|Bookends of an era look at each other.|
"When Leo XIII died in 1903, distinct progress had taken place in the intellectual life of the Church. Nevertheless, the revival of Thomism had among some an unintended consequence. These fell into treating St. Thomas's work not as a philosophical system but as a store from which infallible answers were to be extracted on any subject. While some were thus making Thomism the basis for innovative thought, others made it into a system that was unlikely to convince minds not predisposed to accept it. Partly for that reason, the extension of the Thomist approach beyond seminaries and its acquisition of a real influence on contemporary thought was not achieved." (137)
"The integrist frame of mind, now as a hundred years ago, may be defined as follows: its exponents are clericalist in their sympathies, and they were also strongly papalist until events since the 1960s forced them to shift their position. Their outlook is distinctly Western and relatively modern, tending to see the period from 1850 to 1958 as the norm of Catholic practice. They regard popes Pius IX, Pius X, and Pius XII as the models of what a pope ought to be, but (with due respect for their sacred office) really look upon Leo XIII and Pius XI as rather letting down the standards of papal authority. They show little sympathy with political and social pragmatism in the framing of religious policy. In philosophy, they hold to Thomism as the bastion of orthodoxy, to the extent of considering any lapse from the pure word of St. Thomas as inherently unsound." (139)
"What can be said, however, was that [Pius X's] measures [against Modernism] were over-influenced by conditions in Italy, where Modernism was a pretentious, elusive, and even underhand phenomenon, and where there was, in parallel, a strong need to tighten standards in seminary training. In Italy, his measures may have been successful, but in the world as a whole they must be considered to have had a narrowing effect on the clerical intellect. Theologians need to be lean greyhounds, seeking out heresy and hunting it down; instead they became fat lap dogs, yapping foolishly at the enemy beyond the window. The results of Pius X's policy were seen in the Second Vatican Council, when two thousand bishops who had solemnly taken the anti-Modernist oath at their ordination were unable to recognize Modernism when it jumped up and bit them" (140)
"Journalistic opinion, remembering as always nothing beyond last week, worked to give [John XXIII's] reign the appearance of a new era, a distortion that has imposed itself ever since; but at the time those who remembered Pius XI and Leo XIII would have regarded his pontificate, apart from a certain naive optimism that distinguished it, as a return to a familiar style. Essentially, the reign of John XXIII is in the tradition of the period since 1814." (145)
"Linked with this clericalism was the dominance of a seminary-bound school of theology, losing something of the human fullness of earlier centuries. Thus, in natural theology there was a certain over-intellectualisation of the understanding of God, which lost sight of the potency of love as a divine attribute; akin to it, an over-spiritualisation of the doctrine of the Eucharist, obscuring the reality of physical union with Christ." (147)Sire is fond of the post-Napoleonic period and even equates it with the revivals of the Middle Ages and Counter-Reformation, but also readily acknowledges that its limitations and drawbacks impeded it from influencing society and the Church in the same way.
The below documentary could be a primary source document for Sire's last observation. Ushaw, sadly, had to close a few years ago for lack of students. It had over 400 when this footage was filmed.