Thursday, March 14, 2013

What We Do (and don't) Know about Pope Francis

So day one of the papacy has come and gone, and everyone is parsing it.  Sounds like a lot of fun.  Let me try the same!

First, what do we know of his past?  According to the SSPX sympathizers at Rorate Caeli, "The application of Summorum Pontificum in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires has been non-existent."  Fr. Z and others debunked this almost immediately.  "New Catholic" (I suppose 9 years ago when he was first blogging this was appropriate, now I think its just dumb, but personal preference) then moved the goalposts back.  Okay, Pope Francis as a Cardinal did setup a Latin Mass within 48 hours of Summorum Pontificum.  However, the Mass was not celebrated as he liked it, ergo it was "non-existent."  Yet the moving goalposts aside, he presented information that is not going to make any traditionalist smile.

Now while I sound a bit flippant there, I don't want to be too hard on him.  It is obvious that the conclave did not go the way he wanted to.  Instead of doing something else, he did what anyone this age does, he went to social media to vent his frustrations.  In the course of that, he overstated his case a bit.  I don't think any traditionalist can say with a straight face that His Holiness as His Eminence was the kind of cardinal traditionalists dream about.  (Nope, our hearts are only with you, O Ranjith!)  Yet facts are facts.  He clearly stated something that wasn't true.  Combine that with something else he had an SSPX sympathizer write.  We must fear Pope Francis because "he has no Curial experience."  Belonging to the group that had such traditionalist luminaries as Cardinals Sodano and Bertone is an interesting criterion for we traditionalists to employ.  The author also stated that as a Cardinal His Holiness was weaksauce on gay marriage.  "New Catholic" had to walk that back in a later post, noting that his opposition to gay marriage, far from being weak, was "beautiful."

New Catholic probably should have hit the gym or an adoration chapel before posting.  He enraged a lot of Catholics (most of them traditionalists), had to spend the past 24 hours walking back what he wrote in haste, and now is on a recess for an indefinite time.  That's probably for the best.  Give him time to clear his head, and perhaps write with a bit more charity, but also clarity.

Dr. Taylor Marshall (a fine traditionalist is he) wants to write as much as he can about the Holy Father that is positive.  I hope to write in a balanced and truthful manner.  Fr. Z provides photos of The Holy Father's first Mass as Pope which ended the conclave.  As a traditionalist, there's no sense denying there are changes from Pope Benedict I don't like.  I don't like it going back to versus populum.  The Latin wasn't as crisp as it probably should be.  Honestly, I never liked the mass concelebrations in the Novus Ordo Mass, even when Benedict did them.  I don't think its bad mouthing the Pope to say I'm not a fan of that style, and I would prefer a style more in line with what Pope Benedict XVI did.  Then again, I could say that while I was okay with what Benedict did, I would've far rather preferred he celebrate Mass the way Pope Pius XII or St. Pius X did.  If I'm impossible to please, pray for the woman I'm marrying in under 3 months.  She will have to put up with me.

So while I wasn't too thrilled with the liturgy, his homily was borderline epic.  He stated a Church without Christ was little better than a "pitiful NGO", and that without Christ, there are priests, bishops, even popes, but not disciples.  He then rounded it out by stating he who didn't pray to God prayed to the devil, and hinted at shake ups coming.  Traditionalists might not like him, but if this is what he is about, we can talk turkey and do business with him.  I can't get too thrilled about the liturgy he celebrated.  But there's a lot to like in his homily that makes you want to see more.  Heck, see something!

And that was the whole point of yesterday.  It isn't that I don't share the concerns of the Rorate crowd, I do.  Yet if we end up ginning outrageous outrage over something that never happens, we look dumb.  We might even be guilty of scandal and leading people astray.  I go to Confession enough, and I doubt my confessor wants to listen to me constantly confessing rash judgement and causing scandal.  There are things in this pontificate I will not like, just as there were in the previous two of my life.  There will be times I would wish he does something different, and I'm certain I'll say that out loud here.  Yet in the end, traditionalists maybe make up 2% of the worlds Catholics on a generous day.  We can't even get everyone in our own parishes to do what we want (yes, even in our traditional parishes), so perhaps we should be focusing on something which is far easier for us to control and influence?  Look, either we are like the old "Neo-Catholics" who depend on the Pope's actions to breathe, or the beauty of tradition is that it is beyond any Pope, even one who does things which will at times moderately irritate you when you have to submit and be obedient about the manner.

In the meantime, there are still souls to save, and a gorgeous liturgy to promote.  So if you'll excuse me...


  1. All very well stated and thought out.

    Even if you assume the worst regarding the application of SP in his diocese, I say, "so what?" The cat is out of the bag on that one and it's definitely a youth movement. The new Pope doesn't assume his role without a history and further he has plenty of "Help" from above.

    Now is the time for focus and resolve to continue the march.


  2. As a traditionalist, there's no sense denying there are changes from Pope Benedict I don't like. I don't like it going back to versus populum.

    Well, that is what happens when personal preferences amongst the endless options dictate how the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered. Pope B offered the Mass in the manner he personally preferred and now Pope F will offer Mass in the manner he personally prefers and ain't that the perfect recipe for stability, solemnity, and continuity in the single most important action taking place on Earth at any moment in time?

    You are lucky, sir; you seem to have been fortunate in being able to assist at the Real Mass whereas many of us soi disant trads have had to suffer through innumerable inanities in the Lil' Licit Liturgy because we lived in dead dioceses.

    Still, we maintained the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine, and Authority and assisted at the Real Mass whenever we could.

    I am one who reacted to the election of Pope Francis so negatively but if it were not for us "haters" (Dr Marshall's label for us) you'd find it more difficult to identify another coterie against whom you could favorably compare your own self as one who doesn't behave like us - and so imply that you have gotten it right as a trad; that is, a little word of appreciation for our malign existence ought be forthcoming.

    Vids and photos of his ecumenical actions and his interfaith worship are easily available online and those of us who have seen them are shocked; how could the College of Cardinals, the lot of them chosen by our last two Popes, elect such a man?

    And what does his election say about our last two Popes and the putative continuity of the Pre and Post V2 Church?

    It is a tautology that our Catholic Church is Hierarchical and so it is crucial that we Catholics get a Catholic Traditionalist (redundant) as Pope and we have not gotten one as even you admit and we will suffer accordingly.

    Now, you can go and do whatever it is you do but in the meantime we are burdened with a Pope who has made it quite clear (by words and deeds) that he is Primer inter Pares and while that will wow the schismatics of the East and the general public (neither of which group of miscreants wanted a Roman Pontiff to reign and rule), we are, again, essentially, sheep with a woefully weak Shepherd and those weak in Doctrine will be easy pickings for the protestants (to say nothing about the heretical wolves you know Pope Francis will not rule against).

    It is worth noting that, just as Pope Benedict XVI did, one of the first official acts of Pope Francis was for him to contact the Chief Rabbi of Rome and, essentially, pledge to walk in the shoes of the two fishermen who proceeded him; that is, when it comes to the Jews and their salvation, the new non-evangelisation of The Jews brought to us by the new theology of the new Vatican Two dispensation will continue as will the new evangelising of we Catholics who will be told (as Pope Benedict XVI told us) that The Jews have their own Mission.

    Breathes there a man so skilled, or so insane, that he will claim continuity with the first Pope who evangelised the Jews and told them to convert?

    All of the fetid novelties that have become institutionalised in the political praxis of the Vatican Two Era Popes (effete ecumenism, interfaith worship, catechetical quiessence, etc etc) and which novelties signify a complete and utter break with the past drive some of us up the wall and those of us on the wall are, admittedly, loud, very loud, and, like Bill Buckley once was, standing athwart ecclesiastical history yelling STOP

  3. Not Spartacus,

    I don't know you. I don't know what dead diocese you are in. Yet if you think I live in some mecca of Catholicism, come take a ride through the Archdiocese of Detroit with me where I go to Church an hour away, and the diocese of Lansing, where I currently live. Come where I go to Daily Mass. See that for every Assumption Grotto in the heart of the ghetto is a hundred churches where yes, the Eucharist is there, but Catholic piety and sentiment have long left, to say nothing of orthodox teaching.

    When I didn't have the financial resources to do those insanely long drives, I was stuck in those Churches, even though an SSPX chapel was within driving and then walking distance from where I lived. And I did it without second thought. Did I like the way things were? No, but things have seldom if ever turned out the way I want them to in my life, and somehow I've managed to do just fine.

    SO with all due respect, I do know what things are like outside my pretty awesome community of fellow traditionalists I break bread with every Sunday, so I sympathize, but your attitude and behavior is still all kindsa wrong.

  4. Dear Kevin. I can't really agree or disagree with your last ten words because the crisis in which we live is sui generis and, therefore, I'll just thank you for permitting me to explain myself here.

    Thank you.

    BTW, I used to live in the dead Diocese of Portland, Maine (the entire state) and I now live in the dead Diocese of Palm Beach County Fl and it is in Fl where I asked my Pastor, years ago, if he would offer the Real Mass and he said he had a strong desire to do just that but that only two Indults were then available for the entire Diocese and they were already in use.

    Once S.P. was promulgated, I made the request again and he told me he refused to offer the Real Mass.

    C'est la vie..., suck it up, but, remember the Diocesan Appeal is right around the corner and it is a precept of the Church...

    Now, it is not that we blabber-mouths do aught but blabber but blabber we do now that there exists sites sympathetic to our plight.

    It would prolly make sense to some just to clam-up and silently watch the walls continue to crumble - but because the Hierarchy has been doing just that for the past one-half century without any hint of a cessation of the inertia towards Indifference, complaining about a cri de couer from a powerless laymen seems a bit off point: but I do get your point.

    Again, Thank you

  5. I just question the way certain things are approached. I would never advise clamming up. The "pay, pray and obey" mindset was never Catholicism, even when it was around in the "good ol days."

    I just think that when we fight about something, it is a) something we have control over, and b) we actually have all the facts before we pronounce judgement in public. That goes for everyone of course, not just traditionalists. Some Catholic authors act the same was as the Rorate crowd, but they are even more guilty, because they reach a far wider audience.

  6. [I asked my Pastor, years ago, if he would offer the Real Mass ]

    With all due respect, I do not have an ounce of sympathy for those who refer to any one liturgical form as "The Real Mass" or who would favour outreach to the Jews from "the good old days" that involved shoving them into ghettos and forcing them to go to "conversionist sermons." You would do well to ditch such nonsense and take a more nuanced approach to these things. For that, Kevin is a good guide to follow.

  7. Dear Shawn. I wasn't seeking your sympathy so in not receiving it I suffer no loss.

    I refer to the Lil' Licit Liturgy and The Real Mass for very good reasons summarised with copious documentation by Rev. Anthony Cekada in " Work of Human Hands and I was born a Catholic into the Church that used to offer the Real Mass and it is completely different than was the Mass prior to its massacre.

    The smoke still has not cleared from your torching of the straw man in your second paragraph.

    It has not a thing to do with my comparison of how Pope Saint Peter evangelised The Jews and told them to convert but your Straw Man Burning will tend to distract the reader from considering the galactic difference between what Pope Saint Peter did and what the V2 Popes have done vis a vis the Jews; that is, there is no continuity in this area.

    And you know it.

  8. ...was born a Catholic into the Church that used to offer the Real Mass and The New Mass is completely different than was the Real Mass prior to its massacre. is how I intended that sentence to read..poor editing on my part

  9. Ahh the good ol days of internet traddery. Fr. Cekada is a brilliant man, but he's also a sedevacantist. If one wants to believe the Ordinary Form is invalid, they are certainly free to do so, but not as a Catholic in good standing. Yet at least Cekada is consistent. He would even agree with me. If they are valid popes, then it is a valid Mass. Invalid Mass (or heretical, offensive to God, evil, what have you), then either invalid popes, or the Church has defected.

    People are free to hold that position. Just not here.

  10. Dear Mr. Tierney. I obviously do not think Holy Mother Church could promulgate an invalid Mass and that is obvious because I refer to it as Lil' Licit Liturgy (The Abbe de Nantes tried to explain this tautology to Lefevbre's acolytes but they didn't grasp this point).

    Just for the pleasure of reading his sly and wry asides makes the book worth every penny but it is documentation that makes his study valuable even if the reader MUST disagree with his conclusion - page 397 - that "The Mass of Paul VI is Protestant, modernist, sacrilegious, and even invalid."

    I have always maintained the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine, and Authority and I am opposed to sedevacantism (pull up a chair and vacante your mind) and semiprivationism and Miracle Whip


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