Misc. Cath. stuff

10 02 2011

From dotCommonweal, I found this rather interesting link. Here are the money quotes:

A sympathetic priest in Rome who has known Paul for 40 years said recently: “The Pope knows better than anyone else that he is a failure. He has a strong sense of history. After the turmoil following upon the Vatican Council, it will take two or three generations to reconstruct Catholicism. It is Paul’s fate to sit on the papal throne at the worst possible time, beset both by those who want to change nothing. The Vatican Council released demons. Paul, poor fellow, has no friends — at least he has no solid constituency. Right now he may be the loneliest man in the world.”…

Paul has appointed a number of Frenchmen to high Vatican posts, including Cardinal Villot, his secretary of state. Even his Italian appointees tend to a French point of view. “What we need now,” one hears more and more among the Pope’s in-house critics, “is a genuine Italian pope, like John XXIII.” A real Italian they argue, would know how to handle the present crisis of Catholicism, because of the Italian ability to make adjustments when a battle appears to be lost. On the contrary, the Frenchmen around Paul — a group sometimes called the Pope’s French Mafia — reinforce his abstract, overly analytic, intellectualist assessment of the Church’s problem and his disdain of compromise.

Here one should comment that Pope John Paul II’s reign changed everything. Looking at this series of articles, it is hard not to see that it sort of wiped out everything that came before it, both “traditionalist” and “progressive”. I think I would term it a “Napoleonic papacy”, in that it was the revolution in the Church stabilizing itself. But I have argued this line enough before.

Also, Papa Roncalli believed that the Pope has twelve guardian angels.

They are also making noises about beatifying Jacques and Raissa Maritain, which for me was a “WTF!” moment.

Via the In All Things blog, an article from the Economist on the growth of evangelicalism in Latin America. Again, the money quotes:

Some Central Americans switched during the civil wars of the 1980s, when Catholic priests began criticising their governments. To the authorities, “if you were a Catholic you were suspicious,” says Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the assistant bishop of San Salvador. After Archbishop Óscar Romero was murdered in 1980, many turned to Protestant churches.

More recently, the Catholic church’s conservatism has shrunk its flock. Edgar López Bertrand, the founder of the Friends of Israel, says he could not become a Catholic priest because his parents were divorced. Now, the crowd outside his church includes teenage couples and not a few miniskirts. (Should relationship problems arise, the church offers a book called “Help! I’m married”.) The gospel of prosperity, recklessly preached by some evangelical outfits, goes down well in poor countries: Costa Rica and Panama, twice as rich as their neighbours, remain strongly Catholic.

I would point out as well that the Church is weakest in the places where the presence of the clergy was least felt. From this article, it seems that Mexico remains 90% Catholic, but Mexico has also been ruled by an anti-clerical regime for the past one hundred years. The strength of the institutional church is partially due to that.



16 responses

16 02 2011

I apologize for having closed it down briefly. During an analysis of Hebrew Bible and New Testament parallels in the Extraordinary form adult baptism rite, I developed an exceedingly complex exegetical proof. I have tentatively proven that the Latin of the introductory Shema Yisroel prayer is a direct translation from Deuteronomy 6 LXX rather than Mark 12. This is a somewhat important point in my apology against anti-Jewish polemic in radical factions of Catholic traditionalism.

This blog will need serious exegetical and philological research. I have little time to spare since I have actual dissertation preparation to complete. I should not have publicized it prematurely. Perhaps over the summer I can work on philological proofs a bit.

Thank you all for your interest, however. I shouldn’t have brought the site online until I at least got one part of the puzzle down firm.

16 02 2011
Francesca R

Yeah, I want to see it too.

15 02 2011
Olivier le Humanzé

How does one get an invite?

15 02 2011

Click on my name for the site. Sorry to blogvertise.

14 02 2011

I’d be interested in your blog, too. Let us know when it’s up and running!

14 02 2011

I would also be interested in your blog.

14 02 2011


I very much look forward to reading your blog.

By the bye, I seem to remember reading somewhere on this forum that you are currently studying at McGill. I’ve recently been accepted to a grad program at McGill. Small world.

In any case, I look forward to corresponding soon.

14 02 2011

Thanks for the compliments. I am putting together a blog that will discuss the ethical and moral questions that surround traditional Catholic liturgy, observance, and lifestyle. A good portion of bandwidth will be wasted on the cultural, liturgical, social, and theological questions that surround anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism in Catholic traditionalism. I will let you know if this gets off the ground. You might well be my only reader.

Arturo will be glad since I won’t be a continual nuisance on his blog.

13 02 2011


I’ve enjoyed reading your posts online very much. There is a great deal of overlap between your and my stances on theology, philosophy and culture. If you had the time, could you shoot me an email: chanodelbosque at gmail dot com. I apologize if this request sounds odd, but I was hoping to discuss a few things with you via correspondence.

In any case, thanks for the great comments in this forum.

12 02 2011

Thanks. I don’t have any experience of Mexico. I agree that the Pentecostals/evangelicals are viewed as (and view themselves as) more pious, but, I would guess that among Guatemala’s 50% of that group, only 20% or so seem quite pious. A lot of people there are worried that unbaptized children from such backgrounds will no longer have any connection to institutional religion as they wander away from their parents’ intense conversion experiences (just as has often occurred in North American Pentecostalism). So maybe it’s just a temporary effusion of religion as modernity hits, soon to subside.

Good point on indigenous religion. I hadn’t factored in the probable “unorthodoxy” of the Spanish invaders/settlers.

12 02 2011
Arturo Vasquez

Hmmm, not so sure. If anything, Mexico is much more of a secular society than any of these Central American countries. Perhaps Mexico remains Catholic precisely because, in its particular context, Catholicism is much more of a “secular” religion, being a religion that forms the culture, and so forth. Many dismiss modernity as being anti-religious, but if anything, the “religion of the heart” and Biblical fundamentalism are very modern phenomena. Modernity in many cases (perhaps not Western Europe) means that people become more religious, not less. If anything, in many parts of Latin America, it is the evangelicals and Pentecostals who are considered to be the pious ones, and those who remain Catholic see themselves as taking their religion less seriously, as a sort of cultural remnant of the national past.

And those who say they were “never converted in the first place” are propagating an understandable but still unfounded stereotype. In some ways, the conquistadores were “unconverted” and it was a case of the blind leading the blind (if one puts a lot of stock into “Catholic orthodoxy”). Many of the more bizarre esoteric beliefs came from pre-modern Spain, and are not native to these countries. One thinks here of the widespread Mexican belief in the evil eye, which I can assure you, the indigenous people of central Mexico did not have prior to Cortez.

10 02 2011

Let’s question the inherent paradox of Dignitatis Humanae (DH) through these two quotations.

“We believe this unique [and] true religion to reside within (subsistere) in the catholic and apostolic Church. Jesus the Lord entrusted to the Church the duty to generously reach every person.” — DH 1.2, my addition, italics, translation

“This Vatican Synod declares that the human person has the right (ius) to religious liberty. This very same liberty exists by itself since all people ought to be absolutely free from coercion whether as a group or as individuals and of any human power. Indeed, a religious issue neither binds any person to an agenda against his or her conscience or inhibits him or her from acting according to conscience in public or private, within certain bounds (intra debitos limites).” — DH 2.1, italics, bolded text, my translation

Certainly, traditionalist groups such as the SSPX immediately discount DH because the constitution proposes that the Church “resides within” (subsistere) a non-exclusive religious marketplace. The notion of “religious freedom with boundaries” (debitos) in the second quotation from DH tempers the Church’s implicit coexistence with other religions with the Church’s self-identified sovereign right as Christ’s true and unique church. The unclear hedge at the end of the second quotation greatly complicates Catholicism’s relationship with other religions. Are the boundaries of free religious conscience and expression entirely defined by Catholicism as Christ’s sovereign church, or by Catholicism’s participation in the religious market? Must Catholicism seek the mutual consent of other religious groups before praying for them? If the Church retains “reserve powers” over the “right” (ius) of human religious expression, then adherents of other religions do not have an absolute right of religious expression. At the very least, one might well argue that Church reserves for itself and by itself the right to objectify others’ religious experiences for its own salvation narrative.

One might argue that Pope Benedict has “bounded” and objectified the Jewish people’s religious freedom with his new Good Friday bidding prayer.

“May our Lord and God illuminate their [the Jewish people’s] hearts so they might recognize Jesus Christ as the savior of all people.” […] “Almighty eternal God, you wish that all people might be saved and arrive at the recognition (ad agnitionem … veniant) of the truth. When the majority of the nations enter Your Church, all Israel will be saved.” — 2008 revised Good Friday prayer for the Jews, my ellipses, italics, translation.

Israel’s (the Jewish people’s) salvation rests only on the salvation narrative of “the nations” — perhaps even a supersessionist interpretation of the Catholic Church. Judaism’s religious discursive value is not only contingent on Catholicism’s narrative, but also developmentally inferior to the the Christian salvation narrative (“arrive at the recognition”). Are these the bounds proposed in the second quotation from DH?

10 02 2011

Perhaps observers of Central American religion are underestimating the extent to which secularization has taken place there. Even in the religious hotbed of Guatemala, the so-called Pentecostals are often just watching televangelists on Sunday mornings. Then again, there is also the open question of just how much many native people were ever even really converted in the first place.

In any case, I’m suspicious of a writer who thinks that Belize was ever a Catholic stronghold. If anything, recent migration of Spanish-speakers into Belize is causing Catholicism to grow in a mainly Protestant country.

10 02 2011

Paul’s papacy suffered the wrath of God because of that tiara.

10 02 2011

The Pope’s barely tacit cooperation with the SSPX’s manifest anti-Semitic agenda demonstrates that he is not committed to human justice through liturgical reform. I contend that the EF is not just until it is reformed according to Conciliar dictates.

It seems to me that Pope Benedict’s reluctance to change the Liturgy is very much in keeping with the Second Vatican Council’s dictates:

Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

–“Sacrosanctum Concilium” #23

Is the Liturgy a battleground for “human justice”? If anything, it seems to me that the Liturgy is about divine justice, and the language used in Scripture itself is often audacious and scandalous to Jews and Greeks. I don’t know if I want people messing with the Liturgy in the name of “human justice.”

10 02 2011

Arturo: Here one should comment that Pope John Paul II’s reign changed everything. […] it is hard not to see that it sort of wiped out everything that came before it, both “traditionalist” and “progressive”. I think I would term it a “Napoleonic papacy”, in that it was the revolution in the Church stabilizing itself. (my brackets)

While John Paul “stabilized” Church ecclesiology and polity through an artificially enforced rigid theological mold for the human sexual body, Pope Benedict’s reign has introduced a new intolerant liturgical mold. In turn, this mold has created a moral impasse.

Recently I discussed Pope Benedict’s reign with my German professor who is also a Judaic Studies professor. As a young woman, she once attended Passiontide or Holy Week services. Quite rightly, she found the anti-Judaism of the 1962/5 Missal disturbing. Despite her concern and disappointment, she appreciates the Latin language and Roman liturgical heritage. I briefly explained to her the circumstances of Summorum Pontificum (SP) and Pope Benedict’s plausibly supersessionist revision of the 1962 Good Friday bidding prayer for the Jews. I voiced my profound disappointment with Pope Benedict’s refusal to replace the 1962 Good Friday bidding prayer with the 1970 bidding prayer. I voiced my deep suspicion that SP consciously refused to reconcile the older liturgy with Nostra Aetate, Dignitatis Humanae, and other Conciliar statements on human freedom, inter-religious reconciliation, and religious autonomy. In my opinion, Pope Benedict is more interested in the placation of far-right and fundamentalist wings of Catholic traditionalism rather than a just and compassionate reformation of the older liturgy in light of the Church’s historical injustices towards Jews.

I have described Pope Benedict’s inability or refusal to conform the extraordinary form to the Vatican’s current understanding of human justice as a “moral impasse”. The Pope’s barely tacit cooperation with the SSPX’s manifest anti-Semitic agenda demonstrates that he is not committed to human justice through liturgical reform. I contend that the EF is not just until it is reformed according to Conciliar dictates. Pope Benedict’s entertainment of the SSPX and others who advocate hatred will likely mold his historical legacy into a monument of liturgically expressed hatred and not Christian reconciliation with “brother and sister”.

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