01 December 2012

In Which Somebody Gets Under My Skin

Ben Trovato tipped us off to an effusion from Grima Wormtongue Paul Inwood which got me really annoyed yesterday and has remained as a sort of mind worm all day (a bit of a problem as I have had to work today and have been out and about all over the place).  Inwood has concluded that His Holiness the Pope has been a fool rather than a knave in expressing his (HH the P's) belief that the EF of the Mass was not abrogated by Pope Paul.

The whole question of the precise status of the Traditional Mass: whether it could have been abrogated; how that could have happened; whether those conditions were met; whether an Indult could restore something abrogated; all these questions were the stuff of argument and discussion for most of the period between the introduction of the OF and the publication of Summorum Pontificum.  There were different views, and canon lawyers managed to come to conclusions that (coincidentally) exactly matched their view of whether or not the EF should or shouldn't be celebrated.

But then along came the Supreme Legislator and settled the question with Summorum Pontificum.  The earlier status - between the promulgation of the 1st edition of the OF and the publication of the Motu Proprio - has been decided retrospectively and definitively: the EF wasn't abrogated, and its use is now regulated by two new instructions.

I'm not aware of any issue of Canon Law in this country in which non-trained Catholics seem to feel that they are completely free to make their own minds up and tell trained Canon lawyers that they are wrong, but that is what Inwood has felt free to do in this context.  Canon Law must have been ambiguous, or perhaps there was just no precedent to decide a question of such magnitude as how a valid and licit form of Mass is made invalid and illicit, but that's one of the reasons we have a Pope: to settle this sort of question.  And settled it is.

So why does Inwood engage in this particular battle long after the argument has been settled?  How does he feel qualified to judge the Pope's decision?  On what basis does he feel able to state patronisingly that the Pope must at best have been badly advised?

I have said several times, that a great battle has been joined between those who would conform the Church to the spirit of the age and those who would see it proclaim a timeless message in spite of the spirit of the age.  In England and Wales, the battle is acute because the leadership in the Church - both its Hierarchy and the senior lay people identified as Catholics - seem to be taking a different line from Rome's.  It is perhaps inevitable that the ground for much of the battle is about sex: that's why Man fell after all, the Devil's greatest triumph.

Inwood's foray isn't really about the EF at all, though it suits proponents of the status quo in England and Wales to portray the EF as a Roman imposition on E&W and its proponents as a cross between crazed albino monks and nostalgic 1950s-lovers.  This is part of an existential struggle to define where the Church is.  (Imagine, if you need to know what I'm getting at, that people self-identifying as Catholic can have problems with priests wearing cassocks!)

Antipapalism and anticlericalism have no place in the Church: it should be axiomatic that they are manifestations of views opposed to the Church and intent on bringing it down.  Why those of us who worry about this sort of thing should be concerned, however, is that Inwood isn't some rogue commenter: he is someone whom the Church in England and Wales has placed on a pedestal.  He is paid (and how!) by a Catholic diocese; he is one of the main arbiters of liturgical music for England and Wales; his is a respected voice to which the majority of Catholic national publications listen with respect.

But he is utterly wrong, and I think we should be asking the diocese which pays his wages to invite him to consider his position.


Mulier Fortis said...

"we should be asking the diocese which pays his wages to invite him to consider his position."

I suspect that therein lies Mr. Inwood's ire... Bishop Egan has just taken over at Portsmouth. Bishop Egan was the chap who, very sensibly, decided that, in these times of tight budgets, his previous diocese (where he was VG) didn't need quite so many costly lay staff in Justice & Peace roles.

Mr Inwood is possibly feeling a little antsy, and so might be trying to raise his own profile...

(Just speculating...)

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

Mr Inwood certainly has a very "interesting" way of reading Church documents (in one case on Pray Tell, arguing that the GIRM is only optional).

If only the poor man did not have such a loud voice in the liturgical establishment: his pooterishness would have been a gentle amusement instead of the malignancy in the English Catholic body politic.

Genty said...

Paul Inwood, Papa-bile. Gotta feel it for the Florence Foster Jenkins of the English Catholic church.

Ben Trovato said...

Part of the problem is bishops losing their nerve due to the speed and disruption of the changes that emerged in the chaos following the Second Vatican Council; that loss of nerve (and a misunderstanding of aggiornamento etc) resulted in them consulting (often-self proclaimed) experts on everything, from architecture to charitable work, and from music to liturgy.

These experts then entrenched themselves (in many cases) in a new bureaucracy, financed by us, and have shaped the agenda ever since.

The shame is that somewhere along the line, the bishops also lost their Catholic instincts and many of those now entrenched have an ecclesiology hostile to authentic Catholicism in unity with (and loyal submission to) the Holy Father. Inwood's latest bletherings are merely an explicit example of that ecclesiology.

The resultant buildings, charitable projects, hymns and liturgical praxis are deeply offensive to traditional Catholic sensibilities precisely because they are an incarnation of such an anti-Catholic ecclesiology.