Saturday, May 3, 2014


I read yet another article about what the Church needs to do to get with the program and reinvigorate the Church and stop the bleeding of Catholics who are leaving the Church to become God knows what, many of them becoming "nones."

The tired hippie generation with its tired old ideas continues to seek a Utopian church with so many of their ideas responsible for the sad state of the Church today. They seek bishops who are like them, flaky.

They want bishops and cardinals and priests to retire at age 70 (although I happen to think that is a good idea now that I'm 60). They want married clergy and of course they want the church of the now which is the Church of 1968. They think Pope Francis is with them on this.

But what has Pope Francis officially said in his documents and homilies and in his style of celebrating the Mass? We know the hearsay of what he says to people he calls on the phone which is neither confirmed or denied by the pope or his spokesmen. We know, if we are not coloring book catholics, that there are different levels of papal teachings and popes are allowed to have their own opinions about this, that or the other. But official teachings, such as homilies, speeches to bishops' conferences, letters, exhortations and encyclicals have a higher magisterial quality with encyclicals the highest along with papal bulls.

So, in Pope Francis' homilies and other writings and exhortations what has he been consistently teaching?

1. Fidelity to the Magisterium and the Deposit of Faith; three terms (fidelity, magisterium and Deposit of Faith) despised by post-Catholics and those who taught me in the seminary in the 1970's and many academic theologians today. If these terms are denigrated and lost, then all things heterodox are possible.

2. The renewal of the sense of sin and the need for Divine Mercy especially through the Sacrament of Penance. Pope Francis has consistently and from day one taught about sin and in traditional categories of Original and Actual with the two actual sins discussed, venial and mortal. But he has added another category, that of corrupt, what we could actually call the "lost sinner destined for hell."
This is quite important to Catholic theology and dogma as without the correct magisterial teaching on sin, soterology falls apart, meaning the need for salvation and redemption based on the forgiveness of sins and the liberation from the fires of hell.

3. The emphasis on evil and demonic. No pope in recent history has spoken as loudly, frequently and clearly about the reality of Satan and his influence on society and individual and that he rules the "world" as St. John would use the term "world." 

4. While the pope has called for the expansion of roles for women in the institutional aspects of the Church, he has ruled out definitively ordination to Holy Orders. 

5. He has held up Pope Paul VI's act of heroism in publishing Humanae Vitae and not allowing the lobbying of progressives in and outside of the Church to manipulate him when it comes to proclaiming the truth. Pope Francis has stated explicitly that Pope Paul went against the tide of popular vote in reasserting the Church's truth about marriage and sexuality and the family. 

6. On sexuality, marriage and family, Pope Francis has held up as recently as last Sunday Saint John Paul II's corpus of teachings on the family as the inspiration for the upcoming synod on the family. 

7. As it regards traditional teachings on sexuality, the Holy Father Francis has held up the need for both feminine and masculine in marriage and points to Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride of Christ as the model for families. He teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and that children need both a mother and father.  He always refers to the Church in the feminine, something anathema for progressives.

8. He is calling Catholics to recover popular pieties, even at Mass! He is places the Blessed Virgin Mary and her various pieties front and center. This really irritates liturgical purists.

9. Pope Francis celebrates Mass, even while facing the congregation, in an ad orientem fashion. He is sober and liturgically austere and does not in the least improvise any of the words of the Mass. He never breaks the momentum of prayer begun with the Entrance Chant and Introit, followed by the Sign of the Cross and Greeting, only to disrupt the Mass, which so many bishops and priests do today, with silly, secular greetings and banter including levity, only to get back to the Mass after this secular silliness by introducing the penitential act. 
And by the way, Pope Francis has celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass ad orientem. Progressives are in denial about this.

10. Pope Francis wants lay Catholics to bring their faith to their homes, places of work and recreation and to the public square. He doesn't want us to lock up our faith and practice in the church building or in our homes or in our minds. We need to be unleashed on the world and proclaim the Gospel!

MY FINAL COMMENTS: The wildcard of Pope Francis is his pastoral theology. Pastoral theology is taught in seminaries but as a second rate course and not compared to the academic courses in any way whatsoever.

This may change with Pope Francis who could promote his pastoral theology to a doctrine. But he will do so by upholding the Deposit of Faith and morals of the Church while at the same time calling for sensitivity for those in difficult situations. Most bishops and priests are pastoral and have been for centuries. There is nothing new in this other than it becoming a doctrine of some kind. But of course I'm not clairvoyant or am I?


Anonymous said...

Is the 1968 crowd dying? Maybe, but as of right now they hold all positions of authority in the Church.

Things are not getting better. In fact they have gotten so bad that a pope gave up and walked away.

This is the reality of today's Church worldwide. It is in ruins. (And this isn't being glum or looking at the negative, it's the truth. And it doesn't call for snide comments by people who can't refute this truth it is just my observations.)

1. We have a pope who is daily causing confusion and scandal by careless statements and reckless acts by his refusal to uphold the Truths of the Faith without compromise or apology and giving the impression that they can be changed. Giving the impression that the doctrines of the Faith are a stumbling block to really living the Gospel is wrong. And that is said in charity as I could be phrased it more realistically.

2. We have a hierarchy that has lost all moral credibility because the majority of them protected and hid the evil sin that is child abuse.

3. The vast majority of Catholic religious orders and congregations have abandoned religious life and feel comfortable in public dissent from Church teaching. This behavior has destroyed the Faith of millions worldwide.

4. The vast majority of lay Catholics have never been taught the Faith and therefore don't believe in it and have no Catholicity about them.

5. The liturgy of the Church, especially the Mass, is a shambles. Priests feel it is their right to manipulate and change the Mass according to their own personal preferences.

Canonizing two popes isn't helping the situation. Until those in authority take off the rose colored glasses and demand that the Catholic Faith be taught and lived by those who FREELY promised their lives in service to that Church nothing will change.

The Church cannot demand that anyone accept the Faith but she must demand that the Faith is given to the faithful in it's entirety. Because lets stop kidding ourselves, Christ never said smell like the sheep. He said "feed my sheep".

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There has never been a perfect pope and because we live in the information age of the internet and get too much news about too many things which in the past was not the case, we know more about the failings of everyone and our secular and church culture is drunk on this sort of voyeurism.

And just as the hippie generation long for a utopian church that never will be, so do Catholics who can't put up with what is happening to the Church today (I wonder how they would have fared in times of more severe crisis in the Church, such as the 2nd and 3rd centuries not to mention the time of the Great Schism, Reformation and King Henry's break with Rome!

You seem to avoid addressing all the positive things I've said about Pope Francis as well to put forth your own agenda of negativity.

There are no perfect people in the church, clergy or laity. Only One is Perfect and we tried to kill Him and continue to do so to this day with our sins.

WSquared said...

Again, I've read a fair amount of Pope Benedict XVI. In retrospect, it's fair to say that once one starts to ask what it would mean to live what Benedict taught, one can already anticipate someone like Francis.

I love Pope Francis. Whenever he does speak to the crowds in St. Peter's, he may inject a bit of levity at times (like when he delivered his catechesis on the Sacrament of the Sick), but he's always right on point. Admittedly, there are some things that he says that make me howl with laughter, but I do know that he means business. No useless twittering and banter, trying to be "cool."

And Pope Francis may have a different approach to celebrating Mass than Pope Benedict, but again, it's because he isn't the liturgist that Benedict was and is. He also can't sing. But I like his sober approach; it's a stretch to assume that his approach makes gimmicky things like handing out commemorative towels as door prizes at the Washing of the Feet (as happened in one parish) okay.

Francis truly is humble. Our own consumer attitudes and our lack of reverence, and our presumptions that the Church should change and not us, are not.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald,
For the complete body of work not sections of it, what grade would you give Pope Francis’ Exhortation? My belief is that he deserves a C- and that might be generous. Rather than attack the commerce driven business community for Sunday labor, and disregard for holy days like Good Friday, Easter and Christmas which could be a very effective criticism, he went the route of a socialist operative with his trickle down garbage. As a follow up to his Exhortation was his comment about knowing "nice" Marxists people which was a downright disgusting and stupid thing to say. I had relatives murdered by "nice" Marxists. There is no humor in his cute joke. Murder is a Marxist specialty and our pope comes up with that kind of nonsense. Having said that; I live in the Rockford, IL diocese and around the Chicago area things have improved. That is a St. John Paul and Benedict XVI achievement that could easily reverse under a pope who desires more progressive bishops like Bernardine and Imesch. As it stands today, the Church needs to be a forceful combatant vs. secularism and unfortunately too many for too long have either deserted to the other side or are asleep in the trenches. As an example, not too long ago, in Gary, IN a priest was confronted with the need to do an exorcism. When he asked some priests in the area for assistance on the preparation and procedure he was advised to go to the Internet and that he'll find something there about it. That is a perfect example of priests being sent out to do spiritual battle without any weapons. The US bishops were working hard to impose unilateral military disarmament on the USA back in the 1980s, but failed. But what appears to be the case is that we are still reluctant to fight and arm ourselves for the spiritual battle and the old fogies who still have influence enjoy spiritual pacifism. The pope needs to make it uncomfortable for the spiritual pacifists, but I think they are enjoying the new environment he’s creating and they’ll ensure to leave their legacies.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a "fair and balanced" view would admit the validity both of Fr. McDonald's points about Pope Francis and of Anon's points about the prevalent state of the Church as a whole.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anonymous 1:06 First, Evangelii Gaudium is neither Socialist nor Marxist. This is a Rush Limbaugh/Walter Williams fantasy and does not represent in any way what the Holy Father actually wrote. Those claims are false and represent a calumny against the Holy Father.

Second, vague reports of "a priest" in Gary, IN, are, without any back-up to such claims, nothing more than speculative nonsense.

Third, the US Bishops never worked for "unilateral military disarmament" in the 1980's. This is another fantasy without any basis whatsoever.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There is no doubt the Church is broken and on many, many levels. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict did their best to turn things around. But they both neglected to a certain extent the curia and allowed to them run without accountability and eventually they did Pope Benedict in. To what extent which ideology did this to him is unclear to me, but I have a feeling it would be the more conservative rather than liberal element in the curia, but I could be wrong.

Pope Francis is going after the curia like a pit bull and he may well be living in the Vatican Hotel for his health, if you get my drift!

Pope Francis is a doer but not an academic and so his exhortation has some problems from the academic point of view. From the pastoral point of view it is sincere even if we choose to dissent from this or that, like the liberals like to do when they disagree with this or that. But of course, when the pope teaches on economics he moves out the of realm of faith, but not morals, so it cannot just be ignored.

John said...

Thank you, Father McDonald, for keeping our thoughts focussed on reality.

There are many folk one might refer to as traditionalists who, reading my blog, have expressed serious concerns about the negative content aimed at the Holy Father on other tradition-minded blogs. Those same concerned internet citizens are conflicted hearing what amounts to traditionalist dissent that, at times, reveals a "more-Catholic-than-the-Pope" attitude, or certainly a holier-than-thou mentality.

I happen to agree with the criticism that identifies and condemns a lack of respect for the Holy Father that is appearing at many traditionalist blogs. I now find reading some formerly excellent blogs to be quite unpleasant and distracting due to a lack of charity and lack of concern for the facts, facts which I have found represented well here at Southern Orders and elsewhere.

Many traditionalist blogs are becoming havens of hate and despair.

As a tradition-minded Catholic myself, I am doing my bit to help refocus the discussion in various forums including my own, and thanks to your input, I'm able to keep a better perspective, i.e., a perspective grounded in respect for the Holy Father and trust that the Holy Spirit guides and protects the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald,
For what reasons and how would have conservatives attempted to sabotage Benedict's papacy? That is real "Inside Vatican" politics that is hard for a lay person to understand. If conservative couldn't coalesce around Benedict then what kind of disorganization and petty bickering is going on?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are serious problems in the curia and some of them betrayed Pope Benedict. I have no idea to what extent and who is responsible. Much of it hinges on the Vatican Bank and outright corruption there but there were other problems and people in the curia trying to destroy Pope Benedict. The butler actually was concerned about Pope Benedict and wanted to expose the corruption. The investigation of the problems there produced volumes that Pope Benedict handed over to Pope Francis. So only those who wrote the volumes know exactly what happened and Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has had some of his harshest words for the curia and bishops who act like medieval princes and overlords. Part of his relinquishing the garb of the court is to poke in the eye these corrupt prince leaning bishops who have corrupted the curia. If Pope Francis is able to make the curia functional and modern and of service to the Church rather than one of power and greed and control, then he will have answered the call that is desperately needed at the Vatican.

Anonymous said...

PI see the link for the Gary, IN priest's story. Don't make me quote from the No Nukes Pastoral Letter. The theme was clear: "US bad, Soviets we don't know about them."

Trickle down economics only exists in a socialist mind and unfortunately in our the Pope's too.


Rood Screen said...

I agree entirely with Pater Ignotus' first and third points. I'm neutral on the second. The Exhortation is well written and very Catholic. The idea of "rating" it is ridiculous and un-Catholic.

George said...

Father Gabriel Amorth,the chief exorcist of Rome and the author of "An Exorcist Tells His Story" and "An Exorcist: More Stories" has lamented the lack of sufficient number of exorcists today.
I would recommend that every bishop and priest read these. It is not to difficult to conclude that the Devil is more active today that ever. Perhaps he has had so much success he
tends tob ply his trade stealthier and more in the background. Of course to modern psychology this kind of thing is all bunk. To them(except for those who believe in Catholic teaching) belief in the devil is delusional.

All the following Popes have condemned Socialism in the strongest terms and for some of them quite prophetically.

PIUS IX ( Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum)

LEO XIII (Encyclical Humanum Genus & Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris)

An interesting quote from the second encyclical:
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust."

St PIUS X (Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique -condemning the socialist movement Le Sillon)

BENEDICT XV (Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum)

PIUS XI (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno) "no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” (Ibid. N. 120)

PIUS XII ( Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIV, p314 & Encyclical Summi Pontificatus)

St JOHN XXIII (Encyclical Mater et Magistra) “No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.”

PAUL VI (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31) "Christians Tend to Idealize Socialism."

St. JOHN PAUL II (Encyclical Centesimus Annus)

BENEDICT XVI (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est n. 28) "We do not Need a State which Controls Everything."

Desirée said...

While a Trads may seem negative, they have a lot of powerful evidence that backs up their passion, and makes many Catholics look like they're burying their heads in the sand.

Makes a new convert like myself really think.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Ultimately true Catholics know that this world is passing as is the Church Militant and that we are a people of faith, hope and love, which in fact mitigates against the sins of negativity and cynicism.

Unknown said...

Would you object to my posting this excellent article on my parish' website?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Feel free to do so Fr. Mack. God bless.

Desiree said...

What you said makes sense. I'm worried about following something Jesus doesn't want done to His Church. I know it will all work out in the end, but my head really spins sometimes.
Learning that Vatican II isn't dogmatic, just pastoral. That Vat I is dogmatic because a pope made it, and that the TLM was the first Mass is intense. As I've said before, I am on a hunt for what Jesus started. I became repulsed by watered-down Christianity and became Catholic. It's not just Protestants vs Catholics, it's Catholics vs Catholics. I wish I was born and dead before Vat II...I wouldn't have to deal with this. Haha!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Just remember, when you are united to the pope and the bishops and priests in union with him and allow them their rightful authority and don't give that authority away to anyone else especially to bloggers and those who comment on blogs, you will be safe. As soon as you drift into ideologies and become overly negative and cynical, then divisiveness enters the Church. We have enough of that now.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5:02/Mike - I would invite you to quote the US Bishops' call for unilateral disarmament.

Making further unsubstantiated comments about Evangelii Gaudium doesn't change the fact that it is neither Socialist not Marxist. If you can cite the passages that you think are objectionable in this regard, we can discuss them.

I read the article on the Gary priest. "Maginot said he needed other priests to give him the ritual for a minor exorcism, which does not require church approval. The priests he consulted told him to look it up on the Internet." It seems Maginot found what he needed.

I don't think it has ever been the case that all priests have been trained in the rites of exorcism, so finding one who was not so trained is not unusual.