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...