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Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Francis Effect: A Gathering Storm

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The Francis Effect: A Gathering Storm

"I find that [the Latin Mass] is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention."...Pope Francis

Part III 
Continued from Yesterday) 
Read Part I,  Read Part II

Still More Insults for Traditionalists

Pope Francis has publicly insulted faithful traditional Catholics so many times that one wag at CNN has compiled what he calls “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults.” The insults keep coming.

On February 14, during an audience with Bishops of the Czech Republic, the Pope was informed of the growing numbers of young people who are attracted to the traditional Latin Mass. Instead of expressing approval of this development as a sign of true renewal in the Church, Francis dismissed the development, stating that “he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it [the Latin Mass].” With amazing condescension he added: “When I search more thoroughly, I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us.”

It must be said that Francis appears to be guilty of the very fault of which he publicly accuses others: liturgical superficiality, and this to an astonishing degree. In all candor, it is Francis who has not “gone deep” at all but rather rendered the shallowest of judgments on a matter that could not be more profound. How is it possible for a Roman Pontiff to dismiss as “a kind of fashion” the Church’s received and approved rite of divine worship down through the centuries, going back at least to the time of Pope Damasus (r. 366-384), if not to the Apostles themselves, a work of the Holy Ghost that is nothing less than the liturgical foundation of Christian civilization?


If anything is “a kind of fashion” it is the new rite of Mass concocted by committee a mere 45 years ago, which almost immediately collapsed in a welter of previously unthinkable abuses and profanations, including the “

” over which Francis himself presided as Cardinal Bergoglio. How can Francis defend and even participate in what his own predecessor admitted is the “collapse of the liturgy” (Ratzinger, Milestones, p. 148) while disparaging the Mass that nurtured the faith and heroic virtue of legions of saints and inspired the world’s most sublime works of art and architecture and music, including Gregorian and polyphonic chant?

Contrast Francis’s shallow view of the liturgy with the deep understanding so evident in the thinking of Pope Benedict, which motivated his determination to “liberate” the traditional Mass from its false imprisonment after the Council. As Benedict so famously observed in his letter to the world’s Bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” Pope Benedict knew well what was at stake in freeing liturgical tradition from its captivity by the liturgical fashion police who have thoroughly banalized Catholic worship since the Council: “But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence?” (Milestones, 149).  Where else indeed?

Francis’s remark that preserving the Church’s precious liturgical patrimony is merely a matter of showing “patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion” evinces a disturbing incomprehension of the vital function of the sacred liturgy in the Mystical Body. Even the young people whose attraction to the traditional liturgy Francis professes he cannot understand are able to see the reality of the ruinous liturgical impoverishment that has been visited upon the Church, the massive theft from the Church’s treasury of spiritual goods. As Pope Benedict observed in his historic letter to the Bishops, it is precisely young people who recognize what we have lost and are now leading the movement for its recovery:

Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.

But where Pope Benedict sees a powerful attraction in young souls to that which is objectively beautiful, sublime, and most appropriate to the worship of God—the primary purpose of the liturgy—Pope Francis, with yet another expression of contempt for his own subjects, sees only an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy,” as he declared in Evangelii Gaudium. His remarks in the Corriere interview reflect the worrying persistence of an irrational hostility toward the Church’s liturgical tradition, which it is his duty as Pope to protect and preserve, not belittle and disdain. 

The “Bishop Tony” Affair

Also on February 14, Pope Francis continued to indulge his hazardous penchant for off-the-cuff interviews by speaking into a smart phone video recorder wielded by one “Bishop” Tony Palmer during a visit at the Pope’s personal residence in Casa Santa Marta. “Bishop” Tony, an old friend of the Pope’s, is the “International Ecumenical Officer” for a

“why don’t we make a video?”—knowing that Palmer would show it at an upcoming “Pentecostal gathering” conducted by “prosperity Gospel” Protestant ministers.

During the video Francis stated: “I am here with my brother, my bishop brother, Tony Palmer. He told me about your conference, your meeting, and it is my pleasure to greet you.” But Palmer is no bishop. He is a layman in a clerical costume. Are we to conclude from the Pope’s remark that he, like Kasper, does not accept the infallible teaching of his own predecessor, Leo XIII, in Apostolicae Curae (1896) that “We pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void”? That would be a grave embarrassment to Pope Emeritus Benedict, given that in the CDF’s doctrinal commentary on John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Ad Tuendam Fidem (1998), Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, enumerated Pope Leo’s solemnly declared invalidity of Anglican orders as “among those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively…”

Francis proceeded to express to Palmer the usual “ecumenical” bromide that the division of Christians is not the result of anything like the spread of Luther’s heresies, but rather “a long road of sins that we all shared in. Who is to blame? We all share the blame….” The Protestant rebellion against divinely constituted authority, apparently, had nothing to do with it. In proper ecumenical fashion, Francis alluded vaguely to a future Christian unity based on feelings of brotherhood rather than acceptance of revealed truth in its entirety: “We must cry together like Joseph did. These tears will unite us. The tears of love…. And let’s pray to the Lord that he unites us all. Come, we are brothers. Let us give each other a spiritual hug, and let God complete the work that he has begun.”

Palmer promptly exploited the video at the conference, calling it “

: “It’s the glory that brings us together, not the doctrine. If you accept that Christ is living in me, and the presence of God is in me, and the presence of God is in you, that’s all we need. Because God will sort out all our doctrines when we get upstairs.” This is the heretical nonsense to which the Pope lent the dignity of the Petrine office.

Quoting from the 1999 “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” a meaningless piece of paper signed by the non-authoritative Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation, “Bishop” Palmer falsely asserted: “This brought an end to the protest of Luther. Brothers and sisters, Luther’s protest is over.” He failed to mention the Vatican’s companion document, which stated that “there are many points of convergence between the Catholic position and the Lutheran position” and that “[t]he Catholic Church is, however, of the opinion that we cannot yet speak of a consensus.”  In other words, the supposed agreement between Catholics and Lutherans concerning the defined dogma of justification is, like all other claims of “ecumenical progress,” illusory. “The protest of Luther” goes on, just as it always has, along with divorce, contraception, abortion, and the “ordination” of women and professed homosexuals in the Protestant sects—all the “fruits” of fifty years of useless “ecumenical dialogue.”   

The Twisting of Matthew 19:3-9

A week after Kasper’s “beautiful and profound” attack on Holy Matrimony, the Pope delivered a sermon (February 28) in which he turned the famous account in Matthew 19:3-9 on its head in order to justify his apparent preoccupation with finding a way to admit objective public adulterers to Holy Communion. Francis spoke of the Pharisees’ attempt to trap Our Lord respecting divorce and His reply that in marriage “the two become one flesh.” Yet the Pope conspicuously omitted any mention of Our Lord’s declarations immediately following: “what God hath joined together let no man put asunder” and “whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.”

The key verses intentionally passed over in silence, Francis somehow converted Our Lord’s fearsome vindication of the absolute indissolubility of marriage during His encounter with the casuitical Pharisees into a thinly veiled suggestion that present day Catholics are Pharisaical for upholding without compromise Our Lord’s teaching against the Pharisees! As Francis opined:

when this love fails, because it fails so many times, we have to feel the pain of the failure, we have to accompany those persons who have experienced this failure of their own love.  Not to condemn them! To walk with them! And to not take a casuistic attitude towards their situation.

Ironically, the Pope’s twisting of Matthew 19 into a reprimand of those who defend Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage required precisely what he condemns in supposedly “rigorist” Catholics: casuistry.

A few questions on this sermon:

First, what does Francis mean by “love fails”? Marital love is not a mechanism that breaks down under stress through no fault of the operators; it is a continuing act of the will, aided by the grace of Holy Matrimony. It is not the sacramental marriage that fails, for that is an indissoluble bond, but rather one or both spouses in the obligation to respect the bond “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” The results of that moral failure are indeed tragic, but life is filled with tragedies the Church cannot simply sweep aside in the name of mercy. As Cardinal Müller put it in the CDF’s recent doctrinal letter, which Kasper was evidently authorized to contest in his address to the cardinals: “A further case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy…. The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice…. God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church.”

Second, who, according to Francis, is “condemning” the divorced and remarried? Perhaps it is Our Lord Himself, who calls them adulterers­ in the very verses Francis failed to mention. But no one, in fact, is “condemning” particular individuals in the sense of judging the state of their souls, much less the imaginary “rigorists” the Pope seems to see under every bed and around every corner at a time when laxity is all but universal in the Church.

Third, what is the “casuistic attitude” to which Francis refers? Perhaps it is the Church’s “rigoristic” bimillenial insistence—maintained by John Paul II, Pope Benedict and even Cardinal Müller!—that the divorced and remarried, without exception, are not permitted to partake of the Blessed Sacrament unless they commit to ceasing their adulterous relations.

Fourth, how exactly should we “walk with” the divorced and remarried other than to lead them in the way the Church has always indicated? Cardinal Kasper has clearly been assigned the task of finding a way to “walk” with them by proposing “solutions” that would allow people living in adultery be treated as if they had been validly married­ by civil authorities—despite the continued existence of a sacramental marriage with an abandoned spouse!

Our friends in the diving bell would have it that no one may discuss publicly the immense implications of what the Pope is saying, and what he is doing by lauding Kasper as point man for a potentially catastrophic change in Church practice that would reduce her infallible doctrine on marriage to a virtual dead letter. They would counsel keeping quiet about the scandal while the mass media and the Modernists who have infested the entire hierarchy, including the upcoming Synod, run riot with it and create immense pressures for the change. We must not be quiet. We must exercise our duty as Catholics and confirmed soldiers of Christ to defend the Church’s traditional doctrine and practice in the worldwide public debate the Pope has improvidently ignited, which the Catholics in the diving bell propose to ignore.

To Be Concluded Tomorrow

Yet Another Explosive Newspaper Interview

Read Part I,  Read Part II





Last modified on Saturday, March 15, 2014
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.