburgh.

    Other bishops in Germany passively acquiesced in Lutheranism from time to time, down to the 1580s, and in France about seven Catholic bishops turned Calvinist between 1560 and 1573, but none of these "turncoat bishops" achieved any repute as active "religious reformers" after their conversions. For the most part, in both France and Germany, these bishops followed their noble families in their embrace of political Protestantism.

    1. Thanks. None of those started a brand of Protestantism at the "Reformation"; according to Michael Davies, Cranmer was validly consecrated but by then was in schism.


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