The late Fr Jerome Bertram recounts, concerning the now defunct seminary at Wonersh, that "The buildings had been greatly expanded in 1962, for the then bishop of Southark [Cyril Cowderoy] was sure that the forthconing General Council would trigger such a vast increase in priestly vocations that double the capacity would be needed. All those extra priests would then fan out over the diocese to serve the enormously increased congregations of eager converts that would come flooding into the church as soon as the longed-for reforms had begun to take effect.".
Six decades later, 3 July 2021, Wonersh was closed down. The latest intake of seminarians had numbered, er, nil.
PF and his cronies still talk about the need to implement Vatican II. But, as generation has followed generation, the English bishops have closed seminaries. They are neither fools nor fantasists. They do not repetitively explain that it's all just a matter of time: "we must keep the empty seminaries ticking over until the inevitable Vatican II tsunami of new seminarians come along ... we know we shall soon need these buildings ..."
The English bishops are not fools or fantasists. They can detect a busted flush when it comes clearly enough into view. There was never a 'Vatican II effect' and sixty years after the Council, however much Popes keep on about it, the bishops have no illusions: their dwindling congregations can no longer support the empty echoing corridors of unused seminaries. Keeping their fingers crossed that, any day now, the miracle will happen, is no longerr treated as an option.
Every time the bishops have closed a seminary, that action has in fact been a massive, public admission, before God and before the World, that the Vatican II miracle did not happen and it is not now expected that it will happen.
So what has become, in the Church life of our time, of "Vatican II"?
It has metamorphosed into a mantra. Implement Vatican II means Smash Tradition.
In our time, the question has become sharper and nastier because, unlike his predecessors, PF has a shrill and violent hatred of Tradition.
We have seen this in his attitude to the Holy Spirit. His professed conviction has been that the Holy Spirit will manifest himself suddenly, unexpectedly, and in unexpected forms. We must be open to this.
But when something unexpected does show itself, PF just doesn't want to know. The interest of younger generations in Tradition, not least in liturgical Tradition, drives him into uncontrollable fury.
Does anybody know if the Trustees of the Franciscans of the Immaculate have yet been bullied into surrendering their property and assets?
What's the latest news on that property in Sloane Square?
But PF is still a happy man, sending out cartloads of Roches with instructions to boldly smash where nobody has smashed before.