As part of my ongoing efforts to keep this blog up-to-date, I regularly peruse myriad sources of news and commentary to find something that piques my interest. If I find it interesting, perhaps, some of the readers of CMR might find it interesting as well. However, every once in a while after more than an hour scouring the Internet desperately searching for something to write about, I come up completely empty. Today was such a day.
Oh sure, there are important things happening in the world such as Peru, lost miners, hurricanes, etc. These are all important stories to be sure, it is just that today, I had nothing to say about them. It is on days such as this, when the desperation to find something to write about reaches Shatner-ian proportions (Must....find.....a.....story) that I contemplate the unthinkable. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is on days such as today that I read....the....National....Catholic.....Reporter.
I know what you are thinking "Don't do it Patrick! Don't place yourself in harms way just for our sake!" I appreciate your concern, truly, but such is my dedication to my craft. So what did this foray into the devil's lair yield? Was it worth such a terrible risk? Without a doubt. I have returned from the sixth circle of Hell, my dear readers, with this treasure from the editorial page (emphasis mine):
Lately, we’ve been speaking with many of our readers about their concerns for the church. Pat Marrin, an NCR editor, said it best: “These are difficult days for those of us who have invested our hopes and labors in the unfolding of the kind of church we thought was mandated by the Second Vatican Council. More than 40 years since the close of the council, whose keynote was ‘full, conscious and active participation by all the baptized,’ we are witnessing an institutional retreat into clericalism and theological absolutism. For many progressive Catholics, the options seem dismal: wait out this ‘last hurrah’ or drift away from a sadly dysfunctional church to find life elsewhere.”Well, my first un-Christian response is to say "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" But truly, I don't want that.
This passage is as unbelievable as it is sad. These antediluvian progressives are so despondent over recent events that they would consider leaving the church. Up until just a few months ago, the progressives were pleasantly surprised about how moderate the Pope had been. So what recent events could lead them to believe that the church is in "institutional retreat into clericalism and theological absolutism?" Simple, the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum allowing for wider use of the classical liturgy and the CDF clarification of the doctrine on the church. That's it.
It is a cliché that liberals are the most illiberal of folks. Clichés are usually true. On the one hand, the Pope has liberalized the use of a most ancient liturgy that had never been abrogated. A liturgy, mind you, that most 'progressives' would have you believe that nobody wants or would attend. The idea that some catholics might actually derive ‘full, conscious and active participation' in this liturgy is irrelevant. Vatican II mandated the kind of ‘full, conscious and active participation' that progressives want, everyone else be damned.
The other thing that has their collective panties in a bunch is the CDF clarification on the Church. This document simply restated what had been previously restated in Dominus Iesus (2000) which restated what had been said in Communionis notio (1992) which simply restated what had been said in Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973) an so on. So why does this upset them so? Because each subsequent restatement makes it more and more difficult for them to twist the true meaning of 'subsists'. They want it to mean that the church doesn't matter and they don't like it when they are told otherwise.
So their you have it. Liberalized access to a mass nobody wants and a simple restatement of a restatement of a restatement. So why the hubbub? Why the hissy-fit?
Progressives, particularly those at the National Catholic Reporter, are a bunch of spoiled brats. For 40 years they have had their own way and can no longer stomach any dissent. It is their party and if they can't have it their way, they want out. However, it is not a retreat into clericalism or theological absolutism that has them so upset, it is the deep seated knowledge of what might spring from these simple gestures. They suspect, as do I, that this is really what the people want even if they don't know it yet. That exposure to the classical liturgy will tap into some unnamed longing in the hearts of many. That an orthodox catholic identity is on the rise.
What they suspect is that their days are numbered, that the party is over, and it makes them angry. The National Catholic Reporter has put their anger over irrelevance on display for all to see.