When the Second Vatican took place it was said that the windows of the church were being opened. The idea being that fresh air was desperately needed within a church stuffy, remote and in danger of losing credibility. This may have been an obstute observation. I suspect it was but am too young to remember. It matters not; the problem never was that observation but the reaction to it which later emerged.
See what the church actually needed was a fresh humble approach. Out of touch clerics needed to become approachable to the people of God whilst nevertheless remaining utterly faithful to Christ. The church needed priests who took the faith seriously but not, so much, themselves. Men able to preach with zeal yet laugh at themselves and present a merciful face to the world.
What was delivered instead, perhaps because pride ever runs deep in the clerical realm, was the polar reverse; clerics who continued to take themselves seriously but the faith not so much! Instead of reforming themselves they deviated from the documents and embraced a liberal agenda to reform the faith in the hope this might appease the world and bring about a renewed populism.
If you doubt this consider the arrogance of those who dismissed abused children or who pushed, often by force, for the modernist agenda; the ripping out of altar rails, loss of reverence , etc.. The faithful did not ask for modernism, nor did Vatican II call for it, but that is what they got and many went along because they were faithful. Others, let us be reasonable, embraced the reforms genuinely believing they were healthy. Probably the majority of clergy and faithful were decent and well meaning. The problem is that it has not worked because the wrong reform still took place. They were misguided and so an emptying of pew and seminary followed. One reaps where one sows.
Decline is ever the cost of theological liberalism. Once God’s authority is declared out-dated, it gives way to man. With scripture no longer deemed reliable who but theological experts can guide us? So they an assume authority to become arbiters of divine truth. They decide who is worthy or not of sacramental life via process of accompaniment. They explain which texts no longer mean what they say and which are binding. The experiment of at least a century now.
See how the modernist approach turns us from God to ever greater clericalism! With doctrine a reference point only we are left at the mercy of experts. Disagreement between them means they jostle for power, of course, so the church also becomes political not devout. The faith bending to the world and dancing to the tune of factions. First this then the next. We see it in the liberal overthrow of classical Anglicanism. It now sows its division within the Catholic fold for we seem to be in thrall to pastoral ‘experts’ at present who expend much energy denigrating those who stand by traditional belief and compelling relaxation of conventional church teaching in the name of mercy. Why not a call to fidelity instead?
It would be wise to return to Vatican II. To read the documents afresh and contemplate where wrong turns were made in implementation. Which is what Pope Benedict suggested via reform of the reform, creation of the Ordinariate, Summorum Pontificum, a more faithful translation of the Mass, encouragement of ad orientem etc. Just don’t expect triumphant modernists to applaud for power is intoxicating and they, not the traditional Catholics, are the rigid clericalists.
God save us, again, from the folly of our fallen selves. Help us put you back at the centre of Christian dialogue and searching. May your eternal word and unchanging truths be our guide, not our human desires and political agendas, for without you we are nothing. And we only sow confusion and darkness where you bring clarity and light. Amen