Sunday, May 8, 2016
STAYING FOCUSED ON SOUND TRADITION DESPITE AMBIGUITY IN OTHER AREAS
For the most part, I think the reactionaries could have been neutralized by this pope if His Holiness had not appeared as such a bleak break from Pope Benedict. I think many saw his first actions from the moment Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony and into his first week as a repudiation of the rebuilding of Catholic tradition by Pope Benedict. This has created anger and division in the traditional community that could have been and should have been avoided.
But with that said, let's focus on the things that Pope Francis has promoted that are traditional and bode well for the future of local parishes if bishops, priests, deacons and religious, not to mention the laity take the ball and run with it.
I would say the number one thing that Pope Francis is recovering is the popular use of the Sacrament of Confession. He has emphasized it over and over and over again and has modeled going to confession himself and publicly as well as hearing confessions as any priest would do.
One has to keep in mind that the 1970's brand of progressive theologians were happy to see this Sacrament fall into decline as it was a stumbling block for the ecumenical reunification of the Church movement. They promote absolution during general confession within the penitential act of the Mass or a General Absolution in a communal celebration of the Sacrament without auricular confession.
Pope Francis has completely ignored the General Absolution ideology!
With Pope Francis new emphasis and leadership in auricular Confession one cannot go to confession if one does not know what to confess. All priests know from personal experience and from hearing about it that most people have habitual sins they seem not to be able to avoid or overcome quickly. We counsel them to bring these to confession frequently and not wait until they have conquered them to once and for all finish with confessing that sin.
If mortal sin is mortal sin, shouldn't we cut people slack who are in irregular situations and cannot or will not for whatever reason overcome these quickly but nonetheless bring their sins to confession?
And the Holy Father has given confessors a second way--to be compassionate and understanding in the confession with those in "public" sin and when it is not possible to offer absolution, instead to offer a blessing. To be honest with you, until Pope Francis recommended this, I had never thought about this second option. At least it keeps the person connected in a non-sacramental way to the Sacrament of Confession and who knows what graces this will bring even when absolution is replaced with a blessing. I suspect a priest could use the non-sacramental absolution from the Mass itself. But more importantly the priest can offer spiritual and moral guidance within the context of a non-sacramental confession.
Number two, of course, is the recovery of popular devotions. I remember very well how progressives in the Church wanted to end all devotions even to the Blessed Virgin May because most popular devotions to the saints and the Blessed Sacrament offended Protestants and thus would be a stumbling block to ecumenism and eventual Church reunification. Of course we had to sacrifice our spirituality and devotional life for a Protestantized Catholicism to please the ecumenical movement of the 1960's and 70's.
Pope Francis who embraces much of the 1970's theology in other areas, does not embrace this form of ecumenism that waters down Catholic piety one IOTA.
Thirdly, Pope Francis also speaks frequently about the devil and his ungodly influence and about hell. He does not rule out the possibility of hell despite ambiguous statements to the contrary. This too would be anathema to certain progressive theologians of the 1970's mentality.
And finally, Pope Francis has not radically broken from the style of Mass at the Vatican that Pope Benedict recovered under his good and faithful servant Msgr. Guido Marini.
Pope Francis has offered several olive branches to the SSPX and the irony of all ironies, is that this liberal pope will be the one who allows them to return to a normal canonical status in the Church as either a personal prelature or ordinariate, maybe similar to the Anglican Ordinariate--but more numerous than they are.
And for the Holy Father to allow the SSPX to reject some of the pastoral theology of the Second Vatican Council, especially as it concerns a particular style of ecumenism, religious liberty, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with non believers and the secular culture is a bombshell to say the least.
Furthermore to allow them to forego the celebration of the Ordinary Form Mass is another bombshell step. I believe the agreement of Pope St. John Paul II with the FSSP which was to be a counterpoint to the SSPX was that the FSSP had to be able to celebrate the Novos Ordo Mass too. Correct me if I am wrong.
Furthermore, on the liturgical front which impacts the general Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite is the approval of the Ordinariate's new Missal which incorporates not only Anglican liturgical sensibilities compatible with Catholic liturgical doctrine, but also the EF elements it allows as options in the appendix. I think this is a bombshell too and too many are ignoring the advances of tradition in this missal altogether especially traditionalists.
For the Ordinary Form Mass to have EF elements even in the vernacular would appear to me be be what Sacrosanctum Concilium actually desired for a revised Mass as it envisioned, not what Pope Paul's committee did which ignored the wishes of the Council Fathers and replaced it with a Protestantized Mass that ignored Sacrosanctum Concilium altogether.