7 July 2007

Reflections on the Revolution in the Roman Church

Well, it's out. Judging from the blogging done so far today (7:50 am local time) many people are expecting a revolution. Rather than citing he Motu Proprio, or linking to translations of it and the letter accompanying it, I just wanted to say a word about revolutions and the expectations they bring.

A glimpse to the past and the revolutions of ages past show that nearly all of them had consequences not foreseen when the revolution began. Indeed, very often they had the opposite effect. The French Revolution, for instance, was to liberate the people, bring about fraternity and equality. Instead it created a reign of terror and ended with an Emperor. The Russian Revolution was going to free the people, not put them under the foot of a crushing tyranny. These things happen because there are always elements the framers of the revolutions overlook, and those elements are people themselves.

The feminist revolutions were going to put an end to pornography, remember? Instead Pornography has exploded, not in spite of feminism but at least in part because of it. The feminists at first believed that as women were given more choices, had greater ability to choose, they would choose other paths than stripping, or posing for magazines, and so on. They had no idea that women, given freer choice, would freely choose porn.

The microchip revolution was going to set us all free, it was even going to save the environment, because people would telecommute to work and offices would be paperless. Because each person would be able to do more work in less time, we would all work less and have more time to spend on our families and ourselves.

Those promises turned out to be empty. The highways are still clogged. Paper usage in offices has increased by a factor of five because it is so easy to print anything now. And ask anyone in the IT field about how they spend their free time, if they can spare you a moment long enough to ask the question.

I'm not against change. Change is often good. It is also inevitable. To say one is against change, and change should be stopped is as sensible as saying one is against the waxing and waning of the moon, and the moon should be fixed in its full position. What I'm saying is that change has a way of taking us to strange and unpredictable places.

So revolutions have a way of not exactly achieving their ends. Benedict has started a revolution, possibly. It may have its intended effect. It may have little effect at all. It may have unintended consequences. I don't mean to rain on the parade of people who think this document will be an unalloyed good. It may be. But it may also be used to other ends. Remember, the revolution begun with Vatican II was not supposed to result in clown Mass, or Folk Masses, or liturgical dancing, or....

Let us look to the future with hope and concern, and always root ourselves in prayer.

And it's now time to remove the Curt Jester's random motu proprio date generator.

And that's not a bad change, either.

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