O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
The following section has been written with some misgivings. For on the one hand it leads up, in a subsequent part, to events that are startling, obscene, desecrating, which have taken place in buildings consecrated by ritual and by history, that the still practising Catholic may prefer to ignore. While on the other hand it deals with the Church’s teaching on the Mass, or rather, on what the Church taught about the Mass when it still spoke with an authority that was recognised even by those who refused to accept it.
It is therefore necessary, to clear the understanding of those who may not have been acquainted with that teaching, to glance at a few essential aspects concerning it.
The Mass was not merely a service. It was the central act in the Church’s life, a great mystery by which bread and wine were consecrated and so became the actual body and blood of Christ. It was the sacrifice of Calvary enacted over again, an earnest of the salvation effected by Christ who was there, under the sacred species of bread (‘This is my Body’) and wine, upon the altar.
Whenever a Catholic found himself in strange surroundings, the Mass was there as a rallying point for his worship. So it had been, with but a few minor alterations, for Latin Catholics from the earliest Christian centuries (beginning, roughly, from the seventh century) on record. And so it would remain, the Church taught and the faithful believed, until the end of time, a bulwark against error that inspired an air of sanctity – or impressive hanky-panky, call it what you will – that was recognised by devotee and disbeliever alike.
Typical of those who knew this was the Liberal and Protestant Augustine Birrell, 1850-1933, who was sometime Secretary for Ireland. ‘It is the Mass that matters’, he said. ‘It is the Mass that makes the difference, so hard to define, between a Catholic country and a Protestant one, between Dublin and Edinburgh.’
The unique quality of what may be called, in pedestrian terms, a landmark in religion, has always influenced the plans of those who set out to overcome the Church. The Mass has always stood in their path, a stumbling block that had to be demolished before their attack could make headway. It was denigrated as a base superstition, a mere operation of the hands, accompanied by words, that deceived the over-credulous. The assault against it was heaviest, and partly successful, in the sixteenth century; and when the Church recovered its breath it called a Council that took its name from the little town of Trent, which later became an Italian province, where the principles of the Counter-Reformation were defined. And those principles took shape, largely, as a defence of the focal point that had never been lost sight of – the Mass.
It was codified by Pius V, the future saint who had started life as a shepherd boy and who, in keeping with Rome’s verdict that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn had been invalid, declared that their child, the English Queen Elizabeth I, was therefore both heretic and bastard. And from then on the echoes of his firm, uncompromising yet always dignified thunder had lived on in association with the old Romanesque cathedral of Trent, the place that gives its name, Tridentine, to the order of the Mass that was intended to pass into general use for the whole Church, and for all time.
The Missal he drew up, and in which this was decreed, leaves no doubt as to that: ‘At no time in the future can a priest ever be forced to use any other way of saying Mass. And in order once for all to preclude any scruples of conscience and fear of ecclesiastical penalties and censures, we declare herewith that it is by virtue of our Apostolic authority that we decree and prescribe that this present order of ours is to last in perpetuity and never at a future date can it be revoked or legally amended.’
The decree specifically warned ‘all persons in authority, of whatever dignity or rank, Cardinals not excluded, and to command them as a matter of strict obedience never to use or permit any ceremonies and Mass prayers other than those contained in this Missal.’
This was repeated, as though to make doubly clear, even to those who were already converted, that he was speaking as Pope: ‘And so this Council reaches the true and genuine doctrine about this venerable and divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist – the doctrine which the Catholic Church has always held, and which She will hold until the end of the world, as She learned it from Christ Our Lord Himself, from the Apostles, and from the Holy Ghost.’
Few Papal assertions have been more explicit. The Mass, as generally known, was to be preserved, unaltered and unalterable, for all time. But Cardinal Bugnini, who had gone on clinging to the office after his membership of a secret society had become known, and Paul VI, who affected to be unaware of any such revelation, made short work of Pope St. Pius V’s pronouncement.
It later became known that some twenty years before Vatican Two made pulp of the traditional Mass book, a priest-professor had been detailed to draw up plans for gradual liturgical changes; while in December 1963 the Council introduced new practices and a new phraseology that, at first, made little impact on the public.
But now Pope Paul and Cardinal Bugnini, assisted by Cardinal Lercaro, went straight ahead, with the assistance of non-Catholics whom they called ‘authoritative experts of sacred theology.’
The experts called in to amend the Most Holy Sacrament of the Catholic Church comprised one or two Protestants; Canon Ronald Jasper; Robert McAfee Brown, a Presbyterian; Brother Thurion, who was a Lutheran; a Calvinist, a Rabbi, and a certain Joachim Jeremias, a one-time Professor of Gottingen University who denied the divinity of Christ.
Bugnini said that they were merely present as observers, that they had no voice when the changes were discussed. But apart from the fact that they claimed to have played an active part in the Concilium, that they commented upon it and made suggestions, one need only ask: why, without some set purpose, were they ever invited to participate?
Whatever this very mixed bag decided, said Pope Paul, would be ‘in accordance with God’s will’. It was also intended to correspond to the temper of ‘modern man’. And what emerged from their deliberations was a Novus Ordo (New Mass) missal, a veritable sign of the times which meant that the era of a ‘MiniMass,’ and of ‘pop’ music in Church, with all the profanities it led to, was about to begin.
Such innovations extracted a blind obedience from those who believed that conformity to whatever was said and done by the priesthood, especially in church, was a virtue. Some who questioned the changes were told not to presume any further. It was said to be contumacious, and displeasing to God; while the fact that many were resolute in opposing the changes, and turned their backs upon the Novus Ordo, called forth the charge that they were in mortal sin, and inflicting another wound on the loving Father who was waiting to welcome them.
After all, the Vatican and its spokesman-in-chief, Pope Paul, had approved the changes. A revolution had been achieved, and it was all for the good. The old Roman Missal had become a back number. The progressives were cock-a-hoop. And now they proceeded to pass beyond their original objective and pressed forward.
A number of what may at first appear to be minor practices came under their scrutiny. Genuflecting, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion, were found to be unnecessary. One entering a church, the interior of which had long been familiar, suffered a shock when it was seen that the perhaps priceless Travertine altar had been replaced by a table, at which the priest, who was now sometimes called the president, faced the people and, in a clumsy vernacular instead of the old verbal music (for Latin has always been hated by the enemies of the Church) invited the congregation to join in a ‘repast’.
The manner of receiving Communion now differed greatly. The Host might be given into the hand, as was evidenced when Pope Paul celebrated a New Mass at Geneva. A number of Hosts were passed to a girl who was standing conveniently near, and these she distributed into the hands, sometimes grubby or sticky, of those about her, or into the hand of any chance looker-on who came up to see what was being given away.
Another method was to place the one-time Sacred Elements in a chalice and then invite the people to come forward and help themselves. An extra relish could be given to the bread by dunking it in the wine. It had hitherto been out of the question for non-Catholics to receive Communion at Mass. But Pope Paul introduced a new ‘updating’ by permitting a self-confessed Presbyterian lady, Miss Barberina Olsen, to receive the wafer.
His example was followed. First Cardinal Bea, and after him Cardinal Willebrands, empowered their Bishops to issue an open invitation; and then Cardinal Suenens, at the close of a Congress at Medellion, in Columbia, called on all and sundry to come forward with open mouth or ready hand.
A more decisive battle was fought out in Rome, where Bugnini’s New Mass was celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. A large majority of the prelates who were present voted against it. The actual numbers were seventy-eight in favour, two hundred and seven against. The orthodox Cardinal Ottaviani, who never lost caste, examined the text of the vandalised version, and found that it contained some twenty heresies.
‘The New Mass’, he said, ‘departs radically from Catholic doctrine and dismantles all defences of the Faith.’ The same sentiment was expressed by Cardinal Heenan of Westminster: ‘The old boast that the Mass is everywhere the same … is no longer true.’
Ottaviani was head of the Holy Office, which exercised guardianship over faith and morals. Pope Paul clamped down upon the office, and clipped the Cardinal’s claws; and he was so annoyed by the adverse vote that he forbade the New Mass ever to be the subject of a ballot again. From then on it was given official, but not popular sanction. Thousands of people, who would not tolerate a form of the Mass that was less dignified than the Protestant Communion service, either left or stopped going to church. Many priests followed suit. Those who stood by the incontrovertible ruling of Pius V on the Mass were threatened with suspension, or even excommunication.
One of the first to be declared anathema for observing the old Mass, was a priest who was somewhat remote from the scenes of tension, a Father Carmona of Acapulco, in Mexico. Bishop Ackermann of Covington, America, when faced with a number of orthodox and therefore recalcitrant priests in his diocese, lamented helplessly, ‘What can I do? I can’t throw them into jail.’ Their doubts were embodied in a question that was left for Pope Paul to answer – whether the introduction of the New Mass was the beginning of an age of new darkness on the earth, or the harbinger of an unprecedented crisis within the Church?
He refused to answer. And the same wall of silence was encountered by a deputation of priests who begged for a return to the traditional. Mass; while thousands from several parts of Europe, who went to Rome with the same purpose in mind, were turned away.
Those who brought about the changes had not been working blindly. They had followed a plan, in conformance with the secret design that furnishes the theme of these pages. They now had the future in their hands, and the confident way in which they accepted this was made clear by an article in L’Osservatore Romano, which depicted the pretty hopeless future awaiting those priests who braved the wrath of the Vatican by carrying out the duties for which they had been trained. They would, said the article, become ‘headless, autonomous priests facing an arid, squalid life. No sheltered future, no promotion to the hierarchy, no expectation of a pension at the end of their ministry.’
One who had been most zealous in promoting the changes sang their praises in the following terms: ‘It is a different liturgy of the Mass. We want to say it plainly. The Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered. We can look at it now as a ruin or as the particular foundation of a new building. We, must not weep over ruins or dream of an historical reconstruction. Open new ways, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees.’1
Pope Paul was equally extreme in approving the findings of the Second Vatican Council’s commission on the Liturgy: ‘The old rite of the Mass is in fact the expression of a warped ecclesiology.’
Reading that, some may have been reminded of the old Coronation Oath, that ran as follows:2
‘I vow to change nothing of the received tradition, and nothing thereof I found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach, to alter, or permit any innovation therein.
‘To the contrary; with glowing affection to reverently safeguard the passed on good, with my whole strength and my utmost effort. To cleanse all that is in contradiction with canonical order that may surface.
‘To guard the whole canons and decrees of our Popes likewise as divine ordinances of heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, whose place I take through the grace of God.
‘If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful day of Divine Justice.
‘Accordingly, without exclusion, we subject to severest excommunication anyone – be it myself or be it another – who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelical tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would concur with those who undertake such blasphemous venture.’
Whenever this oath may have been taken at the time of a coronation, I know not. But its principles, until the Roncalli era, were tacitly accepted and endorsed as a conventional part of Papal observance.
For instance, one of the greatest and most gifted of the Popes, Pius II (1458-64) in his Bull Execrabilis, repeated a law that was endorsed through the centuries and accepted, without modification, by what has always been referred to as the magisterium of the Church: ‘Any Council called to make drastic change in the Church is beforehand decreed to be void and annulled.’
But Paul VI, the friend of Communists, who collaborated with the anarchist Alinsky and with the Mafia gangster, Sindona, issued his own statement of policy which appeared in L’Osservatore Romano, on April the 22nd, 1971, English edition:
‘We moderns, men of our own day, wish everything to be new. Our old people, the traditionalists, the conservatives, measured the value of things according to their enduring quality. We, instead, are actualists, we want everything to be new all the time, to be expressed in a continually improvised and dynamic unusual form.
It was raving of this sort (reminiscent of ‘Peter Simple’s’ sarcasm in The Daily Telegraph) that led to the introduction of eatables such as roast beef, jellies, and hot dogs, washed down by draughts of coca-cola, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to nuns clicking their heels and twisting their bodies, in a kind of carmagnole, to mark the Offertory.
‘Anti-Christ’, said Hilaire Belloc in 1929, ‘will be a man.’
But perhaps the most ludicrous justification of the change was put forward by one of our most ‘progressive’ Bishops, who said to the present writer: ‘The New Mass got off to a ringing start yesterday. The guitars were going all over my diocese.’
The doctrinal and liturgical changes in the Church were not long in showing the effects that the conservatives had forecast; and startling though many of them were, they still remain largely unknown even to people who live in the countries where they occurred.
It used to be looked back upon as an outrage of the most extreme order when, during the French Revolution, a harlot was hoisted on to the altar of Notre Dame where she was crowned and worshipped as the Goddess of Reason; or when Chartres Cathedral was on the point of being converted into a Temple of Reason.
But such things pale into insignificance when compared with the desecrations and obscenities that have taken place, often with the approval of prelates, in some of the most revered Catholic minsters on both sides of the Atlantic.
There was a marked falling off from established ritual when such things as a communal supper took the place of a solemn Mass; when the priest, armed with a bread knife, had a large loaf placed in front of him which he proceeded to cut into chunks, helping the others and then himself until a general munching of jaws showed their appreciation of the Body of Christ. Such suppers, served in a parishioner’s house, became a regular feature of Dutch family life. Sometimes the ‘lady of the house’, instead of a priest, officiated at Mass that was served in her ‘best room’.
There were not a few places where the traditional office of priest was taken over by a woman, who walked among the congregation giving out the Sacrament to any who stood with gaping mouth and a nauseous display of tongue and teeth. Sometimes it was placed in the sweaty hand of a child, or between the trembling fingers and palm of a geriatric who promptly dropped it on the floor, where it could be trampled; or it might be self-administered.
One small girl came away from Mass, in one of the more ‘advanced’ quarters of Holland, saying that she had learnt more there than she ever had through seeing her brother in a bath. For the altar-boy who, in England, would have passed for a fourth former, had been naked.
Pope Paul, determined not to lag behind in the scurry for progress, signed a special edict whereby any who cared to help themselves to the Blood of Christ could suck it up through a straw. In that way some churches came to resemble a coffee bar, especially when the blare of a discotheque issued from the sanctuary, together with the shouting, strumming, and stamping of feet that accompany the celebration of a jazz Mass, a beat, and a ‘yeah-yeah’ Mass. There were teenage Masses where, instead of the sacramental Bread and Wine, hot dogs, buns, and coca-cola were served. At others, whisky and cream crackers took the place of the elements. Some priests found the wearing of an alb inconvenient when saying Mass, and so resorted to shirt-sleeves.
The new freedom offered a chance for political extremists to advertise their usually Left-wing tenets. One of the foremost seminaries in Canada was sold to Chinese Reds, who tore out the tabernacle and put in its place a portrait of the wholesale murderer Mao Tse Tung. It later became a training centre for revolutionary street fighters.
In September, 1971, the Catholic school at Vald’Or, Abitibi, Quebec, initiated a new game for boys. It consisted of spitting at the figure of Christ on the cross, and the one who covered the face with the biggest spit was declared winner. This was reported in the French-Canadian paper, Vers Demain, in September, 1971.
In one South American province, where disturbances rarely died down, a local Bishop Casaldaliga came out on the side of the Russian-inspired insurgents. He adopted the rough and ready garb of a guerrilla, complete with cartridge belt, and went on preaching and officiating at Mass under the name he gave himself, Monsignor Hammer and Sickle.
But a truly sinister scene was enacted at the basilica of St. Maria de Guadelupe in Mexico City, where a goat was sacrificed in front of the high altar. Now it is not only the fact of an animal being killed, and in church, that excites comment. It seems to have called for none from the people there present who gaped, were astonished, and then walked away no doubt concluding that it was all part of the new order within the Church. And so it was. But Archbishop Gomez, who had charge of the basilica, knew more than that, as did the strange crowd of people to whom he actually rented it for the occasion.
The goat, said to have been created by the Devil, figures in the Satanic lore of those whose secret design has always been the downfall of the Church. The happening referred to resembles part of the old pre-Christian ritual, when a goat was sacrificed at an altar during the Day of Atonement. The sins of the High Priest, and of the people, were transferred to a second animal of the same species, which then became the scapegoat and was driven into the wilderness; or, in demonology, it was forced over a cliff into the hell-fire that was tended by Azazel, a fallen angel.
Hence it was no ordinary Mass but a Black Mass that was celebrated in Mexico City, with the use of an inverted cross, an event that was filmed and recorded by those who arranged it.
But such things marked only a beginning, as did a growing clamour, supported by priests, for abortion, and for sexual aberrations to be recognized as perfectly normal. There were priests who almost shouted from the housetops that they were glad to be homosexual, as it was a privilege that conferred the ‘psychological fulfilment of one’s personality’. It became accepted, in some parts, for perverts of the same sex to be married in church.
In Paris, a man and a woman, minus every stitch of clothing, paraded their nakedness before an altar, where they were married by a priest who conveyed to them what has been called the ‘sublime’ nuptial blessing. Advanced Holland, not to be outdone, reacted with the news that a couple of male homos had exchanged vows and tokens in a church wedding; while an American priest, who was still holding on despite the fact that he had been cited in a divorce case, gleefully smote his breast and affirmed that he too was an emancipated moral pervert, which he afterwards ratified by uniting a pair of lesbians in matrimony.
It was a fruitful time for cranks and opportunists of every kind. An ex-nun, Rita Mary, joined an American lay community whose members were committed to the ‘new spirit emerging in religious life’. A breath from that spirit of newness suddenly revealed to her that ‘God the Father is female’. Others who favoured the cause of women’s liberation adopted the same slogan, and as part of their campaign cars adorned with stickers exhorting people to ‘Pray to God, she will provide’ appeared on the streets.
Traders were quick to seize upon it as a good stunt, and Rita Mary’s vehicles were soon joined by others offering a more material tip: ‘With Jesus on your side you can be a more successful businessman.’
Still keeping to America, there was a gathering at Stubenville, Ohio, in July 1976, at which a thousand priests endorsed a novel intention to ‘de-clericalise the ministry’, which meant, in effect, putting themselves out of work. They were advised to get ready for the collapse of the social order; then, after prayers, some discovered that they had been given the gift of healing. A general laying on of hands followed, and from that the mixed congregation, amid shouting, fell to hugging and kissing each other.
Bursts of spontaneous affection, as we shall see, were fast becoming a feature of the New Mass, as also was a growing obsession with sex. The ‘exploration of touch’, referring to bodies, became a new kind of worship.
At a meeting in Philadelphia, where Cardinal Wright and eight of his Bishops were present, the main speaker, Father Gallagher, told his audience that ‘touching is crucial’. And it may be assumed that many suppressed instincts found a relief that had long been clamoured for in the words that followed: ‘Do not hold hands sexlessly.’ The nine prelates conveyed smiles and blessings to the ‘love in’, as such displays of emotion were coming to be called, that followed.
A variation on the same theme was heard at the National Pastoral Congress at Liverpool in 1980, where a declaration was passed that, much to the surprise of a representative English audience, deified the most taken-for-granted of their marital acts: ‘During sexual intercourse a man and his wife create Christ’: a statement that sounds suspiciously like Aleister Crowley’s words, that ‘sexual organs are the image of God’.
The latest excursion into the realm of ecclesiastical nonsense (January, 1982) has been made by Bishop Leo McCartie, the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. Let Rastafarians, he urged, the mostly young blacks who wear woolly caps and plait their hair into strings, be given the use of church premises. They worship the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the true god, they believe that Christ was black, and they smoke cannabis as part of their religious ritual.
The Bishop admits that the Church could not condone the smoking of cannabis on its premises, but only because it is against the law (my emphasis). But Rastafarianism, he goes on, is a valid religious experience, and its followers use cannabis like a sacrament, ‘which is comparable to the chalice or communion cup in Christian worship’. So now we know.
Let us take a few more instances of what the modernistic trend has achieved in America, all, let it be remembered, without calling forth more than an isolated protest, here and there, from any of the hierarchy. Moreover it was all approved by Pope Paul as was shown by the presence of his official representative who passed on Papal greetings to those who dressed up, cavorted, and made irreligious idiots of themselves to demonstrate the new freedom.
For the past two years, on June the 28th, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, has been the finishing point of what is known, to ecclesiastical and secular authorities alike, as a Gay Parade. In 1981 an estimated crowd of 50,000 marched up Fifth Avenue, led by a figure with a whitened face, and wearing a frilly ankle-length dress and a bonnet, who spun up and down the road and pavement in front of the cathedral on roller-skates. At least one of the lookers-on recognised the figure as being that of a reputable Wall Street broker.
An individual who was hailed as the Grand Marshal of the Parade then stepped from a black limousine, performed clown-like on the steps then, delicately holding a bouquet of pansies, made as if to enter the front door. By that time a Mr. McCauley, who practised as a New York attorney, already sickened by what he had seen, snatched the flowers and threw them in the faces of those who swarmed after the Marshal. A scuffle broke out, and police led the objector away.
It took two hours for the parade to pass a given point and gather about the cathedral. Some were dressed as priests, others were nuns; some were wearing black leather and chains. There was a group called Dignity, and another known as the North American Man-Boy Love Association. They carried a large sign announcing that ‘Man-Boy Love is Beautiful’, the older members walking arm-in-arm with boys, whose average age was about thirteen, and some of whom wore bathing suits.
The Gay Socialists carried a red banner, and shouted their hatred of God and the Church as they marched. But their frenzy was more than matched by that of the Gay Militant Atheists, who roared in unison: ‘Smash the Church! Death to the Church!’ Another cry of ‘Smash the State!’ showed that the real driving power behind the demonstration was making itself heard.
Then came an interlude as a male, in a nun’s habit and trailing a cross upside down, executed a dance, accompanied by obscene gestures, for a full half-hour. That was followed by a group that came forward and made as if to light a candle at the cathedral door. By then Mr. McCauley had returned. He renewed his protest, asked the police to stop the outrageous performances, and was promptly arrested.
The homosexuals then proceeded to drape a large banner about the barricades they had erected at the front steps of the cathedral. A captain of the City Fire Department then came forward and asked a police officer to intervene. The officer turned his back, whereupon the Fire Chief seized the banner, rolled it up and threw it on the ground.
The yelling mob swarmed over him. He was pulled down, his jacket was torn from his back, blows rained upon him, his fingers were seized and bent in an effort to break them, his legs were forced apart and hands reached for and grabbed his genitals. When he could speak, he told the police officer that he wished to press charges against those who had attacked him. The policeman sneered: ‘Come back tomorrow at the same time and see if you can recognise them.’ When the Fire Chief persisted, the policeman gripped his revolver so tightly and menacingly that his knuckles were seen to whiten.
Only two people were arrested, Mr. McCauley and the Fire Chief, both for disorderly conduct. They later heard the charges against them being framed. One police official said: ‘Say that you saw him assault someone.’ Another said: ‘Put in that he broke through the police line.’
Meanwhile the parade was going on, with the cathedral front being emblazoned with provocative signs and banners, one announcing that ‘Jesus was a homosexual.’ Doggerel was chanted. ‘Two, four, six, eight. Do you know if your kids are straight?’ Finally a flag was hung from the cathedral door. It was designed like the American flag, except that in place of the stars, sex symbols and representations of the penis were substituted.
The demonstrators, followed by a large crowd; made their way to Central Park, where they engaged in a free-for-all public exhibition of sex acts. Frightened people who had gone to the cathedral in search of consolation or quiet bunched together throughout the afternoon in side chapels and corners. When approached on the matter, the members of the Diocesan Curia said there had been nothing to complain about.
In Virginia, a priest drove a Volkswagen down the aisle of his church to mark Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Later he had a forklift placed in the churchyard and climbed into its basket, where he stood waving his arms while being lifted up to commemorate Ascension Day. In Boston, Massachusetts, priests attired as clowns, with red hearts decorating their foreheads, scrambled and jostled about a church trying to catch balloons. A priest wearing a singlet and jeans cavorted in church with a girl whose flesh bulged from her leotard.
In this country, one Sunday evening, television went out of its way to show an Auxiliary Bishop processing up the aisle of one of our Catholic cathedrals. He was led to the altar by a young girl who danced and skipped about in front of him like a young horse. The celebration of Holy Mass in another church concluded with the singing of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’3
Similar outbreaks occurred even in Latin countries, where the mysteries of the Church had long been part of the national consciousness, its blood and bone. For visitors to a church near Grenoble, in the Isere department of France, on a day in 1970, were surprised to see that the ornaments and candlesticks were being removed from the altar, and that the space before it was cleared. Then ropes were put in place to form a business-like representation of a ring where, according to the bills, an international boxing contest was to take place.
At the appointed time, a throng that was far from typical of the usual one seen there, and mostly male, shuffled, stumbled, or made their way arrogantly into the building where some of them had been baptised, and some married. As they acquired a more familiar feeling odds were shouted and bets made, but details of the fight were never recorded. Whether it was won on points, or by a knock-out; who acted as referee or time-keeper, and who plied the sponges; how much the church funds profited from the purse or the takings, none of this appears in the parish register. Neither does a protest from the Bishop.
On a Friday in early December, 1974, the coronation church of France, Rheims Cathedral, was given over to a horde of hippies and layabouts for one of their all-night sessions. The Archbishop and his clergy, who had obligingly provided the setting, may have noted, with a feeling of envy, as the prematurely aged youth of the district poured in, that they far exceeded in number those who were seen at High Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.
Cacophony was provided by the Tangerine Orange Group, and when the mixed congregation grew tired of waving their arms and shuffling in time to the uproar, they settled down to an orgy of drugs and hashish smoking.
When this affair became known, angry parishioners demanded that the Cathedral, which occupies a special place in history, should undergo a service of purification.
But their protests were waved aside by Father Bernard Goreau, who held the always questionable post of ‘cultural attaché’ of the archdiocese. He agreed that the dancers and smokers had been left to their own devices for hours in the Gothic darkness. ‘But’, he added, ‘things might have been worse.’
Indeed they might. We are told that they only urinated and copulated on the stone floor … over which the Kings of old France had passed on the way to their anointing, and where Joan of Arc, holding her blazon, had stood like a soldier home from the war.
Also in France, it was not unknown for a priest to light and smoke a cigarette while saying Mass.
Even Rome was not immune from the sacrilegious parodies that followed the new religious freedom, the opening of the windows of the Church. The scene of one, in 1975, was the classroom of a Roman convent. Pope Paul was present, but the star turn was provided by Fred Ladenius, a gentleman from the Middle West who had acquired celebrity through appearing on Belgian television. He had furthermore been spoken of by an enthusiast as ‘the born again spirit, whose God updated the Jesus of 1974 by being the God of 1975.’4
Fred set about his task right manfully, stripping off his jacket and giving voice to almost incoherent ravings for which, he said, he was in no way responsible. What they heard were some of the truths he had received, that very morning, from the Lord’s mouth. For the Lord spoke and prophesied through him. Fred accompanied these revelations by flinging up his arms so violently that he broke into a sweat. But he was by no means exhausted. He rolled up his shirt-sleeves and invited all those who wished to receive the Lord, to come up ‘rapido’.
Fred, though still in a state of undiminished perspiration, waved his hands frantically over the heads of those who accepted the invitation, and accompanied each gesture with a cry of ‘Hallelujah!’ At the end of these ministrations the school blackboard was moved to make way for a table, on which were placed two chalices, one holding wine, and the other wafers of the kind that are used to celebrate Mass.
Then everyone fell into line and followed the example of Fred, who took out a wafer and dipped it in the wine before transferring it to his mouth. The meeting broke up amid more and louder cries of ‘Hallelujah!’ in which the Pope joined, and with further manifestations that the spirit was indeed moving amongst them.
Fred was duly rewarded by being sent for by the Pope, who thanked him warmly for all the good work he was doing for the Church. Fred stayed on in Rome, where he acted for a time as the Vicar of Christ’s Press Secretary.
In the Church’s calendar, one year in every twenty-five is declared to be a Holy Year. It is a time of special pilgrimages, when millions do penance to mark their adherence to the Faith and to obtain what is called the Great Pardon. Throughout that time Rome is seething with visitors from every part of the world, and on the last occasion of a Holy Year being declared, in 1975, Pope Paul extended a welcome, couched in the terms of emancipated religion to the ‘new generation who had come in search of a liberating and inspiring aid, in search of a new word, a new ideal.’
Those who attended High Mass in St. Peter’s on May the 19th, half-way through Holy Year, in expectation of those spiritual advantages, were in no way disappointed. They numbered some ten thousand. Cardinal Suenens officiated at the high altar. Pope Paul was present. Five hundred priests were ranged about them. This is how an experienced Catholic journalist described what happened when the time came to receive Holy Communion:5
‘It was not uncommon to see what one first thought of as white petals being scattered among the congregation. Only when I could push my way nearer did I realise that they were handfuls of consecrated Hosts, that the Cardinal’s hench-priests were scattering among the crowd…. They fell on the shoulders of men, on the dyed and coverless heads of women, and as was inevitable, not a few fell on the ground and were trampled upon by the crowd.
‘I spoke to a lady standing near me who was gobbling a number of them together. I asked her where she came from and was she a Catholic. She came from Egypt, she replied, and in fact had no religious persuasion, but her feelings were in favour of Mohammedanism.’
Tape-recorders were held high above the assembly, that was fast being galvanised into a state of excitement. Suddenly a voice boomed out through a microphone placed near the altar that God was not only present but was now, in fact, actually speaking, albeit in a strong and nasal American accent – one wonders whether the ubiquitous Fred was in action again?
Then Pope Paul took up the running. He gathered up handfuls of Hosts, pressed them upon people whose mouths were already full of the consecrated species, so that they could only free their hands by passing the Hosts on to others, who either crumpled them up or dropped them on the floor. The Pope, beginning to give an address, had to raise his voice in order to be heard above the growing turmoil, to which he added by exclaiming a further anachronistic ‘Hallelujah!’ and flinging up his arms.
By now some of the people were dancing. Others squatted or huddled on the floor among the trodden fragments of what, those same people had been taught, was the body of Christ. They swayed in time to a low moaning, an expression of the ecstasy inspired by the occasion, that grew in volume until it filled the basilica.
Still in the same year, a visitor to the church of St. Ignatius, in the street that bears the name of the founder of the Jesuits, in Rome, would have noticed that a heavy curtain was covering the main altar. Moreover, the seats had been turned round, as though to indicate that those who attended the service did not wish to be reminded of the lapis lazuli urn containing the relics of St. Aloysius Gonzaga.
A battery of microphones and loud-speakers was in evidence, and through one of these the voice of an Irish-American Jesuit, Father Francis Sullivan, was heard announcing, in the approved style of a follower of General Booth, that they had come together in order to praise the Lord. He went on to hammer home the fact that religion was in a state of flux, that everything was changing, and that it was a waste of time to take a nostalgic look back at things that used to be believed. His statements met with the smiling approval of Cardinal Suenens, who could always be relied on to patronise ‘way out’ effusions.
By now the Romans were getting used to having their faith supervised by oracles from the States; and they listened attentively when a second voice, from the same place of origin as Father Sullivan’s, exhorted them to love one another. People who were packing the church, thus encouraged, began to use their eyes, exchange looks, and to sidle alongside the person of their choice. Did they imagine, the voice went on, that the gift of love was a privilege intended for the early Church only? Of course it wasn’t!
With that, cries of agreement nearly split the roof, and couples fell into each other’s arms, sprawling on the floor, arms and legs flailing, fingers and mouths giving vent to a passion that was no longer fearsomely restrained by their surroundings, but which could now find expression in a freedom akin to that known to lovers in a ditch. Those who were barred, by age or infirmity, from taking part in the spectacle, savoured it with a lickerish look, or danced a few steps, or sang the praises of the Host whose house they had turned into a Bedlam. Hallelujah! God was good, and all this showed that churchgoing could now be a joyous event.
At the height of the uproar, a friar in the brown garb of St. Francis of Assisi somehow managed to make himself heard. He was in dire physical straits, aware of a strange, mystical, and maternal sensation. He felt exactly as Mary had done when conceiving the Son. Full of grace … more applause … and Hallelujah again.
What was left of St. Aloysius in his urn remained silent, as also did St. Ignatius who, as a soldier, had known the cleanly hiss of a sword as it was drawn from its scabbard.
For the sake of providing a still more startling climax, let us look back to the year 1970, when a Progressive Theological Congress was held in a Franciscan church in Brussels. The principle subject discussed, in flat contradiction of the Congress’s programme as indicated by its title, was sex, and it was expounded to an almost exclusively youthful gathering.
It was rightly anticipated, because of the theme, that Cardinal Suenens would be present; apart from which, as Primate of Belgium, he was on his home ground.
The Congress opened with the entry of girls, dressed in white and, as they twisted this way and that, waving cords and bits of broken chain to show that they were free. In an interval after the dancing, pieces of bread and glasses of wine were passed round, followed by grapes and cigarettes. Then, just as the young conference members thought all was over, their eyes were drawn towards the altar from which something was beginning to rise and to take on an unbelievable shape.6
It was at first greeted with gasps, then giggles, and finally pandemonium broke loose as the transparent plastic forming the shape was seen to represent a gigantic penis. The delegates screamed themselves hoarse, feeling that it was a challenge to – a recognition of – their virility. It was the sort of climax that had never been imagined and might only figure in the most extravagant of bawdy dreams. The presence of the Cardinal gave a permissive glamour to a setting that they would never again regard with awe.
It is well in place here, as part of our thesis, to look somewhat more closely at the scene that occurred in the Brussels church, and at the word Hallelujah, which has never been in everyday use, as a spoken expression of praise, within the Seven Hills. As an offering of praise to Jehovah, it has always been commonly used by religious revivalists rather than by Latins. But now we find Pope Paul using it.
What made him? And why did Cardinal Suenens, before an altar, preside over an amazing exhibition of carnal tomfoolery that many, especially the church-bound, will find difficult or impossible to believe?
There is one explanation. Neither of those named, while wearing the robes, vestments, and all the outward signs of Catholic prelacy, were Christian men. They had passed, by preparatory stages, into the highest echelon of occult understanding. They had been tutored, signed for, and guaranteed by the Masters of Wisdom in one of the foremost temples where atavistic rites, all with sexual undertones, take the place of religion.
When the adolescent girls shrieked with delighted embarrassment as the large plastic penis rose up before them, Cardinal Suenens knew perfectly well that they were, as he intended, commemorating the heathen god Baal whose name, divided into its Sumerian7 root words, has several meanings. Among them are lord, master, possessor, or husband, while others refer to a controlling male’s penis with its forceful boring and thrusting.
So what the Cardinal arranged for the young, mostly girls, of Brussels, was a show of phallic worship, which symbolises the generative power contained in the semen, or life juice, which streamed down upon all life and nature from the mighty penis of Baal. An exaggerated phallus was also a symbol of Yesed, the sphere of the moon, and also of the horned god Dionysius, or Bacchus.
The praise chant voiced by Pope Paul has its origin in the same fount of heathen worship, as its meaning, again according to its Sumerian construct, refers to the strong water of fecundity, or semen. During the public displays of mass sexual intercourse, which go by the name of fertility rites, this semen, when ejaculated, was caught in the hands of the officiating priests, who held it up for the approval of Yahweh (Jehovah) and then proceeded to smear it upon their bodies.
So much was implied by Pope Paul when he raised his arms and uttered a heartfelt Hallelujah!
2. Translated by Dr. Werner Henzellek from Vatican II, Reform Council or constitution of a new Church? By Anton Holzer.
3. The Sunday Telegraph. February 21st, 1982.
4. For more details of this and other events in Rome see From Rome, Urgently (Stratimari, Rome) by Mary Martinez, a lively book to which I am much indebted. I have also drawn upon another eye-witness account by Louise Marciana, formerly a Sister of the Precious Blood. It was at that Order’s convent that some of the antics here described took place.
5. Simon Keegan. News-Letter of the International Priests Association. Published by St. George’s Presbytery, Polegate, East Sussex.
6. Report from the Belgian News Service, quoted in Il Giornale d’Italia, September 17th, 1970.
7. From Sumer, which was a part of Babylonia.