Thursday, March 7, 2013

The enemy in the mirror

Theory of the Hijacked Council:

That these things have taken place is beyond dispute, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune to watch a media story about the Catholic Church knows. Invariably, the narrative is always presented in terms of a powerless laity versus a power-hoarding hierarchy, or disenfranchised women against an elitist male only priesthood, or homosexuals wanting to be included versus narrow minded traditionalists. This is the media narrative, and many in the world have adopted the attitude that the Second Vatican Council was about rectifying these inequalities. This is the "Virtual Council" the pope speaks of, the "hijacked council" theory that Benedict and other conservative prelates have spoken of in the past, and which many lay apologists have adopted.

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict omits a very important point in his evaluation of the Council, a point of such importance that, in my opinion, any historiography of the Council which refuses to acknowledge it is deficient. That is simply this: It was not the media primarily that created the virtual Council, but the Church itself. A media perversion of the Council that was merely external could not have had such a profound impact on the interior life of the Church. Benedict speaks of a perversion of the Faith whose fruit was "that of the media, not of the fathers." The destruction of Catholic faith and worship was implemented from within, and in many cases, with the formal or tacit approval of the very highest ecclesiastics in the Church, the popes not excluded. Consider the following:
The wounds suffered by the Body of Christ in the last fifty years are almost entirely self inflicted (and one could omit the "almost.") I've always had difficulty with the "hijacked council" meme because the self-destruction of the Catholic faith was so universal. The bishops who wrote and voted on the documents of Vatican II were the same bishops who flew home and oversaw the systematic dismantling of the faith of their fathers. The bishops did nothing at best, and at worst they actively supported the rearranging of the altars, the disappearance of Latin, the enstupidation of catechetics, the devastation of music, and the decline of the priesthood and religious life. No one held a gun to their head. The devil cannot force anyone to do evil. The crisis was born and has continued to grow because of the specific decisions of a specific generation of priests and bishops. Even the Good Pope/Evil Curia theory only goes so far. The Curia is a brood of vipers to be sure, but who appointed them? Who has the authority to remove them?

It's frustrating to me when orthodox Catholics hem and haw and blame the chaos on impersonal forces beyond anyone's control. They cite the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960's, or the birth control pill, or secularization, or the culture. Ladies and gentlemen, the Church is the way she is because we are the way we are. We did this. We are responsible for this. It was always us and us alone. The world's gonna world and the devil's gonna devil. Things didn't have to be this way. And the first step toward restoration is admitting that the problem lies within ourselves and to fix ourselves first. The crisis of the Church is that she no longer knows who she is or what she wants to be. HAVE YOU MADE YOUR DECISION FOR CHRIST?

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