24 May 2007

Developing a point

I said below:

"For most of us in English speaking countries, the Reformation was the great catastrophe: Catholics were martyred by people who claimed to be doing God's work. The analogous catstrophe in Latin countries was the French Revolution: Catholics were martyred in the name of politics, not religion. Perhaps this is why Belloc is different from Chesterton."

I have been asked to elaborate.

By the time of the French Revolution, Catholics in countries like Britain which had undergone the Reformation had managed to come to a form of greater or lesser tolerance by the States in which they lived. English Catholics had places of worship throughout the 18th Century, and priests could minister to them. If you were rich, there will still limitations: you couldn't go to the Universities, or join the Army - at least in England; but you could study, and serve the King, by going to University or by joining the Army in Hannover. If you were poor, you would be at worst tolerated, and the odd Gordon Riot apart, your place of worship would not be destroyed. (Incidentally, in Barnaby Rudge, Dickens mentions the execution of Catholics executed for joining in the Gordon Riots, pointing out that they were attended by their priests.) It meant that by the time of the French Revolution, Catholics in Britain were part of the polity of the State: not fully part constitutionally, but desirous of showing their loyalty.

The effect of the French Revolution on the countries which had not undergone the Reformation was different: the reconciliation of the Catholic population to the forms of the State has never fully taken place, and the ideology of the Left has always included anti-Catholicsm.

This, I suggest, is one reason why the SSPX has been viewed with more suspicion on this side of the Channel than the other. The integrisme of politics and belief which is common on the Right in Latin countries is founded in the Revolution and as such does not echo here. It is hard to believe that Bishop Williamson actually represents in any shape or form a point of view that resounds in Catholic hearts in Britain today.

The politicisation (perhaps better, the non-liturgical baggage the average non-Latin Catholic sees the SSPX bringing in its train) of the Tridentine Mass has been a gift to those Liberals who wish to see the past forgotten, especially those in English-speaking countries where the dichotomy of political Left versus religious Right might not otherwise hold. The Motu Proprio might allow this dichotomy to be shown up for the false alternative that it is.

2 comments:

John said...

When I saw Bishop Williamson in January of this year, the comment that he made which has stuck in my mind is that if God doesn't do something soon to chastise the Western World, then He had better start apologising to Sodom and Gommorah for what He did to them.

Fr. Greg said...

The statement that John cites is usually attributed, originally, to Billy Graham. Recently, I noted an SSPX video on Youtube of a homily, the blurb for which was, "He paid a debt He did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay." This, of course, is a saying also popular in Fundamentalist Protestant circles, sort of a short version of "the four spiritual laws". Veddy intuhresting...