Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Synod of Mistrust

Very different kind of Pope Francis comforts a child last week AP

I had a long conversation with a priest friend who told me his former boss now acts as a spiritual director amongst the Roman diocesan clergy and is deeply worried about their low morale. I can well imagine that those Sta Martha sermons, which have been published in a huge volume, tend to be critical and finger pointing rather than up building, even in their modified Vatican Radio form.

 See full-sized image  Meanwhile, in a move reminiscent of Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui's tweet that Pope Benedict had cancer, Fr Lombardi has been forced to deny that Francis has a brain rumour. Reminders of mortality upset rulers and undermine their collaborators. Chaouqui's remark about Benedict seemed to be the first step in the winding down the Ratzinger Papacy, though Chaouqui herself still continues as an influential Vatican consultant under Francis.

Papacies are by nature short and limited and for all the Pope's discomfort with it he is a prisoner of the Vatican. He communicates to the world through others and hears about the world through others. For a Pope who has allowed himself to be allied to the German cause, its reported failure at the Synod is a failure for the Papacy of Francis.

What seems to have been at the heart of the Synod and its point of crisis is nothing to do with the issues on the table, nothing to do with family or homosexuals or communion, it is trust. Trust has broken down, no-one trusts the people who report the Synod's discussions. Fr Lombardi and his crew seem more about obfuscation than clarity. Fr Rosica, his English speaking side-kick, has become a twitter by-word for bullying and is seen as presenting of his own pro-gay agenda. Both are seen as presenting the 'spirit' of the Synod, not the Synod itself. In the same way most, if not all of  those who are entrusted with responsibility by the Pope, like Cardinal Baldissieri and Archbishop Forte and other papal appointees, are regarded either as being corrupt or part of the 'gay-lobby'. They are simply not trusted.

The great divide between the Germans and most of the rest of the Synod again underlines a break-down in trust, it is unfortunate that the Pope has allowed himself to be seen as allied to the German cause.

Cardinal-BaldisseriTo an observer, mistrust seems to be at the heart of the Synod. There is a great contrast between those of a 'liberal' perspective and those who oppose them. The trouble is that the 'liberals' are incredibly inarticulate, rather like poor old Cardinal Dew or Cardinal Wuerl or even our own Bishop Doyle, who has never struck me as being in the avant guard of revolutionary, or even contemporary, thought. What are they saying? The truth is no-one knows, which means they inspire and capture no-one's imagination, no-one will die for what they have to say, no-one will commit themselves to what they have to say, because ultimately they have nothing to say. It is merely vacuous prattle, which breeds confusion and becomes like the Holy Father's, which tend to be nagging rather than edifying.

Contrast these men with the voices that come from Africa, the growing, vital, faith-filled Churches, of which Cardinals Napier and Sarah are obvious examples, Like it not, they call people, including the Synod Fathers to something authentic, the voice of Christ. We've looked towards France and the Low Countries at the beginning of the 20th century and then towards Germany and then towards Latin America. Are we now going to look towards sub-Saharan Africa for a new and relevant way to understand our Faith.

 See full-sized image  I recently attended a diocesan seminar on 'Mercy'. It was remarkably good and three of our diocesan priests spoke. It's background - but not its source, was Cardinal Kasper's book on 'Mercy'. What struck me with my own reading of the book was that the Cardinal treats mercy as a phenomena. He calls it the 'key hermeneutic of God' and regards it as being the major attribute of God.  His weakness, I feel, is that he deals with it as a divine attribute, rather than the Incarnate Word of God.

The visceral or tender God glimpsed in the Old Testament is actually a Person, not a phenomena. It is Jesus Christ. We Christians are called not to have a relationship with a philosophical, or even a theological, idea but with a Person, we aspire to or think about a phenomena, we love a person and have a relationship with him.  This, I think, is a great weakness of Kasperism as opposed to the great Ratzingerian concept of a return to the Person of Jesus Christ. It is this Person of Jesus Christ of course that the African Bishops are actually pushing forward and that seems to be winning at the Synod - not an attribute or a phenomena, but a Person.  It is the Person of Jesus who saves.

In an age where people seem to be starved of relationships, perhaps the way forward for the Church is not to talk in terms of theological concepts, or of phenomena, but of the very Person of Jesus Christ, not even to speculate on what He might have said, but on what He actually said. This seems to be the dividing point in the Synod.  Those who stand for Christ are for those who stand for something appertaining to Christ.

In a Church where confusion and disorder and inexactitude and even chaos seem to be present, where leadership in recent years has had a history of being untrustworthy - for this seems to be the great problem with out bishops over recent years - and the Church is weakened and seems entirely without hope to many bishops and clergy, it is to the Person of Jesus that we must return to, which was the concept that Ratzinger based his papacy on. Christ is our only hope. there is no hope for us but Christ. This is what the African bishops and the powerful voices at the Synod seem to be saying. This is possibly not what observers see in Pope Francis. Francis articulates well the call to mercy, a call that is heard among the peripheries, but in the heart of the Church what people seem to be searching for is the Person of Jesus Christ, not a simple phenomena like mercy, but the Mercy of Jesus in His Incarnation and the power of His grace to transform.

Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan has said he would not be surprised to see an African pope in his lifetime.Confusion ('hagan lio') tends to destroy trust rather than build it up. Faith is dependent on trust. People believed the Apostles because they found them trustworthy witnesses. They were called not to have faith in the Apostles but Jesus Christ.

Is one of the problems of the Francis papacy that we are called to trust him, rather than his Master. Is one of the problems with the Francis papacy that will inevitably lead it to its doom, that he has surrounded himself with men who prove themselves to be untrustworthy. A dreadful truth is you can tell a man by his friends.

Will we be able trust the Papacy after it all?


Murray said...

Beautiful, Father Blake. This may be the best article of yours that I have read. The distinction you draw between the Kasperite/Bergoglian "mercy as phenomenon" and mercy as Person is profound and illuminating. God bless you.

David O'Neill said...

Your question about whether Pope Francis can or will be trusted is quite apposite as I have heard several priests (who hold & teach the Catholic Faith), query whether Francis is good for the Church. He appears not to accept his role as leader by down-playing the usual (& historic) appurtenances of the Vicar of Christ. I find it difficult to fathom what he is trying to prove by refusing to live in the papal apartments, refusing to clothe himself like the pope, drive around in a tiny car etc, etc. I wonder whether he is playing down the ROLE of the Pope. It is a little like the queen wanting to live in a council house or drive around in a Mini. I accept that clothes do not make the man but he must realise that he is throwing away the standing of the Pope as leader of the Catholic Church.

I ask whether he is naive in some of his pronouncements in the presence of the press - especially when speaking 'off the cuff' on his travels. Does he not realise that journalists hear what they want to hear & take quotations out of context.

Sadly this 'simplifying' his status seems to be encouraging the 'left wing Catholics' to feel able to argue in public about the tenets of the Faith whereas if he maintained his position this would not occur

Trisagion said...

It seems to me that you put your finger on the crux: the distinction between the liberal "systematic" approach and the classical "dogmatic" approach to theology. As a proponent of the former, Kasper is essential the inheritor of 19th century (originally Protestant) unbelief, whereas Ratzinger stands in a different tradition. The notion that you can construct a theology around an idea rather than a person is inherently problematic and isn't solved by proposing further attributes of God doesn't help much.

JARay said...

Once again I am happy to offer praise on you Father. Very well said!

Liam Ronan said...

Excellent, Father. Thank you.

Sadie Vacantist said...

This debate is cultural or political. Theology has become an irrelevance since the war. The problem began with the post-war settlements and the hegemonies which emerged from it. Germany is nothing more than an agent of the new order. There are still 50,000 American troops there. That country remains the dysfunctional partner in a shotgun wedding.

viterbo said...

Trust. I just moved recently to a town with a Catholic basilica that, a hundred and somthing years ago, wanted to make a Catholic statement...inside the confessionals are storage/trash cupboards. The main altar must have been smashed for scrap decades ago. There are empty plinths around the walls where statues of saints would once have stood. No candles because we all know we can't trust God not to burn down His Churches when He's out to lunch. There was one old side altar of Our Lady, and someone had left a devotional card to JPII there - the man who mocked God in the first commandment, mocked the Mass with pagan, Protestant, not mention topless ‘extraordinary ministers’; who wrote and promoted the diabolical ‘Theology of the body’ – a contradiction in terms; whose encyclicals preach humanism, religious indifference and standard modernist hypocrisy; who presided over decades of child abuse; who contrived the Balamand agreement; who created the ‘rock stadium “mass”‘; who spent millions placing his anti-pope slippers upon as much global soil to sell the counterfeit church as possible; who invited and invented liturgical dance; who mocked God and His Church with the Assisi evil; and who kissed a book of lies for all to see and wonder. Trust should never be given by the flock of Christ to 'manifestly prowling wolves'. St Bellarmine simply repeated the teachings of Holy Mother Church, when he wrote so.

Barbara Jensen said...

Thank you, dear Father Blake, for this insightful and incisive article. You have located the heart of what is wrong at the synod, and in this present papacy. People hunger for that personal intimacy with the living God, Jesus Christ, for which each of us is made and for which the Church exists to lead us. This synod is an embarrassment,and the trust being placed in the human representative of Christ (the pope) instead of in Christ Himself has reached the point of utter disillusionment this week. There can be no trust when duplicity and obvious intent to manipulate are so blatant. Let us look to Jesus at each moment as we suffer through this very hard time in the Church.

Steve Calovich said...

The Jesuits run every aspect of the Vatican including the "Gay Mafia" and their influence is global. They forced Benedict XVI to resign. It is incredibly naïve to think that the Jesuits will stop short of their goal to destroy the Church.

M. Prodigal said...

I have also had to do my best to focus on trust in Our Lord and Our Lady. I do NOT trust these so called advisers of the Pope nor do I trust the pope. In the end, I think he cannot promulgate heresy or his life will be required of him. But the confusion and the mess he has made is devastating. The heretics spew off with impunity; they are bold and proud and feel like the pope has their back and he does nothing to indicate otherwise. This pope is a modernist jesuit. He has done nothing to clean up the corruption nor the freemasons nor the sodomites in the vatican. Rather, he has given some known homosexuals certain offices. It is a bad deal! So I must try not to pay too close attention to the garbage from Rome but seek rather to console the Heart of Jesus.

Liam Ronan said...

You have asked, Father:

"Is one of the problems of the Francis papacy that we are called to trust him, rather than his Master."

I wonder if trusting Bergolio is indeed to trust his master, whomever that might be."

amfortas said...

Your comments are not that far away from those of Cardinal Marx who has talked of truth as a person we meet. That person, surely, is Jesus Christ.

Ray D said...

The internet summaries of the synod and subsequent postulating on the outcomes are driving me up a wall. One thing is unclear to me, or should I say, clear but wishing not to believe otherwise---the Pope's opening statement that all those present came to the synod in good conscience and open hearts, and, like himself, a true son of the Church. It's hard for me to reconcile primacy of conscience when it directly violates Church teaching on faith and morals. I do not believe that the Pope and many of the attendees are stupid, naive, willfully ignorant of the Faith, and incapable of understanding consequences. In fact, I strongly believe the opposite. Therefore, it must be that when they say something contrary to church teaching, they have made a willful choice. Why they do this I can only surmise that they no longer believe the words of the Nicene Creed, more or less. Every thought, word, and deed of the Synod becomes clear and fits together when non-belief is recognized as the underlying belief.

TLM said...

Excellent Fr., thank you! 'The dreadful truth is, you can tell a man by his friends''s what I have been saying throughout the entire Francis Papacy. Don't look to much of what he says, his words can be distorted and 'misinterpreted' all day long BUT... watch what HE DOES. He has surrounded himself with heretics. That to me anyway says it all.....if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.....usually that's what it is.

C. LaSalle said...

This is the first Pope in my lifetime where I end up more and more confused the more he speaks and I feel guilty about it. I have always thought that the Pope's responsibility was to clarify and teach the faithful our church's dogma. This Pope seems to enjoy it when people are off balance. Frankly I think enough Catholics have been off balance since Vatican II and that's why the pews are so empty. John Paul II never apologized for what our Church believes.

What bothers me even more is that my friends who are not Catholic love Pope Francis. This makes me incredibly nervous.

Larry said...

Well, as the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, we must try to understand that The Holy Spirit moves in odd ways, (his Wisdom to reveal) but we are allowed our favourites. Those in my lifetime, tend to be Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. What that says about those excluded, I'm not sure!
That said, if it is considered okay to live in a simple apartment and drive around in a Fiat or whatever, as a sign of modesty, surely it is alright to be carried in a litter, wearing the Triple-Crown, in order to pleasse the laity?