Sunday, February 2, 2020


There are two articles I just read, one from a more conservative blog and the other from a more progressive blog. Both articles, I think, point to the malaise of leadership in the Church since 2013: Press the title from Catholic World Report, first, and Crux, second, for the full articles that compliment one another:

Making sense of Pope Francis on faith, evangelization, and proselytizing

The Church of today, reminds me of the USA under the presidency of Jimmy Carter. He did away with presidential protocol and was a dreary, liberal president. It was all doom and gloom. He seemed depressed about this, that and the other.  During the energy crisis, the speed limit on interstate highways was reduced to 55 miles an hour (and everyone had muscle cars at that time!) And then he asked that no Christmas lights be put up outdoors to save electricity. How sour was that! Puritanical too!

It was all rather depressing until President Reagan saved the day with a recovery of the dignity of the office and protocols, as well as the pageantry of the Presidency. All this belongs not to a single president but to the “people” of the USA.

The same is true of the pageantry and dignity of the papal office; it doesn't belong to any one pope but to the papacy and the mystical Body of Christ. 

A similar thing under Pope Francis has taken place in a Carteresk sort of way. But it started with the aftermath of Vatican II. The triumphalism of Christ crucified and risen, and the redeemed theology of kingdom, monarchy and its trappings to point to Church Triumphant in heaven, were removed for more pedestrian elements similar to the "militant" pedestrian look of South American banana republics. Casual and blah, for the liturgy and the life of clergy and religious. This bled into the laity who got rid of their Sunday best for casual attire. 

Pope Benedict valiantly tried to recover the trappings of the papacy only to have that eliminated overnight. 

My own experience in Macon, Georgia which spanned his papacy was a sense of well being and happiness with the recovery of the more “triumphant” aspects of the Church’s liturgy and expressions of leadership which points the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant in heaven. There was real sorrow at his abdication. Our midday Mass on his last day was packed. Benedict energized the laity, especially the young laity and young clergy. That has all but disappeared under Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has brought more of a Jimmy Carter way to the Vatican and the Church and the Church has lost her mojo.

In fact, in the first week of the pontificate of Francis, people were very concerned about the 70's approach he was taking. 

The article from Catholic World Report its the nail on the head. Like President Carter, Pope Francis is negative and makes things either/or rather than the more Catholic both/and. We need not just Scripture, but Tradition also (it’s too bad that last Sunday wasn’t name Scripture and Tradition Sunday). It’s not either good preaching or good witness of life. It is both. It isn’t just faith or good works, it is both.

Pope Francis uses “no” to much in his negative preaching about doctors of the law and other ways expressing himself as well as name calling which is to be humorous, but it leaves people scratching their heads and wondering and depressed and yes, confused.

And the self-referentiality that Pope Francis hates and preaches against is exactly what he has returned to the Church through the synodal process. Things once thought to be settled are opened anew again and creating confusion and a loss of Catholic identity. It seems everything is up for grabs again. It’s the late 60’s and early 70’s all over again (the time of the Jimmy Carters).

How can we recover our mojo? Ratzinger’s very Catholic theology is the way of the future 


Anonymous said...

The myth of the halcyon days of Ronald Reagan should be examined.

Reagan championed the "smaller government" model. Yet, when he came into office there were 2.129 million federal employees. When he left office, the number was 5.3 million.

Reagan and his fellow republicans railed against deficits. Yet, when he came into office federal deficit spending was $79 billion. When he left office, the deficit spending was $155 billion.

Reagan, in his campaign, promised to propose a balanced federal budget. When he departed after 8 years in office, he had proposed a balance budget not once. Not once.

Reagan praised NASA and the work it had done and could do. Yet, his "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative struggled for years before collapsing, costing taxpayers $33 billion.

Reagan was a friend to the apartheid government of South Africa, initially opposed the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he armed Saddam Hussein when it was known to be using those weapons against its own population, he illegally supplied weapons to Nicaraguan rebels, the tax code he enacted led to the closure of 750 financial institutions which cost taxpayers $150 billion, and he largely ignored the AIDS crisis.

His recovery of "dignity and protocols" was nothing but window dressing. He "tied on a maniple" and, for doing so, was hailed as a restorer of all things wonderful and great.

The facts don't support the apotheosis of Ronald.

Dan said...

Francis is doing everything he can to make sure the Church is fully mojoed-up. Synodality will ensure that one diocese is not like another. The Amazonian face will be just one enrichment among what I hope will be 'symphony' of influences mojoing up every mass

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Interesting that you wish to politicize this post and completely miss my point, which isn't politics. Yes, it is about window dressing in the Church and good works, both/and, not either/or.

My point is that window dressing and good works go hand in hand and neither should be lacking.

Dan said...

Anonymous raises some good points.... I miss Ronald Reagan...

Vatican Zero said...

Father, you missed the point with Anonymous:

For liberals and modernists, EVERYTHING is political. So if you take any great leader of the past, be it Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan or Pius X, they simply cannot stand silent without rebuking the praise. It's just too much of a threat. Anyone with a laptop and an IQ over 90 could easily rebut the hackneyed assertions this person made. But as you said, the point isn't politics. Some people will never get that. How Bergoglian!

John Nolan said...

Actually, your photograph of the London Oratory does not show Candlemas but the Forty Hours devotion (Quarant'Ore) which takes place in Lent, and is traditionally accompanied by the lighting of dozens of candles.

This morning I was helping out with the chant at a parish which has a large attendance at the EF Mass (served by the FSSP) which precedes the Ordinary Form parish Mass. There is no apartheid between those who attend one or the other. Towards the end of Mass the children's choir (aged 7-10) came up into the choir loft and sang Jesu Dulcis Memoria and Alma Redemptoris Mater. It was beautiful and moving, even for cynical dinosaurs like me.

We were discussing 'children's Masses' on an earlier thread. Children can be taught simple chant easily and see singing in Latin or Greek as 'cool'. The late great Mary Berry realized this and used to hold chant workshops for children. Unfortunately, many of their purblind elders are utterly ignorant of this, as well as of what constitutes liturgy. The only consolation is that they will all soon be dead.

Anonymous said...

Window dressing is window dressing, whether it is in politics or liturgy.

Vatican Zero, I am not threatened in the least by facts. You want to gloss over the serious flaws of those you admire in order to paint an image that doesn't reflect reality.

I prefer not to live in a phantasy.

Dan said...

"You want to gloss over the serious flaws of those you admire in order to paint an image that doesn't reflect reality."

Is Anonymous talking about Mark Thomas and Francis?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Anon @ 8:08 and 10:58 has NOTHING to say about the topic of the thread: “How can Holy Mother Church get her mojo back?”. Instead we get a lecture about Ronald Reagan?? What the heck goes on in the hearts and minds of people like that...

Vatican Zero said...


No need to take the bait. This smells like the troll who likes to steer us off topic.

rcg said...

Wow, people are easily distracted. Hopefully back to the point: no problem. Before honor comes humility.

John Nolan said...

In 1994, while holidaying in Hungary, I encountered a group of young Polish men. When they found out I was a Brit, they insisted on buying me drinks. The only English words they knew were 'Margaret Thatcher' and 'Ronald Reagan'. These, they believed, were the people to whom they owed their freedom (they might also have added Karol Wojtyla).

They didn't give a hoot about Federal budget deficits. Anonymous would no doubt dismiss them as deluded fools. But the endorsement and implementation of the 'dual track' strategy regarding theatre nuclear weapons by both leaders is now seen as the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Thatcher had to face down a resurgent 'peace movement' and persuade European allies to come on side. Reagan had to counter accusations that he was a trigger-happy warmonger.

Great men (and women) are not judged by the mistakes they make. Churchill made plenty. What singles them out for greatness is that in issues that really matter they make the right decision and stick to it. Churchill did in 1941; Reagan did in 1981.

To a disinterested observer, Reagan was arguably the greatest President since Harry Truman.

Anonymous said...

"But the endorsement and implementation of the 'dual track' strategy regarding theatre nuclear weapons by both leaders is now seen as the beginning of the end of the Cold War."

What a sad, simple-minded analysis. The Cold War has not ended, by any stretch of a warped imagination.

Two days ago it was announced that the United States has, since mid-2019, been arming its nuclear submarines with a new, smaller nuclear weapon. It is a "tactical" weapon we are told. The development and deployment of this new agent of mass destruction was called for by the Trump administration shortly after it came into power.

This is the direct result of the new, smaller "tactical" weapon, reported to travel at hypersonic speeds, that has been in development in Russia for over a decade.

This is the direct result, also, of the launch of a new class of Russian SSBN (nuclear powered ballistic submarines) of the Borei class which have one purpose, the destruction of an adversary's cities in the event other nuclear forces are wiped out in a first strike. These new submarines are quieter at higher speeds due to the use of pump-jet propulsion systems.

The Bulava missiles carried in the new Russian submarines have a much lower trajectory when launched, making them much harder to intercept.

No, there has been no "end" to the Cold War. Foolish national leaders have the foolish concept that one can end a Cold War and end an arms race by building bigger, faster, harder to detect weapons. The foolishness knows no bounds.

Vatican Zero said...

Ironically,"mojo" is a superstitious term for a spell-related item that can be traced to the culture that gave us blues music early in the last century. It seems rather strange to apply such a term to our Church, but the point is well taken. The Church will continue to flounder as long as we have such a divided, indecisive identity. And it starts at the top.

Driveling Sod said...

Wow, anonymous! You really told us!

I'm sure everyone here who likes Reagan and Thatcher have all changed their minds now!

Thanks for that FASCINATING explanation!

Anonymous said...

Ronald Reagan didn't restore "mojo" with his window dressing. The blog owner's premise was wrong. That's why you got the facts about Reagan.

If you want to discuss window dressing, we can talk about having the right number of candles on the altar and the right proportion of beeswax in those candles.

We can talk about the varieties of lace that are used in making albs. Should it be hand made, or is machine made lace going to do the trick? It an alb that is one-third lace better than an alb that is two-thirds lace, or vice-versa.

Such weighty decisions...

Are we going to have mosaics or murals on the walls? If mosaics, should the style be modern, pre-Islamic Persian, or are we going for Baroque?

And just what color should the pom-pom on a biretta be?

But, for the sake of discussion...

“How can Holy Mother Church get her mojo back?”

First, the Church has not lost her mojo. The only mojo we have is grace, and the only way that grace usually operates through us is that we allow ourselves to be led by the Truth of the Scriptures and the Teachings of the Church.

That mojo is still available to us, and doesn't depend at all on lace, beeswax, or wall decorations.

We become vectors of grace when we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. That's when people will be touched by the presence of Christ in us. We accomplish the task of evangelization we were given at Baptism when we feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the sick, visit those in prison, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger.

We can let inconsequential matters consume us, or we can repent of our own personal sins and begin again to do what the Gospel tells us to do.

Anonymous said...

Carter the liberal? The same Jimmy Carter who ran a racist campaign for governor in 1970 against Augusta's Carl Sanders? While Carter was president, the Hyde Amendment was passed, wasteful water projects were cut, some Amtrak passenger trains annulled. I will concede though he was naïve on foreign policy. In any event, one term as governor of Georgia did not prepare him for the real world of the presidency.

Anonymous said...

Sod, Bless your heart.

Driveling Sod said...

Wow Anonymous! Thanks again! I feel so much smarter after reading all of your infallible opinions and facts! Thank goodness we have you to inform us what is inconsequential and what is not!

Thanks again! You are SO wise!
(of course YOU already knew that!)

60's Survivor said...

"First, the Church has not lost her mojo..."
Of course not, because "mojo" is a term for a superstitious talisman or charm. But the Church HAS lost a great deal of esteem, respectability and moral authority in the world for the last 40 years.

"That mojo is still available to us, and doesn't depend at all on lace, beeswax, or wall decorations."
Actually, Pius XII warned us back in 1947 that restoring outdated liturgical practices because they were simpler or more primitive (like replacing altars with tables) or trying to shame the Church for her liturgical practices was WICKED. Thank goodness we know better than poor Pope Pius because now that's all FASHIONABLE, HIP AND OH, SO...70'S!

Imagine! Some of us actually thought the 70's were finally over. Thank goodness we had Bergoglio to set us straight!

John Nolan said...


You don't know what you are talking about (no surprise there). In the early 1980s I was studying nuclear strategy, among other related aspects, under Professor Lawrence Freedman at the Department of War Studies, King's College, London. There was no doubt at that time that the Cold War was a reality, and that the Soviet Union was a superpower.

What are your qualifications for assuming that Putin's Russia with its ailing economy is in the same league, or glossing over the obvious fact that the end of the Cold War was manifested in the freeing of central and eastern Europe from totalitarian control?

The terms 'first strike' and 'second strike' refer to overall capabilities. The possession of a secure second strike capability prevents an adversary from having a first strike capability, and the deployment of SSBN by the nuclear powers for almost sixty years has guaranteed this.

All weapons systems need to be modernized - Polaris was replaced by Poseidon and then Trident - but to see this in terms of an arms race is to miss the point. No war in history was ever caused by an arms race. In what respect can it be 'foolishness' to maintain armed forces which are up-to-date? It would be folly to do otherwise.

If you like, I can provide you with a reading list, which might, just might, convince you that reputable analysts and historians are not sad, simple-minded or possessed of a warped imagination.

Anonymous said...

Sod, Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

Maintaining outdated liturgical practices because they more complex and more modern might also be called "wicked."

Anonymous said...

"What are your qualifications for assuming that Putin's Russia with its ailing economy is in the same league, or glossing over the obvious fact that the end of the Cold War was manifested in the freeing of central and eastern Europe from totalitarian control?

Never mentioned it. Nor did you, till now. Divert much?

"The terms 'first strike' and 'second strike' refer to overall capabilities."

Never mentioned it. Nor did you, till now. Divert much?

"No war in history was ever caused by an arms race."

Never mentioned it. Nor did you, till now. I'll follow this diversion, though. Wars may - MAY - not have been caused by arms races, but, once begun, the buildup of arms prior to that point surely contributed to the death and destruction that came about, no?

Dan said...

Look everyone, let's all just admit that "Anonymous" is lot's more kind hearted and compassionate then the rest of us. He demonstrates the values of the humble and holy Francis in a most perfect way. You can tell by tone of superiority towards, and contempt for, anyone who disagrees with him.

The many virtues of his heart is plain to me.

John Nolan said...

Annymous, to quote you:

'The Cold War has not ended, by any stretch of a warped imagination.'

'... in the event that other nuclear forces are wiped out in a first strike.'

'... the foolish concept that one can end an arms race by building bigger, faster, harder to detect weapons ...'

I suspect that you are as ill-informed about defence matters as you are about liturgy, but if you are going to plagiarize, at least take the trouble to read what you have copied.

Vatican Zero said...

What's particularly interesting is that Anonymous immediately boasted to us that he is "not threatened in the least" by facts.

I never accused him of being threatened by facts.

What I meant was that people of his ilk are ALWAYS threatened at the suggestion that history might judge someone they dislike (like a conservative leader) in a positive light.

Anonymous MUST have the last word in these matters and he will beat the horse to death to feel like his has proven his point. If you don't believe me, just wait for what will follow this post.

Another Anonymous said...

I have a theory about the superiority anonymous guy: Can't prove it, but I think he is a priest for this diocese. If he went fully public with his opinions, he might get in some hot water, so he's playing it safe and having the time of his life putting down all the rest of us "fools" that he will not "suffer".

Then again, with THIS diocese, such a priest probably could get away with saying whatever he wished--just so long as it tows the party line.

John Nolan said...

Another Anonymous

Be that as it may, someone who gives us his (or more likely someone else's) take on the Cold War, and the meaning of 'first strike' and 'arms race' cannot complain if others challenge his interpretation. However, to flatly deny he mentioned any of these terms is palpably untrue.

Someone who regards disagreement as 'diversion' is immediately suspect. Diversion from the party line in totalitarian régimes is tantamount to error. When he is also a bare-faced liar, it compounds the offence. If he is a priest (and I hope not) he is a disgrace to his cloth.

Watch this space. He will come back spluttering, internet shouting, and making sarcastic comments about people being 'superior'. However, in his case the irony is misplaced - every other commentator on this blog is superior to him, and in his heart of hearts he knows it.

Anonymous said...

Another, What opinions of Anonymous would get him into hot water?

Dan said...

Don't worry Anonymous, you could be filmed doing a public pole dance for Fr. James Martin SJ, and you would not get in hot water. Perhaps invited into a hot tub, or maybe promoted to a Vatican position, but not in trouble.