TROJAN ASSES wn”Then unbelieving Priests reform’d the nation,nAnd taught more pleasant methods of salvation.”n—Alexander Pope, An Essay on CriticismnOn April 22, 1950, I published in the London Tablet annarticle entitled “The American Catholics Revisited,”nwhich provoked an avalanche of letters to the editor, wildlynprotesting against my observations. Nearly all of them camenfrom “God’s Own Country.” My report did not exactlynresound with the ring of a success story; praising and criticalnpassages alternated. Among the weaknesses in the Americannbranch of the Church, I mentioned clericalism, a socialnimbalance that still creates all sorts of resentments mixednwith inferiority complexes, anti-intellectualist undertones,nand a morbid worship of “democracy.” I also expressed thenfear that in a real crisis (a totalitarian dictatorship, forninstance) the Church might crack. Lack of space preventednme from mentioning other quite important soft spots. Still,nat that time, the Catholic Church in America was, togethernwith that of the Netherlands, an “Exhibit A” of the ChurchnUniversal.nNeedless to say, the present crisis of the Catholic Churchnin the United States is intimately related to the crisis in thenChurch everywhere (yes, everywhere!) but, not so surprisingly,nit has a character similar to the earthquake whichntook place in the Dutch Church—and for analogousnreasons. Let us bear in mind that in the 1950’s 40 percent ofnthe Dutch professed the Catholic faith; that 45 percent of a//nDutch children went to Catholic schools; that there existedn21 Catholic dailies, several Catholic radio stations, and antowering university—in othei: words, an enormous “Establishment.”nNo government could be formed without thenCatholic Party (the largest in the country!). There werenCatholic Trade Unions, entire closed Catholic neighborhoods,nmore Dutch priests in the missions than in thenIllustration by the authorn16 / CHRONICLESnErik von Kuehnelt-Leddihnnnnhomeland, gigantic convents, five collections at everynMass, but hardly any Dutch Catholic authors, artists, ornworld renowned intellectuals. In the South, the Catholicsnfilled all social layers, but in the rest of the Netherlands (asnin Holland proper) the Catholics were a new, socially risingnelement. The department stores in the big cities, morenoften than not, were in Catholic hands, though a Dutchmannonce challenged me: “Could you ever imagine anCatholic shipowner?” (This might have changed today.)nThe Netherlands was the only country where, as an adult, Inhad the amusing experience of being shouted at by a priest.nThe crisis which hit the Dutch Catholic Church came as annaftermath of Vatican II. Exactly the same happened in thenUnited States.nHere a word must be said about that Council. It was thenhighly conservative John XXIII, a staunch advocate of Latinnand a devotee of the Rosary, who, after beginning hisnpontificate as a reactionary, found and took up the plans ofnPius XII for an Ecumenic Council. The saintly PapanGiovanni, who prided himself on not being a theologiann(“Aren’t we both lucky?” he said to an Anglican bishopnadmitting the same “imperfection”), then organized thenCouncil. And he who reads the decrees of Vatican II willnfind them very moderate, not in the least revolutionary,nsometimes even uninspiring. They did not herald a radicalnchange. If, for instance, one takes article 54 of the Decreenon the Holy Liturgy, one will find that it entitles the bishopsnto permit for cogent reasons the use of the vernacular butncommands them to see to it that Latin remains the languagenof the Church. When I asked an American bishop, whonprided himself on being a “Latinist,” whether Latin flourishesnin his diocese, he answered melancholically: “No. Incannot swim against the stream.” Well, has he not beennmade a bishop to do just that? Episcopi Angliae sempernpavidi is an old adage, but, I hasten to add: Nan solumnAngliae.nThe “trouble with Vatican 11” did not come from thendecrees but from theologians, from the periti, who accompaniednand advised bishops, yet had no voice in thenCouncil. Theologians are intellectuals, and intellectuals, asna rule, desperately want to be original. However, sheernoriginality has specific limits in a Church which is thenguardian of God’s Revealed Word. Disappointed by thenfailure of the Council to accept their frequentiy harebrainednnotions, these disillusioned periti banded together withntheologians who had not been invited, and jointiy with thenenthusiastic aid of the mass media they created a paramagisteriumnand thus caused (in the words of Eric de Saventhen)na real peritonitis in the Church. Asked where theynErik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn is the European correspondentnfor National Review and author most recently ofnGleichheit Oder Freiheit? (Hohenrain Verlag).n