Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Cardinal and the virtue of patience

Yesterday I reported on some comments by Cardinal Castillon about the unreasonableness of some traddies who have been bombarding him with excessive demands (and when they don't get an instant response, whinging about it on the internet).

I wanted to alert you to a few excellent analyses of the issue, counselling that traddies cultivate the virtue of patience!

First the always excellent Fr Finigan has written a nice piece trying to put some perspective around the issue. Secondly there is a piece by David Alexander on the Gregorian Rite blog. Mr Alexander points to some of the realities of trying to make change in the face of (1) a bureaucracy and (2) opposition.

On the other side stand those, such as New Catholic on Rorate Caeli, who see bishops diobeying the Pope and wondering why no immediate action is taken to deal with it. For the full stoush (and vividly illustrating in some of the comments exactly what Cardinal Castillon was talking about - see the debate on 'bread') between the two sides, take a look at Fr Z.

Personally I agree with Messrs Brown and Edwards on Fr Z - over the last fifty years, the power of the Pope to enforce anything has collapsed. Traddies shouldn't feel particularly picked on - look at the length of time it has taken to fix the Brisbane baptism problem!

The Holy Father is doing his best to restore notions of authority and obedience in the Church - but to lead you have to build support for what you are doing or it won't 'take', and that requires time.

I know many are frustrated at their own situations, but pissing off Rome with intemperate demands won't help the restoration process.


Cardinal Pole said...

"The Holy Father is doing his best to restore notions of authority and obedience in the Church"

Hmmmmmmmmm ...

In light of His Holiness' recent remarks to the effect that the clergy is at the service of the laity, I would have to ask for more evidence of your assertion.

(After all, clergymen are Ministers/servants of God or, if you like, of the Church's common good, and thus only indirectly the servants of the laity.)

Terra said...

Cardinal, I would suggest that the idea that priests are at the service of the laity is perfectly orthodox.
I would suggest some meditation on John 13 (where Jesus washes the feet of the apostles).

We are all servants of God, but the a key role of the priest is to teach, sanctify and rule the people. It is certainly not unusual to speak of a secular ruler as 'serving the people' so why is odd in the ecclesial context, particularly given the numerous injunctions in the New Testament to that effect?

Cardinal Pole said...

"It is certainly not unusual to speak of a secular ruler as 'serving the people'"

Common, yes, but also wrong. One who has authority does not 'serve' those over whom he has authority. It's a question of the meaning of authority. The State does not serve the people directly; it serves the common good, and the people only indirectly.

Like I hinted at in my first comment, my problem with the notion of 'authority exercised as service' is not that it's strictly erroneous, but that there is a serious problem of emphasis involved. And in some Churchmen, particularly some Australian Churchmen, I think this mis-emphasis is tendentious.

Terra said...

I think we must agree to disagree.

To explain my position though, I think you are confusing service with servile.

Personally, I adhere to the model of authority set out in the Rule of St Benedict. The abbot has absolute authority, is to be viewed as Christ in the monastery. But he has to listen to his monks before making decisions (though he doesn't have to take their advice).

St Benedict reminds him however that everything he does must be for the (spiritual) profit of his monks, and he will be held accountable when he is judged, for each and everyone of their souls. And the abbot must adapt his style to each one's individual dispostins to achieve this - some need to be persuaded, others rebuked, etc.

St Gregory the Great's Pastoral Rule similarly casts the parish priest or bishop as a spiritual father, responsible for the gradual spiritual growth of his parishioners.

The autocratic 'I'm in charge, don't you dare tell me what I should be doing' style of priest (all too prevalent in both the 'liberal' and traddie camps, though generally better disguised in the former case) is clericalism at its worst, and has led to the abuse scandals and much else that is wrong with the modern church in my view.

Anonymous said...

The cardinal spoke of 'INSATIABLE' demands made on the celebration of the latin mass and then if people don't get their way, they just post on the internet their complaints.
This is very disturbing and shows a real schismatic turn of events taking place over the liturgical celebration, which is meant to be a sign of unity.
The cardinal is right to make these comments in view of what is happening.
Benedict ought do the same for the sake of the unity of the Church and the central sacrament of the eucharist.
Sober comments are required now so that fundamentalists and fanatics more concerned over vestments and language are made to see that the essence of the liturgy is key and not just ephemeral issues.

Anonymous said...


YOu really need to read Geoffrey Hull's "Banished Heart".

The cultural and material context in which the liturgy occurs is very important. One of the reasons for the present debacle is that for the last 450 years or so (and I include the post-conciliar period here), the tendency has been to treat catholicism as no more than a dogmatic blue-print, when it is more (not that I'm minimising the importance of dogma). That's what Islam's like.

+ Thomas Wolsey,

Archieps. Eborac., etc