Papal Fantasy: Romancing the Past


Gloriously Afloat in a Little Sea of  Catholic Fundamentalism

While the Rest of Humanity Confronts Real Issues

Dominus Vobiscum: A new Vatican instruction, issued 13 May 2011,  calls on local bishops and pastors to respond generously to Catholics who seek celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite. The instruction, issued May 13, said pastors should approve such Masses for groups of faithful, even when such groups are small or are formed of people from different parishes or dioceses. These faithful cannot, however, contest the validity of the modern Mass or the authority of the pope. The instruction said that bishops should make sure seminarians are trained in celebrating the Tridentine rite, or “extraordinary form” of the Mass.

Friday Abstinence: The bishops of England and Wales are re-establishing the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays as a penance to identify with Christ on the cross. In the resolutions published from their spring plenary assembly, which concluded Thursday, 12 May 2011, the bishops announced the re-establishment of the practice, to go into effect September 16, 2011. The date for the re-establishment of meatless Fridays marks the anniversary of Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom on September 16th last year.

Progressive bishops are seen as more dangerous than those engaged in sex abuse: As has been reported, the Vatican has taken decisive action against an “errant” Australian bishop, showing that it has a zero tolerance policy towards deviants. Bishop William Morris, who was forced to resign (for wanting to discuss married priests, women priests and an ecumenical understanding of holy orders) was not guilty of sexual abuse. On the contrary, the Toowoomba, Australia bishop has been a noted supporter of abuse victims in his diocese, and widely admired as a sensitive pastoral leader. At the same time, the Vatican has fast-tracked the beatification of John Paul II, the pope who denied that pedophilia was a problem in the church and gave great support to sexual abusers like his friend Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer of Vienna who abused 2,000 boys over several decades.

Opus Dei liturgy: Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver, Colorado, seems to have already succumbed to the liturgical virus spreading out from Rome. Speaking at the Midwest Theological Forum in Valparaiso, Indiana, on 25 April 2011: “One of his altar servers left us this description of how St. Josemaría Escrivá used to pray the Mass…..For [St. Josemaría], the liturgy was not a formal act but a transcendent one. Each word held a profound meaning and was uttered in a heartfelt tone of voice. He savored the concepts. Josemaría seemed detached from his human surrounding and, as it were, tied by invisible cords to the divine. This phenomenon peaked at the moment of consecration. Josemaría seemed to be disconnected from the physical things around him and to be catching sight of mysterious and remote heavenly horizons.”

Concluding thought for this week:

“There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality,

for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.

When our life feeds on unreality, it must starve.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude.

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