Friday, June 24, 2005

Scarlet Spice

One of my favorite exhortations in the Scriptures is the Second Book of Timothy's warning against "teachers who tickle men's ears."

It's a very human temptation to build an echo chamber where all we hear is what we (and others who look, think, and pray like us) are saying, but doing that in this context just politicizes and denigrates a community of faith where mutual respect isn't an option, but a commandment.

Of course, the head table -- the people who keep telling the unwashed that the cafeteria is closed, but only so they can have it to themselves -- flock to such ear-tickling gurus without any heeding a whiff of Timothy. And, as opposed to just saying they disagree with me and why, they love telling me how stupid I am.... Thank you, Honeys. Your faith just shines through. Eat your veggies.

The latest beyond-the-pale revisionist from the "Faux Magisterium" desk is one of their celebrated ones, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney.

Pell -- who, during his decade as archbishop of Melbourne, ordained a group of young lace devotees known around Australia as the "Spice Girls" -- is an EWTN favorite always available for a Raymond Arroyo puff interview. The sessions highly resemble those coreographed "Ask the President" meetings with Bush where, as opposed to questions from the highly vetted audience, the people cry like they're on the Oprah show and thank God for his Administration.

I always like to have faith in the popular intelligence. Obviously, I'm way too idealistic.

But back to Pell. Some weeks ago, I'm told, His Eminence was present at a symposium in Sydney on the Eucharist. Much was made of the following exposition from Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 7:
[Christ] is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross," but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .

Don't get too excited, libs. By no means is this an excuse for "concelebration" by dancing women religious with ukeleles.

The multi-faceted presence, a triumph of ressourcement, is why I get livid whenever Father incenses every statue and candle at the offertory, but the thurifer then ignores the assembly... That moment speaks volumes without a word.

Anyway, at the end of the conference, Pell got up, thanked the presenters, etc. He then launched into an assault on the paragraph quoted above, working from a belief that the Central Commission of the Council was hijacked by moderates, that many of the threads of the Council as promulgated were not the intent of the Fathers of Vatican II, and basically that the four-fold presence was hogwash.

He closed with the favored distinction, "This is just my personal opinion, I'm not speaking as archbishop of Sydney or for the Church."

As it's an academic symposium, the distinction can be respected. And the charade would've held if the good Cardinal, on a following Sunday, decided not to give a homily at one of the Sydney mega-parishes at Fairfield basically reiterating the exclusive presence of Christ in the Eucharist alone, using his teaching authority to discount the Magisterium.

From the other side of the planet, I can hear the Spice Girls wailing about monstrances. Lovely.

As a priest familiar with the situation told me, Pell and his cronies love screaming "Ohhh, the Magisterium! The Magisterium!" as if it's a blunt weapon to beat sodomites and heretics over the head with. The sheer mention of the word makes liberals cringe, or run for a dictionary.

But here we go with both sides putting faith in the spin cycle again.

Just as libs need to realize that the binding Magisterium didn't begin in 1965, cons need to realize that the binding Magisterium didn't end in 1965. And while some on both sides may have an emotional attachment to certain things which do not fit into the church's current understanding of itself, as one of Lawler's loudest screamers (deceptively) calls itself, "Truth over Sentiment" needs to be the focus. (Hey, if nothing else, at least the name's right.)

A source took me into Pell's worldview: "He's a 1958 man, he wants to go back to those days. The way he thinks, back then, Mum and Dad were still together -- there was no divorce. The kids didn't speak up. We had a conservative government that kept things quiet and orderly. Gays were not seen nor heard. Father ran the Church, the nuns and people knew their place and no one spoke up. And he thinks, 'Weren't those great days? We need to get back there.'

"But you have to remember, back then you could bash your wife. Back then, blacks and whites rode on seperate buses. Back then, all these seminarians who love being able to run to St. Peter's Square to celebrate and scream for Benedict's election would have been kept behind closed doors. Etc.... If people really want to go back there, they have to realize everything they'd be getting. Why would anyone want to go back there? ... But George sees all these questions, and says people want truth. But, he's really thinking, they don't want truth so much as certitude. They want to be certain, and that's what made 1958 what it was."

So as opposed to "Truth over Sentiment," it's "Sentiment and Certitude over Truth."

The romanticism of wanting to freeze one's childhood worldview for eternity got Michael Jackson into big trouble. It's not the best course for a church that's supposed to be living as opposed to turned upside-down and sealed in a cyrogenic tube somewhere in Arizona.

Lastly, I want to post two really sterling comments that show how faith always trumps hubris in its dignity. The first is from our own revered Jeff, who said on the dance question:
In the end, I'll do what the Pope says and support what the norms require. And
try to learn from it. Shouldn't others do the same? I'll bow instead of genuflect before Communion if my bishop asks me to. Shouldn't others be willing to forgo their tastes and theories in the interests of universality and obedience as well?

Jeff could teach Cardinal Pell much....

And the last word belongs to a very reasonable person who somehow didn't fail the CWNews psychological test for their posters, i.e. he's sane. Lawler posted an article about Paul Martin, the Canadian PM, calling himself a "very strong Roman Catholic."

Of course, as Martin doesn't see eye-to-eye with George W. Bush (who, according to the revision of history you've been missing, was baptized by Fulton Sheen and confirmed by Cushing), the Tribunal declares that Martin's not as strong as he claims. Deal Hudson, of course, is tres Catholic in the eyes of these same people. Coincidence?

But, while knocking Martin (who said what he said to ward off Fred Henry while the Commons rammed through a gay marriage bill), Heathcliff gives us this pearl of wisdom:
It doesn't seem to have entered the heads of public figures like Paul Martin that it is not a person's prerogative to decide whether he or she is "a strong Catholic." It is the Church's decision to make. The Church is a human institution as well as divine. Every human organization lays down qualifications one must possess in order to have membership. Cafeteria Catholics are Catholic only in name, not in fact.

And the cafeteria is closed -- even for cardinals.



Blogger Jeff said...

Thanks for the quote and the hat tip, Rocco; but PLEASE don't use me as a stick to beat Cardinal Pell with. I can't even figure out what he's supposed to have said wrong, in your eyes, beyond getting some vague sense that he thought there was some kind of problem with balance and emphasis in the wording of a document of the Council.

Since the Pope has expressed the same opinion at times, I can't see what the problem is, as long as Pell accepts the underlying doctrines. Ephesus defined the Sacred Divinity of Christ's person, but it took Chalcedon to balance the accounts by defining his Sacred Human Nature as well.

24/6/05 08:20  
Blogger the Savage said...

I've read many of your posts, but usually counting to ten is enough to calm me down and allow me to not post an outraged comment. The ten-count didn't do it this time. I doubt I am the only one getting rather sick of your pretended "even handedness" between the "cons" (i.e. orthodox Catholics) and radical liberals (i.e. heterodox), positinioning yourself (a moderate liberal) in medio ecclesia. Everybody plays this game. Mark Shea, who you would consider a Pell-Chaput-Lawler loving ultracon, positions himself in the middle by making his straw men on the right the RadTrad nutbars of Novus Ordo Watch. It's a mugs game. As long as you aren't Richard McBrien or Pope Pius XIII Pulvermacher, you can always find somebody on your right or left to position yourself against as the voice of reasonable moderation.

Anyway, to get to your bogus left-right pairing this time of Cardinal Pell and Paul Martin, I think there is no problem in questioning the emphasis of some of the conciliar texts as long as, as Jeff said, one does not question the underlying doctrines. Yes, one can speak of Christ's presence in the reading of the word or the gathered assembly, but this is in no way analogous to the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist. (And by the way, in my FSSP 1962 Missal parish, the server always censes the congregation, and I have never seen a candle or statue being censed, save for the ones on the altar.) If post-conciliar liberals have abused Sacrosanctum Concilium to suggest there is, Cardinal Pell is right to call them on it.

And you are suggesting that his Catholicism is no more orthodox than that of Paul Martin, our "devout Catholic" Prime Minister who supports taxpayer funded abortion on demand up to the ninth month and is now ramming through same-sex marriage, making Canada only the third country in the world to have it?

Never did hear your reply to that quite intelligent question about how you feel about Pope Benedict's clear and blunt condemnation of same-sex marriage, to the point that Cardinal Trujillo called on Catholics in Spain to engage in civil disobedience to stop it or not cooperate with it. True, same-sex marriage may not be the worst evil to occur in history. But surely it is the worst evil at the level of public policy since the creation of the abortion licence in the 1970s, and surely that is worth being concerned about, and not ridiculing those Christians - including the past and present Holy Father - who are.

24/6/05 13:06  

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