27 October 2015

What if the Pope were to ...

People sometimes do me the honour of sharing their fears with me. May I make it clear that I would be very very very surprised indeed  ... very very very very surprised ... if not more so ... if the Holy Father were to contradict the doctrinal Magisterium of his predecessors. My advice, as always, is: DON'T PANIC!! Not now, not ever.

But I will offer a logical  reflection.

It is based on the widely accepted dogma that if you chop through the bough that you yourself are sitting on, something called Gravitation will draw you with increasing velocity in the general direction of Planet Earth.

If Pope Clement XXV were to rubbish the doctrinal Magisterium of Pope Innocent XXV, he would automatically and authoritatively imply the rubbishing of his own doctrinal Magisterium. Despite the fawning rhetoric we hear in each Pontificate (what Robert Mickens has suitably termed Papolatry), no pope has more doctrinal Magisterial authority than any previous pope. So what a pope says or implies about the authority of a previous pope, he ineluctably says or implies about his own.

If Pope Clement XXV contradicts a binding doctrinal proposition authoritatively taught by Pope Innocent XXV, he ipso facto and by virtue of the principle of non-contradiction teaches that doctrinal propositions he himself authoritatively puts forward have no binding authority.

If Clement XXV denies the binding force of doctrine taught in an Encyclical of Innocent XXV, he implicitly denies the binding force of doctrine taught in his own Encyclicals. Ditto, a motu proprio. Ditto, an Apostolic Constitution. Ditto, a post-Synodal Exhortation (such as Familiaris consortio; and Sacramentum Caritatis of 2007). Et cetera et cetera all along the line.

So nobody has anything to worry about. Just to put things at the most rock-bottom and earthy level: no pope in his right mind is going to be stupid enough to cut through the bough that he is himself sitting on. Pope Francis made this abundantly clear in his remarks about how, as a loyal Son of the Church, he had no authority to set aside the teaching of S John Paul II about the purported ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries.

And, just as no pope has any more doctrinal authority than any of his predecessors, so no pope has any more authority than his successors. Now: keep your eye on Archbishop Fernandez. He's one of our Holy Father's main buddies. He's one of these extremist ultrahyperultrapapalists I keep warning you about (he is on record as criticising Traditionalists on the ground that "they seem not to have faith in the special assistance of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised the Pope"; compare that with what Vatican I actually said about the exact, precise, limited reasons why the Holy Spirit was promised to the Successors of S Peter). This Fernandez chappie has revealed what he says is Papa Bergoglio's plan to make changes in the Church that will be "irreversible". But, believe me, prescinding from irreformable dogmatic definitions, what one pope does can be 'reversed' by a successor and often is. Clio shares this view.

The next pontificate may very well be as different from this one as this one is from the last one. Those who explain how much better this one is than the last one was will not be well placed logically to criticise the next one for being even better.

Three cheers for the best pontificate ever!!! 3x3 cheers for the next and even better one!!!


Fr PJM said...

If Pope Clement XXV, in his merely authentic teaching wanders from the truth, Innocent XXV teaching *bindingly* can correct him.

According to his Catechismo magiore, St Pius X taught that the Pope is infallible ONLY (soltanto) when he teaches ex cathedra, fulfilling the four conditions of Pastor aeternus.

TomG said...

Yes, Father, but creating, cultivating and perpetuating an environment in which "pastoral" practice is steadily allowed to undermine doctrine ....?

Highland Cathedral said...

I take it that what Pope Francis wrote in ‘Laudato Si’ about climate change is not binding on any future Pope. We’re already in big trouble as a result of what Pope Francis has said on the subject. I hope that it won’t be long before a future Pope apologises for what the Church has been saying on the subject.

Deacon Augustine said...

"no pope in his right mind is going to be stupid enough to cut through the bough that he is himself sitting on."

Agreed. However, "right mind" is the operative qualifier here. I have seldom come across a modernist who is in his right mind - the basic failure to grasp the law of non-contradiction being a common symptom of this fact.

Pulex said...

The next pontificate? Isn't this current pontificate the last one (according to St. Malachi's prophecy)?

DJR said...

Thank you, Father.

It is very weird that we, who are seeing the "bastions" of the past razed right and left, are hearing from the "razers" that the present pope is going to make changes that can never be undone and act as if he will live forever.

They never heard the cry, "The king is dead; long live the king"?

What are they going to do if, after demanding total obedience to every sneeze this pope issues, the next conclave gives us, say, Cardinal Burke as Pope Pius XIII? Or Pope John Paul III?

We will hear a different tune then?

Fr. Michael LaRue said...

"...no pope in his right mind is going to be stupid enough to cut through the bough that he is himself sitting on."

I hate to disagree with you Father, but if a pope decided to undermine the edifice of Catholic Doctrine, and to undermine and destroy the Church, that is exactly what he *would* do, knowing it would sow confusion and unbelief about the basis of that doctrine.

Liam Ronan said...

Well put as ever, Father. What is tragic, and ultimately terrifying, is that many Catholics are abysmally ignorant of the Faith and do not give a boo about theological precisions.

In this media-driven age of instant dissemination and Rohrschach analysis, the Pope is the fellow in white that the viewing audience sees on the BBC or SKY or France 24 and propounds what the presenters (editorialists all) declare to be the obvious truth of any Bergolian gambit.

I detect a sweaty urgency in this pastoral crowd that has foisted these jesuitical ambiguities of the recent Synod upon the Catholic and non-Catholic world, and given the shocking shrillness of the Bishop of Rome, a feverish obsession even now to pull off something dramatic for the god of Surprises.

So many souls at risk and, I fear, much worse yet to come.

The Saint Bede Studio said...

Thank you, Father, for these consolations. But are they based on the premise that an occupant of the See of Peter has the intelligence and is well-enough advised to understand that by undermining a Predecessor's magisterium he undermines his own? I suspect this is an optimistic view ...

Victoria said...

I have no doubt that Doctrine will not be changed but that practise certainly will be. There will be priests who will uphold Doctrine but in the name of "pastoral sensitivity" will give Holy Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried and to those who are actively homosexual. There will be bishops who will let their priests know that "pastoral sensitivity" is to be expected.

The official Doctrine of the Catholic Church will be more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

Unknown said...

Very good.

Tony V said...

At the risk of getting Fr H in trouble with whatever ecclesiastical inquisitor who, in the spirit of mercy, keeps a close eye on his combox: I think we're going to have to admit that the pope is at his most infallible when he keeps his mouth firmly shut. Vatican I may have tried to tightly circumscribe infallibility, but what we see these days is the inevitable result of 'infallibility creep'. And, to be honest, the 2 occasions popes explicitly evoked infallibility after Vatican I were to promulgate a couple of Marian doctrines which, while being very nice pious beliefs which, have created further oecumenical obstacles, and unnecessary ones at that.

If we can apologise to Gallileo, perhaps we can do the same to Döllinger.

Left-footer said...

Thank you, Father. I shall sleep better tonight.

God bless!

Jacobi said...

Another 2/3 Popes and a another Council to sort out the confusion.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@ Tony V

I do believe there has only been one ex-cathedra promulgation since Vatican I. What Pius XII was stating is that Our Lady had the capability of appearing to anyone: catholic, protestant, muslim or jew if God so willed and we shouldn't be therefore surprised if she did so. No ecumenical barrier there I would suggest.

Tony V said...

Sadie V: I was always taught that the one instance of 'infallible' papal declaration after Vatican I was the Assumption of Mary in 1950. I'm perfectly capable of believing that (I can believe six impossible things before breakfast), but it's hard not to call it an oecumenical problem. And is it really a critical doctrine, in the grand scheme of things?

To add to the problem: no one seems to know exactly what papal pronouncements prior to Vatican I were uttered infallibly (probably because prior to Vatican I the pope, poor thing, didn't know he was infallible).

Really, you're not a real traditionalist unless you challenge both Vatican councils. One, and you're just a lightweight.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@ Tony V

Point taken. V1 is difficult to assess as it was interrupted. V2 became a vehicle for American hegemony with West Germany acting as cover. A conceit which was clever enough to fool Evelyn Waugh. Councils and synods are complete nonsense. B16's resignation is the way forward: we all need to shut up and be quiet.