Saturday, December 21, 2013


Pope Francis doesn't wear one of these, but his actions certainly do!

I love reading the Praytell Blog because it reminds me of my seminary days in the 1970's which truly were the best days of my life despite the fact that the majority of things I was taught there (not all certainly) is so out of date today, although in some quarters nostalgia for the 1970's is as high for some as nostalgia for the 1950's is for others.

I find it quite interesting that so many posts, but mostly, so many comments or those who comment on that blog think that Pope Francis is the most wildly liberal, 1970's pope there is. What they see as a bright, stunning light, almost like the Star of Bethlehem, blinds them to the fact that Pope Francis is the most orthodox, autocratic and populist pope ever. He not only models what he wants for the Church, he can back it up.

But the same is true with some who comment on my blog, the seemingly 1970's things that this pope does is like a searing torch in their eyes that blinds them too to the fact that this pope is the most autocratic, orthodox and populist pope ever and that in the areas that really count, he isn't going to change a thing but rather will reinforce these areas with his stealthy orthodoxy!

Those of us in the middle, including this fabulous blogger and those who make comments here that are in agreement with my perspective, know that Pope Francis is the most autocratic, orthodox and populist pope ever and that he is calling the Church back to the truth in faith and deed (good works) in a wonderfully new and unique way as it concerns how popes function.


1. He knows that he has to be stealthy to win back the post-Catholics (neo-heterodox) to the true Church and her orthodox teachings in the areas of faith and morals, so he models a 1970's approach to simplicity of papal outwear and pontifical Masses in terms of vestments. This soothes those who love the 1970's and makes them feel their youth has returned.

2. He knows that 1970's Catholics wanted the Church to be a non-governmental organization (NGO) helping the poor and doing great social work. In fact many priests in the 1970's left the priesthood to become social workers in NGO's! But Pope Francis knows that good works is equally important as orthodox Faith. He promotes a kind of 1970's concern for the poor in a 21st Century orthodox way--to win souls to Christ and bring them to salvation as a part of the new evangelization.


But a closer look at Pope Francis compared to the heterodox of the 1970's and those elderly people who are trying to recapture the youth and vigor of their rebellion of that period shows that Pope Francis is not your Father's 1970's kind of pope!  Let me count the ways!

1.  He calls everyone in the Church, clergy and laity alike, especially those in the academic arena to fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, the pope and bishops in union with him.

2. He continues to emphasize not only the Magisterium and the need for fidelity, but he also speaks of the Deposit of Faith and directs the entire Church to Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict's Catechism of the Catholic Church to find out there what the truths of the Church are even if some of His imprecise words cause glee to the neo-heterodox and stress and consternation to the neo-orthodox.

3. He emphasizes the devil when he temps clergy and laity to abandon the orthodoxy of the Catholic Faith and morals and makes the Church into an NGO 

4. He continues to call all Catholics to a powerful devotional piety centered on the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints. The Blessed Mother is the mother of all the faithful

5. He emphasizes in a way no recent pope has that the Church is Holy Mother also, and the Bride of Christ who is the "husband" of Holy Mother Church. This obviously has implications for the sacramental life of the Church in the most Christological way possible and excludes the silliness of those nostalgic for the 1970's and post-Catholicism along the lines of the Anglican Church in terms of same sex marriages and sex as well as women deacons, priests and bishops.

6. Although he has stripped himself of the monarchical look of the papacy, Pope Francis dresses up in these clothes in the most stealthy way possible, not by what he wears but by his actions that he is quite willing to enforce, such as the laicization and excommunication of the heretical, heterodox post-Catholic priest, (former Father) Greg Reynolds of Australia and Pope Francis has shown no desire whatsoever to revisit the excommunication and laization of the Maryknoll priest, (former Father) Roy Bourgeois  who lived in the Diocese of Savannah, for his similar heterodoxy and post Catholicism.

7. As it regards the Liturgy, while the Pope uses the drab sort of vestments that first began to appear at liturgies in the 1970's, devoid of symbols and ornate beauty, based upon what was called "gospel simplicity" and in fact is more in line with my personal tastes in vestments for myself and yes I confess, what I liked in the 1970's, Pope Francis continues to celebrate the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours in a Pope Benedict sort of way, with understated beauty, no improvisation and an almost mystical quality that seems detached from his surroundings. He continues the pre-Vatican II altar arrangement for the Mass and celebrated one Mass thus far ad orientem, but all other Masses facing the people in an "ad orientem sort of way."

MY FINAL COMMENTS: I could go on and on, but I won't. But I do think that Pope Francis models for true Catholics a Christ-like figure of the Gospels. Who opposed Jesus the most? The neo-heterodox of Judaism and the Neo-orthodox of Judaism. His stealthiness allowed the poor of the world to see through the concerns of these two groups to the actual truth of Jesus and His Humanity and Divinity and that they were to turn away from sin and believe the Good News of God made Flesh in Jesus Christ.  Pope Francis papal life thus far is like the parables of Jesus that so many simply don't get but those who have eyes to see and ears to hear do!


John Nolan said...

It was Paul VI, fifty years ago who divested the papacy of its monarchical trappings; I think he went too far, but then I live in a country which doesn't see anything wrong with a bit of pomp and circumstance (nor do American visitors to London, by the way).

However, he and John Paul I continued to use the sedia gestatoria, which enables the pontiff to be seen. For reasons of his own John Paul II refused to use it, and Benedict did not reinstate it.

In 2007 Benedict and Guido Marini decided to make papal Masses more dignified and to use some of the more traditional vestments from the vast collection in St Peter's. Some of them are quite recent - in fact one set bore the arms of Paul VI, and Benedict wore a precious mitre made for John Paul I. These items are in the service of the liturgy, and are not in the least the trappings of monarchy. Roman vestments suit Roman churches, and baroque churches in general.

Anonymous said...

So basically what you are saying is the pope is playing games in order to appeal to one group or another. That doesn't seem very papal or mature.

Jody Peterman said...

I hope you are right Fr, but I believe Pope Francis would label Cardinal Burke neo-orthodox. My heart is telling me that what you wrote is a bunch of ________, but my brain is telling me that you are one of the finest Priest in this state. Therefore, like Benedict, I return to prayer and penance.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous at 4:54 p.m.:

“So basically what you are saying is the pope is playing games in order to appeal to one group or another. That doesn't seem very papal or mature.”

Now, I cannot speak for Father McDonald, but the way I read it Pope Francis is playing games no more than St. Paul did. See 1 Corinthians 19-23:

19. Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.

20. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law - though I myself am not under the law - to win over those under the law.

21. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law - though I am not outside God's law but within the law of Christ - to win over those outside the law.

22. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.

23. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

And the way I see it -- if this was good enough for St. Paul, it is good enough for Pope Francis, and it should be good enough for us, because it is all “within the law of Christ.”

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Father McDonald!!! “Wonderful Wednesday” will now take on additional meaning for you, as it has done for me since May! =)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The pope doesn't want gossiping. We don't know in what ways Pope Francis may have found Card. Burke's vision of this contrary to his own, but the Pope, and in fact any CEO has the right to choose who he wants as his closest advisers and to purge those who stand in the way. We know the Holy Father doesn't want cardinals or bishops acting like princes, aloof and shrill. He wants liturgical simplicity (which by the way can be had also in the EF in albs and chasubles. The cappa isn't required in the prelude to the EF for any bishop. I suspect the Holy Father finds it pretentious. He wants to call people to mercy.
It could have been a personality conflict or Card. Burke asked to be relieved of some of his duties. We don't know and it isn't our business in this tell all generation in which we live. Thank you Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfry!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The BIG 60 has been a bitter pill to swallow, but thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 2,

Like you I try to follow St. Paul. St. Paul wrote it was a good thing to correct a pope when he is wrong "and I corrected him to his face because he was wrong". So we can correct Francis when he is wrong. Was St. Paul judging when he wrote the following or nearly stating the truth?

26] For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. [27] And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. [28] And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, [30] Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.


rcg said...

Yes, Happy Birthday! And many, many more.

I wonder if Burke may have asked for a reassignment?

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous 1:

You will have to help me here again, I am afraid. How is the passage you quote relevant to the passage I quoted and to Father McDonald’s post on Pope Francis, especially in light of Father’s later post on “Second Thoughts.”? The press article that is the subject of that post says of Pope Francis:

He talks of not judging gays and for greater inclusion of women, and he has been critical of the hierarchy's obsession with contraception, same-sex marriages and abortion. But this man is on the record denouncing efforts to redefine marriage as the work of Satan, he has explicitly said "no" to women priests and said abortion is "not something subject to alleged reform".

What is it precisely, then, about Pope Francis in this area that you believe needs correction? Is it his “Who am I to judge” comment? If so, let’s talk about that.