Saturday, 12 September 2015

In My Opinion... 7 Points On the Crisis in the Church

Several times on the blog I have tried to convey the fact that I know myself to be a sinner, but I begin this post by yet again affirming my sinfulness before God and man lest I appear self-righteous.
It would be imprudent to list my sins in public, but let me say that while I have not committed the sins the world sees as the worst (adultery, abuse, murder, misappropriation of funds) I do seem to have fallen prey to many of the sins brought to me in Confession: sloth, the callous tongue, the over-indulgence in alcohol, the failure to challenge those I know personally who are in irregular unions or who are using contraception, involved with crime, violence or substance abuse. So I can genuinely echo what was said by St Paul: “The good that I would like to do, I don’t do -and the things I would rather not do, I find myself doing”. There is a concept in Social Work today of ‘good-enough parenting’, but I hesitate to apply even ‘good-enough’ to myself as a spiritual Father. To that extent I echo the words of psalm 37: “My wounds [sins] are foul and festering; the result of my own folly...” but I rejoice in Psalm 64: “Too heavy for us our offences, O Lord, but You wipe them away.” All in all, this post comes from a sinner seeking holiness. My self-image and my image of the folk I base on psalm 102: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and never forget all His blessings. It is He Who forgives all your sins: who heals all your diseases” which I couple with Matthew 9v12. "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but the sick”.

All that said, many who know me often mistake my conviction in preaching what the Church teaches and my insistence on celebrating (I hope) good liturgies (saying the black and doing the red) as self-assurance or even arrogance. Well...No. I have confidence in the rightfulness of what Sacred Tradition teaches and I am convinced of the need for a liturgy that focuses on God -but that is it.

What then, am I giving my opinion about? About the Crisis in the Church and its resolution: I am praying our prelates will acknowledge (though I suspect deep down many are actually aware of it) that something is dreadfully wrong in the Church; I am praying many will swim against the current episcopal tide and come to recognise the following.

1. That Vatican II needs to be clarified.
It has been said that "the key to understanding Vatican II is best expressed in two phrases that characterized it, namely, the Church is semper reformanda (“always in need of reform”) and the Church is Populi Dei (People of God)"; that these phrases “reflect a new self-understanding of church” (see here), de-emphasizing the institutional model of church in favour of a less doctrinaire, more pastoral, more ecumenical and more democratic model. Well, if the Church is the people of God and always in need of reform, this is not new: Confession has been in place since Apostolic times for the reforming of the people of God (i.e., anyone who is baptised). This in no way ousts the Institutional model, which is of Divine Will. This quote is but one example of how Vatican II has been misunderstood. Without doubt, many grave distortions have crept into the Church since Vatican II, being due to the ambiguous texts of the Council -and these ambiguities have been admitted (see Cardinal Kasper’s admission in ‘L'Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013) -which suggests direct manipulation of the Council by men. Indeed, on the strength of Vatican II, distortions have entered into the liturgy; into ecumenism (e.g., the idea that we are all the same and can be saved in any religion); into what is meant by the sensus fidelium; into collegiality and into the role played by the laity.

2. That the Liturgy needs to be taken in hand.
*The call for ‘active participation’ has been portrayed as ‘activity’ when in fact it primarily means full, conscious (internal) contemplation of the Mystery in which we participate. Dancing, mimes, dramas, gathering children around the altar etc, are not authentic participation but illicit additions to the Rite of Mass.
*The versus populum orientation is neither in Vatican II nor in the Missal Pope Paul authorised as giving concrete form to the reform asked for by the Council: there is NO DIRECTIVE that priests are to face the people at Mass, though it is given as a possible option (Prot. No. 2036/00/L regarding GIRM #299). THE DIRECTIVE OF THE MISSAL is to face the altar (see GIRM 157 & 158 and rubrics 132,133).
*Communion in the hand was introduced illegally in Holland from where it spread to Belgium, France and Germany, and was allowed by Paul VI only where it had already begun by 1969. Again, there is no directive from Rome stating that this is to be the norm; the directive is still, officially, to receive on the tongue (Memoriale Domini, 1969, CDW).
*There is no directive to remove altar rails.
*There is no requirement to have the whole Mass offered in the vernacular. There is however, from Vatican II, a directive that the people should be able to say or sing their parts of the Mass in Latin (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36,54; GIRM #41) and that Gregorian Chant is the primary music of the Mass (see Sacrosanctum Concilium #116).
*Use of hymns is supposed to be a last resort for music at Mass, since the Church wants us to sing the Mass texts themselves (cf. Notitiae 5 [1969] p. 406; and USCCB BCL Newsletter, August-September, 1993).

3. That the catechism needs to be put back into schools.
*The criticism that this was ‘parrot-fashion learning’ is an error; children taught the catechism by good teachers did not simply learn the catechism as they learned the Arithmetic Tables, they learned it with fuller explanations. Yes they learned in the question and answer format and so remember them to this day because its repetition usefully sticks in the mind, but they may not necessarily remember the fuller explanations they were given too, just as they may not necessarily remember other lessons they were given as children at school which were not parrot-fashion learning.
*‘Parrot-fashion’ learning usefully provides children with answers on The Faith when it is questioned, just as parrot-fashion tables gives them a useful tool for shopping; a cf. Catechesi Tradendae (1979) #55: “A certain memorization of the words of Jesus, of important Bible passages, of the Ten Commandments, of the formulas of profession of the faith, of the liturgical texts, of the essential prayers, of key doctrinal ideas, etc., far from being opposed to the dignity of young Christians, or constituting an obstacle to personal dialogue with the Lord, is a real need, as the synod fathers forcefully recalled. We must be realists. The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of a memory-less catechesis. What is essential is that the texts that are memorized must at the same time be taken in and gradually understood in depth, in order to become a source of Christian life on the personal level and the community level” (emphasis added).

4. That the authentic Lay Apostolate needs to be rediscovered.
*Vatican II never once spoke of lay ministry; you will not find those words anywhere in Vatican II; it always spoke of Lay Mission, and clarified this by encouraging the laity to be active in bringing The Faith to bear in their work and social lives. Lay ministry is not a development of Vatican II, but a distortion of Lay Mission, which is much missing in today’s world.
*The co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom the Bishops share a common call and a common ontology, are the priests. The role of the laity is to evangelise the world, not to replace the Presbyterate.

5. That the ‘New Pastoral Care’ orientation  needs attention
The ‘new pastoral care’ (as evidenced by the call even from prelates to admit civilly re-married divorcees, cohabitees and those in same-sex unions to Holy Communion) is dangerous to the salvation of the souls of those in such situations –and to the souls of the clerics who promote their admission to Eucharistic Communion.
*The ‘new pastoral care’ springs from emotionalism and an erroneous understanding of justice. Emotionalism doesn't want to see people in pain (which is laudable) but it seeks to alleviate the pain by hiding the truth of the situation in which they are living. It is the giving of false hope for the Gospel Truths are unalterable, and changing Church discipline to accommodate error is to accommodate the destruction of souls brought by the father of lies. 
*In regard to such souls and justice, it is said that those excluded from Holy Communion are being oppressed by the Church. Not true: their souls are oppressed by their situation but they do not know it. Excluding them from Holy Communion is like the responsible bar-tender refusing to pour another drink for the man who is dangerously intoxicated. I sum up all this ‘new pastoral care’ by saying that “pastoral care has degenerated from pastoral sensitivity (wherein the Truth is explained to souls with tender care and compassion) into pastoral sentimentality (wherein Truth is ignored simply to make the person feel at ease)”.
*Social Justice (the corporal works of mercy) has become the only kind of pastoral work in which many seek to engage, with the spiritual works of mercy neglected in the performance of those corporal works.

6. Get Collegiality into perspective.
Collegiality is not, and this is by Divine Will, joint government of the Church by Pope and Bishops. There is to be a common solicitude for all the Churches (expressed via advice and support? –such as in a sharing of priests, of resources, of good practice points etc, and common statements reiterating official Church teaching) but not shared Governance since this intrinsically impacts upon and reduces the governance exercised by a Bishop in his own Diocese, for which he alone is accountable to the Divine.

7.Get 'sensus fidelium' right.
This cannot be made to refer to the majority opinion of those now living; it encompasses the Church throughout her history. While many today might favour divorce and remarriage, contraception, homosexual pairings et al , this is not true of the Christians of the last 2000 years. Those favouring these new positions today are inconsistent with the authentic senus fidelium, and with Divine Deposit in both Scripture and Tradition.
There is much to be done. It is down to the Bishops to lead us, led by Rome. Oremus.


  1. Thinking especially of the old Penny Catechism I am troubled when parents who apply for Catholic schools without having their children at least baptised come out with "I want them to decide for themselves when they are older". Being baptised & learning your catechism by rote does not prevent any child as they reach adulthood from making a decision about their religious beliefs. In fact learning the catechism answers many questions which arise throughout your life & enable to to make INFORMED decisions about your religious beliefs. Even now (at my advanced age) I can still find answers to many of my questions about morality by simplifying the question to one of those in the Penny Catechism and finding out where I should be going. Like everyone else I don't always follow the answer I get but at least I had the chance to act properly and my sin is one which I knew was wrong.
    I wonder what our children are taught even in our Catholic schools! I hear from Catholic teachers that it barely scratches the surface & yet it is what our hierarchy has laid down. Just to stress the point just this last week I spoke to a Jewish lady who in the past has taught RE in our schools.

  2. There is no doubt that the holy Catholic religion has been tampered with and deformed. The Sunday liturgy no longer expresses the true Catholic Faith. It expresses a protestant view of Faith. The fullness of the Incarnation is not fully expressed nor taught from the pulpit. The wreakers have done a good job. The devil must be pleased with their work.
    I was taught the catechism and I thank God that I was. It gives one the essential elements of the Faith in short succint sentences that stay with you all your life. It is an invaluable part of evangelusing the people. It is no wonder that so many badly instructed children lapse from the Faith as soon as they leave school. If not before. 95% I belive the figure is. And of course their children will not be Catholics. And soon in a couple of generations the Catholic Faith will be reduced to a remnant. Except perhaps where there are fully alive and orthodox priests and the ancient liturgy is still kept alive and is respected. Unfortunately there are bishops who fully subscribe to the anti Catholic anti tradition spirit that came from Vat2. It would be a step in the right direction if the bishops recognised the legitimacy of the SSPX. They are too happy kissing Korans and upsetting traditional Catholics who say the rosary and have big families.

  3. Slightly off topic I know. But related to sentimentalism in Catholic thinking. Is the comment of Dr Carey in connection with the so called assisted dying bill. "There is nothing sacred in suffering" Sorry but there IS. This a typical example of a protestant lack of Faith in the full truth of the Incarnation. Suffering is part of life and can be redemptive and can atone for our sins. But they (protestants) can't see that. Thats why they want assisted pain free fluffy death.

    1. Well said...Amen
      The Cross

      Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.

      Thomas a Kempis
      Imitation of Christ
      Book 2; Chapter 12

    2. It seems ironic that Protestants who take so much of their false soteriology from a misreading of Romans, do not seem to be aware of this passage:

      Rom 8,17 "And if sons, heirs also: heirs indeed of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: yet so if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him."

      According to the apostle, if we are to be glorified with Christ then we are to suffer with Him too. The likes of Carey know everything of sentimentality and nothing of reality as revealed by the Word of God. The Incarnation has indeed rendered a sacredness to suffering when it is offered up to God.

      However, in the last survey I saw, 55% of "vicars" did not believe in the Virgin Birth and Incarnation, therefore, it is not surprising if their "theology" lacks incarnational depth.

  4. Your comment "All that said, many who know me often mistake my conviction... as self-assurance or even arrogance" is the similar to what I've been accused of by simply honoring my vows after divorce and annulment, continuing to challenge my former spouse's Subjective truth with the Objective Truth and correcting her errors of Faith concerning our marriage to our children. I just remark that I am not arrogant and prideful, just confident and steadfast because my positions are all factually correct, documented and inline with Traditional Church teaching. How such could ever be considered arrogant or prideful, I do not know. But I understand your pain, as they say...

  5. Father, I am aware of most of what you say. What worries me is that so few in the Church are. Our former PP was overheard telling a parishioner that Communion in the hand was introduced 'by the Council', a priest providing 'holiday cover' assured everyone that no-one was unworthy to receive and told everyone present to do so at every Mass. People even of my generation (I am 68) succumb to the drip, drip of misinformation in conversations, homilies and newsletters provided almost every week and don't appreciate that anything is amiss, that the liturgy has been hijacked and that they are often being offered opinion instead of authentic teaching.

  6. Keep fighting the good fight, Father! You are a delightful blogger and your holiness and humility are felt by me, 1000s of miles from Great Britain. I've spent nearly a year in your country among the working class, and have a sense of the chaos of daily life, the struggles and the poor formation in Faith, any faith. The intra-class antagonism was a lot more intense in Britain than among my American working class cohort. And you know what? My American cohort, many of them, upon becoming affluent lost the Faith of our fathers as well. Everywhere the faith is in a shambles.

    My rosary tomorrow will be said exclusively for your intention.

  7. Father, the faithfull know what we need is to get organised we need a lay group and i am sure you know many good priests like yourself we need to get active within the faith and within society... we need to kick open the doors and bring the church out from under the bushel it has been hiding. We need to stop being afraid of secular society... we need to renew the church and the world. This gentleman hits the nail on the head, he is perfectly right

  8. I can empathise with Lepanto regarding Communion in the hand. as I think I have said before I & my wife were at the Mass receiving the body of an old priest who had taught me &, rather than cause upset, we asked the celebrant (a very senior diocesan cleric RIP) if we could receive on the tongue as our hands were not consecrated & were therefore unworthy. He responded by laughingly suggesting he blessed our hands which I found disgraceful. Eventually he agreed that we might receive on the tongue but only after everyone else had received Communion. Apart from anything else this simply pointed out that at least some of the congregation knew how to receive the Body of Christ in a worthy manner.

  9. You say a lot Father,

    There is something deeply wrong in the Church. Bishop Schneider has called for a Syllabus of errors of Vat II. The Mass of the Catholic Church is the Gregorian Mass in its permitted forms. There are others, the Ordinariate, and the New Mass, but the Gregorian derived, is the Catholic Mass. We must have Catholic schools with RE and Apologetics otherwise we can forget it.

    Above all we have to remember we are a Church of sinners of all sorts not just abortionists and adulterers and stop concentrating on those . That is the way of the World. We are not saints That is for the few. Most of us are just sinners whom just get on with life, nd hopefully also to Confession.

    1. Indeed something is dreadfully wrong in the Church; I call it a loss of Faith. It disappeared along with the Traditional Form of Mass and the Catechism.
      And yes, there are more sins that the adultery and abortion: there is the sloth, anger, gossip etc. I like to say that most of us are not deliberately wicked; just decidedly weak. We are all of us sinners seeking merciful healing, surely.


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