More Catholic than the Pope

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More Catholic than the Pope
Patrick Madrid and Pete Vere

Bought this on a whim yesterday. I've been accosted by the various arguments of the ultratraditionalist/schimatic crowd and had not even realized that these were some of the pervasive themes of discontent. Perhaps you've seen them as well--"Vatican II wasn't a doctrinal council, merely a pastoral council, " etc. The first time I encountered this, I hadn't the foggiest notion that there was such a distinction (as Madrid and Vere explain, there isn't) and didn't know what to make of it even if there were.

This book is a mite too technical for me. Mr. Vere is a canon lawyer, and the first half of the book is a detailed description of exactly what went on in the establishment of SSPX and the schism of Archbishop Lebfevre. (And, schism it was by any version of Canon law you care to use for analysis.) They also explain the phenomenon of Campos, Brazil (a former SSPX diocese reunited with the Catholic Church).

The second part of the book is an exposition of several arguments used against the Catholic Church by SSPX adherents. For example, the St. Pius V edict assuring the availability of the Tridentine Mass in perpetuity, the "heresy" of Paul VI (implicity I suppose of John XXIII) and of John Paul II (often compared to the "heresy" of Pope St. Liberius, etc.).

What was nice about this book is that it clarified for me certain points that I have seen made by the adherents of SSPX. What it doesn't really provide, and cannot in the scope of so short a study is the psychology behind it. This must come from the extreme traditionalists themselves. (And I assume that the "extreme traditionalists" that Madrid and Vere refer to are, in fact, schimatics of various stripes--not those who while remaining within the Church and loyal to Rome demand access to the wonderful treasury of riches that is the Tridentine Mass.

What I fail to understand, and what I would like to see more of a discussion of, is why the Tridentine Mass was suppressed in the first place. That seems to have been a major tactical error on the part of the Council--or perhaps a usurpation of the council's good meaning by those who had in mind a new agenda. I suppose I shouldn't speculate as to reason, given that I have a very poor understanding of events overall.

That leads me to another point that I hope bodes well for my own diocese. Our Bishop (a good, weak man) has recently retired and the Adjutator Bishop recently had been installed (or perhaps will be installed--much goes on at that level that I am out of touch with). It is my profound hope that this changing of the guard will allow us to have established within the diocese at least one place at which one might attend the Traditional Latin Mass, and thus I would finally have an experience of it. We'll see.

Anyway, back to the book--for those interested in the division caused by Archbishop Lefebvre and the canon law and statues surrounding it, this book is an excellent, beginning resource. I found some of the "what if" scenarios a tad wearisome, but I don't think I was the intended audience for them. Messers Madrid and Vere are speaking to people like me, but one of the real audiences for this book are those who are considering abandoning the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church for the preservation of a cherished past. Nevertheless, the book overall is quite fine and does provide a reasonable and interesting assessment of the Lefebvre affair and its schismatic aftermath.

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howdy mr r - typing w baby

annibale bugnini's beautifully-organized "the reform of the liturgy" may answer why that form of the mass was suppressed. hefty book from liturgical press.

The psychology of those who joined the SSPX would be interesting. I remember reading one blog that started to drift into the rad trad prospective. I can see how it can happen, especially for converts to see the Church and its liturgy as other then what they read about. The idea of the Church apostosizing seems to be something that has appealed to many; whether it is Mormons, JW, Protestants, or Catholics. For me as I see some of the dysfunction in the Church I can easily identify with Peter as he heard about the Eucharist when he said "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;" This is an attitude that we should all adopt. To trust totally in God despite the outward appearances and inefficiencies of the Church.

As for the effects of Vatican II. What happened to the Mass had very little to do with the council especially since it favorably referenced both Latin and Gregorian Chant. Vatican II did not live up the expectations of the sixties of a radical change in Church teaching (especially its sexual morality). Those who implemented the reforms had confused progress with mere change.

As I understand it, the Pius V MASS wasn't suppressed at all. It's the same mass as the Paul VI MASS.

What was suppressed, was a MISSAL, and it was suppressed by a judgment of the leaders of the church.

This may seem like a pedantic rhetorical point, but the fact is that the missal was modified several times in the church's history, both before and after Pope St. Pius V of happy memory. Adherents of the Tridentine missal will argue that the alterations after the pope were relatively minor, and they won't be entirely wrong, but...

...what about the breviary? The breviary was also modified before and after Pope St. Pius V, in fact I have read that the breviary was radically restructured by Pope St. Pius X. This, despite the fact that Pope St. Pius V placed the same prohibitions on modifying the breviary that he placed on the missal. It's rather odd that the SSPX uses the Pope St. Pius X breviary, instead of the breviary of Pope St. Pius V.

Dear Jack,

I don't really know the answers, and I don't expect that you thought I would; however, as to suppression, I use the language used in the book, which, while sympathetic to traditionalist causes tends to be relatively even-handed in its treatment. Perhaps they were speaking from the SSPX perspective when they used the term.

At any rate, I'm too ignorant of this era of Church History (or for the most part of Church History at all) to make an informed judgment outside of what I have just read. As to the breviary, I know even less. I do, however, wish it would undergo another radical transformation and employ a more felicitous translation of the psalms and texts. I'd go for the 1660ish BCP if I can't have KJV (preferred) or Douay Rheims or even RSV (sometimes a little clunky, but overall preserving the flavor of the great classic translations.). Who do I petition for the next great revision?





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 24, 2004 9:21 AM.

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