‘Eeey Gringo – Watch Your Six! Okay, Mano? Ai Chihuahua!

This was reposted onto another forum from FE ( which I never bother with, but here’s good reason to make an exception )….

“Look, I grew up in South Texas and worked in the Church there for some time. I recognize what I see in that video of the Cardinal’s Mass on youtube, it’s exactly the same thing that happened in our diocese every year on Guadalupe day. Every Latin American Bishop is inscrutable to whites. Sillar, Gomez came through San Antonio, Corrado through Tyler, and confuse(d) all the white people and continue to. Are they liberal? Conservative? Orthodox? Traditional? No. They are Latin American.

The Latin American opinion on Catholicism is conservative on social/moral doctrine, extremely liberal on liturgy, decentralized in authority, optimistic on the effect of secular government, and suspicious of individualism. Much like Italians, Latin Americans I have known from across two Continents don’t have a cultural experience of protestantism, and think of all Christians as more or less “OK” by the Church. Once in Quito I remarked about the rapid spread of evangelicalism in the city, the priest I was with said that his parishoners thought Billy Graham was Catholic.

My experience of Latin American Catholicism and its Bishops is one of a desperate, losing attempt to organize anything, whatever can possibly be organized. Quality is not only not emphasized in Church function, it is simply assumed to be both impractical and misguided. One pastor in Honduras I saw do his very best to keep a lid on the worst excesses during the Mass, but it was only possible because the minute he processed out, a wild charismatic prayer extravaganza broke out in the church. It was scary. I once attended an ordination in rural Mexico where fireworks went off right behind the Bishop during the Rite, and he thought nothing of it. I have been obliged to experience Guadalupe Day masses in which most of the people around me were not only dancing during the Mass, but dancing while barely covered in various contraptions made of brightly colored fake feathers.

People, if you are white, you don’t know what this man’s priorities are. I daresay none of the first-world cardinals who elected him do. This is new, new, new. I cannot express to you the otherness I feel is inherent in Pope Francis. I could be all sad like ggreg, but I see no reason for it. He doesn’t have any clue what this means, neither do I and (this is important IMO) neither does anyone else in the Church. It would be too easy to say this is another JPII pontificate, and that has some ring of truth to it. On the other hand, Polish people I know are a LOT more predictable and transparent than Latin Americans. This is the great unknown. In my opinion anything is possible. Buckle up.

I should add. The lay people in Latin America that I know simply think of the TLM as a white man’s mass. The vernacular means more to them than it does to anyone else I have interacted with. It’s the same attitude Irish Catholics are often accused of having – beautiful liturgy is the liturgy of the overlords. Ugly liturgy is the liturgy of the people. VII and the Pauline Missal mean a lot of things to different people around the world, I again caution everyone to think that this is something we have not experienced before. I’m not saying “it’ll be fine”, I’m saying “None of us has any idea what this is, and judging it using old shorthand is apt to be quite wrong”.

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4 comments on “‘Eeey Gringo – Watch Your Six! Okay, Mano? Ai Chihuahua!

  1. Interesting observations, thanks for posting.

  2. Lotta hard truth in there.

    I see it all the time in SoCal.


  3. From the Pope’s Angelus today:

    “In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy.”

  4. Actually, LOTI, I understand he’s such a whiz that he’s on retainer to no less than 20 syangogues all over Europe. : – )

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