The anti-traditional tendency

The anti-traditional tendency

I want to be clear that in my previous blog entry when I spoke of the a need not to become mired in the past but to embrace a growing, but rooted vision of the Church and tradition, I don’t think I meant what Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, did in his ordination homily a couple of weeks ago.

There are some in the Church today who do not look forward in hope with the eyes of faith but tend to be preoccupied with looking back in some kind of nostalgia for a Church they never experienced prior to the Second Vatican Council. I encourage you to study the history of the Church as a living and developing tradition and not to look back as Lot’s wife did or you might end up being a pillar of salt rather then the “salt of the earth.”

He then derided the triumphalist, juridical, and clericalist strains of those who are in danger of becoming “pillars of salt.” He says that rather than “aggressive condemnation and excommunication,” we can’t “impose the Gospel on the world.” He’s opposed to the juridicist who focuses on “creating unnecessary hoops for people to jump through,” especially with regard to liturgical practice, but then what constitutes “unnecessary” here? Aren’t some hoops necessary or do we allow a liturgical free-for-all?

The bishop also says the new clericalism creates an “authoritarianism” that “gives little merit to collaboration with the laity.” But is this really a problem? What I see most often is an anti-clericalism that turns most priests into “sacrament machines”. In fact, the clericalism you’re most likely to see these days is the kind when a “progressivist” priest pulls out the authority card to put down those who yearn for a more conservative or traditional piety.

There are two lamentable tendencies in the Church that are like mirror images of one another: the tendency I mentioned before for some people to get stuck in the past as if 1955 was the high point of Church culture and no legitimate development could occur past that point and the similar tendency to regard anything that happened prior to 1962 as ancient history unworthy of progressive, modern folk who are too smart to require the coddling that the old ways provided their parents and grandparents.

Both paths should be avoided. Sadly many travel one or the other, including some bishops, priests, and laity.


Written by
Domenico Bettinelli