The Reactionary Utopian July 12, 2007 BEHIND THE TIMES by Joe Sobran Pope Benedict keeps reminding me why I am a Catholic. If I hadn't converted as a boy, I would now. In the space of a few days he has moved to correct the very things that once helped me (along with my own sins) to lose my faith. First, he took steps to restore the ancient Tridentine Rite, commonly known as the Latin Mass. This beautiful liturgy connects today's Church with its ancestors all the way back to the days of persecution in ancient Rome, and its use has given worshippers the sense not only of antiquity, but eternity. I still love the responses I learned as a youth: "Domine, non sum dignus ..." I never understood why anything so gravely beautiful and venerable should be abandoned for jejune modern vernaculars; what was gained by the supposed "reform"? The Novus Ordo liturgy has always made me feel as if I'd dropped in on a slangy Unitarian ceremony. The liturgical "reform," moreover, backfired miserably on its own terms. It impaired belief itself; and Mass attendance, Catholic education, frequent confession, and big families decreased sharply along with belief. These were the opposite of the happy results the liberal reformers confidently predicted, and the Church lost both its authority with Catholics and the wider respect and influence it had enjoyed among Protestants and even in the secular world. The entire world has suffered from the misguided changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council. Try to imagine the solar system if the sun dimmed and lost its attraction for the planets, and you have the idea. If the Council had never occurred, would the U.S. Supreme Court have dared to strike down laws against feticide? Would the Episcopal Church be ordaining sexual perverts today? Such questions answer themselves. The world has never seen so consequential an abdication of authority. It has been like the effect on a family of a father's suicide. The Pope has also reaffirmed the supremacy of the Catholic Church, a doctrine never denied, but certainly soft-pedaled since the disastrous Council. For some reason this has irritated many Protestants, who seem to think their sects can thrive without the strong presence of Catholicism. Incredibly, one Protestant editor has referred to Catholicism as a "denomination," rather like Mormonism. Does he know what the word means? He might as well speak of the sun and moon as "planets." Like its Founder, the Catholic Church has an unending power to inspire hatred in those who reject it. The world's hate is one of the proofs of its divine origin and authority. After 2,000 years, it is still persecuted, still treated as a threat. But no worldly persecution could have damaged it as much as Vatican II. And yet the Church never compromised the essentials of faith and morals. Amid the hysteria of a "population explosion" in the Sixties, even the weak Pope Paul VI, against tremendous pressure, refused to relax the Church's condemnation of contraception. Now look. White Europe is depopulated and overrun with aliens; its very survival is in doubt. But the last thing man gives up, even in the face of death and damnation, is his pride, and very few Europeans, even in formerly Catholic countries, can bring themselves to admit, "We were wrong. The sexual revolution has been a calamity for our civilization. The Church was exactly right." Europe could finally see that communism was a dreadful failure, but it still can't bear to repent. Even as the end draws near, the syphilitic Prodigal Son is still whoring away. God wants to save us so much more than we want to be saved! As G.K. Chesterton, one of the greatest and most joyously funny writers in the English language, wrote seventy years ago, "The Church is always in advance of the world. That is why it is said to be behind the times." "Only the Catholic Church," he also observed, "can save a man from the degraded slavery of being a child of his age." It's ennobling to belong to a church centuries behind the times, as they say, and indifferent to the fashions of the day; but it's supremely undignified to belong to a church five minutes behind the times while always huffing and puffing to catch up. Benedict's papacy is already a glorious one. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Read this column on-line at "http://www.sobran.com/columns/2007/070716.shtml". Copyright (c) 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate, www.griffnews.com. This column may not be published in print or Internet publications without express permission of Griffin Internet Syndicate. You may forward it to interested individuals if you use this entire page, including the following disclaimer: "SOBRAN'S and Joe Sobran's columns are available by subscription. For details and samples, see http://www.sobran.com/e-mail.shtml, write PR@griffnews.com, or call 800-513-5053."