31 May 2016

The Pope and the Spirit

Mgr Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, claimed last year that "The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Church's shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis". There had, you will recall, just been a "synod" at which some of the Synodal Fathers had, er, actually started shouting! Good gracious me! Shouting, when the Spirit Himself was just the other side of that microphone! Naughty! Naughty!

Oh dear, I thought. Here we go again. Here it is again, that dreadful old 1860s and 1960s-style maximalising view of the Papacy ... against which both Newman and Ratzinger in turn, in their respective contexts, wrote so sensibly. Wasn't it that daft Wilfrid Ward who wanted to have a new papal pronouncement to read as he ate his breakfast egg each morning? What a mercy for the poor chap that he didn't live in the Age of the Domus Sanctae Marthae Papacy. He would soon have grown sick of his breakfast eggs.

Of course, the Holy Father himself would not subscribe to this preposterous sententia Pintiana.

But I do sometimes feel a trifle nervous that his modes of expression could, by a critic less favourable than myself, be misread as Pintian. What generates this uneasy apprehension is incessant talk about the Spirit which links Him with a Newness which seems to be involved in unspecified but explosive changes in the Church's settled Doctrine and Praxis.

"... they were closed off to these signs of the Spirit and resisted the Spirit. They were seeking to justify this resistance with a so-called fidelity to the Law, that is, to the letter of the Law".

(Interesting stuff. "Letter of the Law!" Indeed! We've just had a Rescriptum ex audientia which declares that the erection by a diocesan bishop of an Institute of Religion will be invalid if the Bishop has not consulted the Congregation for Religious. So ... if a Bishop ignored this Rescriptum and ignored the Congregation and just went ahead on his own, Bergoglio would pat him on the head and praise him for ignoring the letter of the Law? Hold him up to the world as a splendid example of being Surprised by the Spirit? Do you really think so?)

"Being docile to the Spirit, this docility is the Yes that the Spirit may act and move forward to build up the Church ... instruments of the Spirit so that the church can move forward ..." [Homily of 14/04/2016]

"The sin is a closed heart that does not hear the voice of the Lord, that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us ... the sin of divination ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry  ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry ... the sin of idolatry ... the newness of the Spirit ... " [Homily of 18/01/2016].

In my more depressed moments, I feel uneasy about how to reconcile all this frantic, angry, aggressive, obsessive, repetitive, rhetoric with the calm and wise words of the First Vatican Council, which so admirably and so tersely described the essential and vital, but limited, role of the Roman Pontiff:

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might make new teaching public, but so that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith"!!


13 comments:

Pétrus said...

I'm firmly of the opinion that this attempt to separate the "letter of the law" from pastoral practice is the sort of legalism which the Holy Father has spoken out about.

It reminds me of the sort of thing a high priced defence lawyer would do.

Catherina of Siena said...

Brilliant.
Thank you Fr. H.

Catherine - former Reformed - of Siena.

GOR said...

Some of the sentiments emanating from Rome recently are reminiscent of the Catholic Charismatic Movement so popular in the years following Vatican II. Except that back then ‘ownership’ of the Holy Spirit wasn’t promoted as a proprietary charism of Peter’s Successor – every Tom, Dick and Harriet had a piece of Him. And they let you know this, Babel-like, in divers tongues, no less!

Given the inroads that Charismatics have made against the Catholic Church in South America, you would think an Argentinian Pope would be loath to promote even an approximation of that misguided movement. Or maybe that’s the plan – if you can’t beat them, join them…? It’s hard to keep score these days.

Joao said...

Does the VCI quotation apply to all the papal magisterium or only to infallible pronouncements?

In my reading of Pastor Aeternus it seems that only infallible pronouncements are covered.

If this is so, then we will have to find another way to justify not paying attention to all the rubbish coming out of St. Martha's, maybe along the lines of Cd. Burke's critique of AL (and EG): "It's not papal magisterium."

Otherwise, we will have to start showing "religious submission of mind and will" (Cf. Lumen Gentium 25) to all Pope Francis' "repetitions"... and also to it's opposite (all the previous magisterium)...

(I apologise for the poor english).

John Fisher said...

Father when we all get to heaven we can use the Nuremburg defence... I was only following orders!


Liam Ronan said...

"Else if thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that holdeth the place of the unlearned say, Amen, to thy blessing? because he knoweth not what thou sayest. For thou indeed givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God I speak with all your tongues.

But in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct others also; than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Brethren, do not become children in sense: but in malice be children, and in sense be perfect." 1 Corinthians 14:16-20

I wonder if St. Paul would say 'Amen' to the spirit which is now trying to communicate itself to the Church with all of its attendant shouting in uninterpreted tongues?

Michael Leahy said...

The Christian who is obstinate sins...unless his obstinacy is adultery.

Long-Skirts said...

"...that is not open to the NEWness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us ... the sin of divination ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry ... the NEWness of the Spirit ...


NEWNESS


The one true bride, another Pope
The Catholic faith, it makes him mope
Another season, another reason
For makin’ newness

He says that God, He likes surprises
So make a mess, then he surmises
I’m really humble, I’d like to rumble
And make some newness

Picture the dome of Rome
Flawed men will dance and sing
A Synod of froth and foam
Think what a year can bring

He will not judge, tradition’s fudge
True Catholic souls, to outskirts budge
But he’s so humble, so do not grumble
You vill like newness!

Liam Ronan said...

Great one, Long-Skirts!

"He's washin' dishes and baby clothes
He's so ambitious, he even sews
But don't forget folks, that's what you get folks
For makin' whoopee..." Frank Sinatra 'Makin' Whoopee'(1956)

But don't forget folks, that's what you get folks with ¡vaya lío!

Grumpy Beggar said...

Blogger John Fisher said...
"Father when we all get to heaven we can use the Nuremburg defence... I was only following orders!"

LOL

In contemporary context, mightn't it be a bit more like: "I was only following orders ! . . . whatever they were."

Or if that doesn't work, then perhaps the Knockwurst (* © Father H) defence may be worth a go : "I was only following disorders !"

Deacon Augustine said...

I take comfort when praying the Divine Office from the number of times we pray such words as: "...God in whom there is no shadow of change or alteration.", "..Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday and forever..."

Nowhere in the Lex Orandi do I come across this "god of surprises" malarky. I shall, therefore, be content to stick with the Lex Orandi, thank you very much, and let whatever bishop you like believe in whatever strange "god" he likes, but the triune Catholic God in whom there is no contradiction will do for me.

If any bishop were to believe that he is some kind of medium who is constantly "channelling" the Holy Ghost with his every whim and bright idea, then I suggest the rightful place for him would be in the funny-farm - not the Church Militant. Thank the Lord that He has spared us from such phenomena.

Deacon Augustine said...

I take comfort when praying the Divine Office from the number of times we pray such words as: "...God in whom there is no shadow of change or alteration.", "..Jesus Christ, the same today, yesterday and forever..."

Nowhere in the Lex Orandi do I come across this "god of surprises" malarky. I shall, therefore, be content to stick with the Lex Orandi, thank you very much, and let whatever bishop you like believe in whatever strange "god" he likes, but the triune Catholic God in whom there is no contradiction will do for me.

If any bishop were to believe that he is some kind of medium who is constantly "channelling" the Holy Ghost with his every whim and bright idea, then I suggest the rightful place for him would be in the funny-farm - not the Church Militant. Thank the Lord that He has spared us from such phenomena.

Ferrara said...

I am wondering at at this point if there is any sensible observer of the ecclesial who has yet to arrive at contempt for Francis's clumsy demagoguery, habitual self-contradiction, and banana republic style abuses of power.