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Article: Could the Latin Mass Save Western Civilization?

July 10, 2007

Charles Coulombe / Taki’s Top Drawer:

The horrors of World War II damaged the self-confidence in the Catholic ethos of the generation of clerics who lived through them. This would play a big part in the events of Vatican II and its aftermath. However one wishes to view those occurrences, the fact remains that by 1970, the Church appeared to be in an acute state of what Paul VI called “auto-demolition.” Although the Holy See under John Paul II contributed heavily to the fall of the Soviet Union , and its role in the diplomatic world expanded, the Church’s ability to counter the self-destructive tendencies in Western Culture became severely limited. Supposedly Catholic legislators throughout the West (even including such clerics as Congressman Robert Drinan, S.J.) joined gleefully in wrecking the moral and political heritage of centuries. Bishops themselves often quietly acquiesced in this, refusing to discipline such members of their flock as, say, Teddy Kennedy, for their anti-Catholic voting patterns. This was, however, emblematic of said prelates’ attempts to purge the Church of every vestige of the Catholic past.

Nowhere were these attempts more obvious than with the liturgy, the center of the Catholic religion. Most particularly, the classical form of the Catholic Mass and various other Sacraments was virtually banished from almost every nook of Christendom. With it went much of the distinctive Catholic identity—so much a part of the very foundation of Western culture. As the Harvard historian Christopher Dawson famously remarked, culture flows from “cult,” or worship; when forces internal or external root out the forms or content of religious practice in a civilization, they have essentially cut out its heart–the brain will follow.

After some 36 years of liturgical controversy, Pope Benedict XVI, on Saturday, July 7, 2007, in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, has liberated the ancient Roman liturgy, which, after September 14 of this year, may be celebrated by any priest anywhere in the Catholic world. This action was angrily attacked by a number of bishops and other liberal Catholics in the weeks leading up to its promulgation.


…the health of the Catholic Church was and is integral to the health of the West. If our civilization is to withstand its current slate of internal and external foes—throughout Europe and the Diaspora—it must regain its hold on the things that first enkindled its spirit. Restoration of liturgical sanity and unity within the Catholic Church will inevitably have a beneficial “trickle-down” effect far beyond the Church’s borders. Those who prize the health of the West must welcome Benedict XVI’s action, regardless of their own creed.

Of course, this is only one part of the new Pope’s apparent program—all of which, however, tend to the same ends. His ongoing efforts at the formation of an Anglican Rite within the Catholic Church bode well for members of that Communion who are disgusted with their hierarchies’ headlong retreat from Christian orthodoxy and morality. The Pope’s initiatives to shore up the beleaguered Patriarchate of Constantinople show an authentic desire to move past the hatreds and bitternesses of the past that have so long sundered East and West. Recent moves to discipline erring theologians and free the Catholics of China are very hopeful signs that the long slumber of the post-Vatican II era is over. With Benedict’s encouragement, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Mexico City has excommunicated the Mayor and City Council of his town, who have introduced abortion to their bailiwick (although they seem less capable of policing the streets). This is an example that—given the caliber of his episcopal appointments— may well be echoed one day in New York , Boston , or even Washington.

Should the Pope be successful in his attempts to straighten the course of the Barque of Peter, it will of course be of immense benefit to his own flock. But more importantly, to the non-Catholic, it will restore the Church’s ability to function as effective a watchdog over the health of the body politic of the West as ever she did under Pius XI…

Full article here.


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