Saturday, June 29, 2013


The first pope that is at today's Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul! But Pope Francis allowed it!

In the video of the Mass, please note the lavish Benedictine Altar Arrangement with the bronze statues of Saints Peter and Paul upon the altar, each between the three candlesticks. Quite impressive. Pope Benedict, the Pope of Christian Unity, had previously invited a boys Lutheran Choir from Germany to sing at this Mass and they do a marvelous job. Today's Mass also has two "cardinal" deacons! The Mass begins at minute 8:25 with a blare of trumpet blasts, "Tu Est Petros! The Lutheran Boy's Choir sings a marvelous, difficult setting of the Credo. Also, please note that at Holy Communion, the Bishop of Rome continues to distribute Holy Communion by INTINCTION to the deacons as they KNEEL who serve the Mass

The Holy Father's Homily (although there were some ad libs not included obviously in the official text):

Your Eminences,
My Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, principal patrons of the Church of Rome: a celebration made all the more joyful by the presence of bishops from throughout the world. A great wealth, which makes us in some sense relive the event of Pentecost. Today, as then, the faith of the Church speaks in every tongue and desire to unite all peoples in one family.

I offer a heartfelt and grateful greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis. I thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I for this renewed gesture of fraternity. I greet the distinguished ambassadors and civil authorities. And in a special way I thank the Thomanerchor, the Choir of the Thomaskirche of Leipzig – Bach’s own church – which is contributing to today’s liturgical celebration and represents an additional ecumenical presence.

I would like to offer three thoughts (MY COMMENT: Here the Holy Father gives a catechesis to all clergy on how to preach and the three-point homily is a great way for people to recall the essentials of a homily) on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm”. What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm?

1. First, to confirm in faith. The Gospel speaks of the confession of Peter: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), a confession which does not come from him but from our Father in heaven. Because of this confession, Jesus replies: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church” (v. 18). The role, the ecclesial service of Peter, is founded upon his confession of faith in Jesus, the Son of the living God, made possible by a grace granted from on high. In the second part of today’s Gospel we see the peril of thinking in worldly terms. When Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection, of the path of God which does not correspond to the human path of power, flesh and blood re-emerge in Peter: “He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him ... This must never happen to you” (16:22). Jesus’ response is harsh: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me” (v. 23). Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks. Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the Church!

2. (MY COMMENT: This paragraph is important, as we as Catholics have forgotten that our pilgrimage is a "spiritual battle. The Holy Father places this spiritual warfare into the proper context of the Gospel.) To confirm in love. In the second reading we heard the moving words of Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). But what is this fight? It is not one of those fights fought with human weapons which sadly continue to cause bloodshed throughout the world; rather, it is the fight of martyrdom. Saint Paul has but one weapon: the message of Christ and the gift of his entire life for Christ and for others. It is precisely this readiness to lay himself open, personally, to be consumed for the sake of the Gospel, to make himself all things to all people, unstintingly, that gives him credibility and builds up the Church. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers.

3. (MY COMMENT: Unity in diversity and certainly this is powerful with the Patriarch of Constantinople present, and the Liturgies and spiritulaities of the East while different than the West's are still a part of the unity of the Church! I would extend this to the use of the 1962 missal and its patrimony of spirituality and theology). To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). And it continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian. May the holy Mother of God guide us and accompany us always with her intercession. Queen of Apostles, pray for us! Amen.


Templar said...

Now if he had just taken the Tiara from the statue and placed it upon his own head and processed from the Basilica with it on....THAT would have sent the right message.

Joseph Johnson said...

And if that had happened I am quite sure that some of those dissident Austrian and German "Katholics" vould haf chust luffed it!

Marc said...

Note that the Ecumenical Patriarch wasn't personally present, but sent a delegation.

At any rate, I was wondering what the delegates from Constantinople must be thinking when the Pope was conferring the pallium on the new metropolitan archbishops. Of course, one of the reasons for the schism was a denial of the Pope's authority to confer sees on those outside his geographical patriarchal boundary. And then to confuse matters more, the pope talks about episcopal synods as a good thing, signally perhaps a return to the first millenium's methodology of selecting bishops and ruling geographic areas. What a confusing mixed message for the Church!

Unity in diversity, by the way, is a meaningless phrase because it can mean anything or nothing depending on the context. The Bishop of Rome's thinking is becoming clearer and clearer, though. He appears to deny some of the marks of the papacy itself. I fear he is really going to put our Lord to the test on that whole "gates of hell" not prevailing promise. But, he won't be the first pope to have done so. I suppose he might be the last, though, with the way the world is headed...

Oh, and they really need to ban cameras and camera phones from these liturgies. How terribly irreverent! Is it always like that? I usually don't watch these things.

John Nolan said...

One interesting point. Although the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei were from the hackneyed Missa de Angelis, the Credo was from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli. Polyphonic settings of the Credo are hardly ever used in the Novus Ordo, because GIRM 68 says "it is sung ... either by all together or by the people alternating with the choir". The Gloria, however, may be sung by the choir alone (GIRM 53).

Pater Ignotus said...

Flabelli, watered silk, gold thread fabrics, etc.,are not "marks of the papacy," but are attempts to make the Vicar of Christ look like a European potentate. It is good that the pope has had the courage to reveal this truth

John Nolan said...

Oh. come on, PI, Paul VI was the first "dress down" pope, and the Vicar of Christ in a polyester chasuble is no more (or less) significant, or courageous, than millionaire Obama or millionaire Cameron in open-necked shirts.

When in 1978 John Paul I refused a coronation a French newspaper published a cartoon of him with a saucepan on his head and the caption "je suis un pape simple". Sums it up, really.

Marc said...

I wasn't referring to vestments or clothing when I used the phrase "marks of the papacy."

Gene said...

Marc, is the "mark of the Papacy" anything like the Mark of Zorro? I mean like, the Pope or the Cardinals ride around on horses at night slashing big "P's" on walls and tapestries with a sword...I mean, Zorro WAS a Catholic, right?

Which leads me to another thought, if you were a Vatican Canon lawyer, would that make you 'Marc of the Papacy?"

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - What do you understand to be the "Marks of the Papacy"?

We know the four marks of the Church. What do you have in mind here?

Marc said...

When I wrote "marks of the Papacy," it does sound like I am attempting to address some pre-existing theological construct, which I am most assuredly not attempting to do.

I touched on what I have in mind in my original post - the idea of collegiality juxtaposed with local synods. It appears the current Bishop of Rome's thinking scales back the decrees of Vatican I to the point where he favors a return to a concept of "pope" more in line with pre-schism (both Great Western and Eastern) times. His focus, then, is on the "college of bishops" and the primacy of the papacy, as opposed (although not necessarily always opposed) to the universality of the papacy.

I hope you will note I have deliberately chosen words like "appears" because that is the appearance for those reading into his words. His discussion of collegiality coupled with his focus on the "bishop of Rome" title say quite a bit.

Now, that isn't to say that there isn't historical precedent for the pope acting in this way instead of as a universal monarch. In fact, there is probably more historical precedent in terms of total years for the papacy as conceived by Pope Francis that the more recent monarchical papacy. So, perhaps I could have selected a better phrase than "marks of the papacy," but you get the idea.

And I don't really have an opinion about whether the pope is correct about his conception or not. My main point was that this is probably a very confusing thing for the Orthodox to witness - the Bishop of Rome conferring metropolitan sees the world over, and then discussing how he is simply the bishop of Rome... it's a mixed message. Then, to top it off, the Pope goes on to talk about episcopal synods, which is the way bishops have historically been selected... So, is he planning on returning to this model for Church governance?

I find it fascinating, as someone who is interested in these things from the historical point of view.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - The centralization of ecclesiastical power in the papacy is a significant issue for our dialogues with the Orthodox. (It is also a significant issue in our Catholic understanding of ecclesiology.) Largely unknown in the first 1000 years of the Church's existence, this manner of exercising the Petrine Office is, like the "royal" accoutrements of the monarchical papacy, an historical accretion that, in the view of many, finds it origins not in a Divine mandate, but in the political history of European nation states.

Although Good Father McDonald does not hold Archbishop John Quinn's book "Reform of the Papacy" (which he never read) in high regard, I would recommend it, along with Hermann Pottmeyer's "Towards a Papacy in Communion."

The cover blurb from the latter: "Since they seem to require a very centralized conception of the Church and its administration, the decrees of Vatican I are often taken to pose problems for both ecumenical dialogue and for discussion within the Catholic Church. Hermann Pottmeyer, however, shows that the centralist interpretation of Vatican I is neither the binding nor the correct interpretation. He undertakes a careful examination both of the historical conditions that gave rise to the conception of the pope as an absolute monarch and of the Council documents themselves. Moreover, in the documents of Vatican II he finds the foundation for a vision of papal ministry understood within the concept of a Church conceived in terms of "communion."

Both books are small - Pottmeyer's is only 140 pages - and very helpful for understanding the history of the exercise of the Petrine office.

Marc said...

Thank you for the recommendation, Fr. Kavanaugh. I have read a couple books either on this subject or dealing with it in a related manner from the Orthodox point of view: The Primacy of Peter compiled by Fr. John Meyendorff and The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy by Aristeides Papadakis.

While the latter is arguably polemical in nature, I think both works represent, first, an accurate historical overview of the papal claims, and second, the modern Orthodox mindset toward the papacy, which is, of course, at the center of any purported "reunion" between the Roman and Eastern Churches.

That said, I don't think there is anything in the history of the papacy (or its rise) that necessarily negates the sort of "monarchical regalia" that you are so adamantly against. And the use of such regalia is assuredly not a stumbling block for ecumenical relations with the Orthodox, whose bishops are much more fancifully vested in the normal course of liturgical actions.

So, while I understand your viscerally negative reaction to the perceived historical accretions in papal dress, these are legitimate developments in the liturgy and in the office of the papacy. This is true even if they do borrow symbolism from European courts (or Byzantine courts, in the case of the Orthodox bishops).

I suppose you could, perhaps, provide more explanation why you see this accretions as necessarily bad (if, indeed, I have properly understood your position).

On the other hand, I would much prefer to keep up a discussion about the actual "power" underlying the papacy and its development over the last roughly 1200. I think we can both agree that subject is much more interesting and potentially fruitful than attempting the understand why popes dress as they do. Although, the two subjects, as you've rightly hinted, are to a certain extent inextricably intertwined...

Perhaps our discussion of the rise of papal power since the Gregorian Reforms would be a short one, though, because we might actually agree on this subject based on what you've written! That's a nice change of pace for us, I think.

-- I want to add that it seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church has gone too far with defining the privileges of the papacy (particularly infallibility as defined at Vatican I) to engage in a meaningful "reunion" dialogue with the Orthodox. What I mean is this -- Catholic doctrine prevents the Church from simply reversing course on the definition of infallibility, so it is here to stay. The Orthodox will never accept it because it would require a complete overhaul of their ecclesiology. Just as Catholic ecclesiology is bound up with the person and office of the pope, Orthodox eccelesiology is bound up with collegiality.

So, while the Catholic Church could presumably soften on the issue of Church governance to much practical effect, the underlying ecclesiological and theological implications of the papal infallibility concept will remain. To accept mere formal reunion under a Church governance without a meaningful theological union is unacceptable in Orthodox ecclesiology (although such an arrangement is acceptable in Catholc ecclesiology). I add this based on the description of the book you recommended -- perhaps the author addresses this issue?

Marc said...

Sorry, I see now your second recommendation deals with an interpretation of Vatican I that might resolve the tension I was attempting to describe. I have serious doubts about whether the Church would ever "undo" the common understanding of Vatican I because the implications are too far-reaching (what of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma, for instance?).

At any rate, here is an article by Fr. Thomas Hopko, an Orthodox priest of wide repute, who lays out the position for reunification from an Orthodox perspective. You may have read this previously or are aware of Fr. Thomas. I'm curious about your experience with local ecumenical relations with the Orthodox, which I gather is very limited based on my time in Macon... And in my interaction with Orthodox clergy, there is no desire to engage in "ecumenical dialogue" with Catholics or anyone else...

Here is the link:

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - If you think that my dislike to the trappings is visceral, you are mistaken. I find them inappropriate, as they are intended to speak not to spiritual authority, but temporal wealth and power. They are not, in any way, necessary, essential, or required by the Petrine office.

My interaction with the Orthodox is extremely limited due, mainly, to the scarcity of Orthodox in our beloved South and due to the fact that many Orthodox are not particularly open to such dialogues. Then, with the end of the dominance of European Communism over much of the Orthodox world, the Orthodox had a very rough time coming to terms with their own status, let alone their relationships with other Churches and ecclesial communions.

You can access the agreements and statements that have come from Catholic-Orthodox relations at and clicking on Orthodox.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - And if you want a most excellent little book that gives a thumbnail sketch of the Eastern and Orthodox Churches, look for "The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey" by Fr. Ron Roberson, CSP.

I have known Ron for years and he is the most knowledgeable person on these matters this side of Constantinople. He's been on the USCCB staff for ages and always answers my phone calls within 24 hours!

Marc said...

Father, I will check out that link and the further book suggestion.

As to the question of papal dress, I agree nothing is necessary, required, or essential to the Petrine office. But, I can't agree that such regalia is inappropriate. People rely on symbols in all walks of life, for better or for worse. So, for one with authority to dress in accordance with that authority isn't necessarily inappropriate. Consider judges, or priests, or businesspeople in general. People dress according to their role.

Of course, temporal authorities no longer use the same regalia these days, but that doesn't mean they don't wear certain things that harken to their authority. And the pope is no different. I agree the logical conclusion is not that he should wear the marks of royalty from bygone eras necessarily, but he should not conversely ignore all outward symbols of his authority and state. I think this is particularly true in liturgical functions where it is not the person, but the office that is being considered.

Take, for example, Orthodox bishops who wear layers of vestments and put them on in the midst of the congregation prior to the liturgy. The action symbolizes something about the relationship of the bishop to the people. Perhaps that idea is what you are reacting to in the case of the pope, and I can agree -- there is a disconnect between the office, the person, and what he is/represents. So, when the symbolism becomes merely symbolism (without a reference), it is superfluous. Have I come closer, perhaps, to understanding your point and your supporting reasons here?

Gene said...

Papal trappings, whether or not they speak to temporal authority, reflect spiritual authority. When Leo III placed a jeweled crown on the head of Charlemagne, the centralization of ecclesiastical authority was already well under way. Likewise, when Nicolas I declared himself suzerain (with regard to faith and morals) over secular authorities and all Bishops based upon his understanding of Papal authority, the authority of the Church was clearly accepted by the secular powers. Nicolas made Kings and Princes give up mistresses and behave themselves, and he disciplined Bishops with confidence and authority. Prelates and sovereigns feared him.
Once again, Holy Scripture is full of monarchical analogies for God, Christ, and the Church. This has nothing to do with any vain and pretentious effort at aping secular royalty. It is a pre-figuring of the New Jerusalem and an eschatological statement regarding Christ's return in Glory. It is triumphal and it should be. I do not want a Pope wearing rags or a Christ returning wrapped in a burlap bag pushing a Kroger basket. Give me a break...

Marc said...

In case anyone else is following mine and Fr. Kavanaugh's conversation, the latest book he referenced appears to be available in total, for free, online here:

I must say, Father, that I think it is odd that there have been no joint documents issued from the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue since 2000 according to the USCCB site you referenced. I saw someone remark just this morning that ecumenical dialogue has gone as far as it can go (in reference to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant discussions) because we have now identified each others' beliefs in earnest and have covered all our common ground completely. I think is probably true of Catholic and Orthodox dialogue as the very theology of each side prevents it from making concessions, but it is not as clear with the Protestants as they, as far as can be generalized, have no such basic theological "wall" keeping them within certain bounds (to grossly over-generalize them).

Gene said...

Marc, Dialogue with prots is even more hopeless precisely because there is no well-defined doctrine that is distributive over all protestantism. Ironically, Calvinism offers the best possibility for discussion because, at least, it has a clearly defined doctrinal base...TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Salvation, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints). Many of the differences in polity and dogma between prots and Catholics flow from these doctrinal differences. Unfortunately, Presbyterians and most other prots do not pay much attention to these important doctrines and have sold out to Modernism.
Having come from Calvinism and a long history of academic and theological study within its milieu, I believe the only approach for discussion is for the Catholic Church to make it very clear why the True Church resides in the Magisterium and to make it theologically and pastorally appealing to prots. This should not be done by giving even one inch. Prots who are really disaffected with protestantism are disaffected just because of the compromises protestant churches have made with secular/progressive culture. If they are coming for merely aesthetic reasons or because they are following some lib/progressive pretend Catholics, then we don't need, them anyway.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - The hiatus in the Catholic-Orthodox dialogues is a result of the fall of European communism and the new-found freedom of the Orthodox leaders who were formerly under their control.

The Orthodox had been required by their overlords to participate in international dialogues. This showed that the overlords were "open" to other nations, cultures, or religions. When they were no longer forced to do so, the Orthodox stepped back to regroup, as it were.

Those changes also threw the Orthodox Churches into a bit of a tailspin internally. As they were engaged in their own internal struggles, they decided to suspend some of the interaction with "externals" such as ecumenical dialogues.

The Catholic-Orthodox dialogues have continued with groups such as the OCA and other groups that did not go through the wrenching changes that the Russian Church did.

Pin/Gene - I don't think that watered silk and damask and jeweled miters reflect spiritual authority. They are as temporal as it gets, reflecting only the silly mortal notion that material things really matter. They don't.

Gene said...

Ignotus, they do not "reflect" anything...they signify. They give glory to God and herald the coming of the New jerusalem, the Kingdom of Christ. You know, you really ought to read a theology book now and again.