13 December 2016

"Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican": A FOOTNOTE

I wrote yesterday in criticism of the hypersuperueberpapalist nutters who, in their respective generations, have seemed to wish to assimilate the Roman Pontiff to one of the Persons of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity. Today, I wish very briefly to point out that this tendency, as well as being arguably blasphemous and idolatrous or at least heretical, is contrary to the Tradition of the Universal Church, and to that of the great and glorious Roman Church herself.

At Chalcedon, the Fathers greeted the Tome of S Leo, not with cries of "Christ himself has spoken" or "This is the utterance of the Holy Spirit", but (after carefully examining its text) Peter has spoken through Leo. This is profoundly in accordance with an Irenaean ecclesiology, whereby orthodoxy is witnessed by the identity of the teaching handed down from generation to generation in the particular churches, more especially in those of Apostolic foundation, and most normatively in the Roman Church. And this, of course, is why S Peter ... and very commonly S Paul ... are central to any account we give of the Ministry of the Roman Church within the Oikoumene. They are fontal to that Church's Tradition.

But Olivier Clement of the Institute of S Sergius in Paris has pointed out that Martyrdom adds a further element: "As martyrs - seized, that is to say, by the Resurrection - they are for ever present in Rome". Rome is the place "where the apostles (Peter and Paul) preside daily and where their blood renders constant testimony to the glory of God". And so the tropaia ton Apostolon, the presence of the enshrined bodies of Ss Peter and Paul, guarantee for Theodoret of Cyrrhus that "Rome is the metropolis of Religion".

When, in more recent times, Roman Pontiffs have defined dogma ex cathedra, they have prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before doing so; but they have not boldly claimed to be mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit or to speak upon His inspiration. Even today, when a Pope canonises, he does so auctoritate Domini nostri Iesu Christi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra; when at Easter the Indulgence is proclaimed, it is the authority of the Apostles Peter and Paul that is mentioned.

Does this matter? After all, a Pope could proclaim nonsense and try to cloak it with talk about being Peter's Successor. Wouldn't that be as bad as all Bergoglio's talk about the Holy Spirit?

I think it does matter, and does make a great deal of difference. Faithfulness to the Didache Petrou, to the freedom guaranteed by the Petrine Ministry, keeps Peter's Successor, and us, safe in the historical and objective realities of Scripture and Tradition, and (let's dare to be down to earth about this) the unavoidable Textuality of each. On the other hand, claims to the inspiration of "the Holy Spirit", unverifiable by objective constraints and controls, can lure us into the servitude of a religion manufactured by man, a cult of Let's Make It Up For Ourselves. This cult is ultimately fashioned upon the model of the old religion of the Gnostics, who created their own fake alternatives to the Tradition received from the Apostles because they felt they knew with such certainty that the Church's Tradition was wrong.

To employ the terminology currently being encouraged by the Enemy himself, it is better to be 'Rigid' in the Faith once for all delivered, than to be led up the infinitely flexible garden path.

Believe me, we do not need some new and horrible dogma that the voice of Bergoglio is the voice of the Holy Spirit. For two millennia, Roman Pontiffs, in harmony with Churches of the East and of the West, have been content with the notion that Ss Peter and Paul are sub Christo the basis of their authority. And the First Vatican Council put this beyond denial when it infallibly defined that the Holy Spirit does not inspire the Pope to teach new doctrine; the claim made by the church's authentic Magisterium is that He helps the Successors of S Peter to guard the Apostolic Tradition, the Depositum Fidei.

What Roman Pontiffs, in communion with the whole Body of Christ, have through so many centuries taught, I know or I can ascertain. Who, or what, Bergoglio's "God of surprises", the "Spirit" his sycophants so enthusiastically endorse, is, I fearfully confess that I do not know.


scotchlil said...

Bravo, Father! Exactly what needs to be said, time and time again, about the objective reality of revelation. There have been so many foolish statements recently about the 'primacy of conscience' - here (especially in your 6th paragraph) you remind us that our consciences have to be formed - re-formed - by revealed truth. Thank you!

John Fisher said...

"A cult of Let's Make It Up For Ourselves." Right on the mark and covered by a claim the Holy Spirit did it not me! This is what we have endured and it has been going on increasingly since the time of Pius XII and the Easter liturgical deforms with Bugnini flexing and testing his influence. remember Bugnini censored doctrine as it was contained in the liturgy which we had received in organic continuity from the time of Peter and Paul. The claim when a bishop or pope thinks God thinks or the other way around is an idolatry.
Frank the potty mouth pope is a walking contradiction and now he has POWER he will use it to push what he thinks because God thinks it!
My Grandmother who converted from Anglicanism in the 1930's used to say she had returned to the original Church of the apostles. Yet haven't we under the overclaiming papacy lost so much of that liturgical/ doctrinal continuity. Frank the hippie Pope thinks he had some divine mandate to utter filth and his syncretistic version of Catholicism. No wonder Christianity in South America has achieved little in producing truly Christian societies!

Cherub said...

Father, you courageously say things that really need to be said. What a shame that ultramontanism, albeit in a slightly different guise, still persists. Thank you for your posts.

Unknown said...

Father, all this talk of the Holy Spirit as effecting the results of the two Synods on the family and A.L. brings back very bad memories of when the Anglican Church of Canada claimed the Holy Spirit acted upon its own synod. My discomfort with these claims, especially insofar as they authorized unorthodox decisions on human sexuality helped me put the Anglican Church behind me.

Whenever someone claims the Holy Spirit acted in a way that requires broad acceptance of some radical new idea, I cringe. The Holy Spirit does indeed work on us, but why is it that so many claims seem to arise that align the Holy Spirit with modern concepts of political liberalism?

Do people not see that the social and political changes of the 20th and 21st Century are indeed innovations, and they directly contradict the accepted wisdom of the ages (where, presumably, the Holy Spirit also acted upon the world)? Are people today somehow more just, or more in tune with God? Just sayin...

mark wauck said...

As footnotes go, fairly magisterial.

Jesse said...

Who was it who quipped that this new Holy Spirit does things the Holy Ghost would never do?

Leo Bass said...

As a former Mormon, I whole-heartedly agree.

Fr. VF said...

The word "conscience" should be banned. It has never been defined as a distinct faculty. It is a name for the intellect when engaged in a certain type of judgment--what ought to be done.

Especially since Humanae Vitae, the understanding of "conscience" in Catholic journalism, and statements by bishops, etc., is clearly derived from animated cartoons--where the angel cat on one shoulder argues with the devil cat on the other shoulder about eating the adorable canary.

The intellect, whether in those moments when it is functioning as a "conscience," or at all other times, makes judgments. These are true or false. When the intellect judges that the Catholic Church teaches a falsehood, the person to whom it belongs exits the Church. Any statement by any hierarch that makes an issue of the "conscience," instead of simply stating the moral truth taught by the Church, is a deliberate attempt to squirt a cloud of ink into the discussion.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

"The Holy Spirit told me" is not a sign of afflatus but, rather, of psychosis and that is easy proved in these United States when one hears men such as Glenn Beck (Mormon) and the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart or Benny Hinn making such claims.

Deacon Augustine said...

These wild claims that The Holy Ghost is behind the outcome of the Synods (which are not even supposed to possess magisterial authority), the writing of AL and its ensuing confusion, and every word of the Pope himself are redolent of Charismatic prayer meetings. In a former life I attended many of these where somebody who believed that they had received a "word" or a "prophecy" from the Lord would stand up and say: "The Holy Spirit says,...."

They could come out with the most amazing tosh which flatly contradicted Scripture or the teaching of the Church, but people were expected to go along with it otherwise they would be "resisting the Spirit." It is a very effective way of manipulating gullible people into doing what you want, or believing what you want them to believe. "The Holy Spirit told us to bring our children up as non-denominational Christians rather than Catholics." and "The Holy Spirit told us that going to any Christian service was OK - it doesn't have to be Mass." are just two examples I have heard which come to mind.

I hope I will always be too careful to claim definitive inspiration from the Holy Ghost for things I have done or said, because it strikes me that if you claim His inspiration for something which is erroneous or sinful, then this is blaspheming the Holy Ghost - from which there is no way back. However right the supporters of AL think it is, they are treading on very dangerous ground claiming that the Holy Ghost is behind ambiguity and its authors.

Peter said...

Father, I suspect that you do not read The Guardian and so may have missed this story. It is the final sentence that may apply to certain clergy.
So who’s to blame? Well, May, clearly, for buying these hellish trousers, and for, allegedly, then being so petty. Who’d have thought a woman could be so loose in her trousers and so tight in her arse? Take a tip from your trousers, Theresa, and loosen up. But Morgan is at least as culpable for having got on her leather high horse and honked on about how much the trousers cost, and how she’s clearly the better person because she weaves her clothes out of the hair of Loughborough peasants, or something. To paraphrase George Michael, sometimes the clothes do not make the Tory MP. But sneering at and squabbling about them does tend to reveal the person beneath.

Mary Kay said...

Thank you, dear Fr. from your friend Mrs. Jones in the NW US (we met in Gardone). I am so happy to read your strong, convincing post. I know it will bring conviction to many.

Joshua said...

A friend confessed that to his mind the choice is between Catholicism - and nihilism.

Another friend agreed, and the same strikes me forcibly: either it's all true, or nothing is.

If the Papacy and its Church proves itself fallen into self-contradiction, and yet remains too pridefully self-satisfied, smugly unaware or knavish to admit the plain fact, then it is a false religion, and not only false but dumb.

This fear is a terrible temptation against the Holy Faith, and I pray to be kept from falling prey to it.

As it is, the voice of temptation redoubles its insinuations in every mortal breast, slyly and suavely insisting that nothing really matters, so we had all better enjoy ourselves since our end is annihilation anyway.

When will His Holiness WAKE UP and realise that he is endangering countless souls for whom Christ died, raining brimstone upon them, far from filling them brimful of his own invented fearful mercy, by leading us into temptation and delivering us up to evil?

Of your charity, dear Father, could you help a failing and fallen people this Advent by giving us yet more teaching about how to avoid despair?

Sadie Vacantist said...

The present expectations of the papacy are over inflated by all parties. If the World has descended into paganism there is not much any Pope can do.

Anonymous said...

@ Sadie Vacantist, you say: The present expectations of the papacy are over inflated by all parties. If the World has descended into paganism there is not much any Pope can do.

I respectfully disagree that there is not much any Pope can do. Any Pope, including our current Holy Father, can uphold and not only uphold, but hold high the Magisterium which is a beacon for any struggling person, who seeks TRUTH.

That the World has descended into paganism, ... that was also the case in the time of Christ and onward. However, there are still people who, whether they know it or not, seek truth, - not the pablum - this current pontiff is promoting.

John R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sadie Vacantist said...


This Pope is "promoting" nothing of the sort. He has recently upheld the Church's unenforced instructions with regards the rejection of homosexuals from seminary formation. I regard the issue of pagan marriages a sideshow.

It seems that Catholics want it both ways: complaints about Vatican II and its aftermath then bizarrely claiming that pagan marriages conducted during this blighted period are somehow sacrosanct.

It makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

the garden path to which you refer Father is it made of crazy paving?

Nicolas Bellord said...

The garden path: I cannot give enough praise to Cardinal Sarah's "La Force du Silence". This morning I read his paragraph 135 which starts with a long quotation from Newman's Grammar of Assent on how silence is essential if we want to hear the Holy Spirit and how priests who talk too much are mere envelopes without a soul. Cardinal Sarah goes on to say we will not hear the Holy Spirit in the noise and agitations of this world. "Christ is certainly afflicted on seeing and hearing priests and bishops, who should guarantee the integrity of the teaching of the Gospel, multiplying their words and their writings which weaken the rigour of the Gospel by their affirmations which are purposely ambiguous and confused". He reminds us that he who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. He quotes Thomas Aquinas saying that if we are searching just follow Christ and that it is better to stumble along behind Christ rather than run off on some divergent garden path.