At the site of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, there is a preview article from their upcoming 14 July number which merits your attention. I ingested it with great interest along with my at least quadruple espresso ristretto this morning and a couple of digestive biscuits.
The piece in question is by Damian Thompson, who delighted me with the opening sentence and kept me reading onward:
My first parish priest was a little old man with pebble spectacles who looked like a gorgeously coloured beetle as he bent over the altar in his Roman chasuble.
Damian, with whom I’ve had both resonances and dissonances, goes on to describe his own experience of growing up in the upheaval of the post-conciliar Church in England. He then makes distinctions about the sort of upheaval experienced then, and what we are experiencing now.
He thinks that the Church is in trouble. Yes, I know, I know. Water is still wet, etc. But hear him out:
Specifically, Catholics in the West – and that includes those in the Vatican – have adopted the liberal-versus-conservative mindset that has fractured non-Catholic denominations. It’s as if Christians are required to choose between two set menus, in which social justice comes with a side salad of transgender blessings – or, alternatively, you can opt for solemn liturgy with free-market seasoning.
That’s both clever and well-crafted. However, I wonder if he isn’t missing something. For example, it seems from this that those who choose a side are then content with their resting on that side with no further aim.
Clearly, I am in the second camp, opting for solemn liturgy and free-market economy. However, I opt for those from my conviction that both are transformational forces. Solemn traditional sacred worship, wide-spread and frequent, will serve to revitalize our liturgical worship of God across the whole of the Catholic spectrum. It will help to form more and more priests, who will create their own knock-on effect in congregations. It will give other initiatives of the Church the best possible foundation. Free-markets are the best way available to raise the largest number of people from poverty and to expand the creation of wealth in a way that is consistent with the human dignity of work. For me, liturgical worship and free-markets are not ends in themselves. The ends, for me, are the reordering of love and worship of God (religion) and proper treatment of neighbor (justice), both virtues being transformed by charity.
Damian also makes some suggestions. Here are the first two of the four he offers:
I won’t presume to suggest a route out of this mess, but I can think of some necessary-but-not-sufficient steps that the Church should take as an insurance against going down the route of the Anglican Communion.
First, liberal Catholics must accept that they’re not going to get women priests or gay marriage. Ever. The Church’s ruling on these matters is absolutely definitive. Married priests fall into a separate category: I sometimes think that if Francis had pushed through this change, instead of entering the quagmire of divorce and Communion, he might have been surprised by how may orthodox Catholics supported him. [I’d be surprised if any supported that.]
Second, the Tridentine Mass (I can’t bear the term “Extraordinary Form”) must not be banned again. That would be a betrayal of those traditionalist priests and lay people who stayed faithful to papal authority during the decades when they were treated as second-class citizens by their own pastors. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
Go over and read the whole thing. Damian is a good writer and his musings are worthy of discussion.