Fr. John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has of late been applying his customary perspicience to matters current over at his fine blog Mutual Enrichment.
Today he tackles the wifty notions of the libs who yock “Clericalism!” at traditional Catholics at every turn.
Have a look… I’ll cut part out to force you to read over there:
Clericalism? Are the Traddies guilty?
The medieval historian John Bossy used to point out how dominant the laity were in the Church life of the High Middle Ages. Parishes were corporately structured, and dominated by powerful lay Guilds led by pairs of Wardens; for their religious needs they hired and paid clergy, just as, doubtless, for their footwear they employed and remunerated cobblers. Sometimes you can still see the guildswomen or guildsmen pictorially immortalised at the bottoms of the windows they put into their Parish Churches, as at S Neots in Cornwall. There were sacramental things that only the clergy, of course, could do; but it was not the clergy who called the tune. (‘Clericalism’, Dix loved to suggest, is a post-Reformation Presbyterian and Calvinist phenomenon.)
I hope no-one will be offended if I point out that things are rather like the High Middle Ages in Traddiland. [NB] In my experience, the Traditionalist enterprise is forcefully energised and led by well-qualified and determined lay men and women, often if not usually young. For their liturgical needs, they call upon clergy whom they know to be idonei. They are very polite and courteous and grateful and generous; but it always seems clear to me who is in charge. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must make clear that I think this de facto system works extremely well and I am very happy indeed when I am allowed to be part of it. I am not being snide … quite the opposite … and if anybody suggests I am ‘complaining’ I shall strangle them with a printed copy of the Novus Ordo. [An excellent use for the Novus Ordo that I hadn’t thought of. For my part, in our Mass Society here in Madison (please make a tax deductible donation TODAY – HERE), of which I am the “prez”, I point in helpful directions but the fantastic lay people get things done. They have built good relationship with the clergy here and it is a delight to work with them. They get it.]
It is an amusing paradox that the disorders in the post-Conciliar Church should have led to such a (please forgive my use of this word) empowerment of the traddy Laity. By empowerment I do not refer to anything like the activities of the infantilised laity of the ‘Mainstream Church’. You all know the sort of “lay involvement” that happens there … just before Holy Communion, the celebrant breaks into the sugary mood-music to call out “We’re short of a Eucharistic Minister … can somebody else please come up?” And there is some gruesome little committee which meets weekly with the pp to “arrange the liturgy”. No; I am talking about laity empowered in the sense of possessing adult competence and grown-up self-confidence. [This is the worst sort of clericalism there is: Father “Just Call Me Bob” smugly allows lays people to do what he can do, in the guise of “empowering” them. As if they aren’t good enough on their own as baptized Catholics. No, Father has to give them a veneer of his clerical pulchritude. Disgusting.]
[… the part I cut to tease you …]
Catholic Traditionalist laity, above all, do not seem to be nearly as scared of bishops as so many Catholic clergy are, the poor trembly things.
Failure to tremble at the knees at the very thought of “The Bishop” or “The Archbishop” or “The Cardinal” is, of course, a healthy feature also of the Anglican Patrimony and so it flourishes also in the Ordinariates. It needs to spread. Down with Clericalism! As the Holy Father would (and probably does) say, Down with Rigid Narcissistic Pelagian Prelaticism!
Do I hear an “Amen!”?