15 December 2016

Clericalism? Are the Traddies guilty?

The medieval historian John Bossy used to point out how dominant the laity were in the Church life of the High Middle Ages. Parishes were corporately structured, and dominated by powerful lay Guilds led by pairs of Wardens; for their religious needs they hired and paid clergy, just as, doubtless, for their footwear they employed and remunerated cobblers. Sometimes you can still see the guildswomen or guildsmen pictorially immortalised at the bottoms of the windows they put into their Parish Churches, as at S Neots in Cornwall. There were sacramental things that only the clergy, of course, could do; but it was not the clergy who called the tune. ('Clericalism', Dix loved to suggest, is a post-Reformation Presbyterian and Calvinist phenomenon.)

I hope no-one will be offended if I point out that things are rather like the High Middle Ages in Traddiland. In my experience, the Traditionalist enterprise is forcefully energised and led by well-qualified and determined lay men and women, often if not usually young. For their liturgical needs, they call upon clergy whom they know to be idonei. They are very polite and courteous and grateful and generous; but it always seems clear to me who is in charge. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must make clear that I think this de facto system works extremely well and I am very happy indeed when I am allowed to be part of it. I am not being snide ... quite the opposite ... and if anybody suggests I am 'complaining' I shall strangle them with a printed copy of the Novus Ordo.

It is an amusing paradox that the disorders in the post-Conciliar Church should have led to such a (please forgive my use of this word) empowerment of the traddy Laity. By empowerment I do not refer to anything like the activities of the infantilised laity of the 'Mainstream Church'. You all know the sort of "lay involvement" that happens there ... just before Holy Communion, the celebrant breaks into the sugary mood-music to call out "We're short of a Eucharistic Minister ... can somebody else please come up?" And there is some gruesome little committee which meets weekly with the pp to "arrange the liturgy". No; I am talking about laity empowered in the sense of possessing adult competence and grown-up self-confidence.

I think this is one of the many admirable fruits of the movement towards Catholic authenticity which so blessed the last part of the pontificate of Papa Wojtila, and then the Ratzinger Years. Indeed, it was encouraged by (for example) the provisions in Summorum Pontificum establishing the rights of lay coetus with its unparalleled (and admirable) emphasis on subsidiarity. It is what makes the Traddy movement so strong and resilient ... and so well armoured against unsympathetic prelates. No paseran!

Catholic Traditionalist laity, above all, do not seem to be nearly as scared of bishops as so many Catholic clergy are, the poor trembly things.

Failure to tremble at the knees at the very thought of "The Bishop" or "The Archbishop" or "The Cardinal" is, of course, a healthy feature also of the Anglican Patrimony and so it flourishes also in the Ordinariates. It needs to spread. Down with Clericalism! As the Holy Father would (and probably does) say, Down with Rigid Narcissistic Pelagian Prelaticism!


Paul Goings said...

It seems fair to point out that similar arrangements have prevailed among Anglo-Catholics practically since the inception of that movement. And it ensured a good amount of stability in Anglo-Catholic parishes over the years.

Regarding the lack of fear of bishops and prelates, well sure, especially in this very secular age, laity employed outside of the church have a freedom of speech and action that no priest could dream of.

mark wauck said...

So you're basically saying that Vatican II was a sort of clericalist coup, and that the traditionalist movement is a healthy effort to reform a pseudo-reform?

Donna Bethell said...

Right on, Reverend Father. There are few more pernicious maladies than people trying to do other people's jobs. In much of the Church we seem to have laity striving to be clerical -- right up to the wymen-priest nonsense -- and clerics intruding in the proper domain of laymen: economics, ecology, social justice, immigration, war and peace, political issues of every stripe, it seems. As a result, little gets done and less is done well.

God bless all the priests who so generously serve the clerical needs of us traditionally inclined laity. May the Lord clothe you in robes of glory!

Romulus said...

Thank you, Father. Lay "Eucharistic" ministers and all the other "active participation" novelties are all phenomena of the post-conciliar neo-clericalism so rightly condemned by our dear Papa Bergoglio. Lay people praying quietly in their hearts must be shamed into external displays or else scorned as second-class.

PS: It's "no pasaran". The infinitive is "pasar".

Anonymous said...

I have been one of those called up by name to be an impromptu Extraordinary Minister (without any semblance of training or whatnot). I didn't fight the priest on it in the middle of Mass but on those occasions I felt mostly strongly and immediately the truth of the Real Presence (talk about quaking in your boots in the presence of the Lord!) & that the EMHC thing is (at best) woefully abused.

Deacon Augustine said...

Mark Wauck, the postconciliar years have seen a dual deformation - there has been a clericalisation of the laity and a laicisation of the clergy. The only time you see a marked clericalism among the clergy emerging is when they perceive that somebody wants to do something which is not in the "spirit of the Council" or is "too orthodox."

I think the irony which Fr. H points out is that from the start the traditionalist movement has been a beacon of "lay leadership" in areas which the laity are quite qualified and capable of giving leadership. If you think of such luminaries who have led the movement to restore tradition, one can think of Michael Davies, the Hildebrands, the Matts, the Darroch's, Rao's, McLeod's and so on - too many to mention. All of them great lay leaders who have had constructive relationships and partnerships with the varoius priestly societies of traditionalist clergy. However, none of them have infringed upon and crossed the line of seeking to tread on areas which are supposed to be the preserve of the clergy. And vice versa.

There is a much more healthy and collaborative relationship between laity and clergy in the "trad" Church than there is in the "conciliar" Church.

El Codo said...

No pasaran,Father.I know that you are a stickler for accuracy.

Athelstane said...

"So you're basically saying that Vatican II was a sort of clericalist coup, and that the traditionalist movement is a healthy effort to reform a pseudo-reform?"

In terms of ecclesiology (theologically or practical) Vatican II and its attendant canon law revisions was above all a *bishop-empowering* council, and we feel its effects even today. "Clericalist" in that sense, certainly.

Summorum Pontificum represents a rare post-conciliar legal measure to limit the power of bishops - to the advantage of priests and, yes, any coetus of laity desiring tradition that emerges.

Martin said...

A resonably rigid tradition protects from unpredictable wielding of power outside the remit of the positions of authority from which it's exercised -- so is empowering.

Unknown said...

Would you please advise me on the traditional view of women reading at Holy Mass?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Clericalism had its genesis long before Vatican II: a combination of the excesses of the counter-reformation, plus celibacy (and the circumscribed clerical culture necessary for its maintenance) guaranteed it. This is to say nothing of the over-the-top ultramontanism leading up to, and following (and distorting) Vatican I.

In fact, if there had not been a counter-reformation, no pope would even have hoped - let alone have dared - to effect the liturgical revolution experienced in the Latin church.

Long-Skirts said...

But they forgot –
The woman bleeds


(“The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered – and they multiplied.” St. Augustine)

No burning tearing
Scourging skin
It’s psychological
All within.

No rotting flesh
Or putrid blood
It’s sterile clean
No rancid crud.

For butchered
Tortured bound up skins
Reveals the Truths
Of Bishops' sins.

They want it nice
They want it hushed
With veins of ice
Good souls are crushed.

The silent cold
Is better yet
Frozen solid
Can’t beget.

For martyred blood
Reveals the Church
Blind souls see Truth
And end their search.

“We can’t have that!”
NICE Bishops say,
“So let’s ignore…
They’ll go away.

Enlightened men
Don’t scourge the skin
Enlightened men
Keep blood within.”

But they forgot –
The woman bleeds
And monthly makes
A bed for seeds

Where nice and hushed
They’ll grow to men
And seize the oars
From wrists that bend…

On Peter’s Barque
Where blood still flows
From woman’s womb…
The Lily grows!

E sapelion said...

CofE clergy until recently often had a secure life tenancy, and income from tithes and glebe land, so could afford indifference towards the bishop. How much of this was true of the the pre-reformation church, I do not know. I have noticed that in the 13th and 14th centuries in England there were several cases of priest's sons being dispensed from their automatic illegitimacy and permitted to receive holy orders, but on condition that they should never be allowed to inherit their father's benefice.

Dale Crakes said...

Unfortunately in the US, most Anglo-Catholic parishes in non AC dioceses had an independence of the bishops which facilitated an AC liturgical phenomena but eventually contributed to an acceptance of non-AC theological historical norms in other areas.I don't want to list the early and mid 20th century parish bastions that so met their demise.