Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Of course, as we all know, Pope Benedict never rode in an open air jeep, he had to be behind bullet proof glass all the time!

Everyone is trying to read the tea leaves or focus their crystal balls to see where Pope Francis will lead the Church. So every move he makes, we think there is a symbolic meaning behind it, when in fact there may simply be practical considerations.

Also, I do think the "smoke of Satan" is entering the Church and her various divisive factions to derail Pope Francis or derail the traditionalist's desire for more respect from the institutional Church especially her pastors, i.e. bishops and priests.

Thus some in the Church with the aid of the media, both Catholic and otherwise seem to be pitting Pope Francis against Pope Benedict and thus tradition. John Allen in the NCR, the National Chismatic Reporter, has a good article on this which you can READ HERE.

1. The first incendiary false report, reported though on Catholic blogs as fact, was that Pope Francis told Msgr. Marini, the papal Master of Ceremonies, that when he was given the mozzetta to put on prior to coming to the loggia for his announcement, that he told Msgr. Marini, "the carnival is over." That is somewhat crass and insulting not only to Msgr. Marini but to many others in the Church, but evidently not all. Many took sinful pleasure in this falsehood. We know now, that it is Pope Francis' desire to not to put on airs. Now we might not like that, we might disagree with that, but that is the fact. He didn't say "the carnival is over."

2. A complete falsehood to make Pope Benedict look bad compared to the new pope is that Pope Francis immediately sent Cardinal Law packing to a monastery. This was reported as fact and even many of my commenters were duped by this fake story. It was a parody, I believe, to show that either Pope Benedict could have done this as easily as Pope Francis did, or that Pope Francis isn't going to do anything like Pope Benedict. In either case it is a slam against the pope.

3. The other contrast is that Pope Francis is the "people's pope" and Pope Benedict never engaged the crowds or rode in an open air jeep in the square. That is a lie as evidenced by the photos above taken just last year.

We know too that Pope Benedict wore simple vestments of modern style, as well as miters, and that he wore very elaborate, ornate antique vestments and that he likes the little "t" traditions associated with the papal court and the deference shown the office of the papacy, although I would say that Pope Benedict himself is a very humble person. But he was able to make the distinction between his own personality and the personality of the office, so to speak and enhanced the personality of the office while subduing his own.

Pope Francis has a different take on this and is imposing, as it were, what he would perceive to be a noble simplicity upon the office of the papacy in line with his theology of the Church identifying with the poor and that possessions are not important as you can't put them in the pocket of your burial shroud since there aren't any.

Just as many progressives dislike so much that Pope Benedict brought back, including the 1962 missal, traditionalists will dislike Pope Francis putting some of these things back into the closet and ignoring them. I don't think he will suppress any of them and certainly not Summorum Pontificum. He won't advocate it either. I think he will have a live and let live papacy especially as it regards the liturgy, OF or EF.

But if you notice the photo of Pope Benedict out in the open air jeep less than a year ago, you will notice that his vestments are as simple as the one that Pope Francis wore on Palm Sunday.

A year from now we will be in a better position to evaluate the pros and cons of the papacy of Pope Francis and what effect it is having on the Church.

So far, I think his mandate and agenda are the following, some of which will affect bishops more than laity and priests. So his agenda may be to reform the style of the bureaucracy of the Church and that will be good, for both at the Vatican and in dioceses the bureaucracy sometimes thwarts the ministry of bishops and is not responsive to either the bishop's agenda or the needs of the Church, universal or local.

So this is the agenda I see emerging for the papacy of Pope Francis.

1. He will model for other bishops what bishops should be doing in their own dioceses. That is why Pope Francis is emphasizing that he is the Bishop of Rome and is trying first to win his own diocese over to him. He is the pope of the people and is reaching out to his parishioners and endearing them to him. All bishops should be doing that and not set themselves so distant from the laity that he seem unapproachable.

2. His liturgies are quite beautiful thus far, very reverent and very solemn. Okay, he can't sing but we can't hold that against him or make more out of that than it is. Bishops should have beautiful liturgies.

3. The curia will be reformed and streamlined and that will be a blessing on many levels. Dioceses need to do the same thing. BLOAT is the biggest problem in many dioceses with some personnel power hungry rather than service oriented, carping at the very people they are to serve rather than supporting them. The amount of money spent on useless positions is a scandal both in the Vatican and local dioceses.

4. He will be like Pope John Paul II in his ability to inspire young and bring them closer to the Church and Christ. He will continue to challenge the dictatorship of relativism and individualism as Pope Benedict did.

5. He will continue to try to recover from the sex scandals in the Church and purify the Church of the filth. But he is going to preach mercy and its great abyss and that the Church should not bow to the revenge seeking victim advocacy groups and the litigious lawyers who are profiting off of this tragedy. Reconciliation between the bishops who have sinned in their mismanagement of their dioceses and the laity put off by the scandal of infidelity and perversion left unchecked will be his goal, but not in the worldly sense of revenge seeking, but justice tempered by mercy.


Other myths debunked, like Pope Benedict never ate or would sip in public:

And Pope Benedict sipping water publicly at Christmas Eve Mass this past year and wearing the fannon to boot while he does it. You can't get any more humble than that!

And of course Pope Benedict never touched or kissed people, so cold and aloof was he:

Yes this was taken when Benedict was still pope:


qwikness said...

My heart cries whenever I see Pope Benedict. I hate that he left.

Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,
Many thanks for this post and for your fine blog.
A person naturally disposed towards optimism will search for the positive side of this transition, appropriately enough.
But for those Catholics, especially priests, who optimistically followed the liturgical leadership of Pope Benedict, even when this brought us suffering, we now need to come to terms with the present reality.
Certainly we should hope for the best. But the simple fact is that there are no indications in our new pope's past or in his present that he will build upon the liturgical reforms proposed by his immediate predecessor. Therefore, it is imprudent to proceed with the "reform of the reform" movement knowing that this movement has little support among bishops and no leadership in Rome.
We must support the new pope, but we need not deny reality in doing so.

John Nolan said...

Fr Allan, you and I are of the same generation and lived through the last ten years of Paul VI's reign when it appeared that the Church was in freefall. Along came JP II, elected as a compromise candidate but who was the only great man on the world stage in the last quarter of the 20th century. He moved quickly to stop the rot in the Church and yet was able to play a major part in the defeat of Soviet communism, the greatest threat to freedom in the 20th century.

There is a tendency among so-called conservatives which wants the Church to turn in on itself and get overly concerned with vestment styles (JP II's were dire) and rubrical niceties. There is no going back to the 1970s; those who set the agenda then do not do so now. Benedict, with great wisdom, empowered priests and laity with regard to the classical Roman Rite, and there is no turning back unless we, who are empowered, make the conscious effort to do so.

rcg said...

It seems that people will misconstrue what a Pope does, regardless of who he is. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis are both enduring lies and slander coming from within the Church. I am not sure Satan needs credit for any of that.

WSquared said...

"Therefore, it is imprudent to proceed with the "reform of the reform" movement knowing that this movement has little support among bishops and no leadership in Rome."

It kinda depends on what you mean by "reform of the reform," now doesn't it? Pope Francis's approach to the liturgy, while simpler, already fits nicely within the "reform of the reform." That's reality, too, JBS Was Here, and God is good.

Simply because the new Pope is not the liturgist that Benedict XVI was does not mean that he can or will suppress what is already allowed by "Sacrosanctum Concilium." I also see no indication that Pope Francis will suppress "Summorum Pontificum," either. Why do trads and progressives both expect any sort of "in your face" gesture from this Pope, especially when that doesn't seem to be his way with anyone at all? This wasn't even true of Pope Benedict.

Also, it's not like any bishop, no matter how much he may dislike the 1962 Roman Missal and the EF, has the authority to suppress "Summorum Pontificum." He may not support it, but he can't order any priest not to offer it, or censure any priest for offering it, or to not celebrate the OF ad orientem with chant and polyphony, say. Perhaps that's the thing to do: suppose a priest, hypothetically in a worst-case scenario, gets trouble from his bishop for celebrating the EF. Well, what's to stop that priest from complaining to the Congregation of Divine Worship if he has to? And in the meantime, what's to stop that priest from bringing what he's learned from the EF, including and especially chant and polyphony, into the OF? What's to stop him from drawing on the EF to better catechize his flock through his homilies? Also, what's to stop laypeople who know both the OF and EF from bringing their EF sensibilities to any OF Mass at which they find themselves?

The toothpaste is already out of the tube. So are we going to brush our teeth with it or whine about the brand? The problem with way too many EF and OF proponents is that they live in their own liturgical bubbles, and it becomes more about what they want and what makes them feel comfortable, and less about what the Church asks of us and what she allows.

WSquared said...

It's also important to realize that the conciliar backbone of the "reform of the reform" is "Sacrosanctum Concilium," and not "Summorum Pontificum." If anything, "Summorum Pontificum" was supposed to be an aid and a guide to the former, draw much-needed attention to it, and pastorally provide for those who love the Traditional Latin Mass. No bishop can suppress Gregorian chant and polyphony in the OF, regardless of whether we have the EF alongside the OF (again, "Sacrosanctum Concilium" not only allows these musical forms, but actively encourages it). The worst an unsympathetic bishop can do is not encourage it, but that's not quite the same thing as suppressing anything.

And I like Fr. Z's exhortation to traditionalists, which is also applicable to anyone sympathetic to the "reform of the reform": Benedict XVI has given us a nice, shiny new bicycle. Now it's time to take the training wheels off and ride the darn thing!

How much more "leadership and support from the top" do we need in addition to what we've already been given? Do we whine for more, or do we actually use the EF and the OF both, knowing what both have given us, not least of which involves showing how the two complement and can inform each other, to catechize and evangelize? Sure, there are certain things that may be frustrating, because they will take time, but why do we not talk about what we can do with what we've been given instead of lamenting that Francis's example somehow means that we "can't"?

Being EF-only snobs, and not wanting to touch the OF is not an option: the only way in which we're going to convince anyone that their fears of the EF are misplaced is to know and be comfortable in both forms, knowing most of all that Jesus is still present. That this focus is more obvious in the EF is something to be shared.

And I do stress form here: crappy pop music and hymns that make the Heretical Hit Parade may be an unfortunate fixture at many an OF Mass, but they are not demanded by, or inherent or intrinsic to, the form itself. Those things can seriously deform the OF, but they're not enough to destroy it completely (again, this much is obvious if you go to a daily, no frills, low-Mass OF). Benedict XVI gave us "Summorum Pontificum" not as a concession to any particular group, but because he thought it could help the whole Church realize what was laid out in Vatican II, on not just the Sacred Liturgy, but a whole host of other things that assume a Christocentric focus in clergy and laity-- like "Gaudium et Spes."

Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has been at the forefront of promoting with precision and clarity that Christocentric expression of the faith and given us the theological vocabulary, to boot. He's also pointed out in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith how those who seek cliques within the Eucharistic communion actually spoil the Eucharist for everyone else.

Unknown said...

Fr. McD,

It isn't quite that simple though. While we would like it to be the sad fact is that Pope Francis is undoing the ceremonials that Pope Benedict worked so hard to have restored. He may not say it in so many words, but just as priests and bishops took their lead from Pope Benedict, they also take their lead from Pope Francis. So, if His Holiness doesn't deem them to be important enough to wear, then those so-called trappings will fall by the wayside, just like what Paul VI did.

In the same vein, even Pope Francis must remember that his personal style does not dictate the Church's traditions (small t). Those are defined by the Traditions (big T). So, it is quite improper for Pope Francis to decline ANYTHING associated with the pontificate. He isn't Jorge Bergoglio any longer, he is Francis, Bishop of Rome, etc...

So, to decline a mozzetta, which is proper to his office or to not wear a pontifical dalmatic, or to forgo the gold and white cord might seem trivial to some, it is a very important visual aspect of continuity for the Church as a whole. To deny the Church that is to abuse her, even so slightly. But then again, no abuse is slight.

Regarding the Papal Court, we cannot forget that the Pope is Sovereign, even if he doesn't want to admit it. To be honest and IMHO, this transgression is as just as grievous as skipping the Our Father. What is proper should be done.

As for sending Card. Law to a monestary...heck, he should have been sent there long ago. The man is a creep and he deserves to spend his days in penance and offering holy Mass for the reparation of his transgressions (the same applies to Soens, Weakland, O'Brien, Mahoney, and any other who is complicit in the coverup or guilty of misconduct).

Finally, and sadly, I don't see there being much of a revival of Catholicism in Francis' pontificate. What I do see is that he will work hard to combat the sexual abuse issues and that is important, but it won't lead people to the Church. The Church will shrink. And that's ok, as long as the Church is able to grow after the pruning.

Anonymous 2 said...

Well said, WSquared! Although we will not agree on every detail (the characterization of folk masses, for example), we are in broad agreement. When I wrote my comment in the earlier thread on “The People’s Pope” (about Dr. Godsey’s article) this afternoon, I did not have the benefit of having read your comment here. But I believe our two comments nicely complement one another.

Unknown said...

Watch how fast the supporters of the symboless Pontificate will desert him if he were to walk into their home and tell them they live lavishly and start selling it off and donating the proceeds. Or to drive a car from 1978 and get rid of the SUV. If people are not willing to give up their personal luxuries that we have accumulated since 78 then they should not want the Church to return to 1978 either. To do otherwise smacks of hypocrisy. The Church has spent the last 8 years learning the importance of symbolism and its' meaning. To have any Pope trample upon it is wrong. Pope Benedict wore just as simple of vestments AND more elegant articles. He satisfied both sides of the debate.

Gregorian Mass said...

WSquared, For the list of what a Bishop can't do I will only say they do, they have, and they will. Read a bit more history and reporting about the EF Mass from both playing fields.

Templar said...

"Symboless Ponificate". Yes, that has the right ring to it.