The blog of the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny posted a two part interview (here and here) of The European with the German writer Martin Mosebach, author of The Heresy of Formlessness, which if you haven’t read you should.
The brief interview is worth a full read, but I present just a few questions and answers of note below (with my emphases):
The European: Don’t we also have to prepare for cases of abuse in Catholic institutions in other countries? In your view how should Pope Benedict react to them?
Mosebach: The Church of course always has to be prepared for the fact that individual educators will sexually abuse students in her schools and boarding schools. That’s the nature of things. Wherever children are instructed, personalities with pedophile inclinations are always found. We have to ask ourselves, however, why just in the years immediately following the Second Vatican council the sexual crimes of priests occurred so frequently. There is no way of avoiding the bitter realization: the experiment of “aggiornamento”, the assimilation of the Church to the secularized world, has failed in a terrible way. After the Second Vatican Council, most priests dropped their clerical garb, ceased celebrating the mass daily and did not pray the breviary daily any more. The post-conciliar theology did everything in its power to make people forget the traditional image of the priest. All the institutions were called into question which had given the priest aid in his difficult and solitary life. Should we be astonished if many priests in these years could no longer view themselves as priests in the traditional manner? The clerical discipline that was deliberately eliminated had been largely formulated by the Council of Trent. At that time the mission was likewise to resist the corruption of the clergy and to reawaken the consciousness of the sanctity of the priesthood. It is nice that the leaders of the church ask the victims of abuse for forgiveness but it will be still more important if they tighten the reins of discipline in the sense of the Council of Trent and return to a priesthood of the Catholic Tradition.
The European: In the late sixties there were many upheavals: the Cultural Revolution in China, the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia, the student riots here at home, the Vietnam War – and the Second Vatican Council. Can we name all these upheavals in the same breath?
Mosebach: 1968 is, in my opinion, a phenomenon that is still not sufficiently understood. Here in Germany we like to occupy ourselves in this context with happy memories of communes and battles over the right interpretation of Marx. In reality, 1968 is an “axial year” in history with anti-traditionalist movements in the entire world that are only in appearance fully separate from each other. I am convinced that, when sufficient distance exists, the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Roman Liturgical Reform will be understood to be closely connected.
The European: The controversy surrounding the FSSPX (the Society of St. Pius X) has yielded no visible success for the Vatican up till now. In your view what does this group bring to the Catholic Church other than its love for the old liturgy?
Mosebach: Other than the old liturgy? What is there more important for the Church than the liturgy? The liturgy is the body of the Church. It is faith made visible. If the liturgy falls ill, so does the entire Church. That is not a merely a hypothesis but a description of the current situation. One can’t present it drastically enough: the crisis of the Church has made possible that her greatest treasure, her Arcanum, was swept out of the center to the periphery. The FSSPX and especially its founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, are due the historical glory to have preserved for decades and kept alive this most important gift. Therefore the Church owes the FSSPX above all gratitude. Part of this gratitude is to work to lead the FSSPX out of all kinds of confusion and radicalization.
The European: The FSSPX don’t appear to be heading towards Rome.
Mosebach: In the discussions with the FSSPX what is important is the patient labor of persuasion, as is appropriate in spiritual questions. The discussions appear to be proceeding in a very good atmosphere. If one day it is successful in integrating once again the FSSPX in the full unity of the Church, the papacy of Benedict XVI would have obtained a success whose importance exceeds by far the number of FSSPX members.