11 February 2019

Newman on the Suspense of the Functions of the Magisterium

Cardinal Mueller's magnificent Manifesto is an interesting document. Happily, it is bound to arouse amusing comments from the Usual Suspects ... the Robert Mickenses; the Austen Ivereighs; all the Silly Gang. (I wonder what that theological heavyweight Cupich will make of it?) I write 'happily' because we can do with the laughs. I pastorally counsel readers to laugh, rather than getting depressed. You have a duty to refuse to let PF and his cronies make you depressed. If nothing else works for you, you could resort to Alcohol. This morning's communication from the Wine Society speaks very well of the 2017 Rhones. Cointreau, lemon juice, and vodka make a classical thirties 'White Lady'. Praise to our Lady of Lourdes, our Lady of Victory!

Perhaps this could be worked up into a new branch of Pastoral Theology: what to take as an antidote to each species of heresy. A few simple recipes could be lodged permanently in every confessional for use in quantum possum et tu indiges.

As some of the Silly Gang have observed, it is undoubtedly true that there is one large apparent gap in His Eminence's Manifesto.

He does not mention the Petrine Ministry of the Roman Pontiff.

This is unusual in modern Catholic discourse. The sickly mawkish modern cult of the Bishop of Rome has for so long pushed the Witness of the Incarnate Word, the words of Scripture, the teaching of the Fathers, into the background. How often have you heard a semi-literate sermon in which "Pope Francis Says" is prominent, but never any hint is given of "Jesus Says"? So, if the Manifesto had no other value, that particular silence would be as refreshing as a glass of cold water on a sticky day.

But why?

Possibly the Cardinal agrees with the great Anglican theologian Eric Mascall that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not so much tell us something about the Christian Faith, as about the circumstances in which we might be told something about that Faith.

But I am convinced that, consciously or unconsciously, Gerhard Mueller has in mind the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman about the situation during the Arian crisis:

"... 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 ..."

It seems to me that the moment when PF decided not to aswer the Dubia of the four Cardinals was the formal, official moment ... the starting gun ... when the Petrine Ministry entered into its current "temporary suspense". When, likewise, he ignored the Filial Correction which some of us had sent him, he confirmed that Suspense. Thus we are officially in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are 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".

In a masterly address on Apostasy delivered a couple of years ago at Buckfast, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke spoke of "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!

And you will remember the Letter sent to PF by Fr Tom Weinandy. He wrote that a bishop who espoused heretical teaching "would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church  and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry."

If this pontificate lasts much longer, perhaps we shall need to unpick some of the implications of that last sentence. 

As if to confirm providentially the judgement of Mueller, Weinandy and others, a few days ago PF enacted a document which was not carelessly enunciated at the back of an airliner but, so he himself has told us, had been in his consideration for months. The Indifferentism so often condemned by his predecessors, so repugnant to the teaching of Holy Scripture, so insulting to the witness of  each and every Martyr, is now the teaching of a man who also, lamentably, holds the office of Bishop of Rome. 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. Fas est et ab hostibus doceri: never forget the chilling words of Fr Rosica, that this pope is free from the constraints of Scripture and Tradition.

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 until he gets to Tasmania. 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? Will his lips murmur En pote hote ouk en as they nail down the coffin?

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 offices. On the contrary. Precisely as Newman did, I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not at this moment using it.

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

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 nobody should try to apply these words to Vatican II, which was undoubtedly a 'valid' Ecumenical Council. Whether it always sought all the right answers to all the right questions in all the right places is, of course, another matter.


Ben of the Bayou said...

Troublesome times indeed, dear Father H. I am glad, however, that Schneider and Mueller have spoken up. May Our Immaculate Lady nerve the hearts of other Pontifical too.

Since you mentioned her in your post, and since it is her feast, would you comment on the Hymn at Lauds in the 1960 Breviarum Romanum? It has some very noteworthy passages, even especially the opening stanzas.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. Flat out smashing.

God Bless you.

ABS, of course, has one quibble he thinks of consequence.

In referring to LIberius, it profits us to remember he was tortured before submitting to the formula (if he even did sign some formula) and the great Saint Athanasius blamed those who tortured him and he praised Liberius for his orthodoxy in, History of The Arians (and, interestingly enough, amongst the influential and powerful subscribers to the heresy were those lacking masculinity, the eunuchs).

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.

Liberius, as the great clergy of Papa Stronsay have stressed, is a Saint…


In “The Sources of Catholic Dogma,” between # 57 c and #58, one reads St Liberius and one can then subsequently read Pope St Anastasius # 93 praising the orthodoxy of Liberius.

Sadly, many soi distant trads continue to denigrate and insult his great name in their pro-lefevbre polemics.

gw said...

What has Tasmania done to you?

T. Leo Rugiens said...

Thank you Father, this is a keeper.

John F. Kennedy said...

I think your timeline is a bit short. I think it ended, this date, in 2013.

The Flying Dutchman said...

Dear Father, I think you will find that a White Lady is more properly made with gin. Vodka only gained international fame after the Second World War, mainly because of very active advertising by Smirnoff.

Perhaps it is symbolic that the White Lady traditionally combines French and English ingredients?

Christopher Boegel said...

Here is an amusing manifestations of “the magisterial teaching” of the two most prominent spokesmen in Mr. Ivereigh’s “Team Bergoglio.”

We all know that Pope F has repeatedly appeared with Cardinal Kasper since 2013, always taking the opportunity to promote K’s “theology” work.

We also know that for at least 45 years, K has taught Catholic young people and seminarians that the miracle accounts testified by the Evangelists are “legends” (K’s book “Jesus the Christ,” 1974 ed, pp 90-91). K states that, for example, Jesus did not calm the sea; did not feed the 5000; was not Transfigured; and did not raise the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter or Lazarus. K allows that Jesus did “extraordinary acts” but these are not to be understood as divine supernatural actions...such notions are “theological nonsense” (p 95). K’s book was reissued in 2011 without change.

Flash forward to 2018: Pope F canonized Pope Paul VI.

In sum, since the triumph of Team F in 2013, we are all expected to:

A - cultivate our disbelief in the Evangelists when they testify that Jesus performed miracles; and...
B - simultaneously suspend our disbelief in miracles when Team F attributes 2 miracles to Pope Paul VI.

Too clever by half...chaps.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dead right. I always use gin. Can't think why I ...

Protasius said...

Dear Father,

the sedevacantists I occasionally talk to would regard anybody teaching heresy as having eo ipso lost his office. As justification for this view for example can. 188 no. 4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law and Leo XIII's encyclical Satis cognitum no. 9 are cited. The canon from the 1917 CIC declares that an office becomes vacant by the fact of public defect from the Catholic faith; the encyclical of Leo XIII takes recourse to the practice of the Church Fathers to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.

Since your article describes some bishops as heterodox and Newman seems to allude to similar occasions, on what grounds do Newman and you keep the assumption that a heterodox bishop's ministry is merely suspended instead of being lost?

Unknown said...

Thank you. One demur: I don't think Papal Infallibility is more about faithfully handing on the faith than its content.It is intrinsic to enabling Our Lord's divine "but I say to you" to continue down the ages - intrinsic to revealed, incarnational, religion. Ecclesial Infallibility (of which it is indeed only a part) is almost a Mark of the Church.

Top of p.22 here a relevant purple Newman passage. https://archive.org/details/a544055000newmuoft/page/21

Calvin Engime said...

I am very surprised at the news that there is a cult of Pope Liberius, since I always thought that he was known for being the first pope not to be remembered as a saint. If it will not cost me too much traditionalist street cred to cite the 2004 edition of the Martyrologium Romanum, I would observe that its index passes from St Liberianus, one of the students of St Justin Martyr who died with him, to St Libertinus, a bishop and martyr of the See of Agrigento in Sicily. Benedict XIV's Martyrologium has a St Liberius on 30 December, but he was a bishop of Ravenna, not of Rome. It is only the Eastern Orthodox who commemorate Pope Liberius on 27 August, which tends to make you wonder whether they have at some point mixed him up with St Lycerius (Latin Licerius), a 6th Century bishop of Couserans in Aquitaine. I would think the pope's honorific in the Enchiridion Symbolorum must be an erroneous supposition by the translator.

SilverDog said...

...and from another publication Robert Mickens of La Croix, ..."Nevertheless, there have been signs since the very beginning of his pontificate that the question is not if Francis will resign, but more likely when he will actually do so. And the reason is simple. He is anxious that Benedict's resignation does not go down in history as just another out-of-the-ordinary, once-in-every-several-hundred-years event. Instead, he wants it to become a precedent and something normal."...

Really? Two retired popes! Now what, I fear, yes really fear Father.

Our Lady of Undoer of Knots pray for us.

RichardT said...

What worries me, Father, is that the present situation seems to be even worse than the Arian crisis.

Arianism could just about be treated as a new question - the definitions were different to what had been decided on before - and it was a difficult question. Newman's explanation of the Magisterium being "suspended" seems reasonable; the bishops were trying to come up with an answer to a new question (and not making a very good job of it); the Pope did not exercise his teaching office to give a definitive answer. Even the contradictory decisions of various gatherings of bishops are understandable as part of the process of reaching an answer to a difficult question.

But the current situation is not that. Divorce and remarriage is not a new question; it is one that has been asked many times and (until now) consistently answered in the same way. It is not a new situation; people have been wanting to leave their spouses and take new ones for far more than Christianity's 2,000 years. It is not even a difficult question (although the answer may cause difficulties for some people).

This does not seem to be suspension of the Magisterium in the way that the Arian crisis was. This is not a confused process of groping towards the answer to a new, difficult question, with the Pope and bishops taking a long time to give a good answer. Instead what we are seeing now is many bishops contradicting well-established parts of the Faith, and the Pope seeming to encourage them. Not a suspension of the Magisterium but an assault on it. That is why I am worried.

John the Mad said...

One may quibble about "the moment" but at some point I reluctantly realized that I no can longer accept spiritual direction from this pope as he was promulgating heterodox views. For me it was the moment when he appeared to support communion for those in adulterous relationships contrary to the very words of Christ in Scripture. Now, I am more adamant than reluctant. The Bergolian valley of tears grows longer with every passing day. Virgin of Lourdes, whose feast we celebrate today, pray for us.

The personal psychological earthquake of rejecting a pope's authority has been offset by an increased reliance on Our Lord and Saviour. It is His Church, after all and he will prevail. Viva Christo Rey!

(I thank you for your suggestion of taking to drink. These are indeed perilous times. I had not thought of that approach. Lacking the necessary ingredients for a White Lady, I have substituted a double measure of Glenlivet with just a small tich of water to bring out the flavour. I trust the soothing effect will be similar.)

Mark said...

"Thus we are officially in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are 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"."

Given how PF is stacking the College of Cardinals, I wouldn't hold your breath.

It would not surprise me if PF is the last straw that pushes the Roman Catholic Church into permanent apostasy.

Trust that I pray that my suspicions prove unfounded.