Irrelevancy versus Fundamentalism
If, like me, you are neither a Mod, nor a neo-Con, nor a Pixie, but just a rather confused Catholic trying to remain loyal to the Holy See and to the constant teaching of the Church (both at the same time—rather difficult, sometimes) then you will find the thoughts of Fr John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham immensely helpful. Yes, I know I’ve said that before more than once, but just mull over this:
As we pray… for the bishops, priests, and seminarians of the Society of S Pius X and the laity whom they serve, I am minded to reiterate the point I have tried to emphasise in so many of my previous posts about the relationship between the Society and representatives of the Holy See …
It seems to me that the thing on which both ‘sides’ appear to agree may in fact be the thing about which both ‘sides’ are most wrong: namely, the great and permanent importance of the Second Vatican Council, which (according to SSPX) needs to be noisily resisted or else (according to CDF) must be explicitly accepted in every detail. That Council clearly manifested itself as a pastoral Council concerned with hodiernum tempus; with Aggiornamento. But, as I have so tediously said so often, the hodiernum tempus of the Sixties is not that of our present decade; our giorno is not theirs. It is easy, with hindsight, to discern … for example … the flawed optimism of Gaudium et Spes; to understand that the mark which Stalinist persecution had left upon the Church is reflected in the ill-thought-out preoccupation with religious liberty in Dignitatis humanae. But we have moved on from the 1960s. The World no longer comes to meet us as a friendly potential partner in dialogue. And we have new and terrible problems and enemies of which the Sixties never dreamed.
It is unacceptable for anybody, including members of the Society, to deny, if they do, that Vatican II was an Ecumenical Council (every little bit as much as was the Council of Vienne). As Bishop Tissier’s admirable biography demonstrated, Archbishop Lefebvre signed each one of its decrees.
And it is inappropriate for members of Roman dicasteries to demand, if they do, a degree of assent to the Concilar documents which fails to recognise their relativity: id est, that a number of passages are well past their sell-by date (just like the legislation of Lateran IV on repressing Judaism).
And de facto this is recognised on all sides.
Let me give you just one very simple example.
The Council decreed that all Latin Rite clerics must (unless, exceptionally, a priest has an individual dispensation from his Bishop) say their Office in Latin. Who, nowadays, condemns saying the Office in a vernacular (without individual dispensation) as failing to fulfill the Obligation, because it is in flagrant breach of the clearest possible words of an Ecumenical Council? Surely, what all sensible mainstream Bishops and Clergy instinctively feel is:
The Conciliar decree reflects the exact situation of the early 1960s, which was superseded and rendered irrelevant within a decade. A fundamentalist preoccupation with the words of an obsolete text would be an irrelevance (or worse) in the life of the Church of our own day.