War of the Worldlings
"The world is tired of the clergy, but the clergy are not tired of the world!" So lamented St. Thomas More. Today, nearly 500 years on, one would be hard pressed to find a more incisive appraisal of the current state of play. If the Western Church is still "fraying at the seams" and "haemorrhaging dramatically from the pews" 35 years after the onset of the neo-Modernist rebellion, with no end in sight, we need look no further than a worldly clerical milieu forever warring against its own sacral raison d’etre for the underlying cause. Lest we depress ourselves unduly, however, let us first put things in historical perspective.
Anyone au fait with current ecclesiastical developments will be aware that the whole range of Modernist misfits who afflict the contemporary priesthood - the apostates, heretics, heterodox, homosexuals and broader spectrum of insidious lukewarm - have well and truly passed their sell-by date. Even as these despicable clerics luxuriate in their false and treacherous ‘freedom’ to dissent, disobey and compromise, the twenty-first century Church is sifting through the postconciliar wreckage, slowly realigning herself with Tradition and moving on. Witness the increasingly vigorous reaffirmation and promotion of both the Old Mass, Latin as our common Catholic language and the restoration of traditional devotions by the Holy Father and his Vatican deputies, as well as their obvious contempt for Novus Ordo anarchists and determination to rout them.
In his fourteenth encyclical published last April, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, John Paul II reaffirms traditional doctrines such as the sacrificial nature of the Mass, vigorously condemns ongoing liturgical abuses and upholds traditional devotional practices relating to the Eucharist which the liberals have sought to expunge from Catholic life. In May, the Holy Father also set up a new Vatican commission, to be headed by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, to restore Latin to its rightful place in the Church. The new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze, chimed in with a withering statement of intent, declaring: "I would sum up my present message in a simple phrase: ‘The do-it-yourself Mass is ended; go in peace’." And then, of course, came the globally reported piece de resistance which shot the rising Modernist blood pressure off the chart. On 24 May, before around 2,000 faithful, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy offered the Old Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major with the Pope’s explicit permission and blessing.
After so many false dawns and dashed hopes one has learnt to temper expectations raised by sporadic skirmishes with tradition and toothless edicts and pronouncements from on high. Nonetheless, these are real indicators of a painstaking return to sanity and genuine reform which will continue long into this century and beyond, until ‘natural selection’ re-establishes the 1962 Missal as the dominant Mass-of-choice among the faithful remnant and the pastoral experiment known as Vatican II is but a dim and largely discredited memory (like the equally dismal Constantinople II  whose compromising decisions were quietly "consigned to oblivion" by subsequent pontiffs). Oremus.
Impervious to these signs of the times, neo-Modernist clerics are therefore destined for an ignominious, wholesale sweeping away by the changing tide of ecclesiastical history. It is inevitable. In the meantime, however, faithful priests and laity alike continue to endure their flared-trouser theology, love-bead morality, groovy liturgies and adolescent rebelliousness. The world, which viewed their puerile gimmicks with fleeting curiosity in the 60s and 70s, has long wearied of them, but, true to St. Thomas More’s dictum, still these yesterday’s men kneel tirelessly before the world, shaming us all.
One recent scandal atop the ever mounting pile before me concerns five priests from Edinburgh, four of whom attended the ‘wedding’ of the other, 36-year-old Father John Cudlip, former curate of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. Ordained in 1997, Father Cudlip ‘left’ the priesthood to ‘marry’ a schoolteacher from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School. According to Scotland’s Catholic Truth newsletter which exposed this outrage [PO Box 3269, Kilsyth G65 9YF], the ‘marriage’ took place in April in a Protestant church and one of the attending priests, Father Stuart Gray, said a prayer for the newly-weds and imparted a blessing. So much for Archbishop O’Brien’s subsequent statement that "All [the priests] attended in a personal capacity and did not officiate or preside at the ceremony." A full page story in the Daily Record of 14 June further quoted the Archbishop as saying that while he thought "the Church" would not approve of what took place, he found "the attendance of several close priest friends in a personal capacity understandable." That being the astonishing case, one was not surprised to find his spokesman assuring the Record that "The archbishop spoke to the priests, they weren’t carpeted and no sanctions were imposed."
If all that were not enough, there were a few telling prequels to this event. Firstly, in its June 2003 edition, Catholic Truth revealed that last February Fr. Cudlip had attended a Silver Jubilee celebration for Monsignor David Gemmell, held in St. Mary’s Cathedral porch, with his girlfriend in tow! (A few days later, Msgr Gemmell apparently hosted a further post-Mass party for himself inside the Cathedral featuring an alcoholic bar, balloons tied to fingers of the statue of the Sacred Heart and "people laughing and joking in the aisles.") Secondly, the Daily Record delighted in recalling that "In 1998, the BBC’s Travel Show sent Fr. Cudlip, Fr. Murchall [one of the four priests who attended the Cudlip ‘wedding’] and Monsignor Gemmell to Amsterdam, Europe’s sex capital. On a cycling trip, they got lost and found themselves in the city’s notorious red light district. Fr. Murchall, 43, said at the time: ‘We ended up on the outskirts of the red light district. I’m sure it would have been a sight to see but I tried to put my head down and cycled quickly past.’ The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Ajax football stadium."
This degradation of the Faith and utter lack of understanding of the nature, dignity and obligations of the priesthood, as manifested by the smug and shameful irreverence of all these clerics from the Archbishop down, was perhaps most graphically depicted by a photo which adorned the Daily Record article. It showed then-Fr. Cudlip and some of his "priest pals" (including Father Jock Dalrymple, another of the ‘wedding’ attendees), posing as the pop group Boyzone for a 1999 charity concert, at which Fr. Cudlip impersonated lead singer Ronan Keating before 200 people at the local town hall. From the slicked back hair to the assorted leather jackets, baseball caps and T-shirts, the picture screams at the hoi polloi: ‘Hey! We’re just like you!’
While our pathetic prelates chuckle at this sort of clerical burlesque, the snapshot encapsulates the worldliness and profanity which has afflicted the clergy since the 1960s: the cringing deference to decadent popular culture; the elevation of a spurious "relevance" to the apex of priestly life; the desire to eradicate lines of demarcation between the natural and supernatural; the longing for anonymity at the price of hiding their priesthood.
The sad workaday sight of ecclesiastics in mufti - beloved of corporate managers like Kieron Conry, the Bishop-cum-CEO of Arundel & Brighton Inc., who left the final Mass of a diocesan pilgrimage in Lourdes on his motorbike dressed in a T-shirt - is richly symbolic of this pervasive desire to escape the demands of the priesthood. In addition, we are regularly assailed by media shots of grinning clerics sporting everything from rock gear (like the electric guitar-wielding Abbott Primate of the Benedictines who plays in a German heavy metal band), to football jumpers (as with Edinburgh’s infamous dissident Fr. Steve Gilhooley at a recent soccer final), to top hat and tails (which a group of Brentwood clergy paraded at a diocesan function), to nothing at all (like the young Irish priest who posed stark naked for a Galway charity calendar). "In the end," observed Cardinal Ratzinger, "today’s priest can grow weary of resisting, with his words and even more with his life-style, the seemingly so reasonable realities that are accepted as a matter of course and that characterise our culture."
If, however, a priest has never been taught by word and example what the priesthood is, there will be little cause for any resistance to the world’s "seemingly so reasonable realities" at all. And so, notwithstanding their free will to co-operate with grace to conquer ignorance and pride like everyone else, we need to ask: what chance did ex-Fr. Cudlip and his clueless clerical mates ever really have, considering the sort of mixed-messages, worldly ambiance, bad example and general malformation they have endured since their seminary days? Consider this extract from a [Glasgow] Herald Magazine feature of 14 June 2003 on the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, where the reporter interviewed the senior seminarian, 29-year-old deacon Gerry Dillon:
Dillon tells the reporter that "his favoured pastime is music, which he uses as a buffer against the loneliness of his vocation." And what bands does he listen to?
In fact, this tragically confused and misled soul is more typical than he thinks. We might pray that Satanist Marilyn Manson - whose hateful lyrics incited the Columbine High School killers and who promised "obscenity, foulness, vomiting, screaming, nausea, drug use and naked women" at his London ‘concert’ - is not to the musical taste of Dillon’s fellow students. Yet surely they are not so different in terms of the warped concept of the priesthood of Jesus Christ they will acquire. After all, the disturbing influence of a senior colleague like Dillon aside, who is going to teach them the truth? The Scots College seminary superiors who allowed Dillon entrée to a Catholic seminary in the first place? The seminary faculty who allowed him to progress? The bishop who will think nothing of laying hands on such a man in the frighteningly near future?
The answer to such questions are, of course, both self-evident and superfluous. The dire state of what is left of Scottish seminary education, reflecting the thoroughly rotten heart of the Scottish Church and episcopate, is well known. For instance, commenting on the errors being taught at Scotus College, Scotland’s national seminary, a priest wrote in the November 2002 Catholic Truth that "there is a feeling that rather than being taught the truths of the Catholic faith, the vast majority of lecturers are putting forward their own version of the truth, altered so as to be suitable to their own theological hang-ups… Scotus exemplifies this spirit of dissent." In which case, considering the danger to naïve and impressionable souls, we should rejoice rather than lament that the total number of Scottish seminarians has fallen from 103 in 1990 to just 37 today, with only 3 more anticipated to enter in October. And "these problems," as the priest notes, "are not exclusive to Scotus." They are, in fact, representative of just about any seminary or diocese in the Western world.
Thus we have at least one generation of clergy, and the makings of another, who have very little if any idea of what it means to be a priest. Apart from the illustrative examples above, witness the findings of the largest survey ever undertaken of the views of the Catholic clergy of England and Wales, nearly half of whom (1,482) responded to the questionnaires originally sent out in 1996 by a Catholic priest and an Anglican academic. 43 per cent opposed Church teaching on contraception and a further 19 per cent were undecided about it, while 25 per cent no longer felt chastity was essential. 21 per cent thought practising homosexuals should be admitted to the priesthood (with a massive 53% of priests under 45 in favour as opposed to only 20% of those over 60). 25 per cent were in favour of women priests and 40 per cent sought a more liberal attitude to divorce and remarriage. [The Sunday Telegraph, 6 April 2003]
The bishops have duly tried to discredit the survey, questioning its methodology and claiming that it "cannot be seen as a true reflection of the current beliefs of priests in England and Wales." Yet whatever one makes of it, not only are the survey results feasible, most of the bishops themselves would espouse the same dissident opinions! We are talking about a local Church where prelates like John Crowley and John Rawsthorne see no harm whatsoever in attending and even offering Mass in celebration of a homosexual "partnership"; where Bishop Ambrose Griffiths happily allows a sodomite ex-priest to mock Catholic teaching on homosexuality within his own cathedral; where Archbishop Nichols gushes that "millions of people have good reason to thank" fervent pro-abortion MP Clare Short "for her efforts while in office"; where the Cardinal Archbishop lauds the avidly pro-homosexual, pro-remarriage after divorce Rowan Williams as "a theologian of distinction, a man of deep spirituality.. a force for great good"; where the clergy, as in Scotland, feel free to toy with the Holy Mass, preach heresy and generally give scandal in the public forum without the slightest fear of reproach.
And there’s the rub: worldling bishops spawn clerical worldlings. It is not rocket science. Egregious Modernists such as these English prelates and Scotland’s Archbishop O’Brien above cannot help but oversee the formation of faithless, irreverent clergy - at one with the secular: at war with the sacred - to whom a blameless, sacrificial priestly life devoid of the least sins and slightest imperfections, as espoused in the following pages by St. Pius X, would seem entirely laughable and utopian. Yet Pius X’s own life, starting as a humble and hard-working curate in Tombolo (1858-67), bears testimony to the possibility of such a vocation worthy of Christ. As his former parish priest Father Anthony Costantini wrote in 1867:
The bountiful fruits of this precise attention to the demands of the priesthood can be gauged from Fr. Sarto’s ensuing impact as spiritual director of the Treviso seminary from 1875-84, where "he was able to educate in virtue and holiness of life a group of young priests who became the ornament of the diocese and the glory of three bishops. As Bishop of Mantua and Patriarch of Venice, nothing was dearer to him than that his clergy should wed sound and substantial learning to a true and authentic ‘sense of Christ’. After becoming Pope and aware that the religious welfare of peoples depends largely on the priesthood, the constant object of his preoccupations, his anxieties and his cares was the sanctification and instruction of the clergy for the work of saving souls."
It is in that spirit that we present the following exhortations from St. Pius X. They are offered especially to those clerics raised on a diet of Modernism and stuck in an unholy rut yet who perceive, however faintly, that their peace and fulfilment does not lie in mimicking men of the world but in realising their vocation as men of the Word, through a profound knowledge and strict living out of the true nature and demands of their sublime calling. May the Divine Mercy grant them an intellectual and spiritual rebirth through the agency of this great Pope, who, on the day of his canonisation, was commended by Pius XII as "the glory of the priesthood" and a template for Catholic clergy and laity alike: