I regret that I remain unable to devote the needed time and attention to both this site and correspondence.
However, here is another extract from my upcoming book:
A clear disjunction can be found everywhere in the contemporary Church. There is a dissonance between the desire to resemble the world and the desire to be true to the Catholic Mystery.
What matters is not so much how this disjunction expresses itself (for example, sacred versus secular music or a reverent theology versus a ridiculing one) but the fact that the Church is being torn apart in two contrary directions.
Now, what can be expected of a house so divided? Has Our Lord Himself not already provided a clear answer to this question?
If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand …No man can enter into the house of a strong man and rob him of his goods, unless he first bind the strong man, and then shall he plunder his house (Mark 3. 24-25, 27).
A strong man: There was a time, once, when the Church was a house of strength. For She possessed the potency that comes with united conviction. And this Church was filled with treasure.
The treasure consisted of its liturgy, its dogmas, its traditions, its prayers and devotions and sacramentals – and all the piety which these, in turn, once evoked in faithful hearts.
But now, the house is divided. Compared to what She was, the Church has become ever more compromised and enfeebled.
The demand went out: Now, the Catholic Church must become more like us. And as the Church succumbed to this temptation, the strong tradition of the pre-Vatican II Church was arrested, bound and fettered – and as a result Catholicism has been plundered.
For, in the aftermath of the Sixties’ revolt, all manner of treasure vanished from the Church – quite literally. For old artwork, altars, statues and more, which were deemed too traditional, were cast out from the Sanctuary. One finds them now on e-bay …
The Church remains weak, very weak, and will continue to remain weak, while She is divided against herself.
And there is no guarantee that She can continue to stand in the world, debilitated as She is, by the ongoing quasi-schism within Her bosom.
This quasi-schism: It is threatened by groups of liberals as well as ultra-traditionalists. (Both of whom are basically Protestant – elevating, as they do, their own interpretations above those of the Holy See.)
Still, the warfare in the Church continues, after half a century of discontent. All this should make one thing evident, at least.
If the Church has become enervated through division and dissolution, then the solution requires concord and unity. But which kind of concord and unity?
For it must be acknowledged that liberal Catholics also hope for a united Church. They would like to see the present conflict ended with a new, transformed Church which would ‘complete the work of the Council’.
For they believe the problem lies in this: The ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ has yet to be fully implemented. And so they yearn for a third Vatican Council which might finish the remaining work of reform.
While I was still liberally-minded myself, I visited an enclave of ‘progressive’ Catholics in Ireland, who expressed their hope for future reforming councils.
At Vatican III, it was said, there will be married Bishops; at Vatican IV there will be married Bishops – with their husbands.
This was said with the air of jest – but it expressed the clear aspiration of liberal Catholics for a united Church – united around their consensus: If only the Church could fully adapt Herself to modern secularism, casting off Her ‘archaic embarrassments’, then what good She might do for the world!
This, of course, begs numerous questions. Throughout this book, we have argued that secular currents have fostered contemporary materialism. Could a Church that uncritically adheres to these same liberal values – which have led to the present materialistic impasse – ever hope to be a force for good?
Moreover, can such a Church be truly Catholic? And could such a Church ever unite around values, which have always been alien to Her fundamental nature?
The answer is no. For the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ has tried to inject Enlightenment values into the Church. And the Enlightenment – whatever virtues it may have possessed – was inextricably entangled with a rationalism, reductionism and empiricism which was hostile to Christian revelation.
The result is that the Church now suffers from something analogous to diplopia. Diplopia is an optical defect in the eyes where the images formed on the two retinas are so dissimilar that the eyes cannot co-ordinate them. The result is double vision.
For the Church now suffers two competing visions, where previously it saw only one. Now, there is low Christology versus high Christology. Now, there is demythologised Christianity versus Supernatural Revelation. Now, there is the vision of a new, liberal, worldly, democratic Church versus the Church of tradition, authority and hierarchy. The list goes on …
Now, the liberal Catholic who has studied the last fifty years must admit – if he is honest – that the attempt to adapt Catholicism to liberalism has led to war in the Church. Can the honest liberal Catholic really hope to establish Catholic unity by demanding that the Church further abandon Her roots – indeed her essential nature?!
Yes, after half a century of conflict, any honest analysis must conclude that unity cannot be reached this way.
In the 1960s, it was different. Back then, no doubt many souls believed that accommodation was possible between the traditional and liberal elements within the Church.
Many no doubt felt that the cataclysmic changes undertaken then would be sufficient to appease those of a modern persuasion. Many no doubt hoped that through compromise, liberals and conservatives might become united.
For the conservatives in the Church did indeed take immense steps towards meeting the liberals. The Catholic Church transformed Herself almost overnight in ways completely unprecedented in Her two millennia of history.
Has this mighty transformation proved sufficient for a reconciliation? No. How I recall a liberal Catholic friend telling me that the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ would need to be a ‘hundred times’ stronger in order that the Church might be rendered acceptable for him. Such an attitude is hardly unique in liberal Catholicism.
No, the Church is still not sufficiently liberal for the modernisers. They feel that further compromise, further concessions are urgently required. Here is the cry of so-called ‘progressives’ everywhere: Modernity demands ever more of the Church: less hierarchy, more democracy, women Priests and ever fewer restrictions on sexual abandon (and much else besides). The Church must jive to the modern beat and accept divorce, contraception – even abortion and a non-celibate gay clergy.
All this is deemed simply necessary now: The post-60’s Zeitgeist dictates that the wisdom of the Centuries of Tradition is passé at best. At worst, it is considered unjust, repressive, psychologically damaging and things still more heinous.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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