From the ultra-dissenting National Catholic Reporter comes this sustained whine from Richard McBrien, still at the University of Notre Shame in Indiana.
In this piece McBrien "anonymizes" correspondence he received from someone, which is fair enough. But not to this ridiculous degree.
Keep in mind the writer’s penchant for dyspeptic dissent when assessing the veracity of his correspondent’s claims.
Read carefully for a good lesson on how the radical progressivists see the world… see the truly normal Catholic.
My emphases and comments.
The grieving church
By Richard McBrien
Created Apr 27, 2009
I received an e-mail recently from a lay pastoral associate, whose ministerial focus is on adult education and who possesses a graduate degree from a Catholic university. I have his permission to cite a portion of our exchange.
I have suppressed some of the details lest his pastor identify the source and seek to jeopardize the pastoral associate’s job. [Apparently that pastor is a bad man!]
The e-mail came from a large suburban parish in which the pastor has [watch this] apparently done everything that he can to remove most traces of the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council.
The pastor has done away with all contemporary music at Mass, and has restored pre-conciliar devotions along with auricular confession. He even gives the impression that confession is the greatest of the sacraments. [He is basing this on someone’s report about an impression?]
[So… McBrien contends that Vatican II promoted "contemporary music" at Mass – and we know that he means the usual poorly played commercial-jingle stuff that "contemporary groups" tend to play in "large suburban parishes". Also, Vatican II did away with pre-Conciliar "devotions". I suppose that means, for example, recitation of the Rosary before Mass or perhaps Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent, or a devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help or maybe even Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. McBrien thinks that "auricular confession" is also something pre-Conciliar and that Vatican II did away with it also. I would say to Richard McBrien… what are your proofs for the claims that Vatican II did away with those things? In what document of the Council are these things eliminated?]
Perhaps there is some misunderstanding here because the Council of Trent, back in the 16th century, made clear that the greatest of the seven sacraments is the Eucharist. [He is basing this on someone else’s report about an impression. Furthermore, I’ll bet that if we could contact that priest, he would have a sounder understanding of the importance of the Eucharist and its relationship with the sacrament of reconciliation than McBrien.]
Under the pastor’s control, ["control" is a liberal code word. Control is bad… but only when people who don’t agree with you are in control.] the parish has no youth ministry, no parish council, nor any other consultative body. [Really? Perhaps it is merely that this person in that parish wasn’t invited to serve?] According to my correspondent, “consultative is not in his vocabulary.” [Perhaps the pastor is simply not asking for his opinion?] He also gave vocal support to the minority of U.S. Catholic bishops who proclaimed in effect that “Catholics could burn in hell” if they voted Democratic in the recent presidential election. [First, I suspect that the pastor did not actually name either political party. But liberal brains are wired differently. When you say things like, "Catholic Universities must not give honors to pro-abortion politicians" a special chemical reaction takes place and they hear – I am not making this up – they actually hear you to say, "Vote Republican". When a liberal hears you say "The right to be born and live is a fundamental human right", that switch in their heads make them hear, "It’s okay to ignore the poor!" This is the only possible explanation. In charity we simply cannot believe they are too stupid to hear the actual words. We cannot believe they would just lie. Therefore, it must be a special liberal chemical reaction in their brain when certain sound vibrations contact their eardrums.]
My correspondent reported that other members of the parish staff are hurting “terribly.” [Remember, long with the chemical change problem, for liberals emotions trump everything. You must never… never… even risk hurting someone’s feelings. Therefore, you must never, for example, suggest that Vatican II did not actually get rid of auricular confession. That suggests that people… well… people might sin! That’s hurtful because it might make someone feel less than self-actualized. Very bad. Just repeat to these people over and over, "You’re okay just the way you are!" and they ever helpful "I’m there for you!"] Indeed, they share the feelings of the woman who darted out of church recently during the homily – in tears.
She informed the pastoral associate that she could no longer handle the situation, and that she had to leave the parish. She said that all that she ever hears from the pulpit is what sinners the parishioners are, and why it is so necessary for them to “go to Confession.” [Who wants to guess what the topic of the sermon, or that comment was about. Could it have been … lemme see… contraception? Also, did you note how far afield we are getting now? McBrien is reporting what someone else reported about what someone else reported about what someone said in a sermon. Yes, friends. It takes special skills to do this.]
That particular Sunday, with the old-fashioned church music, all the statues covered in purple as they were before Vatican II, and the usual severe words in the homily, the pressure was simply too much for her to bear. [Okay… so… it was LENT. And the priest was talking about the need to go to confession and confess sins. He might have actually mentioned some sins common to our age. WHAT AN OUTRAGE! Jesus would never use severe words or hard sayings! At this point you are probably saying "But Father! But Father! Surely McBrien is now having a joke with everyone. Really! After all, even the recent Ordo for the Church’s liturgical year states that statues can be covered from the 5th Sunday of Lent. There is nothing wrong with ‘old-fashioned’ music…. just what is that, anyway? Something written in the 19th century? Surely, Father, McBrien is kidding around now. No, friends. He is serious. For this sort of person, anything but complete rupture with the Church’s pre-Conciliar tradition is simply too much to be borne.]
The woman [we have this third hand … what was that old childhood game… telephone?] poured out her frustrations, saying that the pastor had taken the parish back to a church that she knows nothing about [If she didn’t know anything about it, then how did she get the idea that what he was doing was wrong?] and in a manner that showed no understanding of others’ feelings.
At the end of his first e-mail, my correspondent asked, “Are we expected just to get used to it?” [Here is the BIG QUESTION. When the partisans of the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" took over and made overnight changes to everything, weren’t people simply expected to "get used to it"? Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they think that is unfair?]
In my reply, I wrote: “No, you are not simply to ‘get used to it’. Parishioners need to go elsewhere, like the woman who left Mass in tears.” [This reminds me of the "Bitter Pill" and their bashing of Fr. Finigan.]
I continued: “If there are no parishes or other worshipping communities in the vicinity where the pastoral leadership is healthy rather than driven by a narrow ideology, [If you want narrow ideology, find a liberal. They are, by definition and the root of the word "liberal", people with whom you are free to agree.] then one simply has to ‘take a vacation’ from the church until the skies finally clear and we are bathed in sunlight once again.” ["Take a vacation from the church"…. did I just read that McBrien is, in public, telling people that if they don’t like the pastor or what he says, they should not go to Mass? Not go to confession? Not get married in the Church? I think that is what he said. Would this fit the definition of scandal?]
In response, the pastoral associate noted that “the number of our parish families who are already on vacation from the church is amazing. It hurts to see it.” [Yes… that indeed should hurt anyone who has even half his heart with Holy Mother Church.]
“It’s new territory, dealing with people grieving for their church,” he wrote. [ROFL! What about all the people who for decades who saw their Church and her flock devastated by changes having nothing to do with the Council or authentic conciliar reforms? This is risible beyond words.]
The lead article in America magazine’s 100th anniversary issue (4/13/09) is by a Dominican who is justly admired the world over. It is Timothy Radcliffe’s [LOL!] “The Shape of the Church to Come.”
What follows here is a continued commentary on the problem of the “grieving church” and not meant as a criticism of Timothy Radcliffe’s fine article in which he deplores the polarization that is “deeply wounding and inhibits the flourishing of the church.”
However, [pay attention!] he does identify this polarization as consisting of self-defined “traditionalist” Catholics in open conflict with self-defined “progressive” Catholics. [Which is exactly what McBrien and his lot are striving to perpetuate. People in the same camp as Pope Benedict are striving to heal that division.]
My experience with the worldwide Catholic church is surely much more limited than Timothy Radcliffe’s, and I would defer to his experience [again, pay attention!] if indeed he has come across a significant number of Catholics who actually identify themselves as “progressive.” On the other hand, [watch this] I know of countless numbers of Catholics who proudly call themselves “traditional” or “orthodox.”
The pastor in the true story above surely would regard himself as “orthodox,” but the woman who left the church in tears would never have defined herself as a “progressive” Catholic. That adjective would mean nothing to her. [… ?!? … How on earth could he know that about her? Because that is the only way what happened can be interpreted properly according to his world-view. I will drill into this below.]
She and other Catholics like her grieve simply for the loss of their church, a church renewed and reformed by Vatican II. [A fantasy about what the "reformed Church of Vatican II" is about, pal. But that has little or nothing to do with the actual documents of the Council.]
It is not polarization but the pastor of the story and many like him who are responsible for the grieving church. [In the end, he descends to mere bullying. But we will get into what he is really saying, below.]
Fr. McBrien is [still] the Crowley-O’Brien professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Here we need a little lesson.
First, the technique. McBrien and his lot set up false premises and then, through them, attempt to lead to lead your through the looking glass.
There are many such false premises in the above. For example, McBrien asserts weird things about what the Council did away with. Auricular confession is pre-Conciliar. The Council did away with auricular confession. The pastor as reinstituted auricular confession. The pastor is against the Council. That sort of BS blah blah.
Here is another, subtler thing to watch for when reading this sort of rubbish.
Liberals, progressivists, leftists – call them what you will, it doesn’t matter – do not want to allow "maps". What do I mean by "maps"?
They don’t want to concede that there are real splits, divisions in the Church along certain lines. This is because they don’t want to concede that there is an reasonable alternative view, and alternative to their own view which you are simply required to accept.
McBrien is the sort of liberal, usually in their 60’s or 70’s, who won’t admit that there is on the map of the Church an extreme fringe on the far left, radical progressivists.
Of course he doesn’t want to admit that: that is where he is.
In his piece, above, he doesn’t want to admit that there are really any "progressives" out there. There are self-defined conservative, but surely not any progressivists.
For McBrien there is the huge mushy mass of Catholics and there is a radical right wing fringe, a small minority. They are cranks, not important… unless they get control of something.
For McBrien, Pope Benedict is one of these cranks. But Benedict has control. Anyone on Pope Benedict’s side of things, anyone who wants continuity with our liturgical tradition and body of doctrine before the Council, is a dangerous crank.
And since for progressivists, numbers really matter (they authentic their positions with polling data), it is important that there be very few right-wing cranks. Liberals think that majorities verify their positions. Thus, they refuse to allow on their maps of the Church that too much ground be conceded to tradition.
There is another type of liberal, more reasonable, who will concede that there is also a liberal far left fringe, also very small, also not so important. They are not as dangerous as conservatives if they get control of anything. The progressive extremists are not cranks in the sense that conservatives are cranks. But there remains, even in this vision, the huge mushy mass of those who are not on the fringe. They don’t like that their maps should include much other than what they fantasize: almost everyone agrees with us and those who don’t really are normal.
But that doesn’t describe McBrien. He is a liberal of the first group, not this more reasonable second.
McBrien would reject that there are two poles. That would concede too much ground that he thinks by divine right belongs to his party. It is a psychological thing, a necessary trope, an unavoidable lens. They can’t help it. There is no no real division in the normal Church. Instead, a nutty fringe is trying to hijack the Church. Ratzinger and his curia and his followers have control. They are the lone aberrant fringe to be resisted. For McBrien, the real Church, the normal Church includes fringe progressivists but excludes tradition.
Progressivist = mainstream.
The Church is a huge mass of lay people with "sane" clergy, "tame" priests who have embraced what clearer thinking people know is really the agenda of a radical progressivist fringe.
For McBrien some few hurtful traditional wackos are out there and everyone else is normal. We mustn’t allow the true and normal Church the – we are church – to be victimized by the mean-spirited. That is why you can simply take a vacation. In the face of loss of control to the extremists (read: conservatives) it is okay not to go to Church for the sacraments. Remember, for McBrien there are no liberal extremists. Thus, whatever is done by progressivists, no matter how discontinuity and rupture they inflict, is still "normal".
Go back and read McBrien’s comments about the "minority of U.S. Catholic bishops". Reread his comments that there are self defined conservatives but not progressives. Read his recommendation that if you can’t find a parish which doesn’t lay mean-spirited guilt trips about sin on you during Lent, then it is better to avoid going to Church.
The McBrien Catholics can legitimately "grieve" for a Church they think has been hijacked. It is not even in their world-view that people could legitimately grieve for a Church they saw as hijacked and led in bondage away from our Catholic tradition. McBrien’s Catholics have legitimate standing in the Church, not anyone else.
I think we have to say that there is another paradigm. There are also those who see that the Church is polarized into three basic groups, a traditional conservative right, a center, and a progressivist liberal left. However, this group thinks that right and the left are far larger than mere fringe groups. This group understands that there is a serious polarization between these groups and the polarization is getting deeper. This is an impossible paradigm for the progressivists because it cedes too much ground to an alternative on the traditional side. For liberals, conservatives are always cranks and when they have power they are dangerous. Instead, a more reasonable view, while seeing the polarization, does not see they right as being made up merely of SSPSers or people who want Latin, etc. They are often simply people who are far closer to what they mainstream really ought to be: they want reverent Catholic worship by the book and clear teaching delivered in charity, and joyful engagement in works of mercy. They are also tired of being pushed around by liberals.
Take this little scholion to heart and learn to examine what the progressivists are trying to feed you. Find their false premises and keep in mind their world view, their psychological framework. They are dying out, but they still have positions of influence.