Saturday, April 28, 2012
A Life through 6 Papacies 2: Pope John XXIII: Updated with comment
I chose this video clip because the Byrds hit song perfectly evokes for me the atmosphere of the 1960s. It was all about peace and justice, CND and 'If I had a hammer'.. I don't like the text that accompanies the clip because it seems to hijack Pope John for its own agenda and to characterise him in a narrow way.. To say that the Council he initiated has 'guided', the Church to the present day, is to me a misuse of that verb, unless you take guidance as leading to confusion and conflict, which the Church herself is still struggling to heal.
Of course the trouble with a series like this is that one has to separate what one felt and believed at the time, from what one KNOWS now. In all conscience one has to admit that pre-conciliar Catholics were not well informed. They had no reason not to trust the Church. Most of us had to rely on the 'Universe'; the 'Catholic Herald' was not widely read and in the 60s the 'Tablet' was generally regarded as the priest's preserve. The result was that in England at any rate Catholics to whom 'obedience' was second nature, could do nothing but go along with the changes. All I can say is that there must have been many modernists lurking in sacrisities and side-chapels who merely kept quiet until they saw their opportunity. They must have been very clever because I can honestly say that in the pre-council days I saw no hint in my parish that priests or people were longing for the changes that came inexorably and quite brutally as the decade neared its close.
To me it seemed that the minute I was received, the Church began to dismantle herself. She seemed to have taken leave of her sense of psychology which I had always admired in her.. It certainly didn't feel like 'remewal' to me. It just felt as if things were going badly wrong. And Blessed John XXIII notwithstanding., I'm afraid that they did.
At least now, thanks to the internet, and as long as it serves us, no pressure group within the Church will be able to 'pull the wool' unchallenged ever again.
Apparently Blessed John XXIII is quoted as saying that he didn't want collaborators; he wanted executors. Well, he was granted his wish in probably the most agonised Pope of the six under discussion here, namely Papa Montini...