Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Non-Changing Church? #2

A lot of people seem deeply worried by October's Synod, the Pope's call in Rio for the youth to make a lio, a mess, has been taken up by many. I was talking to a priest recently who said, 'I just can't see why we can't just do whatever the Holy Father wants'. That is one view going around, and for all its un-Catholicity it is probably the prevailing one, because although a lot of people might be worried, most are actually not.

During these two years of Francis' Papacy ideas that most of us considered dying have been revived and been argued over afresh in new ways. Cardinal Kasper's thesis which many in German speaking dioceses have quietly supported and even put into practice not only was it met with stony silence when presented to the Consistory of Cardinals, but it has been opposed in writing by first five Cardinals, then eleven and now by a number of African bishops who to represent the majority of African Cardinals and bishops.

I believe in St Vincent of Lerins' dictum that the Catholic Faith is that which is believed in 'always, everywhere and at all times'.  The great problem is that for the last 50 years or more, most Catholics have not believed in the Church's teaching, or just given it lip service, especially on the family aand sexuality.

What we have seen in recent times, most especially during Pope Francis's papacy is that all the poisons that lurk in the mud are hatching out, because the Catholic Church has actually not been Catholic, the stripping away of papal pomp has revealed a more than ambiguous papacy than we have been used to. We have pretended andtried to maintain an image of a great monolithic Church that does not exist.

One of my parishioners said that for the first time in his life he has started to ask, 'is the Pope a Catholic?' The real question should be, 'is the Catholic Church Catholic?' As the centre of communion the Pope reflects the Church, which is often confused and ambiguous, it contains Catholics as well as uber and unter Catholics. A good Irish friend of mine said of a bishop, 'In my day he wouldn't have been allowed to make his Holy Communion let alone be made a bishop'. The Catholic Church is not even in its hierarchical structure supposed to be like a secular monarchy or presidency, with the Pope at the top, below him 'his' bishops, 'their' clergy and then the laity, bishops are also successors of the Apostles and priests are not bishops servants but according to the rite of ordination, 'co-workers with the order of bishops'. The Church is a Communion, and we hold the faith together, there are tensions and different emphasises, different pastoral practices, different needs, different interests, 'together we form the body of Christ'. 'The faith' is given to us in baptism and held 'by all, everywhere and always', within the the Communion the bishops together with the Pope have a particular role in safeguarding the faith, and the Pope has a unique role as the bishop of Rome in recognising the authenticity of those in Communion with the Church of Rome, and therefore in Communion with the rest of the Church, throughout history it held the moderate position, the via media.

Bishop Schneider suggested that we should have a post-Vatican II set of anathemas issued by the Pope, somehow I think this is not going to happen, but the Synod will bring about some kind of agreement, some kind of statement of Catholic faith, I suspect afterwards the Pope will use often, 'they said', it will become a stock Papal phrase. Of course it will be a fudge, some will suggest it is not even Catholic, it will be an attempt to find a consensus. Most probably it will give to local bishops the duty of making particular 'pastoral' decisions, which will itself be considered divisive, it will actually be the starting point for further debate on what is meant by Catholic, but it will be the beginning of a long process to re-Catholicise the Church. It will be a painful process for many but Christ promises to be with his Church until the end of time.

In many ways we are in time of repairing the damage done to the Church after the Vatican Council, interpreted through the most extreme interpretations of the spirit of Vatican I, which is most clearly seen with Mgr Bugnini's Liturgical Consillium, the bishops in Council decided one thing and Rome, exceeding anything known in history, imposed something else on the Church.


Romulus said...

Father, did you mean to say "Vatican I"?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes, VI's 'spirit' gave the Pope (and Rome)) a role unenvisioned by Pastor Aeternus.

Jacobi said...


At a guess, I stress, about 20% of Catholics don't know who the Pope is, about 60% think he is nice because the Telly says it, 10% of liberal/Relativist think he going to give them what they want, and about 10 % are worried and not at all sure what he is up to.

Open effective heretical schism is already established in Germany. The Synod will determine just how far that will go in the Church in Germany, but it is irreversible.

Mark you about 25% of so-called Catholics would look at you blankly if muttered the words “Real Presence”, and them hurry away such is one of the total devastating consequences of Vat II .

As for secularists most simply couldn't care less. The ones that notice the Church would fall over laughing at our attempts to pretend to be like them, thinking the silly old faggots have seen the light at last, and then just get on with whatever, lets not go into details, they were up to.

Schneider was right, but as with the last Reformation, it will take a Pope or two yet.

And don't get dispirited Father. Take the advice of one who has been around a few year. The Liturgy will save the Church. Get back to the Gregorian Liturgy and things will come right in time - but it might be a very long time and there will be other grave dangers on the way.

I wish you younger thinking Catholics Godspede!

Fr John Speekman said...

"In many ways we are in time of repairing the damage done to the Church after the Vatican Council..."

Yes, Fr Ray, I like that line. What we see here as confusion (as in the cleansing of the Temple by Jesus) is really the truth painfully reasserting itself.

nickbris said...

" Is the Pope a Catholic" the question posed by one of our parishioners was an old Jewish comedian's joke. It now comes out almost daily just like "do bears **** in the woods"

JARay said...

I do so hope that you are right Father! I like your reasoning.

Paul Hellyer said...

You are right. It is the liturgy that counts. If we could just make a small start like the abolition of Holy Communion in the hand or get the priest to face the other way. You know towards God. . .It would be a start . . .

GOR said...

Throughout the history of the Church I suspect many of the faithful throughout the known world were scarcely aware that a Pope existed or a Council had taken place. Yes, the Pope would have been prayed for at Mass and the more knowledgeable pastors might mention a Council had taken place and issues were addressed. But it would have all been very remote to the ‘ordinary Joe or Jane’.

Yet Joe and Jane would have worked out their salvation regardless, strong in the Faith of the Fathers, telling their beads, attending Mass and other devotional exercises. The emphasis on the person and activities of the Pope or others in the hierarchy can be a distraction from our personal obligations of Faith. We don’t get our Faith from the Pope or any other human being, but from God.

Whether they are good or bad won’t be an issue when we leave this life – but how we lived the Faith. They - and we - will pass, but our Faith must endure if we are to be saved – and that is personal to each of us.

Adrian said...

S Vincent of Lerins's dictum is "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus [creditum est]" - "always, everywhere and by everybody."

Fred Brown said...

We know that this particular crisis of faith (ref. Cardinal Sarah) was caused by the type of characters that today loiter in sacristies all over Germany. But they can do no more than cause a crisis, they cannot damage the faith itself - The Catholic faith is a revealed religion. Crises of faith can be overcome, as we can see from the history of the Church. The problem therefore is not uber and unter it is a matter between truth and falsehood.

Frank Karwatowicz said...

" We don’t get our Faith from the Pope or any other human being, but from God."
So true but brings to mind John Henry Newman's saying (I am paraphrasing) that the aim of most conscientious people is not to please God but rather to please themselves without displeasing God.

Jacobi said...


My observation is that this whole immediate crisis in the Church is caused by the protestant concept that the Real Presence does not exist, and we all have a "Right" to just toddle along, receive the bread and watered wine, be seen to be doing so, and smile at our pals on the way back..

Only the so-called Traditional liturgy types understand this, and it is the Gregorian Liturgy that will re-establish the Church.

But when??????