volume 14, no. 1

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Catharine Lamb

Statistics: The Real Price

Pat Buchanan, a Traditional Catholic of national prominence, gets down to the simple numbers. No matter how the Vaticantwoarians might crunch the numbers what has been pushed on the faithful for the past 40 years doesn't add up. It has only divided, multiplying the errors and subtracting graces. Was it all calculated?

    "The confusion surrounding Vatican II will continue until it is unmasked and truthfully identified for what it was, faults and all. Until then, journalists and theologians will continue to dissect its possible meaning, validity and effects, ad nauseum. In the middle of all this are statistics of the casualties, which are nothing more than mere numbers to many. But these statistics represent real flesh and blood people, simple, average Catholics attempting to find stability and truth in a church willing to sacrifice them for the sake of modernity "

  Thank you, Pat Buchanan, for having the guts to present facts.

In his recent, tasteful and professionally written article, An Index of Catholicismís Decline,

(see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=29948)

  Mr. Buchanan gives some statistics with which we can realistically gauge the effects of the Second Vatican Council. Unfortunately, some people are so alarmed by Buchananís article that they have attempted to shoot the messenger.

  The outspoken criticism and anger launched at Buchanan over this issue might cause one to think Buchanan did something deserving of rebuke. Did he wear a cheese-head hat during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? By any chance, did he kiss the Koran? Did he pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ by bowing down to, or kneeling before, false gods? No, he did nothing of the sort. He just stated facts with statistics to back him up, and for this he is maligned by fellow Catholics.

  Though I consider myself to be a traditional Catholic, this does not mean that I am at war with other Catholics. At the time of my Baptism, when I was 3 weeks old, I was a traditional Catholic. In the years since that time, I became a liberal-nominal Catholic, an inactive Catholic, a Protestant, a conservative Catholic, and now I have come full circle, back to the fullness of the Faith of my Baptism. In other words, I think I have a fairly good understanding of what it means to be all of the above mentioned. Actually, most of the Catholics I know can trace similar steps, although perhaps our paths donít always converge. It is ridiculous to be mean and hateful to each other.

  However, there comes a point when the truth about something becomes so obvious that you are forced to cast aside the rose colored glasses. As Iíve pointed out in previous columns, this is a very painful, heart-wrenching experience. You will meet a lot of surprising opposition when you begin to ask questions that docile Catholics should never ask about Vatican II or the aftermath. If at this point you insist on keeping your eyes closed so that you wonít have to face the facts, then you will remain handicapped by your own choice.

  Many conservative Catholics are quick to defend the Council by stating that there is nothing in the documents that is contrary to Catholic teaching. Even if we accept this premise, we mustnít make the mistake of divorcing the Council documents from the truth about the actual events at the Council sessions as they transpired, along with the implementation after the Council. A thorough study of the entire scenario reveals that much of what went on was influenced by something that was not holy. One can hardly accuse the Holy Spirit of being behind the documented, under-handed shenanigans that took place during the Council sessions as reported by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen in his book, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber. Still more legitimate questions arise after further research regarding the positions of pre-Vatican II popes who openly opposed many of the same novelties, innovations and modernist tendencies which would one day be introduced by way of Vatican II.

  Until Catholics regain a sense of sound reason and logic, Vatican II will continue to boggle the minds and hearts of the faithful. In fact, Vatican Council II is, by its very nature, an oxymoron: change everything and at the same time change nothing. The "everything" which came up for change included, but was not limited to:

  • The Church calendar (SC 102-111)

  • The Breviary (SC 83-101)

  • Priestsí vestments (SC 124, 128)

  • Nunsí habits (PC 17)

  • The manner of life, prayer and work of religious ((Perfectae Caritatis)

  • Sacred Art (SC 122-129)

  • Sacred Music (SC 112-121)

  • Church architecture, interior and exterior (SC 122-130)

  • The Rites of the Sacraments (SC 59-82)

  • The involvement of the lay people in liturgical actions (AA 24)
  •   If that wasnít enough, the most profound and far reaching change culminated in the evisceration of the Sacred Liturgy, the public worship of the Church, which affected absolutely everyone and everything else. All of this (and more) was supposed to come about by "pastoral" means without touching the doctrine and dogma of the Church. This, of course, was impossible.

      The results were no mere face-lift, but rather a radical plastic surgery which has left us with a Church that is hardly recognizable. The Council documents themselves betray an excessive need to adapt to the modern world. A careful reading of the documents with special attention to the number of references to change, reform, renew, update and adapt to present-day needs in light of our advanced, modern world, will stun the reader who is unaware that the underlying objective of this Council was to change the face of the Church. It seems absurd that anyone will deny this obvious conclusion.

      But, how can you change everything without changing anything? You canít. As with any radical plastic surgery, the underlying foundation upon which the new grafts are placed can be so weakened and damaged that in time, the faÁade will collapse. The results are often less attractive than before the surgery. All of the changes implemented after Vatican II did in fact touch the very core of the Church including the essence of doctrine and dogma. As we who experienced it know, NOTHING was left untouched even though nothing "on the books" had been officially changed.

      No matter what the problems were in the Church prior to Vatican II, they could not have been so immense as to require a total re-making of the Catholic Church down to her very toenails. No matter to what extent the Church suffered from triumphalism, clericalism or rigidity (these seem to be the main things proffered up as the problems so in need of addressing), there was no need or logical reason to pounce upon every exterior practice, tradition and concept of Catholicism in order to find a balance.

      If we are to be honest, we must admit that taking on such a huge, immensely important, multifaceted reform as envisioned by the Council documents should have taken years of study, analysis and consideration before any change was actually decided upon. At that point, a detailed plan specifically outlining the exact steps and rules for implementation should have been drafted under the careful scrutiny of the pope. The implementation should have been watched and monitored with great care. Changes should have been implemented on a small scale, little by little.

      It is reasonable to suggest that any reforms to the Sacred Liturgy should have been kept to a minimum and only very carefully implemented. No matter what problem the Church was facing, it seems absurd to believe that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as it had been handed down through the greatest saints and popes, was actually one of the main culprits. The audacity with which the scalpel was quickly and thoroughly wielded upon the Mass left us with the notion that the "old" Mass was wickedly inferior. When we honestly consider the meager skeletal remains of the Mass with which the Novus Ordo Missae left us, we should be deeply saddened by the mutilation.

      Abbott Boniface Luykx, a peritus at Vatican II who was also appointed to the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, states in an interview recorded by St. Joseph Communications, that the reforms to the Sacred Liturgy which were carefully drawn up by the bishops were left to sit on Paul VIís desk for three years. The Pope then called in the Protestant observers who helped him write up a completely New Mass, which was not at all what the bishops had intended. Abbott Luykx also insists that the introduction of the vernacular into the Mass was never intended to be a means to allow common street language to profane the Sacred Liturgy, or to abolish the use of Latin.

      However, reading the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy with the privilege of hindsight we can see how the ambiguous language allowed loopholes for the eventual destruction and discarding of the ancient Latin Rite. Considering the prompt, swift action taken to ax the Tridentine Mass and launch it into oblivion, itís obvious that this was the intention from the beginning regardless of the fact that some of the Council fathers didnít know this was what they were voting on.

      One must further question the real intentions of the architects of the Second Vatican Council when we consider that to this day little if anything has been done to stop the rampage. During the pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II we have seen the legacy of Paul VI continue with the unchecked destruction of Catholic school systems, church buildings, sacred art and music, the devastation of religious education, and the continuous wholesale slaughter of the Mass. We have seen an escalation in radical feminism and the destruction of the priesthood by the laity, accompanied by the continuous reports of blatant heresies being taught in parishes through "sex education" programs or the likes of "Renew" programs. All of these things are proving fatal to the faith of millions, but they are NOT being stopped, by any stretch of the imagination.

      Itís a curious fact that when the bishops came to John Paul II in 1985 and "expressed the desire that a catechism or compendium of all catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composedÖ(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum)," the Pope did not remind them that the Church was already in possession of such a compendium: The Catechism of the Council of Trent (aka The Roman Catechism). He could have asked that the Roman Catechism be updated to reflect any necessary changes/clarifications. The Pope could have insisted that all catechetical texts printed be in conformity with it, and that the heretical catechisms which were being circulated in every diocese and parish be purged. He did none of these things. It was as though the time honored Catechism of the Council of Trent no longer existed. Obviously, it was no longer relevant to the Church after the Second Vatican Council, and so a new catechism was drawn up.

      This one fact alone certainly appears to be an indication of a precise break with all that came before Vatican II. Itís a tragedy that millions of Catholics were indoctrinated by sinfully inferior religious education texts during the interim years between the close of Vatican Council II and the writing and implementation of the New Catechism. Although the Council did not mandate throwing out the Catechism of the Council of Trent, itís obvious that there was an unspoken understanding regarding the need for everything "new." Once again we are faced with the tragic results of the price that has been paid in order to create a new face for the Church.

      While it is obvious that the Church must make suitable, yet minor changes in some areas as she journeys through time, when in her history has the Holy Spirit mandated such a cruel, calculated approach as we have witnessed since Vatican II, which essentially yanked the rug out from under the Mystical Body of Christ, leaving millions drifting in confusion, and an unprecedented loss of faith? When did the Holy Spirit ever mandate the destruction of nearly everything He had previously built up? When did the Holy Spirit ever reign over the decision to embrace the world, deify the dignity of man and create a religion made to mansí own specifications?

      There are many Catholics, including John Paul II, who refuse to directly address the weaknesses of Vatican II or to admit in any way to its possible imperfections. They continue to refer to this Council in only the most glowing terms. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the current Pontiff participated in the Council and "actively collaborated in its development." This is his "baby" and he has no intention of allowing it or his immediate predecessors to come under the scrutiny and critical study necessary to start the process which will bring a halt to the current crisis in the Church. But then, John Paul II does not talk about a "crisis" in the Church.

      Today weíre hearing a lot about the need for the full implementation of Vatican II and how such an implementation may be years away. In fact, there are people who believe that Vatican II will only be fully implemented after the death of the generations who remember the pre-conciliar Church and those who were alive during the attempted implementation of the Council. The hoped for vindication of Vatican Council II is a dream common to those who like to elevate Vatican II to the status of a Sacred Mystery of the Church. These people believe that most of us are incapable of understanding the fabulous depth and marvelous fruits this Council really has to offer. Indeed, we are asked to give our assent of faith to this Council, knowing full well we will never understand itÖÖ..kinda like the Holy Trinity! Vatican II has to be the most profound council in the history of the Church; elusive, mysterious, beyond our grasp, an inspiration of the Holy Spirit so brilliant we arenít capable of even scratching its surface in this generation. Wow! How nice, of the Holy Spirit to give us a super revelation that is a time bomb which wonít go off until we are dead, and in the meantime will cause untold confusion, misinterpretation and loss of faith! Truly pastoral! Or could it be that Vatican II has really become a living tribute to the masterminds who successfully managed to push their agendas through an ecumenical council? The ink was barely dry on the pages of the documents when certain Council fathers were already slapping themselves on the back and bragging that, "The Second Vatican Ecumenical CouncilÖmust be numbered without doubt among the greatest events of the ChurchÖ" (The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, p. 286). Probably unsinkable too.

      Along with most traditional Catholics, I am not a person who is against everything new or who believes the Church needs to be just like it was prior to Vatican II. Traditional Catholics are not antiquated lovers of nostalgia, caught in a time warp. We do not arrive at Mass in horse-drawn buggies or heat our churches with whale oil. All of the Catholics I know have eyelids and none of them are empty headed, regardless of conservative claims to the contrary. I believe Church historians looking back on this confusing, experimental era of the Church will be much kinder to Traditional Catholics than many conservative Catholics tend to be.

      Certainly there are ideas from Vatican II that are deserving of further clarification and study. No one who loves the Church would want her to be hampered by any real problems which ailed her in the past. However, if the bishops, cardinals and popes are going to give us something that is better than the tried and true, holy traditions, customs, liturgy and teachings that have served the Church for centuries, it should be done with kindness, without pride and arrogance, and it must be actually, visibly and really superior to what is being replaced. It should never be assumed that the old customs and ancient traditions of the faith are separate from the people; in fact, they are alive in the very blood and culture of real people who are living real lives, so tread carefully and lovingly. If something doesnít work, admit it. If something that was implemented by a Council is proving disastrous to the Faith, fix it or get rid of it. The lives of the faithful are not a laboratory for experimentation.

      Iím going to boldly suggest that what is going on in the Church today is exactly what many of the architects of Vatican II intended. There was a powerful movement afoot to bring about a radical re-making of the Catholic Church. Actually, it has been quite an accomplishment considering the magnitude of the undertaking. (For a view from the Liberal perspective see the book, The Catholic Tradition: Before and After Vatican II, by Timothy McCarthy. For a glimpse into what the conservative Catholics witnessed see Alice von Hildebrandís article, "Present at the Demolition," from The Latin Mass Magazine, http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/present.asp)

      The final verdict regarding Vatican II belongs to the future. But for the time, Catholics have to use sound reason and common sense. The hierarchy of the Church can never force Catholics to worship the "dignity of man" and his creativity. For many of us, this is the face of the New Mass in our parishes; a celebration of ourselves as "children of God", whatever anybody wants that to mean. We have a duty to refuse to give homage to the choir and the celebrity presider each Sunday. Throwing the consecration into the middle of the social club meeting hardly qualifies as authentic worship of God. Pope John Paul II has explicitly stated that "If separated from its distinctive sacrificial and sacramental nature, the Eucharistic Mystery simply ceases to be. It admits of no "profane" imitation, an imitation that would very easily (indeed regularly) become a profanation" (The Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist, Part II, 8. emphasis added).

      The confusion surrounding Vatican II will continue until it is unmasked and truthfully identified for what it was, faults and all. Until then, journalists and theologians will continue to dissect its possible meaning, validity and effects, ad nauseum. In the middle of all this are statistics of the casualties, which are nothing more than mere numbers to many. But these statistics represent real flesh and blood people, simple, average Catholics attempting to find stability and truth in a church willing to sacrifice them for the sake of modernity. The true mystery to contend with is the expectation of the hierarchy that the faithful remain obedient to that which has proven destructive such as a "new theology", a variety of dubious practices and bizarre novelties including a theologically inferior rite of the Mass. Are we busy bringing glory to God or merely preoccupied with bringing glory to the legacy of John XXIII and Paul VI?

      During this time of difficulty in the Church when most people are willing to admit we are faced with a real crisis, it is my hope that Catholics of every stripe can put down their six-shooters long enough to agree on one thing:

      If at any time, under any pope, practices, teachings and/or customs have been introduced into the Church even with the best of intentions but which have proven harmful to the faith and salvation of souls, destructive to the authentic, time honored teachings and traditions of the Church whose soul purpose is to glorify God and bring the Truth to all peoples and help them grow in holiness, it is time for pride and politics to be put aside so that the harm can be removed from the Church. The issue is not whether a pope was in error, or an ecumenical council was misinterpreted, or whether communists and Masons infiltrated the Church, or if all this "just happened" coincidentally along with the rebellion of the era. Rather, the issue is that something is very wrong right now and the price that is being paid is too steep. It will take deliberate, specific action by the Vicar of Christ to put things in order.

      Until he will do so, faithful Catholics have to survive by whatever means are available. It is neither reasonable nor logical to ask that Catholics sacrifice themselves and their sons and daughters on the altar of the nebulous, unidentifiable spirit of Vatican II in the hopes that in some unknown future time the statistics will at last speak of its triumph.

    Catharine Lamb

    FEBRUARY 2003
    Time After Epiphany
    volume 14, no. 1
    Shears and Tears of a Lamb

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