The Great Facade
The Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church from Vatican II to the Francis Revolution
by Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Less than two days ago, Pope Francis brought out a document restricting the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. I needed something to focus on. It has been a pleasure and an incentive to read this book.When the book first came out in 2002, I read it and had some reservations. In this second edition, Christopher Ferrara has added six new chapters on the Benedict reprieve and the Francis revolution. In 2002, I was in awe of Pope John Paul II. To some extent, I still am. Sadly, we now also know that he ordained bishops who have seriously damaged the Church. And he made some other errors of judgement that have in turn led to our current woes.
Let us begin by noting what this book is not about. It is not saying that the Second Vatican Council is a false council. It is not saying that the liturgy introduced by Paul VI is invalid. It is not saying that the popes since Vatican II are false popes. This book is an encouragement for traditional Catholics to stay in the Church and to promote tradition.
The book notes that the Second Vatican Council was the first pastoral council in the history of the Church. This does not mean it is not infallible when reiterating what has always been taught on faith and morals. But what about the issue that concerns me most at present, the liturgy? The decree on the liturgy is actually quite conservative. Latin is to be retained. Gregorian chant should take pride of place. There is nothing in favour of communion in the hand or communion standing. There is no mention that the priest has to face the people. But there are ambiguities to be found in the document.
Sufficient for someone like Archbishop Bugnini to create a liturgy that would not have been recognised by most of the bishops attending the council. As the liberal liturgist Joseph Gelineau put it so well following the liturgical changes: "the Roman rite as we knew it, no longer exists."
And that is what this book is demonstrating. In a recent survey of American Catholics, it is reported that a very large number of the laity do not believe in the Real Presence. Any decent sociologist or psychologist would have pointed out that this is hardly surprising. In far too many places, the liturgy is no more than an exercise in social engagement, intended to make us feel good about ourselves. When a "differently-ordered" person, in the words of James Martin, is asked what it would mean for him to receive Holy Communion, he would normally say that this would affirm him in the choices he was making. Nothing would be mentioned about receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord.
Christopher Ferrara rightly praises Pope Benedict for returning the Traditional Latin Mass to its rightful place in the life of the Church and for saying that it had never been abrogated. I was never keen about the Traditional Latin Mass being described as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. Neither, it would seem, is Pope Francis. As traditional catholics, we must stay in the Church, pray for the Pope and say or do nothing that would undermine our cause. Demographics is destiny. Lots of young couples with many children attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Most seminarians I have spoken to love it. So do so many young priests. As we embrace our recent cross, let us do everything possible to encourage people of all races and classes to attend this Mass. This Mass is not and never should be for an elite few. That, in the words of Pope Francis, is the way of Gnosticism, Pelagianism and Rigidity. It is not the way of Catholicism.
Moving away from liturgical matters, the book is rightly critical of the recent Synods on the family in both its ordinary and extraordinary forms.
Much that was good was said. Sadly, most of us will only remember them for seemingly undermining marriage as a life-long union of one man and one woman. Mercy is to be shown for the "differently-ordered." But there is not much mercy shown to those who wish to uphold the constant teachings of the Church.
This book was important in 2002. It is more important now.