Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Traditionalist Ecclesiology (Practically speaking).

If there is one problem with Roman ecclesiology, and it is a rather large problem, it is the papacy, specially the insistance on universal jurisdiction and infallibility. It leads to statements like this,
There can be no doubt that St. Pius X's revision of the Roman Breviary, beginning in 1911, was quite drastic, taking steps that changed the very structure and format of the breviary after centuries of unbroken use. At the same time, as Fr. Cekada explains in this very accessible introduction, Pius X was addressing a truly grave situation, where the weekly recitation of the entire Psalter had become more or less impossible, both because of the proliferation of feasts over ferial days, and because of a huge burden of psalmody well-suited for monastics but not for seculars. In other words, Pius X was taking the steps he did in order to restore to full honor a fundamental and traditional principle and to balance it properly with, on the one hand, the veneration due to the saints, and, on the other, the exigencies of pastoral life. The 1962 edition of the Breviary has some weaknesses but is still following the same approach. The 1970 Liturgy of the Hours, in contrast, is a radical departure from the Roman tradition in almost every respect.
We plainly have evidence that a "traditional" pontiff took a wrecking ball to the Latin liturgical tradition. However, being that he was "traditional" and must be infallible, we must attempt intellectual acrobatics to find some type of hermeneutical lens with which to codify his actions as Tradition.

Roman ecclesiology leads to a point of cognitive dissonance. It insists upon the affirmation of a human authority with the singular power to arbitrate and legislate and subject to no active correcting mechanism. We find ourselves left with the ultramontanism that provided and continues to the provide the living cultus of recent pontiffs. Otherwise, we're left observing the particular position of Roman traditionalists.

Traditionalists keep bumping up against the same wall, demonstrating that, practically speaking, the history of the papacy since the definition of a particular dogma has demonstrated that such pretensions are untenable. To avoid blatantly rejecting the dogma, the conditions of the dogma, in traditionalist circles, are limited to such precise motions so as to render the whole thing about as credible as magic. They are left then explaining how a number of things they resolutely resist carry no force and are, plainly wrong. Fair enough. But this has practical consequences for ecclesiology. If you can reject a council and the papal interpretation and enforcement of that council, you have stated, practically, that there are limits to jurisdiction and infallibility, that the Roman pontiff is not law unto itself and is indeed subject to criteria to which he can be measured by persons outside of his office. In sum, traditionalists, especially the larger bodies like the SSPX, insist upon a theoretical ecclesiology while practically having developed a Latin ecclesiology more closely related to Orthodox ecclesiology. No sane Orthodox denies the Pope is the Patriarch of Rome (or the West). It is a matter, rather, of this particularly patriarch having assumed powers unto himself that he does not properly have and as a result become dissident. In so far as whatever he says or does or legislates is contrary to the Tradition, he is to be ignored, including his proclamations of juridical and doctrinal power. In so far as what he does, says, or legislates corresponds to the Tradition, he is accorded respect. In all cases, his position as the patriarch of Rome is never denied.

Traditionalists, whether they like it or not, have introduced Orthodox ecclesiology into the Latin Church out of historical necessity. Such ecclesiology is the only way they can justify their existence. They can keep playing a game of cognitive dissonance, but eventually this will no longer be feasible. At some point they have to admit what their ecclesiology really is, drop the ultramontanism, and grow from there.

The Roman Church existed before the Pope. Just ask Paul.

10 comments:

  1. What I found shocking - as the author of the article to which Fr. Cekada refers - is that he took it as supportive of what happened in 1911-13. As to the latest article on Rorate it is quite absurd with its suggestion that nothing changed until Vatican Two. Cognitive dissonance and revisionism write large indeed!

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  2. My complements to you - that was an extremely well written article.

    This is the line a certain group has to tow - the ecclesiology demands seeing the perennial wisdom in changes that we destructive of the ancient Roman tradition so long as said changes exude the aroma of a somewhat romantic notion of what the Roman Church was like in the recent past.

    More troubling, I suppose, is that the preservation of the Latin liturgical tradition has so few resevoirs. I admit that at times the instance on earlier books can border on nitpicking. But there is a case to be made. However, this case cannot be divorced from ecclesiology.

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  3. I had lunch with a certain member of the LMS and a blogger to whom you link on Sunday. The LMS person was arguing that the pope had the authority to change the ancient order of the Roman Psalter, the Eucharistic Fast from midnight etc but not to authorise new anaphorae. Frankly, I find such arguments to be absurd. The history of liturgical reform of the Roman rite, and the wider ecclesiological questions, are not answered but rather confounded by the fallacious 'blame it on Vatican Two' rhetoric.

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    1. I would be very happy man if someone brought the pre-Pius X breviary back into print. I realize there is near absolute zero chance of this happening.

      The scenario outlined by the LMS chairman seems entirely arbitrary. Where is the demonstrative evidence of the cutt off point? He either has the authority or he doesn't. If he doesn't, the honest thing to do is to revisit the ecclesiology.

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    2. V, My apologies for using ambiguous language: it was not the LMS chairman I had to lunch but a member of the committee and also another guest to whose blog you link.

      As I said later to the blogger it all comes back to the same thing and the constructs and revisionisms Traddies are prepared to make to maintain their world view. To revisit the ecclesiology would be far too challenging to their 'Alice in Wonderland' perspective.

      I was fortunate some years ago to find two sets of pre-Pius X breviaries for the princely sum of £10 a set.

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    3. No apology needed - it was late and I should have read your comment more carefully.

      "To revisit the ecclesiology would be far too challenging to their 'Alice in Wonderland' perspective."

      True...sadly.

      "I was fortunate some years ago to find two sets of pre-Pius X breviaries for the princely sum of £10 a set."

      You're kidding me! Really? I don't think I've seen many of them Stateside - I can't imagine what the cost would be.

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  4. The convoluted knots into which Roman Traditionalists tie themselves in order to justify their disloyalty to their infallible and universal pontiff is utterly amazing. Yet they would be the first to call the Orthodox "schismatic".

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    1. Something has to give eventually. I suggest following the de facto ecclesiology where it leads.

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  5. Hey, sorry for being obnoxious, but i would really like to know what your ecclesiology is.

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    1. I think my ecclesiology is evident on the blog.

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