Post-conciliardom may be criticised in many aspects, using various arguments, but there is no such as efficient a tool as bare numbers: one may notice everywhere a decline or even a dramatic plunge in practically all respects. This is why the proponents of unsuccessful post-conciliar experiments usually do not refer to pre-conciliar surveys, and when they face the unfavourable facts, they explain the falling curves of the diagrams with cultural revolution, secularisation of the society or militant atheism. Somehow they have not reckoned that the altered attitude of the Church could support these trends, instead of impede them.
Recently, however, another blow hit the worshippers of post-conciliardom. I cannot say that it came out of the blue, as the black clouds have been gathering over the Church for a long time. I do not believe that it will enlighten and awake our bishops, vicars and ordinary priests from their sweet lethargy of complacency, just as similar signs in heaven and earth, shaking the Church on the West, did not save it from the current crisis. TNS company, commissioned by a newspaper, conducted a research, according to which (maintaining the norms of such a project) in Poland, apart from so called “believing, but not practicing” there are also believing atheists and believing but not in what the Church believes. Generally over the half of the respondents declared their lack of faith in the death of Christ or in His Resurrection, let alone Purgatory or Hell. The researchers did not ask, probably because of compassion, about the attitude to the moral teaching of the Church because the number of people identifying themselves with the Catholic faith would drop even more.
This is the effect of a bizarre time called “the Spring of the Church”: contrary to the calendar season, not only it did not come after the winter (because the pre-conciliar years could not be called like that), but it did not come at all, despite the fact that its arrival had been announced several times. In fact, there were also unorthodox elements, such as papa Ratzinger, who spoke about the Church resembling “a sinking boat; a boat which takes water from all sides” and about the false interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, but who listened to that old German in red shoes and lace? A lowered voice of a truly humble pope, unbearably buzzing over the ears of the clergy, basking in the post-conciliar sun, has been fortunately muffled by the media racket of his successor who, while removing the remnants of Benedict’s pontificate, is shouting, with his thumb up, that “the Church has never had it so good.” So why to change anything, if everything is so great?
This reminds me of a conversation with one of those priests who stubbornly claim that “had not it been for the Council, the situation would be even worse” (at least it is not bad) during which he told me that children and the youth he met at school did not know even “Our Father” and I could not believe it. “This is basic! The prayer which one knows from the Mass and devotions!” I said. Today I look on the effect of post-conciliar downfall on so called Catholics with no less astonishment: religious ignorance among such people has not been alien to me but the lack of faith in fundamental truths is a different matter. And I only regret that questions on the rate of attending the Mass and receiving Communion were not asked in the survey – maybe 1000 persons not attending Masses at all were asked? In the other case it would be another confirmation of the fiasco of liturgical reforms, as the “simple and transparent Mass in Polish” were to contribute to the better understanding of the faith itself! It is not “dark pre-conciliardom where people said Rosary during the Mass and even when they sang in Latin they did not understand anything.” And what kind of piety was it? Simple and folk one, not like the enlightened modern post-conciliar Catholicism…
And usually in such moments I see the beginning of the documentary on Paul VI in which the Italian speaker describes the Church of the times of Pius XII, presenting it as a being “strong of her own truth” and “proud of her own tradition.” After the last council we have a rickety Church as if not sure that she is the guardian of the only and invariable truth, and because of that she is utterly fuzzy and blurred, which is visible the most in grotesque ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. This feeling has been intensified by the Francis’ pontificate: when it seemed that Benedict, having indicated what are the sources of these errors, went to exceptional lengths in order to restore the right course, someone new has jerked the Peter’s Nave in the opposite direction. The Church, ceasing being powerful with her distinctness, ceased also not only to be the herald of God’s will but simply to be appealing. Former Catholics and also converts mentioned many times what attracted them in Catholicism: its conviction and clear announcing of its exclusiveness as the Church of Christ, relentlessness towards the world and steadiness in the face of trends, and all of it expressed in the majestic and mysterious liturgy, resounding in the ancient language in speech and chant, where precious vestments and vessels loomed in the incense.
Then, what can attract to the Church those who left her or are connected with her only by the custom of attending Sunday Masses? We already know the effects of sugary, post-conciliar Catholicism, we know what fruit the new rite has born, we can see the figures but no quality in them. Instead of sermons explaining the truths of the faith one can listen to another letter from the bishops or rectors, quotations of “The Little Prince” or wise words of some Buddhist monk, and it all boils down to the formula: “God loves you just the way you are.” How one can talk about the need of improvement, conversion, if one does not indicate the need of penance (the various manifestations of which were limited by Sad Paul)? How to picture the eternal prize in Heaven to the faithful if one cannot emphatically express the truth about satan and hell prepared for it and its angels and for all who will not abide the God’s commandments? Finally, how explain the necessity of opposing the modern world, hitting Catholics in all ways possible, to the people when its favourite is the current pope, because he speaks vaguely and is different than “panzer” Benedict XVI?
Paul VI is said to have considered two visions of the Church during the Council: a small and hot one or a big but lukewarm one. It means: to maintain her Tradition or to liberate her form. Eventually, the result was similar to that described in a famous speech of Winston Churchill given to the prime minister Arthur Chamberlain, considering peace talks with the third Reich: They had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war. The conciliar popes had a choice: to dialogue with the world or to wage war with it. They chose the dialogue. They would have war anyways.