Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking Forward

Throughout my life, I have noticed the phenomenon wherein people who are deeply involved in something personally or professionally begin to lose perspecitve on their pursuit, ant take things in an extreme direction to the point where outside observers - even interested sympathetic ones - are puzzxled or disgusted at the behaviors of the "true believers".  I have seen this phenomenon in ever field from animal breeding to zoning and development ordinance writing, and being the type of person who has little compunction about pointing out the emperors lack of clothes have oft found myself recieving the wrath of those "true believers".  It turns out that Aesop was only partially right in his fable.  In real life, when someone points out the emperor's lack of clothing, the naked one doesn't get embarrased - he lashes out at the one who had the temerity speak the truth.

Watching the ongoing, intemittent, saga of the attempted reconciliation of the Society of Saint Pius the Tenth  (SSPX) and the rest of the Catholic Church one can see that phenomenon coming to light on both parties to the process.

On the side of "The Vatican" there is a sincere and concerted attempt by the Holy Father to move things forward.  Witness by His Holiness in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum wherein he said "Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity".  Yet there are also, within the curia, a lot of those "true believers" I mentioned above.  In this case the object of their obsession is their irrational love and  dedication to Vatican II - or rather their own personal interpretation of what Vatican II meant.  To this group, any mention or even slight implication that anything related to or attributed to "Their Council" was less than perfect, right, and God's Will will bring upon the offendor scorn, critcism, banishment, imprisonment, excommunication, artillery fire, aerial bombardment, and whatever else they can conjure up.  To one for whom The Church was "born" in 1964 and the previous 19 centuries were merely some sort of ecclesiatical gestation period any suggestion that anything significant happened "in utero" is an anethema.  To this batch of "true believers" the SSPX is the embodiment of all they deplore.

On the side of the SSPX, things are not quite as bad.  Not because of the strength of the beliefs but because the focus of that belief - certain aspects of Vatican II - are relatively small and discrete items.  By and large the SSPX loves The Church completely.  They have certain problems with the happenings - many of the happenings - of the last 50 years, but they love The Church.  The problem the SSPX faces is that there is a core of "true believers" who seem to let their focus on the problems of the last 50 years spill over into their assessment of everything that has happened in those same years. Their logic is as follows: Vatican II was in some way diabolical.  Everything that happened after Vatican II is tainted in some way by it. Therefore, everything that came after Vatican II is in some way diabolical.  Having lived through the turmoil of the past 5 decades I know that it has been terrible for The Church in so many ways, but at the same time throughout it all there have been legions of good, holy priests trying to keep the faith in a situation where it isn't easy to do.  To this group even the most positive statements by the most faithful orthodox Bishop are subjected to a fusillade of snark and disdain - as seen in some of the comments here.  I know there is a difference between the comments of a random person on a blog and the comments of someone in the curia, but that is beside the point.  Be they an outsider, pewsitter, priest, bishop, or cardinal the attitude is the same.

Unless and until the people in charge of how things proceed sit down together and cast aside all of the extra junk which has been layered unnecessarily on top of the few - but important - real differences, this reconciliation will never be consummated and will remain bogged down in the mire which has been heaped upon the core of the problem over the past 50 years.

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