Thursday, August 01, 2013

Not a Renaissance Prince?

My understanding of the feudal world is that it was highly litigious, partly because its basis was about mutual obligation and it was reasonably static, everyone knew their rights and when they were violated they went to court. Medieval court records, at least in England show that even the lowest in society could insist on their rights even over the local Lord or other magnate, even the king. It is not surprising, as the very nature of feudalism was based on the idea of a society with God, the Lawgiver, at its very top. When it worked it was good, when it didn't work the sword ruled.

Renaissance society I always think was different. I read The Prince at an early age. It was fast moving, renaissance princes seem to have been answerable to no-one, not the Church, not God and certainly not to their inferiors, one can't quite imagine a Medici or a Tudor doing public penance like Henry II after Becket's murder.
The Renaissance was a lawless time, the princes will was law, princes were feared, the parvenu was not rooted in society, he was here today and gone tomorrow. It is no wonder Pope Francis keeps saying, 'I am not Renaissance Prince'.

One thing that does worry me about the the present Papacy is that on the one hand the Bishop of Rome is calling for transparency, especially with regard to the IOR, the Vatican Bank, and yet on the other hand seems to act as if he is unconstrained by Law or custom, just like a Renaissance Prince.
Setting as a priority the clearing out of any hint of waywardness in the IOR is certainly important and it is good place to start, It is important the Church can be trusted, especially with money but transparency has to be attached to everything in the Church not just its finances.

I admit I was quite shaken by Francis' disregard for liturgical Law and washing the feet of women despite what the rubrics plainly say. The recent negation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate's right under the rules set out by Summorum Pontificum, which gave every Latin Rite priest the ability to choose which form of the Roman Rite he wished to use, seems not only worrying but also high handed and most probably illegal, that is worrying too. Even the decision to Canonise the Blessed John XXIII without the necessary divine sign of a further miracle, and today it is reported that the Pontiff is seriously considering the Canonisation of Pius XII. These things might be good or possibly necessary or pastorally fitting or whatever you might describe them as but what is worrying is that they cut across the proper and due process of Law. There is a very serious danger of the Church being seen as a Renaissance Principality, Papa vult is not the basis of the Church's law. If the Pope wishes for transparency he cannot act like a Renaissance Prince, he too has to be subject to the Law, bending his personal desire to it, not bending the Law to his desire.

If the Church's Law is disregarded then the Church simply becomes an institution based on it earthly leader's whim. The most important role of the Pontiff or any ruler is to ensure the law is as clear as possible and immediately obvious to everyone. The Church must be 'a just society' because God is Just. If the Pope acts without due regard to the Law why can't anyone, the answer is obvious, if we do not obey the Law we become not a just society but a band of robbers. Bringing in confusion, muddying the waters, does no good whatever and in the long term destroys the Church's credibility, especially in a time when, as His Holiness tells us some pretty dramatic reforms are likely to take place.


The Bones said...

I was thinking of the post you put up on St Thomas More on 'the Law and the Devil'.

Once the laws of the Church are torn down, what is to protect the Church from whatever madness the Devil would like to employ on Her, save for the holiness and sanctity of the reigning Pope?

The Bones said...

It strikes me that the laws are there because the Church knows the weakness of the human condition - so sets laws in place to counter the ministers' whims and individual desires.

This is wisdom! The Church is wise!
If these laws are torn down, or if they are over-ridden by the Supreme Pontiff, it could be like sea defences or levees breaking - the question will then be how much water this Barque can hold!

James C. said...

Father, thank you so much for the frankness, thoughtfulness and honesty of your reflections! It is a comfort to this troubled and concerned layman that there are clergy who share the same concerns. Many priests may understandably worry about repercussions for on-the-record frankness. God bless your bishop for not being a Renaissance prince and allowing you to speak freely with your parish and online flock!

Martina Katholik said...

Weeks ago I started to see this Pope through the lenses of the liberals. The more times passes the more I think they get his mindset quite right.
This is one of the latest news (Jul 23) from the famous liberation theologian Leonardo Boff:

Will this pope turn the Vatican upside down?
Pope Francis is a pope of change. This is new. His predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI wanted the church to maintain its continuity. Francis has now started to reform the papacy.
I think this pope will create a dynasty of popes from the Third World.
Where does your optimism come from? The problems are still the same: divorced people who get re-married are excluded from the Eucharist, homosexuals suffer discrimination and women are not allowed to become priests or deacons.
The pope gave a clear example. When he heard that a priest in Rome would not baptize an illegitimate child he said, "There are no illegitimate daughters or sons - there are only children. The mother has the right to have her child baptized. The church must open its doors to everyone." Until now it's been forbidden to talk about sexual morality, celibacy and homosexuality. Theologians and priests who did not conform were censored. Nowadays these topics are open for discussion. (…)

Leonardo Boff is beside Mikhail Gorbachev, Maurice Strong, Steven Rockfeller, Mercedes Sosa, and others the co-editor of the Earth-Charta

Martina Katholik said...

Pope Francis requests copy of Boff book, considers future meeting
(…) Boff confirmed in his conversation with me what he stated to O Globo -- that Francis could rehabilitate the more than 500 theologians condemned by the Church during the years when it was ruled by Ratzinger and Wojtyla, but that he doesn't think he'll do it "as long as Benedict XVI is alive."

Boff told me that Pope Francis has accepted the most primitive concept of liberation theology in his program. "Remember, Juan, that theologian Carlos Scanone, who launched that theology in Argentina, was a professor of Bergoglio, the future pope, when he was teaching theology in a school on the outskirts of Buenos Aires."

Original here:

Martina Katholik said...

"Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome"
This is the title of Boff´s book, now famous in Latin America because Pope Francis requested a copy.

Summary here: said...

Surely Father, Papa vult is, alas, precisely the basis of the Roman Church's law - isn't that what Canons 331 ff. mean? That may be a comfort or, as now, it may be terrifying.

gemoftheocean said...

To play devil's advocate (pardon the expression in this case!) arguably the laws are issued under the direction of the pope - as he is the supreme head.

Remind me again why Her Majesty (who is a pretty nice girl) doesn't need a passport or a driver's license? Hint: They are issued in her name.

I may not care for all the present pontiff does, but so far I can't see that he's messed around with any "deposit of faith" items.

In other words, he hasn't said it's okay to consecrate Doritos corn tortillas and beer.

I agree there are thing he's bent the rules on that may or may not be impolitic. [Question of the day: Where did the Blessed Mother eat when Jesus was having that Last Supper? With the Finklestines and Mary M? Or did she sit in the closet in the upper room and clean the dishes afterwards?]

GOR said...

Having endured rubrical mortal sins over the past decades, I can’t get too excited about some minor rubrical anomalies with Pope Francis. Maybe I have become immune to outrage.

That said, the apparent treatment of the Franciscan Friars is a horse of a different color. Granted, we don’t know the details of the Apostolic Visitation – ordered by Pope Benedict, incidentally – who, having the results in hand, might not have acted differently. We just don’t know.

But it does not seem in keeping with Pope Francis’ attitude of ‘mercy’. If he can overlook the apparent scandalous behavior of a Mons. Ricca (by the way he’s a Monsignor – a honorific title - not a bishop, for what it’s worth…), as the ‘sins of youth’ now repented and forgiven supposedly, whence the big stick approach to the Friars who are anything but scandalous?

By the way, Father, as Francis has said he prefers those who disagree with him to ‘Yes men’ - who hypocritically say one thing but do the opposite - perhaps you should book a room at the Casa Santa Marta for a time.

It would probably do both of you some good…J

Jacobi said...

It seems to me that the issue here is that of Secularisation of religion.

I would define that by saying it is the adoption of passing and current Secular, that is non-Christian concepts of behaviour and morality, by churches.

The Protestant churches are already well down that path, adopting contraception, abortion, an equality of women which allows female ordination, divorce and re-marriage, homosexual practise, and effectively rejecting, or getting close to rejecting the very concept of sin.

The next question is to what extent the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body o0f Christ on Earth, is following this trend. Personally, I think the signs are dangerous.

Contraception is effectively already tolerated. Young married couple at our churches show the same 1.8 (?) re-production rate as do non-Catholics, but of course also take part in the 100% reception of Holy Communion, and our clergy dare not say anything about it.

Now the Church has always accepted the idea of invalid marriage and nullity, but indications now are that the barriers are about to be dropped much further regarding marriage and possibly also homosexual practise.

Fine, but once again we have to
ask are we, just like the Protestant churches, steadily becoming Secularised?

Delia said...

Ditto James C.

EFpastor emeritus said...

I read, many years ago, that miracles attributed to Pius X11 had been accepted but his beatification would not be proceeded with at that stage because it would not be “opportune”. Sadly I cannot neither remember where I read that nor the authority for it.
I do remember at the time saying that the Vatican “diplomats” had again been unduly influenced by the misinformation and propaganda of Hochhuth and the blasted Zionists. I was amazed at the lack of decisive action by the then Pope.

How often do we not read criticism of the Popes for lack of decisive action on many matters particularly liturgical ones. Now that Francis does take decisive action he is regarded as being authoritarian! .
Maybe we need more “authoritarian” action by the Pope, remembering he is a a Jesuit, and Jesuits are trained to act on their own initiative! Having said that , and maybe because of that, I share some misgivings about our Holy Father but still pray "God Bless our Pope".

Fr Ray Blake said...

There might well be miracles but there is a problem with Pio XII as an 'Exempla' of the Christian life, that is very important, many people not just outside the Church would be scandalised by his promotion to the Altar, not just over his wartime record but also his rather cranky attitude to other things, like monkey glands!

'Procedures' are there for a purpose, advisers are there to ensure judgements are prudential.

Independent said...

Might I point out to PE that Zionists are divided, like indeed Catholics and secularists, in their attitude to Pius XII.. A case in point is Prof. Martin Gilbert, a Jew, a Zionist, and Churchill's biographer. Recently indeed we have had the spectacle of an American Rabbi defending Pius against a renegade Catholic. A blasted catholic, perhaps?

EFpastor emeritus said...

I deliberately used the tern Zionist. I do not equate faithful Jews with Zionists. I have, in the past, published a post on the Jewish Rabbi to whom you refer. He is not a Zionist.

JARay said...

My first trip overseas from England was to attend the Holy Year in 1950. I was with a very large contingent of Boy Scouts from the UK. We had our own boat across the Channel and we had two special trains to carry us to Rome and then on to Switzerland where we stayed in a Swiss camp at Kandersteg.
We saw the Pope of course.
Which Pope? Pius XII and we were all thrilled by him. I thought then that he was a saint and I still think the same after 63 years! I am one who will indeed be delighted when he is canonised.

Independent said...

PE talks about "faithful Jews" and Zionists. For the vast majority of Jews there is no distinction between the two. "Next year in Jerusalem" said at the Passover for centuries encapsulates their two thousand year hope to live in peace in their own land.

As for Rabbi Dalin, the author of "The Myth of Hitler's Pope", his other book on the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem would strike me as distinctly Zionist. Non Zionist Jews are usually Marxists who have abandoned their religion.

The term Zionist in the modern world in New Left and Old Eight rhetoric often serves as a cloak for anti-semitic sentiments which it is unfashionable to air openly. Surprisingly they do not usually prefix it with the term "blasted".

John Fisher said...

But he behaves like a renaissance prince in that he wants adulation and feigns humility. A renaissance prince based his appeal upon the cult of personality. The prince is the centre of attention but when questioned he appeals to God. The archetype is even earlier such as Alexander the Great fought and lived with his troops. Pope Julius also fought and lived a life of a soldier. The Borgia patronised the arts but this Pope is like then in that his will, his way his opinion and rhetoric overrides all. No his style might be contemporary but it is imposed. King Phillip II of Spain slept in a small room. He personally corresponded with Viceroys. He distrusted bureaucracy. King Louis XIV said he was the state and was accessable to all who even watched him eat meals. Even his getting out of bed and going to the toilet. This Pope is similar and it is dangerous. He sets his own agenda and enforces it and it is style over substance. If it was substance he would have not allowed massive drama stages for himself in Rio but built a row of houses in a favela. His poverty is not real! Why he has no respect for the proper use of material wealth! What is more dangerous is he will hide behind God to cover his own strong will.