Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cardinals Mud Wrestling




I try to avoid criticism of Popes, some Catholics would find excuses for Alexander VI, once that string of mules had left the Lateran and the silver they had carried had been distributed to the Cardinal electors, and the tiara was placed upon the Borgia brow. Even the Popes of the Pornocracy could be excused - troubled childhoods. Pius XII employing Bugnini - care for the unemployable.

The Church is rough inside - serenity is a fiction. Bishop Barron before his elevation spoke of the Synod as being like the contents of sausage, though you might want to eat it you don't want to know what goes into it. Nevertheless the Holy Father has called for 'parrhesia' and already there has been a lot of that around, whoever thought they would see Cardinals mud wrestling or publicly denouncing journalists for lying about racist comments only to have a video published that revealed the journo to be correct and the Cardinal revealed as a liar or Archbishops fictionalising paragraphs in the a Synod Relatio.

I fear the approaching Synod. I'm not sure what will emerge, something unpleasant most probably. I am not sure if human inefficiency or Pope Francis or the Holy Spirit is behind the mess but there seem to be numerous agendas and it isn't just the obvious things that most commentators have picked up on.

1) The role of the Pope: After Benedict's resignation it has been impossible for any serious Catholic to continue thinking of the Papacy in the same way we have for the past 150 years. Though we might have denied it, I think many Catholics thought of the Pope in semi-divine terms, at least in a terms 'office' rather than fallible human being with strengths and failings. I think I would have denied the Pope was merely a part of a faction, but that becomes increasingly difficult as one sees many of Francis' of nominees for the Synod - Cardinal Daneels? Yet though the Pope speaks of decentralisation and synodality this is imposed by the most monarchical papacy ever. I am sure that after this Papacy, even Francis collaborators will be looking for a completely different style, away from the idea of the Church as the Papal fiefdom, or as the Pope being its President, collegiality demands better.
2) One of the things that was very important in Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech was the idea of Christianity being based on Greco-Roman thought. The New Testament and the ancient Fathers are after all, full of Aristotelian philosophy and ideas and this has dominated Western theology up until the 19th century. Although Hegelian ideas are there within the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the notion of 'subsists', for instance, when describing the Catholic Church, they are easily overlooked. The Synod in many ways seems to be a battle between Germany and the rest of the World. Vatican II's call to return to the Scripture and the Fathers is being extended by Cardinal Kasper and his allies to include the thought of those 19th century German school philosophers who have been so influential on them.
3) In many ways, it is the 'hermeneutic of continuity' versus 'the hermeneutic of rupture' is at the very forefront of what some Italian journalists are referring to as "adapters" and "upholders". The big question is: is the Church recreated in each new age? Are we free to turn out back on the thought of previous generations? Can we remake history at the stroke of a pen or as part the action of a Synod? In the past, change was organic, from the bottom up. Now, change is from the top down, the whim of a Pontiff or the whim of a Council or the whim of a Synod. It's the entry of a new reality for the Church - a reality where everything is "relative".
4) 'Adapters' and 'upholders' have been very much the feature of contemporary Protestantism and Anglicanism and the adapters have won. One of things I admire (is that the right word) Francis for is admitting that this is and has been part of Catholicism since at least the Enlightenment, St Pius X tried to crush it but in fact drove it underground, it seems as if the Synod will be the first round in a battle in which side or the other will eventually triumph, or 'adapters' and 'upholder' will learn to compromise. 
5) I have before suggested that one of my concerns is the relationship of the Church to God that will be played out at the Synod, who is the dominant partner - is it scripture and the Word of God or is it human experiernce?

25 comments:

Anil Wang said...

A few things. WRT being a part of Catholicism since at least the Enlightenment, I think this is overstated. Yes, it was part of Catholicism but it was always a fringe idea confined to academia. As long as it stays in academia, there's no problem with scholars bordering on heresy in their speculations. That's what scholars do....Even Pope Benedict XVI disavowed some of his earlier scholarly work. But pre-Vatican II, if you'd go to the average Catholic or average Priest or Bishop, and ask about most doctrines, you'd get pretty much the same answer that a pre-Reformation Catholic would give.

What happened in the 1960s was something entirely different. We can go through all the reasons (the 1960s unrealistic euphoria, the sexual revolution, the collapse of Protestants on contraception, the Catholic universities rebellion lead by Notra Dame, the Nun's rebellion, remorse over the persecution of the Jews and a desire for "never again", Catholics in the US being tired of being ghettoised, the prominence of the US during the 1960s, Protestant Envy, globalization and the power of the new media, etc). But when all is said and done, none of this should have mattered if Pope Paul VI and (to a lesser extent) Pope John Paul II had not placed people on the fringe in charge of directing people of orthodoxy and using their new found power to crush them. We got scared to use the vocabulary of "anathema sit" and the average orthodox priest was forced by pressure from above and pressure from their peers and pressures from society to "get with the program". It was a repeat of the English Reformation when nearly all priests under similar pressure caved and tried to be as orthodox as they could "given the circumstances".

Despite his many personal flaws, Pope Francis's statements are mostly orthodox and in some cases more Traditional than even Pope Benedict XVI (e.g. repeated references to the Devil, which academically trained Pope Benedict XVI tended to avoid). Unfortunately, Pope Francis has repeated the mistake of putting the foxes in charge of the hen house and letting them ravage the coup. For this there is no excuse and unfortunately the damage will remain for decades, even if Pope Francis retired today, a new hard traditionalist Pope is elected, and puts his full effort into repairing the damage.

Also, while it is true that the 'adapters' and 'upholders' fight of contemporary Protestantism and Anglicanism, they were also a part of Reformation Protestantism. It's a core tenet of Protestantism to be an adapter. The adapters of one generation eventually become the 'upholders' of the next. Reformation Protestantism is very different from the Protestantism of the 1800s, which in turn is very different from the Protestantism of the 1900s, which in turn is very different from the Protestantism of the 2000s. I don't care which denomination you're referring to, you will observe this with a bit of research.

But Catholicism is different. Given that Catholicism is about eternal truths, if any one of these "eternal truths" needs to "change with the times", Catholicism itself is refuted at its core and all the Pope's Bishops and all the Pope's Priests cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again. No doctrine, Tradition, Sacrament, or Scripture is safe from the hermeneutic of scepticism and we might as well subscribe to "Mere Christianity".

We may very well get a "compromise" between the adapters and upholders to put these issues on the back burner and focus on "the big picture", as was done during the Humanae Vitae rebellion. But it won't eliminate the conflict. It'll only drive it underground where it will fester and spring up more violently in the future.

philipjohnson said...

Fr.I am at my wits end now!This synod -led by francis who has devalued marriage already-is leading to an heretical outcome.Only Jesus Christ Our Lord and his blessed mothers intervention will save us from this apostasy.god bless.

Joao said...

Everybody knows that the Pope is the head of the "adapters" (Wink wink nudge nudge) faction. It's just that no one wants to be the first to say it out loud. It's like the emperor's new clothes.

Lepanto said...

Wrestling is a good analogy as there are clear attempts to 'fix' the outcome and the ref. appears to be in on the 'fixing' (see Rorate Caeli and the selective exclusion of the traditionally minded bishops).

Highland Cathedral said...

“The Synod in many ways seems to be a battle between Germany and the rest of the World.” Well, that’s a relief. Every time Germany takes on the rest of the world it gets clobbered. And is it significant that once again the Germans have found collaborators among the French. But we know what happened to them.

Lepanto said...

@Highland Cathedral. An historical point - the collaborators among French, for the most part, did not suffer at all, many (of the most influential) were too valuable to the post-war struggling Provisional Government to be sacrificed. Indeed many innocents suffered as the real collaborators sought to defame those who had tried to resist and who would have been able to identify the real traitors. The communists cooperated with the Germans whilst the Russo-German treaty existed and then covered their treason up by ensuring that those Communists who had defied Stalin in that period were 'dealt with'. I recommend 'Paris After the Liberation' by Antony Beevor for the whole, sordid, complicated story.

gemoftheocean said...

All I can say is: This pope frightens me. He is the Obama of religion.

nickbris said...

Yes, go ahead Karen and get the Donald in to run UNHCR

Jacobi said...

I am not happy criticising a Pope. My "defence mechanism" is to distinguish between his Papal and non Papal capacity.

For his own reasons, our Pope is all things to all men including to Kasper who represents Relativism, classifiable within the "ultimate heresy" of Pius X.

I simply do not understand what he is up to, and it is my Catholic duty before the Risen Christ, to say so.

I cannot see any thing other than further heretical schism coming from the second Synod.

The mess, which the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ on this Earth, has been allowed to get into, will be worse.

Sixupman said...

If asked to deny that which the clergy of my distant youth taught me, I will not! Wherever that leads me.

Cosmos said...

Gemoftheocean, that's where I am. Both are "reality TV" personalities, prized more for their personalities and media appeal than substance.

Obama is the first President that is completely detached from that older America that lived through the depression and fought in WWII.

Francis is the first Pope that was formed as a priest after VII.

Neither live in continuity with the past. They are both taking us into unchartered waters.

nickbris said...

His Holiness may well be in "unchartered waters" but he is our leader and we are here to obey; we may not like it but we have to lump it or join the followers of Martin Luther.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Nickbris'
We are not the Pope's slaves!
We also have the faith, we are called to do so in Communion with him, as the Bishop of Rome, not as a politician manipulating the Synod behind the scenes or appointing incompetents. The Pope like any other Christian, perhaps more so, is bound by Christ's teaching and by the Magisterium of his predecessors. He is the 'centre of unity' therefore he must be in that unity himself.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I don't accept the German conspiracy theory. It has been a satellite of the USA since 1945 and its importance overestimated. Why not revisit Voltaire at his best? Of whom are we afraid to speak and where are they hosted? The older Cardinals don't get it nor does the Pope. F1 has spent his entire life reading history written by the winners. After B16's resignation, the see of Peter should have been declared sede vacante indefinitely. The Church needs to accept that it is ungovernable.

Genty said...

I'm not sure we are here to obey the Pope. Rather, we are here to obey and promulgate Christ's teaching. If a pope goes off on one, so be it. But we're not enjoined to follow wherever he leads. He's supposed to be Christ's Vicar on earth and guardian of the faith, not a contradiction to it.

Nicolas Bellord said...

In the last paragraph of the official report of the Shadow Synod there is an admission that the German, Swiss and French Bishops' Conferences are on the verge of schism if they carry on with the KasperKampf. That is the worst that can happen. Orthodoxy will be maintained by an overwhelming majority of the participants at the Synod. Perhaps the Pope can be seen as giving some enough rope to hang themselves.

Deacon Augustine said...

Nicolas, I believe the Pope has already given himself enough rope by which to be hung. These Motu proprio on annulments overturn the doctrine known as "ex opere operato" i.e. the validity of a sacrament does not depend upon the worthiness or the faith of the minister - his intention to do what the Church does is sufficient for sacramental validity.

Now we have the Pope legislating (I would contest ultra vires legislating) that "lack of faith" on the part of one or both ministers of the sacrament of marriage is sufficient reason for them to be shunted down the "quickie annulment" route. According to the head of the commission which drafted these Motu proprios, this was done by the Pope specifically with the intention of producing a flood of annulments which he believes to be Christ's will and the work of the Holy Ghost.

Once this principle of "lack of faith" is asserted as grounds for invalidity of a sacrament, effectively the reliability of the whole sacramental economy is destroyed. Who was your priest ordained by? Can you be sure that the bishop who ordained him had sufficient faith to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders validly? If he didn't, then what about all the Masses, Confessions, Baptisms, Anointings that your priest has celebrated? Are they all now in doubt too?

This Pope has done the work of Satan - he has been an admirable servant for him. What greater triumph could Satan ask for than to have the validity and efficacy of all the Church's sacraments cast in doubt?

No, enough, its time for him to go and all his acts abrogated and made null. Lord save us!

Michael Ortiz said...

Ungovernable? Garbage. Most accepted the new translation of the Mass. Given a Pope with a will of steel, the vast majority would stay put, and if not obedient, prelates can be replaced with younger, orthodox men.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Michael Ortiz

We've been reading these fantasies for ten years and nothing has changed. Leaving the see of Peter vacant is no more than we deserve. Electing a 77 year old who had finished 2nd in the previous conclave suggests an organisation bereft of faith at every level.

Independent said...

Can guidance not be sought from Newman's Letter to the Duke of NorfolK?

Thomas said...

There are many genuine causes of concern in this pontificate, but saying that:"Electing a 77 year old who had finished 2nd in the previous conclave suggests an organisation bereft of faith at every level." (@Sadie Vacantist) is more than a little silly. There are dozens of men in the Church's history who were older when they became Pope, and many who would have been recipients of substantial votes in consistories prior to their eventual election. It isn't a political election where "coming second", or indeed first, is a mark of man's personal success or standing before God and the world. It is one of the reasons we are not supposed to know the details of the ballots, but even if we do it means nothing. Let's stick to real issues.

Francis said...

"Once this principle of 'lack of faith' is asserted as grounds for invalidity of a sacrament, effectively the reliability of the whole sacramental economy is destroyed. Who was your priest ordained by?"

OK, but I thought that in the sacrament of matrimony, the couple administer the sacrament to one another. The priest or deacon officiates but does not confer. Have I got this right?

William Tighe said...

"OK, but I thought that in the sacrament of matrimony, the couple administer the sacrament to one another. The priest or deacon officiates but does not confer. Have I got this right?"

In the Latin Church, yes, but not in the Eastern churches (Catholic as well as Orthodox) where the priest (or bishop) is the minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Thomas said...

"OK, but I thought that in the sacrament of matrimony, the couple administer the sacrament to one another. The priest or deacon officiates but does not confer."

But I have always understood that the quality of the minister's faith or lack of it does not affect the sacrament, as long as they intend to do what the Church understands and intends the sacrament to be. As as long as a couple intend to get married as a life-long union and are open to having children, then its a valid marriage. Having a strong faith is surely going to be important for living out a Christian marriage and staying faithful to each other, but once you get into trying to assess how or how deep someone's faith is, how can there be any objective measure or benchmark on which to form a clear judgement about something as basic and important as the validity of their marriage bond? If "lack of faith" is to be grounds for annulment, surely priests should refuse to marry all but the super holy!

geneticallycatholic said...

Regarding the Synod, …orthodox cardinals and bishops have responded to the instrumentum laboris. How wonderful!

http://abyssum.org/2015/09/29/on-the-eve-of-the-synod-of-bishops-a-devastating-critique-of-the-instrumentum-laboris/