5 January 2015

Pope or Tradition?

There is an apocryphal tale that B Pius IX once said Io sono la Tradizzione. I thought of that the other day when I read a report that Cardinal Marx had said that, for him, "it is incomprehensible how the Synod Fathers are more bound to Tradition than to the Pope".

Really? Talk about letting Cats out of Bags!

I would like to be quite clear about this. I belong to Christ's Church Catholic as defined by Pastor aeternus of Vatican I (Joseph Ratzinger summarised it so lucidly) in which the Pope is not an absolute monarch but is the Guardian of the Sacred Tradition received from the Apostles. I have no desire to belong to somebody else's "Catholic Church" in which Tradition and Pope are seen as competing alternatives, and in which safe and wise Corporation Men who know what's good for their health prioritise Pope above Tradition. Not even if that "Church" is led by such luminaries as Marx and Kasper.

Later this month, we shall observe the Church Unity Octave, sometimes known nowadays as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I do not know how seriously the Marxes and the Kaspers nowadays take Christian Unity. If Cardinal Marx's enthusiasm for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation is a good basis for guesswork, 'Ecumenism' is, for many such, going to mean cosying up to liberal Protestantism with its multiple apostasies. But, in my own experience of Orthodox Christians, the message that full communion with the See of Rome actually means Sacred Tradition being replaced by the Absolute Power of whoever happens currently to be the Roman Pontiff ... or, even worse, by sectional interests able to get their hands on the levers of power and to manipulate the Papacy so as to promote their own innovatory agendas ... is precisely the sort of message that would confirm their very worst suspicions about the errors of "Papalism".

Four years ago, I and others, not without some sacrifice, joyfully accepted the gracious invitation of Benedict XVI to enter into full communion. I, for one, did not do so in order to stand idly by with a polite smile upon my silly face while some unscrupulous Northern European ecclesiastics plot to demolish the Church's teaching and discipline about Marriage and Sexuality, and to do so by means of a confected hyperpapalism which as far as I can see contradicts the defined doctrine of Vatican I, and thus seems to me clearly a heresy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

And this is what Vatican I had defined: "The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter's successors so that by its revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but, so that, by its assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, i.e. the deposit of Faith".

B John Henry Newman, Patron of our Ordinariate, brilliantly characterised the charisma, the genius, of the Roman Church as its capacity to act as a remora, a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation. That's what the Pope's job is.

22 comments:

Paulusmaximus said...

If we disregard Tradition, the Catholic becomes "a rudderless ship".

Mighty Joe Young said...

Saint Vincent of Lerins tells us why we Catholic Christians are being tried by this synod: For the Lord, your God, tries you, to know whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

And Saint Vincent tells us what we must do -reject novelty;

[7.] What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

And he tells us that the most religious of men are the ones who reject novelties/innovations - even surprises:

For it has always been the case in the Church, that the more a man is under the influence of religion, so much the more prompt is he to oppose innovations




Joshua said...

You speak with clarity and courage - and many, many Catholics the world over side with you against this new heresy.

Will we have to have to wait for Trent II to obtain its condemnation?

Mediatrix omnium gratiarum, ora pro nobis.
Interemptrix cunctarum hæresum, ora pro nobis.

Long-Skirts said...

"...the genius, of the Roman Church as its capacity to act as a remora, a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation"

UPON THIS ROCK

Weary, weary,
On this earth
Shielding souls
Beyond their worth.

Few are grateful
Some regress
Others proud
They won’t confess

When the waves
Break on the shore
Warning them
What is before.

Established
You stand on this rock
‘Gainst the gales
Fore those who mock

Facing squalls
They cannot see
But all behold
Your bended knee.

Few will follow
Some deny
Oblivious
They won’t comply.

Then a blue moon
Saffron sun
Come together
Almost one.

Fingers blessed
With Holy Oil
You lift the Light…
Sun moon recoil.

Blinding many
Opening eyes
Contradiction
Most despise.

But on this rock
Eroded-rife
You stand your ground
Opposing strife.

Between the storms
And sheep you block
The tempest winds
That hurt the flock.

With outstretched arms
The daily crux
You nail the Truth
So not in flux

Never will lie
Only can free
Upon this rock
Catholicity.

Thank you Fr. Hunwicke for being such a magnificent Priest/Shepherd. SACERDOS!!!!!!!!!

Romulus said...

Thank you, Father.

Deacon Augustine said...

Those who propose innovative understandings of doctrine and practice are not only heretics, but they are schismatics - they are trying to institute schism from the Church which has gone before.

"Ad Tuendam Fidem" is a very useful document in these circumstances in that it clearly sets out in the footnotes that the universality of the Ordinary Magisterium is primarily a diachronic universality rather than a synchronic universality. It excludes any neo-modernist understanding of Catholic doctrine.

The Holy Father would do well to study this along with "Pastor aeternus" and the Vatican I decree "De fides et ratio" in order to gain greater appreciation of his office and the limits set upon it. His alleged comments that "If the Pope says black is white, then it is white..." do not give confidence that he understands his powers correctly.

Dom Benedict Andersen OSB said...

Bravo, Fr Hunwicke!

Stephen said...

You nailed it. The degree to which the Papacy is a vehicle for innovation is indirectly proportional to the chances of West and East reconciling. The more of the former, the less likely the latter.

Mark said...

“B John Henry Newman, Patron of our Ordinariate, brilliantly characterised the charisma, the genius, of the Roman Church as its capacity to act as a remora, a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation. That's what the Pope's job is.”

Some Popes have done this job splendidly. Others – often those who saw themselves as reformers – have not. One of the finest examples of what Newman is saying is Leo III who, coming under pressure to add the Filioque (which he favoured as a theologoumenon) to the Creed, famously had the traditional version of the Creed written in silver tablets and placed in St Peter’s basilica together with the words “I, Leo, put these here for love and protection of orthodox faith”. It’s a great pity that some of the 11th Century Popes were less committed to the principle of acting as a “remora” than was Leo III.

Jacobi said...

My understanding is that the Catholic Faith rests on Scripture, Revelation (by Christ), and Tradition, as expressed in the Sacred Magisterium of the Church. (4th year RE and Apologetics at school if I remember correctly).

Now no one, including Cardinal Marx, has to be a Catholic, but all who so choose are bound to accept this. That includes bishops and Popes. I presume therefore that the “Cardinal” is no longer a Catholic. He’s probably a Kasperan now I imagine. So he can still claim German religious tax?

The Kasperans are of course are now “Utramontanist”, or selectively so, in so far as aspects of the Pope’s sayings suit them. Christian Unity is a most desirable although difficult objective. I mean the Orthodox are an awkward lot. But as for the Kasperans, Lutherans and so on, I wouldn’t bother.

All a bit tongue-in - cheek, Father (except the first para, that is), but I do think there is now a danger of a new Reformation. As I have said elsewhere, history will not come to a halt in 2015.


ps Thank The Holy Ghost for what happened four years ago!

Jason W. said...

Well done Father! Well done!

J said...

Thank you, Father. Really: thank you.
J.

Athelstane said...

Of course, we're all left to wonder where this hyperpapalism on the part of the German cardinals was before March, 2013.

There *is* a certain breed of conservative which, ever so steadily since the 19th century, has managed to put the ultra in ultramontanism, no matter how many contortions were necessary to play the game. But for our Teutonic brigade and their various progressive fellow-travelers, it's a highly opportunistic hyperpapalism. The only constant in the juxtaposition offered by Cardinal Marx is that our tradition is *never* privileged, no matter who is pope.

GOR said...

A perceptive and timely observation, Father!

One might contrast the effusive reactions of certain ecclesiastics to the current Pontiff with their less amicable view of – or outright opposition to – his predecessor. But ‘attachment to the person’ is hardly new. In Apostolic times St. Paul nipped it in the bud with the Corinthians - but some seem not to have learned the lesson.

Stilbelieve said...

The issue of "Pope or Tradition" didn't seem to come up when Pope John Paul II changed the teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment as no longer being necessary, which the U.S. Catholic bishops have grabbed and are running with.

"The punishment imposed must be proportionate to the gravity of the offense." This is the tradition of the teaching in capital punishment. My "Life in Christ - Instructions in the Catholic Faith" (copyright 1958) says, "The state has the right to punish serious crime with the death penalty." Pope JPII implies that today they don't, even though the CCC still says, "A punishment imposed by legitimate public authority has the aim of...defending public order and people's safety...." The CCC says today based on what JPII said, "The punishment imposed must be proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Given the possibilities which the State now has for effectively preventing crime by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm, the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' (Evangelium Vitae). When non-lethal means are sufficient, authority should limit itself to such means...."

What evidence has the Vatican provided to support their claim - "Given the possibilities which the State now has for effectively preventing crime by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm?" It has provided absolutely NONE. It is a mere opinion of the Pope with no factual background evidence. Yet, the U.S. bishops are trying to end capital punishment in every state, putting the people in those states at risk of death or injury by someone even in solitary confinement or someone who plans to take innocent peoples lives with no worry about their own if caught.

A 3-year long, $5,000,000 investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies of the newest, high-tech prison in California revealed solitary confined inmates could not be stopped from committing “murders, robberies, conspiracy and drug-related crimes” outside prison walls. It was called “Operation Black Widow.” I read about it in my local paper one Sunday, The Orange County Register, almost 15 years ago. It covered half a page, and was 6 columns long.

I provided a copy of the article to the CA Catholic Conference by way of my diocese' representative to a meeting they were conducting on a ballot measure to end CP they were supporting in CA a few years ago. According to that representative upon her return "they don’t care about what that article said, they will continue supporting ending CP in CA.” The facts coming from the highest level in the CA prison system that they can not prevent such crimes occurring outside the prison walls by prisoners held in solitary confinement, made no difference to those bishops, nor did the current or traditional teachings of the Church about “defending public order and people’s safety.” In fact, the article said: “The Corrections Department says there’s little it can do to stop the killings, ordered by inmates who have nothing to lose and nothing but time.”

The bishops in the U.S. have added ending capital punishment to the issues they call “pro-life,” and are teaching that as a position Catholics should hold in elections - all because of Pope JP II’s unfounded opinion. In this case, the Church leadership are following and promoting an unsubstantiated opinion of a pope with grave consequences to the innocent public, disregarding her tradition.

Paul Borealis said...

"But, in my own experience of Orthodox Christians, the message that full communion with the See of Rome actually means Sacred Tradition being replaced by the Absolute Power of whoever happens currently to be the Roman Pontiff ... or, even worse, by sectional interests able to get their hands on the levers of power and to manipulate the Papacy so as to promote their own innovatory agendas ... is precisely the sort of message that would confirm their very worst suspicions about the errors of "Papalism"."

"You nailed it. The degree to which the Papacy is a vehicle for innovation is indirectly proportional to the chances of West and East reconciling."

It seems to me you both forget that the probable change - (God forbid) - regarding divorce, remarriage, and reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, will probably be justified by all-important appeals to Eastern Orthodoxy and ancient eastern Christianity, i.e. the Orthodox pastoral practice and tradition of Oikonomia, etc. Therefore contemporary ecumenism and openness is part of the problem I think. The papacy and synod (and Vatican II) will not be the only grounds given for the 'development' (innovation)...

Eques said...

I think the Roman papacy is part of God's plan for His Church, but, what has it become? And indeed, Fr. Hunwicke, if I thought your take on the relation between tradition and the papacy was that put forward by those in charge of the institution, then I think I would be happy to be still with you. However, it has been made clear in many ways to me, and that by clerics in positions in the Roman Church far more senior than your own, that this is not the case, and that I was most unwelcome. Having been thus invited to leave...

John Fisher said...

Father YES!!! Well put! Many Catholics use the Nuremburg defence. It is reprobate to say "I was only following orders or well it was fashion". We have to judge and act according to truth not fashion. Sacred Tradition is source of truth and lense for judging the times.

benjaminiperegrinus said...

Excellent post Father. You have articulated in such a clear manner what I've been thinking for several months.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I asked Eques to substantiate his claim that my account of the doctrine of the papacy was contradicted by senior clerics. He has very kindly satisfied me that was indeed treated with great impropriety by many clerics. We should pray for these clerics, and for those, perhaps not a few, whom they have harmed.

plato said...

@Stilbelieve
John Paull II did not change Church 'teaching' on capital punishment and the Conference of Catholic bishops in the US are not an infallible group. Is that the first thing you disagree with that they have done? They have become increasingly vocal on issues that are not 'non negotiables' (intrinsically evil in and of themselves). Issues that are not non negotiables such as capital punishment, immigration, how to best help the poor, etc., are matters of prudential judgement that each Catholic may decide for themselves. Just because a Conference of Catholic bishops endorse something as a group does not make it a matter of faith to be believed and held by the Universal Church.

Tamquam said...

The "Seamless Garment" doctrine was, if I recall correctly, first proposed by Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago in the late 1970's (there were probably precursors somewhere). It was subsequently glommed on to by the Liberal Lefties and has been trumpeted from the rooftops ever since, at least here in the USA. Tradition it ain't, nor should it be.