Like in the political world, black seems to be white in the RC Church. I have received several links to news articles about the ongoing war between conservatives (including Cardinal Burke) and Pope Francis.
- How Pope Francis can cleanse the far-right rot from the Catholic Church
- US cardinal Raymond Burke stokes papal tensions by meeting nationalist in Rome
Given that degree of Francis’ vehemence against “rigid” thinkers, things seem to be moving forward for the Society of St Pius X – Pope Francis’s traditionalists by Damian Thompson. Regarding the conflict between Cardinal Burke and the Pope, I’m not sure that the Cardinal is being any more rigid in terms of moral teaching than Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. It is simply that the “liberal” expectations are becoming increasingly excessive and unrealistic – and typically “feminist”.
If I were an atheist, I would be having a field day with all this nonsense and conflicting messages! We have the American journalist telling us that we are on the point of getting some “reincarnation” of Hitler or Mussolini (and Paolo Sesto?). If I have to give a political opinion, I would favour some versions of American Libertarianism, Distributism à la Hilaire Belloc or some other socialist vision from the nineteenth century. I believe in private property, owning the means of production and being allowed to earn one’s living by work, but I also believe in humanitarianism and helping the less fortunate than ourselves. I detest “champagne socialism” as much as unlimited capitalism (big companies preventing small businesses from having any share of the market by unfair means) and elitism. I find nothing good in party politics in America and Europe. It burns me out. I don’t think Pope Francis knows what he is talking about when he simply echoes, parrot fashion, the agenda of some very evil people in this world. For this reason, I evoke the rhetorical question of Pilate facing Christ – What is truth?
Then we have Pope Francis being ready to take in the SSPX – unless it’s all “bait & switch”. In which case, would the SSPX be so stupid, given that they have reneged on previous regularisation attempts under John Paul II and Benedict XVI?
Perhaps there is a clue in this quote from St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines. The more lenient viewpoint would describe this notion in analogical and rhetorical rather than literal terms: trust the Church more than your own possibly erroneous judgement or belief. Taken literally, the idea is quite monstrous. For centuries, the Jesuits have been known for playing games with words and ideas. I have known some saintly Jesuit priests in England like Fr Hugh Thwaites, but most are just – – – boring.
Decidedly, this RC Church has definitely forfeited any claim it might have had to represent revealed Truth or being the “true” Church exclusively of all others. “Emotional” and “intellectual” sedevacantism are growing. I am finding both opposing camps toxic. Again, I thank God for the continuing Anglican Churches and all the little communities inside and outside the “mainstream” institutions. Thank goodness, Catholic Christianity can continue without becoming abject nonsense fit only to disposed of in the household rubbish!
Maybe, cujus rex ejus religio: Pope Francis will stop supporting the agenda people like Obama and Hillary Clinton represented, and will turn to the new nationalist and authoritarian tendencies – and no one will bat an eyelid.
When royal James possessed the crown, and popery came in fashion,
The penal laws I hooted down, and read the Declaration.
The Church of Rome, I found, did fit full well my constitution
And I had been a Jesuit, but for the Revolution.
When William was our King declared, to ease the nation’s grievance,
With this new wind about I steered, and swore to him allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke; Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience was a joke, a jest was non-resistance.
When Royal Anne became our queen, the Church of England’s glory,
Another face of things was seen, and I became a Tory.
Occasional conformists base; I blamed their moderation;
And thought the Church in danger was from such prevarication.
These days I find most church news to be hopelessly depressing, with some sort of selling out and betrayal happening with every story, especially within the Roman Catholic Church. I read stuff sometimes semi nostalgic for my RC days but than I realize that all the best things about Roman Catholicism exist in other places as well, whether it’s in your own ACC or the other sacramental Christian bodies. The Eucharist, the Divine Office, blessings, feasts, saints and fasts all exist outside the barque of Peter, and in some cases without all the drama and legalistic wrangling.
I can’t help but watch this whole thing unfold with Amoris Laetitia and shake my head, finding the strange parsing of words and ideas and all the ink spilled trying to violently drive square pegs into round holes. It’s as if you need a degree in Hermeneutics, Canon Law and Rhetoric just to try and understand ANY document or policy that has come out of the RCC within the last 60 years or more. There are multiple “levels” of that nebulous fictional entity known as the “magisterium” and differing levels of obedience owed to various teachings, and no one, not even the pope, can agree on what is what on any given issue. Trads think one way, sedevacantists and Commonweal Catholics another. There’s no more unity or agreement on basic teaching in Roman Catholicism than there is in almost any institution. You basically throw your hat in the ring or draw your line in the sand with people or ideas that seem to better fit the narrative based on your own reading and understanding, and even the pope draws a line.
The trad set has the right idea in terms of aesthetics and a desire to preserve ones patrimony, but they fail to see that it’s impossible to safeguard it when the ones that have undermined it have been the Popes and bishops themselves!
Sedevacantism is a fantasy of crew cut and cuff link 1950’s style American Catholicism and ultramontanism on steroids.
As I see it the Church, from the very beginning, seems to have had a recognized core of central doctrines, a generally (but not universally) accepted teaching surrounding those doctrines, and a wider area of disputed opinions. Even into the late Middle Ages there was considerable diversity of opinion, mostly keeping fairly close to the center, but sometimes verging off to approach (or even embrace) heresy. It was in part to “correct” this situation that the various Reformation movements solidified and the Council of Trent was held. I’m unconvinced that this “correction” was a good thing or that strict unity of doctrine is a proper objective. Might it be better if we could discuss, contest, and argue these issues as brethren in a single and somewhat fluid church, than to build walls against each other with our rigid definings? I’m of the opinion that this is the principal treasure of Anglican Christianity: the ability to coexist in our differences and learn to work together in love. As with everything else, this is not a principle one can make absolute – there are contradictions that simply cannot coexist, and those do erect barriers, but most of the things we argue about simply do not rise to that level.
Whatever you understand about Christianity, or think you understand, it primary says something of your understanding. Understanding is different, we all understand Christianity, in our own unique way, and it is not even static, it is subject to change, as we grow older, and hopefully, get wiser.
So I am never pragmatic about what people think, and I do not easy try to change somebodies mind. In fact, I adore the Pax, much over dispute or rules from Vatican. I am more a meditation on Christ, then I have knowledge about Him. I see so many getting into trouble with their understanding, trying to convince others, or even compare to others. Basically what it does, is breaking down the Pax within ourselves, quite a price.
It will be for you to bind this to this article……I simply invite.