Thursday, March 17, 2016


This is a fictional headline, but if not fictional, would it create a Greater Schism than the Great Schism? 

Pope Emeritus breaks silence: speaks of ‘deep crisis’ facing Church post-Vatican II, reclaims papacy

Cardinal Robert Sarah seems to either confirm or contradict Pope Francis over an obscure liturgical tradition offered once a year at a non-obligatory Solemnity and the tradition in and of itself is non obligatory. However, this obscure tradition has caused angst and controversy for decades now.

We all know where Cardinal Burke stands on the law, canon law that is and especially his views about marriage and the need for clarity when teaching about it. His rigid views which appear out of touch with the pope's pastoral agenda got him demoted and rather quickly after the papal election.

We know too that Cardinal Mueller seems to raise a concern or two about the direction of the Church and was a part of the band of cardinals who wrote a secret letter to the pope during the last synod on the family sounding the alarm. This letter was made public and there was a public rebuke of it in a not so veiled way by the pope.

We know to that Cardinal Kasper who on many occasions got into classic public boxing matches over the progressive/conservative theological divide with the then Cardinal Ratzinger has reasserted his theological perspective under the new regime and even become a great adviser to it and this is what he said in the last 48 hours:

The Apostolic Exhortation (on marriage and the family) will represent “the first step in a reform” that will mark the “turning of a page” in the Church’s history “after 1,700 years."

"We must not repeat past formulas and barricade ourselves behind the wall of exclusivism and clericalism,” Cardinal Kasper told a packed aula in Lucca’s Real Collegio, adding that the Church must live in the current times and “know how to interpret them.”

And now Pope Benedict breaks his silence about the crisis in the Church which seems to have accelerated in the last three years with an ever widening polarization happening before our very eyes.

What if a living ex-pope who is an academic, an intellectual and a doctrinal watchdog became an ex pope because of outside pressure that led to psychological angst and incapacitating him and leading to a decision not completely of the free will from which His Holiness recovered only to see that his legacy and the legacy of popes before him is being undermined by a present pope, whoever that pope is, a present populace pope who is even loved by the world, the media and others who are not Catholic? A populace pope that questions small minded Church law, canon law that is, liturgical law that is and marital law that is, and castigates the intellectuals of the Church who act more like a monarchical court, kings and princes, than the uneducated first apostles. What if he even called them men with a case of spiritual Alzheimer?

And what if that living ex pope who might in fact be the pope decided that his resignation was forced in one way or another and therefore invalid and started to make his presence felt once more with clear and concise evaluation of the present situation?

Can there be two popes?

What would this perfect storm that led to another Great Schism look like? Or would it just fissile?


Anonymous said...

Well whatever happens I am going to continue trying to live the Catholic Faith as it has always been taught. That means frequent reception of the sacraments, the rosary, Holy Mass, Scripture, imitation of the saints etc. I will not obey any teaching that is in opposition to any of the Doctrines/Dogmas of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic matter who tries to promulgate them. I will never abandon the Catholic Faith because of a human being. As to the rest, God will take care of it. The reason I was put on this earth is to save my soul. And I can only save my soul by remaining in the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation.

Rood Screen said...

So, if this headline is fictional, does that mean your previous post about Pope Benedict is fictional?

Anonymous said...

"Fissile" Hahahahahahahahaha........

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The previous headline isn't fictional nor does it say His Holiness is reclaiming the papacy. But yes in the fictional world of blogdom a nuclear fission chain reaction we might be experiencing if an emeritus pope said his abdication wasn't valid. It would be called The Great Fissile!" :)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If as a result of the Great Fissile would an anti-pope's declaration such as elevating people to "blessed" and "saint" be invalid? I think his teaching magisterium would be so but the valid pope could grandfather the blessed and saint declarations or simply confirm them, no?

Victor W said...

"turning of a page' in the Church’s history 'after 1,700 years.'"
Here we go again, revising history. It seems more like 2000 years to me, that is, since Jesus spoke those "harsh" words against divorce.
The main way the so-called "progressives" get their way is to fabricate history. That is to say, secular and pagan society has the truth for them, so they use historical revisionism as a means to change the Church's teaching to accommodate them.

TJM said...

I was deeply saddened by Pope Benedict's abdication. His successor has sown confusion and has depressed practicing, faithful Catholics. May he follow Benedict's example and resign, soon, very soon before he fills the College of Cardinals with left-wing loons

Anonymous said...

Well somebody needs to take over the papacy, Francis is at it again on yesterday Francis called on the world to "open their hearts and their doors to Muslim "migrants". Europe is on the verge of an Islamic takeover and he tells them to be open up, you have brave fighters in Europe such as Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Heinz-Christian Strache, Victor Orbal, busting their you no whats to halt the invasion and hold the Walls of Vienna against the evil that awaits all of Europe and you have a pope who is calling for the continued invasion of Europe this is just too much any more and you wonder why America is voting for TRUMP by the millions, wake up folks before you start to hear the call of the muezzin from church steeples all throughout Europe starting in Rome itself!!!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 10:31 AM, the Islamic invasion can only be stopped by the ethnic Europeans themselves, but they don't believe in any faith whether it is the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran or Church of England, Christianity died in Europe during the 1960's and will take decades to recover if it ever does. The sheer birthrate of Muslims in Europe is 8.1 children per couple, the White European birthrate is 1.2 per house hold the math does not lie, Europeans cannot ever catch up at that rate, they do not have babies, Muslim women in Europe stay home and produce child after child it is a fact, Europe will be Muslim in a few short decades. Yes the great and very very brave Geert Wilders has tried to wake up Holland and Europe for that matter and PEGIDA Germany with their rally's that started in Dresden have spread to other European cities, yet they are called Nazis of course by the Left Wing traitors just like Trump is called all sorts of names. That is what the Left immediately does tag someone who disagrees with them racists, bigots, xenophobes, anti-gay, anti-woman, the sad thing is groups such as gays, atheists, feminists, animal rights activists, liberals, transgenders, environmentalists, liberal Jews, actors, musicians, would be the first to die under Sharia Law when it takes full hold in Europe and yes America. These groups should be in the forefront of the PEGIDA marches, but they are so blinded by hate of Christianity and yes of white people they don't understand they would be the first to die, Geert Wilders has told gays, women, to join in stopping the invasion but to deaf ears. The GOP elites and George Soros, Black lives matter, and other far left groups have promised blood will flow in the streets of AMERICA this summer to stop TRUMP, and I believe them at their word. America and Europe will be forever changed this summer and how sad and frighting this will be!

Roseanne said...

The model of Christ's teaching should be that of the woman who had 5 husbands whom He met at the well. It was the first words of annulment of an invalid marriage from the lips of the Lord.

Mark Thomas said...

Dear Father McDonald, here is a link to the English translation of the interview granted by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

Just scroll a bit down the page to read the interview.


Mark Thomas

Kathy from Kansas said...

In any discussion of the abdication of Benedict XVI, I believe the following article is essential, necessary background:

Anonymous said...

I think that Pope Benedict's "abdication" is tied up with Wikileaks and whatever was in the dossier. Who was the butler working for? Probably one of those powerful groups we hear control the Vatican. What he did certainly put pressure on Pope Benedict. Hypothetically, what if what was in that dossier was so explosive that an agreement was reached for Pope Benedict to relinquish the administrative duties as Pope and a Bishop of Rome appointed to carry out the day to day functions of the Papacy and calm things down, the Emeritus Pope being present at consistitories etc to ensure the validity of the appointment of cardinals. But then what if that Bishop of Rome started to overstep his limited authority and take the Church in a new direction ...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Jan, that would make a great novel and movie, but already tried in one way with the DaVinci Code.

I do believe, though, that if a Roman Pontiff is forced to resign against his will or if his will is compromised in any way that leads him to resign, then that resignation I believe is invalid. Thus subsequent popes while the current one is alive would be anti-popes.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Now if you are saying Pope Benedict is a shadow pope to the anti-pope and Benedict contrived it, well, then, I would say that Pope Benedict is culpable of a very grave immorality and guilty of deadly/mortal sin.

Now if Pope Benedict has done what he did with an eye on uncovering the heterodoxy in the Church and bringing it out into the open, while the ends would be justified the means would not.

I do find it fascinating that Pope Benedict is reasserting his teaching authority as a bishop and ultimately the Bishop Emeritus of Rome three years since his resignation. Is a resurrection of sorts happening as we are in Passiontide? Is it a symbol of the three days? What is motivating this and did he ask Francis for permission. Of course the interview is in the Vatican newspaper.

Great novela here!

Liam said...

I would suggest that clerics with pastoral responsibilities have a special obligation to avoid stirring speculation among the flock about schism.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Schisms happened all the time in the Church and SSPX is a near schism but not complete. We are in a very polarized time in the Church and many tensions exist not only from how the sex abuse scandal continues to rear its ugly head but also when it comes to the great progressive/conservative, liberal/traditional divide that is once again exacerbated as 1970's ideologies return with a vengeance. We have a unique situation with two popes and the emeritus speaking out loud. It is fascinating to me, but I'm with the pope, whoever His Holiness is, liberal/conservative, progressive/traditional.

Anonymous said...

Fr McDonald, it's possible that Pope Benedict was told that the information in the dossier was so serious that, for the sake of the Church, he should step down. If that occurred then that indeed would be pressure. So there would be no sin in that. It is factual that Francis does not call himself "Pope" only "Francis" or has referred to himself as "the Bishop of Rome" and does not reside in the papal apartments but in a luxurious hotel. Since his resignation Benedict himself has said he only relinquished the day to day duties of Pope but not the spiritual side of the papacy. No doubt that is why he still considers he has teaching authority and has made the statements he has. There is a definite mystery surrounding the whole resignation - no one can deny that and even Mark Twain said that "truth is stranger than fiction". Certainly what we know of Pope Benedict's resignation would make a great novel and it is certainly no where near as straightforward as we first thought. Thank God that we still have his teaching authority to help stabilise the barque.

Anonymous said...

As a child we were taught about papal infallibility and how limited it actually is. It is interesting to note that none of the so-called bad popes changed papal doctrine and so, as history has demonstrated there have been a number of bad popes or anti-popes, therefore, we can't hang our hat on any pope who deviates from Church teaching, otherwise we will be like a lemming that follows along after a pied piper. The only certainty we have is to remain in the truth of Christ. The Church will go on, certainly and surely, as She has done down the centuries despite the popes!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Jan, Pope Francis has called himself pope many times and it is a familiar title, not not formal mind you. The familiar term for the Bishop of Rome is papa in Italian, which means exactly that, Father or Padre or Papa in English even. Unfortunately papa is translated into pope in English, making it sound like a formal title. It isn't formal, it is familiar, like Father McDonald rather than Reverend McDonald or worse yet, Priest McDonald.

I could refer to myself as the Priest of the Parish, a formal title or as the Reverend of the Parish. It would be like Pope Francis saying he is the Bishop of Rome. That is a formal title compared to papa! And in my case Priest of the Parish is a more formal title than Father of the Parish.

John Nolan said...

Francis cannot be an anti-pope unless his election is shown to be uncanonical, and since he was elected by all the eligible cardinals, rather than a faction of them, this won't happen. An antipope is someone who is set up as a rival to a canonically elected pope. So whether we like Francis or not, we're stuck with him until his papacy is ended either by himself, or by God.

Anonymous said...

John, there could be a doubt over whether some of the cardinals were in fact eligible to vote because of the facts disclosed by Austen Ivereigh in his book relating to canvassing by Cardinal Cormac-Murphy as reported by the Telegraph:

"Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis, a new biography claims … The Great Reformer, by the British Catholic writer Austen Ivereigh, nicknames the group “Team Bergoglio” and says members toured private dinners and other gatherings of cardinals in the days before the conclave, quietly putting their case."

The effect of that is analysed here:

"Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:

1/ a person incapable of a human act;
2/ a person who lacks active voice;
3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.

§2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one elected did not receive the required number of votes.

The importance of this Canon, I opine, is thus: if what Ivereigh alleges in his book, is true, and the manner of canvassing votes is that penalized with automatic excommunication, then the Cardinals who did this, and Cardinal Bergoglio — if he expressly consented, as Ivereigh’s print edition says he did — would be excommunicated prior to the beginning of the Conclave; and the election would be null and void, on the grounds that the 32 votes Bergoglio received in the first round of voting (as reports allege, which votes are presumably nearly or mostly those who participated in the vote canvassing) would be null and void, coming as they did from excommunicated electors. That would make the 78 votes which Cardinal Bergoglio got in the final 5th vote, to be insufficient to elect him."

Also, apparently the fact Francis was elected on a 5th vote when the requirement is 4 votes only per day also adds a question mark, coupled with Danneels and others putting pressure on Pope Benedict, together with the growing concern of conservatives about this papacy it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Fr McDonald's hypothetical situation could come become reality ... after all, who would have believed that a Pope could or ever would resign ...

John Nolan said...

Jan, Austen Ivereigh has no authority to decide if someone has been excommunicated latae sententiae, and the canonist Ed Peters has pointed out that there are so many qualifications and loop-holes in this type of excommunication that it is virtually impossible for anyone to state with certainty that one has been incurred.

Elections being what they are are, even papal elections, there is always canvassing and lobbying beforehand. When the cardinals meet socially before a conclave I doubt if they talk about much else. In 1978 another English cardinal, Basil Hume, is reported to have been one of the main organizers of a 'stop Siri' campaign; ironically the one chosen (Wojtyla) turned out to be even less to the liberals' liking.

Attempts to prove that Bergoglio's election was uncanonical are doomed to failure. Just accept that in this case they picked a wrong 'un - it's happened many times before. And remember that a pope has no power whatsoever to change Church doctrine. Fr Hunwicke has a good article on his blog about this very subject.

Anonymous said...

John, it is not Austen Ivereigh who has claimed that the cardinals were excommunicated. He merely wrote in a biography of Francis The Great Reformer how Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor lobbied for Cardinal Bergoglio. Since lobbying was expressly forbidden by Pope St John Paul The Great with the penalty for doing so being excommunication, others who have studied Canon Law have stated the possibility that those cardinals involved in lobbying excommunicated themselves and, therefore, the election of Pope Francis could be invalid.

Austen Ivereigh was Director for Public Affairs of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, so he was certainly in the box seat to know what went on.

I wouldn't expect someone like Ed Peters to come out and say that Francis was non-canonically elected because we all know he would be history if he did. Look what happened to Cardinal Burke. Look what happened to the Franciscans of the Immaculate. There have also been attempts to close bloggers down with threats. Freedom of speech has been seriously curtailed during this papacy by those now holding power in the Vatican, and also there has been an attempt to make more of Papal infallibility than it actually is suggesting that one has to accept Francis' views on global warming and his encyclical largely put together by an atheist and supported by population control proponents, etc. One only had to read Vatican I to see how limited it is and what Catholics must believe.

I think there is sufficient doubt over the validity of the resignation of Pope Benedict and the canonical election of Francis to make Fr McDonald's hypothetical scenario a possibility in the future if things get worse, as many think they will: the devolving of papal authority to local bishops and the undermining of clerical celibacy being just two serious matters Francis is seeking to address. I don't think we've heard the last of this by a long shot.