|By Bud Malby| February 6, 2013| CCMT|

Isn’t it about time we came to terms with what’s happening in the Church, and how seriously out of step most of us Vatican II advocates are? We continue to push for change, while the Church is passing us by. And I’m not speaking just of the hierarchy, but also of the rapidly growing numbers of loyal pew-sitters.

Several days ago I found two books at my back door. Their subject was the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. They were left there by a local parishioner. I had mentioned to her recently how Vatican II had tried to alter the prevailing wisdom about Purgatory. That included me saying that it should still be done. Obviously, my acquaintance was shocked and thought I needed to be reeducated in the truth. The books both have an imprimatur and a recent copyright date, but harked back to the Baltimore Catechism that had been used to brainwash me as a young boy. I learned from a more recent visit that the spreader of this propaganda is a strong believer in the new evangelism being promoted by PB-16. So, I guess you could say I’ve gotten my first taste of the future.

I agree being out of step about Purgatory is trivial and doesn’t worry me. But it is only the tip a gigantic iceberg. How much do you know about San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone? If you want to put a person on your most worrisome list, he’s your guy. If the Vatican had a pageant to name their number one poster boy for the new – old – Catholic thought, he’d win hands down. You can read the story about him here.  For our purposes, I want to extract just a few short quotes, beginning with:

“[Recently] I learned to sing the Mass in Latin …With that form of Mass you can feel the Church breathing through the centuries.”

Okay, I can accept that is Archbishop Cordileone’s bag, even if it gives me a choking sensation, and gasping for breath. The next, however, is what I mean by being out of step.

“The Latin Mass corresponds more to a masculine spirituality. The masculine psyche is one that protects, defends and provides, and during the Mass the priest is the one who dares to approach God to reconcile His people to him. In the Old Rite there is a greater sense of the priest as intercessor, offering a sacrifice for the people and bringing God’s gift to the people.”

You may disagree, but for me those short sentences are a repudiation of Vatican II. Granted, he’s only speaking about the Latin Mass. Well, it’s one thing to have a Mass in Latin, which some people cherish and identify with, but reviving the idea that it takes an ordained alpha male to mediate between God and the people is totally foreign to the Vatican II liturgy. It’s like trying to say an electric car uses the same kind of diesel fuel as a Mack truck. Step aside from this incongruity and read what Cordileone says about women.

“While women may not become priests, they do not in any way occupy second place. A woman should walk out, ahead of the man, because she is the life-giver…and, mantillas, or chapel veils, are a way for a woman to veil their sacredness: In Christian worship what is sacred is veiled, women are sacred because they are the life-givers.”

I’m sorry, but to wrap something in a pious sounding package comes across as insincere goggelygoop to me. There is more involved in giving life, such as a woman’s freedom in choosing to bear a child. That is not possible in a patriarchal church with draconian prohibitions against prudent and effective birth control. Frankly, the miraculous fertilization process makes both a man and a woman a life giver, but I doubt that’s a concept easily understood by celibate males. I’ll leave his reintroduction of veils to you women. Your opinion is the one that counts on such a subject, and I’d love to hear those views.

In this last elaboration of Cordileone’s version of the “truth,” he misstates another lynchpin of Vatican II thought.

“In the years after the Council…the thinking was that the Church should be more like modern culture. Prayerfully minded young people of this generation want something different or opposed to secular culture. They want something seriously Catholic and meaty.” (Emphasis mine)

I grew up with all of that “Catholic and meaty” stuff, and personally wouldn’t wish it on today’s youth. I can see why it would attract them, being right and certain was important to me at that age too. I was taught to shun the world, especially if it contained the word Protestant. Vatican II never said we should be LIKE the modern culture, but a part of it, which is an important distinction that illustrates the genius of the Spirit behind the Council.

The bottom line is, Cordileone is only one, but a powerful one, of the horde dictating the direction of the Church. While we believe we’re marching forward, it takes a backward glance from us to glimpse the sea of red hats and miters going the opposite direction. We’re like two ships passing in the night. Worse, as I pointed out, intermingled with that tide are the exploding numbers of the loyal laity marching in step with men like Cordileone.

Would you like to read about another rising star on Benedict’s slow-moving-train-to-yesteryear? Alexander Sample is a Montana boy, and the new Archbishop of Portland. Sample is a protégé of Cardinal Raymond Brown, which doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy toward him, even if he is from Kalispell. You can read about Sample at this link.

I see no good way out of this morass, but that doesn’t mean I’m defeated or resigned that being out of step is necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a quote from our own CCMT, which is profound and gives me some direction.

I think we are sheltering and nurturing the DNA of the church to come. I firmly believe that within my lifetime there will be a major collapse of the institutional Catholic Church, at least within the Roman rite.  I think the many groups like ours…will be the seedbeds from which a new church will arise. I hope to live long enough to see what kind of plant blooms from these seedbeds of faith.  (Reyanna Rice, 1-15-2012)

The only area I might differ with Reyanna is the chronology. We may hope it will happen in our lifetime, but it may well take centuries to play out, which makes the thought of imprinting our DNA more imperative. I read recently that to write down the instructions from a single strand of DNA from one gene of a single cell in the human body would take ten books of a thousand pages each. Our task may not be that formidable. For the short haul all we have to do is become more passionate and fearless in what we’re doing.

That doesn’t, however, let us off the hook for the long haul, and the pessimist in me keeps warning that’s what we’re facing. That would make our task more daunting. Call it a mission, but somehow we have to devise a way that will insure a future Pope, another Yves Conger or Hans Kung will stumble across a morphogenic field or record of our DNA. At the moment I don’t have a plan that will accomplish this.

Any ideas?


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  1. Rosemary says:

    The only thing we can do I think is keep doing what we are doing and hope that (as I wrote about a few weeks ago) we come together as a larger body at some point and there are enough of us to have some clout. Considering the shortage of priests, the numbers who are no longer in the pews, the rest of us that find these backward movements incredulous and mysogynist – I’m not ready to give up hope for an intervention of the Spirit that may help us stumble across that morphogenic field and bring about a new awakening within the church. We just need to keep on keepin’ on!

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