Well, here’s a novel attempt at negative politics: Public-Commentator-For-Ever Mr Paul Collins, writing in Eureka Street (“Abbott and Santamaria’s undemocratic Catholicism”), attempts to conjure up the ancient spectre of B.A. Santamaria to discredit our Opposition Leader (and aspiring PM) Tony Abbott.
As Gerard Henderson’s reply to this article (“Defending Abott and Santamaria”) shows, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in Collins’ argument.
Basically, it goes like this:
1) Mr Abbott is a self-declared disciple of B.A. Santamaria
2) B.A. Santamaria was an “integralist”
3) “Integralism” was an authoritarian political ideology that sought to impose a narrow interpretation of Catholicism upon citizens’ freedom of conscience
4) It was therefore just like Italian Fascism
5) SO: VOTING FOR TONY ABBOTT WOULD BE LIKE VOTING FOR CATHOLIC FASCISM!
Umm… As the Bard wrote: “Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!” (The Scottish Play: Act 3, Scene 4)
[Post Script: Actually, the funniest bit in Collins’ piece is the very last paragraph, where he writes:
I am not claiming that Abbott consciously follows Santamaria’s integralism. But there is always the danger of osmosis, of absorbing attitudes without realising it. If I were a politician — or an archbishop — I’d want to put considerable distance between myself and the most divisive man in the history of Australian Catholicism.
Perhaps Mr Collins thinks that Mr Abbott has been sleeping with a copy of the works of B.A. Santamaria under his pillow!]
I highlighted a little while back our Tracey’s article on Pope Benedict in The Tablet. Well, this time they have Eamon Duffy (he of “The Stripping of the Altars” fame) writing on Pope Benedict’s attitude toward the liturgy.
Much of it is purely descriptive, rather than evaluative, such as this paragraph:
Clearly, these opinions place the Pope as a theologian at right angles to a good deal that is most characteristic of the post-conciliar liturgy. We now have a Pope profoundly unhappy about much of what goes on in our parish churches Sunday by Sunday. In his view, the liturgy is meant to still and calm human activity, to allow God to be God, to quiet our chatter in favour of attention to the Word of God and in adoration and communion with the self-gift of the Word incarnate. The call for active participation and instant accessibility seem to him to have dumbed down the mystery we celebrate, and left us with a banal inadequate language (and music) of prayer. The “active participation” in the liturgy for which Vatican II called, he argues, emphatically does not mean participation in many acts. Rather, it means a deeper entry by everyone present into the one great action of the liturgy, its only real action, which is Christ’s self-giving on the Cross. For Ratzinger we can best enter into the action of the Mass by a recollected silence, and by traditional gestures of self-offering and adoration – the Sign of the Cross, folded hands, reverent kneeling.
In this passage, one gets the feeling (from the way Duffy has worded the passage) that he agrees with Ratzinger on this emphasis.
Only at the very end do we get a slight attempt at an evaluation of Pope Benedict’s liturgical path:
It is Pope Benedict’s hope that the free celebration of the old Mass will help reconcile to the wider Church many of those who view Vatican II with deep suspicion. It is possible, however, to sympathise with many of the Pope’s liturgical instincts and preferences, while fearing that his gesture, and the manner of its making, will be read by many as a sign of his own reservations about the work of the Council, and thereby help entrench such reservations at the heart of the Church’s worship.