Friday 23rd August 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Missing Link: The Last Fifty Years

December 14, 2015 Featured Today No Comments

By PHILIP TROWER

Recently The Catholic Herald, one of our most reliable English Catholic weeklies, recently published an article by George Weigel on Vatican II and the subsequent fifty years called “Mission Abandoned” and carrying on the cover the phrase “George Weigel says we’ve wasted the last 50 years on infighting.”
Professor Weigel is one of our most distinguished Catholic writers who over the years has done great work in the service of the Church. This in itself makes me hesitate to take issue with him. But in addition to that is the fact that if I do I shall expose myself to the charge of carrying on the “infighting.”
However, there is one serious omission in his article which, if it remains unmentioned, will do a serious injustice to all those Catholics, like writers and readers of The Wanderer, who, over a period of fifty years, have done their best to uphold the faith and authentic magisterial teaching often in far from easy circumstances.
The omission is the word “modernism.” The impression is given that the “infighting” has all been between two groups equally Catholic in belief and practice, one labeled “conservative” or “traditionalist,” the other “liberal” who, like political parties, comprise the totality of the Catholic body and whose conflicts have been equally useless and destructive. It is as though Blessed John Henry Newman had tried to explain the Arian crisis after the Council of Nicaea in terms of useless infighting between “liberals” and “conservatives” with Arius representing the former, and Athanasius the latter, and coming to the conclusion that they should have reached a compromise.
Of course I know that Professor Weigel would say nothing of the sort in regard to the fourth century, but it seems to me his article comes close at times to implying that today’s Catholics, finding themselves in a similar situation, should have done just that. This is because he seems to ignore the existence of modernism although it has been a heresy as invasive and widespread as Arianism was in its day.
Over the last fifty years the only alternative to “infighting” for any Catholics who could see that a doctrine was under attack would have been compromising. Was supporting Humanae Vitae or opposing “ongoing revelation” just a matter of “infighting”?
Of course the words “liberal and conservative” can legitimately be applied to matters of policy or pastoral practice, things which the Magisterium has authority to change. They were legitimately used in this way in the 19th century for a time. But when applied to the content of faith, they become lethal. We see the difference in the case of women priests and married clergy. The former is an impossibility. We have St. John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to remind us of the fact. The latter, as every reasonably well-instructed Catholics knows, could be allowable.
However, to say or imply that all the controversies of the last fifty years have been nothing but conflicts about allowable changes and therefore a waste of time seems to me equivalent to saying that the work of post-Nicaean fathers like St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, or St. Hilary of Poitiers was a waste of time too. Modernism is or has been no less deadly than Arianism.
Given the debt of gratitude we all owe to Professor Weigel, I deeply regret feeling obliged to say all this. His article, which is mainly about what Pope John wanted from the Second Vatican Council, the new evangelization it was to prepare the way for, and why it didn’t take place sooner, is in every other respect as excellent and enlightening as one would expect.
In a sense, Catholics of the kind I have been describing — and Professor Weigel is one of them — cannot be described in any meaningful way as either “liberals” or “conservatives.” They are simply members of the Church who, through the mercy of God, have managed to hang on to their sensus fidelium throughout a major doctrinal upheaval, in the same way that, as Newman tells us, many of the ordinary faithful did during the Arian crisis, when bishops and high-powered theologians fell away.
Recognizing all this has nothing or should have nothing to do with being self-righteous or feeling superior. It is simply a question of fact. Either you continue to give your assent to all the Church proposes for belief or you don’t. In a non-political sense, every Catholic has to be “conservative” about the content of the Deposit of Faith, if not always about the way a particular doctrine is formulated at a particular time.
If one should be tempted to feel self-righteous or to pharisaism of any kind, we now, through the mercy of God, have a Holy Father who will not allow us to stay long in that deplorable state in any comfort.
It is certainly true that it is not easy to engage in controversy of any kind with perfect charity or without at moments feeling better that one’s opponent because one knows one is right. But here we can I think take comfort from some words of Belloc. (I think I have got them right, although at 92 my memory is not what it was.) In any intellectual free-for-all, Belloc says somewhere, especially if it is in defense of the Church or the faith, he is sure God forgives a few blows below the belt provided they are not premeditated. God does not approve of the blows themselves, but He understands the circumstances.
Coming back to the last fifty years, there are other reasons, I believe, for regarding them in a less exclusively negative light than Professor Weigel does, in addition to the fact that they saw modernism contained if not altogether overthrown.
They produced the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which can be said among other things to have fulfilled one of St. John XXIII’s principal aims in calling the council; that without altering the meaning of the Church’s teachings, it should present them in a way more easy for our contemporaries to understand.
Then there is St. John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” Provoked by the conflicts and circumstances of the time as was so much of the writings of the fathers of the fourth century, this is a major contribution to the patrimony of the Church’s theological understanding.
Another plus has been the rise of what are called the new movements — mainly lay movements to stimulate a more missionary spirit. Similar movements were, of course, already in existence from well before the council. They were then usually classified as “Catholic Action.” But, as we all know, they multiplied greatly in the wake of the council.
Nor should we omit the heroic work of the pro-life movements. Without them, not only would millions more babies have been aborted: Millions more Catholics would have been propagandized into accepting abortion as something morally possible.
Future historians will also I believe have kind words for those who have worked to preserve the old liturgy. I only occasionally go to Mass in the old liturgy myself. But I believe its complete abolition would have come to be seen by future generations as an act of barbarism equivalent to pulling down St. Peter’s or Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence. Beauty, like love, can be a missionary tool as well as words and good deeds. Its preservation should also contribute to easing relations with the Orthodox churches.
In all these ways, then, and in spite of the massive defections from Christian belief of every kind wherever the spirit of the secularized West predominates, I believe we can see God at work over the last fifty years preparing the ground for His new evangelisation, and demonstrating that those years have been anything but a meaningless wasteland.

+ + +

(Philip Trower, a longtime contributor to The Wanderer, is the author of Turmoil & Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church.)

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Public Service Announcement:

The devil exists as a personal reality, not as a symbolic reality.

Jesus was not tempted in the desert by a symbol.

Load More...

Leader of Jesuit order: Satan doesn’t exist as ‘personal’ reality, only ‘symbolic’

August 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The devil is a not a personal reality but a symbol for evil, the head of the Jesuit order said this week. Satan, the devil whom the Catholic Church says was behind the fall of…Continue Reading

American Catholics Must Stand with Hong Kong

The autonomous territory of Hong Kong is in a fight for its life. For over two months, the citizens of Hong Kong have persisted in protesting an attempt by the Hong Kong chief executive to impose an amendment to the…Continue Reading

German archbishop in Auschwitz: Stand up against hubris of the politically powerful

Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, a German archbishop has called for a stand against hubris and arrogance of those in political power. Speaking…Continue Reading

Vatican ‘struggling to put out fire’ of public scandal over JPII Institute purge

ROME, August 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The “firefighters for the new direction” being taken at the John Paul II Institute in Rome are “struggling” to put out a blaze of public scandal, as controversy sparked by a recent purge of professors threatens to reach the door of the Pope’s…Continue Reading

Survey on Catholic belief in the Eucharist prompts calls for better catechesis

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2019 / 03:32 pm (CNA).- After a recent survey found that two-thirds of Catholics do not believe Church teaching about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Catholic commenters are stressing the importance of better…Continue Reading

Apple News bans LifeSite without warning: says it ‘shows intolerance’

July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A little over one week ago, Apple approved LifeSiteNews’ application to publish our news on their Apple News platform. Today, without warning, Apple News abruptly reversed course, telling LifeSite that they had deleted our channel and all…Continue Reading

Kamala Harris’ “Medicare for All” Plan Will Force Americans to Fund Abortions

Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris released her own Medicare-for-all proposal today. Just like the proposal handed down by pro-abortion presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Harris’s plan would force Americans to fund abortions. Harris confirms her plan will cover abortions in an…Continue Reading

Pew report: Only half of America’s Catholics know what the Church teaches about Communion

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) ― Do only half of America’s Catholics know what their Church teaches about Holy Communion? In a recent report called “What Americans Know About Religion,” the Pew Research Center suggested that Catholics are divided…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Businessman Michael Lindell, Creator of MyPillow, May Run Against Pro-Abortion Ilhan Omar

Michael Lindell is a pro-life businessman and the creator of MyPillow, a successful invention and company in its own right. Lindell was responsible for helping to fund production of the popular movie “Unplanned,” but now he’s turning his attention to…Continue Reading

Tucker Carlson: big business is now at war against your family

July 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The first thing to note about Tucker Carlson is that when he’s on stage and riffing on his irritations, he is hilarious. He began his keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday…Continue Reading

Teacher sues Catholic school for firing her over pro-abortion posts on social media

BERKELEY COUNTY, South Carolina, July 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A former teacher filed a wrongful termination suit against a South Carolina Catholic school that fired her for championing legal abortion on social media in violation of long-settled, well-known Catholic doctrine.…Continue Reading

Bombshell Claim: Scientists Find “Man-made Climate Change Doesn’t Exist In Practice”

A new scientific study could bust wide open deeply flawed fundamental assumptions underlying controversial climate legislation and initiatives such as the Green New Deal, namely, the degree to which ‘climate change’ is driven by natural phenomena vs. man-made issues measured as…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

U.S. Catholic bishops hire a new spokeswoman — one month after another stirred controversy with her pro-Trump tweets

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ organization announced Thursday that it had replaced its public affairs director — a woman who triggered debate last month with tweets enthusiastically backing President Trump and striking out at Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Thursday that church and politics veteran Chieko Noguchi is its new head of public affairs, a position that speaks for the Catholic Church…Continue Reading

Thousands of Aussies protest bill to decriminalize abortion in New South Wales

SYDNEY, Australia, August 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — As the winter night fell in Sydney, thousands amassed in the heart of the city, protesting a radical proposed new law permitting abortion on demand until birth. The rally began in Martin Place, a pedestrian mall in the center of Sydney’s business district, at 6 PM and lasted until 9 PM. Thousands of protestors marched from Martin Place to the front of New South Wales Pa

Cardinal George Pell loses appeal of sex abuse conviction

Melbourne, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 06:31 pm (CNA).- The conviction of Cardinal George Pell has been upheld by the Court of Appeals in Victoria. After an appellate panel announced its decision at a court proceeding Aug. 21, the cardinal was returned to prison. “By majority (2 to 1), the Court of Appeals has dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for the commission of sexual offences. He will continue to serve his sentence…Continue Reading

‘Unplanned’ actress establishes scholarship for pregnant women

Columbus, Ohio, Aug 18, 2019 / 04:55 pm (CNA).- Ashley Bratcher, lead actress in the pro-life movie “Unplanned,” has helped establish a scholarship for women pursing an education during an unexpected pregnancy. “Women can pursue their careers, live out their dreams, and have richer, more fulfilling lives while balancing motherhood. Sometimes, it just takes a little help,” Bratcher said in a recent press release from Heartbeat International. “I wanted to be a part of empowering…Continue Reading

Trump rule to nix Obama order forcing religious contractors to hire LGBT workers

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would permit government contractors to make employment decisions that are consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs, without fear of sanction by the federal government. If adopted, the rule would reverse an Obama-era executive order that restricted religious federal contractors’ ability to consider employees’ adherence to their faith on matters of sexuality and gender. In 2014, former President Ba

Advertisement3

Cardinal Pell . . . “Amazon Or No Amazon, The Church Cannot Allow Any Confusion”

By ED CONDON MELBOURNE (CNA) — George Cardinal Pell has written a letter to supporters saying he is “disturbed” by the preparations for the forthcoming synod on the Amazon. The text of the two-page, handwritten letter — images of which were shared with Catholic News Agency and confirmed by sources close to Pell — has…Continue Reading

China’s High-Tech Tyranny

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate, www.creators.com, distributed this column.) + + + There are passages in the State Department’s latest reports on human rights and religious freedom in the People’s Republic of China that read as if they ought to be in some futuristic…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Pulling Back The Veil Between Heaven And Earth

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints, by Joan Carroll Cruz (TAN Books, 330 pages, Paperback and Kindle). Available at amazon.com. This book deals with miracles involving the Eucharist and saintly figures. The text ranges from miracles occurring in the eighth century to those occurring in more…Continue Reading

Diocese of Scranton . . . Launches Investigation Into National Shrine Rector Rossi

By ED CONDON WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — The Diocese of Scranton has begun an investigation into allegations of misconduct on the part of the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. “Bishop Joseph Bambera, bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, has commenced the process of launching a…Continue Reading

China’s Human Rights Sham

By JOHN J. METZLER PARIS — It’s never polite to question the deteriorating human rights situation in China, but let’s do it anyway. The hidden and systematic repression of ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang province and the high-profile crackdown on pro-demonstrators in Hong Kong, many of them Christian, are both rooted in the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Are you looking for some solid Catholic books for your high school religious education program, books that have been found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Then you should get copies of the five-volume Catholicism Series. The topics covered include the Creed and Apologetics (Catholicism & Reason), the Commandments and Sacraments (Catholicism &…Continue Reading

What’s At Stake… In The Purge At The John Paul II Institute

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is president of Human Life International. Fr. Boquet’s commentary below on the John Paul II Institute first appeared at HLI.org on August 12 and is reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved.) + + + Essence Of Battle Is Ideological In the past few weeks, a long-brewing skirmish over the…Continue Reading

Enter Through The Narrow Gate

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21 Heb. 12:5-7, 11-13 Luke 13:22-30 In the first reading today we hear something that would seem unthinkable to the Jewish people who heard these words when Isaiah spoke them seven hundred years before our Lord came into the world. For generations after that these words must…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Spiritual Materialism Cannot Save Your Soul

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Some call it cafeteria Catholic. It manifests itself as a demand to take one thing Christ handed down in the Church while rejecting others likewise handed down. The Eucharist is the Real Presence of the Lord and it is thus the source and summit of our faith. The sight of the faithful going forward at…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent discussion in this column of Communism and socialism, and the sway that these collectivist ideologies hold over many Democrat politicians today, D.M. of Virginia sent along an excerpt from Whittaker Chambers’ 1952 book Witness that accurately describes the nature of Communism and its impact on the world over the past century, when its practitioners caused…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Stanislaus Papczynski

By CAROLE BRESLIN New orders of religious are frequently born from existing orders. The discalced Carmelites were born via St. Teresa of Avila, who was inspired to live a more strict observance of religious life: more seclusion, simpler meals, and more prayer time. St. Teresa of Calcutta belonged to a religious order in India, but desired to serve the poorest…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Mariam Baouardy

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Bible, there are numerous references to Galilee with about 80 in just the New Testament. Galilee is an area in northern Israel and it includes the city of Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, and the site of the Sermon on the Mount. In John 1:46. Nathaniel responds to Philip, who told him of Jesus, “Can anything good…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)