Oath Against Modernism
|Cardinal Vaughan: "Oath against modernism? No problem!"|
Cardinal Vaughan's school, or at least the school set up in his memory, is at the centre of an ongoing disagreement with the Diocese of Westminster. That issue has been documented by bloggers such as Damian Thompson with much more knowledge of the situation than myself. Could it be, however, that there is a sense in which the battle over Vaughan may touch slightly upon the problems of modernism within the Catholic Church in the wake of the 'spirit of Vatican II'? Could it be that a whole raft of issues in the Church today touch upon the problems of modernism? Do I hear a resounding, "No s**t, Sherlock?!"
As I say, I know that I am ignorant of many of the issues debated concerning the school, but I doubt, for instance, that Cardinal Vaughan would have had a problem with a Catholic school verifying the Catholicity of parents, for instance, before allowing admission to their children to the school. I also doubt very much whether Cardinal Vaughan would have had a problem signing the Oath Against Modernism posted up by Fr Z and Fr Blake and Fr John Boyle today.
The oath raises questions: Would Tina Beattie, professor of theology at Roehampton University, sign it, for instance? Would the editorial team of The Tablet, sign it? Would Catholic teachers and teachers of seminarians sign it? How many individuals in the Church today would 'get it'? Would, even, the majority of our Bishops today be willing to sign it? Reading over the extraordinary oath, it is almost as if Pope Pius X sensed an immediate future for the Church that was a little more than bleak, as if the foundations of the Church were about to be shaken and that while knowing the gates of Hell shall never prevail against Her, desperately wanted to protect Her from the new age of 'rationalism' that was to assail Her and, to a point, infect Her. Popes, thankfully, desire to protect the Bride of Christ.
The very fact that he wanted this document signed by professors, preachers, priests, teachers and everyone who was anyone in any kind of teaching role within the Church makes it clear that if he didn't see the enemies of the Church within Her already, attempting to dismantle the Faith, then he at least saw them at Her gates. The same goes for Pope Pius XII with his definition of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Something that had long been believed by Christians perhaps has to be defined as an article of Faith, because a new age of 'progressive' thought believed by 'rationalists' seeks to undermine the supernatural origin of the Church and the uniqueness and sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin. Both Popes seem to have had a prophetic foresight of things to come after their reign.
The same can even be said for Pope Paul VI, so often criticised by traditional Catholics, with Humanae Vitae. Every Pope must be 'in the thick of it' and can perhaps see the 'wolves' surrounding the Church at different times and epochs when new philosophies threaten Her, not with extinction, but with persecution and a new variety of unbelief and heresy. And so it is today, with Pope Benedict XVI with Summorum Pontificum, the subsequent clarification, Universae Ecclesiae and the new translation of the Roman Missal. The actions of Popes can be mystifying to some, but looking back and even to the present day, it is as if many are gifted with foresight and like true defenders of the Faith, strategise a generation, maybe two, in advance, sometimes, even as a kind of 'damage limitation' exercise. They look out onto the horizon and see dark clouds on the way, in a way in which we cannot or do not, and plan for what is to come.
Anyway, back to Cardinal Vaughan, here is a nice excerpt from the book which, as I say, is available to anyone who wants it who can make me an offer if they choose. My store is something of an online car boot sale...
'I shall say Mass for you tomorrow, that we may both grow during the next year more and more fervent in His service, more and more dead to self, more and more purified from earthly motives and more and more helpful to one another. How much we have to be thankful for during the past year! We have both been permitted to do much in His service, more than in any former year, so far as I am concerned, for of your past I cannot judge: but, however that may be, how mch has been accomplished by our feeble hands: the College is where I could hardly have expected this time last year; the Tablet and now the Vatican are certainly heralds and champions of the Truth; the Catholic Truth Society has taken a hold and will spread still more. These three are important national works and are limited to no local or subordinate object and end. And these three have been emphatically our works, in which you have certainly had as great as, and probably a more meritorious share than, I have. Then there are all your more local works at Salisbury. And your books, which will spread truth and piety like the widening circles in the water. Let us then thank Our Lord tonight and say our Te Deum, and never give way to thoughts of sadness and despondency. There is still always one great dark cloud before you, I mean your children: but have patience and believe that patience hath a perfect work, and that by prayer and work we shall in the end obtain all we ask of God. What a sermon! Forgive me...'