Saturday, August 31, 2013

CAN ONE TRULY BE A CATHOLIC WITHOUT BEING A PAPIST?



As some of you know, when I was pastor of The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta, one of the parochial vicars was Father Daniel Munn (RIP). He was a former Episcopal priest, married with adult children and a grandfather who was one of the first former Episcopal priests to be received into the Church and the Catholic priesthood under the pastoral provision of Pope John Paul II. He and I served together for almost 14 years.

On his car, to prove to his former buddies in the Protestant communions, was a front bumper license plate that read, PAPIST!

As an Episcopalian coming into the full communion of the Catholic Church, being a papist obviously meant that the Queen would no longer be viewed as the head of the Church of England, but the true visible head is the pope and the bishops in union with him. This is the fullness of ecclesiology that Anglican/Episcopalians lacked apart from a valid priesthood and thus valid sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick and obviously Holy Orders. But at least they had the "baptismal and matrimonial" aspect right, except they didn't really have matrimony right since King Henry VIII! So they had baptism and thus some proper ecclesiology, not to make ecclesiology into a god or anything like that.

To a certain extent, I am a papist too, as most of you who know me know! So I was somewhat disheartened by the blog I recently read called, Catholic Stand and an article there titled, The End of the Papist Cult: What Pope Francis is Teaching Faithful Catholics by David L. Gray on Aug 26, 2013. YOU CAN READ IT HERE!

Here is his premise in his own excerpted words based upon the discomfort that the right-wing/conservative/faithful/natural/non-Orthodox orthodox feel toward the current occupant of the Chair of Peter, the former papists because of the current pope and he uses Archbishop Chaput as a model of this:

"It is becoming very clear to us all that Pope Francis is a ‘back to basics’ type of Pope. As I discussed in my article The New Papal Diet – From Benedict Steak to Francis Milk obviously that is what the Holy Spirit believes that the universal Church needs most at this moment, and as time goes on I think we will all be able to see more of the picture that the Spirit of God is painting with the hands of Francis. Indeed, within that painting is the reformation that our new Pope is inspiring within the minds of (right-wing/conservative/faithful/natural/non-Orthodox orthodox) Catholics."

Then he writes this:

"I noticed this reformation in myself the other day when someone on my Facebook wall was talking about how we need to love homosexuals (duh), by prefacing it with “as Pope Francis said”. In response to him I said, “Regardless of what Pope Francis said, what the Church teaches is that [insert the Church's teaching on homosexuality from the Catechism HERE].” I couldn’t believe what I had just typed. I never would have said such a thing during the Papacy Benedict XVI. Even though I converted to the faith in 2006, from what I read of Pope John Paul II, I could not imagine I would have said such a thing during his tenure either. What happened to me I wondered, and then I realized it … I … I am no longer a member of the Papist Cult. I … I … I’m just a Catholic."

But then I kind of agree, maybe wholeheartedly agree with the concluding remarks of this essay:

"I believe that it is absolutely true, that, rather than wait to see if Pope Francis will validate and affirm us as Popes in the past have, let us embrace what he is teaching. What our Pope is teaching (right-wing/conservative/faithful/natural/non-Orthodox orthodox) Catholics is that our faith is not about who the Bishop of Rome is, that our faith is not grounded in who sits behind the bulletproof glass of the popemobile, that it is okay if we don’t look forward to the general audience speeches anymore, that Catholicism isn’t a personality cult. Pope Francis is teaching us (right-wing/conservative/faithful/natural/non-Orthodox orthodox) Catholics that we don’t need a champion in Rome to front-load our causes, that it’s okay to put on our big-boy pants and big-girl dresses and bring awareness to our agenda ourselves, even as we tweak our message in union with his ‘back to basics’ approach to our Lord’s teachings.

Yes, we are waking up to realize that we have been spoiled for a long time. No longer can we ride on the coattails of the Pope, or hide behind his words. We have been set free from the Papist Cult. In contrast, the (left-wing/liberal/borderline-heretical/non-Orthodox non-orthodox) Catholics haven’t had a champion in Rome for so long that they are grasping at imitation straws to make Pope Francis their own, just as they have tried to claim Vatican II as their personal license to reinterpret the articulation of the faith.

Therefore, let us not wait and see if we still have a table in the Papist Cult, but, rather, let us embrace this moment to be the laity that Vatican II has called us to be."


And this is what I believe to be absolutely true from this essay:

In contrast, the (left-wing/liberal/borderline-heretical/non-Orthodox non-orthodox) Catholics haven’t had a champion in Rome for so long that they are grasping at imitation straws to make Pope Francis their own, just as they have tried to claim Vatican II as their personal license to reinterpret the articulation of the faith.

MY FINAL COMMENTS: Yes, I am still a papist. I love Pope Benedict but I wished he would have been able to connect better with rank and file Catholics on the level of personality and pastoral outreach. But I loved his liturgical style, his orthodoxy and his brilliant teachings which were more than "breast milk" for babies, but meat and potatoes for grown up Catholics. I loved his pointing away from himself and pointing toward the majesty of the papal ministry and its 2000 year history. I like the old trappings that he brought back and in such a stylish way and I loved his sense of the liturgy and where he really wanted to lead the Church. But he did not connect very well with rank and file Catholics on the level of personality.

Pope Francis does. Is it because he has eschewed the pomp and circumstance, the trappings of the papacy which he feels distances himself from the smell of the sheep? Perhaps, but wouldn't it be grand to have the trappings of the papacy smell like the sheep. I think this pope would be just as popular if he had maintained what Pope Benedict reintroduced and made it smell like the sheep!

The same is true of Liturgy. Pope Francis in his own words is more emancipated that his papal Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini is (but read: Pope Benedict) while he can appreciate some of the facetiousness of the MC and the Emeritus Pope.

But would it not be better to continue to emphasize the major theme of the previous pontificate, that of "reform in continuity" and not pitting the "Post Vatican II Church against the Pre-Vatican II Church and her liturgy?"

But what Pope Francis does marvelously well so far and in fact far better than Pope Benedict is the following and yes, this is in continuity with all that Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict tried to do all his years in the Vatican:

1. REPEATEDLY CALLING FOR FIDELITY TO THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, MEANING THE CURRENT POPE AND THE BISHOPS IN UNION WITH HIM, BUT ALSO TO INCLUDE PAST POPES AND BISHOPS IN UNION WITH THE POPES. THIS INCLUDES ALL THE COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH INCLUDING VATICAN II AND SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS ON THE OFFICIAL LEVEL SINCE THEN. IT ALSO INCLUDES THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! FIDELITY, FIDELITY, FIDELITY!

2. REPEATEDLY CALLING FOR A RECOVERY OF POPULAR DEVOTIONS WITH THE VARIOUS DEVOTIONS TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY AT THE APEX!

3. REPEATEDLY WARNING ABOUT THE TRUE NATURE OF SATAN, THE DEVIL AND CALLING PEOPLE TO NOT BE SEDUCED BY HIM WHO PROWLS THE WORLD SEEKING THE RUIN OF SOULS AND ALSO THE RUIN OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. POPE FRANCIS RECOGNIZES THAT THE SMOKE OF SATAN HAS ENTERED THE CHURCH, WHY ELSE WOULD HE HAVE THE EMERITUS POPE PRESENT WHEN HE DEDICATED A STATUE OF SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL IN THE VATICAN GARDENS?????

Liturgically, he is very much in continuity with Pope Benedict in style and piety (obviously not liturgical vestments, though) as he celebrates the Mass. What I fear though is the disconnect between his orthodox, sober style and what he will encourage in terms of inculturation, liturgical music, liturgical emancipation and relegating Latin to an idiosyncrasy. Give the progressive liturgists an inch and they take a mile and then they will emphasize the "spirit of Pope Francis" over the letter of Pope Francis, just as they did/do with Vatican II! UGH! YIKES!

3 comments:

Gene said...

Well, the Magisterium does trump the Pope. Can one be a Papist without being a Pope-ist? Surely we can support the office (and of course the Magisterium) while holding reservations about an individual Pope. However, we must give even a difficult Pope our full support as long as he does not teach error, and then it is up to the Magisterium to decide that issue. So, while the jury may still be out on Pope Francis, his words I like. What is uncertain is what he is going to do (or not do) to back them up.

rob said...

" Give the progressive liturgists an inch and they take a mile and then they will emphasize the "spirit of Pope Francis" over the letter of Pope Francis, just as they did/do with Vatican II! UGH! YIKES!"

Very, very well said and I think encapsulates the traditionalist (small "t")/orthodox Catholic's worries about this Pope. He doesn't give the sense that he has an awareness of how the the liberal/quasi-protestant wing of the Church will take license from and distort his words and actions.

WSquared said...

I will second your "YIKES!" Father. I also like your remarks about continuity, and how many minds and limited imaginations it would blow everywhere to have the trappings of the papacy and still have it smell like the sheep. Because the message that it does send to the sheep is "this belongs to you." I don't know about you, but I do sense this real depth and "culturedness" among both rich and poor who are well grounded in and rooted in the Catholic faith, such that they not only live it, but they think with it, even if they aren't conscious of doing so. That flies in the face of the idea that culture and sophistication can somehow be bought.

The challenge that Bergoglio throws down anyway is the difference between beauty in the service of God or beauty in the service of one's self. Both his liturgical style and Benedict's fall within the range of what's beautiful, because Benedict is an ardent liturgist and Francis still knows what the liturgy is. The banality that one often gets in the AmChurch suburbs comes largely from a sense of not knowing what the liturgy is and lacking a sense of the sacred (this sacred sense is not lacking in either Benedict or Francis). Moreover, Fr. Dwight Longenecker and Mark Shea have both at different times noticed that Americanized "Christianity" protests too much when it comes to its own supposed humility versus the Catholic Church's "gold": the Catholic Church should sell what amounts to the material expression of the spiritual works of mercy, but Jesus really loves the prosperity gospel.