10 July 2022

The Pontificate of Pius XII

Fr Eric Mascall interestingly pointed out that the article 'POPE' in Addis's and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary did at one point in its history ... mutate. Here is a passage from the edition of 1905:

It must not be supposed for a moment that the Pope is an absolute monarch. He cannot ... annul the constitution of the Church ordained by Christ. His power of definition is limited by a multitude of previous definitions due to his predecessors, to the councils, to the ordinary exercise of the Church's magisterium through the pastors united to the Holy See. If the Pope obstinately rejected an article of faith which had already been proposed by the Church, and to which the Pope owes allegiance as much as the simplest of the faithful, he might be judged and replaced. 'It has always been maintained', says F. Ryder ... 'that for heresy the Church may judge the Pope, because, as most maintain, by heresy he ceases to be pope'. Bellarmine and Turrecremata maintain that he would cease to be Pope ipso facto; Cajetan and John of St Thomas require formal deposition.

The last three sentences, which I have rendered into italic type, were omitted by the 1951 edition.

Apparently, this passage gave no offence, seemed in no way problematic, in the quarter-century after Vatican I had, under the presidency of B Pio Nono, defined the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his Infallibility. It is interesting to note that it had become too dangerous ... or tactless? ... to reprint it in the pontificate of Pius XII.

It is sometimes felt that the 'problem' of the Papacy has something to do with the Decrees of Vatican I. I have never believed this to be so. It was in the middle of the twentieth century, under Pius XII, that inflated views of the Papacy reached a dangerous pitch. And, as Joseph Ratzinger pointed out, it was in the years after the Council that the erroneous view spread that "a pope could do anything". And now, under Papa Bergoglio, the disease has become even more acute.


Arthur H. said...

Thank you, Father, for this insight. Could it be that this sense that the Pope could do anything was used against a hapless Pope Paul VI and the rest of the Church to introduce the NO and the priest facing the people?

I recall that Sunday as a teenager, there was stunned silence, and afterward, nobody talked about it, not at home, or among my classmates or teachers at high school.

The insight I had the other day, is that this was an act of abuse. An insight fifty years after the fact. The experts say it often takes years for an abuse victim to admit to himself what exactly it was that happened to him, and to name it as abuse.

Do not misunderstand, I believe the NO Mass is valid, and I usually attend the NO at my parish, even though I am a TLM altarboy.

Could it be that this unspoken yet sensed act of abuse is what propelled so many priests and laity out of the Church? To compare and contrast this change to the Mass with the changes introduced by Cranmer to the church in England would be interesting, to include the theme of abuse against the people.

Alypius said...

The passage was gone by 1916. It is absent from the ninth edition published in that year: https://archive.org/details/catholicdictiona00addi/page/n9/mode/2up

So it was removed well after Vatican I, but well before Pius XII, probably during the reaction against modernism I'd bet.

Nick said...

I recommend "The Banished Heart" by Geoffrey Hull. Inflated views of the papacy existed long before Pius XII and really took off after Vatican I. Pius IX supposedly discouraged such absolutist ideas, but then would do the exact opposite in his actions.
As Melkite Patriarch Gregory II Youssef said on Pastor Aeternus:
“The Eastern Church attributes to the pope the most complete and highest power, however in a manner where the fullness and primacy are in harmony with the rights of the patriarchal sees. This is why, in virtue of and ancient right founded on customs, the Roman Pontiffs did not, except in very significant cases, exercise over these sees the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction that we are asked now to define without any exception. This definition would completely destroy the constitution of the entire Greek church. That is why my conscience as a pastor refuses to accept this constitution.”