Monday, February 18, 2013

"The Great Explosion"?

I am pretty certain that Pope Benedict has chosen to resign/retire/abdicate because he has done the work he feels he is capable of doing and now feels someone else can do what needs to be done with more better by someone else.
I am much taken by the story that an artist, a little annoyed that he seemed a little less than keen about sitting for a portrait, said, "A picture is worth a thousand words". Pope Benedict replied, "Ah yes, but a concept is worth a thousand pictures".
I think he has left us we several "concepts", briefly:
  • the idea that there is a correct and incorrect interpretation of Vatican II, 
  • he has gone along way to reconciling the Church's present to its past, Summorum Pontificum is an important part of this
  • he has gone along to dismantling the political notions of left and right, liberal and conservative (the media hasn't caught on to this yet) and restoring the notion of Catholic orthodoxy. 
  • he has re-presented the idea that Pope is the Bishop of Rome - certainly first amongst equals - (I'll explore this at a later stage but I think this important).
  • that "Unity" in terms of ecumenism is about looking to those who share (substantially) the catholic faith - hence Ordinariates and looking towards the Orthodox
I am sure this list could be extended, this is my myopic view.

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor gave an off the cuff interview last week in which he said, “This [the next Pontificate] is going to be another conservative Pope – perhaps the last before a great explosion in the Church.” A lot of the interview was off the cuff and therefore not thought through, even the term "conservative" presents the Cardinal as someone who hadn't managed to get with the Benedictine "programme", indeed CMOC saw himself as being one of the "kingmakers" at the last Conclave but today most of those he gathered around him in those pre-Conclave soirees, presumably in support of the "Martini faction" are either dead like Martini himself or past voting age like Cormac himself or in disgrace like Cardinals Mahony and Daneels. If anything Pope Benedict's going at a time of his choosing means he has decided on the timing of the Conclave.

It is worth considering the "great explosion" of which Cormac spoke. For people of his stance the presumption is that the pressures in and on the Church are going to become uncontainable. Pope Benedict would simply suggest we turn to "the roots", to Christ, (is this why for his going he called for the "Year of Faith"?) this can be compared to the destructive influence of the "non-Conservatives" who would suggest we need clever schemes to deal with problems, or even change the faith which has been passed on to us.

Movements like We are the Church and the Austrian Priest Initiative the Irish Association of Catholic Priests are not going to gather strength, they are simply going to grow even older and die out. Younger people are simply not interested in that kind of churchiness, nor the hippy obsession with "changing the system".

The Conclave of 2005 was full of Cardinals like Cormac who were excited by vision of VII, many like Cormac were young priests or seminarians when in it was in progress, the Cardinals who will now occupy the electors seats are those who had to deal with the excesses and  problems it raised, the false optimism and  false pessimism, as the Pope said in his address to the Seminarians of Rome -remember the Pope's addresses are as much to the Curia as to those he actually addresses,
Of course, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism tells us that the epoch of Christianity is over. No: it is beginning again! The false optimism was the post-Council optimism, when convents closed, seminaries closed and they said “but... nothing, everything is fine!”.... No! Everything is not fine. There are also serious, dangerous omissions and we have to recognize with healthy realism that in this way things are not all right, it is not all right when errors are made.
Opinionated Catholic has just published some extracts from some 1969 radio talks by the then Professor Ratzinger on the the "great explosion", or less dramatically the time of a new beginning for the Church, when we are stripped of everything but Christ.

As fond as I am of the Bishop who ordained me, I just wish those of Cormacs generation had been more concened by "turning to the Lord" and "seeking the face of Christ", two of the Pope's favourite phrases, rather than cunning schemes that in retrospect seemed like deck chair moving.


joe feser said...

Sloppy reporting from the Telegraph. That was a quote from Diarmaid MacCulloch, not the Cardinal.

Anonymous said...

I attended Traditional mass on Saturday ,then on Sunday I paid a visit to an Anglican church-which says it is Traditional Anglican.
The congregation was about 42 in number,and i at nearly 58 was one of the youngest-the other two probably about 15 or 16.This is the future of Anglicanism-I had a sense of a dying Church both parish wise and denominationally as it tries to be "progressive" .The model for all those "martini" adherents.
I reflected that i see more young people at Mass of both Forms ,than i do at the handful of Anglo-Catholic services I have been to since crossing to the Tiber.

Jacobi said...


What you say about “concepts” is relevant. There is a theory that the Church in the post-Vatican 11 period was afflicted by what was effectively a Modernist Reformation.
If so, then he started the counter-reformation with his December 05 speech and the concept of “renewal in Continuity” the basic idea that Vatican 11 was pastoral and not doctrinal,

“The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council”

But he also pointed out false concepts such as fabricated and constructed liturgy to suit passing ideas,

“I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy”

And Secularisation seeping into the Church,

"of insidious secularization, even inside the Church" which "could translate into a formal but empty Eucharistic worship”

What he did was to get the Church out of a flat spin, and set it back on course and on an even keel. It is up to someone else now to take over the Barque of Peter.

p.s. sorry about the mixed metaphors.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Cormac has lost touch with reality and is totally institutionalised. Hanging out with gangsters like Blair has taught him nothing. The USA is now the most indebted nation in the history of the World and the UK is not far behind. Asia is the future of the World economy. There will be explosions in society but not the way he thinks.

George said...

You've led me to see the folly in the Left/Right false dichotomy.

I think the term orthodox is right on.

I also personally find myself using the term "serious".... I see too many clerics (of course, and laity too) who simply are not serious men. I don't mean that they don't laugh or can't carry a casual conversation. I mean they don't seem to take themselves and the world around them with any sense of profundity or eschatological meaning. They can inspire nothing more than turning the Church into a more giant version of the Rotary Club. Indeed, they seem to be afraid of other Catholics who have a sense of seriousness about the faith. They talk using sappy sentimental and grandiose language. Cardinal Wuerl from Washington DC was recently interviewed regarding the abdication of B16. The Cardinal referenced the "New Pentecost" several times in a very short interview... reminding the listeners over and over again that we were in an age of New Pentecost. What does that mean? How could that possibly be? But the language is so obviously focused on public relations (propaganda) rather than truth.

I hope and pray for a serious man to be elected pope.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

"Pope Benedict's going at a time of his choosing means he has decided on the timing of the Conclave" - Be ye therefore wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Jacobi commented on 'the collapse of the liturgy' - yes - the liturgy was taken up by a generation of innovators so utterly scrooge-like that when it comes to the means by which God Almighty has chosen to pour out His graces on a lost and hungry humanity they look like concentration kamp kapos before the spiritually starving and worldly beaten. Sadie said, 'Cormac has lost touch with reality and is totally institutionalised', exactly - the banally evil nazis were 'totally institutionalised' as well. as caretakers of the spiritual, how many bishops have become immune to the profane taking up residence in their hard-to-find sanctuaries? George said: 'They can inspire nothing more than turning the Church into a more giant version of the Rotary Club' - that's what my local parish is - the sunday social justice club. We're not actually literal sheep, bishops, its a metaphor - we're human beings in need of the True Shepherd who inspires our empty spiritual lungs, which is what's collapsing. One of my favourite latin words: respiraméntum -i: n.; relief, breathing space. Christ used breath/wind as a metaphor for the 'Spirit'; why can't clergy understand that ragged sheep bother showing up to Mass, not out of a negetive fear of some disapproval if they don't (and of those who do, if the Mass was inspiring and the Real Presence discernable, perhaps that would change), but because the world is suffocating. The Mass should give us 'breathing (spirit) space'.

"pressures in and on the Church are going to become uncontainable" - a student of history might suggest that an a-historical generation of innovators determined that the church should be the world and world should be the church are those for whom the 'uncontainable pressures' of trying to serve two masters will cause a melt down, sponaneously combustian, or simply the necessity for 80% proofness in the last days. All the 'supermen' of reform and their charity towards everything except the bequest of Christ, is waning into, probably, a very dark dark moon indeed; but the moon always renews itself because God has ordained that it should. Role on the new moon of the unadulterated Church which has and respects Its Memory.

P.S. 'the suppression of the tradition Roman Liturgy..."a crime for which history will never forgive the Church" (Silvio Cardinal Oddi)

Amfortas said...

Yes, the explosion quote was from MacCulloch. The answer to the contraception question was more along the lines of 'concentrate on on the positive...marriage'. I've no particular brief for Cormac but you've not represented what he actually said very well.

Anagnostis said...

"Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything" - St Gregory of Nyssa.

I'd be very surprised if the quote attributed to Benedict is authentic; it seems very "un-Benedictine" in sentiment to me. Western Christianity is being crushed to death under the weight of its own conceptualising. Benedict's restoration of the "lex orandi", however partial and hesitant, was precisely in order to counter the tendency. It was his most important and significant contribution.

In any case, I suspect the abdication is, in part at least, a consequence of having witnessed at close quarters the last few years of the last Pontificate. It establishes a precedent in modern times, without appearing in any way to criticise his beloved predecessor. His successors, and the church at large, will have a lot to thank him for.

It's a gift - offered in the humble spirit typical of the man. God bless him.

Supertradmum said...

I am very concerned for the Church in Great Britain when comments like this are made. There is already a silent schism, with the numbers of disobedient Catholics using contraceptions and supporting same sex marriage, etc.

The CMOC hegemony is, sadly, still young, as he appointed so many who are like him.

I am staying in Kent with a friend and the number of Catholics who feel the Church is to strict actually shocks me. Modernism has leaked into their hearts and they no longer think or act like Catholics.

We need a new generation of leadership both here and in the States.

Whether he said this of Diarmaid MacCulloch, the truth is the same.

Unless the silent schism is addressed, the Church will continue to be weakened from within.

As a lay person, I can say we have only ourselves to blame for not demanding more of our spiritual fathers

Thank you, Fr. Blake, for being a good spiritual father for us.

epsilon said...

How do you suggest we get through to the clergy? In a diocese with a supposedly prolife bishop the clergy in my city refuse to entertain any public expression of prolifeness in the form of 40dfl - in fact they pretend it's not happening, so the comatose laity are only too happy to pretend also. I'm trying not to judge, trying to still make a stand, trying to pray for their souls. May God forgive me for all my own sins, but isn't there such a thing as just anger?

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

' we have only ourselves to blame for not demanding more of our spiritual fathers'

does one need to interpret 'spiritual', and 'father', in the light of Christ? Or of those we might afford the trust of 'spiritual father', is Christ the Crux? or just a means of promulgating 'the buddha in me recognises the buddha in you'?

I've realised I'm too small to blame myself for bishops and priests who live on a planet where they see no sheep hear no sheep and speak no sheep; sheep grown tired of the road beneath their feet seeking a shepherd interested in lost sheep. I just figure Christ has shaken the stink off His sandals and moved on. or maybe I'm just a sheep who wouldn't know grace even if it said hello with the face of a catholic priest whilst lauding a bunch of anti-christ 'religions' and punching the the Liturgy card of Salvation as something tripped over on a tin of beans half-baked by a protestant puritan yesterday. Lord have mercy on anyone who has any awareness of Your work in history before 1968.

George said...

We should not lose our sense of patience with the Church. (Mark 4:38)

My pp brought up recently the fact that Christ is recorded as having only addressed one person directly by the term "friend". Although He used the term several times, only once did He direct the word "friend" as a form of address. And that was toward Judas. Should we expect Our Lord to treat anyone differently? If He extends His friendship to Judas even up until the very end, should He not do likewise with Cardinal (fill-in-the-blank).

Also, should we find ourselves in a Church without Judases it may be a mark that we're in the wrong Church..

Pétrus said...


The fact that you have to describe a Bishop as being pro-life saddens me greatly.

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...