26 February 2018

Newman on the Suspense of the Functions of the Magisterium

Speaking only on my own, individual, behalf, I have to say that I feel very let down by PF's apparent decision not to reply to the Correctio Filialis which I together with others sent to him at the Domus Santa Marta last August. I retain to the full my feeling of the proper respect due to the individual who currently occupies the Petrine See, but in human and affective terms, his apparent view that I and so many others are not worth bothering with introduces a sense of hurt and pain, if not alienation. I am sure that there is a providential purpose in all this, and I pray that I may be enabled ever more profoundly to embrace the humiliations permitted by the Divine Will.

The decision of PF not to fulfil the mandate to confirm (sterizein) his brethren, is a striking event not easily paralleled. And a refusal to respond to formal requests can hardly not itself constitute a formal act. So I turned, as surely we in the Ordinariate instinctively do, to our beloved Patron Blessed John Henry Newman, quo quis doctior, quis sapientior?

"... the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission  ... at one time the pope*, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils*, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ... I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years ..."

I am testing in my thoughts (doing what we colloquially call "sleeping on it" or "thinking aloud") the possibility that PF's decision to ignore the cries for help which are sent to him, whether by Eminent Fathers of the Sacred College or by nonentities like me, may be seen as formally constituting the beginning of a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in "temporary suspense"; in a vacatio which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ as formally returns from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith.

If readers want an expansion of my way of thinking, I refer them to the masterly address on Apostasy delivered last week at the Buckfast Fatima Conference by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could! Incidentally, I suspect that the Conference ... and, not least, Cardinal Burke's powerful address ... may go down in history as one of the significant moments in the recovery, the 'fight-back', of orthodoxy.

As if to confirm my thoughts, in the last few days PF is reported to have contradicted another of the Church's teachings: the teaching with regard to Capital Punishment; and to have done so not obiter or in an airliner but formally, reading a written text to one of those "Pontifical Councils" which absorb so much money and effort. This suggests to me that PF has himself consciously stopped even bothering to remain within the parameters set by the Magisterium to which he is as much under an obligation to submit as is anybody else. The current careful formulation of the Church's teaching with regard to the Death Penalty, which PF said he wants changed, is precisely twenty years old. A "Magisterium" which contradicts itself every twenty years is not a Teaching Authority to which many people are likely seriously to consider themselves obliged to give assent. (I say this as a strong opponent of the use of Capital Punishment in modern states; as a barbarism.)

I can see no present grounds plausibly to speculate that PF's divagations from orthodoxy will in future tolerate any restraints. It is as if, having discovered himself at the bottom of a hole, he has decided that the only thing to do is to keep digging with redoubled energy. Or, like the Duke of Wellington in the Fifth Act of the Battle of Waterloo, perhaps he is saying to the world "In for a penny, in for a pound"! Or does he think that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb? Will his parting gift to the Church Militant be a ringing endorsement of the homoiousios? En pote hote ouk en?

By joining with Newman in this analysis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their office. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not using it. I am certainly not suggesting (and I do not believe) that this Suspense makes any difference whatsoever to the status or powers of the current occupant of the Roman See or of other bishops. Those who argue that PF has forfeited his See, or that his Election was for any reason void or voidable, are, in my judgement, talking piffle. (Quae sit huius verbi etymologia quaero. Num verbi 'pontificale'  depravatio est?)

I shall not consider comments which ignore the paragraph immediately above this.

Note: Newman is referring to Pope* Liberius; and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So ... not applicable to Vatican II!


John Hayes said...

Thank you for another most apposite blog, dear and reverend Father. May I chip in a short quotation from the penultimate paragraph of Blessed John Henry Newman's "Essay on Development" to give us all hope:

"She (the Church) pauses in her course, and almost suspends her functions; she rises again, and she is herself once more; all things are in their place and ready for action. Doctrine is where it was, and usage, and precedence, and principle, and policy..."

Banshee said...

Well, yeah. When St. Peter teaches the Magisterium that Jesus teaches, he is acting as leader and teacher of the Church.

When St. Peter denies Christ three times, or when he says maybe Gentiles do have to be circumcised, he is acting as a human sinner and/or idiot. It doesn't make him stop being Peter, or prove that Jesus never meant him to be said Rock. It just proves that he has free will to stop being God's agent and (after repentance) to start up again.

Papal infallibility does not destroy papal free will, anymore than it makes the Pope take showers or go jogging in some infallible way. The papal power of teaching doctrine according to the Magisterium depends on papal willingness to teach what Jesus teaches, just like it depends on papal willingness to open the mouth or reach for the pen.

(Although if you recall Pope St. John Paul II, one can have the willingness and ability to teach without being able to move anything.)

William Tighe said...

"and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils"

I would add, that he is referring to councils, some of which were intended as "ecumenical" by the emperors who summoned them (Hieria, 754; Ephesus, 449 - or the "Council in Trullo" of 691 or 692) - this after the term "ecumenical council" had taken on a less indefinite sense than previously (which in my view was not until the Council of Ephesus - the "third ecumenical council" - in 431) - but which Rome never accepted as such. Earlier, whatever the Council of Nicaea (325) was, or was taken for, the Emperor Constantine wished for his "Council of Tyre" in 335, his sons Constans and Constantius for their "Council of Serdica" in 343, and Constantius for all those (six or seven?) councils which he summoned in the 350s at such places as Sirmium - perhaps as many of four of them, in 347, 351 (the most significant), 357, and 358, although the last of these may have been a localized assembly - Seleucia, and Arminium. Rome never accepted these, also, although Pope Liberius compromised himself by accepting the Creed produced by one of the councils at Sirmium (which one, whether an explicitly Arian one, or one which omitted the term "homoousios" but which was otherwise anodynely orthodox, is unclear and a subject of historical dispute).

(Curiously, what we now accept as "the second ecumenical council," that of Constantinople in 381, was summoned only as a local synod by the Emperor Theodosius I with bishops from the regions of C'ple and Antioch [not the West, and not Egypt, although a group of Egyptian bishops turned up to do some troublemaking, but left when their attempts came to nothing]; in the East it became reckoned as "ecumenical" - probably on the basis of its Creed, our "Nicene Creed" (only the Armenians use the real "Creed of Nicaea") - but it "ecumenicity was denied by such popes as Damasus, Leo the Great, and Gelasius, until John II offhandedly accepted it as such in c. 534.)

Jesse said...

Reverendissime Pater: Exemplum in thesauro verborum linguae Anglicae Oxoniensi ex anno MDCCCXC allatum “usui scholarum studiis in generalibus” hoc verbum attribuit. Num professores pipilare putas?

Liam Ronan said...

I note that Pope Francis has announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for October 2019 on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America.

This assembly will convene in order to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America..."especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” Francis said.

Pope Francis continued that the assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

I have heard of the pearl of great price but never the lung of great importance. Some lungs are more inflated than others I surmise.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. Few are the residents of Tradistan (Rad Trad tm) who have taken the time to search for Liberius in Denzinger's "The Sources of Catholic Dogma,” specifically the entry between 57 c and 58 for this is what it reads:

St Liberius 352-366


As for Pope Saint Liberius (far be it from ABS to be provocative), here is what St Athanasius had to say about him after vouching for his orthodoxy (after identifying some trouble-makers, the irksome eunuchs)

History of the Arians, Part V

41. Lapse of Liberius

But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed. Yet even this only shows their violent conduct, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his support of Athanasius, so long as he was suffered to exercise a free choice. For that which men are forced by torture to do contrary to their first judgment, ought not to be considered the willing deed of those who are in fear, but rather of their tormentors. They however attempted everything in support of their heresy, while the people in every Church, preserving the faith which they had learned, waited for the return of their teachers, and condemned the Antichristian heresy, and all avoid it, as they would a serpent.

+++++++++++ end quote++++++++

Long, long, ago, in a Magisterium far, far, away, we had an orthodox Pope who succumbed after having been tortured and the great Saint rightly attributed his lapse to his tormenters - and, in the background, not surprisingly, there were irksome eunuchs who loused things up - whereas in a different Magisterium, which seems so far far out there, we have a Pope who tortures Tradition and who has epicene enablers who also defend the torture of Tradition.

One just has to keep plainly and persistently speaking the truth as he waits on The Lord.

Simple Simon said...

Fr.Hunwicke, heartfelt thanks once again for your courageous post. May I suggest a title for another post that you might be moved to write: ‘Hunwicke on the Suspense of the Functions of the Brain.’ For in order to embrace ‘The Francis Effect’ it is necessary to vaporise one’s intellect and press the delete button on one’s Catholic Memory. Disingenuous mendacity is the New Truth. The end game is nigh. Roll on.

BobBrookes said...

Thank you yet again for another erudite and honest post. It is difficult at this time in Church history to allay the anguish that faithful Catholics feel in the confusion that abounds. My great grandfather was received into the Church by Cardinal Newman and I also have a great love for him. For those who are fortunate to have have a good grounding in the Catholic Faith the confusion in the Church is bad enough, but one feels a genuine pain of the soul for those who are unable to reconcile the Faith they once beleived in with the apparent changes that seem to be accepted by the present Holy Father. May our Blessed Lord (Perhaps with the prompting of our Lady who we need to pray to more than ever at this time) open Pope Frances' heart to respond and confirm the whole world in the Faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Sorry. The Denzinger entry is after 57e

El Codo said...

Father. The real issue is that Traddies like yourself totally conflated the papal office with the Church under the glorious reign of Benedict. Now you reap the harvest. Blessed John,as ever so acute and apart from the crowd,made it completely clear, at great reputational risk to himself,that the Church was never the Pope.As he wrote about the Arian crisis,that perennial demonic seed,it was the faithful,not the hierarchy,who kept to the Deposit.May he be recognised as a Doctor of the Church.

Christopher Boegel said...

To be against the Catholic faith, is to be against Catholic tradition.

Christopher Boegel said...

Your statement reveals an utter ignorance of the record made by Fr. H on his blog.

You might think about just deleting it, since it makes no sense to say false things - whether unintentionally or not.

Woody said...

Dear Father, one of your fellow signatories to the Correctio, Msgr Antonio Livi (by the way, is he, or is he not, still a member of Opus Dei? One sees references both ways), appears to say, in an article in Italian, that the troubled faithful should stop reading everything that is reported in the press to have been said by the Pope, and just wait for something that may rise to the highest levels of authority.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Father like many of us you are against the use of Capital Punishment in modern states. As a lawyer my principal objection is that there are sometimes wrongful convictions which then cannot be put right if a person has been executed. Unfortunately the United States persists in the use of capital punishment contrary to these views. I suspect that Pope Francis, like many Argentinians, blames most ills upon the United States and this was another opportunity to have a go at them. How much more effective it would have been to explain why a modern state should not use capital punishment rather than claiming that such is always wrong. To my mind this is another example of an intemperate papacy speaking out without first thinking.

Not That Guy said...

Can you clarify: are you saying Vatican II was or want not an Ecumenical Council?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Newman condemned some general councils, such as the 'latrocinium', but clearly distinguished, with Bellarmine, between (on the one hand) councils which were general but not Ecumenical; and (on the other hand) Ecumenical Councils. So his condemnation of heretical councils has no application to Vatican II. I can't see what's unclear about that.

Not That Guy said...

I was unsure what you considered VII to be: merely a general council or an Ecumenical one. Thank you for clarifying.

Did VII teach heresy, in your view?

Woody said...

While still wondering as to the status of Msgr Antonio Livi, but suspecting that if he is still a member of the Work, he is feeling heat from the Vicar General, I might also attention once again to the Chieti declaration’s pronouncement on the requisite for an ecumenical Council (see no. 18).