The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


It’s the ’60s, stupid

posted by jmcgee

Historian and theologian Fr. Mark Massa, S.J. has just written a new book called “The American Catholic Revolution: How the ’60s Changed the Church Forever,” and he gave an interview about it to the Religion News Service:

Q: Why should American Catholics care what happened in the 1960s?

A: Starting with Vatican II, Catholics became aware that the church, its worship, and its beliefs change — that the church develops over history. The current battles between the left and the right are really between those who want to press a historical awareness of change and those who want to view the church as timeless.

Q: Why did the “Catholic Revolution,” as you call it, begin in 1964?

A: The new Mass (which was introduced in America that year) made real, or concrete, the changes that Vatican II made in ways that theology, or other declarations from the council could not.

Q: Why is change — not sex — the church’s dirty little secret?

A: A great majority of Catholics (once) thought of the church as outside of time altogether — that what they did on Sunday is what Jesus did at the Last Supper, and early Christians did in the catacombs. Vatican II attacked this notion of the church as providing a timeless set of answers to life’s questions about meaning.

Q: And that became a personal crisis for Catholics in the 1960s?

A: Catholics, like all believers, want security. The world seems, and can be, a very scary place; and they want their religion to provide them with some form of certainty, security, and peace of mind. But faith is a stance in history; it doesn’t preserve us from messiness, or from change, including to religious institutions.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(17)
post a comment
Rudy

posted September 23, 2010 at 8:53 am


And we all know how since Vatican II the Churches are now filled to the brim, vocations have all but exploded, religious sisters and brothers can’t get enough places for all the postulants, the Church as so respected now and how the culture around us has become evangelized with the Catholic message. No need for the old tired sense of security, of course the faith should messy and forever changing to the call of the times. Right.



report abuse
 

Fr. Stephen, csc

posted September 23, 2010 at 9:13 am


One can never know how an interviewer will edit and redact what you say. And I wouldn’t want to be made to defend every quickly-spoken response I’ve ever made to an interviewer – so I’ll do my best to not force that upon Fr. Massa. But I think there are some really stunning and frankly troubling answers in this interview:
He says: “Catholics, like all believers, want security. The world seems, and can be, a very scary place; and they want their religion to provide them with some form of certainty, security, and peace of mind.”
That’s absolutely right, of course. And as it should be if you ask me. And yet Fr. Massa says that “Vatican II attacked this notion of the church as providing a timeless set of answers to life’s questions about meaning.” And, “faith is a stance in history; it doesn’t preserve us from messiness, or from change, including to religious institutions.”
Of course faith doesn’t preserve us from messiness or change. There is always the cross. But the Faith is indeed a timeless set of answers to life’s questions about meaning!!! The faith the Church professes and proposes to the world is Jesus Christ Himself, who is absolutely the answer to all our questions about meaning, and all our searching for certainty, security and peace of mind.
In as much as Fr. Massa is right, that the “spirit of Vatican II” undermined this understanding, we can see precisely why the ensuing decades have been so disastrous for the Church. It’s about more than what Fr. Massa says about “Vatican II led to fewer priests and fewer (members of religious orders).” It’s about a particular understanding of the Council undermining the very essence of the Church’s mission!
Fr. Massa says that he’s just an historian: “I’m only laying out the past. The argument stands or falls according to whether it makes the most sense of the most data from the past. I’m not making moral judgments.” Fair enough. But every historian knows that it isn’t that simple. The “facts” and how they are presented are absolutely shaped by the historian’s judgement.
So it’s perfectly fair for us to ask how capable Massa is of correctly interpreting the “facts” he is presenting. Which “facts” does he choose to address; which ones does he leave out; and how does he piece together the ones he does address?
When asked how Benedict’s understanding of the liturgy might fit his thesis, Fr. Massa says:
“It’s partly personal preference. He’s Austrian, and likes looking back to the past. He likes the smells and bells. I do, too. I suspect there’s more to it than that, but I don’t know.”
Well, there is indeed MUCH more to it than his personal preference. And even for the historian, an inability, or an unwillingness, to grapple with the theology that undergirds Benedict’s liturgical “preferences” is to fail to understand his critique of a particular interpretation of the Council. And Pope Benedict has arguably been the single most articulate detractor of that interpretation of the Council. It seems to me that this would have been a tremendously important thing for Mass to address, given what he describes his thesis to be.
I look forward to reading his book to see if he’s done this . . . but I don’t know.



report abuse
 

just_a_dre

posted September 23, 2010 at 9:15 am


Q: Why is change — not sex — the church’s dirty little secret?
A: A great majority of Catholics (once) thought of the church as outside of time altogether — that what they did on Sunday is what Jesus did at the Last Supper, and early Christians did in the catacombs. Vatican II attacked this notion of the church as providing a timeless set of answers to life’s questions about meaning.
——
Is this NOT true anymore? I was still taught that the Mass is a Sacrifice and that it transcends time, opening to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.



report abuse
 

Mr Flapatap

posted September 23, 2010 at 10:29 am


just_a_dre got it right. To that comment I would like to add:
“Starting with Vatican II, Catholics became aware that the church, its worship, and its beliefs change — that the church develops over history.
Beliefs change???????



report abuse
 

Mr Flapatap

posted September 23, 2010 at 10:31 am


I just noticed the “S.J.” at the end of the name…. I’ll say a prayer to San Ignacio.



report abuse
 

Bronx Irish Catholic

posted September 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm


As a youngster in the 1960s, Church was important. I went to an all catholic school in the Bronx, NY and was forced to attend the 9:00 O’Clock mass every Sunday. The nuns even took attendance. What vaugely bothered me then was the push for folk music, the use of the peace symbol in the church, unspoken but real dislike for the Vietnam war, and push towards liberalism in all things. Just as American society was under bombardment from the left, the Church abandoned its traditional source of strenght and authority. The youngest nuns in our school even went to anti-war protests and were proud to be part of ‘change’. They never seemed to protest what the Communists were doing to the North Vietnamise or behind the Iron Curtain. Two sisters in particular were very liberal and chided us for ‘living in a lilly white neighborhood.’ As a 8 year old in 1968, they were attempting to make be feel bad that my Blue Collar Dad had not moved us to a more ‘diverse’ neighborhood. Ten years later, when the neighborhood that was mostly crime free, composed of Irish and Italian first generations, was now Puerto Rican and Black and very dangerous–well we did not see Sister Margaret outside very much. Indeed she got transfered to a nice school in the suburbs. The NY Catholic Church sold out–embraced liberalism, and us poor white, church going folks were left with the debris that had once been decent.



report abuse
 

I saw it also

posted September 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm


Although the BIC is angry, there is a lot of truth to what he says. I saw also how what the Pope wanted was perveted in NY and taken over by a very liberal clergy. No wonder few in my generation in NY went into any of the Catholic Church’s orders. As for those priests who sodomized or abused children–well they should be stripped of their priesthood, excommunicated, and the option of a court ordered and enforced castration if any of their victims concurred. I knew a guy in my neighborhood who was likely abused by one of our parish’s priests, and he killed himself at age 19. I think it happened to him when he was an altar boy.



report abuse
 

Luis

posted September 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm


Who is this Bronx Irish Catholic to condem our Church for evolution? NY in the 1960s was a great, but fraying, place to be…very exciting. My family moved from Mott Haven to a place on the North Grand Concourse…it was nice and clean and we could play outside and Momma did not worry. I had a lot of white friends, but also enemies who did not like us because we spoke mostly Spanish and were orginally from the Island. By 1980, a lot of Blacks had moved into the Tracy Towers and then crime took off…and us Puerto Ricans got blamed for it. Our Church, St. Philip Neri, was good. But after I grew up, I stopped going. I hate to admit it, but my new ‘neighbors’ trashed the neiborhood and a lot of the whites moved out or up to Woodlawn to get away. NYC changes, and so does the church, right?



report abuse
 

Katherine

posted September 23, 2010 at 2:57 pm


And we all know how since Vatican II the Churches are now filled to the brim,…
Actually, true. Unless you are among those who think only white people count.
The greatest evangelization in history of Christianity has been in the years of since the Council. In 1960 there were 530 million Catholics. Today there are over 1.2 billion Catholics.
While Christianity has been present in Africa and India for centuries, only with the renewed liturgy did conversions soar to the present levels.
In Latin America, while a thin veneer of Catholicism existed in most societies, the poor and working classes were almost ignored pastorally. Today, the Church in Latin America is far more pastorally present in the lives of the lower social classes than before the Council.
Mass attendence in Eastern and Central Europe has risen. Japan, Korea, Taiwan all have seen evangelization enhanced since the Council. Even in Red China, people are coming to the faith in numbers previously unknown. More people in the Noridc countries have converted to the Catholic faith in the 50 years since the Council than during the 400 years between the Reformation and 1960.
All in all, for 80% of the world, the time since Vatican II has resulted in the greatest Catholic evangelization ever experienced.



report abuse
 

KDP

posted September 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Katherine, Kathereine, Katherine. If there were 1.2 billion Cathlic’s in this world, here in the good old USA alone, abortion would be illegal, divorece rates among “Catholics” wouldn’t be around 50%, use of contraceptives among “Catholics” would be diminimus, there would be no “debate” about ordaining women, the seminaries would be bursting, etc., etc. You really ought to check out what being “Catholic” really means . . .and it has alot more to do with just being baptized “Cathlic.” May I recommend beginning with a detailed study of the Apostles Creed.



report abuse
 

Diakonos

posted September 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm


The points are food for thought…. but one an important piece of geography…. well….
Q: How does Benedict’s recent reform of the Mass in English and support for the Latin Mass fit into your theory?
A: It’s partly personal preference. He’s Austrian, and likes looking back to the past. He likes the smells and bells. I do, too. I suspect there’s more to it than that, but I don’t know.
The Holy Father is not Austrian. He is Bavarian and thus very German.
Gottesegen / Blessings /Pax Christi……



report abuse
 

Panthera

posted September 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm


One is Bavarian first, last, always. The current Federal State, composed of sixteen Länder of which Bavaria is premier, is The Federal Republic of Germany.
Not the same thing.
At all.



report abuse
 

Deacon Norb

posted September 24, 2010 at 7:36 am


Before we get all bent-out-of-shape about what the Sixties were all about and by extension, what Vatican II really meant to do, can I suggest you all take a deep breath and do some additional homework.
The idea proposed by many now alive in 2010 that there was two voting blocks at the Council — one which was fundamentally liberal and progressive and the other being fundamentally conservative and traditional — has been proven demonstrably false. There were not two but FOUR.
See Melissa J. Wilde. Vatican II: A Sociological Analysis of Religious Change. (Princeton; UP. 2007) and my review of it in CROSSROADS.
Then — also — dig up the actual vote counts logged into the Council records. To actually pass the Council’s process, a document had to only have a 2/3 majority of those present voting “placet — this pleases me.”
NOT ONE DOCUMENT Passed with less than a 90% majority and many passed with a 98-99% majority.
Some have suggested that a large portion of the world-wide bishops were bullied into making those “placet” votes. Not likely at all. Bishops worldwide are very jealous of their authority and rights and are not likely intimidated by anyone or anything.



report abuse
 

Byzantine Steve

posted September 24, 2010 at 8:58 am


@Katherine: Your numbers are incorrect. The Annuario Pontificum (Pontifical Yearbook) puts the 2010 global Catholic population at 1.166 billion. The World Bank puts the 2010 global population at 6.697 billion. That means 17.4% of the world is Catholic. Using the number of Catholics in 1960 that you gave, divided by the global population at that time (3.04 billion according to the US Census), you find that 17.4% of the world was Catholic then. Therefore, there has been no change.
Fr. Massa is wrong in saying that Vatican II alerted the world that there could be change in Catholic doctrine. Blessed John Henry Newman wrote about that the previous century (his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine first appeared in 1848, and was the final straw for his conversion). Vincent of Lerins wrote about it even earlier. What Vatican II did was evolve doctrine drastically but authentically. Its implementation, however, went further than the Council called for and the result was a change in Catholic practice that was difficult to explain to the laity. As a result, there was a sense that “all is up for grabs”. This is why Humanae Vitae came as a surprise, rather than as a predictable further development of doctrine.



report abuse
 

Katherine

posted September 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Katherine, Kathereine, Katherine. If there were 1.2 billion Cathlic’s in this world, …. etc., etc. You really ought to check out what being “Catholic” really means
I don’t hear Confessions, so I simply used the Church’s numbers. I can’t peer into everyone’s soul to determine how good of a Catholic they are. How many of the people in my parish in the 1950s should I count as real Catholics? Could you break it down between how many of the whites in the front pews and how many of the “coloreds” in the back, segregated pews?
ByzSteve,
Well, by your count we have continued to pass on the faith as well as we have before even with all of the reforms in the Church. Still not the disaster some have claimed.
But as a mother of five, while all of my children are active in the Catholic faith, I never considered it a given. We all need evangelization including those with Catholic parents.



report abuse
 

The Honest Man

posted September 24, 2010 at 7:06 pm


It’s all fake. It is well past time for 21 century humans to embrace science and logic and abandon once and for all the superstitions of these phony gods.



report abuse
 

Byzantine Steve

posted October 9, 2010 at 12:22 am


I guess I should follow up on these things more closely, but I’m not a “combox” kinda guy…
So I bring up the facts to refute the notion that the Novus Ordo has been a great evangelistic tool. I happen to prefer it to the Extraordinary Form (when I go to a Latin Rite liturgy) but I don’t believe that it has achieve the rejuvenation of the faith in the Western world that it was intended to. There has been a falling off there, and a concomitant growth in the South. Perhaps what this indicates is that there was a need for new liturgical forms, without the suppression of the old. (The reversal of that suppression has, perhaps, been one aspect of the New Evangelization.)
In any event, it is a shame that the Church is dwindling where it has previously flourished. We ought not be satisfied with mere stability, but, following Christ’s call, go spread the Gospel, make converts, bring folks back to the Church, and dig deeper into our faith.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.