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February 19, 2013



A fascinating talk but I think it would have benefited from a greater engagement with opposing perspectives. Your treatment of 'Catholic Restoration' is superficial at best and you dismiss its proponents as self-evidently wrong. This seems reminiscent of the dogmatic certitude you impute to the Vatican. It's always perilous to invest so much confidence in the merits of one's own opinions.

It is a fallacy to see Vatican II or its implementation as constituting the 'end of history'. All ecumenical councils are bound by their time and context; Vatican II can be no more definitive than Trent. The world has changed drastically since 1962. The impulses which gave rise to the Council (primarily aroused by World War II and the attendant horrors) were time-specific and you cannot blame succeeding generations, who grew up in a very different environment, for feeling out of sympathy.

Another defect you suffer from (and it is so overarching in your worldview that it marinates almost all your posts on this blog) is an over-idealized conception of "the laity". Your ideal of the laity as being 'united' is naive and you portray us in much the same manner that Marxists speak of the working-class (as a homogeneous group all possessing the same interests and views) but this woefully underestimates the heterogeneous nature of lay people. (Many of us are loud partisans of the 'Catholic Restoration' you decry.) I fear your depiction of the enthusiasm and initiative of the laity is grounded in wishful thinking. I worked in a local parochial house (this was the cathedral parish) in my teenage years and one of the constant frustrations of the local priests was getting lay volunteers to assume the functions they perceived proper to them. Readers and altar servers were unreliable or late; few were interested in replacing them.

I also question why you are so hostile to even the faintest suggestion that the Church has jettisoned valuable aspects of her heritage, and that elements of these may be worthy of retrieval. I timidly wonder if it is because you have invested so much of your own priestly identity and energy into a certain view of the Council that you feel is fading. Perhaps it will instill in you a sympathy for the new generation of Catholics who feel disillusioned with the insipid iconoclasm bequeathed by the Vatican II generation and are determined to put things right. Your generation didn't respect the values and ideals of your predecessors, neither will we.

Gene O'Grady

I've heard iconoclasm called many things, but "insipid" is a new one.

On the other hand, after spending several years doing my best to coordinate lay volunteers I can sympathize with that part of Shane's post. Perhaps the question that comes to me primarily, however, is why the generation that came of age in the 1940-1960 time frame, in some respects the first really well educated generation of American Catholics, took so eagerly, and successfully, to those roles, and why the tradition declined. Being of an opposite viewpoint to Shane, I suspect a sense of betrayal on the part of the restorationists, and the impact of the inept handling of the role of women in the Montini-Wojtyla church.

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