Friday, March 31, 2017

Anti-Romanism Revisited

"According to Ratzinger, two periods resemble ours...that of Modernism, and the age spanning the Enlightment and the Great Revolution of the West, referred to in German cultural history as that of the Rococo.

"Ratzinger makes the connexion with the world of Modernism briefly enough. The crisis of Modernism 'never really came to a head, but was interrupted by the measures taken by Pius X and by the change in the intellectual situation after the First World War. The crisis of the present is but the long-deferred resumption of what began in those days.' (Faith and the Future, 92) He lingers much longer over the comparison with the Rokokozeit. That age resembled ours, he alleges, in its systematic preference for rationality over against tradition, and also in its curious mélange of exaggerations with genuinely fruitful beginnings. That age too had its eminently desirable liturgical movement, and its honourable effort to vindicate the just place within Catholic consciousness of the local church in all its particularity. Yet both became extreme, finishing in such highly ambiguous phenomena as the 1786 (Tuscan) Synod of Pistoia, or the career of the Saxon ecclesiastic Ignaz Heinrich von Wessenberg (1774-1860). Between the two of them, they would have reduced the Catholic liturgy to a Calvinist austerity, abolished all extra-liturgical devotions and expressions of piety, decreed the monastic and mendicant orders out of existence, and erected their respective churches into a law unto themselves, all animated by what Balthasar has called der anti-römische Affekt."
Aidan Nichols, OP, The Thought of Benedict XVI, New York: T&T Clark, 2005.

"The Enlightenment had its liturgical movement, the aim of which was to simplify the liturgy and restore it to its original basic structure. Excesses in the cult of relics and of the saints were to be removed, and, above all, the vernacular, with congregational singing and participation, was to be introduced. The Enlightenment witnessed also an episcopal movement which wanted to stress the importance of the bishops over against the one-sided centralization of Rome. This movement had democratic elements, as when Wessenberg, the vicar general of Constance, demanded the setting up of provincial synods. Reading his works one imagines one is reading a progressive of the year 1969. The abolition of celibacy was demanded, the sacraments were to be administered only in the vernacular, and no promises were to be required concerning the religious education of the children of a mixed marriage--and so on." Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1971, 93-94.

It is in this book that Ratzinger famously predicted that the Church in the year 2000 would be smaller but stronger. Cf. Ibid., 101-106.
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