Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Vatican II as Catholic Perestroika



It is said that the priestly ordination of lay people in distant communities is necessary, because of the difficulty encountered by ministrants in reaching them. In my view, the setting of the problem in these terms reveals an ingrained clericalism. It seems that where there is no "priest" or "nun" there is no ecclesial life. The basic problem is much more serious. A Church has been created where the laity do not see themselves as protagonists and where there is little or no sense of belonging, a Church that, if there is no "priest", does not work. This is an ecclesiological and pastoral aberration. Our faith, as Christians, is rooted in baptism, not in priestly ordination.
(Father Martin Lasarte)

I really did not take much interest in the Amazon Synod simply because to me it looked like more of the same thing that the Church has been doing for the past fifty years. People got worked up about Pachamama and the issue of lay ordination but to me it really was all about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Still, one guy did catch my attention and that was Father Martin Lasarte, a hand picked representative of Francis, who seemed to have more sense than most when it came to the issues at hand.

Unlike the partisans who pitched battle during the Synod, Lasarte recognised that the Church's problems are much deeper than the superficial issues blathered about in the media. Lasarte recognised that Catholic Church seems to have a serious problem with the laity, regarding them as sort of half-Christians, with the consecrated life being the only true "authentic" Christianity. And, as Lasarte recognises, this "operational" view has devastated the life of the Church.

While many may balk at the proposition, in understanding the trajectory of modern catholic history its useful to think of the Catholic Church as being sociologically similar to the Communist party of the USSR. There was Big Brother (Pope), the Inner Party (Curia), Outer Party (Clergy) and the Proletariat (The faithful). The Party was always right and it was the role of the Proletariat to follow instructions......or else, especially in Pre V2 (Stalinist) times.

Ask any old Commie(Trad) what killed the Soviet Union and they'll all point the finger to Gorbachev, their John XXIII, who initiated the policy of Glasnost and Perestroika, the Soviet Union's version of Vatican II. And they would be right since the system, as it was envisaged, left no room for independent action within it. It also needs to be remembered that many of the men who initiated the policy of Perestroika weren't sentimentalists, rather they could see that they were being out-competed by the West (Modernism) and they had to reform if they were to survive.

Following the collapse of the Soviet system it was felt by all the boffins at Harvard that all one had to do to encourage the flourishing of the free market in Russia was to enshrine property rights, liquidate inefficient industries and lower taxes and all would be hunky dory. But what was never considered is the fact that how do you produce a free market in a people who were for generations deliberately prosecuted for showing any entrepreneurial spirit and who were continually weaned on the nipple of state managerialism. What eighty years of the soviet experience had produced is an economically docile and inept man who had no skills at operating in a free market, and when the market was finally liberalised the only people who had actual authority and initiative made off like bandits, impoverishing the rest of the country.

Likewise, Catholic glasnost came about at the same time as the cultural revolution of the Sixties, and catholic laymen, much like "freed" soviet workers, got to fend for themselves  in the "free market of ideas" with the same observed results. When you start thinking about it the parallels are very eerie.

The reason why perestroika failed to produce the expected benefits in the Soviet Union is because the Stalinist/Leninist system had wiped out the entrepreneurial spirit that is vital in the formation of small to medium businesses, the backbone of any capitalist system. Likewise, the Catholic system had wiped out any form of spiritual entrepreneurialism leaving the laity open to Modernity.  The theologians conflated obedience with faith. and failed to recognise a very deep weakness of the Church.

Lasarte recognises that arguing about all the other stuff is useless unless the fundamentals are sorted out first. He also lists several instances where because of circumstances, the laity were able to build thriving Christian communities in the absence of clergy and one certainly gets the impression that Church governance rather than lay "disobedience" may be more of an issue.   For those who are interested, here are a few pertinent links. 

Amazon Synod: Are married priests really a solution? 

Amazon Synod: New paths and pastoral illnesses (Part Two) 

Evaluating the Synod for the Amazon: Fr Lasarte’s ten ‘likes’ and nine ‘dislikes’


My own thoughts are that any Christian revival of the West is going to be lay led, I also imagine that it will be strongly opposed by large sections of the Clergy.




21 comments:

Hoyos said...

Be prepared I may ramble a bit but I think it’s directly pertinent.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn pointed out that the highest “rank” in the Church isn’t priest or bishop but saint. I wouldn’t go all in on this but my understanding is that “faith” is the active sense of “belief” much like “charity” is the active sense of “love”. Faith in the Christian life is the step by step actions of men being led by God, it’s the normative standard for all Christian life or should be.

Again these are random thoughts but I suspect orthodoxy is the network of sign posts of faith, you’ve got to have it to keep on the right path (people seem to ignore that Jesus didn’t just correct the Samaritan woman’s behavior but also her doctrine), but the point is for the individual person to walk towards God. Going through the motions doesn’t cut it.

At the end of his life Aquinas had some very intense mystical experiences, I believe this is why he described his works as straw. He had drawn the map but once he saw the territory the map just doesn’t really cover it. If the church lay and ordained had stayed on mission, entering the territory, I doubt we would be here. Real Christianity is dramatic beyond belief but if all you see is the map, i think that’s just not where God wants you to stop.

I think we’re not really trying to dial in on walking with God. That’s why the works of Protestant John Eldredge and Catholic Jacques Phillipe are so startling compared to what most people experience in church on Sunday. If God doesn’t build it, we’re laboring in vain. I’m not in a position to judge the spirituality of the vast apparatus of the church, but I think we all know something is sideways, in the church and our daily lives. The temptation on the liberal side is the worldliness of unbelief and the temptation on the conservative side is the worldliness of more and better maps, a “self reliant” approach to sanctity.

MK said...

SP: Christian revival of the West is going to be lay led, I also imagine that it will be strongly opposed by large sections of the Clergy.

Your laity/clergy cage fight is amusing to me. Clearly, God has made our lives to easy. Revival?? Snort. The West is meekly following Europe & the 7 churches of Revelation into the dustbin of history. It's our choice. Hell, the laity, the wealthiest people in the history of humanity, don't even have 2.1 children, let alone live lives on fire for Christ. This is kinda hard for me to blame on my clergy, since they aren't in my bedroom...

The hard truth: Moderns (clergy and laity both) are simply not Christian in belief or lifestyle and will splinter and fade in the same way. In truth, we couldn't enjoy a drink with Benedict or Ignatius or Augustine or Aquinas or JPII, let alone Jesus. Not enough in common.

The USSR analogy is apt: The revolution didn't happen "to" Russia, it happened "because" of them, both clergy & laity. Likewise in the West, only the countercultural will be saved.

First-world religious complaints are really sad. The reality? these are the very best of times to be Christian in the West. My ancestors are envious at such peace and prosperity. My progeny will tell stories and exclaim: why heck was more not accomplished for the Kingdom with our largess?

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP. Probably the problem derives from historically-recent Catholic life being structured around the spine of frequent Mass. This requires a priest.

But such frequent Mass is a relatively modern reform, and in principle could be changed; for example, frequent Mass substituted with some other liturgy that could be laity-led.

Bruce B. said...

@BruceC. It seems to me the more immediately necessary function of the priest is the sacrament of confession and absolution - laity cannot do this – this seems like a bigger deal than the frequency of mass.

Chent said...

@MK

About the West going to the dustbin of history, I agree wholeheartedly.

"The reality? these are the very best of times to be Christian in the West."

Really? This seems a non-sequitur to me. Your reasoning boils down to:

A. This is the wealthiest age in the history of mankind (I agree)

C. Hence, this is the best of times to be Christian in the West (I don't agree).

Of course, as William Lane Craig says, C does not follow from B and there must be a hidden premise. IMHO, the hidden premise is:

B. The wealthier an age is, the easier is to be Christian.

B is not warranted. In fact, history and geography proves that poorer ages and poorer countries are more religious. As a missionary friend of mine used to say, "if the harvest is good, they will stop believing in God". People look for God only in hard times. We are a bunch of bastards.

In my country, about 60 years ago, my grandfather had it easy to be Christian. Everybody was Christian and nobody could conceive another worldview. Atheism was unheard of. Liberalism was unheard of. Islam, Buddhism and even Protestantism were unheard of. Now I have Muslim neighbors and most of my neighbors are not Christian.

My grandfather was taught by Christian teachers, instead of my nephews, who are currently being taught by anti-Christian teachers. All mass media were Catholic, instead of current anti-Christian media. All people (family and friends) were Catholic. The entire life was arranged around the Catholic calendar and the Catholic faith. A different way of life was unthinkable. The only psychologists were the priests in confession.

It was difficult for my grandfather to sin sexually, because sexual sin was completely forbidden in my country. Contraceptives and abortion did not exist. Marriage was for life and divorce was forbidden. Adultery was a crime. When you wanted a public job, you had to give a "Certificate of Good Behavior", written by a parish priest.

Fast-forward 60 years. I won't speak the problem of conciliating the Christian worldview with science or Bible criticism (my grandfather had no such problem). Most times I go to Mass in my country, I am the youngest one (I am 49 years old). The next youngest one is about 80 years old.

People are completely against Christianity, ranging from disinterest to pure hate. Sexual sin is widespread and sexual temptations are easy and numerous. Profanation of churches is not uncommon.

It would be nice to use the Church as a shelter, but you can't. When I want to go to confession, the priests do not have any confession schedule. Many priests do not follow the Christian doctrine. The Pope is making ceremonies to worship a pagan goddess inside the Vatican.

Sometimes I think: "What if I am the one who has it wrong? When people attack God in the most humiliating way, where is God? Am I wasting my life making sacrifices for a God (the Christian God) that does not exist?". And I am the most religious person in my family, by far.

The Social Pathologist said...

@MK

I agree that we live in prosperous times and we're certainly not suffering the same persecutions that Christians did in Communist Russia or North Korea, yet the environment over the past 10 years has become increasingly hostile towards Christians.

One of the attributes of wisdom is foresight, and it doesn't take much to see that if things don't change then the persecution of Christians will ramp up. Imagine yourself as young Christian in Berlin, 1913. If I told you that in 30 years your country would be persecuting Christians, performing human experiments, industrialising the murder of populations and the setting up of concentration camps you would have said that I was mad, and yet it is what happened.

@Bruce B

It's my understanding that while the laity cannot forgive sins, perfect contrition by the layman leads to the remission of sin. So, in a sense a priest, is not necessary even then.

@Bruce Charlton

I think you're onto something there. Catholicism seems far more Church/Mass focused with the priest playing a lead role. "Clerical stuff" then assumes a far greater position in Catholic thought and pastoral practice since the theology has them involved in everything. The laity have very little independence in this schema, with the result that clericalism is inbuilt into the day-to-day lives of Catholics. Protestantism gives the individual far more scope to act independently.

The problem with Catholicism is that the laity have no control, the problem with Protestantism is that the laity is apt to lose control. Looking at the trajectory of Protestantism over the last 200 years, reinforces my idea for the need of a priesthood, but looking a Catholicism convinces me that the laity and the priesthood need more distance from each other. There needs to be a shepherd but he needs to keep a watchful eye on the sheep, not controlling their every step.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Hoyos

Again these are random thoughts but I suspect orthodoxy is the network of sign posts of faith, you’ve got to have it to keep on the right path

Profound and true.

At the end of his life Aquinas had some very intense mystical experiences,

Surprisingly, this has been on my mind for the past few months and I think this line of thinking opens up what went wrong with Catholicism in the 20th C.

I believe this is why he described his works as straw. He had drawn the map but once he saw the territory the map just doesn’t really cover it.

A lot of the nouvelle theologians started their careers dissing on Thomas but with deeper study came to see that they were wrong and not him. I think his mystical experiences are the key to understanding his writings and the "Map/Territory" problem.

Yep, his mystical experiences were an experience of the "territory", his writings the "map" and clearly what he saw led him to the conclusion that the map was an inadequate expression of the territory. In the same way that a written description of a beautiful woman in no way conveys the visual experience of her.

The problem with Manualistic tradition in Scholasticism is that it became so pre-occupied with map that it kind of forgot about the territory. At its very worst it became disassociated from the territory and the map became self-contained. Traditionalists became so enamored of the map that if some guy came back with glimpses of the territory and wanted to correct the map, he'd be ignored on punished. Christianity had become cartography, not exploration.

Serious minds like Rousselot, Blondel, De Lubac and others recognised this problem but were pilloried and thought subversive for raising the fact. It was only really until about V2 to that they were acknowledged. However, the revolution in theology they led was co-opted by lesser minds with the result that Thomism was deligitimised and personal mystictism started influencing Catholic theology. i.e. they started throwing out the map.

As Rousselot recognised, faith gives people eyes but as the fathers teach us, faith-- for most people--only gives an imperfect vision, and what is seen can't, to a degree, contradict the map, since it was built upon the testimony of others. Therefore, any new insight has to build upon the vision of those in the past not regard it as illegitimate.

The problem with modern theology is with the demise of the legitimacy of Thomism, everyone's personal Jesus becomes their insight into the faith. So we get modern rubbish like the abolition of the Death Penalty which is next to impossible to square up with biblical texts. But its OK since the Pope is a man of deep faith by virtue of his office. (Note I'm not dissing Francis here but the Ultramontanists who made the Papacy beyond any reproach.)

I agree, God is not the map, and we need a glimpse of the territory if we are to truly to believe.

Bruce B. said...

@ SP. Act of perfect contrition, yes that's what the Church teaches. But how do I know if I am sorry merely for offending God? With the priest comes the sacrament - the visible sign of the invisible grace - I can know for sure.

John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist
"The problem with Catholicism is that the laity have no control, the problem with Protestantism is that the laity is apt to lose control. Looking at the trajectory of Protestantism over the last 200 years, reinforces my idea for the need of a priesthood, but looking a Catholicism convinces me that the laity and the priesthood need more distance from each other. There needs to be a shepherd but he needs to keep a watchful eye on the sheep, not controlling their every step."

The benefit of the protestant way of doing thing is that heretics and apostates are more likely to show their true allegiances.

The absence of control compared to Catholicism enables them to peel off and show themselves more easily. Making the division between those with God and those against God more stark.

Plus God seem to cull protestants more thoroughly in a shorter timeframe. Liberal Protestantism dies off much more rapidly for example.

Compared to many fake "Catholics" who infiltrate the church structure and stay there to subvert. And many sodomites who strangely enough aren't swept away with a plague.

The sexual abuse by priests is equivalent to my eyes to supposing the truth of the Catholic faith the sacrilege of Nadab and Abihu with their strange fire offering which merited instant death.

The fact that Priests doesn't seem to work with such a threat of death which is evident by the attached bells to their priestly clothing as with the Aaronic and Levite Priesthood is a mystery.

When it ought to have been more stringent in terms of the chastisements and judgments of God on this earth.

MK said...

Likewise, the Catholic system had wiped out any form of spiritual entrepreneurialism leaving the laity open to Modernity. The theologians conflated obedience with faith. and failed to recognise a very deep weakness of the Church.

I have a strange reaction to this post as I mull it over. Here's what's bothering me:

1. I certainly agree the laity has failed to become viable.
2. The Church agrees: VII was a desperate attempt to make this happen. It failed.

Where I disagree: you think the clergy sabotaged the laity from taking ownership. I see the opposite: the clergy abrogating as much responsibility to their non-Christian laity as they could, and refusing to preach the hard gospel. The clergy took the easy road. I'm all for VII and the laity taking the reigns under the watchful eye of the clergy. That's not what happened in the USA. Rather, the clergy went of holiday and the worst of the liberals took over the parishes.

Finally: there is absolutely nothing stopping any member of the laity today from living out the faith. My parishes are ghost towns - nobody can sing, nobody can serve. It's wide-open as the Boomers die off. There are no Gen-X to take the reigns.

I think all the confusion is demographic - the Boomers are just now dying off, and many Gen-X types who were rebuffed a decade ago are too pissed off to try again. I say: try again. The Boomers destroyed the church by not replacing their population, and Gen-X is doing even worse. The clergy is following right along. But have no worries: the money is drying up, the clergy will be desperate. It's wide open, and it will get really, really rough. If you are active laity, you are now in demand.

John Rockwell said...

Also another thing that I have noticed. The inherently erotic nature of relating to our Lord which is inherent in romance and thereby the bridal mysticism of the 12th century as documented by Leon J Podles.

May have played a huge role in drawing sodomites to the priesthood. Because for men to undergo such a form of worship is to effeminate themselves as a passive partner.

And is conducive to sodomite tendencies.

Contrast that with the Eastern Orthodox way of relating to Jesus combined with no requirement for celibacy for the Priesthood.

Showing Romance has no part to play in worship. Because in scripture it shows that Romance is inseperable from the erotic demonstrated in Song of Solomon.

MK said...

What's lost on this thread? Christianity today is dominated by demographics not irst-world religious foibles like mass frequency/bad clergy/bridal mysticism. VII was the 1st Council with a minority of Western bishops, who quickly dropped "no meat on Friday" because most Christians didn't get meat anytime, making it moot. Get used to this trend. No kids? No faith. No future. QED.

EO is in the worst shape; no solutions there as EU is 12% of world Christians and imploded ~8% in the last century. Why? >3/4 live in the West! RC/Prots grow only due to their presence in Asia/Africa. I repeat: who cares what the West is doing? We know them by their works.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Bruce

I'm not saying the priesthood is not necessary for access to the sacraments(and other reasons) rather the "centrality" of priesthood in Catholicism is probably misplaced. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the religious "centre of gravity" in Catholicism is found in the priesthood while in Protestantism it is in the laity. What's really interesting in some of Father Lasarte's comments is that a well motivated laity can do quite fine without a priesthood and that's not the traditional way of thinking about religious affairs, especially in Catholicism.


@ John Rockwell

It really all depends on how you see God; either a merciful father or a hanging judge.
Hell is for eternity, and I don't think he wants to send anyone there. When it comes to the Last Judgement, I think that we will all be amazed at the efforts He spent trying to get people to get back on the straight and narrow.

The inherently erotic nature of relating to our Lord which is inherent in romance and thereby the bridal mysticism of the 12th century as documented by Leon J Podles.

I think that there is a lot of scope for error when people go "mystic", though I don't think the whole Church-as-Bride-of-Christ thing is bringing in the homo's. I think that there are other factors at play. It's interesting that Aquinas said nothing about his vision.

@MK

Where I disagree: you think the clergy sabotaged the laity from taking ownership

There needs to be an ordered hand over of power, not a simple abrogation.
If you go to the perestroika link I put up in the post, you'll see that the Chinese handled reform differently to the Russians. The Chinese first allowed small scale ownership to build an entrepreneurial class and then progressively relaxed the rules. The Russians just liberalised the economy with no "managerial" training for the people. The results speak for themselves.

Centuries of clerical control meant that Catholicism really had no lay leaders or a culture of lay initiative like the Protestants did and so we got the Russian result.

As for demographics I do think the rise of other nations will have an impact on the Church.

John Rockwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

I think you misunderstand Bridal mysticism. Its about the individual soul becoming the woman in the relationship. And that the implications of bridal mysticism is that men must become women in order to be truly Christian.

Its all there in Chapter six of this link to the PDF. Direct quotations from Monks and other mystics themselves. The basis of the elevation of women are more holier than men as well.

Its not about Mercy. Its about misplaced eroticism. And advocating for psychological transvestism on men's part.

http://podles.org/church-impotent.htm

John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

I agree about what you say about God's mercy. However the lack of repentance would in my opinion be only brought to a head with a plague like I said.

Many sodomites repented of their ways and believed after Aids ravaged their bodies and humbled them. Those priests need to be humbled in the same way.

If they are at the height of power and helping to damn many more souls is not good at all.

John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

Just a question. How do we know that confession wouldnt be useful for blackmail and intelligence gathering?

The Social Pathologist said...

@JR

Its about the individual soul becoming the woman in the relationship.

See, what I mean about the errors of mysticism is that the mystic is mistaken for the temporal. The Mystical Church as the "Bride of Christ" doesn't translate into the me of here-and-now being Christs' bride. In the same way I am my wife's husband I cant really say that my gall bladder is my wife's husband as well. The constituent is not the whole, though I can see how some religious zealots could mistake this.

As I've said before, I believe the feminisation of the Church has come about more because of Manichieanism/Buddhist biases rather than erotic ones.

I do hope to have a look a podles book when I get the chance.

Just a question. How do we know that confession wouldnt be useful for blackmail and intelligence gathering?

That really is an odd approach to the subject.


John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

"That really is an odd approach to the subject."

Its been a question that has been brewing in my head for some time. So I asked this question because I do not believe its too far beyond this diabolical world to do so.



"See, what I mean about the errors of mysticism is that the mystic is mistaken for the temporal. The Mystical Church as the "Bride of Christ" doesn't translate into the me of here-and-now being Christs' bride. In the same way I am my wife's husband I cant really say that my gall bladder is my wife's husband as well. The constituent is not the whole, though I can see how some religious zealots could mistake this.

As I've said before, I believe the feminisation of the Church has come about more because of Manichieanism/Buddhist biases rather than erotic ones.

I do hope to have a look a podles book when I get the chance."

I believe the PDF will help inform your view somewhat. I hope to see a review not too far in the future.

Nate Winchester said...

In LotR, the evil races are made by corrupting the originals. Orcs come from elves, trolls from ents (IIRC), etc.

Now you have made me wonder if in a similar manner, communism is the devilish corruption of Catholicism.

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