Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The House Falls and the Sensus Fidelium

I am sure there have been psycho popes in the past, as much as there have been a few heretical ones, as there have been downright wicked ones.

Quite recently there was quite a lot of talk on the web, not from serious media though, of ‘schism’. I suspect there was a feeling that somehow the “dubia cardinals” would rise up and by some strange legal act would create a new pope. There was also discussion of the invalidity of Pope Francis’ election that was pure nonsense. 

Pope’s theologically hold office by popular acclamation and acceptance by the Church of Rome and the bishops and clergy throughout the world, how they get there isn’t that important. 'Legality' doesn't quite enter into it, in the past armies have, as have bribery or imprisonment and torture of opposing Cardinals. Simple question: who do we pray for at Mass? Except for odd people it’s Jorge Bergoglio reigning as Pope Francis. There is no other Pope.

I am told that the old question Suarez and others raised about the deposition of a Pope has become a popular subject for doctoral study in certain Canon Law faculties. There was a conference on it in Paris recently.

I am not sure that the relationship of Church and pope works quite so cleanly, especially today. A proper understanding of the sensus fidelium gives a clue. “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice …… And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” It is not a formal act that separates the sheep from the stranger, it is simply they don’t hear him. In the same way that the people heard Jesus and didn’t hear the scribes and pharisees because “he spoke with authority”.  In the same way “one cannot pick figs from thorns”, and houses built on sand will fall and lamps hidden under tubs do not give light to the house, one can tell a tree by its fruit.

Schism does indeed have a legal definition but the main problem is that our churches, our seminaries, our convents are empty, people aren't marrying. Though people might turn out in vast numbers to see the spectacle of a pope in the streets of Bogata on a Brazilian beach in reality they simply don’t hear him. It is the same with bishops and priests: the sheep do not hear them or follow them.

This is what “schism” is really about in modern times, it is not sharp division of ecclesiastical institutions but lapsation, a refusal or inability to hear the Church’s leadership.  Like the scribes and Pharisees, separated from Christ, they have no authority. Speaking in their own voice they have nothing to say. In fact as we see today in surveys bishops are mistrusted even more than local priests, when they are true pastors they are effective and loved but so often they have merely an administrative role distinct from the word of God.

There has been a lot talk about the older form of the Mass and Orthodoxy attracting young people, I think this is true, or at least it produces vocations and committed Catholics but it is not necessarily something to celebrate, it appears to be attractive because the rest of the Church is failing.

Like older form of Mass, the older form catechesis, of preaching, or living as a priest or even being Church is all linked to the fons et culmen the Mass. Change the rites and the theological ground is changed, rock can easily become swamp or quicksand, and the house .... it falls.


Rick said...

Thank you, Fr. Ray, for posting this. It is the most profoundly liberating analysis of the situation in the Church that I have seen. I think this is Wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Anita Moore said...

I must admit to being somewhat confused. You (a) cite to the Gospel record of Jesus' declaration that the sheep do not listen to the voice of a stranger; (b) acknowledge that those who fill the office of shepherd do not have anything to say and are mistrusted; but (c) suggest that in our time, schism consists in the sheep not listening to the voices of those who fill the office of shepherd. Are the sheep in schism because they do not recognize the strange voices of their shepherds? Or isn't the problem that a great many of our shepherds are in fact strangers and hirelings, even though they have been legitimately raised to the office of shepherd?

philipjohnson said...

Fr.Once again a very good post.We are living the prophecy foretold by Our Blessed Mother at Fatima 1917.Things in the Church indeed look dire and hopeless at the moment with Bergoglio at full steam ahead.However he will hit a wall soon, and that wall will be The Truth, which is unchanging and eternal.He will fail ,and be seen to fail -but it won't be a pretty sight.Our Lady of Fatima pray foe us.

Michael Leahy said...

Reading in the beginning of this article about the four Cardinals and the dubia, it struck me that two of the four have recently died. Could this be a sign from God that He is in control and to leave it to Him to sort out?

Fr. VF said...

Impossible to locate any point in this essay. Self-contradictory.

The shepherds are worthless, but the sheep are blamewothy for not listening to them?

The TLM and sound catechesis are bearing much fruit but this regrettable?

JARay said...

Hmm...We have the bishops in Germany allowing Holy Communion to those in "irregular" marriages and next door we have the bishops in Poland completely forbidding such people from receiving Holy Communion. And yet again in Malta we have the bishops allowing the reception of Holy Communion to such people and telling seminarians that if they don't like that situation then the Seminary door is just waiting for them to open it. How can anyone not declare that there is a schism within the Church?
Who or what is the cause of this situation?
Surely any Catholic who is even half awake can point out the cause, or causes!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr VF,
I thought what I was saying was the sheep do not hear the voices of the hireling, they wander off, it is scriptural allusions which perhaps you find difficult.

Ben of the Bayou said...

Father Blake,

For what it's worth, I agree with your application of the parable,especially as you explained to it FrVF. I do admit, though, that I was not quite sure before about the application. One question, what about the application of Saint Paul's words to the Bishop Saint Timothy, that a time will come when men will not stand sound doctrine, but will abandon the true teachers in favor of those who will fill their ears (2 Tim 4:3)? What I mean is that it seems that, at some point, the sheep will not only wander away from the hirelings, but also from the true shepherds. What do you think?

Peace and all good,


JARay said...

You must by now be aware that quite a number of priests, some bishops and academics from various institutions around the world, have submitted a "fraternal correction" to Pope Francis calling on him to admit that there are at least 7 'potential' heresies in Amoris Laetitia and that he should correct these errors in accordance with the perennial teaching of the Church. This is to clarify the confusions which have arisen because of what he has said or, at least, implied. It is indeed most interesting that one of those bishops is +Bernard Fellay SSPX and he has indicated that his signature represents the whole of the SSPX followers. What now for a gentle re-alignment with the whole Church for the SSPX?! Another bishop who has rushed to add his signature to this document is Emeritus Bishop Rene Henry Gracida of the diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas. I regularly get emails from him since he blogs under Abyssus Abyssum Invocat Deep Calls unto Deep. I am particularly taken by him since he flew 32 missions over Germany in 1945 as a tail-gunner in a B17. Of course he was flying from England at that time. The tail-gunner was the one which the German Fighters tried to knock out...but God certainly spared him.

John Kearney said...

In the 70's and 80's thee was hostility within the ranks to people who tried to defend the Faith. A poor picture was painted by the reformers of the pe-vatican Church. Why Find now among people of about 40 or under is there inso longer that hostility around. They will listen to Catholic teaching and practices without prejudice. They are truly sheep without a shepherd and it just takes that figure of authority tomato them think. I think the idea that some priests have that in the present Church they must be careful in what they say, That era has gone. Priests cannot speak out with authority and reap a wonderful harvest.

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