Friday, May 23, 2014

Bavaria and Buenos Aires

I have never been to Bavaria but I have an image in my my mind of geraniums, summer sunshine, a certain tweeness, perhaps even an umpa band in the distance, even the occasional pair of lederhosen but my general impression is one of quiet ordered efficiency, of social cohesion but with a deep respect for history, perhaps because there is memory of how truly ghastly things can be if history is forgotten.

I have never been to Buenos Aires either but my imagination it is one of a dynamic forward looking city, full of bustle and noise,but with a sense of the need for motion, and even if the traffic stops in chaos the noise gives the impression that something is happening. I imagine there is a real contrast in Buenos Aires of a real contrast between rich and poor. There is little sense of the past, in part because it was so horrible. It is a society that need strong men because there is a sense that without them disorder and lawlessness will reign. This is a direct contrast to my image of Bavaria, where strong men are feared because they bring about disaster.
These images are behind my understanding of contrast in the Ratzinger and Bergoglio papacies. 
Perhaps it is best illustrated by the different responses to LCWR and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the former initiated under Benedict and the latter under Francis. 
The action against the LCWR has been one of ongoing dialogue, a clear statement of the problems, a firm but patient determination on the part of the Vatican to draw the American religious back into the life of the Church, even if the sisters flail around refusing to dialogue the Holy See still continues making its requests, gently increasing pressure on them, whilst ast the same time leaving them, the Leadership Conference free to do what it wants, whilst the vast majority of American women religious are completely unaffected.

The way in which the Franciscans of the Immaculate are being dealt with is in complete contrast, the Vatican Commissar has taken complete control over every aspect of the lives of individuals from novices to the founder. No one actually seems to know quite what the problem is, there are no clear complaints, except for 'tendencies' which frankly could mean anything. Their problems after all these months seem to be 'thought crimes'. In contrast to Fr Volpi's declining Capuchins or the LCWR the FFI's were growing, were young, were faithful. Now the same terror is being applied to their female branch, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. 

The LCWR have 'moved beyond Jesus', the FFI seem just be marginally a little too trad , yet the velvet Benedictine glove is applied to the former and the iron fist of Francis to the latter. The way in which the LCWR is being dealt with promotes growth and inclusion whereas the way Fr Volpi is dealing with the FFIs seems destructive and violent. Whilst Francis continues to grow in popularity in the secular media I detect growing fears amongst many that the hand on the tiller of the bark of Peter is just too firm, too South American, with too much determination for change for the sake of change. Far from a papacy that is small poor and humble Francis' is as big as any of the past. 

There seem to be too many of those qualities of the renaissance prince popes who tore down so much of the Rome of their predecessors to rebuild it in their own image and according to what they considered something new and up to date. But Francis is not seeking to rebuild in stone but something which goes much deeper and rather than merely touching on his own diocese will affect how every Catholic understands their faith. Few people would think that Cardinal Kasper's speech to the Consistory and what he has said subsequently, - he was the lone speaker chosen by the Pope - expressed anything other than Pope Francis' personal thought, nor that the invitation to discuss without 'taboos' marriage, homosexual unions, the future of celibacy of his appointee as President of the Italian Bishops Conference were anything other than an expression of Pope's own thoughts.

There was a comment on Fr Hugh's blog by Macunius that has been nagging away at me.
A red-walled room filled with crucifixes, statues of Jesus, and candlesFather, I have a distinct feeling that in these rather bitter personal attacks on characters who really don’t exist except in his imagination or memory, Papa Bergoglio is referring back to aspects of middle-class Argentina in the peronist postwar period. The rooms curtained against the summer sun, the whispered prayers, the family pressures, the overwhelming almost airless atmosphere of personal sin. Rather like scenes from a film.
There is some autobiography here that we can only half-glimpse, some personal complex. We’ve already seen it in his strangely mocking remarks about those who offered him a spiritual bouquet, and his rather strange view of the Traditional form of the Rite as the ‘personal taste’ of a small clique – which of course it is not.
Perhaps he needs to set up the ‘clericalist church’ bogeyman to defend the change of heart (and lurch towards the left) that he made (or felt forced to make) in the 1980s after the (according to his early friends) extremely conservative and orthodox provincial was demoted and exiled by the Jesuit order, and left to ‘reflect’ – ie to fall into line with the new revolutionary clerical politics reacting against the changing landscape of military dictatorship in Buenos Aires.
Not a coincidence, surely, that his spokesman Cardinal Maradiaga recently (April 8th, at the meeting of Franciscan provincials in Florida) asserted that Francis “feels called to construct” a church “free from all mundane spirituality” and “free from the risk of being concerned about itself, of becoming middle-class, of closing in on self, of being a clerical church.” For like Maradiaga (though perhaps not as openly) has the Holy Father perhaps rather a complex about the middle classes and their desire for social and ideological order? a complex about not being one of them, feeling snubbed and attacked by them, needing to defeat them to survive…it’s a very Latin American thing.
But if it has potential liturgical, theological and pastoral consequences for the Universal Church, then Houston, we definitely have a problem.
I think it is significant that in the Ratzinger papacy we heard a great deal about his family life and his evident delight in his brothers company in contrast Bergoglio seems to have had family life which dwelt in 'rooms curtained against the summer sun'. Benedict often spoke about the 'family' of the Apostolic Camera, whereas Francis enjoys the constantly changing community of Santa Marta and has spoken of his 'psychological need' for it.


EuropeanCatholic said...


I agree with your words which I quote below: It worries me and saddens me that I believe these are the Pope's own thoughts.

"Few people would think that Cardinal Kasper's speech to the Consistory and what he has said subsequently, - he was the lone speaker chosen by the Pope - expressed anything other than Pope Francis' personal thought, nor that the invitation to discuss without 'taboos' marriage, homosexual unions, the future of celibacy of his appointee as President of the Italian Bishops Conference were anything other than an expression of Pope's own thoughts.

There is so much that I like about Francis. I really liked his speech to the Italian Bishops a few days. I will read and re-read it. But then I remember the above words. And it almost seems as if there is no certainty anymore from Rome. I do wonder about what the other Cardinals think, especially those whose elected Francis. For all the talk of collegiality and his emphais on being Bishop of Rome, he rules as the Supreme Pontiff in his actions.

I miss Benedict very much.

TLMWx said...

There could be a myriad of reasons to explain what we have witnessed and I think the reasons are irrelevant. Jesus Christ gives us the key to unlock the meaning and spirit of what is taking place - "by their fruits you shall know them".

J said...

Your post hits the target. And Macunius´s paragraph is perfectly accurate.
Pope Francis is fighting ghost that probably his generation here in Argentina knew well in the 50s, early 60s (maybe the same in Italy and Spain), but are all long ago dead.
Its like a generational thing: fear of bitter nuns, sourpusses...
And he thinks (maybe bona fide) that traditional catholics are that. He just doesn´t know different. Its his forma mentis. Or I prefer to think that.

We never saw one of that sourpusses. All we have seen are silly smiles, nonsense chants in this back to 70s Latin-American environment. I have a nostalgia for something we just have in a brief glimpse when Pope Benedict XVI opened the windows to Tradition. With just that, he converted me and my family.

I see the pictures of your Parish, and let me say that i really envy your flock. TLM are quite clandestine here, and the general clerical atmosphere is unbreathable. And it has been like that for so many years of bad jesuitism. In a way is the same pharisaical cruelty in a different form. Hippy smiling form.

So, fight hard to preserve our liturgical, cultural catholic treasure, endure the time being, and be part of the lead to the restoration of the Faith.
Your blog is just wonderful.
And this generation in command now, will pass too.

Jane said...

Pope Francis, for whatever biographical and psychological reasons, is a revolutionary. The barque of Peter needs, for the duration of this papacy, urgent and persistent prayer. Let`s get on with it, PLEASE.

M. Prodigal said...

We constantly get mixed messages from the Vatican. There are bishops and cardinals saying essentially heretical things and they seemed to be approved of. Humanly speaking, I cannot understand the persecution of the faithful Franciscans of the Immaculate who have been and are faithful and truly lived holy consecrated lives. I do know that the devil hates them...

M. Prodigal said...

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate:

Sadie Vacantist said...

It's not obvious that this papacy can be defined by its ethnicity not least because Bergolio is an immigrant. Presumably he never felt fully Argentinian as a child as he spoke Italian in the home. I really don't know what to make of him? Italian emmigrants have a long history of struggling to integrate into their adopted homes especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries where they were subject to prejudice. I imagine the South American experience is different again. Perhaps he is a complicated man and his strange résumé indicates an untidy, confusing and even confused mindset. Heck, it takes all sorts.

Anonymous said...

The most distressing thing for me in my limited knowledge of the situation with the FFIs, is that my knowledge is still limited! Still I have no real idea of what it is that they have done wrong. The only thing that is clear is that a type of factionalism has riven the brethren in twain.

Is it a minority of anti-1962ers holding the rest to ransom? The friars' development along traditionalist lines is hardly unprecedented. And let's face it - all orders and congregations have moved on from their foundational status quo at least to some degree: all of them (save the Carthusians.

If not this, then what? And why can this small group of malcontents, as it seems to be, command Rome's attention so? None of it makes sense in the information available to plebs like me.


PS You must get to Bavaria. It's wonderful; the Bavarians are so different to Prussians, far more relaxed and convivial, and society still oozes Catholicism, at least culturally.

Liam Ronan said...


The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.

I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'.

And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'.

Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.


"...‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'...before reaching there the Holy Father...half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow..." I believe Antonio Socci had the text of the Third Secret translated by an expert in Portuguese and the word for 'afflicted' can be rendered 'humiliated'(humbled, as in no magazine covers this day).

Something about this papacy is eerie and raises the hairs in the back of my neck. I just don't know, but I am deeply troubled. Cling to the Rosary!

Liam Ronan said...

Just to clarify my earlier remark in respect of the Bishop in white and the Third Secret of Fatima, 'mortified'is an alternative rendering of the word as well as 'humiliated'.


Supertradmum said...

The dear nuns who are now taken over by some who may not love their way of life is truly upsetting to trads.

We can only pray. Remember, the Jesuits were suppressed because of the Masonic influences in Europe.

We all need to pray more.

As to Francis fighting in memories of Argentina, one cannot forget that all popes are human and this one is not the worst we have had. I do not think he will contradict Church teaching, as my faith tells me the Holy Spirit is in control, but trads can be in for a rough ride.

Matthew Roth said...

It's intriguing to me that our Holy Father seems to be making a self-relevant church even as he attempts to move away from one.

Lepanto said...

It's clear that he has a few 'chips on his shoulder' from his various comments about the types of Catholic, religious practices and attitudes that he dislikes. I think that the action against the FFI identifies fairly plainly (and was probably intended to) the particular type of Catholic, practices and attitudes that attract his disapproval. It would be interesting to understand the psychology behind this prejudice but would it help us combat its effects?

Sixupman said...

LifeSiteNews Friday 23rd. May 2014:

Franciscus Con-Celebrated Mass and pictured kissing hand of blatant pro-homosexual cleric - Fr. (Don) Michele Paolis.

What of clergy who, over the years, have manfully struggled to contain their inclinations? Are they now to be given the equivalent of a thumbs-up?

Charity to Fr. Paolis may be one thing, after all BXVI was charitable towards Hans Kung, but this is of a different order of magnitude.

Anonymous said...

More and worse persecution of the Faithful from those in powerful positions in the Church. The silence of those in authority or with public platforms grows more deafening and more culpable.

Православный физик said...

I agree with this post...on point.

John Nolan said...

In 2005 I was in a Bavarian village for the Blessed Sacrament procession on Whit Monday. Everyone, young and old, turned out (the police prevented cars from entering the village) and the traditional small flower-bedecked altars were put up outside houses. At the permanent shrines the procession was halted while Benediction was given with the monstrance. So far, so good.

However, at the preceding Mass the young Croatian priest surrounded himself at the altar with a bevy of adolescent girls; the boys were relegated to minor roles, carrying banners and so forth. I found this a bit disturbing.

Bavaria had its monasteries dissolved at the beginning of the 19th century; monastery buildings often built in the previous hundred years were destroyed, although the churches were usually retained as parish churches. The impact of the dissolution on the economic life of the localities was catastrophic, as it must have been in Henrician England.

I went to Sunday Mass in the stupendous cathedral of Regensburg (Ratisbon). It was packed and the music was superb (polyphonic Ordinary and Propers sung by a detached schola) but the liturgy, celebrated at the forward 'Volksaltar' was basically a said mass in German with a bit of incense thrown in. Disappointing.

JARay said...

I do miss Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
No ambiguity there!

Archangelus said...

Thank You from Bavaria!!

Juergen said...

Thank you for that posting.
Greetings from Padeborn/Germany

Clare A said...

Agree with a previous poster - you MUST one day visit Bavaria. It's simply gorgeous!

There are lots of monasteries to visit, including Andechs, which has a brewery and Ettal.

I've been to Bavaria twice, once on an organised Pilgrimage, once on a family holiday. It's a place of contrasts - wonderful mountains, King Ludwig's castles, and lush plains, neat fields and pastures, which is the kind of landscape around Pope Benedict's birthplace. Plus, the food and beer is memorable.

Fr. VF said...

Here in America, we have Cardinals Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan, Sean O'Malley, and Francis George, and Archbishops Gomez and Chaput--and many, many more--who insist that their priests give Communion to publicly pro-abortion Catholics.

There's just one problem with that: It's a mortal sin.

This has not attracted the attention of Pope Francis. Think about that: Most bishops in America and England--and elsewhere--are pressuring, even forcing, their priests to commit public mortal sin, and this has not attracted the attention of the Pope.

James Oakes said...

Excellent as usual, Fr. Blake, but there's a nit I have to pick about your imagined Buenos Aires:

There is little sense of the past, in part because it was so horrible

On the contrary, the Argentine past was way, way better than the present. In 1913, Argentine GDP per capita was the tenth highest in the world, ahead of France, Italy, Russia and Spain. Wages were twenty percent higher than in Paris in the early 1910s. Argentina led the world in export per person from 1913 to 1929.

In 1936, the year Pope Francis was born, it was still the twelfth highest per capita GDP in the world, fully 72% of the British per capita GDP of that year.

Argentina still has the remains of that prosperity. The city center of Buenos Aires and adjoining areas look like Paris of the belle époque. . . after fifty years without maintenance.

Presumably he never felt fully Argentinian as a child as he spoke Italian in the home.

In 1930, a few years before Pope Francis was born, between a quarter and a third of Argentines were foreign-born, mostly Italians. In the capital, where Bergoglio was born, natives were in the minority. A good chunk of Argentines speak Italian at home to this day.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Jose Ferreira is right about the economic history of Argentina but the earlier history in the 19th century was pretty horribly bloody with the likes of General Rosas.

Anonymous said...

Good post.

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