I have watched with interest the discussions going on between quiavideruntoculi, Chalcedon and now Geoffrey Sales, on the subject of the Catholic Church and Vatican II, religious liberty and so forth. I have said nothing so far, not because I have nothing to say, but because it is difficult to know what to say.
As regular readers will know, my own journey is one which leaves me on my own version of Mt Nebo. I can look across the Tiber, but for various reasons, I cannot cross it. One of those reasons is the spirit of Vatican II, which in my experience of it is divisive and disruptive. The parish priest where I live has made it plain he does not see why one who is devoted to Our Lady, prays the Rosary and goes to confession more than once a week, should wish to join a church which he sees as dedicated to social justice and a successful promotion of his vision of Vatican II. He has not said in so many words that my sort are not welcome, but he has made it plain that another tiresome old-fashioned Christian is the last thing he wants on his hands, when making progress with the spirit of Vatican II is so important.
I know that other Catholics here have reported him to his bishop, but that the bishop doesn’t care, because he probably shares the same view, or knows that the Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales does so.
I am aware I may be missing some important point in preferring to stay in my church, with its altar rails, its sonorous liturgy, its Marian devotion and its happy, old-fashioned services, and that getting involved in a Sunday rugby scrum for the Blessed Sacrament whilst standing, and singing ‘Shine, Jesus Shine’ may well be what the Spirit wants me to do; but all I can say is that the Spirit shows no sign of that. I have ceased going to the discussion groups I used to attend, because if I wish to listen to talk about women priests, homosexual rights and women bishops and how abortion isn’t covered by Scripture, I can do so in my own church, knowing that my own priests disagrees with all these things as much as I do, and that there is no bishop somewhere who is going to intervene to tell him otherwise, and no Bishop in another country who is going to overrule that and tell him he must forget these things as secondary to the job of preaching the Gospel.
My priest does a pretty good job of that. He goes round the parish, not just to those of us in his three churches, but to all those who are pointed out to him as needing him. I have just finished mending his cassock, which needed a few buttons putting back, and some darning. We did offer to buy him a new one, but he would have nothing of it, insisting, once he found the price, that we put that into the poor-box and then asking whether anyone could help him ‘make do and mend’. As my aunts and my sister taught me well, I volunteered, and like to think no one can see the darn. I’ve offered to help with the soup kitchen one night a week, which will keep me busy after a busy day, but be something I can offer.
So yes, I feel a bit of a by-stander in an argument which seems to me somewhere over there.