Friday, April 29, 2016


Let's face it, the Holy Father is ambiguous. On one hand, he is quite traditional when it comes to popular piety. Why? Because he is quite progressive. Popular piety does not hinge on a priest or deacon (except for Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament). It is called popular because anyone can lead it and anywhere. Preferably popular piety finds its home in family homes and on the streets of the secular city.

When it comes to the theology of the devil and hell, Pope Francis has clearly and often spoken about both but in a carrot and stick sort of way. This is quite traditional on one hand, but progressive on the other in the sense that his manner of speaking of the devil and hell is disarming, not shrill. It is also progressive for His Holiness to ask, "who am I to judge?"

But the true bombshell in terms of this pope's ambiguity is that His Holiness who is perceived by traditionalists to be ultra progressive, may be the very pope to reconcile to the Church the SSPX and completely so.  And the other bombshell in association with this is that the SSPX gets everything it wants, meaning its rejection of some of the pastoral theology/ideology of the Second Vatican Council as it concerns religious liberty, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with the secular world to include atheists and agnostics.  But more importantly they will be permitted to reject the revised Order of the Mass, if reports are accurate. This would seem to make Pope Francis an ultra-traditionalist.

But no! The progressive Pope Francis is showing true liberality in this regard and what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Progressives, of course, have had the upper hand in the Church since Vatican II, but they are disorganized unlike the SSPX which as a conservative movement is quite organized and legalistic.

We have not seen Pope Francis condemn to many progressive ideas, theology or ideologies. He never accuses them of being doctors of the law with their small minded rules which is a negative epitaph in Pope Francis' lexicon.  That name calling is reserved for conservatives.

So Pope Francis himself embraces the Second Vatican Council's  religious liberty, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with the secular world to include atheists and agnostics with a vengeance.

We have yet to hear him say very much about the Liturgy and that the reform of the liturgy was derailed by liberals. In South America, as Cardinal Jorge Bergolio, he watched a salacious tango performed in front of him and the altar in a church as a postlude to the Mass.

He was seen celebrating youth Masses where puppets where  used as a gimmick.

Of course none of this has happened since he became pope.

Thus one can assume that the enigma of Pope Francis can allow for one group in the Church to reject significant portions of Vatican II and another group interpret the documents in the most liberal sort of way and find confirmation of that interpretation in the Holy Father himself.

Thus this Pope who leans left allows the right to have their way. But again, what's good for the goose is good for the gander--the left will be allowed to have their way too and both need to coexist in the Church that allows for traditional liturgy, piety, theology and sexual morality and progressive liturgy, lack of piety, theology and theology.

Can the two coexist? In my parish, for the most part yes and happily so. We have a large EF Community and an EF Mass celebrated on Sunday at a regularly scheduled Mass time and one of those Masses ad orientem every Sunday.

No one has complained to me about it, although the EFs complain that the EF Mass isn't every Sunday. But there isn't any vitriol about the EFs as their would have been toward the pre-Vatican II types in the 1970's and 80's.

Maybe we are growing up as a Church and Pope Francis is leading the way to the circus maximus of big tent Catholicism--or a more Biblical image, the Church that is the dragnet in this life where only God judges in the next life what is kept or thrown out?


Anonymous said...

I assume you are justifying the fact that a certain group can deny the teachings of a Council of the Church and that's okay because another group misinterpreted them an has gotten away with it. That's a symptom of everything that is wrong in the Church.

You just wrote an entire post detailing the glaring contradictions of this pope. It's almost like he has a split personality. That's not a good thing. He will kiss a statue of the BVM one moment and the next he is saying the BVM felt betrayed at the foot of the Cross. He talks about going to confession and then allows the impression that active adulterers don't have to confess this sin. He accuses all Catholics who actually believe in the Faith as being judgemental sitting on the seat of Moses all while he judges and condemns people even going so far as to publicly say that someone is not a Christian. The man wouldn't be allowed to teach Sunday school in a sane Church but here we have him as pope. It's madness. Francis REFUSES to clearly state the Church's teaching that people knowingly in mortal sin cannot receive communion without prior sacramental confession. Every faithful Catholc should have a problem with that. I hope that when he goes to Poland the bishops publicly force him to answer the question clearly and without ambiguity.

Rood Screen said...

Since Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament is a liturgical action, it would not be considered "popular piety".

I suppose it's best to read what Pope Francis writes, listen to what he says, and then apply those parts that clearly reflect the Apostolic Tradition, while setting aside whatever appears to contradict it. Any other approach seems fruitless.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Correct, but I think Adoration would be a popular piety and once consecrated I think in the absence of a priest a law person could carry it in a monstrance in a street procession with permission of course.

Gene said...

In your last paragraph, delete everything after "circus."

rcg said...

Yeah! Welcome back, Gene!

I think Pope Francis wants to have all stripes of Catholics active in the Church. This is certainly a good thing on its face, and in its heart, but the progressives and liberals tend to dominate any situation and hijack the topic. I think they hijacked Vatican II and physically hijacked the Mass not only as a process but in each parish. They are activists at the parish level coercing the priest to have puppet masses, etc. People with traditional sensibilities were railroaded out of the parishes or shouted down. This is essentially what happened with the SSPX although they tried to resist and did so inappropriately. The action against them was used to prove the exception as the rule and spread the lie about the Old Mass being disallowed. It seems that the SSPX are not getting what they want as much as Pope Francis is acknowledging that what they want has never been wrong.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald said..." We have not seen Pope Francis condemn to many progressive ideas, theology or ideologies. He never accuses them of being doctors of the law with their small minded rules which is a negative epitaph in Pope Francis' lexicon. That name calling is reserved for conservatives."

During his address at the end of the Extraordinary Synod in 2014 A.D., Pope Francis bashed progressives and liberals. Not surprisingly, just seconds earlier, he had bashed traditionalists.

Pope Francis, 2014 A.D.:

-- "One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.'

-- "The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Satisfying the wishes of competing interests is a political maneuver which can be excused in managing secular affairs.

It is also true, politics and religion have become inter mixed in our liberal culture. The resulting theology is tainted with heresy especially as it finds daily application in the life of the Church. This phenomena predates the current papacy. The only difference is that since Pope Francis' election the process has been rapidly accelerating. Gradually, this unholy mixture consists of more ideology and less and less theology. The direction of promoted changes today seem to follow the newly evolving liberal political norms. We see this being played out in secular institutions, at universities especially. A few radicals raise a ruckus and the bathroom utilization practices are immediately altered. A proposal that would have been laughed at the day before has become a new human right to accomodate the transgender ideological imperative.

This is the way new theological developments are happen in the Church today. And I say you ain't seen nothin' yet!

Rood Screen said...

Most Catholic traditionalists began simply as Catholics who wanted to know the truth about faith and morals, and to worship God with reverent celebrations of the Mass and sacraments. But then, after suffering years of Modernist preaching and liturgical self-worship, they stumbled dazed and confused into traditionalism and other dark shelters. Pope Benedict tried to apply the healing balm of Apostolic truth and liturgical reverence, but the abusers are still too powerful for it to work.

So, by the rivers of Babylon, here we sit weeping as we remember Zion.

Marc said...

Father, please allow me to speak frankly on the question why I think that Pope Francis intends to reconcile the SSPX as he does.

There are certain people, Pope St. Pius X wrote about them, who think that "doctrine" originates within the individual believer and gets expressed in many different ways. It makes sense that one possible way of expression of the individual's beliefs looks like the traditional Catholic faith.

Pope Francis appears to be one of the people who agrees with that conception of "doctrine." And so it follows that he is keen to provide an avenue for people attached to (what he calls) the "fad" of traditional Catholicism to express that faith within a group like the SSPX.

Jusadbellum said...

Insofar as Vatican II was a pastoral not dogmatic council, why couldn't a Catholic reject a merely pastoral (or disciplinary) 'suggestion' of the Council in favor of a tried-and-true pastoral tactic?

In other words, the council fathers PRESUMED THAT the various pastoral changes they called for would both increase the maturity and holiness of all Catholics within the Church AND attract millions of non-Catholics to enter the Church. It wasn't a suicide pact. The criteria for judging the validity of any mere pastoral approach is whether or not it actually produces fruit.

To the degree any "spirit" or letter of the council does not produce fruit in a quantifiably verifiable way, it loses its elan and credibility ESPECIALLY if in addition to not producing fruit it actually causes turmoil and decreases the numbers and quality of Catholics.

For example, Nostra Aetate. Is it dogmatic or pastoral? I believe it's merely a pastoral effort to promote world peace and harmony between religions (this in the aftermath of WW2 and the dawn of the nuclear age of the cold war seemed entirely reasonable). But now, after 50 years, who thinks inter-religious "dialogue" actually has much of a chance of preventing wars? Religion in general is largely co-opted by the secular powers and cultures of earth. To the point that even without "dialogue" believers would naturally reach out to each other if only in tactical "let's hang together rather than hang separately" fashion.

But strategically, the goal of Catholicism is not a perpetual ghetto whereby we refuse to evangelize non-believers out of a sense of "dialogue". Sure we can and should be charitable and kind and generous with everyone. But PRECISELY on this score, we should seek to slowly or quickly introduce them to the Good News.

We can all rejoice in some things Vatican II might have done for the better, but at least in the West and with respect to Western post-Christian secularism, we are worse off in almost every category as we were in 1965.

John Nolan said...

On a more positive note, the Sacra Liturgia conference will be held this year from 5-8 July in London. The liturgies, which are open to all, are as follows:

5 July. Solemn Vespers (1961) celebrated by Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, who is hosting the Conference.

6 July. Solemn Pontifical Mass (MR 2002), celebrated by Robert, Cardinal Sarah, who will also preach.

7 July. Solemn Pontifical Mass (MR 1962), celebrated by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who will also preach.

The above will take place in the incomparable setting of the London Oratory with its splendid resources, both liturgical and musical. Then on 8 July there will be Evensong (Ordinariate Use) celebrated by Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in the Ordinariate's own church (Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street).

The significance of this should not be underestimated. The two 'forms' are not seen as mutually exclusive, especially when the Novus Ordo is celebrated in Latin. The push to resacralize the liturgy transcends national boundaries and did not end with Benedict's abdication. Furthermore it has the backing of the highest authorities in Rome. Finally, the Ordinariate is seen as having a key role in the renewal.

The Masses are at 7 pm, which gives me time to get up to London to attend them.