Law and Disarray

Pope Benedict drew a lot of attention for his Chrism Mass (not Mass of the Lord’s Supper) homily rebuking (or “ripping” or “denouncing,” depending on your news outlet of choice) those Austrian clergy for being uppity about celibacy, women, intercommunion, and the divorced-and-remarried. Natürlich, the supposed letter to those priests seems to have disappeared. No diktat, says Cardinal Schönborn’s spokesman. What do you believe?

As opposed to the homily slapdown, another disobedient group, one actually in schism for a generation now, seems to have arrived at its moment of truth. It’s hard not to read the various media on these and come to some disturbing conclusions. For me, it goes beyond considerations of whose pom-poms are waving the most energetically. And that we even have these conversations comparing the approaches to different groups and individuals shows there’s significant need for reform. Days like this, I’m inclined to agree with the Holy Father: the Church possesses no competence for making choices on women’s ordination. Rome hasn’t even figured out governance. Who can believe it will get it right with women? Or celibacy? Or any other deep issue of impact?

I’d sure like to see the contents of that secret final offer the SSPX has supposedly been mulling over since last Fall. Do you suppose the SSPX heads were invited to a six-week retreat? (At this point in the liturgical year, I would love love love it if the CDF invited me to a six-day retreat in a monastery.) What do you think their final answer would be on that?

I’d say that Rome is facing the same crisis of leadership we find in the secular West. There’s a serious erosion of respect for authority, and they have little outside themselves to seriously blame for it. Schismatics appear to be treated with deference. Yet for a bishop who suggests a discussion on vital questions, canon law itself is abrogated. You can’t call it “law and order.” Law and disarray is closer to the truth.

Irish priests, numbering more than SSPX clergy, don’t seem to be backing down.

At this critical juncture in our history, the ACP believes that this form of  intervention – what Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently called “heresy-hunting”  – is of no service to the Irish Catholic Church and may have the unintended  effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant “disconnect”  between the Irish Church and Rome.

Is the institution afraid?

In reading about a new archbishop in Australia’s third-largest city, I noted a comment when asked about a breakaway parish and people still embittered about a dismissed bishop:

There will be no abandonment of the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church but this will be addressed as a pastor and not in some brutal way.

The Temple Police have no inclination, skill, or sliver of pastoral sense. Their approach to the parable of the lost sheep would be to shoot the wayward animal, skin it, and wave the hide like a banner of victory. I wonder if those long years at the top of the CDF heap didn’t harden the Holy Father to pastoral responsibilities. Those responsibilities weren’t given up at the switch from Archbishop of Munich to a Roman desk job. Here and there, we’ve seen some good sense from this pope over the past several years. It’s not bad at all to have a teacher as a pope. But other people are on the Church payroll to teach.

And that we need to talk about a pastor being non-brutal shows how far things have fallen in the past generation.

As a lay person, I’m seriously worried. I see an appalling lack of competence in too many quarters in the institution. It’s no wonder Catholic numbers are lagging. It’s a darned discouragement, if not a dis-grace.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Law and Disarray

  1. James says:

    The SSPX has never been in a state of schism as clearly denoted in Canon Law and Church precedence. I would recommend that the author visit to read what the SSPX actually has to say for itself and its canonical position rather than listen to liberal talking heads.

    Remember, the same talking heads said for over 40 years that the traditional Roman Mass had been legally abolished (and thus forbid it), only to have the SSPX’s argument vindicated on July 7, 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI (Summorum Pontificum) declared that it had never been abolished and it was never forbidden.

    If the SSPX was correct about the Mass, one can only imagine what else they are correct about – particularly as they simply follow what the Church has always taught and practiced – Catholic Tradition.

  2. Todd says:

    Actually, James, I prefer to do my own research, to read more and listen less to talking heads.

    Naturally, SSPX will say its not in schism. Just as Old Catholics, and various liberal breakaway parishes will tout themselves as “Catholic.” People who disagree with them don’t like it. but there you have it.

    Ordaining bishops without the approval of Rome does get you in trouble. The SSPX is a disobedient group–there’s no denying it.

    As for the Mass, it was reformed. Not abolished. The 1962 rite is an unreformed liturgy, not in keeping with Vatican II. Having a Mass in Latin has never been abolished. Singing chant, having nice vestments, traditional architecture, and deep piety has never been forbidden. But the 1962 rite was abrogated in much the same way as MR1 was. In my thinking, however edifying the 1962 rite may be, it has the same historical standing as the 1970/75 English translation of the Mass. All it has in its favor is an indult.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    This obscene chasing after the heretics of SSPX is becoming a crashing bore. They are a nightmare and the best way to deal with nightmares is to wake up, move on and stop obsessing with bad things.

    Does this mean that their chance of rejoing with Peter will be diminished? We should be so very lucky!

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