Monday, October 20, 2014

Was that why he was elected?

 (Photo: Getty)

I must admit I still don't understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh-air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?

I have never done the Benedict through Francis thing at least, but neither am I convinced of the Francis against Benedict thing entirely. I am still perplexed and confused by him. Perhaps it is in Francis who rather than being an Emperor who is wearing no clothes we actually have clothes with no Emperor. I mean those morning homilies that come out of the marble halls of Sta Martha that are full of barbs but actually teach nothing. Perhaps we should expect nothing!

It is worth remembering that what many of the Cardinals were calling for before the Conclave was a de-centralised Church and greater Collegiality. The BBC, foolish people, have been talking about progressive Francis against the conservative Synod and how he failed to move the Church forward, as if the Synod was solely about the divorced and remarried, or practicing homosexuals. What seems to go under the radar is that for the first time in modern times Cardinals and Bishops have stood up to the Pope and very publicly defied him, some like the Raymond Lion of the Synod Burke have even dared to demand he do his job and defend the faith, like Paul rebuking Peter.

What has happened is that in Synod those of us who would hope that the successor of the Apostle Peter should defend the faith from other Bishops, have turned our gaze from the successor of Peter to the successors of other the Apostles. This I think was the defining action of the Synod, for the first time most Catholics looked to Bishops not the Pope to defend the Faith.


A priest friend of mine said, 'I have no problem with collegiality only with those who might exercise it'. For many Catholics the really problem in the Church has not been Rome but their local bishops, in England we complain about the 'magic circle' nut actually compared to France or Germany or Ireland or the US until the the last decade or so our bishops on the whole have been paradigms of Apostolic zeal and faithful bearers of the Tradition. French bishops until recently have done their best to empty their Churches and seem to have more in common with deconstructionalists and existentialist than Christ, German's are really concerned with nothing but holding on to their Church tax (anything goes providing you pay), the Irish exemplify total failure and America has brought forth such luminaries as Bernardin, Weakland and Mahoney, and one coulde come up with at least a score of other names who ruled the Church like some Wild West bandit chieftain.

The failure of the Church has been a failure of leadership at least on a local level. It is worth remembering that we are in Communion with Rome because we are in Communion first of all with our local Bishop who is Communion with Rome and the entire Church. In England and elsewhere we have looked to Rome to protect us from our Bishops. The problem is most Catholics simply do not trust their own Bishop, and look at him as being of little importance, as if between them and the Pope there is no intermediary, especially if one doesn't like one's Parish Priest or simply doesn't want to be involved with him and his community. In a way the internet has exacerbated this to the point where the 'e-church' is more real than the actual Church, everyone looks to the Pope but no-one to their Bishop.

The great concern of Francis has been that so many Bishops are actually of poor quality, if there is one thing that is clear in Francis' confusing teaching, it is that many Bishops are simply not up to their role defined in the documents of VII. At the Synod it was the Bishops who shone not the Pope. Does the Pope intend this? I don't know, but was that why he was elected?
Maybe I'm clinging at straws.

Britain's best source of Catholic commentary has a good summary of some the most exciting things some of the Bishops came up with.

29 comments:

gemoftheocean said...

you ask "Does the pope intend this?" I don't think so. Mediocrity loves mediocrity. It would surprise me none if you get confirmation of what I said when you get a new bishop. I pray I am wrong on that, but I have a sneaking suspicion you may well get a "Salieri." With any luck, WITHOUT a mistress, or venal backstabbing tendencies. Sometimes "mediocre" is good enough...but I'll be surprised if you get a giant.

Anil Wang said...

I don't remember there was a call for more de-centralised Church and greater Collegiality. All I remember was in the wake of the Vatileak scandal that showed the presense of corruption and a gay lobby, there was a mandate for the next Pope to deal with it. On the issue of the gay lobby, he "got rid of it" by making many of its members chief advisors (note, the gay lobby doesn't only include homosexuals), thereby sweeping it under the rug. WRT corruption, he has deal the the Vatican Bank is a reasonable way, and in theory, the council of 8 cardinals is a valid way to allow the Pope a channel of keeping his pulse on the Church (no one person can do the job). His choice of members, however is problematic to put it charitably. Everything else that was done, is pure Pope Francis and must be analyzed on an initiative by initiative basis.

But if you mean, why was Pope Francis chosen providentially (i.e. read God in the current events, as the Jews did in the old testament), I think the answer is clear. For at least 50 years, faithful bishops have been lax in their duties on being pastors, leaving most of the work of defending the faith in the hands of the Pope (which is one man who cannot do everything) or the laity (which often times are poorly catechized because of the new teaching methods developed in the early part of this century). As such, they did not feed their flock and prefered to use their time for other purposes. Pope Francis's manipulations have forced these bishops to realize they can't necessarily rely on the Pope the be the Pope. Even Peter ran from the Crucifixion, leaving St John alone at the foot of the cross. Our bishops have to choose sides now....runaway with Peter, or stay with Jesus and Mary. There are no other choices.

I also see providence in Pope Francis' election coming after Pope Benedict XVI's election. For the most part, the Pope's of our century have been outstanding and plain spoken. Granted, some have complaints about Pope Paul VI's responsibilities for the mess after Vatican II, but for the most part, these men have been solid. Pope Francis is a different animal. Pope Francis is not plain spoken...he speaks out of both sides of his mouth (as can be confirmed in his Synod Speak and how he leads contradictory groups to believe he is on their side), and he has no qualms about manipulating collegiality to make it appear that his predetermined conclusions are actually the mind of the Church. And he has no qualms telling people that he knows what's right and that any bishop that disagrees with him does not have the mind of Christ. We just don't see that language coming from any Pope this century....but it is the sort of language that did exist in the darker parts of Church history.

Ultimately, after Vatican II we have lost the Pope's reason for being. He's not there to invent new doctrines of approaches. He has only two tasks, feed his sheep (i.e. other bishops and members of his own diocese), and defend the deposit of faith, as embodied in the Magisterium. Whenever Pope strays from this mission the Chuch is wounded, either by being too worldly or too sure that "God will not destroy his own temple as judgement" (as the priest said to Jeremiah in Bible) so we have freedom to be "creative", or being one's personal whims implies "God wants to try new things".

Pope Francis is forcing the Church to rediscover Tradition.



David O'Neill said...

I have to agree totally Father but Pope Francis seems above all else naive. He says many things in the hearing of the media circus which are, frankly, better left unsaid. He MUST be an intelligent man & yet behaves to the contrary. My saying about the Holy Father is "Every time he opens his mouth, some fool speaks". I accept that this is rude & probably uncharitable but some of the things he says seem to be harming the Church.

Terry Nelson said...

Every priest I know in the States seems to be just as perplexed as you.

David C said...

I have to agree with Anil. I remember my great hope and excitement leading up to the 2013 conclave was the clear mandate the new Holy Father had to clean up corruption and deal with the gay lobby.

gemoftheocean said...

David, "naive" is very charitable. Every time you think he can't possibly do or say anything dumber, he proves you wrong. The "stunt" with renting out the Vatican has me absolutely floored how any pope could go along with that. "For the poor(tm)" will now be the excuse for any darn thing. Just like "IT's for the chilllll-drun."

Joe Potillor said...

Well, I don't necessarily think the Pope intends for his to happen...but the comments are dead on.

Thomas said...

I'm afraid I do not think that the current Pope is very intelligent. That is no barrier to sanctity, of course; nor necessarily to being Pope - St.Peter wasn't too bright either. But unfortunately he seems to be positively anti-intellectual. He sees himself as a "practical man" who is irritated by those who would reign in his schemes with all their theological language and airy fairy concerns. But he also seems to regard himself as a "man of the middle way", holding the fractious community together by warning against going to any extreme of "left" or "right", but meanwhile making no definitive judgements himself, although perhaps secretly hoping the outcome will be to his centre left liking. The trouble with that, as all politicians know is that the centre ground can be shifted by those who espouse radical views shouting very loudly. The one thing I do find interesting that he is doing is appointing lots of religious as bishops, perhaps in an effort to break up the magic circles and careerist structures. BTW I love your image of "the clothes that have no emperor" Fr. A literary master stroke!

philipjohnson said...

Fr.You are so right in your assessment of this deplorable state of affairs!The smoke of satan is in the church-as Pope Paul the 6th said-but it will be defeated by the truth.Thank God for the prelates who have spoken out against this infamous blasphemy of proposals ,which ,thankfully,were thrown out.If the internet was around at the time of the 2nd vatican council it would have been stopped in its tracks.Also ,not withstanding ,if the third secret of Fatima had been declared to the public in 1960 ,as it should have been ,then vatican 2 would have been averted.Fr thank you for such insightful comments.God bless .Philip Johnson.

Joao said...

"Does the pope intend this?"

Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. The level of "papolatry" was reaching pagan deity levels.

Sadie Vacantist said...

When B16 resigned, the see of Peter should have been declared sede vacante indefinitely until the natural death of the Pope emeritus. We could all do with an extended break. I consider the Church ungovernable at present and fail to see the point of the present papacy. There again, his predecessor was no less confusing: unsolicited interviews with journalists, book publishing, academic lectures; the faithful were never sure when he was or wasn’t speaking as Pope. Francis has followed a similarly confused line. Perhaps Francis should become a recluse like Benedict, as I say we could all do with an extended break ...

Sadie Vacantist said...

A footnote to events must surely be Cardinal Kasper dissing Africans to an Anglo-Saxon journalist. It was straight out of a Mel Brooks film. Vatican II is now a laughing stock.

George said...

"A priest friend of mine said, 'I have no problem with collegiality only with those who might exercise it'."

Our Faith is one that asks for concern over "Ways" rather than "Ends".

I've always told me trad friends and family that I'd rather be ruled by a liberal cleric than a like-minded, traditionalist lay-person. We are Catholics after all, aren't we?

Concern with the ENDS rather than the WAYS has always been the work of the Devil. It has led to the various Protestant flavors and every thinkable schism.

Englishmen most of all should know this. Anglo-saxon juris prudence is the shining lodestar of human justice. It's an organic development of Christendom. One not tampered with by Napoleon or his ilk. And it's all about the Ways over the Ends.

The words that come from the mouth of the Pope I may find enlightening or I may find amusing, but in the end they are God's business, not mine.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Confusion coming from the top is never a good sign. "Say, 'Yes' when you mean 'Yes' and 'No' when you mean 'No.' Anything beyond that is from the evil one." Matt 5:37

I know most of my friends want to believe the pope is good and holy, but are disturbed and unsettled by much of what he says and does. He seems to be taking very literally his advice to "make a mess." But the mess seems to be totally confusing the faithful in the pews.

Jacobi said...

“as if the Synod was solely about the divorced and remarried, or practicing homosexuals”.

Yes it’s supposed to be about the family, the married family, but the high-jacking was entirely predictable and foreseen. And I have no doubt that lobby (ies) will be at work in the mean time and back next year.


By the way, when do we get the finished and final version of the “Relatio” in English, official version, so we can see what the Successors of the Apostles have agreed to?

Lynda said...

The Pope has objectively opposed doctrines of the Faith and objective moral truths on countless occasions. He is very consistent in this. And he has not changed in this regard from before he was elected. What I can't understand is that there are still people who think that he upholds the Faith and the moral law but is being continually misrepresented, and that his appointing material heretics and promoters of intrinsic evils to powerful positions or removing orthodox ones is just chance, or that persecution of orthodox orders and priests, bishops, etc. is done by his servants without his knowledge or consent. No one could be so naive. It must be fear of being outcast by those now wielding the "power" in the Church. Pope Francis is causing unprecedented damage to souls and offence to God. Not to oppose his attacks on God and the Holy Faith is to offend God. Lord, have mercy. Blessed Michael, St John the Baptisf, all the martyrs pray for the Church, that we may once again be zealous lay, priests and bishops ready to be persecuted, ridiculed, or killed for our fidelity to Our Lord God. That we may receive the graces to emulate the martyrs of previous generations and of today, in the Middle East and other countries.

tigga wild said...

For me the idea that PF has so publicly supported Kasper is very serious. To refer to Kasper's stance, which denies so much of our beautiful irreversible teaching, as 'serene theology' is completely wrong. To have given him any platform at all is bad parenting of his flock which is everyone, not just Catholics.It is leading the vulnerable astray. Kasper's views are heretical and his mind has been darkened. He should not even be a PP let alone a Cardinal. For these reasons I have ditched my vain hope that PF was merely seeking to expose the rot. He could have done that without publicly backing K.

Lynda said...

The wisdom and understanding that comes with adherence to the Deposit of Faith. Fr Calmel OP: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.ie/2014/10/the-pope-is-just-vicar-on-footsteps-of.html?m=1

Joe Potillor said...

I disagree with Benedict XVI being confusing, quite the opposite, in his books he makes it clear that he's acting as a private theologian and one is free to disagree with him.

But I do agree that the see should have been left vacant.

JARay said...

Well now! People are waking up! Yes, this Pope is a disaster and has caused much harm to the Church by leading dissidents on, and failing to uphold the clear teachings of the Church. In particular by allowing the idea that those living in sin could partake of Holy Communion in clear contravention of the words of Jesus himself that those who eat and drink unworthily of his flesh and his blood, eat and drink judgement upon themselves. By even suggesting that this does not matter is the clear undermining of belief in the Real Presence.

George said...

I find the argument tediously simplistic that Pope Francis is leading people astray.

We look back on SJPII as a lion of moral orthodoxy. So what was the excuse then for cohabitation and homosexual behavior among "Catholics"?

Is there truly one person out there who was on the fence regarding starting an illicit sexual relationship but was only waiting for some moral equivocation from the pope? Then Katie bar the door.

I want a holy orthodox pope, like I want a holy orthodox parish priest. But God wills differently. One thing we can be assured of, He has given us the pope we deserve.

John Fisher said...

I see this Pope and Kaspar use the same strategies used at Vatican 11. Loaded committees, the use of ambiguity and misrepresentation. Pope Francis is behind this. I see his closing speech as the use of a strategy I have heard Kaspar use in a speech. The formula is to include something for everyone. To in parts sound like you agree with whatever angle or position hearer or reader has. The way our mind works is we focus on what resonated but block out or edit that which does not.
The synod and its battle is not over. We risk at the end having a document pushed onto us that pushes the agenda Francis wants. Their is something very Machiavellian going on and I had hoped we were over the worst but we are not.
Frnacis will start to make episcopal appointments that will sow the seed of more Modernism. He will be dead within 20 years as will Kaspar and those that caused the problems at the synod.
I so hope all off this is the Swan song of these men who love and have faith in the fallen world tailoring Christ and everything to their vices and appetites.
I wonder what will happen to Mueller. Pell and others who opposed Kaspar?

BJC said...

You are an 'e-Bishop' as are Fr. Tim and Fr. Z. At least we can communicate with you and get some sense out of you.

thomas tucker said...

Clothes with no Emperor. Interesting, as I have been thinking this Pope reminds me of the Peter Sellers character in Being There- a cipher that everyone can project their own hopes and ideas on.

Hoser said...

Words mean much. Francis leaves progressives thinking that they may have a ringer in the Papacy, or not? Is Francis cunning? Or is he wanting all sides to identify themselves so he knows then, who is whom and what side they are on. I just wish the mix messages would stop.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Reading Pat Buchanan's summary of the synod left me with a feeling of alarm. As did Vinnie's twee podcast from the "gardens of the VEC" for different reasons.

I am profoundly pessimistic about the future. I fear that this papacy is pushing the Church towards further expulsions and downsizing. The refusal to accept the model of "a smaller, purer Church" will not be without consequences.

Our future unity is now dependent on a changing geopolitical climate over which we have minimal to no influence or control. In short, our fate is not being decided by a synod of bishops but in White Houses, on trading floors and by four star generals.

Supertradmum said...

http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com/2014/10/disagreement.html

None of this is new. I, for one, am grateful to God for the clarification as to who is the Church wants to separate from Christ.

Liam Ronan said...

I usually try the Francis through Pope St. Pius X thing for purposes of discernment.

Lynda said...

I endorse your method, Liam - sure to bring lots of "clarity" to the issue!!