Solving the Modernist Crisis of the Church
by Griff Ruby
Amongst the mess we have surrounding us, it is profitable to take a good hard look around so as to seek the relevant facts which might ultimately provide some clue as to what is going on. The big question here is where to begin, what few pieces of the puzzle might actually be key to what is going on. Rather than record every possible observation one could possibly make (which would be inordinately huge), let us focus only on such observations which are a) readily verifiable, and b) possessing some substantial relevance to the mystery.
It is fair to point out that nearly all of these observations provoke further questions, since there is really not merely one giant mystery, but many smaller mysteries. The problem is actually a fairly simple one, but it must be shown to explain each of the lesser mysteries in order to prove that it addresses the main gigantic mystery as to what has happened to the Roman Catholic Church.
When the word "mystery" is used here, it is not being used in the classical Catholic sense, as in the "Mystery of the Trinity," the "Mystery of the Incarnation," the "Mystery of Transubstantiation," the "Mystery of Iniquity," or even the "Mystery of the Church." Those mysteries are not contradictions, or problems to solve, but rather sacred truths so deep they will never be plumbed. What we have before us here however IS a contradiction, a real "mystery" in the common sense of that word, as in that of a detective novel. This present situation IS a problem to solve, not a sacred truth to ponder. However, finding the solution to this problem will both require and result in a deepening of our understanding regarding some of those Sacred Mysteries, and most especially the sacred Mystery of the Church.
Let us review some of the more surprising observations:
The Pope remains a popular figure, in fact more popular than ever before. The whole world loves and adores him, even while flatly disagreeing with his moral teaching. "Catholics" have described their lives as having been changed simply because they met the Pope in person briefly, and yet they still regard contraception as acceptable behavior. At the other extreme are those who have no quarrel whatsoever with any of the Popeís moral teaching, but despite whatever personal admiration for the man himself some of them may have, they regard the Papal chair as being empty. Many small groups of extremists have even elected quite a number of "Popes" of their own, none of whom constitute any real alternative, of course.
Virtually all major "Catholic" and diocesan journals have been given over to Liberalism, often contradicting known and established Catholic teachings, as well as promoting liberal prelates who do the same. A plethora of small journals has sprung up to fill the needs of the more orthodox Catholics, but many of these small journals are not tolerated anywhere, and what few that are, are tolerated only in some very few of the very most conservative dioceses. While these small journals generally offer a far more solid Catholicism than otherwise available from most parish priests, many of them violently attack each other as much as they all attack other practices or beliefs which all would agree are not Catholic.
There was a major Council held not that long ago which has caused more trouble than it could ever have been potentially worth. Extremes vary from those who treat it as some sort of "supercouncil" which authorized a wholesale sweeping aside of everything that has gone on before, clear to its being nothing but a "robber council" promulgating heresy and therefore being of absolutely no authority. There remains a strong sensing that this Council (Vatican II) may have had something to do with the downfall of the Church, but clearly there were problems well in advance of it, and many of the most serious problems we see today emerged years afterwards.
The documents of the Council itself seem, on a first cursory reading, strangely innocuous, mostly long, boring, and tedious, hardly the sort of thing to turn the Church upside down. Much of what they say seems perfectly orthodox, but there have been some points identified in them which at least seem to be at variance with standard Catholic teaching. One certainly does not find in them any clear basis for any of the liturgical (or other) madness carried out in the name of the Council. If anything, they seem to be far more famous for the things they most pointedly donít say, than for any of the things they actually do say.
There are those who say that the only problem is in the interpretation of the Vatican II documents. There is an element of truth to that since the interpretation of the documents has certainly been a real problem. A most curious fact to emerge is that the problem of interpretation NEVER arose with the documents of any of the previous twenty Councils of the Church. The unusual (and unprecedented) width of interpretation the Vatican II documents lay themselves open for admits to quite a variety of interpretations ranging from more or less in line with the preceding Catholic thought and belief clear to wild and outrageous positions and everything in between. What is most significant, the sixteen documents themselves provide absolutely no basis for preferring one interpretation over another. One finds in them absolutely no reason to prefer Cardinal Ratzingerís interpretation or that of Cardinals Oddi, Gagnon, and Stickler, and Archbishop Pell over those of Cardinals Mahoney and Bernardin, or Archbishops Hunthausen or Weakland.
As if that werenít enough, many innovations, such as the removal of the tabernacle to a place of dishonor, are done in the name of Vatican II and yet that council in all of its sixteen documents stated nothing of the kind, indeed only the very reverse, that it should be preserved in a place of honor (BLIPSH reference). It is as if there is more to that Council than what officially came out of it. There is also frequent talk of a "Spirit of the Council" or "the Spirit of Vatican II" which goes far further than anything contained in its documents, contains much that is openly heretical, and yet the name of which even John Paul II has invoked on occasion.
It is almost axiomatic that large organizations and institutions can only change very slowly and gradually, over a period of many, many years, whereas smaller organizations and institutions can change practically "in the blink of an eye." It is only the Church which ever provided an exception to that otherwise reliable axiom. In the early days of the Church, the Church remained stable in its doctrine, practice, and worship, while the surrounding Jewish, Greek, and Roman empires were ever in a state of flux. In the span of a very few years, the grand and glorious Roman Empire fell into virtual oblivion while the Church steadily continued right on through, scarcely affected.
In more recent centuries, as the Church became a substantial organization encompassing a significant percentage of the total human population of the earth, its vast size only served as a further buttress to its inherent stability. This actually provided a source of confusion when many of those who were ignorant of its history began to attribute its (then) current stability to its vast size rather than to its Charism of Indefectibility, and therefore claiming that in former days when the Church was smaller there had been much more change.
Today, we see a reversal which is similar to the early days. On the one side, we see the huge institution ruled from Vatican City, with its hundreds of thousands of parishes worldwide, undergoing change as absolutely fast as any organization of such size is capable of. And on the other, there exists a small cotorie of tiny "traditional chapels" so few and far between that very few people are even aware of their existence let alone members of them, and yet these chapels are rock-solid in their adherence to the unchanging Faith. How can such rocklike stability be strongest where it is least expected to be strong, and yet also simultaneously weakest where it is most expected to be strong? Yet it is so.
These same few "traditional chapels" also become the focus of yet another strange observation one can make. Ecumenical outreaches have been made to virtually every other group and religion one can think of. They have been made to schismatic East Orthodox, to Protestants of every stripe from "high church" to evangelical to fundamentalist to pentecostal, to Jews, to Moslems, to Buddhists, to Hindus, to Snake-worshippers, to Voodoo "priests," to Animists, to Atheists and Agnostics, and to Modernists, but never to these chapels.
The strange feelings and fears the bare fact of these chapels seems to inspire certainly bear some comment. Nowhere else do "conservative Catholics" or anyone else manage to get up in arms about such issues as "schism" or "dissent" or "division" or "outside the Church." All of the above-mentioned groups and religions to which ecumenical outreaches are made are "outside the Church," and many of them the result of "schism," "dissent," and "division" from the One True Church. These fears are raised even with regard to what very few such chapels have received formal recognition and "approval." The real reason certain "conservative Catholics" have had such a bee in their bonnet about these chapels is that, secretly they all desire to attend such chapels, but they are afraid to admit in public to having such a desire.
All of the above facts are small but crucial pieces of the puzzle. Furthermore, the existence of each of these little puzzles is easy enough to verify for yourself. You are probably already aware of many of them already. I strongly encourage you to verify the rest for yourself. Donít take my word for any of this! Check it all out and verify it all for yourself. As long as you donít, these are only MY facts, not yours. But when you have seen this all for yourself, these facts become YOUR facts. You are not responsible for the things I know, only for the things you know. But if you are truly concerned and want to be of any real help, you have a responsibility to seek out the applicable knowledge and wisdom. Only when you know these things for yourself will you possess the firmness of knowledge needed to take the necessary stand and do any real good.
Most likely, the one fact you have not seen (and this really has to be seen to be believed or truly understood) is the nature of the "traditional chapels." This may require some courage and strength on your part, along with a willingness to make such sacrifices, such as to travel an inconvenient distance or endure the laughter or suspicions of your close friends or family, even just to make a visit. It is vital to make that visit so as to supply an essential piece of the puzzle since otherwise the problem cannot be solved.
It is also important to make oneís own visit since second-hand information about these places is notoriously inaccurate. Misinformation about these chapels is rampant, systematic, and deliberate. Even sources which you have long found to be reliable over the years will frequently err here. Perhaps in some way that might be regarded as yet another observation, albeit a less important one. Better than my word versus theirs, make your own direct observations. See their Mass; sound out their priest on a plethora of theological, moral, ecclesiastical, and historical issues. If there is a school connected with the chapel, speak with the teachers and the parents; observe the children.
At this point you may be wondering why I have so strongly stressed the "traditional chapels," nearly all of which are "independent." (A small handful of them are recognized by their local dioceses.) Am I saying that this is where all the real Catholics have gone? Ought they have? What about the struggle to restore oneís own local parish, diocese, or even Rome itself? What about remaining inside the Church? What about union with Rome? What about obedience? All things that happen have a role in Godís providence, but not all things that happen are for the good of those participating in them. Be assured that as the solution presents itself, all of these issues will fall neatly into place.
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