On His Way Out
While a full translation has not yet been put online, Pope Benedict XVI, in his final address to the clergy of Rome, made a series of distinctions today between the “true” Second Vatican Council and the “virtual council,” that is, Vatican II as it was portrayed in the popular media and, later, assimilated by large swathes of the Catholic Church. Though the tone of the report is not quite up to the gravity of the Pope’s remarks, the National Catholic Reporter has a decent summary of the address, including B16′s lamentation over the profanation and banalization of the Catholic liturgy.
Some traditionalists will likely embrace the Pope’s comments, but most others will likely drcry the Pope’s apparent refusal to call the entire Council a massive act of heresy. (Of course, not even Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X takes this view. If I recall correctly, he has stated that the Society has no problem with 85% of what came out of the Council itself.) Their reasoning is often simpleminded. Instead of looking at the concrete decisions and policies that yielded closed seminaries, liturgical disasters, and a worldwide priest shortage, they’ll likely tell you that Dignatitis Humane‘s ambiguous teaching on religious liberty was the real root cause. So, too, do traditionalists claim that the very nature of the Novus Ordo Mass drives priests to abandon their vocation and causes the faithful to use birth control. Unless these Catholics can come up with simple cause/effect scenarios, their whole worldview collapses under the weight of the complexities facing the Catholic Church in the 1960s. It’s no surprise that many of these folks believe the post-World War II Church was a paradise where “Leave it to Beaver” Catholicism ruled the day. None of these folks can actually recall such a time. Most of them are too young. But they have all those pretty pictures in their reprinted Missals to look at. That’s how it must have “really been.”
Following the Pope’s abdication announcement, I remember laughing out loud reading the combox on a certain famous traddie blog because someone asked, in all seriousness, which member of the College of Cardinals was “the most Thomist [sic].” This individual no doubt expressed openly a thought more than a few traditionalists have probably pondered despite the fact few of these folks could tell you anything about the Angelic Doctor other than he lived a long time ago, wrote in Latin, and is generally depicted in pictures as a somewhat heavyset man. Then, shortly thereafter, you have a series of blogs trying to tally up lists of every cardinal who has ever celebrated the Tridentine Mass. (The final tally is 11, or 12 — depending on who you ask.) What was the “point” of this exercise? To get the hyperbole flowing, I suppose. So much of it reads like a bad joke, like traddies hoping above all that the next Pope takes the name “Pius XIII” and not “Paul VII” (because, as we all know, the name means everything). Personally, I’m holding out for Urban IX.