Friday, July 9, 2010

The Other Father Dowling Despises Tradition

Tom Bosley — er, Father Dowling — er, Bishop Kevin Dowling, from South Africa, just hates all the pomp and circumstance associated with the Traditional Latin High Mass. And he’s none too happy with that famous reformer either, that “restorationist” as he calls him (so beloved in Traditionalist circles?), Pope John Paul II.

Really, JPII a restorationist? What kind of mushrooms flourish on hippopotamus dung, anyone know? Because I suspect they’re hallucinogenic, and Bishop Dowling has been cooking with them, instead of spending his krugerrands at a safe market.

Remember our enthusiasm at the announcement that the Traditional Latin Mass would be celebrated, for the first time in over 40 years,  at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC a couple of months ago?

“This Tridentine liturgy was an elaborate ritual manifestation of ecclesiastical rank, not a Mass in conformity with the fundamental Vatican II mandate for full, active participation by the faithful,” he roared — as if V2 “mandated” anything at all, let alone “full, active participation” in the sense he apparently apperceives.

For the Fathers of Vatican II, “full, active participation” meant instructing the faithful. But don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself. It’s in Section II of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium. I won’t quote it here, lest I risk boring you. You have the link, straight from the Vatican’s website. Scroll down to Section II, “The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation,” about a quarter of the way down, and it’s right there.

If a layperson such as myself can (and must) direct a Catholic bishop to the source he quotes, then that bishop is ill qualified for his position. He either has forgotten his calling, wandered off the path, or entered the fold insidiously, in an attempt to “change the Church from within.” Which is it, Your Excellency?

I suspect it’s the last option, for he then sniffed:

For example, the issues of celibacy for the priesthood and the ordination of women, withdrawn even from the realm of discussion. Therefore, such pronouncements are open to scrutiny – to discern whether they are in accord, for example, with the fundamental theological vision of Vatican II, or whether there is indeed a case to be made for a different interpretation or opinion.

The issue of celibacy is open to discussion (though I wouldn’t hold my breath), not “withdrawn even from the realm” thereof. It is a discipline, not a dogma. However, it was St. Paul himself who advised that clergy remain celibate, if they weren’t already married, for practical reasons: “He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.”

But the thought that a bishop could entertain the notion of women’s ordination just boggles the mind. One might ask Dowling whether he’s familiar with the Latin phrase in persona Christi, or knows what it means, or understands its application not just in the Liturgy, but in administering any of the Sacraments. One also wonders whether he fully understands John 15:16.

Still, one must ask, just what was the “fundamental theological vision of Vatican II” as interpreted by Bp. Dowling and, since nearly everyone seems to agree that the Council was a product of its time, is that “vision” even relevant anymore?

Is South Africa’s Bishop Kevin Dowling relevant?

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