The Wintertime of Vatican II

Notre Dame’s Scandal in Perspective

Michael J. Matt
Editor, The Remnant

(Posted 05/19/09
I write these words on May 17, 2009—a day that will surely go down in infamy in the annals of the once mighty Catholic Church in America. The springtime of Vatican II has obviously given way to darkest winter when Our Lady’s University in South Bend, Indiana, selects an ardently pro-abortion, pro stem-cell research, pro homosexual unions socialist for its commencement speaker. But this whole, sorry incident is indicative of a much greater catastrophe at the very heart of the Catholic Church.

Even after Archbishop Raymond Burke, a top ranking Vatican official, as well as nearly one hundred American bishops had objected to the public scandal at Notre Dame, President Barack Obama was still welcomed on campus where just the day before, priests had been dragged away in handcuffs for protesting the outrage. “Why is Notre Dame arresting Catholic priests”, Fr. Norman Weslin had asked campus police, “merely for trying to stop the killing of a little baby?” Why indeed! “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria,” the 80-year-old priest sang out as police shackled him like a common criminal.

Poor Father Weslin should have known that precious few at Notre Dame have the capacity to understand his words anymore. The Golden Domers have become sophisticated, and a ‘Hail Mary’ is a long pass in a football game!

Not only did Obama deliver the commencement address but he was interrupted by applause no less than 20 times. Afterwards, the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history was presented with an honorary degree by the president of Notre Dame, a ‘Catholic’ priest.

Clearly, the fort has been betrayed.

It was indeed wonderful to see so many American bishops finally objecting to something, but I suspect even most of them would admit that their protest was too little, too late. Forty years ago? Sure! Today? Not on your life!  Modern bishops are supposed to be nice guys, ever ready for dialogue, big sports fans, maybe even pro-life.  But in all too many dioceses, Sister Mary Feminist runs the chancery and Father Phil Donahue heads up the university.  That’s just the way it is; and that’s the way it’s been for quite some time.

As Katie Walker pointed out in her column for the American Life League last week, this scandal is not without precedent. There’s an actual “timeline of dissent from Catholic teaching”, in fact, that “conservative” fans of the Fighting Irish have chosen to ignore for far too long.  After all, Notre Dame has one hell of a football program!

Never mind that in 1976 pro-abortion politician Walter Mondale was guest speaker at Notre Dame. No one seriously objected even when pro-abort Gov. Mario Cuomo spoke at the commencement at Notre Dame in 1984. In 1987, Miss Walker reminds her readers, theology professor Fr. Richard McCormick avowed support for in vitro fertilization at Notre Dame. In 1987 Notre Dame joined Fordham University, Boston College and Georgetown University in promoting condoms in defiance of Church teaching. In 1992 ND graduation ceremonies featured pro-abortion Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1995-96 the Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students formed at Notre Dame.  From 2002 through 2008 the pornographic Vagina Monologues was performed on campus at Notre Dame despite opposition from Bishop John D’Arcy and Catholic bishops across the country.  In 2004 the Queer Film Festival took place at Notre Dame.  In 2006 ND’s commencement speaker was none other than President Mary McAleese of Ireland—a supporter of women’s ordination who was nevertheless given an honorary degree by Notre Dame. In 2006 Fr. Richard McBrien argued that it was morally justified to remove Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube. 

Our Lady’s University? Please!

So let’s not be too hard on old Barack Obama—or Barry Soetero, or whoever he is—for this one. He is who he is, but it’s the ‘Catholics’ in charge of Notre Dame who should have been excommunicated years ago. These de facto apostates are the disease; commencement speaker Obama is a mere symptom.

And yet the Holy Father was here in America just one year ago speaking to educators from more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S.—including Notre Dame. On that occasion he encouraged Catholic educators to “bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy.”

In light of today’s scandal at Notre Dame perhaps it would have been more advantageous to the Church in America had the Holy Father stayed in Rome last year and drawn up the necessary decrees of excommunication for half the ‘Catholic’ politicians in this country and most of the ‘Catholic’ university heads—starting, of course, with Father John Jenkins of Notre Dame!

What can be said about the modern Catholic Church when her own priests and bishops no longer pay the slightest heed to the words of the Holy Father, even when he travels all the way from Rome to speak to them? No wonder he’s so often reduced to making polite requests for toleration of Church teaching! Since Vatican II even the Roman Pontiffs have lost the authority to command even in the Church, much less outside of her walls. Collegiality has seen to it that they’re all equal, these shepherds of ours—so equal, in fact, that no one seems to be in charge.  As was displayed today at Notre Dame University, the leadership of the Catholic Church is in near total disarray.

Little apostates like John Jenkins have no fear of disciplinary action from their superiors even when making it clear to the Holy Father himself that they will not serve. Notre Dame is still ‘Catholic’, of course!, and will go on being ‘Catholic’ for years to come. Mustn’t let a little apostasy change that!

Meanwhile, the fans of the Fighting Irish will likely continue to express outrage over the Pope’s recent concessions to the “schismatic” Society of St. Pius X.  Real schism will be tolerated while the SSPX is blasted to kingdom come—even after the Pope himself lifted the excommunications of its bishops. When there cease to be consequences for schism in the Church, and when silence replaces the anathema even in the face of apostasy, should any of us be surprised when the few faithful Catholics left in America are carted off in handcuffs, ridiculed as “schismatics” or charged as “enemies of the state”? 

When popes are ignored and faithful priests are arrested on Catholic campuses, shouldn’t it become obvious even to the most dim-witted nominal Catholic that the enemies of the Church have stolen our buildings, invaded our centers of learning and destroyed our liturgy?  Schism is no longer on the horizon. Schism has arrived and is being celebrated as a necessary component of academic freedom and diversity in America.   

As the Bride of Christ was scheduled to be scourged symbolically at Notre Dame, our Pope was in Israel, where he was expected to apologize—yet again—for all the “sins” of the Church in the past. He was expected to grovel. He was expected to join in the scourging of the Bride of Christ. And when he came up short of those expectations, he was ridiculed in the press. Citing Benedict’s alleged membership in the Hitler Youth, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin berated the pope on Israeli Radio over his address at Israel’s Yad Vashem:

In the prayer he slotted into a stone crevice of the remnant of the Roman-era Jewish Temple complex, Pope Benedict mentioned in general terms “the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world” and called for peace in the Middle East.

Rivlin said that “with all due respect to the Holy See, we cannot ignore the burden he bears, as a young German who joined the Hitler Youth and as a person who joined Hitler’s army, which was an instrument in the extermination”.

Pope Benedict’s enemies are legion, and not just outside the Vatican. In the wake of July 7, 2007, one can almost hear the whisperings inside the Vatican: “This has gone far enough! The ‘old man’ must be reined in for his own good and that of the whole Church. We need John Paul III”.

So the papal road shows are becoming all the rage once again.  Must keep the Pope busy, busy, busy.

Last year he came to America, and was reduced to practically begging Catholic universities to become Catholic again. Did they listen?  Ask Fr. Jenkins!

This year he went to Africa and spoke out against condoms. But while he was on the road, even “the Vatican”—meaning no doubt the Secretary of State—rejected his teaching:

The Pope initially told reporters flying with him to Cameroon that AIDS was “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”.  But yesterday the Vatican website published an edited text changing his words to say that the use of condoms “risks” aggravating the problem.  Reporters who taped the Italian-language interview said the Pope, who speaks fluent Italian, did not say the word “risks” on Tuesday and he was unequivocal in saying that condoms aggravate the epidemic.,25197,25212024-2703,00.html

In other words, “the Vatican” got caught red handed editing the Pope. If they did it then how many times have they done it before or since?

Incredibly, even the Pope is not necessarily free to follow his own papal directives. Remember back in November of 2006 when the Holy Father made his wishes known (through a letter to the world’s bishops from Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship) that the universal Church was to correctly translate ‘pro multis’ as ‘for many’ rather than ‘for all’ in the canon of all vernacular Masses? Whatever happened to that? Even in his own Masses the Holy Father is still using ‘for all’. 

The Pope who is evidently “not allowed”  to correct errors in the Novus Ordo translations is also expected to grovel before non-Catholics the world over. “The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated,” Our Lady of Fatima predicted.  Well, here we are.

At the Church of the Annunciation in the Holy Land last week, an interreligious meeting was held between Catholics, Druzians, Jews, and Muslims. The Pope was present. The usual silly season nonsense about the world’s “great religions” being on the same road together, trying to “discover the truth” (as though the Truth hadn’t already been discovered two thousand and nine years ago!) was spouted by archbishops, rabbis and sheiks alike. 

Muslims spoke with great pathos about getting along with the followers of “Jesus and the other great prophets”; the Holy Father encouraged those present to “continue exercising mutual respect as you work to ease tensions concerning places of worship, thus assuring a serene environment for prayer and reflection here and throughout Galilee.” And, all at once, a visibly agitated rabbi commandeered the podium at the end of the meeting and insisted that the representatives of the world’s “great religions” needed to pray together right then and there. “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem!” he intoned, gesticulating around the room for all to join together in the singing—and praying?—of his little theological pop song.

On and on it went, “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, Grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem,” until finally the Pope began grinning almost embarrassedly. By the end of it, however, he was induced to hold hands with rabbis and sheiks, as the singer warbled on and on “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, Grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem.” All that was missing was a cameo from Oprah Winfrey!

As the world falls deeper and deeper into chaos and confusion one can’t help but wonder what the point of all this is anymore. Why must Christians, Jews and Muslims living in the real world endure such childish displays of hammed-up emotionalism? Are we actually to believe that folks in Gaza, Jerusalem, Bagdad or South Bend gave two hoots about that photo-op and the never ending “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, Grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem”?

The partition wall that rips through the heart of the Holy Land isn’t going anywhere. With Gaza still hemorrhaging, the Holy Land is likely to remain the Holy Landing Zone. Nothing will change despite “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, Grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem”.  So, what’s the point, other than to parade the apparent surrender of the human element of the Catholic Church—the only church ever to claim to be the only Church—before the whole world.

Far be it from us to dictate to the Holy Father what needs to be done, but we have now seen the abomination of Barack Obama standing in the holy place, telling the Catholic world that ‘little differences’ over partial-birth abortion should be laid on the altar of the God of Toleration. What is the answer to this abomination of desolation? “Shalom! Salaam! Lord, Grant us peace! Dona Nobis Pacem”?  Please!

If people who still have the capacity for rational thought would take President Obama’s glib-tongued, tele-prompted commencement address at Notre Dame and substitute the word “slavery” or “wife-beating” for “abortion,” they would realize just how intolerant Mr. Tolerance is—and just how intolerant our “religiously neutral” Western republics are.  Shall we dialogue about “our differences” and look for “common ground,” Mr. President, when it comes to slavery and wife-beating.

But the mass murder of unborn children has become a “dialogue point” at Notre Dame University, a matter on which reasonable people—even reasonable priests!—can agree to disagree, while the mass murder continues. That is the message sent by the Catholic Church in America to the whole world. That is the ultimate scandal. That is the white flag of surrender signaling the arrival of the winter of Vatican II. 

Setting aside whatever positive developments may have transpired while the Holy Father was in the Holy Land (the plight of the Palestinians, for example, was given more media attention during his short visit than in the past five years), we humbly beg the Holy Father to usher in true Catholic restoration by staying in Rome and governing the Church from now on. Benedict did more for souls, Catholic identity, and world peace on July 7, 2007, than all the inter-religious meetings and papal globetrotting combined. And it was Summorum Pontificum, let’s not forget, that earned him the wrath of the world.

Before he left the Holy Land and after he’d been ridiculed in the press for not apologizing quite profusely enough for his youth, the “crimes” of his Church and the sheer dunderheadedness of his predecessors, the Holy Father delivered a sermon on his final day in the Holy Land which justified the hope faithful Catholics throughout the world have in him:

Following in the footsteps of the Apostle, I wish to proclaim anew, to the men and women of our time, the Church’s firm faith that Jesus Christ “was crucified, died and was buried”, and that “on the third day he rose from the dead”. Exalted at the right hand of the Father, he has sent us his Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Apart from him, whom God has made Lord and Christ, “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Standing in this holy place, and pondering that wondrous event, how can we not be “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), like those who first heard Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost? 

Here Christ died and rose, never to die again. Here the history of humanity was decisively changed. The long reign of sin and death was shattered by the triumph of obedience and life; the wood of the Cross lay bare the truth about good and evil; God’s judgment was passed on this world and the grace of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon humanity. Here Christ, the new Adam, taught us that evil never has the last word, that love is stronger than death, that our future, and the future of all humanity, lies in the hands of a faithful and provident God.

Pray earnestly for Pope Benedict. Is he conflicted to some extent?  It would seem so, as are we all. But powerful forces inside the Vatican and out are directing their considerable energies to the refashioning of the Holy Father in the spirit of the age. They’re even editing his teachings in order to make them less controversial. It would seem they’ve had enough of his Tradition-friendly reforms and, in the wake of the “last straw”— the Williamson affair—are doing all in their power to stop him from taking even one more step in the direction of Tradition.

Faithful Catholics must not bury their heads in the sand. The Church in the modern world does not need a rock star in Peter’s chair. She needs a priest, a holy man, perhaps even a martyr if there is to be any hope of true restoration.

The Holy Father is not a young man. We must pray that he resists the wolves that surround him, that he stays in Rome, that he governs his Church, and that at long last he recognizes the tragic—but increasingly obvious!—failure of the Second Vatican Council to usher in a new springtime for the Church and “contemporary man.”  

What happened this day at Notre Dame proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the springtime of Vatican II has never materialized, and that the papal hope for such a springtime was perhaps the most inexplicable delusion in human history. Darkness has covered the earth and winter’s frozen embrace paralyzes the Church—in America and throughout the whole world.

God save the Pope.