Mgr Pinto, Dean of the Roman Rota, claimed last year that "The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects this sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Church's shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis". There had, you will recall, just been a "synod" at which some of the Synodal Fathers had, er, actually started shouting! Good gracious me! Shouting, when the Spirit Himself was just the other side of that microphone! Naughty! Naughty!
Oh dear, I thought. Here we go again. Here it is again, that dreadful old 1860s and 1960s-style maximalising view of the Papacy ... against which both Newman and Ratzinger in turn, in their respective contexts, wrote so sensibly. Wasn't it that daft Wilfrid Ward who wanted to have a new papal pronouncement to read as he ate his breakfast egg each morning? What a mercy for the poor chap that he didn't live in the Age of the Domus Sanctae Marthae Papacy. He would soon have grown sick of his breakfast eggs.
Of course, the Holy Father himself would not subscribe to this preposterous sententia Pintiana.
But I do sometimes feel a trifle nervous that his modes of expression could, by a critic less favourable than myself, be misread as Pintian. What generates this uneasy apprehension is incessant talk about the Spirit which links Him with a Newness which seems to be involved in unspecified but explosive changes in the Church's settled Doctrine and Praxis.
"... they were closed off to these signs of the Spirit and resisted the Spirit. They were seeking to justify this resistance with a so-called fidelity to the Law, that is, to the letter of the Law".
(Interesting stuff. "Letter of the Law!" Indeed! We've just had a Rescriptum ex audientia which declares that the erection by a diocesan bishop of an Institute of Religion will be invalid if the Bishop has not consulted the Congregation for Religious. So ... if a Bishop ignored this Rescriptum and ignored the Congregation and just went ahead on his own, Bergoglio would pat him on the head and praise him for ignoring the letter of the Law? Hold him up to the world as a splendid example of being Surprised by the Spirit? Do you really think so?)
"Being docile to the Spirit, this docility is the Yes that the Spirit may act and move forward to build up the Church ... instruments of the Spirit so that the church can move forward ..." [Homily of 14/04/2016]
"The sin is a closed heart that does not hear the voice of the Lord, that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us ... the sin of divination ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry ... obstinacy is the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry ... the sin of idolatry ... the newness of the Spirit ... " [Homily of 18/01/2016].
In my more depressed moments, I feel uneasy about how to reconcile all this frantic, angry, aggressive, obsessive, repetitive, rhetoric with the calm and wise words of the First Vatican Council, which so admirably and so tersely described the essential and vital, but limited, role of the Roman Pontiff:
"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might make new teaching public, but so that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith"!!