Friday, July 25, 2014
Perhaps my principal difficulty in contributing to this blog "dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory" is the endless plasticity that now molests the denotation -- to say nothing of the connotation -- of the capital-C adjective "Catholic" in so many minds. Most, though by *no* means all, of the disputes among contributors to this blog can -- and *should* -- be traced to their origins in different understandings of what it means to think as a Catholic.
The Second Vatican Council changed no doctrine of the Faith, as it was exactly a "pastoral" Council. The oft-asserted spirit of "Vatican II," however, did, with the help of its enablers, introduce what Chris Ferrara has aptly termed "the regime of novelty" into the life of the Church (see Ferrara and Woods, The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church (2002)). Consider that, these days, the closing of countless parishes on account of the auto-demolition of the Church is couched in terms of "Making All Things New." Hah! Even Rex Mottram would see through the shams that have become the way of diocesan business in so much of the Church in the United States. Here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the much-touted "new springtime" in the Church has resulted in a fire sale (to pick just one among countless possible examples: nursing homes sold ) that will spare precious little of what those who held the Faith built brick by brick in a spirit of sacrifice and appropriate Christian triumph of the Church Militant
The point is, nothing Catholic -- neither doctrine nor discipline -- prevents Catholics from faithfully holding and practicing the Faith as it was held and practiced before the Second Vatican Council. If that Council contributed prudential solutions to today's problems, that prudence has yet to be demonstrated, in my judgment. Rod Dreher asks with characteristic insight "what is traditional Christianity anyway?" The term "Traditional Catholicism" is a piece of pleonasm made necessary by the regime of novelty, but Catholicism will outlive the partisans of novelty, as Cardinal Newman taught us. The true Church is Christ-continued-in-the-world, and the faithful live by the promise made in Matthew 16:18 .