Pope Benedict and “the ultimate purpose of Catholicism”

Here is a very perceptive summing up of the legacy of Pope Benedict from Damian Thompson on his  Daily Telegraph blog. He says, for example, that

Benedict’s central achievement was that he began – but came nowhere near finishing – the “purification” of the Catholic Church that was his most pressing concern. This necessitated the reform both of the liturgy and of the behaviour of the clergy entrusted with its performance. It might seem strange to yoke together the two, but Ratzinger has always emphasised that liturgy – properly orientated worship of God – is the ultimate purpose of Catholicism, requiring a holy priesthood and laity.

Benedict saw himself as continuing the mission of his predecessor, John Paul II, to restore the divine dignity of the Eucharist by renewing the celebration of Mass and encouraging adoration of the Sacrament. The extraordinary scenes in Hyde Park during his visit to Britain in 2010 testified to his success – but his reluctance to bully bishops into following his suggestions meant that the mission was not fully fulfilled. (A little example that infuriates me: the Pope encouraged priests to celebrate Mass facing a standing crucifix. He himself did so at Westminster Cathedral, but the tall cross was quickly removed after he’d gone. Why?) Benedict also restored Catholics’ freedom to attend the Tridentine Mass, suppressed in the 1970s – but, again, many bishops did their “la-la-la-can’t-hear-you-Holy-Father” act and Summorum Pontificum has yet to be enforced.

Add to that this prescient interview of the the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 2003 with Raymond Arroyo of EWTN and you get a measure of the achievement of this Papacy in terms of the vision of the Church shared by two of the greatest popes in modern history.

This will either make you laugh or cry

The Irish Times probably isn’t too worried by what appears in The Daily Telegraph about it. For the rest of us, however, it is encouraging to have some confirmation that we are not alone in our nausea when we have to read it every morning – for the time being.

Damian Thompson took it to pieces in today’s Telegraph and tossed a few more Irish pc fellow-travelers under his kosh for good measure.

He begins by asking us to check out a few headlines, not telling us where they came from. It didn’t take some of us to pick up the scent. It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Here’s a trenchant headline for you, he wrote: “Transgender community celebrates ‘great diversity of gender identity’ in new book.” And another: “President tells youth groups to be vigilant against racist attitudes and to value diversity in society.” Care to guess which venerable organ published them? Here’s a clue: “Multicultural awards take place in Dublin following three-year break.”

Actually, that last one is a bit of a scoop. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. The newspaper is the Irish Times, which these days makes the Guardian look like the bulletin of the Prayer Book Society. Rumour has it that it employs a special nurse to soothe joints sprained by marathon sessions of finger-wagging.

This week was a good one for the finger-waggers. The Irish parliament passed a law stripping political parties of state funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates are women; in later elections the quota will rise to 40 per cent. This means that bright men will be dissuaded from entering politics because the system will fill the Dáil with dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. (Incidentally, did you know that eight out of the past 10 World Hectoring Champions have been lady members of the Irish Green party? It’s called Comhaontas Glas. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced: the bizarre vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation were designed to trip up the English.)

Anyway, my point is not that rigged elections will destroy the democratic mandate of the Dáil, though they will. It’s that an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia. Small-government conservatives are treated like lepers – something that, the Guardian/BBC axis notwithstanding, isn’t true of British public life. Meanwhile, the sucking up to minorities is beyond parody: a recent Irish Times profile of the travellers made them sound like latter-day Athenians. How long before there’s a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil?

Admittedly, the programme of thought reform is not complete: the Irish working class is still instinctively socially conservative. But it is, unsurprisingly, increasingly anti-clerical, and that takes us to the heart of the matter. Churchgoing in Ireland has fallen off a cliff, thanks to the clergy’s dreadful record of committing and covering up paedophile crimes. The moral vacuum at the top of a hierarchical society has been filled by political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship.

PC ideology flowers on the ruins of religion. It’s not just Ireland: in Australia, Canada and metropolitan America, the Catholic Church is paralysed by scandal and the old Protestant denominations have turned into gibbering pantheists or angry sects. Secularism is spreading incredibly fast.

Well, we shall see. There is only so much nonsense – not to mention nausea – that people can take. Just now The Irish Times has something like a captive readership because there is no half-responsible alternative to go to.  The Irish Independent , although it has some good columnists – as even the Times has – is trying to be too many things at the same time. A few years ago Damien Kiberd shook up the radio news monopoly of the national radio service, Radio Telefis Eireann, with his Newstalk station. He did the same thing a few years before for the Sunday newspaper market with his Sunday Business Post. Newstalk is now owned by one the The Irish Times’ top hate-figures, Dennis O’Brien. O’Brien is now poised to take over Ireland’s biggest newspaper business, Independent News and Media and that “entire intelligentsia” to which Thompson pays his tribute is becoming apoplectic at the thought. Could an O’Brien-Kiberd combo be the way back to health and lower blood pressure levels for a lot of us?