The church in turmoil
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, in the relatively brief period of a decade, has totally changed its public liturgy, its education of priests and its pastoral organisation. It has even more significantly altered its theological understanding of itself.
Such rapid change obviously has deep roots which went almost unnoticed in the discontented past when the Church officially approved of the myth of its own inviolability, its own sacred links with the Middle Ages and its own capability of avoiding the changing structures, classes and ideologies of history. Indeed the reforms of the post Vatican II period were a late, desperate resp~nse to problems of manpower, mass urban apostacy and cultural irrelevance to city life which had afflicted the Church during this century. The theology which gave expression to this late response, was the theology which had been consistently repressed and discouraged in the Church for at least seventy years.
The immediate reaction of the Church to the development of modern thought was the "Syllabus of Errors" issued by Pius IX in 1864. This document condemned any intrusion of liberalism, socialism, modernism, science and Protestantism into Catholic Theology. The attitude of Pius IX was that the Church did not need to respond to the world and all that needed to be done was that St. Thomas Aquinas be revamped and that Neo-Scholasticism be made the official theology. Such attitudes were canonised by the first Vatican Council.
Triumph of Pius IX
In 1870 at the Council Pius IX saw the triumph of. his views. All sections were in a militant, reactionary mood. Bish~ps from the -U.S.A. representing growing, immigrant Catholic communities which were aggressive about their religious distinctions, missionary Bishops and conservative European prelates aligned to assert the doctrine of Papal infallibility. It was a triumph for conservatives. But more importantly, apart from re-affirming a Doctrine, the Council gave the Roman Curia a whip hand in dealing with the Church. From 1870 the Curia rapidly set about transforming a loosely linked group of national Churches into a bureaucratic, centralised, organisation. The clerical Italian aristocracy dominated all the chief activities such as missions, finance, episcopal appointment and diplomacy. This process was sanctified by the Dogma of Infallibility. And one of the main functions of the Curia became the purging of dissenting Catholics.
Although this period was one of mass apostacy the Church showed no evidence of concern about it. Recent sociological studies have pointed out that the period of greatest decline in allegiance to the Church was at the beginning of this century when industrialisation was beginning to spread all over Europe. Despite this the Curia ignored the growing apostacy and instead concentrated on those new movements within the church which sought to grapple with the problem in a relevant manner.
The new movement was largely concentrated in Western Europe and its adherents became known as the Modernists. Briefly their view was that the church's role was not simply to safeguard a "deposit of faith" but to explain and develop the church's doctrines in the context of changing times and contexts (in general their teachings were adopted by Vatican II).
The most significant field of enquiry by the Modernists was in Biblical Studies. Men such as Loisy developed new scientific interpretations of the Bible. They compared it with documents of the period and showed how various trends and cultures were reflected in the Old Testament works. They inaugurated the study known as source and form criticism of the Bible.
This tradition was severely at variance with the orthodox church teaching expressed by Leo XII in Aeterni Patris in 1879. In an especially illuminating passage in that encyclical Leo stated the traditional view on how the bible was written-"for'by supernatural power He (the Holy Ghost) so moved and impelled them (the bible's authors) to write. He so assisted them when writing that the things which he ordered 'and those only, they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write them down and finally expressed in apt words;' and with infallible truth".
The Purge begins
W,ith the election of Pius X in 1903 a determined push against Catholic Modernists began. A widespread purge directed by the curia was begun in 1903 when a list of several hundred suspects was drawn up. In the same year the works of Loisy were all placed on the Index and condemned as heretical. Intellectuals all over Europe were systematically rooted out of their university posts and given the choice of falling into line or of losing their livelihood. Tyrrell, another leading Modernist was dismissed from his university post, Murro, founder of the Christian Democnits in Italy, was suspended from the priesthood. The influential Catholic theological journal ReformKatholismus was suppressed in Germany, the faculty of theology in Tubingen was repressed, Le Roy, Von Hugel and Murrochi were all disciplined. For a period the two great Catholic. Liberal thinkers, Cardinal Newman and Blondel were widely thought to have been condemned and many seminaries officially proscribed their works. By 1910 the earliest advocates of Catholic concession to developments in modern thought had been effectively driven out of the Church. On September I 1910 an Oath against Modernism was made an official part of the ordination ceremony for all Catholic priests.
A reaction to evolutionary and historical notions developed among Church intellectuals. Seminaries all over Europe placed a simple form of Neo-Thomism at the centre of their curricula. The accent in theology fell back on apologetics rather than on speculative theology. Even within Thomism itself suspicion fell on thinkers who attempted to update St. Thomas' Cosmology or who attempted to relate Thomas' teaching on
Grace to any form of evolution. To an extent this reaction was closely allied with the beginnings of the fascist movements in Europe. In Italy a society of Royalist, anti-Modernist priests-Sodalitum Pianum-acted as a watchdog for the Curia over any suspected intellectual in the Church. It was led by a highly conservative and reactionary priest Monsignor Benignus. In France the anti-Modernist movement became closely allied with Action Francaise a reactionary rural organisation which used Mediaeval Catholicism as its ideological ideal.
The early part of the reign of Pius X was a crucial period in the Church's history. A huge section of the European clerical intelligentsia was influenced by intellectual developments outside the Church. They were, however, easily extirpated by the Curia. This movement had little or no popular basis among the large mass of Catholics. Also the Modernists were highly vulnerable because they depended to a very large degree on the huge, hierarchically controlled, Catholic seminary and university system. Furthermore the Modernists unlike modern intellectuals did not have access to a popular publishing press and their works when deprived of Catholic Imprimaturs were effectively quashed. In this way the development of theology was stopped in the Church. The Catholic Encyclopaedia sums this up "only after World War II did a trend emerge towards a renewed consideration of subjects that had been so destructively and abortively handled, the exaggerated spread of suspicion that followed the condemnation of the Modernists probably caused this."
Alliance of peasantry and intellectuals
The destruction of progressive Catholic thought was linked with the Church's last effort to retain the trappings of a simple rural society. The Church not only placed all its cards on St. Thomas Aquinas but on rural Europe. Pope Pius X began a concerted drive to make the Church the conscious alliance of backward intellectuals and of the conservative European peasantry. Alongside the rehabilitation of the Neo-Scholastics popular Catholicism was radically altered. Pius X encouraged a whole series of peasant pieties such as the Communion on First Fridays, the Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the adulation of the Virgin Mary. The Cure of Ars was officially approved as the ideal Catholic. He was a rural, simple, almost illiterate, superstitious country priest who exemplified loyal holiness and loyal anti-intellectualism.
Under Pius X and Pius XI the Church signed its popular death warrant. It devoted all of its energy to keeping the dwindling rural population of Europe fervently loyal. Countries such as Ireland and Spain became pivotal Catholic nations. Missionaries were encouraged in hundreds from these and Catholicism spread almost as rapidly as colonial organisation in Africa. These countries were constantly praised by the Holy See, their prelates became second only to the Italian Hierarchy in status and importance. Nations like Ireland were characteristically anti-intellectual. The Modernist crisis which determined the nature of modern Catholicism passed over them and the purge of Europe's intellectuals excited little theological comment.
In the rest of Europe, however, despite the short term success of the new reactionary Catholicism the long term effects were disastrous. The Church aligned itself with all reactionary political movements. In Spain under Pius XI it lost the loyalty of the whole Spanish proletariat when it supported the peasant army of Franco which was financed and led by the Fascist powers of Germany and Italy. In France the proletariat which was already largely estranged from Catholicism finally lost all loyalty. After the Great War the urban parochial system in France collapsed. Most working class parishes had no clergy while wealthy rural aristocrats employed over 1,000 priests as chaplains. Most of the Hierarchy tacitly approved of Action Francaise, the rural anti-Communist fascist party, even after it had been mildly condemned on theological grounds by Pius. When the popular front government was set up in France by Socialists and Communists in 1936 to stem the galloping tide of fascism the rank hostility of the Catholic Church ensured the working class's final alienation.
In Italy the Church wholeheartedly backed Mussolini's destruction of the 'trade union movement. Mussolini came to power on armed bands of dispossessed soldier-farmers. At no time did he manage to reconcile the working class in Northern Italy and the Vatican's Concordat' with him in 1926 lost the Church the support of the workers. The Concordat recognised the Vatican city state, awarded the Vatican several million pounds indemnity for the loss of the Papal States, and forbade divorce and state marriage. In return the Vatican allowed fascism to be thought in its schools and allowed Religious education to tailor in with Mussolini's view of the historic role of the Roman Empire.
In Germany the Church also lost the allegiance of the urban working classes. Prior to the victory of Hitler they had been violently anti-fascist. The Church, however, had approved of the rise of Hitler. In 1933 Pius XI entered into formal mutual recognition even though they split a year later when Hitler began an antiChristian campaign in the schools. After reaching power Hitler was even more effective in undermining Catholicism. He subsumed the working class into a gigantic educational, recreational and youth machine. All Germany's youth was thought to look back to the ancient Germanic Pagan Gods and to suspect the "weak pity ethic of Christianity".
The 1930's marked a crucial and final loss of the cities for the Catholic Church in Europe. The Church became increasingly dependent on the diminishing rural clases. Intellectually the Church stagnated and as well as losing most of the working class it became the laughing stock of Europe's intelligentsia. The intelligentsia became attracted to the two polar forces of Marxism and Fascism. In the 1930's the sciences of anthropology, sociology, biology and genetics became highly positivist and empiricist. Scientists believed religious claims were not warranted by the data which was their sole goal and justification. The only alternative to the dominant positivists was fascism or marxism. Marxism concentrated on physics, genetics, economics and mass psychology. In these fields it offered opposition to popular scientific notions of the corporate State, of the genetically planned man and the ammoral role of research in the field of pure science.
Regurgitation of St. Thomas
The Church merely regurgitated St. Thomas. Popes Pius XI and Pius' XII attacked all new notions of science but only offered the Thomastic view of evaluating data as an alternative to the atheitic scientists. Maritain, the French Thomist was probably the leading Catholic thinker but li\e excited little general interest and his answer t.o modern thought was merely the sophistication and exculpation of Scholasticism.
Even in the field of theology became almost totally preoccupied with the philosophical defence of Catholic Scholasticism. Only in the field of liturgy was there any progress in Catholic thought, and men such as the Abbe of Bec who courageously experimented in Liturgical history fell under constant suspicion. The only spark in the 1930's were the radical new developments in Protestant theology. Many Protestant thinkers of the 1930's and 1940's were to provide the basis for a new departure in Catholic thinking in the 1950's. At the beginning of the century Albert Schwietzer clearly put the essential problem of interpreting the Bible in the context of eschatology. He pointed out that the New Testament is written in the certain expectation of the rapid consummation of all time by the Second Coming of Christ. All Biblical sayings are interposed into this theology of early fulfillment. The search for the essential sayings of Jesus needed a severe pruning in the theological rationalisations attributed to him, Three new schools of Protestant Theology developed out of such new interpretations of the Bible.
A brilliant Swiss theologian. Karl Barth, re-interpreted traditional Calvinist theology of Justification by the Grace Of Christ in the context of a re-evaluated New Testament. Barth stressed man and God's intimate relationship with each other. In attacking fascism he pointed out that the New Testament was profoundly hostile to any spurious secular saviour such as Hitler. A non-confessing Lutheran Church co-alesced around the theology of Karl Barth in Germany.
Thus Protestantism helped Christianity in the black 1930's. The thinking of the courageous Protestant thinker Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not influential in the I<no's but the lessons he learned in Hitlers concentration camps have deeply influenced all Christian thought since the end of the war. Bonhoeffer saw how deeply compromised were the Churches by the evil of Nazism. He then saw that one could not draw a distinction between the "sacred" religious sphere and the "profane" political world. The pro-fascist pastors were doing what they could for "religious" reasons. In 'relation to this Bonhoeffer formulated the theologv of Secular Christianity. This theology sawall people pagan and Christian as oartakers in Divine History and as sharing in Gods Grace. Secular theology was orofoundly hostile to any view of Christianity as "Church defined". His secular theology was to influence Karl Rahner, S, T. very deeoly after the war. Rahner formulated the theologv of the anonymous Christian who did God's will even though he was not a conscious disciole of J ~sus. This theology in turn influenced the Vatican Council's thinking on the Church in the World and encouraged the Council Fathers to seek rapprochment both with secular organisations, such as the atheist State, and with secular media such as television and the cinema.
low Ebb for Catholicism
When the Second World War broke out Catholicism was at its lowest ebb for many centuries. Its parochial organisation all over Europe had broken down. It had lost the respect of Europe's intelligentsia and because of sheer neglect and political alienation it had also lost most of the working classes. The Church did not however suffer from any confusion or guilt about its position in Europe. During the 1930's vocations reached an all time peak. Unemployment was very high all over Europe after the Crash and 1000'S of young men joined the Church rather than the fascist militia. Both organisations were a ready source of employment for young, rural males. Vocations in the 1930's were three times their present rate all over Europe. Vocations in France especially reached a huge peak. Several 1,000 males were ordained every year and French missionary endeavour thrived. The missions expanded rapidly in the 1930's. Dutch and Irish missionaries extended the field of their activity. Most French colonies and the less developed British colonies experienced a rapid growth in baptisms. The Irish missions in Nigeria, under the influence of Bishop Quigley, prospered and as well as bringing the Faith to several hundred thousand Nigerians brought much needed social services.
Above all this activity the formidable person of Pius XII presided. Pius XII was an Italian aristocrat. He was essentially a Curia man and exerted a great deal of energy systematising and bringing all missionary and devotional activity under central Italian control. Under Pius XII the canonisation of saints was a highly organised industry and the development of missions was a constant theme in Curia propaganda.
The Church reached its most arrogant and self confident pinnacle in this period. The Pope's claims based on Canon Law to exemption from State control reached almost as far as did the Mediaeval claims of Boniface VIII. In the theological void of the pre-war period Church Canonists refined to a new level the ancient Decretals and Bulls of the Papacy which. placed the Pope above all temporal rulers. The Canonical Code they built up gave a juridical basis to the authoritarian claims of the Papacy in the fields of taxation, education and military service.
After the Second World war the Church lost further ground in Europe. Communism spread rapidly among the European working classes. This success in Western Euroge was due,
primarily to the Communists resistance to fascism during the War in countrie~ such as Italy and France. Their success however consolidated vestigal hostility to Catholicism among the workers. In Eastern Europe Communism was imposed by the Russian State in most countries and the Church rapidly lost all its' enormous wealth in land and its stranglehold on the mass media. In both halves of Europe industrialisation became greater. In Western Europe, the Church dominated rural "areas were eaten away as U.S. capital built up Europe's industries. In Eastern Europe the process was even more rapid. Countries such as East Germany, Yugoslavia and Poland developed predominantly urban economies. This changeover, which would have affected the Church adversely in any circumstances, almost destroyed it. In every Eastern country industrialisation was accompanied by intensive educational programmes which were hostile to the Church's religious claims.
Cold War Crusade
For the first time the Church became aware of a threat to itself from the modern world. But Pius XII interpreted this primarily as a threat from international Communism. He threw the full weight and prestige of the Papacy behind the anti-Communist campaign of the U.S. in Europe. In successive Italian elections the Pope declared it was a mortal sin to vote Communist. All over North America the Curia approved of a bitter and virulent Cold -War crusade. It utilised the jailing of three Cardinals in Eastern Europe; Mindszenty, Stepinac, and Wyzyncski to start a new martyrology. This was a gloomy period for the Church. It became, dimly aware of growing apostacy but it interpreted this as a Communist plot and saw the cure as the destruction of Communism rather than as a new response to new problems.
There were signs however of a new beginning for Catholicism. Catholic intellectuals all over Europe were deeply involved in the secular educational system. These intellectuals showed a new independence from Curial dictates. Such men as the brilliant Jesuit Karl Rahner developed new theological positions on such problems as monogenism (whether our primordial ancestor was one man or whether we are descended from a species of anthropoid (polygenism), concupiscence (the source of mans natural carnal lust and sinfulness, and death (the relation between the body and soul).
Apart from Rahner's speculations many theologians developed new lines of thought on the consciousness of Christ. Traditionally Catholic Doctrine saw Christ as self-consciously Man and God. Biblical scholars pointed out that Christ had the beliefs and consciousness of a Palestinian Jew and did not have special extrahistorical knowledge. Such scholars also pointed out that in the Synoptic Gospels (the three early Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke) Jesus was not conscious of himself as God and only as the early Church understood the significance of Jesus does he appear as consciously God in the Gospel of St. John.
Catholic scholars such as Fr. Vaux, depended increasingly on the theological research of Protestant scholars such as Bultmann and Dodd, who were less repressed in their speculations and research and had developed a startling new understanding of the New Testament. Eventually Catholic scholars such as Mackenzie were to outstrip the Protestants in their ability to link metaphysical problems to modern Biblical scholarship but at this period their function was merely one of interpreting Protestant scholarship for Catholics. Men such as Rahner, Teilhard de Chardin and Henri de Lubac, S.l. became increasingly insistent that an understanding of the modern sciences meant that Catholic Doctrine would have to change.
Go Ahead for Liturgists
This re-awakening fell on deaf ears in the Vatican. Pius xIt expressly banned theological investigations in the problem of monogenism in Humani Generis in 1950 when he misquoted Adam in Genesis to prove Ithat we had only one ancestor. Only in the field of Biblical research and liturgy was Pius less than repressive. He allowed Biblical scholars to work. with Protestants Qn joint research projects on the linguistic framework of the New Testament but he did not allow them publish their findings which percolated to Catholic scholars' only through Protestant publications. In Liturgy, Pius gave the stamp of personal approval to the French and German liturgists such as Frs. Dix and Jungmann who had done extensive research on the development of the Latin and Byzantine liturgies. In 1955 he incorporated some of their findings into the Roman liturgy in a new Roman rite for Easter Week. Pius brought back the ancient third century ceremony of the Paschal Vigil with its rich Baptismal and Resurrectional symbolism of new life.
However in general the Church remained staunchly conservative, The ecumenical movement was expressly barred from Catholics by Pius XII. The World Council of Churches was snubbed by Rome. Ecumenical studies on joint doctrinal problems were abolished and the exciting findings of the Council's Faith and Order Commission which found that most interdenominational differences were mainly a matter of semantics, were ignored.
However, the Church gradually emerged from the Cold War period. It became increasingly aware that the problems facing it were universal rather than Eastern. Pills XII was profoundly disturbed personally by the painful process of decolonisation. He became aware that certain minimal changes and reforms were necessary. Pius was prepared, for instance, to adopt a minimum of the vernacular in the Mass and to allow new forms of priestly ministry such as the Worker Priest. He remained however a deeply-rooted conservative and never managed to stop the Curia usurping Papal authority in running Pope Paul VI with Cardinal Ottaviani the Church. In the 1950'S the works of such men as Teilhard de Chardin were all banned by the Holy Office. The worker priest experiment was destroyed by the Congregation for the Priesthood with the connivance of rabidly conservative French Bishops who disliked the worker priests' contacts with the Communist trade unions.
But the changes of the Vatican Council were abeyed for only a matter of time. Before Pius' death he had begun tentative preparations for an ecumenical Council he envisaged taking place in the 1970's. To counter act the stifling influence of the Italian nobility who dominated the Curia Pius set up an inner cabinet to the Papacy. This inner cabinet ensured that the Curia did not hinder the Pope's work by suppressing documentation and information, It was used on the death of Pius by his successor John XXIII to effectively by-pass the Curia and to speed up preparations for the Council.
This continued intellectual ferment and strife in the Church was hardly noticed by the laity. Many of them just left the Church and others were never taught to think of such things. Whenever a theologian was disciplined they merely thought it was the age old process of heretics and schismatics drifting from the narrow path. The liberal theologians survived by couching their ideas in complex jargon which made their writings indistinguishable from the old theology, and by the consequent failure of the episcopal censor to understand what they were saying.
The Caretaker Pope
With the advent of John as caretaker Pope in 1958 the hopes of progressive Churchmen fell. He was chosen because the Cardinals could not agree on any alternative and completely disagreed on the right kind of Pope to lead the Church. He had a record of service in the Papal Diplomatic Corps which did not encourage the liberal bishops but he was not firmly aligned to the Curia as was Tardini who was popularly expected to be elected. When John was Legate in Paris in 1946 he managed to stop 19 Bishops being expelled from their Sees for compromising the Church by collaborating with the Nazis. But in fact, Pope John proved to be a providential figure in the history of the church. He utili sed the special cabinet set up by Pius XII to by-pass the Curia, and he railroaded through preparations for the Council. Pope John played a crucial role.in the first session of the Council. He openly showed preference for the company of progressive oishops and on many occasions intervened to stop the Curia from interrupting the proceedings. He followed the whole session on closed circuit television and he visited bishops each day of whose speeches he approved.
The preponderant portion of the Bishops at the beginning of the Council was conservative but gradually the patient work of the attendant theologians and of the Popes John and Paul, won many of the Bishops t>ver to progressive viewpoints. The National hierarchies who brought a number of theological advisors changed their positions very rapidly. The most significant hierarchy in the Council was the Ar.1erican one. At the beginning of the Council U.S. bishops exhibited a pragmatic conservatism, they were flexible on pas Four of the influential Council of Fathers: Cardinals Sea. Suenens, Agagianianand Doctoral and practical matters but were theologically and politically reactionary. Thdr theological viewpoint changed due to several trauma'tic confrontations they had with the Curia. When they tried to push their favourite idea of Religious Liberty during the Third Session they were really shocked when the Curial Bishops objected to this notion, and were genuinely angered when the Vatican seemed to wilt under pressure from the Portuguese and Spanish governments to have this section thrown out. They were embarrassed when the U.S. press back home treated this Curial intrigue with scorn 'and said that this discredited the case for State Aid for Catholic schools. The U.S. Bishops won a great victory on this issue. The victory persuaded them to join the 'progressive camp' and they brought with them, the British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Philippine hierarchies. This had a large effect on the voting on nearly all the schemas of the Council in the Fourth Session.
Generally Bishops were disabused of the notion of Curial infallibility when their work on committees was constantly interrupted by' Curial dignatories 'losing' documents, and when their speeches were interrupted by the Curia's skilful use of procedure. Many Bishops were pressurised by the press into taking a falsely radical position during the Council. By the Third and Fourth Session hundreds of pressmen had arrived. They were almost uniformly on the side of the progressives since they made better news and leaked stories to the press about the Curia's behaviour. Bishops such as Cardinal Heenan, found it expedient to adopt a more liberal position 'than they would have preferred
The result of the great debate was a victory for the liberal bishops. Schemas on Liturgy, Ecumenism, the Church in the Modern World, Revelation, etc. made progress in some areas binding on all Bishops. The Council set up Committees of Bishops to implement all the decrees. These were dominated numerically and intellectually by the same liberal Bishops who dominated the Council, For instance Lercaro chaired the Committee on Liturgy, Bea chaired one on ecumenism and Koenig chaired the Committee on Non-Believers. Thus, after the Council, the Curia could not obstruct the implementation and extension of the Council decrees.
But the most significant achievement of the Council was the freedom it gave national churches to develop autonomously and furthermore' it made provision for National Hierarchical Committees which were to run the internal affairs of each national Church. Previously in countries such as Holland the Bishops had met very rarely (indeed Ireland was one of the few countries to have a Conference of Bishops prior to the Council).
The effects of the Council throughout the Catholic world have differed from continent to continent, and indeed from country to country. This illustrates the major characteristic of post-Conciliar Church: the newfound independence of its component parts.
In Latin America the Council has had most effect in opening the door to radical .political involvement for large numbers of religious. In the United States the inability of the Church to provide any real under'standing of the social disintegration of American society in the 60S is indicative of the conservative bias of the American hierarchy. In both Africa and Asia the Church has not made the necessary concessions to the cultural world of the natives, which it could have done with a more dynamic interpretation of the teachings of the Council. In the Communist countries there has been a slight thaw in relations - perhaps facilitated by the recognition that in contrast to the rest of the world vocations are rising in certain areas of the Communist world. In Western Europe, while liturgical and theological reform has proceeded apace, there is little evidence that a largely deChristianized laity has been at all roused.
The traditional feudal hierarchical order of the Church for the first time has been radically challenged, and the immediate consequence is a Church more violently torn apart than in any other age. It is inevitable that ,in such a period of dissension the ruling pontiff should encounter unparalleled hostility. Pope Paul has had to attempt to hold inviolate the essential truths of Christianity whilst endeavouring to placate the conservatives and appease the liberals. The task was a difficult one, and it seems (see page 48)-oIie that proved beyond him. Paul VI is fond of th~ novels of surrealist writers such as Franz Kafka. It is said that he believes that Kafka's vision of reality is a true mirror of present day society. As he surveys the scattered frag,ments of a opce monolithic empire it must ind~ed seem to' him that Kafka's nightmare reality is not far from his own.
Paul has been at the centre of the three major instances of open dissent within tQe Church since the Council. At the beginning of April 1967 he issued hIs controversial encydil.al on world poverty, Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples). In this he attacked many of the evil ramifications of world capitalism such as unfair trade prices which benefit the imperialist countries, and the continued failure of these countries to improve the living standards of the peoples of the underdeveloped countries. The Pope condemned quite stridently "a system. . . which considers profit as the key motive for economic progress, competition as the supreme law of economics and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right that has no limits and carries no corresponding social obligation".
This Encyclical (unlike Humanae Vitae) was written by Pope Paul himself. He had been pressurised by many South American and African bishops to speak out clearly against the capitalist economic system. However the reaction of the U.S., many Asian and most European hierarchies was one of horror. The French hierarchy was appalled when the Communist daily L'Humanite enthusiastically endorsed the encyclical and merely regretted that it was a century or so late. U.S. bishops and some other conservative bishops immediately began to urge Paul to relinquish his stand. The price they exacted for their endorsement of 1968's Humanitae Vitae was that Paul publically support the effects of U.S. capitalism on his trip to Columbia in 1968. Speaking to two hundred thousand peasants in Columbia the Pope said: "Your condition as humble folk is more propitious for the kingdom of heaven, if it borne with the patience and hope of Christ." It was the same old message but its effects were minimal.
Indeed in the last few years the Church in Latin America, being inspired both by the Council and the Pope's Encyclical, has made a dramatic and meaningful response to the problems facing the underdeveloped countries and their people. In no country is this better exemplified than in Brazil. The world's largest Catholic country, with 90 million people, the Church in Brazil has snapped out of a long period of political apathy to become the strongest threat to the established government. The changes in the political attitude of the Church even the last five years are remarkable.
In 1964, reactionary priests organised the family march for God and Freedom of Joao Goulart. Within the past year another military coup brought Costa e Silva to power and this regime is now lead by President GarrastazuMedici. This government has pursued a violently anti-clericalist campaign-largely because of the church's unyielding support for a rural literacy drive which was opposed by the government. This has provoked increased militancy on the part of the clergy and within the past six months 1,500 of Brazil's 13,000 priests have committed themselves to the policy that only force can achieve the desired end the liberation of the mass of the people.
Archbishop Helder Camara of Olinda and Recife has become identified as the voice of the radical priests, ever since he opposed President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress in 1963. Last May his assistant, Fr. Henrique Pereira Neto was found hanging from a tree riddled with bullets and with his throat cut. Camara claims that he himself is on the terrorists' list. Certainly for us in the west the vigour of his statements is remarkable (e.g. "It seems to me that the memory of Camilo Torres and Che Guevara merit every bit as much respect as Martin Luther.")
There is every evidence that the Government's campaign against the clergy is gathering momentum. The Mother Superior of an Orphanage at Riberac Preto in the state of Sao Paola, Mother Maurina Borges de Silveira was recently one of five political prisoners released in exchange for a kidnapped Japanese official. She revealed at a news conference in Mexico City how she had been tortured by electric shocks and severely beaten up. A Brazilian Government official has described the Church's stance thus: "I don't see how, we can bring the young priests into any dialogue. They have swallowed Castro hook line and sinker. A large number are committed to a Castro type revolution."
After veteran Marxist guerrilla leader Carlos Marighela had been shot dead in Sao Paola last November it emerged that nine of the 21 members of Marighela's group who were arrested afterwards were Dominicans. The radical integration of. Christianity and Communism was expressed by one of them, Frei Chico in an interview. "Socialism is the sole route for us Christians. We should not be afraid of Communism. The Church has to give up being the opium of the people. It has to preach economic, social and cultural revolution which would begin the socialization of the means of llroduction."
Reliable sources estimate that between one hundred and five hundred religious 'are incarcerated in Brazil, most accused of subversion. Brazil, while being the most outstanding example of the extraordinary rapproachment between Christianity and Marxism is by no means exceptional in Latin America. Throughout the continent progressive factions have emerged among 'the clergy in almost all countries - Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay and Columbia (this latter was where' the late Fr. Camilo Torres was killed by the C.I.A. in 1966 when leading a guerilla band-clergymen who are prepared at all times to champion the cause of' the oppressed and where necessary' to approve of armed struggle.
It is clear that the church in Latin America is a radically different church from the one we know in the advanced capitalist countries. This was best illustrated during last June's interAmerican Bishops conference held in Venezuela which brought together representatives from both North and South America. Reports of the Conference at all times stressed that one commentator called a "thought gap" between the two delegations. Numerous representatives of the Latins (e.g. Cardinal Eungino de Arauja Sales ,of Salvador) pointed out that the U.S.'s development was founded upon Latin America's underdevelopment. The U.S. delegation however, chose to ignore the Latin case. As Archbishop Krol of Philadelphia put it: "Christ gave his church no special mission in a socioeconomic or political order." This sort of attitude blunted the edge of every radical resolution that the Latins wished to introduce (e.g. a call to the U.S. to end the economic blockade of Cuba; a call for a cut back on U.S. missioners in Latin American on the grounds that they impeded in great part a search for native solutions; and Ii call on the Pope to withdraw the one million dollar donation to start a Latin America loan fund on the grounds that it would follow the road of all aid to Latin America pro ping up corrupt and undemocratic regimes and thus leaving the country rife for exploitation). When the final compromise document was read out,
"A spontaneous outburst of embarrassed laughter arose from the U.S. bishops" according to press sources. Politically the hierarchies of both continents were so far. apart that it was hard to believe that they shared a common creed.
The Humanae Vitae dispute caused the most open split in the church the second major split since the Council. Rarely has the Pope's authority been held up to more ridicule than in connection with it. It caused an especially acute crisis in the U.S. and European church where most of the remaining faithful were middle class and had managed to persuade themselves that the Pill was acceptable to catholics. In the Third World the hierarchies were not greatly interested in Humanae Vitae. At first sight this seems surprising but in point of fact only the urban rich and the richer kulak class of peasantry would have knowledge of, and thus be able to benefit from, birth control facilities in these parts of the world. Thus the poorer peasantry who could conceivably benefit from a wider use of contraceptives were not in a position to do so. This realisation caused the churchmen of, these continents to remain quiet after the encyclical was issued.
But in Europe and the U.S. the situation was far different. The Council had loosened the bonds between the Vatican and the respective national hierarchies, and this first test of the latter's new found independence revealed a church radically divided. Most church intellectuals utili sed the new found intellectual freedom openly to criticise the encyclical. Drs. Haring, Kung, Chenu and Davis were only a few of the theologians who dissented. Of course the rapacious mass media made great capital out of the controversy: the sight of leading intellectuals disagree-,
ing with the Supreme Pontif in public on such :i delicate matter was a new experience in a formerly rigidly structured church and one not to be missed.
European Hierarchies thus could 'not defend Humanae Vitae when all their academic colleagues were attacking it and their flocks were being fed on the mas media diet of unwaving dissent and incredulity at both Humanae Vitae and Papal Authority itself. In the circumstances what happened was that the h}erarchies of the predominantly Catholic European countries (Italy, Spain, France and Ireland) were defensive of the Encyclical or at any rate covered the real position with theological abstractions, while the hierarchies in the mixed Christian communities of Holland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, when not openly disagreeing, at least allowed their laity freedom to exercise their own conscience in the matter. It seems clear that the spirit of ecumenism prevalent since the council had much to do with the decisions of the latter group of national hierarchies. Statements in favour of the Pope's ruling would not have gone down well with the Protestant ,communities, and would have done much to frost over the warmer intercommunal relations that had been developing prior to the Encyclical.
Whilst the number of priests has declined in general since the Council -since 1965, 21,000 priests have left the priesthood, representing some 5 per cent of the number of priests extant at the time of the Council'the defections in the' U.S. Church have accelerated alarmingly since Humanae Vita encyclical. In the year immediately following upon the; issuance of the encyclical 5,000 American priests and religious have defected. With the almost world-wide phenomenon of falling vocations already creating a serious manpower problem this latest crisis has hit hard. The U,S. hierarchy exacerbated the situation by their rigid acceptance of the Pope's teaching. Cushing, Cody, McIntyre,' Krol, Boyle et al stood squarely behind Paul. There being no room for the Church. The most notable among these was Bishop James P. Shannon of St. Paul, a son Qf Irish immigrants and the only American bishop ever to resign in his prime. He ,resigned because, as he told the press, he had agonised over and been finally forced to disagree with that part of the Pope's encyclical that went: "Each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission, of life."
Birth control had long been accepted and practised by the vast majority of American Catholics and the traditional attitude re-affirmed by the Pope must have come as a grave shock to many of the faithful (both lay and religious). But in fact there is evidence that apathy in the U.S. with regard to the Church is not just a direct consequence of the Humanae Vitae ruling. A.. recent survey of a New England diocese showed that 43 per cent of the Catholics interviewed had never heard of the Vatican Council!
The Birth Control controversy was the first since the Council to attract the wide attention of the laity in ,Western Europe and the U.S. It came as a severe shock to many orthodox Catholics to see prominent ecclesiastics arguing and publicly disagreeing over an issue which is a central one in people's lives. If the Church was to lose its traditional infallibility-and for many of the laity the dissension over Human3e Vitae seemed to point to this-where were the laity to look for guidance. Clearly the major effect was that most people ignored the authority of the Church and made up their own minds.
Papal Authority was thus severely undermined by the crisis. Theological criticism of the encyclical was well founded, and the present Pope's stature as the leader of the World Catholic community was decisively reduced. What is surprising is that the Pope need not have produced such a controversial document. Personal characteristics alone can explain its anomolous publication. The net result of the Humanae Vitae dispute was that the process of devolving responsibility democratically throughout the Church was expedited, in that for the first time certain national hierarchies decided to disobey the dictates of Rome, and toplace priority on the needs of their laity.
The Celibacy Issue
Paul's encyclical "Sacerdotalis' Coelibatus" (1967) has, following upon only a mildly critical reception in the early stages, caused the most recent (and arguably the most severe) crisis for'the Church and its ruler. The encyclical was roundly rejected by the Dutch Church when first it appeared: the Dutch hierarchy in their briefing of their clergy openly derided the Pope's theological arguments on the matter. The Dutch Church has in practise ignored the Pope's ruling, in that tacit permission has been granted to over a hundred priests who have got married since the encyclical to continue ministering. In parts of the U.S.A., Australia and in European countries such as Belgium and Austria-while the hierarchies have not allowed married people to be ordained, the Dutch practise has been followed. Surveys of clerical attitudes in Holland, Italy, Canada, Belgium, Britain, Australia, Switzerland, the U.S.A. and many other countries show that most priests favour a revocation of the ban.
Holl,nd in dissent. The range of its postConciliar experimentation had already attracted wide-spread attention from the mass media. Such liturgical innovations as beat music in the mass, and the doctrinally challenging Dutch Catechism were but a prelude to the more recent and serious crisis. The Dutch Pastoral Council -founded in 1966 to democratise the Church, and made up of both lay and religious-had been pressing for several years for a change in the Church ruling on celibacy. As recently as Christmas Eve last the Pope attempted publicly to draw the Dutch hierarchy into an open defence of the Church's traditional attitude towards priestly celibacy. Prior to the Pastoral Council meeting at Noordwijkerhout in January last the Pope communicated privately with the Dutch hierarchy in a last desperate endeavour to block what he called a "danger in deviation". His attempts were not successful. The Pastoral Council passed the recommendation calling for an end to priestly celibacy by 90 votes to 6. Cardinal Alfrinkleader of th,e Dutch hierarchy-and the other bishops abstained from the vote, in deference to the Pope's wishes. But there can be no doubt of the hierarchy's leanings in the qucstion, The Cardinal for instancc made it quite plain at that he regarded the representative of the Dutch Catholics.
Dissent in Holland
The significance of the split cannot be underestimated. The absence of Monsignor Angelo Melici, the Papal Nuncio in Holland, from the Noordwijkerhout meeting, on the Pope's express orders merely underlines the point. This is the first time that a representative body of an entire national church within the Roman Catholic fold has expressed such strong feelings of. dissent. It seems certain that the Vatican's reaffirmation of its ban on joint participation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist by Protestants and Catholics-just a few days after the Noordwijkerhout decision-was aimed specifically at the Dutch Church. The Dutch hierarchy replied by openly defying Rome and coming out in positive support of the Pastoral Council decision. Rome'
Ihas responded by adopting a more intransigent attitude than heretofore. The Pope's demandthat all priestsI make a public renewal of their vows,I including those of celibacy, on every Holy Thursday was meant to bring dissenting religious into line. How authority is presently held was evidenced in the very poor response to the Pope's appeal, not only in Holland, but in the rest of Europe and the U.S.A. A number of countriesincluding Holland, West Germany, Britain and Ireland-failed entirely to implement the loyalty ceremony. A case can very definitely be made that the process of liberalisation has gone too far in Holland. The dangers which have crippled Protestantism remain ever present. The wave of liberalisation can result in degenerate compromises of Church doctrine and morals with the needs of the local middle classes. 'An extreme example of such a compromise must surely be the permission given in one instance for the marriage of two homosexuals in a Catholic Church with all due ceremony. However, it is clear that in all significant matterssuch as the structure of the Church, the relation between the clergy and the laity, theology, etc.-the Dutch Church and Rome have little in common.
There are grave problems facing the Pope and his Church at the present time. A less intellectually severe man than Paul might have avoided some of the disputes of the recent past. The Pope's rigidly traditional stance on both birth control and priestly celibacy has prompted dissent that need not have arisen, if a less aggressive stance had been adopted (and such was possible, without prejudicing Church doctrine and morals). But in fact crisis was inevitable. The Church has suffered great losses in the 20th Century. It has lost the allegiance of the working class of the world, and it has lost all respect among the intelligentsia. Largely this is its repression of any radical thought which threatened the stability of its inherited structures, have seriously discredited its image and destroyed the confidence of the faithful.
The Vatican's political influence has declined almost to vanishing point. The rulers of the world are not very concerned with the Pope's attitudes to, say, Biafra or Vietnam. At homc in Italy a prolongcd buteventually unsuccessful attempt to hold up the passage of the Divorce Bill was a severe blow to the Vatican's waning political prestige. In the sense that this trend removes some of the power that has been concentrated in the Curia it is a good thing. But no doubt it puts the whole matter of Papal authority and the very role itself in question, and gives the present incumbent much to worry about. It is indicative of the present insecure status of the Papal role that the draft outline of a new constitutional law for the Church-Schema Legis Ecclesiae Fundamentalis which attempts to reassert the role of the Pope at the expense of the bishops, has already come other severe criticism from progressive theologians such as Kung and Murphy-and this, prior to official publication.
Dissension will continue to wrack the Church as it painstakingly works toward redefining its role in the world. Unquestionably the major tension in the Church is between the Vatican, as it fights a rearguard action to retain its hegemony over the universal Church, and the varying needs of the component parts of Church, each historically and culturally differently located. However this tension is resolved, the Church can nevcr be thc same again.