When Catholics get together and get indignant, they don’t always get things right. Statements get exaggerated, truths get mixed up with legend. The internet – which is essentially an endless get-together of innumerable get-togethers, sees all this revealed on a great scale. But well before blogs and com-boxes and tweets, Catholic indignation in the modern era was being voiced in meetings, letter-columns and pubs.
Some Catholic indignation is justified. It took rather a long while to get a decent and accurate translation of the Mass, and anger over this was rooted in a profound understanding that prayer shapes belief. Some of the phrases were not only awkward and ugly ("And also with you") but obviously inaccurate (even someone fairly hopeless at Latin can translate "Et cum spiritu tuo"). And two full generations grew to adulthood being forced to endure absurd and ugly noises masquerading as "folk music" at Mass: anger about this is generally expressed in terms of "horrible kum-by-ya Masses", even though that particular horror slithered away during the 90s except among a few ageing diehard crooners.
Jane spotted Andrew walking towards her and realised they had not seen each other since the good news. Her bump gave it away. "Congratulations! Do you know which sex it is?" he said. "James and I are expecting a boy," replied Jane. "That’s wonderful! What are you going to call him?"
The question of the identity and dignity of the human being is a primordial question, one basic and axiomatic. It not only affects each of us individually, but also all human individuals at all times and in all places. It is a question metaphysically significant, as well as one with great practical import. It is a question we simply must ask, and the answer we discover will determine the course of our lives.
Vatican I could be said to have reinforced the power of the papacy. Vatican II in its turn enhanced the position of bishops. It declared that their pre-eminence over the clergy was not simply a question of jurisdiction, by which they obtained a diocese, but a matter of their consecration, by which they became successors to the college of the apostles.