Yesterday I posted Gerald Warner’s fulmination against bishops and Vatican II.
My friend Fr. Ray Blake, pastor of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton, has a response to Mr. Warner.
Yesterday, Gerald Warner created a bit of a stir by provacatively claiming that sexual abuse was a post Vatican II problem.
How could clergy transgress so gravely against the doctrines of the Church? What doctrines? These offences took place in the wake of Vatican II, when doctrines were being thrown out like so much lumber. These offenders were the children of Paul VI and “aggiornamento”. Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily.
The “neglected” sacraments and devotional practices that the Pope says could have prevented this did not just wither on the vine: they were actively discouraged by bishops and priests. In the period when this abuse was rampant, there was just one mortal sin in the Catholic Church: daring to celebrate or attend the Latin Tridentine Mass. A priest raping altar boys would be moved to another parish; as for a priest who had the temerity to celebrate the Old Mass – his feet would not touch the ground.
In order for him to uphold his thesis he would have to prove that sexual abuse either didn’t happen before the VII or was much, much rarer. I don’t think that is possible to prove. Indeed many of the cases now coming to light in Germany and Austria are cases where the alleged clerical perpetrator is now dead, some of them happened in the 1950s, before the Council and many of the abusers were trained and ordained before Council.
The Pope has linked this "filth" to a loss of faith, secular commentators have linked it to celibacy, Warner links it to "trendy bishops". All three are right.
The Pope of course is the most right. I watched a video recently in which an Irish priest famed for his work amongst street children said of conversion, "we’ve moved beyond all that". I suspect he meant: we are concerned with making a better world but without personal Salvation. [Which would actually make the world more dangerous.]
It is not VII, it is the loss of the centrality of Christ in the Church that is the heart of the problem. [At this point, I think some would suggest to Fr. Blake that the documents of Vatican II are not always clearly Christocentric.] I think that it would be provable that the crisis is the fruit of Modernism, a direct result of the dethroning of God, a violation of the first commandment. Modernism saps belief in the power of Grace. It destroys any understanding of the Church’s mission. It transforms holy dynamic celibacy into self-serving bachelorhood. It robs the priesthood and religious life of any transcendent meaning and can so often reduce it to empty loneliness. [Well said.]
The great exeunt from the Church after the Humanae Vitae was a crisis greater than this present one, seems not to have been a crisis over the restatement of the traditional doctrines of the Christian faith but a dam break of pre-Concilliar liberal Modernist thought.
Warner is wrong to lay this crisis at the door of VII but I suspect he is not wrong to lay it the door of "the spirit of VII". [Qui bene distinguit bene docet.] Certainly the "rupture" with the past brought about an undermining of the spirituality of the Church, cutting many off from the roots that not only gave nourishment but also support.
Warner blames post-Concilliar liturgy as being an important constituent part of the crisis, which is worth considering. One of the things that has been going through my mind recently, is the Pope’s expression, "the closed circle" describing "ad populum" celebration of the Mass. [Do I hear and "Amen!"?] If that is the constant presentation of the image of the Church in its public worship, it is easy to juxtapose this image with cover-up. The "closed circle" tends to be self serving and self interested, it tends to look to itself and be self-preserving and self congratulatory. If the priest, when he prays is constantly looking to the congregation, is he not likely to be concerned with the congregation’s validation.