The battle against ultramontanism

It is so interesting to read Yves Congar’s My Journal of the Council to read the behind the scenes account of the battle among theologians like himself with what he described as the rigid ultramontanism of the conservatives, who resisted any change to the status quo, and promoted the role of the papacy to such an extent that it was as if the Pope was the source of Revelation.

Congar was pushing for a return to Scripture and Tradition—because he thought the power of the papacy had become too concentrated and the Catholic Church had become too Roman, too Italian, locked into a monarchical model.   Though traditionalists often trash Nouvelle Theologie as modernist, I see it as springing from a desire to return to the Sources of Catholic teaching—Revelation, i.e. Scripture and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers rather than being confined to  a Neo-Scholastic and philosophical approach to doctrine alone.  (Not that, however, that approach has ever been abrogated!   It hasn’t.  I would say it has been fleshed out.   Just as natural law has never been abrogated. It can’t be abrogated!  Any new approach to theology must keep in mind the entire conversation going back to the first Apostles—no rupture. )

Well, interestingly, now it is the traditionalists who are crying out “Scripture and Tradition!” against a perceived ultramontanism of today’s progressives who see Pope Francis as their ally in changing the teachings of the Church, or at least its pastoral practice, which is tantamount to the same thing.  (I do not think Pope Francis will change either the teaching or the pastoral practice).

I am for Scripture and Tradition and the Pope as a sign of unity and defender of the deposit of faith.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The battle against ultramontanism

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You wrote: Congar was pushing for a return to Scripture and Tradition—because he thought the power of the papacy had become too concentrated and the Catholic Church had become too Roman, too Italian, locked into a monarchical model. Though traditionalists often trash Nouvelle Theologie as modernist, I see it as springing from a desire to return to the Sources of Catholic teaching—Revelation, i.e. Scripture and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers rather than being confined to a Neo-Scholastic and philosophical approach to doctrine alone.

    Pope Paul VI addressed this very subject in No. 6-9 the General Instructions of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1969, which remain unchanged in the most recent edition. Here are his words (emphasis and boldface in original; internal citations removed). Note especially the last of these paragraphs.

    A Witness to Unbroken Tradition

    6. In setting forth its instructions for the revision of the Order of Mass, the Second Vatican Council, using the same words as did St. Pius V in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, by which the Missal of Trent was promulgated in 1570, also ordered, among other things, that some rites be restored “to the original norm of the holy Fathers.” From the fact that the same words are used it can be seen how both Roman Missals, although separated by four centuries, embrace one and the same tradition. Furthermore, if the inner elements of this tradition are reflected upon, it also becomes clear how outstandingly and felicitously the older Roman Missal is brought to fulfillment in the new.

    7. In a difficult period when the Catholic faith on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood, and the real and permanent presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species were placed at risk, St. Pius V was especially concerned with preserving the more recent tradition, then unjustly being assailed, introducing only very slight changes into the sacred rite. In fact, the Missal of 1570 differs very little from the very first printed edition of 1474, which in turn faithfully follows the Missal used at the time of Pope Innocent III. Moreover, even though manuscripts in the Vatican Library provided material for the emendation of some expressions, they by no means made it possible to inquire into “ancient and approved authors” farther back than the liturgical commentaries of the Middle Ages.

    8. Today, on the other hand, countless learned studies have shed light on the “norm of the holy Fathers” which the revisers of the Missal of St. Pius V followed. For following the publication first of the Sacramentary known as the Gregorian in 1571, critical editions of other ancient Roman and Ambrosian Sacramentaries were published, often in book form, as were ancient Hispanic and Gallican liturgical books which brought to light numerous prayers of no slight spiritual excellence that had previously been unknown.

    In a similar fashion, traditions dating back to the first centuries, before the formation of the rites of East and West, are better known today because of the discovery of so many liturgical documents.

    Moreover, continuing progress in the study of the holy Fathers has also shed light upon the theology of the mystery of the Eucharist through the teachings of such illustrious Fathers of Christian antiquity as St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. John Chrysostom.

    9. For this reason, the “norm of the holy Fathers” requires not only the preservation of what our immediate forebears have passed on to us, but also an understanding and a more profound study of the Church’s entire past and of all the ways in which her one and only faith has been set forth in the quite diverse human and social forms prevailing in the Semitic, Greek, and Latin areas. Moreover, this broader view allows us to see how the Holy Spirit endows the People of God with a marvelous fidelity in preserving the unalterable deposit of faith, even amid a very great variety of prayers and rites.

    You wrote: Well, interestingly, now it is the traditionalists who are crying out “Scripture and Tradition!” against a perceived ultramontanism of today’s progressives who see Pope Francis as their ally in changing the teachings of the Church, or at least its pastoral practice, which is tantamount to the same thing. (I do not think Pope Francis will change either the teaching or the pastoral practice).

    Oh, he will change pastoral practice alright — but not in the manner for which progressives agitate, and most assuredly not in any manner contrary to theological or moral doctrine.

    >> The pope has already signaled that he wishes to modify the discipline of clerical celibacy, but that he wants the initiative on this to come from the episcopal conferences rather than from the top.

    >> And the need for accommodation of the Orthodox pastoral practice in dealing with failed attempts at marriage is also clear: reconciliation of the ecumenical patriarchate and the majority of the churches of the Orthodox Communion requires it. The question is how far this will extend.

    >> And the pope clearly wants homosexual individuals to feel welcome in the Catholic Church, meaning at least a more pastoral application of the existing norms. Homosexuality, like illegitimacy, is often the fruit of sin — but not the sin of the homosexual individual.

    But all of this is possible within the framework of existing doctrine.

    Norm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s