Skip to comments.The Body of the Church: Why the Pope Had to Do What He Did (German Author on Benedict/SSPX)
Posted on 02/11/2009 9:44:15 AM PST by Pyro7480
The Catholic Church is experiencing an unprecedented moment in her recent history. A sacerdotal act of the Pope the removal of the excommunication of four bishops who had been consecrated contrary to the prohibition of his predecessor in the Petrine office encounters an outraged lack of understanding not only of the non-Catholic public but also of many Catholics and even bishops, who have openly renounced their loyalty to the pope. Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, which attempted an opening of the Church to the World, the Catholic Church has been struck dumb - as if she does not recognize any more her own institutions....
Why, however, did the general public not notice that bishop Williamson specifically cannot exercise his office, because the lifting of the excommunication did not affect his suspension from the office of bishop. Instead, they indulged in conjectures as to whether the Pope after all had a secret inclination to anti-Semitism. This, regarding a Pope, who, leaving aside his addresses in Auschwitz and in the synagogue in Cologne, has tried in his theology one could say, like no other pope since Peter - to read and understand the Gospel as the work of the Jews. It even extended as far as the laughable report that the pope had set the conditions for the lifting of the suspension of the bishops only under the pressure of public opinion.
No one should deceive himself: this pope does nothing under the pressure of public opinion....
Every sociologist knows what quickly becomes of small oppositional groups cut off from interaction with reality. That this group was endangered would have been sufficient for a responsible priest to care for it. But more was at stake here: as misfortune would have it, exactly this group had made its mission the preservation of the greatest treasure of the Church.
Even today it is a difficult undertaking to speak of the importance of the liturgy for the Church. Twenty years ago it was almost hopeless finding a sympathetic ear. It was a foregone conclusion for many clerics that the traditional, over 1500-year old liturgy of the Church was decorative mumbo-jumbo for the nostalgic and for aesthetes. It had the same importance for emancipated Christians as the string quartets played on occasions of state have for politics. What had been true throughout the entire history of the Latin Church had been forgotten: that liturgy is the visible body of the Church; that Church and liturgy are identical. It is the mystic depiction of the whole plenitude of revealed truths. It is the locus of faith, where subjective conviction and feeling become objective contemplation and encounter. It is this liturgy which carried the Christian faith through the centuries. The success of the mission in the entire world was owed to its sacrality in liturgical language and chant.
The liturgy had soared above the deep divides of European history because it was equally removed from every epoch into which it entered. It is always unseasonable and therefore always an image of the other reality which awaits man. This great form of the liturgy had been softened up by Paul VIs radical reform of the mass an intervention unheard of in the entire history of the Church. It splintered into a thousand improvisations....
In the last few days it could be heard again and again that the Vatican is incapable of conveying its concerns to the public. It is certainly true that there would have been less excitement among those of good will if, for instance, one had emphasized at the lifting of the excommunications that Bishop Williamson remained suspended until further notice. But one cannot underestimate what black holes of ignorance have been created even in believing Catholics by more than thirty years of neglected religious instruction. These cannot be closed even by the cleverest public relations work. Regarding the pope, broad circles know only that he is for human rights and against condoms. It is happily declared that the Church cant return to before the Second Vatican Council. Few, however, think about the contradictions and need for interpretation of the most important texts of this council.
Does anybody notice that the pope has acted exactly in accordance with the theology of the council in his magnanimous lifting of the excommunications? The restoration of the sacral visage of the church must remain for the majority of worldly observers foreign and incomprehensible. Probably only later generations will grasp that the restoration of liturgical identity was worth a great sacrifice. Building up is, after all, slower than tearing down.
Naturally, things could reach a point that the state and society lose the taste for tolerating within their borders a corporation, which visibly stands under a different law and defends values other than those of the secular majority. The coarseness of a chancellor in an election campaign gives us a foretaste. As was done under Bismarck, the accusation could be made against the Catholics that they are bad citizens of the state because their heart is ultramontane; it clings over the mountains to the pope and his authority.
Ultramontane this word describes perfectly the Catholic mentality: with a small part of ones consciousness to be not German, not contemporary, not cosmopolitan. Despite all distrust, the commonwealth does not have to fare ill with such members the result of the constant tension between the Pope and the Emperor in the Middle Ages was nothing less than the European idea of freedom.
Martin Mosebach is a brilliant writer.
Yes. It was one of those books where I had to read a bit, pause, read a bit, pause, etc. Not because it was difficult to understand, but because it had such stunning insights.
Yeah, it really is packed full of rich content. I loved it.
My only question -- what on earth is Der Spiegel doing publishing this article? It is about the last thing I would expect them to give column space to.
“No one should deceive himself: this pope does nothing under the pressure of public opinion.”
Do muslims count among the “public”?