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In Praise of Popular Catholicism Print E-mail
By Robert Royal   
Thursday, 25 July 2013

At least 100,000 people came to see and hear Pope Francis yesterday, which means about 1,000 times the number who turned up in Miami last weekend to protest the Trayvon Martin verdict. Numbers alone don’t necessarily mean anything. A million people who believe 2 + 2 = 5 do not change the facts – or outweigh even one person who gets things right.

But large numbers of people, it’s been said, do make a constituency in modern societies. Or at least some do. Aparecida, where the pope said Mass, draws 10 million people a year (the most of any Marian shrine). Yet is all but unknown outside the region. It would be something to see what the reaction would be if 10 or 20 million Catholics showed up in NYC or DC every year for Catholic devotions.

As John Allen has observed, for most pilgrims, journeying to that shrine is a living engagement with faith. And Aparecida lies at the roots of the pope’s faith. When the bishops of the region wrote a document at Aparecida in 2007 (largely guided by then-Cardinal Bergoglio), alongside the usual recommendations about evangelization, they corrected a formula from a similar meeting at Medellin, Colombia in1968. Instead of  “a preferential option for the poor,” they spoke of “a preferential and evangelical option for the poor.”

One dimension of the evangelical option often recommended in the document is an appreciation of popular devotions and even folk Catholicism. The bishops at Aparecida were profoundly rightly to do that.

I have on my mantle a statue of St. Barbara, which I bought in Brazil years ago. Brazilian friends tell me she’s the Catholic saint (she holds a chalice to her breast and leans on a sword conspicuously shaped like the Cross). But she also represents one of the African orixás, the gods and goddesses of Candomblé, who are a pretty fluid bunch. My Barbara is, variously, Olokun or Iansã or Oyá – and maybe it doesn’t stop there.

I wouldn’t have a merely pagan statue in the house. But this one shows a common and shrewd practice by Catholic missionaries. They built on indigenous beliefs and practices that embody some portion of the truth. The Jesuits who converted the Iroquois and Algonquins looked for, and found, the rudiments of Catholic “sacraments” in native practices and worked from there. Even the great image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has associations with the traditional Meso-American Mother-Goddess Tonantzin.

It’s what has come to be known as inculturation, in the best sense of the word. Instead of reducing the Faith to what people are willing to hear, as usually happens today, the wiser missionaries drew native spiritualities towards Catholicity. Anyone who has traveled with eyes open in Mexico or Central and South America knows that the process is far from complete, even more than 500 years after Columbus set foot on these shores. But if the spirit is flowing in the right direction, it works.  

You can, I suppose, dismiss all this, calling it and many other practices “folk Catholicism” and try to ignore it, as if it would be better if we tried to turn the mass of world Catholics into strict philosophers and theologians. But your mother or grandmother didn’t have a devotion to the Sacred Heart or the Immaculate Conception because of some theory. Once upon a time, men and women saints – and even Jesus and Mary – were treated more like powerful members of the family. Mary especially, because it’s common knowledge that a good woman has the time to listen – and will help get the word to her busy Son.


          Yesterday in Aparecida

Dogma, of course, is also important. Since Vatican II popular devotions dried up and, with them, most popular Catholicism. Some theologians I deeply admire – notably Cardinal Ratzinger – both valued those old devotions and said that they sometimes went too far, which they certainly did.

But we’re in a different moment now. John Paul II was the great world figure who brought Catholicism back onto the world stage as a respected moral voice. Benedict XVI was – and is – quite probably the most deeply intelligent man alive. Neither, however, was really able to turn the cultural tide that continues to overrun the Church in developed countries.

I’m going to use an exotic reference here to explain a crucial truth. Antonio Gramsci, the noted Italian Communist philosopher during World War II, used to advise the more supple Marxists to pay close attention to how the Jesuits carried out the Counter-Reformation. They developed a cultura capillare, a “capillary” culture, meaning it reached into every nook and cranny of society. As such, it was essentially impossible to dislodge. Communists, he believed, needed to do the same.

In many ways, that’s how we’ve gotten the modern liberal hegemony, even in large swaths of the Catholic Church.

Francis is not the charismatic figure JPII was, nor is he an intellectual like B16. But as his words at Aparecida yesterday show – and as his other acts and words are intended to be understood – he’s working in a line little appreciated in the developed world, but that forms the model for faith and practice virtually everywhere else. Popular Catholicism is Catholicism. What else could a universal Church be?

How this popular Catholicism meshes with the necessary dogmatic dimension, of course, remains a large question. Ratzinger was the culmination of two centuries of German scholarship in theology and Scripture studies – much of which took an unfortunate turn.  He turned it right again.

It may seem unlikely, but there’s much in Ratzinger’s work that speaks to the need for a popular Catholicism and would be fruitful to read together with Francis’s actions. They are very different souls, of course. But this is just one more area in which Catholicism can bring together and harmonize – inculturate, if you want – things we might never otherwise suspect belong together.

In our current situation, it’s at least worth a try. Francis certainly believes so.


Robert Royal
is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is
The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (31)Add Comment
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written by ib, July 25, 2013
This is absolutely spot on. And it's truly Thomistic in that it brings together all the various faculties and powers in human nature and unites them in a Roman Catholic way of life. Well said, Dr. Royal!

We are constantly being told these days that what is needed is a renewal of Roman Catholic culture (Shaw's "American Church", Weigel's "Evangelical Catholicism", Topping's "Rebuilding Catholic Culture", etc.), but a culture is not simply a theoretical construct or a once-in-a-while practice. It is an "immanent frame" to use an expression from Charles Taylor, that reaches around and behind everything, as in the capillary culture Dr. Royal mentions. One can look back and get angry or wring one's hands at the partial loss of our former Roman Catholic culture, but this is a defeatist approach.

We are called, like those Catholics of old who faced the Arian Kings in the 5th through 8th centuries, to reforge a robust, popular Roman Catholic culture in the face of grim opposition. Reforging means taking the shards of what was Roman Catholic culture, and together with other orthodox materials, making it whole again. This is no time for defeatism or hand-wringing about the shattered past, but of mending popular Roman Catholic culture in our own time.

This is a superb post, Dr. Royal. Three cheers for Popular Catholicism!
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written by Artur Sebastian Rosman , July 25, 2013
The first paragraph will probably distract most readers from the important argument about folk Catholicism by making them fixate upon current events which are not apposite to the WYD attendance.

It would make more sense to compare the numbers at the Mass to overall attendance in Episcopalian services during any given week in the USA.

The argument about Catholic acculturation is significant enough that it's caught the eye of religious thinker across the spectrum. It's been covered by liberals like Andrew Greely (RIP), moderates like Philip Jenkins, orthodox theologians like Stratford Caldecott, and unclassifiable phenomena like John Zmirak.

I've also taken a stab at it from the angle of how Catholicism has both absorbed and preserved the world's intellectual and indigenous heritage, especially because modernity is so bad at doing the same in the online "Pagan Symbols and the Coming Christianity."
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, July 25, 2013
There is a charming little chapel near Aix-en-Provence, dedicated to Sainte Victoire, virgin and martyr. Now, near this spot, Gaius Marius dedicated a temple to Victory, following the great battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC, in which he defeated the the Teutones and Ambrones, 90,000 of whom were killed and 20,000 captured.

Much of the fabric of the chapel is clearly Roman work and the angel bearing laurel wreaths in one hand and palm fronds in the other bears a strong resemblance to the carving of Νίκη from Ephesus.
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written by Manfred, July 25, 2013
Today is the forty-fifth anniversary of the issuance of Humanae Vitae (July 25, 1968). #14 of that document, in which the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul VI, states it is never permissible to do evil in order to achieve good. When one looks at Catholic practice in terms of contraception throughout the world, especially the developed countries and Obama's HHS Mandate, is anyone assured? It is safe to say that billions of people are living in a constant state of Mortal Sin. I don't care how many words are written or spoken-facts are real and have substance and they have a direct bearing on where each of us will spend eternity.
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 25, 2013
Well, for starters, to say one wants a "Roman" Catholic culture, one must have a "Roman" Catholic liturgy. As Laszlo Dobszay, Msgr. Gamber, etc, etc have demonstrated, the liturgy of the Novus Ordo (committee) Mass, as currently implemented, that is, with the suppression of the Roman Canon (euphemistically titled "E.P. #1) is emptied of and unconnected with the "Roman" Catholic culture. And as Dobszay, et al have stated, one doesn't have to accept and fall into the warring progressive/traditionalist camps to admit this gigantic problem.

We cannot and will not have a robust "Roman Catholic culture" without "reforging" the Novus Ordo Mass into an authentic "Roman Catholic liturgy." This is why Ratzinger/Benedict collaborated with Dobszay, Gamber et al.
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written by Sir Mark, July 25, 2013
Am I the only one who hates the language "preferential option"? The adjective "preferential" does not properly modify the noun "option". The wording is practically meaningless. An option is preferred, not preferential.
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written by Ray Hunkins, July 25, 2013
Thought provoking Dr. Royal. Thank you.
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written by Howard, July 25, 2013
AMEN.
The software thinks that "AMEN" is too short. It needs to learn that some words, including "Amen", "Hallelujah", and ABOVE ALL "Jesus" say more than might be expected from the number of letters.
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written by Boniface, July 26, 2013
Popular Catholicism, yes. Catholicism that glories in maintaining pagan customs? No. The Church Fathers would have never kept statues they knew to be representations of Zeus or Hermes, even if they were disguised as saints.

The problem is it starts here with making a connection but never goes beyond it. This "popular stage" should be introductory for new cultures, but with inculturation as commonly understood, it just stops there and becomes an excuse for laziness in never completely evangelizing them populace. The fact is, the vast swaths of central and south american Catholics are barely evangelized and very poorly catechized, and we cover it up by inventing "inculturation" to explain it away. If this is the future of the Church, it is sad.

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written by Maggie-Louise, July 26, 2013
I keep getting on the train at Back Bay only to discover that the train is going only as far as South Station. (Bostonians will understand.) I five-minute ride that I mistook for a journey that would take me to the end of my life.

When I came into the Church the first time and was just beginning to appreciate its depth and beauty, the local archbishop was visiting various sections of the city with the intention of turning the Catholic Church into a Protestant church (I knew the language). Well, that was a short ride.

Coming into the Church the second time, I discovered the wonderful mind and heart of Pope Benedict, who, once again, opened to me all the treasures that the Church offered to mind, soul, senses, and how wonderful it was to rediscover what I had had only a taste of before. It turns out to have been another short ride from Back Bay to South Station.

Once again, after just a few short years, it seems as if the Church is going all fuzzy again. How long before the stage replaces the altar and the guitars replace the choral chant, and who knows where the tabernacle will end up this time?

Sir Mark: Thanks for your remarks. Now, if we could only get editors to capitalize the verbs (especially short ones) in titles, we'd have made great strides in grammar.

Right on, Mr. Boniface!
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written by Robert Royal, July 26, 2013
Boniface, you make a valid point, but I was careful to say that the current has to run from pagan to Christian understanding. My St. Barbara is not a "disguised" goddess, it's a representation of one way evangelizers drew indigenous culture into the Church. If we're not going to be willing to work with pagan impulses that need to be converted to the fullness of Faith, none of us has a chance, because all of us have undigested idols inside of us that need to be converted to Christianity. The half-catechized regions of Latin America you mention are not so simply because of "inculturation." Rather, there were not enough hands for the size of the task, and a fuller inculturation still needs to go ahead. Francis, in my view, is working along those very lines.
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written by Romy1, July 26, 2013
Thank you, Boniface. I totally agree. Folk Catholicism in South American has gone on for 500 years now. Is that as far as they can go? Is that not called paternalism? Or we may call it something else when we keep using the same methods but expect different results.

"Dogma, of course, is also important". I am very sorry to say that I could not read past that. Dogma is the orphan no one wants to adopt. It's not for the masses, one might say. God forbid we have budding theologians!
Dr. Royal, do you not think that accommodating the sinister mutation of a pagan "saint" and grafting her myth onto Catholicism is not condescending? It may even be evil.

Popular devotions are a great way to get started in the faith for some, and they are a great way for others to broaden their relationship to God or simply seek comfort but they should not become the object of faith. I fear that they often become a substitute for a deeper understanding of the faith used by persons who don't want to deal with all those nettlesome "rules" and dogma. If there are so many millions going to the Aparecida, why is Pentacostalism making such inroads? How many of those people visiting the shrine also regularly attend Protestant services? Nobody wants to ask and, nobody wants to know.

Our message has to be clear: There are priorities in our faith that are fairly simple and easy to understand - even for the most destitute and illiterate among us. Kids are especially smart because God gives them a wisdom that is truly remarkable. I taught 11-year-olds for CCD, and they always wanted the substance of faith first. God endowed them with the grace to understand. We have to be honest with people when we evangelize them but be so in such a way that is hopeful and full of love. It can be done.

If the popular devotions brought more people to the faith, and if we saw that there were many fruits from that, I would say, yes, keep that going. But it certainly cannot hurt to embark on a strong catechesis that pierces the hearts of Catholics, especially those who have had little of it for centuries. It may be painful at first but the results are joyful! This depends, however, on the bishops. If they don't soon adopt the orphan, Dogma, we will continue to see the slide to Protestantism and the "desaparecida" of the sacraments.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 26, 2013
From: "This Tremendous Lover", by Fr. Eugene Boylan, published 1946:

"Intellectual Catholics, therefore, have need of knowing something of theology and philosophy; and, indeed, all Catholics of any education would do well to keep their knowledge of the Church's doctrine up to a sound standard. Where theology is read by the laity, it is usually rather from the point of view of apologetic argument than from that of a dogmatic foundation for true devotion. We would rather see the reverse. Granted that such meat is not for everyone, it is still quite true that there are a considerable number of Catholics who, if not starving, are at least undernourished for want of a proper diet of Catholic doctrine."

And this wonderful line from "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, speaking of the Blessed Virgin:

"The nursery tale could not vie with Her in simplicity, the wisest theologians could not match Her in profundity."

How often does one hear the Blessed Virgin spoken of in such terms? Not often enough.

St. Peter: What was the ground and reason of their hope? ... And be ready always to give an answer to every man; literally, ready always for an apology to every man.

That takes more than popular devotion, I think.




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written by Robert Royal, July 26, 2013
The irritation and misreading in some of these comments convinces me I was right to take up this subject, however briefly. Romy1, it's too bad you quit where you did - if indeed you really did stop there. Otherwise, you might have read about how Joseph Ratzinger often spoke and wrote of the need for popular devotions - and how I think we need to read his high speculation alongside a cultural Catholicism, which is going to be what most Catholics at most times primarily practice. Maggie-Louise, you are a careful reader usually. I'm surprised you came away, like Romy1, thinking there's any sort of argument for popular devotion ALONE here. I say again, that Communist Gramsci had it right: you take your ideas and make them "capillary" in the culture and they influence everything. Aquinas said several times that few do and or even capable of doing theology and philosophy. Those of us who can have to be careful not to think one way is the only way. There's a big world that God made out there and most of us would not have done well in trying to evangelize it. There's a reason that God gave us this pope at this time. Maybe we should recognize it and try to figure out why.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 26, 2013
Dr. Royal,

I should have addressed more generally the popular devotion of which you spoke. I see it all the time in the devotion of the faithful parishioners who practice those devotions and whose fidelity to the Church and whose love for our Lord are without question. And I have seen that same popular devotion in the works of Pope Benedict. All I am asking is that those of us who would enjoy a spiritual T-bone steak every now and then also need to be fed.

So many priests simply hand out the same devotional message over and over again, rather than using it as a springboard for educating these same faithful Catholics toward a deeper understanding. For example, parishioners are only annoyed when the pastor tells them, time and time again, to love those who have hurt them, when the only expression of "love" that they know is inviting someone to tea. They think to themselves, "Yeah, right. It will be a cold day in . . . when that person darkens my door." How about a sermon on the different kinds of love and how each manifests itself? (One could even use a Greek and Latin word or two!) That would not be too hard and might even bring some positive results. If you can stand one more quotation, "Except a man's reach exceed his grasp, what's a heaven for?"

In the '60s, we heard so much about "meeting people where they are." That's fine, but then you don't leave them there. One doesn't start off with Aquinas but there are certainly many Catholic classics on the shelves that will expand the mind as well as the heart that are well within the intellectual abilities of every Catholic who can interpret a baseball score card. For myself, I read very little that is written after 1949. I find that most modern writers have lost (or never found) the sparkle and the joy of spiritual writing and it is pretty pedantic.

I don't discount popular Catholic culture, but I find it far more beautiful and touches the heart more deeply if it is supported by a more than superficial knowledge of what one actually professes to believe.

Thank you for your person response.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 26, 2013
"There's a reason that God gave us this pope at this time."

This is exactly the response I have made every time I have been asked what I thought about the new Holy Father. Who am I to second guess the Holy Spirit? If John Paul Ii was the "just right" person for his time and Benedict was the perfect man for the job in his time, one assumes that Francis carries the same divine affirmation. I have never expressed aloud any doubt that I might have felt and have immediately dismissed it for exactly that reason, knowing that, by the time his words make it to the local paper they may bear no resemblance to the words that came out of his mouth.
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written by pamela, July 26, 2013
As a recent convert ( completed) to Catholicism after being raised in Judaism, I am quite disappointed in what I have witnessed within the Church . I was fortunate to begin my journey to Catholicism through a Messianic Jewish Bible study group,(for four years) so that by the time I entered the R.C.I.A. program I had a fairly well formed knowledge of Scripture. I have discovered just how valuable that formation has been in the development of this passion and love, that I have for Christ and His Church. As most converts will tell you, it is because we know it is the Truth. I am continually dismayed at the lack of catechesis among most parishioners that I encounter, and even more dismayed at the generic rhetoric of the homilies, absent of any clear teaching of anything other than these vague references to social justice. The deafening silence of most Bishops while the culture is crumbling makes me wonder just what is it that provokes such "fear" in speaking the Truth? The Catholic Faith is not as "difficult" or "complicated" . I respectfully submit to you that this idea of only being able to reach other cultures by compromising the teachings seems to be "more of the same" watered down versions of Catholicism that I believe, is precisely what is causing the Exodus of "cradle Catholics" from the Church. When the Truth becomes muddled with the acceptance of beliefs and customs from everywhere, isn't that "relativism"?? How could that possibly be a means to a greater evangelization? Why does there seem to be such reluctance to teach the truth , which is
quite simple? Jesus did not concern Himself with socially engineering His word..He instructed His apostles to go forth and spread the Truth.. can someone, anyone, explain to me what is the fear that has permeated the Church in teaching the way the Lord has told us? One does not require a Masters Degree in Theology to understand. If one truly believes that other cultures are not capable of understanding this beautiful simplicity, then is that not the same as saying they are not capable of receiving Christ?? It was in His simplicity and humility , that the Lord gave us the example of just how to live this worldly life. I lived for 5 years in Mexico and had the experience to familiarize myself with their vast indigenous culture, which is still practicing a form of Catholicism that is co-mingled with native customs and practices. The problem is in the teaching..they were not properly cathechized...It should not be that complicated and I am quite saddened by what I see as the continuation of this strange idea that we have to compromise the Truth in order to evangelize.
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written by Robert Royal, July 27, 2013
Romy1, I think we're in agreement that 1) the TRUTHS of the Faith need to be passed on, and 2) the Church is largely failing at that for reasons not always easy to identify. Even JPII and Benedict, whose approaches I personally was more comfortable with, don't seem to have been able to move the needle much on knowledge, which may now become a long slog. Where I think we''re clashing - and this may be one way Francis is trying to stir things up - is what else to do. We can try further to teach as we have been - some of us never gave up on that anyway, and some people I know sacrificed a great deal to stay with orthodox Catholicism. I think we could easily double or triple energy and resources dedicated to this and still not be dealing with the challenge fully.

But maybe some new things can come into the picture as well. Popular energies might energize the dogmatic work. Vatican II gave rise to a popular Catholicism that was neither popular nor very Catholic. Maybe - it's too early to tell for certain - Francis has the gifts to give us the right version of what went wrong then, to take the rich recent heritage of the previous two papacies and bring it to the people. I don't know. Lumen Fidei is much the work of his predecessor, but it gives me hope.
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written by Avery Tödesulh, July 27, 2013
I say NO! to any such thing as popular Catholicism. We should make it as difficult intellectually and arid spiritually as possible. It should be required to know the panegyrics of St. Fortunatus (c.530–609), especially the most moving one to King Chilperic whom he praises as a true scion of God's grace, compassionate and merciful. No one should be allowed to approach the font of baptism without this being memorized! Perhaps all Mass attendance should be made compulsory to go alone, just the lone worshipper and the lone priest. As for the Latin Mass, I say bring back the Leonianum Rite! Or what about putting it back into Koine! No sniveling half-measures of so-called "traditionalists"! NO, NO, NO to Popular Catholicism!
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 27, 2013
Check out the photos of the Cathedral of St. Sabastian in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. It looks for all the world just like a modern version of a Mayan or Incan pyramid, complete with flat top (although, to be fair, no altar, and the long stairway for rolling down the heads of the human sacrificial beings. One would be hard pressed, looking at the outside, to know the difference. Is this "popular Catholicism" in South America or some failed attempt at inculturation. It gives me the creeps.
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 29, 2013
To Maggie-Louise:

I strongly recommend Ratzinger/Benedict's "Introduction to Christianity," written first in 1968, in the teeth of the storm.

I do strongly believe that The Roman Catholic Church needs to awake and realize that "culture" flows from "cult," and that the cult of the western Church is largely emptied out in the Novus Ordo of The Holy Mass, because the Church, at least in the U.S., is suppressing the traditional Eucharistic Prayer (EP #1) aka The Roman Canon. You can't have a culture if you don't "cultivate it."
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 29, 2013
To Dr. Royal, and all responding to the theme of "Popular Catholicism"

I should have directed my 2nd paragraph from above ("To Maggie-Louise") to Dr. Royal et al:

I share the joyful reception of "popular Catholicism." And yet, popular Catholicism is in great danger of disintegrating without a core Catholic culture. I strongly believe that The Roman Catholic Church needs to awake and realize that "culture" flows from "cult," and that the cult of the western Church is largely emptied out in the Novus Ordo of The Holy Mass, because the Church, at least in the U.S. and Europe, is suppressing the traditional Eucharistic Prayer (EP #1) aka The Roman Canon. You can't have a culture if you don't "cultivate it." The Novus Ordo format of the Holy Mass, in its main U.S. and European manifestation, i.e., suppressing The Roman Canon (the Eucharistic Prayer of Roman Catholic tradition), is a making this statement: "we reject Roman Catholic culture."
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written by Romy1, July 29, 2013
"Pop" anything is always a bad thing. Abortion is popular, rap music is popular, sexting is popular. What exactly does Popular Catholicism/Devotions mean? It's like having dessert but you never get the main course that you paid for.

It seems that you are still a bit squeamish about doctrine, Dr. Royal. And hand-wringing never solves anything.

I agree that each pope has his own style but today while on his plane Pope Francis used the default answer to a difficult question from a reporter about gay priests: "Who am I to judge?". I can only say that he just have jet lag to make such an answer that I would expect from my uber-liberal Catholic friends.

It looks like we ladies, Mary-Louise, Pamela, and I are the only ones prepared to roll up our sleeves and get into the "pit", as it were. Ideas are free and easy; it's the application part that is tough especially when your bishop does not have your back. We need a Paraclete! Anyone out there? Any bishop want to speak to us about these issues? Do I have to go to Washington, DC and fight for immigration reform or health reform to get the bishops' attention?

No need to respond, Dr. Royal. You are a good sport, and I understand what you mean. But I would like to hear from a bishop, any bishop. God bless you, sir, but do please get rid of that statue and the syncretism it symbolizes.

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written by Chris in Maryland, July 29, 2013
Romy1:

Please be cautious that you are not simply re-iterating the media line on Pope Francis said on this.

Better to wait and see what happens in the matter you allude to, as brought to a head by Sandro Magister.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 29, 2013
Chris,

I read "Intro. to Christianity" many years ago and it is on my shelf. I will pick it up next and read it again. Thank you. Also, I am going to send your paragraph about the Roman Canon to our pastor. I think it would be the "best" thing. second only to the "real thing".

Romi 1: Isn't it always the women who are ready to DO something? That's a great observation. Thank you.

Thank you, Dr. Royal, for putting up with all of us.
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 29, 2013
Thank you Maggie-Louise, especially for your comment on the Roman Canon.

What concerns me in the RC Church is, what on earth does the Church think it is doing with "inculturation" when it has abandoned its own culture? What is the core that Catholics in other cultures are supposed to form around – US popular Catholicism?

I also strongly recommend that all TCT readers read, among many excellent books on the liturgy, two of the most excellent: Laszlo Dobszay's "The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform” and Msgr. Klaus Gamber’s “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background.” These authrors (both now deceased) are highly educated men of Christian arts and liturgy, serene and faithful men of the Church, who were willing to suffer for her sake, and who have demonstrated, without polemics, the fuller truth about the history of the liturgy, and a path forward from what seems to me to be the current N.O. versus E.F. liturgy war of mutual annihilation.
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written by Thomas C. Coleman, Jr., July 29, 2013
Pardon me for being late to this party. If someone else has already pointed this out, then please exucse me for piling on. I do think that it is worth pointing out that the sinister and malevolent Antonio Gramsci died in 1937 and therefore could not have been "the noted Italian Communist philosopher during War II." By the time the first shots of that grat slaughter were fired he had already spun his evil webs and left this world.
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written by Romy1, July 30, 2013
Thank you, Chris, for suggesting Intro. to Christianity. I will put that in for our Catholic book club to read and discuss.

I agree totally that liturgy needs a fuller treatment. It still is somewhat anemic, and I often get the feeling during Mass that the hierarchy is holding quite a bit back in its effort to give liturgy a quality that is appealing to the masses. A liturgy professor told me years ago that it should be a lavish affair, full of experiential significance - visual,aural, spiritual, tactile. It is still not there.

Thanks for the suggestions on liturgy reform reading, also, and I will read them. I fear, however, that without intense catechesis, most parishioners will be even more detached than they already are if there is a reform to a proper liturgy.
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written by Romy1, July 30, 2013
Re Pope Francis's "Who am I to judge?" - Yes, Chris, the press is usually spinning but I do think that they got this one right. Since most of the abuse was of a homosexual nature (the John Jay report), Pope Benedict was right to eliminate this risk by limiting seminary admission to heterosexuals only. If he had decided to proceed in allowing homosexuals and the problems persisted, it would have been hard to justify those admissions after the fact. Liability is an issue here, also. Oh, yes, and Catholic morale. There's that, too. lol

Therefore, Pope Francis's position that as long as one is seeking God and trying to live a chaste life, why not help homosexuals seek the priesthood - seems (to me, anyway) like throwing something up to see if it sticks, or it could be that he is eager to carefully counter his "gay lobby" comment of a few weeks ago. In any event, the media reported that Francis was asked by his assistants to not give the airplane interview.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 30, 2013
It will be interesting to see whether applications to diocesan seminaries dwindle in the coming years if parents cannot be assured of the moral safety of their sons.
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written by Maggie-Louise, July 30, 2013
P.S. I don't think that Pope Francis ever read "Good-bye, Good Men." It is an excellent description of the homosexual influence in seminaries. Lord knows, we don't want to go back to that again.

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