I've never been the largest fan of the charismatic movement personally, yet I've always been friends with a lot of charismatics. We speak each others language. I was reminded of this truth last night when I went to a speaking event hosted by a subgroup of Renewal Ministries, the Charismatic outfit of Dr. Ralph Martin.
The speaker (a well known Catholic media personality affiliated with Renewal) opened his talk with, if you didn't know any better, standard traditionalist boilerplate. He criticized those who downplayed the sense of crisis we are in, stating the Church in America is in the worst shape she has been in almost two centuries, and that we've witnessed an "institutional collapse", especially on the parish level. To put that in layman's terms, toady's average parish in America sucks. If you want a more scholarly treatment of just how much things suck, Dr. Martin puts out something that is more scathing than anything a traditionalist has ever said.
On these things, traditionalists and charismatics agree. Contemporary Catholicism is mediocre. The status quo is terrible. Few people are died in the wool traditionalists or charismatics. Yet many people gravitate to one degree or another towards these camps, and it is for that reason. I bring this up just to bring a bit of a contrast. Karl Keating recently said that traditionalists are over-reacting, that things in America aren't "chaotic", and that while bad, it isn't that bad. I really hate this line of argumentation.
I hate it because its worthless. We hear things aren't chaotic. Then what are they? If not "that bad", how bad is it? What are the roots of this decline? Most importantly, what are we going to do about it? That's why the status quo of the Catholic commentariat bores me. They don't have any ideas beyond "implement Vatican II!" This is despite the fact that one of the central tenets of the Council is still for better or worse undefined in real life. This isn't a proposal for reform, it's a dodge.
So for those who think it "is bad, but not that bad", do they actually have any ideas for reform? We have ideas.
1.) Hammer out once and for all what Vatican II actually means on things such as collegiality with a real plan on achieving it.
2.) Increased emphasis on the sacramental life, especially the Sacrament of Confession. Maybe a year of penance/repentance after the year of Faith?
3.) Regularize the SSPX. Really, if we can't come to an actual definition of what Vatican II teaches on key areas of contention, its time to regularize them and work it out later. They aren't excommunicated, and they are in a canonically irregular situation. Regularize it and do it in conjunction with one, inviting all voices in the fold to the table, including the SSPX. This comes from someone who disagrees with several of their positions. Doesn't change the fact this is long overdue, and probably would've happened before if not for Bishop Williamson and his Anti-Semitic tirade. (Bishop Williamson was forcefully ejected from the SSPX and now is essentially pastor of an online flock.)
4.) Reaffirm the expansion of the Extraordinary Form on the papal level, pronounce it a good that is leading to tons of young priests and religious, and bless its continued expansion. Even go so far as to have the Holy Father actually celebrate a Latin Mass publicly. It's part of the Roman liturgical tradition of a growing number of Catholics today. Do it as a pastoral thing. If he won't do it, have several high level Churchmen do so. While doing this, continue to promote groups that still celebrate the Ordinary Form, but are big into the reform of the reform. (More Latin, Ad Orientam, communion rails, etc.) We don't require a lot of direct action. Some token symbolism sure wouldn't hurt though. Symbols have their use.
5.) Have a Catechism that is better served on the local level. I'm not saying throw the 1992 Catechism to the dustbin. The Catechism serves a valuable purpose and is an incredibly handy reference tool. But there's no doubt it's primarily a theological document. It's not very reader and user friendly. We need something akin to a modern Catechism of St. Pius X. Or you know, just start promoting the Catechism of St. Pius X more. Very reader friendly, clearly parts of it geared towards children, etc.
6.) Relaunch Catechism classes on Sunday unless the priestly shortage makes it impossible. People might not show up, but make them available. Even with the shortages, in today's information and social media age, this shouldn't be an excuse. Surely there has to be some catechist who, with episcopal blessing, does a series of online courses people can access remotely. I'm sure some of these programs already exist. Time to expand them.
7.) Have every priest celebrate the Sacrament of Penance at least once during the evening week for one hour in addition to the weekend times.
These are ideas. The Charismatics have their "intentional discipleship" stuff. What does the status quo have?