A Hermeneutic of Rupture

+Guglielmo Borghetti
I was really shocked to read reports of the newly appointed bishop of the Italian Diocese of Albenga-Imperia, Guglielmo Borghetti, who has been appointed to replace Bishop Mario Oliveri.

Given the well known sympathy in the diocese for the Traditions of the Church, Bishop Borghetti has said he intends to wipe-out East facing liturgy. He is reported as having condemned ‘false altars’ facing away from people as ‘nostalgia for the past’. 

Interesting given Cardinal Sarah's call to say Mass orientated to the Lord and Pope Emeritus' Benedict XVI's recent affirmation of that call to re-orientation in L‘Osservatore Romano (comments which were, perhaps, blown a little out of proportion by Lifesite News here, but are, nonetheless, accurately his thoughts on the matter). Of course, some other prelates disagree with this...More on that further down.

Bishop Borghetti has been Bishop Oliveri's Coadjutor Bishop since March 2015. Borghetti's appointment as such was seen at the time as the humiliation of another orthodox Bishop friendly to Traditionalists. It sometimes seems to me that liberal-leaning clergy are cross with more Traditionally minded clergy for gaining vocations, growing parishes, etc. I often wonder why the more liberal clergy don't simply take stock of their own tactics, compare them with more orthodox tactics and see where the fruit is. But I suppose that's asking for a degree of self awareness which escapes most of them.

It was also noted by many how this action stood in dramatic contrast to the Pope's inaction over the crisis enveloping his scandalous appointment of Juan Barros as Bishop of Osorno in Chile, despite credible and multiple allegations linking him to the sexual abuse of minors. The context basically being that if your agenda is the dismantling of the Church's tradition and teaching, it seems you can get away with just about anything. However, if you are faithful to the Church's Tradition and teaching, you are persecuted relentlessly. For a recent example, take the contrast between our own Cardinal's timid response to a self-proclaimed Catholic academic writing to the Polish Bishops to argue for “early, safe and legal” abortion  and his immediately & definitive ruling on Cardinal Sarah's proposals for ways in which to emphasise the sacred nature of the Holy Mass (linked to above).

Bishop Mario Oliveri's tenure over Albenga-Imperia has been long (he was appointed in 1990) and is notable for a marked fruitfulness. The diocese includes only ten percent of the Catholics of Liguria, yet has more seminarians than the whole of the rest of the region!

Despite this evident growth and success. it is well known that the knives have been out for +Oliveri since the 1980’s when he opposed the National Pastoral Congress in Liverpool (for more on this opposition see here).
I find this particularly interesting given who was appointed a member of the Congregation for Bishops on 16 December 2013 by Pope Francis, and their involvement in that congress and its agenda (full details listed here).

I hear from people who know him that Bishop Oliveri is a good man, although it might be said that he is a little too trusting and even naive at times because he has undoubtedly been merciful in accepting morally-tainted and questionable seminarians and priests into his diocese, some of whom ended up committing sexual offences and crimes. Some clergy of the diocese are also accused of stealing Church money (see here for more detail). 

If I am completely honest, I do worry personally about the anecdotal link to Traditionalism of those with same sex attraction, especially prevalent and even, these days, somewhat overt within Anglicanism. I worry that, as Pope Francis seems to sometimes point out, those with a dubious agenda hide behind a strictness and rigourism which speaks more about their own inner conflict than any real vocation or mission. But the hypocrisy of anyone hiding behind a priest's collar to abuse or steal is deeply painful always, despite the fact that they are human and subject to the same temptations and failings that the rest of us are.

Notwithstanding such concerns, I do find myself increasingly drawn to the more Traditionalist elements in the Church because there I recognise an honesty with the faith which seems horribly lacking in other areas of Catholic life. There I recognise a real attempt to wrestle with the day to day realities of living life as a Catholic, there I find those who confront evil head on, outside abortion clinics and the like. Elsewhere the Church seems to be fatally at odds with itself as it wrestles with the inconsistencies obvious in the juxtaposition of its doctrine and modern secular wisdom. If the Church bears witness to the truth of Christ how can she compromise? Such an admission can only serve to convince the faithful that there are no truths, only malleable philosophies which yield under the pressure of secular wisdom.

However, I do find that I worry when I find such rigidity there that would condemn Vatican II and cast out anyone who attends a Novus ordo Mass. Especially given all the good, faithful priests and people I know who regularly attend and say Mass in the ordinary form.

I am not so rigid, and seek honesty in the pursuit of the faith above all things. I find much of the teaching of Vatican II misinterpreted by people seeking to subvert the Church, but I do think some of the fruit of the council was valuable. Not least the Liturgy of the Word in the vernacular, for example. I also worry that the Church fails to deal clearly with some issues, homosexuality being one of them. I try to be faithful to Church teaching, but find myself often attacked for that. I don't know, it's all very frustrating and confusing!

I think what troubles me the most is that there are so many who seem to think the Church's teachings are wrong, and should be overturned. Personally I can't reconcile this with the idea of revelation: it seems clear that if I believe in a divinely revealed truth, my intellectual efforts should be directed to better understanding of that revelation, rather than devoting all my attention to the subversion and rejection of that revelation. Should I not believe in a divinely revealed truth, there are plenty of religious organisations that I could find a home in.

Of course, when we say "Why don't you leave and find a church which better suits your sensibilities", we are met with, "but it's our church too!" Of course the Church should welcome all, but we are Church in our unity and we are followers of Christ in our desire to follow Him and learn how to change to be more like Him, not by changing the Church to become more like us. Something to think about.


  1. I felt that I needed to add a couple of pointers for you here as you have made two very common mistakes...

    You make a common mistake when you say that traditionalists 'condemn' the misintepretations of Vatican II. They actually primarily condemned changes to ALL sacramental rites. Not a single sacramental rite remains the same as those passed down from the apostles. They were all changed at the end of the 1960's. Once again, exorcisms were removed from all sacramental rites. This is actually what faithful traditional Catholics primarily complained about. For instance, if you were baptised after Vatican II you no longer received quite detailed exorcism prayers as part of the ceremony. All though it isn't obvious in the words, you would have, for instance, failed to receive exorcisms over your mouth and ears in the new baptismal ceremony.

    Also, you make another common mistake... You say... "I do think some of the fruit of the council was valuable. Not least the Liturgy of the Word in the vernacular"

    The novus ordo was not the hermaneutic of continuity Mass. The 1965 Missale Romanum, which was quickly usurped by the novus ordo, was the actual Hermaneutic of Continuity Mass which was passed down from the Apostles. Some parts were removed, but the main prayers of the 1965 Mass remained the same as the Tridentine Mass. It is a little known fact, but even the SSPX celebrated the 1965 vernacular Missal, as they considered it as a hermanuetic of continuity Mass. This 1965 Missal was usurped within 3 years by the novus ordo, which not only has changed wording and structure, but had one third of the prayers removed, and an exorcism. This is why Catholics call the novus ordo a hermaneutic of discontinuity Mass. Why was the original 1965 vernacular Mass usurped so quickly?

    Finally (and once you have read this Papal Bull, you will never be able to un-read it)...

    Have you ever read Pope St. Pius V, Quo Primum Tempore, July 14, 1570:

    “Now, therefore, in order that all everywhere may adopt and observe what has been delivered to them by the Holy Roman Church, Mother and Mistress of the other churches, it shall be unlawful henceforth and forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses according to any formula other than this Missal published by Us.... Accordingly, no one whosoever is permitted to infringe or rashly contravene this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, direction, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should any venture to do so, let him understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”

  2. a) When Philip baptised the eunoch, he did not seem to use an exorcism first.
    b) There are many valid forms of the Holy Mass, the Latin rites being only some of them. And the Latin rites have changed over the centuries (not only the 20th century).
    c) Calm down. Feel free to attend the extraordinary form of the Sacrifice, if you appreciate it. Do not, however, presume to cast the rest of us into the outer darkness; that would be ultra vires...


  3. I don't claim to be typical of anything. I don't claim to be an infallible interpreter of 'Traditionalism'. I just want to say that I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sundays (or as many as I can), I am deeply worried about many of the appointments which Pope Francis has made and I am extremely concerned about the direction in which he appears (cf Amoris Laetitia) to be taking the Church. But I attend Mass in the Ordinary Form most weekdays and actually serve on many occasions. One of the most extreme criticisms of the Mass in the Ordinary Form is that it is 'protestantised'. I asked a Protestant to read the text of the Mass and tell me how far he got before he objected to something. He got as far as the Confiteor.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Pope Francis: we planned it all before the conclave

Pope Francis: Dismantling Marriage

Establishing a New Object of Worship