How is Modernist Catholicism supposed to work anyway?

Why be a Catholic?  Because the Church’s dogmas are true?  The modernist, the Spirit-of-Vatican-IIist denies this.  Are Her Scriptures, theological and mystical schools worthless then?  Oh, no:  they express a people’s (imaginary) encounter with the transcendent.  This might indeed be worth preserving and celebrating if this people possess some distinct spiritual genius.  But, no, we can’t have that either.  That would be triumphalism, which is one of the greatest sins, right up there with dogmatism.  Nor can the Vatican II-worshipping modernist really have much attachment to Catholicism as a way of life:  its behavioral norms and communal life.  Devotion to the former would be “moralism”; devotion to the latter would be “ritualism”.  Both, of course, would be morally suspect because they would grant a “superiority”, at least in claims of affection, to one’s own group.

To sum up, a person might conceivably want to be Catholic because of

  1. the beliefs
  2. the people
  3. the rituals

but nowadays, we are taught to despise all three.

9 Responses

  1. @Bonald – I think the RCC has in the past (pre V-II) relied a lot on its conviction of being the one true Church, outwith which there is no salvation, and which will prevail in the end.

    When this belief became insincere, and the behaviour of the Church leaders belied it; then what remained was a deep arrogance that the leadership could pretty much do or say whatever they wanted, make whatever changes they wanted – and the church would still be the one true church and unique source of salvation and would prevail – whatever happened.

    It seems to me that either the leadership must *really* believe the OTC claim and live by it – or else acknowedge that they *must make the right choices* – and if they do not, then RCC will become more and more corrupt until it either becomes a (net) force for evil, or else breaks up, or dwindles and pretty much disappears.

    (And then the church that indeed endures and prevails will either be one of the RCC splinter groups, or a ‘schismatic’ Catholic church such as astern Orthodoxy; or indeed another kind of Christian church altogether.)

  2. This sounds like a restaurant that decided to start serving imaginary food, while at the same time advertising that its service and ambiance were no better than anywhere else. And then it wonders where all the diners have gone.

  3. While I can’t say really whether or not they are wrong, both the Catholic and Orthodox bodies seem to refuse to do something about the fact that so many people in previously religious countries are just nominal adherents. I mean, once baptism is done, there is no “sign out” nor “de-baptise” option, and can’t be.

    The main reason they don’t massively excommunicate people with modernized ways of life is because there is still a small hope that there is something deep down in the peoples’ hearts that prevents them from formally renouncing their traditional religion, and this may be the seed of future national awakenings. Religion is still part of “that which my parents passed down to me”. In Western Europe, even non-believers seem to continue talking about the pope and the bishops as if it’s their business – they feel associated to the Church, in a way different from the wish of its imminent destruction. Many are the militant modernists, but (at least in Europe) few are the militant atheists.

  4. As a non-Christian who visited a number of churches to learn about Christianity, I don’t understand why serious Catholics don’t just switch to Eastern Orthodoxy. This video pretty well sumarizes the difference that I saw.

    Eastern Orthodox Christianity seems like a more serious religion to me.

  5. Franklin:
    An RC who converts to EO is automatically excommunicated. So even though the EO have valid orders and valid sacraments, any ex-RC who attempts to participate in them commits mortally sinful sacrilege each and every time.

    So it isn’t something you’d want to do based on aesthetic judgment or some other criteria.

  6. Maybe it’s because “serious Catholics” tend not to be heretical schismatics, more or less by definition.

  7. When this belief became insincere, and the behaviour of the Church leaders belied it; then what remained was a deep arrogance that the leadership could pretty much do or say whatever they wanted, make whatever changes they wanted – and the church would still be the one true church and unique source of salvation and would prevail – whatever happened.

    Well, from the RCC perspective, this is kind of true anyway — the Church is still the true Church regardless of the scumminess of the scoundrels who run it. Ex opere operato and all that. But I think you’re on to something in that the emphasis seems to have transitioned recently from the truth which the hierarchy possesses and passes on, a sort of fact or given about the Church, to the mere act of possessing that truth, so that the Church’s tactical decisions about how to behave or relay those truths becomes an issue of much lesser importance instead of a component of that same givenness.

    Maybe the disaster that has befallen the Church is the wages of ultramontanism.

  8. They really found the worst we have to offer. Thankfully, the RC mean liturgical reverence, while significantly lower than the EO, is accompanied by a much higher standard deviation. In the same city you can find a homosexual-outreach mariachi Mass AND a Latin Missa cantata, both celebrated by diocesan priests in full communion with their bishop.

  9. “One has waited for a long time for a persuasive answer to the question of why, if the canonical litany of left-liberal demands were met, Catholicism would not be very much like oldline liberal Protestantism. Perhaps like the Episcopal Church, except very much bigger and with shabbier liturgical practices. The Catholic left has little interest in, or capacity for, addressing the question of what makes Catholicism distinctively Catholic, and liberal Catholics have not called them to account on that score.”

    —Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, “The Persistence of the Catholic Moment”, First Things, Feb. 2003

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