- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Evelyn Waugh Predicted the Collapse of Catholic England

Imagine a society enfeebled by constant, top-down, progressivist experimentation offering universal, programmatic solutions to problems that are either inherently localist or transcendent. Imagine an intellectual elite who are arrogantly uninterested in—and perhaps conscientiously deaf to—the concerns of ordinary, working-class people. Imagine a media that serves as a microphone for this elite, actively avoiding stories that don’t harmonize with their enlightened narrative.

This probably sounds a bit like the milieu that resulted the cultural distemper of the 2016 presidential election and that still largely defines American politics today. It is also, interestingly, a description of the liturgical changes imposed upon the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom during the 1960s, as painfully described in A Bitter Trial [1], a series of correspondences between English Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan.

The liturgical changes in question stemmed directly from the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965. For many, the council was, in the famous words of Pope John XXIII, a chance to “open the windows [of the Church] and let in some fresh air.” This was not so much the case for Waugh, who loudly (though unsuccessfully) protested the radical transformations foisted upon Catholic worship. These changes included an emphasis on vernacular languages over Latin, a revised lectionary, and significant alterations to the components of the Mass. Waugh’s words in response to this revolution are arresting: “Church-going is now a bitter trial,” he wrote. Elsewhere he said, “the Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me.” To a friend, he wrote, “I have not yet soaked myself in petrol and gone up in flames, but I now cling to the Faith doggedly without joy.” In another letter to a cleric, he sought to know the least he was “obliged to do without grave sin.” This is remarkable, coming from one of the most famous Catholic writers of the 20th century, one who had previously adored the Mass.

One of Waugh’s most persistent criticisms of the liturgical changes is that progressive, elitist-driven experimentation hurts ordinary people the most, undermining their confidence in important institutions. Vatican II represented, in Waugh’s mind, a rejection of the needs and opinions of local people. “A vociferous minority has imposed itself on the hierarchy and made them believe that a popular demand existed where there was in fact not even a preference,” he warned.

Advertisement

Nor were parish priests, the local leaders who best understand the common man, sufficiently consulted. Waugh wrote: “I know of none whose judgment I would prefer to that of the simplest parish priest. Sharp minds may explore the subtlest verbal problems, but in the long routine of the seminary and the life spent with the Offices of the Church the truth is most likely to emerge.”

Waugh went unheeded, though many subsequently acknowledged the truth of his admonitions. Cardinal Heenan in a 1967 pastoral letter acknowledged that “bishop after bishop in the Synod rose to complain that his people are thoroughly tired of the constant changes.” Heenan and later Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) accused the Council of failing to consult ordinary parish priests and laity, preferring instead the opinions of “specialists and experts.” Catholic scholar Alcuin Reid has similarly noted that “to change ritual is to risk altering the faith, particularly that of simple folk.”

The great author of Brideshead Revisited also perceived in the changes an attempt to reorganize the Church into an institution focused primarily on community and social reform rather than transcendent worship. He wrote disparagingly of one famous priest who “wishes to have a ‘priest-president’ who will conduct a ‘sort of town meeting’ to discuss social projects. The people would discuss their worries and share their ‘developing insights.’ The priest-president will sum up, giving the ‘ancient Eucharistic prayer a whole new tone and content.’”

Waugh found this entirely wrongheaded, arguing that such an approach would drive people away from church. “Awe is the natural predisposition to prayer. When young theologians talk, as they do, of Holy Communion as a ‘social meal’ they find little response in the hearts and minds of their less sophisticated brothers.” Elsewhere he cautioned: “If the Mass is changed in form so as to emphasize its social character, many souls will find themselves put at a further distance from their true aim.” Indeed, in attempting to turn the Mass “into a parish meeting” that replicates other social organizations, the Church undermined its transcendent function in society.

Finally, Waugh (and Heenan) argued that the reform movement embraced a modernist paradigm that pitted traditionalists against intellectual progressives, the latter manipulating the media to both direct and narrow the conversation and silence alternative opinions. Heenan observed that the reform was driven by self-described “intellectuals” whose “constant nagging” and “tiresome letters to the press and articles in the Catholic papers may eventually disturb the faithful.” Moreover, Heenan noted, “the voice of the laity” was largely ignored by the media, as were conservative leaders in the Church, whom intellectuals painted as “mitred peasants.” Waugh argued, “the function of the Church in every age has been conservative—to transmit undiminished and uncontaminated the creed inherited from its predecessors. Not ‘is this fashionable notion one that we should accept?’” Indeed, what is “fashionable” is usually identifiable not with what the ordinary man on the street wants, but what elites desire.

The great irony of the liturgical reforms of 1960s Catholicism is that rather than bring new faces into the Church, they drove people away. During the 1930s, there were 12,000 English converts a year to Catholicism. Yet Church attendance among Catholics in Britain has been on a steady decline [2] ever since Vatican II. As Joseph Pearce observes:

It is a singularly intriguing fact that the preconciliar Church was so effective in evangelizing modern culture, whereas the number of converts to the faith seemed to diminish in the sixties and seventies in direct proportion to the presence of the much-vaunted aggiornamento, the muddle-headed belief that the Church needed to be brought “up-to-date.”

Progressivist elites, through their adroit manipulation of the media and effective appeals to their own intellectual and theological expertise, did incredible damage to English Catholicism. They misunderstood both the human person and human society. They ignored the common man’s sense of his own needs, while foisting upon him programmatic solutions that positivist anti-Catholic thinker Auguste Comte had yearned to implement. By the 1960s, modernism and technological advancements had already fashioned a culture unprecedented for its level of isolation and atomization. Progressivist Church leaders, eager to upend time-proven traditions, only accelerated this process.

Americans, both traditionalists and progressivists, should take note. The more one seeks to radically (and dictatorially) transform a people and their ways of life, the more one works to destroy that people, taking from them the beliefs and practices that give their lives stability and purpose. If Americans want to avoid the tempestuous times that ravaged the postconciliar Catholic Church (and of which, sadly, we are still suffering the consequences), they should heed well the warnings of Evelyn Waugh.

Casey Chalk is a student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. He covers religion and other issues for TAC.

48 Comments (Open | Close)

48 Comments To "Evelyn Waugh Predicted the Collapse of Catholic England"

#1 Comment By Carter Hayes On May 1, 2019 @ 10:50 pm

Vatican II spawned a new religion, one that remade God in the image of man. I’ll always be a Catholic, but I’ll have nothing to do with the religion led by Francis-Bergoglio and his ilk.

#2 Comment By JohnT On May 1, 2019 @ 11:27 pm

“Imagine a society enfeebled by constant, top-down, progressivist experimentation offering universal, programmatic solutions to problems that are either inherently localist or transcendent. Imagine an intellectual elite who are arrogantly uninterested in—and perhaps conscientiously deaf to—the concerns of ordinary, working-class people.”
Are you referring to the grand wizards of American industry who only considered turning their factories to helping win WWII when FDR assured them they were allowed to make a financial profit from their efforts?
Or are your referring to the upper management of Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and United Technologies who profit financially from wars fought by the working class who are killed or crippled on the front lines?
Probably not as those are conservative folks much too committed to the Christian notion of the inherent value of the least of us.

#3 Comment By Virginia Gentleman On May 1, 2019 @ 11:59 pm

Lot of post-hoc-ergo-propter-hocs here. But, as I have said elsewhere, Liturgical reform apparently started earlier. I have a 1962 St. Joseph’s missal which mentions the
“Liturgical Movement” that has been going on in the church. This in a missal published to include the latest revisions brought about by that movement. And it was Pius XII who changed the impressive Holy Thurday-Good Friday-Holy Saturday rituals and fasting requirements.

No, the laity was not consulted, but what a splendid post-Vatican II notion that it should be.

Finally, Waugh was a curmudgeon opposed to anything new. Big deal. But to be honest, I missed and miss the Latin, but then I was an altar boy in the fifties.

#4 Comment By MrsDK On May 2, 2019 @ 6:40 am

Excellent article. Waugh’s writing on the subject is harrowing and was a definite factor in my conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy rather than Roman Catholicism. I support traditional Catholics but wanted to be in the Church where a mandate that we change the liturgy or iconography or ANYTHING about the Orthodox way of life on the part of any bishop or priest (no matter who) would be met with a swift changing of the locks on the parish door by one of our parish grandmothers. We ALL hold the truth and treasure of our faith in Holy Orthodoxy, and we will hold the sacramental servants of our faith (the bishops, priests, deacons) accountable.

When Metropolitan Kallistos Ware wrote a wishy-washy article about same sex attraction last year, the best response was from Orthodox laywoman Edith Humphrey, who immediately held him accountable. We are ALL responsible for ensuring the transmission of the undiluted apostolic faith once for all delivered to the saints.

#5 Comment By Ted On May 2, 2019 @ 7:36 am

This is a very well-written and informative piece, and the book seems worth acquiring. But the last paragraph makes no sense. “Take note”? That’s more than a little like trying to send a radiogram to Capt. Smith reminding him to be especially careful of icebergs. The disaster happened. The Catholic Church has been destroyed. The Consistory is characterized by Nighty-night and Fat Tim Dolan. We live in a smoking crater. How we become whole again I have no idea, and neither does anybody else.

According to his son Waugh’s formula for the Novus Ordo “sign of peace” was “toodle-oo.” That’s where we are, and where we’ve been stuck for 50 years.

#6 Comment By Johannes de silentio On May 2, 2019 @ 8:45 am

The Second Vatican Council probably saved everybody from World War III. With the decline of the Church into the modern world, it can now start from there. All human Latin and the city of Rome are important.

#7 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On May 2, 2019 @ 8:50 am

“The more one seeks to radically (and dictatorially) transform a people and their ways of life, the more one works to destroy that people, taking from them the beliefs and practices that give their lives stability and purpose.”

And it was ever thus. Yet another in the lengthening number of “wish I wrote this” statements. That so many cannot or will not grasp the truth contained within is a testimony to the tragedy of human folly.

#8 Comment By JohnT On May 2, 2019 @ 9:12 am

As the story goes, the core of the message brought by Jesus was a new beginning. One away from the old message of dictatorial rule, revenge, absolutes and the reign of a privileged few. It was not about some grand metaphysical blabber designed solely to meet the self aggrandizing needs of the speaker. It was a message stating quite clearly to pay attention, close attention, to the lesser of use. Why? Because God was.
The author of this post it clearly more interested in the bureaucratic particulars and icons of a faith rather than its usefulness to humanity.

#9 Comment By Thufir Hawat On May 2, 2019 @ 9:24 am

The Second Vatican Council probably saved everybody from World War III. With the decline of the Church into the modern world, it can now start from there. All human Latin and the city of Rome are important.

Could you re-write this in English please?

#10 Comment By Emmet On May 2, 2019 @ 9:36 am

A lot of comments here by lefty trolls. Oh well, life must be boring living off welfare and living in your mum’s basement. Trolling helps pass the time.

#11 Comment By One Male On May 2, 2019 @ 9:41 am

“Indeed, what is “fashionable” is usually identifiable not with what the ordinary man on the street wants, but what elites desire.”

~ More important still, what is fashionable, is often what is satanic. Remember, Lucifer was the most beautiful and fashionable angel and his vanity and arrogance brought him to challenge G-d. Reject the fashions of these demonic fools, mislead by hubris to raise there image above G-d and neuter faith of spirit and tradition of its soul.

#12 Comment By TomG On May 2, 2019 @ 9:43 am

Episcopalian’s clung to their 1928 prayer book and the pews emptied just the same. This premise is a convenient excuse for what happens inside the walls while ignoring the mission outside. I am taken to the words of Amos.

I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Waugh’s and Chalk’s correlation is not causation. A lesson all the prophets and Jesus taught yet still ignored.

#13 Comment By Sid On May 2, 2019 @ 10:01 am

Vatican II ignored the fact that God transcends our concepts of what is “modern” or “progress”. While their Enlightenment bent was fine, as far as it went, those issuing edicts were wrong to think people are the source of the evolution of enlightenment. While we can feel it and pass it around like bread at the table, we are not the source. Such nourishment flows from God. What flows from open windows is only air.

#14 Comment By Wilfred On May 2, 2019 @ 10:05 am

Malcolm Muggeridge referred to post-Vatican II Catholicism as “Unitarianism with a Pope”.

On our journey from Protestantism to the True Faith, we spent time going to Roman Catholic services. After a year of sappy music, lame sermons by effeminate priests, mostly in ugly, modernist buildings, we continued our search for Grace, and found it in Holy Orthodoxy.

Recently attended a Roman Catholic funeral. Closing “hymn” (I kid you not) was “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Vatican II caused the parishioners to go marching out.

#15 Comment By David Naas On May 2, 2019 @ 11:31 am

Father Dwight Longnecker, whose work occasionally appears, recently (well a year ago) had a few words to say about thus topic.

[3]

There is a quote from someone which I cannot recall with precision to the effect that any time an institution attempts to become “Relevant” toward the Modern Era, it loses its connection with Eternity.

Coincidentally, I am currently reading a book by Waugh.

#16 Comment By Evan Maguire On May 2, 2019 @ 11:54 am

Great Piece! The last two paragraphs were perfect.

#17 Comment By Liam On May 2, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

The real driver of the exodus was not the liturgical changes but the revolution of changed expectations into which Humanae Vitae was sent.

While I was Stateside and can’t speak for the facts on the ground in England, in my area of the USA, folks like Waugh were considered strange outliers (as in the sense of third standard deviation of a normal bell curve distribution).

#18 Comment By Johannes de silentio On May 2, 2019 @ 12:12 pm

The Second Vatican Council probably saved everybody from World War III.

Of course, we do not know, how God decided to cancel World War III. If one third of the stars falling from heaven, in the book of Apocalypse, are thermonuclear devices, it will be the end of the world. Perhaps, if Christendom had not converted the people of Rome, either hellenistic civilization had continued to rise, with global thermonuclear war to end everything, or, on the other hand, still without Christendom, civilization might have collapsed with the fall of Rome into eternal dark ages. It seems that the Church offers to stabilize peace and cultures, although Church history can still be complicated. By the nineteensixties, Europe was divided between a western capitalist and an eastern communist empire, and the socalled third world had begun their emancipation from European colonialism. The American minister of defence, Robert McNamara, repeatably as well as correctly dismissed data that would seem to imply Soviet nuclear attack. As well during the Cuban crisis and during the 1981-1983 peak of the cold war, Soviet officers refused to obey orders to launch nuclear weapons. Probably, nobody with friends, wife, and family, would ever had obeyed such orders, and it is possible that World War III was never an option. But with such madness of the modern world, the Second Vatican Council was dedicated to let both the capitalist, the communist, and the third world into the Church, as well as the protestants. The apparation of Our Lady of Medjugorje, in Croatia, in 1981 must also be mentioned. At this geographical focal point between west (Latin Church), east (Byzantine Church), and south (Islam), at the peak of the cold war in Europe, perhaps it was Our Lady who saved everybody then. Of course, these are all speculations. The Second
Vatican Council has been in many respects a disappointment, with sex abuse scandals and all that. A theological well educated flock in Europe remains faithful to the catholic Church, and the new liturgy is a success in what used to be called the third world, but the protestants and the communists are not impressed. But the Council opened the Church, so everybody could talk, and perhaps this was necessary to save us from war.

With the decline of the Church into the modern world, it can now start from there.

Traditional moral theology, the holy liturgy, and people’s adherence to the Church have declined, but at the dawn of the third millenium, the catholic Church is still a universal religion.

All human Latin and the city of Rome are important.

Latin is the all human language, not too simple, as Hebrew, and not by far too big, as English. In Latin everything that pertains to regular human life is communicable. Rome was the universal city.

#19 Comment By LFM On May 2, 2019 @ 1:22 pm

John T writes, “The author of this post it clearly more interested in the bureaucratic particulars and icons of a faith rather than its usefulness to humanity.”

Faith is not, and is not meant to be, useful. Like the Grand Inquisitor’s speech, the sentiment was obviously expressed by someone who does not believe in God. That being true, believers are under no obligation to take it seriously.

#20 Comment By hooly On May 2, 2019 @ 1:29 pm

Huh??

I thought Catholic England collapsed under Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell?

#21 Comment By hooly On May 2, 2019 @ 1:56 pm

Catholic scholar Alcuin Reid has similarly noted that “to change ritual is to risk altering the faith, particularly that of simple folk.”

… that of the simple folk … LOl!!

Right, the unwashed, uncouth and ignorant peasants, the Deplorables of yesteryear perhaps??

#22 Comment By Mac61 On May 2, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

You have to be theologically hardcore to sit through one clownish Novus Ordo Mass after another and still know that you are at dead center in the historic Church.

I was raised atheist and did not become a member of the Catholic Church just past 40. Nevertheless, I mourn the loss of solemnity, beauty and majestic music in the Mass. It’s probably time that the Novus Ordo Mass be revisited. Somehow, I know that isn’t going to happen. I have seen the Novus Ordo done very well. Perhaps individual bishops should take it upon themselves to improve the liturgy in their dioceses. Somehow, I know that isn’t going to happen. This is a Church that has been unable to address the obvious for several decades.

#23 Comment By CLW On May 2, 2019 @ 2:35 pm

“Americans, both traditionalists and progressivists, should take note. The more one seeks to radically (and dictatorially) transform a people and their ways of life, the more one works to destroy that people, taking from them the beliefs and practices that give their lives stability and purpose.”

This is a gross oversimplification. You could apply the same “hands-off” standard to countless progressive moments in American history: ending chattel slavery, extending suffrage to women, the Civil Rights Act, etc., all involved the (just) empowerment of some at the (perceived) expense of others.

What you really mean, and care about, is that progressive social leveling should not be allowed to impede your right to marginalize people based upon your religious beliefs and traditions.

#24 Comment By Promagistrate On May 2, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

TomG

“a convenient excuse for what happens inside the walls while ignoring the mission outside”

Thank you so much for such a novel reminder.

In my experience, adult Catholics are well aware that they are not to sit suited and mantilla’d in their cold Popish naves mumbling rotely o’er their beads like benighted peasant women. And yet, God:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41

If you spend all your time away from the altar, what’s the point of establishing the Eucharist? I guess the whole “rock on which I will build my Church” was just some sort of witticism? Moreover, staying social justicely outside can be just as self-righteous as brandishing swords around the altar, and just as much as an excuse for not praying and communing with the Lord. Stay outside long enough, and you’re indistinguishable from the outside. God again:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

#25 Comment By wmwa On May 2, 2019 @ 4:41 pm

It’s funny to read this while also having in mind the fact that the laity have not “received” the teaching on birth control, due to its being too conservative/restrictive. Is that the result of following elite consensus, or just a more general failure of a bunch of celibate men to understand the concerns of ordinary Catholics (particularly the concerns of women who have irregular cycles or who are at heightened risk for injury/death during pregnancy)?

#26 Comment By Bob Johnson On May 2, 2019 @ 4:50 pm

@CLW

The movement to end chattel slavery was a Christian one, as anyone who studied it can tell you. Progressives would not tolerate someone with the religious beliefs of Beecher Stowe or Wilberforce. Pope Gregory XVI also condemned the slave trade, and multiple Papal condemnations were made of it

On the other hand, liberals like Locke defended it

#27 Comment By jim On May 2, 2019 @ 5:07 pm

“progressive social leveling should not be allowed to impede your right to marginalize people based upon your religious beliefs and traditions.”

What in the hell is ‘progressive social leveling’, and how does it relate to an article on Catholic doctrine??

The term sounds like something out of Maoist China or the Soviet Union, where kulaks and middle class people are killed or sent to the gulag.

#28 Comment By Mark McIntire On May 2, 2019 @ 5:14 pm

Not being as strong of Faith as Waughn, I left both the seminary and the Church in 1965 after my ordination to sub-deacon and the implementation of Vatican II balderdash. My most successful blog as THE MEDDLESOME PRIEST is THE LAST POPE IS THE NEXT POPE
[4]
— M M

#29 Comment By Gerald Arcuri On May 2, 2019 @ 5:36 pm

My older brother and I attended a “folk Mass” at a local retreat house sometime in 1968 or 1969. He was twenty four, and I was eighteen years old. We were both raised as devout Roman Catholics, attending Catholic elementary and high school, serving as altar boys, and in his case, graduating from a Roman Catholic university. As we were leaving the outdoor venue in which the Mass was celebrated, he quipped to me, “I feel like I’ve been to a hootenanny, not to Mass.”

I was already beginning to question the Roman Catholic Mass and other doctrines and practices of the church. Vatican II, with its incessant and often inane changes, merely hastened my exit.

My father said to me in his older years, “I didn’t leave the Church; the Church left me.”

Three cheers to “Ted” for his trenchant and witty comments!

#30 Comment By Perry Mason On May 2, 2019 @ 6:34 pm

CLW, “progressive social leveling”, a nasty term I might say, is a revolt against nature. Egalitarianism seeks to destroy the great diversity of humanity. Quite ironic.

And your examples are pathetic; you cannot see past your own nose! “Ending chattel slavery” occurred peacefully in most of the world save the USA; and the Civil War that didn’t quite end the US’ system is often credited as the birth of modern warfare (i.e., mass murder) and it very much destroyed the constitutional legal system in the country.

The “Civil Rights Act” and “extending suffrage to women” do not undermine the quote you stated; they validate it! “Democracy” is a great scam and even late Athens knew it. Extending suffrage merely extended plunder, and yes, the culture most definitely has suffered more destruction as a result. The Civil Rights Act, for all of its noble aims, also destroyed the freedom of association, and reinforced the progressive ethic that one should rely on the State and its Guns to cure all perceived social ills, rather than letting people change in the heart.

In other words, it was a destruction of freedom, and an indication that the American had lost all sense of his earlier philosophical and theological foundation, allowing the end to justify the means.

As Ron Paul is apt to say, paraphrasing, tyranny and top down rule are ancient. It is liberty that is historically new. It is liberty that is “progressive.” And it is inherently more humane and optimistic. It must be terrible to be a progressive, going around seeing the world like Martin Luther, utterly irredeemable and totally depraved, and requiring Inquisition-style policing to destroy the culture and replace it with….neurosis and emptiness.

#31 Comment By Seraphim On May 2, 2019 @ 9:04 pm

Triumphant renovationism, as this Orthodox priest so rightly calls it. [5]

Renovationism being the Russian Orthodox name for the Soviet-sponsored Living Church Movement in the 1920s, which advocated changes in much of traditional belief and worship and used altered liturgies as well. In Russia now, it is basically an epithet, but once understood,the perfect description of the effects of Vatican II. In effect, a new religion. The cultural Catholics, Latin identitarians, and Irish tribalists are all busy writing their denials of the foregoing piece, but they are merely engaging in the religious analog to what Carl Schmitt called political romanticism. Fortunately there is still light in the East.

Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!

#32 Comment By Udmark Robert Kristensen On May 3, 2019 @ 7:24 am

Probably, I am the Latin identitarian. I agree with several of the commenters above. According to Saint Augustine, The City of God, Rome was supposed to be servant of Christendom, and the Church of Rome had a very special position to guard the apostolic faith. Thus, human dignity, with the mysteries of grace, sin, law, and grace, must go before world peace. Somehow, the Humanae Vitae seeks to deny original sin, but our fallen condition, with weakness for contraception, homosexuality, and masturbation do not go away, because Rome issues an encyclica. The Second Vatican Council was rationalistic, and levels holy liturgy with the world. The misunderstood purpose was a brave new world, without sin. Before the Council, contraception, homosexuality, and masturbation were tolerated, because they are basic sexual sins that are the first consequences of original sin, with fear instead of love, and so people comfort one another. The Council attempted to reform away fundamental mysteries of evil that are basic to our needs for the gospel. That was not the role, Saint Augustine attributed to the Roman Church. But to guard the holy faith of religious hope, because we are sinners, in need to love one another. Religion is not philosophy. The Council, and Humanae Vitae made it all too easy, with reason.

#33 Comment By Egypt Steve On May 3, 2019 @ 10:19 am

This is what will reverse the decline of Christianity in the West: when Christians figure out a way to convince non-believers that there is an invisible man who lives in the sky, who became a human being and had himself tortured to death (but not really DEAD dead), so as to save from sins that, from the moment he created us, he knew in advance that we would commit, and who freely made the decision to send us all to hell for all eternity for these sins unless we believed in certain obscure hearsay about these alleged events.

I’m not holding my breath.

#34 Comment By lookback On May 3, 2019 @ 10:47 am

Having witnessed the English Catholics first-hand – having attended some of their schools before being rescued, I’d have to observe that Waugh didn’t “predict” anything.

Rather, the clock stopped ticking for Catholic England centuries before Waugh’s time.

They are a wonderfully old-fashioned and aristocratic bunch, but lost the plot ages ago.

Just look at Jacob Rees-Mogg. Forget the 18th-Century, he’d be more comfortable under Philip II.

As for Portugal…

#35 Comment By mike On May 3, 2019 @ 11:42 am

There is a general principle that plays out in this sad story.
We see it in action everywhere and all the time. Yet people seem to be persistently blind to it.
It is this:
The moment you set up a permanently standing governing body over any organisation, industry, culture, or society, that governing body will begin to destroy the entity over which it holds power.
Then why hadn’t the Vatican destroyed Catholicism centuries before Vatican II??
For one thing, communications and transportation infrastructure had not developed to the point where the Vatican could exercise control over distant communities. Moreover, local cultures and identities were far deeper and stronger than they are today.
We see that the Christian churches which have proven resilient, under the storm of modernism and the deluge of Hollywood sewage culture, have been the de-centralised ones – and the ones whose memberships are defined by acceptance of very clearly enumerated laws and doctrines, scriptures and creeds.
Churches with nebulous, fluid, soppy ideas – that are continually shaped and moulded by a corrupt worldly governing elite – have been eviscerated.
[Nobody goes to church to hear about butterflies and puppies and lollipops and about a god who just wants everybody to be cool and “don’t lay your heavy trip on the brothers, man.”]

#36 Comment By Patrick Moore On May 3, 2019 @ 3:23 pm

One wishes that Waugh had turned his famously poisonous tongue against this liturgical silliness; the tongue he famously exercised in “The Loved One” and “Decline and Fall.” He himself admitted his nastiness, replying to someone who scolded him for claiming to be Catholic though he was so nasty, “Oh, without the Catholic church I’d hardly be human.” A favorite gibe: Winston Churchill’s notoriously dysfunctional son Randolph had a tumor removed, and it was announced that the tumor was benign. Waugh said, “They found the one thing in Randolph that was benign, and they cut it out.” If one is going to be nasty, one might as well use (“leverage”) his talent on behalf of truth.

#37 Comment By Johannes de silentio On May 3, 2019 @ 4:37 pm

Previous councils had never been so centralized as the Second Vatican Council, possibly apart from the First Vatican Council that only defined the dogma of papal infallibility, before it was dissolved with the 1871 war. Papal infallibility has only been used by pope Pius XII in 1950 for the dogma of Mary’s assumption, a belief shared with the orthodox Church, so this dogma was never controversial, if Christians really do believe in apostolic tradition. The council of Trento, 1545 – 1563, actually invited Martin Luther who declined and died in 1546. It was not an easy council, but the location in Trento was a good compromise between the pope and the emperor. Its various decretes were concise, based on much debate, and the need to be clear. Especially, it raised the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas to the altar, which meant that this was the moral theology of Christendom, however complicated that man is. As regards Mary’s immaculate conception, this complicated belief was not ruled out by the Summa Theologica, which set the principles that allowed pope Pius IX to define the dogma in 1854. With the Second Vatican Council, theologians felt the need to modernize, simplify, and harmonize, and its constitutions, decretes, and declarations fill more written pages than that of any previous council, but with less complicated theology. This is because, the council was not doctrinal, but pastoral. It was not supposed to reform handed over doctrine, but was supposed to reform the ecclesiastical community. But if local churches or the Vatican have put communities above complicated doctrine, for more than fifty years, the Church has not done what it must do. People cannot study complicated doctrine, if they are left to their own worlds. Especially, the holy liturgy hands down doctrine from the Church fathers. That the Summa Theologica is still raised to the altar is of little use to people who cannot all study theology. And the Humanae Vitae was much to simple too touch on basic sins that pertain to complicated men. This is still all right, if the pastoral attempts of the council can be succesfull, so that complicated doctrine handed down from the apostles, of sin, law, and grace, is basic to communities. But it is perhaps too much to demand from regular Christians that they must be theologians. With reform of ecclesiastical communities, bishops have oversold modern reason. The centralization in the modern papacy has gone too far, with corrupt bureaucracy. Fortunately, this probably means a good, long break from councils and reforms.

#38 Comment By tony55398 On May 3, 2019 @ 5:53 pm

One shouldn’t reduce religion to rites and rituals. Oh my, should the Priest face the people or the Altar. Love is everything. Love of God and Love of neighbor. Christ came to serve and save the sinner not the self righteous. Let all receive the Eucharist.

#39 Comment By Johannes de silentio On May 3, 2019 @ 10:02 pm

And ironically, the most difficult and last document of the council, Dignitatis Humanae, Declaration on Religious Freedom, that governments have not read, because they do not answer to the bishop of Rome, can now be catholics’ own departure point on their journey for faith and morals.

#40 Comment By GaryH On May 4, 2019 @ 9:55 am

Vatican II was the Protestantization of the Catholic Church. Not in terms of directly changing doctrines, but in terms of ‘pastoral’ marching orders that would lead the sheep to walk and talk like Mainline Protestants.

Vatican II is as much a part of the culturally destructive, culturally suicidal, 1960s as Swinging London, The Summer of Love, the 1968 student riots, Woodstock, and the Altamont Free Concert.

Until such time as Vatican II is officially ignored as a pastoral council that was wrong time and worse for each succeeding decade, meaning until Vatican II is overturned in practice, including liturgically, the Catholic Church will remain impotent before the forces of Modernism and Liberalism, with more and more of its leaders becoming either evil men who back those anti-Christ ideas and policies or else cringingly beg not to be destroyed by them.

Vatican II produced an effeminized hierarchy that wants to have play time with the gay and lesbian ‘bishops’ in the Anglican and Lutheran communions and that despises both the white Catholic working class and the truly devout in pre-Vatican II terms as backward trash that needs to be silenced forever.

Pope Francis is evil, but he was elected, easily, by Cardinals who all were appointed by John Paul II (as was Francis) or Benedict XVI, who each were 100% pro-Vatican II.

#41 Comment By Rev. Msgr. k On May 4, 2019 @ 4:47 pm

Vatican II was suicide for the Church.

#42 Comment By Nick Firoozye On May 5, 2019 @ 10:28 am

It is interesting to note that the growing religions in the US (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Islam) are those which require more of their adherents in terms of time, personal sacrifices, and presumably liturgy, while those which are shrinking are the ones which accommodate the most (e.g., Methodists, CofE, etc). Inclusivity can and should bring new adherents, but accommodation can be a slippery slope. Listen to this old podcast (2006) by Larry Iannaconne on Econtalk on the Economics of Religion for more info [6]

#43 Comment By Katy On May 5, 2019 @ 10:26 pm

Johannes,
There’s no evidence Luther declined an invite to Trent. (Is there proof he was invited?) The Smalcald Articles seem to be written in preparation for attending. We forget travel was time-consuming and dangerous, plus Luther had a mark on his head, and was in poor health. He died, as you say, a year into the council. The other pastors involved in writing Smalcald could have gone, but I believe there was much fear of imprisonment or execution. Heresy was a capital crime, as Hus discovered. Even if you’re posthumously vindicated, as Jean d’Arc, that’s not huge comfort to the living and breathing, so I can understand those pastors staying away from Rome

#44 Comment By mrscracker On May 6, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

lookback says:

“Just look at Jacob Rees-Mogg. Forget the 18th-Century, he’d be more comfortable under Philip II.”

*************
I actually enjoy looking at & listening to Mr. Rees-Mogg. He’s unfailingly courteous & respectful. Those qualities shouldn’t be limited to any one era.
And though I much prefer the Tridentine Latin Mass, we have more than one Rite in the Catholic Church to choose from. The Maronite Catholic Mass I’ve attended has the words of Consecration in Aramaic- which is lovely.

#45 Comment By Johannes de silentio On May 7, 2019 @ 12:07 am

Katy,
Thank you for kindly correcting my hearsay.
Quotes from Wikipedia:

“Paul III issued a decree for a general council to be held in Mantua, Italy, to begin on 23 May 1537. Martin Luther wrote the Smalcald Articles in preparation for the general council. The Smalcald Articles were designed to sharply define where the Lutherans could and could not compromise.”

“However, the council was delayed until 1545 and, as it happened, convened right before Luther’s death.”

“The history of the council is thus divided into three distinct periods: 1545–1549, 1551–1552 and 1562–1563. During the second period, the Protestants present asked for renewed discussion on points already defined and for bishops to be released from their oaths of allegiance to the Pope. When the last period began, all intentions of conciliating the Protestants was gone.”

#46 Comment By Deacon H On May 7, 2019 @ 1:59 pm

Dear Casey Chalk,

There’s an old saying in the Delta:”Predict early, and predict often, and some will call you a profit”.

Our faith, six of the sacraments, are things- they are derivatives of the Eucharist. What seemed to be missed by Waugh, you and many that posted comments, is that it is the Eucharist that presupposes all entities. In turn, as long as this most precious gift continues to favor mankind, it is our shortcomings that need be addressed. As a life long Latin Rite catholic that attended catholic grade school, high school and university, and one that has spent the last 30 years in moral and ontology studies, I find nothing in Vatican II that diminishes my faith. Peace love and charity are all that is required from a faith, or people of God. Remember the pray we say at each mass: “Look not on our sins but the faith our your church”.

#47 Comment By Udmark Robert Kristensen On May 7, 2019 @ 4:09 pm

Deacon Hsaid:
“Peace love and charity are all that is required from a faith, or people of God.”

Peace was God’s plan for the world, when he created the hierarchy of beings, endowed with materiality, life, motion, and reason. Our first parents, Adam and Hava had morals, or virtues that are good habits that have become second nature. It does not matter, whether they were created instantaneously into this state of second nature, or whether they learned it as they grew up as twin children of Australopithecine biological parents who took care of them on behalf of God. As human beings they were capable of free will relative to one another and relative to God, and as mortal man and woman they were capable of grace. God placed them in grace, with access to the tree that allowed them belief, and also to the other tree that allowed them unbelief. Peace is not easy, because it depends on our morals that must be learned and our faith. Love or charity is the holy Ghost.

#48 Comment By Sean North On May 8, 2019 @ 10:06 am

Deacon H says, ” I find nothing in Vatican II that diminishes my faith.”

That’s because he is probably a so-called “Permanent Deacon” that was part of the revolutionary agenda of Vatican II.

I suggest, Deacon H, the doctrinal content of your faith is deficient if it is untroubled by Vatican II.