Thursday, November 6, 2014


Oddly enough, on the heels of my post below this one, I come across this article from The Spectator and by Damien Thompson who I think people high up in the Vatican may well read.

He compares Pope Francis to the now lame duck President Obama and blames Pope Francis for the same type of leadership that has earned President Obama in the face of the recent elections infamy.

I must say that I feel very uneasy about what is happening to the Church, not locally so much but I see no real Francis effect in Macon, but at the highest levels of the Church. And I fear that Pope Francis is going to cause a meltdown in the Church over his sexual ethics that will be exactly like what happened and continues to happen to the Anglican Communion.  I think Cardinal Pell has said the same thing but about broader Christian Protestantism and the Catholic Church that is dying in liberal Catholic countries like Belgium and the Netherlands.

At any rate, there is truth and hyperbole in this article, but an article that should be taken seriously!

Watch out Pope Francis: the Catholic civil war has begun

Uncertainty over how much reform the pope wants is splitting his church into factions
5 Comments 8 November 2014
‘At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,’ said a prominent Catholic conservative last week. No big deal, you might think. Opponents of Pope Francis have been casting doubt on his leadership abilities for months — and especially since October’s Vatican Synod on the Family, at which liberal cardinals pre-emptively announced a softening of the church’s line on homosexuality and second marriages, only to have their proposals torn up by their colleagues.

But it is a big deal. The ‘rudderless’ comment came not from a mischievous traditionalist blogger but from Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura — that is, president of the Vatican’s supreme court. As it happens, Pope Francis intends to sack Burke, whose habit of dressing up like a Christmas tree at Latin Masses infuriates him. But he hasn’t got round to it yet. And thus we have the most senior American cardinal in Rome publicly questioning the stewardship of the Holy Father — possibly with the tacit approval of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Nothing like this has happened since the backstabbing behind the scenes at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. It raises the question: is the Catholic church in the early stages of a civil war between liberals and conservatives, fought not over liturgical niceties (the source of relatively harmless squabbles under John Paul II and Benedict XVI) but fundamental issues of sexual morality?

The October synod was a disaster for Pope Francis. Before it started, he had successfully tweaked the Catholic mood music relating to divorcees and gay people. The line ‘Who am I to judge?’, delivered with an affable shrug on the papal plane, generated friendly headlines without committing the church to doctrinal change. Conservatives were alarmed but had to acknowledge Francis’s cunning. ‘Remember that he’s a Jesuit,’ they said.

Then Francis did something not very cunning. Opening the synod, which would normally be a fairly routine affair, he encouraged cardinals and bishops to ‘speak boldly’. Which they did, but not in the way he intended.

The Pope’s first mistake was to invite Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s 81-year-old retired head of ecumenism, to set the agenda for the synod by addressing the world’s cardinals back in February. Kasper told them that the church should consider giving Holy Communion to remarried Catholics.
Even if Francis supports this notion — and nobody knows — his choice of Kasper was a blunder because the cardinal, in addition to being a genial and distinguished scholar, is leader of a German-led faction that represents, in Catholic terms, the far left of the theological spectrum. In 1993 Kasper, then Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, co-signed a letter by German bishops demanding that Catholics living ‘in a canonically invalid union’ should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to receive the Eucharist. The German church is a law unto itself: although its services are empty, it is rich, thanks to the country’s church tax, and arrogant. To cut a long story short, this faction — which had ruthlessly undermined Benedict XVI’s authority when he was pope –  tried to hijack the synod.

They messed it up. The synod’s ‘special secretary’, the Italian archbishop Bruno Forte, wrote a mid-synod report suggesting that the participants wanted to recognise the virtuous aspects of gay unions. In doing so, Forte — an even more radical figure — overplayed his hand. Most synod fathers wanted no such thing. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s finances, were horrified. They ensured that the final report kicked Communion for divorcees into the long grass and did not even mention homosexual relationships. ‘Synod rebuffs Francis on gays,’ reported the media — the last thing the Pope wanted to read.

To make matters worse, Kasper gave an interview in which he said that anti-gay African Catholics ‘should not tell us too much what we have to do’. At which point Cardinal Burke called him a racist. Kasper reacted furiously and is telling anyone who will listen that the church will soon drastically change its rules on access to Communion. This is wishful thinking.

And now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ‘I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ‘Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ‘He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’

Where does this leave Francis? Looking a bit like ‘the Hamlet Pope’, Paul VI, whom he has beatified. He supports some sort of reform, but uncertainty is breaking the church into factions reminiscent of the Anglican Communion. Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour. Meanwhile, Burke has emerged as leader of the hardline traditionalists. ‘He did not want this role but perhaps he sees himself as a St John Fisher figure,’ says one Vatican source, a comparison that casts the successor of Peter in the role of Henry VIII.

What should worry Francis is that moderate conservative Catholics are losing confidence in him. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who is no one’s idea of an extremist, believes that ‘this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him’. Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald, says that ‘Francis achieved miracles with his compassionate, off-the-cuff comments that detoxified the Catholic brand. He personifies optimism — but when he tries to turn this into policy he isn’t in command of the procedures or the details. The result is confusion.’

All of which suggests a far closer analogy than with Henry VIII. There is another world leader, elected amid huge excitement, who has surprised and disappointed the faithful by appearing disengaged and even helpless in moments of crisis. This is an awful thing to say, but we could be watching Jorge Bergoglio turn into Barack Obama.


Gene said...

I have long been comparing Francis to Obama. There is simply no leadership in high places. The culture is adrift…"not with a bang, but a whimper."

Rood Screen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

My main issue with Pope Francis is his refusal to be clear on almost every issue.

One moment he says " I am a loyal son of the Church" and the next day he sits there while the president of Italy congratulates him for being vague on doctrine. He didn't address that statement then, or the next day, or the next week, or a year later. That's outrageous. His duty as pope is to teach the Faith clearly and without compromise.

You don't give interview after interview saying outlandish things and not expect people to be upset. That is unjust. There is no reason that Catholics should have to doubt the orthodoxy of a pope. But that is what is going on. His daily passive aggressive name calling during homilies is juvenile and a cause for concern as to his mental stability. Could a seminarian say the judgmental things about priests that Francis does and ever hope to be ordained? He would be thrown out of the seminary. And with good reason.

Mercy and love for the poor didn't begin with Francis. but what is the point of stating that.

Francis is a liberal and like all liberals he is determined to push his own private ideology. That's why he is giving outrageous interviews
Because he knows that he can't officially teach that stuff. But being a liberal the temptation will be to much for him to not try and officialy teach some kind of heresy like it is fine for Catholic in mortal sin to receive communion without benefit of confession. But the Church has been unfaithful to her mission since Vatican II ( example: by ignoring heretical bishops spreading error) and we deserve what we are getting. We got the pope we deserve. I don't care if millions are cheering him, he isn't calling them to conversion and hey don't feel the need to change. That's the truth. Churches are not filling up. Things are getting worse.

Unknown said...

I respect your opinions and like your blog. I like to read and see what all factions are thinking. But when I hear that Pope Francis is causing split, so did Pope Benedict and Pope john Paul the II. They all have their critics and they all have their supporters. But, like Vatican II, we have to be brave and have faith in the Spirit that he (she) will guide the church where HE wants if to be, not us.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict were seen as polarizing figures (and Vatican II certainly had a polarizing effect unto this day) but what is different is the new media and what we know today which we didn't know under the previous pontificates or what actually was going on at Vatican II as Vatican II unfolded.

I think we are in new territory of polarization when we have cardinals in high places at the Vatican criticizing the pope and his style of leadership and also a former pope that is speaking out loud more recently than in the past.

I think we are in scarey territory now and yes the Holy Spirit will see us through but that doesn't mean that things won't be messy and there won't be confusion and that people will not abandon the Church because of it or the Church will experience corruption fomented in high places.

All Pope Benedict has to do is say he was pressured to resign, was under mental duress and thus his renunciation wasn't valid. Then we are in a new and really scarey era!

Anonymous said...

"the Holy Spirit will see us through but that doesn't mean that things won't be messy . . . or the Church will experience corruption fomented in high places."

Does it mean that the Church in its present form cannot seriously damaged or even destroyed by the hounds of hell set loose within it in this papacy?

Luke said...

If this pontificate lasts more than 5 years the Catholic Church will be well back on its way to being a mainline Protestant church like it was in the 70's.

Marie said...

"As it happens, Pope Francis intends to sack Burke, whose habit of dressing up like a Christmas tree at Latin Masses infuriates him."

I bet the "dressing up like a Christmas tree" is a liberal way to describe the much-hated cappa magna. Those who hate the cappa, including [as this article says] the Pope are so ignorant of Scripture. Shame on them!

Here's the link to a painting of Our Lord wearing a "cappa magna" [the long trail is to cover the horse's behind.]

And the Scripture verse to back it up.

Isaiah 63:1-4King James Version (KJV)
63 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
King James Version (KJV)

Anonymous said...

"In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke."

Indeed, Benedict knew that Burke would be the celebrant of the very TLM to which his message was addressed. So clearly Burke was in his mind in referring to the "great cardinals" celebrating the usus antiquior. And, no doubt knowing of Francis intention (stated by Francis personally to Burke) of his intention to banish the cardinal, this seems close to velvet Vaticanese for a rebuke of a pope by his predecessor.

Keyser Soze said...

The comparison to John Paul II and Benedict XVI as "polarizing figures" is not fair. Both popes inherited a Church that was a mess. JPII inherited a Church that had languished under the leadership of a pope who was secretly wounded and loathe to discipline the wayward and disobedient. BEN 16 inherited a Church that was slightly better off, but had not been governed because the pope was always on the road and trusted his subordinates to do it. But regardless of how "polarizing" these two popes might have seemed, their polarization was the result of them holding the line to the established doctrines, teachings and traditions of the Church. This time the polarization is happening because we actually have a POPE who is the source of confusion, unclear teaching or implied dissent from the Magisterium. It is further aggravated by the fact, that as Fr. McDonald points out, the laity have a new media to access that can undercut the agendas of Cardinals like Kasper--who never should have been created as a Cardinal in the first place.

If the internet as we know it had existed during Vatican II and the subsequent years of meltdown, the Church likely would not be as messy today as it is. The "glasnost" that liberal Churchmen call for cuts both ways and it is slicing up their agenda in spite of themselves. As for polarization, I would rather be on the side of a pope who teaches what the Church has always taught than on the side of any prelate who wishes to conform the Church to the modern world.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that the polarization of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict was a result of reinforcing orthodoxy and traditional Catholic discipline.

Supertradmum said...

Liberal priest and cardinals have plagued the Church. The Catholic Church does not decide doctrine in a political manner. The Holy Spirit decides the direction of the Church.

I would compare a president with a pope. It is a false analogy. There logical fallacy here. The Pope is not primarily a political persona.

Catholic doctrine is not decided by vote. The Pope believes everyone should have a say because of collegiality, which he contradicted by being true Jesuit. Jesuits have very high sense of hierarchical structure. The Pope has one foot in collegiality and strong hierarchy-using it as he sees fit and this all may be totally unfair.

As to the Synod, Bishops have been liberal for ages but most people have not known this.

Many of the Cardinals are not holy, and they will lead people astray. But, it in the end, the Pope will never decide against doctrine.

The problem in this article is that Damian is confusing issues--one cannot talk about bishops messing things up and the pope messing things up without confusing people.

And why bring Benedict up even though the Pope Emeritus has been critical in the context of words like civil war? This language feeds the sedevacantist.

And, there are many other commentaries on line and in the press as earlier as ten days ago, such as Edward Feser, who did a better job on critiquing the synod mess.

Anonymous said...

Marc: 'I bet the "dressing up like a Christmas tree" is a liberal way to describe the much-hated cappa magna.'

Or might it describe vesting properly--"putting on the full armor of God"--for a pontifical Mass as shown in this wonderful photo post:

Supertradmum said...

Apologies, dealing with an Internet which is systematically going off and on in a storm--

I would NOT compare a president and a pope.

and priest should be plural...sorry

rcg said...

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but here is one anyway: Vatican II was an effort to prevent a schism. Liberals knew that if they left they would have no credibility to decided to use the Marxist tactic of destroy from within. They stayed and influenced the Vatican II documents to be at least fuzzy, if not actually heretical. Pope Francis was ordained in 1969 and grew up in the social ware zone of Sourh America and was involved in politics. His views and statements seem consistent with that world view. He is the first Pope that is actually from the Post Vatican II era. If there is a schism it is the cuckoo kicking us out of the nest rather than leaving.

John said...

Pope Francis was elected in a large part to satisfy the political sense of balance among the cardinals: to give a chance to rule the Church by some one not a European. This was not a new wish since Card. Bergoglio received significant number of votes during the previous conclave also.

The electors were either uninformed or complicit as to the intentions of candidate. ("Change they could believe in?") I would guess the former was the case. Failure of detecting the true intentions of the non European candidate, gifted with a politically savvy (folksy) personality, is the source of our present difficulties.

In my opinion, the sharpening public debate is the process by which the Holy Spirit is sending a message to the Holy Father. Is he willing listen to the cry of the most faithful sector of the Church? Liberals like our president do not seem to want to hear dissenting voices.

Can't help feeling pessimistic.

Amateur Scholastic said...

This is the best analysis I've read of the situation:

Anonymous said...

A painting of Lord Jesus, how exciting, how exceedingly grand!
A painting, not a picture, nothing real here, it won't stand.

Православный физик said...

As much as I'd love to NOT compare the two...can't help but do so. Neither have been good...Praying for an early retirement might not be such a bad idea.