The National Catholic Review

Robert Mickens, the Rome correspondent for the London Tablet has a lengthy article on the SSPX saga in this week’s Tablet here

He also sent us this much more personal reflection, which he has allowed us to post here:

Pope Benedict XVI said at his general audience on Wednesday that the four bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X (SSPX) -- the so-called Lefebvrists -- will now have to show their "true fidelity and true recognition of the magisterium and authority of the Pope and of Vatican Council II".

What does this mean?

In an interview the next day in the Italian paper "Corriere della Sera", Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, claimed that the head of the Lefebvrists had already recogised the Council and said confidently that he and his group would be eventually welcomed back into the Roman Church. Conservative blogs quoted sources that said 2 February would be the day, though it seems extremely unlikely if not impossible. There have to be some discussions or at least a semblance of them. But...

"Full communion will come," said the cardinal, who heads the commission that deals with the Lefebvrists. "In our conversations, Bishop Fellay has recognised Vatican Council II, he has recognised it theologically. Only a few difficulties remain," he said, "such as ecumenism and freedom of conscience..."

But do not think the Lefebvrists will be made to budge. The Vatican is intent on finding a formula that they sign without denying anything they hold.

A young professor at the Legionaries of Christ’s university in Rome, Fr Mauro Gagliardi, gave a clue of what to expect.

"The Fraternity of St Pius X can offer the Church an important contribution in applying the ’hermeneutic of continuity’ that must be applied to the documents of Vatican II," he said.

This apparent reference to Pope Bendict’s hermeneutic for interpreting the Council is imprecise -- as Fr Joseph Komonchak and others have clearly pointed out -- but it is not altogether mistaken. And Fr Gagliardi is not just any professor in Rome. He was recently named as consultant to the papal liturgical ceremonies office and mixes in the circles that are currently in favour in the Vatican. He said, "The ’Lefebvrists’ have a spirituality and charism that can be a richness for the life of the entire Church." This certainly is the view of Cardinal Castrillon and probably reflects, at least in some measure, the Pope’s thinking, too.

There is no question that Pope Benedict wants the SSPX back in the Church. Up to now he has done everything to accommodate them on their terms. He will do so on the interpretation of the Council, as well. The two CDF documents in 2007 (on the nature of the Church on 29 June and on evangelisation on 3 December ) have already begun paving the way for this. The Lefebvrists will argue, and the Pope will agree, that, in substance, we have the same doctrine after Vatican II as we had before. All "changes" were merely stylistic or operational, but not theogical -- i.e. none of the changes were essential, so none have to be adopted. The Vatican and the SSPX will also say, together, that much of the Council was badly misinterpreted by theologians and bishops in the post-conciliar period, and they will even cite the long list of theologians the CDF condemned to prove that Rome never caved in. Despite everything to the contrary (i.e. the fact that the SSPX does not really buy or live Vatican II), they will find a way together to finagle a formula that helps them profess "true fidelity and true recognition" of the Council (in light of the constant Tradition) but allows them to continue living as if Vatican II never existed. There are already a number of "Ecclesia Dei" communities in communion in Rome (off-shoots of the SSPX like the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter) that currently do this.

The formula that is produced will be just as disingenuous as the invented nonsense of "two forms of the one Roman Rite".

You are probably saying this scenario is an exaggeration and that this could never happen. Many have said it before. Not a few people called me strident, hysterical and worse back in 2005 when I started saying that the Pope was intent on issuing a universal indult for use of the Tridentine Mass. The motu proprio finally arrived in July 2007 and then most people tried to downplay it, saying it would have no practical effect in our parishes, etc.. Again I said they were. It has only been eighteen months (!) and the changes are beginning to take place, especially in seminaries.

All of this should be a cause of great alarm to those of us who still believe that something monumental happened at Vatican II, that there were developments, reforms and -- yes -- points of rupture with the past (despite the Pope’s unconvincing arguments to the contrary).

Joseph Ratzinger is completing, as pope, the work he began more than twenty-five years ago as prefect of the CDF. It is no less ambitious than the wholesale reinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council. And no one seems willing or able to stop him." -- Robert Mickens

James Martin, SJ

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Anonymous | 3/30/2009 - 5:41am
As with all previous 20 or so Councils, the Church will only achieve an objective view of Vatican II when everybody who lived through it is DEAD. When it can be seen as just another event in our long tradition and treated accordingly, the Church will be able to take from it what is useful and quietly ignore the rest. At the moment there are far too many vested interests both for and against with personal and emotional attachments to the events of the 1960's and their immediate aftermath. In the meantime please say a prayer for the 80% of Catholics who don't give a fig one way or the other and never darken the door of a church. They have been failed more than anybody else.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 5:41pm
James D said: ''In France, one third of the seminarians are SSPX.'' I don't think that's quite accurate. My understanding is that one third of all French seminarians are *traditionalist* - FSSPX, FSSP, ICK, IBP, the various monastic orders, etc., all added together. Which, come to think of it, is still a stunning figure. Traditionalist orders - with all the impediments and prejudices under which they have labored - now apparently draw half as many vocations as all French dioceses put together. I imagine this was one of the facts which factored into the Pope's desire to reconcile with the Society. And this is a problem with the more progressive implementations (as they might understand it) of the Council: it's been death on vocations. Someone above lamented the passing of Bernardin, Untener, and Lucker. Yet one of the most striking things about such prelates is the trickle of new vocations their terms produced - especially Untener. Some of the old religious orders, especially women's have essentially collapsed. Maybe not such a big deal if you buy into some of the more radical theologies which really deny a sacramental priesthood anyway in favor of lay congregationalism. But you'd have a harder time calling that ''Catholic,'' if the term has any meaning at all.
Anonymous | 2/18/2009 - 5:30pm
John M said: "Do they really think the average suburban Catholic parish of the 50's and early 60's had the resources to do a Mozart Mass or Gregorian chant?" Any parish has the resources to do basic Gregorian chant, so long as they have a decent instructor and a little practice. It is not rocket science.
Anonymous | 2/13/2009 - 5:34pm
Anonymous | 2/6/2009 - 10:04am
The dream is too great to belong to any one group, left, right or in the middle. It is the love of Christ. I understand that Mr Mickens is the Tablet's correspondent in Rome and he should know better.
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 9:53am
The 'Lefebvrists' always accepted Vatican II; Marcel Lefebvre himself signed all the documents. What they wanted was the 1962 liturgy, to be celebrated in every diocese along with the Novus Ordo. As Lefebvre often said, "let the faithful decide which of these two valid rites" they wish to attend. The Church never outlawed either rite, so why not allow both? The SSPX never denied Vatican II (they just wanted to practice the 1962 rite), so why attack them? I think it's all a big misunderstanding, which is to be expected considering the 40 years apart. It just needs to be clarified that the SSPX does in fact accept Vatican II, that it only wants the option of the 1962 rite, that we are all one Church together, side by side. When that happens, the Church will be bigger and stronger and who can complain at that?
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 12:23am
''Joseph Ratzinger is completing, as pope, the work he began more than twenty-five years ago as prefect of the CDF. It is no less ambitious than the wholesale reinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council. And no one seems willing or able to stop him'' God willing, the Holy Father will succeed! It's amazing to see Catholics for whom every matter of doctrine has been negotiable suddenly become extreme doctrinal rigorists. More that half of the parishioners in my very typical parish do not believe in the basic teachings of the faith: the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, transubstantiation, just to mention a few; but the SSPX-ers must remain excommunicated because they reject this or that item pronounced by the Second Vatican council. What hypocritical nonsense! Here's a proposal: let's come up with a comprehensive doctrinal check-list, one that includes everything taught by the church; and let's come up with a precentage that one has to score on the check list in order to remain in full communion with the Church. Now, let's apply it universally: all Catholic University profs, all bishops, priests, and, yes, even all Jesuits. I suspect that the SSPX would score quite well. America Mag and the Jesuits I'm not so sure about.
Anonymous | 2/4/2009 - 11:38am
I just wanted to comment on what Henk said about people attending Mass before the Vatican II so execrably praying the rosary or Stations. Vatican II called for full, conscious, and active participation by all Catholics in the liturgy. During the Eucharistic Prayer, and especially in the Consecration, as all informed (posting on NCR website) Catholics know, the mysteries of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are made anamnetically present, none more centrally than His passion and cross. In praying the rosary and stations, those folks were far more mentally focussed on the dynamic matter of the Mass than most folks at Novus Ordo Masses in the U.S. today. Most post-conciliar Catholics don't know the Mass from a hole in the ground. I would venture to say that 95% of all Sunday Novus Ordo attendees are either ''praying'' in the vaguest of senses (sure as shoot not ''full, conscious, and active'') or have their mind on something wholly other. The rosary and stations-praying wasn't perfect, but it was many times closer to the liturgical goal of Vatican II than most American Catholics, at least, are now.
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 7:19pm
I've never really understood the perspective of church liberals. The Catholic Church is a body of beliefs and practices based on faith. Which means, essentially, take it or leave it. If folks don't like where BXVI is taking the church, then join another one. If the Catholic Church changed in manner that I considered to be immoral and unjust, I'd go somewhere else.
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 1:16pm
Long live Pope Benedict XVI. All you liberals who are upset with the pope are a bunch of hypocrites. You always preach diversity and tolerance....until someone disagrees with you.He's got his religion and you have yours....right?Isn't that diversity? I had a fundamentalist protestant leave an anti-Catholic tract on my car one time.I didn't care,I just threw it out and went on with my day. Thomas Merton once said people get angry about their position when they don't really believe it deep down inside. Makes you wonder about all the people who like to get mad at the Church.F or the record I don't agree with Bishop Williamson's statements about the Holocaust but I do applaud the pope for trying to correct the stupidity that's been going on in the Church since Vatican II. Frank Cook
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 9:57am
Scott Richert has an excellent analysis of Robert Mickens' contemptuous and hateful attack on the Holy Father: Mickens' closing words in this piece, as Richert points out, carry an uncomfortable similarity to what Henry II said of St. Thomas a Becket.
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 9:46am
This is a good article. For a long time we have had to endure silly phrases like ''somehow attached to the Old Mass'', or ''attracted to the Latin Liturgy''. I also like the caricatures of Traditionalists as grey haired old people who the Church in its mercy allows to attend the TLM. Actually, those who attend the TLM are young families with 5, 7, or even 12 kids. If you want to see a Mass filled with old baby boomers, go the the Novus Ordo Mass. We are finally getting down to the issues. Traditionalists reject Modernism and we reject Vatican II as a failed Council. None of us contracept and we have large families. In France, one third of the seminarians are SSPX. Quickly the Traditionalists are growing and the Novus Ordo is dying. You can not provide the priests anymore to keep it going. So we as a church have to deal with this. If you want the Church to become more modern, and more liberal, it will never happen. I suggest going over to the Anglicans. For other Novus Ordo types, we can tolerate your Mass if you clamp down on the abuses. Within a few more years it will no longer exist anyway. And as for Traditionalists, we will continue to grow and draw the young into our movement. We are the future, the near future, and you can't stop it.
Anonymous | 2/3/2009 - 1:11am
Thank God for Pope Benedict! I pray that he continues to lead the Church along the path of a correct interpretation of the second vatican council. The many years of disregarding sacred tradition has greatly damaged the church, due to wild interpretations of what the second vatican council taught. I hope that SSPX returns quickly, because they will have a tremendous 'pull' toward tradition and continuity that the Church desperately needs now.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 5:16pm
I have always known and respected certain people’s desire to be more traditional in the way they live their faith. They see that as living according to, among others, the 'hermeneutic of continuity.' I believe that ALL Catholics honor that notion whenever they pick up the Bible or listen to the readings at Mass, or turn to the pages of St. Augustine, Saint Theresa of Avilla, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, or Saint Catherine of Siena, and so on, and so on. That is why I have no problem with people who, say, want to attend a Latin Mass, or want to kneel during the Eucharistic prayer, or receive Holy Communion on the tongue, etc. , because basically those people and I (who regards Vatican II as the Holy Spirit at work in the Church) believe BASICALLY in the same deposit of Faith and the Tradition. All of us BASICALLY wish to live a life honoring God through Jesus Christ by serving others. By the way, I am not aware of any catholics who think that the Church started at Vatican II; I’ve never heard that. ALL catholics believe in the rich Tradition of our Church (which includes Vatican II), even though some (many?) may express that in different ways. I don’t know if this makes any sense to some of the commentators above. But I must admit that some commentators really scare and disturb me. In several of the commentators, I don’t hear the voice of Christ. We have so much in common. We can be passionate about our different views but in the end we all belong to the same Church and believe in the same deposit of our Faith and our rich Tradition. And above all: let’s love one another, rather than shout at one another in anger or dismiss one another.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 2:56pm
The SSPX are not the problem. The problem are those inside the Church who created chaos and destruction over the past 40 plus years. The Pope knows where to get help to do the cleanup job. The Jesuits promised to go to the vinyard but did not go. The SSPX refused first but then changed their minds. Who do you think was truely obedient to the will of the Father?
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 1:35pm
''Disingenuous'', ''invented'', ''unconvincing'': these are words that the author broadly associates with the pope's attitude and actions toward the Second Vatican Council. I suggest that they are words of void of reason but couched in fear. I will limit my obervations to the liturgical life of the Church in saying this, but I find little salience to Father Martin's panicked observations. As a convert to Catholicism and as a (relatively) young husband and father, I have been delighted in the recent liturgical changes that have taken place even in our local parish - ''tricle down'' effects, if you will - of very recent reforms in the papal liturgies. These include use of some Latin and Gregorian chant along with an overall sense of ''sacrality'' and purpose in the Mass. These changes have helped to recapture a vertical emphasis (i.e. an emphasis not on ''celebrating community'' - whatever the heck that means - but on worshiping God in his majesty and mystery). THIS is the Catholicism in which I want to raise my children. The truth is, I wholly appreciate the measured and sensible efforts of the pope to understand the post-Vatican II reforms (especially the liturgical ones) in the vein of a ''hermeneutic of continuity''. To do anything less is completely irrational and is condescendingly dismissive of nearly 2,000 years of the Church's organic development. Any sensible person can read the actual documents of Vatican II and realize the extent to which many of those documents were mangled, I mean ''interpreted'', in the name of ''progress'' and in the ''spirit'' of the textual content as opposed to its letter. I am deeply grateful for the pope's attempts to return us to our liturgical moorings.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 11:43am
As a student and teacher of the gospels for nigh on twenty five years I do not see good news in the views of the SSPX nor in the liturgical type that they represent. The Jesus of the gospels who I have come to know, love and follow would, I believe, be radically out of place in the company of those who promote an ahistorical Christianity and an accompanying 'spirituality' that is hermetically sealed off from the concerns of the justice,peace and love that lies at the heart of God's kingdom
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 11:19am
It is ridiculous to charge the Tradition of Augustine and Thomas, Francis and Dominic, Teresa and Therese, Dante and Tolkien, Chesterton and Newman, Hitchcock and Flannery O'Connor as afraid, backward or lacking critical thought compared with the confusion of the last forty years. For those who claim that a new thing appeared, a fundamental change occured, well, let us see your saints. Ours, however, have sung in the face of death, bequeathed us an authentic humanism, lit up human history ... in short they have loved Jesus Christ and His Bride more than their ideas, more than their selves, more than their lives, more than their world. And for this they gained unchanging Truth, Goodness, Beauty and Love - Christ himself.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 11:09am
I love every second of this, the gnashing of liberal catholic teeth.. That sound you hear is a spike being driven through the heart of 'the Spirit of Vatican II' its over you lost.. Please run to nearest Protestant 'community'... and let us faithful Catholics clean up your mess...Vatican II is dead..Deo Gratias
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 9:04am
It's funny how there was a time in history the Jesuits were surpressed, their work sorely needed, and the pope was unjustly complicit. Now the popes stand by when the church needs their supression. They were founded in part to fight the Protestant heresy, now they are indistinguishable from them. This boards commenters sound equally Protestant. Long term we don't need pseudo-catholic birth-control using Catholics who are more interested in the environment and false ecumenism than fidelity to unchanging magesterium
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 7:38am
All I see here is a bunch of liberal and modernist rants from people who think the Catholic Church began with Vatican II. The ideas and concepts which were formed as a result of Vatican II are just another form of Protestantism repackaged and if you people think that everything prior to the 1960s in the Catholic Church was wrong, I suggest you look for a nice Protestant sect which would suit your liberal and modernist beliefs. Quit attacking the SSPX which stands with the Catholic Church and her solid 2,000 years of Tradition.
Anonymous | 2/2/2009 - 5:01am
The Second Vatican Council was COMPLETELY misinterpreted the first time round. Now we have a Holy Father who really 'gets it' There have been some truly horrific liturgies allowed since Vatican 2. These have to end. Now that we have two forms of the Latin Rite back again( not the the ER was ever away). Perhaps we can look forward to some fitting worship for God.
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 4:57pm
Henk Gal (#15) and Robin you have my sympathies and my concurrence. In my early 1950's childhood I did attend the old fortress Catholicism Mass. It's laughable when the ultramontane 'what's wrong with burnin' a few Jews and Prots' crowd think that the old Mass was oh so reverent and special. Do they really think the average suburban Catholic parish of the 50's and early 60's had the resources to do a Mozart Mass or Gregorian chant? As the kids of today's Facebook generation would say: PUH-LEEZE! Robin, while my choice to move to Anglicanism may not appeal to you (and I respect your view) at least I have the pleasure of not rubbing elbows with a motley collection of Francoists, monarchists, rabid anti-Semites and out from under a rock collection of fascists of all stripes.The comments of the SSPX supporters on this blog show where they want to take your church and it ain't pretty.
Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 2:09pm
Since Vatican II, vocations have declined, some religious orders have virtually disappeared, and entire countries have come close to losing the Faith. Is it any wonder that those who share the viewpoint of this author are losing the argument in Rome?
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 1:48pm
Re: the comment posted by Anne B.above (#9): The Latin Mass is really a work of inspired high art (if I may put it this way). So is Gregorian chant, admired by a composer like Mozart. But one of the problems is that 99.09% of the people don't understand Latin and so won't be able to appreciate its beauty. And Gregorian chant represents a style of music that many (a reasonable guess of mine) can't relate to, although there are those who seem to appreciate it as a novelty, something mystical, spiritual. But how, in fact, was that Latin Mass celebrated in reality in the 'good old days'? The priest, with his back to the people, mostly softly mumbling words in a strange language that nobody in the pews (maybe also the priest himself) didn't understand, while 'Mrs.Jones' was saying the Rosary, or 'doing' the Stations of the Cross,and 'Mr. Jones' standing in the back, playing cards with his buddies (yes, I've seen this many times). The priest did 'his thing 'in Latin, the people did theirs. I'm sure they all meant well. Moreover, those present believed that they avoided committing a mortal sin, since they were physically present. I could write a book about what the Latin Mass had become, and when someone suggests to go back to the Latin Mass, I cringe. I think that most young people who wish to go back to the Latin Mass, didn't really grow up with it, and don't really know its real history, what it had become. Maybe they are going to do things differently, but I've heard that story too many times before. Some of those reading this may accuse me of drawing a caricature of the Latin Mass; in fact, the Latin Mass HAD BECOME a caricature of what was intended, and I am just describing it in part. And post-Vatican II liturgy? I consider it a work in progress, not perfect. And that's fine with me.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 10:46am
In additional to the holocaust denial readers may be interested what the followers of Marcel Lefebvre known as The Society of St. Pius X have to say about the Inquisition the darkest period of our Catholic history: ''the Inquisition was an honest tribunal, which sought to convert heretics more than to punish them, which condemned relatively few people to the flames, and which only employed torture in exceptional cases.'' ''The Inquisition adopted an attitude toward heretics comparable to that of our Lord.'' ''the Inquisition was a humanitarian work'' ''the Inquisition was entrusted to the finest flowers of the clergy of the era.'' ''those condemned to death were not always executed. Their sentences were sometimes commuted to time in prison, and they were then burned in effigy. Moreover, the condemned were not necessarily burned alive. If they showed a certain repentance, they were suffocated before being thrown on the pyre. Remember also that it was only the relapsed, that is to say those who fell back into heresy after having abjured it, who were condemned to death.'' ''the fear of death often facilitated their conversion.'' ''Catholics have nothing to be ashamed of in the past work of this holy tribunal.'' For additional information readers may want to visit Is it not time now for our bishops to exercise their office of collegiality and stop this insanity?
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 11:06pm
I wonder if the thought of alleviating the priest shortage enters into the calculations. Better than (gasp) having women priests.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 9:37pm
Precisely Charlotte. People, including saints and popes, were mistaken about theology never evolving, mistaken about slavery, and mistaken about religious freedom-to name a few.It is insane to claim that Vatican II did not substantially change the church. Bob Rowden
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 9:15pm
Is Robert Mickens' argument that we need to enforce orthodoxy more strictly and mercilessly dismiss dissidents? I think that's what he means, but I wanted to be sure.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 9:02pm
Charlotte, excellent points. Aside from the specific concerns people have voiced about SSPX, a clear target of the anger-- often hysterical in my opinion-seems to be the Latin Mass itself. Indeed, anyone revealing any attraction to it has become a pariah on this blog, as illustrated nicely by Robin. I studied classical languages in college and claim a special fondness for Latin in the liturgy. I understand that others don't share this sympathy, but what I don't understand is the derision so many hold towards it and towards its adherents. If this liturgy is truly as awful as they claim, someone please explain how this liturgy sustained (and in some cases attracted!) Catholics as diverse as Therese of Liseux, Edith Stein, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 6:13pm
'What if the Vatican II parish priests out there started speaking/acting up against these reactionary policies? Why wouldn't their parishioners support them? And really, what's the worst that could happen? Their scarcity of numbers gives them leverage . . .' Wha...? Scarcity of numbers?? Are you living in the same Church I am? In my experience, since re-verting to the Faith in 1990, the ones having to operate under the radar are traditionalists. After all I can't attend an approved Traditional Latin Mass without driving a minimum of 25 miles -- and I live in a HUGE metropolitan area!
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 5:44pm
I see no theological argument here that discredits the pope or the SSPX. What is wrong with the hermeneutic of continuity? What is wrong with the Gregorian Rite? Or are we to say that the popes, councils, saints, and people of all our former generations were mistaken, or that they pronounced and followed teachings without really knowing what they were doing?
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 5:32pm
Regarding the mentioned CDF declarations, cf. Vaticanum II, declaratio "Dignitatis Humanae" (on religious freedom), #1: "First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men." Card. Ratzinger almost 25 years ago: "Does this mean that the Council itself should be revoked? Absolutely not. It only signifies that the real reception of the Council has not yet begun. What has devastated the Church in the last decade is not the Council, but a refusal to receive it." That's it. ;-)
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 4:36pm
No doubt a number of Catholics with "traditionalist" sympathies have sinful prejudices or sympathies, but Robin's description is extremely unfair. The tired stereotype that traditionalist Catholics are a bunch of gray-haired reactionaries who seemingly emerged from a Middle-Ages' time capsule untouched by the modern world is not only wrong, but extremely condescending. This is obviously anecdotal, but most of the traditionalist Catholics I know are young, products of non-Catholic education & a typical middle-class American upbringing, are members of the professional class, and live in large, cosmopolitan cities. In other words, they have--believe it or not--dealt with the "modern world" (what does that even mean?), "women" (this one made me laugh), "human sexuality," and, yes, even "other religions" (a disproportionate number of traditionalists are converts). Moreover, I'm a little puzzled why commentators think that Benedict XVI is intent on destroying the effects of a Council which he was a peritus for and has spent nearly his entire life defending. The debate, I take it, is how one interprets the Council documents. No doubt, that's no easy endeavor (despite the conclusory assertions coming from both sides of the debate), but surely we can dispense with the risible argument that Benedict XVI is somehow anti-Vatican II. Finally, I find it a little humorous that advocates for a more "progressive" interpretation of Vatican II, end up resorting to the language and attitudes supposedly abandoned by the Council. For example, conservative or traditionalist aren't just wrong or misguided, they're anti-modern, misogynistic, sexually-frustrated prudes, and anti-Semites. In other words, traditionalists are the dreaded "Others."
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 4:33pm
Posted By Steve Schewe, "If there are potential ''John XXIII bishops'' out there, they've been awfully quiet since the passing of churchmen like Bernardin, Untener, and Lucker." You might want to add to this list Cardinal Alfrink, Bishop Bekkers, Bishop Ernst and a few others (all from Holland; they ministered before the disastrous appointments of men like bishop Gijsen, Simonis et al). Add also Cardinal Koenig of Vienna and the current Cardinal Danneels of Belgium. I'm sure that there are more. Posted By John Stangle, "I believe the substance of Vatican II is not dependent upon eliminating those who yearn for the liturgy of their youth;..." There is plenty of evidence that those who wish to return to the "good old days", are often (mostly?) younger persons, i.e. too young to have experienced the old ways. So, what do these young people mean when they speak of "the liturgy of their youth"? I am old enough to remember the old ways, and I don't yearn one bit to go back to the liturgy of my youth. Posted By Robin, "it's about fear: of the modern world, ideas that are 'different,' women, human sexuality, other religions (esp. Judaism), having to do critical thinking to make moral choices, etc." Right on, Robin. Especially your statement, "having to do critical thinking to make moral choices, etc." In the "good old days" you didn't need to think, the Pope, your bishop and parish priest did the thinking for you. Easy. And the threat of mortal sin kept those in line who acted or thought differently.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 1:21pm
Ok, now I'm panicking. Mr. Mickens, and Mr. Schewe's comments, succinctly pull together opinions I've seen on the Internet and in print, and situations I've experienced. I recently attended a Latin Mass at a mid-town Manhattan church out of curiousity, and realized in the middle that the movement for this worship form isn't about the language, or the 'smells and bells' -- it's about fear: of the modern world, ideas that are 'different,' women, human sexuality, other religions (esp. Judaism), having to do critical thinking to make moral choices, etc. Nothing new here. (And it's not like an Orthodox service that's conducted in the congregations' vernacular and draws on a shared -- not imposed -- cultural and historical experience. That's why they're not little-c 'catholic.' And Russian lay people just helped elect Patriarch Kirill -- there's an idea.) Vatican II clearly was meant to effect -- and did effect -- change in the Church. Res ipsa loquitur. The only people believing the Pope's contrary spin are those predisposed to believe it. So what about the rest of us (who I think are the vast majority, including the many who have 'fallen away')? Seriously, what can we do besides parish-shop? (I'm not about to join the Episcopal church, Exh. A as to why, theoretically, you do need a pope to keep everyone on the same page, to be turned by all and at the same time). Maybe the answer lies in Mr. Schewe's observation about the 'lack of consecrated leadership.' What if the Vatican II parish priests out there started speaking/acting up against these reactionary policies? Why wouldn't their parishioners support them? And really, what's the worst that could happen? Their scarcity of numbers gives them leverage -- it's not like the hierarchy can afford to 'fire' them, and being moved around can't stop them from continuing to speak out and act (rather, they can spread their message, and perhaps inspire others to join their ranks). Well?
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 10:38am
The 'sort of panicked' comments by Mickens got me reflecting. Last week I saw on tv (Maybe watch 1/2 hour/week) a tiny part of an Orthodox service in Russia. The people seemed awed, the lighting subdued and mystical, the activity spiritual, and the atmosphere contemplative and holy. Now, contrast this to our parish where everyone is talking before and after the mass and during the monthly annointing of the sick people rush into the line who wish while others mill around talking loudly about their golf game or whatever. I ask myself, which do I prefer. I believe the substance of Vatican II is not dependent upon eliminating those who yearn for the liturgy of their youth; or for something that feels more transcendent; in this respect Pope Benedict XVI is right. Maybe Vatican II was more about attitudes and any overreaching in either (or many) directions calls for a sort of centering that indeed the Pope represents.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 10:27am
Thanks for posting the Mickens reflection and the link to his article. Regarding Mickens' final question, in a church where the Pope rules unfettered by collegiality or checks and balances, I suspect that no one can stop him. Vatican II articulated reforms in many areas of the Church, but they missed two key ones: the role of the clergy; and the seminaries that form them. So the leadership model which was adapted from the Roman army in the 4th century and the educational model from the 13th century persist. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and their curial colleagues have used these institutions in powerful ways to roll back Vatican II. In my opinion, there will be no reaction from the grass roots other than gnashing of teeth because Catholic grass roots movements are inherently limited by Catholic ecclesiology (e.g., Voice of the Faithful). A previous posting's droll reference to a ''Society of Saint John XXIII'' didn't draw the crucial distinction; SSPX was formed by a bishop with the ability to create a line of succession. If there are potential ''John XXIII bishops'' out there, they've been awfully quiet since the passing of churchmen like Bernardin, Untener, and Lucker. Faced with a lack of consecrated leadership, the only alternative for individuals who believe in the ideals of Vatican II is to seek them in places like the Episcopal Church, or in the remote islands of abbeys and parishes which still believe in the Vatican II reforms and quietly operate under the hierarchy's radar.
Anonymous | 1/31/2009 - 12:58pm
Bob, If you think the Church was mistaken for all but the last forty years and that Vatican II morphed the institution into something ''fundamentally'' different, then it would seem that the SSPX and the pope indeed aren't members of the institution that you claim Vatican II brought about. By your argument, we'd also want to exclude all the previous generations and the whole litany of saints from this fundamentally new thing we have now. I'd say rather that your ''fundamentally changed'' Church is an invention of your own wish that the Catholic Church be something other than what it truly is.
Anonymous | 6/27/2009 - 3:41am
The situation is far more encompassing than Mr. Mickens imagines. The reality is that those of Mr. Mickens stripe are the weeds that have been allowed to be exposed and grow since the Second Vatican Council. Enmeshed in the world, the results and the fruits of the endeavors of those of this nature are on full display for all to see. Certainly, for the Church to pass into the Heavenly Kingdom, the weeds must be cleansed out, typically by the weeds' own actions that do nothing but destroy, level, and disintegrate. The simple fact of the matter is that we are in a time of harvest - on truly a global scale. The weeds'  home is the world of fallen man and they've attempted to 'take over' the Church and make the 'world' the Church's home. Not surprisingly, all that has been overgrown with weeds is in a rapid state of disintegration. Though the weeds are on a mission to 'unite' the fallen world, their unification is for their own removal - the 'final act' of a long cycle in the life of fallen man on this planet.