It is quite astounding. Young Fogey for some time has been pushing for Roman Catholicism. I thought he was quite ultramontanist in his ideas, constantly going on about the necessity of an “infallible authority”. Well, he seems a pleasant person with lots of interests and eccentricities like his love for classical automobiles and other artefacts of the “old days” from hats to razors to what gentlemen used to put in their hair to make it shine. They say – whatever floats your boat, and I have my own interests and eccentricities, including boats that float!
We can’t always be totally coherent in our thinking, balancing our beliefs with pragmatic considerations. It’s no use believing in something that has absolutely no practical application. One is brought to think of Tantalus and the water that is so near yet so far, giving rise to the English word tantalize.
My attention was brought to the following opinion by the fact it links to one of my articles.
Fr C on low-church Pope Francis. Again, if he just leaves us alone I’ll be fine. If not, if Francis turns out to be Paul VII, laymen have several options: go back to hunkering down at the lowest Sunday Novus, as for the past 40 years; Greek Catholic; or the SSPX or other irregular trads, as long as they’re not a separate church in principle. We will have the Mass. I know: what about sacraments that depend on jurisdiction? State of emergency in the church: if the local putative Catholics are really liberal Protestants, you do what you have to. Archbishop Lefebvre’s eternal Rome, not local usurpers.
Though this person speaks of the absolute necessity of being a Roman Catholic, the approach is the fairly classical theory of the traditionalists, almost a form of dissimulated conciliar Catholicism. The authority is no longer the Pope but the notion of Tradition and the consent of the body of the Church, even if an Ecumenical Council is not involved. This was precisely the disputed point between Paul VI and Archbishop Lefebvre. For Paul VI, the Pope is the living Magisterium. For Archbishop Lefebvre, the Tradition limits the use of Papal authority. This second position would certainly make sense to me, but many conservatives place the authority of the Pope as an absolute.
I simply go through a few phrases of this quote.
Again, if he just leaves us alone I’ll be fine.
This is exactly the spirit of Gallicanism or Germanic conciliarism. The Pope is a symbol of the Church’s unity, but of the bene esse of the Church, not the esse. It is also the attitude of Germanic progressives today – one can’t have one’s cake and eat it!
If not, if Francis turns out to be Paul VII, laymen have several options: go back to hunkering down at the lowest Sunday Novus, as for the past 40 years; Greek Catholic; or the SSPX or other irregular trads, as long as they’re not a separate church in principle.
I admire the courage of those who have persevered over the years. We do have to remember that far more have abandoned any practice of Catholicism. It is a frequent assumption that the numbers plummeted because of the liturgical changes. This is unlikely because even officially approved Tridentine masses remain very marginal. I won’t speculate about the causes, but the traditionalist theories are too simplistic. So, the distinction between Catholic and schismatic is not being a “separate church in principle”. This gives justification to more serious ecclesial aberrations like priests operating without episcopal oversight or becoming episcopi vagantes under some pretext of “epikeia” or “emergency” canonical situation. Quite frankly, the constitution of Continuing Anglican Churches is more healthy in ecclesiological terms than this kind of brain-twisting.
Indeed, there is the problem of Sacraments depending on Ordinary Jurisdiction – marriage and penance-absolution. Who is to be the judge of a genuine canonical “emergency” or a priest flouting Church discipline and following his own fancy? That is unless they are going to be a Church with only five Sacraments, and less than that if they have no bishops.
Perhaps our friend could come to the conclusion that it was sunny weather yesterday but raining today. Continuing Anglicanism is far from perfect, and human error makes life difficult – but we are a Church of all weathers!
Indeed, conciliar ecclesiology makes more sense…
Update – YF answers me on his blog:
Fr C writes here on this. When I met him online years ago he was a trad but not in a usual militant trad mold; simpático with me in some ways. We have less in common now he’s joined Continuing Anglicanism but his criticisms of things and people in the Catholic Church, including the trad movement, sometimes are right.
Infallible authority doesn’t necessarily mean ultramontanist. Roman Catholic doesn’t either. The last Pope, for example, wasn’t ultamontanist and never was. In a way his abdicating teaches a lesson he’s taught all his life as a professor and priest about the limits of the papacy (the man’s fallible; the office ex cathedra not). I understand Vatican I actually put the brakes on ultramontanist opinion by clarifying what papal infallibility is not. All more or less Catholic groups believe in a kind of church infallibility: the Eastern churches for example, and I think the Union of Scranton believes something like high Anglicans about the consensus of pre-‘Reformation’ churches’ belief, expressed as the Vincentian canon, being the source of doctrine. Catholicism believes the Pope’s a subset of church infallibility; an essential part of the church, but only part of the church. Tradition’s guardian, who can’t change doctrine.
Trads do have a lot in common with old Western conciliarists such as the Gallicans and old Germans, and with the East in this regard: papal minimalism, or the traditional Catholic religion largely runs itself.
Today’s German progressives, like mainline Protestants, want to change doctrine to fit secularist culture; we don’t, and can’t anyway. Even the Pope can’t.
No to going to priests operating without episcopal oversight, unless there really is no other option (exactly what the church teaches). Being under a bishop is Catholicism 101 right out of patristics.
Continuing Anglicanism’s not an option, because while ’50s-high-Episcopal-style churchmen like Fr J. Gordon Anderson are great, very close to us, I’m afraid they’re wrong about classical Anglicanism; it’s not Catholic.
Just a couple of words from me. He is right to make the vital distinction between those motivated by fidelity to Tradition and progressives who fit in with modern culture and political correctness. As for Continuing Anglicanism not being an option, I have myself discussed the problems of basing everything on a Reformation “default”, something that does create a big difficulty between, for example, the Anglican Catholic Church and, for example, the school of men like Rev. Peter Toon.
If Anglicanism is “English Gallicanism” or “English Conciliarism” that would solve many contradictions, but I can only speak for myself, not for others. Some problems between those claiming to be Roman Catholics, traditionalist or otherwise, are as serious as if not more serious than between “old high-church” Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics.
Perhaps I was a little “binary” in my criticism of YF, but he can also be very binary in his writings. We both need to be subtle and nuanced.