Even if I were somehow able to be convinced of Rome’s unique dogmas, stuff like the above is one of the main reasons I could never become a Roman Catholic. I have been told by Rome’s apologists that these kinds of things are really just “abuses” and that the “true” culture and worship of Rome shouldn’t be like this. But if a major, global-level Catholic event like World Youth Day (this video is from the 2013 WYD) has the successors to the Apostles themselves dancing like this for the Pope himself, what exactly is the real, official stuff? This seems pretty official to me.
I’ve known more than one person who converted to Roman Catholicism because of what he read and then later saw this sort of thing (or even just the rather bland form of Lutheran-style liturgics that passes for much of American Catholic worship) and subsequently left. I can understand if someone leaves a religion because of experiencing abuse (even while I would hope they would see past it to the non-abused form of that religion), but it’s hard to argue that the liturgics of Rome that one sees nearly everywhere are abuse, particularly when they are on worldwide display with the official sanction of the Vatican. Rome’s ecclesiology with its emphasis on the papacy makes it all the harder to make that argument convincing. If the Pope says it’s okay, one has a hard time arguing that it’s an abuse.
And one also has a hard time wondering how Rome would ever be able to go back to its ancient tradition of worship, which, as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco once said, “is far older than any of her heresies.”
One can read more on this theme from Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy contributor Fr. John Whiteford at his post today: Unfortunate Trends in the Roman Catholic Church.
Update: This article previously indicated that the dancing bishops in the video were cardinals. We have been corrected that they mostly appear to be non-cardinal bishops.
Update 2: Here’s a similar reflection from a Lutheran perspective.
Update 3: Also of note is that the Catholic-turned-Orthodox-turned-Catholic lawyer Gabriel “Venuleius/Modestinus” Sanchez has roundly excoriated the temerity of this post and decried the author as a promulgator of “pulp theology” (we’re honored he’s a reader!) while pausing briefly to complain about people who have middle names.
Update 4: Here’s a video commentary from a Roman Catholic on this incident as well as the general culture of accommodation within Roman Catholicism.