j0181253A number of Catholics and Protestants still recall the bolt of lightning hitting St Peter’s Basilica a few weeks ago when Pope Francis was elected.

The Pope’s behaviour since then continues to perplex the faithful. He has shunned most of the papal wardrobe, including small but significant attire, such as the pallium, a simple stole which symbolises Christ as the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb on His shoulders. It transpires that Pope Francis will eschew living in the papal apartments, choosing instead to live at the Santa Marta residence with the cardinals.

Late last week I wrote about the controversy his Maundy Thursday Mass created.

Today’s post presents a simple summary of the beginnings of Vatican II in the 1950s and why this history gives traditional Catholics cause for alarm.

Let us first recall that Pope St Pius X formally declared Modernism a heresy in 1907 (read here and here).

Nonetheless, less than 50 years later (emphases mine):

After the Second World War, a few Modernists assumed control of the new Commission for Reform of the Liturgy.  They strongly influenced Pope Pius XII and John XXIII.  The top three in the group were Father Annibale Bugnini (later to become Archbishop, then Cardinal), Cardinal Lercaro and Cardinal Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.  During Paul VI’s time as Pope, Archbishop Bugnini was the chief  architect of the New Mass, or Novus Ordo.  He devised it during Vatican II (1962-1965) and it was made official in 1969.  Archbishop Bugnini described the new liturgy as ‘a major conquest of the Catholic Church’.  And how!  The Novus Ordo is still said today — one cannot escape it.  Fr Bonneterre concludes that Archbishop Bugnini was ‘a revolutionary more clever than the others, he who killed the Catholic liturgy before disappearing from the official scene’.  (Suspecting Bugnini of being a Freemason, Paul VI sent him to a post in Iran, where he died in 1982.)

Lest we think it all ended with Paul VI, it should be noted that three other future Popes also had prominent roles to play in Vatican II: the future John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Father Joseph Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict was known at the time, was a theological consultant.  He later headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

When I was growing up, the priests and nuns told us that Vatican II was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure all of them believed that, but it was so opposed by most in the pews that it needed a few coats of gloss so the kiddies would accept it:

Personally, I don’t think that Popes John XXIII and Paul VI – or more properly, Cardinal Bugnini and modernist theologians – were divinely inspired in carrying out the Vatican II brief.  It’s interesting that most Catholic priests say that all the horrendous developments afterward — nuns dressing like office workers, the decline in Mass attendance, a new Missal every few years, pedestrian priests’ vestments and guitar music —  came ‘post-Vatican II’.  ‘Churchmouse, what you are describing was not part of the Second Vatican Council.  So, you are wrong.  Those all came about afterward.’ 

This means that Vatican II was so bad that priests disassociate its other developments!  In defending it they therefore must deny its outcome: the natural progression from the mysterium tremendum to the downright pedestrian.

Cardinal Bugnini was also responsible for introducing the Lectionary, which I’ll cover in another post. He also introduced the expression ‘Ordinary Time’ for designating the Sundays after Pentecost.

Therefore, to my Protestant friends wondering why I’m wasting time on the papacy, a large number of denominations do use the Lectionary. This was part of the spirit of ecumenism which influenced Catholic and Protestant theologians and clergy in the early 1970s.

I would also posit that Vatican II gave Protestants greater licence in establishing suburban congregations in shopping malls. Back in 2009, I borrowed a few telling comments from one of Damian Thompson’s posts for the Telegraph:

Benedict Carter, Nov. 30, 3:35 p.m.: … Going to Mass was the highlight of the week and the whole world of Catholicism was in our home constantly… And for this New Mass, with its centre of gravity NOT Christ above the individual soul (a vertical relationship) but the Collective (a horizontal relationship), there was needed a new physical orientation: priest and people face each other; the Tabernacle to which I knelt and prayed as a small boy thrust out of sight into some alcove chapel. All barriers (altar rails) ‘denying’ the Collective its rightful dignity were removed so that the Sanctuary became the whole Church (no more holy place); new Churches built to more represent an ampitheatre where the Collective can gather round each other rather than the Churches of all our forefathers that were built in one dimension – vertically, a line from the faithful to the priest and deacons to God in His Tabernacle.

Pascal, Nov. 30, 8:55 p.m.: … I agree with all the trad arguments but we don’t have that kind of intellectual body of faithful anymore. Most never experienced the old Mass and it would be very hard for them to switch back to the older form ..

On the Side of the Angels, Nov. 30, 10:48 p.m.: … there is simply no training in how to celebrate an ordinary form mass; so clerics invariably do as little as possible , or what they think is right, or what they think might add a little pizzazz to the rituals…

…and it’s not on !!!

Fr Jonathan, Nov. 30, 10:58 p.m.: I think you are right in saying how little real training there is in celebrating the Mass. Perhaps following an era of excessive adherence to every detail … produced a backlash.
But even if that’s a reason it’s no good at all as an excuse. Since the Mass is the most important thing we can ever do, the right way of doing it surely should be an essential part of the training of priests. For the good of everyone the Mass – in whatever form or rite – should be celebrated with due dignity and decorum.
And if proper training is not given, what does that suggest except that it’s not really important?

Now, on to the papacy, beginning with Benedict XVI’s abdication earlier this year. What follows is the risk that many see, although Professor Alberto Melloni attempted to put it into perspective for the Toronto Star:

The move immediately weakened the power of the office: if a pope can resign, maybe he can be pushed out, too. The radical step reminded everyone that a pope is a man and not “some demigod,” said Melloni, a leading church analyst with the University of Modena.

The Catholic Church is awash in nouvelle théologie, as never before.

On Good Friday 2013, The Preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, preached on a story of Franz Kafka’s, An Imperial Message. Rorate Caeli has more (much more at the link, emphases in the original):

Here is the main excerpt:

… We must do everything possible so that the Church may never look like that complicated and cluttered castle described by Kafka, and the message may come out of it as free and joyous as when the messenger began his run. We know what the impediments are that can restrain the messenger: dividing walls, starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy, the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris …

As happens with certain old buildings. Over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins. This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: “Go, Francis, and repair my Church”.

In the comments section, Rorate Caeli readers were rightly unhappy (emphases mine):

John Fisher: Papa Cantalamessa is seeking to influence the pope! What an impertinent ignoramous! This is the agenda of Bugnini. You would think living amongst the ruins of ancient Rome he would grasp many old building are just simple ruins with all the beauty and ORIGINAL beauty destroyed by barbarians.
In his Encyclical Mediator Dei (1947), Pope Pius XII warned against those who attempt to subvert the Faith under the pretext of a return to primitive practice: such persons represent “a wicked movement that tends to paralyze the sanctifying and salutary action by which the liturgy leads the children of adoption on the path to their Heavenly Father.”
In the same document, the Pope went on to further explain that “the desire to restore everything indiscriminately to its ancient condition is neither wise nor praiseworthy. It would be wrong, for example, to want the altar restored to its ancient form of a table . . . and pictures and statues excluded from our churches . . . This attitude is an attempt to revive the ‘archeologism’ to which the pseudo-synod of Pistoia gave rise; it seeks also to reintroduce the many pernicious errors which led to that synod and resulted from it and which the Church . . . has rightly condemned.”

Benedict Carter: … Indeed, it appears that the capacity of intelligent men to see basic cause and effect has been somehow negated by some kind of shadow that can only be demonic …

The original Franciscans soon degenerated into the “Spirituals”, the Fraticelli, the radicals who took up arms and had to be destroyed by force of arms. Theirs is a radical call to compassion which un-directed soon becomes revolutionary

Justice & Peace, the “preferential option for the poor”, “compassion”, are now the law of the Church, not the Salvation of Souls …

Tenebrae: It is bizarre that a Catholic preacher should take as his key text a book by the bleak existentialist Frank Kafka. Presumably no text in Holy Scripture existed that met the “destruction agenda.” I find this sermon terrifying. It is a manifesto for destruction of the spiritual and temporal legacy of the church. And as well already know from the legacy of Vatican 2 it will not work.
The metaphor of a building is flawed. The church is more like a living tree than a building. Severe pruning will not turn a mighty ancient oak back to a sapling it will simply disfigure or even kill the tree.

Ora et Labora: This is what we’ll see pretty soon during Papal Masses, I mean, if this is how Francis celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for children, for the young people who will attend the WYD [World Youth Day], and for the Church in general the Papal Masses won’t be much different.
MISA DE NIÑOS 2011 – 3.wmv:


Francis calls the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a meal (“esta comida”) and in minute 14:12 to minute 14:17 the deacon says having celebrated the party of Jesus we can go in peace (“habiendo celebrado la fiesta de Jesus podemos ir en paz”) …

Alsaticus: Fr Cantalamessa has always been a sort of liberal : he just wore his wojtylian/ratzingerian mask well and was cunning enough to fool two popes, sorry, “bishops of Rome”.
Now he is removing the mask : plain and simple.
all is nearly a quote of Hans Urs von Balthazar’s pamphlet “Rasez les bastions” (1952) in English : “Razing the Bastions : on the Church in This Age” which is often seen as a sort of draft for the “spirit of the Council”.

Fr von Balthasar left the … Society of Jesus in 1950.

Hilltop: I carry the point further to speculate if we are not seeing Cantalamessa picking up on Pope Francis’ gentle but obvious iconoclasms to date? No mozetta, intentionally limited use of the Stole, intentionally limited use of the pallium, intentionally limited use of the mitre, no red slippers, intentionally limited use of the pectoral cross, “call me Francis”,”call me Jorge”, “no Papal apartment for me, thanks”, “no need for all Cardinals to swear allegiance” … I recite the above not as an accuser but as an observer. If we have an iconoclast in our present Holy Father, or if we have in our present Holy Father a Pope who permits iconoclasm in others, we might as well recognize the signs so that we may be aware.

Prof. Basto: … And today, in Pope Francis’ quick and radical ignoring of the rubrics and abandonment of liturgical and extraliturgical ceremony, we see a radicalized version of the Spirit of Vatican II.

As for Fr. Cantalamessa, the John Paul II appointed, Benedict XVI maintained, Preacher of the Pontifical Household, he has always been an arch-liberal.

And his Good Friday homily is nothing but a rallying cry, asking the Pope to implement a radical vision of the “Spirit of Vatican II” by means of a total Rupture with the past.

The very meaning of the order given to St. Francis “Go and rebuild my Church” is distorted and perverted. It is made to sound like an order (directed to Pope Francis) for a refoundation of the Church on a completely new basis, a re-edification of the Church as if in a “New Pentecost”. It is the radicalism of the Vatican II age, of the sixties and seventies all over again.

And, in reality, this call, under the pretext of restoring the primitive, linear aspect, of the ecclesiastical edifice, is nothing but a call for the DEMOLITION OF THE CHURCH

And that is only in the first twenty days of his Pontificate. Today is the 20th day of Pope Francis’ Pontificate, including the date of the election. He has not yet even taken posession of his Cathedra at the Lateran, and yet so many symbols and ceremonies have already been changed and simplified …

Finally, as expected, few are surprised by the calls from Occupy-type Catholics about selling the Church’s goods ‘for the poor’. Two points here. One, throughout the centuries the faithful contributed hard-earned money for the Church’s treasures. So, they are Catholics’ heritage through the centuries — regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Catholicism’s premise and distortions. Two, aren’t the Occupy Catholics — perhaps including the Pope himself — saying the same as Judas did when Martha and Lazarus’s sister Mary poured precious spikenard on our Lord’s feet?

The Catholic Church’s possessions have been used for the glory of God for centuries. Storefront worshippers will disagree with this premise, but, human nature being what it is, there was a time when many — especially illiterates — came to God through the aethereal atmosphere that the Church offered to everyone, bringing them that much closer to Heaven once a week.

The Catholic Church is in crisis. Pope Francis’s ‘reform’ involves something which is not entirely his heritage or legacy to give away or abolish. It belongs to all Catholics. He is but its guardian.

Would that he concentrated more on saving souls instead of managing what increasingly appears to be an NGO.

Tomorrow: Catholics say Bugnini’s Lectionary has changed perception of God