The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI marks the beginning of dark times for traditional Catholics. His successor, Francis, despite frequent and copious praising of his predecessor, before and after his death, has made it clear whatever high regard he may have held for Benedict, it was reserved for him and him alone, not his legions of supporters for whom he displays increasing scorn and contempt. Many lay Catholics enthusiastically embraced Benedict’s “reform of the reforms,” that is, his clamping down on the grossly inappropriate and irreverent practices that spread like cancer following the so-called reforms of Vatican II. Benedict made strides at least limiting, if not eliminating, those practices, some of which bordered on, or even crossed over to, the heretical.
Without question though, Benedict’s greatest reform was permitting Catholics to worship in what is still the official language of Holy Church, Latin, and employing usus antiquior, the ancient rite, its present form dating back to the Council of Trent, 1545-63, but much of it going back to the eighth century. Furthermore, Benedict stipulated that though parishes were not required to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, or “TLM,” as it is commonly known, if there were sufficient numbers of parishioners who requested it, every effort had to be made to accommodate them.
Even though Benedict did nothing to curb the celebration of Novus Ordo, the modern mass said in the vernacular, other than correcting some abusive practices, this writer believes it was his restoring TLM to contemporary worship that so infuriated the left-wing modernists in the Vatican, whose numbers are far greater than those of the traditionalists, and which made him many enemies. As long as he was pope however there was little they could do to thwart the return of traditional Catholic worship and practices. Even after his resignation, Benedict’s presence, close by in the Vatican, was an inhibiting factor in modernist innovators’s efforts to jettison his reform of the reforms.
Now Benedict is gone and for all intents and purposes, the innovators have free reign from the top down. Pope Francis detests traditionalists, seeing them as disruptors and fomenters working to destroy unity in the Church, not, as we see it, attempting to save our Church from devolving into a synthesis of Unitarianism, humanism, and relativism, with guitars and incense.
Your commentator at this juncture sees little to look forward to in the coming years for the Catholic Church. He is mindful of our Lord’s promise in Matthew 16:18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it., but we cannot predict in what form the True Church shall take, nor its locale; whether it will be based in Rome or somewhere else.
The sacraments of the Eastern Orthodox, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Polish National Church, the Old Catholic Church, and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) are all considered valid, in light of their unbroken apostolic succession (not so for the Anglican Church). Will we see one of those institutions rise to take the place of the Catholic Church fallen into heresy? (It seems unlikely it will be the Old Catholic Church which is already a heretical stew pot.) Another possibility might be the Armenian Apostolic Church, which predates slightly the Catholic Church. Even though the latter does not recognize the former’s sacraments, the former does so the latter’s and its worship and beliefs are sound, and though it does permit divorce, it is only for adultery and apostasy.
So whither we go? Your correspondent hasn’t the foggiest notion at this point, so probably the best course is to stay where we are, await further developments, and pray.
Professor William J. Tighe comments.
For my part, I would have written:
“The sacraments of the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Polish National Catholic Church and its ‘Union of Scranton’ affiliates in Norway and elsewhere, and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) are all considered valid.”
The “Oriental Orthodox are those churches – Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian (and the latter’s offshoots in South India – that reject the Council of Chalcedon. And if by “the Old Catholic Church” you mean the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics, well, they have outdone the Anglicans (with whom they are in full communion) in liberalism over the past 25 years, and I would have omitted them from the list.
Quite so, but we’ll let the original stand so readers may see the difference between an Internet scholar and the real thing.
Of course, the Old Catholics should have been excised from the list, but that would have denied the pleasure of describing them as a”stew pot of heresies,” a metaphor this writer found pleasing.