Friday, 14 January 2011

Clarification ...

.... of the point behind Cafeteria Traditionalism?

1. Catholics are not obliged to agree with every activity of a Pope or Bishop - they have a freedom to believe that this or that particular action on the part of the Holy Father or of their Diocesan Bishop is unwise or wrong.

2. Catholics are obliged to maintain a unity, or communion, with their local Bishop and the Holy See. One can view this maintenance of communion as being a juridical matter (it is); but one should also see it as something to be lived in spirit as well as just in the letter. This is a constant call to conversion, to the living of communion more and more fully.

3. One way of synthesising points 1 and 2 might be to say that a Catholic might articulate their concern about a particular action or initiative - about the issue concerned - but they should try to take care that they do not attack the person of their Bishop or the Holy Father.

4. Another issue arising from points 1 and 2 is that those who regularly offer criticism of their Bishop and/or the Holy See can easily take on the mantle of being a kind of alternative magisterium. This particularly happens when the criticism is offered, repeatedly, in the media, both new and old; it can be just as true of those of a traditionalist mind set as it can be of those of a liberal mind set. Once this happens, the question of keeping communion in spirit as well as in letter is very much in play.

5. My experience of Catholic life is almost completely an experience of the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Just at the human level, to have two Successors of Peter, one after the other, with the intellectual calibre of these two is quite remarkable. I have some sense of Pope Paul VI, and the more I "discover" him the more I think he can be underestimated in the light of his successors in the See of Rome. The point to this is that, point 1 above notwithstanding, I think we can have a solid underlying trust in the way in which they have done and do carry out their mission. There is no justifiable reason for a Catholic to have an underlying suspicion of either of these two Popes.

6. It is point 4, with a glance to points 3 and 5, that William Oddie is getting at when he writes, with tongue to certain extent in cheek, that
... once you start thinking you are a better and more faithful Catholic than he [ie the Holy Father] is, you are well on your way to the funny farm.
6. What I feel that I am seeing from those who blog from the perspective of a traditionalist mind set is the appearance in the media of this kind of alternative magisterium, and of a criticism of Pope John Paul II that moves from specific issues to being ad hominem. And, just as a Catholic is not obliged to feel that everything a Pope does is wise, neither is a Catholic obliged to think that everything that appears on Catholic blogs is right.


Fr John Abberton said...

I have looked at William Oddie's post and scrolled down to read some of the comments. I wonder if the main problem here is not with the Pope but with God. There seems to be a sense in which God and His mercy and compassion are being limited by some people's fears and anxieties about their own understanding of their catholic faith. I remember Pope John Paul 11 being criticised for the Asissi meeting, and I remember - at that time - that it was said that Cardinal Ratzinger did not like it. How true was that I wonder? We have to get our eyes and minds off the false religions and look at the people. it's all about the saving of souls and we do not do that in the way many Trad Catholics want. They are bad psychologists and poor anthropologists. They do not understand that before you can capture people's minds you have to engage their hearts.

Seth said...

All very true, but at the same time when ecclesiastical authorities fail to teach and uphold the moral truths of the Catholic Church, then it is right and proper to ask questions (with of course a proper sense of humility and patience, which may at times be lacking I grant you). One cannot simply hide one's head in the sand over issues like abortion advisors in schools, the Soho Masses, or even the apparent unwillingness of Bishops (for whatever reason) to defend Catholic teaching in public.

It is easy to take a swipe at cafeteria trads, but I suspect that among traditionalists you will find rather more faithfulness and obedience to Holy Mother Church than among liberals.

Joe said...

Thank you for the comments.

I have been trying to find the "original sources" with regard to Cardinal Ratzinger's reported dislike of Assisi One back in 1986 - I haven't found them yet. All that I can find is what he wrote - rather later - in Truth and Tolerance - and which I cited in my first post.

The question of the bishops being unwilling to defend Catholic teaching in public is not as clear cut, in my view, as many traditionalists seem to think it is. Media interviews, for example, have a variety of implications surrounding them other than just that of "clear teaching". The abortion advisers in schools, for example, is one where the media criticism comes from a particular source which does not accurately report the CES advice on the subject.

I do think that the bishops, and individual bishops, could usefully create for themselves a regular teaching environment in the media, where they choose the agenda and are not being interviewd. Archbishop Romero achieved this by the regular broadcast of his Sunday homily on a Catholic radio station, and Fr Popielusko via his monthly "Mass for the Nation". Such environments would enable teaching of the faith, and application of it to contemporary problems in society.

Auricularis said...

I am not surprised in Fr. Abberton's comment - particularity as he supports the alleged interior locutions of Vassula Ryden and her overall syncretist message.

There is a difference between engaging with the person themselves and giving off the impression that one religion is as good as another by praying besides them. In both cases of Assisi, those from the non-Catholic side are inevitably left with the latter impression. A religion that gives off the ideas that it treats faiths as somehow equal (even if believes otherwise), cannot gain many conversions. It really is that simple.

Seth said...

Joe (if I may)

I am not really concerned by what Bishops et al. say in the media, as we all know that it will always be perverted anyway. The real issue is the action that they take to uphold Catholic teaching, and although I promise you I try to see the good in every action and decision and criticise with only the greatest reluctance, it is impossible to see what is happening and not be extremely concerned. I am not interested in what the media says about abortion advisors in schools, I'm interested in the reality - it IS happening, and it is unacceptable - and that is the source of criticism. Likewise, it is hard not to resent being told to 'shut up' re: the gay Masses.

I accept what you have written elsewhere, I think, that it is possible to overestimate the importance of episcopal statements/decision, and the laity have a great responsibility too. But that doesn't mean that we don't have the right to ask our bishops to provide leadership and direction, especially at a time when (as is painfully obvious) there is considerable confusion over Catholic teaching among the laity.

It is not a Bishop's job to be liked, either by Catholics or non-Catholics. Irenic, yes; accommodating, no. Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ gets you hated, and that is a sure sign of its Truth.

Pope Benedict, thanks be to God, does provide wonderful direction for the Church - and we should always be inclined to trust as our default state for those whom God has appointed. But it is appropriate, I think, to draw attention to failures where they exist and not bury our heads in the sand.

That said, I agree with your comments for the most part, and I concede that some bloggers speak intemperately, which is never the right way to go about things.

Fr John Abberton said...

I just want to say that Vassula's writings are NOT syncretist. Those who have actually read them know that this is true. I am happy to debate this point with anyone reating to the actual text.
In fact the original Notification did not make this accusation either. By the way I am NOT a "syncretist" either.