Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My comments first: I think that William Oddie hits the nail on the head and it should be a comfort to all of us orthodox Catholics. Where Oddie also hits the nail on the head is the "style" of the pope is what is creating chaos whether intentional or not on the part of the pope. And in doing so His Holiness is radicalizing the polarized forces in the Church, the very two sides he chastises in his stereotypical analysis.  Thus His Holiness polarizes opposites in the Church are not only radicalized but driven further apart eventually causing great harm to the unity of the Church and leading to more fragmentation and semi-schisms if not outright schism!

I emphasize in red Oddie's points which are his not mine and the red points are very, very important for us Orthodox Catholics which includes the pope:

Well, Pope Francis, as Cardinal Burke implored, has now firmly upheld the depositum fidei: but has he let loose forces he can’t control?

But why is Cardinal Burke himself, the hero of the synod, being eased out? And what are these disquieting rumours about Cardinal Müller?

By on Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My last piece was headlined “If Francis doesn’t soon make it clear that the synod can’t abandon Catholic teaching, his pontificate could spin out of control”. I didn’t, I fear, hold out much hope that he would; and nearly everyone seems to have taken it for granted that he didn’t, even those who, like John Thavis, claim to have read the Holy Father’s address closing the Synod, an address in which it’s quite clear to me THAT HE DID unambiguously and with emphasis make it clear that the depositum fidei had to be the foundation of everything.

And yet in all the many comments on the Synod’s end I have read, not one writer so far as I can discover noticed what the Pope actually said. Does nobody read (rather than just skimming through, half-blinded by prejudice or wishful thinking) what anyone says or writes anymore?

Of the Pope’s actual words, more presently: but this is what Thavis thought had happened by the end of the Synod itself: “The short-term result making headlines is that in the concluding report, the more conservative members of the Synod of Bishops on the family managed to pull back some of the amazingly open language regarding those living in ‘irregular’ unions, including gays. But I think the long-term results are more significant. Chief among them is that Pope Francis clearly placed the Church on a new path, toward an evangelising style that is less focused on doctrine and more willing to invite people in, no matter what their ‘status’.”

Well, undoubtedly, it’s true that certain conservative bishops, notably Cardinals Burke and Pell, did manage to have some of the “amazingly open” (ie. utterly irresponsible) language of the concluding report struck out, largely because it was a complete distortion of what had actually taken place. But that the Pope placed the Church on a new path, less “focused on doctrine”, is just not the case, if what that means is that the Church’s teachings on faith and morals had been junked.

Certainly the Pope mentioned, among the various temptations of groups like the synod “a temptation to hostile inflexibility [trans: rigidity], that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve.

“From the time of Christ”, the Pope went on, “it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – ‘traditionalists’ and also of the intellectuals.” Well, there’s actually nothing there that a real traditionalist (rather than many of those so-called) — that is, someone wholly committed to the traditio, to the living and developing but also unchanging magisterium of the Church — could object to.

And the Holy Father makes THAT clear by the other temptations he then goes on to reject:
The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo: 'self-righteousness', maybe?], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the ‘do-gooders’, of the fearful, and also of the so-called ‘progressives and liberals’.
The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4)
The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.
The temptation to neglect the ‘depositum fidei’ [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it].
All that, it seems to me, is a more than adequate response to Cardinal Burke’s entreaty, made last week: The Catholic World Report asked the Cardinal whether he thought the Pope should make “a statement soon in order to address the growing sense — among many in the media and in the pews — that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?” Cardinal Burke replied simply “In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue”.

Now, the Pope has made a full and emphatic statement which does just that. His words require the close attention which so far they have not had. In particular that reference to “the temptation to neglect the ‘depositum fidei’, not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]…”. Isn’t that a profound and deadly accurate dismissal of the liberal mentality?

This Pope isn’t a liberal. But he has given the liberals their head; and it remains to be seen whether that particular genie can be got back into the bottle. At the next synod, some of those who just about saved this one won’t be there. Cardinal Pell will be: but the hero of this Synod, Cardinal Burke, is (in my opinion deplorably) being eased out of his influential post as head of the Vatican’s supreme court. And there are deeply disquieting rumours that Cardinal Gerhardt Müller’s days as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are numbered, too.

What will happen next? And what, for the matter of that, just happened? “Some”, as John Allen sums it all up, “believe the soap opera quality of the two-week gathering, with conservatives complaining of a plot to stifle their voices and liberals grousing about a lack of nerve, suggest Francis has let loose forces he can’t control. ‘I don’t think he’s much of a strategist,’ one cardinal told Crux on Sunday night. ‘I used to think there was a plan underneath the chaos… now I’m wondering if the chaos is the plan’.”

“I must admit,” says Fr Blake, “I still don’t understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh-air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?”

Well, I don’t think he’s THAT. He’s certainly more conservative than people think: but has he, as many undoubtedly believe now, let loose forces he can’t control, one thing a Pope should never do? That’s the question nobody seems to be able to answer.


JusadBellum said...

In military planning one looks at capability not intentions. Intentions after all can change on a dime but capability is hard to jin up and hard to hide.

Thus we're pretty sure that Iran and North Korea's intentions are malevolent with respect to ICBMs and so we have just enough interceptors on ships and in Alaska to intercept up to 40 ICBMs coming over the North Pole.

But England and France also have nuclear weapons. They have the capability but no intent of using them against us.

Still, we have Aegis cruisers and destroyers with Standard missiles capable of ABM missions from the littorals - so if France or the UK ever launched on NY or DC we could probably shoot them down.

What does the Catholic layman take from all this? Regardless of the Pope's intentions, and those of his various collaborators, assistants etc. what is the capability of someone in those positions for mischief?

Ultimately what can laymen do if the hierarchy either goes silent (as in the Arian heresy) or the various cardinals and local Churches slide into schism or apostasy? Not much more than quietly clutch our rosaries and quietly go about seeking faithful priests for the sacraments.

There's no a whole lot else we can do. But at our judgment Our Lord won't ask us about what OTHERS did or failed to do, He'll be asking us about what we did and failed to do.

It's nice to have a saintly and scholarly Pope, cardinals, bishops, and pastors. It's great to point to edifying priests, deacons, and religious. But if they are not around then it's still our responsibility as confirmed Catholics to bear witness to the Lord and the faith come hell and high water.

If all the pastors become cynics or atheists (as many did during the pressure of the French, Spanish, and Russian revolutions), it's still our duty to keep the faith.

It may not be our duty to argue with them though. Or with the Pope. So in these controversies, as much as I want the Pope to walk with me towards Jesus, if he and the entire hierarchy go off to serve another god, that doesn't let me and my conscience off the hook. No one is going to stand in for me at the final judgment.

This is what is called 'sensus ecclesiae' - it's how laity are involved in the sensus fidelium. When the prelates of the 13th century were largely corrupt it was the serfs and peasants' faith that shone. It was the Joans of Arc and others who stepped up to preserve the Faith. Francis was a deacon after all...many of the founders were just laity who stepped up.

And so it always is. It's great to be led. But if they shepherds are not around then the sheep still must follow the master's call.

MR said...

For the first year or so of this papacy I was very concerned with trying to get a read on Francis, and I paid very close attention to everything he said, trying to "read the tea leaves".

But the experience of this Synod has convinced me not to bother. Most of what he says is so ambiguous that you can read anything you want into it.

For that reason, instead of grasping at what he might mean by this or that statement, I will do my best to ignore him, and just focus on the tangible, objective results that actually come to pass. Things like his appointments, and official documents. This is what I will "judge" him by.

The final document from the Synod seems fine to me, other than the fact that it leaves the communion issue open. So, for better and for worse, this is the reality we are confronted with, and have to deal with. The rest is just fluff.

Joe Potillor said...

His comments are mostly dead on...I do disagree on the point that the Pope is not a liberal. Through his appointments we've seen where he stands.

While I don't believe he's to the level of Cardinal Kasper liberal, I do believe he's liberal, but just like at the synod, liberalism won't be able to win.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Prior to the internet, we only got word about the pope when the secular media highlighted something in the newspaper, the evening news or in a magazine. The only televised Mass we would get was Christmas Eve from St. Peter's and maybe Easter Sunday or at least a report.

Now with the internet we see the pope too much. Liberals, even prior to the internet, when Pope John Paul II was getting so much coverage early in his papacy, would say, "I'm all poped out."

I think we can say that those with ultramontane tendencies have obsessed on every word the pope says because every word and action is available on the internet.

We need an OCD pill!

JusadBellum said...

Here's a unique and refreshing take from Robbie George.


It's basically "don't panic" and parses the data rather than the spin quite well I think.

Anonymous said...

Surely it's clear by now that no clear reading of his intentions can be gotten from what Pope Francis says. His talk is simply too ambiguous and/or self-contradictory.

However, his actions--his high-level appointments, for instance--make what he is perfectly clear. No ambiguity in his walk!

Anonymous said...

Anyone find it odd we havent' had any comments from Pater Ignotius lately???

John Nolan said...

'Let loose forces he can't control'? He's just beatified a pope who did just that.

Gene said...

Shhh! Let Ignotus continue sleeping under his rock...

JusadBellum said...

Gene, you and Pater really need to settle your disputes or at least hash them out more completely. If and when you do, I think you could set up pay per view and help fund the parish! ;-)