28 December 2010

Cafeteria Traditionalism

Protestant Traditionalists posting?
The Italian blogger Andrea Tornelli seems to have caused quite a stir by talking about the “Protestantism of the Traditionalists” and by mentioning  the old chestnut of Gallicanism to boot.
From his post it seems that Tornelli doesn’t much care for the details of the liturgical crisis and may have been just as happy had Summorum Pontificum never appeared, so long as everyone was obeying authority. He may not understand the importance of the liturgical question, but he may also be on to something.
The Pimpernel has flagged the issue of the unsatisfactory “1962 line” and that ultramontanism and centralism are dangerous for the sacred liturgy. Paul VI couldn’t have gotten away with his missal without them, and yes, before certain bloggers shout, neither could Pius XII or John XXIII. The Pimpernel would add St Pius X, and could even add St Pius V (he did rather savage the sequences, you know).
The Pimpernel is only too aware that before the official thaw in favour of the traditional liturgy which began drip by drip in 1984 one had to choose between obedience to the Church and the traditional liturgy. It was an impossible choice. In conscience many people remained faithful to the traditional liturgy and suffered the consequences. Those were horrible years without much hope visible on the horizon.
With Summorum Pontificum that crisis of conscience should not now arise. OK there are a lot of Bishops who still need to sit, let alone pass, “Summorum Pontificum 101”, but post-2007 it is another ball game entirely. Today we have the irony of central authority asserting that Catholics have the right to the old liturgy and pronouncing such words as "decernimus" and "numquam abrogatam". Slowly, much too slowly in some places, bishops are coming to undersand their meaning.
But we have a new type of Traddy these days. We hear things like “I can’t in conscience go to that 1962 Mass because they abolished the Octave of Corpus Christi in 1955” or “Everything that Pope 'X' did to the liturgy was wrong” and so on [insert your pope and a liturgical reform you don't like, and mix according to taste]. The “line” is drawn by the individual. What the Church has done is loudly accepted or rejected by private persons.

Is this Protestant Traditionalism, or a mutant form of Gallicanism? Perhaps. Perhaps Tornelli has a point.
The Pimpernel calls it “Cafeteria Traditionalism”. With all that we know about liturgical reform and with our technological ability to pontificate about it at the press of a button, we now have those who will put onto their tray only those pieces of tradition that they like (the ‘more-recent-older’ the better, seemingly) and happily sit and eat alone whilst explaining all the more loudly, just in case anyone is listening, how everyone else should have made the same choices they did.
Well, we know that Cafeteria Catholicism is Protestantism in thin disguise, so what about this?
Yes, in 1977 people used similar arguments against those who rejected what Paul VI did. But they were truly exceptional times. Now we were post-2007. There is no going back. The old menu is here to stay, and people like it. Yes, lots of what happened before (and after) 1962 needs to be studied and debated and hopefully corrected, and we’re free to do that in the proper places (but it helps if we talk when the right people are in fact listening, and we don't just shout eccentricly from the corner).
When it comes to how we worship now, are some of us missing the wood for the trees? Unless we are Protestants, we live and worship in the Church as she is, and work with legitimate authority, not storm off because the fanon remains folded in the papal sacristy drawer. Like semi-doubles or the triple candle as I may, if I take my tray elsewhere because they’re not on the menu at the moment, I risk eating alone. No-one will listen to me then, even if I do have something worthwhile to say.
As the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer over in Scotland have demonstrated, post-2007 there's no honour in that sort of thing. It's just not Catholic. And there's no need for it. It won't help change anything for the better either.


  1. except the Bishiops aren't allowing the Mass of All Time [hardly extraordinary!] in any serious way, the Orcadian Monks have been left out in the cold by the Bishop in Aberdeen, so Trads know that the Bishops are cold shouldering them and the Pope. After years of exile for staying faithful to the Popes and keeping alive Catholicism in the face of outright heresy and Guitar-masses, i think most Trads are just wary, because if they all "came over" likes the Sons of the Holy Redeemer, they too would be left out in the cold by Bishops who treat the Tridentine Mass as if it were an affront to the Church and not the gem in her crown!

  2. Who created and run the caffeteria? Answer: the Bishops. Some Bishops provide a full menu while others serve nothing but spinach. Trads would like a little meat and potatoes?

    When the hungry show up for their spiritual fare theb problem, as I see it, is not that they pick and choose what they are willing to eat but that all the food there is is spoiled. So if they try to pick the least bad or hunger after good oldfashione fare, A.Tornelli callls them names. He should go after the caffeteria operators not the reluctant customers. My 2 cents.

  3. I think Tornelli establishes quite a lot of strawmen in this piece, such as imputing the view to all traditionalists that the Council should be abolished. Even the SSPX have always insisted that Vatican II was a valid ecumenical council and their concerns are largely focused on religious liberty and ecumenism. Indeed more mainstream traditionalist criticisms of the Novus Ordo often invoke the Council's constitution on the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) to advance their case. My own prediction is that the Second Vatican Council will be largely forgotten about in 30 or more years and will simply become irrelevant. It's already quite noticeable that the current pontiff hardly ever quotes from the Council's texts, very much unlike his predecessor. To a large extent, Vatican II has already become irrelevant.

  4. I don't think the charge of Cafeteria Traditionalism is apt at all. If you look at the criticisms of the various reforms, there is one common denominator and that is Bugnini. I propose reverting to the pre-1955 liturgy, then undertaking a wise, patient and faithful reform.

  5. Mr. Quinn,
    Just so! Well said. I think that, given time, all who love Catholic tradition sincerely will come round to this view in one form or other. Faxit Deus!
    Fr. Capreolus