Jul 22, 2007

Who has damaged Catholic churches the most -- criminals, bigots, the insane, or liberal bishops?

After commenter Tony recently asked about the hours the Cathedral downtown is open, and I supplied them (see comments under "Two bombshells from Cardinal Levada"), a commenter Anonymous remarked that, like the Cathedral, many Catholic churches around the USA cannot remain open 24/7 because of the threats of crime, vandalism, etc.

That prompted me to make the following comment to Anonymous, and I think it is worth displaying here:

"Another thought: In recent years and decades, by far the greatest damage to Catholic churches has come not from criminals, bigots and the insane but from liberal Catholic bishops who bulldoze, sell off or wreckovate them."

This is an absolutely true, indisputable statement. The greatest physical damage to our beautiful Catholic churches is perpetrated by bishops, not by criminals, the insane or bigots.

We need no more liberal bishops!


Blogger Struggling Sinner said...

Criminals, liberal bishops, and the insane--one person can be all three!

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Q,
Your statement is quite disputable. Many of the renovations done in many churches are outstanding and beautifully accomplished whereas there are older churches, not renovated, that are uglified by the multiplicity of objects of devotion. Sacred art must be done well to be appealing, regardless if it's rococo or modern. Many "traditional" churches were not done well, just as many modern churches were not done well. Each case must be judged on its own artistic merits but there is no indisputable evidence that everything un-renovated is good and that all renovations have been bad.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The worst places in Hell are reserved for the ordained clergy who betray their vocation. It is not fair to compare a common criminal, who does not know any better, to a Bishop, who should know better.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Anonymous,

Sorry, but I can't agree at all. And I was talking about more than wreckovations, bad as they are.

First off, you ignore all the beautiful churches the liberals have bulldozed out of existence.

Then you ignore all the beautiful churches the liberals have shuttered or sold for profane use.

You also ignore the liiberals' stripping of countless churches and the selling off -- OR THE THROWING IN THE DUMPSTER -- of their tabernacles, statues, Stations of the Cross, stained glass works of art, etc.

Sure, wreckovators sometimes spare no expense in what they do. But we all know they also jackhammer altarpieces and entire sanctuaries out of existence and obliterate precious, irreplaceable Communion rails and objects of Catholic devotion.

The "uglified by the multiplicity of objects of devotion" mindset is exactly what is destroying our Catholic heritage and patrimony, not to mention people's faith.

The liberals who strip our beautiful churches of Catholic objects do so less from artistic motives than theological ones.

The liberals have sure done, and are doing, a great job of eliminating our "multiplicity of objects of devotion."

So did the iconoclasts, the Protestants such as Cromwell, the French revolutionaries and the Communists around the world.

(No, I'm not calling you any of those things.)

At least no one has to worry about a "multiplicity of objects of devotion" in the cathedral.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Mr. Cooney,

You win a prize for the bon mot of the year!

Thanks for making me laugh out loud!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Q,
I know of a church in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon that was built in the late 60s/early 70s, replacing an older neo-Gothic edifice that was too small for a thriving and growing Catholic community. It is modern architecturally yet traditional in design—cruciform with the altar under a cupola. Behind the sanctuary, there is a beautiful Lady Chapel which also houses the Tabernacle.

The order that used to run this parish put in a very conservative priest as pastor. In this beautiful modern House of God, he insisted on installing the old painted plaster statues from the previous church building even though they did not fit in the new church and, truth be told, were ugly even in the old church.

The parish was quickly divided and in an uproar.

Luckily, the Archbishop of Portland at the time was the Most Rev. Robert Dwyer who made Cardinals Spellman and McIntyre look liberal...but he appreciated modern art! His Excellency forced the order to appoint a new pastor, the old statuary was removed and replaced by the beautiful modern statues that had been created specifically for this church.

In the Lady Chapel, Archbishop Dwyer had a magnificent quilted tapestry of the Madonna and Child installed. The artistic integrity of the church and the appointments had been respected and it is a place of great beauty and extremely prayerful.

So, I contend that every story of the post-Vatican II Church destroying something that was beautiful in its day, there is a story of the same post-Vatican II Church producing something quite beautiful.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is a case in point. Its scale, its accessibility, its beautiful appointments, especially the Communion of the Saints tapestries and most especially the tapestry of the Baptism of the Lord, its magnificent organ and more all speak to a modern age of ancient truths.

And the blending of old and new, especially in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Chapel of St. Vibiana, and the crypt mausoleum is masterfully done.

Are there individual elements that I don't like or find unattractive? Of course. But the same could be said of other churches I find particularly beautiful: St, Basil's on Wilshire Blvd.; St. Andrew's in Pasadena; St. Monica's in Santa Monica; St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York; the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington; St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. But taken as a whole, each one of these churches is an artistic gem.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for bringing up Archbishop Robert Dwyer, a great shepherd and Catholic journalist.

The website of the Archdiocese of Portland -- www.archd.pdx.org
-- has a bio and photo of him under "Previous Bishops."

To say that wreckovators should not blast out traditional works of art and replace them with conflicting, faddish "modern" objects and fixtures is by no means to advocate the same thing in reverse -- namely, putting conflicting traditional items in the faddish "new" churches.

But many people do not think all or most new churches are beautiful.

For that perspective, try Michael S. Rose's book, Ugly As Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces -- and How We Can Change Them Back Again (Manchester, N.H.: Sophia Institute Press, 2001).

Basically, he says we need architecture that evangelizes, and we need iconography. Amen to that.

Of any church or cathedral, we need to ask, "Does this structure truly say,'Jesus,' 'Mary,' 'Catholic' and 'Come in, come home' to the world and to us?"

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Q,
I love Gothic churches and neo-Gothic churches. The great English apostle of the Gothic Revival, Pugin, says that Gothic is the only truly Christian architecture—all others owe their origins to pagan sources.

However, how many people know that the Gothic was hated by people at the time it developed? The name "Gothic" itself was their way of saying the style was barbaric.

I feel that, just as Gothic became accepted and beloved, so too will many other architectural styles including the one found in the Moneo Masterpiece at Temple and Grand.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Quintero said...

Dear Anonymous,

The people could not have hated the cathedrals of the Middle Ages very much if they devoted their labor and treasure to each one for decades and even a century. But Gothic might be an exception.

I do not like Gothic architecture, especially English, and it is self-evident that there is much more to Catholic architecture than Gothic.

Nevertheless, Gothic is far better Catholic architecture than the "modern" type, which, by the way, is even now being supplanted by a return to traditional form.

Again, though, we are talking here not just about art in architecture but about theology in it.

It is possible for architecture to
reflect faulty theology or even heterodoxy, and that is where deeper disagreements arise.

10:22 PM  
Blogger n/a said...

I beg to differ as to the beauty of the new cathederal in LA. It looks like a prison from the outside. The tabernacle looks like a tree trunk. I could go on. But then what do you expect when you have people like "father" richard vosko involved.

9:20 AM  

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