13 October 2015


When you get your copy of THE GREAT FACADE with its hundreds of new pages by Chris Ferrara, you're most likely to turn to the up-to-the-minute relevant chapters at the end. With such a book, ones instinct can be to read it from the back ... as if it were Hebrew ... But, if you haven't 'done' the original 2002 chapters, you might miss one of their important themes. It is Chris Ferrara's dispute with the people he calls 'neo-Catholics'. Neo-Catholicism "is the idea that with the advent of the Second Vatican Council a new sort of orthodoxy suddenly arose in the Church - an orthodoxy stripped of any link to ecclesiastical traditions once considered an untouchable sacred trust. It is the idea that by virtue of Vatican II the Church has, in some manner never clearly explained, progressed beyond what she was before the Council to a new mode of existence, and that this progression requires an assent on the part of the faithful that is somehow different from the assent required to the constant teaching of all the previous councils and popes ... in essence, whatever the Pope says or does in the exercise of his office is ipso facto 'traditional' and incontestable by the Pope's subjects."

Neo-Catholicism often has an attractive face. The producers of the bulletin Adoremus resist the banalisation of the Ordinary Form and its corruption by clergy who ignore its rubrics and introduce illegal vulgarities. They would (like George Wegel) praise S John Paul II for what he may have achieved by way of resoration. They can, indeed, be seen as a bulwark against those who would drag the Church further to the 'left'. I recognise it as very much what we, the incoming Ordinariate clergy, received as 'priestly formation'. It was heavily based upon the scrutiny of the documents of Vatican II and the formally Magisterial documents of S John Paul II. The Scriptures, the Fathers, S Thomas, Trent, Vatican I, the documents of the popes between B Pius IX and S John XXIII, either were conspicuous by their absence or were glimpsed only through the prism of the Council and the conciliar Popes. But, for those of us who had imbibed (what Cardinal Manning condemned when he thought he discerned it in Newman) the old Oxford, literary, Patristic tone, it seemed an alien world. I kept my head down ... except when a particular lecturer accused a doctrine contained in one of Blessed John Henry Newman's favourite texts, the 'Athanasian Creed', of being "heretical".

The Great Facade enjoyably exposes the problems to which neo-Catholics fall victim. They are constantly at risk of finding that a rug ... or quite a lot of rugs ... have been pulled from under their feet. Poor Michael Voris used to do a fantastic job of explaing why the Maundy Thursday footwashing is confined to males. He was fearless in exposing the antics of members of the American episcopate. Until, that is, Papa Bergoglo himself performed what Voris had previously characterised as "a grave abuse" ... when Voris instantly fell silent on the subject. Having been left looking silly as Papa Bergoglio outflanked him on the 'left', he even got left with egg dripping from his face when our Holy Father proceeded to outflank him on the 'right': Voris had dutifully promoted the view that the SSPX are in schism, but was hung out to dry when the Roman Pontiff conceded that its presbyters could validly and licitly absolve, at least during the 'Year of Mercy'.

Yes ... there's a lot of fun in THE GREAT FACADE  The Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church from Vatican II to the Francis Revolution  SECOND EDITION by Christopher A Ferrara and Thomas E Woods, Jr..  Angelico Press. 


Marco da Vinha said...

Completely unrelated Father, but could you suggest some reading on the importance of the Septuagint as THE received text and its prominence over say, the Vulgate/the Masoteric/...
Are there any relevant books or Church documents?

Anonymous said...

Fr Hunwicke,

Thank you for this. I was not really sure how to approach our formation (I am a priest of the American Ordinariate) from the perspective which you describe. It helped to make us conservative, from a modern Catholic viewpoint, but as I continued to read, I found myself more an more a Traditionalist. Many of our contemporary diocesan peers, non-Ordinariate clergy, have not apparently even read many of the Vatican II documents which we were required to read during formation. Thus, I obviously will be purchasing this book soon, so as to help make heads-or-tails of the conflicts in which I sometimes find myself.

Many blessings to you,
Fr Ken Bolin

jasoncpetty said...

I loathe the term "neo-Catholic" but it does serve its purpose. I prefer "papolaters." Poor papolaters are always contorting themselves in ways that remind me of natural philosophers' theoretical attempts to save the appearances in the cosmos prior to the advent of modern observation equipment.

One positive thing about the current papacy is it's disabusing many of these folks of their excesses. I worry, however, that it's damaging to the faith of many; in other words, when their false construct is torn down daily, hopefully none of the Church's true ramparts go with it.

Michael Charlier said...

To Marco da Vinha:

I recomend "When God Spoke Greek" by Timothy Michael Law and - with some minor reservations - "Temple Themes in Christian Worship" by Margaret Barker.
Both will give to you lots of "further readings"

Solitary Sojourning said...

I thought the "rabbitgate" incident would wake up many of these "neo-Catholics." However, sadly it seems like I have been mistaken.

RichardT said...

Can SSPX priests "validly and licitly absolve" in the Year of Mercy?

I am not a canon lawyer, and it is a question that has puzzled me, but my reading of the way it was done was that it was written purely for the benefit of those who confess.

It seems that although the penitent can be validly and licitly absolved by an SSPX priest, the SSPX priest himself still acts improperly (illegally? sin? I'm not sure of the status) by hearing those confessions (except when the penitent is in imminent danger of death).

Hence SSPX priests are not given authority or permission to hear confessions - the grace of the Year of Mercy only seems to affect their penitents.

Marco da Vinha said...

To Michael Charlier:

Many thanks for the recommendations!
Are you aware of any Catholic and/or Orthodox scholars involved in the study of Temple Theology? I only know of one Catholic (a deacon, whose name eludes me just now). I have Dr. BArker's introduction to it, but some of what she says seems iffy to me, being a Catholic.

KaeseEs said...

Is the characterization of Adoremus reasonable? They focus on "reform of the reform" issues to be sure, but they don't seem to follow the "babylonian captivity" thesis that is the essence of what Ferrara calls neo-Catholicism (and which is inherent in Lutheranism and Calvinism and the "Neocatechumenal Way").

For example, in their article "The Once and Future Preface", they praise the similarity of the updated ICEL translation of the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity to the translation found in the 1957 edition of the popular "St. Joseph" hand-missal, which doesn't seem consistent with the "neo-Catholic" reflex to either ignore or put down or read through the lens of Nouvelle Theologie anything that was said between about 314 and 1962. In that same article they also seem to pine for the period from 1759 to 1965(66? 67? 70?) when the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity was the normal one for all "green vestment" Sundays.

English Catholic said...

Fr Bolin (and others):

An excellent article by Fr Chad Ripperger FSSP, on the conflicting philosophical presuppositions of neo-cons and trads, can be found here:

http://www.sensustraditionis.org/texts_online.html (scroll to 'Operative Points of View').

A sample:

'[T]he fundamental difference between neo-conservatives and traditionalists is that the neo-conservative looks at the past through the eyes of the present while the traditionalist looks at the present through the eyes of the past... This fundamental shift in perspective has left the traditionalists with the sense that they are fighting for the good of the extrinsic tradition without the help of and often hindered by the current magisterium. Liturgically, traditionalists judge the Novus Ordo in light of the Mass of Pius V and the neo-conservatives judge the Tridentine Mass, as it is called, in light of the Novus Ordo. This comes from the Hegelianism which holds that the past is always understood in light of the present, i.e. the thesis and antithesis are understood in light of their synthesis. This leads to a mentality that newer is always better, because the synthesis is better than either the thesis or the antithesis taken alone. Being affected by this, the neo-conservatives often assume or are incapable of imagining that the current discipline of the Church may not be as good as the prior discipline. There is a mentality today which holds that "because it is present (Hegelianism), because it comes from us (immanentism), it is necessarily better."'

Can't recommend it enough.

Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,
Thank you for your insightful blog which I very much enjoy.
I just received my copy today of THE GREAT FACADE (SECOND EDITION).
I think that this will be a much better read than the FIRST EDITION.
Let the games begin.

Ginkgo100 said...

Just a pew-sitter here. I just have to ask this question: How is it that this updated volume is able to "chronicle ... Francis's tumultuous Synod on the Family" when it is, at the moment I am typing this comment, barely more than halfway over?