Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Over at CRUX you can read John Allen's analysis of Pope Francis' scathing criticism of the curia by Pope Francis during his "Merry Christmas Greeting" on Monday, December 22. I suspect Pope Francis is receiving some push back for his radical reforms of the Vatican, the Church and the papacy by the curia and thus the slam, the most public slam.

I often wondered which group opposed Pope Benedict in the curia. Was it progressives who did not like the pre-Vatican II in continuity theology of the Holy Father and his restoration of pre-Vatican II prayer and spirituality and trappings?

And now with Pope Francis is it the conservatives, like Cardinal Burke, who are pushing back and to whom the Pope was directing his scathing remarks?

I don't know. I think it is much more complex and that the curia needs reform but I think publicly humiliating everyone and casting suspicion on them all is not the way to go. But who am I to judge?

But John Allen's analysis including a reminder of Pope Francis praising past members of the curia, those of the pre-Vatican II Church is worth exploring. This is what John Allen writes:

 Even when Francis tries to go positive, his language sometimes comes off as a back-handed tribute. For instance, he often talks about “old-time curialists” he admires, who did their jobs competently and without fanfare, but by describing them as “old-time” he seems to suggest the current crop of Vatican officials isn’t up to the same standard.

What is it about the "old-time curialists" that was so admirable? They were formed by the pre-Vatican II Church, its discipline, its liturgy, its sacraments and its legalism found in Canon Law and other important precepts!  There was a real fear of displeasing God! They went to confession regularly. They were reminded of their smallness before God and God's grandeur as they knelt before him.  They knelt before him in prayer and at Holy Communion if they were not the celebrant of the Mass! 

The pre-Vatican II Mass, with 1500 years behind it, reminded the priest-celebrant of his sinfulness over and over again, first with his private confiteor and absolution by the ministers at the Foot of the Altar and in all of the private prayers of priest during the Mass all of which have been expunged from the contrived post-Vatican II Mass with its theology of haughtiness before God.

Keep in mind that the self-referential Church is the post-Vatican II Church, where the documents of Vatican II became the new Scriptures and was preached more than God the Most Holy Trinity!

By denigrating all things pre-Vatican II, its prayer, its devotions, its liturgies, its sacramental theology, its morality, its obsession with sin and confession, its exaltation of a high Christology and the low theology of mankind, the Church herself has prepared the way for the type of Catholics we have today that Pope Francis criticizes in a scathing way. At it isn't just curialist that need the examination of conscience that the pope preached.

While I applaud Pope Francis, a doctor of the soul, for making the proper diagnosis that afflicts so many post-Vatican II Catholics, and not just curialists, I fear it has not uncovered the actual cause and that he may well be fomenting even more illness in the Church by not doing so.

The pathogen of the spiritual illness described in the pope's Merry Christmas address is post-Vatican II loss of faith and morals and contempt for canon law and other important precepts not to mention a loss of fear of displeasing God! It is a loss of orienting oneself toward the majesty of God during the Liturgy. It is a loss of reverence that leads to haughtiness that is brought on by standing for Holy Communion and receiving the King of Kings in one's hand and in the most casual and sometimes disrespectful ways. It is a loss of the Augustinian awareness of the wormness of mankind and depravity before God that deserves eternal damnation if not for the unmerited mercy and redemption of Jesus Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross.

It is a loss of the belief that the Mass perpetuates the one Sacrifice of Christ which alone saves us from sin and death.

It is a loss of frequent confession of one's sin and an awareness of our sinfulness by a Mass that emphasizes it to the point of a fault, but a happy fault.

And Holy Father Francis, it is a sense of entitlement to Holy Communion that even those who are privately excommunicated still present themselves for Holy Communion in a state of unforgiven mortal sin, such as being in a second "marriage" while their first sacramental marriage is presumed to continue to exist. But there are plenty of other examples of the haughty reception of Holy Communion without sacramental absolution for mortal sins committed the night before or weeks and years before.

Yes the Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief, for good or ill!


Anonymous said...

I think Pope Francis is just a scold. To be honest, I find him to be quite unpleasant. I think he does nothing to build up the priesthood or the Church. I find his behaviour boorish and offensive and not in keeping with the papacy or with the charity that he professes. Very sour performance at Christmas gathering.


Vox Cantoris said...

Thank you Father, you are spot on.

I also have to agree with Jan that his action was boorish and really out of place.

If he really wants to clean up he can start with that little dossier handed to him by Benedict.

Barona nails it here:

Anonymous said...

Rorate Caeli spins it as His Holiness's proof of honesty and humility; since he does not consider himself superior to his underlings, he must admit to the same faults he finds in them. Really! Can't believe Rorate has been Weigel-whipped!

Fr. Z translates it as: "Merry Christmas, you vain hyprocritical funeral faces!"

Fr. H calls it as it is: Spiritual abuse.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be honest......and truthfully, just a little petty. I LOVE this post because I know it will drive Ignotus to distraction. It's like a little Christmas kiss from the baby Jesus. Now, unlike Ignost I'm off to confession. Darn, now I have to confess that.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon - Sorry, I remain unperturbed by the Pope Francis nay sayers. The wailing and gnashing of teeth, yours among them, reveals far, far more about the whiners than it ever will about Our Holy Father. Blessed Christmas!

Gene said...

Ignotus, isn't he over in the Holy Land digging for the body of Jesus of Nazareth?

Anonymous said...

" But there are plenty of other examples of the haughty reception of Holy Communion without sacramental absolution for mortal sins committed the night before or weeks and years before."

For a perhaps minor but numerically clear cut example . . . Compare (1) the difference between the numbers of those attending Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (a holy day of obligation in the U.S.) and those receiving communion the following Sunday with (2) the number of confessions between these two days.

Anonymous said...

We have to remember that he gave the address during Advent - a time of preparation and penance akin in some ways to Lent, not during Christmas. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt that his admonitions were a) in that spirit of examination and preparation, and b) a next step in a series of admonitions - private first, then with a brother, then public. How many times during Advent to we warn our children they'll get a lump of coal, switches and ashes, etc.? No it is not pleasant, and it is tempting to act like the onlooker who, without without seeing the build-up sides with the petulant child, perhaps we too can take his admonitions to heart. While his comments were directed at leadership, I am guilty of more than one.

As regards the loss of spirituality, spot on. How I would love to come to midnight Mass at St. Joseph's, especially with the new altar rail installed!


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

For those Sheldons out there, I think Rorate Caeili's commentary on Pope Francis was sarcasm, but I could be wrong. Who am I to judge?

Rood Screen said...

Are all the words after "this is what John Allen writes" from him, or only the paragraph in red?

Templar said...

I think Father is right, the article was sarcasm. A better read on what Rorate thinks of Bishop Francis would be in the article a few links down, the interview with Cardinal Burke

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Just the red part, the rest is my commentary .

Anonymous said...

'Pater Ignotus said...
Anon - Sorry, I remain unperturbed by the Pope Francis nay sayers'

Sorry Ignotus, I guess my comment just flew over your educated better than everone else head. I was referring to the picture of traditional Catholic piety that you would never permit and the post about the beauty of the pre Vatican II church as compared with the life among the ruins we now find ourselves in. But it's nice to know you believe in Christmas and that you call the pope as holy father. I don't remember you doing that with Benedict XVI but anyway I hope you and the Manhattan cocktail crowd have a nice time. Manhattan is not meant to be literal but you know that because you are smarter than all of us.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon - I am well educated, thanks be to 1) the Catholic Church who provided me with 22 years of school, 2) my Mother who paid for it, and 3) the dozens of religious men and women and lay men and women who devoted themselves to the ministry of education on those schools.

FYI those schools are Blessed Sacrament, Savannah, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC, the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, and Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.

I will add that, using the intellectual gifts God gave me, I was in honor societies from grade school through college. My year at ND was on a graduate teaching assistantship. Those aren't handed out to students with "B" averages, you know. So, yes, I am very well educated and grateful for it.

Good Father McDonald's M.O. is to paint an oh-so-rosy picture of "pre-Vatican II" days and blame all the current discomfort on that Council. If only we still used Latin...if only we still had 40 Hours Devotions... if only women still wore veils... if only every church had an altar rail.... the Church would not be experiencing any problems whatsoever.

This is complete rubbish, completely un-historical, and disastrously inward looking.

It's been a ling time since I was in Manhattan - I hope I can visit there again soon.

Blessed Christmas.

Gene said...

"Well-educated" can mean many things. Despite Ignotus' pedigree (which he so presumptuously shared with us and which can be trumped by that of a number of people on this blog), one can see from his comments on this blog that he is of average intelligence and cannot engage in logical argument when challenged. He resorts to digression, prevarication, distortion, and repetition of his previous statements in a circular fashion. He substitutes clever comments for substantive argument and is arrogant to the point of being a caricature of himself. These are not the marks of a "well-educated" individual or, at least, of one who has facility with his education.

Anonymous said...

FYI those schools are Blessed Sacrament, Savannah, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC," blah blah blah

I shall hence forth refer to you as Pater Superbissimum,

Have you prayed Vespers yet Father? Oh wait......of course that is a joke. Bye bye Superbissimum.

Anonymous 2 said...

“It is a loss of the Augustinian awareness of the wormness of mankind. . .”

I thought that as between the extremes of worm and pinnacle of creation we had, at least after St Thomas, at least made it up to the status of cockroach. =)

Gene said...

Anon 2, Yes, I thought that passage sounded like one of my old Calvinist sermons. Here, from a popular Calvinist hymn:

Alas, and did my saviour bleed,
And did my Sovreign die,
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I.

We do seem to have lost the awareness of our
wretchedness before God and without Christ's Sacrifice. Jesus has been portrayed as our "buddy" for so long that no one fears the Righteous Judge whose mouth is a sword and who sits on the Throne of Judgement. If we could see ourselves as sin has made us and understand the stain we are upon God's Holiness and comprehend what that means without Christ, we would knock people out of the way running to the nearest Confessional. But, pride blinds us…concupiscence directs us...

Anonymous said...

Hey Ignotus. You may have gone to the school of fancy, don't deny it, but you obviously are not convent educated.

Mordacil said...

I'm sorry if this is off topic, but it's almost Christmas eve and I will be attending mass at St. Josephs. I wanted to know what "Solemn Mass", "Solemn High Mass", and Solemn Sung Mass" meant, as all of these are listed on the Christmas schedule. I thought that there was no distinction between solemn, solemn high, or low mass in the ordinary form. So is a TLM being offered on Christmas eve, or are these special examples of the ordinary form?

Unknown said...

Gene, I think it's rather clear PI is far superior to public school plebeians such as myself.

Pater Ignotus said...

Flav - I don't claim that my Catholic school education is superior to a public school education. Most well-educated people attended public schools.

I do know, however, that my education was substantial, and that has given me the ability to understand many aspects of God's wonderful world.

Gene said...

Flavius, yes, but had he attended a pubic…er, public school and gotten in a fist fight or two he might not have turned out this way. LOL

Anonymous said...

I have been to a number of Church events where people, such as Pater Ignotus, celebrated their "giftedness". For his information many women wear a veil to Mass, including me, and I wear a veil at both forms of the Mass and, yes, the Church is better for the fact that I and other women wear a veil because it gives witness to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, as do altar rails where people kneel before their maker. In that sense altar rails do improve the Church. From what I have read, Pater Ignotus, you appear to be a liberal. In all my years as a Catholic - and I bet they outstrip you - nothing liberal I have seen has made the Church better - in fact the complete opposite. Paramount being the loss of belief in the Real Presence which removing the altar rails and women no longer wearing veils helped to undermine.

No liberal I have come across has ever been humble, and that includes the one now sitting on the throne of Peter.

Where I live it is now Christmas and I have just be to a beautiful Midnight Mass - the Ordinary Form at its best. So a blessed Christmas to everyone, including PI if he believes in such things as blessings that is.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jan, for this and all the apt and beautiful thoughts you have blessed us with here. May His blessing be upon you.

John Nolan said...

Sorry to be pedantic, but it would have to be Pater Superbissimus (most proud Father) or if you addressing him, Pater Superbissime (vocative case). Superbissimum would be accusative singular in which case Pater would be Patrem.

Those who write 'ad orientum' instead of 'ad orientem' (take a hundred lines, Gene!) have overlooked the fact that 'oriens, orientis' (east) is a third declension noun, unlike 'populus, -i' which is second declension and whose accusative is 'populum'.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jan - I don't agree that "the Church is better for the fact that I and other women wear a veil..." I also don't agree that kneeling for communion makes a person 1) a better Catholic or 2) more respectful of the Real Presence.

The test of belief in and respect for the Real Presence is not in the head covering a woman may wear in Church or the posture one may assume for receiving communion. It comes after the priest has said, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

Yes, I am gifted, and I give thanks to God, and the others I noted above, for those gifts. It is a false humility to deny or hide or belittle one's gifts. In doing so, one belittles the giver of those gifts.

Gene said...

John Nolan, I am headed for the blackboard as we speak! Thanks for the correction.

Ignotus, I think "exceptional" describes you best…you know, like in the short bus.

Gene said...

John Nolan, my Latin teacher in HS was Miss Poe, an elderly woman directly descended from Edgar Allen Poe. I also had her for English one year. She was barely five feet tall, brilliant, strict, and proper. We had to stand straight by our desks to recite Latin as she patrolled the room with her pointer, with which she was not hesitant to administer swift judgement for impertinence, stuttering over lines, or egregious errors. One day she was tangentially lecturing us on the Renaissance, and I heard her refer to the "northern" Renaissance and the "southern" Renaissance.
I asked her what was the difference and she replied, "You will find, as you study further, that the figures in southern Renaissance paintings are nude. Those in the paintings of the northern Renaissance are naked, however."

Anonymous said...

Pater Ignotus, while it may not make individuals better Catholics, kneeling to receive Commmunion and wearing a veil to cover the head denotes belief in a higher being and humility.

Most of those who celebrate their giftedness - and usually announce it to the world at the same time - I have found reject kneeling and veiling. They prefer to stand bareheaded and place themselves on Our Lord's level.

Our Lord Himself fell down on His knees before His heavenly Father Matthew (22:39) and Saint Mark (14:35).

One of the reasons for standing, so I have heard, is because liberals believe they are saved and are no longer sinners. Also, don't forget that according to Abba Apollo and other saints the devil has no knees. He will not kneel. He will not adore.

Whose example would you choose to follow? Christ or the devil?

And thank you, Henry, for your kind words. Very much appreciated.



Gene said...

Excepting those with medical problems, I have contempt for any who will not kneel in the Lord's Presence. I believe it to be, in the educated and aware, a sign of arrogance, self-absorption, and unbelief.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jan - Why were men never required to cover their heads at mass? If wearing a head covering suggests belief in a high being and humility, why were not men also required to do so?

I know of no "liberals" who think they are saved and no longer sinners.

Anonymous said...

Jan: "No liberal I have come across has ever been humble,"

I once met a liberal who was gracious and respectful in disagreement as well as agreement, and could engage rationally in serious argument. Maybe twice, but the other time was too long ago to be sure.

PI: "If wearing a head covering suggests belief in a high being and humility [for women], why were not men also required to do so?"

I give up. Is it because men were expected to have beards [face covering] instead of head covering? At any rate, I suspect some difference between men and women is at play here.

Anonymous 2 said...


Ever since I read the following passage from Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” his Renaissance Manifesto as it were, it has struck me that Pico strikes the necessary balance between wormness and pinnacle (all on the assumption, of course, that Man’s rise to the heights is through Christ’s salvific sacrifice and divine grace with which our free will must cooperate):

“At last, the Supreme Maker decreed that this creature, to whom He could give nothing wholly his own, should have a share in the particular endowment of every other creature. Taking man, therefore, this creature of indeterminate image, He set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him:

‘We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgement and decision. The nature of all other creatures is defined and restricted within laws which We have laid down; you, by contrast, impeded by no such restrictions, may, by your own free will, to whose custody We have assigned you, trace for yourself the lineaments of your own nature. I have placed you at the very center of the world, so that from that vantage point you may with greater ease glance round about you on all that the world contains. We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, in order that you may, as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life; you will be able, through your own decision, to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.’”

The reminder that “It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of life” seems particularly salutary.

I know that several of 900 theses in his Oration were condemned by the Church but am unsure about his current standing.

Gene said...

Mirandello was a Renaissance humanist. His writings are Pelagian, his theology nonexistent.

Gene said...

Traditionally, a woman's glory is her hair. The head covering is a sign of humility specific to women alone. Men remove their hats in the presence of God because a head covering for a man is a sign of masculinity and virility, power and place. It is a sign of humility and respect for a man to remove his head covering.
These traditional symbols and practices are proper and timeless, despite what the modernist slobs and minimalists like Ignotus prefer. In terms of Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh, humility is a concept he neither embodies nor understands. Strange Priests we have these days, hmmm. But, hey, look at the Pope.

Anonymous 2 said...


Perhaps so, but I qualified his remarks, I hope appropriately. I see value in many sources and try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, just the bathwater.

Anonymous 2 said...


You might want to get out more. I spend most of my life surrounded by liberal colleagues in higher education. With rare exceptions, I have found them to be “gracious and respectful in disagreement as well as agreement" and able to "engage rationally in serious argument.”

This said, I think that political labels can be treacherous. With regard to myself, for example, I try to resist the labels “liberal” and “conservative,” preferring the label “Catholic.” With that label, my positions sometimes align with “conservatives” and sometimes with “liberals.” If I had to accept a “liberal” or “conservative” label politically, it would be the latter but understood in a very particular way that does not easily map onto contemporary American political “conservatism.”

Anonymous 2 said...

Jan: I should have directed my previous comment to you too.

Anonymous said...

Fr Michael J Kavanaugh, you are indeed lucky then not to know any "Easter people" who say they are redeemed and not fallen down by the weight of their sins which they say kneeling indicates.

Gene has answered the part well about why men don't cover their heads.

Anonymous 2 - I believe the term "Catholic" covers the body of people who believe in the Church's teachings entirely - so perhaps if there are to be labels it should be orthodox and dissenter because that is what the liberals are - dissenters from the truths that the Catholic Church teaches - many of these dissenters even deny the dogmas of the Church.