A Commentary on the “Reform of the Reform” of The Catholic Church

I like Vatican II- The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, which occurred in Rome between 1962 and 1965. It brought in “fresh air” and strived to create a sense of unity- and the beginning of the effort of understanding between the church and the modern world. Relevancy being no small thing back then.

It seems to be a small thing now. Especially for those in charge of the Roman Catholic Church.

The wagons are circling. And the Pope is the one drawing them in- followed closely by the fanatics who use communion as a weapon, have no (and want no) understanding of the sciences of psychology or sociology or biology and simply want to hold on to the illusory power that disappeared with the Borgias….

Over at Enlightened Catholicism is discussed Eugene Cullen Kennedy’s piece at The National Catholic Reporter:


The Reform of the Reform may be better understood not as an exaggerated exercise in nostalgia as much as the debilitating side-effect on being unable to adjust to the Space/Information Age that has ended the division between the earth and the heavens that was the theoretical basis for hierarchical structures. By healing the centuries old presumed rift between earth and the heavens the Space/Information Age also healed the separation of the human person into antagonistic elements of body and soul, flesh and spirit. It is difficult for hierarchs to adjust to the Space/Information Age because they cannot get their bearings easily unless they sit atop an hierarchical array; they fear going into free fall in the universe in which there is no center, no up and no down, and so they want to reconstruct the times and places, the Time and Again of an age before Vatican II in which they feel that they will be comfortable again.

There is something poignant about these would-be time travelers who pull back from the future that is already enveloping them. They remind one of the travelers in the desert described by Freud in explaining the difficulty many people have in letting go of the past. When the sun goes down and the air turns bitter cold, such pilgrims long to return to the remembered warmth of campfires they had left behind them. They cannot return to them because they have cooled to ashes and the winds have mixed them with the billowing waves of sand. The Reform of the Reform is built on just such understandable but misplaced longing, is bound to disappoint those who invest their hearts in its success, may generate centrifugal pressures in the heart of the Church, and one day, long after it has failed, be judged not as an inviting oasis worth a long journey but a cruel and seductive illusion of the unforgiving sands of time.

But the blogger at EC speaks for me when she says:

 It’s very very sad to me, that at a time when the collective consciousness of this planet is finally choosing to see that we are all inner connected and no culture can pretend to live in a hermetically sealed vacuum, the Vatican is attempting to recreate Catholicism’s own hermetically sealed vacuum.  As Kennedy says, this is a cruel and seductive illusion of the long ago shifted sands of time.  It really is destined to fail.

The last gasps of social relevancy seem to be coming long and hard right now….

3 comments on “A Commentary on the “Reform of the Reform” of The Catholic Church

  1. froggy12 says:

    The two bozos, sorry, bishops, seem to be fixated on power and (canon) law – charity and love are fine in sermons and poems. The bishop of Phoenix was a product of the North American College in Rome; the anti-Union bishop fo Madison is/was a Jesuit. Need I say more?

    Imagine what would happen if they were (mis) leading a diocese in Northern Europe? A read of the print media in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands would be an eye opener.

    God do work in mysterious ways or has a sick sense of humor.

    Amen, amen, dico vobis: Get a life bozos! One in the world of working people, the 99% who worry about reality.



  2. d.g. says:

    Responding to this exerpt from Eugene Cullen Kennedy, I find his response essentially correct but disappointingly dismissive. His reference to Freud’s desert analogy is key, yet he turns the lock without opening the door. Nostalgia for that warm, wombish time when a correctly-codified hierarchy of heavens and humans, body and soul, put every spirit, person (and yes, thought) in its “rightful” place may indeed be at the core of the Reform of the Reform. But it is more than this. Those keying the locks at the Vatican are of an age: generally and relatively old. Male, certainly. White, mostly. Male, white, generally old at 53, I remember in particular the physical changes in a small, rural, mostly-Irish Catholic church of about 85 members, of whom about 25% attended mass. Lights. Carpet. Flannel banners with stylized doves glued against French blue backdrops and nuns…nuns with guitars. Singing nuns. The novelty lasted about twenty-four months. Even my teen-aged older siblings became bored with the new songs, the new “art”….all arguably aimed at keeping them in the church, both physically and spiritually. Doctrinal changes aside, the decorating was terrible, the songs forgettable and the flagrant courting of transient culture embarrassing. Ritual. What was lost was ritual. This is the code Mr. Kennedy misses in his analysis. Midnight mass at 10 p.m. All the house lights left up bright. Easter without the incense. Without the million candles in the eyes of a ten-year-old boy. Nostalgia for ritual is not Freudian. More like Jungian. And even though the refounding Fr.’s involved in the Reform of the Reform may not have identified it for themselves, it is for this ritual so many search. And the space/information age unquestioningly is characterized by a resurgence in the search for ritual. While these white males in Rome may indeed be on to something…they likely will be the last to know. Doctrine and the illusion of control gained therewith will likely (if it already has not) lead them far from this serendipitous discovery. But simply going back to the future of human longing is not a bad thing. Beneath the magnificent ceiling of St. Francis Church in Missoula, Montana, one can attend midnight mass at midnight. And
    leave positively unable to have joined in any of the musical liturgy. Without that deep infusion of frankincense and myrrh. This is no ephemeral oasis. It is why astrological consultants are flourishing. Why mother’s run marathons the day they are due to deliver their baby. Why kids camp on courthouse lawns. Meaning isn’t nostalgic; it is deeply personal and takes even the ostensibly sane in some crazy directions. Would that Rome had some bright fashion consultant
    to simply say, “Hey boys, let’s lose the rigid judgmental stances and the women with doilies on their heads, but let’s include some candles, some incense, some silent prayer, and one song from every decade in the musical liturgy. And let’s make the organist play notes everyone can sing. Turning the “Our Father” into
    an operatic exercise is in bad taste. And we are better than that.” Hopefully so.


  3. froggy12 says:

    You are talking about the US Church. Back in the 70s “we were not ready to receive Communion in our hands” or so I was told when I returned from a year in France. The Europeans had no problems with just plain folk taking the host in their hands at Communion. They had a vibrant liturgy, especially in the monasteries. But the they had no Anglo-Irish heritage, and had dumped jansenistic traits (for the most part) unlike their trans-Atlantic co-religionists. They understood ritual for what it is, not a chore as some US clergy feel. They certainly are not afraid of music, sung or played.

    Then along comes the “I AM BISHOP – I AM POWER, AUTHORITY! THE BOSS and don’t you forget it. They teach and preach, humility except when they feel a threat to their power. And frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass what they huff and puff; they’re a bunch of oral masturbators who get off on the sound of their voices, their licets and non licets and they can take their ex cathedras and feed it to their simpering lap dogs.

    It was written that the nuns of Port Royal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port-Royal-des-Champs) were pure as angels but proud as devils. I don’t know if I can apply that phrase to the bishops since I don’t know how pure they are. God forbid that I be judgemental.

    At least we don’t to listen to harmonized Gregorian chant by the choir of 2 plus organist for when they had Month’s Mind Mass for the Dead, or the yearly anniversaries on the actual date. Now people settle for the closest Sunday if they are lucky. And people didn’t think little altar boys paid attention! Who could forget “Good Night Sweet Jesus” as a closing hymn for Friday Night Novena? Diabetics were in peril. No wonder some folks became Quakers. The silence.

    Happy Full Moon to you all as well.



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