25 January 2008

Through the Lens of Catholic Tradition-- the Accomplishments of Pope Benedict XVI

The purpose of this post is not to engage in the internecine arguments among various sub-groups of Catholics that The Remnant is trying to address in its full article from which this excerpt is taken. Rather, I wanted to post part of that article, which lists the many real accomplishments of the current pontificate, made all the more remarkable considering the opposition from world opinion leaders and the relatively short time in which they were achieved.

To those who love the Church, rejoice! Pray for the Pope, who has brought about the following good things (as described in the article above):

· the Motu Proprio, a fulcrum on which world history will undoubtedly turn;

· the Pope’s directive to correct the mistranslation of “pro multis” as “for all” in the Novus Ordo consecration formula, and the mistranslation of “Credo” as “we believe” in the Creed;

· the removal of Piero Marini as master of ceremonies at the Vatican and the abolition of his ludicrous and appalling “papal liturgies;”

· the repeal of John Paul II’s liberalization of the rules for the papal conclave, returning to the traditional requirement of a 2/3 vote;

· the coming issuance of new and stricter rules for beatification and canonization, accompanied by the near shut-down of the “saint-making factory” that operated during the prior pontificate (a stupefying 483 saints in 27 years, as compared with 14 canonizations overseen by Benedict since his election nearly three years ago);

· the Pope’s express recognition of the Institute of the Good Shepherd's right—the right of all Catholics—to engage in “constructive criticism” of Vatican II, thereby implicitly confirming that the Council documents have deficiencies warranting criticism (deficiencies the Pope himself critiqued as Cardinal and Father Ratzinger);

· the papal admonition to the new head of the Jesuits that “total adhesion to Catholic doctrine” is expected of the order;

· the Pope’s wearing of the miter of Blessed Pius IX and his return to the usage of a papal throne, instead of the upholstered chair favored by his predecessor;

· the Pope’s celebration of Mass versus Deum in the Sistine Chapel;

· the consistent references to Benedict as “Supreme Pontiff;”

· the Pope’s abstention from the “ecumenical liturgies” and other ecumenical and interreligious spectacles of which the last Pope was so fond;

· the absence of any “cult” of Benedict, who shuns the limelight, yet is attracting more Catholics to his audiences than John Paul II did;

· the dramatic reduction in papal travel to mass events of dubious accomplishments;

· the abandonment of all references to Vatican II as a “renewal,” “springtime,” “New Pentecost” and so forth;

· the urgent petition of Anglican clergy representing 400,000 Anglicans for a return to communion with Rome, submitted directly to Benedict rather than the worse-than-useless Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, because the Anglicans know that Benedict is favorable to the reunion and hope to avoid a roadblock by the Vatican bureaucracy;

· a major thaw in relations with the Orthodox that is clearly the result of the Motu Proprio;

· the Vatican’s call for an international revival of Eucharistic adoration to combat the now-admitted crisis in the priesthood, with the project, launched December 8, to highlight the Virgin Mary’s special role as the mother of every priest.

And, almost as important as the Motu Proprio, an entire encyclical on the supernatural virtue of hope, Spe et Salvi, that says nothing, absolutely nothing, about Vatican II and even passes over in silence the Council’s very document on hope, Gaudium et Spes. Indeed, with its dismissal of the cult of human “progress” through the apotheosis of “reason” as seen in the thought of Bacon and the other apostles of the Enlightenment, Spe et Salvi is practically a refutation of the “optimism” of Gaudium concerning the “modern world.” Without allotting so much as a footnote to Gaudium, the Pope instead cites Theodor Adorno for the proposition that the progress in which modern man places so much faith is essentially “progress from the sling to the atom bomb.” And, by the way, the only ecumenical council the Pope does cite in Spe et Salvi is the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215, convened by Pope Innocent III to affirm the dogmas of transubstantiation, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, and the papal primacy and to restore the discipline of the priesthood.

In Spe et Salvi His Holiness calls for nothing less than “a self-critique of modernity” and “a self-critique of modern Christianity,” which has lost sight of the true “substance” of hope in the Thomistic—yes, the Thomistic—sense of the word. The Pope also calls for the reunification of Christian faith and reason, the severance of which was the basic Enlightenment project. And the Pope concludes by redirecting the Church’s attention to Purgatory and the Four Last Things, ending the encyclical with these words addressed to the Blessed Virgin: “Thus you remain in the midst of the disciples as their Mother, as the Mother of hope. Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way!”

Then the Remnant addresses those accomplishments in light of the appropriate response by traditional Catholics who for so many years found themselves marginalized by the institutional Church, and urges them not to hold back in their support of the Holy Father:

Could the signs be any clearer? Benedict is trying to undo the liturgical revolution and move the Church beyond the debilitating miasma of the “spirit of Vatican II” without having to repudiate the Mass of Paul VI or the Council as such. And what is wrong with that? Since when has Roman Catholic traditionalism stood for the proposition that the Pope must abolish the Novus Ordo and formally recant the “errors of Vatican II,” as opposed to repairing the damage to the Church by simply liberating the traditional Mass while putting the Council in its proper place: not a “New Pentecost,” but, to use Cardinal Ratzinger’s own words, “a merely pastoral council” whose documents change nothing of the Faith and whose ambiguous formulations are open to criticism.

Let us pose a few questions to ourselves:

· Is it not completely obvious that the Motu Proprio effectively ended the liturgical revolution by declaring that the traditional Latin Mass “must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage” and that every religious institute and parish in the Church is free to adopt it, so that now it is quite impossible for anyone to say that the Novus Ordo liturgy is “the” liturgical future of the Church?

· Are we really incapable of perceiving that our “movement” has been vindicated by the Pope himself with the Motu Proprio’s admission that the traditional Mass was never abrogated—an admission that validates not only traditionalist opposition to the liturgical revolution, which at least had the false appearance of legality, but also our objections to “ecumenism” and “dialogue,” mere words that have no legal weight or doctrinal content?

· Can we not see that the Pope, with a stroke of his pen—and certainly His Holiness knows this—has radically altered the standing of traditionalism from a movement of reaction at the margins to a legally recognized and protected “mainstream” participation in the official apparatus of the Church?

· Haven’t the Pope’s own “signals,” including his express recognition of the right to engage in constructive criticism of the Council, shown that the spell of the Council was broken with the death of John Paul II?

· If the Pope is no longer talking about the “mandate” of Vatican II but rather of the Council’s continuity with the past, why would we want to keep the issue alive by acting as if Benedict were intent on stealthily implementing the Council’s non-existent mandate, when all of his major initiatives suggest the opposite conclusion?

· Are we not perceptive enough to recognize a turning point in the battle for Tradition, and thus a turning point in world history, even if the end of hostilities is still a long way off?

· Why would we be so perverse as to decline to help keep events moving in the right direction by recognizing that the Pope has shown that to a great extent he is with us, and by suspending criticism in order to get behind his initiatives—unless and until some papal act or omission, such as a real capitulation on the prayer for Jewish conversion, compels us to voice a loyal opposition?

· Or is it that we prefer to remain on the margins, reacting from a merely critical vantage point, even though we now have a Pope who, with gesture after gesture, is clearly calling upon traditionalists—the Catholics who have not changed—to step forward and join him as the reinforcements he desperately needs in a Church whose human element he clearly knows is falling to pieces?

For traditional Catholics, a thought-provoking article. For all Catholics, the excerpt above is a good reason to give thanks for Pope Benedict XVI, and to pray for him.


Anonymous said...

That we can read such praise in The Remnant is itself a sign of B XVI's love of tradition -- and of his outreach with ecclesial integrity to those who have felt marginalized snce V II.

Bravo, The Remnant!

Bravissimo, Benedetto!

Michael C. said...

The article was very good in pointing out so many great and marvelous achievements of Pope Benedict XVI. However, I am not sure what it means by "constructive criticism of Vatican II" which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. In my view, it was the aftermath and erroneous interpretation of Vatican II that produced so many problems in the Church.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the ordination that the Institute of Christ the King did last Summer in Saint Louis. I personally like Monsignor Schmidt. He's a good preacher and a really nice man.

How about not ignoring the ordinations that happens in Winona, Minnesota almost on a yearly basis (There will not be one in 2008, but 2009 there is a large crop of Priests being ordained - God willing). And, by the way, Cardinal Hojos of the Vatican already made repeated pronouncements that the SSPX is not outside the church, and matter between us and Rome is an internal matter.

So, please don't blow off our ordinations, please!

thetimman said...

Anon, I don't think I have ever made a negative comment about the SSPX on this site. I am familiar with the statements of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and the particular answers to queries given by the PCED about the liceity of attendance at Masses of the SSPX under certain conditions, etc. I also understand why Abp. Lefebvre was dismayed by certain delays and former unfair treatment prior to the episcopal consecrations of 1988. I also give the members and attendees of the SSPX full credit for good faith motivation.

That being said, the consecrations did occur without Papal sanction, and the result has been that the status of the SSPX generally (without making any particular canonical pronouncement of which I am not qualified to make) is irregular. Bishop Fellay admits this, as does the Holy See. I pray that the motu proprio will be the fulcrum that will clear up and heal this irregularity. In fact, I even expect that in the near future it will.

When this happens, I will trumpet the Winona ordinations from the rooftops. And in the meantime, on this blog, you do not have my scorn, or even indifference. You have my heartfelt prayers for a just and merciful resolution of the issue.

God bless you.

Alexander said...

However, I am not sure what it means by "constructive criticism of Vatican II" which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. In my view, it was the aftermath and erroneous interpretation of Vatican II that produced so many problems in the Church.

It’s probably due the fact that Vatican II contains ambiguity and vagueness. Much of which was purposely inserted in the texts for later manipulation or through compromise (between the dominating progressive force at the council in opposition to the smaller conservative force). When a text is worded so horribly that it renders several interpretations easily one can consider a “constructive crisis” of the texts necessary. This is in hopes that perhaps all the problematic areas of Vatican II can be explicitly addressed directly by the Papcy– either through rewording of the same text or a “super clarification/interpretation” that leaves absolutely no wiggle room for progressives and liberals to distort.

Alexander said...

the coming issuance of new and stricter rules for beatification and canonization, accompanied by the near shut-down of the “saint-making factory” that operated during the prior pontificate (a stupefying 483 saints in 27 years, as compared with 14 canonizations overseen by Benedict since his election nearly three years ago);

I have never heard of this piece of news before. Is there anywhere else online I can read the details about this?

Anonymous said...

Michael C. wrote:

"In my view, it was the aftermath and
erroneous interpretation of Vatican II
that produced so many problems in the

This is true, and largely correct.
But there was also a tremendous amount
of influence in that Council from
freemasons and Protestants. So, in
correcting the errors that have been
wrought in the Church from such
external influences, it ultimately
becomes necessary to deal directly
with such issues in the Council
documents themselves. Pope Benedictus
XVI has already started doing so.

So, I realize that the issue of free-
masonry is one that sounds strange to
many American ears. But freemasonry
is real; and it was HUGE within
European circles throughout the 20th
century; and *especially* throughout
Italy. Freemasons in Italy WERE
their own political party.

If you doubt this, try reading some of
the books that have been written about
the times in Italy when Saint Pio of
Pietrelcina was alive. The freemasons
were as powerful, real, commonplace,
tangible, and 'legitimate' as the
Republican or Democratic party is in
America today. They waged a constant
battle for the attention, credibility,
and influence that the Cardinals
and Bishops of the Church might be
willing to give to them. Also: Back
then, a far greater number of Rome's
Cardinals and Bishops were of Italian
extraction than there are in existence
in the Church today; and this created
a certain climate during the Council
sessions -- one in which the
Zeitgeist of the times and the
Zeitgeist of the locale could bring
to the Council documents themselves
without creating too much of a fuss.


thetimman said...

alexander, check out rorate coeli and wdtprs.com, they covered it-- it happened in the last couple of months. you could also search fisheaters, there was probably a thread on it.

Anonymous said...

While Benedict has taken some steps toward tradition. I still have some questions.
What about his praying at the Mosque in Turkey? That was truly a scandal that cannot be explained away. It was pure ecumenism
What about his betrayal of the Chinese underground Church? He is chastising the underground Church for being faithful and embracing a Patroitic Church that tows the Communist Party line. This is truly scandalous

thetimman said...

Like the Remnant, I choose to acknowledge the overwhelming positives. You raise valid points, so I will let the record speak for itself. The Chinese thing can be seen as a betrayal, or there may be other things at work there that we can't see. It is a matter not only of faith but of foreign policy. I was dismayed at first blush, too, but there are principles in his letter on that subject that may positively apply to the relationship between SSPX and Rome. As for the Mosque thing, I wouldn't go in one, but we don't know the subject of his prayer, and it may have been for conversion for all we know. I understand your point that the very ambiguity of it makes confusion and indifferentism a possibility. But as I said, I will focus on the positive and hope that those can be explained in context. This is different from the last pontificate in that some of these types of things weren't capable, by any stretch of the imagination, to be put in a benign context.