Lethe Flows Into Tiber…

“It has even seemed to me that all the excruciating work, accomplished by the last two popes to save the Church from the tailspin in which they found her, is being undone, and we are repeating all the mistakes of the 1960s and ‘70s, as if nothing had been learned.

“That is my opinion, and of course I could enlarge upon it, pointlessly. I think I could be characterized as a ‘conservative’ or a ‘traditionalist’ or even a ‘reactionary.’ I am happy to wear the epithets, for I think these are the very qualities that have repeatedly saved the Church, in her interactions with the modern, i.e. post-Reformation, world.

“Or from her beginning, for that matter; for in my understanding it is not the business of Holy Church to change with the times. It is her business to change the world, rather than be changed by it. To be “liberal” or ‘reformist’ or ‘progressive’ is to be – in most acceptations of those words – to be on the other side, entirely. We should think instead in terms of ‘recovery’ and ‘restoration’; of ‘revolution’ as return, not breaking out of orbit.”

— David Warren, http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2014/in-the-matter-of-cardinal-raymond-burke.html, 19 September 2014


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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6 Responses to Lethe Flows Into Tiber…

  1. Tony Jokin says:

    I cannot help but ask, did the “last two Popes” really do enough? If we were to study their pontificates, we find at least little tid-bits scattered here and there, prefiguring what we see today. If they really wanted to stop the Church from spinning out of control, why didn’t they just go back to the way things were and start over from that point? I think they believed that if they could just make people stop innovating after a certain number of iterations, then we can just proceed from that point. We just happen to be at a moment where those leading the Church feel that there needs to be more iterations of innovations before we call it quits. Perhaps they actually believe in iterating indefinitely until the system itself reaches some equilibrium point with the world at which moment the world will be at peace and everyone is happy.

  2. Tony:

    The bad news is that no pope can ever do enough to fix the Church, though I think they can start doing more (in the next papacy at the soonest). The good news is that no pope can ever do so much as to destroy the Church. I think at some point the populist project is going to run out of steam, and even backfire, and the pews will become MASSIVELY depopulated, leading to that bittersweet future in which the Church is MUCH smaller yet also much more committed, member for member. The Church has been trying the soft-sell, lowest-common-denominator approach for decades, but people are too savvy not to read this is an admission of low value. If you pitch “The Catholic Thing” as a soft-sell, pearls-to-swine, take-it-or-leave-it, we’re-here-for-you, the-customer-is-always-right way, then of course people will be driven to higher-end products. Am I making sense here? People take for granted what’s offered at a low barrier. At some point, baubles like Francis and Maradiaga are going to lose their lustre, and the lukewarm majority will dwindle.

  3. Tony Jokin says:


    I see what you mean but this is what is bugging me.

    I feel that the leaders of the Church have a goal that is unrealistic in the first place. The Church seems to think that there is this magical way of saying or doing things that will magically reach out and touch every soul and the whole world will want to become Catholic. So any pastoral policy we have that during which someone will apostatize or remain outside the Church is taken as proof that the policy is inadequate.

    In this mindset, traditional Catholicism is never making a come back. It is historical fact for them that there were those who remained outside the Catholic Church during traditional Catholicism and nothing could be done other than instruct them and pray that they will change their heart. Therefore, traditional Catholicism is a failed model that no one should entertain anymore.

    So now you have two groups among these leaders. One group seems to believe that the only way to accommodate everyone in to the Catholic Church is to reduce the essential (or required) elements of the Catholic faith for salvation to a minimum set of precepts. This minimum set will be chosen such that it accommodates all sorts of beliefs and actions. The full set will be kept for those who simply wish to follow it all and are capable of doing so. But it is not really necessary. Cardinal Kasper and the Vatican II liberal lines seem to fit this group.

    The other group seems to think that there is a hypothetical way that we have not yet discovered which does not require such a reduction. They believe that we must find this magic sweet spot of a policy. Some of them might look at tradition as having few elements we can perhaps use as the first approximation from which to begin our iteration. All the Popes seem to belong to this category perhaps with the exception of Pope Francis.

    But if the above is true, we will never see the Church return to traditional Catholicism till the world has ended or the Church decides to abandon the unrealistic goal. The Kasper model might die. The Francis model or the Maradiga model might come to an end. But new models will begin with each new Pope or Cardinal with enough influence. That seems to be consistent with what we see.

    The only way out of this mess is if the Church comes to terms with the fact that some will reject the gospel and she is not the one that needs to take the blame for it. It is the individual’s fault for rejecting the gospel. She also needs to come to terms with the fact that such rejection has consequences and that it is not the Church’s duty to comfort such individuals. More importantly, she needs to realize she has a duty to encourage a way of life that first preserves the faith of those who are already in the Church. She cannot undermine that out of some mistaken guilt toward those opposing the Church and staying outside of it.

    I think we are perhaps a far cry away from the Church coming to terms with the idea that some will reject the gospel, for no fault of the Church, and likely be damned because of it. So dwindling numbers will continue to have the opposite effect of more and more novel models how the Church should look,act, and talk.

  4. Branch says:

    “The only way out of this mess is if the Church comes to terms with the fact that some will reject the gospel and she is not the one that needs to take the blame for it. It is the individual’s fault for rejecting the gospel. ”

    Yes! I think a priest who gets this is Msgr. Charles Pope. He presents and challenges, but does not ‘accomodate’. It is the only option. It was Christ’s way.

  5. drprice2 says:

    “I think at some point the populist project is going to run out of steam, and even backfire, and the pews will become MASSIVELY depopulated, leading to that bittersweet future in which the Church is MUCH smaller yet also much more committed, member for member.”

    A second run at laxism just may leave laxist bishops staring exhausted daggers at flocks more inclined to rigor? That’s a happy thought. But the sad part is that it will be a smaller flock, indeed.

  6. Dale:

    It’s funny that you mention clerics staring daggers. This Sunday at the New Mass there were two extremely disruptive children in the second aisle from the front, whose adult-things were not handling at all. At one point I caught the girl’s eyes and slowly but very distinctly shhhhh’d her. During the consecration and following, the priest was visibly shooting daggers at the mother, which finally got her to shush the girl a couple times.

    As for the adult-thing of the boy–who ended up being allowed to play on the altar rail during the recessional–he saw fit to wave yet a few more peace signs at his buds across the way, during the Sanctus, I believe.

    Point being, I felt bad for the priest, but I knew: it’s a feature not a bug. If bishops would just do the New Mass according to its own rubrics, and really stick to their guns, we’d see huge progress, the Usus Antiquior aside. But people “get it”. A thing shabbily and loosely done, is a cheap and trivial thing, and there’s no reason kids should be “good in Church” if the whole thing is a cheap and trivial convention. Shooting daggers is attacking the symptoms, and I pray he heeds his conscience–worship should be more august and God-centered–by exploring traditional liturgical piety.

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