In the last edition, I mentioned that my review of Abbot Gabriel’s book would cover both its positive and its negative aspects. I also mentioned that, should the parts we view as less favorable get more attention, it is not because those outnumber the good parts. Most of the book is a delight to read. If I dwell at length on the negative, it is because the contrasts between the way Father Gabriel and Brother Francis view the Center’s history and the issues which divided Father Feeney’s followers serve as points of clarification for our own position.

The Mass. Ora et Labora (pray and work) is the Benedictine motto. Obviously, how monks pray is a point of great importance to their state in life. While the same can be said of all religious and of all Catholics, the monk has a certain special vocation to pray the social prayer of the Church (the liturgy) and they are at that business for much of their day. There is a short chapter on the Mass in Harvard to Harvard. The chapter touches upon the thorny question of the Novus Ordo vs. the Classical Roman Rite (or “Tridentine Rite” as it is often improperly called). Here is a major point of disagreement between the Abbey and our group. But even here, we can agree with the very apt words the Abbot uses to conclude this chapter:

Father Leonard was a great proponent of the dictum, lex orandi est lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing); however, he always insisted on doctrine first. Without a solid doctrinal foundation, liturgy soon deteriorates into sheer aesthetics. Back in 1949, when the Archbishop of Boston obscured the single, clear path to salvation, a fracturing of the Church’s prayer life was sure to follow. And it did! Everything still looked perfect. 20,000 members of the Holy Name Society marched through Boston’s main thoroughfare; the Mass of Trent was the only Mass being offered; the parish churches were full and new ones being built all the time, but the Faith which held all this together was already slipping away. If the Faith were restored, we would have the right liturgy.

Amen! These words hit the nail on the head. They also contradict entirely the Abbey’s embracing of the New Rite. True enough it is not sufficient to have the Traditional Rite when your theology is modernist. But it is also true that the Traditional Rite and modernist theology could not get along together long. The modernist theology had to develop its own liturgy. Lex orandi lex credendi. The New Rites (not only the Mass, but the other liturgical rites as well) are those rites. This is not to say that there is heresy proper in the actual text of the Novus Ordo in Latin, but there is a terrible watering down, one Father Feeney did not approve.

These are not the knee-jerk reactions of a rabid reactionary. In his book, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, the respected liturgist, Monsignor Klaus Gamber, informs us that:

One thing is certain, the new (liberal) theology was a major force behind the liturgical reforms. (p. 44. The word liberal, in parentheses, is in Monsignor Gamber’s original.)

We also find this gem in the Monsignor’s book:

Without doubt, Martin Luther was the first person who reformed the liturgy; he did so systematically and for theological reasons. (p. 41)

Monsignor Gamber was no contentious armchair theologian of a traditionalist, but a respected German intellectual. The introduction of his book was written by none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

The principle points of the “reform” (demolition) of the New Mass — from the offertory prayers inadequately expressive of sacrifice, to the removal of genuflections honoring the Blessed Sacrament, to the hacking apart of the Roman Canon, to the mutilation of the propers in such a way as to play down certain key doctrines (including no salvation outside the Church), all of them — fit in with the new theology and the new, ecumenical, way of doing things — and Father Feeney was against them. (For a sample of the changes in the Mass downplaying doctrine, see our “The Contradiction of Core” and scroll down to the subheading “The Law of Praying.”) In short, the Mass was made something less offensive to the people who rejected the Mass in the 16th Century. It is, therefore, less expressive of the Catholic Faith.

St. Pius X’s much-abused phrase, “active and conscious participation” — used to describe the way Catholics should assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — is not a justification for the demolition of the Roman Rite. But the Abbot uses the saint’s phrase throughout as an apologetic for the Abbey’s adherence to the New Mass. It is painful to see a disciple of Father Feeney using the logic of the enemy. (The question is obvious: If that is what St. Pius meant, why did he retain the traditional integrity of the Roman Rite?) Father Feeney demanded that the brothers and sisters memorize certain portions of the Mass (Brother Francis, at 93, still knows most of the Canon by heart). He wanted his followers to have a great knowledge of the Mass so that they could pray it with the priest, but it would be madness to make this “participation” some approving prelude to the innovations of the New Mass, as the Abbot implicitly does in the book.

In short, Father Feeney’s advocating a greater awareness of the prayers of the Mass in no way justifies altering those prayers to make them more agreeable to modernists and Protestants.

Religious Liberty. In the chapter entitled “Vatican II and Religious Liberty,” Abbot Gabriel puts himself to the strange task of synthesizing Father Feeney’s thinking with that of his fellow-Jesuit, Father John Courtney Murray. Whereas most would consider Father Feeney and Father Murray to be at opposite theological poles, the Abbot claims,

In actual fact, their intellectual legacy shows the two Jesuits were more aligned than most observers would ever concede. (p. 229)

He goes on to praise Father Murray’s thinking on Church-State relations:

With inimitable Jesuit refinements Father Murray reframed the question of freedom of religion as a question of the competence of the public powers in religious matters. He maintained that the state, as such, is incapable of making religious or theological assertions and that a freedom from governmental coercion is founded on the dignity of the human person. He maintained that there is an inextricable link between man’s inner freedom to choose — free will — and the external freedom from political restrictions of the free exercise of religion. But, he also stressed, the two freedoms are distinct. While preserving the immunity of one’s conscience from coercion, Father Murray never denied that everyone has an obligation to inform his or her conscience. (p. 230)

It is true that Father Murray’s theories did not justify what came after Vatican II in the name of “religious liberty,” i.e., that we are each free to believe or behave as we want to regardless of what the Church teaches. Father Murray advocated the obligation all men have of adhering to the truth. However, for all that, Father Murray’s “Jesuit refinements” on the subject of Church-State relations were still the refinements of a liberal, Americanist Catholic. The “rights” of a Moslem to erect a mosque in a Catholic city (e.g., Rome), or of a Jehovah’s Witness to pass out tracts attacking the divinity of Jesus Christ — rights supposedly based on our human dignity — are non extant, having no basis in the natural law or the divine law.

The kind of separation of Church and State that Father Murray advocated was condemned by St. Pius X as “an absolutely false and most pernicious thesis.” A host of other popes joined this saintly pontiff in condemning the notions that (a) the state as a moral person has no duty to recognize the true religion and (b) the Catholic state must not suppress heresy in the external forum. Pope Leo XIII, in his Longinqua oceani warned that:

it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for the State and the Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced.

Yet, in his praise of the liberal Jesuit, the Abbot notes that:

Father Murray eventually won the sponsorship of prominent American (arch)bishops in his crusade to have Rome accept as universal teaching the concept of religious liberty professed in the United States’ Declaration of Independence (1776) and proclaimed in the U.S. Constitution (1787) and its Bill of Rights (1791). (p. 231)

Abbot Gabriel’s paean to Father Murray contains this caricature of the traditional teaching:

However, few will deny that Father Murray masterfully wrested the foundation of religious freedom away from the embarrassing position of those theologians who insisted that every political leader had an obligation to use his or her God-given authority to prosecute heresy because error has no rights. (p. 231)

This ignores the legitimate “refinements” that were built into the traditional theology, distinctions concerning the Catholic State and the non-Catholic State, as well as on external and internal forum. We are not, for instance, advocating forced conversions or suppression of non-Catholic religions.

Far from being theologically allied with Father Feeney, Father Murray’s thought is liberal. In the words of Father Gabriel:

Further, the focus he {Father Murray} placed on the dignity of the human person has become the theological standard for the Church… . (p. 231)

The “theological standard for the Church” — if that means what can be distilled from certain (non-infallible) documents and policies emanating from the Holy See during these past decades of profound confusion — embraces the ecumenical indifferentism that Father Feeney so roundly condemned. At the center of this indifferentism is a false conception of human dignity that attenuates the Church’s perennial teachings on grace and original sin. This is the theological ambit of Father John Courtney Murray, not of Father Leonard Feeney. It is part and parcel of a whole new outlook on man, the world, and the Church, an outlook ultimately antithetical to Catholic tradition, that is, to Christian doctrine.

Father Murray himself says:

The Declaration {Dignitatis Humanae, which Father Murray helped to author} has opened the way toward a new confidence in ecumenical relationships, and a new straightforwardness in relationships between the Church and the world. (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbot, S.J., general editor, p.673. In the Abbott edition, Murray wrote the introduction to the Declaration, Dignitatis Humanae.)

Apparently, in her previous teaching, the Church was being devious with the world she was trying to convert, as that is the opposite of “straightforward.”

The great Benedictine Abbot, Dom Guéranger (who gets very favorable mention in Harvard to Harvard) was a spiritual writer much beloved of Father Feeney. Dom Guéranger was one of the great ultra-montanists, along with such luminaries as Louis Veuillot, Edouard Cardinal Pie, Venerable Emmanuel d’Alzon, Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald, and Juan Donoso Cortes. These great thinkers, who defended the Church’s traditional social teaching in the face of Revolutionary liberalism, provided much of the intellectual ammunition used by the popes of the 19th and early 20th centuries to condemn the very notions that Father Murray would later defend with “inimitable Jesuit refinements.”

In the entry in his masterful Liturgical Year for the Feast of St. Augustine, Abbot Guéranger goes to great lengths to show that the Doctor of Grace, though advocating mildness toward the Donatist heretics, eventually saw that they had to be suppressed by the Catholic Emperor:

Such mildness was certainly worthy of the Church; but it was destined to be one day brought forward against her in contrast to certain other facts of her history, by a school of liberalism that can grant rights and even preeminence to error. Augustine acknowledges his first idea to have been that constraint should not be used to bring any one into the unity of Christ; he believed that preaching and free discussion should be the only arms employed for the conversion of heretics. But on the consideration of what was taking place before his eyes, the very logic of his charity brought him over to the opinion of his more ancient colleagues in the episcopate.

{There follows a long quote from one of St. Augustine’s epistles, which ends with these words:} ‘No one can become good in spite of himself; nevertheless, the rigorous laws, of which they complain, bring deliverance not only to individuals, but to whole cities, by freeing them from the bonds of untruth and causing them to see the truth, which the violence or the deceits of the schismatics had hidden from their eyes. Far from complaining, their gratitude is now boundless and their joy complete; their feasts and their chant are unceasing.’

Father Murray’s teachings and influence had the net effect of making Spain no longer a confessional Catholic nation. The same goes for the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. With the present Islamification of Europe, the traditional social teaching takes on a new attractiveness. Right now, Bishop Betori, the secretary of the Italian episcopal conference, is still trying to uphold the privileged role the Church still enjoys in Italy, and prominent non-Catholics are crying foul (see “Italian bishop in dispute over legislation on religious equality” on the CWN site).

For a summary of the Church’s traditional social teaching, one would do well to read an author Father Feeney admired, Father Denis Fahey (see The Catholic World of Father Denis Fahey by Brother Lawrence Mary M.I.C.M., Tert.). For a quick summary on the traditional doctrine of Christ the King, see our Mancipia for October, 2006.

Some may argue that the issues of the New Mass vs. the Traditional Mass and of the Social Kingship of Christ pale in comparison to the issue of no salvation outside the Church. This is true at a certain microscopic level and in terms of the foundational importance of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, but the argument misses the point. The Church’s teaching, worship, and practice are all of a piece. “No salvation outside the Church,” in all its vigor, fits into a Catholic world view incompatible with the new liturgical rites and the modern conception of the rights of man.

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