Rorate Caeli

Motu proprio notes: Remembering Michael Davies

Remembering a past note, first posted on April 4, 2006:

Some thoughts of Michael Davies (Requiescat in pace) recently crossed our mind. At first, we could not find the link to them -- but it was a sure bet that we would be able to find the piece through the archives of the greatest Catholic news source in English, Seattle Catholic.

Michael Matt, the editor of The Remnant, recalled some of Davies' most controversial convictions near the end of his life:

I make no secret of the fact, for example, that I questioned (and still question) Michael's dogged defense of Cardinal Ratzinger. Over the years and to Michael's dismay, I published criticisms of some of the Cardinal's more perplexing statements. But I can also assure the reader that there was much more to that story. As someone who took issue with him on this very point, I hasten to set the record straight—Michael Davies, through it all, had only the best interest of traditional Catholics at heart. And here's what I mean: He firmly believed (and had been assured on numerous occasions) that Cardinal Ratzinger is "on our side" and would do all in his power, short of touching off a schism in Rome, to gradually turn things in Tradition's favor. All His Eminence required of us was patience and time.

Some of us were (and are) skeptical. But, as Michael saw it, the Cardinal had demonstrated enough good will on our behalf to justify our giving him the benefit of the doubt, i.e., the Cardinal's foreword to Msgr. Gamber's book; the Cardinal's historic rehabilitation of Pat Morely and the Honolulu Six who had been placed under interdict for "formal adherence" to the SSPX; the Cardinal's public celebration of the Tridentine Mass on occasion; the Cardinal's willingness to meet personally with traditionalists, etc.

Whether we can bring ourselves to accept the Cardinal's assurances that he is "on our side" is not at issue. What is at issue is that Michael believed that the Cardinal believed he was our ally. His great "sin", then, was to take his friend, the Cardinal, at his word; but this was very much the British thing to do. There was no conspiracy or dark and dastardly plotting going on behind the scenes. Michael simply believed, based on private meetings with His Eminence (to which none of us was privy, by the way), that the Cardinal would prove an invaluable ally to us all. What of it? Wouldn't it be grand!

As we sit and wait, and see apparent signs, like Caesar across the Rubicon, we must wonder: was Michael Davies right? The die is cast, and there is nothing we can do but pray -- "patience and time" (and prayer) are all it takes.