15 September 2021

Some old friends ... Newman ... Dix ...

Near the beginning of the Preparatory Document on PF's planned 'Synod', we read " ... what steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow as a synodal Church? Addressing this question together requires listening to the Holy Spirit, who like the wind 'blows where it wills; you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes"(Jn 3:8), remaining open to the surprises that the Spirit will certainly prepare for us along the way."

Whoever drafted this ... presumably neither a Greats Man nor a Greats Woman ... appears not to have noticed that a Surprise is just that little bit less of a Surprise if we know that it is 'certainly' coming. Except, of course, within the rather mannered ritual logic of kiddies' pantomimes, the bright eternal homeland of Widow Twankey.

However, it would be unfair to suggest that PF has in any way changed his tune. He hasn't. In the template which he offered to his earlier synods which preceded Amoris laetitia, he wrote "The Synod is a protected space where the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks in the Synod through the language of all persons that allow themselves to be guided by the God that always surprises ..." 

Remarkable teaching. In formal and grammatical terms, it may resemble the Definition that the Successor of S Peter, speaking ex cathedra, is protected from teaching error. The big difference is that the Definition is embodied in the dogmatic and infallible teaching of a doctrinal Ecumenical Council, Vatican I. The novel and unconciliar claim now proposed by PF, that a papally convoked "Synod" which is not even claimed to be an Ecumenical Council enjoys the privilege of being preserved from error, is a claim which I, personally, totally repudiate. The very making of it arouses, moreover, the greatest suspicions in my mind (of course, I speak only for myself).

A century and a half ago, S John Henry Newman was prepared to consider the pressures which the ultrapapalist bullies of his own time ("an aggressive insolent faction") had brought to bear upon the Fathers of Vatican I; and, if necessary, he was even prepared to "determine that the [1870] Definition is not valid". (The measured good sense of the actual Definition spared our great Saint from having to take any such step; presciently, he suggested that the result of the 1870 definition might actually be to "limit the Pope's power".)

S John Henry was no fool, nor was he a coward.

A fortiori, I, merely a poor ignorant presbyter, living my Christian life under Newman's Patronage but speaking only for myself, am not going to be corralled into accepting whatever teaching PF claims to be able to extract from his 'synod'. It is quite simply not true that, in Catholic teaching, all Councils are deemed infallible. "Only some General Councils [a]re admitted as infallible ... Bellarmine gave a list of General Councils which had erred" (S John Henry Newman). The Latrocinium, and certain rather conciliarist sessions of Constance, will spring to mind. How much more fallible are these Bergoglian 'synods', which come upon us as thick and fast as the Number 12 buses over Westminster Bridge! 

I recall Dom Gregory Dix's remarks about Old Men in a Hurry. He was no fool, either.

Again to be personal ... I speak only for myself ... I deplore the endless and unscrupulous employment of phrases like "the Holy Spirit" and "the God of Surprises" as cheap pieces of Bergoglian stage machinery deployed to evade all and any obstacles to the pursuit of the Bergoglian programme of innovation.

I discern ... speaking again only for myself ... once more in the current documents, and I as deeply resent, the use of Bergoglian gobbledy gook to privilege innovation. If "the Spirit" is to Surprise us, why are PF's apparatchiks so sure that these Surprises will have to be new things? The possibility that the Surprises might involve or imply a faithful return to Tradition ... say, to liturgical Tradition ... does not feature in the published documents and appears to have been deftly excluded in advance by the crudities of Traditionis custodes. Yet ... surely ... that would be a very real Surprise. Imagine the expression on Andrea Grillo's face!

The Swiss Guard will undoubtedly be given strict orders as they take up their positions in their fortified machine-gun posts around the Santa Marta. Admission Tickets will need to be carefully scrutinised. Only very 'safe' voices can be trusted to enter PF's "Protected Spaces".

15 comments:

Matthew said...

One is reminded of the latest piece of managerialism on the part of the C of E -- something about only those who've come through a "sifting" process (who sifts the sifters?) being allowed to stand for election to official bodies. And of the Blairite/Cameronian "project", never defined but with which all right-minded people were of course in agreement.....

PM said...

The canonista who is to oversee the process brushed aside requests from journalists for a precise definition of synodality with a spectacular piece of waffle about creativity and discovery.

We really are being dragged 'forward' (i.e. back) to 1965-75: 'Roll up for the magical mystery tour'.

Unknown said...

"How long, O Lord, how long?"
cf. Psalm 6, 3; and Habakkuk 1, 2-4
KR

frjustin said...

"Why are PF's apparatchiks so sure that these Surprises will have to be new things?"
Indeed. The great surprise may be that the sensus fidelium will not accept any deviation from the depositum fidei.

Phil B said...

For being the God of surprises, He has been surprisingly predictable in this pontificate.

coradcorloquitur said...

You are on to the Bergoglian game of smoke and mirrors, of obfuscation and doublespeak, dear Father. Has the hallowed See of Peter ever seen such mendacity and ill will towards orthodox Catholics as we now witness, I wonder. I seriously doubt it. Next to the abuse perpetrated against truth and the Faith itself, the equally lamentable horror we are experiencing is the violence done to language---its facile debasement and crushing dullness---when put to the service of nefarious ends: "safe spaces," being open to "surprises," etc. ad nauseam. Has Peter ever spoken so sloppily and with such intentional lack of clarity? I doubt it. Kyrie eleison.

Fr Edward said...

But what of the 'Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity' that the clergy and those teaching in Pontifical Academies must take before ordination or assuming office? I'm thinking particularly of the addition made by John Paul II in his Motu Proprio 'Ad Tuendam Fedem' of 1998.

"Insuper religioso voluntatis et intellectus obsequio doctrinis adhaereo quas sive Romanus Pontifex sive Collegium Episcoporum enuntiant cum Magisterium authenticum exercent etsi non definitivo actu easdem proclamare intendant."

“Moreover I adhere with submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.”

I'm sure there's scope for debating 'obsequio' and 'authenticum' but still, it seems that it's pretty firmly secured, and I imagine definitely for the local and universal authorities.

Are we back at the Cardinal's desk?
I just don't know, and I am bothered by it.

Compton Pauncefoot said...

You are spot on Father, as ever.
How fortunate we are to have a pope whose views happen to chime so closely with those of the third Person of the Trinity. Or is it felt to be the other way around?
This cynical reduction of the Holy Spirit to the status of canned applause seems to me outright heresy.
In his memoirs the antiquarian and ghost story writer M.R. James refers intriguingly to a Victorian or Edwardian book entitled 'A Hundred Ways to Make Uncle Jump'.
I was thinking of tracking down a copy but, given the forthcoming Synod, I feel there is now no need.

Greyman 82 said...

Great post, Father Hunwicke. You eloquently and deftly dismantle and discredit the latest Bergoglian clap-trap. K.B.O.

Grant Milburn said...

This gives a new meaning to "Deus ex machina"; the machina being the Bergoglian stage machinery.
Definitely a sin against the second commandment.

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

This Yankee Cleric stands with his esteemed English brother.

Unknown said...

Dear Fr John. Ah, yes: 'The God of surprises!' - along with, or as opposed to, 'The God of faithful abiding'? And what about, 'The God of love'? Then there was the first female Bishop of the (Anglican) Diocese of Newcastle who chirped that 'ours is a God of surprises!' It makes ya think, doesn't it? Or does it just make ya want to reach for a bowl!
diolch yn fawr iawn, Tad
Fr Peter Jones

pdm said...

"The God that always surprises"
Two problems:
1) As we classicists would say, the verb here is being used *absolute*. Surprises whom?

2) Even leaving problem 1) aside, the claim still needs to be more explicit so that people can critique it rationally. I think the original idea behind the original phrase 'the God of surprises' was this: the Holy Spirit shakes each individual out of his complacent self-satisfied self-regarding habits of thought and action, so that an individual's growth in faith tends to involve a reassessment of himself and his priorities. This is a reasonable idea and a reasonable claim.

The problem arises if some then try to transfer the claim from individuals to the whole Church, thus claiming that the Holy Spirit is constantly creating radical reassessment and change with the Church as a whole. That claim may have some truth, but it is also problematic. For it may imply that God is a God of doctrinal surprises. But this would make no sense: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity; as such, he surely forms that diachronically stable and recognizable thing that we call the 'mind of the Church', and leads each man to agree with it.

Unknown said...

Another thought occurs.
"God of surprises": where does he come from?
Jesus Christ, "in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily" is "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever."
God of Miracles, yes, all of which are profoundly consistent with himself, past, present and future. God is not a man that he should change his mind.
But "God of Surprises" in this synodal sense, I do not see him anywhere in Holy Scripture, in spite of the wind.
(But we have seen and endured the whole theory fully worked out in "other ecclesial communities", have we not?)
KR

motuproprio said...

The God of Surprises is a capricious and arbitrary God, quite unlike the steadfast, constant and faithful God of the Old and New Testaments. There must be a doctoral thesis to be done exploring the origin of this fashionable trope.