Saturday, November 27, 2010

Abuse: the problem is Ecclesiological

The Pope attributes the present state of Catholic Liturgy to a disregard for the Liturgy as "a given" and the same could be said for the state of confusion in catechesis.
The Pope has been urging bishops and priests to return to "doing the red and saying the black" - basically following the rules. It is interesting that in Peter Seewald's book the Pope when speaking of the sexual abuse in Ireland he cites the change in ecclesiology being at the root of the problem.
Pope Benedict says: “The Archbishop of Dublin told me something very interesting about that. He said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly, it was not perfect – there is much to criticise about it – but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-sixties, however, it was simply not applied any more.

“The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather a Church of love: she must not punish . . . This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.”
Asked by Seewald about the overall impact of the Irish sex abuse crisis, Pope Benedict says: “In Ireland the problem is altogether specific – there is a self-enclosed Catholic society, so to speak, which remained true to its faith despite centuries of oppression, but in which, then, evidently certain attitudes were also able to develop. I cannot analyze that in detail now.
“To see a country that gave the world so many missionaries, so many saints, which in the history of the missions also stands at the origin of our faith in Germany, now in a situation like this is tremendously upsetting and depressing. Above all, of course, for the Catholics in Ireland itself, where now as always there are many good priests.”


EuropeanCatholic said...

That photo is quite frightening!

Viva Il Papa

Anagnostis said...

The photo's brilliant! It's like something from The Fast Show. Check that deacon!

Pottery ale mug - nice!

Jacobi said...

The Neo-Modernist assault on the Church post Vatican 11 has produced an ecclesial crisis, affecting cathechesis amonst other things, but the main assault weapon was the attack on the liturgy.
Bendict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger made this clear in his 1997 speech, echoing PaulV1's comments in 1970 that "We are facing a terrible danger in the Church that the Church's practice, the Sacraments, even Baptism will be emptied of content"

This process must be reversed. A Mass I attended last Sunday in Brussels was liturgically chaotic but hardly worse than the normal congregation-centred all-inclusive social gathering in my own parish, with the Canon of the Mass lost in the "participation".

To halt this continuing emptying of content, the liturgy has to be re-Catholised. The Ordinary Form of the Mass must be returned to what the Council intended and the Extraordinary Form must be promoted widely as a means of influencing this restoration.

Left-footer said...

Where was that sad picture taken, please?

JARay said...

Why do I think that this photo was taken in Germany?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think it is Linz.

Pablo the Mexican said...

There is no problem with the Mass in the SSPX.


None whatsoever.

The catechism is Catholic, all the Sacraments sound.


Fr Ray Blake said...

"No problem"?

Except at the moment the SSPX's bishops and priests are suspended and they have no jurisdiction to marry or hear confessions validly.

There is also a growing number of priests and laity who have never experienced being part of the Church under the Pope and there are a growing number sede vacantists.

Anagnostis said...

"No problem with the SSPX"? You're 'avin' a larf, as the say around here.

The SSPX are not remotely interested the liturgy, and haven't been for a generation, now. They promote precisely that arid, reductionist Low Mass mentality together with the arid reductionist theology that engendered it, which, if they weren't lodged obsessively in their neurotic, fixation with Jews, Freemasons and modernists, they would be able to identify as a large part of the problem in the first place.

In addition, as Father points out, they're increasingly in thrall to the cult of Williamson - a fantastic, gnostic, geopolitical ideology tricked out in "Catholic" externals.

Go to an SSPX forum. Read the conversations that predominate. Note the rancour, the backbiting, the bullying, the rash judgment, the paranoia, the "plausibly deniable" flirtation with totalitarian and anti-semitic fantasy, the arrogant despair, the contempt for everyone and everything, including one another, including their own leadership, the relentless "groupthink".

"No problem"? Somthing of a challenge to persuade oneself of that, I fear...

Anacharsis said...

Is that a leprechaun deacon in that photo?

Pablo the Mexican said...

Prayer for Our Holy Father the Pope as said by the SSPX:

O God, I pray for the intentions of the Pope. I ask You to grant him the ability to write well and to speak well so that he might lead Your people well. Grant him the gifts of faith, hope, love, charity, chastity, kindness, wisdom, patience, generosity, courage but most of all that he may be lead away from all heresy so that he might unite Your church and be with You one day in Heaven. Amen

"...There is also a growing number of priests and laity who have never experienced being part of the Church under the Pope and there are a growing number sede vacantists..."

I agree, and they are called Liberals, or Novus Ordo Catholics.

My statement was there is no problem with the Mass in the SSPX.

I know there are crazies in that movement.

However, there are many holy people in the SSPX.


Independent said...

The clerics in the photograph are not even consistent. With their theology why do they elevate the Host?

As for the SSPX ,surely Williamson is busy with his research in German History, looking at the Memoirs of the Commandant of Auschwitz, interviewing surviving camp guards and survivors of the camps, perusing the meticulous documentation of the SS,and taking advice from those who unlike himself have historical training. He must be hard pressed to have time to consider liturgy.

Peter said...

Further to Independent's comments it seems that there is a rift within the SSPX. Their website ( has this communiqué dated 20 November 2010:
Le Supérieur général, Mgr Bernard Fellay, a appris par la presse la décision de Mgr Richard Williamson de révoquer, dix jours avant son procès, l’avocat chargé de ses intérêts pour se laisser défendre par un avocat ouvertement lié à la mouvance dite néo-nazie en Allemagne et à certains de ses groupes.
Mgr Fellay a intimé l’ordre formel à Mgr Williamson de revenir sur cette décision et de ne pas se laisser instrumentaliser par des thèses politiques totalement étrangères à sa mission d’évêque catholique au service de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X.
La désobéissance à cet ordre ferait encourir à Mgr Williamson l’exclusion de la Fraternité Sacerdotale Saint-Pie X.
Menzingen, le 20 novembre 2010
Abbé Christian Thouvenot, secrétaire général

All of which distracts from the wise words of Fr Ray.
in his letter to bishops of 24 February 1980 on the Holy Eucharist Pope John-Paul II describes (chapter 2) the sacred character of the Mass and the danger of doing away with 'the distinction between the "sacred" and "profane" '.

parepidemos said...

St Michael.

What you actually wrote regarding the SSPX was "all the sacraments sound." In truth,the clergy of the SSPX celebrate invalid marriages and give invalid absolution when hearing confessions. As Fr Blake mentioned,they are suspended and do not have jurisdiction; thus, contrary to what you wrote, not all the SSPX sacraments are "sound".

From your blog, I presume that you are a strong supporter of SSPX and most likely attend Masses celebrated by their priests. I have no doubt the SSPX has many good and holy members (although Anagnostis is accurate regarding the backbiting and rancour on the SSPX forums) Nevertheless, the SSPX is not in full communion with the Holy See and dissention is dissention no matter its origin; thus, the SSPX causes scandal as bad as any so-called 'liberal'.

You mention that the SSPX prays for the pope; whilst this is laudable, it does not mean that they are truly Catholic or in communion with the Holy See, for they are neither.

Finally, I am puzzled by your statement that those who are sede vacantists are "Liberals or Novus Ordo Catholics." Sede vacantists would never celebrate what you derisively call the "Novus ordo". Interestingly enough, Benedict XVI does celebrate the "Novus Ordo" on a regular basis, so I wonder where you think that places him: liberal or sede vacantist?

Anagnostis said...

It's perfectly true that there are good and holy people in the ambit of the SSPX. There are good and holy people in the Novus Ordo, in the CofE, in the Free Presbyterians. My concern is what happens to good and holy people when they're inducted into a sectarian "hermeneutic of suspicion" and persuaded to regard themselves as the Faithful Remnant, standard-bearers of a fullness they don't, in fact, possess. I've seen so many people drawn to the SSPX for perfectly sound reasons which are subsequently forgotten amidst the straining at gnats and swallowing of camels. Before long they're locked into the "narrative", spouting anti-semitic paranoia, Young Earth Creationism, "The Consecration of Russia" as though naughty ideological posturing, scandalous fundamentalist nonsense and gnostical magic was what they'd meant all along - the only genuine reproach to "Modernism" (by now a catch-all term for anything considered inimical to the Party Line).

I used to think of the SSPX as a seed, which survives the winter - the frosts, the floods, the passage through the guts of beasts - by being small, hard and unattractive. Today it seems pretty clear that the larger part of the kernel has simply rotted in the ground. As with all sects, the leadership is almost pathologically averse to self-criticism, while the laity in general lack the sophistication to understand the dynamic at work in their scorn for the "sell-out" Fellay and concommitant apotheosis of the "persecuted" Williamson.

It doesn't look good.

Richard said...

Independent said...
"The clerics in the photograph are not even consistent. With their theology why do they elevate the Host?"

One of the problems is that it's difficult to know either what their theology is or what they are actually intending to do - therefore it's difficult to say that they are inconsistent!

They might believe in the Real Presence, and even the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which case elevating the chalice (I think that'a supposed to be a chalice) would be entirely consistent and proper. Their use of pottery and home-made vestments might (just might!) be their confused idea of how best to honour God, just as many modern art fans think that a few rough daubs are actually better art than the great masterpieces of the past.

Alternatively they might be consistent in the other way - they might not believe in the Real Presence or the Sacrifice of the Mass, and merely be raising the chalice to make it a focal point of the community celebratory meal (or some such rubbish).

Either would be consitent!

Or, as you say, they might be thoroughly confused and inconsistent.

Trouble is, once priests depart from proper liturgical practices, it is very difficult to know what the priest thinks he is doing.

In the past we could just assume that the priest believes, and is trying to do, what the Church believes. But even that can be difficult now.

santoeusebio said...

Not quite on topic but something positive. The Pope asked every diocese and parish to think about having a Vigil for Nascent Life this last weekend. In the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton the only response was at St John the Evangelist Horsham on Saturday afternoon. We thought it was marvellous - Exposition & Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers and Benediction. A blessed occasion. About thirty people turned up and Life had a stall. The Bishop was billed to come as he had another meeting in Horsham earlier that afternoon but he did not appear. On the other hand I thought his pastoral letter on Sunday recommending grace before meals and the return of fish on Friday was excellent.

Nicolas Bellord

Anonymous said...

Their use of pottery and home-made vestments might (just might!) be their confused idea of how best to honour God

In my experience the excuse has been that pottery is more relflective of what was used at the Last Supper. It's a subtle stab at the refinement of liturgy. The problem is is that these "get back to the original" overtures are all too familiar. Namely, just about every heresy ever to rear its head. While I doubt that is the conscious intent of those in the picture, they are unwitting tools of this simplifying movement.

shane said...

The Murphy Report made note of the slackening standards in the 60s:

“There is a two thousand year history of Biblical, Papal and Holy See statements showing awareness of clerical child sex abuse. Over the centuries, strong denunciation of clerical child sexual abuse came from Popes, Church councils and other Church sources. A list covering the period 153 AD to 2001 is included in an article by the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These denunciations are particularly strong on „offences against nature? and offences committed with or against juveniles. The 1917 code of canon law decreed deprivation of office and/or benefice, or expulsion from the clerical state for such offences. In the 20th century two separate documents on dealing with child sexual abuse were promulgated by Vatican authorities (see Chapter 4) but little observed in Dublin.

[...]The Commission is satisfied that Church law demanded serious penalties for clerics who abused children. In Dublin from the 1970s onwards this was ignored; the highest priority was the protection of the reputation of the institution and the reputation of priests. The moving around of offending clerics with little or no disclosure of their past is illustrative of this.”


“As is shown in Chapter 4, canon law appears to have fallen into disuse and disrespect during the mid 20th century. In particular, there was little or no experience of operating the penal (that is, the criminal) provisions of that law. The collapse of respect for the canon law in Archdiocesan circles is covered in some detail in Chapter 4.”

Ma Tucker said...

Thank you Shane for those extracts. It is however very irritating to read the vagueness here.

"[...]The Commission is satisfied that Church law demanded serious penalties for clerics who abused children. "


“As is shown in Chapter 4, canon law appears to have fallen into disuse and disrespect during the mid 20th century."

The use of "appears to have fallen" is very vague. The simple fact is the Chuch's laws were there and the Bishops refused to implement them. They were negligent in their duties to govern the Church.

shane said...

This may be of interest:

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...