The Catholic faith is rooted in thousands of years of Sacred Tradition and Scripture, our Deposit of Faith. This extensive legacy has been marked by countless episodes of tumultuous history, ages of reformation, periods of stillness and also periods of growth and rebuilding. However, in spite of this, there has been a recent movement towards modernizing the faith. Some might argue that this is a notion that has been prescribed through the ages, that adjusting the practice of the faith with the current times is how history has evolved. I beg to differ.
Through every step of Church history, amidst every heresy and scandal, the Apologetics have reoriented focus onto the origins of the faith, onto the Creator Himself. Never has the Church or the Magisterium opted to redefine the tenets of the faith, instead they have consistently reinforced the teachings of Christ. At each and every crossroads in which a concept has been called into question, a dogma has been formally defined and interpreted in order to ease confusions and to clarify the Truth to the Body of Christ. Until now.
Since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, the theme of “aggiornamento,” a shift towards modernity in the faith, has become the agenda of the Church. (Wimmer, 2022) This monumental council has certainly improved particular aspects of the practice of faith within the Church, but has inarguably altered foundational ideals that have had cataclysmic repercussions. For example, the allowance of vernacular language over Latin was beneficial in allowing more people to fully understand the Mass and played a significant role in increasing accessibility to the Sacraments, however it also contributed to a multitude of liturgical declines. The lessening of Latin undermined the universality of the Church, as the use of one ancient language was a unifying factor in allowing Catholics everywhere to enjoy the Mass and Sacraments in the same way across every church in the world. This move increased the access of native speakers to their own Sacraments, yes, but at what cost? More recently, we have also seen the widespread motion to eliminate the Traditional Latin Mass, which is certainly a result of the cessation of Latin used within Mass and the subsequent loss of traditional liturgical rites.
Since the Second Vatican Council, we have seen various novel inventions of the Church and Papacy that again undermine traditional ideals. In 2019, a massive controversy arose when Pope Francis blessed a pagan Amazonian statue known as the “Pachamama” in the Vatican gardens. (Veritas Vincit, 2019) This spectacle raised major backlash from Catholics around the world and various Church officials. In a crude attempt to commence the beginning of the Amazon Synod, Pope Francis instead introduced paganism and polytheism into the Vatican. This certainly raised scandal, lessened the trust of the Body of Christ in the Magisterium, prompted serious questions into the tenets of the faith, and simply caused widespread confusion, discomfort, and hysteria. I think it is truly contradictory to the rich history of the faith and an imprudent decision on behalf of the Holy Father to cause such scandal and to ripple the waters, whether an inadvertent accident or not.
This is not the first occasion of bizarre displays and communications from the Church in the name of modernity. Most recently, Pope Francis raised widespread controversy to a much larger extent than that previously mentioned when he allowed priests to bless same-sex couples. This prompted extensive questions and perturbation amongst Christians from all denominations, extending past just the Catholic population. It is an objective truth that homosexuality is not ordained by God nor encouraged within the Church, and yet the Holy Father’s announcement of such, whether he intended it to be a solemn blessing against sinfulness or otherwise a remedy of vice, called into question the authority of the Church and the direction in which the faith is falling. In response to the widespread backlash, Pope Francis had said “Solitude is a price you have to pay.” (AP News, 2024) Was this a movement towards appeasing the masses, or extending the blessings of the Lord unto all people? Whether the intent, it was framed in such a way that the traditions of the Church have been severely undermined, and many are viewing this as the steady decline into the rule of modern trends and social justice rather than the adherence to Truth. In fact, it was Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis’ predecessor, who is known for the quote, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!” (Craig, 2017) In this regard, it seems the Holy Father is opting for comfort.
Is the Church truly reorienting itself towards the preservation of popular opinion in its decline to modernity? I suppose that is up to our own discretions. However, it is clear that introducing modernity into the faith is counterproductive, as it undermines the history of the Church and weakens the foundations in which key doctrine, dogma, and teachings are built. It undermines the wisdom of Christ Himself, as He had said that “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) It seems through these various redirections that this truth is being disregarded.
Craig, Mr. Jason. “Made for Greatness?” Those Catholic Men, 23 June 2021, thosecatholicmen.com/articles/made-for-greatness/.
“John, Chapter 15.” USCCB, bible.usccb.org/bible/john/15. Accessed 15 Jan. 2024.
paulsimeon2014. “Pope Francis Blesses Pagan Pachamama Statue in Vatican Gardens.” Veritas Vincit: The Truth Shall Prevail, 12 Dec. 2019, veritas-vincit-international.org/2019/12/12/pope-blesses-pachamama/.
“Pope Acknowledges Resistance to Same-Sex Blessings but Doubles Down ...” AP News, apnews.com/article/vatican-pope-samesex-blessings-e77a1a7c7e86ee330b97c5bd49e8b9c9. Accessed 15 Jan. 2024.
Wimmer, AC. “Vatican II at 60: A Timeline of Key Moments.” Catholic News Agency, Catholic News Agency, 6 Jan. 2024, www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/252520/vatican-ii-timeline-of-key-moments-60th-anniversary.