Rorate Caeli

A Brazilian bishop's assault on Catholic Tradition

Our friends in Fratres in Unum sent to us the following translation (with their emphases) of an article by Bishop Paulo Sérgio Machado (left) Bishop of the Diocese of São Carlos, which has about 800,000 Catholics. In six short paragraphs, the bishop manages to denounce and insult not just Catholic traditionalists and ordinary believers (whom he takes for idiots), but the Traditional Latin Mass itself, and Roman chasubles, and lace mantillas, and "miracles and apparitions (and) devotions", which he considers to be "oudated". He even finds a way to insert a call for a "Third Vatican Council". A militant atheist could scarcely have done a better job of writing a short screed against Catholic Tradition and its followers.

The Portuguese original can be found on Fratres in Unum
Um bispo acolhedor e inclusivo: espíritas sim, Católicos não.

By Bishop Paulo Sérgio Machado,  
São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil – March 31, 2012
I cannot understand how, in the very 21st century, there are people who wish the return of the Latin Mass, with the priest celebrating Mass “with his back facing the people”, wearing heavy “Roman” chasubles. This year we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, when we already feel the need of holding a Third Vatican Council and we find people who wish to return to the past. And, what causes more concern, these are people who attend college; people who have entered the university, but the university has not entered into their minds. I think it is high time our scientists invented a device to “open their minds”. The “suspicion meter” does not work any longer, because these folks do not suspect that they are “out of line”, “in a wrong age”. They wish, at any rate, to go back to the past. They live on miracles and apparitions, devotions and slushy sentiment, which, happily, are outdated. 

 Let us imagine a priest celebrating Latin Mass in a rural chapel. “Dominus vobiscum”. “Et cum spiritu tuo”. Our humble people will think that the priest is crazy or, at least, that he is cursing. I remember of my childhood, when the mass was in Latin. The pious old ladies, unable to understand anything, used to pray the Rosary. I have nothing against the Rosary – yet, I pray the Rosary every day – but the Rosary is a prayer, not a celebration.

The bishop at a Mass in his cathedral last year

They need only to advocate the return of the famous “mantillas”, which covered the heads of women. I ask myself: why not the men’s head? It would even be beautiful to see men wearing “lace mantillas”. It would be hard to find who would wish to wear them, except for “wind heads”, who stroll around wishing to teach Our Father to the vicar.

However, the question remains - what is behind this agenda? A longing feeling? I don’t think so. It is more than that: it is a morbid desire, a fear of novelty, an aversion to change. It is what we could call – to use a French expression – a “laissez faire, laissez passer”, a “let things progress to see the results”. It is an attempt to keep the “status quo”, even if that “status quo” benefits half a dozen of people, and the others be damned.

For these puritans hell is full of people; when in fact, the heaven is full, because God wishes everybody to be saved. And not only a moralist minority who sees sin everywhere and to whom the devil is more powerful than God. “Tear up your hearts and not your garments”, says the prophet. These are people who worry to wash glasses and cups, rather than their minds and hearts. It is the old attitude of the Pharisees – who are still many nowadays – who used to criticize Jesus because he healed on Saturday. I remember the story of a person who, upon hearing the news that John had murdered Peter on a Holy Friday, said: “Why didn’t he wait to kill him on Saturday? “According to that person, the day was the most important concern.

I finish by quoting two sentences that are food for thought: “The past is a lesson to be meditated, not to be reproduced” (Mário de Andrade — Author of Macunaíma); “Take the fire from the past altar, not the ashes” (Jean Jures — French socialist leader).

This diatribe was published only two months after the same bishop had claimed that spiritists can be Catholic. In an article published on February 1, 2012 (Espiritismo: teoria ou religião?, translated as Spiritism: a theory or a religion?) he tried to explain what the doctrine of spiritism is all about, emphasizing its charitable character and saying that the only point where it contradicts Catholicism is its belief in Reincarnation. He finishes this article by saying: “In my opinion, asking if a spiritist may be a Catholic is the same as asking if an evolutionist or a capitalist may be a Catholic, as well. Or, to be more radical, if a Corínthians (a Brazilian soccer team) fan may be a Catholic? Not only he/she may, but should.” (The original of this article on spiritism may be found in the same Fratres in Unum post where the original of "A Return to the Middle Ages" was posted.)

Source for first photo: link.
Source for second photo: link