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Our Power-Hungry Church? Imagine our surprise!


I live in Scotland which, until the 1990s, suffered from deep divisions in areas where there were enough Catholics to annoy the Protestant majority. In the 20th century Christmas was all but illegal–which is why the Scottish New Year’s Eve is such a big traditional deal–and Catholic Scots, like their Presbyterian neighbours, worked at least a half-day on the 25th of December until the end of the 1950s. There was a hiring system that meant that grads of Catholic schools sat at the bottom of the career ladder. And instead of talking openly about the gross prejudice in Scotland against Catholics (and the simmering if silent Catholic resentment) Catholics and Protestants beat hell out of each other after football matches.

Now the increasingly lax Presbyterians are mostly okay with Christmas, and graduates of Catholic schools can scoot up the career ladder as fast as the Protestant grads, and throat-slashing after football games has been greatly reduced, but the Orange Order still marches through Scottish streets to show their defiance of the mythical papist plot to make everybody Catholic.

As my mother, a convert, comes from Scottish Presbysterian stock, the Presbyterian anti-Catholicism of the Scottish (and Scottish-Canadian) past has featured in my family life. My great-grandfather was most definitely an Orangeman, and my grandmother claims she and my grandfather were also Orangemen, and this explains why they were so down on my mother becoming a Catholic and why, apart from weddings, my grandparents never set foot in a Catholic church.

Meanwhile, I have a dear friend who belongs to the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and what I have seen on their website about Roman Catholics would curl (or straighten) your hair. Still, we get along famously and had a sectarian tiff only when my friend protested the presence of the Pope of Rome on Scottish shores. Of course, that Pope of Rome was Benedict XVI; if today the “Protestant” Rangers football fans were to begin their traditional (albeit now illegal) chant of “Kick the Pope”, they might be startled to hear a few Catholic football fans–if only those Catholics who actually believe the Catholic faith–joining in. Such could be the Francis Effect on Scottish ecumenism.

Given my lifelong resistance to anti-Catholicism, to say nothing of hearing from Catholics about how fantastic has been the Church since the Second Vatican Council, you can imagine my surprise that the latest person to wail about the “power-hungry” Catholic Church is its current pontiff. I am used to one Catholic narrative that before 1963 the Church was Simply Awful, and I am used to the Protestant and post-Protestant narrative that the Church is STILL Simply Awful, but the Supreme Pontiff’s insinuation that the Church is STILL Simply Awful and will Continue to Be Simply Awful Until He Has Finished Renovations is startlingly new.

Meanwhile, calling the Church “power-hungry” is rich coming from a guy who may or may not have been involved in the St. Gallen Mafia’s machinations to put him on the throne balcony.

Incidentally, doesn’t that “Secret Pact” Mass in the Catacombs in 1965 we’ve been hearing about remind you of a Malachi Martin novel?

On the evening of Nov. 16, 1965, quietly alerted to the event by word-of-mouth, some 40 Roman Catholic bishops made their way to celebrate Mass in an ancient, underground basilica in the Catacombs of Domitilla on the outskirts of the Eternal City…

…the Mass was celebrated shortly before the end of the Second Vatican Council, the historic gathering of all the world’s bishops that over three years set the church on the path of reform and an unprecedented engagement with the modern world — launching dialogue with other Christians and other religions, endorsing religious freedom and moving the Mass from Latin to the vernacular, among other things.

as the liturgy concluded in the dim light of the vaulted fourth-century chamber, each of the prelates came up to the altar and affixed his name to a brief but passionate manifesto that pledged them all to “try to live according to the ordinary manner of our people in all that concerns housing, food, means of transport, and related matters.”

The signatories vowed to renounce personal possessions, fancy vestments and “names and titles that express prominence and power,” and they said they would make advocating for the poor and powerless the focus of their ministry.

In all this, they said, “we will seek collaborators in ministry so that we can be animators according to the Spirit rather than dominators according to the world; we will try to make ourselves as humanly present and welcoming as possible; and we will show ourselves to be open to all, no matter what their beliefs.”

The document would become known as the Pact of the Catacombs, and the signers hoped it would mark a turning point in church history.

Instead, the Pact of the Catacombs disappeared, for all intents and purposes.


Too bad Malachi isn’t alive today to hear what the Secret 1965 Mass was really all about. I’m not sure why, though, given the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, it was so secret, or if it had to be a big secret in 1965 why it no longer has to be a secret in 2015. Really, the whole thing does not sound very collegial to me.

But that’s another post.

Right now I am reflecting on how bizarre it is that the Catholic pontiff sounds like an elderly member of the Orange Order, and how an increasing number of devout Catholics are feeling a strong desire to kick the pope.

11 thoughts on “Our Power-Hungry Church? Imagine our surprise!”

  1. reconverted idiot says:

    Haha. I love the thought of that scene in your house, especially after hearing that song!

  2. Dorothy says:

    Ha! That made me laugh out loud. What a hoot!

  3. Dorothy says:

    The idea, which still persisted after Vatican II, is that the Pope of Rome will somehow force Protestants at the sword to give up Protestantism.

  4. Martha says:

    I’d never heard of the Orange Order. Interesting stuff. Thanks for the mini educational session!

  5. tallorder says:

    At any rate, it is mythical now. Señor Kasper says that we have given up ecumenism of return, remember?

  6. Sur Veilled says:

    “…the mythical papist plot to make everybody Catholic.”
    I didn’t realize that was a myth.
    I thought we were supposed to live in such a way as to facilitate everyone’s conversion to the True Faith. I thought we were supposed to live in such a way as to help bring about the full realization of the earthly Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. I still do.
    If that’s not what we are doing here, then is each religion just a different shade of the other, or have I misunderstood your expression here DCM?

  7. Hilary White says:

    With Pope Francis, you have nothing false, nothing deadly, nothing soul-killing. With Pope Francis you have been shown that the thing you were worshiping was an error. With Pope Francis you, we all, have had the glamour stripped away from Novusordoism so that we can all finally see it for what it is. You have had the false, unworthy caricature of Catholicism taken away from you, as it was shown to be a worthless fraud, a counterfeit. I would suggest that this is a positive step.

    Imagine for a moment that the Faith is a life preserver. What if the thing you had been sold – this culturally-constructed, politicised, sham Novusordoist pseudo-religion – was in fact a cheap knock-off that not only would fail to keep you afloat in water, but would itself become waterlogged and drag you down to your death had you been unlucky enough to be tossed in while wearing it? Shouldn’t you be glad to know that the thing you had to save your life was a fake before you needed it instead of after? Shouldn’t you be looking at all that and thinking, “Thank God I got rid of that in time!”

    If you have nothing, then I strongly recommend moving heaven and earth, or more to the point, selling all you have, and purchasing the real thing. I would suggest, moreover, that your life does indeed depend upon it.

  8. Galloglasses says:

    “Meanwhile, calling the Church “power-hungry” is rich coming from a guy who may or may not have been involved in the St. Gallen Mafia’s machinations to put him on the throne balcony.”

    This has always bugged me about modern Catholics, traditionalist or otherwise, I know this line of the article was making a swipe at His Holiness’ pauperisation of the Papacy (does anyone know what he did with Benedict’s throne? I know he got rid of it for his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of the East that one time), but it reminded me of Catholics’ far too often insistent terminology on ‘resignations’, ‘inaugurations’ and other modern republican sounding terms. As if the Church were not a monarchy, as if the Pope, as vicar of Christ the King was not His viceroy on Earth, as if the man did not sit upon the Throne of Peter. Say what you want about how secular governments rule themselves or how they should do such and such, but keep your revolutionary nonsense off of the Church, its bad enough the Popes have done away with the Tiara that is rightfully theirs to wear.

    As an Irishman, Papism is in my blood. Irish Ultramontanism was pretty legendary and for good reason, but not for the reason most people think, (for some bizarre reason some traditionalists I have run into have blamed the entirety of the shenanigans and moral degradation of modern Ireland and the Irish Church on innate psychosis of the Irish people themselves rather than, you know, the bloody heretics that have been leading us slowly on the path of destruction for over a half century. Apparently we’re all just fundamentally sick as a race and had it all coming). The English had driven out our native aristocracy and over the ages of persecution and disenfranchisement, the priesthood was our only recourse of social leadership, the Pope was the only one who we could find succour and call our king. Was it in error? Perhaps, but you try being a Catholic in Ireland for the past few centuries and not be the same way, maybe you could find your path to Sainthood by resisting the burning need for an anchor amidst the fire and fury.

    And so it was up until the abdication by His Holiness Benedict XVI that I had nothing to rely on but the Pope. My only masses were NO (I only first attended a TLM just over a month ago, it simply is not possible for me to make it regular) and were decent enough, no liturgical abuses and the Priest had a healthy respect for Confession and the Eucharist, if not a burning love, neither were spurned even though hardly anyone went to confession regularly if at all. I was lucky, being born in Northern Ireland meant Catholicism was a part of the tribal identity and hence more important in the face of the Orangemen of Ulster. Because the Bishops could not be counted on to stand up against the challenges of the age, silence ruled, politicians could not be trusted, the parties (family loyalty to parties is traditional here) merely used you for votes and didn’t give a toss about you and in many places the priests were all but open heretics and my entire life has been dominated by news of peadophilia scandals that never seemed to end. My only hope in this mortal coil was the Pope, ‘Don’t worry so long as we have the Pope,’ ‘Its alright, Pope Benedict is slowly changing things around, we’ll see, in twenty years everything may be a little better,’ ‘Its okay, the heretics are dying off, we have Benedict, he will pick good Bishops, when I have children things will be better for them and Ireland will be Catholic again,’ Papism was, in a very real sense, all I had in daily life to keep me going.

    With Pope Francis I have nothing.

  9. DJR says:

    The Old Orange Flute. One of my favorite Clancy Brothers Songs. I grew up hearing that song every Sunday before Mass, as my father played it loudly on our record player as we were getting ready for church.

  10. GW says:

    Next thing you know, he’ll embark on an ‘apology tour’ like some other world ‘leader’.

  11. Chloe says:

    Malachi Martin always said that Windswept House was ‘factional’ not fictional. People I lent my copy to at the time said that it was “too far fetched”. But later started to wonder.

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