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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Someone else's Loopy Analogy

From the combox at Father Z's:

At the moment, any business that was operating in similar circumstances would have recognised that something has gone seriously wrong* and would be taking actions to rectify this before they go out of business. I would have thought when your biggest competitor (Islam) overtook you in customer loyalty (so to speak) that this would have been the wake-up call but it appears not. There seems to be a generation (50+ years of age) who are in many of the positions of authority in every aspect of the Church who refuse to analyse the situation objectively (perhaps they are emotionally invested in V2 as an aspect of personal identity?) and seem willing to run the business into the ground rather than acknowledge and rectify the problems.

You know I am gay for loopy analogies... and the bad business model of the post-conciliar Church screams out to me. (Mine has more to do with marketing, why is Tiffany's wasting all that effort advertising that they are giving away FREE BALLOONS with every flawless diamond set in platinum? or that, if you prefer, you can have that flawless diamond set in Silly Putty?)


Son of Trypho said...

Well to start - I'm not sure why you refer to it as a "loopy" analogy?

As an outsider, I see that there are significant deficiencies in the modern church; to list some;

-haemorraghing of Catholics from the church in South America
-significant decline of religious and vocations in all western orders/dioceses
-significant Philistinism and destruction in renovation of liturgical architecture and infrastructure
-significant financial problems through the massive payouts for victims of child abuse
-significant decline or moral credibility because of the above and certain clergy appearing to have shielded offenders
-significant corruption and disobedience in all parts of the church including for instance - Abp Weakland using church money to pay off his former boyfriend, Abp Lefebvre ordaining his own bishops, liberation theologians toting guns in South America, Catholic politicians supporting abortion and/or issues that the Church is opposed to, British Bishops setting up Muslim prayer spaces in Catholic secondary schools (including ablution facilities), agitation for homosexual and/or women priests despite this issue being repeatedly dealt with
-the failure of the modern Catholic education system to actually teach Catholic children fundamentals of their faith
-a general lack of reverence towards the sacred - i.e. liturgical innovations which appear to be egregious abuses

This is hardly a comprehensive list but I'd like to read your thoughts.

Son of Trypho said...

Having a little further to contemplate the deficiencies I should mention the following also;

-atrocious religious music (I'm sure you'll appreciate that one) being adopted
-Mass services which, to outward appearance, don't appear too different from an Anglican Service (in saying this, to be fair to Anglicans, they often use better vestments that Catholics seem to) - service in vernacular, priest facing congregation, use of Cranmer table, occasional use of low quality liturgical items, feel of communal meal rather than a sacrifice (different understanding of purpose and outcome of Mass)
-involvement of clergy in issues that they should not be involved in(eg. politics like Fr Pfleger)
-significant division in Catholic communities between different viewpoints, to the point of causing scandal where intolerant methods appear to be a tool to impose tolerance (read liberal ideas) on conservatives (and vice versa in certain instances)
-fairly wholesale collapse of Mass attendance in western societies including virtual inability to retain Catholic youth longterm without appealing to tacky gimmicks
-bad inculturation issues
-abandonment of significant tracts of chapels,churches due to lack of priests
-failure of Catholics to communicate effectively the benefits they have provided to humanity (art,music,literature,architecture, theology,philosophy,culture all come to mind to start) rather than be known for the abuses they have done (eg. Inquisition)
-Catholic pandering to minorities in the goal of dialogue etc which has achieved virtually nothing of significance for Catholics

As I said earlier, if you were to use a business analogy, the business would be considered in crisis if this had been going on for decades and anyone sensible would look to fix it urgently.

Brian said...

Son of Trypho,

Wow! You impress and shame me. You know more about my Church than I do. Your perspective is heartening though (in a mascochistic sort of way). It is good to see that even outsiders can see so clearly where we have gone astray--though I wish it were not so obvious! Pray for us!

Scelata said...

Sorry, no offense meant, "Loopy Analogies" is how I describe one of my favorite methods of discourse,. My metaphors tend to be loopy enough that no one sees the connection I am trying to draw.

YOURS, on t'other hand was very good, and very concise.

And your list is comprehensive and dead on.

The odd thing is, I think one of the problems has been leaders approaching the Faith as if it WERE a business, as if profits were quantifiable, as if preservation of the structure itself was more important than the "product" (salvation,) that structure was intended to produce, and as if branding/PR/advertizing/market positioning is some major concern.

To use one of my loopy analogies, selling sizzle and ignoring the fact that the steak is going uneaten...

Did I read that right, you are Jewish but non-practicing? or non-believing?

I'd be curious as to what brought you to WDTPRS.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Michael McDonough said...

Son of Trypho,

I followed you here to Scelata's blog because I have read a number of your posts, especially regarding the formation of Rabbinic Judaism, and so forth. I've wanted to be able to discuss some of these things with a Jew, and perhaps you would care to take me up on that? My email:
mmcdonough15 .at. comcast .dot. net

BTW, have you read Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho the Jew"?

Michael McDonough said...

I'll take a crack at replying to the list of negatives Son of Trypho has posted. I can't address the lists, but simply provide some "background".

With respect to an "objective" criticism of the contemporary Catholic Church, I would venture to say that there are several causes, of different levels of significance and continuity.

a) External enemies: In first place, Old Nob himself, Satan (yes, we believe in angels, both fallen and erect). In second place, the Enlightenment project, including freemasonry, marxism, and often, socialism. They are the "usual suspects" when it comes to slandering the Church (as you mention, the continuing references to the Inquisition, for example). Fr. Stanley Jaki has done a good job of documenting this regarding a particular French physicist around the turn of the 20th C. (The man, though brilliant, was black-balled by the French Academy, because he had the gall to defend the thesis that the modern scientific project actually originated among practicing Catholics in Europe in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and not with the Enlightenment itself.)

b) Internal "enemies" (false friends):

1) After the condemnations of "modernism" as a multi-form heresy, and the excommunication of a few of their number, from the time after the 1st World War, there was a growing resentment among some Catholic theologians and bishops (especially in Europe) that the Magisterium was being too recalcitrant, and ought to be ignored in practice, even if acknowledged in print. This "circle" of intelligentzia was especially strong in the Catholic universities (even pontifical) and faculties. Many of them were bishops or experts at Vatican II. Some were orthodox (e.g., Ratzinger) others were heterodox (Bernard Haering, Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, Schillebeeckz (sp?). Since they were the intellectuals, their opinions were sought out, even by popes.

2) Vatican II tried to correct an imbalance in the Latin Rite of the Church, originally caused, I think, by the rapid expansion due to the missionaries after the "discovery" of the New World and trade routes to the Orient. In such lands, like the U.S., originally the bishops were appointed and "managed" by the missionary congregation of the Vatican, called "Propaganda Fidei". As such, they began to resemble branch offices of the Vatican, which is not the proper "reality" for a diocese, and the diocesan bishop was not a branch manager of the Vatican, with the Pope as CEO. If you read VCII's document on the bishops, you will see the Council trying to enunciate a more proper role for the Bishop, which is the significance of their repeating that the vocation of the Bishop comes directly from Christ. (This understanding was never lost in the Eastern Rites and the Orthodox churches because they were forced to "be quiet" under the Moslems, and never could engage in the widespread missionary activity of the Latin Church, so the Council took its "inspiration" from their praxis, which included the "Synod". Unfortunately, that document also encouraged the establishment of "episcopal conferences", with the existing one of the U.S. Bishops in mind) as a way to economize on resources, and provide "common resources" to all the dioceses of a country or language-group.

3) Some of the folks mentioned in b-1 began to agitate to have the conferences of b-2 become "deliberative bodies", i.e., Synods. The real goal was to create some distance between the hierarchy of a particular place (such as the U.S.) and the Pope. These folks don't like any form of "centralization". They are still with us, especially in the U.S. among the bishops my age and older (I'm 58). A Bishop Trautmann of Erie, PA, is a good example of this type of bishop, as is Archbishop Pilarzyk (sp?) of Cincinnati. They are not really heretics, they just don't like working within anybody else's "business plan", (especially if that is plan emanating from the Vatican): they like to do their own thing. This point (i.e., b-3) is my personal opinion, but I think there is evidence for it.

4) Many Catholics of my age (born 1950), although they received a good grounding in the Faith in their primary and secondary schools (the nuns "with the rulers", etc.), began to stop paying attention when the Beatles hit the scene (1964 in the U.S.). Obviously, I'm not blaming the Beatles specifically, I use them to symbolize a certain pop-culture that descended in the mid-1960s. The popularity of that pop-culture, which took a decade to make its way felt all the way out to the Midwest and South, caused many of my friends to simply top paying attention to the Church. This was also reflected on university campuses of the secular and religious varities. It was around 1970 that most colleges began to lose their "in loco parentis" rules, as well as any commitment to Western Civilization or its great works. This is also when seminaries in the U.S. began to de-emphasize Latin for future priests.

5) The Catholic Church hierarchy was "infiltrated" by practicing homosexuals some time ago. I have heard from priests who survived their seminary training that they are aware of situations of "systematic recruitment" within their seminary of homosexuality in the very early 1950s, so it must have started earlier. This was very hush-hush among the participants at the time.

6) It is quite possible that in the U.S. in the pre-Vatican II decade or so, the focus on real Catholic spirituality and ascetism may have been on the wane. I have heard numerous anecdotes about priestly and religious vocations who eventually left their vocations, because they felt they had been sold a bill of goods, not the real thing (whatever their understanding of the real-thing was).

Michael McDonough said...

Son of Trypho,

You mention:

"-haemorraghing of Catholics from the church in South America
liberation theologians toting guns in South America"

I also would probably join the haemorrage (sp?) of Catholics if my priests were toting guns around. While the Jesuits seem to think they have really hit on something with "liberation theology" (their new "General" just last week wondered aloud why the Church wasn't taking them and it more to heart!), it is more than just my view that the "theology" in the topic is nothing more than a veneer to "sell" the idea contained deep within the "liberation" of armed struggle or revolution. If the Jesuits stay on this tack, they will have a membership of NULL in a few decades.

In the 70's and 80's I was more in touch with this situation. I saw documents that established that Catholic missionary orders were infiltrated by the Czech Communist Party in the 1950s and 1960s. These orders were typically engaged in missionary work in S.A. The same is probably (I haven't seen documentation) true of the Maryknoll Missionaries, which was a huge U.S. based missionary order until the 1970's.

I have anecdotal evidence from that period of the sort of thing that "liberation theologians" and their pawns attempted. In one remote Aztec village in Mexico, the folks (almost all Aztecs) had a small church with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe to whom they had great devotion. Eventually, they lost their priest, and so could not have Mass except once or twice a year. So they prayed the Rosary, etc.

After some time, a young priest is sent to them, not Aztec, and he starts telling them about his plans for their little church, social justice, etc. They're just happy to have a priest again, so whatever. The next week he shows up and his first act is to remove the statue of Our Lady from the church. After Mass the next morning, a number of the men, now wearing machetes, surrounded the priest, and told him, "Padrecito, que se largue!" (Little Father, beat it!) When he left, they put the statue back in the church. That priest never returned.

Sorry to seem to be monopolizing the combox!

Scelata said...

Not at all, Michael, my combox is your combox.
(I am a generous host, when it costs me nothing....)
I am a bit younger than you, but my general impression of "what went wrong" is similar to yours, (although I know nothing missionary/liberation theology/politics miasma you reference.)
And there was a "perfect storm" of events and trends leading to the Church's present difficulties.
But I do think it all springs from damage done to our Eucharistic Worship, both by design and foolishness -- from persons of good will failing to recognize that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our Faith, and setting other priorities; and persons of ill will knowing that degradation of the Liturgy was the surest route to degrading the Faith.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World!)

Son of Trypho said...


No offence taken - I wasn't sure if you were poking fun at me or just reflecting on the unusual analogy.

It is possible that the business model could be applied to the Church in the way that you think but it would be something akin to a franchise (and poorly run ones at that) with the Head Office (Vatican) trying to regulate their behaviour as best it can while dealing with a divided management panel. This analogy is a bit far out and not my preference though but it would fit the current situation.

The real fortune of the Church was that it was on such solid foundations prior to the 60's that despite the damage done in the last few decades it is still standing and functioning. A good comparison is the Anglican(Episcopalian) Communion which is totally falling apart and is so far removed from what it was (in the 50's for example) that it is now unrecognisable.

I would like to think that the problem is really the well-intentioned people running the Church and its institutions who really have an incorrect understanding of their faith and are pushing their own agendas concerned with innovations and experiments combined with a change in society which has become self-obsessed and self-indulgent. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not a puritan, but it has gone too far imo).

Listening to some of the stuff which comes out from the older generation you sometimes think that Jesus was some late
1960's long-haired and bearded peacenik hippy (maybe the pictures of Jesus remind them of this?) who advocated love, peace and harmony for all. The specifics of how to achieve this of course is man-made (read Church) and is thus, for these people, often optional.

I think these older generations want to leave a mark, so to speak, on the church, while they are in control. I also think some of them sincerely damage Church infrastructure (through renovations) so that they can achieve this mark and so that they can prevent traditional forms of worship. I also think a small number consider that if the Church gets run down further then this will be of benefit to them in advocating for female priests and other more radical ideas.

As to myself, I am a non-practicing Orthodox Jew. I believe in the Father and am exploring Catholicism. I have, as Michael notes, some unusual views on the formation of rabbinic Judaism and this is part of what has troubled me with regards to Judaism. The other part is my examination of Orthodox Jewish groups.

I have an deep interest in Catholic Christianity and hence explore alot of conservative Catholic websites (WDTPRS for instance) which provide alot of interesting insights. I find, that often, though not always, the conservatives have a deeper appreciation of and education in, their faith which I think is the proper way to be.

I prefer not to communicate by private email so please do not take offence. I am prepared to discuss any topic you like though on any thread that you find me on so please feel free to write. I'll consider the points that you raised in your comments and respond a little later.