I find myself once again in The City of Big Shoulders, Chicago. The last couple of days have been fascinating, as I have met an interesting priest with an interesting story and had the chance to hear about what some lay people are doing – or plan to do – in these parts about The Present Crisis.
As I have commented before, a great deal of the clean up of The Present Crisis will be (must be) driven by lay people, who have, above all, numbers, and who have, ultimately, the money.
This will be a two-edged sword.
The sword, I think, has been drawn.
What I am picking up – I wonder if you priests and bishops out there are picking this up – is that lay people are angry in a way that I’ve never seen.
This leads me to the next point.
At The Weekly Standard there is a piece by Mary Eberstadt about what has been, is and will be going on for a while. She really nails it. After considering the way The Former Crisis was handled in the early 2000’s, she gets into the present, looking at language and how it is being used by the catholic left to deflect the cleansing of the Church that must be accomplished away from the true causes of the filth.
They’ll do anything, it seems to prevent us from dealing with homosexuality. I’m sure that’s because they are self-interested.
Here are some choice bits:
Another word that continues to cloud rather than illuminate is homophobe, and its related variants, homophobia and homophobic. Inside parts of the church, and ubiquitously outside it, homophobe has become an automatic smear deployed for partisan purposes. We see this clearly by observing that related teachings of the church are not similarly made into epithets. Do people speak of contracept-ophobes, to criticize church teaching against contraception? Do they decry klepto-phobes or forni-phobes?
The fact that those other words aren’t in circulation shows that homophobe is meant to shame, intimidate, and sideline apologists for the magisterium. Homophobe, like gay, has become a political term, not a spiritual one. It’s an epithet, not an argument.
Words are never a matter of indifference. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn insisted, we aren’t obliged to participate or even to acquiesce in false accounts of reality. [That’s what libs insist on: you must deny facts in front of your eyes.] If we can’t speak clearly and plainly, we can’t think clearly and plainly. And if we can’t think clearly and plainly, we will never be able to reduce the damage being done in the house of God by the pachyderm trying to wreck it from within.
Today the moral coin is flipped: It is the antagonists of tradition-leaning Catholics who are trying to look the other way and carry on against overwhelming evidence that there’s nothing to see here.
They’ve also put new slurs into circulation. Some of the people uncovering the truth have been disparaged as haters, for example, including by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who is presumed by many to speak for the pope. Haters, like homophobe, is an epithet imported from the antinomian secular political culture. Its suggestion that some people are beyond redemption is profoundly un-Christian. It should never be used by anyone in religious authority.
Another slur is even worse than haters. Many agonized Catholics desiring only to know whether allegations are true are now accused of participating in religious treason—of planning a “putsch” within the church, as Michael Sean Winters has put it in the National Catholic Reporter. Or consider some characterizations of the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former nuncio to the United States and author of a historically unprecedented and detailed 11-page letter released last month, accusing the pope and others of covering up abuse. Theologian Massimo Faggioli has called the work a “coup operation.” Fr. James Martin has tweeted similarly of a “coordinated attack” intended to “delegitimize” the pope.
This list could go on and on. Such martial language is designed to marginalize and malign anyone interested in the veracity of Viganò’s claims. It also sends the terrible signal that some churchmen and theologians underestimate the sufferings caused by unchecked abusers hiding behind Roman collars. The increasingly hysterical insistence that all will be well if only everyone leaves the pope alone underestimates the intelligence of the laity. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Anyone who has read Viganò’s letter knows that the testimonial isn’t some anonymous comment tossed into cyberspace but a series of intricate assertions about who knew what and when—all of which can be verified or not in the long run. That bishops and others in authority have testified to the credibility of its author makes the document even harder to discredit, let alone ignore.
First, clerical leaders around the world who do believe in a hereafter must avoid further scandalizing the remaining faithful. They must grasp that just as the scandals themselves have become an engine of secularization, so too has the refusal to address them.
But in this grave moment for the church, the laity knows more than it did 16 years ago. Back then I wrote, “If humility is now required of Catholics, so too is backbone. If it takes shutting down certain seminaries to protect boys of the present and future, close them now. If vocations to the priesthood should be so far reduced by stringent screening for abuse victims that American Catholics have to travel 50 miles to Mass, let them drive.” [You mean like some trads have been doing for years just to find a Mass that isn’t filled with fluff or abuses?] Today, a laity forged in this latest round of scandal knows all too well that there are worse things for the church than a priest shortage. And thanks again to the Internet, the same laity is scrutinizing the hierarchy as never before.
There is a good deal more that you can explore on your own.
This is a good time to repeat my mantra.
No initiative that we undertake in the Church – including cleansing – will succeed if it does not begin with and return to our sacred liturgical worship of God.
We must revitalize our liturgical worship. This is URGENT. In turn, this will have a massive knock-on effect on priests and, with them congregations.
We have to get serious again about how we fulfill our obligations under the virtue of religion both individually and collectively. That means liturgy.
And by liturgy I don’ mean Mass! PLEASE, people, stop using the word “liturgy”… “the liturgy” if you are talking about Holy Mass. Mass is liturgy, but liturgy is more than Mass. Liturgy includes the liturgical hours and all manner of other rites.
We need a restoration of The Liturgy across the board, from top to bottom. That is why I am encouraged that some bishops have turned their eyes to liturgical calendrical moments in the Church’s year such as Ember Days. That’s a sign that, perhaps, in some places we might be sobering up after the decades of drifting on the halcyon vapors of the 60’s and the delusions about what was mandated and what was not by the Council Fathers.
The revitalization of our Catholic identity – isn’t that what we are talking about in This Present Crisis? – must come from revitalization of our collective formal liturgical worship of God. Then it must return to worship in an unending circle. Christ is the one who is the True Actor in every world and liturgical gesture. Our participation in those words and gestures have transformative power. This is TRUE “Liberation Theology”! Authentic active participation by active receptivity in serious and reverent and time-proven liturgical rites that tie across the gulfs of centuries, regions and even the door of death.
LEARN THE TRADITIONAL ROMAN RITE.
Teach about it. Make it available. Use it often and oftener.
This is one of the greatest tools we have in The Present Crisis to help us do what needs to be done.