Saturday, June 22, 2013


Recalling and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the election of Pope Paul Vi, Pope Francis focused on Pope Paul VI’s love of the Church and said his predecessor had a “clear vision that the Church is a Mother who carries Christ and leads to Christ.”

Pope Francis quoted Pope Paul's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi:

“After the Council and thanks to the Council, which was a time given her by God, at this turning-point of history, does the Church or does she not find herself better equipped to proclaim the Gospel and to put it into people's hearts with conviction, freedom of spirit and effectiveness?... Is she firmly established in the midst of the world and yet free and independent enough to call for the world's attention? Does she testify to solidarity with people and at the same time to the divine Absolute? Is she more ardent in contemplation and adoration and more zealous in missionary, charitable and liberating action? Is she ever more committed to the effort to search for the restoration of the complete unity of Christians, a unity that makes more effective the common witness?”

Pope Francis said these questions are also the ones which confront today’s Church.

“All of us, we are all responsible for the answers; and we should ask ourselves: Are we really a Church united to Christ, prepared to go out and announce Him to everyone, even, and especially, in what I call the ‘existential suburbs,’ or do we close in on ourselves, in our groups?” Pope Francis asked.

MY COMMENT: Are we closed in on ourselves? Pope Francis is indeed in continuity with Pope Benedict who often referred to the self-referential Church, the narcissistic Church as those groups (parishes?) who worship God in a purely horizontal way, forgetting the vertical dimension that leads us out of ourselves toward God and our neighbors outside of worship, to the periphery of salvation history in geography.


ytc said...

To answer Paul's questions, no.

Henry said...

"Pope Francis is indeed in continuity with Pope Benedict"

Wishing this does not make it so. Isn't it becoming clear that we should "Read Francis through Paul VI"? For example, on the liturgy:

"it has become pretty obvious that the Supreme Legislator does not consider the rubrics of the liturgy are that important, in fact it seems as if they can be ignored, or changed at will. . . . . It is pretty obvious from the Pope's personal liturgical style that any Priest or Bishop can do anything they like in the Ordinary Form, or are there limits?"

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are four things that he does that are not completely kosher, two of which are understandable and two of which he should explain.

He does have knee issues and thus bow profoundly rather than genuflecting. This is permissible when there is a physical reason as to why one can't genuflect properly.

He can't carry a tune and thus does not sing any part of the Mass--this is a sad development to say the least but completely understandable.

He offers the Epiclesis in an odd way by placing his hands on the offerings rather than holding them over the offerings. I'd like to know why.

At daily Mass, not at public Sunday Masses that are televised, he allows concelebrants to hold both the Paten with the Host and the Chalice at the Per Ipsum and he holds nothing. This is odd, strange and unfortunate and he should explain.

In terms of vesture, he is certainly in the realm of what is allowed and yes, he is the supreme legislator.

But keep in mind that Pope Benedict modeled elements of the liturgy that many felt he should not because these were not the norm and he never mandated them only model them. So Francis seems to be doing the same in a different way.

But the continuity issues has more to do with the faith and morals of the Church and obedience to the Magisterium in defined teachings.

Henry said...

Would you agree, Fr. McDonald, that during the past 40 years, faith and morality and belief in the Church's defined teachings has declined along with liturgical decline, and worry that belief will be restored only as the liturgy is restored (the liturgy being the "source and summit" of our faith)?

If this is so, would it suggest that the Church may have to await the next papacy for a restoration of faith and morals and liturgy?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Pope Benedict's influence on the liturgy only went to the choir (those who have the same affinity). I don't know of that many parishes that actually implemented any of what he taught or modeled. And this includes SP which from an implementation point of view has been a disaster.
What Pope Francis is doing is emphasizing over and over again fidelity to the Magisterium, meaning the pope and bishops in union with them.
Isn't infidelity the problem and certainly even with Pope Benedict?

Unknown said...

I think that from reading your post, I've got a sense of dread. Not so much because we consistently see the leadership of the Church do dreadful things (they have), but rather because this mentality of the late 1960s and 1970s continues to pervade the leadership's stream of consciousness.

The questions that Paul VI asked were and still are very dated and very horizontal questions. The problem is that almost everyone is trying to make them more vertical and more objective. They simply aren't. Pope Francis is missing the point on these questions.

"[D]oes the Church or does she not find herself better equipped to proclaim the Gospel and to put it into people's hearts with conviction, freedom of spirit and effectiveness?"

That is an unanswerable question, because it has such a subjective tone that to answer it objectively is to pigeon-hole oneself to a political position in the Church, as seen by her leadership.

"Is she firmly established in the midst of the world and yet free and independent enough to call for the world's attention?"

Who knows. So far the leadership of the Church has done a pretty poor job of maximizing that sentiment.

"Does she testify to solidarity with people and at the same time to the divine Absolute?"

What exactly is the "divine Absolute?" Is it God? Is it something else, there is nothing to base that premise upon in Catholic theology, which is of any merit.

"Is she more ardent in contemplation and adoration and more zealous in missionary, charitable and liberating action?"

Again, way too subjective. And way too divisive. These simply are not questions that REALLY pertain to the Church, but they are the quasi-intellectual questions of 60 and 70 somethings who are trying desperately to hold on to a failed mode of philosophical and theological thought.

"Is she ever more committed to the effort to search for the restoration of the complete unity of Christians, a unity that makes more effective the common witness?”"

These questions are so poor that it is a microcosm of Paul VI's pontificate. He spent his entire Papacy trying to be the "social justice Pope" that he overlooked himself. So much so, that the one thing that he did right (Humanae Vitae), is largely ignored.

My view is that we shouldn't be asking the unaswerables of 1965, but rather we should be addressing the timeless questions and promoting the REAL answers the Church can give, from the year 33 until today.

Pater Ignotus said...

Becoming self-referential is a problem for any organization. It is not a particularly a church-y thing.

If we emphasize MISSION over MAINTENANCE then we have the proper understanding of the reason the Church exists. And this proper understanding will be the driving force behind all that we do.

Mind you, maintenance is necessary, but when it become the primary goal of a priest, individual Catholic, parish, religious order, etc., then the baptismal call to evangelize gets shunted to the "later, when we find the time" category.

Henry said...

"Pope Benedict's influence on the liturgy only went to the choir (those who have the same affinity)"

But surely this deficiency in Benedict's papacy did no harm to the Church. Can we say the same thing if Francis's papacy encourages those who share his emancipated view of the liturgy? Or will this simply take the Church back to the Paul V era?

Jgr said...

I see what Pope Francis is getting at. Let's look at one country in Europe, France,
which at one time formed (along with a number of other countries on that continent), the Citadel of Catholicism. It is unfortunately a shell of what it once was.
That country produced some of the greatest saints in the History of the Church and also many.many
unknown saints who went out as missionaries and evangelized various parts of the world. Of
course this was the story with many other European countries and one could just as well use
as an example the countries of Italy or Spain.

French Saints just from the 19th Century(I'm listing only the most well-known here-not the
lesser known or the numerous Blesseds).

Therese de Lisieux (Therese of the Child Jesus)

Bernadette Soubirous

Rose Philippine Duchesne

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Peter Chanel

Eugene de Mazenod

John Vianney

Peter Julian Eymard

Catherine Laboure

To produce such a list of Saints in just one century would be a great accomplishment but perhaps
Frances greatest contribution in the 19th Century is reflected in the French martyr saints of Vietnam
which at one time was part of what was known as French Indochina.

Joseph Marchand

Pierre Dumoulin-Borie

Jean-Théophane Vénard

John Paul II canonized these and 114 others (most of whom were Vietnamese-some were Spanish missionaries)

Between the 15th and 19th century it has been estimated that there were between 150,000
and 300,000 Vietnamese martyrs.
There was the Catholic church in Vietnam primarily because of French

Does Pope Francis want us to re-capture the Pre-Vatican II fervency and devotion which
produced such as this? While retaining legitamite updates?
Can we say anything other than Yes?

Joseph Johnson said...

If the implementation of Summorum Pontificum has been a disaster then it is only because so many bishops have tried to contain or squelch it and, more significantly, very few priests seem to be willing to learn and offer the Extraordinary Form when requested. This leaves interested laity with a very real practical difficulty when they want the EF, especially if they live in an area with very few Catholic churches (one serving more than one county) as is common in the Diocese of Savannah.

Joseph Johnson said...

Maybe someone else with more knowledge on this should chime in but, from what limited information I have been able to glean, the SSPX is much more vibrant and fervent in France than the "regular" diocesan parish Catholicism in that country.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JGR, I think you hit the nail on the head--we've got to recover our missionary zeal and commitment to the faith. Renewal groups are doing it within the Vatican II context and there is no reason why parishes can't either and what you say is the way and what Pope Francis is consistently harping upon. By Vatican II I mean interpreting it has Pope Benedict has laid out at his Christmas message several years ago to the cardinals, reform in continuity.

Dan Z said...

Paul VI was the worst pope of the 20th century. I am concerned the current pope, Francis, holds Paul VI in such high regard. Why doesn't he quote Leo XII or Pius X more often? Why is it always Paul VI, the worst pope of the 20th century, he goes back to?

jgr said...

Pope Francis and what he does and is about is informed by where he comes from and what he was exposed to. Like any country, Argentina has
its traditionalists and its liberals
and those in between. Latin American Catholicism also has its own unique flavor. Like France it is officially Catholic but becoming more nominally so although not yet to the extent of many of the European countries. A lot of what he says and speaks to has to do with his experience with the Church in Argentina, but which also in many ways speaks to the Worlwide Church.The Pope in some ways is not unlike a football coach who has to prod and exhort his players to go out on the field and give everything they've got in them in the effort to winning souls. This would include those who choose to be conemplatives, who serve in their own unique way.
As far as his criticism of bishops,I
don't think he would have any problem at all with someone like John Neumann.

Dan Z said...

I meant to write "Leo XIII".

John Nolan said...

Back in the 1970s, those who argued for the Traditional Mass claimed that all they wanted was parity of esteem between the new rite and the old. SP has granted this, and it is now established juridically. It is unlikely that any pope would have the temerity (or the inclination) to undo this.

It is true that a lot of bishops still resent it; that EF Masses are often scheduled at awkward times and not advertised; but there are many young priests who have taken the trouble to learn the Roman Rite, at least regarding the Mass, as well as some older priests who have dusted off their Latin and are prepared to give it a go, and what mistakes they make are easily forgiveable.

Don't expect a sudden turnaround. These things take time, and the Church thinks in centuries. YTC will see more progress in his lifetime than I will, but at least the first thirteen years of my life were pre-revolutionary, for which I am eternally grateful.

Marc said...

John, I was thinking last night about how far we've come with the restoration of the Roman Rite in a relatively short period of time. Since Summorum Pontificum, there has been a relatively speedy resurgence. As anecdotal evidence of this, I remember when I first learned that there was such thing as the pre-Novus Ordo Mass, I tried to watch all the clips I could of this Mass on YouTube, which at the time was maybe a handful. Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time watching various Masses throughout the world: Solemn High Requiems, ordinations, and the like. There were more videos than I could hope to get through!

There is a resurgence coming from young people who easily recognize the timelessness of the Traditional ways and who want that spirituality their parents missed out on because their grandparents dropped the piety ball.

I'm not sure if you saw the recent video of the Irish priest belittling the Latin Mass after his elderly cohort led the assembly in some nonsensical song -- it was posted on Rorate Caeli last week. At any rate, those dinosaurs represents a dying breed soon to be extinct. For better or worse, young people now are willing to simply leave the Catholic Church and go to communities that offer that sort of nonsense, if that's what they want. They aren't tied to the Catholic Church, feeling like it needs to be changed from the inside out, as their parent and grandparent dissenters did.

I think it'll turn out for the better that the Church was so "ecumenical" for the last generation, letting her leadership set her on equal footing with the Protestant ecclesial communities. Now, those people aren't afraid to simply walk out of the Church. You'll notice, it is mostly the older folks who stick around in hopes the Church will give official approval to their abhorrence, which is an implicit belief that outside the Church there is no salvation. Younger people of the same ilk don't even believe that anymore -- and so they leave.

Time will cure this in a way that no pope or bishop could (but, let's hope one day such a pope comes along who not only recognizes there is a problem, but also has the wherewithal to fix it).

Gene said...

Marc, I wish I could share your optimism, but I do not think we have hit bottom yet. The secular/humanist egalitarian philosophy continues to exert great influence upon the Church through various social organizations, including the White House, not even considering the continuing de-constructionist influences from within. It will be a long, uncertain road.

Marc said...

Gene, it may be more self-delusion than optimism...