Caritas Unitas et Veritas 



A place for ''conservative'' and ''traditional'' Catholics to discuss and debate issues, and maybe even find some common ground.


Saturday, May 17, 2003


"Forty years after the reforms of Vatican II, the old-rite Latin Mass is enjoying a renaissance in the Catholic Church. Incense swirls through the sanctuary, enveloping the neat row of altar servers kneeling on the marble altar steps. A bishop towering above them raises a gold chalice, proclaiming in Latin that it holds the blood of Christ. He is reaching the climax of the Tridentine liturgy, the Mass once standard in the Catholic Church. It includes lengthy Latin prayers, lacunae of silence, an extra Gospel after communion. The priests pray with their backs to the congregation, occasionally breaking into complex bows to the left and right of the altar. To the modern Catholic, it’s a bit of a mystery..."

Link courtesy of The Inn at the End of the World.

Monday, May 12, 2003

I. Shawn McElhinney has replied to my post below at Rerum Novarum, and Michelle of And Then has contributed her own comments as well. Shawn suggests that I might be inconsistent in partially faulting Rome for the SSPX schism but not holding Rome accountable for earlier schisms. He writes:

While Jeff would not probably extend the same leeway to other schisms or heresies historically, the two reasons for this would seem to be (i) no personal attachment to them on his part and (ii) they did not promote an agenda that he personally would in any way endorse. Because of this, it is human nature to give such the benefit of the doubt because it allows us to justify ourselves and our own positions. For this I do not begrudge Jeff any more than I would a current (or former) Lutheran who gives the benefit of the doubt to Fr. Martin Luther. One question of course is if Jeff would apply this principle in the same manner also. For some reason, I am inclined to doubt it.

A brief personal history before I reply: I was raised a nominal Lutheran with a vague belief in God; flirted with atheism and agnosticism in my late teens/early twenties; "converted" to orthodox Lutheranism in my early twenties and attended Missouri and Wisconsin Synod parishes; over time I was drawn to Catholicism and persuded by Catholic arguments; I enrolled in RCIA at age 29 and was repulsed by the liberalism of my local Catholic diocese; I joined the breakaway Anglican Province of Christ the King where I remained for five years; I spent six months in seminary studying for the Anglican priesthood; I discovered the Latin Mass and finally entered the Catholic Church three years ago.

So, my past religious associations are Lutheran and Anglican, and I have never had any affiliation with the SSPX or schismatic traditionalist groups. Do I hold Rome equally responsible for the Anglican and Lutheran schisms? Not on your life. There were many abuses in the Church that were exploited by Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer in their day, but these were merely pretexts and were cleaned up at the Council of Trent. Lutherans and Anglicans began as heretics and ended as heretics. They did not even claim to preserve the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church: instead, they radically revised their creeds and expunged Catholic dogma from their liturgies. On the other hand, it seems clear that the SSPX initially changed nothing and merely tried to preserve what it had received. Yes, Msgr. Lefebvre resorted to disobedience. Yes, his disobedience resulted in schism. Yes, the protracted separation of the SSPX has caused some of their number to cease thinking with the mind of the Church. But the SSPX is much closer to full catholicity today than Luther was even before his excommunication. The crisis in the Church following the Second Vatican Council was a crisis of doctrine and worship -- things much more serious than the corruption and human failings of the Renaissance Church in Luther's day. Since it was a more serious provocation, the responsibility for schism is correspondingly greater.

"Which prompts another question worth contemplating: where does the benefit of the doubt properly belong???"

Where there is doubt, the benefit of the doubt belongs to Rome. But there is no doubt that the culture of Catholicism in the West became, almost overnight, a positive threat to the Faith. It isn't the novelties, in and of themselves, that caused seminaries and convents to empty and Catholics to leave the Church in droves. Rather, the novelties created a crisis of Faith, a sense that the Church did not take herself seriously. Most Catholics did not leave the Church because they were outraged by novelties: they left the Church because the novelties seemed to prove that the Church no longer believed in her own teachings, that all the certitude of the Catholic past had been a hoax. The radical alteration of the liturgy, which seemed to embrace so much of what Catholics had always been taught was wrong with Protestant worship, contributed immensely to the crisis of belief. An eternal and indefectible Church that seems to disown her past inspires neither faith nor confidence, and it may well be that the desperate disobedience of Msgr. Lefebvre preserved the Faith of untold thousands of Catholics who would otherwise have been lost.

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