Clericalism is one of the bugbears in the Catholic Church. Especially since the second Vatican Council and under Pope Francis we are supposed to be dumping clericalism for consultation. It is the “church of the people” now…except when the people reject the trendy agenda of the progressives and wish to maintain the faith and traditions of the historic church.

In a breath taking display of clericalism Fr Thomas Reese SJ writes here in America magazine on the latest moves to reform the liturgy. He is full of ideas about more Euchariatic prayers, a more culturally relevant liturgy, lay celebration, deacons empowered to anoint and most disturbingly, a new suppression of the Latin Mass. So he writes,

It is time to return to bishops the authority over the Tridentine liturgy in their dioceses. The church needs to be clear that it wants the unreformed liturgy to disappear and will only allow it out of pastoral kindness to older people who do not understand the need for change. Children and young people should not be allowed to attend such Masses.

For the phrase “The church needs to be clear that it wants the unreformed liturgy to disappear” read “You need to be clear that Fr Thomas Reese SJ and other like minded progressives want the unreformed liturgy to disappear.”

We do not celebrate the Tridentine Mass at our parish. We celebrate the Novus Ordo informed by the Tridentine Rite from which it is derived. Our Mass is celebrated ad orientem with well trained and reverent altar boys, a classical music program and reverent reception of the Eucharist. A visitor some time ago (who I sensed was an ex-priest) collared me after mass and asked indignantly, “Haven’t you guys ever heard of Vatican 2?” I replied, “We embrace Vatican 2 but we reject the abuses of the council.”

If I were an aging progressive like Fr Reese I would be terrified of the growing popularity of the Latin Mass and traditionally celebrated Novus Ordo Masses. I would be especially worried about the large number of young people and young parents of large families who are devoted to traditional worship. That’s clearly why he wants to ban children and young people. If he visited our parish (and the other two traditional parishes in our town) he would no doubt be alarmed at the number of large mini buses in the parking lot and the crowds of kids running around after mass playing tag. I expect Fr Reese would also be dismayed at our parish school which has a classical curriculum and teaches Latin.

His suggestion that traditional worship be suppressed is outrageous. What, shall the ushers in our churches have an age test before admitting worshippers? “May I see your driver’s license please? The bishop has said only old people who can’t cope with change may attend Mass today.”

What troubles so many progressives is that Tridentine worship and traditionally celebrated Novus Ordo masses are not dying out. They are proliferating. Furthermore, a significant number of seminarians long for traditional worship–not the trendy changes Fr Reese envisions.

I agree with Fr Reese that constant renewal of the liturgy through a return to the sources is vital. I have put my ideas out there in my book Letters on Litirgywritten as letters to a seminarian.

The old joke about not being able to negotiate with a liturgist keeps echoing. The most shocking example of clericalism was (and continues to be) the imposition of novelties by well meaning but dunderheaded progressives. The irony being that they themselves have been the greatest critics of clericalism.

Are they really in favor of a “church of the people”? If so let them listen to the voices of the increasing numbers who wish for the Catholic Church in her life and worship to be faithful to the rich heritage we have received.