First a thank you. A number of people (though some surprising gaps, particularly given the number of readers this blog has) submitted comments on their own communities. And quite a number of people shared their own stories, reactions and intell offline. There are good reasons why some are reluctant to comment online at times, but that doesn't mean posts aren't doing their job!
Secondly, the challenge. The first point to make is that on the face of it, traditionalism has made few if any real gains in Australia over the past few years, and if anything is going backwards. The change in Church law that should have rendered antagonism from bishops irrelevant has not in fact had the desired effect, as dioceses such as Maitland-Newcastle, where no Latin Masses occur, illustrate. A number of communities have either ceased to exist altogether due to the death or shortage of priests willing to offer the EF Mass. Others (including Canberra) are shrinking in size, not growing.
And thirdly, the new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Archbishop Muller, apparently sees the increasing polarization between traditionalists and liberals as a threat to church unity. Well yes, but there is a very simple solution indeed to this!
Learning from the past: transparency and accountability
One of the key issues in the Church today, in my view, is transparency and accountability.
Though we are traditionalists, we need to keep in mind that the Tradition didn't begin or end with the Council of Trent. The pastoral prescriptions of Trent are just that: pastoral prescriptions that were a response to the particular times.
And the times we are in now, in my view, demand something more akin to that which prevailed through most of the earlier life of the Church (and much of the subsequent), which might best be described as one of, to use Pope Benedict's term, co-responsibility.
Blogs like this are one contribution to that, but there are many other ways this can be achieved.
Many, if not mos,t of Australia's traditionalist communities started as lay-led communities. As they've acquired permanent chaplains, many have perhaps not yet achieved a proper balance between the two possible extremes.
But I think one of the key learnings from the abuse crisis is that problems - and I'm not (just) talking about sexual abuse here, but the whole range of problems that can arise in human interaction within small groups including bullying, racism, cult-like behaviour, insistence on extremist positions (those who insist that one must wear the 'proper' colour of mantilla to your status being one of my particular favourites) - flourish where no one speaks up because they think the problem is theirs alone, or because it is just easier to go with the flow, and above all because people are not provided proper space to engage. There is a really excellent article on this subject in The Punch today in the context of child abuse (not in the Church on this occasion), but I think the lessons go much broader.
And they are particularly important in the context small enclaves like traditionalism. Tracey Rowland has pointed out that it is easy for Catholic groups to become become disconnected from and irrelevant to the mainstream of the institution, and end up looking like that weird Star Wars bar (and she notes, marginalized subcultures frequently tend to attract people with psychological disorders, compounding the marginalization of the community through the association with dysfunctionality).
How do we avoid or address these problems and ensure that Summorum Pontificum becomes a more effective force for positive change in the Church? Well I think in two ways. First we need to engage more with each other. And secondly we need to engage more with the wider Catholic community.
What would traditionalist unity look like?
Let me suggest a few things that would be indicative of traditionalist unity, or more properly, active engagement with each other and a concern for the growth of our community. Some of them would be relatively simple to do; others are probably pipe-dreams in the current environment.
1. Set up a national representative body for traditionalists
Like the UK Latin Mass Society, Una Voce America, and the Ecclesia Dei Society of New Zealand (and many more such national bodies).
Hmm, didn't we have one of those once?
2. Links between community websites (and between communities!)
There are a number of EF communities that maintain websites or blogs. But the only two, so far as I can see, that actually include links to the other Australian communities on the web.
And while there is still the extremely successful annual Christus Rex pilgrimage, there are few if any activities these days that involve actual co-operation between communities...
3. An up-to-date listing of all EF Masses in Australia
There are no up-to-date lists, and responses to my own invitation to tell us all about your mass were, to say the least, sparse. Lots of people read this blog; very few comment (and yes I do reject a few, but not very many).
4. Promotion of activities offered by other groups/communities.
Assurance that all traditionalist activities (provided they are offered by organisations or individuals recognised by the Church), such as retreats and other special events, would be promoted in all communities.
5. Support for special initiatives
When people work to put on special events or other longer term initiatives that would advance tradition in this country, all would do their best to support them. Two Sydney women are (I believe) doing a postulancy overseas at the moment with a view to establishing a community back here. Was their call to other women who might be interested advertised in your (non-FSSP) community?
Engage with the wider Church
It is difficult to do I know.
Even conservative priests, for example, are typically coming from a very different place than traditionalists.
But if we don't build alliances between laity and clergy, if we don't attempt to attract other catholics - particularly those who have lapsed - to our communities, and to influence the wider Church, then the Australian Church will have no future. We need to develop a missionary mentality and use the next five years more effectively.