Monday, June 24, 2013

THE POPE HAS NO CLOTHES BUT HIS ACTIONS ARE HIS ROYAL, MONARCHICAL APPAREL


Pope Benedict was a very humble shy person. He knew the problems of the Church but as he aged he knew he didn't have the strength to govern, what could also be called "rule" the Church as in monarchical times. Govern is more of a democratic term.

I personally think that as he realized his inability to "rule" or govern, he began turning more and more to the traditional, some say pre-Vatican II monarchical trappings of the papacy. He clothed himself in the royal garments of the papacy to hide his nakedness in not being able to actually rule. In other words, he and others knew that "the king had no clothes."

I personally like the trappings of the monarchical papacy, although these are not the foundation of the reason why I seen myself as a papist. Being a papist isn't that superficial for me. I think that Pope Benedict, a humble man, showed his humility in respecting the "monarchical" look of the papacy with its trappings which properly interpreted points us to the biblical imagery the Bible and Jesus use to point to the Kingdom of God. Monarchy in this biblical imagery is very, very benevolent for the true Kingly shepherd does precisely what Pope Francis says all shepherds so do.

Pope Francis is not into the trappings of the papacy and has self-proclaimed himself to be more like the humble Saint Francis who once stripped himself naked of royal wealth but has become one of the most influential saints of all times with broad appeal beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church by clothing himself in the rag tag habit of a Franciscan.

Pope Francis has reversed "The Emperor's New Clothes" is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

The plot is about a vain Emperor who cares for nothing except wearing and displaying clothes, hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or "hopelessly stupid". The Emperor's ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.

Is this famous fable what happened to Pope Benedict? Has Pope Francis put a twist on the old fable by himself stripping himself of the papal finery in order to be seen as a strong pope, powerful ruler. Seeing the naked pope, aren't people saying "look at what he's wearing!" This translates into a pope who knows how to rule since he doesn't really care for the wearing and displaying of clothes?

Is Pope Francis in his disregard for the splendors of the papacy positioning himself to clean out the Vatican of its narcissistic corruption and to do so effective, that no pope in recent history has been able to do?

Is he not calling bishops to their proper role as shepherds in their dioceses?

Is he not calling for fidelity to the Pope and the bishops of the Church, to the Magisterium and does he not refer to the Church as Mother?

Has he not pinpointed the greatest threat to the Church, the root of all problems, the devil? The dictatorship of relativism and godless secularism are rooted in the devil.

This pope isn't going to change Church teaching or rearrange the furniture once again. He's going to be a simple pope exercising authority and effectively so more so than any pope since Pope Pius XII.

POSTSCRIPT: I've not printed some comments that I find disrespectful to persons or groups of persons, in particular the Pope. I'm a papist and I'm a priest and I'm not going to print comments that disrespect groups of people or the Pope himself. Keep that in mind. Folks, we're Catholic! Act with charity or your knucles will be rapped!

12 comments:

ytc said...

He is still rude regardless.

Henry said...

Of his numerous distinguishing attributes, humility is not the most conspicuous.

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps Francis was just actually working. Maybe meeting with Vigano, who I'm assuming was in town with the rest of the nuncios, about the IOR or Vatileaks? The only thing that makes this story of note is if it was related to a health scare. Since Francis was his usual peppy self on Sunday, it seems that the whole story should be dropped.

It does seem like the empty chair and leaked quotes were a case of the Curia strikes back. (And that is the best they got?). Which is why it is so concerning that some people (especially a few blogs) are willing to report on it without looking at this with a critical eye. The same people concerned about the gay lobby seem to unwittingly be doing the lobby's bidding.

Anonymous said...

Hey Fr.
I was wondering if you would be able to write a post about your ideas of where you think Francis is going with the curial reform, and about the cardinals and others who are involved. I have heard about this restructuring of the curia, however I have not heard anything in depth.

I'm afraid they will give more authority to Bishops Conferences of different countries (like USCCB). I think this would be a huge disaster.

What are your thoughts?

JBS Was Here said...

Father McDonald,
Thank you for your vigilance in moderating uncharitable comments. It's one thing for blog commentators to question the meaning of the words or gestures of a pope, but quite another for them to pronounce judgements against him.

rcg said...

In this case the faux pas the Pope may have made was not living up to his position as a Head of State. I don't really know the protocol for thsi specific event, but it was probably bad form not to at least 'phone in'.

There are some people hoping he was absent while writing up the resignation letters of the Cardinals that attended. Sort like The Godfather. That is possible, but I think it is just as likely that he got scheduling conflicts and couldn't figure out what to do next. That is the fault of his staff, who he may have alienated.

It is a good thing I am not Pope, because if you wanted a reason to fire someone, that one still works.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In terms of Pope Francis and giving more power to USCCB or any national conferences, I think he really wants the local bishop to be the pastor. Conferences are good for bishops, but these shouldn't replace their authority. But national issues should be addressed collectively. I don't think Pope Francis wants to interfere in the territory of other bishops. He wants them to act as bishops. Sandro Magister says the following:
"It is to be expected that in the future Francis will continue to adhere to this reserve of his on questions that concern the political sphere. A reserve that will also gag the secretariat of state. It is the pope's conviction that such statements are the preserve of the bishops of each nation. He has told those of Italy in unmistakable words: “The dialogue with political institutions is your affair.”

There is much that is risky in this delegation, given the pessimistic judgment that Bergoglio has on the average quality of the bishops of the world. Who are in turn tempted to delegate the decisions to laymen also of dubious reliability, renouncing the role of leadership that belongs to those who are marked with the episcopal character."

This pope is a pope who consults, but makes his own decisions. So he will listen and then act but he isn't going to be a super bishop, replacing local bishops.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In terms of Pope Francis and giving more power to USCCB or any national conferences, I think he really wants the local bishop to be the pastor. Conferences are good for bishops, but these shouldn't replace their authority. But national issues should be addressed collectively. I don't think Pope Francis wants to interfere in the territory of other bishops. He wants them to act as bishops. Sandro Magister says the following:
"It is to be expected that in the future Francis will continue to adhere to this reserve of his on questions that concern the political sphere. A reserve that will also gag the secretariat of state. It is the pope's conviction that such statements are the preserve of the bishops of each nation. He has told those of Italy in unmistakable words: “The dialogue with political institutions is your affair.”

There is much that is risky in this delegation, given the pessimistic judgment that Bergoglio has on the average quality of the bishops of the world. Who are in turn tempted to delegate the decisions to laymen also of dubious reliability, renouncing the role of leadership that belongs to those who are marked with the episcopal character."

This pope is a pope who consults, but makes his own decisions. So he will listen and then act but he isn't going to be a super bishop, replacing local bishops.

jgr said...

I believe that the Pope wants to reach out to the unchurched, infrequentlychurched, the marginalized and poorly chatechized.
These are people who have no or little faith and wouldn't know an encyclical if one was to appear right in front of them on their Iphones or computers. In which case many of them wouldn't read it any way.
They have no clue as to the rubrics and trappings of the papacy, and most of these have little or no understanding of even the OF Mass. He thinks about (I believe) how great a tradgedy it is to be both materially poor and spiritually poor in this world.
The materially poor that are spiritually rich are the true treasure of the Church.
He wants Catholics to be good, faithful fervent Catholics.

Marc said...

I'm guessing the unchurched and infrequently churched, the marginalized and the poorly catechized don't pay any attention to the Pope in the first place. So, they not only won't read an encyclical, they'll never know it exists, and they'll never know they should know.

The job of "evangelizing" such people doesn't fall to the pope. It belongs to the laity, who encounter such people in our daily lives.

John Nolan said...

Bishops' conferences need to decrease, and individual bishops to increase. Pope Francis did remind nuncios of their key role in episcopal appointments. For too long in England the nuncio was expected to be a spokesman for the Conference, and all appointments came from a liberal 'magic circle'. Rumours abound that their lordships would like to see Abp Mennini replaced by someone more compliant.

A bishop is of course a pastor (over here we don't use that term for a parish priest). Pastoral, however, does not mean being all things to all men, treading carefully so as not to offend anyone, and concentrating on 'justice and peace' issues (How I hate that platitude). It means upholding orthodoxy and rebuking heresy, defending Church teachings vigorously (however unfashionable it might sound), making sure priests are properly formed and that the Faith is taught properly in Catholic schools, and promoting good liturgy by example and precept.

If a bishop does this he is being genuinely pastoral, and I don't give a monkey's whether or not he's a careerist.

rcg said...

I think john makes an important point. The other side of that is that a priest should take up the position, if he is the man for it and asked by the Pope. Sometimes you get the perfect match of a man who is motivated by the work and really enjoys doing it well. I suppose that man could be a careerist.