The History of the Church is a funny old thing (if you want to find out just how funny, come to Ballarat this weekend and do this course with me). Today’s conservatives were yesterdays radicals, and today’s true radicals are the ones their opponents call “reactionary conservatives”.
Cast your mind back to the joint introduction of the Novus Ordo and the vernacular translation of the liturgy. It wasn’t accepted without opposition, and the resistance to it never went away entirely – which is why (TBTG) we have Roman Rite in two forms today (the Extraodinary and Ordinary). Of course, for some, it wasn’t just a matter of resisting the new liturgy – it was a matter of refusing it to the death if need be. (Cf. for eg. “The Banished Heart” by Sydney Traddy, Geoffrey Hull)
Now it appears like we are going to see the whole thing over again, but this time with the other mob – the 60’s radicals who have morphed into the cultural conservatives of our day – represented by the one whom the Cooees Mob have dubbed “Priest-forever”, Paul Collins. His pamphlet “And Also with You” can be downloaded from his “Catholics for Ministry” website. It is a thorough-going rejection of the new translations of the liturgy, calling them an outright “betrayal of Vatican Council II”. Which is exceeding odd, since the liturgy of which the new vernacular is a translation is none other than the liturgy that we received after the 2nd Vatican Council, the Bugnini liturgy, the Ordinary Form. The way Mr Collins goes on about it, you would think we are forcing every one back into using Latin (God forbid!).
Every cliche imaginable, from Xavier Rynne’s potted history of Vatican II to the usual bewailing of the fate of the poor old Old ICEL, can be found in this tract. The thing is, that one cannot really see what the Ex-Rev. Mr Collins might be imagining he can achieve with this sort of thing. It cannot work for the building up of the People of God, for it is designed to unsettle them and turn them against all due order and right conduct. It is encouraging the faithful to nothing less than disobedience and to active dissension in the ranks around the very Source and Summit of the Church’s life.
I cannot see how Paul Collins and his mob can differentiate themselves and their rhetoric from that of Marcel Lefebvre and his society. They might appear to be arguing in different directions, but fundamentally their argument is the same. It is what happens when conservatives dig their heels in so deeply against legitimate development, that they end up becoming heretics.