26 August 2016

(1) The Magical Magisterium: now you see it, now you don't

Mine is a nation which has produced some magnificently Eminent Magicians. The great Tommy Cooper, and the recently deceased Paul Daniels, spring to mind. But neither of them was ever created a Cardinal Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, of the Holy Roman Church. Yet each of them was a masterly exponent of the the principle which, apparently, now animates some our most senior cardinals: Now you see it, now you don't. The Magisterium pops up, and then as rapidly gets its head down again. One moment, the rabbit is in full view of the audience. The next, it is nowhere to be seen. "Magisterium? What Magisterium?" cries the Magician, carefully adjusting his zucchetto. "I think you must have been imagining it".

Let me explain what I mean by giving two examples.
(1) In 2007, Benedict XVI restated (Sacramentum Caritatis para.29) the immemorial praxis of the Church, based upon the ipsissima verba Domini, articulated in successive magisterial documents, of declining to offer Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers, i.e. "remarried" divorcees. But in 2016, nine years later, Francis published Amoris laetitia, which has been interpreted by many, both friends and critics, as opening a door to modification of that praxis; or as "generating processes" which must inevitably lead to its replacement.
(2) In 2008, Benedict XVI introduced into the Extraordinary Form Liturgy a revised Prayer for the Jews (based upon Roman 11:25-26), doing so explicitly so as to resolve the controversies involving earlier forms of that Prayer. This is of significance because of the intimate connection between the Lex orandi and the Lex credendi. Indeed, both those who stand by Pope Benedict, and those who now collaborate to rubbish his pontificate, may be said to agree on the profound importance of this question (otherwise they wouldn't keep on about it, would they?). Yet, in 2015, the English Bishops asked a Vatican sub-committee to "review" what a Roman Pontiff had enacted only seven years before. An accompanying document made clear that "review" meant "change".

Any ecclesiology which can be adduced to give support to a situation in which, seven or even nine years after the act, a magisterial pronouncement or enactment of a Roman Pontiff, expressive of Scripture and of Apostolic Tradition, can be treated as so much disposable garbage, now you see it, now you don't, is an ecclesiology which I, for one, repudiate from the bottom of my heart. And will continue to repudiate as widely and with as much energy as my advancing years allow me.

Some people tell me that the Graf von Schoenborn is a man of immense and winning personal charm. I can only say that when he gave that sweetly shifty smile and in effect told a questioner at the News Conference introducing Amoris laetitia "Well, dear, it's all about development, don'tya know", I found myself instantly convinced that I would not buy a second-hand can of baked beans from a man like that.

To be continued.

21 comments:

Nicolas Bellord said...

In the last year Cardinal Koch's dicastery on relations with the Jews produced a very strange document (expressed as non-magisterial) about how we must not try and convert the Jews. But one thing it did do was to confirm that even in their extreme view the prayer instituted by Benedict XVI was perfectly acceptable. What on earth were our Bishops think they were doing in asking for it to be revised? Perhaps they wanted to go a step further and suggest we should all convert to Judaism!

Andreas said...

Quae ista simplicitas est, quasi super ova et aristas inter theatrales praestigias pendenti gradu incedere: ubique dubium, ubique suspectum?” (S. Hieronymus)

mark wauck said...

We're reaping the seeds that were sown by Ultramontanism. With the best of intentions, needless to say. They had to put things on a more solid basis than careful study of Tradition seemed--to them--to afford.

BTW, would "those who now collaborate to rubbish his [Ratzinger's] pontificate" include those who say he resigned simply to avoid the jet lag that would result from attending another World Youth Day? Or who say how "impressed [he] was in Cuba to see the way in which Raul Castro wishes to lead his country"? That "his country" is an interesting touch, when you think about it. Almost as if a pope should refer to "his Church."

Woody said...

Your candor, Father, is very, very much appreciated; of course it helps that I always agree. In contrast to your salutary discussions, the general lack of candor that I encounter in other clergy is one of the most discouraging aspects of the current situation. One generally is given short shrift when one expresses concern and confusion about the current hierarchical actions and pronouncements, leading to ask, do they really believe what they say, or are they dissimulating for fear of lay gossip, or for fear of ecclesial disfavor, or the like? Then there seem to be those, perhaps like Count Von Schoenborn, who may just feel the imperative to defend the pope, no matter what. That helps me not at all, though, as I wonder will he still be defending when everyone starts to go over the cliff?

Keep up the good work. Perhaps Msgr Newton has more to worry about, at least if Damian is right, than an outspoken Ordinariate priest, so you will be able to continue helping us.

poly carped said...

" I found myself instantly convinced that I would not buy a second-hand can of baked beans from a man like that."

Belly laugh. Brilliant. Neither would I.

Prayerful said...

Presumably the Graf Von Schönborn would be unable to sell a second hand car to Fr. The Cardinal seems like the politician's politician. He was seen as somewhat conservative under the previous two Popes, and now is an arch-liberal. If the next Pope is more conservative, the Cardinal will be more conservative, in order to be at the centre of things. I wonder does he see himself as Papabile, and to that end is practicising his salesman's patter.

Valdemar said...

Right on, Father!!

We need clarity like that demanded in CCC 1697. Not just the "joys", but also the "demands".

Somehow the 'demands" of the gospel have gone "Poof!".

The great doctrinal disappearing act, indeed.

Thank you Father, and as for Herr Graf and his doctrinal assessments, Danke, aber NEIN.

John Vasc said...

Excellent! I had a mental picture of Tommy Cooper with both forearms extended as he shrugs his shoulders and says 'Jus' like that!'

Jacobi said...

In 2007, Benedict XVI restated based on Sacramentum Caritatis the immemorial praxis of the Church, that Holy Communion is not available to unrepentant adulterers, such as "remarried" divorcees. That is Catholic doctrine and cannot be changed either doctrinally, by implication, or by lax practise.

Amoris Laetitia implies otherwise and is therefore wrong. Any attempt to enforce this implication is heretical.

Jews are heretics. They have a special position in our Catholic regard since their ancient scriptures of the Old Testament are completed in the New Testament. There is no need for a review of any statement.

The time factor and von Schoenborn's charm or lack of it are irrelevant.

Auriel Ragmon said...

So is Graf Von Schönborn a sort of Cardinal of 'Bray, sir!" I dunno know being neither a Catholic nor a German, but the old song about the vicar of Bray rings a bell.
Jim of Olym

Deacon Augustine said...

The sad thing is that when prelates pronounce such arrant nonsense and expect it to be taken seriously, the instinctive reaction is to take nothing that they say seriously. And yet they seem completely oblivious to the fact that the deeper they keep on digging, the more their credibility is undermined.

Are they so detached from reality that they think the authority of their office can turn heretical rantings into pearls of wisdom which bind the faithful? Do they really think we are so ignorant that we have neither the wit nor the nouse to distinguish truth from falsehood, what is of God from what is not of God? Are they so bound by clericalism that they really believe their own propaganda?

God help me, I am supposed to love these people, but sometimes I just don't know how.

Stephen said...

The real question is, how often in the past has this "now you see it, now you don't" act been performed by Popes and other prelates before?

GOR said...

@Prayerful. Your description of the good Cardinal closely resembles that of the Vicar of Bray... But are we "in pudding time" as yet?

Andrew M. Greenwell said...

Graf Von Schönborn seems to be the Talleyrand of the post-Conciliar Church, his affable smile and adaptable theology making him eminently flexible.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Woody: I do not think that Archbishop Schonborn is just out to defend the Pope; he has his own liberal agenda.

Simon Reilly said...

Forgive me if I fail to exhibit shock or surprise at the train of events you describe: once the principle of Neo-Modernism was incorporated into the Magesterium, the latter ceased to be in effect and became instead the equivalent of a party manifesto that could be rewritten at will. We have been living through a revolution and all those in charge are participating it: some like Francis lead the way, others like Benedict lag behind but all take the Church inexorably forward to dissolution.

Jacobi said...

@ S R

I don't accept that neo-Modernism has or can be incorporated into the Magisterium - not that is the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Other sects perhaps but that is their problem.

Thomas said...

@Simon Reilly: "...but all take the Church inexorably forward to dissolution." If you really believe that, why believe in anything at all, for Christ has surely failed! The current crisis runs deep, but Our Lord was not lying when he promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his Church.

Simple Simon said...


Fr. If there was a premiership for the top scoring bloggers, in my opinion you would be top of the league. The situation that we find ourselves in is this. Francis is the validly elected Pope. His Pontificate thus far has amounted to a meticulously orchestrated and carefully choreographed descent into chaos. I am at a loss to figure out what it will take in order for orthodox Catholic Bishops to strike a public blow for the faith and withstand Francis to his face. Church blessings for homosexual unions? Concelebrated ‘Eucharists’ with dissenting Lutherans? Ordained women deacons? Francis has stated that Luther was right about justification, and the Church was wrong. Which being translated means that Francis firmly believes that he is right about communion for the divorced and remarried etc and the Church has been wrong, and history will declare Francis to have been medicine for the Church of his time. Two faiths cannot co-exist together. Something has got to give. The dissenters are not for changing. Who has the authority and courage to tell them to their faces ‘Go forth from amongst us’?

Thomas said...

Some decades ago the local bishop visited a parish I lived in at the time. He was also a prelate with an easy charm and ready smile. During a Q&A style meeting with some parishioners he was asked whether the Church would ever change the teaching contained in Humanae Vitae. He too took the line that while, of course, Church teaching never really "changes" it does "develop" so, with almost a nod and a wink, he hinted that there could be "better understanding and expression of these issues" in the future. Everyone knew what he was getting at. At the time whilst I accepted that HV was indeed what the Church taught I was still struggling to understand the reasoning behind it. But I remember feeling deep anger and disgust at the smarmy dishonesty of what he was suggesting. Then a little later he was talking about the Church's social teaching and offered the thought that what we needed was "a new Francis" to renew the Church in simplicity and openness, and wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to have a Pope called Francis at some stage! That particular prelate is now retired but I believe he has remained rather active in circles of very high influence.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"I found myself instantly convinced that I would not buy a second-hand can of baked beans from a man like that."

I thought it was impossible to feel ashamed of being Viennese.

Then came Schönborn ...