19 January 2016

Pope Francis again, I'm afraid.

Like most readers, I rarely or never feel quite sure what our Holy Father actually means. Added to this is our natural inclination to treat with respect whatever a Roman Pontiff says (even when he speaks in a low Magisterial register). Accordingly, I am unwilling to join in the widespread criticisms of statements like his homily yesterday (Monday), in which he spoke about accepting new teaching, or 'surprises', from the Holy Spirit, 'new wine', and such things.

But I will remind you of something which we know we are bound to believe because it is the dogmatic teaching of an Ecumenical Council (Vatican I), worded with clarity.

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that, by his revelation, they might reveal new teaching,


                                                              so that, by his assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, or in other words, the Deposit of the Faith."

If Pope Francis, or any pope, were ever to teach contrary to that doctrinal statement, he would be teaching heresy. A pope is as subject to Catholic Doctrine as I am and you are.

It is therefore the duty of each of us to gloss his words with such a hermeneutic as to be able to read them as being not contrary to what was taught by Vatican I.  


Anonymous said...

Very funny!

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis says we mustn’t do things because “it’s always been done that way… habits must be renewed in the newness of the Spirit, in the surprises of God”. He’s made me understand that I’m in a rut so here’s a few (late) New Years Resolutions: I’ll stop going to Mass and Confession, and believing in Jesus. I’ll cancel my regular payments to the parish – I mean, “standing order!” it’s got repetitive, sinful obstinacy written all over it. I’ll stop boringly looking after my sick mother and I’ll stop going to work every day so I can buy food and pay my taxes. One good thing, though. The “wineskins” in my fridge never get much chance to get old so I’m in the clear there!

Long-Skirts said...


(“solemn nonsense”)

The one true bride, another Pope
The Catholic faith, it makes him mope
Another season, another reason
For makin’ newness

He says that God, He likes surprises
So make a mess, then he surmises
I’m really humble, I’d like to rumble
And make some newness

Picture the dome of Rome
Same-sex couples will dance and sing
A Synod of froth and foam
Think what a year can bring

He will not judge, tradition’s fudge
True Catholic souls, to outskirts budge
But he’s so humble, so do not grumble
You vill like newness!

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

Is that which Pope Francis is setting forth by way of his public teaching 'new teaching' or new revelation? While I agree we have a duty to gloss Francis words in the best possible light, to my mind we have a concomitant and equally grave duty to hold those words up to The Light in order to discern, for our own soul's sake, whether these teachings are consonant with the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church and the Sacred Scripture.

I do not believe we must forsake all of our God-given spiritual and mental faculties in order to deny that which is obvious.

Liam Ronan said...

I wonder if you, Father, or any other learned soul might be good enough to explain what "The Power of the Keys" (Matthew 16:19) might mean in respect of precisely what it is that a Pope might 'bind' and 'loose' on earth and in heaven.

Doctrine? Discipline? Scriptural interpretation?

Woody said...

Oy Vey!

Lepanto said...

I find that not knowing what the Pope means is quite soothing. It's when his meaning is crystal clear that I get depressed.

Jane E said...

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. Galatians 1:8

KaeseEs said...

The teaching of the first Vatican council on this matter seems to me to be an extension of what St. Paul taught in the first chapter of his letter to the Galatians, which incidentally was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw Vatican Radio's quotation of the Holy Father's most recent remarks from the Domus Sanctae Martae.

Gadfly said...

It seems to me that the pope is referring to custom, not tradition (if he was aiming his comments at tradionalists he should: a) Learn the distinction himself; b) Get to know traditionalists better).

Deacon Augustine said...

I am not in the habit of parsing the words of senile prelates. In the case of the Pope's speech on Monday, however, it should be noted that he did make a necessary distinction at the end of his "homily":

"May the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart, of a heart open to the voice of the Spirit, which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change in order to be able to receive the newness of the Spirit.”

If he had begun by making the proper distinctions, perhaps the homily might not have been so controversial. However, he does seem to seize every opportunity he can to sow confusion and discord. Was he a middle child?

El Codo said...

How sad that so many Catholics are closed off to the fructive work of the Spirit.Why dont they become Orthodox?

Liam Ronan said...

@ El Condo,

'Closed off' v 'Fructive'? There is something that strikes me about that contrast that suggests to me a theological laxative is being called for.

Victor said...

I don't know why the new wineskins are always used as argument against tradition (or customs). Nobody seems to bother reading the whole passage. It says there: "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of new wine to me...

Donna Bethell said...

Speaking apropos of almost nothing except wineskins, I was amused many years ago when the first clergy ladies appeared here in the US and they promptly clapped themselves into Roman collars. Hmmm.

Northeast Poster said...

Fr. Hunwicke,

Pope Francis speaks with clarity and precision when it is in regards to climate change. So, why can't he speak clearly on matters of Faith? The latter is intentional. I am not a child, and I will not pretend to be :unsure" of what he is saying. With all due respect to His Holiness, he has the capability to speak plainly at all times, and he often chooses not to do so.

I toyed with the notion of sedevacantism for a while, and I fully agree it is not a logical position. Pope Francis's papacy has pushed me fully to Orthodoxy. I am also not here to pick fights or promote that choice. I'm simply dismayed by the cowardice of Catholic media, the vast majority of clerics and the laity to stand up and halt the madness. The "Spirit of Vatican II" dominates the Church now, and I see no place for myself here.

God bless you and yours.

Liam Ronan said...

I must credit Pope Francis with having driven me to re-educate myself on the fundamentals of Catholic dogma and the works of the Fathers of the Church, i.e. back to Denzinger, Ott, et. al.

I also credit Francis' with expanding the width and breadth of my daily prayer intentions appended to my rosary, i.e. conversion of the Jews and Pagans, atheists, the Suffering Souls in Purgatory, the victims of abortion, homosexuals, etc. Were it not for Francis' clamorous silence on these matters I should not have been so keen to remember them specifically.

P├ętrus said...

Father, I agree that it is the duty of each of us to gloss his words with such a hermeneutic as to be able to read them as being not contrary to what was taught by Vatican I.

I regret to say that sometimes I find myself lacking in both intellect and knowledge to be able to do this. Though I do sincerely try.

Liam Ronan said...


Learn to gloss by following the Pope's example. He is adept at glossolalia I believe.

Victor said...

@Northeast Poster: are you saying that when Holy Mother Church needed you the most, you abandoned her? Because that's what you did, and that's who we are.